Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa

The Natal Battlefields

The 1879 AngloZulu War - Fugitive's Drift

The remnants of the defeated British army at Isandlwana flee across the Buffalo river. The British regimental colours are lost.

The Anglo Zulu War of 1879 - Fugitive's Drift

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Flight from Isandlwana

Approximately 55 men survived the catastrophe at Isandlwana and were pursued by the Zulus into unknown territory westwards towards the British camp at Helpmekaar. Lt. Melvill was one of these, entrusted with the regimental colours.

He spotted another soldier clinging to a rock in the middle of the Buffalo River. Taking the colours with him, he plunged into the river only to find himself in the lee of the rock with the soldier under a hailstorm of assegais from the Zulus on the east bank.

Attempted Rescue

Another soldier, seeing the two others, attempted a rescue but also found himself behind the same rock. Deciding to make a break for it, the three were washed away and were deposited, exhausted further downstream. While searching for spare horses, the first soldier heard the other two killed by the Zulus.

The Regimental Colours are Lost

The regimental colours were lost. The battle was lost. The first soldier wearily made his way back to Headquarters to give his report.

Thirteen days after, a patrol discovered the bodies of Lts. Melvill and Coghill and buried them under a pile of stones at what forever after was known as "Fugitives' Drift". The next day, miraculously, the Queen's colours were found downstream.

Next: Rorke's Drift

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