Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa
The Natal Battlefields
The 1879 AngloZulu War - Hlobane and Kambula
The Anglo Zulu War of 1879 - Hlobane and Kambula
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The battle of Isandlwana cost Lord Chelmsford his entire central column and all his supplies and a hundred more men died on March 12th when a convoy was surprised by the Zulus at the Intombi river.
Southern column was besieged by the Zulus in Eshowe and only the northern column retained mobility. The latter was ordered to create a diversion while the Eshowe garrison was relieved and Lt. Col. Redvers Buller, later of Boer War fame, decided on the 28th March 1879 to attack a troublesome Zulu clan from opposite sides on the top of a flat topped mountain called Hlobane.
A Surprise for the British
Driving the tribe's cattle before them, the soldiers were to meet at the midpoint and defeat the Zulus. Unbeknown to them however was the fact the the top of the mountain was bisected by a deep gully known as the Devil's Pass.
At the pass of course, the Zulu tribe attacked in force as the British attempted to negotiate it. Worse, the entire Zulu army of 25,000 was seen approaching the mountain at speed, whereupon the remaining British force fled, leaving those on the mountain to their fate. Many were slaughtered but a few, including Buller, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for assisting numbers of soldiers to escape, fled to the camp at Kambula.
This battle gave cause for both Brit and Boer to fight side by side. Voortrekker Piet Uys had both his brother and his father killed at the battle of Italeni and was keen to avenge their deaths. He formed a corps of volunteers that formed part of the British force. At Hlobane, Uys and some 100 of his burgers were killed by the Zulus. A memorial to him now stands in Utrecht.
The following day, the Zulus were goaded into attacking the fort by British cavalry riding up and firing into their ranks at point blank range. The Zulus then disobeyed commands not to attack a fortified position and attempted to overwhelm Kambula but failed with more than two thousand dead to the British toll of twenty nine. From that point, the Zulu army never recovered. The battlefields of Hlobane and Kambula remain as untouched today as they were 120 years ago.