A full-day tour of the famous Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift Battles, where the British saved the colours after a brave fight, awarding 11 Victoria Crosses to the courageous soldiers. You can relive historical battles of the past.
The Full-Day Excursion departs from Spion Kop Lodge for Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, site of the Anglo-Zulu Battle that took place on 22 January 1879.
The Battle at Isandlwana stunned the world. It was unthinkable that a ‘native’ army armed mostly with stabbing weapons, could defeat the troops of a western power armed with modern rifles and artillery.
Before news of the disaster reached Britain via telegraph, the Zulu War had just been another colonial brushfire war, similar to those that constantly simmered in many parts of the British Empire worldwide. The loss of approximately 1357 men transformed the British nation’s attitude to the war.
The Zulu War began in early January 1879 as a simple expansion campaign. British colonial officials and the commander-in-chief in South Africa, Lord Chelmsford, considered Cetshwayo’s independent Zulu Kingdom a threat to the British colony of Natal, with which it shared a long border along the Tugela River.
In December 1878, the British authorities delivered an ultimatum to the Zulu leader Cetshwayo to surrender a group of Zulus accused of murdering a party of British subjects. In the absence of a satisfactory response, Chelmsford attacked Zululand on 11th January 1879. Chelmsford’s previous wars in South Africa did not prepare him for the Zulus’ highly aggressive form of warfare.
22 January ,1879
Combatants: British infantry with Natal irregulars against Zulu warriors.
Commanders: The British garrison was commanded by Lieutenant John Chard, Royal Engineers, and Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead of the 24th Foot. Prince Dabulamanzi kaMapande, the King’s half-brother, commanded the Zulus.
Like Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift is an iconic battle for Britain, but for the reverse reason. After the disastrous and apparently inexplicable slaughter of its 1st Battalion, the 24th Foot, Bromhead’s B Company and the 2nd Battalion of the same regiment restored the prestige of the British military when they successfully defended the mission station, awarding 11 Victoria Crosses in the process.