How Did the Anglo-Zulu War Start And Why? And a little-known battle.
To understand anything about the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, you have to get into the mindset of the senior players in Natal and the British government of the time.
It's fair to say orders given were disobeyed, and also you have to understand that the men out there at the time were given free rein to do what they thought was best for the British Empire. That also goes for the men in other parts of the large Empire. The men chosen to represent Britain were ruthless in doing what they thought was best for Britain
First, let's look at the players in this Game of Thrones in Southern Africa and back home in the UK
For the Zulu, we have King Cetshwayo a proud and mighty king of the Zulus. He was the son of King Mpande and half-nephew of the Zulu king Shaka. Shaka was one of the most ruthless of all the Kings of the Zulus. He was also the King who reformed the Zulu structure and made them into what they were when King Cetshwayo took over, Cetshwayo himself could be ruthless. King Mpande wanted his other son, Cetshwayo's younger brother Mbuyaz to be king and Cetshwayo was having none of it, he led his own army of Zulus against Mbuyazi and defeated and killed him along with five other brothers at the battle of Ndondakusuka in 1856.
For the British, we have Prime Minister Disraeli and his Tory government. Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, 4th earl of Carnarvon the British colonial secretary in 1877, Sir Michael Hicks Beach, the colonial secretary in the Cabinet, in 1878, and the villain of the story Sir Bartle Frere, the high commissioner for South Africa.
So what happened?
Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, 4th earl of Carnarvon the then British colonial secretary, sent Frere to the Cape Colony as governor and high commissioner in 1877 to carry out the planned Confederation of British South Africa and the Boer republics. When he landed at Cape Colony, Frere found the colony in turmoil. The colonists were unsympathetic to Carnarvon’s plans, and the Transvaal Boers, whose lands had just been annexed by the British, were leaning toward independence rather than a federation. Carnarvon’s resignation in January 1878 further weakened Frere’s position, and Frere did little to calm matters.
What was the British Government's position on this war?
Quite simply the Disraeli Government did not want a war. Everyone thinks that it was the British Government when had Empire went into the country's gung ho and started the wars. Nothing could be further from the truth and in this case Sir Michael Hicks Beach, the colonial secretary was very firm in what the Government wanted and it was not a war in Zulu land that they wanted. He wrote to Sir Bartle Frere saying “The fact is,” that matters in Eastern Europe and India… are so serious an aspect that we cannot now have a Zulu war in addition to other greater and too possible troubles”. He was of course referring to the Russian threat to Constantinople and Afghanistan –That was at the time Britain's priority.
Sir Bartle Frere stuck in South Africa was having none of it, but why? In one word ZULU.
Sir Bartle Frere became convinced that the Zulu were an obstacle to a federation. The Zulu were powerful. They tolerated the Europeans and traded with them, however, they had never been afraid to take them on and go to war with them if the Europeans stepped out of line, as the Boers found out to their cost.
You only have to look at what happened On 25 January 1838 when King Dingane met with Piet Retief leader of the Voortrekkers Great Trek. Retief started negotiations for land with the Zulu king, and Dingane even signed over land to them. When everyone was celebrating in the King's kraal the Zulus pounced on Retief, his son (Pieter Cornelis), men, and servants, about 100 people in total, and they were taken to a nearby ridge, kwaMatiwane, It was and still is known as Execution hill. The Zulus killed Retief’s entire party by clubbing them, and killed Retief last, so as to witness the deaths of his son and his comrades. Retief’s chest was sawn open and his heart and liver removed and brought to Dingane in a cloth. Their bodies were left on the KwaMatiwane hillside to be eaten by vultures and scavengers. Then as it was Dingane’s custom with his enemies. Dingane then directed the attack against the Voortrekker Laagars which plunged the migrant movement into temporary disarray and in total 534 men, women and children were killed. The Zulus were not people to be messed with. Piet Retief had upset Dingane by trying to take land permanently from the Zulu nation and deviously he had drawn all the leaders of the Voortrekkers into his capital and then executed them. His actions led to the battle of Blood River. Dingane lost that battle with the Boers, he lost around 3,000 men and two years later he was overthrown by Cetshwayo's father
In Bartle Frere’s mind, the powerful Zulu kingdom had to be suppressed. Then and only then with them out of the way would the plan work.
So Frere exaggerated the Zulu threat and, when the home government still refused to authorise a war, took matters into his own hands in December 1878 by presenting the Zulu king, Cetshwayo, with an unacceptable ultimatum.
It demanded, among other things, the disbandment of the Zulu army and the acceptance of a British resident. Frere knew that Cetshwayo could not comply with such harsh demands and keep his throne. He was bound to resist, which is what Frere wanted him to do. Cetshwayo asked for more time to discuss the demands with his council, but Frere would not give him any. On 11 January 1879, the day after the expiry of the 30-day ultimatum, Lord Chelmsford’s No 3 Column splashed across the Buffalo River at Rorke’s Drift and entered Zululand. Frere’s war had begun, and the British Government 4, 472 miles away were powerless to stop it, Frere knew it would be and it's why he did what he did.
Unfortunately for Sir Bartle Frere and for the British Army and Navy in general he had underestimated what the Zulu nation was capable of, and on 22 January 1879, they found out when three battles were fought where the Zulus hit the British hard and sapped their morale.
The Three battles that day were as follows
The first two most people have heard about, Nyezane not so much, probably because it was overshadowed first by the Isandlwana massacre and then the heroic defence at Rorke's Drift, which is a shame because it's now mainly been forgotten about and the soldiers who fought in the battle have not received the accolades they so richly deserved.
Most people only think only one column under Lord Chelmsford invaded Zululand, however, there were three. It so happened that the one Lord Chelmsford was with, was the main thrust into Zululand and which was the centre column and the one that suffered the massacre. Lord Chelmsford's column was supported on its flanks by the Left and Right Columns.
The latter, also known as the Coastal Column, was under the command of Charles Pearson who was also the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Regiment (The Buffs). He, like his regiment, had a reputation for steadiness and reliability. His invasion command was formidable and consisted of over 400 men of his Regiment and 160 of the 99th (Duke of Edinburgh’s Lanarkshire) Regiment. He was accompanied by a strong contingent of Royal Engineers numbering 90 which was augmented by 60 men of the Natal Native Pioneers. The Royal Artillery's presence was two seven-pound guns which were operated by 22 men. The two battalions of the 2nd Regiment Natal Native Contingent supplied the largest number, 1,655 officers and men. The eyes of the Column were drawn from 115 Mounted Infantry and 117 Colonial troopers. Crucially, he had been given the Naval Landing Brigade from HMS Active numbering 138 sailors and marines. Crucially, he had been given the Naval Landing Brigade from HMS Active numbering 138 sailors and marines. Their firepower included two seven-pound guns, a rocket battery and a Gatling gun. This contingent of Blue Jackets, together with the Buffs, gave a strong backbone to Pearson’s command. Suffice it to say, that progress was slow, hampered by the inclement weather, a quagmire of a track and the many rivers and flooded dongas that had to be forded. Apart from several false alarms initiated by the “green” soldiers of the 99th, there had been no sign of the Zulus.
This was about to change
On the 21st of January, Pearson learned that about four to five thousand warriors were assembled at the royal homestead (ikhanda) at Gingindlovu. Detaching two companies of the Buffs, most of the Naval Brigade, his artillery, some mounted men and a couple of companies of NNC, Pearson sent them to verify the rumour. In fact, the impressive ikhanda was deserted, although, as they were soon to discover, the Zulus were not that far away. Pausing only for some target practice, which left the ikhanda in flames, the detachment returned to the main column. The activities of the column kept the Zulus at a distance which forced them to bring forward their original plan to attack the column. After dark, the Zulu impi, which had gained in numbers since leaving Ulundi and now had a strength of six thousand, reached the still-smouldering ikhanda. From here they followed the detachment’s trail until they approached the British camp. The Zulus then withdrew, deciding that they were unable to launch a coordinated attack at night in unfamiliar terrain. Also, they may have been deterred by the sentries routinely calling to each other that all was well. They may have thought their presence had been detected.
At daybreak, it was discovered that the long grass surrounding the British camp had been flattened, but of the Zulus, there was no trace. After sending out mounted scouts, Pearson quickly had the column on the move and by 4.30 am. all were heading for the next obstacle, the Inyezane River,
four miles distant. The scouts crossed the river and followed a track until they came upon a fairly open area approximately half a mile from the river. Beyond this point, the track climbed up a spur leading to the crest of a ridge. Extending from this ridge and running parallel on either side of the track were two further spurs. The ravines between the three spurs were filled with tall man-concealing grass. A third of the way up the central spur was a grassy knoll situated to the right of the track. Also to the right and dominating the ridge was a dome-shaped hill known locally as ‘Wombane’. On the left of the track and near the summit, was a native homestead (umuzi).
Below is a modern photo of ‘Wombane’ where the Zulus were massed and streamed down from when the NNC tried to take the hill
This is the route that the NNC took to attack Wombane hill and where the Zulus came down after most of the NNC began to run away, at the time there was no road or dirt track
This is the little hill where Coker took his Gatling gun and fired it from to scatter the Zulus.
This, then, was the terrain that confronted Colonel Pearson as he joined Captain Percy Barrow, the officer commanding the mounted troops. (1) Because of the surrounding thick bush, it was with some reluctance that Pearson took Barrow’s advice to call a breakfast halt prior to the long climb to their destination at Eshowe. While the laborious task of bringing the wagons across the Inyezane was being undertaken, some of the mounted troops, who were not on vedette duty, took the opportunity to bathe in one of the small streams that flowed down from the heights. In the meantime, the first wagons had crossed the river and had halted at the open area at the base of the centre spur. At around 8.00 am. one of the vedettes reported to Barrow that a small party of Zulus had been seen gathering in the hills ahead. Barrow passed this information on to Colonel Pearson who immediately ordered the NNC to advance in order to drive the Zulus off. Led by Captain Fitzroy Hart, the NNC advanced up the track on the centre spur. A small party of Zulu scouts were seen moving on the skyline above, melting into the bush and then reappearing on the lower slopes of Wombane to the right of the British. The NNC left the track and crossed the ravine before emerging onto the lower reaches of Wombane hill. Hart got his command into some sort of order before advancing up the slope. The officers had no knowledge of their troops’ language and the inevitable confusion ensued. The natives were clearly aware of the Zulus hiding in the long grass ahead and tried to warn their officers. In turn, the officers could not understand their men’s reluctance to advance and tried to urge them on. One even brandished his sword and yelled “Baleka!” thinking it was Zulu for “Charge!”In fact, it means “Run!” The natives needed no further encouragement; they turned and ran back down the slope into the protection of the ravine. At the same time, hundreds of Zulus emerged from behind the crest of the hill and fired a ragged volley before charging down onto the retreating NNC. Some white officers and NCOs were rooted to the spot and tried to hold their ground but were quickly overrun and killed. Hart did not stay to be slaughtered and managed to get back to safety. Meanwhile, the sudden volley of gunfire and yells alerted the troops and the rest of the mounted men at the wagon park. Those who were bathing hastily dressed and rushed back towards the centre spur. The battle started to evolve with no set plan. The Zulu charge by their left horn was the premature attack of a carefully planned ambush although the centre and right horn were not yet in a position to pose an effective threat. The Mounted Volunteers quickly formed a firing line to the right of the track and fired into the left flank of the Zulu horn as they tried to work their way towards the wagons. Hart’s men started to emerge from the undergrowth of the ravine only to be met by “friendly fire” until they were identified. Pearson could see he was in a highly vulnerable position. His wagons were strung out for miles and the river was dividing his command. He was in no position to form an effective defence and his only course of action was to rush as many reinforcements forward as possible. Fortunately, he already had with him his artillery, the guns and men of the Naval Brigade and two companies of the Buffs. As they were getting into position, the men of the Royal Engineers, who had been working at the river crossing, joined the Mounted Volunteers on the firing line and helped keep the Zulus at bay. The seven-pound guns and rocket tubes were dragged up to the track to the grassy knoll which gave them an excellent field of fire. The rest of the Zulu impi now appeared on the ridge above. The centre descended to occupy the umuzi while the right horn tried to encircle the British left. All the time British reinforcements were arriving at the double. Men from the 99th and another company from the Buffs hurried forward, while those further back in the column speculated what was happening beyond the crossing. Pearson placed himself on the knoll with the artillery and his beloved Buffs; he then ordered both the Queen’s and Regimental colours to be unfurled. The Zulus on the right had gone to the ground and were putting down heavy fire, they were also crawling through the thick grass and getting closer to the defenders. Casualties were mounting and some officers directed a concentrated fire on those Zulu sharpshooters who were causing the most damage. One casualty was Colonel Pearson’s horse, which was badly wounded and had to be put down.
NOW the next bit of the battle makes a little bit of British history.
Remenber I mentioned a Gatling gun? The Gatling gun was still at the wagon having sustained damage to its limber pole. It was rapidly repaired and a nineteen-year-old Midshipman, Lewis Coker, had it rushed up the track to the knoll. This young man had the distinction of supervising the first use, by the British, of the machine gun in battle. Although it soon jammed, the minute-long burst of 300 rounds, at an area of the bush from which there had been particularly galling fire, neutralised this troublesome source and proved this weapon’s worth.
Photograph, Zulu War, 1879.
Although it did not automatically reload under its own power the Gatling gun is considered by many to be the first modern machine gun. The gun’s multiple rotating barrels were turned by a hand crank. Each barrel fired a shot, ejected its cartridge and then loaded a new round
The two in the photo were probably taken at the camp at Isandlwana before the battle. We know that Lord Chelmsford took two Gatling guns with him as he set out from Isandlwana that fateful day, he thought the Zulus were at Ulundi where he hoped he would win a decisive battle thus ending the war. As we know he was wrong.
However, getting back to nineteen-year-old Midshipman, Lewis Coker, and the battle that was taking place on the same day at Nyezane. I doubt Midshipman Coker would have realised that he was the first man in the British military to use the machine gun in a battle but using it he did to good effect until it jammed. Meanwhile, the artillery and rocket tubes began to concentrate their fire on the umazi where the massed warriors were causing serious problems for the men on the knoll. A chance hit on the umazi by one of the notoriously unpredictable rockets caused the Zulus to scatter but not to retreat.
Meanwhile, on the left, the few men of the Colonial Volunteers had effectively prevented the Zulu right horn from advancing far enough to affect the outcome of the battle. When they tried to advance by another route further to the left, they were met by fire from just eight men of the Natal Hussars who had been acting as a vedette before the fight. This limited action was enough to make the Zulus withdraw back beyond the ridge.
The British realised that the Zulu attack on their right had slackened and that the Zulus were slowly retreating back up Wombane. Pearson then agreed to allow the Naval Brigade, supported by a company of Buffs, to advance and clear the umazi of any remaining Zulus. Led by Commander Campbell, the ‘Blue Jackets’ tore up the centre spur with guns blazing and drove the Zulus from the umazi. The advance slowed as it met stiff resistance near the top of the ridge and several sailors were shot. The attack stalled about 100 yards from the summit with the Zulus firing not only from the ridge above but also from both flanks. Campbell requested reinforcements but, before they could arrive, he ordered his men to charge again. Yelling and with fixed cutlass bayonets, the sailors reached the summit and put the Zulus to flight. Up to this point, the Zulus considered that they were winning until ‘those horrible men in the white trousers rushed up and showered lead on us they later said.’ The Naval Brigade and the Buffs, much to their annoyance, had not been able to keep up with the sailors and now moved to clear Wombane to their right. By now the Zulus had conceded defeat and were streaming away. The time was 9.30 am. and the battle lasted eighty minutes.
Unlike subsequent battles of the war, the mounted troops did not pursue and slaughter their vanquished foe. Instead, the Zulu wounded were given water and medical treatment. Prisoners had been taken and, after being questioned, were then released. However, after Isandlwana, this humane behaviour was abandoned. The greatest calamity to befall the British Army was only three hours and fifty miles away. With it came to a hardening of attitude towards the Zulus and there was an unofficial understanding that no prisoners were to be taken, and defeated warriors were thereafter to be hunted down and killed.
With the Zulus disappearing over the surrounding hills, the British counted the cost of the battle, ten of the NNC had been killed in the initial clash on Wombane and two privates of the Buffs died during the battle; twenty had been wounded, two of whom later died. A common grave was dug just below the knoll; the dead were buried and the spot was marked with a wooden cross. A body count was made of the Zulu dead, and some 400 were left where they fell. Many more had been wounded but had been carried from the battlefield. Amongst the Zulus, there was much recrimination. Their carefully prepared trap had been sprung with the premature attack by their left horn. The centre and right horns had not responded until later and had not given support. In fact, the right horn had shown an un-Zulu lack of resolve and the ambush had been quickly neutralised. This and the battle itself were all but forgotten and overshadowed by the events at Isandlwana. Colonel Pearson, however, had grounds for satisfaction at the way his men had behaved in this stiff little action. From potential disaster, the British had improvised a resounding victory, sadly to be overshadowed by Isandlwana. Having buried his dead and tended the wounded, Pearson was anxious to move on, not only to reach Eshowe but also to show the distant watching Zulus that they had not deflected the British advance. As the British column slowly ascended the escarpment towards Eshowe, the sun partially disappeared behind the moon bathing the land in a premature twilight, many soldiers thought it was a bad omen. This was the Solar Eclipse that bought darkness to the battlefield as the Zulu overran Isandlwana, indeed a bad omen
Where the dead were buried
What happened to these Game of Thrones players in Zululand?
Cetshwayo, was the man who lost everything somehow, throughout the sheer incompetence of the British in this war, a war that no one wanted, the British eventually won. He was captured after the battle of Ulundi and exiled to Cape Town. From there he was taken to London where he met Queen Victoria. He returned to Zululand in 1883 under the protection of the British. In 1883, the British government tried to restore Cetshwayo to rule at least part of his previous territory but the attempt failed because by 1883 civil war had broken out between Zulu factions. With the aid of Boer mercenaries, a Zulu Chief, Zibhebhu started a war contesting the succession and on 22 July 1883, he attacked Cetshwayo’inflicting a number of defeats. on 22 July 1883, he attacked Cetshwayo’s new Kraal wounding him and forcing him to flee to Nkandla. After pleas from the Resident Commissioner, Sir Melmoth Osborne, Cetshwayo moved to Eshowe. where he died a few months later on 8 February 1884, aged 57–60, presumably from a heart attack, although there are some theories that he may have been poisoned.
Henry Bartle Frere
Well what can be said of this man, he was in my opinion a walking disaster.
The invasion of Zululand was just the start of the trouble he caused in that part of Africa.
That invasion which lasted just six months and caused thousands of deaths were the cause of the First Boer War a decade later and in between both those wars the Basuto Gun War.
Frere deliberately timed his letters to the Government at Westminster to arrive after the Invasion, knowing full well that once the invasion had started the Government would have no choice but to back him and the war. Eventually, In 1880 Frere was recalled to London by the Gladstone Government to face charges of misconduct. Upon his return, Frere replied to the charges relating to his conduct with regard to both Afghanistan and as well as South Africa, previously referred to in Gladstone’s Midlothian speeches, however as he was preparing a fuller vindication he died on 29 May 1884
Frederic Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford
I find this man much maligned. He was, in fact, quite a competent soldier, starting out his military career by buying his commission In 1844 after being turned down by the Grenadier Guards he joined the Rifle Brigade and was sent to Canada. He then purchased an exchange in November 1845 into the Grenadiers as an ensign and lieutenant. In May 1855, he was sent to Crimea. He became deputy assistant quartermaster general from November 1855 on the staff at Headquarters, being promoted to brevet major. He was Mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the fifth class of the Turkish Order of the Medjidie for outstanding services to the state by foreign nationals.
He was then sent to India and fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 where again he was mentioned in dispatches. It was while he was in India he met and became good friends with Sir Henry Bartle Frere. This friendship would become an interesting friendship some years later in South Africa.
He was promoted to major general in March 1877 and appointed to command British forces in the Cape Colony with the local rank of lieutenant general in February 1878, He had requested a posting overseas in order to benefit from the cheaper cost of living, in October succeeded his father as 2nd Baron Chelmsford. One year later he crossed the river at Rorkes Drift into Zululand on Sir Henry Bartle Frere’s orders.
The rest is history, as they say, and a lot has been made of why he split his forces at Isandlwana. Well, the simple fact was he was outwitted by a very canny opponent who also had split his forces that day. Frederic Thesiger had sent out patrols and they had spotted a mass of Zulus. To my mind, he did the right thing. He thought they were the main Zulu army. Unfortunately, other scouting parties had missed spotting around 25,000 laying up a few miles from the main camp. That is hardly his fault, it just makes him a duped commanding officer. Also, he was not far off with his assumption either, The day before as I said he sent out patrols. In the photo above you can see the hills in the distance, They are around twelve miles away from Isandlwana and those are the hills where the patrols saw a large body of Zulus.
Now Dartnal who commanded the patrol sent a message back to Chelmsford saying he had spotted the Zulus, He received that message at 2 am and it fitted into what he was thinking, we now know where the Zulus are, he now thinks I will split my forces and take the more mobile to the enemy and fight them on my terms on MY chosen turf, not theirs and that is what he does, at 4 am they are off to fight the Zulu or so he thinks.
He leaves 1700 men in the camp with a further detachment of natives under the command of Durnford who are at Rorkes Drift to come to the camp at Isandlwana. It should have been more than enough to defend the camp if it came under attack. It was quite a rational thing to do because in his mind he knew where the Zulus were, if he did not move now he risked the Zulus moving to another position and he would have to find them again, so he did what he could only do at the time and move out with the more mobile of his men. He would live to regret that decision and those he left behind would die, all but 100 men who he left behind died and he was heard to say in a shocked voice when he got back to his encampment. BUT I LEFT OVER 1700 MEN, what has happened? He knew from that point his days were numbered in South Africa, when word got back to London recriminations would soon follow and he would be replaced. More disasters would follow in the months to come.
From my perspective, all the officers did not know how to handle the native Zulu. War in Europe was changing, however, nobody had told the Zulu, and they fought the old-fashioned way, what's more, there was a precedent set three years before in the US where another native contingent did the same thing to a certain American soldier whose name was Custer, unfortunately for Custer, he died unfortunately for Chelmsford he lived and had to think of a cover-up, which he did, He blamed Durnford and Pulleine the two senior officers and as we know dead men can't defend themselves. He was rebuked when he came home and never again commanded men in the field. He died playing billiards at his club in London.
Colonel Charles Pearson
Having repulsed the Zulu attack of 6,000 Zulus he and his men made their way a few more miles to a place called Eshowe which is the oldest European settlement in Zululand. By this time the battle at Isandlwana was now over, although he would not have even known there had been a battle let alone known the aftermath of it. His main objective was the Zululand capital of Ulundi. However, Charles Pearson now knows the whole of the countryside is swarming with Zulus and he knows he has had a very narrow escape if it not for the overwhelming firepower of his men events might have been different, but he is still 96K from Ulundi with no support, so to go on would have been seen as disastrous. Pearson does the only thing he can do in that position. He finds a higher position and digs in. He and his men actualy build a good defensive position, they clear the area, dig a ditch all around where they are and build a small fort. It's overgrown now but you can still see the remains of it. There is a cemetery where they buried the British soldiers who died there. It's always sad to see these kinds of graves many are overgrown, but the local people do their best to care for them, but apart from the battlefield tourists that are interested, no one else ever comes to them and some of them are not that easy to find.
Colonel Charles Pearson and his men were stuck here from 22 January until the first week of April. and Chelmsford had to fight a major battle at Gingindlovu to clear out the Zulu. This time Chelmsford decided the only way to fight the Zulu was to form a square an outdated manoeuver usually formed against Calvery charges
It worked by forming Square and with the firepower of the Gatling guns along with the artillery pieces and the sustained firepower of the men, Chelmsford broke the Zulu. He then unleashed the mounted men and they chased the Zulu for miles killing any they found. No prisoners were taken, and all the wounded were killed on the spot. There was to be no mercy whatsoever after what they had seen at Isandlwana and other smaller battles and Pearson himself sums up the mood in his journal of events.
We have so little grass to feed our cattle that we have to take them further afield under armed guard. I went with them one day and saw many Zulus. They kept their distance, but they shouted insults at us and ended with, you eat our Mealey today but tomorrow we drink your coffee. I wish to goodness they would try, they will get no quarter from us, and our battle cry will be remembered in the number three column. He was of course talking about his regiment at Isandlwana. and I long for nothing more than to lay this land to waste and sow this land with black bodies
This was from an officer who in the battle he had fought on Jan 22 had made sure the wounded Zulus had been patched up and sent on their way back to their families. So from this, you can see that hearts had hardened after Isandlwana, the Zulu showed no mercy, so be it there will be no mercy shown by the British.
Pearson went on to become a Lieutenant-general and was later knighted. He died on 2 October 1909.
What happened to Midshipman, Lewis Coker who was the first one in the British military to use a Gatling gun in battle?
Well, he was not so lucky, he was nineteen years of age and he was proud of the fact that he had used his Gatling gun to good effect. He was in charge of it and decided to sleep next to it every night while they were in the fort at Eshowe. The gun was positioned outside the fort and that's where he slept, not that it was much better inside the fort, but most of it was uncovered and disease and ailments soon took its toil. Midshipman, Lewis Cokersoon fell ill
He died from disease and is buried in the cemetery. Such a waste, he was a proudly dedicated sailor who knew what was expected of him, who knows how far he would have gone in the navy if he had lived? At nineteen years of age, he was already in charge of one of the Navy's newest weapons. The Gattling gun had a crew of four and could 1,500 rpm.
A few photos from Eshowe and Gingindlovu cemeterys
Eshowe military graveyard. Most of the soldiers and sailors died from Enteric Diseases. Enteric diseases are caused by micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause intestinal illness. These diseases most frequently result from consuming contaminated food or water and some can spread from person to person. which is not surprising in the cases at the fort at Eshowe as the water would have been contaminated, and the hygiene of the men preparing the food would not have been good, I doubt they could wash their hands with the little water they would have had and in 1879 they would not have had the antibiotics we have today.
As you can see better from this phot the graves are all on a slope
Lieutenant B. Evelyn, was with the 2/3rd regiment, the Buffs, he was 21 years old when he also succumbed to Enteric.
These five graves, have their own little plot, they are from left to right, front row, Private R. Marshall, 3/69th Rifles, centre, is Private J. Smith, of the 99th Regiment, right is, Private J. Pratt, 3/60th Rifles, back left is, Private J. Dunn of the 3rd Regiment and back right is, Private J. Lawrence, of the 99th Regiment. The single grave behind, is the collective, grave of five Black Auxiliaries.
I hope you have enjoyed my story. My next Story will be about another battle in the Zulu war. This one was fought on the heights of Hlobane. and a taster of where the battle was fought is in the following photos
The two photos are of where 20,000 Zulus came up from and trapped a large contingent of mounted British army
And this photo is of the only escape route that they could take. I am sure you can see the problem for men on horseback.