The Zulu Wars Essay Research Paper The

The Zulu Wars Essay, Research Paper The Zulu Wars The people known today as Zulu are formed together about 165 years ago. Many independent clans combining, all of whom had lived in the eastern coastal parts of South Africa for centuries, formed them. The name “Zulu” itself was originally the name of one man whose descendants made up the Zulu clan.

The Zulu Wars Essay, Research Paper

The Zulu Wars

The people known today as Zulu are formed together about 165 years ago. Many independent clans combining, all of whom had lived in the eastern coastal parts of South Africa for centuries, formed them. The name “Zulu” itself was originally the name of one man whose descendants made up the Zulu clan. In 1816 this small clan gained a new ruler by the name of Shaka (Chaka). An expert militarist, he led the small Zulu clan in a conquest of his neighbors. The Zulu?s soon became a very powerful empire ruling over a vast amount of land and peoples.

The first white settlers came to Southern Africa in 1488 when the famous Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias around the southernmost tip of the continent of Africa. Starting at 1600, the English, the Dutch, and the French set up chartered companies to conduct trades in the East Indies. Of the three, only the Dutch formally set up a base in the region. The base became important as a halfway point to provide fresh food to ships traveling from Europe to the East. Over the years Dutch and German Settlers, and some French Protestant refugees, continued to arrive. From 1658 on, enslaved Africans were regularly imported. Society developed between free whites, which had civil rights, and enslaved Africans, who had very few rights. All of this did not go unnoticed by the many African groups, the Zulu?s included, and who occupied southern Africa.

In 1795, the British controlled the Cape of Good Hope. By then the white settlers, mostly Dutch, began to find an attachment to their newly settled/conquered land. They called themselves Afrikaner or Boer, meaning framer, and they had their own language (Afrikaans) derived from 17th Century Dutch. The colony’s frontiers had also extended, leading to much conflict with native African Khoisan and Bantu peoples. Five thousand settlers were brought out from Britain in 1820 and were given farms along the eastern frontier. Most, however, became townsmen, and traders. A few settled farther to the north in the land of the Zulu?s, which is now Durban.

Although their main army had not been defeated, the Zulu?s realized that their weapons and war tactics were no match for gunmen on horses. In 1840, his brother Mpande had overthrown Dingane. His son Cetshwayo succeeded Mpande in 1872. The British wished to control the Boer republics and decided to make the Zulu nation submit to British rule. They annexed the Transvaal in 1877, supporting false Boer land claims against the Zulu?s. This unfair treatment so angered Cetshwayo; he began to enlarge his army. A British commander arrived, demanding that the Zulu army be dismissed and that a British diplomat reside there to enforce British rule. Cetshwayo would not meet these demands and in January 1879, the British invaded the Zulu nation. Despite their use of spears against the British guns, the Zulu?s put up one of the greatest fights of resistance on the continent, stopping almost wiping out what was considered the greatest European army of the day. So fierce a resistance did the Zulu?s put up that even their enemies were forced to acknowledge their skills. Benjamin Disraeli said, “A remarkable people the Zulu. They defeat our generals, convert our bishops, and put an end to a great European dynasty.”

Unfortunately in July, the Zulu?s were defeated at Ulundi. Cetshwayo was exiled and his kingdom was divided into thirteen chiefdoms ruled by chiefs trusted by the British. The Zulu?s however did not accept them and rebellious wars continued. Cetshwayo even visited London and met Queen Victoria in 1822. Insisting to be treated as an equal monarch, he attracted large crowds wherever he went. Disdainful of the spectacle he told the Europeans who gawked at him, “I do not care to be made a show of. If English people have never seen a black man before I am sorry. I am not a wild beast; I did not come here to be looked at.” Cetshwayo was restored as ruler in 1883, but the troubles of his people did not end. Nevertheless, today Zulu?s recognize Zwelithini Goodwill, the descendant of Mpande and Cetshwayo, as their king, even though there is no longer an independent Zulu kingdom. The resistance that fueled the Zulu wars would remain to fight the new South Africa and its history of Apartheid.

Warrior-king of the Zulu, Shaka was born in 1787 to Senzangakona, a Zulu chieftain, and Nandi, an orphaned princess of the Langeni clan. At age six, Senzagakona and Nandi separated. Nandi took Shaka with her back to the Langeni. Around 1802, the Langeni drove Nandi and her son out and she found shelter with the Dletsheni, a subclan of the Mtetwa. When Shaka was 23, Dingiswayo, the Mtetwa chieftain, called up Shaka’s age group for military service.

As a young man serving in the army of Dingiswayo, Shaka’s acts of bravery won him Dingiswayo’s admiration. Upon Senzangakona’s death, Dingiswayo gave Shaka the military assistance to ascend to power. It was Shaka’s aim to rule all Africans.

Shaka implemented a new system of military organization that incorporated regiments from defeated tribes. When a chiefdom was conquered it became a territorial segment of Shaka’s kingdom-at-large. The warriors became a part of his royal army and were drilled and fought beside combatants from other chiefdoms.

To maintain his royal army, Shaka established military towns and provided his army with the best training and provisions. He demanded the strictest of discipline and perfection from his regiments. His soldiers were required to remain celibate during their period of enlistment. Any violation of this rule was punished by death. He also killed any soldier that exhibited signs of fear.

Shaka also revolutionized the Zulu army’s weaponry and its military tactics. He perfected several complex battle formations that outflanked and confused his enemies. It was customary for Zulu warriors engaged in battle to throw their spears and retreat. Shaka considered this method both unsatisfactory and cowardly. Shaka therefore designed a short handled stabbing spear, an “assegai”, allowing his men to retain their weapons and advance right up to their enemies behind protective shields.

Shaka unified many tribes of the South African region and his efforts are directly credited with saving that region from European domination during his lifetime. Shaka met with a violent death at the age of forty-two at the hands of his half-brothers. He was repeatedly stabbed to death and his body was thrown to the vultures.

At Isandlwhana, the British were encamped in an unaltered formation – which was to lead to their destruction. This column was under the command of Col. Pulliene and served as logistics camp to the advanced column of Lord Chelmsford who was moving towards the Zulu king’s kraal at Ulundi. The colors, as near as I can place them were near Pulleine’s HQ at the start.

The Zulu Impi (as their army was called) had outmaneuvered the British who were basically arrogant about their foes. They didn?t believe the Zulu?s would or could literally march over a mountain range to fall on their unprotected rear areas, but that is exactly what they did do! A younger Zulu warrior could run for over 20 miles and still fight a battle when he arrived and the Zulu?s were some of the finest light infantry ever in military history.

The main impi did just that – marched over a mountain and got in between the two British columns. Napoleon would have been quite pleased with this maneuver that he called “the strategy of the central position”.

The British did not know where the main impi was and the Zulu?s had detached some regiments (organized by age grouping BTW) to draw Chelmsford closer in to their kraal. The British cavalry units, largely Natal Native Contingent, were all over the place trying to find the main body of Zulu?s. One troop of British cavalry while chasing down a herd of beef driven by some Zulu?s for food discovered the main body not long after they had crossed the mountains resting in a valley. They did not plan to attack until the next day but seeing their discovery they charged out of the valley after the fleeing troopers who fought a withdrawing skirmish back towards the main camp at Isandlwhana.

With the sound of gunfire the camp called “stand to” and formed lines of battle to the Northwest to East of the camp area with the regular infantry and the NNC infantry. Pulliene also had two howitzers (7 pounders) and a rocket battery as support. The Zulu?s drove the cavalry patrol back to the camp and formed along a low ridge overlooking it. The 1700 or so British and native troops must have about died when they saw the line of 20,000 Zulu?s before them!

The Zulu attacked in a formation called “the horns of the buffalo” which was a disciplined formation designed to bait their foe into assaulting their center and then the “horns” would close around the foe and flank and envelop his sides for annihilation. The Zulu?s attacked in this formation with the left horn almost cutting off some other cavalry units and the right horn going behind the mountain of Isandlwhana to get into the rear of the British camp. The center came straight on towards the British battle lines who were armed with single shot Martini-Henry rifles which fired a big bullet (.45 caliber) but kicked like Hell!

The disciplined British volleys actually started to break the attack of the Zulu center, forcing them to halt for some time and lie down to escape the volleys. But nothing stopped the two horns and they swept forward aggressively. What actually doomed the British, maybe even more than being heavily outnumbered, was the fact the ammo box tops in the supply wagons area were bolted down and not ready for combat. Once the soldier fired the 40 or so rounds in his pouch he was out of firepower and had to face the Zulu spears and clubs with only his bayonet. The Zulu?s began advancing again as the fire slacked off closing and going hand to hand with the British lines. They overran them and pushed into the camp slaughtering everything in their way.

The right horn had gotten between the camp and the British line of supply back to the Buffalo River and Rorke’s Drift cutting off the fleeing soldiers who had to run the Zulu gauntlet to escape. Very few did. The rest of the 24th died where they stood basically. Pulleine gave the colors to Lt. Melville who rode towards Rorke’s Drift. Lt. Coghill soon joined him and the Zulu?s overran both as they tried to cross the river to safety. The colors were swept away – and I have heard they were recovered some time later.

While the battle started a rider reached Chelmsford some miles away and told him about the battle. He had his doubts but marched back towards Isandlwhana.

Reaching the place at night, so his men would not see the ghastly scene around them, Chelmsford was forced to abandon his campaign and fall back into the British territory. In the distance, however, he could see the fires of the night action from the Zulu attack on the British garrison at Rorke’s Drift where 4000 Zulu?s took on less than 200 British troops (against orders of their king BTW) and were defeated the next day.

Rorke’s Drift was supposedly the largest single action for the awarding of Victoria Crosses in British military history.

Splitting his command into 5 columns allowing the Zulu?s to fall on one and annihilate it defeated Chelmsford. It still ranks as the largest defeat of regular troops by indigenous forces in military history. The troops at the battle were defeated by a lack of ammunition getting to the firing lines – although the left horn of the Zulu attack would have probably overran them anyway.

I hope this helps you out. There are several good books on the Zulu Wars in print as well as two excellent and very accurate movies – “Zulu” which is about Rorke’s Drift, and “Zulu Dawn” about Isandlwhana. Though the second film came after the first one listed you will need to watch them in reverse to preserve the timeline. Michael Caine(in his first movie role) and Stanley Baker star in “Zulu” and Peter O’ Toole and Burt Lancaster star in “Zulu Dawn”. They are two of my favorite war movies of all time!

Biggsk – 1998-01-23

“It was the Zulu War of 1879 which forced the British Army to reconsider carrying Colors in battle. When the Zululand invasion force was annihilated at Isandhlwana on 22 Jan. 1879, two officers of the 24th Foot fled the battlefield with the Queen’s Color. Zulu?s pursued them and killed them in the Buffalo River where they lost the Color in the river current. A search party later found their bodies and the Queen’s Color further downstream. When the regiment returned home in 1880 Q. Victoria asked to see the recovered Color and placed a wreath of immortals on the pike. The wreath is carried to this day, and that particular Color, presented in 1866, was carried until 1934. In August 1880 an MP questioned the propriety of carrying Colors on the battlefield and recommended discontinuing “such impedimenta”. The Secretary of War polled generals and colonels on the matter in July 1881. Finally in January 1882 the Army issued an order that “in consequence of the altered formation of attack and the extended range of fire, Regimental Colors shall not in future be taken with the battalions on active service.” But at the same time they decided to retain Colors for ceremonial purposes, “affording a record of the services of the regiment and furnishing to the young soldier a history of its gallant deeds.” This order extended to the Dominions and Colonies.

“While the debate was in progress, the 58th Northamptonhire Regiment carried their Colors into action at the battle of Laings Neck during the 1st Anglo-Boer War (28 Jan. 1881). The Colors provided a conspicuous target for the Boer snipers, and Lt. Baillie carrying the Regimental Color was repeatedly wounded before being killed. This was the last time British Colors were carried in battle.”

T. F. Mills – quoting himself from 1997-03-20

As the British Army invaded Zululand, they left one company at the border with all the sick and malingerers. This was at a Swedish mission station and river crossing called Rorke’s Drift. After the annihilation of one column of the army at Isandhlwana, 4000 Zulu?s converged on Rorke’s Drift. Two lieutenants with no combat experience commanded the 100 men there. They held off the Zulu?s for about 12 hours, most the battle raging through the night. 17 British died and about 1000 Zulu?s. By sunrise both sides were exhausted and couldn’t go on. For their heroics, the British were awarded more VC’s than for any other single action (11 actually, not 8) — for a totally unnecessary battle. There were no Colors at Rorke’s Drift.

Despite several dramatic and whimsical paintings to the contrary, the Queen’s Color that was carried off the field at Isandhlwana was cased. So complete had been the surprise of the Zulu attack on the British camp, that nobody had an opportunity to uncase the Colors during the battle. All the British (600) and over 2000 Zulu?s were killed at Isandhlwana. The Colors played no role at the battle. Melvill and Coghill who attempted to save the Queen’s Color, and the Queen’s desire to see it afterwards are what raised the debate about the propriety of carrying Colors in modern warfare.

T. F. Mills – 1998-01-23

According to the Hutchingson Dictionary of Battles, by Ian V. Hogg, Rorkes’s Drift occurred after the British disaster at Isandhlwana during the Zulu War (Jan 1879). 4000 Zulu?s attacked the farm where a hospital was established. 66 troops of the hospital and 84 troops of the 24th Regiment with a company of native infantry, a chaplain, a surgeon, and Lt. John Chard of the Royal Engineers were stationed. Some survivors from Iandhlwana arrived shortly before the battle, adding to the defenders’ strength. After the native troops fled, Lt. Chard and 140 troops were left to defend the premises. The ensuing attack by the Zulu?s killed 17 and wounded 10; the attackers suffered 400 dead on the field. After retreating, the Zulu?s sat and watched awhile before leaving for good. No mention is made of the colors playing a substantial part in the battle.

Web Sites

Knight, Ian. (2000, March). Electronic sources: MLA style of Citation (online). Available: http://www.greenhillbooks.com/booksheets/anatomy_of_the_zulu_army.htm

Cope, Nicholas. (2000, March). Electronic sources: MLA style of Citation (online). Available:

http://www.uni-ulm.de/~rturrell/antho3html/Keegan.html

Book

Morris, Donald R. The Washing of the Spears. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1965.

Bibliography

Web Sites

Knight, Ian. (2000, March). Electronic sources: MLA style of Citation (online). Available: http://www.greenhillbooks.com/booksheets/anatomy_of_the_zulu_army.htm

Cope, Nicholas. (2000, March). Electronic sources: MLA style of Citation (online). Available:

http://www.uni-ulm.de/~rturrell/antho3html/Keegan.html

Book

Morris, Donald R. The Washing of the Spears. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1965.

Bibliography

Web Sites

Knight, Ian. (2000, March). Electronic sources: MLA style of Citation (online). Available: http://www.greenhillbooks.com/booksheets/anatomy_of_the_zulu_army.htm

Cope, Nicholas. (2000, March). Electronic sources: MLA style of Citation (online). Available:

http://www.uni-ulm.de/~rturrell/antho3html/Keegan.html

Book

Morris, Donald R. The Washing of the Spears. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1965.

Bibliography

Web Sites

Knight, Ian. (2000, March). Electronic sources: MLA style of Citation (online). Available: http://www.greenhillbooks.com/booksheets/anatomy_of_the_zulu_army.htm

Cope, Nicholas. (2000, March). Electronic sources: MLA style of Citation (online). Available:

http://www.uni-ulm.de/~rturrell/antho3html/Keegan.html

Book

Morris, Donald R. The Washing of the Spears. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1965.