Tuesday, 7 June 2011

ABC Wednesday U is for Ulundi

King Cetshwayo  photographed c1875
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Ulundi was the final battle of the Zulu War of 1879 and destroyed the military strength of the Zulus. The battle was fought in Ulundi, the capital of Zululand, in South Africa on 4th July, 1879. Six thousand British troops were commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Chelmsford and faced King Cetshwayo’s army of twenty thousand warriors.
File:2nd Baron Chelmsford at Ulundi 1879.jpg
Sketch of Lord Chelmsford made by an officer shortly before the battle of Ulundi 
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Despite the disparity in numbers, the British army was one of the best equipped in Europe while the Zulus were armed mainly with shields and spears. King Cetshwayo had acquired thousands of muskets and rifles but they were mostly of inferior quality and handled by Zulu troops poorly trained in their use. So although Ulundi was a victory for the British their tactical capabilities were exposed by a superior opponent in the first Boer War a year later.

As dawn broke on July 4th the British crossed the White Mfolozi river and formed up into a hollow square, infantry protected on the flanks and at the rear by mounted troops. Around 09:00 the Zulus attacked the hollow square on all sides but were unable to get closer than thirty yards. Within half an hour the skirmish was over, with 1500 Zulus dead and perhaps the same number injured.

Ulundi was razed. The fire burned for days.
File:The burning of Ulundi.jpg
The burning of Ulundi
Engraving of 1879
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
King Cetshwayo had taken refuge in a village and escaped when he heard of the defeat. He was captured on August 28th and exiled to London. He returned to his throne just before he died in 1884.

You can find more Us here, thanks to the efforts of the Unique Denise Nesbitt and her Unflappable team.


  1. Interesting bit of history. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Interesting post and history for the U Day! I always enjoy your ABC posts because I always learn something and I love history. Hope your week is going well! Enjoy!

    ABC Team

  3. unusual bit of history I did not know
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  4. We cringe at news of today's battles but life has always had its grim side and you gave us a vivid picture of it.

  5. You know there has to be a winner and a loser in a battle like this, but it still makes me feel sad that 1500 died, and so many injured.

    War is Victory, and War is Defeat.

    Your history posts are so moving.

  6. Fascinating history which sorry to say, I was so ignorant. Great post.

  7. That's an interesting bit of history that I knew nothing about.

  8. Fascinating!

    What a contrast between Lord Chelmsford and King Cetshwayo - one so skinny and one ... not!

  9. Very interesting history lesson, such an unequal battle with so many deads !

  10. Amazing turn of events toward the Boar War--with the Zulus not faring well. Reminds me of the genocide of our First Americans :O(
    Thanks for sharing the history--very clever U--you!

  11. Very interesting post for U day! And I how I wish men could learn from the past!
    Thanks for sharing;o)

    Hope you are having a nice and happy week****

  12. Hmmm. Might is not often right. Sounds like the conquest of many places around the globe, though. Thanks for telling us about this bit of history.

  13. Shard of history I did not know. Sad.

  14. An argument for guerrilla warfare when fighting a well armed force.

  15. Unfolded piece of history, thanks for sharing.

    "U" are invited to see the "U" at my page. Have a great evening.


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