On 22 January 1879 at Isandlwana about 1200 British and Colonial troops armed with the latest weapons were killed by 20,000 Zulus armed with spears and some old rifles. A few hours later a few hundred British soldiers held out against 4000 Zulus at Rorke’s Drift. Neither the British Government in London nor the Zulu king wanted the war. It arose because the colonial government in Cape Town wanted a federated South Africa and the Zulus were in the way.
Bandoola Productions is making a feature documentary about the Zulu Wars and its aftermath. Four things you might not have known about Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. The Zulus who went to attack Rorke’s Drift did so in defiance of the orders of their King and consequently without many of their commanders.
The Zulu King Cetshwayo was good at intelligence and kept a big box of London Newspaper cuttings in house. After the war he was captured and taken to London where he petitioned Queen Victoria in person. The morning after the Rorke’s Drift battle, the remnants of the two Armies marched passed each other in full view about 200 yards apart, each choosing to ignore the other.