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Sample Essay on Anglo Zulu War Timeline

Anglo Zulu War

Anglo Zulu War is known for the bloody Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana battles of 1879 that saw the invasion of independent Zululand (present day SA) by more than 15,000 British troops. The buildup to the war began in 1877 when British colonial administrator, Sir Henry Frere was sent to Cape Town to unite South Africa under one British Confederation.

Frère soon realized the independent black states, British colonies and the Boer republics could not be united till the Zulu Kingdom on the borders was defeated. Knowing London was not interested in going to war with the Zulus, Frere sought the help of the new British governor of Natal and Transvaal, Sir Theophilus Shepstone to invade the Zulus.

  • December, 11 1878-An ultimatum is send to the Zulu King Cetshwayo by the British
  • December 31, 1878-Sir Henry Frere grants an ultimatum extension
  • January 9, 1879-The ultimatum expires and 3 British columns cross Buffalo River and enter into Zulu land.
  • January 12, 1879-Sihayo’s camp is destroyed by the central column
  • January 22nd 1879-Led by Colonel Charles Pearson, the right column engages six thousand Zulu troops close to Inyzane River.
  • January 22, 1879-Zulu force of twenty five thousand make surprise attack on the central column camped at Isandlwana. Chelmford’s column is defeated and they retreat from the Zulu territory.
  • January 22/23, 1879-A set of Zulu reservists numbering 4,000 attack British outpost of Rorke’s Drift. With only one hundred and fifty colonial and British troops to defend the outpost, the engagement lasts eleven hours before Zulus retreat.
  • January 23 1879-Right column is besieged within their fort mission close to Eshow. The siege lasts for 2 months.
  • January 24, 1879- The left column which was led by Colonel Evelyn Wood receives news about the Isandlwana massacre and he withdraws his troops to safer ground in the Kraal. At that point, only the left column was military effective with Chelmsford’s central column already destroyed and Pearson’s right column under siege at Eshow.
  • February 11 1879- News about the Isandlwana defeat reaches London and reinforcements are requested. Meanwhile, Chelmsford begins rebuilding his forces for the second offensive against the Zulus.
  • March 7, 1879-The first reinforcements from Britain arrive at Durban and London agrees to send 7 regiments and 2 artillery batteries in order to support Chelmsford’s campaign.
  • March 12, 1879-Sulu force comprised of five hundred men attack a British supply convoy at the Intombe battle. With only one hundred troops protecting the convoy they are defeated.
  • July 8, 1879- Lord Chelmsford resigns
  • July 15, 1879-Lord Chelmsford’s position is taken  over by Sir Garnet Wolsey
  • August 8th 1879- Cetshwayo is captured then sent to exile first in Cape Town and later to London.

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