Zulu War 1879

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In the late 1870s the British Imperial administration in the Cape colony in southern Africa began to view the Zulu kingdom as a challenge to their authority. To contain this perceived threat, they engineered a war. The early campaigns went terribly wrong, culminating with the decisive Zulu victory at Isandlwana. However, the Zulus, primarily reliant on their skill with the stabbing spear, had no real defense or retaliation against the massed firepower of professional British soldiers, and ultimately the British ...

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Overview

In the late 1870s the British Imperial administration in the Cape colony in southern Africa began to view the Zulu kingdom as a challenge to their authority. To contain this perceived threat, they engineered a war. The early campaigns went terribly wrong, culminating with the decisive Zulu victory at Isandlwana. However, the Zulus, primarily reliant on their skill with the stabbing spear, had no real defense or retaliation against the massed firepower of professional British soldiers, and ultimately the British won the war. Ian Castle examines the British-Zulu war and its two key battles, Isandlwana and Khambula, with excellent black and white photographs accompanying the clear and detailed text.

In the late 1870s the British Imperial administration in the Cape colony in southern Africa engineered a war with the Zulu kingdom which they viewed as a challenge to their authority. The early campaigns went terribly wrong for the British with the decisive Zulu victory at Isandlwana ending the first phase of the invasion of Zululand. Ultimately however, in spite of this setback, the British won the war: the Zulus, primarily reliant on their skill with the stabbing spear at close-quarters, had no real defence or retaliation against the massed firepower of professional British soldiers firing Martini-Henry rifles. These single-shot breech-loading weapons decimated the Zulus as they tried to advance towards the red-coated British troops. Even at Isandlwana the Zulus lost more than a thousand men, and victory was only really guaranteed them when their opponents began to run out of ammunition. This title examines the British-Zulu war in general and its two key battles, Isandlwana and Khambula in particular. The reasons for the initial British defeat are discussed as are the shortcomings of the Zulu forces that led to their ultimate subjugation at the hands of the British.

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Meet the Author

IAN KNIGHT has written widely on Zulu history and travelled extensively in Zululand. Ian was the editor of the Victorian Military Society journal for many years, and has written several books for Osprey.

IAN CASTLE is a founder member of the Napoleonic Association, and has written or co-written eight books.

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