Black Soldiers of the Queen
The Natal Native Contingent in the Anglo-Zulu War
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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List of maps
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Abbreviations used in Notes
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Preface to the Revised Edition
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In the Court Gardens across the street from the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of the colony and then the province of Natal, are the monuments in memory of those who served and fell in the Anglo-Zulu, South African and World Wars. During the evening of Wednesday, April 13, 1994, one of the four statues on the base...
1. The Coming of War
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‘A curious phenomenon occurred 7th January,’ a Christian missionary in the Upper Umkomanzi Division wrote in 1878. ‘A bright star appeared near the moon at noonday, the sun shining brightly – Omen – The natives from this foretold the coming war...
2. Mobilization – The First Regiment, Pioneers and Mounted Troops
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The High Commissioner was determined to remove the threat of the war-like Zulu in order to secure a confederation of settler colonies under the aegis of Britain. Disputes and incidents served to produce a crisis. By the late spring of 1878 the prospect of war was very real. In early November the Lieutenant General got from the Supreme Chief the authority...
3. Mobilization (continued) – The Second and Third Regiments
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The No. 1 Column was to advance from the lower Thukela towards the Zulu ‘capital’ of Ulundi. The 2nd Regiment was attached to it and accounted for 2 000 of its 3 800 men.1 According to General Orders on December 18th the 2nd Regiment was to assemble in three days time...
4. The Third Regiment in the Zulu Country
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The British invasion of Zululand began when the Zulu King failed to comply with the ultimatum to demilitarize his kingdom and place it under British tutelage. Three columns crossed the border into Zululand, one at the coast, another from northern Natal...
5. Disaster at Isandlwana
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At the camp of the No. 3 Column there was nothing to suggest disaster, or even danger, early on Saturday, January 22nd. The Zulu army seemed far away, or, if it was not, then it was remarkably elusive and timid. There were about eighteen hundred men, combatants and noncombatants, at the camp...
6. Escape from the Zulu Country
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The Zulu destruction of their camp and force at Isandlwana left the British in a desperate situation. The No. 3 Column had lost almost half of its men, much of its supplies and ammunition, and most of its transport. The Zulu army was placed advantageously to strike at the remaining parts of the column...
7. Disbanding of the Third Regiment
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There was doubt at headquarters whether or not the demoralized 3rd Regiment could be kept together, let alone got to fight. The Lieutenant General must go to Helpmekaar, then Pietermaritzburg, and give a full account of what had happened to the High Commissioner...
8. The Second Regiment to Eshowe and Back
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The war started out well for the 2nd Regiment – good rations, short marches, little danger. The officers and non-commissioned officers were fairly lax with discipline and the men raided corn patches along the route of march with impunity.1 No. 1 Column, to which the regiment belonged, had crossed the lower Thukela between the 12th and 15th of January...
9. Remodelling of the Contingent
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The Supreme Chief wanted to halt the alarm which spread with the news of the defeat at Isandlwana. He composed a message to chiefs, minimizing the significance of the defeat and reassuring them of the government’s support. Resident Magistrates delivered and explained it and chiefs received it in good spirit...
10. The Relief of Eshowe
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In March the fortunes of war turned in favour of the British. The Zulu army had not invaded Natal. British forces remained on the defensive until reinforcements arrived from abroad. The first of these were sent to the lower Thukela, where the Lieutenant General was forming a column to break...
11. War in the Thorns
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Of all the places in Natal perhaps the most beautiful is Umvoti County. Gentle downs, steep escarpment, and the rugged valley of the Thukela form a study in contrasts. The vistas from the escarpment into Zululand are among the sublime sights of southern Africa. Into this panorama...
12. War on the Plain
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The British army prepared to invade the Zulu country again in May. The force at the coast was the 1st Division, successor to the old No. 1 Column. The forces in the interior were the 2nd Division, successor to the old No. 3 Column, and the so-called Flying Column, the No. 4 Column on the Transvaal- Zulu border with a new name...
13. War in the Hills
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The invasion of the interior depended on the discovery of a route by which the Flying Column and the 2nd Division, which in Zululand became the Headquarters Column, could approach the Zulu King’s great place, Ulundi, with the least difficulty in the shortest time. The route by which the 2nd Division would invade Zululand had still to be determined...
14. In the Zulu Heartland
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From June 7th to 17th the invasion of Zululand was in abeyance. The Headquarters Column, with part of the Cavalry Brigade and the mounted troops of the Flying Column, remained in laager at the Ntinini river. The line of communication extended thirty miles back to Koppie Allein, and the forward depot...
15. Victory at Ulundi
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From the vantage of Mthonjaneni one could see the end of the war. The mountain overlooked the Mahlabathini plain. There were the great places of the Zulu nation and Ulundi, seat of the Zulu King. The British attached great political importance to Ulundi. Whether the Zulu attached the same or not we cannot tell...
16. The King Chase
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The battle of Ulundi marks the climax of the war. It demonstrated once more the military and technological superiority of British over Zulu. This British victory differed from the earlier ones in one important respect: it occurred at the seat of the Zulu King, in the heart of the Zulu kingdom...
17. The Return of Peace
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The war formally came to an end when the great chiefs of the Zulu kingdom agreed to British terms at Ulundi on September 1st. The Zulu monarchy was abolished. The King left the country for foreign exile on September 4th. The Special High Commissioner left Ulundi with a small force on the 4th for the Transvaal. The flying columns were assigned the task of pacifying..
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The Natal Native Contingent is the most elusive of imperial units in terms of source material. The career of the British regulars in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879 is well documented and published, that of the colonials adequately so. Only the African soldiers of the Queen have been slighted...
Publication Year: 2006