Hlobane and Khambula
The Forgotten Epic of How the Anglo-Zulu War was Lost and Won
- W. B. Bartlett
15th July 2022
While the Anglo-Zulu War is now best remembered for two battles, the stunning British defeat at Isandlwana and the victory against the odds at Rorke’s Drift, two others at Hlobane and Khambula eerily mirrored them. At Hlobane the British stared disaster in the face again and just about escaped, while at Khambula they inflicted a crushing defeat on the Zulu army and turned the war on its head.
In addition to these two battles, a British force was massacred on the Ntombe River and the region was the last to surrender. It was a war of ambushes and night attacks, of raids and counter-raids, of visceral intensity and bitterness and two massive battles. It also saw the British hanging on after Isandlwana through the determination and grit of two men, Colonels Evelyn Wood and Redvers Buller, both Victoria Cross winners and arguably amongst the greatest heroes of the war. Humbler heroes too play their part in the story of the war in this part of Zululand, such as Sister Janet Wells, inspired by Florence Nightingale to journey out to South Africa as a pioneer nurse when still in her teens.
This is the dramatic story of a true epic, one which played a critical part in shaping the ultimate British victory against a determined and wronged enemy.