Great Battles in Miniature

On January 22, 1879 a force of over 20,000 Zulu warriors attacked the British camp under the peak known as Isandlawana.  The British main force had marched ahead leaving one battalion of the 24th regiment of foot and a unit of mounted natives at that place. 

Above: the battlefield viewed from the south.  Three companies of British face east and three force to the north, with a two gun battery on the corner formed by the two forces.  The Zulu army appeared from the north where they had been in a large ravine hidden from view until the British main force was well away to the east.  Appearing by surprise they swarmed over the escarpment and down its sides enveloping the British force on three sides, as was the standard tactic of the Zulu attack.

A closer view of the northwest portion of the British position, as the Zulu force their way around the British position and begin to assault its flanks.

The eastern facing three companions of the British 24th Foot faced with the Zulu onslaught.

The battlefield viewed from the northwest.

Stout hearted lads.

The British camp and ammunition, stored in wagons, was critical to the defense.  The distance from the ammunition to the troops in line and the fact that it was stored in wooden boxes with screwed on lids and was dispensed slowly all contributed to the troops in line running out of ammunition and being overrun.

The battery.  The guns were not overrun but were taken to the rear in the ensuing retreat were overturned and lost. 

The entire force of British infantry was destroyed to a man.  A few officers, civilians and anyone who could commandeer a horse escaped.  The flag was never recovered.  Isandlawana was one of the greatest disasters to the British army in its long and illustrious history.