PODCAST LINK ON APPLE: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-redcoat-history-podcast/id1464633664

PODCAST LINK ON PODBEAN: https://redcoathistory.podbean.com/e/anglo-zulu-war-part-4-the-siege-and-relief-of-eshowe/

The Anglo-Zulu war is so much more than the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. They may get all of the attention but there were many other battles and engagements – some of them almost forgotten now.

The column that was so badly mauled at Isandlwana was only one of three involved in the January 1879 invasion of Zululand. In Episode 4 of the Redcoat History Podcast, I’ve taken a long hard look at the “coastal” column – commanded by Colonel Charles Pearson of the Buffs.

Colonel Charles Knight Pearson

These guys fought a battle the same day as Isandlwana, they cut up a large Zulu force in open battle after being attacked on the move.

Here is a map of the battle that should help you to visualise the podcast description – you can see the kraal and the position of the road alongside Wombane/Majia’s hill:


It was the first time that the British had used the Gatling gun in action. The Gatling was the grandad of the modern machine and I found this fun video about it that you may enjoy.

They quickly advanced to the small Norwegian mission station at Eshowe where they then found themselves besieged and unable to withdraw or advance. While hardly a bloody, brutal siege it was certainly uncomfortable and soon sickness began to take its toll on the defenders.

Fleet Surgeon Norbury who was with the column describes the location:

“It consisted of a neat brick-built church, with a vestry attached, and having a small tower, the whole roofed with corrugated iron; a long building containing several rooms, one of which had been used as a school; and a third building with a verandah which was a private residence: both the latter were covered with a neat reed thatch. In front of the residence was a magnificent garden, through which ran a fine Avenue of orange trees, leading down to a stream of the clearest running water, which had its source in a spring about 200 yards distant. Situated about 300 yards off on the south and east were two small cottages. This mission station was situated on an extensive plateau nearly 2000 feet above sea level and was commanded on every side except the Southwest by low hills distant only from 3 to 400 yards.”

I visited all of the sites and battles mentioned in this podcast a few years ago and made this vlog of the journey that will help to illustrate the battlefields of Nyezane, Eshowe and Gingindlovu.

The British, with little else to do quickly set to work turning the small mission station into a fortress. The Zulus weren’t going to make the same mistake that they had made at Rorke’s drift and so tried to strangle the garrison by cutting off their supplies and making life generally uncomfortable.

The British position at Eshowe

Soon sickness began to take its toll and British casualties began to mount. There is still the battered remains of the British graveyard close to the position of the old mission station. If you do visit the area please do go and pay your respects. Below are three photos from my Instagram page of the graveyard, including the grave of Midshipman Coker who fired the Gatling gun at Nyezane.

View this post on Instagram

I’ve just finished writing episode 4 of the #redcoathistorypodcast – it’s all about the siege and relief of #Eshowe during the #anglozuluwar – an almost forgotten drama of the war. A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit the site of the Deserted Norwegian mission station that became the centre of the British defensive position. Over a thousand men were crammed into a small area – barely able to go beyond the walls for more than short forays. Illness and exhaustion took their toll as the enemy roamed the area around stopping any supplies and reinforcements from being able to get through. I’ll post more about this and the battles that proceeded it once the podcasts are released. Watch this space. . . . #history #militaryhistory #britisharmy #army #veterans #instahistory #instamilitary #military #battlefield #combat

A post shared by Christian Parkinson (@redcoathistory) on


Eventually, Lord Chelmsford gathered together a relief force to batter its way through to Eshowe. On the morning of the 2nd April, the Zulus attacked it.

Captain Hart describes what happened next:

“About 6 o’clock…a shout ran around our entrenchment, “Stand-to your arms!” The bugle sounded the “Alarm” and everyone bounded into his place. Directly afterwards shots were fired by our outposts and we saw them retiring upon the entrenchments. Soon they were all inside with us. Close by me was one of our natives, his eyes fixed with the look of a hawk, while with one hand he pointed towards the Nyezane valley and said to me, “impi”…I looked there and saw what might have been mistaken for a streak of bush, bordering a stream and disappearing back into the distance miles away. But it was not bush; a few instants of observation showed that it was in  motion: It was a stream of black men rapidly approaching our position from our left front; it was a Zulu army.”

For the full description have a listen to my podcast and in the meantime here is a map of the battle (respectfully nicked from Britishbattles.com).

The battle of Gingindlovu

Gingindlovu was a crushing Zulu defeat and opened the way for the relief of Eshowe.





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