Anglo Zulu War of 1879


The 44th East Essex and 56th West Essex were not involved in the first Boer War although a few individual members and members of Essex Militia/Volunteer Battalions served with other battalions.

Several Units based in Essex did take part in the campaign such as the 3rd Battalion of the 60th Kings Royal Rifle Corps who left their Colchester Barracks in February 1879 to take part in the war.

Richard Stevens of 10th Essex Rifle Volunteers

Narrative of the War

For many years the Zulus and other tribes co existed alongside the British and Boer settlers although incidents happened that caused all sides concern.

The Zulus were a warrior tribe who has managed to take over a large area of Southern Africa by taking it from other less martial tribes.

A border dispute between the Zulus and the Boers plus a plan by the British to create a Federation of South Africa, which would bring the Boers and Zulus under British Rule, combined to create an increase of tension which led to allegations of misconduct on all sides.

An ultimatum was delivered to Cetshwayo, the Zulu King was in such terms that he was unable to accept.

On 11 January 1879 a 15,000 strong British Army under the command of Lord Chelmsford moved into Zulu territory.

Cetshwayo gathered about 35,000 men albeit armed with traditional weapons to fight the invaders.

Lord Chelmsford divided his force into three columns with the centre column moving through Rorkes Drift at a place called Isandlwana.

A decoy attack at Isandlwana drew off most of the troops in the centre leaving the camp exposed to an attack from 20,000 Zulus who destroyed the camp and killed 1,800 troops and 400 civilians.

The left column commanded by Henry Evelyn Wood VC , who was born at Cressing, remained as a fighting force limiting a total Zulu victory.

The British Forces withdrew to regroup and in March 1879 returned to establish fortifications and to win many smaller battles before they were able to engage Cetshwayo again on 4 July 1879 at Ulundi where the Zulu forces were comprehensively beaten and their army dispersed.

Some people killed in the Zulu War who has connections with Essex were

Colour Sergeant Ross of the 24th Regiment, who lived at Maldon, was killed.

Quartermaster Bloomfield from Chelmsford

Francis Louis Secretan of Leyton who served with Natal Mounted Police

Mr Francis James Holcroft, solicitor of Danbury who served with the Natal Native Contingent

Mr Robert Lumley brother of the Chaplain to Chelmsford Prison

Mr Hawkins cousin to the Rector of Chelmsford

Captain Younghusband of the 24th Regiment

Survived the War

Lt J H Jervis-White of 6 Brigade Royal Artillery who was son of MP for Harwich

Captain Francis James Baker of Stondon Massey served with Captain Bakers Horse

Private Thomas Bray of Boreham who served with 24th Regiment

Field Marshall Sir Henry Evelyn Wood VC, GCB, GCMG