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 A ZULU DESERTER'S ACCOUNT OF ISANDULA BATTLE

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PostSubject: A ZULU DESERTER'S ACCOUNT OF ISANDULA BATTLE   Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:21 am

Evening Post, Volume XVII, Issue 512, 17 May 1879

" The Zulu army, consisting of the Ulundi corps, abont 3000 strong ; the Nokenke Regiment, 2000 strong ; the Nkobamakosi Regiment, including the Uve, about 5000 strong ; the Umcityu, about 4000 strong ; the Nodwenga, 2000 strong ; the Umbonambi, 3000 strong ; and the Udkloko, about 1000 strong, or a total of about 20,000 men in all, left the military kraal of Nodwengu on the afternoon of 17th January. It wa3 first addressed by the King, who said :—: — " • I am sending you out against the whites, who have iuvaded ZuTuland and driven away our cattle. You are to go against the column at Rorke's Drift, and drive it back into Natal ; and, if the state of the river will allow, follow it up through Natal, right up to the Drakensburg. You will attack it by daylight, as there are enough of you to ' eat it up,' and you will march slowly, so as not to tire yourselves.' " We accordingly left Nodwengu late in the afternoon, and marched in column to the west bank of the White Umfolosi, about Bix miles distant, where we bivouacked for the night. Next day we marched to the Isipezi military kraal, about nine miles off, where we slept, and on the 19th we ascended to the table land near the Isihlungu hills, a march of about equal duration with that of the day previous. On this day the army, which had hitherto been marching in single column, divided into two, marching parallel to and in sight of each other, that on the left consisting of Nokenke, Umcityu, and Nodwengu Regiments, under the command of Tyingwayo ; the other commanded by Mavumingwana. There were a few mounted meu belonging to the chief Urirayo, who were made use of as scouts. On the 20th we moved across the open country, and slept by the Isipezi Hill. We saw a body of mounted white men on this day to our left (a strong reconnaisance was made on the 20th, to the west of the Isipezi Hill, which waa probably the force here indicated)* On the 21st, keeping away to the eastward, we occupied a valley running north and south under the spurs of the iNgutu Hill, which concealed the leandlana Hill, distant from us about four miles, and nearly due west of our encampment. We had been well fed during our whole march, our scouts driving in cattle and goats, and on that evening we lit our camp fires as uaual. Our scouts also reported to us that they had seen the vedettes of the English force at sunset on some hills west-south- we3t of us (Lord Chelmsford with some of his staff rode up in this direction, and about this time, and saw some of the mounted enemy). Our order of encampment on the 21st January were as follows : —On the extreme right were the Nodwengu, Nokenke, and Umcityu ; the centre was foTmed by the Nkobamakosi and Mbonambi. and the left of the Undi Corps and the Udkloko Regiment. On the morning of the 22nd January, there wa3 no intention whatever of making any attack, on account of a superstition regarding the state of the moon, and we were sitting resting, when firing was heard on our right (the narrator was in the Nonenke Regiment), which we at first imagiued was the Nkobamakosi engaged, and we armed and ran forward in the direction of the sound. We were, however, soon toldit was the white troops fighting with Matyanua's people, some ten miles away to our left front, and returned to our original/ position. Just after we had sat down again, a email herd of cattle came pa3t our line from our right, being driven down by some of our scouts, and just when they were opposite to the Umcityu Regiment, a body of mounted men on the hill to the west were seen galloping, evidently trying to cut them off. When several hundred yards off they perceived the Umcityu, and, dismounting, fired one volley at them and retired. The Umcityu at once jumped up and charged, an example which was taken np by the Nokenke and Nodwengu on their right, and the Nakobamakosi and Mbonambi on the left, while the Undi Corps and the Udkloko formed a circle (as is customary in Zulu warfare when a force h about to be engaged) and remained where they were With the latter were the two commanding officers, Maviming wana and Tyingwayo and several of the King's brothers, who with these two corps bore away to the north-west, after a short pause, and, keeping on the northern side of the Isandlana, performed a turning movement on the right without any opposition from the whites, who, from the nature of the ground, could not see them. Thus the original Zulu left became their extreme right, while their right became their centre, and the centre their left, Pie

two regiments which formed the latter, the Nkobamakos and Mbonambi, made a turning along the front of the camp towards the English right, but became engaged long before they could accomplish it ; and the Uve Regiment, a battalion of the Nkobamakosi, was repulsed, and had to retire until reinforced by the other battalion, while the Mbonambi suffered very severely from the artillery fire. Meanwhile, the centre, consisting of the Umcityu on the left centre, and the Nokenke and Nodwengu higher up on the right, under the hill, were making a direct attack on the left of the camp The Umcityu suffered very severely, both from artillery and musketry fire ; the Nokenke from musketry fire alone ; while the Nodwengu lost least. When we at last carried the | camp our regiments became mixed up ; a portion pursued the fugitives down to the Buffalo river, and the remainder plundered the camp ; while the Uncli and Udkloko Regiments made the best of their way to Rorke's Drift to plunder the post there, in which they failed, and lost very heavily, after fighting all the afternoon and night. We stripped the dead of all their clothes. To my knowledge no one was made prisoner, and I saw no dead body carried away or mutilated. If the doctors carried away any dead bodies for the purpose of afterwards doctoring the army, it waa done without my knowledge of it ; nor did I see any prisoner taken and afterwards killed. I was, however, one of the men who followed the refugees down to the Buffalo river, and only returned to the English camp late in the afternoon. (This portion of the prisoner's statement was made very reluctantly.) The portion of the army which had remained to plunder the camp did so thoroughly, carrying off the maize, breadstuff's (< ie), and stores of all kinds, and drinking all the spirits as were in oamp. Many were drunk, and all laden with their booty ; and towards sunset the whole force moved back to the encampment of the previous night, hastened by having seen another English force approaching from the south. Next morning the greater part of the men dispersed to their homes with their plunder, a few accompanying the principal officers to the King, and they have not re-assembled since.
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