No eyewitness account is known to have been garnered from the Zulus on Hlobane mountain itself, but an outsider’s perspective was provided after the war by Mehlokazulu, a surviving veteran of the inGobamakhosi ibutho attached to the main impi: ‘The English force went up the mountain and did not see us; we came round the mountain. Those who were on the side of the mountain where the sun sets succeeded in getting out quickly; those who were on the side where the sun rises were driven the other way, and thrown over the krantzes. There was a row of white men thrown over the krantzes, their ammunition was done, they did not fire, and we killed them without their killing any of our men; a great many were also killed on the top, they were killed by the people on the mountain. We did not go up the mountain, but the men whom the English forces had attacked followed them up. They [the British] had beaten the abaQulusi, and succeeded in getting all the cattle of the whole neighbourhood which was there, and would have taken away the whole [herd] had we not rescued them.’
One of Buller’s officers, Lieutenant Alfred Blaine of the FLH, would never forget the fight he survived: ‘The Hlobane retreat was a most awful affair. Never do I wish to see another day like it,’ he recalled. ‘We retired well, but I shall never forget the Kaffirs getting in amongst us and assegaing our poor fellows. Some of the cries for mercy from the poor fellows brought tears into our eyes. We lost over a hundred officers and men. No men ever fought more pluckily than the Zulus, they are brave men indeed.’
There had been no shortage of bravery on either side. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded for extraordinary valour at Hlobane–to Browne, Buller, Fowler, Leet and Lysons–as well as five Distinguished Conduct Medals. For their role in the day’s victory, the young bachelor warriors of the umCijo, inGobamakhosi and other amabutho added regimental and personal honours to those already won at Isandlwana–and with them, the eligibility to marry, if they survived the war.
Young George Mossop survived to participate in the great battle of Khambula the next day. Mossop went on to fight at the final major battle of the Zulu War, Ulundi, on July 4, 1879. After the war, he settled back into his old life, becoming a frontiersman and a big-game hunter until his death in 1930.
Today, Hlobane is an opencast coalmine. A marker was placed on the razorback ridge at the foot of Devil’s Pass to mark the spot where Piet Uys fell. Part of it still remains today. The graves of Captains Campbell and Lloyd have been preserved, and the site marked with a cross and surrounded by a stonewall. The men who died with Colonel Weatherly were later buried by Lt. Col. Sir Baker Creed Russell’s column in August and September 1879. Wood buried Captain Robert Barton’s remains in 1880; his gravesite is known to local tour guides familiar with the area. The Zulu has known Hlobane since 1879 as the ‘Stabbing Mountain.’
This article was originally published in the June 1996 issue of Military History magazine.