I was not aware of this, until I came across it on the web. I believe there could have been peace if it wasn't for Chelmsford’s Greed. Why did Chelmsford want oxen, guns, and elephant tusks, and does anyone know what the other demands entailed. It seems to me, that King Cetshwayo’s did all he could to meet Chelmsford demands.
“As the British forces advanced, King Cetshwayo dispatched envoys from Ulundi, reaching Lord Chelmsford on 4 June. The envoys brought the message that the King wanted to know what terms would be acceptable to cease hostilities.
Lord Chelmsford sent a Zulu-speaking Dutch trader back with his terms - oxen, guns, and elephant tusks, among other demands.
On 23 June, King Cetshwayo’s envoys again appeared bearing some of what the British commander had demanded – oxen, a promise of guns and gift of elephant tusks.
The peace was rejected as the terms had not been fully met and Lord Chelmsford turned the envoys away without accepting the elephant tusks. He replied that the advance would be delayed one day to allow the Zulus to surrender one of their regiments.
On the same day Lord Chelmsford received a telegram from Sir Garnet Wolseley, who had been sent to South Africa to supersede Lord Chelmsford in command of the forces in the Zulu War. The message ordered Chelmsford not to undertake any serious actions until he arrived.
Lord Chelmsford’s was just 27km away from Ulundi when Sir Garnet Wolseley arrived in Cape Town on 28 June. Chelmsford, who had no intention of letting Wolseley reap the reward of his efforts, did not reply to the telegram.
Wolseley send a second telegram on the 30 June which read:
"Concentrate your force immediately and keep it concentrated. Undertake no serious operations with detached bodies of troops. Acknowledge receipt of this message at once and flash back your latest moves. I am astonished at not hearing from you."
Wolseley, keen to snatch victory from Chelmsford, planned to sail to Port Durnford and join the 1st Division along the coast. From there he hoped he could move the Division forward and reach Ulundi in time to lead the attack.
A final message was sent to Lord Chelmsford explaining that Wolseley would be joining 1st Division and that Lord Chelmsford should retreat if he was compelled to. However rough seas meant that Wolseley had to travel much of the way by road. As Wolseley was riding north from Durban, Lord Chelmsford was preparing to engage the enemy - Wolseley's frantic efforts to reach the front were in vain.
The redcoats of the British soldiers were now visible from the Royal Homestead and with the enemy in sight; King Cetshwayo knew he would not be bale to get one of the Zulu regiments to surrender.
Desperate to prevent imminent destruction the King sent a further hundred white oxen from his own herd along with Prince Napoleon’s sword, which they had captured on 1 June 1879.
However, the Zulu impi overlooking the White Mfonzi River where the British were camped refused to let the oxen pass. The final stages of negotiation were confused and on 3 July, with negotiations having broken down, a cavalry force crossed the river.
A group of Zulus were seen herding goats near and British troops were about to round them up round them up when, on a hunch, the officer in charge ordered them to stop and prepare to fire. His instinct proved right; 3,000 Zulus rose from the long grass and fired a fusillade before charging forward.
A rapid retreat meant that only three British soldiers were killed, but Lord Chelmsford was now convinced the Zulus wanted to battle. Chelmsford replied to Wolseley’s third message, informing him that he would retreat to the 1st Division if the need arose, and that he intended to attack the Zulus the next day.”