The fortification used Kambula consisted of a hexagonal laager formed with tightly locked wagons, and a separate kraal for the livestock, assembled on the southern face of the ridge. Trenches and earth parapets bordered both sections, and a stonework redoubt had been built on a climb just north of the kraal. A palisade blocked up the hundred yards between the kraal and redoubt, while four 7-pounders were situated between the redoubt and the laager to cover the northern advances. Two more guns in the redoubt covered the north-east.
Two companies were positioned in the redoubt; another company in the kraal and the outstanding infantry manned the laager. The gunners had been advised that if the Zulus got in close they were to leave their guns and make for the laager. Altogether, Wood’s force mustered 121 Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, 1,238 infantry and 638 mounted men. With command centre staff, it totalled 2,000 men, of which 88 were sick in hospital.