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Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Battle of Gingindlovu

The Battle of Gingindlovu

On 2nd April 1879, the column marched to Gingindlovu, and about a mile from the Inyczane River a laager was formed in a favourable position. From this point to Eshowe, the track, after crossing swampy ground, winds through a bushy and difficult country for about fifteen miles, the country covered with high grass, and thus affording easy cover. 

Eshowe could be plainly seen from the laager, and flash signalling was at once established. 

As this laager was destined to be the scene of an important engagement, we will describe the disposition of the troops Front face (north), 60th (The King's Royal Rifle Corps) Regiment of Foot right flank, 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot left flank, 99th (Duke of Edinburgh's Lanarkshire) Regiment of Foot and Buffs rear face, 91st (Princess Louise's Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, the angles manned by blue jackets and marines, and armed with the guns, Gatlings, and rocket tubes. The night passed without alarm, and the troops stood to arms at 4 A.M., the mounted men being sent out scouting as usual at earliest dawn. From scouts and piquets came reports, at 5.45 A.M., that the enemy was advancing, and at six the attack commenced on the north front. The Zulus advanced with great rapidity and courage, taking advantage of every bit of cover; they even pushed forward to within twenty or thirty yards of the entrenchments, but were checked by the steady fire of the 60th and the Gatling gun. Lieutenant Colonel Northey, 60th Rifles, received a dangerous wound, but cheered on his men to the end of the engagement. 

The attack, checked here, rolled round to the left face and, whilst this was being developed, a fresh force came up against the rear, probably anticipating that all the faces of the laager could not be defended at the same time. Here they obstinately held their ground, finding cover in the long grass and undulations. 

The mounted troops were now sent out, the mounted infantry and volunteers to clear the front face, and Captain Barrow to attack the enemy's right flank. On their appearance the Zulus commenced to retreat. It was now 7.30 A.M. and the Natal Native Contingent, clearing the ditch of the rear face, dashed out in pursuit, which, led by Captain Barrows horsemen, was carried on for several miles.

The loss of the enemy in this engagement is estimated at 1000, 671 bodies were actually counted. The attacking force is said to have numbered about 11,000 men. 

Colonel Pearson, who had watched the fight through a glass, telegraphed his congratulations to the General. The loss of the column was 2 officers and 9 men killed (including Lieutenant Colonel Northey, 60th Rifles), 5 officers and 57 men wounded. 

Orders of Battle

British Commander-in-chief

Lieutenant General Lord Chelmsford Relief Column for Eshowe

1st Brigade, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel F.T.A. Law
Naval Brigade Artillery from HMS Shah and HMS Tenedos
2 x 9 pounder guns and limbers
2 x 24 pounder rocket tubes 
1 x Gatling gun and limber
Naval Brigade's contingents from HMS Shah and HMS Tenedos
91st (Princess Louise's Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot
2 x Companies 2nd/3rd East Kent (The Buffs) Regiment of Foot
5 x Companies 99th (Duke of Edinburgh's Lanarkshire) Regiment of Foot
4th Battalion, Natal Native Contingent

2nd Brigade, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel W.L. Pemberton
Naval Brigade Artillery from HMS Boadicea
2 x 24 pounder rocket tubes 
2 x Gatling gun and limber
Naval Brigade Contingent from HMS Boadicea, detachments of Royal Marines from HMS Boadicea and HMS Shah
57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot
6 x Companies 3rd/60th (The King's Royal Rifle Corps) Regiment of Foot
5th Battalion, Natal Native Contingent 

Divisional Troops, under the command of Major P.H.S. Barrow
Jantzi Native Horse 
Mafunzi's Mounted Natives 
No. 1 Troop Natal horse 
Natal Volunteer Guides 
Native Foot Scouts 

Zulu Commander-in-chief

Somopho kaZikhala 
Phalane kaMdinwa
Mbilwane kaMahlanganisa
Masegwane kaSopigwasi
Sigcwelecwele KaMhlekehleke
Prince Dabulamanzi kaMapande
Mavumengwana

uVe
umHlanga
uMbonambi
umCijo
inGobamakhosi
uNokhenke
uThulwana

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