- Battlefields Region
Not only does the Battlefields Region of KwaZulu Natal encompass the greatest concentration of significant battles fought in South Africa, it also contains all the great Zulu heritage and cultural sites as well as several San and Cave dweller sites, plus a large number of Nature and Game Parks and a 'big five' Game Conservancy.
The Battlefield Region boasts the largest concentration of battles fought in South Africa against the backdrop of the African veld and the majestic Drakensberg Mountains and draws visitors from all over the world.
It is here, within a span of 70 years, over thorny hills and sweeping grasslands that military engagements shaped the course of South African and world history and rocked the pedestal of the British Empire.
Early Zulu Wars 1818 -1825
Early in the 19th century King Shaka transformed a tiny tribe into a proud and powerful nation. This nation building involved a continuing series of skirmishes and battles, but by the mid-1820s the Zulus had emerged as the most powerful and influential nation in southern Africa. The legend of Shaka still inspires pride among the Zulu people. During a twelve-year reign he built up and led a powerful army, while setting new standards and cultural traditions for his people.
Voortrekker-Zulu Conflict 1838
By the mid 1830's dissatisfaction with British Colonial Rule by the fiercely independent Afrikaners reached its peak resulting in an exodus of large numbers of Voortrekkers to the hinterland, where they aspired to govern themselves and maintain their cultural identity and language. By January 1838 large numbers of them had gathered on the Bushman’s River in KwaZulu Natal on land ruled by the Zulu. Negotiations with the Zulu King Dingane to acquire land for settlement went disastrously wrong with the Trekker leader Piet Retief being murdered by Dingaan and the Zulus attacking the Trekker parties. Eventually, in what is probably the most pivotal battle in the country's history, at Blood River the Trekkers prevailed and the Zulu Army was defeated enabling the Trekkers to start settling in Natal.
Anglo-Zulu War 1878
The continued strengthening of the independent Zulu nation by King Cetshwayo was perceived as a growing threat by the colonists of Natal, and in December 1878 the British High Commissioner for Southern Africa issued an ultimatum that was impossible for the Zulus to meet. The British then invaded Zululandon the 11th January 1879 and after suffering a number of defeats at the hands of the Zulu were forced to retire and regroup and mount a second invasion which culminated in the Battle of Ulundi on the 4th July where the Zulu Army was defeated and dispersed.
Transvaal War of Independence (First Boer War) 1880-1881
When the peaceful attempts of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (Transvaal) failed to negotiate a return of their independence from Britain, the free burghers of the Transvaal felt they had no option but to resort to arms and war was declared on the 14th December 1880. During the next three months a number of dramatic battles took place culminating in the British defeat on Majuba Mountain and the signing of a treaty in March 1881 rescinding the annexation of the Transvaal.
Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902
Called "The last of the gentleman’s wars", 11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902, originated from a clash of interests between the expanding British Empire and the South African Republicin the Transvaal that erupted into a desperate and tragic 3 year war between the two Boer Republics and theBritish Empire. A treaty was finally drawn up in Vereeniging and signed in Pretoria on 31 May 1902, ending the war.
From our gallery
Inside Battlefields Region
The introduction of British rule in the Cape Colony in 1806 led to dissatisfaction among the fiercely independent Afrikaners, resulting in an exodus of Voortrekkers to the hinterland, where they aspired to govern themselves and maintain their…More
Early Zulu Wars
Early in the 19th century King Shaka transformed a tiny tribe into a proud and powerful nation. This nation building involved a continuing series of skirmishes and battles, and by the mid-1820s the Zulus had emerged as the most powerful and…More
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