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Shaka developed the 'chest and horns' battle group where the army advanced in close order until they were almost upon the enemy when young warriors at either flank ran around the enemy and surrounded them.
The central group of experienced warriors then advanced and crushed the enemy against the anvil of the 'horns'. Behind the chest was the 'loins' as reserves, also of experience warriors.
One of the greatest successes of the Zulu army was against 1500 British troops at Isandlwana in the 1879 war. The commanders failed to organize proper defences against an enemy they held in contempt and were to pay grievously when attacked by 25,000 of Cetshwayo's warriors. The defeat was the greatest defeat suffered by the British military at the time.
The massacre of the Voortrekker Piet Retief and one hundred others by King Dingane was followed by attacks on the unprotected Voortrekker laagers under the Drakensberg in February 1838 in which 500 died.
This lead to a punitive commando under Andries Pretorius engaging the Zulu army at the Ncome River. Ndlela, the commander failed to get all his troops across the river by daylight to attack the trekker laager and his troops were cut down, some 3,000 dying to the trekkers' two dead. Dingane subsequently fled to Swaziland and was assassinated there.
At Ndondakusuka, north of the Tugela in 1856, Cetshwayo defeated his half brother to gain the Zulu throne. More than twenty three thousand lost their lives in the most bloody battle ever to take place in the province. There were regular major campaigns sent against the Matabele in the Transvaal and the Swazis to the north.