A Fighting Retreat. The Natal Native Mounted Contingent after Isandlwana.

P S Thompson


The battle of Isandlwana, 22 January 1870, was a débâcle for the British army. The story of the battle has been told many times in varying detail. It is easy to imagine the battle culminating in a great massacre, followed by a headlong flight of panic stricken men to a further ordeal, this one Nature's, at the 'Fugitives' Drift'.

The imperial troops at Isandlwana were not completely destroyed by the Zulu impi, nor did all the fugitives from the battlefield flee in total disorder. In the aftermath of the battle at least three units preserved their organization, helped cover the retreat of the disorganized troops, and retarded the pursuit of the enemy. All three of these units consisted of black troops, the mounted men of the Natal Native Contingent, a force raised in the Colony to serve as auxiliaries to the British army.

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