The Battle of Isandlwana was part of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War in South Africa.
The British were defeated on January 22, 1879.
In December 1878, following the death of several British citizens at the hands of the Zulus, authorities in the South African province of Natal issued an ultimatum to the Zulu king Cetshwayo demanding that the perpetrators be turned over for trial.
This request was refused and the British began preparations to cross the Tugela River and invade Zululand. Led by Lord Chelmsford, British forces advanced in three columns with one moving along the coast, another from the north and west, and the Centre Column advancing through Rourke"s Drift towards Cetshwayo"s base at Ulundi.
To counter this invasion, Cetshwayo mustered a massive army of 24,000 warriors. Armed with spears and old muskets, the army was divided in two with one section sent to intercept the British on the coast and the other to defeat the Centre Column. Moving slowly, Centre Column reached Isandlwana Hill on January 20, 1879. Making camp in the shadow of the rocky promontory, Chelmsford sent out patrols to locate the Zulus. The following day, a mounted force under Major Charles Dartnell encountered a strong Zulu force. Fighting through the night, Dartnell was not able to break off contact until early on the 22nd.
After hearing from Dartnell, Chelmsford resolved to move against the Zulus in force. At dawn, Chelmsford led 2,500 men and 4 guns out from Isandlwana to track down the Zulu army. Though badly outnumbered, he was confident that British firepower would adequately compensate for his lack of men.
To guard the camp at Isandlwana, Chelmsford left 1,300 men, centered on the 1st Battalion of the 24th Foot, under Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine. In addition, he ordered Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Durnford, with his five troops of native cavalry and a rocket battery, to join Pulleine.
On the morning of the 22nd, Chelmsford began vainly searching for the Zulus, unaware that they had slipped around his force and were