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LIST OF WARS: DETAILS

Zulu Rebellion

Also called: Bambatha Rebellion or 2nd Zulu War

Years: 1906-1906
Battle deaths: 2,356 [1]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]
United Kingdom

Published prior to 2013 | Altered: 2014-03-04 12:52:41
In the years following the Anglo-Boer War white employers in Natal had difficulty recruiting black farm workers because of increased competition from the gold mines of the Witwatersrand. The colonial authorities introduced a £1 poll tax in addition to the existing hut tax to encourage black men to enter the labour market. Bambatha, who ruled about 5,500 people living in about 1,100 households, was one of the chiefs who resisted the introduction and collection of the new tax.

The government of Natal sent police officers to collect the tax from recalcitrant districts, and in February 1906 two white officers were killed near Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal. In the resulting introduction of martial law, Bambatha fled north to consult King Dinizulu, who gave tacit support to Bambatha and invited him and his family to stay at the royal homestead.

Bambatha returned to the Mpanza Valley to discover that the Natal government had deposed him as chief. He gathered together a small force of supporters and began launching a series of guerrilla attacks, using the Nkandla forest as a base. Following a series of initial successes, colonial troops under the command of Colonel Duncan McKenzie set out on an expedition in late April 1906.

Once they succeeded in getting face to face with and surrounding the rebels at Mome Gorge, the British victory in the unequal battler was inevitable, given the vast disparity of forces. As the sun rose, colonial soldiers opened fire with machine guns and cannon, on rebels mostly armed only with traditional assegais (spears), knobkerries (fighting sticks) and cowhide shields.

Bambatha was killed and beheaded during the battle; however, many of his supporters believed that he was still alive, and his wife refused to go into mourning. Bambatha’s main ally, the 95-year-old Zulu aristocrat Inkosi Sigananda Shezi of the amaCube clan (cousin and near-contemporary of the Zulu king Shaka) was captured by the colonial troops and died a few days later.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 Zulus were killed during the revolt (some of whom died fighting on the side of the Natal government). More than 7,000 were imprisoned, and 4,000 flogged. King Dinizulu was arrested and sentenced to four years imprisonment for treason.

SOURCES: FATALITY DATA

Notes on fatalities

[1] Battle deaths: Correlates of War, Extra-State War Data v4.0

More about sources

NOTE ON NATION DATA

NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.

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