Blood River 1838

The Zulu–Boer War and the Great Trek

Blood River 1838 cover

Blood River 1838

The Zulu–Boer War and the Great Trek


A myth-shattering study of the first clash between the Zulu kingdom and European interlopers and its dramatic effects on Boer and Zulu alike.

By the 1830s, the Zulu kingdom was consolidating its power as the strongest African polity in the south-east, but was under growing pressure from British traders and hunters on the coast, and descendants of the early Dutch settlers at the Cape – the Boers. In 1837, the vanguard of the Boers' Great Trek migration reached the borders of Zulu territory, causing alarm. When the Boer leader Piet Retief and his followers were massacred in cold blood, war broke out. Although the initial Boer counter-attacks were defeated by the Zulus, in December 1838 a new Trekker offensive resulted in a nation-defining clash between Boer and Zulu at the battle of Blood River.

In this ground-breaking and carefully balanced new work, containing stunning artwork and detailed maps, Ian Knight explores what has long been a controversial and partisan topic in South African history, placing the Zulus more squarely in this part of their history. Among the topics covered are the 1836 Boer/Ndebele conflict, the imbalance in technique and weaponry, the reasons why the British settlers allied themselves with the Boer Trekkers, and why the war was a key turning point in the use of traditional Zulu military techniques. This work also reveals that a Boer victory at Blood River was by no means a foregone conclusion.

Table of Contents

(Subject to confirmation)
Origins of the Campaign
Opposing Commanders
Opposing Forces and Orders of Battle
Opposing Plans
The Campaign
The Battlefield Today

Product details

Published Nov 21 2024
Format Ebook (PDF)
Edition 1st
Extent 96
ISBN 9781472860736
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations Colour illustrations throughout, including battlescene artworks, maps, 3D diagrams and photographs.
Series Campaign
Short code CAM 402
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Ian Knight

Ian Knight is widely acknowledged as a leading aut…


Adam Hook

Adam Hook studied graphic design, and began his wo…


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