Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Battle of Blood River
The Battle of Blood River was fought on 16 December 1838 on the banks of the Blood river in what is today KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A group of about 470 Voortrekkers, led by Andries Pretorius, defended a laager (circle of ox wagons) against Zulu impis, ruled by King Dingane and led by Dambuza (Nzobo) and Nhlela, numbering between 10 and 20 thousand.
On 15 December the Voortrekkers received word that a big Zulu force was approaching. Pretorius chose an excellent site next to the Blood river (then the Ncome river), where their ox wagons were arranged into a laager. In spite of mist settling the evening, it was clear the next day. Before the battle commenced, the Voortrekkers made a vow to God that, should they be delivered, they would build a church and commemorate the day as a Sabbath.
The Zulus repeatedly and unsuccessfully attacked the laager, until Pretorius ordered a group of horse riders to leave the encampment and engage the Zulus. In the fighting, Pretorius was wounded in his left hand by an assegaai (Zulu spear).
Partly due to the fact that the Voortrekkers used rifles against the Zulus' spears, as well as the good location and motivation of the Voortrekkers, only three Voortrekkers were wounded and none perished; that contrasted against the more than 3 000 Zulu warriors who died.
- "Nuwe Geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika", revised edition, by Cameron & Spies. Human & Rousseau, 1991.
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