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Rorke's Drift, battle of

Rorke's Drift, battle of, 1879. Ford across the Buffalo river, 70 miles north of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; site of a battle in the Zulu War. On 22 January 1879 a force of 139 British troops left to guard the ford was attacked by between 3,000 and 4,000 Zulus, who had not been directly involved in the Zulu victory earlier in the day at Isandhlwana. The British had hastily prepared a strong, defensive position, and the Zulus' tactics proved ineffective when confronted by the courage and disciplined rifle fire of the British troops. All their attacks having been repulsed with heavy losses, the Zulus withdrew at dawn the following day. No fewer than eleven VCs were awarded among the survivors.

Kenneth Ingham

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