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By Ian Knight

On eleven January 1879 the British Empire went to warfare with the self sustaining country of Zululand. The British expected a quick and decisive victory, putting nice religion in smooth firepower; no plans have been made for suppressing the Zulu over a chronic interval, or for supplying protective positions from which to occupy Zulu territory. notwithstanding, the losses suffered at Isandlwana and Rorke's float fast altered the British strategy; in the course of the remainder of the warfare, the British fortified virtually each place they occupied in Zululand, from everlasting column depots to transitority halts. This identify explores British protecting innovations hired in the course of the conflict, and the way those relating to modern engineering idea. one of the websites lined are Eshowe venture Station, forts Pearson and Tenedos, and Rorke's waft.

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The laager was a mixture of techniques that characterised such temporary fortifications throughout the war – a Boer method applied in a rather more regulated British military style. By no means complex, it had learned the basic lesson of Rorke’s Drift; as Captain Molyneux, Chelmsford’s ‘laager master’ on this expedition commented, ‘with sufficient men to line the shelter trench two deep, no enemy without artillery can carry it’. The circular wagon-laager favoured by the Boers during the Great Trek of the 1830s was found to be unfavourable for British needs, however, because the transport wagons of 1879 were generally heavier, there were more of them than had been the case in most Boer expeditions, and as a consequence fewer of the drivers were experienced in making laagers on this scale.

The fort was largely completed by early April, and the garrison at the mission station began to move down to occupy it. As a refinement, the side nearest the river was covered over to provide sleeping quarters for both officers and men. Although the old garrison from the mission were at first delighted to be free of the conditions which prevailed there, a few grumbled later that Fort Melvill was far from ideal either, being unsuited to prolonged occupation by large numbers of troops, and plagued by damp.

There were a number of small outhouses, including a low kitchen out the back and, off to one side, a solitary privy. A stout cattle kraal, a dry-stone wall about chest high, abutted the eastern end of the storehouse. Like the mission buildings at Eshowe, the site had never been chosen with defence in mind. Rorke had selected a spot with commanding views of the Mzinyathi Valley upstream of the crossing, with his back to Shiyane hill, which rose in a series of terraces just 300 yards behind the buildings.

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