Original Zulu War Hardwood Knobkierie with Hlobane Hill 1879 Engraved Silver Plaque

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. The Zulu War of 1879 was an eye opener for the British Army. A British regiment at Isandlwana destroyed by African natives with clubs and spears against Martini Rifles just could not happen, and yet, it did. The result was a massive reaction and a mighty army dropped on Zululand bringing the Zulus to their knees months later. Every Officer worth his salt wanted in on this, the thirst for revenge and the prospect of glory was too great a temptation.

The Battle of Hlobane was a battle of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 that took place at Hlobane, near the current town of Vryheid in KwaZulu-Natal, The Battle of Hlobane was a British defeat. Fifteen officers and 110 soldiers were killed, a further 8 wounded and 100 native soldiers died. The loss in horses gravely weakened Colonel Evelyn Wood's mounted capability. The Border Horse unit, trapped and unable to retreat to Kambula was wiped out, and the battalions of Zulu warriors helping the British had decamped. However, Wood was confident that the Zulu impi would now attack Kambula as he hoped, and he was confident of victory. The following day, at the Battle of Kambula, Wood did indeed rout the Zulu army.

Colonel Buller received the Victoria Cross for his conspicuous gallantry and leadership, as did Lieutenant Henry Lysons and Private Edmund Fowler for charging the caves that morning. Major William Knox Leet and Lieutenant Edward Browne were awarded the VC for going back to save the lives of wounded men at the descent of Devil's Pass. Lieutenant D’Arcy of the Frontier Light Horse was recommended for the Victoria Cross but denied on the grounds of his being a colonial. This was later rectified.

Here is a high quality hardwood Zulu Knob Kerrie with wonderful rich color and mounted on the shaft is a 1" x 1.25" oval silver plaque engraved:

V (Crown) R

The battle of Hlobane:
Hlobane consisted of two plateaux, the lower and smaller of which rose to a height of about 850 feet (260 m) at the eastern end of the 4-mile-long neck connecting it to Zunguin to the south-west. At the eastern end of this lower plateau rose very steeply for another 200 feet (60 m) up a narrow, boulder-strewn way forming a series of giant steps, known as ‘Devil's Pass’, to the higher plateau. On the top of this plateau were some 2,000 cattle and about 1,000 Zulu of the abaQulusi. Wood's plan for mounted troops led by Lieutenant-Colonel Redvers Henry Buller to scale the eastern track to the higher plateau, supported by rocket artillery and friendly Zulus – once on top he was to drive off the cattle. A similarly composed force, under Major R. A. Russell, would occupy the lower plateau.

At dawn on 27 March the forces departed and, although hampered by a heavy thunderstorm and Zulus firing at targets presented by the light of lightning flashes, Buller's mounted troops had reached the summit by 6 am of the following day. Native infantry then began herding cattle westwards. As Russell's troops occupied the lower plateau, Wood, who was personally commanding the attack on the ground, encountered a group of the Border Horse who had become detached from Buller's advance up the higher plateau. Wood ordered them to advance towards the firing on the upper plateau but the men, mostly English settlers from Transvaal, refused. Wood himself rode on with his small party, intending to take Buller's track up to the summit, and was eventually followed by the Border Horse. Coming under fire from the caves, as Buller's men had, Wood was again faced by refusal upon ordering the Border Horse to clear the way. Five of Wood's escorts charged the caves themselves, resulting in the death of two officers — Wood's staff officer, Captain R. Campbell, and his political agent Mr Lloyd. The group moved westwards to join Russell on the lower plateau.

On his way, at 10.30 am, Wood was riding along the southern flank of Hlobane and spotted five large columns of Zulus to the south-east. This was the main impi, which he was not expecting to arrive in the area for another day and were closing on the British fast, only 3 miles (4.8 km) away. The impi was already breaking up and Wood could see that they would effectively block Buller's retreat from the upper plateau and then trap Russell also. Even if Wood withdrew both groups, a rapid retreat to Kambula would be required before the Zulus could reach it. Wood hurriedly sent a message to Russell, ordering him to move up to the nek, but with the advantage of high ground Russell had already seen the impi, an hour and a half before Wood, and warned Buller of their presence.

Buller realised the serious predicament of his force. Descent by his route up was impossible. The only option was to make for the lower plateau, where he would be supported by Russell's force. Russell had moved his troops off the lower plateau to Intyentika Nek, to support Buller's descending troops. When Wood's orders arrived, Russell and his officers believed that Wood wished for them to take up positions on another nek, 6 miles (10 km) westwards by Zunguin. Leaving a small number of troops behind, Russell's force departed in that direction, leaving Buller alone at Hlobane.

Buller's troops only had one route to the lower plateau, Devil's Pass. The treacherous traverse was the cause of much confusion among his nervous troopers with their frenzied horses, causing inevitable casualties. This danger was heightened by the abaQulusi, who after they saw the approaching Zulu army, became more confident and daring in their attacks on the withdrawing troops. The British had to fight their way through the pass. Despite this serious situation, the British were able to get off the plateau and onto the plains, where Buller gave the immediate order to make for Kambula. The force was broken and disorganised, and with many horses lost the men were required to ride pillion to make it to Kambula, but they eventually all made it. The Zulu impi reached the plain shortly after the British had departed. Wanting revenge, they followed them for 12 miles (20 km), skirmishing from all sides.

A Knobkierie, also spelled knobkerrie, knopkierie or knobkerry, is a form of club used mainly in Southern and Eastern Africa. Typically they have a large knob at one end and can be used for throwing at animals in hunting or for clubbing an enemy's head. The knobkierie is carved from a branch thick enough for the knob, with the rest being whittled down to create the shaft.

The name derives from the Afrikaans word knop, meaning knot or ball and the Nama (one of the Khoekhoe languages) word kierie, meaning cane or walking stick. The name has been extended to similar weapons used by the natives of Australia, the Pacific islands and other places.

Knobkieries were an indispensable weapon of war, particularly among southern Nguni tribes such as the Zulu (as the iwisa) and the Xhosa. Knobkieries was occasionally used during World War I.

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