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Battle of Gqokli Hill
Part of Zulu Civil War
DateMay 1818
LocationGqokli Hill, South Africa
Result Decisive Zulu Victory
Zulu Ndwandwe
Commanders and leaders
Shaka Zwide and his son Nomahlanjana
500 (initially) 1,500 (initially)
Casualties and losses
2,000 7,500

The Battle of Gqokli Hill was conducted in 1818, a part of the Zulu Civil War, between Shaka of the Zulu nation and Zwide of the Ndwandwe, in Shaka's territory just south of present-day Ulundi.

It was Shaka's first major battle with Zwide, who could see that his southern neighbour would cause trouble in the future. Masterful tactics in spite of being outnumbered 2:1 won the battle for Shaka. He posted troops at the drifts where Zwide's troops, under command of Nomahlanjana, had to cross the White Umfolozi River, to delay the enemy where he had advantage. Meanwhile he laid waste to the area over the river, and placed his troops around the top of Gqokli hill, with a reserve, and all his supplies, in a depression at the top of the hill.

He dispatched some troops as a decoy to herd cattle away - Nomahlanjana divided his forces to capture the cattle for provisions. Discipline on the part of the Zulus meant that the surrounding Ndwandwe forces threw away their assegai to little effect while getting no weapons thrown back in return. The decreasing circle of the attacking forces also caused congestion.

Fighting is very thirsty work, and later in the day many of the Ndwandwe slipped off back to the river to drink - further depleting Nomahlanjana's forces. Making little progress with a frontal attack on Shaka, Nomahlanjana decided to concentrate all his forces at one point. Shakas tactics came into play - his reserve forces ran down the hill in two lines, encircled and destroyed the column. However, his depleted forces were not enough for a convincing defeat, and the Ndwandwe forces retreated north.

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