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Thu, 04.22.1819

The Battle of Grahamstown Ocuurs

Grahamstown Memorial

*The Battle of Grahamstown took place on this date in 1819. This was part of the Fifth Xhosa War at the frontier settlement of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

The battle defended the town by the British garrison, aided by a group of Khoekhoe marksmen, attacking Xhosa warriors. When a British-led force seized 23,000 head of cattle from the AmaNdlambe, Makhanda, a Xhosa prophet, urged all the Xhosa to unite to drive British forces out of Xhosa land once for all. Makhanda advised Ndlambe that the gods would be on their side if they chose to attack the British garrison in settlement of Grahamstown and promised that the British "bullets would turn to water."

On April 22, 1819, a force of about 6,000 men (some sources say 10,000), under the command of Dushane, Ndlambe's warrior son and led by Makhanda, launched a daylight attack against Grahamstown. Accompanied by women and children, they prepared to occupy Grahamstown after the battle. The Xhosa had warned Colonel Willshire, the commanding officer, of their planned attack on the settlement. During the battle, the British were running low on ammunition.

The Xhosas, however, were unable to overcome superior British firepower and suffered the loss of 1,000 men. The war continued for several months; the British forces pursued Makhanda as the cause of the war. Makhanda later surrendered, believing it would bring an immediate end to the conflict, and was taken captive. The battle site continues to be called "Egazini" ("Place of Blood"), and a monument was erected there for the fallen Xhosa in 2001.



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