In 1879, under the command of Lieutenant John Chard and Gonville Bromhead, a small company of British soldiers successfully defended the outpost at Rorke's Drift, a Swedish hospital and church, against an intense assault by almost 4,000 Zulu warriors. The massive Zulu attacks came very close to defeating the tiny garrison but were ultimately repelled.
When the Zulu's neared the mission station, a large number of allied, native militiamen jumped over the makeshift fortification and ran away in horror. Left behind were only 142 British and 10 colonial soldiers (Swedes, Irishmen, one Swiss and a Scot). Many of them were also sick and wounded.
Zulu warriors on top of Oscarberg mountain fired their old muskets and aimed at the defenders. At one point, the Zulu's managed to break into the hospital. The sick and wounded soldiers inside had to barricade the doors and hack their way out through the walls, at the same time as the roof was on fire. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders, along with a number of other decorations and honours. About 351 Zulu warriors were killed during the battle, with 500 wounded. The British on the other hand only lost 17 men, but the surviving soldiers all had some kind of injury.
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