In January 1879, three columns of British soldiers under the command of Lord Chelmsford, commenced the invasion of the Zulu Kingdom. The southern No. 1 Column led by Colonel Charles Pearson advances on the old mission station at Eshowe. Their intent is to establish a fort and supply depot from which to support the centre No. 3 Column’s advance on the Zulu royal kraal at Ulundi. As the vast column of British soldiers and their African allies slogs its way across the coastal hills, the incessant rain and threat of typhoid promise to be as fearful a nemesis as the lurking armies of Zulu warriors.
Unbeknownst to Pearson, calamity struck a hundred miles to the north when nearly half of No. 3 Column is destroyed during a catastrophic battle at a mountain called Isandlwana. Despite the garrison at Rorke’s Drift subsequent repelling of the Zulu onslaught, the entire invasion is left in tatters. Over a thousand imperial soldiers now lie dead, in a war which the Crown never authorised or wanted.
Over the coming days, the Zulus surround the fort at Eshowe, cutting off all communications and resupply efforts. With the British Empire now reluctantly committed to war, reinforcements are dispatched from England. In a race against time, Lord Chelmsford rallies the arriving forces into a relief column. Should they fail to break through to Eshowe and relieve the garrison, Colonel Pearson and another thousand British soldiers will suffer the same fate as the poor souls whose bodies still lie unburied along the slopes of Isandlwana.