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  • Hoof-Kmdt Andries Hendrik Potgieter (Voortrekkerleier) (1792 - 1852)
    Die Voortrekkerleier, Andries Hendrik Potgieter, wat op 19 Desember 1792 in die distrik Graaff-Reinet gebore is, het die Kaapkolonie teen die einde van 1835 verlaat. Nadat hy, bygestaan deur Sarel Ci...
  • Joseph Kruger, b5c4 (1814 - 1838)
  • Dirkie Uys (1823 - 1838)
    Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia After the massacare of Piet Retief and his men by Dingaan on 6 February 1838, a number of Voortrekker camps were also attacked by the Zulu impis. These Voortrekkers a...
  • Kmdt Petrus Lafras "Piet" Uys (1797 - 1838)
    Markram, Willem Jakobus. Die lewe en werk van Petrus Lafras Uys, 1797-1838. Thesis (PhD.) -- Stellenbosch University, 2001. beskikbaar: Wikipedia, the free enc...
  • Johannes Petrus Nel, a1b2c3d1e4f1 (1803 - 1838)
    Sneuwel saam met sy broer, Louis Jacobus jr, en sy swaer Gert Cornelis Nel, by Italeni. Hulle was drie van die nege gesneuweldes. ---------------------------------------------------------------------...

The Battle of Italeni

was a battle that took place at 28°29′6″S 31°16′27″ECoordinates: 28°29′6″S 31°16′27″E in what is now KwaZulu Natal province, South Africa, between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus during the period of the Great Trek.

Aknowledgement -

  • Aim - To add as many Geni profiles to the project as possible.

The Disaster at Ithaleni Very close to Umgungundlovu at Ithaleni, the road lead through a narrow defile and in the distance cattle could be seen in the grass. Uys and his men galloped down and were immediately cut off by hidden Zulus.

Potgieter rode around the mountain to attack the Zulus while Uys's men were fragmented and faring badly. Uys himself was mortally wounded and his son Dirkie was killed attempting his rescue.

Potgieter in the meantime hung back although some of his party rode to assist Uys. Eventually Potgieter, leaving behind Uys's wagons rode back to the laagers under the Drakensberg. This shameful retreat was known as the 'vlugkommnado' (flight commando) and there was immediately accusations of cowardice thrown at Potgieter - the same man who had defeated Mzilikazi at Mosega and Kapain.

These accusations added to the recent removal from position of Commandant caused Potgieter - who in any case had had serious doubts about Natal as a trekker destination - to move with his men back over the Drakensberg.

Battle of Italeni


After the massacre of Piet Retief and his men by Dingaan on 6 February 1838, a number of Voortrekker camps were also attacked by the Zulu impis. These Voortrekkers appealed to other treks, particularly those of Piet Uys and Hendrik Potgieter in the Orange Free State, for help. Both treks send out commandos to help. The two groups met on the banks of the Blaukraans River, where a council of war was held. During this meeting Uys was elected as "General Field Commandant" by those present - becoming, in effect, the first elected Boer Commandant-General. Potgieter, a natural leader, objected to this and stated that he and his men were not prepared to serve under any other leader. As a compromise, it was decided that each commando would remain under its own leader, but that both parties would fight together. This arrangement would prove to have disastrous consequences. The battle[edit]

The two commandos (347 men) set out, in two separate columns, on 5 and 6 April 1838. On 9 April, near the Babanango Mountain Range, they saw a large Zulu impi and took a number of them captive (although it has been speculated that these may have been spies sent to lead them into a trap). The captives told the Voortrekkers that the main Zulu army was encamped near Umgungundlovu - the capital of their king, Dingane. As a result of this information, Uys led the parties directly to the Zulu capital. About 6,4 kilometres from Umgungundlovu they did indeed encounter the main Zulu army - at a mountain defile guarding the approaches to the Zulu capital. On each of the two hills at the end of the defile an impi was stationed, and another one waited in the valley between them - about 8,000 warriors. Uys gave Potgieter a choice as to which impi he would like to attack. Potgieter chose the one in the valley, while Uys decided to attack the hill towards his right. After riding to within 36 metres of the Zulu force, Uys ordered his men to dismount and open fire. Volleys from the Voortrekkers decimated the first two lines of the impi, while the third turned and fled. The battle appeared won. On his side Potgieter made what was reported as a "half-hearted" attack on the Zulu forces, and then retired. However, sixteen members of his commando attacked the Zulus at the base of the hill on the left, riding close and firing at them. The Zulus charged this small party, who turned and fled. One man was killed on the Voortrekker side. After the survivors of the attack reached the rest of Potgieter's commando, they mounted and left the battlefield. The remaining Zulu impis were now free to attack Uys' commando from the rear. Uys saw the Zulu force advancing and sent Gert Rudolph, the voortrekker leader that had replaced the ailing Gert Maritz, to Potgieter to request him to cover his rear. However, Potgieter ignored this request and continued retreating. The action of sending Gert Rudolph as a messenger to Potgieter almost certainly saved Gert Rudolph's life. Meanwhile, two members of Uys' party (the Malan brothers) had become isolated from the rest of the commando while pursuing the fleeing Zulus and were being led into an ambush in a bushy gorge. Seeing the danger they were in, Uys wanted his whole commando to ride to their rescue. Most of the members considered this too risky, and refused. In response, Uys formed a party of fifteen volunteers (including his son, Dirkie) and rode to their rescue. During the subsequent fighting Uys, his son, the Malan brothers as well as five of the volunteers were killed[1]:64-65 (for ten Voortrekker dead during the battle). The part of Uys' commando that remained behind (under the command of Field Cornet Potgieter), were surrounded and had to fight their way out. Due to the outcome of the battle, the Voortrekker forces involved in the fighting subsequently became known as the Vlugkommando (Flight Commando). Aftermath[edit]

The commandos returned to their camp on 12 April. During a subsequent meeting of the Voortrekkers, Potgieter was accused of cowardice and treachery for his refusal to endanger his commando in an attempt to rescue Uys' party. In vain, Potgieter argued that if he had attacked, he and his men would also have died at Italeni. In disgust at the cries of "traitor", Potgieter and his followers left and returned to the Orange Free State. However, it has been speculated that, without the lessons learnt as a result of the Battle of Italeni - such as fighting from the shelter of ox-wagons whenever possible and choosing the place of battle rather than being enticed into unfavourable terrain - the Voortrekkers would not have succeeded in finally beating the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River eight months later.

Site of the battle

As no place with the name of Italeni currently exists, the exact site of the battle remains unknown and has been the subject of some controversy. However, the most likely area lies in a mountain defile guarded by two hills that is approximately 4,8 kilometres southwest of Umgungundlovu. It has been speculated that the Zulus named it the "Battle of Italeni" as some of the fighting took place at Itala Mountain, 24 kilometres away.