About Battle of Blood River Memorial
The Battle of Blood River Memorial (Bloedrivier Monument) is a monument to a 19th century battle between the Boer pioneers or ‘Voortrekkers’ and the Zulus.
Battle of Blood River Memorial history
Prior to the Battle of Blood River, a Boer diplomatic group led by Piet Retief were massacred by Zulu forces.
On 16 December 1838, angered by the attack, a force of Boers led by Andries Pretorius defeated the Zulus in Battle.
The 460 Voortrekkers formed an impenetrable laager, a defensive camp encircled with their ox-wagons, and fought the 15,000-strong impi attack until the Zulus finally retreated, leaving thousands dead and the river red with blood. The violent encounter became known as the Battle of Blood River.
The river in question was actually the Ncome River, which was said to have flowed red with the blood of 3,000 Zulus after the clash.
The monument was completed in 1939, yet due to the Second World War it was only unveiled in 1947. In 1971, the wagon was moved to its current position. The wagon is symbolically seen as a home, fortress and church for the Voortrekkers.
Battle of Blood River Memorial today
The Battle of Blood River Memorial depicts the main tactic used by the Boers, known as a “laager” or wagon circle. Comprised of 64 bronze wagons, the Battle of Blood River Memorial is located on the original battle site. There are also the nearby Blood River Museum and Ncome Museum, each chronicling the battle from the respective Boer and Zulu perspectives.
The site is named after a nearby river known as Ncome in Zulu and Bloedrivier in Afrikaans. To the east of this river is the Ncome Monument and Museum Complex. The Blood River Monument and Museum Complex is located west of the river. These monuments were erected through the years to commemorate a significant battle in South African history.
Getting to the Battle of Blood River Memorial
The Ncome-Blood River Heritage Site is located 43 km from Dundee, 24km from Nquthu and 72 km from Vryheid. The site is signposted with Blood River, Ncome or Blood River/Ncome signs.