After the defeat of Lobengula's Matabele
in November, 1893, a force of ]ameson's
men set out to capture the fleeing Chief.
When the patrol neared Lobengula's camp on the Shangani River on December 3, a detachment commanded by Major Allan Wilson went across the river to reconnoitre. Wilson stumbled by chance on the main Matabele camp and was soon surrounded. Retreating into a clearing early the next morning, he and his 32 men prepared for what they knew was to be their final battle.
Out of the bushes came the dry rattle of wooden spears on ox-hide shields - a traditional prelude to attack - followed by the first shots. It must have taken about four hours before all the men were dead. The details were never known, but a Matabele warrior later reported that as their ammunition ran out the survivors 'stood up, took off their hats and sang' before committing suicide with their last bullet.
Timelines | 19th Century Timeline