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Fifty Years of the History of

the Repubhc in South Africa


By J. C. VOIGT M. D.

Of the Cape Colony Volunteer Ambulance Service in the Transvaal in 1881







" Nicht allein der Triumphator,
Nicht alleiu der sieggekronte
Giinstling jener blinden Gottin,
Audi der blut'ge Sohn des Ungliicks,

' ' Auch der heldenmiith'ge Kampfer,
Der dem ungeheuren Schicksal
Unterlag, wird ewig leben
In der Menschen Angedenkeii." Heine.

A, rj-f A Af-^'^


Map of Physical Features, pp. xiii.-xxvii.



The First Africanders — The Republic South of the

Or^^nge River ...... 1-167

Maps :

Republics of Graaff Reinet and Swellendam — Soutli Africa

in 1795 ....... 44

British Soutli Africa at the Time of the Great Trek or

Emigration . . . . . .166

Chapter I.

Early History of the Colony under the Dutch East India

Company — Expansion Northward and North-Eastward . 3-20

Chapter II.

Struggle of the Colonists against the Dutch East India Com-
pany — Proclamation of the Republic in Graaff Reinet
and Swellendam ...... 21-44

Chapter III.
First Capture of the Cape by a British Expedition . . 45-53



Chapter IV.
The Struggle of the Frontiersmen of Graaflf Reinet against

England 54-80

Chapter V.
Graaff Reinet Province in Subjection to the British Govern-
ment — Retrocession oi' the Cape to Holland . 81-89

Chapter VI.
The Government of the Batavian Republic (1803-1806) —

Second Capture of the Cape by the English . . 90-104

Chapter VII.
A British Despotism ...... 105-117

Chapter VIII.
The Insurrection and Executions of Slachtersnek . 118-153

Chapter IX.
The Frontiersmen in Subjection — Commencement of the Great

Emigration or Trek Movement .... 154-167


Records and Chronicles of the Voortrekkers . . 169-338

ikfa^js and Illustrations :
The Countries North of the Orange and Vaal Rivers, and
East of the Drakensbergen, at the Time of the Great
Emigration ...... 171

Diagram Showing
Laager Formation ...... 294

Diagram Showing
Zulu Battle Formation ..... 295

Diagram to Illustrate
Running Fight on the Plain before Vechtkop . . 298



Chapter X.
Condition of the Countries North of the Orange and Vaal
Elvers, and East of the Drakensberg Range, at the Time
of the Great Trek or Emigration from Cape Colony . 171-207

Chapter XL
Causes of the Great Trek Movement .... 208-227

Chapter XII.
Condition of Cape Colony at the Time of the Great Trek . 228-237

Chapter XIII.
The Sixth Kaffir War, and the Grievances of the Frontiers-
men ....... 238-259

Chapter XIV.
Trichard's Trek— Potgieter's Trek .... 260-278

Chapter XV.
War with the Matabele ...... 279-314

Chapter XVI.
Maritz's Trek — First Volksraad — Campaign against Umsili-
gaas — Retief's Trek — The Volksraad of Winburg —
Retief's Grondwet ...... 315-338

Index to Vol. I. ....... 341-350


p. 35, side-note : /or " 1897 " read " 1781."

P. 37, side-note : for "van de Graff" read " van de Graaff."

P. 64, line 17 : for "in favour to" read "in favour of."

P. 68, line 9 : for "new rules of the country" read "new rulers of
the country."

P. 74, lines 9 and 10 : for "in September, 1800, by Sir George Yonge,
had been referred to the Home Government" read "in
September, 1800, had been referred to the Home Government,
by Sir George Yonge," etc.

P. 114, line 18 : for " Demarara" o-ead "Demerara."

P. 185, line 14 : for "tribe " read " tribe ; ".

P. 193, line 8 : for "Julia" read " Jiclia."

P. 214, line 24 : for "unsalable" read "unsaleable."

P. 274, line 21 : for "Maputa" read "Manice (Komati)."

P. 344 (Index) — Governors of Cape Colony : for "in 1714, Willem A,
van der Stell, 22" read "in 1706, "Willem Adriaan van der
Stell, 22;" for "in 1812, Lord Chas. Somerset, 117" read "in
1815, Lord Chas. Somerset, 117."

[All rights reserved. \




al features of
Tl'ca {rom Cafee Vomt
"DelcKjoa, Bau.


A LINE drawn from the point of intersection between
26^ S. lat. and 22° E. long, to Cape Point divides the
map of South Africa into two unequal portions.
The smaller, western, area is triangular in outline.
The Atlantic coast line forms the base of this triangle.
The larger, eastern, division is a fan-shaped figure.
The two sides of this opened-out fan are represented
by the line above mentioned (from where 22° E. long,
inpersects 26° S. lat. to Cape Point) and by the 26th
parallel of South latitude. The outer fringe or border
of the fan is the coast line of the Indian Ocean from
Ealse Bay to Inyack Island. The western, triangular-
shaped, area contains none of the important physical
features of the geography of South Africa. All these
arp found in the large, eastern, fan-shaped, division.

Two equally broad arched figures, formed by three
parallel arcs having a common centre at the point of
intersection of 26° S. lat. and 22° E. long., will be
useful for the purpose of the graphical delineation and
grouping of the main physical features. The outer
arc — the outside boundary of the outer arch-shaped
figure — falls on Cape Agulhas, Cape St. Lucia, and
Inyack Island. It rounds off the somewhat irregular
margin of the outspread fan. The Indian Ocean coast


line, the Southern Coast Eegion, the Great Southern
Mountain Ranges of Cape Colony, the Outer Terrace
Lands of the East and North-east: these are the
respective areas over which the outer arch-shaped
figure falls.

Eemove the outer arc.

What is left is a shorter fan-shaped figure, of which
the second arc forms the rounded fringe or margin.
As the coast line of the Indian Ocean is the border
of the larger outspread fan, so the great watershed
between the upper affluents of the Orange and Vaal,
on the one side, and the rivers which flow into the
Indian Ocean, on the other, runs along the edge of
the shorter fan. All the Outer Terrace Lands lying
between the Great Southern and Great Northern
Mountain Systems of Cape Colony (the Karroos) ; the
relatively narrow strip of the Outer Terrace Land
Eegion of the East and North-east not included in the
outer arch-shaped figure ; the great mountain rim of the
Eoggeveld, Nieuwveld, Koude Berg, Sneeuwberg, Storni-
berg, and Drakensberg ranges ; and a portion of the
Eegion of the Great Inner Tablelands : these are the
physical features of the map of South Africa over
which the inner arch-shaped figure falls.

If we now remove the second arc also, we get a s'.ill
smaller and shorter fan-shaped area, with the Eegion of
the Great Inner or Higher Tablelands for a border,
and with the Blauwbank-Witwatersrand-Middelburg-
Hoogeveld water-shed running along one of its sides
(the 26th parallel of S. lat.).

The continuous series of mountain ranges known as


the Eoggeveld, Nieuwveld, Sneeuwberg, Stormberg, '^^^^^^P^
Drakensberg, and Northern Drakensberg, form the ^^°ee°f south
southern and eastern rim of the Great Upland Plateau
Eegions, in which are found the basins of the Orange
and Vaal Eivers, as well as the watershed between the
Limpopo and its tributaries, on the one side, and the
Vaal, on the other.

Towards the elevated plains and tablelands fringed
and bounded by these mountain ranges, the ascent from
the shores of the Indian Ocean — from all the coast line
between Delagoa and False Bays — is relatively steep
along the north-eastern and eastern, more gradual and
less precipitous along the southern routes.

From the sea to the summits of the rock ramparts
bordering the vast inland plateau plains, the land rises
by a succession of escarpments or terraces. Each The Terraces.
terrace is a step in the ascent, and is also the edge of a
plateau plain which stretches inland as far as the
next terrace or escarpment, where again there is the
commencement of another plateau — more inland, and
at the same time considerably higher above sea

As one travels over the Karroos to the Orange Eiver,
what appear to be flat-topped mountains — almost exact
reproductions of Table Mountain — are seen in front, to
the right and to the left. The rivers are for the greater
part of the year without water, the mountains are
without summits. It seems as if some huge titanic
scythe had swept through the air, to lop off all the
peaks, to level all the mountain tops — as if the powers
of magic and of the elements had been invoked to dry


up all the springs and the rivers, and to blast all

But the mirage on the distant horizon reminds you

that you are in Africa, the Continent of Transforma-

Fiat-topped tions. As vou advance, those flat-topped mountains

Mountains. _ " _ ^ ^

will all disappear ; for they are, in reality, level upland
plains, on which grass and veritable carpets of flowers
will sprout up after the rains have fallen and the
thirsty earth has become revivified.

Each apparent mountain summit and steep slope is
Extent and the edge of a wide plateau, which stretches out and

Arrangement of ^

the Plateaux, exteuds far to the north, to be there bounded by
another escarpment or terrace-like face of a more
elevated tableland also extending northwards.

The arrangement and grouping of these plateaux,
which form such an important physical feature in the
geography of South Africa, differ somewhat in various
parts of the country. Leaving out of consideration the
extreme northward prolongation of the plateau regions
into the highlands of Matabeleland and Gazaland, and
dealing only with that part of Africa which lies to the
south of the river Limpopo, it may be said that the
high tablelands extend from the Tulbagh Kloof and
the Hex Eiver Pass to the Roggeveld and Nieuwveld
ranges, then north-eastward to the Great Sneeuwberg,
where the summit of the Kompas Berg is between 8000
and 9000 feet above sea level, and then still further
north-eastward to the Great Zuurberg and the Storm-

The Two berg ranges. North of these mountains, the tributaries


and feeders of the Upper Orange Eiver flow through
the highlands which are continuous with the elevated


plateaux of the Orange Free State. These uplands,
again, are prolonged into the Hoogeveld regions to the
north of the Vaal.

All the different plateaux can be classified into two
main groups or sections : the Outer Terrace Plateaux
and the Inner Tablelands. The dividing rampart be- ^^^fm^^ai^"'^'
tween these two sections is the series of mountain chams.
chains which, in unbroken grandeur of steep crag and
rocky summit, stretch for hundreds upon hundreds of
miles, from the Highveld of Lydenburg to the western
end of the Eoggeveld range. The Northern Drakens-
bergen, the Mountains of De Kaap and New Scotland,
the Randberg, the Central and Southern Drakensbergen,
the Stormberg range, the Great Sneeuwberg and its
numerous spurs, the Nieuwveld Bergen, and the Eogge-
veld range, constitute the individual sections of the
immense rim, which forms the margin of the Inland
Plateau Region, and towards which ascend the Terrace

These, the Outer Tablelands, are much more extensive Region of the
and better defined in the south — i.e., in the Cape Colony, Lands.
where the Karroo-plains are separated from the Coast
Region by the Great Southern mountain ranges — than in
the north-east, where the ascent from the Indian Ocean
is steeper, and where the plateaux are much cut up by
intersecting mountain ranges and ravines. In Pondo-
land — now part of Cape Colony, — in Natal, in Zululand,
in Swaziland, and in Lydenburg district, there are
several of the less defined and less extensive terrace

The region of the Outer Tablelands, then, may be


described as stretcliiug, iu the form of an extensive arc —
roughly a semicircle — from the terraces on the eastern
slopes of the Northern Drakensberg through Swaziland,
Zululand, Natal, Pondoland, and the eastern part of
Cape Colony ; then curving to the inland of the Southern
mountain ranges, and being prolonged over the Great
Karroo district to the Bokkeveld Karroo. On its
inland aspect the entire area is bounded by the massive
mountain ranges already referred to as shutting it off
from the interior region of elevated tablelands,
u'^ian'd^""'^ These Inner Plateaux extend from the great mountain

rampart or rim, across the basin of the Orange River,
to the uplands of Basutoland and of the Orange Free
State, and from there to the high ground north of the
Vaal River. Here is the elevated watershed of the
Malmani-Blauwbank - Witwatersrand - Middelburg-De
Kaap line. This plateau forms a central broad ridge,
running across the Transvaal from west to east. From
the highest point of this roof of the High Veld, the land
slopes down both north- and south-ward.

With the first settlement of the plateau regions, at
the commencement of the 18th century, begins the
origin of the South African nationality, as well as
the first really successful colonisation of any part of
Africa by Europeans.

On the east and west coasts of the Continent, the
European nations have planted settlements and built
forts for centuries. Nearly all the older of these
settlements have disappeared. The ruins of the forts
— and the cemeteries — are all that remain.

In North Africa, Mahomedan dominion was supreme


till the French succeeded in obtaining a footing. In the
south, during the first half-century of Dutch colonisa-
tion, the small coast settlement and its extension, to
the neighbouring valleys of Stellenbosch and Draken-
stein and to the Koeberg, were the only vestiges of
European rule. With the occupation of the first ter-
races of the plateau beyond the Tulbagh Kloof, in the
year 1700, began that gradual northward expansion and
extension of the Colony which was to create the
Africander and the South Africa of to-day.

The history of the occupation of the successive ter-
races in the upward ascent towards the great mountain
rampart, and beyond it, is also the history of the origin
of the South African Frontiersman and of his Eepublic.

It took half a century to colonise the Outer terrace
plateaux — the Karroos — of the Cape Colony ; and an-
other quarter of a century before the European settle-
ments had extended beyond the great mountain rim of
the Inland plateau region — at the Sneeuwbergen and
over the Zuurberg and Bamboesberg — to the plains of
the Orange river.

The sons and grandsons of the pioneers who had
first occupied the terrace lands were in possession of
a new world, a country at that time completely
isolated and cut off from all the rest of the globe. In
that new, strange, weird, wild world, where the moun-
tains were without summits, the rivers without water,
the trees without umbrageous foliage, and the pasture
lands without verdure, the officials of the Dutch East
India Company seldom or never appeared. A journey
of several months' duration was required in those days



Systems of
the Two Great

to reach some of the inland plateaux from Cape Town.
In that then very distant land, amid surroundings which
were more conducive to serious communings with Nature,
and to stern resolve, than to the elegant trivialities of
progressive civilisation, grew up the race of men
who, at the end of the 18th century, created their
first Republic, and vowed that South Africa should no
longer exist merely for the benefit of the Dutch Char-
tered Company. There, originated the Nation which
now, at the end of the 19th century, is federating
and consolidating its Republic, in order to resist the
encroachments and the plots of the British Chartered
Company and of British Government officials.

To the south of the Orange River stood the cradle
of the Republic. In the wide Karroo-plains, and in the
wild mountains and highlands immediately to the
north of them, we see the country which gave birth
to the African peasant Commonwealth.

But a description of this land — of this world of
upland plateaux and terraces — will be better under-
stood if supplemented by a brief sketch of the main
features of all the country lying south of the Great
River, so that the relative importance of the different
geographical factors can be clearly perceived and more
readily grasped.

For the sake of completeness of outline, some amount
of repetition now becomes necessary.

Two great series of mountain ranges run across Cape
Colony from west to east. The country between these
mountain barriers is the region of the Karroos or outer
elevated tablelands and terraces. To the south of the


first series of mountain ranges is the Southern Coast
Region. To the north of the northernmost mountain
rampart, or second series of ranges, is the region of
Great Upland Plains stretching northwards as far as
the basin of the Orange River. In passing northward
from the shores of the Indian Ocean to the banks of
the Orange River, the traveller crosses (1) the Southern
Coast Region ; (2) the first or Southern series of great
mountain ranges ; (3) the Karroos or tablelands ; (4) the
second or Northern series of great mountain ranges ;
(5) the Great Plains to the south of the Orange River,

The Southern Coast Reqion is the relatively narrow The southern

"^ '' Coast Region.

belt of plain lying between the Indian Ocean and the
first series of mountain ranges. The climate is warm
and salubrious. Snow is never seen in any part of
this region, except on the summits of mountains, and
even there only rarely. The warm ocean currents, and
the condensation of vapour along the great mountain
slopes, cause more rainfall than in other parts of South
Africa. The soil is fertile, and there are numerous
The first or Southern series of mountain ranges, The southern


which form the northern boundary of the Coast Region Ranges.
and divide it from the Karroo or Upland Plateau
country, stretch from St. Helena Bay, on the Atlantic,
to Algoa Bay on the Indian Ocean.* Commencing
with the Piketberg, Riebeeks Kasteel, and Drakenstein
Mountains, and the parallel ranges of the Olifants
River Bergen (continuous south-eastward with the
Great Winterhoek, the Witsenberg, and Hex River
* The Zuurberg is a further continuation to the Great Fish River.




The Rivers.

Mountains) and the Koude Bokkeveld Bergen, the
huge rock masses run eastwards, and terminate opposite
Algoa Bay in the Winterhoek and the Zwartkop

With the exception of those towards the extreme
west, all these mountains, throughout their course, run
in nearly parallel ranges from west to east, the entire
series forming a vast stone rampart shutting off the
Coast Eegion from the inland elevated tablelands which
form the Karroos. The southern wall of the rampart
is formed by the Drakenstein, Eivier-Zonder-End,
Langeberg, Attaquasberg, Outaniquasberg, Langekloof,
and Karadauw Mountain Eanges. The northern wall
is made up of the Bokkeveld Witteberg, Klein Zwart-
berg, Toverberg, Zwartberg, Antoniesberg, Groote Eivier
Hoogte, and Winterhoek Eanges. Between these two
mountain walls stretch the numerous other parallel
ranges and plateaux which together form the series.
The summits of these different mountains are from
2000 and 3000 feet to 4000, 5000, and even 6000
feet in height — the Zwartkop, near Uitenhage, at the
eastern extremity of the series, being 6820 feet high.
The western section of the Southern mountain ranges
forms the watershed between the rivers which flow
into the Atlantic Ocean — the Olifants Eiver and the
Berg Eiver — and those which run eastwards to the
Indian Ocean — the Eivier-Zonder-End and the Breede
Eiver, on the one side, and the Touws Eiver and other
smaller tributaries of the Gauritz, on the other.

Part of the central section of the Southern mountain
ranges is the watershed between the Touws Eiver (and


its tributaries) and the Buffels, Geelbek, and Kanon
Eivers. The three last named unite into one stream,
which penetrates the Klein Zwartberg range to join the
Touws Eiver and its tributaries, and to form the Groote
Eiver. This flows into the Gauritz.

Between the Toverberg and the Great Zwartberg
range, the Gamka flows through a deep mountain
gorge, and, further south, joins the Olifants Eiver to
form the Gauritz. The Great Zwartberg range forms
the dividing watershed between the Gamka, to the
north, and the Olifants Eiver, to the south.

Towards the eastern extremity of the series of ranges
are the mountains forming the watershed between the
Groote Eiver and the Kouga before these streams unite
to form the Gamtoos Eiver, which runs into St. Francis
Bay. The Krom Eiver Hoogte mountain range separ-
ates the basin of the Kouga from the Kromme Eiver,
which flows into Kromme Eiver Bay.

The above is a brief enumeration of the principal
rivers which flow to the Southern Coast Begion of the
Cape, and of the great mountain ranges which bound
the Coast Region on the north, and form for it a great

Further north, again, beyond these mountains, are
the Outer Terrace Lands, the series of plateaux known The Karroos,
as Karroos. They are elevated tablelands, which
stretch northward towards another great series of
mountain ranges — also running from west to east
across the Continent, and almost parallel with those
already described, but much higher. The Karroos are
•vast plains, thousands of feet above sea level. They



are rainless for a great part of the year. The vegeta-
tion consists mainly of stunted scrub and short, coarse,
bush and grass, which becomes dried up and withered
under the scorching heat of the sun. The few rivers,
also, are almost entirely without water during the dry
season; but when heavy rains have fallen in the moun-
tains, the dry water - courses suddenly become trans-
Transformation, formed into rolling torrents, whose swift currents often
overflow their banks. Eain in these regions changes
the entire appearance of the landscape, The earth,
which, but a few days before, was parched, arid,
scorched, and without a blade of green grass any-
where, has, as if by magic, become covered with
flowers — heaths, lilies, and wild geraniums — of the
brightest tints and colours. Grasses have sprung up
with astonishing rapidity, and verdure and vegetation
is seen everywhere where previously there was desola-
tion. It is Africa, the land of surprises.

To the north of the Karroo region lie the next series
of massive mountain ranges running from west to east
— the Roggeveld, Nieuwveld, Sneeuwberg, Zuurberg,
and Stormberg ranges. Some of the highest peaks of
these mountains are the Kommandant Berg, 5300 feet ;
Bulbhonders Bank Berg, 7300 feet ; and the Kompas
Berg, over 8000 feet.

As the traveller who has crossed the Southern
Mountain Series and the Karroo region approaches
these northern ramparts, he sees before him various
parts of the range appearing like flat-topped table
summits. He has noticed these table- mountains on
all sides of him as he was passing across the Karroos.

The Northern
Series of


Each flat elevation is in reality a plateau, higher than
the one on which the observer is. When its summit
is reached, other flat-topped mountains are seen in
advance. These again are higher plateaux. The
entire surface of the land consists of a series of ter-
races gradually ascending towards the north.

Further to the west and north-west than the Eogge-
veld mountains, are the Hantam range, the Spioen Kop,
the Lange Berg, and the Kamies Berg.

To the north of the Great Northern Series of moun-
tain ranges, stretch the vast upland plateau plains
traversed by the southern tributaries of the Orange
Eiver, and gradually sloping towards the basin of that

As to the coast line of the Cape Colony — all the coast Line.
Atlantic and Indian Ocean seaboard between the
mouths of the Orange Eiver and of the Umtamvuna —
although extensive, it is without natural harbours and
without navigable river estuaries. Proceeding along
the coast from west to east, we have St. Helena Bay,
Saldanha Bay, Table Bay, Simon's Bay, and False Bay,

Online LibraryJ. C. (Johan Carel) VoigtFifty years of the history of the republic in South Africa (1795-1845) (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 25)