James Stuart.

A history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation online

. (page 21 of 52)
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officers, non-commissioned officers and men. It was
decided to accept volunteers from several existing mounted
volunteer corps, in order that each such unit should
participate in the campaign. The corps was accordingly
constituted as follows :



Officers.


W.O.'s.N.C.O.
and Men


's


7


99




■ 5


87





A Squadron, Imperial Light Horse

B „ South African Light Horse

C „ Johannesburg Mounted Rifles

and Scottish Horse - - 8 122

D ,, Northern, Eastern, and Western,

Mounted Rifles ... 5 82

Maxim gun, Searchlight, Transport and

Medical Detachments - - - - 4 L5

Regimental Staff . . . . _ 4 5

33 410

Hon. Capt. J. Peet, J.M.R., was appointed Quarter-
master, and Lieut. W. Bruce, Western Mounted Rifles,
Signalling Officer.

The unit was mobihzed on the 25th April, 1906. Not-
withstanding the fact that many difficulties had to be
contended with,^ the T.M.R. left Johannesburg for
Dundee, complete in every detail, on the 26th. The mobih-
zation had been carried out in a most effective manner and

^ Lieut.-Col. Barker, then in command of the South African Light
Horse, had previously served in the 1st Battalion 60th Regiment
(King's Royal Rifles) and 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex. At the beginning
of the Anglo-Boer War, he enlisted in the South African Light Horse
and took part in the Relief of Ladysmith. He was afterwards engaged
in operations in the northern districts of Natal and east of Pretoria.
He rose from the rank of Trooper to that of INIajor in the one campaign,
and was mentioned by his commanding officer no less than thirteen
times for conspicuous gallantry and capable handling of troops. He
was awarded the D.S.O., also Queen's medal with six clasps, and the
King's with two.

2 E.g. as service was voluntary, many who wished to enlist were
unable to obtain leave from their employers ; others, again, who had
volunteered were obliged to withdraw on their anticipated leave being
refused.



MOBILIZATION, ZULULAND FIELD FORCE 225

with such speed by Colonel C. J. Briggs, Commandant of
the Transvaal Volunteers, Major M. C. Rowland, Con-
troller and Paymaster, also officers, n.c.o.'s and men
connected with the supply of arms and equipment,
clothing, transport, pay, etc., as well as Major J. W. F.
Lamont, R.F.A., Chief Staff Officer, Transvaal Volunteers,
that the corps was obliged for several days to await orders
at Dundee.

In addition to all the expenses being defrayed by
the Transvaal Government, the corps drew all supplies,
except rations in the field, from the Transvaal Volunteer
Headquarters, Johannesburg.

The Natal Ministers received throughout the Rebellion
the fullest support, as well as sound practical advice, from
the Governor (who happened to be a Colonel in the
Imperial army). Finding that the situation at Nkandhla
had assumed a much graver aspect by reason of Siga-
nanda's unexpected defection, they resolved to grapple
with the problem on lines commensurate with its scope
and magnitude. The plan of at once driving through the
districts contiguous or adjacent to that of Nkandhla was
adopted. In carrying it out, the Northern District
Mounted Rifles were to advance from Babanango ; Roy-
ston's Horse and the Transvaal Mounted Rifles from
Empandhleni Magistracy ; and the Natal Police Field
Force, with a strong detachment of the Durban Light
Infantry, from Fort Yolland. The drifts over the Tugela
were to be guarded by the Umvoti Mounted Rifles, whilst
a strong force of the Natal Carbineers was to be stationed
at Helpmakaar to keep a powerful Chief Kula in check on
the drive taking place.

The Active Mihtia were, at the same time, mobilized
throughout Natal ; many of the units, however, remained
at their respective headquarters to keep the Natives in
check during the proposed movements. The First
Reserves in various towns and districts were also mobilized,
as it was not impossible that the Natives, seeing so large a
body of troops had crossed into Zululand, might rise and

p



226 THE ZULU REBELLION

attempt to massacre women and children. Much of the
intelKgence received at this time was beheved to indicate
that a coup of that kind was being contemplated.

The moment had arrived when the possibility of a
universal rising in Zululand, as well as in Natal, had to be
faced and provided against. If one Chief, without specific
grievance of his own, was ready to associate himself with
those who had taken up arms against the Government, it
was probable others would do the same on a fitting oppor-
tunity arising. As for the rest of the Native population, it
seemed certain that an isolated Chief here and there would
remain loyal with his people, though the great bulk would
watch events and go with the tide whichever way it
happened to flow. The Chief's personahty, however, was
not the material factor, for, owing to various reasons
which need not be set forth here, his influence, in many
cases, had been so undermined, that members of his tribe
remained loyal or not to him as it happened to suit their
individual fancy. The result was, that although the
majority, or even the whole tribe, decided to rebel, the
Chief would personally attach himself to the Government.
Thus, the mere fact of his professing to be loyal was no
guarantee whatever that the tribe would follow his
example. Generally speaking, his influence proved too
weak to prevent a few and sometimes many of his best
fighting men from joining the rebels. This was the state
of affairs in many directions, especially in Zululand and
the eastern parts of Natal, and defections would have gone
on to a greater extent than they did, until every tribal
unit had been ' hollowed out,' had not the Government
at this critical moment acted as vigorously and com-
prehensively as it did.

Colonel (now Brigadier-General Sir Duncan) McKenzie,
who had been in command of the column that operated in
the south-western portions of Natal, was placed in com-
mand of the combined forces, including the Transvaal
Mounted Volunteers and the section of the Natal Police
called out for active service in Zululand. His appointment
took effect on the 28th.




F. Atl;insoii, Ladysmlth,
COLONEL (now brigadier-general) sir DUNCAN MCKENZIE,
K.C.M.G., C.B., V.D.



ZULULAND FIELD FORCE 227

The composition and strength of the command, desig-
nated the " Zululand Field Force," will be found in
Appendices III. and IV. The troops under Leuchars, who
remained in Natal, appear in the same Appendices.

Th( position of Chief Staff Officer was conferred on
Colonel Sir A. Woolls-Sampson, K.C.B., of the Transvaal. ^
The other Staff appointments were made by McKenzie
from the force under his command.

The Commissioner for Native Affairs was appointed
Political Agent, with authority to represent and act for
the Governor and Supreme Chief under martial law in all
political matters that might have to be dealt with sum-
marily in Zululand. He was empowered to enquire into
the conduct of Chiefs, tribes or Natives who had received
and harboured Bambata, or otherwise assisted him, or
committed crimes requiring to be summarily disposed of,
with the object of suppressing the Rebellion, and to award
such punishment as was fitting, provided that all cases,
in which sentence in excess of two years' imprisonment
was passed, were referred to the Governor for confirma-
tion.

McKenzie proceeded to Dundee on the 30th, and
assumed command of his force on the following
moming.2

^ Sir Aubrey Woolls-Sampson (Honorary Colonel in the Army)
served throughout the South African War, 1899-1902 ; was engaged in
operations in Natal, 1899, including action at Elandslaagte, where he
was severely wounded. Mentioned in despatches, London Gazette, 8th
February and 15th November, 1901, and 17th January and 25th March,
1902. Granted honorary rank of Colonel in the Army. Queen's medal
with four clasps. King's medal with two clasps. Knighted (K.C.B.).

The Official Army List, 1911, Wyman & Sons, Ltd., Fetter Lane,
London, E.C.

2 It was, at the date in question, disposed as follows : — At
Dundee — Transvaal Mounted Rifles, 500 (Lieut.-Col. W. F. Barker) ;
Royston's Horse, 550 (Lieut.-Col. J. R. Royston) ; section. Natal Field
Artillery (two pompoms), 25 ; half a company of Durban Light
Infantry, 55 ; detachments of Medical, Veterinary, Signalling and
Service Corps. At Ntingwe — Zululand Mounted Rifles, 90 (Major W. A,
Vanderplank) ; Northern District Moimted Rifles, 150 (Major J.
Abraham). At Komo Hill (Fort Yolland) — Natal Naval Corps, 106
(Commander F. Hoare) ; section. Natal Field Artillery, 35 (two
15-pounders) ; Natal Police, 200 (Lieut.-Col. G. Mansel) ; Zululand
Native Police, 90 (Major C. Fairlie). At Eshowe — Two companies,
Dm-ban Light Infantry, 210 (25 moxmted) (Major J. Nicol). At
Oingindhlovu — Half a company, Durban Light Infantry, 55.



228 THE ZULU REBELLION

The column at Dundee left that place on the morning
of the 3rd May, with a convoy of 150 ox-waggons loaded
with provisions. The route followed was Laffnie's Drift,
Nqutu, Fort Louis and Itala. As the roads and drifts
were poor, progress was slow. Wherever a halt was made
for the night a square lager was formed by means of the
waggons. The country traversed was found almost
deserted. Newly-made assegais were discovered at a few
kraals in Zululand. The magistracy at Empandhleni was
reached on the 8th.

Whilst this column was on the march, developments of
an important nature were occurring on the south-eastern
side of the Nkandhla forests, resulting in the first serious
encounter with the enemy's forces, then, as has been seen,
made up of men of Bambata, Sigananda, Ndube, and
Mpumela's tribes. By this time, a number of men of
other tribes had also joined.

When Mansel reached Fort Yolland on the 29th April
(11 a.m.), he found Capt. W. Alexander, D.L.I. , had
already come in from Eshowe with a convoy of waggons
escorted by a company of D.L.I, and a troop of N.M.R.
The convoy had narrowly escaped an ambuscade, no
doubt devised by the raiders from Nkandhla to be re-
ferred to later.

It so happened that Chief Ndube, after having turned
his men out to capture Bambata as directed by the Magis-
trate, and after subsequently receiving an order from Mr.
Saunders prohibiting entry of Sigananda's ward until
Mansel had arrived to take charge of the operations, lost
many members of his tribe by their becoming rebels,
primarily, it would seem, to ensure their stock from being
looted by Bambata. Bambata and his allies were, at the
time, held in check by nothing whatsoever. They were
able to raid and range about over wide expanses of country
occupied by people as loyal as could be expected. These
raids had already taken place in Ndube's ward, foUowed
by others in those of Makubalo and Mfungelwa. Ndube's
men, therefore, were obliged to face the alternative, either



TERRORIZATION OF LOYALISTS 229

of being killed outright and losing their stock whilst
remaining loyal to a Government which had, up till then,
been unable to give them support, or to join the rebels and,
at any rate for the time being, save everything. It is not
surprising the latter alternative was seized by many.
Terrorization of this kind is one of the principal, though
not sufficiently considered reasons, why Bambata was
able so speedily to mass together the formidable force he
did. With his men melting away hourly, Ndube perceived
he could no longer remain loyal without serious risk to his
own life and property. He reported what had happened
to Leuchars at Krantzkop, and asked for advice. Leuchars
told him to move off with his cattle and the loyal portion
of the tribe if he felt in danger. He accordingly fled to
Eshowe with a number of followers on the night of the
22nd, whilst some of the women took refuge in Natal, near
the Tugela. Many of his people drove their stock into
Mfungelwa's ward, which adjoins that of Ndube on the
east. These cattle and others belonging to Mfungelwa's
people were what Sigananda and Bambata's men raided on
the night of the 28th and following morning. A number of
the owners, who happened to be dissociated from the
Ndube-ites, followed the raiders back to Nkandhla and
pleaded for the restoration of their stock. In many cases,
the applications were granted, the cattle being returned
after a forfeit of one large beast per herd had been levied,
" owing to its having set foot on ground in the hallowed
vicinity of the grave." The decision to raid at that
moment was probably precipitated by knowledge of the
fact that Mansel was moving to Fort Yolland.

An amjasing incident occurred about this time. Mfun-
gelwa had been directed that, should Bambata be seen
attempting a further raid, all it was necessary to do was
to raise a white flag on a hill near his kraal, a couple of
miles from, and within view of, the camp. This would be
taken as an alarm, when assistance would be rendered.
On the following Wednesday, the flag was observed
hoisted early in the morning. The whole force, numbering
350, stood to arms and moved out at a smart pace to



230 THE ZULU REBELLION

engage the enemy. Upon coming up to the flag and
clamouring for particulars as to the whereabouts of the
raiders, Mfungelwa quietly replied that there was no enemy
— in setting up the flag, he had done so merely as an
experiment, it appearing desirable to rehearse the part
he had to play in case of actual necessity !

The rebel scouts exposed themselves daily on Komo
hill, some five miles to the north-west ; from this point,
the movements of the troops at Fort Yolland were easily
perceivable. A reconnaissance was accordingly made to
Mfanefile's store at Maqonga, some three miles south of
Komo, when general information as to the rebels and the
country they were in was obtained.

By way of checking the enemy's encroachments, Mansel
decided to make another reconnaissance, this time in
force and towards Komo.

He moved out at 6 a.m. on the 5th, each man taking
two days' rations and 150 rounds of ammunition. Komo
was reached at 9 a.m. After an hour's halt, Mansel
decided to descend, via Sibudeni peak, into the valley
lying to the immediate south of the Nkandhla forests.
This valley, or rather series of valleys, was known to be
in the occupation of the enemy ; such area (including the
grave) being, indeed, their headquarters.

As the intention was simply to make a reconnaissance,
it was deemed unnecessary for it to be governed by any
definite, pre-conceived plan. Hence the commanding
officer, when he started from Komo, did not issue instruc-
tions as to what his objective was. Thus the men were
marched through parts of the forest at Sibudeni and into
the valley to a point within three or four miles of the
rebel headquarters, without any clear conception as to
what was to be done on getting within striking distance.
The movement, as will presently be seen, proved an
extremely hazardous one.

The strength of the force and its order of march, on
leaving Komo, was : 30 Mounted Infantry, D.L.I. , with
20 N.M.R. (Major S. G. Campbell) ; 86 Nongqai (Z.N.P.)
(Major C. FairKe) ; 200 Natal PoHce ; 80 Natal Naval



ACTION AT BOBE 231

Corps (Commander F. Hoare) ; 80 D.L.I. (Capt. R. L.
Goulding), and a levy of about 400 men, armed with shields
and assegais (Chief Mfungelwa). Total : 410 Europeans,
86 Zululand Native Pohce, 400 Native Contingent. Of
the Europeans, 250 were mounted, 160 unmounted ; the
Native forces were almost entirely unmounted.

Passing Sibudeni store (looted, it will be remembered,
some days previously by the rebels), the road entered a
small portion of the forests. Here fresh meat was dis-
covered, with signs of a fire near by. Three or four
assegais, too, with small rags attached containing medi-
cine of some sort, were seen, stuck in the ground by the
rebels in accordance with their superstitious ideas.

Progress now became slow, owing to occasional sniping
by rebels concealed in the bush. Those who were riding
dismounted and proceeded in half -sections, each man lead-
ing his horse. The Nongqai extended a few yards into the
forest on either side. The infantry, after fixing bayonets,
marched in single file on either edge of the track, officers
in the centre. By the time the open country that forms
the summit of a ridge called Bobe was reached, the
infantry, owing to the heat and absence of water, were
beginning to show signs of fatigue. After a halt, to give
the rear time to close up, the force descended by a foot-
path into the valley referred to, moving in single file.

The head of the column, keeping the footpath, passed
on through neck marked C on the plan to knolls D and E.
Another halt of about half an hour was made on the
western slope of E.

During the interval, thirty mounted men were sent to
burn a kraal (Mlibo's) a few j^ards off on the left. Lieut.
A. H. G. Blamey, wdth a few N.M.R., then advanced to
knoll F to reconnoitre. The time was about 3 p.m.
Moving up the eastern incline, and when about 350 yards
from the base of E, the scouts came upon about 300 rebels
lying perdu among the weeds and grass of an old garden,
a hundred yards to the right of the path. They were not
seen until they simultaneously rose to charge. As they
got up, they shouted " Usutu ! Usutu ! " at the top of



232 THE ZULU REBELLION

their voices, and dashed at the scouts who, after quickly
dismounting and firing a few shots, fell back to the rest
of the guard and Nongqai at E as best they could. At the
first shot, the Nongqai immediately lined themselves in
regular order on the right, along a contour of E about
half-way down the hill, and, with the N.M.R. and mounted
infantry — the latter having galloped up from the kraal
they were burning on hearing the fire and ranged them-
selves on the left — opened a heavy fusillade on the enemy
as he came rushing through a hail of bullets, the bullets
which up till that moment he believed would not ' enter.'
Each ran stoopingly with shield before his face, as if try-
ing to ward off the bullets, whilst a tshokohezi badge tossed
wildly about his head. They came on with great dash,
directing their attack mainly at the left front of the
position. It was at that point that most of them feU.
In one or two instances, the Nongqai, who behaved with
conspicuous coolness and pluck, were obliged to resort to
their bayonets.

Finding themselves beaten at the first rush, they broke,
large numbers making down the steep and slightly wooded
watercourses on either side of the kraal marked " Man-
yunda." Another section disappeared down the northern
slopes that converge at F, where they concealed them-
selves, in the vicinity of Nkunzana river. A number were
shot as they ran, especially on the south-western slopes.

The Natal Police, when the action began, were quickly
pushed up to support at D, about 300 yards from E, from
where a heavy and effective fire proceeded for the few
moments the enemy was visible. The Navals and the
D.L.I, came forward on hearing the fire. The former, at
the time, were on the Bobe side of the neck leading to D,
i.e. at B, some few yards up the inchne. From such posi-
tion, a Maxim they had with them opened at long range,
proving effective. The D.L.L, still further up Bobe at A,
being rear-guard, did not come into action at this stage.

After the rebels had dispersed, the column moved for-
ward and began to close up about 300 yards west of F.
Suddenly another body of rebels, about 400 strong, was




BOBE

Scale of yards



zoo *oo eoo

REFERENCE
A, B. C, &c., see text

Footpath .c^ Native kraal

jRovfe taken by troops

Nkandla forests lie on immediate
right and right front of the map



Drawn byT.W. Bru-de-Wold, 1906.



George Phjhp & Sen. I^



ACTION AT BOBE 233

seen moving up the Nkunzana, as if making for the rear
of the rear-guard, and therefore attempting a belated
encircHng movement. Possibly Hansel's extraordinarily
long column and its abnormally slow progress, was the
reason why the enemy's attack on the rear-guard failed
as it did. The front impi had come into action before the
rear one (owing to the very high ground Hansel's rear-guard
was still descending) could attempt the usual enveloping
tactics. As this body reached a kraal on the north side of
Bobe, it was joined by a company that had been scouting
for some days on Nomangci and which, hearing the fire,
had come unsoHcited to help. The impi then advanced
towards the rear-guard (D.L.I. ). Not many minutes
before, the officer in charge of the guard had had occasion
to send Hfungelwa and his force to capture stock and burn
kraals on the left, consequently he was under the impres-
sion the Natives he saw were the Native contingent, until,
examining with field-glasses, he noticed that none wore
the usual Turkey-red and calico badge. The enemy was
thereupon fired into by the guard and N.N.C. ; without
charging, although firing a few shots, he broke and dis-
appeared down the slopes up which he had just come.

The column again moved on, only to turn sharp left
to cross the Halambu still further below. The enemy
followed. The rear-guard was now supported by mounted
men, who, firing on the impi in the direction of F, were
themselves fired on from the Nkunzana by eighteen rebels
stationed at that point. After pretending to move on to
join the column at Halambu, the mounted men suddenly
returned and, finding the rebels in force in the open at
short range, shot down a number. Still another section
showed themselves near Nkolotshane hill, about two miles
off to the south-west. They opened ineffectively at long
range.

It was now late in the afternoon. Owing to the
exhausted condition of the men, the desirability of camp-
ing on the left side of Halambu was considered, but,
because of the long, dry tambookie grass thereabout, which
could easily have been set alight, and to most of the



234 THE ZULU REBELLION

ammunition being spent, Mansel decided to make for Fort
Yolland.

Needless to say, the return march, with the infantry in
so exhausted a condition, was extremely difficult. Nor
was this to be wondered at. They had already walked
twenty miles over rough country, in heavy order.

The enemy dogged the troops for miles, constantly
sniping at them in the moonlight : nor did he desist until
the main road near Mfanefile's store had been fairly
reached. Some of the infantry did not get to camp until
midnight.

The reconnaissance was carried out in an apparently
loose and irregular manner. Absence of plan has already
been noticed. This omission, with the enemy known to be
massed in the vicinity of Cetshwayo's grave, was evidently
an error of judgment. Conducted as the reconnaissance
presumably was with the object of acquiring information,
it actually obtained none that was not already known.
Although tv/o days' rations were carried, no decision was
come to as to where the column should camp for the night.
This involved taking heavily-laden infantry over ab-
normally long and difficult tracts of country, so much so
that it was owing only to their sterling qualities and
perseverance that they were able to march as they did.
When the first attack had been repulsed, there was an
oversight in not pursuing and severely punishing the
rebels. Had this been done, it might have had something
of the demoralizing effect that the Mome had later on.

All units and ranks behaved with much gallantry,
repelling attacks that might easily have proved calami-
tous.

The principal meed of praise must be awarded to the
N.M.R., M. Inf., D.L.I., and last, though not least, the
Nongqai, owing to whose coolness and steadiness, the first
and principal success was mainly due.

When Blamey and his troop were obliged to fall back,
a number of the horses would not let the men mount,
consequently with the enemy in hot pursuit 100 yards
away, they had to make off on foot. '' My horse," says



ACTION AT BOBE 235

Blarney, " would not let me put my foot in the stirrup, so
I vaulted into the saddle. On turning the horse round,
two rebels threw their assegais at me. I shot one and then
galloped off." He had not gone far, however, before he
came across Corpl. Acutt on foot, whose rifle had jammed.
The man managed to fire and then took to his heels, the
leading rebel five to ten yards in rear. Whilst on the
gallop, Blamey, catching Acutt up, offered him his stirrup-
leather to hold on to ; instead of seizing it, the man put
up his arm, asking for help. On this, Blamey, dropping
his revolver, grabbed the arm and, dragging the man over
the saddle with much difficulty, rejoined the troop at E.



Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 21 of 52)