James Stuart.

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

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Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 24 of 52)
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Lieut. J. H. C. Nuss, with thirty men, was directed by
Leuchars to proceed to Keate's Drift, Mooi River, to
relieve the N.P. stationed there ; the latter travelled by
rail to Gingindhlovu and joined Mansel's column at Fort
Yolland on the 2nd May, three days before the action at

The attitude of the Chiefs Gayede and Hlangabeza
continued for some time to cause much apprehension,
especially owing to their being so close to the disaffected
areas in Zululand, and from the fact that many inter-
marriages were known to have taken place between their
tribes and those in the Nkandhla district. As a result
of this intimacy, manj^ refugees fled into their wards.
On one occasion, Mbuzana, of Mpumela's tribe, crossed
into Gayede's ward for protection with the inmates of
twenty-eight kraals , Strict orders were given that invasion
of their wards by rebels was to be resisted by force. It
was discovered that they were not properly guarding the
drifts, and, in fact, acting as spies on behalf of the enemy.
To so great an extent did they sympathize with the rebels
that, had our arms suffered a reverse, they would probably
have rebelled. As it was, a portion of Tshutshutshu's
tribe was reported to be arming and eleven kraals of
Gayede's tribe as having joined Sigananda,^ whilst small
batches of Ngobizembe's (in Mapumulo division) pro-
ceeded to Nkandhla, some of them already doctored for

News arrived on the 30th that rebels were busy
removing grain from their kraals to the forests at
Nkandhla. A patrol of fifty men from the U.F.F. visited
Middle Drift.

On the 1st May, the U.F.F. marched to a position
near the Inadi, where it was joined by the squadron

^ In consequence of Bambata's and Sigananda's impis' raiding tactics.
Many cattle were at the same time driven into Natal.

2 Two of Gayede's sons were killed in the action at Bobe.


that had been posted at Krantzkop, as well as by about
eighty of the First Umvoti Reserves, under Chief Leader
J. A. Nel.i

A patrol by a squadron was made through Sibindi's
ward, the tribe much appreciating the action. Owing to
this Chief's activity on behalf of the Government, he had
become intensely disliked by the many who were in
sympathy with the rebels, with the result that his people
were in danger of attack at any moment by Gayede's
tribe, or other neighbouring ones.

A squadron U.M.R., under Capt. E. Simkins, with forty
Reserves from Krantzkop, proceeded on the 5th to
Watton's store, in consequence of information to the effect
that an impi had been seen in that locahty, and that the
store had been looted and burnt ; the inteUigence was
subsequently found to be correct. The party crossed
into Nkandhla district, destroyed several kraals there
and seized about sixty cattle.

These cattle were subsequently claimed by loyalists
of Mpumela's tribe, who had taken refuge in Natal. The
stock had been driven by them to graze across the river
in Zululand, i.e. in the district from which they had
recently fled. After inquiry of the Commissioner in
Zululand, the stock was restored to the claimants.

At this time, many women and children belonging to
Bambata's tribe were wandering about without sufficient
food, and hiding in bushes in the wards of Bambata,
Sibindi and Silwana. Sibindi asked permission to collect
those in his ward and take them to Grey town. On
permission being granted, all who came in were fed and
well looked after. A suggestion by Leuchars that a
concentration camp should be erected for them at Pieter-
maritzburg was not acted upon. All the women had,
therefore, to be placed temporarily in charge of their

1 The strength and disposition of Leuchars' forces, at 3rd May, was
as follows : At Mazongwane (high np Inadi River) — U.M.R., 192 ;
N.F.A., 37 ; N.M.C., 3 ; N.V.C., 2 ; N.T.C., 6. At G-Ve^/ioiyn— N.R.R.,
44 ; N.S.C., ; U.M.R., 7 ; Reserves, 81. At Krantzkop— ^.B,.^., 58 ;
Reserves, 81 ; U.M.R., 5 ; N.S.C., 1. At Keate's Drift— U.M.U., 31.
At MapwmwZo— U.M.R., 20.


relations, i.e. members of adjoining tribes that had
hitherto remained loyal.

Requiring in the field a larger force of mounted men
than was already at his disposal, Leuchars, on the authority
of the Commandant, caused the First Greytown Reserves
to be re-mobilized and to proceed to Greytown to relieve
the Umvoti District Reserves, who thereupon joined him
at the farm " Sohtude," some six miles from Krantzkop
magistracy and nearer the Tugela.

Persistent rumours were afloat to the effect that Gayede
and Hlangabeza's tribes would join the rebels should the
latter invade Natal. It was also reported on rehable
authority that large numbers of Kula's tribe were in arms
under that Chief's uncle Mtele in the Umsinga division.
It further transpired that Gobeyana, a son of Gayede,
had actually asked his father's permission to arm the
tribe and aid the enemy, after Bambata, flying from
Mpanza, had gone through his ward. Permission was,
however, refused.

On the other hand, an offer of help was received from
Chief Ngqambuzana of Weenen division in the event
of its being required by the Government.

In consequence of the Zululand Field Force being sent
to Nkandhla — arriving there, as has been seen, on the
8th May — it now became necessary for Leuchars to
co-operate as much as possible in connection therewith,
without, however, actually crossing into Zululand, except
for a few hours at a time. This policy, which was quite
in harmony with the Commandant's general plan of
campaign and, indeed, formed an essential part thereof,
was adhered to so long as Nkandhla continued to be
the principal rallying-ground of the rebels. The U.F.F.
accordingly confined its attentions primarily to the rugged
regions immediately south of the Tugela and lying between
Middle Drift and Ngubevu. Thus, whilst keeping such
powerful Chiefs as Silwana, Hlangabeza and Gayede in
check, by constantly demonstrating in or near their
tribes, the column was, at the same time, in the position
of being able to assist materially in Zululand in any


extensive, quickly-executed operations the O.C. at
Nkandhla might wish to undertake.

Moving to " SoUtude " on the 10th, Leuchars, on the
11th, having heard that the rebels were in strength at
Macala, marched at 2 a.m. with 150 U.M.R. and 60
Umvoti Reserves for Watton's Drift. He reached it at
sunrise and, crossing at once, occupied ridges facing the
drift. None of the enemy were to be seen. He then
proceeded for about eight miles down the river, clearing
a belt of country on the left bank to a width of five or six
miles. Returning to a spot opposite the drift, the column,
after a halt, moved up the Manyane valley to a point
immediately below and about 1,500 yards from the
Macala bush. Numbers of the enemy could be seen
scouting on the hill-tops, but they would not allow the
troops to come within range. The Tugela drift was
reached at 5, and the camp at " Solitude " at 8 p.m.
The eighteen hours' march, with but two halts, through
exceedingly rough country, was weU borne by man and

Owing to difficulties as regards water, the U.F.F. was
obliged to move to the farm '' Spekfontein " and nearer
to Krantzkop magistracy. Further intelhgence was
there received from different sources betraying a strong
disposition on the part of Chiefs Kula in Umsinga, Gayede
in Krantzkop, and Meseni, Mtamo, Ndhlovu, Swaimana
and Ngobizembe in Mapumulo, divisions, to rebel as soon
as others like Mehlokazulu had actually begun to fight
in Zululand. Swaimana personally was loyal, though
practically the whole of his tribe was the reverse. The
various tribes in Mapumulo division were, moreover,
observed to be openly carrying arms. Their demeanour
was insolent. The people of Ngobizembe' s tribe were
being doctored for war. The kraals of loyahsts, too,
near Hot Springs ^ were being burnt by rebels. Chief
Mpumela apphed for permission to come into Natal, as
he was being harassed by the enemy. This Leuchars

^ These springs are in the bed of the Tugela River, some nine miles
from Krantzkop.


refused to grant, instructing him to place himself under
the protection of the nearest column in Zululand.

Under the foregoing circumstances, Leuchars resolved
to make a dash into Zululand through Middle Drift. After
moving to Krantzkop on the 14th, he marched to the
drift, reaching it at 5 a.m.^ Here the N.R.R. were left,
also a squadron U.M.R. ; the remainder of the force
moved to Hot Springs. The 15-pounders, with a troop
U.M.R. , were placed on a position commanding the
opposite country. The rest of the force operated in
Zululand in a north-easterly direction. Many kraals
were destroyed and 400 cattle captured, also goats. Small
parties of the enemy were seen and fired on, ten being
killed ; as a rule, however, they were careful to keep on
the hill-tops and beyond rifle range. " An unfortunate
accident," says Leuchars, " occurred during the operations,
which resulted in the wounding of a woman and a child.
Two men were observed running across a mealie-field and
were fired upon at about 1,000 yards. They escaped,
but the woman and child, who were hiding in a mealie
hut past which the men ran, were wounded. The medical
officer attended to them and they were placed in charge
of an elderly male prisoner who was released to take care
of them."

The column returned to Hot Springs at 3 p.m. Here
it was found the goats would not face the water, so had
to be left. While crossing the remainder of the stock,
a few shots were fired at those engaged in the work.
Sibindi's men were left in charge of the goats, whilst
Leuchars went on to Middle Drift. Presently, word came
that the former had been again sniped at. A troop was
immediately sent back, when a couple of rebels were
observed crossing from an island to the Zululand side.
One of them was captured. The goats were got across
with great difficulty on the 16th.

It was at this stage that Leuchars received the invitation

1 His force was composed as follows : U.M.R., 150 ; 1st Umvoti
Reserves, 40 ; 2nd Umvoti Reserves, .30 ; Krantzkop Reserves, 50 ;
N.F.A., two guns ; N.R.R., 50 ; and 25 men of Sibindi's levy.


to co-operate in the general converging movement on
Cetshwayo's grave. His operations on that occasion
have already been described on pp. 242-244.

The troops re-crossed the river at 7 a.m. on the 18th,
reached Hot Springs camp at mid-day, and moved up
to Krantzkop the following morning. The N.F.A. horses
performed the heavy work required of them on this
occasion without a hitch, although a section of the road
up a steep cutting was greatly out of repair.

The country between Middle and Watton's Drifts
having been fairly well cleared, Leuchars resolved to take
his force via Inadi to Ngubevu, " so as to be in a position
to co-operate with any column which might work towards
the Mfongozi from the Zululand side." Nuss, at Keate's
Drift, reheved by twenty-five N.R.R., and the detach-
ment of the 1st Umvoti District Reserves, at Greytown,
joined Leuchars at Ngubevu on the 21st. The 2nd
U.D.R. were sent back to Greytown for demobilization.
Leuchars' force now consisted of U.M.R. ; 1st U.D.R. ;
and twenty Krantzkop Reserves.

IntelHgence was received to the effect that a rebel
irri'pi under Mtele was camped where the Mazabeko
stream joins the Buffalo, whilst Kula's brother Manuka,
induna over that portion of the tribe which occupied the
Mngeni valley, was in league with Mtele.^

Leuchars pitched his camp beside the Mfongozi road
drift. A strong bush fence was erected round the camp.
Here a message was received from Sibindi to say he was
mobilizing and would join the U.F.F. forthwith. He
was, however, directed to stand fast for the night. He
came over on the 22nd, to say that if the column was
crossing into Zululand, he would Uke to accompany it
with his levy. Leuchars repHed that he had no intention
of doing this and instructed him to cross into the Umsinga

1 Reports had been received as far back as the 19th ult. of messengers
having come to Mtele from Mehlokazulu and Faku in Zululand asking
him to co-operate. On his agreeing, Mehlokazulu instructed Kula
through Mtele " to wait until fighting had commenced in earnest in
Zululand, when he was to attack Pomeroy and then proceed against


portion of his ward, and, after taking up a suitable position
on his boundary, to watch the actions of Manuka's people
whose ward was conterminous with his own. " This
action of Sibindi in mobihzing his impi,'' says Leuchars,
" was entirely voluntary, as I had not sent word to him
of my intention to pass through his location."

A troop went into Zululand on the 23rd to reconnoitre.
On the 24th, it was reported that Gunderson's store on
the Qudeni had been looted, and that an i7npi of about
150 was in Hlatikulu forest (Qudeni). Further intelli-
gence went to show that Manuka's section of Kula's
tribe had risen and joined the rebels under Mtele and
Mehlokazulu. It also appeared that the Kombe forest
and Qudeni mountain generally were now the principal
resorts of the enemy.

Being of the view that co-operation between the
different columns was essential to success, Leuchars wired
in this sense to the Commandant of Militia as well as to
McKenzie and Mackay. The latter, on this day, was
engaged operating in difficult country about Mahlaba,
barely seven miles, as it happened, from Mpukunyoni
hiU (in Zululand), soon to become the scene of a notable
action by Leuchars. Leuchars rode to Tugela Ferry, on
the Pomeroy-Greytown road, on the 25th, to confer by
telephone with the Commandant. At 9 p.m. he received
a wire from McKenzie saying a column was being sent to
the bush close to Ensingabantu store, and that it was timed
to arrive there at dawn (26th). A messenger was there-
upon sent by Leuchars to Major W. J. S. Newmarch,
instructing him to proceed with three squadrons to the
neck overlooking Mfongozi valley and there keep a sharp
look-out for rebels who might fly from McKenzie.
Leuchars joined Newmarch at 2.30 p.m. Small parties
of the enemy were seen about Hlatikulu, but out of reach.
Nothing was seen or heard of McKenzie's column. On
Leuchars' retiring, a hundred or so of the enemy came
out of Hlatikulu to watch his departure ; owing, however,
to the lateness of the hour and to difficult intervening
country, no attempt was made to engage or trap them.



Mackay left Empandhleni for Helpmakaar via Nond-
weni and Nqutu on the 11th May, returning by the same
route he had taken on the forward journey. Nothing of
importance occurred on the march. Nondweni was
reached on the 13th.^

When at Empandhleni, he had received unsatisfactory
accounts of Mehlokazulu's behaviour towards the Magis-
trate. Notwithstanding two or three orders to appea^r
at the magistracy (Nqutu) he had failed to do so on the
plea of ill-health. On reaching Nqutu, Mackay sent his
Intelligence Officer, Capt. J. Stuart, accompanied by
Sergt. Roberts, N.P., early on the 16th, to Mehlokazulu's
kraal to instruct that Chief to meet him the same after-
noon at Rorke's Drift. Stuart visited three kraals, but
could not find Mehlokazulu ; the latter purposely avoided
a meeting. He vacated his third and furthest kraal
Pumulefile {with death comes rest) at dawn, no doubt
because suspicious of being in some way deceived. This
kraal was at the foot of a precipice and reached only with
difficulty by horsemen. Every effort was made to find
him, but, in the absence of his induna, his mother and
wives either did not know or would reveal nothing. In
consequence of this well-intentioned mission — carried
out in the belief that a man, for years notorious as one
of the actual starters of the Zulu War of 1879, would
probably wish not to be associated a second time with
such nefarious practices — Mehlokazulu, reahzing he had
lost an opportunity of coming to the troops and explaining
his conduct, forthwith quitted his kraal and ward and
entered upon a mad career of open rebelHon. He collected
as many malcontents as he could from his own tribe —
luckily, however, the majority of the tribe remained loyal
to the Government — and combined with those on the

^ When at Nondweni, a small party visited the spot where the Prince
Imperial and others were killed during the Zulu War. The memorial
cairn and graveyard, in charge of a Native headman, were found to be
in good order.


opposite side of the Buffalo in Natal under Nondubela
(Mavukutu) and Mtele, who had just clashed with the
N.M.R. at Elands Kxaal (12th May).i The amalgamated
force, constantly threatened by Mackay's strong and
active column, decided to move towards the storm-centre
at Nkandhla. picking up recruits in Faku's and other
Chiefs' wards on the way down. The largest number
of accessions was obtained from the ancient Ntombela
tribe under Faku (the last of Sir Garnet Wolseley's
famous " thirteen kinglets "), whilst a few came from
Matshana ka Mondise's and other tribes. The tribes
of Mpiyake, Matshana ka Sitshakuza, Gadaleni, Nonga-
mulana (a near relation of Bambata) and the Basutos,
under Mayime, remained entirely loyal throughout the

The posting of a column near Helpmakaar, where
Mackay arrived on the 14th May,^ was a wise and far-
sighted step on the part of the Commandant, for it had
the effect of holding both Kula in Natal and Mehlokazulu
in check. As it happened, the rebels fled before Mackay's
column wherever it went, no doubt because of its being
extra strong and because it traversed ground that did
not afford much cover, though often difficult to operate
in, especially near and on both sides of the Buffalo.

At 6 a.m. on the 23rd, all available men were promptly
sent to defend Helpmakaar on receipt of a report that
Mehlokazulu's hnpi, said to have just entered Natal, was
about to attack the village. The news, however, turned
out to be false.

Mackay operated on the 24th and 25th May in the
exceedingly rough country about Mahlaba and Mahlabana
(in Natal), barely seven miles as the crow flies from
Mpukunyoni. This, together with his further moves in the
direction of Rorke's Drift on the 26th, and Isandhlwana

1 An account of the position and occurrences at Umsinga will be found
in Chapter XV.

2 It will be seen in Chapter XV., that a column (under Murray- Smith)
was posted at Fort Mm-ray- Smith, a couple of miles from Helpmakaar,
simultaneously with the departure of the Zululand Field Force for
Nkandhla from Dundee on the 1st May.


on the 27th, undoubtedly had the effect of driving the
rebels from those parts of Natal and Zululand, further
into Zululand, and, as it happened, right on to Leuchars,
who, as will presently be seen, stepped across at Ngubevu
to Mpukunyoni on the 27th and almost immediately
came into conflict with a large force of the enemy.

As already explained, it was owing to a misunderstand-
ing that Mackay, on the morning of the 26th, left his
camp near Helpmakaar for Zululand.

At 9 p.m. (26th), Leuchars got a wire from Mackay,
saying he was marching with a force 600 strong from
Rorke's Drift on the 27th to operate about ten miles down
the Buffalo river on the Zululand side. He at once
decided to move into Zululand with a force and gain
touch with Mackay, though he did not inform Mackay he
was doing so.^ Orders were sent to Sibindi (then in
Umsinga division) to march his impi across the Buffalo
to meet Leuchars in the vicinity of Ngqulu and Mpukun-
yoni hills, six miles west of Qudeni mountain. Owing to
the country on both sides of the Buffalo being exceedingly
broken, orders were given that only a top-coat or blanket,
3 lbs. of grain, and one day's rations were to be carried.
The actual duration of the incursion was to be governed
by circumstances, it being felt that, in case of necessity,
the troops could easily Uve on the country for a week.

Getting away at 5.30 a.m. (27th), the force, consisting
of 180 U.M.R. and 60 U.D.R., with the Krantzkop
Reserves, after much severe climbing over rocky thorn
country, reached the ledge about half-way up on the
western face of Qudeni mountain.

On the way up, Colonel Leuchars' horse, which had got
above him, fell. It knocked him down and rolled over
him. But for a thorn bush, it must have gone to the
bottom of the mountain. Leuchars, who was badly
bruised and shaken, had great difficulty in getting along,
either walking or riding. Although he must have been
in great pain, he did not delay the column.

^ Mackay was not advised, as the only means of communication, a
telephone, was eighteen miles away.


A number of recently vacated huts belonging to disloyal
members of Mbuzo's tribe were destroyed, as also supplies
of grain found there. Many rebels could be seen on the
mountain top, but as it was important to keep the appoint-
ment with Sibindi, the column was not delayed on their

As far as could be seen, there were no cattle in Mbuzo's
ward, which lay to the right along the Tugela. All had
apparently been removed to the top of the mountain.
In Matshana ka Mondise's ward, however, there were
large numbers, but they were for the most part the prop-
erty of Matshana himself. They were not interfered
with, as all the intelligence went to show that that Chief
and the majority of his people were loyal, although five
of his sons had rebelled. A number of kraals in the ward,
belonging to rebels, were destroyed.

Matshana's kraal on the Qudeni was reached at 11.30
a.m., when an interview took place between Leuchars and
the Chief. The latter was delighted to see a European
force, as he was afraid lest the rebels, led by his sons — •
who wished him out of the way — should attack him.
He was, therefore, sorry to learn the column would be
in that part only a day or so, leaving him to protect
himself as best he could in the absence of his loyal young
men. These, in response to the Government's call, had
gone off to assist at Nkandhla.

Guides were now furnished by 'the Chief, when the force
moved to Mpukunyoni hill, reaching there at 12.30 p.m.
After off-saddling for an hour at another of Matshana's
kraals, the troops divided into three sections and pro-
ceeded to different positions on the long ridge opposite
to, and immediately north of, Mpukunyoni. One of these
bodies surprised a party of ten armed rebels driving
cattle towards Faku's ward, nearly the whole of whose
people were already in open rebellion. A troop, under
Lieut. H. E. G. Fannin, was dismounted and sent to a
small, wooded valley into which these rebels had fled.
The valley was driven, with the result that eight Natives
were killed and the cattle captured.


The other portions of the force had, in the meantime,
gone off to the north-east into Faku's ward, where they
burnt a number of kraals.

At 4.30 p.m. Sibindi joined Leuchars with about 1,100

It now became necessary to select a site on which to
bivouack for the night. The only water available was a
little stream called Burobo, which flows from east to
west, and about a mile from Mpukunyoni. Between the
stream and Mpukunyoni the country is intersected by
dongas which run from the base of the hill to open on to
different parts of the stream. With the object of being
near water, Leuchars selected an old meahe garden
between two of the dongas referred to, and only 200 yards
from the stream. This spot was by no means a good one
for defensive purposes, being in the midst of broken and
somewhat bush-covered country, with high tambookie
grass, and commanded by high ground in several direc-
tions, especially on the immediate north. In other
respects the ground was favourable for a Zulu army to
operate in. The ' chest ' could form up and advance
unseen up a donga in one direction, whilst somewhat
similar advantages were available for each of the
' horns.' From a soldier's point of view, therefore, the
site was somewhat questionable. There was, indeed,
safer ground higher up nearer the hill, but Leuchars was
a diplomat as well as a soldier, and, with a lengthy
experience in Natal, he thoroughly understood the
Native character. He knew that manoeuvring in itself
would have little or no effect on the rebels. As at
Nkandhla, a collision was essential, but to bring it about,
it was necessary to give the enemy a fancied advantage.

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 24 of 52)