James Stuart.

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

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The bivouac took the form of a square, each side
of which was 120 yards long. Two squadrons U.M.R.
(Headquarters and City) occupied the eastern face ; one
squadron U.M.R. (Noodsberg) and one squadron U.D.R.
the southern ; and Sibindi the other two faces. Sibindi 's
men were particularly adapted for night work, having
magnificent eyesight, and a keen sense of hearing.


The squadron which had been operating on the north-
east, returned at 6 p.m. to report having observed an impi,
about the same size as Sibindi's, moving towards Mpukun-
yoni from high hills on the north-east. This force,
Leuchars concluded, was moving away from Mackay.
It was, however, too late then to operate against it.

Soon after the men had settled down for the night,
a man arrived from Matshana ka Mondise to warn Leuchars
to be particularly careful as the enemy was near by,
and to point out that, in his opinion, the column had
bivouacked in a dangerous locality.

Every precaution was taken to safeguard the square
against surprise. Sentries and pickets were directed to
be extra vigilant. During the night, which was a bitterly
cold one, two false alarms occurred, one at 10.30 p.m.,
the other about 2 a.m., both caused by young sentries of
Sibindi's levy. The alacrity with which every man
sprang to his place, without the least confusion, was
highly satisfactory.

At 4.30 a.m. all stood to arms. Half an hour later,
a troop under Lieut. J. H. C. Nuss was sent out, with
orders to reconnoitre in the direction in which the impi
had been seen the previous evening. If it was not in sight,
he was to go to a suitable hiU and try and get into com-
munication with Mackay by heliograph.

About 6 a.m., however, Nuss and his troop, after firing
a couple of shots by way of alarm, rode back to report
that the enemy was approching in force and was close
at hand. As he spoke, the latter could be heard shouting
their war-cry " Usutu " as they advanced. In a few
moments, a dark mass could be observed in the half-light
of early dawn,^ streaming rapidly over a small neck some
700 yards north-east of the square. They moved at once
into the bed of the stream where, it so happened, the
cattle seized by Leuchars on the preceding day had been
left for the night. A smaller force (left * horn ') could,
about the same time, be seen sweeping along the foot of
Mpukunyoni in rear of the bivouac, as if to attack from

^ The sun rose, on the day in question, at about 6.45 a.m.


the donga on the west. Another force, evidently the right
* horn,' detaching itself from the ' chest,' came down
the stream to engage the north side of the square.

The attack opened at 6.15 a.m. on the eastern face,
by the enemy causing the cattle, which they had driven
ahead of them, to rush wildly at the square on emerging
from the donga referred to. The order was thereupon
given to fire, when, at the first volley, fifteen of the cattle
fell within 15 or 20 yards of the troops. Two or three of
those rebels who were advancing under cover of the cattle
were also killed. This had the effect of checking the
enemy's rush for a time. The rebels then proceeded to
encircle the square, keeping well under the excellent
available cover. Repeated attempts were made to rush
at the bivouac through the open ground between it and
the dongas, but, on each occasion, the attack was over-
whelmed by steady, well-directed fire.

The fight had by now assumed practically all the
characteristics pecuHar to South African warfare. There
were the Militia Reserves, the majority of them Dutchmen,
their horses already saddled, prepared, in accordance with
the practice of their forefathers, on being too hardly
pressed, to mount and retire to the next ridge and again
contend against overwhelming odds. There, too, were
the Active Militia, most of them the descendants of
Scotchmen or EngHshmen, who, true to the custom of
their ancestors, had, with saddles planted on the ground,
taken shelter behind them, having come to stay and fight
to the bitter end.

The enemy, again, delivered his attack in true Zulu
style. The ' horns ' had deployed from the ' chest ' to
right and left in the ancient orthodox manner with the
idea of encircling, closing in on, and eventually massacring,
their opponents to a man. Sibindi and his men, too, were
there, though only at a later stage did they get a chance
of exhibiting the martial instincts of their tribe.

Whilst the various attacks were in progress, the leaders
urging the men to close in, it was observed that the enemy
had approached to within 80 yards of Sibindi's men,


causing the latter to become a little nervous. It was
accordingly considered necessary for all sides of the
square to be held by riflemen. To do this, some were
withdrawn from other parts, and the sides of the square
reduced by about 20 yards. The movement, which took
place about 6.45 a.m., was carried out with the utmost
coolness, enabling the enemy to be opposed at every point
with heavy, effective fire.

During the whole of this time, there had been an
incessant fire from two or three men who were armed with
modern weapons and concealed on the long high ridge on
the north. They were between 700 and 800 yards from
the square. This fire caused a considerable number of
casualties, including Tpr. H. Steele, U.D.R., killed ;
Tprs. S. Mackenzie and P. Braithwaite, U.D.R., wounded ;
sub-Leader T. J. van Rooyen, Krantzkop Reserves,
wounded (three places) ; twenty-one men of Sibindi's levy,
wounded — three of them succumbing to their injuries
within three hours. There were also many narrow escapes,
and casualties among the horses. All but three of the
casualties among the men were caused by Mauser bullets.

The whole of the cover on the ridge in question was
carefully searched by picked marksmen. Later on a man,
reported to be Faku's induna, was found dead there. The
principal sniper, however, escaped, a man named Magadise.

Up to 7.30 a.m., Sibindi's men had remained practically
inactive. When superseded by the riflemen, they had
withdrawn into the square. They did not, however,
like quitting the cover afforded by the grass. They then
quietly abided the issue, sustaining the many casualties
referred to whilst conforming to methods of warfare
which must have appeared to them strange. When,
however, the enemy's attacks became less vigorous, they
reahzed that their turn to pursue must shortly arrive.
The order came. In about five minutes, Sibindi got his
men to charge. This they did strictly in accordance
with the custom of their forefathers, shouting their tribal
war-cry " Undi ! Undi " as they bounded forth to deal
destruction to their flying foes.



Many rebels escaped via the waterfall and down the great
valley on the west of the square. Others were pursued up
the ridge, and in numerous other directions. The levy
alone succeeded in kilhng thirteen at the waterfall.

A squadron was sent in pursuit of those that had
attacked from the donga on the west and then retreated
round Mpukunyoni. Troops were, moreover, sent in
pursuit to the north-east. One of these discovered the
enemy's blankets, etc., at a kraal about one and a half
miles off. The things had been left there just prior to

The dead were counted in the scrub and dongas immedi-
ately round the lager, fifty-seven bodies being found,
exclusive of those killed by Sibindi's men. The aggregate
was probably not less than a hundred. Among the slain
was Babazeleni, Faku's chief induna and principal com-
mander of the impi.

The losses sustained by the Reserves were attributed
by Leuchars to their having saddled up when the alarm
was given, and stood on their line with the bridles over
their arms. The saddled horses naturally afforded a
good target for the snipers.

The wounded were attended to by Dr. C. H. Crass,
N.M.C., who, with three members of the Signalling Corps
as assistants, performed his duties during the action and
afterwards in an eminently satisfactory manner.

The attacking rebels proved to be only about 800
strong. They were composed of Faku's and Mtele's
tribes, with some from Makafula and Mehlokazulu. A
number of them were Christians. One of these, as was
proved from a pocket-book found on him, was a certificated
preacher of the Gordon Memorial Mission, Natal.

Owing to several of the wounded having to be carried
on improvised stretchers, to there being no sign of Mackay,
and to the enemy having been seen at Qudeni on the 27th,
Leuchars resolved to return to Ngubevu, though by a
different route, namely via Ngqulu, the Buffalo valley
and Sibindi's location.

The return journey began at 10.30 a.m., but proved

Del- Aug Hammor, 1906

George. Fmhfi & San, C^


most arduous on account of the wounded having to be
carried by relays of U.M.R., the Reserves, and Sibindi's
levy. After the column had gone three or four miles, gun
fire could be heard, and shells were seen bursting on
Hlazakazi Mountain, about eight or nine miles to the
north in a direct Hne.^

A halt was called at the Buffalo at 3 p.m., after which
the column moved on to the Copper Syndicate Works on
Umsinga Mountain, where Steele was buried.

In consequence of having stabbed and killed a number
of the enemy, Sibindi's men, on the march back, carried
their assegais, as customary on such occasions, with the
blades upwards. On getting to the Buffalo, they bound
certain green rushes round their heads, and otherwise
doctored and cleansed themselves.

The column moved further up the same mountain and,
at 7 p.m., bivouacked for the night at the kraal of Sikota,
one of Sibindi's indunas.^

At 11 a.m. on the same day, Leuchars sent a message
to Lieut. M. W. Bennett, N.F.A., who was in charge of
the camp at Ngubevu, directing him to send bread for
the troops, also medical comforts and stretchers for the

1 Mackay camped at Isandlilwana on the night of the 27th. He
operated at Malakata on the morning of the 28th, and at Hlazakazi at
1.30 p.m. on the same day.

2 On Sibindi's levy getting within about three miles of the kraal of
Nyoniyezwe, the minor for whom Sibindi was acting, they started to
sing their ancient, tribal war-song. Up to that moment, the women had
been in hiding in various places, owing to uncertainty as to whether
the impi they had, two or three hours before, seen descending to the
Buffalo from the direction of Mpukunyoni, was the enemy, or men of
their own tribe. The sun had, in the meantime, set, and it had begun
to get dark. On recognizing the old familiar song, and realizing that
their men were returning triumphant, they forthwith emerged from
their respective hiding-places and kraals, and, one and all, wherever,
on the bush-covered mountain, they happened to be, accorded their
heroes so weird and fantastic a greeting as will not quickly be forgotten
by the European troops who had the privilege of hearing and witnessing
it. At least sixty to seventy wonien, faces smeared with light-coloured
clay, and carrying little hand-brooms, with leaves bound round their
ankles, approached the advancing column, shrieking at the top of their
voices as they ran about : " Ki, ki, ki, ki, ki, ki, ki, ki, — Kuhle kwetu ! "
(Oh ! joy in our homes !) The oft-repeated crieg were heard in all
directions. Not only did this serve as a welcome to the warriors, but
as an alarm to all of the tribe who were too far off to hear the famous


wounded. These reached the column about 3 a.m. on
the 29th.

The march was resumed at 7 a.m. on the following
morning, the camp at Ngubevu being reached at 1 p.m.

The Krantzkop Reserves were now sent back to Krantz-
kop, with orders for the Second and Third Krantzkop
Reserves to demobilize.

At the moment Leuchars was dealing the enemy a
heavy blow at Mpukunyoni (28th), Mackay was operating
in difficult country about Malakata and Hlazakazi
mountains, some fifteen and eleven miles respectively
from Mpukunyoni in a direct line.

Lieut. -Col. J. Weighton, N.C., on Mackay' s departure,
was sent to take command at Helpmakaar. He directed
Mackay to return ; the order was, however, counter-
manded by Leuchars, who, as has already been observed,
was put in command of all the forces in Natal. Mackay
was thereupon instructed to continue to operate in Nqutu
and western portions of Nkandhla divisions as an inde-
pendent column.

Between the 28th May and 10th June, Mackay operated
between Isandhlwana and Madhlozi mountain. On the
28th, a reconnaissance was made in the direction of a
well- watered valley of vast extent known as Mangeni,
in which some 2,000 head of cattle and many goats were
discovered, evidently placed there by Natives for safety.
Mehlokazulu and two or three followers were observed
on the east side of the valley hurriedly escaping towards
Qudeni. It being too late to seize the stock, steps were
taken early the following morning to collect and bring
it to camp. On other days, special pains were taken in
the wards ot Makafula, Faku and other Chiefs to ascertain
promptly the kraals of rebels, especially such as had joined
the force that attacked Leuchars at Mpukunyoni. The
stock belonging to them was thereupon seized and, after
returning what was proved to belong to loyalists — done
on the advice of a specially-appointed Board — the balance
was sent forward to Dundee to be sold by public auction.


Whilst Mackay was encamped at Mangeni, information
was received to the effect that Mehlokazulu, Mtele and
other rebel leaders, had, two weeks prior to attacking
Leuchars, assembled their men at a kraal overlooking
Mangeni and there had them formally doctored for war.
As, however, the kraal in question was within view of
Helpmakaar, although hardly less than twenty-five miles
away, it was deemed unsafe for the ceremonies to take
place in its immediate vicinity, for fear lest the European
troops stationed there, then 800 strong, should, by means
of field-glasses and what not, see what was being done !
A spot close by, but well out of sight, was accordingly
chosen, and there the ceremonies were performed on
orthodox fines, two head of cattle being killed for the impi.
There were two doctors. The principal one was Magadise,
afterwards, as has been seen, one of the snipers at Mpukun-
yoni. It was here, too, that Mehlokazulu declared his
policy to be to wait and see what the white people intended
doing. He would not, he said, go forward and assume
the offensive, but wait to be attacked, when a stubborn
resistance would be offered. After being doctored, the
bulk of the forces were accordingly told to return to their
kraals and await further orders. This advice was publicly
approved by Babazeleni, the man of Faku's tribe who
commanded and was killed at Mpukunyoni. It was about
this time, too, that the small store, a mile from the kraal
where the doctoring took place, was burnt to the ground.

Among the Chiefs who attended the above gathering
was Makafula. He went because his ward had been
chosen by Mehlokazulu as a convenient rallying-point
for the insurgents in that part of the country. He was
much afraid of the notorious Chief, who might have
caused him to be attacked and exterminated forthwith
had he held back. Mackay, it will be remembered, did
not leave Empandhleni for Helpmakaar, via Nondweni,
till the 11th May, which was just about the day that the
above doctoring took place. It is, therefore, reasonable
to suppose that Makafula temporarily identified himself
with the rebels solely because of there being no European


troops in the vicinity to which he could have gone for
protection. His act would, nevertheless, have been
regarded as treasonable had not the Chief immediately
dispatched a messenger to the local magistrate, Mr.
Hignett, to report exactly what he had done, and by what
reasons he had been actuated in so doing. " Acting on
my advice," says the Magistrate (who had presided over
the district for over six years), " though desirous of
retiring from his ward, he (Makafula) remained at his post
at great personal risk, and, under the pretence of interest-
ing himself in the rebel designs, acted as an informant."
Predicaments of this kind frequently occurred in various
parts of the Colony, and, too impatient to personally
inquire into the circumstances, commanding officers
sometimes concluded that sedition had been committed,
when the act had sprung from motives entirely dissociated
from a spirit of disloyalty. When rebellion breaks out
it is, of course, difficult to weigh and consider evidence
that is at all involved, the impulse being to assume from
even the most trivial indications that the worst has
happened, and, therefore, that the most severe punishment
must be meted out at once to fit the supposed crime.

Among the Chiefs who afforded Mackay assistance
in the way of scouts was the Basuto Mayime. His people
had been settled in the country ever since the Zulu War,
having been granted land in consideration of notable
services rendered by them during that campaign.

Mackay's operations at this time were confined to those
parts of Nqutu district that abutted on the Buffalo river.
He operated in, and thoroughly patrolled, such parts
as Isandhlwana, Malakata, Hlazakazi and Mangeni.
Steps were taken to ascertain all kraals from which Natives
had deserted to join the rebels, whereupon their stock was
seized and confiscated. Owing to these measures, which
included the destruction of Mehlokazulu's most important
kraal, Mackay assisted materially in causing the situation
at Nkandhla to mature, besides restraining many from
rebelhng through fear of their stock being looted by the
enemy. But for such activity, Mehlokazulu, for instance,


would not have amalgamated his forces with those of
Bambata as soon as he did. Mackay, in fact, compelled
the foregoing, Mtele, Nondubela and other leaders, with
their followers, to act with greater precipitation than it
was in their interest to do. Had more time been allowed,
it is more than likely that a far greater impi would have
been raised in Nqutu district than the one that actually
went forward to Nkandhla. If, again, Mehlokazulu had
been afforded the opportmiity, it is not improbable he
would have resorted to tactics similar to those adopted
by Bambata and Sigananda towards seemingly neutral
or half-hearted tribes, i.e. dragooned them, by seizure
of stock, etc., into taking up arms against the Government.

The Reserves attached to Mackay's column were
ordered, on the 5th June, to demobilize at Helpmakaar.
The excellent services rendered by the men whilst in the
field were suitably acknowledged by the Commanding

When McKenzie was appointed to take supreme com-
mand in Natal and Zululand (30th May), Leuchars was
instructed to continue to command all troops in Natal
as well as those in Nqutu district, though in future
under McKenzie.

After placing Newmarch in temporary command of
the U.F.F., with Capt. W. N. Angus as staff officer,
Leuchars proceeded with Carter via Greytown to Help-
makaar to direct operations from that point.



Hitherto McKenzie's efforts to come into conflict with
the enemy had met with comparatively Httle success, and
this in spite of the fact that the Zululand Field Force had
been over three weeks on the spot. Ever since the force
arrived, the men had, indeed, been kept particularly busy.
Reconnaissances had been carried out time after time in
Insuze valley and at Nkandhla by McKenzie, and in the
neighbourhood of Macala and Qudeni by Barker, four
columns had made a converging movement on Cetshwayo's
grave (the enemy's headquarters), then had come Siga-
nanda's negotiations for surrender, the reconnaissance to
Macala, followed by further activity in the directions of
Tate, Mome and Komo. In the course of the operations,
many rebels had been come across, but as they were
nearly always in small parties, it was impossible for those
unacquainted with the peculiar conditions to repress feel-
ings of disappointment with the results that had been
achieved by the end of May, especially as intelligence went
to show that Bambata and Company were at the head of
at least 1,000 men, and that these numbers were constantly
increasing. Where was this ever- vanishing impi ? What
was the best way of making it fight ? That was the
problem McKenzie was called on to solve. He had not
merely to be ready to fight when it suited him to do so,
but to hunt for the rebels and make them fight, however
much in favour of the latter locality and time might


happen to be. His difficulties were, therefore, primarily
and, indeed, almost entirely of a strategical character. He,
of course, knew of the rebels' perpetually shifting from one
place to another on purpose to avoid a conflict, and, at
the same time, of always being on the alert to take advan-
tage of detached sections of the troops. That such were
their methods had of itself required time to ascertain.
The methods were novel. There was nothing of that kind
during the Zulu War.^ Sometimes the enemy would be at
Nkandhla, at others at Macala. At each of these places
there were dense forests and rocky hiding-places. The
intervening country, moreover, was exceedingly rough, but
so well known to the rebels that they could travel over it
by night with the greatest ease. In these circumstances,
in addition to robbing them of all food supphes to be
found about Nkandhla, the O.C. came to the conclusion
that the only pohcy was to drive the forests in as thorough
and systematic a manner as possible. But to carry this
out effectively with the men at his disposal was out of
the question. That, at any rate, was the view of General
Stephenson and other competent authorities. Hence he
was compelled to adopt procedure which he felt might
easily fail in actually cornering the enemy. However, in
order that the best might be done, he decided to undertake
and persevere with the drives. These it was necessary to
carry out section by section, as it was quite impracticable,
owing to their magnitude and interconnection, to attempt
the whole of the forests in one day. If the enemy's
strategy was to keep shifting about, the troops could at
least help him to shift about a little more, and perhaps
rather more than he had intended to do.

Whilst the troops, after operating at Tate gorge, were
taking a much-needed rest on the 31st May, Mansel and
Barker were summoned to Nomangci. Colonel McKenzie
then proceeded with these and other officers to the heights

1 Small parties of troops were, of course, sometimes swooped down on
suddenly in 1879 and overwhelmed, e.g. the Prince Imperial's party and
the Intombi disaster. Such tactics, however, were merely incidental or
subsidiary to those generally practised.


above Mome valley, where the proposed drives were to
begin, and explained the plans he had in mind for the
following day.

On the 1st June, all the troops moved out at an early
hour. When daylight appeared. Gun Hill had already been
occupied by two 15-pounders, N.F.A., and two pompoms.
The valley was heavily shelled and searched in every
direction from above, as well as by Mansel from below,
but without much result. The men then proceeded on foot
with the Native levies to drive both sides and bottom
of the valley in the following order : McKenzie's worked
down the western slopes, whilst Hansel's ascended the ridge
on the east as far as Esipongweni peak, near Sigananda's
kraal, Enhlweni, and then down towards the river bed.

McKenzie's men, consisting of 400 R.H., 150 Z.M.R.,
140 D.L.I., 100 N.P., and 100 Nongqai, or about 900 in
all,i with about the same number of Native levies, moved
in single file down an open ridge along the north edge of
Esigqumeni forest and in the direction of the waterfall.
On entering the forest, the Nongqai and levies were dis-
tributed along the Hne of troops. When the head of the
column had got within a few yards of the Mome stream,
" files right " was given, which brought the troops into
line formation facing down the stream and towards the
stronghold. The shelHng from Gun Hill began when the
head of the column was about half-way down, and con-
tinued until it had reached the Mome. Mansel's guns
sheUed the same forests from the mouth of the valley.

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 25 of 52)