James Stuart.

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

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Many of the shells burst over the troops, whilst others
did so at the proper place. The column halted whilst
Eziwojeni forest was being shelled. During the shelhng,
which lasted nearly an hour, one of R.H. was grazed
across the forehead by one of the bullets of a shrapnel
shell, whilst one of the levies was struck by a shell on the
leg and seriously wounded. The troops remained in line
formation until the right flank was in position.

Whilst waiting for the order to advance, one of General
Stephenson's staff officers (who was with one or two

1 N.C. remained with the O.C. troops at Gun Hill during the drive.


others), when in the act of taking a photograph, was fired
at by a rebel at a distance of about twenty yards. The
charge, evidently one of slugs, luckily struck no one. One
of the officers immediately fired three times with his
revolver in the direction the shot had come from. This
caused a little confusion, as some of the men, believing
the enemy to be near, also began firing ahead. Just
before resuming the advance, three volleys were fired in
the direction to be traversed in order to clear the way.
The left flank kept as close to the Mome as possible. Pro-
gress was slow on account of the abnormally steep and
difficult nature of the ground.

Just above the thick forest at the bottom of the water-
fall, orders were given to the troops in the higher portions
of the forest to wheel gradually to the left and in the
direction of the forest below, it being at the time thought
that a number of rebels had gathered there to make a
stand. In consequence of this, a section on the extreme
left flank lost touch, but continued to move downwards.
A number of other men in different parts of the line also
temporarily lost touch.

In the meantime, on the opposite or eastern side of
the valley, the T.M.R. had gradually worked their way
up and co-operated generally in accordance with the plan.
" A troop (T.M.R. ), in the advance, occupied a kopje
and sent ten of the men up the ridge to round up cattle,
which they succeeded in doing. In retiring, a sniper on
their left flank, concealed in the bush, shot Tpr. Steyn,
who some days afterwards died from the effects of the
wound. Three of his comrades immediately went to
his assistance and carried him along, whilst two men went
in advance and the remaining four protected the rear.
The retirement was conducted with coolness and precision,
and both General Stephenson and Colonel McKenzie, who
witnessed the movement from Gun Hill, openly expressed
their approval of the men's conduct." ^ After the forests
in the immediate vicinity of the waterfall had been driven,
the troops withdrew.

1 W. Bosman, Th& Natal Rebellion of 1906, p. 66.


As a result of the operations, a considerable number
of women and children emerged from the forest. They
carried white flags. They were directed to a place of
safety during the operations and subsequently returned
to the bush. Much pains was taken, without success,
to discover Sigananda's whereabouts. Only three rebels
were killed ; twenty-four surrendered to the troops.
Traces of recent extensive occupation were, however,
found. Information received at the time went to show
that the enemy had vacated the gorge on the preceding
day. About 300 cattle and many goats were captured.
Sigananda's Enhlweni kraal was destroyed. Two men
(including Steyn) of the T.M.R. were wounded by snipers.

Mpikwa, one of Sigananda's principal indunas, sur-
rendered at the magistracy during the day with seventy-
six men of the same tribe. Among these was a brother
of Sigananda. All declared they were opposed to their
Chief's conduct and, had, therefore, refrained from
participating in the Rebellion.

On the 2nd June, McKenzie moved his camp to the east
and further up the Mome stream, with the object of
making an extensive drive to the east through the heart
of the Nkandhla forests (Dukuza), as well as over Bomvana
ridge where large numbers of cattle had been repeatedly
seen and in which direction Sigananda's impi was then
said to be. The Z.M.R. and N.C. were left to occupy
the camp until dark when, with their fires alight, they
were to withdraw, so as to lead the enemy to suppose the
locality was still being occupied. A 15-pounder and a
pompom, moreover, supported by the Z.M.R. , continued
to shell the upper portions of Mome gorge until dusk, with
the view of keeping the enemy from entering the bush
that had been driven that day.

Since McKenzie's departure from Insuze valley on the
23rd May, Mansel's column, when not actually engaged
in a combined movement with that of McKenzie, had
operated within a radius of five or six miles of the grave
and succeeded in capturing considerable quantities of
cattle, goats, etc., besides doing other useful work.


Colonel Woolls-Sampson at this stage received orders
to proceed to Pietermaritzburg to confer with the Acting
Commandant (Major-General Sir John Dartnell, K.C.B.) ^
and the Government. Major C. N. H. Rodwell, N.C.,
now assumed the duties of Chief Staff Officer, with the
local rank of Lieut. -Colonel.

McKenzie left with his forces at 7 a.m. on the 3rd June,
with the object of making an extensive drive in an easterly
direction. Mansel, with N.P. and T.M.R., proceeded
from his camp to the vicinity of Komo Hill. The guns
and pompoms took up positions covering the general
advance of the former column. Colonel McKenzie,
accompanied by General Stephenson and his bodyguard
of N.C., moved round open ground on the north to a
position some three miles in a direct line from Bomvana
ridge. The Z.M.R. occupied a kopje about one mile west
of where it was proposed the drive should cease. Here
they were subsequently joined by the O.C. Troops and
General Stephenson, N.C. being strengthened by a troop
temporarily detached from the Z.M.R.

R.H., D.L.L, and N.D.M.R., together with the Native
levies, after crossing the head of the Mome valley, lined
up along the edge of the bush, where instructions were
given to the officers to drive the bush in line, with one
European to every three levies, thus 1***1***1***1^
The objective pointed out was a knoll, which could be
seen over the bush and beside the Nkandhla-Eshowe road.
The N.D.M.R. took the left, D.L.I, the centre, and R.H.
the right. As regards R.H., A and D squadrons were on
the left, C in the centre, E and B on the right. Royston
himself was on the right.

The idea was that, on the march through the bush, R.H.
were to join forces with Mansel's men, who would move
on the right from Cetshwayo's grave, whilst the left of
the line was protected by McKenzie and the men posted
near him on the open tops of the overlooking ridges.

^ This appointment had become necessary early in June, owing to
Colonel Bru-de-Wold being obliged, through illness, to temporarily
relinquish the duties of his office.


After proceeding through the forest for about two miles
over extremely broken country, the centre of the R.H.
section of the Hne found that the spruit Royston had
directed the right of the hne to rest on was joined by
another flowing down from the left front.

On C squadron, in command of Capt. E. G. Clerk,
reaching the spruit referred to, a number of tracks of
Natives were observed, so fresh as to appear to have been
caused but a few minutes before. Following these, the
men, still in fair hne, came in contact with a party of
thirty to forty rebels. A number of these were killed as
they endeavoured to escape. Shortly after, it was
discovered that touch had been completely lost with the
two squadrons on the left, and that Royston with B and
E had swung away more to the right and were at that time
on the far side of a very high and narrow kopje. Four
rebels were chased by men of C up this hill and would have
escaped altogether had not the attention of men on the
hill been attracted. The latter moved along the crest and
shot the fugitives. Corporal Alexander, C squadron,
killed later in the day, did some very accurate shooting
at some Natives who were, as they thought, securely
hidden on their side of the same kopje, sniping at members
of C squadron in the valley below. These were shot by
him at a range of about 500 yards.

After what remained of C had moved on, six amadhlan-
gala (war-huts) beside the spruit were destroyed. Here
a quantity of goods looted from Davis's waggon on the
29th May was found. About a mile and a half further
on, the men emerged, about 1.30 p.m., on to an open
ridge, where some forty-five men of the squadrons on C's
right, together with some Native levies, were come upon.
Here Clerk found instructions had just come from Colonel
McKenzie through Colonel W. S. Shepstone to move on,
as Royston, with the remainder of the right wing, was said
to be in advance on the right. There was, however,
ground for doubting the intelligence, as firing could be
faintly heard away on the right and shghtly to the rear.
At this time, it was not known to C where the R.H.


squadrons on the left, much less the D.L.I, and the
N.D.M.R., had got to. After a few minutes' halt, Clerk
gave the word to move forward. London, supported
by Lieuts. Fryer and Midgley and others of R.H. were
put on the right, with the main body of levies, whilst
Clerk, supported by Lieut. Stewart and Sergt, -Major
Webber, took the extreme left. Lieut. Shepstone, who
was with a portion of the levies and some of R.H. on the
left, soon completely detached himself. Many Native
footprints were seen ; indeed, there was every sign of
a large body of the enemy being close in advance. Six
cattle that were come upon was a further indication. " I
passed the word down the line," says Clerk,^ " to keep
a sharp look-out, explaining that I knew we were close
on the enemy. At this time, a number of the levies had
moved from their proper position and were bunched up
near me, close on my right. The nearest European was
Corpl. Alexander, about ten yards off on my right. Haw-
kins was next to him, then Holmes, Flynn, Corpl. Wool-
nough (A squad), Act.-Sergt. Fraser, Harding, Wilkinson,
Bouck, Nesbit and others. After passing the word of
warning, we moved about 200 yards and had just crossed
a smaU donga, when I thought I noticed something move
on my left. On searching the bush, we failed to find
anybody, though we noticed that the Natives' tracks
were very numerous and fresh. We moved forward till
the left was about twenty yards across the donga, the right
not having yet crossed it, when a Native stepped out of a
thick bush, between forty to fifty paces away on our left
front. He was armed with, I think, a breech-loader. He
fired the charge, striking close to the third man's feet
(Hawkins). This appeared to be the signal, as immedi-
ately on the report, the forest on our left and left front
seemed to be ahve with the enemy. It looked like an
overturned hive more than anything else. They must
have been lying down till the shot was fired. They yeUed
' Usutu ! ' and something like ' Zuzu ! ' and charged
at us, one horn swinging round on our left and the other

^ The following account is now published for the first time.


towards our right and breaking. I turned to call to the
men, only to find that the Native levies were running
for their lives, not directly back the way we had come, but
down the line, straight down to our right. This served
to break our line a lot and create a gap between the 7th
and 8th men. Seeing that there was no chance of making
a stand where we were, I shouted to the men to move
back and rally in the donga lower down. Knowing that
unless the centre were checked in some way, the enemy
would cut us up before we could get back to the donga,
I emptied my carbine (magazine) into the main lot at
about twenty yards distance and about seventy from
where I was afterwards Ijdng. This served to check
them for a minute or two and I took advantage of it to
run after the men. While doing so, I sHpped another
cartridge into the breech of my carbine and had just
succeeded in doing so, when I ran into another lot of the
enemy who had charged between the donga and myself
(i.e. between where I first fired on the enemy and the
position at which we ralHed), as if to partly surround the
party in the donga. I thereupon fired five shots at them
with my revolver as I ran towards my men. The enemy
broke, and left, as I thought, a clear line to the donga,
where I could hear Eraser's voice calHng out, ' Here we
are, Sir ! ' Just then a Native rose from the low bush in
front of me, i.e. between me and where I heard Eraser's
voice. He had a stabbing-assegai and some sort of
weapon — it seemed like an old muzzle-loading gun. He
raised the assegai, but as he did so, I snapped at him the
last shot in my revolver and he fell. As he fell, another
Native appeared suddenly on my left — I think he had
been behind a small tree. He was within stabbing dis-
tance before I noticed him, my attention having been
engaged with the other man. I had no time to aim my
carbine, merely being able to swing it up and parry his
thrust. I narrowly escaped being wounded, for the
assegai just grazed the right eyeHd (I thought my eye was
out, as the blood flowed over my cheek and almost blinded
me). Catching my foot in something I fell, but the slope


of the ground being very steep, I succeeded in throwing
myself right over. I turned over purposely and, in so
doing, again faced my adversary. Swinging my carbine
forward, I pulled the trigger, not, however, with the
ordinary finger, for which there was no time, but with my
little finger which happened to be in position at that
instant. The shot struck the man in the chest and he
fell forward past me on my left about seven yards from
the east edge of the donga. I remarked that this man
had bound round his forehead a broad band of Turkey-
red, as well as a stiff peak of red over the centre of the
forehead.^ The first of the other two had a narrow strip
of red cloth round his forehead. I also noticed that a
great number of the remainder of the enemy had Turkey-
red round their heads. Recovering my footing, I ran
down and leaped into the donga, where I found Fraser,
Woolnough, Alexander, Holmes, Flynn and Hawkins.
The rebels seemed to surround us immediately and I had
succeeded in firing only about two shots when Alexander
staggered forward crying out, ' Oh, my God, pull this
out, pull this out ! ' referring to an assegai which had
been driven into the middle of his back. Someone pulled
the assegai out and he sank down and died immediately.
This assegai had been thrown from a distance of about ten
yards up the donga by one of the enemy who was there.
Almost immediately afterwards, Hawkins staggered for-
ward and sank against the east bank just on my right,
with two assegais in his back. He remained in a crouching
position and, from the peculiar sound, I knew his lung had
been injured. Once he cried to someone to shoot him and
put him out of his misery. Just as he fell, I felt a shock
through my left upper arm, which caused my hand to lose
its power ; owing to this, I dropped my carbine. Stooping
quickly to pick it up, I found that my left hand was useless
and that I could not grasp anything. The Httle finger only
retained its normal power. I seated myself on a root

1 This cloth (Turkey-red) had been issued to members of levies as a
badge to indicate that they were loyalists. It was worn either round
the left arm or round the head (above the forehead).



which was jutting slightly out of the bank and, raising the
carbine with my right hand, succeeded in loading it by
gripping it between my knees. I then fired it by Hfting
it with the right hand and pulling the trigger with the
Httle finger of my left. I continued doing this until loss
of blood compelled me to abandon the carbine in favour
of my revolver, which I had to load in the same way, i.e.
between my knees.

" Shortly after I was wounded, I heard Holmes say,
*Ah ! I've got it ! ' ; he went on to explain that a bullet
had gone through his thigh. He, however, continued
firing, merely refieving himself by leaning against a tree
which grew from the bank of the donga. Woolnough had
already been wounded in the ankle, and was lying close
by the bank on the eastern side of the donga. Flynn had
blood streaming from wounds on the face, but Eraser,
though in a very exposed position (with a white shirt on),
suffered no injury whatever. All this time we were crying :
' Rally here, Royston's,' thinking it possible that the men
further down the donga might succeed in forcing their way
to us, or that Colonel Royston might be within hearing and
come to our assistance. I also shouted out, ' Give it to
them, boys ! ' intending that the enemy should hear, as I
supposed a few of them might know EngHsh. I knew that
the men lower down were busily engaged from the firing
I could hear, and occasionally I could hear Sergt. -Major
Webber's voice encouraging our men.

' ' The Natives had made two charges when, as I was
aiming at one up the donga, about twenty yards off, a
thrown assegai penetrated my right forearm.

" We were by this time getting very weak from loss of
blood, and, as our fighting strength was four only, viz.
Eraser, Holmes, Elynn and myself, things were looking
very serious. I personally felt very weak but, after drink-
ing some water from Elynn's water-bottle, I revived in
time to assist in repelHng the third charge. We succeeded
in driving them back again, but I knew that unless help
arrived soon, we would be overcome and, speaking to
Eraser and Elynn, said if they succeeded in getting out to


tell the Colonel that we had left our mark on the enemy.
A minute or so later, Holmes said, ' Look out, they're pre-
paring to rush again.' I, at that moment, was loading my
revolver with the last six cartridges I had. I succeeded
in getting ^ve in, but dropped the sixth. I fired two shots
at some Natives in the donga, twenty to thirty yards up.
Holmes fired at them at the same time. They both
dropped, I am certain Holmes killed one, but am not sure
of the other. At this moment, shouting and shooting
attracted our attention, and to our rehef we saw other
members of the regiment coming to our assistance,
amongst the first being Lieuts. Male, Jones, and Oswald,
then Colonel Royston a second or two later, he having
stopped to bandage levy-leader W. H. E. Hopkins, who
had been shot on the side of the head when running by the
side of Colonel Royston in advance of the relieving

The foregoing account is necessarily confined to what
took place in Clerk's immediate vicinity. The following
particulars, taken from others who were engaged, are
intended to supplement Clerk's graphic narrative.

The action occurred at the bottom of a large valley,
which Hes wholly within Dukuza forest, and through which
flows the Manzipambana stream. There are remarkably
few stones about, except in the donga or water-course,
which runs almost due north and south. The gully in
question is but 130 yards long ; it slopes steeply on the
east, and is 12 to 14 ft. wide and about 6 ft. deep where
Clerk lay. The forest is not very dense at this particular
spot, one being able to see fifty yards all round. The
enemy, about 300 strong — all exceptionally well-built men
— was congregated in one spot. Although he must have
been within twenty yards, the late Alexander, when sent
forward to the left by Clerk to reconnoitre, did not see the
impi, no doubt because lying flat on the ground in accord-
ance with custom, and behind trees and other cover.
Although frequent efforts were made by the rebels to
charge one or other of the three groups of R. H. in that
vicinity, not one was pressed home, due no doubt to the


accuracy of the shooting, and to the fact that the * horns '
failed to get round at the lower end owing to the length
of the line. Each of these groups was engaged, though at
longer ranges than Clerk's group had to fire at. More
than once the highest and the lowest groups fired at one
another when masked by the rebels. Where Clerk was, the
fighting was almost hand to hand. Many assegais were
thrown and shots fired by the rebels. The engagement did
not last more than fifteen to eighteen minutes.

It is difficult to determine how many of the enemy
were kiUed ; the number was at first given as fifty-three,
but probably some of these were merely wounded and got
away. In view of the duration of the action, and of its
having taken place at short range, with at least twenty-four
rifles, the killed were probably not less than thirty-five.
The having of about nine head of cattle with them is
noteworthy as evidence of an intention on the part of the
rebels to decoy by offering a bait. As soon as the action
commenced, the cattle were driven ahead, as if to confuse
or afford cover. A device of this sort, it will be remem-
bered, was adopted when the rebels made their first charge
at Mpukunyoni. The enemy was in possession of anything
from a dozen to three dozen guns of different kinds, but
his shooting was distinctly poor ; more casualties, how-
ever, were attributable to gun-fire, such as it was, in this
action than in any other of the campaign.

The conduct of the levies in deserting en bloc at so critical
a moment is a lesson to be carefully borne in mind in the
future. At the same time, it is fair to point out that they
were not being led by anyone well-known to them, or
f amihar with their language ; there were not more than
fifty, and these were separated from the rest of their party.
In this connection, it was unfortunate that the levy -leader
attached to that part of the fine was not at hand to give
such moral support as he could. The fact that one or
more of the enemy wore Turkey-red, thereby becoming
undistinguishable from the levies, may be due to such or
similar material having been among the goods in the
waggon looted by the rebels a few days before.


It was most providential that Royston was within
reach. Had he not come when he did, the party must have
been annihilated. When the reheving party heard their
comrades' shouts, they set out as fast as they could down
a steep inch'ne nearly a mile away from the scene of the
action. Royston was accompanied by Hopkins, Oswald,
Male and others. Hopkins, struck by a bullet on the side
of the head, fell, rose, plunged forward again down the
hill, only to fall again, when he was assisted by Royston.
The enemy was found on all sides, especially east of the
donga, but, on seeing reinforcements arrive, showed no
disposition to fight, especially after Major A. W. Eraser,
with his officers, n.c.o.'s and men had deployed on the
east. The wounded were attended on the spot by the
rescuers and, a few minutes later, by Capt. Austin Robin-
son, N.M.C, who was most assiduous in the discharge of
his duties under difficult conditions.

There were four killed, viz. Corpl. E. Alexander and
Tprs. J. L. Bouck, Harding and S. J. Robertson ; eleven
were wounded : Capt. E. G. Clerk, Lieuts. P. Male and
Oswald, Corpl. Woolnough, and Tprs. J. Hawkins, F.
Flynn, W. C. Holmes, W. H. E. Hopkins, D. C. Swart,
J. Mann and H. D. M. Barnett. Of the latter, Clerk,
Hawkins, Holmes, Hopkins and Swart were wounded
severely. Hawldns succumbed to his injuries the same

"All the units engaged inflicted severe losses on the
enemy during the day's operations, and over 150 were
killed, ten of them by Colonel Mansel's force. Over two
hundred head of cattle were captured. It was again a
very hard day for the troops, who had to work dismounted
over exceedingly difficult country." ^

Colonel McKenzie moved his column through the forest
on the following day (4th June) along the road (Nkandhla
to Eshowe), to join Mansel's force near Bobe ridge. The
combined force thereupon drove through the forest on
the eastern side of the road, making towards Sibuda peak.
N.N.C., T.M.R. and Natives were on the left of the line ;

1 Report, Col. D. McKenzie, September, 1906.


D.L.I. and Nongqai in the centre ; and N.C., Z.M.R. and
R.H. on the right. The N.D.M.R. occupied high ground
near the objective towards which the troops were work-
ing. Owing to no rebels being found in the vast area
traversed, it seemed that the enemy had moved back
to the western or Mome side of the forests. With the

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 26 of 52)