James Stuart.

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

. (page 27 of 52)
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forces at his disposal, it was quite impossible for
McKenzie to prevent such breaking back. His idea,
under the circumstances, was to harass the enemy as much
as possible, by constantly driving him from one position
to another.

It was on this day that the Natal Rangers (seven com-
panies, with Maxims and signallers), under Lieut. -Col.
J. Dick, D.L.I., arrived at Nomangci camp. Their arrival
was most opportune. They soon proved to be a valuable
addition to the forces.

A detachment of 85 N.N.H. (under Major G. Moe,
U.M.R.), also came in on the 4th, with a number of
remounts. Many of the corps had seen service during
the Zulu War and on other occasions. Their enrolment
was, therefore, wise, not only from a pohtical, but also
from a miUtary point of view.^

On the 5th, the men, including those of Mansel's
column, thoroughly exhausted by the heavy cUmbing and
driving, were given a complete rest.

Leaving sufficient troops to take charge of the camp,
McKenzie proceeded, on the following day, to drive that
portion of the forests which slopes away downwards from
the waggon road in the direction of Insuze and Manzipam-
bana rivers. The Hne of drivers, which included N.R.
and N.N.H., swept along both sides of the Manzipambana,
and through what is acknowledged by Native residents to
be the densest and least frequented portion of the forest.
The N.N.C., T.M.R., N.P. and Nongqai, under Barker,
co-operated effectively on the south. Only ten rebels were
shot, as but few of the enemy were come upon during the
operations. These again covered an enormous and par-

1 Some account of the excellent services performed by N.N.H. will
be found in Appendix XI.



OPERATIONS, ZULULAND FIELD FORCE 295

ticularly rugged area.^ Intelligence at this time went to
show that the enemy was gradually quitting Nkandhla for
Macala and the Qudeni forests, as a result of the frequent
and thorough-going driving being done by the troops.

" The force bivouacked for the night at the Nkunzana
stream," says McKenzie. " The next morning (7th June),
I moved up the Bobe ridge, and having received informa-
tion that Sigananda was in the bush facing the south of
the road from Bobe ridge to the Isibuda (Esibudeni) hill,
I made a drive through that section of the forest and also
shelled the bush, the guns having come out of camp to
join me. Unfortunately some pompom shells struck very
close to the squadron of the Natal Carbineers, but, for-
tunately, no one was hit. No trace of Sigananda could
be found. Twenty rebels were killed. A large number of
cattle were taken and stores of grain destroyed."

After an exceedingly trying day, McKenzie withdrew
for the night to Nomangci (the infantry being assisted by
ox- waggons sent from camp to meet them), whilst Barker
returned to his camp near the grave.

It became necessary to give the troops another rest on
the 8th. Many of the men had, by this time, completely
worn out their boots and clothing, in consequence of the
rough work in the forests.

As the forests now appeared to be clear of rebels, in so
far, at any rate, as large parties of them were concerned,
McKenzie began to work out plans for a combined move of
all the columns, including those of Leuchars and Mackay,
to Qudeni, where the enemy was reported to have mustered
in considerable strength.

Heliographic communication was established with
Mackay at Madhlozi mountain. During the day (9th),
small drives of bushes took place in the neighbourhood of
the camp, unattended, however, with any success.

At night, however, intelHgence of such vital importance

1 During this drive, a few N.N.H. were directed to look after the
horses. One of the men, Hendrick Mkabela, seeing a party of rebels,
with twenty-one head of cattle, attacked them and, though single-
handed, succeeded in capturing the stock, and subsequently handing it
over to the Provost-Marshal.



296 THE ZULU REBELLION

was received as to enable McKenzie, not only to come face
to face with his long-sought-for enemy, but, by taking
advantage of the opportunity to the maximum, to deal
him a crushing blow, so decisive, indeed, as to bring the
RebelHon in Zululand to an abrupt end, much to the
reUef of the Colony and not least of the troops themselves.

Reference has already been made to the local intelh-
gence staff, Lieut. Hedges and Sergts. Calverley and
Titlestad. These officers, all of the Z.M.R., and inti-
mately acquainted with Zululand, had, for some days
past, been endeavouring to locate Sigananda. This was
done with the assistance of Mandisindaba, a man who had
for long been known to Calverley. He had been induced
by the latter to surrender with his family a few days
previously. This was allowed by McKenzie to take place
on condition that he went to the Mome and ascertained
Sigananda's whereabouts as precisely as possible. Accom-
panied by two or three Native scouts and two rebel spies
— the latter disguised as messengers from Dinuzulu —
Mandisindaba proceeded to the gorge. Whilst walking
through a forest, the party accidentally met a member of
Sigananda's tribe who, it so happened, was also in search
of Sigananda. On being informed that two of the party
were messengers from " the Prince " and were carrying a
message which they had been directed to dehver to the
Chief, the man referred to announced that he had been
sent by Bambata and Mehlokazulu, then bivouacked at
Kombe forest (fifteen miles west of Mome), to inform
Sigananda that they would leave there with the whole of
their forces (including many of Sigananda's tribe) — some
twenty-three companies in all — that very evening, and,
travelling via Macala, camp near the junction of the Mome
and Insuze, with the object of entering the Nkandhla
forests.

Whilst endeavouring to locate the Chief, the party
separated themselves from Bambata's messenger. The
former presently succeeded in obtaining information as to
Sigananda's approximate whereabouts, when they im-
mediately withdrew to carry back their extremely impor-



OPERATIONS, ZULULAND FIELD FORCE 297

tant intelligence. This was received at an appointed
rendezvous, and at once, i.e. at 9.30 p.m., conveyed to
Colonel McKenzie.

After considering the matter, McKenzie concluded that,
although the rebels might reach Mome during the night,
they would probably not enter the forests until daylight.
He accordingly decided to try and prevent their entry,
a decision which, having regard to the lateness of the hour
and the great difficulties to be overcome, called for that
swiftness and directness of action which are so charac-
teristic of the man.

Whilst plans and arrangements were being made for the
move, a message was received from the Magistrate at
Empandhleni, confirming in all essentials the intelligence
that had already been brought in.

This corroborative information had also been obtained
by Native scouts — two very plucky men, one of them
called Bayekana, who had themselves seen Bambata and
Mehlokazulu's impi in the Kombe forest, and further
ascertained from people in the vicinity that the intention
was to move to the Mome the same night. This intelli-
gence was at once transmitted by special runners over a
distance of twenty-five miles to the Magistrate, who,
again, was six miles from Nomangci.

Presuming that the rebels would move down the Insuze
valley, that being their easiest route, it became necessary
to place the responsibihty of preventing the entry pri-
marily on the column already in the \acinity of the grave.
This column, in the absence of Mansel on duty in Pieter-
maritzburg, was then under the command of Lieut. -Col.
W. F. Barker, D.S.O.^

The instructions issued at 10.30 p.m. by McKenzie to
Barker, being important, are given in extenso :

" From O.C. Troops to Colonel Barker.

" On receipt of this despatch, you will please move at
once, with all available men (leaving sufficient for the

1 Barker had assumed duty on the 8th.



298 THE ZULU REBELLION

defence of your camp), to the mouth of the Mome valley.
I have information that an imyi is coming down from
Qudeni to enter the Mome valley between this and to-
morrow morning. Please try and waylay this impi and
prevent them from entering the Mome, and at dayhght
block the mouth of the Mome at once. It is anticipated
that they will not enter the Mome till dayUght.

" I have reliable information as to almost the exact
spot Sigananda is in and I am moving from here to sur-
round him. He is supposed to be just below the Mome
stronghold, a Httle lower down than where we burnt his
kraal. I will cut off this portion at daylight and drive
down towards you, so please do all you can to prevent his
escape, and to co-operate with me generally.

" At dayhght, please send the Zululand Pohce and
Native levies up to Sigananda's kraal, which you burnt
the day we attacked the stronghold, where they will join
my forces. You must take your gun ^ and Maxims in case
you meet the imjn, which is reported to be of strength.

" Look out for my signals."

1 Barker had two 15-pounders.



XIV.

ACTION AT MOMEi GORGE.

Of so important a nature were McKenzie's instructions,
that three men were employed to carry them to Barker,
who was known to be camped three or four miles from the
grave. 2 The three selected were Tprs. C. W. Johnson
(because of his knowledge of the district), G. 0. Ohver
(because of his abiHty to speak Zulu), and W. Deeley (as
additional rider in case of accidents) — all of the Z.M.R.
In informing the men of the contents of his despatch,
McKenzie explained he did so, so that, in case of mishap,
one or other of them should ride through and acquaint
Barker thereof, even though only verbally.

It was just about 10 p.m. when the men, quitting
Nomangci camp, moved towards the road a mile off. Once
in it, they pushed forward at a sharp pace, which increased
to a gallop on entering, as they presently did, the great
black forest. The speed at which they went naturally
caused the clatter of the horses' hoofs to reverberate
loudly in the still, dark avenue formed by the trees on
either side. It was for a double purpose they galloped
along as they did, firstly, to convey the intelligence with
utmost speed, secondly, to give the impression to any of

1 This word is dissyllabic, and pronounced ' maw-me ' (the ' e ' being
as in ' met ').

2 Owing to the insanitary state of his camp (the site having recently
been used by three columns), Barker got permission from McKenzie to
move about three miles to the south-east of the grave, and out of sight
of Macala. This had occurred on the afternoon of the 8th. On the same
day, all the supply waggons (empty) trekked back to Fort Yolland.
Little did Barker suppose that this lucky move would make the enemy
believe the column had vanished as well.



300 THE ZULU REBELLION

the enemy that might be lurking about — for the entire
route to be traversed was held by him — that the party
was larger than it really was. After proceeding about
half a mile in the forest, a large tree was found lying at
right angles across the road. It had not fallen by accident,
but had been chopped to come down as it had done, so as
to obstruct waggons going to and fro. (Only a few days
before, it will be remembered, a waggon carrying supplies
had been captured in this locality). Leaping the hurdle,
the riders were next surprised at seeing a fire burning but
a short distance away to the right, one of them declaring
he heard persons running from there further into the
forest. It was not until they had got to the looted store
at Sibudeni peak, where they left the road to proceed
along a rough track leading through other dense forests
and broken country to Bobe ridge, that the horses were
pulled in and compelled, owing to the nature of the
ground, to proceed at a walk. At this point, two or three
cow-hides were found tightly stretched and pegged out to
dry across the said track. To prevent more noise than
necessary at this dangerous part (it was one of the enemy's
principal outposts — the attack on Mansel of 5th May
began near there), the men dismounted, made a detour
round the hides, and then went on again as before. They
soon emerged altogether from the forest, descended the
long steep Bobe ridge, and crossed the Halambu stream
at the bottom. Here doubt arose as to the whereabouts
of the Trans vaalers' camp, but the existence of fresh
wheel-marks, fortunately noticed in the nick of time lead-
ing off the well-beaten Fort Yolland track, induced the
men to follow them, with the result that, after proceeding
but a few hundred yards, they found the object of their
mission had been successfully achieved. To be passed
through the lines of sleeping soldiers and on to the Officer
Commanding was the work of but a few moments. The
despatch was safely delivered at about 1 a.m.^

1 Some fifteen miles of difficult country had been traversed. The feat
was a noteworthy one ; it had called for courage and daring, and well
deserved the Distinguished Conduct Medal afterwards awarded to each
of the men.



ACTION AT MOME GORGE 301

Barker at once made arrangements to move as directed.
He had all the officers and men quietly roused. Calling
the former together, he read them the despatch and made
known the order of march, anticipating he would be in
time to He in ambush at Tate gorge, that being a part of
the country which lent itself well to such tactics.^ The
strictest orders were issued that there wPvS to be neither
smoking nor talking. Leaving a force sufficient to defend
the camp, the rest of the column moved off at 2 a.m. It
was made up as follows : T.M.R. (three squadrons — B, C
and D) ; N.P. (90) ; N.F.A. (one section— two 15-
pounders) ; one Maxim gun ; one Colt gun ; Nongqai
(100) ; and a levy of about 800 Natives (Chiefs Mfungelwa
and Hatshi).

When near Cetshwayo's grave, Inspector C. E. Fairlie,
with Nongqai and levies, branched off to the right and
proceeded to a position overlooking a small neck in that
large bend of the Mome stream situate some 200 yards
below where the " pear-shaped " forest (Dobo), tapering
down, abuts on the said stream. He was directed to stop
the rebels on their making an appearance at the neck.
If nothing happened for an hour after daybreak, he was
to proceed up to Sigananda's already burnt Enhlweni
kraal and there, as directed, co-operate with McKenzie's
forces.

On reaching the entrance of Mome gorge, the advanced
guard of the main body, consisting of a troop of C
squadron, had already moved across the comparatively
level ground opposite the mouth, when Barker and those
with him, glancing over their right shoulders, observed a
number of fires burning brightly in the gorge, some 1,000
yards away. There were about sixty. It seemed as if the
troops had come too late. Word to halt was immediately
passed along. The guns at the moment were half a mile in

^ The mouth of Tate gorge is about a mile west of the mouth of Mome
gorge, and is on the route along which, as hinted in McKenzie's despatch,
tVie enemy would probably travel. In Barker's view, it was just possible
the enemy, although bound for Mome, would proceed thither through
Tate. It will be seen later, McKenzie, notwithstanding his written
instructions, entertained similar suspicions.



302 THE ZULU REBELLION

rear. On looking intently, it seemed as if figures were
moving in front of the fires. The time then was about
4 a.m. Barker dismounted, and, taking two or three men
with him, advanced on foot along the slope of the small
ridge on the west of the mouth of the gorge to obtain a
nearer view. Having satisfied himself the enemy was
actually bivouacked on an old meaHe garden, and in con-
siderable force, exactly where the fires were, he proceeded
to make his dispositions for attack, which, it was arranged,
should begin as soon as dayhght came. B and D squadrons
and a Maxim gun were posted on a ridge to the immediate
east of the Mome stream, where a good field of fire could
be commanded. C squadron and fifty N.P. with a Colt
gun, occupied the eastern face of a low ridge on the west,
whilst the rest of the PoHce, except the troop that formed
an escort to the guns posted on a prominent and detached
hillock (in front of the mouth of the gorge), were kept in
reserve out of sight and close to where the road passes
between the gun position and the said low ridge on the
west. The object of the latter force was to prevent a
possible breaking back of the enemy into Insuze valley.
The guns, crossing at the drift, purposely made a big
detour to the left, skirted the left bank of the Insuze,
and came up the southern face of the hillock referred to.^
As it was, it was feared the noise was enough to alarm
the enemy.

When Fairlie arrived at his position, finding the
enemy bivouacked immediately below him, he detached
about twenty Nongqai and 400 of the Native levy, with
two or three Europeans, to hold ground north of him, and
opposite and within 100 yards of where the Dobo bush
meets the Mome.

The orders were that not a shot was to be fired nor the
shghtest noise made until daybreak, when a round from
the 15-pounders was to be taken as the signal for a general
fusillade. Barker made it known that he himself was with
the guns.

For about two hours everybody remained in position,

^ This is the hill referred to on p. 246.



ACTION AT MOME GORGE 303

perfectly still. As silent were they as their sleeping foes.
The fires died out gradually, one by one. The time was
one of the greatest anxiety for the commanding officer, as
he did not know but that the whole of his remarkably
elusive foe had slipped through the neck immediately in
rear of their bivouac, which neck, owing to the nature of
the country, it was impossible to completely block in rear
without disclosing the presence of a hostile force. Owing
to a heavy mist that arose towards dawn, making it diffi-
cult to discern objects at a distance of 200 yards, daylight
was longer than usual in coming.

After watching for a long time through field-glasses,
the mist cleared shghtly, when Barker saw something
resembling the outhne of a burnt kraal where he had
hoped to set eyes on the enemy himself. Suddenly
remembering no burnt kraal existed on that particular spot
a few days previously, he looked again, when he became
convinced that what he beheld was nothing else but the
enemy himself, drawn up in a circle — the inevitable circle
in which orders are given as to engaging an enemy.
Barker, moreover, saw enough to convince him that he
had himself by then been seen.

The preconcerted signal was fired a few seconds later,
not, however, by the 15-pounders, but by the Maxim
under Lieut. R. G. Forbes, on the opposite or eastern side.
What occurred at that point was this : D squadron under
Capt. H. McKay, lay on Forbes's immediate right. Forbes's
orders were not to fire without consulting McKay, and
fire was on no account to be opened unless found to be
absolutely imperative, viz. to prevent actual escape of
the enemy up the gorge. If, however, it started in any
other quarter, the Maxim was, of course, to do Hkewise.
Just as it began to get light, the time being about 6.50
a.m., Forbes and McKay, using a good pair of field-glasses,
400 3^ards closer to the enemy than Barker, could see the
rebels getting up and forming themselves into companies.
It appeared as if they were about to move up the Mome
and towards the redoubtable stronghold. McKay decHned
to give the order to fire until, after closer examination, he



304 THE ZULU REBELLION

agreed that, by not opening, the first company, then
obviously on the move, must be lost. "All right, have a
go," he cried, whereupon the Maxim blazed forth at a
range which, as it turned out, had been correctly fixed at
600 yards.

As soon as the Maxim started, practically simultaneous
volleys broke from all troops east and west, including the
two 15-pounders and Colt gun — the whole forming almost
a semi-circle of flame in the gloomy, early dawn. The
consternation among the rebels was such as, for a few
moments, to paralyze action ; they rushed wildly to
and fro, throwing down coats, tin cans, equipment, etc.
and seeking shelter in the greatest disorder, anywhere and
everywhere. Large numbers dashed through the neck in
the hope of escaping to their original destination, only to
be met, first by well-directed fire of the men posted im-
mediately above that part on the east, and, where these
failed, by that of men (also on the east), detached from
Fairlie and pushed forward still nearer the Dobo forest.
Thus those fortunate in escaping the hail of bullets at the
mouth had to continue to run the gauntlet for another
200 or 300 yards over rugged country. The day of reckon-
ing had come, and come with a vengeance. Some, by
sheer perseverance and good luck, succeeded in reaching
the forest immediately below the waterfall, where they
were, of course, safe ; but, on this retreat being completely
cut off by McKenzie, as will presently be seen, the fugitives
found themselves forced to enter the then only available
shelter, namely the Dobo forest ; but to proceed thither
was no better than jumping out of the frying pan into the
fire. That forest was nothing less than a huge trap,
capable of being completely surrounded and driven at
leisure. Moreover, in attempting to gain entrance thereto,
more than one sharp encounter took place with the
Nongqai, levies, and supporting European troops.

At 7.5 a.m. the " cease fire " was sounded, when the
troops were directed to leave the ridges and drive down
the slopes, as well as o^er the area and along the stream
in the immediate vicinity of the bivouac, also between the



ACTION AT MOME GORGE 305

neck and Dobo. Much of the ground was covered with
shrubs, long grass or rushes, and, here and there, the
banks of the stream were hollowed out through the action
of the water. In carrying out the movement, several
cases occurred of individual rebels feigning death, when,
on being more closely examined, they suddenly jumped up
and attacked, either by seizing their assailant's rifle, or
lunging at him with an up -till-then carefully concealed
assegai.

Haviug described how Barker (who happened to be
nearest the enemy) carried out the instructions he had
received from McKenzie, it is necessary now to see what
action was being simultaneously taken by the latter.
The infantry and artillery were moved from Nomangci
at 3 a.m. and the mounted troops at 3.30 a.m. to
co-operate with Barker by descending both ridges over-
looking Mome gorge, with the principal object of cutting
the enemy off from the stronghold on fleeing from Barker
below.^ The western side was occupied by N.C. (C squad),
Z.M.R. (about 100), N.D.M.R. (about 100), R.H. (about
450), D.L.I, (about 140), N.F.A. (one 15-pounder), two
pompoms, a Maxim detachment, and a Native levy. The
eastern side was held by the Natal Rangers (with Maxim
guns), under Lieut.-Col. J. Dick.^

As part of McKenzie's plan was to effect the capture of
Sigananda, he dismounted the Z.M.R. and marched them
and the D.L.I, in single file, together with the Native
levy, down to the large forest known as Mvalasango (on
the west of the waterfall), in which Sigananda was said
to be, ^vith the object of driving it. The men were hning
the edge of this forest, extremely dense and steep at that
part, and awaiting the order to move forward into the
bush, under Lieut.-Col. J. R. Royston, when the loud and
simultaneous fire already referred to burst from Barker's
Maxim, artiUery and rifles, about 2,500 yards further down.

1 Orders were given for the searchlight to be kept flashing throughout
the night, to give the enemy the impression that the troops were quietly
resting on Nomangci — a ruse that exactly served its pvu-pose.

2 F company (Capt. Forsbrook) was, however, at Mangeni. It joined
the regiment on the 14th June.

U



306 THE ZULU REBELLION

The first thought that flashed across McKenzie's mind was
that Barker had trapped the rebels at the mouth whilst
they were marching to enter. If such surmise were true,
it became necessary at once to prevent fugitives from
retreating towards Tate gorge and Macala. With this
object in view, the troops were recalled and the order
given to mount, the intention being to move down into
the Insuze valley by way of Gcongco ridge which, as will
be remembered, had been used on the occasion of the con-
verging movement on Cetshwayo's grave. These move-
ments, although extremely difficult in the mist and dark,
were carried out with great rapidity and dash, but resulted



Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 27 of 52)