James Stuart.

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

. (page 28 of 52)
Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 28 of 52)
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only in the troops being presently wheeled to a position
lower down the gorge than the one just vacated. McKenzie
came to the decision to right about wheel whilst on the
gallop, owing to seeing that the flash from the fire of
Barker's lo-pounders, 1,400 feet below, was directed up
the Mome instead of westwards as at first anticipated. To
return to hold ground half-way between top and bottom
of the gorge and 300 yards from the edge of Dobo, was a
matter of but a few moments. On this hurried rush back,
a solitary armed rebel was come upon and shot whilst
attempting to escape in the mist.

Alive to the importance of swift movement, McKenzie
dashed down the side of the gorge at a pace that excited
at once the surprise and envy of his men. These could but
follow to the best of their ability. He grasped the situation
in an instant — his eye for country is proverbial. He saw
that the main line of retreat, the disposition of forces then
being what it was, must necessarily be up the Dobo, to
the top of the ridge (down whose eastern slopes that forest
grew), and from thence into as precipitous though narrower
a ravine on the west. Stringent orders were thereupon
given for that particular topmost part to be effectively
guarded by Royston's Horse, who were, moreover, ordered
to connect with Barker's left. So important did McKenzie
deem this, and rightly so, that a staff officer was at once
sent to see that the order he had already sent by another
staff officer was, as a matter of fact, being properly



ACTION AT MOME GORGE 307

executed.^ His next act, as essential as the other, was to
push troops down to check the rebels already making
along the river banks towards the waterfall and the large
dense forests in that neighbourhood. Detachments of the
Z.M.R., N.D.M.R. and R.H., having once more dis-
mounted, accordingly ran down to the Mome and there
effectually cut off such fugitives as had not already made
good their escape, compeHing them to find refuge, though
only for a time as it happened, in the pear-shaped or
Dobo bush. At the same time, the N.C. Maxim (Sergt.
Ross), was smartly got down to a suitable position and
greatly assisted in preventing the enemy's escape.

The Rangers had originally been directed to hold the
upper eastern ridge of the Mome and get in touch with
Fairhe. On leaving Nomangci camp at 3 a.m., they were
obHged to traverse a large section of forest along narrow
paths, where they were delayed owing to the guides for
a time losing their way, so much so, that when the action
started, the men had barely emerged from the forest at
the left rear of the waterfall. On hearing the fire, however,
they pushed forward at a brisk pace to occup}?^ the ground
assigned them.

When the action was at its height, they were required
to move down and assist men of N.C, Z.M.R., R.H. and
other corps in cutting off the retreat. The necessary
orders, however, could not be conveyed, as there was
insufficient sunshine to use the hehograph. The semaphore
was tried, but also proved unsuccessful. It is, however,
doubtful, if, had the men come down, they would have
been in time to be of material assistance.

After running down to check escapes along the banks of
the Mome, the detachments of Z.M.R., N.D.M.R., N.C. and
R.H. that had assembled there, when it was evident the
fugitives had been cut off, were reinforced and then
directed by McKenzie to drive, under the command of
Lieut. -Col. Royston, down the Mome through the scrub

lit so happened that a squadron of R.H., which, for a few mmutes
had gone astray during the gallop on top, had aheady been made by
Major A. W. Fraser to occupj^ a portion of the position in question, and
so prevent escapes then already beginning to occur.



308 THE ZULU REBELLION

and bush towards the lower part of Dobo. In the course
of this drive, the notorious ringleader, Mehlokazulu, one
of the men who started the Zulu War, was shot. He was
wearing a new pair of riding trousers, shirt, socks and over-
coat, whilst a pair of new tanned boots was being carried
for him by one of his servants.

About 9 a.m. Barker got into communication with
McKenzie by semaphore, when he received orders to move
his guns to the ridge in immediate rear of the enemy's
bivouac (where the neck referred to was), and to search
Dobo thoroughly with shrapnel. The forest was accord-
ingly shelled from top to bottom. The enemy, reaHzing
that he had been caught in a trap, could do nothing
else than conceal himself as effectually as possible among
the numerous boulders, crevices and other hiding-places
to be found there. The troops at the bottom, including
Nongqai and levies, now began to drive the bush upwards.
They had not proceeded many yards before Colonel
McKenzie directed them to withdraw, climb the western
face of the gorge immediately north of Dobo, and, joined
on top by N.D.M.R., R.H., D.L.I, and B and C companies
N.R. (which battahon had been ordered to come down
from the opposite side of the gorge) ^ to drive downwards
towards the Mome. The reason for operating in this way
was because, by advancing upwards, the troops were at a
disadvantage, as the rebels, most of whom still retained
possession of their assegais, would have been able to throw
with effect at men climbing under the greatest difficulties
up so steep an incline.

It was already 2 p.m. when the drivers, purposely as
numerous as possible, were in position. N.R., R.H., and
D.L.I, took the left. N.D.M.R. the centre, with Nongqai
and levies on the right. The rate of progress, owing to
the exceptionally steep and rugged area, and to the enemy
having concealed himself in various and most ingenious

1 The battalion moved in line of companies, searching the bush-
covered gullies en route ; a number of rebels was come upon. A and
H companies lined the river, whilst parties of D, E and G lined one of
the sides of Dobo bush as it was being driven. Tlie work done by the
regiment, especially B and C companies, was very useful.



ACTION AT MOME GORGE 309

ways, was very slow. Steps, too, had to be taken to see
that the Hne advanced in as uniform a manner as possible
to prevent accidents. Occasionally Nongqai or levies on
the right, more used to such movements than Europeans,
got ahead, when they had to be halted to allow the rest
to move up. With the constant interruptions that
occurred, it is surprising the drive was conducted as well
as it was.

After reaching a point about three-quarters of the way
down, it was seen the Nongqai had again swung round in
advance and partly overlapped. If their being in advance
had been dangerous when higher up, it was more so now
where the bush, narrowing as it approached the Mome,
was only 250 yards across instead of 1,200. All this time,
independent firing had been going on in various directions
and many rebels were killed. FairUe, who led the
Nongqai, fearing accidents, decided to withdraw, leaving
the rest of the bush to be completed by such troops as
remained. He directed the " assembly " to be sounded.
The effect of this unfortunate mistake was that, not only
did all the Nongqai begin to leave, but also aU the Euro-
pean troops and Native levy (though not so fast), for,
hearing the call, the majority naturally supposed it had
been ordered by the general officer commanding. Had
the " assembly " not been sounded, the rest of the bush —
only a small portion remained — must have been as
thoroughly driven as that already done, with the result
that many rebels, who had continually sKpped further and
further to the bottom end as they heard the drivers
advancing, would not have escaped as they did. For all
anyone knew at the time, Bambata and other important
rebels were among those who escaped. When the bugle
sounded, it was already late (4.30 p.m.), though not so
late as those engaged supposed, nor too late for the drive
to be completed. Exactly how many rebels escaped at
that particular spot it is impossible to say. A hundred
would probably be beyond the mark.

After withdrawing from Mvalasango forest, in which it
was supposed Sigananda was concealed, McKenzie could



310 THE ZULU REBELLION

not, of course, take steps to drive it that day. Even
supposing Sigananda was there, which, as a matter of
fact, was not the case — information subsequently obtained
proved he was in the small gorge immediately on the west
of Mome — the futility of driving increased every moment
after withdrawing to cut off the enemy. Sigananda, on
hearing the fire at the mouth (supposing him to have been
in the gorge), would naturally have retreated further into
his stronghold, and to one or other of its innumerable
recesses where, after the delay of say an hour or two, it
would have been utterly impossible, even for the total
forces engaged, to have found him, had they been with-
drawn from all parts of the field to undertake the search.

Among the slain were Mtele ^ of Umsinga division (uncle
of Chief Kula, who will be dealt with at length in Chapter
XV. ; Nondubela (alias Mavukutu), a Chief also of
Umsinga division and an associate of Mehlokazulu ; Paula
and Moses, the Christian teachers who had joined
Bambata at Mpanza ; and the rebel protagonist Bambata
himself.

The death of Bambata occurred as follows : Some time
after those who fled into Dobo had passed in, and shortly
before the sheUing thereof, a soHtary unarmed man, with
but a shirt on, was seen making his way up the Mome
stream, walking in the water. The first to notice him was
a Native loyalist, some sixty yards away on the left bank
of the Mome. Behind the man in the shirt, however, on
the right bank, and only ten yards off, was another loyalist.
The man in the water perceived the Native sixty yards off,
but not the one in rear. Seeing the more distant man
rushing to attack him, he left the water, but no sooner did
he mount the right bank, than the one in rear, seizing the
opportimity, darted forward and planted his long-bladed
assegai in the rebel's body. This happened just as that
part, where Dobo abuts on the Mome, had been reached.
The loyalist, a powerfully built fellow, endeavoured to
withdraw the weapon, the only one he had, with the object
of again stabbing his far-from-dead foe. But, having

^ It is believed by some that this man escaped.



MOME

DjsposiUons art at beg nning of adion , for subsequent ones, see Reference and I
Scale




GwrgePftOip & Son.L^



ACTION AT MOME GORGE 311

thrust too hard, the assegai had got so bent that it could
not be extricated. The unfortunate victim had by this
time fallen. Presently, the man who had first observed
him. crossed the stream and, raising his assegai, attempted
to thrust at the half -prostrate form. Quick as Ughtning,
the latter — never uttering a sound — clutched the assegai
with both hands before it had struck him, and violently
struggled for its possession. It seemed he must succeed,
notwithstanding two were against him. He fought with
the valour of despair. By this time, however, a Nongqai,
also on the left bank, had noticed what was afoot. Coming
up quickly, he raised his rifle and shot the rebel through
the head. And there, after further unsuccessful efforts to
withdraw the assegai, the corpse was left to lie. None
of those present bothered themselves with deceased's
identity. As the establishment of such identity did not
take place until a couple of days afterwards, and then only
under special circumstances, the rest of the story must be
reserved for its proper place.

When the last troops (among them the D.L.I, and the
Native levy) had emerged from Dobo, orders were given
for the columns to march back to their respective camps.
Needless to say the infantry that had taken part in the
last drive, were thoroughly exhausted by the time they
got back. Eor them, indeed, the day had been particularly
long and arduous.

It is only to be expected that the enemy's losses were
severe. The total, however, as has been proved by sub-
sequent enquiry, was not so great as beHeved by some.
The estimates were at first fixed at anything between five
and six hundred. Taking into consideration the accounts
given by rebels, by members of various units that took
part, and others hkely to know, it would appear the
number was about five hundred. The losses amongst
McKenzie's troops, including Barker, were smalJ. Capt.
S. C. Macfarlane (D.S.O.), T.M.R., was kiUed (probably by
his own side, through his pushing further forward in the
early dawn than directed to do). Lieut. C. Marsden, R.H.,
and Tpr. F. H. Glover (I.L.H.), T.M.R., were mortally



312 THE ZULU REBELLION

wounded, and eight other Europeans wounded. Sergt.
Mahashahasha, Z.N.P. (Nongqai), and members of the
levies were also wounded. This great disparity in losses
of the opposing forces is, of course, accoimted for by the
fact that the rebels were taken at a disadvantage. It is
only natural that heavy losses would have resulted on
well-armed troops waylaying the enemy as was done
on the day in question. The rebels knew perfectly well
what the result of clashing with European troops would
be (this from lessons drawn especially from the Zulu War),
even where the ground was not particularly favourable to
either side. They had still to experience the effects where,
with greatly inferior weapons, they were tactically at
serious disadvantage. Such contingency they were, of
course, aware might occur. No doubt, looking on their
opponents as slow and ponderous, they thought it would
never arise. It is, however, the unlikely that occurs in
war. There is no question that the end they kept con-
stantly in mind was in some way or another to secure
tactical advantages over detached sections of European
troops similar to that obtained over themselves by the
latter on the 10th of June, when, it is needless to add,
they would have administered punishment even more
severe and relentless than was meted out to them then.

To be shot down or stabbed in battle is regarded by
Natives as the natural consequence of war, and, when an
advantage has been obtained, they are surprised if it be
not used to the greatest effect. It is difficult to describe
the contempt with which the warUke Zulu regards what
we are pleased to style magnanimity — the magnanimity,
for instance, of Gladstone in 1881, with certain victory in
view, and the magnanimity of restoring Cetshwayo to
Zululand in 1883. They reason thus : Two peoples are
at war ; one must defeat the other, and the best way is
to do so in a thorough-going way. Nothing, they hold, is
so effective and lesson-serving as wholesale slaughter.
Anything else is to pander to future trouble and misery.
When the blow has to be struck, let each strike and strike
severely. To spare an enemy during continuance of



ACTION AT MOME GORGE 313

hostilities is fatal. As well spare flames doing their best
to burn down a kraal.

Curious incidents sometimes occur on the eve of momen-
tous events, but escape narration because irrelevant to the
issue. An exception must be made on the present occasion,
for the story will at least surprise any Zulu that happens
to hear it. "As we were marching at a walk on the night
in question," says Barker, " and when about two miles to
the south of Cetshwayo's grave, I and my Adjutant (Capt.
W. Jardine) leading, I noticed in our path a black cat. I
called Jardine's attention to it, jocularly supposing it to be
a sign of luck ahead. It was moonlight, and before the
mist had come on. The cat, black ail over, was evidently
tame. It led the way towards the Mome. I afterwards
forgot and lost sight of it. On our way back after the
fight, coming along last, as I wanted to see all our men out,
the same cat entered my path and came along. Again I
lost sight of it, but next morning found it lying on or near
my pillow. After this, it remained in camp and became a
regimental favourite. I subsequently took it to the
Transvaal."

The chapter wiU conclude with a brief survey of what
took place among the rebels themselves between the con-
verging movement on Cetshwayo's grave (17th May), and
their collapse at Mome.

Not satisfied that the order to rebel had emanated from
Dinuzulu, as declared to be the case by Cakijana and
Bambata, seeing the promised reinforcements had not
arrived, Mangati resolved to visit Usutu and learn the
truth from Dinuzulu himself. Bambata decided to accom-
pany him, but Cakijana, owing to the wound he had
received, could not go. The two, accompanied by two
other mounted men, rode off on the 20th. Interviews
took place, probably on 24th (Queen's birthday), and 25th,
betvv^een them and Dinuzulu. The latter denied having
started or authorized the RebelHon, emphasizing he had
merely said to Bambata : "If you people want to fight,
why do you not all unite and fight the whites ? " He said,
again, to Mangati : "If you people desire to fight, go and



314 THE ZULU REBELLION

do so, it is not my doing. Go and join Mehlokazulu. I
hear he also has joined the rebels. After joining him, go
and join Sigananda, and, if necessary, go on fighting till
you get to Natal. . . . Sigananda' s messengers are here
now to report that the white people have burnt my father's
grave and are unearthing my father's bones. I tell you
now, go and join Mehlokazulu and do what he tells you." ^
After spending two days at Usutu, where they were fed
and hospitably treated by the man who, but five weeks
before, had sent the loyal and reassuring statement
printed on p. 214, and beginning : "I am not surprised
that the Natal Government should have doubt as to
my loyalty. ... I can only say I am perfectly loyal
and am most anxious to give proof of this ..." the rebel
ringleaders departed with a blessing from that ' loyal '
and ' much maligned ' Chief, to use their best endeavours
to overthrow the white man's rule.

By the time Mangati and Bambata had got back to
the area of hostilities, Leuchars had fought his action at
Mpukunyoni (28th). Mehlokazulu and other leaders from
the north-west moved to Nkonyeni forest, near Kombe.
After the fight at Manzipambana (3rd June), the greater
portion of the Nkandhla rebels collected at Macala. Bam-
bata, leaving Macala with his tribesmen, got into touch
with Mehlokazulu, and returned with him and them on the
7th to mass at Macala. Here, the combined forces were
informed by Mangati that he had just returned from
Dinuzulu whose wish it was that Macala — " a man with a
temper " — should take supreme command, and Mganu
command the regiment Mavalana. Under this arrange-
ment, Bambata and Mangati assumed the title of ' princes.'

Finding the imyi had, for the most part, gone to Macala,
Sigananda sent word to Bambata to return at once, as,
having started a rebellion in his (Sigananda's) ward, it
was unfair to desert, leaving him to cope as best he could
with the enraged Europeans. Bambata had deceived
them once by declaring the white man's bullets would not
' enter,' was he going to do so again by throwing over the

1 Cd. 3888, p. 185.



ACTION AT MOME GORGE 315

original plan of adopting Nkandhla as the principal
rallying-ground ? The reply was that the forces would
return at once.

It was now resolved by the leaders to further increase
their numbers if possible. A large force accordingly pro-
ceeded on the 7th to the Tugela, near Watton's store, where
Mangati alone paid a visit to a son of Chief Gayede to
induce him, as diplomatically as he could, to join them.
The son explained his father was ill and unable to join,
being a mere " dog of the Government." The primary
object of the expedition was to put Gayede and another
adjoining Chief, Hlangabeza, to death, whereupon their
people would probably espouse the cause of the rebels.
These irregular and hazardous proceedings were strongly
disapproved by Macala and others. These men, therefore,
refrained from accompanying the force.

After visiting Watton's store, the impi bivouacked in
Zululand, close to the river. It was midday before they
were again astir. A couple of Native police from Krantz-
kop were soon observed on the opposite bank. They began
shouting at the rebels. Cakijana dismounted, dropped on
his knee, and shot one of them dead, after which the force
moved back to Macala.

There being no reason why the impi, considerably aug-
mented by the arrival of Mehlokazulu's and other men,
should not return to Nkandhla to continue tactics up till
then comparatively successful, a start was made for the
Mome between 6 and 7 p.m. on the 9th. The men, leaving
in batches, marched in the loosest order. When close to
Tate, they got reliable inteUigence that Barker was still
near Insuze river, although his waggons had gone off to
Fort YoUand. Ndabaningi beUeved the news, but Me-
hlokazulu ridiculed it, retorting that the informants were
partial to Europeans and purposely wished to mislead.

Mangati, with four companies, moved at once up the
Mome gorge and bivouacked near the waterfall. Owing
to sheer obstinacy on Mehlokazulu's part, the main impi
camped at the mouth of the gorge instead of moving
further in with Mangati. It was, moreover, owing to him



316 THE ZULU REBELLION

that intelligence brought about 3.30 a.m., three hours
before the action began, by a Httle boy to the effect that
some waggons were approaching was ignored — these
' waggons,' as it happened, being the two 15-pounders and
ammunition waggons. In reply, Mehlokazulu described
the inteUigence as rubbish, for he had himself seen from
Macala every waggon belonging to Barker's column trek
off towards Fort YoUand. Thus, this vaunted leader,
chiefly on account of personal fatigue, did his side the
greatest possible disservice, forfeiting his own life in
addition.

After hearing the little boy's story, Ndabaningi detached
himself with a section of the rebels and followed Mangati,
leaving Mehlokazulu and Bambata with the bulk of the
impi behind.

The aggregate force that came from Macala would have
been anything between 1,200 to 1,500 strong. Of these,
probably not more than 1,000 were in action, if so many.

Had the whole body entered the stronghold unperceived,
the plan was to rest a day, then begin attacking the sur-
rounding Chiefs and looting their stock. These Chiefs,
although members of their tribes had become rebels, had
themselves refrained from joining. It was, therefore,
supposed that, on conclusion of hostilities, they would
visit their displeasure on those who had rebelled. Con-
sequently, the intention was to deal vigorously with and
kill off these half-hearted men ; such were the tactics of
Tshaka, for, after kilHng the leaders, the ordinary people,
it was found, flocked to the ' conqueror.' The poHcy,
furthermore, was to he in wait for small parties of the
Government forces near, but especially in, the forests, and
massacre them before reinforcements could arrive, as,
indeed, had almost happened at Manzipambana.

The reader will naturally wonder what became of
the newly-appointed commanders, Macala and Mganu.
Macala thought it wiser to push into the gorge. He
joined Mangati and Ndabaningi, leaving the headstrong
Mehlokazulu and Bambata to look after themselves.
Mganu, however, remained.



ACTION AT MOME GORGE 317

On Bambata and Mehlokazulu's suspicions being
aroused, scouts were sent out to examine the ridge on the
west, occupied by part of Barker's force. These returned
a few minutes before the Maxim opened to report troops
were really there. The impi was speedily roused and
formed into an umkumbi, that is, the ' circle ' Barker had
seen. Bambata then completely lost his head, so much so
that Mganu, in the absence of Macala, was called on to
take general command. He immediately gave such orders
as appeared necessary to meet the situation. His own
regiment, Mavalana, was told to charge at Barker in one
direction, and the others to do likewise in another. But
before the men (already arranged in companies) could
move forward (not backward as McKay and Forbes had
beheved), the Maxim began — not from the ridge suspected
by the rebels, but from a different one. What followed at
this stage has already been related. It remains to add that,
when it became a case of sauve qui peut, the majority
turned and made over the neck in rear as hard as they
could. It flashed across the minds of those famihar with
that part of the country that Dobo was a snare ; that
being the case, there was nothing for it but to run the
gauntlet towards the waterfall. This, as has been seen,
many accordingly did.

And so, as far as the ordinary rebel could see, the great
storm that was to come turned out to be nothing more



Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 28 of 52)