James Stuart.

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

. (page 32 of 52)
Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 32 of 52)
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many of the enemy were still lurking about the broken
country in the vicinity of Oglesby's, the reconnaissance
caused both sections of the troops to run considerable risks.

When Sparks ascertained that the wire between him
and Stanger had been cut, he sent telegrams asldng for
reinforcements to Kearsney, for transmission to head-
quarters. The men who carried the despatches were
Sergts. A. J. Wadman and J. E. Sjoblom. Leaving at
10 a.m., they found the wire Kad been cut a few yards from
the store at Thring's Post. When proceeding along the
short-cut on which Koster had, unknown to them, been
attacked the same morning, they found some fifty or
sixty of the enemy, who attempted to cut them off. On
reaching Thring's Post, they found the store upside down,
a great many goods having been looted and the rest
scattered on the floor. " I noticed," says Wadman,
" about ten mice which I had previously seen at the store
had been let out of their cage and then stabbed with
assegais." After delivering the despatches, the men
returned to Mapumulo the same night.

On this same eventful day {19th), Sub-Inspector A. S.


CKfton, of the Natal PoKce, arrived at Thring's Post with
about a dozen men, and removed the deceased Mr.
Sangreid, as well as Mr. Bobbins, to Stanger.

The troops ordered by Leuchars at this juncture to con-
centrate at Mapumulo were N.M.R., under Murray-Smith ;
U.F.F., under Major W. J. S. Newmarch ; two squadrons
B.M.R. (mobilized on the 14th and originally directed to
proceed, with D squadron, N.C. (Capt. J. W. V. Mont-
gomery), to Helpmakaar ; ^ and C.M.R. Maxim detach-
ment (Capt. M. Humphery). The first-named regiment,
receiving orders at 2 p.m. on the 20th, left at 5 p.m. in
light marching order, and, after off-saddling for four hours
at Balcomb's, reached Mapumulo before dawn on the
following day. A portion of the regiment made a recon-
naissance the same morning in the neighbourhood of
Oglesby's store. Powell's body was brought back and
buried at the magistracy.

Further reconnaissances took place towards Otimati
and Isiwasezimbuzi, near the Tugela, on the 22nd and
23rd respectively.

A patrol under Knox proceeded on the 25th to Hlonono
Mission Station, when many of the enemy in the low
country of Meseni's ward were located.

Amott's column reached Otimati drift on the 24th. As
the camp was to be a standing one, the waggons were
formed into a lager, strengthened with barbed-wire

Leuchars, who reached Arnott on the morning of the
27th with the greater portion of the Mapumulo force, now
decided that a reconnaissance in force should take place
in the direction of the hill Peyana, some three miles to the
south-west of Thring's Post, and two from Hlonono
Mission Station. The troops, including a section of

1 These squadrons, when preparing to move from Dundee to Help-
makaar, got orders on the 20th to move to Chaka's Kraal, on the north
coast. The destination was altered to Stanger and, on 21st, to Otimati,
for which latter place the troops marched from Stanger on the 22nd,
having by then been joined by C Battery, N.F.A. (Major Currie) ;
Durban Reserv^es (Chief Leader N. Chiazzari) ; and the Indian Stretcher-
bearers (Sergt. -Major M. K. Gandhi). The column was placed under
the command of Lieut. -Col. W. Arnott.


C Battery, N.F.A. (Currie) ; four C.M.R. Maxims (Hum-
phery), and two Maxims and one Rexer, N.M.R., left
camp at 9.30 a.m. under the command of Lieut. -Col.
Amott.i The N.M.R., 350 (Murray-Smith), were in ad-
vance, N.C., 100 (Montgomery), on the left, and B.M.R.,
100, supporting. The Carbineers, besides supporting on
the left, covered a convoy of waggons then on the way to
Kearsney, escorted by a troop B.M.R.

After branching off due west from the main road at
Thring's Post, some difficulty was experienced in getting
the two field guns down a rough incline. These guns,
with a troop N.M.R. as escort, took up a position and
unlimbered at C (vide plan), which covered some 2,000
yards to right and left front ; N.C. took high ground to
the left at D, from where a deep kloof to their front was
commanded ; N.M.R. moved in extended order to neck
A, and halted on the ridges to right and left thereof, with
B.M.R. supporting in immediate rear on the right. These
dispositions were made owing to the broken nature of the
ground, which favoured ambuscade, and had up till then
been held daily by the enemy's outposts. The track along
which the column had to advance skirted to the right of,
and under, Peyana hill (B), by which it was commanded.

When the troops were engaged occup3dng the ground
referred to, the time now being about noon, some half a
dozen of the enemy's decoys were observed on hill E to
the west of Peyana, freely exposing themselves. This was
almost a certain indication that the enemy was in ambush
somewhere, most probably behind Peyana, and over-
looking the route along which the troops were moving.

After the ridges referred to had been properly held, two
troops N.M.R. were sent forward to scout before the
column proceeded further towards the decoys. One troop
advanced to within 100 yards of the crest of Peyana, the
other halted in support, about 150 yards in rear. Lieut.
P. Addison, in command of the advanced troop, then went

^ Although giving the command to Arnott, Leiichars accompanied
the column, and, with his staff officer (Major Carter), witnessed the
operations from the field gun position referred to later on in the text.


forward alone mounted, accompanied by his dog. He
rode to a neck near the crest and to within thirty yards of
the enemy, who were about 400 strong, Ijring concealed
in a slight depression out of sight of the troops at ^. In
the immediate rear of the enemy, was a bushy krantz.
On seeing the rebels, Addison shouted " Here they are,"
and, turning immediately, rode back to rejoin his troop,
and then on to the main position at A. The troops
supporting had already been ordered to retire. As Addi-
son was turning, the enemy rose en masse, then crouched,
only to rise again in an instant, crying " Usutu ! Usutu ! "
as they charged down the steep, grassy slopes in open
order at the retiring troops. N.M.R. at A, with three
Maxims (C.M.R. and N.M.R. ), and the Rexer,i could not
open fire because of the enemy being masked by the
retiring troops. In the meantime, however, the two 15-
pounders on higher ground opened with shrapnel at about
1,800 yards, over the troops at A, as well as those
retiring. One of the two or three shells fired struck right
in the middle of the swiftly-moving mass, but, faiHng to
burst, did no harm. In a few seconds, heavy rifle and
machine fire broke from the N.M.R., who were reinforced
at the same moment by a squadron of their own regiment,
up till then kept in reserve, but which, on seeing the
charge, was at once pushed forward to assist on the left.
The combined fire had the effect of checking the rush
and breaking the rebels into three bodies. One of these
{i.e. the larger portion) ran into a valley immediately
below the ridge south of the neck referred to, where it
hid in scrub and such other cover as could be found ;
another fled to the left of N.M.R. position and disappeared
into a kloof, but, when making down the kloof, was met
by a hot fire from N.C. at D, when a number of casualties
was sustained. The centre portion continued the charge,
and came within a few yards of A before it was stopped ;
the rebels then turned and fled to the south-west. At
this particular moment, the N.M.R., as well as the ridge
on which they were, masked the fire of the field guns

^ Probably the first time this type of gun was used in action.


at (7, which had, for a few seconds, been directed at the
charging rebels. ^

After the rush had been broken, N.M.R. galloped in line
of squadrons up Peyana, accompanied by the machine
guns. It so happened that a large portion of the enemy
(about 300), had taken no part whatever in the charge.
They preferred to lie in wait, that, no doubt, being part
of the plan. They were discovered a few yards from where
the first lot had started. For the most part, they turned
right about and fled, under rifle and shell fire, down the
precipitous and bushy country in rear of B.

When the position at the kop had been taken, Arnott
ordered the B.M.R. (by this time strengthened by C
squadron, under Capt. J. L. Gordon), ^ to descend on foot
into the small valley of scrub, etc., on the right of, and
below, A . This was thereupon driven from top to bottom
by C squadron at the point of the bayonet. Gordon
sighted a large impi in Mvoti valley that had not been
engaged ; he continued to watch its movements until
recalled to the column.

Arnott now marched in open order, with as broad
a front as the country would permit, until Hlonono
Mission Station was reached. Here the ridges overlooking
low ground on the south-west were lined, with a front of
about half a mile. The main body of the rebels, estimated
at 3,000 to 4,000 strong, was presently seen about one and
a half miles off, and between the station and Meseni's
principal kraal, evidently trying to get round the column's
right flank. As soon as it came within artillery range, fire
was opened from Itshelensimbi hill. This, in a few
minutes, succeeded in checking the advance.

The object of the reconnaissance having been achieved,
viz. locating the position and strength of the enemy, the
column began to withdraw to the camp at Otimati.
During the retirement, which was carried out in good

^ The artillery fired about fifteen rounds, viz. shrapnel, from C. To
begin with, the shells burst on graze ; later on, good bursts were

2 This squadron had been sent out in the morning to patrol near
Tugela. It arrived at a most opportune moment.


order, the field guns shelled the impi whenever it appeared,
thereby preventing the rear-guard from being harassed in
any way.

Some seventy Natives were killed during the engage-
ment. The casualties among the troops were of a minor
description, no one being killed.

Examination of the plan will show that the ambush was
of a very ingenious character, the locahty selected being
exactly suited for the purpose. Troops less wary would
probably have been trapped. The plan evidently was to
draw them towards E, when the two impis, barely fifty
yards from one another at B, would have pounced upon
them front and rear.

The rebels, who were under the command of a brother
of Meseni, Muziwenkosi, carried ordinary shields and
assegais. One of them used a rifle, whilst others had shot-
guns. All wore the tshokohezi badge.

The decoys, who were seen before the action began,
openly signalled to the two impis on Peyana, visible to
them, but invisible to the advancing column. This was
done by sweeping the grass to right and left with their
shields. Such action, of course, immediately aroused the
suspicions of the troops.

On Addison galloping back to rejoin his men, the dog,
a white pointer, missed him and got in amongst the rebels.
These he followed, barking at them in the hveliest manner.

George PhJjp & Son,!!"



McKenzie reached Krantzkop on the same day that the
action at Peyana ^ was fought. He met and discussed the
position with the Acting Commandant (Major-General Sir
John Dartnell) ^ and Leuchars on the 29th June. Owing
to its appearing that disaffection was spreading from
Mapumulo towards Tongaat, and not being confined to
Mapumulo division, as had been supposed, he gave up the
idea he had first entertained of trying to force the rebels
towards the Tugela, where they would have found them-
selves opposed by Mansel and WooUs-Sampson on the
Zululand side, for one that involved a far more extensive
field of operations. In pursuance of the fresh plan,
Barker (then at Middle Drift) was detached from Mansel,^

^ Sometimes called Hlonono, after the name of a Native who, mitil
recently, lived some two miles from the scene.

2 This distinguished officer, who had assumed office on the 2nd June,
arrived at Krantzkop on the 29th. His services were, briefly, as
follows: Indian Mutiny, 1857-8; Bhootan Expedition, 1865; Zulu
War, 1879; Boer War, 1881; and Boer War, 1899-1902, being fre-
quently mentioned in despatches and awarded the King's and Queen's
medals with clasps. He was knighted (K.C.B.) and granted the
honorary rank of Major-General in the Army on the conclusion of the
last Boer War.

^ When directed to arrest Bejana near Empangeni, Barker moved
towards Eshowe with three squadrons, T.M.R. On getting to Entumeni,
however, his orders were cancelled, when he proceeded to Middle Drift,
reaching there on the 23rd June. By this time, he had become practically
detached from Mansel's column, then making towards Ngudwini.


and, on account of being closer than Mackay, and having
mule-transport which had been resting a few days, was
sent round by Dalton and Great Noodsberg to take up a
position at Esidumbini, that is, on the far or south-
western side of the disturbed area. Barker reached
Krantzkop from Middle Drift on the 29th. He left the
same afternoon and got to Dalton on the 30th. On the
night of the 29th, two guns, A Battery, N.F.A., were
pushed forward to reinforce him, as it was reported the
enemy was in force at the junction of Umvoti and Hlim-
bitwa rivers. The artillery was sent, as it appeared
possible to shell the rebels from the slopes of Noodsberg
and drive them back to the sphere of intended operations,
viz. that part of Umvoti valley occupied chiefly by
Meseni's and Swaimana's people. Woolls-Sampson was
instructed to move via Bond's Drift and Bulwer to
Thring's Post, whilst Mansel, supplemented by such police
as, up till then, had been attached to Woolls-Sampson's
column, proceeded to the position just vacated by the
latter column.^ A detachment of D.L.I, formed a garrison
at Bond's Drift. At this point was a large railway bridge
connecting Natal with the coastal districts of Zululand.
Mackay' s column, by- this time hastening to concentrate
with the other troops at Thring's Post, reached Krantzkop
at mid-day on the 30th, only to move later the same day
towards its destination.

The necessity for swiftness of movement was in the air.
Every man knew that Mapumulo was one of the most
densely-populated districts in Natal. It was a purely
Native district in which the ancient superstitions, habits
and customs of the Zulus were still generally observed.
The country was open and picturesque, with water and
pasture abundant. The climate, moreover, was as fresh
and exhilarating as that at Nkandhla. Such troops, e.g.
Mackay's, as had not as yet clashed with the enemy,
betrayed irrepressible eagerness to do so as soon as
possible. Not less keenness was displayed by the Trans-
vaalers under Barker, flushed with their recent and brilHant

^ I.e. Ngudwini, near Isiwasamanqe, Eshowe district.


successes in Zululand. Thus, although at this critical
moment, some 8,000 rebels were reported to have massed
in Umvoti valley, barely a dozen miles from Thring's
Post, the moral of the troops was excellent. And, one and
all, the crushing blow at Mome still in their minds, were
inspired with the feeling, not only that the concentration
taking place was opportune and fitting, but that they
were on the winning side and would still further stamp out
the Rebellion, be the insurgents 10,000 or 20,000 in
number. If ever a man rode a winning horse, knowing he
was winning, that man at this moment was McKenzie.
Eager co-operation by the Government in every con-
ceivable direction, with a vigilant and sympathetic Gover-
nor, and every combatant, white or coloured, animated
with a desire to put forth his best, that was what all these
neo-Usutuites of Natal had to contend with. Thus,
although some sharp conflicts with the rebels had still to
come, it was a foregone conclusion that the Rebellion in
those parts, notwithstanding the formidable numbers that
had massed, would be crushed, and crushed in the speediest
manner possible.

As soon as Woolls-Sampson reached Bond's Drift on the
1st July, after traversing an exceedingly difficult country
for ox-transport, he received orders to push on with all
speed to Thring's Post. At Bond's Drift he was joined
by a squadron of Royston's Horse that had been recruited
in the Cape Colony. He decided to leave his transport at
Bond's Drift and to make a night march. Thring's Post
was reached at 3 a.m. on the 2nd.

On leaving the drift, Woolls-Sampson instructed Major
S. G. Campbell, D.L.I. , to establish the garrison referred
to with 35 D.L.I. (mounted infantry), 145 D.L.I, and one
N.F.A. gun. At 11 a.m. on the 2nd, however, Campbell,
then on the Zululand side, received a wire from Woolls-
Sampson ordering him to come on at once to Thring's
Post with a convoy of twenty- two waggons of supplies, it
being imperative for these to reach Thring's Post the same
night. By double-spanning (no punt being available, as
the water was too low), the waggons were got across, and


at 1 p.m. the convoy, consisting of 70 D.L.I. , one N.F.A.
gun (Beningfield), 50 Z.M.R. (Flindt), and some 15
N.D.M.R., moved forward. When about a mile from
Mr. Hulett's house at Bulwer, a Native was seen on the
road. As he appeared suspicious, he was made to accom-
pany the convoy. Questioned as to the whereabouts of
the enemy, who, it seemed, from a subsequent telegram
from Woolls-Sampson, was lurking in the vicinity, the man
denied aU knowledge of it, though later on said he had
heard it might assemble where the springs of two streams
were but a few yards apart. A short halt was made at
Bulwer and, just after sunset,^ the convoy pushed on.

In the ordinary course, the best plan, with an enemy
close at hand, would have been to lager at Bulwer. It was
owing entirely to the stringency of the orders that an
advance was made at that late hour. All were warned to
be ready in case of attack. Bayonets were fixed and
flankers thrown out. With darkness rapidly coming on,
the flankers, for fear of being cut off, were not more than
thirty yards off the road. Four mounted men of the
advanced guard, consisting of a troop Z.M.R. , under
Capt. D. J. C. Hulley, marched along the road. A couple
on the right and another couple on the left did the flanking,
whilst seven were in the road in immediate rear of the
front four. Behind, with an interval of about fifty yards,
came 70 D.L.I. (with a Maxim gun), N.F.A. gun, an
ambulance, and 22 waggons. A number of N.D.M.R.
were riding on the vehicles. Z.M.R. (35) formed the rear-
guard with two Rexer guns. The Native referred to was
now noticed staring frequently to the right.

Owing to the hkeUhood of attack, the men marched as
compactly as possible. The worst spot was undoubtedly
the long cutting a mile after leaving Bulwer ; nothing,
however, was seen or heard of the enemy at that point.
The httle column next moved slowly across the low ridge
between the end of the cutting and a small zinc store,
known as Macrae's, on a knoll. The small clump of trees
between the road and the store could be seen on the

1 The sun set at 5. 10 p.m.


horizon ahead. The country about this part is rugged,
though the three or four valleys in the vicinity, if steep,
are, just there, small and not deeper than 100 feet. The
road was hard and in good condition. After passing the
store (at a distance of thirty yards), it is practically level
and easy-going the whole way to Thring's Post.

The convoy moved along well, at an average speed of
two and a half miles an hour (the usual pace for oxen on
good roads). As, after leaving the cutting, danger of
attack did not appear so imminent, Capt. Robert Arm-
strong, N.M.R., was sent on by himself to select a suitable
bivouac. The advanced guard now went up the slight
incline to the left of the store. When passing, a black dog
that was following HuUey stood, and, ruffling its hair,
began to growl and bark in the direction of the plantation
on the right. Seeing this, HuUey became suspicious ; the
same instant, noticing a mass of armed Natives springing
up from among the trees ^ (the sound they made being
similar to the rising of a flock of guinea-fowl), he shouted
a warning. The guard swung their horses round and
began to fall back on the main body in rear as the rebels,
some 300 strong, dashed forward from both sides of
the road, 2 crying " Usutu ! Usutu ! " and using their
knobsticks as well as assegais. Armstrong, by this time
some 200 yards ahead, finding himself cut off, galloped
back through the enemy, knocking down two or three,
and using his revolver freely as he did so ; notwithstanding
the heavy fusillade then going on towards him, he suc-
ceeded in reaching the main body on the right without
mishap. Steady and well-directed volleys were poured
into the advancing enemy. He did not assume his
characteristic formation, probably owing to the nature of
the ground, but moved along the road en masse and with
great dash. The distance from the store to the head of
the column was barely eighty yards. The hot and effective
fire, however, including case from the 15-pounder, stopped

1 There was no undergrowth of any kind.

2 On the left of the road, the enemy had been concealed at the head of
a small valley. Vide map and inset.


the advance, and caused the rebels to break to rear and
right of the store.

Two minutes after the attack had failed, reinforcements
having, in the meantime, moved up from the rebels' rear,
another attack came, slightly to the left of where the first
had taken place. This was well met by rifie fire and case,
and resulted in a second and speedy retreat.

There being reason to suppose a third would follow,
Campbell drew the men up in half-moon formation across
the road, the convex side facing the store. The 15-
pounder was placed in the centre of the road, the rear-
guard was brought up, and the N.D.M.R. directed to fire
right and left as necessity arose.

As anticipated, the third attack came, some twenty
minutes after the second. It was from the same quarter,
and was delivered after darkness had set in. It met
with no better luck than the others. During this
attack, one of the three Rexer guns was brought into
action. 1

Two hundred yards beyond the store, a road branched
off to the left. At this point, a second impi, also about
300 strong, had at first lain in waiting, its object evidently
being to allow the convoy to get between both hnpis, when
it would have been attacked front and rear. The plan
failed on account of the foremost body being prematurely
forced to take action.

The rebel forces were composed of men of Matshwili's
and Ntshingumuzi's tribes, under the indunas Dabulum-
bimbi and Mvukazi respectively. Mahlanga also accom-
panied Ntshingumuzi's men as second in command. He
remained in rear whilst urging others to charge.

During the engagement, forty rebels were killed and
others wounded. Tpr. G. Coll, Z.M.R., was seriously
wounded with assegais. He received every attention from
Major Campbell, M.D., CM. (Edin.), but afterwards
succumbed to his injuries at Thring's Post.

The dog which had been the first to detect the enemy,

^ A brief report on this gun, which was first used at Peyana, will be
found on p. 419.


and practically saved the column, was accidentally shot
by its own side when tr3dng to get back.

The column bivouacked for the night where it had been
engaged. Apart from the proximity of the enemy and
the darkness, it was impossible to move, because waggons
and oxen, owmg to Native drivers and voorloopers having
run away, had either capsized or become considerably dis-
organized. Thring's Post was reached at mid-day on the
3rd without further incident.

The smart manner in which these attacks were met and
repelled reflects the greatest credit on Campbell and his
men, who were not only ambushed at dusk by an enemy
far outnumbering them, but were considerably encumbered
by slow transport, which had already come some nineteen
of the twenty-eight miles to be done that day. Even the
15-pounder was being drawn by oxen. Having regard to
the enemy's most determined charges, only remarkable
promptitude and resourcefulness on the part of the officer

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 32 of 52)