James Stuart.

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

. (page 33 of 52)
Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 33 of 52)
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in command turned a threatened calamity into a decisive

But other and even more important developments were
occurring almost simultaneously not many miles away. To
these we must now hasten to draw the reader's attention.

The last we saw of Barker was his departure from
Krantzkop to take up a position at Esidumbini. His force
then consisted of four squadrons T.M.R. His orders were
to reach Esidumbini as soon as possible and be on high
ground overlooking Umvoti Drift at Gaillard's store by
daybreak, 3rd July, to co-operate Avith three other columns
from Mapumulo, Thring's Post and Glendale in a general
converging movement on Meseni's ward, where, it was
known, the rebels had assembled in great force.

A delay occurred at Dalton from 9 a.m. (30th) until
2 p.m., owing to Barker having to wait for suppHes. These
had to come from Pietermaritzburg and Greytown by
rail. He resolved to push forward at 2 p.m., with thirteen
waggons, though still somewhat short of supplies. During
the same afternoon, he was joined by the guns that had
been sent after him.


About 8 p.m., a message came from Chief Leader H.
Ehlers, in command of the New Hanover Reserves (70),
to say he was in lager at Little Noodsberg Hall, and that
intelligence had come in to the effect that he was to be
attacked at daybreak on the 1st July by an impi that had
been seen during the afternoon on the Great Noodsberg.^
Barker immediately decided to march to the Hall with
three squadrons (each about 100 strong), leaving the
fourth as escort to the guns and transport. The Hall was
reached at midnight. Everything there was quiet. When
daylight appeared, the expected attack was not made.
Barker then left for the Great Noodsberg, where he waited
till 11 a.m. for the rest of the column to come up. That
night the column bivouacked on the Great Noodsberg.
A number of scouts had been noticed during the day, all
of whom retired suspiciously to the front of the column
as it advanced.

By 7 a.m. on the 2nd (Monday), having been joined by
the New Hanover Reserves on the preceding afternoon,
the column was again on the move.^ After traveUing
about a mile and a half, the advanced guard (B squadron,
T.M.R.), came upon an impi some 300 strong, concealed
on both sides of the road in a wattle plantation (site of the
Newspaper Mission Station), which had been thinned out,
but had a lot of scrub about it. Steps were now taken to

^ The New Hanover Reserves assembled at Noodsberg Hall, by-
direction of the Acting Commandant, on the 27th June. On the
28th, a patrol visited the Swedish mission station (Rev. J. F. Ljung-
quist), under the Great Noodsberg, when a small body of the enemy was
seen on the top of the mountains. Mdungazwe reported that the rebels
were doing their best to incite people of his and other tribes to rise.
As word had come in that Butler's store had been looted at Insuze, the
whole of the Reserves, including Messrs. W. Dickens, M. Jackson, J. H.
Culverwell and H. Jacobson, left to visit the place, but, on discovering a
party of the enemy driving some thirty cattle near the Newspaper
Mission Station, two miles from Butler's, the project was abandoned
after captiiring the cattle. The rebels now assembled in larger numbers
at Newspaper, and nimours of an intended attack on the Hall were
freely circulated. It was at this stage that Ehlers got into touch with
Barker at Dalton.

2 On moving from the Hall to rejoin his column, Barker left the
Reserves where they were, but when he received warning a few hours
later of a possibility of his being attacked by strong bodies of the enemy,
he ordered them to attach themselves to his colunm.


drive the place, with the result that many armed Natives,
particularly near their small church, where it had evi-
dently been intended to He in ambush for the troops, were
discovered and shot. Scarcely any other portion of the
column, except the advanced guard, came into action.
As the enemy retreated, he was pursued by the advanced
guard and two troops of A squadron, T.M.R. The opera-
tions lasted about twenty minutes. After the fighting
was over, the plantation was again, but more thoroughly,
driven. About sixty rebels were killed.

At 9.30 a.m., the column moved along easy slopes
towards Insuze river, the advanced guard being increased
to two squadrons. The strength of the column now was
four squadrons, T.M.R. (400) ; two Maxims and one Colt
gun (25) ; two guns, 15-pounders, N.F.A. (25) ; and the
Reserves (70). There were no Native levies.^ Many
Natives were observed on high ground to the right and
left fronts.

After passing Butler's store, about a thousand yards
from Insuze Drift, Barker, seeing the place was a suitable
one for watering, decided to halt. The column accordingly
began to pull out on to level ground immediately across
and to the right of the drift. The guard, under Lieut.
H. S. Liddle, went forward to estabhsh itself on a long
grassy ridge, parallel with the river at that part. This
ridge rises to a height of 60 ft. above the drift and increases
gradually to 80, 100 and 150, as it extends further to left
and right fronts. On the immediate right of the small
neck through which the road passes over the ridge, was
a police station, consisting of two or three small buildings.
Three or four Native kraals were also to be seen on the
ridge to the left of the road. With the object of protecting
the column against surprise, the guard occupied ground
(C), some thirty yards to the right of the station. A troop
was sent to kopje F, whilst a section (four men), under
Sergt.-Major S. L. Neville, was sent to B, i.e. within fifteen

^ There was no opportunity for Barker to obtain levies from local
tribes until the 7th. He was then joined by men of those of Mdungazwe
and Mahlube, who gave much assistance in seizing cattle and locating


or twenty yards of the kraal — round which grew a thick,
bushy fence. 1 Here three of the men dismounted and
were just handing over their horses, with the object of
searching that and the other kraals, before occupying a
kopje near by, when an impi, some 500 strong, sprang
from behind the nearest kraal and hedge, and charged
round both sides of the kraal at the men, shouting the
usual war-cry as they did so. The latter, having no time
to fire, mounted and retired to the guard, wheeUng slightly
to the right, to avoid masking the fire. The enemy con-
tinued their charge. The troops at the drift, as well as
the guard, opened a hot fire as they ran. In the meantime,
another impi, as strong as the first, began to appear from
a bush some forty yards to the guard's right rear. The
bush, shomng but slightly on top, extended down a steep
inchne on the far side of the ridge. At this moment,
Barker, who was watering his horse when the charge
began, galloped to the troops at the police station. Whilst
six men were told off to check this latter charge, others
were engaged with the impi rushing down from the kraal.
It was all a matter of seconds. The guard stood their
ground and opened smartly with magazine fire. Notwith-
standing the cross-fire, flank and front, that was being
poured into them by the men near the drift, some of whom
had fined the left bank below the drift, whilst others were
on higher ground in rear, the impi succeeded in getting
within a very few yards of the guard. The leader did not
fall until within six. On his falling, the remainder broke
and ran down the slopes on the far side, looking from the
drift. When the action was at its height. Barker, whose
horse was wounded mth an assegai, instinctively per-
ceived that the critical point was the one to which he had
just ridden. He at once sent for reinforcements. Such
men as were immediately available dashed up. Neither
of the two guns at the drift came into action. Had case
been promptly fired at those who came from the kraal,

1 The owner of this kraal, Kati, was a member of the Natal Police.
Kati did not fight at Insuze, but did so at Ponjwana (Sikota's kraal),
where he was killed.


it must have proved very destructive at a range of 400
yards. A few seconds later, however, it became impossible
to open, owing to the guns being masked by the reinforce-
ments that sprang forward from the drift to the ridge.

A and B squadrons, as well as two troops of D, were
sent in pursuit of the now flying enemy. The two 15-
pounders were placed at the kraal from which one of the
impis had been in hiding, whilst the Maxims and Colt gun
took up positions on the ridge between the police station
and the bush.

The rebels retired in a northerly direction, down Insuze
valley. They were hotly pursued by the troops, who rode
along the ridges. The field guns fired about twenty rounds
with great effect at ranges varying from 600 to 1,800 yards,
but were eventually forced to cease fire, on account of the
pursuing squadrons too closely approaching the enemy.
The machine guns, too, did excellent work.

A third impi, also about 500 strong, which up till then
had taken no part whatever in the engagement, was
accidentally come upon by A squadron (Lieut. R. V.
Saner). 1 The attack made by about fifty of this impi was
promptly and effectively repelled, whereupon the rebels
joined the others in a general retreat.

At a distance of three or four miles from the scene of
action, about thirty fugitives got into a narrow valley
(through which the pursuing A squadron had to pass),
evidently to lie in ambush. They were, however, seen,
and dispersed with loss. Still another impi was observed
by the same squadron about a mile to the left, composed
apparently of men who had not been engaged at all. They
did not, however, come into action.

Two troops of C^squadron were ordered to turn out the
rebels who were hiding in the long grass and rushes in a
valley between the gun position, near the police station,
and the pursuing squadrons.

^ This ijnpi was found crouching, their faces towards the drift, in a
sHght grassj'- depression at D, about 150 yards in rear of the kraal from
which the first attack had come. Although concealed from the ti-oops
at the drift or police station, it became easily visible, owing to there
being no cover, as soon as men began to move towards its right rear.



By 11 a.m., the squadrons, having by that time pursued
the enemy for four or five miles, were recalled, as a number
of rebels had shown themselves on both flanks near the
police station. The troops reassembled by about 1.30
p.m., when they off-saddled for an hour on different parts
of the ridge.

The casualties were Tpr. Robert Knight, D squadron,
T.M.R., killed ; Tprs. Simcox and Tobin, A squadron,
T.M.R., wounded. The enemy's losses amounted to about

A local Native Chief, Mahlube, who was with Barker's
column when the foregoing action was fought, although
many of his tribe had joined the rebels, expressed the
following opinion : " My belief is that the enemy
intended disputing the drift with the troops as they were
watering their horses. The T.M.R. saved themselves by
their courageous stand. Had they betrayed the slightest
weakness, they would have fared badly, for I could see the
enemy were reckless and did not care what happened."

The march to Esidumbini was resumed at a quarter to
three. A camp was formed at that place on its being
reached two hours later. The night passed without inci-

The demeanour of the local and apparently neutral
Natives was unsatisfactory. They were very reticent and
pretended to know nothing whatever of the intentions of
the enemy. They professed to be ignorant of the impis
that had attacked but a few miles away at Insuze. One
of the Chiefs, Njubanjuba, Hving on high ground, must
have seen the fight and could have given valuable informa-
tion had he chosen. He maintained a sullen and insolent
attitude all the time the column was in the district. It
was in view of these facts that Barker decided not to
leave camp until after daybreak, a decision which, as it
happened, was one McKenzie had also come to, in conse-
quence of information obtained by him on the night of the
2nd that the rebels proposed to attack Barker at dawn on
the 3rd.

When the column started (7 a.m.), one squadron, T.M.R. ,

Del -Aug Hommar 1906


A = Firtt attaekinr) impi J = Sutler's store

B = Pickets K - Position of I'l-pdrs. dwitia enemy's
C = Two troojis, T. M. R. retreat. Maxims and Colt ;

D = Impi ; out of sight at drift were then hetipeen G and L

E = Where part of eneimj gathered —^ = Direction of enemy's retreat

tohen about to retieat ^^ = Enemy

F = Bill to which pickets were sent ihi = Waggon

G = Police Station =.^-. = Swamp, leitk long groM and
K = Six men posted litre to cheek ^^ - -i-

impi in bush Jo^ = Eraal

George Philip &S

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 33 of 52)