James Stuart.

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

. (page 34 of 52)
Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 34 of 52)
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Reference has already been made to the general plan
of converging on Meseni's valley, and the attempt made
by Barker to carry out his share of that plan.

The instructions to Woolls-Sampson ^ were to proceed
to Mapumulo and, picking up there the N.M.R. and a
detachment of C.M.R. Maxims, to make a night march to
a kopje overlooking the drift (Gaillard's), where the
Mapumulo-Esidumbini road crosses the Umvoti. He was
to arrive at that spot before dawn, and there co-operate
with the columns of Mackay on the left and Barker on
the right.

Mackay ^ was to proceed via Hlonono Mission Station,
close to the scene of Arnott's recent action, towards
Meseni's principal kraal, and there co-operate with Woolls-
Sampson on the right and Leuchars on the left.

Leuchars ^ was to move after dark into Glendale valley,
along the main road from Kearsney. He was then to
bivouack for the night, and move sufficiently early on the
3rd to co-operate with Mackay and Barker.

^ WooUs-Sainpson's, Mackay's and Leuchars' columns were composed
as follows : Woolls-Sanipson^N M.li., 300 (Murray- Smith) ; N.D.M.R.,
200 (Abraham) ; Z.M.R., 100 (James) ; and one squadron R.H. (Cape),
85 (Simmons).

Mackay— ^.C. Right Wing (Barter) ; Left Wing (Brandon), 560 ;
L and Y, 150 (Peakman) ; N.R., 350 (Dick) ; N.F.A., two guns, A
battery (Wilson), two guns, B battery (Acutt), and two guns (pompoms),

Leuchars—VM.'R., 270 (Newmarch) ; B.M.R., 160 (Arnott) ; N.C.,
D squadron, 89 (Montgomery) ; N.F.A., two guns, C battery (Currie).


From all reports that had been received, it appeared
the main force of the rebels was concentrated at Meseni's
Mtandeni kraal, hence the nominal objective of each of
the columns was this kraal. They converged thereon,
roughly speaking, from the four points of the compass.
McKenzie gave the column commanders clearly to under-
stand that the movements of the different columns were
to be of an encircling nature, with the object of hemming
the enemy in, and it was with that object in view that they
were to co-operate with one another as much as possible.

Colonel McKenzie, who was accompanied by the Acting
Commandant, attached himself to Mackay's column.
This force reached Hlonono Mission Station just as day
broke. As the troops were proceeding down a ridge, a
party of rebels was surprised in a thorn valley on the
right. This valley was swept through by the Natal
Carbineers, one squadron being sent to a ridge on
the right of the valley. The main body passed down
the quickly-descending ridges towards Meseni's kraal,
hurriedly searching the country as they went.

On Mackay's column reaching Mtandeni, the kraal was
found completely deserted. Two separate camps of tem-
porary war-huts had been erected within 300 yards of the
kraal at the rear, capable of accommodating 1,500 men.
Many signs of recent occupation were observed, such as
bones of cattle that had been slaughtered, pots, etc. The
kraal had evidently been hurriedly vacated, as numerous
articles, such as dishes, mats, spoons, ornaments, etc., etc.,
were found lying about in the huts. A search was made
for the European said to have been murdered. A bicycle
with satchel attached, containing articles of clothing
evidently belonging to the deceased, was found. Later on^
under a tree, 150 yards from the kraal, the corpse of the
murdered man was also come upon. The body had been
horribly mutilated. The head had been cut off and
removed ; and the whole of the intestines, heart, lungs,
liver, stomach, etc., extracted. The right hand, cut off at
the wrist, was missing, whilst the pad or sole of one of the
feet had also been cut away and removed.


The body was shortly after identified as that of Mr.
Ohver Edward Veal, of the Public Works Department, who
had left Pietermaritzburg in the hope of seeing a friend
attached to Colonel McKenzie's staff. Deceased left
Pietermaritzburg for Greytown by train on the 30th
June, and from thence via Krantzkop to Mapumulo on a
bicycle. At the latter place, he was warned of the danger
of entering Meseni's ward but, having already come
further than he had intended, he decided to go on to
Tongaat and catch the train back to Pietermaritzburg on
the Sunday. He was quite unarmed. He, moreover, not
being a combatant, was in mufti. A party of rebels caught
him half a mile from Gaillard's Drift and triumphantly
conveyed him to Mtandeni. Meseni was informed of what
had happened. He ordered Veal to be conveyed back to
Mapumulo, but the large force there congregated was in
no mood to carry out the order. Macabacaba, the fighting
induna, not only ignored his Chief's orders, but identified
himself with those who clamoured for Veal's being put to
death. The rebels accused the latter of being a spy. Had
he been able to speak Zulu, he might have been able to
clear himself of the charge. As it was, Meseni concluded
he was not a spy ; it was on that account he gave the
order he did. That the Chief's order should have been
ignored shows that he had practically lost control of the
tribe. Instead, however, of actively interfering, he allowed
the rebels to do what they wished. And so this perfectly
innocent young man, actuated by no other motive what-
ever than that of getting back to duty as speedily as
possible, was struck, stabbed, and fearfully mutilated in
the manner already described. The principal motive of
the murder was, no doubt, to enable the local war-doctor
to obtain parts of the body for doctoring the impi and
rendering it so terrible to its opponents as to ensure
victory on a conflict occurring.

There is no truth in the rumour that the sole of de-
ceased's foot was removed whilst he was still alive, and
that he was then compelled to walk. Zulus are un-
doubtedly barbarous in certain respects, but to say that


the above took place is a libel. If proof be wanted, we
have it in the fact that the foot was closely examined on
the body being found, when no trace whatever of dirt
attaching thereto was detected.

The kilUng of this fine young fellow, loved by all who
knew him, only shows what Natives were still capable of
during the Rebellion, and how necessary it was to guard
against members of any regiment becoming detached and
wandering about in the enemy's country.

Another point is that whereas the rebel Chiefs generally
protected civilians as far as they could, such protection
could not be relied on, especially in the case of Meseni who,
though present, was unable or did not care to assert his
authority. In spite of all professions by the ringleaders
that European non-combatants, including women and
children, would not be molested, there was no guarantee
whatever that a time would not arise when indiscriminate
massacres would take place. Thus, the only way of
checking these possible catastrophes was to do as McKenzie
did, viz. so punish the rebels as to show them that
rebellion, even in incipient forms, would be stamped out
with the utmost severity. Had Chiefs been able to
exercise effective control, especially when the passions of
their people were aroused, a corresponding modification
might have been introduced by European officers in deal-
ing with the situation, but with instances as revolting as
the one described, no other course was left than to suppress
the tendencies in the sternest manner.

Meseni's kraal was burnt and Veal's remains buried
close to where they were found.

McKenzie moved to an elevated position about a mile
from Mtandeni, from where he generally directed the

Woolls-Sampson, after leaving Mapumulo at 2 a.m. on
the 2nd, advanced due south towards Wome kopje, over-
looking Gaillard's Drift. Difficulty was experienced, when
compelled to leave the road, through his not having a
proper guide. A party of rebel scouts was surprised just
before dawn — half a dozen of them were shot and two


captured. The night-march was otherwise without inci-
dent. As soon as it got hght, about forty of the enemy
were observed on top of a steep hill, Mpumulwana, about
a mile from Wome. There were other signs that the
enemy was concentrating there — the beginning of ex-
ceedingly broken country, covered with thorn trees.
Woolls-Sampson sent B squadron N.M.R., dismounted,
under Rattray, to dislodge the rebels. After going half-
way up the steep hill in close order with bayonets fixed,
Rattray sent Tpr. Le Mesurier on horseback to draw the
enemy. The squadron followed close in rear. Le Mesurier
rode practical^ up to the enemy, whom he found to be
300 to 400 strong. He then turned and galloped down the
incline. The rebels, armed with shields and assegais, at
once began to charge. As they appeared over the brow,
they were met by the fire of Rattray's men. Instead of
continuing, they drew back to the crest from whence they
had come, and there once more concealed themselves as
best they could.

Woolls-Sampson now sent the N.D.M.R. (under Abra-
ham) at the gallop, with Z.M.R. and R.H., to a hill on
the enem3^'s right flank, which commanded the rear of the
hill occupied by the enemy. N.D.M.R. opened fire from
right rear when the rebels, seeing they might be sur-
rounded, retreated down the slopes in their rear towards
the Umvoti river. As they made off, they were closely
pursued by Rattray. Many were shot in the pursuit,
especially by the Maxims. The remainder of the force
was brought up, when the bush was driven to the

The troops were halted some 300 yards from Mpumul-
wana. ' A ' squadron, N.M.R., was now sent to cover the
right flank, as well as endeavour to bring fire to bear on
the part of the hill occupied by the enemy. In the mean-
time, C squadron went forward to support Rattray.

When the N.D.M.R., after operating on a ridge almost
parallel to that on which the main body was, reached the
base of a conical hill, still nearer Wome, on their left
front, a separate and considerable body of Natives


charged on to them from the top. The attack was imme-
diately met and the rebels, having no opportunity to form
up, hid themselves, after suffering severe loss, in scrub,
dongas, etc. Whilst crossing some mealie-fields which
appeared to be clear of rebels, Abraham and Lieut. H. G.
James, Z.M.R., who were riding together with a few men,
were suddenly attacked by rebels, up till then carefully
concealed. Both officers used their revolvers with effect
at close quarters.

In the operations about Mpumulwana and Wome, 102
of the enemy were killed.

It so happened that many of the rebels who escaped
from Woolls-Sampson came in the direction of Mackay's
column, when, later in the morning, very heavy losses
were inflicted on them by the Carbineers in the scrub and
thorns on both sides of the river — especially on the left

Woolls-Sampson moved the whole of his force to the
river, but although at once getting in touch with Mackay,
he failed to do so with Barker, whose delay was, of course,
accounted for by his having been engaged with other
impis at Ponjwana, as already related.

Now, as to Leuchars. At daybreak, after entering
Glendale valley, the column worked up the river. At a
place where the Umvoti flows close to a precipitous
and thickly-wooded slope, the road was found well barri-
caded with trees. The removal of the obstruction delayed
the advance for about fifteen minutes. On the edge of
some cane-fields, a few Natives were seen running into a
densely- wooded valley on the right. Two shells were
fired at them. Leuchars ascertained from Indians living
there that the rebels were in the habit of secreting them-
selves in the cane, and that they were there then. It,
therefore, became necessary to proceed with caution and
to take the column off the road and through a field of
young cane. Further delay arose through an ambulance
waggon capsizing.

On the mill being reached, it was found that a store
had been burnt and a house looted.


Leuchars' principal difficulties, however, arose after the
road came to an end beyond the mill, when the guns and
ambulance were obliged to proceed along trackless country,
for the most part covered with thorn bush.

It was 2.30 p.m. when he sighted Mackay's column on
a knoll near Umvoti river.

After his action at Ponjwana, Barker resumed his march
at 9 a.m., and arrived at Gaillard's store, Umvoti Drift,
shortly before noon. His progress through the intervening
thorn country was retarded somewhat owing to being
occasionally threatened by the enemy, though without
any serious attempt to come to close quarters. After
conferring with McKenzie, he moved back to Esidumbini,
reaching his camp at 7.30 p.m. after an uneventful march.

In the afternoon, Mackay's, Woolls-Sampson's and
Leuchars' columns proceeded to high ground on the road,
about 1,000 yards from Gaillard's Drift (left side), and
close to the spot where, two days before. Veal had been
caught. Here the combined forces bivouacked for the

The total number of rebels killed by the columns during
the day was 444, and about 400 cattle were captured.

On the following day (4th July), McKenzie decided to
remain in Umvoti valley and to continue the sweeping
operations generally in a northerly direction. Leuchars
operated on the left, Mackay in the centre and WooUs-
Sampson on Mackay's right. Each column traversed
exceedingly rugged country during the day, but practically
none of the enemy were met with in any force. All the
rebels had apparently dispersed. Mackay proceeded via
Misi hill into Swaimana's ward where, owing to not having
vacated their kraals as instructed to do, two brothers
of Swaimana — loyalists — were unfortunately shot in the
belief that they were rebels.

Nineteen rebels were killed and a large quantity of
stock captured during the day.

The columns — searching the country as they went —
returned to Thring's Post on the 5th.

Attached to the Natal Carbineers was Lance-Corporal


V. J. W. Christopher. When in the neighbourhood of
Hlonono Mission Station, he went to a kraal to make
investigations. As he entered the place, a rebel, who had
armed and concealed himself behind a fence, immediately
pounced upon and stabbed him and his horse to death.
The body was removed and buried at Ladysmith.

Although the combined operations in Umvoti valley,
on account of Barker having been opposed at Ponjwana
and Leuchars having to bring his guns and ambulance
along rough and roadless country, did not achieve
McKenzie's principal object, viz. establishing a cordon
round Meseni's entire force, they were nevertheless suc-
cessful in stamping out rebellion in that part. As late as
the evening of the 2nd, all reports had gone to show that
some 6,000 to 7,000 Natives were under arms in Umvoti
valley. But, as the result of the vigorous operations of
the 3rd, 4th and 5th, the rebel forces, defeated in action
at two points, had entirely vanished. And, with their
kraals destroyed and stock captured, no opportunity was
allowed them to reorganize with any prospect of success.

The terrain here, though difficult to operate in, differed
greatly from that at Nkandhla in having no strongholds
of any importance. Had the valley been dealt with piece-
meal, it is more than probable hostilities would have been
kept up longer than they were, and been accompanied
with far greater loss of life to the rebels than actually
took place. Although the punishment was not as severe
as it might have been, it was heavy enough to show
Natives the futility of taking up arms against organized
European troops. The swoop on Meseni's valley from
four widely-separated points was a fine conception, and,
although not as effective as it might have been, and was
intended by McKenzie to be, the rebels saw enough to
reaHze that an octopus had come down upon them from
the surrounding heights, against whose powerful and far-
reaching tentacles their own efforts were puny and feeble
in the extreme. The reader may remember that a Zulu
dreads nothing so much as being surrounded or hemmed
in. The very effort to do this on the 3rd no doubt caused


many of them to be afflicted with nightmare, for that was
the day on which, as they say, " every hill was covered
with European troops, which, moving closer and closer,
threatened and meted out destruction on every side."

On intelligence being brought in at 2 p.m. on the 6th
that Meseni was in hiding a short distance off, three
squadrons hurriedly left Thring's Post, only, however, to
find, after proceeding a couple of miles, that the place
was at least nine miles from camp, and required a much
larger force to deal with. The troops accordingly returned
to camp. Orders were issued the same night that all
mounted troops of Leuchars', Woolls-Sampson's and
Mackay's columns were to move out at 3.30 a.m. on
the 7th in the direction of Glendale. Fortunately there
was a bright moon.

Woolls-Sampson's men took the right. After making
a long detour, they, approaching on the west, reached the
appointed rendezvous, Mzonono gorge, shortly after day-
break, and got into touch with Mackay, who had moved
to the east side from the north. Leuchars was to have
closed the bottom end from the south-east, but he arrived
late, owing to having been conducted along the wrong
road. McKenzie, who was with Mackay's column, caused
the bush in the gorge to be driven, but without result.
Woolls-Sampson's and Mackay's men subsequently went
to the top of hills overlooking the Kearsney sugar planta-
tions and searched some caves near there. Leuchars, in
the meantime, drove a valley on the east. During the
day, thirteen prisoners were taken and six rebels killed.
Tpr. Reed, N.C., accidentally shot himself through one of
his lungs, but the injury luckily did not prove fatal.

The troops returned the same afternoon to Thring's
Post, without having been able to ascertain the Chief's
whereabouts. 1

^ At 3 a.m. on the 15th, a fire suddenly broke out at the field hospital,
Thring's Post, owing to a hurricane blowing about fragments from
a burning rubbisli heap. The medical officer (Dr. R. Milner Smyth)
assisted jjy others, succeeded with considerable difficulty, in rescuing
the patients (one of thenn, the man referred to in the text) frona their
burning tents.


With the object of dispersing a body of rebels, said to
be between Spitzkop and Riet valley, Barker was in-
structed to move his column towards the upper portion
of Umhlali river. A company N.R., was, at the same
time, detached from Royston's column (which had just
reached Dundee), and ordered to proceed by rail to join




It was clear from the outset that the impis that attacked
the convoy at Macrae's on the 2nd July had come from
Matshwili, Ntshingumuzi and Ngobizembe's tribes. Of
these, the leadmg spirit was undoubtedly Matshwili ^ of
the Mtetwa tribe. Intelhgence went to show that a force
of some eight companies of the rebels, i.e. between 400 to
600 men, was concealed in his ward in deep ravines at
Izinsimba, a tributary of the Tugela. These rebels,
although they had failed to annihilate Campbell, were
awaiting favourable developments in other parts to amal-
gamate, or effectively co-operate, with the impis of
Meseni, Ndhlovu and others. Only by striking decisively
was it possible for McKenzie to break down the wide-
spread disaffection in Mapumulo, Lower Tugela and
Ndwedwe divisions, all thickly inhabited by uncivilized

As soon as the principal rebel force had been disposed
of, attention was turned to that of Matshwili. McKenzie
decided to surround this impi in the same way that had
been attempted in Umvoti valley. The situation de-
manded celerity of action. With such crafty foes, action

^ Grandson of the famous Dingiswayo, initiator of the modern Zulu
military system.

When questioned by Natives as to who had given him orders to start
hostilities in a country belonging to the Government, Matshwili is said
to have replied : " If you don't keep quiet, I'll shoot you."


within twenty-four hours or so might meet with success,
when a couple of days would result in absolute failure.
The problem, however, was not of such vast dimensions
as that in Umvoti valley, but, in view of the rugged
country in which Matshwili's people hved, quickly descend-
ing as it does into a far more difficult and thickly-wooded
district in the vicinity of the Tugela, it was necessary to
cut off retreat thereto before the enemy had conceived the
possibility of such movement taking place. Owing to the
nature of the country, offering innumerable facilities for
escaping, McKenzie was especially careful in the prepara-
tion of his plans.

The columns employed were those of Mackay, Woolls-
Sampson and Leuchars. They were composed as follows :

Mackay' s— Right and Left Wings, N.C. ; 2 guns, N.F.A.
(Wilson). 1

Woolls- Sampson's — 4 squadrons, N.M.R. (Murray-
Smith) ; 2 squadrons, N.D.M.R. (Abraham) ; 1 squadron,
Z.M.R. (Vanderplank) ; 2 guns, N.F.A. (Acutt) ; detach-
ments of D.L.I, and N.R.

Leuchars' — 3 squadrons, U.M.R. (Newmarch) ; 2 squad-
rons, B.M.R. (Arnott) ; 1 squadron, N.C. (Montgomery) ;
L. and Y. (Peakman) ; 2 guns, N.F.A. (Currie).

Mansel, as will presently be seen, also co-operated on
the north-east.

McKenzie, with Ma^ckay's column, left Thring's Post at
3 a.m. on the 8th, and advanced towards Izinsimba from
the west. With a good moon, the first part of the march
was comparatively easy. The ground, moreover, was
fairly level. Matshwili's principal kraal was approached
by two squadrons N.C. (dismounted), led by McKenzie,
and then smartly, though quietl}^ surrounded by men with
fixed bayonets before dawn, in the hope of arresting the
Chief. The place, however, was found to be deserted.
Mackay was directed at once to occupy a small, narrow
ridge immediately overlooking Izinsimba (right bank),
on which was a small mission station, and, in addition, to
throw forward along the same ridge a strong force to hold

1 Two companies N.R. (F and H) escorted the guns part of the way.


ground on the immediate west of WoolJs-Sampson's

By this time, WooUs-Sampson had already taken up
the position assigned him further down the Izinsimba. He
had left Thring's Post at 2.30 a.m. and proceeded by road
to Macrae's store, where he turned off sharp to the left
and descended a long ridge to take up a position on the
Izinsimba, about a mile and a half below Matshwili's
principal kraals. The N.M.R. took the advance. Rattray
was sent with squadron B to get astride of the stream,
about fifty yards below where a tributary (which springs
immediately east of Macrae's store) enters it. Ground was
accordingly held to the extent of about fifty yards on
either side. Murray-Smith, with the rest of N.M.R. ,
remained for the time being at the base of the ridge the
troops had come down, covering the entrance to Indaka
spruit. The remainder of the troops supported some 200
yards in rear. All these positions were reached before

Leuchars, who had marched at 3 a.m. to link up and
co-operate with Woolls-Sampson on the opposite or left
side of the Izinsimba, got generally into position by day-

The converging on the valley by the three columns
from different directions was accomplished in a highly
creditable, and, indeed, remarkably simultaneous and
accurate manner, owing chiefly to the excellence of the
plan and the orders issued for carrying it into execution.

About 120 yards to the right front of Rattray's position,
and in the same valley, was a square Native hut, from
which nearly a dozen Natives soon rushed up the stream
into thick bush. These, however, were not fired at, owing
to the advisability of reserving the ammunition for the
main body, which, it was supposed, would attempt to
force its way through later. Presently some thirty of the
enemy, probably alarmed by the noise of the approaching
artillery, tried to break through the cordon, but were
driven back with loss.

Finding that touch had been satisfactorily established


by Mackay with WooUs-Sampson on the right flank, and
Leuchars on the left, McKenzie caused a small forest on
Leuchars' side of the stream, and under high ground

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 34 of 52)