James Stuart.

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

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Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 37 of 52)
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them whether he willed it or not. To have a visible leader
and to submit to his direction, that was the height of their
ambition. Only then did they feel themselves to be a
people, possessed to some extent of their former soUdarity.
To sacrifice their Uves for someone is everything, to have
to do so for an absent reality, nothing.

Another lesson is the necessity of pursuing the enemy
the moment he starts hostilities. Quick pursuit is what
every Zulu holds as a primary maxim of warfare. Such
action inspires loyalists with confidence, because affording
them protection at the time they most require it.

The policy of the rebels having been to avoid conflict
whenever the conditions were unfavourable, meant that
the campaign resolved itself into one where the troops had
always to assume the offensive.^ The enemy deliberately
invited being hunted in the forests in which he took refuge.
There was no other alternative but to ' hunt ' him. His
perpetual and masterly evasiveness was resorted to just
because felt to be the most telling and safest tactics to
adopt. He knew that, man for man, he was infinitely
better acquainted with forests, streams, dongas, caves,
hills and valleys than the Europeans, most of whom
had spent the greater part of their fives in towns at
a distance and in sedentary occupations. But, whilst
practising these methods, the motive was invariably to
draw the troops on after him in the hope of small parties
becoming detached when the opportunity was smartly
seized,and theseverest blow possible struck. This being the
game, can it be wondered at that the rebels were severely
punished whenever they were come upon 'i For it must
be remembered that, up to the moment of Mome, nothing
had been further from their minds than to surrender.
Ample opportunities for so doing, notably when the troops
first went to Cetshwayo's grave, were afforded, but the
negotiations fell through because they felt, and even
pubficly stated that they had not had enough fighting.

* Perhaps the principal feature of the rebels' tactics was that the
troops should assume the offensive.


From their point of view, it was in their interest to

This watchful evasiveness, then, was the essence of the
situation at Nkandhla. Hence it sometimes happened
that the troops drove one or other of the bushes in the
belief the enemy was there, whereas, as a matter of fact,
he was not there at all, but at Macala ten miles off or else-
where, having shpped away during the night.

In these circumstances, it was soon reaHzed that, not
2,500, but 10,000 men were required to deal with Nkandhla
alone, although the rebels themselves did not exceed 2,000
in number. In no other way was it possible to put a
cordon round the forests, and, by confining the enemy,
speedily starve him into submission.

Connected with the same tactics was the waylaying of
a force when on the march. This generally took place at
a carefully-selected position, from which there was an
immediate and safe line of retreat. Instances of this
occurred at Mpanza, Bobe, Macrae's store, Peyana, Insuze
and Ponjwana. At all, except Mpanza and others not
here named, the method was to divide the impi into two
bodies, one to attack the front, and the other the rear,
of the advancing column. And the principle was
observed, although the ground rendered the application
thereof extremely difficult. On no occasion did attack
take place in the open, as often happened during the
Zulu War.

The only standing camp attacked was that of Leuchars
at Mpukunyoni. This took place at dawn, there being no
shelter for the troops except their saddles.

At Macrae's store, the attack came just after sunset and
later — the only instance of night attack. When the
offensive is assumed by Zulus, the proper time to do so is
just before dawn, unless the force be a strong one, when
battle would be given in broad daylight.

The rebels moved about to get food and seize cattle
chiefly at night, sometimes going ten or more miles for the
purpose. Those wounded in action, too, were removed
after dark.


A close watch was always kept on each column, especi-
ally by spies posted on hills, where, if out of rifle range,
they did not mind whether they exposed themselves or not.

Occasionally it happened that those who had fought
against the troops, but had been obliged to surrender, took
up arms against their own people. Several of such men
were utihzed as spies, and proved invaluable.

European troops. — Having regard to the number of
troops in the field, the importance of the campaign, and
the wide area covered by the operations, it would seem the
officer in supreme command should have been given the
rank of Brigadier or Major-General . The O.C. Troops
was, of course, a full Colonel, but, on being appointed
over Natal and Zululand, it would, perhaps, have been
more in accord with the general duties he had to
perform, to have conferred on him a rank conspicuously
higher than that of any one else in his command. The
rank, however, seeing the campaign was being conducted
by Colonial troops, could have been conferred only by
the local authorities.

The want of a trained staff was much felt by each

" It is," says Sir Duncan McKenzie,^ " of great import-
ance that an intelhgence department should be formed on
the soundest of bases. ... It is not sufficient that an
intelligence officer should simply be able to speak the
language of the country. He should have all the available
information at his instant disposal and also be able to guide
or conduct his O.C. anywhere. . . . Intelligence officers
should not be attached to any regiment in peacetime, but
in the event of a force being required in any district, the
intelhgence officer from that district should be placed at
the disposal of the column commander." All the columns
were supplied with excellent intelligence. To the fine
work done by Lieut. Hedges and Sergts. Calverley and
Titlestad at Nkandhla must be attributed much of the
success met with in that district.

The two points on which attention was, perhaps, chiefly

1 General Report. Sept. 1906 (not published).


concentrated were (a) methods of dealing with the enemy
when concealed in forests, and (6) advanced guards. That
such matters assumed the importance they did, was due
to the enemy habitually leaving the initiative to be taken
by the troops. The troops never went out to drive forests,
but some catastrophe was possible. The greatest circum-
spection had invariably to be exercised, not so much
because unable to afford the loss of men, as because the
loss would have been absurdly magnified by the enemy to
obtain further recruits.

The principal authority as to dealing with the enemy in
the Nkandhla forests is, of course, Sir Duncan McKenzie.
*' A General Officer Commanding," he says, " at a place
like Nkandhla should have 10,000 men at his disposal.
I, however, derived confidence from the fact that not
above 2,000 rebels were in the bush, consequently greater
risks were taken than would have happened had they
been more numerous. The chief aim as to the drives was
this : I fitted my force to the bush, not the bush to my
force. It was impossible to do the latter, so I did the
former. As soon as the intelligence, which was good,
showed in what part of the forests the enemy was, it was
at once driven.

" The forests could never have been completely driven
at one time, i.e. in one day. Empandhleni and a number
of other places had to be garrisoned, whilst the different
camps had to be protected during the actual operations.
Such calls naturally greatly reduced the force available
for driving.

" I do not see how the driving could have been carried
out more effectively than was done with the men at my
disposal. My tactics, of course, would have been con-
siderably altered had there been, say, 10,000 troops. I
would, in that event, have put the men in a fine as skir-
mishers, with small supports at intervals of every 500 yards,
and larger ones at points that appeared more dangerous.

" So long as there was no reverse or tight comer, I felt
the levies were all right, hence their being sent in with the
troops, as they were to assist in the drive.


" I always made a point of driving downhill as much as
possible, so that when the enemy was come upon, he would
be obliged to charge uphill."

Barker, who was more frequently attacked when
actually on the march than any other column commander,
says of advanced guards : "I would never allow the guard
to be more than 300 yards from the main body as, if
further, I would not have been able to gallop up in time
on its being suddenly attacked.

" I had only one squadron as advanced guard between
Noodsberg camp and Dahpa (wattle plantation). It was
formed of two troops in front in sections of four (in close
touch with each other), with two troops close up on either
side in support. The head of the main column was, at the
same time, marching in the centre, not more than 200
yards away. This order was adopted as I expected to be
attacked. The guard, in this way, were able to at once
deliver a counter attack, instead of falling back on the
main body. Had they been weaker, they would have been
obliged to fall back.

"It is, moreover, necessary to have the guard so
arranged that the main body can be pushed forward to
support whichever side the attack comes from. In Native
warfare, one can never tell what flank will be threatened.

" I fully reaUzed that the whole essence of the position
lay in the advanced guard. Hence, before the action at
Ponjwana, having seen Natives collecting the previous day
along the route to be traversed, I warned the officer in
command to be on the alert. When the attack came,
sudden though it was, his men were ready in a moment to
engage the enemy."

One of the surprises of the campaign, in the opinion of
competent judges, was the prominent part played by
infantry, e.g. D.L.L, N.R.R. and N.R. Because a less
showy arm, infantry has been apt to be underrated in
connection with Native warfare. It is, however, not too
much to say that any such opinions as existed in Natal
have had to be considerably modified on account of the
consistently fine work that was done at Nkandhla, and in


the actions of Bobe, Mome and Izinsimba. Not only was
it found that a well-trained corps could march twenty
or even thirty miles a day, but able to take a share
in the fighting as effective as that of troops conveyed on
horseback to the scene of action. As Native wars of the
future will probably be fought on difficult and out-of-the-
way ground, similar to that chosen in 1906, it would be
weU to bear this fact in mind.

In going through thick bush held by the enemy, as the
N.P. had to do at Mpanza, it would appear advisable for
the advanced guard to dismount and hand horses to Nos.
3, as, in the event of attack, men would then be able to
reply at once, as well as stand together to resist the rush.
Horses are startled by the shouting inevitable on such
occasions, with the result that a man's time is taken up in
trying to keep his seat, thereby becoming practically hors
de combat at a very critical moment.

The following miscellaneous extracts are taken from an
unpublished general report by Sir Duncan McKenzie :

Transport, — " The majority of the transport was ox-
transport ; for military operations, mule- transport is
absolutely necessary. . . . Expense should not be con-
sidered in such an important matter.^ . . . The necessity
of good conductors was apparent." Closer supervision
should be exercised by O.C. units than was done to ensure
that only the regulation weight per man is put on the
waggons. " Pack transport is absolutely necessary in
rough country, and the saddles should be carried on the
waggons, so that they can be used when the country will
not permit of waggons accompanying the troops."

Remounts. — " The loss of horses from hard work,
exposure and want of suitable food is bound to be heavy.
. . . Steps should be taken to enable the remount officer
to know exactly where he can put his finger on suitable
horses when required. . . . The establishment of a proper
remount depot is strongly recommended."

^In his report for 1906, Col. Bru-de-Wold observes: "The recent
operations have shown the absolute necessity for mobile transport, as
rapidity of movement is the secret of success where Natives are con-
cerned; ox-transport is far too slow to meet the requirements."



Boots, clothing, etc. — " These should be issued on repay-
ment at cost price and the articles should be of really good
quahty. The wear and tear on clothing, and more
especially on boots, was very heavy. ... A man without
boots is useless."

Searchlights. — " Their usefulness for defensive purposes
is of the greatest value. . . . They should be so arranged
that with one engine and djniamo, two or more Ughts could
be placed at different positions in the defences."

Maxim Transport. — " Having seen practical results with
the C.M.R., who carried their Maxims on pack mules led
by Cape boys, and the Natal Militia regiment, who carried
theirs on pack horses led by a mounted man, I certainly
recommend that we should follow the C.M.R. in this

Stretcher-hearers. — " These are indispensable when fight-
ing takes place in the bush or rough country. There was
no organized supply until too late." Natives had to be
employed at exorbitant rates.

Native levies. — Their value was largely discounted by
the fact that parts of many tribes had joined the rebels.
" Their services came in useful in clearing up after an
engagement, collecting and driving cattle, etc., and also
using up the enemy's suppKes. They require to be led by
experienced officers who are known to them and who are
also well acquainted with Native habits and customs. For
operations, they need to be stiffened with a good propor-
tion of European troops."

Colonel Leuchars, who had exceptional opportunities of
observing them, is of opinion that " as a fighting force,
they were useless, though those under Sibindi (a Chief
quite above the average) were, as far as I know, keen to
help the Government. The use I expected to make of
them was in skirmishing down broken, bushy valleys, but
my experience goes to show that for this work they were
useless as, although I succeeded, after some trouble, in
extending them, they would always, a little further down
the valley, collect and march along in groups. As scouts
and camp followers, they were useful. In a lager, through


not being armed with rifles, they are only an encumbrance.
Their only use would be to skirmish through rough
country known to be occupied by the enemy, and this, as
pointed out above, they failed to do."

The Rexer guns. — " This arm," says McKenzie, " gave
most satisfactory results. Handiness and portability in
rough coimtry are its chief advantages. It does not afford
a large target for the enemy, as is the case with the Maxim.
No cases of jamming occurred. The number of spare parts
to be carried is few. On more than one occasion, the gun
was caught up by the gunner and used from the shoulder
when, owing to scrub and long grass, the tripod could not
be used. The present equipment for carrjdng the gun is
not satisfactory. . . . Every squadron of mounted men
and company of infantry should have three of these

Branding of loot stock. — " It is imperative that all
captured stock should be at once branded with a distinc-
tive mark. A responsible officer with each column should
be detailed for this purpose."

Miscellaneous. — No epidemic or cases of serious illness
occurred. The organization of the medical department was
so carefully planned and carried out that only four died
from disease out of over 9,000 men in the field.

" Generally speaking, veterinary surgeons had more
animals to look after per man than it was possible to
deal with."

" The establishment of a field bakery and consequent
supply of fresh bread was an excellent innovation."

Sufficient transport was always available, although at
times the demands were very heavy.

The making of roads through all inaccessible parts of
the Colony would appear to be necessary. The want of
these was felt along both sides of the Tugela. A belt of
country, some five miles wide on either side, needs atten-
tion, though that is by no means the only region in Natal
that is difficult of access. Only narrow and inexpensive
roads are required. These, in time of peace, would be of
assistance to the inhabitants in facilitating conveyance of


produce to available markets, and generally developing
the locations.


The lesson to be learned from the poll tax is, of course,
that no taxation should be imposed on Natives without
previously consulting them in some way or another. It
is, however, unnecessary to obtain the views of more than
a few of the leading and most influential advisers. These
would speedily reveal the attitude Ukely to be taken up by
the majority towards any such proposal.

The advisabiUty of securing uniformity when promul-
gating measures closely affecting the Natives is so obvious
as to call for no special comment.

The HkeHhood of some of the Native poHce (Govern-
ment) taking part in the RebelHon was realized at the
outset, consequently, at such places as Krantzkop and
Mapumulo, men connected with the divisions were re-
moved to another part of the Colony, their places being
taken by others. Native police from such stations as
Insuze, Kearsney, Glendale, Umhlali and Stanger rebelled.
Sixteen were recognized, by their finger-prints, among the
rebel prisoners, whilst at least four were killed. About
eighty Durban Borough police are said to have taken up

On the other hand, out of the whole of the Nongqai,
whose members and ex-members numbered some thou-
sands, only one man, who left the force some twenty years
previously, is known to have joined the enemy. Full and
careful inquiry was made in the matter by Chief Com-
missioner Mansel. This highly creditable state of affairs
may be accounted for by the fact that, during the many
years Mansel had control of the force, he never allowed
any one to serve as ' substitute ' for a regular member.
An account of the Nongqai wiU be found in Appendix XL

The part taken by Christian Natives in the Insurrection
was a large and prominent one. The teaching of many
Native preachers, generally belonging to Ethiopian de-


nominations, was of a distinctly seditious character. Here,
for instance, is a type of an address frequently repeated in
1906 in a location within the vicinity of Grey town : " The
end of the age is at hand ! On the black race did God
originally bestow the right of governing. The race, how-
ever, failed to acquire the art. Now is the time drawing
to a close. The right to govern is reverting to its original
possessors. Authority will be conferred on the black race,
and they will now be exalted to a position above the whites.
You shall enjoy complete ascendancy over Europeans, for
the power has at length been restored to you by the
Almighty. Even were actual conflicts to occur between
you and the whites, you will surely put them to flight, for
God is standing by you." The services were usually held
in out-of-the-way places, and always out of hearing of
Europeans or their Native agents. It was found exceed-
ingly difficult to obtain sufficient evidence to prosecute,
even though sedition was known to be constantly preached.
When hostiUties actually broke out, many of these men
determined to practise what they had preached ; they
accordingly broke away from mission stations, notably in
Mapumulo, Ndwedwe and Umsinga divisions, and joined
the rebels.

In July, 1907, it was found that of the Native prisoners
then in Natal gaols, 418 were Christians. Of this number,
204 were ordinary criminals, whilst 214 had been con-
victed of rebellion. 1 Of the latter figure, seven were
preachers. The foregoing totals, which are below the
actual numbers, owing to the difficulty of ascertaining
who were converts, were obtained subsequent to the release
of about 500 rebels, among whom other so-called Christians
would probably have been found.

In addition to the above, several preachers and many
members of different denominations were shot during the
operations. Hunt and Armstrong, it will be remembered,
were murdered by a band of mission Natives.

It is but fair to add that many of the Christian

^ Those convicted of rebellion were about 5*3 per cent, of the tota)
number of rebel prisoners, less the 500 referred to in the text.


Natives who rebelled were not attached to any recog-
nized missionary body at the time they did so.

A number of other matters, which might have been
noticed here, have already been sufficiently dealt with in
preceding chapters. The Native Affairs Commission drew
attention to various reforms in administration, many of
which have already been introduced, such as the appoint-
ment of a Council for Native Affairs and Commissioners,^
limitation of interest on loans, various problems connected
with labour, and compulsory service on pubKc works.

The fact that none of the Magistrates of such districts
as Mahlabatini (H. M. Stainbank, later J. Y. Gibson),
Nongoma (G. W. Armstrong), and Nkandhla (B. Colen-
brander), in Zululand, and Umsinga (A. E. Harrington)
and Mapumulo (T. Maxwell), in Natal, were withdrawn,
but continued to discharge the duties of their office
throughout the RebelHon, tended to influence and re-
assure many European farmers, storekeepers and others,
preventing them from getting into a panic, and, by flying
off to other parts for protection, making matters con-
siderably worse than they were. With the troops often
operating at a distance, there is no doubt considerable
danger was run of any of these magistracies being attacked
and the officials murdered. As very little protection was
immediately available, sometimes even with the Native
pohce disaffected, it would have been comparatively
easy for any band of determined rebels to have brought
about one or more of such results before assistance could
have been rendered.

Much credit is due to Magistrates generally for the
admirable manner in which they retained a hold on the
Natives of their districts throughout the period of unrest.
Occasionally, however, scares among Europeans could not
be prevented. Those at Grey town and Nqutu have
already been noticed ; another occurred at Pietermaritz-

^ The Union Government has abolished both the Council and the
Commissioners, so that Natal is now practically in the same position
in which she was before the Rebellion.


It will already have been gathered that many loyaUsts,
especially those of tribes within the area of disturbance,
stood in an extremely invidious and dangerous position.
Too little consideration is given to the fact that, unless
promptly supported by Government forces, loyahsts are
liable to be murdered or their property looted. When an
outbreak occurs, it is almost as important to support the
well-affected as it is to operate against the insurgents
themselves. The reason is clear. If you do not back up
those on your side when in danger, do not be surprised
if, in your absence, they are coerced into taking up
arms against you, and so add greatly to your difficulties.



As far back as June, 1906, the Prime Minister had
informed the Legislative Assembly that certain bills, pre-
pared by the Native Affairs Department, and of the
greatest importance in connection with Native adminis-
tration, would be laid on the table of the House. At the
same time, the Government was of opinion that the scope
of these . should be extended. It had, accordingly, been
deemed advisable to appoint a Commission to inquire into
the whole subject of Native administration and legislation.
In this proposal the Governor concurred ; indeed, in his
capacity as Supreme Chief, he had already urged the
taking of some such step.

The appointment of the Commission, however, could
not take eJSect until September, primarily on account of

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 37 of 52)