James Stuart.

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

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training, inspection or otherwise, in a condition of readi-
ness, with the object, on the outbreak of hostiHties, of
realizing, in the shortest possible time, the general purpose
in the minds of those in authority. Connected with such
organization is the ascertainment by the responsible
officer of the resources of his command in regard to pro-
visions, labourers, horses, the means of transporting troops
and stores, and the obtaining of accurate knowledge of all
the strategic features of the country, of fortified places,
and the means of defence, the erection of lagers, making
of roads and means of communication, and of every
particular which may increase his power of acting with
advantage against an enemy.^ But it is one thing to enact
a law and frame accompanying regulations, quite another
to see that the various provisions are complied with by
the three arms and administrative services in such way
as will conduce to efficiency and the smooth working of
every part when the force is called upon to take the field.

General peace organization, of course, in the way of
holding annual camps of exercise, rifle meetings, sending
of patrols from time to time through Native locations,
arranging for the conveyance of camp equipment, saddlery,
etc., by railway or by ox and mule waggon, purchase and
hire of remounts, registration and insurance of horses,
etc., continued just as they had done for years prior to
the passing of the MiHtia Act, except that improvements
on the efforts of preceding years were continually being

^Regulations, No. 110.


Having regard to the great importance of the new Act,
it is proposed to allude briefly to the genesis thereof, to
some of its principal features, and to the way in which it
was administered. Unless the fundamental provisions
are grasped at the outset, it is not unlikely that
indistinct impressions will arise in the mind of the
reader, with the result that the achievements of the
Colony during an important crisis, full of meaning as
they are and of lessons for the future, will be insufficiently

In 1902, a motion, introduced into ParHament by Mr.
(now Sir) Thomas Watt, K.C.M.G., member for Newcastle,
in favour of universal compulsory service, was carried
unanimously. A bill was next drafted and formally
introduced by the Prime Minister, Sir Albert Hime,
K.C.M.G., but was withdrawn. This was followed by the
appointment of a Commission in November, 1902, under
the chairmanship of Mr. Ernest L. Acutt, C.M.G., " to
consider and report upon the general measures proper
to be taken for the defence of the Colony and to advise as
to the most suitable mode of constituting a defence force
according to the general object of the bill (No. 36), which
was introduced into Parliament at its last ordinary

This Commission reported in favour of compulsory
mihtary service, drafted another bill and recommended
the enactment thereof. The recommendations were sup-
ported by the then Commandant of Volunteers (Colonel
Leader, whose services had been specially lent to Natal
by the Imperial Government). This officer was appointed
to take command of the troops during the period of their
transition from a volunteer to a mihtia force, or otherwise
to institute such other radical changes as might appear

The bill was passed into law with but little opposition
towards the end of 1903.^ The labour of initiating,
drafting and supporting in Parliament this statesmanHke
measure was undertaken chiefly by Sir Thomas Watt.

^ The Act did not, however, come into force until March, 1904.


Among its principal features were the following :

" That the Militia, with the Governor as Commander-
in-Chief, and a Commandant of Militia, with the rank of
Colonel, as responsible for the administration of all
MiHtia and Defence matters, should consist of all the male
inhabitants of European descent in the Colony, from the
age of 18 to the age of 50 years inclusively . . . not being
aliens." Certain exemptions were allowed.

The Force was divided into four classes :

" (a) Active Militia, consisting of all men who may
volunteer and who may be accepted for service in this
class, and all other men who may be balloted for service.

" (b) Militia First Reserve, consisting of all unmarried
men from 18 to 30 years of age inclusive, who are not in
the Active Militia.

" (c) Militia Second Reserve, consisting of all married
men between 18 and 30 years of age inclusive, and all men
from 31 to 40 years of age inclusive, who are not in the
Active MiHtia.

" (d) Militia Third Reserve, consisting of all men from
41 to 50 years of age inclusive, who are not in the Active
Militia. . . ."

The strength of the Active Militia was to be determined
from time to time, by the Governor-in-Council, but, in
time of peace, might not exceed 4,000 men.

Whenever called out for active service, it became
competent for the Govemor-in-Council to place the
Militia " under the orders of the Commander of His
Majesty's Regular Forces in the Colony, provided such
officer shall not be below the substantive rank of Major-
General in the Army." ^

In the event of the Active Militia being mobiHzed for
military service, the Commandant was required to adver-
tise in the Government Gazette and the press for volun-
teers, and " should enough men have not volunteered and
been accepted in any district to complete the quota
required for that district," within the time specified,
" the men enrolled in the Militia First Reserve shaU be

1 Act No. 30, 1905, sec. 1 substituted "Colonel" for "Major-General."


balloted for " and " any man balloted for . . . shall be
attached to such corps in his military district as the
District Commandant may notify."

The period of service in time of peace was not less than
three years, irrespective of age at time of enrolment.

The MiUtia Reserves were liable to be called out by the
Governor-in-Council for active service in time of " war,
invasion or insurrection, or danger of any of them."
Their officers (designated Chief Leaders and Sub-Leaders)
were appointed " at the instance of the Commandant of
Militia in pursuance of a vote passed by a majority of the
members of such Militia Reserves," in accordance with
the regulations.

In so far as the Native, Indian or coloured male popula-
tion (outnumbering the European by about 10 to 1) was
concerned, the Act empowered the Governor to call out
any portion thereof, being British subjects, for military
training or service in time of peace, or for active service
in time of war, and to form the same into contingents for
employment as scouts, drivers, labourers, stretcher-
bearers, etc., under officers subject to the Commandant
of Mihtia.

An amending Act, passed in 1906, enabled the Com-
mandant to call out the Reserves for training, and so
introduce some degree of organization among them,
impossible under the main Act.

Although, during 1906, the entire European population
was under 100,000, it was found that 5,000 men (all
volunteers) were at the disposal of the State as Active
Militia, with about 15,000 Reserves, divided into the
three classes referred to.

A defect in the principal Act was the concession to
Reserves of the privilege of electing their own officers
(Chief Leaders and Sub-Leaders), as the selections, in many
cases, were not determined by the military knowledge,
military service, firmness of character and so forth of
the candidate, but simply by the degree of wealth
possessed, or popularity enjoyed, by him in the district.
When the Reserves of certain parts were called out for


active service, the seriousness of this mistake speedily
manifested itself, with the result that the best efforts of
which some of the corps were capable were not put forth.
Having regard to the numerical strength of the Reserves,
it was of the greatest importance that only efficient
officers should have been selected.

But, given the power of exacting compulsory service
and the availabihty of maUriel, there was wanting another
and most important factor, namely, something which
could so co-ordinate and systematize the heterogeneous
elements as to weld them into that for which they were
intended, namely, an engine of war, endowed with the power
of life, movement and destruction. There was wanted,
in short, an organizer. It was one thing for the legis-
lature to provide the law, the money, the men, the horses,
the equipment, ordnance and transport, but he that was
to transform these masses of incongruous material into
the desired entity could only be bom, not made.

Without the active sympathy of a Government, an
organizer can accompHsh but Httle. To prepare for war
is a task which, in order that it may be properly fulfilled,
exacts tribute in numberless directions. Its dimensions
are of universal scope and variety, and, unless the State
is prepared to meet the reasonable demand of its agent,
his efforts are foredoomed to failure. As the goal is to
transform the material at hand into a Hving thing, it
devolves on a Government to see that means are forth-
coming or the efforts of the artificer become lacking both
in efficiency and usefulness. This lesson the Government
of Natal had learnt far better than did Canning and his
Council at the time of the Indian Mutiny. Instead of
refusing offers of assistance from local volunteers, every
expedient was adopted by Natal to encourage volunteer-
ing ; instead of an unsympathetic ruler, the Colony found
in the Governor, Sir Henry McCallum, an ideal helmsman,
who, supported by a strong and capable Ministry ^ and a

1 The members of the Cabinet were : C. J. Smythe, Prime Minister and
Colonial Secretary ; J. G. Maydon, Railways and Harbours ; T. Hyslop,
Treasurer ; T, Watt, Justice (including Defence) and Education ; H. D.
Winter, Native Affairs and Public Works ; and W. F, Clayton, Agriculture.


far-seeing Commandant, strained every nerve to suppress
the Insurrection in a swift and vigorous manner, well
knowing that clemency and indecision would help only
to aggravate the situation and imperil the State.

On the MiHtia Act becoming law in 1904, the Govern-
ment appointed its Commandant of Volunteers, Col.
H. P. Leader, as the first Commandant of Mihtia. He,
thereupon, temporarily assumed the rank of Brigadier
General. A District Commandant was also appointed to
each of the three mihtary districts into which the Colony
was then divided.

Assisted by these officers, his staff and the various
commanding officers of corps, the Commandant took
early steps to estabhsh the system envisaged by the Act.

It will be remembered that May 31st, 1902, saw the
conclusion of hostihties between England and the South
African Republics. In that great conflict. Natal had
thrown all her regular volunteer forces, numbering only
about 2000 men, into the field.^ Such forces, distinctly
weU-organized, were maintained at a high state of effi-
ciency as long as the war lasted.

There can be no question but that the exacting discipline
undergone by the troops during the Boer War prepared
them and the rest of the Colony for the compulsory service
imposed by the 1903 Act. But for the serious risks and
trials of that war, even though commonly said to have
" killed volunteering " in Natal, it is highly probable
greater objection would have been offered than was done
when the MiHtia bill was debated in ParKament. The
War was, indeed, a blessing in disguise for Natal. It
taught her manhood what defensive warfare was, as well
as the necessity of establishing an adequate and constantly
efficient force. In these circumstances. Leader found his
task much easier than it would have been under ordinary
conditions. His commanding and other officers were all

^ Up to June, 1900, however, the approximate number of officers and
men raised in Natal (inclusive of local Volunteer corps) was 9,500. Of
those who did not belong to local corps, many, besides Natalians, were
men from England, Transvaal, Orange Free State, etc., temporarily-
resident within the Colony.


ready and eager to co-operate. If he was crippled for
the want of funds, owing to the Colony passing through a
time of severe financial depression, an excellent spirit
prevailed, men being anxious to enrol in the various corps
and help forward the realization of the general purposes
of the Act.

Among the District Commandants was Lieut.-Col. (now
Colonel), H. T. Bru-de-Wold, D.S.O., C.M.G., V.D., J.P.i
This officer, whilst discharging the ordinary duties of
his post, observed, not long after peace had been concluded
with the Boers, what, no doubt, a number of other colo-
nists also did, namely, that there was a certain amount of
restlessness and disregard of authority among the younger
sections of the Natives of his district which, on its south-
western side, bordered on Pondoland. He made a point
of visiting European homesteads in various parts, where
he found his observations frequently corroborated, whilst
his attention was drawn to other suspicious indications.
He took steps to gather, from all available sources, informa-
tion regarding the tribes, including those living along the
border in the Cape Colony. Their probable fighting
strength was ascertained, as also tribal differences, dis-
tinctions being drawn between hereditary blood-feuds and
those of a minor character. Those tribes that had esta-
blished intimate relations by marriage, etc., or were
off-shoots of existing older stocks, though commonly
designated by different names, were also noted. These
particulars were tabulated so as to show which group was
likely to take the field against another in the event of
hostilities, and so on. By degrees, there grew up in his
mind the idea that an open rupture between the white
and the black races would occur in the near future, and
on such presentiment appearing more reasonable and
palpable as time went on, he set himself to consider how

1 Col. Bru-de-Wold first entered the Natal Volunteer forces as a
trooper in 1873. He served throughout the Zulu War of 1879 (medal
with clasp) and the Boer War, 1899-1902 (twice mentioned in dis-
patches, Queen's and King's medals with three clasps). By the end of
the latter war he had risen to the rank of Major. He was awarded
C.M.G. in 1900, in recognition of special services rendered by him during
the Boer War.


far he would be ready should any such contingency arise
in his particular district. He prepared mobilization
schemes on a small scale, that is to say, assumed a revolt
had broken out at a particular point within the Colony,
and then devoted himself to utilizing all available resources
so as to grapple with the imaginary outbreak in the most
effective manner. These schemes, along with others on
somewhat similar hues by the other district officers, were
submitted to headquarters. Those by Bru-de-Wold
evoked a special interest, with the result that he was
invited to prepare others. This time, he was not limited
to the resources of his own district, but was instructed
to lay under tribute those of the entire Colony. This
" day-dreaming," as persons devoid of a military sense
may choose to style it, soon turned out to be, not only an
amusing and engrossing pastime, but the thing of all
others that the Colony stood most in need of at that
particular juncture. That this view is correct, will become
clearer the further we proceed.

On the post of Commandant being vacated by Leader
in August, 1905, Bru-de-Wold was appointed thereto with
the rank of Colonel.

But, although Col. Bru-de-Wold was so mindful of the
necessity of preparing for war, it is only fair to remember
that the foundations of MiHtia organization were laid
whilst the first Commandant was still in office, not to
refer to the various other and important contributory
efforts in earlier days. The organization of the Volunteers
during the Boer War, for instance, was everything that
could have been desired, though, of course, it differed
in character from a scheme which had in view hostihties
with savages, who might rise in a number of places at the
same moment. Royston had in view and prepared for
possible hostilities with civilized forces living beyond the
borders of the Colony, a very different undertaking to
operating against barbarians residing within the Colony.
" For the latter, one must have each division complete
in itself, but, in organizing for a European war, one knows
perfectly well that he must collect his men together in


the bulk before there is to be any resort to arms at all.
So long as one's brigade is organized as a brigade, that
is sound. In Native warfare, however, there should be
organization practically of the individuals, for each of
these might be called on to deal with a Native enemy in
his immediate vicinity. Just before the RebeUion, each
little unit was absolutely complete and prepared to take
the field as it stood." ^

Manuals of instruction based on those of the Imperial
army, but adapted to local requirements, were prepared
and issued. In these, the various duties of each arm, on
receipt of an order to mobilize, were fully and clearly
set forth.

Had Leader not felt obliged to resign, it is more than
probable that with, for instance, so enthusiastic a lieu-
tenant as Bru-de-Wold, the highly creditable system
subsequently developed by the latter would have fully
matured. But, whatever may have happened in his
time, cannot be allowed to obscure well-deserved dis-
tinction and prevent the bestowal of that meed of praise
the Colony owes to the man who, if he did not actually
initiate, took infinite pains, in season and out of season,
assisted by an efficient and willing staff, to further the
scheme, until it actually assumed the soHdarity it did
and that capacity for simultaneous and harmonious
movement which are the leading characteristics of every
sound system of defence. Natal, therefore, owes her
gratitude to Col. Bru-de-Wold as to one who, keenly
alive to her best interests, in the face of much pohtical
and other discouragement, resolutely held to the course
he had embarked on, until the long-entertained idea had
been fairly realized. Without him, it is conceivable, the
Colony might have become so involved during the Re-
belHon as to have been unable to suppress it without
appeahng for help to the Mother Country, when the
command of the whole of the operations would have passed
automatically from her own hands to those of the Imperial
Government. That is to say, a Colony which, but a

1 Major T. H. Blew, Chief Staff Officer, Natal, May, 1912.

»■. B. Sherwood,

C.M.G. , D.S.O.,

Commandant of Militia.

K.C.B., C.M.G.

ir. Watso




dozen or so years previously, had deliberately resolved to
take on the burden of responsible government and all atten-
dant risks, would have been so far incapable of exercising
control and utilizing her own resources as, at the first
sign of trouble in connection with purely internal affairs,
to seek the aid of external authority to set them in order!
Had any such assistance been invoked and rendered.
Natal must inevitably have forfeited, especially in the
eyes of the Natives, much of the prestige she had so long
enjoyed and which she was determined, if possible, to main-
tam. But let no one suppose these remarks to be made in
any ungenerous spirit or unmindfuUy of that bond of
sympathy and warm attachment that will for ever endure
between the Motherland and her sons in Natal. It is
impossible to gauge the degree to which Natal is indebted
to the " old block " of which she is but a chip ; her
social system, laws, education, and institutions were, for
the most part, " made in England," so, too, were many of
the better features of the mihtary system of which she is
so justly proud. She is not obHvious of the instruction
and encouragement her officers have received from
innumerable representatives of His Majesty's army, in
South Africa and at home, or of the keen interest that
has constantly been shown in the general development of
her forces.


Active Militia.—The strength of the Active Mihtia was
hmited to 4,000 in time of peace. This figure, as a matter
of fact, was never reached, owing to the severe financial
depression the Colony passed through in the years 1902-
1906, and later. Although the strength rose from 1 864
officers and men in 1902 to 3,449 in 1904— that it did not
mcrease beyond the latter figure was due to Government
fixing 3,500 as the temporary maximum strength— it
decreased in 1906 to 2,854. Consequently, there was a
shortfaU of no less than 1,146 men on a maximum autho-
rized peace estabhshment at the outbreak of the Rebellion.


In his report, dated January, 1907, Bru-de-Wold says :
" Assuming office in October, 1905/ during a period of
great financial depression, I was confronted with the task
of immediately reducing expenditure. ... At the same
time, I was convinced that, at no period since I became
connected with the Defence Forces of the Colony, had there
been a greater urgency for efficiency and readiness to take
the field. I felt sure that the Native trouble, which I had
seen for some years past drawing nearer and nearer, was
now within a measurable distance, and in my own mind
I fixed the latter end of May or Jime as the most probable
time for the disturbance to break out. I was instructed
to reduce the Active Mihtia to 2,500 of all ranks. . . ." ^
Again : " To organize the Force with its reduced numbers,
and still to retain its efficiency as an effective fighting
force, I arranged a Peace and War estabhshment for
each regiment, the ranks to be filled up when required
for war purposes by supernumeraries, or special service
men. . . . " ^

Nothing could show more clearly than the foregoing
facts how severe must have been the financial depression
through which the Colony passed in 1905 and 1906, and
how great the risks run by being compelled to reduce to
2,500 men, the first fine of defence of a Colony controlling
about a milHon warHke savages. When, as then situated.
Natal determined to deal with the trouble by means of
her own resources, she took a bold and even hazardous
course. But it was just such decision that appealed to
the imagination of the staunchest of her colonists, and it
was not long before she had the satisfaction of knowing
that her courageous attitude was amply justified by the

Having decided, in 1904, to recruit to a figure falling

1 He assumed in August, but acted until October, the holder of the
appointment being technically on leave.

2 Commandant of Militia (Col. Bru-de-Wold), Annual Report, 1906.
With an establishment of 2,500, the fig\ires at 31st December, 1905, of
the different arms were approximately : Naval corps, 100 ; Mounted
Rifles, 1,330; ArtiUery, 350; Infantry, 580; Departmental corps, 140.
Total, 2,500.

3 Commandant of MiUtia (Col. Bru-de-Wold), Annual Report, 1906.


short by 500 of the maximum peace strength authorized
by law, and again, in 1905, directed a further reduction
by 1,000 men, it would be thought the Government, on
the first acts of rebellion occurring in February and
April, would have been only too glad to avail themselves
of the power to ballot for recruits,^ to raise the depleted
ranks to at least the maximum peace estabHshment. By
rights, the final word as to when the ballot should be
brought into force, should rest with the officer responsible
for the defence of the country. Experience has shown that
an elective ministry will not so act if it can possibly be
avoided. 2 If not imperative, so as to restore the authorized
estabHshment, such necessity certainly appeared to arise
when the character of the terrain selected by the rebels
came to be closely considered. For operations in con-
nection with Nkandhla forest alone — an area covering
100 square miles, i.e. equivalent to that of Greater London,
some 10,000 European troops were declared by competent
mihtary advisers to be required. If others advised lesser
numbers, it was because they were confident (though
having no mihtary reasons for saying so) that their

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 5 of 52)