James Stuart.

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

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extremely elusive foes could be hoodwinked at their own
game, and in a country, too, as well-known to them as a
cornfield is to the mice that run up and down and between
the growing stalks.

The Government, of which The Hon. C. J. Smythe was
Prime Minister and Sir Thomas Watt Minister of Defence,
declined to use the ballot. The reasons for such paradoxical
attitude were briefly these : Owing to the reports of
unrest and threatened attack received almost daily from
widely-separated parts, in some cases panic-stricken men,
women and children taking refuge in lagers and clamour-
ing for help, it was desirable to allay the panic ; this
alarm must have been greatly heightened had there been
sudden recourse to the baUot, which the unexpected
initial success of the April rising appeared to demand.

1 Sec. 32, Militia Act, 1903.

2 The same weakness appears to exist in the present South African
Defence scheme.


Owing to there being no general organization among the
rebels, it was highly probable outbreaks would occur here
and there, until, having acquired sufficient momentum, a
large force had been successfully massed on ground
favourable to their tactics. Thus, to denude any parti-
cular district of men, was practically to offer it to the
enemy as a convenient point of attack. It should be
borne in mind that the scanty European population was
so distributed as to be almost in every direction in the
immediate vicinity of what are known as Native locations.
These, laid off for the exclusive use of the Natives as far
back as 1845, were made numerous and kept separate
for the very reason that, through one large group of Natives
gradually losing touch with the others, their power for
mischief, in the event of hostiUties, would be reduced,
whilst Europeans, taking up their abode, either as farmers
or as townsmen, on the intervening territory, would serve
to leaven the aborigines with civihzed habits, and promote
their spiritual and material advancement.

On the other hand, it is no less true of savage than
of civihzed warfare, that the best defence consists in
attacking the enemy wherever he may be found, and
not leaving the initiative to be taken by him. The latter
method, it is true, leaves exposed numerous vulnerable
points, at each of which, owing to greater numbers, he
ought in theory to succeed.

The Government decided to call for volunteers among
the colonists and to attract the many soldiers of fortune
and adventurous spirits in South Africa by offering them
inducements to join specially-raised corps. It was in
this way that the required number of men was obtained.
Those Mihtia Reserves in the various districts who had
not taken the field were thereupon able to assemble, elect
officers, select lagers and take other measures for the
defence of their respective districts.

The Reserves. — In view of the necessity of hastening on
the organization of the Active Mihtia, and of the difficulties
in preparing rolls, as required by law, complete lists of
the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reserves could not be made until


the Rebellion was over and, indeed, not until after the
conclusion of the Dinuzulu expedition (December, 1907
to March, 1908).

At the beginning of 1906, the numbers of the Reserves
were approximately : First, 5,050, Second, 6,875, Third,
3,175 ; Total, 15,100.

In January and February, 1906, beginning at Dundee,
meetings were convened for the purpose of electing Chief
Leaders in terms of the Act. After the various classes
of Reserves had been organized, Lieut. -Col. (now Colonel)
A. T. G. Wales was placed in command.

Among these men were to be found many ex-soldiers
and volunteers, who had fought in nearly all the campaigns
of the preceding thirty years. There were also many
Dutchmen who had fought against England during the
Boer War, but who had smce become valuable acquisi-
tions to South Africa's fighting material.

Notwithstanding the presence of " old campaigners,"
it was soon patent that the majority of the men had not
received any mihtary training worthy the name. To
remedy this serious defect, only one way seems to be open
— do as Australia did later, in 1908, viz. compel every man
and boy within the State to undergo a systematic course

As in the case of the Militia, the Government was
obliged to keep down expenses in regard to the Reserves.
Such action was felt more by the latter forces than by
established corps, and yet nothing was more reasonable
than that the Active Mihtia should, whenever necessary,
be in a position to draw without delay on the younger
branches of the Reserves.

Cadets. — See p. 65.

Intelligence and Maps. — In this connection again,
nothing but the want of funds rendered it impossible to
employ officers and other agents to collect necessary and
readily-accessible information before the Rebellion began.
Practically all the Magistrates, however, Police, farmers,
planters, etc., were emissaries of the Government, though
not placed directly or indirectly in touch wdth the Militia


department as they might have been. Many of these
employed Native servants, who, in their turn, were in
intimate and constant touch with their own countrymen.
" Immediately previous to the outbreak of the Re-
belHon," says the Commandant, " 1 received a great deal
of information from people in outlying districts, but, as
there was no inteUigence department to classify, sift and
deal with this, it was very difficult to place much reliance
on the information thus obtained. Ultimately, the
acting Chief Commissioner of Pohce (Lieut.-Col. W. J.
Clarke) gave orders to the pohce m the rural districts to
coUect information from farmers and others and to send
everything direct to him." ^ This Pohce officer, owing to
his excellent knowledge of the country, and the various
informants, was able to condense and appreciate all that
came to hand and thereafter place classified summaries at
the Commandant's disposal, and very valuable these
proved to be. " Subsequently all this was stopped as,
for some reason imknown to me, the Commissioner, i.e.
the permanent officer, was either unwilhng or unable to
continue the system." ^

As regards maps, not the Commandant, but the state
of the treasury was to blame. " The want of maps
(on miHtary Hnes, normal scale) has been greatly felt in
Natal and has rendered combined action practically
impossible. The failure of the LangaUbalele expedition
was due to the want of rehable maps." ^ Surveying was
habitually conffiied to areas set apart for European occu-
pation, that is, the most accessible portions, whilst the
great Native locations, situate for the most part in broken,
bushy and untraversable regions, remained unsurveyed.
Thus, when, on hostihties occurrmg, the rebels selected
as their terrain the great Tugela valley (to a distance of
10 or 12 miles on either side and some 60-80 miles along
the river), the Nkandhla-Qudeni district, and the Umvoti

1 Commandant of Militia (Col. Bm-de-Wold), Annual Report, 1906.

2 Ibid.

3 The Langalibalele Rebellion occurred between Estcourt and the
Drakensberg Moimtains. The words quoted are from the Comman-
dant's Annual Report, 1906.


valley, their choice was, in each instance, ground the
Staff and the Surveyor General's department knew either
very Httle, or nothing at all, about. There were, indeed,
the map by Altern — of the Zululand side — and that by
Middleton — of Nkandhla district, but, insufficient as
these excellent maps were, they did not become available
for the troops until long after the RebeUion had started,
and when most of the information therein had already
been ascertained by commanding officers by personal
observation, inquiry of local residents, or direct
reconnaissance. 1

In so far, however, as the various columns in the field
were concerned, they were singularly weU-equipped with
intelligence of every kind. This arose from rapidly
adapting themselves to circumstances — a characteristic
usually displayed by colonial volunteers of long standing.
They, fortunately, experienced but Httle difficulty in
securing capable European and Native agents in every

Transport. — The authority given by law to the Com-
mandant to " prepare a register of all animals and vehicles
suitable for transport or mihtary purposes throughout
the Colony or any part thereof " was taken advantage of
in good time, with the result that, when the RebeUion
broke out, full particulars as to where vehicles, drivers
and animals could be obtained, had been collected.

The same law empowered the Governor, in the event of
war, invasion or insurrection, to " authorise the issue of
requisitions, requiring all persons to furnish such animals,
vehicles and other necessary things as may be demanded
from them for mihtary use." On failure to supply, the
property could be taken possession of by, or on behalf
of, the Commandant. There was, however, a proviso to
the effect that " not more than fifty per cent, of the
animals and vehicles suitable for transport or mihtary
purposes belonging to any person " might be requisitioned.

1 Several sections of maps (Major Jackson's series), Field Intelligence
Department, Pretoria, were issued at the outset and proved very


Payment, fixed by the regulations, was, of course, made
to persons from whom animals, etc., were taken.

When the first mobihzation at Pietermaritzburg and
other centres took place early in February, there was but
one officer in the department. Captain (now Major) C.
Victor Hosken, with one sergeant. No plant of any
description belonged to that or any other MiHtia depart-
ment. But, so thoroughly had the prehminary prepara-
tions been made, that Hosken was able to supply the
force then called out with all necessary vehicles, draught
animals, drivers, leaders, etc., on the day appointed for it
to take the field. The mobiHzations of 5th and 19th April,
3rd May, etc., were all dealt with with similar prompti-
tude and equally satisfactory results. On none of these
occasions was there any recourse to commandeering
(impressing) for the Transport department. Such action
was not resorted to until the troops moved from Zululand
to Mapumulo division (June 19), when, owing to the
impossibihty of obtaining transport in any other way,
seven or eight waggons were commandeered. The other-
wise invariable rule was to hire in the ordinary way. To
be able, however, to do this with rapidity and success, it
was necessary to ascertain beforehand exactly where, what
kind and how many vehicles, animals, etc., could be

On June 11th, when the largest number of troops was
in the field, the Transport staff had increased to 5 officers,
12 n.c.o.'s and 30 men. The largest number of waggons
in the field at one time — 11th July — (including those for
supply and regimental purposes), was 440, together with
14 mule waggons, 18 ambulances and 10 water-carts,
with approximately 12,000 oxen and 364 mules. In
addition to the foregoing, the mounted contingent from
the Transvaal (T.M.R.) had its own mule transport,
though the department supphed it with ox-waggons for
carrying supphes, ammunition, etc.

It fell, moreover, to the department to arrange for the
movement of men, horses, equipment, etc., from point
to point by rail, such arrangements, both on mobilization


and demobilization — thanks to the ever prompt and
unfailing co-operation of all Natal Government Railways
officials, whose loyal endeavours contributed very
materially to the success of the campaign — were uniformly
satisfactory, although they had, as a rule, to be carried
out on the shortest notice.

The Commandant, in his report for 1906, drew attention
to pack transport being indispensable when mobihzing
mounted forces. The mounted corps were possessed of
such transport. ^' When, however, the regiments have
taken the field, the true first fine of transport must be
provided, and this must consist of mule transport." The
system of transport, as a whole, was deficient in so far
as what is here referred to as the " true first line " was

Medical. — The Natal Medical Corps was in a position
to provide officers and men to all the forces, including
detachments, as soon as they took the field. The ordinary
medical equipment, similar to that in use in the Imperial
service, was adequate and up-to-date. Lieut.-Col. J.
Hyslop, D.S.O., Principal Medical Officer, points out that
*' there was, however, a shortage of ambulance waggons,
which had to be made up by the most suitable vehicles we
could find. These latter . . . were not nearly so useful
as the ' Natal ambulance,' which is specially constructed
to meet the conditions of the country. Arrangements had
been made some time prior to the Rebellion whereby, in
case of necessity, civilian hospitals were to be available
as base hospitals, and several were so used." Among
these was the Victoria Hospital at Eshowe. Authority
was given for the Principal Medical Officer to call on
District Surgeons " to attend troops stationed in their
respective districts, by way of relieving the Militia Medical
staff," thereby enabhng them to devote more attention to
field duties. With the enrolment of irregular troops, it
became necessary to increase the personnel of the corps ;
later in the campaign, the stretcher-bearers, supplied by
the Natal Indian community, were a further welcome


General medical assistance was rendered, not only to
Europeans, but to various Native contingents and levies,
and to a number of the rebels as well.

Veterinary and Remounts. — The Veterinary Corps was
insufficiently organized, with the result that, generally
speaking, officers were called on to treat more animals
than they were able to cope with.

The supply of remounts became a serious matter. " It
is much easier," says the Commandant, " to get men than
to get horses on which to mount them. During the late
operations, the horse supply of the Colony was exhausted
practically within the first month, and, within a few
months, it was a very difficult matter to purchase a fairly
good horse, either in the Transvaal, Orange River Colony,
or Cape Colony, and we had to import a shipment of horses
from South America. Fortunately, the campaign ended
about the time these horses arrived, so that they were not
required for the field. But, had the campaign been
prolonged, as it easily might have been, shipment after
shipment of horses would have had to be imported, and
these would necessarily have been unbroken horses, as
the contractor was unable to complete his contract to
supply the requisite number of broken horses for the first
shipment." ^

Ordnance and Equipment. — The withdrawal of the
Imperial troops carried with it the closing down of the
Imperial Ordnance stores in Pietermaritzburg. This
necessitated stocking by the local Ordnance department
of material considerably in excess of what it had been
the rule to keep. Instead of Umiting the stock to peace
requirements, it had to be expanded to those of war.

When mobihzation took place, the whole of the Mihtia
forces were duly equipped, whilst demands from the field
were promptly and satisfactorily met.

" In dealing with the equipping of irregular corps and
Mihtia Reserves," says the Ordnance Officer, Major
F. Choles,^ " for which no provision was made, the

^ Comi-nandant of Militia (Col. Bru-de-Wold), Annual Report, 1906.
2 Departmental Report for 1905 and 1906.


success . . . attained . . . was due to the foresight of this
department in having placed to ' reserve stocks,' from time
to time, such stores as were necessary for contingencies,
such as the late Rebelhon. These stores were a portion of
stocks obtained under the ordinary annual votes during
the last few years." Owing to recommendations in
respect of reserve clothing not having been given effect
to, uniforms had to be obtained from such local sources
as were available, with the result that inferior materials
at high prices were the only goods to be had.

At various troop headquarters, armouries had been
provided. These proved most useful and time-saving,
especially as the system mobihzation of the mounted
forces was always '' forward " to the scene of disturbance.

In so far as arms, ammunition and equipment were
concerned, the Colony, on the outbreak of hostihties,
was fuUy prepared to meet all reasonable demands likely
to be made. The rifles and ammunition were, moreover,
of the best and latest types. This satisfactory state of
affairs was owing chiefly to continued representation by
the Commandant to his Minister to the effect that, although
the country was evidently on the eve of a rising, there was
an insufficiency of both arms and ammunition, particularly
the latter. There was, for instance, Httle or no Mark V
ammunition in stock. During November, 1905, authority
was given to mdent for 1,000 stand of arms and 5,000,000
rounds of ammunition. The first lot arrived in Durban
late in January, and the first outbreak of rebelhon occurred
on the 8th of the following month.

Service Corps (Supplies). — This department, when the
first mobihzation occurred, had a staff of 2 officers and
24 men. This strength was increased as necessity arose,
until it stood at 2 officers, 38 clerks, 9 bakers, 7 butchers,
55 grocers and issuers ; total, 135. Some 30 Natives
were also employed.

The officer in charge, Captain Ambrose Prior, found it
necessary to estabhsh no less than twenty depots in different
parts of Natal and Zululand, whilst, in addition, a supply
detachment accompanied each of five operating columns.


The want of properly-trained men at the outset was
severely felt, involving, as it did, considerable risk in
handling large quantities of supplies. It was fortunate
that intelligent out-of-work men were readily procurable.
These were trained and distributed among the depots as
soon as they became efficient.

Field bakeries were formed at Nkandhla, Thring's Post,
and Mapumulo, and proved very successful. At one
time, those at Nkandhla and Thring's Post turned out as
much as 4,000-5,000 lbs. of bread daily. Owing to lack
of system in the management of loot stock, field butcheries
proved a failure, the Government, in consequence, being
put to needless expense in procuring meat.

Co-operation between this and the Transport depart-
ment was everything that could have been desired.

Telegraph Corps. — This corps, under Captain F. Fraser,
was most efficient and well-equipped. It was, however,
handicapped owing to its small establishment, so much so
that it was necessary to apply to the Cape Colony for
signallers. Some of the corps members had gone through
an army class of instruction at Pretoria. The good effects
of that training were very noticeable.

Engineer Corps. — Owing to the peace estabHshment of
the Active MiHtia having been reduced to 2,500, the
formation of an Engineer Corps was impossible. As, how-
ever, searchhghts are very desirable accessories in Native
warfare for defensive purposes, arrangements were made,
with the assistance of Captain Mills, of the Natal Govern-
ment Railways, to secure a couple of instruments and
appurtenances, together with the necessary trained men
for working them. Another of these instruments (under
Major W. H. Pickburn) was lent by the Transvaal Govern-
ment and proved especially useful at Nkandhla.


Although forming no part of the Militia, the Natal
PoUce, a smart, well-equipped and efficient force, under
the command of Lieut. -Col. G. Mansel, C.M.G., took a


prominent part throughout the operations. Its personnel
consisted of Europeans and Natives ; the latter, however,
were not called out for service. The European section
numbered 40 officers and 1,126 of other ranks. Over
two-thirds were mounted, but it was found impracticable,
owing to there being 143 pohce stations to look after, to
put more than 210 into the field.


There were no fewer than 117 of these Associations in
1906 in various parts of the Colony, with an aggregate
membership of about 7,000.

On the passing of the Militia Act, the Associations,
which were invaluable agencies for training men to shoot,
ceased to form part of the defence of the Colony, as
practically all members were liable to serve in the different
classes of the Reserves.


These corps and their strengths were : Royston's
Horse, 550 ; Natal Rangers, 800 ; Zululand Pohce, 90 ;
Natal Native Horse, 300 ; the first two were European,
the others Native (with European officers). There were,
in addition, various Native infantry contingents or levies,
whose aggregate strength amounted to about 6,000. The
assistance given by the Cape and Transvaal Colonies and
Sir Abe Bailey is referred to further on under " Offers of

Royston's Horse. — When, in the middle of April, matters
became serious and it appeared necessary to dispatch a
large force to Nkandhla, the Government decided to deal
with the position as far as possible from Natal resources.
The required force might, indeed, have been obtained from
such Active Militia corps as had not up till then taken
the field, but, owing to the Mihtia Reserves not being
sufficiently organized, it was found necessary to retain


portions of the Active Militia in Natal to deal with any
rising that might occur during the absence of the troops
in Zululand, hence the decision to recruit this special
contingent of mounted men. Recruiting took place in
Durban, Pietermaritzburg, and Johannesburg. The corps
was placed under the command of Lieut.-Col. J. R.
Royston, C.M.G., D.S.O., and formed part of the " Zulu-
land Field Force " that left for Nkandhla at the beginning
of May. Towards the end of the c^nlpaign the corps was
enlarged, notably by men recruited in the Cape Colony.

Natal Rangers. — This infantry regiment was raised
because Ministers considered it against the interests of
the Colony to keep the Mihtia Reserves in the field for
any length of time. A considerable saving was effected
through raising the corps, owing to the pay of the men
being at lower rates. Recruiting took place chiefly in
Johannesburg and Durban. As regards that done in
Johannesburg, the Colony was most fortunate in securing
the assistance of the Transvaal Commandant of Volunteers.

Zululand Police (Natives). — This particularly useful
and efficient infantry corps, originally formed in 1883 by
Lieut.-Col. G. Mansel, C.M.G., was disbanded on Zululand
being annexed to Natal (December, 1897). Its strength
then was about 200. When temporarily re-estabhshed,
on the outbreak of rebeUion, under Inspector Fairhe of the
Natal PoHce, its numbers were between 80 and 90.
For further information see Appendix XL

The Natal Native Horse, commanded by Major G. Moe,
were enrolled at Edendale, Nyanyadu, and other parts of
the Colony in February, 1906. Some difficulty was at
first met with in providing horses, owing to many having
been sold by the Natives as remounts to agents of the
German Government in connection with the South-West
Africa campaign. Further particulars regarding this corps
will be found in Appendix XL

Native levies. — These were called out as necessity arose,
but only in such areas as fell within the theatre of opera-
tions, and, except about 120 Basutos (Nqutu district),
were unmounted ; for the most part, they were armed only


with their large ox-hide shields and assegais.^ As the
great majority were under " tribal " rule, the several
contingents were commanded by their own Chiefs, without
regard either to age or mihtary fitness. Among the most
capable Chiefs were Sibindi, Sitshitshih, Mfungelwa, and


(a) The Imperial Government. — When, consequent upon
the assumption by Natal of responsible government, the
Imperial Government proceeded gradually to withdraw
the regular troops, it so happened that, on the outbreak
of rebelhon, a mere handful of men remained at Pieter-
maritzburg. The withdrawal, however unobtrusively it
had occurred, did not escape the notice of sundry nervous
Europeans, or the Natives. The latter, when their
resentment had been aroused by the poll tax (to be referred
to later), were not slow in making one another believe that

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 6 of 52)