“A lost legionary in South Africa.” (1912)

Hamilton-Browne, G.: A lost legionary in South Africa. (1912)

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CRITICISMS

ON

WITH THE LOST LEGION

IN

NEW ZEALAND

BY

Colonel HAMILTON-BROWNE
Illustrated 12/6 net

” The Evening Standard” and ” St James’s Gazette?
2nd August 1911.

“The chief value of the book, besides its historical value,
is that it gives stay-at-homes, in a very readable form, a good
picture of the irregular Colonial soldier of forty years ago, and
the kind of fighting that has gone on in all parts of the world
while the Empire has been in course of construction.”

” The Globe? 2nd August 1911.

” There is a great deal of very lively fighting in this book,
and it certainly makes us realize that a struggle with the
Maories in their native bush was no child’s play for even the
most experienced bushwhacker.”

“The Daily Graphic? tfh August 1911.

” It is a gallantly-told tale, always interesting, often excit-
ing, never failing for a high-spirited humour.”

11 The Glasgow Herald? $th August 1911.

” It is simple and straightforward, even to the length of
unconventionality, but it is intensely exciting in its vivid
realism.”
a

“Daily Chronicle” \2th August 1911.

“The book gives us something of the bracing air of the
land of the Maories, with a few genuine pictures, lightly
touched, of the tough characters, the hard nails, the queer
cards of the old Colonial days.”

” The Sketch,” 2$rd August 1911.

” Little Englanders, read at once Maori Browne’s With
the Lost Legion in New Zealand, mark the unadvertised
heroism, the fierce bravery, the silent sufferings of the pioneers
who fought in the New Zealand War from 1866 – 1871, and
have the strength of mind to be converted. And Imperialists,
go and do likewise ! The book is of supreme interest.”

” Book Monthly” August 1911.

” A book of real new adventure and fighting, also valuable
for its information.”

“Birmingham Daily Post” i%th August 1911.

” Colonel Hamilton-Browne, in his downright straight-
forward way, has given us as realistic a picture of bush fight-
ing as we have ever read. . . . Almost every page is crowded
with incident, for the most part, of gallant conduct, cruelty or
hardship, but just occasionally of humour. The whole book
is vastly interesting, and written in an eminently modest vein.”

” The London Observer” \st September 1911.

” The story is admirably told, and is brimful of interest
and excitement.”

LOST LEGIONARY
IN SOUTH AFRICA

OFF THE MAIN TRACK

Being South African Reminiscences
By STANLEY PORTAL HYATT. 123. 6d. net.

THE DIARY OF A SOLDIER OF FORTUNE

Being the Life of Stanley Portal Hyatt

His Experiences as Engineer, Sheep Station Hand,
Nigger Driver, Hunter, Trader, Transport Rider,
Labour Agent, Cold Storage Engineer, Explorer,
Lecturer, Pressman, American Soldier, Blockade-
Runner and Tramp.

12s. 6d. net.

ALONE IN WEST AFRICA

By MARY GAUNT. 155. net

THROUGH INDIA AND BURMA

By A. HUGH FISHER. 153. net

NEW ZEALAND

By Dr MAX HERZ. 123. 6d. net

GREAT LOVE STORIES OF THE THEATRE

By CHARLES W. COLLINS. 125. 6d. net

SWITZERLAND IN SNOW AND SUNSHINE

By E. B. D’AUVERGNE. I2s. 6d. net

*.* t* V *..**; *

THE AUTHOR IN 1879.

A LOST LEGIONARY

IN

SOUTH AFRICA

BY

Colonel G. HAMILTON-BROWNE

44 MAORI BROWNE”
Late Commandant in Colonial Forces

ILLUSTRATED BY S. VALDA

LONDON

T. WERNER LAURIE

CLIFFORD’S INN

N

THIS WORK IS

DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY

OF

MY OLD COMRADES

OFFICERS AND MEN

OF H.M. 24TH REGIMENT, THE 3RD NATAL NATIVE

CONTINGENT, THE PIETERMARITZBURG CARBINEERS, AND THE

NATAL MOUNTED POLICE, WHOSE BONES LIE BURIED

BENEATH THE SHADOW OF ISANDLWANA WHERE

LOSING ALL SAVE THEIR HONOUR, THEY

FELL FIGHTING BRAVELY FOR

QUEEN AND FLAG ON THE

22ND OF JANUARY

1879

Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die,
Though every soldier knew
Someone had blundered.”

TENNYSON.

CONTENTS

PAGE

PREFACE xi

PART I

CHAP.

I. BABY FARMING OFF CAPE HORN . . i

II. I START AGAIN ON THE LONG TRAIL . . n

III. A SOUTH AFRICAN PICNIC . . .23

IV. PULLEINE’S LAMBS . . . .36
V. FATHER WALSH . . . . .43

VI. THE IDIOSYNCRASY OF THE BRITISH NAVVY ON

FIELD SERVICE . . . .49

VII. LOOT AND SOME LOOTERS . . .58

VIII. GRAND ROUNDS AND BLUE-JACKET SENTRIES . 74

IX. THE ZULU ARMY . … 85

X. ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND . . .99

XI. COMING EVENTS THROW SHADOWS BEFORE THEM 118

XII. THE DAY OF ISANDLWANA . . .125

XIII. THE MORNING AFTER ISANDLWANA . . 140

XIV. LIFE AT ROURKE’S DRIFT . . .154
XV. COLLECTING INFORMATION AND OTHER THINGS 165

XVI. UNDER ORDERS FOR THE CAPE . , 177

vii

273217

viii CONTENTS

PART II

CHAP. PAGE

I. LONSDALE’S HORSE …. 191

II, GlNGINHLOVA ….. 205

III. DETAINED AT THE BASE . . 214

IV. FLOORED BY A MULE …. 232
V. A LIFE THROWN AWAY …. 249

VI. A KlMBERLEY I.D.B. REMINISCENCE . . 259

VII. YARNS OF THE BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE . 270

VIII. WE ALL WENT A-HUNTING THAT DAY . . 283

IX. THE JEW SMOUSER AND THE IRISH PRIEST . 286

X. So LONG! ….. 293

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

THE AUTHOR IN 1879 . . . Frontispiece

SHIPWRECKED, BUT UNCONCERNED . To face page 18

THE SENTINEL LAMB , . . 36

SERHIO’S KRANTZ . . . ,, 108

A LAST SALUTE …. 140

UMVUBIE’S MODEST REQUEST . . 156

THE CRIME OF THE NATURALIST . ,, 164

COLLECTING INFORMATION . . ,, 170

PRESSED ….. ,, 208

A COOL SPOT …. 220

A GROUP OF D.F.H. OFFICERS . 294

D.F.H. CAMP AT SPEITFONTEIN, 1890 . ,, 304

IX

” But I’ve cut my cake, so I can’t complain,
And I’ve only myself to blame,
Ah ! that was always their tune at home,
And here it is just the same.
Of the seed I’ve sown in pleasure,
The harvest I’m reaping in pain ;
Could I put my life a few years back,
Would I live that life again ?

Would I ? Of course I would !

What glorious days they were !

It sometimes seems the dream of a dream,

That life could have been so fair.

A sweet but if a short time back,

While now, if one can call

This life, I almost doubt at times

If it’s worth the living at all.

One of these poets, which is it ?
Somewhere or another, sings,
That the crown of a sorrow’s sorrow
Is remembering happier things.
What the crown of a sorrow’s sorrow
May be, I know not ; but this I know,
It lightens the years that are now
Sometimes, to think of the years ago.”

A. LINDSEY GORDON.

PREFACE

BEFORE saying anything about this present work
I think it is my bounden duty to tender my hearty
and sincere thanks to the innumerable critics, both
British and Colonial, who so unanimously reviewed
my first attempt at literature, With the Lost Legion
in New Zealand, with a kindness that has greatly
surprised me and in a manner, so obviously to
myself, closing their eyes to the manifold faults
in the work and most probably actuated by their
sportsmanlike wishes to help a worn-out old war
dog along the rough road of his declining years,
have held out a helping hand, tried to lighten his
swag and cheer him along the line of march by
making the most of the few good things in his
book and treating with leniency its many failings.
I hereby again gratefully thank the members of
the Press and many of my old comrades for their
generous sympathy and warm support.

Much against my inclination I have written
the present work in my own name, for no real Lost
Legionary ever wishes to blow his own trumpet
or pose as a hero even should he have done deeds
worthy to be so styled, and I have certainly no
right to the appellation. I must therefore apolo-
gize for the frequent appearance of the big capital

XI

xii PREFACE

“I,” but this must occur when a man writes about
events in which he has taken a hand. Again I have
tried to eliminate as much as possible accounts of
petty skirmishes and cattle-raiding excursions that
are so frequent in savage warfare and have con-
tented myself by trying to make the book enter-
taining without thrilling my readers with bloody
happenings many of which had better be forgotten.
My frail bark is launched and must sink or
swim on its own merits and if it does the former
I can only hope it will go down with colours flying,
after having, as Umvubie would say, a good fight
first.

A LOST LEGIONARY IN
SOUTH AFRICA

PART I

CHAPTER I

BABY FARMING OFF CAPE HORN
*

ONE fine day towards the end of April, in the year
of Our Lord 1877, two men might have been seen
walking down Queen Street, Auckland, New
Zealand, towards the wharf, and as one of them is
the author of this book, in whose pages the name
of the other frequently occurs, let me introduce
myself and companion to you. I had three months
previous to that date turned thirty years of age,
stood just over 5ft. 7in. in my bare feet, with a
chest measuring over 40 inches in circumference and
limbs of almost too great a magnitude for my size
yet withal, when in good health, which I was not
at that moment, as active as a cat and capable of
undergoing any amount of exertion and hardship.
As for my face, well you must judge that for your-
self. Look at the portrait in the book, knock off
some thirty-four years, allow for the wear and tear
of over thirty strenuous years of South African
frontier life, many of which have been passed in
warfare, and there you are.

2 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

My companion, by name Edward Quin, called
himself, and in reality was my servant but there
were bonds that tied us together far stronger and
more lasting than any services received or wages
paid could forge. Par exemple, we both came
from the same county, a very strong tie to an Irish-
man, and although Quin had not been born on
my father’s estate, still as he put it, ” he had seen
dayloight, for the first toime, so moighty adjacent
to it, that the short intervaneing distance made
no matter.” Again, just before he joined me, I
had done him a trivial service, which he, with the
warm-hearted gratitude of the true Irish peasant,
God bless them, magnified to an enormous extent,
and although he had repaid by faithful service and
devoted attachment, the trifling obligation, ten
thousand times over, still the simple fellow fancied
he was my debtor. Stronger, however, than all
these put together, was the fact, that for many a
year we had fought side by side, we had looked
after one another when wounded, we had shared
one another’s meagre rations, but above and be-
yond all we had suffered hunger, thirst, cold and
privation equally in company and neither master
nor man had ever heard the other grumble or re-
pine. This being so, no matter how wide apart
we were separated by the difference of birth,
education, religion and what the world calls social
position, we were comrades in every sense of the
word, and the love of man for man surpasses that
of the love of man for woman. Such was the case
with Quin and myself, though the innate good
breeding and tact of my humble mate never per-
mitted him to take any liberty with me, more than

BABY FARMING OFF CAPE HORN 3

is usual for a trusty old family servant to take
with an indulgent master. In person he stood
over five feet eleven in height, was broad in the
shoulder and narrow in the flank and was some
three or four years older than myself, while both
of us, in our own individual ways, were as reckless
a pair of blades as ever Old Ireland has produced.

Well here we were proceeding to the wharf,
for the purpose of looking at the ships, for we were
Homeward Bound. You good people who live
at Home, know but little what the meaning of the
word Homeward Bound conveys to the world
wanderer; and I’ll be shot if I can tell you, any-
how, such feelings we possessed as, leaning on Quin’s
arm, we descended Queen Street and reached the
wharf. I was in no ways fit, having some time
previously got in the way of a bullet, and although
convalescent, was under the doctors’ orders to go
home and knew they were quite right in sending
me. On reaching the quay, I found two vessels
that, having completed their lading, were getting
ready for sea and looked them over, so as to make
my choice as to which should have the honour of
conveying Caesar and his fortunes; there being
no direct steam communication, at that time,
between New Zealand and England.

One of these vessels was a very smart-looking,
full-rigged, clipper-built ship, of some six hundred
tons; the other a bluff-bowed old bark, about the
same tonnage, which looked as if she had been built
by the mile, cut off by the foot and then the ends
boxed in. Of course I chose the clipper and step-
ping aboard was accosted by a man who, informing
me he was chief mate, asked me my business and

4 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

on being told I was a prospective passenger showed
me into the cuddy, which I found to be a comfort-
able little saloon with the usual so-called state
rooms, i.e., square boxes of cabins, opening out of
it. One of these I entered and found it furnished
with two wooden bunks, placed one above the other,
and these were all the necessaries, provided by the
ship-owners. As the ship (the Electric) was ad-
vertised to sail only one day after the bark I deter-
mined to take passage in her, so without making
any further inquiries, which was very foolish on
my part, I went straight to the shipping office,
paid our passage money and then visited an out-
fitter, to whom I gave instructions to rig up our
state room in a comfortable manner. As only
two days intervened before the ship sailed and I
had many things to attend to I did not again go
on board until the hour advertised for the depar-
ture; reaching the wharf, just as the dock hands
were beginning to cast off our moorings and the
tug was alongside to pick up our hawser. As I
passed along the gang plank the mate informed
me the skipper was on board and that we should
get under way at once, so I went into the cuddy
to see that Quin had fixed up our cabin to my
satisfaction. The good ship Electric, was a poop-
built vessel, with the door of the cuddy opening
out on the main deck and on my entering the saloon,
I was struck dumb and nearly fainted, to find it
overrun with children of a tender age. Troth
they were everywhere, on the deck, on the settees,
crawling out of the state-room doors, and among
them were many women, and a sky-pilot or two,
all in tears, taking leave of one another. The

BABY FARMING OFF CAPE HORN 5

howling of some of the kids was excruciating, and
on my getting hold of the far from clean-looking
steward he informed me, to my horror, that three
of the females and thirteen of the piccaninnies were
to be my fellow-passengers.

Oh ye gods of war, why had ye suffered your
poor votary to land himself in such a mess? Only
fancy, ye modern day sybarites, you who grumble
at the fancied hardships you have to undergo on
board a ten thousand ton mail boat, just think
how you would have liked to contemplate a four-
teen thousand mile trip, having to double Cape
Horn in the depths of winter, cooped up in the
tiny saloon, of a small six hundred ton wind-
jammer, in company with three lachrymose women
and thirteen squawking children? Augh, my heart
was dark, very dark indeed. However, nothing
could be done, the tug had hold of us, the last moor-
ings had been let go and as soon as we were clear
of the land we sheeted home the topsails, manned
the halyards and bore away for the Horn. Nor
were my misgivings to prove wrong, for I may here
state that under no other circumstances, during
my somewhat hard life, have I ever had to endure
such misery as I underwent during that wretched
voyage. The ship was a very good one of its kind
and the crew were above the average of the class
of men usually to be found in the fo’castle of a
wool ship of that epoch. I had paid the full price
for a first-class cabin passage and expected to
receive the usual first-class fare, such as fresh
meat, mutton, pork, poultry, etc., but there were
neither pigs, sheep nor poultry on board, and al-
though I messed with the captain and his mate,

6 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

still, with the exception of bacon, cheese, salt
butter and jam, we had exactly the same provisions
as were issued to the crew, so that you may say,
we made the voyage on bare navy rations. I
should not however have grumbled at this, although
I well knew I was being badly swindled, for the
salt horse and pork were of good quality, and after
a man has been through years of bush fighting
and frontier life, with its attendant hardships, he
is not, provided he is worth his salt, going to turn
up his nose at wholesome though rough fare. The
cuddy was also a snug enough place in which to
abide, and although I was in bad health and much
run down, suffering from an old wound in my
chest, still as I was well supplied with books, I
should have got on all right, had it not been for
my fellow-passengers three women and thirteen
children, the eldest of the latter not being more
than ten years of age, while three of them were in-
fants in arms.

Now it turned out, that these three women
were widows, who with their families were being
shipped home on the cheap, by some goody-goody
society who, having more religion in their com-
position than common sense, had paid intermediate
passage fares for them, leaving it in the hands of
Providence to look after them en voyage. Pro-
vidence not wishing to be bothered with them,
had instigated myself to take passage, without
making inquiries, and so shuffling out of His task,
had delegated it to Quin and myself. This may
be so, but once while off the Horn, on giving one
of the widdy women an extra tot of grog, she de-
clared that it was Providence, who had guided us

BABY FARMING OFF CAPE HORN 7

to ship in the Electric for the purpose of looking
after herself and her kids. It may be so, though
I fancied then, and still believe, the engineer-
ing faculty, of our misfortune, to have been Old
Nick himself. It also happened, that when the
contract aforementioned was made, that the usual
intermediate passengers’ quarters had been stowed
chock full of wool, so that the shipping company
(there being no demand at the moment for first-
class passages) had put them into the cuddy to
live, but allowing them only third-class rations
and no attendance whatever.

Very many queer things were done at sea in
those days, on board the old wind-jammers, but I
have never heard or read of a more heartless,
brutal case than the one I am writing about. Just
think of the facts. These poor people had their
rations served out to them in bulk once a week,
and were expected to do everything for themselves,
store their rations in their cabins, prepare their
food, carry it along the main deck to the galley,
which was situated abaft the foremast, and then
bring it back again when cooked, the said deck
being often flooded with over two feet of icy cold
water, which, rushing from side to side, owing to
the motion of the rolling, plunging ship, made the
journey one of danger, even to a bold hardy man
not used to the sea and a matter of utter impos-
sibility for a timid woman. There was no
stewardess on board, and the dissolute-looking
steward, and the still dirtier cabin-boy, seeing no
chance of receiving tips from them at the end of
the journey, absolutely refused to render them
any service at all; a refusal that was backed up

8 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

by the skipper, on the plea, that they were only
third-class passengers. All this would have been
bad enough had the mothers been capable women
but they were far from that, as they were the most
lackadaisical, useless bodies it has ever been my
hard lot to meet, each and all of them asserting,
they had seen better days, and so as to enhance
their claims to a spurious gentility, absolutely
refused to either help themselves or their wretched
offspring. However it was too late for me to
make any other arrangements, we were at sea, and
I could only hope and trust we should be chased
home by a gale of wind, but these hopes were
doomed to be quickly shattered, as although we
left port with a strong fair wind yet on the second
day it drew right ahead, and we were on a bowline,
till we weathered the Horn, fifty-seven days after
we had left Auckland, during the whole of which
time the three ladies, in reduced circumstances,
remained in their bunks, leaving it to my servant
and myself to wait on them and look after, as best
we might, their squealing progeny.

True at times they managed to sing hymns of
a doleful nature, but that did not recompense us,
and long before we weathered the Horn, King
Herod (I mean the one who made a name by infant
killing) rose many points in my estimation, as I
was sorely tempted to launch an armful or two
of howling kids over the lee rail every hour out of
the twenty-four. The skipper was a grim old
Scotch shell-back who had crawled aft through the
horse-pipe, bringing with him neither manners nor
conversation; he was, I have no doubt, when sober
a good seaman and navigator but was the most

BABY FARMING OFF CAPE HORN 9

unpleasant table companion I have ever met, as
his methods of eating would have disgusted a pig.
He was, however, very partial to religion, which he
took every night with rum, imbibing them both in
equal quantities; as he used, after supper, to sit
at the cuddy table with a huge Bible in front of
him and a bottle of rum mighty adjacent on the
swing tray.

Thus provided, following the text with his
finger and spelling out the hard words, he would
read, in an audible voice, a verse or two from any
chapter at which the book might open and then
gravely shaking his head, would absorb a stiff nip
of rum and would so continue his devotions and
potations until he became as drunk as old Noah
(late commander of the Ark) when he would lurch
off to his virtuous bunk. It may therefore be
easily imagined, that I did not get much pleasure
or profit out of this old sea-dog’s society and as the
continuous yowls of the kids effectually prevented
my reading, even when not engaged in feeding or
grooming them, and as we were hove to, fore-
reaching, off the Horn for twenty-one days, with
everything smothered in ice, I may be forgiven, by
even the tenderest-hearted matron, when I state
that I frequently consigned the useless sluts of
mothers, their tender though very dirty offspring,
together with the skipper and the shipping agent
to a far warmer latitude than Cape Stiff.

Anyhow there is one thing certain, that had
it not been for Quin and myself, things must have
gone very hard with our miserable fellow-passengers,
so perhaps after all it may have been Providence
who sent me along to pay our passage money,

io A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

without first of all making full inquiries, as to who
might be going with us, though at that time I was
fully convinced to the contrary. However, the
longest voyage must end some time or other, so
after losing our fore and main topmasts and being
nearly cast away in the Channel, thanks to the old
man having taken in an overdose of the book of
Deuteronomy mixed with O.P. rum, we dropped
our anchor at Gravesend, where I thankfully went
on shore, after enduring one hundred and twenty-
seven days of unsophisticated (the word begins
with an H).

On reaching London, I found my family were
over in Paris, so left the following night for the gay
city.

CHAPTER II

I START AGAIN ON THE LONG TRAIL

FIVE weeks of civilization were quite enough for
me, and as the doctors strongly advised me not to
risk the winter in Europe, I determined to skip it,
by taking a cruise round Africa. I was guided in
this choice by the fact that one of my elder brothers,
a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, was stationed on
the East African coast, and as it was expected, his
ship would be shortly returning to England, to be
paid off, I thought that perhaps if I picked him up
at Zanzibar, he might be able to give me a passage
home, failing which, I would find my own way
through the Mediterranean and get back to Eng-
land at my leisure. Perhaps I might get some
shooting but I was then like the majority of
Britishers, even at the present day, profoundly
ignorant of Africa. I therefore booked passages
for myself and Quin by the mail boat to Zanzibar,
taking him with me because he sternly refused to
be left behind. The voyage out to Cape Town
was a pleasant one and I found life, on a first-class
mail boat, very different to that which I had ex-
perienced on board the Electric ; so that by the
time we reached the Cape my health had im-
proved wonderfully and I was again nearly fit.

On arrival in Table Bay I discovered, that to
reach Zanzibar, it was necessary for passengers,

12 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

proceeding round the coast, to tranship into a
small coasting steamer that, stopping at all the
intermediary ports, dropped the mails and pas-
sengers destined for those places, that had been
brought out by the ocean boat; so that after
bidding farewell to the Cape Town crowd the rest
of us, proceeding further, were transhipped and
in a couple of days continued our voyage.

It was on a lovely afternoon that we steamed
out of the dock, not a ripple on the water and
every promise of a continuance of the fine weather,
for which I was thankful, as the discipline on board,
struck me as being very lax indeed, many of the
crew being drunk and even some of the officers,
slightly resembling teetotallers on strike. More-
over the ship itself was simply crowded with
passengers. I did not however bother myself
about this state of affairs, as in the bright sunshine
it did not seem possible any serious disaster could
happen and once out at sea both officers and men
would quickly sober up. The afternoon passed
away and I thoroughly enjoyed the splendid coast
scenery, which was very distinct and when the
first dressing-bell rang, went down into my cabin,
to change into dinner kit.

I had been surprised, all the afternoon, at the
closeness we had been keeping to the shore, but
on making inquiries, had been informed, that it
was customary for boats, proceeding up the coast,
to hug the land, so as to avoid the strength of the
great current that sets round the Cape and that
on such a bright, clear evening there could be no
danger. Well, I was just proceeding leisurely
to remove my coat, when the ship gave a bump

I START AGAIN ON THE LONG TRAIL 13

and I distinctly heard her tearing holes in her skin
as she scraped over a reef; then came another
bump and she sat tight. In a moment the shrieks
of women and children, together with the shouting
of men, plainly let me know something out of the
common had happened. Hastily opening my dis-
patch case, I grabbed a roll of notes, which with a
few valuables I thrust into a waterproof sponge
bag and made fast to my person; then with Quin,
who had rushed to me, at the first alarm, tackled to
to help a lot of women and children, who shrieking
with fear, were trying to get on deck. Here for a
time confusion reigned. The boat was crowded
with passengers, among whom were many children
of Israel, most of them foreign Jews, on their way
to the diamond fields, and these beauties, what
with their selfish cowardice and lamentations, made
infinitely more row than even some of the most
nervous women; in fact a lot of them had to be
rather roughly handled, before they could be re-
duced into a state of quietude. Both Quin and
myself had taken an active part in quelling the
disturbance and as soon as this was done I was
able to take a look round. It was still broad day-
light, the sun not having yet set, and how on
earth the officer of the watch and the quartermaster
at the con, had managed to pile us up, where we
were, the Lord himself only knew. One thing how-
ever was plain as a pikestaff, the ship was a hope-
less wreck and the captain and crew, as a whole,
were quite incapable of coping with the disaster.
The skipper and chief officer, did wander around
for a bit as if they were dazed, but, as far as I
heard, gave no orders at all, though the second

14 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

officer, a fine young fellow, kept his head and be-
haved, as all the world expects, a British seaman
to do when faced with sudden danger; in fact, it
was entirely due to his exertions that the bulk of
the passengers were saved. As it was evident
nothing could be done for the ship, he gave orders
for the two quarter boats to be lowered and this,
with some trouble, owing to the unhandiness of
the half-drunken crew, was done but on reaching
the water the port boat immediately filled, she
being so sun-cracked as to be quite unseaworthy.
The stewardess also did her duty well, as she pro-
cured and issued out to the women a number of
life-belts, though the sight of these, necessitated our
again having to knock down a few Jew boys, in
order to prevent them from grabbing and annexing
these useful articles. Nor was it only the children of
Israel who showed such quite unnecessary anxiety
for self-preservation; as a nasty, oleaginous mission-
ary, belonging to some fancy religion or other and
who weighed at least nineteen stone, made a most
determined effort, to capture one of the belts from
a diminutive German sheeny who had surrepti-
tiously sneaked it. The struggle was most divert-
ing, for as the Puritan sky-pilot tried to buckle
the belt round his enormous corporation, Shylock,
clinging to him like a limpet, tried to find protec-
tion within the same apparatus, while both of
them vociferated and declared that he individually
had the sole right to the life-saving girdle. It
would have amused me greatly to have watched
the tug of war between Jew smouser and Christian
soul-catcher to its bitter end but the plucky
stewardess wanted the bone of contention for the

I START AGAIN ON THE LONG TRAIL 15

use of a woman, so requested the worthy Quin to
procure it for her; which he did in a summary
manner as, on their refusing to part with it, he
quietly knocked them both down and handed
over the belt to its rightful owner. I may here
state that the language of the bereaved devil-
dodger, as he wallowed in the scuppers, was quite
unfit for publication, being such as would have
made a camp of mule-packers either blush or turn
green with envy. In the meantime another boat
had been got into the water, which with the service-
able one already lowered being filled with women
and children shoved off for the shore on which they
safely landed. The boats then returned to the
ship, and although the sun had set and it was by
now nearly dark, succeeded in taking off two more
loads, which also reached their destination in safety;
both boats however, were somewhat damaged,
in fact so much so, as to render it impossible to
make more trips that night, even had the darkness
permitted the attempt to be made.

When the boats left for the last time, those of
us who remained on the ship, saw we must pass the
night where we were; there was no danger to be
apprehended so long as the calm continued but
should it come on to blow, or a heavy ground swell
get up, the wreck would soon be knocked into scrap-
iron and all of us be summoned, to toe the line
before Davy Jones. It however struck me, I
might just as well parade before that potentate,
in a well-fed condition as in a fasting one, so calling
Quin, we dived down into the saloon, to see what
we could discover in the way of rations. The
saloon was half full of water but on the sideboard,

16 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

and quite dry, were a ham, tongue, and other
cold comestibles which, wrapping up in a table-
cloth, I took on deck ; Quin at the same time manag-
ing to get into my cabin, where he rescued my ulster
and portmanteau undamaged and on our second
trip, we burgled the bar-room door and brought
on deck a good supply of bottled ale and spirits.
These provisions were thankfully received by our
brother unfortunates so we squatted down on deck
and made a good square meal. All this time the
captain had remained within his deck cabin and
neither by word nor deed, had tried to do anything
for the safety or encouragement of his passengers.
Not that we, who had voluntarily remained on the
wreck, wanted his condolence or sympathy, for
we were all men who had knocked about the world
above a bit, knew the danger we were in and were
quite ready to face it without squealing. One of
our number, a man bound for Natal, and who had
been a fellow-passenger on the ocean mail boat,
I knew to have been a master in the mercantile
marine, so as I handed him my tobacco pouch, I
said, ” Mr Jackson, you’re an old shell-back and
knowing the coast well, I think it would be better
for the rest, if you were to direct us to take such
steps, as you may deem fit, to give us a fighting
chance for our lives, should it come on to blow.”
“Well,” he replied, “you see it’s this way, the
ship’s captain is still on board and it would be
taking a great liberty on my part, should I issue
any orders or in any way appear to take the com-
mand out of his hands.”

Now this was quite right and, I had no doubt,
was strict etiquette but then as the ship’s skipper

I START AGAIN ON THE LONG TRAIL 17

had shut himself up in his cabin, I considered, he
had voluntarily abdicated the command and that
it was our duty, to do the best we could for our-
selves. These ideas, myself and some of the others
urged on Mr Jackson, until at last he consented to
give us the benefit of his experience. After he had
taken a good look round he said, ” I don’t think
we shall have any wind to-night but if a ground
swell comes on, as it is quite likely to do, the boat
will part amidship, just abaft the funnel and the
fore part sink; so get as many ropes as you can
and stretch them from the after bollards, round the
mainmast and the companion hatch, in order that
we can have something to hold on by, should the
sea break over the stern part, which is firmly fixed
on the rocks and will, I think, hold together for the
night/’ This we did and as we were joined by the
boatswain and two others of the crew, now fairly
sober, we made a good job of it, completing just
in time, for a heavy ground swell shortly set in
when, as Jackson had prognosticated, before mid-
night, the hull of the ship parted, the bows disap-
pearing in a whirl of foam, while the stern part
on which we were, remained intact ; and although
we soon got drenched, by the seas that broke over
us, still, thanks to the stretched ropes, there was
but little danger of any of us being swept away.
Morning came and as the sun rose, the heavy swell
subsided, which was very lucky, for had it continued
or increased, the remains of the hull would have
soon been knocked to pieces and moreover the boats
would not have been able to again get alongside.
This however they did and we were all, eventually
landed on the beach where we found the passengers,

i8 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

who had come ashore the previous night, in rather
an evil plight. I had however come off fairly well,
as I had saved my money and valuables and Quin
had managed to bring on shore a portmanteau
full of clothes. One individual had however fared
even better than I (let us designate him as Smith).
Well Mr Smith had been a fellow-passenger on the
ocean boat, and on leaving Southampton had
worshipped so devoutly at the shrine of Bacchus
that, after we had been a few days at sea, the cap-
tain and doctor had forbidden him to be served
with any more of his favourite potations, thereby
reducing him to a term of enforced sobriety. Of
course as soon as the boat reached Cape Town he
made up for lost time and treated himself to a
scrumptious bust but as he was booked through
to Port Natal, where he resided, some friends had
collected him and put him, very full indeed, on
board the coasting steamer; when he promptly
turned in so as to get a good snooze, which would
render him fit to continue his devotion to the rosy
god. He was therefore enjoying a refreshing
siesta when the boat struck and peacefully slum-
bered through the subsequent turmoil. It was
therefore only on the stewardess, who was, in the
most plucky way, making a last survey of the
cabins to see that none of the women or children
passengers had been overlooked that he was dis-
covered. ” Get up, sir, get up at once! ” cried the
stewardess, shaking the sleeping beauty. ‘ ‘ Eh what,
oh mine’s a brandy,” grunted the bacchanalian
relapsing into slumber. ” But, sir, you must get up
at once, the ship’s ashore, and wrecked,” screamed
the plucky woman. ” Eh what, what’s that,

SHIPWRECKED |BUT UNCONCERNED.

,

I START AGAIN ON THE LONG TRAIL 19

ship’s wrecked is it, then go and tell the captain
it’s his business not mine, I’m a first-class passenger
go night/’ and the imperturbable inebriate turned
over to continue his rest cure. ” But, sir, you must
get up, indeed you must, the passengers are leaving
the ship,” and she shook and pulled him with all
her strength. ” Can’t have got to Natal yet and
I’m booked through,” quoth Smith, but it was no
use, the brave little woman stuck to him, pulled
him out of his bunk and drove him up the com-
panion way, before her, in the same way as she
would have driven a marauding hen out of her
back garden. On their arrival on deck, she busied
herself getting the women and children into the
boats, while he loafed about in a disconsolate sort
of a way, not taking the slightest interest in any-
thing that was going on and eventually, after the
last boat had pushed off, he drifted out of every-
one’s ken and was not missed until next morning,
when the question was passed round, ” Where is
Smith? ” He was certainly not on deck, and as no
sea, heavy enough to wash him away, had broken
over us during the night, Jackson opined he must
have gone below, and started off down the com-
panion steps to look for him. On reaching the
saloon he found the water to be up to his shoulders
but by wading and swimming he managed to get
into the state-room, which he shared with Smith,
and there he found that philosopher comfortably
asleep in his top berth, with the water only an inch
under the bunk boards. Jackson quickly and I
fear rather unceremoniously woke him up, when the
delinquent, coolly taking his neatly-folded clothes,
watch and cash, from under his pillow, tied them

20 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

to the top of his head with the bed sheet, slid into
the water and followed his rescuer on deck, where
he carefully dried himself, then calmly dressing,
went on shore, the only one, out of that ship-
wrecked crowd, who had thoroughly enjoyed a
night’s repose. Now I leave it to you, my reader,
to decide, whether his philosophical conduct was
caused by hardihood or brandy or did he trust Old
Nick to look after his own? anyhow, he scored.
The wretched women and children, in fact all the
people, who had landed the previous evening, had
passed a miserable night camped out on the beach
but during the day carts and carriages, sent from
Simon’s Bay, arrived and took us all back to Cape
Town. I have given a full account of this wreck,
not because there was anything out of the common
about it, but because it was responsible for my
passing thirty years in South Africa, an idea that
had never previously entered my mind. On reach-
ing Cape Town I found I should either have to wait
there a month for a boat, to take me on to Zanzibar,
or proceed slowly up the coast, putting in time at
Port Elizabeth, East London and Port Natal, at
the last of which ports the East Coast boat would
catch me up and take me on. I chose the latter
course of procedure, as I had already exhausted
the sights of Cape Town and being unacquainted
with any one residing there, I thought I might
better kill time at one of the other ports, especially
as the hotel accommodation at Cape Town was, at
that epoch, vile. I therefore returned to the ocean
boat and went in her as far as East London, which
was her destination, and her port of departure for
her return journey to England; so that on reaching

I START AGAIN ON THE LONG TRAIL 21

there I had to land and wait for the coasting steamer
that was to take me on to Zanzibar. This sounded
bad, but when I got on shore I found it to be far
worse than I had even anticipated, as I quickly
discovered the place to be the protoplast of hell
upon earth, tenanted by the scum and refuse of the
seven seas. Let me explain. At that time the
breakwater and the harbour works had just been
begun and all ships, trading to the port, had to lie
out in an open roadstead, the dangers of which
were very manifest, by the number of wrecks piled
up along the beach. This being the case, all
passengers and goods, consigned to East London,
had to be landed in cargo boats that were hauled
over the bar and into the river along a huge hawser,
leading from the wharf to a buoy moored out at
sea, to which the tightly-battened-down barges were
towed and from whence, having picked up the
hawser, they were dragged along it by their crews.
This was savagely, hard and very dangerous work
and the men forming the crews, were perhaps the
roughest and most abandoned toughs in the world;
being chiefly composed of runaway sailors, of every
nationality, so that, the East London serf boat-
men were, at that time, the terror of the South
African coast. Well it may be easily imagined
that a small colonial seaport town having a large
percentage of its population composed of such a
type of mankind, drawing big wages, and who were
able to buy vile brandy (known as Cape Smoke)
for ninepence per bottle, besides obtaining other
liquor by the unorthodox way of broaching cargo,
was not the most reposeful nor pleasant haven in
which to pass a fortnight; and before I had been

22 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

an hour in the frowsy, boozing den, miscalled an
hotel, I was thoroughly sick and disgusted with the
place and longed to clear out. But where was I
to go? I was as ignorant of South Africa as an
English colonial secretary and knew not which
way to turn, when happening to look out of the
window, I saw coming along the road, a sergeant
dressed in the uniform of the 24th Regiment and
immediately went out and accosted him, asking
for news of his corps, many of the senior officers
of which I knew well, and was delighted when he
informed me, that his regiment was quartered at
King William’s Town and that many of my old
friends were still serving in it. He also informed
me that King was only a short journey by rail, that
I could reach there the same day and that the hotel
accommodation there was much better than at
East London. This was indeed good news, so
Quin bundled our traps across the river to the
station and the same evening we found ourselves
camped in King William’s Town, where I obtained
comfortable quarters.

CHAPTER III

A SOUTH AFRICAN PICNIC

MY old friends in the first battalion of H.M. 24th
Regiment, received me very kindly and I enjoyed
for a couple of weeks the bon camaraderie, always
to be found in the society of an English regimental
mess, so was quite sorry when the date of my
departure drew near. Now during the whole time
I was located at King William’s Town, rumours
were afloat that the natives, especially the Gaika
tribe, were in a state of great unrest and threatening
to raid into the Cape Colony, so as to wipe out the
Fingoe tribe, that had lived for many years under
the aegis of British protection. These Fingoes,
had originally been the slaves and helots of the
Gaikas but now having waxed fat and consequently
cheeky, were very much inclined to fancy them-
selves quite as good as their former masters. I do
not wish to imply that they would have dared to
stand up against the Gaikas in battle, no not for a
moment but having lived for some years under the
tuition of missionaries they had lost their pristine
humility, so that at beer-drinkings and other native
social gatherings, they were more than uppish in
their manners and gave their whilom lords and
masters to understand, that they considered them-
selves to be on a level plane of equality. This
impudence on the part of the Fingoes, was ex-

23

24 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

tremely galling to the haughty Gaikas, who still
regarded them as their dogs and chafed at the idea,
that the absurd British law did not allow them
(the Gaikas) to take big sticks and reason their
one-time despised slaves, back again to their
original subservience. Both tribes were rich in
cattle, and each tribe longed to possess his neigh-
bour’s, and when a nigger languishes for anything,
be he so-called Christian or Pagan, he usually
tries to obtain it by the simple method of thieving.
Numerous stock robberies had therefore occurred,
for some time, along the frontier, which helped to
fan the embers of jealousy into the flames of war.
For the last year or more, there had been bickerings
and trouble on the border, though no one believed
it would come to actual blows, as all white men,
border traders and settlers as well as officials had
a great respect and liking for old Kreli, the para-
mount chief of the Gaikas, who together with the
seniors of his tribe earnestly desired to maintain
peace. Kreli had however a son named Segou, a
bitter hater of both white men and Fingoes, who
was the head centre and leader of the young bloods
and warriors, always the most turbulent faction
among native tribes, and this fellow together with
his tail, puffed up as all niggers become when they
have waxed fat, determined to raid and loot the
Fingoes, even at the risk of bringing on a war with
the white man. These tribal frictions at length
culminated during a big beer-drinking match, held
by some Fingoes in British territory, but at which
some Gaikas were present; a row started, blows
were struck, blood was drawn and the Gaikas, few
in number, had to bolt across the frontier, return-

A SOUTH AFRICAN PICNIC 25

ing shortly afterwards in strength to revenge the
insult. The Fingoes squealed loudly for British
protection, the Gaikas made a big raid over the
border and the war began. Well to make a long
story short, the news of the Gaikas’ raid and the de-
claration of the war reached King William’s Town
the night previous to my contemplated departure
from there, and of course, the chance of a scrap
caused much pleasurable excitement among my
kind entertainers; so much so, that their elation
became infectious, spreading even to myself, the
consequence being, that I at once offered my
services to the General, Sir Arthur Cunningham,
and volunteered to join any irregular force it might
be deemed necessary to raise. The General being
pleased to accept my offer, in a couple of days, I
was again in the saddle, ready to play once more the
game I loved so dearly. The disturbances in South
Africa, during the years 1877 and 1878, are called
the Gaika and Galeka Wars, and I suppose it is
right to speak of them as such, although there was
but little hard fighting done, and as for privations
they were entirely absent, at least so it appeared
to Quin and myself, who had both of us experienced,
what genuine hardships and bitter savage warfare
really meant in New Zealand. Of course there
were some men who grumbled at the work and
commissariat but they were creatures who, having
most likely been brought up on scraps and meagre
diet in their youth, would find fault with the cuisine
and accommodation of the Savoy or Cecil hotels;
certainly they were not hall-marked lost legionaries.
Now I must confess to liking a good dinner
and snug bed myself and blame no man for looking

26 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

after his personal comforts, even in the field, but I
thoroughly despise and have always had the utmost
contempt for a thing, posing as a man, who whines
about the roughness of his rations, so long as he
has any to eat at all, or of having to bed down in
the rain and mud, when the glorious game of war
is afoot. Bad scran to a rotter of that sort, he
is quite out of place at the front; he should bury
his weapons and take the billet of head swab-wringer
in a London cook-shop. Of course a soldier must
be fed and should be well fed, but I assert and main-
tain that the mobility and usefulness of H.M.
troops, both Imperial and Colonial, during all the
wars in South Africa, were most unneces-
sarily hampered by the long lines of wagons,
employed to lug along superfluous luxuries and
kit that were never even dreamed of in the New
Zealand wars.

As far as the fighting went, I was not fortunate
enough to be present at any of the three engage-
ments, that took place in the Transkei, which by a
stretch of considerable imagination might be called
battles, though I had my share in many skirmishes
and cattle-lifting operations. The major engage-
ments were brought about by the natives attacking
various patrols; in the first of which, they drove
a party of the Cape Frontier Armed and Mounted
Police off the field; in the second they were badly
beaten by the Cape Volunteers; and in the third a
couple of companies of the 24th, a few of the Naval
Brigade and a party of Carrington’s Horse, drove
their whole army, together with that of the Galekas,
which tribe under their chief Sandilli had broken
out, helter-skelter off the field, a defeat which dis-

A SOUTH AFRICAN PICNIC 27

heartened both tribes to such an extent that they
retired into their most inaccessible fastnesses and re-
fused to come out and fight again in the open. True
there were a few other skirmishes, and the troops
were given the chance of showing their inaptitude
at bush fighting, especially at the Peiri Bush, some
twenty miles from King William’s Town, where some
marvellous combined movements, as useless as they
were elaborate, consumed time up to the middle of
1878, when the death of Sandilli, killed by a chance
shot, put an end to the Galeka resistance. The
Gaikas, had earlier in the year caved in, and for some
months all the work of the forces was devoted to the
attempt of catching old Kreli, in which they were
unsuccessful, as the poor old fellow was so popular,
that neither white settler, official, nor native, would
give him away. The first field service I was called
upon to perform, opened my eyes as to the impedi-
menta, thought necessary in South Africa, for a
patrol or small war party to encumber themselves
with. It happened in this way. At the moment
I was in King William’s Town, when one day Lieut.
Colonel Pulleine, at the time town commandant,
sent for me and on my reporting said, ” Oh,
Browne, I want you to start off this morning with
whatever spare men can be scraped together and
go by train to the railhead at the Kei Road Station,
from whence you will have to get on, as best you
can, to a railway bridge that is built across the
Buffalo River, and some miles further along the
semi-constructed line, as the O.C. of the volunteers
guarding the bridge earnestly demands help,
stating he expects to be attacked by overwhelming
numbers. I can’t understand this, as I have never

28 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

apprehended any danger in that locality, but must
of course send the required assistance, as the O.C.
at Kei Road has not a man to spare. Of course
you are fully aware, that I have no duty men to
spare you, so I have given orders to collect every
man in town fit to carry a rifle. You will have a
queer lot, officers’ servants not at the front, to-
gether with both tommies and volunteers dis-
missed from hospital, as fit for service, in fact they
will be a scratch pack, but they are the only men
I can send and I don’t believe there is the least
danger of your having to fight. You will draw
rations at the Kei Road and assume command of
the post on your arrival, and now as your train will
start at noon you had better get ready.” I was
off to my quarters like a shot, where I extracted a
wild howl of delight from Quin by the old days’
magic words ” swags and haversacks, rail at noon,
on foot.” There was no need to say another word
nor give any more directions, so I turned my pony
and cantered away, being quite certain that, bar an
earthquake or sudden death, the worthy man would
be at the station with our two swags ready packed,
together with four days’ rations ready to be humped,
at 11.45 to a minute. I was a bit rushed with
work that morning and as it was a long march
from the barracks to the station, my, somewhat
motley, crowd had to fall in at 10 o’clock, so I had
no time to ask many questions of the camp adjutant
when I took them over. Now as I said before, this
was the very first war party I had ever taken com-
mand of in South Africa, and I was much surprised
to find them paraded without swags or even great-
coats, carrying nothing except their rifles, ammuni-

A SOUTH AFRICAN PICNIC 29

tion pouches and water bottles. True the Colonel
had already informed me that we were to draw our
rations at Kei Road, but how about blankets were
the men to draw them there also? I put the
question to the camp adjutant who replied, ” Oh,
no, the blankets, packs, etc., have been sent on to
the station in a wagon/’ and I marvelled. On
reaching the station I found Quin with his own and
my swags done up in the old New Zealand fashion.
I at once entrained the men and after a short,
though roundabout journey, arrived at Kei Road,
the temporary terminus on the main line from East
London to Queenstown, then under construction,
though the work had been stopped owing to the
war. Kei Road was also an important place, as
it was the point from which the rations and stores,
required for the use of the troops in the Transkei,
were despatched by bullock wagon to the front.
Our train was met by the O.C. of the place and a
commissariat officer, the latter of whom, after the
usual salutations, requested me to step into his
office and sign receipts for rations, stores, etc.
This I did, and was nearly struck dumb, when I
cast my eyes over the long list of comestibles that
it was evidently considered necessary, for a de-
tachment of less than one hundred men, proceeding
on an urgent though short expedition, to burden
themselves. I had in my innocence and ignorance
of South African methods of procedure, imagined
that, as in the New Zealand wars, each man would
have been served out with about four pounds of
cooked meat or perhaps bacon, and four pounds of
biscuits, which with a blanket and his privatejlittle
odds and ends he would have to hump on his own

30 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

back ; in fact Quin had packed our swags with that
idea but when I came to study that list, what did I
see? I rubbed my eyes but there it was, written
in a clerkly hand, so many pounds of fresh meat,
sufficient for two days’ consumption, so many
pounds of bully beef enough for six days’ consump-
tion, with even quantities of flour, biscuit, baking
powder, compressed vegetables, tea, coffee, sugar,
split peas, lime juice, rum, pepper, salt, cocoa, and
great Scott! could I credit my eyes? jam! Nor
was this all for as I was gasping for breath, up
bustled a smart commissariat sergeant, with what
he called a supplementary list of luxuries, which
had been purchased for the benefit of the troops by
kind-hearted, patriotic Colonial ladies, and of
which a portion was to be issued to my party.
Oh, ye gods of war! what was the noble game
coming to? I glanced at the proffered document,
and there plainly writ, was preserved milk, arrow-
root, corn-flour and the Lord only knows what
else. I was completely flabbergasted, and under
the impression I had gone dotty or at least had got
a touch of the sun, I turned to the commissariat
officer and said as coolly as I could, ” I think there
must be some mistake here. I’m going on Active
Service and, maybe, will have to fight in a few
hours’ time, so how in the name of all that’s
righteous can you expect my party to hump this
grocery shop on their backs?’ 3 “Hump it on
your backs! ” quoth he. ‘ Why, two wagons have
been requisitioned for you, and as they are already
packed, come over to the mess and have a drink
and a mouthful of tiffin while they inspan the oxen/’
The suggestion was a good one, absorbing tiffin,

\X7C\

A SOUTH AFRICAN PICNIC 31

would give me time to recover my equilibrium and
I badly wanted a drink to soothe my ruffled nerves,
so, was in the act of accompanying him, when up
doubled a sergeant of the Ordnance Department,
who requested me to sign another receipt, for tents,
camp kettles, baking pots, tools and sufficient
miscellaneous articles, enough to stock a hardware
shop. ” Sir/’ said he, saluting, ” everything has
been packed on the wagons, would you like to in-
spect them? ” ” No, thanks,” I replied, ” for if
I do, I may find warming-pans and infant feeding-
bottles, and by the great gun of Athlone, I draw
the line at them.” I went to the mess and tried
to eat tiffin but my meal was spoilt, as my brain
buzzed with the list of stores I had signed for and
I asked myself could this be war, or was it a big
picnic I had shipped for? I could not make it
out, and visions, rose before my mind’s eye, of the
dripping New Zealand bush, the snow-covered
fern ranges and the icy-cold river beds, as they did
also, of outfits of, gaunt, famished men, half clad
in ragged shawls and jumpers, loaded like pack
mules, who, with only a few mouthfuls of putrid
salt pork and mouldy biscuits, twixt them and
starvation, toiled on uncomplainingly to serve their
Queen and flag. No matter, I mentally gasped,
as I gazed out over the bright, sunlit, open veldt
and swigged off a glass of ale, new countries
new ways of doing things, and maybe, we will be
able to serve our dear and gracious Queen and the
glorious old Rag, as well with our waist-belts
tightened, with split peas, arrowroot and jam as
we did in the old days, when the said belts hung
loose, on a regimen of corrupt pig’s flesh and de-

32 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

composed biscuits. On the other hand, how we
were going to catch a mobile enemy, lugging along,
as we were about to do, food and ordnance truck,
sufficient to stock Whiteley’s Stores, was beyond
my comprehension, so I relegated the matter to Old
Nick; maybe the niggers would come to our
whistle and allow themselves to be killed in a
decent manner, anyhow there’s the fall in, so that
I shall shortly ascertain how the oracle is worked
in South Africa.

Of course, during tiffin, I had tried to gather all
the information I could, about the road we were to
travel and the nature of the fighting I might ex-
pect, either en route or on our arrival at our
destination; and had been assured that the road
was a very good one, running through bare open
country, without any cover or bush, the whole
way, that could give an enemy the remotest chance
of forming an ambuscade ; moreover that my spans
of oxen were very good ones, in the fittest condition
and that I should reach the bridge long before the
sun set. So far so good, but when I spoke about
the chances of a scrap, a badly-concealed grin ran
all round the company and the O.C. said, ” Ah,
well, you must tell us all about the fighting when
you come back, for my own part I don’t believe
you will see a hostile nigger/’ This was not cheer-
ful news, nor could I understand it, as why on earth
should a post commandant squeal so loudly for
help, unless the said post was in the greatest
danger ; anyhow my orders were to go to his relief,
so that when the bugle sounded the fall in, I thanked
my entertainers for their hospitality and proceeded
to my wagons.

A SOUTH AFRICAN PICNIC 33

On reaching them, I found the oxen inspanned
and the men in their shirt sleeves ready to move
off, but the worthy Quin was half daft with excite-
ment at the novel outfit, for on seeing me he rushed
up and babbling in his talk exclaimed, ” Oh, be
the holy piper that played before Moses, look at
this, sor, sure they are sinding us to foight nagurs
wid long carts, each cart wid a tint on its tail, pro-
pelled by bulls, sor, wid horns reaching from Hell
to Galway and not a tail tween tin of thim, sor,
and yer honour, sor, no man humps onything but
his own four bones yer honour, and av he gits
tired av thim, sure he puts thim in the tint of
the cart he does, and sor, there’s oat male an
pay male, and the Blessed Saint Biddy only
knows whot beside, an’ be this an* be that, sor,
av the foighting is only aqual to the ating
Africy will be a hard place to bate it will.”
Cutting my faithful henchman’s panegyrics short,
I formed our small column of march and moved
off.

The road I found to be a very good one, the
wagons were light, the oxen in good fettle and as
the men marched in their shirt sleeves, only carry-
ing their rifles and belts, we slung along at a good
pace, reaching our destination a couple of hours
before sunset. As we approached the place, I was
destined to receive another surprise; I could see
the iron bridge spanning the river and noticed it
had been sand-bagged at both ends, which had
turned it into an impregnable fort, at least against
savages unprovided with artillery, especially as
no high ground commanded it in any way. The

defenders were evidently on the alert, as the bridge
c

34 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

simply bristled with bayonets, and the tents of the
garrison had all been lowered by the simple plan
of pulling the foot of the pole out through the door-
way. Come, said I to myself, this looks as if there
were fighting going on and I swept the veldt on
both sides of the river with my glasses, but although
the country was as open as a calm sea and for miles
absolutely devoid of cover, still I could not see a
vestige of any enemy so marched on till we reached
the camp at the end of the bridge. After waiting
a few minutes for a passage to be made through
the sand bags, a big fine-looking, bearded man
came out, evidently in a state of extreme nervous-
ness, who after ejaculating, ” Thank God you have
arrived in time/’ introduced himself to me as the
O.C. of the post. After he had read the written
orders, I had received from Colonel Pulleine, I
asked, ” What is the matter? where are the niggers
and when do you expect to be attacked? ” ” Oh/’
he replied, ” I expect to be attacked every moment,
that bush/’ and he pointed at one at least twenty
miles away, ” is chock full of them, but I have taken
every precaution and have kept the men standing
at their alarm posts.” ” Since when? ” I queried.
” Oh, since yesterday morning,” he replied.
” Then dismiss them at once to their ordinary
camp duties, one sentry on the top of those sand
bags is quite sufficient,” and in a few minutes the
camps were pitched and the men were comfortably
making a lusty supper, off the sumptuous rations
we had been provided with. Next day I started
back to King William’s Town, taking with me the
officer who had caused the scare, where he was
examined by a medical board, when it turned out

A SOUTH AFRICAN PICNIC 35

the poor fellow had had a bad sunstroke in India.
He was invalided to Cape Town where he died
shortly afterwards, fully convinced to the last he
was surrounded by hordes of niggers ravening for
his blood.

CHAPTER IV

PULLEINE’S LAMBS

” They don’t know much of soldiering, and nothing more of drill,
Their discipline is awful, and their language is worse still ;

Sure, it’s enough to dazzle you, to hear the blanks and d ns,

That punctuate the sentiments, of Pulleine’s ruddy Lambs.”

QUIN.

ONE of my earliest commands, and certainly one
of my most amusing and interesting was thrust
upon me at very short notice. In February 1878
I was the guest of Colonel Pulleine of the first 24th
Regiment (now the South Wales Borderers). After
dinner, over cigars he said to me, ” Maori, I have
raised a regiment of Rangers called after me. I’ve
no possible chance of looking after them myself
and the men, though of magnificent stamp, require
a taut hand, and to be knocked into shape. I want
you to ride to their camp across the river to-morrow,
and take command. ” I hesitated and pointed out
that I was a cavalryman and did not care to have
anything to do with foot sloggers; but he insisted,
saying I had already been put in orders for the post.
I was by no means keen on the job, for the men had
already made a name for themselves and Pulleine’s
Lambs, as they were called, were more feared by the
citizens than the Kafirs. But orders are orders
and I obeyed. This is how Pulleine’s Rangers had
been raised.

A railroad was being constructed from Kei
36

THE SENTINEL LAMB.

PULLEINE’S LAMBS 37

Road to Queenstown but the work had to cease
when war broke out and it became a problem what
to do with the men employed thereon, huge English
navvies of the old type. Other works had also
ceased, so Pulleine’s Rangers became a refuge for
the rowdy, dissolute and the desolate. I had been
told that a man brought before the magistrates,
for a rowdy drunk, or other like offence, was often
asked, ” Will you go to gaol or join Pulleine’s
Rangers? ” But it is only fair to say, that in the
field, away from town and the canteens they were
a very fine set of fellows. I was not altogether
happy when, at daybreak next morning, I rode
across the bridge to the camp. Colonel Pulleine
had told me that, as is usual in hot countries, the
parade would take place before sunrise. Well,
here was the camp, but where were the men? and
above all where was the sentry? Presently I saw
a rifle leaning against a bush ; I rode up and saw a
man sitting under the bush. He had no boots or
socks on, and wore only a tattered shirt and a pair
of trousers, of which the less said the better. The
most noticeable thing about him was a huge black
eye, and I don’t think you could have put your
finger upon a sound spot on his face. He had no
hat but in his hands he held a tin pannikin, which
he turned round and round and gazed into its
depths with his undarkened orb. I opened a con-
versation with, ” Who on earth are you? ” He

replied, with much bad language, ” I’m the

sentry, and if I’m not soon relieved I’m
darned if I don’t go home. Who the Hades are
you anyhow? ” I intimated as gently as seemed
necessary that I was his new commanding officer

38 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

but this information did not seem to strike him as a
matter of any importance, for slowly finishing the
contents of his pannikin, he said, ” Just you ride up

to the camp and tell that corporal o’

the guard that I want to come home.” Argument
with this chap seemed useless, so I made my way
sorrowfully up to the camp. I could not see a soul
about. I looked into the guard tent, and found the
guard, more or less battered, fast asleep. I struck
the tent sharply with my sjambok but could get
no answer, so I rode over to the officers’ lines. I
dismounted at the first tent. It was fastened up,
so I thrashed it and shouted. A sleepy voice
inquired, ” Who the such-and-such a place was
there? ” I replied, ” I’m the new commandant.
Come out at once and speak to me.” There were
muttered ejaculations, with much scuffling and
presently two dishevelled objects, who might have
been anything, appeared. ” Your name and rank,
sir? ” I said to the elder of the scarecrows.
” Lieutenant So-and-So,” he replied. Then to
my inquiry, ” Why are not the men on parade,
sir? ” he replied, ” I do not think they care to
turn out this morning.” ” Go and find the regi-
mental sergeant-major, if you have such a person
in this camp,” I said, and he shuffled off. The
other fellow I sent to wake the rest of the officers,
and by this time I had determined, in my mind,
to make more than one man’s life miserable and to
generally twist and cut the tails, of at least, that
mob of Lambs. Presently there appeared a smart-
looking but still rather drunk fellow, trying, as
well as he could, to button his tunic. He was the
sergeant-major and had served in the regulars.

PULLEINE’S LAMBS 39

” I’ll try, sir, but I don’t think they’ll come,” he
said when I had ordered him to turn the men out.
:( Have you any old soldiers, mounted police, or
any men who have ever been under discipline
before? If so march them here/’ He saluted
and presently marched up twenty or thirty men to
me. I told them I meant to have a change in the
camp at once and ordered them to assist the
sergeant-major in turning out the other men.
The force of discipline remained strong and there
were some brisk and lively minutes while they
jumped into the tents and threw out the occupants
head first, and so finally Pulleine’s Rangers fell in.
They mustered about two hundred in all and then
I inspected them. Ye gods! what a crowd of
drunken “scoundrels they were. To the officers
I said, “Go at once to your posts and proceed
with the drill/’ Only one officer knew anything
about drill and what he knew was immaterial, but
at last I set the men lounging about, marching you
could not call it, then sadly rode back to tell Colonel
Pulleine that, until about seventy men had been
discharged and some competent officers secured
we could never form a corps. This was done, and
so we raised Pulleine’s Lambs, a terror to the
country and a nuisance to myself.

A month to six weeks’ hard work and the depot
of Pulleine’s Rangers, at King, presented a very
different appearance to the fold of Lambs that I had
taken over in February; and one day General
Thesiger (afterwards Lord Chelmsford) ordered
me to take command at a farm, belonging to a big
colonial pot who was difficult to get on with and
who required much tact to handle. When I took

40 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

over command, the garrison consisted of two
companies of Pulleine’s Rangers, two detachments
of regular infantry and a body of Carrington’s
Horse. Every morning the owner of the farm,
who would not have been able to have .lived there
had it not been garrisoned, came to the orderly
tent with complaints of the most frivolous nature,
one of them I remember being, that the men sat
down under the shade of his trees. He owned a
valuable old cock ostrich, and one day he came
whining to me with the complaint that the bird
had been stolen by my men. I said, ” What rot!
what could they do with it? It’s only strayed
away.” But he argued on till in despair I ordered
the bugler to blow the alarm, which meant that
every man would go to his alarm post and leave
the camp empty.

” Now/ 7 I said, ” we will go round and search/’
We looked into every tent, in the water carts, in
empty ammunition boxes, and to my annoyance,
he even accepted my invitation to search my own
tent. Then I took up my parable and told him
some home truths. That night there was an awful
row in the lines of the Rangers. Fighting went on
at a high rate, the air quivered with language and
more blood was spilt, in five minutes, than in the
whole of a colonial action. I turned out the rest
of the camp, got the rioters tied up to wagon wheels
or pegged out and the next morning had the worst
cases brought before me.

The first was a huge navvy known as Kentish
Jim. ” You are charged with creating a disturb-
ance in camp and resisting the picket. What
have you got to say? ” He thumped a huge fist

PULLEINE’S LAMBS 41

down on the table before me and said, ” This is
what I’ve got to say.” The colour-sergeant on
duty said, ” Stand to attention.” Again the huge
fist shot out and a gigantic arm swept the astonished
and horrified regular aside, with the words, ” Get
thee away, thee blooming militiaman, I’m a-talking
to the commandant.” Then he turned to me with
” You’re the gent as axed me a question and this
is all I’ve got to say. I’ll be durned if I’ll have any
of that ruddy duck cooked in ma pot.” I gave the
fellow three extra guards, though it was impossible
to deal with men so lacking in any sense of discipline,
and the next day he was brought before me again.
While on sentry over two prisoners (regulars) he
had handed his rifle to one of them and sent the
other to the canteen. When I asked him what
he had to say for himself, he launched out, ” Look
‘ere, mister, I calls this blooming rot. Yesterday
morning, as ever was, sergeant comes to me and
says, ‘ Jim, you’re for extra guard this morning/
an’ I says, ‘ Right, Sergeant.’ So I togs up smart
and gives me old gun a rub up and falls in. Then
‘e puts me in charge of two prisoners, who were to
dig a ‘ole so wide and so deep by twelve o’clock.
So I says, ‘ Right, Mr Luf tenant/ an* marches off.
Then I says to the prisoners, ‘ Now you Tommies,
dig that ‘ole/ and they only says, ‘ You walk about
sentry.’ And, sir, it ‘ud give yer stomachache to
sees them Tommies start to dig. So I says to them,
* Tommies, the gel’tmn says as ‘ow the ‘ole must
be dug come twelve o’clock, thee knows more about
gun than oi does, one of yer take the gun an’ I’ll
shift the muck/ So one of the Tommies took the
gun an’ I soon dug that ‘ole bigger than I was tole

42 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

to. Then I says to t’other Tommy, ‘ ‘Ere, lad, thee’s
doing nowt, take this crown to the canteen and get
beer and smokes.’ And ‘e did so, and we was a-
sittin’ happy by the ‘ole having our beer an’ smokes,
when up comes officer, an’ told me I was a prisoner.
Now I axes you, sir, wot the ‘ell’s the use of that? “

I forget how I punished the fellow, but not
much could be done with a man whose ideas of
soldiering were so lax.

Later on in the year I was ordered to proceed
with my men to the Transkei and take command of
a station, of considerable importance, called
Quintani, where among other details that I had
under me was a detachment of mounted infantry
belonging to that glorious old regiment, the Con-
naught Rangers.

CHAPTER V

FATHER WALSH

I THINK it was in June and July 1878 I took over
the command of Quintani and there, as I said
before, I found a detachment of mounted infantry
belonging to the Connaught Rangers; they were
a warm lot; fine fighters, but having no sense of
meum and tuum. Nothing was too hot or heavy for
them to steal. If it were too hot, they would sit
down while it cooled; if it were too heavy, they
would fetch a bullock cart to carry it off. How
they stole a mission bell, for instance, is a Transkei
tradition but that is another yarn. One morning
soon after I took command they besieged my
orderly tent, and intimated they all wanted to
see me. I said, I could only see one at a time and
presently the colour-sergeant ushered in a big
Irishman with a mouth like a torn haversack.
” Plaze, sor, we hear you do be an Oirishman.” I
owned up cheerfully and asked him what he wanted.
” Sor,” he said, ” we do be onaisy about our sowls.”
” Sowls! ” I exclaimed. ” You can rest perfectly
contented that every man in the detachment is
irretrievably lost. You haven’t got a sowl among
the lot of you possible to be saved.” He over-
looked the remark, and said, ” Sor, we do want to
confess.” ” Better not confess to me,” I said,

43

44 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

” or I’ll have to send every one of you down, to your
headquarters, for a courts-martial.” “But, sor,”
he begins again, “we do sadly want a praste.”
” A priest! ” I exclaimed; ” why, a whole college
of cardinals could do you no good but I’ll send
down country and ask for a priest to be sent up.”
He thanked me, and the deputation went back to
its lines with sighs of relief. The following Satur-
day, Father Walsh turned up and from the first
I took a great liking to him. He was certainly
one of the finest men I ever knew in South Africa,
or anywhere else, as far as that goes. Father Walsh
was a big, raw-boned, Irish priest, with a fund of
droll stories, the courage of a lion, the tenderness
of a woman, and a hearty laugh that was worth its
weight in rifles, when the corps, he happened to be
with, was fighting in a tight corner. A few years
afterwards, in the first Boer War, he happened to
be besieged in a lonely fort and in spite of the wishes
of the young officer, in command, he refused point
blank to consent to a surrender; and he so fired
the little garrison with his own unquenchable
courage that they held out till the war was over
and made one of the few bright spots, in a long
story of British disasters.

All this is a matter of history, as South Africans
know, and it is for me to tell of the man as I met
him. Well, Father Walsh reached my camp on a
Saturday afternoon and we had a pleasant evening.
I had had a church rigged up with tarpaulins and
next morning he set to work to try and ease the
consciences of his parishioners. Knowing that he
could not, as a Catholic priest, break his fast before
saying Mass, I asked him ” when he would have

FATHER WALSH 45

breakfast? ” The holy Father hove a sigh, that
nearly blew me out of the tent and said, ” I shall
be late, very late, as I shall have to hear the men’s
confessions first. ” ” Father/’ I said, ” before you
have got half through those blackguards’ sins, it’ll
be dinner-time and more, I recommend you, so as
to expedite matters, to take them by sections;
however, I’ll have breakfast ready when you’re
through.” The day was miserably cold and wet,
when about noon the Father bustled into my tent
exclaiming with unction, ” Ah, ah, me boy, I want
a drop of comfort before breakfast.” The whisky
bottle was brought out and saluted and then we
went together to the mess tent. No sooner had
we entered, when Quin rushed in with the principal
dish, a steaming, savoury, game stew, the odour of
which being tempting enough to make an anchorite
break his fast during a black Lent. Unhappily,
as Quin entered the tent, he caught his foot in the
curtain and in a twinkling the boiling hot stew was
pouring all down the wrong side of the holy man’s
neck.

Up jumped his reverence foaming. ” Och, yer
clumsy blaggard,” howled he, ” if I were Major

Browne now, I’d call ye a scoundrel, but as

I’m Father Walsh, I only tell ye, ye potato-faced
Irishman, don’t ye do it agin. And seeing by the
cut ov yer ugly mug you’re Irish and knowing you
didn’t come to yer divotions this marnin, I’ll be
after yer wid a kippeen as soon as I’ve broken this
black fast, bad luck to ye.”

Then we soothed and scraped the stew off the
holy man and he settled down to his breakfast,
when presently, being pacified and comforted he

46 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

forgave the worthy Quin and the camp, purified
by his past labours, rested in peace.

Towards the end of 1878 the regular troops
moved back to the base and Colonel Pulleine com-
manding at Ibeka asked me to march down to
King William’s Town, a large party of his Lambs
whose time had expired. Some of the Lambs,
who had been sent down previously, had given a
lot of trouble, getting drunk, raising Cain, and
roaming about the country to the consternation of
the settlers, who had by this time begun to rebuild
and re-occupy their ruined homesteads and who
held Pulleine’s Lambs in greater fear than they did
the Kafirs. On the morning we started down,
Pulleine by way of a joke, said he would bet me a
dinner I didn’t get my party down intact; which
wager I laughingly accepted. As my party
marched on to our second night’s halt, at the Kei
River drift, I saw, to my annoyance, that the hotel
and canteen had been re-opened, so I rode on to
warn the proprietor, saying to him, ” You may sell
the men all the beer you like but no hard tack ” (as
we called spirits in that part). ” If you disobey,” I
continued, ” I will make it hot for you, and if
you’re fool enough, to let the men get drunk, they’ll
make it hotter still.” He agreed. He knew
Pulleine’s Lambs by reputation and swore he would
not sell them a drop of spirits. When the men
arrived, I had the arms piled and before I dismissed
them, I warned them, saying they could have all
the beer they wanted but no spirits. Then hot
with my long ride I went with my four officers, down
to the river to bathe. We were all swimming
about, enjoying ourselves, when suddenly there was

FATHER WALSH 47

a report and a bullet splashed up the water near
my head. Then another whizzed past me and
looking up, I saw three of my precious men, stand-
ing on the trestle bridge, that crossed the river,
taking aim at me. I was exceedingly annoyed,
I hope it was not wrong of me, and I swam ashore
at a racing stroke, urged on by another bullet that
whistled over my head. When I landed I did not
stop to dry or dress, but rushed along, stark naked,
to catch the fellows as they came from the bridge.
On my way I caught up an ox-yoke and armed
with this I met them and dealt out impromptu
justice that soon squashed the mutiny, of which
nothing more was said. I don’t think the fellows
wanted to kill me. Their idea was to give me a
scare by way of protest against my temperance
measure. They however got but little by it. One
of them had gone down with a broken jaw and
another with a smashed shoulder, while I had
difficulty to save the life of the third as my servant
Quin was proceeding to batter his brains out when
Kentish Jim seized him and dragging his prey
from Quin lashed the bounder more dead than
alive to the wheel of a wagon where I kept him all
night.

Then as a female face at the hotel window was
looking rather scared, I bethought myself of
my clothes, and dressed.

I marched my party to the base, leaving the
two injured men in the Koumgha Hospital and as
by doing so I could not claim that the party was
intact Colonel Pulleine won his bet and received
his dinner.

Before I quite disband the Lambs I think I

48 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

might say something more about some of the extra-
ordinary men who formed the nucleus of the regi-
ment and who as a class have quite disappeared
from both England and the Colonies. Wonderful
men they were. I had never met them before. I
shall never meet their like again, so here goes for
my last yarn about the Lambs although many of
them served under me the following year in Zulu-
land, showing that the spirit of the Lost Legion
exists in the heart of the untutored navvy as well
as in the heart of his better born and educated
countryman.

CHAPTER VI

THE IDIOSYNCRASY OF THE BRITISH NAVVY
ON FIELD SERVICE

IT was in 1878 I joined Pulleine’s Rangers. The
yarn of how I came to belong to the Lambs has
been told and also how they were recruited, and
in that yarn I stated, that the nucleus of the regi-
ment was composed of some two hundred British
navvies of the old type, that is now almost extinct.
They were mostly men of from thirty-five to fifty
years of age, big, burly, powerful men who could
work like horses when they were on the job and
who could drink like the Sahara Desert when they
were not.

To see those men shift muck, as they termed
soil, was a treat and to see them shift beer was a
marvel. They were not the kind of men whom you
would make welcome to a tea-fight, or a muffin
wrangle, but at any other sort of combat their
company was to be desired and the stiffer and closer
the engagement, the more would they have been
appreciated.

They were a very fine lot of men, a class quite
distinct to themselves and after the blue- jacket
quite the handiest man I have ever met ; of course
I do not include the regular Frontiersman as he is
in a manner born to bush and veldt work.

In town they were a nuisance to everyone, the
D 49

50 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

military as well as the civilians hating the sight of
them as it meant extra guards and pickets for the
military and the civilian knew that his town would
be painted a more vivid scarlet than even an up-
country colonial desires. Yet they never, to my
knowledge, went out of their way to interfere
with anyone and certainly never molested any
inoffensive man, woman or child. But their drunken
sprees were colossal, their drunken gambols elephan-
tine, and as no law-abiding citizen can look on at
and enjoy more than two fights at a time, it be-
comes somewhat monotonous when there are
perhaps a dozen going on in each street, simultane-
ously, so Pulleine’s Lambs were voted a nuisance
and cordially detested.

The language of the navvy was in a marked
degree free. True, he was somewhat handicapped
as regards the number of adjectives he possessed,
but he tried to make up by repetition what he
lacked in quantity. He was also in a sense colour
blind, or rather I should say he only saw things
in one colour, as he invariably described all things
animate and inanimate a brilliant crimson. He
did not use these two words but implied that colour
by a shorter and perhaps more expressive term.

In town these men were a nuisance, as I have
stated, but get them up country, away from the
beer and vile Cape brandy, and they became quite
different.

Of course, in one sense of the word, you could
never make soldiers of them, yet once in the veldt
with a little tact you could do anything with them.
What Tommy called hard work, road-making,
entrenching, and fort-building was to them child’s

BRITISH NAVVY ON FIELD SERVICE 51

play and as soon as the drink was out of them, they
were most obedient and obliging. Their ideas of
discipline were undoubtedly crude; no chicken
ranch was safe and they were all born poachers,
but then in the veldt, these slight failings did not
matter, as hen-roosts are few and far between and
the game laws such as they were did not hold good
in war-time.

One of my greatest difficulties, up country,
was how to punish them, not for crime, for where
there is no drink and nothing to steal there is but
little crime; but for such offences as being late, or
dirty on parade, it was necessary to inflict certain
small punishments, and these consisted for a time
of doing the camp fatigue work, such as digging
ash-pits and other holes in the ground for camp use.
This sort of work is hated by Tommy but it did
not do for my men and I had to change it, the reason
why I will tell you.

Our camp was at Quintani, in the Transkei,
and we were a long way from any neighbours.

The work was all done. The camp safely en-
trenched and comfortable and there was little or no
fatigue to be done in quarters when the men were
not out on patrol.

One day, it had been necessary for me to punish
two men for being dirty at inspection and they
were ordered to dig an ash-pit, another man being
put on sentry over them. This man, I have
yarned of him before, was a huge navvy called
Kentish Jim. As I was strolling about round the
fort I saw him in charge of the delinquents and
walked past him. After he had saluted me to the
best of his ability he said, ” Beg pardon, sir. You

52 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

are a gentleman and I can talk to you.” I said,
” Not now; if you want to speak to me you must
do so when you are off duty.” He looked unhappy
but said no more. That evening, seeing him hang-
ing round, I called him and said, ” Now then, what
do you want to say to me? ” Quoth he, ” Look
‘ere, sir. This morning as ever was, just as I was
a setting down to a game of banker, sergeant ‘e
comes to me an ses, ‘Jim, you do sentry go over

them two as got toko from commandant this

morning/ I ses, ‘ Right, sergeant/ and I does it.
Now what I wants to know is, who you were a-

punishing of me or them two ? You ses to

them, ‘ You two dirty I’ll give you two

fatigues coz yer can’t keep yer selves clean,

you did/ ” I could have taken my oath I had never
made any such remarks but I did not want to argue
so I let it stand at that and only replied, ” Well? “
He continued: ” Then the sergeant he tells me to

take the two swine and make them dig that

‘ole, and stand by while they did it, or walk about

with a gun on shoulder to see they didn’t

run away. Were the ‘ell are they going to run
to? They wants their dinner come 12 o’clock
they do. They don’t want to run away and I

wanted my game of banker I did and I had

to play silly I ‘ad, with a gun on my

shoulder, and about that ‘ole, call that punish-
ment, do you? Why, to dig a ‘ole like that
wouldn’t make a man sweat a pint o’ ale out of
him if he was lucky to ‘ave one. No, by gosh,
when you wants a -’ole dug you tell me an’ I’ll
do myself proud to dig one for ye, and you let them
dirty swine play silly with their guns

BRITISH NAVVY ON FIELD SERVICE 53

and Jim will get his game of banker and put a

‘ed on the man as don’t do as you tells him, there

now.”

I liked Jim, but had to tell him that that sort
of discipline would be against the Queen’s Regula-
tions, but he was a sceptic. ” Ah don’t believe,”
said he, “the good old Queen, Gord bless her!

ever regelated any such rot. No, it’s old

Gladstone’s work, the old fule, with his Bulgan
‘trocities and sich like, him.”

Jim was decidedly a Tory, but he had given
me a hint and consequently punishment by fatigue
was put on one side and pack drill or punishment
guards, such as doing sentry go over the water-
carts or the cook-house, were instituted instead;
this they hated and in a very short time punctuality
and cleanliness were amply enforced and practised.

I had no chance, unfortunately, of taking these
men into a fight, worth speaking about, but I could
see how keen they were for one. No march was too
long and no shortage of rations ever stood in the
way, but the Fates were not propitious and the
niggers too broken to stand, so towards the end of
the year I received orders that we were to be
disbanded and that I was to take the last detach-
ment, consisting of about 120 men, down country
for that purpose. I had already taken down one
big detachment about which I have yarned
before. That party had been paid off in King
William’s Town and had raised such ructions that
it was determined to give another town the benefit
this time, and Koumgha, a small town in the
Ciskei, and about half-way down to King, was
selected, at which to give the Lambs a chance of

54 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

blowing off some of their steam, blue some of their
money, and quiet down before reaching King,

Koumgha was a small dorp containing a
F.A.M.P. barracks, three canteens, a few stores
and a church. It was also garrisoned by some
companies of the 88th Regiment and the Lambs
could not do much harm there.

Well we reached the place near mid-day, piled
arms and formed camp. The paymaster was
there to meet us and after dinner the men received
four days’ leave and one month’s pay.

I had had the arms, ammunition, etc., placed
in store and the fun began.

Now it is not my intention to write about the
gambols and the bust of the Lambs but only of a
small section of them. Suffice it, they bought all
the women’s clothes in the stores, they dressed
up in them, they danced unholy dances, they fought
many fights and painted the dorp a very vivid red
indeed. But there were eight men who took no
part in these frivolous proceedings. They were
quiet, staid men who had been mates for many years,
always working together on the same railway con-
struction, and having all things in common. They
had occupied the same tent and had always, while
with me, kept themselves apart from the other men,
so they were known to myself and the other officers
as the inseparables.

These men when they received their pay ex-
pended it on bread, cheese, bacon, beer, gin,
tobacco, etc., and betook themselves with their
stores and blankets down to the river bank where,
in the most methodical way, they camped under
some willow trees, running a rope round their camp

BRITISH NAVVY ON FIELD SERVICE 55

to show that for the time being it was private
property and would be defended as such by force
of arms. After clearing the ground and making
down their beds, they sat down to eat, drink and
enjoy themselves.

Any visitor was welcome to food and drink,
but after he had been entertained he must pass on.
The following afternoon I was out for a ride with
one of the officers of the 88th when we passed close
to their camp and to my utter surprise we saw the
finishing round of a tremendous fight between two
of them.

Calling the eldest member of the party to me
I said, ” Sorry to see you chaps fighting; what
is the row about? ” ” There ain’t no row, sir, but
we’ll be proud if you and your friend will drink
a drop of beer along with us.” He then continued :
” We be all mates as you know, sir, and we have
got a big job on the road as soon as we get’s to
King.”

My curiosity was aroused, so we dismounted
and accepted their hospitality as far as having a
glass of beer.

The other men after saluting, still sat, in a
listless way, smoking their pipes and saying no-
thing. Presently one huge fellow got up and going
over to another, who might have been his twin
brother as far as size went, said to him (but without
the least animus or ill-will in his voice), ” Bill,
I bees a better man than you be.” The other
looked up and leisurely taking his pipe from his
mouth, wiping it on his sleeve and putting it
carefully away drawled out, ” No, you ain’t, Dick.”
Then the two of them quietly and without any

56 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

haste, stripped and set to to fight, two others with-
out comment getting up to act as seconds. They
fought four fast rounds but without the least bit of
bad spirit and when at the end of the fourth round
Dick was grassed by a tremendous cross-counter
he was promptly helped up by the victorious Bill
and after they had mutually assisted one another
to wash and dress, they resumed their seats, their
pipes and their beer without any elation on the
part of the victor or depression on the part of the
vanquished. As for the others they seemed to look
on the whole incident as not worth talking about.

Just as we were mounting the same thing
occurred again, one giant lounging up to another
with the formula, ” Alf, I bees a better man than
you be.” ” No, you ain’t, Jack/’ and they started
another desperate fight without the slightest bad
blood or more bad language than they commonly
used in ordinary conversation.

My curiosity was now thoroughly roused and
getting our host out of earshot of the others I
asked him the cause of all this fighting. He
scratched his head and said, ” Well you see, sir,
it’s this way. We be mates. We be each man as
good as the other, and we takes on contract on the
line as soon as you discharges us. So we is just
trying who is best man to boss the show.”

” Why, will he get more money than the rest? “

” No fear, we keeps all money in the same bag,
but us must have a gaffer and best man must be
he.” Now it seemed to me a long and painful
way to try who was the best man. A spin of a coin
might have decided it, but no, they had four days’
leisure, and how could they put in those four days

BRITISH NAVVY ON FIELD SERVICE 57

in a more genial or delightful way than in fighting
with their best friends, solving the problem and
enjoying themselves at the same time.

Of one thing I am certain, that men who could
punch and take a punching from his pal without
a murmur would be an awful fiend in a hand-to-hand
fight with an enemy and I have always had a deep
feeling of regret that I never had the chance of
taking that gang into a real good scrap, as I am
sure they would have exhibited a form that would
have made that fight a record.

CHAPTER VII

LOOT AND SOME LOOTERS

THE word loot to a fighting man has a significance
that renders it almost sacred. It has buoyed up
many a weary and foot-sore warrior on a long and
fatiguing march and has encouraged men, in many a
deed of daring do, from the hour that Tubal Cain
forged the first sword-blade till the present time.
For although, in these degenerate days, it is in-
veighed against by the Exeter Hall, cum-kid-glove,
anti-fighting, peace-at-any-price crowd, yet, it has
been the incentive of nearly all the wars, great
deeds of arms and conquests, that have ever taken
place, since man first of all began to war against
his fellow-man.

Nor are the days of loot over, in the super-
civilized countries of the period. Only a few years
ago the godly Germans looted China, of her ancient
scientific instruments and everything else she could
lay her claws on; while even among the most
sanctified in our own goody-goody country, does
not a right honourable gentleman (!!) boast of
robbing his neighbour’s hen-roost? Why, there-
fore, should the poor, hard-fighting Tommy, be
prevented from gathering a little of the fruit, that
may come in his way, after he had run all the risks
to win the battles for his nation, who pocketing
the lion’s share of the plunder, calls him a thief and

58

LOOT AND SOME LOOTERS 59

marauder. The art of looting may be divided
into many sorts. You can loot the enemy, you can
loot the non-combatants, and the looter may be
looted. What, may I ask, has become of nearly
all the prize-money, earned by the army and navy
for the last two hundred years, and who has looted
our sailors and soldiers of their just share? I am
going to spin you a yarn, the rights and wrongs
of it you must, if you care to read it, decide for
yourself, but it will point out how a poor, hard-
working colonial commandant, through no fault
of his own, nearly got into serious trouble through
the anxiety of some kind-hearted Tommies who
only wishing to please him started marauding.
The facts are as follows.

In 1878 I was in command of an important post
in the Transkei called Quintani, some twenty-five
miles from the Headquarter Camp at Ibeka.
About mid-way between these posts was a ruined
mission station, that had, previous to the outbreak
of the war, been a thriving concern. The enemy
had however looted it, and burnt it down, but, as it
afterwards turned out, had left the detached wooden
belfry standing, and in it swung a scrumptious
bell, which I believe had been the gift of some well-
meaning but misguided English ladies. Now among
the different details of my garrison, as I have
previously mentioned, was a small detachment of
mounted infantry belonging to that gallant and
distinguished regiment known as H.M. 88th Con-
naught Rangers. This glorious corps, during the
Peninsular War, not only earned for themselves an
undying fame, by their splendid fighting qualities,
but they were also designated, by General Picton,

60 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

for other qualities they must have possessed, as
the Connaught Robbers, and the detachment that
served with me had both these qualities largely
developed. Now these M.I. were on the whole
a very fine lot of men, for although, the Fates being
against us, I had no chance of witnessing their
undoubted courage in the field of battle, yet their
cheery behaviour in camp, their good humour, their
anxiety to oblige, and as soon as they discovered
I was a countryman of their own, to render me
any trifling service that lay in their power to offer,
was quite enough to make me pleased and proud
to have the honour of having them under my com-
mand. This good-will, or rather the ways they
took of showing it, was at times very embarrassing
to me and on two occasions nearly landed me in
deep water. Par exemple. First of all, in the
Ciskei, where I originally made the acquaintance
of the mounted company of the 88th, having, for a
short time some of them attached to me the same
boys placed me in what might be called, a very
serious dilemma and through them I suffered a
most unholy fright. I was at the time stationed,
some miles from King William’s Town, and in close
vicinity to my camp were many farmhouses
that had been abandoned by their owners, on the
outbreak of the war, who had left most of their
furniture and many of their belongings, as well as
poultry and vegetables in the gardens, behind
them. Some of the latter, I must confess, came
in very handy for our mess, that consisted of my-
self, a sub belonging to the Rangers, and three
colonial officers, all of them very good fellows, so
we lived and dined well in peace and harmony.

LOOT. AND SOME LOOTERS 61

Of course there were strict standing orders against
looting of any kind, or the destruction of property;
and these orders had just been renewed by General
Thesiger, on his taking over command, and were
fairly well carried out. No Tommy however can
understand why, he should not eke out his hard
rations, with a few vegetables growing to waste,
and as far as the poultry were concerned, I had the
solemn assurance of our cook, Tim Muldony, as
well as my own servant Quin, ably substantiated
by Dennis O’Sullivan and Mike Doolan, henchman
to the Ranger officer, ” that the hins, poor craters,
were that lonesome on the disarted farms, that
they came into camp of their own free will and that,
there was no way, at all at all of kaping the poor
bastes from getting into the pots, God bless thim.”
So that of course after the hins had insisted on
serving themselves up, of their own accord, I could
have no further scruples against eating them.
This was all very well, as long as no tell-tale
feathers flew about the camp, but one lovely
evening, after a hard day’s patrol, dinner being
over, and we squatting on ammunition boxes,
yarned over our pipes, I was unfortunate enough
to remark with a yawn and a stretch, ” I wish to
goodness I had the sofa, out of such and such
farmhouse here; it would be awfully comfy to lie
on and make one’s tent look home-like, and if
we only had the piano, you So-and-So could give us
some music these glorious nights.”

These careless words of mine, were, of course,
regarded by my officers as empty talk but they
acted far otherwise on Mike and Dennis who chanced
to overhear them and who, in their kind-hearted,

62 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

blundering fashion, sought to pleasure me. Next
morning I started with the mounted men and some
Fingoe levies on a three days* patrol and while
returning was met by a mounted orderly, with a
message, that the General would inspect my camp
that afternoon. It was a matter of hard riding to
get there before him but we managed to reach the
post as his escort crossed the ridge not two miles
away. One glance round the camp to see it was
all spick and span, then I rushed to my tent to
try and make myself look pretty. The Ranger
officer had reached his a moment before and I heard
a wild yell of consternation rise from it, which was
augmented by my own pious ejaculation of ” Oh,
Hades! ” an exclamation that, under the same
circumstances, might have been uttered with per-
fect propriety by the Blessed Saint Patrick him-
self. Yes and more, for there, right in front of
me, in my very own tent, stood a splendid sofa
covered with gorgeous chintz; while the Dead
March from Saul, played in a minor key, proclaimed
the nature of the surprise packet that had reached
my unfortunate and evidently despairing com-
panion. There was no time for fuss or inquiries,
we had to bolt on to the parade ground, to receive
the General whose party was by now entering the
camp. I had never met him before, but had a few
days previously acknowledged a memo, directed
to all post commandants, ordering them, to on no
account allow the property of the refugee settlers
to be interfered with. Well here was a pretty
kettle of fish. He might want to stay the night
at my camp, when naturally I must offer him the
use of my tent until his own was pitched. He

LOOT AND SOME LOOTERS 63

might want a meal and the Lord only knew what
plunder had arrived in the rough mess hut during
my short absence. Rumour reported him to be
a very strict, stern officer and judging from my
own tent, the whole camp might have become a
repository for stolen property so that, as he rode
up to the parade I was in a mortal blue funk, while
visions of courts-martial danced before my mind’s
eye, and as I gave the order to ” present arms,” I
devoutly wished that the ground would open and
swallow me up. Had I only known then, what a
kind-hearted, courteous and considerate man I
had to deal with, I might have spared myself half
my apprehensions, for directly he rode up to me he
said, ” Please dismiss the men at once, Com-
mandant Browne, I see you have just come off a
long patrol, I have no intention of troubling you
to-day but will inspect you on my return. ” On
my asking him if he would not dismount and have
some tea, he answered, ” Oh, no, thanks, I shall
ride on to Haynes’ mill, but, before I go let me
impress on you the absolute necessity of seeing
that the General Order regarding the deserted
farms is carried out to the letter, as so many com-
plaints have come in from the owners, but I am sure
you will do that. Good afternoon. Come, gentle-
men, let’s move on.” With that the dear, good fellow
rode gaily away, leaving me planted there, offering
up praise and thanksgiving to the Blessed Saint
Nicholas (patron of defaulters and worse) for my
merciful escape. Then to interview the delinquents.
So after dismissing the men, I went with the other
officers to the mess hut, which was also used as the
orderly room. On reaching it, I might have again

64 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

broken out into paeans of gratitude for my wonder-
ful preservation; as the hut built of grass and
covered with a bucksail, that had at the moment
of my departure, only contained an old packing-
case for a table, and empty ammunition boxes for
seats, was now furnished with a fine hardwood
dining-room table, eight chairs and two bent-wood
American rockers, while round the flimsy, grass
walls, through which the wind had beforetimes
whistled, were now hung curtains of various pat-
terns, to say nothing about lamps, and goodness
only knew how much other gear now embellished
our, at one time, sordid hut. If there was anything
wanting to make the tableau complete, there stood
the four sinners, all in a row, evidently expecting
unlimited kudos and each with a suppressed grin
of exaltation and self-satisfaction, spread all over
his expressive mug; that tempted me sorely to take
and knock their blundering heads together.

We entered the hut and sat down. For a few
moments I said nothing but only regarded the
quartette with as grim and stern a look as I could
call up, until, I saw the complacent smirk gradu-
ally die out of each face and they began to get
decidedly uncomfortable. Then I said impressively,
” I am sorry for you men, but there is no hope for
you. You will all be certainly hung in three days’
time; so I should recommend you all, to turn to
and make your sowls, for mercy you can’t expect
in this world.”

A wild howl broke from the four miserables.
” Och, willie waroo,” whined Mike, “is it to be
hung we are, sir? an’ what for at all at all? “
” Didn’t we do it just to make your honour and our

LOOT AND SOME LOOTERS 65

officers homelike and comfortable? ” groaned
Denis. ” And me,” yelped Tim, ” wid the most
lovely turkey in the pot, so tinder it’s just falling
to paices it is, an’ divil a feather flying about to
give it away at all at all. Och murther, Major, it’s
not thaives we are ; sure did we not lave the illigint
stove half-way, so heavy it was, it near bruk our
backs, it did.” ” An’ if we did drink wan bottle
of whisky,” chimed in Quin, adding more with
sorrow than contrition, ” didn’t we lave tin bottles
behind us?” Then all together in chorus : ” Och,
Major dear, sure it’s yerself as will spake the good
word for us, sure you’ll not let that blaggard Provost
hang us, och mille murther an’ turf,” etc. etc., and
the laments of the sinners rose high.

” I should like to speak for you,” said I, ” but
you have heard the orders read and you have
broken them with your infernal marauding. No,
I fear there’s no hope for you.” Then turning to
the other officers I asked, ” What do you think,
gentlemen? ” ” No, sir,” said one of them, ” not
the least hope in the world, the General is sure to
hang them as an example to others.” ” Yes, sir,”
said another, ” but perhaps if you spoke very hard
for them he might let them off with twenty-five
lashes apiece and ten years’ prison ; that is to say,
if they have taken nothing that can’t be replaced.”
” Och, och, by this and by that,” roared Mike,
” we’ll take ivery bit ov it back, even the stove,
if we do break our backs wid it, the black baste, may
the cuss o’ Crumell rest on it, we will indade yer
honour.” But the humour of the whole show was
getting too much for me and I also wanted to slake
my thirst, so to cut it short I said, ” Quin, get us

E

66 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

something to drink and have a bath ready for me
in ten minutes. The rest of you scoundrels get
about your business, until the Provost and escort
come for you; but here you, Doolan, run to the
conductor and tell him to have a wagon inspanned
to-morrow morning ; and as for you, Muldony, if you
give us a good dinner to-night maybe I’ll spake
the word that will save that fat back of yours from
a scratching. Be off wid yer now.” Exit the bandits,
while we sat back in the luxurious chairs, laughed
our fill, congratulated ourselves on our miraculous
escape and drunk the General’s health out of cut
glass tumblers, instead of the usual chipped panni-
kins. A few minutes afterwards, I revelled in a
big bath, instead of sponging myself out of a stable
bucket, and for that night we all enjoyed, what the
worthy Quin called ” civoilized convaniences,”
even to the use of the piano. Next morning
the wagon returned all these ” convaniences “
back to their proper places, even the stove, bad
scran to it, so that the General when he inspected
my camp, which he did three days afterwards,
found it pure and clean in more ways than one and
had only praise and good words to give me; which
would not have been the case, had he done so, on
the date he originally intended. But it was the
mission bell I started yarning about, so let me try
back and regain the spoor.

Well the only thing of any appreciable value,
left at the plundered and burnt-down mission, was
the wooden belfry with the bell still slung aloft in
it and this attracted the attention and excited the
predaceous instincts among a party of the afore-
mentioned M.I., who while acting as escort, to a

LOOT AND SOME LOOTERS 67

ration wagon, had to outspan and camp near the
mission for a night, on the trek from Headquarters
to Quintani. Now the road ran some little distance
from the mission and as the bell was not noticeable
from it, neither myself nor officers were aware of its
existence, but two of these Tommies, with the usual
restlessness and inquisitiveness of their kind, must
needs go and poke about where they soon discovered
it. Of course the first thing to be done, was to
pull the still attached rope, when the bell gave out
a doleful clang. ” Be gobs but that’s a foine bell,
Moike,” quoth Pat. ” It’s all that an’ more, Pat/’
assented Mike. ” Sure ‘twould be an illigent thing
to put up in camp an’ bate the hours on,” said the
first villain. ” It’s a bhoy of discarnment ye are,
Pat, but how’ll we git it down? An’ maybe it’s
sacrilege ‘twud be.” ” Divil a bit,” asserted the
tempter, ” sure it’s only a nagur convinticle, and
thim black heretics at that, an’ tell me, didn’t they
burn the church down thimselves, the black-
advised divils; an’ whose to know they didn’t burn
the bell down too, bad luck to the blaggards.
Anyhow we’ll have the blessed bell. Sure ’twill
pleasure the Major, he’s so proud of the camp,
he’ll be woild deloighted wid it.”

There was no need of further argument; the
brace of worthies promptly set fire to the long,
thick, dry grass that had grown, in rank profusion,
round the foot of the wooden edifice which, being
sun-dried, quickly ignited and soon the pride of the
late mission came down with a crash.

It took all hands and a couple of yokes of oxen
to drag the fallen tinkler up to the wagon which
had to be half unloaded before it could be stowed

68 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

away, and then having made everything fast again,
the sacrilegious gang, thoroughly pleased with
themselves, ate their supper and slept, I have no
doubt, the sleep of the just, without any twinges
of remorse or conscience. Now it must have taken
these fellows at least two hours’ real, hard work,
to carry out their nefarious act, which if they had
been ordered to do as a fatigue, after a day in the
saddle, they probably would have grumbled at,
deeply if not loudly, yet here for sheer mischievous
devilment they had imposed the labour on them-
selves and then retired to rest as contentedly as a
pack of school-boys after a feast of stolen fruit.
Two days later I was sitting writing in my tent
when, to my unbounded astonishment, I heard the
hours of noon struck on a fine-toned bell and at
once ordered the word to be passed for the sergeant-
major who belonged to Pulleine’s Lambs. On his
arrival I demanded, ” Where did the bell that has
just been struck come from? ” “I dinna ken,”
he replied; “’tis those wild Irish (he was an Ulster
man himself) have just rigged it up, sir.” ” Go
and fetch their sergeant-in-charge,” I said, and
presently as smart and trim a man, from West
of the Shannon, as ever served Her Gracious
Majesty, stood before me. ” Sergeant,” said I,
” where did you get the bell from that I have heard
struck? ” ” Oh, sor, we’ve just put it up, thinking
‘twould be a convaniency to bate the hours on,
sir, an’ ud please yer, sir.” ” Yes, but where did
you get it from? ” ” ‘Deed, sir, I didn’t get it at
all at all; sure ’twas Corporal Finacune an j the
last escort as got it, sure ’tis a wee bit ov a bell, sir,
and a convaniency to bate the hours on, yer honour,

LOOT AND SOME LOOTERS 69

an’ no use to them black nagurs at all at all, sor.”
” Here let me see your convaniency and go and
bring Corporal Finacune to me.” So leaving my
quarters I walked to the guard tent and there in
front of it, slung on strong poles, was a splendid
bell that I knew, although no judge of the cost of
musical instruments, must, with the transport,
have cost a lot of money. But how the deuce
could it have fallen into the clutches of these
beauties? One glance was enough to show me it
was a church bell, but there were no churches within
a hundred miles of that part of the world and I did
not know, nor could I conceive that a nigger mission
should have ever possessed such an expensive
article. Anyhow, Corporal Finacune might be
able to throw some light on the subject; presently
he hurried up. ” Corporal,” said I, ” where did
you get this from? ” ” Sure, sor, ’tis* a bell, sor.”
” Yes,” said I,” that I can see for myself, but where
did you get it from? ” ” And we thought it wud
be a convanience to bate the hours on, sor, and be a
pleasure for ye’s, sor.” ” Yes, but where did you
get it from? ” ” Is it get it yer want to know,
sor? Sure we didn’t get it at all, sor, we just
fetched it along, sor, as we thought it would be a
convaniency ” Yes, yes, but where did you
fetch it from? ” ” Fetch it from, sor; sure we
didn’t fetch it at all at all, the wagon fetched it, sor,
and we thought it wud be moighty convanient “
” Confound your convanient, how did it get on the
wagon? ” ” Sure, sor, did we not near break oui
hearts, let alone our backs, lifting it in the wagon,
an’ we thought ” ” Damn your thoughts, where
did you lift it on to the wagon? ” ” Sure it was on

70 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

the road from Ibaky, sor; ’twas Pat O’Rafferty an*
Mike Frinch as found it, tying lonesome on the
felt, poor thing, and onable to bate itself at all
at all, it was so we thought it wud be conva “
” Oh, bad luck to your convaniency; if you fellows
don’t take care, a courts-martial will find it con-
vanient to put more stripes on your back than you
will ever wear on your arms ; now be off with you.”
Exit Corporal Finacune and the sergeant, the former
trying to look dignified, but just as they passed out
of earshot, I heard him mutter, ” No matter,
sergeant, we’ve got the bell and the Major’s as
pleased as if another boy’s best girl had just kissed
him.” Now as I said before, I was quite unaware
that the looted mission had ever possessed a bell
and all my officers were in the same state of blissful
ignorance, so that although the conversation, for
the next few days, dwelt on the subject, of how the
deuce a bell of that size had ever got into such a
remote part of the world, yet, as none of us ever
dreamt that it could belong to the mission we kept
it in camp and made use of it as a convaniency to
bate the hours on ; moreover men belonging to the
Lost Legion are used to finding queer things, in
out-of-the-way parts of the world. I had once,
myself, found the figure-head of a big ship on the
top of a mountain in the centre of the North Island
of New Zealand; so that shortly we ceased to talk
about it and with the exception of hearing the hours
beaten on it forgot it altogether. I individually, I
must confess, delighted in it, as in more ways than
one, it gave tone to the camp and I have always been
very particular about the neatness, comfort and
appearance of my temporary homes. Besides

LOOT AND SOME LOOTERS 71

which it was safe where it was, should I be called
on, at any date, to return it to its rightful owners.
Time passed, the boys of the 88th had rejoined
their own regiment, when I was visited by Colonel
Glyn, then in command of the Transkei, and on a
tour of inspection. I had known him many years
and the inspection being over, we were sitting in
my tent chatting, when the confounded bell struck
the hours of noon. The Colonel, good man, was
at the moment imbibing liquid refreshment, and
as the clang of the first beat struck his ear, he gave
a jump like a wounded buck. ” Good God, Maori/’
he spluttered, in the midst of his coughing, for the
liquor had gone the wrong way and nearly choked
the dacent ould gentleman; ” what on earth have
you got there? ” “Oh, it’s only a bell, sir, we
beat the hours on,” I remarked innocently enough,
surprised as I was at his flurry and heat. ” Only
a bell!” he howled; “only a bell. Oh, Maori,
you sacrilegious beggar, you’re in for a pretty
scrape; here are all the dignitaries of the Church
complaining to the General and raising Cain in the
press, accusing the troops of being marauders and
with sacrilegiously stealing some infernal bell or
other. I have denied this, but here I find the
beastly thing in your camp, sir. Why on earth
can’t you leave their wretched missions alone,
sir? You’ll find yourself in the wrong box, sir,
if you interfere with these missionaries and their
loot. What the which the where the ” and
the dear old fellow bubbled away until I thought
he would chuck an apoplectic fit. Then at last
I took the chance of getting a word in edgeways
and explained matters so as to somewhat pacify

72 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

him, while a good lunch soon afterwards and a
better dinner that night thoroughly restored me
to his pristine friendship. Still, all that afternoon
and evening I noticed the old fellow cock his ear
whenever the bell was struck and several times I
heard him mutter, ” A very fine bell that, deuced
good tone, handy to have in a big camp, thrown
away here,” etc., etc., and next morning after a
good breakfast, just previous to starting off, he
said, ” Maori, have that bell put into my wagon,
I shall take it into Headquarters and see that it is
returned to the proper authorities; by doing so,
I shall doubtless make your peace with them,
especially as I shall tell them you will pay all
expenses of having it re-hung, etc., and I think you
will have got off very luckily. Good-bye, my dear
boy, ride in and see me at Ibeka, if you have a
chance and you might try to pick up a few par-
tridges on the way; those we had last night were
very good. And now then take care of yourself,
and whatever you do, don’t steal any more church
bells. Good-bye/’ and with this parting benediction
the dear old chap cantered gaily away in a heavenly
temper and, I have no doubt, as full of good in-
tentions, concerning the bell, as Hades is of non-
juring parsons. His parting order was obeyed,
the blessed bell was sent into Headquarters and for
some days myself and men missed, with regret, its
silvery tones; but it was gone, and there was the
end of it as far as myself and Pulleine’s Lambs were
concerned. Yet I was destined to hear it again
and that not in its mission belfry. No, it was still
doing better service in the world. For on my
riding into Ibeka, a short time afterwards, not for-

LOOT AND SOME LOOTERS 73

getting to take with me some partridges, as in-
structed by the Colonel, I was guest in the camp
of his gallant corps and again heard and recognized
those sweet tones I knew so well, announcing the
hours as they had done for me.

” You have a fine bell there,” I remarked to a
pal. ” Yes/’ said he, ” a very fine one, and we’re
all very proud of it; the Colonel brought it back
with him the other day. I wonder where the old
boy picked it up quite an acquisition to the camp,
is it not? ” ” Yes, quite,” said I, with a heavy
sigh, and for a few moments I meditated on the
dishonesty and looting propensities of some people
in this world.

Many years have passed since then, but some-
times I wonder, whether that bell still records the
hours for that gallant regiment, or if it has gone
back, to summon greasy niggers to attend worship
they don’t understand; as it was originally in-
tended to do by its benevolent though misguided
donors. And now before I spin you grimmer yarns
let me tell you a brace, that I trust will amuse you
as during a war humour and pathos are often told
off in the same half section.

CHAPTER VIII

GRAND ROUNDS AND THE BLUE-JACKET
SENTRIES

YES, I have often stated and still maintain that the
gallant blue- jackets, who served Her late Gracious
Majesty, were second to none, either as fighting
men, during the stress of war, or when out for a
frolic in times of piping peace and moreover that
their quaint acts and remarks have often caused
a hearty laugh to those, having a sense of humour,
who have been lucky enough to serve in the same
outfit with them in the field, or to have witnessed
their high jinks during their well-earned hours of
liberty. Let me spin you a yarn about a brace of
them I came in contact with in the Kafir War of
1877.

It happened in this way and the scene was
Ibeka, the Headquarter Camp of the British Field
Force in the Transkei, and the date some time in
December 1877. At the outbreak of the war,
H.M.S. Active, then flagship on the South African
station, had landed a strong party of blue-jackets,
who came up-country to bear a hand in twisting
old Kreli’s caudal appendage, and on the day the
occurrence I am going to tell you about happened,
had marched into Ibeka and pitched their tents
at some distance from the remainder of the camp,
which was a very straggling one spread out on the
crest of a long ridge.

74

THE BLUE-JACKET SENTRIES 75

Now at this time there were many shaves and
picket-line yarns (rumours) flying around and on
the day the blue- jackets joined up, it was reported
that the enemy was going to make a night attack
on the camp, so that although none of the senior
officers believed this to be likely, still the O.C.
considered it to be prudent to make arrangements,
so as to give the Kafirs a warm reception should
they attempt any such movement and in conse-
quence sentries and pickets were doubled, while
the remainder of the men were warned to hold them-
selves in readiness to turn out at a moment’s
notice. As it chanced, I happened to be field-
officer on that night, coming on duty at guard
mounting, and of course a portion of my work con-
sisted in visiting all the posts, pickets and sentries
during the night.

This was rather a long and tedious job as the
camps of the various units were much scattered
and at a considerable distance from one another,
so that it necessitated my making my rounds
mounted and even then it would take me a long
time to do the work thoroughly. The night
turned out to be a very fine one, with a splendid
moon, that shed so brilliant a light, that I could
easily have read big print by it; not a breath of air,
not even the smallest bit of mist in the sky, so that
the whole country lay open like a book. The long
grass round the camps had been all burnt away
for a considerable distance, so that not a single
man, much less a large body of the enemy, could
possibly approach our lines without being im-
mediately spotted. At 9.30 p.m. my orderly
together with four other troopers and a trumpeter

76 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

brought round my horse and I started my first
tour of inspection. ” Not much chance of any fun
to-night, boys/’ I said, as I swung myself into the
saddle and let my eyes range over the moonlit veldt ;
‘ this is not the sort of night a mob of niggers
would select on which to rush a camp; but no
matter, half sections right, walk march,” and we
moved off.

In due course of time, after visiting all the
pickets and outposts of the main camp, I at last
approached the lines of the Naval Brigade, which
were on the extreme left and some little distance
away from the other units. As I rode, towards
their advanced post, I could plainly see the two men
on sentry, one of whom was standing up, while
the other, in accordance with orders, was lying
prone on the ground, and of course they had not
the slightest difficulty in both seeing and hearing
my small party of horsemen as we approached them.
We were still perhaps a hundred yards or more
from them, when the man standing up brought his
rifle to the port, emitting, at the same time, a
bellow that boomed across the silent veldt and for
a minute quieted the chirping of the astounded
ground crickets. ” ‘Alt, who goes there? “
” Grand Rounds/’ I replied, wondering if his
stentorian hail had alarmed the whole camp and
fully expecting a general turn-out, or at least the
pickets would stand to their arms. Of course I
had brought my party promptly to the halt and
for some moments waited patiently for the con-
tinuation of the challenge, viz., ” Halt, Grand
Rounds, advance one/’ etc., but somehow that
blue- jacket did not seem to be fully conversant

THE BLUE- JACKET SENTRIES 77

with military tactics or etiquette, for after shuffling
about for a few moments and fumbling with his
rifle he brought it to the order and, in what was
evidently meant to be a propitiatory tone of voice,
rumbled out, ” Come on, Mr ‘Orse Hofficer, I knows
as ‘ow you ain’t no ruddy nigger.” As this was
evidently all the military ceremony I was going to
receive, with a quiet chuckle to myself and a
smothered guffaw from my troopers, we rode up
to him, when I repeated to him the usual formal
challenge and gently intimated that as in a short
time I should be again passing his post I should
expect to be challenged in a proper manner. This
I did, not that I was a pedantic stickler for red
book formula or ceremony and well knew that a
sailor makes a sentry second to none in the world,
still as I was forced to again pass his post on my
return journey, approaching it from the other flank
and being sure Jack would make an awful hash of the
challenge, I was prompted by the imp of drollery
to hear how he would mix up the instructions I
had bestowed on him. To my gentle admonition
he respectfully replied, ” Ay, ay, sir/’ and I con-
tinued my rounds. After I had visited the other
posts and made certain everyone was on the qui vive
I wheeled about and returned towards the right of
the camp, eventually reaching the one at which I
had received the unorthodox greeting. As I rode
towards the spot I could plainly see the same men
were on guard though they had changed places, i.e.,
the one who had been originally standing up was
now lying down, so that our approach was chal-
lenged by another voice of perhaps not quite such
a voluminous timbre, but still quite loud enough

78 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

to wake a stone-deaf man, and again, ” ‘Alt, who
goes there? ” rumbled across the moonlit veldt.
Again my party halted and I answered, ” Grand
Rounds; ” but again, notwithstanding my previous
careful instructions, the sentry was evidently
flummoxed; for after hawking and clearing his
throat a few times, he turned to his recumbent
companion and giving him a kick in the ribs, that
was enough to stave in the plates of a battle-ship,
he growled out in a voice, meant to be a whisper
but which was audible at twice the distance we
were apart, ” Jack, Jack, rouse up, ye lazy swine,

‘ere’s that as calls hisself Grand Rounds come

agin, git up yer waster and sling him ‘is ruddy
patter/’ Up jumped Jack and the earth shook
with his bellow: ” It’s all right, Mr Grand Rounds,
pass and all’s well.”

ARCADES AMBO

There is no doubt that even in England itself,
the country that boasts of being the birthplace of
free parliamentary institutions, and of possessing
the most ancient Parliament in the world, one that
has existed for hundreds of years and has been
the model from which all other nationalities have
more or less copied their houses of representatives,
that many queer fish are, even at this modern
epoch, being returned as M.P.’s by the free and
independent electors. Yet such queer fish, and so
many of them, are returned as members that a
looker-on, possessing no party politics, may often
wonder what on earth ever induced human beings,

THE BLUE-JACKET SENTRIES 79

outside a madhouse, to elect such utter rotters to
represent them at the grave deliberations that
frame laws for the guidance and safety of our
mighty Empire.

This being so, in the Mother Parliament, it is
not to be wondered at that in the Colonial houses
of representatives some very strange species of
bipeds, who emerging or being extracted from the
back blocks or up-country constituencies, take
their seats. It may be true that these creatures
are cute and crafty men, in their own pettifogging
line of business, and are quite capable of roping in
their full whack of whatever is going worth having,
yet so far as the knowledge of the Empire* s history,
let alone that of classic nations, are as ignorant as
the beasts that perish. This being the case, at
the present moment, it can be easily understood
that years ago, when representative government
was first granted to the various Colonies, the queer-
ness of the politicians who attended them was
more remarkable, and that very many of them were
as unfit to legislate as they were to mix in polite
society.

It was in the year 1878, when the Gaika and
Galeka Wars were still in progress, that I was
ordered to proceed from Cape Town to East London
in command of a party of irregulars destined for the
front, and for that purpose we embarked on one
of the Union Company’s ships which was proceed-
ing to Natal, calling in at all the ports along the
coast. At the time of which I am writing there
were no railway communications between Cape
Town, Port Elizabeth or East London, and any
travellers journeying from the capital to the

8o A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

eastern provinces of Cape Colony, must proceed
by ship, via one of these ports, so that many more
passengers were sea-borne in those days than there
are at present. The voyage also took longer time,
as not only were the boats slower but the loading
and discharging of cargo, at the various ports, were
far more difficult, breakwater and harbour accom-
modation being then in their infancy.

Few people who travelled in those days will
ever forget the horrors and dangers of the swinging
basket, the foul stench and discomfort of the filthy
serf boats, or the vile language and the brutal
blackguardism of the ruffians who manned them:
truly travelling in South Africa is luxurious in
these days to what it was in the seventies. Well
one fine afternoon we steamed out of Cape Town
docks, the boat being fairly full of passengers
bound up the coast, as well as my filibusters. The
passage was a very pleasant one and I enjoyed it
thoroughly, laying in as much fun as possible so
as to last out a long stay up-country as I knew my
destination was the Transkei and there was no
society to be got up there. In the saloon there
was a typical South African crowd as well as a
number of new chums transferred from the lately-
arrived mail boat. Here you could see a group of
over-dressed Hebrews, whose villainous faces and
worse manners stamp them as denizens of Hounds-
ditch and the various continental Juden Strausse re-
turning from their home trip to their I.D.B. pur-
suits at Kimberley.

Eyeing them with contempt and aversion are
a few diamond-diggers returning from the Old
Country. Then you have a handful of military

THE BLUE- JACKET SENTRIES 81

men en route to join their various corps at the
front, while merchants, returning from England,
and Cape Town, together with bagmen, interior
traders, farmers and a sprinkle of Germans, Dutch
and Portuguese collectively make up a polyglot
gang rarely met with in other parts of the world.
Acquaintanceship was very easily made on a South
African coasting steamer and, before we had been
twenty-four hours on the water most of the
passengers, with the exception of the I.D.B.’s, who
frequented the smoking saloon and liquor bar,
were on speaking terms, so that the conversation
became general and many a good yarn was spun
and listened to with avidity. Now amongst the
passengers were two men between whom no special
amenity was exchanged; the rest of us soon
tumbled to that fact and at first rather wondered
at it, as there was no very striking difference to be
observed between them either in breeding, manners
or conversation. They were both of them middle-
aged, vulgar, ostentatious, ignorant cads who, having
for some incomprehensible reason been returned as
members to the brand-new Cape Parliament, were
on their way home after having misrepresented
their constituencies in the deliberations of the
Colony.

What their original quarrel was about none
knew nor cared, but it was generally supposed that
each man gave the other credit of having over-
reached himself in some piece of underhand job-
bery, which as they were, both of them, up-
country canteen and winkel keepers was more than
probable. Be this as it may the brace of them
were inordinately proud of being M.P.’s, and each

82 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

man tried to run the other down and belittle him
behind his back, while both of them bragged
enormously of his own sterling qualities that had
raised him to the proud pre-eminence of senatorial
rank, of his visits to Government House and his
own unrivalled knowledge.

Well, we reached Mossel Bay and anchored
there for a couple of days and then steamed on to
the Nysna where we again dropped our mud hook.
This latter place is celebrated for a forest con-
taining a large number of elephants and is the only
district in Cape Colony where these majestic animals
still exist and in which they are strictly preserved
by the Government.

This being the case the conversation, in the
smoking-room, naturally turned upon elephants
and as there were two or three interior traders and
hunters among the crowd, elephant yarns were the
order of the day. Now for various reasons this
conversation greatly interested me. True I had
only been a year in the country but had already
gained sufficient experience to grasp the fact that,
the great drawback to South Africa was the lack
of sufficient transport. I had experienced the
heart-breaking slowness of the ox- wagon for military
purposes and had heard how difficult it was to
convey heavy machinery to the diamond fields,
so that hearing there were numerous elephants so
adjacent to Cape Town, I asked the question why
they were not captured, tamed and trained as is
the case in India. To this query of mine an old
settler answered that, it was an accepted fact, the
African elephant was untamable but to this I dis-
agreed, asking if the attempt had ever been made

THE BLUE-JACKET SENTRIES 83

and arguing that the elephants used in Europe by
the ancients, notably by Phyrus, were most pro-
bably African ones and that the Carthaginians
certainly used them.

Now, there were some dozen men in the smoking-
room, at the time, imbibing their anti-tiffin bitters,
among whom was one of these obnoxious M.P.’s
and the discussion became general each man giving
his opinion.

One of the military men quite agreed with me,
stating that it was an historical fact that Jugurtha
had to pay a yearly tribute to Carthage of so many
elephants and that it was an indisputable fact that
Hannibal imported them into Spain and took them
across the Alps, with him, when he invaded Italy,
these beasts being, in his opinion, African ones.
Up to this time the M.P. had sat silent, none of us
taking any notice of him, but it was contrary to
the bounder’s nature not to try and shove himself
to the front, so he burst into the conversation with
the remark, ” Of course, ‘e ‘ad helephants with
‘im, or ‘ow could he have pulled ‘is cannons over
the ‘ills, trek oxen could never have done it.”
For a minute we all stared at him in awe and silence,
then a grizzled old interior man articulated, ” Han-
nibal, you say, pulled his cannons over the Alps
with elephants ? ” ” Ja, how could ‘e have pulled
‘is big guns over with oxen or mules? ” and it was
only the thick upper deck which prevented the roar
of ribald laughter, that burst simultaneously from
all of us, reaching and disturbing the sweet little
cherub that sits up aloft. Anyhow, if it did not
disturb the aforesaid cherub, it considerably dis-
turbed the M.P., who opened his little pig’s eyes

84 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

and glared at us, evidently shocked and surprised,
that humble, insignificant mortals should dare to
laugh at any remark made by a man of his rank
and smell. But he could not overawe us, for the
more he glared the more we laughed, until at last
he wheeled about and stalked out of the port door-
way with a look of indignant disgust on his face,
that simply sent us into fits. Just as his back
disappeared out of the port door, his hated rival
entered through the starboard one, who looking
round demanded, ” Wot are all you gents laughing
habout? Tell us the joke/’ As soon as one of us
could get his wind he informed the new-comer we
were laughing at his brother member’s assertion
that Hannibal had made use of elephants to draw
his cannon across the Alps. At once the second
Solon broke out ” Ho, ho, ho, the ignorant ass,
as if ‘Annibal would ‘ave tried to ‘ave pulled his
cannon over the Halps. Not ‘e, why, he’d have
loaded ‘em up on the elephants’ backs, just the
same as I’ve seen pictures in the Illustrated London
News of the Army carrying theirs in India and
Hafghanistan. That’s how ‘Annibal got his big
guns over the Halps, you bet.” Again from sea to
heaven went up a mighty roar, at which the
bumptious rotter opened his mouth and stood
speechless, glaring at us like a lion at bay, then
turned his back and leaving his bitters untasted
stalked out, in exactly the same way as his oppo-
nent had previously done. Of course the joke ran
all through the ship, and up to the time they landed
at Port Elizabeth they were pestered with queries
as to the weight and number of Hannibal Barka’s
train of artillery.

CHAPTER IX

THE ZULU ARMY

TOWARDS the end of 1878 all the Imperial Troops
in the Transkei arid at King William’s Town re-
ceived orders to proceed to Natal as a dark thunder-
cloud lowered over the garden colony of South
Africa and that great and good, though in the
future to be much maligned, statesman Sir Bartle
Frere was taking, with his usual acumen, such steps
as he could, to guard against the threatened danger.
Earlier in the year the goth Regiment under
Colonel E. Wood, one battery of Artillery under
Colonel Tremlett and the Frontier Light Horse
(late Carrington’s Horse) under Commandant
Redvers Buller had marched overland, so that by
the end of October all the regulars had vacated
the Transkei and the country was handed over to
the care of Colonial officers and magistrates. I
was myself still at Quintani, waiting to be relieved,
when it was my intention to return home, but the
same day my relieving officer arrived, I received
a letter from Colonel Glyn telling me, that he had
not the slightest doubt, but that war was imminent
with the great Zulu nation, that, in case it took
place, he would command one of the columns
intended to invade Zululand, and requesting me
to come down country, for, as he was sure I should
offer my services, he was making arrangements for

85

86 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

me to be appointed to his command. This was
very flattering and as I had no wish to arrive at
home during a winter, although thanks to the
splendid climate of the Transkei I had quite re-
covered my health and strength, I determined to
comply with his wishes, especially as I was certain
the Zulus would put up a fight well worth a Lost
Legionary, out of employment, taking a hand in.
I therefore packed my belongings into a mule cart
and, with Quin, started hot-foot for King William’s
Town, which we reached on the morning of the
same day, the 24th, entrained for East London;
so that I was able to have an interview with Colonel
Glyn who directed me to remain in King and assist
Commandant Rupert Lonsdale to raise officers and
non-commissioned officers, who were to form the
staff of one of the regiments of Natal natives, the
General contemplated organizing for the ensuing
war.

On the completion of this work, which lasted
only a fortnight, myself and Quin started as an
advance guard to East London, so as to secure
accommodation for the 60 officers and the 120
non-coms, that had been engaged, should the
state of the weather render the river bar un-
crossable. I had just finished the business and
was making for the hotel when, from out of a gang
of loafing surf-boatmen rose the titanic roar,
” Gord strike me lucky, if there ain’t my old mess-
mate and skipper/’ and in a moment my hand was
nearly wrenched off by old Jack Williams, who had
formerly been an old tent-mate of mine, when I
had originally joined the Lost Legion, some years
previously, in New Zealand and whom I had last

THE ZULU ARMY 87

seen as bos’n on board a brig, of worse than
questionable morality, among the South Sea
Islands. I was very glad to meet the old pirate
once more, while his delight was expressed so
noisily, that it immediately attracted all the
roughs in the vicinity who were thunderstruck to see
one of their no class fraternity shaking hands with
a smartly-uniformed officer and at once crowded
round us in such a manner as to incommode and
annoy me. This old Jack spotted and immediately
started to remedy after his own fashion which was
effectual if not polite.

” ‘Ere sling yer ruddy ‘ooks, yer steamboat,
makeshift, brass-polishing sodgers, who axed yer
to shove yer blooming oars in? Do ye think as ‘ow
an hofncer as is a gen’leman wants to be lumbered
up with the likes of ye? Yer rotten beachcombers,
‘ere get.” And they got, with the exception of one
huge ruffian who demanded, ” Who the ‘ell was
a-going to make ‘im shift ‘is kedge? ” Old Jack
quickly set his mind at rest on that point, as with-
out another word, he sprung at him, seized him by
the collar and waist-belt, shook him as a dog shakes
a rat and hove him, staggering back, until he
collapsed into a muddy sluit, which contained old-
time fish heads and other decayed, unprofitable
matter; where he lay vomiting language filthier
than even the ditch in which he reclined. I fully
expected that Jack’s impetuosity would cause a
row, as the cursing blackguard had evidently a
following, but my surmises were incorrect as after
hauling their mate out of his wallow, they retired
uttering threats and maledictions, couched in
language, sufficiently torrid as to have blistered

88 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

off the white-wash from the inside of a newly-built
Nonconformist conventicle. So it was evident to
me, that Jack Williams had established a reputa-
tion, among the unhung blackguards of East
London boatmen, such as to make him feared and
respected. Truly a man can thrive for a long time,
in many classes of society, on his reputation, be it
either for sanctity or high-toned blackguardism.
As soon as we were alone, Jack demanded, ” where
I was bound for.” And on my informing him I
was en route for Natal he at once exclaimed with
more cuss words than I care to recount or any
printer would dare to set up, for if he did, they
would most certainly fuse his machine, ” Wot,
going up to fight ruddy niggers are ye and got
Quin along with ye too, I’ll bet, so be it as ‘e’s still
alive and hearty. Well darn my rags if old Jack
Williams don’t sign on the same ship’s articles,
seeing as ‘ow I ‘aven’t done a bit for the Queen and
flag, Gord bless ‘em, since we was up Taupo way.
Wot do yer say? don’t throw up a good-paying,

steady job? D n jobs when there’s fighting

going on ; I ships I do and so does my mate ; you can
trust ‘im, we signs on to-night we do, and if ye want
any more men there’s a few ‘ere about among this
scum as I’ll answer for. Yes, I’ll ‘ave a drink
along of you and I’ll be a proud man if ye’ll let me
pay for it; ‘twon’t be the first un we’ve ‘ad to-
gether, old mess-mates as we are ; though in course
the likes of you can’t be pals with the likes of me,
I’m on the foke-sel head I am, and you’re on the
ruddy poop you are, so as I signs right on, just give
us yer flipper and let’s have a last hand-shake, God
bless yer.” Old Jack rambled on till we reached

THE ZULU ARMY 89

the hotel and had our drink, but he was wrong
about the last hand-shake, that eventuated many
years afterwards, as it was gripping my hand, in a
far-off country that, world-wanderers as we both
were, neither of us had at that time ever heard of
that old Jack Williams one-time pirate, filibuster,
sea-ruffian and loyal soldier to his Queen and
country, took his last departure from land, mast-
headed his top-sel yards and set sail on a longer
voyage than even he, tough old shell-back as he
was, had ever previously signed on for. But that
day was still far away in the womb of futurity and
even had we been able to foresee the event it would
not have spoilt our drink as Lost Legionaries
learn, early in their career, to laugh at the nose of
the grim monarch come he as he may. That even-
ing Jack brought up and introduced to me Bill
Conway (his mate) who had likewise used the sea all
his life and possessed an unholy knowledge of the
South Sea Islands; in fact it is my belief, though
old Jack would never own up to it, that both of
them were badly wanted in those parts of the world
and had had good and sufficient reasons for trans-
ferring their persons from the romantic islands to
the more prosaic continent of South Africa. Of
course this was only conjecture on my part but I
noticed once or twice, on my mentioning the Brig
Karl and Bully Brag, both of them wilted and
seemed strangely uncomfortable, especially about
the neck. However it was no business of mine
and I had seen many a man, whose departure from
his country had simply been an act of injustice
to the common hangman, die like a hero in the
dense bush of New Zealand and sure it’s much

90 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

better and a heap more economical to let a real
fighting man, who had run foul of his country’s
laws, die fighting for his flag, than to put the said
country to the expense of judges, juries, sheriff,
hangman and rope to ensure the same purpose.
Next morning Commandant Lonsdale and his
party arrived, the bar was propitious, the tug with
the boats were ready and as the tide suited in less
than an hour we were on board the Union Company’s
s.s. Nubian and on the third morning, after leaving
East London, dropped our anchor off Port Natal,
as Durban was commonly called in those days.
Here we also found the bar on its best behaviour
so quickly landed and marched the men to the rest-
camp at Durban. The following day we entrained
for Pine Town, from whence we started to march
to Pietermaritzburg, but at a place called
Camperdown we found the General’s mule cart,
the driver of which handed Lonsdale a note, which
contained the order that he and myself were to
make use of the cart and report at Pietermaritz-
burg without a moment’s delay. Of course we
entered the cart and started gaily on our way, but
before we arrived at our destination, and just as
we had reached the bare top of a high hill, we were
struck by the most terrific thunderstorm I ever
have had to face. The driver lost his head, the
six mules maddened by the vivid lightning and the
lashing hail became unmanageable, we had to
jump out and rush to their heads, the force of the
wind overturned the cart, and for at least twenty
minutes, if ever two men, on this earth, smelt h 11
it was Lonsdale and myself. I had experienced
as heavy squalls of wind before, and since then have

THE ZULU ARMY 91

seen hailstones pierce corrugated iron roofs like
rifle bullets, but I have never before or since seen
such lightning and certainly never want to again.
It seemed as if we were enveloped by continuous
electric flashes that came so quickly one after the
other as to be contiguous and so close to us that
if one of us had let go his grip on the mules’ head
collars, he could have dabbled his hands in liquid
flames. Nor could we use our hands to shelter
our eyes as we had to hang on to the mules and the
skin on my face seemed to grow hot and blister as
if Ould Nick was shaving me wid the spear-head
he wears at the end of his tail. Well the storm
like everything else came to an end, so that after
we had righted the cart, straightened out the mules
and harness, and administered toko to the cowardly
driver, we again got into the cart and arrived,
drenched through and plastered with mud, in
Pietermaritzburg. Here I stayed a week and
as the final arrangements, re the formation of the
projected invading columns, had not been definitely
settled, by Colonel Glyn’s desire I marched with
Lonsdale’s party through Grey Town and the
Thorn country to Sand Spruit where we formed a
large camp on a flat and awaited the arrival of his
native rank and file, who were to be handed over
to him there, by the resident magistrate of the
district. While we are halted here I think I may
tell you some few facts about the Zulu army we
were to encounter and which was the most perfect
organization ever completed by a savage race;
in fact Tchaka, the founder of the Zulu nation,
planned and enforced universal conscription to its
utmost limitations. I am therefore quite justified in

92 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

stating that the whole of the Zulu people was
really an army as both boys and girls had to serve
in regiments and although I do not wish to infer
that the women went on the w r ar-path, still every
girl was bound to join a female regiment (ibuto)
and forced to parade when her ibuto was ordered
to dance before the king or even to marry when
the girls composing her ibuto reached a marriage-
able age. The boy however went through a
very severe course of training, beginning while
still young to prepare for his military service and
as no deformed children were allowed to exist and
no peace-at-any-price fathers or radical orators
were tolerated for a moment, the lad was very
anxious, or at least had to pretend he was, to be-
come a warrior.

As soon as a youth was ten years old he might
be inspanned to carry the swag of his father, uncle
or elder brother on the war-path ; which would con-
sist of a sleeping-mat, water-calabash, cooking-pot,
docha-pipe, a few pounds of dried meat or mealies
and perhaps a spare assagai and knob-stick.
When he reached the age of fourteen or fifteen he
would be drafted with other boys of his own age
to the nearest military kraal where he would have
to do fatigue duties, herd and milk cattle, fetch
firewood, etc., at the same time being taught how
to use his arms, how to fence with sticks, military
drill and dances. During this period of his training,
provided he wanted to eat, he had to skirmish
around and find or steal the materials for his meal
as the only provision for his sustenance, made by
the kraal commandant, were a number of the
wildest cows, drawn from the royal herd entrusted

THE ZULU ARMY 93

to the care of the regiment, and these unruly
animals the recruit boys had to run down, hold
and milk before they dined. This was very rough
training and a boy had to be soundly constituted
to survive the ordeal of his initiation into military
life. As soon as a lad was old enough to be con-
sidered fit for active service he might be drafted
into a regiment, or if there were enough boys fit for
the purpose they might be all formed into a new
regiment, each sub-tribe forming its own company,
while warriors of repute were selected by the king
to officer it. A Zulu regiment numbered from
three to six thousand men and had its own kraal
at which the men on duty lived, and a newly-
formed regiment would have to build its own
barracks, break up ground for cultivation, and
when this was done it would receive a name from
the king and be considered a unit of the royal
army. Should any individual soldier or number of
soldiers greatly distinguish themselves in action,
he or they might be drafted into one of the royal
regiments and also be rewarded by receiving per-
mission to marry a reward highly thought of and
much prized, as he then could mount the head
ring (kehla), the mark of manhood, which would not
otherwise have been granted to them until they
were at least thirty-five or forty years old, nor
would they have been permitted to marry till then.
A warrior’s war outfit consisted of a shield
made out of dried ox-hide, oval in shape, about
2 feet 6 inches wide and long enough for the owner
to look over, when he held it by the middle of the
strengthening stick that ran up it lengthways.
His offensive arms consisted of from two to three

94 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

assagais, one of which would be the stabbing
assagai (bogwan) that had a blade of at least a
foot to 18 inches long fixed to a strong shaft of
wood of about 2 feet in length. This weapon, as
formidable as the short stabbing sword of the
ancient Roman soldier, was never thrown but only
used in hand-to-hand combat, while the others, if
carried, being much lighter might be thrown, though
the Zulu warrior was not encouraged to throw his
assagai but was taught to rush in, defend himself
with his shield and stab home with his bogwan.
He also carried a knobkerry and a plain stick both
made of hard wood. His food, carried for him by
a boy, consisted of a small bag of dried meat and
grain, but as all the kraals, on the line of march,
had to contribute to the maintenance of the king’s
troops very little food was carried on an expedition.
A force equipped, as above, could easily march
30 miles a day and put up a big fight at the end of
their journey or if necessary cover 50 miles a day
and continue to do so for weeks at a stretch, so
that an army opposed to them must always be on
the alert as no cavalry could keep pace with them
over rough and broken country. Their favourite
time to attack was the early morning, their plan
being to surprise and envelop their enemy, when
they would rush in and kill everything with the
exception of the girls and cattle.

The Zulu discipline was very strict, disobedience
or neglect of duty being punished by death; in
fact death was the only penalty served out and the
guilty one might not only bring death to himself
but to all his family and friends; so it behoved a
Zulu soldier to obey and obey smartly. He showed

THE ZULU ARMY 95

no mercy, he expected none, and when ordered on
active service he well knew he must conquer or
die for certain disgrace and death, probably torture,
awaited a beaten army. A Zulu soldier, whether
married or not, had to put in six months out of the
year, under arms, at his military kraal ; the balance
of the year he might go home but was always liable
to be called out at any moment, not only in case
of war, for his regiment might be required to do
duty at the royal kraal, also at certain feasts the
majority of the army would be mobilized, before
the king, for the purpose of showing off their
capabilities in drill and dancing. At such times
petitions might be presented to the sable potentate,
who also took the opportunity of rewarding or
punishing those brought before him. The most
frequent petition was for permission to marry and
at times the king would allow aspirants to holy
wedlock to prove their right to be considered men
and perhaps test their capability of managing a
wife in the following way : A wild and savage bull
would be turned loose into a large enclosed space
and a dozen love-lorn young men sent in to kill
it with no weapons except their bare hands;
should they succeed in killing the bull the king
granted their request and they were contented;
while if the bull killed them they were also con-
tented or at least never complained.

There was great rivalry between the various
regiments and even between companies of the
same regiment and the king would occasionally
allow, or even order, one corps to fight another,
in which combat only sticks were permitted to be
used, but as a shillelagh made of hard and unbreak-

96 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

able wood and handled by a man trained to use it,
is by no means a despicable weapon very many
on both sides would be maimed and killed.

The Zulu march was usually conducted in
single file, the companies moving in parallel lines,
while each regiment would take its own line for the
objective point, and on reaching that point, or
rather some given spot a few miles short of it, the
leading files of each petty column would halt and
the rear close up, until each company formed a
dense mass of men in a ring formation, as the Zulu
was quite incompetent to form or advance in line.

The regiments having converged together the
chief induna (General) would give his orders for the
attack and the regiments be formed up to carry
them out. In case it should be a laager, camp
or village to be stormed, the youngest regiments
would be placed on the flanks whose first duty was
to surround and completely envelop the enemy,
thereby preventing the escape of any fugitives
and these men were called the horns of the army.
The main body, called the chest of the army, never
moved until the flankers had taken up their posi-
tions. Then a combined attack would be made but
always the junior regiments were first engaged.

The Zulu well understood the utility of a flank
attack and should the position of the enemy be so
extended or their numbers be so great that the
Zulus could not surround them they would still
try to out-flank them, but all attacks, whether
frontal or flanking, were first made by the youngest
regiments and should these be beaten back then
the more matured and veteran soldiers moved
forward to do the work. The oldest veterans

THE ZULU ARMY 97

formed the reserve which encouraged the fighting
line and killed any combatant who turned tail.

The Zulus had no field ambulances, so after
a fight the wounded were examined by their
indunas and if found to be unable to march or to
be otherwise seriously hurt were put to death,
usually by drowning, provided a river was close at
hand, otherwise he was put out of his misery by his
nearest relation. After the fight at Rourke’s Drift
we found on the banks of the Buffalo nearly one
hundred blood-stained shields on which their
wounded owners had been carried down to the
river so as to be drowned. The Zulus were very
superstitious, being great believers in omens,
witchcraft, divinations and bone-throwing and also
believed that the moon exercised great power for
good and evil and that at certain phases of the
luminary it was lucky or most unlucky to undertake
any important act especially that of war.

The numerical strength of the Zulu army has
always been disputed but I am of opinion that it
must have been near sixty thousand men at the
declaration of the war and these men, trained as
they were and as mobile as monkeys, were not an
enemy to be sneezed at, much less to be treated
lightly. Now I have told you something about the
Zulus I will go on with my yarn. Two days after
our arrival at Sandspruit, some two thousand five
hundred natives reached us who had to be formed
into battalions and companies and put through
such drill as it was possible to teach them in less
than a fortnight. Of course to try and teach a
mob of savages, who did not understand one word
of English, in such a limited space of time, the

9 8 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

intricacies of company drill or battalion movements
was absurd and I was far from pleased, after we
had been at the game for a week, when the General,
as he passed through on his way to Helpmaker,
told me I was to take command of the ist Battalion
of this nigger regiment. However the eve of
war is not the time to grumble and I remembered
what slashing good fun I had had in days gone by
with the native contingents in New Zealand, so
although I had been looking forward to having
the command of a troop of mounted scouts still
I made the best of it and set to with redoubled
energy to knock my battalion into shape. Three
days after my appointment to the 3rd Natal Native
Contingent we were ordered to strike camp, proceed
to Rourke’s Drift and remain there till the arrival
of the rest of No. 3 Column, to which we belonged.

CHAPTER X

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND

BEFORE daylight on the morning of the loth
January 1879, the headquarter column of the
Zululand Field Force began to cross the Buffalo
River at Rourke’s Drift and enter Zululand.

I had a few days before been appointed Com-
mandant of the ist Battalion of the 3rd Regiment
of the Natal Native Contingent, composed of ten
companies. Each company consisted of three
white officers, six white non-com, officers and
one hundred or more Natal natives. The exact
number of natives I never knew but I had about
twelve hundred of them in all.

The officers were chiefly a smart lot of young
Colonials, most of whom spoke Zulu, all of them
good shots and fine horsemen.

The non-coms, were a motley crowd, a few
of them old soldiers and ex-clerks, the majority
of them runaway sailors, ex-navvies, and East
London boatmen. They were an awful tough
crowd, but they looked a hard-fighting lot and
though their language was strong, and they were
evidently very rough, they looked also very ready,
and I afterwards found that most of them did not
belie their looks. The greater number of both
officers and non-coms, had served through the
Gaika and Galeka wars of 1877 and 1878, and
many of them had been under me before.

99

ioo A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

The column was commanded by General Lord
Chelmsford and was composed of both battalions of
the 24th Regiment, one battery of Royal Artillery,
two companies of Mounted Infantry, the Natal
Mounted Police, the Natal Carbineers, and the
3rd Regiment of Natal Native Contingent, of which
Commandant Lonsdale was commandant-in-chief,
I commanding the ist and Commandant Cooper
the 2nd Battalion. Of course we had doctors,
ambulances, commissariat officers and the usual
miles of wagons, without which no column can
march in Africa.

The morning was very cold, the dense morning
fog, for which Zululand is famous, hung close to
the ground, and although it was midsummer the
cold bit, causing us to shiver in our thin khaki
clothing, whilst the naked natives turned blue,
their teeth chattering like stone-breakers at work.

There were four crossing-places to the river,
a very rapid one and on that day in flood.

Two of these were fairly practicable drifts
(fords), and two ponts that had been put together
by the Royal Engineer officer and some of my
non-coms. These drifts were above and below
the ponts and my orders were that I was to cross
at the lower drift, line the ridge on the other
side and hold it while the 24th, the guns and the
wagons were got across by the ponts.

The Mounted Infantry were to cross after my
men and the mounted volunteers were to cross
after Commandant Cooper at the upper drift.

Well before daylight in the bitter fog, we came
down to the drift. The river was full, rapid and
very cold and looked far from tempting. How-

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND 101

ever orders must be obeyed so we hardened our
hearts and dashed at it, the natives all locking
arms and rushing in en masse. My horse was nearly
carried off his feet but having been used to crossing
bad rivers in New Zealand, I kept him up and
over we got. I do not know how many of my
natives were lost. I had never received a long roll
of them when I took over the command, and but
few returns were ever sent in.

A most dashing act was done at the drift by
Captain Hayes who was in command of my rear
company.

One of the Mounted Infantry, a poor horseman,
lost control of his horse, and horse and man were
swept down the river. Captain Hayes who had
crossed, dashed in and saved both. This was done
under the eye of the General who mentioned it in
dispatches, and who rode that night to my camp
to thank Captain Hayes personally.

Now we were in Zululand, cold, wet through
and shivering with our tempers short and crisp.
The Colonial can grumble just as well as an old
Tommy, and he has, as a rule, more command of
language. However it did not take me long to
get my men into line, and we pushed on, up the
rise, and took possession of the top of the ridge,
which we lined.

Just then the sun came up and away went the
fog. For the first hour or so we enjoyed it. But
when our clothes were dry we began to get dry
ourselves and I may say we dried very quickly and
soon began to scorch.

There was no shade and as the sun increased
in heat, there we lay on that bare ridge and roasted

102 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

all that live-long day. Certainly we had plenty
of water nearly as warm as ourselves, but that
scorching sun would have been less intolerable had
we been on the move.

There was no enemy in sight, nothing to do,
conversation died away, it was too hot to sleep,
even the East London boatmen could not curse,
and the only thing I could do was to stick four
assagais into the ground, rest a shield on them,
lie with my head in the shade of the latter and
think of iced drinks.

How we white men longed for the enemy or
anything to break this monotony, but no enemy
came. Although Serhio (one of Cetewayo’s principal
indunas (chiefs) and one of the chief causes of the
war) had his kraal only a few miles off, he refused
to call on us for afternoon tea, but we called on him
for early coffee next morning.

However the longest day must have an ending
and at dark the pickets were posted, and we were
ordered down to the camp that had been pitched
in a long line on the Zulu bank of the river.

Now I do not want to rake up old stories or say
anything unkind about men, most of whom are
dead. But in the book of Standing Orders, issued
to all commandants, the first order was that no
camp should be pitched without being laagered.
Yet here was a camp, stretching away in a long
line, without any attempt at a laager or any other
defence.

After a feed of bully beef and biscuit washed
down by a pannikin of muddy coffee, the first
food that day, I had just finished my pipe and was
rolling myself up in my blankets when the orderly

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND 103

officer arrived with the order that I was to parade
eight companies of my men before daylight and
join the party that was to attack Serhio’s kraal
next morning.

It seemed I had hardly been to sleep, when the
faithful Quin roused me up with a pannikin of
coffee and it was a case of turn out and get my men
together. We had some trouble in turning out
the natives but it was done at last and we marched
off, being ordered to take post in rear of the mounted
advance guard, the sun rising as we crossed the
ridge and advanced on the precipitous Krantz
where Serhio had his stronghold.

As we got nearer we could hear the lowing of
cattle, the sound coming from a deep cleft running
into the precipice. Just then the screen of mounted
men moved away to the right and left and I re-
ceived orders to advance to the front.

It may be as well here to say something about
the arming of my motley gang. My officers and
non-coms, were each armed with M.H. rifles and
each carried seventy rounds of ammunition.
Fifty more M.H. rifles were distributed amongst
the natives, but as they were quite ignorant of the
use of rifles, and the M.H. is not a rifle to be played
with by a duffer, we were ourselves in far greater
danger of our own men than the enemy were.
Fifty more old muzzle-loading rifles were provided
but I did not fear these so much, as the natives
usually forgot to tear off the end of the paper
cartridge or placed it in ball part first, so that
the rifle refused to go off. We certainly had no
time to instruct them in musketry but as only five
rounds, per man, was issued, I trusted, with luck,

104 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

to get through the job without being shot by my
own niggers.

The rest of the force had shields, assagais and
knobkerries and I made up my mind that the closer
the action was the safer it would be for me. I
therefore determined to charge the first moment I
could. But alas ! I did not know then, in what an
awful funk the Natal Kafir was of the real fighting
Zulu.

Anyhow the mounted men cleared my front
and I pressed on, passing Lord Chelmsford and his
staff who up to that time had accompanied the
advance guard. The General returned my salute
and calling me over to him said, ” Commandant
Browne, those Krantzes are full of cattle ; go down
and take them but on no account are you to fire
before you are fired at.” He also said, ” I shall
hold you responsible that no women or children
are killed.”

He then wished me luck in the most kind and
courteous manner a manner that endeared him
to all of us. No General that I ever served under
in South Africa, was so respected and liked as he
was, and certainly, no Colonial officer ever said a
word against him or blamed him for the awful
disaster that came later on.

Well I got my men into line and advanced to
the first fight in Zululand. Previous to moving
off I repeated the General’s orders to my captains,
at the same time telling them to impress on their
men that any man who hurt a woman or a child
would be shot at once. I then gave the order to
advance, and we moved on to the Krantz in what
might be called a line, but a very crooked one, as a

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND 105

South African native cannot walk in a line, draw
a line, or form a line, and if placed in a line will
soon mob himself into a ring.

The Krantz was a precipitous mountain about
500 feet high, and where the enemy and the cattle
were located was in a deep cleft running in V shape,
the foot of the hill being covered with boulders and
bushes.

My men advanced leaping and jumping, singing
war-songs, sharpening their assagais, and looking
so bloodthirsty that I feared they would kill every
woman and child we came across. But as we drew
nearer the scene of action, their zeal for fighting
like Bob Acre’s courage oozed out of them. Their
war-songs dwindled away and they seemed indis-
posed to come on. In fact some of them suddenly
remembering they had important business to trans-
act towards the rear had to be encouraged with
the butt of the rifle or the ready boot of my non-
coms. As the native must be led, myself and all
the officers were in front. This being the case, and
we being far more in funk of our playful savages
armed with M.H. rifles than of the enemy, I gave
orders that there was to be no firing but that we
must trust to the steel.

As we neared the place I observed I could send
a party to the right and left of the V-shaped
entrance. I therefore detached the two flank
companies, and when they had moved off to their
assigned places I again advanced.

A voice hailed us asking by whose orders we
came. My interpreter and right-hand man (Capt.
R. Buncombe) answered ” by the orders of the
Great White Queen ” and the enemy, or those of

106 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

them who had exposed themselves, at once ran
back to cover. I again ordered the advance;
a few shots were fired at us, and I immediately
gave the word to charge and led it, followed splen-
didly by No. 8 Company, commanded by Captains
R. Buncombe and O. Murray. A ragged volley
was fired at us by the enemy, but we charged on
through it and up the rising ground to the mouth
of the V which we found to be full of boulders.
I had gained the mouth when I looked back. Ye
gods of war, what a sight for a commandant!
No. 8 Company, led by two of the best Colonial
officers I have ever met, were on my heels, but
the rest. I saw their backs in a mad stampede
while among them raged their furious officers and
non-coms.

Above the rifle shots rang out their wild impre-
cations while with butt, fist and boot they tried to
instil courage into that awful mob of cowardly
Kafirs.

Now I must say a word about No. 8 Company.
Among my 1200 men I had 300 real Zulus. They
were the remains of a young Zulu regiment that
had been destroyed by Cetewayo’s orders the year
before. He had ordered a fight to take place, with
sticks, between them and his own royal regiment.
The youngsters had beaten their seniors, and this
so enraged the king that he turned Serhio’s regi-
ment, armed with shields and assagais, on to them
who had decimated them. This was not cricket,
as the boys had only their sticks, however some of
them had escaped to Natal with Esikota, the king’s
youngest brother, and these 300 men were quite
game to return and play another match, backed

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND 1:07

up by white men, with their destroyers. Their
contempt for the Natal Kafir was unbounded, and
they were splendid fighting men. They formed
three of my companies, Nos. 8, 9 and 10. No. 9
was in camp. No. 8 was with me and No. 10 was
one of the companies I had sent to work round the
enemy’s flank.

I left off, as our charge swept into the mouth
of the V. Here the Zulus, who had up to this time
been firing at us from under cover, met us and for
a time we had a sweet hand-to-hand fight. Shield
clashed against shield, assagai met assagai and the
hissing word ” Guzzie,” as the stab went home, was
answered by the grunt or yell of the wounded man.
I had my hands full and had to use freely both
sword and revolver. The enemy fought splendidly
but my men would not be denied. Had not Serhio
been the induna (chief) of the Impie who had killed
their brothers, and would they not have their
revenge ?

My white officers and non-coms, also fought
like fiends and we drove them back over the rocks
and round the rocks until at last they took refuge
in rear of the cattle jammed into the narrow end
of the V. These had to be driven out before we
could get at them again and it was done; also a
lot of women and children were brought out.
Thank the Lord none of them hurt, and they with
the cattle were removed to the open. We now
found that the enemy had retreated by a narrow
path to the top of a cliff about 60 feet high and
had blocked the path by rolling big boulders into
it.

They opened fire on us, which although hot

io8 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

was very badly directed and my officers and non-
coms, returned it with interest.

Just then Lieutenant Harford of the ggth
Regiment, who was acting as S.O. to Commandant
Lonsdale, came up to me. He was a charming
companion, one of the very best, but he was a crazy
bug and beetle hunter, and would run about on
the hottest day with a landing-net to catch butter-
flies and other insects. He moreover collected
and treasured snakes, scorpions and loathsome
beasts of all sorts. He had never been under fire
before and had on two or three occasions talked to
me about a man’s feelings while undergoing his
baptism of fire, and had expressed hopes he would
be cool and good while undergoing his. Well we
were in rather a hot corner and he was standing to
my right rear when I heard an exclamation, and
turning round saw him lying on the ground having
dropped his sword and revolver. ” Good God,
Harford,’ 1 I said, “you are hit!” “No, sir,”
he replied, ” not hit but I have caught such a
beauty.” And there the lunatic, in his first action,
and under a heavy fire, his qualms of nervousness
all forgotten, had captured some infernal microbe
or other, and was blowing its wings out, as uncon-
scious of the bullets striking the rocks all round
him as if he had been in his garden at home. He
was just expatiating on his victory and reeling off
Latin names they might have been Hebrew for
all I knew or cared when I stopped him, and told
him to get as quick as he could to the right flanking
company and hurry them up. He looked at me
with sorrow, put his prize into a tin box and was
off like a shot.

j ‘ : :.:/ *

CHARGE AT SERHIO S KRANTZ.

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND 109

All this time my bold runaways had been
absent, but now they returned in this manner.

There was in the second 24th a major (Wilson
Black by name), and Commandant Lonsdale having
been knocked over by sunstroke during the previous
day, Major Black had been placed, for the time
being, in full command of the 3rd N.N.C.

He was a Highlander, brave as his own sword,
tender-hearted as a woman, hospitable as a Maori,
but with a temper well, may I say it, just a little
peppery. He had served through the Crimea
and Mutiny with, I think, the Black Watch, and
I had only met him the night before.

Up to this time he had been with the 2nd
Battalion of the 3rd, but when he saw the undigni-
fied retreat of the greater part of my men, he drew
his sword, and quickly bringing forward a strong
party of the 24th, with fixed bayonets, he rode right
at them. They were now between the devil and
the deep sea. They were already catching toko
badly from their own white officers and non-coms.,
and as if that was not enough here comes a man on
horseback followed by a lot of those red soldiers,
who with flashing steel, were rushing right at them.
It was too much. They had to turn back and
with their officers trying to get them into some sort
of shape they were driven at the point of the
bayonet back to me. When they arrived Black
burst through them and joined me. At once they
halted. Forward they would not come, back
they could not go, for there was that awful line of
the red soldiers with fixed bayonets, and among
them raged their own white men. So they did
just what I expected they would do; every man of

no A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

them who had a gun let it off, quite regardless as
to the direction the business end pointed, and they
fired away as fast as they could load.

In vain their officers ordered them to cease fire,
in vain their non-coms, kicked and cuffed them;
fire they would and fire they did so long as they
had a cartridge left.

Well that was a very sultry spot indeed for
the time being but there is an end to most things
in this world and, thank the Lord, their fire-play
soon ended.

Some of them rammed their cartridges down
bullet first so they became harmless as their rifles
refused to go off, and as it does not take a raw
savage long to let off five rounds of M.H. ammuni-
tion when he aims at nothing the firing died away
and we were again able to pay attention to the
Zulus. We also counted our dead and wounded
and I found that my beauties had bagged thirty-
two of themselves, but I could well spare them.

I do not believe that the enemy were responsible
for a single one, their fire having been kept down
by my officers who perforated every head that was
raised to fire at us, so the firing ceased. Yet we
were at the base of a 6o-foot perpendicular cliff and
could not get at them and I saw at once that we
must wait for the flanking companies to work round.
They were having a hard job getting at the spot
on account of the roughness of the ground but
there was nothing else to do.

Major Black thought otherwise. How he ex-
pected to scale the cliff I know not, but he got to the
foot of it and shouted for rifles to come on. He was
standing with his back turned to the rock and was

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND in

waving his sword when the Zulus hearing him rolled
over some stones; one struck the gallant Major
on the well, not on the head and he fell on his
knees and poured out a volume of Gaelic that
filled my non-coms, with delight.

It might have been prayers he was letting go,
but the volubility and unctuousness forbid that
idea, and they all thought, though they could not
understand one word of his orison, that he was
using very bad language indeed and all the more
they admired him.

A few minutes before Colonel Glyn and Major
Cleary had come up and were standing by me.
We were unable to restrain our laughter and burst
into a roar as Black limped up to us cursing, in
good Anglo-Saxon, the Zulus for wounding a gentle-
man in a place he could not show to anyone but
the doctor.

However he was not much hurt and soon
recovering his temper joined in the laugh.

The flanking companies had by this time
worked round and Lieutenant Harford who had
joined one of them shouted to the Zulus that if
they surrendered they would not be killed.

This they did, and the fighting, as far as I was
concerned, was over for that day.

The mounted men who had gone to the top of
the hill had a sharp skirmish with a large party of
the enemy, these being joined by the Zulus who
had escaped from me. But they were easily routed,
the troopers pursuing some distance and killing
a good few.

Leaving one company behind me to collect
our own wounded, I joined the main command

1 12 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

with the rest of my men and we returned to camp
for the night. Serhio had been well punished,
his big kraal had been burned, two of his sons were
among the dead, some of his daughters among the
prisoners, and his pet herd of cattle had been
captured.

If you wish to know the cause of the war I
must refer you to Blue Books for the information.
It was no business of mine and my opinion was not
asked on the question.

Next day (the I2th) we rested in camp, and my
natives asked for an ox, to medicine themselves
with. This I gave them hoping the ceremony
might instil some courage into them, as they
swore it would, but I had no idea of the diabolical
cruelty they were going to practise on the poor
beast or I would have seen them in Hades first.
Anyway, something must have gone wrong with the
performance as their courage did not increase but
rather diminished. However I will not touch on.
the subject of Kafir witchcraft, but pass on.

During the day the General visited my camp
and kindly thanked me for the work of the day
before. He also requested me to present to him
Captains Buncombe and Murray.

The same evening I received orders to strike
camp, and at daylight to move out to the scene
of the late fight, and camp there with the object of
making a road over a swamp, so as to allow the
heavy wagons to advance.

We moved out and camped, but when it came
to road-making trouble began.

The Colonial officers turned sulky. They had
come out to fight not to make roads. None of

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND 113

the natives had ever used pick or spade before,
and it took me all my time to get them turned to.
Certainly it is not a pleasant job to make roads in
Zululand during the summer-time, the sun hot,
flies bad, and men sulky. The Colonial officers
were not at their best, and men who would willingly
stand up to their middles all day long in the drift
of a river plugging oxen over, grumbled and
swore. It required no small amount of tact to
get them started, but when they saw me off shirt
and turn to, they could not hang back and once
started we soon made things hum and the road
grew apace.

In this manner things went on till the igth of
January. On that morning I was visited by the
General and his staff. He informed me that news
had been received that the Zulu army was to leave
Ulundi that morning to attack us, and ordered,
in case he was attacked, I was to move down and
attack the right flank of the enemy. I suggested
that as I lay in their road, they would eat me up
long before they reached him. He thought not,
but I requested the chief of the staff to allow
me to take my men off work and laager my
camp.

This he refused, but as soon as the staff left
I altered the position of my wagons, told off my
white men to their respective posts and made what
preparations I could in case of a fight. I took no
precautions, for my natives, with the exception of
the Zulu companies, as I knew that the Natal
Kafir would bolt at the first onset.

That afternoon I received a note from Captain
Buncombe who was in command of the picket

H4 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

on the top of the hill, informing me that there
was a large number of cattle in the valleys on his
right, and requesting me to come up at once. This
I did, taking with me two companies of my Zulus,
the other one being on picket with him. On
joining him on the top of the pass we moved care-
fully to the edge of some very rough ground con-
sisting of deep valleys, and on looking into these
we saw a large number of cattle herded by a few
unarmed Zulus, who called to us to come down,
as they wished to surrender themselves and the
cattle. This was a temptation, a very nice bait
indeed, but I saw through it. I had matriculated
in ambush work in New Zealand, had had more
than my share of it and with all my faults I have
never been deemed a greedy or covetous man, so
directed Captain Duncombe to shout to them
ordering them to come up and surrender on the top,
but this they refused to do. Captain Duncombe then
at my request called Umvubie, the head fighting
induna (chief) of my Zulus and asked him what he
thought of it. He at once replied, ” That is a
trap, those bushes are full of Zulus. If we descend
they will kill every one of us, but we shall have a
good fight first. I and my brothers are ready to
descend with the chief. “

Now this was startling. I had no doubt that
what Umvubie stated was true, and if so a large
body of the enemy how large I knew not must
be on the General’s right flank.

I immediately sent off a runner to the H.Q.
camp, with a note to that effect, and, as it was
approaching sunset, retired to my camp, leaving
Captain Duncombe with a few good men (well

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND 115

hidden) to keep watch for any moves they (the
Zulus) might carry on.

The Zulus, seeing I had retired, came out of
their ambush, some 1500 strong, and started
towards a large military kraal which we knew to
be several miles down the river. I partook of
early coffee at that kraal later on.

Seeing they left the cattle behind, Buncombe
and his men, as soon as they lost sight of the
enemy, descended into the valley, captured some
150 head of them and brought them into my
camp.

On reaching my camp I found Major Black had
arrived, bringing with him two companies of the
second 24th. I reported to him what I had seen
and Captain Buncombe coming in shortly after-
wards, Major Black at once sent a report into the
H.Q. camp.

The night passed quietly, but my natives were
very restless and evidently in a great funk.

Next morning Captain Hallan Parr, one of the
staff, came out with orders to Major Black and
myself that we were to get ready to march as the
whole column was to move forward, so we struck
camp and packed wagons. On the General reach-
ing us, he questioned myself and Buncombe as to
what we had seen and we reported fully. This
interview being over, I was ordered by the C.S.O.
to move my men on and clear the road, a rough
wagon track over the pass, of any boulders and
stones that might be lying on it and was to be
supported by a party of the second 24th, under Lieu-
tenant Pope.

Away we went and after a few miles came to a

n6 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

queer-shaped mountain that looked like a sphinx
lying down, by the same token I have never seen
the beast depicted standing up, anyhow the road
ran between this mountain and a kopje when we
at once came out on a big plain.

I had just reached here when Major Cleary
rode up, who directed me to move to my left so as
to be ready to encamp, he riding with me, and
pointing out the ground on which my camp was to
be pitched, which would be on the extreme left of
the line.

The column came up, and the camp was ar-
ranged in the same form as it had been on the bank
of the river, only it was much more extended. As
soon as the tents were pitched, and we had had some
food, I was joined by Commandant Lonsdale,
who had that day come out of hospital. I was
talking to some of my best officers when he joined
us and his first words to me were, ” My God,
Maori, what do you think of this camp? ” I
replied, ” Some one is mad/* The Colonial officers
were loud and long in complaint, and Buncombe
said, ” Do the staff think we are going to meet an
army of school-girls ? Why in the name of all that
is holy do we not laager? “

In the evening I strolled over to the 24th lines
to have a chat with the officers, all of whom I knew
well. Whilst there, I had a yarn with Colonel
Glyn who was acting as Brigadier-General, and
would have had command of the column had not
the General and staff decided to join us at the last
moment. He was a very old friend of my family’s
and had served as a Lieutenant under my father.
He did not seem to be in good spirits, but said

ADVANCE INTO ZULULAND 117

nothing about the camp and on my remarking it
looked very pretty though rather extended, he
looked hard at me, shook his head and said ” Very.”
That night Lonsdale came to my tent and told
me that myself and Cooper were each to parade
eight companies before daylight, and to clear the
rough broken valleys to our right front. He would
take command, and that Major Dartnell, with
the Natal Mounted Police and volunteers were
to act in concert with us, keeping on the high
ground. I inquired if any orders had been given
to laager the camp. He answered ” No,” adding
language not very complimentary to certain
members of the staff, which I fully endorsed.

CHAPTER XI

COMING EVENTS THROW SHADOWS BEFORE
THEM

BEFORE daylight we moved out of camp, and while
doing so I saw and spoke to Lieut.-Col. Pulleine of
the first 24th. We were old friends, and he chaffed
me, saying, “A lot of you nigger leaders will be
knocked over to-day/’ I answered, ” If that is so,
when I return to camp I shall not find one of you
alive/’ We laughed and parted. Which prophecy
was to come right you shall hear.

At the head of my men I crossed a donga to join
up with Lonsdale who was with the 2nd battalion,
and on doing so he instructed me to make a detour
of a hill and descend into some valleys, he working
round the other side in such a manner so as to
catch anything or any one who might be between
us.

This movement was carried out and we captured
some hundreds of head of cattle, though all the
kraals we passed contained only old men, women,
girls and children.

To a girl, I returned some goats which one of
my men had taken from her and, through Dun-
combe, questioned her as to the movements of all
the men. She replied, ” That they had been
ordered to join the King’s big army.” We again
asked ” where that was/’ She pointed with her

1×8

COMING EVENTS 119

chin over to the N.E., at the same time saying,
” They would attack us in two days’ time/’ This
bore out the opinion I had formed, after hearing
the news on the igth that the army had left
Ulundi.

In our next drive I captured two young men
and questioned them. They had no goats to be
given back to them, but there are more ways
than one of extracting information.

They were led apart and well questioned.
War is war and you can’t play at savage war with
kid gloves on. The information amounted to this.
They had both left the big army and had come over
to see their mother. We inquired, ” Where is the
big army? ” They pointed in the same direction
as the girl had done. ” When was the attack to
take place? ” They did not know, but the moon
would be right in two days’ time.

This information tallied with the girl’s and
Lonsdale, Cooper and myself discussed it.

The day wore on. The valleys became as hot
as furnaces. We captured more cattle. So to-
wards evening we left the low country after the
most trying day and made for the high land.

On reaching it, I at once suggested we should
return to the camp and inform the General of what
we had learned. This was decided on and as we
were then seven miles from camp Captain O.
Murray was immediately dispatched, with two
companies, to drive the captured cattle there.
The remainder of us rested; as the white non-
coms., most of whom were on foot, were very tired
after their rough day’s work in the stony, rugged
valleys.

120 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Poor Murray! I never saw him again. He
was one of the very best stamp of Colonials, brave,
loyal and true, always ready for hard work, a
splendid shot and horseman. I know before he
went down in the awful hell of the 22nd that he
did his duty to the last, and that very many of the
enemy fell to his rifle.

Evening was drawing on. We had fallen in and
were preparing to return to camp when two mounted
men rode up, informing us that Major Dartnell
had sent them to find us, and to ask us to come
and support him as he had 300 Zulus in front of
him, the ground in rear of the enemy being so
rough, he was unable to use his horses to ad-
vantage.

I requested Lonsdale not to think of doing such
a thing, pointing out at the same time that we had
no food or reserve ammunition, also that we were
seven miles from camp, our white men worn out
and that it would be night before we could reach
Dartnell, who was over three miles from us and at
least that distance further away from camp than
we were.

Again was not this party of Zulus the advance
guard of the big army? a trap to catch us or a
small party of men on their way to join the big
army who would clear out directly they saw
Dartnell reinforced.

Duncombe who was asked to give an opinion
fully agreed with me, but Lonsdale, who had not
got over his sunstroke, was simply spoiling for a
fight, so orders were given for us to advance, and
away we went.

I regret to say that as we moved off four of my

COMING EVENTS 121

officers left me without leave and returned to camp.
Their punishment came quickly, they were all
killed next day.

Well on we went till we came to an open valley
and saw the mounted men drawn up at one end
of it, while at the other end were from 200 to 300
Zulus with very rough ground just in their rear and
at this moment the sun set.

I again pointed out to Lonsdale the folly of our
joining the mounted men. If it was a trap and we
descended, our men, or rather our white men who
had been on foot all day were too much exhausted
to put up a good fight.

If it was not a trap, the enemy would never
stand and allow about 1400 more men to join the
mounted forces but would fall back into the rough
ground where it would be impossible to follow
them in the dark.

However Lonsdale decided to descend, so down
we went. As we advanced, the Zulus drew off
into the rough ground and the night fell. There
is no twilight in Zululand.

Here we were at least eleven miles from camp,
no food, no spare ammunition, well knowing that
a huge army of Zulus must be in our close vicinity.
Well I was not in command, but I begged Lonsdale
even at that hour to return to camp. I said, ” We
know the camp is going to be attacked, every cock
fights best in his own yard. When the General
hears our news he will order the camp to be
laagered and we can put up a fight there against
the whole Zulu nation, whilst out here we shall be
stamped flat in a minute.” But no, Lonsdale
would not grasp the situation, and decided to stay

122 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

where we were, with the intention of going for
those few Zulus in the morning.

Major Dartnell concurred with him. They
decided to form two squares, our men in one,
Dartnell’s in another, and we were to bivouac
there for the night.

My Colonial officers were furious. Colonial
officers are given to speaking their minds. Even
Captain Buncombe came to me and asked me if
everyone had gone mad. ” What in God’s name
are we to do here? “

The squares were formed. We had in our
square about 1400 natives armed as I have before
mentioned, with their complement of white officers
and non-coms., but few of the officers had brought
their rifles, and very many cartridges had been
lost while scrambling over the rocks and rough
ground during the day. I of course disarmed
the natives, who had M.H. rifles, and gave them
to the officers but the ammunition was very
short.

The natives were made to sit down in a square,
two deep, the white men being inside. Ye Gods
of war! as if Natal Kafirs in a formation two
deep would stand for a moment against a rush of
Zulus. Sick with disgust, as soon as the square
was formed, I lay down and, strange to say, fell
asleep. I had loosened my revolver belt for a
minute, meaning to buckle it again, but went to
sleep without having done so. I do not know how
long I slept when I felt myself rushed over and
trampled on. I tried to get to my feet, but was
knocked down again. I then tried to find my re-
volver, but was unable to do so. I never let go of

COMING EVENTS 123

my horse’s bridle which I was holding in my hand,
and at last staggered to my feet.

The square was broken, natives rushing all
ways mixed up with plunging horses, while the
night was horrible with yells, shouts and impre-
cations. ” My God/’ I thought, ” why am I not
assagaied?” as half-mad natives rushed by me
jostling me with their shields. In a flash I saw it
was a false alarm. To wrench a knobkerry out of
a native’s hand, and to lay about me, was the work
of a moment. My white men fought their way to
my shout and backing me up splendidly we soon
quelled the uproar and thrashed the cowardly
brutes back to their places.

To pick up my revolver and buckle the belt did
not take long, and then it was time to inquire the
cause of the row. It seems that one of the natives
had gone to sleep and had dropped his shield and
assagais, and this was enough to frighten the bold
Natal Kafirs into a stampede.

Yet with these curs I was expected to stop a rush
of the finest fighting savages in the world!

As soon as I met Lonsdale I again urged him to
return to camp even at this hour, and perhaps he
might have done so, when Major Dartnell came
over to us and informed us that he had sent an
orderly back to camp to request the General to
reinforce us. This would be worse and worse,
with a force of men barely strong enough to meet
30,000 to 40,000 Zulus, even when in laager. It
certainly was not the game to break up that force
into two parts at a distance of quite eleven miles
and just before a big fight was expected to take
place.

124 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Again I sat down, sick to the very heart, but
of course I could say no more. Lonsdale was my
chief, and it was my duty to loyally back him up
and obey his orders.

About an hour afterwards, one of the horses
shook himself, and immediately the cowardly
hounds of Natal Kafirs again stampeded, but we
were ready for them this time, and thrashed them
back to their places. I then informed them that
the next man who moved would be at once shot
and that the two Zulu companies should charge
and kill off the company to which the delinquent
belonged. This threat put the fear of the Lord
into them, and for the rest of the night they sat
tight.

The weary night dragged on, no chance of
sleep, no chance of rest, as we had to watch our
wretched niggers, and I was very pleased to see the
east lighten and grow pale.

CHAPTER XII

THE DAY OF ISANDLWANA

after daybreak, to my unbounded surprise, the
General, staff, four guns, the Mounted Infantry and
I think six companies of the second 24th reached us.

Colonel Glyn rode over to me and drawing me
aside said, ” In God’s name, Maori, what are you
doing here? ” I answered him with a question,
” In God’s name, sir, what are you doing here? “

He shook his head and replied, ” I am not in
command.” And fine old soldier as he was, I
could see he was much disturbed.

As we were speaking, I received orders to get
my men into line and advance into the rough
ground, into which the enemy had retreated the
night before. We were now going further away
from the camp; but orders must be obeyed, so
getting my crowd under way, we advanced.

After moving forwards about two miles I
found a party of the enemy in caves and behind a
good cover of rocks and stunted bush. They ap-
peared to be well supplied with firearms, and
opened out on us, making fairly good practice.

I was just going to try to kick a charge out of my
beauties, when a mounted orderly rode up with
orders for me, which were that I was at once to
report myself with my battalion to the General,
and that he was to guide me to the place where
the General was waiting for me.

125

126 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Getting my men together and advising Lonsdale
of my orders, I requested him to take over my
skirmish, and on his relieving me with the 2nd
battalion I moved down a valley and found the
General and staff quietly at breakfast.

Never shall I forget the sight of that peaceful
picnic. Here were the staff quietly breakfasting
and the whole command scattered over the country !
Over there the guns unlimbered, over the hills
parties of Mounted Infantry and volunteers looting
the scattered kraals for grain for their horses, a
company of the 24th one place, and another far
away, and yet I knew that an army of from 30,000
to 40,000 of the bravest and most mobile savages
in the world were within striking distance of us,
and that our camp was some thirteen miles away;
left with but few horsemen and only two guns to
defend, and it a long straggling camp, hampered
with all the wagons and impedimenta of the
column.

As soon as I halted my men, the General rose
and kindly greeting me asked me if I had had any
breakfast. I replied, ” No, nor had any of my men
had any/’ I might have added ” and no dinner
or supper the night before/’ Of course he under-
stood, that as commandant, I could not eat in
presence of my fasting men.

I said, ” Are you aware, sir, I was engaged when
I received your order? ” He said ” No,” and
turning to the C.S.O., said, ” Crealock, Browne tells
me he was engaged when he received the order to
come here/ 1 Colonel Crealock came to me and
said, ” Commandant Browne, I want you to re-
turn at once to camp and assist Colonel Pulleine

THE DAY OF ISANDLWANA 127

to strike camp and come on here.” I nearly fell off
my horse. Could these men know of the close
proximity of the enemy? Were we all mad or
what? However I was only a poor devil of a
Colonial Commandant and as a simple irregular
not supposed to criticise full-blown staff officers,
so I saluted and said, ” If I come across the
enemy? ” Oh/’ said he, ” just brush them aside
and go on,” and with this he went on with his
breakfast.

So I kept on down that valley which presently
opened out into a big plain, and on the far side
of it, about thirteen miles off, was a queer-shaped
mountain, the ground gently rising to the base of
it. With my glasses I could discern a long white
line which I knew to be tents. The name of that
mountain was Isandlwana and the time was then
9 a.m. on the 22nd January 1879.

We marched very slowly on, the day was in-
tensely hot, and my white non-coms, who were
on foot very fagged. They had had a very hard
day the day before. They had had no sleep and
no food, and somehow over the whole command
there seemed to hover a black cloud.

However push on was the word, and at 10
o’clock myself and Adjutant- Lieutenant Campbell,
who were riding some distance in front, flushed two
Zulus. They bolted and we rode them down.
Campbell shot his one, but I captured mine and
on Duncombe coming up we questioned him.

He was only a boy and was frightened out of his
life so that when asked where he came from, he
pointed to the line of hills on the left flank of the
camp saying ” he had come from the King’s big

128 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

army.” ” What are you doing here? ” we asked,
to which he replied ” that he and his mate had
been sent by their induna to see if any white men
were among the hills ” we had just left, ” but as
they were sitting resting under the shade of a rock
they did not hear the white men and were caught/’
” What was the size of the army? ” He answered,
” There were twelve full regiments ” (about 30,000
or perhaps 36,000 men).

Now here was the fat in the fire with a ven-
geance.

The big Zulu army within four miles of the left
flank of the camp, Colonel Pulleine without
mounted men, or only a few, only two guns, not
more than 900 white men in all, the camp not
laagered and the General away on a wild-goose
chase, at least thirteen miles from him.

I was unaware, at the time, that Colonel
Durnford, R.E., had, that morning, reached
Isandlwana; he had some hundreds of natives and
a rocket battery with him.

I at once wrote a note to the following effect :

” 10 a.m. I have just captured a Zulu scout who
informs me the Zulu army is behind the range of
hills on the left flank of the camp. Will push on
as fast as possible. The ground here is good for
the rapid advance of mounted men and guns.”

This note I sent by a well-mounted officer with
orders he was to ride as fast as possible.

The next thing was to try and advance as fast
as I could. I rode forward and used my glasses,
but everything so far was peaceful.

THE DAY OF ISANDLWANA 129

Just then I met two boys loaded with food.
They had been sent out to me by the kind fore-
thought of Lieutenant Beuie of my battalion.

They also brought me a note from a great chum
of mine, Lieutenant Anstey, first 24th, who told me
he and Lieutenant Dailey had gone to my tent the
night before, and as they had found a good dinner
spoiling, they had eaten it, but sent in return a
couple of bottles of whisky. I was never fated to
see any of these kind-hearted men again but it is
the fortune of war. Well these loads were indeed
a godsend, and I divided the food and drink among
my non-coms, who were on foot and it just bucked
them up and gave them heart for further exertions.
I would not have minded having some myself, but
I was mounted, and they were on foot, so after a
ten minutes’ halt I again gave the word to move on.

At about ii o’clock I was on ahead and looking
through my glasses when I saw a puff of smoke
rise from the hills on the left of the camp. It was
followed by another. They seemed to come from
a huge black shadow that lay on the hills. Pre-
sently another puff and in a moment I knew they
were bursting shells. Not a cloud was in the sky,
and I knew that the black shadow resting on the
hills must be the Zulu army moving down to attack
the camp.

At once I dispatched the second message :

” ii a.m. The Zulu army is attacking the left
of the camp. The guns have opened on them.
The ground here still suitable for guns and mounted
men. Will push on so as to act as support to
them.”

130 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

This I dispatched by a mounted officer, and at
the same time my first messenger returned. He
informed me he had delivered my note to a S.O.
who had read it, and told him to rejoin me, and
that I was to push on to camp.

But now my brave barbarians, with their
wonderful eyesight, had seen the dreaded foe, and
they refused to march. They could not run away
as the Zulus were between them and safety, but
it took all the muscular persuasion of my officers
and the dauntless blackguardism of my non-coms,
to kick a crawl out of them.

Umvubie of No. 8 Company helped me at this
juncture to solve the problem. He said he and his
men would march in rear and kill everyone who
lagged behind, so at last I got a crawl out of them.
I rode on and used my glasses.

I could now see the troops lying down and firing
volleys, while the guns kept up a steady fire. The
Zulus did not seem able to advance. They were
getting it hot, and as there was no cover they must
have suffered very heavy losses, as they shortly
afterwards fell back. The guns and troops also
ceased firing. At about midday I was looking
back anxiously to see if the mounted men and guns
were coming up, when I heard the guns in camp
reopen again; and riding forward, we were then
about four miles from the camp. I saw a cloud of
Zulus thrown out from their left and form the left
horn of their army. These men swept round and
attacked the front of the camp, and I saw the two
right companies of the 24th and one gun thrown
back to resist them. There was also plenty of
independent firing going on within the camp, as if

THE DAY OF ISANDLWANA 131

all the wagon men, servants, and in fact everyone
who could use a rifle was firing away to save his
life.

I at once sent another messenger with the
following note :

” The camp is being attacked on the left and
in front, and as yet is holding its own. Ground
still good for the rapid advance of guns and horses.
Am moving forward as fast as I can.”

My second messenger joined me shortly after
this and told me he had delivered my note to a
staff officer and had received orders for me to push
on to camp.

At i o’clock the camp was still holding its own
and the Zulus were certainly checked. The guns
were firing case and I could see the dense mass
of natives writhe, sway and shrink back from the
steady volleys of the gallant old 24th.

I had given orders to my men to deflect to their
left so as to try to get into the right of the camp,
and the officers and non-coms, were forcing the
brutes on, when about half-past one I happened to
glance to the right of the camp. Good God ! what
a sight it was. By the road that runs between the
hill and the kopje, came a huge mob of maddened
cattle, followed by a dense swarm of Zulus. These
poured into the undefended right and rear of the
camp, and at the same time the left horn of the
enemy and the chest of the army rushed in.
Nothing could stand against this combined attack.
All formation was broken in a minute, and the camp
became a seething pandemonium of men and cattle
struggling in dense clouds of dust and smoke.

132 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

The defenders fought desperately and I could
see through the mist the flash of bayonet and spear
together with the tossing heads and horns of the
infuriated cattle, while above the bellowing of the
latter and the sharp crack of the rifles could be
heard the exulting yells of the savages and the
cheers of our men gradually dying away. Of
course I saw in a moment everything was lost and
at once galloped back to my men.

There was no time to write, but I said to Captain
Develin, a fine horseman and a finer fellow, ” Ride
as hard as you can, and tell every officer you meet,
‘ For God’s sake come back, the camp is surrounded
and must be taken/ ‘

Then getting my officers together, I said to
them, ” Our only chance is to retreat slowly, and
ordered them to form their companies into rings,
after the Zulu fashion, and retire, dismounting
themselves and hiding all the white men among the
natives. This we did, and although there were
large parties of the enemy close to us, they took
no notice of us, and we gradually retired out of
their vicinity. When we had got to a place, about
five miles from the camp, where I thought my white
men and Zulus could put up a bit of a fight in case
we were attacked, I halted and determined to await
the course of events. During the retreat I had
often looked back and seen that the fighting was
over in the camp, but that one company, in com-
pany square, was retreating slowly up the hill
surrounded by a dense swarm of Zulus. This was
Captain Younghusband’s Company. They kept
the enemy off as long as their ammunition lasted,
then used the bayonet until at last overcome by

THE DAY OF ISANDLWANA 133

numbers they fell in a heap like the brave old
British Tommy should.

Well here we were. The white men worn out
and hungry, but most of them determined and
I had the satisfaction to read on the grim, dirty
faces of my roughs, that no matter what they had
been in the past, they meant to stick to their work,
do their duty like men and if necessary die game.

Curses not loud but very deep, went up for a
time, and one or two of Lord Chelmsford’s staff
must have felt their ears tingle.

We sat and lay where we were. There was no-
where to go, nothing to be done, we had no food,
and very little ammunition, but we had some water
and tepid and muddy as it was it was thankfully
used as there was no shade and the sun shone like
a ball of fire. As soon as I had made what few
arrangements I could I told the men to get some
rest, as I was convinced that later on, we should
be called upon to retake the camp, as through that
camp was the only possible retreat for the General’s
party and ourselves.

After a time Captain Develin rode up to me.
” Well,” said I, ” who did you see? ” ” I first saw
Major Black with the second 24th and repeated your
message he at once turned back. Then I saw
Colonel Harness with the guns he at once turned
back. Then I saw the mounted men, and they
turned back.” ” Well,” said I, ” where are they? “
” Why, sir,” he replied, ” as we were marching
back we met the staff and the troops were ordered
to go back again, so I came on alone.”

Why had this been done? Those who want to
know had better get the book Miss Colenso wrote in

134 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

defence of Colonel Durnford, and if they study the
evidences recapitulated in that book, especially
that of Captain Church, they may find out. I am
only writing of what I actually saw myself, and have
no wish to throw mud at anyone.

Some time later I saw the M.I. come out from
the hills on to the open ground, form up and dis-
mount. I at once sent an officer to their O.C. to
tell him that if he would support me I would again
advance. He acknowledged my message but sent
no reply, and shortly afterwards he again mounted
his men and returned to the hills.

The long afternoon passed slowly away, and
towards evening I saw a small body of horsemen
riding towards us. On using my glasses I dis-
covered it was the General and his staff and I at
once mounted and rode to meet him.

He looked very surprised when he saw me and
said, ” What are you doing here, Commandant
Browne? You ought to have been in camp hours
ago/’ I replied, ” The camp has been taken, sir.”

He flashed out at once, ” How dare you tell me
such a falsehood? Get your men into line at once
and advance. ” I did so and led my 700 miserables
supported by the staff against the victorious Zulu
army.

We moved on about two and a half miles until
we had opened out a good view of the camp, when
he called me to him and said, in a kindly manner,
” On your honour, Commandant Browne, is the
camp taken? ” I answered, ” The camp was
taken at about 1.30 in the afternoon, and the
Zulus are now burning some of the tents.”

He said, “That may be the Quartermaster’s

THE DAY OF ISANDLWANA 135

fatigue burning the debris of the camp.” I re-
plied, ” Q.M/s fatigue do not burn tents, sir/’ and
I offered him my glasses. He refused them, but
said, ” Halt your men at once,” and leaving me,
rode back to the staff and dispatched an officer to
bring up the remainder of the column.

I had just halted my men and placed them in
the best position I could, when to my utter astonish-
ment I saw a man on foot leading a pony, coming
from the direction of the camp, and recognized him
as Commandant Lonsdale.

He came up to me and said, ” By Jove, Maori,
this is fun; the camp is taken/ 1 ” Don’t see the
humour/’ I said, ” but go and tell the staff; they
won’t believe me.”

He had had the most wonderful escape. As I have
said before he was still suffering from sunstroke and
having somehow lost the battalion he was with, had
ridden towards the camp. More than half stupefied
by the great heat, he rode into it, and all at once
awoke to the fact that the camp was full of Zulus,
some of them wearing soldiers’ tunics, and that
the ground was littered with dead men. He then
realized the situation at a glance and in less time
than words can tell, he turned his pony’s head and
rode as hard as he could away. He was pursued,
but the ground was good-going, and his pony
” Dot ” a very smart one, so he got clear away
and joined us.

Well, again a weary halt. As we lay we could
see long lines of Zulus marching along the hills
on our right flank. They had with them many of
our wagons, most probably loaded with their
wounded men, or plunder out of the camp.

136 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

At last just as night fell, we were joined by
the remainder of the column that had been sent for
and we were then formed into line of attack. The
guns were in the centre, flanking them parties of the
second 24th, my battalion in line on the left, Cooper’s
battalion in line on the right, and the mounted men
in front and on the flanks.

The General spoke a few words to the men and
then ready once more, away we went to recapture
the camp, or as Umvubie would say, ” To die, but
have a good fight first/’

The night, as we were nearing the camp, be-
came very dark and I received orders that I was to
retake the kopje at all costs being at the same
time warned that if my men turned tail the party
of the 24th (under Major Black) who supported
me, were at once to fire a volley and charge. This
was pleasant for me but of course I recognized the
necessity.

The word was now given to move on. At the
same time the guns opened fire so as to clear the
ground in front of us of any large bodies of Zulus
who might be there.

I dismounted and made for the kopje, dragging
with me the principal Natal induna, whom I had
clawed hold of by his head ring, swearing I would
blow his brains out in case his men turned tail.
He howled to them not to run away, but behind
them came the 24th with fixed bayonets so that
no matter what funk the natives were in, they had
to come on.

It was as dark as pitch, and soon we were
stumbling and falling over dead men (black and
white), dead horses, cattle, ruined tents and all the

THE DAY OF ISANDLWANA 137

debris of the fight. But up and up the kopje we
had to go, for every now and then Black’s voice
would ring out, ” Steady the 24th be ready to fire
a volley and charge/’ Up and up we went as the
shells came screaming over our heads; the burning
time-fuses in the dark looking like rockets. Every
time one came over us my wretched natives would
utter a howl and try to sit down, but bayonets
in rear of them will make even a Natal Kafir move
on, and they had to come.

At last we arrived at the top, no living man
was there and as the shells just passed over us I
told my bugler to sound the ” cease fire/’ He could
not sound a note, so I shouted to Black that we were
on the top and asked him to have the ” ceasefire “
sounded. This was done and up rushed the 24th,
who, when they reached the top of the hill, broke
out into cheer after cheer. My Zulus to keep them
company rattled their shields and assagais, for
had not we retaken the camp; or rather perhaps
I ought to say, reoccupied it. Anyhow we were
there.

Dear old Black came up to me, and on shaking
hands, lamented we had not had a fight. He then
poured me out a cup of sherry from his flask. I
wanted it badly as it was over forty hours since
I had tasted food, and my throat and mouth were
parched and dry with shouting, mingled I fear
with cursing.

However the Zulus could not have removed
all the food from the camp and we were bound to
find some. So I called for my trusty Irish servant,
who was a past master in the art of looting.

He was serving as senior sergeant of No. 8

138 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Company and I told him to take some good men
and see what he could fin i. The remains of the
hospital lines were close t> us so down he went.
He was soon back again with plenty of bully beef
and biscuits and drawing me aside, slipped into my
empty haversack a bottle of port and a bottle of
brandy, also a large packet of tobacco. I said,
” What have you got for yourself, Quin? ” He
replied and I know he grinned, ” Troth, sor, is it
so short a time your honour has known me that you
can’t trust me to look after meself.” Well the
bully beef went round, so did the biscuits and the
brandy. And so did not the port, for Black and I
drank most of that. However there was enough
for everyone, and we had a rough but a square
feed.

Just as we officers had finished and were sitting
smoking, I looked across the Buffalo Valley. By
the road it was a long way, but as the crow flies
quite a short distance, and in the direction I knew
Rourke’s Drift to lie I noticed a lot of tiny flashes.
I called Black’s attention to them, saying, ” Those
flashes must be musketry.” He looked in the
direction indicated and said, ” Yes.” I told
Buncombe to call Umvubie and ask him. Umvubie
at once said, ” Yes, the Zulus are attacking the
white man’s camp by the river.” I said to Black,
” Do you know if the store camp was laagered? “
He talked in Gaelic for a few minutes. He might
have been praying but it did not sound like prayers,
and just then all along the Natal bank of the
Buffalo huge fires broke out and Duncombe ex-
claimed, ” By God, the Zulus are in Natal! Lord
help the women^and children.” There could be no

THE DAY OF ISANDLWANA 139

doubt about it. The fires we saw were the friendly
kraals and the farmhouses burning, and all we
could do was to echo Buncombe’s prayer, ” God
help the women and children.” In a few minutes
we saw a great flare over Rourke’s Drift, and thought
that the base hospital, the store camp and all our
supplies were in the hands of the enemy. We had
not been very joyful before, but now we felt very
sick indeed. If the Zulus chose to raid Natal there
was nothing to stop their doing so. Our retreat,
also, would be cut off. What was to become of
us did not bother me. No one depended on me,
so I was like Umvubie, expected to be killed but
hoped to have a good fight first.

Well the night wore away. We could get no
sleep as we were too crowded to lie down and the
kopje we were on was all covered with stones.

CHAPTER XIII

THE MORNING AFTER ISANDLWANA

JUST before daybreak orders were given to fall in
and as soon as I got my men into their places I
galloped across the camp to my tent to try and save
some papers, medals, etc.

My God, in the grey dawn, it was a sight ! In
their mad rush into the camp, the Zulus had killed
everything. Horses had been stabbed at their
picket lines. Splendid spans of oxen were lying
dead in their yokes, mules lay dead in their harness
and even dogs were lying stabbed among the tents.
Ripped open sacks of rice, flour, meal and sugar
lay everywhere. They had even in their savage
rage thrust their assagais into tins of bully beef,
butter and jam. Among all this debris singly and
in heaps, or rather in groups of two or three, lay the
ripped and mutilated bodies of the gallant 24th,
showing how, when their formation was broken,
they had stood it out, and fought back to back or
in groups until they had been run over and de-
stroyed. That they had fought to the last gasp
could be seen by the number of dead Zulus who
lay everywhere in amongst them, the bayonet
wounds on their bodies telling of the fierce, though
short combat that had taken place after the right
horn of the Zulus had swept round the hill. I had
just time to get to the door of my tent, inside of

which I saw my old setter dog, dead, with an

140

,,*’ T

s .. : :*-: : v .

A LAST SALUTE.

THE MORNING AFTER ISANDLWANA 141

assagai thrust through her. My two spare horses
were also lying killed at their picket rope, with my
Totty groom dead between them. As I said before,
my camp was on the extreme left of the line, and
the best part of the fighting had taken place there.

I saw the bodies of two of my officers lying
dead with heaps of empty cartridge shells by their
sides. Both had been splendid shots and I bet
they had done plenty of execution before they
went under. As I reined up I glanced out to the
left and left front of the camp, and saw heaps and
heaps of Zulu dead. Where the volleys of the 24th
had checked them, they lay in lines, and the donga
I had ridden over on the morning of the 2ist was
chock-full of them. Surely the 24th had died
game, but bitter as I felt, a thrill of admiration
passed through me when I thought of the splendid
courage of the savages who could advance to the
charge suffering the awful punishment they were
getting.

I had not time to dismount as I heard the bugle
sound the advance and I galloped back to my men
as fast as I could without trampling on the bodies
of my poor comrades. On my way I reined up
my horse sharply, for there lay the body of my old
friend Lieut.-Col. Pulleine; I could do nothing for
him, and it at once flashed through my mind our
last words of chaff, so I saluted the poor remains
and passed on as quickly as I could to my men.

When I reached them I asked the Adjutant if
any orders had reached us. He replied, ” No, sir.
Everyone has moved off except ourselves and the
rear-guard of M.I. which Major Black has taken
command of.” Good old Black, I thought, always

142 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

at the post of honour. Well he rode up to me and
asked me ” What I was doing there? ” I said,
” Waiting for orders.” He made a few remarks in
Gaelic and then said, ” Come on, old fellow. Move
off just in front of me, and if these black devils come
after us we will have a nice little rear-guard action
of our own.”

I did so, and sorrowfully returned by the same
road we had so gaily advanced along three days
before. A few shots as my officer picked off
scattered Zulus was all that happened. But as we
crossed some high ground we saw a large party of
Zulus away to the left.

They stood still for a few minutes when they
saw us, then broke up and fled all over the country.
This was their beaten army retreating from
Rourke’s Drift. We afterwards heard that they
did not know that we had been out in front of the
camp, but thought they had killed all the white
men. They therefore imagined that we were
the dead men come to life again, that we were
ghosts, and in superstitious terror fled away from
us.

We descended the steep pass to the Bashie
River, halted for a few minutes to let the men and
horses drink, then moved on to the high ground.

As we came to the top of a ridge, we saw the
advance guard on the top of another ridge signalling.
I said to Black, ” Who on earth can they be signal-
ling to? ” ” The Lord only knows,” he answered.
But all at once a tremendous cheer broke out in
front and ran along the column towards us, and
Lieutenant Harford galloped back with the joyful
news that there were white men signalling from the

THE MORNING AFTER ISANDLWANA 143

ruins of the base camp, and that the camp must
have held out and beaten off the attack.

Our men began to cheer, and everyone was de-
lighted. We had been very sick the night before
when we thought the camp at Rourke’s Drift had
been taken and destroyed. Now we knew it was
safe the reaction was very pleasant.

Yes ; it was true a deed had been done by one
company of the second 24th, assisted by a few irregu-
lars and civilians, that has never been surpassed
in the annals of British warfare. They had beaten
off an attack of 4000 Zulus. True, they had an
improvised laager of biscuit-boxes and mealie sacks
and behind these they had done wonders. But
how about the camp at Isandlwana? How about
those 900 white men lying exposed to the vulture
and the jackal in the camp a few miles behind?
How would that fight have ended if they had had
a laager, and why had they not one? In another
hour we were back at the Buffalo and again lined
the same ridge we had sweltered on during the
loth, but this time we only had to wait while half
the 24th crossed and only four guns. That long
line of wagons that had taken such a tedious time
to cross, where were they? They were stranded
only a few miles away with two guns and 900 good
officers and men.

Well everyone crossed and Black and myself
rode down to the drift last of all. Giving him the
post of honour as he was entitled to it I rode in
front of him, as we came to the water, so that he
was the last man of No. 3 Column to leave Zulu-
land that is to say he was the last living man but
there were plenty lying unburied, exposed to the

144 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

sun, wind and rain, the beasts of the field and the
birds of the air, and who was to blame? Who
promulgated that book of orders the first of which
was that no camp should be pitched without being
laagered?

In writing this I have only stated facts that
I personally saw, and I have tried to hurt no man’s
feelings who may be alive nor throw a stone at the
memory of any man who may be dead.

The 3rd N.N.C. lost 18 officers and 36
N.C.O.’s, only 3 officers escaping. I do not think
we lost many men as I am sure the Natal Kafirs
bolted very early in the day. I must however
make exception of the one Zulu company left in
camp. They sat tight until the enemy closed in.
Then they charged and were killed to a man. But
as Umvubie would have said, they had a good fight
first.

It must have been about half-past three on the
afternoon of the 23rd of January 1879 when Major
Black and myself rode across the drift out of Zulu-
land and proceeded at once up to the base camp.

My men, who had crossed before me, had sat
down on a small flat to the right rear of the store
and I joined them. They were not in a pleasant
frame of mind, most of the officers slack and
despondent, the non-coms, hungry and savage,
while the natives clamoured to be allowed to go
home. It therefore behoved me to buck them up
and the first thing was to get the white men to
make the cowardly niggers hold their row. Both
the battalions had clumped together and it was
absolutely necessary to enforce order and discipline.
Getting the officers together I soon talked them into

THE MORNING AFTER ISANDLWANA 145

a better humour. I pointed out to them that one
defeat had not ended the war and that, as we all
must want to play a return match with the Zulus,
we must do our duty, bide our time, and hope for
better things. This quite satisfied them and they
expressed their intention of backing me up.

I then turned my attention to the non-coms.
I have already told you what sort of men they were,
the majority of them being the drif tweed of the
seven seas runaway sailors and East London
boatmen with a sprinkling of ex-nawies and old
soldiers. For the last three days they had been
overworked, underfed and had had no sleep or
rest at all and as they were a wild, lawless crowd
they were inclined to be mutinous. However I
knew them and they knew me, and I wanted to
keep them for future service, as I was sure that,
tough as they were, it would be hard to collect a
more reckless or pluckier lot north of Hades.

They all sat or lay in a clump some 100 in
number belonging to both battalions, and as I
approached them they looked as ugly a lot as any
man would care to face without having iron bars
between you and them.

As I came to them only a few stood up but a
smart ” shun ” brought all to their feet.

I opened fire with: ” Now then, my lads, how
many of you are fit for duty? I want you to turn
to at once, and help your officers to quiet those
howling niggers. Those of you who are fit fall in,
in rear of me.’* My servant Quin and all the old
soldiers at once fell in, but the others stood mutter-
ing and grumbling in their throats.

Then I let them have it hot and strong. First

146 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

I pointed out to them the fact, that the 24th and
the guns were alongside, and it wanted very little
of that sort of talk and behaviour to make me go to
Colonel Glyn and get him to turn them on to such
a set of mutinous scoundrels, and after I had called
them by the names they most understood I turned
to the leader of the sea pirates and singled him out.

This man Jack Williams’ was an old shell-
back of the stamp that is now as rare as the dodo
and as he had served with me in New Zealand we
knew one another.

He was a man of past middle life, grey and
grizzled, about 5 feet 9 inches in height but of
enormous width and strength. His face, arms and
breast, nearly burned black with the sun, were
all covered with the marks of ancient knife and
bullet wounds. He had been to sea nearly all his
life and had passed most of it in the South Seas
and on the Pacific coast. A sandal-wood trader
(i.e., pirate), a black-bird catcher, a filibuster and
blockade runner, with Walker and Garibaldi, in
Central America and there were but few scenes of
bloodshed on that lively coast that old Jack had
not played a part in. Yet I could not help liking
the old buccaneer. His wide-open blue eye and
fearless expression of face always made me think
of the old Elizabethan sea-dogs which was
strengthened by his kindly ways (when not roused)
and his homely Devonshire speech. He could
neither read nor write but was a born leader of men
and I knew if I could get him on my side all the other
pirates would follow like sheep.

Well I had given them their dressing-down so
it was now time for me to give them their spoonful

THE MORNING AFTER ISANDLWANA 147

of jam. I told them there was plenty of good
fighting in front of us and that none of them need
repine because we had got one licking, but they
surprised me, insomuch that although they had
behaved, during the last three days, when our lives
had not been worth a rotten orange, like men, yet
now we were in comparative safety with food and
rest before us they should turn to and begin their
monkey tricks, and I wound up by saying that
their mixed conduct made me look on them as
nothing more nor less than a lot of bally conun-
drums, and ” as for you, Jack Williams/’ turning
sharply to the old buccaneer, ” you are nothing
more or less than an Ornithorhynchus Platypus.” *

The old sea-dog broke into a broad grin ; never
before in all his long and wicked life had he ever
been called by such a name.

He had served under many a Yankee skipper
and many a blue-nose mate, but none of them had
ever coined such a cuss word as that. It was
medicine to him and he hugged himself enraptured.

Stepping out from among the men, he made
me his very best sea-bow. Then turning to them
and slapping one huge fist into the palm of the
other enormous hand he harangued them.

Quoth he, ” See ‘ere, mates, when a hofficer, as
we know to be a hofficer, and a hedecated genelman
to boot, speaks you fair like as man to man, and
goes so far as to call you uns a lot of blankety-
blank comumrums and me, Jack Williams, a ruddy
horni-korinky palibus, I say as how that’s the
hofficer I stands by and sticks to. Ain’t I right,
Bill? ” this to his chum. ” In course ye are,

* The Australian duckbill.

148 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Jack,” came back the ready answer. ” Then fall
in astarn of the commandant, yer bally comum-
rums! ” and the whole of the pirates fell in ready
for anything. It is written somewhere that a soft
word turneth away wrath. In this case a hard
word stopped trouble.

In a very short time the niggers were reduced
to silence and sorted out into their respective
companies. Just then Lonsdale came up, he
had been making arrangements for rations. I
made my most despondent officer quartermaster
so as to give him something to think about and a
ration party having been told off to go and draw
them, I went with Lonsdale round the laager to
have a look at the debris of the fight. He told me
that three of our officers had escaped and got into
Rourke’s Drift. Two of them, however, he was
sorry to say, had ridden on, the other, a Dutchman,
named Ardendorph, had remained, had fought
bravely and was well spoken of.

He also told me that the company of the second
3rd, who had been left in the base camp to help the
commissariat officers, had behaved shamefully,
that they had bolted, officers and men, and that
though they had been entreated to stay and fight
had run like curs and that the garrison had with
difficulty been prevented from firing on them.

I will not mention the officers’ names although
I remember them. They rejoined, were promptly
kicked out, and were slated in all the Colonial
papers. Let them rip.

And now I must give you a short description
of the place, the defence of which not only saved
us, but, I think, in a great measure saved Natal.

THE MORNING AFTER ISANDLWANA 149

It had been a frontier trading post, and con-
sisted of a comfortable bungalow with a store some
15 yards from it; both buildings stood in line some
200 yards from a steep hill and were about 1000
yards from the drift across the Buffalo River.
Both buildings were built of brick and thatched.
In front was a fine orchard and between the
orchard and the houses ran a natural step or ledge
of rock 3 to 4 feet high so that the buildings stood
that height above the ground in the orchard.
Along this step of rock was placed a line of biscuit-
boxes and on the top of these sacks of mealies
(Indian corn). These formed a breastwork of
about 3 feet or 3 feet 6 inches, giving a height from
the ground in front of about 6 or 7 feet. The breast-
work was therefore low enough to enable the de-
fenders to use their bayonets over and was high
enough to cover them when firing, from behind it,
in a crouching position. There is no need to de-
scribe the rest of the work as the principal fighting
took place here. The hospital (bungalow) had
been roughly loopholed, so had the store. Just in
the rear of the latter were large stacks of forage
but there had been no time to remove them nor
the heavy, dry thatch on the buildings. Had the
Zulus set fire to these stacks the thatch on the store
must have been ignited and our men burned out.
But they did not, for although they attacked from
the right and rear, they got such a pasting, during
their advance, that they swept round the buildings,
took cover in the orchard and attacked from
there.

They certainly did set fire to the hospital but
that gave the defenders light to sight their rifles

150 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

by while it blocked their own chance of entering
from that side.

However those who want to know about the
defence of Rourke’s Drift must read other accounts.
I am only writing about what I actually saw myself
and I had not the honour to be one of the de-
fenders.

Well Lonsdale and myself went round to the
front and there saw what a tremendous effort must
have been made by both sides.

The dead Zulus lay in piles, in some places as
high as the top of the parapet. Some killed by
bullets and the wounds, at that short range, were
ghastly but very many were killed by the bayonet.
The attack must have been well pushed home and
both sides deserve the greatest credit. The hospital
was still smouldering and the stench from the
burning flesh of the dead inside was very bad;
it was much worse however when we came to
clear the debris away two days afterwards. Some
of our sick and wounded had been burned inside
of the hospital and a number of Zulus had been
also killed inside of the building itself.

In front of the hospital lay a large number of
Zulus also a few of our men, who had been patients,
and who when the hospital had been set on fire
had, in trying to escape, rushed out among the
enemy and been killed, their bodies being also
ripped and much mutilated.

A few dead horses lay about, either killed by
the assagai or by the bullets of the defenders, and
I wondered why they had not been driven away
before the fighting began.

One thing I noticed and that was the extra-

THE MORNING AFTER ISANDLWANA 151

ordinary way in which the majority of the Zulus
lay. I had been over a good many battlefields
and seen very many men who had been killed in
action but I had never seen men lie in this position.
They seemed to have dropped on their elbows and
knees and remained like that with their knees
drawn up to their chins.

One huge fellow who must have been, in life,
quite 7 feet high lay on his back with his heels on
the top of the parapet and his head nearly touching
the ground, the rest of his body supported by a
heap of his dead comrades.

Well we went into the laager. No one seemed
to know what to do and certainly no one tried to
do anything. I spoke to several of the seniors
and suggested that the thatch should be taken off
the store and more loopholes made, also that the
stacks of forage should be removed, but until I
came to Colonel Harness, R.A., no one would pay
the least attention. He at once saw things in the
same light as I did and said, ” I will send my
gunners to remove the thatch if you will get the
forage away/’ This we did and in a short time
the place was secure from fire.

No sooner had I seen my part of this work done
than I began to feel as if I was rather hollow and I
rejoined Lonsdale and Harford. Rations had been
served out and we had bully beef, biscuit, tea and
sugar in plenty but no cups, plates, knives, forks
or spoons not even a pot or kettle to boil water
in. However we made shift to eat the bully and
biscuits with our fingers, then boiled water in the
empty bully tins, added tea and sugar and drank
it with gusto.

152 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

During the afternoon it was discovered that
a large number of wounded and worn-out Zulus
had taken refuge or hidden in the mealie fields
near the laager. My two companies of Zulus with
some of my non-coms, and a few of the 24th
quickly drew these fields and killed them with
bayonet, butt and assagai.

It was beastly but there was nothing else to do.
War is war and savage war is the worst of the lot.
Moreover our men were worked up to a pitch of
fury by the sights they had seen in the morning
and the mutilated bodies of the poor fellows lying
in front of the burned hospital.

The evening drew on and Lonsdale went into
the laager for orders. He returned and told us
that the white troops were to hold the laager and
that we were to remain outside. This was as
absurd as it was shameful; not only were our white
officers and non-coms, to meet, unprotected by
the laager, the first rush of the Zulus, in case of an
attack, but we should have been swept away by
the fire of our own friends inside it.

We were also to find the outlying pickets and
the advanced sentries. Our natives, with the
exception of the Zulus, were quite useless for this
service. In fact they had all taken refuge in the
caves and among the rocks of the mountain, and
sternly refused to come out. And now there was
a row. Of course the roster was lost and I regret
to say that the officers and the non-coms., furious
at what they considered their unfair treatment,
refused to turn out. Lonsdale, Cooper and myself
talked it over with them and at last we said we
would take the outlying picket ourselves. Har-

THE MORNING AFTER ISANDLWANA 153

ford at once chipped in, so the most dangerous
picket that night was formed by three command-
ants and a staff officer.

Quin, my servant, swore that I should not go
on picket while he was to the fore and Captains
Buncombe, Develin and Hayes volunteered for
the other picket. Of course when we were moving
off everyone wanted to come and the cuss words
and recriminations flew like hail. We quieted
them down. We took one picket, Captain Dun-
combe and three other officers formed the other;
there was not much choice between them. Inlying
pickets were told off and as soon as it was dark we
took our posts, extending the Zulus in a chain
between them. The night was very dark but
passed off quietly although there was a false alarm
at the laager, and most of our white men who had
remained there got inside. I don’t blame them.
What was the use of staying outside to be shot down
by their own friends?

CHAPTER XIV

LIFE AT ROURKE’S DRIFT

IN the morning on our return to camp we heard
that the General, staff, guns and mounted men were
leaving for Helpmaker. Previous to his departure
the General sent for me and kindly asked me,
” What I should like to do? ” I told him, ” I should
like to remain with Colonel Glyn if he had any use
for my services/’ Colonel Glyn, on being asked,
was good enough to say, ” He would be very sorry
to lose me and hoped I should remain/’

During my interview with the General I asked
him, “If he had received my messages on the
22nd? ” He told me, ” That he had never heard a
word about them,” and was very much surprised
when I told him what they were. He also asked
me what I thought ought to be done with my
natives and I told him the majority were worse
than useless. I should like to keep the Zulus but
the others were quite impossible and recom-
mended that they should be at once disbanded.

He shook hands with me, said some very kind
things about my services, mounted his horse and
rode away. Lonsdale went with him, leaving me
in command of the 3rd N.N.C., and I at once set
to work to disband them.

First I sent for Umvubie and his Zulus and
through Buncombe made them a speech. I told

LIFE AT ROURKE’S DRIFT 155

them they had behaved like men and that the
Great White Queen would hear of their courage.

It was true, I was going to send all the other
Kafirs home, as they were cowards and women,
but I wanted the Zulus to stay with me. Umvubie
talked to the other head-men for a few minutes
and then said, “If you let these common low
Kafirs go home and we remain, they will raid our
women and cattle. We should like to stop with
you. You white soldiers are men and fear nothing.
If you did you would not stop here, but if you want
us to remain march us and those dogs to the back
of the hill, we will kill them all and then we will
remain, otherwise we must go home to protect our
property and wives/’

Umvubie’ s idea of solving the problem was
sound. He and his 200 men were quite ready to
attack the 1200 Natal Kafirs and I firmly believe
would have killed them off, but it would not do,
so I had to tell them, with regret, that they must
go. They formed up, called me their father,
which was not true, gave me the royal salute, to
which I was not entitled, and moved off to their
camp.

Umvubie paused for a minute to beg my per-
mission to be allowed to kill only a few of the Natal
Kafirs, who he was sure had annoyed me very
much. Alas ! I could not grant his modest request,
so again saluting he sorrowfully departed after his
men. In the meantime the other natives had
fallen in and had gathered round me in a ring.

I told them in a few plain words what I thought
of them. Of course I spoke through Duncombe
and I guessed from his vehemence and impassioned

156 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

gestures he was emphasizing my remarks with a
few of his own. I told them that the Great White
Queen would send them women’s aprons when she
heard of their cowardice and that they had better
go home and dig in the fields with their wives.
This is the greatest insult you can offer a warrior
and they hung their heads in shame.

But when I told them to go, and advised them
to continue their journey to a country even hotter
than Natal, they waited not for pay nor rations
but those of them who had guns threw them down
and the whole of them breaking ranks bolted each
man for his own home. The Zulus, forming them-
selves into solid rings, marched past our group of
officers, raising their shields in the air, in salute,
and rattled their assagais against them ; then
breaking into a war-song marched proudly away,
every one of them a man and a warrior. So exit
the rank and file of the 3rd N.N.C.

Now what was to be done with the officers and
non-coms. ? All the former and some of the latter
had horses, so with Colonel Glyn’s sanction I
formed them into a troop and we took on ourselves
the duties of scouts and other things.

But there was lots of work to do besides. The
dead to be buried, the smouldering hospital to be
cleared away and the laager to be strengthened
and made defensible, so officers and men turned
to and worked like niggers, when driven by a strong
armed overseer.

We had by this time learned our lesson and
there would be no more camping without laagering.

Everyone was pretty sick; the first 24th had
lost their Queen’s colours, their band instruments

UMVUBIE REQUESTS TO BE ALLOWED TO KILL JUST A FEW NATAL KAFIRS.

LIFE AT ROURKE’S DRIFT 157

and had been fearfully cut up both in officers and
men. The second 24th had lost both their colours,
their band, and a lot of officers and men. We had
lost everything except what we stood up in. We
had neither tents, blankets nor greatcoats; not
a spare shirt or a spare pair of socks to our names.
I had a tooth-brush but I believe it was the only
one in the crowd and I was selfish enough to keep
that to myself. We had however plenty of food and
drink (vile Natal rum), tobacco (Boer) splendid
it was but at that time I had not learned to
appreciate its good qualities lime juice, soap,
tea, coffee and sugar in abundance but we were
short of ammunition. The reserve ammunition
had, for some extraordinary reason, not been
brought up to the base and many an uneasy glance
was cast at the small pile of ammunition boxes.
There is a good story about the reserve ammuni-
tion. It was being brought up to Helpmaker and
had reached Sandspruit at the foot of the hills,
when the O.C. of the wagon escort heard the news
of the disaster. It was night and he had it all
buried so as to prevent the Zulus getting possession
of it in case he was overpowered. After reaching
Helpmaker in safety a party was sent to find it and
bring it in, but the rain had removed all marks
and traces and although lines of soldiers were
formed who advanced prodding the ground with
their cleaning rods no ammunition was ever found
during my stay at Rourke’s Drift. We were there-
fore miserably short of ammunition and not at all
comfortable in our minds until somehow we re-
ceived a wagon load from somewhere and then we
prayed for the enemy to come on.

158 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

The next day the two officers who had escaped
on the 22nd, but who had not remained at Rourke’s
Drift, returned, and one of them informed me that
he had got away in company with two of the officers
of the first 24th, one of whom carried the colours of
his regiment.

The story he told me was that they all three
reached the river and plunged in. One, Lieutenant
Coghill, got across safe. The other officer, who
carried the colours, Lieutenant Melville, had his
horse shot in the middle of the river where he lost
the colours which were swept away by the current.

Lieutenant Coghill at once re-entered the river
and went to his friend’s assistance and they got
him to the bank; here Lieutenant Coghill’ s horse
was shot and my officer’s horse turned turtle over
a boulder but got out safe. The three officers
scrambled out unhurt and my officer ran after
his horse, caught it at the top of the hills and got
away.

I immediately reported the story to Colonel
Glyn and Harford and myself determined to go
down the river-bed and look for the colours. Major
Black was also very keen on the job. A few days
afterwards the river went down and a party of my
officers started off to try and find the lost flag. I
was awfully disgusted, for just as I was mounting,
Colonel Glyn called me and told me I could not go
as he wanted me.

The party left however under the command of
Major Black. They found the remains of poor
Melville and Coghill and buried them. Then
Harford and a few of the officers entered the river
bed and found the colours some way lower down.

LIFE AT ROURKE’S DRIFT 159

They returned to the laager and as Black
handed the old flag over to Colonel Glyn the
excitement was tremendous, the Tommies and
everyone cheering like fiends. The following day
Colonel Glyn, Major Black and the colours were
escorted by the officers of the defunct 3rd N.N.C.
to Helpmaker where they were handed over to
the keeping of the two companies of the first 24th
stationed there.

The reason I had been unable to take a hand in
the finding of the colours was, that Lieutenant
Chard, R.E., had been taken very ill, and as I was
a bit of an engineer I was used to superintend the
building of the fort. But shortly a company of the
R.E. turned up and I was once more able to be in
the saddle with my boys.

The rains now came on with fury rain, hail,
thunder and lightning, such as is never seen in
England, and we had on an average about four
heavy storms during the twenty-four hours.
There we were without tents, blankets or great-
coats and we had just to grin and bear it. True,
the storms only lasted a short time and then the
sun would shine out and dry as quickly, but we
usually had one storm at least during the night
and then as the sun was absent we had to lie wet
through the remainder of the night and shiver in
the mud or sleep as best we could. We did every-
thing possible to keep the laager clean but notwith-
standing all our efforts it got very muddy.

It was not so bad when you were once down in
the mud but it was very nasty to have to get up
and then lie down again as would be the case if
we had a false alarm. Of these we had but few

160 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

and that notwithstanding the awful strain to
their nerves the men had suffered by the disaster
at Isandlwana, yet it speaks volumes for the second
24th and my filibusters to be able to state that dur-
ing the whole time we garrisoned Rourke’s Drift
not a single shot was fired in the way of a false
alarm. The same cannot be said of the relieving
forces when they reached the front, when disgraceful
false alarms, such as at Fort Funk, became common.
However I will now tell you of the great and only
false alarm that took place at Rourke’s Drift.

We had attached to us a civilian doctor, a very
good fellow, who had seen much service and who
had distinguished himself in the Russo-Turkish
War. He however had had a bad go of fever and
his nerves had gone all to pieces though he still did
his duty. Well one night I was lying down fast
asleep in the angle of the laager I was in charge
of; the aforesaid angle, having been the ancient
pig-kraal of the farm, was by no means a pleasant
bedroom although airy enough, and we had just
had our usual rain-storm, when I was suddenly
woke up by the doctor who in an excited tone said,
” For God’s sake, Commandant, get up, the Zulus
are on us.” I was up in a second and the muttered
order, ” Stand to your arms/’ was answered by a
rustle as the men rose from their mud beds and
manned the parapet. The pig-kraal angle was the
most exposed portion of the laager and being
nearest the river was most likely to be attacked
first. A sharp click as the breeches of the rifles
were opened and shut, a sharper rattle as the 24th
stood to arms and fixed bayonets and every man
was at his post,

LIFE AT ROURKE’S DRIFT 161

Not a further sound, not a word spoken.

I got into the most advanced spot and peered
out into the darkness but could see nothing.

A bit of a moon and the stars gave a glimmer
of light that would have flashed on the Zulu spears
and given them away had they been there, but
I saw not a spark nor flash.

I could see the white range marks that I had
had put up and had any large body of men been
between them and me they would have been
obscured, so evidently my corner of the laager was
not in danger of immediate attack.

Just then Colonel Glyn (the O.C.) came round.
” What is it, Commandant Browne? ” he said to
me. ” I don’t see anything, sir/’ I replied; ” there
can be no large number of the enemy on this front.”
“Who gave you the alarm?” “Doctor -
The Colonel turned sharply round. ” What is it,

Dr ? Why did you give the alarm, sir? “

” Good God, don’t you hear them, sir? ” said the
medico, excitedly. ” Hear them? Hear what,
sir? ” snorted the enraged Colonel. ” Why, the
frogs, sir,” ejaculated the doctor. ” The Zulus
are waking them up as they advance.”

A dead man could have heard the frogs. Any-
one who has ever been in Natal or further north
knows the diabolical row the frogs kick up, after
rain, and the frogs round Rourke’s Drift were
like a strong- voiced crew at a chanty.

Curses not loud but very deep saluted the doctor
from all sides and he retired in disgrace after an
unpleasant tete-a-tete with the O.C., while the rest
of us sought our mud beds again in disgust and
disappointment. Rome was saved by the cackling

162 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

of geese and they received great kudos. But the
frogs lost their chance of similar worship at Rourke’s
Drift owing to the absence of any enemy. Any-
how the only thing expended was cuss words and
they, at Rourke’s Drift, were too plentiful to be
missed. No ammunition was wasted as would have
been the case later on in the war.

And now my messmate Harford got into dis-
grace. He was a gallant officer, a splendid com-
panion, but, and the but is a very big one, he was
a mad naturalist. He caught bugs and beetles
both in season and out of season. I told a tale
about him before in this yarn, but the awful tale
I am going to relate now is one that even after a
period of thirty years makes my blood run cold.
For he committed a sin that in comparison made
the seven deadly sins look trivial beside it. The
crime was this, but I must give a short prelude so
that it may be understood in all its hideousness.

The 24th had a small amount of reserve mess
stores at Rourke’s Drift, we had nothing, and
although there was plenty of Natal rum I could not
face the filth; vile stuff it was and hot enough to
burn the inside out of a graven image. This being
so the 24th, like the rattling good fellows they were,
always asked me over to their corner whenever
they opened a bottle and I had my tot.

Well just about this time a Natal man rushed
through a wagon load of stores and asked leave to
sell them. I happened to have about 2 in my
pocket at the time of the disaster and after buying
two night-caps and some spoons and forks for
Harford and myself, I asked the man if he had any
liquor. He said he had a big square rigger of gin for

LIFE AT ROURKE’S DRIFT 163

his own use but not for trade. I offered all the
money I had left and an equal-sized bottle of Natal
rum for it and we traded. Well now there was
corn in Egypt and I could, in a small way, return
the hospitality of the 24th so I at once sent round
to my friends to come to my corner, that evening
after inspection, and partake of the plunder. They
had run out of spirits and the news was joyful.

I handed the bottle over to my servant Quin
and told him to guard it with his life, and he swore
he would do so. I was called away and I left Quin
on sentry go over that precious bottle; he placed
it carefully between two sacks and sat down on it
so I thought it safe and attended to my duty.
That afternoon we had our usual rain-storm and
when it was over Harford came to me and asked
me if he could have some gin. I was very busy at
the time and said ” Certainly, ask Quin for some.”

Now it struck me it was strange that Harford
should ask for it as he never touched spirits, but
I thought he might feel chill after the rain and
want a tot to warm himself.

Well the retreat was blown, the men manned
the parapet, the O.C. inspected, and the men fell
away. In a few minutes round came my friends,
anxious for the tot they fondly expected to be in
store for them.

‘ ‘ Hoots, Maori, where’s the drappie?” said
Black. I turned to Quin, who was standing stiffly
at attention, and at once saw the worthy man was
disgusted, sulky, almost mutinous. ” Give me the
bottle, Quin/’ I said. ” Better ask Mr Harford
for it, sir/’ he answered, with a grin on his ex-
pressive mug like an over- tortured fiend. ” Har-

164 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

ford/’ said I, ” where is the gin? ” and at once my
heart darkened with apprehensions. ” Oh, Com-
mandant/* quoth he, ” I have caught such a lot of
beauties,” and he produced two large pickle bottles
filled with scorpions, snakes and other foul creeping
beasts and reptiles. ” Do look at them.” ” But
the gin, Harford? ” I murmured, so full of con-
sternation that I could hardly articulate. “I’ve
preserved these with it/’ said he, utterly oblivious
to his horrid crime. ” What! ” yelled I. ” Oh
yes/’ said he, ” this is a very rare and poisonous
reptile indeed ” pointing to a loathsome beast
and beginning to expatiate on its hideousness and
reel off long Latin names. ” I don’t care if it is
a sucking devil,” groaned I, ” but where is the gin? “
” In these bottles,” said he, and so it was, every
drop of it. Ye Gods! The only bottle of gin or
any other drop of decent drink within 100 miles
of us had gone to preserve his infernal microbes,
and a dozen disgusted officers, who were just be-
ginning to grasp the awful situation, were cursing
him and lamenting sadly, oh, so sadly, his pursuit
of Natural History, while dear old Black had to be
supported back to his angle making remarks in
Gaelic. He was such a good fellow he was soon
forgiven, but I do not think the dear fellow
ever quite understood what an awful sin he had
committed or realized what a wicked waste of
liquor he had perpetrated.

THE CRIME OF THE NATURALIST.

CHAPTER XV

COLLECTING INFORMATION AND OTHER THINGS

BUT now the weather cleared up, the flooded river
went down and the days passed joyously and pro-
fitably in scouting down it.

My orders were that I was not to cross the river
unless I considered it was fairly safe to do so or
unless I considered there was something to be
gained by my running the risk in crossing it.
Well of course there was a great deal to be gained
by doing so. The Zulus had kraals on the other
side of the river were they not hostile? and
therefore to be plundered and destroyed. They
had cattle, goats, fat- tailed sheep and fowls were
not these something to be gained?

They had our big camp to plunder might we
not have a little loot to repay us?

No matter, my reader, what your ideas are, as
regards plunder, you would have agreed with us if
you were living on bully beef everlasting bully
beef. Yes, bully beef for breakfast, bully beef
for lunch, bully beef for dinner yea, and if you
were peckish, during the night, bully beef for
supper! Tout jour, bully beef! I am willing to
allow that bully beef is an excellent substitute for
food but at the same time beg to assert it very soon
becomes monotonous and we became desirous for
a change. So our friends the enemy possessing all
the toothsome dainties I have enumerated above

165

166 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

we were very often tempted to cross that river and
help ourselves to them and at the same time play
old gooseberry with their owners.

So we used sometimes to cross that river, before
daylight, and beat the Zulus up in their kraals
when blazing huts, cracking carbines and revolvers
would make them understand that we were still
alive and kicking and then all the Zulu men having
been killed or escaped, each one of us jumped what
he could, one man a sheep, another a goat, others
pots of Kafir beer; the fowls stupefied by the smoke
of the burning huts would be caught, have their
necks wrung and be tied to the Ds. of our saddles
and then off we would go driving the cattle before
us like a lot of jolly old Border moss troopers.

Troth myself and my pirates lived high and
I always took care that the O.C.’s mess had a good
joint or a pair of fowls. ” Maori, where on earth
do you get these things from? ” he would inquire.
” Find them down the river, sir,” I would reply,
and he would go away, shaking his head and mutter-
ing to himself biblical remarks about Ananias,

d d thieves, will get themselves all killed, must

put a stop to this, etc., etc., but he dined well and
no stringent orders were promulgated.

One evening the O.C. sent for me to dine with
him. I had sent him a pau (bustard) I had shot with
my revolver and as he had also received some small
stores from Helpmaker we fared sumptuously.
After a tot and a smoke he looked at me and said
quietly, ” Maori, do you think you could catch
me a live Zulu? ” I said, ” I don’t know, but I
will try, sir.” He said, ” Don’t hurt him too much
as I must question him. I am very anxious to

COLLECTING INFORMATION 167

obtain information on certain matters and it is
the only way I can obtain it.” I said, ” Had I
not better question him outside, sir? ” He said,
” No, I’ll have none of your Spanish Inquisition
tricks. You bring him into camp, I will question
him myself.” I was not at all sure the dear old
man knew how to extract information out of a
native but I always obey orders, that is, if my
inclinations are not too strong the other way.
So talking the matter over with Captains Dun-
combe and Develin we determined to cross the
river during the night and lay an ambuscade for
any man who might be travelling from kraal to
kraal. This we did and hiding our horses among
some bushes and rocks we lay dogo by a footpath
and waited.

About 6 a.m. along came a native and we were
on him before he could let a yell out. I had him
by the throat and threw him. Buncombe had him
by the arms and Develin tied them. In a few
seconds we were mounted, a rheim was passed
round the Zulu’s neck so that he must run or hang
and we were just starting when a lot more natives
appeared. Duncombe had the prisoner, so at
once cantered off while myself and Develin turned
to cover his retreat. We were both dead shots
and the party of the enemy were so surprised and
astonished that they stood stock still. Crack,
crack went our carbines and over rolled two of
them. We loaded again. Both our horses were
trained shooting horses and stood like rocks. We
let rip and over went two more; again we fired
and browned them, the M.H. bullets at 100 yards
range would go through two or three men, so they

168 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

let go a yell and bolted. So we turned our horses
and cantered after Buncombe, who was riding as
fast as he could get the prisoner to move. A little
persuasion from the butt end of a carbine made
him mend his pace so that we reached and crossed
the river without being cut off and brought our
capture to the laager in triumph.

Our prisoner turned out to be a seasoned warrior
instead of a young man so Colonel Glyn could get
nothing out of him and gave orders that he should
be taken down to the drift and let go.

He was also unkind in his remarks to me and
blamed me for bringing him such a man as if I
could pick and choose, besides he had only re-
quested me to catch him a nigger and had not
specified what sort of a one he wanted, but then
this world is full of injustice and a scout must not
be cast down if he gets his whack of it.

Now we had a picket on the top of the hill at
the rear of the fort and they reported that they
daily saw a Zulu at the top of another hill, over-
looking the fort, who evidently took stock of every-
thing that went on. After a few days this bounder,
evidently thinking he was quite safe, began to send
up smoke signals and this piece of cheek roused the
bile of the O.C. Several parties were sent out to
catch him, but he could see them leave the camp
and he would disappear into some very rough
ground. One night the O.C. sent for me and said,
” Maori, I want you to put a stop to that fellow,
it is simply disgraceful you have allowed this kind
of thing to go on so long.” Here was more in-
justice; he had entrusted the suppression of the
Johnnie to others and now blamed me, but I have

COLLECTING INFORMATION 169

found it sound policy never to argue with or point
out his faults to a choleric or liverish senior so I
wisely said nothing but accepted the rebuke and
the contract with equanimity.

It was evident that the Zulu must cross the
river somewhere and I had noticed while scouting
down our side of it a spoor leading in the direction
of the hill from which he carried on his observations.
At this spot there was a large mealie field abutting
on the rough ground on the bank of the river, then
some open ground and then some small patches of
mealies. I had noticed that the spoor ran from the
big field to one of the small patches and I deter-
mined to try for him there. Taking my two officers,
Captains Buncombe and Develin, with me, we left
the laager a couple of hours before daybreak and
rode down to the spot, hid our horses and lay dogo.
As soon as it was light we observed carefully the
far bank of the river, the near bank we could not
see, and the open space between the big field of
mealies and the patch. Develin looked after the
bank, Buncombe watched the open ground and
I let my glance wander everywhere. One of us,
therefore, if he came, was bound to spot him. It
had not long been daylight when Bevelin whispered
to me, ” There he is.” There was no morning mist
and I just spotted him slide down the far side of
the river bank, where we lost sight of him. We
could now all concentrate our attention on the open
ground and presently Buncombe spotted him crawl
from the mealies and start squirming towards one
of the small patches for fresh cover. I must say
he did it splendidly; his naked body blended with
the colour of the ground and would have been un*

170 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

seen by an untrained eye. He was evidently
paying most attention to his right flank on which
side was the camp from whence he might expect
danger but we were on his other side and well con-
cealed. We could easily have shot him but I
wanted to capture him alive. My last capture had
not been a lucky one and I wanted to take a
prisoner to the O.C. as I knew he was most anxious
to obtain information. Well we watched our
friend gain the small patch. We could hunt him
out of that if he tried to hide there, so we mounted
and went for him. He must have been well on the
qui vive for we had not gained the open when he
burst out of his cover and was running like a scared
cat, for the big field, to try and regain the rough
ground by the river bank, where he, at all events,
would be safe from capture. But it was not to be.
He ran well and was within thirty yards of his
refuge, when my horse, the fastest of the three,
overtook him and a tremendous smash, between the
shoulders, from the butt of my carbine sent him
rolling over and over like a shot rabbit. Before I
could pull up my horse, the others were up to him
and had tied his arms so that when I rode back
to them he was sitting up looking very cheap.
As he was still a bit sick I gave him some water and
looked him over.

I was out of luck again, for instead of being a
young fellow as I had hoped, he turned out to be
a fine old war-dog, so it was good-bye to any chance
of getting any information out of him. His field
kit consisted of the usual Zulu outfit, one skin
apron in front and one behind with the usual charm,
etc., but there was one etc. he had no right to wear

COLLECTING INFORMATION FOR THE O.C.

COLLECTING INFORMATION 171

and that was a piece of turkey-red cloth bound
round his head. This was the uniform of the Natal
Native Contingent and on Duncombe demanding
why he wore it, he answered, so as to deceive the
red soldiers if he chanced to meet any. This was
a fatal admission as it at once turned him into a

spy.

I almost felt sorry for the poor chap, but a
scout must have no feelings and years of savage
warfare had blunted any I might have ever pos-
sessed, so as soon as he had recovered his wind a
rheim was passed round his neck and we trotted
back to camp. On our arrival there we handed over
the prisoner to the main guard, which during the
day used a wagon outside the laager for a guard-
room, and I at once reported to the O.C.

He ordered me to return to the prisoner, ques-
tion him and then to report anything I might find
out. This I did but of course could get nothing
out of him, though he owned up readily he was
a spy and that he wore the piece of red stuff round
his head as a disguise. I was turning round to
return to the O.C. when I struck my shin, which
I had badly bruised a few days before, against
the boom of the wagon. The pain was atrocious
and I had just let go my first blessing when the
Sergeant-Major, a huge Irishman, not seeing my
accident, asked, ” What will we do with the spoy,
sor? ” ” Oh, hang the bally spy,” I ripped out
and limped away, rubbing my injured shin and
blessing spies, wagons and everything that came
in my way. On my reporting to the O.C. that I
could get no information, but that the man owned
up to being a spy, he ordered the Camp Adjutant

172 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

to summon a drum-head courts-martial to try
him. Paper, pens and ink were found with diffi-
culty; true, there was no drum but a rum keg did
as well.

The officers, warned, assembled and the
Sergeant-Major being sent for was ordered to
march up the prisoner.

He stared open-mouthed for a few seconds,
then blurted out, ” Plaze, sor, I can’t, shure he’s
hung, sor.” ” Hung ! ” exclaimed the O.C., who was
standing within earshot. “Who ordered him to be
hung? ” ” Commandant Browne, sor,” replied the
Sergeant-Major. ” I ordered him to be hung? “
I ejaculated. ” What do you mean? ” ” Sure,
sor, when I asked you at the guard wagon what
was to be done with the spoy did you not say, sor,
* Oh, hang the spoy/ and there he is,” pointing to
the slaughter poles, and sure enough there he was.
There was no help for it. It was clear enough the
prisoner could not be tried after he was hung, so
the court was dismissed and there was no one to
blame but my poor shin.

By this time myself and my boys had made
ourselves decidedly unpopular on the other side of
the river. No decent kraal could retire to rest and
be sure they would awake in the morning to find
themselves alive or their huts and cattle intact.

The Zulus also could not understand, as my
servant Quin expressed it, our field manoeuvres.

Had they not beaten us at Isandlwana?
Had they not taken our camp, killed all the de-
fenders and captured all the camp contained?
Were not the bodies of 900 white men lying un-
buried there, a feast for the asvogel and jackal?

I
COLLECTING INFORMATION 173

and yet we who ought, by all the rules of
the game (according to their ideas), to have run
away to the sea, were not only sitting tight in a
miserable camp, close to the scene of our disaster,
but were sending parties of white devils across the
river who killed men, burned kraals and swept
away their cattle but who would not wait to be
surrounded and killed. In vain they laid ambus-
cades and displayed tempting baits of cattle; on
those occasions, it would seem, the white men did
not hanker after beef and the traps were of no
avail. Yet something must be done to put a stop
to the nuisance so they appealed to the powers of
Hades and sent for two first-class, up-to-date witch-
doctors and explained their troubles to them.
Could they drive us away? Why of course they
could, provided they were well paid for the under-
taking, so preliminaries being fixed on a satis-
factory and business-like basis, the devil-dodgers
started in to work the oracle.

Now the wind in Natal usually blows two ways
during the twenty-four hours and most days it
would blow across the river towards the camp all
the afternoon. Accordingly one day we saw two
natives appear on the bare ridge on the Zulu side
of the river (the same ridge I wrote about in the
first part of this yarn) who lit a fire and began to
dance and gesticulate round it, the wind blowing
the smoke towards us. We could not make out
their game on the first day, but when the same
thing happened the second day I inquired of some
friendly Kafirs what these bounders were up to.
They informed me, with awe, that the two natives
were very powerful witch-doctors, that they were

174 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

burning mutti (medicine) and parts of the dead
body of a white man, so that the smoke should
blow across to us, frighten us and make us run
away to the sea.

Now this was, clearly, not cricket; moreover
it was against my principles to allow the remains
of one of my comrades to be subjected to heathen
rites, so I determined, although not a very religious
man, to assert the powers of Christianity over
Paganism.

I spoke to Develin on the matter. He had been
a very well brought up young man, before he had
joined the Lost Legion, and although his morals
had somewhat deteriorated since that period yet
he fully agreed that these cantrips must be put a
stop to and expressed his feelings in pungent
words.

But how was it to be done? There was no bush
nor stones on that infernal ridge that would afford
cover to a cat and everything of that kind was far
out of rifle-shot of the spot where these brutes
carried out their unholy rites. However I be-
thought myself of a natural fold in the ground
I had noticed during the loth of January when we
had lined that ridge all day and I mentioned this
to Develin. He thought this would do provided
we got there in the dark and lay perdu all morning.
If they came again we should have them at about
400 yards range and both of us were certain for
a much longer distance than that. Warning
Develin to say nothing to anyone, so as not to cause
unnecessary jealousy, and telling Colonel Glyn I
was going out for an early scout, I forgot to tell
him the purpose lest he should forbid the move-

COLLECTING INFORMATION 175

ment. We left the laager some two hours before
daybreak, on foot, crossed the river, got into the
fold of ground and lay low. We had plenty of food
and drink with us and we determined to stay there
all day. We were going to pit M.H. carbines
against Satan and we felt like Crusaders at their
very best and holiest moments. The day dragged
a bit and it was very hot, but we meant to make it
hotter for those bally rain-makers if they came
and at last they did. They came up the Zulu side
of the ridge and went to the same place where they
had built the fire before and lit another upon which
they threw a lot of stuff that made a big smoke
which the wind blew in the direction of the laager.
Then they began to dance round, point their sticks
at the camp and utter cuss words and incantations.
Disgusting-looking beasts they were and no doubt
were more revolting in morals and manners than
they were in person and field-kit. Troth they
looked fit and proper servants for the Evil One,
at least I am ready to bet that no one else would
have had them in their service and although they
were not aware of the fact they were very soon
to join their master. For by this time we had
them covered. “Take the small one/’ I whispered
to Develin. ” Right,” he replied. ” Are you
ready? ” ” Yes,” said he and we both let go.
My man spun round and round and then fell into
the fire, getting a taste thereby of what was in
store for him later on. Develin’ s one collapsed in
a heap and never moved.

We strolled up to them. My fellow had been
hit through the throat, as I had taken rather too
full a sight, but kicked the bucket when we reached

176 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

him. Develin’s one had been shot through the
heart and on turning the body over we found it
was a woman. We neither of us expressed any
regret as a she witch-doctor is at least ten pieces of
pork worse than a he one and as we walked back
to the laager we patted ourselves on the back to
think that we had put out of mess two of the
foulest monsters that Providence allows to cumber
the earth. Vive la carbine a bas Satan !

CHAPTER XVI

UNDER ORDERS FOR THE CAPE

BUT the good times were drawing to a close, for
one evening two orderlies arrived from Helpmaker
with dispatches and shortly afterwards Colonel
Glyn sent to ask me to dinner. We dined and as
soon as we were alone, he said, ” Maori, I have had
bad news.” ” Good God, sir,” I replied, ” not
another disaster? ” He said ” No, but orders
have come for you and four of your officers, Captains
Buncombe, Develin, Hicks and Hayes to proceed
to Capetown to assist Lonsdale to raise a regiment
of Irregular Horse.”

I was dumfounded, I could not even cuss.
I did not want to go, I was quite happy where I was,
I was at the front; if I went back to the base I
might be kept there, besides I wanted to remain
,with Colonel Glyn. He was a sportsman, a good
soldier, had seen many years of colonial service,
valued Colonial Irregulars, understood myself and
my band of filibusters and would look over our
little eccentricities provided we did our duty and
fought well. I might even be attached to some
Staff College man, far too highly educated to have
any common sense or knowledge of savage warfare
and this I dreaded. In fact I was in the deuce of
a stew. All this and more I pointed out to the
dear old man and begged his aid to extract me from
the soup. He said, ” I have wired to the General

M 177

178 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

requesting him to allow you to stay. I cannot
receive an answer for two days; you can stay till
then.”

Seeing I was very downhearted he said, ” Maori,
you may go down the river to-morrow, and if you
cross I may look over it for once/’ and he winked
a wicked wunk.

I left him and went to my angle disconsolate
but hopeful. After the evening’s inspection I
summoned my officers and told them I intended to
take early morning coffee at a military kraal some
miles down the river. One or two of them opined
it was rather a big order. I allowed the fact and
pointed out that everything depended on our sur-
prising them, and to enable us to do that orders
must be implicitly obeyed. They agreed, and Dun-
combe and I made our plans. We both knew the
place as we had scouted it well. My plan to which
Buncombe agreed was this. He was to take half
a dozen men and to ride to the windward side of the
kraal, they were to take with them a number of rope
torches well covered with tar ; these we had by us.

Just as daylight came they were to light them
and throw them over the palisading on to the huts.
The last few days had been very hot and dry and
the thatch would burn like wild-fire. The gate of
the kraal and there was only one was on the
leeward side and I was to take up my position there,
with the rest of the men (54 in number), and knock
the stuffing out of the Zulus as the fire burned
them out.

This was very simple. The native sleeps
heavily during the early morning and we knew our
ground. Just after midnight we moved out of the

UNDER ORDERS FOR THE CAPE 179

fort and proceeded on our way, crossed the river
and took up our positions without being discovered.
A small ridge of stones about 150 yards from the
gate afforded my men splendid cover; it also con-
cealed our horses and enabled us to keep them
just in our rear so that we could mount and bolt
at once if the Zulus proved too strong for us.
Half a gale of wind was blowing from the right
direction, which drowned any sound our horses
made and we waited impatiently for the dawn.
Presently it came and I could distinguish the gate
of the kraal and also see the foresight of my car-
bine. This was the right moment for Buncombe
to begin. Suddenly a glare of light, then a burst
of fire as torch after torch was thrown onto the
huts. His bugler sounded as loud as he could and
then galloped round the kraal sounding. My
bugler did the same. Buncombe at once joined
up with his men. Wild yells rang out as the
flames, before the strong wind, swept over the
kraal. The huts were close together and in far
less time than it takes me to write it, the whole
place was burning and flaming like the mouth of
Tophet. The gate was burst open and out rushed
a swarm of Zulus mad with surprise and terror,
to be met by a steady volley from my men. Every
bullet told at that range and it staggered them,
but they had to get out or burn. The flames were
behind them and afcove them, the bugles were
sounding, they must get out somehow and escape
somewhere, so they broke through the fences and
thorns and ran for the hills. Volley after volley
was poured into them but go they must and a lot
broke away to the flanks and escaped.

i8o A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Oh, but we got a bit of our own back that day !

” Stand to your horses ” was the order quickly
given, a hurried glance over the men to see no one
was left behind, then mount. In a moment we
mounted and started at a canter and time it was
to go. The Zulus had recovered from their sur-
prise, the war-cry was being shouted on all the hills
and crowds of natives were pouring down after us
to cut us off. But we had the start of them, the
ground was good-going for our horses and we were
over the river before they could get up to us.

On our own side I halted, dismounted my men
and gave them a taste of long-range shooting which
surprised them, making them shake their shields
and spears in impotent anger, but at last tired of
losing men, without being able to hurt us, they
drew off and we went home to breakfast, well
pleased with our little jaunt, not a man or horse
wounded.

The next day passed and during the evening
orderlies turned up with the General’s wire, and
I heard with deep regret that I and the officers
named must proceed at once. This order being
imperative, we were to start next morning at day-
light and make the best of our way direct to Pieter-
maritzburg without any delay.

I called my officers and non-coms, together and
broke the news as gently as I could and then the
row began. They swore I should not go or that
they would all go with me, that I was their com-
mandant and they would be all blankety, blankety,
blanked before they served under any other.
Dear old Glyn and Black came out and spoke to
them. They liked the Colonel but they admired

UNDER ORDERS FOR THE CAPE 181

Black immensely. Could he not swear in a lan-
guage simply heavenly, and although they under-
stood it not, was it not all the more to be admired?
So that when Colonel Glyn promised them that
Black should command them during my absence
they became pacified though the air of the pig-sty
angle was very sulphurous that night with muttered
oaths.

Now my man Quin, with all his good qualities,
was a bad horseman, so I told him I must leave him
behind as the ride would be a very hard one. It
took the worthy man quite ten minutes to grasp
the fact, then when he had done so he saluted me
gravely and said, ” I’ll be blanked if I stop, I’ll
desert and follow you down on foot.” I tried to
argue with him but it was no good, go he would and
go he did. I had a good strong, quiet horse, so I
mounted him on it, but what he suffered on the
journey only the Lord knows. He never com-
plained but I saw the blood running down his
saddle-flaps before the first day was over. Next
morning at daylight we started and I said good-
bye to Colonel Glyn and all the officers of the 24th
with deep sorrow. Colonel Glyn expressed his
regret at my departure, told me to hurry up with
the recruiting and promised me that in the event
of his commanding a column in the new campaign,
I should have a command of Irregular Horse under
him. This comforted me. Then I had to say
good-bye to my officers and non-coms. This was
very painful for all of us. Had I not fought with
them, starved with them, lain out in the rain and
hail with them and above all had I not twisted their
tails for them when they required it?

i82 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

The feeling towards a comrade is very strong in
the Lost Legion, and as I rode away after a hand-
shake all round the air seemed to burn blue and
smelt like a cart-load of Tandstickor matches on
fire. However the last hand-grip, the last cheer,
in which the men of the 24th join, is given and we
ride away. I with a hump on me as big as a
baggage earners.

But we are used to partings in the Lost Legion,
and though we are heading for the base instead of
for the front, yet we soon bucked up. A pipe in
the delicious morning air, a good horse between
your knees, and good trusty pals with you, would
make the most pessimistic misanthrope who ever
croaked buck up, chuck his chest and sing.

We reached Helpmaker, where Captain Uptcher,
first 24th, a very old friend of mine, gave us a good
breakfast. Then our horses having finished their
water and feed we started again for Grey town. It
was a hot and long trek through the Thorn country,
a bit of rough desert no good to man or beast, and
a hot, dreary ride it was even for us officers, trained
and hardened horsemen as we were, while poor
Quin must have suffered awfully. We soon began
to pass lots of outspanned, loaded wagons; these
had been abandoned by their owners and drivers
the moment they heard the news of the disaster,
and there they remained, unguarded, for weeks.
We helped ourselves when we required anything but
pushed on as quickly as we could. Evening came
on and our horses began to get very jaded and
knocked up but they carried us through the
thorns and at last we were on the borders of civili-
zation. A large farmhouse attracted my atten-

UNDER ORDERS FOR THE CAPE 183

tion and I determined to camp there for the night.
When we reached it, we found it deserted. It
must have been left in a hurry, some calves lay
dead in a pen and ducks, hens, pigs, etc., roved
about at their own sweet will. The stable door
lay open so we soon had our horses watered,
groomed and fed and then entered the house to
look after ourselves. It was a fine, nice place
well furnished and must have belonged to very
well-to-do people.

In the dining-room we found the table had
evidently been just laid for breakfast, when the
owners received the news of the disaster. The
coffee -urn was on the table, while the food,
dried up and mouldy, still on the dishes, was soon
thrown out. Quin and Develin started a fire and
made free with a splendid ham, hanging up.
Hicks and Hayes found plenty of eggs and wrung
the necks of a few ducks. Buncombe and myself
had a look round. In the principal bedroom a
gold watch and chain had been left on the table
also a handful of gold and silver coins. There
was plenty of spirits and bottled ale in the pantry
and as by this time the cooks had prepared a
sumptuous feed we were soon enjoying it. Then
for bed.

I decided that we five officers should split the
night into equal watches and said I would take
the middle one, the worst, then threw myself on
a bed and was asleep before I had time to think
where I was.

Quin was exempt from guard as he was cook,
and would have to get early breakfast ready, but
when he awoke me before daylight, I found my

184 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

kind-hearted officers had made another arrange-
ment for sentry-go, leaving me out. They argued
that if Quin was exempt through being cook I was
also exempt as O.C. therefore they had done it all
themselves. They had also groomed and fed the
horses so that after we had finished a good though
rough breakfast we were ready to start. My
officers by acting as they had done were only act-
ing in accordance with the way we have in the
Legion and nothing more was said about it.

We reached Greytown before noon and I re-
ported myself to a Major of the 4th King’s Own who
was Town Commandant. He said his orders were
that I was to go on at once by post-cart, but that
it could only carry two and would not be ready to
start for three hours, when it would call for me at
the hotel.

I decided to take Quin with me, as he had had
quite enough of the saddle, and that the officers
should stay the night in Greytown and ride through
with the horses next day. But how about money?
We none of us had any. Quin hearing my remark
produced from his pocket a handful of gold and
silver. I also caught the glimmer of a gold watch
and chain. ” Here you are, sor,” said he with a
grin, ” here’s my savings.” ” Your stealings you
mean, you d d marauder. I’ve a good mind to
hand you over to the Provost Marshal. Hand over
that plunder.” ” I scorn the imputation, sor,”
said he, ” sure I’m only saving the people’s goods
from them bloodthirsty scuts of savages.” How-
ever before I left I found the rightful owner who
thankfully receiving his watch and chain, returned
Quin the money for his trouble in saving it and re-

UNDER ORDERS FOR THE CAPE 185

fused any offer of recompense from me for having
made use of his house and food.

Well we reached the hotel and I informed the
landlord of our plight and requested him to cash
a cheque for me. He received us with open arms.
” Cash a cheque for you? I’ll cash fifty bally
cheques for you, but no money of yours or your
officers is to be taken in my house. No, you’ve
been fighting for Natal you have. Come right
in.” Then to his wife: “Bet, open some cham-
pagne and get the best lunch going you can/’ Then
bustling to his safe he took out 25 and said:
” Here you are; if this is not enough I’ll send to
the bank for more. Now drink up. Here’s to
you. Sit right down and tell us all the news from
the front.”

I divided the money between my officers and
myself. Quin was already provided for and was
coming with me, but the others would have to pay
their way down with the horses and the days of
loot were past.

We had a good lunch, drank a few bottles of
fizz with the hospitable landlord and others who had
flocked to hear the news. Then the post-cart
drawing up Quin and myself got in and drove off
followed by a rousing cheer.

What a glorious drive it was, up-hill and down-
hill, round corners with a precipice on one side
and the hill on the other. The six mules galloping
with their ears back as if Old Nick was after them
and the cart swinging and bounding behind them
as if it was an air balloon. Risky it looked but the
old-time Natal post driver was as fine a whip as
any the world could produce and knew his work

i86 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

and the road to perfection so the actual danger
was very small.

I had been through it often before, and enjoyed
the pace and the rush through the air but not so
the worthy Quin. He was new to it and it fairly
astonished him. ” Hould fast, your honour/’ he
would yell, as we turned a sharp corner. ” Just
look at that now. We’ll be wanting wings to fly
through the air, like birds, just now. Holy Moses,
that was a squeak. Oh, wirra, wirra, what are we
here for at all, at all.”

Then his conscience, or what he wore for one,
would prick him. ” Holy Mary, I wish I had left
that watch and chain alone,” he muttered. ” Sure
it’s to a priest I’ll confess as soon as I see one, by
this and by that I will.” ” Do so to the Provo-
Sergeant, Quin,” said I. “I will not, sor ; he would
not understand me good intentions, and sure it’s
bad the likes of them think of the likes of you and
me, sor.” There were plenty of relays of mules
and the miles flew past, while the time passed
quickly, shouting at the racing animals and listen-
ing to Quin’s pious ejaculations, so that we reached
Pietermaritzburg before evening after a most
pleasant drive.

We found the town all laagered up and every
one very nervous. As we drove through the streets
men and women came rushing out and shouting
the usual silly questions: Will the Zulus be here
to-night? Is there any danger? etc., etc.

Dropping Quin at the Crown Hotel with orders
to get my traps, that had been left behind, out of
store, I drove straight to the Headquarter Office
and reported myself. The General and most of

UNDER ORDERS FOR THE CAPE 187

the staff were away, but the senior staff officer took
me up to the gaol to report my arrival to Sir
Bartle Frere and Sir Henry Berkley. Queer place
of abode (I thought) the gaol, for H.M. High
Commissioner and the Governor of Natal but it was
the safest spot in the town so they roosted there.

That being over, Captain Grenfell, the S.O.,
said to me, ” Have you saved your dress clothes? >J
” Yes,” said I, ” they are here.” ” Then as it is
guest night at the club come and dine with me.”
” Right,” said I and we parted. On reaching the
Crown Hotel I found Quin had got a hot bath
ready for me, shaving kit and dress clothes already
laid out.

I had a look at myself in the glass, for the first
time, and I did not feel proud of myself, but after
a shave and a wallow in a hot bath, and oh, the en-
joyment of it! self-respect again returned and then
the comfort of being clean and dressing once more.
Figurez – vous the easy dress suit, the clean boiled
shirt with the polished front to a man who for over
a month has lived day and night in breeches,
boots and a tattered patrol jacket.

” Sor,” said Quin, when he had finished dress-
ing me, ” will your honour be getting drunk to-
night? ” ” No, Quin,” said I. ” Then with your
honour’s lave I will, sor.” Of course I had noticed
that he had already laid a good and solid founda-
tion for a big bust. u Quin, have you confessed
yet? ” “I have not, sor, I will wait till I get to
Cape Town; maybe there will be more to confess
and I’ll make one job of it.” :( Mind the Provo-
Sergeant, Quin,” said I. ” I will, sor,” said he.
” I have seen him, he is a townie of mine, and if

i88 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

he is sober at tattoo it won’t be my fault.” So I
left him and went to the club and enjoyed a good
dinner. Serviettes, spoons and forks, finger
glasses! By Jove, I was in a new country and I
who had that morning picked the leg of an under-
done, tough duck, held in my fist, enjoyed all
these. Then the news. We had heard nothing
at Rourke’s Drift for weeks and everyone had
plenty to tell me and plenty of questions to ask
me, so a very pleasant evening was passed and I
returned to my hotel and to bed.

What a night I was having! Fancy, clean
sheets, clean pyjamas, mosquito curtains, how I
luxuriated in them all but fell asleep before I had
time to thoroughly enjoy them. Next morning
Quin woke me and brought me early coffee. ” Well,
Quin,” said I, ” did you enjoy yourself? ” ” I
did, sor. I had two fights I remember well and two
more I misremember but they were good, and with
your lave, sor, there is a man waiting now for me
at the bathing-place. He’s a fine hefty lad and
they do say he is a boy with hands on him he can
use. When your honour can dispense with me
I’ll be with him and it will be the father and mother
of a fine fight; sure the others was only Rookies
and of no account.” ” And the Provo-Sergeant ? “
I asked. ” Faith we put him to bed as drunk as
David’s sow, by ten o’clock last night, but I’ve sent
to wake him up so as not to miss the diversion this
morning.” ” All right, Quin, lay me out some
white clothes and you can go.” I believe the
fight was everything that could be desired. The
fine hefty lad proved to be good with his hands,
for although Quin was the victor, yet he had his

UNDER ORDERS FOR THE CAPE 189

work cut out for him and I did not see him any
more that day.

Next morning my officers arrived and it was
settled that we were to leave for Durban next day
by post-cart. We sold our horses to the Remount
Department, got our traps ready and about 10 a.m.
the cart turned up but no Quin. We could not
wait so Captain Grenfell kindly offered to have all
the police-stations, guard-rooms, and other places
of refuge searched for him and send him on if found
so we started without him and reached Durban
that night. On the way we passed the General
and his staff and I paid my respects to him. On
reaching Durban we went to the Royal Hotel, and
next morning, to my unbounded astonishment, who
should walk into my room but the missing Quin.
How he got down the Lord only knows. Quin
fenced with my questions when I asked about his
journey but I have always been under the impres-
sion that he must have stolen two or three horses
en route. Anyhow he was there and strangely
anxious to get my traps on board ship. This was
done and at midday we crossed the bar and with
our bow pointing S.W. said ” Au revoir” to Natal
and steered for Cape Town.

PART II

CHAPTER I

LONSD ALE’S HORSE

WE had a very pleasant though slow trip to Cape
Town and one I thoroughly enjoyed as it was such
a complete rest, not that my health required re-
pose and I was naturally burning to get back to
the front but there was much satisfaction, on a
dark stormy night, to listen to the howl of the wind,
the wash of the waters and the splash of the rain
on deck and be able to say, ” Thank the Lord I’ve
not got to visit outlying pickets to-night,” or
coiled up in my comfortable bunk grunt to myself,
” This is better than a wallow in the mud on the
lee side of a wet bush.” But such selfish and syba-
ritic meditations were however subject to rapid
change and I would fret and harass myself with
the questions ” Are they having any fun at the
front? ” ” Are the Zulus on the move and
hostile? ” May be they are attacking Rourke’s
Drift or Helpmaker at the present moment and
my late comrades are fighting for their lives and
the honour of our grand old Queen while I am
snoring like a fattening ox in his litter, or gorging
myself at a luxuriously-spread table, drinking iced

drinks, while they, grimy with sweat, dust and

191

192 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

blood, are facing death and the devil, playing men’s
parts in the most honourable of all games, namely,
that of war, and doing it on bully, biscuit and
muddy tepid water. Faith and when these
thoughts entered my brain I would fret and worry,
for my vivid imagination pictured the scene of a
Zulu attack and I could plainly see with my mind’s
eye the long lines of rushing, yelling, whistling
savages, note their flashing assagais and waving
plumes, hear the clatter of their red, white or black
shields, but above all the gallant, bronzed- skinned
warriors themselves as they charged madly home
to victory or death. On the other hand I could
see the stern faces of our noble Tommies, in whose
eyes shone the British lust for battle as they calmly
emptied their rifles, on the muzzles of which glanced
the silvery bayonets so soon to be dappled red. I
could see the calm, collected officers giving their
orders and the gallant old Colonel standing in the
midst of the turmoil as cool as if in his garden at
home. All this I could see but my thoughts dwelt
more on my own particular crowd, the reckless
lost legionaries I had so lately commanded, and I
seemed to hear their wild cheers and imprecations
and noted their savage eagerness to get to hand
grips with their foes. Oh, but at such moments
the longing to get back to my Lambs, at the front,
seemed to be almost more than I could bear and
I would pace the deck like a caged lion, cursing
the luck that had sent me away from the game I
so fondly loved and the boys who might be playing
it. Quin at such times would try to comfort me.
” Sure, sor,” he’d say, ” there’s devil a bit of fun
going on up there at all at all, nor there won’t be

LONSDALE’S HORSE 193

till the rainforcements come out. The Gineral,
dear man, can’t move, sor, and the black hathen,
bad luck to them, will be busy waking their dead,
licking their wounds and witch – doctorin’ their
dirty sowls. So rest aisy, sor, sure we’ll soon raise
the men and be back again in toime to take the
floor when the new divarsion starts and it’s thin
it’s ourselves who’ll be better for a few weeks’ good
aiting and drinking and soft lying and thin yer
honour has not cologued with a lady for years;
troth we’ll both be more civilized after a little
famale society, God bless thim.” ” Yes, Quin,”
I’d chip in, ” and there’s that long-deferred con-
fession of yours you have to make. Sure if you
let it stand over much longer you’ll have to get
relays of priests to hear it all, and by gad, if it’s
Father O’Connell who has to hear all about your
villainies, troth it’s myself as will speak the word
to him that will put a stop to your aiting, drinking,
debauchery and philanderings. I know your little
ways, Quin my boy, it’s the morals of an old torn
cat you’re acquiring. Faith it’s another jaunt up
into the Uriwera country you are wanting to cool
you off, for it’s too fat and lusty you’re getting.”
At the receipt of this broadside the worthy faithful
fellow would retire with a broad grin on his ex-
pressive mug, muttering, ” Maybe the holy man
would say to yer honour ‘ Troth, Mejor, ’tis yerself
and yer man that makes a foine half section, for
there’s a pair of ye’s as the divil said to his horns ‘
but sure, sor, it’s not my place to know what his
riverence says or thinks.” On my way down the
coast we took on board, at East London, a middle-
aged American gentleman who turned out to be a

194 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

splendid companion, chock-full of dry humour and
yarns of the late Civil War, in which he had seen
much service. His arrival on board, inside a
swinging basket, was by no means dignified, as he
was shot out on deck like a bag of monkey’s rations
and sat there for a minute or two tenderly rubbing
certain portions of his human corpus while his
spirit – guided language wandered into flowery
realms of quaint though very sincere invocations
against the ship, the surf boat and the sea, while his
peroration anent the man at the steam winch was
so sublime that it made the donkey-engine mani-
pulator, an artist himself in cuss words, turn green
with envy and open his mouth in awe and astonish-
ment. Much amused I tendered a helping hand,
which he accepted and regained his feet, where-
upon, after he had subjected me to a close scrutiny,
he said with great solemnity, ” Sir, I am indebted
to you for your courtesy, please accept my thanks/’
I bowed and he continued: ” I guess, sir-re, judg-
ing from your dress and appearance you are a
British fighting man, is that so? ” Again I bowed
and he went on : ” Wai, I calculate, that the weather
signs your face shows, you air just down from the
front, on duty. Yes, sir-re, men resembling your-
self and these other gentlemen don’t have no
urgent private business, family or otherwise, as
to make you howl for leave, when thar’s a dog and
monkey time, with bullets flying up on the frontier.
No, sir-re, I’ve been there some and know.” Again
I acquiesced, and he drawled on with such en-
hanced gravity, that had it not been for the burst
of supernatural eloquence which he had let fly a
few minutes before I should have thought that he

LONSDALE’S HORSE 195

was a fancy religion sky-pilot about to give tongue.
” Wai, gentlemen, that being so, I should like to
take up my parable and tell you, that you Britishers
deserve all the Hades that the tarnal niggers gave
you the other day, yes, gentlemen, and more, you
strangers can take my word for it. Providence

never intended this d d country for anyone

bar Niggers, Flies, Missionaries and Jews. No,
God Almighty never wanted you Britishers nor
any other civilized white man to enter South
Africa and did his best to keep us out or why in
thunder did he place a damned bar across every
harbour mouth? Yes, sir-re, he did it, to keep us
white men out, and as we lack gumption not to
take his hint, you Britishers get your gruel from a

lot of d d Ethiopian minstrels and I, Colonel

Cyrus P. Stanwood, late of the Confederate Army,
comes nigh to breaking my darned crupper bone,
busting my pants and using profane language
boarding this packet.

” And now, sir-re, if you’ll add to your courtesy
by pointing out the direct trail to the bar saloon
I suggest we, and these other gentlemen, make a
bee-line for it and imbibe cocktails to the health
of the great and good Queen, the President of the
United States, a lost cause, and all fighting men.
Say, strangers, shall we get? ” We got.

The advent of Colonel Stanwood was indeed a
Godsend to us, as the coasting boat on which we
travelled put into every port en route and we also
were delayed by heavy weather, so that his quaint
yarns and dry humour helped to pass the time
which otherwise would have hung heavily on our
hands. The boat was, moreover, crowded with the

196 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

widows and orphans of the 24th Regiment, who
had been embarked at East London, and very
many of these forlorn creatures benefited largely
by his open-handed generosity; he was a wealthy
man who, not being goody-goody, believed in re-
lieving distress with dollars and not with good
advice, tracts, and red tape, which so many people
in England believe in. Faith he was a white man
and one who acted up to the maxim that ” blood
is thicker than water/’

We reached Cape Town, where I found that
Lonsdale had already started to form the nucleus
of a regiment. He had taken down with him from
Rourke’s Drift a captain named Gordon and had
inspanned a fine young Englishman Kynnersley
Gardner whom I had been messmate with at Kei
Road and who had seen service with the 88th
and 24th, during 1877 and 1878, as Adjutant and
Paymaster. These officers had already recruited
one troop which was despatched to Durban under
Gordon a few days after my arrival. Our office
was within the castle and I was soon busy at work
passing and attesting men, Quin acting as a most
efficient recruiting-sergeant, and Gardner giving
me great assistance. We had no difficulty in
getting men but when it came to clothing and
equipping them it was quite another pair of shoes.
There was no spare clothing or equipment in the
Government stores, so Lonsdale had to employ
local Hebrew contractors who not only broke faith
with him as to the date the goods were to be de-
livered on, but also eventually robbed the Govern-
ment of a vast sum of money. I have no space
to descant in this book on the shameless robberies

LONSDALE’S HORSE 197

perpetrated by civilians and others on the Imperial
Exchequer during the Zulu and subsequent wars
in South Africa, nor to animadvert on the folly, if
not worse, of officers placed in high authority who
made contracts with and confided in men well
known to be the most infernal rogues in the country,
but this I hope to do in a following work, when I
think I shall open the eyes of my readers as to how
their money has been spent. But now to continue.
There was great trouble after Isandlwana in getting
Totty or native wagon-drivers and voerloupers,
as all the coloured people in South Africa dreaded
the name of the Zulus, so that no sooner had I re-
cruited a considerable number of men for Lonsdale’s
Horse than I was dispatched into the Caledon,
George and other outlying districts to buy horses
and recruit Cape bastards, as it was fondly hoped
that the latter, having a strain of white blood in
them, might not be so nervous as Colonial or Natal
Kafirs. I however obtained but few and was
sadly hampered by the missionaries, at the various
mission stations myself and Captain Develin
visited. N.B. I shall give my experiences with
missionaries, I.D.B.’s and Army contract swindles
in the book I have already mentioned it is my
intention to publish. As regards the horses, I
obtained a considerable number fairly cheap and
of good quality and sent them down to Cape Town,
where they were grabbed by the Imperial Remount
officers for the regular regiments, so Lonsdale’s
Horse went short.

I was therefore very pleased when I received
orders to return to the front though my joy was
tempered by being directed to call in, en route, at

ig8 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

East London and King William’s Town so as to
take on the men recruited at those places. This
I did and reached Durban with some sixty tatter-
demalions, without either arms or uniforms as
there were no stores to be obtained in King. On
landing in Durban I found everything in an ab-
solute state of chaos. Store-ships and troop-ships
began to arrive and no provision had been made
to receive or distribute the stores, equipment or
clothing, etc., as it was landed. The Durban
wharves, much smaller in those days than they
are now, were soon covered and cumbered with
mountainous heaps of all sorts of goods which the
single rail on to the town vainly tried to reduce;
nor when the trains were loaded could the stuff
be handled at the small town station so that in
order to clear the trucks, for fresh loads, all their
contents had to be dumped down along the line,
where they were piled up in inexorable confusion,
no one knowing or seeming to care where any
stated supplies were or how they were to be come
at. On my reporting myself to the General com-
manding the base of operations, he was good
enough to thank Providence for my advent,
stating as his reason that the hundred or more
men, recruited in Durban, for Lonsdale’s Horse,
were lawless banditti, a menace and terror to the
town and a cussed nuisance to himself and that
he must detain me at Durban to curl their tails.
He was certainly very kind about my detention
and asked me to dine with him the following even-
ing, provided that in the meantime I had not been
butchered by my men. This was by no means
cheering news for me who had fondly hoped to

LONSDALE’S HORSE 199

get on to the front next day, and recollections of
poor Pulleine’s Lambs flashed through my mind
while my heart grew dark with apprehensions of
a long detention at the base. Nor were my mis-
givings unfounded for on proceeding to the camp
of Lonsdale’s Horse I found the men all the
General had described them to be, and worse, in
fact he had been most charitable in his description
so that I had to buckle to and knock them into
shape. My word it was a job; Lonsdale advised
me he had forwarded uniforms and equipment for
two hundred men. Where the cases were the
Lord only knew and as He would not tell us we
had to prospect and overhaul the miles of jumbled-
up stores heaped along the railway lines to find
those that belonged to us. After days of search-
ing we found some, and with great trouble I
managed to get two more troops equipped and
sent to the front while I also got the remainder
of the condottieri out of Durban to a place called
Saccharine, where they could do but little harm and
their vagaries not be criticized by an unappreciat-
ing public. All this was a fearful nuisance to
myself, longing as I was for active service, but I
did however manage to get a few hours at the front
and had the great good luck to just drop in for and
take a hand in the battle of Ginginhlova. I had
had to make a flying trip up to the base camp at
the Tugela River reaching there three days after the
relief column had started in to succour Pearson’s
men beleaguered in Etchowe, and while I was talk-
ing to Colonel Hopton of the 88th, who was in com-
mand there, an important dispatch arrived for Lord
Chelmsf ord who had gone on with the relieving force.

200 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

This was my chance, and I begged the Colonel
to allow me to carry it on, which after some demur
he consented to let me do. Overjoyed at my
miraculous luck I was soon in the saddle and by
riding hard overtook the column as evening came
on and they were forming laager or trying to do
so, for when I had delivered the dispatches, I
looked about and marvelled at the confusion going
on. At that time I had never before seen a laager
formed, no more had any other English officers then
present, and in my humble judgment it would have
been sound policy for the Chief Staff Officer to have
pointed out the position on which he wished the
work to be formed and then to have left the detail
of the movement to be carried out by the Dutch
and Colonial conductors, most of whom had prob-
ably been born in laagers, or at all events knew
how to bring up and swing the long teams of oxen,
so as to ensure each wagon reaching its proper
place. Had this been done the laager would have
been formed in a very short space of time and the
troops would have had ample opportunity to eat
their suppers and make themselves comfortable,
but this plan would have been far too simple for
the British Staff College man of that ^poch, so
instead, excited staff officers and Alders!*, t- trained
transport conductors who, until a few days previ-
ously, had never seen, much less handled, a South
African bullock wagon and who could not speak
one word of Dutch or Kafir, took the contract in
hand and of course tied the long teams of oxen into
knots and made such a mess and confusion as would
have delighted any old mummy ever embalmed
in the War Office. Three times these energetic,

LONSDALE’S HORSE 201

zealous, but, for laagering purposes, utterly incom-
petent officers essayed to form laager and three
times they ignominiously failed, and it was not
until hundreds of soldiers had been employed to
pull and haul on the wagons that at length a forma-
tion was completed which although it might gratify
a Staff College man would have excited derision in
a dopper boy of tender age. No sooner were the
wagons in position than the troops were set to
work to dig shelter trenches, which when completed
were at once manned, the Tommies being kept in
them all night, and continuously on the alert, a
very bad precedent for youths of immature
nervousness, especially as, during the whole night,
excited officers wandered to and fro fussing and
worrying their men with such exhilarating warn-
ings as ” Close up, men, close up, close up, be ready
men, be ready, the Zulus might break through
here,” etc., etc., until the wretched, town-bred
conscripts shivered with apprehension in their wet
jackets, for as we had heavy rain during the night
and as some wiseacre thought it might spoil the
laager to unpack the men’s greatcoats and blankets
the miserable lads were subjected, unprotected,
to the wet. Also for the same reason, the majority
of the troops went without food, which was a very
bad preparation for youthful street arabs to under-
go just on the eve of being introduced to an enemy.
It must be remembered that the regiments sent
out to Natal, after the disaster of Isandlwana, were
the first products of the then newly-invented
short service system; that their ranks denuded
of seasoned men were for the most part filled with
boys and that the majority of the non-commis-

202 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

sioned officers, the real backbone of the righting
line, were of such tender age as to be utterly value-
less, so far as giving confidence to their squads
on the field of battle, this in itself being a great
source of danger. Again, the men being chiefly
recruits, drafts from the linked battalion, or volun-
teers from other regiments did not know their
officers and, for the same reasons, the officers did
not know their men, while the total absence of
old and tried soldiers in the ranks left the youthful
conscripts without the steadying leaven so abso-
lutely necessary in an untried body of men going
into action \for the first time in their lives.

It is therefore not to be wondered at, that some
of the troops employed in South Africa during the
latter part of the Zulu War, acted in such a way
as might well make their old regimental ancestors
squirm in their bloody graves and on several
occasions filled their officers with consternation.
Strange as it may appear, still it is, alas, neverthe-
less true, that Englishmen are quite incapable of
learning a lesson, for the salient faults and mistakes
made in a campaign, although animadverted on
at the time by the Press and fully acknowledged
by the authorities, are quickly forgotten or ignored,
especially so when this country is engaged in savage
warfare, for the absurd blunders made by our
ancestors in the American forests one hundred and
fifty years ago I have individually seen perpetrated
in New Zealand and South Africa. There is an
old quotation that reads somewhat in this way,
” Those whom the gods mark for destruction they
first drive mad,” and in my humble opinion the
great majority of the British nation are rapidly

LONSDALE’S HORSE 203

qualifying for lunatic asylums; for here are a
people who having been taught, by bitter experi-
ence in the past, the utter inutility of putting
young and insufficiently-trained troops into the
field, deliberately shutting their eyes and ears to
the lessons we received in South Africa and Egypt,
and pinning their faith on mobs of semi-organized
youths, known as territorials, and that, not for a
war of conquest but for the very existence of the
homeland. There is no excuse for the callousness
of the English nation, re their safety, for they have
not lacked warnings ; these they have had in plenty,
and to a knockabout Frontiersman like myself it
is more than incomprehensible why such warnings
should be disregarded especially when emanating
from such a man as Lord Roberts.

Surely his frequent speeches and letters, noted
as they are by the public Press, should be attended
to: for he is a man grown old in the practice of
warfare and has studied his noble profession from
A to Z yet notwithstanding these his most solemn
warnings are either taken no notice of or treated
with unmerited contempt. Yes, the population of
these islands are content to allow the safety of
their nation to slide as if it were no business of
theirs to bear a hand for the protection of their
own homes and firesides. Nor will they wake up
until they see the scuppers of the roads run crimson
and the red cock crowing over their own home-
steads.

Then by the Lord Harry it will serve them
right ; for when a people are so sunk in sloth that
they will not learn the use of arms, so as to protect
their flag, country and personal property, they

204 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

deserve to be kicked into a more healthy frame of
mind. And now you may say, ” What is this out-
sider talking about? He is not a Staff College man,
nor has he ever held a Royal Commission.” Both
remarks would be quite true, but then the writer
has experienced many years of rough warfare and,
on several occasions, has had to face the music in
the company of semi-trained, unreliable men, so
that he can speak from bitter experience.

CHAPTER II

GINGINHLOVA

THE morning of the 2nd of April 1879 dawned
damp and misty, and the men looked haggard,
depressed and far from lively, but as it was the
General’s intention to halt where we were for the
day, so as to give the oxen and men a much-re-
quired rest, preparations were made for breakfast.
These, however, were quickly interrupted, the
alarm was given, and at 6 a.m. two strong columns
of Zulus came in sight who fording the Inyezani
River advanced to the attack, both columns throw-
ing out clouds of skirmishers to the right and left,
so as to surround the laager, and while they carried
out this movement two other dense columns ap-
peared from the direction of the Amatikulu bush
whose horns rapidly thrown out quickly joined
hands with those already mentioned. The celerity
and precision with which these movements were
carried out was simply beautiful, for, in less than
ten minutes after the heads of the columns had
appeared, the laager was completely enveloped;
a signal was given and the gallant savages started
a charge that for very many of them was to be
their last on this planet. The engagement was
commenced by the Gatling guns at the range of
about one thousand yards but the enemy closed

in very quickly and soon everyone who could use

205

206 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

a rifle was banging away for all he was worth so
that the enemy paused when about four hundred
yards distant and opened a tremendous fire which
was however so badly directed that but few
casualties occurred among our men.

I was at this time greatly amused at the tactics
of an immensely big and fat old Dutchman, one
of the grand old Trek Boers, who although he had
not seen his knees for ages was as full of fight as
an old buck goat. Troth and he fought comfort-
ably, for sitting on the padded driving-box of his
wagon with a case of ammunition on one side of
him, and a big square rigger of gin mighty con-
vanient, he picked off Zulu after Zulu with the
rapidity of a boy looting a cherry tree, while every
time he made a shot he deemed worthy to be com-
memorated he would treat himself to a klein soupje
of gin, chuck a chuckle and rub with gusto the
elephantine protuberance that occupied the locality
of his anatomy which in his youth he had called
his waist. Faith, he was a broth of a boy and did
honour to his parents’ and tutors’ upbringing.

The enemy did not pause long for presently
they must have received some order, or, more
likely, seen some signal, for a tremendous whistle
and yell went up and simultaneously they launched
themselves at the laager. It must have been about
6.20 a.m. when the Zulus made their first great
effort to storm the front, right, and rear faces of
our defences, and their advance was indeed a
splendid sight, as just at that moment the sun
came out and shone full on the lines of plumed
warriors, who, with their arms and legs adorned
with streaming cow-tails and each brandishing

GINGINHLOVA 207

his coloured ox-hide shield and flashing assagais
rushed forward to what he fondly hoped to be an
orgie of blood, with a dash and elan that no civilized
troops could have exceeded. This magnificent
charge, beautiful as it was as a spectacle, was a
trifle too enervating for the over-worried, unfed
and somewhat nervous youths who had to face it,
very many of whom more than wobbled in the
shelter trenches. In fact it was only the frantic
efforts of the officers of one regiment that, on the
death of their Colonel, prevented their men from
making a clean bolt of it, and that just at the most
critical moment when the charging Zulus were
within one hundred yards of the shelter trenches.
Troth it was a near call and for a few minutes it
was a toss-up whether the laager at Ginginhlova was
not to be a second shambles like Isandlwana. Now
the blue- jackets, or rather a portion of them, had
taken charge of the right front of the laager, and
in their usual make-yourself-at-home, handy sort
of way had constructed, out of their kit-bags and
anything else they could get held of, a rough sort
of bastion in which they had planted a Gatling gun,
and as I had no men to look after and had never
before seen a machine gun in my life, I went over
to their post to watch it work, and was much
struck by the cool, dare-devil bearing and splendid
self-reliance of my old friends whom the Maoris
years before had called the Ngati Jacks, who were
as they always have been in the past, and please
God always will be in the future, when in action
thoroughly enjoying themselves as it is only a
right and proper frame of mind for men to be in
when they are doing work for King and Flag.

208 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Comparisons are, I know, odious, but no im-
partial looker-on that day could have been present
without being strongly impressed with the differ-
ence between the conduct of the mature blue- jacket
together with that of the stalwart jolly and the half-
baked nervous boys in whose company they were
fighting.

When I reached the Gatling the Zulu skirmishers
were beginning to close in and the cool, staid old
shell-back in charge of the gun was simply pop-
popping at them in a quiet leisurely sort of a way,
a proceeding that did not seem to meet with the
approbation of a youthful ordinary seaman who
was assisting him, and who, as I came up, said in
rather an excited manner, ” Fire quicker, Quarter-
master, for Gawd’s sake, fire quicker.” u Fire
quicker,” growled the ancient mariner, pausing to
expectorate a much-chewed quid. ” Fire quicker,

yer young scupperling, fire quicker be d d, wait

till the black come thicker,” and for a few
moments he continued his deliberate manipulations.
Presently came the rush, the before-mentioned
Colonel was shot, his regiment became worse than
wobbly and the ordinary seaman had no longer
need to exhort his senior to expedite the juice
distributor which, fortunately not jamming and
being backed up by the steady fire of the blue-jackets
and jollies, in my humble opinion, saved the whole
outfit from being cut up both physically and
morally.

The Zulus’ rush was only checked when they
were within twenty yards of the laager, some of
them falling shot dead at even a closer distance,
while one small boy, a mat-carrier, crossing by a

PRESSED INTO H.M. NAVY.

GINGINHLOVA 209

miracle the zone of fire, reached the Naval Brigade
bastion, where one of the blue- jackets spotting
him, leaned over, grabbed him by the nape of the
neck and collected him, kicking and squirming,
inside the work, where after he had been cuffed
into a state of quietude his captor kept him prisoner
by sitting on him till the end of the engagement.
This youthful corner-man, preserved alive as a
spolia opima, was adopted by the crew of H.M.S.
Boadicea as a mascot and, if I remember rightly,
was subsequently entered into the Royal Navy,
a proceeding that reflects great credit on the handy
men, although I have sometimes thought that con-
sidering the manner in which he was first of all
captured and detained, that the Exeter Hall gang
would have wailed over him as a brutally pressed
boy. After enduring considerable punishment,
which would have been heavier had the troops’
shooting been better, the Zulus fell back, but only
to try and come on again. This effort, however,
was a failure, being quickly checked, and large
numbers were seen leaving the field, whereupon
Captain Barrow’s Mounted Infantry and every
man in the laager, who could raise a horse, dashed
out in pursuit. Of course I joined in the fun,
fondly expecting the fugitives, of whom there
were several thousands still in the vicinity, either
on the tops of the hills or running in front of us,
to make another attempt to put up a fight, but this
they did not do, as those on the hills remained
there until dispersed by the shells and rockets, and
those in the valley simply ran on till they were
either shot or sabred, without making any com-
bined attempt to retaliate on their pursuers,

2io A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Personally I was very busy. I had lost very many
dear friends at Isandlwana, so wanted utu (Maori
for payment or revenge) and, as I was well mounted
and had used a sword from childhood, I took it,
but I had time to notice the sole attempt at re-
sistance that, to my knowledge, was made by one
of the fugitives. The Mounted Infantry had been
raised by Captain Barrow and was composed of
men drawn from every regiment, the only test as
to efficiency being the individual’s statement that
he was able to ride; of course some of them could
do so, but the majority, when mounted, looked as
uncomfortable as a lot of moulting devils squatting
on icebergs, and it certainly would have been much
safer for themselves, comrades, and especially
horses, as well as rendering them more dangerous
to the enemy, had they been served out with
shillelaghs instead of swords. Be this as it may,
as there was no cavalry in the country, two hundred
foot soldiers were clapped into the pig-skin and
issued with carbines and swords in lieu of their
rifles and bayonets. The carbine was all right,
as it is a much handier weapon for a mounted man
to use than a rifle, and of course the men, having
been trained to the use of a rifle, could use the
shorter weapon just as well, but when it came to
Varme blanche it was quite another thing. They
sadly wanted another hand, for you see, being
human, they only had two and when mounted
these were both fully occupied; one holding the
reins so as to try and guide the horse, the other
being required to hold on with so as to retain their
seat in the saddle. A sword was therefore to the
majority of them more of an encumbrance

GINGINHLOVA 211

than a useful lethal weapon. It however had to
be used, when the pursuit took place, and although
but few of the men had the slightest idea how to
handle them, still they drew them and gaily
followed their flying enemies and of course by doing
so they required their right hands to grasp the
sword-hilt instead of the cantle of the saddle,
thereby throwing on the left hand the double duty
of holding the reins and gripping the gullet plates
of their saddles which sadly interfered with the
menage of their horses. Again, although a South
African horse is as a rule most tractable and one
very easily trained, still, like most other quadru-
peds, he objects and maybe kicks, should his
rider all of a sudden require him to gallop after a
mob of howling niggers and at the same time lop
his ear off, slog him over the head, or amputate
a steak from his hind quarter with a long flashing
thing he has never seen before but which he finds
out cuts worse than a sjambok. Nevertheless
and notwithstanding these manifold drawbacks
both men and horses did very well, both being
actuated by the highest possible motives, viz.,
the soldier to do his duty, the steed, because the
rider using his spurs as accessory grappling irons
kept them firmly fixed in his quivering flanks, and
so the gallant Mounted Infantry rode hell for
leather after their foes. Now it came to pass as
I, riding my own line and being very busy using
only the point, chanced to notice a big fine Zulu
louping along through the long grass, and had
half a mind to go for him, but at the same moment
he was charged by a M.I. man, who galloping reck-
lessly past him made a most comprehensive cut

212 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

at him, which however, although it failed to anni-
hilate or even wound the Zulu, still drew blood,
as it lopped off the ear of his own horse, a proceed-
ing that the animal resented by promptly kicking
off its clumsy rider. The Tommy was however
true grit, for in a moment he regained his feet and
hanging on to the reins which, good man, he had
never let go, he turned on to the astonished Zulu
and discharged on to the latter’ s hide shield such
a shower of blows that the noise sounded like a
patent carpet-beater at work and effectually pre-
vented him from using his assagai. Again, I was
on the point of going to our man’s assistance and
had swung my horse ready to do so, when up from
the rear galloped another Tommy who, holding on
to the pommel of his saddle with his left hand,
flourished his sword and shouted, ” Let me get at
the bleeding blighter, Dick,” and then delivered
a terrific cut which in this case missing the crow
etched the pigeon as it nearly amputated poor
Dick’s sword hand, who might well have ejaculated,
” Lord save me from my friends.” This, nor any
other pious cry he did not use, as his remarks, on
receiving the wound, were of a decidedly declama-
tory nature and were sufficiently comprehensive
so as to embrace not only his enemy and his rescuer
but also all things animate and inanimate within
the district. The blighter had however come off
badly for he had been knocked end over end by
the rescuer’s horse, and before he could regain his
feet the rider, whether voluntary or involuntary,
was precipitated on to the top of him and without
further delay, discarding his sword, grabbed the
Zulu’s knobkerrie with which he proceeded to bash

GINGINHLOVA 213

its owner over the head, so seeing they were all
right I devoted my attention to my own work.

The battle of Ginginhlova was most decidedly
a victory, the Zulus having been beaten off and
their army pursued for over seven miles with very
heavy loss, while it enabled Lord Chelmsford to
immediately relieve Colonel Pearson’s beleaguered
column at Etch owe which was the objective of
the expedition. Yet it caused every officer, of
any experience, who witnessed the action grave
anxiety, as the conduct of the young troops engaged
was far from creditable and their behaviour did
not improve. I have no wish to rake up old
scandals, which some apologists declare ought to
be forgotten, but I assert and maintain that the
nation who, after the experiences of Zululand and
Egypt, still rely on young and green troops for
their preservation, while they ignore the solemn
monitions of their most experienced men, deserve
to lose their nationality and become slaves. Of
one thing I am sure, and that is, it was the conduct
of the young troops and the folly of very many of
the senior officers that encouraged the Dutch
Boers to declare their independence and subse-
quently to fight for it. The remainder of the 2nd
of April the troops rested, and on the following day
the General relieved Etchowe and I made the best
of my way back to my Lambs fairly well pleased
with my outing though if possible more anxious
to get back to the front than ever.

CHAPTER III

DETAINED AT THE BASE

THE battles of Kambula and Ginginhlova had
secured the safety of Natal. Troops were rapidly
pouring in and were being as quickly as possible
dispatched to the front. A very strong column
was being formed under General Crealock to ad-
vance into Zululand from the coast and all hands
looked forward to the culminating fight that, in
the natural course of events, must take place near
Ulundi, so that it was a moot point as to which
column would first reach the goal and enjoy the
big battle. It was about this time I received a
letter from Colonel Glyn advising me to try and
join him with as little delay as possible and it
tried my patience sorely when I received orders
to remain at the base and continue to act as
shepherd to Lonsdale’s Lambs. However there
was no help for it and I had to conform to the ad-
monitions of the Catechism ” by doing my duty
in that state of life in which it had pleased Provi-
dence or the Devil but mainly, I think, the Officer
Commanding the Base of Operations to place me/’
though I fear the language I used very often in
communing with myself, for I was never a grumbler,
a thing I despise, is not to be found in a catechism
or other goody-goody literature promulgated for

the benefit and enlightenment of youthful niggers.

214

DETAINED AT THE BASE 215

While in Durban, previous to the relief of
Etchowe, it had been the custom for all officers
not on duty to go down to the docks, so as to meet
and welcome the reinforcing regiments when they
landed, and I happened to be present on the land-
ing of a portion of the crew of H.M.S. Shah, who
were to serve with the Naval Brigade. The General,
together with the fine old Commodore and the
staff, were all there, and very many civilians had
gathered for the same purpose, everyone standing
at the town end of the wharf, so as to allow the
landing party room to form up. The blue- jackets
came ashore in boats, and as the landing-steps
were narrow, only one boat-load could be disem-
barked at a time, the men on landing being formed
into squads and moved forward so as to make room
for those following.

Well, the first squad landed, formed, and, in
charge of a huge petty officer, came tramp, tramp
along the wharf to take up their position where
they were to wait for the remainder of their ship-
mates, and when they reached a point, just opposite
the staff, the petty officer considering he had
allowed sufficient room for the remainder of the
landing party to form on, bellowed out ” ‘Alt,”
but there was no halting in that squad as, perhaps
owing to their novel surroundings or peradventure
not knowing the meaning of the word, they con-
tinued their steady tramp, tramp, tramp. Again
the petty officer bellowed ” ‘Alt,” with a volume
and tone of voice sufficient to have arrested the
flight of a runaway comet, but again no response
from his contumacious or heedless men, who still
continued to gain ground with their ceaseless

216 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

tramp, tramp, tramp. Thunder and turf, this
was too much for the equanimity of that petty
officer. Nelson may have disobeyed orders but
his squad might not, so after one more ineffectual
bellow of halt he rushed at the leading file and
landing him a punch in the ribs that would have

stove in a pulpit howled out, ” Heave to, you “

and the convoy promptly hove to.

The incident was so comical that all us lookers-
on, including the General and staff, burst out
laughing while the grand old Commodore turning
to the General remarked, ” My men may not be
very conversant with military tactics but you will
find them all right when the fighting begins/*
And true enough we did. Lonsdale had sent up
plenty of officers all of them very good fellows and
fine recruits for the Lost Legion, though unfor-
tunately they were only recruits, knowing nothing
about drill, or any other military work, so they
were of but little use to me as I had the trouble of
training them as well as inculcating the rudiments
of drill and decorum into an unruly gang, com-
posed chiefly of runaway sailors and unrighteous
surf-boatmen. I was therefore glad when there
arrived a real live adjutant, one who had served
several years in a crack hussar regiment. He re-
ported himself ready for duty one morning at day-
light and accompanied me to the early drill parade,
where he turned to and worked like a horse, yet,
although he was very smart, both in his drilling
and appearance, there was still something in his
manner that led me to believe that early as it was
in the day he had been kissing the baby (imbibing
over-proof rum), nor as the morning passed could I

DETAINED AT THE BASE ‘ 217

disabuse my mind that he was not rather more
than half-seas over, still he did his duty well and
relieved me of a lot of hard, tiresome work, so I
was duly thankful. Lunch- time came and cool
drinks were in demand; we had had a morning’s
real hard work under a blazing sun, and what with
drilling, giving instructions and a powerful lot
of denunciations my throat resembled a lime-kiln,
and not doubting he must be also equally parched
I said to him, ” Have a drink, Captain So-and-So.”
Quin had at that moment brought me a glass, that
at a pinch might have been used as a stable bucket,
full of iced ginger-beer in which was concealed a
liberal soupgon of gin (the very best drink I know
of for a thirsty man who has been overtaxing his
voice in a very hot climate), that under the same
circumstances would have tempted the Grand
Worshipful Master of any band of red-nosed tee-
totallers to break his pledge, pawn his sash and go
on the bust. I was therefore more than surprised
when my new friend replied, ” No, thank you, sir,
I never touch liquor except when at meals. ” Here
was a paragon and one to be treasured especially
as at tiffin he only consumed a solitary glass of
claret, and discoursed the while on the evils of
imbibing numerous and mixed drinks, giving his
hearers to understand that he was a staunch sup-
porter of a moderation that he carried nearly to
the extreme of total abstinence. All this was very
nice; I was a most modest consumer of alcoholic
beverages myself and, as the rest of the officers
rather resembled the Sahara, I hoped the virtue
of the new adjutant might be contagious and that
they would all go into training so as to qualify

218 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

themselves as candidates for a Zulu Band of Hope.
Yet, still, somehow, his abstemiousness was a
trifle too ostentatious and certainly could not
account for attacks of shakiness, very perceptible
at the daylight parade ; but then he had served in
India, and everyone knows that dingai fever is
prevalent in India, and perhaps such early rising
did not suit his constitution. Yet as he was wont
to retire to the privacy of his tent the very moment
he could do so without the fear of being disturbed,
I opined he ought to rise fresher in the morning
than was the case. However, as he did his duty re-
markably well and was always ready for hard work
my suspicions died away and he became very
popular right through the corps. So things went
on smoothly till we shifted camp to Saccharine
where for over sixty hours we could get no stimu-
lants at all, so that perforce Lonsdale’s Lambs,
nolens volens, were quite sober for the space of
some forty hours.

Now as our officers and non-coms, carried
swords and, inasmuch as none of them, on joining,
had the remotest idea of how to use them, I had
made it a practice to give them an hour’s instruc-
tion every evening, and on the second day of our
enforced sobriety they had fallen in for their ac-
customed drill.

Coming on to the parade ground I missed the
adjutant, so thinking that, indulging in a short
siesta, he had not heard the bugle, I dispatched
a non-com, with my compliments and a request
that he should forthwith attend the drill. And
by the Lord Harry he immediately complied with
my command, for no sooner had the non-com.

DETAINED AT THE BASE 219

entered the tent than he reappeared running like
a scared cat, yelling, ” Wille willoo, blue murder/’
and faith I for one could not blame him, for, in
close pursuit, running with big leaps like Satan
chivying a fancy religion minister, followed the
adjutant who, drawn sabre in hand and clad in
his native modesty, plus a cholera belt, devil a rag
more, unless you count a tin helmet case, worn in
lieu of a chapeau, and a pair of jack spurs buckled
on to his bare shins, as clothing, gave tongue to
the most blood-curdling threats and denunciations.
The fugitive shot past me with the quite super-
fluous announcement, ” ‘E’s a-comin’, sir, ‘e’s up the
ruddy pole ‘e is/’ and at once dodged round the
nearest tent while his pursuer charging up to me
halted and made a most formal salute, at the same
time remarking, “It is hot enough to make a
moulting devil sweat snow-balls.” His statement
might be true, but neither time nor place were
suitable for a discussion on climatic heat, so I
quietly ordered him to hand me his weapon. This,
the habit of discipline still being strong, after a
moment’s hesitation, the poor fellow did, and I
sent him back to his tent under the escort of two
powerful officers where he rapidly lapsed into a
state of dangerous dementia, which the surgeon-
major declared to be D.T/s, and on making strict
investigation I found out that my abstemious
adjutant was a hopeless secret dipsomaniac and
had acquired his dose of the rats by being suddenly
cut off from his regular tonic. Well, poor chap, he
was invalided and I applied to Major W. F. Butler,
C.B., at that time Assistant Adjutant and Quarter-
master-General at Durban, for another and as there

220 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

was a plethora of ex-military men in Natal, at the
moment seeking employment, he kindly dispatched
one to me the following day. In my application
I had intimated that I should prefer one who was
not a secret absorber of alcoholic beverages, and
in the chit the orderly brought back the A. A.Q.M.G.
informed me that although he knew but little
about the officer he was sending, still he could
guarantee that he did not ambuscade his liquorish
propensities. So far so good and I retired under
my mosquito netting at bedtime feeling at peace
with the world.

Next morning, sans an adjutant, I was very
busy indeed, so much so that it was near tiffin-time
before I got back to the lines when I at once asked
Quin, ” Has the new adjutant arrived? ” ” Be-
gorra he has, sor, and he’s the only cool spot in
camp this blistering day, sor,” replied the worthy
man with such a note of admiration in his tone that
it quite puzzled me, so I continued, ” Only cool
spot in camp, what do you mean? ” ” Mane, sor,
why sure, sor, whin he dismounted out of an impty
truck he swaggers up to the tent, sor, an* sez he
to me sez he, ‘ Me man/ sez he, ‘ is it the Com-
mandant’s man ye are? ‘ ‘ I am/ sez I, ‘ at this
moment; ‘ for sure, sor, it’s putting a stitch in your
honour’s pijammies I was; ‘ but there are toimes/
sez I, ‘ whin I’m drill-instructor, recruiting-sergeant,
provost – marshal, squadron-leader and the divil
only knows what else besides in this camp, glory
be to God.’ ‘ Ah/ sez he, * it’s plinty av work ye
have to do in this camp/ sez he. ‘ You’re right,
sor/ sez I, ‘ but as I suspicion it’s the new adjutant
yer honour is, and as I’m doing duty, for the

GUARANTEED NOT TO AMBUSCADE LIQUORISH PROPENSITIES.

DETAINED AT THE BASE 221

moment, as the Commandant’s man, sure it’s the
head he’d knock off ov me if he knew I was discours-
ing yer honour widout askin’ ye av it’s a mouth
ye’ve got on ye, for maybe it’s a drink, or some
breakfast, or a bath ye may be wantin’ an’ me
cologuing here,’ sez I. Wid that he laughs an’
sez he, ‘ It’s a bath an’ a drink,’ sez he, * ye may
give me an’ I don’t care a tinker’s damn if the
one’s as dape as the ocean an’ the other’s as long
as a priest’s conscience,’ sez he. So there he is,
sor, in the bath-hut, yer honour, settin’, as much
av him as he can get in the tub, sor, wid a stove-
pipe hat full of ice on his head, sor, an’ he’s giv’
me strict orders, sor, to bring him an iced gin sling
ivery fifteen minutes, sor, an’ troth he’s a punctual
man, sor, for listen to the tares av him, an’ av yer
doubt him being a cool spot jest step into the hut,
sor, an’ judge for yerself. Oh, holy Saint Bridget,
jest listen to him.” There was no need to strain
my ears, for the shout, ” Hi, bring along that
swizzle,” boomed along the lines and made many
a thirsty old shell-back jump, as if he had been bit
on a tender spot by a Gaily Nipper.

Inquisitive to see the man who could make
himself at home in such a debonair manner I
walked up to the bath-hut, a rough-built grass
structure in which was the half of an old sugar
puncheon that served the purpose of a bath, and
rapped on the door with my sjambok. ” Come
in,” roared a stentorian voice, and entering I dis-
covered the tub to be full, of a portion, of a huge
red-faced man, on whose head was set an old-
fashioned high hat from which ran large drops of
moisture resembling gigantic tears. In his dexter

222 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

hand he held a long sleever full of some cunningly-
mixed drink, while his sinister claw gripped and
gracefully waved a black cigar that was long enough
and strong enough to make a jury dessle-boom for
a buck wagon. ” Good morning, Captain West “
(which was not his name), quoth I, ” I am very
glad to see that you have arrived and that my man
has made you comfortable. Is there anything
else you would like before tiffin? ” ” No thanks,
sir,” the monster replied. ” My wants are few,
trivial, and easily satisfied, but if your man were
to add another glassful of gin and double the allow-
ance of Angostura Bitters to my next glass of
swizzle it will improve it and I shall be quite ready
to join you at tiffin.” ” Cool card,” said I to myself,
as I walked away to our mess tent, “and most cer-
tainly not a secret imbiber, but we shall soon see
how he shapes.” Presently he joined us at tiffin
and consumed sufficient bottled ale as would have
floated a jolly boat, and knowing the quantity of
swizzle he had imbibed before, I marvelled greatly
at his capacity to carry it without turning a hair;
for I am certain that if the amount of moisture
he had absorbed, with impunity, had been spilt
in the centre of the Great Thirst Land it would
have formed an oasis, and that by no means a small
one. Troth he was a powerful drinker and mighty
droughty, but his worst enemy could never have
accused him of being a sly boozer. During lunch
he discoursed on the West Indies, where he had
seen several years’ service in the Royal Artillery,
and spoke highly of the climate, assuring us, that
among the islands an active man might acquire a
thirst that necessitated considerable ingenuity

DETAINED AT THE BASE 223

to quench. He also quoted certain insular tipples,
that required to be drunk on the spot to be
thoroughly understood and appreciated, but
which he promised to concoct, on the morrow, for
our edification; in fact he waxed so eloquent that
he would have afforded great amusement and in-
struction to a blue ribbon army in a state of
mutiny. In person he was gigantic, being over
six feet two inches in height, broad in proportion,
and possessed a hold-all that would have done
credit to a city alderman, so that it certainly re-
quired a considerable quantity of liquid to irrigate
his frontiers. Yet at the same time he was a
smart soldier, who knowing his work did it well
and during the whole time he was with me I never
saw him a least bit the worse for drink. Of course
there were some very queer fish in the ranks, most
of their prototypes I had met before, but one day
there joined such an extraordinary new chum that
I think I may be pardoned for describing him and
his advent into the Lost Legion, as it was repre-
sented by Lonsdale’s Horse. It happened this way.
One morning I was returning from drill when I
met the worthy Quin who accosted me, saying,
” Plaise, sor, there’s a man in yer tint who tells
me he’s come to stop.” ” Who is he? ” said I.
” An officer or a civilian? ” ” Sure, sor, ‘t ‘ud
puzzle Ould Nick to tell ye but he’s dressed beauti-
ful an’ carries a sword that’s a trate to look at,
while the cheek of him’s unbounded; maybe he’s
the Prince Impariel himself, sor.”

I went to my tent where, reclining on my deck
chair, was a young man of some two-and-twenty
summers, who rose with some difficulty on my

224 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

approaching him, tendered me his hand and
offered me a letter; at the same time expressing
a fervid hope that it was near tiffin- time. Previous
to opening the letter I took a good look at my
visitor, and faith he was an object worthy of
scrutiny. Let me commence with his wearing
apparel, for indeed he was clad in raiment such
as I had never seen before in a camp of Lost Legion-
aries. To begin with his hat was a veritable
sombrero, beautifully embellished with a broad
gold band and voluminous lines to say nothing
about an immense pendent plume of white ostrich
feathers that, curling half-way round his hat, fell
gracefully over his shoulder. The chapeau was
splendid but the remainder of his habiliments far
surpassed it in grandeur, for his tunic was made
of purple velveteen, brass-bound all over, white
doeskin riding-breeches and tall jack-boots, such
as are used by His Majesty’s Horse Guards, to the
heels of which were buckled huge Mexican gilt
spurs. Troth he actually blazed in the brilliant
sunshine and fairly rattled when he moved, for
he had fastened on to his short, fat carcase every
blessed patent contraption that an oily-tongued,
outfitting tradesman could persuade a moneyed
new-chum mug to purchase, as being absolutely
indispensable to a young gent contemplating going
to war, so that had it not been for a huge scimitar
like the one Blue Beard flourishes in pantomime,
and a brace of revolvers carried most ostentatiously,
I might have mistaken him for a peripatetic
Christmas tree on the trek. I opened the letter
and glanced through it; it was from a pal on the
staff and was laconic, simply informing me that

DETAINED AT THE BASE 225

the bearer, Mr M’Cuckoo, had been sent out to the
General with strong letters of introduction, request-
ing him to place the sucking hero in a rough irre-
gular corps, so that he might obtain copy, as the
said S.H. intended to take up literature as a pro-
fession, and it was thought that six months*
service at the front, in a corps of Colonial Horse,
would be highly beneficial to him, as he intended
to write a book on the Colonies also. He had
made himself an infernal nuisance at the base, so
that the General, knowing Lonsdale’s Horse to be
composed of the very toughest material out of
Hades, had directed the M’ Cuckoo to be sent to
garner copy in their ranks, and my correspondent
led me to believe that, so long as the General never
saw him again, no questions would be asked, even
should he, the M’Cuckoo, meet with an untimely
death, during the process of his garnering. I
gazed at the poor young man with a feeling akin
to pity for well I knew that like a youthful bear he
had all his troubles before him, so I said to him
compassionately, ” See here, young man, have you
not made an error? A trooper’s life in an irregular
force is by no means an easy one, and you will find
very many of your comrades rough and prone to
make it hot for men whose manners differ from
their own. In fact I think you had better study
Colonial human nature from a distance, you will
find it more conducive to personal comfort and you
can gather copy, whatever that may be, at your
leisure.” Now my advice was good and was kindly
meant, but it is quite astonishing, when you come
to think of it, how much good advice we have all
tendered gratis during our peregrinations through

226 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

this world, and devil a bit of it has ever been acted
on. It was so in this case, for the new chum waxed
indignant and assured me he was quite competent
to hold his own, and was capable of roughing it
with anyone, as he had camped out for a week,
during the previous summer, on the banks of the
Thames.

Well it was no business of mine to argue with
him, so sending for a Troop Sergeant-Major, I took
him to the office tent where he was duly attested
and handed over to the Troop Sergeant-Major, who
in due course introduced him to perhaps the tough-
est tentful, and oh, Lord, that’s saying something,
of men in Lonsdale’s Horse. Well the officers’
tiffin bugle went and we were all busily employed
rustling our curry and rice when in came the new
chum. ” Major Browne,” quoth he, ” I am sur-
prised at your sending me to consort with such
low, common fellows as there are in that tent. I
should much prefer joining your mess and living
with the officers. ” The poor devil had got so far
in what might have been an eloquent harangue
when he was unceremoniously waltzed out of the
mess tent and relegated back to the company of
the low, common fellows in his troop’s lines. The
following morning I was not in the least bit sur-
prised, when weighing off prisoners, at having him
brought before me charged with creating a disturb-
ance in the camp. But oh, what a terrible change
one short twenty-four hours’ residence, in the
tents of the ungodly, had effected in the person
and habiliments of the whilom gay and festive
new chum, for I could see with half an eye that my
prognostications re the young bear and his troubles

DETAINED AT THE BASE 227

had come to pass, and that ursus juventus had
decidedly come to grief while garnering copy in
the fold of the Lambs. Faith he was a deplorable
object, for his face looked as if he, or someone else,
had been burnishing the inside of a camp kettle
with it, and he had a pair of the blackest eyes I
have ever seen in my life. Troth and maybe it
was only right they should be in mourning, if they
could but see the devastation that had befallen
their owner’s magnificent garments. For alas!
the gorgeous sombrero had had its roof kicked out
and minus gold band and penache hung loosely
in the wretched defaulter’s hand instead of being
knowingly cocked on the side of his head, and if
the state of the chapeau was deplorable what word
could describe the pitiful condition of yesterday’s
resplendent purple, brass-bound coat, to say
nothing about the immaculate white breeches
and lustrous jack-boots, all of which looked as if
they had been drawn through a duck puddle and
a very dirty puddle at that. Well might the un-
fortunate seeker after copy have exclaimed, with
Moses or the other old fossil, ” Sic transit gloria
mundi” for by the Lord Harry he had been
changed from a splendid outfitter’s model, that
might well have been exhibited in the window of
a West End emporium, into a scarecrow that would
have failed to frighten the callowest of young
rooks. ” You are charged,” said I, ” with fight-
ing and creating a disturbance in the camp. What
have you to say? ” ” Please, sir,” he replied, ” I
created no disturbance and did very little of the
fighting. I only refused to peel potatoes, as I
consider it is derogatory and menial to do so, and

228 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

when that man Hicks told me I was slushy’s mate
and ordered me to skin spuds I refused and called
him a low fellow, requesting him at the same time
to confine his remarks to his other low companions,
whereupon he used disgusting and calumniatory
language and went so far as to insult me by throw-
ing a potato at me which hit me in the eye, so I
threatened to horsewhip him and he assaulted me
most brutally, then the Sergeant-Major came up
and I was put in the guard tent and I wish to
lodge a complaint against all the men in the tent,
their conduct having been most ungentlemanly.”
I was not surprised at his last remark but turned to
his antagonist, also in durance vile under the same
charge, and demanded his excuses. He was a
diminutive Cockney sailor but, small as he was in
stature, his hide covered a sufficiency of brazen
blackguardism to have superabundantly rationed
a giant, and as at one time he had been, at least
as I was creditably informed and could well believe,
the terror of Tiger Bay and Ratcliffe Highway,
he was without doubt a tough enough nut even
for Satan’s back teeth to crack. Well, I looked
at the multum in parvo of villainy and could
scarcely forbear laughing at the comical expres-
sion the little scoundrel wore on his scarred and
weather-beaten but otherwise droll phiz, as he
answered me: “Veil, your vorship, the last gent
as spoke ‘as perwerted the truth for yesterday ‘e
comes hinto the tent where hi being horderly, was
a- peeling taters and says hi to ‘im, ‘ My lord dook,
if you’ll be so kind as to divest yerself of them
gadgits, and yer Sunday-go-to-meeting clobber
and ‘elp me to skin these ‘ere spuds ye’ll do more

DETAINED AT THE BASE 229

good nor yo’ve hever done afore; ‘ hand vith that
‘e starts in hand says ‘e, ‘ Yer howdacious, low-
born skut, hif yer dares to hagain haddress yer
disgusting hobservations to me hi’ 11 kick yer
blooming hinnerds hout/ whereupon hi sez to him,
‘ My Lord Marquis, go heasy/ but ‘e hups hand
‘eaves the blessed taters at me and haggerawates
me by plunging ‘is ‘ead hinto the blooming bucket
han’ kicks up such ‘ell that the Sergeant comes
along hand runs us into the ruddy clink. ‘E’s
dangerous ‘e his, yer vorship, hand I’m feared of
‘im, hi ham,” and I believe the little beast winked
but whether from cheek or nervousness who could
say. However as he had visited the orderly room
tent before I gave him seven days C.B. while the
M’Cuckoo I admonished, sending for him later on,
to my tent, when I gave him some more good
advice and offered to give him his discharge. This
however he refused to take, and I admired his pluck,
as he asserted he had joined in pursuit of copy, and
copy he would have, and if copy meant black eyes,
faith he captured copy for he was never without
one, more often a brace of darkened optics, during
the whole time he was in Lonsdale’s Horse.

About this time Lonsdale came up, himself,
from Cape Town, bringing with him some sixty
men and forty horses, so I fondly hoped I should
now be allowed to proceed to the front ; but alas !
no such luck, as his accounts were in a state of
inextricable confusion and his presence was needed
at the base so as to try and disentangle them. I
was therefore ordered to remain in charge of his
Lambs until such time as he could straighten up
matters and act as his own shepherd; truly my

230 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

luck was in decadence. A week or two passed
and I received some more cases of equipment, but
ye gods ! what trash it was ; shoddy is not the word
to use when describing it, for the tunics fell to
pieces as the men tried them on, and as for the
riding-breeches, they split across the knees and seat
when the men tried to mount. If the clothing
was bad, and it was damned bad, the saddlery was
worse. You could not have hung a cat with the
head-stalls or reins, they were so rotten, and I took
one of the saddles and tore it in half, through
gullet-plate and cantle, with my hands; snapping
the stirrup leathers afterwards in the same manner.
Nevertheless I managed to get another troop
equipped and dispatched to the front and was
then left with some hundred and twenty tatter-
demalions, in rags of brand-new uniforms, without
a horse for them to ride on, or a rifle for them to
use. The men themselves were disgusted, many of
them having come out from England, at their own
expense, for the purpose of seeing some fighting,
and here they were stuck, a few miles out of Dur-
ban, without a hope of smelling powder. One day
the Acting Adjutant-General came’out and inspected
our camp together with the rotten equipment.
He informed me there was no chance of receiving
other stores from imperial sources, nor could he
hold out any hopes for a further supply of horses
and under these circumstances he asked me what
I should suggest doing with the men, whereupon
I recommended their immediate disbandment as
it was utterly useless keeping them, where they
were, doing nothing. I was somewhat prompted
by my own desires in giving this advice and maybe,

DETAINED AT THE BASE 231

I was a little bit selfish in doing so, but the truth
is I was heartily sick of Lonsdale’s Horse and
simply hungered to get back to the front, which I
knew I should not be able to do so long as that
gang of irresponsibles remained as a menace to
the peaceful inhabitants of Durban.

CHAPTER IV

FLOORED BY A MULE

Two days after the Assistant Adjutant-General’s
visit I received orders to march the unemployed
Lambs back to Durban, where they were to be em-
barked on board the hired transport Ontario, on
which they were to be paid off, taken down to
Cape Town and disbanded; the A.A.G. not want-
ing Durban to be overrun by such a mob of un-
desirables. So far so good, but you can fancy my
disgust when I found out I was under orders to
shepherd them down to the Cape; for the A.A.G.
informed me, that as he was sending an imperial
paymaster with his pay-chest, down in the ship,
for the purpose of settling up with them, he did
not think it safe for either of these to journey, in
such company, without my being there to protect
them; so that he must request my compliance with
the order. Moreover he had another reason for
sending me to Cape Town which he explained to
me as follows. A vast number of mules had been
purchased, in both North and South America, for
transport purposes and these playful, domestic
animals were being sent over from the land of
their birth to Cape Town in sailing-ships, from
which, on their arrival at the Cape, they were trans-
ferred to steam-ships and sent on to Natal. Well
it seems there had been an awful mortality among

these quadrupeds en route from Cape Town to

232

FLOORED BY A MULE 233

Durban, some ships losing over twenty per cent,
of their cargo ; so that the General, knowing I had
had considerable experience with the long-eared
stock, and, maybe, imagining, that because I
could manage human roughs, I should also be able
to manage animal ones, desired me to go down
the coast in the Ontario, which was fitted up for the
purpose of carrying live stock, so as to get rid of
one batch of kicking bipeds and bring up another
of kicking quadrupeds; he evidently considering
the latter cargo to be the most valuable, as he ex-
horted me to take great care of the mules, and to
see none of them died or had to be thrown over-
board, but he expressed no anxiety whatever about
the men, and evidently cared not one jot if they
were all thrown overboard, so long as he, individu-
ally, never saw them again. Lonsdale’s Horse
was by no means popular, at that epoch, among
the imperial authorities but he essayed to hearten
me up by informing me the ship would proceed
straight to Cape Town and back again, not calling
in at any of the intermediary ports, and that on
my return he would facilitate my efforts to rejoin
Colonel Glyn. He also assured me that my late
services were fully appreciated, although they had
been rendered far from the fighting line, in fact,
being an Irishman, he had a fellow-feeling for a
poor countryman in distress; for was not he him-
self jammed at the base? and he blue mouldy for
want of a bating or other warlike divarsion; so
with only a grumble, to myself, I took my Lambs
to Cape Town and got rid of them. On reporting
myself to the O.C., Cape Town, whom I found to
be a fussy old woman, he or she informed me that

234 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

the cargo of mules were ready for embarkation,
that they were to be shipped by contract and that
I had nothing to do with them, until such time as
the vessel would be loaded and ready to go to sea.
To these arrangements I demurred, stating that,
in my humble opinion, the great mortality among
the mules had been caused by faulty loading and
I expressed a wish to be present and superintend
the embarkation of the long-eared animals myself.
Faith if I had asked him for a subscription of a
tenner, for the purpose of furnishing little niggers
with flannel petticoats and moral pocket-hand-
kerchiefs, he could not have been more perturbed.
The silly old image simply bubbled like an infuri-
ated turkey-cock, demanding if I thought he and
his officers did not know their work (I would will-
ingly have wagered good money that the only
animals of the asinine species they had ever handled
was when they shaved themselves) and finished up
by ordering me not to go on board the ship until
she was ready to start, nor to interfere with the
embarkation in any way.

Truly England need not have sent so far afield
for mules, she had very many of her own breeding,
that no great trouble would have discovered, how-
ever orders are orders so I went nowhere near the
docks for three days, but on the evening of the
third I received a written order, directing me to
report myself on board the ship at 2 p.m. on the
following day, so as to take over military charge
of ship and mules. This I did, accompanied by
two naval officers, who were going round to Simon’s
Bay in the Ontario, and by the blessed piper who
played before Moses, the state of that ship would

FLOORED BY A MULE 235

have shocked an atheistical anarchist. She lay
alongside the western end of the inner dock, and
her decks together with the wharf were crowded
with a mob of drunken coloured men and women
among whom, here and there, appeared the red
coat of a soldier. With great difficulty, and then
only by the free use of my own and Quin’s riding-
whips, were our party able to reach the ship’s
bridge, and there I found the O.C. Cape Town
in a state of nervous excitement that was simply
pitiable. It seems that I was to take up with me
two hundred Cape bastards, who were to look after
the mules en route, and to act as drivers when we
reached Natal, and in their contract of enlistment
it was stipulated that they should receive one
month’s pay in advance, so that they could hand
it over to their families previous to the ship’s sailing.
Now as these people could give no guarantee
that they would keep their part of the contract,
provided they had been paid on shore, the O.C.
had decided that they should be paid on board,
hand over their money to their women folk and
then go to sea. This was a lovely theory, one well
worthy of a Staff College man, but when it came
to be tested, like many other theories emanating
from the same source, it was mighty nigh im-
practicable; for as each Cape boy had brought with
him a dozen or more relatives and friends to see
him off, the family parties together with the drivers
themselves had succeeded in getting beastly drunk
on vile Cape smoke, and had gathered round them
all the low and criminal, coloured riff-raff of Cape
Town. Again no one knew who, among this unruly
and drunken mob, were the real drivers and who

236 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

were not, also there were hundreds of coloured
scoundrels present who would gladly have drawn
a month’s pay and then given us leg bail and indeed
most of the drivers would, did they but get the
chance, play us the same trick. True we had on
board some thirty soldiers, but they were men
belonging to different regiments, and most of them
defaulters who had been left behind in Cape Town
jail and who were now being sent up to join their
respective corps. These men, having obtained
Cape smoke from the boys, were now not only very
drunk but inclined to be mutinous so that they
were quite useless and the O.C., notwithstanding
the fact that he was a great authority on pigeon
rearing, was at his wits’ end to know how he was
to pay the drivers and get the ship away. On our
mounting the bridge he was walking up and down,
metaphorically wringing his hands, blaming every-
one with senile wrath and on my saluting said
querulously, ” Why have you not reported before,
sir? You should have been here hours ago; see
what a confusion your dereliction of duty has
caused.” I had no intention of being jumped
upon by a man who ought to have been retired
from the Service as useless years ago, so I whipped
out his own written orders, and as a quartermaster
at that moment struck four bells (2 p.m.) he could
blame me no further on that tack, so he attempted
to shuffle out of his responsibility by ordering me
to see the Cape boys paid, and then to take myself
and ship to sea, or to the devil, or anywhere else
I had a mind to go to, so long as I rid him of my
presence. This was not complimentary but I did
not care a tinker’s curse for his wrath, so I plainly

FLOORED BY A MULE 237

told him, it was no duty of mine to pay the drivers,
but if he would send me a party of twenty-five
artillerymen, from the castle, to clear the ship and
keep order, I would be responsible for the payment
of the darkies and go to sea but insisted that I
would inspect the mules previous to doing so. He
raved at what he called my d d colonial im-
pertinence but I stood to my guns and refused to
go to sea until I had thoroughly inspected the
stalling of my cargo, as there was a heavy sou’-
easter blowing and I knew that a ship, loaded with
live stock, would roll awfully in the heavy sea that
must be running outside the bay.

Seeing that I was determined, he at last gave
way and said in a grumpy manner, ” Very well,
your orders are to proceed to sea the moment the
drivers are paid ; you have nothing to do with the
stowage of the mules, that has been done by con-
tract. I shall go to the castle to have my lunch
and will send you the party of artillerymen you
so needlessly require, and I shall report your con-
duct to the General.” And with this parting shot
the old fellow took himself off. By the skipper’s
advice the ship was hauled into the dock entrance
where she lay moored, so that no one could either
board her or leave her without using the single
gang plank that communicated with the dock
wall, then the artillerymen being in sight, the pay-
master brought forth his chest and the fun began.
The first lot to start the tambourine a-rolling and
give us trouble were the Tommies, some twenty of
whom being by now mad drunk were decidedly
dangerous, so much so that one of them made a
most unprovoked attack on a commander in the

238 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

R.N. who, dressed in full uniform (he had just come
from Government House), was speaking to me.
Over into the scuppers rolled the representative
of the senior service, where for a minute he lay,
brass-bound cocked hat, epaulettes, sword and all,
muttering in his amazed astonishment, ” Floored,
by gad, by a drunken swaddy.” The half-mad
brute was making another rush at his victim when
I landed him a straight right-handed drive under
the ear which knocked him down an open hatch-
way. Then ructions started, his maddened com-
rades rushed at us four officers but they had no
chance. Quin and the ship’s officers sprang to our
assistance as did the sergeant and the sober men of
the party, while the paymaster and his clerks,
thinking the stramash to be a prearranged attempt
to rush the pay-chest, drew their revolvers and sat
down on the top of it. Forcing their way through
the mob, up rushed the stalwart gunners, and in
less time than it takes a cat to comb its whiskers
the mutineers were knocked down, then picked
up, and so as to assist them in keeping their equili-
brium they were humanly lashed along the weather
rail, so that the south-easter could sober them up
nicely, which in a few hours it did. Then came
the job of paying the Cape boys. Driving all the
mob aft, I ordered all the boys who had signed on
to file along the port alley way, on to the fore deck,
which one hundred and forty of them did, and as
each boy was paid, he was allowed a minute or
two to hand his cash to his friends and then he
was politely requested to step down the fore-hatch,
and while doing so he was relieved of any unneces-
sary cargo he might be carrying in the way of Cape

FLOORED BY A MULE 239

smoke. Some of them resisted and these were
promptly lashed along the lee-rail so that the ship
should be evenly trimmed ; for all things should be
properly attended to on board a ship about to sail.

It was by now sunset and after I had had the
ship cleared of all the coloured rabble I had a
much-needed drink. I had previously dispatched
Quin, and a corporal of the ijih Lancers, who
chanced to be on board, down below by way of
acting as scouts and they, on their return, reported
that in the cellar (as Quin termed the lower deck)
were nearly one hundred loose mules who, sans
head-stall or rheim, roamed about playing up hell
and kicking one another to death; ” and, sor,”
finished up Quin, ” it’s more than a man’s life is
worth to go among thim.” So much for contract
stowage. I was disgusted but in no ways surprised
for I was by this time acclimatized to the incom-
petence of the majority of the young officers sent
out from England for special service, and I cussed
the silly old woman who had refused to allow me
to superintend the embarkation of the mules.

However it was no use cussing, the mules must
be head-stalled, rheimed and put into their stalls,
if we wanted to save a single one of them alive.
It was blowing half a gale of wind and the job must
be done at once, so stripping off my uniform and
donning an old pair of overalls down I went ac-
companied by Quin, the corporal of the I7th
Lancers, two members of the crew and some half-
dozen of the least drunken drivers. I also took
the precaution to request the paymaster and the
two naval officers to come with me, so as to be
able to substantiate my report, in case I should

240 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

get into hot water for refusing to put to sea until
my cargo was properly stowed, and then down
we dived into the bowels of the big Dominion, four-
decked, liner.

A Kentucky mule may be safely backed to
kick the eye out of a mosquito, just as a pastime,
but when he feels thoroughly aggravated and really
means conscientiously to do his darndest his salta-
torial powers are quite beyond human ken, for
although he is only supplied by Nature with a brace
of hind legs, yet these are so marvellously gifted
that they are able to kick you in fifty different
places at one and the same moment, while his
muscular development is such, that even one kick,
which may be likened to a stroke of lightning, will
in all probability cause a family bereavement.
Bad scran to them, I hate them, and have just cause
so to do, as I will tell you.

The Ontario was a four-decked ship and when
we reached the orlop deck, and, by the dim light
of a few ship’s lanterns, gazed down into the murky
depths of the lower hold, we saw a sight that
might well make the bravest of the brave give
pause, for few men have the ambition to be kicked
to death by a mob of ungodly and unsympathetic
mules and there in that wet, dark, lower deck were
nearly one hundred of the beasts, who without a
vestige of halter, head-stall or rheim were cruising
about, and so as to keep their hands, or perhaps
I should say feet, in practice, were trying to kick
one another to bits.

Troth, the thuds of the rib roasters, that were
being served out, did not sound alluring, while
their shrill squeals seemed to ejaculate ” Tommy,

FLOORED BY A MULE

241

Tommy, come and be kicked/’ There is no earthly
use in looking at a distasteful job; buckle to and
do it, has always been my motto, so down I went
closely followed by Quin and the corporal, as well
as by the two sailors, as soon as they had thrown
down the Cape darkies, who were more than half
inclined to funk it and hang back, but encouraged
and assisted by the shell-backs down they came,
some of then even faster than they intended. Ye
gods ! the job was no fancy one, scores of the beasts
were down on the wet, slippery deck, though even,
as they lay prone there, they still lashed out with
an ardour that would have been highly commended
had it not been so deucedly unpleasant. Well we
tackled to and defending our legs with hand-spikes,
managed with much trouble to get them, with the
exception of four who were already dead, rheimed
and into their stalls. We had then to tackle those
still on their feet, many of whom as they rushed
about kicking and squealing fell on the deck, or
colliding with the bulkheads, stanchions, and one
another, knocked chunks off themselves and not-
withstanding all our care, occasionally, succeeded
in dealing one of us a shrewd kick. Well this
phantasmagoria (troth, I’m not sure if that’s the
right word to use but it wants a long, hard one to
depict the devil’s dance we had that night with
those mules, in the dimly-lighted, olfactory hold)
had lasted till past midnight and we had got them
all rheimed and safely into their stalls with the
exception of four, who lying as they did, in a corner,
were hard to come at, especially as they were very
busy with their heels. Quin, the corporal and my-
self were gingerly attempting to noose one of
Q

242 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

them, when a Cape canary, holding a light, stumbled
and fell among the struggling brutes, where, by
all the rules of the game, he should at once have
had the gruel, medical men call brains, kicked out.
Now a drunken Cape boy, more or less, counts
nothing, and had I paused to consider that fact, in
political economy, I might have sat tight and not
made an ass of myself, but you see for a few hours
we had been working together and, in accordance
with the Lost Legionary law, were at least, for the
time being, mates, so like an impulsive fool I im-
mediately jumped into the turmoil. Seizing the
half-drunk bounder by the scruff of the neck and
the seat of his pants I threw him, quite unhurt,
clear out of the danger but in doing so my feet
slipped on the wet, slippery deck, and down I fell,
flat on my back, among the half -mad, wholly
vicious mules, who at once proceeded to do their
best to kick me to flinders. Fortunately I kept
my head, and by doing so saved it, for I instan-
taneously jammed it between the thighs of one of
the recumbent brutes, at the same time holding
out my arms, which Quin and the corporal seizing,
drew me out by, on to the clear deck, where I lay
and used improper language. Of course I knew,
in a moment, I was badly hurt, but as I was not
sure where, I dispatched the corporal up on
deck to report the occurrence to the senior naval
officer, with the request that he would send round
to the mail-boats and borrow a medico, as there
was not one on board our hooker and in the mean-
time, as the mules had struggled a bit clear, I set
the rest of the party at work to finish the job.
This they had just completed when two doctors

FLOORED BY A MULE 243

arrived. These gentlemen had been holding a
symposium on board the nearest mail-boat, and
although their back teeth were nearly a-wash, as
a consequence of pouring down libations in honour
of sweethearts and wives, as all good sailors and
soldiers should, on a Saturday night, so soon as the
week’s work is over and done with, not before, mind
you, still on hearing a man had been hurt hurried
to his assistance. A stretcher was soon rigged, on
to which I was carefully lifted, quickly hoisted
up to the open air and deposited in the skipper’s
deck cabin where it was quickly discovered that
my right leg Was broken in two places, my right
knee-cap fractured and three ribs caved in, besides
which there was hardly a spot on my corpus that
did not bear witness to the wonderful dexterity
with which an evilly – disposed mule can handle
his feet. May the cuss of Cromell rest on the long-
eared bastes, and I include in my toast their re-
lations, viz., silly old O.C.’s, fraudulent contractors
and drunken Cape canaries, for surely these are
anathema. Well the two festive sawbones did
their level best for me, but alas, although their
spiritual intentions were good, still the spirits they
had imbibed prevented anything like successful
surgery, for when, next day, we anchored in Simon’s
Bay, my dear old friend, Fleet Surgeon O’Malley,
coming on board to see me, was simply horrified,
and declared that all the bandages and splints,
with which I had been bound, might just as well
have been made fast round the ship’s funnel as
round my body and limbs in the way they were.

No sooner were the mail-boat doctors ashore,
than we put out to sea and my word we caught it,

244 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

the gale having increased so that the light ship,
loaded with live stock, plunged heavily and rolled
dangerously. My word, I smelt Hades with the
chill off, for when I had been carried into the
skipper’s deck cabin, to which the kind-hearted
sailor had insisted on my being taken (he met a
seaman’s death, a few years afterwards, going
down in his ship the S.S. Barossa), I had been
placed on a velvet-covered settee that ran athwart
ship, so that when she rolled I slid along it from
port to starboard or vice versa, sometimes standing
nearly upright and sometimes on my head while
it took Quin and the corporal, the latter being a
bad sailor, all they could do to hold me on to the
settee. However the longest night must have an
ending and although I suffered agonies, still I was
a tough bird in those days, and had had to bear
pain many a time before, so I made the best of a
bad job; for what can’t be cured should be en-
dured without howling and I had learned that
maxim previously in the New Zealand bush.

We dropped anchor in the South African naval
port at 9 a.m. and O’Malley lashed up my broken
bones and had a proper cot swung for me so that
when we went to sea again, which we did the same
afternoon, I suffered less pain of body but was
awfully cut-up, as I knew full well that there was
no chance now of my getting to the front and being
in at the death; faith it was cruel hard luck.

We reached Durban in due course of time and,
notwithstanding a rough passage, we did not lose
a single mule more en route, nor did we lose one
during the time we Were disembarking them, while
nearly all, if not all of the other ships, lost a very

FLOORED BY A MULE 245

heavy percentage of their animals; and I assert
the loss of these most expensive and much-required
transport animals was wholly due to the dishonesty
of the contractors and the ignorance together with
the culpable negligence of the officers told off to
superintend the work.

I have spun a true yarn about my trip in the
Ontario, and had I gone to sea when fussily ordered
to do so with ninety-eight mules in the lower hold,
all loose, every one of them would have been shark’s
meat by morning. I disobeyed my orders and by
doing so, not only saved the country some thou-
sands of pounds in cash but also landed the animals
alive and fit to do the work, for which they had
been purchased in America, and which they could
not have done had they been thrown over-
board.

True I had got broken up in saving the mules,
but then the mules would not have required to be
saved, had they been stalled when put on board
in the proper manner, so it was not my fault, who
had been sent down, much against my own will,
to carry out an unpleasant piece of necessary work,
and I considered that it was my duty to carry out
the task at the risk of my life and limb, just as if
I had been ordered to undertake work of a more
congenial nature in the field. Some of you, my
unsophisticated readers, may imagine I received
kudos for the way I carried out my orders, thereby
landing a full complement of mules; also a few
of you may think I obtained compensation for
the severe injuries I had received in the perform-
ance of my duty but you would be wrong, for I
never received one word of thanks, nor one penny

246 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

in the way of gratuity, although it is quite true I
never asked for either.

John Bull, Esq., is a paradox, those of us who
have served the Empire, in the Lost Legion, know
it, alas! too well. A frontier war breaks out and
owing to a disaster (probably caused in the first
place by the authorities’ parsimony and lack of
foresight, such as Isandlwana) takes place; in a
moment John opens his cash-box and pours out
millions of pounds sterling, many of which falls
into the clutches of dishonest contractors and others
who, never risking their hides in action, batten
like foul carrion crows at their country’s expense.
The climax is over, the danger past, and John Bull,
no longer in a stew, buttons up his pocket and
behaves in a manner that would disgrace an
American-born Jew educated in Aberdeen. He is
not man enough, or it is not convenient, or it would
not suit the party in power to raise a scandal by
bringing the big vultures to book, making them
toe the line and disgorge their ill-gotten hoards,
so he deliberately breaks the promises his repre-
sentatives have made and robs the men, where
practicable, who have risked life, limb and health
in fighting his battles. What I have written
above is severe, possibly bad policy, but it is the
bald-headed truth and I will give you one personal
experience of John Bull’s roguery.

In an interview I had with Lord Chelmsford
at Rourke’s Drift, Colonel Glyn being present, I
mentioned the fact that the majority of my officers
and non-coms., being poor men, would suffer
severely through losing all they possessed at
Isandlwana. Whereupon his Lordship assured

FLOORED BY A MULE 247

me, that the officers and white non-commissioned
officers of the 3rd Natal Native Contingent would
be amply compensated for their losses. Some
short time afterwards, by Colonel Glyn’s orders,
myself together with the remainder of the officers
and non-commissioned officers of the 3rd Natal
Native Contingent made out our claims for com-
pensation and handed them in; my own being
for seventy-five pounds, little enough to ask for
considering I had lost two horses, for one of which,
being salted, I had paid fifty pounds. A board
of which Major Dunbar of the second 24th was, if I
remember rightly, president inquired into these
claims and I know that as far as my own was con-
cerned it was approved and passed. Isandlwana
happened in January 1879, my claim was approved
in February of the same year, since which date
thirty-three years have passed and up to the pre-
sent moment, although during the years 1880 and
1881 I made numerous applications to the War
Office for this sum and other amounts of money
due to me, and although they never disputed the
debt, I have never received one penny. Five
times since that date, throwing up lucrative em-
ployment and suffering heavy monetary losses, I
have at a moment’s notice gone to the front when
my services have been asked for by the Empire’s
representative, and old and crippled as fever and
wounds have rendered me, I am still game to risk
filling a trench should an invader’s bullet find its
billet in my worn-out carcase.

Now I maintain that if the labourer is worthy
of his hire and compensation, when injured, work-
ing for his employer, surely the man who is hurt

248 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

or loses his health or property while being on
active service, is entitled to the same consideration,
from the Government he has fought for, and if this
be the case, surely while John Bull was casting
away millions in extravagance and useless ex-
penditure, he might have paid the few pounds
he in honour owed to the poor devils who had faced
the music. John Bull however is not constituted
on those lines; he had thrown away the millions
while in a state of funk, the danger was now over,
the men having done their work were no longer
necessary, therefore let them slide and if possibly
he can rob them of a few shillings, why so much
the better, he can flatter his soul by calling his
meanness, Retrenchment.

CHAPTER V

A LIFE THROWN AWAY

WELL now I have lodged my protest and had an
old war-dog’s grumble against the rotten, mean
imbecility of John Bull and his red-tape brigade,
let me trek on although as I left myself on board
the Ontario with a skinful of broken bones I was in
no condition to be inspanned and had to remain
several weeks on board before I could land, when
as I was informed there was no accommodation
for me in the military hospital I had myself con-
veyed to Pine Town where I regained convalescence
at my own expense. Truly John Bull is a generous
master to serve. Whilst sojourning at Pine Town
I was waited upon by one of the men who had
served with me in the 3rd Natal Native Contingent
as a non-com, and also previously in Pulleine’s
Rangers, the reason for his call being to obtain a
certificate for his three years’ service. In the course
of conversation, he informed me that after my
departure from Rourke’s Drift he and some of my
other men had joined Bettington’s Horse and that
he, individually, had been one of the party which
had accompanied the ill-fated Prince Imperial
on his last ride.

Now I had met the Prince on his way up
country and like everyone else, who had had the
same honour and pleasure, had been greatly im-
pressed by the gallant youngster’s debonair manners

and charming vivacity|so like every other officer

249

250 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

and man, in the country, deeply deplored his un-
timely death. Knowing my visitor to be a cool
hand under fire, albeit by no means a smart soldier,
I asked him to give me his version of the lamentable
episode and these are the inferences I drew from
his yarn. On the morning of the ist of June, a
small party of Bettington’s Horse, together with
a few of the Native Contingent, were detailed to
accompany Lieutenant Carey, g8th Regiment,
who was employed as Deputy Assistant Quarter-
master-General, to examine the road along which
the column was to advance from Itelezi Camp and
of which Lieutenant Carey was to make a sketch.
The escort paraded, and just as they were moving
off, they were joined by the young Prince, who
was attached to the general staff and very keen to
see all that he could of the war. The small party
rode out along the track for a distance of about
five miles until they were some two miles from the
Inshallami Mountains and nigh to the Edutu
kraal, the ground they had ridden over being open
country consisting of low undulating hills inter-
spersed with occasional dongas. It was a country
a mounted party, engaged in scouting, should have
kept all their wits on deck while crossing, doing
their work as quickly as possible and getting away as
rapidly as they could; for a scout, with any know-
ledge of the game, would be well aware that his
patrol must have been spotted on the numerous sky-
lines by the enemy, and that if such an enemy were
like the Zulus, mobile and enterprising, the betting
was ten to one they would try to cut him off.

However the ordinary British officer was as
ignorant, in those days, of scouting as a chimpanzee

A LIFE THROWN AWAY 251

is of skating, so that the observations having been
made, the small party actually halted at the edge
of a large patch of mealies and incredible as it may
seem, off-saddled. This was a direct insult to the
goddess of Chance and Nemesis was quickly dis-
patched to avenge such an outrage on common
sense. My informant stated that neither himself
nor his companions felt comfortable but of course
said nothing although the natives who were with
them grew very restless and somewhat excited.
At last the order was given to saddle up, and they
had started to do so, when someone shouted out
” There are Zulus among the mealies/’ and two shots
rang out; immediately there was a confused
bustle, each man striving to complete the neces-
sary girth buckling, etc., and before they had time
to mount, a ragged volley, of from ten to twenty
musket shots, was fired at them. The narrator
went on to say that no further order was given, or
at least he heard none, but saw Lieutenant Carey
and two of his own comrades riding away at a
gallop and at once did his best to mount and get
clear. His horse, however, always a restive brute
to mount and perhaps scared by the firing, tried
to bolt but he managed to throw himself across the
saddle, lying on his chest, and his horse following
the others, he was carried out of immediate danger
in that manner. He stated that, while hanging on
in this way, he passed the Prince who seemed to be
running by his horse’s side, holding on to the holster,
and evidently trying to vault into his saddle, which,
as it was subsequently ascertained, he failed to do,
owing to the holster tearing away in his grasp, as it
was discovered to beconstructed of brown paper, and

252 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

so the death of the Prince Imperial may be partly
attributed to the roguery of a dishonest tradesman.

At a short distance from where the party had off-
saddled, was a shallow donga, and my informant’s
horse had carried him some little way past this place,
before he could struggle into the saddle, and when he
had done so he reined in and looking back saw the
Prince, on foot, running up the donga, closely pur-
sued by a lot of Zulus; and that was the last glimpse
any white man saw of the Prince Imperial alive.

The fugitives continued their headlong flight
towards the camp until they met Colonels Wood
and Buller; patrols were sent out and the
remains of the unfortunate Prince were carried
reverently back to the Itelezi Camp, on a
stretcher made out of lance shafts, the most
becoming bier for a soldier, and then sent via
Durban to England. Of course there have been
plenty of yarns spun as to the actual killing, but
I think that, most probably, the gallant youngster,
finding escape impossible, faced his enemies, did
his level best, and fell with his wounds in
front, a sacrifice to ignorance. In the first place,
why did his party off-saddle at all, five miles in
advance of the camp, where every lynx-eyed
Zulu was sure to be on the look-out for scouts and
patrols? Again if it was necessary for them to do
so, owing to their horses being knocked up, the only
possible excuse for their off-saddling, and in this
case not a legitimate one, as proved by the rapidity
with which they bolted, why in the name of all
that’s holy should they have selected the edge of
a mealie field for their halting-place? There was
plenty of open ground close by, and anyone with

A LIFE THROWN AWAY 253

the gumption of a gowk, although he might not
have had any previous war experience and have
even passed through the Staff College, would have
selected a spot to halt on from which he could see
an approaching enemy. It must surely have been
self-evident to them all that their small party
must have been spotted and be under the ob-
servation of numerous hostile natives. More-
over, why did they not all, when they had
crossed the donga in safety, rein up and try
to make a stand? There were five mounted
men who had their rifles, and I have not the
slightest doubt but that they might have given
an exceedingly good account of themselves.
Retreat, at the worst, was always open and
five mounted men, in fairly open country, can
do a lot provided they keep their heads.
Again the Zulus are vile shots, so I think the
betting would have been in favour of the Prince
getting away, had a stand been made and a strong
front shown. I therefore think I am quite right
when I state that the Prince was a victim to the
ignorance of one of the fundamental rules of
scouting. Thank God it is very rare indeed in
the British service for a stand not to be made
when there is any prospect of success, though
I fear my remarks on scouting, in case of an-
other war with savages, will still be found to
be in evidence.

After four months’ sojourn in Pine Town my
leg was well enough for me to travel, so, not caring
to remain in Natal for the summer, I determined
to proceed to Cape Town and decide there on my
future movements. The Zulu War was over,

254 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Cetewayo was a prisoner, all the irregular forces
had been disbanded, Sir Garnet Wolseley, who had
assumed the command in place of Lord Chelmsford,
knew not Joseph and anyhow I was far too lame
to take a hand in the storming of Seccokonie’s
Mountain; in fact, two medical men whom I con-
sulted, expressed grave doubts as to whether I
should ever recover the proper use of my right
knee, which had been twice damaged before once
playing football, and once by a revolver bullet;
and they assured me that, even should I again be
able to use it, I should suffer great inconvenience
and much pain from it to the day of my departure
to that bourne set apart for sailors, fiddlers and
Lost Legionaries. Troth and their surmises were
correct, for, although it has helped to carry me
many thousands of miles since then and perhaps,
thanks to my having been tomahawked in the left
knee, I have never noticeably limped, still at the
present moment, as I sit here writing, it is giving
me unsophisticated gip, and I shall presently lay
down my hated pen and solemnly cuss those mules
and their progenitors, they, by the inexorable laws
of Nature, having no descendants, back to the time
of Adam. Blankety, blankety, blank, Amen.

Having made a few remarks anent these mules
and rubbed my poor old knee let me resume my
pen and continue my yarn. Taking ship from
Durban I reached Cape Town where I lived quietly
for some months, this being the first repose I had
known since childhood. I had married, as most
Lost Legionaries do, when laid on the shelf, and my
wretched knee prevented me from joining in any
sport, except boat-sailing, even misbehaving so badly

A LIFE THROWN AWAY 255

as to break again, of its own accord, the first time
I essayed to play cricket; so that it was long over
a year before I could trust it at all, and then I sus-
picioned it as untrustworthy for years afterwards.
Well the Basuto War broke out, and although
I took a hand in it, and it was in Timbuland that I
lost my faithful friend and servant Quin, still I am
not going to write about it in this book but so as to
complete this chapter I shall spin you a yarn of
how, owing to that war, an astute though I can’t
call him a respectable Englishman, got to windward
and made a rise out of some unsophisticated Dutch-
men. Well it was this way. The war broke out
and, being purely a Colonial one, the Cape burghers
were called out. This they hated, for although
an up-country Boer is a brave man, the Dutch in
Cape Town and its surrounding districts are per-
haps the rottenest cowards on earth; so conse-
quently many of those, called out for service,
offered large sums of money for substitutes to risk
their skins in their places. Well one day a man
called at my house and requested me to furnish
him with a character, as he had served for a con-
siderable time under me, in Pulleine’s Rangers
and Lonsdale’s Horse, in the latter of which I was
in no ways responsible for his enlistment and from
which corps he had been discharged with ignominy.
Now in both of these regiments there had been
very many unadulterated blackguards but if I had
been called upon, on oath, to assign the cake to
the biggest scoundrel in the combined outfits, I
should unhesitatingly have called out Trooper
William Jones and he would have stepped out of
the ranks with a smile and gleefully owned up to

256 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

the soft impeachment. Well he asked me for a
written character and claimed one as his indubi-
table right. This I allowed but said, ” See here,
Jones, you are entitled to a character, if you de-
mand one, but the only one I can give you would
cause the gate-keeper of Gehenna to refuse you ad-
mittance. Do you still want it?” “I do, sir,”
he replied, ” although there is nothing you can
say against me bad enough to describe me. I know
I am a hard case,” and then he added with a grin,
” and quite unrepentant.” I therefore took a
piece of official paper and wrote a character, such
as would have made Satan himself pause before
engaging its bearer as a scavenger or cinder-sifter
in Hades, signed it and handed over the document
for his perusal. He read it, smiled, thanked me
and withdrew. Some three weeks afterwards I
was on board the English mail-boat, seeing a friend
off, when just previous to the boat’s departure, who
should swagger up to me, dressed in gorgeous,
hand-me-down apparel, but W. Jones, Esq. His
greetings were polite and effusive, although he
had not the temerity to offer me his hand but made
many kind inquiries about my health and the pro-
gress my leg was making towards convalescence
and wound up by saying, ” I can’t leave South
Africa, Major, without again thanking you for your
kindness, in furnishing me with that character
which has proved itself to be an Aladdin’s lamp.
May I ask you to step into the saloon and crack
a bottle of champagne with me? ” I declined the
proffered refreshment but as he had aroused my
curiosity re the benefits he seemed to have ac-
quired through being the possessor of a written

A LIFE THROWN AWAY 257

character which would have made Old Nick squirm
to have in his possession, I asked for an explana-
tion, which without the least demur he at once
gave me as follows. ” Well you see, Major, I
worked the oracle this way. You know, sir, that
the cowardly Dutch burghers, round about the
Paarl and Stellenbosch, are giving big bounties for
substitutes, so that directly I got the written
character from you, I went to those parts and soon
heard of a rich farmer who wanted a substitute
for his son. I went to him, he offered three
hundred pounds cash, horse and outfit. I closed.
He took me to the veldt-cornet who asked me for
my character. I showed him the one you had given
me; he accepted me and signed me on. I pouched
the cash, took the horse and outfit and that night
legged it. I made for another dorp, where I sold
the horse and outfit and got another, together with
a bonus of three hundred pounds, from a Dutch-
man, who had just got married. I daresay I
could have done better out of him, as he was in a
hell of a funk at the thought of getting killed, but
you see, Major, you had trained us never to linger
when making a raid, so we went to the veldt-
cornet, who when he had looked at my character,
at once took me on as a substitute, and the same
night I cleared out and went to another dorp,
where playing the same game won the same stakes.
Then I thought I would steer clear of the villages,
so visited out-of-the-way farms, at each of which I
showed the inhabitants the character, telling them
it was an official document, authorizing me to
register the names of all young men fit to bear
arms. The farmers were only too anxious to make

258 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

me handsome presents, provided I would omit
their sons’ names from my list. I took the pre-
sents, and here I am, a first-class passenger, bound
for Old England, with nearly fifteen hundred thick
‘uns in my pouch; true I might have made more,
but I am not an avaricious man, and I would far
sooner look at that breakwater (the breakwater
was being built by convict labour) from over the
stern of this ship than work on it.” ” Yes/’ said
I, ” but how was it that these people, reading such
a character, as I gave you, should have been so
taken in? ” ” Read it, sir,” the scamp replied,
” devil a one of them read it, and for a very good
reason, as not one of them could read a word of
English; it was the lion and unicorn fighting for
the crown, on the top of the official paper, that did
the trick, and that’s what I wanted, when I
troubled you for a character. So long, Major,
there’s the ‘ all for the shore ‘ bell ringing, good luck
and many thanks as it’s through you I’m in for a
high old time.”

As I limped down the gang plank the old text,
” Out of evil cometh good,” came into my mind and
I wondered if it were an appropriate one under
these circumstances; anyhow I had never before
heard of a rascal making a big profit out of a
darned bad character. Still Mr Jones made an
egregious error ; he should have remained in South
Africa and gone up to Kimberley, where the peculiar
talents with which he was so gifted would have, in a
short time, placed him in the front rank of South
African financiers and, like some of them, he might
have become the possessor of a house in Park Lane
and a place in the upper circles of English society.

CHAPTER VI

A KIMBERLEY I.D.B. REMINISCENCE

SHORTLY after the end of the Basuto War I deter-
mined to go back to New Zealand but before doing
so was persuaded by some friends to run up to
Kimberley, so as to have a look at the big hole.
This I did, and reached the far-famed diamond
fields just as they were in the transition stage,
between the old methods of working and the new;
for although steam-hauling engines were already
employed, yet there were many of the old horse
wins as well as the old, horse-driven, washing
gears, still working, while the standing wires of the
aerial tramways looked like gigantic spider webs,
the tubs running up and down them helping out
the illusion, by resembling the insects themselves.
The epoch at which I reached Kimberley was also
one of immense excitement; individual diggers
were selling their claims for large sums of money
and big blocks of shares, to company promoters.
The inhabitants were mad, fortunes were being
made every day and even I allowed myself to be
drawn into the vortex. In less than a fortnight
the slump came and I found myself stone broke,
which served me right, for what business has a clean-
bred Frontiersman or Lost Legionary to meddle
with stocks and shares, unless they should be the
stocks of rifles, or the sharing of rations and hard-

259

260 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

ships. However it is not my intention to write
about the polygenous blackguards, nor the countless
good fellows I rubbed shoulders with in the tin
city of the veldt ; they will require a book to them-
selves as I do not care to mix up yarns, of the
clean deeds of H.M. Imperial and Irregular troops,
with the foul chicanery and rascality of I.D.B/s,
Company Promoters, B.S.A. Co.’s guinea-pigs and
fraudulent contractors, in the same work.

True many of the former either fill forgotten
graves or are to be found in the gutter or the work-
house, while many of the latter may be sought in
the seats of the mighty, and the bosom of fashion-
able society, so I will just spin you one yarn, that
occurred in Kimberley during my abode there, and
pass on to the Bechuanaland Expedition of 1884
and 1885. Let me call it ” The Biters Bit.”

THE BITERS BIT
(A Kimberley I.D.B. Reminiscence)

As the weary traveller approached the diamond
fields, in the early eighties, sick and worn out with
the very many miles of monotonous veldt he has
had to traverse from the rail-head, then and for
some years afterwards located at Beaufort West,
the first noticeable objects that struck his blood-
shot and dust-filled eyes would be huge mounds
of grey earth; and on making inquiry as to what
they might be, he would be informed they were the
tailing heaps and debris from the four mines,
Kimberley, or the new rush as it was called by the

A KIMBERLEY I.D.B. REMINISCENCE 261

old diggers, Du Toils Pan, Bultfontein and old De
Beers, and after passing through some of these
heaps he would eventually arrive in the tin-built
town of Kimberley, where he would find himself
a unit of perhaps as cosmopolitan a crowd as ever
assembled together on this earth; while as for
languages, he might just as well have landed among
the builders of the Tower of Babel, on the day they
knocked off that big contract, when the necessity
for interpreters was first required.

Crawling out of the coach, in which he has spent
four or five miserable days and nights, he enters
the Central Hotel and asks for a room. He may
get one, or he may not, and he may consider him-
self extremely lucky should he, in the event of
getting one, have the sole use of it. Let us suppose
he obtains one, when he is shown into an iron box
10 by 8 feet in which he removes, with a scant
supply of water, as much of the thick layer of red
jiust that adheres to him as he may. No sooner
has he spruced up, to the best of his ability, than
he adjourns to the verandah and orders the most
cooling drink he can think of, so as to try and wash
down the residue of dust that still sticks in his
throat. Maybe he selects a bottle of Bass, which
comforts him greatly so that he does not even sigh
when he pays half-a-crown for the same-sized bottle
that on the mail-boat cost him threepence ; for has
not the price of everything desirable risen at every
stage of the journey, from Cape Town to the
Diamond City. Thank goodness there goes the
gong, so he enters the large dining-room and is
shown a seat. The dinner is a good one, consider-
ing where he is, and looking round the room he is

262 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

at once struck by the various types of men who
surround him and astonished by their conversation.
The men are of every white nationality under the
sun and are diggers, mine-managers, business men,
up-country traders, diamond buyers and adven-
turers of all sorts, amongst them the Semitic race
predominating.

Eating their dinners and drinking drinks, the
price of which astonish him, all their conversation
is centred more or less on the mines and he hears
the price of wood, the jargon of the share and dia-
mond market, the difficulty of procuring labour,
mixed up in inextricable confusion, running through
which are frequent references made about a set of
people called I.D.B.’s, who are invariably spoken
of with such prefixes as usually indicate hatred
and contempt. Tired out he goes to bed and next
morning, after breakfast, he goes out to view the
wonderful tin city. It is not my intention, how-
ever, to give you a description of Kimberley in the
days before bricks were made, and the great De
Beers Company ruled supreme, let us therefore
suppose our new chum meets a friend who shows
him round and explains to him the run of the ropes.
Of course the first object of interest to be looked
at is the big hole and they turn down old Main
Street, after a glance at the huge market square
full of high-piled-up produce wagons, to examine
one of the marvels of the world. Old Main Street
used to consist chiefly of bars, around the doors of
one of which is clustered a number of evil-looking,
overdressed, underbred men, on whose faces, both
Semitic and European, are stamped the lowest
traits of bestiality and whose voices indicate them

A KIMBERLEY I.D.B. REMINISCENCE 263

to have sprung from the foulest purlieus not only
of London but of all the big cities of the world.
Near them are also gathered a crowd of flash,
gaudily-dressed niggers evidently acting in con-
junction with their white prototypes, whom they
ape in manners and dress. These clusters of
villainy, for scoundrelism is writ in big letters all
over them, naturally draws the attention of the
new chum, who demands who and what they are,
and is at once informed they are I.D.B. runners
and touts, when of course he asks who are the
I.D.B.’s and learns that the mystic letters stand
for Illicit Diamond Buyers, when he at once re-
quests information about them and their nefarious
traffic.

The intelligence he gains is astounding, for he
learns that over one-third of the gems found in the
mine never get into the hands of their legitimate
owners but that the largest and most valuable of
the diamonds are discovered in the first place by
the raw, working Kafir, who tempted by his
gaudily-dressed tribesman, acting on behalf of one
of the white scoundrels, secretes and sells it at a
fraction of its value to the said white scoundrel,
from whose dirty, bejewelled hands it passes on,
at a largely enhanced but still far under the market
value, to the princes of the trade, whose lightning
changes from Petticoat Lane to Park Lane, and
who with a touch of the magic wand have trans-
formed the ancestral fried-fish donkey tray into a
thousand -guinea motor-car and a string of race-
horses, have filled sober-minded business people
with envy and astonishment. He will also learn
that an elaborate special Detective Department

264 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

has to be run, solely to check this awful rascality,
that Act after Act has been passed by the Colonial
Legislature to try and put a stop to it, that a special
court composed of three judges, sits to try its cases,
and although the punishment for the infringement
of these Acts has been increased, until a sentence
of ten years’ hard labour on the breakwater, to-
gether with a fine of 2000 may be inflicted, that
still the illicit trade thrives and increases, while its
princes may be looked for among the members of
the Kimberley Club, the diamond market, the lead-
ing merchants of the town, yea and even among the
directors of the principal mining companies them-
selves. It is impossible in a work such as this to
give a full account of the ramifications of the traffic
or the laws promulgated to put a stop to it but I
will spin you a yarn, how on one occasion some
guileless foreigners (if I remember rightly Bul-
garians) played a game, not only on the crafty
I.D.B.’s but also sold their astute enemies the
Diamond Field Detective Department.

I must mark time for a moment, so that I may
point out to you that one section of the Diamond
Trade Act rendered anyone, not being properly
authorized, liable to the severest punishment, for
being in the possession of a rough and uncut dia-
mond, unless such person held a permit granted
from the Detective Department, and that every
accredited agent of a mining company, licensed
diamond merchant, or others whose business
authorized him to be in possession of rough, uncut
diamonds, had to keep a register, which had to be
handed in to the Detective Department once a
week, describing every transaction on the part of

A KIMBERLEY I.D.B. REMINISCENCE 265

the dealer, or every day’s find on the part of the
miner, which return had also to contain a descrip-
tion of every stone above a certain weight; so
that the Department knew all about every gem
legitimately disposed of on the fields. It also, in
various ways, received information about other
stones and sometimes made seizures of large parcels
of illicit stuff, which the I.D.B.’s were trying to
smuggle out of the country, on one occasion seizing
illicit diamonds to the value of 60,000. Now for
the yarn. It was during the eighties that the
heads of the Detective Department were much
disturbed and the reason of their perturbation was,
that they had information that a number of very
large valuable stones were changing hands in the
illicit market. Of that there was no doubt, but
the Department could get no information as to
how they got there, as they certainly had left no
trail while passing through the hands of the usual
go-betweens, and it was therefore obvious they
must have passed direct from the hands of the

thief to those of Messrs (here halt, no names

no pack drill), a fact not to be believed, for such
big fish as the princes and dukes of I.D.B.’dom
were far too cute to deal direct with Swartboy,
Coffee, Tinpot or any of the raw niggers who acted
as skirmishers in the dangerous game. Still there
was no doubt that many big stones had lately been
passed and from the head of the Department down
to the meanest trap-boy, everyone was on the
qui vive with doubled vigilance; until, at last, it
was discovered that this small gang of inoffensive
foreigners, Bulgarians for choice, were the fountain
from which the glassy stones passed into the hands

266 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

of the I.D.B. aristocracy. But how did these
Bulgarians get hold of them? They were unknown
to the snarks of the Department, they had no deal-
ings with Kafirs, and when tempted by traps
sternly declined to have anything to do with them.
How then were they to be handled, so that they
and their belongings might be searched, at such a
time as it would be likely they should have in-
criminating evidence on their persons?

The head of the Department was at his wits’
end, any day these fellows might leave the Diamond
Fields and be out of his reach ; while they remained
there was still hope that, through them, he might
rope in one of the big fish, perhaps even that big
Triton Barnabas himself. Something must be done.

At last one man suggested that, late one even-
ing, these simple foreigners should be mixed up and
included in a pretended row, that police should be
handy, to run the rioters in, so that on the victims
being searched, at the police-station, something
might be found on them that would justify their
detention. This low-down trick was played the
following night, and the three poor simple souls,
strangers in a foreign land, all of a sudden found
themselves mixed up with a seemingly drunken
mob of brutal Britishers and before they could
extricate themselves, a strong posse of police swept
the whole crowd, paying particular attention to
the inoffensive, much-protesting foreigners, into
the police station; in which den of iniquity and
injustice the indignant Bulgars found insult heaped
on injury, as not only were their sacred persons
overhauled but to their astonishment, the men who
had been the cause of all the trouble conducted the

A KIMBERLEY I.D.B. REMINISCENCE 267

search, which resulted in the discovery of three
most magnificent rough and uncut diamonds. The
naughty foreigners were at once locked up and the
disguised detectives returned to their office to
receive the thanks and congratulations of their
chief.

The special court sits, the three judges take
their seats, and the benches and standing-room
within the court-house are crowded with the
I.D.B. fraternity, among whom are many of their
princes and dukes, all anxious to see and hear a
case which so much concerns their industry, and
excites their sympathy. Would that I could paint
the scene of the interior of that court : the vile, low-
type faces of the I.D.B.’s and the hang-dog-looking
blackguards in the dock, but I must get on. Well
the charges are read out, the section and Act quoted,
and the Public Prosecutor, thinking he has got an
easy task, after stating the case for the Crown, sits
down with a smug, satisfied look on his fat face.
Then up jumps the defending counsel who allows that
what his learned friend has asserted is quite true,
in so far that the things at present before the court
were found on the persons of his clients but at the
same time declared their innocence of contravening
the Act, as the said Act only related to diamonds,
while the articles found on his clients were not
diamonds at all but only remarkably good imita-
tions of the precious gems, and as the Act said noth-
ing against imitation diamonds being carried about
either cut or uncut, and that, as there was no other
law in the land that prohibited a man carrying
about on his person imitation diamonds, he de-
manded the immediate release of the prisoners.

268 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Had a shell popped through one of the open
windows and alighted on the table with its time-
fuse fizzing, it could not have caused more conster-
nation in that court than this line of defence. Up
jumped the Public Prosecutor, who declared that
the things in question were diamonds, that they
had been valued and examined by the leading
experts on the fields; and he stuck to his guns, so
did his learned brother, and the arguments waxed
furious, until the final test, that of the file, was em-
ployed and amid a scene never before witnessed
in that court, the stones of contention were declared
not to be stones at all, and therefore not diamonds,
and the bottom fell out of the case against the
simple Bulgars.

If the chagrin was keen on the part of the De-
partment, there were but few signs of triumph on
the faces of the I.D.B.’s. The writer of this yarn
was seated close to the bench and had a full view
of the auditorium, crowded, as previously men-
tioned, with the fraternity, among whom sat many
of the leading spirits of the trade, and possessing
a keen sense of humour he relished watching the
expressions that came and went on the facile coun-
tenances of the princes of the I.D.B.’s, noting fear,
consternation and sorrow as the defending counsel
made his assertions as to the spurious nature of
the goods, and the hope and joy that shone tran-
siently when the Public Prosecutor declared them
to be good stones, while at the finals, when with-
out doubt they were proved to be false, the Semitic
faces elongated with horror, consternation and de-
spair and the groan that went up was heartrending,
as it was made evident that the guileless Bulgars

A KIMBERLEY I.D.B. REMINISCENCE 269

had been off-loading spurious trash among the
very smartest of a very sharp fraternity, pocketing
good money for worthless goods, so that if the
Department had to put up with a great deal of
chaff, still the wailing and woe for lost shekels
among the aristocracy of the I.D.B.’s was very
great. As for the Bulgars, they had to be kept
for a long period in durance vile and then smuggled
out of the country or they would soon have fallen
victims to the fury of the I.D.B. ‘s, the princes of
whom had for once been caught and sold at their
own game.

CHAPTER VII

YARNS OF THE BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE

IT was in 1884 Sir Charles Warren organized
the B.F.F. to drive the Boer filibusters out of
Vreiburg and Mafeking where they had started
two Burlesque Republics and had played Cain with
the niggers. However I beg to refer my readers
to the Blue Books of that period, in case they should
want any information about the cause of the row.
I, personally, like all Lost Legionaries, never bother
my head about the cause of a row but am always
quite contented, so long as I get my share of any
of the fun that may accrue from it.

Well the Expedition, as it was called, had
among other units three regiments of Mounted
Riflemen: No. i, the Jam-eaters, raised in Eng-
land; No. 2 raised in Cape Colony, and No. 3
raised in Kimberley, where I was then located; and
although I at first held back, for I was in a very
good position at the time, making money and not
expecting any fighting, yet on the arrival of a shave
(rumour) in Kimberley that the 6th Inniskilling
Dragoons had been attacked and cut up at Fourteen
Streams, I at once volunteered, threw up every-
thing and joined the 3rd M.R. Up to the time I
joined good men had been hard to get and the 3rd
M.R. was still short of over 100 men. In raising
an Irregular Regiment, everything depends on

an officer being known, liked and trusted, both

270

THE BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE 271

in action and out, before men who have seen service
will throw up good billets to join and no old hand
cares to serve under officers they do not know.

As I said before the evening I joined, the 3rd
M.R. were still nearly a fourth of their number
short and the Colonel was at his wits’ end to know
where and how to get them. I told him I could
get them at once and to his astonishment I re-
cruited over one hundred picked men, most of
them old hands, in less than forty-eight hours.
So much for my reputation gained in the past
wars. These men, all of whom had thrown up
good billets, proved themselves to be the finest
and best-conducted men in the regiment, and the
regiment itself, together with the 2nd M.R., were
certainly the two finest irregular corps ever em-
bodied in S.A. In fact the whole expeditionary
force was splendidly found, equipped and organ-
ized, so that had we been properly used, as we
should have been had not Mr Gladstone been then
in power, all future Transvaal rows would have
never taken place and S.A. might have been settled
at once and for ever. As is well known we had no
fighting during Warren’s Expedition. The fili-
busters either remained quietly on their farms or
returned to the Transvaal, where their leader,
Groote Adrien De la Rey, a vile scoundrel and the
cold-blooded murderer of Bethell and Honey, two
Englishmen, promptly bolted and took refuge with
Oom Paul, who refused to give him up. Neikirke,
the mock president of the Vreiburg Burlesque
Republic, was arrested and made prisoner and the
Field Force was encamped in cantonments along
the Transvaal border for six months during which

272 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

time we had some very good shooting while the
Powers that were talked, and then we marched
back again and were disbanded. So much for an
expedition under a Liberal Government.

It was on this expedition that the small tin
discs with a man’s number and regiment stamped
on it, so as to secure identification in case of death,
were first issued in S.A. These were the cause of
some rather clever verses written by Sergeant
O’Harra of the 6th I.D., which describe the feel-
ings of the officers and men, composing the ex-
pedition, so much better than I can, that I insert
them here. They were recited and sung at all
our camp-fires during that time and they still are
heard at Regimental smokers all over S.A. up to
this date.

THE B.F.F. TIN-POT MEDAL

” Oh, father ! tell us, father, whose eye is bleared and dim,
Like some ancient tallow candle, an unsnuffed and seedy glym :
Oh, tell us of the medal you wore upon your breast
When you marched up thro’ Stellaland, a-chucking of a chest.

” And tell us of the battles and the victories you won,
And the hardships you encountered there beneath an Afric sun ;
Relate to us the legends of the Dutchmen whom you slew,
Though often told they’re beautiful and wonderfully true.”

” I will, my son,” the old man said, in beery voice and low,
” It happened ’twas in ’85, that’s forty years ago,
That brave Sir Charles Warren, he, with twice two thousand men
Marched bravely up thro’ Stellaland, and then marched down
again.

” And oh, it was a goodly sight to see each gallant boy

In his putties and cord breeches and his coat of corduroy ;

But midst this pomp and splendour, why the thing that looked

the best,
Was the medal of the B.F.F. each wore upon his breast.

” Ay ! that was a medal surely, lad, no bright and shining star,
No bronze gew-gaw for marching that, and glittering from afar ;

THE BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE 273

But a simple tin-pot medal, with this touching legend stamped,
The number of the tramper, and the corps with which he tramped.

*’ Nor was it worn outwardly, as if for side or show,

But jealously lay hidden, down all in the depths below ;

Amidst those lively animals we picked up on the veldt,

The fleas and ticks and others, that with Norfolk Howard spelt.

” It was a stout and goodly force, composed of the Dragoons,
Of Volunteers three regiments and some Pioneering coons :
Three batteries of Artillery were also with the chief,
Besides the men who fed the troops on wretched Bouilli Beef.

” Then there were the Telegraphists, their poles all in a row,
Which when they had not tumbled down, brought news from

down below,

Brought us news of other soldiers, and the victories they won,
While we sat still and grumbled, for our sport had not begun.

” And we also had a corps of Guides, some gents of sable hue,
Though why they called them Guides, I don’t think anybody

knew;

Unless it was that they were unacquainted with the way,
So * Domine direge nos,’ we howled when led astray.

” One day the Engineers, who were possessed of a balloon,
Sent the old chief Montsioa up (a captive) towards the moon ;
And it was a spirit-stirring sound to hear his women swear,
As they saw their lord and master floating gaily through the air.

” For ’tis the usual belief, in Montsioa’s town,

That when a chieftain dies he takes a lengthy journey down ;

While a missionary murmured, as he gazed up to the sky,

‘ How strange that soldiers are the first to send my flock on high.’

” But at last there came an order just as if some fairy wand
Had set us all in motion and we marched on Rooi Grorid :
And there we saw the Dutchman’s flag float bravely o’er the plain,
So we played at body-snatching,* and we then sneaked home
again.

” Of course there was a grand review, a true red-letter day,
When all the Dutchmen came and grinned and grinning rode

away ;

So each put back his sabre in obedience to the call,
And bethought him of his medal, which made amends for all.

* The gallant poet here refers to the exhuming the body of Captain
Bethell murdered in cold blood by the Boers.

274 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

” So then we marched from Mafeking and Sitlagoli too,
Through Vreiburg, Taungs, in fact we marched the whole of

Boerland thro’,

And treking down West Griqualand, at last we reached the Cape,
Each man convinced that he at least had played the garden Ape.

” So you see we fought no battles on that glorious campaign,
For not a man was wounded, not a warrior was slain :
And the doctors had an easy time, as doctors always will,
Campaigning with a General who’s fighting with a quill.

” Thus you see, my lad, the medal that I once wore next my skin,
Is no blood-stained medallion, ’tis a simple bit of tin :
But the sight of it reminds me how I wore it on my breast
When I marched up thro’ Stellaland, a-chucking of a chest.

” But, youngster, there’s a moral, just to end my simple rhyme ;
Don’t you ever go a-soldiering in all your future time :
But if you should be mad enough, of Africa keep clear,
And whate’er you do, you idiot, ‘ Don’t you never volunteer ! ‘ ‘

SERGEANT O’HARRA,
6th LD.

And now for some camp-fire yarns. The Colonel
who commanded the 3rd M.R. was without ex-
ception the very best and smartest cavalry officer
I have ever served under, who although very
strict on all points of duty, gained at once the
respect and esteem of all the Colonial officers and
men who served under him, and these would have
blindly followed him to Hades had he seen fit to
trek there.

This, let me tell you, is by no means usual with
irregular forces, as I regret to say that most Im-
perial officers, utterly ignorant of very many
things in the way of veldt life, and Colonial war-
fare, are often too foolish to take advice from men
who have grown up at the game, and are in conse-
quence looked down on and laughed at by their
men, who although acknowledging their courage
yet do not care to serve under them, at least not

THE BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE 275

before they have learned Colonial ways and the
men are able to trust them. Well we were the
last regiment to be equipped and left the base
camp at Barkley West on a broiling hot day to
march to Taungs. I was on that day merely in
charge of my troop but the Colonel next morning
put me in command of the squadron, removing
the Imperial officer who had been squadron-leader
to other work.

It was by no means a pleasant march; all the
kit was brand new, so were the horses, many of
them only half broken in, and they had only been
handed over to us the evening before we started.
The next night before we reached the outspan,
where we were going to bivouac, the heavens
opened and down came torrents of rain. For
two years there had been a drought, and of course
the rain at once turned the sun-baked flats, over
which we were travelling, into a sea of mud and
water. I was in charge of the advance guard and
had reached the outspan when the Colonel splashed
up to me. He was in rather a rabid state and made
very many pungent remarks, on bullock transport,
the weather, the horses, the men and S.A. in
general, and was just finishing his oration, when,
from the rear, up rode a trooper at a hand gallop.
When he reached us, he tried to rein up, but his
horse slid in the mud, and his new girth straps
having stretched his saddle turned over so he
landed just in front of the peppery Colonel with a
thud and a splash like a whale breaching. This
started the Colonel off again. ” My God/’ said he,
” is this the way troopers are taught to approach
their commanding officer in S.A.?” Then to the

276 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

poor wretch who, covered with mud, had managed
to recover his feet, ” What do you want, who sent
you here, what is it, can’t you speak? ” The un-
happy trooper, who had been trying to clear his
mouth of a fid of mud, stuttered out, ” Captain
So-and-so, that day in charge of the rear-guard,
told me to tell you one of his horses is dead and
what’s he to do.” Again the Colonel started and
made unkind, if truthful, remarks about some
officers, then turning to me said, ” Ride back,
Major Browne, find out what’s the matter, put it
right and hurry up those infernal wagons.”

It was by now pitch dark, the rain coming down
in sheets of water that converted the flat into a
lake but I managed to splash back past the column,
past the long line of wagons, with their labouring
spans of oxen, till I stumbled in the dark against a
small group of men and horses standing in the road.
Now the captain I was looking for was a very tall
Irishman and his one sub. was a small Englishman,
who had held a commission for some years in a
crack Hussar regiment. They were both well-
known characters in Kimberley, both thundering
good fellows, but both of them were fonder of the
whisky, that is white, than of the wine, that is red,
I pulled up my horse and said, ” Is Captain So-
and-so here?” ” He is, Major, and so is Lieutenant
Dickey,” answered a voice I recognized as be-
longing to the Captain, though it was slightly dis-
guised with spiritual comfort. ” Well,” said I,
” the Colonel has sent me back to inquire into the
trouble, what is it? ” ” Shure Trooper O’Flyn’s
little hos has dropped dead, sor. What will we
do at all at all? ” ” Well,” said I, ” if the horse

THE BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE 277

is dead the only thing to do is to hold a board on
it. There is no vet with the column, but we are
here three officers. I as senior will act as president,
you two gentlemen will act as members. We have
no pens, ink or paper, and if we had we could not
use them on a night like this, so that I will write
out the proceedings of the board to-morrow and
we can sign it then. Where is Trooper O’Flyn? “
” Here, sor.” ” Well tell us how your horse died.”
In a voice in which whisky and sorrow blended
equally the trooper replied, ” The little hos carried
me like an angel but all at once he fell wid me and
died. God rest his soul.” ” Well, Lieutenant
Dickey, what do you attribute its death to? ” The
Lieutenant who will be recognized by all Kimberley
old hands by his nickname Dickey, answered with
drunken gravity and becoming military prompt-
ness, “Bots,sor.” “Now, Captain So-and-so, what
do you consider was the cause of the horse’s death? “
” Dispensation of Providence, sir,” quoth he.
” Well,” said I, ” as none of us can see the horse,
much less judge the nature of its death, to-night, we
will ride back to-morrow, should the Colonel deem
it necessary, when perhaps you gentlemen will
alter your opinions and I may have the chance of
forming one. In the meantime, O’Flyn, take off
the horse’s kit and carry it into camp.” The
trooper, muttering to himself, dragged off the
saddle, bridle and head-stall, then vexed at having
to carry them through the mud and rain into
camp, kicked the dead horse, at the same time
apostrophizing it, ” Lie there, }^ou onlucky baste,
bad scran to yer soule,” and at once the supposed
dead animal jumped up and ran away into the outer

278 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

darkness while the rearguard and myself went into
fits of laughter, which were not checked by the
yells of Trooper O’Flyn, who sat down in the mud,
swore he was bewitched, and refused to be com-
forted. There was not much damage done as the
horse would rejoin the others, so calling the officers
aside, I administered a word of warning to them
and, also, I must confess, imbibed a strong tot
from their bottle, then splashed back to my men,
who were making down a very uncomfortable
bivouac.

We slopped through the mud to Taungs, re-
mained there four days, and then marched to Vrei-
burg, where the 3rd M.R. halted, and remained
encamped. We had a very good time there, as
far as shooting and sport went, but as most of my
men had given up good positions and billets in the
hopes of fighting we found the time hang heavily
on our hands.

Among the duties we had to undeitake was the
guarding of the ex-president of the aforementioned
Burlesque Republic. He was a fat, dirty, greasy
Dutchman, and what the deuce the General wanted
with him the Lord only knows, but as he was the
only prisoner he (the General) had been able to
capture he may have prized the evil-smelling brute
at a higher figure than any of the rest of us did.
This animal was reported to have had a hand in
the murder of Honey; whether he had or not I do
not know but he was the greatest coward I ever met
and quite capable of doing anything underhand.
Now a shave went round that the Boers were going
to try and release him. I never believed it myself
as I failed to understand what they could want

THE BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE 279

with the beast, and I am sure he was neither use
nor ornament to us, but evidently the General
thought otherwise and must have been very
nervous about the safety of his only trophy. For
one night at 10 o’clock we were ordered to parade
two squadrons to escort the bounder down to
Taungs for greater safety, and I was sent with one
of my troops to remove him from the building
used as a gaol, put him in a wagon, and fetch him
along to the parade ground, where the main party
had fallen in.

I proceedeoto the gaol and found the news had
been broken to him by Captain Pusey of the Police,
who was personally in charge of him. He had been
in bed when Pusey came to him and I never saw
a man in such an awful state of funk in all my life.
He walloped about on the earthen floor of the room,
crying like a child. He refused to get dressed,
begging on his knees for his life, and refused to
believe us when we swore he was not going to be
hung right out of hand. At last I told him that
if he would not dress himself and get into the
wagon I should tell my men to throw him in neck
and crop, naked, as he was. Eventually we got
him into the wagon and started, reaching Brussels
that night, Drei Hartz next night, and Taungs the
following afternoon. Here our prisoner was handed
over to a guard of the Royal Scots who proceeded
to fix bayonets. This was quite too much for him,
he threw himself on the ground, seized hold of my
spurs and refused to let go of them, insisting that
if I went away the Tommies would put their knives
into him, so at last he had to be removed by force
and taken into the fort, howling with fear. I never

280 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

saw him again and I never want to. He was tried
for the murder of Honey and acquitted, was let go
and bolted to the Transvaal, where Oom Paul made
a magistrate of him, for such men were the delight
of his heart, so that the General lost his only trophy
but the 3rd M.R. were relieved from the duty of
guarding the cur.

The following day we started our return journey
and after a cold march, reached Drei Hartz, where
we bivouacked. The horses were picketed, the two
wagons drawn up in line, about twenty yards
apart, and the men lay down by troops in front of
their horses.

There was but little fuel, consequently no
camp fires, so after a scrambled dinner of tinned
sausages and a pipe, the officers lay down by one
wagon, the other being appropriated by the guard.
The night was bitterly cold but we had plenty of
blankets and so slept well and comfortably. Next
morning I woke up before daybreak, my usual
custom, and found the whole camp enveloped in
a dense fog, so thick that I could not see the horses
picketed a few yards in front of me and could only
just distinguish the Colonel lying beside me, he
being on the extreme right of the line of officers.
Now given a dark morning with a dense fog, it is
very easy for a man to mistake one wagon for
another, and under the same circumstances two
lines of sleeping men rolled up in brown blankets
very much resemble one another; anyhow I was
lazily contemplating a morning pipe when a figure
loomed out of the fog and coming up to us let fly
a terrific kick at the Colonel with the words, ” Get
up, you lazy bounder, and do your sentry-go! “

THE BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE 281

Up started the Colonel with a yell, trying to get
rid of the blankets in which he was wrapped, and
exclaimed, ” I’m not a lazy bounder and I won’t
do sentry-go/ ‘ The mysterious form, muttering
” Good Gord,” promptly disappeared in the fog.
The Colonel seized me I was feigning sleep and
smothering my laughter and said, ” Browne,
Browne, wake up! A fellow’s kicked me and told
me to do a sentry-go. Who is it? ” ” Oh,
impossible, sir/’ I said. ” It must have
been nightmare.” “Nightmares don’t kick,”
he snorted, rubbing himself, ” and I can
feel it.”

I called the Corporal of the Guard, whom I knew
to be the real offender, but of course he knew
nothing and swore it was impossible. Then the
Colonel lay down again, cursing all Colonial and
Irregular troops, especially the 3rd M.R. (of whom by
the way he was very proud). Scarcely had he fallen
asleep again, when for a second time a figure came
out of the fog and gave him a rousing kick, saying,
” Get up, you lazy bounder, and blow the reveille.”
Again the Colonel yelled and again the figure
uttered a pious ejaculation and disappeared.
” Browne, Browne,” cried the Colonel, ” I’m not
a lazy bounder and I won’t blow the reveille. Get
up and find the swine who kicked me. I’ll be
blanked if I’ll be turned into a football by your
infernal men.”

I groped my way round the lines but of course
could not find the culprit and returned to try and
persuade the Colonel that the sausages overnight
were to blame for his nightmare. This only
annoyed him. He got on my trek, I got the hump,

282 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

and that day’s march was a very miserable one.
It was also one of Bechuanaland’s worst days. A
strong, cold, cutting wind sprang up ; certainly it
blew away the fog but it raised clouds of dust that
simply smothered and choked us. The advance
guard, for the day, was under one of my subs., a
very smart and efficient officer. Suddenly the
Colonel ordered his trumpeter to blow the ” Halt/’
In the raging dust storm my sub. did not hear it,
so took no notice, and the Colonel, foaming with
rage, ordered the trumpeter to gallop ahead and
bring him back. Then the Colonel gathered all
the junior officers together, and after telling them
collectively and individually all their failings
wound up with, ” And now, gentlemen, I’ll see if you
know the bugle calls/’ He started the trumpeter
through his repertoire, asking the officers in turn
what each call meant, but the officers were sulky
and not being famous for their knowledge of music
either could not or would not answer correctly-
I was riding by myself away on the flank, dream-
ing of the long drink I would have when we got
into camp and paying no attention to the trumpet-
calls, when suddenly the Colonel shouted, ” Major
Browne, what was that last trumpet-call?’ 5
Taken by surprise and following the train of my
thoughts, I blurted out, ” Grog, sir.” I believe
it was really ” Right wheel! ” and the Colonel’s
language I leave to your imagination. He cursed
us all for fully five minutes but shortly afterwards
rode over to me, remarked the day and the dust
were sinful and tendered me his flask, which was
thankfully accepted, and there the matter
ended.

CHAPTER VIII

WE ALL WENT A-HUNTING THAT DAY

TOWARDS the end of our service, my squadron was
sent on post duty between Vreiburg and Taungs.
All chance of fighting was over but the country
swarmed with game, especially small buck and
hares.

We were to leave Vreiburg in the afternoon and
on the same morning one of my sergeants, whose
father was a well-known M.F.H. in England,
suggested to me the advisability of starting a
bobbery pack of hounds. I gave my consent and
detailed himself and two of his pals to collect all
the stray animals of the canine species that over-
ran the camp and the rising town of Vreiburg.
This they did with the assistance of two lady dogs
and conveyed some twelve couple of curs of
various breeds to Brussels (where my headquarters
were to be) and shut them up in one of the stone
forts the R.E. had built there. I marched my
squadron to the same place and encamped outside
the fort, but the howling and yelping of the im-
prisoned animals effectually prevented any of Us
getting to sleep that night. Next day I gave the
order for a voluntary parade without arms and
with stripped saddles. Every man turned up;
the sergeant and his two pals, who had raised the
pack, had also raised some Tommies’ old red tunics

283

284 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

and appeared as huntsmen and whips. Well the
fort gate was opened and out rushed the glad pack.
Great Diana, what a pack it was, some twenty-five
animals in all, ranging from half-bred deerhounds
to terriers. There were bull-dogs, wagon dogs
and dogs of every known denomination and many
without any denomination at all, but such as they
were I meant to hunt with them, so getting the
men into extended order I gave the word to ad-
vance and we moved off with the huntsman, w r hips
and pack in front of the line.

We had only proceeded a few yards when up
got a hare, right under the hounds’ noses, some of
whom went after her. I gave the word to gallop
and in a moment pandemonium started. The
hare ran close on two hundred yards then turned
and came back on her own spoor.

As I said before she had been followed by some
of the dogs, so she had, and they were after her
still but the remainder and by far the greater
number of curs had at once joined in a free fight.
Then the men, most of them wild, reckless young
fellows, on the word to gallop, had closed in after
the hare, tried to turn with her, met others who
were behind them, ran into one another and upset
each other all over the shop.

What with the worrying and yelping of the dogs,
the galloping and shouting of the men, the ejacula-
tion and cuss words of the huntsman and whips
trying to part and straighten out the heap of
fighting dogs, one might have thought Old Nick
had broken loose, while to render confusion worse
confounded some sixty native pioneers who were
passing at the time, on the line of march, threw

WE ALL WENT A-HUNTING THAT DAY 285

down their arms and joined in the hunt, howling
like wild beasts. Faith it was a sight one would
only see once in your life, so I slipped off my horse,
sat down on an ant-heap and laughed till I could
laugh no more. Presently a new element appeared
on the scene for the white officer and his non-coms.,
enraged at the desertion of their niggers, started
hunting them, a job in which my mad troopers,
not knowing what was up, and some of the dogs,
joined, so that what had started as a peaceful hunt
might have become a second Chevy Chase and ended
the Lord only knows how. Luckily I got hold of
my trumpeter and ordered him to blow the regi-
mental call and the rally, which he did, and my
men answering, I got them together, when such
hounds as could be collected were escorted back to
kennel.

Well, well, it’s nearly twenty-five years ago, but
I still laugh at the recollection of that hunt and
my first and last attempt at running a pack of
hounds.

What became of the hare I don’t know, but I
managed to pacify the pioneer officer, who accom-
panied me back to camp, and after I had lunched
him, consented to relieve me of the majority of the
pack and take them back to Vreiburg. I retained
however two very good half-bred deerhounds, and
a fairly well-bred pointer, and with these had
capital sport. There were moreover in the close
vicinity to the camp very large herds of springbok
and blessbok so that myself and my men had
plenty of shooting and fresh meat.

CHAPTER IX

THE JEW SMOUSER AND THE IRISH PRIEST

ONE wretched cold, wet evening I was sitting alone
in my tent feeling very lonely, when I heard
the sentry challenge and a mule-cart drew up.
” Holloa,” said I to myself, ” who on earth can
this be? I only hope he wants to stay the night.
It will be company anyhow and I know the larder
is full.” Presently I heard a voice, that I recog-
nized in a moment, say, ” Is this Major Browne’s
tent? ” and I jumped up and opened the flap, say-
ing, ” Come right in, Ikey, out of the cold and wet.”
In a moment there entered a big German Hebrew
who spoke English with a Yankee accent and who
was well known, if not respected, all over S.A.

Now in this country no one might call Ikey a
desirable acquaintance for he was a Hebrew in
whom there was much guile, but up-country on a
cold, cheerless night he was a treasure to a lonely
man with the hump. For Ikey had travelled much
in very queer parts of the world, had done many
queer things, alas, many of them not quite honest,
but he was the very best raconteur I have ever
met in my life with a marvellous fund of dry wit
that was simply irresistible.

His life had been one of adventure. In Ger-
many, as a boy, during the early forties, he had
been a revolutionist, had been taken prisoner

and condemned to death ; he had escaped from a

286

THE JEW SMOUSER AND IRISH PRIEST 287

fortress, got on board an English ship and been
landed, penniless, in America, had drifted out to
California, and been one of the men who had hoisted
the Black Bear flag. Always a revolutionist he
had joined most of the filibustering expeditions
of those times. He had been one of the prisoners,
to the Mexicans, who had to draw for the black
beans, in that ghastly lottery, at La Senora, and
was in fact the very individual to make a lonely
man pass a very pleasant evening, provided that
lonely man did not fancy himself strong at games
of chance, especially with cards.

There are thousands of yarns spun about Ikey
from the Zambezi to Cape Town but I will only
inflict one on you, which although an ancient
chestnut in S.A. may be new in England.

Ikey, years before the date of my meeting him,
was a smouser, i.e., a man who travelled about the
country trading with the scattered Dutch farmers
and especially buying their wool. A smouser’ s
great source of profit is making quick calculations
when buying and selling by which the farmer,
quite ignorant of arithmetic, parts with his goods
at half their value or gives double the price for
what he purchases.

Well, Ikey was a smouser, and one day he visited
a farmer, bought his wool and then said after it
had been weighed and the price fixed per pound,
” So many pounds at so much comes to so much/’
mentioning a sum about half the actual total.
But the farmer said, ” Nein, it should be so much,”
stating the real figure, and produced a ready
reckoner! Was Ikey cornered? Not a bit. With
an air of surprise he said, ” Let’s look at that book.”

288 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

The farmer handed Ikey the book and with exulta-
tion pointed out the place.

Ikey looked at the calculation, with a sneer,
then taking the book he turned to the title-page
and then pointing to the date of publication said
with a laugh, ” Why, mein dear chap, you have
got hold of one of last year’s books. This year so
many pounds at so much makes so much,” and he
won his case as the farmer looked at the date,
shook his head, cursed the man who had sold him
the book, declared he had been swindled and gave
in. So he had been swindled only not by the man
he blamed. Well, this was the old sinner who
claimed my hospitality and, I must confess, I
welcomed him with more pleasure than I should
have bestowed on a much better man.

We had a good dinner, the rum bottle was pro-
duced, and over our pipes we sat and yarned until
Ikey proposed a game of cards. Now I knew Ikey
to be a professional gambler and even if I had
fancied myself at cards, I should never have dreamt
of pitting my skill against his, but playing for
money is one of the few vices that has never
appealed to me. Yet Ikey was my guest, I must
amuse him, and a few games at euchre, at a tickey
(3d.) a game, could hurt no one, so I consented.

Ikey produced a pack of cards and before we
began said to me, ” Major, shall it be with or
without? ” meaning should each man cheat or
play fair, and of course I answered, “Oh, without
Ikey, without.”

Well we played two or three desultory sort of
games, frequently laying down our cards and
yarning, until I at last spotted Ikey pass the Joker.

THE JEW SMOUSER AND IRISH PRIEST 289

At once I threw down my hand and said with a
tone of sorrow and reproach, ” Oh, Ikey, without,
Ikey, without.”

At once he messed up the cards and ejaculated,
with well-feigned surprise and petulance, ” Mein
Gott, Major, that comes from the cursed force of
habit,” and we both burst out in a laugh. Well
I marked that night with a white stone, for
although Ikey may have robbed me of sixpence,
his entertaining yarns and shrewd wit were worth
far more. Good luck to the old sinner be he alive
or dead.

I don’t think there are any more yarns, worth
spinning, about Warren’s Expedition. It was a
splendid Field Force thrown away, and at last the
date came for us to march back to Barkley West to
be disbanded.

I mentioned in my yarns of the Transkei the
celebrated Father Walsh. He was with the B.F.F.
as R.C. Military Chaplain and we were great
friends. I was to see him for the last time on the
march down country, and although I knew it not,
was to say good-bye to one of the best and whitest
men it has ever been my lot to meet in this world.
A soldier, a gentleman and a priest. God rest his
soul!

Well as I said before he was serving in the B.F.F.
as R.C. Chaplain and was the admiration of all the
men for his gallant defence of a fort, which I have
previously mentioned. He was in very bad health,
though none of us knew how bad, for his big heart
kept him going while his cheery voice and hearty
laugh were as mellow as of yore, although he knew
well that his days were numbered and the tale short.

2go A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

We were moving down country by squadrons,
mine being the last, and one day, on the line of
march, I was riding at the head of it. It was a
beastly, cold dusty day. We had the wind in our
teeth, and the dense clouds of dust and grit driven
by the gale choked our eyes, mouths and nostrils,
and was so bad that we had considerable trouble
to force our horses to face it. The day before,
during a halt at a store, two men had got drunk,
and as punishment I made them walk behind the
wagons and carry their saddles.

Presently Father Walsh overtook the column
and rode up to me with, ” The top of the mornin’,
Major, to ye.” ” God be wid your reverence,”
said I. ” It’s a bad day,” says he, ” but glory be
I’ve a drop of comfort in my off wallet that maybe
will remove some of the dust from your throat.”
With that he pulled out a bottle of whisky.
” Drink hearty,” said he, ” the Queen, God bless
her,” and I had a good pull. Then coming close
to me he whispered, ” Major dear, there’s those two
poor fellows, tramping behind the wagons, through
all the dust, wid heads on ‘em like concertinas
and tongues down to their waistbelts. You know
what it is, me son! Now, Major dear, mayn’t I
just fall back and give ‘em a drop of comfort? “
” You may not, Father,” says I, “for they are
under guard.” ” I can square the guard,” he
wheedled. ” I’ll have none of your Jesuitical
tricks with my men, Father,” says I. ” Have
another pull, Major me son, the dust’s still in your
throat,” says he. I did so and then catching his
eye I could not help but laugh and said, ” Well,
Father, it’s yourself that has the wisdom of a

THE JEW SMOUSER AND IRISH PRIEST 291

serpent ; be off with you and maybe, so long as I
don’t know about it, it will be all right. ” He fell
back to the rear. Some time afterwards he ranged
up alongside of me looking very disconsolate.
” Father/’ says I, ” my eyes are full of dust.”
” Rub them, me son,” says he. ” But my throat
is full of dust too.” “There is water in the Vlei,
two miles ahead,” he murmured still under a cloud.
” But is there no drop of comfort in your off-side
wallet, Father dear? ” said I. ” There is not, me
son,” said the holy man with emphasis. ” Father,”
says I, ” I’m afraid you have not been abstemious
this morning.” ” Sorra a drop of the blessed stuff
has passed my lips this day,” he groaned. ” But
that long divil of a Scotch Presbyterian Corporal
of yours has got a swallow on him as long as an
ostrich, bad luck to the baste.”

Then realizing that his effort to square the guard
had cost us dearly, I fired my last shot at him.
” Oh, Father,” said I, ” I have always given you
the credit of possessing the wisdom of a serpent,
but a man must be as innocent as a sucking dove
who would trust the only bottle of whisky into the
hands of a black Presbyterian Scotchman, on a day
like this. Oh, Father, it’s ashamed of you I am.”
A few more words and he said, ” Maori my son, ride
this way,” and he edged me out of earshot of any-
one. In a moment the whole personality of the
man changed, from the roistering, bantering com-
rade to the sincere and noble priest. ” Maori,”
he said, ” we don’t belong to the same Church “
(but the words he uttered were far too sacred to be
written here). When he had finished, he grasped
my hand and wrung it. ” Good-bye, Maori,” said

292 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

he again, and after raising his hand in a blessing,
he put spurs to his horse, and cantered away.
Struck dumb with astonishment, I watched him,
admiring his fine seat in the saddle, and thought to
myself, “The Queen, God bless her, lost a fine
dragoon when you joined the priesthood/’

We reached Barkley West, paid off, disbanded
the men, and in five days after the Holy Father
had passed us en route I drove into Kimberley
and found all the flags in the town half-masted.
” Holloa/’ said I, to the first acquaintance I met,
” what’s the matter? ” ” Why/’ said he, ” Father
Walsh died last night.”

Yes, it was too true, and the gallant priest knew
he was dying when he said good-bye to me, but he
would not tell us, for fear of causing sorrow to the
wild and reckless boys he loved so well, and whom
he had tried to guide by precept and example.
Never had there been, never will there be, such a
funeral in Kimberley as when the remains of this
noble priest and soldier were conveyed to his last
camping-ground, followed as they were by every
class and every denomination of creed in that
cosmopolitan city. Yea, not only followed but
deeply regretted by all and everyone in that sinful
community. His memory is however still kept
green, in the hearts of the old hands who knew
him, and many a yarn is still told and many a
pannikin still raised, round the camp fires in S.A.,
to the memory of Father Walsh, priest and soldier.

CHAPTER IX
so LONG!

AFTER the disbandment of the 3rd Mounted Rifles
I turned to mine work again but have no space in
this book to describe the life led on the Diamond
Fields by a Lost Legionary out of harness; suffice
it to say I suffered much for my folly in throwing
up lucrative employment for the purpose of bear-
ing arms while a Liberal Party was in power.
Towards the end of 1886 a great boom in the
volunteering movement set in through South Africa
when it was determined to start two regiments in
Kimberley. One of these, a mounted regiment
named the Diamond Field Horse, was the resus-
citation of a corps that had won considerable re-
putation for itself during the Colonial and Griqua-
land West rebellions of 1877 and 1878, and to
this regiment I was appointed adjutant.

The regiment, consisting of four squadrons of
cavalry, together with a battery of four seven-
pounder field-guns, quickly filled and was a very-
fine one indeed; as at that time there was in
Kimberley a large number of men who had previ-
ously served in the late wars or in one of the numer-
ous South African Mounted Police Forces. These
men all knew their work, had a liking for it, and
joined readily, and it was a real treat for me to
have the handling of such a fine body of men. The

293

294 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

officers too, albeit some of them had but a vague
idea of drill, were rattling good fellows, and as all
of them did their best for the good of the regiment
it throve in a most wonderful manner.

The Diamond Field Horse was the first real
permanent volunteer corps I had ever served in
and I was much struck and greatly surprised by
the rapidity with which it gained proficiency, and
I am convinced that from a properly – organized
volunteer corps (provided the men have sufficient
elan and the officers are competent) a vast number
of good useful men can be produced from its ranks
in a very short time.

At this distance of time I look back with pride
and I think myself laudation is in this case pardon-
able, that although I never had the good fortune
to be able to put the last finishing polish on the
Diamond Field Horse which can only be accom-
plished under fire, and though shortly after my
leaving the corps in 1891 it dwindled away to
nothing, still many of the men who had received
their sole military training from me in the ranks
of the Diamond Field Horse came to the front,
made big names for themselves and rose to high
rank in the late Boer War. This being the case
I utterly fail to see why civilian troops should not
be of immense use for the defence of this country
provided they are judiciously trained as irregulars.

The Boer irregulars, bad as a vast number of
them were, both in quality and discipline, proved
a hard nut for our Imperial forces to crack and in
far too many instances forced our scientifically-
trained officers to hoist the white flag. Now much
has been written and talked about the Dutchman’s

SO LONG! 295

wonderful shooting powers and men who have only
served a dog’s watch in South Africa have declared
the Boer to be a far better shot than the English-
man. This is all tommy-rot for in the thirty years
I passed in South Africa I never discovered this
vaunted superiority of the Dutch marksmen either
at target, game or nigger shooting over Englishmen
who were accustomed to the rifle. The principal
reasons the British lost so heavily without admin-
istering compensating punishment were chiefly
because they were usually the attacking party and
did not make the full use of such cover as the
nature of the ground afforded; while their oppo-
nents, skilfully hidden behind rocks and in shelter
trenches, held their assailants at great disadvantage.
Moreover, as they occupied positions which they
themselves had previously chosen, they had care-
fully measured and marked the various ranges
over which the British troops were forced to pass.
Now, what I want to point out is that Great
Britain possesses very many thousands of highly-
trained rifle shots who keep themselves in constant
practice, and although it would be as useless to
try and empty the sea with a sieve as to pit these
men to manoeuvre, or fight in line against highly-
trained continental troops, still I would defy any
column of the latter to advance across country in
face of these marksmen for they would be lashed
both in front and on flank by an incessant hail of
well-directed bullets, each of which would be fired
by men knowing their distance from the object and
able to plug a bull’s-eye three times out of four
shots at 600 or 800 yards. Naturally you may say,
oh, but the column would be screened by a cloud

296 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

of cavalry. True, but how many of those cavalry,
horse or trooper, would be alive after they had
reached within 1500 yards of those picked marks-
men. Not many, I gamble, would survive to
advance another 500 yards. Oh, but you remark,
the column would detach strong parties of skir-
mishers. Yes, they might, and those skirmishers
being forced to advance, even in extended order,
across open fields would rapidly be picked off and
soon meet the fate of the defunct cavalry screen.
Then again should the column deploy into line and
start volley-firing they would only present a broader
target to their hidden assailants while their bullets
might sow the fields without doing further damage.
Of course artillery would be employed to search
the ground in front of the advancing enemy, but
good shots behind good cover or firing from out
of ditches have but little to fear from artillery fire,
while the gunners, together with the gun horses,
would meet the same fate as our men suffered at
the Tugela. Naturally I am not such a lunatic
as to imagine that an invading army could be de-
feated, or its advance be permanently stopped, by
a few thousand riflemen, but what I do maintain
is, that its progress could be seriously hampered,
that no reconnoitring party could be sent out, that
no mounted officer could live, and that its field
hospitals would soon be chock-full, provided it
should be assailed by a few thousand such snipers,
split up into small parties and judiciously led, as
Great Britain could produce. At present very
many of the best individual shots are in the terri-
torial regiments, where they are comparatively
useless as a few good marksmen cannot, on active

SO LONG! 297

service, improve the shooting of a mass of incom-
petent men, but should these picked shots be drawn
from their regiments, be supplemented by the crack
shots out of the various rifle clubs, be banded to-
gether and be properly trained as irregular troops
you could form ten or a dozen regiments that, pro-
vided each corps thoroughly knew its individual
district, could hamper, check and at the same time
administer such unsophisticated Hades to an in-
vading force as would make that force fall an easy
prey to the British regulars and also give time to
the latter to mobilize in sufficient strength to com-
pel the invaders to fight a decisive battle under the
most disadvantageous circumstances.

Now my argument is based on the proviso that
these marksmen should be properly trained as
irregulars, and this could be very easily done with-
out much expense or trouble to the men themselves,
and while I am on the stump let me give vent to
my ideas drawn from the experience of many years’
irregular warfare, and from having had to handle
and lick into shape many hundreds of men taken
from every class of society; a vast number of
whom were the scum of the universe who knew no
more about discipline or drill than an imp fresh
from the equatorial regions of Hades knows about
snowballing or ice cream. Yet in a very short
space of time they were fit and ready to face warlike
natives in the field when they rendered a good ac-
count of themselves. Now the crack shots of Great
Britain have most of them been, more or less, at
some period of their lives, under discipline, so that
the vast majority of them know quite enough of the
simple drill suitable for irregular troops, and as

298 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

they would not require to be instructed in the
rudiments of musketry most of the training that
young soldiers and territorials find so irksome could
be dispensed with altogether.

To make corps or rather troops (for each
county’s or combination of county’s regiment
should be divided into bands of not more than
fifty or sixty men, each under its captain or leader)
thoroughly proficient they must first of all learn
the topography of their own district, the exact
distance from ridges, woods or any commanding
positions that at some future time they may be
called upon to hold against an advancing enemy
and the salient landmarks that enemy would have
to pass during its advance. They should learn
every short cut to and from such defensible posi-
tions, every lane, cross road and ditch leading in
its direction, that would enable parties of the enemy
to approach them by unawares, and also in case
they themselves were forced to retreat they might
be able to do so as expeditiously and safely as
possible. All this might be done during the winter
on their half-holidays or Sunday outings, and they
might make their trips either on horseback, bike
or Shanks’ mare, the men doing the latter bear-
ing in mind that heaps of information re dis-
tances and the length of time it takes for infantry
to march from place to place, to say nothing about
spotting cover an enemy might make use of, can
be better acquired by the humble foot-slogger than
by his comrades the pig-skin polisher or the bike
rider. Still a combination of parties would be
obviously the better way to acquire knowledge,
and plans or maps could be made and tested when

SO LONG! 299

they subsequently discuss the day’s work and
observations in their headquarters or club. In this
club they could be taught by lectures and discus-
sions the great theory of irregular fighting, which is
to inflict as much injury to your assailants as you
can and take as little punishment as possible in
return.

And now let me tell you how this can be done.
In the first place, every man must be taught to
fight on his own initiative although acting under
and strictly obeying orders. This would not be
difficult to inculcate as the men to be trained are
all brainy men who can think and reason for them-
selves else they would never have been able to
attain a place among the picked shots of Great
Britain, and would therefore be able to compre-
hend and act upon instructions infinitely better
than the raw boys who as a rule fill the ranks of
the territorials. Should this system of theoretical
instruction be carried out judiciously a very few
days in the year would be necessary for regimental
mobilization, as the various units could be taught
to take cover and act independently by themselves
so that the yearly fortnight in camp that causes
such inconvenience now could be dispensed with.
Of course a very large percentage of these irregulars
must be mounted, and for the sake of rapid action
should be well horsed, care being taken that the
nags should be able to jump and the men able to
stick on their backs during a smart gallop across
country so as to pound any regular cavalry sent
in pursuit of them while falling back from positions
no longer tenable. This should be easy as their
supplies of rations, stores, etc., being located in

300 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

rear of them, they could work with stripped saddles
while their pursuing enemy would be heavily
handicapped, being encumbered and weighted by all
the paraphernalia that a cavalry horse is forced to
carry. Nor would any O.C. of cavalry be very
keen on pursuing small bodies of lightly-equipped
mounted men over a country, any ditch, hedgerow
or wood of which might ambush a hundred or more
Bisley prize-winners. Now very many of these
crack shots can already ride, others of them could
be taught, while those who have no taste for horse-
flesh could still render immense service as cyclists,
or even as foot-sloggers, as the latter could hold
positions from whence, taking care their line of
retreat should be always open to them, they could
deal out death at long ranges with but little risk
to themselves provided they would only learn to
take cover. In the preceding paragraph I wrote
the words woods, etc., now I wonder if any of the
men responsible for our national safety have ever
given a thought to the use that could and should
be made, in case of an invasion, of the woods,
coppices and spinneys so plentiful in England and
if so what steps they have taken to train our officers
and soldiers in the art of bush fighting. Perhaps
they think that the men would instinctively and
immediately acquire this most useful though diffi-
cult accomplishment, and that therefore there is
no necessity for special training. Should this be
the case they are blind, besotted idiots, and I re-
commend them to call to mind the disasters suffered
by our troops in the old American wars, the in-
capacity of the regular troops in New Zealand
from 1860 to 1866, and the unburlesquable comedies

SO LONG! 301

called combined movements round the Fieri Bush
and Thaba Indoda during the South African cam-
paign of 1878. Now I never yet met an Imperial
officer or soldier who, at the first go off, had the
faintest idea of bush fighting, and I do not blame
them for their ignorance, as how could they pos-
sibly become trained bush fighters when most
probably the majority of them had never in their
lives before ever entered a wood thicker bushed
than Hyde Park, while the ordinary training of a
soldier teaches him to fight collectively rather than
individually, the latter being the first and most
important lesson for a neophyte in bush warfare
to learn. Most of the woods in England, being
game preserves, are tapu as training grounds to
our troops yet in case of an invasion they would
be the scenes of the most desperate fighting, and
in many bloody encounters the successful defence
or combat in a wood might mean victory or defeat
to one or the other. This is a well-known fact yet
there is not one single body of men, and probably
not one single officer, who has been trained to bush
fighting in England, while I am creditably informed
that a certain number of German Jager regiments
are put through a yearly course of instruction in
forest warfare, and if such be the case may the
Lord fight actively on our side should ever our un-
trained Tommies have to try conclusions with ac-
complished bush fighters in even an English wood.
I have stated that the majority of the woods in
this country are tapu (i.e. forbidden) to troops for
training purposes and that even during the autumn
manoeuvres they are kept sacred from the profane
tread of a soldier. I am not going to argue on

302 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

the rights and wrongs of private property, but
surely there are some wood-owners patriotic enough
to allow small parties of responsible men, under the
guidance of their own gamekeepers, to penetrate
into their coverts, learn their geography, the lay
of the land, the density of the thickets and how to
get about inside it, and when it was found they did
no harm to the game, even to allow them to practice
skirmishing within their most sacred recesses.
Should landowners permit this they would be
rendering their country a far greater service than
they wot of.

I must apologize to my readers for writing these
last few pages, but I have been actuated by the
sole wish to render my King, Country and Flag one
more trivial service, hoping that an old Frontiers-
man’s ideas, rough and incomplete though they are,
may perchance fall into the hands of some man in
a position to make use of them. But then when I
see the profound words and writings of a great man
like Lord Roberts treated with contempt what
hope can there be of anyone paying attention to
the scribblings of an unknown old war-dog such as
myself, so let me continue my yarn now quickly
drawing to a close.

Well, I was appointed Adjutant of the Diamond
Field Horse and was serving with them in 1888
when Dinizulu’s Rebellion broke out, and one fine
day I received an urgent telegram from the Imperial
authorities requesting me to proceed to Natal with-
out a moment’s delay, and in less than two hours
I was in the train and on the trek once more for
Zululand.

The silly policy of the Liberal Government in

SO LONG! 303

allowing Cetewayo to return to Zululand had cul-
minated in perhaps the most awful and bloody
civil war the world has ever seen, in which neither
man, woman nor child was spared, while Mr Glad-
stone’s well-known cowardice encouraged a gang
of Boer filibusters to enter Zululand, where they,
defeating Usibeppo, a loyal chief, who had foolishly
trusted to the promises made by Britain’s repre-
sentatives, had seized a huge tract of country and
in spite of English troops being on the spot held
the stolen land, which they called The New Re-
public. Truly if ever a man disgraced his country
and his flag it was Mr W. E. Gladstone. But I am
not writing a history of Zululand ; it would not be a
pleasant task for a man who honours the traditions
of his country to do so. Dinizulu after the defeat
of Usibeppo took up his abode in a small but very
dense bush, one side of which bordered on the New
Republic, and the fear of offending a handful of
dirty Dutch land-grabbers, located on stolen pro-
perty, prevented the authorities from allowing
the General to intrude on what was really English
territory, surrounding the bush and hiving Dinizulu
in his fastness. I travelled from Kimberley in
company with Colonel F. Carrington and Captain
Thompson, it being intended that the former
should raise a brigade of irregulars and that myself,
Thompson, together with Major Dear, were to serve
on his staff. Previous to our arrival at Etchowe
(then headquarters) a party of the Inniskilling
Dragoons, supported by two companies of the
Staffordshire Regiment, had advanced to the bush,
reconnoitring, but being attacked by overwhelm-
ing numbers had been forced to fall back. On

304 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

this reverse the Field Force had been reinforced
by a battalion of the Royal Scots and two machine
guns, the whole being massed at Entongeneni and
Inkonjene, where they awaited the advent of the
staff before crossing the Black Umvolosi River and
twisting Dinizulu’s tail. Everyone had moved on,
with the exception of the General, when we reached
Etchowe and then we learnt that the General had
modified his plans and that Colonel Carrington
was to serve on the H.Q. staff, while Dear, Thomp-
son and myself were to take command of three
battalions of Natal Kafirs. This was not pleasant
news for me as I had experienced the joys of com-
manding Natal Kafirs in 1879 ; however I had never
been a grumbler and was not going to start that
obnoxious game now, especially as there was every
prospect of some good fighting in front of us, which
was not to be sneezed at even with the drawback
of having to share the diversion with cowardly
Natal Kafirs. I therefore thankfully accepted
the good luck the gods had sent me and cussed not
the concurrent misfortunes, for is not this the hard-
and-fast custom of Lost Legionaries when about
to engage in the gentle pastime of war? As we
were to take over our Christy Minstrels at Enton-
geneni we drew horses from the Remount Depart-
ment and proceeded there as rapidly as possible,
the niggers being brought in and handed over to
us the day following our arrival by the resident
magistrates, who gave us as many instructions re
the treatment of the sable beauties as a fussy old
lady gives a new maid as to the handling of her pet
lap-dogs. We were allowed no time to train or
organize our savages as next day we started for

Surg. Maj. Callender. Paymaster Ettling. Maj. Hamilton-Browne and family.

D.F.H. CAMP AT SPEITFONTEIN 1 890.

SO LONG! 305

the Black Umvolosi, which in due time we reached
and crossed, and together with a squadron of Innis-
killing Dragoons and the Royal Scots took post, in
two parties, on a ridge some ten miles from the
Ouasa Bush in which Dinizulu and his hostile
Usutas had their stronghold. The General and
his staff joined up during the afternoon and camped
with the Dragoons some 200 yards from where the
Royal Scots, with whom I was, bivouacked. At
dark I posted parties of my natives on outlying
picket, but these heroes fled back into camp about
9 p.m., declaring the Usutu had come down to attack
them. Every preparation was made to resist an
attack, and having doubts as to the truth of my
natives’ report I volunteered to leave the camp
on a scouting expedition which I did alone, not
wanting to be hampered by a white companion
who being a new chum would naturally know
nothing about scouting and I placed no confidence
whatever in the Natal Kafirs. Well, out I went
alone, charmed at getting a chance of again playing
the old game I loved so well and, for a wonder,
found that the pickets had told the truth as I quickly
discovered the bivouac to be threatened on two
sides by several bodies of the Usutu, who however
made no attack but simply contented themselves
with jeering at us from a safe distance. Next day
Captain R. Baden Powell, who was on the staff,
was sent to locate a rebel kraal, his escort consisting
of mine and Thompson’s battalions of natives and
a squadron of Dragoons. We reached the place,
but found all the fighting men had cleared out,
which so emboldened my cowardly beauties that
they murdered two wretched old men before I

306 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

could stop them. As we returned to camp in two
parties by different routes my gang flushed a big
mob of cattle the herds of which were driving them
as fast as they could towards the Quasa Bush,
which plainly showed that they belonged to the
enemy and were therefore fair loot. This being
the case, accompanied by some of my men I went
in pursuit and after a smart gallop headed them.
The herds, all of whom were armed, bolted and my
men coming up we captured the cattle and drove
them into camp where I took care the whole outfit,
both white and black, were liberally supplied with
fresh meat, a godsend to Tommies most of whom
had lived on iron rations for months. A few days
after the above capture some assvogels (vultures),
I mean civil authorities, appeared on the scene,
who declared the cattle belonged to friendly natives
and that I had followed and captured them over
the border of the New Republic. Whereupon I
was ordered to render my reasons in writing for
committing the heinous crime of crossing the
boundaries of a neutral state with armed men.
The reasons I gave were as follows : First, that it
was a recognised law in case you started a fox in
your own country you could follow him into your
neighbour’s where, provided you did not dig him
out of an earth, you had a perfect right to hunt
and kill him. Secondly, that I did not know
where the frontier line of the tinpot New Republic
was, and moreover was quite sure that on this
point no one else was better informed than I.
These reasons I sent in to H.Q. and as I heard no
more about the matter I presume they were con-
sidered quite satisfactory. I was, however, ordered

SO LONG! 307

to hand over the balance of my capture to the civil
magistrates, which I did without regret as all the
fattest and best beasts had been reduced to sir-
loins and beefsteaks and the residue were either
cows or poor animals not fit to be butchered.

A few days afterwards we made the advance to
attack the bush, Thompson and myself being
ordered to make a night’s march so as to reach
the place at daylight, which we did, but the final
movement was delayed until the arrival of the
General, who did not put in an appearance till
noon and it was past 2 p.m. before he and his staff
had finished their lunch when we were ordered
to advance. In the meanwhile Dinizulu, deeming
discretion to be the better part of valour, deserted
the bush, and retired into the New Republic, where
he surrendered himself to the Boer filibusters,
who unfortunately did not kill him, but handed
him over to the British to whom he has been a
cursed nuisance ever since. The following day I
discovered a strong party of the enemy down in a
deep valley and received orders to attack them,
when just as I was gleefully moving off to do so,
the General received a dispatch from the Governor
of Natal. What its contents were I don’t know,
but it so disgusted the old gentleman that he im-
mediately gave orders for the Field Force to abandon
the district, so instead of having a nice little fight
I was directed to march my men back to Etchowe
and disband them. Nothing eventful occurred
during our retrograde movement, and after re-
maining a few days in Etchowe, Colonel Carrington
and the rest of our party returned to Durban,
myself utterly disgusted at having no fun after

308 A LOST LEGIONARY IN SOUTH AFRICA

travelling so far in search of it, but then what can
you hope for if you go soldiering when a Pro-Boer,
Pro-Nigger, Anti-British Government is in power.
Two days after reaching Durban the General with
/s staff arrived and Colonel Carrington with my-
self accompanied them to Cape Town, where I,
bidding them farewell, returned to Kimberley.
There I resumed my duties as Adjutant of the
Diamond Field Horse, with whom I served till
March 1891, when I was sent up in command of
the De Beers Company’s Expedition to Mashona-
land. However, I must leave the account of my
long journey, the privations of the early settlers
and the shameful treatment they received from
the hands of the British South African Company
to another book, when perchance I may be able to
open the eyes of the British public to the acts of
some of the men whom at present they regard as
little Imperialistic tin gods; anyhow this yarn is
finished and it is the earnest hope of an old Lost
Legionary that those of you who have been good
enough to wade through it won’t be overbored with
its prosiness.

So Long!

THE END

COLSTONS LIMITED, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH

_____________________________

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