“The Mounted Police of Natal.” (1913)

Holt, H.P.: The Mounted Police of Natal (1913)


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I AM asked to write an introduction to this work
telling something of the very early days of the Natal
Mounted Police, and I have much pleasure in doing
so, for it is the history of a corps which I raised and
commanded for nearly thirty years, and which is now
losing its identity as the Natal Police by becoming
absorbed in the South African Constabulary under
the South African Union Government.

I have practically been connected with the corps
from ” start to finish,” for since my retirement in
1903 I have kept up a correspondence with many of
the officers, and have taken a great interest in the
changes which have since taken place in the corps I
commanded so long and loved so well.

I sold out of Her Majesty’s Service in 1869, and
went out to Natal with the intention of settling
there, not with any idea of taking up a semi-military
life again, but as a farmer. However, after I had
purchased a farm, stock, etc., and lived upon it for a
couple of years or more, my wife, who had just re-
turned from a trip to England, at the end of 1873,
refused to return to the farm, saying the life was too
lonely and that I must try something else.

I didn’t quite know what else to try ! But the
Government of Natal, after their experience of the
Langalibalele Rebellion, were about to raise a mounted
police force, so I put in an application offering to
raise the force for them, not anticipating that I
should be given the appointment, but telling my wife


of my application and adding that if it failed she
would have to go back to the farm.

To my surprise, about a week after I had sent
in the application, the Governor of the colony, Sir
Benjamin Pine, rode out one afternoon to the house
where I was living and told me he had selected
me, from the list of applicants, to raise the mounted
police. I replied that I was very much obliged to
him for his confidence in me and that I would do my
best to deserve it, but that I might tell him at the
same time that I knew nothing about police work.

” You probably know as much as any of the other
applicants,” he said, ” and should at all events
know something about discipline, having been in Her
Majesty’s Service.”

I then asked his permission to proceed to the Cape
Colony to learn something of police work, for they had
had a mounted police force there for some few years
called the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police.
The Governor kindly gave his consent to my going,
so I went to the headquarters of the F.A.M.P. at
King William’s Town and stayed there a week or two,
learning all I could of the organization of the force
from its then commander, Colonel Bowker. I then
returned to Natal and presented my report to the
Governor, and started almost immediately to raise the
force which was called the Natal Mounted Police at
first, but was afterwards called the Natal Police,
in 1894, when the whole of the police forces of the
colony were organized into one body.

I wanted to send home for men, but this the
Government would not sanction, so I had to start
recruiting from amongst the flotsam and jetsam of
the colony, and a very rough lot they proved to be,
being principally old soldiers and sailors, transport
riders, and social failures from home, etc. They were,
however, a very fine, hardy lot of men, ready to go


anywhere and do anything, and very willing and
cheerful if a little troublesome in town ; but in the
country, away from temptation, they were excellent
men, who grumbled occasionally, of course, but were
more inclined to laugh at and make light of discom-
fort and hardship.

Three officers were appointed to assist me, viz.,
Mr. G. Mansel (now Colonel Mansel, C.M.G., who later
raised and commanded the Zululand Native Police),
Mr. F. Campbell (a relative of the Speaker of the
Legislative Council), and Mr. F. Phillips (son of Judge
Phillips of the Supreme Court of the colony). Later
on I got the Government to consent to all promotions
in the corps being made through the ranks, in order
to avoid any undue political influence being brought
to bear in the appointment of officers ; I also wanted
to induce a good class of men to enlist in the force by
the prospect of promotion, and I achieved my object,
for after a few years about a third of the men were
gentlemen. Some of them were University men, and
there were boys from nearly every public school in

The constitution of the force was, at first, 50
Europeans and 150 natives, but when I proposed to
arm the natives, as well as the Europeans, there was
an outcry at once, and the numbers were practically
transposed. Some few years afterwards the strength
of the force continually fluctuated, being increased
when times were good and cut down when the
treasury was getting low, so I described the police,
in one of my reports, as the financial barometer of
the colony, and was taken to task by the Governor
for using such a simile.

I was assisted in the training of the men by a
first-rate sergeant-major Stean who had been a
colour-sergeant in the Cape Mounted Rifles, and was
the very best man I could possibly have got to lick


a rough lot into shape, for he was strict and at the
same time good-tempered. Although he used to shout
at the men in a deep bass voice, and turn them out
before daylight in the morning to clean barracks and
groom their horses, preparatory to riding-school, in
which he delighted, he was much liked by them, and
they used to speak of him familiarly behind his back
as ” Puffy.” Some years later, when he became ad-
jutant, he was spoilt, for he never had his heart in his
work as he had when sergeant-major, and missed
not being able to shout at the men and take them out
to riding-school, where his language was free and
his vocabulary often very quaint.

One morning I was looking on from a little distance
at the squad undergoing instruction, and out of the
ken of the sergeant-major, who had not noticed me,
when I saw him suddenly draw his sword and make
a dash for a man who promptly tried to gallop off.
He soon overtook him, however, and flourishing his
sword over the man’s head said : ” By God, I’ll cut

your head off ! ” The poor terrified recruit was

clinging to the pommel of his saddle like a monkey,
with his forage-cap at the back of his head and his
chin-strap under his nose, saying, ” Please, sir ! Oh,
sir ! ” and after a particularly vicious flourish of the
sword, ” Don’t, sir! ”

I was very much amused, and some of the men in
the squad laughed loudly. That took the sergeant-
major back angrily, but, perceiving me, he came up

and saluted, saying : ” That fellow ” pointing

to the still shaking recruit ” wouldn’t keep his
horse in the ranks, sir, so I was just giving him a
little lesson.”

I could repeat many similar stories of him, but
have said enough to show what the sergeant-major
was like and what his methods of instruction were.

At first we were encamped beyond Fort Napier,


the military barracks at the upper end of the town,
which was a very inconvenient spot, and I repeatedly
asked to be allowed to move into some permanent
building where we should have more shelter and better
convenience, but was always put off by one excuse
or another, so, finding a vacant house at the very
top of the town, next to Government House, which had
been an hotel, I believe, and where there was some
stabling, I took it upon my own responsibility, and
we continued to occupy it for the following sixteen
or seventeen years, though it was rather a tumble-
down old place, and very insanitary. I was both
paymaster and quartermaster myself for some time,
and had great difficulty in getting an advance from
Government for the purchase of horses, saddlery,
uniforms, etc., for the men had to pay for everything
out of their consolidated pay of 53. 6d. a day; but
by dint of hammering away and flooding the treasury
with vouchers for payment of these things, to be
recovered afterwards from the men, I was at last
given an advance for which I was made responsible,
and upon which I continued to work for nearly thirty

The clothing was at first the same as that worn
by the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police, viz.,
brown corduroy jacket and breeches, black leather
boots coming nearly to the knee and buckled down the
side, and a leather peaked cap with a white cover.
It was a stinking uniform, however, which caused
the men to be nicknamed ” The Snuffs,” but anything
in the shape of uniform was hard to get in the colony
at that time. Afterwards, as more suitable uniform
was obtained, the men began to put on a little ” side ”
when walking out, and the then Governor said to me
one day : ” Your men swagger too much. We don’t
want swashbucklers.” To that I replied : “If you
knew the difficulty I have had to make them forget


the name of ‘ Snuffs ‘ and instil a little swagger into
them, you wouldn’t wish to see it reduced.”

A little later on another Governor said, with
reference to his orderly at Government House :
” I wish you wouldn’t send a prince in disguise as
my orderly, for he looks so spick and span that I am
almost ashamed of my own get-up whenever I pass

The following year, 1875, the Government said
they could not afford a Commandant of volunteers
as well as a Commandant of police, and that I would
have to do the double work and they would allow
me an extra 100 a year for it. I remonstrated,
but it was no use. They gave Major Giles, the then
Commandant of volunteers, who had been adjutant of
his regiment; the I4th Light Dragoons (now Hussars),
and served in Sir Hugh Rose’s force with me during
the Mutiny, a magistracy ; and I was appointed.

I have exceeded the limits of a preface, I think,
so will conclude with the hope that the old force of
Natal Police will be as successful and distinguished
in their new role of South African Constabulary.


(Maj or-General) .
ist March 1913.


THE Natal Police have a fighting record second to
that of no similar body of men in the world, and on
two occasions they have had the distinguished honour
of covering the retreat of British troops. The first
was during the retirement of Lord Chelmsford’s
force from Isandhlwana to Rorke’s Drift, on the
23rd January 1879. And the second was after the
disaster at Laing’s Nek in the Boer War of 1 88 1 , when
the column under General Colley retired to Mount
Prospect on the 28th January. The corps has had
its ups and downs, but it is to-day the best organized
police force in South Africa. In a little while all the
various police bodies in the Union will be merged into
one, but though the Natal Police will cease to exist
under that name the men will remain at their various
stations. Though certain modifications are to be made
in the regulations, the force will continue to work
substantially as it does to-day. Few men have a
more exciting life than those in the corps, for their work
takes them to remote, semi-civilized stations, where
life is not as sacred as it is in Piccadilly ; but they are
modest and retiring, nearly always regarding thrilling
adventures that are over in the light of a jest. Hard as
nails with constant exercise and fresh air, they are
good soldiers and clever policemen, and they dis-
charge their duties just as conscientiously when
posted in the far north or remote west of Zululand as
they do at headquarters.

My thanks are due to General Sir John Dartnell,



who founded the corps in 1874, and remained its
centre prop for many years, for his assistance in
tracing the early history of the force. I also have to
express thanks to Colonel W. J. Clarke, the present
Chief Commissioner, for the valuable aid he gave me,
and his kindness in personally conducting me to
remote out-stations which I visited in both Natal and
Zululand. But for his wonderful diary, which he
has kept faithfully since he joined the corps as a
trooper in 1878, I should have had great difficulty in
tracing the movements of the corps. I must also
acknowledge with thanks the permission given by
Sub-Inspector Esmonde-White to reproduce some of
the photographs which he took during the rebellion
of 1906 ; and finally I have much pleasure in expressing
my appreciation of the kindness of my many friends
in the force who aided me in every possible way in
delving into the past, so enabling me to compile this
book, which I hope has at least the merit of being
historically accurate.



ist March 1913.





III. THE EARLY DAYS . . . . -33


VI. A CAPTIVE KING . . . . .83





XI. THE LAST BOER WAR . . . .134

XII. BESIEGED . . . . . 149




XVII. THE REBELLION OF 1906 . . . -183

XVIII. AFTER BAMBATA . . . . . . 199



XXI. HEADQUARTERS . . . . .221




XXIII. THE C.I.D. . . . . .251

XXIV. WITCHCRAFT . . . . .276





XXX. MANY UNIFORMS . . . . 353

APPENDIX . . . . 357

INDEX . . . . .361




LANGALIBALELE . . . . . .10

ISANDHLWANA HlLL . . . . .42


JANUARY 1879 . . . . .68









REBELLION OF 1906 . . . . .186






REBELLION OF 1906 . . . . .190




THE REBELLION OF 1906 …. 202

CAKIJANI, THE REBEL . . . . .216




NDHLOVU . . . . . . .216


RECRUITS AT DRILL . . . . .224







FIGHT . . . . . .232








THE WATER POLICE . . . . -342







FOR more than half a century prior to the formation
of the Natal Mounted Police human life was sacrificed
in South Africa as though it were of no account.
Intertribal warfare was continuous, and but little is
known, or ever will be known, of some of the appal-
ling carnivals of bloodshed which were the fruits of
fanaticism and savagery.

An era of comparative peacefulness in Natal
ended about the year 1812, when the first of two
great Zulu chieftains began to train his men for
battle systematically. They had fought as untutored
savages until Dingiswayo, a natural leader of fighters,
took his tribe, the Umtetwas, in hand. It was perhaps
by sheer luck that Dingiswayo ever stumbled upon
the art of organizing troops properly. Having grown
weary of seeing his father, Jobe, reign, he had a little
consultation with his brother, and the two sons de-
cided to expedite matters by attending their father’s
funeral. But Jobe was astute as he was decisive
in acting. The old man gathered a small force in
the dead of night, intent on wiping out this dangerous
section of his family. In accordance with the usual
custom on such occasions a number of people were
killed, including Dingiswayo ‘s brother, but the future


leader of the Zulus crawled away with an assegai in
his back. Probably he too would have perished
but for the bravery of his sister, who tracked him
in the bush, took the terrible weapon out of his back,
nursed him for a while, and then sent him on life’s
road rejoicing.

Dingiswayo became a wanderer, being uncertain
of his reception if he returned home ; and it was
assumed that he was dead. He went to the far west
of Africa, mixed with the tribes near the boundaries of
the civilized settlements at the Cape, and there quietly
studied the white man’s methods of making war. It
was there that the Umtetwa outlaw gained the know-
ledge which ultimately led to bloodshed involving the
death of countless thousands of men. When the days
of Jobe were ended, Dingiswayo returned in state on a
white charger to the home of his ancestors, killed
the chief who had become temporary ruler, to save
further dispute, and established himself at the head of
the Umtetwas. Like his father, Dingiswayo lost no
time in acting once he had formed his plans. Nature
had endowed him with the brains of a great chief,
and chance had enabled him to learn how to deal
with his forces. Without delay, he began to emulate
the white chiefs by organizing his men into regiments,
and appointing officers of various rank. Many
officers were dispatched to the outlying districts
the first Zulu recruiting sergeants in order to make
certain that every man was enrolled. It was typical
of Dingiswayo that he did not let obstinacy amongst
the men stand in his way. Those who did not care
to join were merely killed, as indeed were those who
were suspected of not desiring to join. So thorough
was the chief that he even organized the girls into
regiments .

Drills were instituted, and in a little while this
notable son of Jobe found himself at the head of an


army so powerful that all the neighbouring tribes
were at his mercy. Fortunately for them, Dingiswayo
was not cruel, as they would have understood the
word, but he could not withstand the temptation
to test his power. Instant success attended all his
preliminary battles, and he reduced the lesser tribes
to a state of subjection, fighting more with the
idea of showing his own superiority than with the
lust for blood. He never allowed the women and
children to be killed, but he demanded substantial
toll from those whom he vanquished. His method
consisted of attacking a tribe in order to acquire
their stores of grain, to feed his men. When the
corn was exhausted he would move on to fresh terri-
tory, with similar designs, leaving the conquered as
his acknowledged vassals.

At this time there was a youth named Chaka, 1
who had an unfortunate domestic difference on the
subject of bloodshed, which was the turning-point in
his career. He was the son of Senzangakona, chief
of a tribe conquered by Dingiswayo, and his habits
of violence became so objectionable that he had to
flee for his life. Chaka was a genius in his way, a
genius with such a hideous capacity for brutality that
the civilized mind reels at the memory of his doings.
He enlisted with Dingiswayo, and at a very early
stage showed that he was no ordinary warrior. His
gallant conduct in the field soon earned distinction for
him, and he began to study the fighting methods of
his chief very closely. While Dingiswayo was opposed
to ‘ unnecessary cruelty, Chaka was ruthless, and he
saw a weakness in his chief’s forbearance. Although
the Umtetwas were victorious wherever they went,
they left the vanquished tribes free to join together
and form an invincible foe ; so he decided that when
his chance came he would adopt the policy of smashing
1 Otherwise spelt Tshaka.


the power of beaten tribes to such an extent that they
would never be able to rise against him subsequently.

Chaka ‘s opportunity came with the death of his
father, Senzangakona. The diplomatic Dingiswayo,
convinced that the forceful Chaka would make a
better friend than an enemy, placed him at the head
of the weaker tribe ; and this arrangement worked
excellently, the young chief fighting in many cam-
paigns side by side with the man who had taught him
how to fight systematically. The very possibility
which Chaka had foreseen ended in the undoing of
Dingiswayo. Some of the smaller tribes combined
and made a frantic raid, and the old chief fell amongst
the victims. Chaka, true to his genius, rose to the
occasion, and by sheer generalship beat off the enemy
with such judgment and skill that he was accepted as
joint ruler over the Umtetwas and his own kinsmen.

Once he was in supreme command he set to work
carrying out his own ideas, and establishing the
unquestionable supremacy of the Zulus. From that
moment onwards he appears to have had an un-
quenchable thirst for blood which amounted to a
mania. His first act was to mobilize his entire army
and fall upon his neighbours. As the other tribes
were vanquished he murdered their women, children
and old men, and absorbed the young men into his
own force. Tribe after tribe he attacked in this way,
each victory adding to his own power enormously ;
and all the time he continued to develop his own ideas
of the correct way to conduct warfare. Instant death
was the penalty for every warrior who returned from
battle without his assegai or shield, or with a stab
in the back, and any regiment under his command
which fared ill in battle was wiped out, lest the same
thing should occur again, and as a warning to others.
Driven thus by fear of death, the Zulus became an
implacable power, scattering destruction southwards


from Delagoa Bay to the banks of St. John’s River.
The hosts under Chaka gave no quarter, and a vast
area in the course of a few years became desolated.
The scattered tribes in Natal were crushed so com-
pletely that terror prevented them from existing to-
gether in numbers, and thousands were reduced to living
in the kloofs and subsisting on roots. Starvation
caused hundreds of deaths, and to escape this miser-
able end batches of men would occasionally make
their way as far as the Tugela River in the hope that
they would be permitted to join the terrible band of
Chaka. It was a desperate measure to adopt, for the
unfit were at once slain, only the capable men being
allowed to join the force.

Probably the most appalling butchery ever organ-
ized and carried out by Chaka was when his mother
died. The scene was witnessed by Mr. H. F. Fynn.
Chaka was, in his way, very fond of the woman who
bore him, and tears rained down his cheeks for a
quarter of an hour after he was told of her death.
He stood still, unable to speak all that time ; and
then the brutality in him asserted itself, and his
feelings became ungovernable. Knowing what to
expect with their chief in a particularly dangerous
mood, his people instantly tore every ornament from
their bodies and flung them to the ground, at the
same time beginning to howl and yell dismally. The
screams reached the ears of natives in the kraals
all over the district, and a great stream of Zulus came
running to the side of the chief, each man doing his
best to howl. By dawn there were fully 60,000 men
there, all wailing. Scores of oxen were sacrificed,
but Chaka ordered that nobody was to eat or drink ;
and gradually hundreds sank to the ground exhausted.
These Chaka killed off first, adding to them all the
people who were not howling loud enough to suit his


During the morning Chaka worked the multitude
up into a perfect frenzy, and a general slaughter
began, 7000 victims being killed before the middle of
the afternoon.

Still nobody was allowed to eat or drink, and the
melancholy wailing was kept up until ten o’clock on
the following morning by those who valued their lives.

On the third day following the death of Chaka ‘s
mother a hole was dug near the spot where she ex-
pired, and ten women were buried alive with her, the
earth being thrown on the top of them until they
were suffocated.

When Mr. Fynn visited the great Zulu king he
found him sitting under a tree decorating himself.
Round him were about a couple of hundred of his
subjects, a servant standing at his side holding a
shield as a sunshade for the monarch.

Round his forehead Chaka wore a turban of otter
skin, and in it a crane’s feather, quite two feet long,
standing straight up. Ear-rings of dried sugar-cane,
carved round the edge, and an inch in diameter, were
let into the lobes of his ears, which had been cut to
admit them. From shoulder to shoulder he wore
bunches of the skins of monkeys and genets, which
hung half-way down his body. Round his head were
a dozen bunches of red feathers, tied to thorns which
were stuck in the hair. On his arms he wore white
ox-tails, cut down the middle to allow the fur to en-
circle his arms.

He had a petticoat, somewhat resembling a
Scottish plaid, tied round his waist. This garment
was made of skins, with small tassels hanging round
the top ; and there were white ox-tails about his legs
and dangling round his ankles.

The great Zulu chief’s power was at its height in
1824, when a little party of Britishers landed at the
place now known as Durban, pitched a camp, and


endeavoured to negotiate with Chaka for permission
to settle and trade there. Some of the scattered
tribesmen started to collect round the British camp
in search of food, and these natives formed the
nucleus of the repopulation of Natal by the native
tribes. Chaka refused to grant the Englishmen an
interview, although presents were sent to him by the
Cape Government. These negotiations were still in
progress when Chaka ‘s extraordinary career came to
an abrupt end. His brother Dingaan, tired of waiting
for authority, assassinated him while he was talking
to some of his headmen near the Umvoti River.
Full of treachery, Dingaan sent for the British settlers,
but they refused to go, whereupon the new chief sent
an army down to exterminate them. Having been
warned, the settlers left hurriedly for the south, taking
with them their natives. There was some fighting,
but the Englishmen got across the Umzimkulu River,
and from that position concluded their negotiations
with Dingaan, who, in 1831, appointed Mr. Fynn as
” The Great Chief of Natal Kafirs.”

Not long after this, some of the Dutch inhabitants
of the Cape set out to explore Natal, and finding that
Dingaan had already made certain terms with the
Englishmen established there, endeavoured to per-
suade the chief to give them facilities for settling.
Dingaan politely made pleasing promises, stipulating
only that the Boers should recover for him certain
cattle which had been stolen. The Boers pluckily
attacked the thief, recovered 700 head of cattle and
60 horses, and took them to Dingaan who rewarded
them by killing every man of the party. The chief,
not content with this act of treachery, sent an impi
to kill every white man in Natal. One party of Dutch
immigrants was exterminated, but the rest of the Boers
collected, formed fortifications with their wagons, and
successfully withstood the attack of an enormous force


of Zulus. The Boers lost about 700 lives in the
massacres. Having added fresh immigrants to their
ranks, the Dutchmen, burning for revenge, persuaded
the English settlers to join in a punitive expedition,
and this led to terrible bloodshed. The English, who
had about a thousand armed native followers, crossed
the Tugela River near the coast and walked into an
ambuscade ; and the entire party were killed . The
Dutch, taking a different route, advanced on Dingaan,
but were also trapped; and very few of them escaped.
Finally the victorious Zulus swept down the coast
again, killing and destroying every thing they could find,
but fortunately some of the settlers escaped on a ship.

Shortly afterwards the Boers again returned to
Durban in larger numbers and beat off a fresh attack
very successfully. Andries Pretorius, with 460
trained men and a few stragglers, attacked the Zulus
near the Umhlatoos, the enemy being about 12,000
strong. In spite of the enormous difference in the two
forces, the Zulus could not overcome the gallant
little band, and Pretorius, at the exactly correct
moment, made a master-stroke by sending a couple
of hundred mounted men to attack the natives’
flank. Utterly taken by surprise, the Zulus fell into
a panic and bolted, leaving 3000 dead warriors
behind. The Dutch settlers then laid out the towns
of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the latter place
consisting of six houses in 1839.

In still another direction ill-luck awaited Dingaan.
He had a younger brother whose nature was entirely
unlike that of his own. This youth, Umpanda, was
a lover of peace, and a number of Zulus who had
grown weary of constant battle became his adherents.
He got into communication with the English and
Dutch settlers, their forces were joined in 1840, and
5000 men attacked Dingaan, whose army fled,
Dingaan himself being assassinated while seeking


shelter amongst some tribes which he had beaten at
an earlier date. Umpanda was then proclaimed
chief, and the Dutch took possession of a large tract
of land which did not become the British colony of
Natal until the Boers surrendered to a force sent out
by the Cape Government. From that time onwards
the population of Natal began to increase rapidly,
the white settlers numbering over 17,000 in 1874
the year the Natal Mounted Police came into being.

Umpanda, meanwhile, continued his peaceful
rule for thirty- two years, and gradually developed
such a huge figure that when he desired to move
from one place to another the front wheels of a wagon
had to be removed and the royal body was slid into
the vehicle. Umpanda ‘s troubles, like those of
many another South African chief, began when his
sons were growing up. His first-born, Cetewayo, was
hot-headed and restless ; and he soon had a following
of kindred spirits. In the year 1856 another of his
sons, Umbulazi, gathered round him a considerable
force, and a memorable battle was fought near the
Tugela River between the armies of the rival sons,
Cetewayo ‘s men forming the attacking body. Hun-
dreds of Umbulazi ‘s army fell at the point of the
assegai, and a great many more were drowned in
attempting to cross the flooded river. Incidentally
Umbulazi and five of Umpanda ‘s other sons were
killed in the battle. Gradually Cetewayo gained in-
fluence, and in 1873 ne was formally pronounced ruler
in place of his too-massive parent when that worthy
was gathered to his fathers. The ceremony was per-
formed by an expedition sent by the Natal Government,
and Cetewayo was given clearly to understand that
he would find himself in trouble unless he exercised
prudence, moderation, and justice in his authority.

A series of events was occurring at this time which
demanded very serious attention. Firearms possessed


a powerful fascination for the kafirs, and in order to
prevent the natives from arming themselves an Act
was passecf making it illegal for any one to possess
a gun that was not stamped and registered at a
magistrate’s office. The natives working on diamond
fields found that if they refused their labour unless
they were paid with guns some unscrupulous em-
ployers would supply them with firearms. The news
of this quickly spread amongst the kafirs, and numbers
of them left Natal for the Vaal River, where they
worked for a gun and then returned to Natal. One
tribe in particular, the Amahlubi, led by a chief
named Langalibalele, was known to be conspicuous
in this movement, and the difficulties experienced in
checking it during the year 1873 led to the formation
of the Natal Mounted Police.

Langalibalele was called upon to appear before
the resident magistrate, and subsequently before the
Secretary for Native Affairs, but he ignored the
messages and insulted the messengers. The Amah-
lubi at that time, after various movements, were
settled near the sources of the Bushman’s River,
close under the Drakensberg. Land had been given
to them there on condition that they gave protection
against the thefts made by small colonies of bush-
men who lurked in the caves of the mountains and
were troublesome on occasions. Langalibalele was a
somewhat haughty chief who was believed by the
kafirs to control the weather. On more than one
occasion Cetewayo has asked for his services when
rain was required.

As Langalibalele did not display the slightest
intention of complying with the orders sent to him,
a formidable force, which included 5000 armed
natives, set out to fetch him, but the wily chief was
forewarned, and disappeared with a small party over
the Bushman’s River pass of the Drakensberg,


To face p. 10.


leaving instructions that the cattle were to follow in
charge of the young men. As he had been previously
sending messages to Molapo, a Basuto chief, it was
inferred that his object was to hand the cattle over
to the Basutos for safety. A party of volunteers from
the attacking army hastened to stop the Bushman’s
River pass, and found all the cattle being driven
by armed men. The Amahlubi secreted themselves
behind the rocks and opened a steady fire on the
volunteers, who were compelled to retire after losing
several men. The flight with the cattle was resumed,
the natives rejoining Langalibalele in Basutoland,
where the chief was soon after captured, together with
his five sons, his brother, and three of his head men.

A trial was conducted according to native law,
the charges being high treason and rebellion, and
severe sentences were passed. Although it was held
that Langalibalele had earned the penalty of death
he was banished for life, his property being confis-
cated. One of his sons, for having fired on the re-
presentatives of the Government, was transported for
five years, while six other sons and more than 200
of the tribe were imprisoned with hard labour for
various terms ranging from two to twenty years.

Langalibalele and one of his sons were to have
spent the period of their sentence on Robben Island,
off Cape Town, but a powerful appeal against the
sentence on the chief was made by the Bishop of
Natal, largely on the ground that he was not a
conspirator and had merely been the victim of the
turbulent spirit of his young men who had a harmless
and boyish desire to possess a gun. The appeal
eventually came before the Secretary of State for
the Colonies, and as it was decided that there was
some little doubt on certain matters the deposed
chief was not sent to Robben Island, but was banished
from Natal and placed under police surveillance.



IN its earliest days the existence of the Natal Mounted
Police was so precarious that nobody was absolutely
certain that it actually did, or would, continue to
exist. The Langalibalele Rebellion had clearly
demonstrated the urgent necessity for a semi-military
police force, for the loss of life that took place at the
Bushman’s Pass would probably have been obviated
had the Government had a trained, mobile force ready
to march into the Puniti Location when the first
signs of trouble became visible. It was announced
by the Colonial Treasurer, in the Legislative Council
of Natal, that the Government had decided to organize
a fully equipped and disciplined force in order to
check insubordination in its earliest stages. The
force could never be a police force in the English
sense of the word, as the conditions were, and still
are, so utterly dissimilar to those in a fully civilized
place. In 1873 there were nearly half a million
blacks and fully 30,000 Indians spread over a vast
area of mountainous country, some parts of which
were almost inaccessible.

It was fortunate for the future history of the
force that General (then Major) Dartnell, a fine,
hard soldier and an Indian Mutiny veteran, was
chosen to control its destinies. He was a fighting
man, with real grit, and the determination of a bulldog.

He was leading the comparatively simple life,


farming, near the Umvoti River, after a strenuous
career in the army, when the call came for him to
take charge of the Natal Mounted Police. He had
entered as an ensign in the 86th Regiment in 1855,
became Lieutenant the following year, Captain in
1859, and Brevet Major in 1865. He was appointed
to the 2nd Battalion i6th Regiment in 1859, and
exchanged to the 2;th Regiment three years later,
retiring by sale of commission ten years afterwards.

While with the 86th Regiment he served with the
Central Indian Field Force, under Sir Hugh Rose
(afterwards Lord Strathnairn), during the Indian
Mutiny in 1857-8, and was present at the storm and
capture of Chandaree.

The stern old warrior was always disinclined to
speak of his own achievements, but probably the
most exciting moment in his life was when as a
subaltern and a mere boy he led the only escalade
attack on the fortress of Jhansi, and escaped almost
miraculously with his life.

At the assault on this fortress he was with the
left escalade attack, under Major Stuart, of the 86th
Regiment, consisting of the light companies of the
86th and 25th Bombay Native Infantry, and a few
sappers carrying four escalading ladders.

Upon arrival under the walls, which were 30 feet
high, the Engineers tried to place the ladders in
position, but they were continually thrown down
again and otherwise damaged by big stones and logs
of wood thrown from the walls.

At last one was placed, and up it young Dartnell
at once rushed and dropped from the top of the wall
into a bastion, alighting in the midst of a crowd of
astonished rebels.

These men hacked at him with their tulwars
(native swords), whilst he defended himself as best he
could with his sword for a few moments, but was soon


overpowered and fell to the ground. Lieutenant
Fowler, and other officers following closely after him,
shot some of his assailants, and the rest bolted.
There had been too many of them, and they had
been in each other’s way, otherwise they would un-
doubtedly have killed the brave young subaltern.

He received five wounds, four of them sword
cuts, one of the latter nearly severing his left hand.
The fifth wound was from a bullet from a match-
lock, which luckily struck the plate of his sword-belt.
The latter deflected it and it only grazed his body.

To-day he bears deep scars showing how savage
the attack upon him was. For his gallantry he was
recommended by Major Stuart for the treasured
V.C. The medal was not awarded, but Dartnell was
promoted to an unattached company upon the recom-
mendation of Sir Hugh Rose.

The wounded man was invalided home for six
months, and he left Bombay by the overland route
for England. At the expiration of five months he
applied for an extension of leave, as he heard the
regiment was on the march down to Bombay to
embark for home. The leave was refused, however,
because he had been appointed adjutant, so he
returned again to Bombay, overland, and was there
only three days when he embarked for England with
the headquarters of the regiment, and was four
months on the voyage home.

For his services he received the Mutiny medal, a
Captaincy, and Brevet Majority. In the Bhotan Expe-
dition, in 1865, he served as A.D.C. to Major-General
Sir Henry Tombs, and was present at the capture of
Dewanjeri, for which he received the medal with clasp.

This, then, was the record of the man who was
appointed to make and drill, out of the best material
he could find, an efficient force of semi-military
police ; and in the course of years he found himself


at the head of as fine a body of men as any one could
wish to command. At first he held his new post
in conjunction with that of Commandant of Volun-
teers, receiving 150 a year for the latter work,
this salary including his travelling expenses.

Unfortunately the authorities, after deciding to
establish the new force, and putting an officer at
its head, seemed to think that was all that was
necessary. Even a model Commandant cannot carry
on a corps of mounted regulars without money and
horses, and the authorities paid a painful disregard
to such material points.

At first Major Dartnell was allowed to go to
King William’s Town in Cape Colony and study the
methods of the Frontier Police there, so that he could
model his own corps on somewhat similar lines. The
Frontier Police had then been established many
years, and had done good work. He returned in
about a month, and drew up his scheme for develop-
ing the new force. In the first instance, he had been
authorized to raise a corps of 50 Europeans and 150
natives, and the first man enrolled joined on the
1 2th March 1874.

These were indeed days of strenuous endeavour
for the mutiny veteran. For many years he was his
own paymaster, quartermaster, and adjutant, the
first officers appointed being G. Mansel and F. A.
Campbell as Sub-Inspectors, with W. Stean, late of
the Cape Mounted Rifles, as sergeant-major. Having
established a mounted police force, the Government
would not sanction the purchase of horses for the men
lest the animals should die of horse-sickness ! Few
men other than the iron-willed Major would have
fought on and eventually won in such baffling circum-
stances. He has since stated that the task in front of
him was so heartbreaking that on more than one occa-
sion he was on the point of sending in his resignation.


When the uniform was at last procured, or rather
a section of it, it was hideous, no suitable material
for clothing being obtainable then in the colony.
It consisted of a dark brown corduroy tunic and
breeches, the substance being the same as that which
is used for railway porters’ clothing in out-of-the-way
places in England. The odour of it alone was enough
to spread discontent amongst the thin line of recruits.
To make matters worse, the uniforms were all ready-
made, a ship’s sailmaker being employed as tailor.
His simple method of adjusting the uniform to the
men was to pull it in until it was skin-tight. The
head-dress, also, was a wonderful construction of
leather, with a peak, a white cover falling from the
back. This grotesque uniform resulted in the corps
being dubbed ” The Snuffs ” ; but at a later date it
was changed to a dark grey woollen cord with white
helmet a neat and serviceable uniform.

The Major’s official letter-book, giving copies of
all the forceful missives which he had to send to the
Colonial Secretary during the first year of the corps’
existence, had lain buried away and forgotten until a
few months ago. These communications alone show
the stern fight the Commandant had to keep things
going in any sort of fashion. A fortnight after the
first man had been enlisted at Pietermaritzburg, at
which the ” headquarters ” were stationed, the Major
wrote in somewhat bitter terms to the Colonial Secre-
tary concerning recruits. He had already written
recommending that the European portion of the force
should be raised from 50 to 1 50 or 200 men, and that
an officer should be sent at once to England to enlist
men and to order and send out as soon as possible the
arms, clothing, and appointments required by the
corps, as they could not possibly be obtained in the
colony. Notices had appeared offering candidates for
the force pay at the rate of 53. 6d. per day a wage


which would bring a scornful smile to the face of a
kafir who can put a wagon on the road. An ordinary
mechanic could then earn more than that without the
risk of life involved by being in the corps, and a
steady skilled kafir labourer would have expected as

In his letter to the Colonial Secretary Major
Dartnell added :

” In answer to these notices about twenty men
have applied personally and by letter, but several
were ineligible, so that up to the present time I have
only enlisted twelve men.

” It was, I think, imagined that a sufficient
number of recruits could easily be procured in the
colony, and of a better stamp than could be enlisted
in England, but I doubt if such will be found to be the
case. The men who have applied to me, and who
have now been enlisted, are :

” (i) Young men of respectable families in Eng-
land who have only been in the colony a short time,
have spent the little money they brought out with
them, and are unaccustomed or unable to turn their
hands to any laborious occupation, so join the police
merely for the sake of a temporary living and not with
any desire of remaining in the service.

” (2) Colonial born men who have led an un-
settled life for years, such as transport riding, varied
by occasional working at some trade, but never stick-
ing to anything long.

11 (3) Ex-soldiers and ex-sailors and loafers of
divers sorts. All these are addicted to drink more or
less, but they are the only men who offer themselves,
and I do not think any better class is likely to be pro-
cured in the colony, for the rate of pay offered is too
low, and the chances of promotion are too uncertain
in a small force to induce well-to-do men to join the


1 Unless an influx of men takes place from the
diamond or gold fields I doubt if 50 recruits will be
obtained in the colony within the next six months,
so I still think it advisable that an officer should pro-
ceed to England at once to recruit men there, if the
police force is to be increased ; but if the colony can-
not afford it, or if the Legislative Council will not vote
sufficient funds to support a force of 150 or 200 men,
then the sooner the few already enlisted are dismissed
and the whole scheme knocked on the head, the
better ; for a force of 50 Europeans cannot possibly
do the work expected, i.e. ‘ Patrol the whole colony,
etc. ‘ ; and there is nothing useful in the country
having to pay for an inefficient force.”

The commanding officer further pointed out that
he was quite in the dark also as to what was to be done
with the native section of the force in the matter of
arming and drilling. He continued :

11 I think they should be armed with a rifle of
some sort ; for if they be only armed with assegais,
and another outbreak takes place like the late Lan-
galibalele affair, or they are employed to hunt men out
of broken ground or bush, they will certainly refuse
to go in against men armed with guns, and will then
have to be armed in a hurry with a weapon about
which they know nothing. I do not think there would
be the slightest danger in arming and drilling 100 or
150 natives if they be enlisted for three years or

” I dare say it will be said that I am losing sight
of a police force and wish to establish a defence force
for the colony, but I have no such wish (though the
two must be combined to a certain extent). All I
desire is to see a properly organized and sufficiently
numerous body of police formed so that they can carry
out their proper duties of patrolling the colony,
executing warrants, etc., and also to have sufficient


men in hand to nip any outbreak in the bud, or make
a stand until the volunteers could be called out.

” It seems to me absurd to enlist men unless
I have authority to mount, equip, and render them

At this period the ” barracks ” consisted of a few
tents at the back of Fort Napier, Pietermaritzburg,
and the early recruits were of that peculiar type
known in South Africa as ” hard cases.” The colonial
” hard case ” must be met to be understood. They
were notorious in their way, but were hard workers
and, on pay day, hard drinkers. Hardships they
were never without, according to their own story.
The fashionable drink was ” square face ” taken in
all its neat glory, often with maddening effect. But
though the trooper police of those days were occasion-
ally a little wild, they never brought the corps into
disrepute. They had at their head a strict dis-
ciplinarian who had very distinct ideas on the subject
of his men’s behaviour, and he enforced his ideas in a
very pointed fashion. He had a peculiarly command-
ing personality, and one which instantly gave men a
sense of confidence in him. By some he was spoken
of as a martinet, but everybody loved him in a
soldierly fashion. Old troopers who served under
him long ago, when blood stained the slopes of Africa
red, have told the writer, with a touch of grimness
in their eyes and voice, that had he given the word
they would cheerfully have ” followed him to Hades.”

There was no nonsense, either, about Sergeant-
Major Stean, upon whose shoulders fell the unenvi-
able task of training the wild rankers. He made his
reputation in the Cape Mounted Rifles, and improved
upon it when he discovered the sort of material he
had put before him in Natal to turn into soldiers.
Always popular your ” hard case ” has neither
respect nor obedience for the namby-pamby drill


instructor he is still spoken of as the best man the
corps ever had for putting recruits through their

The sergeant-major was universally known as
1 Puffy.” He was a soldier from the tip of his pith
helmet to the soles of his boots, and he knew to a
nicety exactly when to pour forth a stream of invective
when the drill grew ragged. A man of tireless energy,
he expected his men to keep up to his own pitch,
and his methods of training were severe. No recruit
ever born had such a thick skin that he did not feel
the bitterness of the sting when ” Puffy ” chose to
bestow his choicest expletives on him.

One man who ” went through it ” under ” Puffy ”
at the riding-school in 1879 has put on record an
example of the remarks the sergeant-major used to
let drop while drilling his men. They ran like this :

V Prepare to mount. By numbers One two
there’s a man putting his wrong foot into he’s got
the right one now. Mount. Keep your heels well
down, and your toes turned in. Don’t look at me,
my man ; do as I tell you, not as I do. Heels well
down, Ilberry you look like a ballet girl. Squad !
March. Left hand in a line with your confounded
elbow, Jenkins. Look at him ! Look at him !
You’re the man who told me you’d hunted with the
Oakleighs, are you ? Sit up you look more like a
monkey on a piece of crockery than anything I’ve
ever seen. When I give the word to trot, break into
a gentle trot. Squad ! Trot. Now, idiots ! Let
go those lifebuoys, Ilberry. Look at him hugging
that horse round the neck. That’s a horse, Ilberry,
not a girl. I’ll have you off if you ride like that.
You’re off, are you? Halt. Get up again. That’s
right. You’re a beauty. Get into the ranks.
March. Trot. Sit up in your saddle, Ilberry.
You’re slipping under the horse’s belly he might


hurt you if you stop there. What a crew ! There’s
Jenkins again. Nearly off. Sit up straight in your
saddle, Simpson. It’s ‘ here’s my head and my boots
are coming ‘ with you sit upright, man. I saw you
in the Park on Saturday, on foot, with Ada. You’ll
never be able to take her out for a ride if you don’t
learn to ride better than that. Lord, there’s Ilberry
off again and Jenkins as well Halt ! ”

Then ” Puffy ” really would begin to talk.

He was promoted to the rank of adjutant later,
but that removed him from the sphere in which he
shone, and the later recruits never knew what it was
to hear the biting sarcasm that could fall from his
lips on parade. He spent the last year or two of
his service keeping a letter register, which became a
sort of hobby, and finally he retired to Bristol on

When the Commandant received a brief note from
the Colonial Secretary stating that the purchase of
horses was to be deferred until the sickly season was
over, and therefore stables would not be necessary
” for the present,” he wrote pointing out that the
sickly season was practically over, and continued :

” I applied for a stable because I considered
Maritzburg a more or less unhealthy place for un-
stabled horses at all seasons of the year ; and as the
men have to buy their own horses out of their pay I
think it hardly fair that they should be obliged to run
unnecessary risks. But if stables are not to be
allowed at all it would be better to let me know at
once, and allow me to purchase horses as required,
for unless I am soon allowed to get the horses, teach
the men to ride, and instruct them in mounted drill,
I should never have been told to start recruiting, as it
is only paying men for nothing keeping them three or
four months over drill when it might be done in a much
shorter time.”


A more anomalous position than that then
occupied by the Commandant could not easily be
imagined. It was almost like a comic opera regiment,
though the chief saw little humour in it. Not only
was he without barracks, uniforms, horses, and
stables after the recruits had been signed on, but
he even had no firearms. At the end of March he
wrote :

” The only arms I have been able to get for the
force are six Snider carbines which have been handed
over to me by the Volunteer Department. The same
department has in store about twenty Terry rifles
(which are unserviceable) and a lot of muskets and
short Enfield rifles, none of which will do for the
police force.”

In spite of the miserable conditions that faced
the recruits, and the poor rate of pay, considering
what was expected of them when they did get to
work, fresh arrivals were slowly added to the ranks
of Europeans, the total at the end of April reaching
the noble proportions of twenty-four ; but the Com-
mandant was still having a battle royal with the
Colonial Secretary on the subject of the provision of
horses or stables or both. He stuck to his guns
valiantly, urging first one suggestion and then another
with as little effect as though he had been talking
to the four winds of Heaven.

At the end of April he wrote to the Secretary
for Native Affairs urging him to secure fifty kafirs for
the force, stipulating that they should be young,
active fellows, willing to enlist for three years. Their
pay was to be fifteen shillings a month, and in addition
they were to have their food (mealie meal, and meat
once a week), one suit of clothes a year, and one
blanket and one greatcoat a year. Six non-com-
missioned officers were to be appointed from amongst
these men, namely, three corporals and three sergeants*


who were to be paid at the rate of 175. and 223. a
month each respectively. He pointed out that if
men speaking English or Dutch could be selected that
would be an advantage.

Affairs in Weenen County were still very un-
settled, following on the passage-at-arms with
Langalibalele, and the Commandant, still leaving no
stone unturned to get some sort of equipment for
his men, saw that there would be trouble unless the
district were patrolled, and he was curtly told that
the matter must stand over.

At length a dozen undersized and aged animals
arrived at the ” barracks,” one of them immediately
being pronounced as utterly hopeless. These, it
must be remembered, were to be the unhappy beasts
that had to carry the raw troopers over wild country,
and on their decrepit legs the lives of the soldiers
would depend in case of emergency. The men were
not going out on pleasure, but with the prospect of
having to fight a horde of wild, ruthless kafirs, who
were past-masters in the act of arranging an ambush.
Added to this, the Commandant had the unpleasant
knowledge that the men would have to pay for the
animals out of their wages, but these were the only
horses forthcoming, so he offered to keep them
until the danger of horse-sickness was over, after
which he would take over such of them as could
be used for the police work ; and this course was
adopted. Three of the animals died in the interval.

The first useful work done by the force began on
the 6th of May 1874 when a detachment of sixteen
men left Maritzburg on their sorry steeds to do or
die in the Weenen County. They were under Sub-
Inspector Mansel, who long afterwards became
Commandant of the corps. Excepting their leader
and Private Corbett, all these pioneers have since
died. The recently discovered official record states


that the little band consisted of Corporal Ellis, Lance-
Corporal Jackson, and Privates Babington, Corbett,
Crallan, Johnson, Maddock, Saulez, Smith, Sullivan,
Thompson, Year, White, Faddy, Abbott, and Hughes.

The officer in charge was given careful instructions
not to over-fatigue either men or horses, for both
were green at the work. As the crow flies they
had fifty-five miles to cover before they reached
Estcourt, and all the roads were hilly and winding.
The Commandant was compelled by circumstances to
give the following order to the officer in command :

1 You will make the best arrangements you can
for provisioning the men and horses on the road,
but you must clearly understand and explain to the
troopers that the Government will not bear any portion
of the expenses incurred on this account.”

The men were armed with the antediluvian
muzzle-loading weapon known as the Terry rifle,
but these, it was understood, were to be exchanged,
as soon as they reached Estcourt, for a number of
Westley-Richards carbines which had been served
out some time previously to a small Basuto force
living on the frontier. The superintendent of the
Weenen County was advised by the Commandant,
in view of the men being still imperfectly drilled, to see
that they were not broken up into small parties ” when
they would be under no supervision and soon lose the
few habits of discipline they had already acquired.”

On the arrival of the small force the men were
placed on patrol, five natives accompanying them.
Although the unrest amongst the kafirs continued for
some time, there appears to be no record of any
actual fighting, although that, perhaps, was fortunate,
considering the raw condition of the men and their
inadequate equipment. In June they were stationed
in a vacated house on the farm Ellestby, and were
ordered to patrol along the valley of the Ingesuti up


to the heights of the forest between the Ingesuti
and Table Mountain towards Cathkin Peak, and to
prevent any native from going through the locations
without a pass. The Commandant protested that
this task was too much for sixteen men and five
natives to undertake, but a score or so of Zulus were
added to the force, and the police patrolled the
district named, the object being to prevent any of
Langalibalele’s men returning to Natal and settling
in the location.

To add to the discomforts of the troopers the
weather was terrible. The Drakensberg was per-
petually covered with snow, and the men suffered
very badly from exposure, as there were no tents then.
Those whose duty kept them away from their tem-
porary headquarters had to make the best shelter
they could under a tree and a blanket.

” The men who are at present serving in the
force,” writes Col. W. J. Clarke, who joined in 1878,
and was in close association with many of the pioneers
for years, ” will scarcely realize the discomfort of
veldt life which was experienced in the early days.
Even when I joined, such luxuries as waterproof
sheets, waterproof coats, pack-horses, etc., were un-
known. We received no travelling allowances, had
no kit-bags or kit-boxes, and everything we possessed
in the way of kit had to be carried in saddle-bags
on our horses. Mufti was almost unknown, and I
believe that in a detachment of seventy-one men,
with which I served at Estcourt, we had not one suit
of plain clothes among us. Our boxes were left in
Pietermaritzburg at our own risk, and most of these
were stored at a confectioner’s shop in Church Street.
So opposed to the wearing of mufti was the sergeant-
major that we made all haste to dispose of such
articles of attire as we possessed. For six and a half
years I never wore any dress but uniform.


” In 1874 the patrol tent was carried in two
portions, which buttoned together along the top,
each man carrying half a tent, and a tent pole lashed
to his carbine.

” The first pack-horse purchased for the force
was known by the name of ‘ Cracker/ and he spent
many years of his life at headquarters, being employed
chiefly as a punishment mount for obstinate recruits.
Many of us who rather fancied ourselves as horsemen
were considerably taken down when the sergeant-
major gave us a dose of ‘ circle ‘ at the trot, with
the stirrups crossed, on this horribly rough animal.
We used to take the beast out of the stable at night
and tie him up to a tree in the square in the hope
that he would contract horse-sickness, but he only
thrived on an outdoor life. A man named Haynes
tried to shoot the animal one day at mounted pistol
practice, but missed his mark and was unseated
owing to the animal shying. Any man who gave
his horse a sore back was mounted on ‘ Cracker/ so
it is easy to imagine how we nursed our steeds.

” Perhaps the officers were not aware of all our
difficulties and discomforts. As far as I can judge,
there is no comparison between the conditions of
service then and now.”

Towards the end of May the Commandant at
last secured barracks in Pietermaritzburg for his
growing corps. He was able to rent a house in
Church Street at 5, IDS. a month for them, and
the strength of the force stood at thirty-eight. The
barracks were very primitive. One room was orderly
room and pay office, one room was a Volunteer office,
one a Quartermaster’s store, and one was occupied
by the Commandant. This was the home of the
police for seventeen years.

It was a rough life for the men when they were at
headquarters. Most of them had to sleep in tents in


which there were bed-boards without mattresses.
For years the men all had to do their own fatigues,
and no non-commissioned officer below the rank of
sergeant (in those days they had corporals and lance-
sergeants) was allowed a native servant.

Messing was one huge picnic prepared by very
amateur cooks. No native servant was allowed in
the kitchen, and the mess-room was like a bear-
garden, the food being badly prepared. One of the
oldest members of the corps, recalling this rough-
and-ready way of living, writes :

” At one time we had a system of private messing,
each man, or group of men, being allowed to make
any arrangement about food. The messing was so
bad when I reached Estcourt that I went into a
private mess with a companion. He catered and
I cooked. We clubbed our money on pay day, and
he went down to the village to order supplies, while
I fixed up a paraffin tin as a cooking stove and laid
in a stock of firewood.

” My mess chum was brought back by a picket
with a haversack containing two bottles of beer
my month’s rations and as we could get no credit
we spent the rest of the month living on doves and
mealie meal, the mealies being purchased as ‘ extra
forage ‘ and ground by the cook (myself), who also
had to shoot the doves.

” I borrowed a confiscated rifle from the magis-
trate’s court, took the powder out of my cartridges,
and stalked doves that came to the thorn trees near
the fort. Ammunition was so scarce that I never
fired at anything on the wing. At a later date private
messing was tried at Fort Pine, and proved an utter
failure. For seven months I endured it, and can
safely say that I never had a satisfactory meal during
the whole of that time.”

Further trouble occurred at Estcourt, a kafir


attempting to stab Mr. Mellersh, the resident magis-
trate, and a further force of fifteen police had to
be sent, to mount guard. There was great difficulty
in getting uniforms for them, and they only had an
old Terry rifle each besides six revolvers between
them. These were all the revolvers the Commandant
could procure in the colony. By the end of June
there were forty-five troopers in the force, a number
of men having been dismissed for misconduct. They
were nearly all on patrol in Weenen County, and they
were all perpetually hard up owing to the very
heavy expenses which they had to incur there, and
which they had to defray out of their slender pay.
Hay, for instance, could not be got under 5 a ton.

On the 25th July 1874, it being considered that
there was no immediate danger of unrest amongst
the natives, the bulk of the men at Estcourt were
ordered down to headquarters.

There was a kafir chief named Umgwapuni in
Alfred County who had obstinately refused for two
years to ” move on ” with his wives and followers
when ordered to do so. As soon as the newly raised
force arrived from Estcourt it was sent with Mr.
John Shepstone, Acting-Secretary for Native Affairs,
to deal with the chief. They trekked to the south
via Stoney Hill, reaching Murchison, where Umgwa-
puni was ordered to appear before Mr. Shepstone.
He declined absolutely to have anything to do with
that gentleman, whereupon the police, keenly anxious
for the ” fun.” to start, were sent to persuade him.
Umgwapuni, alarmed by this show of strength, left
his kraal hurriedly, and his removal was effected
without any further difficulty.

The first recorded instances of cattle-stealing
reported to the police occurred during August of
that year, near Pietermaritzburg. Two men chased
one thief to Umvoti and captured him. The second


thief, a Hottentot, was followed to Kokstadt and
caught. Both were imprisoned.

Nothing particularly exciting happened for some
weeks, and an attempt to form a police camp at
Harding then a desolate, out-of-the-world place
proved impossible. Huts were erected there, but
sufficient food for twenty-five men and horses could
not be found, and the detachment was withdrawn to
Piet ermaritzburg .

There is splendid testimony to the fact that
the police did not work in a slipshod way in those
days, for those mud huts have stood the storms and
heat of all these years, and are as sound to-day as
they ever were.

Up to this time there had been a certain amount
of friction between the police and the press. Accusa-
tions had been made from time to time imputing
serious misconduct to the force. A doubtless well-
meaning, but wrongly-informed, missionary did
much to foster the ill-feeling. During the march
into Alfred County the greatest difficulty was ex-
perienced in finding food for the troopers in a country
where at that time stores were unknown. When the
force got south of Umzinto meat could only be ob-
tained from the natives. A large figure was asked
for an ox and the impoverished troopers could not,
and very rightly would not, pay the man’s price.
Without taking the trouble to inquire into the cir-
cumstances the missionary rushed into print as soon
as he heard of the dispute, accusing the troop of
” commandeering supplies.”

An official inquiry followed, and the matter came
before the Legislative Assembly, when the Acting-
Colonial Secretary stated that the charges were un-

1 This perpetual blackening of the characters
of the men,” he said, ” is not only unjust to them


but most injurious to the force in other ways. They
become disheartened and reckless, and serious injury
to the public service is the result. Good men who
would otherwise join are deterred from doing so.
They are nothing but a body of colonists enrolled for
the protection of their fellow-colonists, and I think
it the duty of every one to uphold them in the proper
discharge of their task. Do not let wrong be done
to what is as precious to the members of this force
as to ourselves their good name, their character, and
their honour.”

This apparently went home to the newspapers.
A few days afterwards the Times of Natal contained
an article which spoke in glowing terms of the value
of the force.

In justice to the missionary it should be ex-
plained that after he discovered his errors he apolo-
gized in writing for making misstatements, though
this did not remove the stigma that stuck to the
corps for a long time afterwards. One of his in-
accuracies, scattered broadcast, was to the effect that
in commandeering food the men shot two goats
belonging to natives. They did shoot two goats,
but not until after they had paid for them, and were
told that they would never catch the animals unless
they used their guns.

It was still impossible for the Commandant to
obtain necessary equipment, although he bullied
the authorities politely daily on behalf of his men.
All his heroic efforts were practically ignored, and he
grew weary of righting for the very existence of his
corps without effect ; so at last he carried out a
frequently repeated threat and tendered his resigna-
tion. This occasioned alarm, even amongst the
newspapers which had done most to vilify the corps.
They now said they had always entertained the
highest opinion of his fitness for the important


position he held, and added that it was just because
he was capable and declined to be perpetually hum-
bugged that he had resigned from a position which
he could not hold with credit to himself or benefit
to the colony. Even those who had spoken ill of the
corps were bound at this juncture to admit the
wonderful grit and determination of the man who
had made the force, though only those who were
working with him, such as ” Puffy ” Stean, ever knew
what a fine fight he made against heavy odds .

” Major Dartnell stands out,” said the Natal
Witness, ” as an example worthy of imitation by
many of our officials, but we are afraid it will be a
long time before we see one of them have the manli-
ness to follow a similar course. We hope the day is
not far distant when his services will be secured by a
Government better able to appreciate them.”

Fortunately for the Government, however, the
services of the Commandant were appreciated, and
on a promise being made by the authorities that his
efforts for the improvement of the force under his
control would not be frustrated, he withdrew his

Here is an instance of the curious relations that
existed between the police and public, who had not
at this time grown to appreciate the force properly.
The news reached Sub-Inspector Campbell that a
number of sheep had been stolen from a farmer. He
immediately sent two men to the farm to make
inquiries and recover the animals if possible, but to
their astonishment the man told them it was no good
their trying to discover anything about it from him,
as he would tell them nothing. With this uncivil
reply on his lips the farmer turned his back on the
police officers, whose only course left was to retire
gracefully and wonder what they were paid for.

Prisoners had a playful habit of escaping from


gaol at Pietermaritzburg occasionally, and two men,
one of whom was a soldier, gave the police a stern
chase. On breaking away from the gaol one of them,
a desperate character, stole a revolver, and the pair
lost no time in getting well into the country. It
was several days before the police heard which direc-
tion they had taken, and then Sub-Inspector Mansel,
together with a trooper, rode out on their track.
A long way from headquarters they came to the place
where the men had left the main road, and here the
pursuers were in difficulties for a time. At last they
picked up the convicts’ spoor on a kafir track.
Following this for fifteen miles they came to a lonely
part of the country, and there was danger at every
step, for it was known that the men were armed.
After a long and trying search they came upon the
pair in a swamp. One of them held out a revolver,
but the police were ready with their weapons, and
the convicts were called upon to surrender or be shot.
Seeing that the odds were against them the fugitives
surrendered sulkily and were taken back to Pieter-



THERE being some dread, on the part of the colonists,
at the idea of employing too many armed and dis-
ciplined natives the Hottentots in the old Cape
Mounted Rifles had mutinied in Cape Colony some
years before it was decided to reduce the number of
blacks in the Natal Police from 150 to 50. At the
same time the full strength of the Europeans in the
force was raised to 115. The Defence Committee
had recommended that the Europeans should number
1 50, but on financial grounds this suggestion was not
adopted. Although powers were granted to bring
the strength up to 115, the actual number of men
enrolled did not come to anything like that figure for
a very long time. Suitable members of the corps
could not be got at the price. At the close of 1874
the strength all told was 45, and it only reached 72
by the end of 1875. Even the men who offered their
services and were chosen could not be relied upon to
remain with the force. A few enlisted each month,
but there were constant desertions, and nearly every
month one or two were dismissed for misconduct,
or as being physically unfit. Several members
died or were killed during the first eighteen months
of the force’s history.

Gun-running had at this time become a profitable
pastime, and early in 1875 Sub-Inspector Campbell
with three troopers, had a long chase after a man



who left Greytown with a wagon supposed to contain
firearms. The wagon had gone three days before the
police heard of the affair, but they caught it up near
the Buffalo River. There was some delay, owing to
the difficulty of getting a search-warrant, and when
the police pounced on the wagon it was empty.
Afterwards it was discovered that the man had had
fifty guns in his cart, but while the police were being
detained for the warrant he heard that they were
after him and buried the weapons about half an hour
before the search was made.

In several other instances the police made im-
portant captures of guns and ammunition which
would otherwise have been sold to the natives.

Chasing cattle-raiders and going out on patrol
constituted the chief work of the force at this time,
many exciting days being spent in trekking after the
thieves in wild, semi-civilized districts.

It was admitted in 1876 that the slowly growing
body of Natal Police formed, to all intents and pur-
poses, the finest and most valuable military force
there was in the colony. Hard as nails with constant
drill and no luxury in the way of food, they were
beginning to come up to the standard which their
stern commander had intended they should reach.
The ramifications of the force were spreading also,
for the camp at Harding was reoccupied, and there
were other out-stations at Greytown and Estcourt,
patrols keeping in constant touch with these places.

By August there were 94 men on the books, and
of this number 62 officers, non-commissioned officers,
and troopers were sent off on a general patrol over the
east of the colony, which lasted about two months.
Each man was mounted. No wagons were taken,
as much rough country had to be traversed, and a
dozen pack-ponies formed the only available trans-


Leaving Pietermaritzburg, the men passed over
the Noodsberg to the coast, and then turned south to
Durban, where a halt was made for three days.

In the region of Umzinto there was a chief named
Umkodoya who, three years previously, had settled
without permission, and who took not the slightest
notice of all official messages to the effect that he had
to go. The magistrate, tired of being defied, sent
down to Durban for the services of the patrol. The
men moved to Umzinto. Umkodoya promptly de-
serted his kraals and trekked for dear life when he
saw the police. The detachment occupied the huts
until all the chief’s household goods had been removed
and he had settled down with his tribe on the land
allotted to them.

A week’s drill was put in at Park Rennie, and from
there the men moved down the coast to the Umzim-
kulu River, there being rumours of unrest amongst
the natives in East Griqualand. Their services
were not required, however, and the force marched
up the banks of the river to Middle Ford, and thence
to Pietermaritzburg.

The grand tour had proved useful in several
ways, and from an educational point of view had
been excellent for the men. But the Natal Witness,
which for many years pursued a steady policy of
nagging the police, ridiculed the patrol, said it had
been purely ornamental, and declared it was absurd
to teach policemen to act as a concentrated force.
As a matter of fact, it was of vital importance that
they should learn to act in a body, and so be able to
crush an insurrection at its birth before it had time
even a few days to assume such proportions that
it would have been beyond the power of the slow-
moving regular troops and half-disciplined volunteers
to subdue.

The first police law was published in 1876, and


it was the custom to read portions of this law to
the men on every full-dress parade. Not until
the following year were the regulations issued to the
men in printed form.

When, towards the end of 1876, Sir Theophilus
Shepstone was appointed Special Commissioner to
annex the Transvaal, he applied for an escort of
the Natal Police, and, permission having been given
by the Governor, the following members of the
corps were detailed for this special duty : Sergeant
Abbott ; Corporals Cushing, Faddy, Champ, McQueen ;
Trumpeter Knott ; and Troopers Allison, Barclay,
Bradshaw,Grissair, Jenkins, Holmes, Husband, Mathie,
Myers, McDonald, Owen, Pleydell, Rafter, Scrivener,
Sparks, W. H. Sharp, R. M. Sharp, Ward, and Whit-
well. This force, under the command of Sub-Inspector
Phillips, left Estcourt on i4th December 1876,
and joined the Special Commissioner at Newcastle
a week later.

The Transvaal was in a very unsettled state,
there being strong opposition to the annexation.
When the party reached the Transvaal border a
number of Boers had an interview with the Special
Commissioner. At Standerton, a week later, an
address of welcome was read, and parties of mounted
Boers fired volleys in honour of the occasion, there
being another enthusiastic reception at Heidelberg.

President Burger’s carriage went out to meet the
Special Commissioner as he neared Pretoria ; the
horses were taken out of the vehicle, and the crowd
drew him through the streets. A camp was pitched
in the market square, and the Union Jack was hoisted.
But in spite of these demonstrations of delight, the
general body of Boers were bitterly opposed to the
movement, and Sir Theophilus was perfectly aware
that at any moment the scenes of enthusiasm might
change into scenes of strife. There is no doubt


that there would have been fighting had not the
leaders of those who opposed the movement per-
suaded the men to trust to an appeal to the British
Government. Two deputations were, in fact, sent
to England, but they were unsuccessful.

Throughout the time the police were in Pretoria
a disturbance was hourly expected. While a special
meeting of the Volksraad was being held the police
were confined to camp. Sentries with loaded
arms were posted round the building in which the
Special Commissioner was staying, and the police
camp was removed into the enclosure for greater
security. On the i2th April the proclamation annex-
ing the Transvaal was read, and although everything
passed off quietly the police had to be kept under
arms all day. A week afterwards the Commissioner
was sworn in as Governor. The i3th Regiment was
hurried up from Pietermaritzburg, and on their arrival
the police were released from further duty. They
were played out of Pretoria by the band of the
1 3th Regiment and marched down country, reaching
their barracks three weeks later.

In some quarters the opinion had been expressed
that the little force which accompanied the Special
Commissioner was inadequate, and that Sub-Inspector
Phillips was not sufficiently experienced to take
charge of a detachment for such an important duty.
Before leaving Pretoria Sub-Inspector Phillips re-
ceived the following letter :

2&th May 1877.

” The Administrator of the Government desires me,
on the occasion of your returning to Natal with the
detachment of the Natal Police under your command,
to convey to you the high sense he entertains of the
manner in which you have discharged the duties of


the officer commanding his escort, and his thanks for
the ready cheerfulness with which you have always
complied with his wishes.

” He requests you to express to the non-com-
missioned officers and men of the escort the pleasure
it has given him to observe their orderly and praise-
worthy conduct, which has won for them the good
opinion of the inhabitants.

” They have been engaged on a mission the
results of which will permanently, and, His Excellency
trusts, beneficially affect the history of South Africa ;
and to have been connected with such a mission
will hereafter, he hopes, be a continually increasing
source of gratification to them.”

It is recorded that on the return journey all the
horses stampeded excepting two, and the troopers
had to do part of their trek on foot until they came
upon the animals at Newcastle.

Fresh signs of insubordination were showing in
Pakadi’s location in Weenen County, and for two
months a patrol kept the natives quiet, after which
every available man of the corps was rushed off to
Pretoria, as it was stated that an attack on the Special
Commissioner was contemplated. The attack was
not made, however, and the force returned to head-

The first small station (as distinguished from troop
stations) was opened in 1877 at Karkloof, a corporal
and six men being posted there. It came to a sudden
end not very long afterwards, a grass fire which
swept over the whole district burning it to the ground ;
and the place was not rebuilt.

There was still the utmost difficulty in getting
recruits for the corps in South Africa and, as it was
considerably under strength, thirty men were sent
out from England in 1877 and twenty-five the follow-
ing year.

Some trouble was caused at this time by Smith


Pommer, a Griqua who had the idea that he could
run a rebellion with advantage to himself. Both
the police and the 3rd Buffs were ordered down to
the East Griqualand border in a hurry. The Buffs
left Pietermaritzburg two and a half days before
the police, who were encamped at the Noodsberg
when the call arrived. By making forced marches
they overtook the Buffs on the road near Ixopo.
Smith Pommer was eventually shot on the slopes
on the Ingeli Mountain.

Colonel Clarke, the present Chief Commissioner,
joined the corps before the troops returned from the
East Griqualand border, and his own story of his
arrival at Pietermaritzburg shows that in those days
they were not by any means arm-chair soldiers.

” I cannot remember a more miserable night,”
he writes, ” than the first I spent as a trooper. I
was served out with two blankets, a bed-board and
two trestles, a pannikin, and a combination knife
and fork and spoon. Three of us were put in a bell
tent with no mattress or pillow, and the cold it
was the end of April was intense. Our private
effects had not come from Durban, and did not
arrive for several days, so we had no extra covering.
‘ We had arrived in the city by the omnibus
which ran between Durban and Maritzburg. Our
dinner was handed out to us in a mess-room, lit by
one solitary candle, and the appetising food, served
on the bare table, consisted of tough steak and rice.

” After dinner we strolled down to see what
sort of a place we had struck in our travels, and I
hardly need say that our youthful spirits sank to
zero. Open sluits ran down the sides of the principal
streets, and one or two faint oil-lamps only intensified
the darkness. Every shop was closed, and not a
soul was to be seen in the streets. We sat on the
railings at the corner of Longmarket Street and

40 ‘ PUFFY – ISMS ”

Commercial Road, and cursed our folly in coming
to such a place.

‘ When the bulk of the men returned to head-
quarters, things became somewhat livelier, and the
presence of Sergeant-Major Stean infused some
animation into us. We were always at the riding-
school in the Zwaartkop Valley, near the entrance
to the Botanical Gardens, by dawn, and until 6 p.m.
we could never find a moment’s rest.

” We had military saddles, with a heavy steel
curb bit, a bridoon bit, steel stirrups, brass bosses
on curb bit, crupper and breastplate, white helmets
with spike, chin chain and monogram of brass,
black boots with metal buckle up the sides, and
black cord uniform. All this superfluous kit had to
be kept in a high state of polish, and by the time
we had got through our physical drill, rifle exercises,
goose step and stables, we felt we had earned a night’s

” Riding-school meant a six-months’ course,
for we had riding on numnahs, single and double
ride to go through, and then each man had a turn at
drilling the squad. To make men feel contented
with headquarters, the sergeant-major constantly
held out threats to those who were awkward that
he would send them to an out-station, until we
dreaded the very thought of it.”

The mention of white cotton gloves should bring
a smile to the face of men who were serving in the
corps in its infancy. The greatest offence a man
could commit, according to the view of ” Puffy ”
Stean, was to go out in the town on Saturdays or
Sundays without these gloves. Many men were
sent back to camp under arrest for having committed
the awful crime of being abroad in bare hands. Men
who had passed through the riding-school were
permitted to take their horses out on Saturday, but


it was a sorrowful moment for any man if he was
seen rising in his stirrups at the trot.

At 9.30 p.m. every man had to fall in to answer
his name, and the eagle eye of ” Puffy ” glanced along
the ranks when ” Right turn, dismiss ” was given.
The troopers under him were not angels, and occa-
sionally he would order men to stand fast while
the night parade was being dismissed, in order that
he might put them through their turnings ” by
numbers ” to see whether they were sober or not.



THE saddest day in the history of the Natal Police
occurred in the Zulu War of 1879 ; and yet it was
the day on which the corps acquitted itself with
more glory than ever it has had the opportunity of
doing before or since. That was at the last tragic
stand at Isandhlwana.

The corps has been involved in more fighting
than any other police force in the British Empire,
andjyet even in its records there is no instance of
gallantry that approaches the way in which the men
faced slaughter and fought to the finish under the
shadow of that gloomy hill.

The great struggle of ’79 was threatened for
many months before it actually came about. Cete-
wayo, who had been the king of the Zulus since 1872,
is said to have excelled in dissimulation, fraud, and
cunning, which have been characteristic qualities of
practically every Zulu ruler. His vast army was
well organized, and it became a standing menace to
both Natal and the Transvaal. After a barbarous
murder of women a remonstrance was sent to the
king, whose reply to the Natal Government was
intensely insolent. The beginning of the end came
when the High Commissioner, Sir Bartle Frere, sent an
ultimatum to Cetewayo, couched in very drastic terms.

The surrender of certain Zulu offenders was
asked for, the disbandment of certain Zulu regiments

4 2


was insisted upon, and Cetewayo was informed that
there must be a British Resident. This step was
taken in December 1878, and the warning was uttered
that if the requests were not complied with, forcible
measures would be adopted.

Zulu regiments were moving about on unusual
and special errands, several of them organizing royal
hunts on a great scale in parts of the country where
little game was to be expected and where the obvious
object was to guard their border against attack by
the white men. The hunters were said according
to a report by the High Commissioner to the Imperial
Government to have received orders to follow any
game across the border, which was, according to Zulu
custom, a recognized mode of provoking or declaring

Unusual bodies of armed natives were reported
to be watching all drifts and roads leading to Zulu-
land ; these guards occasionally warned off Natal
natives from entering Zulu territory, accompanying
the warning with the intimation that orders had been
given to kill all Natalians who trespassed across the
border. Zulu subjects went hastily into Natal to
reclaim cattle which they had sent out to graze, and
very alarming rumours of coming trouble increased the
excitement and agitation on both sides of the border.

” The Government has done its best to avoid war
by every means consistent with honour, and now
feels bound to use the power with which it has been
entrusted to secure peace and safety’.” Thus wrote
Sir Bartle Frere at this critical juncture. There are
people to-day who say that the war was an unjust war,
and that Cetewayo was little worse than an injured
innocent ; but the High Commissioner considered it
necessary, in the interests of self-preservation and
self-defence, that an army should enter Zululand.

There was much delight amongst the ranks of


the Natal Police at Estcourt when the welcome news
arrived that, with the exception of the Harding de-
tachment, they were all to be placed under the orders
of the military authorities, and had to go straight to
the Zululand border. Their horses were in a shocking
condition, for there was not a blade of grass within
miles of the camp, and neither mealies nor forage
could be procured excepting at exorbitant rates.
Free forage, however, was sent by the authorities,
and in a few days the animals were fit to trek. The
men from Pietermaritzburg received orders to go to
Helpmakaar, picking up the Greytown troopers en
route, while the Estcourt men, consisting of 2
officers, and 64 non-commissioned officers and men,
were ordered to join the rest of the force via Lady-
smith and Dundee.

The Estcourt detachment had a couple of trans-
port wagons allowed to them on condition that they
provided their own drivers. There were many ad-
ventures with those wagons before the destination was
reached, partly because the oxen were untrained ; and
so were the drivers Corporal Jordan and a trooper.

The main body started off in a cheerful frame of
mind and off-saddled at midday at the Blauw Krantz
River at noon. Night came along, but the wagons did
not, and then came the news that one of them was in
difficulties in the Little Bushman’s River. The men
were getting painfully hungry, so some of them were
sent back in the dark for food, and at midnight they
all went on foot to Moord Spruit, where the wagon was
found capsized in a donga, 1 its unhappy driver being
unable to move it without assistance.

At Colenso there was no bridge over the Tugela

River, and most of the day was spent in the tiresome

task of pulling the wagons through the water. The

oxen managed to cover eighteen miles next day,

1 A hollow, washed out by heavy rain.


reaching Ladysmith late at night. The men had to
bivouac on the market square. The next morning
there was a grand hunt for fresh oxen, which were as
wild as buck. The whole detachment went out on
horseback and the new teams were driven into a
kraal and lassoed.

The drivers found their troubles were only just
beginning when the performance of in-spanning
started . Spirited mules require quite careful handling
before they become a harnessed team, but very fresh
oxen are considerably worse ; and the drivers found
they had many advisers and few helpers. At last the
detachment started, reaching Sunday’s River in the
afternoon, but the wagons were toiling along far be-
hind, and did not catch the men up until after dark,
in pouring rain which made the preparation of any-
thing but a most primitive meal impossible. The
night was a wretched one, but the sun shone the next
morning, and the wagons were hauled across the
water at Sunday’s River Drift. From there the roads
were so heavy that only eight miles were covered that
day ; but, being full of enthusiasm, the men got up
sports at Meran and had a great time. After this
interlude they pushed on in the rain through the black
soil in the thorns of the Washbank Valley. Trans-
port was ever associated with heartbreaking diffi-
culties, and many detachments have had similar
experiences, but the police had a rough time before
they reached Dundee. The rain came down in
torrents, and the oxen wallowed in black, sticky mud.
Time after time they came to a dead stop, the wagons
sunk to the axles. There was very little occasion for
jesting as the men dismounted, sinking up to their
knees in the ooze and pulling and tugging at the un-
ruly team. It was hard work, and there was plenty
of it ; and the only alternatives were to pull or
stop there in the wilderness of slime.


At the foot of the Biggarsberg every package had
to be taken off the vehicles and carried to the top of
the hill. Hungry for they had no food with them
sweating and tired, the men toiled up with the kits,
ammunition, and bales of fodder, and then pulled the
wagons to the summit of the hill.

Disappointment awaited them at Dundee, which
in those days consisted of a solitary store. It had been
expected that rations would be sent there for them by
the authorities, but something had gone wrong, and
there was nothing to eat at the store. One man named
Hifferman went out with his carbine and returned
triumphantly with two geese and a leg of a calf which
he had found dead on the veldt. He tried to make
everybody believe that the calf’s leg was the leg of a
buck that he had shot, but they refused to touch it,
and the detachment of sixty odd men dined more or
less sumptuously off two geese.

Breakfast was naturally out of the question next
morning, when an early start was made. The men
were ravenous by the time they reached Peter’s
farm, and they were served with boiled dumplings
made entirely of flour and water, and so hard that
the memory of them still remains with everybody
who joined in the feast. Partly refreshed, they
hurried on through heavy rain to Helpmakaar, where;
to their joy, they found bell tents had already been
pitched for them by the men from headquarters and
Greytown. The total strength of the police was 1 10.

An unfortunate incident occurred on the following
morning. After being tethered in the cold all night,
120 horses were turned out to graze, without being
knee-haltered. Exercise was just what they wanted,
so the whole lot began to gallop about, and in a few
minutes were out of sight. The task of recovering
the animals was not made any simpler by the fact
that the troopers were on foot, but everybody turned


out, expressing their view of the situation in very
warm language, and during the morning forty of the
truants had been taken back to camp. The rest
had scattered far and wide. A number of men were
selected to scour the country for them, but it was
more than a fortnight before they were all recovered.
As soon as they got their horses the men were put
through special drills in preparation for warfare with
the natives.

The police who were at Helpmakaar have good
reason to remember their Christmas Day. They
had decided to celebrate it with a sort of banquet,
and ordered a wagon-load of all manner of luxuries
from Pietermaritzburg. The wagon got as far as
Keate’s Drift, but the river was in flood, and carried
the vehicle with the Christmas dinner away. Six
oxen were drowned, and Quarter-Master Sergeant
Hobson had a narrow escape of losing his life. A
few of the stores were subsequently saved, but the
remnants of the banquet did not arrive until the
8th January. Such things as plum puddings, sausages;
and jam had not been spoilt in the Mooi River, and
the troopers were thankful to get such luxuries, even
though they were late and had been rather roughly
handled in their adventures.

The ultimatum to Cetewayo expired on the nth
January 1879, and as no communication was received
from him the invasion of Zululand was started.
Four columns were formed, the third being the head-
quarters column. This was the one at Helpmakaar,
to which the police were attached. Commanded
by Colonel Glyn, it was exceptionally strong, con-
sisting of :

132 Royal Artillery, with six 7-pounder guns,

320 Cavalry,
1275 Infantry, and
2566 Native Levies,



Lord Chelmsford,the General Commanding, arrived
at Helpmakaar before the advance was made.
Addressing the police after Church Parade he said
that during the short time they had been under his
command he had every reason to be satisfied with
their conduct and appearance. He added that it
would give him great pleasure to take them with him
into Zululand, where they must expect to meet a
foe outnumbering the British forces by twenty to
one. He spoke of the many hardships they had
in store, with days and nights of constant watching
and some severe fighting. ” But,” he concluded,
” I feel sure you will give a good account of yourselves
and sustain the high reputation which has always
attached to your corps.” That such proved to be
the case is a matter of history.

Some dissatisfaction was caused by Major Dartnell
having been superseded in his command of the police
and volunteers by the appointment of Major Russell,
of the 1 2th Lancers, to the command of the cavalry,
with the local rank of Lieut .-Colonel. Major Dart-
nell’s men expressed their disinclination to cross the
border excepting under their own officer’s command,
and they offered to resign in a body. It was only
upon Major Dartnell’s strong remonstrance that
they agreed to serve under Major Russell, and the
former officer was placed on the General’s Staff as
the only way out of the difficulty. Inspector Mansel
took charge of the police.

At Rorke’s Drift all superfluous stores were dis-
posed of, and the baggage was cut down to the lowest
possible limit, the incessant rains having made the
roads very bad. The task of crossing the Buffalo
was a dangerous and difficult one, the river being
swollen, but the column got over without mishap.
A strong escort of police and volunteers was chosen
to accompany Lord Chelmsford to Itelezi Hill, where


he held a consultation with Colonel Evelyn Wood,
who was in command of another column. The
escort paraded at 2 a.m. and marched to the punt
on the Buffalo, where the men deposited their arms,
haversacks, and belts, it being feared that they might,
if unduly hampered, be carried down the river.
The infantry, who also crossed before dawn, had
to undergo being searched, each man’s haver-
sack and water-bottle being examined, the former
for cigars and the latter for alcohol. A Grey town
man had arrived in camp the previous day with two
wagons laden with liquor, and this had been looted
by the men of the 24th Regiment during the night.
The number of empty bottles left lying about indicated
that a good many of them had taken part in the
affair. The Grey town man was rewarded with a
message from the General that unless he cleared
off at once his wagons would be pitched into the

The infantry crossed first in the punt, to cover
the unarmed advance of the cavalry, and the native
contingent crossed next, doing so hand in hand, some
of them being washed off their feet. Men were
stationed at the point below the drift to help any one
who was swept away, but only one of the police met
with such a mishap, although the water was high
up the saddle flaps and the current rapid. Every-
body had got over safely by 4 a.m. The infantry
and natives were left to guard the drift, and Lord
Chelmsford set off to Itelezi Hill, the police forming
the advance and flank guards. The route lay over
an open, undulating country, but a dense mist over-
hung the ground. The men could only see each
other in a dim way, and two of the police, who were
flank skirmishers, lost touch with the party alto-
gether. They had a trying time, and did not reach
camp again until late at night. During the fore-


noon the fog cleared, and a number of the Frontier
Light Horse, under Colonel Redvers Buller, were
met. After the conference the police formed the
advance-guard for the return journey, and incident-
ally seized a group of Zulu cattle, taking them into
camp. Several kraals were passed, and Lord Chelms-
ford informed the occupants of one that he was
making war against Cetewayo and not against the
people, but if they wished to retain their arms and
cattle they must go into the British lines.

A violent storm knocked many of the tents down
at the camp during the night, and at 3.30 a.m. the
whole force was ordered out to reconnoitre the road.
Part of the force went on to attack the stronghold of
Sirayo, at the head of the Bashee Valley, and the
volunteers and police went to the right to cut off the
retreat of the enemy, who could be seen on the top
of a mountain near a nek over which they had to
pass. The thorn bush was thick, and progress
consequently slow, and the natives had plenty of
time to assemble for an attack. No opposition was
shown at the nek, and the volunteers, who were
ahead, had just passed out of sight round the bend,
when the police were attacked as they were crossing
a deep donga.

At a range of a couple of hundred yards the
Zulus, who were posted under cover of a hill, began
to let off their old blunderbusses with a noise like
the discharge of field-guns. Their aim, like their
firearms, was bad, and before they had time to re-
load, the police had dismounted.

While one-half of them looked after the horses,
the other half advanced in skirmishing order, firing
as they rushed up the steep slope, but the Zulus
retired precipitately with their antique weapons.
At the top of the hill the flying forms of the natives
could be seen, and the police had a few moments’


shooting before the enemy all disappeared. The
Zulus had about ten men killed, one of them being
a son of Sirayo.

In the meantime the infantry had destroyed
Sirayo ‘s kraal in the valley, and captured a large
herd of cattle, which were sold to the butchers at 305.
each and bought back by the contractor at 18 each
to feed the troops. This low price for the captured
cattle was a sore point amongst the men, because
though they made many large hauls some of them
did not get a sovereign as their share at the end of
the campaign.

The country into which the British force had
moved was one in which the hills were pitted with
deep dongas and ravines, where the undergrowth of
prickly cactus, aloe, and euphorbia formed vast
natural defences for the natives. In small bands
the Zulus loved to lie in wait on such ground, but this
method was not employed by the large impis 1 in
the open field, where they relied upon victory by
advancing in a solid body, and by sheer weight of
numbers crushed the enemy by stabbing them at
close quarters, utterly regardless of their own losses.

The road through the Bashee Valley was so
sodden with the rain that a strong force of men had
to be sent to repair it, otherwise the wagons would
never have been able to get through. On the morn-
ing after the attack on Sirayo ‘s kraal the troops
were turned out again at 3.30, and were kept out
on the hills all day watching the country towards
Ulundi, from which direction an attack was regarded
as probable. After a tiring day they returned to
camp to find another patrol was ordered for 3.30 a.m.
On this occasion a reconnaissance was made to the
Isipezi Mountain, passing over the nek of Isandhl-
wana. Wagon tracks were carefully examined and
1 Zulu armies.


the country sketched, for this was to be the column’s
route to the interior of Zululand. About forty
miles were covered this day the i4th January.

Patrols and vedette duties were continuous from
early morning until dark, sometimes in a heavy down-
pour of rain, and a few of the men began to think
that there was very little romance about active
service. There was a good deal of justifiable
grumbling concerning the issue of bully beef in
two-pound tins. One half-section had to carry
the beef and another the biscuits. This worked very
satisfactorily when the men were able to find one
another, but they generally got separated, and there
was many an unhappy mortal on out-post duty who
had to dine off plain biscuits or plain bully beef,
according to his luck. As they left camp long before
the fragrant odour of coffee was in the air, and did
not get back until ” lights out ” had been sounded,
the man who had only had biscuits felt he had fairly
good grounds for complaint.

Taking fifteen days’ supplies on ox wagons,
the column moved on to Isandhlwana on the
20th January. A month’s supplies were left behind at
Rorke’s Drift, where a number of sick and wounded
remained in hospital. The men paraded at 4 a.m.
and the police acted as advance-guard. Some of
them had to scout the country, keeping at least a
mile from the road. They climbed up and down
stony hills for miles, coming out on the plain where
the Isandhlwana church now stands, the troops
being halted on the nek below Isandhlwana Hill.
The police had had a hard task, and were anticipating
rest and food for themselves and their beasts when a
Staff officer rode up and ordered Inspector Mansel
to place out-posts on all the commanding hills on the
east. Colonel Clarke recalls the fact that his troop
was sent to an outlying ridge, and it was left there


until long after dark, when a non-commissioned
officer rode out and explained apologetically to the
ravenous men that they had been forgotten by the
Staff officer. It was then 8 p.m., and they did not
reach camp until an hour later, when dinner (which
consisted of biscuits and bully beef) was over.

At 9.30 ” Fall in for orders ” was sounded, and
the police were informed that they had to parade
at 3 a.m. with the volunteers to reconnoitre in the
direction of Matyana’s stronghold. The news that
Major Dartnell was to be in command was received
with cheers. The police, having only a few hours
in which to rest, did not trouble to find their kits,
and they never saw them again. All but thirty-four
members of the police went off before dawn. They
took no rations, being informed that they would be
back at noon, when a hot meal would be provided
for them. There was many a man wished, sorrow-
fully, afterwards, that he had put something to eat
in his pocket.

They covered a considerable extent of the country
during the morning without getting a glimpse of
the enemy, and after midday met the Native Con-
tingent, under Colonel Lonsdale. The troopers off-
saddled for a while, and then received sudden orders
to move in an easterly direction, away from the
main camp, where small bodies of the enemy had
been reported. On a ridge near the Isipezi Mountain
a few Zulus were seen, whereupon the force dis-
mounted, while Inspector Mansel, with a small
number of police, Sergeant-Major Royston, and a
few of the Carbineers, galloped out to reconnoitre.
It was soon seen that the enemy were there in large
numbers, for they opened out until they covered
the whole ridge, and dashed down the hill in an
attempt to surround Inspector Mansel’s party, who,
however, wheeled back and escaped the impi. A


trooper named Parsons, in attempting to load his
revolver, accidentally discharged the weapon. His
horse shied and he fell off. As a reward he was
sent back to camp in disgrace, the incident causing
a good deal of merriment. Parsons was killed during
the attack on the camp the next day.

The impi returned to the ridge when the recon-
noitring party escaped from them, and Major Dartnell
decided not to make an attack with mounted men
alone, the Native Contingent being reported by
Colonel Lonsdale to be too tired and hungry to be
relied upon. It was afterwards discovered that
the enemy had contemplated rushing down on the
British force, but hesitated to do so because they
thought the Native Contingent, most of whom wore
red coats, were Europeans.

In order not to lose touch with the Zulus, Major
Dartnell decided to bivouac with the police, volun-
teers, and Native Contingent on the ground he had
taken up, and two Staff officers, Major Gosset and
Captain Buller, returned to the main camp to report
the presence of the enemy and ask approval of the
bivouac. In many accounts of the Zulu war it is
stated that he appealed for reinforcements, but this
is incorrect. He had decided to attack the impi
at dawn, adding that a company or two of the
24th Regiment might instil confidence in the Native
Contingent, but whether they came or not the attack
would be made at 6 a.m.

The promised hot dinner having long gone cold,
far away, the men had a cheerless prospect. They
were without blankets, and the night was bitterly
cold. Moreover, there was the ever-constant dread
of a surprise attack. The troopers hitched up their
belts, and bids up to ten shillings were made for a
single biscuit ; but nobody had any to sell. The
horses were linked, one man in each section of fours


being left on guard over them, and the Native Con-
tingent provided outlying pickets.

In several ways it was a night never to be for-
gotten. Captain Davy, adjutant of volunteers, had
gone back to the camp, and it was anxiously hoped
that he would return with some food. He returned
late at night with a very inadequate supply of pro-
visions, which quickly disappeared.

Quietness reigned during the early hours of the
night, but just before the ‘witching hour a shot was
fired by one of the outlying pickets. Instantly
there was terrible confusion. The whole Native
Contingent, consisting of 1600 men, stampeded into
the bivouac, rattling their shields and assegais.
The sudden awakening from sleep, the din, the
hoarse cries of the natives, the knowledge that a
large body of the enemy was in the vicinity, the
difficulty of distinguishing friend from foe in the
darkness, and the confusion that invariably follows
a stampede, would have been sufficient to startle
the best troops in the world. The natives crouched
down near the white men for protection, and for a
time nobody knew what had caused the panic. The
wonder is that many of the native soldiers were
not shot by the white troopers. The discipline of
colonial troops has rarely been put to a more severe
test. The small body of police and volunteers,
miles away from support, fell in quietly and quickly,
and remained perfectly steady.

Some of the natives declared that an impi had
passed close to the bivouac, and was going to make
an attack. The troopers were ordered out to the
brow of the hill to feel for the enemy. Suddenly
shots began to ring out, and bullets whizzed past
the white men. The scared Native Contingent,
blundering again, had opened fire on the troopers,
who were not sorry to get the order to retire. It


was so dark that the force would have been practically
helpless had a large impi rushed down on them,
and the majority of them never expected to see
daylight again; but the Zulus did not come, and
tlie natives were with difficulty driven to their own

A couple of hours afterwards the weary troopers
were awakened by another similar panic, and again
shots were sent flying by the natives, who almost got
beyond control. Their officers and their European
non-commissioned officers were so disgusted that
they spent the rest of the night with the police.

The experience was a striking proof of the un-
reliability of undisciplined native troops in the hour
of danger. It is a wonder that the whole force was
not exterminated, for from what Mehlogazulu, a son
of Sirayo, afterwards told General Wood, it appeared
that the chiefs of the neighbouring impi decided to
postpone such an easy task until they had first
” eaten up ” the main camp.

There were many pale, haggard faces when day-
light broke on the morning of the eventful 22nd
January. The colonial troops were not destined to
fight a battle on their own account, for at 6 a.m.
Lord Chelmsford joined them with Mounted Infantry,
four guns of the Royal Artillery, and six companies of
the 24th Regiment.

The Zulus had retired from the ridge before
dawn, so the British force moved into the valley in
search of the impi. Small parties were seen about
four miles away, and several hours were spent in
chasing them. There was some skirmishing, and about
sixty Zulus, who took refuge in caves and amongst
the boulders on a hill, were surrounded and killed.
The dongas running down from the hills offered a
very serious obstacle to the passage of guns and
ambulances, and greatly retarded the men’s move-


ments, so a halt was called at midday, when a rumour
was circulated that fighting was going on at the
Isandhlwana camp. The firing of heavy guns could
be heard, and the General decided to return with the
Mounted Infantry and volunteers, leaving the police
and men of the 24th Regiment to bivouac with part
of the Native Contingent a prospect which was
not at all appreciated after the experience of the
previous night.

The General had promised to send out rations, and
firewood was being collected from a deserted kraal
when a Staff officer galloped up with instructions that
the whole force had to return to camp instantly.

The disastrous battle of Isandhlwana was in pro-
gress, and a man on a spent horse had come out with
the following thrilling message :

” For God’s sake come, with all your men ; the
camp is surrounded and will be taken unless

Still worse was a report from Colonel Lonsdale.
He had unsuspectingly ridden close to the camp, and
was within a few yards of the tents, when he was fired
at. He then recognized that all the Zulus near were
wearing soldier’s clothing, and that the camp was
entirely in the enemy’s hands. He turned back
quickly and escaped the bullets.

The smoke of the infantry fire had been seen, and
the occasional boom of the 7-pounder field-guns was
heard. Thousands of the enemy could be seen in
the distance, retiring from the camp to the hill which
they had occupied previously. It was late in the
afternoon when Lord Chelmsford briefly addressed
the force under him, prior to the dash back to the
camp, at a spruit l about two miles from the tents.
The situation was as bad as it could be, he said, but

1 Stream.


they must retake the camp. He expressed his con-
fidence in them to avenge the death of their comrades
and uphold the honour of the British flag.

The column gave three cheers, and then advanced
in the deepening gloom upon what appeared to be
a most desperate venture. Ammunition was scarce,
there was no food, the greater part of the men had
marched for two days and had passed a sleepless
night, while over and above these material dis-
advantages there was the depressing knowledge that
the enemy which could annihilate one-half of the force
in the daylight might, favoured by night, with equal
certainty demolish the other half.

Much has been written about the ghastly massacre
at Isandhlwana in which Cetewayo’s overwhelming
army of about 20,000 men killed 689 officers and
men of the Imperial troops and 133 officers and men
of colonial volunteers, Natal Police, and Native Con-
tingents ; and scarcely any one has denied that the
colossal tragedy was due to blundering. It was the
intention of Cetewayo to drive the third column back
to Natal, but he never contemplated an attack on the
22nd January until he found his enemy had split up,
spreading itself over a great area and practically
delivered itself into his hands. The state of the moon
was not propitious, according to Zulu tradition, and
the inevitable sprinkling of medicine before a battle
had not taken place, but when the king saw an
obvious opportunity staring him in the face he made
his attack and won.

The Zulus were not seen from the camp until
9 a.m., when a small number were observed on the
crests of the hills. An hour later Colonel Durnford
arrived from Rorke’s Drift, and went out with a body
of mounted natives. Every one was utterly ignorant
of the fact that such a huge impi was near, and forces
were sent out in several directions. A large body of


Zulus attacked Colonel Durnford, who retired to a
donga, disputing every yard of the way. When
reinforced by twoscore mounted men he made a stand,
every shot appearing to take effect amongst the solid
mass of black some hundreds of yards away.

The natives employed their usual well-organized
method of attack, being formed into a figure roughly
resembling that of a beast, with horns, chest, and loins.
A feint is generally made with one horn while the
other, under cover of a hill, or bush, sweeps round to
encircle the enemy. The vast chest then advances


and crushes the foe. The loins are left a little dis-
tance behind, ready to join in pursuit where necessary.
It was the left horn of Cetewayo’s army that was
held in check by Colonel Durnford. The chest, or
main body, became engaged with the force at the
camp, and the right horn was swinging round the hills
to the rear of Isandhlwana. The Zulus were fast
surrounding the camp, when the Native Contingent
and camp followers fled in all directions, seized by
panic. Steadily, remorselessly, the impi closed in, a
hungry sea of Zulus of overwhelming strength. Then
followed the ghastly butchery. With short stabbing
assegais the naked savages rushed straight on, treading


under foot those in their own ranks who were shot.
Mercy was neither expected nor granted during that
brief scene of slaughter.

Fighting like demons, a party of the 24th men,
the Natal Police, and volunteers rallied round Colonel
Durnford and held their ground gallantly, attacked
on all sides by a shrieking mass of blacks, until their
last cartridge was fired. Then they were stabbed
to death. Twenty-five of the police were amongst the
victims, and of these a score were afterwards found
lying round the body of Colonel Durnford. They
had fallen where they fought, and died fighting.
Practically nothing is known of what happened in
that awful few minutes at the finish, for the Zulus
were not very communicative on the subject for many
years afterwards.

While in prison Mehlogazulu, who had been in
command of one portion of the impi, made the
following statement :

” We were fired on first by the mounted men, who
checked our advance for some little time. The rest of
the Zulu regiments became engaged with the soldiers,
who were in skirmishing order. When we pressed
on, the mounted men retired to a donga, where they
stopped us, and we lost heavily from their fire. As
we could not drive them out we extended our horn
to the bottom of the donga, the lower part crossing
and advancing on to the camp in a semicircle.

” When the mounted men saw this they galloped
out of the donga to the camp. The main body of
the Zulus then closed in. The soldiers were massing
together. All this time the mounted men kept up
a steady fire, and kept going farther into the camp.
The soldiers, when they got together, fired at a fearful
rate, but all of a sudden stopped, divided, and some
started to run. We did not take any notice of those
who ran, thinking that the end of our horn would


catch them, but pressed on to those who re-
mained. They got into and under the wagons and
fired, but we killed them all at that part of the camp.
When we closed in we came on to a mixed party
of mounted men and infantry, who had evidently
been stopped by the horn. They numbered about a
hundred, and made a desperate resistance, some firing
with pistols and others using swords. I repeatedly
heard the command ‘ fire,’ but we proved too many
for them, and killed them all where they stood.

” When all was over I had a look at these men,
and saw an officer with his arm in a sling, and with
a big moustache, surrounded by carbineers, soldiers,
and other men I did not know. We ransacked the
camp and took away everything we could, including
some ammunition which we got out of boxes. ”

Before the living ling finally closed round the
doomed men, a rush was made by those who could
escape in the direction of the Buffalo River. These
were followed by a section of the enemy, who hacked
the fugitives as they ran. Of the 34 members of
the Natal Police who had been left at the camp by
Major Dartnell, only 9 escaped. The bodies of
three were found a couple of hundred yards away,
and one was lying in Fugitives’ Drift.

The members of the force who were killed at
Isandhlwana were : Corporal Lally, Lance-Corporal
Campbell, and Troopers Banger, Berry, Blakeman,
Capps, J. Clarke, Daniells, Dorey, Eason, Fletcher,
Lloyd, McRae, Meares, Niel, Pearse, Parsons; Pollard,
Pleydell, F. Secretan, Siddall, Stimson, Thicke, C.
White, and Winkle.

The men who escaped were : Lance-Corporal Eaton,
Trumpeter Stevens, and Troopers Collier, Doig, Dore-
hill, W. Hayes (died of fever at Helpmakaar), Kin-
cade, Shannon, and Sparks.

So sharp and terrible had been the onslaught that


the police who survived were unable to say much about
the last scenes. They had been sent out with all the
mounted men to hold the main Zulu army in check,
which they did until their ammunition was exhausted.
Messengers galloped back frantically for more cart-
ridges, but did not return, so the whole body retired.
It was then learnt that the messengers had found
the cartridges, tightly screwed up in boxes, and it
was impossible to get at them. The practice of
screwing down the lids was abolished when the news
of this incident reached England.

At the moment the mounted men fell back to
the camp the right horn of the impi appeared on the
nek, closing the road to Rorke’s Drift. Even then,
had the troops been concentrated, and ammunition
available, it is possible that the position might have
been held, but the infantry were split up, and it was
too late to move away.

As the final rush came, Colonel Durnford clearly
saw that death was inevitable for nearly every one.

‘ ‘ Get away as best you can , ” he shouted to the police
and volunteers near, but very few heard or obeyed him.

To escape along the Rorke’s Drift road was
impossible, and those who left could only make a
dash over terribly rocky ground where even horsemen
had the greatest difficulty in avoiding the pursuing
natives. Scarcely a single person on foot reached
the Buffalo River alive. The river was in flood, but
the Zulus pressed hard behind, and there was no
time to look for a ford. Each man dashed into the
stream as he reached it. Trumpeter Stevens, of
the police, was washed off his horse, which swam
across. The trumpeter owed his life to a native
constable, who caught the animal and bravely took
it back, enabling Stevens to cross the river before
the Zulus attacked him.

While the historic tragedy was in progress the


force under Lord Chelmsford was approaching. They
did not get close to the camp until it was dark, and
merely the black outline of the hills could be seen.
Shrapnel shells were sent bursting over the camp,
but not a sign came from the desolate place, and the
force advanced cautiously up the slope. When within
three hundred yards of the nek they opened fire
again, and a detachment was sent to take a kopje
on the south.

Not a Zulu was seen, and the force moved up to
the place where dead men only were encamped.
Stumbling over the bodies of white men and natives
in the darkness, they made their way, awestricken,
to the nek. Every man was knocked up with con-
tinual marching and lack of food, and they lay down;
weary and almost broken-hearted amidst the debris
of the plundered camp and the mangled corpses
of men and horses. It was a night of horror. The
men who lived through it do not care to recall the
memory. Bright fires were seen in the distance,
so the horses were not unsaddled but were ringed,
and stood uneasily all night with the bodies of dead
men lying round them.

” I had charge of thirty of the horses during part
of the night,” writes Colonel Clarke in his diary.
‘ There were the corpses of four men of the 24th
Regiment in the ring, and others under the horses*
legs, which caused the animals to surge to and fro
so that it was almost impossible to control them.
At one time we were on top of the adjoining ring,
which brought curses on my head. I was not sorry
to be relieved.

‘ There were several false alarms, with some
firing. In the middle of the night some one found
a commissariat wagon and called out ‘ Roll up for
biscuits/ but there was no response so far as we were


” The night seemed endless, but at break of dawn
we were able to realize the horrors of our situation.
Mutilated bodies were lying everywhere, some
naked, some only in shirts; and nearly all without
boots. The Zulus had done their plundering very

Most of the fallen men were mutilated, but with
few exceptions the members of the police had been
killed with one or two stabs. Everything in the camp
was broken ; sacks of mealies and oats were ripped
open, tins of bully beef were stabbed, bottles were
broken and tents destroyed. Even the wagons had
been overturned into dongas in the mad carnival of

In the numerous descriptions of the battlefield
very little mention is made of the fact that the police
shared with an equal number of volunteers the
honour of having made the last stand on the nek of
the hill. At the crest where the dead men were
lying thick, a large proportion of them were in the
uniform of the Natal Mounted Police. In a patch
of long grass, near the right flank of the camp, lay
Colonel Durnford’s body, a central figure of a knot
of brave men who had fought it out around their
chief to the bitter end.

Around him lay 14 carbineers and 21 of the
police. Clearly they had rallied round the Colonel
in a last despairing attempt to cover the flank of the
camp, and had stood fast from choice when they
might have essayed to fly for their horses, which were
close by at the picket line.

On the 3Oth June 1879 the Natal Mercury con-
tained the following :

” There is one branch of the army that is now
spreading itself over our frontiers, and over Zulu-
land, to which scant justice has been done in the
records of this campaign. It is a force which, to


us in Natal, ought to, and we believe does, possess
particular interest, for it represents the future army
of Natal, and the contribution of Natal in some
approaching time, to the future army of South
Africa. We refer to the Natal Mounted Police.

” That body occupies a peculiar position. It is
not Imperial in any sense of the term, although
the Government which has created it owns the
supremacy of the Queen. It has played an effective
and very honourable part in an Imperial campaign.
It consists in the main of men recruited in
England, and although there are amongst its ranks
several colonists, its ranks are from time to time
filled up by men who have enrolled themselves at
home. Only the other day over sixty such additions
came to fill up the gap left by the cruel losses at

” We have always felt it both a pleasure and
a duty to uphold the reputation of Major Dartnell’s
force, and we do so the more heartily now because it
has, during the eventful and trying times of the last
six months, earned every right to be regarded with
respect and admiration. That the men played the
part of true soldiers at Isandhlwana, the bodies of
their slain comrades grouped round the last rallying
point sadly testify. The records of the campaign
show that whenever their services have been called
into action they have behaved with gallantry and

” This is no more than we might have expected
of any corps led by Major Dartnell, than whom, we
believe, a more devoted, daring, and yet discreet
leader will not be found in South Africa. The
trumpet of fame has not sounded their praises, but
that is due to circumstances rather than to intention.
Whatever the Natal Mounted Police have had to do
they have done well ; and the fine young fellows



who have come out to join its ranks may take just
pride to themselves in thinking that they belong
to a force that enjoys, in an especial degree, the
appreciation of the community they serve. The
corps must and will be our chief defence force of the
future. What we want in Natal is a mobile, effective
body of men ready on short notice to operate at any
point where insurrectionary tendencies display them-
selves, and such a body we have in the police.”



SHORTLY after dawn on the morning following the
disaster of Isandhlwana, January 23, 1879, Lord
Chelmsford’s force received orders to march, the police
being given the rear-guard. The column had cleared
the spruit below the nek, and the police were moving
after it, when a violent fusillade was started in front
of them. Unable to tell for a few seconds what was
happening, the police ” closed up,” and then they
saw the Native Contingent charging valiantly up a
hill, where they cut to pieces a solitary Zulu who had
had the temerity to open fire on the column. Some
hundreds of shots were fired at him.

Another shock followed a little later. A number
of natives were seen on the left, and an attack was
feared, but orders were passed round to save ammuni-
tion as much as possible, because it was feared the
Zulus had captured the depot at Rorke’s Drift. The
natives came very close to the rear-guard, where the
police were, and shouted, but they did not attack.
It was afterwards found that there had been fighting
at Rorke’s Drift, where a gallant stand was made by
the British force, and these Zulus were the men who
had been repulsed.

The column marched straight on to Rorke’s
Drift. Figures were seen moving about, and as the
hospital had been burnt down it was feared there
had been a fresh disaster. It was impossible to see


whether the men at the depot were Europeans or
natives, but at last one of them sprang on to the wall.
The garrison had held the place. The column under
Lord Chelmsford became so excited that ranks were
broken by men, heedless of commands, and they rushed
up the slopes anyhow to congratulate everybody there.

Some tinned beef and bread were found, and the
column ate the first decent meal they had had for
several days. The police and the rest of the men
were thoroughly knocked up, some of them having
been without food for sixty hours and sixty very
strenuous hours. To the joy of every one, rum was
issued to each man who merely passed with his can.
This was an opportunity far too good to be missed,
for the troopers had almost forgotten what a canteen
looked like, so a number of them changed their
names several times that morning. Blessings were
showered on the lance-corporal who served out the
rum. Perhaps he saw what was happening and
closed one eye to it : at any rate, according to the
list more than 6000 Europeans had returned with
the General. The actual number was nearer 1000.
The deficiency in rum was possibly ” written off.”

The battle at Rorke’s Drift had been a bitter one,
the bodies of the Zulus’ dead round the building
numbering 375. Fatigue parties were employed all
day burying them. Three members of the Natal
Police had taken part in the defence, the total force
there not numbering over fourscore. The police there
were Trooper Hunter, who was killed ; Trooper
Green, who was slightly w r ounded ; and Trooper
Lugg, who afterwards became Lieut .-Colonel and
magistrate at Umsinga.

All three had been left in the hospital when their
comrades moved off to Isandhlwana, but they were
able to take a very active part in the defence. The
Zulus made straight for the hospital, swarming on to



To face p. 68.


the verandah. The soldiers barricaded the doors as
firmly as possible, and then knocked holes in the
walls, from room to room, passing the sick men
through to the adjacent store. Each aperture was
defended by soldiers while this was going on, and one
or two Victoria Crosses were won in this way.

When the last room was reached and nearly all
the invalids had been removed, a dash had to be
made across the open space to the store, a few yards

Here Hunter lost his life. He had almost reached
shelter when a Zulu lunged at him with an assegai.
He was badly wounded, but he had strength to kill
his assailant before he fell. Their bodies were found
close together afterwards.

Some of the sick men had to be left in hospital as
the enemy set fire to the thatched roof and were
crowding round. One invalid was burnt to death;
others were carried by the natives over a ridge, out of
range of bullets, and were dreadfully mutilated.

It is a favourite method of warfare with Zulus to
burn any building they attack. One native raised a
bundle of burning forage to the thatched roof of the
store. Had he set it alight, probably nobody in the
British force would have been left alive, but a bullet
bored its way through his brain while he was in the
act, and the enemy were eventually beaten off under
a hail of lead.

When the column to which the police were at-
tached arrived they found the bodies of natives lying
all round the hospital and store. There were many
wounded Zulus, but none recovered, and several who
tried to escape were shot. One actually got back
across Rorke’s Drift, although dozens of shots were
fired at him, but he was followed by a mounted
infantryman and killed.

Great preparations were made in readiness for


another attack. The defences were strengthened,
the parapets were raised, and four field-guns were
dragged into the laager. Scouts were sent out to
look for signs of the enemy, but they reported that
there were no Zulus anywhere near.

In the evening the police and volunteers were told
off to occupy an old cattle kraal. They threw in a
lot of loose forage to make the place more comfortable,
and for a while had a good rest.

The Native Contingent, which supplied the out-
lying picket, also supplied their usual false alarms.
Shortly after midnight the word was passed round
that an impi was coming on in immense numbers.
The European officers with the out-posts followed up
the report promptly by joining those inside the walls,
and remained there without troubling to verify the
statement. As soon as the natives with the British
force heard the rumour, however, they disappeared
in twos and threes ; and most of them were never
heard of again. But the impi never arrived, and after
a while the men turned in again.

They were called early the following morning, and
one of the police, in searching for part of his kit,
turned over the forage in the kraal. Under it he dis-
covered the body of a dead Zulu. A further examina-
tion showed that one group had slept comfortably on
seven of the enemy’s dead.

At dawn on the 24th January, the sergeant-major
selected a party of twenty of the police to act as escort
to Lord Chelmsford,who was going to Pietermaritzburg
for reinforcements, Major Dartnell accompanying him.
The best horses were picked for the journey, and
there was keen rivalry amongst the men to be in-
cluded in the escort, which, however, had a rough
experience. The animals were exhausted after the
hard work they had done, and an attempt to reach
Ladysmith ended in one horse falling dead, while two


To face p. 70,


others collapsed, and one had to be left on the road.
To make matters worse, when night came the party
missed the road, finally arriving at the post-cart
stable at Modder Spruit, where men and beasts rested
for a few hours. Ladysmith was reached the next
day, and the police remained there awaiting the return
of Major Dartnell, who went on to arrange about
further supplies of clothing and equipment to be
forwarded to Helpmakaar.

Ten men of the police had meanwhile remained at
Rorke’s Drift for patrol duty, and the rest went direct
to Helpmakaar, where most of the survivors from
Isandhlwana were found. One of them, Trooper
Sparks, of the Natal Police, had conveyed the
General’s dispatches to Pietermaritzburg, being
about the first person to arrive there with news of
the disaster.

Amongst the party left at Rorke’s Drift was the
present Chief Commissioner, Colonel Clarke, who recalls
that they had a terribly hard time. Food was not too
plentiful, and they had neither tents, blankets, nor a
change of clothing . Few of them had any eating uten-
sils,whichisnot surprising considering their movements
for several days before, and most of them had to draw
their rations in empty bully beef tins. They had to
” sleep rough,” and carried nearly as much mud as kit
about with them.

Every morning at three o’clock the police were
called out, and while the other troops stood to arms
inside the laager they were sent away into the sur-
rounding country to make certain there was no impi
within five miles before this morning parade was dis-
missed. There was a mealie field through which
they often had to ride in the darkness, always with
the prospect of being assegaied ; and the dongas in
the district were possible death-traps, for it was never
known when the Zulus would return.


Midnight scares were frequent, and whatever the
hour, the police were ordered out ” to feel for the

Two of the colours of the 24th Regiment had been
lost at Isandhlwana, and ten days after the fight the
police accompanied a party which left the laager at
Rorke’s Drift to search for them. They made a
quick ride and no natives were seen, until the famous
hill was reached. There a few Zulu sentinels were
observed standing on the heights. The party hunted
for a couple of hours amongst the bodies of the men
near the place where the guard tent had stood, but no
colours were found, and as the natives on the sur-
rounding hills increased in numbers, Major Black,
who commanded the party, deemed it prudent to
retire. It was decided not to go back by the same
road, as an ambush was feared.

Two troopers of the police had an unpleasant
experience when the return journey was started.
They had been left on the nek with orders to stay
there until Major Black fired a shot from the point
of a hill in the direction of Fugitives’ Drift. The
force disappeared, and the isolated troopers remained
at their post by no means free from danger, until
they realized that they were being left behind. No
sound of a shot reached their ears. They waited for
a time, and at last, deciding to take the bull by the
horns, galloped off to the main party. They after-
wards heard that the Major had been afraid to fire
the promised shot because there were many of the
enemy near, and they might have taken it as the
signal for an attack.

The route taken was the same as that followed
by those who took part in the wild rush from Isan-
dhlwana to the Buffalo River, and everybody had a
very trying experience. The descent from a ridge,
along which they rode, to the water was almost like


riding down a precipice, and as the river was un-
fordable at this point, they had to swim as the
fugitives had done. Once in Natal, they had no
fear of being attacked, and while the bank of the
river was being examined one of the missing colours
was discovered. A messenger was sent on ahead
to announce the good news, and there was a moving
scene when the little party returned with the tattered,
stained colour. The troops turned out and pre-
sented arms, and old soldiers with tears in their eyes
kissed the flag.

The police at Helpmakaar at this time did not
find life a bed of roses. A wagon laager was at
first formed round the hartebeeste sheds in which
the stores were kept. This was converted into an
earthwork, surrounded by a moat, in which stagnant
water gathered, the conditions being most un-
healthy. The troops were shut up there every night,
and marched out an hour after daylight each morn-
ing, the police providing thirty men every day to
scour the surrounding hills.

Clothing was painfully scarce, and blankets were
badly needed by the police, this occasioning great
hardships. When the kits of all the infantry who
had been killed at Isandhlwana were sold by auction
they fetched astonishing prices. The police were
permitted to wear the blue infantry trousers, but
although their own tunics were falling into a sad
state of disrepair, they were not allowed to wear the
red jackets.

So great was the demand for eating utensils that
dust-heaps were dug up in search of empty tins.
These, carefully polished, served many a trooper as
plates for a long time. The unhealthy conditions
soon began to tell on the men. There was no shelter
from the sun during the daytime, and the troopers
were in little better than a sea of mud each night,


rotting oats and mealies in the store adding to the
general unpleasantness. As might have been antici-
pated, fever broke out, carrying off many of the
regulars and half a dozen of the police. These were
Corporal Chaddock, and Troopers Bennett, W. Hayes,
Ingram, Nagle, and H. Smith.

Prior to the arrival of the 4th Regiment from
Pietermaritzburg, one man of each section of fours
had been on sentry at nighttime, and one or two
false alarms occurred. Once a tame baboon, with
a steel chain attached to its neck, escaped from its
box and, climbing on to the iron roof of the store,
made a terrific din, which sounded as though the
Zulus were looting the place. Everybody sprang
up. The horse lines were close to the laager, and
orders had been given that in case of alarm the animals
were to be released by the guard. On the occasion of
the baboon’s antics the horses were unfastened. It
was soon found that the enemy were not making
an attack, but all the horses had disappeared by

There was another false alarm near the laager,
caused by a stray ox. It is stated that one regiment
of infantry fired away 10,000 rounds of ammunition
without doing any damage, even to the ox.

While the men were at this time undergoing
various hardships, the residents of Ladysmith sent
up a wagon-load of useful articles clothes, food, and
luxuries of all kinds for the police and volunteers.
These came as a perfect godsend, and the men
eagerly drew lots for them. It was not until the
middle of February that tents and blankets for
the police arrived from Pietermaritzburg, the road
through the Greytown thorns being practically
closed. Transport riders, even at exorbitant figures,
refused to perform the journey so near to the borders
of Zululand. When the wagons did arrive the tents


were pitched in the daytime, but the poles were
pulled down at nightfall, the men entering the

A nimble-witted lance-corporal of the i3th Regi-
ment made a small fortune by forming a sort of
market near the laager. Natives brought milk,
mealies, and pumpkins for sale. These he retailed
at his own price, while he paid the natives less than
theirs. Milk soon became more plentiful than water,
which was supplied by one spring. There were
1600 men in camp, and as the spring began to run
dry sentries had to be placed near it to see that
water was only drawn for drinking purposes. Men
had to do without washing excepting on the occasion
of the weekly bathing parade, when they all marched
down to the stream. Half of them entered the
water at a time to enjoy all the delights of badly
needed ablutions, while the other half, fully armed,
remained on the bank.

While the police were experiencing the joys of
life at the Helpmakaar camp, an attempt was made
at Pietermaritzburg to secure recruits for the force
by Lieut .-Colonel Mitchell, who had been appointed
Acting Commandant in the absence of Major Dart-
nell. Advertisements were inserted in the local
papers asking for men willing to join for six months
under Natal Police Regulations, pay being offered
at the rate of six shillings a day, with free rations
and forage, uniform and equipment being supplied
by the Government. Either the prospect was not
tempting enough, or the colony had been drained of
men by the raising of so many corps of volunteers, for
there were no suitable applicants.

On the 20th February, Major Dartnell left Help-
makaar with an escort of police, for Ladysmith, the
route taken being via the Waschbank Valley. The
first night was spent at a farm where there was a


garrison of Carbutt’s Horse, otherwise known as
the ” Blind Owls/’ who lived on rum and dampers.
On reaching Ladysmith the following day, the police
were quartered in the commissariat store, where
they had to sleep on wet sacks of mealies. This
made every man in the escort ill, and caused the
death of Trooper Laughnan, who was buried in
Ladysmith. The hotel-keepers were reaping a harvest,
charging 253. a cwt. for forage and 45. 6d. a bottle
for beer. Another night was spent with the hospit-
able ” Blind Owls ” on the return journey. At
Helpmakaar they found a great deal of sickness.
There were no bedsteads, and the patients, most of
them in a raging fever, were lying in tents on a
wagon-cover spread on the ground. Milk became
scarce, and the sick men for a time could only get
rice and arrowroot, without sugar or milk, and an
occasional supply of beef-tea. Brandy and port
wine was doled out sparingly, but these generally
disappeared while the sick men were asleep. Every
trooper in the police at Helpmakaar passed through
the hospital there, and as the fever patients became
convalescent they were removed to Ladysmith.
Some went into the hospital, which stood where
the magistrate’s court now is, and others went into
a separate hospital reserved for police and volunteers.

On the arrival of reinforcements from England,
a company of the 24th Regiment was left to garrison
Helpmakaar, and the police were ordered to join the
column under General Newdigate at Dundee, arriving
there on the i8th April.

As Lord Chelmsford advanced to the relief of
Eshowe, he gave orders for raiding parties to cross
the border into Zululand simultaneously. On the
appointed day the police and volunteers entered
the Bashee Valley, where they burnt several kraals
and destroyed some crops. This did no good what-


ever, and caused resentment and retaliation. The
police escorted Lord Chelmsford to Baiter Spruit at
the end of the month, and then with the volunteers
relieved the infantry at Helpmakaar.

There was great disappointment when the news
came that the police were not to join the column
that was to advance on Ulundi. There Cetewayo’s
great army of over 20,000 warriors was defeated on
the open plain by a force of about 5000 white men.

On relinquishing his command of the cavalry
column, Lieut .-Colonel Russell wrote to Major Dart-

” As the Natal Mounted Police have now passed
from under my command, and I may not come across
them officially again, I wish to thank them all for
the cordial manner in which they have supported
me in every way and on every occasion since the
beginning of the campaign. I most sincerely wish
you all, individually and as a corps, every good
fortune in the future.”

The ranks of the police having been considerably
thinned by sickness and fighting, the arrival of sixty
recruits from England on the ist June was opportune.
Forty more men joined in the colony, and this brought
the corps up to its full strength once more. As
quickly as possible a score of these troopers were
fitted out, drilled, and sent up to Helpmakaar, where
the men were chafing badly under the monotony of
inaction other than routine work.

Prince Louis Napoleon, who joined the head-
quarters Staff of Lord Chelmsford, met his death
a few miles from Nqutu. He was with a small
force when fifty Zulus made a sudden rush The
prince was dismounted, and his horse, which was
sixteen hands high, was always difficult to mount.
On this occasion it became frightened by the sudden
rush, and pranced in such a manner that the prince


had the greatest difficulty in keeping it under con-
trol. The holster partly gave way, and he fell,
being trodden on by the excited animal. He was
now alone, with a dozen natives close upon him, but
he regained his feet and, revolver in hand, faced
the blacks and death. The fight was hopeless, and
the prince died as he had lived, a brave soldier.

After the body was recovered and conveyed to
Pietermaritzburg, the police were ordered to furnish
an escort for it to Durban, the coffin being taken by
road and placed on a warship which took it to England .

The bodies of those who were killed at Isandhl-
wana having lain where they fell for five months, a
force was sent out towards the end of June to perform
the sad task of burial. It was joined at Rorke’s
Drift by sixty of the police under Major Dartnell.

Nature had softened the scene when they arrived ;
the dead were there, but in nearly every case they
were hidden by the grass and corn that had grown
everywhere. It was a heartbreaking task, but all
the bodies of the police were identified and buried,
their names being written in pencil on wood or a
stone near them.

The only victims left untouched were those of the
24th Regiment. These were not moved, at the express
desire of Colonel Glyn and other officers, who hoped
to be able to inter them themselves at a later date.

The officer commanding was anxious, for more
reasons than one, not to prolong the stay on that
grim battlefield, and the return journey was started
at noon. The English horses’ powers of endurance
were severely tested on the journey. Several of
the Lancers’ animals were knocked up on the return
trip. The police not only had had the extra distance
from Helpmakaar to Rorke’s Drift to cover in the
morning, but were kept on vedette duty all day, and
then marched back to Helpmakaar in the evening.


When Sir Garnet Wolseley arrived in the colony
to take command of the troops, he was escorted to
the front by a detachment of police under Sub-
Inspector Phillips. He travelled via Pietermaritz-
burg and Helpmakaar, arriving at Ulundi six days
after the battle. A detachment of the police went
out and found the two /-pounder guns taken by the
natives from the camp at Isandhlwana.

The Zulu king, Cetewayo, had at this time fled,
and immediate steps were taken to secure him. The
police left in search of the king, putting in some
very hard marching without transport and without
rations other than those which each man could carry
for himself. They covered fifty miles on horseback
the first day, and reached the kraal of one of Mpanda’s
wives the second day, learning that Cetewayo had
spent the night there. On the i sth August a number
of the force joined the party under Lord Giiford,
who was also hunting for Cetewayo. He had as
guide a Dutchman named Vijn, who had lived with
Cetewayo during the war.

Sub-Inspector Phillips discovered the king’s pet
herd of cattle in the valley of the Umona River,
and asked permission to take the police with him
and seize them. This was given, and the beasts
were taken into Ulundi, where they had to be dis-
posed of at 503. a head, although the commissariat
officers were paying 15 to 18 each for cattle.
Again the police went out after Cetewayo, and the
party to which they were attached got on to his
trail. They would have had the honour of taking
him, had not a column under Major Marter been a
trifle quicker. By making an early morning move
into the Ngome Forest the Major ran the Zulu king to
earth, and this important capture had the immediate
effect of pacifying the whole country.

A difference of opinion existed from the first as


to the necessity for the Zulu War, and concern-
ing the character of Cetewayo. This became much
more pronounced after the disaster at Isandhlwana.
There was one section of the public in England
who had never even seen a Zulu, but voiced their
incorrect opinions loudly. The leader in South
Africa of the party who denounced the war was
Dr. Colenso, Bishop of Natal. He argued in an
able manner in favour of the blacks, but experience
has shown time after time that the native leader
cannot be dealt with as a white man in the matter
of treaties. It had become absolutely necessary that
Cetewayo should cease to reign, and that the enormous
military power of the nation should be broken.

Writing officially on the subject at the time, Sir
Bartle Frere said :

” Having lived now for many weeks within a
couple of Zulu marches of the Zulu border, amongst
sensible Englishmen, many of them men of great
sagacity, coolness, and determination, and reason-
ably just and upright in all their dealings, who
never went to sleep without their arms within reach,
and were always prepared to take refuge with wives
and families at a minute’s warning within a fortified
post ; having talked to voortrekkers and their
children who had witnessed the massacres at Weenen
and Blauw Krantz, and who could thus testify that
the present peculiarities of Zulu warfare are no recent
innovation, I may be allowed to doubt the possi-
bility of making life within reach of a Zulu impi
permanently tolerable to ordinary Englishmen and

” They make no prisoners, save occasionally
young women and half-grown children. They show
no quarter, and give no chance to the wounded or
disabled, disembowelling them at once.

” The events of the last few months have rendered


it unnecessary to prove by argument that the Zulus
have been made into a great military power ; that
they can destroy an English regiment with artillery
to support it, or shut up or defeat a brigade six times
as strong as the ordinary garrison of Natal unless
our troops are very carefully posted and very well
handled. The open declarations of their king, no
less than the fundamental laws of their organization,
proclaim foreign conquest, and bloodshed a necessity
of their existence.

11 They are practically surrounded by British
territory. Except that of the Portuguese, there is
now no foreign territory they can reach for purposes
of bloodshed without passing through British terri-
tory. They are separated from Natal by a river
easily fordable for the greater part of the year, and
not too wide to talk across at any time.

” I submit that in the interests of the Zulus
themselves we have no right to leave them to their
fate. The present system of Cetewayo is no real
choice of the nation. It is simply a reign of terror,
such as has before now been imposed on some of
the most civilized nations of the world. The people
themselves are everything that could be desired as
the unimproved material of a very fine race. They
seem to have all the capacities for forming a really
happy and civilized community where law, order, and
right shall prevail, instead of the present despotism
of a ruthless savage.

” They might, by living alongside a civilized
community, gradually imbibe civilized ideas and
habits. But for this purpose it is necessary that
their neighbours should be able to live in security,
which, as I have already said, seems to me hopeless
unless the military organization and power of Cete-
wayo be broken down.

” There are the means of improvement which


may follow conquest and the breaking down ol
Cetewayo’s military system ; and this seems to me
the only reasonable mode of doing our duty by these
people. In the cases of Abyssinia and Ashantee
we were compelled by circumstances to retire after
conquest and wash our hands of any further responsi-
bility for the future of those counties, but there is no
necessity in the case of Zululand there is nothing
to prevent our taking up and carrying the burden
of the duty laid upon us to protect and civilize it.”

There are still many people who declare that the
war on Cetewayo was wicked and unjust, but in the
years that have passed since the power of the Zulu
was crushed finally at Ulundi it has been seen by
those who are in a position to judge how much better
off the native now is, and how much more secure
is the white settler. True, there were some severe
tussles in the rebellion of 1906, but the fighting
methods organized by Chaka were practically ended
in 1879, and the Zulu is gradually becoming civilized.
He is by nature exceedingly happy and easy-going ;
and takes kindly enough to British rule. Occasional
unrest prevails amongst an isolated section of the
natives, but it soon blows over, and one can rarely
meet a Zulu who does not welcome the presence of
the white man in his territory.

If you ask a Zulu why he likes the white men to
live amongst them he will smile, roll his brown eyes
almost coquettishly, and say : ” He gives me leekle
bit money.” But this ignoble reason does not stand
alone ; he looks up to the white man, and, in towns
especially, imitates him to a degree which is at times
positively ludicrous. It is an infinite pity that
some of the white men with whom he comes in
contact are not worthy of being imitated by the
despised black, who unfortunately follows an example,
be it good or bad, without much discrimination.



AFTER the capture of Cetewayo the Zulu king was
sent to Port Durnford, under an escort of Natal
Police, where he embarked on a steamer for Cape
Town. He was melancholy and abstracted on the
journey, and even the wonders on the steamer
for this was his first sea trip did not rouse him
greatly from his state of lethargy. He showed a
childish interest in some things on board, and the
machinery inspired him with such awe that he would
not go down into the engine-room. He asked how
many cattle the vessel cost, and when an effort was
made to give him some idea it was quite clear that
he thought he had struck a number of particularly
untruthful people.

He said he knew from the first that the war
would end as it did, and that he himself would be
the sufferer. The battle of Ulundi, he declared, was
fought against his wish, and he blamed his young
men, whom he could not restrain. He knew the
power of his nation was broken, and laughed to
scorn the idea of any more fighting being possible
against British rule.

Cetewayo remained at Cape Town for some con-
siderable time and, before being released, was taken
to England. Finally he was sent back to Zululand,
where he died, though not before he had been in-
volved in more than one serious quarrel with neigh-
bouring chiefs.


Early in August, Inspector Mansel, with thirty-
eight members of the police, left Helpmakaar to
join Colonel Baker Russell’s flying column, which
destroyed the kraal of Manyanyoba, whose people had
taken refuge in some caves. They were dislodged
by dynamite, but not before a sergeant-major and
a private of the infantry were killed. At Hlobane
earlier in the war a number of irregulars had blun-
dered over a precipice at full gallop, when retiring
from the mountain on the day preceding the battle
of Kambula. Their bodies were buried by men
from the column. The force also punished the chief
Sekukuni, in the Transvaal, but the police were
not able to take part in this campaign, as the Natal
Government asked for them to be returned ; so
they marched back to Pietermaritzburg, where
they had a lively time with kit inspections, from
which ordeal they had long been free.

The relatives of a number of deceased members
of the police having put in claims, a Commission was
appointed to deal with the matter, and it was recom-
mended that the widows and families of Troopers
Meares and White should, in each case, be granted
an annuity of 54, or a gratuity of 330. Each
trooper being the actual owner of his kit, and many
of them having lost all their kit during the struggles
of the war, it was decided to compensate the men
for lost articles at the following rates : officers’ kit,
30, spare kit 10, chargers 35 each ; non-com-
missioned officers’ and troopers’ kit 10, and troop
horses 25 each.

The barracks at Pietermaritzburg were so terribly
insanitary that an outbreak of fever occurred at the
close of 1879. There were no men at headquarters,
and a score of them went into hospital, but only
one died.

In the early part of 1880 Sub-Inspector Phillips


took a detachment of the force to Fort Pine, on the
Biggarsberg, eight miles from Dundee, where it had
been decided to establish an out-station. When the
troopers got there the building was not ready, and for
months the men had to live under canvas. This out-
station was occupied for many years, and a very
useless one it was. Many attempts were made to
move the detachment to Dundee, but much opposi-
tion was shown to this project. Sir Charles Mitchell,
a former Governor, held particularly strong views on
the subject, and said that it was highly inadvisable
to station men so close to a canteen. Some of the
troopers in those days were very rough diamonds, but
such precautions as these were unnecessary, and it
often proved awkward to have the men at such in-
accessible places. So little confidence was placed in
the common sense of the men (who undoubtedly
were guilty of little alcoholic indiscretions on such
occasions as pay day now and again) that when a
canteen was opened at headquarters in September
1880 the sale of intoxicants was not allowed there.

It fell to the lot of the Natal Police to escort the
ex-Empress of the French to visit the spot where her
son, the Prince Imperial, fell in Zululand. There was
keen competition amongst the troopers to be chosen,
and three non-commissioned officers and seventeen
men were selected. For days before the arrival of the
Empress there were daily practices in pitching and
striking the tents, which consisted of one large
marquee mess tent, two small marquees for the
Empress, and six bell tents for the staff. After a few
days these could be pitched in ten minutes and struck
in three. This was on the soft ground in Government
House gardens, and the men looked forward to an
easy time. On the hard veldt the same operations
occupied two hours, and half an hour respectively ;
and it was very hard work at that. Whenever the


Empress rode she had an escort of two troopers, and
as others had to be detailed for different duties, the
tents often had to be pitched by a dozen men. The
ground was like granite in places, and as they ran out
of spare tent-pegs the work became increasingly hard.

As the tour was to extend over a period of seven
weeks, in a region where railways were non-existent,
all the food for the men, mules, and horses had to be
carried by road. Wagons were sent on in advance,
dropping supplies at places where the camp would be
pitched, but the convoy which accompanied the
Empress never consisted of less than twenty-five
mule wagons.

On the 29th April 1880, just as the cold weather
began, the expedition left Pietermaritzburg. As
many of the men who took part in the escort have left
the corps, and are scattered all over the globe, it may
be of interest to mention the fact that they consisted
of : Sergeant Faddy (in charge) ; Corporals Burgoyne
and W. J. Clarke; Troopers Berthold, W. Brown,
W. D. Campbell, Cooper, F. Evans, Ford, Green,
Heathcote, Hutton, Lockner, Longfield, H. Penne-
father, Piers, Ravenscroft, Russ, Stevens, and Wilmot

Throughout the trip the police turned out at
dawn and had their tents struck and everything of
their own packed on the wagons by sunrise. Im-
mediately after breakfast the other tents and mar-
quees were packed and taken quickly to the next
camp, which was generally twenty or twenty-five
miles farther on. The tents were pitched there while
the Empress travelled leisurely along the road, either
riding on horseback or being driven by General Sir
Evelyn Wood in a ” spider ” drawn by four horses.

The first day’s trek landed them at Albert Falls,
and the week-end was spent at Sevenoaks. The
troopers were all down at the spruit enjoying a bath
when the ” dress ” was sounded, followed by ” trot,”


so they hurried back to camp to find that General
Wood had ordered a church parade. The General
expressed astonishment that the men were not ready
for it, but they had not expected church parade in
peace time.

The route lay through Greytown, Umsinga,
Helpmakaar, and Dundee, to Landman’s Drift, where
the Zululand border was crossed. At this stage
Sergeant Faddy was taken ill, and it is recorded that
as he was nursed by the Empress’s maids and had
an abundance of luxuries, besides a medical ration
of rum at frequent intervals, his convalescence was
somewhat protracted. A keg of rum, by the way,
caused sorrow. On the Queen’s birthday the General
ordered that the police were to have a liberal ration
of this liquid, but when the men rolled up with their
tins it was found the keg was empty. This was
caused by evaporation, the commissariat officer said.

By way of Blood River, the party went to Kam-
bula, to enable the Empress to visit Utrecht, where
they experienced such violent wind and rain that the
whole camp had to be struck and repitched in a more
suitable place. The skeletons of the Zulus who were
killed in the Kambula fight were still lying about when
the Empress passed the place.

From this point the expedition moved over the
ground where Vryheid now stands, and misfortune
overtook the convoy. The wagons got badly bogged.
The first task that had to be tackled was that of
getting the Empress’s vehicles out of trouble. The
police worked in deep mud all the afternoon, and
after a most unhappy and strenuous time were able
to pitch the camp late in the day at Fort Piet Uys.

Utterly unconscious of what had taken place, the
Empress dined peacefully. The police, however, had
worked themselves to a standstill, being too knocked
up to go back to the bog and fetch their own wagons.


Instead, they bivouacked under the wall of the fort.
It was a cold, frosty, moonlight night, and the
ravenous troopers, longing for the rations stored
away on their own wagons, caught the odour of good
things in the large marquee.

Casually taking a stroll after dinner, the Empress
caught sight of the recumbent figures near the fort,
and asked who the men were. She was greatly
shocked on hearing that they were without food or
blankets, and took them all into her drawing-room
marquee, where they were given food. Then the
Empress thoughtfully turned out spare blankets,
shawls, petticoats, and dresses to put over them ;
and in the early hours of the morning when the night
air grew cutting those troopers blessed the Empress
for her kindness.

There was a French chef with the party, and
at Hlobane the chief, Ohamu, with a thousand men,
came into the camp as a mark of respect. The chef,
glancing out and catching one glimpse of the impi,
murmured a hasty prayer, shouted to the police to
arm, and rushed for his revolver. There was some
difficulty in persuading him that his last day had not

The widow of Captain the Hon. R. Campbell,
Colds tream Guards, had taken from England a very
heavy gravestone, and this was carried up the
mountain by the impi to the place where the officer

Four days later Ityotyosi, where the prince had
been killed, was reached, and a halt was made for
eight days. The Empress visited the mealie garden
where her son was trapped, and as the police were
able to assemble the natives who took part in the
affair she saw exactly how he had been killed. The
native who inflicted the final stab was invited to
pay a visit to Pietermaritzburg and point out the


assegai which he used, but on the night the party
arrived at Robson’s Drift he fled, doubtless fearing
the invitation was a prelude to punishment.

From the camp at Ityotyosi two of the police
were guided by a Zulu to the remains of Captain
Barton of the Grenadier Guards. This officer, when
endeavouring to escape from Hlobane, had been
followed by three natives for a considerable distance,
being overtaken and killed. His fate had remained
unknown until his body was pointed out.

There was one curious circumstance which did
not add to the happiness of the police during the
camp at Ityotyosi. A titled lady was on her way
from Natal to pay a visit to the camp, and very
strict orders were given that she was to be politely
but firmly intercepted when she turned up. Night
and day the troopers were stationed at out-posts
watching for the lady’s approach, and when at last
she did arrive, with two police from the Fort Pine
detachment whom she had persuaded to act as
escort, she was guided to a mission station some
miles away. There she remained until after the camp
was struck.

The return journey was started on the 3rd June,
via Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift, a halt being made
for a day at each of these places. The police visited
Fugitives’ Drift, where a number of the slain were
found and buried.

The shortage of tent-pegs became a nightmare
to Sergeant Faddy towards the close of the trip. The
tent of the Empress always had its full number, but
General Wood expressed his opinion of the situation
freely when he found his own bell tent only had one
peg to each two ropes. The troopers’ tents, mean-
while, were so insecurely fastened down that a good
breeze would have blown the lot away. Any man
who through carelessness broke a peg at that stage


was as likely as not to be hit on the head by his
colleagues with a mallet.

After the journey the Empress sent a gold watch
and chain for the sergeant and ^100 to be shared by
the men who had accompanied her ; and General
Wood wrote the following letter to the Commandant :

” MY DEAR MAJOR, I am anxious to express to
you my great satisfaction with the manner in which
the escort of Her Imperial Majesty performed their
duties. They evinced on every occasion a cheerful
willingness to carry out all my wishes. This spirit
tended greatly to overcome the difficulties insepar-
able from such an expedition, and did much to secure
the comfort of all.”



WHEN the Basuto War broke out in 1880 the colonists
living near the Drakensberg passes feared that they
would be attacked by raiding parties crossing the
border, and to allay this anxiety the police were
called out. Under Sergeant-Major Stean, the head-
quarters detachment left Pietermaritzburg on the
27th July, and two days later camped on the left
bank of the Bushman’s River, where they were
joined by the Estcourt division, under Sub-Inspector
Jackson. A few days afterwards the Greytown
detachment arrived, under Inspector Mansel, and
then came the men from Fort Pine under Sub-
Inspector Phillips ; the whole force being under the
command of Major Dartnell.

On the morning of the loth August the troops
marched to the Blauw Krantz River, and as the
transport wagons got into difficulties they did not
reach camp until after dark, so no tents were pitched.
This was unfortunate, for at midnight rain began to
fall heavily, gradually turning to snow ; and during
the whole of the two days following the men were
made intensely uncomfortable by a bitterly cold wind
which swept off the snowclad berg.

Driving sleet cut into the men’s faces next morn-
ing when a move was made, and to give the troopers
some degree of warmth Major Dartnell ordered
them to walk and lead their horses. After they had



covered about five miles in this way, a halt was called
near Loskop, when it was found that the wagons on
which the all-important cooks and cooking pots
were carried had taken the wrong road, so it was
late in the day before the half-frozen men were able
to get a hot meal, of which they were badly in need.
There was joy in the camp when it was discovered
that one wagon that had followed the men con-
tained a keg of rum, and a ration was issued ” to
keep out the cold.”

That night the severity of the weather necessi-
tated turning the horses loose knee-haltered, instead
of their being picketed. The men had a terribly
miserable time, being wet to the skin, with no hope
of getting dry. The incessant rain turned the
ground into a swamp, and when the march was
resumed they were up to their knees in mud half
the time ; and there was sore trouble also on account
of the wagons sticking fast in every spruit. On the
1 2th August the force crossed the Little Tugela,
where they remained until the 8th October, patrols
covering the Oliver’s Hoek Pass and the Bushman’s
Pass. When the weather improved the troopers had
a much better time at the camp, although the greatest
difficulty was experienced in procuring fodder for
the horses. The men had daily drills, mounted and
dismounted. A simple system of mounted infantry
drill was practised here for the first time, and it was
afterwards adopted for the whole of the colonial
forces, in lieu of the cavalry drill in squadrons, which
was too complex for men only called out for a few
days’ training each year.

A memorable march was started when the camp
broke up. While half the men were left at Estcourt,
the Commandant, with Sub-Inspector Jackson, left
for Ixopo, the detachment consisting of sixty-five
men. After a long spell of fine weather the rain


began to pour down the day the movement started.
It being impossible to take a wagon, several days’
supplies, tents, and other impedimenta were placed
on a dozen pack-horses. The annals of the corps
show that they have had some rough times, but
they have never had such a melancholy trek before
nor since. The rain fell almost without a break from
start to finish. In those days mackintosh coats and
waterproof sheets were unheard-of luxuries. Field
boots had not been adopted, and the troopers were
afraid to take off their wet regulation boots lest they
should not be able to get them on again.

When the march was started a wicked pack-
horse named Mazeppa was told off to carry the kitchen
utensils, and was accordingly loaded up with pots,
pans, camp kettles, and similar articles. This was
done under the personal supervision of a sergeant, who
took infinite trouble to show how a pack-horse should
be loaded with such articles. Mazeppa patiently
submitted to the operation, which, when finished, made
him look very much like a perambulating tinker’s
shop. Trouble began when the party moved off.
Mazeppa resented the indignity of having to carry
pots and kettles. He pranced and danced and
plunged until he had cleared all the things off his
back, and then he was peaceful again. The sight of
the wreck nearly made the cook weep.

It was decided not to use the tents, because the
water would have increased their weight to such an
extent that the pack-ponies could not have carried
them, so the first night the men were glad enough
to get sleeping accommodation in a couple of gaol
cells and a stable at Ulundi.

With their clothing saturated, they resumed the
trek next day, and the second night was spent in a
stable on the Mooi River bank. It was a very be-
draggled and dispirited band when it reached Fort


Nottingham. Even the biscuits were sodden and
much of the bully beef had become uneatable. Hope-
lessly, the men looked round for shelter ; and all
they could find was an old cowshed, open at every
side. There was no chance of finding anything better,
so they turned in there ; and all night the heavy,
driving rain beat pitilessly down on them. Sleep was
out of the question, except in snatches, and even
that was disturbed by a number of pigs that wandered
into the place. They were cursed and kicked and
spurred, but those pigs had made up their minds
not to move away, and they remained amongst the
troopers all night, though kept continually on the

The next day brought the detachment to the
Umgeni River, which proved to be a serious obstacle,
for it was in flood. The fact of going into the water
did not worry the men, excepting those who could not
swim, for they were as wet as ever they could be, but
there were the rations to consider. The men’s luck,
however, was completely out, for in the crossing all
the sugar, tea, coffee, and biscuits were destroyed.

At Boston Mills Mr. C. R. Glynn acted the part
of .the Good Samaritan, providing the troopers and
their animals with ample supplies of food ; and again
on the following day they fell into kindly hands, the
residents at Byrnetown supplying them with rations.
On the way to the Umkomaas the rain fell more
heavily than ever, and the men were never more
pleased in their lives than when they came in sight
of Ixopo. The first night they bivouacked under a
hedge, and afterwards moved to the ground on
which the trees of the Residency now stand.

Considering the state of their things, the troopers
were somewhat appalled, within a few hours of their
arrival, to hear that a kit inspection was ordered.
All their steel bits, steel stirrups, and steel scabbards


were, naturally, in a state of rust ; but the men did
the best they could in the circumstances, and the
inspection was made in a heavy downpour of rain.

Passing through Ixopo, on his way from Harding,
on the following morning, the Governor, General
Sir George Colley, held an inspection of the police.
They marched past in column of troops and did
some skirmishing drill, and the Governor paid them
a high compliment, saying they were a body of men
which would do credit to any colony, and which
any General would feel proud to command.

In the middle of November Major Dartnell’s
detachment was moved in the direction of Dronk
Vlei and the rain began as usual when they left
camp. This time they had the additional worry of
wagons. The troopers were all wet through when
they reached Mabedhlane, and there they heard,
sadly enough, that the wagons were stuck fast, some
distance back. The only thing to do was to go back
and pull the vehicles out. By sundown the weather
had cleared up, and as there was no prospect of meet-
ing any one, the men stripped their wet things off
and marched back along the road naked. They found
the wagons badly bogged, and after they had struggled
for a while to get them out the task had to be
abandoned. The tents, blankets, and food were
taken off and put on to pack-ponies, which carried
them to the camp.

The state of things at Dronk Vlei was no better.
There, on the banks of the Umzimkulu River, the
ground was so swampy that picket pins would not
hold, so the horses had to be turned loose at night.
The water became a sort of nightmare. When the
men dug trenches round the tents they started springs.
All the biscuits went mouldy, and there was no
opportunity of getting fresh supplies.

The next move was to the Upper Umzimkulu, via


Ipolela a wild, unpopulated district in those days.
For six weeks the camp was pitched at Christison’s
Drift, and from there the narrow passes over the
berg were kept under observation by patrols.

The Basutos made one raid into Natal, and the
police executed a hasty night march to intercept
them. A man named Kennedy and some native
scouts had been surprised by the Basutos and
murdered, but the raiders retired quickly on hearing
of the movement of the police, and did not cross the
border again at that time.

Trouble was brewing, meanwhile, with the Boers.
They had never agreed to the annexation of the Trans-
vaal, and now refused to pay taxes. In the November
of 1880 Inspector Mansel and Sub-Inspector Phillips,
with the troops from Estcourt, were rapidly marched
to Newcastle, and were employed for some time
patrolling along the northern border of the colony,
constantly watching the Buffalo River drifts, the
passes of the berg, and the main road over Laing’s
Nek, with strict orders to avoid any open conflict
with the Boers. These instructions resulted in
Sub-Inspector Phillips losing two men. At Laing’s
Nek the Boers took Troopers Taylor and Swain as
prisoners, deprived them of their horses and equip-
ment, and sent them to Heidelberg, where they
remained until the end of that war.

On one occasion the police were turned out towards
midnight and marched to the Ingangane with sealed
orders. There it was found that they were to meet
General Colley at the Biggarsberg and escort him
to Newcastle. In order to avoid capture by the
Boers one troop went on to the Biggarsberg Nek to
await the arrival of the post-cart from which the
General and his Staff descended, their places being
filled by men of the police. The General and his
officers then mounted the spare horses, and rode


in the ranks to Newcastle, being joined at the In-
gangane by the troopers who had been left there.

Another important duty performed by the police
was that of acting as escort to Major Poole, R.A.,
who had been ordered to make a night reconnaissance
to Laing’s Nek. About sixty miles were covered
that night, sufficient time being spent on the hill to
enable the officer to make a sketch in the moonlight.

The Administrator of the Transvaal wrote to
General Colley : ” The Boers are incapable of any
united action, and they are mortal cowards, so any-
t^ng they may do will be but a flash in the pan.”
Right on the top of this followed the disaster to the
94th Regiment at Bronkhurst Spruit, near Pretoria,
when 120 men were killed and wounded and the
remainder taken prisoners. The garrisons in the
Transvaal at Pretoria, Standerton, Marabastadt,
Leydenburg, and Potchefstroom were at once besieged.

To relieve the garrisons in the Transvaal became
the first duty of General Colley, who had a very
small force at his disposal, especially of mounted
men. Including the police these only numbered
1 20, a few of them being volunteers from infantry
regiments who could scarcely ride. There were also
six 7-pounder field-guns, a naval brigade, with
Gatling guns and rocket tubes, a portion of the 3rd
Battalion of the 6oth Rifles, a portion of the 58th
Regiment, and two companies of the 2ist Fusiliers.
The infantry numbered 870 all told. Thus, in the
early stages, prior to the arrival of reinforcements,
the police formed almost the whole of the mounted
troops that the General had to make use of, and he
issued the following instructions :

“The special uses of mounted troops are first
and principally for scouting purposes, to feel the
enemy, and guard the column against surprise.
Considering the small number we have, and the


large number opposed to us, our mounted troops
will have to be most carefully used and nursed.
Ordinarily, one-half will be with the advance-guard
on the march and do the actual scouting, the other
half being with the rear.

” The mounted troops must act as cavalry in
action, supporting and covering the flank of an
infantry attack, charging and pursuing when oppor-
tunity offers, and especially threatening the horses
of the Boers when the latter are dismounted to hold
a position. A Boer is nervously afraid of being left
dismounted ; and a demonstration against the horses,
when these have been left under cover in order to
hold a position, may often result in the position
being abandoned.

” In all encounters between our mounted troops
and Boers it should be remembered that a prolonged
skirmish with firearms is almost sure to end in favour
of the Boers, who are better shots, and train to
mount and dismount rapidly, and shoot from horse-
back. Unless, therefore, the superiority in numbers
on the side of the Boers be so great as to forbid such
a course, the best chance of bringing matters to a
favourable issue will generally be to charge. The
Boers are not good at hand-to-hand fighting, nor
armed for it. It is for this reason I have armed the
mounted men with swords, which against another
enemy I should not have given them.”

With such a small force, it was impossible to
detach men for lines of communication, and all
supplies had to be conveyed by ox-wagon from Pieter-
maritzburg without escort. The besieged garrisons
in the Transvaal were ill-supplied with food, so the
General was compelled to advance without waiting
for reinforcements.

The column left Newcastle on the 24th January
1 88 1, about 1200 strong, the General intending to


relieve Stand erton and wait there for reinforcements.
The force was exceedingly small to attempt the
invasion of the Transvaal, but the General appealed
to the courage, spirit, and discipline of his men to
enable him promptly to retrieve the misfortune at

The police paraded at 3 a.m. on the morning the
advance was started, forming the rear-guard and
supplying skirmishers on either flank. The rear-
guard had a very tedious time, as the large convoy
of wagons delayed the march to such an extent that
only four miles were covered in a dozen hours.

The road to the north at that time passed over
the ridge near Signal Hill, to the east of the present
main road. It was in a very bad state, and the wagons
stuck fast every few yards. On the morning of the
following day the police had to form the advance-
guard. There was something wrong with the com-
missariat arrangements, and this unfortunately led
to the troopers drawing no rations before starting.
They were sent out to scour the country, and found
no signs of the enemy for a distance of six miles in all
directions. At night the camp was pitched at Ingogo
Drift, where information was received that Inspector
Phillips and a patrol had been captured in the direc-
tion of Coetzee’s Drift. A force went off at once,
but the rumour was found to be false. When they
reached Inspector Phillips, he was watching a small
party of Boers on the opposite side of the river.

Before the police were able to obtain their first
meal that day, ” Lights out ” was sounded. Im-
mediately afterwards fresh beef was served out to the
men, but a Staff officer insisted on the fires being
put out. The irregular troops frequently had to
submit to treatment like this, but in the end, on this
occasion, tinned meat and biscuits were served out to
the famished troopers. Although they had been up


since 3 a.m., Major Dartnell, with one troop, was
turned out just before midnight, to go to the double
drift at the Ingogo. It had been feared that the
Boers might attempt to cross at this point under cover
of darkness, and the police spent the rest of the night
there without seeing anything of the enemy.

Very weary, they were put on duty as rear-guard
at 7 a.m. the following day. The wagons were
dragged painfully up the Ingogo Hill, it being several
hours before the top was gained. The force reached
Mount Prospect camp at noon, just as a violent
thunderstorm broke. The rear-guard had a narrow
escape from lightning, a telegraph pole being shat-
tered as they passed it. A laager was formed with
the wagons, the horses being picketed inside. Orders
were given that no man must remove his accoutre-
ments at night, and that the signal of alarm would be
two shots fired in quick succession.

Just before midnight there was a scare. The
outlying pickets came into the laager at the double,
and all the troops stood to arms for half the night.
Nothing alarming happened, however, and it was
afterwards rumoured that a sentry, finding his duty
monotonous, had fired two shots to liven things up.

No movement could be made the next day, the
2ist January, owing to a drizzling rain and thick
mist which covered Laing’s Nek. A score of the
police were warned for special duty. They saddled
up and waited in the rain for five hours. The in-
tention, apparently, was to make a reconnaissance
across the Buffalo to see if there was a possible route
to Laing’s Nek from the Transvaal side ; but eventu-
ally the expedition was abandoned.

The battle of Laing’s Nek was fought early the
following day. Breakfast was eaten at 6 a.m., and
an hour later the troops moved off, the police being
sent as advance-guard. The coming fight was looked


forward to with the keenest interest ; and the
artillery officers, relying on their /-pounder guns,
were betting that they would clear the nek in a
quarter of an hour. This everybody believed, with
the greatest of confidence, would be the case. A
detachment of the 2ist Regiment was left behind to
hold the laager. With the supports to the advance-
guard were four guns of the Royal Artillery. Then
came the Naval Brigade, with rocket tubes, followed
by the 5 8th, and 3rd 6oth Regiments, the mounted
infantry forming the rear-guard. Altogether the
attacking force comprised 870 infantry, 180 mounted
men, six guns, and three rocket tubes.

Very few Boers were seen as the force came near
the nek, and the general belief was that the imposing
British array had had its effect. The police were
kept in reserve, together with the 3rd 6oth Rifles
to guard the left flank, and place vedettes along
the ridge running up to the Majuba.

The attack was made by the mounted infantry
and 58th Regiment, which dashed up the hill un-
checked for some distance. When the artillery
opened fire three or four Boers were observed gallop-
ing over the skyline, and everybody cheered madly,
thinking the enemy were on the run.

The police had even mounted their horses in
readiness for pursuit, and the mounted infantry were
half-way up the hill, when the enemy opened a heavy
fire. Both men and horses began to drop, but the
British force pushed its way to the summit. Then
they turned back, coming down the hill much faster
than they had gone up, leaving four dead and thirteen
wounded behind.

The 58th Regiment was now moving up the hill
on the left of the ridge, their red tunics and white
helmets offering a splendid target to the Boers, who
were hiding behind rocks on the summit. Colonel


Deane took them up as fast as they could cover the
ground, and soon the face of the hill was covered with
red dots showing where the Boer bullets had found
their mark. The attackers and attacked were very
close together when the artillery’s shooting suddenly
ceased, and the front line wavered. The withering
fire had thinned the British ranks terribly. All the
mounted officers had been killed, and there was only
a subaltern left to give the order to retire. As the men
came down the hill the Boers left their cover and
picked out the running figures with deadly accuracy.

The police vedettes were under fire at this time,
shots coming from the bush, and the skirmishers had
to be withdrawn. Inspector Mansel gave his men
the order to draw swords, preparatory to a charge,
but this did not prove to be necessary, although the
police sat on their horses for some time, presenting a
very good target to the enemy.

As soon as the retirement had taken place,
Troopers Purser and Ravenscroft, of the police, were
sent with Captain M’Gregor, a Staff officer, up the
nek under a flag of truce, with a message asking
that hostilities should cease until the wounded had
been brought down from the hill. The Boers agreed
to this, and on returning, Purser and Ravenscroft
passed along the battlefield telling the wounded to
lie still.

As soon as the firing ceased a large party of Boers
appeared on one of the spurs of Majuba, and the
General gave orders for a retirement, the police form-
ing the rear-guard, but the Majuba party did not fire
on them, and the dead and wounded were placed on
ambulances. The 5 8th Regiment had lost about 160
out of 480 men.

The laager was reached at 4 p.m. and, after the
men had had a hurried meal, General Colley ordered
a parade of troops, to which he delivered a short


address. He said he had been bound to make the
attempt to relieve the beleagured garrisons in the
Transvaal. The attack on the nek had failed, but
the blame must rest entirely with him .

He complimented all ranks on their steadiness,
and regretted that owing to scarcity of supplies,
the defenceless state of Newcastle, and the import-
ance of keeping his communications open, it would
be necessary to send the Natal Police back to New-
castle with all speed, though he hoped to have them
back with him when he made his next advance.

At dusk Inspector Mansel left Mount Prospect with
one mule wagon which rolled into a donga while they
were descending the Ingogo Hill. They were com-
pelled to remain there until daylight, and, finding a
store near, had a glorious banquet of tinned salmon,
tinned pears, and bottled beer. It was a difficult
task to set the wrecked wagon right in the darkness,
but they were able to resume their journey at dawn,
and reached Newcastle safely. Here preparations
were made for defending the town, and small forts
were built to guard the approaches, being manned
at night by the police, who also furnished pickets
during the daytime. Heavy rains fell, and the water,
pouring through the patrol tents, drenched everything
belonging to the men.

The police were sent out on the 2nd February to
meet a convoy of wagons and wounded men return-
ing from Mount Prospect, and on the same day a
party of the police escorted Commodore Richards
of the Royal Navy, to Newcastle, from General
Colley’s camp.

A number of recruits arrived from Estcourt
on the 3rd February, and they, with six other men,
were left in Newcastle, while Major Dartnell, with
under fifty men, went out to hold the Biggarsberg
Nek, where it was feared the Boers might attempt


to hold back reinforcements who were to arrive under
General Wood.

False alarms were continually occurring in New-
castle in these days, and many of the residents took
refuge in the laager at night. Mr. Rider Haggard,
who was in Newcastle, afterwards wrote on the subject :

” One night I was sitting in the drawing-room
reading, at about eleven o’clock, with the door
leading on to the verandah slightly ajar, for the
night was warm, when suddenly I heard myself
called by name in a muffled voice, and was asked
if the place was in possession of the Boers.

u Looking towards the door I saw a full-cocked
revolver coming round the corner, and on opening
it in some alarm, I could distinctly discern a line of
armed figures in a crouching attitude stretched along
the verandah into the garden beyond.

” It turned out to be a patrol of the Mounted
Police, who had received information that a large
number of Boers had seized the place, and had come
to ascertain the truth of the report.”

The commissariat supply in Newcastle, as indeed
during the whole campaign, was most unsatisfactory
so far as the police were concerned. Rations were
supplied by the Government, the men being charged
35. per day each, but these supplies were very in-
adequate. The police were put to much expense
for extras, everything, of course, being sold at war
prices. The difficulty of obtaining firewood was a
particularly sore point with the men.

On the 8th February three members of the force
were sent from Newcastle by Major Terry of the
6oth Rifles, with important dispatches for General
Colley, receiving strict orders to avoid capture by
the Boers, who had for some days stopped all com-
munication with Mount Prospect. Mr. Cameron,
a London war correspondent, who wished to get


through to the General, accompanied the party.
They made a long detour with the object of crossing
the Ingogo high up, but very soon found the enemy
occupying all the high ground that commanded a
view of the country, so they turned east with the
intention of passing along the Schuyn’s Hoogte valley,
in order to outflank the Boer parties. On reaching
the top of a hill they were startled by a sudden
outburst of firing. Not knowing whether the enemy
had discovered them or not, they hurried on to the
highest point, and from there obtained a view of the
battle that was being fought near the Ingogo River.

The dispatch riders were spotted by the Boers,
who sent a number of men to intercept them, so
they had to retire with all speed. The trio found no
difficulty in getting away, but it was utterly im-
possible for them to get through to the General, so
they returned and reported to Major Terry. He
complimented them on their discretion, saying it
would have been most unwise to attempt to get the
dispatches through. At four o’clock on the following
morning the police were ordered out, unarmed, to
take wagons to the scene of the previous day’s
fighting, and bring in the wounded, who had been
left all night on the battlefield. The injured men
were put on the wagons, and were taken back to
Newcastle, where the police were hastily ordered out
again to Signal Hill, it being expected that the enemy
were about to make an attack on Newcastle. They
were called in again at 8 p.m., having gone twenty-
six hours without food, to find the residents were
suffering from a bad attack of ” nerves.” They
clamoured to take refuge in the laager, and were
very wrathful when informed that they could not
do so until the occasion warranted it.

Several very miserable days were spent after
this by the police, who had the task of escorting the


heliograph party of the 6oth Rifles to Signal Hill.
Rain poured down incessantly, and they often sat
from 4 a.m. until 7 p.m. wet to the skin, only finding
on returning to the laager that they had to spend
the night occupying one of the forts.

As it was believed that the British were in conflict
only with the Transvaal Boers, and that the Orange
Free State was remaining neutral, it came as a
shock to the men at Newcastle when a party of
Boers descended Muller’s Pass, and looted and burnt
a convoy of wagons near the Horn River, between
the laager and the Ingangane. The enemy had
made a wagon laager, and sent a strong patrol each
day to the Ingangane. These patrols were observed
by the scouts, but General Wood ridiculed the
idea, and narrowly escaped capture on the after-
noon of the 1 5th February, when he made a recon-
naissance to the Ingangane, accompanied by Major
Dartnell and an escort. The party arrived at the river
only fifteen minutes after the Boers had retired.
The Natal Police were sent to occupy the heights
commanding the Ingangane Drift before dawn, and
anticipate the arrival of the Boer patrol. When
the enemy did return they found the troops holding
the ground, and were compelled to retire.

Sub-Inspector Phillips was sent through with
dispatches to Newcastle fifteen miles away, that
evening, being ordered to take as escort twenty police.
He told Major Dartnell he would prefer to go alone,
as he had to cut across country and would probably
be noticed if he had a lot of men with him. It was
then arranged that he should take half a dozen
troopers with him, and he started off at about 6 p.m.
The Hussar vedettes had seen a large number of
Boers, and a subaltern warned the dispatch rider
that he was going straight towards them, so he left
the road just before darkness set in. Mr. Phillips was


riding at the head of the party, and a couple of hours
after the start he stopped suddenly, having nearly
walked into a detachment of the enemy who were lying
down and holding their horses. It was an exciting
moment, and at first it was feared the Boers had seen
them, but the police turned aside hastily and were
not fired on. Sub-Inspector Phillips handed his
dispatches over in Newcastle at 9.30 p.m.

On the iQth February the police joined the party
which accompanied General Wood on a reconnaissance
towards Wakkerstroom. There was a lot of hard
riding on the expedition, nearly sixty miles being
covered just under thirty hours, and the Buffalo
River, which was in flood, was crossed twice. The
police and the ith Hussars took turns in forming
the advance-guard. Although a very large area was
scoured that day, no trace of the enemy could be found.

General Wood left a few days later for Pieter-
maritzburg, to hurry up the remainder of the rein-
forcements, which were already on the move from
Durban. These consisted of the i$th Hussars, 2nd
6oth Rifles, and 92nd Highlanders, who had been
sent over from India, where they had been recently
engaged in the Afghanistan campaign, the two in-
fantry regiments having taken part in Lord Roberts’
historic march from Cabul to Kandahar.

Just after midnight on the 23rd February a non-
commissioned officer of the Natal Police with a party
of eighteen men was sent to search a farmer’s house
at Schuyn’s Hoogte, where Boers’ arms and ammuni-
tion were supposed to be stored. A thorough search
of the building was made, and the police, having
found only one rifle, left the place. The reinforce-
ments from India had left Newcastle, and as daylight
broke the Hussars entered the house, looting every-
thing worth taking. The column shortly afterwards
piled arms near the house, and then about 1500 men,

i o8 LOOT

the Naval Brigade, Highlanders, rifles, native wagon-
drivers, and others, swooped down to share in the
plunder. The small party of police were unable to
prevent the looting, and the naval men finished up by
applying a burning bundle of forage to the thatch,
the place being very soon reduced to ashes.

General Colley sent for the search-party of police,
and demanded to know why the destruction had been
permitted, but they had only to point to the hundreds
of men in the vicinity to explain the situation. A
number of geese were hanging incriminatingly from
the saddles of the police, and these created a little
suspicion until it was shown that the birds were
those on which the Hussars had been practising
sword exercise.

The farmer claimed 1500 compensation, and a
court of inquiry was held. The farmer was paid an
adequate sum in consideration of his loss, and the
court exonerated the police.

While the troops remained in the valley, Major
Dartnell was sent with all available police to protect
the left flank of the column, and to watch the Botha’s
Pass road until the reinforcements had safely crossed
the Ingogo River. Afterwards the majority of the
police were sent back to Newcastle, where they
remained employed in patrolling, escorts, and vedette
duties until the close of the war.

In the meanwhile, Sergeant Faddy and twenty
men of the police were stationed at Schuyn’s Hoogte
to garrison a small fort, together with a few men of the
Highlanders, under Major Napier. A small earthwork
had been put up, and the police were kept busily
employed in patrolling, and engaged in the thrilling
occupation of rounding up poultry at the neighbour-
ing farms, all of which were unoccupied. The police
patrol had just left Schuyn’s Hoogte early on the
morning of the 2/th February, and was passing along


the road in the direction of the Ingogo Drift, when
it was overtaken by Major Napier, who directed the
men to go as quickly as possible towards Mount
Prospect and ascertain why firing could be heard near
there. On arrival at the camp they reported to Major
Essex, who kept them all there, excepting one man.
He was sent back with a message to Schuyn’s Hoogte
stating that General Colley had successfully occupied
the Majuba Hill, the key to Laing’s Nek.

The police watched the figures in the distance
on the summit of Majuba Hill. Firing was almost
continuous, but it was on the farther side of the
mountain. Just after midday they were ordered
out to O’Neill’s Farm, and as they rode along, the
British troops began to retire from the top, the
Boers coming over and firing downwards. The
fugitives were scattered considerably, many of them
having lost their rifles. The police were directed to
pick up fugitives, and they did so, carrying them
into camp on their horses.

There was much heartburning that night amongst
the troops, for each regiment accused the other of
having been the first to run.

The only other duty that fell to the police during
this campaign was that of escorting President Brand,
of the Orange Free State, from Muller’s Pass to
Laing’s Nek, where he acted as arbitrator between
the British and the Boers. After a convention with
the enemy had been signed, the Natal Government
asked that the police might be returned, and on the
30th March they received orders to get ready to go
back to their different stations. They were inspected
by General Sir Evelyn Wood before they left the
camp, and, for a body of Natal Police, their garments
were certainly extraordinary on that occasion. Their
clothes were so dilapidated that scarcely two men
were dressed alike. One-half of them wore helmets,


and the other half were adorned with either forage
caps or smasher hats. But General Wood did not
judge them by their clothing. He said :

” I feel it is only just that your services for the
present should be dispensed with, as you have already
spent eight months under canvas and done excellent
work. I am aware that the late General Colley spoke
in the very highest terms of the valuable services
rendered by the Natal Police, and in the event of hostili-
ties being resumed, I shall be only too glad to give you
an opportunity to add to your very high reputation. ”

Next morning the police started their homeward
journey, the residents of Newcastle distributing
cigars to them as they passed through the town.
The first evening they were joined by Sub- Inspector
Phillips, with his detachment, and they all spent a
memorable evening in a cloud of mosquitoes. In
order to give the horses some protection, fires were
kept burning on the weather-side of the picket ropes,
and the men themselves spent the whole night
standing or sitting in the smoke. The different
detachments turned off to Estcourt, Fort Pine, and
Greytown, so that only eight men remained to con-
tinue the journey to Pietermaritzburg.

Very little credit fell to the lot of the Natal Police
after all they had done during this arduous campaign.
The brunt of the work had fallen on the mounted
men, of which there were very few other than the police.

At the opening of the Legislative Council in the
following October, the Administrator of the Govern-
ment, Sir Evelyn Wood, said :

” While the forces were in the field, nearly two-
thirds of our mounted police were employed watching
the frontier. I take this opportunity of recording
the fact that the late General Colley appreciated very
highly the services of Major Dartnell, and the efficient
force under his command.”



THE police had now been almost continually on
active service for three years, and were somewhat
upset at the tone of certain discussions in the Legis-
lative Council concerning their utility.

Complaints were made that a sufficient number of
the police had not been kept on patrols in the rural
districts, both for the prevention of crime and the
protection of the residents, especially in view of the
fact that the force had cost 34,000 during the year.
The reply of the Colonial Secretary was :
” I think it is not want of will on the part of the
Government that prevents the police from patrolling
more than they do. We have had wars lately all
round, in Pondoland, in Basutoland, in Zululand, and
in the Transvaal, and the police have been more or
less actively engaged throughout. It is not a fact
that patrols have not been sent out. There are only
five detachments of the police besides those in Pieter-
maritzburg. Ten thousand men are not considered
too many to form the police of Ireland, a country
not much larger than Natal, and, that being so, how
can it be expected that with our small force we can
do all that has been asked ? Twenty detachments
would not suffice to do the work some people demand.
Assuming that 50 detachments would do for all the
colony, and that 150 is the number available, we
should have three men in each detachment. Then


there is the question of food and stabling. That is a
very difficult problem, and one not very easily dis-
posed of.

” I must also draw attention to the insufficiency
of pay to the police to enable them to keep up patrols.
The men at Estcourt at the present time pay 43. iodj
per day for the upkeep of their horses and them-
selves, out of their pay of 6s. per day. Then when we
consider that a man has to purchase his horse, and
keep up his clothing, we, must come to the conclusion
that he really cannot keep things going. He gets no
extra pay on patrol. When the grass is bad up-
country, he has to pay 2s. 6d. per feed for his horse.

” Taking everything into consideration, the wars
there have been, and the fact that fifty-six patrols
have been made during the year (apart from those in
Umvoti County, where they are reputed to have been
numerous), I think the Government does not lie
under such a heavy indictment as some members
would lead us to suppose.

” It is only a few days since I had a serious con-
versation with Major Dartnell, and he expressed him-
self not only willing but desirous of making the force
as useful as possible. But if this chronic state of war
keeps up, we cannot expect that they can remain
both police and military.”

There is no doubt that a wholesome impression
was caused in those days by the passage through a
district of a body of police. In some places the
presence of a couple of policemen had the effect of
stopping stock thefts for months. In accordance with
the wish expressed by the Legislative Council that
the police should be distributed throughout the
country districts, a number of small out-stations were
formed towards the close of 1881. The first was at
Zaaifontein on the Drakensberg, and six men and a
corporal, who were dispatched there from Fort Pine,


had an unhappy experience. They had only one
pack-horse to carry the kits of the seven men, and the
house which was to be their headquarters ” rent free ”
was merely a shed of one room on the slopes of the
Drakensberg, where for seven months the men lived
in the greatest discomfort.

There was no store within thirty miles, there was
no stable nor kitchen, and their cooking utensils
consisted of one pot. Moreover, they practically
got nothing but buck and pumpkins to cook.

Other out-stations formed during that year were
at Newcastle, Fort Nottingham, Boston, York, and
Polela, being followed shortly afterwards by those
at Ixopo, Noodsberg, Umsinga, Lion’s River, and

After a while it was decided to make life a little
less unbearable for the benighted troopers in these
outlandish places, by conferring on them such
luxuries as bedsteads, tables, forms, stoves, a chair or
two, and a few other necessary articles of furniture.

There was a pest of wild dogs in the Estcourt
district early in 1882. These savage animals had
created havoc amongst the sheep along the banks
of the Upper Mooi River, and although the farmers
complained bitterly of their loss, they gave the police
a very frigid welcome when they went to hunt the
dogs down, and offered no assistance whatever.

The question of increasing the numerical strength
of the corps was debated at considerable length in
the Legislative Council, and during the year pro-
vision was made altogether for 8 officers, 28 non-
commissioned officers, and 264 troopers.

There was some uneasiness amongst the men, for
although the force was organized originally for defence
as well as a police force, the authorities were continu-
ally at loggerheads when discussing the problem as
to whether the Natal Police were to be soldiers or


policemen, or both. It is not difficult to understand
that as the men’s services had been spoken of very
highly by some of the most distinguished officers of
the British Army, including Generals Lord Wolseley,
Sir Evelyn Wood, Sir Baker Russell, Sir George
Colley, and Sir H. Clifford, they were very anxious
to maintain their reputation as a military force.
The Commandant, knowing how frequently they
had been called upon for military service, stated
at this time, that a high state of efficiency or dis-
cipline could not be maintained when men were
scattered throughout the colony, under the control
of non-commissioned officers only, a certain amount
of drill being necessary to instil discipline and ready
obedience to orders, without which any body of men
becomes a mere demoralized rabble in the presence
of an enemy.

It was pointed out then that it was possible to
employ the police in a dual capacity by forming
troop stations in different places, under the com-
mand of an officer, each detachment having enough
men to drill and keep in training. This system was
subsequently carried into effect, and is maintained
to-day. In the event of trouble with the natives,
troops from the various outlying stations are called
into their district headquarters. This is very
effectual in checking native risings, as a united body
of police under the present system can get to the
scene of a disturbance within a few hours of the
order being given.

When the present Adjutant, Major O. Dimmick,
joined the corps in April 1883, the headquarters
were still at a queer little shanty in Church Street.
There were about a hundred men stationed at the
building, which had not adequate accommodation for
a score of them. Most of the troopers slept under
canvas in the small yard, where there were also about


To face p. 114.


eighty horses picketed. Even in those days, nearly
a decade after the corps had started, the men were
having a hard time, and the recruits, who were still
of a rougher class than those who constituted the
force in later days, were dispatched to out-stations
as quickly as possible after they had been drilled at
headquarters. The uniform was then a black one,
and the men carried a carbine at the side of the
saddle, its muzzle resting in a bucket.

A fresh disturbance arose in Zululand in 1884.
Although Cetewayo was living as a refugee near
Eshowe, he incited his adherent to attack Sibepu’s
tribe, the Mandhlagagi, which had given the king’s
followers a severe beating at Undini in the July of
the previous year, and had driven Cetewayo himself
from his kraal. In January 1884 the Usutu party 1
met with another defeat, and not long after that
Cetewayo died. The loyal natives in the reserve
were subjected to much annoyance by the Usutu
party, which assumed a defiant attitude towards the
Resident Commissioner.

A force of 3000 loyal natives, including 50 of the
Zululand Police, were sent to Nkandhla, where the
Commissioner’s camp was attacked by the late king’s
people, who were repulsed with heavy loss. This fight
took place close to Fanifili’s store, which was the scene
of considerable unrest during a more recent period.

The brothers of the late king endeavoured to
persuade the Transvaal Boers to help them to estab-
lish the strength of the Usutu party. This they
agreed to do, and the Boers, who were already in
force in Zululand, proclaimed Dinuzulu as king in
May 1 884. A few days later the Usutus were pounced
upon by the chief Hlubi, with his Basutos and loyal
natives, and the Usutus had 200 men killed, and
more than 1000 head of cattle captured.

1 The Zulu king’s adherents.


The Boers joined issue with Dinuzulu, and,
attacking Sibepu, drove him out of his territory.
The Boers promptly claimed in return for their
services 8000 farms occupying nearly three million
acres of land, and proclaimed the territory a Boer
Republic, under the Protectorate of the Transvaal.
It was in this way that the best part of Zululand was
lost to the Zulus, and to the British Government
which had spent millions of pounds in conquering it.

While these disturbances were in progress, a
strong body of Natal Police, under Inspector Fairlie,
were sent to the border. For about four months
they were encamped at Fort Buckingham, an out-
post being formed at Middle Drift with one non-
commissioned officer and six men, these being relieved
every week.

Patrols were constantly sent out along the Tugela
River from May until October, and the men suffered
severely from intense cold and exposure. The horses
died rapidly, very few of them surviving the ex-
pedition. Many of them died afterwards from a form
of pneumonia brought on by the cold weather. The
detachment from Estcourt lost every horse they had
before the year closed. The Umhlali detachment
patrolled the lower portions of the Tugela from
Thring’s Post to the mouth of the river, watching
the drifts and preventing filibusters from leaving
Natal to join Sibepu ‘s party in Zululand.

While these detachments were employed on what
was practically military duty, the Fort Pine and
Newcastle men were stationed at the Orange Free
State passes to the Drakensberg, preventing natives
from entering Natal, as smallpox had broken out
at Kimberley.

There was a good deal of gun running into Pondo-
land at this time, and the men of the Harding de-
tachment had some exciting adventures while putting


a stop to this practice at the drifts to the Umtamvuna
River, but there was a serious outbreak of glanders
amongst their horses, which disabled them for a long
time shortly afterwards. The colonial veterinary
surgeon ordered the destruction of every animal in
the place, the stable, and all the stable utensils.
After this the detachment was withdrawn from
Harding for a year.

Towards the end of 1884, detachments of the
Natal Police were placed at Ladysmith, Umsinga,
Thring’s Post, Dundee, and Van Reenen’s Pass, the
men at the last-named place carrying out the duties
in connection with the Customs, Excise, and Tele-
graph Department.

When the year 1885 opened, the force consisted
of 300 Europeans and 25 natives, but a wave
of retrenchment passed over the colony, and the
threat, often repeated, to reduce the number of
the Natal Police was carried out to some extent.
But the following year a much more serious step was
taken in this direction, the Europeans being reduced
to 1 80 all told, and the whole of the native police-
men were wiped out. This made it exceedingly
awkward for the Europeans at work on the back-
stations, they being deprived of one of their most
useful sources of information. Most of the Europeans
who left on this occasion joined in the rush that was
then taking place to the gold mines.

In 1887 the inspection of hut tax licences by the
police was started, and new stations were estab-
lished at Acton Homes, Impendhle, Oliver’s Hoek,
and Umlazi. The detachment at Van Reenen’s Pass
were having a very busy time, there being an enor-
mous amount of traffic going through to Johannes-
burg. That year over 29,000 wagons passed the
place both ways, and the licence for each one had
to be inspected. In addition to this, the police,


acting as Customs officers, examined nearly 50,000

The wave of economy that spread over the colony
resulted in the officers’ pay being reduced by 5 per
cent., and all other ranks had 6d. per day knocked off ;
but, a year later, when a reign of prosperity had
set in once more, the whole of this was returned
to the men in the form of a bonus.

There was considerable alarm amongst the resi-
dents of Alfred County, on account of the attitude
of the Amanyuswa tribe, which had assembled for
the purpose of ” doctoring.” The report was re-
ceived that they appeared to be on the warpath,
so a detachment of the police was hastily dispatched
from Harding to check any disturbance. The tribe
soon settled down and dispersed.

When the prosperity of Natal increased in 1 889, the
strength of the force was raised by fifty men, but,
such were the vicissitudes of Natal’s chief defensive
body in those days, these fifty men were taken away
again a twelvemonth later. The force was spoken
of, in consequence, as the ” financial barometer of the
colony,” rising and falling, as it did, with the revenue.

Again there was anxiety amongst the white
settlers in Alfred County owing to unrest in Pondo-
land, and amongst the natives on the southern
border. Every available man, with three officers,
was sent to Harding towards the close of the year,
and strong patrols were kept continually on the
move while Sigcau, the paramount chief of Pondo-
land, was engaged in a bitter battle with his uncle,
Umhlangaso,who was compelled to take refuge in Natal
on one occasion when hotly chased by Sigcau at the
head of an impi of 10,000 men. Such is the respect
that the native has for the white police, that the
impi refrained from crossing the border as a result
of their presence.


Detachments of police were sent this year to
Port Shepstone, Coldstream (afterwards known as
Charlestown), and New Guelderland, near Stanger.

Although the conditions at the old barracks
had always been both unpleasant and insanitary,
it was not until an outbreak of enteric fever laid
a large number of the men out, and killed five of
them, that new premises were obtained. Recruits
were moved to the site of the present barracks on a
hill overlooking Pietermaritzburg, where a camp was
pitched, and the handsome building, which is at
present used as headquarters, was soon afterwards



IT was in 1889 that the Natal Police for the first
time met Dinuzulu, whose name has been before
the public a great deal in recent years. In this
year he was taken prisoner as a rebel against the
Imperial Government, and the police received him
at the Lower Tugela, escorting him to Pietermaritz-
burg before he embarked to undergo part of his
sentence at St. Helena.

At about this time several years’ continuous
anarchy in Pondoland began. Umhlangaso and his
followers, who lived on the border of Natal, absolutely
refused to submit to Sigcau, the paramount chief.
A message was sent to Pietermaritzburg stating
that the natives on the Natal side of the border were
getting troublesome, and that the chiefs Umbono
and Umpikwa appeared likely to come to blows.
Some of the bitter enemies of the police in the Legis-
lative Council had stated that a sufficient number
of police to be useful could not be assembled in less
than a fortnight. This statement was, of course,
absurd, and on this particular occasion, 1 10 men were
gathered from stations in all parts of the colony.
The majority of these were on the extreme southern
border within forty-eight hours, and those from the
most distant stations had arrived on the morning
of the fifth day from the time the orders were
dispatched from headquarters. Newcastle was then


the terminus of the main railway line, and there
were no branch lines, so most of the men had to do
the greater part of their journey on horseback. In
every instance the troopers who went from Pieter-
maritzburg to the border travelled by road, which
journey to-day is in itself considered a good five
days’ trek. Harding, which was the point where
they assembled, was nearly the most distant point in
the colony from the railway, and these forced marches
had all to be conducted in terribly bad weather.

The first detachment of police arrived in time
to prevent bloodshed between the two tribes ; but
there was some fighting, and armed natives from
Pondoland, having crossed the Umtamvuna River,
joined gaily in it. The arrival of the police was so
unexpected that a large number of prisoners were
taken, and many of the natives were disarmed.

Early in 1891 the camp was moved from Harding
to a point overlooking the Umtamvuna, near the
drift, patrols moving up and down the river daily.

When taken to Pietermaritzburg, Umbono was
ordered to pay a fine of 650, and as he showed no
inclination to hand over the money, the police marched
to his kraal and surrounded it. This demonstration
altered the chief’s mind, and he was not long in
paying the fine.

The fighting was resumed in Pondoland not long
afterwards, and it took place so close to the border
that Sigcau’s impi, numbering 10,000 warriors, drove
its enemy through the river into Natal. The two
forces remained on opposite sides of the water,
sniping at one another, until Colonel Dartnell crossed
with a small escort and directed the paramount chief
to retire. The firm attitude he adopted had the
desired effect and, there is no doubt, averted a great
deal of bloodshed, for had the pursuers once crossed
the river there would have been a massacre not only


of the fugitives from Pondoland, but also of the
Natal natives.

The police, in the absence of rapid transport for
supplies, were having a rather trying experience,
and while they were doing most useful work in the
south of the colony, abuse was being hurled at them
very freely in the Legislative Council.

” As a police force they are utterly useless in
the prevention or detection of crime,” said one
speaker. ” The organization is on a wrong basis
altogether. When you travel about Natal you will
find people in every district say that the police are
an utter failure in many respects.”

” As a military force,” said another speaker,
” the Natal Police are really very contemptible.
If one looks to them for defence it will be a very
miserable defence indeed.”

The Colonial Secretary pointed out that these were
intemperate remarks. ” It is an exceedingly useful
force,” he said, ” a singularly fine corps, and at this
moment it affords a nucleus for a defensive force such as
probably no other colony in the world ever possessed
on the eve of adopting Responsible Government.”

In spite of a spirited defence which was made on
behalf of the Natal Police, their numbers, which a
little while previously had been added to, were again
reduced by fifty men. Fortunately this reduction did
not involve hardships on the men dismissed, because
the other South African police forces took them over.

The scene of trouble was moved from the borders
of Pondoland to the Bulwer Division, where a number
of natives assumed a defiant attitude towards a
magistrate. Some native police were sent out to
make arrests, but these men were driven back,
whereupon Corporal Strutt took out a detachment
of six European troopers, and these were joined by
some of the white residents. They marched out in


the direction of the rebels, whom they found armed
and still defiant. The white force opened fire on
them, and those who refused to lay down their arms
were killed. From the summit of a hill not far away
another body of armed natives watched this skirmish.
Doubtless their intention was to assist their friends
until they saw what happened, and then they dis-
appeared discreetly into the bush, and created no
more trouble.

Up to this time the position of the police as
a police force had been a somewhat curious one.
The magistrates in the various divisions had worked
independently, no central authority existing for
dealing with cases. No intelligence regarding crimes
was ever sent to headquarters by the magistrates,
and a warrant, if not executed at the first attempt,
was filed. The depositions were lost, and of course
no record of the doings of criminals was kept. The
clerk of the court prosecuted in criminal cases. The
magistrate had charge of the gaols, and outside the
central gaols there was no separate accommodation
for women prisoners.

A Magistrates’ Commission, which had taken
evidence in all parts of the colony, presented its
report in June 1892, and in this made the very
recommendations which the Commandant of police
had been urging year after year. Up to now there
had been several distinct bodies of police in the
colony the Mounted Police, Borough Police, and
Local Board Police Forces, the Magisterial Native
Police, Messengers and Convict Guards, the Magis-
terial Patrol Police, and the Water Police. In its
report the Commission said :

.” The police in the country districts, almost
entirely natives, are under the direct control of the
magistrate. They are employed in various ways,
but only to a limited extent in police work. Under


this system the magistrate is practically the chief
detective in his division. He works up evidence in
important cases, and then has to sit in judgment.
A small number of patrol police are employed, and
under proper control and supervision they may be
very useful. The magistrates have, however, neither
time nor the opportunity to supervise such a force
properly. The Commission have come to the con-
clusion that the scattered forces now in existence
are not suited to the present circumstances of the
colony, and that the amount of money now expended
over them may, by means of different organization,
be utilized so as to bring about much better and
larger results. We consider that the time has arrived
when a police department should be established under
a Chief Commissioner.”

In spite of this, no change was made until two
years after the report was issued.

In the meantime, the main body of the Natal
Police were very actively engaged in the south of the
colony. Frequent scares occurred on the border,
and fighting took place continually in Pondoland
until September 1893, an< 3 then the paramount chief
prepared to make a very serious attack on the neigh-
bouring natives. The police with a Maxim gun moved
along the rugged country, overlooking the Umtamvuna
River, to a site near Luji’s Drift. They had just
offsaddled when a large impi appeared. It was that
of Sigcau .

He was marching upon Maqutu and his men, who
had spoken bravely of opposing the paramount chief
at a narrow nek of land leading to a hill, but the
moment the impi put in an appearance Maqutu and
his valiant men disappeared. The victorious impi
swept through the kraals of Maqutu, burning the
huts as they passed. There was a dense bush not
far away, and shots were fired from this by Maqutu ‘s


followers ; in a very short time Sigcau ‘s impi was
retiring, and fifty of his men were killed.

Thousands of Pondo women and children with
their cattle had crossed to the side of the river where
the police were stationed, and remained in full view
of Sigcau and his men, who, as usual on such occasions,
were anxious to capture the animals. An impi of
10,000 men advanced in four columns to Luji’s Drift,
which they would in all probability have crossed with
the object of securing the cattle had the police not
lined up and made a demonstration.

When Sub-Inspector Clarke crossed into Pondo-
land and joined Sigcau ‘s impi with the object of
interviewing the paramount chief, the latter’s
followers had increased to 15,000 men. The chief
himself was surrounded by an escort of Europeans
and half-castes, who had been compelled to turn out.
At the head of his column there were about 2000
mounted men, whose horses were jaded and in a sorry
state, for they did not appear to have been off-
saddled, fed, or watered for some time. Hundreds
of breech-loading guns were held by men in the ranks,
but the impi appeared to be somewhat short of
ammunition . The men on foot marched in companies,
each warrior being supplied with two large lumps
of mealie bread, packed in grass rope, and carried
over the shoulder. They had only one small beast
with them for slaughtering purposes, it being evident
that they expected to feed on the cattle of their enemies.

In November 1893 ^ ne unrest was as bad as
ever in Pondoland, and the paramount chief, who
was then very depressed, informed representatives
of the police that his men were unwilling to do his
bidding in making battle against Umhlangaso. The
latter chief was very proud of his arrangements for
meeting the enemy if they cared to come. These
preparations consisted of a small structure, which he


called a ” fort.” This at the most would have held
about twenty men. It was strengthened by a fence
of barbed wire, and a most ridiculous site had been
chosen for it, because it only commanded a space of
about fifty yards. Sigcau had, however, heard of
this wonderful structure, and the tales told about it
to his men were so exaggerated that they declined
to attack it.

On the 9th January Umhlangaso got into a fright
as great as that of his opponent, and sent a message
to Colonel Dartnell stating that if the police would
only assist him he would in return hand over the
whole country to Natal !

The two chiefs came to blows on the i ith January,
and the police turned out to watch the battle, which
proved to be a severe one. Sigcau ‘s brother led the
first attack, but it was feeble. Umhlangaso ‘s men,
the Umsizis, executed a clever manoeuvre. They
retired slowly until the attackers were wedged in
between two lines of bushy country. Then the
Umsizis poured out in dense masses from the bush
on either side, stabbed the men as they sat on their
horses, and drove the impi back.

The following day while the police were at Middle
Drift Sigcau ‘s mounted men again came down to the
river and opened fire on their enemy on the Natal
side of the water. Whether the police were mistaken
for the enemy or not, it is difficult to say, but many
of the bullets fell close to them. As there appeared
to be every prospect of the Pondos crossing over into
Natal, the Maxim gun was trained on the drift, and
the Pondos retired.

Some of the police paid a visit to the scene of the
battle the following day and found scores of bodies
lying about mutilated. There were more than a
hundred dead natives outside the bush and many
more amongst the trees.



THE year 1894 was a momentous one in the history
of the Natal Police, for as a sequel to the inquiries
made by the Commission all the police forces in the
colony were amalgamated, under Colonel Dartnell
as Chief Commissioner.

The Attorney-General, the Rt. Hon. H. Escombe,
in moving the second reading of the Police Bill,
pointed out that Natal was essentially a country to
be governed by police, especially by police as dis-
tinguished from soldiers.

” There is at present a police force,” he said,
” which is weakened by disconnection. It consists
of various bodies distributed through the land, under
different heads, subject to no central power ; and
as a consequence, it is not properly in hand. The
present measure will bring the whole of the separated
police forces of the colony into one police unit.

” A difficulty would have arisen in the matter of
a Chief Commissioner of police if it had not been for
the loyalty to the public service of Colonel Dartnell.
He was told what the wishes of the Government
were as regards the consolidation of the different
forces. He was addressed in the capacity he is
known so well to fill, that of a dashing soldier, and he
was asked whether, having regard to the necessities
of the case, he would accept the position of Chief
Commissioner. We knew perfectly well that if


that distinguished officer said he would, we might
rely absolutely on his exact fulfilment of the duties
of the office. I am glad to say that without the
least reserve or hesitation, he stated that he would
comply with the wish of the Government. We
found a most complete accord between General
Dartnell and ourselves, as regards the general control
of the force. He knew, as we all know, that the
peculiar character of the population here requires a
police force which can move about in a strong body
when necessity arises.

” Under the Act the magistrates will be relieved
from a duty which does not belong to magistrates.
Hitherto they have, to a large extent, had their
time occupied in acting the part of detectives, and
because the duty is not consistent with that of a
magistrate the work has not been done to the satis-
faction either of the officers concerned or the public
at large. Nothing can be more wrong in principle
than for a magistrate to have to unearth crime, and
then to try the criminal.”

Colonel Dartnell and Sub-Inspector Clarke put
their heads together and prepared this scheme of
reorganization, which worked so successfully that
it was subsequently adopted by every other colony
in South Africa. To put it into working order in
Natal was no light undertaking, especially in view
of the fact that there was only a week in which
to draw up the rules and regulations. From the
date when the force was first started it had been
known as the Natal Mounted Police. This body
ceased to exist on the 3oth June 1894, on which
day there was a gathering of the officers of the old
force, who were :

Colonel Dartnell, Commandant ; Inspector
W. F. Fairlie ; Inspector F. A. Campbell ; Inspector
Phillips ; Inspector Sewell, Paymaster ; Inspector


Masson ; Sub-Inspector Stean, Adjutant ; Sub-
Inspector Dorehill ; Sub-Inspector Clarke.

The new force, known as the Natal Police, was
increased from 200 to 300 Europeans, and 100 natives
were added to the ranks. Eleven police districts
were established, and the out-stations were increased
in number from twenty-six to sixty. It was hoped
that the municipalities in the colony would come
under the Act, but Pietermaritzburg, Durban, and
Newcastle declined the offers made to them.

In some instances the magistrates submitted with
ill-grace to the new regime, and one or two of them
even to-day would be glad to have control of the
native police. On the whole, however, the annual
reports showed that the new system was a consider-
able improvement on that which it had superseded.
The number of arrests in the first year rose from
2564 to 16,568, this showing that there must have
been a lot of undetected crime prior to the change.

Before the force was reorganized, complaints
were made that, owing to the inefficiency of the police,
there was an annual loss of sheep by theft to the
extent of 100,000. During the first twelve months
of the working of the new system 2170 sheep were
reported lost, and out of that number 893 were
recovered. If a certain percentage of deaths be
allowed, it will be seen how great was the miscalcula-
tion, or else how great was the improvement in the
police. The average number of sheep reported
missing annually has never since then exceeded

When the Natal Police took over the ‘gaols they
found them in a chaotic state. There was no system
whatever, each establishment working independently
of any other.

As soon as the change took place, applications
were made in all parts of the colony for police stations,


and the additional men enlisted were soon absorbed.
As a result, a further increase of 200 troopers became
necessary early in 1896, but as good men were not
readily picked up in Natal, recruiting was started
in England, and 100 men were enlisted there.

Shortly afterwards there was a plague of rinder-
pest in the colony, and in order to place a strong
guard on the borders of the Transvaal and the Orange
Free State, to prevent cattle from being driven into
Natal, the police had to be withdrawn from all the
stations in the northern part of the colony.

Early in 1897 there was a panic in East Griqua-
land, where a native named Le Fleur was organizing
a rebellion. Alarming rumours were flying about.
Many of the inhabitants formed laagers, and a large
number fled to Natal for refuge. There was no
force in Cape Colony available to suppress the trouble,
and the Natal Police were hurried down to the
border to protect the fugitives. A body of 170 men
was mustered, and as many of these were recruits
fresh from England, and without uniform, they had
a very uncomfortable experience while marching
through heavy rain to Ixopo, where the residents
were found to be in a state of great excitement.

A small body of the police went as far as the
Umzimkulu River to find out exactly what was
happening. They met large numbers of men,
women, and children tramping wearily through liquid
mud, the women and children driving cattle or voor-
looping, and the men driving wagons and horses.
Not one of them seemed to have any clear idea what
the danger was from which they were fleeing, though
they all stated that they had been warned by natives
to ” clear out.”

Native spies that had been sent out reported that
Msingapanzi’s people intended to make an attack
upon the magazine and secure the arms and ammuni-


tion it contained, but soon after the arrival of the
police the spies reported that this attack had been

Higher up the Umzimkulu a laager had been
established at Graf ton’s Farm, and early on the
morning of the 24th January 70 men of the police
were sent off to protect the refugees there.

There was great indignation at Ixopo on account
of the inaction of the Cape Colony authorities. It
was felt that the Cape Mounted Rifles should have
been sent to their assistance, and at a meeting of
residents a vote of thanks to Natal for saving the
situation was passed.

As the unrest amongst the natives extended to
Alfred County and the much-troubled Pondoland,
a force of 60 men was sent to patrol the southern
border. Later on they marched from Ixopo, joining
the detachment at the Upper Umzimkulu, and patrols
were sent to the Drakensberg. Towards the close
of the march the police arrived at Bulwer, after
having experienced ten days’ incessant rain.

As the Natal winter approached they were ordered
to the coast, but were delayed for three days at the
Lorana River by a snowstorm which had a disastrous
effect on the horses. A fortnight later the force got to
Ixopo, having entirely run out of supplies, and these
had to be ordered from Pietermaritzburg by wire.
It was nearly a week before they were able to resume
the march, and they got to Port Shepstone early in
July, spending three months at that place. While
they were there, fifty of the horses had to be destroyed
owing to an outbreak of glanders. Before the force
got back to Pietermaritzburg at the close of the year,
glanders again appeared, and many more of the
animals had to be shot, the total loss during the
twelve months being 103, equal to 20 per cent, of the
total strength.


When this field force had been at headquarters just
three days, orders came for a detachment to march
up into Zululand, which province had just been
taken over by the Natal Government. Within an
hour they were ready, and left under Inspector
Dimmick for Eshowe and Nongoma, the march being
accomplished over very bad roads, in constant rain-
storms, and during excessively hot weather. For
five weeks the rain continued, and horse-sickness was
rampant. On the top of this, neither supplies nor
letters could be got from Eshowe.

Early in February the police were ordered to
Emtonjaneni, to meet Dinuzulu, 1 who had returned
from exile at St. Helena, and on the way there they
had difficulty in crossing the flooded Black and
White Umfolosi Rivers. The party which the police
took back with them consisted of Dinuzulu, his two
wives, and five children, Dinuzulu’s uncle, with his
wives and children, Tshingana and his family, Miss
Colenso, who was one of Dinuzulu’s chief supporters,
several women, numerous servants, and a following
of about five hundred Zulus. All these people
struggled along the road for a couple of miles, when
the Commissioner of Native Affairs sent a message to
state that such a large following was unnecessary and
must be dispensed with. On the Ulundi flats, how-
ever, nearly a thousand additional Zulus assembled
to welcome the returned chief, and they proved very
useful at the Emfabeni, where the road was im-
passable. The Zulus soon made the drifts fordable,
and on the 23rd February the hill where the Usutu
kraal was afterwards built was reached, and the
police remained with Dinuzulu for a few days until
he and his followers settled down.

Nearly all their horses had died during this trip, and
out of three spans of mules, only five remained alive.
1 Generally spelt incorrectly ” Dinizulu.”


Inspector Fairlie took charge of the detachment
at Nongoma, which remained there until Dinuzulu
was again imprisoned, nearly twelve years afterwards.

The Zululand Native Police force was merged
into the Natal Police in 1898, the latter body taking
over all the European officers. Mr. Mansel, who
had raised’ the Zululand Native Police, now became
second in charge of the European body. Ten police
stations were established in Zululand, which was
divided at first into five districts. The horses died
rapidly, until the remount fund became entirely
exhausted, and a supplementary vote had to be
placed on the estimates.

An expedition left headquarters in Pietermaritz-
burg in April 1899 to locate the wreck of the barque
Dorothea, which was stated to have a huge quantity of
gold on board. Two trips were made to Cape Vidal
with a diver and diving apparatus, and though some
weeks were spent at the scene of the wreck, bad
weather prevented anything being done at that time.
The Dorothea has since become famous, for many
syndicates have worked at the place without success.
Each party has been accompanied by a member of the
Natal Police, acting on behalf of the Government.



THE Natal Police took a very active part in the
Boer War of 1899-1902, but they won little dis-
tinction as a body, for, from the very beginning,
they were split up into small detachments, although
it was hoped when hostilities began that they would
be formed into a field force about 400 strong.

The order to prepare for service was given at
headquarters in August 1899, and it was decided to
use pack-horses as a first line of transport. Pack-
ponies were properly fitted with saddles which bore
numbers corresponding with the animals. All loads
were weighed and balanced, and every man knew
exactly what his pack would contain, and where it
was to be carried. Mounted natives were to lead
the pack animals, thus relieving the Europeans for
fighting purposes.

Colonel Dartnell was invited to join the Staff of the
General Officer Commanding, and the first body of men
called out for service in Natal consisted of 25 police,
under Sergeant Woon. They were dispatched to the
Upper Tugela magistracy on the ist September to
patrol the passes on the berg, and watch any move-
ment of Boers in the direction of the Orange Free State ,

A curious point arose when the resident magistrate
desired to take command of the police in the field,
Sergeant Woon having been ordered to take his instruc-
tions from the magistrate as to the direction of patrols.



The enemy moved into Natal, and the question of the
command of the police was referred to the General
Officer Commanding. It was ruled that in all
military operations the non-commissioned officer or
even the senior trooper of a party would take charge
of his men, because a magistrate might lead them
into a tight corner, and not know how to get them
out of it. This detachment was subsequently joined
by the Natal Volunteers, and retired with them to
Ladysmith, taking part in the defence of the town.

A hundred men remained at headquarters, and
there were constant drill and target practice. They
were inspected by many distinguished officers, includ-
ing Generals Sir George White, Sir Archibald Hunter,
Penn-Symons, and Yule, every one speaking highly
of the first line transport and the celerity with which
the men were able to turn out in marching order.

Orders were received by the men at headquarters,
on the 29th September, to go to Dundee and await
General Penn-Symons, and just as they were ready
to march out, the Prime Minister telephoned to
say that there was considerable trouble with the
natives in Alfred County. When the men heard of
this they were, naturally, keenly disappointed, for
they had had quite sufficient of scares on the southern
border, and General Penn-Symons gave the order
that some of the recently raised irregular forces could
be sent down to the troubled area if necessary. Even
then, however, the detachment was prevented from
joining the General.

On the 1 7th October a party of Boers were making
their way through Umvoti County to destroy the
Inchanga Tunnel on the railway, and thus prevent
the passage of troops from Durban to Ladysmith.
A special train left Pietermaritzburg at once with
every available member of the Natal Police. They
encamped at Botha’s Hill, sentries being placed at


the entrance to the tunnel, and a special engine
being kept in readiness to move the men rapidly if

Just before midnight furious firing was heard, and
supports rushed down to the engine. It was found
that the sentries had shot at some figures near the line
who failed to respond to a challenge. Later it was
discovered that a European platelayer had had his
hat shot through, and he also demanded a new pair
of trousers ; and a coolie had been shot in the leg.
The platelayer had been told to patrol the line,
and as he had not been told of the arrival of the
police, he thought, when challenged, that the Boers
were in possession of the place, so he threw away his
lantern and bolted.

This detachment, which was recalled to Pieter-
maritzburg late in October, was subsequently broken
up, some of the men joining Colonel Leuchars’
column on the Greytown-Helpmakaar road, and
others forming General Duller ‘s bodyguard.

Orders were issued to all police in the Newcastle
and Dundee districts to hold themselves in readi-
ness to retire on Dundee, and this mobilization took
place on the I4th October, although the detach-
ment at De Jager’s Drift was left to watch the
movements of the enemy on the opposite side of
the Buffalo.

At this station there were Sergeant Mann and
Troopers Askland and Alexander, who were kept
busy patrolling the Transvaal border. When the
situation became more strained they were strength-
ened by the addition of Troopers Ferguson, Kenny,
Harris, and Atwood. They had instructions to
retire towards Botha’s Nek if their position became
untenable, and they were ordered to ring up Dundee
on the telephone every two hours, day and night.
Small parties of the Boers were constantly seen on the


other side of the drift. On the I4th October Trooper
Harris was captured while patrolling at the Emjanyadu
Hill, and a couple of hours later eighteen Boers
crossed the river and captured the police horses,
which were out grazing. Not a shot was fired, and
the animals were driven straight across into the
Transvaal. From their position the Boers could
see a party of mounted troops some distance away
on the main road, and, having observed these, evi-
dently thought they would secure the horses while
there was an opportunity.

Sergeant Mann received instructions to remain
at his post, and to secrete all arms and ammunition.
He was told that a party would be sent to their
relief, and while these orders were being sent the
wire was cut. Not long afterwards a score of Boers
crossed the river at the drift, and, galloping up to
the camp, surrounded it and made its occupants

Trooper Ferguson managed to hide himself away
and escaped capture, subsequently walking off wear-
ing a kafir blanket. The prisoners were sent to
Vryheid by mule wagon.

When the battle of Talana was fought, the police
joined the 6/th Battery and the Leicestershire Regi-
ment. Colonel Dartnell, with Sergeant Good and
Trooper Wright, of the police, accompanied General
Penn-Symons in the fight. Sergeant Good’s horse was
shot, and Trooper Wright was wounded, being shot
through the head. He died nearly twelve years
afterwards from the effects of the wound. General
Yule, who had succeeded to the command when
General Penn-Symons was wounded, feared that an
attack would be made by the Boer commando at
the Impati Mountain. The mounted men recon-
noitred, and reported that the enemy were there in
strong force. Tents were struck, it being decided


to form another camp and make a stand on one of
the spurs of the Indumeni, where trenches were dug,
only to be filled by rain-water.

Shells from the Boer commando fell unpleasantly
near. The British batteries attempted to reply,
but were out of range, and General Yule received
the disconcerting news that reinforcements could not
be sent to him because the troops at Ladysmith were
engaged. The rain continued to fall, causing the
greatest discomfort to the men, who had no tents or
blankets, and were short of food.

When the news of the Boer defeat at Eland’s
Laagte reached General Yule on the 22nd he made
a move in the direction of Glencoe to intercept the
retreat of the enemy, but the Boers were too strong,
and the General had to retire. That night, upon
Colonel DartnelFs suggestion, concurred in by the
Officers Commanding Regiments, he decided to make
for Ladysmith, travelling via the Helpmakaar road, and
the march began at 9 p.m. It was pitch dark, and
Mr. C. F. Dodd, an ex-trooper of the Natal Police,
guided the column out of Dundee. Orders were
given for strict silence, but the guns and transport
wagons made quite enough noise to let any Boers
who might have been in the vicinity know what was
happening. Without a break, the troops marched
all night, and at dawn had five hours’ much-needed
rest and a good meal. At midday the General
decided to wait at the head of Van Tender’s Pass
for darkness, before making a further move, and
that night the column was guided down the path
to the Waschbank River by Trooper Jock Grey of
the police. Again the column marched all night,
and when the Waschbank was reached, soon after
daylight, many of the troops were thoroughly worn
out. They slept there for some hours, but a heavy
thunderstorm caused much misery in the afternoon,


the river rising twelve feet and turning the country
into an ocean of mud.

The retirement was continued at 4 a.m. the
following day, and as there was no sign of pursuit
the march was conducted in a more leisurely fashion.
At Sunday’s River another halt was made, and the
horses were given an opportunity of grazing. Some
of the men on this occasion were able to strip for the
first time for five days. That evening troops arrived
from Lady smith to assist the column over the last
stage of the journey, and as Boers were reported to
be in the vicinity, General Yule decided to under-
take another night march, again in pouring rain. It
was a long and painful night for all concerned.
Mules, horses, and men were knocked up, and the
column was broken every few minutes. Once the
wagons stuck fast for two hours, and the advance-
guard, knowing nothing of this, went right away and
left them. Nobody was sorry when Ladysmith was
reached at breakfast-time.

While this retirement from Dundee was in
progress, General Sir George White feared that the
Free State commando, which was said to have
reached Bester’s Station, would intercept the column,
so, with the object of engaging the attention of the
enemy, he moved out of Ladysmith in the direction
of Eland’s Laagte.

He had with him a troop of police, who paraded
with the other troops at 3 a.m. on the 24th October,
and, with the volunteers, formed the rear-guard
until, about six miles out of the town, the 5th Lancers,
at the head of the column, came under fire. The
police and other mounted men were then sent to
form the advance-guard.

As soon as the infantry were in position facing
the Intintanyoni Mountain, the police and volunteers
were moved to a ridge on the right flank of the enemy,


who held a very strong position overlooking a valley,
and were about six thousand strong. From where the
Boers were they could watch every movement of the
British troops, who, on the other hand, found it most
difficult to pick out a target, the enemy having
excellent cover.

There was a kopje in the valley which dominated
the whole position. It was seen that a number of
Boers were making for it, and had they reached the
place they could have enfiladed the troops. Major
Bru de Wold, Chief Staff Officer of the Volunteer
Brigade, pointed out to the police (who numbered
about thirty) what was happening, and ordered
them to take the kopje. Hastily dismounting, they
ran down the slope and started to cover the clear
space, about two hundred yards in width, to the

The moment they left the ridge the police were
fully exposed to the raking fire of the enemy, who
had got the range nicely and were taking careful
aim from a distance of some six hundred yards.
Half-way across this space there was a farmer’s
barbed-wire fence, about five feet high, and con-
structed of eight tight strands. The troopers
scrambled through this formidable obstacle, not
without receiving many a nasty scratch, and in
scattered order straggled to the coveted kopje.

When they had taken possession of it the rest
of the brigade began to follow. Foreseeing disaster
as the men got to the fence, where they would have
been ploughed down while clustered there, Trooper
Dick Seed, of the Natal Police, raced back from the
kopje across the open space, where bullets were
flying thick and fast. With a pair of wire cutters he
made an opening in the fence so that the brigade,
which consisted of about four hundred men, could get
through quickly. He did this at the risk of his life,


for while cutting the fence he made an excellent
target for the Boers, who were uncomfortably close.

When the General considered that his object in
saving the Dundee column from attack had been
achieved, he moved off with the main body, and the
brigade on the isolated kopje was left, the whole
of the enemy’s fire now being concentrated on it.
It was obvious that they were going to have a hot
time as soon as they left shelter and started to cross
the open space again, so Seed gallantly hurried to
the fence and hacked a larger opening in it ; and
the brigade was able to retire at the double.

For his bravery Trooper Seed was specially
mentioned in dispatches, and as a reward was pro-
moted to be sergeant.

The fight at Eland’s Laagte had taken place
before this. Although the police took no part in
the action, several men were sent out at night to
assist the wounded, but this did not entitle them to
the Eland’s Laagte clasp.

An escort of police under Sub-Inspector Petley
took a party of 188 Boer prisoners down to Pieter-
maritzburg from Eland’s Laagte.

The members of the Natal Police in Ladysmith,
who numbered at this time about seventy, consisted
of the detachment from Newcastle (excepting Sub-
Inspector Petley and the escort for the prisoners),
and the men from the Dundee and Ladysmith
districts. Colonel Dartnell was transferred to the
Staff of General White, and Sub-Inspector W. J.
Clarke was sent from Pietermaritzburg to take
charge of the men, who were attached to the Volun-
teer Brigade under Colonel Royston.

Most of the Natal Police had their first experi-
ence of being under fire on the morning of the 3oth
October ” Mournful Monday.” They paraded at
two o’clock, and were ordered to join the volunteers


near Lombard’s Kop. They moved on to the ridges
running north-east from Gun Hill, and had no
sooner linked their horses under cover and reached
the top of the ridge than they found themselves
under a heavy fire. Three cavalry regiments under
General French halted near the place where the
Natal Police were, and as they offered a good target
for the ” Long Tom ” on Pep worth Hill, the troopers
had a good deal of the shell-fire drawn in their direc-
tion. There were plenty of stones along the ridge
behind which they could ‘obtain cover from the
enemy’s rifle fire. They were armed with carbines,
which, being nearly worn out, were practically use-
less, and were exchanged in the evening on the return
to camp for long rifles.

The firing slackened somewhat near midday, and
a Staff officer who was passing gave the police and
volunteers the order to retire. They returned to
their horses, and were just in the act of mounting,
when another Staff officer galloped up.

” What the deuce are you doing ? ” he asked.

They explained what had happened, so he said
abruptly :

” Oh, that was a mistake ! You must hold the
ridge until the infantry have retired.”

And so the mounted men returned to their position.
There was a great deal of confusion in other parts
of the field. Horses without riders were straggling
about in every direction. In one instance a horse,
with a dead man hanging by the foot in the stirrup,
galloped across the rear of the police, and mules
drawing ammunition carts, without drivers, were
stampeding across the veldt. One of the police, at
the risk of being court-martialled, went down the
hill towards several cavalry horses that had been
terribly cut up by shell-fire, and put them out of
their misery.


When the retirement began, the regiments became
badly mixed up, and in some instances there was
no attempt at formation. Soldiers left their rifles
and ammunition on the hills, and Maxim guns were
abandoned. The men, after marching all night, had
been fighting all day, and suffered badly for want of
water. The mounted troopers, whose experiences
had not been so trying, retired in good order, being
detained for a little while to act as escort to the
53rd Battery. This time the police were subjected to
a heavy shell-fire, and one shot cut a trooper’s horse
in half without injuring its rider. Thinking, even
at such a moment, of his clothing and equipment
account, the policeman slipped the saddle and bridle
off the carcase, and placed it on the limbers of one
of the guns.

While this column was engaged outside the town,
news was received that the enemy were advancing
from the west, and that Ladysmith was being bom-
barded. The men who were retiring realized that
the town was about to be besieged. The Naval
Brigade had arrived with their 4*7 guns, and it was
stated optimistically that before twenty-four hours
had elapsed not one of the Boer guns would be within
range of Ladysmith.

It was felt certain that reinforcements would
come to the relief of the town, and both Colonel
Dartnell and Colonel Royston urged tliat the colonial
cavalry, consisting of the Volunteer Brigade and the
Imperial Light Horse, should be sent out to meet
them. This was discussed with the General Officer
Commanding, but it was not until the 2nd November,
the day on which the last train left Ladysmith with
General French, that Colonel Dartnell was asked
if he could get away, as had been suggested, with
the colonial cavalry. The Boers were then all
around Ladysmith, and Colonel Dartnell replied


that he thought it could be done, but only with
heavy loss, so the attempt was not made.

When the siege of Ladysmith began there were
60 members of the Natal Police at Nongoma, 10 at
Nqutu, 84 at Ladysmith, 40 at Tugela Ferry, 40 at
Estcourt, and 120 at Pietermaritzburg.

The work of the force was being carried on as
usual at nearly all the small out-stations south of the
Tugela. A number of men had been specially enlisted
for six months’ service, many being ex-members of
the force.

As fast as reinforcements arrived on the coast,
they were hurried on from Durban to Estcourt, where
General Hildyard soon had a strong force under his
command. Before this the lower part of Natal was
practically defenceless, and anxiety was felt for the
security of Pietermaritzburg. If the enemy had de-
scended on that town, there would have been only some
Town’s Guardsmen and some recruits of an irregular
force, besides the Natal Police, to defend the place.

In the middle of November 4000 Boers under
Commandant General Joubert started south from
Colenso. The detachment of police at Estcourt had
been augmented by men from headquarters, and
these were ordered with other mounted men to patrol
the country and watch this raiding party. Eight of
the police reported on the i4th November that the
enemy were in large numbers to the south of the
Tugela, and again on the following day made a similar
report to the officer commanding the armoured train.
This officer, being sceptical, decided to go and see
for himself. The train on which he went ran into an
obstruction put there by Boers, and for some time
two field-guns, a pom-pom, and about three hundred
Mausers were blazing away at it . Part of the armoured
train, with about one-third of the men, got back to
Estcourt, and the police retired along the road.


General Joubert began to retrace his steps to the
north of the Tugela on the 25th November, taking
with him a large herd of captive cattle and horses.
No serious attempt was made to attack him on this
march, but the police and mounted men were directed
to keep in touch with the enemy.

For some time prior to this, Sub-Inspector Maxwell,
with 40 non-commissioned officers and men of the
Natal Police, had been constantly patrolling to the
north of Grey town, and for the valuable information
which they sent in, they were thanked in a special
order by the military authorities. This detachment
was ordered on the 22nd October to join Major
Leuchars, of the Umvoti Mounted Rifles, and was
moved to Tugela Ferry, being joined a few days
later by 60 of the Natal Police under Sub-Inspector

This force fell back to the Manuceni, about five
miles from the Tugela, when a large body of the enemy
were reported at the Mooi River. The Boers set fire
to the police camp and to a store, whereupon the
police and mounted rifles promptly moved ^out and
opened fire on the enemy with a Maxim. The Boers
kept up a hot fire for a while and then retired. A
few days later another skirmish took place, but no
damage was done, apparently, on either side. This
detachment of police was reinforced from time to
time until it rose to 180 men.

General Buller announced his intention early in
November of supervising in person the advance of the
troops to relieve the besieged garrison of Ladysmith.
He arrived in Natal on the 25th November, and
joined a strong force of British troops at Frere,
his bodyguard consisting of 40 men of the Natal
Police, under Inspector Fairlie. The remainder of
the police there were attached to a composite regi-
ment under Major Gough, of the i6th Lancers.


This formed a portion of the mounted brigade under
the command of Colonel the Earl of Dundonald. The
troops moved forward to Chieveley on the 1 2th Decem-
ber, the mounted men being sent scouting in front.

Two days later the plan was announced for the
attack on Hlangwane Hill, and while it was still dark
on the following morning the police moved out as
part of the advance-guard. The mountain was
occupied by the enemy, who were shelled by the
7th Battery Field Artillery, the composite regiment
accompanying them. The Irish Brigade and Colonel
Long’s guns met with disaster, and the mounted men,
who were under a very heavy fire, were ordered to
stand fast. It was an hour after the troops were
ordered to retire that the mounted men received
similar instructions, and though they were being
heavily attacked the movement was well executed.
The police had considerable difficulty in bringing
away the Maxim gun, which had been hotly engaged.

Several of the police had narrow escapes during the
day. A shell went between the legs of one of General
Buller’s escort while he was resting on an ant-hill.

A section of General Buller’s force was withdrawn
to Frere, owing to scarcity of water, but the composite
regiment stayed at Chieveley, and reconnoitred in
the direction of the Tugela.

General Buller started in a westerly direction on
the loth January, and as it had been raining heavily
for three days, this was a very arduous undertaking.
The infantry, following the transport, had to flounder
through a sea of mud, but the mounted men, being
in the advance-guard, were better off. The composite
regiment had left to hold Springfield, and next day
moved on to Potgieter’s Drift, where a punt was
seized and brought to the south side of the river,
under a heavy fire from the Boers.

When darkness had fallen on the i6th January,


General Warren’s column, to which was attached
the composite regiment, marched to Trichard’s
Drift, where the Royal Engineers made a pontoon
bridge. The mounted men, however, were ordered to
get across the drift, and many of them had narrow
escapes from drowning.

A private of the I4th Hussars was swept down the
flooded stream. Trooper Roddy, of the Natal Police,
while standing on the bank some distance away,
saw what had happened. Without a moment’s
pause he plunged into the river fully equipped,
bearing the weight of his revolver, bandoliers, and
ammunition. He got to the drowning man and
brought him back to shore, but all efforts to resusci-
tate the Hussar failed.

For this act of bravery, which was witnessed
by the whole brigade, Roddy was rewarded with
the Royal Humane Society medal.

The difficulties encountered in crossing the
flooded river may be judged by the fact that without
any rest being taken it took twenty-six hours to get
the transport over the pontoon bridge.

While this operation was being carried on, patrols
of the police were sent out, and in the afternoon a
party of about three hundred Boers were seen riding
down from Tabanyama towards the store at Venter’s
Drift. An attempt was made to ambuscade them,
and the mounted men, by galloping at full speed,
seized two kopjes to the west of the store. The Boers
had no suspicion of the presence of the enemy, until
some one carelessly fired a rifle, and then there was
a general fusillade. The majority of the Boers
turned and escaped, but some of them sheltered
behind neighbouring boulders, and spiritedly replied
to the fire. Supports were brought up, and the
Boers surrendered, their total of killed, wounded,
and captured being about fifty.


The police continued to guard the left flank of
the troops until the 2Oth January, when the force
was split up.

On the 1 2th January a further movement for the
relief of Lady smith was announced, and the column
started from Chieveley, the mounted brigade covering
its flanks. The police took part in the capture of
the Cingolo Hill. Lord Dundonald decided to attack
it from the rear, and then forced his way up a steep
hill covered with boulders, where he surprised a com-
mando of 300 Boers, who were so intent on watch-
ing the infantry that they neglected the rear. The
police reached the summit first, and after a slight
skirmish the whole mountain was in the hands of
the British force, the mounted men spending the
night on the position they had won.

Early on the 2oth February it was discovered
that the Boers had abandoned Colenso, and all their
positions to the south of the Tugela ; and a week
later the final operations were started. The Boers
retired from a strong position on the north of the
Tugela, and General Buller advanced towards



THERE were 84 members of the Natal Police in
Ladysmith when the siege began. Colonel Dartnell
was attached to the Staff with General White ;
Inspector Dorehill acted as District Officer, taking
no part in the military operations ; and the two
officers serving with the Natal Police field force
were Inspector Little and Sub-Inspector W. J.
Clarke. The force formed a unit in the Volunteer
Brigade under Colonel Royston, Commandant of
volunteers, but were under canvas in the centre of
the town instead of joining the camp of the volun-

The Boer gun on Pepworth’s Hill came into
action on the 3oth October, and the military moved
to a position as little exposed as possible. The
shells from Pep worth’s Hill came rather close to
the police camp, and on the 3rd November one of
their horses was wounded.

In the early days of the siege the police provided
pickets on the banks of the river at night, returning
to camp at 5 a.m. On the 4th November one of the
wounded prisoners sent in by the Boers was Trooper
Wright. He had been shot through the head when
accompanying Colonel Dartnell, who brought General
Penn-Symons out of the action at Talana.

Lieutenant Hooper, of the 5th Lancers, arrived

in Ladysmith with dispatches for Sir George White



from Pietermaritzburg on the 6th November, having
succeeded in evading the Boer pickets. He was
guided from Estcourt to Onderbrook Spruit by
Trooper S. H. Martin, of the Natal Police.

Shortly after leaving Estcourt, they were caught
in a very heavy storm, and in consequence thought
it safe to ride along the main road as far as Colenso.
Near the railway gates they came across one of the
enemy lying in the road dead, and also two horses.

On entering the village, they observed a flash-
light in one of the houses, and thought it was a
signal to the bridge. They crossed safely, however,
but shortly afterwards lost their way while ascending
the hill on the opposite bank, the night being pitch
dark. Eventually they found the right track, and
travelled onwards for five or six miles, passing through
the enemy’s first camp of about eighty tents on the
right-hand side of the track. They went unchal-
lenged and continued the journey, inclining to the
left to avoid another laager which was right across
their path.

Coming to a kraal which they thought was in-
habited by natives, on account of the barking of
dogs, they were surprised to hear the Dutch language
being spoken, so made off hurriedly in another

At dawn, parties of the enemy could be seen all
over the veldt, and just as they were going to cross
a road, a native ran towards them, shouting that
there was a very large Boer commando over the
brow of a hill, about three hundred yards away.
Trooper Martin got off his horse and crept to the
top of the ridge, where he looked down on the enemy’s
camp, fires being scattered over a large area.

This obstacle necessitated their retracing their
way for about eight miles. They rode along the
side of a hill and descended into a valley, where the


enemy’s patrols could be seen moving about, and
where many tents were pitched.

As they drew near the residence of Canon
Troughton, a native approached them cautiously.
They went towards him, and asked what chance
he thought they had of getting into Ladysmith. He
laughed, and replied that all the main roads and
drifts were thoroughly guarded. This native had
been sent by Mrs. Troughton to warn the dispatch
riders. She afterwards told them she had seen
in the distance that they were English.

They went up to the house, being met at the
gate by Mrs. Troughton, and a few minutes after-
wards one of the enemy’s patrols arrived, and de-
manded information concerning the two white men
whom they had sighted. They were answered by
a white man who was working for the Troughtons,
and being satisfied, did not search the house.

Seeing that they had got into a tight corner, and
were in imminent risk of being captured, they read
the dispatch, which had been written on cigarette
papers, and then burnt it, in accordance with orders
which they had received before leaving Estcourt.

The patrol remained near the house for some
hours before departing, and even when it had gone
the two men had to be exceedingly careful, as there were
two camps just behind the hill at the back of the house.

Eventually a native guide was found who knew
every nook and crevice of the veldt round there,
having lived in the locality all his life. He would
only guarantee to take one of them through, so they
tossed for the honour, and the lieutenant won. He
and the native left the homestead towards midnight
for the shortest but most dangerous part of the
journey, it being decided that if the native did not
return within two days Trooper Martin was to under-
take the trip.


While waiting, Martin ascended some of the hills,
and made rough plans of the camps, handing these
to General Wolfe Murray on his return to Estcourt.

The native returned at about midnight on the 6th
November, and gave the trooper a small note, which
stated that Lieutenant Hooper had succeeded in
getting into Ladysmith.

Next morning Martin left Canon Troughton’s
house, leading the lieutenant’s horse, but as natives
reported that the Boers had recaptured Colenso,
he was unable to return by the same route. He
pushed on throughout the day, and, making a wide
detour along the Tugela River, found a drift and
managed to reach some of the British outposts, who
promptly arrested him and took him before their
officer. The latter, on hearing Martin’s story, sent
him on to Estcourt with an escort of two privates,
and he reached his destination the same evening.

General Wolfe Murray complimented the trooper
on what he had done, and sent him to the Prime
Minister with the following letter :

” I desire to bring to your notice the services of
Trooper Martin, of the Natal Police. He guided
Lieutenant Hooper, of the 5th Lancers, carrying
dispatches to Sir George White from Estcourt to
the vicinity of Ladysmith.

” Trooper Martin remained with the horses in
hiding, within the enemy’s lines, until he received
word of the lieutenant’s safe arrival in Ladysmith.
I wish to record my satisfaction of the way he per-
formed an arduous duty, and trust his name may be
noted for advancement when the opportunity offers.”

Trooper Martin was promoted to be a sergeant as a
reward for his services.

Just as the police in Ladysmith reached camp
from their night picket on the morning of the 7th
November, a very heavy bombardment of the town


began, and until nightfall the troopers remained in the
bed of the river, keeping their horses well under cover,

When the firing was resumed two days later, the
police were told off to watch the racecourse side of
the town, and the horses were kept ready saddled
under cover.

Just after that the pickets were changed, the
police and volunteers guarding the line from the
point of Caesar’s Camp to Platelayer’s Cottage, and
this continued until the end of the siege, the two
officers of the police going on duty on alternate nights.
As a rule the pickets were formed by about equal
numbers of police and volunteers, the sentries being
pushed well forward at night, and withdrawn at
daytime to the cover of the thorn trees.

The shell fire from the Boers’ guns on the surround-
ing heights was kept up fairly regularly, and the
losses from it were surprisingly few. Things became
somewhat monotonous when the garrison had grown
accustomed to being under fire. Towards the end
of November rations were reduced, the stores being
denuded of jam, milk, and butter. Trooper Duncan-
son, of the Natal Police, was killed by a shell fired
from Gun Hill, next to Lombard’s Kop. He was
acting as cook, and while passing through the door-
way was struck in the chest by a shell which came
through the roof without bursting.

When mealies and hay began to get scarce, and
the long-expected relief column did not appear,
the rations for the horses had to be cut down. The
corn was required for the imported cavalry horses,
and the animals belonging to the police were allowed
two pounds of hay each per day. Wherever the
horses were grazed the troops near them complained
that the animals drew shell fire, and asked that they
should be removed. When the hay gave out alto-
gether, the horses were turned loose on the racecourse,


only being mustered occasionally, with the result
that at the end of the siege they were in excellent
condition, very few of them having died.

On the 2nd December communication was estab-
lished by means of heliograph with the relief column
near Weenen, where the heliograph party had an
escort of police. It was estimated that the weapons
on Gun Hill fired a ton and a quarter of shell into
the town that day, without causing a single casualty.
A strong force, consisting of the Imperial Light
Horse, volunteers, and the police, moved out at 10 p.m.
to destroy the enemy’s guns there. It was very dark,
and the force made slow progress. The order had
been given that strict silence was to be preserved,
but as there were over 600 men going over stony
ground the noise they made must have been heard
at a considerable distance. It was long after mid-
night when they reached the base of Gun Hill. The
Imperial Light Horse and carbineers went off to make
an attack on the right, the police being sent to the
left to prevent the enemy’s reinforcements joining
their comrades on the top. The movement was
entirely successful, but the police heard no orders
to retire, and only began to move back when it was
found that the rest of the troops were on their way
to Ladysmith. It was afterwards discovered that a
bugle had sounded the ” retire,” which had not been
heard owing to a hill that intervened.

Towards the middle of December the police were
attached to a mobile column, which was formed with
a view to assisting the relief operations. Heavy
firing could be heard on the 15th in the direction of
Colenso, and on the following day the Boers resumed
the bombardment of Ladysmith, one shell landing
within a yard of the police officers’ tents. Another
shell pitched into the police camp a few days after-
wards, all the windows of the police offices being


broken by the concussion, and an hour or two after-
wards a shell struck the foundation of the place where
they had their mess. The police refused to adopt
the shell-proof shelters, saying they preferred to take
their chance in the open rather than be killed in a hole.

Through the thoughtfulness of Colonel Dartnell,
and Major Karri – Davis, of the Imperial Light
Horse, the children of the besieged town were not
deprived of their usual Christmas festivities. All
the little ones in the place were invited to a party on
the 25th December, and toys from large Christmas
trees were distributed, after which the adults held a

Another shell came into the police camp on the
29th December, striking the ground between two
bell tents, but fortunately caused no damage, and
on the 4th January a shell wrecked Colonel Dartnell’s
tent, outside which Inspectors Dorehill and Lyttle
and Sub-Inspector Clarke were standing. Every-
thing in the tent was smashed, but nobody was hurt.

Sickness began to increase at an alarming rate,
there being 1650 patients in the hospital at the
beginning of the year. Out of a total strength of
850 men, the volunteers had 240 men down ; 30 per
cent, of the Naval Brigade were on the sick list, as
were also 25 per cent, of the Imperial Light Horse.
The only man of the police in hospital at that time
was Trooper Wright, and this was due to the fact
that they had alternate days of duty out of the
town. Their turn for sickness came later on.

On the night of the 5th January, 45 of the Natal
Police, with 24 of the carbineers, went out on picket,
the police being stationed up- the line to the foot of
Caesar’s Camp, and bullets began to fall in the neigh-
bourhood of their bivouac soon after midnight.
These shots came from the direction of Wagon Hill.
Thinking the Manchester Regiment were firing on


them, some of the police went up the hill to remon-
strate, but when they got near the summit they
heard words of command in Dutch, and came down
the slope at the double. As the day dawned the
horses were seen by the enemy, and before they
could be removed the Boers killed or wounded every
one ; though not one man was touched.

The police advanced on foot through the bush
under a heavy fire, Sergeant Woon, Trooper Pinto-
Leite, and Trooper Rivett being wounded before they
reached the base of Caesar’s Camp, within two
hundred yards of the enemy. Here they were joined
by the Natal Mounted Rifles, and the 53rd Battery,
which came out from Ladysmith with their big guns,
fired 1 38 shots over their heads, the rattle of musketry
at the same time being deafening. The Boers directed
a ” Long Tom ” towards the 53rd Battery, and the
bombardment was kept up by both sides all day
until 5 p.m., when a heavy thunderstorm came up.
The ground on which the police were lying was
flooded, and they were relieved by a picket of car-
bineers at 6.30, getting back to camp by a circuitous
route, the river being flooded.

The total loss to the British that day was 424
killed and wounded.

Sickness still continued to increase at a terrible
rate, there being 2400 patients in the hospital by the
middle of January, including six members of the
police force, four of whom had been wounded.

On the whole, January was a fairly quiet month,
the only excitement being caused by the shells, four
more of which pitched near the camp of the police
without doing any damage. In the distance some
Boer tents were seen to disappear, and it was thought
that the relieving column had made some progress,
but owing to cloudy weather nothing could be done
with the heliograph.


The men were now beginning to suffer badly
through lack of food ; rations were cut down to half
a pound of horse flesh and two biscuits per day per
man. All units except the police were supplied with
canvas troughs and blankets for filtering boiled
water, but as there were insufficient to go round,
the increase in the number of sick men may be
attributed to that. The volunteers, who were not
accustomed to this hard life, were in a sorry plight,
there being 650 men sick out of a total of 900. As the
police comprised the smallest unit of the Volunteer
Brigade they always came in last for the rations,
and only too frequently their supply of biscuits con-
sisted of broken fragments and crumbs .

As the days wore on painfully, and more of the
police became ill, their whole available strength had
to be sent out on picket every night, and they could
only muster 2 officers, 6 non-commissioned officers,
and 1 6 men. Almost the sole topic of conversa-
tion was the lack of food, and on the 27th February
rations were reduced to a quarter of pound of
biscuits and three ounces of bad mealie meal
per man.

There was joy in Ladysmith on the last day of
February, when Boers could be seen trekking to the
north in small bodies, and in the evening cheering in
the region of Caesar’s Camp announced the arrival of
the relief column’s advance party, which included
Sub-Inspector Abrahams and 15 of the Natal
Police. There was great disappointment when it
was found that they had not brought any food with

On the following day 43 of the police formed
the advance-guard, when a reconnaissance was
made towards Modder Spruit, where a few Boers
opened fire. The police worked round the flank,
extending in skirmishing order on foot and leading


their horses. As they cleared a ridge they came into
the line of their own shrapnel fire, which cost them
two horses. From the top of a hill they could see the
Boers loading guns on to some trains, and a message
was sent back to Colonel Knox for a fifteen-pounder
to shell the first engine, which would have resulted
in the line being blocked. The message came back
that the Gordon Highlanders were too exhausted to
act as escort for the gun. The mounted men moved
on in the direction of the trains, and were met by
a few shots, three of the Natal Police Inspector
Lyttle, Sub-Inspector Clarke, and Trooper Smith
being wounded. Orders came to retire, as the
infantry of the Ladysmith garrison were too ex-
hausted to overtake them.

The siege had lasted one hundred and twenty days,
and during that time 10,688 people were admitted to
the hospital. Of that number 600 died. None of the
Natal Police died of sickness until after the relief
column appeared, though there were then 21 of the
troopers on the sick list. Of these 7 subsequently
died equal to 8 per cent, of their strength.

When the welcome orders to march to Pieter-
maritzburg were given, the police were addressed
by Colonel Royston, who thanked them for their
services. He said they had always done their work
cheerfully, and without criticism ; his only regret
was that he had not had a thousand of the police
under his command, because in that case he would
have been able to make a name for them and for

When they arrived at Colenso they expected to
find railway trucks awaiting them, but were dis-
appointed, and completed the journey to Pieter-
maritzburg by road.

It was a curious fact that the police formed the
only unit not mentioned in dispatches, by the General


Officer Commanding, in connection with the siege of
Ladysmith. It was afterwards explained by General
White that though he knew of the valuable services
that had been rendered by the police, the Brigade
Commander, Colonel Royston, did not speak of the
force in his returns, and Colonel Royston died soon
after the siege.

Some excerpts from a diary kept by Sergeant Seed,
of the Natal Police, during the Ladysmith siege throw
an interesting sidelight on the experiences of the
corps during that trying period. Nearly every day
he began with the word ” Shelled.” On the I2th
November his record states laconically :

” No shelling to-day quite a day of rest.”

Other entries were :

” October 30. We started out at about i a.m.,
and by a roundabout way got into position under
Lombard’s Kop, where the fighting started at once.
It was a grand sight to see the way the artillery
worked, and we had a splendid view of the whole
field. The Boers had had a warm time when we were
ordered to retire. It was a fearful task to get back,
for we had to thread our way through thick bush at
a walk while they shelled us with heavy guns, but
they did little damage. I do not want this experience

” December 7. Shelled. We received an order
at 10 p.m. to turn out dismounted, and paraded
with the volunteers and Imperial Light Horse.
Nobody knew where we were going, or why, but when
we were well on the way it was whispered along the
line (everybody had been told to be as quiet as
possible) that we were to try to capture a ‘ Long Tom.’
We crept along silently, halting now and again to
listen whether we had been discovered. At last we
were halted. The Light Horse were told to assault
the centre of the hill, the police had to guard the left



flank, the rest were on the right. We all moved
quietly into our positions and waited. The Light
Horse went slowly and silently up the hill in the
darkness, which you could almost have cut with a
knife. A Boer sentry uttered a hasty challenge, but
was promptly ‘ outed,’ and a rush was made for the
gun. The guard was so taken by surprise that very
little fight was shown, and most of the enemy got away
in the darkness . In about twenty-five minutes, though
it seemed more like a couple of hours, the order was
given to retire. As soon as all the troops were clear
of the top of the line, ‘ Long Tom,’ with two of his
smaller friends, went up in the air. We all gave
three cheers and cleared off and it was quite time,
for beacon fires sprang up all round, for miles, calling

11 December 8. General White held a parade to
congratulate us on last night’s work.

” December 17. Very glad that the river picket
has been given to some one else. I have only had my
clothes off six times since the siege started. We are
all getting very sick of it. No news arrives. There
was an auction sale last night of all sorts of goods,
put up by anybody. The troops have next to
nothing to wear, and all the stores and the shops
have been taken over long ago by the authorities.
These were some of the prices realised at the

Bottle of whisky . . . .3150

Tin of Swiss milk . . . .056

Eggs, per dozen . . . i i o

One pumpkin . . . .050

Tobacco (common stick) per pound . .100

Twenty potatoes . . . . o 12 6

Cigarettes, per packet of ten . .046

“December 21. A shell fell into the tent of


Trooper Barnes of the Natal Police, but hurt nobody,
although we were all standing near, and there were
some wonderful escapes.

“December 31. Shelled. No news of Buller.
Things are getting fairly serious.

” January i. Heavily shelled. Colonel Dart-
nell’s tent was blown to ribbons.

” January 6. While we were on out-post duty
at the foot of Caesar’s Camp, some time after mid-
night shots came whistling into us like hail. For a
few moments we thought our fellows on the hill must
have made a mistake, and taken us in the uncertain
light for Boers, but our minds were soon at rest on that
point. The front portion of the hill was in the
possession of the enemy. They were immediately
above us, and it was wonderful that we ever escaped,
as we had to thread our way over rough ground and
thick bushes right under their noses for about a mile,
and we could rarely let our horses do anything but
walk. As it was, five of our animals w r ere killed, and
about the same number were wounded. Every yard I
went I kept wondering how it was that I was not
hit. When the horses were under cover we formed
and advanced, trying to get back to the positions
which we had been forced to desert. We got there,
but not before three of the police were shot within
a yard or two of me. When the artillery got into
action, the tide began to turn. The enemy were
driven back bit by bit, but they fought like very
devils, their numbers and the rumour that we were
half-starved, making them feel certain of success.
The fighting went on for thirteen hours, and at
nightfall rain began to come down in torrents, streams
of water running over our backs as we lay. Every-
body was exhausted when we got back to camp but
Ladysmith was still ours.

” January 14. Dined with an old comrade named


Buddie, who gave me the first decent meal I have
had for a very long time.

11 January 26. Sickness is very bad everywhere,
and we have next to nothing to give the patients.
One hates to ask about one’s friends now, because
the answer is almost certain to be f He’s in hospital,’
or ‘ He’s dead.’

” January 31. Things are just about as bad as
they can be ; the sick are dying at the rate of fourteen
or fifteen a day, partly because we have so little food.
We feel first-rate in health, but are terribly weak for
want of food.

” February 9. At the auction I saw a three-
penny packet of cigarettes sold for twenty-five
shillings, and fifty cigars fetched 10. Twenty
pounds was offered for a sack of flour, but the flour
was not there to be bought. Eight of the police
horses have been slaughtered for the invalids’ food.

” February 12. We were heavily shelled, and the
police had some very narrow escapes. We were out
for five hours cutting down thorn and brushwood
between our lines and those of the Boers. It was
hard work on our present rations. I do not believe
that there is a regiment here that could walk ten

” February 28. We have been relieved at last,
but I can hardly believe the good news. Rations
had been cut down again to a quarter of a pound of
biscuits and a quarter of a pound of grain. Late
last night the Boers were seen on a small kopje, and
we were all turned out expecting a general attack.
As soon as our gunners found the range, the enemy
dispersed, and we got back to bed just before dawn.

” March i. We had a short, sharp fight about
a dozen miles away with a large retreating mob.
We were in a very tight corner once. The advance
party, which consisted of about twenty of us, were


in a small drain that did not really give us cover,
and we were lying down holding our horses by the
reins for over an hour. Nobody came to our assistance,
so in the end we had to make a rush for it. When
we got under cover, we found that the whole British
force was retreating, the men being knocked up ;
and some idiot had reported that we had already
returned, so they left us to ourselves. During the
day a shell from our own guns struck the ground
about fifteen yards behind me. It drove a piece of
stone into my back, knocking me out of my saddle.
I was pretty badly shaken up, but no bones were

” March 5. We have started for Maritzburg.
Both men and horses are extremely weak, and only
covered about three miles before out-spanning for
the night.

” March 7. We reached Estcourt to-day, and as
soon as the tents had been pitched, a terrible thunder-
storm came on, water rushing through the tents
several inches deep.

” March 8. We are still at Estcourt, and 22 men
were added to the sick list, some of them having
tried to tackle solid food too early. The rest of us
will have to drag our weary bones and starved horses
on by road to-morrow.

” March 12. We are at Maritzburg. I was
fairly done up when we got in, and the poor old nag
could scarcely drag one foot after the other. If I
had dismounted to ease him I could never have got
into the saddle again. Thank God the whole thing
is over, although I would not have missed it for
worlds. ”



AFTER the relief of Ladysmith, the various detach-
ments of the Natal Police were very much scattered,
and it is impossible to give a connected account of
their doings during the rest of that war.

There were about 60 men at Nongoma, with
two Maxim guns, defending the laager that had been
formed round the court – house, and still farther
north there were small detachments at Ubombo,
Gwaliweni, and Ingwavuma.

The force at Gwaliweni consisted of 17 men of
the Zululand Police under a sergeant and two European
police. The Boers had established a post within
half a mile of this station, close to the Swaziland
Border. Instructions had been issued to the Zulu-
land officials that no offensive measures were to be
taken against the Boers, and the natives were told
to take no part in the operations, as this was entirely
a quarrel between the white men.

In October 1889, the Swaziland commando,
numbering 200 men, ascended the Lebombo Moun-
tains at Gwaliweni. Having anticipated this
invasion, the police had retired to Ingwavuma to
defend the magistracy, where there were 10 Euro-
peans and 25 of the Zululand Police. Acting on
instructions from the Natal Government, the force
evacuated their position, and retired to Nongoma
to join the field force detachment under Inspector


Marshall. The Ingwavuma men returned to their
station the following May, reoccupying it without
opposition ; but while the magistrate was absent, a
small party of Boers attacked the court-house. They
were driven off with the loss of one man and two

As soon as the war was declared the detachment
at Nondweni moved to Nqutu, where the magistrate,
Mr. C. F. Hignett, had under him 9 of the Natal
Police, 50 Zululand Police, and about 8 civilians.

There was a Boer commando near Nqutu, and
on the 30th January 1900 Trooper Wevell was sent
with a letter to the Commandant stating that the
magistrate would not hold himself responsible for
the natives if the Boers entered the district.
The commando appeared on the following morning,
being about 400 strong, and sent a messenger, under
the protection of the white flag, calling upon the
garrison to surrender. The magistrate refused, and
the cash in his safe was buried in a garden, where
it remained until the officials returned some months
later. As soon as the firing started it was seen that
the position was hopeless. The enemy soon got
the range with their pom-pom, and a shell came
flying into the court-room. The Government had
instructed the magistrate not to defend the post
against a strong force, and so a white flag was hoisted.
The native police, always keen for a fight, were very
much annoyed at this. Some of them refused to
lay down their arms and escaped into a plantation
not far away.

The police and other officials spent that night as
prisoners in their own gaol cells, and on the following
morning were mounted on broken-down steeds which
took a dozen hours to get to Helpmakaar. From
there, the prisoners were sent by ox-wagons to
Dundee, and they completed their journey to Pretoria


in a sealed meat truck, in which there was very little
ventilation. They were taken in horse-boxes to
Waterfall, where Trooper Collins contracted enteric
fever and died. These prisoners were released the
following June by General French’s column, and the
police remained in Pretoria on duty until railway
communication with Natal was re-established.

Three troopers of the Natal Police, named
Williams, G. B. Moor, and A. Date, took part in a
daring encounter near Nqutu in 1901. They decided
to seize some of the Boers’ cattle, after hearing that
it was the intention of the enemy to cross from
Babanango Hill to Isandhlwana to loot cattle belong-
ing to an Englishman who lived near there. Having
been joined by three other men, the trio of police set
out at night on their horses, but when they got to
Salutshana Hill a kafir stopped them and said there
was a Boer commando numbering 50 men just
beyond the top of the hill.

Making a detour, they got to the summit, and
saw the Dutchmen not far away, saddling up and
moving slowly along the side of Salutshana, in half
sections. There were only half a dozen men on the
top of the hill, but they could not resist the tempta-
tion to have a shot. Taking steady aim, they
emptied their magazines, and demoralized the enemy
for a time, killing six of them. As soon as the
magazines of the attacking party were empty the
Boers realized that there were very few Britishers
there, and they charged up the hill. The police and
their comrades leaped on their horses and galloped
for their lives. Williams had a narrow escape,
falling with his horse into a deep donga, but in some
extraordinary way both he and his mount avoided
injury, and, climbing out of the hole, got away.

The only colonial mounted troops remaining in
the vicinity of Dundee after the disbandment of the


Natal Volunteer Brigade were the Natal Police,
under Inspector Marshall, and the volunteer com-
posite regiment. On the I3th December 1900 a
convoy of 60 wagons was sent out in the direction
of Vryheid, under a strong escort, which included
64 Natal Police with two Maxim guns. When they
were approaching Scheeper’s Nek, Inspector Marshall
noticed some one taking cover in the distance, and
immediately gave the men under him the order to
gallop to a depression. They had just time to dis-
mount and lie down when a heavy fire was opened
on them at a range of about six hundred yards, but
only three horses were shot. The fire was returned,
and Trooper Aldwinkle went back, through a hail of
bullets, with a message to Major Wing of the Royal
Field Artillery to shell the position. This was done,
and the enemy’s fire slackened, whereupon the
police advanced in successive rushes to a stony
kopje. The enemy retreated in two bodies, one
making towards Nondweni and the other towards
Blood River Poort. Sub-Inspector Ottley’s police
Maxim section came in contact with the rear-guard
of the enemy, and the Boers, firing as they rode away,
killed several horses.

After Colonel Dartnell and his men got away from
Ladysmith, that officer took command of the Volun-
teer Brigade, he still being Commandant of volun-
teers. They took part in the capture of Helpmakaar,
but saw no more fighting during the war.

General Buller reorganized his columns for his
advance northwards, and the command of his body-
guard of police was now undertaken by Sub-Inspector
Abraham. This escort was in action at Alleman’s
Nek on the i ith June, the fight leading to the evacua-
tion of Laing’s Nek by the Boers, and enabling
Colonel Dartnell, with the Volunteer Brigade, to
enter Charlestown without opposition. A diary was


kept by the police during General Buller’s advance,
but this unfortunately has been lost. The men,
however, were with the General at all the actions in
which he participated, including Amersfort, Geluk,
Bergendaal (where Sub-Inspector Abraham acted as
A.D.C. to General Duller), Machadosdorp, Witcliffe,
Lydenburg, Mauchberg, Devil’s Knuckles, and
Kruger’s Post, and remained with him until he
returned to Natal.

Early in January one of the columns formed for
operations in the eastern Transvaal, consisting of
2600 men and nine guns, was commanded by Briga-
dier-General Dartnell. Several non-commissioned
officers and men of the police were attached to the
brigade, including Inspector Clarke, as intelligence
officer, Sub-Inspector Abraham, who acted as A. B.C.,
and Sergeant Newson, who was senior non-com-
missioned officer of signallers. The object was to
sweep the eastern Transvaal from the Delagoa
Bay line to the Zululand border ; and a column
started from Springs on the 28th January with a
convoy of 450 vehicles. Heavy rains fell on some
days, and supplies failed altogether for awhile owing
to wagons that were expected from Utrecht being
hung up in Elandsberg, the men being dependent en-
tirely on food they could capture from the burghers.
No commissariat supplies reached the column
either, from the igth January until the i$th March,
and during the greater portion of that time the
horses were almost without rations. General
Dartnell crossed the Intombi River and reached
Vryheid, after which he marched to Louwsberg, to
make a sweeping movement towards Zululand. The
column travelled to Utrecht, Newcastle, and Charles-
town, where General Dartnell handed over the
command to Colonel Bullock.



ONE of the most serious conflicts in which the
Natal Police have taken part was the defence, during
this war, of the magistracy at Mahlabatini, on the
28th April 1901.

About a score of the police under Sergeant Locke
had been brigaded with the Natal Volunteers for
some months at Dundee, when they received orders
to entrain for Zululand. From the Tugela they
rode up to Melmoth, where a standing camp was
pitched for some weeks until orders were received
for them to leave their kits and go on a four days’
patrol to Mahlabatini, to which place they rode,
establishing a camp outside the court-house. Every
morning before dawn a patrol of four men was sent
along the road towards Emtonjeneni, and this patrol
went out as usual on the day the attack was made.
As the men were riding past a mealie patch, about
two miles from the camp, a shot was fired, and one
of the patrol galloped back to camp reporting the
incident. The whole force was quickly saddled up,
and rode out under Sergeant Locke, with Mr. Wheel-
wright, the magistrate, and Colonel Bottomley,
who happened to be there. They rode quickly
down the road, and made a thorough search of the
mealie patch, but discovered nobody, so they went
along the veldt towards the Emtonjeneni store,
about three miles away, until they came to a place


where the road divides, the main track passing to
the left, and a path going straight on through some
wattle trees. The magistrate, with four men, went
along the road to the left, galloping to the top of a
ridge, where they came under a hail of bullets. The
sun was just rising, showing the troopers up very
clearly on the skyline, and providing an excellent
target for the Boers, who were concealed in the trees.

On hearing shots, the advance party of the men
who had gone along the path got into skirmishing
order, and entered the trees, where they were am-
bushed. They were shot down to a man, every
one of them receiving two or more wounds.

The remainder of the troop hastily opened out,
and arrived on the scene at a gallop, just as a Boer
named Van Neikerk, more courageous than the
others, came out of the trees to demand the surrender
of the whole troop. This was refused, so he instantly
fired, hitting one of the horses ; but he in return
received a bullet fired by Trooper J. Smith.

The police dismounted and took cover , spreading well
out. They fired whenever they saw the slightest move-
ment in the direction of the enemy, and after the fight-
ing had lasted some hours the Boers were driven off.

The dead and wounded troopers were placed in
a police wagon. Sergeant Locke had been very
badly injured within an hour of the opening of
hostilities. He was found lying on the ground
with his head on his saddle, Van Neikerk, also badly
wounded, being near him. Most of the men had
gone back to camp, and there were few left to attend
to those who had fallen. Sergeant Locke was with
difficulty lifted on to the wagon, which went slowly
towards the camp, but as the jolting was so bad a
stretcher was improvised. No natives had been seen
about all day, but fortunately at this moment a
party of thirty of them in full war paint appeared.


They were told to carry the stretcher in which
Sergeant Locke was lying, but they were in a violent
frame of mind.

” We cannot do it : we want to fight,” they
replied emphatically. It was only when the muzzle
of a revolver was held close to the Induna’s head
that he ordered eight of his men to act as bearers,
and this they did with reluctance.

The list of casualties was :

Killed : Sergeant Collett (who in one leg alone
received seven wounds), Trooper D. Cameron, Trooper
Salmond, and Trooper Nelson.

Mortally wounded : Sergeant Locke and Trooper

Wounded : Trooper Smith.

Sergeant Locke died the same evening, and
Trooper Aldwinkle expired about a month after-
wards. Trooper Smith recovered, and is now a
warder at the central gaol at Pietermaritzburg.

On the morning following the attack the sur-
vivors dug graves for their dead comrades, this
being a difficult task, as the ground all round con-
sisted of shale. As nothing better could be found
to mark the spot where the bodies lay, rough crosses
made from biscuit boxes were erected over the
graves .

The defence had been maintained by 3 non-
commissioned officers and 19 troopers of the Natal
Police ; it was afterwards discovered that the enemy
had numbered about 150, and the little British
force killed n of them. The rest went back, and,
thinking they had been opposed by a regiment, shot
their native spies, who had told them that there
were only a few men of the police there. When
they discovered how many troopers there really
were at Mahlabatini they sent along a disconcerting
message to the effect that they would pay a visit


to the camp on the first moonlight night and wipe
out every man there.

Two distinguished conduct medals were won by
members of the Natal Police during this skirmish.
One was awarded to Sergeant Smith, who was pro-
moted to be a first-class sergeant, and the other
went to Sergeant Evans, who was promoted to sub-

The following telegram was sent by Lord Kitchener
on the day following the fight :

‘ Please express to the chief magistrate and
Civil Commissioner, Zululand, and to Natal Police,
my appreciation of the gallant defence of the Mahla-
batini magistracy, by the magistrate and staff and
field force of the Natal Police. I greatly regret
their heavy loss, but in such a brilliant action losses
are inevitable. Please send names of any men who
have distinguished themselves.”

The following official message was sent by the
Prime Minister :

” The Government has learnt with deep regret
of the loss of so many brave lives in the attack on
the Mahlabatini magistracy yesterday morning. It
desires, however, to express its admiration of the
brilliant manner in which the Natal Police field force
acquitted itself on that occasion, when attacked
with overwhelming strength, with the result that
the attack was repulsed and the enemy were defeated.
I beg of you to be good enough to convey this expres-
sion of appreciation to the remaining members of
the field force who took part in this engagement. ”



ON the day following the attack on the Mahlabatini
magistracy, General Dartnell’s column, which had
been taken over by Colonel Bullock, moved to the
neighbourhood of Blauw Kop on the Vaal River,
round which it wandered for some weeks, making
unsuccessful efforts to capture small bodies of Boers
who moved about very rapidly, and continually sent
very sarcastic heliograph messages.

A small number of the enemy were taken near
Amersfort, and others were captured while sleeping
on the banks of the Vaal. Several men were shot
by the enemy during the first ten days, and on two
occasions the troops were shelled. A combined
movement was made under General Sir Bindon Blood,
and for some time both the police and their horses,
besides the rest of the force, were on half rations.
About sixty oxen were lost within twenty-four hours
through poverty and exhaustion, the animals being
kept eight or nine hours in the yoke during each trek.
A grass fire swept through the camp at Ermelo,
and left many of the men in a disastrous plight.
There were several nights of intense frost, and heavy
rains towards the end of May caused such heavy
losses amongst the transport animals that the rate
of progress was reduced to one mile a day. The
horses and oxen were given five days’ rest at Stander-
ton, after which the men went south to Rolfontein,
and then on to Wakkerstroom to pick up more



supplies, returning again to Standerton, where the
command was taken over by Brigadier-General Spens.

General Dartnell had been offered another com-
mand, and the police went down to Pietermaritzburg
to join him, but there it was found that the Govern-
ment desired him to remain in the colony during the
visit of the Duke and Duchess of York (the present
King and Queen).

Elaborate arrangements were made to ensure
the safety of the Royal party, 400 of the police being
amongst those who guarded the railway from Durban
to Pietermaritzburg. Every culvert bridge, cutting,
station, and road-crossing was kept under observa-
tion, and in spite of this the train ran over a horse
near the Umsindusi Station. After the pilot train
had passed the animal broke loose from a platelayer’s
cottage in the darkness and got on to the track just
as the Royal train approached.

Before leaving, the Duke asked a number of
questions concerning the Natal Police, in which he
evinced great interest. He remarked that they were
the best dressed body of khaki-clad men that he had
ever seen.

On the 27th August General Dartnell took com-
mand of the Imperial Light Horse Brigade, to which
were attached a body of the Natal Police. The
brigade marched up to Harrismith near the border
of the Free State, and from there took a large convoy
of provisions for Bethlehem. All the natives having
been evicted from their kraals on the route, no in-
formation was available concerning the movements
of the enemy ; but while the transport was crossing
the Eland’s River, about 400 Boers charged down
upon the advance guard, retiring when the Imperial
Light Horse dashed up. Slight opposition was offered
on one or two of the following days, and the column
marched into Bethlehem on the 8th September.


To face p. 174.


From there a combined movement was made in the
Brandwater Basin, the enemy again coming in contact
with the column on the i8th September.

As it was reported that the Boers intended making
a raid into Natal from the north, the column marched
back to Harrismith, being in touch with the enemy
almost the whole way. At Harrismith it was learnt
that 1500 Boers were moving down into Natal
by way of the Nkandhla district in Zululand.
General Dartnell was ordered to take the 2nd Imperial
Light Horse to the Zululand border, which he did,
going by train from Harrismith to Pietermaritzburg.
Just after he had started, the Boers attacked the
Mounted Infantry of the Dublin Fusiliers at Itala
Mountain, near Nkandhla. The British force lost
80 men, but were unmolested by the enemy on
the following morning while retiring to Nkandhla.
Not far away, at Fort Prospect, a strong body of Boers
attacked the British garrison. The Zululand native
police assisted in the defence, which was successful.

On the 29th September Sub-Inspector Mansel
was ordered to take a convoy of 36 wagons from
Melmoth to Fort Prospect, with an escort of 20
members of the Zululand native police. The convoy
started shortly after midnight, the road being re-
ported clear, but before long they were attacked by
the Boers. Resistance was impossible with such a
small escort, and all the wagons were lost. Sub-
Inspector Mansel was taken prisoner, but the native
police managed to escape. The following day, on
their own initiative, they attempted to recover the
convoy, but the task was too much for them. Five
of the Zululand Police were killed in the first attack,
and two fell when they attempted to re-take the
wagons. Later in the day the sub-inspector was
released, and he got back to Melmoth on foot.

At this time another detachment of Natal Police


was constantly patrolling and searching the farms in
the Babanango district and a portion of the Vryheid
district, sometimes by themselves and sometimes
with the 5th Mounted Infantry, there being several
small skirmishes. A post was established at Emton-
janeni, and there a considerable number of police
remained for over a year until peace was declared.

At the close of September 1901, General Dartnell,
with his staff and a number of police, left Pieter-
maritzburg for Eshowe,and overtook the column which
had been ordered for Melmoth ; but as the invasion of
the colony by the Boers had been defeated, the troops
returned to Harrismith, over a week’s march by road.

In the middle of December the Imperial Light
Horse Brigade, under General Dartnell, arrived at
Eland’s River, where it was stated that General De
Wet was at Kafir Kop with 400 men, other com-
mandoes near bringing the strength of the enemy up
to 1 200. The men under General Dartnell were
ordered to Wit Klip, sixty miles away, each man carry-
ing four days’ rations. When they got there it was
reported by natives that De Wet had left the Kop
the previous evening, with the intention of attacking
a convoy at Eland’s River. General Dartnell decided
to follow them, and the next day a surrendered burgher
informed him that the Boers were going to attack his
troops at the Langberg with seven commandoes.
As they approached Tiger Kloof the advance-guard,
which consisted of Imperial Light Horse, was heavily
fired upon, and a field gun also opened fire on the
brigade, but the shells failed to explode, and did no
damage. The column closed up and was threatened
on the left by a party of Boers, upon whom a pom-pom
was directed. The firing lasted for about an hour,
and then most of the enemy drew off in the direction
of the Langberg, and worked round to the rear,
where they attacked Colonel Briggs’ regiment of the


Imperial Light Horse, which lost four officers and had
seven or eight men wounded. In the middle of the
afternoon the Boers retired and the brigade bivou-
acked near Tiger Kloof.

Few records are left of the doings of other branches
of the force during the war. Some officers were
detailed for service with the Utrecht – Vryheid
Mounted Police, which did duty in those districts
until peace was declared. Non-commissioned officers
and troopers were attached to various columns,
where their services as guides were exceedingly
useful. In the few maps that were available, little
was shown besides the main roads, the paths not
being indicated at all ; and as it was necessary on
many occasions to avoid the main roads, the police
had to lead the troops along kafir tracks. They also
acted as interpreters and signallers.

A good deal of disappointment was created
amongst the police on account of the fact that though
many of them were in the field until the close of the
war, only one or two, attached to General Dartnell’s
Staff, received the King’s Medal. The conditions
laid down for this decoration were that men must
have completed eighteen months’ service in the
field, some portion of which must have been outside
the colony in the year 1902, and that they must have
been under the command of a General Officer. The
medal was given to the Cape Police and the Cape
Volunteers ; and the volunteer staff in Natal also
received it, although they did not complete eighteen
months’ service, and saw no service after September
1 90 1 . The detachment under Sub-Inspector Hamilton
at Emtonjaneni were actually encamped within the
Transvaal border, but the General Officer Commanding
in Pretoria contended that these men were not under
a General Officer. A great deal of correspondence
passed on the subject of the medals, but without avail.



THE conclusion of the Boer War brought little rest
to the members of the Natal Police. The reserve
force consisted of 200 men of these troopers, and they
were attached to the Border Police force.

The men under Sub-Inspector Hamilton moved
down from Emtonjaneni to Dundee, where they
joined in the march, with the Natal Border Police, to
Vryheid, remaining there until the following October.
The reserve then left for Pietermaritzburg, and after
re-fitting, went out on a long patrol, through the
Umkomaas Valley to High Flats, afterwards going
to Ixopo, Mabedhlana, Indawane, Bushman’s Nek,
Underberg, and Bulwer a round the force had made
many times before.

Ten members of the corps were selected to repre-
sent the Natal Police at the coronation of King
Edward vn. These men were Sergeant Ingle
(who was drowned eight years later in Lake Sibayi,
Zululand) and Troopers Black, Bradshaw, H. S. N.
Brown (subsequently killed at Impanza during the
last Zulu rebellion), H. Campbell, Edwards, Harrison
(also killed at Impanza), Morgan, and F. W. Stephens.
This body, under Inspector Mardall, was attached to
the Natal contingent under the command of Lieu-
tenant-Colonel Greene, of the Natal Carbineers, and
on arrival in England was encamped with other

contingents at Alexandra Park.



In the early part of 1903 there was trouble with
the natives down in the neighbourhood of Umzinto,
near the Umpambinyoni River. Faction fights
assumed serious proportions, and as it was feared
that the inter-tribal combats might get beyond
control, the police were hastily sent down from
Piet ermaritzburg .

A force of about 30 men, under Sub-Inspector
Dimmick, made a quick trek in pouring rain to the
scene of the righting, where a number of the natives
had been killed. Very soon afterwards the field
force, under Sub-Inspector Hamilton, also arrived
from Ixopo ; and the operations were directed for
about a couple of months by Colonel Mansel.

Strong patrols moved through the troubled area
to quiet the natives, who were in a very quarrelsome
mood for a long time. The troopers endured con-
siderable hardships, food not always being obtainable,
and heavy rains during the first few weeks did not add
to their happiness.

At Indudutu there was great excitement amongst
the natives, who had assembled in considerable
numbers and were prepared for battle. On the
27th January 1903, a large party of Saoti’s warriors
crossed the Umpambinyoni, intent on slaying Ntembi’s
faction, but the latter fled, whereupon the invaders
burnt their kraals. The natives scattered over a
wide area of exceedingly rough country, and the
task of the troopers was a difficult one.

About eight huts were burnt before the natives
calmed down somewhat, the arrest of a number of
the assailants having this effect. The headquarters’
detachment was sent back on the I2th February, but
Sub-Inspector Hamilton’s men were not able to leave
the district for months, and afterwards they were
engaged far away in the northern districts, the
natives there being in a very unsettled state. The


detachment got back to Pietermaritzburg for Christ-
mas, the field force having been out for four years and
four months without a break.

In the April of 1903 the reserve force and all
available men in the districts were engaged for some
time in the difficult task of taking a census, after
which the reserves were sent to Durban to meet the
first batch of Chinese labourers that had been taken
over to work in the Transvaal mines. The Chinese
were guarded night and day by the Natal Police.

The corps lost its oldest and best friend in the
early part of 1903, when Major-General Sir J. G.
Dartnell retired on pension. He returned to
England, and though he is thousands of miles away
from the force which he commanded for nearly
thirty years, his interest in it is as keen now as it
ever was.

The men who served under General Dartnell revere
his memory. He had the courage of a lion and the
heart of a woman. He engaged the confidence of his
men and made their troubles his. His condemna-
tion and commendation were just, and made those
who received them better men than they had ever
thought to become. He was as faithful to those
under him as they were to him, and they loved him
as he loved them. General Dartnell erred only in
his charity and mercy. To-day the old troopers
speak of him as a man and a man they would follow
into Hades because of the faith they had in ” Hell-
fire Jack ” to get them out again.

As regimental as a button-stick, General Dartnell
was terribly severe when the occasion warranted
severity. Once a couple of troopers named Cantley
and Johnson had been out fishing, and their boat’s
moorings came adrift. There were some almost
water-logged skiffs near, and the men jumped into
one of these, one rowing after the vanishing boat and


the other bailing out for dear life. But, bail as he
would, the old craft sank within a few yards of shore.
Johnson would have been drowned had not his
colleague helped him, and they scrambled up the

Bedraggled and cheerless, they were walking
along, when to their horror they met the General.
For a moment he eyed the pair severely.

” Have you two fallen into the water ? ” The
question was rasped out in a tone of severe dis-
approval. When angry he had a curious habit of
holding the fingers of one hand in the air, and this
was known by every one to be a sure sign of coming
punishment. His fingers were held well aloft on this

” No, sir,” said Cantley, wondering what was

” Has this man upset you in a boat ? ” he asked,
addressing Johnson. The fingers were waving

‘ We went out in a boat that sank,” said Johnson,
11 and he pulled me out, sir.”

” Go to my room,” replied the General, in his
severest tones. ” I am living in a hut up there on the
right. You will find a bottle containing whisky.
Drink half of it and see that Cantley has the other

And the General walked off without waving his
fingers again.

General Dartnell was succeeded as Chief Com-
missioner by Colonel Mansel, C.M.G., who had been
one of the earliest members of the force, having
joined in 1874 as sub-inspector. He retired in 1882
in order to take charge of a force of native police in
Zululand later known as the Zululand Police.
When Zululand was absorbed in 1897 the European
officers who had had control of these natives became


members of the Natal Police, with seniority according
to the date of appointment. This made Colonel
Mansel second-in-command, until Major Dartnell

These changes were quickly followed by the ap-
pointment of a Parliamentary Commission to inquire
into the working of the force and to suggest any
necessary alterations. The Commission travelled all
over the colony, and took evidence from civilians,
Government officials, and members of the Natal
Police. Many of the Commission’s recommendations
were adopted by the Government, the corps bene-
fiting considerably in consequence. One suggestion
was that a certain proportion of first-class sergeants
should be allowed to marry, and many non-com-
missioned officers have since taken advantage of this



THERE is little doubt that trouble had been brewing
amongst the natives for a long time before they
openly rebelled in 1906. The kafir, always suspicious
when something he does not understand is taking
place, was puzzled in 1904 when a census of the colony
was ordered. It was explained to the various chiefs,
in front of gatherings of Zulus, that the Great White
King desired to count his people, and that they need
not fear that taxation would follow. The census was
taken, but on its heels came the poll-tax under which
each adult Zulu had to pay i a year for the privilege
of being allowed to live a very unfair tax which was
withdrawn in 1910. It is one of the most striking
characteristics of the Zulu that he deeply resents
being misled by Briton or Boer, and the imposition of
the tax, following on an official assurance that none
was to be imposed, stirred still more deeply the exist-
ing unrest.

For a considerable period the Ethiopian preachers
had been dinning into the heads of the natives their
gospel of Africa for the blacks, who were convinced
the day was not far distant when the white man
would be swept off the land, leaving all his goods and
the fruit of his work for his coloured brother.

Dinuzulu professed to remain loyal to the colony,
but strange messengers were noticed passing between

him and the chiefs in Natal ; and the disaffection



gradually increased, the natives actually killing
white chickens and white goats in anticipation of the
general clearance of the whites. They expected sup-
port from Zululand, and were told of ” a great
flame ” which was coming from there to exterminate
the white man. They left their work in the towns
and returned to their kraals in large numbers. The
police stationed in Zululand reported that Dinuzulu
was receiving messengers, but for their pains they
were laughed at in some quarters, the authorities
lulling themselves into a sense of security and peace
until it was too late.

When certain well-known natives were reported
to have visited the Usutu kraal a prominent official
expressed the opinion publicly that if the police
could not send correct reports they would be better
out of the country. Those reports, which still exist
at the police headquarters, form interesting reading
in view of after events. A detachment of the corps
under Sub-Inspector Ottley spent the greater portion
of 1905 and 1906 on the Umsinga mountain, where
the Ethiopian preachers were hard at work, and the
reports they then sent in were subsequently verified
in every particular.

The poll-tax fell due on the ist January 1906,
and the first sign of open rebellion followed almost
immediately. In some districts the money was paid ;
in others the natives refused point blank to submit
to this taxation. The latter attitude was adopted
at Mapumulo and Umtwalumi ; and at Henley about
thirty natives, armed with assegais and spears,
threatened to kill the magistrate of the Umgeni
division, Mr. T. R, Bennett, who was collecting the
money from the people of Chief Mveli. The chief’s
brothers identified the recalcitrant natives, and
warrants were at once issued for their arrest. On
the morning of the 8th February a small party of


police, consisting of thirteen Europeans and four
native constables, with Sub-Inspector Hunt at their
head, hastened by train from Pietermaritzburg to
the scene of the disturbance. They made their
way to Hosking’s farm in the Byrne district, near
Richmond, a trooper and a native constable being
left there in charge of the pack horse. A steady rain
was falling and a dense mist covered the hills as the
main body of men pushed their way on to Majongo’s
kraal. This was hastily surrounded and three Zulus
were arrested, but one of the troopers noticed that
on a ridge above a mass of armed natives were
watching the proceedings. Hesitating to cause un-
necessary bloodshed, Sub-Inspector Hunt clearly
instructed his men that they were to regard their
duty as police duty, and not to use firearms excepting
to protect their own lives.

Two troopers were left to guard the prisoners at
sundown, and the sub-inspector led the rest of his
little band straight up the hill towards the assegais.
When they were within hearing a halt was called.
Indistinctly the natives were seen in a very defiant
attitude, and they were advised both by the sub-
inspector and Miswakene, the native sergeant, to
lay down their arms. This they showed not the
slightest inclination to do, and as the darkness was
rapidly making the position more difficult, Hunt
ordered his men to return to the kraal and await

Their old fighting spirit roused and long sup-
pressed, the natives took this withdrawal of the
police as a signal to vent their fury, and in a few
moments the actual fighting in the long rebellion had
begun. The Zulus shouted, ” If you take the prisoners
there will be bloodshed,” and suddenly charged.

In the darkness none could discern clearly what
was happening, but a shot was fired, presumably by


Hunt. The Zulus made a savage attack, and assegais
shot through the air. Hunt’s voice could not be
heard, and Sergeant Stephens rallied all the men
round him at a wire fence. They were Troopers
Van Aard (the interpreter), Arnold, Hardgreave,
M’Clean, Olive, Wood, Clarke, and Norval. The
natives soon vanished, and then it was discovered
that Sub-Inspector Hunt and Trooper Armstrong
had been killed, while Sergeant Stephens had been
severely wounded with an assegai. The bodies were
recovered early next morning by a party of police
under Inspector Lyttle.

This first little tragedy of the rebellion was
afterwards reported upon by a board of inquiry as
follows : ” We regret to say that too much leniency
was shown by Sub-Inspector Hunt to the natives after
they had threatened his party with their weapons,
and this leniency was caused by the fact that the
police are in the habit of going amongst large bodies
of armed natives and dispersing them, the natives
never previously having seriously resisted the
European police on such occasions.”

On the day following this brief skirmish, martial
law was proclaimed by the Governor, Sir Henry
M’Callum, and a number of the colony’s forces were
ordered to mobilize for active service, the troops
being augmented by the Natal Police and twenty
native constables under Colonel Mansel. These
concentrated at Thornville Junction. A patrol had
in the meantime been sent in pursuit of the rest of
the natives who had taken part in the fight, but
nothing was seen of them for a couple of weeks,
although the search was kept up continuously.

A combined movement of all the troops mobil-
ized was made, and the rebels’ crops and kraals were
destroyed. The rebels even eluded an impi got
together by the loyal chief, Mveli, but one of the

OF 1906.


To face p. 186.


men, one Bunjwana, was caught on the 25th February
while the cliffs near the Umlaas River were being
searched. The police moved in skirmishing order
along the hill until they discovered the remains of
food, showing that the rebels had recently been
there. Bunjwana, securely handcuffed, was taken
to a very steep precipice where he said five of the
rebels were hiding. Sergeant Wilkinson, with five
of his men, descended a steep slope and gained a
narrow ridge along which they crawled for fifty yards.
They just had room to pass along, there being a sheer
descent of about two hundred feet from the ridge.
Bunjwana, still handcuffed, was forced to take the
lead, Wilkinson prodding him now and then with the
business end of a revolver to remind him that it was
an affair to be taken very seriously. Every man on
the ledge knew that the natives who were in hiding
could shoot them as they crawled. At last they came
to a position from which they could see the crevices
into which the fugitives had crept.

11 Tell them to come to us,” said Wilkinson to the
prisoner, ” and if there is any treachery your brains
will be the first I shall blow out.”

Bunjwana shouted to his friends that the game
was up, but the rebels would not leave their shelter
at first, fearing they would be fired on. The sergeant
told them they would not be hurt if they threw
down their weapons and walked with their hands
up. After a while they did this, and so bitter was
the feeling against them, that it was with the utmost
difficulty that Sergeant Wilkinson prevented his
troopers from killing them then and there. The
men were secured and conveyed to the top of the
precipice, where they were handed over to Sergeant
Court. They had had in their possession a Natal
Police revolver and a quantity of ammunition
taken from the body of Hunt.


Another of the men involved, named Uvela, was
caught the same day at Mr. Smith’s farm, Fox Hill.
For their valuable assistance in helping to trace
these men, three farmers, named Howard, Dobson,
and Boyd, were thanked by the Government.

A search of the Enon bush had been made by
Mveli’s impiy who came upon some of the rebels,
killing three and capturing a number of others ;
and twelve men in all were charged at Richmond
on the 1 9th March with murdering Hunt and Arm-
strong. They were also charged with public violence,
having taken up arms against the Government. The
trial lasted a week, and all the prisoners were sen-
tenced to be shot, representatives of the surrounding
tribes being warned to be present, but a cable was
received suspending the execution for the further
consideration of the Home Government. The
colonial Ministry promptly tendered their resignation,
as they felt that the authority of the Government
must be upheld at that critical juncture. The
interference of the Home Government was deeply
resented, and wildly excited meetings were held
in the region of Richmond. A proposal to lynch
the natives was freely discussed, but ultimately,
after several cables had been exchanged, the Home
Government recognised that the decision of this
grave matter rested in the hands of the Natal Ministers
and the Governor. The order suspending the sen-
tences was rescinded, and the Ministry resumed

As the murdered men were members of the Natal
Police force, it was decided that the police should
provide the firing party. At ten o’clock on the
morning of the 2nd April the prisoners were marched
down to a secluded valley near the village for exe-
cution, the ceremony being attended by a number
of headmen, European residents, and schoolboys


who played truant in order to see the grim per-
formance. The natives accepted their fate with
that calm indifference which characterizes them.

11 Do we sit or stand for it ? ” some of them
asked casually while black bandages were being
tied over their eyes a few seconds before their bodies
were riddled with bullets. *

There was a man named Bambata a chief,
who ended his days in a particularly unpleasant
fashion living in the land of thorns in Umvoti
County near the Tugela and ruling over a tribe
known as the Amazondi, which is the Zulu equivalent
of ” The Haters.” He was an ill-tempered brute
with an extraordinary love for kafir beer, and vague
ideas on the subject of other people’s property,
cattle-stealing being amongst his amusements. On
account of his peculiarities he was deposed, his
younger brother, Funizwe, being placed at the
head of the tribe, a trustworthy Induna named
Magwababa being appointed Regent. Bambata
went to Zululand a trip which he did not under-
take for any good purpose and then, recrossing the
Tugela, began to prowl about the country in the
vicinity of Keate’s Drift. While he was skulking
there with his men he received instructions by
messengers from the Government to appear in
Grey town. An impertinent reply was his only
answer, and as there were strong reasons for suspect-
ing that he was urging the natives to rebellion, it was
decided to arrest him.

Much trouble and the loss of several lives would
probably have been avoided had the action of the
police not been hampered in the first instance when
the warrant was issued. Colonel Clarke had been
ordered to leave headquarters with sixty-five of his
men for Greytown, to execute the warrant. They
were joined by forty men of the Umvoti Mounted


Rifles under Lieut. Nuss, and Colonel Clarke decided
to surround the kraal where Bambata was known
to be at night. The men were encamped a few
miles out of Greytown at a point overlooking the
thorn country, and the two officers rode out together,
so that they might lay their plans with every chance
of success. They made a long detour in order to
get near the kraal unobserved, and soon found
that Bambata was sleeping with one eye open. He
had no intention of being surprised if he could help
it. Silent Zulu sentinels were posted on the high
peaks overlooking the road ready to signal the

The two officers returned with their plan of
attack completely mapped out. Bambata was in the
trap and they were ready to capture him. To their
disgust they found on their return to the camp that
an urgent message awaited them from the auth-
orities, stating that the expedition was to return
to headquarters, as it was too dangerous !

A week later, the authorities again changed their
minds, and sent Colonel Clarke out with a detach-
ment of seventy-one police to endeavour to fetch
Bambata in. On the 8th March a force of 130 police
and 40 Umvoti Mounted Rifles entered the thorn
district at daybreak, intent on capturing the ex-
chief dead or alive. He had now left the kraal
where he had been nearly trapped, and was skulk-
ing about in the Impanza Valley, an extensive dip
between towering hills, covered with impenetrable
bushes of thorns, cactus, and prickly aloes. A road
from Greytown runs through the valley to Keate’s
Drift, and in the centre of this wild and lonely district
there was a hotel kept by Mrs. Marshall. The
occupants of this hostelry were in a state of alarm,
the windows of the establishment having been broken
by large stones in the night, and the people there




To face p. 190.


declared emphatically that they feared they would
all be murdered unless Bambata were captured.

The force .marched up the right bank of the
Impanza Valley over mountainous country. They
could only move in single file until they reached the
foot of a high, steep precipice at the head of the valley.
This had to be negotiated, and the men clambered
up as well as they could, finally reaching the kraal
of Umfihlo, only to learn that the fugitive had slept
there the previous night and had since left. He had
evidently bolted in a desperate hurry just before
the arrival of the troops, for there was meat still
cooking in pots, and clothing was scattered about.

The troops went towards Van Rooyan’s farm, and
on the way saw three mounted natives dashing
across the country in the distance. They took a
gap in a stone wall at a flying leap and vanished
and a few moments later the police learnt to their
chagrin that one of the trio was Bambata, and that
he had declared his intention of going straight on
to Zululand.

As nothing could be gained by staying there, the
force returned to Pietermaritzburg, instructions being
telegraphed to the authorities in Zululand to arrest
the fugitive there, but the elusive ex-chief could not be

His next move was a bold one, for he descended
on Magwababa, the Amazondi Regent, and carried
him off from his Natal home. He was followed by
the Greytown magistrate, Mr. Cross, together with
a number of police, who were fired on at the Impanza
Hotel. Taking advantage of the presence of the
police, the occupants of the building left it and
hurried on to Keate’s Drift, being disinclined to face
the danger attending the journey on the road to

Again the main body of the police were ordered


from Pietermaritzburg to the thorn valley, where
a force of 180 men arrived, and moved out in the
direction of Botha’s farm overlooking the Impanza
road leading to the hotel. The rebels had cut the
telegraph wires from Grey town to Keate’s Drift, but
a message sent via Umsinga and Pietermaritzburg
from Keate’s Drift was received by the police appealing
for help for some women and a child who were unable
to get away owing to a crowd of hostile natives
blocking the road.

Colonel Mansel, who was in charge of the police,
decided to go to their assistance at once. Ten men
were left to look after the tents and wagons, and
the rest moved down the steep hill into the valley
at a brisk trot. They went cheerfully, in spite of
the fact that they were already dog-tired, having
been travelling all night and moving continuously ;
but for four of them it was the valley of death.

As they approached the Impanza Hotel they
surprised two natives on horseback, who abandoned
their animals hurriedly and bolted into the dense
thorns, the horses being secured by the police. At
the hotel there was an amazing scene of wreckage.
It had been left unguarded since the occupants made
their hasty flight to Keate’s Drift, and the natives,
discovering it was at their mercy, had broken into
the place. How many of them entered it cannot
be guessed, but when they left it everything breakable
was broken. They discovered the liquor, and one
may form an idea of the wildness of the scene when it
is stated that they drank whisky and other intoxi-
cants to the value of nearly a hundred pounds. There
was an ostrich farm adjoining the hotel, and the
natives had ruthlessly stripped the tails of as many
birds as they could catch, feathers being left strewn
on the ground. An ox had been slaughtered the
Zulu develops a craving for meat when under the


influence of alcohol and its remains were scattered

Armed natives were seen on the ridges in the
distance, and it was clear that the police would
have been attacked on the road had their manoeuvre
not been sudden and unexpected. Before nightfall
they pushed on to Keate’s Drift, where it was found
that Sub-Inspector Ottley and his detachment had
made a very rapid march from Umsinga and barri-
caded the hotel. There were three ladies there,
Mrs. Marshall, Mrs. Hunter, and Mrs Borham, together
with a European child. Colonel Mansel desired
to convey them back to the camp at the other side
of the Impanza Valley, and for a while there was
difficulty in persuading them to leave shelter, but
at last a carriage was procured and they got into it.

Darkness was now falling, and the return journey
had to be made through the snake-infested valley
along the tortuous track overhung on one side by
mountainous slopes covered with boulders, and slop-
ing away on the other side into the lower part of
the valley. Before they started on their ride they
knew there was a horde of natives hanging about,
many of them under the influence of liquor, and all
of them only waiting a suitable opportunity to
plunge their assegais into the body of a white man.
An ancient native not in sympathy with Bambata’s
doings, warned the police that they would be attacked
in the Impanza Valley, and that as the track was
narrow and the men would not be able to turn easily,
the rebels would rush at the rear-guard.

Every possible precaution was taken against a sur-
prise, but the nature of the country prevented flankers
from being thrown out. Dense bushes of prickly
thorn skirted the track in places, and orders were given
that whenever these thick clumps were approached
the men were to dismount and fix bayonets.


A more trying situation for the nerves of the
men would be difficult to imagine. The first part of
the ride, as far as the dismantled hotel, was accom-
plished in safety, and there Mrs. Marshall desired
to search for a number of her wedding presents,
including some which she treasured highly. As
the place had been turned upside down by the Zulus
this occupied about half an hour. Just prior to the
halt one or two natives had been seen hurrying
along in the half light shed by the moon.

A few of the wedding presents having been re-
covered, the force left the hotel and mounted the
hill leading to the camp. There were four men
ahead acting as scouts. Fifty yards behind them
came the advance guard under the command of
Inspector Dimmick, and another 150 or 200 yards
in the rear was the main body with Colonel Mansel
in charge, the carriage containing the ladies and
child being in their midst. The little procession had
gone a few hundred yards and arrived at a bend in
the road with a towering hill at one side, when suddenly
a dense mass of kafirs rushed out of the thorns at the
foot of the hill.

The natives, who had been lying in wait, went
straight for the rear of the advance guard and at a
close range fired a volley. Nearly every one of them
seemed to be armed, and a hail of badly aimed bullets
whizzed past. Several horses crumpled up in a few
seconds, and one man was hit. The police, being
mounted, with their reins in one hand and a rifle in
the other, were at a disadvantage.

The first volley was followed by a wild dash on
the part of the natives, who got to close quarters
with their assegais. Half maddened with drink
looted at the hotel, and wholly savage, they stabbed
and threw their weapons with considerable effect.

It must be recorded to the credit of the white


men that though the attack came with dramatic
suddenness after a long ride, during which they were
held in constant suspense, they acted as calmly as
though they had been on the parade ground. Rider-
less and wounded horses began to plunge about in the
dark, but there was not the least suggestion of con-
fusion amongst the men.

The advance guard turned immediately the
attack was made, and as the Zulus rushed in they
clubbed them with the butt-end of their rifles.
Steadily they fought their way back towards the
main body, which had quickly dismounted and begun
to shoot at the black, moving mass. The kafirs,
between two fires, were checked to some extent, and
the advance guard pushed their way through them,
and then in a temporary lull of hostilities formed up
awaiting orders.

Some of the men who had been dismounted were
picked up, and Trumpeter Milton, who had been badly
stabbed in the back, was placed on a horse. Their
rifles were hastily slung alongside the saddles, and
drawing their revolvers, they made a quick rush to
the main body.

After their first check the natives worked round
the bush and attacked both flanks, sometimes getting
within a few yards of the column, but the thorns were
so thick at that point that they could rarely be seen.

It was a very hot corner for some time, and to this
day nobody knows how long the skirmish lasted.
There was neither time nor opportunity to look at
watches, but apparently the firing lasted about half
an hour. The Zulus had chosen an excellent position
for their attack, the bush and darkness giving them
such an advantage that they might have been able
to wipe out the whole column had their heads been
cooler and their aim more accurate. Gradually
they retired farther into the thorns, where it was


practically impossible to follow them. The troopers
took the attack so lightly that an attempt was made
to induce the natives to charge again, but without
avail. The Zulu war-cry was heard at first, and later
deep voices were heard shouting Ngene (which meant
” Come along into the bush “), but they did not
venture into the roadway again.

After a considerable pause, it being still uncertain
what the natives’ next move would be, the officers
discussed the situation, and the sad task of picking
up the dead and wounded was performed. Each of
the dead men had between twenty and thirty assegai
wounds, the natives having stood over their bodies
as soon as they fell and stabbed them time after
time. It was found that the casualties were :

Killed. Lance-Sergeant Harrison and Troopers
Ashton and Greenwood.

Wounded. Major Dimmick, Troopers Dove,
Braull, and Emanuel, and Trumpeter Milton.

Missing. Sergeant Brown.

Eventually the advance was resumed, although,
had the ladies not been present, the force would
undoubtedly have remained there until daylight and
raided Bambata’s location. The ladies had displayed
remarkable coolness during the attack, and when the
march was resumed they got out of their carriage,
which was utilized for conveying the dead and
wounded. For some distance the natives followed,
dodging from bush to bush, firing occasionally,
though without effect, and hurling abuse ; but after
a while they disappeared altogether. The ladies
covered the rest of the journey about eight miles
out of the Impanza Valley on horseback, and camp
was reached at 2 a.m., the troopers being thoroughly

In his official report to the Minister of Defence
after the skirmish Colonel Mansel wrote : “I would


bring to your favourable notice the excellent be-
haviour of the men, who were cool and quiet, and
obeyed every order with the greatest alacrity ; and
also the behaviour of the advance guard in fighting
their way back to help the main body. In the doing
of this most of the casualties occurred. I would also
bring to your notice the gallantry of Major Dimmick
and Trooper Folker and others who brought in
Trumpeter Milton who was severely wounded, Folker
carrying him in front of his saddle. The gallantry
of Major Dimmick and Trooper Folker in bringing
this man in under most desperate circumstances is
deserving of the V.C.”

One of the bravest actions performed that night
stands to the credit of Trooper Guest. The moment
the first attack was made some of the horses in the
advance guard bolted straight ahead in the direction
of Greytown. Amongst these was a terrible brute
ridden by Guest, who could not pull up for a consider-
able distance. When he stopped he could distinctly
hear the noise of the fighting, so he wheeled round
and galloped back in the darkness.

Trooper Emanuel’s horse had been stabbed, and
collapsed. Emanuel fell, and received the blow
of a heavy knobkerry in the centre of his forehead,
which almost crashed his skull in. He had just
fallen and would soon have been finished off, as he
was quite alone, when Guest galloped up, making his
way through the blacks to the advance guard. His
unruly horse was terribly excited, but when he saw
Emanuel he pulled up, and got the fallen trooper on
to the back of his animal, carrying the wounded
man through to his comrades. This was done by
Guest at the risk of his own life, and he was awarded
the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the same honour
being bestowed on Trooper Folker for carrying
Trumpeter Milton.


The night’s troubles were not over even on
arrival at the camp. The voices of the natives were
heard near by, and another attack was feared. Al-
though this was their second night without sleep, the
men were called out again for picket duty. They
stood to arms until dawn, hearing mysterious calls
and the barking of dogs in the distance, but nothing
exciting occurred.

Sergeant Brown’s body had not been discovered in
the darkness, and it was not known for certain until
the roll-call in the morning that he had not returned
with the little force. Two days later his mutilated
remains were found in the bush alongside the path
where the fighting had taken place. He had been
one of the most popular members of the force, and as
his body was badly hacked with assegais it was with
a feeling of relief that his comrades realized that his
end had been sudden. He had been dragged into
the thorns and quickly killed.

To-day there stands a lonely grave at the head of
the Impanza Valley, opposite the place where the
main camp had been pitched. It is within a few
yards of the roadway, miles from any habitation
other than widely scattered native kraals. At its
head stands a monument erected by the comrades of
the four men who died righting bravely in one of
those little British fights that never come before the
British public.



SOON after the Impanza fight, reinforcements in the
shape of the Umvoti Mounted Rifles, four guns of
Natal Field Artillery, and four companies of the
Durban Light Infantry went up to join in the hunt
for Bambata. The police moved off at dawn, skirt-
ing the hills in the direction of Keate’s Drift, over-
looking the Impanza Valley, but found no trace of the
rebels, and returned to camp at dusk. It was during
this expedition that the mutilated remains of Sergeant
Brown were discovered.

On the 8th April the police were under orders to
join Colonel Leuchars’ force, but as it was persistently
stated that the rebels had gone over the border into
Zululand, permission was obtained to join in the
chase after him there. Great difficulty was experi-
enced in getting across the Tugela, at Middle Drift.
The water was low, but the bed of the river consisted
of huge boulders, round which the wagons had to be
drawn, the whole of the track being covered either
with stones or soft sand. There were two wagons,
each drawn by ten mules, and one drawn by sixteen
oxen. So laborious was the task of crossing this
place that the men were hauling, pushing, and moving
stones the whole day before the three vehicles were
got to the other side, and the party bivouacked on
the bank of the river. There news was received from

a storekeeper that the rebels had passed, going into



Zululand the previous day ; and the police also met a
party of civilians who had been after the rebels and
missed them. The most enthusiastic of this crowd
was a one-legged man whose misfortune in no way
deterred him in the chase. He rode with the point
of his wooden leg stuck in a jam tin instead of a
stirrup iron.

The next day Fanefili’s store, south of the main
road between Eshowe and Nkandhla, was reached,
and there the detachment were met by Troopers
Smyley and Cartwright, who had ridden from
Nkandhla through the forest to deliver a message from
the district officer to the effect that the forest road
was unsafe, as many natives had been seen in the
district. Having delivered their message, and stayed
the night there, Smyley and Cartwright went back
to their station by the road concerning which they
had given the warning.

Colonel Mansel decided to take another route
Galloway’s road to Nkandhla, sending the wagons
round by Eshowe and Melmoth. The march was a
long and tiring one, over mountainous country, the
police being accompanied by nearly a hundred of the
Zululand Police on foot. The Colonel was informed
that Sikananda’s tribe, which was in a state of re-
bellion, might attack the party at any moment, but
the troopers pushed on as rapidly as possible, and it
was dark when they reached the Nkandhla gaol, both
men and beasts being exhausted. There had been
great uneasiness amongst the garrison there, and the
advent of the police was greeted with cheers from the
Zululand Mounted Rifles, who were stationed there to
the number of about a hundred. With the total force
now in the gaol yard the laager was safe even if every
impi in Zululand had hurled itself against the solid
walls ; but the natives were not so foolish as to try
the experiment.


The horses were picketed in the yard, and the
cells were occupied by thirty women and children.
Incidentally, a son was born to Mrs. Charles M’Kenzie
in the gaol. It was a boy, and was promptly known
as ” Bambata M’Kenzie.”

Pickets outside the laager had an exciting time,
for rumours of coming attacks were constant. So
difficult was it to follow the movements of the enemy
that practically every day even the friendly chiefs
brought in news that an impi not far away was going
to make an attack at dawn. Naturally such warnings
could not be disregarded, and many a sleepy trooper
cursed the friendly natives when he had to roll out at
some unearthly hour only to find that nothing had

There was a barbed wire entanglement round the
gaol, and the troopers slept by the side of the trenches
just within the wire, the orders being that as soon as
an alarm was given the men were to enter the trenches.
One night when it was raining hard, a shot was heard,
waking everybody up. The outlying pickets were
at once called in some of them did not need any
calling and everybody stood to arms for hours.
Nothing happened, however, and later it leaked out
that the shot had been accidentally fired by one of
the native police. Scares of this kind were continu-
ally occurring.

In the middle of April a number of civilians
working on gold mines in the district, wishing to join
in the excitement of warfare, asked permission to
picket Signal Hill. This was granted, and the change
enabled stronger patrols of police to go out. The}*
nearly always found natives on the edge of the
Nkandhla forest, evidently placed there to watch the
movements of the force encamped in the gaol.

Bambata was reported on the 23rd April to be in
the vicinity of Qudeni Hill, so Colonel Mansel set out


with every available man at ten o’clock at night. No
rations were carried, as it was not expected the men
would be away very long, but the march was kept
up intermittently all that night. The force, having
failed to round up the rebels, returned to the laager
at six p.m., having been out for twenty hours. Some
of the horses were knocked up, and the troopers,
who had had nothing to eat since they went out, were

The following day orders came for the police
to move to Fort Yolland, together with the Zululand
Police. The transport again made the tour via
Melmoth and Eshowe. A quantity of rifles and
some ammunition were taken to Melmoth, where
about 1 60 people were huddled together in the
greatest discomfort, and constantly alarmed by native
scares. The transport out-spanned a few miles
beyond Eshowe, and at dusk Sergeant Neville was
sent out to them from Eshowe to state that two
miles away a chief was arming and would attack the
transport at night. As there were only five men, one
of whom was unarmed, escorting the wagons, a fight
would have been more exciting than successful, but
reinforcements, consisting of a hundred mounted
men and infantry, were sent out at midnight.

No attack was made, and it was discovered later
that there had been an assembly of natives. These
had gathered together to attend a wedding. They
passed near the transport the next day, peacefully
enough, but the police had been kept on the qui vive
all night.

The main body of the police, which went to Fort
Yolland by the Galloway road, had an equally
exciting trip. Passing along the edge of the bush,
they encamped on the top of a very high hill ; and at
dusk the forms of many Zulus were seen watching
in the distance. There was no water either for the



To face p. 202.


men or horses that night, and both were parched
after the long and tiring march. The animals were
ringed together, and as there seemed every prospect
of an attack at any moment, sleep was out of the
question. Every trooper spent the night, wide awake,
sitting back on his saddle which was lying on the
ground, wondering from which direction the rush
would come and when he would next see water. The
only thing they had had to eat was bully beef. They
munched it in melancholy silence on the top of the
hill, and this salt-saturated substance, when eaten
alone, produces an amazing thirst. The rumour was
spread in the night that there was a stream a quarter
of a mile away, and a few of the men, entirely dis-
regarding the danger of being assegaied, or the
penalties incurred by leaving the camp, crept away.
Though they did not admit having gone to the stream,
there is no doubt whatever that they did, in spite of
the risk of death.

It was later shown that a large impi was going
to make an attack, and heavy loss of life was averted
by Colonel Mansel’s decision to make a quick dash
towards Fort Yolland when the first streaks of dawn
appeared. With all speed the horses were saddled
and hastened down the hill, at the bottom of which
there was a spruit. Both the troopers and their
animals were longing for water, but strict orders were
given that no stop was to be made for a drink as the
spruit was forded. With the stream running up to
their knees the horses struggled to get their heads
down to it, but had to be urged straight through to
the other bank.

The trek to Fort Yolland was accomplished so
quickly that the natives lost sight of the detachment,
who reached their destination without being fired on.
The discomforts there, however, were considerable.
All the men were put on half rations, and they had


to sleep in tiers on a steep hill. It was almost im-
possible for a man not to press on the trooper sleeping
just beneath him, and occasionally a weary individual,
losing his balance, began to roll down over his com-
rades. A few acid comments would be made at such
moments, for the men were not in too good a temper,
and gradually they would fall off to sleep until a
similar incident occurred again.

The chief Mfungela remained loyal, and he
arranged to signal by means of a fire when he expected
to be attacked. On the night of the 2nd May the
signal was made, and the police hurried out to his
kraal, only to find that the alarm was groundless.
They returned to camp just as the Zululand Police
arrived from Eshowe.

At three o’clock on the morning of the 5th May
a strong force, consisting of 175 Natal Police, 100
Zululand native police, 90 Naval Corps, 30 Natal
Mounted Rifles, and 50 dismounted men of the Durban
Light Infantry, moved off in the direction of the
Nkandhla forest. Behind them marched 600 loyal
natives, chiefly men of Mfungela ‘s tribe. At the top
of the Komo Hill the mounted troops off-saddled for
about an hour and a half, and then the march was
continued along the road past Domville’s store, which
had been looted, until they came to a path leading
to Cetewayo’s grave.

A few hundred yards from the track there was a
Government forester’s hut, and this was filled with
rebels, who waited until the Zululand Police, under
Inspector Fairlie, were well within range, and then
opened fire on them. The shooting only lasted a
minute or so, the rebels leaving their shelter and bolt-
ing into the forest. One man of the native police
only was wounded.

The force soon reached open country again, and
descended the Bobe Ridge, leading down to the


Insuzi River. The slope was very steep in places, and
while the Natal Police were dismounted and leading
their horses in single file, a body of several hundred
natives, who had been lying in wait with Bambata
behind a small eminence, charged down on the
advance guard of the Natal Mounted Rifles and the
native police. The rifles there were only about half
a dozen of them there came back at a gallop, with the
enemy almost on top of them. The moment the
mounted men cleared the front the enemy rushed
straight at the native police, who stood their ground
magnificently, and in a few seconds had the foe in
check. The Natal Police hurried up, and for a little
while there was a sharp exchange of shots. Lead fell
like hail in the ranks of the enemy, until they broke
and, leaving a hundred dead on the ground, fled
down the ridges on either side.

This was the only time during the rebellion that
the police were present when the Zulus charged in
open country in the daylight, nor did they make more
than one or two charges in the daylight all through
the war. Their confidence on this occasion was due
to a statement made by their witch-doctor, when
he went through the ceremony of preparing them for
battle, to the effect that his ” medicine ” would
turn all the white men’s bullets into water the moment
they left the muzzle of the rifle. They were ex-
tremely valiant until they discovered that the bullets
that were flying amongst them were very real ; and
then their courage oozed and they fled, Bambata
with them. He was seen flying over the top of a
hill on a white horse.

A large number of Zulus were on the surrounding
heights watching the skirmish, and judging by the
manner in which they were seen moving through
the forest, they had not anticipated the force going
down the Bobe Ridge, but had thought they would


keep on the main road to Nkandhla, where an attack
had been contemplated. It was quite clear that
the troops were surrounded, because there was a good
deal of sniping from every direction, particularly
at the rear, where the Durban Light Infantry were
firing for some time.

The enemy were not pursued, and, having cleared
their front, the men turned towards Fort Yolland.
They crossed a stream which flows into the Insuzi,
and after many of them had had a refreshing draught
a number of dead Zulus were discovered in the water.
These were evidently men who, having been wounded,
had crawled away to die.

While everybody was crowded into the stream it
was noticed that the natives were coming down the
hills. They advanced in twos and threes until
they got within range, and then started sniping. The
rear-guard, which was now composed of Natal Police,
fired back, and the Zulus disappeared for a time.
It had been decided to bivouac for the night, but the
position was so unsafe that, though everybody was
thoroughly exhausted, and night had come on, the
order was given to march back to Fort Yolland
a dozen miles away. The infantrymen were almost
in a state of collapse after the day’s hard work, and
most of the mounted men gave up their horses to
those who had none.

While one spruit was being crossed two troopers,
who were the last men in the rear-guard, had an
experience which was somewhat unnerving. The path
down to the stream was narrow, the men being
hemmed in by bush until they could only go two
abreast. The long procession took a tremendous time
to get over the spruit, and while the men were crossing
the two troopers had the unenviable task of standing
alone at the top of the path leading down to the
drift, with bayonets fixed. There was no room for


any one else, so the rest of the rear-guard went on and
were a score yards away awaiting their turn to get
over the spruit. Meanwhile the Zulus crept up
unseen and unheard, until the two men heard the
peculiar guttural war-cry quite close to them in the
trees, and a shot was fired. Fortunately it missed.
All the time they remained at their post the two
men knew that the natives might get through the
bush on to the path leading to the spruit, and cut them
off hopelessly. The sniping was kept up with pain-
ful regularity. One Zulu appeared to have a ‘303
rifle. They could hear him moving about in the
bush, and distinguished the crack of his weapon from
that of the other old elephant guns and muzzle-loaders
when he fired. The two troopers were particularly
pleased when the moment came for them to hurry
on after the rest of the rear-guard.

At a donga a little farther on the dozen Natal
Police, who still constituted the rear-guard, came
upon a Maxim pack-horse, with two or three men
trying to readjust its burden. The little body of
police helped them, all the time dropping farther and
farther behind the procession. The delay lasted ten
minutes or a quarter of an hour, and they had no
idea how far off the main body were, for there was
dead silence, save for the crackling of a kraal which
had been set on fire. As the flames shot up the
party in the donga found themselves in a brilliant
glare, giving the snipers an excellent opportunity
to practise shooting. One or two of the police were
sitting on a rock, and a rustling was noticed in the
bush. It was the native with the ‘303 rifle, and for
a few tense moments he could be heard making his
way nearer and nearer. At last a crack rang out,
and a bullet struck a rock within a foot of the place
where Trooper Scott was sitting. His companions
remember fragments of his hasty remarks to this day.


When the Maxim was readjusted they hurried
up the hill on the other side of the donga, and en-
deavoured to get in touch with the column. The
pack-horse, however, was exhausted, and two or
three of the police had to push it up the steep slope,
although they were thoroughly tired themselves.
This further reduced the strength of the rear-guard,
which struggled on till the foot of a large hill leading
to Fanefili’s store was reached, and here the straggling
end of the main body was overtaken. That last
wearisome climb seemed unending, and had an impi
rushed down, nothing could have saved the men,
for they were beaten. There were still four miles
to tramp to Fort Yolland from the store, and no-
body needed rocking to sleep when they got back to



THE back of the rebellion was broken by the massacre
it was not a battle in the Mome Gorge, on the
loth June. The police, to the number of about a
hundred, under Sub-Inspector Esmonde White, were
attached to Colonel Barker’s column in the vicinity
of Cetewayo’s grave, when three men rode through
the bush to deliver a dispatch from Colonel M’ Kenzie
to Colonel Barker, giving him orders to waylay an
impi. Colonel M’ Kenzie was encamped on the ‘top
of the heights, and as the dispatch had to be carried
a distance of about fourteen miles through the
enemy’s country, and through the Nkandhla forest,
in the dead of night, he called for volunteers from
amongst the ranks of the Zululand Mounted Rifles.
Troopers Johnson, Deeley, and Oliver were chosen
for the dangerous but important duty. Had they
failed it is possible that very few of the enemy would
have been killed in the Mome Gorge. They suc-
ceeded in reaching Colonel Barker at 1.15 a.m., and
the dispatch they carried ran :

” You will please move at once with all available
men (leaving sufficient for the defence of your camp)
to the mouth of the Mome Gorge. I have informa-
tion that an impi is coming from Qudeni to enter
the Mome Valley between now and dawn. Try to
waylay it. … You must take your Maxims, in case
you meet the impi, which is reported to be of con-
siderable strength.”



It was pitch dark when the police were ordered
to saddle up. Colonel Barker’s column consisted of
three squadrons of the Transvaal Mounted Rifles, a
section of the Natal Field Artillery, a Maxim and
one Colt gun of the Transvaal Rifles, and 100
Zululand native police, besides the Natal Police.
This force was moved along the valley of the Insuzi,
strict orders having been given that the march was
to be performed as quietly as possible because it was
not certain where the enemy were.

About 50 of the Natal Police were told off to
escort the gun of the Transvaal Rifles, and this, as
it was hauled over the stones up the hills, made a
row that could easily have been heard a couple of
miles away, in spite of all the men’s efforts to make
as little noise as possible. On the force rounding
the shoulder of a hill near the gorge they could see
fires dotted about in the valley, which is shaped in
the form of a horse-shoe. There were fully three-
score different fires counted, the Zulus evidently
having a rest after their long march. Either their
sentries had not heard, or had ignored the rattle of
the guns over the boulders, for no sign of alarm was
observed, though nothing could be seen except the
distant points of light. Hundreds of men lay sleep-
ing in the depression, utterly unconscious of the
presence of the British force, which gradually and
silently spread over the hill-tops until the natives were
surrounded, trapped, and doomed.

Strict orders were again sent round that the
utmost care was to be observed in avoiding making
noise, and Colonel Barker planted his men quickly
and stealthily.

Inspector Fairlie, with the native police, and
Lieutenant Bettington, with the native levies, were
sent out to occupy a position over the gorge, with
the object of blocking the entrance and preventing


the Zulus from reaching the thick bush, at the edge
of which they were sleeping. They lost their lives
through superstition, for had they gone a little
farther and slept in amongst the trees they would
have been safe ; but no native would dare to enter
the Nkandhla forest the place where Cetewayo’s
remains lie after nightfall.

Two squadrons of the Transvaal Rifles, with a
Maxim, were placed on the ridge at the east of
the horse-shoe, and another squadron, with the 50
Natal Police and big gun, took up their position on
the western ridge. Other guns, with an escort of
Natal Police, were placed on a kopje to the south, to
cut off the enemy’s retreat in the direction of the

All this time, apparently, the impi slept peace-
fully. Besides the darkness, there was a slight
mist, and though not the form of a single Zulu could
be distinguished, some one, through impatience or
nervousness, fired a shot. A moment or two later
pandemonium reigned.

No fighting force ever organized could have made
much of a stand against such an appalling stream of
lead as that which poured down on to the sleeping
natives. At comparatively close range shrapnel
was hurled into their midst, and from everywhere
round them big guns, Maxims, pom-poms, and
rifles were belching forth shot as fast as the men
could work. Aiming was done by guess-work in
the direction of the fires, but it was remarkably
successful, for rows and rows of Zulus were after-
wards discovered dead in their blankets. They had
been riddled as they slept. Startled from sleep,
many of the natives grasped their weapons hastily
and tried to form up into a body, but the odds against
them were so overwhelming that they could do
nothing, and the slaughter was complete when the


first streaks of dawn stole across the sky. A few
Zulus crept away and escaped, but the valley was lined
with hundreds of torn bodies, and the sight when day
broke was one which brought a touch of nausea to
nearly every white man who had taken part in the

Bambata and Mehlokazulu, and other leaders,
were amongst those who got out of the valley. They,
with the remnants of the impi, passed along the
bed of the stream, but only fell into the hands of
the column under Colonel M’Kenzie. Bambata was
killed while endeavouring to escape into the main
bush. For purposes of identification, his head was
cut off. Mehlokazulu, who also fell, had been one
of Cetewayo’s fighting generals, and is said to have
been in command of the force which crossed the
border into Natal prior to the Zulu War of 1879, and,
having secured two coloured women, refused to give
them up. This incident to some extent helped to
cause that war.

There was a small bush at one side of the gorge,
and when it was light enough to see properly, the
police were sent to clear it. A good many Zulus were
turned out, and were shot as they ran, but Sub-
Inspector White’s men had some narrow escapes
owing to a number of the natives ” playing ‘possum.”
Pretending to be dead, they lay still, and then got up
suddenly to stab the nearest white man. Several of
the Zulus who had attempted this trick were shot
just as they were going to use their assegai. One of
the enemy was lying apparently dead across a path,
and Sub-Inspector White and several others stepped
over his body. A trooper, more inquisitive than the
others, looked closely at him.

” This cove is alive. I swear I saw him wink,”
he called out, and fired point blank at the Zulu with
his revolver.


The shot missed, and the ” dead ” man promptly
scrambled to his feet, starting to bolt down a side
path. He would not have got far, for several re-
volvers were levelled at him, but Mr. White told his
men not to fire. The trooper who shot at the native
on the ground had had his opportunity ; now the
Zulu was given a chance, and he disappeared, possibly
escaping altogether.

Later in the day the troopers and Zululand
native police joined Colonel M’Kenzie’s column and
drove the bush, many more rebels being killed, several
of them being shot in the trees up which they had
climbed. Only about twenty of the Natal Police
were able to take part in this last drive, most of
them being tired out. They had had sixteen hours’
work, and the marches had been over the roughest
possible ground. They had carried some rations,
but were hungry, thirsty, and exhausted when, long
after sundown, they arrived back at Colonel Barker’s

It was estimated that over five hundred Zulus
were killed during the day, and only one of the
British force met his death. This was Captain Mac-
farlane, D.S.O., of the Transvaal Mounted Rifles.
Only eleven of the attacking force were wounded, one
of these being Trooper F. Fergusen, of the Natal
Police, who was stabbed in the groin with an assegai.



A DAY or two after the Mome fight a signal came by
heliograph, with the last rays of the sun, ordering
the police, under the command of Sub-Inspector
White, to join Colonel M’Kenzie’s force about ten
miles away at once. From the neighbourhood of
Cetewayo’s grave they were to march through the
bush that night, leaving their wagons behind. After-
wards Sub-Inspector White admitted that that march
was as trying as any he ever undertook.

The sun had set long before they started, and there
was only the faintest light. With the officer in
charge, at the head of the party, there were ” Tricky ”
Johnson, Oliver, and Deeley (the Zulu Mounted
Rifles men who took the dispatch to Colonel Barker
which led to the Mome fight), Sergeant-Major Ingle,
and Ndhlovu, a native sergeant who has seen warfare
under many conditions, and whose assistance has at
times been most useful. Sub-Inspector White knew
the path over which his men had to travel, having
been over it before, and what he knew of it was not
reassuring, especially as they dared not show a light,
for it was not known where the enemy might be lurking
in wait for them.

There was danger of a sudden attack every yard,
for the bush was supposed to be infested with rebels,
and the path was so narrow that it would only admit
of one horse being led at a time.



When they got into the bush they encountered
inky darkness, and the men there were well over a
hundred of them had to keep hold of the tail of the
horse in front of them as they crept through the
gloomy place, hemmed in with thick trees, each of
which might have concealed natives. They had gone
about half-way along this track, and the men were
beginning to congratulate themselves on the fact
that they would soon reach the main road a wider
track closely hedged in with bush, where they would
at least have been able to make some sort of resistance
when those in front pulled up sharply. Ndhlovu,
feeling his way along the path, at the head of the
procession, with Mr. White at his heels, found the
way was blocked. A number of large trees had been
felled by the Zulus and lay right on the track. The
detachment had walked straight into a deadly trap
and were so closely wedged in that had the natives
been in the bush on either side the troopers would
have been massacred in a few moments. It was too
dark to see anything at all, and the track was so
narrow that it was utterly impossible for the horses
to turn. There seemed to be no prospect of going
either forward or backward.

Ndhlovu, baffled for a few moments, began to feel
his way through the felled trees. They had been
placed lengthways on the path, with their tops facing
the troopers a hopeless barrier in the circumstances.
At last he came back to Mr. White and reported that
he had found a possible passage through. With
almost uncanny skill in the darkness he led the way
over fallen trunks, round bushes and between trees,
until at last they came to the track once more, and
the whole detachment, hanging close on to one
another, followed, nobody daring to strike a light
lest he should be instantly pierced with a Zulu’s
assegai or hit on the head by his nearest comrade as


punishment for his folly. They had come out on the
” main road ” to the top of the bush where there was
a little more room ; and owing to the nature of the
cover on either hand the men marched on foot in
sections of fours, leading their horses with one hand
and holding their revolvers with the other, the rifles
being slung on the saddles.

The party owed their lives to the fact that the
Zulus never dreamed that a force would go through
the bush at night. They had laid their clever trap
to operate in the daylight, and had actually been on the
spot up to a little while before the troopers arrived,
this being shown by fires which were still smouldering
in the bush when the police came upon them.

Once they reached the open country they soon
got to the place where Colonel M’ Kenzie had pitched
his camp only to find that he had moved. Weary
and hungry, they hunted about, and it was midnight
before they found the column. There must have been
a curious feeling of security in the camp, for the
sentry had to be awakened at the headquarters’ lines
before the arrival of the police could be reported.
It was impossible to procure fodder for the horses,
which had ‘to be ringed for the night as they were.
The men were without food, and only had a blanket
each as extra covering. For many days they suffered
bitterly in consequence, getting their meals anyhow
and lying awake half the night shivering with cold.
Some of them even dug holes in the ground in order
to get a little shelter, and it was weeks before they
recovered their wagons with such comforts as they

During the operations round Cetewayo’s grave,
Sub-Inspector White on one occasion had charge of
the transport, some of the wagons belonging to the
Durban Light Infantry. As the roads were bad and
it was necessary to move quickly, Mr. White had

g I




given strict instructions that nobody was to ride on
the wagons. He was astonished, a little later, to
notice a figure huddled up on the top of one of the
vehicles, and, riding over quickly, told the man some-
what curtly to get down.

11 Don’t speak to him like that, sir, please,” said
some one attached to the infantry ; and the huddled-
up figure remained motionless.

” What do you mean ? ” replied Mr. White. ” I
gave orders that nobody was to ride.”

” But he always rides, sir. Please leave him

Somewhat puzzled, the sub-inspector looked more
closely at the figure and found it was that of a very
old, grey-bearded, wrinkled man who could not have
walked the distance to save his life.

” And pray how long has he ridden ? ” asked the

” Oh, for many years, sir. We take him about
with us everywhere. He’s our mascot ! ”

And Methuselah was left undisturbed on the

One of the most remarkable figures in the rebellion
was one Cakijana. There is no doubt that but for
him the trouble would never have reached the pro-
portions it did.

Coming of lowly stock he had four brothers
pulling rickshas in Pietermaritzburg Cakijana had
a wonderful brain, and remarkable power over his
fellow-Zulus. In the early stages of the rebellion he
reported to various chiefs that he had come from the
Usutu kraal. Dinuzulu subsequently denied that
Cakijana was his emissary, but many of the natives
believed it ; and in this way Cakijana first obtained
his influence.

He became a veritable fire-brand, travelling
rapidly about northern Natal and Zululand, stirring


up strife wherever he went. Before this he had been
imprisoned for theft ; but he was no ordinary thief.
By the sheer power of his own personality he became
one of the great Zulu generals. He took part in the
attack in the Impanza Valley, and murdered four
natives during 1906 because their views did not agree
with his plans.

After the storm and stress of the rebellion, Caki-
jana, with Mayatana, Rolela, Tobela, and several
others, wandered about Zululand, armed. Cakijana
always stated that he was the agent of Dinuzulu, and
created much unrest. Finally he gave himself up in
Pietermaritzburg, but was only sentenced to seven
years’ imprisonment, turning King’s evidence against
Dinuzulu, who was charged at Grey town with having
caused the rebellion. After a lengthy trial Dinuzulu
was acquitted on all counts excepting that of har-
bouring rebels, and was deported to the Transvaal,
where he still remains.

Since the rebellion ended, the Natal Police have
had a comparatively quiet time. One portion of
the field force was sent to bury the bodies of those
who had fallen at Insuzi, where the Transvaal
Mounted Rifles had beaten the rebels ; a strong de-
tachment was sent to patrol the district of Nongoma,
under Assistant-Commissioner Clarke ; and Inspector
Dimmick took a body of men through the native
locations in Zululand, the object of this being to im-
press the Zulus and show that the white men still had
a good fighting force at their disposal. There were
about 130 men under Inspector Dimmick. A patrol
covering many hundreds of miles was started from
Nongoma, the force going up into Zululand in Sep-
tember 1907, and passing through the districts of
Nkandhla, Mahlabatini, Ceza Bush, and the Usutu
country to Nongoma, where they were kept on
patrol until the arrest of Dinuzulu in December.


There was a large display of British activity at the
time, besides the police there being over a thousand
militia near when Dinuzulu surrendered to the
authorities at Nongoma.

The troopers, under Inspector Dimmick, resumed
their forced marches after that, many natives in
various districts being compelled to surrender their
arms. The orders were to ” keep on the move.”
Both men and horses were severely tried by the con-
tinuous marching, which lasted practically without a
break until the end of the year.

Another wave of economy swept over the colony
shortly afterwards, and the Government reduced the
strength of the Natal Police by 226 men, this practi-
cally abolishing the field force. Since then there have
been one or two small disturbances, such as faction
fights, both in Natal and Zululand, but these were
quickly suppressed ; and the natives to-day are
more tractable and peacefully inclined than they
have ever been.

The present Chief Commissioner of Police, Colonel
W. J. Clarke, was appointed to that office in November
1906. He has a longer record of service with the
police than any other man in the corps to-day, and
he has done that which no other man in the force
has ever succeeded in doing he joined as a trooper
and, working his way up gradually from the ranks,
became Chief Commissioner. Colonel Clarke was a
recruit in April 1878, and took an active part in the
early troubles. He was with Lord Chelmsf ord ‘s
column when it arrived at Isandhlwana on the night
of the disaster there, and has acted as dispatch rider
on several occasions.

Mr. Clarke was promoted to be lance-corporal in
1880, and corporal a few months afterwards, becom-
ing sergeant in 1882, sub-inspector in 1889, and
inspector shortly afterwards. He became Assistant


Commissioner of Police in 1904, and was acting Chief
Commissioner during the greater part of 1905.

Colonel Clarke was practically the first officer
commanding the field force in 1896-97, under General
Dartnell. The statement will probably not be dis-
puted that he is the cleverest police officer in Africa.
He has a genius for organization, and it is largely due
to this that the Natal Police, with their fine fighting
record, are the only body of men in Africa who are
at the same time highly efficient policemen and good


To face p. 220.



OWING to the difficulty of getting suitable recruits,
the Natal Police are at present quite a hundred and
twenty men under strength, and there are fewer
troopers at the barracks at Pietermaritzburg than
there have been for a long time. The handsome
building is on the top of a hill overlooking ” Sleepy
Hollow,” as the town is sometimes called, and catches
any breeze there may be on the hot summer days
near Christmas. Here, for many years, the recruits
have been enrolled and put through their early drills.
No very hard-and-fast rules are laid down concerning
recruits. They must be single men over 5 ft. 7 in.
in height, and physically fit, because those who
enter the corps must look forward not merely to
the romance of being mounted soldier-policemen
amongst the Zulus, but also to enduring hardships,
and enduring them cheerfully. The recruit only
remains at headquarters a few months as a rule
before being drafted to an out-station. There, in
times of peace, he has a life which a hard-working
man in England would regard as a perpetual holiday
on horseback. In times of war and rebellion, all
the manliness that is in him is brought out ; he
treks and rides and climbs until his powers of endur-
ance are taxed to the limit. The corps can make
no use of weaklings or shirkers, and it has been
the making of hundreds of men who would in all


probability have drifted through life aimlessly,
without a suitable opportunity to develop the best
part of their characters. There was a striking
instance of this in a roving character who went out
from England many years ago to join the Natal
Police. He had been rather wild as a youth, but
the idea of joining the force appealed to him, so
he walked straight to headquarters on arriving at
Pietermaritzburg and enlisted.

He had taken out with him a letter of introduction
from his people to a Natal farmer who had lived near
his home, but did not get an opportunity to pay the
call. Years afterwards, when turning over his kit,
he came upon the note, and, wondering what it was,
read it. The letter was in the following terms :

” This is to introduce a young fellow who has
never done any good for himself, and we are sending
him out to join the Natal Police. If you think it
advisable, you might like to see him. From what
we know you had better not.”

The point of the story is that the young wanderer
afterwards became and still is one of the best
and most highly respected Inspectors the corps has
ever had.

There have been men in the corps from Oxford
and Cambridge, and every public school of import-
ance in England. For some reason Cheltenham boys
have been particularly prominent in the police.
Since the Union of South Africa was effected the
recruits have consisted chiefly of young Dutchmen,
and as trade has improved a number of well-educated
men have left the corps to take up very good posts,
for which their training has particularly fitted them.

The recruit is first taken on as a probationer for
a month, and, unless he develops undesirable habits,
is enlisted as a second-class trooper, drawing pay
at the rate of 73. a day. He signs on for three years’


service, being promoted to first-class trooper at the
end of a year, his pay being raised to 8s. a day. If
re-engaged after three years’ service he draws 95.
a day, and after six years he is paid 93. 6d. a day, in
addition to any extra pay he may have qualified
for. Some alterations will be made under the new
regime, but in the past the troopers bought their own
horses and kit, the payment being spread over the
first three years of their work, and when they left the
money they had paid for their horse was refunded,
their kit also being put up for auction. At head-
quarters, messing and forage costs the trooper about
33. a day, but his expenses are considerably reduced
when he gets to an out-station, where fishing-rod
and gun generally provide welcome additions to the

During the first few months the trooper goes
through mounted and foot drill, and as he has lectures
on law and other subjects to attend besides ” stables ”
and other duties, his time is fairly well occupied. Life
begins to grow sweet for him when he becomes a
non-commissioned officer, though promotion has not
been very rapid in recent years owing to the fact
that the men who have held the good positions re-
mained where they were in the hope of living to draw
a pension. Lance-sergeants (there are no corporals)
receive the same pay as a first-class trooper ; a man’s
salary is increased by a shilling a day when he becomes
a second-class sergeant, and another shilling a day
when he becomes a first-class sergeant. A sub-
inspector receives 300 a year, this rising to 400.
An inspector first receives 450, which rises to 550
a year.

The present strength, including all ranks, of white
men is 680, the authorized strength being 800. There
are also 1106 natives in the corps and 105 Indians.

The headquarters barracks will accommodate 200


men and the same number of horses, though there
are rarely so many at Pietermaritzburg owing to the
demands of the out-stations.

Nearly every trooper who has left England to join
the corps cherishes the ambition to visit his own
country, so he often saves both leave and pay for
the first few years until he is entitled to a holiday
consisting of three months on pay and then a month
or two without pay.

^ Here is an incident in the life of a gentleman
trooper. An elder son, who chafed under the con-
ventionalities of life at home, went to South Africa
and joined the corps in its early days. Amongst
his family acquaintances were the Governor of Natal
and his wife. A day or two after the trooper had
joined, a lady friend handed him a small parcel and
asked him to give it to the Governor’s wife. The
trooper sent a note up to Government House, asking
what he should do with the parcel, whereupon His
Excellency wrote inviting him to luncheon. Having
finished ” stables ” and his other morning duties, the
trooper put on his best Bond Street clothes and,
looking very spruce, started out. ” Puffy ” Stean,
who was very regimental, and would like to have
seen his men always in uniform, saw him leaving the

” Here, young Johnnie, where are you off to ? ”
he asked.

” I have obtained leave, sir. I’m going to Govern-
ment House,” replied the trooper.

” Ho ! Indeed ! And what might you be going
to do there? ” inquired the sergeant-major, bristling.

” I’m going to lunch with the Governor, sir.”

11 So ! ” said ” Puffy ” quietly. ” There’s a drain
here that needs cleaning out.”

Knowing that it would be folly to kick against the
pricks, the trooper put on overalls and, rolling up his



immaculate linen, obeyed orders. ” Puffy ” had
chosen the task well, for the only possible way of
cleaning the mud away from this particular drain
was to scoop it out with one’s hands. ” Puffy ”
watched him scornfully for a few moments and then
walked away.

Having completed his task, the trooper took off
his overalls, and, with the aid of sundry toilet
requisites, removed all traces of his labour. Shortly
afterwards the hand that had been dutifully scooping
mud from the drain was shaking that of his Excellency
the Governor and that of the Governor’s wife.
” Puffy ” loved to see obedience, and the new trooper
earned his everlasting respect that day under trying

” Once upon a time ” there was an officer in charge
at headquarters who dearly loved a fight. It was
not seemly that one in his position should take part
in a game of fisticuffs, but he yearned to do the next
best thing to be a spectator. The second-in-com-
mand knew of this, and, as he was equally interested,
he privately arranged with the troopers that when
there was to be a fight between two men they were
to settle their dispute at a certain place where he
could see all that happened without being seen himself.
Many a fierce combat was waged at this place before
the eyes of the officer in charge and his second-in-
command, but one day a struggle was interrupted
by a sergeant, who put the opponents under arrest,
and next morning they were brought before the
officer in charge, accused of fighting.

The contest had been a particularly interesting and
exciting one, and the sergeant proceeded to relate,
entirely incorrectly, how one man had struck the
other. Impatiently the officer in charge listened for
a while until he was unable to stand it any longer.

” It’s an infernal lie, sir,” he said angrily.


And then, realizing that he knew too much about
the affair, he had to dismiss the combatants hastily
before he got deeper into the mire.

” Puffy ” Stean was a keen enthusiast, and the
interests of his corps were next to his heart. This
led to his being placed in an awkward position at
headquarters on one occasion. An influential young
farmer, who owned a large estate, vast herds of cattle,
and a useful banking balance, called at the barracks.
” Puffy,” mistaking him for a prospective recruit,
rushed at him, told him he would be perfectly satis-
factory, ordered him to draw his preliminary kit
consisting of a couple of blankets, a mess tin, and a
combination knife, fork, and spoon and told him to
visit the tailor to be measured.

Having a sense of humour, the farmer obeyed, and
” Puffy ” congratulated himself on having added a
smart man to the ranks. After drawing his kit the
farmer returned to ” Puffy ” and asked to see the

” What the deuce do you want with him ? ” asked
11 Puffy.” ” He’s too busy this morning to be
bothered with recruits.”

11 But I’m not a recruit,” replied the farmer, ” and
Colonel Dartnell is a personal friend of mine whom I
have called to see.”

” Puffy ” nearly exploded with wrath, and to
make matters worse had to apologise profusely before
he could get back his blankets.

There have been some changes in the personnel
of the force during the last year or two, but as a corps
the men are a splendid, abstemious body and a good
fighting force, with intimate knowledge of a wild
and mountainous country. They take a keen interest
in their work, and with constant exercise under the
most healthy circumstances possible, are as hard as
any similar body of men in the world. The majority


of them are magnificent horsemen, who in the course
of a day’s patrol cover country which stout-hearted
hunting men in England would dread to travel over
even in the heat of the chase. These patrols are made
over kafir paths which lead over kopjes covered with
crags smashed by lightning and intersected by
dangerous dongas deep gullies quickly washed out
by violent storms.

The members of the force are especially good at
rifle shooting, and have won a great number of
trophies. The one thing insisted on by the Chief
Commissioner is that every man should be a good shot,
not only at targets, but at field firing and unknown
distances. The Government of Natal has always been
liberal in the supply of ammunition, and there are no
districts in which the men do not get practice, at
least once a month.

Recruits are not now enlisted in England, but
young men who are prepared to pay their passage out
would be accepted, provided they could pass the
medical examination



A LONELIER life than that led by a member of the
Natal Police away on some out-station in the far
north of Zululand, perhaps a couple of hundred miles
off the nearest railway, it would be difficult to imagine ;
and yet it has some indefinable attraction for the
men. Just as the call of the East gnaws eternally at
the soul of a wanderer who, having once passed into
the magic at the other side of the Suez Canal, has
returned to hum-drum old England, so the lonely
life in Zululand grips those who have once grown
accustomed to its peculiar charm. A man may be
stationed for eight or ten years at a place like Ubombo,
which is 150 miles from the railway, or Ingwavuma,
which is even more remote, with only a few kafir
kraals in the district, and still be contented, although
his only white neighbours consist of a magistrate and
a store-keeper.

At such places there is usually a sergeant in
charge of the station, and he may have one, or possibly
three European policemen to associate with. Speak
to him of the Strand and Regent Street and a curious
look comes into his eyes. He is living his life in the
wilds, with little else than Zulus and snakes for
companions, and is missing, year after year, all the
good things that wonderful London has in its store-
cupboard. He is human, and when you remind him

of these things he will tell you with a touch of pathos,


-< ^^^B^^2B( jf^^ii^



Only one white family lives within 30 miles of the place, which is
six days’ ride from the railway.

To face p. 228.


which he would not like you to see, that he really
would like to go home again for a while, ” because
things do get a bit slow sometimes here, don’t you
know.” And yet he could no more live in London
for the rest of his days than he could fly . A murderous
Zulu rushing at him with an assegai he would tackle
without turning a hair, but a motor ‘bus coming
round a corner suddenly in Regent Street would
startle him so much that he would develop a craving
to be back in the wilds amongst the snakes and

The men at headquarters at Pietermaritzburg
have dozens of companions to associate with, both in
barracks and in the town, and yet the majority of
them prefer to be on an out-station. On the occa-
sion of the coronation of King Edward vn a number
of men were called in from the back blocks, some of
them having been there for years. They went to
London and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, but
when they got back to Natal they asked to be sent
back to their solitary posts.

A man who has grown to love life on an out-
station cannot readily tell why he loves it, though
he will say vaguely that it is ” fine.” He has
plenty of hard work, but he has also plenty of clean,
healthy pleasure. His expenditure is nothing per
annum beyond the necessaries of life. He has his
own horse, and opportunities to go out with his gun
after game both small and big.

This strange fascination of the out-stations even
holds good at such fever-stricken places as Maputa
and Enselini, in the low-lying districts of Zululand,
where malaria is very prevalent in the summer,
and the men’s diet consists solely of tinned meat
and crushed mealies, supplemented by such things
as the troopers can shoot.

There is nothing quite like the room in which a


member of the Natal Police lives when he is in the
wilds. Someone has drawn a very accurate picture
of it :

A small wooden sofa without any head,

By day made a couch, by night made a bed ;

A chair with three legs, propped up with a stick,

An allowance of candle, all tallow, no wick ;

A pen-and-ink sketch of some pretty face,

A short double-barrel, half stuck in its case ;

A carpet that doesn’t half cover the floor,

A target chalked out on the back of the door ;

An old Reitbuck skin, by way of a rug,

Whereon sits a terrier, pointer, or pug ;

Apparatus for washing, a foot tub, a pan,

Extract of Orders, and half of a fan ;

A fawn-coloured glove, a lock of dark hair,

Both highly prized, from some lady fair ;

A couple of razors, an old ostrich plume,

A fishing rod, shot belt, a rifle, a broom ;

A tumbledown candlestick smelling of brass,

The ” N.P.” drill-book and/ a cracked looking-glass ;

A mould to load cartridges, a piccolo, flute,

The bowl of a calabash, and half of a boot ;

A loaded revolver, kept at half cock,

A gun.case, a cash-box, lacking a lock ;

A treatise on ” Zulu,” a bottle of port,

A shield from Impanza, an unfinished report ;

Two assegais, a knobkerry, and a half-smoked cigar,

Some Boer tobacco in an old broken jar ;

A letter from home and the orderly book,

A hat, and a powder-flask hung on a hook ;

Some pairs of old boots, a part of a novel,

One-half of the tongs and a bit of the shovel ;

A large book of photos, a Zulu costume,

And towels and slippers all over the room ;

An easy armchair, only lacking its back,

A sketch in burnt cork of some wonderful hack ;

A pair of cord pants with a whip in the pocket,

A tea-caddy open, containing a locket.

In the midst of this chaos, as gay as you please,

On a rickety chair, perched quite at his ease,

A pipe in his mouth, his feet in the grate,

Sits the overworked trooper a-cursing his fate.

Next to the magistrate, the sergeant is the most


The man carrying seven chairs took them 20 miles a day on his head.

To face p. 230.-


important person within many miles. On him
devolves the whole responsibility of the station ;
and though life may be grey and uneventful for
very many months at a stretch, he must be prepared
to act, and to act quickly, when the occasion arises.
Unrest amongst the natives occurs periodically, and
though only whisperings of it may have reached
the ears of the white men, an open rebellion might
break out at any time. At such moments the
Natal Police have proved their merit, quelling the
disturbance either with tact or a sudden display of

The work of the men on out-stations consists
chiefly of going on patrol and dealing with such
things as faction fights and cattle-stealing. The
Zulu dearly loves a fight, and if he gets the oppor-
tunity of attacking an enemy with a couple of sticks,
the pair of them will keep at it, hammer and tongs,
until one or the other falls with a dent in his skull.
On these occasions their uncles and cousins have a
habit of joining in, until the affair becomes serious
and someone stands a good chance of being killed.

As a general rule the fiercest of faction fights
end abruptly when the police arrive, for the native
greatly respects the force, although he does not
particularly mind going to prison, especially for
fighting, which to his mind is far from being a
reprehensible pastime. Natives have been known
to save up their money in order to have a good
fight and then pay the inevitable fine. In cases
where nobody has been killed, and only sticks have
been used, the penalty is usually about 5 to 10
for the ringleaders, and 303. to 3 for those who
only joined in for the fun of the thing. A Zulu
gets miserable if he cannot have a fight now and
again, so he has many excuses for a fray, though
it generally concerns the lady of his dreams.


There were 166 Zulu prisoners arrested at
Mapumulo towards the end of 1912 for taking part
in a faction fight, in which one man was killed and
forty injured. It was the most serious affair of
the kind that had taken place for many years in the
district. The Mapumulo court-house was not nearly
large enough to hold the delinquents, so they were
arranged in rows outside. The jailer filled the
prison ” to the brim,” and was unable to take them
all in, so fifty of the natives were allowed to go,
their chiefs being made responsible for them.

The hardest work on an out-station is the annual
inspection of the hut and dog taxes. Every kraal
in the district has to be visited, however remotely
it may be situated, and this often occupies four

The difficulties of this tedious inspection are
manifold. It is strictly contrary to regulations to
warn the natives to meet at different places so that
they can show their hut tax receipts and dog licences
to the police, but this arrangement is unavoidable
at times. Like his more enlightened brethren, the
Zulu goes out paying calls sometimes, and on these
occasions he consumes a goodly quantity of native
beer. Often the police climb over rough country
and call at kraal after kraal, only to find that the
men are away at a beer-drink. The children and
dogs fly into the bush as soon as a patrol appears
on the scene, and the receipts cannot be found.
Sometimes the head of the kraal will remain away
day after day, going to different beer-drinks, and
as it would be a physical impossibility for the patrols
to call every day until he happened to be in, his
dogs are counted and a message is sent telling him
to produce his tickets at the police camp.

The troopers occasionally go on a patrol extend-
ing over 80 or 100 miles, and this is a considerable


undertaking when, owing to the danger of horse-
sickness, they have to go on foot. This malady,
caused by a mosquito bite, ends in the animal
choking suddenly before its owner is aware that it
is ill. So prevalent is this trouble at certain seasons
of the year that even at headquarters fires have
to be lighted in the stables at night to smoke the
mosquitoes out. Another disease that has to be
carefully guarded against is nagana a slow but
almost certain cause of death to the horse. It is
caused by the bite of the tsetse fly. It would be
crass folly to tether a horse out all night in Zululand
in the hot weather, and so the trooper sometimes
has to walk.

Almost the only thing to think about on an out-
station is police work, and consequently the men
get keenly enthusiastic about their duties. After
a raw recruit has spent six months drilling and
studying routine at headquarters, he is usually
drafted off to some more or less lonely post, and
the effect of this on him is curiously noticeable. A
youth who showed little or no aptitude for the work
while in the hands of the drill instructor, suddenly
develops a sense of responsibility when he finds
himself tackling his duties.

However remote the station may be, discipline
is invariably maintained just as strictly as it is at
headquarters. A sergeant and a trooper may be
together in some lonely place for years, each de-
pendent almost entirely on the society of the
other all that time, but discipline is never relaxed,
even though the two men may be good friends or
have grown to hate the sight of one another. It
is a severe test of good-fellowship to be thrown into
the company of one man year after year at a be-
nighted corner of the earth where nothing ever
happens ; but ill-feeling hardly ever crops up,


perhaps because the men realize that they have to
put up with each other. Some of them grow
strangely quiet and subdued after spending a long
time in the back blocks, and for a little while after
their return to headquarters there is something aloof
about their demeanour. This has given rise to the
jest that all men who live on an out-station in
Zululand for a long time go mad, or, as they put
it, suffer from ” Zululand tap ” though nobody
seriously believes it.

The deadly monotony sometimes tells on them a
little. Three men were sitting round a camp fire
not long ago far from the madd’ing crowd at the
headquarters canteen. The trio had been talked
out for months, and there was no earthly prospect
of seeing a stranger for a long time. An air of
depression hung over them as they sat silently
pulling at their pipes.

” Good Lord,” said one wearily, ” nothing inter-
esting ever happens in this rotten hole. You always
know what’s coming months in advance.”

” You don’t know what’s going to happen now,”
said another, as he reached out for a case of cart-
ridges and threw them into the fire.

Half the chimney was blown out, but nobody was
hurt. Something had happened and all three felt
much happier for days afterwards.

Fortunately, extraordinary things do happen on
back-stations now and again to relieve the monotony.
One of the most remarkable official reports ever
made came from Vant’s Drift, on the Buffalo River,
in the autumn of 1905.

While on patrol, a trooper called on a Dutch
farmer, who for over twenty years had been sorely
puzzled by oft-repeated statements that weird,
inexplicable noises were heard on a part of his estate.
The farmer, who still lives at Vant’s Drift, was


much afraid of being laughed at, and the trooper,
growing interested, could only extract the Dutch-
man’s story from him bit by bit.

Before the last Boer war he had been in the habit
of sending sheep down to the part of his estate where
these mysterious noises were heard, every lambing
season. It was quite four miles from his house, in
a valley through which a stream runs. A white
man was always sent to take charge of the animals,
and he had to camp out.

Sane, sober white men, on several of these occa-
sions, returned complaining vaguely of the loneli-
ness of the place, and saying they would not remain
there as they were disturbed in the night by curious
noises which they were unable to trace. The farmer
invariably had the greatest difficulty in persuading
his men to stop in the valley any length of time.
He might have imagined they were joking but for
the fact that they grew quite insolent if he persisted
in asking them to go back to the sheep. New men
invariably returned to the farm after spending two
or three nights near the stream. So persistent did
the complaints become that the farmer determined
to go to the place himself and find out whether
there was any foundation for the rumours ; but the
war broke out, and it was not until 1905 that he got
a forcible reminder of the affair.

A few weeks prior to his telling the trooper of
his troubles he had sent a man down to the old
place to look after some sheep, but the man returned
in a hurry and said he dared not stay there another
day alone. He begged that someone should be
sent to keep him company, or that he could, for
preference, be relieved of the duty altogether.

The Dutchman, now keenly interested, questioned
the man closely and got from him an account of
what had frightened him. He said that every night


he had been disturbed by hearing the sound of a
woman wailing loudly, and the crying of a child.
At first he took no notice of it, but the noises con-
tinued for such a long time, and seemed so near,
that he went out of his hut to discover what was
wrong. He could see nobody, however, although he
could still hear the wailing, which appeared to come
from farther and farther away, until at last it died
away in the distance.

Wondering what was the matter, the man called
up his native boys. Their reply rather amused him.
They said they, too, had heard the noise of crying,
but there was no woman anywhere near, nor a child.
They declared the place was evil and bewitched.
There was no kraal within a couple of miles, and no
native dared to pass the place at night.

Laughing, he returned to his hut, but he felt
somewhat creepy the following night when the same
thing happened. It began to get on his nerves
when he heard it night after night, and on some
occasions, he declared, he saw a dark, indistinct
shape which was surrounded by ” a faint wavering
light which came and disappeared with the wailing. ”

The natives also told him they saw the object,
and at last, thinking that some practical joke was
being played upon him, he lay in wait with a very
tangible shot gun. It was a dark night, and he
waited patiently for the spook for some hours. At
last it appeared, wavering and howling as usual.
Taking careful aim when it was within range, he
emptied both barrels at it, expecting to see the
object collapse. But to his horror nothing of the
sort happened. The figure went on making a dis-mal
row as before, and after floating about for a while
vanished in the distance.

This was too much for him, and he went straight
to the farmer early the following morning. When


he left the place his native boys left also, refusing
to remain without the protection of the white man.

The farmer promptly sent for two or three of
his neighbours, all matter-of-fact men, and they
decided to camp out at the place ” for the fun of
the thing.” It was an eerie expedition, but they
took it more or less as a joke, and pitched a square
tent under an overhanging rock, on a slight rise
overlooking the stream. After their evening meal
they turned the lights out, lit their pipes, and waited
to see what would happen. Soon they were startled
to hear the wailing of a woman. The sound was
clear and distinct, and seemed to come from imme-
diately behind the tent. It was an uncanny experi-
ence, and they listened breathlessly until they also
heard the crying of a child.

There was very little breeze, and as the sound
died away the tent collapsed ; one man received a
blow which dislocated some of his teeth, and another
had his arm broken. They all made a dash to the
tent flap, just as the tent was pitched on to a small
plateau overlooking the stream.

There was a shadowy form near, with a light
floating over it, gradually gliding away in the direc-
tion of the water ; and the hills echoed with the
piercing shrieks of a woman in dire distress. The
party of investigators had seen all they desired to
see, and without waiting another moment, cleared
off, nor did they stop until they reached the farmer’s

The trooper, as much interested as the Dutch-
man’s neighbours had been, suggested making an
expedition to the place, and the farmer agreed to
show him where these events had occurred. They
started straight away, a native carrying a spade
and pick, as it was suggested that the victim of
some tragedy might have been buried by the side of


the stream. They followed a track across an undu-
lating plain, and climbed a steep rise where they
found themselves looking into a deep, secluded
valley, along which the stream flowed. They had
to climb down a sharp descent, until they came to
a large semi-circular cave which receded into the
hill to a distance of about ten yards, a ledge of rock
forming a natural roof about twelve feet above their
heads. It was altogether a wild, isolated place to
which only an occasional sheep was likely to pene-
trate but this was the spot on which the tent had
been pitched on the eventful night when two men
were hurt.

The wailing had arisen immediately behind the
tent, so the trooper started digging there enthusiasti-

He was prepared to dig up the whole surface of
the cave if necessary, but he had not been delving
very long before he came upon the complete skeletons
of a woman and a child.

The bones lay about three feet below the surface,
and had obviously been there a long time. The
district surgeon, who was called, said he fancied the
large skeleton was that of a European woman. The
police were never able to solve the mystery as to
how it got there. At the request of the farmer the
skeletons were given a more suitable resting-place,
and the farmer never had occasion to complain about
ghosts again.

The trooper who investigated the matter, and
dug up the skeletons, is now on the headquarters
staff where he keeps two curious ash-trays, each
consisting of half of the woman’s skull.

Ghost tales abound at all the police camps in
Natal and Zululand, probably because there is hardly
an old station at which a trooper has not committed
suicide at one time or another. Estcourt Fort has a



To face p. 238.


very-well-known spook. Years ago a member of
the corps walked up the stairs with jingling spurs,
carrying saddlery, and a few minutes later he put
a bullet through his brain. Now and again very
serious-minded troopers open the door when they hear
the clanking of a man mounting the stairs, and, on
seeing nobody there, remark, ” Oh, it’s only the

The laying of a ghost at Mid-Illovo in 1903 caused
a good deal of excitement. It had been common
knowledge for years that the police camp was
haunted. Various people swore they had seen the
spook on several occasions, and it began to take an
active part in the life of the troopers, for every
morning jugs, dishes, joints of meat, and other
things disappeared, and were afterwards found in
various parts of the grounds.

Matters became so serious that the men kept their
revolvers ready loaded, and one night they were
awakened by the crash of breaking crockery, and
the wildly excited yell of ” I’ve got him,” uttered by
Trooper Smith.

The other three members of the corps snatched up
their weapons and dashed up to the entrance of the
mess-room, where they found Smith declaring he had
seen the milk -jug dancing about by itself. This
sounded so idiotic that his comrades thought he had
been dreaming, but at that instant there was another
crash, accompanied by moaning.

Smith and one of his colleagues dashed round to
the back, and mounted a wooden partition over-
looking the mess-room. From this position they
enjoyed the creepy sensation of observing the milk-
jug floating about in nothingness. They fired simul-
taneously. The jug dropped, and something could be
heard rushing about in the darkness.

At this thrilling moment Trooper Woolley arrived


with a light, and then it was seen that the disturbance
had been caused by a kafir dog. It had evidently
been in the habit of helping itself in the camp at
night-time, and on this occasion had got into trouble
by wedging its head in the milk-jug. As the light
approached, the dog tried to get out of the window,
but two more shots rang out, and then a fierce
fusillade started. Bullets were sent flying in all
directions, but the mongrel jumped through a broken
window-pane and was not seen until the following day,
when a herd-boy reported that he had found its
body half a mile away. It had been hit in seven
places, the lower jaw being completely blown off.

Life is not altogether without its humours on the
out-stations. Some time ago a circular was issued to
the police urging each man to carry permanganate of
potash, which, if applied quickly to a snake-bite, is
often effective. An Indian messenger rushed up to
the home of a police officer near Pietermaritzburg
and begged for a man to be sent down to a house near,
where a snake had bitten some one . Hastily snatching
up some permanganate of potash and a lancet, the
only man available ran to the patient, meanwhile
telling the messenger to go to the police station with
all speed and send a doctor along. The messenger
had just carried out these instructions and left the
police station, when an Indian woman, sobbing
hysterically, limped in and exhibited a wound in her
leg. She was in a state of wild excitement, but could
not speak a word of English.

Taking in the situation at a glance, and knowing
that snake-bites need very prompt attention, the
men on duty made her sit down, and with a lancet
cut the place at which she pointed, afterwards rubbing
in permanganate of potash thoroughly.

They were engaged on this operation when the
district officer happened to walk in.


” What have you got here ? ” he asked.

” Snake-bite, sir,” said a trooper, as he rubbed
in the drug.

” Why, you haven’t cut the wound nearly enough/’
replied the district officer. ” I’ll have a go at it.”

He applied the lancet afresh, and rubbed in the
drug liberally, the woman bearing the pain stoically.

” There 1 ” said the district officer at last. ” She
ought to be all right now. You should do a job like
this thoroughly.”

An Indian constable came in.

” Here,” said the district officer. ” Ask this
woman what sort of a snake it was that bit her.”

The man obeyed.

” She says she knows nothing about a snake, sir,
but came to show you where her husband had been
hitting her,” explained the Indian constable.

The subject of the treatment of snake-bites was
a delicate one to broach to that district officer for
months afterwards.

At Grey town, in 1905, when the field force was
stationed there, about forty horses belonging to the
troopers broke loose and stampeded wildly at five
o’clock in the morning. One or two men who
attempted to stop them were powerless, and the
animals disappeared in a body in a few minutes at full
gallop. Search parties were sent out, but the animals
had covered too great a distance to be re-captured
easily. To the astonishment of the orderly sergeant
at the Pietermaritzburg headquarters, nearly fifty
miles away, a dozen of the horses galloped into
barracks at 4.30 the following morning. Amongst
them was one animal which had been going dead
lame for days. It was afterwards found that they
had not travelled on the main road, but had made
a detour via York.

A comical story is told of a field force returning to


headquarters from northern Zululand. The horses
were being entrained under the supervision of a
sergeant who had an exalted view of his own ability.
In the dull glare of many lanterns, the scared animals
were being driven into a row of cattle-trucks that
lined one of the platforms.

” How many beasts are you getting into those
boxes ? ” demanded the sergeant.

” Ten, sir,” replied the orderly.

” Ten ! why, man alive, you’ll have to squeeze
at least fifteen in,” replied the non-commissioned
officer, heatedly.

” It can’t be done, sir. They’re already over-
crowded,” replied the orderly.

” I’ll show you how to put horses in,” said the
sergeant ; and he started to drive the animals into a
box with care.

” That makes fifteen,” he said at last, with great
satisfaction. ” I told you it could be done. Is
there room for any more ? ”

” Room for three more, sir,” a recruit replied,
casting his lantern round.

” That makes eighteen ! ” observed the sergeant ;
and three more horses were entrained.

” Full up ? ” inquired the sergeant.

11 Room for three more, sir,” said the recruit

Somewhat surprised, but hiding the fact, the
sergeant ordered the requisite number to be driven in.

” Still room for three more, sir,” cried the recruit.

By the time forty-five horses had been entrained
in the box, even the sergeant began to show signs of

” What on earth do you mean, idiot? ” he shouted,
as the recruit droned out the same remark which by
now was becoming monotonous. ” Room for three
more, do you say ? ”


lf Yes, sir. There’s room for one two three
FOUR more ! ” counted the recruit deliberately.

At that moment a night-clerk dashed up breath-

11 The stationmaster wants to know what on
earth you are doing/’ he panted.

” Tell him,” replied the sergeant, with a satisfied
smile, ” that I have just succeeded in entraining
forty-five horses in one cattle-box and there is still
room for four more, so we shan’t want the other

” Heavens, man 1 ” replied the night-clerk,” there
are nearly fifty horses tearing up and down the
line, and everything’s going to the dogs.”

” There’s room for heaps more, sir,” broke in the
recruit. ” There isn’t a blooming horse in that box.”

Then the mystery was explained. The door at
the opposite side of the cattle-box had been left open,
and almost as fast as the horses had been entrained
they had escaped at the other side.

Practical jokes sometimes relieve the monotony
at out-stations, with rather alarming effect on
occasions. There was a violent-tempered trooper
who had a perfect horror of cats, and when things
grew dull one night another trooper tied a cat to a
tree near the ill-tempered individual’s room. He also
balanced a bucket of water over the man’s door and
attached a string to the cat’s tail. When the irritable
trooper had settled down to read, his colleague gently
pulled the string on the cat’s tail. A mournful wail
went up again and again, whereupon the easily
angered trooper snatched up his gun with the inten-
tion of shooting the animal. As he dashed out of the
door the practical joker at just the correct moment
pulled another string which he had fastened to the
bucket of water.

More furious than ever, the trooper with the gun


turned his attention to his tormentor, and there was
a keenly exciting chase until the culprit dashed into
his room and locked the door behind him.

The cat-hater was in such a violent temper that
the proceedings did not seem at all likely to end
there, so the fugitive hastily piled boxes against the
door through which a shot came just as the fugitive
was climbing out of the window at the back. It hit
the bed instead of the trooper, who rushed round to
the front, jumped on to his adversary’s back and took
his weapon away before any further damage was
done. It was quite a quarter of an hour, however,
before the angered man could be persuaded to enter
the other trooper’s room. Then they both laughed,
inspected the dent made by the bullet on the bed,
and divided all that was left in a decanter between
two glasses.

The man who pulled the cat’s tail was Trooper
Fairlie now an inspector in the force.

An exciting incident was related to the writer
by an inspector of the Natal Police.

” I was a trooper on an out-station,” he said,
” where two Irishmen had a bitter quarrel, and late
one night the ill-feeling grew to such a degree that it
was decided to fight a duel. Things had been de-
plorably slow for months, so we were all delighted at
the prospect of a little pleasant diversion. Two of
us were appointed seconds. It was agreed that one
principal should go out with his second and hide, and
the other was to follow a few minutes afterwards.
They both had carbines, and the man who saw his
opponent first was to fire.

” They tossed to see which should go out first, and
my man lost. It was pitch dark when we followed a
little while afterwards, and very warily we peered
about for some time, but nothing happened. In a fit
of absent-mindedness I struck a match to light my


pipe, and our opponent, who happened to be quite
close, blazed away with his carbine. This so startled
me that I hit my principal in the middle of the back
with a knobkerry which I had taken out with me.

” ‘ I’m killed/ he groaned, sinking to the ground.

” The other principal ran up and stooped over
his enemy’s prostrate form.

” ( Good Heavens, Larry/ he cried bitterly, ‘ I’ve
shot yez ! Now it’s meself I’ll shoot.’

” So overcome was he with grief that he probably
would have done so had he not only with the utmost
difficulty been persuaded to believe the fact that the
bullets had been extracted from the cartridges before
they were placed in the carbines.

11 The incident brightened us all up for days. The
duellists were the best of friends ever afterwards, and
nobody was a penny the worse excepting my un-
fortunate principal, who complained of a pain in his
back for some time.”

It is during times of rebellion that the isolated
troopers are most liable to an attack of ” nerves.”
Physically, they are as fit as men can be, but a subtle
feeling of uneasiness creeps over them when the
natives are in the mood for a rising. Nothing
definite is stated to the white men, who never know
exactly when to expect an outbreak, or in what
form it will come ; but after living amongst the
Zulus for a lengthy period they learn to detect signs
of unrest which foreshadow the coming of the storm.
Generally there is a telephone at the magistracy,
though this cannot be relied on in case of fighting,
because the natives have discovered the advantage
they gain by cutting the wires. Cunning, and yet
bland, the Zulus have to be watched closely when
there is unrest amongst them, and the troopers get
into the habit of ” sleeping with one eye open ”
until the danger subsides. Before actually making


an attack the Zulus drive their cattle away, and store
their grain in pits, consequently these moves are
watched for very anxiously.

A man literally carries his life in his hands in
the back-blocks sometimes when he has been in-
quiring into a murder, especially if the murder has
been a political one ; and it is more by good fortune
than skill or wits that he learns of his danger.
Sergeant F. L. Wilkinson had a particularly trying
time in this way at Nkandhla, just after the Zulu
rebellion of 1906. He had gone over to Mahlabatini
in connection with the murder of Mr. Stainbank, the
magistrate, and a native made an important state-
ment to him, but subsequently said he would not
repeat it in court. Soon after another Zulu observed
to the sergeant, in front of a magistrate

” If the white man who has been sent here to work
up this case implicates our chief he will be removed.”
This was a polite but firm intimation that Wilkinson
would be killed if he interfered.

That was the first warning he received. For more
than six months afterwards he was constantly dogged,
and narrowly escaped death on several occasions.
Time after time he was warned by friendly natives to be
on his guard, not to use the same paths more frequently
than he could help, and not to stay at the office late at
night, as there were certain Zulus who were bent on
assassinating him sooner or later.

On one occasion one of Sergeant Wilkinson’s
colleagues was nearly killed in error. Two armed
natives leaped out of some bushes as a trooper passed,
but fortunately discovered their mistake in time
and ran away.

On another occasion the sergeant had gone thirty
miles from Nkandhla to arrest a rebel. He dis-
covered that the native’s father had died, and the
native was going to a krantz to perform some medicine


rites at night. Wilkinson decided to go to the
krantz a lonely enough place for any heathen rites
and trap him there. While he was dogging the
movements of the rebel, he, in turn, was being
followed by two men who were awaiting a favourable
opportunity to shoot him. When Wilkinson was far
away this came to the ears of the Nkandhla magis-
trate, Mr. B. Colenbrander, who sent a mounted
messenger warning the sergeant and recalling him.
He was told he would be courting certain death if he
remained out, so he returned.

The perpetual knowledge that one is being
followed by murderers in Zululand is enough to try the
stoutest heart, but Sergeant Wilkinson continued to
investigate a number of political murder cases which
needed very delicate handling. Friendly natives at
Nkandhla constantly repeated warnings to him, and
nearly every night during the six months he slept in a
different room or changed the position of his bed, ex-
pecting any moment to hear bullets crash through
the window.

On the 8th September 1907 he returned to
Nkandhla, after following a man who was suspected
of having murdered* the chief Tshishili, and was told
that he would be killed that night unless he were
careful. At midnight he had a cup of coffee with the
magistrate his political enemies afterwards suggested
that it was not coffee and left with Detective
Rathbone for the police station. Rathbone, when
leaving him, on the way, pressed him to take a
lantern, but the sergeant preferred to go without one.
His life was again saved, a few moments later, by an
odd impulse which led him to turn off the main road,
and make a detour of fifty yards. He had gone home
hundreds of times by that road, but never before had
he made the same detour : the next morning it was
proved that two men with firearms had been lying in


wait for him behind a hedge in the part of the road he
avoided. Had he not gone round he would have been
shot in the back.

On arriving at the police station he went straight
to his bedroom, pulled down the blind, which left a
two-inch gap at the bottom, got into bed, read for
a few minutes, and then turned out the lamp. The
moment he did so a shot was fired through the
window, which was about a yard from his head.
A revolver bullet passed within an inch of his face,
and his cheek and nose were cut by splinters of
falling glass. In almost every case of murder in
the district for some time previously two shots had
been fired. Realizing this in a flash, the sergeant
instantly squeezed himself between the bed and the
wall, waiting for a few torturing seconds for the
second bullet. It came and would have killed
him had he leaped up after the first shot. It buried
itself in the floor close to him. A moment later
he had reached his revolver, and, shouting to awake
his colleagues in another room, ran outside. A
figure was disappearing in a gap in an adjoining
plantation, and Wilkinson fired but missed. As
he did so Trooper de Ros hurried out, also armed,
and together they searched the neighbourhood for
quite an hour, but without success.

There is every reason to suppose that the man
who fired at Wilkinson was subsequently shot by
the Natal Police at Mbekamuzi.

When a member of the police has to make a
long journey in remote districts, far from the railway,
he treks from one police camp to another, and need
hardly ever sleep in the open on such a trip, the
camps having been distributed practically all over
Natal and Zululand.

The comfort of being able to put up at one of
the camps every night does not, however, fall to



Built by the men themselves in Northern Zululand. It is nearly a
week’s journey from a railway station.

To face p. 248.


the lot of the police when they are moving about
at full speed during war times. Some trooper who
had tasted the full joys of trekking has placed his
impressions on record in the Nongqai, 1 the quarterly
magazine of the police. His views are shared very
generally by those who have been through it. Here
they are :

Ride in the rain, ride in the sun

(They both beat down like hell),
From this camp to some other one,

And you’ve got to hurry as well.

Camp in the wet, camp in the dry,

On the hill, the valley, or plain ;
You hope to God you may not die

Before you see home again.

Fall in for guard, fall in for drill,

It’s all in the long day’s work;
You get no rest unless you’re ill,

Or are one of the rotters that shirk.

Fight like the devil, fight, seeing red,

With never a thought of retreat,
Remembering that you’re a long time dead,

And a deuced hard lot to beat.

Drink what you can anything wet,
And pray for the wine that is red ;

But when it’s the grape juice don’t forget
To drink for your pals who ‘re dead.

The principal duties which the members of the
force have to perform in the out-stations are :

Frequent and vigilant patrolling.

The suppression of tumults, riots, or breaches of
the peace.

The detection of crime and the arrest of offenders.

The execution of criminal warrants and sum-

1 Meaning those who wander the Zulus’ name for the Natal Police.


The prevention of cattle being driven about the
country without passes, and the prevention and
the detection of the stock thefts.

The prevention of natives travelling about the
country with firearms or assegais (without the
written permission of a magistrate), and the seizure
of all such weapons.

The inspection of licences in the various districts.

The collection of statistics for the annual blue

The issue of passes to natives.

The discovery of stolen property.

Escort of treasure and prisoners.

Acting as messengers of magistrates’ courts.

Attending stock sales and inspecting slaughter-
houses, with a view to tracing lost or stolen stock.

Inspecting hut and dog tax licences.

Acting as Customs and Excise officers.

Acting as postmasters.



IN a dingy little office in Pietermaritzburg there is
one of the most remarkable Criminal Investigation
Departments in the world, and it has handled some
of the grimmest tragedies and most extraordinary
crimes that ever taxed the ingenuity of a police
officer. The C.I.D. owes its existence to Colonel
Clarke, who fathered it and practically built it up
with his own hands.

In 1893 the officers of police were invited by the
authorities to submit schemes for the re-organization
of the various police forces in the colony. Mr.
Clarke submitted one, and inserted in it a C.I.D.
Subsequently, when a number of changes were being
made, he was entrusted by the Attorney-General
with the task of putting the department on a working
basis. That official stated in Parliament that he
did not think they had any one who was capable of
taking charge of the department properly, and
Mr. Clarke was only given a year’s trial at first.
How well he acquitted himself may be judged by
the fact that he remained in authority there for
nearly eleven years, though he was away for con-
siderable periods with the fighting forces during
that time.

The work of a C.I.D. consists of taking over
cases from the various stations that cannot easily

be dealt with by the police there. Mr. Clarke had



been promised a free hand and every assistance :
when he came to start he found ” every assistance ”
consisted of the use of the services of one native
constable, and the only C.I.D. work that individual
was capable of performing was sweeping the floor
and running messages slowly. A furnished office
was provided : the furniture consisted of one barrack-
room table and one form. The first task that faced
the department was to impress upon the police all
over the colony the very fact that there was such a
department at work. A great many circulars had
to be issued to the different stations, and the
authorities refused to grant Mr. Clarke the simple
apparatus necessary for duplicating letters. The
C.I.D. chief had seen the working of the C.I.D. at
Scotland Yard/ and therefore was able to model
his department on the lines of those employed in
London ; but with such an inadequate staff it was
extremely difficult to work any system.

Very slow progress was the natural result of
finding almost overwhelming odds against the work,
but gradually one man after another was added to
the staff, including both Europeans and natives.
The Europeans chosen had to be detectives capable
of doing very delicate work.

It soon became apparent that a staff of trained,
intelligent natives would be of very great service
to the department, for the Zulu detectives could
go amongst their chattering brethren and get to
the root of a mystery, in some cases, long before
any European would succeed. In theory this
sounded excellent : in practice the absolute child-
ishness of the average Zulu (in some matters)
was a serious obstacle. Some hundreds of natives
had to be tried before a candidate of any promise
whatever could be found, and even then they were
no good until they had had a great deal of training.


Not ten really good native detectives were chosen
out of quite a thousand men who were tried.

One of the greatest problems was, and still is,
to get a native ^fetective who could be depended
upon to conceal m identity. The Zulu dearly loves
to show his authority, and boys were constantly
taken off cases because they had disclosed their
business. On one occasion a native detective, sent
out to make inquiries in the wilds, was provided with
an old and ragged suit for the purpose. He turned
up at the place, and worked on the case for a couple
of days, and then blossomed out in all the glory of
police breeches and gaiters.

Another boy spoilt his case through an affair of
the heart. He did excellent work until one of the
maidens in the district took his fancy. The police
were at a critical stage of their investigations, when
the girl told the native detective, who had purposely
been clothed in rags, that she could not have anything
to do with him because he was not in a position to
keep her properly.

” That is all right,” he said. ” Not a word ! I
am working for the Government.”

The girl promptly told everybody that he was
not what he appeared to be, and the police had to
leave the case.

Two men were chosen to go out on a sheep-stealing
case. For over an hour they were coached carefully,
and warned to use the utmost discretion. They
were dispatched in the role of wild-cat-skin sellers,
and suitable stock-in-trade was bought for them.
Looking very wise, the pair of them went out, but
apparently they put their heads together for a
couple of hours to solve a knotty problem as soon
as they had the opportunity. Then they returned
to the C.I.D. and explained that they could not very
well go as they were because they had no arm badges


on to show that they were members of the police
force !

On another occasion Mr. Clarke sent two native
detectives to Woodside to makedtopuiries into a case
of theft, and when he followed flMm the inhabitants
of each kraal that he passed on the road told him that
his detectives were at a certain farm. The Zulu
officers on their way to this farm had visited each
kraal and told the natives that as they were detectives
there must be no sheep-stealing while they were in
the district.

There is one great difficulty which the native
detective has to contend with. When a Zulu is seen
wandering about the country every black who meets
him asks what his business is, where he has come
from, and where he is going to. The arrival of a
strange native is always reported to the local chief,
and the whole tribe grow very suspicious of him until
they know everything about him.

It is a hopeless task to send a native to make
inquiries amongst his own tribe, for he will rarely
give them away. Knowing enough to hang a man,
he will often return to the C.I.D. and say he cannot
find anything out at all.

Very rarely can a native detective be discovered
who works as well when alone as he does with a
European member of the force. They will obey
orders and ferret out things quite well while with a
white man, but when by themselves they have no
initiative, and lose interest.

Once a native is ” wanted,” the police in the
neighbourhood of his kraal are informed of the fact.
A book is specially set apart for notices of this kind,
and the native constables are periodically informed
whom to inquire for. In their travels amongst the
kraals they frequently find that some of a ” wanted ”
man’s own people, or even his neighbours, know


exactly where he is ; for though he may not have
returned to the district, he has a habit of sending
messages. His utter inability to keep a still tongue
is as frequently the cause of his own undoing as it is
that of his friends.

The C.I.D. in certain work rely very much on
native constables, who in this way have special
facilities for obtaining valuable information, but in
intricate cases they can rarely be depended upon,
for they are much too inclined to jump to a hasty
conclusion from which they cannot be turned.

Naturally only native detectives who have a
perfectly clean record can be taken on, and prior to
the introduction of the finger-print system it was by
no means an easy thing to make certain that some
demure, smiling, black candidate had not just finished
several years’ imprisonment under another name, for
horse-stealing. The proportion of Zulus who have
never been in prison is not nearly as large as it might
be, for, with their queer outlook on life, they do not
regard a term of imprisonment as anything to be
ashamed of, but merely as an inconvenience. Nor
does the prisoner’s own family think any the worse
of him for having been very justly sentenced ; he is
welcomed back to his kraal by his parents as though
he had only been away for a holiday.

Mr. Clarke worked single-handed up to the end
of 1894, and gradually the C.I.D. became a power in
the colony. It was then dawning on the police that
such a department had come into being. The request
was made to the Chief Commissioner that the C.I.D.
should be responsible for all returns of crime, and the
reports were accordingly sent to the department,
which in that way got into closer touch with the police.

In 1895 the chief of the C.I.D. managed to get
a clerk to assist him in the work, which was rapidly
growing, and from that time onwards the department


became more and more useful. The task of identify-
ing criminals who had been convicted before was
often a problem, and Mr. Clarke began to take a keen
interest in the finger-print system. At that time it
was little understood or appreciated, but the chief
saw it had immense possibilities in the colony.
Having made a thorough study of the method em-
ployed at Scotland Yard, he attempted in 1898 to
induce the Natal authorities to adopt the system,
but was told that there were not sufficient criminals
in the colony to justify it, and that the colony was not
advanced enough. Determined to show that it was
not only useful but highly necessary, he introduced
the system at his own expense. Nearly every one was
opposed to the idea, and the chief had all his work
cut out to convince the sceptics before the scheme was
at length officially approved.

It was a long time before the various magistrates
began to show confidence in the finger-print system,
but its accuracy having now been established it is
relied on very considerably.

Some years after it was adopted Mr. W. H.
Wilkes, one of Pietermaritzburg’s leading solicitors,
was a pronounced sceptic, so the C.I.D. authorities
told him he could leave his finger-prints at the office
and make a test, by getting the officer in charge at
some back-station to send another set of his prints
up to headquarters, and seeing how quickly they
traced the first impressions.

The prints filed are classified under three headings,
viz. European, Asiatic, and native, and the solicitor
was told he could enter his prints under any heading
he chose without their being informed on the point.
He accordingly had his finger-prints taken, and these
were filed away in the Indian section. Mr. Wilkes
laughed, and to make certain of baffling the C.I.D.
he said nothing about the matter for well over a year.


Then he went into the police station at Eshowe and
had prints sent from there to headquarters. They
were sent in as those of an Indian, the only stipulation
that had been made being that he should stick to the
same nationality. Without hesitation, the officer at
work picked out the original impressions, and the
lawyer became a convert.

In innumerable instances prisoners have disputed
their previous convictions. Where the case was an
important one this has necessitated warders from far
distant prisons being called at much expense ; but
not in one single instance has the system been at
fault in the colony, nor do those who have studied
it properly believe that a mistake can be made
providing the prints are clear.

In two prints bearing a general resemblance, it
is improbable that they will have some mark or
characteristic in common. But if it be admitted
that there is one chance in four of such a thing, there
is only one chance in sixteen of their having two
similar characteristics. This system of multiplica-
tion can be carried on, in order to show the reliability
of finger-prints, until one finds that the chances against
two people having thirty-two similar characteristics
are countless millions to one against.

To be certain that no error can occur, it is the
custom of the C.I.D. never to take a finger-print
from glass into court unless there are nine different
points of similarity. The records show that in
about forty cases since 1903 convictions have been
secured as a result of prints being found on glass.
Failure to show previous convictions may be caused
by bad prints, which in some cases cannot be classified.
In many cases convictions have been obtained on
finger-print evidence alone, and in others native
housebreakers have been traced and imprisoned
through leaving the prints of their fingers behind.


A case of considerable interest occurred in Durban
recently. A house was broken into and 30 in gold
was taken. Some one had broken the fanlight and
climbed in that way. It was suspected that a native
servant knew something about it, but on being
questioned he denied all knowledge of the theft,
and the police were left without any clue whatever
excepting toe-impressions on some of the broken
glass. The somewhat puzzled native allowed the
police to take the impression of his toes, and this,
together with the carefully preserved glass, was sent
to the C.I.D., which reported promptly that the marks
on the paper and glass had been made by the same

The native’s possessions had been searched with-
out any money being found. His brother was away
at his kraal, and a detective took the opportunity
of searching his box in the presence of the suspect.
When 19 in cash was found there the native regret-
fully admitted his indiscretion, adding that this was
part of the money he had stolen. He was awarded
ten strokes and a month’s hard labour. Had it not
been for the toe-prints a conviction would never
have been obtained, for there was no other direct
evidence. No other case of using prints made in this
way with the foot has ever been known in Natal.
The marks were very clear, even though the native
had always walked about in bare feet. It is not
likely that Scotland Yard has traced a man by toe-
prints, because the bare-footed burglar is a rare
exception in England.

Long after the C.I.D. had become an indispens-
able factor in police administration, the official delay
in providing necessary equipment was almost
humorous except in the eyes of the C.I.D. staff.
After the finger-print system was adopted a request
was made for some sort of a wash-stand, which was


very necessary, as the officers were constantly getting
their hands ink-stained while taking prints. The
request was refused, but as experience showed that
several requests had to be made before anything
was forthcoming, Mr. Clarke perseveringly went on
asking for his wash-stand for nine years, and at last
in sheer desperation sent out for one without obtain-
ing permission and put it down on his accounts.
He was surcharged for the amount on the ground
that he had done this thing without authority, so
he had to pay for it himself. When, however, the
Police Commission of 1903 was sitting, the important
matter of the wash-stand was gravely put before that
body, and the money was refunded to the chief.

For over eighteen years a requisition has been
sent in annually from the C.I.D. for some sort of
matting to cover the wooden floors, which resound
with heavy steps when people are walking about
there. Each year the Public Works Department
has sent a man down specially to measure the rooms
and passages, and on being told that he has taken
the measurements before, he has said, ” Oh, but this
is another requisition.”

The C.I.D. is still waiting for its bits of matting.

There was a painful shortage of chairs, and
visitors had to stand when they called at the depart-
ment. For quite six years a requisition was sent
in annually for a further supply of chairs, but the
authorities were obdurate.

At last Sub-Inspector Hunt who was murdered
in the first tussle of the 1906 Zulu rebellion put in
a pathetic request that half a dozen packing-cases
might be sent down to the C.I.D., so that the visitors
could be invited to sit down occasionally. Appar-
ently the humour of the suggestion appealed to those
in authority, for six chairs were promptly supplied.

To-day there are more sets of finger-prints at the


C.I.D. in Pietermaritzburg than there are at any
other similar office in the British Empire, including
even Scotland Yard. The colony has only 1,100,000
inhabitants, and of these 214,734 different people
had left their impressions up to the time the last
returns were made. There are the criminal records
of 146,875 people in the pigeon-holes awaiting refer-
ence when the men go through the hands of the police
again, and the finger-print system has proved the
previous convictions of 131,315 culprits.

Of all the impressions taken 12,800 are those
of Europeans, 118,000 Asiatics, and 215,040 natives ;
these figures including the duplicates which are
made when a man is convicted a second time or on
subsequent occasions.

No native constable is enrolled now until his
finger-prints have been taken and his record searched.
Sometimes this search reveals astonishing results,
men who have spent several terms of imprisonment
calmly offering their services to the police. But
for the finger-prints there would have been 730
criminals, who otherwise seemed perfectly satis-
factory, in the force.

One striking instance occurred some time ago.
An Indian wished to be enrolled in the police, but
Inspector Meiners was informed by the C.I.D.
that the man had been convicted in 1903. This the
coolie denied indignantly. He said he had never
been in prison in his life, and he was willing to go
through any test to prove the fact ; and as the man
was so emphatic the inspector returned the papers
to the C.I.D., asking whether a mistake had not been
made. The finger-prints were again checked, and
Mr. Meiners was informed that the impressions were
certainly identical. The suggestion was also added
that the prosecutor in the case should be traced
and questioned on the subject.


Before this man could be found the coolie was
given full particulars of the conviction referred to
in the records of the C.I.D., and was told the name
of the man who prosecuted ; but he remained un-
shaken. Not wishing to do him an injustice, Mr.
Meiners had the prosecutor traced, and it was not
until the two men were brought face to face that
the coolie gave way and admitted having been

In returning the papers, Inspector Meiners wrote :
” The value of the finger-print system has been
proved once more.”

Every indentured Indian landing in the colony
has had his finger-prints taken since early in 1903.
Prior to that, in the majority of cases, coolies who
absconded had to be sent to the Protector of Indian
Immigrants at Durban for identification, but in
hundreds of cases he was unable to say where they
were indentured. Under the new system the ab-
sconding Indian’s finger-prints are sent to the C.I.D.
by post. In five minutes the point is settled and
the man returns to work. During the last nine
years the C.I.D. has dealt with 6437 men in this
way. This is of great assistance to the employer
of labour, for in the old days he had to pay the
railway fares of the coolie and his escort, often over
a considerable distance. It also saves the employers
thousands of pounds, because whether an Indian
absconds or not the employer has to pay the Govern-
ment 5 a year during the period of indenture, to
cover the coolie’s fare from India and back.

The system also prevents the Government from
losing a good deal of money. If an Indian desires
to remain in the country after his indenture has
expired he must pay an annual tax of 3, and he
is prevented from avoiding this by means of the
finger-print system.


Dead bodies are frequently found on the veldt,
and taken from rivers, and the greatest difficulty is
experienced sometimes in identifying them. In forty-
eight cases the C.I.D. have been able to find out who
the man or woman was by mearis of finger-prints
after all other means had failed.

When a warrant is out for a man on some serious
charge, and the police are unable to find him, the
matter is greatly simplified if he has been imprisoned
before. The fact that he is ” wanted ” is added to
his record at the C.I.D., and when he is handled
by the police next time on some other charge the
old warrant is dealt with. So far the department
has received information of the failure to execute
561 warrants, and the system has led to 259 of these
being executed subsequently.

Of those people who have escaped from prison
since 1902, 75 have been returned to the cells by
the use of finger-prints.

A man is classed as an habitual criminal when
he has committed three or more serious crimes. The
list shows so far that these consist of 166 Asiatics
and 1062 natives. The number of European habitual
criminals is exceedingly small in proportion.

During the last nineteen years 2318 different
cattle thieves have been convicted, some of these
having ten or a dozen different thefts entered against
their name.

It frequently occurs that finger-prints result in
suspected people being proved innocent. There was
an instance of this when a European named Maurice
Edmonds disappeared under mysterious circum-
stances, and was subsequently found drowned. Foul
play was suspected, and there seemed every reason
to suppose that the man had been murdered by two
Zulu women.

Their finger-prints were taken, and in a few


moments their records were turned up, showing they
could not possibly have had anything to do with
the affair as they were both in prison at the time.

In all cases where a native gives a receipt on
Government business, this, besides being witnessed
by two Europeans, bears the stamp of his thumb, so
that he cannot dispute the payment afterwards.

An additional check on old ” lags ” was provided
when a photographer was added to the staff. Each
prisoner undergoing sentence in the Central Courts
at Pietermaritzburg is photographed, the prints
being placed amongst a wonderful collection of
pictures. The photographer is an expert in making
enlarged photographs of finger-impressions on glass,
and in several instances his work in this direction
has led to criminals being convicted.

There are filed the photographs of 12,714 indi-
viduals, 1646 of these being Europeans, 1923 Asiatics,
and 9145 natives.

One reason why the C.I.D. is particularly useful
is because the Europeans who are sent out to different
districts on a case are not known locally. They go
long distances, and often spend many months away
unravelling a mystery. Their task is utterly unlike
that of the English police detective, for their work
is largely in connection with half-civilized blacks,
many of whom do not speak a word of any language
other than their own. In cases of murder nine
out of every ten of which are committed by natives
for the purpose of obtaining their unholy ” medicine ”
and plundering, the detectives often have to spend
a long time trekking from place to place on the
veldt, stay out all night keeping watch on a suspected
kraal, and ferret out a criminal who is as subtle as
any ever dealt with by a Scotland Yard officer.
The detective is constantly in danger, for when the
Zulu turns into a ruffian he is a particularly rough


specimen to handle, and has no fear whatever of
the consequences of any desperate action he may take.

To extract information from a native is generally
a task requiring infinite patience. A C.I.D. man
may have to talk to a Zulu for hours on every subject
under the sun before he can touch on the matter
with which he is concerned. He may be certain
that the native can tell him what he wants to know,
and the native may know what he is after, but if
it were discussed early in the conversation the Zulu
would profess entire ignorance, or even get up and
walk away. Sometimes it is necessary for a detective
to talk in this way all day before he dare mention
the affair he has on hand.

The men who ” get on” in the Natal C.I.D. are
those who are strictly sober, good linguists, and have
an almost superhuman trick of keeping on a man’s
trail when all hope seems to have gone.

Some of the older hands in the C.I.D. speak the
Zulu language almost like a native, and, after having
spent a lifetime studying the subject, understand the
complex nature of the native as well as they under-
stand each other. They also speak Dutch, Hindu-
stani, Tamil, and Urdu, and bits of other tongues used
by the thousands of Indian coolies in the colony.
There are also many excellent linguists in the force
who are not on the C.I.D. staff. The men get extra
pay as soon as they can make themselves understood
in any of the more useful languages, a third-class
linguist drawing is. a day extra ; second class, is. 6d.
a day ; and first class, 2s.

No case of murder is ever dropped in any circum-
stances, it being followed up sometimes for years,
as happened in the case of a girl murdered at Est-
court. The murderer disappeared, but he was found
a dozen years afterwards, tried, found guilty, and


There was a mystery near Dundee early in 1911
which it seemed absolutely impossible to solve at first.
A European, named Lazarus, who was driving to the
St. George’s Colliery, was found shot dead, sitting in
his trap, and a purse that contained 3 had been
taken from his pocket. There was no clue whatever,
and Detective Grant, who was sent to investigate the
affair, was baffled for some time.

A native in the district, named Francis Ngcobo,
had been convicted two years previously for point-
ing a revolver at a girl, but the revolver had never
been found. Grant, in chatting discreetly with the
natives, found that Francis still carried a revolver.
It was a small one, and the Zulus said that the bullet
taken from the dead man’s body was the same size
as those fired by Francis. The man was arrested
on suspicion, and the detective found that several
natives had seen him sitting on a stone near the
scene of the crime just prior to the murder. Bit by
bit the chain of evidence was pieced together, Grant
discovering that though the prisoner had been trying
to borrow money and failing before the murder
was committed, he was not short of cash afterwards.

Finally Francis was committed for trial, tried
before a jury, and convicted. He admitted his guilt
before the execution took place.

Five years ago there was an alarming epidemic of
burglaries in Pietermaritzburg, and though several
good detectives were set to work they could find out
nothing for some time. At last impressions were dis-
covered on a window that had been entered. These
were photographically enlarged, and all possible
classification combinations were worked out. Owing
to the fact that the impressions were incomplete, the
search lasted two and a half days and 1 142 files were
examined. Then the prints were found to agree with
those of an old criminal. Nobody knew where he


happened to be at the time, so his photograph was
circulated, together with a full description of him.

Two men went up to the Togt Office (where
natives have to report what work they are doing)
a few days afterwards, when an officer recognized
the “wanted” man by his photograph. He was
promptly put in prison, and his companion, on being
searched, was found to have stolen property in his
pockets. The detectives got to work amongst the
associates of the prisoners, and in a little while they
had under lock and key the whole gang, who had been
concerned in more than a score of cases of house-
breaking and theft within a short time. Two of the
men were even brought back from Ladysmith.

Just a year afterwards the housebreaking started
again in the same city, and a burglar left in one house
two table-knives which he had stolen from another
place. He also left traces in the form of finger-
prints on a fruit jar in one house and on a bottle in
the second place. These showed that the burglar was
Moses Kanyile, an habitual criminal who had just
been released after serving a term of imprisonment.
Within a few hours, as Moses was leaving the town,
he was stopped. He was unable to explain away a
loaded revolver, a coat and waistcoat, and a silver
pencil case which were part of the property missing
from the two houses, and he was removed from
further temptation for a period of five years.

The late Chief Justice of Natal, Sir Henry Bale,
remarked when summing up in the case that finger-
print evidence had been of the utmost value.

The Zulu criminal is as wily in his way as his white
brother who operates in Brixton, only he travels about
a great deal more. He has a wonderful assortment of
aliases, and without the finger-print system would be
such a difficult creature to deal with that one wonders
how the police managed to do their work effectively


before it was introduced in Natal. A thief had
escaped from prison in Cape Town, and the authorities
there notified the C.I.D. at Pietermaritzburg of the
fact, enclosing copies of his finger-prints. There was
nothing filed concerning him, but some months after-
wards a man was arrested in Durban for house-
breaking. When his finger-prints were examined it
was found that he was the man who had escaped in
Cape Town, though he, of course, did not give the
same name. In countless instances kafirs would be
able to avoid imprisonment by merely changing their
names if it were not for the finger-prints.

Far more prisoners escape from gaol in Natal than
in England, not because the prisons are insecure,
but because the native guards cannot always be
trusted. When a member of their own tribe is in
custody they are not at all unlikely actually to help
him to get away. Another reason for the numerous
escapes is that the Zulu criminal is very daring, and
if he thinks there is the faintest hope of getting away
he will make a desperate attempt.

There is only one case on record, however, of a
man condemned to death escaping. A loyal native,
named Deyikana, was spying in the rebels’ location
at Umsinga in 1906, when he met half a dozen natives
who recognized him. He started to run, but they
struck him down and beat him. One of his assailants,
Mucuwendoda Ntombela, then gave him a fatal blow.
The murderer was subsequently tried and sentenced
to death.

On a Tuesday morning he had just been told
that his sentence had been confirmed and that he was
to be hanged at Ladysmith the following Friday a
native guard helped him to get away from the con-
demned cell at Dundee. He pushed the murderer
up on to the ledge of a window, and Mucuwendoda
scrambled to the roof, from which he dropped over the


wall. This was done at 8 a.m., while the white gaoler
was at breakfast, and nobody saw the prisoner go,
because this part of the building was not visible from
the yard. Thus, within three days, less an hour,
of the time at which he was to be executed, the kafir
got away.

Condemned men are allowed certain privileges,
amongst them being the use of snuff. Mucuwendoda
was missed as’ soon as an official went along to give
him his day’s allowance of snuff. In three minutes
every police officer in the place had been called, and
a hue and cry began. They first got on to the man’s
track by finding footprints on a flower-bed where
he had climbed over the wall, and on being questioned
the overseer of a road-repairing party said he had
seen a native running in the direction of Mpati
Mountain, which is about three miles from Dundee,
and on which there are a number of coal mines.

Every available man, including native constables,
took up the chase, and the fugitive was seen in the
distance running at full speed. He had vanished by
the time his pursuers reached the mountain, which
formed an ideal place for hiding, being covered with
great valleys, huge rocks and trees. Throughout that
day the place was thoroughly searched. The local
chiefs were called upon to send their tribes out to
assist the police, but though every part of the moun-
tain was explored, and the mines were visited, they
could not find the man who was nearly due to be
hanged. The district officer, and indeed all the prison
staff, were in a state of great alarm, and some acid
messages passed along the telegraph wires that day.

To make matters worse, a terrible storm came on
that night, and the mountain was enveloped in a dense
mist until i o a .m . the following morning . Under these
conditions the search, though pretty hopeless, was
kept up in vain.


Parched and hungry, the murderer crept from his
hiding-place late on Wednesday night, having turned
his clothes inside out to hide the fact that he was in
prison garb. Unperceived, he made his way down
the mountain slopes to the flats behind Talana Moun-
tain, towards the Buffalo River. It was midnight
when he reached Mr. Gregory’s farm. Knocking at
the entrance of a native kraal he asked for food. It is
not usual for a native to make such a request at that
hour of the night, and as the head of the kraal had
heard of the prisoner’s escape he invited him in,
telling his two sons to fetch food for the stranger. He
also added quietly that they were to bring back some
stout reims (ropes made from cow-hide), and when
they had done so Mucuwendoda was overpowered and
tied up.

To the unbounded delight of every one at the
prison, the natives arrived there with the missing
man soon after three o’clock on Thursday morning.
The district officer was informed by telephone of
what had occurred. Half afraid that the good news
could not really be true, he dressed hurriedly and
drove to the prison to look at the captive. He saw
the man trussed up in irons, and then heaved a sigh
of thankfulness, for though nobody could in reality
have been blamed for the escape, excepting the
guard who helped Mucuwendoda out, it had been a
pretty anxious time.

The murderer, after his adventures and dis-
appointment, was utterly unmoved, and spoke of his
doings with as much indifference as though he had no
personal interest in the affair. He explained to the
district officer that he had been hiding in an ant-bear
hole, over the entrance of which he had drawn a
stone. From there he had watched the searchers
during the daylight, and at one time, he said, he could
easily have put his hand on the boots of Trooper Baker.


That morning the district officer, glad to see
the back of such a slippery scoundrel, sent him down
to Ladysmith by the 7.5 a.m. train, and the man was
well and duly hanged at the appointed hour on the

His fellow-tribesman who had assisted him to
escape had meanwhile been sentenced to six months’
hard labour.

The prince of Zulu gaol-breakers is Mfanyana
alias Nkane. The latter name, which he probably
bestowed upon himself, signifies impudence and

Nobody knows what his early criminal record is,
because that dates back to the time before finger-
prints were taken ; but, on being discharged from
prison in Johannesburg many years ago, he made
his way along the railway line to Natal, breaking
into nearly every railway station on the route. As
he approached Charlestown, which is on the border
of the Transvaal, the Natal Police were looking out
for him. At the various railway stations he had
gone into the office and rifled the safe, generally
carrying it out bodily. He had three assistants who
followed him about, but he never used more than
one of them at a time when engaged on a thieving

He celebrated his arrival at Charlestown by
entering the office of the resident Justice of the
Peace. There he stole the safe, carrying it off on a
trolley which he annexed from a neighbouring Arab
store. He made a quick trek from there to New-
castle, and broke into the offices of a lawyer and several
other people, smashing the safes and extricating
their contents.

A member of the Natal Police, while on patrol
about two miles from Charlestown, came across the
Charlestown safe on the veldt. He went straight


back to camp to report the matter, and when he
returned with assistance half an hour afterwards
Mfanyana had just left the place, taking the trolley
with him.

One of the police was informed that a tall native
had been seen pushing a trolley towards Volksrust, and
as there was reason to suspect that this was Mfanyana,
the Transvaal police were warned to put a special
guard on at the court and at the pass office in Volksrust.
Soon afterwards the native entered the court, but
could not obtain anything of value there, so during
the night he went to the pass office, where several
of the Transvaal police were sleeping. Opening the
window cautiously, he entered the room, and without
making sufficient noise to awake the men, he picked
up a very heavy safe one which no ordinary white
man could lift, and carried it out, stepping over a
native constable who was asleep in the doorway.

From here Mfanyana went to Wakkerstroom
about twenty miles away, where he broke into the
magistrate’s office and took away various articles.
He returned quickly into Natal, and stole the safe
from the office at Mount Prospect railway station.
He carried it some distance on a trolley, and tried
to force it open with a pick, but failed ; so he moved
on to Chariest own, and entered the house of Mr.
Gardiner with a duplicate key.

Unluckily for him, on the night Mfanyana broke
into the Mount Prospect station, Sergeant Ker, of
the C.I.D., happened to be there on another case
with two of his native detectives, and learning that
a tall native had taken a ticket to travel on the
down kafir mail, he went to the station with Mr.
Gardiner’s native servant, having meanwhile planted
his own native detectives at the exits. Mfanyana
was there on the platform, and as soon as he saw
the detective with the native servant he tried to


bolt, but was secured. In his hat were three gold
watches and two or three bunches of safe keys, the
proceeds of twenty-three burglaries.

The police had found that while he was in
Charlestown he had constantly been with a native
named ” Charlie/’ This man was promptly put
under lock and key also, and in his bundle was
found a good deal of stolen property. While he
was being searched, another native came along and
asked for ” Charlie.” On the principle that one
may judge a man by the companions he keeps, this
individual was also taken in charge, and at his house
more stolen property was discovered. A hat and a
pair of boots found on the trolley near Mount
Prospect station were proved to be his.

The following morning one of the native detectives
was searching the hut of ” Charlie ” when a fourth
member of the gang came along.

” I hear the white detectives have got ‘ Charlie,’ ”
he said. ” Are you working for these Europeans ? ”

The detective admitted that he was.

” Oh,” said the fourth culprit, ” they have not
got us all. I have a lot of the keys at my place.”

The native detective smiled blandly, invited the
man in, and shut the door until assistance arrived.
In this way the whole gang fell into the net.

All four were committed for trial, and while
imprisoned at Newcastle, awaiting that unpleasant
ordeal, they amused themselves by holding the
head of an Indian under water in a bath while they
took 4 out of his pocket. For this incidental
affair they were each awarded six months’ imprison-
ment and twenty lashes.

When they stood in the dock charged with
having stolen various safes, the evidence showed
that it took six Europeans to carry one of the safes,
and both the Judge and jury expressed doubt as


to whether Mf any ana, even aided by one of his
assistants, could have lifted it. The safe was taken
into the court by a dozen native constables, where-
upon Mfanyana, who had heard and understood
what had been said, stepped on one side quickly and
lifted the safe and the table on which it stood,

He was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment
with fifteen lashes, and then he declared that he
would never have been captured had it not been
for the death in the Pretoria gaol of Umgulugulu,
11 the king of native thieves.” This unfortunate
event, said the safe-thief, had broken the spell which
he had against arrest by the detectives.

The governor of the gaol at Pietermaritzburg
afterwards expressed the opinion that Mfanyana
was the most unruly convict, either black or white,
that he had ever had to deal with. He committed
many offences while serving this sentence, and on
two occasions was given twenty-five lashes.

It was not very long after Mfanyana had been
sentenced that he escaped in the January of 1908
and made his way back to Newcastle. There he
broke into a railway refreshment-room and a house.
He stole some liquor, and was re-captured while
lying in a drunken sleep on the outskirts of the
town. Ten years were added on to his term of
imprisonment on account of this escapade.

There was some trouble owing to the man being
in leg-irons while he walked through the street to
the court, but it was explained by those who had
to handle him that he was such a dangerous character
that they dared not march him along like an ordinary
prisoner. That their fears were somewhat justified
is shown by the fact that Mfanyana attempted to
escape six months later (for which he received ten
lashes), and a little while afterwards in some


mysterious way got out of his cell at the Pieter-
maritzburg gaol, climbed over a wall, and got away
at 5 a.m. He was not lucky on this occasion, for
he was seen hiding in a bush on the outskirts of
Pietermaritzburg, and once more was placed behind
the prison bars, before midnight. For this he
received a further sentence.

Mfanyana was now getting desperate. His one
craving in life was to regain his freedom. He openly
stated that if he could not get away he hoped they
would hang him. One day he got into the room
where the warders keep their arms, and, securing
a revolver, made his way out into the yard. He
shot at the first man he saw, and after firing several
times, pulled the trigger while the muzzle of the
weapon was within a foot of one of the warders,
who to this day thanks his lucky stars that for some
reason the cartridge missed fire.

The culprit was secured and taken back to his
cell, and, when tried for attempted murder, was
sentenced to six years’ additional imprisonment, but
he escaped not long afterwards, and on being re-
captured was given fifteen more lashes.

Mfanyana was, naturally, a constant source of
anxiety to the authorities at Pietermaritzburg gaol,
and as it was not considered that he was safe there,
he was removed to Pretoria, where he was made
so secure that there is little doubt but that he will
spend the rest of his days in prison.

The sentences against this prison-breaker are
known to amount to twenty-one years, without
such terms that he may have served prior to the
introduction of the finger-print system. It is also
recorded that he has had a total of one hundred and
ten lashes for his sins.

In Pietermaritzburg and Durban there are
municipal police forces which are not under the


control of the Natal Police. All criminal work
there is handed over to the C.I.D., there being a
branch of the department in Durban.

Lawless characters who are known to the police
have a somewhat restless time. The C.I.D. is
in constant touch with that haunt of villainy,
Johannesburg. As soon as a criminal settles down
there a little of the secret machinery of the police
force is set to work, and the undesirable being is
warned that he had better move on as he is being
closely watched. Generally speaking, every criminal
of any importance gets to Johannesburg eventually,
and works his own particular game until things get
too hot for him. Every winter there are thousands
of people from up-country in Durban, including a
tolerable sprinkling of criminals, and yet there is
very little crime there, comparatively, because the
men are aware that the eyes of the C.I.D. are on
them. The in-coming boats at Durban are also
closely watched.

The C.I.D. is now under the control of Inspector
Earle, who was one of the first men called in to
assist Mr. Clarke in the early days. Mr. Earle has
held his present position for seven years.



IN the gloomy interior of a grass hut there is a
shrivelled figure bending over a pot, the contents
of which the shrivelled figure stirs slowly as they
boil on the fire of wood. The hut reeks with smoke,
there being no ventilation save the occasional puffs
of wind which come through the little entrance not
three feet high. The whites of the eyes of the.
stooping man roll as though he were in pain, while
he mutters some weird incantation. He has done
this thousands of times, for perhaps he is a hundred
years old, and did the same thing for the never-to-
be-forgotten Chaka. He squats on his haunches
and peers into the pot from time to time, as though
cooking mealies and watching their progress.

But the pot contains the melted fat of a human
being who has been specially murdered for the
purpose. This is one of the abatakati one of the
witch-doctors preparing muti.

He sincerely believes that with the aid of this
liquid neatly bottled and corked he holds the power
of life and death over the friends and enemies of
his clients. Those who consult him, too, have
implicit faith in his power. Muti, or medicine, is a
generic term embracing not merely medicine to be
taken internally and externally, but charms of all
sorts, which are firmly held to have supernatural




There are over a thousand native doctors, or
herbalists, licensed to carry on their trade in Natal
and Zululand, these men curing various ills by means
of simple treatment ; but witchcraft is a criminal
offence, and the abatakati work their spells furtively.
Their unholy practices date back farther than any
white man can trace, and even when the kafir was
living in his natural wild state they were an offence
against the tribal laws. In the districts where the
Zulu is becoming more civilized, witchcraft is not
so extensively believed in, but even to-day there
are many districts in which a native, if his crops
were bad, would murder some one and take certain
parts of his body so that muti could be made of it.
This is dried and burnt, the smoke being allowed
to blow across the crops to improve them ; if it
does not, the muti clearly has been made improperly.
The substance from which muti is made, and the
manner of its application, depend entirely on the
mood of the witch-doctor. So childishly convinced
are the natives of its efficacy that they will readily
run the risk of imprisonment, or even death, in order
to get it.

One of the commonest requests put before the
abatakati is for a love charm. A Zulu youth, en-
amoured of some dusky maid, pays a live goat, or
perhaps a beast, to have a spell cast over her. The
youth may be given a twig or a root, with instruc-
tions to put it near the place where she will come
to draw water at dawn. Sometimes she learns what
is taking place, and, if she be susceptible, her heart
goes out to her lover. That has been good muti.
Should she spurn him, the muti has either been poor,
or she has defied its influence. Generally she does
not, or cannot, show defiance. When the girl knows
that her lover has applied the medicine spell to her,
the idea that it will cause her to give way, whether


she cares to or not, grows so powerful, and works
on her nerves to such an extent, that in a fit of
something akin to hysteria she eventually does
become one of his promised brides.

Gentle though the Zulu is, or appears to be in
many of his ways, he has crude ideas on the subject
of killing people, and it is by no means an uncommon
thing for the girl who scorns her lover’s muti to be
murdered by him.

Away down in the Umzimkulwana Valley, in a
desolate and forbidding region near Hell’s Gates,
there dwelt an uncanny-looking little Zulu named
Mtanti, who had achieved much renown as a witch-
doctor. It was known throughout Alfred County
that his spells were the finest procurable and worked
wonderfully. On this account he was looked upon
with awe and the deepest reverence. In October
1898, two love-lorn natives named Gomfe and Mbowa
approached him deferentially and begged that he
would give them muti that would cause the maidens
they adored to reciprocate their devotion. Mtanti
considered the difficult point gravely, and then
promised that their wish should be gratified so long
as they paid his fee, though he also stipulated that
they must assist him in the matter.

On the edge of the native location a man named
Kay had a lonely farm, and his solitary house-
servant was a ten-year-old boy, Gijimani, the son
of the witch-doctor. Kay, though of a retiring
disposition and inclined to live the life of a recluse,
was universally liked by his scattered neighbours,
both black and white. Apparently he had not an
enemy in the world. Mtanti paid a visit to his son,
spending the night in the boy’s kraal, but when all
was quiet he got up, called his assistant, a native
named Sibalweni, and joined the two lovers who
were waiting near. The four men entered Kay’s


house and deliberately killed him with assegais, the
witch-doctor afterwards cutting away a portion of
the dead man’s windpipe. In this ghoulish fashion
he was to obtain muti which was to work a love-spell.
When the farmer’s body was discovered the police
found that their most valuable witness was the boy
Gijimani. With that surprising frankness which
characterizes the Zulu in his natural and (< un-
civilized state,” he told how his father had come to
the farm and gone out during the night. It was clear
that robbery was not the motive, for nothing of value
in the house had been touched. As soon as the hue
and cry started all the four men implicated disap-
peared, and the police began a search which lasted
for months, the case creating a great deal of excite-
ment, because at that time the murder of a white
man by a native was an extremely rare event.

The murderers were at last captured, Mtanti
and his assistant being run to earth in Pondoland,
about forty miles from the scene. While the search
was in progress the boy was carefully guarded, there
being every reason to suppose that his father, if he
got the opportunity, would kill him.

One of the striking features of the trial was the
unhesitating and straightforward manner in which
the child gave evidence against his father, exhibiting no
more compunction in telling all he knew than he might
have shown if the man had been an utter stranger.

The two lovers were sentenced to penal servitude,
while Mtanti and Sibalweni were hanged in Harding
gaol in the presence of native chiefs and headmen
of the division. After the execution many natives
were called in to see the bodies still swaying at the
end of the ropes ; for the impression was very pre-
valent amongst them that the occult power of Mtanti
was so great that he could defy the white man and
even return to life if they killed him.


Although witchcraft was always an offence, the
belief in it was so great that many of the chiefs
employed the abatakati. It is related of Chaka that
at one time he had too many witch-doctors in his
retinue. He had methods peculiar to himself of
thinning out the ranks of undesirables. One day the
blood of a goat was sprinkled near the entrance to his
kraal. This might have been the work of an enemy
trying to cast a spell over the great chief, or it might
have been various other mysterious things. Chaka
assembled his mystics and ordered them, one after
another, to ” smell out ” the person who had done it.

Their task was singularly difficult, as Chaka had
done it himself, and each witch-doctor who named
the wrong person was dispatched to his forefathers
without ceremony. Only one wise old man, who
possibly had his suspicions, said vaguely, ” Zulu,” 1
indicating that the great chief had done it, and he was
rewarded with the privilege of living.

The ordinary Zulu, however, does not admit the
possibility of the witch-doctor making a mistake,
and this is proved by his belief in the ceremony of
obtaining information from a witch.

When he goes to consult the mystic the latter
sapiently remarks, ” You have trouble.”

<( Yizwa” 2 replies the troubled one emphatically,
violently clapping his hands. The witch then knows
he is on the right track and proceeds accordingly to
guess the wants of his client, whose only reply is
‘ ‘ Yizwa ‘ ‘ and clapping . The client has a very fair idea
of the identity of the person who has done him an
injury, or thinks he has, and he says ” Yizwa ” less
enthusiastically when the mystic is questioning in the
wrong direction. So the game goes on, very much like
that of ” hot and cold ” played by thousands of

1 This, of course, was Chaka’s “surname.”

2 ” Hear thou ! ”


children in England, and there is only one vital
difference. The client firmly believes the witch is
discovering his enemy for him, and the game played
in this way may eventually lead to the death of some
perfectly innocent person. The mystic, by a process
of elimination, having narrowed down the field of
inquiry to one person, declares that individual to be
guilty, and the client ends up by getting muti to put
a spell on him, or to kill him, according to fancy.

Murders committed by means of witch-doctors’
medicine often present the greatest difficulty to the
police. Some poisonous concoction placed in food
or drink has the desired effect, and it is invariably
only because of the Zulu’s utter inability to keep his
own counsel that the truth leaks out and the culprit
is hanged. Often the police are perfectly aware of
the facts but still cannot get a conviction, proof being
the stumbling-block. Owing to this habit of putting
medicine into food and drink it is the custom at a
native beer feast for the host to take the first sip.
This is an indication that there is no ill-feeling. It
only shows that muti was put in afterwards if one of
the guests dies next day.

Up to a few years ago murders of this kind were
much less frequently detected, because an analytical
examination of the stomach was not insisted upon.
In cases where poisoning was suspected the onus of
proof rested with the Attorney-General, in the absence
of any one capable of making a scientific examination.
The ” cat trick ” was usually resorted to. If a cat
died after being fed on the suspected parts it was
assumed that the dead man had been poisoned.

According to the Zulus, no man ever dies a natural
death : life is always ended by the use of witchcraft.
When a man expires his friends call in a witch-doctor
to ” smell out ” the person who placed on him the
fatal spell. Generally the witch-doctor puts the


blame on the richest native in the district. In
Pondoland in particular not long ago no native dared
to accumulate comparative wealth, for the moment
he displayed any sign of opulence a witch-doctor
would declare he had worked a fatal spell, and the
man was hounded down, his cattle being ruthlessly
taken from him.

The abatakati send out horrid messengers to the
people. When a hyena’s strident cry is heard, the
natives know it has come from a witch-doctor, and
is screaming, ” I’ve got you. I’ll have you.” This
ill omen is certain to be followed by some unspeakable
calamity. The doctor rides abroad on a wolf, baboon;
or a goat, and it is astonishing how many natives
have seen the abatakati prowling about in the moon-
light on such unserviceable steeds. Nothing would
shake their conviction that they really had seen such
an apparition.

There is one form of killing one’s neighbour in
Zululand which the natives declare to be very effective.
The ceremony is known as pehla, and is only per-
formed in very secluded places, because nobody
besides the amadhlozi (the spirits) must know what
is going on. There is one other good reason why
prying eyes must not observe the rite : many Zulus
have been killed by order of the chiefs for practising
pehla. There are certain herbs and leaves which
have to be placed in a calabash and stewed and
stirred. After a while there rises a froth, and at the
psychological moment the Zulu softly calls out the
name of his enemy. This, if done properly, is certain
death to the victim ; if he should not die, that is the
result of the herbs not having been correctly mixed.
Great care has to be exercised in seeing that the right
ingredients are used, for some herbs produce an
infallible love-charm, and an error might cause
awkward complications.


Another way of murdering an enemy without
subsequent trouble is to place a certain herb in one’s
mouth and puff one’s breath into the victim’s nostrils.
The Zulu places great faith in this method, though
there is no danger of the murderer being poisoned
in the operation

Many of the witch-doctors in remote places are
undoubtedly wonderful toxicologists. They know
the medicinal value of every herb and root that grows
in their country, and are able to compound subtle
poisons which would baffle a Harley Street specialist.
It is a recognized fact amongst the Natal Police that
many a man whose death has eventually to be attri-
buted to natural, or unknown, causes has been sent
to his grave by means of poison. Some of these
poisons leave little or no trace of their presence,
and where the death takes place a full day’s journey
from the district surgeon’s station, it is a couple of
days before he sees the body. In an extremely hot
climate the task of proving murder is impossible in
such circumstances.

As a result of his extensive knowledge of herbs,
the witch-doctor performs wonderful cures some-
times, and this doubtless accounts in a large degree
for the native’s faith in him. The patient, however,
has to take his chances as to whether he gets natural
or supernatural muti.

The natives’ faith in these doctors has led to some
of the oldest white colonists also believing in them,
for they will call in the Zulus to ” smell out ” stolen
cattle or other property, and even to ” doctor ”
their families.

A somewhat interesting experiment was made a
few years ago by two medical men who decided to
leave London, settle right away from civilization in
Natal, and combat the Zulus’ blind faith in native
witch-doctors, using the most approved modern


scientific methods. They ran up tin and iron
shanties, and it was possible for the blacks to be
treated in the wilds with all the medical skill that
could be obtained in the best of hospitals. The
experiment was an utter failure. In six months the
two doctors had to abandon their rural shanties and
admit that they had been beaten by native super-

Even near the larger towns of Natal to-day
there lurks the fear of the abatakati (which means
literally, ” Those who only lack fur all over their bodies
to make them animals “), for the human heart makes
very good muti. Workers going home in the evening
between the vast wattle plantations peer uneasily
into the dark depths of the trees, constantly dreading
the descent of a knobkerry on their pates, after which
they would be cut up and parts of them boiled down
into efficacious jelly.

‘Children and young girls not infrequently dis-
appear, and though the police cannot always be
certain of the fate which has overtaken them, it is
often safe to assume that the little ones have fallen
victims to these ghastly rites. Occasionally the
mutilated remains of an infant found in an ant-hole
tell their own grim story.

When a young chief arrives at the age of puberty
he is doctored for the benefit of his tribe in general,
and himself in particular. If the witch-doctor should
require some portion of a human being for the muti
he may send a native to obtain it. The instructions
are given in the quaint Zulu idiom. The doctor
would never dream of saying, ” Go, get me the ear of
a white man.” If he wanted such a thing he would
put it thus : ” A loathsome creature that enters its
kraal on two legs stands in my way. I desire its ear.”
A white man does not have to go on all fours to get
into his house, but a kafir does to get into his hut.


A witch-doctor of Pondoland had to give muti
to a chief, and he deputed a native to get certain
portions of a child’s body. A half-caste living in the
district, named Jerome Oakes, had a little daughter
who was just beginning to toddle. In searching for
good muti a Zulu puts all scruples on one side. In
this case the native had actually been brought up
with the baby’s mother, having been her father’s
servant for more than twenty years. One morning
the child wandered away from the house, up a water
sluit, and circumstantial evidence showed that the
native murdered her there. The police had practi-
cally no evidence to work upon excepting marks of
blood on a stone in the sluit, and their task proved
a long and baffling one.

The half-caste, distracted through the loss of his
daughter, hampered rather than helped the police,
and, such is the faith in witch-doctors and their kind,
he begged and prayed Sergeant Esmonde White to
let him go to one of these creatures and consult him.
He declared that the police did not understand such
matters and begged for money to pay the necessary
fee. Oakes became such a positive nuisance that the
sergeant gave him a coin in order to get rid of him,
and the half-caste went straight to a blind old hag
who lived miles away.

He returned and told a peculiar story which there
was every reason to believe was true. He said that
the sightless witch was squatting at the entrance to
her kraal by herself as he rode up, and when he
approached she addressed him by name and told
him he had come to look for his child. Somewhat
surprised, he dismounted, handed the coin to her,
and prepared to start the ukubula. 1 On receiving
the money she started off rapidly, saying the child
was dead, but they were looking in the wrong direction
1 Ceremony of getting information.


(which happened to be true). Then she stopped
suddenly, with an angry snarl, and threw the money
back at the half-caste.

” The white police have given you this,” she
said savagely. ” I know nothing about the child.
Go ! ” Nor could the sorrowing father persuade
the witch, in whom he had the profoundest faith, to
say another word ; so he returned and handed the
coin back to the sergeant.

After a protracted search the police discovered
the child’s clothing in the native’s muti bag, and
sufficient evidence having been obtained, he was
tried, found guilty, and hanged.

If a chief thinks he is losing his power he calls his
witch-doctors together for advice ; and on occasions
they decide to ukumisa, or strengthen him. This
is a very solemn process, and involves the death of
some man in the tribe who has left another tribe to
join them. The abatakati have the victim murdered,
and certain parts of his flesh, mixed with herbs and
roots, are made into muti powder.

Surrounded by his tribe, the chief takes a dose of
this concoction. He squats in front of it and dips
first one hand and then the other into it, swallowing
the stuff in quick gulps. Meanwhile, other muti
having been made out of powdered orchids and
other things mixed with water, every man present
is sprinkled with it, after which the natives go away
from the scene, being very careful not to look back,
which blunder would undo all the good.

A case of this kind occurred quite recently within
sixty miles of Pietermaritzburg.

On occasions the neighbours of an umtakati take
very extreme measures when they deal with him.

Near to the Manyuseni Hill, in the Mpofane
Location, about thirty miles from Greytown, people
were dying rather rapidly early in 1910, and all the


natives believed that they were being killed by
Mbemu, who was known to be able to put death-
spells on those whom he did not like.

One night the hut in which he lived alone was seen
to be in flames, and the next morning he was found
close to the ashes of his home, dead and covered with
burnt grass. He was literally wounded from head to
foot with assegais, and a number of assegai heads
had been left in his body.

Every Zulu in the district, however carefully
questioned, displayed utter ignorance of the affair, and
after a few days the police were compelled to stop
inquiries. Long afterwards they discovered that
nearly every native had known all about it, but would
not give a hint to the police because they considered
it a proper course to have taken in killing Mbemu, in
view of his having put death-spells on so many other
people. In spite of the work put in by Detective
R. E. Stevens, it is probable that the truth never
would have come out but for the idle chatter of two
women. Quite six months after the murder took place
the news reached the police that a native and two
women had actually seen the crime committed. One
of the women told a friend ” in confidence,” and the
friend repeated the news, as it was the choicest bit of
scandal she had ever heard.

A few days later four men named Nongqai,
Mashayinkomo,Latsheni,and Mbotshwawere arrested.
At the time of the murder Nongqai’s mother had just
died, and his father was dying. Convinced that this
was the work of Mbemu, Nongqai took the other three
men with him late at night and set fire to the thatch of
their victim’s hut. The four stood by the small door,
assegais in hand, and when Mbemu rushed out,
aroused by the fire, they plunged their weapons into
his heart. Terribly wounded, he staggered a few
yards, and then fell, whereupon the murderers


stood over him and stabbed him time after time.
They covered him with dry grass and set fire to it. A
pair of Nongqai’s trousers, covered with blood, and
cut into pieces, were found a few hundred yards from
the burnt hut.

The next morning Nongqai and Mashayinkomo
were dancing jubilantly at a kraal a mile away, and
singing their own praises, a number of natives stand-
ing round. The police arrived there by chance an
hour or two afterwards, but nothing was said of
the triumphal dance.

At the conclusion of the preliminary trial Nongqai
admitted his guilt, and that of Mashayinkomo and
Latsheni, but said that Mbotshwa was not with them.
This was probably due to a curious form of revenge.
When they saw the evidence was getting too strong
for them Mashayinkomo and Latsheni declared that
Nongqai killed the man single-handed, and Mbotshwa
preserved silence on the point. This silence saved
his life, for though they were all sentenced to be
hanged the sentence on Mbotshwa was afterwards
reduced to penal servitude for life.

There was a peculiarly drastic method of dealing
with witch-doctors, particularly those guilty of body-
snatching, up to twenty or thirty years ago. It may
prevail to-day, but the natives are so closely watched
by the police that they have little opportunity of
murdering a witch-doctor without being found out.
Certainly they would do it if they thought they would
go undetected.

The umtakati was seized, and a number of short
sticks were thrust into his body. Each stick had two
prongs, the object of these being to create additional
pain when the twig was twisted. This was continued
until the witch-doctor became unconscious, whereupon
the sharpened end of a knobkerry was stuck into his


This ceremony was carried out with due solemnity,
after which the dying witch-doctor was conveyed to
his kraal and deposited with his wives, the single
word ” receive ” being uttered by the men. The
mention of that word was quite sufficient to indicate
the fate that had overtaken the victim. A screen was
put round him and he was left there until he died.
It was a severe lesson to other witch-doctors in the
district for a little while, but others would begin to
practise the unholy rites very soon afterwards.

Even after a Zulu is dead he has not finished with
the dread power of the abatakati, for his friends and
relations watch over the grave for weeks to see that
no witch-doctor digs up the body. The ghoul might
do this with the wicked object of cutting off the
tongue, or some other part of the body, turning it
into medicine, and converting the dead man into a
miniature ghost, which for all time must do his
bidding. The Zulu not only firmly believes in these
little ghosts, but he will often tell you he has seen
them. They are never more than three feet high,
and live entirely on the drainings of kafir beer ; and
their vocation is to torture the enemies of the witch-

Quite recently a native named Sibidhle was
victimized at Ndwedwe, where an umtakati asked him
to sell some cattle. Sibidhle wanted his cattle, and
refused to part from them, so the witch-doctor made
things particularly unpleasant for him. Sibidhle was
found lying outside his hut, very ill indeed beyond
all question. He could neither speak nor walk for
three weeks, but gradually he recovered and confided
in the local sergeant of the police. He was lying in his
hut, he explained, when a dozen little men entered and
made a fire on the floor. Then they started to throw
earth at him. Presently the umtakati entered and
asked whether they had hurt Sibidhle sufficiently.


Some of the little men thought they had not, so they
got a fresh supply of earth and bombarded him
again. The witch-doctor meanwhile took all his
money and muti, and then the little tormentors
carried the native out of his hut, and deposited him
where he was found next day by his wives. He was
still ill when he told the police all about it, and he
begged the sergeant not to do anything to the umtakati,
lest the latter should kill him. The abatakati prob-
ably produce these hallucinations by means of
hypnotism. Nearly every native carries about with
him his small muti bag, containing little bits of herb or
roots which nothing would induce him to part with.
Often he is quite unable to tell what effect this muti
has on his life, but generally it is carried for some
definite purpose, such as a love-charm or to ward off
evil spirits. Civilized folk scoff at him frequently for
this peculiarity, quite forgetting that they themselves
probably always carefully carry their own mascot,
such as a lucky sixpence or some absurd trinket, with
the firm belief that something would go wrong if they
left it behind.

When Pondoland warriors are preparing for war
they catch a black bull and cut one of its forelegs off
by the shoulder while it is alive. Muti is made out
of the severed member, and with it each fighting man
is smeared on the forehead. They would not dream
of going into battle without being doctored in this
way, and, once doctored, no native must sleep in a
hut until after the fight. Their superstition is so
profound that if a fight went against them they would
not under any circumstances wield an assegai against
another man until fresh muti had been placed on their

The native’s craving for muti cost the Natal
Police the life of the regimental pet a few years ago.
Once day a fine young zebra mare, while running wild,


joined a troop of horses on a farm at Vryheid. It
grew tame, and was afterwards bought by the police
for 25 and christened ” Jan.” The zebra became a
great favourite with every one excepting the two
trumpeters, who on parade days had to don their war
paint and take charge of her. Jan had no dignity
on those dignified occasions. Her chief joy in life
seemed to be to wait for the most awkward moment
on parade and then kick and bolt. On most other
occasions she was docile enough. She had a bosom
companion in an old pack pony that shared her stable.
The two were inseparable, and if the pack pony were
sent out on duty Jan would trot along placidly at her

One night Jan took it into her head to roam
on her own account, and on this excursion she met
her doom. Getting out of her stable at the barracks,
she trotted straight off into the country. When she
was missed next morning search parties were sent
out. One of the police got on to her track, being in-
formed by different natives in which direction she had
been seen trotting. He reached the location near
Table Mountain, about twenty-five miles from
Pietermaritzburg, and then lost trace of her. Hearing
that a witch-doctor was putting muti on a party of
natives, the trooper grew suspicious, and found the
umtakati holding the severed tail of poor Jan in his
hand, dipping it in her blood and smearing the Zulus
around with it.

The chief of the tribe had remonstrated with his
men for killing the zebra, telling them it was the
private property of the police. This, in their eyes,
made the muti all the better. Such was the feeling
of affection on the part of the police towards Jan
that if a number of the troopers had arrived on the
scene when her blood was being used as medicine there
would have been a good deal of human blood shed.


As it was, those responsible for her death were taken
before the magistrate and fined 5 each.

One of the few other regimental pets the force ever
had was a queer old mongrel dog which strolled up to
the police and claimed their friendship in 1876 when
they were taking part in the annexation of the Trans-
vaal. From the moment he entered the camp the dog
took the whole force under his wing, and they called
him Transvaal. He had some extraordinary habits.
When it got into his canine brain that he ought to
inspect the camp at Grey town, nearly fifty miles
away, he would start off quietly and drop in amongst
his trooper friends there unexpectedly. Perhaps,
after he had had a look round there and found every-
thing in good order, he would disappear again and
turn up at some other station far away, finally
wandering back to headquarters.

Transvaal would go anywhere with any man
wearing the Natal Police uniform, as they were all
part of his family, and if he happened to follow a man
who was going to visit friends in the town he would
wait for that particular man on the doorstep even
if he had to stop there all night. No other trooper
could persuade him to desert that doorstep ; he was
” on duty,” and remained there as faithfully as
though the honour of the force depended on it.

On one occasion five horses were lost from the
barracks at Pietermaritzburg. When they were
traced, about forty miles from the camp, the old
dog was found faithfully guarding them. He had
been looking after them while they wandered on for
three days.

For many years he stuck to his police friends,
trekking with them when they were ordered into
battle. Transvaal went with the corps through the
Zulu War of 1879, the Boer War of 1881, and the
Basuto War. Nobody knows exactly what was his


end. Either a bullet got him in one of the skirmishes,
or he fell into the hands of the natives, to be used up
as their eternal medicine.

Native superstition led to the arrest within forty-
eight hours of a Zulu who in 1906 murdered a road
party overseer named Waters, six miles from
Nkandhla. Waters was assegaied at night in his
tent by a native known as Maqomankulu. He stole
the dead man’s carbines, and fired two shots to
frighten away other Zulus who came near. With
the usual inaccuracy of the excited black, one of them
ran to the local police headquarters and reported that
a ” big impi had wiped out the missionary and the
white overseer of the road party.” The police had
the greatest difficulty in reaching the dead man’s body
on account of Waters’ dog, a bull terrier, which
stood over the corpse and refused to allow any one to
approach it.

It is one of the firm rules observed by Zulus
that nobody who has committed murder sleeps in
his hut or on a mat for four days, though he may
sleep on a bed of grass in the ixiba or out-house.
Sergeant F. L. Wilkinson, who had charge of the
case, discovered that Maqomankulu was following
this custom. A murderer also kills a goat and
makes ” medicine,” which eases his conscience.
This Zulu had also killed a goat, and its body was
found. When the police arrived he trekked to a
donga with eight other rebels. After midnight
Wilkinson set out with Trooper de Ros and a couple
of native policemen. They found the murderer at a
kraal close to the scene of the crime. At first he
tried to escape, but finding that he was surrounded
expressed astonishment when the charge of murder
was mentioned. He declared he was actually
hunting for the culprit.

Some curious charms, usually worn round the


neck, had been found on the man’s bed of grass.
It was proved that these were the property of
Maqomankulu, and attached to them were some
scraps of roots which he had bitten and carried
about with him ” to give him strength in his arms.”
These were proved to be his, and though he never
admitted his guilt he was convicted.

One of the first forms of muti a Zulu flies to in
case of sickness, real or imaginary, is cutting his
flesh. If they fancy they are ill they go to a friend
and beg him to apply the knife. As soon as the
wound has bled they rub into it a black powder,
which smarts horribly, and is supposed to have the
power of healing the cut.

The very old doctors, who really have great
knowledge of herbs, are nearly invariably wrinkled
on the face to an extraordinary degree. Men who
know the Zulu and his ways will tell you this is
due to a life-long effort of memory. Certainly they
have a memory far excelling that of any white man.
If a sheep were lost, and one of those old doctors
had examined it casually a couple of months before,
he would be able to pick the missing animal out
from a flock of two or three hundred with absolute

He can neither read nor write, and all his learning
is stored up in his memory from the moment when,
as a boy of twelve or thirteen, he starts out on his
travels as assistant to some other doctor. The pair
of them go off on a long tour, sometimes lasting
six months, and on the way the boy carries his
master’s smoking horn, mats, blankets, wooden
pillow, bags and medicine, the lot often weighing
fifty pounds. He studies his master’s methods, and
picks up his learning in this way alone. The fee of
a first-class native doctor who actually can cure his
patients, is one beast per patient, and they acquire


considerable wealth in this way. Instead of driving
the beast along with them they leave it at the
patient’s kraal, where it remains until it is claimed.
If a doctor even had half a hundred beasts scattered
all over the country he could describe the colours
of each animal and its peculiarities with unerring

Although the witch-doctors as a rule have
absolute faith in their own magic, there are a few
charlatans amongst them, as in any other business.
When Sir Godfrey Langdon was Native Commissioner
in Basutoland he took a very great interest in his
poultry. So did the local Basutos, with the result
that his birds diminished in numbers rapidly. They
were clever thieves, and could rarely be caught in
the act. One day the Commissioner mentioned his
trouble to a chief, who said he would send a witch-
doctor the cleverest man in the land, who made
a large income at his work to put a spell on the
chickens, thus rendering them safe from intruders.
Sir Godfrey laughed, but the witch-doctor arrived
shortly afterwards, clad in a wonderful costume,
comprising all the paraphernalia of his kind. He
was wrapped round and about with snake skins, and
mysterious articles were suspended from his clothing.
Bowing and scraping, he begged in the native tongue
to be allowed in consideration of an adequate fee
to work his spell.

More out of curiosity than anything else, the
Commissioner told the man to get on with his
performance, and he watched the proceeding intently.
Gathering together innumerable small white stones,
the native put these all round the chicken-run very
slowly and with much solemn pantomime, the while
chanting an incantation. Sir Godfrey followed him
and strained his ears to catch the weird words which
were to ensure him keeping his precious chickens.


When the ceremony was concluded the witch-
doctor, looking round to see that they were alone,
said in perfect English, without even a trace of the
Cape-educated black’s accent : ” Of course, Sir
Godfrey, you and I know this is all damned rot, but
it will keep the niggers away.”

Afterwards Sir Godfrey could not even get
a native to go near enough to the chickens to feed



As a criminal the Zulu is not a success. He is a
cunning, vicious creature, but he is not particularly
clever, for he will leave the most glaring traces of
his handiwork behind without thinking of the conse-
quences. His crude methods would disgust the
finished cracksman of England.

He is a dangerous sort of person to take into
custody, for he would readily murder his captors to
regain freedom if he could, and he puts very little
value on his own life when cornered, although as a
general rule the Zulu is particularly fond of life.
Once demoralized he becomes very subtle. If he
desired to kill any one he would smilingly accept
his victim’s hospitality for a week or more, the while
waiting for an opportunity to murder him.

Even to the native’s primitive mind, it is wrong
to steal, but the Zulu who has become a criminal
steals for the sheer love of stealing, and not because
of actual want. No native who is willing to work
need go hungry, for he can obtain employment at
any time. Most farmers will advance him a sack
of mealies if he will undertake to remain with them
for a month. There are honest natives, but it is
an indisputable fact that those who have taken to
wearing European clothing can be trusted least, for
they want money, and money they will obtain,
somehow or other.


The raw native who still wears only his umutsha, 1
has practically only one ambition, and that is to
obtain wives, so that his progeny may be numerous
and work for him, enabling him to ” retire ” at the
age of thirty-five or forty. He is honest, according
to his own outlook on life, but the honest native is
getting scarce, very largely as a result of the influence
of ” civilization.” In recent years the natives have
lost their cattle and goats from plagues, and now
must work, steal, or fall.

In his raw state a Zulu is admirable in many
ways, but as he mixes with white people he picks
up all their vices and few of their virtues. Not
many years since one would have been able to leave
a wagon laden with valuables at a kraal for months
and find it untouched when one returned. Now not
only its contents but the wagon also would probably

One marked trait in the character of the native
criminal is that after he has started to commit one
particular sort of offence he will continue with that
form of crime.

There was a kafir who was as honest as a bishop
until he got anywhere near fowls, and then he could
not resist the temptation to steal them. On twenty
occasions he was sent to prison for this form of
misdemeanour, and he was never known to offend
in any other manner.

Still more remarkable was the record of an ancient
Zulu named Umbuzo. He was a fatherly old soul,
with a marvellous memory for faces. His weakness
was cattle-stealing, and he spent thirty-five years in
prison altogether. Like many more of his kind, he
remained faithful to one form of crime.

This old individual was remarkably useful in
prison. His kraal was in the Camperdown district,
1 The native dress.


and as he never went far from home in pursuit of
his misdeeds, he always landed back in the central
gaol at Pietermaritzburg. Before the introduction
of the finger-print system the police had to depend
upon memory to tell whether a man had been through
their hands before or not. The old cattle-thief was
practically infallible. It was his boast that he
never forgot a face, and he was certainly very extra-
ordinary in this respect. He was never taken into
court to prove a previous conviction, but whenever
there was any doubt about a man the opinion of
the antique Zulu was asked, to assist the police in
hunting up his record. The cattle-thief must have
been fairly happy in prison, for the moment he was
released he started stealing other people’s beasts
again without even taking the trouble to go into
another district.

Umbuzo ended his days in prison while serving a
sentence of nine years.

A native thief depends upon his own agility to
avoid capture instead of using his brains. There are
instances of Zulus having been convicted three times
as a result of their leaving finger-prints on glass.
Even the dullest European criminal would hardly be
likely to fall into this trap a third time.

The average Zulu distinctly objects to work, and,
when he can, he lives by his wits, though he rarely
knows how to do that properly. There is one
notable exception in the person of Fayedwa.

Nobody who ever had anything to do with this
individual will forget him. He is in prison now, and
he has been in prison a dozen times before, but he
is one of the most remarkable ventriloquists breath-
ing. Every Zulu has a way of making himself heard
at a distance. This is due to the formation of the
Zulu words, and the native’s clear enunciation,
although many people living in the country to-day


ascribe it to a form of ventriloquism. After two
natives have met on a country road and exchanged
the usual courtesies, which are as likely as not to
consist of inquisitive questions, they continue to
talk while walking away from one another for a
considerable distance, without turning round. A
white man, speaking in the same tone, could not
make himself heard at half the distance.

This faculty was strongly developed in Fayedwa,
and in his early youth he travelled about with a
circus, doing an ordinary ” boy’s ” l work. A ven-
triloquist who was amongst the performers interested
him greatly, and Fayedwa studied at his feet, event-
ually becoming far more expert than his master.
Perhaps he would have been a good Zulu all the
days of his life had he not picked up the trick of
ventriloquism, but it ruined him socially and morally ;
for he is a wily mortal, and soon saw that he could
earn a lot of money by frightening his simple, super-
stitious fellow-beings.

Nobody knows, nor ever will know, what pranks
he got up to at first, but he originally came under
the notice of the police at Camperdown, where it
was discovered that he had secured great influence
over a chief. He used to go into a hut and stagger
the occupants of the place by making voices appear
to come from outside or up in the roof. Addressing
the men by name, the voice told them that some
appalling calamity would visit them if they did not
present Fayedwa with money, cattle, goats, or
women. The voice purported to be that of a departed
spirit, and the terrified natives hastened to give the
ventriloquist anything that he chose to ask for. He
found this more amusing, and infinitely more pro-
fitable, than being a circus handy -man, and he

1 A native servant, however old he may be, is invariably re-
ferred to as a boy.


even extracted money from the chief of the local

These mysterious events came to the ears of the
police, who sent native constables to arrest the man.
The quick-witted Fayedwa was equal to the occasion.
As soon as a constable got near him he would be
horrified to hear a voice behind him saying, ” Touch
not this man, or woe betide you, your family, and
your friends ” or something equally startling.

Turning round in alarm, and seeing nobody there,
the constables were scared. Thinking it was the
dreaded voice of an umtakati, they dared not arrest
the man.

Improbable though this sounds, for the average
music-hall ventriloquist could not deceive any one
in the same way, it is officially recorded at the C.I.D.
that for years Fayedwa kept the native police from
laying hands on him by means of ventriloquism.
They looked upon him as something sacred.

After he had been in prison the first time he took a
house outside Durban and carried on the same game.
Two native constables were sent after the man, and
they took him into custody, but let him go and ran
in holy horror as soon as they heard the voice ex-
plaining what would happen to them if they dared to
detain this august person. He was soon afterwards
taken into custody, and after a second term of im-
prisonment took up his abode on the south coast of
Natal. He was too clever to go back to his old
haunts, for the natives there would not have been so
credulous as to satisfy his demands when they knew
he had been in prison.

After Fayedwa had been in gaol twice the native
constables were not so terrified of him, though they
evinced a distinct objection to have anything to do
with the gentleman for years afterwards. Some-
times, when sent out to arrest him, they would return


and report that he had left the district, or was not
to be found. In these cases he had frightened them
away, as a rule, and they did not like to admit it.

Even now some of the native police are very
frightened of him. Fayedwa amused himself at the
expense of the native warders when he was first put
into prison. They were in a state of alarm, and the
authorities were even afraid that he would induce
some native to let him get away. The guards heard
the voices of their grandmothers and other people
promising death and destruction if they did not
see that the prisoner got away, but extra care was
taken of the man, and he has never succeeded in
escaping so far.

For the last seventeen years Fayedwa has thriven
on his ventriloquism. He could make an excellent
living on the stage, for there are few so skilled as he,
but he makes a better one out of the raw natives in
different places.

A native of a very different stamp walked into the
Umgeni police station in 1908 and said he wished to
be properly punished for stealing a horse at Lady-
smith some years previously. The police, perhaps
naturally, were unsympathetic, and as he persisted,
came to the conclusion that he was insane.

Quite hurt, the native walked to the C.I.D.
office in Pietermaritzburg and repeated his story
there. The officials were not much inclined to believe
him, as the request was such an extraordinary one
for a black to make, particularly after such a length
of time had elapsed, but on looking up the records
they found that there had been a horse theft on the
day he mentioned, and the circumstances were
exactly as he described them.

The most remarkable part of the affair was the
reason he gave for making the confession. He said
he had had a vision, in which he walked through a


very beautiful country which was strange to him.
Suddenly he was confronted by a being who he
saw was not human. This being held out a book
in which the kafir saw entered his first crime. He
looked at the opposite page and saw that he had
atoned, by going to prison, for this offence, and when
he looked again at the first page the entry had dis-

This went on with each of his offences until he was
shown the one for which he gave himself up. This
refused to vanish from the page, but instead grew
blacker and blacker. The being informed him that
the book was his heart, that he must report himself
to the police without delay, and that he must go to
prison to atone for the theft of the horse.

He was tried and found guilty ; and it is a pity
nobody knows whether the sentence did him any good
afterwards, for he got twenty lashes, followed by a
year’s hard labour.

The Indians in Natal and Zululand are much more
law-abiding than the Zulus. There are not nearly
so many of them about 150,000 Indians to 1,000,000
Zulus and the chief offences for which they have to
be watched are such as refusing to work for the
employer to whom they are indentured. There is
comparatively little crime amongst them, and, unlike
the Zulus, they commit offences chiefly amongst their
own people.

About four years ago there was a curious case at
Cramond, on the Clan Wattle Syndicate’s estate,
near New Hanover. Groans were heard coming from
the direction of a small building near the barracks,
and an Indian, who had only been in the country
ten days, was found on the ground with both his feet
and his right hand cut off. In this mangled condition
he had crawled part of the way round the building.

He declared that someone had attacked him, but


there were one or two circumstances which cast
doubt on his statement. In the first place, he had
declared he would rather do anything than work ;
nobody could discover that he had a single enemy ;
he could not say who had attacked him ; and in
view of the fact that his right hand was severed it
was significant that he was left-handed. He was not
found until twelve hours after the maiming had been
done, and although in a fainting condition he was far
from dying. The Indian was not insane ; but Indians
are peculiarly obstinate when they decide not to
continue work. The probability is that he cut off
his own feet and hand to make certain that his em-
ployer would not be able to compel him to rejoin the
labour gang.

The Zulu who for generations has taken kafir
beer in considerable quantities when he felt so in-
clined, is predisposed to alcohol, and this has been
the cause of a problem which is constantly in front
of the police. The native beer (called utshwala)
is a concoction made from millet (known as amabele),
and induces heaviness rather than inebriation. This
liquid he is permitted to imbibe, but it is a criminal
offence for him to take other forms of alcohol, and it
is also a criminal offence for white men to give or
sell liquor to the natives, who, having little or no
restraint, would drink to excess whenever they
snatched the opportunity. It demoralises them
completely, and there is no knowing what they will
do when under its influence. And yet the Zulus
are constantly found to be obtaining drink, particu-
larly those who have lived in the neighbourhood of
Johannesburg, where they have acquired the craving
as a result of the extensive scale on which the illicit
drink trade is carried on there. The trouble exists
largely in the remote Natal and Zululand districts,
where the publican retails liquor at exorbitant


prices to the Zulus whom he knows. These publicans
will rarely supply a native whom they do not know,
dreading the danger of police traps. So far these
traps have been the only way in which the culprits
could be caught. Nobody likes employing traps in
police work, but it is a case of necessity in regard to
selling liquor to natives.

In order to get a conviction, the police have to
obtain a perfectly clear case against the publican,
and must produce in court the identical liquor sold
to the native. When it becomes evident that some
licence-holder is carrying on this illicit trade, a
European member of the force takes with him two
native constables, and, after searching them to see
that they have no other money in their possession,
gives them certain marked coins and sends them
into the suspected house. He must make certain
that they do not go elsewhere, and in order to be
able to swear to their movements sometimes lies
for a long time in the grass or behind other suitable
cover awaiting their return. Before going into the
house they are provided with a bottle, and they
have to resort to all sorts of tricks to get the liquor.
Sometimes they put a sponge in their mouth and,
after emptying the glass, squeeze the drink into the
bottle. But even there the difficulties of the police
do not end. The native constables occasionally
have to wait a long time before Boniface will serve
them, and the officer outside has to be patient.

Experience has shown that if two natives do not
give identically the same version of what happened,
the licence-holder gets the benefit of the doubt.
The cases are always defended by a smart lawyer,
and as it is not difficult to make a native tie himself
into a knot during cross-examination, the task of
the police is peculiarly difficult and disagreeable.

Sometimes a native will boldly sell extremely


bad whisky or gin with which he has been supplied
at an enormous profit by a low-class white man
in a shanty of his own, but these drinking dens are
soon closed down, for their existence rapidly becomes
obvious and the police have power to walk straight
in and search the place.

Two formidable Zulus, Hlobana and Somtshali,
created a reign of terror in the neighbourhood of
Colenso a few years ago. They began with holding
up a number of Italian railway contractors at Colenso,
and some time after this they held up a native store
at Chieveley, having rigged themselves out in some
old native police uniforms. A volunteer had left
his rifle at the Chieveley railway station, and while
the night guard was attending to a train, they
entered the office by a back window and stole the
weapon. A couple of nights later they broke into
the goods shed, and got away with property worth
about 15 ; and then, having travelled about sixty
miles during the night, probably on stolen horses,
they held up a store on the banks of the Tugela,
threatening the Indian who kept it until he handed
over a quantity of jewellery and some watches.
From there they made a rapid move to a mission
station near Chieveley. Pointing the gun at the
missionary, they demanded money. He gave them
all he had and invited them to join in prayer. They
gravely promised to return for that purpose another

Two nights after they again held up an Arab
store in Chieveley, securing a considerable quantity
of property, after which they took jewellery worth
16 from an Indian storekeeper at Frere.

After having stolen a night lamp at Colenso
railway station, they returned a little while later
and broke into the goods store, where they secured
some boxes of soap, and sweets, thinking they


contained liquor. After carrying these out on to
the veldt, and discovering their mistake, they
destroyed them, and, returning to Colenso, broke
into a store. From there they went to Lady smith,
and, having ransacked a store, burnt it to the

The pair were arrested by a C.I.D. detective at
Colenso, Hlobana being imprisoned for ten years,
and Somtshali for seven.

While serving their sentences at Pietermaritzburg
they escaped, together with another thief named
Gogogo, who had been closely associated with them
in many of their misdeeds. The trio got away
from the labour gang about a couple of years ago ;
Somtshali was recaptured the same day, Gogogo
was taken at his kraal, and Hlobana has not been
heard of since, though there is not the slightest
doubt that, unless he happens to have died, he will
be arrested for a repetition of his own particular
form of offence, when h.is finger-prints will give him

A sable gentleman named Badhlu some years
ago spent a long time worrying the life out of the
police. He was an inveterate sheep-stealer, and
at times he varied the monotony by annexing horses.

Badhlu was a tall Zulu of magnificent physique,
and generally wore just the native umutsha. He
was as quick as a lizard, strong as a bull, and had
much more intelligence than most of his kind. His
keen, brown eyes could detect danger where none
else could see it, and for months he defied not only
the police, but also two native tribes which joined
in the hunt.

His kraal was at Hella Hella, near Richmond,
and once he had learnt the art of stealing, his
audacity knew no bounds. Farmers all over the
district complained bitterly of missing animals.


Generally he skinned the sheep where he killed it,
and disappeared with his booty into the dense bush
that covers that part of the country. The police
soon discovered who the culprit was. That was
simple enough, because other natives, fearful of being
accused themselves, admitted that Badhlu was
constantly making mysterious nocturnal excursions,
disappearing into the great Enon bush at dusk,
although superstition prevented other natives from
entering it at nightfall. There were traces, too, of
Badhlu ‘s handiwork in many cases of horse theft.
These animals were found at different kraals, where
they had been sold by a tall Zulu who was glad to
part with them for a nominal price. The trouble
was to catch, or even see the wily thief.

Rumours would reach the police camp at times
that Badhlu had come back to the neighbourhood,
and on these occasions the whole available force
would turn out for a grand hunt. This occurred
several times at night, and the men scoured the
district for miles. Badhlu could run like a hare,
and as he knew every inch of the country it was
almost impossible to run him to earth amongst the
hills and deep gullies. Of course, his kraal was
watched closely, whenever the necessary men could
be spared, but that had little effect, for Badhlu was
the last man in the world to walkUnto a trap, so his
wife .rarely saw him. She did once, however, and
never forgot it. She told the story to the police,
full of indignation.

One pitch dark night, when the rain was falling
as it only can rain in that climate, someone knocked
at the door of her kraal, and she found her husband
outside securely bound on the back of a pony.
Two mounted men told her curtly that they were
detectives, that they had arrested Badhlu, and had
orders to convey her with him to the magistracy.


With somewhat mixed feelings, for the horse
thief was not a model husband, she obeyed, and
trudged through the rain for some miles. To her
surprise, however, Badhlu was then set free and
the horses were abandoned. She was coolly informed
that the whole thing was a ruse to get her to accom-
pany him to another state, as that district was
getting too hot to hold him. The astonished
woman became angry instead of falling on the neck
of her spouse and congratulating him on not being
captured. Moreover, she declined to go another
step, and declared she was going to return to her
home and friends.

Badhlu was an awkward person to thwart, and
he gave her such a thrashing, aided by the two
” detectives,” that she feigned submission and walked
on with the party. For three nights she kept up
with them, and at last escaped in the darkness.

Her first action was to report to the police what
her husband had done she was bruised and starving
and where he was. The pseudo-detectives she
described so minutely that they were arrested within
a week and imprisoned for impersonating the police.
But the slim sheep-stealer had vanished, and his two
colleagues denied all knowledge of his movements.
For a while no sheep were missed, Badhlu either being
away or lying low.

Once his easily distinguished figure was seen
by a band of native police who were armed with
knobkerries and assegais. He shot off like an ante-
lope, but they kept on his track till he came to a small
precipice. Here his pursuers opened out with the
object of hemming him in, but the fearless Zulu
leaped into the scrub below, a drop of quite ten yards.
Expecting to find their quarry mangled or dead, they
hurried down to find nothing but a small pool of
blood . Once again the native had made good his escape .


The sheep-stealing became so bad that the Govern-
ment called upon the chiefs of a couple of tribes to
assist the police. He heard of this, but appeared to
view the fresh danger as an added fascination, and for
over three months continued his operations, avoiding
capture with amazing skill, and declaring to his
friends that he would never be taken alive. As he
invariably carried an assegai and an axe, this possibly
damped the ardour of the two native tribes that
had been requested to capture him.

Some of the farmers, highly incensed at losing
sheep continually, declared their intention of shooting
Badhlu on sight if they got the chance, and the man
lived the life of a hunted animal apparently with the
greatest of pleasure.

His downfall was positively prosaic after all
his exciting adventures. One afternoon, when the
sun was blazing down in all its fury, he was found
by four natives, snoring under a mimosa bush,
probably as the sequel to an orgie of kafir beer and
meat. His weapons were lying by his side, so these
were quietly removed, and he awoke to find himself
a captive.

Badhlu was not an ordinary being, and he should
have been very securely tied up to make things
doubly certain, but the four proud natives who had
taken him did not think of that, and Badhlu did
exactly what one might have expected. On the way
to the village he dived out of their reach and began
to run as he had never run before. Again he would
undoubtedly have got clean away had not Sergeant
Lempriere and the clerk of the magistrate’s court
happened to be riding not far away. They saw the
man bolt, and galloped after him. The exciting
chase went on over exceedingly rough country, and
Badhlu made for the river, which was difficult to
cross. Over this the thief and two horsemen went at


a great pace, but the native eventually got into diffi-
culties with a barbed-wire fence. He had only a
few precious seconds in which to negotiate it, and
had he once passed it it would have saved him, but
his pursuers swooped down on him. Neither of them
was armed, but with a stirrup iron swinging on the
end of a leather they persuaded him to see the folly
of further resistance. Then for the first time the
sergeant saw whom he had caught, and Badhlu was
bound, with almost loving care, with spare reins
about his arms. Another strap was put about his
neck, and so he was led to a safe place where sheep-
stealing does not occur.

Badhlu, in the course of his brief but thrilling
career of lawlessness, had reverted to a state of
primitive wildness. Even in court he had to be
watched very carefully. He was not so interested in
the formal proceedings as he was in the possibility
of getting away ; but being far from the fastnesses
of his natural haunts he had to submit, and in the
end he did his share of building a new dock at Cape
Town under the watchful eyes of warders.

One of the most puzzling cases that ever came
into the hands of the police of Natal was the treacher-
ous murder of Mr. H. M. Stainbank, magistrate of the
Mahlabatini district of Zululand. He was killed on
the 3rd May 1906, and it was six years afterwards
when the case was finally settled. It was a political
murder, and as the man was not caught in the act
the case bristled with difficulties, for those natives
who knew anything about it would not, or dared not,

Mr. Stainbank had been collecting from the chief
Mgobozane, whose people showed little inclination
to pay the poll-tax. With the magistrate were his
wife, child, and governess, two troopers of the police,
and half a dozen native constables. They were


camped on the bank of the White Umfolosi River,
about four miles from the scene of the battle of
Ulundi, in a district covered with bush, and sparsely
populated owing to the prevalence of malaria.

In the evening Mr. Stainbank wished to speak to
Mr. Saunders, the Commissioner for Native Affairs,
at Nkandhla, and, accompanied by Troopers A. J.
Sells and Martin, left the camp and went about a
hundred yards away to tap the wire with a field

He was just putting the receiver to his ear when
a shot was fired somewhere near in the bush, and the
magistrate fell back wounded. In quick succession
three other shots followed, two of them hitting Sells.
Mr. Stainbank ‘s knee was smashed, the main artery
being severed, and he died soon afterwards. Sells
received one bullet in the arm and another in his
side. Martin escaped injury.

The nearest assistance was at the magistracy,
nine miles away. One of the native constables
set out on foot, and just an hour later told Sergeant
A. H. Smith, in a state of wild excitement, that
the inkosi 1 “and everybody else” had been
murdered. The white people in those troublous
days were all living on the edge of a volcano, and
Sergeant Smith naturally feared that an impi had
begun a massacre. He found three troopers at the
Mahlabatini station, and decided to make for the
scene of the murder on foot, as they would have a
better chance of getting there undetected that way
than if they rode. By the time they got as far as
the magistracy, however, Martin had arrived there
with the body of Mr. Stainbank and the rest of the
party in a wagon. He had left the camp just as it
was, with the money that had been collected there.

Having telephoned to Mr. Saunders and Mr.
1 Magistrate.


Armstrong, the Nongoma magistrate, reporting on the
seriousness of the situation, Sergeant Smith formed a
laager of one of the gaol rooms and sandbagged the
windows in anticipation of an attack ; and the loyal
chief Nqodi was called upon to assist in defending the
magistracy. Nqodi ‘s warriors turned out, and were
posted in groups of fifty on the surrounding hills.
A trooper was also sent to warn the white residents
in the district to take shelter in the laager, as a
rising was feared.

Throughout the night an anxious watch was
kept, although it was not expected that the natives
would attack the laager, if they were going to attack
at all, until dawn, in accordance with their usual
practice. There was a lonely station at Nhlatze,
about twenty-five miles away, and in the light of a
flickering candle Sergeant Smith wrote the following
report to Trooper Dumphreys there, warning him
to get ready for a possible attack, the letter being
carried to Nhlatze by a native constable :

” I have to report to you that Mr. Stainbank
and family, accompanied by Troopers Sells and
Martin, while on hut and dog-tax inspection at the
White Umfolosi Drift, were molested. Mr Stainbank
had attached a telephone about a hundred yards
from his camp at 7 p.m. last night. He was accom-
panied by Trooper Sells, and was fired on by natives
in the bush, one bullet piercing Mr. Stainbank’s
knee and evidently smashing it. Trooper Sells
received a wound through the arm and ribs. The
party managed to reach the magistracy without
further molestation. I regret that Mr. Stainbank
has since expired. We are now in laager.

!< I have warned Chief Nqodi to arm his men and
send them up here to protect us. I cannot express
an opinion whether there was an impi at the White
Umfolosi Drift or not, but the magistrate’s party
were allowed to in-span and drive away. However,
you must take all precautionary measures. I have


communicated with Mr. Saunders and Mr. Armstrong,
and there is a probability of an armed force being
sent here. I will endeavour to get further informa-
tion through to you. You had better report this to
Vryheid immediately in case the information cannot
be sent via Melmoth or Eshowe.”

Daybreak came, and there was no sign of violence,
much to the relief of the little party. All the chiefs
of the division came in, however, to express their
regret at the murder, and three days later the laager
was broken up, it being evident that there was no
impi abroad. Four empty cartridge cases were
found near the place where Mr. Stainbank had been
shot, showing that the crime had been committed
with a ‘303 rifle ; and that was the sum total of
available evidence. Not a single Zulu would admit
the slightest knowledge of anything concerning the

In the olden days the chief of a tribe was held
responsible for a murder unless he could find the
culprit, and if he failed he was sometimes wiped out
by his black brethren. Civilization, however, has
killed this custom, but a chief is still expected to
assist in tracing a murderer. A consultation was
held with Ngobozane, in whose district the magistrate
was shot, and though very little definite information
was secured, the name of a native named Mpeta was
mentioned. The old saying that murder will out
is infinitely truer in Zululand than it ever was in
Whitechapel, but as the police found themselves up
against a blank wall they decided to appear to let
the matter rest for a while. Eventually incriminating
statements were made against Mpeta, and about
six months after the shooting, he, with three others,
was charged with the murder of Mr. Stainbank, but
they were acquitted.

The ingenuity of the Criminal Investigation


Department and the magistrates in the district was
sorely taxed in the years that followed, and it was
more than suspected that many of the natives knew
all about the affair but dared not speak. With that
grim persistence which characterizes the Natal Police
authorities in cases of murder, they continued their
inquiries for six years, and though many individuals
put in a great deal of work and wits, it was chiefly
due to the efforts of Mr. A. D. Graham, the magis-
trate at Mahlabatini, ably assisted by Sergeants
Ker, Campbell, Wilkinson, and Smith, that a native
named Mayatana was eventually charged. He was
convicted solely on evidence given by Zulus after
certain influential natives had been removed from the

It was proved that Mayatana had been carrying
a ‘303 pattern Lee-Metford rifle near the camp where
the shooting took place. There was no difficulty in
finding Mayatana, for he was already in prison at
Pietermaritzburg, having killed someone else. Once
the Zulus began to talk there was not much trouble
in proving the man’s guilt, although the natives have
a curious trick of keeping things to themselves on
occasions. After one of them has made a statement
of vital importance, he may say, on being asked
why on earth he never volunteered the information
before, ” Oh, it was not my business.”

Mayatana was at last tried, and sentenced to
death, but even then the case was not finished. An
appeal was made, and his sentence was commuted to
one of penal servitude for life.

Mpeta was again placed in the dock, this time
charged with attempting to murder Sells. He was
sent to ten years’ penal servitude, but, on appeal, was



IN the annals of crime committed in Natal and
Zululand there is one episode which will always stand
out prominently, and that is the mad debauch of
lawlessness which ended in the undoing of Beni
Mhlanga and Mzwangedwa, Beni being known more
generally as Ben.

The whole amazing business began in the dingy
interior of Dundee prison, where the villainous couple
found themselves resting, preparatory to trial, with
three kindred spirits, Samu Xulu, Velapi Nculwane,
and Nkulu Zulu. The five men had been stealing
horses and cattle, and as the period of waiting became
irksome they killed time by planning an escape from
prison, to be followed by an unrestrained bout of
crime. Samu, otherwise referred to as Sam, had
incidentally been employed by Inspector Lyttle,
of the Natal Police, for a long time, having served
him all over the country. The escape was frustrated
owing to a gaoler hearing a little of their private
conversation, but the only one convicted was Ben.
He was awarded two years’ hard labour for his sins.
Both Mr. A. A. Smith, the lawyer who defended the
men, and Ben considered the sentence was un-
justified, therefore Mr. Smith lodged an appeal and
gave bail to the extent of 50, ensuring the appear-
ance of Ben when the case came on again. The Zulu

was accordingly released, and he promptly joined the



acquitted quartette, their band being made up to six
by the addition of Jakobe Dhladhla, a promising
ruffian who had been the principal witness for the

There was something sublime about the first
thing Ben did when he got free from the fetters
of imprisonment. He wished, apparently, to show
Mr. Smith that he was a trustworthy boy, and not
desiring to remain in the debt of the lawyer he broke
into the house occupied by Mr. Smith’s clerk, stole
the keys, walked along to Mr. Smith’s office and opened
the safe. He took all the money he could lay his
hands on, obligingly re-locked the safe, and walked

Here his good intentions broke down : he omitted
to hand the 50 to Mr. Smith. He took with him,
however, the stolen keys, and fell into the error of
keeping them, for when, long afterwards, they were
found in his possession, he was quite unable to explain
them away.

Feeling easier in his mind, he trekked for De
Jager’s Drift, where Jakobe had a kraal, the gang
having decided to make this their headquarters.
There, free from interference, they drew up a cam-
paign of robbery and plunder, nor were they long in
getting to work.

On the night of the 9th June 1903, they put
in a quiet appearance at Redmond’s store in the
Ntabankulu district, forty miles from their stronghold,
having stolen a couple of horses en route. They
intended to break into the place, but finding, on
inquiry, that the proprietor had banked his money
they abandoned the idea.

Several of them went to Vant’s Drift, and Ben,
Jakobe, and Velapi, seeking to spend the time profit-
ably, planned an attack on Codd’s store. The first
two went in and innocently bought a loaf of bread,


casually making a few inquiries about the takings.
At nightfall Codd was having dinner when he was
informed that two natives were at the bar-room door.
Codd let them in, and they bought a couple of pairs
of boots. They asked him to throw in a pair of
socks, which he obligingly did, but when he men-
tioned the subject of money Jakobe suddenly pulled
out a revolver and without the slightest hesitation
fired point-blank at the storekeeper’s head. The shot
missed, and Codd vaulted over the counter to close
with Jakobe, who was too quick for him and rushed
into the house, through the dining-room and through
the sitting-room, Codd on his heels. While running
Jakobe again tried to shoot his pursuer, but the bullet
hit the ceiling, and he ran out of the door. As soon
as the firing began Ben dived through the plate-glass
window into the road. Both men disappeared, and
Codd was unable to trace them. The nearest police
station was at Nqutu, fourteen miles away. All that
was found was a stick, a mackintosh, and some muti
on a hillock where the men had been hiding all day.

So far the brigands had not had any notable
success, and after a consultation at headquarters
they proposed to rifle the Umvunyana store, at which
Ben and Mzwangedwa arrived on the i4th June.
Mzwangedwa, thinking to hide his identity, adopted
the Basuto custom of shaving his head, and in the
afternoon asked for a drink of water at the store, with
the object of seeing what the position was there.
They tethered their horses near the river, where they
were seen by a woman who had been engaged to Ben.
Unfortunately for them she was able to identify
them subsequently.

The storekeeper was an Englishman named Hunt.
As he was having his evening meal, sitting sideways
on the table, there came a knock at the door. Hunt,
without getting up, leaned forward and turned the


handle. A revolver was thrust through the half-
opened door and a shot was fired, the storekeeper
collapsing. There were two natives, the store boy
and the post boy, in the building. Not wanting these
to escape, the attacking party bombarded the place
with shots, but one of the natives got through a
window. Ben and Mzwangedwa then went into the
place and, after severely ill-treating the other boy,
took the money from the till, a revolver, and a key
from the dead man’s breast pocket. This key, when
found on Mzwangedwa afterwards, and produced as
evidence of his guilt, still bore the stain of Hunt’s
life’s blood.

One native, on getting out of the store, jumped
on a horse and rode to Nondweni, nine miles away,
where he informed the police of what had happened,
adding that the murderers were holding up the place
with firearms. Troopers A. H. Smith and L. Smith
galloped over to Umvunyana, deciding to rush the
place in the dark. When they arrived A. H. Smith
saw a native running from the kitchen to the store,
so he rode straight up to him, put the barrel of his
revolver almost against the Zulu’s neck and pressed
the trigger. No native was ever much nearer going
to his grave than this one was. Fortunately for
him, he saluted in the nick of time, and Smith dis-
covered he had nearly killed the induna of Chief
Mpiyake who, having heard of the murder, had
called out his men. Afterwards Smith found that
there was actually a dent on the cartridge in his
revolver where the hammer had pressed on to it,
showing what a narrow escape the induna had had.

Ben and Mzwangedwa had cleared off, and Hunt
was found dying on the floor of the store. He did not
regain consciousness, and expired the next morning.
Mpiyake was subsequently rewarded by the Govern-
ment with a shot gun in recognition of his services.


Ultimately it was found that the two ruffians
rode away from the store on stolen horses at such
a pace that one of the animals died on the banks
of the Blood River. The two men then made their
way back to De Jager’s Drift. By this time the
scattered inhabitants of the district had become
thoroughly alarmed. Nobody had the slightest idea
who the culprits were, and every storekeeper was
prepared to shoot on sight when there was promise
of trouble. It was never suspected for a moment
that a desperate gang was working, and Ben, in
between robberies, was apparently living a virtuous
life awaiting the hearing of his appeal. Mr. Smith
was blissfully unconscious of the fact that it was
Ben who had rifled his safe.

On the night of the i7th June, Sam, Ben, and
Mzwangedwa left their headquarters and turned up
at Laffnie’s Drift store, where a scared native, who
had been left in charge, refused to open the door.
He sold them some bread through the window, but
on the plea that they could not see their money
they persuaded him to light a lantern and let them
in. Then the terrified native saw that their faces
were stained with burnt grass and that they were
robbers. They kept him there while they took what
they wanted, and afterwards made him kneel down
and say a prayer to his forefathers, telling him to
go home and kill a white goat to appease his ancestral
spirits. At Mr. LaffmVs stable, a few hundred yards
away, they stole a black stallion which had a slight
lump on its neck. This mark on the animal had
due significance when the trial came on later.

With astonishing impudence they rode straight
to Vant’s Drift and broke into Matterson’s store,
right opposite the store where Codd had narrowly
escaped being murdered. Here they appropriated
tinned meat and some concertinas. This was fol-


lowed by a quick ride to Wessel’s Nek, about thirty-
five miles away, where they were seen passing down
the Amanzimnyama stream early in the morning.
They ate tinned meat there, and were traced by the
tins, which bore Matterson’s private mark. The
next day they had the audacity to return to Wessel’s
Nek and break into a house, eating a meal which
lay on the table while its rightful owners, a number
of miners, were away at work.

A visit of Sam, with Ben and another of the
gang on his heels, to the kraal of his fiancee at Meran,
nearly led to his premature downfall. Trooper
Leyman, of the Natal Police, met the trio, whose
guilty consciences caused them to bolt. They
dodged the trooper, who got assistance and went to
the woman’s kraal. The Zulus, however, slept in
an old, disused cattle kraal and eluded the police.
At dawn they made a hasty exit, leaving their
horses, saddles, and arms. Sam ” jumped ” a train
bound for Glencoe Junction, and on his way from
there stole a stallion out of a private stable at Dundee,
to simplify the journey to De Jager’s Drift. There
was a Basuto’s horse and wagon on the outskirts
of Dundee, and Sam found it impossible to resist
the temptation to annex this animal also. Ben,
meanwhile, boarded another train, bound for Hatting
Spruit, in the same way.

For a day or two the gang went off in different
directions on horse-stealing expeditions, and then
the six held a council of war at De Jager’s Drift.

By now they had a good deal of valuable property
hidden away at their stronghold, having dug large
holes in the banks of the river and buried their
booty. They also used an old kraal at the top of
the Doornberg as a stable, the kraal being so situated
that had the police swooped down on them they
could easily have secured their horses and ridden off.


A dance was being held at the Victoria Hotel in
Dundee, and it was decided to make a raid on the
establishment while the festivities were in full swing.
Sam, Ben, Mzwangedwa, and Jakobe strolled up to
the place, leaving the others to hold the horses.
They walked straight in and, as nobody knew who
they were, calmly rifled the place, getting away with
money and anything else of value that they could
lay their hands on. Part of their haul consisted
of spoons and forks, which they sold to an Arab
outside. Triumphantly they went on to a butcher’s
shop, and amongst the assortment of keys which
they had acquired in various parts of the country
they found one with which the door could be opened.
The till there was promptly emptied. The same
day they ascertained where Mr. Curtis, the manager
of Mortimer’s store, lived. In his absence they
broke into the house, stole his keys, and then plun-
dered the store. Finding their campaign of robbery
so successful, they grew more and more reckless,
and rapidly cultivated a love of sheer, wanton
destruction, stealing many things for the sake of
stealing, and throwing them away later on because
they were of no practical use.

After another consultation at De Jager’s Drift
they made a move to Mbabane, where with revolvers
they held up Arabs who kept three different stores ;
and by threatening summary destruction extorted
money and a number of watches. Two of these
stores they burnt down. On their return journey
they passed Farm Elizabeth, the home of Mr. H.
Wiltshire, a member of the Legislative Assembly,
where they stole his carriage horses. When, however,
they got within a few miles of their headquarters
they began to feel uneasy. Mr. Wiltshire, they
remembered, was u a big white man ” who might
feel so annoyed about having his horses stolen that


he would create trouble. With this fear in their
hearts they abandoned the animals on the roadside.

With hardly a rest after their exertions, Sam,
Ben, Jakobe, and Mzwangedwa set out again, but,
finding things dull, killed seventeen sheep at Blood
River Poort, just for something to do and to show
that they had been there. Wandering on, they came
to a bridge over the Pivaan River, which was being
repaired. Apparently a quartette of footsore, weary,
but honest pedestrians, bound for work, the rascals
begged the native labourers to give them shelter
for the night. This was readily granted and next
morning there was consternation in the camp when the
white men awoke. Half their kit was missing and
the native labourers had also been robbed ; the four
wayfarers had crept silently away.

The time came when the virtuous Ben was due to
appear before the Court of Appeal, and with strange
inconsistency he turned up ; but though the case went
against him, the sentence of two years’ hard labour
being confirmed, the occasion must have been a
colossal jest to the Zulu. At the moment when every-
thing seemed blackest for him, and there was no
prospect of looting, or kafir beer, for a couple of years,
he was handed over to a native court messenger, who
politely invited him to sit down in a corridor. This
suited the wily Ben excellently, and a few moments
later he strolled casually out of the building, nobody
being aware of his escape until he was well on his way.
Before he had been free more than a minute or two
he snatched a pair of shoes from an Arab’s shop.
Once free and knowing that recapture meant two
years behind prison bars, Ben exercised much dis-
cretion. The first thing he had to do was to put as
great a distance as possible between himself and the
court-house that day, so he went up to Kettle-
font ein, where there is a steep gradient on the railway


and where he knew the trains had to climb very slowly.
Here he scrambled on to a passing goods train,
dropping off it at Dannhauser, about 150 miles away.
He rejoined his friends at De Jager’s Drift, and as they
were short of horses they trekked to Spies’ farm, near
Blood River Poort, where they secured remounts,
saddles and bridles, in their own cheerful way.
Feeling secure with good animals under them once
more, they broke into the Blood River Hotel, where
they stole a number of bottles of whisky, and actually
took the blankets off a married couple who were

The next move was almost as impudent as any they
had made. In the magistrate’s room at the Vryheid
court-house there were several rifles which had been
confiscated, and the gang set their hearts on these
weapons. They rode over to Vryheid, a distance of
about thirty miles, and put their horses in the
cemetery. Leaving a man to guard them, three of
the Zulus went into the town. After dark had fallen
Sam went boldly up to the court-house, and was in
the act of forcing his way in when a native constable
interrupted him. Not in the least perturbed, Sam
smiled blandly and explained that he was looking for
the sergeant. He acted the part so well in extremely
trying circumstances, that the constable believed him.
But Sam omitted to wait for that interview with the
sergeant, and went out to rejoin his associates.

He met another constable, who informed him that
he looked suspiciously like one of the wanted Zulus.
The culprit took to his heels very quickly and got
back to the cemetery safely.

Their next coup was to have been at the bank, the
door of which they had intended to blow open with
the rifles, but owing to Sam having been frustrated at
the court-house door they had to drop that ambitious


Even the smartest of criminals cannot hope to go
undetected for ever, and the episode which followed
proved painfully unlucky. Ben and Mzwangedwa
walked into the President Hotel and began to steal
when the 9 p.m. bell rang, indicating that all natives
must be in their homes. The two boys hid under the
floor of a bedroom that was raised from the ground.
A little later they crept out, and Ben escaped, but
Mzwangedwa, the murderer, cattle-stealer, and bur-
glar, fell into the arms of the law, two native con-
stables taking him to the police camp on the charge of
being out of doors after hours.

The whole country was being searched for a Zulu
with a revolver as a result of the murder of Hunt,
and the police were surprised to find Mzwangedwa
was armed with one. A sergeant was taking the
ammunition out of it, when Mzwangedwa, as slippery
as his fellow-sinner Ben, dodged away and ran for his
life. Even this experience did not deter him from
carrying on his career of crime. He went straight to
the rest of the gang, and they again broke into the
Blood River Hotel, stealing, amongst other things,
a bicycle, which they threw into the Buffalo River.
But the revolver found on Mzwangedwa indirectly
threw a light on the situation.

Some time after the murder of Hunt, one of the
most skilled and persevering officers in the Criminal
Investigation Department at Pietermaritzburg,
Detective-Sergeant Ker, was hastily sent to the
district, but as the murderers had left no clue to
their identity behind them he was faced with a
baffling task. The complication of all the other
outrages did not make matters any simpler for him,
because the gang moved about the country with extra-
ordinary rapidity, riding their stolen horses till the
beasts were ready to drop and securing remounts at
the handiest stable without asking permission. So


wide apart were the different robberies, and within
such a short time of one another, that the theory that
one gang accomplished them all did not seem credible.
Although fifty-two crimes had been perpetrated
by the gang of six Zulus all over the northern portion
of the colony between the pth June and the 26th July,
there was still no reason to suspect that Hunt’s
murderer had anything to do with them.

The police were also searching for Ben after he
walked out of the court instead of doing two years’
hard labour, and he met his fate while dreaming
peacefully on the banks of the Buffalo River. He
awoke to find himself in custody once more, and on
him was found the key of Mr. Smith’s safe. At first
Ben was suspected of no more serious crime than that
for which he had been convicted, but the Criminal
Investigation Department , considering that he had been
arrested in the neighbourhood of all these robberies,
began to take a different view. Although closely
questioned, however, he gave nothing away.

When Sam and Ben were surprised, prior to this,
by Trooper Leyman at Meran, where Sam had gone
to see one of his prospective brides, and left their
horses in the scramble to get away, the trooper found
the animals, and noticed that one of them had a slight
lump on its neck. When Sam’s fiancee was indis-
creet enough to mention that she had seen him there,
it became clear that he was one of the men who had
bolted. By judicious questioning it also was ascer-
tained that Sam had a friend named Ben. A search-
warrant was obtained, and in Sam’s kraal the police
found a great deal of property that had been stolen
before the merry band of six began their concerted

The outlook began to look blacker for both
Sam and Ben, and a circular was issued giving a
minute description of the missing Sam, Soon after


this was read to the native constables in Newcastle
one of them reported to Inspector Marshall that in a
local shop there was a native who answered the
description. The net was fast closing on the Zulu.
The shopman said Sam had arrived very footsore only
that morning. The culprit was promptly put into
gaol, and three days later, when at Dundee, he began
a confession which proved to the police that his
accomplice Ben was in their hands at Pietermaritzburg.
Mzwangedwa, with detectives now hot on his
trail, fled from the district to Nongoma, in the north
of Zululand, but the police got on to his track, and
he made for Swaziland , where he was eventually traced .
” I am a dead man,” he said in a matter-of-fact
tone when arrested ; and he threw his assegais
down to the ground.

The remainder of the gang were arrested at
De Jager’s Drift, and placed in Dundee gaol, where,
bit by bit, Detective-Sergeant Ker extracted from
them the full story of their misdeeds. Ben and
Mzwangedwa were hanged for the murder of Hunt.
The two men died as they had lived, utterly without
emotion. On the scaffold they appeared to put no
greater value on their own lives than they had done
on that of the storekeeper as he was shot. Sam,
Jakobe, and Nkulu were sentenced to long terms of
imprisonment, Sam dying about a couple of years
after he was incarcerated ; and Velapi was acquitted
on a technical point.

The greatest credit was due to Detective-Sergeant
Ker for the way in which he pieced together the tangled
evidence of a very complex case in spite of all manner
of difficulties, not the least of which was the fact
that at that time little assistance could be got from
the natives, as there was a seething undercurrent of
unrest amongst them which culminated three years
later in the rebellion of 1906.



No record of police work amongst the Zulus would
be complete without a reference to the Zululand
Native Police, which, though now disbanded, was a
magnificent support to the Natal Police for twenty-
one years.

The corps, known at first as the Reserve Territory
Carbineers, was raised in 1883 by Inspector Mansel
(subsequently Chief Commissioner of the Natal
Police) to act as body-guard to the late Sir Melmoth
Osborn, the Zululand Resident Commissioner, the
second-in-command being Mr. R. H. Addison. Just
over a score of men were recruited in Pietermaritzburg,
and these were marched up to Eshowe in Zululand,
where the force was brought up to 50 native non-
commissioned officers and men, the first sergeant-
major being Nobadula, or ” Lanky Boy.”

The force was about a year old, and 60 strong,
when it received its baptism of fire at Inogonga,
where an Usutu impi, under Dabulamanzi, attacked
the Resident Commissioner’s camp at about 3 a.m.
There was a native contingent with the Commissioner,
but as soon as the impi appeared the contingent
bolted, and their mat-carriers rushed into the camp
screaming with terror and mobbing the Reserve
Territory Carbineers, who had taken up a somewhat
strong position behind some stones.

Commandant Mansel decided to march his men



straight out to meet the Usutus face to face, and as
they got clear of the camp a dense mass of Zulus came
over the brow of a hill not far away.

It was a bright, moonlight night, and the native
carbineers, though opposed to a force far exceeding
their own in strength, did not show the slightest
sign of wavering. They were perfectly steady, and
obeyed every order. When the impi was within 120
yards the Commandant gave the order ” Ready
Present Fire.” The marksmen acted as though they
were on parade, and when told to fire independently
they kept up a tremendous fusillade, discharging their
weapons with the utmost rapidity and telling effect.

The war-cry of ” Usutu ” was raised by the
impi, which rushed on and tried to get to close
quarters. Very few of them, however, succeeded,
for the carbineers kept firing steadily. The impi,
too, discharged their weapons, but their shooting
was so ineffective that only one man was killed and
a few were wounded.

Wavering under the stream of lead, the impi
turned back over the hill and left a hundred men

Just before the carbineers made this magnificent
stand the statement had been made to Sir Melmoth
Osborn that they could not be trusted and would
turn on him at the first opportunity. Dabulamanzi
had also sent a message to the carbineers themselves
to the effect that they were a lot of boys, and that he
and his men were coming to give them a lesson they
would never forget.

They did not take part in any further fighting
until the 2nd June 1 888, by which time their name had
been changed to the Zululand Police.

Commandant Mansel left the camp at Nkonjeni
with about a hundred members of his force, with the
object of arresting Dinuzulu, who was at the Ceza


Bush, about twenty-five miles away, with a large
impi. The police were supported by two troops of the
Inniskilling Dragoons, under Captain Pennefather,
and a company of mounted infantry, under Captain

At the other side of the Black Umfolosi the force
was joined by Mnyamana, with about five hundred of
his warriors. It was early on the morning of the
2nd, when a large impi was sighted formed up in an
opening of the Ceza Bush. It appeared to consist
of between two and three thousand men ; and as
soon as the troops were seen the Zulus began streaming
up through the bush. They established themselves
on the top of a hill ; and after a consultation between
the Commandant and Captain Pennefather it was
agreed that the Zululand Police, who were mounted,
and numbered twenty, were to push on ahead, the foot
police and Mnyamana ‘s men following as quickly as

When the Usutus saw what was happening they
all came down from the hill, and formed up again
in an opening of the bush. As soon as Mnyamana ‘s
braves saw the impi do this they turned tail and
did not stop running until they were safe at the
other side of the Black Umfolosi River.

The mounted Zululand Police rode straight on
until they were within four hundred yards of the
enemy. They then got off their horses, linked the
animals together, and established themselves on the
top of a small kopje.

A shot was fired and suddenly about five hundred
Zulus detached themselves from the main body of
the impi. They extended in skirmishing order and
rushed straight on, this being the Falazi Regiment
(Dinuzulu’s Own). They were a magnificent body
of young men, armed with assegais and shields.
At the same time, the main impi opened a heavy


fire, killing more than half a dozen of the police
horses, including that upon which the Com-
mandant was sitting. The Falazi Regiment rushed
straight on and got within twenty yards of the
Zululand Police, but they were unable to reach the
crest before being shot down. The firing on the
part of the Zululand Police force was fast and furious,
but a mounted orderly galloped up to the Com-
mandant, saying, ” Captain Pennefather sends his
compliments, and says you had better retire, as the
enemy are working round his flanks, and that he
cannot hold his own.”

” Go back to Captain Pennefather and tell him
to come on, as we have beaten the enemy here and
should go for the main impi” replied the Com-
mandant ; but the same orderly returned soon
afterwards .

11 Captain Pennefather says he must leave you,
if you won’t come back, as he is being surrounded,”
was his message.

Commandant Mansel tied a handkerchief to the
muzzle of his carbine and went back towards the
mounted infantry, who were between him and the
Inniskillings. He waved to them to join him, but
they began to retire, as did also the cavalry beyond
them. A Zulu followed the Commandant while he
was engaged in this way, having several shots at him.
Mr. Mansel fired in return, missing the man once
as he went over a big boulder, and laying him out
with the second shot.

It was now high time for the police to abandon
the kopje, so they took possession of such horses
as remained, and retired leading the animals. The
Falazi Regiment had been lying in a bush after
being repulsed, and when the police began to retire
they got up to follow them. This the police soon
checked, Dinuzulu’s Own having had about enough


of it ; and the police safely rejoined the rest of the
force which had gone to an open ridge.

There Commandant Mansel found the rest of the
police, who had been stopped by Captain Grey of
the Inniskillings and put into a position to check
the Zulus working round the right flank.

The Usutus made their way down to the open,
and there a splendid charge was made upon them
by Captain Pennefather with the Dragoons. The
enemy did not appear to realize what was taking
place, and they stood still until the Dragoons were
almost on top of them. Then they broke and
scattered like rabbits in every direction.

The Dragoons rode down a number of the blacks,
galloping over them, and some they cut down, but
one of their own men was killed in the charge and
another badly wounded. During the day the
mounted infantry had one man killed and one badly
wounded, there also being three or four of the police
in the list of injured. When asked long afterwards
how many of the Falazi Regiment were lost at Ceza,
Dinuzulu would not answer at first, but on being
pressed he admitted that forty of them were killed and
so many were wounded that he ” could not count them.”

After the fighting the troops recrossed the Black
Umfolosi, the Zulus following them at a discreet
distance until they reached the river. During the
day the whole of the attacking force, both black
and white, behaved magnificently, but one of the
features of the fight was the determined way in
which the twenty Zululand Police held their ground
and beat off the Falazi Regiment as it charged up
the kopje. Commandant Mansel regarded the situa-
tion as desperate at that moment, but his men never
showed the slightest sign of wavering.

A little while after the fight at the Ceza Bush
the Usutus attacked the chief Sibepu, who was


encamped with an impi close to the magistracy at
Nongoma, where a small fort had been put up by
the police. The magistrate, Mr. Addison, was in
the fort, together with a few white refugees, the
defending force consisting of thirty members of the
Zululand Police and three Dragoons who were acting
as signallers. The Usutus rushed down in over-
whelming force, killing over four hundred of Sibepu’s
men, and the rest fled past the fort, from which a
steady fire was opened on the Usutus. The pursuers
were thus checked to some extent, and this enabled
Sibepu and many of his followers to take refuge.

The Usutus had a large number killed by the
fire from the fort, which it was feared for some time
they were going to rush. This, however, they did
not do, and contented themselves by firing at it for
some time from a distance.

At about the same time the magistracy at Lower
Umfolosi was attacked by a strong body of Usutus.
A detachment of the native police was stationed
there in a small fort, under Sub-Inspector Marshall,
and they easily repulsed the attack.

The next fight of any consequence in which the
Zululand Police took part was at Hlopekulu, on the
2nd July 1888. Shingana Mpande, one of Cetewayo’s
brothers, who had over two thousand men with
him, took up a very strong position in the valley of
the White Umfolosi, near Ulundi, and from there
kept sending threatening and insulting messages to
the force at Nkonjeni, so it was decided to attack
them. The force that set out consisted of the
Inniskilling Dragoons, a company of mounted
infantry under Colonel Spark Stabb, 250 of Hlubi’s
Mounted Basutos, under Major M’Kean, 103 Zulu-
land Police, under the Commandant and Sub-In-
spector Osborn, besides about 2000 of the native
contingent, under Mr. Trent.


It was soon seen, as Hlopekulu was approached,
towards midday, that the enemy meant to fight.
After a consultation it was decided that the Basutos
were to attack the left of the position. The native
contingent were sent to work round the right of the
enemy, and Commandant Mansel went straight on
to attack the centre of the impi with the police.
As Mr. Mansel was moving forward, encountering
very little opposition, a message reached him to the
effect that the advance of the Basutos was checked,
and numbers of the enemy began to appear on a
ridge that ran out of the bush near the top of the
hill. They appeared to be wildly excited, brandishing
their assegais and shouting defiance at the police.
Commandant Mansel dispatched Sub-Inspector Osborn
with a few mounted men to see what had become
of ^he Basutos, but they did not get far before
a fteavy fire was opened on them by a number of
the enemy who were entrenched behind a stone
wall. One of the police reeled from his horse,
whereupon Sub-Inspector Osborn placed his men
under the shelter of a hill, and then dismounted.
Taking two men with him, he ran up to the wall
and carried the fallen man (who proved to be dead)
away while bullets were flying through the air.
Subsequently the sub-inspector was recommended
for the V.C., but the cherished medal was not awarded.

Commandant Mansel moved off to attack the
ridge at the top of the bush, and as soon as they
came within sight of the Zulus behind the wall the
police were fired on. The men were got into line,
slightly extended, and advanced steadily up the
hill towards the wall, from behind which a galling
fire was poured, bullets also coming from some bush.

When the police were within a score yards of
the wall the Commandant gave the order to charge.
The men cheered and dashed forward. The Com-


mandant’s horse cleared the wall, and the police
scrambled over after him, whereupon the enemy bolted
along the ridge up to the bush, at the edge of which
they had constructed a sort of stone fort. Here they
made a momentary stand, until the police rushed it
with fixed bayonets.

Over the edge of the fort the attackers climbed,
their old fighting spirit thoroughly roused, and a
moment later they had turned the little place into a
veritable shambles. The enemy made an attempt
at resistance, but were literally pitchforked out of
the place on the end of the bayonets, the police shout-
ing wildly all the time. As the remnants of the
impi ran away the police followed, still jabbing at
them with their bayonets, which were afterwards
found to be bent and twisted into all sorts of shapes, the
majority of them having to be thrown away as useless.

The police, warmed up to their work, got entirely
out of hand, and the Commandant found himself
alone, with no supports near. When a native
sergeant and half a dozen troopers ran past, Mr.
Mansel had the greatest difficulty in restraining
their ardour, and persuading them to remain behind
their colleagues. Shortly afterwards he was joined
by Sub-Inspector Osborn and the mounted police,
whose horses, owing to the very rough nature of the
country, had not been able to keep up to the front.

From the position where they stood they got a
remarkable view of a terrible conflict between Mr.
Trent’s native contingent and the enemy. Stretch-
ing out in front of them was the bed of the White
Umfolosi River, which is very broad at that point.
Coming down the white sand in the bed of the stream,
far away, was a force of the enemy, and walking up
to them was the native contingent, which could be
plainly distinguished, as the men were wearing red
pugarees. They were half a mile from the place


where Commandant Mansel and his men were stand-
ing, but were plainly visible through field-glasses.

The two forces met in mid-stream, and a terrific
encounter it was. They were all fighting with
assegais, and for two or three minutes the struggle
was enveloped in a cloud of spray.

Suddenly the splashing almost ceased. The
native contingent had given way, and was racing
for the bank. Mr. Trent’s men lost more than 70
killed, besides many wounded, and he himself died
while climbing from the bed of the river, probably
from heart failure.

Large herds of cattle could be seen from the
position where the Commandant stood, and he sent
a note to Colonel Stabb by a mounted native, saying,
” We have carried the position here. The cattle are
down below, and we are going to send for them.
Please send on supports.’ 1

No supports arrived, and soon the police could
be seen making for the cattle. The Zulus who had
been victorious in the river now hastened to defend
the animals, and another tremendous fight took place,
but as the police were armed with guns the impi
could not stand against them. There were 92 dead
men near the place when the cattle were finally
driven off by the native police, and the enemy were
hiding in some caves.

Towards evening, when the Commandant got his
men together, he was astonished to find that only
three of them had been killed, though several had
been slightly wounded. They started out with
90 rounds of ammunition each, and they had fired
nearly every cartridge, having killed between 400
and 450 of the enemy. Some of them had been
wonderfully brave, and the Government afterwards
recognized their valour by making them a grant of
2 each. The Imperial troops took no part in the


action, and several of their officers who had served in
India stated that the best Indian troops would not have
stood much chance against the trained Zululand Police.

After this the strength of the force was raised
to 250 non-commissioned officers and men, but the
Zulus saw no further fighting until the last Boer War,
when more were taken on, bringing the total to 8
European officers and 600 non-commissioned officers
and men. They were employed chiefly in and about
Melmoth during the war. They put the place into a
state of defence by building forts and digging trenches,
and were also useful in providing escorts for convoys to
Nkandhla . One of these escorts comprised 40 men when
a Boer force made an attack. The native police did
not show the least trace of fear, but beat the enemy off.

A score of the Zululand Police also acquitted
themselves in an admirable manner when General
Botha attacked Fort Prospect.

On one occasion the majority of the men left
Eshowe for Nqutu, making a march which was
remarkably quick for infantry. In five days and
five hours they covered the rough country from
Eshowe to Melmoth and from there to Nqutu, a
distance of 120 miles.

A great deal of police work was done continually,
and many small patrols were sent out. The Zulu-
land Police were used as guards when the first Chinese
landed at Durban, being employed for about three
months on this work. This was the first time that
any large bodies of the Natal Police and the native
corps were camped together.

For some time the Zulus were on quarantine
duty at Charlestown. While there they went to a
circus at Volksrust, and when the band played
” God save the King” the old native sergeant in charge
rose to the occasion. He called his men to attention,
which attitude they maintained like statues, to the


amusement of the rest of the audience, many of
whom were not aware of the great loyalty of the
Zululand Police.

The diaries kept at the headquarters of the
Zululand Police show that many eminent soldiers
inspected the force at various times, and spoke very
highly of their efficiency.

While General Dartnell was with the force be-
sieged at Ladysmith, Mr. Mansel returned to Pieter-
maritzburg to act as Chief Commissioner of the
Natal Police. The latter force absorbed the native
police when Zululand was annexed, and Sub-Inspector
C. E. Fairlie (now inspector) took charge of the
natives, having Sub-Inspector Lindsay as second-in-
command. The Zululand Police maintained a highly
efficient state, but had to be abandoned in 1904 by
order of the Natal Government. The natives, who
had always taken the keenest delight in their work,
were sorely disappointed when this step was taken,
but when the rebellion of 1 906 broke out they refused to
rejoin unless they were to serve under their old officers.

The officers who served with them prior to the
disbandment in 1 904 were :

Commandant, George Mansel, C.M.G.

Inspector C. E. Fairlie (of the Natal Police).

Inspector R. S. Maxwell (who served during 1901-2
at Melmoth and Nkandhla).

Sub-Inspector R. H. Addison (now District Native
Commissioner, Zululand).

Sub-Inspector J. H. Osborn.

Sub-Inspector C. E. Pearse.

Sub-Inspector C. C. Foxon (now magistrate in

Sub-Inspector F. Evans (of the Natal Police :

Sub-Inspector J. E. Marshall (afterwards Inspector
of Natal Police).


Sub-Inspector C. F. Hignett (afterwards magis-
trate of Umzinto).

Sub-Inspector Lindsay (of the Natal Police :

Sub-Inspector Fothergill (of the Natal Police).

Sub-Inspector Hellet (of the Natal Police).

Sub-Inspector J. Hamilton (of the Natal Police).

Sub-Inspector Ottley (of the Natal Police : retired).

The Zululand Police acquitted themselves magni-
ficently during the rebellion of 1906, at the Bobe
Ridge fight, and again at the Home Gorge. During
the march to the Bobe Ridge the natives provided
the advance guard, and did all the scouting through
the bush ; and when the enemy charged at the British
column, as stated elsewhere, they repelled the attack.
No troops could have been cooler or more steady.

After the Bobe Ridge fight a member of the Natal
Police and a native policeman, having been wounded,
were sent down to Eshowe for treatment, being put
side by side in the bottom of an ambulance. The
Zulu had been provided with several small luxuries
by his officers, and the wounded white man had also
been given certain delicacies for consumption on the
journey. They were both very sick, but while being
driven to Eshowe the Zulu was noticed offering what
he had to the white man, who in his turn shared his
luxuries with the native, there being a mutual re-
cognition of affliction.

On the morning of the Mome fight the Zululand
Police marched with Colonel Barker’s column to the
scene of the conflict, where they were ordered, with
the native levies, to close the head of the gorge.
This was done, and they opened fire with the rest
of the troops when that deadly hail of lead was
poured upon Bambata’s sleeping men. After day-
light they had a hand-to-hand encounter with some
of the enemy.


Later in the day the Zululand Police were sent
into a bush to drive it, and did considerable execution
amongst the enemy, who in some cases were up in the
trees firing on them, but were soon picked out and fell.

Owing to some misunderstanding the troops
flanking the bush were firing on the native police,
and Inspector Fairlie was forced to take his men cut
before the work was quite completed.

In his dispatch after the action Colonel Barker
wrote :

” I have much pleasure in bringing to your notice
the keen manner in which the Zululand Native Police
carried out their part of the operations under In-
spector Fairlie.”

In July 1906 there was a big drive on the Natal
side of the Tugela, when the Zululand Police shot and
captured a number of rebels. After this the corps
was occupied for some time in preventing the natives
in Natal, who were inclined to cause trouble, from
crossing the border into Zululand. The rebellion
was virtually over, but there still remained a great
deal of hard work to do. Fifty of the Natal Police,
with the native corps, and a party of Dunn’s scouts,
were sent into the Stanger district to maintain order,
and it was in this part of the country that the last
shots in the rebellion were fired by a patrol of the
Zululand Police, when four much-wanted natives
were captured and two were killed on the 22nd
August. Thus the work of clearing up went on until
the districts of Stanger and Mapumulo were quiet.

Not long after this the contingent of Natal Police
returned to Pietermaritzburg, and the conclusion of the
year saw the final disbandment of the Zululand Police.
Much has been written and said on the debated
point as to whether Zulus should be allowed to con-
stitute a trained and armed force, some people
pointing out instances where similar bodies have


proved a very formidable foe to those who trained
them. The opinion of the European officers who had
charge of the Zululand Police should have considerable
weight. Inspector Fairlie assured the writer that
he always trusted the Zululand Police and felt he
could depend on them.

” I should like to lay stress on the moral influence
the Zululand Police had on the rest of the natives
during the rebellion of ’06,” he added. ” Many more
Zulus would undoubtedly have fought with the rebels
had it not been for our trained force of natives.”

Commandant Mansel speaks very highly of them,
and bears full testimony to their value as soldiers.
Their instincts are wholly military, he declares, and
a Zulu recruit is a ready-made soldier. All that is
necessary is to teach him to handle a rifle, and this
can be done in three or four months. He is then as
good a soldier as ever he will become. He is easily
managed, good tempered, understands discipline by
instinct, is docile and plucky, and is proud of himself
and his corps. The Zulu soldier is kindly disposed
towards his officers, is full of metal, and is capable
of enduring the extremes of marching and hunger.

” The trained Zulu,” says Mr. Mansel, ” works
splendidly with white men in the field, though I think
they should be kept entirely apart in quarters.
The Imperial troops and the Zululand Police got on
wonderfully well during the operations in Zululand,
and were always the best of friends.

” I always had the feeling that with 500 Natal
Police and 1000 Zulus, one could go anywhere, and
do anything ; and I think that every one in the Natal
Police shares that opinion.

” It is a noteworthy fact that though the Zululand
Police were often fighting against their own kith and
kin, not a single case of treachery or breach of faith
ever occurred.”



THERE is probably no shipping port in the world at
which vessels get better and quicker attention from
the police than is the case at Durban, where the
Water Police have formed an interesting branch of
the Natal Police since the force was taken over in
1894. At that time it consisted of two sergeants,
eight European constables, and twenty-two natives,
these being under the control of Superintendent
G. E. Tatum.

A dilapidated old building constituted the head-
quarters, and as Durban was at that time almost
in its infancy, there was comparatively little work
to do, though the task of the police has steadily
increased as the Durban wharves have extended.
It was not until 1898 that members of the Natal
Police were drafted into this force, and then three
troopers were sent to Durban, and a sergeant became
boarding officer under the immigration regulations.
It became necessary to increase the force in strength
in 1901 , owing to the number of restricted immigrants
that were taken to Natal, principally from India.

There were twenty-seven constables employed
boarding ships, and dealing with the immigrants,
until 1905, when a wave of depression swept over
the colony, and all these men were transferred to
headquarters at Pietermaritzburg and Zululand, just
in time for them to take part in the fighting during

the last rebellion.



Superintendent Tatum retired on a pension in
1905, being succeeded by Inspector Fairlie, who
supervised the work of the Water Police until he
returned to Zululand as Commandant of the Zululand
Native Police.

To-day Superintendent J. McCarthy, who is at
the head of the Water Police, has under him four
sergeants, twenty- two European constables, and
sixty-four natives. There are seven miles of wharves
to be patrolled, and as the trade of the port increased
a force of twenty-six special European constables
was engaged at the request of the various shipping
agents in 1908. They are not members of the Water
Police, but work under the supervision of that body
in protecting the various ships that enter Durban.

The Water Police now work eight hours a day,
though from 1894 to 1901 they each worked for a
nominal twelve, but an actual thirteen, hours a day,
for three hundred and sixty-five days a year, it being
impossible to grant half-day holidays. The men
generally reserved their annual fourteen days’ leave
until they had a month or two to fall back upon.
This continued until just over ten years ago, when
three watches a day were instituted.

Mr. Tatum was in command of the Natal Volun-
teers as well as Superintendent of the Water Police.
When the last Boer War broke out he went to the
front with the first of the Natal Volunteers that were
called out, Sergeant McCarthy being left in charge
of the Water Police, who had a great deal of hard
work during that time. Only half a dozen of them
were Europeans, and the idea of regular watches
had to be abandoned. They mustered at five a.m.,
and did not leave duty until the last of the trains
containing troops had gone up-country. There were
crowds of refugees in Durban, and the whole of the
work of regulating the traffic at the congested wharves


devolved upon the Water Police, who had to erect
barriers round the troop-ships and keep the crowds

Whenever an accident occurs in the bay the
Water Police are expected to put off in their small
rowing-boat to render assistance, and there is often
grave risk of the little craft being capsized. A
decked-in steam or motor launch is badly required,
but apparently the authorities do not recognize this.

In addition to their other duties, the Water
Police carry out instructions received from the
captain of the port, the port manager, and the
harbour engineer, the force working in conjunction
with these officials. The Water Police also act as
Customs officials. Until recently there was only
one preventive officer on watch at night, the Water
Police being recognized as the men responsible for
the detection of smuggling. The principal delin-
quents are sailors who, having been refused an
advance of money by their captain, take ashore
plugs of tobacco in the hope of being able to sell it,
preparatory to a burst of intemperance.

Whenever there is serious trouble with a drunken
crew the Water Police are looked to to preserve order.
There was one particularly exciting night in 1901,
when the crew of the British troop-ship Columbian
set the captain at defiance. The Columbian was
moored at the quay, and she had about thirty men
on board. Inspired with the all-prevailing spirit of
warfare, the sailors were a dangerous gang to handle.
There were only six members of the Water Police
available for duty, but they tackled the mutinous
crew. It was pitch dark when they went up the
gangway to the vessel with drawn batons, and there
was every appearance of their having a rough time,
but under the direction of Sergeant McCarthy they
advanced boldly.


At first the mutineers showed defiance, and the
police deemed it wise to retire, so they secured the
assistance of two of the Borough Police and returned
to the attack. This time they went up the gangway
at a run.

” They’re coming ! ” yelled one of the crew.

” Yes, and there’s a regiment of us this time/’
shouted back one of the police. Without a moment’s
hesitation they rushed straight on, and began to
hit out at every one who resisted, with their batons.

The fighting lasted for several minutes, and then
the crew bolted into the fo ‘castle, where nineteen
of them were arrested and taken to gaol by the eight

While the British sailing-ship Loch Garve was
making her way towards Durban in 1904, the crew
mutinied on the high seas, got at the whisky and
gin, and refused point-blank to do any work. One
or two apprentices remained loyal to the captain,
and helped him to work the ship into Durban.

As the vessel approached the shore she signalled
for the police, and four men went off in a small boat.
They found twenty-three members of the crew
intoxicated, and mutinous ; and arrested them all.
The small boat used by the police was not nearly
large enough to take the prisoners ashore, so a motor
boat had to be sent for. The men were sentenced
to terms of imprisonment varying from three to nine

On another occasion a number of the crew of a
large liner had broached six cases of gin while the
vessel was lying at anchor off the wharf. They be-
came utterly unmanageable, and when the vessel was
moored at the side of the quay Sergeant Lynch and
two other members of the Water Police boarded the
liner, tackled the offenders unaided, and arrested
eleven of them.


Some years ago one of the duties of the Water
Police was the rounding up of all the firemen from the
public-houses for the ships that sailed on Saturdays.
This was very dangerous work, because the firemen,
half-demented by bad liquor, often refused stubbornly
to go back to their ship, and displayed murderous
tendencies when urged to do so. Jiu-jitsu was, and
still is, a very necessary part of the training of the
Water Police, and it was exceedingly useful when the
firemen had to be driven on board. In the majority
of cases they had to be frog-marched through the
streets, and the shipping companies were charged a
revenue fee of five shillings for each fireman taken to
the boat by the police.

When the supervision of the fisheries was in the
hands of the Water Police, the men had many thrilling
adventures with the poachers who put out their nets
at midnight in the prohibited portions of the river.
Several men still in the corps had narrow escapes from

One night Sergeant McCarthy and Sergeant
Edwards went out on foot to patrol the head of the
bay, reaching Congella at twelve o’clock. They half
stripped, and, with most of their clothes fastened on
their shoulders, waded into the water to cross the
channel. It had been a fine, moonlight night at
first, but at about two o’clock the weather changed
and the moon was obscured by a mist. Some little
distance away they had seen a number of Indians
poaching, and with great caution they approached
them. The two Europeans captured the whole party,
numbering nine, illicitly using small-mesh nets in
prohibited water. Then the moon vanished alto-
gether, and when the police tried to wade to the
shore they lost their bearings.

The water came up to their hips, and whichever
way they went it was deeper. They floundered


about hopelessly for a while, and as the position
became desperate the two Europeans decided to
release their prisoners, thinking the latter would prob-
ably know the safest way back to the shore. This
they accordingly did, but the Indians began to howl,
for they were no better off than the Europeans. The
water seemed to be steadily rising with the tide, and all
the eleven men would probably have been drowned
had not the mist lifted slightly and revealed the Bluff
light dimly shining in the distance.

Taking his bearings from that point, Sergeant
McCarthy decided that the Congella beach must be in
a certain direction, so he determined to swim for it
or drown. He waded on until the water was up to
his neck and then found himself on rising ground.
Although the situation was still critical the police
again made prisoners of the Indians, who were with
great difficulty taken ashore. It was after four o’clock
in the morning when they arrived at the police station,
wet through, with the nine poachers.



WHEN the Railway Police force was amalgamated
with the other branches of the Natal Police in 1894,
its staff consisted of two Europeans one at Durban
and one at Pietermaritzburg and about thirty
coloured constables. No change was made until May
1895, when Trooper Mackay was sent down to Durban
to relieve a man for fourteen days . Mention was made
to him of a police office, and after a careful search he
found it in a corner of the railway yard. The size of
this establishment was 8 ft. by 8 ft. and its furniture
consisted of a press, table, chair, and a drawer full of
old correspondence and cockroaches.

The only document handed over to Mackay was
the report book. The man whom he had relieved
never returned, and the Natal policeman’s duty
there extended to thirteen weeks, in spite of his
efforts to get back to headquarters. After the novelty
of the change had worn off he chafed at walking about
the yard week after week in ” mounted >f uniform.
He only took part in one really interesting event, and
that consisted of arresting 225 Indians. In sheer
desperation Mackay applied for his discharge, and
Sergeant Bousfield was permanently transferred to
the Railway Police, but Mackay was persuaded to
remain on the staff on condition that he was allowed
to marry. Towards the close of the year Trooper

Lightening was also transferred to this branch of the



force, and the men’s duties were reduced to night and
day shifts of twelve hours each.

A busy time began in 1896, when there was a rush
of refugees from Johannesburg. On the 2ist January
the police attended the arrival and embarkation of
Dr. Jameson and his officers, this being done very
quietly, early in the morning. Far more trouble
was experienced three days later when Dr. Jameson’s
men embarked, for the trains were late, and great care
had to be exercised in preventing the prisoners, who
were in mufti, from mixing with the crowd. Several
of the prisoners, by the way, were ex-members of the
Natal Police, and one of the wounded, who were met
by Sergeant Bousfield on 7th February, was ex-
Sergeant Fyvie. He had joined the Natal Police in
1882, and served in it for fourteen years.

Some months afterwards, the staff of the Railway
Police was further added to, and the men’s work at
Durban was reduced to eight hours a day, though
the other sections had to get along as well as they could,
without counting too carefully the hours they had to
work. The operations of the force gradually extended.
In 1899, when there was friction in the Transvaal, and
large numbers of refugees began to move down-
country, members of the Railway Police were sent up
the line. When war broke out Sergeant Whitehead
and his native police were driven to Dundee. He was
left behind when the British troops left the town, and
was captured by the Boers. All his natives escaped
excepting one, who refused to leave without orders.
This man got away soon afterwards, made for his
kraal at Nkandhla, buried his uniform, walked back
to Pietermaritzburg and reported himself. As the
tide of war rolled on, Sergeant Mackay and Trooper
Abrams narrowly escaped being shut into Ladysmith.
They were in the town on escort duty the night before
the siege began. Several of the Railway Police,


however, were fastened up in Ladysmith during that
long and trying ordeal.

During the war a wave of lawlessness swept over
the country, and a large quantity of goods sent by
rail failed to reach their destination. It was sus-
pected that an organized gang was at work, and some
of the police were told off to make a special investiga-
tion. Five Europeans were arrested at one time, and
five more a little later, eight of them being railway
servants. Tons of stolen property were recovered.

There was a very exciting incident in October 1902.
A Durban gang of ruffians discovered that specie was
to be sent by train, and they boldly approached a
guard with the object of getting his assistance in
securing it. The guard answered warily, but in-
formed the authorities, with the result that a trap
was arranged by Superintendent Bousfield. A
quantity of old iron was put into a safe, and the
gang was informed by the guard that it was going
on a certain train. In the same van there was
placed a large case, in which a number of observation
holes had been drilled. Stowed away in this case
were Detective-Sergeant Lees-Smith, of the C.I.D.,
and Detective Wevell, of the Railway Police. Mean-
while Sergeant Sherrell and Detective Kinsey, of the
Railway Police, Detective Tuffs, of the C.I.D., and
two other officers, had gone ahead on another train,
and were waiting at a place beyond Pinetown bridge,
where the members of the gang had been seen loitering
about, and where it was assumed the safe would
probably be thrown off the train.

When the train containing the supposed specie
left Durban, three members of the gang jumped into
the van with the guard who had given them away.
On the journey the men, under the gaze of the de-
tectives in the case, plugged the keyhole of the safe
with dynamite, and prepared a fuse. Just afte r


Pinetown bridge was passed they gagged the obliging
guard, and moved the safe to the door of the van.
As the train was going slowly up a steep incline they
pushed the safe out on to the embankment.

At that moment the lid of the case was lifted, and
the detectives leaped out with their revolvers, crying.,
” Hands up ! ” Two of the gang jumped out of the
van, followed by Lees-Smith, but were soon captured.
Wevell got the third man as he was trying to climb
through the window ; and then he stopped the train
by applying the vacuum brake.

Two accomplices, one of whom had financed the
affair while the other had secured the dynamite
and fuse, were also captured ; and all five men were
sentenced to five years’ hard labour.

A couple of years afterwards some smart work was
done in connection with an audacious train robbery,
carried out by an individual who had some of the
self-assurance of Voigt, the Koepenick cobbler, at
whose doings half Europe laughed a few years ago.

Just over 900 in gold consisting of railway
employes’ pay was in a train, and at Leigh station
the robber, dressed as a sergeant of the Natal Police,
walked up to the reserved compartment containing
the specie and, armed with an ” official ” telegram,
gave instructions that the escort was to return to
Pietermaritzburg with the pay-clerk under arrest.
Never dreaming that anything was wrong, the
escort obeyed, taking the puzzled pay-clerk with him ;
and he handed the key and safe containing the cash
to the bogus sergeant, who disappeared with the
money before the train arrived at Estcourt.

The police were baffled until a free railway pass
was picked up on the line some days afterwards. It
bore a wrong number, and it was soon discovered
that it had been issued to an Estcourt man. He was
arrested on suspicion, and his house was turned


inside out for the missing money, but without success.
Doggedly, the police went on searching, and at last
Detective Cuff dug up 718 in the culprit’s fowl-
house. The train robber was sent to hard labour
for three years.

Thefts from trains grew very numerous prior to
1905, and many arrests were made, six European
railway hands being taken into custody in one place,
and still cases were continually reported. A dozen
railway employes were arrested at Pietermaritzburg,
but as certain documents were missing only one of
these men was convicted, some of the others being
dismissed from the service . The chief clerk absconded
with 190 from the Durban goods office in 1906, and
he was traced to Charlestown, where he attempted to
commit suicide. On being taken back to Durban he
was imprisoned for twelve months.

The total number of arrests made by the Railway
Police up to July 1910 was 33,350, which indicates
how greatly the work increased from 1895, when the
Natal Police first took an active part in it.

In 1912 the Railway Police force was abolished,
its members being absorbed by the Natal Police, and
the work has since been carried on by railway officials.



IF only samples of the many and varied articles of
uniform that have adorned and disfigured the forms
of the members of the Natal Police from the day
the corps was inaugurated to the present time had
been preserved, they would have furnished a quaint

It was exceedingly difficult to obtain anything
at all in the way of uniform when Major Dartnell was
engaged in his early struggle to keep the force going,
and the tailor known universally as ” Billy ” Hall
who had to adjust the slop-shop garments to the
men, is still living. The first grotesque uniform of
corduroy was used for some time. In 1879 the
regulation helmet was white, rather high, and had a
brass spike with a chain and monogram. There was
one trooper who firmly believed in wearing out his
old uniform before buying new, so he stuck faithfully
to a helmet of an earlier period a bright blue affair
with brass mounts until the sergeant-major had a
brief but decisive chat with him on the subject ; and
the blue helmet was seen no more.

After a considerable time the white helmet was
succeeded by a black one, with black mounts a dis-
tinctly funereal affair ; but this was changed before
long for a white helmet of the old army pattern, with-
out either spike or chain. The authorities remained
faithful to this form of headgear, until the khaki polo
helmet was introduced in the year 1898.



A round forage cap was in use for undress pur-
poses until 1883, when a black kepi cap was intro-
duced. This was regarded with disfavour by the
men for some time.

For a short period a grey cloth patrol hat with a
fore-and-aft peak a most unsightly construction
with the letters ” N.M.P.” worked in worsted in front,
became part of the uniform, but fortunately for the
force it soon disappeared, and was followed by a grey
smasher hat, with a spotted blue pugaree. A black
smasher hat was also tried, but it was not a success,
for smasher hats even when new never looked smart ;
after a few months’ wear on the veldt they are calcu-
lated to spoil the appearance of the smartest of men.

The black tunic and pants which were in use for
many years in the early days, fitted skin tight.
They were painfully thick, and the men stationed on
the coast, where the weather is most oppressive in
the summer, found them very uncomfortable. No such
things as slacks and overalls were known in those days.

For riding school and fatigue use, a second pair
of grey-coloured cord pants was issued. They were
very unserviceable, and as likely as not split the first
time the wearer tried to mount his horse. They all
appeared to be one size when they were issued from
the store, and sometimes looked like overalls on a
man before ” Billy ” Hall got to work on them, and
made them fit like a glove.

To-day all the uniforms are of a drab khaki.
There is no regiment in the world to beat the Natal
Police for smartness in khaki kit, and the men who
served in the old days tell the modern troopers they
are ” lucky dogs ” to have such comfortable clothes.
It was sometimes a heart-breaking task to march from
one end of the colony to the other, as the men had to
do many a time, clad in the old tight-fitting cord.

After the earliest days, in which any man was only


To face p. 354.


too glad to get any sort of boot, the regulation foot-
gear came up to the knee, having half a dozen buckles
down the outside of the leg, which were constantly
getting torn off in the ranks. A black field boot then
came into use, and was succeeded by a brown leather
field boot which was introduced at the same time as
the khaki uniform. This was followed by the brown
boots and leggings which are in use at the present
time, and which for comfort, appearance, and service-
able use would be difficult to improve upon.

When mackintosh coats became part of the uni-
form they were received as a great blessing. Prior
to that a grey cloth overcoat, which was exceedingly
heavy, had to answer the purpose. It was awkward
when strapped in front of the saddle, and the men
often rode on through the rain, getting thoroughly
wet, in preference to wearing such a heavy garment.

One extraordinary experiment tried was the
poncho. This was a great, black mackintosh, seven
feet square, with a hole in the middle, through which
the men put their heads. A very similar garment
is used to-day by some of the regiments in England,
but there the men do not have to contend with the
high winds which sweep violently over Natal on
occasions. After it was found that the troopers had
the poncho blown over their heads sometimes, and had
a good deal of difficulty in getting disentangled, this
combined garment for man and horse was abandoned.

The original police saddle was the old artillery
driver’s pattern, with a solid leather seat. It was as
hard as granite when new, but it was almost ever-
lasting, and for rough work was hard to beat.

During the first twenty years of the corps’ exist-
ence, cleaning and burnishing occupied much of
the day, for there was a great deal of steel amongst
the accoutrements. No man who had passed riding
school ever dreamed of appearing mounted without


a bridoon and a big steel bit with brass bosses.
Trooper Pearce, who served during the Zulu War of
1879, and was at Isandhlwana when the camp was
attacked, was one of the few police who got away
before the Zulu impi finally closed in and crushed
every man there. He was galloping away, but
before he had gone far, he discovered that he had
left his ” big bit ” in the camp.

Remarking to a comrade who was escaping with
him that ” the sergeant-major would be on his track
if he were seen without it,” he galloped back. This
cost him his life, for before he could get away again
the black circle was completed.

In the days when the Government were not so
liberal with transport as they are now, the troopers
had saddle-bags which, together with the wallets,
contained all the kit that a policeman was supposed
to have when trekking. These bags were connected
with a strip of leather that lay across the seat of the
saddle and hung just behind the leg. The saddle,
bridle, and other equipment at that time weighed
six stones ; and both horses and men were hampered
and worn out when they had to carry such a weight.

When the bush fighting started in the rebellion
of 1906 an effort was made to get some sort of shirt
of chain mail that would be proof against the terrible
assegai. After considerable trouble a specimen was
procured, but it was found to be quite unsuitable
on account of its weight and other drawbacks. It
was certainly assegai proof, but was quite hopeless
as part of the equipment of men who had to move
about continuously and quickly by day and by
night. The specimen was stuffed with cushions, and
several of the troopers made an effort at stabbing at it
with an assegai in the Chief Commissioner’s house.
They could not force the point of the weapon through the
steel chain , but did considerable damage to the furniture .



Inspector A. G. Abrahams .

Sub-Inspector A. Banister .
Sub-Inspector W. Barry

Superintendent A. C. Bell .

Sub-Inspector R. A. Bell .
Inspector E. P. Blake .

Sub-Inspector A. H. Borgnis
Inspector W. H. Bousfield .

Sub-Inspector H. R. Brown
Sub-Inspector L. Caminada .

Inspector F. A. Campbell .
Sub-InspectorW. D.Campbell
Colonel W. J. Clarke .
Sub-Inspector A. S. Clifton .
Inspector J. B. Collyer
Sub-Inspector E. C. Crallan.

Major-General Sir J. G.
Dartnell, K.C.B., C.M.G. .
Inspector D. Deane .

Inspector O. Dimmick
Inspector W. V. Dorehill .
Inspector W. E. Earle
Superintendent A. J.B.Elliot





I8 95


I8 74
I8 74

I8 74

I88 3
I88 3


Retired, 1906.

Died at Ingwavuma in 1910.

Gaols Department.

Retired, 1908.

Paymaster ; retired, medically
unfit, 1911.

Seconded to Natal Border Police
as Lieutenant, 1902 to 1903.

Superintendent Railway Police,
1896 ; relative rank of In-
spector in 1904.

Staff Surgeon.

Seconded to Natal Border Police
as Lieutenant, 1902 to 1903.

Retired, 1905 ; died in 1910.

Quartermaster ; died in 1902.

Chief Commissioner.

Staff Veterinary Surgeon.
Retired in 1888 ; killed in Boer
War, 1899-1902.


Governor Gaols Department.
Transferred to Gaols Depart-
ment in 1911.


Retired, 1905.

Head of the C.I.D.

Superintendent Gaols Dept.




Sub-Inspector F. Evans

Sub-Inspector J. H. Evans .
Inspector C. E. Fairlie .
Inspector W. F. Fairlie

Sub-Inspector B. Fothergill.
Sub-Inspector F. A. Fynney

Inspector W. C. H. George .
Sub-Inspector H. R. Hallett
Sub-Inspector Cyril Hamilton

Sub-Inspector J. Hamilton .

Sub-Inspector S. H. K. Hunt.
Sub-Inspector W. Ingle

Inspector W. E. Ives .
Sub-Inspector C. R. Jackson

Sub-Inspector J. D. Johnson
Sub-Inspector R. Keating .
Sub-Inspector C. W. Lewis .

Sub-Inspector C. R. Lindsay
Inspector W. E. Lyttle



I88 3




i8 9 7






Appointed Sub-Inspector in Zulu-
land Police, 1896 ; and trans-
ferred to Natal Police, 1897, on
annexation. Previously served
in Natal Police. First enlisted,
1879 ; retired, 1886.

Retired, 1904.

Rank of Inspector on appoint-
ment to Natal Mounted Police,
1883. Seconded to Natal Bor-
der Police as Lieut.-Col., 1902 ;
retired, 1904.

Appointed Sub-Inspector in Zulu-
land Police, 1897 ; transferred
to Natal Police, with rank of
Sub-Inspector, 1897 > resigned

Retired, 1911.

Retired, 1885 ; died in London,

Appointed Sub-Inspector in Zulu-
land Police, 1896 ; and trans-
ferred to Natal Police, 1897,
on annexation, with rank of

Killed by natives at Hosking’s

Farm, Byrne, 1906.
Drowned in Lake Sibayi,

Ubombo, Zululand, 1910.

Staff Paymaster ; retired, 1910.

Appointed Sub-Inspector on

Retired 1903 ; died in Ireland.
Now Adjutant of Volunteers in
Cape Colony.

Retired, 1912.

Died at Estcourt, 1910,



Sub-Inspector E. Mac Andrew
Sub-Inspector J. McCarthy
Sub-Inspector F. R. Mansel
Colonel G. Mansel, C.M.G. .

Lt.-Colonel G. S. Mardall

Inspector J. Marshall

Inspector J. A. Masson .
Sub-Inspector W. T.Matravers
Inspector R. S. Maxwell

Inspector L. H. U. Meiners .
Sub-Inspector C. R. Ottley .
Sub-Inspector C. D. Pearce .

Inspector A. G. Petley
Inspector F. L. Phillips
Sub-Inspector A. Pinto-Leite
Inspector A. Prendergast
Inspector J. E. Rose
Inspector F. H. S. Sewell .

Sub-Inspector A. Shackleton
Sub-Inspector E. J. Sherrall


I8 74

I8 79

I8 97


I8 94

I88 3



Superintendent of Water Police.

Retired, 1902.

Commandant Reserve Territory
Carbineers, 1883 ; Command-
ant Zululand Police, 1887;
transferred to Natal Police on
annexation, 1897; retired, 1906.

Seconded to Natal Border Police
as Senior Major, 1902 to 1903 ;
appointed Inspector of Prisons,
1907 ; retired, 1911.

Appointed Sub-Inspector in Zulu-
land Police, 1888 ; transferred
to Natal Police, 1897, on an ‘
nexation, with rank of Sub-

Retired, 1897.

Transferred from Zululand Gov-
ernment Service to Zululand
Police, with rank of Sub-In-
spector, 1897; transferred from
Zululand Police to Natal Police,
on annexation, 1897, with rank
of Sub-Inspector.

Retired, 1910, medically unfit.
First enlistment under the Police
Act ; left the force, 1904.

Retired, 1902.
Retired, 1908.

Transferred from Civil Service,
with rank of Sub-Inspector on
appointment ; retired, 1904.

Died at Dundee from apoplexy,

Superintendent of the late Rail-
way Police.




Captain A. M. Smith

Sub-Inspector W. Stean

Sub-Inspector I. Strutt
Superintendent G. E. Tatum

Governor J. R. Thompson .
Sub-Inspector J. F. Thurston

Sub-Inspector H. H. West .

Sub-Inspector F. B. Esmonde
White ,



I8 74
I88 3


Late Captain 38th Regiment ;
entered Natal Civil Service as
gaoler, Umsinga, 1879 ; ap-
pointed Governor, Central Gaol,
Durban, 1893 ; retired, 1910.

Sub-Inspector and Adjutant ;

retired, 1895 ; died, 1912.
Retired, 1905.
Inspector and Superintendent

Water Police ; retired, 1905.

Appointed Governor, Maritzburg
Gaol, 1894 ; retired, 1905.

Staff Veterinary Surgeon ; re-
signed, 1899.


Albert Falls, 86.

Alcohol, 17, 19, 41, 49, 68, 85, 87,

92, 232, 304, 305, 345.
Alcohol, sale of, to Zulus, 305.
Alexandra Park, 178.
Alfred County, 28, 29, 118, 131,


Alleman’s Nek, 167.
Amahlubi, 10, 1 1.
Amersfort, 168, 173.
Annexation of Transvaal 36, 37,


Artillery (7th Battery), Field, 146.
Auction sales at Ladysmith, 160,


Babanango Hill, 166.

Baboon’s antics, 74.

Bale, Sir Henry, 266.

Baiter Spruit, 77.

Bambata, 189, 190, 191, 199, 201


Barker. Colonel, 209, 339.
Barracks, 19, 26, 119, 221.
Barton, Captain, 89.
Bashee River, 50, 51.
Bashee Valley, 76.
Basutos, ii, 91, 96.
Bathing parade, 75.
Battery (53rd), 143, 156.
Battery (6?th) t 137.
Bennet, Mr. T, R., 184.
Bergendaal, 168.
Bester’s Station, 139.
Bethlehem, 174.
Bhotan Expedition, 14.
Biggarsberg, 46, 96, 103.
Bishop of Natal, n, 80.
Black, Major, 72.
Blauw Krantz, 44.
Blauw Krantz River, 91.
” Blind Owls,” 76.
Blood, General Sir B., 173.
Bobe Ridge, 204, 205, 339.

Boers, 7, 8, 9, 36, 96, 97, 98, 99,
100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105,
106, 107, 109, 116, 134, 136,

137. 138. 139, 140, 141, 143,
144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 150,
152, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160,
161, 162, 164, 165, 166, 167,
170, 175, 177.

Bombay Native Infantry, 13.

Boston, 113.

Boston Mills, 94.

Botha’s Pass, 108.

Botha’s Hill, 135.

Botha’s Nek, 136.

Bottomley, Colonel, 169.

Brand, President, 109.

Brigands of De Jager’s Drift, 316.

Bristol, 21.

Bronkhurst Spruit, 97, 99.

Brown, Sergeant, 196, 198.

Bru de Wold, Major, 140.

Buffalo River, 34, 61, 62, 72, 96,
100, 107.

Buller, Captain, 54.

Buller, Colonel Redvers, 50.

Buller, General, 136, 145, 146, 148,
167, 1 58.

Bullock, Colonel, 168, 173.

Bully beef, 52, 53.

Bulwer, 131.

Bunjwana, 187.

Burglary, 258, 265.

Burial of dead, 78, 89, 198.

Bushman’s Pass, 12, 92.

Bushman’s River, 10, n, 44, 91.

Byrnetown, 94.

Caesar’s Camp, 153, 155, 157, 161.

Cakijana, 217, 218.

Cameron, 104.

Campbell, Captain, 88.

Cape Mounted Rifles, 15, 19, 33,


Cape Vidal, 133.
Captured cattle, 51.



Carbutt’s Horse, 76.

Cathkin Peak, 25.

Cattle stealing, 28, 34, 262, 298.

Cetewayo, 9, 42, 43, 47, 58, 59, 77,

79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 115.
Ceza Bush, 329.
Chaka, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 82.
Chandaree, 13.
Charlestown, 167, 270.
Chelmsford, Lord, 48, 49, 50, 56,

57, 63, 67, 68, 70, 76, 77.
Chieveley, 146, 148, 306.
Chinese labourers, 180, 337.
Christison’s Drift, 96.
Christmas dinner, 47.
Church parade, 48, 87.
Cingolo Hill, 148.
Clarke, Colonel, 25, 39, 52, 63, 71,

125, 128, 141, 149, 155, 158,
168, 189, 190, 219, 251.

Clifford, General Sir H., 114.
Cod’s Store, 317.
Colenbrander, Mr. B., 247.
Colenso, 44, 144, 148, 152, 154,


Colenso, Miss, 132.

Colley, General Sir George, 95, 96,
97. 98, 99, 102, 108, 109, no,

Colonial Secretary, 16, 17, 21, 22,
29, in.

Colonial Treasurer, 12.

Colours lost, 72, 73.

Coronation, Natal Police at, 178,

” Cracker,” 26.

Crime, 123.

Criminal Investigation Depart-
ment, 251, 315.

Dartnell, Major-General, 12, 13,
15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25,
26, 28, 30, 31, 48, 53, 54, 60, 65,
70, 71. 75, 77. 78, 91, 95. ioo,
103, 106, 108, no, 112, i2i,

126, 127, 128, 134, 137, 138, 141,
143, 149, 155, 161, 167, 168, 173,
174, 175, 176, 180, 181.

Davy, Captain, 55.

Deane, Colonel, 102.

Defence Committee, 33.

De Jager’s Drift, 136, 316.

Devil’s Knuckle, 168.

Dewanjeri, 14.

Dimmick, Major O., 114, 132, 179,

194, 197, 218.
Dingaan, 7, 8.
Dingiswayo, i, 2, 3, 4.

Dinuzulu, 115, 116, 120, 133, 183,

184, 218, 329.
Dispatch riders, 71, 104, 105, 106,

149, 150.

Dodd, Mr. C. F., 138.
Dogs, wild, 113.
Donga, 44.

Dorehill, Inspector, 149, 155.
Drakensburg, 10, 25, 91, 112, 113,


Dronk Vlei, 95.
Dublin Fusiliers, 175.
Dumplings, 46.
Dundee, 44, 45, 76, 136, 138, 139,

141, 165, 267, 316, 322.
Dundonald, Colonel the Earl of,

146, 148.
Durban, 6, 8, 35, 39, 78, 107, 135,

144, 180, 275, 342, 348.
Durban Light Infantry, 216.
Durnford, Colonel, 58, 59, 60, 62,


Durnford, Port, 83.
Dutch, 7, 8, 9, 23.
Duties of Natal Police, 249.

Earle, Inspector, 275.

Elandsberg, 168.

Eland’s Laagte, 138, 139, 141.

Eland’s River, 174.

Ellestby, 24.

Empress, French ex-, 85, 86, 88.

Emtonjaneni, 132, 137, 176, 177.

Enon Bush, 188, 307.

Enselini, 229.

Ermelo, 173.

Escaped at Isandhlwana, 61.

Escape of prisoners, 31, 32, 262,

267, 270, 307, 323.
Escombe, Rt. Hon. H., 127.
Escort to ex-Empress, 86, 87, 90.
Eshowe, 115, 132.
Essex, Major, 109.
Estcourt, 24, 25, 27, 28; 34, 36, 44,

91, 92, 96, 103, no, 112, 113,

144, 150, 151, 152, 163.
Ethiopian preachers, 183, 184.

Faction fights, 179.

Faddy, Sergeant, 87, 89, 90, 108.

Fairlie, Inspector C. E., 244, 338,

340, 341, 343.

Fanifili’s Store, 115, 200, 208.
Finger-prints, 255, 256, 257, 260,


First recruit, 15.
Fish poachers, 346.
Fleur, Le, 130.



Folker, Trooper, 197.

Fort Nottingham, 94, 113.

Fort Piet Uys, 87.

Fort Pine, 27, 85, 91, no, 112.

Fort Prospect, 175.

Fort Yolland, 202, 203, 208.

Fowler, Lieutenant, 14.

French, General, 142, 166.

Frere, 145, 146.

Frere, Sir Bartle, 42, 43, 80.

Frontier Light Horse, 50.

Frontier Police (Cape), 15.

Fugitives’ Drift, 61, 72.

Fusiliers (2ist), 97.

Fynn, Mr. H. F., 5, 6, 7.

Geluk, 1 68.

Ghost stories, 235, 239.

Gifford, Lord, 79.

Glanders, 117, 131.

Glencoe, 138.

Glyn, Colonel, 47, 78.

Gordon Highlanders, 158.

Gosset, Major, 54.

Gough, Major, 145.

Graf ton’s Farm, 131.

Graham, Mr. A. D., 315.

Greytown, 34, 44, 46, 49, 74, 91,

no, 145, 189, 190, 218.
Grey, Trooper Jock, 138.
Griqualand, 35, 39, 130.
Guest, Trooper, 197.
Gun Hill, 142, 153, 154.
Gun running, 33, 34, 116.
Gwaliweni, 164.

Haggard, Mr. Rider, 104.
Hall, ” Billy,” 353, 354.
Harding, 29, 34, 44, 117, 279.
Harris, Trooper, 137.
Harrismith, 175.
Heidelberg, 36, 96.
Helpmakaar, 44, 46, 47, 48, 71,

73- 75. 76, 77. 78, 167.
Hifferman, 46.
Highlanders (92nd), 107.
Hignett, Mr. C. F., 165.
Hildyard, General, 144.
Hlangwane Hill, 146.
Hoblaue, 84, 88, 89.
Hooper, Lieutenant, 149, 152.
Horn River, 106.
Horse sickness, 15, 21, 23, 132,


Horses stampede, 38, 46, 241.
Hosking’s Farm, 185.
Hottentots, 29, 33.
Hunter, General Sir A., 135.

Hunt, Sub-Inspector, 185, 186,

188, 259.

Hussars (5th), 107.
Hussars (i4th), 147.

Impanza Hotel, 191, 192.
Impanza Valley, 190, 192, 193,

196, 198, 199.
Impati, 137.
Imperial Light Horse, 143, 154,

155, 159, 160, 174, 176.
Impi, 7, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 58,59,

60, 62, 70, 71, 88, 186, 330.
Inchanga, 135.
Indian Mutiny, 12, 13, 15.
Indumeni, 138.
Ingangane, 97, 106.
Ingeli Mountain, 39.
Ingesuti, 24.
Ingogo, 99, 100, 103, 105, 108,


Ingwavuma, 164, 228.
Inniskilling Dragoons, 330, 332,


Intmtanyom, 139.
Intombi River, 168.
Irish Brigade, 146.
Isandhlwana, 42, 51, 52, 57, 58,

59, 61, 65, 67,68, 72, 73, 78,79,

80, 166, 356.
Isipezi, 51, 53.
Itala, 175.
Itelizi Hill, 48, 49.
Ityotyosi, 88, 89.
Ixopo, 39, 92, 94, 113, 130, 131.

Jameson, Dr., 349.
Jhansi, 13.
Jobe, i, 2.

Johannesburg, 117, 275.
Joubert, General, 144, 145.

Kambula, 87.
Karkloof, 38.
Karri-Davis, Major, 155.
Keate’s Drift, 47, 189, 190, 191,

192, 193.
Kennedy, 96.

Ker, Sergeant, 271, 325, 327.
Killed at Isandhlwana, 61.
Killed at Rorke’s Drift, 68.
Kokstadt, 29.
King William’s Town, 15.
Kit, 143.

Kit, compensation for lost, 84.
Kitchener, Lord, 172.
Knox, Colonel, 158.
Kruger’s Post, 168.


Ladysmith, 44, 45, 70, 71, 75, 76,
113, 135, 138, 139, 141, 143,
144, 145, 148, 152, 350.

Laing’s Nek, 96, 97, 100, 109, 167.

Lancers, 78.

Lancers (5th), 139.

Lancers (i2th), 48.

Lancers (i6th), 145.

Langalibalele, 10, n, 12, 18, 23,


Langdon, Sir Godfrey, 295.
Lebombo, 164.
Legislative Council, 12, 18, 29,110,

III, 112, 113, 120, 122.

Leuchars, Colonel, 136, 145.

Leydenburg, 97.

Lion’s River, 113.

Locke, Sergeant, 169, 170, 171.

Lombard’s Kop, 142, 159.

Long, Colonel, 146.

Long Tom, 142, 156, 160.

Lonsdale, Colonel, 53, 54, 57.

Looting by Zulus, 61, 64, 192, 316.

Lorana River, 131.

Loskop, 92.

Luji’s Drift, 124, 125.

Lynch, Sergeant, 345.

Mabedhlane, 95.

Macfarlane, Captain, D.S.O., 213.

Machadosdorp, 168.

Magwababa, 191.

Mahlabatini, 169, 172, 246, 311.

Majuba, 101, 102, 109.

Mansel, Colonel G., 15, 23, 48, 52,

53. 133. 179, 181, 192. 194. 196,

200, 328, 331, 334.
Manuceni, 145.
Manyanyobo, 84.
Mapumulo, 232.
Maputa, 229.
Maqutu, 124.
Marabastadt, 97.
March of naked troopers, 95.
Marshall, Mrs., 190, 193, 194.
Marter, Major, 79.
Martin, Trooper, 150, 151, 152.
Mascot, 217.

Massacre, Blauw Krantz, 80.
Massacre, Isandhlwana, 59.
Massacre, Mome Gorge, 209.
Massacre, Weenen, 80.
Matyana, 53.
Mauchberg, 168.

Maxwell, Sub-Inspector, 145, 338.
Mazeppa, 93.
M’Callum, Sir H., 186.
McCarthy, Superintendent, 343.

M’Gregor, Captain, 102.

M’Kean, Major, 333.

M’Kenzie, Colonel, 209.

” Medicine,” 58, 205, 263, 290.

Mehlogazulu, 56, 60.

Meiners, Inspector, 260.

Mellersh, Mr., 28.

Meran, 45, 321.

Mfungela, 204.

Middle Ford, 35.

Mid-Illovo, 239.

Missionaries, 29, 30.

Mitchell, Lieutenant-Colonel, 75.

Mitchell, Sir Charles, 85.

Modder Spruit, 71, 157.

Molapo, ii.

Mome Gorge, 209, 339.

Mooi River, 47, 93, 145.

Moord Spruit, 44.

Mount Prospect, 100, 103, 104,


” Mournful Monday,” 141.
Msingapanzi, 130.
Mufti, 25.

Muller’s Pass, 106, 109.
Murchison, 28.
Murder, 42, 247, 263, 264, 265,

281, 282, 283, 286, 293, 319.
Murray, General Wolfe, 152.
Mveli, 184, 186, 188.

Napier, Major, 108, 109.
Napoleon, Prince Louis, 77, 78,

85, 88.

Natal Mercury, 64.
Natal Mounted Rifles, 156.
Natal Witness, 31, 35.
Ndhlovu, 214.
Neikerk, Van, 170.
Newcastle, 36, 38, 96, 97, 98, 103,

104, 106, 107, 108, no, 113, 136.
Newdigate, General, 76.
Newson, Sergeant, 168.
Ngome Forest, 79.
Nkandhla, 115, 200, 209.
Nongoma, 133, 144, 164.
Nongqai, 249.
Noodsberg, 35, 39, 113.
Nqutu, 77, 144, 165, 166.

Ohamu, 88.

Oliver’s Hoek Pass, 92, 117.
Onderbrook Spruit, 150.
O’Neill’s Farm, 109.
Orange Free State, 130, 134.

Packhorse, troublesome, 93.
Pakadi’s location, 38.



Park Rennie, 35.

Parsons, Trooper, 54.

Pay, 15, 16, 22, 23, 28, 33, 112,
118, 222, 264.

Penn-Symons, 135, 137, 149.

Pepworth Hill, 142, 149.

Peter’s Farm, 46.

Pietermaritzburg, 8, 16, 19, 21, 25,
26, 28, 29, 32, 35, 37, 39, 44, 47,
70, 71, 74, 75, 78, 84, 88, 98,
no, 131, 133, 135, 136, 144,
150, 158, 163, 171.

Polela, 113.

Police fired on, 50.

Police law, 35.

Pommer, Smith, 39.

Pondoland, 116, 118, 121, 124, 131.

Poole, Major, 97.

Port Shepstone, 131.

Potchefstroom, 97.

Potgieter’s Drift, 146.

Pretoria, 36, 37, 38, 97, 165, 166.

Pretorius, Andries, 8.

Public schools, recruits from, 222.

Puniti location, 12.

Purser, Trooper, 102.

Railway Police, 348.
Ravenscroft, Trooper, 102.
Rebellions, 39, 245.
Rebels, execution of, 188, 189.
Recruits, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
22,30, 33, 34, 38, 39,65,75,77,

I3O, 221, 227.

Regiment (4th), 74.
Regiment (i3th), 75.
Regiment (2ist), 101.
Regiment (24th), 54, 56, 57, 60,

63, 72, 76, 78.

Regiment (58th), 97, 101, 102.
Regiment (94th), 97.
Regiment, Leicestershire, 137.
Regimental pets, 291, 292.
Reorganization of Police, 128.
Resignations, 30.
Richards, Commodore, 103.
Richmond, 188.
Riding school, 20, 40.
Rifles (6oth), 97, 101, 104, 106,


Robben Island, n.
Roberts, Lord, 107.
Robson’s Drift, 89.
Roddy, Trooper, 147.
Rorke’s Drift, 48, 52, 58, 62, 67,

68, 69, 71, 72, 78.
Rose, Sir Hugh, 13, 14.
Royal Engineers, 147.

Royston, Colonel, 141, 143, 149,

158, 159-
Russell, Major, 48, 77.

Sacrifices, 5, 6.

Salutshana, 166.

Schuyn’s Hoogte, 105, 107, 108,


Scott, Trooper, 207.
Secretary for Native Affairs, 10,

22, 28.

Seed, Sergeant Dick, 140, 141, 159.
Senzangakona, 3, 4.
Sevenoaks, 86.
Sheep stealing, 31, 129, 307.
Sheeper’s Nek, 167.
Shepstone, Mr. John, 28.
Shepstone, Sir T., 36.
Sibepu, 115,1 16.
Sickness of Police, 76, 77, 84, 119,

155, 156, 158, 162, 166.
Siege of Ladysmith, 144, 149.
Sigcau, 118, 120, 121, 124, 125, 126.
Sirayo, 51, 56.
Smallpox, 1 1 6.

Smith, Sergeant A. H., 312, 319.
Snake bite, 240.
” Snuffs,” The, 16.
Spens, Brigadier-General, 174.
Springfield, 146.
Springs, 168.
St. Helena, 120, 132.
Stabb, Colonel Spark, 333.
Stainbank, Mr., 246, 311.
Standerton, 36, 97, 99.
Stean, Sergeant-Major (” Puffy”),

15, 19, 20, 21, 31, 40, 41, 91, 224,


Stephens, Sergeant, 186.
Stevens, Detective R. E., 287.
Strathnairn, Lord, 13.
Stuart, Major, 13, 14.
Sunday’s River, 45, 139.
Swaziland, 164.

Talana, 137, 149.

Tatum, Superintendent, 342.

Tax, hut, 1 17, 232.

Tax, poll, 183.

Terry, Major, 104, 105.

Terry rifle, 22, 24, 28.

Thring’s Post, 116.

Times of Natal, 30.

Toe-prints, 258.

Tombs, Major-General Sir H., 14.

1 06, 130.

Transport riding, 17, 44, 45, 46.
Transvaal, 36, 42, 97, 98, 99, 103,



Trichard’s Drift, 147.
Troughton, Canon, 150, 152.
Tshishili, murder of, 247.
Tugela Ferry, 144, 145.
Tugela River, 5, 8, 9, 44, 92, 145,

148, 152, 199.
Tulwars, 13.

Ubombo, 164, 228.

Ulundi, 51, 77, 79, 82, 83, 93.

Umbulazi, 9.

Umfolosi River, 132.

Umgeni River, 94.

Umgwapuni, 28.

Umhlangaso, 120, 125, 126.

Umhlatoos, 8.

Umkodoya, 35.

Umpanda, 8, 9.

Umsindusi, 174.

Umsinga, 68, 113, 184.

Umtetwas, i, 2, 3, 4.

Umvoti, 28.

Umvoti County, 112, 135.

Umvoti Mounted Rifles, 145, 190.

Umvoti River, 7, 13.

Umzimkulu River, 7, 35, 95, 130,


Umzinto, 29, 35, 179.
Undini, 115.

Uniform, 16, 40, 115, 353.
Utrecht, 87, 168.

Vaal River, 10, 173.

Van Tender’s Pass, 138.

Vaut’s Drift, 334, 317.

V.C., 14, 69, 334.

Venter’s Drift, 147.

Ventriloquism, 300.

Vign, 79.

Volksraad, 37.

Volunteers, 15, 19, 55, 70, 74, 77,

140, 141, 143, 149, 157, 167,


Vryheid, 87, 137, 324.
Waggon Hill, 155.

Wakkerstroom, 107.
War correspondent, 104.
Warren, General, 147.
Waschbank River, 138.
Waschbank Valley, 45, 75.
Water Police, 123, 342.
Weenen County, 23, 24, 28, 38.
Westley-Richards carbines, 24.
Wheelwright, 169.
White cotton gloves, 40.
White, General Sir George, 135,

139, 149, 152, 159, 160.
White, Sub-Inspector Esmonde,

209, 212, 214, 285.
Wilkes, Mr. W. H., 256.
Wilkinson, Sergeant, 187, 246,


Witchcraft, 276.
Witcliffe, 1 68.

Wolseley, General Lord, 79, 114.
Wood, General Sir Evelyn, 49, 56,

86, 87, 89, 90, 104, 106, 107,

109, no, 114.
Woon, Sergeant, 134.
Wright, Trooper, 137, 155.

York, 113.

Yule, General, 135, 137, 138, 139.

Zaaifontein, 112.

Zulu faction fights, 231.

Zulu fighting, 3.

Zulu soldiers, i, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 47,
49, 54, 55. 57. 59. 60, 67, 69, 70,
77, 80, 81, 82, 205, 210, 328,
329. 335. 336, 339. 340, 341.

Zululand Police, 181, 204, 328.

Zulus, civilizing, 81, 82.

Zulus as criminals, 297.

Zulus as detectives, 252, 253.

Zulus as toxicologists, 283.

Zulus with firearms, 10, n, 18,
34, 50.

Zwaartkop Valley, 40.

Printed by MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED, Edinburgh

,:-~’ 3F






MAY 27 1982
JUL 121986

~ f






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