London Illustrated News – June 21, 1851
We have been favoured with the following intelligence, and the accompanying sketch, by an Officer serving in Kaffirland: –
Camp, Fort White, April 20th, 1851.
” As I have an opportunity of writing, which may not soon occur again, and as you no doubt wish to know how we are getting on, I shall?endeavour to give you a brief summary of the events of the past weeks. The Commander -in-Chief having been joined by the newly-raised Burgher levies, determined to no longer stand on the defensive, but set to work in downright earnest to spoil the Philistines, and for this purpose a general muster of all arms was organised on the 18th of March. we took the field in high spirits , and although we were exposed to the burning sun, and constantly on the move, and engaged with the enemy until the 20th, our loss but was trifling. The action of the 19th was a regular stand up fight, the Kaffirs exhibiting discipline and pluck of no common order; and , although they outnumbered us 4 to 1, and were well armed we drove them into the fastness of the Amatola with great loss. they were about 5000 or 6000 strong, and in some cases actually rode close up to our column; but the well directed fire which?received them, given with right-goodwill and effect, by both Burgher,regular and our Fingoe allies, has, I hope, taught them a useful lesson. They contested every foot of ground with us, but we fully accomplished the object of our advance, viz. the destruction of the Kraals and crops and the capture of several head of cattle and a few horses.
We have since had constant patrols; but one, in considerable force, consisting of the 6th and 73rd regiments, a party of burgher levies, a few of the Cape Mounted Rifles, and part of Armstrongs’s horse, started at two A.M., on the 16th inst., to scour Stocks county, in the vicinity of the Keiskamma and Iqqiibiga.
After a?fatiguing?march of four hours we came in sight of the Kraals, right in our front, when a party of Armstrong’s horse, under Captain Robertson, was sent forward to destroy them and capture the cattle. This duty was gallantly and rapidly performed; and though the Kaffirs fought like devils and tried to recover them, the captured cattle were brought into the main column by Captain Davies of the Burgher levies, not withstanding the?enormous?difficulties which the nature of the ground presented.
After a short halt at the junction Keiskamma and Iqqiibiga to refresh both men and horses, all of whom were well blown we moved down the valley to join colonels Mackinnons camp at the Iqqiibiga, and we were sharply attacked en route on our flanks and rear, the ground being much broken and favourable to the enemy.
Colonel Eyre, who commanded, frequently halted the column, and we dispersed the Kaffirs at the Pas de charge. they made a vigorous defence of the Kraals, but we burned them under their noses and captured about 260 head of cattle. Our loss, I regret to say includes three killed, and eleven horses missing. Poor fletcher, adjutant of the 73rd, in his ardour was led to follow a retreating body, when he was pounced uponin a kloof by an overwhelming force, and fell pierced by 20 Assagais. Captain Morris, of the Levies was severely wounded and Robertson and the rest of the party had a narrow escape; the in-closed sketch will give you a very good idea of the scene of the conflict.
The Levies behaved gallantly, and, indeed, but for them we could not occupy our positions in this country. We want at least four more regiments here; if we had our old friends the Rifle Brigade and some cavalry armed with double barrelled rifles, then we should stand some chance of terminating the campaign soon, but since Krelli has thrown off the mask, and has joined his forces with those of the common enemy, thus putting 7000 or 8000 additional combatants into the field, it is clear we can do little but standing on the defensive until the arrival of the 74th and the other troops that were sent out from England. ?We also want a rocket troot-they would clear the bush in a short time.
My own opinion is , the campaign will be a severe one: the Tambookies, and the other tribes are driving their cattle into the fastnesses of the Amatola ; and if we follow them, there will be, I fear, a few vacant places in some of our messes.
- London Illustrated News – PDF– Sketches of the Kaffir War
- Wikipedia ?the 8th Xhosa War
- SaHO – south African History – The Xhosa Wars