The following article is by Sergeant Stephens, of the Indian
Commissariat and Transport Department, attached to Lumsden’s Horse:

  The Government of India at the last moment not sanctioning native
  drivers for the corps, fifty Europeans had to be enlisted under the
  same terms as those of trackers, receiving kit, equipment, &c. As
  there was no time to pick and choose, the men were taken, if
  physically fit, more by personal appearances than recommendations.
  With the exception of a few, they worked remarkably well and never
  complained of the hardships they had to endure while we were in South

  When each member joined the corps he was handed over a pair of ponies
  or mules, also harness for same, with cart complete. The majority of
  them had never driven or ridden a horse in their lives, so that the
  breaking-in of horses and men was not an easy task. Of fifty pairs of
  animals received for draught purposes not a pair was broken to
  harness, and when the heavy breechen was placed on their backs they
  did their best to kick it off, but the girths supplied by Government
  were strong enough to keep that in place. Our next difficulty was to
  put them together in carts. Immediately the curricle bar or iron
  support rested on their backs they wanted to be off for their lives,
  and in some instances got away and did a lot of mischief before they
  came to grief, cart and all. Privates Hyde and Braine once trying to
  stop a pair got severely hurt; Hyde putting his shoulder out, while
  Braine got his head badly cut. Both were sent to the General Hospital
  for treatment, but recovered in time to join B Company.

  The Transport men were very willing, took a delight in their duty, and
  worked hard from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M. daily, and at that rate we were able
  to have the worst of the animals broken to harness before we left
  Calcutta. At the same time, the men were improving daily in the care
  and treatment of animals, and when the General Officer Commanding held
  his inspection, every one of them was able to drive, or seemed to
  think he could, so we had A Company’s Transport out for inspection.
  After inspecting carts, animals, and drivers, the General expressed
  himself pleased with the very ready way in which they had been got in
  order, and stated that he thought we should get on well in Africa.

  The men had not the slightest idea of what a muleteer was until they
  got on board ship. Then the work started, and dirty work it was for
  about two hours every morning. Even then there were no complaints. The
  officer commanding the corps and the captain of the ship gave great
  praise to the Transport men every day for having the cleanest deck.
  The captain afterwards said that with Regular troops he had never seen
  it better kept. They had to perform the same duties as the troopers,
  the only difference being that they had extra work daily from 2 P.M.
  to 4 P.M. dubbing and cleaning harness.

  While on board ship the Transport of A Company was divided into four
  sections, consequently four non-commissioned officers had to be made.
  This was the first promotion in the Transport, and was given to those
  who seemed to take most interest in their work. The names of men
  promoted were Power, Palmer, Cullen, and Estabrooke. Power afterwards
  worked up to sergeant, was a very good non-commissioned officer
  throughout, and quite deserved the rank he held. Work on board ship
  was the same daily, nothing fresh occurring till we landed at Cape
  Town. That night carts had to be got ready, and the following morning
  we had to take our own baggage to Maitland Camp. That was about the
  worst day we had while in Africa. It was impossible to look to our
  front—animals would not face the sand-storms—it was not sand, but
  small stones beating against our faces, and our eyes were sore for
  weeks after our first day at the Cape. It was very hard to harness the
  Transport animals in carts; but after being about twenty-six days on
  board ship, they had not much mind for bolting that first day. The
  camp, when we got there, was knee-deep in sand. Maitland at that time
  was a dirty hole, and we were pleased when we got our orders to shift.
  But a few things happened during our stay there which we cannot
  forget. The Government came on us, thinking we had too many carts, and
  they had to be reduced by ten. So we handed our ten carts and ten
  pairs of ponies to the Transport Officer, Cape Town, and, instead of
  them, got thirty-eight pairs of mules, with leader harness complete,
  to act as leaders for our remaining carts. That meant instead of two
  ponies to a cart, as we left India, we had to put four ponies or
  mules. This complicated matters a long time, for some of the drivers
  could never manage four-in-hand, so had to be left with a pair only.
  They said that two ‘donkeys’ (which they would insist upon calling
  their chargers) were quite enough for them to look after. In the end,
  everything turned out very well. We kept those animals spare, and
  whenever any in the teams showed signs of fatigue, got lame, or
  otherwise unfit, we had others to take their places.

  The Transport Officer at the Cape did not think much of his bargain.
  He could not get the Cape boys to make head or tail of our Indian
  carts and harness. It was harder for them to put a pair of our ponies
  in their cart than their own span of ten, which they could use as they

  After receiving orders for the front with a light heart, every man
  thought the minutes too long until he got an opportunity of
  distinguishing himself. We were ordered to Bloemfontein, and everybody
  was on the war-path at once. We railed to that station, which did not
  do the animals any good, and on arrival there were ordered to join a
  brigade at Deel’s Farm, about three miles beyond the town. Having to
  draw our stores from Bloemfontein station prepared our transport and
  drivers for the work which lay before them, and during our stay there
  they got in excellent order.

  The first day our Transport carts went out with spare ammunition for
  the corps, nothing unusual occurred, and, in fact, all returned
  disappointed, but this showed the ammunition drivers what they must
  expect when going out again. All in charge of these carts were picked
  men, being the best drivers with the best animals. They had to canter
  and trot over rough country with eight boxes of ammunition, to keep in
  touch with their corps, over hills or otherwise, and be always where
  they were wanted; our carts were very handy, and could go where others

  Next day was the well-remembered Ospruit fight, and the carts had a
  narrow escape then. The enemy got their range, and the pom-poms
  played round them for some time, a few of the shells landing between
  the carts; but the drivers were just as easy as ever, and when
  ordered to retire did it in excellent style, smoking and passing
  jokes as the shells followed them up. Private Lowther, who was on
  stretcher-bearer’s duty that day, will not forget what he called a
  cool order. When the drivers were getting out of range one of their
  hats was blown off, and Lowther, being on foot, was ordered to pick
  it up. He looked twice, but went back and got it. Shells were a bit
  thick, but he remembered he was a soldier. The day after the fight
  we had to send a cart out to bring in Major Showers. Corporal Cullen
  and Private Arthurton went with it on duty, Cullen corporal in
  charge, Arthurton the driver. After finding the Major’s body, they
  were joined by some Boers, who assisted to put the Major in the
  cart, had a friendly chat with them, passed cigarettes and tobacco
  round, and Cullen said when he came back to camp that there were
  very few Boers among them, nearly all English-speaking and of a very
  respectable class. They had very little to say regarding the fight
  the previous day, but said they were sorry our Colonel was killed.
  They had found some papers in the pockets of young Lumsden, whom
  they took to be the Colonel.

  We had most trouble with our carts and animals when night marching.
  The ponies were excellent for draught purposes; the Cape mules did not
  last nearly as well. If properly fed the ponies would have worked
  throughout our stay in Africa; but they were often days without
  anything but what they could pick when we got an hour’s halt. On one
  occasion which I remember well they were thirty-six hours under
  harness without food of any kind, and only watered once. People might
  say, Why not oftener? Water was not procurable.

  Another thing that came against us was the cunning Kaffir. He could
  walk around at night, take the best of our animals, and have them
  disfigured in such a way that nobody could recognise them the
  following morning. We put up with this for a long time, until our
  stock of spare mules ran short, and then we had to carry out the same
  tricks as the remainder by doing unto others as they had done to us.
  We were able to take to Pretoria every one of the carts with which we
  left Bloemfontein. When we got there, everything, of course, was the
  worse for wear, but complete in every other respect. If anything ever
  frightened our Transport drivers it was the word ‘drift.’ You should
  have seen their worried looks when they heard that there was a drift
  ahead; but they braved everything, thinking that Pretoria would finish
  all. But to our surprise when we got there we found out that the show
  was only then starting. We had a little rest after the surrender,
  being sent to a station ten miles off called Irene. While there the
  Transport kept the horses of the corps well fed on oat-hay, which we
  brought from all the farms within ten miles of the place. We remained
  at Irene until August 1, and then got attached to a brigade going
  after De Wet in the Rustenburg direction. We were on this march for
  twenty-eight days without rest, which was the cause of killing all our
  Indian ponies except twelve. The whole of that month’s march was a
  dead pull for the Transport—some days it was up to the ankle in sand,
  while next it was just the same in black sticky earth. We were not the
  only lot that suffered; every unit experienced just the same. It took
  us all our time to get our carts back to Pretoria. At the end of
  August we were only a day in Pretoria before being ordered off again
  on the march to Barberton. Things had to be got ready as quickly as
  possible, and off we went on September 1 for another long trek. When
  starting on this march we had to leave twelve of our carts in
  Pretoria, and as many men of the corps had come down we reduced our
  Transport. During the whole of this period we had very little time for
  carrying out repairs to carts and harness. The saddles began to give
  out in the leather, as they had not been repaired since we left
  Calcutta except a stitch here and there. During our stay in Africa we
  never had an animal suffer from sore back. This, we think, was due to
  the excellent way in which the saddles were stuffed before leaving
  Calcutta. Although newly received from the Ordnance Department, they
  did not satisfy the Commissariat and Transport Sergeant-Major, who had
  them stuffed to his own liking.

  On the march to Barberton and back we had very bad weather, which
  completely destroyed our gear, and, arriving at Pretoria for the third
  time, we thought of getting it thoroughly repaired. We had done our
  best, and, in fact, had all the saddles restuffed and lined in a very
  short time, when orders were received for the corps to be disbanded.

  The number of animals with which we left India was—Ponies, 100; mules,
  5; total, 105. The five mules lasted throughout, but only eight ponies
  lived to see the finish. Two of these, driven by Private Arthurton,
  seemed to be in better condition at the finish than when they left
  Calcutta. He took great care of his animals. Two others were in charge
  of Driver Estabrooke. As he intended remaining in South Africa, the
  Colonel presented him with his pair.

  The whole of the carts and gear were handed over to the Ordnance,
  Pretoria, before our departure, with three hearty cheers from
  Lumsden’s muleteers.