Camp Ryan’s,
11th May, 1897.

Sir,—I have the honour, for the information of Government, to forward a further report upon the situation as regards the positions occupied by the Rebel Chiefs on the Langberg.

The action at Puduhusche on the 9th inst. has convinced me that a much stronger force than that at my disposal will be required (putting on one side the question of water supply) to take and occupy the positions held by the Rebel Chiefs; in fact, I should say about 1,500 Europeans (principally Infantry) and a strong Native Contingent would be required to effect this purpose. The drawbacks, however, to increasing the strength are (1st) the expense entailed by keeping a force of such a size in the field; (2nd) the difficulties of transport; (3rd) the almost insuperable difficulty of supplying water for such a force. 

From information derived from Commandant Wessels, Vryburg Volunteers, who has surveyed portions of the northern end of the Langberg and from other sources, it appears that in former years you could depend upon getting water in most of the large kloofs of the Langberg. This year, however, on account of the drought, these springs have all failed, and where we expected to find small streams of running water, there have been only dried up watercourses.

From all the information I was able to gather, I expected to find a fairly good supply of water in the Puduhusohe Kloof, and it was my intention, after having taken the position, to move in with my transport, form a fortified camp, and occupy the same; but, after having captured the position it was found that the only water in the kloof was from a tiny spring about 4 miles up the valley and some distance up the side of the mountain in a very bad position; all the other water supply having completely dried up.

The stench in the kloof and schanzes moreover from animals that had died of rinderpest and from other causes, and the swarm of flies from the dead animals would, in the opinion of the Principal Medical Officer, have made it quite out of the question to try and form a camp or to station men there.

The positions held by the Rebels at Gamasep and Gamaluse on the eastern side, and at Gamasimayani on the western are of a similar nature to that at Puduhusche, only more difficult and dangerous to attack on account of the narrowness of the kloofs; and the drawbacks to occupation which I have already mentioned, would, I am of opinion, apply equally to them.

I would further beg to point out the loss of life and the number of casualties entailed by attacks on positions which it has been found subsequently impossible to hold, and now that the Rebels have ascertained the few weak spots in their defences at Puduhusche, I consider that any further attack, except for the purpose of permanent occupation, will be attended with loss of life hardly commensurate with the object to be attained.

From personal observation, and from the reports of those who have been on the mountain, there is no doubt that rinderpest has swept off the greater portion of the rebels’ cattle, as the carcases are lying in all stages of decomposition on all parts of the mountain, so that in all probability their food supply will shortly fail; and, under these circumstances, I would respectfully suggest for the consideration of Government, and with a view to the reduction in the expense of the Force, that the more highly paid and expensive corps might be permitted to return, and that a force of three or four hundred men (C.M.R. and Cape Police) should be stationed at Gamagara, Byan’s and Deben, from whence they could patrol the country along the base of the mountain, harassing the rebels as far as possible by preventing their small stock from grazing on the old lands, and also by cutting off communication between the rebels and outside sources of supply with a view to starving them out.

A further reason for making the foregoing suggestion is that various applications have already been made by members of the Geluk, Vryburg and Gordonia Volunteers to be allowed to return to their homes, which I have had to refuse, and, should their services be required for a much longer period, I think that it would result in considerable dissatisfaction.

I have, &c.,
(Sgd.) E. H. DALGETY, Lieut.-Coionel,
Commdg. B.F.Force.