REPORT ON FINAL OPERATIONS AT THE LANGBERG, BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE (Medical Report attached).
Sir,—I have the honour to submit for the information of Government my report on the operations which commenced on 30th ultimo, and which resulted in the complete suppression of the rebellion at the Langberg.
The last of the equipment for which I was waiting, the reservoir tanks, arrived at Ryan’s on 23rd ultimo, and their erection was completed during the same night, whilst on the following evening, 24th, Captain Henley arrived with the Transkeian Native Contingent, (the balance of the reinforcements,) and I should have moved forward on the morning of the 26th, but was compelled to await the return of 16 water carts from the Korannaberg, whose escort was to form the garrison at Ryan’s. These carts arrived at 2 a.m. on 27th, and orders were immediately issued to strike, and return to store all tents, together with spare kit and equipment, and to march at 8 a.m. on the following morning.
At 8 a.m., on 28th July, I left Ryan’s with a column consisting of 1,522 all ranks, 92 horses, 33 wagons, 3 ambulances, 1 Scotch cart, and 60 water carts, the head of the column reaching Gamasep Kopje at 1.30 p m.
I attach a statement marked A showing the distribution of the B.F.F. on the evening of the 28th ulto., from which it will be seen that the total strength was 2,326, excluding all drivers and leaders, and the Commissariat and Transport Staff at Kuruman.
Of this number 1,681 was the total combatant strength assembled at Gamasep Kopje.
I deemed it advisable to allow the troops to rest on the 29th, in view of the heavy march they had just accomplished, and of the arduous work which lay before them; indeed, this delay was imperative, for owing to the very small quantity of biscuits with which I was supplied, it was necessary to give the men time to bake two days’ bread.
During the 29th, I carefully explained to the Officers Commanding the five columns into which—for the purpose of attack—the force was divided, the general and special ideas which were to govern the operations commencing the following morning, and ending with the capture of the water at the head of Twaai’s or Gamasep Kloof, and through the Officers Commanding columns these ideas were carefully conveyed to all other officers concerned.
The enemy’s positions extended from the southern point of Puduhusche to the northern corner of Gamaluse valley, and my general idea was to turn his left by the capture of Gamaluse and at the same time, by seizing the highest point of the “Round Kopje” to the south of Derapedi Kloof, be in a position to cover the ascent of a force up the northern side of the “ Round Kopje ” from the top of which a descent could be made on the very strong schanzen at the southern and eastern points of the kopje in question, which is in reality a spur of the Langberg.
The garrison left to hold this camp consisted of 10 per cent, of all corps, with 1 12 pdr. and 1 7 pdr.
At 2.30 a.m. on the 30th the Northern column, under the command of Captain Cuming (Kaffrarian Rifles), marched off, and consisted of the following details, viz.:—
P.A.V. Guard 149 all ranks.
Kaffrarian Rifles 104 all ranks.
Transkei Native Contingent 130 all ranks.
Arnot’s Native Contingent 60 all ranks.
Miller’s 32 all ranks.
Medical Staff 10 all ranks.
making a total of 17 officers and 468 other ranks. The object of this column was to ascend the mountain from the centre of the basin between Gamaluse and Loboong, and detaching a strong party, to come down from above on the schanzen at the foot of the northern point of Gamaluse, thus enabling Maxims to enter the valley whilst the rest of the column pushed along the Gamaluse-Loboong Ridge until they reached a point just west of the Spitzkop.
At the same time the Southern column under the command of Colonel Spence, V.D., D.E.O.V. Rifles, moved off, consisting of the following details, viz.:
D.E.O.V. Rifles 156 all ranks.
Cape Town Highlanders 118 all ranks.
1st City Volunteers 60 all ranks.
Western Rifles 36 all ranks.
Cape Police Native Contingent 300 all ranks.
Medical Staff 9 all ranks.
making a total of 29 officers and 650 other ranks.
Col. Spence’s orders were to break through the enemy’s line of schanzen in the basin or hollow between the eastern point of the Round Kopje and Galishwe’s Kopje and then, ascending to the shoulder of the mountain known as the Black Kopje, detach 150 men to seize the highest point of the Round Kopje before daylight (from whence they could fire down into the schanzen on Galishwe’s Kopje below), and then push on westwards until he reached the rear of the Spitzkop, which was to be carried by both columns simultaneously on a rocket signal being made by Colonel Spence.
At dawn I left the laager with the Main column consisting of the Head Quarter Staff,—2 12-prs., P.A.O.C. Artillery: 1 7-pr., D.F. Artillery; 3 Maxims, C.M.R. Artillery, E. Squadron C.M.R., the Mounted Company D. E.O.V.R. (50 mounted and 30 dismounted), the Queenstown and Kimberley Rifles, in all 18 officers and 333 other ranks, and moved down within 1,000 yards of Galishwe’s Kopje. It was soon apparent that both columns had taken up the positions assigned to them without opposition, the enemy having abandoned the position. The only water found in Gamaluse Kloof was a very small stream some 1,000 yards in rear of the Spilzkop, and as a water cart could not approach within a mile, it was useless.
After destroying all schanzen in Gamaluse I gave the troops an hour’s rest and then sent the 1st City Volunteers, C. T. Highlanders and Transkeian Native Contingent to reinforce the Cape Police Natives, and Western Rifles, who, under Captain Wilson, C.P., were holding the peak above the round kopje about 1,000 feet high.
At noon, the troops above, being in position, I commenced moving round the base of the Round kopje, the Infantry extending up the precipitous side of the mountain until their right touched the left of Captain Wilson’s force: the Artillery being on my extreme left, some 700 yards from base of the mountain, the left and left front being covered by Mounted Infantry. It was soon apparent that the rebels had evacuated this very strong position, and from information subsequently gathered from prisoners, it appears that Luka Jantje seeing at daylight Captain Wilson’s position, and realising that his left would be turned, and his centre and right schanzen attacked from the rear, ordered all his men to leave the Round Kopje and join him on the Fighting Kopje.
I now determined to abandon my original plan of working round to the back of the Fighting Kopje during the night, and made arrangements for attacking it immediately. The 1st City Volunteers with Captain Wilson’s Native Police were, in accordance with original orders, left up on the peak above the Round Kopje, and as the head of the Main Column reached Pearce’s store, I deployed outwards, and extended for the attack, the left being thrown forward so as to face the point of the Fighting Kopje, the Right (Captain Tainton’s Native Police) being some 600 yards up Derapedi Kloof and above Luka’s huts, which by this time were in flames, having been fired by the Mounted Co., D.E.O.V.R., who, although mounted and within 250 yards of the schanzen were, for some time, not fired upon, the enemy evidently adopting their old tactics of holding their fire until they could open on the main body at a very short range.
Before the deployment was completed, or the guns in position, I noticed that some of the Transkeian and Arnot’s Native Contingents were moving close up under the Kopje, and the enemy opening fire on them, wounding three at this point, they had to be instantly supported, so I ordered a general advance. Bayonets were fixed and the point and first ridge of the Fighting Kopje were rushed, practically without opposition, without a shot being fired in reply to the enemy’s fire—the rebels running back to their second line of schanzen some 150 yards further back, and about 100 feet higher. It was in carrying this second position that all the European casualties took place. Within 15 minutes from the first shot being fired, all resistance was over.
Between 25 and 30 of the enemy were bayonetted or shot in the Fighting Kopje, and at least eight bodies have since been found in Derapedi and Gamasep Kloofs, wounded rebels who probably crawled away after dark and died trying to reach water.
A little later, as the P.A. Guard and Kaffrarian Rifles were returning along south side of Fighting Kopje to the water carts, Luka Jantje and five followers sprang from the rocks, the Chief firing at a range of only 15 yards into the Kaffrarian Rifles without effect. Luka was instantly shot by Surgeon-Lieut. Smyth, Medical Staff, and Sergt. Bruce, C.P., and of the other rebels, three were killed, and the other two badly wounded and captured.
As the troops were very exhausted I decided to let them bivouac for the night on the heights above Derapedi and the Fighting Kopje, and returned with the Artillery and escorting Infantry to this camp.
During the time the attack on the Fighting Kopje was taking place Captain Wilson, observing a body of rebels making for the top of the mountain, moved after them, and dually drove them from their schanzen, killing eight, aud losing one Private, Cape Police, killed.
Amongst the rebels killed was Marootselee, the Chief from Gamakanyana, and subsequently it was reported by wounded prisoners, that Galishwe was with this party, and was badly wounded in the heel. He had left the Fighting Kopje with the intention of endeavouring to drive Captain Wilson from his position above the Bound Kopje.
On 31st July I moved down to Twaai’s Kloof with the Artillery, and as the advance on the laager and water was about to be made, a white flag was sent in by Dokwe, a Batlapin Chief, asking for peace, but, not placing much confidence in the message, I decided to occupy the head of the kloof, and laager before discussing terms of peace.
The advance at once commenced, the heights on the right and left being held respectively by the Western Bifles with Captain Tainton’s natives, and the Queenstown Rifles with Captain Wilson’s Native Police. The Mounted Company, D.E.O.V.B., who covered the advance, were ordered not to fire unless first fired on, but on their arrival at the wagons about twenty shots were fired at them from the left, which they returned, killing several rebels.
In the kloof at the back of the laager are two strong springs, causing a small stream to run for some 700 yards, but it was literally choked with the carcasses of many hundreds of dead cattle in all stages of advanced decomposition, and quite unfit for use, besides, owing to the rugged nature of the kloofs, it is impossible to get a water cart within 1,000 yards-of the springs themselves.
I decided to let the troops rest on the 1st August, this being the more necessary as bread had to be baked, and many men being practically barefooted I was anxious to issue new boots expected during that day.
At noon, Toto sent a note stating his desire to surrender, and I sent a message in reply, stating that, if he and his people surrendered unconditionally with their arms before 10 a.m. on the 2nd, I would not attack Puduhusche. Meanwhile a strong mountain column was detailed to start at noon next day, and every detail arranged for the taking of Puduhusche, should Toto not surrender, at dawn on the 3rd instant.
As reported fully by heliograph, Toto with his son Robinyane, and practically all the Batlaros, at 9.30 a.m. on the 2nd, came in and laid down their arms.
At 9 a.m. on 2nd, directly Toto was sighted approaching the Camp, I sent my Staff Officer to Twaai’s Kloof to instantly despatch five large patrols to scour the mountain in search of Galishwe, a step I could not think of taking until Puduhusche had either surrendered, or been captured.
Since the 2nd the mountain, from Lupanen in the South to Gatnasimenyane in its extreme Northern end, has been thoroughly swept by fifteen patrols, consisting in all of about 1,100 men, who have carefully examined every kloof, and this morning, after receiving Captain Tainton’s report, I was able to assure you that the mountain is now absolutely free from all rebels, and the rebellion completely crushed, as far as the Langberg is concerned.
There is little doubt but that Galishwe escaped from a Western kloof early on the 31st July, in all probability making for Matlapanen, a spot on the Kuruman Biver, some 55 miles South-west of Kuis, on the Molopo.
Our casualties during the taking of the Fighting Kopje, which as previously reported, amounted to three killed and five wounded—were infinitely smaller than was to be expected, due to about four-fifths of the enemy bolting south when they saw the large number of troops emerge round the corner of the Bound Kopje, and deploy for the attack.
Since 31st ulto., 3,091 prisoners have either surrendered or been captured by the B.F.F., in addition to 498 captured by Captains MacGregor and Snow, C.P. D. II., at Gatlosis and Oliphant’s Kloof.
The wounded have all been sent to the Base Hospital at Kuruman.
In conclusion, I can only express my very high appreciation of the conduct of all troops engaged. Under fire they have always been steady and well under control; in camp their discipline has been everything that could be desired, a fact proved by the entire absence of serious crime ; and the cheerful manner in which, without a murmur, they have suffered the many real hardships inseparable from a campaign conducted in a country like this, is beyond all praise, and as an example of the unavoidable.hardships during the recent operations, I may mention that nearly the whole of the troops engaged bivouacked on the nights of the 30th and 31st ulto., on the heights above Derapedi and Gamasep, without blankets or great coats, whilst the thermometer was well below freezing point.
I have, &c.,
(Sgd.) E. H. DALGETY, Colonel,
On the 7th August, I received instructions to hand over to Major Hutchons, Cape Police, which I accordingly did, and on the following day I moved with the Column to Ryan’s, and moving again on the following day, finally beached Kuruman on the 11th.
On the 13th and following days the various Corps marched for Vryburg.
On the 16th, I received a telegram ordering me to push on the Cape Mounted Riflemen, and to return to the Transkei as quickly as possible. This was done, the Cape Mounted Riflemen reaching Vryburg on the evening of the 25th, and entraining for Kei Road on the following day.
I would beg to bring to notice of Government the excellent behaviour of all Corps which took part in the final attack on the Langberg; they were thoroughly steady, and under control, and when ordered at about 1'30 p.m. to rush the “Fighting Kopje” (at the northern side entering Twaai’s Kloof), although very done up (as they had been moving along the mountain sides since 3 a.m.), they one and all pulled themselves together and struggled gamely up the mountain, this charge ending in the death of Luka Jantje, who was shot by Dr. Smyth of the Medical Staff and Sergeant Bruce of the Cape Police, simultaneously.
I would also wish to say a word in praise of the manner in which the members of the various Corps that marched from Kimberley in March last, behaved whilst lying in Camp waiting for reinforcements. This was a very trying time for all ranks, but the work in Camp was always done well, and cheerfully, and there was little or no serious crime. I attribute this, in a great measure, to the personal influence of the Officers commanding the various Corps, and my thanks are due to Colonel Spence, Major Inglesby, Captain Searle, and Captain Johnson, who gave me every assistance, both when in Camp and in action.
Of the services of both Captain Johnson, D.E.O.V. R., and Captain Lukin, Cape Mounted Riflemen, as Staff Officer and Field Adjutant respectively, I cannot speak too highly, while, in addition to their Staff duties, they were always ready and anxious to take part in any special duty in connection with the Corps to which they belonged.
Captain Fuller, Cape Police, although labouring under great difficulties, rendered me every assistance as Intelligence Officer, while Lieutenant Wormald, 7th Hussars, who was appointed as A.D.C., was invaluable, conveying the instructions committed to him without the slightest misunderstanding, and riding as if he had two spare necks. Lieutenant Wormald moreover, was always one of the first to volunteer for any special duty.
The Departmental Staff all worked admirably, and I would specially mention Surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel Hartley, V.C., who, although wounded on the 6th April, still continued under a heavy fire to attend to the wounded in the field. Surgeon-Major Cox, and Surgeon Smyth (who with Sergeant Bruce, Cape Police) killed Luka Jantje; Captain Young and Lieutenant Bridge of the Commissariat Department, Veterinary Surgeon Tomlinson and Captains Kinnear and Fonseca of the Transport Service, who one and all worked indefatigably, while the latter officer with Mr. Muggeridge of the Agricultural Department, carried out all the details of the water supply for the column during the final attack without a hitch.
All officers commanding corps vied with one another in carrying out the plan of attack, and I would specially mention the names of Colonel Spence and Captain Cuming, who commanded the Southern and Northern Columns respectively.
The Cape Police under Major Hutchons (who commanded at the Kopje during the attack) rendered most valuable assistance, and I would wish to specially mention the names of Captains A. Tainton and Wilson, who commanded Native Contingents in the attack; Captain Marsh, who commanded the Patrol to the Korannaberg, and Captain Neylan, who was left in command at Kuruman.
The Native Contingents, under Captains Henley and Arnot and Lieutenant Miller, also did excellent service.
In conclusion, I would beg to bring to the notice of Government the loss of kit and damage to the same, which both the Cape Mounted Riflemen and Cape Police have sustained during this campaign; the former, perhaps, having suffered the most owing to the greater length of time they were in the field, and would like to add my testimony as to the really good work done by both Corps.
I beg to attach a letter from the Principal Medical Officer, marked B, and most cordially endorse his remarks.
I have the honour, &c., &c.,
(Signed) E. H. DALGETY,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding B.F. Force.
P.S.—I should like to add that I will take the earliest possible opportunity, as soon as I can get at the necessary documents, of forwarding to Government a comprehensive report of all details and circumstances in connection with the action of the Bechuanaland Field Force.
E. H. D.
BECHUANALAND FIELD FORCE.
State showing Distribution of Force on Evening of 28th July, 1897.
Office of the Principal Medical Officer,
Umtata, 5th September, 1897.
The Officer Commanding
Bechuanaland Field Force.
Sir,—I trust it is not too late to bring to your favourable notice the excellent and willing service of the members of the Cape Police doing duty in Kuruman Hospital, as Hospital Orderlies and attendants.
Previous to the final attack on the Langberg, 30th July, 1897, with .your approval I moved all the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps from Kuruman to the front.
They were replaced by the Cape Police, who cheerfully, industriously and most kindly attended the sick and wounded patients by day and by night. I was particularly impressed by the thoroughness of their work on one occasion :—Hearing a wounded native patient groaning at about 1 a.m., I went into the hospital to see him. I found no less than three of the Cape Police trying to help the unfortunate man. They had not the slightest idea that I was coming to visit the patient, therefore I consider their behaviour all the more creditable.
The duties of a Hospital Orderly are by no means pleasant, but, however disagreeable, they were willingly undertaken by the Cape Police at the Base Hospital, Kururaan.
I have, &c., &c., &c.,
(Sgd.) E. B. HARTLEY, Surg. Lt.-Col.
P.M.O., Col. Forces.