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 considerable 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 involved in more than one serious quarrel with neighbouring chiefs.
Early in August, Inspector Mansel, with thirtyeight 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 blundered 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 recommended 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-commissioned 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 outstation was occupied for many years, and a very useless one it was. Many attempts were made to move the detachment to Dundee, but much opposition 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 inaccessible 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. Pennefather, 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. Immediately after breakfast the other tents and marquees 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 Kambula, 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 come.
The widow of Captain the Hon. R. Campbell, Coldstream 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 fell.
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, meanwhile, 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 inseparable from such an expedition, and did much to secure the comfort of all."