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William Henry Brigg - killed 22nd June 1896 2 years 6 months ago #78285

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In Utley Cemetery, Keighley. The family surname is Brigg, not Briggs.

....The following telegram [has] been received at the Colonial Office :—
...."From Lieut. General Goodenough to Mr. Chamberlain.—June 25. Following telegram received from Carrington :—'June 24. Report from Salisbury that whole of Ayrshire party killed, having been attacked en route for Salisbury. Names : Hawkins, Gimbier, Evans, Dripdale, Montgomery, Briggs, Jones, Dobbin, Mays. Charter surrounded. Taberer has been attacked at Headlands; beat off Rebels, and is retiring to Umtali, which he hopes to reach safely. Waggon with food supplies for Gwelo stopped at Marandellas, and looted by Rebels, as also supply of twenty-five thousand rounds of ammunition left by Natal column, owing to the rinderpest having killed all the transport oxen. Am preparing column of sixty picked men under White to proceed immediately to Mashonaland with one Maxim. Plumer's column arrives Khami to-morrow on its return from patrol.' "
The Standard [London], Friday 26th June 1896

....The news of massacres on the borders of Mashonaland has brought trouble into a Keighley household. Mr. Thornton Briggs, of 17, Milton-street, bade farewell to a son, Wm. Henry Briggs, over two years ago, the younger man, full of hopefulness and pluck, then starting for South Africa. He made his way to the frontiers of civilisation, and from his last letters there appears to be only too much reason to fear that, as one of the Ayrshire Mines exploring party, he has been cut off, with all his companions, while on the way to Fort Salisbury. Mr. Fowlds, chemist, Keighley, on behalf of the relatives, wired yesterday to the Colonial Office for any further details, and received the following reply :— "Whitehall. No further information about Briggs, reported killed. Everything received regarding casualties is being pubIlished.—Colonial Office."
Leeds Mercury, Saturday 27th June 1896

In the following account, Brigg is referred to as B.

....The rebellion in Rhodesia, now happily said to be drawing to a close, was characterized at its commencement by exciting incidents and escapes which will long dwell in the memories of those who took any active part in them. White residents living in farms or mines, many miles distant from any town or fort, often without proper arms or ammunition, had little chance of safety against the hordes of savages who suddenly rose against them. At the end of last year every policeman in Rhodesia, with the exception of a few stationed at Salisbury and Bulawayo, was removed, presumably for Jameson's Transvaal raid. The Matabele, taking advantage of this opportunity, rose on March 25 all over the country and murdered nearly every white man in the outlying districts of Matabeleland. Still, in Mashonaland, 300 miles distant, perfect security was felt, but the experiences given below of myself and companions engaged on the Ayrshire mine, seventy miles north-west of Salisbury, will show how misplaced was our confidence. On June 20 the usual weekly mail arrived from town (Salisbury). It contained some ugly rumours, and the news of the murder of two white men in the Hartley district. It was not pleasant news, but everything was very vague, and we little thought at the time of reading that men were being murdered all over the country. However, in Lomagundi nothing happened till the following day, Sunday, June 21, our shortest day.
....In the afternoon of that day two white men walked over from an adjoining property to the Native Commissioner's camp, about three miles from the Ayrshire, and I sent my boy, asking if they would come over and see me that afternoon, which they promised to do in half an hour. Time passed on, and daylight was ended, but they did not arrive; still, I thought nothing of it. The night shift went down the mine as usual at 7 p.m., and I had just finished my rounds preparatory to turning in, when a Zambesi boy, working for us, came up with his arms tightly tied behind him and saying a native policeman had been shot at a neighbouring kraal, and the Mashonas were in general revolt.
....When this serious news was brought, I immediately mustered the whites, ten in all, consisting of six employees on the Ayrshire mine, three prospectors, and myself. Our first duty was to warn the Native Commissioner and his two friends of the danger. Three volunteers, G., E., and D., proceeded on their plucky errand, and although their mission proved fruitless, it none the less deserves to be remembered among the many thousand cases. where Englishmen have risked their lives to save, or attempt to save, their comnrades. These three were away two hours, and during that time a colonial native came from the Mining Commissioner's camp with the news that the storekeeper, doctor, a prospector, and poor Jameson (no relative of Dr. Jameson) had been surprised by a large body of natives, and were all murdered.
....We at once proceeded to form a rough laager, consisting of stout poles strongly lashed round the iron headgear over the main shaft, and had hardly completed our task when G., E., and D. returned from the Native Commissioner's camp and confirmed our worst fears, as although the bodies of the three poor fellows were not discovered, yet there were large pools of blood outside two of the huts, and marks of some heavy body having been dragged to the edge of the precipice close by, so that no possible doubt could exist in our minds of the awful fate of our comrades.
....I do not think many who read of this rebellion in their comfortable homes in England would have envied us during the remainder of that, night—ten men surrounded by a horde of hostile blacks, who at any minute might break in; cut off from our friends in Salisbury by seventy miles of difficult and dangerous country, swarming with Mashonas in revolt. All the poor fellows around us men, some of whom we had spoken to only that very morning, and left in the best of health and spirits, now lying dead on the veldt thousands of miles away from home and relatives, cruelly murdered in cold blood by the treacherous Mashonas, who probably, in order to get near enough to kill them with no risk to themselves, made a pretence of asking for work or a desire to trade. We posted pickets, and most of the men got what sleep they could. When dawn appeared, after a long consultation we adopted M.'s advice, placed as many of our valuables as possible down the mine, and started along the Salisbury road. M. was elected leader, another having declined the position, and we started : five whites in front, then some thirty friendlies carrying food, blankets, and spare ammunition (though we could not arm them), and the remaining five whites about half a mile behind, with three Cape "boys" armed. The first three miles is through about the worst country in Mashonaland, densely wooded, with high kopjes strewn with granite boulders, the road winding in and.out through steep defiles and gorges.
....About a mile and a half on the road ten to twelve n—— suddenly appeared, fired half a dozen shots, and disappeared—evidently spies ; but we were allowed to proceed for about two miles past the Manini river, when we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by about a hundred natives. They were concealed behind a large clump of bush, and were within twenty yards before we saw them. They immediately fired, and, in spite of a volley from us killing at least four, they rushed us and were in amongst us before we.had time to reload. A hurried glance at the five whites in the rear made it evident they could not arrive in time to be of any assistance, and they probably came to the same conclusion, and took refuge in a patch of bush 600 yards away, the friendlies having thrown down their blankets and cleared at the first shot.
....At first no native came directly for me, though three hulking great fellows went for my friend G., my assaver. The first he clubbed with his rifle; I shot the second. As I was reloading I half turned round and saw a native taking careful aim at me with an old Snider, about seven yards awav. After what appeared to be an eternity he fired ; I felt the bullet graze the side of my head, and my hat flew off. The next minute I had shot him through the heart. In the meantime the third n—— had killed poor G., while D., a plucky little chap, who retreated, firing as he went, and B. shared the same fate. M., seeing the position was hopeless, started to run, was knocked down by a knobkerrie, but regained his feet though not his rifle and got off across the veldt, eventually getting into Salisbury. I turned round and shot poor G.'s murderer, and then, by the most extraordinary luck, passed unharmed right through the Rebels and joined the other five whites. After making a bit of a stand and killing a few, we retreated towards the river, and managing to elude our enemies, we took refuge in the rushes until sunset, and though we even heard them whispering close at hand, they did not discover our hiding-place. That hour and a half that we had to wait for the sun to set seemed the longest I have ever spent, but down it went at last, and half an hour afterwards we again started on our way towards Salisbury, now being only five whites and a Cape "boy." Travelling all that night, failing to get through the lines which had been drawn round us in a semi-circle, Tuesday morning found us still on the north bank of the Manini river, but some twenty miles from the scene of the fight. Hiding for the day, we were again followed by the Mashonas, and once. or twice nearly discovered. One of our party, M., knew something of woodcraft, and we tried to follow the rudiments of Fenimore Cooper's tales of our boyhood, carefully walking round large patches of sand, occasionally walking backwards, and using every precaution against breaking twigs or branches on our route, thereby making our walk much longer ; but luickily for us we had not Fenimore Cooper's Red Indians to encounter, and Mashonas are not expert at following a trail. On Tuesday night we found they had formed another line of encampments, but we were so done up by this time that we knew our only chance was to creep through their lines, and this we did, though it was a risky and nasty business, and then struck out for Salisbury, guiding ourselves by the stars and carefully avoiding all roads. We only made nine miles that night, being so done up for want of food and rest. During Thursday we suffered terribly from thirst, and the heat was fearful. Our Cape "boy" twice pluckily went nearly a mile for water, and had very narrow escapes of being caught. He also brought back some wild cucumbers, which were very delicious. Tired, famished, and full of fever, we still had to keep moving that night, and managed about six miles, across the mountains, of fearfully rough travelling, as we dared not take even a K—— path, but had to surmount the, boulders, fallen trees, &c., as best we could. Friday morning was bitterly cold, for two or three hours before daybreak freezing hard, and of course we had no blankets. In the morning we heard about twenty shots fired some three miles off, and hoped it was a patrol sent out to relieve us; but, as I have learned since, it must have been some white men who were then murdered, as no one who got in fired any shots at that time. As soon as the sun was up we went about a mile to a farm belonging to a Dutchman who had left the country, and there we found about a pound of Kaffir meal. How it got there goodness only knows, but there it was, and although something like bad oatmeal mixed with sand—and a pound is not overmuch for five men and a n—— who have been starved for four days and a half—yet I don't think I have ever tasted anything I enjoyed so much, and what with this and walking on the road (as the veldt was no longer covered with thick bush, the road was no more open to observation than the open country) we did twenty-two miles that night, which brought us on Friday night to within eighteen miles of Salisbury. Here we lighted a fire, though had we known how close the n—— were, I think we would have preferred to go cold to sleep. As soon as we camped I sent the "boy" on to town with a note to my friend E., asking for food and a Cape-cart or horses to bring us into town, as we had then no idea that the rising was so general, or that Salisbury was in laager. I afterwards learned that the boy went straight in, getting into Salisbury about midday, thus doing forty miles in about eighteen hours, which was pretty good, seeing he had had hardly anything to eat for five days. We stopped at the Gwibi River till about eleven, and we were all so done up and weak that we kept no look-out, but all went fast off to sleep in full view of the road and two K—— paths. At eleven I suddenly woke up, and there was a rebel about a hundred yards off, looking at us. I immediately woke the others and seized my rifle, but too late, as he was off. into the bush like a shot. Of course the "boy" was a spy, and we expected at any minute to have a horde of n—— down on us. However, we thought the best thing to do was to go on as far as possible to Salisbury, so off we started. We managed to do six miles, but this was as much as we could manage, so we hid in a clump of bush by the roadside, intending to go on to town when it got cooler. Of course, we were all the time expecting the cart from town. At 3.30 p.m,. there were no signs of it, and we started off for town, but hadn't gone 500 yards when I saw E. coming over the rise, and the next minute horsemen poured in from all sides, who proved to be the scouts of a column fifty strong with a Cape-cart and a Maxim sent out to relieve us. You may imagine how we went for the food and brandy E. brought for us, and after a halt of half an hour we started once more, and arrived at Salisbury about 10 p.m. on Saturday, thankful enough to once more have food, and blankets to sleep in. Salisbury was in laager, and we there heard of all the terrible murders which had taken place during the previous fortnight, to which we unhappily had to add our list. We learned on our arrival that our leader, M. and the fifth man of the rear guard, E., had got into town all right two or three days before we did, having been more fortunate in eluding the natives after the fight. How glad we were to be safe in town once more, it is beyond my power to describe. We bad been six days with practically nothing to eat, had gone through a desperate fight, and walked nearly 100 miles through very rough country, and over a range of mountains—six days of the most terrible suffering, privation, and anxiety, which few experience and live to describe and which, personally, I would not voluntarily again undergo for all that this world has to offer.
Pall Mall Gzette, Friday 4th December 1896


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William Henry Brigg - killed 22nd June 1896 2 years 6 months ago #78290

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The only "Brigg(s)" mentioned in Schedule VII of "The 96 Rebellions" is one "John W.Briggs" who was reported Murdered or Missing and was found to have been killed June 22, 1896 Le Maghonda district, engine driver employed at Ayrshire mine, murdered on his way to Salisbury at the Menene River, body found Oct. 27 1896.
The forenames differ as does the surname - but the date matches.

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