Trooper Edward Horton Grundy, Newcastle Mounted Rifles 1 year 2 months ago #87433
Trooper Edward Horton Grundy, SAGS 1879
Served with the Newcastle Mounted Rifles in the 1879 Zulu campaign, he was a witness to the immediate aftermath of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift, as described by T H Cunningham in the Natal Mercury.
After surviving fever contracted at Fort Pine,near Dundee, and hospitalisation in Newcastle, he worked for his father James Grundy, in a trading store business.
In 1883, he was involved in the campaign in the Transvaal against Chief Mapoch, and was one of the two casualties. He was tasked by Nellmapius with setting dynamite to destroy caves used to conceal tribal forces.He died in Feb 1883 from a bullet wound sustained whilst attempting to recover the body of a servant of Piet Joubert, at the entrance to a cave during the battle at Vlught Kraal.
Edward Horton Grundy (28 July 1854, Durban-17 February 1883,Tvl) unmarried. Edward spent his childhood in England with the rest of his family. In September 1871, he sailed from England for Wellington,NZ, on the Queen Bee, and joined the family in Natal in the following year, arriving on 13 December. He served in the Anglo Zulu War as a private in the Durban Mounted Rifles. (Actually as a private in the Newcastle Mounted Rifles).
In March 1881 he was working in his father’s business. He later fought in the Transvaal in the Mapoch War (1881-83). According to the Natal Mercury he was killed in an attack on Chief Mapoch’s (or Nyabela’s) Vlugtekraal. Davis Forbes, in My Life in South Africa, add further details. Page 72 .He maintains Edward was one of the Natal men chosen by A.H. Nellmapius to assist in the blasting of the caves of the Mapoch people. While laying dynamite, on 5 February 1883, two of them, Edward and a man named Ware, were hit by Mapoch bullets. Edward died 12 days later.
The Newcastle Mounted Rifles
Established in October 1875, the Newcastle Mounted Rifles was another regiment in the style of the day: small by British standards, normal for Natal, but properly constituted. The unit was commanded by Captain Charles Robert Bradstreet; something of a rolling stone, he had joined the civil service and had been sent up to Newcastle as Assistant Magistrate, later resident Magistrate.
With war looming, Bradstreet had his hands full. The licentious soldiers were giving continual trouble and bar brawls were a daily occurrence. The remount officers came in to protest that the farmers were fleecing them, demanding exorbitant prices for a horse. Boer farmers rode in to complain about cattle thieving and native servants came to complain about ill treatment by their masters. To top it all, the Newcastle Mounted Rifles were rather thin on the ground with a muster of only 20. By the time they were called out on active service on 25 November 1878, on reaching their assembly point, Helpmekaar, the regiment numbered 30 with 8 to follow.
As part of the central or No. 3 Column, the Newcastle Mounted Rifles crossed the Buffalo River as part of the invading force and on 12 January took part in the battle of Sihayo’s kraal. Until the 20th when the column advanced on Isandhlwana, they carried out patrols and kept a lookout for any Zulu warriors.
On the morning of 21 January the entire column was in camp; following Chelmsford’s order of the previous day, two separate parties moved out to reconnoitre to the east. As many of the mounted colonials as possible were required for these duties and all - with the exception of those needed for vidette and outpost duty, and those who were not well or whose horses were not fit - therefore moved out with the reconnoitring force. Just 15 men of the Newcastle Mounted Rifles remained in camp.
Of these men left behind, Bradstreet and seven others were killed in action having retreated into the dry river bed in front of the camp. According to the Natal Mercury of 27 January 1879, ‘The last that was seen of poor Bradstreet was in a crowd of Zulus, fighting vigorously with sword, his ammunition all expended.’ Caught in the mad stampede to get free of Zulu warriors, now washing their spears in the blood of men and animals, seven men of the Newcastle Mounted Rifles escaped by making their way back to the Buffalo River and reaching the safety of the Natal bank. The remaining men, together with those of the Buffalo Border Guard, remained at Fort Pine until they were finally dismissed. The Newcastle Mounted Rifles arrived in their home town on 8 August and were disbanded shortly thereafter.
38 Medals were awarded to the Newcastle Mounted Rifles, 37 of them with the ‘1879’ clasp.
The Anglo-Zulu War 1879
Statement of T.H. Cunningham, Newcastle Mounted Rifles.
Mr.Cunningham of Dundee was with the force that went on the ill-fated trip to attack Matyana, returned to the scene of the massacre, and relieved Rorke’s Drift. Mr. Cunningham, born in 1856, came to Natal in 1873, and 5 years later joined the Newcastle Mounted Rifles, being the second man to join up. He says:
“I go back to the foundation of the Newcastle Mounted Rifles. There had been a lot of trouble in Zululand. Captain Osborn and Dr Allen’s brother walked into my shop one day. Capt. Osborn said “There is going to be trouble and we are going to form a corps.” He came to the right place; we were all fighting men. Then he signed his name and I signed after him, the first 2 members to sign on. We raised 62 men; some of them were Dutch and German, but they fought like demons against the Zulus.
We crossed the Buffalo River on Jan. 9, 1879. I was on vedette duty. We had to circle and manoeuvre on horseback. There were no helios at that time and I had been out 2 days and nights, and said to my Lieut. “My horse cannot stick it any longer”. “Get away” he said “Yours is the best horse in the troop. You must be off in the morning.” Sergt. Swan came to me very early in the morning with coffee and offered me his watch, saying “That may save you a bullet.”
We used to circle on horseback if the enemy was coming. Matiyana’s people tried to get through. We were in a hollow and the Zulu army was on a hill. Captain Mansell called to about 20 of us to go and reconnoitre, during which a poor little policeman let his revolver go off and he was sent back to camp. We chased Matiyana right into a cave. I shouted to Colonel Mackenzie, “For God’s sake, sir, don’t go in front of that cave.” Then we heard a bugle calling, blowing something horrible. The news had come in about the cut-up at Isandhlwana. Referring to Matiyana, “Leave him” I said, but I got Matiyana’s horse. (I got my name up for that lot.)
The bugles were blowing something terrible. One of the boys came along galloping like mad, shouting “Isandhlwana is finished. Our men are all cut up.” Major Dartnell said; “Boys, we can do nothing.” We had nothing to eat or drink for a long time, so the major said “I think I have enough biscuits to go round. Get you billies and we’ll have tea.” Then Capt. Shepstone rode up shouting “The camp is taken by the Zulus.” I was told to pick out another trooper, go like the devil, and get right to Isandhlwana and see what we could spot. So I set out with Grundy. We had got strict orders not to get too close to the Zulu army. After a bit the column came up. It was very dark, we searched for a man screaming in the rocks and got him out, he seemed to have gone mad, but I think recovered afterwards. We came across Major Black, constantly shouting “Give them nothing but cold steel.” He had gone mad.
We cavalry men got orders to form a square, and the infantry formed outside of us. We fired volleys so as to keep the Zulus away from us. The jackals were screaming. We could hear the rifles at Rorke’s Drift. The General gave out orders that every man was to be up before daylight so as not to see the slaughter. There was a police chap, a German, swearing, the General forbade it in a loud voice. I knew it was the General by his voice. I had ridden dispatches for him.
Before dawn we cleared out. As soon as we got over the rise we met about 600 Zulus coming back from Rorke’s Drift. We could hear their leaders ordering them not to fire- they had had enough of it. I expected we were going to get a licking, for we had no ammunition. I said to Jack Grant, my half section, that I feared we were in for it. Yet we walked right past them and they never fired a shot. We made tracks straight along for Rorke’s Drift. There was a bugler there blowing for all he was worth. We dashed through the Buffalo River and got up all right- Pretty near all were dead, I used to chaff my friend Napier about the silver spurs he wore. He shoved his spurs into a native who might have been dead, but to Napier’s astonishment up sprang the Native. We got to Adams farm. There were 6 dragoons with us. They were holy terrors with the sword. I asked Colonel Braid if we could go to the orchard to get peaches. There was a native supposed to be looking after the orchard. He cheeked us something awful, so a dragoon with his sword and one stroke cut his head right off.
We relieved Rorke’s Drift, stayed several days, and were then placed along the border to guard Natal.
For God, Queen and Country, Terry Sole page 370
Grundy was the “second of three to go down with fever at Fort Pine. Moved to hospital at Ladysmith and recovered.”
The Mapoch War
Forbes Book “My Life in South Africa”
Page 66 -80
We were called up, and each ordered to bring his own rifle, thirty rounds of ammunition, and ten days supplies. We would be supplied with a horse, but had to bring our own saddle and bridle. Every young man had also to supply his own wagon for transport, and be at Lake Chrissie on a given date.
We all arrived at Lake Chrissie on the date mentioned and were put under Field-cornet David Joubert. Each ten men had to elect one as corporal. We elected Hans Stapelberg.
We started away from Lake Chrissie on the Middleberg Road. When we camped at night the corporal told off one of his men to be horse guard, the balance cooking the food, and those who had private tents pitched them. Four of us had a wagon with a tent fixed on it—what is called a tent wagon—so all four slept in it. There were only about fifty men in our lot, but we had to pick up other lots on our way, making up a commando of about three hundred men when we reached Mapochs Land.
The first night all the burghers started singing psalms, droning away for an hour it seemed. This took place every night.
When we arrived at a spot about twenty miles from Mapochs Land, the commandos from all parts of the Transvaal formed one big laager (camp), each district occupying its section of the laager under its Comrnandant. Our Commandant was Lotchie Free. This Hoof Laager consisted of about two thousand men, all mounted. was no provision for feeding the horses, but we had brought some mealies with us. There being twelve to fourteen oxen in each wagon, the number of oxen ran into thousands and the grazing was a serious matter.
When all the commandos had arrived, the General, Piet Joubert, or rather Commander-General Piet Joubert, marched us on to within six miles of Nybela’s stronghold. The approach was over an open flat country forming a big valley, and as the natives could not come out into the open against mounted troops, there was no fighting. We saw the natives driving their cattle into the mountains.
We formed one very strong laager with the wagons, one wagon pushed up against the other in a great square, leaving two openings to let the horses in and out. As the grazing would not hold out, the Commandant-General sent all the oxen away under a strong guard until they were clear of all danger, returning to their respective homes until they were required again. By doing this there was enough grazing for the horses. Only four spans of oxen were kept—for any special work—in addition to the slaughter bullocks.
The war was really a siege, as the natives were in the fortified mountains and caves. The four spans of oxen were kept carting in stones, of which there were millions of loose ones fit for building dry walls. Each commando had to build a stone wall about three feet high, and about thirty feet outside the line of wagons, leaving three feet openings for the men to pass through. In this way we had a low wall right round the square of the laager, leaving two big gates for the cattle and horses, and any wagons that had to pass in or out. In this open space between the wall and the wagons all the cooking was done. The tents, if any, were on the inside of the wagons. We slept in or under the wagons, and those who had private tents pitched them on the inner side of the line of wagons.
While this was going on, the Commandant-General was parleying with the paramount chief Nybela by sending in a native runner with a white flag. The native would go with a white flag to within a certain distance of the mountain opposite Nybela’s stronghold and sit down. This was all in sight of the laager. After a bit some of the enemy would come down to him. It was a Zulu or Swazi that was sent, against whom the Basutus had no immediate grievance. The message would be :” The Commandant-General says, why get your people killed for a stranger, and have your women and children living in the rock like rock-rabbits. Give up the man who has committed a great crime, and all will be over.”
The men would go back to Nybela for his reply, which was always in this strain, “ Tell the Commandant-General that I gave my allegiance to the great English Queen, and she has not told me I no longer belong to her. I am protecting a chief appointed by her, whom you have unjustly deposed. I am prepared to deliver him to the great English Queen, but if the Commandant- General wants him he is here, and he must come and take him.”
It became clear that Chief Nybela had no intention of handing over Mampoor, so shooting started, but no real fighting, only little outpost skirmishes. The Commandant knew that a frontal attack would be hopeless, and as a wise man did not wish to give that fact away. He hoped that waiting for the great attack might unnerve Nybela, and cause him to hand over Mampoor. This waiting game lasted for about two months. The war had become a stalemate, and the burghers, although not keen on fighting. became restless and dissatisfied. In the meantime we were taking up positions on commanding ridges, getting nearer to the native stronghold. The system was to occupy a position at night, and erect a wall about six feel high with loopholes. Small sangers were put up at other commanding positions to hold the enemy back until the tort was finished during the following day. By the next night the stone fort was finished with loopholes, and a zigzag entrance ; usually about twenty men from our commando were told off to man the fort. We had nothing to cover us, as tents were out of the question. The first thing we did was to make grass shelters, out of cut sticks, and put them into the cracks in the stone wall, supported at the other end by a forked stick, sloping away from the stone wall.
I marvel when I hear men wishing to go back to the Republican days. I had my fill of it in that expedition, or war. We did not get a sixpence in pay. All done for the love of this freedom of a Republic, under which you were treated like a tramp, got no pay, and made to go to war whether you liked it or not. This freedom of a Republic ! Ye Gods ! ”
The first night after a new fort was built the natives usually crept up under cover of the stones as near as possible, and as the forts were usually on the crest of a rocky ridge the natives could get within thirty yards. On these occasions we always had a double guard, four men at the entrance, and four men in each buttress at the opposite corners of the fort. The rest of us lay down under each loophole.
The natives were very cute. They would creep up and all be ready, then one would fire a shot at the loophole, while the others would hold their fire a little to give us time to get to the loopholes and look through. All of them would then fire at the loopholes. In this way they did get a few men. Later we did not look through the loopholes; we stood on one side, put the rifle through, guessing the right elevation, hating noted it in the day, and pulled off. I had my rifle hit twice in a loophole.
The natives never stormed a fort the same as the Zulus would have done. If they had done that, pushed forward and scrambled over the rough stone wall, which was easy, they would have taken the forts. It was clearly a war of no chances on both sides. The Boers used to say they had just come through the 1880 war, and they were not going to be shot by a nigger if they could help it. They could see there was no loot or gain at the end of it.
My brother and I with others manned a stone fort overlooking an isolated stronghold, with some caves called Fluchkraal. Manning these forts was a deadly dull affair, nothing to do all day, and little shelter from the burning summer sun ; thunderstorms at night making everything sopping wet and the fort like a cattle byre. At this native stad or stronghold there, was very little grazing, so no cattle, only goats, could graze amongst the stones. As the grazing became worse, the goats went further afield, and became more difficult for the native to herd and control. My brother and I devised a plan to take two bottles, with water, and go at night and hide in some rock close up under the stronghold, wait for the goats to come out and then capture them. It was very slow waiting, so my brother suggested that we should creep nearer to the stronghold to see what we could, also to get round the goats earlier. As we were able to creep from stone to stone under cover, we did, and got too near to the natives for my liking. We could hear them talking. By now the goats were at the back of us, and we could drive them off at any time, but my brother said he would not go until he could get a shot at a nigger, as they were bound to come out to turn back the goats. I did not like the idea at all, so I said to him, “ I will tell you what we will do. I will go and drive off the goats, and when the natives see me and go for me you can have your shots. Then bolt after me and I will cover your retreat”
Out mates of course knew we were there, and were ready to cover our retreat by long distance range firing. We did this. The natives gave a yell when they saw me driving off the goats, and my brother had all the shooting he wanted, armed with a Martini Hendry rifle. He must have done some execution, as the natives fell back. He then bolted under cover from rock to rock while I fired at the natives until he joined me. Both of us then opened fire on the natives and kept them back. I again drove the goats into the open, where the natives could not follow us, and where they would get the cross-fire of our mates. My brother again made a bolt, as he could not stay long for fear of the natives creeping up to him under cover.
We captured fifty-three goats, and sold them for two shillings and sixpence each to a burgher who was going home on leave. We captured three lots of goats, more or less, in this way, selling them for pocket-money.
At this time my brother was twenty years old, and I was eighteen. This was the last stone fort that my brother manned, as the laager Commandant found out that my brother was a very good bugler, and could blow all the calls, and so he was made bugler to the Commandant- General of the laager. From that day my brother had a pucka job, and more or less did as he liked as long as he blew all the calls. I may mention that my brother was six feet two inches in his stockings, and the strongest man I knew at that age. There was not a single man who could touch him at feats of strength—a real young giant, and as reckless as you could make them.
About that time the Commandant-General, Piet Joubert, got into communication with Mr. A. H. Nellmapuis of the Dynamite Factory with a view to blowing up the caves with dynamite. Nellmapuis arrived with a couple of wagon-loads of dynamite. He was allowed to pick his men. He picked mostly English fellows, as he thought they would know more about explosives. They were Ware of Natal, Grundy of Natal, William Schultz of Utrecht, I. B. Buchanan of Ermelo, my brother and myself, and six others, whom I have forgotten. My brother took it on because it was mostly day work, and did not interfere with early and late calls in the camp.
The first place to blow up was Fluchkraal. On a given day the commandos made an early night march, leaving at two o’clock in the morning, taking up positions as near as possible to the cave. We came on with a wagon laden with dynamite. I could never have believed that a waggon could travel over such boulders. We had two teams of oxen on the wagon, and the boulders if had to bump over were terrific. I really expected the dynamite to go off and blow us sky high. We were walking at the side of the wagon with three native boys driving the teams. When we reached the top of the mountain we found that the burghers had been firing on the entrance to the main cave, which had to be, correctly speaking, “ blown-in”.
The cave was indicated to Nellmapuis, and while the burghers were firing at it to keep the native fire down he ordered each of us to take a box of dynamite and follow him. We did not quite like the job, as if a bullet hit a case of dynamite it would explode, and as we were not far apart we thought that we would all go up like so many squibs.
Nellmapuis was an elderly man, and we thought the poor old devil would go up also, so we followed him round, so as not to be in the direct rifle-fire on the cave. We reached the cave on the top of the entrance, where he made us open all the eases and pour out the dynamite in a heap on the top of the entrance, cover it up with earth, then pack a huge amount of big stones on it. In the centre of the dynamite was a charge with a cap in it, attached to an electric wire (really two wires). These wires we carried, or laid, up to where the General was, about four hundred yards away. Our danger was not so much the native fire, but the firing from our own people. When we had completed laying the charge we left, running out the electric wires with us. We had fifteen boxes of dynamite in the charge. While laying it, two of the men were hit—Ware and Grundy from Durban. We carried them out, but they both died. The wounds were so big that there was no mistake about their being native bullets, and not from our men.
When we arrived back where the General was, Nellmapuis fixed the two wires into the battery and explained to the General that he had to pull up the handle, then push it down again and the charge would go off. We were all standing around. The General pulled up the handle and pushed it down again. We expected to see the cave blown sky high, but nothing happened ; so the General tried again, with the same result. He then pulled a loose wire and again worked the handle, but nothing happened .We then noticed that one wire was longer than the other .We said to Nellmapuis, “ Of course it won’t go off. How can you expect the electricity to travel along that long wire as soon as the short wire. Cut it off and make it the same length. Nellmapuis did it with a bad grace, saying it would make no difference. The General said, “ Well where is the mistake ? " Jack Buchanan said to Nellmapuis that he thought the wire had been shot off near the mine. He and three of us were ordered to go and see. They again fired briskly on the cave, and we ran down, and sure enough the wire was shot off just at the base of the mound. We spliced it, and got away again. When we got back the General again worked the handle of the battery, and the mine went off with a terrific explosion. A huge column of red dust went straight up for two or three hundred feet, and came curling down on the outside like a huge plume, with stones shooting out of it like fireworks. We were all standing looking at the wonderful sight, little realizing that the stones had to come down again on our heads. First small stones began to drop all round us, then bigger stones, until stones weighing over one hundred pounds started dropping round. A general stampede took place, including the General, when a big stone weighing about one hundred pounds buried itself, within a yard of the battery.
Jack Buchanan said to us, “Don’t run, you fellows, but look up and dodge the stones,” which we did, looking up into the heavens like a fielder on a cricket field, looking for stones we did not wish to catch. It was fortunate that no one was killed, although some got very nasty smacks.
When the showers of stones were over, we all rushed to see what damage had been done to the cave. I was the first to reach the entrance. I was sure all the natives were killed by the shock. I found a dead native right at the entrance, and went further in to see if I could find any Korasses ; but it was too dark to see, so I turned back, and found the dead native had been shot in the head. Field-cornet van Aardt came in and said, Have you found any Korasses ? ” I said, “ No, but it is too black in there,I do not like it.” He passed me and went further in. Just then I heard the loud report of a gun, and van Aardt came tumbling out, his face covered with blood. I fired into the cave, and jumped out to one side to be out of the line of fire. A native had fired at van Aardt, just missing him, and the splinter of the bullet and stone caught him full in the face. My idea was that the natives had not quite got over their shock when I went in, and were perhaps waiting for me to get nearer when I turned back. When van Aardt went in they were too anxious, thinking he would also turn back, so in their hurry they missed him. We kept away from the mouth of the cave. Nellmapuis decided that the rock was too thick and hard for the dynamite to do any harm without drilling holes, so did not set another charge. There seemed to be general depression in the laager when the dynamite failed, as we all thought that smashing the mouths of the caves in would cause the natives to surrender.
It did do some good, as a week later we found that all the natives had deserted Fluchkraal by night, and bad gone over to the Hoofstad, Nybela’s stronghold. That relieved a number of men who had been holding stone forts round it.
Just in front of the main stad there was a sharp pointed kopje. It was fortified with stone walls from bottom to top, and was the key to the position. The Hoofstad, as it was called, could not be stormed or taken while this kopje was held by the natives.
General Joubert could see that the campaign would drag on a long time, as a frontal attack would be too costly, and the men would become very dissatisfied, so he, in conjunction with Nellmapuis, devised a plan to blow up the Spitz Kop, as it was called. The plan was to start a deep trench beyond the range of the native guns or rifles, placing poles close together across the top of the trench, and throwing the earth from the face of the trench on to the top of the poles, thereby forming a long tunnel to the foot of the Spitz Kop ; at the base of the kop to tunnel into the centre of the kop, where the mine would be laid to blow it up. Some of us thought the idea possible, but most impracticable.
In front of the trench when digging we had three great sheets of steel, one across the front and one on each side, fixed on a frame with small wheels. The native bullets could not penetrate the steel sheets, so the guard sat behind this steel screen. They pushed it before them while the trench was being dug, and it became stationary as soon as we reached the point where the tunnel started. When the trench tunnel was completed it was about half a mile long. Every now and again an opening was left at the top to let in the light and air. It was a very uncomfortable business walking backwards and forwards through this tunnel to guard the steel, or what was called the “ Iron Fort “.When we reached the foot of the Spitz Kop we were well in the range of the native rifles. They used to creep down to the nearest rocks to the iron fort and shout, “ Look out, Bass ! “ and fire at the fort. The bullets hit the fort with a great smack. This went on for months, and became extremely monotonous.
One night my brother and I with about twenty others were guarding the iron fort, when my brother said, “ It is a jolly cold night, and I do not see the native fires as usual : they are either all asleep, or are not on the kop tonight. I am sure if we rushed up we could take it as soon as it is light enough in the morning, so it was agreed we would not go when relieved, but wait until daybreak, and make a rush for the kop. My brother said he would be the first one to leave the fort and make for the first stone (sanger). As soon as it was light enough he started off, the rest of us following. We climbed up the kop from sanger to sanger with no opposition until we reached about forty yards from the top, where we found a narrow passage, with a stone wall on each side leading io the top. It meant certain death to the leading man if the natives woke and discovered us. My brother and I had taken risk after risk in leading up to that point, so I said to him, “ Do not let us go first again, unless the others are with us.” While we were hesitating the natives woke, and, becoming aware of us, started shooting and yelling at the top of their voices. In a very short time they were reinforced by hundreds of natives from the Hoofstad.
The news reached General Joubert that William Scholtz, Mr. Forbes, and others were storming the Spitz Kop, and that firing could be heard. He ordered all available men to come to our assistance, but by that time it was impossible to capture the kop without severe loss of men, as in the meantime we had been forced to give ground again. The reinforcement had rather a nervy time, as they had to pass over an open space before reaching the rocks at the foot of the kop. But our fire on the natives kept their shooting down, and very little harm was done. We had to hold the foot of the Spitz Kop until late, when we all withdrew with a great scramble to see who would get away first. We had had very little discipline all day, we had been sitting behind rocks drinking coffee which our native servant made for us, and letting a rifle off up the kop now and again to keep the pot boiling. I remember the Commandant coming to some of us and saying, “ Storm men, go further up the kop.” Someone replied, “ Storm away, Commandant, we will follow you ! ” but no one moved.
That day two of our number were killed, and both were very fine men : Kirk, a Scotchman, and a Frenchman whose name I do not remember. The latter took on a self-imposed task of building a stone wall round the burying ground ; and, extraordinary to relate, he was the first man to be buried in it after he had finished it.
I should have mentioned that in our laager there was a Scotchman called Donald, a McDonald. He was there as a substitute for a farmer, or rather burgher, who did not wish to serve personally. Donald was a very fine athlete. He could run, jump, and box better than anyone in the laager, and was a very reckless man in every way, full of adventure. One day he had a row with one of the burghers, and it came to a fight, but the trained boxer gave the burgher a very bad time, and the fight was stopped. Donald told Buchanan he did not wish to remain in the laager, and he was going to quit. Buchanan did not think much of it. One day, when Donald was on a patrol which was in full view of the Hoofstad, his horse took lame, and he lagged behind ; however, the burghers' took no notice. When Donald was satisfied the distance between him and the patrol was far enough to give him a sporting chance of getting out of range in a short time he suddenly turned his horse and rode for dear life, straight towards the Hoofstad, in full view of the enemy. It took the patrol a little time to realize what was happening, but when they did they started firing at him, which was what he wanted, for it showed the natives he was really deserting at the risk of his life. He had only lamed his horse with a tack, which in no way prevented it from galloping.
The natives received him and treated him well, as one of the sons of a chief had been working for him at Kimberley, and vouched for him that he was an Englishman and his boss. At the fight on Spitz Kop my brother saw Donald looking over a sanger above us. He said, “ There is that fellow, Donald. I will have a shot at him, dirty fellow,” but he did not hit him. We were all close up against the sanger walls and stones, so it was difficult to shoot at us from above. Donald put the natives up to throwing stones high into the air, so that they came down almost vertically onto us. We received a shower of hundreds of stones, some of us getting very bad blows on the head and body. Kirk was struck with one which knocked him down, and must have brought him into the line of fire, as he got a bullet through the chest which killed him on the spot. I am sorry to say Kirk’s body was not recovered. He was killed away from us.
The story was that Donald joined the natives with the idea of getting from the chief Nybela a parcel of diamonds, for which he was to smuggle in powder and shot. Strange to say, he turned up at my father’s camp in Swaziland, where he was prospecting for gold, and told my father he had met us in the Boer laager, but did not relate the circumstances.
After the failure to take the Spitz Kop things dragged on with very little doing except digging the tunnel under the kop. One day the natives livened us up a bit. I may mention that on every Sunday morning the whole laager had church service in their tents, which lasted for about two hours. The enemy found it out, and made a plan to take advantage of it on the following Sunday. The plan was that about two hundred of them should come out at night, and lie in ones and twos all over the veldt, in the long grass and dongas near, where the cattle were grazing. There were many hundreds of oxen and horses, and the herd boys did not keep very near to them. There were also a large number of cattle herds which had come from all parts of the country with the different commandos, who did not know one another, so not much notice was taken of a few natives lying in the grass.
At about eleven o’clock, when the church service was in full swing, the enemy suddenly revealed themselves to the cattle herd boys, who all fled in terror. They did not shoot at the herd boys, as that would have given the alarm too quickly, but simply gathered all the horses and cattle, and stampeded them at a gallop towards the Hoofstad. We were alarmed at the yelling of the herd boys, and we saw all the stock being stampeded to the Hoofstad. A large cannon had been borrowed from the Free State Government, and had arrived in the laager a few days before. This cannon was reputed to be able to do wonders and could bring down the whole mountain if necessary. Orders were called for volunteers to take the big gun out for action, and run it down to a spot where it could come into action. About thirty of us manned the ropes, and dragged the big gun down to the spot indicated, about three hundred yards away and wheeled it round for the gunners to get to work. The gun was soon got into action but the shells were exploded by a time fuse, and in some way they, the fuses, would not act in the proper way. Some shells burst near the muzzle of the gun, and knocked up the dust like shot only a few hundred yards away, others did not burst at all. After firing a dozen or more shots they did nothing, and the enemy got clear away with all the stock.
When it was all over the laager Commandant called for volunteers to drag the cannon back to the laager ; but we all said, “ Nothing doing, leave it where it is, it is useless in any case.” We all walked back to the laager and left it there, and it was only brought in when the oxen from the other side of the laager that had not been captured came in. It was only the horses and cattle grazing on one side of the laager that were taken—not all the stock.
Things were going badly with the natives. They had held out the siege for about eighteen months, and their food supplies were giving out. The Mapoch people said to their Chief, “ Nybela, why keep on fighting for this man Mampoor ? He killed his brother and did wrong in that; you have done your best to protect him. Why should we all die to protect him ! Hand him over to the white men, and end the war ! “ All his chiefs and headmen said the same, so Nybela decided to act on their advice. He sent a chief as messenger under a white flag to see General Joubert and arrange peace. General Joubert said the first thing to be done was to hand over Mampoor, when they could discuss peace terms, and for this purpose there would be an armistice .An armistice was declared on both sides.
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Trooper Edward Horton Grundy, Newcastle Mounted Rifles 1 year 2 months ago #87436
I was tempted to go for this one Adrian - were it not for the fact that I have an Isandlwana survivor to the same regiment.... you're to be congratulated on its acquisition, along with his (son's) QSA and WWI pair.
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Trooper Edward Horton Grundy, Newcastle Mounted Rifles 1 year 2 months ago #87441
I look forward to reading your full write up on what must prove to be an interesting story behind the medals.
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