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Captain David Moriarity, 80th, KIA Ntombe
This photograph taken when he was in the 7th Regiment prior to his transfer to the 80th. [Mac & Shad] (Isandula Collection)
The Battle of Isandlwana: One of The Worst Defeats of The British Empire - Military History
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 Hlobane Mountain

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PostSubject: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:52 pm

View Full Version : Zulu Mountain Trap Sprung.

Colonel Henry Evelyn Wood had expected little trouble as his cavalry ascended Hlobane Mountain. What he got was a Zulu army, 22,000 men strong.

by William Watson Race and Jon Guttman

In March 1879, the Anglo-Zulu War was well into its third month, and two of the three British columns advancing into Zululand were stalled--one defeated at Isandlwana, the other surrounded and under siege at Eshowe. On March 20, Colonel Henry Evelyn Wood, commanding the only British force still capable of offensive action in Zululand, received a letter from the overall British commander, Lieutenant General Frederic Augustus Thesiger, the second Baron Chelmsford. Chelmsford wished to relieve the column at Eshowe, and he wanted Wood to demonstrate in his area to draw off some of the strength of a Zulu impi (army) that Chelmsford thought was gathering to attack Eshowe. That request gave Colonel Wood and his cavalry commander, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Redvers Buller, an excuse to carry out an operation that they had been considering ever since they established their camp at Khambula. Wood's goal was the destruction of the stronghold of the abaQulusi, a Nguni clan allied with the Zulus, located on a mountain 20 miles to the southeast, known as Hlobane (pronounced "shlo-BAH-nyeh").

At the outset of the Anglo-Zulu War, the British governor of Cape Colony and high commissioner for native affairs in South Africa, Sir Henry Edward Bartle Frere, and his military commander, General Chelmsford, had formulated their plan for the invasion of Zululand. Chelmsford knew that the country was vast, and occupation was out of the question. It would seem that the only effective way for the British forces to gain a victory would be to advance on the Zulu capital of Ulundi, attempt to capture their king, Cetshwayo, and smash any intercepting Zulu izimpi (armies) as they went. With that plan in mind, Chelmsford divided his army into five columns. The left, center and right columns would advance on Ulundi from three different directions. A fourth column could be held in reserve to protect Natal from any Zulu surprise attack. A fifth force, the 41st Regiment under Colonel Hugh Rowlands, V.C., would camp at Luneville in the Transvaal, to guard against possible intervention either by the Pedi tribe under Sekhukhune--a known ally of Cetshwayo--or by the Boers. Chelmsford would go with the center column. On January 11, 1879, Chelmsford put his plan into operation as British troops crossed the Buffalo River at Rorke's Drift and entered the land of the Zulu.

The British invasion forces were soon in deep trouble. Informed by his scouts of the three-pronged British offensive, King Cetshwayo committed some of his available amabutho (regiments) to deal with each of the British forces, but kept most of them concentrated in a single, highly mobile 20,000-man impi under the joint command of inKhosi (princes) Ntshingwayo kaMahole and Mavumengwana, with which he intended to engage each of the slow-moving enemy prongs in turn. On January 22, 1879, a sizable part of Chelmsford's central column and part of Colonel A.R.E. Durnford's No. 3 Column ran into Cetshwayo's main impi at Isandlwana and was annihilated--858 British and 471 native troops were wiped out. With his entire offensive thrown off balance, Chelmsford had to beat a hasty retreat back to Natal.

On the same day of the Isandlwana debacle, Colonel Charles Knight Pearson's No. 1 Column, working its way along the coast, repulsed a poorly coordinated attack by a Zulu impi at Nyezane. On January 28, however, Pearson learned of Isandlwana and, left to his own devices, dug in at Eshowe for what became a protracted siege.

That left only one active British force in Zululand--No. 4 Column in the northwest, commanded by Colonel Wood--and Wood, like Pearson, chose to take up a very good defensive position on the crest of a hill at Khambula. For the time being, it seemed as if the invasion had come to a halt while Lord Chelmsford gathered his thoughts. In the meantime, he transferred most of Rowlands' column to Wood's command, along with the Edendale Troop, Natal Native Horse and 1st Squadron, Mounted Infantry, from what remained of Chelmsford's center force. Then on March 20, Chelmsford made his request to Wood for a diversion, and Wood prepared to move against the abaQulusi encamped at Hlobane.

At that point, Wood was aware that the abaQulusi were not his only opponents in the area. Recently, the abaQulusi had been reinforced by a contingent of renegade amaSwazi, led by Khosa (prince) Mbelini kaMswati. Most amaSwazi were loyal to the British, but Mbelini, a pretender to the Swazi chiefdom, had broken with them and had allied himself with Cetshwayo. On March 12, Mbelini and about 800 of his followers surprised a company-sized detachment from the 80th (Staffordshire Volunteer) Regiment encamped along the Ntombe River and killed 79 men. Afterward, Mbelini withdrew, taking with him most of the supplies and ammunition he found in the British supply wagons, eventually joining the abaQulusi at Hlobane.

Even with Mbelini's irregulars, the estimated total of 1,500 warriors on Hlobane was hardly sufficient to threaten Wood's camp, but their raiding and stealing cattle near the Zulu*Natal border was a considerable nuisance and drew strength from Wood's defensive position. Wood realized that there could be no peace to the northwest of Zululand until the abaQulusi were subdued.

Wood reconnoitered the approaches to Hlobane and then worked out his plan of attack. It would not be easy--the British would have difficulty scaling the steep-sided krantzes (cliffs)--but there were two possible routes to the top. Wood thought that a dismounted cavalry force might be able to lead horses up the western slopes of Zunguin Nek, over the lower plateau, then move on to the upper plateau.

At the eastern end of the mountain lay Ityenka Nek, a high saddle of ground that gave way to steep cliffs and a high rocky terrace, notched and honeycombed with caves. There, a path twisting its way up and across the jumbled rocks was another possible route to the top.

Meanwhile, at his royal kraal (village)at Ulundi, King Cetshwayo had received a message from "the Swazi Pretender" Mbelini, boasting of his success at the Ntombe River, but at the same time urgently requesting that Zulu reinforcements be sent to Hlobane. Recognizing Wood's column as the greatest remaining British threat in his territory, Cetshwayo was willing to oblige. The warriors of his main impi had taken some time to ceremoniously cleanse themselves after "washing their spears" at Isandlwana, replacing their losses and allowing their wounded time to heal. But on March 24 they were ready to move, and Cetshwayo dispatched them to Hlobane, under the joint command of Khosa Mnyamana kaNgqengelele and the victor of Isandlwana, Ntshingwayo.

On March 26, Wood heard reports that the main impi had left Ulundi and that its probable objective was to attack his camp at Khambula. If that was indeed the case, he knew that the impi would have to take the road that led directly along the southern flank of Hlobane. If the information received was correct, Wood was about to gamble with the safety of his camp by marching on Hlobane. But preparations were made, and on March 27 Khambula was astir long before daylight, as a long column of mounted men rode out of the camp.

There were 156 men in the Frontier Light Horse (FLH), under the command of Captain Robert Barton of the Coldstream Guards. Petrus Lafrus (Piet) Uys, a Boer farmer who had lost his father and a brother to the Zulus many years earlier, commanded about 40 scouts, including two of his sons. There were 70 Transvaal Rangers and 80 Cape Colony volunteers of Bakers Horse and Lt. Col. Frederick Augustus Weatherley with the Border Horse--about 400 mounted men in all. Also accompanying the expedition were the 277 native troops of the 2nd Battalion of Wood's Irregulars--mostly local recruits from the Transvaal, supplemented by loyal Swazi warriors--under the command of Major William Knox Leet.

At midday, the British column halted for an hour's rest prior to making the next leg of their journey--up the foot of the mountain at the western end of Hlobane. Once there, the troops off-saddled near a deserted Zulu kraal, and when the sun set they gathered timber from the huts and made large fires, as though they were camping for the night. When it got dark, they saddled their horses, and then Buller rode toward the eastern end, while a second force led by Lt. Col. John Cecil Russell--comprised of the 1st Squadron, Mounted Infantry, the Kaffrarian Rifles, the Edendale Troop of the Natal Native Horse, a rocket detail of the Royal Artillery and a battalion of 200 Zulu allies (led by Cetshwayo's disaffected half-brother, Khosa Hamu kaNzibe)--rode toward the lower plateau in the west and bivouacked at the foot of the mountain for the night.

Colonel Wood had left Khambula two hours after the main column, heading toward Hlobane. He was accompanied by his personal staff, Lieutenant Henry Lyson and Captain Ronald Campbell, as well as his political agent and interpreter, Llewellyn Lloyd, along with a number of friendly mounted Zulus and eight mounted men from the 90th (Perthshire Volunteers) Light Infantry.

The next morning, Wood set out with his escort to ride the five miles along the southern foot of Hlobane, following the route taken by Buller and the FLH. He then encountered Weatherley and the Border Horse. Weatherley had lost Buller in a rainstorm that morning. His men, who were not professional soldiers, were wet and cold, and not in a good frame of mind.

Buller had, in fact, already begun ascending the mountain at 3 that morning, despite a blinding thunderstorm that hampered the cavalry's progress. Dawn revealed another unpleasant surprise: Hlobane's abaQulusi defenders had erected barricades among the boulders and caves, from which they now opened fire. Two officers of the FLH, Lieutenants Otto von Stietencron and George Williams, were cut down, as were two troopers.

Buller's column was just visible high on the trail, so Wood ordered the Border Horse to follow it up. Weatherley again lost the trail to the summit, however. Concealed behind boulders and in caves on a rocky terrace, abaQulusi riflemen began sniping at the Border Horse. As Wood's party came up, an abaQulusi took aim and, just as Wood was expressing his scorn for Zulu marksmanship, opened fire. Lloyd fell back, exclaiming, "I'm hit badly! My back is broken." While Captain Campbell and an escort were carrying the mortally wounded Lloyd down the slope, Wood's horse was killed. Wood directed Weatherley to dislodge a number of abaQulusi who were causing the most trouble, but only two of the Border Horse--Lieutenant J. Poole and Sub-Lieutenant H.W. Parminter--responded; the rest insisted that the enemy position was unassailable. Voicing his contempt for their cowardice, Campbell, his aide-de-camp, 2nd Lt. Henry Lysons, and four mounted infantrymen of the 90th charged into a cave. As they entered, Campbell was fatally shot in the head. Lysons and Private Edmund J. Fowler, following close on the captain's footsteps, shot and killed one sniper; the other escaped through a subterranean passageway.

Campbell's body was carried back down the hill. Wood had been extremely fond of Campbell and Lloyd and was stunned by their deaths. He lost all interest in the ongoing fight while he concentrated on giving his friends a proper burial. Since the abaQulusi were still sniping at them from the rocks, Wood decided to move the bodies farther down the hill. Weatherley and the Border Horse went in search of Buller's command, as Wood ordered his Zulu retainers to dig a shallow grave with their assegais. Only when he was certain that his friends could rest without their legs doubled up would he permit the bodies to be lowered into the grave and interred. Wood read the burial service over the bodies while skirmishing went on close behind him.

Seeing some 300 Zulus approaching from the east, Wood had his party ride back to the western end of Hlobane. As the commander cantered up a rise, his Zulu escort called his attention to the plain below. Wood looked...and got the shock of his life. A gigantic force of some 22,000 warriors--Cetshwayo's main impi--was at the foot of the mountain and starting to outflank the British by going into its traditional "buffalo" attack formation--two "horns" branching around the mountain, the central "chest" advancing directly up the middle and the "loins" holding back as a follow-up reserve. All Wood could do was hope that Buller, who was now at the summit, had also seen the impi's approach.

At about that time, Weatherley and the Border Horse had reached the top of the plateau. Weatherley had two sons accompanying his column, and 15-year-old Rupert, who had joined up as a sub-lieutenant, was riding at his side. Rupert had heard his father speak many times of great battles in foreign lands, and with the exuberant enthusiasm of his youth had been looking forward to his first campaign. Weatherley, however, was becoming alarmed by the situation that he saw developing. The terrain was treacherous--not good country for mounted men to be caught in by marauding bands of Zulus. But Wood had insisted that Weatherley and his men go on.

That morning had gone well for Buller on reaching the summit; his native irregulars had just rounded up a herd of cattle and were driving them in a westerly direction. A number of abaQulusi on the plateau declined to close with Buller's column, as they were not in sufficient strength. It seemed probable that Buller would have no great difficulty in joining with Russell on the lower plateau to the west, after which they could drive the captured cattle back to Khambula via the lower plain.

All went according to plan--that is, until Buller reached the edge of the upper plateau and confronted a steep drop of at least 130 feet, studded with rocks and boulders. Buller discussed the situation with Captain Edward Browne of 1st Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, who commanded a contingent of 20 mounted infantry detached from Russell's column. Browne reported that Russell had judged it impossible to ascend the steep escarpment that faced his column. As for himself, Buller reckoned that men might be able to scramble down the steep, rocky slope on foot, but to get the horses or cattle down was impossible. It seemed that they would have to turn back and take the long route down the trail that they had come across earlier that morning.

With that in mind, Buller dispatched the FLH commander, Captain Barton, and 30 troopers with instructions to descend the terrace on the southeastern trail and find and bury the men who had been killed in the earlier skirmishes there. Barton was then to locate Weatherley and tell him to make his way back to Khambula by the preceding day's route. Barton had just left on his mission when Buller saw the great impi below. Buller realized that retreat for Barton or himself in the direction of the previous day's march was now impossible; the impi was probably still about five miles away, but by the time Barton reached the eastern trail the fast-moving Zulu warriors would be upon him. Buller immediately sent a trooper after Barton to tell him to retire to the north.

Disregarding the cattle, Buller then started to look for a way down from the mountain at the western end. Until then, the abaQulusi and amaSwazi on Hlobane had not been very aggressive. But with the approach of the great impi--coincident with the arrival of reinforcements of their own from the northeast--they took heart and pressed forward in increasing numbers.

Meanwhile, Weatherley's Border Horse had reached the top of the plateau, skirmishing with the abaQulusi as they made their way upward. As the abaQulusi reinforcements arrived, Weatherley had taken his men along the northern cliffs looking for a place to descend, finding the sides of the cliffs very steep. Crossing the plateau, Weatherley encountered Barton. The Border Horse then fell in behind the FLH, and together they made their way along the plateau and started to descend along the eastern trail. Halfway down, they met the impi coming up. The lower slopes of Hlobane seemed to have turned into a seething mass of black fury.

Weatherley and Barton turned back and tried to cross Ityenka Nek, a saddle of open land between the high cliffs of Hlobane and another mountain to the west. No use: The abaQulusi, keen to recover their cattle and to wreak bloody vengeance upon the British, were swarming all around them. Dressing their line, the British charged, desperately trying to cut their way out to the north. But the abaQulusi stood fast, and the horsemen crumbled before the forest of assegais. About 20 riders did get through, among them Weatherley and Barton. A French member of Weatherley's Horse named Garnier had just hoisted a wounded comrade on his horse when a Swazi grabbed his leg and took him prisoner. Taken to Mbelini's kraal on the south side of Hlobane, Garnier eventually escaped and was recovered by Wood's troops, half-naked and starving, 18 days later. He would later write of his experience as the only European to be taken prisoner during the battle.

Weatherley had lost contact with his son Rupert and refused to leave the boy. Turning back, he found Rupert on some open ground. Weatherley dismounted, heaved the badly wounded boy up onto his horse and turned to face the onrushing abaQulusi. With his arm tightly clasped around his son, he charged into the swirling mass of plumed warriors, who cut the pair to pieces with their deadly blades.

Meanwhile, Captain Barton and 20 others had managed to make their way to the valley, only to encounter the advance party of the Zulu impi--mounted skirmishers of the umCijo ibutho (regiment)--who promptly attacked and quickly killed three-quarters of them. Breaking clear of the assailants, Barton was wounded, his horse had been speared, and he now faced a 20-mile ride back to Khambula. Other survivors stumbled away from the carnage on foot. Barton knew that these men without mounts were as good as dead. Recognizing one of his officers, he reined in his horse and picked up Lieutenant Poole of the Border Horse. Barton's heavily-laden horse stumbled along for several miles, hotly pursued on foot by a number of the seemingly indefatigable Zulu warriors. Finally, the wounded animal could struggle on no farther. The two Britishers tried to escape on foot, but Poole was overtaken and killed by Chicheeli of the umCijo ibutho. Chicheeli--who claimed to have already killed six other enemies in the fight--then caught up with Barton and, when Barton's pistol failed to fire, gestured for him to surrender, since Cetshwayo had given orders for his warriors to bring in prominent British officers alive, if possible. As Barton was about to surrender, however, another Zulu shot him. Chagrined at losing his prisoner, but wishing at least to be credited with the kill, Chicheeli finished off the mortally wounded Barton with his assegai.

As the Zulus advanced along the lower plateau, Colonel Buller and his men huddled at the top of the steep, rocky incline that henceforth would be known as Devil's Pass. Surrounded by sheer cliffs, it was the only way off the mountain. It was a case of scrambling down or being slaughtered by the Zulu hordes.

Before attempting the descent with his troopers, Buller ordered his African levies to make their way down first. They managed to do so, but during their subsequent flight from Hlobane about 100 of them were overtaken and killed by pursuing Zulus. The British cavalrymen then tried their luck on the incline, while Buller and a small rearguard, including Captain Brown's mounted infantry, did their best to hold the abaQulusi off.

A new recruit to the FLH rode up to join Brown and Buller as they peered over the cliff edge into Devil's Pass. Mounted on a Basuto pony named Warrior, he had no uniform, aside from the distinguishing strip of red cloth tied around his hat. He was 16-year-old George Mossop, who had run away from home in Greytown at the age of 14 to become a hunter in the Transvaal.

Looking down into the pass, Mossop could see that even if he and his pony could make it down the 130 feet to the ridge, they would still have to descend 700 feet more to reach the valley below--and then somehow make the 20-mile trek to Khambula.

It was a daunting proposition. Men and horses were rolling down into the pass as the abaQulusi crawled over the rocks, jabbing at the horses with their assegais. Several troopers were captured by the abaQulusi, only to be summarily hurled to their deaths from the mountainside. Mossop asked a man standing next to him, "Can we get down?" "Not a hope," the trooper replied. He then placed the muzzle of his carbine in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

Mossop gave one yell and bounded down the slope, leaving Warrior to his fate. Suddenly, an arm gripped the boy and he looked up into the enraged face of Colonel Redvers Buller. "Where is your horse?" Buller yelled. Mossop pointed back up toward the plateau. "Then go and get him," shouted Buller, "and don't leave him again." More terrified of Buller than the abaQulusi, Mossop started back up the pass for Warrior.

By now, most of the men still on the cliff top were corpses. As the abaQulusi came ever closer, Mossop scrambled down again, dragging Warrior behind him. Although the pony lost his footing and rolled down to the ridge, on inspection he seemed to be all right.

Mossop mounted once more just as the abaQulusi rushed him. Warrior bounded forward down the steep slopes that led to
the valley below. Once on the plain, Mossop came to a stream. Dismounting, he plunged his face into the cold water. Although somewhat revived, he now saw the exhausted Warrior was
in a bad way. Feeling weak himself, the boy lay down beside his faithful mount. No sooner had he done so than he was roused by the sharp cry "uSuthu!" The Zulus had seen him and were running toward him. Mossop frantically sprang onto Warrior's back once again, and somehow the injured pony managed to outpace his Zulu pursuers.

Mossop arrived safely at Khambula late in the evening. But his gallant pony died the following morning.

Back on the plateau, Buller worked desperately to save as many of his men as he could. Many of them had fought their way down the deep rocky pass, and so long as there was one man left, Buller would not flee. Time and time again he plunged into the pass to rescue more of his men, take them to the safety of the lower plateau and send them on their way to Khambula. Others were similarly snatched from certain death by Major Leet and Captain Browne.

Most of the Boers had reached the lower plains. Finally, only Piet Uys and his two sons stood with Buller as the men in the pass below managed to make their escape. Unaware that a number of abaQulusi were closing in on him, Uys' eldest son, Petrus, struggled to calm a frightened horse. Uys raced to his son's assistance and had just extricated him from the trap when another abaQulusi sprang from some rocks onto Piet Uys' horse and assegaied Uys in the back, killing him. Another Boer, Andries Rudolf, shot Piet Uys' assailant and then fled to safety, along with both of Uys' sons.

With all the men down from the pass, Buller finally made his way over the plateau on to the plains, back to Khambula. What had started as a straightforward raid against the abaQulusi that morning had turned into a bloody massacre of the British forces, thanks to the unexpected arrival of Cetshwayo's main impi.

Some of the British units had fared better than others. Colonel Russell, whom Wood had expected to provide Buller with some support, had misconstrued a dispatch from his commander and evacuated his position, descending from the lower plateau at the western end of Hlobane onto the plain, and then proceeding in a northwesterly direction to Khambula. Some of the survivors of the Hlobane debacle later regarded Russell's actions as bordering on cowardice. Russell's friendship with the Prince of Wales, however, averted any possibility of a court-martial.

Wood and his escort had made their way along the foot of the mountain, also in a westerly direction. Once clear of Hlobane, Wood scaled some high ground and remained there until dusk, watching the retreat. He then made his way back to Khambula.

British casualties on Hlobane numbered 17 officers and 82 enlisted men killed, along with some 100 irregular and native troops. One officer and seven other ranks were wounded. Of the 750 black volunteers of Wood's Irregulars, only 50 remained after the battle; of the rest, those who had not been killed had deserted. Precise Zulu statistics for the battle are unknown, but they described their own losses as "negligible."

Following the battles of Isandlwana and the Ntombe River, Hlobane was the third and last major Zulu victory of the war. Never again would they be presented with the circumstances that made their victory possible--a British force caught and trapped while on the move and in the open--on so large a scale. Indeed, the very day after Hlobane would see those same victorious amabutho slaughtered in an unwise assault against Wood's prepared defenses at Khambula.

No eyewitness account is known to have been garnered from the Zulus on Hlobane mountain itself, but an outsider's perspective was provided after the war by Mehlokazulu, a surviving veteran of the inGobamakhosi ibutho attached to the main impi: "The English force went up the mountain and did not see us; we came round the mountain. Those who were on the side of the mountain where the sun sets succeeded in getting out quickly; those who were on the side where the sun rises were driven the other way, and thrown over the krantzes. There was a row of white men thrown over the krantzes, their ammunition was done, they did not fire, and we killed them without their killing any of our men; a great many were also killed on the top, they were killed by the people on the mountain. We did not go up the mountain, but the men whom the English forces had attacked followed them up. They [the British] had beaten the abaQulusi, and succeeded in getting all the cattle of the whole neighborhood which was there, and would have taken away the whole [herd] had we not rescued them."

One of Buller's officers, Lieutenant Alfred Blaine of the FLH, would never forget the fight he survived: "The Hlobane retreat was a most awful affair. Never do I wish to see another day like it," he recalled. "We retired well, but I shall never forget the Kaffirs getting in amongst us and assegaing our poor fellows. Some of the cries for mercy from the poor fellows brought tears into our eyes. We lost over a hundred officers and men. No men ever fought more pluckily than the Zulus, they are brave men indeed."

There had been no shortage of bravery on either side. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded for extraordinary valor at Hlobane--to Browne, Buller, Fowler, Leet and Lysons--as well as five Distinguished Conduct Medals. For their role in the day's victory, the young bachelor warriors of the umCijo, inGobamakhosi and other amabutho added regimental and personal honors to those already won at Isandlwana--and with them, the eligibility to marry, if they survived the war.

Young George Mossop survived to participate in the great battle of Khambula the next day. Mossop went on to fight at the final major battle of the Zulu War, Ulundi, on July 4, 1879. After the war, he settled back into his old life, becoming a frontiersman and a big-game hunter until his death in 1930.

Today, Hlobane is an open-cast coal mine. A marker was placed on the razorback ridge at the foot of Devil's Pass to mark the spot where Piet Uys fell. Part of it still remains today. The graves of Captains Campbell and Lloyd have been preserved, and the site marked with a cross and surrounded by a stone wall. The men who died with Colonel Weatherley were later buried by Lt. Col. Sir Baker Creed Russell's column in August and September 1879. Captain Robert Barton's remains were buried by Wood in 1880; his gravesite is known to local tour guides familiar with the area. Hlobane has been known to the Zulu since 1879 as the "Stabbing Mountain."
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:00 pm

Interesting read 24th. Doe's anyone have a photo of Devils Pass. Arial would be good. And was this name given to this area due to the Battle, or was it always known as Devils Pass.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:12 pm

Littlehand as requested an arial photo.

I took this from Google-earth. I not sure if the terrain as changed much. But you can see how steep the slope was. It must have been terrifying trying to get down with hundreds of Zulu behind them. With reference to Mossop, I do believe he actually got his horse down there.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:30 pm

Here’s a painting of Trooper Mossop just before going over devils pass. It puts things into perspective especially when you look at the photo posted by Dave. But what do you do when it a matter of life and death.

Thanks for posting that photo Dave. I did not realise just how steep it was.

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:47 pm

Great Photo's. I always be interested in Trooper Mossop.

Trooper George Mossop later wrote "Some distance ahead I saw a number of horses bunched together and came to the conclusion that they were abandoned for I could not see anybody near. Pushing through them to the edge of the pass and dismounting I saw one man standing at my side looking down. I also looked down and my blood turned. The pass was steep and narrow and chocked with boulders. About 20 yards from where we stood was free of horsemen, or rather of men leading their horses, for no-one could sit a horse in such a place. Below was a complete jam. The abaQulusi were crawling over the rocks, jabbing at the men and horses. Some of the men were shooting and some used clubbed rifles and were fighting their way down."

Mossops also wrote an account of his horse Warriors last moments. But I can't recall where I read it.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:57 pm

I guest someone will know. Which Battle was it where, I think it was Buller stopped to bury an officer that had been killed, and even had a prayer said over the grave, while the battle was raging all around. It might even be this one being discussed.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:58 pm

Running the Gauntlet: Some Recollections of Adventure
George Mossop

George Mossop was born near Durban in 1862 and left home at age of 14. In January 1879, he volunteered to join the Frontier Light Horse, under the command of Colonel Redvers Buller, to fight the Zulus. The story of his Basuto pony named Warrior at the battle of Hlobane is now legendry. Trooper Mossop was present at Kambula and Ulundi. His reminiscences of the war and his life afterwards were published by Thomas & Sons Ltd in 1937.

D P & G, Military Publishers of Doncaster have re-created this rare personal account of the Anglo-Zulu war. Hardback, with a Zulu shield and crossed spears in gold embossed on the cover, 314pp.

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:03 pm

Hi sas1

Yes it was Hlobane

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:06 pm

Extract from Zulu Mountain Trap Sprung. By William Watson Race and Jon Guttman. Posted by 24th.

This extract just goe's to show what a man will do when his options run out. Thank god Mossop was stronger. But then again, its takes a lot of guts to do what that man did.

It was a daunting proposition. Men and horses were rolling down into the pass as the abaQulusi crawled over the rocks, jabbing at the horses with their assegais. Several troopers were captured by the abaQulusi, only to be summarily hurled to their deaths from the mountainside. Mossop asked a man standing next to him, "Can we get down?" "Not a hope," the trooper replied. He then placed the muzzle of his carbine in his mouth and pulled the trigger.


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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:11 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:13 pm

Nice one Graves. The problem is we discuss so much, I forget what has been discussed. Should be back it the UK soon, problems prevented us leaving.

Looking at the last photo posted. Doe's anyone know which route the British took, to get up the mountain.

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:21 pm

It’s very refreshing to see other Battles of the Zulu War being discussed. Ken Gillings should be pleased. His knowledge on the forgotten Battles is vast.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:34 pm

Thanks Saul. Please feel free to join in.

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:58 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:04 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:07 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:25 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:52 pm

Horror at the Devil’s Pass
The Battle of Hlobane, 28th March, 1879
John Young.

To good not to post.


By Wednesday, 22nd January 1879 the plans for the British invasion of Zululand lay in ruins on the blood-soaked battlefield of Isandlwana. It had been the strategy of Lieutenant-General Lord Chelmsford to assault the Zulu capital of Ulundi in a three-pronged attack carried out by No.’s 1, 3 and 4 Columns, supported by the reserve Columns No.’s 2 and 5, and destroy the power of King Cetshwayo kaMpande in one pitched battle. Scarcely eleven days after the commencement of the invasion, elements of No.’s 2 and 3 Columns were outmanoeuvred and massacred at Isandlwana - over one thousand, three hundred British and Colonial corpses littered the field. A like number of Zulus gave their lives in defence of their homeland.

On the same day, No.3 Column under the command of Colonel Charles Knight Pearson, of the 3rd (East Kent) Regiment of Foot, “The Buffs”, defeated a Zulu impi at the battle of Nyezane on the Indian Ocean coast of Zululand. Pearson advanced to his first objective, the abandoned mission station at Eshowe, which he fortified. On 28th January, Pearson received Chelmsford’s despatch concerning the Isandlwana massacre. Pearson’s instructions were to act on his own ingenuity, and, following an officers’ conference, it was decided to defend Eshowe against whatever forces the Zulu might pit against them - and thus began the siege of Eshowe.
With two columns effectively destroyed and another besieged, Chelmsford looked to the only intact forces at his disposal - No.4 Column, under the command of Brevet Colonel Henry Evelyn Wood, V.C., of the 90th (Perthshire Volunteers) Light Infantry and No.5 Column, commanded by Colonel Hugh Rowlands, V.C., formerly of the 34th (Cumberlandshire) Regiment of Foot. Chelmsford directed that most of Rowland’s command be absorbed into No. 4 Column. Wood's command was further reinforced by the arrival of the Edendale Troop of the Natal Native Horse and the 1st Squadron, Mounted Infantry, transferred from the shattered remains of No.’s 2 and 3 Columns respectively.
Wood’s Column became a thorn in the side of the Zulu forces in northwest Zululand, operating from its encampment of Khambula, making effective raids into enemy territory.

The forces, which ranged against Wood, were a mixed band comprising Zulu; abaQulusi (a subjected indigenous people who had sworn allegiance to King Cetshwayo.); and disaffected amaSwazi, the followers of Prince Mbilini waMswati, “The Swazi Pretender,” who had in turn pledged their fidelity to King Cetshwayo. This hotchpotch banded together still presented a force to be reckoned with and, once organised, they commenced counter-raiding, striking terror into the civilian population - black and white - along the Zulu/Transvaal border.
Prince Mbilini’s greatest success in the region was the attack on 12th March 1879, on the encamped wagon convoy under the escort of Captain David Moriarty and a company-strength detachment of the 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) Regiment of Foot, on the Ntombe River. Moriarty and sixty of his men perished along with a civilian surgeon, three European wagon conductors and fourteen African voorloopers. Mbilini pillaged the convoy's supplies, and made off prior to the arrival of British reinforcements. Mbilini proudly boasted of his victory to King Cetshwayo, who he also begged for reinforcements from Ulundi, to supplement his own forces.

Lord Chelmsford desperately needed a victory to silence his armchair critics in Britain. Reinforcements arrived in the wake of the Isandlwana reverse, and with these troops he turned his attention to the relief of Pearson's besieged column at Eshowe. To coincide with this relief operation Chelmsford ordered Wood to create a diversion in his theatre of operations on 28th March, in the hope that it would draw off some of the Zulu forces besieging Eshowe.
Wood decided on an assault on the enemy stronghold on the Plateau of Hlobane Mountain. In the meantime, on 24th March, King Cetshwayo, recognising that Wood had proved to be a greater adversary than any other British field-commander, answered Mbilini's pleas and despatched the main Zulu army under the command of Mnyamana kaNgqengelele, with Ntshingwayo kaMahole - the victor of Isandlwana - as his field-commander.

Wood devised a pincher assault on Hlobane. From the east this would be under the command of Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Redvers Henry Buller, of the 60th Rifles (King’s Royal Rifle Corps), and that from the west would be under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel (local rank) John Cecil Russell, 12th (The Prince of Wales’s Royal) Lancers.

At about 9 a.m. on Thursday, 27th March, Buller’s force, which was composed of a Royal Artillery rocket party, some four hundred irregular cavalrymen drawn from the following units: the Burgher Force; the Frontier Light Horse; the Transvaal Rangers; the Border Lancers and Baker’s Horse. Also accompanying the eastern assault force were 277 officers and men of the 2nd. Battalion of Wood’s Irregulars, an African levy officered by white officers. Russell's party left some three hours later, it comprised of another rocket party, the 1st Squadron, Mounted Infantry, numbering just over eighty men, the Edendale Troop of the Natal Native Horse - which had acquitted itself so well at the debacle at Isandlwana - of some seventy men. The Kaffrarian Vanguard - forty officers and men. The 1st Battalion of Wood’s Irregulars, numbering some 240 officers and other ranks. Also accompanying this force were some 200 disaffected Zulus, the adherents of King Cetshwayo's step-brother, Prince Hamu kaNzibe. Wood left Khambula with a small personal staff and escort, which included Prince Mthonga kaMpande, a younger brother of King Cetshwayo, who had sought refuge in the British Colony of Natal in 1865 fearing that his own brother might order his death; now was the chance for him to repay the British for their hospitality.

The two attacking parties made their way unchallenged towards their respective objectives, and bivouacked. Fires on Hlobane betrayed the enemy’s position. Wood received intelligence that the main Zulu army were heading in his direction from the Royal ikhanda at Ulundi, and he duly placed scouts to watch the possible approaches.
Before resting that night, Wood held lengthy discussions with two men who knew the objective well; Petrus Lafrus Uys, the veteran Boer commando leader who now commanded the Burgher Force, and Captain Charles Potter, of the 2nd. Battalion of Wood's Irregulars, who had traded in the region before the war. Their discussions concluded, Uys spoke prophetically to Wood, “...if you are killed I will take care of your children, and if I am killed you do the same for mine.” Buller too was fearful; fearful of discovery and moved his force twice to avoid being found by Zulu scouts. At 3 a.m. on Friday, 28th March, Buller's force commenced their ascent of the difficult slope. To add to their problems a heavy storm broke over them. Flashes of lightning illuminated the ascending force; the rain turned their route into a sodden path, hindering the climb. The storm abated as quickly as it had started and the clambering troops picked their way up through the boulder-strewn track.

Dawn broke and a new horror became apparent. The Zulu were behind prepared barricades and concealed within caves that riddled the mountain, awaiting the assault. From behind their positions, the Zulus opened fire on the scaling troops. Two officers of the Frontier Light Horse, Lieutenants Otto von Stietencron and George Williams, fell dead, two troopers also fell to the fire.

Wood and his escort rode to the sound of the firing. Just below the summit of the mountain plateau they chanced upon Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Augustus Weatherley and his Border Lancers. Weatherley’s unit should have been with Buller, but during the storm they had become separated and now lagged behind. Wood spied a Zulu rifleman level his gun in his direction and he expressed his contempt of the Zulu marksmanship. The Zulu fired, and his bullet found its mark, shattering the spine of Mr. Llewelyn Lloyd, Wood's Political Assistant and his interpreter, who was at Wood's side. Wood attempted to lift the mortally wounded man, but stumbled under the weight. Captain the Honourable Ronald Campbell, Coldstream Guards, Wood’s chief staff officer, came to his aid and carried the dying Lloyd out of the line of fire. Again a Zulu fired at Wood, killing his led mount. The horse fell against Wood, and caused him to stumble.

A gasp went up from his men, fearing their commander wounded. Wood shouted a reassurance that he was not hit, and picking himself up, he made his way downhill to the troops’ position. Angered at being pinned-down, Wood ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Weatherley to assault the position from where the fire was coming. Weatherley in turn, addressed his men, ordering them forward, but only Lieutenant J. Pool and Sub-Lieutenant H.W. Parminter responded to the command. The remainder of the Border Horse refused to assault the position, saying that it was unassailable. Captain Campbell was horrified; this was tantamount to mutiny - if not cowardice.

Campbell was of ennobled birth, the son of the 2nd Earl Cawdor. Such behaviour was unheard of within the class to which he belonged. Uttering his contempt of the fainthearted volunteers, he sprang forward towards the foe, supported by Second-Lieutenant Henry Lysons, 90th Light Infantry and four mounted infantrymen of Wood's personal escort, also drawn from the 90th. The small party advanced in a determined manner, clambering over boulders and through crevices, which led to the Zulu position. The path was so narrow that the advance could only be made in single file. Campbell gained the mouth of the cave first, only to be shot in the head at point-blank. Undeterred, Lysons and Private Edmund Fowler carried the position, forcing the Zulus to withdraw into a series of subterranean passages and, with Lysons and Fowler in pursuit, they killed all those who offered resistance, and put the others to flight.

With Lysons covering the cave mouth, Campbell's body was brought down and placed alongside Lloyd, who had succumbed to his wound. Fearful of the bodies being mutilated, Wood decided to bury them on the field. Being the son of a clergyman, he wished to conduct a proper burial service, only to realise that his service book was still in the wallets of his saddle on his dead mount. He ordered his bugler, Alexander Walkinshaw, to recover the prayer book. Walkinshaw, whom Wood described as “one of the bravest men in the Army,” calmly strode up, under heavy fire and recovered not only the prayer book but also the entire saddle.

Wood had the two bodies removed some three hundred yards downhill, to where the soil was less rocky and the Zulus of Wood’s escort dug the grave with their spears, under the watchful eye of Prince Mthonga. Their task completed, Wood committed the two bodies to the ground, reading an abridged version of the burial service from a prayer book which belonged to Captain Campbell’s wife, who was the daughter of the Bishop of Rochester, Kent.

Buller’s force was, in the meantime, quelling any resistance being offered and commenced sweeping along the plateau, capturing cattle as booty. Weatherley’s Border Lancers found their courage, perhaps encouraged by the deeds of a few, and recommenced their ascent.
On the plateau, Buller met with Captain (local rank) Edward Browne, of the 1st Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, who had with him some twenty men of the mounted infantry from Russell’s party. They had scaled the rugged path connecting the Ntendeka and Hlobane. Browne informed Buller that Russell had concluded that it was impossible to ascend the steep escarpment with his entire command. On hearing this intelligence, Buller ordered Captain Robert Barton, Coldstream Guards, commanding the Frontier Light Horse, to take some thirty men of the corps to bury the bodies of their earlier fallen comrades. Barton was also charged with the task of locating the whereabouts of Weatherley and his men. Minutes after Barton’s departure Buller stared aghast at the sight that confronted him on the plain below Hlobane. Approaching from the south-east was a Zulu impi numbering in the region of 20,000 men.

Wood’s attention had been drawn to the advancing impi by the frantic shouts of his Zulu escort. Lloyd had been the only Zulu linguist in Wood’s party and he was dead, but there was no need of an interpreter to convey their urgent words of warning.

Buller despatched a note to Barton ‘return by the right of the mountain’, a message which he had hoped would convey to Barton that he should withdraw in the direction of Khambula. Barton had by now located Weatherley, who fell in with Barton. The message reached Barton but sadly, it was misconstrued, and Barton unwittingly led the pitifully small force straight into the path of the Zulu impi. The mounted volunteers were swallowed up by the Zulu host, and swiftly overwhelmed. Weatherley died apparently hand-in-hand with his fifteen-year old son, who had joined his father’s corps as a sub-lieutenant. Only a handful evaded the slaughter. Captain Barton saw Lieutenant Pool had been unhorsed and rode to his rescue. Taking him upon his mount he fought his way clear of the melee, pursued by a number of Zulus. For some seven miles, Barton managed to outdistance the warriors, but his horse floundered under the weight of the two men and the Zulus closed in on their prey and killed the two officers.

In a handwritten report Buller blamed himself for the tragic loss of sustained as a consequence of his misinterpreted dispatch; however, another hand (Wood’s?) has struck out this self-accusation, censoring the transcript which admits to error.
The Zulu defenders on the summit, seeing that reinforcements were at hand, renewed their harassment of Buller’s force. Abandoning the livestock the force had taken as a prize, Buller ordered his African levies to descend first. The levies gingerly scrambled down through the boulders and took to their heels. Some one hundred of the levies were outpaced by the fleet-footed young Zulu warriors and perished. The mounted men found the descent less easy; slowly they picked their path down the steep slope, leading their horses, threatened on all sides by Zulus. This pass between the two mountains would acquire a name, which reflects the horror of the descent - The Devil’s Pass.
Buller had expected to have received some support from Russell and his western party, but due to another misconstrued dispatch (this one from Wood) Russell had evacuated his position. The only assistance that Buller's men received came from Browne and his small body of mounted infantry.

In the turmoil of the retreat, Buller banded together a staunch rearguard, and contested the overwhelming Zulu numbers, which permitted the escape of a great number of his men. Soon the weight of the numbers of Zulu pressing the rearguard forced Buller to abandon his position, and fight gave way to flight. The Zulus captured men, hurling them to their deaths off of the mountain. Others rather than share this fate turned their own weapons on themselves. In the chaos several men lost their mounts. Buller rode back time and again and snatched men from the very jaws of death. His fearless example was followed by Browne, and by Major William Knox Leet, of the 1st Battalion, 13th (Prince Albert’s Own Somersetshire) Light Infantry.
Commandant Uys, who had earlier implored Wood to take care of his children, turned and saw one of his sons surrounded by Zulus. He rode back in the mass of warriors and extricated his son from his predicament, only to be speared in the back by a Zulu who leapt onto his horse before he could make good his own escape.

With further resistance futile, the British and Colonial forces abandoned the field, it was about 12 noon. Seventeen officers and eighty-two white troops were dead, as were some one hundred African levies. Of the Zulu, there is no accurate number of losses known. Four Victoria Crosses were eventually awarded for the action at Hlobane. The recipients were Buller, Leet, Lysons and Fowler. Five Distinguished Conduct Medals were also awarded, including one to Wood’s redoubtable Bugler Walkinshaw.
As a postscript to honours and medals awarded for Hlobane, there was at least one other officer recommended for the Victoria Cross, who is worthy of mention; Veterinary Surgeon 1st Class Francis Duck, of the Army Veterinary Corps. Duck was recommended for the Victoria Cross by Buller for his gallantry in action during the retreat towards the Devil’s Pass when he took a dead man’s rifle he volunteered his services with the rearguard and rendered excellent service at a most critical moment, only to have his name struck out by the Commander-in-Chief on the grounds ‘…that he had no right to be there.’
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:10 pm

For future refrence. This is to the members of the Anglo Zulu War Historical Society from Dr Adrian Greaves. not this forum.

Letters of Lt Ronald Campbell - killed on Hlobane mountain.

As members may know, Lt. Campbell was Col. Wood's staff officer when he was killed on Hlobane. Much has been written about Campbell's death and burial, which was supervised by Col. Wood even though the burial party was under Zulu sniper fire.

Mrs Campbell visited the scene a year later accompanied by Empress Eugenie.

Not much is known about Lt Campbell's short time with Col. Wood but his personal diary, which covers the period from his arrival in Zululand until his tragic death, has just been discovered and the Society is now in the process of transcribing the details.

These will be published in the June 2010 Journal. The diary's details will shortly be available to any Society member wishing to research Campbell.

Dr Adrian Greaves
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PostSubject: hlobane- Tpr Mossop.   Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:24 am

hi all.
I have Mossop"s book and it is a good read , occasionally it pops up on ebay.
Just a couple of points , the man who stood next to Mossop and shot himself was indeed a good friend
of his , he wont mention his name as he didnt want to upset family members . The following is from Mossop"s
book. He said when he removed the saddle at one stage on the way back from HLOBANE , the broken iron from the saddle had made a hole in Warrior"s withers , so he cut part of his shirt made it into a wad and placed it over the wound - replaced the saddle
Then walking leading the horse , and when my knees were firm went into a jog trot for a couple of miles , then gave the horse a turn.
and so we went , taking it turn about and arrived at camp that evening. The following is Mossops own words ..... " Such is youth !.
I awoke in the morning stiff and bruised , with a black eye and numerous bumps on my head , but otherwise quite well, and the stiffness soon wore off . The first thing I did was to run to the horse lines to see Warrior . I found him lying down , and thought he was dead , but he was alive , although very far gone . I lifted his head on my knee . He knew me at once , and gave a pitiful
whinny , shuddered twice , and died . I laid his head down , and , taking one of his small silken ears in my hand , caressed it gently , with such a big lump in my throat that , had I not jumped up and run away , Iwould have blubbered right there in front of the horse
guard . Only a little Basuto pony , but he had a great heart , and , he loved me ".

Also in reference to Barton and Poole"s graves ....NO ONE knows where they are located , many have tried to find them
but all to no avail. Some who have tried I think , are the noted sth african zulu historians , LOCK and QUANTRILL and Im
sure many others have tried .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:09 am

Here's an interesting account.

A trooper, a Frenchman named Grandier, had a very remarkable escape from Indhlobane, of which the follow-ing is his account :

On coming down the mountain we were met by a large Zulu force, and fell back across the neck assailed on all sides. I was about the last, having put a comrade on my horse whilst I ran alongside, when a Kafir caught me by the legs, and I was made prisoner. I was taken to Umbilini's kraal and questioned ; after which, I passed the night tied to a tree. Next day I was taken into the middle of a large "impi," where I was threatened with death, but the leader said he would send me to Cetywayo. Next day I started for Ulundi, in charge of four men, who were riding, but I had all my clothes taken from me, and had to walk, carrying their food. On the evening of the fourth day we reached Ulundi, and I was kept tied in the open till about noon next day, when Cetywayo sent for me, and questioned me about what the English wanted, where Shepstone was, etc. A Dutchman acted as interpreter, and I saw a Portuguese, and an English-speaking Zulu, who could read.* Cetywayo had a personal guard of about one hundred men, but I did not see any large numbers of men at his kraal, but there were two small cannons there. During my stay I was fed on mealies, and frequently beaten. At last messengers arrived reporting the death of Umbilini, and Cetywayo said he would send me to his Kafirs to kill. On 13th April I started in charge of two Kafirs, one armed with a gun and both with assegais. About midday we were lying down, the Kafirs being sleepy, when I seized an assegai and killed the man with the gun, the other running away. I walked all night guided by the stars ; next day I saw an impi driving cattle towards Ulundi, so had to lie still. After this I saw no Kafirs, and walked on at night. On the morning of the 16th I met some of our own people and was brought into camp. Trooper Grandier, when brought in, was dressed in an old corduroy coat, cut with assegai stabs, and a pair of regimental trousers cut off at the knee; these he had picked up on the Veldt. He had strips of cloth round his feet.

The independent chief Umbilini, who was such a * Trooper Grandier's story of ill-treatment has since been contradicted by this Dutchman.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:48 pm

I asked them about Grandier, the Frenchman who was supposed to have been captured during the retreat from Hlobane, and to have escaped by
kiUing one of his guards while being taken to Umbehni's clan for execution. They said that a white man had been taken prisoner and brought to Ulundi ; that Cetywayo had questioned him, and had then sent him back under an escort, with orders that he should be let go near Hlobane, so that he could find his way to the English camp, but
they knew nothing about the killing of the guard. Their statement agreed with that of other Zulus whom I interrogated on the subject in various parts of the country.

There are improbabihties about the Frenchman's story which certainly seem to need accounting for. His escape was avowedly made during the halt after the first march, to wit, within a few miles of Ulundi. But in that case it would not take long for the surviving guard to return at full speed and raise the country on the fugitive's heels, whose recapture would be but a question of a very few hours. Then, again, from Ulundi to the Zunguin, where Grandier was picked up, is a little matter of fifty miles as the crow flies, and a good deal more by any known track ; further, it is extremely rugged and mountainous, as the foregoing pages may have served to show. How, then, could this man, on foot and without food, find his way across an unknown wilderness,
exposed, as he would be, to the glance of Zulu scouting parties patrolling the hills ? On the other hand, it may fairly be asked what motive would Cetywayo have for sparing the life of a prisoner an unusual act of leniency on the part of a savage chief exasperated too, as he would naturally be,by the defeat of his forces at Kambiila and the loss of hundreds of his best warriors. Unless it were that the King had heard how some Zulu prisoners had been tended by our surgeons, or, with a desperate sense of his ultimate downfall coming more and more home to him, thought by this act of clemency to commend himself more readily to our sympathies when his day came, and take a step in the direction of agreeing with his adversary quickly. Again, should Grandier's narrative be correct in every particular, it might be that the survivor of the two men who guarded him, fearing to go back and tell the King how ill he had acquitted himself of his charge, had simply made himself scarce and said nothing, which would account for the Frenchman not being recaptured.

But whatever may be thought of the tale, the Zulus all agree that the King's orders were for the release of the captive.

Source: Through the Zulu country; its battlefields and its people Mitford, Bertram, 1855-1914
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:59 pm

The Devils pass from the bottom, taken ten yards from Piet Uys grave.

The rocks are far more pronounced now compared to 1879 due to erosion.
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This is the rear face where the Border horse were pushed over, in the distance is the point Weatherley made his way to the waterfall as Dennison mentions
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Finally the top of Buller ascent, held by the FLH
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:17 pm

Thanks Neil. God that must have been hell getting down there. !!!!
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90th

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PostSubject: hlobane mountain   Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:14 pm

hi Neil.
Once again great pictures , thanks for sharing them.
cheers 90th.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:12 pm

Does anyone have a timeline with reference to how long it to the British Troops to get down to the bottom of devils pass?


PS.
Quote :
The Zulu were behind prepared barricades and concealed within caves that riddled the mountain
I don't suppose there are any photo's of these caves anywhere.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:45 pm

With reference to relics on this site, is the area protected like Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:27 pm

Buller's re-entrant
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Buller's re-entrant from inside
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Vicinity of where Campbell was killed.
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Campbell & Lloyd's grave
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Photo's Supplied by Ken Gillings
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Ken Gillings



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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:05 am

Good morning everyone.
In response to the question regarding protection of Hlobane, in terms of SA Legislation, all SA Battlefields are protected and it is illegal to remove any relics from them.
Hlobane - like most others - has been plundered and there is very little visible on the surface.
I sent the photo of the re-entrant used by Lt Col Buller because many visitors to Hlobane erroneously believe that he ascended the mountain via the track that is used by the mine to reach the summit. The actual route is situated several hundred metres to the north.
Regards,
Ken
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:12 pm

Here's another account by G. Mossop. When looking over the edge of Devils Pass.

Trooper George Mossop later wrote Some distance ahead I saw a number of horses bunched together and came to the conclusion that they were abandoned for I could not see anybody near. Pushing through them to the edge of the pass and dismounting I saw one man standing at my side looking down. I also looked down and my blood turned. The pass was steep and narrow and chocked with boulders. About 20 yards from where we stood was free of horsemen, or rather of men leading their horses, for no-one could sit a horse in such a place. Below was a complete jam. The abaQulusi were crawling over the rocks, jabbing at the men and horses. Some of the men were shooting and some used clubbed rifles and were fighting their way down.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Dec 01, 2009 8:50 pm

A couple of photo's.

Top of Devils Pass
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Devils Pass
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90th

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PostSubject: hlobne   Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:28 am

hi littlehand .
Great photo"s.
90th.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:01 pm

I came across this, maybe I reading it wrong, but did Buller order the African levies down first to ensure their escape or to see if it could be done, before the British went down. Basically were the African levies the guinea pigs.

"As the Zulus advanced along the lower plateau, Colonel Buller and his men huddled at the top of the steep, rocky incline that henceforth would be known as Devil’s Pass. Surrounded by sheer cliffs, it was the only way off the mountain. It was a case of scrambling down or being slaughtered by the Zulu hordes.
Before attempting the descent with his troopers, Buller ordered his African levies to make their way down first. They managed to do so, but during their subsequent flight from Hlobane about 100 of them were overtaken and killed by pursuing Zulus.
"
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:09 pm

Hi Littlehand

A very good question, this could cause a good debate. :)
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:14 pm

1879Graves. I would like to known what the British opinion was of the African levies. Bearing in mind the previous engagements. (Rorkes Drift) I was thinking he sent them down first, to ensure they did rip off their red bandanas and join the Zulu’s in killing the British.
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90th

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PostSubject: hlobane   Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:18 pm

hi littlehand.
From what I"ve read , they had no time for them and didnt think much of them at all.
cheers 90th
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:23 pm

90th I like your answer :lol!:

Littlehand
All I can say is as I lived in SA in the 60's, 70's & 80's, I do not believe thier opinion had changed then, so back in 1879, Buller would have used them as guinea pigs in my opinion.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Fri Dec 11, 2009 11:05 pm

Thought as much.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:38 pm

Doe's anyone how long the retreat took before the men reached a safe haven. And I can't find any mentioned as to what happen to the bodies of the unfortunate ones. I take it they did go back at some point to bury the dead as they did at Isandlwana.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:33 am

Good morning from a sunny Pinetown.
Besides those of Campbell and Lloyd (which have been plundered on numerous occasions), there is no evidence of the graves on Hlobane. Baron Lt von Stietencron and Lt Williams were buried somewhere near the re-entrant on the eastern side on Hlobane (overlooking Ntshenteka Nek) while Piet Uys's monument has been completely destroyed and dug up so many times that all that remains now is a hole.
The remains of the men from the Frontier Light Horse and the Border Horse at Ntshenteka Nek have never been recovered, but Mr Alf Wade who used to live in Vryheid in the 1960s and 70s once told me that he had come across some children playing with bones at an umuzi (homestead) on the plain to the north of Hlobane. I have searched the area but never come across any graves.
In 'Through the Zulu Country', Bertram Mitford (who as you know, visited the site in 1882) wrote (as he ascended the western side - almost certainly via the Devil's Pass): "Here I picked up an ordinary metal button half embedded in the soil, but of other relics I found none, though on the look-out for them..." He also wrote: "From the eastern side I could make out a white cross on the slope beneath, the grave of some victim of the fateful day." This was almost certainly the original cross over the grave of Campbell and Lloyd.
It should be borne in mind that in the late 1800s, that region was incredibly barren with very little development. There were scattered homesteads but Hyaenas and Jackal would have roamed the area and therefore had a field day cleaning up the mess. Porcupines also gnaw at bones, so nature would have restored Hlobane to its natural state. That said, however, while at the top of the Devil's Pass with Alf Wade in 1968, we did find a Martini Henry cartridge case, which we buried. I suppose someone would have discovered it by now with a metal detector.
Regards,
Ken
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:43 am

Hi All
Yes they were buried, but the whereabouts seem to be lost now.
On my last visit to the battlefield at Hlobane, the grass around the graves of Campbell and Lloyd was quiet short, our party noticed a little distance away a number of mounds in a straight line all being grave shaped and if they were graves sometime had been taken over the burials not the hasty pile of stones, it is only speculation but could these be some of the missing graves, it would seem to me that it would be a lot of effort today to bury someone almost on the top of Hlobane, but we do know there were zulus living on the mountain in 1879 and afterwards, these could be there graves. To me they seemed European.
Rai
Keynshamlighthorse
Ps was writing this as Ken posted his reply, but have left it without modification.
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:58 am

Hi all
Last post should read
Yes SOME were buried but there whereabouts are lost now,


I cannot believe that no burials took place considering that many of those who died were Europeans and not just Colonists.
Rai
Keynshamlighthorse
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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Sat Mar 06, 2010 8:21 am

hi
i dont know exactly how long the retreat lastedd but i do know that the zulus chased the british for about 12 miles with fighting on all sides of the retreat. the british had to fight their way through the pass to make it to the plains.

thanks joe
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90th

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PostSubject: hlobane mtn   Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:02 am

hi Dave .
This from " The Narrative Of The Field Operations Connected With The Zulu War Of 1879.

Operations of LT. Baker Russell"s Column - 26th July - 2nd Sept 1879.
" On the 29th Aug advanced to the neighbourhood of the Inhlobana moutain, which this day was
patrolled by the mounted men without any hostile natives being discovered , At this halting place ,
near the Inhlobana mtn , a fort was constructed which was called Fort Piet Uys , and here the column
remained during 30th Aug, whlle a party of the mtd men patrolled the track towards the Dumbi mtn,
and discovered and buried the remains of many of those who had fallen on the 28th March "

The footnote at the bottom of the page says , These belonged to Weatherley"s and Barton"s parties.
cheers 90th.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:45 pm

Thanks very much for all of your replies.
I expect the ground was worst than Isandlwana when it came to burying the dead almost impossible.
Did Chelmsford ever visit the site of the Battle.
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90th

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PostSubject: hlobane mtn   Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:00 am

hi Dave.
Chelmsford as far as I"m aware never went to Hlobane.
Regards Gary.
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90th

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PostSubject: hlobane mtn   Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:40 am

hi all.
More on the hlobane burials , the following from Ian Knights " Companion to the zulu war ".
" Some attempt was made early in the fight to recover or evacuate the bodies of officers killed in the early
skirmishing , but this was abandoned as the battle intensified , the dead were left scattered over a wide swathe
of difficult country from Ityenka Nek on the eastern slopes of Hlobane , across the top of the mtn , down so called
Devils - pass , and across every scattered line of retreat to Khambula. Wood made no attempt to trace and bury the
dead until nagged to do so by the irregulars . On the 20th may he led a patrol around the southern and western slopes
of Zungwini , where the remains of LT. C.C WILLIAMS ( Woods Irregulars ) and CAPT. CHARLES POTTER ( Hamu"s
Followers ) were found and buried. Not until Aug 79 during pacification operations were some of the remains of Weatherley"s
Border Horse discovered on Ityenka Nek at the eastern foot of Hlobane . According to Capt Montague of the 94th .
" On the crest of the narrow nek we found numerous skeletons , many a good deal broken up , probably by the monkeys;
On the lower plateau were a few , and at the base of the mtn they lay thickly enough , in a broad line , gradually getting
thinner , till only detached bones were met, these extended for 3 miles from the mtn . All were perfect skeletons , the rags
hanging here and there about them ; some with hair still attached to the scalp. Weatherley was recognised by his long fair
moustache lying by his side , and the skeleton of a boy , his son , not many yards from him. We gave them what burial we
could , and paid the last marks of respect to our soldier"s graves ". This also from " Companion ".
" Both horses and men had tumbled off the steep cliffs that line the northern edge of the nek , and local zulus recall that
bones could still be found at the bottom to within living memory . The body of Piet Uys was recovered from the Devils pass
by his relatives , who recognised the remains of his clothing and removed him to his farm at Utrecht . Although a cairn was at
some point later erected at the top of the pass , it has since been dismantled , it is unclear what became of the rest of the remains
left there , many were probably never buried , and some perhaps still lie there , undetected , jammed in crevices between
inaccessible rocks at the foot of the surrounding cliffs " .
cheers 90th.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: Hlobane Mountain   Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:01 pm

90th. What page is this on I have that book but cannot find it.
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90th

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PostSubject: hlobane mtn   Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:58 am

hi dave .
You will find it on page 49 , it goes onto the Barton story , which I have posted on the forum previously quite some time back.
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Captain D'Arcy's account.    Tue Apr 05, 2011 7:01 pm

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