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 1563 Pte. R. Hissey, 94th Foot

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PostSubject: 1563 Pte. R. Hissey, 94th Foot   Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:08 pm

"Robert Hissey was born in the Parish of Sommers Town, London, and enlisted at Aldershot on 10 August 1870. Having declared that he had never served in any branch of the forces he was found, in September 1871, to belong to the 5th Middlesex Militia and in consequence was deprived of his pay until May 1874. He served in South Africa from 26 February 1879 until 16 October 1881, taking part in the Zulu War of 1879 and the Transvall War of 1880-81. During the latter conflict he was one of the small garrison of the 94th that successfully defended the town of Lydenburg against besieging Boer forces for nearly three weeks. During the siege Hissey was severely wounded by a gun shot wound to his head on 9 February 1881. He appeared before a Medical Board at Pietermaritzburg on 15 May 1881, who recommended him for a change of climate to England. He was accordingly returned home to Netley Hospital in October 1881, and was discharged from the service from Netley, unfit for service, on 6 December 1881.

The garrison at Lydenburg originally consisted of the 94th Regiment, but with the exception of a small detachment, the regiment was withdrawn on 5 December, 1880. The remaining troops consisted of 54 non-commissioned officers and men of the 94th, a Sergeant and 7 Sappers, R.E., eight N.C.Os and men of the Commissariat and Hospital Corps, with Surgeon Falvey in medical charge, and Conductor Parsons in charge of supplies. Lieutenant Walter Long, a 24-year old junior officer of the 94th, was placed in command, and on receipt of instructions from Pretoria immediately set to work to strengthen the defences. He constructed a fort by erecting stone walls between a number of thatched-roof huts which were covered with tarpaulins. An underground magazine was constructed in which over 200,000 rounds of ammunition, left behind by the 94th, was stored. Three months supply of preserved meat, eight months' flour for bread making, and ample supplies of groceries and vegetables provided for a lengthy siege.

On 23 December Long was visited by Dietrich Muller who said he had been deputed by the Boer Government to demand the immediate surrender of the garrison which was refused by Long.

The Boers took up a position two miles off on the road to Middelburg on 3 January, 1881, and commenced their attack on the 6th. Two hundred and fifty men entered the town and proclaimed the Republic, again calling on Long to surrender, which he again refused to do. The Boer force was now estimated at between 500 and 600 men. Approaching to within 250 yards of the fort they opened fire, continuing for about 3 hours without harming the garrison. A cannon opened fire on the fort on 8 January but the shells passed harmlessly over. Later a second gun was used against the garrison which caused damage.

Conductor Parsons was prominent on several occasions, leading parties to dislodge the Boers from posts too close to the Fort, crawling up to the 'Old Dutch Laager' and throwing a lighted hand grenade into the camp, causing a stampede, and, on another occasion, he tried to lay a mine but was discovered and obliged to fall back under heavy fire.

On 23 January the water supply was found to be running short and the garrison was placed on short ration until a heavy rainfall on 8 February afforded relief.

On 4 March the enemy successfully set fire to the thatched roofs of the fort. On the morning of 10 March, two men appeared under a flag of truce bearing a letter from Alfred Aylward, formerly editor of the Natal Witness (who had joined the Boer forces), offering favourable terms of capitulation, to which Lieutenant Long replied that he would continue to defend the Fort until he received instructions to the contrary.

On 23 March the Boer Commandant sent in under a flag of truce a copy of the Natal Mercury describing Sir George Colley's defeat and death, and the terms of the armistice, but hostilities continued until 30 March, when Lieutenant Baker of the 60th Regiment arrived with despatches confirming the terms of peace. The siege lasted eighty-four days. Casualties were four killed, including two volunteers, and nineteen wounded."
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