Read what NMP Trooper Clarke had to say about this matter of captured cattle . The transcription following is verbatim from Vol 1/9 of his diaries, pages 20-21.
Verbatum transcription commences:
January 12th 1879
I was on guard last night from 8 o’clock until 10 and from 2 this morning but had only been on sentry duty for about half an hour when I was warned for patrol (ie at 2.30am ) and had to saddle up. We paraded at 4 am with 850 NNC, 4 companies 1/24th, , 100 Mounted Infantry and the Volunteers, Col Russell having command of the Cavalry.
We started at 5am with the Natal Carbineers as advance guard and the Mounted Infantry guarding our flanks. The roads to the Bashee river were very boggy and our progress was slow. On arrival at the drift Lord Chelmsford and Col Glynn formed the plan of attack, the result being that we were sent around to the right of the Nqutu mountain to attack the Zulus flanks while the NNC and 1/24th made the main, direct attack on the hill.
We could plainly see the Zulus on top of the mountain and it was some time before we reached the neck at the top of the Bashee valley, consequently the Zulus had time to assemble in large numbers at a point commanding the neck.
The Carbineers and the Mounted infantry had gone around the mountain out of sight, but we were unable to cross a large donga, so had to head it. As we reached the foot of the hill a hot fire was poured down on us by the Zulus hidden in the rocks , but their marksmanship was very bad a no one was hit.
Mr Mansel immediately ordered the even numbers to dismount and extend in skirmishing order, which they did. I was one of the odd numbers so had to remain with the horses which was an unpleasant job as the Zulu fire consisting of pot legs etc were constantly flying over us. Being my first experience under fire , the whizz of the bullets made one involuntarily bob the head , but I had no thought of being hit, my chief anxiety being having a shot at the enemy.
After firing a few shots the skirmishers were ordered to withdraw and they went up the hill very quickly, clearing the enemy out as they went. On their reaching the top of the hill they had some shooting at the retreating enemy and killed several. We, with the horses moved to the right and met the rest of our men ( even numbers) at the end of the range , with the other troops, ie Infantry., who had also killed several Zulus , taking some prisoners and capturing a large herd of cattle.
After offsaddling and having partaken of some coffee and tiffin, we prepared for the descent into the valley again, passing on the way the dead bodies of the enemy killed by the NMP. One of these was believed to be that of Sirayo’s son.
The rain commenced again as soon as we reached the Bashee Valley and as a result a very unpleasant march back to camp ensued. I pitied the Infantry who had to nudge the swamps, spruits and quite dense bushy country along the way. The prisoners taken in the attack on Sirayo’s Kraal were released by Chelmsford, but the cattle captured were sold to butchers for 30/- each and afterwards bought back by the Imperial Government for £18 a piece and fed to the troops. Horses fetched £2 10/-, resulting in our cattle money not amounting to much.
January 13th 1879
Chelmsford had not much regard for our horses for we were turned out again this morning at 4 am and were kept out all day watching the country towards Ulundi.
… end of transcription.