Naval Brigade, Lower Tugela, Fort Tenedos
My Dear Father,
I am most happy to tell you that we came off victorious in our engagement of the 2nd April. It was a pity they did not attack us on the first of April, as we should have made them a lot of April fools, but perhaps it was as well as it was. The engagement lasted about one hour and twenty-five minutes. You should have seen them coming. We were just making out breakfast, but of course we had to drop that, and wait for them to come down on us. I do not know whether you have ever heard of a Gatling gun. It is a gun with ten barrels to it, and it will fire more than eight hundred times in a minute. At soon as the battle was over we went outside the entrenchments to have a look at the dead. There were about twelve altogether, just ten yards from out Gatling gun, on their hands and knees. They had been crawling up to us, and all of them were shot in the head. It was a most horrible sight, but it was fine sport while it lasted. You should see them as soon as they were shot throw up their arms, and down they went. It was like playing at ninepins. We have got 13 prisoners, and as soon as they were brought in they were questioned, and they said that the army attacking us numbered from 15,000 to 16,000. The army was led by the king’s brother. We do not know how many were killed, but it is thought about 1,300. They carried away the best part of their dead. We had about 50 wounded and 9 killed. Three of my shipmates were wounded.
Your affectionate son,
(Source: The Hull Packet and East Riding Times, May 23, 1879)
Petty Officer Tom