Frontier Light Horse
Col. Wood’s Column
"My Dear Missie
You are the dearest girl that “ever was” for writing me such a nice long letter, it was quite the nicest I have ever received - I got it about a fortnight ago - (the letter I mean is the one telling me about Romen Williams being engaged to your friend.) I herewith enclose you a letter for Willie (which I wrote a few days ago, but was ordered to go out on patrol, so did not mail it) when you have read it, please send it on to him - I got a huge letter from all of you this morning which was written at A at [sic] Xmas time - how you must all be enjoying yourselves - A day or two ago some of my men caught some Zulus, & one had a letter which was address, “To the Kurnel of the Regiment”, it was from Oham (Zulu Chief) to say he had been at the Rorkes Drift fight, and had got the revolvers and rifles of our men & officers that were killed there; he wants to join us against Kenchwayo with all his men (about 2000) - My Regiment is going on patrol in a few days to bring him & his men into Camp. I hope it is not a trap that he is laying for us - it is just the sort of thing they would do - Oham also says in his letter, that Kenchwayo is going to attack the Column or Col. Pearson’s, on the day of the new moon (which is the 21st of this month, next Friday). He had an action skirmish with the enemy a few days ago, killed between 30 & 40 and captured about a 100 head of Cattle.- I dare say you will be surprised to see a English penny stamp on this letter - the reason is, one of our officers is going to England tomorrow, and takes this letter with him.- Emma says in the “combined letter” that she wrote to me some time ago - I have never received it - Tell me in your next where most of the letters have been sent to, so that I may have them forwarded -
I suppose we will have 8 or 9 regiments out here soon - I hope this business will be over soon as I should not like to stay out here a year longer. I am getting quite sick of it - I can’t get any of my luggage, it is all at Pretoria (about 400 miles from here; I expect it is all “jumped” by this time, (a nicer way of saying stolen). Harry Vaughan is with us at this this column with us (I suppose you can hardly remember him) he sends his kind regards to all, is a good deal changed, I did not know him, he is quite grey.- I am very glad to hear Josie is all right again & also that the little Chick is doing well - give her my love, & likewise to yourself and all the others.- Tell me in your next how my dog “Meg” is getting on.
Ever your affte Brother
P.S. Mr. Lloyd tells me that my Canteen came back in the ship I came out in. I have it sent to Dobbie’s the boot maker’s (25 Jermyn St.) care of E. Christain Esqr Lieut Frontier Light Horse (he is the officer who takes this letter) & will bring it back to me.
P.S. I don’t know anything against Romen William’s character but he is not “my sort of man” you can spell his name in three letters. Address the same as above but miss out Kambula Camp.
This letter was found in a suit pocket in ‘City Missions’ thrift shop, presumably in Launceston, in the early 1980s. The finder has been unable to trace the owner/s. We discovered it was written during the Zulu War in 1879. Cetewayo had become the absolute ruler of the Zulu in 1872 and endeavoured to revive the military methods of his uncle Shaka. In January 1879, the British under General Lord Chelmsford invaded Zululand with a force of 5,000 Europeans and 8,200 natives. Cetewayo had an army of 40,000. Chelmsford divided his force into three columns. His centre column advanced from Rorkesdrift 22 January but were attacked and over-whelmed near Isandhlwana. Of the other columns, Col. C. K. Pearson was besieged at Eshowe until achieving victory at Ginginhlove in April, while Col. Evelyn Wood, who had fallen back on fortified headquarters at Kambula, repulsed the pick of Cetewayo’s army 29 March. Kambula and Ginginhlove marked the turning point in the war. We hope our letter writer survived! It seems the letter was to his family in England, as he refers to Jermyn Street, which is off Piccadilly in London. Presumably what he has written as Kenchwayo is Cetewayo?"
Any information would be appreciated.—Editor. Reference: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1963