The Action At Inyezane 22nd Jan 1879 – This Day in History.

January 6, 2010 in Colonials

In preparation for the our Annual All Dayer next Saturday, I thought it would be useful to see Colonel Pearson’s official report.

With a week to go commands have been assigned, figures painted and rules read, let’s hope the Zulu’s can go one better…….

THE ACTION AT INYEZANE. COLONEL PEARSON’S OFFICIAL REPORT.
From Colonel Pearson, Commanding No. 1 Column to the Military Secretary to His Excellency the High Commissioner.

Etshowe Zululand, January 23, 1879.
SIR,
I HAVE the honour to report my arrival here at 10 A.M. this day, with the column under my command, and, I am happy to state, without a casualty of any kind—except, of course, those which occurred in the engagement of yesterday, of which I have already duly informed you by telegram, dispatched yesterday evening.

Yesterday morning, the mounted troops which preceded the column under Major Barrow, had crossed the Inyezane River—which is about four miles from our camping ground on the previous night—when I received a note from him to say that he had selected a fairly open space for a halting place, which he had carefully vedetted. I at once rode forward, to reconnoiter, and found the ground covered with more bush than seemed desirable for an outspan ; but as there was no water between the Inyezane and the places where we bivouacked last night—four miles further on, and with several steep hills to climb—I decided upon outspanning for a couple of hours, to feed and rest the oxen, and to enable the men to breakfast.

It was then just eight o’clock, and I was in the act of giving directions about the pickets and scouts required for our protection, and the wagons had already begun to park, when the leading company of the Native Contingent, who were scouting in front—personally directed by Captain Hart, Staff Officer to the Officer commanding that Regiment — discovered the enemy advancing rapidly over the ridges in our front, and making for the clumps of bush around us.

The Zulus at once opened a heavy fire upon the men of the company who had shown themselves in the open, and they lost one officer, four non-commissioned officers, and three men killed, almost immediately after the firing began. Unfortunately, owing to scarcely any of the officers or non-commissioned officers of the Native Contingent being able to speak Kafir, and some not even English (there are several foreigners among them), it has been found most difficult to communicate orders, and it is to be feared that these men who lost their lives by gallantly holding their ground did so under the impression that it was the duty of the contingent to fight in the first line, instead of scouting only, and, after an engagement, to pursue.

I must add, however, that every exertion has been made by Major Graves, Commandant Nettleton, and Captain Hart, to explain to both the officers and men the duties expected of them. These officers, indeed, have been indefatigable in their exertions.
As soon as the firing commenced, I directed the Naval Brigade, under Commander Campbell, Lieutenant Lloyd’s division of guns, and Captain Jackson’s and Lieutenant Martin’s companies of the Buffs, to take up a position on a knoll close by the road (and under which they were halted), and from whence the whole of the Zulu advances could be seen and dealt with.

Meanwhile, the wagons continued to park, and as soon as the length of the column had thereby sufficiently decreased, I directed the two companies of the Buffs, which were guarding the wagons about half way down the column, to clear the enemy out of the bush, which had been already shelled, and fired into with rockets and musketry, by the troops on the knoll above-mentioned. These companies, led by Captains Harrison and Wyld, and guided by Captain Macgregor, D.A.Q.M.G., whom I sent back for this purpose, moved out in excellent order, and quickly getting into skirmishing order, brought their right shoulders gradually forward, and drove the Zulus before them back into the open, which again exposed them to the rockets, shells, and musketry from the knoll.

This movement released the main body of the Mounted Infantry and Volunteers, who, with the Company of Royal Engineers, had remained near the Inyezane, to protect that portion of the convoy of wagons. -The Royal Engineers happened to be working at the drift when the engagement began.
When thus released, both the Engineers and Mounted Troops, under Captain Wynne and Major Barrow, respectively moved forward with the infantry. Skirmishers on the left of the latter, the whole being supported by a half-company of the Buffs and a half-company of the 99th Regiment, sent out by Lieutenant-Colonel Welman, 99th Regiment, who with the rear of the column, was now coming up.

About this time the enemy was observed by Commander Campbell lo be trying to outflank our left, and he offered to go with a portion of the Naval Brigade to drive away a body of Zulus who had got possession of a kraal about 400 yards from the knoll, and which was helping their turning movement. The Naval Brigade was supported by a party of the officers and non-commissioned officers of the Native Contingent, under Captain Hart, who were posted on high ground on the left of the Etshowe Road, and who checked the Zulus from making any further attempt on our left.

Shortly afterwards, when the kraal was evacuated, Commander Campbell suggested that the enemy should be driven off still further, to which I at once assented, and I desired Colonel Parnell to take Captain Forster’s company, the Buffs, which up to this time had remained at the foot of the knoll, and assist the Naval Brigade to attack some heights beyond the kraal, upon which a considerable body of Zulus were still posted.

The action was completely successful, and the Zulus now fled in all directions, both from our front and left, and before the skirmishers on the right.
I now ordered the column to be reformed, and at noon we resumed our march

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