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A Handbook of the Boer War

Was the undoing of the trekkers of 1836


The

emigrants were now favourably situated in Natal. They had established an equitable if not a legal claim to it; Dingaan was out of the way; and the British Government seemed indisposed to inter-meddle. But the fatal and grotesque alliance with Panda, which culminated in his installation as King of the Zulus by Pretorius in 1840, and which was entirely inconsistent with the attitude hitherto assumed towards the natives, was the undoing of the trekkers of 1836.

Panda's men as native auxiliaries eager to avenge themselves on the common enemy Dingaan were all very well in their way. Most of them, however, belonged to Natal and joined him in the hope of recovering the tribal lands from which they had been evicted by Chaka and to which they had a better right than the trekkers.

The Boers now began to reap the harvest of the Panda alliance. They regarded the new arrivals as intruders, refused to acknowledge their claims, and finally in August, 1841, decreed their expulsion from Natal. The location chosen for their settlement was a district in Pondoland in the possession of a chief under British protection, who already had had occasion to lodge at Capetown a complaint against the Boers.

The British Government now found it necessary to intervene again in Natal. A military occupation was announced by proclamation in December, 1841, and 240 men, under the command of an infantry captain

named Smith, were sent up to Durban to give effect to it.

When Smith, after a difficult march along the coast, reached his destination on May 4, 1842, he pitched his camp on the flat which forms the base of one of the promontories enclosing the Bay. He at once lowered the Republican flag flying over the block-house at the Point, and soon found that 1,500 Boers were occupying Congella on the shore of the Bay. An attempt to surprise them by night failed disastrously; Smith's force was reduced to half its strength, and the block-house was captured by Pretorius.

Smith was now besieged in his camp, and the nearest help that could come to him was at Grahamstown, five hundred miles away. Thither a gallant civilian named King, who was one of the pioneers, rode in ten days; and on June 25, when the little garrison was in extremity, it was relieved by sea. Pretorius withdrew into the interior, and the Volksraad at Pietermaritzburg, the capital of the Republic of Natalia, voted the submission of the Boers. Pending a final settlement it was allowed to remain in authority over the settlers, but the district around Durban Bay was at once taken over as British territory. In May, 1843, a year after the landing of Smith, the Republic of Natalia passed away and Natal was proclaimed a British Colony.

The final settlement did not come for some time. The Volksraad was abolished, but the claims of the Boers to the lands upon which they had squatted were liberally considered. They were, however, dissatisfied because the rights of Panda's men were also regarded, and many trekked away across the Drakensberg. Those who remained protested that their lives and property were insecure in the presence of the natives, and Pretorius was deputed to go and lay their grievances before the British Governor at the Cape.


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