The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 1 No 4 - June 1969



The item numbers shown are parallel with those given in the articles under the same title in Numbers 1 and 2 of Volume 1 of the "'Military History Journal". 4. VICTORIA RANGERs. The burgher corps was assisted by about 450 Africans.

6. MATABELELAND MOUNTED POLICE. At the outbreak of the Matabele War of 1896 the unit consisted of 48 officers and men under Inspector Southey. Twenty-two were stationed at Bulawayo and the rest at the police stations at Gwelo, Selukwe, Belingwe, Inyati, Mangwe, Tuli, Matopos, Umzinwani and Iron Mine Hill.

9. BULAWAYO FIELD FORCE. Commanded by Colonel William Napier it was more than 650 strong on 5 April, 1896.

(c) Grey's Scouts. Formed on 26 March, 1896, by Mr. George Grey. He was a mine owner who was given the rank of Captain and who had a number of mining properties near the Tchangani River about 70 miles northwest of Bulawayo. The unit had a nucleus of 23 picked men. One of the officers was Lieutenant Jack Stuart, an American miner who had a mining camp on the Kotki River. Other officers were Lieutenants Hodgson and Fred Crewe. (f) Africander Corps. On 5th April, 1896, the unit was raised by and was under the command of Commandant Van Rensburg. It consisted of three companies numbering 76,64 and 73 men with six on the staff. Other officers in the corps were Commandant Barnard, Captains Van Niekerk, Pittendrigh and Brand.

(g) Bulawayo Field Police. Also known as the Bulawayo Police Force it had a troop under the command of Captain Mainwaring.

Other officers in the Bulawayo Field Force were:
Colonel J. A. Spreckley, Town Major Scott, Captains Bissett, Dawson, J. W. Lumsden, Fynn, Windley, Wrey, R. Macfarlane (formerly of the 9th Lancers), Molyneux, Nicholson, Howard Brown, Cardigan, Meikle, Taylor, Knapp, Lieutenants Webb, Holland, Purssell, Jobson, Boggie, Claude Grenfell, Moffat, Walsh, Rorke, Hulbert, Biscoe, H. H. Blocker, Hook, Mullins, Howard (formerlyof the Bechuanaland Border Police), Parkin, Stewart, Sinclair, Frost and Jackson.

Dr. Vigne, with an ambulance and stretchers, took part in many patrols from Bulawayo.

About 70 Friendlies (Matabele natives who did not take part in the rebellion) took part in a patrol from Bulawayo on 25 April, 1896, under the command of Chief Native Commissioner Taylor. Towards the end of the campaign increasing use was made of them.

With the Bulawayo Field Force there were a number of men known as American Scouts. Three of them were Major F. R. Burnhamn and Messrs. Swinburne and Blick. Major Burnham came to South Africa from the United States early in 1893. He joined the Victoria Column and took part in the battles at Bembesi and Shangani and died in 1947.

On 11 May, 1896, a column of about 42 officers and 613 men commanded by Colonel William Napier set out from Bulawayo with the object of opening the road to the Tchangani River where it was hoped to meet up with the relief column from Salisbury under Colonel Beal. Colonel Napier's force was composed of:

(a) Artillery. Four officers and 34 men under Captain Biscoe. They were armed with one 7-pounder, one 2.5 gun, one Hotchkiss, one Nordenfeldt and one Maxim.
(b) Grey's Scouts. Four officers and 40 men under Captain Grey.
(c) Africander Corps. Three officers and 59 men under Commandant Van Rensburgh and Captain Van Niekerk.
(d) A Troop (Gifford's Horse). Two officers and 19 men.
(e) B Troop (Gifford's Horse). Two officers and 20 men. (d) and (e) were commanded by Captain Fynn. (f) F Troop. One officer and 20 men under Lieutenant H. Lamb.
(g) Four officers and 100 dismounted men under Captain Selous which consisted of detachments from C, D, H, K and L Troops under Captains Mainwaring and Reid and Lieutenants Holland and Hyden.
(h) Four engineers.
(i) 150 of Colenbrander's Colonial Boys under Captain Windley.
(j) 100 Friendly Matabele under Chief Native Commissioner Taylor.
(k) Staff:
Colonel Napier -- officer commanding.
Colonel Spreckley -- second in command.
Captain Llewellyn -- staff orderly officer.
Captain Howard Brown -- staff officer.
Captain Bradley -- remount officer.
Captain Molyneux -- adjutant.
Captain Wrey -- heliograph officer.
Captain Purssell -- quartermaster.
Dr. Levy -- medical officer.
Lieutenants Little, Doller and Burnham -- gallopers.
(l) Father Barthelemy (Catholic Priest), Captain the Hon. C. J. White and Mr. A. Rhodes accompanied the column unattached.

During the war of 1896 a number of forts was constructed in Matabeleland and details of some of them are:

(a) Fort Molyneux (also known as Fig Tree Fort). Captain Molyneux was in charge of the construction of this fort on a small isolated kopje about 200 yards from the hotel and telegraph office at Fig Tree.

(b) Fort Halsted. It was constructed by E Troop under Captain Halsted about one-third of the way down the pass leading into the Shashani Valley.

(c) Fort Marquand. This fort on the road between Bulawayo and Mangwe was constructed by H Troop superintended by Lieutenant Marquand who was an architect by profession.

(d) Dawson's Fort. Also constructed on the road between Bulawayo and Mangwe.

The Commandant of the garrison at Mangwe was Cornelius van Rooyen and other officers were Major Armstrong and Captain Luck. There was also a garrison at Matoli.

13. CAPE BOYS. The 150 extra Boys augmented the Bulawayo Field Force (No. 9). Mr. Johan Colenbrander organised them into a regiment. They were chiefly Amakhosa Kafirs and Zulus. Man for man they were braver than the Matabele and rendered excellent service. Shortly after 31 May, 1896, Major-General Sir Frederick Carrington reached Bulawayo with his staff and took over command of all the forces in Matabeleland. The force raised by Lieutenant-Colonel Plumer (of the York and Lancaster Regiment) had already arrived in Bulawayo as stated in No. 10. After Major-General Carrington had taken over command in Matabeleland a new unit called Coope's Scouts was formed. In one patrol Trooper Hays of Coope's Scouts was shot dead.

14. BEAL'S COLUMN. This force met Colonel Napier's column (see No.9) near the Pongo Store on 20 May, 1896. The Salisbury force was accompanied by Mr. Cecil Rhodes and Sir Charles Metcalfe who had left Bulawayo some time previously on a hunting trip but had to take refuge in the laager at Gwelo on the outbreak of the rebellion. The Reverend Douglas Pelly was attached to this contingent. Colonel Beal's column returned to Salisbury about the middle of June, 1896, after the rebellion had spread to Mashonaland. On 25 June, 1896, sixty mounted men of Grey's Scouts and Gifford's Horse under Captain the Hon. C. White left for Mashonaland to assist in the hostilities.

16. RHODESIA HORSE VOLUNTEERS. Raised and equipped in 1895 it had by early 1896 practically ceased to exist as an effective force fit for use at a moment's notice. Some 600 men enrolled in the force but at the outbreak of the rebellion in 1896 they were scattered all over Matabeleland. Some of the men were murdered and others took refuge in the laagers at Belingwe and Gwelo. About 500 were mustered in Bulawayo.

20. BELINGWE FIELD FORCE. The laager at Belingwe was at one stage commanded by Lieutenant Stoddart.

36. VICTORIA AND SALISBURY COLUMNS. The columns were commanded by Dr. Alexander Starr Jameson and 400 of the men were mounted. A small number of native allies took part in the march to Bulawayo. The artillery party consisted of 5 Maxims, 2 seven-pounders (not one as originally stated), 1 Gardner machine gun and 1 Hotchkiss. The columns were attacked near the Tchangani River by the Insukamini, Inhlati and Umquicho Matabele regiments on 25 October, 1893. The Embezu and Ingubu Matabele regiments numbering about 1,700 men again attacked the columns near the Impembisi River on 1 November, 1893, and in this attack the Maxims inflicted heavy losses on the Matabele. The Salisbury Column under the command of Major P. W. Forbes set out on 2 October and reached Iron Mine Hill on 14 October. The whole force then advanced on Bulawayo under the overall command of Major Forbes.

39. VICTORIA VOLUNTEER FORCE or VICTORIA VOLUNTEERS. Major Allan (not Alan) Wilson came to South Africa from Scotland and joined the Cape Mounted Riflemen. He later received a commission in the Basuto Police but afterwards became a representative at Fort Victoria. He was put in command of the Victoria Column (see No.36). He was killed in action on the Shangani River on 4 December, 1893, with a number of men from his patrol. They were buried at Shangani but the remains were later re-interred at Zimbabwe and a memorial erected. They were re-interred yet again at World's View Hill at Rhodes's direction. -- Editor


It is doubtful whether the 1st Hartley Patrol and the 1st and 3rd Mazoe Patrols mentioned by Major Tylden in No. 2 of Volume 1 of the Journal were military units as such. During the hostilities in Rhodesia certain units or combinations of units undertook patrols for various reasons and they were usually given the same name as their destination. Mazoe and Hartley are places in Rhodesia. In this manner a patrol under Lieutenant-Colonel Gifford fought in the Shiloh Hills in 1896 and was referred to as the Shiloh Patrol. The patrol was made up of men from Gifford's Horse, Grey's Scouts, F Troop and Colonial Boys.

On the morning of 28 April, 1896, a number of Coolies was murdered in their vegetable gardens on the outskirts of Bulawayo. They were vegetable growers and traders. Perhaps the Coolies mentioned in Major Tylden's article were similarly occupied and took up arms on the side of the White people in Rhodesia?

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