The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 3 No 2 - December 1974

Notes on Kaffrarian Volunteers

by J. J. HULME

In an article in this Journal Volume 2, No. 6 (December 1973), entitled ĎSansomís Horseí, Dr. Frank Mitchell records his near certainty that Sansomís Horse and the Komgha Troop of the Kaffrarian Volunteers were one and the same unit. The notes submitted here are all from official sources in the Cape Archives, and support the soundness of Dr. Mitchellís suggestion.

The late Major Tylden was not aware, until I furnished the information to him, that 5 units (including the Komgha Troop) were in fact sub-units of the Kaffrarian Volunteers. Dr. Mitchell quotes Major Tyldenís Corrigendum on the point in his article.

The information quoted here is contained in the Cape Archives (Ref. GH 37/6 and DD 1/9) and covers the years 1877-1879. All 5 sub-units which made up the Kaffrarian Volunteers appear at various times in official returns now filed under these Archive references.


Return at 31st December 1878: Nos 1 and 2 Companies, each with authorised establishment of 3 officers and 45 men. Actual strength at that dateóNo 1 Coy: 3 officers, 34 men. No 2 Coy: 2 officers, 44 men. 52 long Sniders. HQ of both at King Williamís Town.


Return for January, February and March 1877: Komgha Company (sic): formed 1st October, 1871. 3 officers, 2 sgts, 1 cpl, 40 privates. Signed by Capt James Sansom, commanding Komgha Troop, Kaffrarian Volunteers. Commissioned on 1st October, 1878. (Note 1)


Requisition for capitation grants for half-year ended 30th June 1877: Gonubie Troop: Capt George Grey, commissioned 13th October, 1870; Lt W. J. Warren, commissioned 13th October, 1870; Lt R. J. Dick, commissioned 1st February, 1873. 28 men.


Return for July, August and September 1877 Komgha Troop - as for April - June 1877.


Return for October, November and December 1877: Komgha Troop. No parades as the men were all on active duty either in Galekaland, or doing duty in Komgha.


Requisition for capitation grants for half-year ended 31st December 1877: Komgha Troop: Strength 3 officers and 28 men.


Return for January, February and March 1878: Komgha Troop. 2 officers and 43 men. 33 long Sniders and 13 carbines. Sansom and 9 men were on active service from 1st January 1878 to May 1878. 19 on active service under Sgt Reynolds, from 1st January 1878 to 3Oth June, 1878.


Certificate dated at King Williamís Town on 24th June 1880: Sansomís command was released from active service in May 1878.


Requisition for capitation grants for half-year ended 30th June 1878: Gonubie Troop. Strength: 3 officers and 20 men.


Return July 1878: No 1 Company 3 officers and 24 other ranks. 25 long Sniders, 7 short Sniders. Capt James Faunce Lonsdale commissioned 22nd February, 1872. Lt E. J. Byrne, commissioned 22nd February, 1872. 2/Lt G. V. Perks, commissioned 10th May, 1875.


Letter, Lonsdale to AAG, 20th September, 1878 enclosing a corrected list of officers of the Kaffrarian Volunteers: Captain Commandant: J. Faunce Lonsdale, 22.2.1872 (Note 2). Captains: James Sansom, 18.11.1872; J. W. Robertson, 15.2.1874; Richard Walker, 1.3.1875; George Grey, 1.7.1875; Howard Sprigg, 25.11.1876 (Note 3). Lieutenants: Edmund J. Byrne, 22.2.1872; John Cowie, 18.11.1872; Charles Musgrave 1.3.1875; J. W. Warren, 1.7.1875; L. G. Triegaardt, 25.11.1876. 2nd Lieutenants: Robt McWilliams, 15.12.1874; A. Duncan, 1.3.1875; G. V. Perks, 10.5.1875; R. J. Dick (Note 4), 1.7.1875; J. H. Stokes, 25.11.1876.


Quarterly Return ending 30th September, 1878: No 2 Company. 2 officers and 44 other ranks. Capt Robertson, Lt McWilliams, 40 long Sniders. Established 1.7.1870.


Return September 1878: No 1 Company. 3 officers and 24 other ranks. Capt Lonsdale, Lts Byrne and Perks.


Return October, 1878: No 1 Company. 3 officers and 25 other ranks. 25 long Sniders, 7 short Sniders. xv. Return November, 1878: No 1 Company, 3 officers, 24 other ranks. Both Nos 1 and 2 Companies formed 1st July, 1870.


Parade State, Komgha Volunteers, 15th February, 1879: 2 officers and 40 present. Arms: 7 short Enfield, 7 long Enfield, 3 short Sniders, 2 long Sniders.
Note: (Enfield means the Snider Rifle.) (Note 5).


Return February, 1879: No 1 Company, 3 officers and 30 other ranks. Corps doing garrison duty. Sergeant James Faunce Lonsdale killed in action in Zululand on 22nd January, 1879, while serving as a Captain in the 1st Battn, 3rd Regt, Natal Native Contingent. (Note 6).


Return, February, 1879: No 2 Company, 2 officers and 44 men. Doing garrison duty during the month.


Return March, 1879: Gonubie Troop, Kaffrarian Volunteers, 3 officers and 41 other ranks. No parades held by the Gonubie Volunteers since their return from active service in the trans-Kei (sic) in November, 1877. Meeting of the troops this month (April) 14 present. They decline to serve under the new Volunteer Act of 1878 but are willing to do so under the old Act. If this is not permitted, it is recommended that the Government disband the corps. (Note 7).


March, 1879: No 1 Company. On garrison duty.


Letter No 2764 AAG to Lonsdale, dated 12th March, 1879: Three mounted troops are under strength. Do you want to keep them on with a reduced establishment, to fill the ranks later to the required establishment? i.e. 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 2nd lieutenant. If not, the Commandant-General will recommend disbandment.

xxii. Return of the Kaffrarian Volunteers in the King Williamís Town District, 31st December 1878:

  No of Troops   Strength     Armament of
Designation & Companies Officers Men Horses Place each Corps
  Staff 2 - 2 HQ King  
  1 & 2 Coys 4 56 - Wmís Tn. 76 long Sniders
Kaffrarian Volunteers No 3 Troop 2 36 36 Komgha  
  No 4 Troop 2 32 32 Gonubie 126 short Sniders
  No 5 Troop 3 30 30 (Note 8)  
Staff Cmdt Lonsdale       Remarks:  
  Surgeon Grace       The Volunteers in King Williamís  
No 1 Lt Byrne       Town have simply rifles without  
  Lt Perks       bayonets, have belt, pouch, frog  
No 2 Capt Robertson       supplied by themselves; and the  
  Lt McWilliams       country volunteers have simply  
No 3 Capt Sansom       rifles. The strength of the Komgha,  
  Lt Curtis       Gonubie & Maclean troops is given  
No 4 Capt Grey       approximately, as lately, the Returns,  
  Lt Warren       by order of the Colonial Secy, are  
No 5 Capt Sprigg       sent direct by the respective Capts  
  Lt Triegaardt       and not through the Cmmdt.  

List of Officers, Kaffrarian Volunteers
Captain Commandant James Faunce Lonsdale 22/2/1872 (Note 1)
Captain R. Walker 1.3.1875 Mounted Troop, KWT Volunteers
2/Lt A. Duncan 1.3.1875
1st Lt C. Musgrave 1.3.1875
Lt E. J. Byrne 22.2.1872 No 1 Company KWT Volunteers
Lt G. V. Perks 22.2.1872
Capt T. W. Robertson 15.12.1874 No 2 Company KWT Volunteers
2/Lt R. McWilliams 15.12.1874
Capt G. Grey 1.7.1875 Gonubie Troop
Lt W. Warren 1.7.I875
2/Lt R.J.Dick* 1.7.1875
Capt James Sansom* 18.11.1872 Komgha Troop
LtJohn Cowie 18.11.1872
2/Lt T. Curtis 8.4.1876
Capt Howard Sprigg 25.11.1876
Lt G. Impey 20.7.1877 Maclean Troop
2/LtT. H. Stokes 25.11.1876

Gonubie Troop is in existence, Lt Warren in charge.

*These officers hold commissions in the 1st Regt of Yeomanry, have never sent in their resignations to me and have not appeared in the Government Gazette. (Note 7)

29th March, 1879.


Note 1 It was not uncommon at this time for dates of promotion to higher rank to be referred to as dates of commission.
Note 2 Probably the date of first appointment to commissioned rank.
Note 3 Howard Sprigg was a Magistrate and was subsequently a Major in the Cape Yeomanry and the Cape Mounted Riflemen. He was a brother of J. Gordon Sprigg, Prime Minister of the Cape Colony.
Note 4 Photograph in Hook, With Sword and Statute, p.296.
Note 5 The Enfield Rifled Musket, muzzle-loading, was converted to breach-loading on the Snider method.
Note 6 At Isandhlwana.
Note 7 One of the recommendations of the Commission of Colonial Defence which sat in 1876 (Blue Book GI-77) was the raising of a strong and properly organized force of cavalry in the Eastern districts. This was in fact done in 1878 on a militia basis, i.e. the men had to enlist for 3 years and were paid, for those days, a generous allowance for horse and equipment upkeep. See Cape Yeomanry Act of 1878, Cape Colony. The official policy seems to have been to encourage the enlistment of all mounted Volunteers of the frontier in the Cape Yeomanry, particularly by withdrawing support for the numerous small mounted units in the Eastern Cape.
Note 8 Presumably the Maclean (or correctly Macleantown) troop.

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