Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
The Kaffir Wars
I have already alluded to the “tough forefathers” of the Scouts of this part of Africa. Here is a short account of how they proved their toughness. The natives of the south-eastern part of South Africa were for a great many years a thorn in the side of both Boer and British farmers; they used to make raids on the farmers’ cattle, often murdering the whites in most cold-blooded and wholesale manner.
This brought the farmers and troops together against them in 1811 under Colonel Graham.
At Slachters Nek, the Boer Stockenstrom and fourteen of his men were treacherously murdered by the natives during a parley in which the whites were trying to make peace with them. This, of course, drew down heavy punishment on them.
The natives of these parts are called Kaffirs, which name was originally given to them by Arab traders, who applied it to anyone who was not a believer in their Mohammedan religion, and the name has stuck to them ever since, even to their country being called Kaffraria.
In 1819 the Kaffirs made a big attack on the British settlement of Grahamstown, but the place was well defended by the 38th Regiment, ably assisted by a Hottentot hunter, Boezai, and a hundred of his men. The fighting was heavy, and the Kaffirs attacked with the greatest boldness; but in the end they were driven back into headlong flight, leaving some 2000 of their numbers dead on the field.
They were followed up into their own country by a strong force of British troops and Burghers working together. The latter were under Andres Stockenstrom, the son of the commandant who had been murdered eight years before. The natives were thus completely cowed; their chief was made a prisoner and taken to Robben Island, and the country resumed its peaceful pursuits once more.
Large numbers of emigrants began to come out from England to people the land, and farming became popular and paying. Large tracts of wild country were brought under cultivation, and the new-comers were helped to make a good start by the acting Governor, Sir Rufane Donkin.
Algoa Bay was where they landed, and a town soon sprang up, and Sir Rufane Donkin busied himself very much in its making.
One reason for his great activity was that he had recently lost his young wife, who had died in India, and he sought relief from his trouble in doing extra hard work.
So it was that as the town grew up and began to need a name, he called it Port Elizabeth after his dead wife – for that was her name.
A few years later, when the country was becoming settled, and a large number of happy homesteads were to be seen in every part of it, a sudden and horrible rush of blood-thirsty Kaffirs again took place; the peaceful homes were broken into, the farmers, their wives and children, were brutally murdered, their flocks and herds driven off, and their homes were left in heaps of smouldering ruins.
The Gallantry of Harry Smith
Help was urgently asked for from the Cape. Colonel Harry Smith was in command there, and he lost no time in making his way to the scene of action to direct opera- tions. He rode on horseback the whole of the way, changing to a fresh horse wherever he could, and in this way managed to do the six hundred miles from Capetown to Grahamstown in six days-a wonderful ride. But he