British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

the fugitives, the chief Neuka, against whom alone the incursion professed to be directed, had taken the alarm and retreated into the woods, with nearly all his people and property; so that it is said he has suffered comparatively but little loss, though upwards of 500 head of cattle have been brought into the colony.

Of the captured cattle, about two-thirds are said to have been given over by Colonel Somerset to the field-commandant Durant, for distribution among the burghers of Baviaan's River and Bruintjes Hoogte; the rest have been brought into the Albany district.

The number of Caffres killed in this expedition is not exactly known; but as the Boors fired upon the fugitives, in spite (as it is said) of orders to the contrary, from 10 to 20 souls are supposed to have been wantonly sacrificed, chiefly women and children.

Two Europeans, a soldier and a settler, who had straggled from the commando on its return, were killed by the exasperated Caffres.

Upon the whole, this expedition appears to have been undertaken without necessity, and executed without discretion. There have not been very recently any depredations on the frontier; and the information which Colonel Somerset had obtained (from his Caffre spies, it is supposed) respecting a considerable number of stolen horses being in the possession of the chief Neuka, appears to have been altogether false or much exaggerated. No horses were recaptured, nor any traces of them found, and only a very few colonial oxen. Besides, supposing Colonel Somerset's information correct, was it justifiable to exasperate the Caffres by hostilities, and expose the frontier colonists to reprisals, without at least making some attempt to procure restitution by fair and peaceable means, which of late have seldom been found to fail with the frontier chiefs?

If the justice and expediency of this incursion be very questionable, the mode of conducting it is not less so. Tribes at peace and amity with the colony have been blunderingly attacked and wantonly fired upon; all by mere mistake, it seems. Innocent blood has been spilt, and unoffending people plundered; warlike chiefs have been grievously injured and provoked, the Caffre traders and advanced settlers endangered, and the whole eastern frontier thrown into alarm and confusion. . . .


26
LORD GODERICH TO GOVERNOR SIR LOWRY COLE, 26 May 18311

SIR,

I have had under my consideration the report which you have transmitted to my Under Secretary of State on the present condition of the Hottentot settlement, which has recently been formed at the

____________________
1

Parl. Papers, 1835 (252), vol. xxxix, pp. 56-57.

-515-

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