SOUTH-AFRICA-EASTERN-CAPE-L ArchivesArchiver > SOUTH-AFRICA-EASTERN-CAPE > 2005-12 > 1134335139
From: "Becky Horne" <>
Subject: Thomas Kibble BERESFORD - Part 2
Date: Sun, 11 Dec 2005 23:05:39 +0200
Thomas Kibble BERESFORD.
Continued from Part I.
The first of the equally fruitless efforts of the family to dispose of
the seven-year lease on these farms was in 1846, shortly after the
incident which precipitated the War of the Axe - "The extensive sheep
kraals can be well-defended by a few men against a host of
barbarians, the walls being 9 and 10 feet." These stone walls still
exist. The front windows of the homestead originally overlooked one
corner of the kraal, while a cottage standing at the opposite corner
overlooked the original sneeze-wood entrance gate. The former owner of
'Rietkuil', Mr. SAAYMAN, traced the remains of a stone wall indicating
that the kraal once enclosed the front of the homestead.
The homestead and the cottage were built of the same materials,
according to Mr. SAAYMAN. The homestead was erected "at great expense"
by the KEMP brothers of Bethelsdorp, who bought 'Rietkuil' in 1839 from
the London Missionary Society. The farm was also known by the Hottentot
name of 'Kakoo'.
Thomas and his brothers were of military age and the Colonists of the
Eastern Province came forward in large numbers and with great enthusiasm
to offer their services at the outset of the War of the Axe.
In Port Elizabeth the veteran soldier. Captain EVATT, was in charge of
operations. A Mounted Corps of fifty-two men began training under
William HARRIS. Two Corps of Foot were also formed, the First Corps
under Mr. GRIFFITHS and the Second Corps under Mr. JARVIS. The
Volunteers drilled daily and practised firing at targets with such zeal
that they were claimed to be ready to take the field even before the
Governor arrived from Cape Town a fortnight later.
Meanwhile traders and missionaries were leaving Kaffirland. A letter
written from across the Fish River warned: "The Kaffirs have all left
their places and gone to the Amatola with their families and stock. They
seem much excited by the preparations in the Colony. The Kaffirs can
muster 20,000 men, at least 4,000 mounted. They say they will not strike
the first blow, but if the English wish for war they are ready." Besides
an illicit trade in horses across the border, gun-running had furnished
the Xhosas with firearms.
"An officer of the customs at Port Elizabeth told me in the last ten
years to his knowledge 30.000 Birmingham muskets and
150 Ibs. of gunpowder had landed at Algoa Bay with the knowledge of the
Government," wrote Col. E. E. NAPIER.
When on the Governor's arrival the frontier troops began their march
against the Gaikas, they found the country deserted and the kraals
standing empty. Firing the deserted huts as they advanced, they
unwittingly gave the pre-arranged signal among the Xhosas for war. By
means of the signal fires of their scouts the whole of Kaffirland was
In the Colony from the Sundays River to the Great Fish the populace were
prepared to defend themselves - in laagers, in fortified homesteads,
stone churches, mills and school holdings. Near the Addo Bush a force of
Port Elizabeth burghers were placed in readiness to guard the supply
route to the frontier.
More to follow.
SOURCE: Looking Back, June 1978.