The Matabele Campaign of 1893 - the march on Bulawayo

Dr Jameson may have decided on 18 July 1893 that the only solution was a military one,  [i   ]  the actual Matabele Campaign only began on 5 October, the day on which Sir Henry Loch, the High Commissioner of Southern Africa, telegraphed his permission for the three columns to move from Salisbury (now Harare) Victoria and Tuli. The months of August, September and October 1893 were spent making preparations for the Matabele Campaign. Within a month, on 4 November the combined Salisbury and Bulawayo columns marched into Bulawayo, the royal capital of Lobengula who had fled to the north, and the Campaign, apart from the pursuit of the King, was over. 

The question of why the Matabele Campaign came about is answered in a series of article on this website under Masvingo province that include: 
(1) The build-up to the 1893 Matabele Campaign
(2) Re-examining the events leading up to the ‘Victoria incident’
(3) The Newton Commission conclusions on the ‘Victoria incident’
(4) The 1893 invasion of Matabeleland and the roles played by Jameson, Lobengula, Loch and Rhodes 
   Map used with consent from Window on Rhodesia with the site name:
   Adapted from Stafford Glass – the amaNdebele border or boundary (both terms are used) as understood
   by Jameson along the Munyati (Umniati) a line south to the Shashe river, then along the Tokwe. Their raiding
   area after 1891 indicated by the pink coloured area  
The combined Salisbury and Victoria Column, controlled by Rhodes and Jameson, won the significant battles and reached Bulawayo ahead of the Southern Column that was controlled by Sir Henry Loch, the High Commissioner for Southern Africa. By so doing, Matabeleland became part of the territory claimed by the British South Africa Company rather than by the British Crown.     
Organising the Salisbury Column
Major Patrick Forbes [ii   ]   was in command of the Salisbury Volunteer Corps in 1893 – the British South Africa Company (BSACo) Police force having been reduced to the barest minimum numbers to reduce the Chartered Company’s administration expenses. [iii   ]  On the 19 July the big amaNdebele impi raiders were driven out of the Victoria district. All the settlers mining and agricultural activities had been brought to a standstill, their Mashona workers had fled in terror with over 400 men, women and children killed and Jameson concluded that the only course of action would be to break the power of the amaNdebele once and for all. 
On that day Andrew H.F. Duncan, who in the absence of Dr Jameson at Victoria, was acting Chief Magistrate at Salisbury and Forbes were in the telegraphic office when Jameson laid out his plans. Three columns would converge simultaneously on Bulawayo from Salisbury, Victoria and Tuli with Forbes in command of the Salisbury Column, the Victoria Column under Captain Lendy (later Allan Wilson) then acting Resident Magistrate and the Tuli Column under Captain Raaff, then Tuli Magistrate. 
Jameson’s original plan was that the forces would be mounted with 100 Martini-Henry rounds per man, but with no wagons and oxen with the men obtaining their food from native kraals and aiming to be at Bulawayo before Christmas and the onset of the rains. 
The transport question
Forbes did not consider 100 rounds per man as sufficient and as he required 250 horses there was a problem of feed. The horses would have to be bought in the Transvaal or Free State and driven 600 miles (966 km) in the Southern African winter when there is little grazing to be had. The least number of wagons required for forage and ammunition and for the purpose of forming a small laager was twelve and finally Jameson agreed to them. 
Altogether about 750 horses were ordered, many by Captain Raaff, others by Messrs Zeederberg and Kirton. The decision was made to meet the Salisbury column’s horses at Charter which saved the horses 60 miles (97 km) and was convenient for the coach road to Gwelo. 
The Salisbury Column
All the men were volunteers. [iv   ] Forbes first intention was to have four Troops of fifty mounted men each that he named the Salisbury Horse and fifty men manning two Maxim guns [v   ] on ‘galloping’ carriages, one one-pounder shell Maxim gun and a Gardner gun. 
                     Major P.W. Forbes                                                                     Capt M. Heany
Making up the numbers proved impossible, so the force was settled on three Troops of fifty mounted men each, two Troops which had a galloping Maxim with ten men, one dismounted Troop of fifty men, one seven-pounder gun and a Nordenfelt gun.    
Maurice Heany was put in charge of A Troop, H.F. ‘Skipper’ Hoste of B Troop and Arthur Eyre of C Troop, but Hoste and Eyre objected to the small number of wagons and were replaced by Captains Borrow and Spreckley, both well-known in Mashonaland.    
                             Capt J.A. Spreckley                                                                                        Capt H.J. Borrow
Many of the saddles required repair, but this was carried out. The whole force was armed with Martini-Henry rifles using .577/450 black powder cartridges, most had bayonets and almost everyone had a revolver. Each person had a khaki tunic, cord breeches, hat, gaiters, bandolier, haversack, waterproof sheet or cavalry cloak and was allowed two blankets and private kit up to 20 lbs (9 kgs) in weight.  
Victoria Column
Dr Jameson carried out the same preparations in Victoria. Capt Lendy, the Magistrate, declined to take command of the column although he accepted the artillery command, and Capt (later Major) Allan Wilson was appointed on 31 August 1893. 
         Major A. Wilson, commanding the Victoria Column                                           Capt C.F. Lendy
Photo NAZ: Officers of the Victoria Column: Standing (L-R) Lt Stoddart, Lt Hofmeyer, Capt Bastard, Lt Harris, Lt Chalk, Capt Fitzgerald, Adjutant Kennelly, Lt Molyneux, Lt Bowne, Lt Simpson. Seated (L-R) Capt Judd, Capt Lendy, Major Wilson, Capt Rixon, Lt Hamilton. Front (L-R) Lt Ware, Lt Williams, Mr Swan, Capt Greenfield, Lt Beal
The Artillery Troop under Captain Lendy trained at Victoria at the Fort, the remainder camped 5 miles (8 km) north of Victoria. When Sir John Willoughby arrived at Victoria on 7 September he found great progress had been made, but the horses and dismounted men from Tuli were still awaited. 
Summary of the Salisbury and Victoria Column forces

Against them Oliver Ransford estimates that Lobengula had 15,000 warriors. (Bulawayo, Historic Battleground of Rhodesia, P54)

The Tuli Column – later to join the Bechuanaland Border Police (BBP) as the Southern Column
Captain Raaff was authorised to purchase 750 horses as speedily as possible and to organise a British South Africa Company (BSACo) volunteer force of 250 mounted men to be recruited from Tuli and the surrounding districts. Both Sir Henry Loch and the directors of the BSACo were kept in the dark about these plans. [vi   ] Transvaal Boers however proved reluctant to join and most of the volunteers came from Johannesburg. The original plan called for 50 pack horses, but finally wagon transport was used and Raaff could not collect as many horses as planned. The Victoria Column’s 3 Troop and 4 Troop were unmounted and there was an infantry detachment under Capt Delamere.  
                 Captain P.J. Raaff of the Tuli Column                         Lt-Col H. Goold-Adams of the Bechuanaland Border Police (BBP)
Sir Henry Loch needed time to complete his own preparations. The first was getting Chief Khama III and his Bamangwato forces to join Goold-Adams and the BBP. The second was getting Raaff’s force that had arrived at Tuli on 23 September to Tati. 
Mon 2 Oct - Loch asked Goold-Adams if he would take Raaff’s force under his command. Goold-Adams replied, “The Tuli party would greatly strengthen any column under my command, and I should be glad to have them.”  
Tues 3 Oct – Loch asked Goold-Adams that with 250 BBP men, 200 of Raaff’s men and 1,000 of Khama’s men if he could make a successful advance on Bulawayo before the rains started. 
Clearly Loch delayed giving Jameson’s forces permission to move until the 5 October because he did not want Jameson’s columns to have any advantage in reaching Bulawayo before Goold-Adams. His instructions to Goold-Adams clearly show that he wanted to Southern Column to be at Bulawayo first, but in this objective Goold-Adams let him down. 
Fri 6 Oct - Dr Jameson wired Loch to say, “both the Charter [Salisbury] and Victoria columns are now moving forward…” although the Salisbury column had in fact moved out on 2 October and the Victoria column had been camped 5 miles outside Victoria since 7 September. The same day Jameson wired Raaff to say he and his force were to report to Goold-Adams and were to put themselves under his command. The BBP were now ordered to take part in the Matabeleland campaign, and reinforced by the Tuli force with its wagons, would form the Southern column under the overall command of Lt-Col Goold-Adams. Forbes and Wilson agreed to meet at Iron Mine Hill on 14 October. [vii   ]
Mon 9 Oct – Jameson and Rhodes were well aware that Loch wanted Goold-Adams to be at Bulawayo before the British South Africa Company columns. Raaff was secretly told to delay his move to Tati for a week which he did, a furious wire from Loch on this day made him move. The race was on, the Southern Column had an advantage in the more open country to negotiate and the well-trodden Hunter’s Road, but Jameson was confident his force would defeat the amaNdebele and be at Bulawayo first.  
Wed 11 Oct – Captain Raaff’s men from Tuli join Lt-Col Goold-Adam’s BBP. The BBP had 225 officers and men, 210 horses, four Maxim guns, two seven-pounder guns, fourteen wagons and fifty native drivers and leaders. Capt Raaff also had 225 officers and men, 191 horses, one Maxim gun and eleven wagons with native drivers and leaders. 
Fri 13 Oct – At the Shashe river a contingent of 145 mounted men of the BBP and 70 mounted men of the BSACo reached the Shashe river where they met Chief Khami of the Bamangwato with 130 mounted men and 1,700 dismounted men, about half of whom were armed with Martini-Henry rifles. [viii    ]
Wed 18 Oct – the wagon train reaches the Shashe river
Thurs 19 Oct – the combined force moves onto Tati. The remainder of the Southern Column’s progress to Bulawayo can be read in the article below. 
Although the actual fighting done by the Southern Column on their march to Bulawayo was limited [See the article The Southern Column’s skirmish at the Singuesi river on 2 November 1893 revisited under Matabeleland South on the website] its real impact was in dividing the amaNdebele forces into two bodies. No less than 8,000 warriors from twenty-three kraals under Gambo, the King’s brother-in-law were sent to intercept the Southern Column. But Gambo’s men became disheartened by news of the defeats on Lobengula’s army at the battles of Shangani and Bembesi and decided to retreat. 
Goold-Adams’ Southern Column was also able to supply food to the Salisbury and Victoria Columns which, on their arrival at Bulawayo, had been reduced to three or four days rations.    
There is no doubt that Rhodes and Dr Jameson wanted the combined Salisbury and Victoria Column to reach Bulawayo before the Southern Column and claim Matabeleland for the BSACo. This was achieved, Bulawayo being occupied on 4 November by them, the Southern Column only arrived on 14 November. One of the delaying tactics was to tell Raaff not to move from Tuli to Tati for a week after the Salisbury and Victoria Columns had started. Other delays occurred with misunderstandings between Loch and Goold-Adams due to communication delays and also the withdrawal of Chief Khama III and his Bamangwato force. 
Matabele Campaign 1893 timeline
Sun 9 July – an amaNdebele impi commenced killing Mashona in Fort Victoria (Masvingo) region
Tue 18 July - Jameson's Indaba at Fort Victoria. The amaNdebele are dispersed by Capt Lendy and his patrol with force
Salisbury Column - Salisbury (Harare) - Fort Charter
Tues 28 Aug – An advance party under Capt. Finch leaves for Fort Charter accompanied by his assistant Mr Garden and four others, including two farriers. They are to receive the horses at Charter and prepare the camp for the Salisbury column.
Tues 5 Sep – The Salisbury column under Major Forbes parades at 1:30pm and after some delay getting the oxen in for the wagons, now numbering sixteen, to include a month’s rations for the men, they marched off at 3pm reaching six-mile spruit by evening. All the residents of Salisbury gave them a good send-off.                     
Wed 6 Sep - Cross Hunyani (Manyame) river at daybreak with double ox-spans
Thurs 7 Sep - Continue on about 12 miles (19 km) 59 horses arrive at Charter.
Fri 8 Sep - Cross the Umfuli river (Mupfure) and laager
Sun 10 Sep - Reach Fort Charter and camp on the south bank of the Ngezi stream. The few horses (59) that 
had arrived were good quality, but in poor condition. The three weeks are used to practice skirmishing, outpost duty, rifle and revolver shooting and for general drilling and training. The oxen are rested.
Thurs 14 Sep - 109 horses arrive at Charter in good condition, enough for the three mounted Troops.
Sat 23 Sep - 40 horses arrive from Salisbury and another 18 from Victoria
Sat 30 Sep – Dr Jameson and Sir John Willoughby, his Chief Staff Officer, visit Fort Charter where a parade is held followed by a smoking concert where Jameson spoke and told them the BBP would advance from Tati.
                                 Dr L.S. Jameson                                                                                                 Major Sir J. Willoughby
The Order of March
Forbes writes a mounted Troop comprised a Captain, two Lieutenants, a Troop Sergeant-Major, two Sergeants, four Corporals, one Trumpeter and forty-eight Troopers divided into twelve sections. (i.e. four Troopers to a section)  
The advance guard consisted of three sections supported by another three sections with a ‘galloping’ Maxim drawn by four mules. The right flanking party was made up of three sections on the outside supported by three sections on the inside. A second mounted Troop with a ‘galloping’ Maxim made up the rear guard and right flanking party. The third mounted Troop remained in reserve within the column. 
The sixteen wagons travelled in a double line about fifty yards apart, the right column was headed by the Scotch cart owned by Mr Acutt, the left column was headed by the seven-pounder gun pulled by ten oxen. The Nordenfelt gun, which had no limber, was carried on the artillery wagon that followed the seven-pounder gun, and the Gardner gun, pulled by six oxen, was at the rear of the right column.   
The wagons in the right-hand column were - Staff, A Troop, A Troop, Hospital, C Troop, Commissariat, Commissariat, D Troop. Wagons in the left-hand column were - Artillery, B Troop, B Troop, Commissariat, Commissariat, Commissariat, Commissariat, Forge. The loads were comparatively light, the heaviest being less than 5,000 lbs. [ix   
Each wagon carried some Martini-Henry (M.H.) ammunition and two boxes (2,000 rounds) were kept open at the front of each wagon. 176,000 rounds of .577/450 calibre M.H. ammunition were carried, with each mounted Trooper carrying 50 rounds in his bandolier and 50 rounds in his wallets. There were 150 seven-pounder shells, 5,000 rounds of revolver ammunition, two dozen socket signals, seven dozen one-pound signal rockets and two dozen magnesium flares. 
From Charter about forty days full rations were carried for the men, including spare oxen for meat and three days’ mealies for the horses with additional supplies at Dawson’s cattle post ahead. 
Laagers were formed daily as soon as Charter was left and used throughout and after practice took two to three minutes to form on the march. The laager gave room for all the men and horses inside, the oxen were picketed in front of the right, left and rear faces. Each driver had two three-feet steel posts to fasten the ends of the trek-tow down and to tie the span of oxen. When tied down the oxen took little space and formed an additional obstacle with a layer of thorn bush under the wagons not fronted by oxen. The whole laager could be completed with thorn bush in 10 – 15 minutes.   
Salisbury Column – Fort Charter – Iron Mine Hill
Sun 1 Oct – news received that Capt White’s patrol had followed up the trail of an amaNdebele impi that had crossed the Shashe river [x   ] to capture Mashona cattle. The impi were encountered at a kraal 8 miles (13 km) across ‘the border’ and were fired upon before returning fire and retiring. Jameson wires Loch that Capt Brabant who is out with a scouting party reports that along the headwaters of the Tokwe and Lundi rivers as far as Chibi’s kraals, the spoor of 6 – 7,000 warriors has been seen.  
Mon 2 Oct – The Salisbury column leaves Fort Charter to first water, trekking 6 miles (10 km)
Tues 3 Oct - Forbes writes that they follow the wagon road from Salisbury to Bulawayo  ‘almost due west’ to what he calls the ‘Intaba Insimbi Hills’ [xi   ]  and after covering 11 miles (18 km) reach Dawson's disused cattle post approximately at present-day Featherstone.
Wed 4 Oct - Stay at Dawson's cattle post waiting orders from Jameson. Forbes rides back to Fort Charter with Capt Finch and Dr Edgelow for a telegraphic talk with Jameson and Wilson. 
Thurs 5 Oct - Stay at Dawson's cattle post. The same day Lt-Col Goold-Adams reported that a Bechuanaland Border Police (BBP) patrol of an NCO and two men was fired upon by thirty amaNdebele between the Shashe river and Macloutsie and returned fire. 
On this day Loch sends Jameson the message that he has been waiting for, “Whatever your plans are with regard to the advance of the columns from Fort Charter and from Fort Victoria, they had better now be carried out…” [xii   ] 
Fri 6 Oct – Trekked 6.5 miles (11 km) to Dawson's other cattle post
Sat 7 Oct – trekked 2 miles (3 km) and diverted from the wagon road to stay in open country and built a drift across an east bank tributary of the Umniati river
Sun 8 Oct - Jameson confirms the column should push-on to Iron Mine Hill, 86 miles (138 km) away and that Raaff’s Tuli column is joining the BBP under Lt-Col. Goold-Adams at Tuli. Trekked 7 miles (12 km) today.
Mon 9 Oct – The native contingent ahead of the column made a drift across the Umniati (Munyati) river, the Matabele "border" and then another drift over another west bank tributary of the Umniati. 2.5 miles (4 km) covered.
Tues 10 Oct – a scouting party under Capt Williams is sent along the west bank of the Umniati to the wagon road, to follow it for 20 miles (32 km) and then cut back to the column looking for signs of amaNdebele impis (a three day mission) A Troop to scout ahead for Iron Mine Hill and return to guide the column. Trekked 10 miles (16 km) Native guides pointed out the direction of Iron Mine Hill
Wed 11 Oct – Built a drift and crossed the Sebakwe river and then reached the Umvuma river and laagered on the east bank. 9 miles (14 km) covered
Thurs 12 Oct – found a good drift and crossed the Umvuma river, let the oxen graze on the good grass before trekking 5 miles (8 km) in the afternoon. A Troop returns with two guides who live near Iron Mine Hill. There have been no sightings of amaNdebele. 
Fri 13 Oct – Gave the oxen another feed and after 9 miles (14 km) laagered on the headwaters of the Bembezana river 
Sat 14 Oct - Reached Iron Mine Hill "Sigala" or ‘Tshimhanguru’ in the morning on the Zambesi / Limpopo watershed after trekking 2 miles (3 km) A total of 76 miles (122 km) have been trekked since Charter. At the top of the hill was a note left by the Victoria scouts the previous day. The local guides pointed out Ndema’s kraal 6 miles (10 km) to the south west where some of the cattle stolen from Victoria were being kept and Forbes decided to recover them. The Victoria column scouts arrive in the afternoon and say their column should arrive the following night. Communicated with the Victoria column by heliograph. Dr Jameson and Sir John Willoughby reach the Salisbury column laager. In the afternoon move 2 miles (3 km) west-south-west to better water on present-day Finland Farm. [xiii   
Sun 15 Oct – Left the laager at 3 am with 60 Troopers (20 each from A, B and C Troops) But the kraals were further than the native guides had indicated and only met the cattle after 10 miles (16 km) Capt Heany drove back 250 head to the laager. Major Forbes took 10 Troopers with him to visit the Mashona headman, Ndaima (Ndema) They had just reached his kraal in the Umtebekwe Valley when 12-15 amaNdebele appeared armed with rifles and assegais. They were moving back to the laager when a messenger came and said Capt Campbell had been seriously wounded. They had gone to assist with the roundup of 300 cattle and Campbell was shot through the right hip. He was escorted back to camp, but the hip was shattered, despite all the doctors attending and carrying out an amputation, he died the next day. [xiv   ]  More of the Victoria scouts come in and report they had a skirmish the previous day and killed 22 amaNdebele and took 150 head of cattle. They reported a large impi of 7,000 in the vicinity, the Salisbury column went into laager, but it turned out to be a false alarm. Captain Williams’ scouting party returns after 6 days, but no amaNdebele have been seen.    
Map 1 – Salisbury Column leaves Charter for Iron Mine Hill, adapted from 1:250,000 map sheet SE-36-9 Hartley;  this map is used with consent from Window on Rhodesia  with the site name:
Daily Duties
A different Captain and Lieutenant were appointed on duty each day. A mounted Troop came on duty at 6pm each day forming the outlying pickets for that night and the pickets the following day. Night pickets consisted of three double white (i.e. six men and an NCO) and three single native pickets (i.e. three men and an NCO) stationed not more than 200 yards away from and around the laager so there was a continuous moving circle of sentries around the laager. Another Troop formed the inlying picket and in the event of an alarm immediately saddled up their horses. 
They changed at daybreak and the number of days’ pickets depended on the surrounding country and were stationed on the edge of the day’s grazing area. When on an alert, six men and an NCO were posted at each Maxim and a sentry along each face of the laager. The only entrance to the laager was at the left rear corner and was made by the Maxim being drawn back. 
Each evening there was a general parade and every man was told his place in case of an alarm. Each wagon had eight men, with A Troop on the right of the laager and B Troop on the left with each man sleeping as near his post as possible.  
Native servants were permitted and they, as well as wagon-drivers and leaders (voorloopers) were armed. They were very reliable on night picket duty with superior hearing and sight at night.
Horses were fastened to picket lines with their saddles close behind them. Forbes and his staff slept on or under the ‘staff’ wagon with socket signal and one pound rocket at the ready. 
Forbes says discipline was excellent – two men were discharged at Charter and only one other white man was disciplined. 
Victoria Column from Fort Victoria (Masvingo) to Iron Mine Hill
Wed 4 Oct – The Victoria column leaves its training camp 5 km north of Victoria
Fri 6 Oct – The column is trekking via Chatsworth and the old BSACo Police post station at Makori near where it turned off the road going north west in the direction of Iron Mine Hill and laagered after 8 miles (13 km) but making a detour to avoid the very broken district around Chilimanzi’s.
Sun 8 Oct –Stay in laager 38 miles (60 km) from Victoria waiting for the artillery detachment and the dismounted men enlisted at Tuli. Dr Jameson and Willoughby leave Victoria to join the column the next day.
Mon 9 Oct –Scouts report amaNdebele were in the vicinity of Chilimanzi’s kraal, but they have withdrawn back to the Shangani river. 
Tues 10 Oct - The artillery detachment under Capt Lendy and the 56 dismounted men arrive at the laager. The latter have marched 240 miles (386 km) from Tuli in 12 days of excellent progress. 
Wed 11 Oct – stay in laager, this gave the horses that had travelled from the Transvaal, a much needed rest as there was good grazing. The original plan was to attack Chilimanzi and Ndema, powerful Maholi chiefs, who are reported as hostile, but both sent friendly messages and presents of oxen, so it was decided to move onto Iron Mine Hill and combine forces with the Salisbury Column.  
Jack Carruthers; “Matabele Wilson was our column guide. He and Manyesi, the Matabele who always accompanied him, kept with the column. We were guided entirely by the compass, the topography of the country and our veld sense day by day. Our daily ride on scout duty at the head of the column was very exciting, every mile of the 200 miles of unknown territory was cautiously investigated. This is still so impressed on my memory that the undertaking seems only of yesterday.” [xv   ]
Thurs 12 Oct – Laager on the east bank of the Shashe river near Chaka’s kraal after slow progress through thick sand and crossing the Shagashi river. Trek 7 miles (11 km) Capt Brabant’s and Mr Quested’s native contingents begin scouting duties at least one trek ahead and flanking to both sides of the main column. 
Fri 13 Oct – Cross the Shashe river, the amaNdebele border, then the Tetekwe river doing two treks of 7 miles (11 km) and 5 miles (8 km) and halting 1.5 miles (2 km) from the Matonga river. Dr Jameson and Sir John Willoughby ride ahead of the column sleeping with Capt White’s scouts near Makamia’s kraal.
Clearly reports of the amaNdebele military threat by wire to Loch are exaggerated
Dr Jameson and Willoughby rode alone for 50 miles (80 km) from Victoria on 8 October to join the Victoria Column. On 13 Oct they slept with the scouts ahead of the Victoria Column and then rode on alone again when the Victoria Column was 30 miles from Iron Mine Hill. Clearly they were not that anxious about being intercepted by an amaNdebele force! Stafford Glass writes, “It would appear that such Matabele as were encountered were not more than small parties guarding cattle. On 17 October friendly natives told the advancing whites that they did not know of any impi in the neighbourhood.”  [xvi   ]
Sat 14 Oct – Jameson and Willoughby cross the Ngezi river reaching the high plateau and open country and reach Iron Mine Hill at 5pm. Here they join the Salisbury column at present-day Finland Farm, the water supply at Iron Mine Hill being insufficient for the two column’s oxen and horses.
Sun 15 Oct – Victoria column follows behind through the present-day Chilimanzi Communal Lands
Mon 16 Oct – Victoria column reaches Iron Mine Hill at 8 am, then moves 2 miles (3 km) west-south-west to better water on present-day Finland Farm having travelled 86 miles (138 km) from Victoria. 
Map 2 – Victoria Column leaves for Iron Mine Hill, adapted from 1:250,000 map sheet SE-36-13 Selukwe;  this map is used with consent from Window on Rhodesia  with the site name:
Salisbury and Victoria combined Columns
The combined strength was as follows:
The artillery under the overall command of Capt Lendy comprised two seven-pounder guns, one one-pounder Hotchkiss gun, five ‘galloping’ Maxims, one Nordenfelt and one Gardner. All the rifles used M.H. cartridges and individuals could bring their own rifles so long as they used M.H. ammunition.
Salisbury and Victoria Columns Order of March
The Salisbury column always stayed on the right on the march and always supplied the right flanking party, the Victoria column the left, each of one Troop of about 40 men, half in extended line and the other half with a ‘galloping’ Maxim acting as support.  
                  Victoria laager diamond arrangement                                                            Salisbury laager rectangle arrangement
Map 3 – Salisbury and Victoria Columns combine at Iron Mine Hill leaving on the 17 October 1893, adapted from 1:250,000 map sheet SE-36-13 Selukwe;  this map is used with consent from Window on Rhodesia  with the site name:
Combined Salisbury / Victoria columns from Iron Mine Hill to Gwelo (Gweru)
Mon 16 Oct – Capt Campbell buried with full honours. [xvii   ] Forbes writes, “I think there were a good many people standing round the grave that evening who realised for the first time that what we had undertaken was no child's play, but stern reality and that poor Campbell’s fate might at any time be the fate of one or all of us; but there could be no turning back now; we had undertaken the work and had to go through with it.” [xviii   ]
Tues 17 Oct – The 450 captured cattle were too many to handle, Capt Brabant sent 362 back to Victoria with a trusted induna and 100 of his native contingent. Captain White and the scouts move 10 miles (16 km) ahead of the column to give about an hour’s notice of any attack. Two amaNdebele accused of witchcraft (Umtagati) proved excellent guides, especially the elder one, Mayesi, in keeping the column on the watershed. Percy Wood died in the night and was buried near Capt Campbell. 
The combined columns trekked 10.5 miles (17 km) and laagered 2 kms west north west of Fort Gibbs generally keeping about 300 yards (274 metres) apart where the ground permitted. The Victoria dismounted men on the left of the column, the Salisbury dismounted men on the right. The native contingents went ahead of the wagons and cut roads and made drifts. 
Wed 18 Oct – Two wagons came from Victoria and joined the Salisbury column, making 18 wagons. The headwaters of the Que Que (Kwekwe river) had steep banks and caused some delay whilst two drifts were cut about 800 yards apart and each column laagered west of each drift after crossing. Some scouts came in with reports of 4,000 amaNdebele, that turned out a false alarm, as they turned out to be 100 Mashona auxiliaries. Trekked another 5 miles (8 km) in the afternoon.
Thurs 19 Oct - Rest day as the grazing for the oxen and horses was good. 
Fri 20 Oct - Passed old gold workings, crossed Gwelo (Gweru) river which was dry and laagered under Ugogo kopje on present-day Daylesford farm. Trekked about 11 miles (18 km) Captain Williams took 5 scouts to see if the Insukameni regiment was occupying their kraal about 12 miles (19 km) to the north west. Capt Williams was unable to get close, but heard voices, so Major Wilson left at midnight with 100 mounted men and 2 Maxims and burned down the abandoned Insukameni kraals next morning, returning next afternoon.
Combined Salisbury / Victoria columns from Gwelo (Gweru) to Shangani river
Sat 21 Oct – The columns passed south of Ugogo (Gweru kopje) onto wide open flats laagering that night 5 kms east of present-day Willoughby railway siding. To the west of the laager about 3 miles (5 km) could be seen the Somabula forest and a likely spot for an amaNdebele attack. Forbes waited for Wilson and Dr Jameson to rejoin the column before proceeding through it. 
Sun 22 Oct – Reached the edge of the Somabula forest, a great deal of cutting was required to advance through it and a fog came down making it an anxious time. Made a drift across the Somabula river, a headwaters tributary of the Vungu river also caused delays and everyone was relieved to be out of the forest and on high open ground before a laager was made on the eastern bank of the Vungu river. 
Clearly if the amaNdebele Regiments had come across the columns in the Somabula forest the military outcome might have been different. They were waiting in ambush, but the columns passed unobserved south of the ambushers in the forest due to the thick fog. In the afternoon the Vungu river itself was crossed without difficulty as it was nearly dry before proceeding on a further 4 miles (6 km) Captain White had a short skirmish with a small party of amaNdebele. 
Mon 23 Oct – the day started with another dense fog and their guide became lost and after 2 miles (3 km) they laagered on the east bank of the north flowing Vunguane river. Breakfast was made and by 9 am the fog had lifted. Captain Williams and a small party went forward to inspect some Maholi kraals about 10 miles (16 km) ahead. The column trekked about 6 miles (10 km) and laagered on the west bank of the Tyabensi river. About 3pm Maurice Gifford rode in to say Edward Burnett [xix   ] had been shot in the stomach at a kraal about 2 miles west of the Shangani river and was dangerously wounded. Drs Jameson and Edgelow rode out to assist, but were unable to find the kraal, but in any event Burnett had died half-an-hour after being wounded and Capt Williams brought back his body after dark. They had visited the kraal and been told by an old man and woman there were no amaNdebele about, just Maholis, and as Burnett walked up to a hut to see if he could get some grain, a shot was fired and he fell. The hut was set alight and a man killed.   
Map 4 – Combined column continue towards Bulawayo, adapted from 1:250,000 map sheet SE-35-16 Gwelo;  this map is used with consent from Window on Rhodesia  with the site name:
Tues 24 Oct – Early start, trekked 7 miles (11 km) over open country and laagered on a small stream a mile from the Shangani river. Once the laager was formed Forbes and Wilson rode down to the Shangani and found two locations for drifts. The native contingent started work cutting the banks and the two officers crossed the river to seek a laager spot. The bush was thick near the river, but about 1,000 yards from the river was an open ridge large enough to take both laagers. 
By 3pm the drifts were made and the oxen inspanned. Two Troops were sent with two Maxims and the seven-pounder onto a small kopje on the west bank and to cover the wagons crossing. Troop B under Capt Borrow was sent over to some hills north of the proposed laager position and 1 Troop under Capt Fitzgerald to the south to destroy any kraals and prevent any attack from the south. The eighteen wagons of the Salisbury column crossed in 16 minutes; the eighteen wagons of the Victoria column took 19 minutes to cross and within 90 minutes of starting all the wagons were laagered on the open ridge. That night was the first the two laagers were only 150 yards apart with a thick thorn fence between them. 
Messrs Arnold and Quested recruited extra Mashonas so there were about 900 at the laager and they proved most useful in cutting thorn bush for the laagers, making cattle kraals and driving captured cattle. The women and children captured in 1892 from Gutu and Bira’s kraals were delighted to be freed. Captains Borrow and Fitzgerald brought in extra captured animals so that they numbered about 1,000 cattle and 900 sheep and goats and a temporary kraal was made for them before night set in about 200 yards to the east of the laager. AmaNdebele kraals in the neighbourhood were also burned down, but little grain was available. Mr Quested’s natives made a kraal about 600 yards to the north east of the laager and nearer the Shangani river. 
Now that the laagers were joined, the pickets were rearranged with Victoria laager providing five pickets of six white men each and Salisbury laager providing three pickets of six white men each and two pickets of three natives each. They were posted before dark by the duty Captains and formed a complete circle around the laager. That evening a socket signal was sent up, followed by two rockets in case there were scouts from the southern Column in the vicinity. 
Every morning the men were woken by 4 am and manned their positions, they slept fully-dressed, and in boots, with their M.H. rifle beside them – this was the Amandebeles favourite time to attack.     
Edwin Eugene Bradfield, “We joined the Salisbury Column near Iron Mine Hill, they keeping the right flank, we the left and we travelled parallel all the way to Bulawayo. Some of the small spruits and rivers gave us a good deal of trouble. Each night we formed into one laager, the wagons pulling into a diamond shape with the cattle and horses picketed inside. Near Lalapanzi, one of our men, Percy Woods died, and we buried him there. Nothing further bothered us as far as Gwelo and we were pleased to find open country where cattle could feed in quiet and the guards feel more easy. 
The columns held to the open country out past Somabula where we first came in touch with the Matabele. Captain Chas White and Bob Carruthers brought in shields from natives they had killed, a bit north of the moving columns. On occasion weather conditions forced us to laager up and lay over. Just before reaching Shangani river we buried Ted Burnett who died from wounds received from a native who was stowed away in a kraal. It was now becoming exciting, as the scouts were bringing in news of the Matabele having left traces of five oxen which had been killed and eaten by an impi that very day. When we reached the river, we halted to prepare a drift, then crossed and pulled up to the top of a rise where we formed a laager for the night, cutting away the timber all round for a clearing. This made us realise the nearness of the enemy.” [xx   ] 
Wed 25 Oct – The Battle of Shangani (Bonko)
See the article The Battle of Shangani (Bonko) under Matabeleland South on the website
Thurs 26 Oct – During the night one of the Victoria pickets fired off an accidental shot, the alarm sounded at once, and patrols were sent out. The columns started at 6 am and trekked 5 miles (8 km) to the Manzimnyama river that was quickly crossed and the next laager formed a mile to the west of the river. All the nearby kraals were deserted, but 3-4 wagons of grain were obtained. The kraals of the Jingen and Zinyangene regiments were not far to the north and Capt Heany with A Troop was sent to burn them down. In the afternoon the columns trekked on 4.5 miles (8 km) and laagered on an open ridge. Captain Williams had gone out to join Heany’s patrol, they were cut off for a period, but galloped through under heavy fire. However Williams’ horse bolted back towards the Shangani. That evening rockets were sent up to guide him in, but he was never seen again. There was some excitement when Capt Heany’s galloper came in saying they were retiring before a large body of natives. Twenty mounted men were sent out with two Maxim guns to cover their retreat.  
Fri 27 Oct – Next morning they had trekked about 3 miles (5 km) with Capt Spreckley and C Troop on the right flank when heavy firing was heard from their position. The order was given to laager and B Troop under Capt Borrow was sent out to support C Troop. Whilst they were laagering a Victoria column scout came in to say a large force of amaNdebele were on that flank, but that proved to be a false report.
Capt Spreckley had come under heavy fire and was forced to retire, but when reinforced by B Troop, they managed to drive the amaNdebele back, killing a number of them. Trooper Lucas was pulled off his horse, but rescued by Trooper Halforty, who killed his assailant with his revolver, but wounded Trooper Lucas in the process through his right arm and leg     
The columns laagered 2 miles further on with a large body of AmaNdebele on a kopje about 3,000 yards away visible from the laager. Forbes sent out Capt Borrow with B Troop and Capt Bastard with 2 Troop to try and draw them in, but only some slight skirmishing occurred. Forbes wanted to remain here to send a patrol out for Capt Williams, but the site had little water so they moved about a mile south in the afternoon. From this location they could see the Enxna kraal of Umgandan, the young induna killed at Victoria on 18 July. In the afternoon Capt Hurrell and a young Dutchman arrived from Victoria with despatches from Dr Jameson and in the night Messrs Dunne and Harrison arrived from Charter with duplicate despatches. Both parties reported they had not seen any amaNdebele on their journeys across country.  
Sat 28 Oct – the columns did not trek this day. John Selous and Ghert took a spare horse, food and medicine and rode out at night in a further attempt to find Capt Williams. The pair returned the next evening, they had followed Capt Williams’ spoor into the rocky kopjes west of the Shangani battle-site but were fired upon and returned. Forbes sent Capt Borrow and B Troop with John Selous and they followed Capt Williams’ spoor for some miles but lost it a few miles west of the Shangani river. [xxi    ]   
Captain Spreckley searched amongst nearby deserted kraals and found about 60 bags of grain and some cattle. Capt Lendy took the seven-pounder 1.5 miles from the laager and tried shelling the Enxna kraal, but the shells fell short. Capt Heany then took six volunteers with him, burnt the kraal down, and brought back fifty cattle. Capt Hurrell and John Selous rode east to trace Capt Williams’ spoor but found nothing more and continued on to Victoria. 
Sun 29 Oct – Trekking started at 6 am through rather broken country for the first 2 miles before reaching open ground on the southern slope of the watershed. A laager was  made between two streams, plenty of fresh scherms were seen, but no amaNdebele. Another 4 miles (6km) were travelled in the afternoon and the night’s laager was close to a deserted kraal that had been burnt down. 
Mon 30 Oct – 4 miles were travelled in the morning and another 4 miles in the afternoon, again no amaNdebele were seen, although a large cache of powder, caps and cartridges were found abandoned at a kraal. The grazing was good, so the oxen were rested in the morning. 
Tues 31 Oct - Captain White and the scouts Burnham, Ingram and Vavasour were sent ahead to reconnoitre the country. About 3pm they reported back they had ridden into a large force of amaNdebele about 3 miles (5 km) ahead, they estimated 4,000 and Capt White had remained behind to monitor their movements. 
Wed 1 Nov - The column moved on through a bushy hollow before reaching open country for two miles ending in some low kopjes and the Umsingweni military kraal. Two patrols were sent forward to try and draw the amaNdebele forces out, but they did not respond and the column laagered within 800 yards of the kopjes. As they did so, a large force of amaNdebele appeared at the base of the kopjes and along their tops. Capt Lendy fired five shots with the seven-pounder that scattered them and saw them off.  
Map 5 – Battle of Shangani, adapted from 1:250,000 map sheet SE-35-16 Gwelo;  this map is used with consent from Window on Rhodesia  with the site name:
Wed 1 Nov – the Battle of Bembesi (Egodade)
See the article the Battle of Bembesi (Egodade) under Matabeleland South on the website
   Imbizo warriors from The Graphic 1893  
Thurs 2 Nov – Forbes sent out two mounted patrols to check the surrounding bush for any remaining amaNdebele and when none were found the columns trekked at 12 am south west for the hill of Ntabazinduna with the native contingents between them carrying thorn bushes. A thick patch of bush had to be negotiated, the flanking parties were strengthened before open ground was found on the other side and a laager made on the west bank of the headwaters of a tributary of the Khoce river, about 3 miles (5 km) from Ntabazinduna. The kraals around were all deserted, that of Manyao, the chief induna on the big amaNdebele impi raid to Victoria in July 1893, was burnt down and quantities of grain taken. Wounded Troopers Cary and Siebert died at this laager and were buried next morning.  
Map 6 – Battle of Bembesi and occupation of Bulawayo, adapted from 1:250,000 map sheet SE-35-4 Bulawayo;  this map is used with consent from Window on Rhodesia  with the site name:
Fri 3 Nov – The columns started forward at 6 am and the Khoce river was crossed before a large force of amaNdebele were reported around Ntabazinduna Hill. Laagers were quickly formed, Captain Spreckley took C Troop to try and flush them out. They came under heavy fire and the indunas could be heard urging their men forward, but they remained under cover. On C Troop’s return, the Maxim under Lt. Tyndale-Biscoe fired at 1,000 yards into bush and Capt Lendy fired off a seven-pounder shell and several one-pound shells from the Hotchkiss that drove the amaNdebele away.  
The scouts Burnham, Ingram and Posselt had left early to see if they could get to Bulawayo and as the columns had crossed the Khoce river a very large explosion had been heard from Bulawayo followed by a column of smoke. Later a native messenger brought a note from Burnham saying the royal kraal was on fire and they were going on. 
The columns moved on at 3 pm keeping south of Ntabazinduna Hill and reaching the Inyati (Emhlangeni) to Hope Fountain road that was followed for a few miles before laagering at a tributary of the Umguza river. The laagering was in process when Ingram and Posselt rode in with letters from Burnham and James Fairbairn. Fairbairn and Usher were the only remaining whites at Bulawayo – Lobengula had assured them of his protection but were still anxious for their safety that night. Forbes sent in Capt Borrow and B Troop with Ingram as guide to occupy Bulawayo – exactly one month after the Salisbury column had left Charter.  
The columns needed grain now for the horses, so Forbes sent his galloper, Mr Tanner, after Capt Borrow to tell him not let his men do any looting or further burning of kraals and to put sentries over any stores they found. 
Sat 4 Nov – The columns moved at 6am and after three hours crossed the Umguza river making drifts through its steep banks; the delay prevented them making it to Bulawayo in one trek. Jameson and Willoughby rode on, the column trekked on again at midday and after crossing two more small streams reached Colenbrander’s house at 2 pm. Bulawayo was still burning about 1,000 yards (914 metres) away. There were some houses and huts at Colenbrander’s that would be useful as a hospital and for stores, so the columns laagered there, the Salisbury column taking the north west corner and the Victoria column taking the south east corner. None of the white men’s houses had been interfered with although Bulawayo and Umvutcha had been burnt down.
Forbes describes Bulawayo as a ring of huts about 100 yards wide enclosing an open space about 700 yards wide in the centre. The King’s buildings comprised two brick houses, one being his living quarters and the other his wagon house and a large group of huts belonging to the Queens together with the goat kraal. All were completely destroyed by the fire and explosion of 80,000 M.H. rounds and 2,000 lbs (907 kgs) of gunpowder that had been left in Fairbairn’s charge. Lobengula had given orders that if they were beaten they should set fire to the kraal and these orders were carried out. 
Still nothing had been heard of the Southern Column’s progress under Goold-Adams and Raaff. They had been told that Gambo, a son-in-law of Lobengula and chief of the Icapa, had been sent to attack the Southern Column with 3 – 4,000 warriors, but because he was not trusted, only given ten M.H. rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. They heard reports that the Southern Column had been attacked. [xxii    ]      
Jameson wanted Rhodes to get the news of the occupation of Bulawayo as soon as possible. Burnham, Ingram and a Zulu man who knew the road to Tati set off the same evening and rode the 120 miles (193 km) through dangerous country. The heliograph was not working because of the cloudy conditions, so Burnham went through to Palapye, a total distance of 210 miles (338 km) in four days by horseback and the news of the occupation of Bulawayo was in the English newspapers by 10 November. 
Thurs 9 Nov – Sir Henry Loch wired his congratulations on a ‘remarkable advance’ on Bulawayo. This was a great day for the BSACo with the confirmation of their arrival at Bulawayo and knowledge that the Southern Column was still 65 miles (105 km) to the south. On the same day Buxton, Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, stated in the House of Commons that Matabeleland was included in the BSACo’s field of operations and any mining and land concessions held by the company were applicable in Matabeleland. He reminded the House that the military operations had been carried out on the responsibility and at the expense of the company. Lord Ripon added to Sir Henry Loch, “They have determined in the administration of the country to utilize the machinery of the Charter and Order in Council, and to recognise Matabeleland as within the administrative area of the company.” [xxiii    ] 
Fri 10 Nov – The British press published news of the Bembesi engagement and the occupation of Bulawayo. Dr Jameson had said, “The war is over” but in this he was incorrect and the real hardship was yet to come.  
British South Africa Company Medal
British South Africa Company Medal 1890-97, reverse undated, 3 clasps, Mashonaland 1890, Matabeleland 1893, Rhodesia 1896
Thomas James Christison, Trooper No 164 in the Pioneer Corps. Lieutenant in the Salisbury Horse during the 1893 Invasion of Matabeleland, Captain and Adjutant in the Salisbury Field Force in the 1896 rebellion.
S. Glass. The Matabele War. Longmans, Green and Co Ltd, London 1968 
A.S. Hickman. Men who made Rhodesia. The British South Africa Company. Salisbury, 1960
H.M. Hole. Old Rhodesian Days. Silver Series Vol 8, Books of Rhodesia, Bulawayo, 1976
N. Jones. Rhodesian Genesis. Bulawayo 1953
P. Forbes (Chap VI – IX) and Sir J. Willoughby (Chap XIII- XIV) in W.A. Wills and L.T. Collingridge. The Downfall of Lobengula. Books of Rhodesia, Vol 17 Bulawayo, 1971
C.L. Norris Newman. Matabeleland and how we got it. T. Fisher Unwin, London 1895

O. Ransford. Bulawayo, Historic Battleground of Rhodesia. A.A. Balkema, Cape Town 1968

I. Tomes. The Matabele War 1893. Heritage of Zimbabwe, Publication No 17, 1998, PP18-73



[i]  See the article The 1893 Matabeleland campaign and the roles played by Jameson, Lobengula, Loch and Rhodes under Masvingo on the website

[ii]  Capt P.W. Forbs of the6th Inniskilling Dragoons was the first officer appointed to the Pioneer Corps on 16 November 1899 and it was only on 1 May 1890 that Lieut-Col E.G. Pennefather was appointed in overall command of the BSACo Police and the Pioneer Corps

[iii]  BSACo Police numbers had been built up with the need for a strong force to deter the Portuguese in the East and Boer threat from the South, but after July 1891 both threats had been solved and in September / October many Police were discharged to reduce expenses. In October 1891 Rhodes came to the country for his first visit and to discuss with Dr Jameson the subject of finance, particularly the heavy cost of the Police. Marshall Hole writes, “the most ruinous item of expenditure was the cost, amounting to about £150,000 a year, for the police force which the Imperial authorities required the Company to maintain…In the long run it was arranged to raise a force of volunteers at Salisbury and Victoria and to reduce the Police from 650 to 150 of all ranks. And Jameson promised Rhodes to effect the change by the end of 1891.”

[iv]  The volunteers conditions set out by the committee in Victoria on 14 August 1893 and agreed by Dr Jameson to apply to the whole force were as follows:

(a)Protection on all Mashonaland claims until six months after the war finished

(b)A farm of 3,000 morgen (6,000 acres) free of occupation with a quitrent of ten shillings a year

(c)Fifteen gold claims on reef and five alluvial

(d)Share of all the cattle taken, 50% of which would go to the BSACo, the remaining share divided equally amongst all members

[v]  The Maxim gun was adopted by the British army in 1889. Fed with the same ‘577/450 cartridges used by the Martini-Henry rifle it could fire 600 shots a minute. The versions used by the columns were mounted on gun carriages, hence ‘galloping Maxim’ and were considered the ultimate machine gun at the time. The ammunition was still not smokeless and this often caused a problem if there was little wind to blow away the smoke.

[vi]  Rhodes himself paid most of the costs of the military campaign, about £50,000

[vii]  The Downfall of Lobengula, P191

[viii]  Ibid, P217

[ix]  Transport riders typically carried 8,000 lbs on an ox-wagon

[x]  The Shashe river in Mashonaland is a tributary of the Tokwe river and not to be confused with the river of the same name that forms a tributary of the Limpopo river

[xi]  Ntabasinsimbe is where the Salisbury and Victoria columns have agreed to meet, but the hills Forbes refers to are actually the Mwenezi Range, 14 miles (23 km) south of present-day Featherstone and they are trekking south west to the Umniati (Munyati) river, not due west

[xii]  The Matabele War, P176

[xiii]  Finland Farm 6 miles (10 km) south east of Lalapanzi

[xiv]  For details of Captain Campbell’s grave see the article Iron Mine Hill (Ntabasinsimbe) and the first casualty of the 1893 Matabele War under Midlands province on the website

[xv]  Rhodesian Genesis, P84

[xvi]  The Matabele War, P193

[xvii]  See the article Iron Mine Hill (Ntabasinsimbe) and the first casualty of the 1893 Matabele War under Midlands on the website

[xviii]  The Downfall of Lobengula, P95

[xix]  Albert Edward Burnett was the chief Transport Officer of the 1890 Pioneer Corps and took over as Intelligence Officer when Selous resigned on 26 August 1890. Prospected and mined in Mashonaland after the disbandment of the Pioneer Corps and served in the Salisbury column in 1893 as a volunteer but without rank. Killed on 23 October 1893 when patrolling and buried on the south bank of the Shangani river near the old main road.  

[xx]  Rhodesian Genesis, P84-5

[xxi]  News of Capt Williams death was only received a week or two later. His horse had been wounded in the flank and became uncontrollable, he got into hilly country, the amaNdebele followed until his horse fell and he dismounted. He kept them at bay from about 200 yards with his M.H. rifle but was finally shot in the head and killed. Forbes states he was a great loss having been a Captain in the Royal Horse Guards.

[xxii]  The reports of Gambo’s forces attacking the Southern Column were true. See the article The Southern Column’s skirmish at the Singuesi river on 2 November 1893 revisited under Matabeleland South province on the website

[xxiii]  The Matabele War, P222

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