After some casualties, Mackinnon's men were driven back under heavy fire. This minor shoot-out prompted a general rising among the whole Ngqika tribe. Settlers in military villages that had been established along the border, were caught in a surprise attack after they had gathered to celebrate Christmas Day.
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Many of them were killed, and their houses set on fire. Other setbacks followed in quick succession.
The greater part of the Xhosa police deserted, many of them leaving with their arms. Emboldened by their initial success, a large and powerful contingent of Xhosa troops surrounded and attacked Fort Cox , where the governor was stationed with a small number of soldiers. More than one unsuccessful attempt was made to kill Sir Harry, and he began to explore ways to escape. Meanwhile, a new threat to the Cape arose. Some of the Kat river Khoikhoi, who had in former wars been firm allies of the British, joined their former enemies: the Xhosa.
They were not without justification. They complained that while serving as soldiers in former wars — the Cape Mounted Rifles consisted largely of Khoikhois — they had not received the same treatment as others serving in defence of the colony, that they got no compensation for the losses they had sustained, and that they were in various ways made to feel they were a wronged and injured race.
A secret alliance was formed with the Xhosa to take up arms in order to remove the Europeans and establish a Khoikhoi republic. Within a fortnight of the attack on Colonel Mackinnon, the Kat river Khoikhoi were also in arms. Their revolt was followed by that of the Khoikhoi at other missionary stations, and some of the Khoikhoi of the Cape Mounted Rifles followed their example, including some of the very men who had escorted the governor from Fort Cox. But many of the Khoikhoi remained loyal, and the Fingo likewise sided with the Cape government.
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After the confusion caused by the surprise attack had subsided, Sir Harry Smith and his force turned the tide of war against the Xhosa. The Amatola Mountains were stormed, and Sarhili , the highest ranking chief, who had been secretly assisting the Ngqika all along, was harshly punished. In April , Sir Harry Smith was recalled by Earl Grey, who accused him — unjustly, in the opinion of the Duke of Wellington — of a want of energy and judgement in conducting the war; he was succeeded by Lieutenant-General Cathcart.
Sarhili was again attacked and forced to submit.
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The Amatolas were then cleared of Xhosa militia, and small forts were erected to prevent their reoccupation. The British commanders were hampered throughout by their insufficient equipment, and it was not until March that the largest of the Frontier wars was brought to an end after the loss several hundred British soldiers.
Shortly afterwards, British Kaffraria was made a crown colony. The Khoikhoi settlement at Kat River remained, but the Khoikhoi power within the colony was crushed. In , the lungsickness disease spread through the cattle of the Xhosa. The disease was spread from infected animals imported from Dutch cows in via intercontinental trade with colonial settlers trying to improve their herd. In April, two girls, one named Nongqawuse , went to scare birds out of the fields. When she returned, she told her uncle Mhlakaza that she had met three spirits at the bushes, and that they had told her that all cattle should be slaughtered, and their crops destroyed.
On the day following the destruction, the dead Xhosa would return and help expel the whites. The ancestors would bring cattle with them to replace those that had been killed. Sarhili ordered the commands of the spirits to be obeyed. At first, the Xhosa were ordered to destroy their fat cattle. Nongqawuse, standing in the river where the spirits had first appeared, heard unearthly noises, interpreted by her uncle as orders to kill more and more cattle.
At length, the spirits commanded that not an animal of all their herds was to remain alive, and every grain of corn was to be destroyed. If that were done, on a given date, myriads of cattle more beautiful than those destroyed would issue from the earth, while great fields of corn, ripe and ready for harvest, would instantly appear. The dead would rise, trouble and sickness vanish, and youth and beauty come to all alike. Unbelievers and the white man would on that day perish. Great kraals were also prepared for the promised cattle, and huge skin sacks to hold the milk that was soon to be more plentiful than water.
At length the day dawned which, according to the prophecies, was to usher in the terrestrial paradise. The sun rose and sank, but the expected miracle did not come to pass. This movement drew to an end by early By then, approximately 40, people had starved to death and over , cattle were slaughtered. Sir George Grey, governor of the Cape at the time ordered the European settlers not to help the Xhosa unless they entered labour contracts with the settlers who owned land in the area.
Historians now view this movement as a millennialist response both directly to the lung disease spreading among Xhosa cattle, and to the stress to Xhosa society caused by the continuing loss of their territory and autonomy. Sir George Grey became governor of the Cape Colony in , and the development of the colony owes much to his administration. In his opinion, policy imposed upon the colony by the home government's policy of not governing beyond the Orange River was mistaken, and in he proposed a scheme for a confederation that would include all of South Africa, however it was rejected by Britain as being impractical.
Sir George kept open a British road through Bechuanaland to the far interior, gaining the support of the missionaries Robert Moffat and David Livingstone. Sir George also attempted for the first time, missionary effort apart, to educate the Cape Xhosa and to firmly establish British authority among them, which the self-destruction of the Xhosa rendered easy.
Beyond the Kei River, the Transkei Xhosa were left to their own devices. Sir George Grey left the Cape in During his governorship the resources of the colony had increased with the opening of the copper mines in Little Namaqualand , the mohair wool industry had been established and Natal made a separate colony. The opening, in November , of the railway from Cape Town to Wellington , and the construction in of the great breakwater in Table Bay , long needed on that perilous coast, marked the beginning in the colony of public works on a large scale.
They were the more-or-less direct result of the granting to the colony of a large share in its own government. The transfer was marked by the removal of the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages to the natives, and the free trade in intoxicants which followed had most deplorable results among the Xhosa tribes. A severe drought, affecting almost the entire colony for several years, caused great economic depression, and many farmers suffered severely. It was at this period in that ostrich -farming was successfully established as a separate industry. Whether by or against the wish of the home government, the limits of British authority continued to extend.
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Harry Smith's Last Throw: The Eighth Frontier War 1850-1853 by Keith Smith (Hardback, 2012)
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Harry Smith's Last Throw: The Eighth Frontier War 1850-1853
Overall rating No ratings yet 0. How to write a great review Do Say what you liked best and least Describe the author's style Explain the rating you gave Don't Use rude and profane language Include any personal information Mention spoilers or the book's price Recap the plot. In order to be viable farms had to be large and this created a class of independent-minded who looked increasingly to the interior of Africa, pushing the Colonys borders. The wars with the Xhosa were the result of the eventual expansion of these boundaries into Xhosa territory.
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