The mention yesterday of soldiers who had drowned while on service during the Boer War reminded me of a lonely addition to the Boer War Garden of Remembrance in Estcourt:
The story behind Pte Ashton's presence at Estcourt is told below:
BUSHMAN RIVER POST
In 1847 an inn and trading store was established on a ford in the Bushman’s River in the recently established British Colony of Natal. It was followed in December by the military establishing Bushman’s River Post on a hill overlooking the ford. On page 168 in Colonel P H Dalbiac’s 1902 history of the 45th Regiment (Sherwood Foresters), the next step is recorded as follows:
“In February, 1848, Major Cooper was detached [from the garrison at Fort Napier in Pietermaritzburg] to form a permanent post on [the] Bushman’s River, with the following forces under his command:- 140 men of the 45th (including a mounted troop under Captain Parish), a detachment of the Royal Artillery, and a detachment of the Cape Mounted Rifles.”
From these small beginnings the town of Estcourt developed. The military post was rebuilt as the sturdy sandstone Fort Durnford in 1874 after the Langalibalele Rebellion. It was an important military base in the Anglo-Zulu War (1879), in both Anglo-Boer Wars (1880-81 & 1899-1902), and in the Natal Rebellion (1906). It is still in use today as a museum.