TOPIC: Relief of Mafeking
Relief of Mafeking 2 years 4 months ago #52998
Pair to J Schulz from the next DNW auction.
Picture courtesy of DNW
BSACM reverse Matabeleland 1893 (1) Rhodesia 1896 (Corpl. J. Schulz. Victoria Column.);
QSA (1) RoM (611 Tpr: J. Schulz. Rhodesia Regt.)
Julius Schulz was born at Westville outside Durban on 22 March 1866, the third son of Dr Schulz M.D. to study medicine at the University of Berlin, the Alma Mater of his father, grandfather and great grandfather, all of whom were doctors. He was, however, expelled for participating in duelling contests and never completed his studies. He joined the Victoria Column on 4 October 1893 as a Corporal. In the later 1896 war in Rhodesia he served firstly as a gunner with the Bulawayo Field Force and then as a Trooper in the Gwelo Burghers. Schulz was one of 49 men of the Victoria Column as part of Major Forbes’ reduced force of 94 men who retreated to Bulawayo after Major Wilson and his brave band of 34 men of the same column fought to the death on the opposite bank of the Shangani River. The retreating Column was attacked on 8th, 10th and 12th December, 1893, and finally met up at the Longwe River on 14th December with a relief force sent out from Bulawayo. Schulz wrote a 19 page account on his experiences in this war and in particular of the Shangani Patrol and his escape. The following extracts are of interest, particularly the general dislike of Major Forbes, even Shulz’s unwillingness to name him in his account, and the great admiration held for Commandant Raaf:
‘Seeing us retire, the Matabele, thinking we were running away, came out into the open, and charged us - a sight that can never be forgotten by those who saw it. We waited until they got within fifty yards of the laager, and then opening fire with two maxims and a battery of 7-pounders against their maddening rush - an indescribable sight - swept the field and demoralized them completely. We followed that up by charging them at the point of the bayonet, and so scattered them in all directions, that their wounded and dying and dead, were found nine miles away from the battlefield... At the time it was said that a thousand of the enemy bit the dust; and soon vultures thickened the air, hovering over the field, which had now become one of death.
After five days forced marching, we reached the banks of the Shangani River. It is impossible for me to go farther with this account, without making mention of God’s beautiful nature to be seen in those, as they were then, wild parts of which the white men knew naught - the trees, the flowers, the birds, to say nothing of the herds of antelope and big game of all descriptions. All this could not fail to appeal to one, even when in the midst of a great struggle for supremacy, for it was all most beautiful.
The sun had set, and the day was drawing to a close. We were in an open space, with bush around us on three sides, and the Shangani River, dry and sandy, on the fourth; but though we were now a party of tired men, there was one among us who put brightness into the situation. It is when men are thus thrown together, away from the world, that certain sterling features of human character may show so plainly in one man, that they cannot fail, at such a time, to touch even a heart of stone. We had with us a man with such features of character - I allude to Commandant Raaf, a MAN every inch of him.
On the eve of the cutting up of “Wilson’s Party”, in square, we lay down, with the enemy in the bush all round us, for Raaf said, “Men lie down, rest, I will walk round you during the night and watch” - How many officers have done that? Not many, I think. We lay down and we slept.
Later, Major Wilson, with some twenty or twenty five men, proceeded across the river to reconnoitre Lobengula’s position. As they did not return in the early hours before day-break, twenty more men went. Anxiety filled us all.
At day-break on this eventful day, a Chief was seen riding a pony across the flat. We asked for permission to fire, but that our Major in command would not allow.
Shortly afterwards we moved to the banks of the Shangani River, with the idea of joining Major Wilson, and then were immediately attacked, and that simultaneously with an attack on Wilson on the other side of the river, firing being plainly heard by both parties. Taking cover under Mopani bush, we opened fire. Our horses were shot down wholesale.
After some few hours had elapsed, Wilson’s firing became fainter, till, finally, the last three shots ever fired by that ill-fated party fell upon our ears - two shots - then a pause; another shot - then silence. Men in our firing line paused and exclaimed “My God, that’s Wilson’s last shot.” And tears could be seen in the eyes of many whilst they fought to their utmost, not knowing when their turn might come.
Eventually two American scouts crossed the river to us - they were the only survivors of Wilson’s party. Late in the afternoon the enemy left us.
Rain now fell heavier than ever, and in a few hours the Shangani was running bank-high. The day was turned into night and lightening such as I saw only that once during my twenty years in South Africa, lit up the country. We now expected the end. But a laager had to be built, and our wounded cared for to the best of our ability. That done - the rain was still falling in torrents - the order was given to “fix bayonets and remain awake throughout the night.”
Food was at an end - our last ‘cookies’ were given to the wounded - but no one could do more than Captain Coventry and Commandant Raaf did for those that most needed help. As I have said, we had a doctor, but he had not even a bandage with which to bind wounds.
Pickets were placed round the laager at short distances apart, and they were visited every fifteen minutes. We - the pickets - stood in threes, and during the night signal-rockets were fired into the bush, with the idea of keeping the Matabele from rushing the laager. And it had that effect, for they said “the white man brings the stars down from heaven.”
Two comrades and I stood throughout the night, we having been picked for this particular outpost, it being an important one, and requiring the fullest alertness. It being pitch dark, we were unable to see anything, except in the moments of the vivid flashes of lightening. When we were visited about 10 p.m., were were wished “good-bye.” The effect of having that said to one in such circumstances, can hardly be imagined...’
‘To save ourselves, we had to march with only three sides to the square, the bank of the river forming the fourth. It was the Bechuanaland Border Police who formed the fighting face. So we moved off, each in his appointed place, with the hope of meeting the relief we had sent for. On coming to a belt of bush, Mr. Colenbrander, who was ahead of us, was fired on by some Matabele, who, fortunately, missed. In an instant we returned their fire. And so we marched on.
Having a good pony, I lifted a man who had been shot through the lungs, on to it, and led him. What those men, the wounded, suffered, was only known to themselves. Wilder and wilder became the country we were now traversing, and soon the sighted ‘corner’ of all held us, for we became surrounded by the enemy and were kept fighting all day. Towards evening the Matabele drew off, but they had been so close, that we had heard their Chief command them to throw down their rifles, and go in and wipe out the white men with their assegais.
Now comes the most dramatic scene of the whole war. Moving on after the fighting, we found ourselves in dense bush and among huge rocks and boulders, and then as night fell, and when it was still raining heavily, a very difficult passage faced us, placed as we were – two gun-carriages, men failing for want of food, and ammunition running short.
Our officer in full command Major
expressed his desire to rest in that spot for the night, and thereupon Captain Coventry came to me with the order to pick out the sick horses, which, together with the gun-carriages, the latter’s linchpins being withdrawn, were to be left behind, and place them in the centre of the laager. But then, with the lightning flashing most vividly, and the thunder rolling continuously, Commandant Raaff mounted a stone, and with his features discernible only in the flashes of lightning, spoke these words:
“Men, I feel that I am called upon by God to speak, and to get you out of the nest we have been brought into, and now take the command into my own hands. Therefore, we shall march twenty miles tonight, and in silence - all bits to be taken out of the horses mouths, there must be no jingling and no smoking, and the two Maxims must be carried”.
We were ready to follow him gladly, for we had full confidence in him, and we proceeded to clear from the laager we had built. But it was now found that we were all too weak to carry the guns, and so we mounted them on what available animals there were, and then, in the dead of night, left, the only occupants of the deserted laager being the gun carriages, left standing as they were, and the four sick horses, left to die, side by side - as their skeletons showed when, after the peace, a party went up to recover the remains of poor Sergeant Gibson.
We marched the appointed distance and were fairly away from the enemy, but we were kept well on the alert by the roar of lions around us. After another small engagement, we missed two of our men; but just after one o’clock they turned up - and in a terrible state of ‘St Vitus.’ They had been asleep under the gun-carriages, and then had wakened up to find the column gone. Had it not been for the strength of the one, the other would never have reached us alive. All this time we were living on wild garlic and sick horse, and were nearly all barefooted.
We fought our way down, through days of suffering, until we reached safety, when friendly Kaffirs killed two cows for us. These were acceptable after starvation, but dangerous food. During this time Major
had been silent, but now, when we reached SAFETY, the voice of the martinet sounded forth once more, and amongst other things, he tried to belittle Commandant Raaff. But allow me, as one who fought under him, and who saw, together with my comrades, what the actual position was, to say that Commandant Raaff was the man who led the Patrol on the retreat down the Shangani, and that he was kindness and consideration itself not only to the wounded but also to the others. As regards the former, he often denied himself, to give to them. He was, indeed, one of Africa’s most famous soldiers – one who fought for England in nearly all the Kaffir wars in South Africa...’
Schulz attested for service in the Boer War in “A” Squadron of the Rhodesia Regiment on 15 February 1900, giving his occupation as ‘miner’. He was killed in action Ramathlabana, six miles south of Mafeking, on 31 March 1900.
Dr David Biggins
Relief of Mafeking 2 years 3 months ago #53326
So not a single claps medal at all!
Researcher & Collector
The Register of the Anglo-Boer Wars 1899-1902