Colonial Policy|| |
Reichstagsakten 1889/90, 7. Lp., Vol. 127, Attachment 44: Collection of Documents pertaining the Uprising in East Africa, No.3: Report of the Imperial Commissioner for East Africa
Bagamoyo, May 30th 1889|
After the preparations for an attack on the rebels had been ended on the fourth day after the arrival of the steamer "Martha", after communication with the squadron chief, Contre-Admiral Deinhard, I decided to attack
A quick offensive move offered the prospect to strike a decisive blow against the power of rebel leader Buschiri, mainly based on acts of terror, to reduce his influence on the population and to reeestablish the freedom of
action of the station which had been severely hampered by continued hostile raids. After incoming news, Buschiri had assembled his forces of c 600-800 men in a camp, which in African respect was fortified extraordinarily.
Rumours of the existence of three more camps had proven dubious.
At first the attack on this camp was decided. It was all the more inviting, as Buschiri had over-confidently declared in a letter which arrived on the 6th of this month that he did not fear the Germans. On the 7th I undertook a reconnaissance trip, to find out about the direction of the march to the camp and the conditions of the terrain.
The reconnaissance resulted in the full confirmation of reports which had arrived earlier.
The execution of the attack was fixed for the following day.
For this purpose, at 6.30 in the morning, the entire detachment at my disposal, consistimng of 6 companies of Sudanese, 1 Zulu company, 30 Somalis and 3 cannons of light calibre, enforced by a detachment of 200 navy
soldiers, had assembled near the station building. Every man hat 40 cartdidges, every cannon 25 shots of ammunition.
After the platoon commanders had been given special instructions, at 7.10 the troops went on the march.
The troops at first followed the ridge of the low hill range stretching from Bagamoyo along the coast toward the south. About 9 o'clock we left this beautiful hill range, densely grown with palms and other fruit trees and turned west. An about 900 m wide shadowless swampy valley overgrown with grass as high as a man lay before us. The sun shone glowing hot on it; no air move was registered. The many swampy places caused a stingy smell; they
made the advance, especially of the artillery (the cannons wee pulled) extraordinarily difficult. Still the march discipline of the black troops was a good one.
After the valley had been crossed, we continued to march on a hill range similar to the one previously described. On this, Buschiri's camp was located, visible from afar, it offered the view of a fortification consisting of many tree trunks positioned close to each other.
When we had reached a distance of 600 m to the camp, an advance troop (50 station Askaris under station chief Freiherr von Eberstein, Lt. of the reserve of the Infantry Regiment "Prinz Ferdinand von Preussen" no.27) immediately fanned out, while the artillery (commander Krenzler, previously First Lt. of the 1st Wuerttembergian Field Artillery Regiment no.13) took up position in the skirmish line, and the wing detachment, two Sudanese
companies strong (commander Schmidt, Lt. of the reserve of the Royal Bavarian 3rd Infantry Regiment) together with the white Schutztruppe undertook a flanking movement to the west, in order to face the camp from
The bulk of the troops arrived only 20 minutes later (2 Sudanese companies under commander Freiherr von Gravenreuth, 1st Lt. a la suite of the Royal Bavarian
(p.92) 3rd Infantry Regiment) and took up position between the outfanned advance guard and the flanking detachment on the left, while the flanking detachment on the right (commander von Zelewsky, previously 1st Lt. in the Infantry Regiment No.99), consisting of 1 Sudanese company, 1 Zulu company and 30 Somalis, already earlier had been given the order to flank it from the east.
The Navy detachment (commander Corvette Captain Hirschberg of S.M.S. "Schwalbe") had taken position right behind the advance guard respectively the artillery. In this formation, the artillery included, we moved forward
until we reached a position 250 m from the camp.
With the first attempt to reach 200 m we came under fire from the camp, a fire I did not respond. When immediately after the well-known white riding donkey of Buschiri appeared off the encampment, I shot and wounded this animal, seemingly so necessary to the fat Buschiri to flee, and this shot was the sign to open fire on the entire line. The exchange of fire was heavy on both sides, and we closed in on the camp until we reached 100 m distance. In the meantime the flanking detachments Schmidt and von Zelewsky had advanced so far that they could fan out against the flanks of the camp.
In the process of the rapid fire which was to prepare the assault, in immediate vicinity of myself, where most of the whites were concentrated and where the cannons were positioned, several Askaris fell and Captain Richelmann and medical doctor Schmelzkopf were wounded. By now, as we later found out from 6 men killed by granade splinters, two well-aimed shots from the 6 cm cannon had knocked out Buschiri's cannon (which had been fired for
I permitted the rapid fire of c. 800 Mauser rifles to last for about 1 minute and then, after communication with Corvette Captain Hirschberg, I gave the order to fix bayonet and attack.
The Sudanese companies of Freiherr von Eberstein were the first to reach the palisades, Lt. Sulzer the first to enter the camp. Freiherr von Gravenreuth followed immediately on the left flank with a number of Sudanese.
Simultaneously the midshipmen under Corvette Captain Hirschberg and the Askaris under Freiherr von Eberstein broke into the front. Ahead of the midshipmen, not waiting for a breach to be torn, Lt. Schelle of S.M.S. "Schwalbe" climbed the palisades and was fatally wounded inside the camp.
While the midshipmen had torn down the palisades so far, that man after man could penetrate, Freiherr von Eberstein had enterred through a door broken open and now everything still in the camp was cut down.
Already before the last rapid fire an enemy unit c. 400 men strong had taken position outside of the camp opposing my right flank. This unit now withdrew in small bands to the north toward the Kingani, under the fire from
the detachment von Zelewsky. Simultaneously c. 150 men fled the camp toward the west, which suffered losses from the fire of detachment Schmidt.
Skirmish lines of Sudanese and Zulus until 600 to 800 m beyond the camp, where the high grass made further penetration impossible.
Two Arab flags with Koran quotes, one large and one smaller cannon, various Mauser rifles, Baluchi swords and Arab knives have been captured, 2 Arabs, 8 slaves and c. 20 women were taken prisoner. Buschiri himself shall
only narrowly have escaped.
Hardly any food was found in the camp. Later it was discovered that the Sudanese had found 3 boxes with c. 6000 Rupees in the camp. This probably was a part of the ransom which had been paid to free the English missionary. The blacks already had split up the money in a way, that any demand for restitution and disposition seemed neither possible nor opportune for the first skirmish.
Among the c. 80 men who had fallen in and around the camp we counted only three negroes, while almost all others were Hadhramaut Arabs or Baluchis. The habit of the rebels regarded to remove their dead immediately, the
losses of the opponent have to be assumed as being considerably higher. This assumption has been confirmed; according to reliable reports which came in later the number of dead amounted to 106.
Among the men of reputation who had fallen, Chief Ismail of Windi deserves being mentioned, a man of great influence and a loyal follower of Buschiri. Unfortunately, not inconsiderable losses are to be registered on the German side as well.
Lt. Schelle of the S.M.S. "Schwalbe", as already mentioned, fell in the camp. midshipman Foelk was hit by a shot in the head and collapsed mortally wounded. Sergeant Peter of the Police Force died from a heat stroke. Six
coloured soldiers have also fallen.
Medical officer Schmelzkopf suffered a bouncing shot in the left part of his abdomen; Captain Richelmann a flesh wound in his left shank, Station officer Illich a shot in the back. The left arm of midshipman Klebba of S.M.S. "Schwalbe" had been crushed; the arm had to be amputated. Three Sudanese have been slightly wounded.
(the losses listed in the dispatch were based in part on a misconception, caused by missing persons who had found back to the force by the evening.)
After the persecution of the refugees had been terminated, the palisades were town down and the camp burnt down.
The latter, established on the ridge of a hill range delining a little from the north to the south, had been arranged rectangular and surrounded by several rows of palisades and tree trunks which hat been rammed into a moat
previously dug. Each side of the camp was about 200 m long and had a regular entry through a wooden door which could be closed. Within the encampment, steps for marksmen and loop-holes had been arranged, which were protected from vertical fire by small roofs made from clay and leaves. The southern entrance was protected by a strong iron cannon. The entire fortification gave a solid impression, respectable in African terms.
Had Buschiri's defeat with the storming and destruction of his camp not been decisive, it still has to be described as momentous, because there is reason to assume that the core of Buschiri's followers had been assembled in
the camp, and that after their repulsion any attack on Bagamoyo seems excluded and that his authority has suffered.
(p.93) The fact, that Buschiri, who in his repeated attacks on the station has always been repelled with heavy losses, now has been expelled from his camp described as impermeable, willdeprive him of the support of the black
In the afternoon at 1.45 the retreat to Bagamoyo was begun. On the road exhaustion in consequence of the glowing heat of the sun and caused by the struggle was a general one, and this in part caused the march order to break down completely. In addition to the wounded many whites had to be carried by blacks, a proof that whites can be used on such expeditions only within limits.
Besides the obvious courageous actions of the Europeans, the braveness of the black soldiers deserves being mentioned. Over all, the determined advance under the guidance of whites, the fighting spirit of the Zulus and
Askaris, the relative calm of the Sudanese are to be emphasized. Until the moment of the assault everything went on so orderly that the entire action resembled a move on the manoevre field rather than a skirmish.
Only the Somalis which had been placed at my disposal had expressed religious qualms, and therefore I disarmed the men on the day before the enterprise was started. After the successful struggle they were ashamed and
reported voluntarily for a larger patrol. This patrol was sent to the battlefield with the task to retrieve an officer who had suffered from a heat stroke, under the command of Freiherr von Gravenreuth. When they approached the camp, the patrol found a small detachment of the rebels busy with collecting their dead and wounded. They were repelled, in the process of which 1 man was killed and 2 were wounded. Only late in the evening the patrol returned to Bagamoyo, where the missed officer had returned to in the
On the morning of the same day, Contre-Admiral Deinhard had dispatched an expedition consisting of several steamer pinaces and launches up the Kingani, had destroyed all canoes and occupied the ferry locations to catch eventual refugees. The gros of the refugees seems to have crossed the river further upward at the Dunda ford.
According to reports which came in the following day (May 9th) in the morning, a large number of refugees had fled toward the Kingani, while another group took the direction toward the coast, where Buschiri is reported to have established another camp in Mbegani, a place located to the south of Bagamoyo. In order to take further decisions it was highly desirable to cgeck the reliability of these reports.
Therefore I dispatched a patrol in the afternoon of that day, under the command of chief Freiherr von Gravenreuth, consisting of 4 officers and 4 NCOs on horseback and 10 station Askaris with the instruction to find out about the whereabout of the opponent etc.
The result of the reconnaissance was that during the night from the 8th to the 9th a large number of armed men had marched from Buschiri's camp via Kaule to Mbegani. Thus the aforementioned report had been confirmed by the message from the station chief of Dar-es-Salam, according to which 35 armed Arabs and 15 blacks from the vicinity of Bagamoyo had fled southward to join Soliman ben Sef near Dar-es-Salam.
Unfortunately it was not possible to advance as far as Mbegani on that day because of difficult terrain; on the other hand, in a place c. 3/4 of an hour to the south of Buschiri's camp a band of c. 50 armed men was found. When these were attacked, 3 men were killed, one taken prisoner and a herd of goats was captured.
This first military use of horses in Deutsch-Ostafrika has stood the test excellently. The possibility of leading masses of troops as they occur here, even in African terrain conditions, disregarded, it enables the horseman to look over the terrain which is often impossible to the man on foot due to the high grass, and the European horseman remains fresh even during the most strenuous marches.
Unless the climatic conditions ruin this first attempt of employing horses in East Africa, a kind of mounted European infantery would appear as the best force to be deployed here. In consequence of the newest reports, my earlier understanding with Contre-Admiral Deinhard regarding the purging of the Kingani River of rebels was altered in such a way, that an advance toward Mbegani was made. The navy should accompany at sea the troops
marching on land. This undertaking was executed by all troops and a number of navy boats on the morning of the 10th.
The advance troops under Herr von Zelewsky found most places deserted, as the inhabitants had fled when the navy appeared. The Navy burnt down the village; no fortification was found in the vicinity. The search was continued until the place Mlangotini was reached, by me by land, by the Navy by sea.
A few prisoners were released with my instruction to their people, that when our troops advance, in case of the villages which to not side with Buschiri the inhabitants should not flee, but send deputations.
Having returned to Bagamoyo I found the rumour wide spread that Buschiri was severely wounded. This rumour was confirmed insofar, as the same, according to coinciding testimonies of severat of his women which were taken captive in the camp, he had suffered a grazing shot at his left shoulder when fleeing. Until then no reliable reports about his whereabout or place of refuge were available.
On the 12th of the month I went to Zanzibar in order to regulate the administration, which, lead by a committee consisting of Chief Freiherr von Eberstein, merchant councillor Wolf and treasurer Merkel, had encountered difficulties. The committee entered in communication with the merchant house Hansing.
Returned to Bagamoyo on the 14th, I was reported by my deputy that Herr von Zeleswky had undertaken a reconnaissance patrol to the Kingani valley, with the Zulu company and 9 horses, on the afternoon of the 13th, and had found no trace of the rebels.
This circumstance, and several reports brought in by spies made it seem probable that Buschiri
(p.94) now was to the north of the Kingani, which presently is fordable only a number of day's journeys upriver, either at Kikoka or Sangasera.
The infordability of the Kingani and pressing offloading work on the steamer "Martha" made movements against the enemy impossible for the next days, and I thus went to Dar-es-Salam on the 18th.
Already on May 9th chief Schmidt had undertaken a reconnaissance expedition to the village of Magagoni, which earlier had been bombarded by the navy. The village inhabitants which attacked him, supporters of the rebel Soliman ben Sef, have been repekked with a loss of 8 dead (2 Arabs and 6 negroes) and 90 head of cattle and 60 head of small animals were captured.
On May 20th I dispatched chief Schmidt with a patrol 150 men strong to the village of Mabibu, the earlier camp of the rebels under Soliman ben Sef. The camp, fortified by a Boma, but deserted, was destroyed, 80 head of cattle captured. The next day I dispatched a patrol of 50 men to the village Magormura, property of the second most important rebel leader Schindu. Except from a number of shots taken at them from behind the bushes they did not encounter any resistance. The place was burnt down and Nyumbe Schindu's mother taken in as prisoner, after the old negro women had wounded a soldier with a knife, who ordered her to leave the village.
Schindu himself and Soliman ben Sef, with c. 30 followers, had moved north to join forces with Buschiri.
The consequence of these patrols was that a number of Wasaramo villages in the vicinity in writing asked for peace, while the Nyumbes of other villages appeared in person for the same purpose. A number of villages reported that they were willing to ask for peace, but they feared that this will damage their standing with the Sultan Sauuid Chalifa of Zanzibar.
Within a circle of one day's journey, Dar-es-Salam is freed of rebels, and, for the most part, pacified. The fortification works have been completed, 1 company of Sudanese, 20 native Askaris and 10 Somalis, under the command of 4 officers and 10 NCOs were left behind. Because of the excellent harbour, Dar-es-Salam will be the main storage place for arms, ammunition, food supplies, equipment and coal, for further expeditions. The town is still deserted; one Waniamwesi caravan with ivory camps under the protection of the station.
On May the 23rd I returned from Bagamoyo, on the report that during the following period a deputation of Arabs is expected from Pangani for the purpose of peace negotiations. In Bueni, a place located between Bagamoyo and Dar-es-Salam, the wali of which also tended toward peace negotiations, I landed, but could not achieve anything due to too great fear among the inhabitants.
On the 26th I punished a Baluchi named Jussuff, known as Buschiri's right hand, by execution through hanging, for supporting the rebellion with money, ammunition and by the means of espionage.
His Excellency Prince von Bismarck
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