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STORIES OF FIFTY YEARS AGO.

v No. IV.

CLEARING THE BUSH, BY 'HENRY. WILY. It seems strange that although the settles "were fully aware that the bush was full of marauding and murdering hordes of Maoris,, many of them remained on their isolated homesteads, prepared to risk . their lives rather than abandon their possessions. It says more for their courage than their discretion, and the result that winter was about twenty cold-blooded murders, and innumerable "narrow escapes. . The Maoris, finding their. victory over armed troops was not easily to bo gained, ; avoided the chance of collision with them, and roamed about destroying stock and burning houses, tomahawking and mutilating the bodies of all unfortunate enough to bo caught. General Cameron felt that it was impossible for him. to proceed in his forward march to the W aikato proper _ until the bush was cleared, and his positions along the road no longer threatened. To effect this a flying column was formed consisting of about 250 volunteers from the various corps of regulars, to act in conjunction with Captain Jackson's Forest Rangers, and a further small company of Hangers, raised by and put under "the command' of Yon Tempsky, who had till now "• been v Jackson's lieutenant. , These bush-whackers, charged with the performance of the moat dangerous and harassing duty, were to a great extent relieved from the strict discipline incident to a soldier's life, and given a free hand to hunt out and exterminate the enemy- wherever he could ho found. They discarded . the Enfield rifle, which, owing to. its length and weight, was so great , a hindrance in the» bus?;-, and in its place they were armed with .the r Terry : carbine, one of the first attempts at a breech-loader. The cartridge,, with; the powder enclosed in goldbeater's skin, was inserted in the breech, and a cap was then placed on the nipple of sufficient : force to. penetrate the tissue and explode the charge. A revolver and short sword bayonet completed their armament. This latter was most useful in slashing a way - through ■■■ supplejacks and • vines. ; The three-cornered bayonet was a delusion and a snare in the bush. Having no spring or slip to hold it in the sheath, it used to fall out unnoticed when the scabbard was tipped in struggling _ through scrub, and the soldier's first intimation of his loss was when he put his hand to his belt to dr.fw it. Von Tempsky had an.'instinct almost amounting to genius for this sort of work, and his men used to declare that he could scent a Maori miles away. On the western side the work was loft principally to Captain Lusk and his Forest Rifles, although a small body of special constables and' armed settlers did a certain -amount of patrol work, and now and then the Rangers crossed the road and co-operated with the Rifles. The latter had established threo positions at the Mauku, to which district most of the men belonged, at • the church, the Falls Farm, and the estuary of the Mauku stream, where stores - were landed by cutter from Onehunga. No earthworks were thrown up, but strong outworks of upright palisades of heavy timber were erected. From these bases continual sorties were made in all directions, but principally through' the heavy forest lying between: them and' the Waikato River. The Patumahoe natives, a large and bitterly disaffected liapu, had ' abandoned their village and taken to the bush, where they were joined by bands of the *Ngatirnaniapoto, who crossed the river from Onewhero, and after a few ... days' roving and . farm-raiding returned home and were replaced - by new war :', parties. : JJivo nephews .of Rewi were the most daring 'of the leaders of these marauders, who occasionally ventured almost %up to .the stockades, , and sniped solitary ...volunteers, seeking again the depths of the bush be- : fore reprisals could be carried out. It was difficult' to get within shot of the enemy, but. a few indecisive skirmishes took place, and one engagement, which resulted in considerable loss to. .-the uatives both in men and arms. August slowly dragged away, and half of September, and - the troops at the front had been able to make no advance into"' the enemy's country. .!, Reconnoitring of the various, strongholds of the = Maoris had been undertaken - by various officers, usually at considerable personal risk. To tho east the country had been fully explored, and : the : sites 'of the : stockades, which were afterwards built, fixed on. Iliese, A ultimately ; named the , Miranda, Esk, and ' Surrey Redoubts, after two warships and la, trooper, stretched from ,he Firth of Thames 'to the Queen's, and with the blockhouses at the Bluff and ruak'au, formed a cordon between the Maoris' territory and our .own. Further west than "the last-named place it was -bought that Waata . and Nene Kukutai md their friendly hapu formed a sufficient suffer, but. they turned out to be most nefficient allies, permitting ■ the Waikatos ;o cross and recross th<2 river with im3unity, and, later, stood by. and allowed Mr. Armitage, the native magistrate, who lad married into their tribe, to be shot "the river without .raising, a hand to save him. •.... The : i-ecorinaisances of Meremero and ilangiriri, where the natives lay in great 'oi'ce, showed that: the swamps made it mpossible to attack them by a land idvance. - Great efforts were made to as;enible a sufficient flotilla to carry the nen up the river. Two light-draught iteamers, - the Avon and the Pioneer, had >een brought safely over the Wafk.ato Dar, and after negotiating with . some lifficulty the shoals in the lower part of ho river's course, . were lying at the Bluff. .The Avon was a small paddleteamer with bulwarks of bullet-proof ron, and fitted with a system of pipes by vhich hot water from the boilers could be jected ■on to uninvited . boarders. . The 'ioneer, a much' larger vessel, driven by . stern wheel, and carrying on her deck wo large bullet-proof turrets of iron, lierced for rifles, was capable of carrying i large number of . men. One of her 'turets or' cupolas may still bo seen lying on he rivedside at Mercer, and the other t the Bluff, a little lower down the /iver. he also had entertainment for possible formers in the form of a hot-water sysem. The Avon carried .an Armstrong 2-pounder, and the Pioneer two, those i the latter vessel being afterwards relaced by two 40 pounders. Besides the larrier's boats, mentioned before, a numer of others had been taken up, some y road and some by way of the Waiuku 'reek and the Awaroa portage. A numer of sailors from H.M.S. Miranda, iclipse, and Curacoa went also to the rant to man these boats and assist geneally in 'operations on the water, Colonel Moule had joined the staff at fie front, and had been succeeded in the ommand of the irregulars left in the )wn by Major-General ■ Galloway. Towards the end of ''August this officer, wishlg to find out hew his command would iyn out in the event of any sudden mergency, had the alarm sounded one ay.' No little „ alarm and consternation aa caused to the townspeople, but the xperiment was a complete success, and le rapid manner in which the men—at le .'time engaged in their various avocaons in every part of the town — into le ranks with arms and accoutrements inch gratified their officers, who felt that fter so prompt a response to orders the :ty would be safe from any sudden surrise. It was believed that no force of 10 enemy the volunteers, were not. capble of dealing with easily could possibly st through by land. The greatest dread •as" that a party would travel via the [auku, and cross the Manukau in canoes, o prevent this the Naval > Brigade had loroughly searched the Manukau and. token up all the canoes that could be rand, but it was believed _ that * a largo umber .were still hidden in spots that ad eluded the searchers. This ultimately irned out •to be correct, for later on a amber were found secreted in the scrub [i the banks of the Papakura channel, nd. the'conjectures of those who feared lat an J invasion by this route was coji:mp?ated were apparently justified^. ■

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Bibliographic details

STORIES OF FIFTY YEARS AGO., New Zealand Herald, Volume L, Issue 15216, 1 February 1913, Supplement

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1,371

STORIES OF FIFTY YEARS AGO. New Zealand Herald, Volume L, Issue 15216, 1 February 1913, Supplement

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