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Camp, Patea River, Thursday, Feb. 16.

The whole of the troops stationed at the Waitotara camp paraded at 1 o'clock a.m. this morning— the 18th Itoyal Irish in front — and moved off in the direction of the Patea River. The force was composed of portions of the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Military Train Cavalry, 2nd battalion 1 8th, 50th, and 57th regiments, Brigadier Genera^ Waddy and staff, accompanied by the LieutGeneral Commanding and his heads of departments. The force took the road along the sand flats which lie close to the sea beach, and a fearful road it is. The force had fre quently to hold until a track was cut by the engineers to allow the packhorses to pass. A good portion of "the ground marched over lay on the beach, which is covered with this heavy iron sand and is very fatiguing for men to march over. The force arrived on the banks of the Patea about 9 a.m., without having seen anything of the natives, friendly or rebel; indepd it was hardly expected that we could, as our line of march lay too near the beach. One native settlement was passed better than half-way between the two livers, but by the appearance of it no one has been Hung in it for a long time past. One or two parties were left behind the main body for the purpose of making certain parts of the road passable for drays, so the last of these parties did not arrive in camp until late in the afternoon. A little before dark last night the Sandfly and Gunriagai got up steam and proceeded in the* direction of Wanganui. This must have been only a blind, as we had the two steamers accompanying us close inshore at daylight this morning, when the vessels arrived opposite the village alluded to which passed about half-way between the two rivers. Captain Cadell, Superintendent of Colonial Transport (water), who was on board the Gundagni, observed two canoes lying on the bank and close to the sea beach ; he immediately ordered the two steamers to lie to, and dispatched a boat from each for the purpose of taking them in tow. The Gundagai crossed the bar aboat half-tide ; the Sandfly about an hour and a half afterwards ; it was as much as the Sandfly could do to get over the bar; in fact there was a doubt one time whether she was not aground, which I afterwards found out was the case, and but for her very able and experienced commander, who is well ac quainted with this description of navigation, she certainly would not have come off, as she did, with flying colours. At all events, both' vessels are at present lying inside in safety, with seven or eight feet of water to work in when the tide is flowing. The Gundagai has discharged the greater part of her cargo this afternoon, but the Sandfly, which has a large quantity of provisions on board, has not yet commenced to discharge. The vessels come within twenty yards of the edge of the river and the cargo is discharged by means of boats. The camp is pitched on the left bank of the river, on a table land about 400 feet above the level of the sea ; it will be very difficult to bring the supplies from the place where the steamer lands them up to the < camp, as the road is almost perpendicular down to the river. The.t.will be one of the first works to be accomplished by the troops — to make a road from the camp to the beach for pack horses and drays. The steamers are just over the bar and anchored iDside. The river is very narrow ; it is not more than three or four feet deep at its mouth, and hardly enough uater on the bar to float a dingy. There is no sign of any rebels about this locality, although I observed something like a flagstaff with a flag flying on it about a mile and a half in our front. I have heard that the General is aware that there is a rebel pa about three miles from here, on this side of the river ; we do not yet know if there are any cultivations in its vicinity, as no one is allowed to cross. The only crops 1 see on this side is a field of turnips, which have been allowed to go to wreck, as they have never been interfered with since the seed was' put in the ground ; tho men are appropriating the tops for 6oup, which I daresay they will relish, as they have had no vegetables, with the exception of a day or two at Jvukumaru, since their arrival in the district. There were a niimber of horses and cattle seen on the march. On the arrival of the force at its destination sorrie of tho officers drove in about thirty beautiful horses. The Waitotara camp is to be garri. soned by troops which arrived from town, and the posis in rear of the Waitotara; Major Rook© is at present in command. The redoubts which have been erected are capable of containing all the force that is intended to be kept at that post.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZSCSG18650311.2.20

Bibliographic details

Camp, Patea River, Thursday, Feb. 16., New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, Volume XX, Issue 2046, 11 March 1865

Word Count
879

Camp, Patea River, Thursday, Feb. 16. New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, Volume XX, Issue 2046, 11 March 1865

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