South Africa Medal 1834-53

J. Marks, Caulker HMS Castor

J. Marks, Caulker
HMS Castor

South Africa medal 1834 – 53

This medal is often referred to as the “Kaffir Wars” medal  with Kaffir meaning “unbeliever” (of arabic origin).  Whilst Kaffir resentment of land encroachment by white settlers lay at the heart of these conflicts, the real catalyst sprang from a minor incident in December 1834 when a patrol of the Cape Mounted rifles was attacked during an attempt to recover stolen horses. The trouble spread and escalated into widespread pillage and murder. Settlers fled to Grahamstown or the nearets military fort. In january 1835 Colonel Harry Smith made a famous 600 mile ride in six days from Cape Town to Grahamstown where he restored order. peace followed later in September 1835 after  more sweeping up operations.

The second Kaffir War  known as the war of the Axe arose from resentment of British encroachment on land between the Keiskama and Great Kei Rivers and was triggered by an incident when the escort of a Kaffir prisoner accused of the theft of an axe was massacred in March 1846. Failure to surrender the murderers resulted in punitive force being sent to strike at Chief Sandili’s kraal in the Amatolas. The warriors were heavily defeated in the battle of Guanga in June however the troubles persisted and didnt conclude until the end of 1847.

The Third Kaffir war began in December 1850 after the Cape Colony Governor Lt General Sir Harry Smith had been making attempts reduce the powers of the chiefs in the eastern regions of the colony. Hostility flared up when a British column was ambushed at Boomah Pass. During November and December 1852, before all the Kaffir chiefs had finally submitted, an expedition was despatched across the Orange River to deal with a threat from the Basutos whose military tactics were superior to those of the British had previously experienced. At the battle of Berea, the cavalry nearly suffered a major disaster. It took nearly two years of harassment before all resistance ceased and peace proclaimed March 1853.

HMS Castor

HMS Castor

South Africa Medal 1854 Obv

South Africa Medal 1854 Obv

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