1866 - A Campaign on the West Coast of New Zealand - A Contrast, p 46-47

E N Z B       
       Home   |  Browse  |  Search  |  Variant Spellings  |  Links  |  EPUB Downloads
Feedback  |  Conditions of Use      
  1866 - A Campaign on the West Coast of New Zealand - A Contrast, p 46-47
Previous section | Next section      


[Image of page 46]


In closing the history of General Chute's brilliant campaign we consider it a duty which we owe to the Imperial troops in New Zealand, as well as to the people of this colony, to place before our readers the following extract of a despatch from.



"With regard to my requiring from General Cameron services which would render necessary the continued presence in New Zealand of the present force, if not indeed its increase, I have to observe that an investigation of the services I required from General Cameron will show that the whole native population between Taranaki and Wanganui--men, women, and children--was about 1500 souls, no inconsiderable portion of whom were friendly to our interests.

"The distance between Taranaki and Wanganui is one hundred and twenty-eight miles, all of which, except about ninety miles, was in our possession, and along which supplies could be landed from steamers at several points. Colonel Warre, C. B. commanding at Taranaki, wished to be allowed to advance through ninety-four miles of this distance with a column of six hundred men. That this was no unmeaning bravado on his part, but simply what he could well and efficiently perform, is fully shown by what he has recently done. This left thirty-four miles of distance for Sir D. Cameron to accomplish, eighteen miles of which, viz., from Wanganui to Waitotara, was through a perfectly well known country in our possession. The total force the Natives could have collected between Taranaki and Wanganui could not have amounted to eight hundred men, including their allies and chiefs, and males of all ages who could have hold a gun.

"The great bulk of the Natives left on the Wanganui river, who would have been left in General Cameron's rear as he moved towards Taranaki, were our firm and fast friends.

"The great bulk of the Natives left at Taranaki, who would have been in Colonel Warre's Rear as he moved to Wanganui, were also our friends.

"The force the Lieutenant-General had at his disposal, or which could at any time in a few days have been at his disposal, will be shown by the inclosed returns of the forces at Taranaki and Wanganui to have been in officers and men as follows:--

Wanganui ... ... 4459
Taranaki ... ... 2423

[Total] -------- 6382

Besides the ordinary Militia, who could have been called out to protect their settlements.

"Only two bodies of Natives were ever got together to oppose Sir D. Cameron, which, from statements which can be relied on, consisted the one at Nukumaru of not four hundred souls, the other near the Patea of one hundred and forty souls.

"Sir D. Cameron however, it now appears from your despatch of the 27th of March, had written to her Majesty's Government informing them that I expected from him services which would render necessary the continued presence in New Zealand of the present force, if not indeed its increase; and upon the 30th January last, following up these views, he wrote to me informing me that the engagement at Nukumaru had shown that the Natives had concentrated a large force, and were likely to offer the most determined resistance to his advance through a difficult country; and he recommended that I should apply by the first opportunity for a reinforcement of at least two thousand men, and for a still larger reinforcement if, in addition to the occupation of the country between Wanganui and the Patea, the road between Taranaki and Wanganui was to be opened, and more land to be confiscated and occupied north of the Waitara.

"The reinforcements thus asked for, would have raised Sir D. Cameron's force in officers and men at Wanganui alone, (to open the last sixteen miles of road to the Patea River), to upwards of six thousand five hundred, and including Taranaki, to upwards of nine thousand officers and men.

"I felt it to be my duty to decline to ask for the reinforcements applied for, which I judged to be obviously unnecessary, and I did not think it right that any stop in the operations

[Image of page 47]

entered on should take place. Had I consented to the applications made, and had I stopped operations until reinforcements of at least two thousand men had arrived from England, rebellions would have broken out in other parts of the Island, and an enormous useless expenditure of money and loss of life would have been incurred.

"Sir D. Cameron's views were however entirely discrepant from mine. On the 15th of March he informed me as follows:-- 'All the reasons you mention for deciding not to apply for reinforcements, are to my mind the strongest reasons why they should be applied for.' And he plainly accused me of being ready to incur almost any risk to get immediate possession of the Waitotara Block, although such an idea had never in any form presented itself to my mind, of allowing a war to be carried on for the profit and gratification of the colonists; and I was informed that the question of the loss of British officers and soldiers, was one that never sufficiently entered into my calculations; and other similar remarks were made. If anything could have at once alarmed and dispirited troops, it was knowing that their commander believed that they were opposed to a numerous and determined enemy, with whom they were unable to cope without being reinforced by at least two thousand men; and that the man who sent them on this service was reckless of the lives of British officers and soldiers, and was thus prepared to sacrifice their lives for the profit and gratification of the Colonists.

"My position was necessarily a most painful one. The plan of operations I wished to be carried out, and which the result has shown would have finished the war in a month or six weeks, was rejected as absurdly impracticable. Not only was this done, but I was subjected in letters to remarks of the most cutting kind, because I would not suspend operations until a useless and unnecessary force could be collected and brought to bear upon an enemy who could under no circumstances exceed eight hundred in number, and of whom certainly not much more than half could have been brought to bear on any one point; and whilst this was taking place at one end of the line (Wanganui), the officer at the other end of the line (Taranaki) was offering to open the road three-fourths of the distance between the two places with only 600 men.

"Although therefore Sir D. Cameron did not approve of these operations, and in this respect I acted contrary to your wishes, I deemed it my duty to you to hold to my views. The result has been that Sir D. Cameron only encountered one hundred and forty men, whilst the only other Natives in his direction are about two hundred and thirty-four in the Wereroa Pa, and that Colonel Warre has achieved every object I proposed to attain on his side without losing an officer or man, so that in practice I have not been found to be so disregardful of the lives of British officers and soldiers as I was stated to be.

"Looking at the present state of things, I would only request you to consider what it would now have been if in February last I had suspended operations at Wanganui, and we were now here awaiting the arrival of additional reinforcements from England of at least two thousand men, whilst rebellion had broken out in several parts of the country; and what would have been said to me for refusing to direct a movement into a country defended by less than eight hundred badly armed men, until a British force had been augmented from nearly seven thousand to nearly nine thousand officers and men. Great Britain can bear up against an enormous expenditure of this kind so uselessly entailed upon her, but a Colony like New Zealand must have its resources so destroyed by it, that it is difficult to see how it can hereafter provide for its own defence. Had the general officer here been required to acquaint me with the nature of his reports to the Secretary of State for War, on which such an expenditure was justified, I feel confident that I could by my remarks have saved large sums to the British Treasury and to the Colony.

"I have, &c.,
The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M. P."

Printed at the Times Office, Wanganui, New Zealand.

Previous section | Next section