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The Old Frontier : Te Awamutu, the story of the Waipa Valley : the missionary, the soldier, the pioneer farmer, early colonization, the war in Waikato, life on the Maori border and later-day settlement

The Second Day

The Second Day.

“The morning of the first of April brought Jackson and his Rangers. I was glad to see another half-hundred revolvers page 66 make their appearance and strengthen my rather ticklish position. Some of Jackson's men, on passing by the sap, had volunteered to work therein. They did excellent service, all having been diggers, and, being strong, daring fellows, they pushed the sap in great style. They were under the direction of George Whitfield, who had got his commission for his behaviour at Mangapiko. At Orakau his services were quite as prominent, and should have been recognised more than they were.

“Another weary, weary day—wait, wait—nothing but waiting. There was not even the fun of a war-dance—no water for boilers, so there could be no steam. Now and then yet a hurrah or so of the natives, when someone got prominently hit, but the strength of voice and lung displayed on the first day had made us hypercritical, so that their performance in the vocal department was not appreciated. They made, however, some very good shooting, particularly at unconscious amateurs and spectators. There was poor Major Hurford, of the 3rd Waikato Regiment. He came to me and said that he had just had two very narrow escapes, one ball contusing his breast, another his hip. ‘I am so glad,’ he said, ‘that my wife will not hear of this until all is over.’ The following morning it was all over with him.

“That day the natives began running out a counter-sap to outflank ours, and the firing from each covering party became exceedingly hot. We got all our own lead from those musical Enfield messengers en masse. When it comes to eating, drinking, and sleeping under an unceasing peppering of lead, when it drops into your pannikin, or into the bowl of your pipe—a man may be excused for losing his temper—if he has one to lose.

“The natives in the bush showed again that afternoon, but their spirits were not so high as the day previous. They would not treat us to any more war-dances, and just fired their sullen shots to let their friends in the pa know that they were there. That evening the sapping party of Jackson brought home their first victim of the war—Private Coglan. Having exposed himself rather imprudently in planting a gabion, he was shot dead on the spot.

“I felt a little less anxious that night. More than one hundred revolvers were now in a row, which in half a minute would fire 500 shots, and these at close quarters should tell. At night there is nothing like a revolver for a struggle.