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The Story Of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864

The British Repulsed

page 27

The British Repulsed

The British assault on the Pa was delivered about four o'clock in the afternoon. The storming party, soldiers and sailors of the Naval Brigade and 43rd Regiment (in all about 300 men) rushed gallantly to the attack. Then we loosed our fire on them when they got well within range—still they charged on, with bayonets fixed and swords waving, cheering as they came. Through and over the breach walls they rushed; they entered the ruins of the larger pa; most of it was in their possession. But all at once the tide of war was changed. Up leaped our men from the rifle pits as if vomitted from the bowels of the earth, and together with those who had been forced back by the 68th Regiment in the rear, began a deadly hand to hand fight with the storming party. The defenders of the smaller pa held their position and raked the attackers with a heavy fire. Men fell thick and fast. Tomahawk clashed on cutlass and bayonet—tupara (double and single barrel fowling pieces) met rifle and pistol. Skulls were cloven—Maoris were bayoneted—Ngaiterangi patiti (hatchets) bit deep into white heads and shoulders. The place was soon full of dying and dead men, pakeha and Maori. We in the eastern position of the large pa stood firm. It was terrible work, but soon over. The pakehas were driven clean out of the pa; as they ran our men falling upon them. They fell back on their main body below our works, leaving many of their dead and wounded strewn on the battle ground.

The Maoris, though victorious, had suffered severely. My parent, Rawiri, fell with seven gunshot wounds. The troops suffered most from getting into a cross fire between the two pas, but particularly from the smaller one. The soldiers and sailors were all mixed up together and were equally brave.