Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 65

Defence of Wereroa

Defence of Wereroa.

On the 1st November, 1868, a detachment consisting of Captain Wilmott Powell (in command), Lieut. Broughton, Ensign Witchell, 4 [unclear: geants] and 54 rank and file of the Wanganui Militia, marched [unclear: out] to reinforce thirty of the Armed Constabulary stationed at the page 82 Wereroa redoubt. After a few days, the Armed Constabulary, under Sub-Inspector McDonald, were ordered to Waverley, to take part in the operations against Titokowaru, leaving the Militia only to garrison the redoubt. After the disastrous fight at Moturoa, Colonel Whitmore, with the whole of the constabulary and friendly natives, fell back upon Nukumaru. Wereroa then became an advanced post, six miles in front, with the enemy quite close in the flanking bush. At this time the redoubt was almost defenceless, having only a shallow ditch and low parapet about waist high. The block house, which was being built on the edge of the gully, was about 15 yards from the redoubt, the framework only being up. Seeing that the enemy might attack at any moment, Captain Powell and the officers and men under him set to work, and for 18 hours laboured at strengthening the defences. Empty flour bags were filled with earth out of the ditches, and placed on the top of the parapet, leaving loop-holes to fire through. Fascines made of manuka scrub were also utilized, and fixed with stakes in the same position. The whole of the loose timbers for the block-house were brought into the redoubt, and flour and other necessaries were carried in from the store-house outside. At 4.30 p.m. on the day on which the preparations were completed, the Maoris, numbering about 150, fired a volley from a hill overlooking Perekama, and shortly afterwards crossed the valley and got close under the hill below the block-house. From here they kept up a heavy fire, which passed close over, or lodged in the bags at the top of the parapet. The acute angle at which the Maoris were firing was the principal reason that the Militia had no casualties. The flag-stall was struck repeatedly, and the men and officers had several narrow escapes. At dusk the enemy set fire to the blockhouse, the upright frame of which, it being a still night, burnt for hours, and lit up the ground surrounding the redoubt, rendering it impossible for the Maoris, except at a heavy loss to themselves, to attempt a rush. The defenders inside behaved with considerable coolness and courage, returning the fire with interest, several of the enemy being dragged down the hill by their comrades, leaving ramrods, cartridges, &c., behind them. About 10 p.m., finding that they could not effect a lodgment, or successfully carry the redoubt, the Maoris fired a last heavy volley, and, yelling like demons, retired across the valley to Perekama. Colonel Whitmore, the following day, sent orders for the evacuation of the redoubt, and covered the retreat with 200 men of the Armed Constabulary. The Militia, before leaving the redoubt, destroyed the tents and stores to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy, and bringing away the kegs of ammunition on the troopers' horses.

decorative feature