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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

The Attack on Sentry Hill Redoubt

The Attack on Sentry Hill Redoubt.

Captain Shortt and his company were located there, near the spot where the junction of the New Plymouth and Waitara lines now exists. The location of a force there seemed to cause the enemy a little annoyance, and they would have given something to rout them out of it. They appeared to have somewhat underrated the difficulties attending such undertakings, if we may judge from their action in this particular instance.

A prophet, in whom they placed every confidence, went one evening, after the sun had disappeared over the watery horizon, to the gate of the redoubt, which had been closed for the night. Sergeant Fred. Day was on duty, and he went to see what the native wanted, supposing him to be one of the friendlies. He opened the gate, and was just in expectation of having some important item of intelligence disclosed to him, when, as sudden as a flash of lightning, he received a smack in the face that would be no discredit to Slavin. This was a sort of a surpriser, and so unhinged his wits that it took a little time to fully realise that he had been duped; and before anything could be done the "prophet" was bounding page 72 away in the fern, and got, as a matter of course, safe away to Matatawa—Billy King's Pah.

The "prophet" must have told them what he had done in the pakehas' camp to the boss of the guard; that they could go up and take possession of the place just a readily as he had carried out his little mission. They appeared to believe him, and at once preparations were made to go and take possession next morning. As the next day dawned, unusual activity seemed to prevail up their way Their voices could be always heard at the redoubt when they were at all excited. Precautions were taken at the redoubt Soon they could be heard getting nearer. The men fell in but no one could be seen but the usual sentry walking his post. The big gun was ready to belch forth its deadly grape &c.

On they came, many in full view; others sneaking through the fern. Matters at the redoubt were so apparently tame that they felt themselves almost in possession. Such ideas as these are sometimes very premature. In this instance it was so. They approached within easy popping distance. Still they could see no move but that of the sentry's head. The; opened the ball. No response. They must have caught the idea now that that they would soon take charge of the pakehas' quarters and all therein contained. Some may have gone so far as to foresee any amount of pickled pakeha within the near future.

Poor deluded simpletons, they little knew the fate many of their number would meet ere the breakfast bugle in the redoubt would call the defenders to refresh after their morning's exercise. They were now so conveniently close that the men lying waiting were burning for the fray. There little Captain Shortt gently said, "Up, men." I don't think he repeated all the famous words used by the Iron Duke at; Waterloo. Up arose fifty or sixty heads. Bang goes about that number of rifles. Then the attackers began to realise the fact that their morning's outing would not be an unmixed pleasure. Many, no doubt, sorely regretted their early move. Some had but little time to think over it, their souls having departed to the happy hunting ground; others were lying in agony. The gun then vomits forth among them. Terrible then was their excitement. Brave fellows. There they were, in spite of a deadly fire, carrying away their dead and page 73 wounded. Some would succeed; others only dropped to keep them company.

So much for the advice of their prophet. I wonder they didn't fix him up when they got back. They suffered a severe loss. The men in the redoubt went out to pick up those left behind. Captain Shortt received promotion over that little affair. There was no one hit at the redoubt. That prophet must have fallen much in their estimation after letting them in like that.