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Fort Napier: the imperial base that shaped the city
05 Nov 2009
Graham Dominy and Hamish Paterson

For seventy-one years, almost half its recorded history, Pietermaritzburg served as an important base for the British Army. Although no battle took place in or near the City, imperial troops marched out to fight in numerous campaigns ranging from minor skirmishes with cattle raiders and black peasant farmers to the major wars with the Zulu kingdom and the Boer republics.

The Imperial Garrison acted as an important link between the City and the rest of the Empire. The regiments that succeeded each other in the local barracks were liable for transfer to outposts scattered anywhere between Dublin and Delhi, China and the West Indies. This leavened the parochial attitudes of the townspeople and gave them a vicarious interest in exotic places and far-flung battlefields. The seven decades that imperial troops spent in the City also linked Pietermaritzburg with major world conflicts. The first garrison commander in 1843 was a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo and the last, in 1914, led the former garrison of the City , the 1st South Staffordshire Regiment, into the holocaust of the First World War battles in Flanders.

Above: Fort Napier sited in a commanding position over Pietermaritzburg. Note the rectangle of brick barracks, completed in 1845, whose outer walls were loopholed for defence, and flanked by two stone bast ions.

British military involvement in Natal began in December 1838, but was sporadic and confined to the coast until 1842. This was a year after Dick King's epic ride to Grahamstown for reinforcements to relieve the beleaguered British force in the 'Old Fort' in Durban. The Voortrekkers submitted to British authority in July 1842, but their Volksraad continued meeting in Pietermaritzburg and some Trekkers still hoped to shake off the imperial yoke. The British envoy sent to Pietermaritzburg in 1843 asked for troops to be despatched from Durban to occupy the Voortrekker capital. The commander of the troops, Major Thomas Charlton Smith, refused to move from Durban until reinforcements arrived. On 22 July 1843 a detachment of the 45th Regiment, newly arrived from Ireland, disembarked through the surf at the port. Nevertheless more than a month passed before Smith could be persuaded to move inland.

On 25 August 1843 Major Smith, veteran of Waterloo and defender of Durban's 'Old Fort', marched for Pietermaritzburg with two companies of the 45th Regiment, some Royal Engineers, a troop of the Cape Mounted Rifles and a half battery of field guns. The troops of the 45th Regiment were under the command of Captain Kyle, a son of the Bishop of Cork, and marched equipped for battle as attacks by the Voortrekkers were feared . The march was, however, uneventful and the force arrived safely in Pietermaritzburg on 31 August. Lieutenant Charles Gibb of the Royal Engineers chose the most defensible position for the camp, the hill at the western end of the town , on which the 45th Regiment planted its standard.

The camp was named Fort Napier, in honour of the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Napier. On the evening of 31 August, Major Smith positioned the artillery to command the town and mounted guards to protect the camp from a surprise night attack. The precaution proved to be unnecessary as the dispirited Trekkers made no aggressive moves. Understandably the Trekkers resented the presence of the garrison, but as the troops settled in and began mixing with the townspeople the atmosphere warmed and eventually many strong bonds of friendship developed between the Trekkers and the men of the 45th.

Left: Toy soldiers? Parade at Fort Napier in 1861 forthefir ing of the 9 o'clock gun.

The British authorities relied on the garrison not only to overawe the Trekkers with a show of military strength, but to woo them with practical demonstrations of the benefits of British rule. The troops were encouraged to mingle with the Trekkers and were given leave so that they could help on Boer farms. The establishment by the garrison of a theatre in 1846 can be seen as part of this policy. In 1844 officers of the garrison established the Maritzburg Turf Club which advertised its first meetings for 8 and 9 July. The race meet was widely supported by Trekkers and troops alike.

Meanwhile British control over the Voortrekker dorp took physical form. Lieutenant Gibb began construction work at Fort Napier on 1 September 1843, the day after the troops arrived. Barracks were traced out in the shape of a square to provide accommodation for 200 troops from the 45th Regiment, the men of the Royal Artillery, the cavalrymen of the Cape Mounted Rifles and their supporting storemen, cooks, farriers and stable hands. Stone emplacements at opposite ends of the square were constructed first, but work was delayed by heavy rains. The troops had to live in tents for months on end while the officers occupied houses nearby in Loop and Longmarket Streets.

By July 1845 the brick barracks had been completed. The outer walls were loopholed and windowless , while the inner walls that faced the square had windows. On the eastern and western corners were redoubts, mounting three guns on revolving platforms which completely commanded the town. The headquarters of the 45th Regiment moved from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg during 1845 and the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Boys, was appointed commandant of Natal and a member of the Executive Council, and instructed to act as head of the Government in the absence of Lieutenant Governor Martin West.

The garrison at Fort Napier played a critical role in changing Pietermaritzburg from a Voortrekker dorp to a firmly Anglophile Victorian colonial capital. Many of the cultural and social amenities were started by the officers while the other ranks laboured to build a new city. The Government School, used in 1856 for the first meeting of the Legislative Council, was built by two soldiers of the garrison, McKeaney and Murphy. The men of the 45th Regiment, the Royal Engineers, the Royal Artillery and the Cape Mounted Rifles improved and built Pietermaritzburg's water furrows, roads, offices and private houses. The Durban detachment of the 45th Regiment built the 45th Cutting which remained the western entrance to the port city for well over a century. The 45th Regiment left Pietermaritzburg in 1859, but many of the men who completed their period of military service during the Regiment's fifteen-year stay elected to remain in the City as colonists. One such veteran, Thomas Greene, who had arrived in 1843, described the 45th Regiment as the 'real pioneers' of the Colony. Although poorly clothed and fed they were 'ready and willing' to do 'every work that came their way'.

Not only did the garrison provide labour for the building of Pietermaritzburg, but it also provided an important market for the farmers' produce and a very important source of custom to the local shop- and inn-keepers. Pietermaritzburg's economic development would have been far less certain had it not been for the stable market that the garrison assured. This remained true throughout the nineteenth century, despite the overall growth of the City. Shortly before the Anglo-Boer War broke out in 1899, the military authorities threatened to withdraw the garrison from Fort Napier unless the municipality took urgent measures to improve the water supply to the fort. At this stage, because of the political tensions in South Africa there were nearly 5 000 officers and men in garrison at Fort Napier with about 500 women and children living with them. The loss of a market of this magnitude would have been a social and economic disaster to the City that had to be avoided at all costs. The City Fathers acted quickly to improve the garrison's water supply. The men of the garrison who made such a sustained and profound impact on Pietermaritzburg were drawn largely from the two extremes of British society; the wealthy landed classes and the very poor. The middle classes in Victorian England did not join the army.

Right: Lancers at Fort Napier in the 1890s. A motley collection of offices and stores surrounds the parade-ground.

The officers came from the wealthy upper classes and the landed gentry. Before 1871 officers had to purchase their commissions, which effectively barred all those without substantial resources from military careers. After the abolition of the purchase of commissions the need for a private income kept the exclusive character of the officer corps intact. An officer could not afford on his army pay alone uniforms, servant, mess bills, horses, sporting equipment and other luxuries considered essential to his status as an 'officer and a gentleman'. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the British officer devoted more time to his own amusements than he did to his regimental duties. Intellectual pursuits were shunned, but young officers enjoyed amateur dramatics, gambling, hunting, shooting and equestrian pursuits. These activities played a great role in shaping the character of Pietermaritzburg.

Right: The spoils of war. Troops marching down Chapel Street in 1865 on their return from exacting 'compensation' from the Basutho.

The strong local tradition of amateur dramatics has its roots in the garrison's theatre begun by young officers. The history of the 45th Regiment claims that the first performance was held on 3 March 1846 before the Lieutenant-Governor, Martin West, but this has been disputed. Nevertheless, the first confirmed performance was also by army officers on 8 August 1846. As has been noted, officers of the garrison organized the Maritzburg Turf Club, polo matches, cricket and other sports. The officers of the 45th Regiment were avid hunters, and in the late 1840s one expedition near the City slaughtered an elephant and twenty-six eland, missing ten lions and two more elephant. Balls and dances were popular entertainments and were often the climax to other social events. In 1844 the Maritzburg Turf Club held an end of year race meeting on 30 and 31 December which was followed by a highly successful New Year's Eve ball organized by the officers. Some officers, such as Captains Garden and Gordon, sketched and painted, and provided Natal with some of its earliest European works of art. The garrison, however, brought more than a touch of glamour to Pietermaritzburg: it accentuated the class consciousness and snobbery of Victorian society.

Left: Military duties were coupled with public entertainment: a military concert in Alexandra Park. The Imperial Garrison holding a review in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday, 24 May 1899.

Pietermaritzburg acquired the reputation of being the most 'clique-ridden' town in Southern Africa. The officers of the garrison and the very senior colonial officials lorded it over the rest of the City's inhabitants in blatant and cutting ways. Class segregation dictated social events, the Race Ball of the May Season being followed by a Tradesmen's Ball.

At the other end of the social scale the garrison greatly stimulated the liquor trade and the world's reputedly oldest profession prostitution. Drinking and womanizing were the two most sought-after forms of relaxation for the British soldier. In 1884 the Waterloo Bar in Church Street was a favourite haunt of the garrison and was the scene of numerous brawls and a few deaths. A veteran of the 82nd Regiment, John Mockler, who settled in the City, concluded that the Tommies kept Pietermaritzburg 'alive'; and in 1938 an elderly City innkeeper, Mr Sammy Froomberg, recalled that when cavalrymen visited the Black Horse Bar, they would ride into the bar, down their drinks while still mounted and ride out again.

The 'other ranks' of the Victorian army were drawn from the slums of Britain's industrial cities and included drunkards, criminals and the otherwise unemployable. The army was virtually the only welfare service provided by the Government of Victorian England. It was also one of the most frequently used escape routes for destitute young Irishmen seeking relief from poverty and famine. Irishmen were numerous in the 45th Regiment and provided Pietermaritzburg with its first significant numbers of Roman Catholics.

Another unit that had a very long association with Pietermaritzburg was the Cape Mounted Rifles. From the 1840s until the Regiment was disbanded in 1870 a detachment was stationed at Fort Napier. The CMR was a unit of the Imperial Army. Although many of its men were recruited from the coloureds of the Cape Colony, it had British officers and was a professional, not an amateur volunteer military unit. The CMR had an arduous time in Natal. Often the only cavalry available to the colonial Government, the CMR patrolled the foothills of the Drakensberg, the Zulu and Basotho borders, pursued San cattle raiders and guarded remote farms. It is also likely that the CMR made its contribution to the growth of Pietermaritzburg's coloured population. Many men from the garrison regiments had sexual liaisons across the colour line and so, in addition to enforcing the Pax Britannica, the Imperial Garrison played an important part in developing Pietermaritzburg's multi-cultural population.

Above: Entertaining the cit izens. A cavalry display in Alexandra Park.

The garrison was also concerned with the public health of the City. In 1847 the Regimental Surgeon gave smallpox innoculations to the citizens of the town, and the army doctors generally watched anxiously for signs of communicable diseases and acted vigorously to stamp them out, in the City as well as in the fort. During the Anglo-Boer War it was the townspeople's tum to care for the Tommies. The homes of Pietermaritzburg were flung open to the wounded streaming into the City from the battlefront along the Thukela River. The Natal Parliament moved out of its debating chambers so that wounded troops could be treated. St. George's Garrison Chapel and Maritzburg College were also pressed into service as hospitals to supplement the inadequate medical facilities at Fort Napier. During the first thirty-odd years of its history, Fort Napier was the best protected complex of buildings in the City and the natural rallying point in the event of trouble. During the 1850s the Colonial Treasurer's office was robbed of a large sum of money and the Lieutenant Governor decided that the Government's funds would be safer in Fort Napier under military guard than in a bank or government office.

In 1861 conflict over the royal succession in Zululand caused the colonists to fear that Natal would be invaded. Lieutenant-Governor Scott marched the 85th Regiment, a troop of the CMR and supporting artillery post-haste from Fort Napier to Kranskop to forestall any Zulu invasion. The citizens of Pietermaritzburg gathered in alarm around the reassuring guns of the fort, and its redoubts were manned by Natal Volunteers. Fort Napier also served to shelter a royal fugitive. Prince Mkungu, a younger son of King Mpande, was a student of Bishop Colenso's out at Bishopstowe where the Government felt he was vulnerable to a possible kidnap attempt by his vengeful elder brother, Prince Cetshwayo. Lieutenant-Governor Scott arranged for Mkungu to be placed in 'protective custody' in Fort Napier until the crisis passed. During the scare the time-gun fired daily from the Fort fell silent. The firing of a gun was to signify the arrival of an invading Zulu force, but Cetshwayo's army never crossed into Natal and Pietermaritzburg soon relaxed.

The garrison found it less easy to do so because facilities at Fort Napier were becoming progressively more overcrowded. During the 1860s the officers still lived in the City, staying in the fort overnight only when they were on duty. In 1864 this practice, and the overall conditions at the Fort, were severely criticized by the General Officer Commanding in South Africa, Lieutenant-General R.P. Douglas. He pointed out the 'mischief� likely to occur when officers were not present overnight. He also described the garrison's hospital accommodation as 'miserable' and the troops' recreation facilities as 'defective'. A building programme was launched but it took time for the facilities to be improved. In the meantime the troops sought their relaxation in the town and on the sportsfield. On 26 September 1866, Pietermaritzburg had its first football match, between a team of City lads and a team of large soldiers from Fort Napier. The match was a draw despite the shameless bias of the referee, Sergeant Clark, towards his fellow soldiers.

It was not, however, the soldiers who fulfilled General Douglas's predictions of mischief, but the officers. The editor of the Times of Natal, William Watson, published some veil ed innuendoes concerning a Captain Yardley and a young lady. The captain and four brother officers visited the editor's home and, since he refused to apologize, attempted to tar and feather him. Mr and Mrs Watson and their daughter resisted the military hooligans and the noise brought neighbours and officials to their aid. The officers were charged in the magistrate's court, but the charges were dropped once the officers apologized to Mr Watson and paid damages.

The 99th Regiment (2nd Wiltshire) was in garrison between 1865 and 1867 and, encouraged by the Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Maclean, coupled its military duties with public entertainment. The highlight of the fashionable 'May Week' Season was the review of the garrison followed by a ball at Government House. The pantomime antics of the garrison and the reaction of the local populace provided a good example of the extent to which the Pax Britannica rested on bombast and bluff. The parade at Fort Napier on 24 May 1865 was described as the making of 'mimic war' which entertained the audience. The 'shouts and shrieks of astonishment and delight' from the black observers were considered a 'revelation of unaffected barbarism' and the colonial observers concluded that the garrison's military display ought to have a 'wholesome influence' on the minds of the Colony's black population.

Ten years later the garrison was required to exercise a 'wholesome influence' on the minds of the Colony's white population. The 'Langalibalele rebellion' which had shaken the Colony in 1873 had seen imperial troops take the field, but the brunt of the action had been borne by the colonial volunteers. The mission of Sir Gamet Wolseley in 1875 was one of the political consequences of the Langalibalele affair. The 13th Regiment (Prince Albert's Light Infantry) was to lend social support to Sir Garnet's political efforts to change Natal's constitution. Wolseley's tactics have been described as 'drowning the liberties of Natal in sherry and champagne'. The band of the 13th Regiment played at the Governor's glittering ball s and receptions, and Wolseley's staff of aristocratic officers dazzled the colonial ladies while the Governor browbeat their husbands.

Wolseley decided to attend church services at Fort Napier and endure the tedious sermons of the elderly military chaplain rather than having to choose between the services of the rival bishops, Colenso and Macrorie. Sir Garnet inspected the fort on 5 April 1875 and was not impressed. He described the barracks as a 'disgrace' and the married quarters as resembling 'Irish hovels'. A new building programme began in August 1876, partly as a result of Wolseley's criticisms, but also because of increasing political tension in the Transvaal and on its border with Zululand. The fortifications were extended and a ten-foot-deep trench with corresponding earthworks was built around the barracks. Less than three years later the British invaded Zululand in January 1879 and Natal was rocked by the news of the disaster at Isandlwana. The centre of Pietermaritzburg was fortified and Fort Napier was prepared as one of the key points of the City's defences. Women and children were to shelter behind the fort's earthworks while a scratch force of civilian volunteers and military base staff defended the City. As in 1861, Natal was not subjected to a Zulu invasion. In 1881 the Transvaal revolted and the garrison rushed north to attempt to quell the rebellion. The defeat at Majuba led to peace negotiations and the garrison returned to barracks. During the 1880s and the early 1890s the burning political issue for the Natal colonists was that of responsible government. The position of the Imperial Garrison was one of the important factors in the debate. The Imperial Government insisted that the colonists take over their own defence and that the garrison be withdrawn or reduced. Many colonists felt that the garrison was vital to their security and others felt that it was essential to their prosperity. The debate raged on, but Natal finally received 'responsible government' status in 1893 with an Imperial Regiment still garrisoning Fort Napier.

Above: Maritzburg College was used as a military hospital during the Second Anglo-BoerWar.

During the 1880s tensions mounted within the garrison and, in 1887, when the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the Inniskilling Dragoons were both stationed at Fort Napier, serious trouble broke out. A fatigue party from the Fusiliers refused to clean out the Dragoons' barracks and the infantrymen were arrested. A little later some of their drunken comrades stormed the guardroom and released them. The whole party then marched into town and the uproar spread. They attacked a military patrol, killed a corporal and terrified the townspeople. Eventually they were hunted down and arrested by the city police and the Dragoons. The mutineers appeared before civil and military courts and two were sentenced to death. One had his sentence commuted to penal servitude for life, but the other was hanged in the City's prison. His body was removed and given a decent burial by the Roman Catholic nuns of Loop Street.

The Glitter of the Garrison

by Hamish Paterson

The imperial troops at Fort Napier dictated many of the City's pastimes for more than seventy years. In 1938 an elderly pub-keeper nostalgically remembered the days when 'Tommy' reigned supreme in Pietermaritzburg and people did not go to bed early.

Amateur theatricals began in the garrison theatre in 1846, starting a tradition that continues. Regimental bands played in the parks and on the Market Square. This was not always popular as clashes occurred between Nonconformist religious sects, anxious to protect the sabbath, and the troops, backed by music-loving citizens. Sporting fixtures were arranged by the troops: football, cricket, gymkhanas, croquet, steeplechases and horseracing. The garrison gave Pietermaritzburg a sparkle that many other South African towns lacked entirely. The officers escorted the ladies of the town to most of the social events and a young officer was a sought-after catch for the daughters of the City's social leaders. Cavalry officers were married off with some rapidity to eligible ladies in the 1880s and 1890s.

During the 1890s the political situation in South Africa worsened and the British garrison was reinforced. The buildings at Fort Napier were deteriorating and in urgent need of renovation. In late 1892, the General Officer Commanding in South Africa inspected the fort and described the corrugated iron barrack huts as being like ovens in summer and bitterly cold in winter. He refused to allow troops to live in them as this was 'incompatible with ordinary considerations of humanity'. Another construction programme began at Fort Napier, the most gracious building being the new garrison chapel, St. George's.

The Anglo-Boer War saw Boer commandos within 50 km of Pietermaritzburg, but the City itself was not directly threatened. Fort Napier was used as a supply base for the forces of General Sir Redvers Buller that were trying to relieve Ladysmith. The City was also an important medical centre during Buller's campaign, but after March 1900 the main fighting moved west across the Berg and Natal became a military backwater.

After the signing of the Peace of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902, the garrison at Fort Napier was reduced in numbers and in quality. The better troops were required in the Transvaal and the new Orange River Colony, and Fort Napier was occupied by various detachments of the prosaically named Royal Garrison Regiment.

The outbreak of the 'Bambatha rebellion' in 1906 led to imperial reinforcements being sent to Natal. The 2nd Cameron Highlanders and the 3rd Royal Warwickshire Regiment garrisoned Fort Napier, but imperial troops were not committed to the field. The rebellion was suppressed by Natal colonial forces with the assistance of volunteers from the other South African colonies. One of the results of the rebellion was the realization of the Natal colonists that they needed the safety of a united South Africa to maintain their dominance over the restive black population. Negotiations towards this end began in Durban in 1908 and Natal joined the Union of South Africa on 31 May 1910.

The Imperial Garrison remained at Fort Napier for a few more years consoling the townspeople of Pietermaritzburg, who regretted the loss of their capital status, with performances of regimental bands, balls and sporting events. The outbreak of the First World War resulted in the final withdrawal of the garrison. On 12 August 1914 the band of the 1st South Staffordshire Regiment beat the retreat in front of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall and the troops boarded the train en route for the horrors of the Western Front.

The South Staffordshire Regiment saw action all through the campaigns of autumn 1914 and was decimated at the first battle of Ypres in November. By the end of 1914 most of the officers and men that Pietermaritzburg had known so well were dead or wounded. It was the end of an era.

During the First World War, Fort Napier was used as an internment camp for German prisoners of war and citizens from all over the Union and from other British colonies in Africa. In 1918, at the end of the War, the British Government handed Fort Napier over to the Government of the Union, and by 1920 the last military administrative personnel had left Pietermaritzburg.

Relic of an era that had ended, the fort stood empty and in decay. Having unsuccessfully attempted to sell it to the Pietermaritzburg municipality (who thought the price too high), the Government divided it in 1927 into two sections. One was given over to the construction of housing for white railway-workers; and the other - which included most of the now derelict buildings of the old fort - was turned into a mental hospital. There are hopes today that the historic core of buildings might be restored.

Above: The last of the garrison. Officers of the 1st South Staff ordshire Regiment at Fort Napier in 1914, just before leaving for the Western Front and the first battle of Ypres.

Regiments in Garrison at Fort Napier, 1843-1914

by Graham Dominy

This list is derived from the commemorative plaques in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall. Minor modifications, such as the inclusion of the Cape Mounted Rifles, have been made. The plaques give the designations of the regiments as they were when the plaques were mounted and not necessarily as they were when the regiments served at Fort Napier. Support units, such as the Royal Engineers, are not included.

During the Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer Wars Fort Napier served as a base camp for the forces in the field and was occupied by a wide variety of units for different lengths of time.

1843-70 Cape Mounted Rifles
1881-90 6th Inniskilling Dragoons
1890-92 11th Hussars
1892-95 3rd Dragoon Guards
1895-98 7th Hussars
1896-97 9th Lancers
1898-99 5th Royal Irish Lancers
1884-93 4th Mountain Battery
1893-98 10th Mountain Battery

1843-59 45th (1st Sherwood Foresters)
1859-61 85th (2nd King's Shropshire Light Infantry)
1861-62 59th (2nd East Lancashire Regiment)
1863-64 25th (2nd Royal Northumberland Fusiliers)
1864-65 2/11th (2nd Devonshire Regiment)
1865-67 99th (2nd Wiltshire Regiment)
1867-70 2/20 (2nd Lancashire Fusiliers)
1870-71 32nd (1st Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry)
1871-75 75th (Ist Gordon Highlanders)
1875-77 1/13t h (1st Somerset Light Infantry)
1877-78 80th (2nd South Staffordshire Regiment)
1878 1st/24th (1st South Wales Borderers)
1878 2nd/24th (2nd South Wales Borderers)
1879-80 3/60th (Kings Royal Rifle Corps)
1880-84 58th (2nd Northamptonshire Regiment)
1881-86 1st Welsh Regiment
1883-85 1st Argyl1 and Sutherland Highlanders
1884-87 2nd South Lancashire Regiment
1886-88 1st Royal lnniskilling Fusiliers
1888-91 1st Royal Scots
1887-90 1st North Staffordshire Regiment
1891-94 2nd York and Lancaster Regiment
1894-98 2nd Duke of Wellington's Regiment
1897-99 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers
1898-99 1st Leicestershire Regiment
1899-02 Anglo-Boer War (no permanent garrison)
1902-03 2nd King's Own Royal Regiment
1902-03 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment
1904-08 1st Royal Garrison Regiment
1906 2nd Cameron Highlanders
1906-07 3rd Royal Warwickshire Regiment
1907-09 2nd Royal Norfolk Regiment
1908-09 3rd Royal Fusiliers
1909-13 1st Wiltshire Regiment
1913-14 1st South Staffordshire Regiment


SOURCE: Pietermaritzburg 1838�1988: a new portrait of an African city, edited by John Laband and Robert Haswell (Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press and Shuter & Shooter, 1988), pp. 102�9.

Comments: [Post a Comment]
Posted by Peter Harvey on 07 Jan 2012
Fort Napier

After a lifetime, I now understand where my great grandfather (Sgt. Frederick Harvey, 6th (Inniskilling)Dragoons) was stationed in South Africa. Home base was Brighton Barracks in Britain and my grandfather, Alfred Harvey, was born in 1884 in a British Army Transit Camp at Pinetown, near Durban. Any further information on the regiments involvement in Natal would be appreciated.

Posted by meg on 31 May 2011
bringing history to life

Thank you for the insight into the history of the fort. I drove past it every day when I lived in PMB. Stumbling upon this website has really given me an insight into the history of the area and highlighted the importance of the regiments in shaping Maritzburg into what it is today. In particular I had not realised that St George's garrison church was built so long after the fort and the old provost. Very interesting - thank you!

Posted by jenny robertson on 17 May 2011
Fort Napier
I am doing some research for a novel and really enjoyed this insight into the co-existence between the Imperial Army and the
'good folk' of Pietermaritzburg.
Thanks for all the hard work
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