Sir Garnet Wolseley utilized his powers as both high commissioner in southeastern Africa and governor of Natal and the Transvaal to attack Chelmsford as GOC, South Africa. He sought to impose a settlement upon both Zululand and the neighboring Transvaal. He resolved that Zululand should be ruled by thirteen minor chiefs. He then moved into the Transvaal to restore British prestige by overthrowing Sekhukhune, whom the Boers had failed to defeat in 1876. He assembled a formidable composite force, comprising the 2/21st and the 94th with two companies of the 80th, four guns, and a party of Royal Engineers with explosives to attack Sekhukhune. The sappers were ‘employed from dawn till dark’, cutting pathways, preparing drifts for ox-driven wagons, and organizing the construction of forts. The British forces in the Transvaal were reduced when Wolseley departed, and were cut again under Sir George Pomeroy Colley, Asante veteran, who replaced Wolseley, until he had only 1,800 men, with no cavalry and only four guns. The soldiers were also widely dispersed in six isolated posts.
This chapter presents the initiatives taken by Sir Garnet Wolseley, who was appointed by the British Government as administrator and commander-in-chief on the Gold Coast on 13 August 1873. He was despatched with twenty-seven special-service officers to work with the local Fante tribesmen to resist the Asante. He promptly requested British reinforcements after his arrival in September, planned a short campaign over the less hazardous months of December, January and February, and then decisively defeated the Asante in battle before sacking their capital, Kumase. His skepticism about the resolve, reliability and martial prowess of the coastal tribes, particularly if required to fight in the bush, was widely shared by British officers and men. He continued to employ native auxiliaries and requested the dispatch of British soldiers. He accepted Cardwell's instructions that ‘every preparation should be made in advance’, that the forces should not be disembarked until the decisive moment occurred, and that they should operate only in the most favorable climatic conditions, namely the four months from December to March.