Topic: Colonel Greer Report (27 June 1864)

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Greer made a report to the Military Secretary: Camp, Te Papa, Tauranga, 27th June, 1864.

Sir, I have the honour to state for the information of the Lieut.General Commanding in New Zealand that I have little to add to the report which I sent in on the 21st inst. relative to the engagement at Te Ranga beyond bringing to his notice those who more particularly distinguished themselves.

About 10.30 o'clock the troops were so disposed in front and on both flanks that retreat without heavy loss seemed impossible for the Maoris.

About 12.30 o'clock, having reinforced the skirmishers (with two companies of the 68th) and cautioned the men to reserve their fire (which they did in the most steady manner), the advance was sounded, and the men moved as if on parade. To the dash, determination and steadiness with which the attack was made the success which followed is due.

From the fact that the attack was made in Light Infantry order, and from the Maoris having waited for the charge and made a desperate hand-to-hand resistance, more opportunity was offered of showing individual gallantry than might occur in much more extensive operations; but the attack was so simultaneous, and all did their duty so well, it is difficult to make selections. I beg, however, to bring the following to the favourable notice of the Lieut.-General Commanding.

Major Synge, 43rd Light Infantry, commanding the line of skirmishers, who had his horse shot under him in two places when close to the rifle pits.

Major Colville, 43rd Light Infantry, who gallantly led the left of the line of skirmishers into the rifle pits, being one of the first in.

Major Shuttleworth, 68th Light Infantry, who commanded the support, consisting of the 68th Light Infantry and the 1st Waikato Militia, and brought them up in the most soldier-like manner, and rushed on the pits at the critical moment.

Captain Trent, Acting Field Officer, 68th Light Infantry, who fell severely wounded when leading two companies of the 68th into the left of the rifle pits, and continued cheering on the men until the pits were taken.

Captain Smith, 43rd Light Infantry, who is reported to have been first into the right of the line of rifle pits, and whose gallant conduct was so conspicuous. I have forwarded evidence with a view to his being recommended for the Victoria Cross. He was wounded severely in two places.

Captain Casement, 68th Light Infantry, who was severely wounded in two places, in front of his company, when leading them into the rifle pits.

Captain Berners, 43rd Light Infantry, who was also severely wounded when leading in front of his company, close to the rifle pits.

Captain Seymour, 68th Light Infantry, who took Captain Trent's place when that officer fell, and led into the left of the rifle pits in the most gallant manner.

Lieutenant Stuart, 68th Light Infantry, who was one of the first into the left line of rifle pits, and had a personal conflict with a Maori armed with an Enfield rifle and bayonet, and by him he was slightly bayonet-wounded, but succeeded in cutting him down with his sword.

Captain the Honorable A. Harris, 43rd Light Infantry, who was detached to the right in command of two companies of the 43rd to enfilade the enemy's position, and afterward brought the companies at the critical moment to assist in the assault.

Captain Moore, who commanded the 1st. Waikato Militia, and led his men up to the rifle pits and shared in the assault.

Lieutenant Acting Adjutant Hammick, 43rd Light Infantry, who performed his duty with great coolness and courage under a heavy fire.

Lieut.-Grubb, R.A., whose coolness and excellent practice with the six-pounder Armstrong under his command when under fire during the action and subsequently on the retreating Maoris when they had got beyond the reach of the Infantry, was admirable.

Surgeon-Major Best, 68th Light Infantry, principal medical officer, who performed his duty assiduously under fire, paying the greatest attention and care to the wounded.

I can say the same of Assistant Surgeons Henry, 43rd; Applin, 68th; and O'Connell, Staff; the former was particularly brought to my notice by Major Synge, commanding the 43rd L.I.

Lieutenant and Adjutant Covey, 68th Light Infantry, FieldAdjutant, and Ensign Palmer, 68th L.I., acting as my Orderly Officer, who performed their duty coolly and gallantly, affording me valuable assistance. Lieutenant Covey having been sent a message by me to Major Shuttleworth, when he was on the point of attack, went with the supports, and was dragged into a rifle pit by a Maori, who thrust a spear through his clothes. Ensign Palmer was struck in the neck by a musket bullet and knocked from his horse insensible when riding beside me; when he recovered and had his wound dressed he performed his duty during the rest of the day.

Sergeant-Major Tudor, 68th L.I., who went in front and distinguished himself in several personal conflicts with the enemy in the rifle pits.

Sergeant-Major Daniels, 43rd L.I., and Acting-Sergeant-Major Lilley (70th Regiment) of the 1st Waikato Militia, who also distinguished themselves by their coolness and courage.

No. 2918 Sergeant Murray, 68th L.I., whose gallantry and prowess were so distinguished I have thought the matter worthy of being recommended for the Victoria Cross, and have with that view forwarded evidence.

No. 2832 Corporal J. Byrne, V.C., 68th Light Infantry, who, when the order to charge was given, was the first man of his company into the rifle pits. A Maori, whom he transfixed with his bayonet, seized his rifle with one hand, and holding it firm, with the bayonet through him, endeavoured to cut him down with his tomahawk. His life was saved by Sergeant Murray.

No. 3641, Private Thomas Smith (severely wounded) and No. 518, Private Daniel Caffery, 68th L.I., both distinguished themselves by their gallant conduct in the field, and their prowess in the rifle pits.

I beg to add that during the engagement several reports were forwarded to me stating that a large body of natives were coming down by the Wairoa to attack the camp at Te Papa at low water, the information having been given by friendly natives. Low water on that day was at half-past three o'clock. I was back in camp about half-past two o'clock and artillery, Mounted Defence Force and reinforcements of infantry were following me. I, however, found that every necessary arrangement had been made by Lieut.Colonel Harington, 1st Waikato Militia, who was in command at the Camp during my absence.

I beg to bring to the notice of the Lieut.-General Commanding the readiness with which Captain Phillimore, H.M.S. “Esk,” and the Senior Naval Officer at this station, and Commander Swan, H.M.S. “Harrier,” responded to my request (which I sent immediately on finding the Maoris) that they would lend all their available force for the protection of the Camp.

I have since learned that the report of the natives coming down to take Te Papa was true, but that the result of the affair at Te Ranga disarranged their plans.

For nearly an hour previous to the assault I had seen a Maori reinforcement coming down from the woods, yelling and firing their guns, and when the advance was sounded they were not more than 500 yards from the rifle pits.

I beg further to add that while in command here I have only endeavoured to carry out the instructions given me by the Lieut.General Commanding and if I have had any success it is to the foresight of those instructions, and to the good discipline and courage of the troops under my command, it is to be attributed.

On Wednesday morning last (22nd inst.) I sent a strong patrol under Major Colville, 43rd L.I., to bury the dead and fill in the rifle pits. 108 Maoris were buried in the rifle pits which they had themselves dug the morning before. The patrol returned the same afternoon without having seen anything further of the hostile natives, nor have any been since observed in the neighbourhood.

In addition to the number buried in the rifle pits, fifteen of the wounded prisoners have died since they were brought in. I am sending up 8 wounded and 11 unwounded prisoners by the Alexandra, and nine are detained for treatment in the hospital at this station, making a total of 151 Maoris accounted for. Enclosed are lists of the arms captured from the enemy and handed over to the Military Store Department, and returns of the killed and wounded of the Forces under my command.

I have, etc., H. H. GREER, Colonel Commanding Tauranga District.

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Colonel Greer Report (27 June 1864)