Mounted Basotho Set I: “Chief Molapo’s Band” set includes six different figures and six horses. Figures contain metal and are supplied unpainted.
“Our Basotho figures are suitable for the period 1840-1880, including ‘Major Warden’s War’, (1851) the Battle of Berea (1852), the conflicts with the Orange Free State in the 1850s and 60s and the ‘Gun War’ (1880). Note, however, that by the time of the Gun War at the tail-end of the bracket, a much higher proportion of warriors would have been wearing hats and European clothing, and that some would have been armed with rifles, including a few breech-loaders, such as the Snider-Enfield.”
Molapo personality figure
“Molapo ‘Jeremiah’ Moshoeshoe, (1814–1880), aged 37 at the Battle of Berea (20 December 1852), was the second son of Chief Moshoeshoe’s First House. At the Battle of Viervoet, during ‘Major Warden’s War’ of July 1851, Molapo had commanded one of three Basotho cavalry divisions. At Berea he again commanded a major mounted formation, embracing both Basotho warriors and an allied Bataung contingent led by the sons of Chief Molitsane. Conventionally said to be 700 strong, my own research leads me to believe that Molapo’s division was almost certainly twice that size.
Evidently, a commander possessed of real ‘cavalry dash’, Molapo surprised Lt-Col George Napier’s cavalry ‘brigade’, (it was only 2 squadrons strong), as it was retiring from Berea Mountain with 4,000 captured cattle. The rearguard half-troop, under the supervision of Maj. William Tottenham, the acting CO of the 12th Lancers, was very badly mauled in a chaotic withdrawal from the mountain. Tottenham himself played a genuinely heroic role in the retreat and was fortunate enough to survive. Subsequently, Molapo had some of his warriors dress up in the jackets and white forage caps of the dead lancers. Carrying captured lances and formed up like cavalrymen, the impostors rode towards Colonel William Eyre’s infantry column, on another part of the plateau.
Eyre mistook them for General Cathcart’s escort and rode towards them, accompanied by his headquarters staff officers and the handful of lancers that had been assigned to his column. Eyre was obliged to defend himself with his revolver but was able to gallop to safety. His DAQMG, (effectively his chief of staff), Captain Walter Faunce, 73rd Regiment, was less fortunate. Reportedly a poor horseman, Faunce was hemmed in, taken prisoner and clubbed to death some short while later. After fighting Eyre’s infantry for a couple of hours, Molapo led his people down from Berea to participate in the climax of the battle around Pelea’s Kraal in the Phutiatsana (or Little Caledon) river valley, opposite Moshoeshoe’s mountain-top stronghold at Thaba Bosiu.”
By Iron Duke Miniatures.