Mosega is Sacked
At Blesberg, the trek wagons continued to pour in, including one hundred wagons under Gert Maritz, not a farmer but an accomplished administrator and artisan. On 7th December 1836, a meeting was held that elected Potgieter as military commander of the trek and Maritz - now a rival to Potgieter - as administrative head.
On January 2nd 1837, a small commando of 107 men set out from Blesberg, travelling past the site of the present Pretoria and then west to within range of Mosega, the complex of kraals that formed the Matabele capital, a total distance of some 320 miles.
The Attack on Mosega At dawn on the morning of January 17th 1837, the Voortrekkers set upon the first of the kraals with total surprise, killing men, women and children. Herding survivors before them and torching the kraals, the Voortrekkers had laid waste to Mzilikazi's capital Mosega by the end of the morning leaving not a single warrior alive. No Voortrekkers were killed. Mzilikazi was away at the time at Kapain.
However, the great military kraal at Kapain was still intact and the horses were too tired to make the extra 60 miles. The Voortrekkers, several thousand head of cattle and a party of American missionaries (that had elected to join them rather than stay) retired rapidly back across the Vaal River before the Matabele could regroup.
There then arose the first taste of discord between the leaders. Maritz wanted the cattle booty divided equally but Potgieter wanted back what had been lost at Vegkop - eventually getting his way. Potgieter moved out of Blesberg to make contact with Tregardt only to find that he had already left for Delagoa Bay and he thus returned to the Vet River to await the next turn of events.
The Momentum Increases
The victories at Vegkop and Mosega had a galvanizing effect on the Boers wavering in the Cape. Soon, thousands (eventually 12,000) had packed their wagons and were trekking north.
The victories also had the effect of not only to populate vacant land but of forming their own state and subjugating any of the current inhabitants. The British community of the Cape understood the Voortrekkers' grievances and wished them well and a small number of British accompanied the Voortrekkers.
Erasmus Smit To the Voortrekkers' dismay however, the single mainstay of their lives, their religion, was threatened. The Dutch Reformed Church refused to sanction the trek and not a single minister accompanied it. Thus it was that such ceremonies as marriages devolved upon the trek leaders.
Near Blesberg, where there were now almost one thousand wagons, an American missionary provided some succor for Potgieter's party. Those of Maritz however preferred Maritz's brother in law Erasmus Smit, a flabby man of sixty with a very loud, hectoring, overbearing wife and a weakness for drink. His sole ambition was to be regarded as the main Trek minister even though he was unordained and had little training.
The Object of the Project is to give an account of the Great Trek, Identify participants and explore where they went.
In time a number of other projects can be created to explore in more detail different aspects of the subject. For example - the Battle of Bloodriver could be sub project.
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