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Warden's Post - Fort Warden
Komgha, Eastern Cape

Robert THOMSON: Engineer
Charles Cornwallis (alias Collier) MICHELL: Engineer



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32°33'17.78" S 28°00'19.41" E Alt: 535m

In order to take possession of the territory claimed on 10 May 1835 D'Urban arranged for the construction of a number of fortifications. Before the cessation of hostilities he embarked on the creation of a series of posts or forts at strategic points.

The first of these, Fort Warden, was begun only two days after the proclamation of 10 May: "I am now employed here in constructing the Entrenched Camp for my first fort of occupation in the New Territory"

This fort, situated on a branch of a tributary of the Kei River, the Mpotshane, was near the wagon route to the territory across the Kei. The fortification which consisted of a square redoubt of sixty yards on each side (containing a cattle kraal, stables and "beehive huts" for officers and men) and well surrounded by a ditch and abattis, was completed by 20 May whereupon detachments of artillery, cavalry and infantry, under Captain Warden of the Cape Mounted Riflemen, was stationed there. A "hamlet" of Mfengu was formed near the post, "to be of assistance to the troops in various ways." The fort, initially known as the "Intrenched (sic) Camp on the Impotshana" , soon became known as Warden's Post or Fort Warden.

Extracted from:

Webb, D. Fortifications in Queen Adelaide and British Kaffraria. Annals of the Cape Provincial Museums: Human Sciences. Volume 1 Part 6. 31 August 1989. Albany Museum, Grahamstown. pp 213

Description of Fort Warden

The fort comprises a square surrounded by a prominent ditch, with traces of a low bank round the inside and a vehicle track running through it. The interesting features of this fort are the projecting lobe-shaped redans for the gun en barbette, visible midway along three of the sides. It is possible that the redan on the fourth (east) side has been destroyed by the track. The ditch curves around each of the three lobes. Two military graves are located in close proximity to the east side of the fort. Coetzee (1995) makes no reference to the redans and would therefore appear not to have found the fort.

Transcribed from notes made by Richard Tomlinson (Port Elizabeth) after a site visit on 25 August 2006, with the Eastern Cape Branch of the SA Military History Society.

See Target Stone, Fort Warden Farm

(Submitted by William MARTINSON)

Military Graves

The two military grave are marked with grave stones made from sandstone (presumably quarried in the vicinity of the fort). Each stone was roughly formed into a regular slab, with the wording beautifully composed and carefully - yet naively - incised into the surface of the stone.

The wording of each grave stone has been transcribed below:

HANNA's grave stone.

Roughly rectangular slab:

to the
John Hanna (Late) prvt.
Soldier in the Light Company
of H.M.'s 75th Rgt. who Departed
this Life on the 24th Dec 1835


- ------ -

FITZPATRICK's grave stone.

Rectangular slab with arched top and incised half-round perimeter margin.
The letters of the first word were arranged to follow a semi-circular shape in response to the arched top of the stone:

,,,to the,,,
Kyran Fitzpatrick
Corpl. Late of .H M. 75th
Regt who Departed
this Life Aug't. 25. AD
1836. Aged 30 Years,,,

Both stones have been set on a slight incline with a base formed of river stones set into mortar. This restoration of the grave site was carried out by the Komgha branch of TocH, presumably in the mid 1930's. Evidence of this is the rough lettering TOC H KOMGHA inscribed into the mortar at the base of Fitzpatrick's grave stone.

(Submitted by William MARTINSON, after a site visit on 02 August 2015)

Books that reference Warden's Post - Fort Warden

Coetzee, Colin. 1995. Forts of the Eastern Cape : Securing a frontier 1799 - 1878. Grahamstown: Colin G Coetzee. pg 192-195
Richings, Gordon. 2006. The life and work of Charles Michell. Simon's Town: Fernwood Press. pg 96