29th. November 1868
My dear Sir,
I beg to sympathise with you most sincerely in the sad loss you, and we all, have sustained, by Biggs' death. I fear I shall not get over it for a long time; for, as you may imagine, from our intimacy, the news has affected me very much.
Immediately on hearing of this terrible massacre, I wrote to you, to Haultain, and to Whitmore-offering to go with my Mission to you, but I fear they will not let me do so. My men are all very anxious to get back, and give me no peace about the matter. We are now holding the advanced camp at Patea, about a mile and a half from the settlement; and a most disagreeable place it is - nothing but wind and dust all and every day. I have built a pretty strong redoubt, and Think I could hold out for some time, having nearly 200 men under my command. It is known to be a very bad position, and commanded on one side. Whitmore, I believe to be somewhere near Wanganui; but as communication overland, is, for the present, unsafe; and no steamer has been able to get to us,
since I volunteered for the East Coast. I am not sure where his camp is at present.
Tito Kowaru and his party, are, for the present, playing a game of hide and seek with Whitmore; and I doubt if the little man has the slightest idea where he is. I think it probable he will double back on him, and attack us here, so I keep a good look-out for danger.
The affair at ''Okotuku'' was most disastrous; as bad, if not worse, than ''Ngvtv o te Manu'' or ''Ruaruru''; the casualities being so much greater.
Poor Hunter is very much missed by us all. He has a fine, well-educated, clean, gentlemanly fellow, and one whom everybody liked.
I trust you are quite well. Please remember me kindly to Ormond, and all friends.
Try and get us back if you can. My blood boils when I think of poor Biggs and his wife, such a dear little woman - dying as they have done. We have not yet got here a full and complete account of the affair, and there are one or two things which puzzle me in the matter. Where were Gascoigne and his scouts? How did the Wairoa force let them pass them? Because if they came - as they must have done - by the inland track, scouting parties in a country, where the
slightest movement can be seen for miles, should never have allowed a large body - or even a few natives - to travel, as these must have done, any part of it, without their knowing it. Besides, it appears some of them were mounted. To me, these two things are still mysterious, and I am anxious to have them solved. If you get us round, you have this advantage - that I, and Richardson, with the major portion of the Division, now about 80 strong, and in good order for fighting and hard work, know nearly every inch of both the coast and inland country; and with my own natives to act as scouts - natives on whom I can depend - your force would not only be numerically, but in every other respect, stronger. You will have men who have served you before, and who naturally are eager to avenge their dead Officer's and Comrade's murder; and who are not raw material - for even the last recruit has been under fire. Personally, I, of course, would rather not serve under any other Officer; but if necessary, do not let that stand in your way. I will cheerfully and faithfully serve under old Tuke himself, if you wish it.
Whitmore is trying to get round, himself - so he writes to me. I hope he will not succeed, but if he goes, and I go under him, I will give him all the support I am able.
Please excuse this scrawl. I thought I would write to you to let you know how things are here.
Poor, poor Biggs! His loss has cut us all up. The whole Division, without my saying a word, went at once into mourning for him, and Wilson, whose unfortunate wife, I trust, will get better. She must have escaped by a miracle.
Whitmore, in his letter to me, says he is almost frozen, and one cannot wonder at it.
Yours very sincerely
P.S. We have had no news here for some 6 or 7 days, except from Taranaki, where things are, as yet, quiet.
There is a rumour brought by the native mailman, from Taranaki, that the King had declared war, but I could not trace it to any authentic source.
Richardson desires kind remembrances to you. He is as eager as I am to get to you again.