The Dutch Strike Gold: Timeline about VOC exploits in Southern Africa

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by TongaTui, Apr 27, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Part 1

    TongaTui Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2018
    Jan Pieterszoon Coen was an officer of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Indonesia in the early seventeenth century. He was the founder of Batavia, the capital city of the Dutch East Indies.

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    Coen was known in his time on account of strict governance and harsh criticism of people who did not share his views, at times directed even at the 17 Lords of the VOC (for which he was reprimanded). Coen was known to be strict towards subordinates and merciless to his opponents. His willingness to use violence to obtain his ends was too much for many, even for such a relatively violent period of history. In 1624 he was reappointed governor-general in the East Indies.

    A major problem in the European trade with Asia at the time was that the Europeans could offer few goods that Asian consumers wanted, except silver and gold. European traders therefore had to pay for spices with precious metals, which were in short supply in Europe, except for in Spain and Portugal who plundered it from their colonial holdings. The Dutch and English usually obtained it by creating a trade surplus with other European countries but it was not sufficient. One solution Coen had considered was to start an intra-Asiatic trade system, whose profits could be used to finance the spice trade. In the long run this obviated the need for exports of precious metals from Europe, but a major drawback would be the required formation of a large trading-capital fund in the Indies which would be expensive.

    Coen settled himself on his desk. He was currently in Hoorn within the Republic, but would soon be required to depart in the coming days back to Batavia. The English might hamper them a bit on the way but he was not one who feared skirmishes, as he had been in quite a few over the course of his career. A map lay across the surface of the wooden top of his table as he carefully examined his options from both a strategic and financial perspective. He considered pursuit of the rather hefty trading-capital fund endeavour. It would take years and be a considerable investment, but he did not have any other clear option at the moment, and doubts the lords are shy with their money as long as ample reason is supplied. Though he could not ignore the difficulty he had with constantly having to balance the scales, how can the VOC last on frugality alone?

    “How easy it is for the Spanish and Portuguese” he thought “They swim in gold and silver like it’s nothing. They spend it freely to fund their exploits in both the West and East Indies, meanwhile we sit here playing with numbers and praying for good fortune. If that wasn’t enough of an irritation, the English are always giving me headaches.”


    The map that lay in front of him was that of the Southern coast of Africa, a region that the Dutch regularly passed on the way to the East Indies. Indicated on the map were several Portuguese holdings along the Western and Eastern sides of this cone. He had seen this type of map plenty of times and didn’t see it as much more than a waypoint marker or perhaps some help for an occasional stop to forage for supplies, which the ships often ran low on. In large lettering and with a very rough estimated area near the South eastern side of the cone, he saw the name “Mutapa”. From his general knowledge he knew the Portuguese interacted with this kingdom of sorts and often traded in gold, something that surely he could use some of. He considered the thought for about a second, but then dismissed it.

    ”The Portuguese have complete control of the East coast, chasing after some meagre trade posts, wasting manpower, funding, ships and starting conflict just to run into another obstacle of then dealing with a gold rich kingdom would be a waste of time, one must plan his moves carefully”
    he reassured himself.

    Nonetheless he still stared at the map. It just had writing around the coastline for various bays and geographic landmarks, hardly anything was known about the interior, or where perhaps Mutapa and other Eastern coast kingdoms may be obtaining their gold.

    He sat up straight, placed his elbows on the table and rested his chin on his hands. He knew the idea he was entertaining was very likely a waste of time but he had become irritated by the image of Portuguese traders sifting their dirty hands through ever increasing pots of gold and silver. Within this dark continent their might be something to gain if one just sent a well enough equipped force to investigate. Coen was familiar with the legends, the legendary mines of King Solomon may lie there as referred to in the Bible as Ophir, but he knew many of these tales were unfounded and most likely just a drive for young recruits into the Portuguese naval forces. However, gold was there in considerable amounts, so it should not be unlikely that there just has to be more waiting to be discovered, and taken.

    He considered that the VOC was already overspending anyway. Another few ships searching for trinkets off some rock where there was a large amount of traffic anyway would not be such a major expense, especially if one’s fortunes are good in the end. It wouldn’t be so much of a bad idea for a while either, if he could possibly convince the lords to let him do so personally even. However, he was sure the allure of possibly easing the company’s heavy expenses would be more than enough for them to permit him to lead an expedition. Also, the prospects of a strategic port didn’t sound awful either, if such an expedition turned up empty handed. “Despair not, spare your enemies not, for God is with us” he murmured silently.

    Coen thought that a point of entry would ideally be as far away from Portuguese trade posts as possible, and should to a degree be a healthy and fertile region that can offer the option of foraging, as well as function as a reasonable harbour. “Kaap de Goede Hoop” he said to himself, tapping his finger on the crudely illustrated tip of the coastline, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans met. The inhabitants of this region were for the most part docile but barbaric, they won’t be much of an obstacle, and their knowledge would prove valuable in safely traversing the terrain. Trekking inward however will be dangerous nonetheless, and he can’t consider leaving Eva, a woman he fancies.

    "I guess I’ll have to get a subordinate to do this. Hopefully their journey will at least yield some information regarding the interior, even if they do not find anything of value. Perhaps the Portuguese are already there? Who knows?”
    he thought.

    Jan Pieterszoon Coen would later petition the 17 lords of the VOC to allow the allocation of a fleet of ships to transport a small force to the Cape of Good Hope. Besides the rather shaky hope of finding a route to Mutapa without dealing with the Portuguese, and the source of their gold, he strengthened the argument for this expedition by adding that building a harbour as a re-supply point and way-station for Dutch East India Company vessels on their way back and forth between the Netherlands and the East Indies here would be extremely beneficial. The lords after some deliberation, much to his delight, informed Coen a few days later that they would allocate the appropriate amount of resources for establishing this settlement and funding an expedition.

    In 1625, Coen married Eva Ment, and in 1627 departed incognito for the East Indies with his wife, their newborn child and her brother and sister, starting work on 30 September 1627. Twice during Coen's term in office, Sultan Agung of Mataram besieged Batavia, in 1628 and 1629. Agung's military was poorly armed and had inadequate provisions of food, and was never able to capture the city. During Agung's second siege Coen suddenly died on 21 September 1629, likely due to the cholera outbreak in Batavia during this siege.

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    Slightly before dusk on Saturday, April 6 1627, five of the thirteen ships that left the Netherlands more than three months before entered Table Bay under the command of Jan van Hessen. Their order was to establish a refreshment station at the Cape and map the interior, find a land route towards the kingdom of Mutapa and its gold mines and possibly survey the land for anything that can be of tangible interest to the VOC and warrant special attention.

    Van Hessen was an ambitious man. He was famous for conning a Spaniard out of his trading brigantine but couldn't find a seller willing to pay enough for him to make a quick daalder. To put the ship to use, he accepted a contract from the VOC for this mission in Southern Africa to establish a Dutch presence there and explore the hinterland.

    Armed with his wits, the cheapest cartographer money could hire, 500 men, some horses and a small number of cannons, Jan set sail. In his Daghregister he noted that on a Saturday afternoon there was a gentle cool breeze when they entered Table Bay. On Sunday there were sermons held on board the Dutch ships and on Monday April 8 1627, Jan and his men stepped ashore. They would later be joined by the remaining seven ships a few days later (the eighth one having ended up shipwrecked along the Western coast). About 100 of the 500 men were tasked with staying at the bay and to start construction of a Dutch fort. The rest would begin a long and treacherous journey into the unknown. Accompanying them was a man nicknamed “Herry” or Harry de Strandloper, the teenaged son of a local Khoi chief who had managed to learn Dutch and Portuguese from the passing sailors that occasionally made camp in the area, traded for supplies or who were dumped there for various offenses. He would serve as an interpreter for the Dutch during their mission.

    Herry explained to them that he did not know of any kingdom of gold which they described, and upon understanding the general direction that the Dutch planned to use (a North Eastern route from Table Bay) he expressed his displeasure. He warned them of the San that hunted in that region, and it’s general lack of water. For their sake he advised following the Southern coast where his tongue was spoken and then later turn North as soon as a better route was found. This direction would take long however, as it meant not using a more direct route and crossing several mountain ranges.

    Nonetheless Jan was to a degree a pragmatic man and understood its best wise to accept the advice of the locals. A few days after the initial landing about 400 Dutch men with their horses, cannons and a number of carriages carrying initial supplies departed the small concentration of labourers toiling away at Table Bay. They travelled up the Eastern mountains through a small pass known by the Khoi and vanished from sight.




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    Hope this is an okay start. Please give feedback and ideas so I stay relatively on the right track with this.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  2. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire

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    ...

    I'm interested
     
  3. Threadmarks: Part 2

    TongaTui Active Member

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    The party of Dutchmen had by this point been travelling for about a month. Herry had explained the ways of the Khoi to van Hessen and the division that existed between their clans and the San. From what Herry said, Van Hessen understood that the San were people who primarily hunted for survival in the more arid regions, while the Khoi were pastoral farmers. Herry had also had to unfortunately explain the fact that he only knew the general area around Table Bay where his clan resided. He was soon unfamiliar with the land they travelled in as his clan did not ever migrate this far for fear of encroaching on other Khoi grazing areas. Herry was from this point onwards only useful as an interpreter. From that moment the Dutch had to resort to communicating with the clans for information as they travelled and approached Mossel Bay. While well armed, van Hessen was cautious, weary of running into a hostile clan.

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    However, a greater concern arose for van Hessen as some of the more troublesome men in the party grew tiresome and anxious when in close proximity of the Khoi women. The Khoi women generally having Steatopygiac traits did not make this any easier. The party mostly consisted of mercenaries, who were overall hard to control outside of their contracts keeping them focused on their primary objectives. Van Hessen wondered how long he could keep the men in line in such an environment far away from the Dutch heartland before they would resort to looting and rape as a means to keep themselves entertained. This would inevitably cause a bad reputation to spread about the party in the region which could come back to haunt them.

    Unfortunately such a condition was bound to fester and worsen. The Dutch were soon forced to barter for cattle, generally trading in tobacco, but they soon ran out. A Khoi clan at Mossel Bay made a deal with the Dutch that they retrieve cattle from a rival clan that was apparently stolen. In exchange the clan would allow them half of the cattle they’d return with. The general rule of thumb as van Hessen understood here was that it did not really matter if he returned with more than what was stolen, so the 400 strong party approached the suspected area of the rival clan and began to gather up the herds of cattle. Not much to anyone’s surprise the Khoi clan reacted with arrows. The Khoi were however extremely small in number and generally did not employ mass infantry tactics, so Dutch casualties were minimal; 3 killed via arrow fire and 2 wounded. To add to this the Dutch had about a dozen men suffering from various illnesses. As expected many of the men also resorted to pillage and rape, but also obtained several slaves from this clan.

    The injured and sick were left with the clan the Dutch had helped, who they gave more cattle to than they had initially lost in exchange for the care and protection of their men. Van Hessen advised them to make their way back to Table Bay as soon as they were able bodied and report to leadership about the party’s exploits and restock on goods and ammunition.

    Replenished for the most part in terms of cattle the Dutch continued on their journey for another month, passing through a more forested region East of Mossel Bay and soon reaching the end of the Eastern escarpments of the Cape. Herry explained that from what he understood from the local Khoi is that beyond the next river one would find the Xhosa clans, a numerous people who were generally seen as dangerous by the Khoi and were known to practice cannibalism. In order to communicate with them van Hessen recruited a local Khoi of the Gonakhoe clan who knew the Xhosa tongue to communicate through Herry.

    The intention of the Dutch was now to begin moving northwards, as they had learned from the Gonakhoe Khoi that the route to the North led to a mountainous region filled with water, but it meant moving through very densely inhabited Xhosa lands. Van Hessen intended to negotiate for passage through this area by arranging a meeting with the local chief. Upon arriving near their grazing lands he had noticed that they lived in a more established manner, within huts or “rondawels” as the Dutch referred to them and they practiced agriculture in conjunction with cattle grazing. Their complexions were darker than the Khoi and they were taller, denoting that these people were a negro instead of aboriginal people.

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    When the small attachment of Europeans approached the main Kraal van Hessen noticed that the Xhosa were also much better armed than the Khoi, possessing heavy spears and hide shields. Meeting with the chief who was called “Dalindyebo” van Hessen then through Herry and then through the local Gonakhoe began to address the chief. They learned his clan was called the “Thembu”, and inhabited the region from this area towards the north where they intended to travel. Supposing that he was nearing his destination as this Thembu clan appeared similar in appearance to that of the rest of people along the Swahili coast of Africa, Van Hessen asked if the chief knew about a nearby region that produced gold, but the chief was unfamiliar with any such place near his lands.

    He agreed to allow the Dutch safe passage in exchange for a number of cattle and a working European firearm, to which van Hessen enthusiastically demonstrated its use. After the demonstration Dalindyebo attempted to negotiate the possibility of trade with the Dutch, especially in firearms, to which van Hessen answered he would relay back to his leadership who had much more than they could possibly transport as a small party. Dalindyebo was visibly bewildered with this statement. He came to understand that this impressive force of nearly 400 Europeans armed to the teeth was a mere “small party” on a scouting mission. His mood changed to that of being extremely serious. When it was communicated to van Hessen by Herry that he was perhaps intimidating the king by claiming that his party was just a small part of a much larger force, van Hessen was quick to reassure the chief that the Dutch were established very far away from his lands and conflict would never exist between them, however trade could be arranged.

    With this negotiation ending well the Dutch safely travelled through the dense Thembu lands without fear of conflict. After a few weeks they had reached an area of highlands and upon descending from them again slightly they had reached a large river. Upon crossing the river and traveling along the rugged terrain they encountered yet another settled tribe similar in appearance to the Xhosa they had encountered nearly a month ago. He planned a similar negotiation to what was previously done with the Thembu clan if these people occupy the area as dense as the Xhosa so as to warrant permission.

    When first spotted by the natives, van Hessen and his men were thought to be spirits. Unlike the Xhosa, these people had never seen a European. They described van Hessen and his men to their chief. They said that the men were tall, had large head pieces that shined in the sunlight and pink or pale faces. They described the men's swords and how they killed cattle with them, that they carried very long and oddly shaped clubs on their shoulders and how they wore clothes of many colours. The chief was fearful of what these men were capable of. If they were demons, then they should flee or fight them. In order to investigate he sent armed scouts down to where the party had set up a camp near the river.

    Nearing the camp, some men were able to make out an approaching party of a few dozen natives on the hill above them. It was dark so many of the Dutch were fearful of them currently being surrounded by cannibals. A commotion started in the camp to which Hessen was woken up by the sound of several shots of gunfire. The men explained to him that a group of natives were approaching the camp and an altercation occurred when arrows and shots were fired from both parties. There now lay several dead natives while the rest fled in fear of the thunderous weapons.

    Van Hessen consulted with the Gonakhoe Khoi about the situation, and he told van Hessen that these men were the Bakwena clan. They will most likely muster a force as soon as they learn of this incident. The next morning such an instance occurred. Thousands of Bakwena were reported to be approaching the camp. Van Hessen had anticipated this happening and had ordered the men to move the camp to a nearby hilltop overlooking the river the night before and fortify it as best they could.

    The approaching force consisted of about 2 000 spear and club armed warriors. When Bakwena came in range and began to approach the base of the hilltop, chanting their battle rhythm, the 350 Dutch opened fire with their firearms and cannon, which caused the entire first row of a few hundred men to collapse in near unison. The thunderous sound of the guns along with the flash of white smoke and the sudden and unclear deaths of their comrades, almost super natural, started an immediate scattering among the warriors. The Dutch sent out about a dozen horsemen, knowing well to keep their distance as they dismount, fire, and pursue the Bakwena. Van Hessen had ordered that the Dutch gather up their camp quickly and begin to make their way out of the mountain range in fear of a reprisal attack. Their ammunition was limited and they could not last in a prolonged battle. The horsemen would later catch up with the party to inform them that the villages had been entirely emptied of souls, indicating that the people had fled when news of the massacre reached them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  4. Nabongo Mumia II Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the website TongaTui. I'll be celebrating 365 days on this website on May second.
     
  5. TongaTui Active Member

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    Apr 26, 2018
    Thanks glad to be here.
     
  6. lordroel Well-Known Member

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    Second that, but then again if the Dutch are involved i am always interested.
     
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  7. TruthfulPanda Gone Fishin'

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    1 - you are aware that 1780 combat manuals put "range" at 70m?
    2 - same 1780 manuals put accuracy at said range as "half should hit the target" - the "target" being men standing shoulder to shoulder?

    An interesting timeline - I'm interested if the goldfields can be exploited with XVII-XVIIIth century tech.
    That gold on its own will not save the VOC though - it was ruined by mismanagement, i.e. always paying out dividends.
     
  8. TongaTui Active Member

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    Apr 26, 2018
    U
    Yes I am aware. It was a small hill or a koppie, and the Bakwena would have been standing quite close to eachother, not to mention a close shot with a 17th century cannon at 70 meters would have been quite devastating. I do acknowledge the Dutch would have been doomed if the Bakwena just tanked the initial shot and charged forward, but the shock of witnessing firearms for the first time to people who were used to range combat being extremely light in casualties (and occurring at a much closer range than 70 meters) was in this instance what saved van Hessen. If the Dutch attempted the same with the Xhosa (who were familiar with Europeans and their firearms at the time from more than a century of interacting with the Portuguese) they would have been overrun after the initial volley unless proper fortifications were made to keep them at bay.

    The unique thing about the Witwatersrand goldfields are that the reef was quite shallow, at least initially.

    Once digging can no longer suffice new technology will be needed in order to profit off the gold, but I'll go into more detail in later posts.
     
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  9. TruthfulPanda Gone Fishin'

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    I was trying to find data how much gold was dug up during the rush - did you have any luck?
     
  10. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire

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    Yes... a fellow Dutchman. If you count Limburg as Dutch heheheh :p
     
  11. lordroel Well-Known Member

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    Well we are only Dutch because Germany nor Belgium wanted us.
     
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  12. TongaTui Active Member

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    Depends what period you wish to define as "during the rush".

    Ofcourse until the 1890 MacArthur-Forrest cyanidation process successfully overcame the problems of treating the refractory ore from deeper levels (resulting in a yearly average production of around 4 million ounces) the diggers were limited to more shallow mining. The entire north Eastern part of modern day South Africa and Zimbabwe-(where Mutapa was more or less situated) did become known for their gold, and the Dutch did attempt to pursue this, but at a slightly later date. The POD here is having the Dutch, with their slightly less extensive knowledge of the region, jump start the Cape Colony and make finding this gold a top priority, which they were very much in need of for the Asian spice trade. If the TL leads to this there will no doubt be a lul in any type of production until much better technology is acquired for deeper level mining and consolidation of the interior occurs for more labour to be used in the mines. There are no trains for fast travel across the arid Western interior, and the East coast was at this time heavily controlled by Bantu tribes such as the Xhosa and Zulu. If one went even higher up the coast, you begin to run into the Portuguese aswell as malaria.
     
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  13. TruthfulPanda Gone Fishin'

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    Oct 5, 2017
    By "during the rush" I mean the bucket and shovel period, before mechanised mining.
    For transport the Oranje River might be a possibility.
    The difference versus OTL is that there would be a need for it yet there is no railway yet.
    As this will be a company effort there would be funding for river transport and the portage infrastructure.
    The main issue is bringing food to the people responsible for the portages, as these are in an arid area.
    Upper portage -
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augrabies_Falls_National_Park
    can get food rafted down the river.
    The lower portage - near the mouth - can be fed by ship.
    A bonus is that the portages' staff - when not employed to move goods - can be used to search for diamonds :)
     
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  14. TongaTui Active Member

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    Unfortunately the Orange River is completely obstructed by rapids and sand bars and is generally not navigable for long stretches.
     
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  15. TruthfulPanda Gone Fishin'

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    I took it that there are two non-navigable stretches?
     
  16. TongaTui Active Member

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    Apr 26, 2018
    For various long stretches it is non navigable and thus entirely useless as a way to transport any goods north.
     
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  17. Threadmarks: Part 3

    TongaTui Active Member

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    Apr 26, 2018
    By now the party of Dutchmen had been reduced to about 300, as dozens of men have succumbed to fever. They had not received any new supplies as was requested months prior by van Hessen and all their horses have died from horse sickness. The only animals that remained were their cattle, which they were using as a depleting foodsource and a means to pull their supply carriages.

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    They were currently travelling in an open grassy plain area, with little to no sightings of any established tribes besides the occasional hunting party which stayed clear of the Dutchmen at all times. Van Hessen’s men, exhausted and depleted from over 6 months of travel, were ordered to establish a semi permanent camp. Splitting the forces in 2, half were to stay and wait for the other group to return with supplies. Much to the dismay of those who stayed, the party that left took the majority of the remaining cattle.

    The spot that was chosen did have a stream which provided enough water however, and was teaming with game. The party waited for another 3 months, foraging and hunting as much as they could to supplement their depleting source of cattle. Eventually, no supplies came and the men were growing weary of them being led to their deaths on a poorly planned expedition.

    When van Hessen suggested they continue moving northwards to perhaps find the kingdom of Mutapa and resupply there, the men refused, demanding they make a B-line for the nearest possible coastline and wait for a ship to rescue them. Van Hessen decided to listen to the demands of his men in fear of being killed in mutinous fury. Instead of continuing directly northwards where the party had originally estimated the kingdom of Mutapa and its gold fields may lay, they would head East in the direction of the Indian Ocean. The navigators weren’t sure how long it would take but believed it should not be more than a month.

    Soon however, a month became 2, and then 3. The party had now been away from Table Bay for about a year’s time. Grassy plains closed into a treacherous mountain range blocking the Eastern side from being easily traversed. The party moved slightly North again attempting to find an easier area to pass. In this area much of the Dutchmen began to suffer from malaria, leading to scores of deaths.

    Decimated, starved and exhausted, the party was able to find refuge among Tsonga people for some time and managed to trade what they had left for cattle and other supplies. Van Hessen, in an attempt to discern their general position, asked the Tsonga if they had any knowledge about the Portuguese or gold producing kingdoms. Some elders claimed they had spotted white men before when the tribe lived more northwards near a great estuary. The navigators in the party speculated that this may be referring to Delagoa Bay, but they were not all that certain. However, the more intriguing information that the Tsonga had to give was that they did know of an area nearby that produced gold when they understood what the Dutch were after. They directed the Dutch to a small creek [modern day Pilgrim’s Rest]. It was here that a small amount of alluvial gold was discovered. Still equipped with panning supplies, the 120 Dutchmen had began to search the creek for any other amounts of gold. Feeling encouraged after 12 months of near constant strife the mercenaries greedily panned for weeks, gathering some tiny specs of gold dust that could hardly cover half the bottom of a cooking pot, though it was enough to ease their frustration.

    Van Hessen now had to consider the party’s next move. The only landmark that they were partly sure of as being nearby was Delagoa Bay, but it was occupied by the Portuguese. The Dutch were under-equipped for any type of protracted engagement, but the thought of continuing southwards or northwards to find a different natural harbour while being thinned out by disease and hostile natives was equally as risky if not more. The chances of signaling to, or perhaps capturing, a ship in Delagoa Bay was also higher. The party would begin travel in mid May 1628.

    Scouts were initially sent out to discern Portuguese strength. Any type of force of decent magnitude would be able to hold off any assault from the Dutch, especially when encased in a fort. However, when the scouts returned to van Hessen they informed him that the fort appeared to be extremely undermanned. Van Hessen considered this was a golden opportunity and ordered the party to press forward least Portuguese reinforcements arrive. Upon approaching the fort, the Dutch at this point numbering still over 100 men, a Catholic friar met them outside the walls and immediately surrendered. Closer inspection revealed that apart from the friar, there were only a handful of Portuguese merchants at the fort and one brigantine was docked, most of its crew suffering or having succumbed to the effects of malaria in their few days stay at the bay.

    Van Hessen’s party boarded the ship and made away with goods they had looted from the fort. This included nearly all of its food, ammunition, over 2 000 Kilograms of ivory and 32 slaves, leaving the remaining Portuguese merchants to die. The journey back to Table Bay took a remaining two weeks. Upon landing with the remaining party van Hessen inquired about the 150 men who were sent by him to retrieve supplies. The officials in “Kaapstad” as it had been named informed him that no such relief party had arrived since his departure into the interior more than a year before.

    “No matter” he said to the company official. “The journey was a treacherous one, we have mapped quite a few valuable features of the hinterland and placed appropriated markers consisting of piles of rocks with my name inscribed. We were unable to find a route to Mutapa that was close enough to Table Bay, however we managed to all but raze the Portuguese post at Delagoa Bay, it is entirely undermanned, which presents an excellent opportunity for us to take hold of it!”

    The company official noticed the crates of ivory being unloaded from the ship van Hessen had captured. “Excellent, the control of the ivory trade in that region should be a great asset for the VOC, I’ll write a letter requesting a garrison be sent there while we still have the initiative.”

    “That’s not all” van Hessen interrupted. It was then van Hessen revealed that they had indeed discovered a source of gold West of Delagoa Bay, and they believed there to be much more if one only did a more thorough search. He showed the official the thin layer of gold dust in the pot they were able to gather from the creek.

    [​IMG]


    On 29 March 1630, three Dutch ships reached Delagoa Bay. The Dutch navigators were warmly welcomed by the local Batonga tribe and its chief, Mafumbo. Within three weeks of their arrival 100 of the original sailors, craftsmen, and soldiers had died of fever and malaria. In August 1630, 80 new arrivals came to replace them. In March 1631, the Dutch East India Company purchased the land around the bay from Mafumbo and set about reconstructing the old Portuguese fort, which had been completely abandoned. The repaired fort was named Fort Lydsaamheid, or “Fort Endurance”.

    Fort Lydsaamheid's trade mainly centered around the trade of ivory, and to a lesser extent, slaves, tin, aloes, gold dust, ambergris, honey, copper, and rice. During the fort's operational existence it served as a harbour for easy access into the interior but never grew to be a substantial settlement due to the general unhealthiness of the area for Europeans. The slave trade, while at its global peak, was minimal, because Dutch slave traders preferred to go to northern ports, where slaves could be more easily obtained, instead of Lydsaamheid, which was not equipped to handle large quantities. The settlers at the fort tried to farm, but all attempts ended in failure.

    In addition to trading, the fort was used as the starting point for several expeditions into the interior West of Delagoa Bay, where van Hessen and his men had originally obtained their gold, reportedly unclaimed and open for the taking. The first such expedition was forced to turn back after they were attacked by natives in the Lebombo Mountains. Another expedition in the late 1630s, set forth with native guides, this time they were successful and established a second Dutch fort at the marker that van Hessen had placed years prior. Much of the party noted the relative fertility of the area and were able to establish a few farms and remain relatively self sufficient for the time being. They also brought over a number of slaves along the way to aid the panning operation. Upon the return of the party’s leadership to Fort Lydsaamheid, they found the chaotic aftermath of a mutiny plot, in which 62 men were arrested and tortured after their plan to revolt, reportedly because of the fort's terrible conditions. The men were later executed, with 22 having been beaten with iron bars and their heads severed, others suffocated, and the remainder simply hanged. In addition, in 1638, 28 Dutch soldiers abandoned Lydsaamheid and trekked to Inhambane, where the eighteen who survived the journey told the Portuguese there of the mistreatment and diseases they had experienced at the fort.

    Nonetheless the small settlement and fort that generated West of the horrors of Delagoa was growing at a steady pace, but would soon be abandoned as new sources of gold pushed them South Westwards. The fort being the only feature remaining denoting the area where the Dutch first discovered gold. To feed these labourers farming had to be expanded in the North Eastern interior and in other nearby Dutch holdings such as Kaapstad, which warranted much more VOC investment than had previously been thought needed. With this increased attention and funding given to the African coast as more than a mere refreshing station, the Dutch would successfully attack the West African trade post of Luanda from the Portuguese in 1648 and retain it.

    By 1650, Kaapstad and the interior Dutch holdings in the North East near Delagoa had a combined population of 8 000, of which half resided in Kaapstad and its surrounding regions and about 20% overall were slaves. Kaapstad remained the more prominent harbour for Dutch operations in the region due to its healthier climate and more fertile soil. The VOC encouraged the establishment of farms by employees pressing into the interior as a means to consolidate it’s two holdings in the coming decades. This had become a much easier endeavor since van Hessen’s original expedition due to the disappearance of the Khoisan, mostly attributed to various outbreaks of smallpox. The amount of gold dug up was a healthy amount that aided the VOC, but its expenses would remain too large to be kept afloat by just a few small alluvial mines.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  18. TruthfulPanda Gone Fishin'

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    ???
    Not one zero too many?
     
  19. TongaTui Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2018
    Woops fixed.
     
    TruthfulPanda likes this.
  20. TongaTui Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2018
    Though with population in mind I have very little to account for in my estimations. With more attention than OTL and more encouraged settler colonisation into the interior how do you see the European population increasing? The 30 years war would surely lead to a boost after 1650.
     
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