The first emigrant Boers to enter the country were led by Pieter Retief (c. 1780-1838), a man of Huguenot descent and of marked ability, who had formerly lived on the eastern frontier of Cape Colony and had suffered severely in the Kaffir wars.
Passing through the almost deserted upper regions Retief arrived at the bay in October 1837.
Dingaan consented on condition that the Boers recovered for him certain cattle stolen by another chief; this task Retief accomplished, and with the help of the Rev. F.
Owen, a missionary then living at Dingaan's kraal, a deed of cession was drawn up in English and signed by Dingaan and Retief on the 4th of February 1838.
Two days after the signature of the deed Retief and all of his party, 66 whites, besides Hottentot servants, were treacherously murdered by Dingaan's orders.
Nevertheless in one week after the murder of Retief 600 Boers - men, women and children - had been killed by the Zulus.
(This memorable victory is annually commemorated by the Boers as Dingaan's Day, while the Umslatos, which ran red with the blood of the slain, was renamed Blood river.) Dingaan fled, the victorious Boers entered the royal kraal, gave decent burial to the skeletons of Retief and his party, and regarded themselves as now undisputed masters of Natal.
They had recovered from a leather pouch which Retief carried the deed by which Dingaan ceded " to Retief and his countrymen the place called Port Natal together with all the lands annexed.
Piet Retief district (in the south-east), 1673 sq.
Along the southern border, going east to west from Piet Retief, are the districts of Wakkerstroom, 2128 sq.
In 1904 Bloemhof was officially included in Wolmaransstad; Bethel in Standerton; Piet Retief in Wakkerstroom, and Carolina in Ermelo.
The first permanent white settlement north of the Vaal was made by a party under Potgieter's leadership. That commandant had in March 1838 gone to Natal, and had endeavoured to avenge the massacre of Piet Retief and his comrades by the Zulus.
Owen, of the Church Missionary Society, to reside at his great kraal, and Owen was with the king when in November 1837 he received Pieter Retief, the leader of the first party of Boer immigrants to enter Natal.
Coming over the Drakensberg in considerable numbers during 1837, the Boers found the land stretching south from the mountains almost deserted, and Retief went to Arrival Dingaan to obtain a formal cession of the country of the west of the Tugela, which river the Zulu recognized as the boundary of Zululand proper.
After the defeat of Mosilikatze the town of Winburg (so named by the Boers in commemoration of their victory) was founded, a volksraad elected, and Piet Retief, one of the ablest of the voortrckkers, chosen " governor and commandant-general."
Dissensions speedily arose among the emigrants, whose numbers were constantly added to, and Retief, Potgieter and other leaders crossed the Drakensberg and entered Natal.
It is related of Kruger, as indeed it has been said of Piet Retief and others of the early Boer leaders, that he believed himself the object of special Divine guidance.
Pietermaritzburg was founded early in 1839 by the newlyarrived Dutch settlers in Natal, and its name commemorates two of their leaders - Piet Retief and Gerrit Maritz.
Piet Retief, the ablest of the leaders of the exodus, on the eve of leaving the colony published a declaration at Graham's Town, dated January 22nd 1837, in which he declared the chief reasons animating the emigrants to be: I.
The request was refused, and not long afterwards (1837) some of the Dutch emigrant farmers under Retief entered the country by way of the Drakensberg.
Retief, like his English predecessors at Port Natal (known also since 1835 as Durban), sought a formal grant of territory from the chief of the Zulu nation, the Zulus being the acknowledged overlords of the tribes living in Natal.
Retief and his party were, however, treacherously murdered by Dingaan, the Zulu king (February 1838).
Other trekkers followed in the wake of Retief, and attacking Dingaan avenged the massacre.
P. Retief, Datums van Gebeurtenissen uit de Geschiedenis van Zuid Afrika van 1486 to 1895 (Paarl, 1895); H.