The Fish River crossing, or drift, was named, probably before 1800, for Hermanus Xogomesh, a Khoikhoi leader. This was also close to the point where, later, the military “Queens Road” from Grahamstown to Fort Beaufort, built by Andrew Geddes Bain, crossed the Great Fish River where it was narrower. The bridge over the Fish River near Fort Brown was constructed by military architect Jervois, being completed in 1848. The original stone piers were later incorporated in a much longer bridge.
At the end of the Fourth Frontier War of 1811-1812, Colonel Graham instituted two lines of posts from which patrols could guard the frontier. The first line of posts was along the Fish River, with the second string of posts located in the area to the west. There already existed an earlier series of posts. One of the front line of posts was that at Hermanuskraal.
All these posts were either rehabilitated farmhouses of wattle-and-daub or stone built shelters enclosed by primitive earthen redoubts with loopholes. Because of the temporary nature of the construction, allied to the fact that some two hundred years have elapsed since these posts were constructed, few if any remains are extant.
At the start of the Sixth Frontier War in January 1835, the Hermanus Kraal Post was attacked by the Xhosa who were repulsed by a group of Dutch farmers who had taken refuge with their families and livestock at the fort. However, the Xhosa made off with some of the sheep and horses though some were recovered by a force under Major Cox.
In 1835, Sir Benjamin D’Urban approved the creation of Fort Brown nearby, one of the Lewis Line of six forts planned by Lieutenant Colonel G Lewis, commanding officer of the Royal Engineer Cape of Good Hope, during the Sixth Frontier War. The fort named after Lieutenant Robert Boyd Brown of the 75th Regiment who was in command there during the war. Fort Brown was occupied until 1861.
This was one of the larger frontier forts and comprised a 4 metre square stone tower above a magazine, quarters, barracks and stables. Under the tower was a cellar which served as a powder magazine. A 3 pounder swivel gun was initially mounted on the tower. In 1842 and 1843 further buildings were added including several kitchens and accommodation for officers and NCOs. At this time the surrounding stone wall with sloped coping was completed.
Fort Brown was declared a national monument in 1938. Fort Brown is currently a police post. The gun tower and adjoining walls are in good condition. A small cemetery lies adjacent the fort and a number of military graves are located in the yard.
If you have additional information to that given above, including photographs and the current state of the remains, please update this page or E-mail the details to me.