The Steinaecker’s Horse unit played an important role in the history of the Lowveld. The main task of the unit was to serve as border guard preventing Boers from contact with people in the Portuguese territory. For this reason, they established a number of outposts in the area. The members of the unit mostly consisted of local inhabitants of the Lowveld. Apart from these they also had 300 black troops, consisting of Swazi, Pedi and Shangane. Although little information is found in historical sources, extensive archaeological research provided evidence of this involvement.
The information gained from archaeological excavations on six of their outposts shows that Steinaecker’s Horse frequently made use of members of the local black community for different tasks. Their outpost were placed close to existing communities, probably so that these people could be employed by them as scouts, servants, cooks and hunters. Members of some of the black military units, such as the Native Police and Black Watch were present at outposts manned by Steinaecker’s Horse, but the unit apparently also had black members.
On almost all the sites artefacts linked to the black people have been identified, including ceramic pottery, glass beads and traditional weapons. The amount of faunal remains excavated at these outposts indicate that they supplemented their diet by eating game. The Steinaecker’s Horse unit and some of its members greatly influenced the history of the Kruger National Park, including the preservation of wildlife. Members were later employed as game rangers as they knew the area and the local people well. This included black members. The paper will indicate how archaeology can be used to supplement known information, in this case, about Steinaecker’s Horse. Specific emphasis will be placed on the contribution of archaeology to the understanding of black involvement in the unit.