The Seventh Frontier War ('War of the Axe') began in March 1846 with the defeat at Burnshill of a colonial force under Col John Hare. The Colonial force invaded Xhosa territory following the ambush of a patrol sent to arrest a Xhosa accused of stealing an axe. The Xhosas retaliated by invading the Colony and carrying off large numbers of cattle. Although the Mfengus (Fingos) cooperated with the colonial forces, who were able to defeat the Xhosas at the Gwanga (June 1846), drought hampered the movement of troops, and the attempt to defeat the tribes in the Amatole Mountains (July/August 1846) proved unsuccessful.
Allegedly a Xhosa man stole an axe and that sparked the war. However, burgher forces under Sir Andries Stockenstream pushed into the Transkei forced Sarhili, the Gcaleka chief, to acknowledge responsibility for the attacks of the Gcalekas, restore the stock captured in the war and surrender all land west of the Kei. But the war was not yet over. Its end was delayed by drought, which hampered the movement of colonial forces, by quarrels between the burgher forces and the regular troops, and by the fact that several tribes remained undefeated and able to conduct guerrilla operations, despite the 'scorched earth' tactics of the Cape forces. Only in December 1847 did the last chief submit.