His diaries or journals, published here, were in his own words kept “mainly for the purpose of recalling to my mind the incidents necessary to be remembered in painting from the sketches”. He also made rough notes while travelling, to be written up at leisure, and then rewritten for publication in book form.
Baines was a very knowledgeable man, and very intelligent; he was also a man of imagination. He was, however, untutored. This is evident more in his writing than in his painting. His spelling was weak; his complete ignorance of syntax, combined with the absence of punctuation, often obscured his exact meaning.
This volume from 1850 to 1853 covers a year long Expedition north crossing the Orange and the Vaal Rivers through the Orange Free State up to Potchefstroom in the Transvaal. With the outbreak of the Eighth Frontier War, the most bitter and brutal of the series of Xhosa Wars, Bains was appointed as the official war artist. The volume covers the war that lasted from December 1850 until February 1853.