When news of the death of Plowden in March i860 reached England the Government appointed Captain Cameron to be his successor in the Consulate at Massawah, but his departure was delayed for various reasons, and he did not arrive in Abyssinia until the 10th of February 1862. He took over the consular archives from Signor Barroni who had been acting for Plowden whilst he was with Theodore, and soon after, acting on instructions from England, he set out for Theodore’s camp in order to present
to the Negus a letter from Queen Victoria in which she thanked him for ransoming Plowden’s body, and a rifle and a pair of pistols. In the letter Cameron was described as H.B.M.’s Consul in Abyssinia and Plowden’s successor. He also took to Theodore a letter from the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, and a decoration; during his absence a Mr Walker acted as Vice-Consul at Massawah. Theodore received Cameron most kindly and told him that he had executed 1500 of Garad’s followers to avenge Plowden, and added that his policy was to crush the Turks and Egyptians, and to drive them out of Matamma and the Red Sea ports. Cameron found many European lay missionaries who were skilled artisans at Theodore’s court, among them being Flad, Waldmeier, Saalmiiller, Bender, Meyer and Keinzlin. All these were employed in making munitions of war and roadmaking, and they carried on their work at Gafat near Dabra Tabor. Besides these there were Zander, the painter, Moritz Hall, a Pole who had served in the Russian army, Bourgaud, a gunsmith, Mackerer and Bardel, who were Frenchmen, and Schiller and Essler, who were collecting birds for the Duke of Saxe-Coburg. In Dambeya there were four missionaries, Stern, Rosenthal, Brandeis and Steiger. Many of these had wives, and thus there was a little European colony at Gafat and Dabra Tabor.