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Title: South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. 2 (of 6) - From the Commencement of the War to the Battle of Colenso, - 15th Dec. 1899
Author: Creswicke, Louis
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. 2 (of 6) - From the Commencement of the War to the Battle of Colenso, - 15th Dec. 1899" ***

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[Illustration: "ALL THAT WAS LEFT OF THEM."

THE BLACK WATCH AFTER THE BATTLE OF MAGERSFONTEIN.

From the Drawing by R. Caton Woodville.]



                              SOUTH AFRICA

                                AND THE

                              TRANSVAAL WAR

                                   BY
                             LOUIS CRESWICKE
                         AUTHOR OF "ROXANE," ETC.

                   WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS

                             IN SIX VOLUMES

               VOL. II.--FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE WAR TO
                   THE BATTLE OF COLENSO, 15TH DEC. 1899

                       EDINBURGH: T. C. & E. C. JACK
                                  1900



                 CONTENTS--VOL. II.


                                              PAGE
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE                            vii


                     CHAPTER I

THE CRISIS AT HOME                               1

IN SOUTH AFRICA                                  2

THE OCCUPATION OF DUNDEE                         7

THE BATTLE OF GLENCOE                           14

ELANDSLAAGTE                                    20

THE RETREAT FROM DUNDEE                         32

SIR W. PENN SYMONS--GLENCOE                     35

THE BATTLE OF REITFONTEIN                       36

LADYSMITH                                       38

THE BATTLE OF LOMBARD'S KOP                     41

THE DISASTER OF NICHOLSON'S NEK                 45

THE SIEGE OF LADYSMITH                          51


                     CHAPTER II

THE SIEGE OF MAFEKING                           55

KIMBERLEY                                       64


                     CHAPTER III

NATAL                                           70

THE INVASION OF CAPE COLONY                     76

THE BATTLE OF BELMONT                           86

THE BATTLE OF GRASPAN                           92

THE BATTLE OF MODDER RIVER                      97

AFTER THE FIGHT                                108


                     CHAPTER IV

THE INVESTMENT OF LADYSMITH                    110

ESTCOURT                                       119

ARMOURED TRAIN DISASTER AT CHIEVELEY           121

ESTCOURT                                       126

THE FIGHT ON BEACON HILL                       132

LADYSMITH                                      135

ESTCOURT AND FRERE                             139

SURPRISES AT LADYSMITH                         145

FRERE CAMP                                     151


                     CHAPTER V

ACTIVITY AT THE CAPE                           154

WITH GENERAL GATACRE                           159

THE REVERSE AT STORMBERG                       163

AT THE MODDER RIVER                            168

THE BATTLE OF MAJESFONTEIN                     171


                     CHAPTER VI

CHIEVELEY CAMP                                 187

THE BATTLE OF COLENSO                          188


FACSIMILE OF MS. OF MR. RUDYARD KIPLING'S WAR POEM "THE
    ABSENT-MINDED BEGGAR"                      203



          LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS--VOL. II.


CHART SHOWING STAFF APPOINTMENTS MADE
  AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE WAR          _At front_


              1. _COLOURED PLATES_

                                               PAGE
"ALL THAT WAS LEFT OF THEM."
  The Black Watch after the Battle of Majesfontein.
  By R. Caton Woodville                    _Frontispiece_

OFFICER OF THE 9TH LANCERS                      38

SERGEANT, KING'S ROYAL RIFLES                   80

PRIVATE AND CORPORAL OF THE GORDON HIGHLANDERS  96

SERGEANT AND PRIVATE OF THE DUBLIN FUSILIERS   102

SIGHTING A NAVAL FIELD GUN                     128

SERGEANTS OF THE ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY WITH
  A 12-POUNDER                                 144

SERGEANT-MAJOR OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES LANCERS  154


             2. _FULL-PAGE PLATES_

THE OUTBREAK OF WAR--THE DRAKENBERG MOUNTAINS    6

THE OUTBREAK OF THE WAR--TRANSPORT LEAVING
  ENGLAND FOR THE CAPE                          16

THE BATTLE OF ELANDSLAAGTE                      26

BEFORE LADYSMITH--HORSE ARTILLERY GALLOPING
  TO TAKE UP A NEW POSITION                     42

LADYSMITH, NATAL                                54

NIGHT SORTIE FROM MAFEKING                      64

THE BATTLE OF BELMONT                           90

THE BATTLE OF MODDER RIVER                     106

SCENE ON THE TUGELA                            112

REPELLING AN ATTACK FROM THE TRENCHES AROUND
  LADYSMITH                                    138

FROM FRERE TO CHIEVELEY                        150

STORMBERG PASS                                 160

THE MODDER RIVER                               172

THE BATTLE OF COLENSO--QUEEN'S (ROYAL WEST
  SURREY) REGIMENT LEADING THE CENTRAL ATTACK  188

THE BATTLE OF COLENSO--THE DUBLIN FUSILIERS
  ATTEMPT TO FORD THE TUGELA                   192

THE BATTLE OF COLENSO--THE LAST DESPERATE
  ATTEMPT TO SAVE THE GUNS                     198


             3. _FULL-PAGE PORTRAITS_

LIEUT.-GENERAL J. D. P. FRENCH                  22

MAJOR-GENERAL SIR W. PENN SYMONS, K.C.B.        32

GENERAL JOUBERT                                 48

COLONEL ROBERT S. S. BADEN-POWELL,
  the Defender of Mafeking                      58

RIGHT HON. SIR REDVERS HENRY BULLER,
  K.C.B., V.C.                                  74

LIEUT.-GENERAL LORD METHUEN, C.B.               86

GENERAL SIR GEORGE STEWART WHITE, V.C.,
  G.C.B., the Defender of Ladysmith            118

MAJOR-GENERAL ANDREW G. WAUCHOPE, C.B.         176


        4. _MAPS AND ENGRAVINGS IN THE TEXT_

COLOURED MAP OF SEAT OF WAR                _At Front_

MAP OF NORTHERN NATAL                            9

POSITION OF FORCES BEFORE THE BATTLE OF GLENCOE 15

THE BATTLE OF GLENCOE                           17

POSITION OF FORCES BEFORE THE BATTLE OF
  ELANDSLAAGTE, NOON                            21

PLAN OF BATTLE OF ELANDSLAAGTE                  25

MAP OF LADYSMITH AND SURROUNDING HEIGHTS        42

THE CREUSOT QUICK-FIRING FIELD GUN, OR
  "LONG TOM"                                    44

4.7-INCH NAVAL GUN ON IMPROVISED MOUNTING       52

12-POUNDER NAVAL GUN ON IMPROVISED CARRIAGE     52

15-POUNDER FIELD GUN                            62

AN ARMOURED TRAIN                               68

THE MAXIM GUN                                   79

LORD METHUEN'S LINE OF ADVANCE                  87

PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF BELMONT                   90

PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF MODDER RIVER             101

COMPLETE MACHINE GUN DETACHMENT OF MOUNTED
  INFANTRY                                     118

THE 5-INCH HOWITZER OR SIEGE GUN               127

FACSIMILE OF PAGE OF NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED IN
  LADYSMITH DURING THE SIEGE                   137

TELEGRAPH SECTION OF THE ROYAL ENGINEERS       144

4.7 NAVAL GUN ON CAPT. PERCY SCOTT'S
  IMPROVISED CARRIAGE                          154

MAP ILLUSTRATING THE OPERATIONS ON THE SOUTH
  OF THE ORANGE RIVER                          164

BATTLE OF MAJESFONTEIN                         174

SKETCH PLAN OF POSITIONS AT MAJESFONTEIN       176

SKETCH PLAN OF BATTLE OF COLENSO               191

MAP SHOWING THE ATTEMPTED PASSAGE OF THE RIVER
  BY GENERAL BULLER ON DECEMBER 15             194



                 CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE--VOL. II.


OCTOBER.

 11.--Boer Ultimatum time-limit expired. Great Britain commenced to
       be at war with Transvaal and Orange Free State.

 12.--Text of Great Britain's reply to Boer Ultimatum issued. It
       stated that the conditions demanded were such as her
       Majesty's Government deemed it impossible to discuss.

      Mr. Conyngham Greene recalled.

      Armoured train captured by Boers near Mafeking.

      Colonel Baden-Powell moved a large force outside Mafeking, and
       took up a strong defensive position.

 13.--Newcastle abandoned.

 14.--Sir R. Buller and Staff left England.

 15.--Boers occupied Newcastle.

 16.--Dundee evacuated.

 17.--Parliament opened.

      Successful sortie by Colonel Baden-Powell from Mafeking.

      Armoured train in action near Kimberley during reconnaissance.

 18.--Mr. Balfour announced that the Militia and Militia Reserves
       were to be called out.

 19.--Transvaal flag hoisted at Vryburg.

 20.--Boers repulsed by British at Talana Hill (Glencoe).

 21.--General French, with about 2000 men, attacked a Boer force
       under General Kock at Elandslaagte.

 22.--General Symons promoted to be Major-General.

      General Yule retired from Dundee on Ladysmith.

 23.--Death of General Symons.

      Mafeking bombarded.

      Transvaal National Bank seized at Durban.

 24.--Sir George White engaged Boers at Reitfontein.

      Services accepted of Sir William M'Cormac, President of the
       Royal College of Surgeons, to attend the wounded.

 26.--Generals Yule and White joined forces at Ladysmith.

      Bombardment of Mafeking commenced.

 28.--Boers were closing round Ladysmith.

      Proclamation issued declaring the Boer "commandeering" of
       certain portions of Cape Colony null.

 30.--Engagement at Lombard's Kop.

      Sir George White sent out from Ladysmith to Nicholson's Nek a
       Mountain Battery, with the Irish Fusiliers and the
       Gloucesters, to turn the enemy's right flank. Mules, with
       guns and reserve ammunition, stampeded into enemy's lines.
       After gallantly defending their position for six hours, men's
       ammunition was exhausted, and about 800 were captured. Naval
       Brigade did excellent work.

 31.--Sir Redvers Buller landed at Cape Town.


NOVEMBER.

  1.--Boers invaded Cape Colony.

  2.--Free Staters' position at Besters brilliantly taken by
       cavalry. Boers lost heavily; our casualties slight. Boers
       treacherously used white flag.

      Colenso evacuated by the British.

      Arrangements for a supplementary Naval Brigade completed.

      Orders issued for mobilising the Militia.

  3.--Naauwpoort and Stormberg evacuated by the British garrisons.

  5.--Death of Commander Egerton, of _Powerful_.

  6.--Ladysmith isolated.

  9.--Boers attacked Ladysmith, and repulsed with heavy loss.

      Orders issued for mobilisation of a Fifth Division.

 10.--Engagement of Belmont. Colonel Keith Falconer killed.

 11.--Captain Percy Scott, of H.M.S. _Terrible_, appointed
       commandant of the forces defending Durban.

 12.--Lord Methuen arrived at Orange River.

 14.--Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren appointed to command
       the Fifth Division for service in South Africa.

 15.--Armoured train wrecked by Boers near Frere. Mr. Winston
       Churchill and a number of Dublin Fusiliers and Volunteers
       captured.

      Boers defeated at Estcourt.

 16.--Fighting near Orange River.

 17-22.--Transports arrived at Cape Town with 22,000 troops.

 20.--Lord Methuen's force reached Witteputts.

 23.--Lord Methuen attacked Boers at Belmont.

      Boers routed at Willow Grange.

 25.--Lord Methuen engaged the Boers at Graspan (Enslin), and after
       four hours' hard fighting carried position.

 26.--Mooi River Column joined at Frere by General Hildyard.

 28.--Lord Methuen engaged enemy, 8000 strong, at Modder River, and
       after ten hours' desperate fighting, drove them back.

 30.--Sixth Division for South Africa notified.


DECEMBER.

  2.--General Clery reached Frere.

  3.--Transport _Ismore_ wrecked 180 miles north of Cape Town--all
       troops landed.

  6.--Sortie from Kimberley. Major Scott Turner killed.

  7.--Arundel occupied by British.

  8.--British sortie from Ladysmith, Lombard's Kop being carried.

  9.--General Gatacre sustained serious reverse at Stormberg, having
       been misled by guides.

      Lieutenant-Colonel Metcalfe, 2nd Rifle Brigade, with 500 men
       from Ladysmith, captured Surprise Hill, destroying a
       howitzer.

 10.--General French drove the enemy from Vaal Kop.

 11.--Lord Methuen attacked 12,000 Boers entrenched at Majesfontein,
       but attack failed, although British troops held their
       position. Major-General Wauchope, Major Lord Winchester, and
       Colonel Downman killed.

 13.--General French defeated 1800 Boers between Arundel and
       Naauwpoort. British loss, 1 killed, 8 wounded.

 14.--Orders given for the mobilisation of a Sixth Division, and a
       Seventh in reserve.

      Sir Charles Warren and Staff arrived at the Cape.

 15.--General Buller suffered a serious reverse at Colenso, troops
       having to retire to Chieveley, leaving behind 11 guns.

      General Hector Macdonald appointed to succeed General
       Wauchope.



CHART OF STAFF APPOINTMENTS MADE AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE WAR, AS
           ISSUED BY THE WAR OFFICE, 7TH OCTOBER, 1899.


                     LINES OF COMMUNICATION.

The Lines of Communication will be under the general command and
direction of Lieut.-General Sir F. W. E. F. Forestier-Walker, K.C.B.,
C.M.G.

The following Officers will be employed and will have the Staff position
shown opposite their names:--

Names of Officers Selected.        Staff Position.

Colonel H. H. Settle, C.B.,        Colonel on Staff.
  D.S.O., p.s.c.

Captain F. A. Molony, p.s.c.,      Staff Officer to Colonel on
  R.E.                               Staff.

Colonel J. W. Murray, p.s.c.       Colonel on Staff.

Colonel W. D. Richardson, C.B.     Deputy Adjutant-General for
                                     Supplies and Transport.

Lieut.-Colonel F. F. Johnson,      Staff Officer to Deputy
  Army Service Corps                 Adjutant-General for
                                     Supplies and Transport.

Brevet-Colonel C. H. Bridge,       Deputy Adjutant-General
  C.B., Army Service Corps           for Transport.

Brevet-Major (local                Director of Railways.[A]
  Lieut.-Colonel) E. P. C.
  Girouard, D.S.O., R.E.

Captain H. G. Joly de              Staff Officer to Director of
  Lotbinière, R.E.                   Railways.

Captain (local Major) J. H.     \
  Twiss, R.E.                   }  Assistant Directors of
Captain (local Major) V.        }    Railways.[B]
  Murray, R.E.                  /

Major J. E. Capper, R.E.        \  Deputy-Assistant Directors
Captain H. C. Manton, R.E.      }    of Railways.
Capt. W. D. Waghorn, R.E.       /

Major (local Lieut.-Colonel)
  A. E. Wrottesley, R.E.           Director of Telegraphs.[A]

Colonel R. S. R.                \
 Fetherstonhaugh, h.p.          }
Brevet-Colonel C. P. Ridley,    }
  2nd Bn. Manchester Regt.      }
Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel P. T.     }
  Rivett-Carnac, 1st Bn.        }  Station Commandants.[A]
  West Riding Regt.             }
Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel H. P.     }
  Shekleton, p.s.c., 1st Bn.    }
  South Lancashire Regt.        /

Capt. J. G. Baldwin, Royal      \
  Garrison Artillery            }
Captain A. E. Lascelles, 2nd    }  Staff Officers to Station
  Bn. Norfolk Regt.             }    Commandants.[C]
Captain C. R. Ballard, 1st      }
  Bn. Norfolk Regt.             }
Captain C. V. C. Hobart,        }
  D.S.O., 2nd Bn. Grenadier     }
  Guards                        /

Brevet-Colonel E. W. D. Ward,   \
  C.B., Army Service Corps.     }  Assistant
Col. J. K. Trotter, C.M.G.,     }    Adjutant-Generals.
  p.s.c.                        }
Lieut.-Col. F. W. Bennet, R.E.  }
Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel H. M.     }
  Lawson, p.s.c., R.E.          /

Lieut.-Colonel S. H. Winter,    \
  Army Service Corps            }
Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Winter,    }
  Army Service Corps            }
Lieut.-Col. R. B. M'Comb,       }
  Army Service Corps            }  Deputy-Assistant
Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel F. W. B.  }    Adjutant-Generals.
  Landon, Army Service Corps    }
Major J. H. Poett, p.s.c.,      }
  2nd Bn. Dorsetshire Regt.     }
Major C. Rawnsley, Army         }
  Service Corps                 }
Major R. B. Gaisford, p.s.c.,   }
  Royal Scots Fusiliers         }
Brevet-Major E. G. T.           }
  Bainbridge, 2nd Bn. East Kent }
  Regt.                         }
Major R. C. B. Haking, p.s.c.,  }
  Hampshire Regt.               }
Major A. W. Thorneycroft,       }
  2nd Bn. Royal Scots           }
  Fusiliers                     }
Captain E. H. Hughes, p.s.c.,   }
  1st Bn. York and Lancaster    }
  Regt.                         }
Captain G. S. St Aubyn, King's  }
  Royal Rifle Corps             /

Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel J. Adye,  \
  p.s.c., Royal Garrison        }
  Artillery                     }
Major H. N. C. Heath, p.s.c.,   }
  Yorkshire Light Infantry      }
Brevet-Major C. J. Mackenzie,   }
  1st Bn. Seaforth Highlanders  }
Major R. L. Walter, 7th Hussars }
Major E. F. Gosset, p.s.c.,     }
  2nd Bn. East Yorkshire Regt.  }
Brevet-Major A. G.              }
  Hunter-Weston, R.E.           }
Major G. D. Baker, p.s.c.,      }
  Royal Garrison Artillery      }
Major E. S. C. Kennedy, West    }  General Duty.
  India Regt.                   }
Captain A. W. Elles, 2nd Bn.    }
  Yorkshire Light Infantry      }
Captain E. St G. Pratt, 1st     }
  Bn. Durham Light Infantry     }
Capt. C. B. Jervis-Edwards,     }
  1st Bn. Duke of Cornwall's    }
  Light Infantry                }
Captain F. B. Maurice,          }
  Derbyshire Regt.              }
Lieutenant W. M. C. Vandeleur,  }
  2nd Bn. Essex Regt.           }
Lieutenant G. P. Appleby,       }
  1st Bn. Bedfordshire Regt.    }
Lieutenant F. S. Reeves, 1st    }
  Bn. East Kent Regt.           /

                                  COLERIDGE GROVE, M.S.
WAR OFFICE, _4th October 1899_.

_Note._--The above list only shows the Officers employed on Staff duties
on the Lines of Communication. It does not show those employed on
medical, ordnance, clerical, supply, pay, &c., services.--C. G.

FOOTNOTES:

[A] Graded as Assistant Adjutant-Generals.

[B] Graded as Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-Generals.

[C] Graded as Staff Captains.


                      NATAL FIELD FORCE.

Staff Position.                    Names of Officers Selected.

General Officer Commanding         Lieutenant-General Sir G. S.
  (Lieut.-General on Staff)          White, V.C., G.C.B.,
                                     G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E.

Assistant Military Secretary       Colonel B. Duff, C.I.E.,
                                     p.s.c., Indian Staff Corps.

Aides-de-Camp (2)                  Captain R. G. Brooke, D.S.O.,
                                     7th Hussars.
                                   Captain F. Lyon, R.F.A.

Assistant Adjutant-General         Colonel I. S. M. Hamilton,
                                     C.B., D.S.O.

Deputy-Assistant                   (_a_) Major F. Hammersley,
  Adjutant-Generals                  p.s.c., Lancashire Fusiliers.
                                   (_b_) Major E. R. O. Ludlow,
                                     p.s.c., Army Service Corps.

Officer Commanding Royal           Lieut.-Colonel and Brevet-Col.
  Artillery                          C. J. Long, R.H.A.

Commanding Royal Engineer          Lieut.-Colonel W. F. N. Noel,
  (Colonel on Staff)                 R.E.

Principal Medical Officer          Lieut.-Colonel R. Exham,
                                     R.A.M.C.

Medical Officer                    Major J. F. Bateson, M.B.,
                                     R.A.M.C.

Chaplains (2)                      Rev. L. J. Matthews (R.C.)
                                   Rev. E. G. Macpherson, B.A.

Assistant Provost-Marshal[D]       Major A. G. Chichester, 1st
                                     Bn. Royal Irish Regt.

Signalling Officer                 Captain J. S. Cayzer, 7th
                                     Dragoon Guards.

FOOTNOTES:

[D] Graded as a Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General.


                        4TH DIVISION.

Staff Position.                  Names of Officers Selected.

General Officer Commanding         Colonel (local Lieut.-General)
  (Lieut.-General on Staff)          Sir W. P. Symons, K.C.B.

Aides-de-Camp (2)

Assistant Adjutant-General         Colonel C. E. Beckett, C.B., p.s.c.

Deputy-Assistant                   (_a_) Major and
  Adjutant-Generals                  Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel Sir
                                     H. S. Rawlinson, Bart.,
                                     p.s.c., 2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards.
                                   (_b_) Captain T. D. Foster,
                                     Army Service Corps.

                         7TH BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Colonel (local Major-General)
                                     F. Howard, C.B., C.M.G.,
                                     A.D.C.

Aide-de-Camp                       Captain H. E. Vernon,
                                     D.S.O., 4th Bn. Rifle
                                     Brigade.

Brigade-Major                      Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel Hon.
                                     C. G. Fortescue, C.M.G.,
                                     p.s.c., Rifle Brigade.

                         8TH BRIGADE.

Major-General                   \
Aide-de-Camp                    }  To be nominated locally.
Brigade-Major                   /

                     3RD CAVALRY BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Colonel (local Major-General)
                                     J. F. Brocklehurst, M.V.O.
Aide-de-Camp                       Lieutenant H. W. Viscount
                                     Crichton, Royal Horse
                                     Guards.
Brigade-Major                      Captain G. P. Wyndham, p.s.c.,
                                     16th Lancers.

                                   COLERIDGE GROVE, M.S.
WAR OFFICE, _3rd October 1899_.


                    STAFF OF 1ST ARMY CORPS.

Staff Position.                    Names of Officers Selected.

General Officer Commanding         General Rt. Hon. Sir R. H.
  Army Corps (General                Buller, V.C., G.C.B.,
  Commanding-in-Chief)               K.C.M.G.

Military Secretary                 Colonel Hon. F. W. Stopford,
                                     C.B., p.s.c.

Aides-de-Camp (4)                  Captain H. N. Schofield, R.A.
                                   Captain C. J. Sackville-West,
                                     King's Royal Rifle Corps.
                                   Lieutenant A. R. Trotter, 2nd
                                     Life Guards.
                                   2nd Lieut. C. A. Howard,
                                     Shropshire Light Infantry.

Chief of the General Staff         Major-General Sir A. Hunter,
  (Major-General on Staff)           K.C.B., D.S.O.

Aide-de-Camp                       Brevet-Major A. J. Kings,
                                     Royal Lancaster Regt.

Deputy Adjutant-General            Colonel A. S. Wynne, C.B.

Assistant Adjutant-Generals        Colonel H. S. G. Miles, M.V.O.,
  (2)                                p.s.c.
                                   Colonel C. W. H. Douglas,
                                     A.D.C.

Deputy-Assistant                   (_a_) Lieut.-Colonel C. à
 Adjutant-Generals (4)               Court, p.s.c.
                                   (_a_) Major L. E. Kiggell,
                                     p.s.c., Royal Warwickshire
                                     Regt.
                                   (_b_) Major P. J. Lewis, Army
                                     Service Corps.
                                   (_b_) Major A. H. Thomas,
                                     Army Service Corps.

Commandant, Head-Quarters[E]       Colonel R. Pole-Carew, C.B.,
                                     h.p.

Principal Medical Officer          Surgeon-General W. D. Wilson,
                                     M.B.

Medical Officers                   Major W. G. A. Bedford, M.B.,
                                     R.A.M.C.
                                   Captain M. L. Hughes, R.A.M.C.

Provost Marshal[E]                 Major Hon. J. H. G. Byng,
                                     p.s.c., 10th Hussars.

Intelligence Duties--
  Assistant Adjutant-General       Major E. A. Altham, p.s.c.,
    (1)                              Royal Scots.
  Deputy-Assistant                 Major H. J. Evans, p.s.c.,
    Adjutant-Generals (2)            Liverpool Regiment.
                                   Captain Hon. F. Gordon,
                                     p.s.c., Gor. Highlanders.

Deputy-Assistant
  Adjutant-General for             Lieut.-Colonel W. W. C.
  Topography                         Verner, p.s.c.

Commanding Royal Artillery         Colonel (local Major-Gen.)
  (Major-General on Staff)           G. H. Marshall.

Staff Officer, Royal Artillery     Major H. C. Sclater, R.A.

Aide-de-Camp, R.A.                 Captain A. D. Kirby, R.F.A.

Chief Engineer (Major-General      Colonel (local Major-Gen.) E.
  on Staff)                          Wood, C.B.

Staff Officer, Royal Engineers     Major E. H. Bethell, p.s.c.,
                                     Royal Engineers.

Aide-de-Camp, Royal Engineers      Brevet-Major R. S. Curtis,
                                     Royal Engineers.

Military Mounted Police[F]         Brevet-Major R. M. Poore, 7th
                                     Hussars.

Press Censor[F]                    Major W. D. Jones, p.s.c.,
                                     Wiltshire Regt.

Principal Chaplain                 Rev. E. H. Goodwin, B.A.

Director of Signalling[E]          Major (local Lieut.-Colonel)
                                     E. Rhodes, D.S.O., Royal
                                     Berks Regt.

Chief Ordnance Officer             Colonel R. F. N. Clarke, Army
                                     Ord. Department.

Principal Veterinary Officer       Veterinary Lieut.-Colonel I. Matthews,
                                     Army Veterinary Department.

Orderly Veterinary Officer


                         CORPS TROOPS.

Officer Commanding Corps           Colonel C. M. H. Downing.
  Artillery (Colonel on Staff)

Adjutant                           Captain E. S. E. W. Russell,
                                     Royal Field Artillery.

Officer Commanding Royal Horse     Lieut.-Colonel W. L. Davidson,
  Artillery                          Royal Horse Artillery.

Adjutant, R.H.A.                   Captain G. W. Biddulph, Royal
                                     Horse Artillery.

Officer Commanding F.A. (I.)       Lieut.-Colonel J. S. S.
                                     Barker, p.s.c., R.F.A.

Adjutant                           Captain E. J. Duffus, R.F.A.

Officer Commanding Field           Lieut.-Colonel P. C. E.
  Artillery (II.)                    Newbigging, R.F.A.

Adjutant                           Captain E. C. Cameron, Royal
                                     Field Artillery.

Officer Commanding Corps           Lieut.-Colonel C. A.
  Troops, Royal Engineers            Rochfort-Boyd, R.E.

Adjutant                           Lieut. S. D. Barrow, R.E.

FOOTNOTES:

[E] Graded as Assistant Adjutant-General.

[F] Graded as Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-Generals.


                1ST ARMY CORPS--1ST DIVISION.

Staff Position.                    Names of Officers Selected.

General Officer Commanding         Lieut.-General P. S. Lord
  (Lieut.-General on Staff)          Methuen, K.C.V.O., C.B.,
                                     C.M.G.

Aides-de-Camp (2)                  Major H. Streatfield,
                                     Grenadier Guards.
                                   Captain J. A. Bell-Smyth,
                                     1st Dragoon Guards.

Assistant Adjutant-General         Colonel R. B. Mainwaring,
                                     C.M.G.

Deputy-Assistant                   (_a_) Brevet Lieut.-Colonel
  Adjutant-Generals                  H. P. Northcott, C.B.,
                                     p.s.c., Leinster Regt.
                                   (_b_) Major R. H. L. Warner,
                                     p.s.c., Army Service Corps.

Assistant-Provost-Marshall[G]      Captain R. J. Ross, 1st Bn.
                                     Middlesex Regt.

Chaplains (2)                      Rev. T. F. Falkner, M.A.
                                   Rev. E. M. Morgan (R.C.)

Principal Medical Officer          Colonel E. Townsend, C.B.,
                                     M.D., R.A.M.C.

Medical Officer                    Major C. H. Burtchaell, M.B.,
                                     R.A.M.C.

Divisional Signalling Officer      Lieut. Hon. E. D. Loch,
                                     D.S.O., 1st Bn. Grenadier
                                     Guards.

                         1ST BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Major-General Sir H. E.
                                     Colvile, K.C.M.G., C.B.

Aide-de-Camp                       Captain G. C. Nugent,
                                     Grenadier Guards.

Brigade-Major                      Captain H. G. Ruggles-Brise,
                                     p.s.c., Grenadier Guards.

                         2ND BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Major-General H. J. T.
                                     Hildyard, C.B., p.s.c.

Aide-de-Camp                       Lieut. A. Blair, King's Own
                                     Scottish Borderers.

Brigade-Major                      Major L. Munro, p.s.c.,
                                     Hampshire Regt.

FOOTNOTES:

[G] Graded as Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General.


                1ST ARMY CORPS--2ND DIVISION.

Staff Position.                    Names of Officers Selected.

General Officer Commanding         Major-General (Local
  (Lieut.-General on Staff)          Lieut.-General) Sir C. F.
                                     Clery, K.C.B., p.s.c.

Aides-de-Camp (2)                  Major F. E. Cooper, Royal
                                     Artillery, p.s.c.
                                   Captain L. Parke, Durham Light
                                     Infantry.

Assistant Adjutant-General         Major and Bt.-Colonel B. M.
                                     Hamilton, p.s.c., East
                                     Yorkshire Regiment.

Deputy-Assistant                   (_a_) Captain H. E. Gogarty,
  Adjutant-General                   p.s.c., Royal Scots
                                     Fusiliers.
                                   (_b_) Captain W. G. B. Boyce,
                                     Army Service Corps.

Assistant Provost-Marshal[H]       Major G. F. Ellison, p.s.c.,
                                     Royal Warwickshire Regt.

Chaplains (2)                      Rev. A. A. L. Gedge, B.A.
                                   Rev. J. Robertson (P.).

Principal Medical Officer          Colonel T. J. Gallwey, M.D.,
                                     C.B., R.A.M.C.

Medical Officer                    Major W. Babtie, M.B., C.M.B.,
                                     R.A.M.C.

Divisional Signalling Officer      Lieut. J. S. Cavendish, 1st
                                     Life Guards.

                         3RD BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Maj.-Gen. A. G. Wauchope,
                                     C.B., C.M.G.

Aide-de-Camp                       Captain J. G. Rennie, R.H.

Brigade-Major                      Major and Bt.-Lieut.-Col. J. S.
                                     Ewart, p.s.c., Cameron
                                     Highlanders.

                         4TH BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Major-General Hon. N. G.
                                     Lyttelton, C.B.

Aide-de-Camp                       Captain Hon. H. Yarde-Buller,
                                     Rifle Brigade.

Brigade-Major                      Captain H. H. Wilson, p.s.c.,
                                     Rifle Brigade.

FOOTNOTES:

[H] Graded as a Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General.


                 1ST ARMY CORPS--3RD DIVISION.

Staff Position.                    Names of Officers Selected.

General Officer Commanding         Major-General (local Lieut.-Gen.)
  (Lieut.-General on Staff)          Sir W. F. Gatacre, K.C.B.,
                                     D.S.O., p.s.c.

Aides-de-Camp (2)                  Lieutenant A. J. M'Neill, 1st
                                     Bn. Seaforth Highlanders.

Assistant Adjutant-General         Colonel R. E. Allen, p.s.c.

Deputy-Assistant                   (_a_) Lieut.-Colonel W. H. H.
  Adjutant-Generals                  Waters, M.V.O., p.s.c.
                                   (_b_) Major P. E. F.
                                     Hobbs, Army Service Corps.

Assistant Provost-Marshal[I]       Captain J. R. F. Sladen,
                                     p.s.c., East Yorkshire Regt.

Chaplains (2)                      Rev. E. Ryan (R.C.)
                                   Rev. R. Armitage, M.A.

Principal Medical Officer          Lieut.-Colonel J. D. Edge,
                                     M.D., R.A.M.C.

Medical Officer                    Maj. G. E. Twiss, R.A.M.C.

Divisional Signalling Officer      Captain S. Fitz G. Cox, 2nd
                                     Bn. Lincolnshire Regt.

                         5TH BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Major-General A. Fitzroy Hart,
                                     C.B., p.s.c.

Aide-de-Camp                       Captain Hon. St L. H. Jervis,
                                     King's Royal Rifle Corps.

Brigade-Major                      Major C. R. R. MacGrigor,
                                     p.s.c., King's Royal Rifle
                                     Corps.

                         6TH BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Major-General G. Barton, C.B.,
                                     p.s.c.

Aide-de-Camp

Brigade-Major                      Captain J. A. E. MacBean,
                                     D.S.O., p.s.c., Royal Dublin
                                     Fusiliers.

FOOTNOTES:

[I] Graded as a Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General.


                  STAFF OF CAVALRY DIVISION.

Staff Position.                    Names of Officers Selected.

General Officer Commanding         Col. (Lieut.-General) J. D. P. French.
  (Lieut.-General on Staff)

Aides-de-Camp (2)                  Lieutenant J. P. Milbanke,
                                     10th Hussars.

Assistant Adjutant-General         Colonel Hon. G. H. Gough,
                                     C.B., p.s.c.

Deputy-Assistant                   (_a_) Major D. Haig, p.s.c., 7th
  Adjutant-Generals                  Hussars.
                                   (_b_) Major G. O. Welch, Army Service
                                     Corps.

Officer Commanding, Royal Horse    Lieut.-Colonel F. J. W.
  Artillery                          Eustace, R.H.A.

Adjutant, R.H.A.                   Capt. A. D'A. King, R.H.A.

Chaplain (1)[K]                    Rev. W. C. Haines

Principal Medical Officer          Lieut.-Colonel W. Donovan,
                                     Royal Army Medical Corps.

Medical Officer                    Major H. G. Hathaway,
                                     Royal Army Med. Corps.

Assistant Provost-Marshal[L]       Captain P. A. Kenna, V.C., 21st
                                     Lancers.

Intelligence Department--
  Deputy-Assistant                 Captain Hon. H. A. Lawrence,
    Adjutant-General                 p.s.c., 17th Lancers.

                         1ST BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Col. (local Major-General)
                                     J. M. Babington.

Aide-de-Camp                       Lieutenant F. W. Wormald, 7th
                                     Hussars.

Brigade-Major                      Captain C. J. Briggs, 1st
                                     Dragoon Guards.

Officer Commanding Mounted         Major and Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel
  Infantry[J]                        E. A. H. Alderson, p.s.c.,
                                     Royal West Kent Regt.

Adjutant Mounted Infantry[L]       Captain H. M'Micking, Royal
                                     Scots.

                         2ND BRIGADE.

Major-General                      Colonel (local Major-Gen.)
                                     J. P. Brabazon, C.B., A.D.C.

Aide-de-Camp                       Major Hon. C. E. Bingham, 1st
                                     Life Guards.

Brigade-Major                      Captain Hon. T. W. Brand, 10th
                                     Hussars.

Officer Commanding Mounted         Captain and Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel
  Infantry[J]                        R. J. Tudway, 2nd Bn. Essex
                                     Regt.

Adjutant Mounted Infantry[L]       Captain H. L. Ruck-Keene,
                                     Oxford. Light Infantry.

FOOTNOTES:

[J] Graded as Assistant Adjutant-General.

[K] Will act for both Brigades.

[L] Graded as Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-Generals.

                                   COLERIDGE GROVE, M.S.
_2nd October 1899._



                   SOUTH AFRICA AND THE TRANSVAAL WAR

                               CHAPTER I

                           THE CRISIS AT HOME

    "Patience, long sick to death, is dead. Too long
      Have sloth and doubt and treason bidden us be
      What Cromwell's England was not, when the sea
    To him bore witness, given of Blake, how strong
    She stood, a commonweal that brooked no wrong
      From foes less vile than men like wolves set free,
      Whose war is waged where none may fight or flee--
    With women and with weanlings. Speech and song
    Lack utterance now for loathing. Scarce we hear
      Foul tongues, that blacken God's dishonoured name
      With prayers turned curses and with praise found shame,
    Defy the truth whose witness now draws near
      To scourge these dogs, agape with jaws afoam,
      Down out of life. Strike, England, and strike home."

                             --ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE.


In the face of the insolent Ultimatum which had been addressed to Great
Britain by the South African Republic, the nation closed its ranks and
relegated party controversy to a more appropriate season. The British
people were temporarily in accord. A wave of indignation surged over the
country, and united men of different shades of politics and of varying
religious creeds, making them forget their private feuds, and remember
only the paramount fact that they were sons of the Empire. There were
some, it is true, who remained afar off--a few exceptions to prove the
rule of unanimity, beings with souls so dead that never to themselves
had said, "This is my own, my native land," and who yet looked upon the
Boer as an object of commiseration. But these were, first, men linked
either by birth or family ties with the Afrikander cause; second,
fractious Irishmen and political obstructionists who posed for notoriety
at any price; and, third, eccentrics and originals, whose sense of
opposition forbade them from floating at any time with the tide of
public opinion. Every one else cried aloud for a chance to uphold Great
Britain's prestige, and the War Office was so beset with applications
from volunteers for the front that it was found almost impossible even
to consider them. Nor was the excitement confined to officers alone.
Recruiting went on apace, and not only did recruits pour in, but
deserters, who had slunk away from regimental duty, now returned and
gave themselves up, praying to be allowed to suffer any penalty and then
march out to battle as soldiers of the Queen! Two Royal Proclamations
having been issued--the one directing the continuance in army service,
until discharged or transferred to the reserve, of soldiers whose term
of service had expired or was about to expire; the other, ordering the
army reserve to be called out on permanent service--some 25,000 men
received notice to rejoin the colours. These in large numbers promptly
appeared. The New South Wales Lancers, who had been going through a
course of cavalry training at Aldershot, at once volunteered their
services and started for the Cape amidst scenes of great enthusiasm.
Other colonial troops were as eager to join, and the spirit of military
rivalry throughout Her Majesty's dominions was both amazing and
inspiriting.

Queensland had the honour of opening the ball. Her sympathy with the
policy of Great Britain and her loyalty to the mother country was shown
in practical form. She intimated, in the event of hostilities, her
willingness to send 250 mounted infantry and a machine-gun to the front.
New Zealand followed suit; she also offered two companies of mounted
rifles fully equipped at the cost of the Colony. These offers were
gratefully accepted. Not to be behind-hand, Western Australia and
Tasmania made similar offers, and Her Majesty's Government gladly agreed
to accept one unit of 125 men from each. The Parliament of Victoria
voted the despatch of a contingent of 250 men to South Africa, and the
Governments of New South Wales and South Australia actively discussed
similar measures. This expression of Colonial public opinion, embodying
as it did the independent judgments of so many free juries, uninfluenced
by personal or direct interests, had a significance which, besides being
politically important, was eminently satisfactory. All Her Majesty's
dominions, on which the sun never sets, were at this critical moment
holding hands in a wide circle that encompassed the earth, and the
picture of the small mother country with all her big children gathered
around her in her hour of need was not one that the romance of history
can afford to disregard.


                            IN SOUTH AFRICA

Before hostilities had actually begun, refugees from Johannesburg began
to pour down to Natal and the Cape, and there were daily reports of
insults received by the Uitlanders at the hands of the Boers. Ladies
were spat upon, and passengers suffered indignities sufficient to make
an Englishman's blood boil. Fresh troops began to arrive from India, and
Sir George White, in a chorus of farewell shouts, "Remember Majuba,"
went off from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. This was on the 7th of October
1899. At that time the troops were thus distributed:--

      At Pietermaritzburg--1st Battalion Manchester Regiment and
    Mounted Infantry Company; 2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifle
    Corps.

      At Estcourt--Detachment Natal Naval Volunteers; Natal Royal
    Rifles.

      At Colenso--Durban Light Infantry.

      At Ladysmith--5th Lancers; Detachment 19th Hussars; Brigade
    Division, Royal Artillery; 10th Mountain Battery, Royal Garrison
    Artillery; 23rd Company, Royal Engineers; 1st Battalion
    Devonshire Regiment; 1st Battalion Liverpool Regiment, and
    Mounted Infantry Company; 26th (two sections) British Field
    Hospital, and Colonial troops.

      At Glencoe--18th Hussars; Brigade Division, Royal Artillery;
    1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, and Mounted Infantry
    Company; 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps, and Mounted
    Infantry Company; 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and
    Mounted Infantry Company; 6th Veterinary Field Hospital.

      There was also one Company 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle
    Corps at Eshowe, and a detachment of the Umvoti Mounted Rifles
    at Helpmakaar.

Meanwhile, at Pretoria, the Boers, protesting at the notice taken of the
"chimerical grievances of the so-called Uitlanders," made energetic
efforts to appoint General Viljeon, a rabid anti-Briton, in place of
General Joubert as Commander-in-Chief of the Transvaal forces.

The troops under Commandant Cronje, the hero of Potchefstroom, advanced
nearer to the border, in the direction of Mafeking, and in the
expectation of attack, this town was securely fortified, while all the
women and children were advised to leave. The fortification of Kimberley
was also commenced. The European exodus from all quarters continued,
defenceless men and women alike being subjected to insult and
ill-treatment by the Boers. Mr. Kruger's birthday was kept at Pretoria
with general rejoicing, and on the following day a telegram was sent by
President Kruger to the _New York World_ saying:--

     "Through the _World_ I thank the people of the United States
     most sincerely for their sympathy. Last Monday the Republic
     gave Great Britain forty-eight hours' notice within which to
     give the Republic an assurance that the present dispute would
     be settled by arbitration or other peaceful means, and that the
     troops would be removed from the borders. This expires at five
     to-day. The British Agent has been recalled. War is certain.
     The Republics are determined, if they must belong to Great
     Britain, that a price will have to be paid which will stagger
     humanity. They have, however, full faith. The sun of liberty
     will arise in South Africa as it arose in North America."

From this letter it was patent that Mr. Kruger was either pursuing his
policy of bluff, or had made long and elaborate preparations for war
with the British. On the same date an announcement was published in the
town of Pretoria:--

                                   "GOVERNMENT HOUSE, _October 11_.

     "Her Majesty's Agent at Pretoria was to-day instructed to make
     the following communication to the Government of the South
     African Republic: 'The Imperial Government have received with
     great regret the peremptory demands of the Government of the
     South African Republic conveyed in the telegram of October 9.
     You will inform the Government of the South African Republic
     that the conditions demanded by the Government of the South
     African Republic are such as Her Majesty's Government deem it
     impossible to discuss. With the delivery of the above,' the
     Imperial Government add, 'as the Transvaal Government stated in
     their Note that a refusal to comply with their demands would be
     regarded as a formal declaration of war, the British Agent is
     instructed to ask for his passports.'"

Of course, this news caused intense excitement, and all who had remained
sanguine of peace now gave up hope. At Bloemfontein President Steyn
simultaneously issued a Proclamation to the Burghers of the Free State.
He said that "the sister Republic is about to be attacked by an
unscrupulous enemy, who has long looked for a pretext to annihilate the
Afrikanders."

He went on to say that the people of the Orange Free State were bound to
the Transvaal by many ties, as well as by formal treaty, and solemnly
declared, in the presence of the Almighty, that they are compelled to
resist a powerful enemy owing to the injustice done to their kith and
kin.

Solemn obligations, continued the Proclamation, have not protected the
Transvaal against an annexation conspiracy. When its independence
ceases, the existence of the Orange Free State as an independent State
will be meaningless. Experience in the past has shown that no reliance
can be placed on the solemn promises and obligations of Great Britain
when the Administration at the helm is prepared to tread treaties under
foot.

After giving a historical sketch of the wrongs which he alleged had been
done to the Transvaal, President Steyn said: "The original Conventions
have been twisted and turned by Great Britain into a means of exercising
tyranny against the Transvaal, which has not returned the injustice done
to it in the past. No gratitude has been shown for the indulgence which
was granted to British subjects, who, according to law, had forfeited
their lives and property. Compliance with the British demands would be
equivalent to the loss of our independence, which has been gained by our
blood and tears. For many years British troops have been concentrating
on the borders of the Transvaal in order to compel it by terrorism to
comply with British claims. The crafty plans of those with whom love of
gold is the motive are now being realised. While acknowledging the
honour of thousands of Englishmen who abhor deeds of robbery and
violence, the Orange Free State execrates the wrongful deeds of a
British statesman."

After expressing confidence that the Almighty would help and aid them,
and counselling the Burghers to do nothing unworthy of Christians and
Burghers of the Free State, the President concluded with the following
words: "Burghers of the Free State, stand up as one man against the
oppressor and violator of right."

Meanwhile Sir George White, accompanied by Colonel Ian Hamilton
(Assistant Adjutant-General), Colonel Duff (Assistant Military
Secretary), Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Rawlinson, and Captains Brooke
and Lyon, aides-de-camp, was proceeding on his journey to Ladysmith. The
principal British camps were situated near Glencoe Junction and
Ladysmith, and around these some twelve or fifteen thousand Boers were
reported to be stationed between Sandspruit, Volksrust, and
Wakkerstroom, while on the western side the Natal border was threatened
by the Orange Free State's forces, which were posted in the
neighbourhood of Van Reenen's Pass.

A Proclamation, signed by Sir Alfred Milner and Mr. Schreiner, was
issued in Cape Town, warning British subjects of their duty to the
Queen, while at the same time the German Consul-General officially
ordered his countrymen to remain neutral. A similar warning was given by
the German Consul to Germans in Johannesburg. Preparations were made for
the immediate landing of a Naval Brigade from the British battleships in
Simon's Bay, and volunteers of all kinds hurried to tender their
services for special corps. In Pretoria a further manifesto was issued,
calling on Afrikanders to resist the British demands, and accusing Lord
Salisbury, Mr. Chamberlain, and Sir Alfred Milner of pursuing a
"criminal policy." It also declared that it was perfectly clear that the
desire and object of Great Britain was to deprive the Transvaal Republic
of its independence on account of the gold-mining industry on the Rand.

The manifesto went on to say that Great Britain had offered two
alternatives--a five years' franchise or war. It pointed out that the
difference between the two Governments of two years in the matter of the
franchise had been considered as a sufficient justification for Her
Majesty's Government to endeavour to swallow up the Republics, and it
reminded the Afrikanders that God would assuredly defend the right.

The manifesto was signed "Francois Willem Reitz, Secretary of State." It
created a profound sensation, and a million copies were printed in Dutch
and English.

By this time General Viljoen, in command of the Free State artillery,
was marching towards Albertina, and a party of Boers was encroaching on
the Natal border near Berg. Newcastle was warned that a state of war had
begun. It was abandoned by the British, and taken possession of by the
Boers, while Mafeking held itself in readiness to withstand the enemy.
At Sandspruit the Boers were scattered in various camps over a wide
area, and on the Portuguese border the Barberton and Lydenburg
commandoes were concentrating. Terrified refugees were still fleeing to
the Cape in such large numbers that it was almost impossible to find
accommodation for them, and large sums of money were being subscribed
both there and in Great Britain for the relief of the unhappy exiles.
Mr. Rhodes, as usual, gave munificently in aid of the sufferers, and Sir
Alfred Milner exerted himself to save the unhappy victims of British and
Boer disagreement from destitution. The treatment that these poor
persons received from the Boers in the course of their journey caused
intense indignation, and profound sympathy was felt for the homeless
ones who thus suddenly had been cast adrift from domestic comfort to
complete poverty.

It was now believed that, following the precedent of 1881, an attempt
would be made to isolate Mafeking and Kimberley, and carry on irregular
sieges at these places. The enemy's forces on the northern frontier of
Natal were estimated at some 13,000 men, while at Mafeking and Kimberley
they were supposed to number some three thousand each. On the east, the
seaport of Lorenzo Marques now sprung into great importance, and the
supposed neutralisation of the harbour was effected.

On the 11th of October Mr. Coningham Greene, the British Agent in
Pretoria, left that place for Cape Town; and on the 14th General Sir
Redvers Buller, as Commander-in-chief of the British forces engaged
against the Boer Republics, started from England. The state of war had
commenced in earnest. The Boers in hot haste began to issue further
Proclamations, and President Steyn continued to call on his Burghers to
"stand up as one man against the oppressor and violator of rights."
Twenty-four hours later they were over the border, tearing up railway
lines and severing telegraph wires, and thus cutting off communication
between Mafeking, Vryburg, Rhodesia, and Cape Colony. The investment of
Kimberley was imminent, but it was generally believed that the Diamond
City was strong enough to hold its own till our troops should come to
the rescue. The First Brigade of the Army Service Corps started on the
20th of October from Southampton, the second left on the following day,
and the third sailed on Sunday the 22nd. About the same time the
Canadian Government decided to contribute 1000 men for service in South
Africa, and the New Zealand Contingent sailed for the Cape.

[Illustration: THE OUTBREAK OF WAR--THE DRAKENBERG MOUNTAINS WHERE THE
BOERS WERE LAAGERED.]

In spite of the energetic movements that were suddenly set on foot, a
few pessimists ventured to declare that we would be bound to reap the
results of our previous unpreparedness, and that in consequence of our
procrastination and the weakness of the Government in not having taken
the initiative and allowed us to mobilise earlier, the Boers would get a
good six weeks' start--a loss it would be hard for the best tacticians
or the finest fighting men in the world to retrieve. But the mouths of
the grumblers were silenced. Every one was convinced that the fate of
the nation was perfectly safe in the hands of Sir Redvers Buller and Mr.
Thomas Atkins, and, so convinced, thousands upon thousands flocked to
see them off, and roared their God-speed with cheery British lungs,
albeit with sad and anxious hearts.


                       THE OCCUPATION OF DUNDEE

Late in September a force consisting of two battalions of infantry, a
regiment of cavalry, and two field-batteries was hurriedly pushed
forward to occupy Dundee. Affairs between the British and the Boers were
nearing a crisis. It was beginning to be believed that the Dutchmen
meant to take the initiative and strike a blow against our supremacy in
South Africa, though some at home were still shilly-shallying with
sentimental arguments as to the propriety of fighting our "brother Boer"
at all. As we now know, it wanted but the smallest move on the part of
the British to bring things to a head. Large commandoes were gathered
together with a rapidity which would have been marvellous had the Boers
not designedly brought about the issue of war, and the frontier of the
northern angle of Natal was threatened. Dundee is an important
coal-mining centre situated some forty-eight miles north-east of
Ladysmith. Why it was chosen as our advance post is hard to decide. Its
communications with Ladysmith were open to attack from either flank,
and, in the light of after events, we see that the position there of a
detached force was highly precarious. General Sir George White in an
official despatch thus describes his action in the matter:--

"Since my arrival in the Colony I had been much impressed by the exposed
situation of the garrison of Glencoe, and on the evening of October 10 I
had an interview on the subject with his Excellency the Governor, at
which I laid before him my reasons for considering it expedient, from a
military point of view, to withdraw that garrison, and to concentrate
all my available troops at Ladysmith. After full discussion his
Excellency recorded his opinion that such a step would involve grave
political results and possibilities of so serious a nature that I
determined to accept the military risk of holding Dundee as the lesser
of two evils. I proceeded in person to Ladysmith on October 11, sending
on Lieutenant-General Sir William Penn Symons to take command at
Glencoe.

"The Boers crossed the frontier both on the north and west on October
12, and next day the Transvaal flag was hoisted at Charlestown. My great
inferiority in numbers necessarily confined me strategically to the
defensive, but tactically my intention was, and is, to strike vigorously
whenever opportunity offers."

Everything at this juncture depended on the rapidity with which our army
at home could be mobilised and sent to the Cape, and though we took to
ourselves some credit for the energy displayed by all concerned, we were
really scarcely up to date in the matter of activity. For instance, in
1859 it took only thirty-seven days for France to collect on the river Po
a force of 104,000 men, with 12,000 more in Italy, while in 1866 the
Prussian army, numbering 220,000 men, were placed on the frontiers of
Saxony and Silesia in a fortnight. But more expeditious still was Germany
in 1870. In nine days she was able to mobilise her forces, and in eight
more to send to the French frontier an army of 400,000 soldiers and 1200
guns! We had, it is true, to ship off our troops a distance of some 8000
miles, but, without counting this--a natural disadvantage--there were
others--many others, the upshot of red-tapism--to be contended with. This
Sir George White was beginning to feel, but his sufferings in regard to
the initial delay were threefold later on.

To return to Dundee. It was maintained both by the Government and the
people of Natal that the valuable coal supply should be protected, and
an attempt was therefore made to guard it. The misfortune was that from
the first Lieutenant-General Sir W. Penn Symons--who, before the arrival
of Sir George White, commanded in Natal--seemed to be ill acquainted
with the enormous forces that the Boers could bring to bear against him.
It was true that he could not at that time be certain, any more than
appeared to be the Government at home, that the Free Staters would join
the Republicans; but to any one acquainted with the subject, the fact
that President Steyn had pulled the strings of the Bloemfontein affair
was sufficient evidence of a contemplated alliance. With the Free State
neutral, the aspect of affairs might have been entirely changed, and
Dundee, with Ladysmith to support it, might have held its own. As it
was, these small places were from the first placed in the most
unenviable quandary.

General Symons, on the arrival of Sir George White in Natal, took
command of the forces in Dundee, and began active preparations for the
reception of the Dutchmen.

[Illustration: MAP OF NORTHERN NATAL. SCALE 15 STATUTE MILES TO THE
INCH.]

The latter, immediately after the declaration of war, took possession of
Newcastle, and our patrols soon came in touch with the enemy. In spite
of their animated and aggressive movements, however, Sir W. Penn Symons
was disinclined to believe that the enemy meant a serious attack upon
Dundee, and though fully prepared for hostilities, he was somewhat
amazed when really informed of the rapid advance of the united
Republicans. But he lost no time. He made inquiries, and satisfied
himself that he was in a position of some danger and that he must
promptly leap to action. The chief difficulty of the situation lay in
the number of passes through which the Boers with their easily mobilised
forces could manage to pour in bodies of men, and the limited number of
British troops at General Symons's disposal. From the movements of the
Boers it was obvious that the plan of attack had long been cleverly and
carefully arranged. The Free State Boers on the 12th of October seized
Albertina Station, near the Natal frontier, and took possession of the
key, the stationmaster having to make his way on a trolley to Ladysmith.
There, as yet, all was externally peaceful, as though no enemy were
near, but a suppressed anxiety to be "up and at 'em" prevailed among the
troops. Their ardour was in nowise damped by the incessant rain that
fell, and converted the surrounding country into a wide morass, nor by
the snow that followed, which gave the Drakenberg Mountains an
additionally impregnable aspect and rendered them at once picturesque
and forbidding.

A steady increase of the commandoes in the neighbourhood of Doornberg
continued, and an attack within a few days seemed imminent.

Thereupon a large number of troops left Ladysmith for Acton Homes, where
a Boer commando of four miles long was reported to be laagered. But the
Boers retreated, and the troops remained some ten miles from Ladysmith,
the Dublin Fusiliers alone moving back to Glencoe, whence they had come
by train by order of General Symons.

At Glencoe we had, as before stated, some 4000 men, but report said that
General Viljeon had an enormous force, nearly double ours in number,
which was lying at the foot of Botha's Pass, one and a half miles on the
Natal side of the Border. Besides this, General Kock had a commando at
Newcastle. The invasion of Natal by the Boers in three columns was
formally announced by an official statement from the Governor:--

                                      "PIETERMARITZBURG, _October 16_.

"Natal was invaded from the Transvaal early on the morning of the 12th
inst., an advance being made by the enemy in three columns. On the right
a mixed column of Transvaal and Free State Burghers with Hollander
Volunteers marched through Botha's Pass. In the centre the main column,
under General Joubert's personal command, crossed Lang's Nek and moved
forward _viâ_ Ingogo. On the left a large commando advanced from
Wakkerstroom _viâ_ Moll's Nek and Wool's Drift. The object of all three
columns was Newcastle, which was occupied on the night of the 14th, the
central column having slept the previous night at Mount Prospect,
General Colley's old camping-place. On Sunday an advance party of 1500
Boers, with artillery, pushed south of Ingagane, but the greater portion
of this commando retired later in the day on Newcastle. A Boer force
which had been concentrating at De Jager's Drift captured six Natal
policemen. A picket of the King's Royal Rifles Mounted Infantry has
exchanged a few shots with the enemy. This has hitherto been the only
fighting.

"A large force of Free State Boers, estimated at from 11,000 to 13,000,
is watching the passes of the Drakensberg from Olivier's Hoek to
Collins's Pass. They have pushed a few patrols down the berg, but
hitherto the main force has not debouched from the actual passes, which
are being intrenched."

As will be seen, the advance of the foe seemed to be converging on Sir
George White's position from all directions, and threatening Glencoe
from the north, east, and possibly west. Still the troops remained
cheerful and looked forward to a brush with the enemy. On the 18th
hostilities were begun by the Free State commando moving about ten miles
down the Tintwa Pass. They opened fire with their artillery on some
small cavalry patrols, but their shooting was distinctly inferior, and
no one was injured. They retreated on the advance of the 5th Lancers.
Several more commandoes were known to have advanced to join a force
stationed at Doornberg, some twelve miles from Dundee, and the enemy's
scouts having also been seen some seven miles off Glencoe, an engagement
was expected at any moment. An interesting account of this interval of
suspense was given by an officer writing on the 16th October from
Dundee, interesting and pathetic, too, when, in reading it, we remember
that the gallant fellow to whom the writer alluded is alive no longer.
He said:--

"Hitherto there has been no fighting at all, but our patrols are in
touch with the enemy. I was out on my first patrol the day before
yesterday since the declaration of war. My orders were to start at 6
A.M., push on about twelve miles along the Newcastle road, and stay out
till about 6 P.M. I went out to a small hill about four miles from the
camp and reconnoitered, and then went on to a place called Hadding
Spruit, where I found a few people at the station and the stationmaster.
This is at present the terminus of the line, all the rolling stock north
of this having been sent south, and all the wires cut and instruments
removed by the railway people. There is a large coal-mine here, and the
people are in a deadly funk about being blown up. I pushed on to a large
kopje, a few miles this side and west of Dannhauser, and climbed to the
top, where I spent an hour or so, as from there one can see as far as
Ingagane Nek, four miles this side of Newcastle, the place I sketched.
Just as I looked over the top of the hill I saw two men on ponies with
guns. They were talking to a Kaffir. I at once put them down as Boers,
and thought of firing at them, but decided not to disclose my position
and watch them. This was lucky for them, as I caught them later, and
found them to be refugees flying from the Boers, who I discovered were
in occupation of Ingagane and Newcastle, and had their patrols out
nearly to Dannhauser.

"I then went on to Dannhauser, which consists of a railway station, two
farms, a store, a couple of coolie stores, a mine, and a few huts. We
approached with magazines charged and expected to see a Boer every
minute, but found that they were not expected to come down as far as
that till next day. I then made my way slowly back by the main road, and
reached camp about 5 P.M., when I found that the other patrol (six men
and an officer is the strength of each) had proceeded to De Jager's
Drift and had not returned. A telephonic communication from the
police-station at De Jager's Drift said, 'A large force of forty Boers
have crossed Buffalo to cut off your patrol. Am trying ...'--and then
ended abruptly. It eventually transpired that the Boers rushed the
police-station before the message could be completed. Thackwell, who was
in command of the patrol, pursued twelve Boers up to the river. Then
thirty-four crossed to our side, and twelve lower down, the twelve
trying to cut him off behind. However, he retired on to a nek behind,
and as they did not come on, he moved off in about half an hour by
another road. This was lucky for him, as he saw the twelve men who had
crossed by Landsman's Drift disconsolately coming down from a lot of
rocks where they had been lying in wait for him on the road he had come
by.

"There seems to have been something going on at Kimberley. I wish they
would buck up here and do something. I am on picket to-night, which
means no sleep and a lot of bother, as the picket is about seven miles
from camp at the junction of the Vant's Drift and De Jager's Drift
roads, where there is a chance of being plugged at. The picket on the
Helmakaar road was shot at the other night.

"One of the armoured trains came up here yesterday--an ugly-looking
beast with the engine in the middle, all covered with iron, so that only
just the top of the funnel is visible. I do not believe in them. If any
one puts a dynamite cartridge under a rail--pop! up goes the armoured
train.

"I think this will be a very interesting war, as the railway will play
such an important part in the tactics. Thus the other day we sent the
Dublin Fusiliers down to Ladysmith to repel an expected attack at
half-an-hour's notice, and brought them back the same night....

"We are under an awfully nice General--one Penn Symons--a real good
chap."

On the 18th of October the Carabineers were in touch with the enemy in
the neighbourhood of Bester's Farm a great part of the day, and
Lieutenant Galway, son of the Chief-Justice of Natal, who remained to
watch his troops off the kopje, was reported missing. The Carabineers
were compelled to retire owing to being completely outnumbered by the
Boer force, and had they not done so they would have run the risk of
being cut off from their supports. There were some hair-breadth escapes,
and Major Taunton, who was riding at the head of his squadron, came
through a vigorous hail of bullets quite uninjured.

Major Rethman, in command of 300 Natal Mounted Rifles, also actively
engaged the enemy near Acton Homes, but was also compelled to retire for
fear of being cut off. Being quite conversant with Boer tactics, he
refused to be drawn by the pretence of retreat made by the Dutchmen,
knowing that concealed forces of the enemy in great numbers were waiting
to entrap him. Major Rethman, believing in the old saw that brevity is
the soul of wit, reported his loss as "one hat."

The Dutchmen now advanced. An armoured train, sent by Sir George White
to bring in wounded from Bester's Farm, returned discomfited, as the
rails over the bridge four miles off Ladysmith had been tampered with.
It was found that a farm, which had been deserted earlier in the day,
was now in the occupation of the Boers, but these, though established on
the south side of the line, made no effort to attack the train and
allowed it to return unmolested. Rumours of fighting were in the air,
and skirmishes between advance parties of British troops and Boers were
the order of the day. A report reached the Glencoe camp that the Boers
had been seen some seven miles off, whereupon Major Laming with a
squadron of the 18th Hussars rode out to reconnoitre. Lieutenant Cape,
the advanced officer's patrol, discovered a strong advance party of the
enemy, who delivered a heavy fire, but fortunately without result. This
most probably was due to the swift and clever manoeuvring of the
Hussars.

The Carabineers and Border Mounted Rifles, who were in action nearly the
whole of the 18th of October, returned to camp at three in the morning
of the 19th. They were quite worn out and famished, having been for
twenty-four hours without food, and three days and two nights in the
saddle. Considering the excitement and fatigue, they were in excellent
spirits. Their experience was a novel one, for on this occasion the
Boers, who usually prefer to skulk under cover, made incipient rushes
at certain points. They gave way, however, before the pressing
attentions of the Maxims, and fled helter-skelter to cover again; but
their departure was on the principle of "those who fight and run away
live to fight another day." They reserved themselves for a more decisive
effort.

At midday on the 19th a mixed train running from Ladysmith to Dundee was
captured by the enemy about a mile off Elandslaagte Station, which
stands about fifteen miles from Ladysmith, and is the first station from
thence on the line. A war correspondent was taken prisoner, four
Carabineers were wounded, and some horses and cattle seized. Telegraphic
communication in the north was cut off, and four trucks of stores in the
Elandslaagte Station were captured.


                          THE BATTLE OF GLENCOE

On the night of the 19th, Sir W. Penn Symons discovered that he was
surrounded by the enemy. Three of their columns were converging on his
position--one from the north-west under General Erasmus by the
Dannhauser-Hattingspruit road; one from Utrecht and Vryheid by
Landsman's Drift from the east, under Commandant Lucas Meyer; and a
third under General Viljoen from Waschbank on the south, this latter
being the force which cut through the Ladysmith-Dundee railway.

The Boer plan was to deliver simultaneously different attacks from all
sides of the Glencoe camp. The column under Erasmus was to open the
attack from the north-west, and falling back, was to draw Symons in
pursuit away from his camp. Then Viljoen and Meyer were to close on the
pursuers from either flank and annihilate them.

Fortunately this skilfully-devised programme was not fulfilled. For this
reason: The force under Lucas Meyer was the first to arrive, and its
leader, impatient to secure the glories of war, decided on an
independent course of action. Before the other columns could put in an
appearance he opened the attack. On the hills round Glencoe the Boers
had posted cannon, and from thence at daybreak on the 20th of October
Meyer's gunners began to fire plugged shells into the camp. A flash--a
puff of smoke--a whizz and a crash! Hostilities had begun! By 5 A.M. all
General Symons's troops were under arms. It was evident that the enemy
were in force, and that their guns were some half-a-dozen in number.
Their range was 5000 yards, but, fortunately, their shots, though well
directed, flew screaming overhead and buried themselves in the soft
earth, doing no damage whatever. A few tents fell, a few marquees were
torn up. That was all. Our artillery soon came into action, at first at
too long a range, but afterwards--from a position south of Dundee--with
greater success. They then replied to the enemy's challenge with
considerable warmth and excellent effect; and, since our batteries
numbered some three to one, by 11.30 o'clock the enemy's Krupps were
silenced. In the meantime the infantry, the 1st King's Royal Rifles and
the 2nd Dublin Fusiliers, formed for attack opposite the enemy's
position, which was situated some two miles off at the top of an almost
impregnable hill. Huge boulders margined the sides of it, and half-way
up an encircling wall added to the impassability of the position. But
the word impossible is not to be found in the dictionary of a soldier,
and General Symons gave an order. The hill was to be taken. The bugles
rang out; the infantry fixed bayonets. Then was enacted another, only a
grander, Majuba, but now with the position of the contending forces
inverted. Doubtless the memory of that historic defeat inspired our men,
for they evidently decided that what the Boer had done, the Briton also
could do, and, spurred by their officers, who showed an absolute
disregard of the possibilities of danger, went ahead and carried the
crest in magnificent style. No such brilliant achievement of British
infantry has been recorded since Albuera. But this, as we shall see, was
not accomplished in a moment. It involved tremendous exposure in
crossing an open plain intersected with nullahs under a terrific fire,
followed by a long spell of dogged climbing, finally on hand and knees,
over more than a mile of broken, sometimes almost perpendicular, ground,
and in the midst of an incessant and furious fusilade.

[Illustration: POSITION OF FORCES BEFORE THE BATTLE OF GLENCOE.]

At 7.30 A.M. the head of the Hattingspruit column appeared; appeared but
to vanish--for it was at once saluted by the 67th Field Battery, and
being unprepared for this somewhat boisterous attention, made haste to
beat a retreat. At 8.50 the infantry brigade was ordered to advance.
Soon the Dublin Fusiliers and the Rifles, who had been reinforced by the
Royal Irish Fusiliers, were steadily moving on, firing by sections, and
using what cover the ground afforded. Overhead, from the hill
described, and from another south of the road, the ever-active shells
continued their grim music, while all around was the dense curtain of
fine rain that drizzled down like wet needles from an opaque sky, making
a screen between the opposing forces. But on and on, led by their
gallant officers, our infantry continued to toil, their advance ever
covered by the 13th and 67th Field Batteries--under the command
respectively of Major Dawkins and Major Wing--while the enemy from above
poured upon them volley after volley as hard as rifles would let them.
When half-way up, where the kopje was girded by a flat terrace and a
stone wall, the troops, scattered by the terrific fire, hot, drenched,
and panting with their climb, made a halt. There, under the lea of the
hill, it was necessary to get "a breather," and to gather themselves
together for the supreme effort. The scene was not exhilarating. The
grey mist falling--the scattered earth and mud rising and spluttering,
the shrieking shells rending the air, already vibrant with the whirr of
bullets--the closer sounds and sights of death and destruction--all
these things were sufficient to stem the courage of stoutest hearts.
Still the British band remained undaunted, still they prepared boldly
for the final rush. Presently, with renewed energy the three gallant
regiments, steadily and determinedly as ever, started off, scaled the
wall, clambered up the steep acclivity, and finally, with a rush and a
roar as of released pandemonium, charged the crest.

The rout of the enemy was complete. At the glint of the steel they
turned and ran--ran like panic-stricken sheep, helter-skelter over the
hill, in the direction of Landmann's and Vant's Drifts. Their retreat
was harried by cavalry and mounted infantry, and, so far as it was
possible, in view of the inaccessible position, by the field artillery.
At this juncture the enemy displayed a white flag--without any intention
of surrender, it appears--but our firing was stopped by order of the
artillery commander. Two guns and several prisoners were captured,
together with horses and various boxes of shells for Maxim, Nordenfeldt,
and Krupp quick-firing guns. Our wounded were many, and some companies
looked woefully attenuated as the remnant, when all was over, whistled
themselves back to camp. Their gallant leader, General Penn Symons, who
had taken no precautions to keep under cover, but, on the contrary, had
made himself conspicuous in being accompanied by a lancer with a red
flag, fell early in the fight, mortally wounded. His place was taken by
Brigadier-General Yule, whose position at that time was far from
enviable. A message had been brought in by scouts, stating that some
9000 Boers were marching with the intention of attacking the British in
the rear, and that at the very moment the advancing multitude might be
cloaked in a dark mist that was gathering round the hills. Fortunately
the hovering hordes failed to appear, and the first big engagement of
the war terminated in a glorious victory for British arms.

[Illustration: THE OUTBREAK OF THE WAR--TRANSPORT LEAVING ENGLAND FOR
THE CAPE.

Drawing by Charles J. de Lacia.]

From all accounts the two hostile columns numbered respectively 4000 and
9000 men, and against these forces Sir Penn Symons had at his command in
all about 4000. Among these were the 13th, 67th, and 69th Field
Batteries, the 18th Hussars, the Natal Mounted Volunteers, the 8th
Battalion Leicester Regiment, the 1st King's Royal Rifles, the 2nd
Dublin Fusiliers, and several companies of mounted infantry. But on the
Dublin Fusiliers, the King's Royal Rifles, and the Royal Irish Fusiliers
fell the brunt of the work, the task of capturing the Boer position, and
the magnificent dash and courage with which the almost impossible feat
was accomplished brought a thrill to the heart of all who had the good
fortune to witness it.

[Illustration]

Though the fight was a successful one, a grievous incident occurred. The
18th Hussars had received orders at 5.40 A.M. to get round the enemy's
right flank and be ready to cut off his retreat. They were accompanied
by a portion of the mounted infantry and a machine-gun. Making a wide
turning movement, they gained the eastern side of Talana Hill and there
halted, while two squadrons were sent in pursuit of the enemy. From that
time, though firing was heard at intervals throughout the day, Colonel
Moeller, with a squadron of the 18th Hussars and four sections of
mounted infantry, was lost to sight. The rain had increased and the mist
covered the hills, and it was believed that in course of time this
missing party would return. But the belief was vain. In a few days it
was discovered that they were made prisoners and had been removed to
Pretoria. The following is a list of the gallant officers who were so
unluckily captured:--

     Colonel Moeller, 18th Hussars; Major Greville, 18th Hussars;
     Captain Pollok, 18th Hussars; Captain Lonsdale, 2nd Battalion
     Dublin Fusiliers; Lieutenant Le Mesurier, 2nd Battalion Dublin
     Fusiliers; Lieutenant Garvice, 2nd Battalion Dublin Fusiliers;
     Lieutenant Grimshaw, 2nd Battalion Dublin Fusiliers; Lieutenant
     Majendie, 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps; Lieutenant
     Shore, Army Veterinary Department, attached to 18th Hussars.

An official account of the circumstances which led to the capture was
supplied by Captain Hardy, R.A.M.C., who said: "After the battle, three
squadrons of the 18th Hussars, with one Maxim, a company of the Dublin
Fusiliers, a section of the 60th Rifles and Mounted Infantry, Colonel
Moeller commanding, kept under cover of the ridge to the north of the
camp, and at 6.30 moved down the Sand Spruit. On reaching the open the
force was shelled by the enemy, but there were no casualties.

"Colonel Moeller took his men round Talana Hill in a south-easterly
direction, crossed the Vant's Drift road, captured several Boers, and
saw the Boer ambulances retiring. Colonel Moeller, with the B Squadron
of the Hussars, a Maxim, and mounted infantry, crossed the
Dundee-Vryheid railway, and got near a big force of the enemy, who
opened a hot fire, and Lieutenant M'Lachlan was hit.

"The cavalry retired across Vant's Drift, 1500 Boers following. Colonel
Moeller held the ridge for some time, but the enemy enveloping his
right, he ordered the force to fall back across the Spruit. The Maxim
got fixed in a donga (water-hole). Lieutenant Cape was wounded, three of
his detachment were killed, and the horses of Major Greville and Captain
Pollok were shot.

"The force re-formed on a ridge north of the Sand Spruit, and held it
for a short time. While Captain Hardy was attending to Lieutenant Crum,
who was wounded, Colonel Moeller retired his force into a defile,
apparently with the intention of returning to camp round the Impati
Mountain, and was not seen afterwards."

The following list of casualties shows how hardly the glory of victories
may be earned:--

     Divisional Staff.--General Sir William Penn Symons, mortally
     wounded in stomach; Colonel C. E. Beckett, A.A.G., seriously
     wounded, right shoulder; Major Frederick Hammersley, D.A.A.G.,
     seriously wounded, leg. Brigade Staff.--Colonel John
     Sherston,[1] D.S.O., Brigade Major, killed; Captain Frederick
     Lock Adam, Aide-de-Camp, seriously wounded, right shoulder. 1st
     Battalion Leicestershire Regiment.--Lieutenant B. de W. Weldon,
     wounded slightly, hand. 1st Battalion Royal Irish
     Fusiliers.--Second Lieutenant A. H. M. Hill, killed; Major W.
     P. Davison, wounded; Captain and Adjutant F. H. B. Connor,
     wounded (since dead); Captain M. J. W. Pike, wounded;
     Lieutenant C. C. Southey, wounded; Second Lieutenant M. B. C.
     Carbery, wounded dangerously, face and shoulder; Second
     Lieutenant H. C. W. Wortham, wounded severely, both thighs.
     Royal Dublin Fusiliers.--Captain George Anthony Weldon, killed;
     Captain Maurice Lowndes, wounded dangerously, left leg; Captain
     Atherstone Dibley, wounded dangerously, head; Lieutenant
     Charles Noel Perreau, wounded; Lieutenant Charles Jervis Genge,
     wounded (since dead). 1st Battalion King's Royal
     Rifles.--Killed: Lieutenant-Colonel R. H. Gunning,[2] Captain
     M. H. K. Pechell, Lieutenant J. Taylor, Lieutenant R. C.
     Barnett, Second Lieutenant N. J. Hambro.--Wounded: Major C. A.
     T. Boultbee, upper thigh, dangerously; Captain O. S. W. Nugent,
     Captain A. R. M. Stuart-Wortley, Lieutenant F. M. Crum,
     Lieutenant R. Johnstone, both thighs, severely; Second
     Lieutenant G. H. Martin, thigh and arm, severely. 18th
     Hussars.--Wounded: Second Lieutenant H. A. Cape, Second
     Lieutenant Albert C. M'Lachlan, Second Lieutenant E. H.
     Bayford.

The Boer force engaged in this action was computed at 4000 men, of whom
about 500 were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners. Three of their guns
were left dismounted on Talana Hill, but there was no opportunity of
bringing them away.

Our own losses were severe, amounting to 10 officers and 31
non-commissioned officers and men killed, 20 officers and 165
non-commissioned officers and men wounded, and 9 officers and 211
non-commissioned officers and men missing.

Though General Symons was known to be at the point of death, his promotion
was speedily gazetted, and it was some consolation to feel that the
gallant and popular officer lasted long enough to read of the recognition
of his worth by an appreciative country. The following is an extract from
the _Gazette_:--

"The Queen has been pleased to approve of the promotion of Colonel
(local Lieutenant-General) Sir W. P. Symons, K.C.B., commanding 4th
Division Natal Field Force, to be Major-General, supernumerary to the
establishment, for distinguished service in the field."

An officer who was taken prisoner by the enemy, writing home soon after
this engagement, made touching reference to some of the killed and
wounded: "Poor Jack Sherston! Several of the officers here saw him lying
dead on the hill at Dundee. When he left with the message entrusted to
him he said to me, 'I shall never return.' Poor Captain Pechell! He had
a bullet through the neck. General Symons was wounded and thrown from
his horse, but he remounted and was conducted to the hospital, where he
learnt that the height had been taken by our troops. His health improved
a little, but he died on the following Tuesday. What a list of losses
already! It is terrible to think that our own cannon were fired by
mistake on our men, killing a large number. I saw M'Lachlan when he was
wounded with a bullet in his leg. He went about on horseback saying that
it did not hurt him, but at last he had to go to the hospital. My
bugler, such a pleasant fellow, was hit in the head, the body, and the
throat, and killed on the spot.... From a wounded officer, who is a
prisoner, I hear that poor Cape had a bullet in the throat and another
in the leg. He emptied his revolver twice ere falling. He is progressing
towards recovery.... He had the command of our Maxim gun which fell into
the hands of the enemy. The entire detachment which worked the gun was
killed or wounded. At that moment bullets were whistling all round us.
Cape, I think, has been exchanged for one of the enemy's wounded. I
suppose that he will be sent home invalided. I wonder what the future
has in store for us? It is really heart-breaking to think that we are
penned in here without being able to do anything but wait."


                              ELANDSLAAGTE

Amongst other things, it was known in Ladysmith on the 18th of October
that General Koch's commando was moving to the Biggarsberg Pass on the
way to Elandslaagte. The advanced guard of the Boers finding a train at
the Elandslaagte station, attempted to seize it, but the driver with
remarkable pluck turned on steam, and, though pelted with bullets, got
safely to Dundee. The second train was captured, however, and with it
its valuable cargo of live stock, and two newspaper correspondents, who
were made prisoners. Finding that the enemy was gathered in force round
Dundee, and that an attack there was hourly to be expected, and,
moreover, that several Free State commandoes were shifting about round
Ladysmith, the inhabitants of that town had an uneasy time.
Major-General French, who had but recently arrived from England, was
directed by Sir George White to make a reconnaissance in force in the
neighbourhood of Elandslaagte. He moved his cavalry in the pouring rain
some twelve miles along the Dundee road, but besides locating the enemy,
and beyond the capture of two of their number, who seemed not
ill-disposed to be made prisoners, little was done. On the following
day, Saturday, another reconnaissance was made. General French with
Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Chisholme and the Imperial Light Horse, the
Natal Volunteer Artillery with six guns, supported by half a battalion
of the Manchesters, with railway and telegraph construction companies,
started in the direction occupied by the enemy on the preceding day.
General French's orders were simple and explicit, namely, to clear the
neighbourhood of Elandslaagte of the enemy and to cover the construction
of the railway and telegraph lines. The troops slowly proceeded along a
low tableland which terminated in a cliff. On a plain below this cliff
lay the station and village of Elandslaagte, and round and about this
settlement mounted Boers were swarming. These no sooner espied the
British than they made off as fast as their nimble steeds could carry
them, ascending in the direction of a high kopje some 5000 yards away.
Those who remained in the station were fired on by our Volunteer
Battery, while a squadron under Major Sampson moved round to the north
of them.

[Illustration: POSITION OF FORCES BEFORE THE BATTLE OF ELANDSLAAGTE,
NOON]

The first two shells caused considerable consternation among the
Dutchmen, but they were soon returned with interest. Though the enemy
used smokeless explosives, their battery was revealed by the yellow
flash of the guns in the purple shadow of the hill. These guns were
worked with marvellous accuracy, but, fortunately, many of the
shells--fired with percussion fuses--dug deep into the sand before
bursting. The Volunteer Battery found their own guns so inferior to
those of the enemy that there was little chance of silencing them, and
General French, seeing there was no question of occupying Elandslaagte
with the small force at his disposal, moved his guns back towards his
armoured train, telephoned to Sir George White, and withdrew in the
direction of Modder's Spruit. There he awaited reinforcements from
Ladysmith. These at 11 o'clock began to appear: One squadron of the 5th
Dragoon Guards, one squadron of the 5th Lancers under Colonel King, and
two batteries of artillery, the latter having come out at a gallop with
double teams. Then the infantry arrived under Colonel Ian Hamilton, the
second half-battalion of the Manchester Regiment, a battalion of the
Devonshire Regiment under Major Park, and five companies of the Gordon
Highlanders under Lieutenant-Colonel Dick-Cunyngham, V.C.

At 3.30 P.M. General White arrived on the scene, but the executive
command of the troops engaged remained in the hands of General French.
The Boers were discovered to be magnificently posted on a
horseshoe-shaped ridge about 800 feet above the level of the railway to
north of the Ladysmith-Dundee road, standing almost at a right angle
from the permanent way, though some 2000 yards removed from it. On the
side nearing the railroad the ridge was crowned with a peaked kopje,
which hill was connected by a nek with another eminence of the same
kind. These hills were held by the enemy, while their laager was
situated on the connecting ridge. The position was strewn on both flanks
by very rough boulders which afforded excellent cover. On the main hill
were three big guns strongly posted at three different points so as to
command a wide expanse of country and leave a retreat open over the
hills in the direction of Wessel's Nek. Facing the ridge was a wide
expanse of veldt rising upwards in the direction of Ladysmith.

At four--an unusually late hour for the commencement of hostilities--the
first gun boomed out; the range was 4400 yards. A few moments of furious
cannonading, then the enemy's guns ceased to reply. The silence enabled
the artillerymen to turn their attention on a party of the foe who were
annoying them with a persistent rifle-fire on the right flank at a range
of 2000 yards. It was an admirable corrective, and the Boer
sharpshooters retired discomfited. Meanwhile the infantry had been
brought up in preparatory battle formation of small columns covered by
scouts. The position of the infantry was then as follows:--

The first battalion Devonshire Regiment, with a frontage of 500 yards
and a depth of 1300 yards, was halted on the western extremity of a
horseshoe-shaped ridge. The opposite end of this ridge, which was
extremely rugged and broken, was held by the enemy in force. The first
battalion Manchester Regiment had struck the ridge fully 1000 yards to
the south-east, just at the point where it begins to bend round
northwards. The second battalion Gordon Highlanders were one mile in
rear.

[Illustration: LIEUT.-GENERAL J. D. P. FRENCH.

Photo by Lambert Weston & Son, Folkestone.]

Now, no sooner had the Devonshire Regiment commenced to move forward
than they attracted the shell of the enemy, but owing to the loose
formation adopted, the loss at this time was slight. In spite of the
furious fire, the regiment still pushed on to within 900 yards of the
position, and then opening fire, held the enemy in front of them till 6
P.M. The batteries also advanced and took up a position on a ridge
between the Devonshire and Manchester Regiments, about 3200 yards from
the enemy. Then began an animated artillery duel, the roar of guns
mingling with the thunder of heaven, which at this juncture seemed to
have attuned itself to suit the stormy state of the human tempest that
was raging below. At this period considerable damage was done. Captain
Campbell, R.A., was wounded, an ammunition waggon overturned, and many
men and horses were killed or injured. For some time the interchange of
deadly projectiles was pursued with vigour, then the 42nd Field Battery
came into action. The Imperial Light Horse now moved left of the enemy's
position; some mounted Boers at once pushed out and engaged them. Soon
after this the guns from above ceasing firing, our gunners turned their
attention to the mounted Boers, who rapidly fell back. Then, as the sun
was setting and dark clouds were rolling over the heavens and screening
the little light that remained, the infantry pressed forward. The plan
was that while the Devonshire Regiment made a frontal attack, the
Manchester Regiment, supported by the Gordons with the Imperial Light
Horse on the right, were to advance along the sloping ridge, turn the
enemy's flank and force him back on his main position. This movement was
to be supported by the artillery, which was to close in as the attack
developed.

The Devons, under Major Park, marched out, as said, leading the way
across the plateau and into the valley coolly and deliberately, though
under a terrific fire from above. The Boer guns, which were served with
great courage, invariably gave tongue on the smallest provocation, and
the ground was ploughed up in every direction with bursting shell. But
fortunately few of the gallant Devons were hit. Later on they drew
nearer the position, and the regiment, halted under cover of convenient
ant-hills, and opened fire. The rifles of the enemy were not slow to
reply. Their Mauser bullets whirred like swarms of bees around the heads
of the plucky fellows, who, heedless of them, dauntlessly advanced to
within some 350 yards of the summit of the hill. There they awaited the
development of the flank attack.

Meanwhile the Manchesters, with the Imperial Light Horse and the
Gordons, were winding round the lower steeps, the Gordons bearing to the
right through a cutting in the hills. Here, ascending, they came under
the artillery fire of the enemy, the Boers having moved their guns.
Shells, and not only shells but huge boulders, dropped among the
advancing troops, crushing and mutilating, and leaving behind a streak
of mangled bodies. But though the ordeal was terrible, and the sound and
sight of wounded and bleeding were enough to paralyse the stoutest
heart, the ever "gay" Gordons plodded on, passing higher and higher,
while their officers leading, cheered and roared them up the precipitous
ascent. Thus they clambered and plodded, with men dropping dead at their
elbows, with torn and fainting comrades by their sides. A storm of rain
from the gathering thunderclouds drenched them through to the skin, but
they heeded it not. A storm of bullets from the Boers sensibly
diminished their numbers, but they never swerved. Then their gallant
commander fell. Colonel Dick-Cunyngham, the honoured and beloved, was
shot in two places. Several other dashing Scottish officers were
wounded, but many still heroically stumbled and reeled over the
boulders, some even waving their helmets to pretend they were unhurt,
and to encourage their companions to the great, the final move....

At last the signal for the charge was sounded. The bugle blared out and
was echoed and re-echoed. Then came flash of bayonet and sound of
cheering throats, the rush of Devons, Manchesters, Gordons, and
dismounted Imperials--a wild, shouting mass making straight for the
enemy's position.

To account for the presence of the Devons in the grand melée it is
necessary to go back somewhat, as the great assault was not accomplished
in a moment.

Our men were advancing in short rushes of about fifty yards, the Boers
all the while lying under cover and shooting till the troops were within
some twenty or thirty yards of them. Then the Dutchmen, as suited their
convenience, either bolted or surrendered.

When the end ridge was gained and the guns captured, the enemy's laager
was close in sight. A white flag was shown from the centre of the camps.
At this Colonel Hamilton gave an order. The "Cease fire" was sounded.
There was a lull in the action, some of our men commencing to walk
slowly down-hill towards the camp. Suddenly, without warning, the
crackle of musketry was heard, and a deadly fire poured from a small
sugar-loaf shaped kopje to east of the camp. For one short moment our
men, staggered by the dastardly action and the fierce suddenness of the
attack, fell back, and during this moment a party of some forty Boers
had stoutly charged uphill and effected a lodgment near the crest.

[Illustration: PLAN OF BATTLE OF ELANDSLAAGTE]

But this ruse was a failure and their triumph short-lived. The 1st
Battalion Devonshire Regiment, who, as we know, had been holding the
enemy in front during the commencement of the infantry attack, and had
since then pushed steadily forward, had now reached to 350 yards from
the enemy. Here they lay down to recover breath before charging with
fixed bayonets. Five companies assaulted the hill to the left and five
to the right; and a detachment of these, arriving at the critical moment
when the Boers were making their last stand, helped to bring about the
triumphant finale.

Like the lightning that shot through the sky above, the Boers, at the
sound of the united cheers, had fled! Some scampered away to their
laager on the Nek, and from thence to other kopjes. Others filed in
troops anywhere, regardless of consequences. While they were in full
retreat, and the mists of darkness, like a gathering pall, hung over the
scene, the 5th Lancers and the 5th Dragoon Guards charged the flying
enemy--charged not once nor twice only, but thrice, dashing through the
scattered ranks with deadly purpose, though at terrible risk of life and
limb. Never were Boers so amazed. The despised worms--the miserable
Rooineks--had at last turned, and, as one of them afterwards described
it, they had "come on horses galloping, and with long sticks with spikes
at the end of them, picked us up like bundles of hay!"

The cost of victory, however, was heavy. Roughly estimated, we lost 4
officers and 37 men killed; 31 officers and 175 men wounded. Ten men
were missing. The Boers lost over 300 Burghers killed and wounded,
besides several hundred horses. Their hospital with wounded prisoners
was placed under the care of the British hospital, they having only one
doctor, who, with his primitive staff, was quite unable to cope with the
arduous work of attending the multitude of sufferers.

Numbers of the enemy of all nationalities--Germans, Hollanders, Irish,
and others--were made prisoners, and among them were General de Koch and
Piet Joubert, nephew of General Joubert. General Viljoen was killed. The
mongrel force, estimated at about 1200 strong, was commanded by Colonel
Schiel, to whom it doubtless owed its excellent tactical disposition.
This officer was wounded and taken prisoner. The _Times_ gave somewhat
interesting character sketches of prominent Boers who were killed or
wounded on this occasion:--

     "General Koch was Minute-Keeper to the Executive, and was
     President Kruger's most influential supporter. His son, Judge
     Koch, was appointed to a seat on the Bench, but was not
     popular, and was regarded as a puppet. The fighting Koch is not
     to be confounded with the General Koch, who belongs to Vryheid,
     and is a sterling warrior.

     "Advocate Coster was State Attorney at the time of the Reform
     trials, but resigned owing to President Kruger having insulted
     him at a meeting of the Executive. He was an accomplished man,
     a member of the Inner Temple, and was very popular with the
     Dutch Bar.

     "General Ben Viljoen was responsible for most of the
     fire-eating articles which appeared in the _Rand Post_."

     "Colonel Schiel was court-martialled in past days for shooting
     four natives whom he accused of insubordination."

The courage of the Boers during this battle was immense. About two
thousand were engaged, and these, though certainly aided by the strength
of their position, fought valiantly, facing doggedly the heavy
consummately well-directed fire of the British artillery, and returning
it with undiminished coolness.

An interesting incident is mentioned in connection with the battle. When
the fire of the British guns became overwhelming, eight plucky Boers
dashed forward from cover, and, standing together, steadily opened fire
on the men of the Imperial Light Horse, with the evident purpose of
drawing their fire, while their comrades should change position. Out of
this gallant little band, only one man was left to tell the tale!

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF ELANDSLAAGTE--CHARGE OF THE 5th LANCERS.

Drawn by R. Caton Woodville.]

The following is the casualty roll of officers killed at the battle of
Elandslaagte:--

     Imperial Light Horse.--Colonel Scott Chisholme,[3] commander,
     killed; Major Wools Sampson, bullet wound, thigh, severely;
     Captain John Orr, bullet wound, neck, severely; Lieutenant
     William Curry, bullet wound, foot, severely; Lieutenant Arthur
     Shore, bullet wound, chest, severely; Lieutenant and Adjutant
     R. W. Barnes, wounded severely; Lieutenant Lachlan Forbes,
     wounded severely; Captain Mullins, wounded; Lieutenant
     Campbell, wounded; Lieutenant Normand, wounded. 21st Battery
     Field Artillery.--Captain H. M. Campbell, bullet wound, chest,
     severe; Lieutenant W. G. H. Manley, shell wound, head, severe.
     Staff.--Captain Ronald G. Brooke, 7th Hussars, bullet wounds,
     thigh and head, severe. 1st Battalion Devonshire
     Regiment.--Second Lieutenant H. R. Gunning, severely, bullet
     wound in chest; Second Lieutenant S. T. Hayley, severely,
     bullet wounds in hand and leg; Second Lieutenant G. F. Green,
     severely, bullet wound in forearm; Captain William B. Lafone,
     slightly, bullet wound. 1st Battalion Manchester
     Regiment.--Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Curran, bullet wound,
     shoulder; Captain Charles Melvill, bullet wound, arm, severe;
     Captain William Newbigging, bullet wound, left shoulder,
     severe; Captain Donald Paton, bullet wound, thigh, severe;
     Lieutenant Cyril Danks, bullet wound, scalp, slight. 2nd
     Battalion Gordon Highlanders.--Killed: Major H. W. D. Denne,
     Lieutenant C. G. Monro, Second Lieutenant J. G. D. Murray,
     Lieutenant L. B. Bradbury. Wounded: Lieutenant-Colonel
     Dick-Cunyngham, bullet wound, arm, severe; Major Harry Wright,
     bullet wound, right foot, severe; Captain J. Haldane, bullet
     wound, leg, severe; Captain Arthur Buchanan, bullet wound,
     right side, severe; Lieutenant M. Meiklejohn, fractured
     humerus, severe; Lieutenant C. W. Findlay, bullet wound, arm
     and thigh, severe; Lieutenant J. B. Gillat (attached from
     Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders); Second Lieutenant I. A.
     Campbell, bullet wound, head and chest, dangerous; Lieutenant
     A. R. Hennessy (3rd Batt.), bullet wound, head and chest,
     severe.

The following tribute to the memory of Colonel Scott Chisholme is taken
from Mr. John Stuart's correspondence to the _Morning Post_:--

"No death has been more severely felt than the Colonel's. He was a good
man and a good soldier, brave to the point of recklessness, a
wonderfully-inspiriting leader, and, as I judged from about
a month's knowledge of him, single-minded, fervent in all his work,
passionately in earnest. His regiment almost worshipped him. On the day
of the fight their keenness was increased because he was keen, and they
ignored the hardships they had gone through because he shared them and
took them lightly, and did his best to improve matters.

"During the fight he only took cover once or twice, going from troop to
troop, praising and encouraging the men in words that were always well
chosen, for no man could phrase his blame or praise more aptly. At the
last ridge he stopped to tie up the leg of a wounded trooper, and was
shot himself in the leg. Two of his men went to his assistance, but he
waved them off, telling them to go on with their fighting and to leave
him alone. Then he was shot in one of the lungs, and the men went to his
help, but while they were trying to get him to cover, a bullet lodged in
his head and killed him. The last words he was heard to say were, 'My
fellows are doing well.' His fellows will always remember that.

"I may be allowed to recall one or two interesting recollections of the
Colonel. One is the speech he delivered when the Maritzburg Club dined
him and his officers. Both he and General Symons spoke. Neither man was
an orator, and yet each was more convincing than many orators, speaking
simple, soldierly, purposeful words, words whose simplicity drove them
home. Almost a week before the battle I saw the Colonel arranging his
camp. He had taken off his tunic and helmet, and did twice as much
direction as any other officer, and he worked as hard as any of the men.
It was then, when I saw his vigour in full activity, that I realised his
wonderful capacity for work--a capacity of which I had often heard, but
which I had not been able to comprehend before.

"The last time I saw him was at the outspan before the battle began. He
came to a group of us and gave one or two orders in such pleasant words
that one knew that to obey him must in itself be a real delight. Then he
sat down and gossiped with us, first about his luck in the morning, when
a shell that hit the ground between his horse's feet had failed to
burst, and afterwards about luck in general. He advised the officers to
tell their men to sleep while they could, and then he said, 'Now I'll go
and get half-an-hour's sleep myself.' But at that moment an aide-de-camp
came saying that General French wanted to see him. When the Colonel
returned, it was to order his regiment to saddle up and prepare to
mount. In half-an-hour he was leading the attack on the first kopje.

"I like to think that before death smote him he knew that the battle was
won, and that his fellows had done well, as he expected that they would,
as he had helped them to do by example and generous encouragement."

A private of the Gordon Highlanders, in a letter dated Ladysmith,
November 2, gave a vivid account of the charge of the Gordons at
Elandslaagte, and described how Lieutenant-Colonel Dick-Cunyngham was
wounded when leading his men, and that officer's chagrin at his being
rendered impotent. He said: "We charged three times with the bayonet,
and my gun was covered with whiskers and blood, though I don't remember
striking anybody, but I was nearly mad with excitement, shells bursting
and bullets whizzing round like hail. I was close behind the commanding
officer when he was wounded. He was shot and had to sit down, but he
cheered on his men. 'Forward, Gordons,' he cried, 'the world is looking
at you. Brave lads, give it to the beggars, exterminate the
vermin--charge.' He then started crying because he could no longer lead
his battalion, and he would not retire from the field until the day was
won. He is a fine man to lead a battalion--as brave as a lion. The
Gordons were the last line, and we raced through the Manchesters and the
Devons and the Light Horse Volunteers, all charging together."

Here we have a proof how much the morale of soldiers may be influenced
by their immediate chief.

The _Natal Advertiser_ in its account of the final scene said:--

"By a quarter past six the Devonshire Regiment, the Gordon Highlanders,
and the Manchester Regiment, with the Imperial Light Horse, were in a
position to storm the Boer camp from the enemy's front and left flank,
and the signal for the bayonet charge was sounded. Then was witnessed
one of the most splendid pieces of storming imaginable, the Devons
taking the lead, closely followed by the Gordons, the Manchesters, and
the Light Horse, in the face of a tremendous, killing fire, the rattle
and roar of which betokened frightful carnage.... A bugler boy of the
5th Lancers shot three Boers with his revolver. He was afterwards
carried round the camp amid cheers."

So many acts of gallantry were performed that they cannot all be
related. It is impossible, however, to allow the wondrous pluck of
Sergeant Kenneth M'Leod to go unrecorded. During the charge this gallant
Scot was twice struck, once in the arm and once in the side. He however
continued to pipe and advance with the Gordons to their final rush.
Presently came more bullets, smashing his drones, his chanter, and his
windbag, whereupon the splendid fellow had to give in.

Perhaps the most heart-rending period was that following the last gleam
of daylight, when the Medical Staff went forth to do their melancholy
duty. All were armed with lanterns, which, shining like pale glow-worms,
made the dense gloom around more impenetrable still. Yet, groping and
shivering through the black horror of the night, they patiently pursued
their ghastly task with zeal that was truly magnificent. Dead, dying,
wounded, were dotted all over the veldt. There, bearded old Boers, boys,
Britons in their prime, were indiscriminately counted, collected,
tended, the Field Hospital men and Indian stretcher-bearers working
incessantly and ungrudgingly till dawn. Gruesome and heart-rending were
the sights and scenes around the camp-fires when such wounded as could
crawl dragged themselves towards their comrades. Pitiable the faces of
the survivors as news came in of gallant hearts that had ceased to beat.
A pathetic incident was witnessed in the grey gloom of the small hours.
One of the bearers chanced on an ancient hoary-headed Boer, who was
lying behind a rock supporting himself on his elbows. The bearer
approached warily, as many of the enemy were known to have turned on
those who went to their succour. This man, however, was too weak from
loss of blood to attempt to raise his rifle. Between his dying gasps he
begged a favour--would some one find his son, a boy of thirteen, who had
been fighting by his side when he fell. The request was obeyed. The
little lad, stone-dead, was discovered. He was placed in the failing
arms of his father. The unhappy old fellow clasped the clay-cold form,
and hugged it despairingly to himself, and then, merciful Providence
pitied him in his misery--his stricken spirit went out to join his son.

An officer who was wounded, and who spent the night in the terrible
scene, thus described his own awful experiences: "I lay where I fell for
about three-quarters of an hour, when a doctor came and put a
field-dressing on my wound, gave me some brandy, put my helmet under my
head as a pillow, covered me with a Boer blanket which he had taken from
a dead man, and then went to look after some other poor beggar. I shall
never forget the horrors of that night as long as I live. In addition to
the agony which my wound gave me, I had two sharp stones running into my
back; I was soaked to the skin and bitterly cold, but had an awful
thirst; the torrents of rain never stopped. On one side of me was a
Gordon Highlander in raving delirium, and on the other a Boer who had
his leg shattered by a shell, and who gave vent to the most
heart-rending cries and groans. War is a funny game, and no one can
realise what its grim horrors are till they see it in all its barbarous
reality. I lay out in the rain the whole of the night, and at daybreak
was put into a doolie by a doctor, and some natives carried me down to
the station. The ground was awfully rough, and they dropped me twice; I
fainted both times. I was sent down to Ladysmith in the hospital train;
from the station I was conveyed to the chapel (officers' hospital) in a
bullock-cart, the jolting of which made me faint again. I was the last
officer taken in. I was then put to bed, and my wound was dressed just
seventeen hours after I was hit. They then gave me some beef-tea, which
was the first food I had had for twenty-seven hours."

The amazing spirit of chivalry that animated all classes, general
officers, medical officers, chaplains, and even stretcher-bearers, in
this campaign has been the subject of much comment. It was thought that
modernity had rendered effete some of the sons of Great Britain, and the
war, if it should have done no other good, has served to prove that
times may have changed, but not the tough and dauntless character of the
men who have made the Empire what it is.

The following, from a Congregational minister of Durban, who had
volunteered to go to the front as honorary chaplain to the Natal Mounted
Rifles, in which corps many of his congregation enrolled, is of immense
interest. It gives us an insight into the inner core of valour--the
valour of those who, unarmed, share the dangers without the
intoxications of the fight. It runs:--

     "The Lancers, who were mistaken by the Boers in the growing
     darkness for a body of their own men, fell upon them and turned
     a rout into a wild flight. Commander Schiel was very furious at
     losing the battle, and said he would like to kill every man,
     woman, and child in Natal. In this he was the exception to the
     rule, for the captives whom we liberated said the Boers had
     treated them with great kindness. After the battle Dr.
     Bonnybrook and I spent the night on the field of battle, and
     also followed the retreating Boers for a distance of six or
     seven miles, searching for and tending the wounded and dying.
     In the early hours of the morning we came to a Boer
     field-hospital, and shouting out, 'Doctor and Predicant,' we
     entered and rested, and slept there awhile. By daybreak we were
     out again. About six miles from camp Dr. Bonnybrook rode up to
     twenty-five mounted and armed Boers, and told them they were
     his prisoners. Ordering two to take the weapons of their
     comrades, he marched them into camp prisoners. For an unarmed
     man to accomplish alone, this was an exceedingly brave thing to
     do. After the battle one of the captured held up his gun and
     said, 'Look through this. I have not fired a shot. I am a
     Britisher. They forced me to come.'"

Among other heroes of Elandslaagte was Lieutenant Meiklejohn of the
Gordon Highlanders. This young officer, one of the "Dargai boys," helped
the charge in an endeavour to embarrass the Boer flank. Supported by a
party of Gordons, so runs the narrative, Meiklejohn waved his sword and
cried out to his party hastily gathered round him. But the Boer ranks
were alert, and poured in a deadly fire on the gallant band. Lieutenant
Meiklejohn received three bullets through his upper right arm, one
through the right forearm, a finger blown away, a bullet through the
left thigh, two bullets through the helmet, a "snick" in the neck, while
his sword and scabbard were literally shot to pieces. He has by now lost
his right arm, but, happily, being left-handed, it is hoped he may
remain in the profession he is so well calculated to adorn.

A private soldier in the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders recounted an
extraordinary personal experience. He said:--

     "We, the Devons, Imperial Light Horse, and others, had a fight
     at Elandslaagte with the Boers, and I never enjoyed myself so
     much before. You first have to get christened to fire, and then
     you think nothing of the shells bursting about you, and the
     bullets which go whistling past like bees. We went forward by
     fifty-yard rushes, and at every rush you could hear a groan,
     and down would go one of our comrades, either killed or
     wounded, poor chap. When we were miles from the enemy they
     opened fire on us with shell, and as we were going along in
     mass, one of the shells burst on the left of the company, and
     one of our men of my section--Bobby Hall--got shot dead with a
     piece of the shell going straight through his head. That was
     what made more than one wish to turn and run. But what would
     Britain do if her soldiers ran from the enemy? At last we got
     to where we could get a shot at the Boers with our rifles, and
     you may bet we gave them more than one, as perhaps the papers
     have told you. I got through the rifle-fire down to the bayonet
     charge on the hillside, when I felt a sting in the left arm,
     and looking down, found I was shot in the wrist. In changing my
     position I got shot in the centre of the forehead. The bullet
     did not go straight through. It glanced off my nose-bone, and
     came out above my right temple.... On looking round, I was just
     in time to see the blood squirt from the first wound. I shifted
     my position in quick time, for I did not want another from the
     same rifle. I lay still after doing this for a while, when the
     thought came to me to get my wrist bandaged and try to shoot
     again. On changing my position I got a bullet right in the
     'napper.' I was out of action then, for all was dark. I heard
     the officer I was going to get the bandages from say, 'Poor
     chap! he's gone.' But no, I am still kicking."


                        THE RETREAT FROM DUNDEE

Owing to the Boers having posted their 15-centimetre gun on the Impati
for the purpose of shelling the camp and town, the troops and
inhabitants removed to a position some three miles south of Dundee
village. The movement was fraught with many discomforts. Rain fell in
torrents, making the roads a mass of slush and enveloping everything in
a thick mist, while provisions, which had been hastily gathered
together, were scarce. On the following day, Sunday, an attempt was made
to return to camp, but the Boer firing continued so active that the
project had to be abandoned. Thereupon, on Sunday night the whole
column, having first loaded four days' supplies from their old camp and
set there lighted candles sufficient to cause such an illumination as
would suggest to the Boers an idea of occupation, quietly stole away. No
one exactly knew their destination. At nine of the clock the Army
Service Corps waggons moved to the camp, were loaded, and by midnight
commenced rumbling along in the damp obscurity. The advance column,
after passing through Dundee, where it was joined by transport and
rearguard, proceeded along the Helpmakaar road on the way to
Ladysmith.

[Illustration: MAJOR-GENERAL SIR W. PENN SYMONS, K.C.B.

Photo by R. Stanley & Co., London.]

On Monday afternoon the first halt was called, but the rest was of short
duration, for at ten the column was again plodding along through the
miry roads in hourly dread lest the whole scheme should be spoilt, and
the Boers suddenly arrest the course of the two-mile-long column.

And they had indeed good reason for alarm. They were forced to plod
through a narrow pass in the Biggarsberg range of mountains, so narrow
indeed that a hundred Boers might have effectually barred their way.
Here, through this perilous black cylinder of the hills, they marched at
dead of night. It took them between the hours of half-past eleven till
three, stumbling and squelching in the mire, and knowing that should the
enemy appear, should they but shoot one of the oxen of the leading
waggon of the convoy, and thus block the cramped defile, all chance of
getting safely through to Ladysmith would be at an end. This was by no
means a happy reflection to fill men's minds in the dripping, almost
palpable, darkness of the night, and the resolute spirit of the gallant
fellows who unmurmuringly stowed away all personal wretchedness and
stuck manfully to their grim duty is for ever to be marvelled at and
admired. Fortunately the Dutchmen, "slim" as they were, had not counted
on the possibility of this march being executed at all, still less of
its being executed in pitch darkness. They were caught napping, and the
party, who had left kit, provisions (except for the four days), and
everything behind them, who were now drenched to the skin in the only
clothes they possessed, at last reached Sunday River in safety.

Here they eagerly awaited an escort of the 5th Lancers, which had been
detached by Sir George White from Ladysmith to meet them. These, to the
great joy of the worn-out travellers, appeared on Wednesday afternoon.
On that evening the column again started off for a last long wearisome
tramp, the men, who had not been out of their clothes for a week, being
now ready to drop from sleeplessness and exhaustion. But valiantly they
held on. Not a word, not a grumble. All had confidence in General Yule
and his officers, who shared with the men every hardship and every
fatigue; each realised his individual duty to make the very best of a
very bad job, and pluckily kept heart till the last moment. Torrents of
rain fell, making the night into one vast immensity of slough and pool,
but the stumbling, straining left, right, left, right, of the retreating
men continued ceaselessly through the weary hours. On Thursday morning,
the 26th, to their intense relief, they found themselves at last in the
long-looked-for camp at Ladysmith.

The excitement of arrival was almost too much for the exhausted,
fainting troops, but the cheers that went up from a thousand throats
brought light to their sleep-starved eyes and warmth to their chilled
frames. There was rest at last--rest and safety, food and warm covering,
though of a more practical than artistic kind. The Devons--who had just
come grandly through the fight at Elandslaagte and looted the Boer camp
of innumerable saleable odds and ends--out of their newly-gained wealth
"stood treat." In the joy of their hearts each of the men subscribed
sixpence, and the gallant Dublin Fusiliers, the heroes of Glencoe, who,
all unwashed and unshorn, now looked like chimney-sweeps rather than the
warriors they were, were invited to a fine "square meal." It is
difficult to imagine the condition of those battered braves after their
week of hardship, fighting, and privation, and sticklers for etiquette
would have been shocked at the manners and customs enforced by warlike
conditions. One who dined with the Dundee column gave the following
graphic description of the luxurious repast:--

"To begin with, there was no sort of furniture either in the messroom or
the anteroom. If you wanted to sit down, you did so on the floor. We
each got hold of a large tin mug, and dipped it into a large tin
saucepan of soup and drank it, spoons not existing. A large lump of salt
was passed round, and every one broke off a piece with his fingers. Next
you clawed hold of a piece of bread and a chunk of tongue, and gnawed
first one and then the other--knives and forks there were none. This
finished the dinner. Add to this two or three tallow-candles stuck on a
cocoa tin, and the fact that none of the officers had shaved, or had had
their clothes off for a week, and had walked some forty-five miles
through rivers and mud, and you will have some idea of how the officers'
mess of one of the smartest of Her Majesty's foot regiments do for
themselves in time of war. Not a murmur or complaint was to be heard."

Their state must certainly have been pitiable, for it will be remembered
that on the retirement from Dundee rations for four days only were
loaded, and provisions for two months, besides all officers' and men's
kit and hospital equipment, were left behind.

And, sad to say, so also were the wounded. It was necessary for their
future well-being to desert them. The men who had so gloriously led to
victory now found themselves stranded and in a strange position--the
vanquishers at the mercy of the vanquished! Most melancholy of all must
have been the plight of those unhappy sufferers when they first learnt
that their comrades were marching farther and farther away, and that
they, in all their helplessness, must be left lonely--unloved, and
perhaps untended--in charge of the enemy. One dares not think of the
agonies of those sad souls--the nation's invalids--bereft of kindly
words and kindred smiles; one cannot linger without a sense of
emasculating weakness on the sad side-picture of battle that, in its
dumb wretchedness, seems so much more paralysing than the active horror
of facing shot and shell in company with glorious comrades in arms. Let
us hope there was some one to whisper to them, to persuade them that all
was for the best; that the safety of their sick selves and their sound
mates depended on this retreat, this wondrous retreat which, when the
tale of the war in its entirety shall be told, will shine like a
dazzling light among records whose brilliancy in the history of British
achievements cannot be excelled. Perhaps, too, they had faith to inspire
them with the certainty that all that they had suffered in that dark
hour for their country and for the weal of their fellows, would be
remembered to their glory in the good times to come.

While the retreat was going forward Glencoe's gallant hero was breathing
his last. After hopelessly lingering for three days, General Sir W. Penn
Symons passed away. He expired in the hands of the enemy at Dundee
hospital on Monday the 23rd of October. The next day he was quietly
buried with profound signs of mourning.


                       SIR W. PENN SYMONS--GLENCOE

By the death of Major-General Sir William Penn Symons, the British army
lost a brilliant and distinguished soldier, and a man of great valour
and courage. He came of a Cornish family, the founder of which was a
Norman knight who came over with William the Conqueror. The eldest son
of the late William Symons, Recorder of Saltash, he was born in 1843,
and in 1863 joined the South Wales Borderers--the old 24th Regiment. He
became lieutenant in 1866, captain in 1878, major in 1881,
lieutenant-colonel in 1886, and colonel in 1887.

His first experience of active service was in 1877, when the Borderers
took the field against the Galekas. In the Zulu War of 1879 he served
with distinction, but was not present at the battle of Isandlwana, being
away from his regiment on special duty. In 1885 he served as
Deputy-Assistant-Adjutant and Quarter-Master-General, organising and
commanding the Mounted Infantry in the Burmese Expedition. Being
honourably mentioned in dispatches for his services with the Chin Field
Force, he received a brevet-colonelcy. In 1889-90 he was given a brigade
in the Chin-Lusha Expedition, was again mentioned in despatches, made a
C.B., and received the thanks of the Government of India. He commanded a
brigade of the Waziristan Field Force in 1894-95 with like distinction,
but he will best be remembered in connection with the campaign on the
North-West Frontier of India in 1897-98, after which he was made a
K.C.B. In 1898 he gave up his appointment in India and took command of
the British troops in Natal.

He was one of the best shots in the army, his military hobby in fact
being musketry, though he was also a great authority on the subject of
mounted infantry. He was a keen sportsman, an excellent linguist. He was
highly respected by all who knew him. As an evidence of how he was
regarded by his brother officers, one may quote from the telegram which
was sent from Sir G. White to the War Office on the morrow of the battle
of Glencoe. The communication said: "The important success is due to his
great courage, fine generalship, and gallant example, and the confidence
he gave to the troops under him."

Mr. Winston Spencer Churchill's remarks about him, in a letter to the
_Morning Post_, show how fully he was appreciated for his social as well
as for his military qualities.

"So Sir Penn Symons is killed! Well, no one would have laid down his
life more gladly in such a cause. Twenty years ago the merest chance
saved him from the massacre at Isandhlwana, and Death promoted him in an
afternoon from subaltern to senior captain. Thenceforward his rise was
rapid. He commanded the First Division of the Tirah Expeditionary Force
among the mountains with prudent skill. His brigades had no misfortunes;
his rearguards came safely into camp. In the spring of 1898, when the
army lay around Fort Jumrood, looking forward to a fresh campaign, I
used often to meet him. Every one talked of Symons, of his energy, of
his jokes, of his enthusiasm. It was Symons who had built a racecourse
on the stony plain; who had organised the Jumrood Spring Meeting; who
won the principal event himself, to the delight of the private soldiers,
with whom he was intensely popular; who, moreover, was to be first and
foremost if the war with the tribes broke out again; and who was
entrusted with much of the negotiations with their _jirgas_. Dinner with
Symons in the mud tower of Jumrood Fort was an experience. The memory of
many tales of sport and war remains. At the end the General would drink
the old Peninsular toasts: 'Our Men,' 'Our Women,' 'Our Religions,' 'Our
Swords,' 'Ourselves,' 'Sweethearts and Wives,' and 'Absent Friends'--one
for every night in the week. The night I dined it was 'Our Men.' May the
State in her necessities find others like him!"


                       THE BATTLE OF REITFONTEIN

On the morning of the 23rd, thirty men of the 18th Hussars rode into
camp at Ladysmith, after having had some exciting adventures. The facts
were these. On the arrival at Glencoe camp of the news of the Boer
defeat at Elandslaagte, General Yule had detached a force to cut off the
flying Boers. Unfortunately, the Hussars who were sent out for this
purpose were themselves cut off, but at last, with the enemy at their
heels, succeeded in fighting their way down a dangerous pass, and
eventually effecting their escape. This, too, without the loss of a man!

To return to the great retreat. While General Yule was falling back to
effect a junction with General White, the latter officer conceived a
brilliant plan to ensure the safety of the returning force. He was aware
that Yule's column was marching _via_ the Helpmakaar road, Beith, and
the Waschbank and Sunday River Valleys, and therefore, to cover the
movement, he sent out a strong force to the west of the road. The force
consisted of the 21st, 42nd, and 53rd Field Batteries, 1st Devons, 1st
Liverpools, 1st Gloucesters, 2nd King's Royal Rifles (just arrived from
Maritzburg), 19th Hussars, 5th Lancers, Natal Carabiniers, Border
Mounted Rifles, and Imperial Light Horse.

The enemy was already strongly posted on the kopjes a mile and a half
west of the railway and two miles south-east of Modder Spruit station,
in all, some seven miles from Ladysmith. It was necessary, therefore, to
keep him well occupied, and divert his attention from the Dundee column.
On both sides firing soon commenced, but our guns were promptly
silenced. Then the British took up a position three-quarters of a mile
west of the railway, and for some twenty minutes kept up a heavy
artillery fire supplemented by sharp volleys from the infantry. Before
long the kopjes were cleared and the object of the British attack
accomplished. The main body of the Boers retired in the direction of
Besters, a point to the south of Ladysmith, where, in the circumstances,
it was more advisable for them to be. In this battle a great deal of
sharpshooting, especially at officers, took place on the part of the
foe, who also resorted to their old tactics of discharging their guns
and running away, again discharging them and again running--a trick they
had been mightily fond of in their dealings with the Zulus, and which
was calculated to tire out the fleetest antagonists. Colonel Wilford of
the 1st Gloucester Regiment was mortally wounded. Sir George White had a
narrow escape, as the Boers turned their artillery on the Staff, and
their first shell came screaming within fifteen yards of the General.
Captain Douglas, 42nd Battery, had also a marvellous escape, his horse
having been wounded and his haversack ripped open by a splinter. In this
smart engagement, as Sir George White in his official statement
declared, "Our side confined its efforts to occupying the enemy and
hitting him hard enough to prevent his taking action against General
Yule's column." The manoeuvre, as we know, was eminently successful,
but was not executed without cost to those who assisted in it. The
following was the official list of the officers killed and wounded:--

     1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment.--Killed:
     Lieutenant-Colonel and Colonel Edmund Percival Wilford. 42nd
     Battery Field Artillery.--Wounded: Lieutenant S. W. Douglas,
     shell-graze of abdomen, slight. 53rd Battery Field
     Artillery.--Major Anthony J. Abdy, shell-graze of right knee,
     slight; Lieutenant Arthur Montague Perreau, bullet wound, right
     leg, severe; Lieutenant George Herbert Stobart (from 34th
     Battery), bullet wound, finger, slight. 19th Hussars.--2nd
     Lieutenant A. Holford, bullet wound, slight. 1st Battalion
     Gloucestershire Regiment.--Lieutenant Carlos Joseph Hickie,
     slightly.

The Boers, triumphant, entered Dundee about the same time as General
Yule and his worn-out troops were being enthusiastically greeted in
Ladysmith. They attacked the Dundee Town Guard, putting it to flight,
and turned many civilians out of their houses. Later, they mounted two
big guns at Intintanyone, some 4500 yards from the Ladysmith camp, and
their energies pointed to further activities.


                                LADYSMITH

Here it may be as well to review the geographical position of this now
famous place. Ladysmith, as a position for purposes of defence, is very
badly situated. It lies in the cup of the hills, and stony eminences
command it almost in a circle. Towards the north is Pepworth's Ridge, a
flat-headed hill fringed at the base with mimosa bushes. North-east is
Lombard's Kop, which is flanked by a family of smaller kopjes. South of
this hill and east of Ladysmith is a table-headed hill called Umbulwana.
South of this eminence runs the railway through the smaller stations of
Nelthorpe and Pieters towards Colenso. To the west of Pepworth's Ridge
is Surprise Hill, and other irregular hills which rise from four to five
hundred feet on all sides. The place is watered by the Klip River, which
enters the valley between the hills on the west, twists gracefully in
front of the town, and turns away among the eastern hills before making
its way to the south. The position, commanded as it was on every hand,
was not an enviable one, but the glorious fellows who had fought in two
brilliant engagements were in no wise disconcerted.

[Illustration: OFFICER OF THE NINTH LANCERS.

Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

Yet all were on the alert, for the Boers had now closed in round the
town, and an engagement was hourly expected. A little desultory fighting
took place, but when the British troops advanced, those of the Orange
Free State at once retired towards the border. The town, however, was
somewhat harassed for want of water, owing to the Boers having cut off
the main pipes. The inconvenience was merely temporary, as the Klip
River, which runs through the main position, was fairly pure, and
there were wells which could be made serviceable. A captive balloon was
inflated by the Royal Engineers, and was used for the purpose of making
observations, much to the annoyance of the Dutchmen, who had securely
perched themselves at points of vantage on the surrounding hills. They
were at this time on the north and east, having laagered south-east of
Modder Spruit and Vlaak Plaats, some seven miles from Ladysmith, and
were preparing to arrange a closely-linked chain of earthworks that
should effectually surround the garrison. An exchange of shots now and
then, however, was all that took place for a while between the
contending parties, though both sides were evidently gathering
themselves together for some definite move. The situation was thus
described by a captive in Ladysmith:--

"Saturday and Sunday have passed without any demonstration being made by
the enemy. The camp has again assumed its condition of readiness and
watchfulness. On Saturday afternoon it was rumoured that General
Joubert, with the commando encamped at Sunday River, was experiencing
difficulty in transporting the 40-pounders across the spruit, which was
swollen after the heavy rains. Small parties of Boers are constantly on
the alert, and are harassing the British outposts.

"Scarcely a day passes without the outlying pickets being fired upon.
The latest reports say that the enemy are gathered in considerable force
on Dewdrop Farm.

"Great excitement has been caused in the Artillery camp by the capture
of a supposed spy, who was caught in the act of tampering with the guns.
The man had eluded the vigilance of the sentry, and had opened the
breech of one of the 15-pounders when he was noticed. He was promptly
arrested. When asked what he was doing, he said he was a lieutenant in
the 18th Battery. Questioned further, he contradicted himself, and said
that it was quite by accident that he opened the breech. He admitted
that he belonged to Johannesburg. He was marched off in custody of the
guard. The sequel of the story has not been made public.

"No camp followers are allowed, and all here have been ordered to leave.
The enemy are now undoubtedly closing round Ladysmith. A large commando
is reported to be on the Helpmakaar road, and a large camp has been
formed between the Harrismith Railway Bridge and Potgieter's Farm. The
camp on Dewdrop Farm extends for four miles. The enemy have an
exceptional number of waggons. The Boer patrols are very venturesome;
they have approached within three and a half miles of the town, and one
party actually removed carcasses ready dressed for consumption from
within the slaughtering lines."

The prospect was far from cheering, particularly as Sir George White was
well aware that his field-guns were ineffective against the powerful
guns of position which the enemy were handling with unpleasant
dexterity. At this critical period the united forces of Ladysmith and
Glencoe only amounted to some 10,000 men, more than half of whom were
infantry. The General, however, put the best face he could on the
matter, telegraphed home for big guns--and waited!

General Joubert now expressed his opinions on the causes of the war. His
ideas, published in the German journals, were of interest as showing the
sentiments of the opposite camp:--

     "It was evident to our Government after the Jameson raid, that
     Great Britain would be forced in time by various sordid
     elements into a war of extermination with the Boers. It was
     equally clear that this danger could only be averted by
     armaments on a most extensive scale. We were conscious that the
     impending war of annihilation would incur the sharpest
     condemnation on the part of the other European Powers, but
     history had taught us that not one of these Powers would be
     roused to intervene in our favour. In these circumstances we
     had to rely on our own strength.

     "By indefatigable zeal and heavy sacrifices to augment our
     forces, and yet to secrete them from the observation of the
     British--these were the objects of our noblest exertion. Well,
     we succeeded, and hoodwinked the British. Spies were permitted
     to obtain glimpses of our obsolete artillery, but until the war
     was on the point of breaking out they had no suspicion of the
     formidable extent of our stores of modern material.

     "We counted on the unreliability of the British announcements
     concerning their own preparedness, and attended as little to
     their cries of 'To Pretoria!' as did the Germans in 1870 to the
     Parisian boasters who shouted 'À Berlin!' Without completely
     denuding her colonies of troops, Great Britain cannot possibly
     despatch more than about 85,000 men to South Africa. Of this
     imposing force, only half will be available for the chief
     battles. It may be possible for Great Britain to effect the
     landing in various places of these troops by the middle of
     December. I estimate, however, that the losses in prisoners,
     killed, sick, and wounded will amount in the meantime to some
     10,000. There will thus remain 75,000 men.

     "Even should we fail to prevent the junction of the British
     troops under Sir Redvers Buller and be compelled to retreat,
     the British army would become from natural causes so
     debilitated that it would represent a force for operative
     purposes not exceeding 35,000. The remainder would have to be
     employed in protecting lines of communication extending some
     700 miles.

     "Our lines of depôts, on the contrary, are in home territory.
     They are constructed at regular distances in three directions,
     and barely 500 men are necessary to cover them.
     Excellently-organised communications have been established
     between them, and if any one of them be seriously threatened,
     the stores--if rescue be impossible--will be destroyed.

     "Moreover, defensive warfare--to which we need not think,
     however, of resorting for a long time to come--is fraught with
     far greater advantages to us than offensive operations. With a
     change of _terrain_ there will be a change of tactics. In Natal
     and the south we have to deal with unfamiliar conditions. On
     the high plains of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State we
     shall be at home, and the British will meet opposition from us
     and from Nature at every step of the way, and at all times be
     prepared for action on two or three fronts. In this way will be
     developed a guerilla warfare of a most inconceivably bloody
     character, such as the British will be unable to endure for
     more than a few months."

General Joubert then protested that the Boers were fighting merely for
the freedom of their own "narrower" Fatherland, and not with a view to
the destruction of British preponderancy in South Africa. He
acknowledged the bravery of the British soldiers, but imagined that
hardships and deprivations would so demoralise them that they would be
unable to hold out against an enemy superior in numbers.

     "In these circumstances," he continued, "do not accuse me of
     boasting when I frankly say that victory will be ours. Every
     one of us is filled with the same conviction and unshakeable
     faith in God, that He will remain as true to us in this as in
     former wars, and that He will not allow the blood shed and to
     be shed in this struggle, that will probably last yet a year,
     to extinguish us and our children."


                      THE BATTLE OF LOMBARD'S KOP

Towards the end of October Sir George White decided that something must
be done to protect his line of communication with the south. The Boers
were spreading out in crescent form and drawing gradually nearer to the
town. On the north were troops commanded by General Joubert. On the west
was a Free State commando, and on the east was General Lucas Meyer, who
owed us a grudge after the events of Talana Hill. Reinforced by troops
from General Erasmus, he now desired to press towards the railway with a
view to seizing it at some point south of the town. It was necessary at
all costs to put a stop to this scheme. Colonel Ian Hamilton with an
Infantry Brigade was therefore despatched on the 27th to Lombard's Kop,
a hill some five miles east of Ladysmith. There he bivouacked for the
night, with a view to clearing the enemy out at the point of the bayonet
on the morrow. He never brought his plan into execution, however, for
Sir George White, having been informed of the size of Meyer's force,
ordered him to fall back on the town. On Sunday the 29th it was
discovered that the Boers were intrenched in lines that extended over
twenty miles, while "Long Tom," their six-inch gun, was perched on
Pepworth Hill, its big ominous muzzle being situated some 7500 yards to
the north of Ladysmith. In addition to this formidable weapon,
field-guns with a range of some 8000 yards were posted about in
well-concealed positions. For the protection of our line of
communication it was necessary that the enemy, though three times as
strong as the British force, should be dispersed, and that night, at
half-past ten o'clock, Colonel Hamilton again set out with three
battalions, the Devons, the Gordons, the Manchesters, and a Brigade
Division of Artillery. The night was dark but clear, and the troops
marched along the Newcastle Road to Limit Hill, a strong kopje some
three miles north of Ladysmith, and half-way between that town and
Pepworth Hill. There they bivouacked for the night. While this party was
moving as described, a small force under Colonel Carleton, composed of
four and a half companies of the Gloucestershire Regiment and six
companies of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and No. 10 Mountain Battery, was
moving towards Nicholson's Nek with a view of seizing it. But of Colonel
Carleton's column anon.

[Illustration: MAP OF LADYSMITH AND SURROUNDING HEIGHTS]

On Colonel Ian Hamilton's right flank, towards Lombard's Kop, was
Colonel Grimwood, with the 1st and 2nd King's Royal Rifles, the
Liverpools, Leicesters, and Dublin Fusiliers, three Field-Batteries, and
the Natal Volunteer Artillery. On the extreme right, when day broke, was
General French with a Cavalry Brigade and some volunteers. The idea was,
that while Colonel Grimwood was shelling the Boer position to the north
of Lombard's Kop, General French should prevent any attempt to turn his
right; the enemy's artillery silenced, Colonel Grimwood was to drive him
along the ridge running to Pepworth, and, under cover of the British
guns, press the Boers towards their centre. Meanwhile our centre, under
Colonel Hamilton, was to attack a hill where the enemy was in force,
rout him and join in the general scheme, while Colonel Carleton
protected the centre from a flank movement. Unfortunately "the best laid
schemes o' mice and men gang aft agley," and General White's admirable
scheme failed, as we shall learn. An artillery duel began operations,
and this continued for two long hours, while the warm spring morning
developed, and the Boers, who had been warned of our plans and had
changed their position during the night, were laughing in their sleeves
at the capital surprise they had prepared. They had drawn off their men
from the point that was to have been the objective of our centre, and
extending and reinforcing their left, were calmly waiting our attack.
The artillery duel continued till seven o'clock, our batteries with
great difficulty searching out the enemy's position. Colonel Grimwood,
with two battalions of the King's Royal Rifles, held the kopjes and
ridges in front of Farquhar's Farm, while mounted infantry and troopers
of the 18th Hussars, supported by the Liverpools and Leicesters, were
posted on the hills on the right. Behind them came the artillery, who
directed their fire at the hill above the farm, where the enemy was
supposed to be intrenched.

[Illustration: BEFORE LADYSMITH--HORSE ARTILLERY GALLOPING TO TAKE UP A
NEW POSITION.

Drawn by R. Caton Woodville.]

The Boers, who in great hordes had streamed from the hills like a
mountain torrent and concealed themselves in the surrounding ridges, now
made all Colonel Grimwood's plans impossible. He seemed, indeed, in
danger of being annihilated by sheer force of superior numbers, when
troops from the centre were pushed forward to his support. A smart
engagement ensued, the Boers making energetic efforts to penetrate the
line between the Infantry and Artillery, while the 53rd Battery changed
front to meet the attack and the 5th Lancers struggled to form up on the
left of the rifle regiments. But the enemy's automatic quick-firing gun
vomited forth its death-dealing steel with such persistence that the
cavalry was forced to retire at a gallop. The gunners again came to the
rescue, and six field-batteries, spread over in a semicircular front of
three-quarters of a mile, sent their shrapnel over the heads of the
infantry to crash on the ridges occupied by the Boers.

At this critical moment, when the turmoil of warfare was at its
hottest, and when our gallant troops were struggling unsuccessfully to
hold their own against an overwhelming number of the enemy, a message
came from Sir George White to retire. Some sort of a panic had taken
place in the town, owing partly to the fact that the Boers were
threatening it from another quarter, partly to the persistent shelling
of "Long Tom," which, as some one described, was like a voluble virago,
determined to have the last word! All efforts to silence the horrible
weapon had failed, and for some three or four hours it had sent its
eighty-four-pound shells shrieking into the town. There was no resource
but to fall back, which was done to the appalling detonations of the
Boer guns all going at once, while "Long Tom," like some prominent
solo-singer, dominated the whole clamouring orchestra. To silence him
and to cover the retreat, a Lieutenant of the _Powerful_, in charge of a
gun drawn by a team of oxen, went out on the road between Limit Hill and
Ladysmith. Before the gun could be got in position, however, "Long Tom"
had spotted it--barked at it--overturned it, and killed several of the
oxen. But his triumph was short-lived. Another rival performer had come
on the scene, namely, the twelve-and-a-half-pounder of the Naval
Brigade. It came, saw, and conquered, knocking out "Long Tom" at the
fourth shot!

[Illustration: TYPES OF ARMS--THE CREUSOT QUICK-FIRING FIELD GUN, OR
"LONG TOM"]

The whole action of the Naval Brigade reads like a fairy story.
Ladysmith on the point of exhaustion, with all its troops engaged and no
big guns wherewith to meet the terrific assaults of the six-inch cannon
on Pepworth Hill, was almost in despair. At the eleventh hour up came
the Naval Brigade under Captain the Hon. Hedworth Lambton of H.M.S.
_Powerful_ with 280 Bluejackets, two 4.7 guns, and four
twelve-and-a-half-pounders. Then the affair was done. It was just one,
two, three, and away--for the fourth splendidly-directed shot saved the
situation.

In this engagement great feats of daring were accomplished, feats which
have now become so general that we have almost ceased to gasp in wonder
at the heroism of the "mere man" of the nineteenth century. When the
regiments were forced to retire from the death-laden region of Lombard's
Kop, Major Abdy of the 53rd Battery R.A., dashing across the plain under
a storm of shells from a quick-firing gun, brought his battery between
the enemy and the straggling mass of retreating soldiers. Horse and man
rolled over, but the fire of the 53rd never slackened till the imminence
of danger was past. The correspondent of the _Standard_, who was
present, said: "When the moment came for the battery to fall back, the
limber of one of the guns had been smashed and five horses in one team
had been killed. Captain Thwaites sent back for another team and waggon
limber, and brought back the disabled gun under a concentrated fire from
the enemy, who were not more than four hundred yards distant. Lieutenant
Higgins, of the same battery, also distinguished himself for gallantry.
One of the guns was overturned in a donga. In the face of a close and
heavy fire the Lieutenant succeeded in righting the gun and bringing it
into a place of safety."

The following is a list of killed and wounded among the officers who
were engaged on Lombard's Kop:--

     13th Field Battery, R.A.--Major John Dawkins, wounded,
     slightly. 42nd Field Battery.--Lieutenant James Taylor
     M'Dougall, killed. 69th Field Battery.--Lieutenant Harold
     Belcher, bullet wound, forearm, severely. 1st Battalion King's
     Royal Rifles.--Major W. T. Myers (7th Battalion), Lieutenant H.
     S. Marsden, and Lieutenant T. L. Forster, killed; Lieutenant H.
     C. Johnson, bullet wound in shoulder, severely. 2nd Battalion
     King's Royal Rifles.--Major H. Buchanan Riddell, bullet wound,
     abdomen, severe. 1st Battalion Gloucestershire
     Regiment.--Captain Willcock, bullet wound, shoulder and wrist;
     Captain Bertram Fyffe, bullet wound, forearm and chest, severe;
     Captain Frederick Staynes, bullet wound, forearm, severe. Royal
     Army Medical Corps.--Major Edward G. Gray, killed. Natal
     Mounted Rifles.--Lieutenant W. Chapman, killed.


                    THE DISASTER OF NICHOLSON'S NEK

The circumstances which attended the movements of Colonel Carleton's
column are even now somewhat fraught with mystery. He carried out the
night march unmolested until within two miles of Nicholson's Nek. Then
some boulders, loosened evidently for the purpose, rolled down the hill,
and a sudden crackling roll of musketry stampeded the infantry
ammunition mules. The alarm became infectious, with the result that the
battery mules also broke loose from their leaders, practically carrying
with them the whole of the gun equipment. The greater part of the
regimental small-arm ammunition reserve was similarly lost. In
consequence of this misfortune, Colonel Carleton's small force, after a
plucky fight and heavy loss, had to capitulate. The real truth about the
affair may never be known, but for the lamentable result Sir George
White in an official dispatch, with heroic courage--greater perhaps than
any required by warriors in the field--took upon himself the entire
blame. The General knew well that the failure of his programme in the
engagement of Lombard's Kop had inevitably brought about the disaster to
the isolated force.

The list of officers taken prisoners by Boers was as follows:--

     Staff.--Major W. Adye. 1st Battalion Royal Irish
     Fusiliers.--Lieutenant-Colonel F. R. C. Carleton; Majors F. H.
     Munn and C. S. Kincaid; Captains Burrows, Rice, wounded, and
     Silver, severely wounded; Lieutenants A. E. S. Heard, C. E.
     Southey, W. G. B. Phibbs, A. H. C. MacGregor, H. B. Holmes, A.
     L. J. M. Kelly, W. D. Dooner, wounded; Second Lieutenants R. J.
     Kentish, C. E. Kinahan, R. W. R. Jeudwine; Chaplain Father
     Matthews. 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment.--Majors S.
     Humphrey, H. Capel Cure, and W. R. P. Wallace; Captains S.
     Duncan and R. Conner, both slightly wounded; Lieutenants A.
     Bryant, F. C. Nisbet, J. O'D. Ingram, R. M. M. Davy, C. S.
     Knox, W. A. M. Temple, A. H. Radice, F. A. Breul, W. L. B.
     Hill, P. H. Short; Second Lieutenants H. H. Smith, W. S.
     Mackenzie, R. L. Beasley, Lieutenant and Quartermaster R. J.
     Gray. Royal Artillery Mountain Battery.--Major G. E. Bryant;
     Lieutenants Wheeler, G. R. H. Nugent, W. H. Moore, Webb
     (attached): Newspaper Correspondent, J. Hyde.

Some details of their misfortune were given by the prisoners in
Pretoria, and they serve to throw more light on the subject.

Colonel Carleton, as we know, was sent towards Nicholson's Nek to hold
it and prevent the Free Staters from coming to the assistance of the
other Boers. Having lost his reserve ammunition and the water of all the
battery through the stampede of the mules, he set to work to construct a
defensive position. But stones were scarce and the defences were
slender, and by the light of dawn his position was revealed. At this
time a long-range fire was opened from three hills to south and west,
dropping from 1500 yards into the position, and taking it both in flank
and in rear. From his observations Colonel Carleton discovered that
General White's scheme had failed--that it was being abandoned. In
consequence of this failure the whole Boer force was enabled to swarm
from all directions towards the isolated column. Firing fierce and
incessant, exhausted the already worn-out Irish Fusiliers, while the
advanced companies of the Gloucesters were severely mauled by the
Martini bullets of the enemy. The hill was now completely surrounded,
the ammunition expended; still Colonel Carleton had no idea of giving
in. The bayonet was left, and by the bayonet he meant to stand or fall.
Suddenly a wounded officer ordered the white flag to be raised. It was
then hoisted, but uncertainty prevailed as to the authority for the
exhibition of the flag, and some of our men still continued to fire.
However, the mischief was done, and the surrender was merely a matter of
moments.

The most vivid account of the disaster, from an outsider's point of
view, was given by the _Times_ special correspondent at Ladysmith. He
wrote:--

     "This column, consisting of six companies of the Royal Irish
     Fusiliers, four and a half companies of the Gloucestershire
     Regiment, and No. 10 Mountain Battery, left camp on Sunday
     night at 10.30, with the object of occupying a position from
     which it would be able to operate upon the right of the Boer
     position on Pepworth Hill. The column was guided by Major Adye,
     of the Field Intelligence, and a staff of the headquarters
     guides. Their destination was Nicholson's Nek, a position
     which, when reconnoitred from this side, appeared to possess
     the necessary tactical advantages for a detached force.
     Nicholson's Nek lies about four miles up Bell's Spruit, a donga
     due north of Ladysmith. The men blundered along in the
     darkness, the Irish Fusiliers leading, the battery in the
     centre, the rear being brought up by the Gloucestershire
     Regiment. There seems no doubt upon one point, and that is, the
     enemy were aware of this part of the movement from the
     beginning. Probably they were aware of the whole of the plans
     for Monday, for in Ladysmith it was impossible to say who was a
     Boer agent and who not. However that may be, it is certain that
     the enemy were on the flanks of the column all night, one of
     the survivors positively stating that he constantly heard the
     snapping of breeches, and once the peculiar noise which a rifle
     makes at night when it is dropped.

     "Two hours before daybreak, while the column was in enclosed
     country, either a shot was fired or a boulder rolled into the
     battery in column of route. The mules stampeded, and easily
     broke away from their half-asleep drivers. They came back upon
     the Gloucestershire Regiment, the advance party of whom fired
     into the mass, believing in the darkness that it was an attack.
     This added to the chaos; the ranks were broken by the frenzied
     animals, and they dashed through the ranks of the rearguard,
     carrying the first and second reserve ammunition animals with
     them. It became a hopeless panic; the animals, wild with the
     shouting and the turmoil, tore down the nullah into the
     darkness, and the last that was heard of them was the sound of
     ammunition-boxes and panniers as they were splintered against
     the boulders. The hubbub of those few minutes was sufficient to
     have alarmed the enemy. By a strenuous effort the officers
     succeeded in getting the men again under control, and when
     daylight came they seized the first position which presented
     itself, and which was about two miles short of the original
     goal. They were forced to take advantage of the first kopje, as
     Boer scouts were all round them, and the day was ushered in
     with desultory firing. It was a sorry position which they had
     chosen, and the men were in a sorrier plight. All their reserve
     ammunition was gone, and though they had saved pieces of the
     screw-guns, they were not able with these pieces to patch up a
     single mounting.

     "The position itself was a flat kopje commanded on the south by
     a self-contained ridge. To the east was another kopje, which
     commanded the top of the position at about 500 yards. On the
     west were two similar spurs, also commanding the position at
     short ranges. The summit of the kopje was a plateau, all the
     sides being gradual slopes except the eastern, which was
     almost sheer, this latter being the side from which access had
     been gained. From below it appeared a defensible position, but
     when once the top was reached it was evident that it was
     commanded from all sides. The men busied themselves attempting
     to build breastworks. The Gloucestershire companies, with their
     Maxim gun, were given the northern face to hold, two companies
     being detached on to a self-contained ridge of the position
     which lay on the south side. The Irish Fusiliers had the
     precipitous flank to defend.

     "From earliest daybreak Boer scouts were reconnoitring, and
     about eight o'clock mounted Boers could be seen galloping in
     small groups to the cover at the reverse of the hill on the
     west. Later two strong parties of mounted men took position on
     the far side of the two hills commanding the kopje from the
     west. About nine o'clock these two parties had crowned the
     hills and opened a heavy fire at short ranges right down upon
     the plateau. Our men made a plucky attempt to return this fire,
     but it was impossible; they were under a cross-fire from two
     directions, flank and rear. The two companies of Gloucesters
     holding the self-contained ridge were driven from their
     shelter, and as they crossed the open on the lower plateau were
     terribly mauled, the men falling in groups. The Boers on the
     west had not yet declared themselves, but about 200 marksmen
     climbed to the position which the two companies of the
     Gloucesters had just vacated. These men absolutely raked the
     plateau, and it was then that the men were ordered to take
     cover on the steep reverse of the kopje. As soon as the enemy
     realised this move, the men on the western hill teemed on to
     the summit and opened upon our men as they lay on the slope.
     They were absolutely hemmed in, and what had commenced as a
     skirmish seemed about to become a butchery. The grim order was
     passed round--'Faugh-a-Ballaghs, fix your bayonets and die like
     men!' There was the clatter of steel, the moment of suspense,
     and then the 'Cease fire' sounded. Again and again it sounded,
     but the Irish Fusiliers were loth to accept the call, and
     continued firing for many minutes. Then it was unconditional
     surrender and the men laid down their arms."

[Illustration: GENERAL JOUBERT.

Photo by Elliott & Fry, London.]

An officer of the Gloucestershire Regiment described the affair thus:--

                                     "HOSPITAL, WYNBERG, 9/11/1899.

     "We were ordered out with six companies of Royal Irish
     Fusiliers and No. 10 Mountain Battery, Royal Artillery, to make
     a night march through the Boer lines and hold a hill behind
     their right flank till the rest of the troops took us off,
     which they expected to do about 11 A.M. As it turned out, they
     were not able to do this, but they did keep the Boer guns
     employed, luckily for us. We started off at 8.30 P.M., and got
     to the foot of our hill about 2 A.M. The Royal Irish Fusiliers
     were in front, then the battery and S.A.A. mules, and last
     ourselves. The Royal Irish Fusiliers had got part way up the
     hill--a very steep one--when three mounted Boers galloped down
     amid clouds of dust, rolling stones, &c. They started off the
     battery and S.A.A. mules, the Boers firing as they passed. The
     mules cut right through the regiment, and all was chaos for a
     time.

     "It was pitch dark, and the noise of the mules and the loads
     and the stores falling about was enough to put any one off.
     Several men were hurt, some got in next day, some are
     missing.--Part of Stayner's, Fyffe's, and my company were cut
     off from the rest altogether, and when we got them in some sort
     of order, we had quite lost the rest of the column. The orders
     were to push on, no matter what happened, and every one left to
     look out for himself. After some time trying to find the
     path, we came across a straggler, who told us which way the
     regiment had gone, and eventually we found them on the top of a
     hill. We were ordered, as soon as we got on the hill, to put up
     sangars, which we worked at by the light of a very small moon
     till daylight. Then the Boers began on us all round, not very
     many, till about half-past eight. From then till 2.30 the fire
     was hot, and hottest at 2.30, when our ammunition being almost
     down and the fire devilish from all sides, we had to give in.

     "I got a grazing shot on my left hand and a bullet in my right
     forearm early (about 8.30 A.M., and two more grazers--right
     thigh and left elbow)--later, finally, a bullet from behind
     through the right shoulder about a quarter of an hour before
     the end. I don't know who gave the order to 'Cease fire.' The
     firing could not have gone on five minutes more on our side for
     want of ammunition, and the Boer fire was tremendous from all
     round. It was like 'magazine independent' at the end of
     field-firing. The astonishing thing is so few were hit. If we
     had had our guns and ammunition, I think we could have held on
     until night and then got off, but there were 1200 of them, they
     said, to our 800, not counting gunners, and you could not till
     the very end see a dozen of them. The way they take cover is
     simply wonderful. All the prisoners were marched off at once
     and sent by rail to Pretoria. It was a terribly hot day, and no
     shade or water except what the Boers gave us. They were very
     good about water, giving us all they had, and fetching more
     from the bottom of the hill, one and a half mile away."

An officer of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, writing from Staatsmodel
Schule, Pretoria, said:--

     "We were all taken prisoners, together with the Gloucester
     Regiment and a Battery of Mounted Artillery, which accounts for
     us being in Pretoria so soon. As we were going up the hill in
     the dark, a small party of Boers dashed through our ammunition
     mules, causing them to stampede. By this move we lost all our
     mules, 200 in all, and with them all our ammunition and
     artillery.... You don't know what it means shooting a Boer; he
     is behind a rock, and all you can ever see is his rifle
     sticking out. For the last hour of the fight I had a rifle and
     ammunition which I took from a dead man, and blazed away for
     all I was worth. Then we fixed bayonets and prepared for a
     rush, when the 'Cease fire' sounded. Our senior Captain has
     told me that my name has been mentioned to our Colonel, who was
     commanding the force, as having caused a lot of men to rally.
     We were all then taken prisoners, except two officers killed
     and eight wounded, and marched to the Boer laager, and sent off
     that night to a station twenty miles distant in waggons. While
     we were in their laager they treated us extremely well, and
     gave us food and tobacco. All you read about the Boers in
     England is absolutely untrue. They are most kind to the wounded
     and prisoners, looking after them as well as their own wounded,
     and anything they've got they will give you if you ask them,
     even if they deprive themselves. We came up to Pretoria in
     first-class sleeping-carriages, and the way they treated us was
     most considerate, feeding us and giving us coffee every time we
     stopped. The day we arrived we took up quarters on the
     racecourse, but we have been moved into a fine brick building
     with baths, electric light, &c. They provide us with
     everything, from clothes down to tooth-brushes. They also feed
     us, and we are constantly getting presents of vegetables and
     cigars from private people. In fact, we can have everything we
     like except our liberty; for some reason or other they won't at
     present give us parole, and we are surrounded by sentries.
     There are close upon fifty officers in this building, and they
     have got any amount of wounded ones in different places. They
     say they won't exchange the officers at any price."

As this letter had evidently to pass through the hands of the prison
censor, we may take the eulogies of the Boers for what they were worth!
However, it is but just to own that there are Boers and Boers. For
instance, it is a fact that Captain Gerard Rice, who was wounded in the
ankle and unable to move, offered a Boer half-a-sovereign to carry him
off the field. The man refused the money, but performed the action with
great kindness.

Father L. Matthews, chaplain of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, who was
captured at Nicholson's Nek on October 31 and subsequently released,
gave the following version of the disaster:--

     "We were sent out to occupy the position with the object of
     preventing the two Boer forces from joining. We started at 8.30
     on Sunday night, marched ten miles, and got to the hill at 1
     A.M. The first mishap was that the mountain battery stampeded
     and scattered the whole lot of mules. We formed up again and
     gained the top of the hill. The guns were gone, but not all the
     ammunition. I do not know what stampeded the mules. They
     knocked me down. It was pitch dark.

     "We had one hour's sleep. Firing began just after daylight. It
     was slack for some time, but the Boers crept round. Then the
     firing became furious. Our men made a breastwork of stones.

     "After 12 o'clock there was a general cry of 'Cease fire' in
     that direction. Our fellows would not stop firing. Major Adye
     came up and confirmed the order to cease fire. Then the bugle
     sounded 'Cease fire.' In our sangar there was a rumour that the
     white flag was raised by a young officer who thought his batch
     of ten men were the sole survivors.

     "We were 900 alive, having started perhaps 1000. I think that
     many of the battery men escaped. Our men and officers were
     furious at surrendering. The Boers did not seem to be in great
     numbers on the spot, but I heard that the main body had
     galloped off.

     "The men had to give up their arms. The officers were sent to
     Commandant Steenekamp. The officers then ordered the men to
     fall in. The officers were taken away from the men and sent to
     General Joubert. On the same day the officers went in
     mule-waggons and slept at some store _en route_, and next day
     took the train at Waschbank for Pretoria. The officers are very
     well treated, and so, I have heard, are the men. There has been
     no unpleasantness in Pretoria. The officers are in the Model
     School, and are allowed to walk as they please in the grounds.

     "I think that the surrender was a great blunder, and was caused
     by a misunderstanding. Major Adye was much put out. The white
     flag was not hoisted by the Irish Fusiliers."

Father Matthews puts the case mildly. Some of the officers of the Irish
Fusiliers were so exasperated at the exhibition of the white flag, that
they set to work and smashed their swords rather than give them up.

The final figures of the losses sustained at Nicholson's Nek were as
follows: The total of missing of the Gloucesters and Royal Irish
Fusiliers was 843. Thirty-two of the Gloucesters, 10 of the Fusiliers,
and 10 of the Mountain Battery were found dead on the field, while 150
wounded were brought into camp at Ladysmith. Between 70 and 100 of the
men escaped and got back to camp.


                         THE SIEGE OF LADYSMITH

It was now found necessary to issue a proclamation giving all strangers
the option of leaving the town at twenty-four hours' notice. In spite of
this notice, however, many civilians remained. Meanwhile, shells
continued to drop uproariously, if harmlessly, into the town, while the
balloon corps worked steadily in their task of locating the hostile
guns. The enemy objected to that original form of spy, and aimed at him
many a shot, but, fortunately, without effect. The Naval Brigade, always
animated, active, and efficient, completed the mounting of the
long-range guns which were to add to the safety of the place and the
discomfiture of its besiegers. On the whole, the position was becoming
somewhat serious, particularly for those whose nerves were unaccustomed
to the uproar of diurnal thunderstorms. Lord Wolseley has somewhere said
that "the effect of artillery fire is more moral than actual; it kills
but very few, but its appalling noise, the way it tears down trees,
knocks houses into small pieces, and mutilates the human frame when it
does hit, strikes terror into all but the stoutest hearts." It may be
imagined that the early days of this experience must have been somewhat
embarrassing, though later on, so attuned became the nerves, even of
women, that they engaged in shopping in the midst of bombardment, quite
unmoved.

On 2nd November at 2.30 P.M. the telegraphic communication with
Ladysmith was interrupted, but it was undecided whether the Boers had
got sufficiently far south to promote the interruption or whether the
wires had been cut by Dutch sympathisers or small scouting parties of
the enemy. The Boers applied for an armistice with a view to burying
their dead, their real object most probably being, as in many previous
cases of a similar nature, to obtain time for refitting their heavy
guns. This request was refused, but they were permitted to bury their
slain under a flag of truce. Meanwhile, General Joubert's force received
large reinforcements of Free State burghers under the command of Lucas
Meyer, and additional commandoes from the Middleburgh and Leydenburg
districts under Schalkburger were expected.

After this the siege of Ladysmith began in real earnest. "Long Tom,"
though temporarily incapacitated, soon resumed his volubility, and was
assisted by another of his calibre nicknamed "Slim Piet." Curiously
enough, the first house hit during the siege was a commodious
bungalow-shaped residence with large verandah belonging to Mr. Carter,
the author of the now well-known "Narrative of the Boer War." The owner
fortunately had left before the bombardment, and the premises were then
occupied by nurses.

[Illustration: TYPES OF ARMS--12-POUNDER NAVAL GUN ON IMPROVISED
CARRIAGE]

[Illustration: TYPES OF ARMS--4.7-INCH NAVAL GUN ON IMPROVISED MOUNTING]

Lieut. Frederick Egerton, of the _Powerful_, who was wounded by a shell
in the left knee and right foot, was promoted to the rank of Commander
in Her Majesty's fleet for special services with the forces in South
Africa. But his promotion came too late. He expired after some hours of
suffering.[4]

The Boers by now had established batteries on Grobler's Kloof,
a commanding eminence from whence they could attack both Ladysmith on
the north and Colenso on the south. Women and children vacated the
place, and the trains coming in and out had to run the gantlet of the
Boer fire, both Nordenfeldt quick-firing guns and Mauser rifles being
brought to bear on the refugees. The Boers, however, continued to salute
the town without much effect, while the naval gunners replied with
telling emphasis. They succeeded in dismounting the Boers' 40-pounder
which had been so comfortably posted on Pepworth's Hill.

The carriages and platforms on which the naval guns were mounted at
Ladysmith, and which proved so important a feature in promoting the
defence of the place, were specially designed by Captain Percy Scott of
the cruiser _Terrible_. In regard to this officer's resourcefulness the
_Times_ expressed an opinion that is worthy of remembrance:--

"Captain Percy Scott, of the _Terrible_, came to the rescue, adding one
more to the numerous instances in which this country has owed to
individual resource and initiative its escape from the disasters invited
by the incompetence of the War Office. There is no need to inquire just
now into the balance of political and military considerations which
determined the policy of making a stand at Ladysmith. It is enough that
that policy was definitely adopted in ample time to allow of providing
Ladysmith with the long-range guns which its position renders peculiarly
necessary, dominated as it is by hills on three sides. Why were such
guns not provided? Why was it left to fortunate accident to furnish the
garrison at the very last moment with the means of defence? The
conclusions of German military science, as will have been noted by all
who read the interesting account of German manoeuvres which we
published yesterday, are all in favour of saving the lives of the
infantry by a very free use of artillery at long ranges. The country
around Ladysmith seems to be one that calls loudly for even a more
lavish artillery equipment than might normally suffice. Yet, in spite of
science and of common-sense, the Ladysmith garrison, occupying a
predetermined position open to artillery fire from all sides, was left
absolutely destitute of long-range guns, and none too well provided with
field-artillery. But that Captain Scott proved himself able, just in
time, to improvise out of the rough materials at hand an effective
gun-carriage, there would have been nothing to prevent the Boers from
using their big guns at half the distance they have actually had to
keep."

At this time British troops were withdrawn from Colenso and moved
farther south, and Boer armies continued to close round Ladysmith.
Isimbulwana Hill, lying east of Ladysmith, was taken possession of, and
a force advancing from Dewdrop, on the west of the town, moved south
towards Colenso, and there on high ground posted its guns. Yet, in spite
of this, the town showed itself to be "all alive and kicking." Though
cut off from the telegraph, it sent out pigeon-posts; though engirdled
by Boers, it made sorties of the most animated description, and
literally laughed at the hint of surrender. On the 2nd, Colonel
Brocklehurst made an attack on the enemy's laagers with a force of
cavalry, mounted infantry, and mounted volunteers, surprising the
Dutchmen and driving them back with comparatively small loss, and on the
following day fighting lasted for some hours between the British
cavalry, supported by field-artillery, Imperial Light Horse, and Natal
Mounted Volunteers, and the Republicans. Many shells were pitched into
the town, and an artillery duel rampaged with such relentless vigour
that the general sensation to those who remained enclosed in the town
was as though a thunderstorm with earthquake was passing over the place.
Nothing worse happened, and the enemy for a while were driven back to
their camp and some thirty or more prisoners were taken. Major Charles
Kincaid, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, with nine wounded prisoners, was
exchanged by the Boers for eight of their countrymen in similar plight.
Others of them were not fit to travel. The enemy continued active,
replacing disabled guns with new ones and dragging fresh powerful
weapons to bear on the situation. On the 4th of November they announced
their annexation of Upper Tugela, and a counter-proclamation of the
nature already quoted was issued by the Governor.

A large commando of the enemy commenced the bombardment of Colenso, and
the troops forming the garrison of that place fell back on Estcourt,
where was stationed a force of considerable strength. By "considerable
strength" it must be understood that the force was sufficiently strong
for purposes of defence, though not for purposes of offence. As a matter
of fact, the force in Natal was not, and has not since been,
sufficiently strong for attack of a foe in such powerfully intrenched
positions. From beginning to end our military commanders on that side of
the theatre of war were sorely handicapped by the tardy recognition by
the Home Government of the gravity of the situation. But here it is now
desirable that something should be said of the early history of the
towns of Mafeking and Kimberley, which, like Ladysmith, were by this
time almost completely isolated, rails and telegraph wires having been
cut around both places respectively.

[Illustration: LADYSMITH, NATAL.

Photo by Wilson, Aberdeen.]

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Colonel Sherston, D.S.O., of the Rifle Brigade, in which he held the
rank of Major, was a son of the late Captain Sherston, of Evercreech
House, Somerset, and a nephew of Lord Roberts. He entered the army on
February 12, 1876, and on the Afghan War breaking out two years later was
appointed aide-de-camp to his uncle, then Sir Frederick Roberts. He was
present in the engagement at Charasiah on October 6, 1879, and the
subsequent pursuit of the enemy, his services being mentioned in
despatches. A similar distinction fell to his lot in connection with the
operations around Cabul in 1879, including the investment of Sherpore. He
accompanied Lord Roberts in the famous march to Candahar, and was present
at the battle at that place, when he was again mentioned in despatches.
His services during the operations were rewarded with the medal with three
clasps and the bronze decoration. In 1881 he took part in the Mahsood
Wuzeeree Expedition, and on August 20, 1884, he received his company. He
served with the Burmese Expedition in 1886-87 as D.A.A. and Q.G. on the
Headquarters Staff, and was again mentioned in despatches and received the
Distinguished Service Order and the medal with clasp. On October 15, 1898,
A.A.G. in Bengal.

[2] Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Henry Gunning, of the 1st King's Royal
Rifles, was the eldest son of Sir George William Gunning, fifth Baronet,
of Little Horton House, Northampton, the Chairman of the Conservative
Party in Mid-Northamptonshire, by his marriage with Isabella Mary Frances
Charlotte, daughter of the late Colonel William Chester-Master, of the
Abbey, Cirencester, and was born on July 17, 1852. Educated at Eton, he
entered the army as a sub-lieutenant on March 26, 1873, and was gazetted
to the 60th Foot (now the King's Royal Rifle Corps) as a lieutenant on
September 9, 1874. He served in the Zulu War of 1879 with the third
battalion of his regiment, and was present at the action of Gingindhlovu
and the relief of Ekowe, afterwards serving as adjutant of the battalion
throughout the operations of "Clarke's Column," for which he wore the
medal with clasp. He was gazetted captain in August 1883, was an adjutant
of the Auxiliary Forces (the 5th Militia Battalion of the King's Royal
Rifles) from March 1886 to March 1891, having obtained the rank of major
on June 25, 1890. In 1891-92 he took part in the war in Burma, being
engaged in the operations in the Chin Hills in command of the Baungshe
column, for which he wore a second medal with clasp. His commission as
lieutenant-colonel bore date April 16, 1898. Colonel Gunning, who was in
the Commission of the Peace for the county of Northants, married in 1880
Fanny Julia, daughter of the late Mr. Clinton George Dawkins, formerly Her
Majesty's Consul-General at Venice.

[3] Colonel John James Scott Chisholme, who was killed at Elandslaagte,
belonged to the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers, and who was detached on special
service in South Africa, came of an old Scottish family, the Chisholmes of
Stirches, Roxburghshire, his family seat being situate at the latter
place. He was the only son of the late Mr. John Scott Chisholme (who
assumed the name of Scott in 1852 under the will of his uncle, Mr. James
Scott of Whitehaugh), by his marriage with Margaret, eldest daughter and
co-heir of the late Mr. Robert Walker of Mumrells, Stirlingshire, and was
born in 1851. He entered the army in January 1872, his first services
being with the 9th Lancers, and reached the rank of captain in March 1878.
From that year till 1880 he served with the 9th Lancers in the Afghan War,
was present at the capture of Ali Musjid, took part in the affair of Siah
Sung, where he was severely wounded, and in the operations around Cabul in
December 1879, when he was again wounded, and obtained mention in
despatches, being rewarded with the brevet of major (May 2, 1881), and the
medal with two clasps. He reached the substantive rank of major in
December 1884, and from that year till 1889 was a major of the 9th
Lancers, when he was transferred to the 5th Lancers. He was Military
Secretary to Lord Connemara when Governor of Madras from 1888 to 1891. He
reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel in August 1894, and that of colonel
on August 12, 1898.

[4] Commander Egerton was a nephew of the Duke of Devonshire and of the
first Earl of Ellesmere. He was the son of the late Admiral the Hon.
Francis Egerton, M.P. for East Derbyshire, 1868-86. Commander Egerton, who
was in his thirty-first year, entered the navy seventeen years ago. He
became a lieutenant in 1891, and in 1897 he was appointed gunnery officer
in the cruiser _Powerful_, having specially qualified in gunnery. He
possessed honorary certificates from the Royal Naval College, but he had
had no previous experience of war service.



                               CHAPTER II

                         THE SIEGE OF MAFEKING


President Kruger's Ultimatum having been accepted in its full
significance, General Cronje crossed the border and the telegraph wires
to Mafeking were cut. Mafeking is a smart little town on the
Bechuanaland Railway. It stands about eight miles from the Transvaal
border, about 200 miles north of Kimberley, and some 875 miles from Cape
Town. It is the headquarters of the Bechuanaland Border Police, a crack
corps, whose every member is thoroughly wide-awake and well versed in
the niceties of the guerilla style of warfare favoured of the Boers. In
the town is the "Surrey Hotel" and others; English, Dutch, and Wesleyan
churches; a cricket-ground and a racecourse. Its supplies, in time of
peace, are drawn from Dutch farms situated in the Marico Valley, while
its pure water is drawn from the springs at Rooi Grond in the Transvaal
territory.

Mafeking itself is less than a mile square. The railroad, running north
and south, takes a westerly bend as it crosses the Molopo River some 300
yards south of the town. In this westerly direction is a native Stadt, a
constellation of mushroom huts wherein the blacks congregate. To east,
north, and west the surrounding country is flat; elsewhere it rises and
affords a certain amount of cover. Towards the south-east is Sir Charles
Warren's old fort, named Cannon Kopje, which was viewed as the key of
the position and promptly rendered impregnable. In the north-west corner
of the town was the railway station, now useless; on the north-east, the
convent; on the south-east, Ellis House; and south-west, the Pound, near
which were the quarters of the British South African Police. The
population of the town consisted of some 2000 whites, while in the
Stadt, owing to the presence of native refugees, there were about 7000
blacks.

On the outbreak of hostilities, Colonel Baden-Powell, who had been sent
out on special service to South Africa to report on the defences of
Rhodesia, applied himself at once to face a situation which made demands
on all his extensive capabilities. In the very early days of the
investment he got guns into position and made dashing sorties,
determining to show the besiegers that they would not have what in
popular phrase is known as "a walk over." So great was the versatility
of this officer, that, while these energetic measures for the protection
of those around him were going forward, he yet managed to correct and
send home proofs of a "Manual on Scouting," a work at the moment most
interesting and precious to the military man, while to the layman it
makes as good reading as the "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." In
Mafeking was also Major Lord Edward Cecil (Grenadier Guards), D.S.O.,
the fourth son of the Prime Minister--whose activity and energy were
remarkable, even in a community where those qualities were
ubiquitous--and Captain Gordon Wilson (Royal Horse Guards), with his
wife, Lady Sarah Wilson, a lady of much enterprise, to whose energies
the garrison owed not a little. Among others there were Colonel Hore
(South Staffordshire Regiment), Major Godley (Royal Dublin Fusiliers),
Captain Marsh (Royal West Kent Regiment), Captain Vernon (King's Royal
Rifles), Captain FitzClarence (Royal Fusiliers), Lord Charles
Cavendish-Bentinck (9th Lancers), the Hon. H. Hanbury-Tracy (Royal Horse
Guards), Lieut. Singleton (Highland Light Infantry), Captain the Hon. D.
Marsham (4th Bedfordshire Regiment), Captain Pechell (3rd King's Royal
Rifles), and Major Anderson (R.A.M.C.). There were in addition several
Colonial officers who proved themselves the soul of activity--notably
Captain Goodyear, Captain Nesbitt, V.C., Lieuts. Paton and Murchison,
and several others. Colonel Vyvyen and Major Panzera also worked like
Trojans to secure the safety of the town. Major Baillie of the _Morning
Post_ made himself useful in every capacity. Later on he forwarded a
description of the garrison which gave a good idea of the splendid plan
of organisation adopted. He said:--

     "The town was garrisoned by the Cape Police under Captains
     Brown and Marsh. These and the Railway Volunteers were under
     Colonel Vivian, while Cannon Kopje was entrusted to Colonel
     Walford and the B.S.A.P. Colonel Baden-Powell retained one
     squadron of the Protectorate Regiment as reserve under his own
     immediate control. These arrangements were subsequently much
     augmented. After the convent had been practically demolished by
     shell-fire, and the railway line all round the town pulled up
     or mined during the close investment by the Boers, the small
     work was erected at the convent corner, garrisoned by the Cape
     Police and a Maxim under Lieutenant Murray, who was also put in
     charge of the armoured train, which had been withdrawn to the
     railway station out of harm's way.

     "The Railway Volunteers garrisoned the cemetery, and had an
     advance trench about 800 yards to the front and immediately to
     the right of the line. To the westward came Fort Cardigan, and
     then again Fort Miller; to the south-west was Major Godley's
     Fort, at the north of the native stadt, with Fort Ayr, and an
     advance fort crowning the down to the northern end of the
     stadt, and though rather detached, having command of the view
     for a great distance. To the south of the northern portion of
     the stadt the Cape Police were intrenched with a Maxim, and 500
     yards to the west front of Captain Marsh's post lay Limestone
     Fort, commanding the valley, on the other side of which lay the
     Boer laager and intrenchments. At the south-western corner, and
     on the edge of the stadt Captain Marsh's fort was situated. The
     whole of the edge of the stadt was furnished with loopholes and
     trenches, and was garrisoned by the native inhabitants. Near
     the railway were situated two armoured trucks with a
     Nordenfeldt, and Cannon Kopje with two Maxims and a 7-pounder
     lay to the south-east. And now to the immediate defences of the
     town. At the south-western corner is the Pound, garrisoned by
     Cape Police under Captain Marsh, then eastwards is Early's
     Fort, Dixon's Redan, Ball's Fort, Ellis's corner, with Maxim
     and Cape Police, under Captain Brown. On the eastern front are
     Ellitson's Kraal, Musson's Fort, De Kock's Fort with Maxim,
     Recreation Ground Fort. To the left of the convent lies the
     Hospital Fort. All these, unless otherwise mentioned, are
     defended by the Town Guard."

Operations began on the 12th with an episode that cannot afford to be
forgotten. It was discovered that two trucks of dynamite were in the
station yard, and it was at once decided, for the safety of the
population, that they must be removed. An engine was, therefore,
despatched in charge of a plucky driver (Perry) for the purpose of
conveying the trucks into the open, where they might explode without
danger to the town. While he was engaged in the work of deporting the
destructive material, the enemy suddenly appeared and commenced to fire.
Perry, with the utmost coolness, a coolness which in the circumstances
was nothing less than heroism, uncoupled his engine, and leaving the
trucks to their fate, steamed back to the town. Before he could reach
his destination, however, the shock of an awful detonation greeted his
ears. The Boers had again fired on the trucks, believing them to be full
of passengers, and, as a natural consequence, the dynamite had exploded!

The garrison, numbering from 800 to 1000, now began to furbish itself
up, to arm and practise with the rifle. The old forts round the place
were put into repair, and the armoured train, with a Maxim gun and a
Nordenfeldt, was made ready for coming excursions. Nothing was
neglected. It was well known that the Boers looked upon the town as
their personal property, and when it came to fighting, meant to make it
so--if they could! The two available regiments, the Protectorate
Regiment and the Mounted Police, spent most of their time manoeuvring,
with a view to awakening the intelligent interests of the ranks and
instructing the men on the nature of the ground in the vicinity. Colonel
Baden-Powell lost no opportunity of preparing for the gallant Cronje,
and, in order to show that he did not mean to be caught napping, some
nights were passed by the garrison in their day kit.

On the 12th October an armoured train that was escorting two light guns
of old pattern from the Cape to Mafeking was seized by the Boers, who
had torn up the rails at Kraalpan. They pounded the machine with
artillery, and captured it with guns and men in charge--all, save the
engine-driver, being made prisoners. Lieutenant Nesbitt was wounded and
the driver lost five fingers. The latter escaped through hiding himself
in the sand and thus avoiding observation. In Mafeking itself the
Sisters of the Roman Catholic Convent busied themselves. These noble
women refused to leave the place, electing to remain face to face with
danger in order to nurse the sick. Many of the houses were converted
into hospitals, all the streets were barred with waggons, and even the
inhabitants of the town were supplied with rifles and taught the use of
them. The telegraph wires were now cut at Maribogo, some forty miles
south of Mafeking. The bridge that crossed the Molopo River above
Mafeking was next blown up by the Boers with tremendous uproar. Still
the inhabitants were not dismayed. They had implicit confidence in their
commander and worked incessantly. As a defensive position, Kimberley,
whose history will be told later, had the advantage of Mafeking. The
refuse heaps from the mines at the former place served as natural
fortifications. But Mafeking was in one way fairly secure: its troops,
though few, were efficient, and owing to its not being the abode of Mr.
Rhodes, it was no longer looked upon by the Boers as the most attractive
prize of the war. Besides this, Colonel Baden-Powell's plans of defence
were very complete.

The town was divided into sections, each one of which had its separate
arrangements for defence. The perimeter was about six miles in
circumference. Huge earthworks were thrown up. Shelters were built, with
panellings and roofings of corrugated iron. Colonel Baden-Powell had
decided to hold the town, and declared that if he should hold it at all,
his grip should be a firm one. For himself, he constructed a bomb-proof
bureau, where his literary work could safely be pursued, if need be, to
the accompaniment of a score of guns, and round him were telephonic
communications with each of his outposts. He had also a private
signaller placed with telescope on the watch to inform him of outside
doings and forewarn the garrison in case of assault. Wire communications
were arranged so that each discharge of a shell might be reported by an
alarum, in order that inhabitants of the threatened quarter might have
time to burrow in places of safety. During the daytime the bell of the
signaller was actively employed, but at night the Boers seldom bombarded
the place, and its inhabitants were free to emerge from their
hiding-places and breathe the fresh air.

Fortunately in the matter of food much foresight had been exercised.
With everything against him, Colonel Baden-Powell had succeeded in
making provision for, if necessary, a prolonged state of siege.

[Illustration: COLONEL ROBERT S. S. BADEN-POWELL, THE DEFENDER OF
MAFEKING.

Photo by Elliott & Fry, London.]

At daylight on the 14th, the whole garrison was on the alert. Reports
declared the Boers to be advancing on the south. Firing was at the
same time heard from the north, and Lord Charles Cavendish-Bentinck was
reported to be in action. While the firing continued the armoured train
was hurriedly got in readiness, and started with the object of engaging
the enemy.

The crew of the leading truck, "Firefly," consisted of a detachment of
the British South African Police and Railway Volunteers, Captain Ashley
Williams himself being in command, Mr. Gwayne being the driver of the
engine, and Mr. A. Moffat acting as stoker. The second truck was in
charge of Lieutenant More, an engineer on the Bechuanaland Railway. No.
1 truck was armed with a Maxim, and its crew mostly with Lee-Metfords.
Truck No. 2, which carried another Maxim, rejoiced in the name of
"Wasp." A third truck, the "Gun," carried a Hotchkiss. The crew of the
trucks numbered barely fifteen in each. The train, after passing Lord
Charles Bentinck's squadron, who hailed it with a cheer and various
humorous sallies, came on the enemy, about 500 strong, to right front of
the trucks.

A fierce interchange of bullets followed, the Mafeking party firing with
such success that the enemy cautiously withdrew into the distance; still
they kept up a rattling fire against the armour of the train, which
careered up and down the line for some time with imperturbable yet
cheerful activity. Presently, however, Colonel Baden-Powell despatched
Captain FitzClarence with a squadron of men to cover its retreat, but
before this could be effected the Boers again appeared, and a determined
engagement ensued. Some sharp fighting took place, and Captain
FitzClarence, though ordered to return to Mafeking, was unable to do so
without reinforcements on account of the number of his wounded. The
phonophore having been connected with the railway line, a telegraph
message to this effect was sent to headquarters. Thereupon Lord Charles
Bentinck was ordered to take his squadron to the relief of Captain
FitzClarence. Meanwhile Captain Ashley Williams and a party of the South
African Police alighted from the train, and went unarmed to the
assistance of the wounded. Among these was Lieutenant Brady of
Queenstown. Soon, the helpless were removed into the trucks, and the
train was steaming on its return to Mafeking after having done great
execution among the enemy.

Travelling in an armoured train, even when you are not wounded, is
scarcely an enjoyable experience; indeed, it may be described as one of
the most superb tests of warrior qualities. The machine itself resembles
a species of tank-truck, boxed round with seven-feet high walls of iron
or steel, without doors or windows, and with no covering for the
occupants save the dome of heaven. You climb in and you climb out as you
would into a bath, by hanging on to the loopholes made for the rifles,
and planting your feet on the exterior ridges that act as steps for the
nimble toe. Once in, there is comparative safety. From all sides there
is shelter from rifle-fire save when going down-hill below the enemy,
who can then with ease pour cascades of bullets upon the heads of the
travellers. The machine is painted kharki colour to make it less
observable to the enemy, and has the distinction of being quite the
ugliest of the many ugly inventions of modern science. Occasionally the
exterior is of varied hue--particularly in green country, when it is
made to look verdant and covered with boughs to give it an arboreal
aspect, and render its shape less observable. But the ugliness and
inconvenience of the train are nothing to the dangers it may have to
encounter. The occupant may find himself surrounded by a party of the
enemy before he has been a mile out from his base; he may find the rail
cut behind him; he may steam straight into an ambush at any moment, or
be blown up before he can wink. It has rightly been called a "death
trap," for it provides chances of dissolution many and varied.

But notwithstanding these risks, the machine was at this time
continually in use, and the pluck of the defenders of Mafeking rose
superior to all tests. The engagement of the 14th, with all its
thrilling and painful experience, bore good fruit; for all felt that the
encounter had been beneficial in many ways, more especially in
strengthening the sense of security that everywhere began to prevail. To
show how much courage and determination was the order of the course, it
must be noted, in somewhat Irish phrase, that the manning of the town
was assisted by women, some of whom refused to go into laager, but
elected to handle their Lee-Metfords for the protection of themselves
and their companions.

In the engagement of this day, Lord Charles Cavendish-Bentinck and
Lieutenant Brady were both slightly wounded. Major Baillie had a narrow
escape, his horse having been shot under him, while his water-bottle was
also struck by a bullet. In the evening Colonel Baden-Powell issued a
general order congratulating the A and L squadrons, commanded by Captain
FitzClarence and Lord Charles Bentinck, and the crew of the armoured
train, under Captain Williams and Lieutenant More, for their highly
creditable performances.

About this time some discomfort and anxiety was occasioned by the fact
that water became scarce in the town, owing to the Boers having taken
possession of a fountain from which the inhabitants were supplied.
Still, as Colonel Baden-Powell is an officer of genius, full of resource
and infinite capacity for taking pains, all had confidence that he would
not allow himself to be overcome by a temporary difficulty, and that he
and his would emerge from all tests much as Colonel Pearson and his
gallant party emerged from the ordeal of Eshowe. So the water difficulty
was soon settled. Under Major Hepworth's supervision all the wells were
cleaned out, and Sir Charles Warren's old well re-opened. On the 16th
of October Commandant Cronje's commandoes took up a position among the
thorns above the racecourse and opened fire on the town. Then a Boer
party bearing a flag of truce was sent by Cronje to demand surrender to
avoid further bloodshed. "Certainly, but when will bloodshed begin?"
asked Colonel Baden-Powell, who, alive to all the little dodges of his
enemies, knowingly kept the Burgher messenger blindfolded while he
formulated his reply. Of course he meant to hold out, and he said so in
round terms, and the Burgher departed discomfited and without having
secured a plan of the fortifications! Subsequently some Boer Krupp
batteries were brought up to cover the town, to impress those concerned
and to show that the enemy meant business. But the bombardment so far
was not fraught with much damage, for Colonel Baden-Powell, telegraphing
on the 21st, thus comically described the situation: "All well. Four
hours' bombardment. One dog killed."

[Illustration: TYPES OF ARMS--15-POUNDER FIELD-GUN. PHOTO BY CRIBB,
SOUTHSEA.]

The Boers had now begun to penetrate to Tuli in Rhodesia. Tuli is the
nearest post on the north to Transvaal territory. It stands on a river
that comes down from the Matopo Hills, and joins the Limpopo about
twenty miles beyond the town, which commands the cross-roads from the
Transvaal to Buluwayo and from Mafeking to Victoria. The troops here
were under the command of Colonel Plumer, who, from the time that
Mafeking was besieged, was untiring in his efforts to come to the
rescue. With Colonel Plumer were the following officers: Majors Pilsen
and Bird, Captain Maclaren (13th Hussars), the notable polo-player,
Captain Blackburn (Cameronians), Captain Rolt (York and Lancashire
Regiment), Lieutenant Rankin (7th Hussars), Lieutenant French (Royal
Irish Regiment), and several others.

On the 19th of October a party of the enemy was suddenly met on the
Rhodesian side of the river by a reconnoitring patrol. The Dutchmen
fired on the patrol, wounding a trooper. Captain Glynn went off for the
purpose of locating the enemy, and discovered the presence of a Boer
column in his neighbourhood. Two days later a smart skirmish took place
between a strong patrol and the enemy, who was encountered at Rhodes's
Drift, with the result that two troopers were killed and two wounded.
The Boers afterwards took up a strong position on a kopje at Pont's
Drift, fired in a dastardly manner on Major Pilsen, Sergeant Shepstone,
and his party while they were removing dead and wounded to an ambulance
and a cart brought for the purpose, and their work of mercy had to be
carried on under the most trying and aggravating conditions. There were
also some skirmishes at Crocodile River. An armoured train got within
about 1500 yards of a Boer laager three miles south of Crocodile Poort.
Captain Blackburn (Cameronians) was seriously wounded and died on the
road to Tuli, whither the British retired by Colonel Plumer's orders. It
is satisfactory to note that Sergeant Shepstone, who gallantly came to
Captain Blackburn's assistance, received his commission.

Skirmishing took place at odd intervals, and Colonel Plumer continued to
send reconnoitring parties up and down the river. On many occasions
these were fired upon, but without serious result. On the 28th, however,
Captains White and Glynn reconnoitred a kopje at Pont's Drift--each
approaching the hill on a different side--whereupon a brisk skirmish
ensued, when five of their men were shot by the enemy and four wounded.
Later on, after his reconnaissance westward along the Crocodile River,
Colonel Plumer returned to Tuli. Boer commandoes were at that time
supposed to have retired to the neighbourhood of either Pietersburg or
Mafeking. Colonel Spreckley's camp was shelled by the enemy on the 3rd
of November, and the mules and horses belonging to the squadron promptly
stampeded.

To return to Mafeking. The Boers had now begun their activities, and
miniature artillery duels were continually taking place between the
British and the enemy. More guns were brought to bear upon the position
by Cronje and his gang, and they set to work to do as much damage as
possible. The Convent was hit, but no one was injured. Finally, after
several days of bombardment and reciprocated shelling, Colonel
Baden-Powell decided to give the enemy a taste of cold steel. A council
of war was held, and on the 27th of October a most courageous night
attack was made on the Boer trenches by Captain FitzClarence. As
darkness descended, the little force stole noiselessly out of their
stronghold with fixed bayonets, creeping like cats along the veldt,
breath even being almost suspended lest a sound should put the enemy on
guard. Then, on a given signal--a whistle from Captain FitzClarence--the
men dashed forward on the foe, cheering lustily, while from the town the
echoes and the voices of anxious watchers gave back cheer for cheer. The
tussle was short and sharp. It was a case of fifty desperate men with
fifty bayonets dealing destruction to a roaring rabble under the
tarpaulins! Then came a storm of hostile bullets from the rear of the
trenches, a swift reply from the attacking party, followed by Captain
FitzClarence's whistle, "Cease fire. Scatter homeward." Under a
withering fire the forces obeyed, returning as they went, in silence and
in darkness. Then came the roll-call. Six were killed and eleven
wounded, but of the latter all returned, none being left on the field.
Here we may read Colonel Baden-Powell's general order:--

     "The Colonel commanding wishes to record his high appreciation
     of the dash with which the attack on the enemy's trenches was
     carried out last night by D squadron of the Protectorate
     Regiment, under Captain FitzClarence, supported by the Cape
     Police under Lieutenant Murray. The whole operation was
     executed exactly as was wanted, and the results, though gained
     at the cost of several gallant lives, were entirely successful
     and of great value. By this action the intention of the enemy
     to push their intrenchments to within rifle distance of the
     town has been checked, and the heavy loss that they have
     sustained has given them a wholesome fear of the dash of our
     men, and they have had an introduction to cold steel such as
     will not encourage them willingly to face it again. The
     steadiness of the Town-Guard on the east front was noticeable
     later in the night, when the enemy had a scare, and broke into
     wild firing, to which the guard made reply.--By order (Signed)
     E. H. CECIL, Major, C.S.O."

After this the Boers brought a big gun to bear on the position, and
blazed away at a distance of seven miles from the town. Out of sixteen
shells only one struck. This set fire to a store. The huge weapon
evidently proved a white elephant, for before long the besiegers, much
to the joy of the besieged, ceased their attempts to work it.

But heavy bombardment still took place. The Boer hosts attacked the town
from three sides at once and were steadily repulsed by the British
Maxims. All through the week Cronje's commandoes indulged in desultory
rifle-fire, now and again throwing a shell by way of variety, to which
attentions Colonel Baden-Powell and his smart garrison responded with
such zest and animation, that the Boers, discomfited, declared that the
place contained "not men, but devils!"

On Tuesday, the 31st of October, in the early hours of the morning, some
hard fighting again took place. Colonel Walford and his detachment of
the British South African Police held the fort called Cannon Kopje
against an advance of the enemy, made under cover of four heavy guns and
one 100-pounder. The affair ended in an entire defeat of the Dutchmen,
but not before some gallant lives were sacrificed. The following order,
issued the same day by Colonel Baden-Powell, describes the action:--

     "The detachment of British South African Police forming the
     garrison at Cannon Kopje under the command of Colonel Walford,
     have this day performed a brilliant service by the gallant and
     determined stand made by them on their post in the face of a
     very hot shell-fire from the enemy. The intention of the Boers
     had been, after getting their guns and attacking force into
     position during the night, to storm Cannon Kopje at daybreak,
     and thence to bombard the south-east position of the town and
     carry it with a large force. They collected in the Molopo
     Valley. Their whole scheme has been defeated by the gallant
     resistance made by the garrison at Cannon Kopje, who not only
     refused to budge from their position under a cross-fire of
     artillery, but succeeded in inflicting such losses on the enemy
     as compelled them to retreat. In this way they were assisted by
     the timely and well-directed fire of a seven-pounder, under
     Lieutenant Murchison. The Colonel Commanding deplores the loss
     of the gallant officers and men who fell this day. By the death
     of the Hon. Douglas Henry Marsham and Captain Charles Alexander
     Kerr Pechell, Her Majesty loses two officers of exceptional
     promise and soldier-like qualifications. The Colonel Commanding
     believes he is giving voice to the feeling of the whole
     Mafeking garrison in expressing the deepest sympathy with the
     British South African Police in their loss. At the same time he
     congratulates Colonel Walford and his men on their brilliant
     achievement."

A pathetic funeral followed, the honoured dead being wrapped in the
Union Jack, and buried by the grim light of a lantern, while the Rector
and Roman Catholic Chaplain each said over the graves the last solemn
words according to the rites of his Church. There was no Dead March, nor
were any volleys fired, but the dumb grief of the community told its own
tale of mourning.

[Illustration: NIGHT SORTIE FROM MAFEKING.

Drawing by R. Caton Woodville.]


                               KIMBERLEY

Kimberley, as has been said, is by no means a picturesque place. On
first acquaintance it appears to be surrounded by redoubts or forts,
being dotted with mounds of greyish slag, technically called "tailings,"
which represent the refuse soil from which the diamondiferous ore has
been extracted. The buildings are somewhat formal and unpleasing, being
for the most part of corrugated iron, and conveying the impression that
they are constructed with a view to being carried off at any moment.
There are a few private residences, which the orthodox house-agent
might style "handsome" or "commodious." The hotel is merely useful as a
place for passengers to alight at and depart from, and that it is no
more may be accounted for by the fact that Kimberley hospitality is so
double-handed that visitors are seldom left to the tender mercies of
public caterers. The Kimberley Club dispenses hospitality royally, and
for this reason travellers are made independent of outside luxury. Round
Kimberley are the suburbs of Beaconsfield, Kenilworth, and Gladstone.
Beaconsfield, which was once a growing town, has become stunted, while
Kenilworth has blossomed forth under the auspices of Mr. Rhodes.

When the Boer Ultimatum was pronounced, all eyes turned naturally in the
direction of the Diamond City, and as naturally the Diamond City, under
the direction of Colonel Kekewich, prepared to defend itself. The
population to be protected numbered some 33,000, of whom 19,000 were
blacks. Among these latter were 4000 women. At that time it was doubtful
if the Zulus, Matabeles, and Basutos were to be trusted, and
consequently the position of the Colonel in supreme command was one of
great responsibility. Fortunately the place was stocked with arms and
ammunition, though the number of the regulars was absolutely inadequate
to the requirements of so large an area.

The Imperial garrison sent to Kimberley for the defence only consisted
of the 23rd Company Royal Garrison Artillery, with six 7-pounder
mountain guns, Major Chamier commanding; one section of the 7th Field
Company Royal Engineers, under Lieutenant M'Clintock; Captain Gorle and
three non-commissioned officers and men of the Army Service Corps, and
the headquarters and four companies of the Loyal North Lancashire
Regiment, under Major Murray; in all, 564 officers and men. The staff
included Lieutenant-Colonel Kekewich, North Lancashire Regiment,
commanding; Major Scott-Turner, Royal Highlanders (staff officer);
Captain O'Meara, Royal Engineers (Intelligence Officer); and Lieutenant
MacInnes, Royal Engineers. The volunteer forces, when first called out
for active service, consisted of one battery Diamond Fields Artillery,
six 7-pounder field-guns, Major May, 3 officers, and 90 rank and file;
Diamond Fields Horse, Major Rodger, 6 officers, 142 rank and file;
Kimberley Regiment, Colonel Finlayson, 14 officers, 285 rank and
file:--total all ranks, 1060.

The whole garrison was reviewed, and a town-guard was formed at
Beaconsfield, under the command of Major Fraser. Colonel Harris
commanded the Volunteers, most of these being employees of the De Beers
mines. Preparations were made for the arrival of Mr. Cecil Rhodes, who
was hastening to the scene of his early life-work, and for whose body,
alive or dead, it was reported the Boers had sent out an offer of
£5000. The artillery was exercised and defences were erected on all
sides. Ladies and children made haste to leave by every train, but one
lady of note, the Hon. Mrs. Rochfort Maguire, remained. The Commandant
of Kimberley gave orders that trees should be felled and the bush
cleared, in order to open a fine field for firing, the garrison to a man
exerting themselves so as to give a warm reception to the enemy directly
he should show a head above the kopje. On the 12th of October Mr. Cecil
Rhodes arrived. His entry was somewhat melodramatic, as his train was
delayed and spies were actually on the platform lying in wait for him.
Fortunately he was not recognised. The magnetism of his presence added
fresh zest to the proceedings in the town, while the calm confidence of
his bearing became absolutely infectious. In fact, he soon delighted
every one by stating that he considered Kimberley to be every bit "as
safe as Piccadilly." At this time the town was well provisioned and the
mines were kept working. Most of the garrison occupied the brigade
grounds, while the detachment of regulars and the Kimberley regiments
were stationed at the Sanatorium. The Town-Guard soon numbered 2000.

Skirmishing took place on Friday, the 14th of October, and on the
following day there were more encounters. One squadron in an armoured
train was held up by the Boers, and their attack was supported by a
second force. The second squadron of the Protectorate regiment grandly
repelled the attack. The train, in which were several Imperial officers,
was uninjured. The Boer artillery gave way at last, and the forces
withdrew, but not before having sustained heavy loss.

On the 15th a proclamation was made establishing martial law in
Griqualand West and Bechuanaland. Persons not members of the defending
forces were ordered to register their firearms, and no one was allowed
to leave their houses between nine at night and six in the morning. The
canteens without permits were opened only for a few hours during the
day. Death was to be the punishment for acts contrary to civilised
warfare. Fourteen Streams and Vryburg were now evacuated, the police
detachments retiring from them on Kimberley.

In order to maintain internal order, Colonel Kekewich divided the town
into four sub-districts, and the people were cautioned against holding
communication with the Queen's enemies. The consumption of meat was
regulated, each man being allowed 1 lb. daily, while the exports of
foodstuffs and forage were prohibited. Roads were closed, and no one
without authority or a permit was allowed to pass in or out. The
defences everywhere were strengthened.

On the 21st of October, an armoured train that went out to reconnoitre
discovered the enemy in the neighbourhood of Spyfontein. A proclamation
having been issued by the Boers at Vryburg annexing Bechuanaland, most
probably for the purpose of impressing the disloyal Dutch, Colonel
Kekewich forthwith issued another, threatening that British subjects
found assisting the Queen's enemies would be summarily dealt with as
base rebels. He also declared that, in spite of the hoisting of the
Vierkleur in Vryburg, the status of British subjects in Griqualand and
Bechuanaland would remain unaltered. An armoured train was again engaged
on this date, but only one man was killed. Two trucks of dynamite,
however, which had been safely removed, were blown up by the Boers. The
town was now completely isolated, the railway line being cut north and
south.

On the 24th inst. the garrison, supported by two armoured trains, had a
fresh and an exceedingly animated encounter with the enemy. Colonel
Scott Turner and 270 mounted volunteers marched north to Macfarlane's
Farm. There they off-saddled and kept a look-out for the Boers. Soon
afterwards they appeared, and Colonel Turner opened fire. The Boers
promptly intrenched themselves behind a sandheap, and from thence kept
up a hot fusilade. To Colonel Turner's assistance there came the Loyal
North Lancashire Regiment, followed at noon by their Colonel--Colonel
Murray--with two guns, two Maxims, and 70 mounted men.

[Illustration: AN ARMOURED TRAIN]

The Boers advanced on Colonel Murray and tried to cut off the party, and
in endeavouring to frustrate their efforts Colonel Turner found himself
in the thick of a furious fire which burst from a dam wall 500 yards on
his left.

The British guns promptly began to blaze on the enemy, who very briskly
responded. In the end, however, they were compelled to fall back. At
this juncture the Lancashires, whose pluck and dexterity were
magnificent throughout, hastily occupied the position, fixed bayonets,
and gallantly drove off the enemy whenever he turned to make a stand.
The fight, which was in every way a brilliant success, lasted four long
hours. The British loss was three killed and twenty-one wounded, while
that of the Boers was considerable. Commandant Botha was said to be
among the killed. During this engagement Kimberley, as may be imagined,
was in a state of frantic excitement, and the return of the troops was
looked for by swarms of people, including women, who crowded the
trenches and received the gallant defenders with great enthusiasm. Mr.
Rhodes afterwards made an amusing speech to the Volunteers, complimented
them on their splendid work, and explained that there was one man whom
the Boers wished to capture, and that man was himself. Owing to the
efficiency of the troops, however, he declared that he rejoiced in a
sense of complete security. Cheers followed, for the Queen, the
Governor, Mr. Rhodes, and the officers of the corps. After this things
were fairly quiet, though the garrison remained on the alert. Lord
Methuen, it became known, had started from the Orange River on the 22nd,
and was daily decreasing the distance between his relieving force and
the town; and, in order to meet his energetic advance, the Boers were
unable to afford a sufficient number of troops to force the town into
surrender. So Kimberley kept up its spirits--it viewed life with "one
auspicious and one drooping eye"--mingling the discharge of guns with
the chime of marriage-bells. This is no figure of speech, for there was
actually a wedding--two people, at least, having found time to be
romantic in their love amid the storm and stress of war. A dance and a
concert also took place. Indeed, things were conducted with such high
spirit and in so convivial a manner that it might have been imagined
that the Boers were commissioned to supply the fireworks, and that a
species of "Brock's benefit" was got up whenever events were inclined to
wax monotonous. Reports computed the investing force at 4000, and it was
further stated that General Cronje's commando would be reinforced by the
arrival of some 1500 more. Yet the gallant little town smiled within
itself and said "The more the merrier." Colonel Scott Turner made a
reconnaissance on the 1st of November, found the enemy posted on a
kopje, was thundered at with thirteen shells, but returned with his
force in safety. On the 4th of November Commandant Wessels invited
Colonel Kekewich to hand over the troops and town on pain of
bombardment. The exact terms of the invitation are not known, but some
portions of the communication were as follows:--

     "In case your Honour should determine not to comply with this
     demand, I hereby request your Honour to allow all women and
     children to leave Kimberley, so that they may be placed out of
     danger, and for this purpose your Honour is granted time from
     noon on Saturday, November 4, 1899, to 6 A.M. on Monday,
     November 6, 1899. I further give notice that during that time I
     shall be ready to receive all Afrikander families who wish to
     remove from Kimberley, and also to offer liberty to depart to
     all women and children of other nations desirous of leaving."

The Boers soon began to receive the reinforcements which have been
mentioned. These came from the direction of Mafeking, that place having
proved too much a "spitfire" for their liking. As a last resource, they
directed their attention to Kimberley, and by way of exercise blew up
some £3000 worth of dynamite which was stored in some huts belonging to
the De Beers Company. While these exciting events were taking place, and
with the roar of intermittent explosions in his ears, Mr. Rhodes pursued
a placid way. His labours were eminently horticultural--at least so they
appeared on the surface. He engaged himself at Kenilworth, the suburb
which he may be said to have created, in planting an avenue a mile long
with orange-trees, espalier vines, and pepper-trees. It was called his
Siege Avenue. There was suggestion in the arrangement, and the mind
instinctively conjured up visions of mystery--mystery somewhat prolonged
and clinging, with spice of a stimulating kind thrown in.

News from the Orange River, which came in by fits and starts, hinted
that after the evacuation of Colesberg would come the abandonment of
Stormberg. Stormberg was intended to be the depôt where stores, tents,
ammunition, and all the commissariat details of the Third Division under
General Gatacre would be accumulated. These stores, owing to the Boer
advance from Bethulie and Aliwal North, were now being removed to
Queenstown, some sixty miles down the line.



                              CHAPTER III

                                 NATAL


In consequence of the incursion of about 3000 refugees--some of them
most undesirable in character--it was deemed expedient to issue a
proclamation of martial law in Natal. This was followed by the seizure
of the Transvaal National Bank at Durban, a most exciting episode, which
caused quite a ferment in the town. All around the offices a curious and
somewhat rowdy rabble congregated, and it was found necessary to guard
the premises with Bluejackets and marines. However, after the place had
been searched, the men, looking strangely transmogrified in their
kharki, returned to Her Majesty's ship _Tartar_, and affairs went on as
usual. At the Cape, owing to widespread rumours of disloyalty, Sir
Alfred Milner issued the following proclamation, dated October 28:--

     "Whereas it has been reported to me that a proclamation has
     been made by or on behalf of the Government of the South
     African Republic purporting to declare as part of the territory
     of the Republic certain portions of that part of this Colony
     situated north of the Orange River, and which have been invaded
     by the forces of the said Government; and whereas it is
     necessary to warn all Her Majesty's subjects, especially those
     resident in the aforesaid portions of this Colony, of the
     invalidity of such proclamation:

     "Now therefore, in virtue of the authority committed to me as
     Governor of this Colony, I do hereby proclaim and make known
     that any such proclamation, if made, is null and void and of no
     effect, and I do hereby further warn and admonish all Her
     Majesty's subjects, especially those resident in the aforesaid
     portions of this Colony, that they do, in accordance with their
     duty and allegiance, disregard such proclamation, as being of
     no force and effect whatsoever, and observe their obligations
     to her Majesty, her Crown and Government, and in no way
     voluntarily accept or recognise the Government of the South
     African Republic in any part of this Colony which may have been
     proclaimed territory of that Republic.

     "And I do further warn that any one failing, in contravention
     of the law, to obey the terms of this proclamation, will render
     himself liable to be prosecuted for the crime of high treason."

To Mr. Chamberlain he wrote on the subject on the same date:--

     "It is impossible accurately to find out what has happened as
     regards the alleged annexation by the Government of the South
     African Republic or Orange Free State of portions of the Cape
     Colony.

     "No copies of any proclamation by either Government to that
     effect have reached me here, but news coming from various
     parts of districts west and north of Kimberley clearly show
     that the people there credit the annexation theory.

     "It seems, however, more probable on the whole that it is the
     Government of the South African Republic which has annexed the
     district north of the Vaal River.

     "With the consent of Ministers, I issued yesterday the
     proclamation contained in my previous message, in order to
     check the mischief which this widespread report is causing."

Apropos of Sir Alfred Milner's letter, it must be mentioned that several
of the Bechuanaland Dutch had openly joined the Boers; and on the
occasion of the hoisting of the Transvaal flag in Vryburg, Commandant
Delarey took occasion to deliver himself of an effective speech, in
which he said that the flag of the country was now floating over the
whole Orange River, and that the flag of Britain would never again do so
unless it were hoisted over the dead bodies of the Burghers. At Klipdam
also the Boers put in an appearance, and celebrated their incursion by
holding "at homes" in the Magistrates' Court; but hearing of the British
successes at Kimberley, and judging discretion to be the better part of
valour, they decamped northwards, leaving food and stores behind.

The disaffection of the Dutch was as yet almost confined to the western
border. On the eastern side the inhabitants for the most part were
staunch. Indeed, in the history of the war the splendid loyalty of Natal
as a whole will ever be remembered. Her trials were many and her faith
almost sublime. Weekly the _Times of Natal_ had poured forth its plaint
on the dilatoriness or insouciance of the Imperial Government, yet
nothing was done till those who put their trust in the good faith of the
mother country were deprived of home and fortune, and in their
bitterness were tempted to declare that British protection was as
Dead-Sea fruit--a profitless show, that was apt to turn to ashes in the
mouth. The following letters serve to show the attitude of a staunch
loyalist under the severe strain put upon him, and they are quoted
because they are descriptive, not of individual anxiety and distress,
but of the general feeling of the Colony in those months of supreme
trial.

One letter, dated October 27, began:--

     "Those brave fellows up at Ladysmith have been fighting all
     day. We heard their cannon even after dusk. What is the result,
     I wonder? I fear we shall not hear till to-morrow. That
     essential but most aggravating censor causes such delays, and
     dishes up such garbled accounts of the actual facts, as to
     astound those who know the truth.... There is little chance of
     our being able to attempt even to defend this place. It simply
     means evacuation or surrender, and stand by and see the
     Transvaal flag go up! O England! England! As ever, unprepared."

The next letter, dated October 31, said:--

     "Here we are in peace and quiet, such as it is possible to
     enjoy with the roar of artillery booming over the few miles of
     echoing hills which divide us from the scene of battle and
     bloodshed, torn limbs and ceaseless pain. I am weary of the
     contemplation of all this frightful suffering and brutality....
     I do not know what opportunities you have of obtaining correct
     information, for the trash the papers publish after the real
     facts have been distorted by the censor is as good as useless.
     I hardly like to say too much, as one never knows into whose
     hands one's letters may fall, and our own noble defenders are
     as severe in suppressing the knowledge of the true facts of the
     battles and movements of the forces as any enemy could possibly
     be. However, the game is with the English still.... If only
     Ladysmith is held, the Colony is safe. This shocking flight of
     women and children from town after town is too awful to
     witness. Shame on the British Government to make our Colony the
     scene of this bloody struggle, and leave the handful of
     soldiers sent out all unsupported, unprepared--unprepared as
     usual--all smug and self-confident in the little overcrowded,
     over-comfortable island, and forgetful of the horrors to which
     unfortunate colonists are exposed across the sea."

The Governor of the British prison at Misina, Pomeroy, Natal, wrote in a
similar heart-breaking strain:--

     "I have only time for a few lines. I am tired out, having been
     turned out of house and home by the cursed Boers. I have ridden
     the ninety-one miles to Pietermaritzburg. I and four other
     Government officials had to remain at our posts till the last.
     We had to ride for our lives. I never shall forget these times.
     We waited almost too long--long enough for the five of us to
     have a shot at the advanced guard, of whom we captured two, and
     rode with them to the Volunteer camp, eighteen miles from
     Pomeroy, at Tugela. I never felt like shooting any one before a
     commando of about 400 came down for myself and the magistrate."

In regard to the readiness of Natal to support British supremacy, a
visitor who participated in the raising of the volunteer regiments there
stated that there were 4500 volunteers in the field, three-fourths of
whom were drilled men. They were enrolled at the rate of 200 a day.
Durban a month later raised a splendid corps of colonial scouts for the
purpose of checking Boer raiding. It was composed of some sixty or
seventy men of the best families in the place.

The conduct of the Natal women was especially noteworthy. Their
patience, their fortitude, their eager desire to be of service, their
readiness to face sacrifice, won general esteem. One eye-witness stated
that while shells were hurtling through the air and bursting on the
ground, they--the women-folk of the place--calmly traversed the streets
in ordinary costume and with ordinary demeanour, as though no hostile
Boer or bellowing gun was within a hundred miles of them. Not a trace of
fear or panic was manifest. It was not surprising to learn that a
community boasting such noble specimens of womanhood decided to remain
where they were rather than accept the dubious shelter offered them by
the Boer general.

Mr. Winston Spencer Churchill, writing of the Natalians in the _Morning
Post_, feelingly said: "There are several points to be remembered in
this connection. Firstly, the colonists have had many dealings with the
Boers. They knew their strength; they feared their animosity. But they
have never for one moment lost sight of their obligations as a British
colony. Their loyalty has been splendid. From the very first they warned
the Imperial Government that their territories would be invaded.
Throughout the course of the long negotiations they knew that if war
should come, on them would fall the first fury of the storm.
Nevertheless, they courageously supported and acclaimed the action of
the Ministry. Now at last there is war--bitter war. It means a good deal
to all of us, but more than to any it comes home to the Natalian. He is
invaded; his cattle have been seized by the Boer; his towns are shelled
or captured; the most powerful force on which he relies for protection
is isolated in Ladysmith; his capital is being loopholed and intrenched;
Newcastle has been abandoned, Colenso has fallen, Estcourt is
threatened; the possibility that the whole province will be overrun
stares him in the face. From the beginning he asked for protection. From
the beginning he was promised complete protection; but scarcely a word
of complaint is heard. The townsfolk are calm and orderly, the Press
dignified and sober. The men capable of bearing arms have responded
nobly. Boys of sixteen march with men of fifty to war--to no light, easy
war. The Imperial Light Infantry is eagerly filled. The Imperial Light
Horse can find no more vacancies, not even for those who will serve
without pay. The Volunteers and Town-Guards bear their parts like men."
Of the excellence of the service of the Natalians a great deal remains
to be said. At present the story must proceed.

The arrival of Sir Redvers Buller at Cape Town on the 31st of October
was a signal for general rejoicing. The streets were filled to
overflowing, and cheer after cheer rung from thousands of throats. As
the General drove to Government House, he was greeted by cries of
"Avenge Majuba!" and "Bravo, General!" and by the amount of emotion
expended and the universal expression of relief evidenced, it was plain
that the Cape colonists, like the cockney Londoner, were prepared "to
bet their bottom dollar" on the combination of Sir Redvers Buller and
Mr. Thomas Atkins!

On the 2nd November the Boers proclaimed the Upper Tugela division of
Natal to be Free State Territory, and they seized Colesberg Bridge, some
eighteen miles north of the town of Colesberg, where the road between
that place and Philippolis crosses the Orange River. However, as Orange
River, De Aar, Colesberg, and Stromberg were still held by our forces,
the inhabitants remained confident. Yet reports of the Boer advance on
Colesberg were scarcely reassuring, and rumours of increased
disaffection among the Dutch farmers in this region were rife.

It was a curious fact that some of the Boers started from Johannesburg
for the frontier wearing in their hats the national colours, red, white,
and blue--and green, with above them a yellow band, thus completing the
insignia of the United South Africa for which they were to fight. It
would be interesting to know how the red, white, and blue became
associated with the green, and whether Aylward, the agitator, and his
Fenian friends introduced it for the purpose of giving prominence to the
sympathy of the Anti-English brotherhood in the Emerald Isle. The
disloyal Natal Dutch, such of them as there then were, were
distinguished by a red rose badge. These signs were of no consequence in
themselves, but they served to demonstrate the preconcerted nature of
Boer actions, which were supposed by certain persons to have been a
sudden and spontaneous outcome of British oppression.

Racial feeling grew stronger and fiercer day by day, and Mr. Kruger's
threat to "stagger humanity" was by some declared to be within an ace of
being fulfilled. The Boer is inherently as tough as the Briton, and as
obstinate: he was now well equipped for warfare, well led, and the
chances of a terrific and bloody struggle seemed hourly to become more
and more certain. Fortunately, each day brought our troops nearer to the
Cape, and after the 9th of November they began to disembark--a total, so
far, of 11,000 in all. At first sight this military multitude seemed an
imposing addition to our force, but, in view of the losses we had
sustained and the general complications of the position, some 100,000
was nearer the figure required. However, the Home authorities chose to
send out their help in driblets, and the same Home authorities were
supposed to know how the driblets might be adequately disposed. It was
only to the ignorant "man in the street" that the problem of how to meet
the massed armies of the Boers with diffused handfuls of troops became
incomprehensible.

Among the misfortunes with which the British had to contend was the
unfit state of the horses after prolonged travel. Horses are intensely
liable to sea-sickness; they also suffer much from being cribbed,
cabined, and confined for any length of time; and the difference between
the state of the Australian and the British animals on landing was very
marked. The former were in good working fettle, while the latter had
swollen and stiff joints, and were generally below par. The New Zealand
chargers were all that could be desired, and they made an excellent show
when compared with those of some of the other mounted regiments.
Horse-sickness had also to be contended with, and it was with great
difficulty averted. Some of the officers, however, discovered that by
keeping the horses protected by their nosebags during the dewy hours
of early morning the liability to the complaint was lessened. The
question of horses was a serious one, almost as important as the
question of guns. The exceeding mobility of the Boer army for long had
been a matter of surprise, if not to the initiated, at least to the
general public, and, as it later appeared, to the Government itself.
They had sent out important generals and learned tacticians, and a
fairly large and unwieldy mass of men, who were bound by their healthy
appetites to stick to their base and hug the railway lines, while the
enemy shifted about with the most annoying and confounding velocity,
delighting to deceive as to their position, and in their deception being
for the most part eminently successful. There is a passage in the
Scriptures that mentions that "the king of Israel is come out to seek a
flea as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountain," and this
quotation on the approach of our weighty military machine, the Boers,
ever Biblical, must have been inclined to remember and to appreciate.

[Illustration: Rt. Hon. SIR REDVERS HENRY BULLER, K.C.B., V.C.

Photo by Knight, Aldershot.]

The opinion seemed prevalent, particularly in Colonial circles, that
English generals, in consequence of their European or Indian
experiences, were unequal to a struggle with the "slim" and shifty
Boers. Laing's Nek, Ingogo, and Majuba had all proved that some
extraordinary weakness, either tactically or mentally, seemed to possess
the bravest warriors in the face of this incomprehensible foe. Since the
date of Majuba the ways of the Boers had become still more of a
conundrum. They had kept up their habit of sharpshooting, and had
acquired an insight into German tactics. For all that, on occasion
certain of their old commanders resorted to the primitive tricks of the
Zulus, and advanced in horn fashion, keeping one horn in ambush as long
as possible, so as to create a surprise for an unprepared enemy. Even to
eminent tacticians like General Clery and others, the blend of modern
German and antique Zulu in the ordering of war must have been
confounding, and it is scarcely surprising that they took some little
time to master the subject.

The landing, on the 8th November, of the Naval Brigade with twenty guns
for the defence of Durban was a move in the right direction, and the
arrival and marching in of the brigade was an inspiriting sight. The
streets swarmed with an enthusiastic multitude that welcomed the jolly
Jack Tar with delight, and cheered itself hoarse, almost drowning the
vigorous strains of the band of the _Terrible_, which played outside the
Town-Hall. Captain Percy Scott of the _Terrible_, inventor of the now
celebrated gun-carriages, replaced Major Bethune as commandant of the
forces defending the port, while the latter officer returned to the
active command of the Uitlander corps.

The tide of reinforcement now began to flow evenly into Cape Colony and
Natal, and there was great excitement owing to the arrival of the
_Moor_, which left Southampton on October the 21st. Among those on board
were Lieutenant-General Lord Methuen, commanding the First Division of
the Field Force; Major-General Sir C. F. Clery, commanding the Second
Division; and Major-General Sir W. F. Gatacre, commanding the Third
Division; and a large number of officers for service on the Staff.


                      THE INVASION OF CAPE COLONY

The position of affairs in the direction of the Orange River was at
first somewhat stationary. The British were awaiting the arrival of
troops and keeping on the alert; the Boers were making proclamations and
annexing adjacent villages.

A column from Cape Colony had started, and more troops were pushing up
as fast as train could carry them in the direction of De Aar. A letter
from a British officer from that place describes the state of affairs on
the 20th of October. He said:--

"This place is to be a big base when the British troops arrive; 10,000
are to come here, but are not expected for at least a month. At present
we are the only regiment here, and have to keep the line open and guard
all the stores coming up for the 10,000 troops. We have not got half
enough men, as the front of our position is nearly five miles, and we
cannot watch it properly. Our position is strong as long as we can hold
the hills; but if the Boers can get artillery near us, they will wipe us
out in a few hours without getting within rifle range at all, as we have
no guns ourselves. We keep on telegraphing for them, but the officials
at home and at Cape Town do not seem to understand the position. The
worst of this place is that there is not a loyal native within twenty
miles of us, and they are only waiting for a good opportunity to rise.
We can only be ready for them--that is, we cannot attack them, as they
have not yet declared openly for the Transvaal, though they are all
spies, and give the Boers information on all our dispositions."

In this short letter we find the keynote of all our subsequent troubles.
The complete and almost absurd confidence of the British, supported as
it was by valour without wisdom or activity, was a "voice" and nothing
more. Deeply have we suffered since those words were written, for an
arrogant under-estimation of the enemy, a reprehensible delay in
preparing for him, and a parsimonious system of carrying out those
preparations when attempted. However, it is useless to cry over spilt
milk.

To thoroughly appreciate the situation at this period it is necessary to
understand the direction in which our troops were moving. Modder River,
Hope Town, and Orange River are situated on the railway between
Kimberley and the junction of the lines which run south to Cape Town and
Port Elizabeth respectively. De Aar, of which we began to hear so much,
is an important station at the apex of the triangle, just over 500 miles
from Cape Town, and here towards the end of the month of October many
troops were congregating. Here, though no hostilities were actually
taking place, there was a good deal of simmering activity; for it must
be remembered that De Aar Junction was our advanced supply base in the
Colony, and owed its strategical importance at this critical period to
the fact that it was the junction of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth
railways. It is situated about sixty miles from the Orange River and
Free State border.

The contrast at this time between camps British and camps Dutch in the
neighbourhood of the border was curious. The Boers were prepared, taking
their ease. The British were in suspense. Disaffection was visible on
all sides, and yet inaction, irritating inaction, was obligatory.
Morning, noon, and night a perennial sand-storm blew; overhead, the sun
grilled and scorched. Meals, edibles, and liquids were diluted with 10
per cent. of grit, and when perchance Tommy strove to strain his
hardly-earned beer--to make a filter of a butter-cloth--phut! would come
a gust of wind and bring the experiment to a melancholy conclusion. Poor
Thomas's temper was much tried! He was, of necessity, an exceedingly
temperate fellow in those days, but when he got a pot of beer he
preferred it to be beer, and not porridge. He did not relish in his
mouth the same thing that the wind was distributing impartially into
ears and eyes. He said he could take in--at the pores--enough of that to
suit his liking. But he was no grumbler, as a rule. He worked hard and
incessantly, Colonel Barter determining to keep his men of the Yorkshire
Light Infantry quite up to the mark. It was necessary to take every
precaution against surprise, and for commanding officers to remain
eternally on the _qui vive_. It needed considerable tact to order
sufficient work, and only sufficient. It was dangerous to over-fatigue
troops who might be required to leap to arms at any moment; it was also
risky to allow active men in a hot sun to give way to inertia. There was
the never-ceasing routine of guards and picquets, the practice of route
marching and field manoeuvres, and the daily round of minor camp
duties to keep the warriors hale and hearty, and prepare their thews for
a tough tussle. A regular system of scouting was matutinally carried on,
and it was thought that the enemy would not be able to encroach beyond
his border without enjoying a startling reception. At this time he was
not visible, and all that scouts could detect, beside some innocent
hares and springbok among the hills, was now and then a flying horseman
who disappeared on their approach.

But the Boers were not far off. They were encamped close to the border.
One adventurous individual, for his personal satisfaction, performed the
feat of travelling north and swimming across the Orange River to
reconnoitre. In the darkness of the night he stole out, plunged
cautiously into the river, clothes and all, and swam safely to the other
side. Then striking out in a north-easterly direction, he made for a
small kopje overlooking the Boer camp. Meanwhile the moon had sailed
out, and began to throw a sheet of silver over the panorama. Below, the
three lines of tents were outlined, and these were flanked and
interspersed with multitudinous waggons, which formed a chain almost
along the entire length of the valley. In the early dawn more objects
became discernible, the flickering red tongues of the camp-fires, the
winking eye of a lantern that hung from a pole. By this illumination it
was possible to note the general scene of disorder. Scattered garments
and goods in promiscuous array--ammunition and provisions, harness,
saddles, biltong, and gin-bottles--a multifarious, slovenly litter, shed
here, there, and everywhere. Only two sentries were visible, and these
our friend stealthily evaded. One Cerberus sat on the ground with his
back planted against a waggon wheel yawning dolefully, and farther on
slouched another, hands in pockets, head on chest, walking back and
forwards with the air of an automaton. The individual creeping past
them, close under their noses, smiled softly to himself. How simple to
sweep off a dozen or two of the inmates of the camp before these
so-called sentries recovered from their dozing. Fifty men and fifty
bayonets could have got in without difficulty, and the rout of the
rebels would have been an affair of moments. Now, perhaps before
nightfall the whole commando would have melted away!

Presently at the bottom of the kopje came horsemen--some five of
them--galloping along, and the adventurous one made haste to hide. The
Boer patrol passed within some two hundred yards of him, and he was
safe. It was now time to hurry off. The day was breaking. Again a plunge
into the icy river, again a fight with the racing current, again a safe
landing, this time on the British bank. So the escapade ended, but it
enabled those interested to form a fair idea of the lack of organisation
among the Dutch, and to argue that if once they should leave their
naturally strong fortifications and intrenchments, the first united and
sustained attack on the part of the British would mean their certain
discomfiture.

At the end of October the Border Regiment arrived upon the scene. The
Yorks almost immediately struck camp and prepared to entrain for Orange
River; but presently a counter-order arrived, and, much to their regret,
the regiment again resumed its former routine.

The place at this time was under military law, and precautions were
rigorously taken against spies. The railway stations were cautiously
guarded night and day, and none was allowed to approach without proper
authority. Troops soon began to pour through on the way to Orange River,
whence the advance was shortly to take place. Tremendous labour came on
the hands of Lieut.-General Sir F. Forestier Walker, who took trips
along the lines of communication to ascertain that all arrangements were
satisfactory.

[Illustration: TYPES OF ARMS--THE MAXIM GUN. PHOTO BY GREGORY, LONDON]

In readiness for the influx of troops new sidings were constructed to
north and south of the railway station, and the little karoo junction
began to assume an air of wonderful importance. Among the innovations
was a branch of the Standard Bank adjoining Friedlater's Store, showing
that, though not a Klondyke, this place, which has been described as
"the windiest, dustiest, most unfinished, most inhospitable corner of
the South African wilderness, the veritable jumping-off place of the
globe," was fast becoming the base of gigantic military operations. The
outlying farms were still in occupation, though inhabitants were few.
These apparently were indifferent to the progress of coming events, but
possibly at that time they were engaged in careful investigation as to
the side of the bread which held the most butter before committing
themselves to an attitude. Their sole obvious desire was that patrols
should not omit to close the gates after them whenever they chanced to
pass through their domains. The Border Regiment soon after its arrival
moved to Naauwpoort, and a battery and a half of artillery swelled the
little garrison. The development of the place now went on more rapidly.

Mr. E. F. Knight, the brilliant correspondent of the _Morning Post_,
wrote an interesting description of this now important locality only a
few days before he had the misfortune to lose his arm through the
treachery of the Boers. He said:--

     "The township, which surrounds the railway station, is merely a
     congregation of a few houses belonging to people connected with
     the railway. It stands in the midst of a desert--a dusty,
     treeless plain covered with sparse low sage brush and enclosed
     by rocky ridges. The camp is ever increasing in size, but, as I
     write, it consists of two encampments, one to the north and one
     to the south of the township, all the troops being under
     canvas. In the North Camp are the 2nd Battalion of the King's
     Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, eight hundred strong, and a
     field-battery and a half-battery (15-pounders), and in the
     South Camp, in which I have pitched my tent, is the remount
     camp, with a company of the Army Service Corps, a supply
     detachment of the same corps, with a field-bakery, two
     half-sections of the Royal Engineers, a company of the Army
     Ordnance Corps, and a detachment of the Volunteer Medical Staff
     Corps. A wing of the Berkshire Regiment has also just come in
     from Naauwpoort, which we have abandoned as being untenable by
     the small force which could at present be spared to defend it.
     There are at De Aar now about two thousand men all told,
     including Major Rimington's two hundred scouts. More artillery
     is expected from Cape Town, and by the time this letter reaches
     England we shall probably be largely reinforced. Several
     redoubts, lines of intrenchments, and sangars on the heights
     protect the camps, and a few small guns have been posted on the
     neighbouring kopjes. The surrounding country is being well
     patrolled, and we cannot well be taken by surprise.... In
     short, one sees here all that skilled, laborious, indispensable
     preparation for the campaign of which the British public knows
     so little, and which never receives its due credit at home.

     "It is wonderful, indeed, that the Boers did not attempt to
     seize this valuable prize a week or so ago, when the camp was
     practically undefended, and when our officers, momentarily
     expecting attack, were sleeping in their boots. Our position is
     far from secure even now; our force here is insignificant, and
     it seems that the Boers are getting nearer. They have crossed
     the river at various points.

     "Our scouts have been in touch with their commandoes. We have
     had some false alarms since I have been here; it is rumoured
     to-day that they are close to, and that the attack on De Aar is
     but a question of hours. But still the heavily-laden trains
     come in with their valuable freight and the military stores
     accumulate. It is to be hoped that we shall have the men, too,
     without delay."

[Illustration: SERGEANT OF THE KING'S ROYAL RIFLES.

Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

In the above words we have, repeated, the story of suspense and anxiety
that was told by one and all who had the misfortune to spend October and
November on the Transvaal border, a story of brave Britons, practically
unarmed--heroically valorous but impotent--standing almost in the
teeth of the enemy and sickening with hope deferred.

The Dutchmen came to work much fresher. The warrior-farmer was
untrammelled by red tape--unwearied by routine. He was not hampered by
minute regulations, though he was bound to look after himself and rely
on his own resources. He provided his own provisions, his own waggon and
horses, but the Government in the event of his requiring it supplied him
with the necessaries of the campaign. He could have luxuries _ad
libitum_ sent from home, and while battle was not absolutely going on he
had little to do but to eat, drink, and sleep. Drills and field
exercises were unknown, though, of course, each had to take his turn at
guard duty. In action the operations of the Boer commandoes were
presided over by field-cornets, and in camp the work was carried out by
corporals, who superintended the supply department--the munitions of
"war" and "mouth," as we call them, on which the fighting line depended
for ammunition and food.

General Wood arrived at De Aar on the 4th of November and took over the
command of the troops. His first action was to employ the Engineers and
some Cape boys to throw up defensive works and erect sangars on a
ridge--some 2000 yards from the camp--which by a sheer accident had not
been seized by the Boers. From this point of vantage it was possible for
the British guns to command the plain for many miles round. He then put
the place under martial law, as Dutchmen and spies were slinking about
in the neighbourhood of the railway and the camps. The General's
regulations ran thus:--

     "No person is allowed to remain in or to quit De Aar without a
     permit signed by the Magistrate, and countersigned by the Camp
     Commandant. The permits for railway officials will be signed
     and issued by the heads of the traffic, locomotive, and
     engineering departments, those for postal officials by the
     heads of that department. Any person found selling intoxicating
     liquors to a soldier or to a native or coloured person will be
     immediately apprehended and the whole of his goods will be
     seized. The sale of intoxicating liquors to others can only
     take place between the hours of 11 A.M. and 6 P.M. This
     includes sale of liquors to persons staying in any hotel or
     boarding-house in De Aar. Every person keeping an hotel or
     boarding-house, or any one receiving persons into his private
     house to stay for one night or more, is required to obtain
     permission of the Camp Commandant before doing so. No persons
     other than railway and postal officials, who will be provided
     with a special pass, will be allowed to be out of their houses
     after 9.30 P.M. Any person infringing these regulations will be
     dealt with by martial law."

We must now move in the direction of the Orange River, where more
activities were taking place. Information having been received that the
Boers in great numbers were gathered at Kaffir's Kop, a hill some 500
feet high east of Belmont, a reconnaissance was made in that direction
on the 10th of November. The reconnoitring force was composed of a
couple of squadrons of the 9th Lancers and detachments of the Munster
Fusiliers, the Northumberland Fusiliers, and the Loyal North
Lancashires. With these were a handy lot of mounted infantry and a half
battery of field-artillery. They bivouacked two nights before on the
north side of the bridge, in order to be ready to move on at daybreak.
Early on Thursday morning they marched out, the cavalry forming a wide
screen, behind which were the mounted infantry and guns. Belmont, which
was some twenty-eight miles off, was reached at 2.30, but not a sign of
the Dutchmen was to be seen. The troops consequently returned to
Fincham's Farm, some ten miles back, where they spent the night. In the
morning they went east, where the enemy was reported to have retired.
The object of the reconnaissance was to ascertain the strength of the
enemy, and this was soon achieved, for he was found to be in immense
force in a position of natural strength flanked by huge hills. Some
smart skirmishing ensued. Colonel Gough with a battery of field
artillery engaged the Boers and sent one and a half companies of mounted
infantry to turn the enemy's left flank and discover his laager.
Fighting continued for more than three hours, during which Colonel
Keith-Falconer,[5] Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed. Lieutenant
Wood, North Lancashire Regiment, was shot through the head, and
Lieutenants Bevan and Hall of the Northumberland Fusiliers were also
wounded. An armoured train came to the rescue and attracted the Boer
fire, pouring from two Maxims a withering storm of bullets on the enemy
and inflicting heavy loss. The Dutchmen were discovered to be in great
force all around, and as they blocked the road to Kimberley, the promise
of more spirited engagements was in the air. Already it was ascertained
that a number of culverts on the railway line had been destroyed by the
hostile troops, and rumours of Boer invasion were continually being
brought in.

The next day, amid universal regret, the two gallant officers who had
lost their lives in leading their men against the powerful enemy, were
buried.

Lieutenant Brook (9th Lancers) on the day of the reconnaissance
had a narrow escape, and experiences more exciting than pleasurable.
Early in the morning he had gone on ahead of the column for the purpose
of making a route sketch. This done, he sent it back by his orderly, and
while continuing his investigations found himself confronted with the
enemy. A shower of bullets greeted him. His horse was shot and he was
brought to the ground. It was neck or nothing now, and he ran for dear
life pursued by a horde of mounted Boers. Fortunately he came to a wire
fence, vaulted it, and was for a moment safe. The enemy's ponies could
not follow. But the Boers sent shots after his retreating form, shots
which luckily missed him, and he was enabled to reach two troops of the
9th Lancers which galloped up to the rescue.

On the 12th Lord Methuen arrived, and there was general satisfaction
among the troops. They were now in fine fighting condition, and, having
had one taste of battle, were longing to advance and get in touch with
the enemy.

But the advance of Lord Methuen's column was no simple affair. It must
be remembered that from Cape Town to the base, De Aar, is 500 miles, to
Belmont 591, to Kimberley 647, and to Mafeking 870 miles, and the
railway from place to place needed continual guarding, and especially
the bridges in localities where the disaffected portion of the Dutch
community resided. Lord Methuen's route, too, lay across a species of
dusty Sahara, over boulder-strewn plains with scarcely a tree to offer
shade, though dotted about now and then with some ancient kopjes to vary
the monotony of the South African scene. On these kopjes it was as
likely as not that Boer sharpshooters might already be hidden, for the
affluent Dutchmen forced their poorer countrymen to maintain eyrie-like
positions--padded with blankets and hedged in with boulders--in
readiness for the approach of an army, while they themselves arrived
fresh, spick and span, only on the rumour of battle.

With all its alarms, however, life in camp was not without its
joviality. The Naval Brigade prepared for action laughing and singing,
and Jack Tar indulged in promiscuous hornpipes between the conversations
of his big guns. A correspondent of the Central News Agency gave an
entertaining account of his sojourn among the military. He said:--

"There are, of course, pleasantries and pleasantries. The other night a
correspondent was returning to camp when he was met with the usual
challenge. 'Who goes there?' shrieked the sentry. 'A friend,' replied
the correspondent. 'Stand, friend, and give the countersign,' promptly
demanded the watchful guardian of the camp. The correspondent had
forgotten the countersign. He knew it related to Yarmouth. As a matter
of fact, it was Yarmouth. So he made a desperate bid for bed, and
replied 'Bloaters.' The sentry replied, 'Advance, friend,' and the
scene closed. You doubt this as _ben trovato_. Well, do not doubt any
longer when I plead conviction in personal guilt. I was 'Bloaters.'
Nevertheless, to an active sentrydom, as well as to vigilant curfew, we
were becoming cheerfully accustomed. It is martial law, and the camp is
the centre of Boerdom. Anything, indeed, is welcome, even martial law,
if it relieves boredom at the same time."

On the 14th of November General Wauchope, commanding the Highland
Brigade, arrived on the Orange River, followed a day or two later by
Major-General Sir H. Colvile, who assumed command of the Guards Brigade
and camp north of the river. The First Division was composed of two
brigades. The Ninth was an Infantry Brigade, consisting of portions of
the Northumberland Fusiliers, a wing of the North Lancashires, portions
of the Manchesters, the Yorkshires, and the Northamptonshire Regiment.
The Guards Brigade was composed of the Scots Guards, two battalions of
the Coldstreams, and one of the Grenadiers. To this brigade was attached
the Naval Brigade (Captain Prothero, H.M.S. _Doris_). There were also
two squadrons of the 9th Lancers, "bits" of the Engineers, of the A.S.C.
and the Army Medical Corps--the whole force numbering some 9000 men. The
transport arrangements having been completed, the advance was to be made
in the course of the week. Officers and men were to wear uniform as
similar as possible, in order not to give the sharpshooters a chance of
distinguishing them. The men covered their buttons with mud and sand in
order to make them more of a piece with their kharki, and their
haversacks in the same way were darkened to match.

At this time Naauwpoort and Stormberg were evacuated by order of Sir
Redvers Buller, on the ground that our frontier line was weak and too
much extended. The troops from the former place reinforced De Aar, those
from the latter strengthened Queenstown. The enemy, though he left De
Aar in peace, was active elsewhere. A Boer commando of 1300 to 2000
strong entered Colesberg on the 15th November before dawn, and planted
itself on the kopjes surrounding the town, much to the surprise of the
inhabitants. The invaders possessed themselves of the keys of the town,
and endeavoured with great parade to hoist the Free State flag. The
ceremony was a fiasco, however, as before the flag reached the top of
the staff, the halyard, which had been secretly cut partly through by
some loyalists, broke, so that the flag, flying a little above
half-mast, could neither be hoisted properly nor hauled down again.
Ultimately the Boers tied another flag on to the end of a long bamboo,
and sent that up instead. The Mayor endeavoured, in impassioned periods,
to address the loyal inhabitants, but his eloquence was useless. He
could not make himself heard, and had at last to desist.

The Mounted Police, who were forced to retreat from Colesberg, joined
the New South Wales Lancers at Naauwpoort, and from thence went on to De
Aar. Aliwal North was occupied by a Free State commando, and the
inhabitants of Lady Grey were ordered to vacate the place. They were
allowed until the 25th November to obey orders. The public offices there
were closed, and preparations were made to occupy the town.

Here must be noted the story of a woman in a thousand--the post-mistress
of Ladygrey. When the Boers came to seize the post-office, she "stuck to
her post" with a vengeance. She refused to budge or to give it up, and
when the Free State flag was hoisted, she promptly hauled it down and
substituted the Union Jack. Not content with this, she tore down the
proclamation of the Boers annexing the district, and put in its place
the Governor's proclamation against treason. Pluck carried the day; the
Boers were worsted, and the post-mistress remained mistress of the
situation. What became of this heroine of the war is not yet known.

Proclamations emanating from Bloemfontein, and signed by Mr. Wessels,
President of the Volkraad, were also issued, declaring the whole of
Griqualand West, except Kimberley and Mafeking and the districts four
miles around each of these places, to be Free State territory. In the
face of these energetic movements action on the part of the British was
necessary to restore the confidence of the wavering people, and
consequently the following telegram was despatched by the General
Commanding in Chief to the officer commanding at Queenstown:--

     "_November 15._--General Gatacre, with the 1st Battalion of the
     Seventh Brigade, left yesterday for East London. More troops
     will follow as they arrive.

     "Owing to the distance from England, it has not been possible
     to give the frontier districts, at first, the protection they
     merit, and the enemy's troops have in places entered our
     territory.

     "Make known as widely as possible that her Majesty's Government
     will exact compensation for any actual injury done to the
     property of individuals who remain loyal, and take every means
     in your power to obtain and record the names of any who may act
     disloyally, with a view to the consideration of their cases
     afterwards. Circulate this as widely as you can in English and
     Dutch."

On the other side the enemy exerted himself freely. A curious appeal was
made to the farmers about Colesberg by the Boer commander. He addressed
the crowd with great fervour, and called on all to join the Republican
cause and to throw off the yoke of England, whose tyranny could no
longer be endured. War, he declared, had been forced upon them. They
were now fighting for liberty, and it was the will of God. He said it
depended on the Afrikanders themselves whether they would for ever
continue to be ruled from Downing Street or become an independent
nation. So far, he added, their arms had been victorious, and God had
been with them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile Lord Methuen and his troops were preparing to march to the
relief of Kimberley _via_ Witteputs, and in expectation of his arrival
(of which they were duly informed by their many spies and the disloyal
Dutch in the neighbourhood), the Boers, reinforced, posted a cannon at
Belmont Station, and again took up a powerful position on the Kaffir's
Kop range of hills.

[Illustration: LIEUT.-GENERAL LORD METHUEN, C.B.

Photo by Elliott & Fry, London.]


                         THE BATTLE OF BELMONT

On the morning of Tuesday, the 21st of November, at three o'clock, Lord
Methuen's march to the relief of Kimberley definitely began. The force
consisted of the Naval Brigade, the 9th Brigade under Colonel
Featherstonhaugh, the Guards Brigade under General Sir H. Colvile, two
batteries of Field Artillery, Rimington's Guides, and the 9th Lancers.
The first halt was made at Fincham's Farm, some twelve miles off, where
the troops breakfasted, and whence the 9th Lancers and Rimington's
Guides started on a reconnoitring expedition, which was not without its
excitement. The Boers were reported to be somewhere in the vicinity, and
soon they were espied, some three hundred of them, climbing a kopje with
the evident intention of firing down on the party. This they did, and
with such rapidity that only by sheer luck the men escaped. They went on
to the farm of one Thomas, a supposed loyalist, for the purpose of
watering their horses. This person had declared that there were no Boers
in the neighbourhood; but no sooner had the tired beasts begun to dip
their dusty noses in the cool and longed-for draught than a brisk fire
was opened on them from all sides, and the troops had hurriedly to
return to the main body at Fincham's. But they lost three horses.

On the following day the division moved on to the said Thomas's Farm.
The advance party again came under fire--"Just by way of salute," as
Tommy said--but the enemy was promptly silenced. Here the troops
bivouacked.

On the night of the 22nd coffee was served out about twelve o'clock, and
after this the whole force prepared to move.

The general orders were as follows: "At three A.M. Guards Brigade to
advance from small white house near railway on Gun Kopje, supported by
battery on right plus Naval Brigade; 9th Brigade on west side of Table
Mountain; at same hour, bearing already taken, supported by battery on
left, 9th Lancers, two squadrons, one company Mounted Infantry,
marching north of Belmont Station, keeping one to two miles on left
flank and advanced; Rimington's Guides, one squadron Lancers, one
company Mounted Infantry from Witte Putt to east of Sugar Loaf; one
company Mounted Infantry on right of Naval Brigade, protecting right;
the force having got over open ground should arrive at daybreak on
enemy; 9th Brigade having secured Table Mountain to swing round left and
keep on high ground, and then advance east to west on A (on plan; not
printed); Guards Brigade conform, being pivot; then Guards advance on
east edge of Mount Blanc, guns clearing entire advance with shrapnel;
cavalry to get round rear of enemy, securing horses and laager."

[Illustration: LORD METHUEN'S LINE OF ADVANCE]

This carefully-arranged programme, however, was not followed in its
entirety. In the grim blackness of the small hours the Grenadiers lost
direction, and Lord Methuen was committed to a frontal attack. But still
the attack was a brilliant success. The Boers were caught napping, for
they were in the happy belief that the troops were still at Witte Putt
at the very hour when they were marching steadily upon them.

The infantry tramped four miles in pitch darkness and took up their
position on a long low hill facing the enemy. The Boers occupied a
magnificent horseshoe-shaped position on a series of kopjes and ridges
eastward of Belmont railway station. As usual, they had utilised the
boulders as screens, behind which they could safely blaze away at the
advancing ranks. Near daybreak--the hot summer morning dawned about four
o'clock--firing began. The Guards had opened out for the attack, and the
Boers, suddenly espying them from the heights, thereupon commenced to
pelt and batter them. The Scots and Grenadiers nevertheless proceeded.
Their position was far from comfortable, as it was necessary to cross
some hundred yards of arid open veldt with no cover at all, while the
enemy, ensconced behind tremendous rocks some 500 feet above their
level, had nothing to do but to point their rifles and send their
bullets whizzing at the advancing mass. But the Guards stoutly held
their own, lying down and returning volley after volley for a full
half-hour. Meanwhile the 9th Brigade advanced across the plain in
extended order, and at half-past four two batteries posted near the
railway commenced shelling the enemy's position.

Now the Guards began to proceed. Steadily forward they went--the thin,
extended line moved as on parade, no supports being behind them.

Scarcely had they reached the base of the hill than a fierce storm of
lead poured like a cascade from guns and rifles. It was useless now to
attempt to return the fire--the Boers were invisible. There was no help
for it; the men had only to move on and trust to their best "cold
Sheffield" and their warm, gallant hearts. They fixed bayonets. Major
Kinloch gave the word to his men to advance. "Now, boys, as hard as you
can go!" he sang out. The other officers shouted their orders; all were
dashing along like lions loosened from a cage. Cheers rent the air,
bullets buzzed, cannons roared, blood streamed and spouted, plucky men
and brave boys dropped dead on every side. Yet on went the infantry
brigades! The first kopje was stormed! The Boers had vanished!

It was a sight to thrill the blood, to make the heart leap to the
throat--so grand, so awful, so reminiscent of all the great traditions
of British history. The enemy went helter-skelter to their second kopje
on the right, where another force was strongly intrenched. Here they
were sheltered by a number of "schantz," or trenches built of boulders
and arranged in gallery form, and here our men mounted after
them--Coldstreams, Grenadiers, Scots Guards, Northumberlands,
Northamptons, and 2nd King's Own Yorkshires, now steadily advancing
without excitement and with stern determination, and through a horrible
cross-fire from the death-dealing rifles of the enemy.

Their advance was grand--a feat of heroism--with the Boer missiles
flying about their heads and the track of blood seeming to tinge the
very atmosphere with red. On and on they pushed, cheering loudly up the
steep incline and over the boulders, nimble as goats, determined as
giants, on and on, and, with a mighty roar, took the position. Dead men
lay at their feet, but honour, with its laurel crown, wreathed their
heads!

Again the Boers made a hasty, a desperate retreat; again they sought a
strongly-fortified position; again, our cavalry being too far off to
reach them, the infantry combat was renewed.

A hurricane of bullets poured down. Death for the third time stared and
gibbered; for the third time our gallant fellows, all in mass, again
advanced to the attack. The Naval Brigade brought up four guns, and
Captain Prothero got his cannon in position of 1800 yards and blazed out
a chorus of distraction.

The enemy fled. The rout was now complete. Away went the 9th Lancers,
away went the Mounted Infantry, both pursuing the fugitives for a good
five miles. Thus the battle of Belmont was won. The whole of the camp
waggons, filled with boxes of clothing, hundreds of horses and bullocks,
were captured, and tons of ammunition were destroyed.

But this fight, that has taken so short a time to describe, and which
was over in less than four hours, was hardly won. Forms all bloodily
dashed lay here and there and everywhere, and the Scots Guards, who had
stormed the kopje to inspiriting strains of drums and pipes, were doomed
later on to hear the wail of the pibroch for many comrades mourned and
buried. In all, our losses--about 200--were comparatively small
considering that the engagement was a series of three battles, during
which the Boers were constantly carrying off dead and wounded. Very many
of our officers were wounded and three were killed. One--Lieutenant
Fryer of the Grenadier Guards--was slain while gallantly leading his men
and creeping along the bed of a stream in the enemy's rear. After the
battle Lord Methuen made the following address to the troops: "Comrades,
I congratulate you on the complete success achieved by you this morning.
The ground over which we had to fight presented exceptional
difficulties, and we had as an enemy a past-master in the tactics of
mounted infantry. With troops such as you are, a commander can have no
fear of the result. There is a sad side, and you and I are thinking as
much of those who have died for the honour of their country and of those
who are suffering as we are thinking of our victory."

Three instances were reported of the despicable treachery of the Boers.
Lieutenant Willoughby was shot at from an ambush under cover of the white
flag; a Boer holding a white flag in his left hand murdered Lieutenant
Brine with his right, and Lieutenant Blundell-Hollinshead-Blundell (3rd
Batt. Grenadier Guards) was shot in the merciful act of tending a wounded
Boer. Lord Methuen after the fight sent a remonstrance to the Boer
commander, saying, "Acting quite fairly with you, I decline to take
Kimberley men who know the country, because their parole cannot be
accepted. I must ask you to warn your wounded not to shoot our officers. I
must warn you not to use Dum-Dum bullets, or use the flag of truce
treacherously. Such action is cowardly in the extreme, and I cannot
countenance it."

[Illustration: PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF BELMONT.]

The Boer losses were reported as very small, but no credence can be
placed on their statements, for the very good reason that it has been
President Kruger's policy to conceal from outsiders, and even from his
own country, the extent of his losses. Whenever the Boer dies in battle,
his body is weighted and cast into a river, or into a trench as quickly
as possible. His family are left in ignorance as to his fate, and their
only conclusion is to assume that he is dead. But Mr. Kruger's methods
and his ruthless military oligarchy were disapproved even by his own
countrymen, and more especially by his own countrywomen, who now began
to mistrust the continual story of Boer victory, and asked pitifully for
permission themselves to seek for fathers, sons, and brothers from whom
they never heard. In some cases many of these were lying not an inch
below their feet, for a British search party came upon a portion of the
veldt that was literally mosaicked with dead Dutchmen whose bodies were
scarcely more than peppered with earth!

Mr. Knight, the correspondent of the _Morning Post_, who was a general
favourite, was wounded in a singularly treacherous manner. He was in the
firing line of the Northamptons, who were then attacking the Boers. Some
of the enemy suddenly emerged from behind rocks and displayed a
handkerchief attached to a rifle. On this sign Mr. Knight with two
others rose, and all three were instantly shot with Dum-Dum bullets. Mr.
Knight's sufferings were great, and the arm was amputated. The use of
Dum-Dum bullets had been proscribed, as, after hitting the mark, they
expand and cause wounds as large as a five-shilling piece. The Boers,
besides using them on occasion, so manoeuvred the Mauser bullets that
they could act in identical fashion. Another treacherous Boer device was
the wearing of the red cross upon their sleeves--an action on a par with
the display of the white flag--for convenience' sake. However, it must
always be remembered that the Boer armies were commandeered and
cosmopolitan armies, and not disciplined troops.

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF BELMONT, 23rd November 1899--BAYONET ATTACK
BY THE SCOTS AND GRENADIER GUARDS.

Drawing by Frank Dodd, R.I.]

During the heat of the fray Colonel Crabbe, commanding the Grenadier
Guards, became detached from his regiment. He was instantly surrounded
by Boers, and being wounded, might probably have been killed had not a
private suddenly rushed to the rescue. The plucky fellow shot two of the
enemy, silenced a third with his bayonet, and finally, amid a shower of
bullets, carried off the Colonel to the shelter of an ambulance waggon.
Colonel Crabbe sustained injuries to wrist and thigh, but was not
dangerously wounded.

A curious experience befell the Hon. George Peel, who was trying to
reach Kimberley, where his sister, the Hon. Mrs. Rochfort Maguire, was
imprisoned. Roaming about after the battle of Belmont, he came by
accident on a Boer camp. A Dutchman promptly emerged, and when he was
preparing to meet a grim fate, deciding that all hope was lost, he found
himself accosted and handed a Bible. He was in the very act of
congratulating himself on his lucky escape when on the scene came two
grenadiers, who seeing his battered condition and his Bible, mistook him
for a Boer spy and carried him off as a prize. Fortunately he was
recognised by a member of Lord Methuen's camp and liberated.

Very interesting are the following official particulars given by the
General Officer Commanding the 9th Brigade to the Chief Staff Officer of
the 1st Division:--

                                         "BELMONT, _Nov. 23, 1899_.

     "SIR,--I have the honour to submit the following report of the
     part taken by the brigade under my command in the action which
     took place to-day. The rendezvous was left at 3.7 A.M. in the
     following formation: Northumberland Fusiliers, in column of
     companies, on the left, directing, and fifty paces from them
     moved the Northamptonshire Regiment in similar formation, and
     parallel to them. In rear of both these battalions was the 2nd
     Battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and two companies
     Munster Fusiliers." (Having described the operations which
     ended in the occupation of a ridge south of Table Mountain,
     Major-General Featherstonhaugh continues:) "This party of the
     enemy was finally dislodged at the point of the bayonet, and
     'independent fire' poured into them at a distance of fifty
     yards, when a white flag was hoisted by the party. On our men
     ceasing fire, the white flag still being displayed, a shot was
     fired by this party at our men; but the actual bearer of the
     flag of truce, followed by some eleven or twelve unarmed Boers,
     surrendered themselves to Colonel Money and were made
     prisoners.--Signed for Major-General Featherstonhaugh,

                                         EDWARD S. BULFIN,
                              _Captain, Brigade Major, 9th Brigade_."

The following is the list of officers killed and wounded at the battle
of Belmont:--

     3rd Grenadier Guards.--Lieutenant Fryer, killed; Lieutenant
     Blundell-Hollinshead-Blundell, dangerously wounded; Second
     Lieutenants Leslie and Vaughan, wounded; Lieutenants Gurdon
     Rebow and Russell, slightly wounded; and in addition the
     following officers reported as wounded: Lieutenants Lygon and
     Cameron, and Lieutenant-Colonel Crabbe. 1st Battalion
     Coldstream Guards.--Lieutenant Grant, wounded. 2nd Battalion
     Coldstream Guards.--Lieutenant the Hon. Claude Willoughby,
     slightly wounded; Second Lieutenant Burton, severely wounded.
     1st Battalion Scots Guards.--Major the Hon. North Dalrymple
     Hamilton, severely wounded; Second Lieutenants Bulkley and
     Alexander, wounded. 1st Battalion Northumberland
     Fusiliers.--Captain Eagar and Lieutenant Brine, killed; Major
     Dashwood and Lieutenant Festing, dangerously wounded; Captain
     Sapte and Lieutenant Fishbourne, Brigadier-General
     Featherstonhaugh, Captain Freeland, 2nd Northampton, Lieutenant
     Barton, 2nd Northampton, severely wounded.


                         THE BATTLE OF GRASPAN

The commandos defeated at Belmont fell back upon Graspan, the next
station northwards on the way to Kimberley. There Lord Methuen decided
they should not long remain. He thought, to use his own words, "that it
would be best to march the division at once to Swinks Pan, which would
place me on the left front of the enemy's position, and that if I worked
one battery round each flank, sent my cavalry and mounted infantry well
forward, the greater part of the cavalry being on the eastern side, I
ought to capture the eastern force. The Naval Brigade and 9th Brigade I
left for protecting the guns or assaulting a position if necessary. The
Guards Brigade I left with the baggage to march to Enslin, where I had
my next camp. The brigade could always give a hand if wanted. I had
left 1st Battalion Scots Guards at Belmont Station, also two companies
Munster Fusiliers, because there were 500 Boers and a gun, so it was
said, threatening Belmont. I made this my divisional battle, marching
straight from Belmont to Enslin. The armoured train with infantry was to
give me a help from the line." Thus the General briefly described his
programme.

On the day following the battle of Belmont, a hot, blistering day, with
the sun glaring pitilessly till the heavens looked like a sheet of
burnished brass, the Division, with the Yorkshire Light Infantry as
advance guard, moved on towards Graspan. This place is probably called
Graspan because it is the centre of a circular phalanx of huge kopjes,
which, rising out of the smooth white sand, have an air of quaint
picturesqueness resembling that of some ancient ruined arena. There the
troops encamped. Here, in the light of the stars and rolled in their
blankets, they laid them down to their hard-earned rest.

Before cock-crow, however, the men were up and doing, and as the
lavender hues of dawn began to lighten the horizon, the gallant warriors
were on the move. It was known that the enemy was near at hand, sneaking
on the surrounding heights, therefore the last two miles were covered in
fighting formation, the Naval detachment and the 5th Fusiliers being
supported by the Yorkshire Light Infantry and the Northampton Regiment.

The enemy, not 400 strong as was supposed, but 2500, with six guns, one
Hotchkiss, and one Maxim, was posted on a series of five kopjes over 200
feet in height, joined by neks, all of which save one were strongly
occupied. In a laager in the remote distance 500 more Boers were
reported to be hidden in reserve. The ground on all sides had been
previously measured to find the ranges, the Boers having evidently been
quite well informed regarding the British plan of action.

In advance of the troops came the armoured train, a pachydermatous
monster which moved cumbrously in front of the column, and was saluted
by the smoking wrath of big guns as soon as it appeared. It retired
cautiously, and disgorged its gallant crew of marines to help in
handling the naval guns. Lord Methuen deployed the cavalry on the
flanks, while the artillery took up positions in front of the Boer
trenches. Meanwhile the 9th Brigade went forward in skirmishing order.
This consisted of the Northumberland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion
Northamptons, half-Battalion Loyal North Lancashires, 2nd Battalion
King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. With the 9th was the Naval Brigade,
commanded by Captain Prothero. At six o'clock an active artillery duel
began, the guns of the foe being splendidly posted, and their range, as
before-said, carefully calculated. Their shells burst with appalling
fracas over our batteries, but the brave British gunners never swerved.
They gave the Boers some smart and telling replies, and presently, on
withdrawing their guns to a new position, quite defeated the
calculations of the enemy, whose shells now began to fall wide of the
mark. The rifle-fire of the Dutchmen was not so accurate as usual, and
was evidently under no control, though there were sharpshooters who
crept under cover for the purpose of sniping at any prominent person who
might be taken for an officer. As has been stated, there was now no
outward or visible sign of rank, so for the time being the enemy's
efforts were unsuccessful. They were more deadly--grievously
deadly--however, when the gallant Naval Brigade, the officers of which
were distinguishable by their swords, came to the foot of the hill. The
fire from the kopjes was terrific, and every moment men threw up their
arms and fell. They had advanced in extended order, but in converging
upon the position to be taken, found themselves closed in, and in that
formation attempted the ascent.

Meanwhile the rest of the infantry was moving forward in preparation for
attack. The Northamptons worked from the left round to the right, where
they were joined by the Yorkshires and Northumberlands. All this time a
scene of terrific slaughter was taking place, a tremendous and unceasing
fire being poured from the Boer positions upon our steadily advancing
men. But these were undefeatable, the 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, the
Marines, and the 1st North Lancashire acquitting themselves nobly in a
most perilous situation. One after another of their numbers dropped.
Stones and sand were heaped with the mutilated and fainting, and dyed
with the life-blood of trusty comrades that a moment ago had been hearty
and hale; but on they went, these gallant lads, while a storm of
shrapnel bellowed overhead, and bullets whistled past their ears, and
dust and dirt blinded their eyes. With a ringing cheer the Yorkshire men
directed a fusilade towards the crest of the enemy's sangar, and then
the whole mass crawled up with splendid effort, neared the summit, and
prepared to charge. The Boers, however, began discreetly to remove
themselves to a second position still better intrenched, from whence
they could fire on the British as they gained the top. At this time the
British guns were forced to be almost inactive, as the storming line was
now so near the crest that the shrapnel could only be directed on the
enemy by enfilading the position from the ridge of the kopje on the
left, and it was during the lull that Lieutenant Taylor, Yorkshire Light
Infantry, and Lieutenant Jones, of the Marines, scaled the sangar.

The next instant there was a roar and a rush, and all were leaping
forward to clear the second position. This was only accomplished after
some desperately hard work and a quarter of an hour's hand-to-hand
fighting--an eternity it seemed to those engaged--for the kopje was
stubbornly held. But even Boer pluck, of which in this case there was no
lack, could not resist the impetuous advance of the British infantry,
and at last, when the hill-top was one crimson crown of blood and half
the gallant number were struck down, the Boers bolted one after another
down the back of the hill, pursued by our artillery fire, and made for
their horses. Finally, as they were retreating in hot haste across the
plain, the 9th Lancers charged them, and succeeded in catching up their
rear close to a kopje where they were sheltering. But here the place
literally swarmed with Dutchmen, and the Lancers, whose numbers were
small, and whose horses were exhausted, were forced to retire.

Still the object of the fight was magnificently accomplished. The rout
of the enemy was complete. The gallant Naval Brigade, Yorkshire Light
Infantry, and Loyal North Lancashires remained masters of the situation.
A party of Boers who had rushed from their sheltering kopje were
intercepted by the detachment of the New South Wales Lancers, who,
charging, forced them back to their hiding-place.

The amazing gallantry of the Marines, who bore the brunt of the
desperate fight, was the subject of general eulogy. Many of these
splendid fellows had three wounds, while some had four. Sixty per cent.
of the officers and sergeants were hit. Nothing could have been more
heroic than the conduct of poor Huddart, who so gloriously fell in doing
his duty.

Captain Le Marchant, Royal Marine Light Infantry, who was left in
command of the Naval Brigade with Lord Methuen's force after the action
at Graspan, reported as follows: "It is with deep regret that I have to
report the death of Midshipman Huddart, who behaved magnificently, and
still advanced after he had been twice wounded, until he was finally
struck down mortally wounded." A brother naval officer also wrote: "At
the bottom of the hill Huddart was hit in the arm, and half-way up he
was shot in the leg, but still he pressed on. On reaching the top of the
kopje he was shot through the stomach and fell." Captain Le Marchant,
when his senior officers were killed or wounded, led the remnant of the
Naval Brigade up the kopje with splendid pluck and ability.

But magnificent deeds were numerous. Lieutenant W. J. C. Jones, Royal
Marine Light Infantry, though he had a bullet in his thigh, led his men
up the kopje, and only after the day was won consented to have his wound
dressed. Colour-Sergeant Waterhouse was also mentioned by Lord Methuen,
who said in his despatch, "I beg to bring to your notice No. 1843,
Colour-Sergeant Waterhouse, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, who at
a critical moment acted with great coolness in shooting down an enemy
who had been doing great execution on our men at 1150 yards."

The General deplored the lack of a cavalry brigade and horse artillery,
owing to which he was unable to reap the fruits of his hard-fought
action, and all must unite to condole with this much-tried commander on
the manner in which he had been handicapped from the first. Lord Methuen
in his despatch drew attention to the excellent work done by the Naval
Brigade near the line. He said:--

     "Lieutenants Campbell and L. S. Armstrong displayed great
     coolness in conducting the fire of their guns. Petty Officers
     Ashley, _Doris_, and Fuller, _Monarch_, laid their guns with
     great accuracy under fire.

     "I again draw attention to the exceptional organising power of
     Colonel Townsend. At Swinks Pan at 11.30 P.M. I was informed
     that, owing to all the ambulances having been used for taking
     the wounded to the train at Belmont, I had scarcely a
     field-hospital mounted officer, only three ambulances and three
     stretchers. I knew I had to fight next morning, so got together
     fifty blankets in order to carry wounded with help of rifles. I
     also sent to Colonel Townsend to make arrangements for wounded
     by 3 A.M., a messenger having to ride seven miles to him. He
     met me on the field with full supply of ambulances, and I never
     saw anything more of him or the wounded, because he had a train
     ready for them between Graspan and Belmont. His only complaint
     is that there is not much of his mules left, an observation
     which applies equally to men and animals."

To show how completely all the British projects were known, a curious
incident of this battle may be quoted. Four men were captured by
Rimington's Guides, but three of them being unarmed were released. It
was subsequently discovered that these same persons had taken to the
Jacobsdal commando minute details regarding the British camp, with the
result that a Boer force was detached to attack the station. The total
British casualties were estimated at 197, including twenty killed and
seven missing. At the close of the action, Lord Methuen complimented the
members of the Naval Brigade on their splendid behaviour, and expressed
regret at the losses they had sustained.

The following is the list of officers killed, wounded, and missing at
the battle of Graspan or Enslin of 25th November:--

     2nd Battalion Yorkshire Light Infantry.--Wounded: Captain C. A.
     L. Yate, Lieutenant H. C. Fernyhough, Lieutenant C. H. Ackroyd.
     Naval Brigade.--Killed: Commander Ethelston, _Powerful_;[6]
     Major Plumbe, R.M.L.I., _Doris_; Captain Senior, R.M.A.,
     _Monarch_; C. A. E. Huddart, Midshipman, _Doris_.

The following were severely wounded:--

     Flag-Captain Prothero, _Doris_, and Lieutenant Jones, R.M.L.I.,
     _Doris_.

[Illustration: PRIVATE AND CORPORAL OF THE GORDON HIGHLANDERS.

Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

Lord Methuen addressed his division in stirring words, congratulating
his men on the work they had done and the hardships they had surmounted.
The work, he said, was the severest accomplished by the British army for
many a long day. Not a single point, he added, could they afford to give
to the enemy. The Boers' tactics had been proved excellent and their
courage admirable. The gallant General added that when called on to
fight for his country, he preferred to fight against a foe worthy of his
steel rather than against savages, whose sole recommendation was
bravery. He hoped that he and his men had gained each other's
confidence, and that they would all do their duty to their country as
Englishmen should. Lord Methuen described as dastardly the firing by the
enemy on ambulance waggons, the shooting of a British officer by a
wounded Boer, and the use of Dum-Dum bullets; but he refused to believe
that these acts were characteristic of the enemy; he would give them
credit until he was convinced to the contrary that they wished to fight
fair and square. Addressing the Scots Guards, the General said that they
had acted as he expected his old battalion would.

The troops rested well on the night of the 27th, and on the following
day proceeded towards Modder River, where the General was aware that the
passage of the river would involve a bloody fight. By this time General
Pole-Carew had taken command of the 9th Brigade, in place of General
Featherstonhaugh, who was wounded.


                     THE BATTLE OF MODDER RIVER

This battle, to use Lord Methuen's words, was one of the hardest and
most trying fights in the annals of the British army. He might also have
truly said that it was one of the most gloriously-fought engagements
that has been known in modern warfare. On reconnoitring the enemy's
position, the Boers were found to be strongly entrenched and concealed
behind a fringe of furze and foliage and in front of trees in the
neighbourhood of Modder River. From native sources it was learnt that
the river and the Riet River were fordable anywhere--a statement which
was afterwards found to be entirely false. The enemy was discovered on
the east of the village to be in strong force and aggressive. His
trenches commanded the plain for a distance of 1600 yards, and there was
no means of outflanking him, as the Modder River was in flood.

The word Modder means muddy, and this term was appreciated in its full
significance when our parched troops came to make acquaintance with it.
But there are times and seasons when even ochreous water becomes clear
as crystal to the fevered imagination, and before this day of days was
over--in the sweltering, merciless sun, with the thermometer at 110
degrees in the shade--men felt as though they would stake their whole
chance of existence for one half-bottle of the reviving fluid. But this
is a digression. The horror of that day's thirst had barely set in at
the time treated of--4 to 8 A.M. At that hour there was no suspicion
that the enemy, strong in numbers, would continue to fight, and be
strengthened by some 8000 more Dutchmen. He appeared to be retiring, and
there were no signs that the village would be held. But at 8.10 a fierce
roar of guns multifarious declared that the river was fringed by the
enemy, and that he was well and skilfully concealed.

Parallel to the river on the north side the Boers had constructed, with
their wonted cunning, long sandbag trenches and various complicated
breastworks, which afforded them splendid cover. The line extended over
some five miles, and they were discovered to be posted on both sides of
the water. Where the stream of the Riet joins the Modder there is a
small and picturesque island some two acres in extent. It has shelving
banks all fringed with willows, and thus forms an excellent natural
cover for troops. Till now this spot had been the resort of picnickers
and pleasure-seekers from the Diamond City. On the north bank were
farmhouses and hotels, which had been evacuated by their owners and had
been taken possession of by the Boers. Here they had posted guns of
every available kind, in every available spot. They had Hotchkiss guns
and Maxim guns, and the deadly, much-abhorred Vickers-Maxim quick-firer,
a machine which, by the way, was offered some time ago to the British
Government--and refused! This objectionable weapon was christened by
some "Putt-Putt," by others "Bong-Bong," and one officer styled it "the
Great Mogul," because its presence was invariably greeted with profound
salaams and Chinese prostrations. With these guns the enemy began to
show that he meant business, as will be seen.

The division, that had been strengthened by the Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders, had moved out from Wittekopslaager about 5 A.M.,
breakfastless, because it was thought that on reaching the river, which
was but a short march of five miles off, there would be ample time for a
meal. But by seven o'clock the fighting had begun. The General had
arranged with the officer commanding the Royal Artillery to prepare the
infantry attack with both batteries from the right flank, and the
Infantry Division being still some miles distant, he gave them two
distinct points to march on, which allowed of the brigades keeping in
extended order and covering a very wide front.

The Guards Brigade had orders to develop their attack first, which they
did with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards on the right, with directions to
swing their right well round in order to take the enemy in flank, the
2nd Battalion Coldstreams and the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers making the
frontal attack, the former on the left to keep touch with the 9th
Brigade; the 1st Battalion Coldstreams in reserve in the right rear.
Well, before they could look about them and settle down into their
positions, the whole force found itself facing the Boer commando 8000
strong, two large guns, Krupp guns, &c. The Scots Guards on the extreme
right marched through the old reservoir, and directly they emerged from
cover a shower of bullets greeted them. Soon after their Maxim gun was
disabled by the Hotchkiss gun of the enemy, and presently their whole
detachment was completely wiped out. First the sergeant in charge was
killed, then an officer was wounded, then Colonel Stopford of the
Coldstream Guards was hit in the neck and killed, and the horse ridden
by Colonel Paget was shot in five places and dropped dead. Meanwhile the
75th Battery in return launched some magnificent shots in the direction
of the Dutchmen. The third of these struck a farmhouse in which the
Boers and a gun were posted, and set the whole place in a blaze. Not
till the roof was burnt about their ears, however, did the Boers budge.
They clung with ferocious tenacity to every position, and the fight at
all times of the day was one of great stubbornness. The 1st Battalion of
the Coldstream Guards had extended, and, swinging their right round, had
prolonged the line of the Scots Guards to the right. Farther advance was
checked by the Riet River. The troops then lay down, being fairly under
cover in that position. The heat was scorching, and in the plain
occupied by our troops Mauser bullets swept the field in thousands.
There was absolutely no cover save the shelving bank of the river, which
served no purpose directly they rose on elbow from the ground. For hours
our men lay on their faces unable to show a head without inviting a
shower of lead--lay on the blistering sand with the hot African sun
grilling them, some of the Highlanders having their legs veritably
toasted, their mouths parched and full of sand, while bullets were
fluting a death-song in the air, and the thunderous detonations of the
big guns seemed to be raking the very bowels of the earth. Still the
Boers stuck to their posts. For hours they plied their guns without sign
of exhaustion. A terrific fire was kept up on both sides for a long--a
seemingly interminable--time, but without any appreciable advance in the
state of affairs. It was felt that nothing could be done on the right
flank till the guns had cleared the position. The 18th Battery, however,
came vigorously into play, and so brilliantly acquitted itself that
finally the enemy was forced to evacuate their ferociously-contested
positions among the houses. But so ably had they constructed their
intrenchments that from these it was impossible to dislodge them.
Meanwhile the 9th Brigade had advanced the Northumberland Fusiliers
along the east side of the railway line, supported by half a battalion
of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. The Yorkshire Light Infantry
moved along the west side of the railway, supported by the remaining
half battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. The half
battalion Loyal North Lancashire prolonged the line to the left, and
endeavoured to cross the river and threaten the enemy's right flank. The
six companies of Northamptons acted as a baggage-guard.

Early in the day a plucky attempt was made on the extreme right of the
line to cross the Modder. Colonel Codrington and Captain Feilding of the
1st Coldstreams, with Captain Selheim of the Queensland Permanent Force
with some two dozen men, forded the river. The water was almost chin
deep, and while they crossed, the Hotchkiss gun directed an appalling
fire on them. Though laden with all their gear and 150 rounds of
ammunition, they yet succeeded in reaching the other side, where they
found themselves almost swamped in mud. As they were not supported they
had to retire. But this was easier said than done. On the return passage
two men were almost drowned, and had it not been for the ingenious
device of their comrades, who, by joining hands and slinging their
putties together, managed to drag them ashore, they would certainly have
perished.

Soon after this the General, who had been moving about surveying and
commanding, was shot through the thigh. Then followed some confusion, as
the two brigades, in the absence of orders, had to act independently of
each other, and there was some fear that the 9th Brigade would fire on
the 1st. Command of the field was now assumed by Major-General Sir H. E.
Colvile, whose headquarters were on the right close to the river. It had
been Lord Methuen's idea to take the position at nightfall at the point
of the bayonet, but owing to the tremendous day's work, the heat, the
absence of food, and the general fatigue that all had undergone, this
project was abandoned. There was another reason for the change of plan.

Just as it was beginning to grow late some of the most brilliant work of
the day commenced. As the trenches were found to be utterly impregnable
to rifle-fire, it was felt that only desperate measures would rout the
Dutchmen from their stronghold. Colonel Barter (King's Own Yorkshire
Light Infantry) and Lieutenant Thorpe, with some men of the Argyll and
Sutherland and North Lancashire Regiments, started off, and, much to the
surprise of the Boers, who had evidently not calculated upon such
dauntless agility, got safely across the river. The wonderful way in
which this feat was accomplished was described by an eye-witness, a
correspondent of the _Times_.

"That it could even be attempted to cross the river sliding sideways
through the rush of water over the paddles along a rickety iron bar one
by one, clinging to the short supports in full view of the opposite
shore, was an act of reckless heroism against which even the wary Cronje
had not provided. This, however, is what was actually done, and it would
be difficult to find a parallel for the stubborn pluck of the men who
accompanied Colonel Barter across the 300 yards of dam and weir. One by
one some 400 of them crossed. Then a detachment of the Royal Engineers,
showing how well they could take their part in the forefront of the
fighting line, followed them, after that some more of the Yorkshire
Light Infantry. Little by little a force was collected which cleared
several of the nearest houses on the right and effected an occupation of
an irrigation patch from which they were never dislodged." It was quite
wonderful to note the effect of the gallant British cheer which rang out
from General Pole-Carew's men as they burst from the river, bayonet in
hand. The Boers were startled and fled, with our men closely in pursuit.
At the rousing, ringing, menacing sound, their hopes had failed--they
thought that the rumour of victory was already in the air. "The thunder
growl edged with melodious ire in alt," as Carlyle called it, never did
better work. It demoralised and brought about the end.

[Illustration: PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF MODDER RIVER]

Shortly after, a battery of Royal Artillery came upon the scene, but
before it had time to unlimber, more Boers took to their heels, falling
over each other in their haste to be off and catch their horses. The
sound of British lungs in their rear and the sight of the guns was too
much for them. Thus after twelve hours' fighting the day was practically
won, for, when morning came, it was found that the enemy had entirely
cleared out, and removed to fresh intrenchments half-way between the
river and Spyfontein.

It was a brilliant but a hardly-earned victory. It is stated that the
Naval guns fired over 500 rounds, and the 18th Battery more than 1100.
The 75th fired 900 rounds, the 62nd (who came to the rescue from the
Orange River late in the day), 500 rounds. The glorious gunners vied
with one another in the display of gallantry and proficiency.

A vivid story of the energetic march of the 62nd Battery was told by an
officer, who must have had an even more trying time than most.

"We had orders to reinforce the main body at once; marched twenty miles
the first day, had a few hours' rest, and started at the first streak of
dawn again. We did about twenty-five miles, and were just going to have
a well-earned rest when an orderly came galloping up with the order to
go at once (I am talking of the 62nd now), as the battle was going
against our troops. We started off again at a trot, and kept it up for
about five miles, when our horses were just done up. We had to take four
out of our gun-teams, as they dropped dead of exhaustion. The sergeants
hooked their own horses in, and off we went again. We lost more horses,
and had to walk after we had done about eight miles. We were only able
to just make the horses drag the guns into action. I shall never forget
it. I was feeling very queer. I don't think any of us were afraid, but
we were all of us expecting to be shot every minute, as the bullets came
in showers.... We were in action in this place about two hours. Our
troops were being shot down in heaps, and things were looking very
black, when Lord Methuen came up to our Colonel and asked him to send
his batteries up closer (we were then 1500 yards from the Boer trenches,
and you must understand that a rifle carries 2500 yards). Our Colonel
did. We then advanced up past our own infantry and came into action
about 900 yards closer than artillery had ever taken up position before.
After severe loss on our side we managed to silence the Boer guns. The
order was then given to retire. We got out of range, and were on the
point of congratulating ourselves on being so lucky, when up rode an
orderly giving us instructions to go and relieve the Guards. Our Major
advanced.... We took up our position 800 yards from the Boer trenches,
and, by Jove! the Boers let us have a fearful reception. Before I got my
horses out they shot one of my drivers and two horses ... and brought
down my own horse. We then got my gun round on the enemy, when one of my
gunners was shot through the brain and fell at my feet. Another of my
gunners was shot whilst bringing up shell, and I began to feel queer....
At last we had a look in; our shells began to tell. We were firing six
rounds a minute, and were at it until it was too dark to fire any more.
The Boer firing had ceased, and the Guards were able to get up and
retire. They blessed the artillery that day. We had to keep our position
all night, with not a soul near us and nothing to eat and drink. Our
orders were to open fire as soon as it was light enough, and the
infantry were to take the place at the point of the bayonet.... But in
the morning the Boers had fled. The field presented a terrible sight at
daybreak; there were dead and dying in every direction. I couldn't
describe it; it was awful. We lost heavily on our side, but the Boer
losses must have been heavier. The Boers bury their dead in the trenches
as soon as they drop, so that one cannot gauge their loss, but we
counted hundreds."

[Illustration: SERGEANT AND PRIVATE OF THE DUBLIN FUSILIERS.

Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

It is pleasant to remember that this hurried march and its trials were
fully appreciated by Lord Methuen, who reported that the 62nd Battery
was of great service. It must be noted that it came into action between
three and four o'clock in the afternoon. The gunners had made a splendid
forced march from Orange River in some twenty-three hours, yet there and
then, with worn-out horses and jaded frames, joined in the fight.

Heroic actions were so abundant that they made quite a formidable list
in the General's despatch, but they afford such inspiriting reading to
all who honour Great Britain's heroes, that the list is reproduced in
its entirety.

"_From the Lieut.-General Commanding the First Division to the Chief
                          Staff Officer._

                                   "MODDER RIVER, _Dec. 1, 1899_.

     "I have much pleasure in bringing to your notice the names of
     the following officers and rank and file who distinguished
     themselves during the day:--

     "Major Count Gleichen, C.M.G., for the coolness shown by him
     throughout the engagement, especially in attending to the
     wounded under a heavy fire.

     "Sergeant Brown and Private Martin, 3rd Battalion Grenadier
     Guards, who helped him, were both shot.

     "Sergeant-Major Cooke, 3rd Battalion Grenadiers, displayed
     remarkable coolness under fire.

     "Lieutenant the Hon. A. Russell showed great coolness in
     working the machine-gun, which he did with marked success.

     "Major Granville Smith, Coldstream Guards, in volunteering to
     find a ford, which he did in dangerous mud and a strong river.

     "Captain and Adjutant Steele, Coldstream Guards, for excellent
     service during the day.

     "Sergeant-Major S. Wright, Coldstream Guards, showed great
     coolness when a change of ammunition carts was being made, and
     was of great value at a critical time.

     "Native Driver Matthews for making the other natives stick to
     their carts when they would otherwise have bolted.

     "Drill and Colour-Sergeant Price, Coldstream Guards, at Belmont
     and at Modder River rendered excellent service whilst
     commanding half a company.

     "Drill and Colour-Sergeant Plunkett, Coldstream Guards,
     collected 150 men, and helped the 9th Brigade crossing the
     river under Captain Lord Newtown Butler.

     "No. 1825, Lance-Corporal Webb, Coldstream Guards, twice asked
     leave to go into the open to bind up the wounds of a Grenadier;
     under a heavy fire he succeeded in his object.

     "Captain Hervey Bathurst, Grenadier Guards, was of great value
     in rallying a number of Grenadiers and Coldstreams shaken by
     the fire.

     "I again call attention to Colonel Paget's cheerfulness and
     intelligence under the most trying surroundings.

     "He draws attention to Captain Moores, Royal Army Medical
     Corps, who, although wounded in the hand, said nothing, but
     continued his duties. Also he draws attention to the good
     services of the Master of Ruthven, Scots Guards. The valuable
     services of Captain Nugent, aide-de-camp, and Captain
     Ruggles-Brise are again noted.

     "The names of Lieut.-Colonel Barter, King's Own Yorkshire Light
     Infantry, and Major the Hon. C. Lambton, Northumberland
     Fusiliers, are mentioned for having rendered invaluable
     assistance to their Brigadier. Captain Bulfin, Yorkshire
     Regiment, did his duty admirably.

     "Lieutenant Percival, Northumberland Fusiliers, managed with
     great difficulty to establish himself with a small party on a
     point near the railway, from which, by his judgment and
     coolness, he was able to keep down the fire of the enemy, many
     of his small party being killed.

     "Nos. 3499, Lance-Corporal R. Delaney, 4160, Private J. East,
     4563, Private Segar, 4497, Private Snowdon, Northumberland
     Fusiliers, under a very heavy fire picked up and brought in a
     wounded man of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; No. 3955,
     Private Smarley, Northumberland Fusiliers, No. 1 of a Maxim
     detachment, who showed great coolness and judgment when
     wounded.

     "Major Lindsay, Royal Artillery, 75th Battery, ignored a
     painful wound, and continued in command of his battery.
     Lieutenant Begbie, Royal Artillery, suddenly placed in command
     of his battery, led it and brought it into action with great
     coolness.

     "Captain Farrell, wounded a second time, continued to do his
     duty, having first placed a wounded man on one of the
     gun-carriages. Wounded gunners and drivers continued at their
     duty.

     "Lieutenant Rochford Boyd, Royal Artillery, on this, as on
     former occasions, showed himself reliable and capable of acting
     without orders.

     "I personally bring to notice the value of Lieut.-Colonel
     Rhodes's service and Major Streatfeild's service in sending
     forward reinforcements to Major-General Pole-Carew, for on this
     movement the result of the evening's success depended.

     "I cannot too highly commend the conduct of the troops, ably
     assisted by the Naval Brigade, for on them the whole credit of
     our success rests."

There were some miraculous escapes, one sergeant in the Coldstream
Guards having had many nasty experiences. In an account of them he
said:--

     "During the afternoon some one seemed to have spotted me from
     the trenches. First a shot struck the side of my boot and
     struck my rifle just in front of my face, filling my eyes with
     dirt and splinters. I rose up a little, when another shot
     struck the middle finger of my left hand. I had got on my
     knees, when a bullet struck me fair in the chest on the buckle
     of my haversack, breaking it through the centre and causing a
     slight puncture of the skin and bruising my chest. Have been
     congratulated as being the luckiest beggar in my battalion."

The terrible nature of the fighting was described by an officer in the
Guards, who must have had a charmed life. He wrote:--

     "We had no cover except little scrub bushes about six inches
     high, and the ground sloped gently down to the Boers from about
     2000 yards. I don't suppose troops have ever been in a more
     damnable position. I sat up occasionally to see how things were
     going, but only for a moment, as it was always the signal for a
     perfect storm of bullets. My ammunition-bearer had his head
     blown to bits by a 1-lb. shell from a 37-millimetre Maxim, a
     most damnable gun. I happened to be in the line of it just
     before dark, and they pumped six rounds at me. The first four
     pitched in a line about twenty, ten, fifteen, and the fourth
     four yards in front of me, and threw dirt all over me, and the
     next two just pitched behind me. I didn't like it a bit.... It
     was the worst day I have ever spent in my life. Twelve hours
     under a constant and heavy fire of Maxims, 12-pounders, and
     other quick-firing guns and rifles, a hot sun, no cover, no
     water, and no food is more than enough for yours truly.... The
     guns yesterday fought magnificently, and I believe fired more
     rounds per gun than have ever been fired in a battle before....
     We had a lovely wash this morning. I washed shirt and drawers,
     besides myself--I wanted it. My clothes have not been off since
     we left the Orange River on November 21.... Cronje and Steyn
     are said to have both been present at the battle."

In this battle the hardships of warfare were accumulated. Not only had
the troops to display active but passive heroism. Though the longing for
water exceeded the craving for food and repose, the unfortunate fellows
were very near the verge of famine. Their position at times must have
savoured of the tortures of Tantalus, for many of the men were groping
after the enemy in a doubled-up fashion and under a shower of lead,
along farms and gardens, while hens clacked, pigs grunted, goats offered
milk, and potatoes and other edibles smiled a mute invitation. When the
Boers were routed, however, these delicacies at last became the reward
of their labours, but of the niceties of the culinary operations it is
best not to speak. Our gallant Highlanders needed the services of no
Vatel--an old can and a wood fire right royally served their purpose.
The crossing of the river, which was so splendidly effected,
particularly by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was fraught with
unlooked-for dangers, as the following quotation from a letter of a
private in the regiment will show. Talking of the enemy he said:--

     "They held their position for five or six hours, and it was
     with great difficulty that we managed to shift them. Our
     regiment was the first to cross the river on the left flank,
     and my company was the first to get over. We advanced along the
     river and drove the Boers before us; but, unfortunately, our
     big guns dropped two or three shells uncomfortably close to us,
     entirely by mistake. When the first of these shells fell, I was
     only about ten yards past the spot. About twenty of our men
     were killed by the Boer bullets; and our regiment, I think,
     sustained the heaviest loss of any that took part in the fight.
     I felt a bit frightened when I first went into battle, but as
     the day advanced I got myself again. My legs are badly burned
     by the sun, and are very sore, but I am rapidly getting all
     right again. We expect to have another fight this week, and it
     will be even worse than the last, so one never knows the hour
     when he may fall."

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF MODDER RIVER, THE ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND
HIGHLANDERS CROSSING THE DRIFT.

Drawing by Allan Stewart.]

Indeed they did not, and it was a pathetically common experience to wish
a man good luck one morning and on the next to find that his helmet and
belongings were being gathered together--all that was left of him--to be
sent home to his friends. For instance, there was the case of poor
Colour-Sergeant Christian of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a
hero who did magnificent work, but who never lived to receive the
decorations he deserved. An extract from one of his last letters is full
of pathetic interest:--

     "We have been fairly roughing it since we came out here. I have
     lost everything, and have nothing but what I stand up in. I
     haven't had the kilt off since we landed from the boat three
     weeks ago, and we consider it very lucky if we can manage to
     get a wash once a week. Just now we are all right, as the river
     is close at hand. You wouldn't know the regiment now if you saw
     us; we are brown all over. They have taken our sporrans away
     and covered our kilts with khaki cloth; in fact, I believe they
     will be making us dye our whiskers khaki colour next. Not a man
     has shaved since we left Dublin, so you can imagine what we are
     like. I haven't said anything about the battle, as I am sure
     you will know more about it at home than we do here. It may
     seem strange, but it is true. The people at home know more
     about what is going on than we do here. We have been receiving
     congratulatory telegrams from every one connected with the
     regiment, giving us great praise for our share in the battle,
     and really I must say the regiment did very well, considering
     we have so many youngsters in the ranks. The most trying part
     was lying down so long under fire without seeing any one to
     fire at. I was rather luckier, having to retire at first, and
     then chase some Boers out of the house with the bayonet, and
     then we had to ford the river and clear the north bank of the
     river. We were clearing them beautifully with the bayonet when
     a shell from our own guns burst among us. This seemed to
     demoralise every one, and they all commenced to retire. But,
     seeing this was my first fight, I couldn't see my way to retire
     without seeing who I was retiring from, and besides there was a
     lot of wounded lying about; so a major of the North Lancashire
     Regiment and myself succeeded in rallying ten men of different
     corps and held an enclosure. We were soon tackled by the Boers,
     but after we killed half-a-dozen of them they appeared to get
     tired of it and cleared off, and we managed to get all the
     wounded in. I believe I have got recommended for the
     Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Victoria Cross for my share
     in this, but of course it is one thing being recommended and
     quite another thing getting it."

Boer treachery, of which we had many examples, had hitherto been
practised with monotonous regularity. They had fired on the white flag
and disregarded the sacred sign of the red cross. They had shot the hand
that tended them, they had used Dum-Dum and explosive bullets, but on
this occasion the triumph of originality in treacherous trickery was
achieved. On the principle of "all is fair in love and war," the enemy
utilised their ambulance for the purpose of removing their Hotchkiss gun
from the field, and that too when the precious weapon was not even
invalided!

Tales of many plucky actions which were recorded would fill a volume in
itself. Private Anderson, Scots Guards, over and over again traversed
the fire zone and carried off the wounded to a place of safety.
Lieutenant Fox, Yorkshire Light Infantry, was seriously wounded whilst
valiantly leading an assault against the enemy's strong position. When
the horses approached to take the guns out of action, the Boers at once
commenced to aim at them, and for the moment it seemed as though the
work of removing the guns could not be persisted in. Twenty-five horses
were killed, but the chargers of several officers were next utilised,
and the officers themselves, some of them wounded, walked or crawled off
the field in order that the valuable weapons should be borne off in
safety. A driver was also heroically self-abnegating. Though shot
through the lungs, he refused to leave his post, and valiantly drove his
gun out of action.

The list of killed and wounded was a grievously long one:--

     Killed: Staff--Lieutenant-Colonel H. P. Northcote.[7] 2nd
     Coldstream Guards--Lieutenant-Colonel H. Stopford,[8] Captain
     S. Earle. Wounded: Field Artillery--Major W. Lindsay, hand;
     Captain Farrell, foot; Lieutenant Dunlop, shoulder; Lieutenant
     Furse. 3rd Grenadier Guards--Major Count Gleichen, severely;
     Lieutenant Hon. E. Lygon, slight. 2nd Coldstream
     Guards--Lieutenant Viscount Acheson. Royal Army Medical
     Corps--Captain Gurse Moore. Killed: 2nd Yorkshire Light
     Infantry, Second Lieutenant L. W. Long. Wounded:
     Staff--Lieutenant-General Lord Methuen, slightly; bullet flesh
     wound in thigh. Royal Engineers--Captain N. G. Von Hugel,
     slightly. 3rd Grenadier Guards--Second Lieutenant A. H.
     Travers, slightly. 1st Scots Guards--Lieutenant H. C. Elwes,
     seriously; Second Lieutenant W. J. M. Hill, 1st Loyal North
     Lancashire--Lieutenant R. B. Flint, slightly. 2nd Yorkshire
     Light Infantry--Major H. Earle, Major G. F. Ottley, Lieutenant
     R. M. D. Fox. 1st Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders--Lieutenant
     H. B. F. Baker-Carr, Second Lieutenant W. G. Neilson.


                            AFTER THE FIGHT

All night long energetic members of the Ambulance Corps picked their way
over the battlefield collecting the wounded and succouring them. Not
only had our unhappy sufferers to be attended to, but many of the enemy,
of whom there was an unusual number. So anxious had been the Dutchmen to
clear out before our troops could reach them in the morning, that,
contrary to custom, they had left wounded, doctors, and ambulance train
behind them.

After the uproar of the conflict and the night of merciful repose were
over, the troops were able to inspect their new quarters. The pretty
little village presented a strange sight--a study in contrasts for the
meditative mind. A pastoral calm reigned everywhere, though scarcely a
house, farm, or hotel but could bear witness to the terrible energy of
the British fire.

The scene was one of picturesque green fertility and black blistered
ruin. Peacefully flowed the cool rippling river--the river in which the
delighted Tommy rushed to bathe--while in its bosom lay the bodies of
the slain, Boer men and Boers' horses, which had hurriedly been cast
away and hidden, so that the full tale of loss might never be revealed.
Serenely waved the willows and acacias on the banks and neighbouring
islets, smiling with polished green leaves over the forms of the ragged,
grimy, unkempt slain--the riffraff of the Boer commandoes, who were left
lying as they fell. The dark trail of blood dyed the earth round mimosa
and cactus hedges, while a thousand perforations on the roofs of the
corrugated iron dwellings confessed to the all too fervent kisses of
British lead. Shell holes, shattered doors and broken windows, telegraph
poles lying about, with their hairy whiskers twisting raggedly over the
veldt, farmhouses burnt to cinders, hotels that had once been smart in
their way now weevilled by shrapnel--all these things surrounded the
encamped division which so brilliantly had crossed the river. And in the
hearts of the conquerors there was also (in some measure) a reflection
of these contrasts--there was rejoicing over animal comforts restored,
the freedom to quench thirst, to remove boots, to eat and to smoke after
an over-long spell of battle; yet at the same time, deep down, there
lurked a numb and dumb feeling of regret for the good fellows who were
going--were known to be sinking into eternity, and for those--so many
of them!--who had already gone.

Very simple but very sad and impressive was the funeral of Colonel
Stopford, who was shot early in the fight the day before. His grave was
made in a peaceful spot beside one of the gardens of the village, and
garlands gathered by his men of the 2nd Coldstream Guards were placed
all over it. Major the Marquis of Winchester--so soon to join his lost
comrade--acted as chief mourner. He took over the duties of Commandant
of the regiment, which duties he was doomed to perform for twelve days
only. But we are anticipating.

During the whole of the days following, a melancholy procession of
invalids passed to the railway, and on, home for good, or to hospital,
whence they hoped to return again to pay their debt to the enemy. On
some death had set his mark, with others he had but shaken hands and
passed on.

The river was soon found to be crowded with dead men and horses, which
had been hurriedly consigned to the mercy of the waters, and
arrangements had to be made for encampment farther up the stream.
Quantities of Boer spies still lingered about the camp, some of them
pretending to be ambulance drivers, in order to get nearer and closer
inspection of British movements. Fortunately these wily folk somewhat
overreached themselves, and their further activities were interrupted by
arrest.

Meanwhile the sappers wrought wonderful things. They had shown the stuff
they were made of by crossing over the river-dam in the teeth of the
enemy. They now demonstrated their ability in their own special line.
The Modder bridge was entirely wrecked, but very speedily a temporary
one was constructed, and the railway, which had also suffered at the
hands of the enemy, was repaired with great celerity, and brought into
working order. Lieutenant Crispin of the Northumberland Fusiliers was
wounded while out on patrol duty. Fortunately the injury sustained by
Lord Methuen was slight, and there was every hope that he would be equal
to active duty in the course of a very few days.

We must now leave this division in the enjoyment of its well-earned
repose and return to Ladysmith, which was fast becoming the cage of 9000
of our gallant troops.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Cecil Edward Keith-Falconer, born in October
1860, was gazetted to the Northumberland Fusiliers in January 1883. He was
promoted Captain in 1892 and passed through the Staff College with
honours. He served with the 13th Soudanese Battalion in the Dongola
Expeditionary force under Lord Kitchener in 1896, and acted as
Brigade-Major to Colonel H. Macdonald at the engagements of Abu Hamed,
Berber, Atbara, and finally at the battle of Omdurman. In recognition of
these services he was three times mentioned in despatches, promoted as
Brevet-Major in March 1898, and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in November
1898, and received the Khedive's medal with four clasps. He acted as
A.D.C. to Lord Loch when Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Victoria from
1887 to 1889, and subsequently at the Cape of Good Hope from 1889 to 1890.
Colonel Keith-Falconer was the eldest son of the late Major the Hon.
Charles J. Keith-Falconer, son of the seventh Earl of Kintore.

[6] Commander Alfred Peel Ethelston, of the cruiser _Powerful_, who was
among the killed at the battle of Graspan, joined the navy in 1875, and
two years later became a midshipman. In 1882 he attained the rank of
sub-lieutenant, was promoted to a lieutenancy in 1885, and was made
commander at the beginning of 1897. As sub-lieutenant of the _Helicon_ he
took part in the naval and military operations in the Eastern Soudan at
Suakim in 1884-85, for which he received the Egyptian medal and the
Khedive's bronze star. Commander Ethelston was appointed to the _Powerful_
two years ago.

[7] Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel H. Ponting Northcote, who belonged to the
Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment, became a Lieutenant in 1877, Captain
in 1886, and Major in 1894. He served in the Sherbro' Expedition in 1883
with the 2nd West India Regiment, and was mentioned in despatches,
receiving a medal, and was afterwards created a C.B. In 1888 he served in
the operations in Zululand as Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General, while in
1895 he accompanied the expedition to Ashanti under Sir Francis Scott,
receiving the star.

[8] Lieutenant-Colonel Horace Robert Stopford, of the Coldstream Guards,
was appointed a Lieutenant in 1874, Captain in 1885, and Major in 1893. He
had not previously been on war service.



                               CHAPTER IV

                      THE INVESTMENT OF LADYSMITH


Before going farther it may be interesting to inspect a rough table
showing approximately the composition and total strength of the British
and Boer forces at the various points mentioned:--

                   LADYSMITH

BRITISH                                   BOER

21st, 42nd, and 53rd Field     \                                    \
Batteries; Battalion of Natal  |                                    |
Artillery; two guns of the     |                                    |
Natal Naval Reserve; Natal     |                                    |
Mounted Volunteers; 5th        |                                    |
Lancers; 19th Hussars; 1st     |                                    |
Battalion Liverpool Regiment;  |                                    |
2nd Battalion Gordon           |                                    |
Highlanders; 1st Battalion     |                                    |
Devonshire Regiment; 1st       |                                    |
Manchesters; several companies |                                    |
of Mounted Infantry; Medical   |                                    |
Corps; Veterinary Corps; 23rd  |                                    |
Company Royal Engineers;       |                                    |
reinforcements from            |         Combined Free State and    |
Maritzburg; Naval Brigade      }13,550   Transvaal forces           }30,500
(750)                          |                                    |
                               |                                    |
_Following from Glencoe_:--    |                                    |
                               |                                    |
13th, 67th, and 69th Field     |                                    |
Batteries; 18th Hussars; Natal |                                    |
Mounted Volunteers; 1st        |                                    |
Battalion Leicestershire       |                                    |
Regiment; 1st and 2nd          |                                    |
Battalions King's Royal        |                                    |
Rifles; 2nd Battalion Dublin   |                                    |
Fusiliers; several companies   |                                    |
of Mounted Infantry; Field     |                                    |
Hospital Corps                 /                                    /

                  KIMBERLEY

Four companies of the Loyal    \         Free Staters, and probably \
North Lancashire Regiment;     |         some Transvaal Boers, with |
Battery of Royal Garrison      |         four field-guns, 3500; on  |
Artillery, consisting of six   }2500     Orange River, 2000;        }6500
7-pounder mountain-guns; a     |         Reinforcements from        |
large party of Royal           |         Mafeking, 1000             |
Engineers; detachment of the   |                                    |
Army Medical Corps             /                                    /

                  MAFEKING

Colonel Baden-Powell, with 500 \         1000 Transvaal Boers under \
Cavalry, 200 Cape Mounted      |         Commandant Cronje; 500     |
Police and B.S.A. Company's    |         Boers at Maritzani         |
Mounted Police, 60 Volunteers, }1500                                }1500
6 machine-guns, two            |                                    |
7-pounders, 200 to 300         |                                    |
townsmen used to arms          /                                    /

At Tuli, or moving towards Mafeking, was Colonel Plumer's column, which
consisted of about 1000 men, and was opposed by an equal force of
Boers.

At Palapye there was a British force of 700, which was watched by a
Burgher force of about 1000.

The Boers had also a force estimated at 3000 in laager near Komati
Poort.

At Estcourt there was a considerable force under Brigadier-General
Wolfe-Murray, and at Pietermaritzburg other troops.

Distributed along the northern border of Cape Colony were some 5000 Free
State Boers and about 1000 or 1500 British troops and police.

The Natal Field Force was now confronted with the bulk of the Boer
commandoes, whose strength was vastly superior to its own, and whose
courage was generally acknowledged to be splendid. The Dutch have ever a
stoical stolidity which serves them in the hour of need as does the
bulldog tenacity of the Briton, and therefore "those who knew" were not
without apprehension in regard to the upshot of hostilities. It was
plain to all who were in any way familiar with previous history and with
local conditions that the struggle was likely to be both prolonged and
bloody, and they urged on the attention of those at home the need of
reinforcements. Yet the soldiers, particularly those who had recently
arrived, were light-hearted and confident, full of satisfaction to be
let loose from their hencoops in the ships, and keen to try conclusions
with the Boers. At Ladysmith the state of affairs was becoming more and
more complicated, and the invasion of the Free Staters into Cape Colony
was now an accomplished fact. The enemy's tactics everywhere were
acknowledged to be excellent, and where tactics failed tricks succeeded.
The Boer dodges, though scarcely honourable, might be described by the
Americans as "cute." For instance, an enterprising officer of the
Transvaal artillery conceived the idea of utilising the flag of truce in
a new and original fashion. Disguised as an ambulance driver, he arrived
at Ladysmith, and improved the occasion by observing the effects of Boer
artillery fire on the town.

The use of the white flag by the enemy was now beginning to be
distrusted, for daily evidences of treachery were forthcoming. As one
correspondent said in writing home of the subject, "Its advantages they
seem to construe in too liberal a spirit, but of its obligations on the
men who hoist it they do not appear to be aware." As in old times, they
tried to use the white flag to assist them in going from cover to cover,
or to create delay while guns were being adjusted in more convenient
positions. Nor was this all. A wounded Boer accepted water with one hand
from a British soldier, while he shot him with the other, and numberless
accounts of dastardly deeds of a similar nature were reported and
authenticated.

On November 2 the Boers began to occupy the points of vantage around
Ladysmith, and telegraphic communication with the south was cut. They
energetically commenced the building of emplacements for their guns of
position, which were fast being forwarded from the Transvaal.
Reinforcements from the Free State were also pouring in, and a Boer
commando was creeping towards Colenso. In spite of threatened serious
inconveniences, hopes were high and spirits cheery, especially among the
newspaper correspondents, who, regardless of danger, drove four-in-hand
round the camp and fortifications, and helped to maintain a
devil-may-care attitude that was certainly reassuring. Ammunition was
plentiful, but water--Klip water--was somewhat inclined to cause colic,
and, in consequence, to be generally suspected. It was no uncommon sight
to see at the Royal Hotel ladies heating their kettles prior to drinking
their doubtful contents. Flies were so numerous as to make another
persistent inconvenience. They destroyed such repose as the inhabitants
might otherwise have enjoyed. Added to these petty discomforts were
night-alarms of various kinds, and curious and disconcerting
discoveries. For example, one young man--an immaculate young man--well
turned out and apparently plentifully endowed with ready money, was
discovered to be a Boer spy, and was promptly arrested. An account of
the last days of a British sojourner in Ladysmith serves to give an
example of the trials and anxieties through which hundreds had to
pass:--

"Since my last note to you we have had some lively times of it at
Ladysmith. I always had a liking to see a real battle, but never thought
that it would be my luck. However, I have now seen four battles, and I
think that I am satisfied. I can assure you that it is anything but
pleasant to go on the field after battle. The sights of the wounded and
dead are horrible, and yet the soldiers are always laughing and joking
when they are going out to fight, and the poor fellows are getting very
little rest. They never have a chance to get their boots off. They have
to be always ready to move at a moment's notice, and they do it with
light heart. Your heart would have ached to see the lot that came down
to Ladysmith from Dundee. They were not strong enough for the Boers, so
they made a forced march of it, and they had terribly bad weather. It
was raining all the time, and when they came into Ladysmith they were
mud all over and in rags. Some of them were carrying their boots in
their hands and could hardly crawl. Mrs. V. and myself made some buckets
of coffee and let them have a pull at it; and were not they thankful for
it? A word about how we are going on here. I don't know whether you are
getting any news at home about the war, but we can't get to know
anything here, as the whole country is under martial law, and they won't
let the papers publish any news concerning the war.... Now the Boers are
all round Ladysmith, and our troops can only defend the town. I don't
think for a moment that the Boers will take Ladysmith unless they get
strongly reinforced, and I don't think that will happen. However, the
sooner that troops arrive for the relief of the garrisons that are here
and hemmed in by the Boers the better it will be for Britain. There is
no doubt about it that the Boers have got our troops in a tight corner,
and Britain is a bit slow, not having her troops here before now. I hear
that troops are likely to land next week, and I hope that it is true. I
had to leave Ladysmith on November 2; the military authorities would not
grant me a permit to stay, so they gave me my free pass to Durban, where
I intend to stop until the trouble is over. You would have laughed to
see some of the men running out into the street with no clothes on when
the Boers sent their first shell into Ladysmith. It came into the town
at 5.15 A.M. I was up and partly dressed, as I had heard the firing, and
was going to have a look at the battle, when in came the shell right
over the house I was staying in and dropped on the road. I was sure that
it was going to hit the house. The shell makes a terrific whistling as
it travels through the air.... The Bluejackets did some very good work.
They arrived by train about eleven o'clock, and by twelve o'clock they
had off-loaded their guns and got them into action, and their third shot
silenced the Boers' 40-pounder."

[Illustration: SCENE ON THE TUGELA.]

Our cavalry while reconnoitring discovered a large force of the Boers
which was manoeuvring to the south of the town. The troopers charged,
and succeeded in cutting their way through the enemy. Meanwhile at
Grobler's Kloof the Volunteer Light Infantry, a corps that had been
doing splendid work throughout, met the enemy, and a sharp encounter was
maintained, but they were outnumbered by their assailants. An armoured
train brought troops to their assistance, and these enabled them to
return safely to headquarters. The naval gunners were active, and scored
as usual, for they finally succeeded in putting the big gun on Hepworth
Hill out of action. "Long Tom," an objectionable weapon and a great
favourite with the enemy, was now posted on Mount Umbulwana, whence at
intervals it spat viciously upon the town, but without causing serious
damage. The enemy, as we know, made a move towards Colenso, and the
officer commanding at that place decided to fall back with men and
horses on Estcourt. The move over some twenty miles of hilly country was
admirably executed, and all stores, huts, kit, &c., were preserved.

Meanwhile Sir George White sent out a strong force under the command of
Colonel Brocklehurst, reinforced by the 5th Dragoon Guards, Royston's
Horse, and two batteries, for the purpose of making a flank attack on
the Boer commando that was advancing on Colenso. Splendid work was done,
the Boers being routed from all their positions and three guns silenced.
The Imperial Light Horse pressed too far into a gully, and for a time
their position was critical, but they were extricated by the 5th Dragoon
Guards. The Boers took up a strong position on the hills, and were
shelled with terrific effect by the British artillery. Finally they
retreated, and were cut to pieces by the cavalry. Quantities of
prisoners were made, and over a thousand burghers were said to be
slain--in fact, the veldt was a complete parquet of dead Dutchmen.
Lieutenant the Hon. R. Pomeroy, 5th Dragoon Guards, greatly
distinguished himself by pluckily riding to the rescue of a dismounted
trooper and carrying him out of the fire zone. Captain Knapp and
Lieutenant Brabant were killed.

At Ladysmith there was temporary peace after the enemy's fire had
succeeded in hitting the hospital and a hotel. Fortunately no one was
injured. All were mourning the loss of Major Taunton, Captain Knapp, and
Lieutenant Brabant, who fell in the engagement on the previous day.
General French, by what is termed "a close shave," succeeded in getting
out of Ladysmith, and went down to Cape Town to take over the command of
the Cavalry Brigade, and General Wolfe-Murray at Estcourt, with a
mounted battery, reconnoitred in the direction of Colenso. Efforts were
made to restore communication with Ladysmith, but in vain; yet the
troops within kept up a cheerful attitude, and a continuous artillery
duel was carried on between besiegers and besieged.

The art of dodging shells had by this time begun to be studied by the
least nervous, for no place was safe from these screeching messengers of
death. Hard roadways were rent in twain and deep gulfs dug in their
midst. Gardens, from being trim and neat, became a scene of upheaval and
dilapidation; the open veldt was strewed with dust and debris, and rocks
were shot from their positions and sent hurtling here and there to
assist in the work of wreckage. It was curious to notice upon different
temperaments the effect of the shells' arrival. Some persons might be
seen holding their hands to their heads as though to protect them from
damage; others shrank under the nearest available cover or screwed
themselves up as though endeavouring to make smaller parcels of
themselves, or hoping to lessen their own obstructiveness to the passage
of the devilish invader; some would flatten their backs against a
wall--make pancakes of themselves--while others would fall prone to
earth, and there grovel till the moment of peril was past. Many would
rush helter-skelter towards the river-caves, vast places of refuge that
had been dug into the deep-shelving clay and sandbanks of the Klip, and
there, in their rocky hiding-places, breathe freely and await the
inevitable fracas that told them, temporarily, that the coast was clear.
These caves and their powers of accommodation began to be deeply
interesting to the community, and daily the soldiers were set to work
constructing new ones for the safety of the apprehensive. The places
varied in size and quality according to the demands of their tenants.
Some would accommodate a dozen people standing upright in them, and even
admitted of furniture of a rough kind--bedding, seats, eatables, and
cooking-pots--just enough to enable nervous folks to go "out of town"
for a day or two during a period of bombardment. Others were mere
fox-holes, as it were, alcoves scooped out of the bank to serve as a
screen for the more hardy souls who were content to breathe the air of
the river-brink, and only popped their heads under cover in ostrich
fashion when danger threatened. The banks thus became honeycombed, and
it was not unusual to find a whole family perched all day long with
their backs against the protecting wall and their eyes fixed
meditatively on the purling stream, awaiting with resignation the whims
of "Long Tom."

In the early days of the siege a great deal of scooping and excavating
went on, and you might see on one side some gallant tiller of the soil
providing cover for a lady, while another rigged up sheltered
garden-seats for children. An amusing picture was beheld of three
massive Gordons in their kilts plying pick and shovel for a small couple
in distress, a natty little woman in a state of panic which agreed badly
with her smart ribbons, and her small lord who shared her anxiety for a
place of safety. The Scotsmen delved and scooped and built the temporary
shelter, indulging in the gayest jokes, and laughing and talking the
while delicious "Aberdeen awa,'" till the hearers became so absorbed and
interested that they almost forgot the fact that such a thing as a "Long
Tom" existed. The daily operations were also of a highly-spirited
character, for the British forces not only defended themselves with the
greatest animation against artillery somewhat superior to their own, but
at times took the offensive and harassed the enemy considerably. On
three different occasions they made attacks on the Boer batteries on
Umbulwana Hill, and though the British losses were somewhat heavy, those
of the Boers were still greater. A message was sent by Sir George White
to General Joubert requesting him to allow women, children, and
non-combatants to leave the town in order to escape the effects of the
bombardment, and the Boer General invited those who wished to go, to do
so under protection of the Umbulwana guns, but intimated that all who
had borne arms would be treated as prisoners of war. Finally, however,
after a meeting had been held and the matter discussed threadbare, it
was decided that the citizens of Ladysmith could accept no terms from
the enemy, and the meeting dispersed to the tune of "God save the
Queen," in which all fervently joined in chorus. The only means of
communication with the outer world was now by pigeon-post, and there was
therefore much excitement when Lieutenant Hooper (5th Lancers) arrived
on the scene. Guided by a Natal policeman, he had managed to sneak
unnoticed through the Boer lines and to reach the British camp in
safety.

All sorts of efforts were made to save Ladysmith from her doom, and an
armoured train was sent from Estcourt for the purpose of reestablishing
communication with the town, but the train had to return without
accomplishing its mission. In spite of this, the proprietor of a hotel
in Ladysmith very cleverly managed to travel from the beleaguered town
to Estcourt without being captured by the Boers. He made a detour along
Kaffir paths in order to elude the Boer outposts, riding all night and
arriving at his destination unharmed. At that time, as may be imagined,
the investment of Ladysmith was almost complete. The enemy's big guns
dominated the town east, north, and west, "Long Tom" pursuing its
annoying and disquieting vocation with intermittent vigour. Most of the
people had now quitted their homes and were taking refuge in the caves
before described, while the shops, in default of customers, were closed.
The convent, which was occupied by nuns together with the wounded, was
struck by a shell, but happily without injury to its inmates. The
neutrals betook themselves to a camp under Mount Umbulwana, which some
inventive person appropriately christened "Funkumdorf," but there some
plucky women and children refused to go, preferring to cast in their lot
with the valiant defenders of the little town. At this time people and
horses were still in good condition and spirits; the military
inhabitants amused themselves with polo and cricket, as though there was
no chance of being bowled out by "Long Tom," while the ladies gave
little concerts for the amusement of the select circle. So great was the
pluck of this little community, that they even edited a paper called the
_Ladysmith Lyre_, a species of Transvaal edition of _Truth_, which, if
not _vero_, was certainly _ben trovato_.

A new instance of the Boers' treachery soon took place. They sent in
under a flag of truce a number of refugees from the Transvaal. They were
met outside the pickets by a flag of truce from Ladysmith, but no sooner
had the parties separated, and before the British could reach the
pickets, than the Boers fired upon them. These continued breaches of the
laws of civilised warfare continued to exasperate the troops, who,
whenever they got a chance, naturally tried to wipe off old scores.

On the 9th November, the King's Royal Rifles and the Rifle Brigade in
the north, and the Manchester Regiment in the south, succeeded in
repelling two simultaneous attacks, inflicting on the Boers a loss
roughly estimated at about 700 to 1000. A deep trench which had been
made by the enemy on their temporary retirement, to bring forward
horses, was promptly captured by the Rifle Brigade. From thence, when
the Boers returned, they were briskly fired on, with the result that
they retreated in hot haste across open ground. Taking advantage of this
opportunity, the artillery commenced an effective fire, inflicting on
the Dutch considerable loss. The Manchester Regiment, which occupied a
position at Cæsar's Camp, for the purpose of protecting the
south-western side of the town, caught several hundred Boers hiding from
shells in a ditch. They poured on them several volleys, and the enemy
suffered severely. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Lethbridge (Rifle Brigade)
was mortally wounded, and Lieutenant Fisher, of the Manchesters,
received a slight wound in the shoulder. About noon, after seven hours'
continuous fighting, the combined attack upon the town failed and the
Boers retired. Then, in honour of the Prince of Wales's birthday, the
big guns in the Naval redoubts commenced a salute of twenty-one guns,
each shot in stately procession following the other and bursting over
the Boer positions. Outside the battery, on King Kop, stood Sir George
White surrounded by his Staff. The General led the way by raising three
cheers for the Prince, and then Captain Lambton and the gunners on the
top of the breastwork took up the roar and passed it on to the Rifle
Brigade, lying in their sangars along the top of the ridge, till the
whole atmosphere was vibrant with loud and prolonged cheering. In the
evening the troops drank to the health of his Royal Highness, and
succeeded in sending home telegraphic congratulations. On that day the
townspeople, for greater safety, went into laager on the racecourse, and
the military lines were removed some three miles out, so as to avoid the
persistent shelling of the enemy. Major Gale, R.E., was wounded while
sending a message.

Efforts were made to establish heliographic communication between
Estcourt and Ladysmith, but the atmospheric conditions were entirely
against the success of the operation. Bombardment continued, and life
was pursued to the continuous thunder of the Naval guns firing lyddite
and the "Long Toms" of the Boers, now within a three-mile range,
replying with persistent and deadly reverberation. But the community in
Ladysmith were not so depressed by their incarceration as to lose the
spirit of fun altogether. In default of other entertainment, they
beguiled the time by indulging in various practical jokes at the expense
of the Boers. The greatest achievement was the preparation of a smart
dummy, on which the irate Dutchmen wasted a considerable amount of
ammunition. The effigy was manufactured of straw and attired in the
uniform of the Lancers, by whom it was modelled. Its imposing form,
placed near the Boer position, had an air of lifelike reality, and
naturally the enemy jumped at a chance of riddling so venturesome a foe.
Away whistled Mauser bullets round the head of the supposed courageous
Lancer, who budged never a bit. Shot failing--the big gun was turned on.
Bang, bang! Boom, boom! Still was the warrior unperturbed. After
considerable expenditure of both shot and shell, the truth, much to the
disgust of the assailants, dawned upon them!

[Illustration: COMPLETE MACHINE GUN DETACHMENT OF MOUNTED INFANTRY.

PHOTO BY ELDRIDGE, COLCHESTER]

So pleasing was the success of this manoeuvre, that the Liverpools,
for further recreation, got up a miniature Tussaud's. They arrayed a row
of martial effigies, and waited with the glee of school-boys while the
artillery from the neighbouring hills pounded away at what they imagined
to be some dauntless Britons who dared to defy them.

Efforts to signal to Ladysmith by heliograph still continued to fail, at
least to reach those for whom the display was intended, though the Boer
heliograph graciously acknowledged the communication. It answered
jocosely, "Will be with you to-morrow." The British reply was
monosyllabic! The pigeon-post medium was resorted to, and by this means
those outsiders struggling for its relief were informed that with
Ladysmith all was well.

[Illustration: GENERAL SIR GEORGE STEWART WHITE, V.C., G.C.B., THE
DEFENDER OF LADYSMITH.

Photo by Window & Grove, London.]

The process of pigeon postal communication was exceedingly interesting.
Mr. Arthur Hirst, who at the onset of the war had started a loft of the
best Yorkshire racing pigeons at Durban, settled himself at the
Intelligence Department Headquarters, Ladysmith, and from thence sent
out his intelligent birds. Of these he had some 200, all of which were
trained by himself and his assistants. His early experiments were most
successful. He despatched thirteen pigeons to Durban, a distance of 200
miles, yet they arrived safely with messages within five hours. The
birds were returned from thence for more work. After that time Mr. Hirst
continued training a hundred young birds to travel from the seat of war
to Ladysmith, and great interest was taken by all who began to
understand that news of the outer world would shortly be very limited
indeed.

On the 14th the Free State troops took up a position on a small kopje
whence a British battery strove to rout them. There was some smart
cannonading, till the British were forced to fall back on the town.
Their day assault over, the Boers tried a new experiment, that of a
midnight attack. All the Afrikander cannon simultaneously opened fire on
the town, turning the sleeping scene into a lurid inferno. Several
buildings caught fire, and the whistling and shrieking shells at
intervals made terrifying music in the weird silence of the night.


                                ESTCOURT

Opinions regarding Estcourt differ. Some consider it a picturesque and
verdant little village, placed in the bosom of the hills and very
similar to a Sussex hamlet on the Downs. Others have described it as
well deserving the name of being the hottest and most unpleasant region
in the high veldt of Natal. It is in the thorn country, and is
surrounded with rough irregular kopjes. The railway bridge over the
Bushman's River is an imposing structure, and the line leads from Durban
to Maritzburg, Colenso, and Ladysmith, and thence to the Orange Free
State and the Transvaal. A little lower down the river is a substantial
bridge that runs across from Estcourt to Fort Napier, a quaint-looking
structure, neither ornamental nor useful, for hills behind and round it
command the situation. Thus commanded, it is utterly indefensible, and
would need an army corps to hold it. The garrison, under
Brigadier-General Wolfe-Murray, at this time consisted of the Royal
Dublin Fusiliers, the Border Regiment, one squadron of Imperial Light
Horse, Natal Field Artillery, and some scouts. This small force would
have been absolutely inadequate to the defence of the place had it been
seriously attacked. The Boers in hordes were supported at Colenso by
heavy guns, while the British troops that had to evacuate that village
had but one obsolete nine-pounder manned by volunteers. The absence of
good guns was everywhere deplored. At Ladysmith the position was merely
saved by the hasty arrival at the very last moment of the Naval Brigade
with their formidable weapons, and at Colenso the regrettable evacuation
was obligatory solely on account of the lack of guns. The depressing
effect of retreat on the unhappy colonists who had their homes in the
neighbourhood may be imagined.

From Estcourt on a clear day, with a northerly wind blowing, the
exciting sound of hostilities in the neighbourhood of Ladysmith was
distinctly to be heard, the deep bass of "Long Tom" booming upon the
air, while the heavy baritone of the 4.7 Naval guns kept up the
diabolical duet. Intense curiosity as to the doings of the besieged
prevailed, but it was impossible to do more than mount up some of the
highest hills and look down into the cup of shadow where Ladysmith was
known to be. In that direction the hollow presented the air of an active
volcano, volumes of smoke floating upwards, and spreading their message
of bombardment and resistance far and wide. But nothing active could be
done. The tiny garrison, it was true, was receiving reinforcements, but
these came in by driblets. General Wolfe-Murray engaged himself in
planning defences which should at all events make Estcourt into a hard
nut to crack, and caused redoubts and intrenchments to be constructed so
that the place might be safe against such attack as the Boers would
make. The troops were kept in excellent training, to ensure their
fitness to take the field at a moment's notice.

On the 9th of November there was general satisfaction owing to the safe
arrival, under a flag of truce, of ninety-eight wounded from Dundee. The
officers among them were Colonel Beckett of the Natal Field Force, Major
Hammersley, Lancashire Fusiliers; Captain Adam, A.D.C.; Captain
M'Lachlan, Major Boultbee, King's Royal Rifles; Lieutenant C. N.
Perreau, Captain Dibly, Dublin Fusiliers; and Lieutenant B. de W. Weldon
of the Leicesters. There was also some grim rejoicing in hearing reports
that were brought in that the Boers in their attack on Ladysmith had
suffered severely, and that Bester's Farm, to meet the strain, had been
turned by them into a hospital. The first detachment of the
long-looked-for division was now expected, and every one in camp began
already to think the siege of Ladysmith might be considered a thing of
the past.

Nothing warlike took place for some days. On the 14th, however, at noon,
the sound of three guns gave evidence that parties of the enemy had
somewhere made their appearance. The garrison--now counting the West
Yorks--numbering some 3000 men, stood to arms. Colonel Martyn, in
command of the mounted troops, at once started off in the direction
whence a crackling of musketry proceeded. The Boers, in some force, were
located on the summit of a hill firing at our scouts, who quickly
retired. Two guns of the Natal Field Artillery were at once sent for,
but their arrival was a signal for the enemy to beat a hasty retreat.
Their retirement was merely momentary, however, for they went along a
chain of hills, and appeared again on another eminence in full force. A
squadron of the Natal Carabineers attempted to turn their flank for the
purpose of ascertaining their strength, and in so doing estimated their
numbers at about 500; any effort to dislodge so large a party would
therefore have been useless, and Colonel Martyn with his small force was
just about to retire to the hills above Estcourt, when the Boers were
observed to be on the move. They were evidently preparing to clear off,
which they rapidly did, particularly when assisted by a volley from the
Natal Carabineers, whose nimble horses clambered up to the crest with
marvellous celerity. After this, in default of sufficient cavalry, there
was no choice but to retire. Men and horses were absolutely "dead beat."
The expedition, with the mounting of the almost impregnable hill, had
occupied six hours. This, however, was only an example of the many,
almost daily, encounters that were necessary to arrest the enemy in his
advance to the south.


                  ARMOURED TRAIN DISASTER AT CHIEVELEY

So little is known by civilians of the nature and appearance of armoured
trains, which played so prominent a part in the war, that a rough sketch
of the "altogether" of one of these ungainly and diabolical machines may
here be given. Armoured trains are hastily-constructed affairs,
consisting of a locomotive and a few waggons, the engine generally being
located about the middle of the train. The waggons and locomotive are
covered by boiler-plating three-quarters of an inch thick, as firmly
riveted as time will allow. One of these trains was constructed at
Mafeking, where there are several railway shops, the town being on the
new main line from the Cape to Buluwayo. The locomotive is the only part
of the train that does not carry guns, the steel casing being solely to
protect the mechanism of the engine from the shot of the enemy. The
remainder of the armour is thickly perforated with portholes, through
which guns of varying calibre peep, the Maxim, Nordenfeldt, and Gatling
being the most serviceable weapons for this kind of work. The smaller
holes are for the rifles of the marksmen, and usually the deadliest
shots in a regiment are, when possible, selected for the position. It
takes an expert marksman to shoot with satisfactory results from a
quickly-moving train. Usually an armoured train is also supplied with a
powerful searchlight, in view of a possible night attack. Of course, the
boiler tubing can offer no resistance to artillery. In fact, rifle shots
fired at short range will sometimes penetrate the plates, and to meet
such a possibility sand-bags are often provided, as was the case in the
Egyptian campaign, when the Sirdar found the armoured train of great
service. The man in command of an armoured train thinks first, when an
emergency arises, of his engine. So long as that remains in workable
condition the odds are on his side; but once the vital parts of the
locomotive are damaged, the outlook becomes serious, for an armoured
train can only carry a small body of men, who would be quickly
surrounded by the enemy, who might number hundreds or thousands. The
chances are that an armoured train could not be damaged to such an
extent unless artillery, dynamite, or some equally destructive force
were used.

A machine of this kind, but of third-rate pretensions, was now
continually used by the troops at Frere for the purpose of discovering
the whereabouts of the enemy, and on the 15th of November an exciting
and disastrous voyage was made in the "death-trap," as it was called.
The troops had orders to proceed from Estcourt to Frere, and beyond if
possible, to ascertain how far the line was practicable for the passage
of an army.

The crew of this train consisted of Captain Haldane (Gordon
Highlanders), in command of some seventy non-commissioned officers and
men of the Dublin Fusiliers, Lieutenant Frankland, Captain Wylie, and
Lieutenant Alexander, with forty-five non-commissioned officers and men
of the Durham Light Infantry, and five Bluejackets under a petty
officer. Mr. Winston Spencer Churchill, who was acting as war
correspondent to the _Morning Post_, also accompanied the party, and in
addition to him were certain railway employees to repair damages. No
sooner had the train got to Frere and telegraphed "all well" than
trouble began. It started to go still farther forward, in spite of the
fact that natives were seen gesticulating warnings. On reaching
Chieveley Station, it was found that there were Boers, who had hitherto
been lying in ambush, eagerly looking out for them. These were posted in
large numbers on either side of the line. Of course, the train began at
once to steam back, but even as it did so a volley was poured on it from
the enemy. With hideous clatter the bullets thudded on the iron, and
several cannon began at once to play on the unlucky machine. Then, to
add to its misfortunes, without pause or warning of any kind, the trucks
suddenly, with a jerk and a crash, leapt into the air. They, at least,
appeared to do so, overturning in the act, and shooting their contents
helter-skelter, "like potatoes out of a sack." The words are quoted from
the description of a sufferer who himself experienced the unpleasant
sensation. Several of the men were mortally injured. A platelayer was
killed on the spot. The cause of the disaster was simple and easily to
be explained. The Boers had laid a trap for the train, and placed an
impediment on the rails behind it, so that on its retreating journey it
should become a complete wreck, and thus place the troops entirely at
their mercy. And their ingenious machinations succeeded.

The enemy, triumphant, then opened fire with a Maxim and two 9-pounders
from a kopje covered with brushwood, while Boer sharpshooters hidden in
dongas and behind boulders also assisted. The Dublins and Volunteers
fought gallantly; thrice they drove the enemy back, but the brave
fellows, already suffering from the shock of having been shot with great
force on the line, were from the first at a disadvantage, and unable at
once to gather themselves together to meet the instantaneous fire of the
Dutchmen. All they could do was to scramble to their feet--some were too
securely jammed under the trucks to be freed--take up a position as firm
as barked knees and bruised spines would allow, and defend themselves
against the sudden attack. Mr. Churchill and Lieutenant Frankland
immediately called for volunteers to help in clearing the line. Many
hearty voices responded. Wildly they worked amid a hailstorm of bullets
to free the engine and remove the wreckage, Mr. Churchill, between the
screams of the injured and the rattling of the rifles, rallying the men
and helping them, though every moment volley after volley picked off
some of their numbers and sensibly thinned them. Some of these men were
not only men but marvels; they worked with the zeal of giants and the
pluck of heroes. Vigorously the Dublins and Durhams continued to fire at
the unseen enemy, while the rest of the party by sheer main force got
the engine into working order, smashing everything in its way, and
packing it, as tenderly as possible, with the helpless creatures whose
groans and cries were in themselves enough to make the blood of the
stoutest hearts run cold. Every man seemed bent on eclipsing the courage
of his comrade and following the example set by the gallant war
correspondent. Sergeant Bassett of the Dublins roared his orders with
firm and steady voice, giving his men the range with an air of cool
unconcern that was truly reassuring, while Wright of the Durham Light
Infantry was also conspicuous. During the turmoil he fired from the knee
in the regular position, and was as calm and collected as if he had been
at a rifle-range. With each shot he cracked a joke and kept his comrades
from getting excited. All this time the poor fellow was wounded, half
his right ear having been shot away. Private Kavanagh, the wag of the
Dublins, chaffed his comrades, telling them the Boer shells were
harmless, they could hit nothing "at all, at all!" and Corporal Dickie,
though wounded and lying on his back, continued to bellow to his mates,
"Give 'em beans, boys! give 'em beans!" And meanwhile Mr. Churchill,
though rained on with lead and almost stunned by the noise, was coolly
giving directions for the lifting of the wounded and for the moving of
the engine. Finally, he had the satisfaction of getting the engine and
tender safely charged with their mutilated human freight and started on
the melancholy return journey. Swiftly the train steamed off, protected
by the fire of Dublins and Durhams, and as it did so, Mr. Churchill, who
went with it a little way, but who had stoutly refused all requests to
continue farther, returned to the help of such of the wounded as had
been left behind. His noble self-sacrifice, however, was of no avail.
Directly afterwards he was set on by the enemy and made a prisoner, in
company with two brave officers, Captain Haldane and Lieutenant
Frankland, and fifty-eight of the wounded. The unfortunate party was
then marched in the pouring rain to Colenso. On the following morning
they were taken to the Boer camp before Ladysmith, and thence _via_
Modder Spruit to Pretoria. In the course of the journey a great
concourse of persons crowded to see the captured, and in justice to the
Boers it must be said that there was only one exception to prove the
rule that courtesy on all sides was observed.

An officer writing of the armoured train affair at Chieveley so well
described the glorious deeds that were performed that his version was
quoted even by war correspondents. It is therefore reproduced here.

"The train," he writes, "had gone on past Frere towards Chieveley, when
a party of about 200 Boers were seen evidently watering their horses.
After watching them for some time the train reversed, and went back at a
fair speed. On rounding a curve, a truck containing men of the Durham
Light Infantry toppled over, almost burying the inmates. Fortunately the
men had room to scramble out, although three or four had almost to be
dug out before they got free. In the meantime the Boers were pouring a
rifle-fire into the train, and were working their big guns and Maxim as
fast as it was possible for them to load and fire. The Dubs (Dublin
Fusiliers) in the truck in what was now the rear of the train were
firing as hard as they could, and the Naval men on an open waggon at the
rear opened fire with their 7-pounder, but after about three shots it
was put out of action. Gradually all the men got out of the overturned
truck, and, seeking cover behind waggons, returned the Boer fire, but
the enemy was so well protected that hardly a man could be seen. It soon
became apparent that the foe being in overwhelming force and provided
with heavy artillery, the best thing was to endeavour to get the road
clear.

"Twenty volunteers were called for, and it was at this point that
Lieutenant Winston Churchill so distinguished himself. With the greatest
coolness he superintended the operation of getting the trucks free of
the line. He encouraged the men at work by walking about in the open
with bullets flying round him, and telling the working party not to mind
the Boer fire, as the aim was bad.

"The engine was backed and then pushed against the trucks on the line,
and it was when this operation was going on that another truck, behind
which the men were firing to cover the working party, fell over and
injured one or two D.L.I. seriously. They had been ordered to stand back
while the engine butted against the derailed trucks, but they evidently
did not hear the order.

"After nearly an hour's hard work and harder fighting, the line was
clear enough for the engine to go forward, but the waggons behind had to
be uncoupled and left. The Dubs who were in them and the Naval men,
however, had got out, and had gone away in extended order, and the
engine had moved on just when the line was clear.

"Captain Wyllie was shot in the thigh and dropped. Sergeant Tod, who had
also been injured in the hand, went to the Captain's assistance and
built up a cover of stones as a protection against rifle-fire. Just as
he was lying down a shell burst right in front, scattering the stones in
all directions, and some of the pieces struck Tod in the hip, inflicting
an ugly but not a serious wound.

"The engine in the meantime had gone forward, and was brought by
Lieutenant Churchill to pick up as many wounded as could be found.
Captain Wyllie and Tod were taken up on the tender, and the engine went
on some distance farther, when Captain Haldane of the Gordons and
Lieutenant Churchill jumped off and joined the men fighting their way
back; but the Boers were now closing all round, and the engine barely
got through."

The _Echo_, in a leading article, spoke warmly of Mr. Churchill's
exploit. It said: "In this affair Mr. Churchill, though a non-combatant,
displayed the courage of his stock, and cheered the men in the work of
rescuing the wounded and the bodies of the dead, crying, 'Come on, men!'
with all the courage that his father showed in political warfare or his
great ancestor on the fields of Blenheim or Malplaquet. When the engine
steamed off, Mr. Churchill remained behind to help. Every one will hope
that he is not killed."

It is somewhat interesting here to note Mr. Churchill's soliloquy on his
journey in an armoured train, published in the _Morning Post_ at the
very time the noble fellow was suffering for his bravery on an identical
trip. "This armoured train," he said, "is a very puny specimen, having
neither gun nor Maxims, with no roof to its trucks and no shutters to
its loopholes, and being in every way inferior to the powerful machines
I saw working along the southern frontier. Nevertheless it is a useful
means of reconnaissance, nor is a journey in it devoid of interest. An
armoured train! The very name sounds strange; a locomotive disguised as
a knight-errant--the agent of civilisation in the habiliments of
chivalry. Mr. Morley attired as Sir Lancelot would seem scarcely more
incongruous. The possibilities of attack added to the keenness of the
experience. We started at one o'clock. A company of the Dublin Fusiliers
formed the garrison. Half were in the car in front of the engine, half
in that behind. Three empty trucks, with a plate-laying gang and spare
rails to mend the line, followed. The country between Estcourt and
Colenso is open, undulating, and grassy. The stations, which occur every
four or five miles, are hamlets consisting of half-a-dozen corrugated
iron houses, and perhaps a score of blue gum trees. These little specks
of habitation are almost the only marked feature of the landscape, which
on all sides spreads in pleasant but monotonous slopes of green. The
train maintained a good speed; and, though it stopped repeatedly to
question Kaffirs or country folk, and to communicate with the cyclists
and other patrols who were scouring the country on the flanks, reached
Chieveley, five miles from Colenso, by about three o'clock; and from
here the Ladysmith balloon, a brown speck floating above and beyond the
distant hills, was plainly visible.

"Beyond Chieveley it was necessary to observe more caution. The speed
was reduced--the engine walked warily. The railway officials scanned the
track, and often before a culvert or bridge was traversed we disembarked
and examined it from the ground. At other times long halts were made
while the officers swept the horizon and the distant hills with
field-glasses and telescopes. But the country was clear and the line
undamaged, and we continued our slow advance."

Little did he know when these thoughts passed though his busy brain that
in a few days he would find himself in the State School of Pretoria, a
prisoner, far from kith and kin, and uncertain whether or not he, like
others, might be tried by Judge Gregorowski, who would take a grim
pleasure, as he did in the case of the Uitlanders, in sentencing him to
death. On this score great anxiety was felt, and it is no exaggeration
to say that his countrymen, whether friends or strangers, were all
equally regretful at his loss, and deeply anxious as to the fate that
might befall so gallant a descendant of a great line.


                                ESTCOURT

Things were now going from bad to worse. The Ermelo commando, some 2000
strong, with six 7-pounders and two French guns, took up a threatening
position near Ennersdale, with a view to attacking Estcourt at an early
date, and there was every chance that the place would be surrounded.

Meanwhile the inhabitants of Ladysmith reported themselves in good
health, some of them having taken refuge during the daytime in the
caves by the river-bank, returning to their homes only to sleep. The
war-balloon continued to attract a great deal of the enemy's attention,
and they expended a vast quantity of ammunition in taking pot-shots at
its tranquil form as it floated on the skyline of the hill behind the
hollow from which it was sent up. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry Rawlinson, of
the headquarters staff, while aloft making a reconnaissance had a narrow
escape. A shrapnel shell pierced the balloon, came out on the other
side, and burst some distance beyond. Had it exploded while traversing
the gas-bag, the balloon and its occupant would have been done for; as
it was, the balloon made a gentle and dignified descent, and the sole
casualty reported was "one balloon wounded."

[Illustration: TYPES OF ARMS--THE 5-INCH HOWITZER OR SIEGE GUN. PHOTO BY
CRIBB, SOUTHSEA]

Various commandoes were now seen advancing towards the railway bridge,
which is half a mile north-west of Estcourt, and also from a northerly
direction. Upon this General Hildyard's force stood to arms. The outpost
fired on the enemy, and one shell at 8000 yards' range was launched from
the Naval guns. The effect was good, for the enemy with all celerity
retired. At the same time around Ladysmith the Boers were continuing
their bombardment from four strong positions: the first at Wonona, the
second on Intintanyone Hill, the third on Umbulwana Hill, and the fourth
at Grobler's Kloof. Sorties from time to time took place, thus
frustrating the intention of the enemy to make the investment closer.
Sir George White's lyddite shells were discovered to be more effective
than those of the Boers, many of which were charged with sand, and
jocosely said to be "made in Germany." As a matter of fact, the shells
were charged with cordite which had probably grown stale and ineffective
from over-keeping. It may be remembered that they were stored for use
against the British after the Jameson Raid.

On the 19th November General Hildyard found that it was necessary either
to reinforce the mounted troops that were posted at Willow Grange, thus
dividing the forces at his disposal, or to evacuate the place. He
decided on the latter alternative, and thereupon the Boers, with
delighted expedition, commenced to make preparation for a triumphant
progress to Maritzburg.

The weather now grew intensely hot, and at night the fall in the
thermometer became almost dangerously pronounced. In fact, the troops
had all the discomforts of India without the conveniences commonly at
hand in that country for the amelioration of its conditions. The railway
between Maritzburg and Estcourt was cut, and further aggressive action
seemed to be brewing. All news from Ladysmith came out either by
pigeon-post or by Kaffir runners, who, in a manner peculiar to
themselves, managed to get through the enemy's lines. Food in the
beleaguered town was still moderate in price, meat being tenpence a
pound and bread threepence. A good deal of concern prevailed because the
country between Ladysmith and the south was fast being taken possession
of by the enemy, and the peaceful farmers and loyalists in the vicinity
were shaking in their shoes, spending days and nights in an agony of
suspense as to their future and the safety of their belongings.

[Illustration: SIGHTING A NAVAL FIELD GUN.

Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

The people in the neighbourhood of Willow Grange at this time had some
exciting and alarming experiences. The Boers bound for Maritzburg, of
course, made their way into such farms as suited them. They had encamped
themselves on the surrounding kopjes, and these soon became living
hives, moving hills, of horses, cattle, and human beings, dotted with
some fourteen or fifteen ambulances carrying red-cross flags. They
endeavoured to make themselves agreeable to such of the inhabitants as
remained, assuring them that they did not intend to hurt those who sat
quietly on their farms, though they meant to loot and raid everything
from deserted homesteads. Here is a description given at the time by an
owner of a farm who entertained Field-Cornet Joubert to breakfast--a
plucky lady who determined to show that the Boers had no terrors for
her.

"We hurried breakfast, and had hardly finished when the yard was full of
men, galloping all through the trees. I went out, and was fiercely
greeted with, 'Where are the other two men? We have taken three
prisoners (Thorneycroft's scouts) out of five, and two are here.'

"They rode into the stable, looked through my outside bedroom door,
dairy, and every conceivable place. Luckily, the men got clear.

"Shortly afterwards the Boers began to pass, cutting fences and riding
in all directions, anywhere through the homestead; no discipline
whatever, just like a pack of hounds when the fox is lost. They lined
our kopjes overlooking Willow Grange, Weston, and Estcourt. They could
hear the cannon at Ladysmith, and were not more than a mile from the
house. But as scouts our boys are not in it. No stranger would have
believed that stony hills were full of men and horses. I don't think
that there were more than 400 or 500, evidently the advance-guard. We
were kept lively the whole time, as almost every man and horse came into
the yard for water, which is in a spring fifty yards from the front
door, and had to be got out in buckets. They asked for anything and
everything except meat. We gave as long as we could, thinking discretion
the better part of valour. They invariably offered to pay, but our
answer was, 'We are under martial law.'

"On Monday three men came to commandeer our carriage horses, one
riding-horse, and my youngest boy's pony. We argued; but no! They must
take them, as they were big and fat. My husband had almost given it up,
being tired out. When they entered the stable, I stood by my favourite
and slated them. The men were not Boers, but some of the scum who have
joined.

"One, as ugly as sin, replied, 'Well, we will allow the lady to keep her
trap-horses, but we will take the two riding-horses. We want this
flat-backed, nice-looking pony for a stout man.'

"Then followed a scene. My son, aged eleven, rushed and threw his arms
round his pony's neck, sobbing, and shouting out, 'I'll shoot the first
Dutchman that touches him' (the boy is a cadet).

"'What a ---- of a row, mates; let's clear.'

"It was too much even for that scoundrel.

"Within an hour they brought down the troop branded N.G., put them in
the kraal, caught unbroken mares with foals--anything the wretches could
lay hands on.

"I stood by, and said, 'Are you Boers (farmers) like ourselves or
vagabonds? I'll put a fire in the grass for you.'

"A genuine Boer remonstrated with them, but it was of no use; so, for a
loaf of bread, he agreed to take a note to Commandant-General David
Joubert.

"I wrote explaining matters, and received a courteous reply, saying they
had no authority from him. He called later on, and told us to resist
them; that if he required anything he would write, and send one of his
own officers; and Mr. Kirby must go into the camp and pick out all the
horses--an honour he declined, saying we were under martial law, and he
wished to have nothing to do with them.

"On my going out to meet General Joubert, he sat on his horse, pipe in
mouth, slouch hat well pulled over his ears.

"His aide-de-camp said, 'Our Commandant-General.'

"I shook hands, and said, 'Commandant who?'

"He replied, 'David Joubert;' he's only a second-cousin of the other.

"Later on we had a visit from Commandant Trichardt. He also expressed
regret, saying he had men of all nations, and could not keep order.

"But it's funny to watch them. They never salute an officer or stand at
attention; they talk and crack jokes round them, and when ready, say,
'Let's be going.' This, mind, to men in command.

"They shot our sheep.

"I sent my youngest son into camp. The Boers asked after several people,
whom the child did not know. They crowded round him a dozen deep. The
young native with him began to cry, but the boy enjoyed it. He picked
out a number of horses, which they eventually caught again and cleared
with. He spotted the ugly fellow who wanted to steal his pony, and
called out, 'You wanted to take my horse, and to-day you've got Scrick,
the fright.'

"The others laughed and jeered the fellow.

"They told us some funny tales. One was that the balloons are the
English people's gods, but Slim Piet sent £5 worth of shot at one and
brought it down, as he wanted to see it.

"Another was, 'We don't mind Rhodes, but show us old Franchise; that's
the man we want.'

"Some say they are tired of this life, as they have it 'bitter sware,'
but will fight for their country for five years, as they believe this is
the war the Bible speaks of. After this we shall have a thousand years'
peace.

"On Sunday a skirmish took place. David Joubert's son was wounded. They
fired on to the Hoek farmhouse.

"On Wednesday heavy firing was heard in the direction of Willow Grange,
and on Friday every man was on the alert. We, knowing nothing of the
outside world, expected a night attack, and put food and wraps ready for
the night, as we were afraid of the British shells coming on to the
house.

"They advised us to hoist the white flag, but we steadily refused, nor
will we carry a flag of truce, as they advised, if we left the house for
a hundred yards....

"One man came for dry firewood, and tried to be agreeable; gave a very
vivid description of our balloons, and finished off by saying, 'You
would have laughed last night (Friday night). The Dutch and Fusiliers
got mixed up. When they found it out, one ran one way and one the other.
The Fusiliers shot one of our scouts only; but they are good fellows,
these Fusiliers; they are nearly as tough as we are.'

"One had a big lump out of his leg, his hand blown off, and a hole in
his cheek. He stood up and said, 'Well, I've had enough.' He further
said, 'The Fusiliers can fight; we fought them seven and a half hours
before we took 1200 prisoners. They fought hard, and would not give in.'
He evidently admired them.

"The Dutch troopers carry all they have with them on horseback (no
transport); they have one blanket, one mackintosh, and live principally
on meat (grilled); each cooks for himself. They sleep out in the open
veldt--no tents, except for their heads; and one Boer said he had never
had his clothes off for a month. They water their horses, and then swill
their faces in the dregs.

"Our neighbour had deserted his home. They turned his house into a
hospital, hoisted the red-cross flag on his chimney, and have broken and
destroyed everything about his place, killed off his sheep, &c., eaten
bottles of fruit, and broken the bottles.

"The description they themselves gave of wrecked homes was
heart-rending. Some of them sported all sorts of loot, and were dressed
in clothes that were never bought by them.

"I offered (through a trooper) to exchange Field-Cornet Joubert hats. I
would give him a new grey felt helmet for the one he wore--a battered,
brown, hard felt hat, bound with Transvaal colours, two bullet-holes
right through the crown, just above the band. No doubt he had placed it
on a stone as a target. I was told he had been in hospital with a wound
in his leg, got at the same time his hat was hit, but he was so strong
and tough he soon came out again. I don't know if he would have
exchanged, as I only made the offer the morning they retreated. I
thought of sending it to our museum."

On the 20th of November some 700 Boers from Weenen took up a strong
position at Highlands, which is situated some thirteen miles from
Estcourt. They occupied two farms north-east of the Mooi River. On the
following day communication with Estcourt was interrupted and the
telegraph wires south of the place were cut, and later on the lines were
torn up. That done, the Boers began to shell the Mooi River village.
They were posted in two strong positions, but their fire, though
accurate, did little damage. Cattle-looting was briskly continued, the
enemy varying the monotony by firing at intervals. In this district
alone the direct loss to the loyal colonists amounted to over £25,000.
From the north a hot artillery fire was poured into the Mooi River camp,
while from the west further Free State commandoes were marching in.
Great caution was observed in the camp, as it was known that the enemy
had entirely captured the railway line, and there was no knowing what
their next tactics, or rather dodges, might chance to be.


                       THE FIGHT ON BEACON HILL

Some definite action was now bound to be attempted, for after the
evacuation of Willow Grange the investment of Estcourt was practically
complete. The enemy, some 7000, with eight big guns and led by the
Commandant-General, had taken up a strong position about six miles south
of Willow Grange. There was nothing now between him and Maritzburg but
the force at Mooi River, and, in fact, there was no knowing how soon he
might overrun the whole colony of Natal.

The curious entanglement of military operations at this time formed a
puzzle that, had the British not been too gravely interested, would have
afforded them entertainment. The rules of no known military war game
could be applied to the situation, and its uniqueness was a matter as
incomprehensible to the tactician as to the ignoramus. For instance,
from Maritzburg to Ladysmith one side alternated with the other at
intervals along the line. There were British troops at Maritzburg, Boers
at Balgowan; British at Mooi River, Boers at Willow Grange; British at
Estcourt, Boers at Ennersdale; British within Ladysmith, and Boers
without. To the Commander this complicated sandwich of friend and foe
must have been most confounding, and the upshot of the war, even by
experts, could no longer be hopefully foretold.

Sir George White was surrounded at Ladysmith, General Hildyard at
Estcourt, and General Barton at Mooi River, and the Boers seemed able,
after detaching troops sufficient to form three forces, consisting in
all of about 17,000 men, still to be going onward with 7000 odd towards
the sea.

During the afternoon of the 22nd of November a column moved out of camp
in the direction of Beacon Hill to check the Boer advance. No sooner had
they started than a tremendous downpour of rain accompanied by heavy
thunder began to transform the whole earth into one huge morass.
Naturally the already heavy task of marching was made doubly severe; but
the splendid "Tommies" nevertheless plodded steadily over five miles of
undulating ground, always steep in parts, and now terribly slippery from
slush. Torrents continued to fall, accompanied by large hailstones, but
still the troops moved on, arriving eventually at the foot of Beacon
Hill where the Boer camp was situated, and beginning with steady and
dogged steps to climb. Rivulets swollen by rain were successfully
crossed, swamps negotiated, and massive boulders stumbled over. The
force, which consisted of the 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment,
half 2nd Battalion of Queen's, seven companies 2nd Battalion East Surrey
Regiment, and the Durham Light Infantry, on reaching its destination,
bivouacked for the night. A Naval 12-pounder gun was placed on the
summit of the hill, and the 7th Battery Royal Field Artillery was also
in position. These forces were under the command of Colonel Kitchener,
who was directed to make a midnight attack and seize the enemy's guns
and laager. The Border Regiment from Estcourt was to arrive in the
morning and assist in the operations.

Unfortunately the troops, while taking up their position at the base of
Beacon Hill, were discovered by the enemy, who at once blazed out with
their artillery. Thereupon the Naval gun from its post on the hill
snorted defiance, and from this time the Boers remained on the alert.
Nevertheless in the grey gloom of the early dawn the ascent was begun,
the West Yorks, supported by the Queens and East Surreys, struggling to
the summit over steep and rocky ground. From the base of the hill on the
left flank of the enemy's position a wall led straight to the crown, and
this wall and the absence of beaten tracks helped to make the already
hard task additionally arduous. However, by patience and perseverance
the crest of the hill was at last gained, and the troops, with a lusty
cheer, cleared out some 150 Boers at the point of the bayonet. These
with remarkable agility fled to a second position, on which the bulk of
their force was situated. So precipitate was the flight that thirty
horses were left behind and captured, together with saddlery and camp
equipment. The West Yorks then took up a position on the hill behind a
barricade of stones.

Meanwhile hard work during the afternoon and night of the 22nd and 23rd
had been taking place in other directions. The Naval gun, supported by
the Durham Light Infantry, with the greatest difficulty had been
transported over the veldt, and lugged by sheer force of muscle up the
almost inaccessible mountain. The route of the strugglers lay either
across sponge or rock, and the choice was not exhilarating. The 7th
Battery of Field Artillery also toiled manfully in bringing guns up the
steep incline.

When the day broke, the enemy opened fire from the surrounding kopjes,
and the Yorks finding the Boers had to an inch the range of their
position, were then forced to retire. A heavy Boer gun had been posted
on a hill to west of Willow Grange Station, and this murderous weapon
blazed away at the infantry with unabated zeal, though our guns warmly
returned the fire. The Boer shells did practically no damage, while our
shots from the Naval gun failed to reach the hostile quarters, its range
being shorter than that of the Boer weapons. However, the object of the
reconnaissance was attained, namely, to prevent the enemy from taking up
certain positions overlooking Estcourt and from spreading farther to the
south. The mounted troops, under Lieut.-Colonel Martyr, were directed to
co-operate at daylight by a movement towards Willow Grange Station, and
subsequently to patrol towards Highlands. Bethune's Mounted Infantry
Regiment was directed to operate on Colonel Kitchener's right flank. The
troops under Lieut.-Colonel Martyr, after holding a party of some 300
Boers south of Willow Grange, moved to the support of Colonel
Kitchener's left flank, where they did valuable service in helping him
back and assisting to get the wounded of the 2nd Battalion West
Yorkshire Regiment down the hill. The troops, after being under arms
from 2 P.M. on Wednesday 22nd to 5.30 P.M. of Thursday 23rd of November,
gradually returned into camp. The 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment
was the last to retire. During the movement the Border Regiment, Durham
Light Infantry, and Natal Royal Rifles held Beacon Hill, supported by
the 7th Battery of Artillery. The Imperial Light Horse, Carabineers,
Natal Police, and King's Mounted Infantry took conspicuous parts in the
engagement. The Volunteers, by their well-directed volleys, compelled
the enemy to remain at a respectful distance. General Hildyard
commanded, and Colonel Kitchener, Lieut.-Colonel Martyr, and Major
Mackenzie of the Carabineers did yeoman service. A curious feature of
the fight was the fact that Boer women must have been engaged on the
hill, as some of their side-saddles were captured among the guns,
ammunition, blankets, &c., seized by the West Yorks when the Boers were
routed from the hill-top.

Many acts of gallantry and devotion were performed, especially by
Lieutenant Nicholson, Corporal Wylde, and Private Montgomery. Private
Montgomery, though shot through the thigh, went on firing, and when shot
through the other thigh, refused to be taken to the rear for fear of
exposing the stretcher-bearers. Major Hobbs was made prisoner while
attending to a wounded man. General Hildyard especially commented on the
valorous behaviour of Lieutenant Davies, Mounted Infantry Company,
King's Royal Rifles. This young officer, under a heavy fire, dismounted,
disentangled the reins of a horse he was driving in front of him, and
assisted one of his men, who had lost his horse, to mount and escape.
Lieutenant James, Royal Navy, who commanded the Naval gun, greatly
distinguished himself in his efforts to reach the enemy's position, in
spite of the persistent attentions of a Creusot gun which had the range
of him. Captain Bottomley, Imperial Light Horse, rescued several of the
wounded under a heavy fire, and Lieutenant Palmer, R.A.M.C., while
attending the sufferers, was taken prisoner. He was subsequently
released. An amusing story was told of a trooper who was found to have
shot a very smart Boer, dressed in the regulation coat and polished
leather boots. "He was," explained Tommy, "such a swell of a toff, that
one couldn't help potting him." One of the West Yorks also viewed life
with much pluck and some jocosity. Though hopelessly shot through the
neck, with the bullet emerging in his left eye, he still demanded
tobacco, saying, "Ah wor varry near killed befoor wi' fallin' off a
house, but ah'm noan dead yet, and ah'm noan bown to dee." Let us hope
the plucky fellow lived to give his doctors the lie. The glorious
behaviour of all men of the West Yorks was especially eulogised. They
conducted themselves heroically; and those of the 2nd Battalion East
Surrey behaved with great gallantry under most trying circumstances.

During the fight Lieutenant Bridge, R.A., attached to the Imperial Light
Horse, under a heavy fire of both shot and shell rushed to a wounded man
of the West Yorks, picked him up, slung him over his shoulder, and
brought him to a place of safety. Trooper Fitzpatrick, I.L.H., brother
of the author of "The Transvaal from Within," and a prominent member of
the Reform movement--specially referred to in General Hildyard's
despatch--was killed while gallantly helping to save a wounded man. The
West Yorks' ambulance had just been reached when the poor fellow was
caught by a bullet in the back of the neck. He was buried in the
afternoon with military honours, his body being carried to the grave by
his comrades. Our loss was estimated at eleven killed and sixty wounded.

This highly successful night attack was, strategically speaking, of
prodigious value. The hostile hordes that were advancing to the south
with the intention of overrunning the Colony of Natal were summarily
disposed of, their treatment at the hands of Colonel Kitchener and his
small force being such that they preferred not to try conclusions with
him again for some time to come. They at once took themselves off to
Colenso, and in a very short space of time the telegraph lines and rails
between Weston, Estcourt, and Frere were restored. The arrival of the
first trains in camp was greeted with uproarious cheers.


                               LADYSMITH

The inhabitants of Ladysmith had almost begun to accustom themselves to
the promiscuous arrival of shells at odd hours throughout the day, when
General Joubert hit on the happy idea of varying the monotony of the
daily routine by making the night into a "lurid inferno"--the term is
borrowed from the Boers. Now no sooner were the besieged wrapped in
slumber than boom! bang! a shower of 94-pound shells was launched into
their midst. In an instant all was confusion. Strange forms, some weird,
some grotesque, all terrified, fled from their beds and hung hovering in
gardens and verandahs, uncertain whether to believe their eyes and ears.
The nights were mostly dark, and from the black ridges occupied by the
enemy came with a swish and a roar red tongues of flame and the
spitting, splitting fury of bursting steel, which produced in the mind
of those who had recently been folded in the arms of Morpheus a
sensation as of fevered nightmare or threatened madness. But the sturdy
soon attuned themselves to the terrific reality, though for some days,
while the midnight cannonading continued, many of the more nervous were
well-nigh distraught. The bombardment was accounted for in different
ways. Some said it was to celebrate a victory over the advance-guard of
Hildyard's brigade, others declared that the firing had been attracted
by some companies of the Liverpool Regiment who had gone to cut
firewood, and were visible in the gleams of the moonlight. This midnight
uproar continued for several days with more or less vigour, and then it
languished, possibly from economy, possibly because the Boers themselves
desired to sleep. On the 18th Dr. Stark, a naturalist who had come to
Natal to study birds, was killed as he was standing near the door of the
Royal Hotel, a shell having descended through the roof and come out by
the door.

It grew ever more and more difficult to communicate with the relieving
forces, as the Kaffir runners stood in fear of their lives, many having
been killed during their hazardous journeys. Shells from "Long Tom" and
the new gun on Bulwana continued to cause horror in the daytime and to
pursue uninterruptedly their mission of mutilation. The porch of the
English Church was destroyed, several rooms of houses wrecked, and
splinters and flying fragments of brick and rock kept all who moved
abroad in a state of suspense and mental anxiety. No! not _all_. There
was one imperturbable Scot who occupied a house between the Naval guns
and the Boer position, who watched the havoc played by the shells in his
house or garden, and occasionally applauded with the remark, "Aye, aye!
Lord, man, that wuz a hummin'-bird damned weel hatched!"

[Illustration: FACSIMILE OF PAGE OF NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED IN LADYSMITH
DURING THE SIEGE.]

On the 21st an inhuman action defaced the ordinary programme of warfare.
As before said, the Town Hall had been turned into a hospital for sick,
and this, by reason of its conspicuous clock-tower with the red flag
flying above it, made a convenient mark for the shots of the enemy. In
spite of all remonstrances, the Boer commandant proceeded to batter the
place with shell after shell, with the result that on one occasion the
wing of the hall was destroyed, fortunately without loss of life, and on
another, a shell breaking through the roof, some nine poor patients were
wounded and one killed. The General had chosen this way of expressing
his annoyance that his proposed arrangements were not complied with. He
had insisted that the wounded should be taken to the neutral camp at
Intombi, where they would have been virtually prisoners. This could not
be allowed, and therefore he was evidently determined, out of spite, to
make the life of the unhappy sick in the hospital a long-drawn agony.
They were helpless, stricken in body and nerve, and the perpetual
crashing of bursting steel, the rending of buildings in their vicinity,
was almost worse than the pang of actual death. Still, in spite of
everything, the garrison bore up wonderfully and tried to put a good
face on matters. A message sent out on the 25th of November, even showed
signs of spurious jocosity. The writer said, "Shells and flies very
numerous, but the latter more annoying." There was a pathetic ring in
the little pleasantry. In reality, valiant Ladysmith was beginning to
droop with the suspense of hope deferred that maketh the heart sick. The
heat was getting terrific, and cases of fever were beginning to appear.
The Boer firing was becoming more accurate, and their commandoes seemed
to remain at their full strength, some 10,000. The besieged lost about
seventy head of cattle--a terrible mishap at this crisis--and these
could not, unfortunately, be recovered. A party went in pursuit of the
valuables, but had to return worsted! The total casualties up to this
date were eight killed and twenty-three wounded. Searchlight for
night-signalling began to be in continual use, and Sir George White,
being fully acquainted with the plan of campaign, was preparing himself
to co-operate whenever the great hour and moment should arrive. The
third big cannon, which had been christened "Franchise," now began to
open fire on the tunnels in which the British were said to be concealed,
and assisted actively in the already murderous chorus. On the 29th, much
to the joy of the community, a message from the Prince of Wales was
received, thanking officers and men for the birthday congratulations
they had succeeded in forwarding to him. Hopes of speedy relief revived.
It was known that General Clery had by this time some 23,000 men
(including Natal Volunteers) coming to the rescue, and these, together
with Sir George White's 9500 in Ladysmith, would, when the time for
junction should arrive, make a not insignificant total with which to
meet the Boers. But the troops were beginning to grow somewhat restless
and impatient for the hour when they should be let loose to settle their
little account with those outside. At this juncture Commandant
Schalk-Burger grew "slimmer" than ever. In order still further to
cramp Sir George White, the Dutch general sent to him a crowd of some
400 coolies, on the score that they were British subjects whom he could
not feed. As it was impossible to receive any addition to the numerous
mouths already inside the place, Sir George suggested their being sent
on to Estcourt; so the little ruse was defeated.

[Illustration: FIX BAYONETS! REPELLING AN ATTACK FROM THE TRENCHES
AROUND LADYSMITH.

Drawing by R. Caton Woodville.]


                           ESTCOURT AND FRERE

Tugela Drift was next attacked by the enemy. Some 300 Boers advancing
from Helpmakaar were met by Umvoti Mounted Rifles under Major Leuchars
and some Natal Police under Sub-Inspector Maxwell. Two good hours of
fighting ensued, after which the Boers turned tail and made off. Here we
must note that every one spoke highly of the Natal Mounted Police. The
members of the force, mostly gentlemen, were fine horsemen and crack
shots. Being Colonial bred, they were conversant with every inch of the
country, having done splendid service in Zululand, Pondoland, and the
outlying districts. Their experience was, therefore, invaluable.

At this time two important events took place, the Tugela River rose, and
became impassable save for boats and punts, and the long-looked-for
arrival of Sir Redvers Buller at Maritzburg was the signal for general
rejoicing. He now began the direction of operations.

So many are the minor yet exciting incidents of war, that it is
impossible to recount them; yet in these minor incidents many glorious
lives have been heroically hazarded, and indeed sacrificed, with scarce
any recognition from the country in whose service the daring deeds were
done. Some idea of the adventures of scouting parties may be obtained
from an account given by the correspondent of the _Natal Times_ on the
25th of November.

"A patrol party of sixty members of the Rifle Association went out
to-day under Captains Gough and D. E. Simmons to locate the enemy on the
Berg side of the railway.

"They found the enemy encamped on Simmon's farm, and commissariat
waggons on Blaker's farm, about twenty-two miles from here, and seven
and a half west of Mooi River.

"On reaching the swollen river near Nourse Varty's farm, eight of the
party swam across on horseback to scale the kopje.

"While doing so, the scouts, who had been sent along the river-bank,
gave the alarm, and reported that the Boers were closing round the kopje
to cut them off.

"They at once retreated, and crossed the river, but the horses could not
climb the bank and returned riderless to the other side.

"The riders swam in and brought them back, and succeeded in dragging the
exhausted animals up, when they discovered that they had been the
victims of a false alarm.

"After resting, the party again crossed the river, leaving their clothes
behind.

"Without a vestige of clothing, they proceeded to a height a mile off,
and saw the Boers breaking up camp, and moving towards Ulundi Road.

"The naked party remained watching for an hour and a half, when Simmons
recrossed the river and came back to camp to report the news, leaving
Gough to report the enemy's further movements."

Here it must be mentioned that General Hildyard spoke most highly of the
members of the Rifle Association and of the admirable scouting done by
them. He said also that great credit was due to Captains Symonds and
Ross and their officers for the wonderful efficiency which they had
displayed.

From the accounts received of the battle that took place outside of
Estcourt while that village was shut off, it was believed that Boer
women had come to help their lords to smash the "verdomde rooineks."
Those who are well acquainted with the Boers suggest that their ladies
were brought upon the scene to act in the place of white flags, for
certainly in the storming of Beacon Hill one of our officers ceased to
fire because he was confronted with a woman. Others declared that they
formed a portion of a trek which had come to implore the Boer generals
to cease the war. As we all know, the Boer women in ancient
history--such ancient history as the trekkers have--egged their husbands
and fathers on to warfare, loading their guns for them, and even firing
themselves when needful; therefore the idea of their being desirous of
peace was improbable. It is possible they would scorn to treat the
petticoat in the light of a white flag, and prefer to stand side by side
with their mates in their thinning ranks.

The Boers now entirely vacated their position along the Highland range
of hills, owing, it was believed, to the River Mooi being in flood, and
also in consequence of a smart engagement that had taken place with
General Hildyard's troops. Ladysmith remained calm, and though there was
some cannonading, it evoked no response. The Boers congratulated
themselves that the days of Ladysmith were numbered, that another week
would find them in possession of the place, and, though no great
humourists, they indulged in mild witticisms, christening their big guns
"Suzerainty" and "Franchise." The besieged meanwhile consoled
themselves. Their position was stronger than ever, having been made so
with redoubts and breastworks, and they awaited the coming of Sir
Redvers Buller and his forces with cheerfulness and confidence.

On the 26th of November the British troops began to advance on Colenso,
marching from Estcourt to Frere, where they found that the railway
bridge had been destroyed. The lines, however, were rapidly repaired. By
this time all had learnt to look cautiously out for the derailing of the
trains, and Kaffirs with flags were posted at points in the line to
signal if danger were ahead. Another contingent of the Naval Brigade
from Her Majesty's ship _Terrible_ started from Durban with guns and
special mountings invented by Captain Percy Scott. The officers in
command were Commander Limpus, Lieutenants Richards, Wilde, and England.
Surgeon Lomas accompanied them.

The new gun-carriage designed by Captain Percy Scott at this time came
in for a great share of attention. The feature of the invention is a
spade which holds the gun in position, while the recoil is absorbed by
the compression of oil and springs. Great strain is thus placed on the
spade, and consequently its success depends largely on the character of
the soil and the hold obtained.

On this subject a correspondent writing to the _Times_ from Natal
said:--

"You may be interested to hear a little about the Navy, who have come to
the front as usual and met an emergency. From the first it would seem
that what was wanted were long-range guns which could shell the enemy at
a distance outside the range of their Mauser rifles, and the captain of
the _Terrible_, therefore, proposed a field-mounting for the Naval long
12-pounder of 12 cwt., which has a much longer range than any artillery
gun out here. A pair of waggon wheels were picked up, a balk of timber
used as a trail, and in twenty-four hours a 12-pounder was ready for
land service. Captain Scott then designed a mounting for a 4.7-inch
Naval gun by simply bolting a ship's mounting down on to four pieces of
pile. Experts declared that the 12-pounder would smash up the trail, and
that the 4.7-inch would turn a somersault; the designer insisted,
however, on a trial. When it took place, nothing of the kind happened,
except that at extreme elevation the 12-pounder shell went 9000 yards
and the 4.7-inch (lyddite) projectile 12,000 yards. Captain Scott was,
therefore, encouraged to go ahead, and four 12-pounders were fitted and
sent round to Durban in the _Powerful_, and also two 4.7-inch guns.
People say here that these guns saved the situation at Ladysmith. A
Naval friend writing to me from the camp says: 'The Boers complain that
we are not "playing the game"; they only expected to fight rooineks, not
sailors who use guns that range seven miles, and they want us to go back
to our ships. One of our lyddite shells went over a hill into their
camp, killed fourteen men and wounded thirty. Guns of this description
are not, according to the Boer idea, at all proper, and they do not
like our way of staggering humanity. Had these guns been landed earlier,
how much might have been saved? It is a peculiar sight to see the
4.7-inch fired. Many thought it would turn over, but Captain Percy Scott
appears to have well calculated the stresses; there is with a full
charge of cordite a slight rise of the fore end, which practically
relieves all the fastenings. Hastily put together, and crude as it
looks, it really embraces all the points of a scientific mounting, and
it wants a great expert to pronounce an opinion on it. The gun is
mounted so high that to the uninitiated it looks as if it must turn over
on firing, but it does not, and the higher angle of elevation the less
strain there is on it. The arrival of our guns practically put the Royal
Artillery guns out of use, for they can come into action 2000 yards
behind those supplied to the soldiers and then make better practice.
Their arrival has, every one admits, quite changed the situation.'

"Captain Scott has also rigged up a searchlight on a railway truck with
a flasher attachment, the idea being to use it for communication with
Kimberley and Ladysmith if these places are surrounded. It has been
tested at a distance of forty miles, and proved a great success. I am
told, too, that he is now engaged in designing a travelling carriage for
a 6-inch gun, and has, indeed, converted the _Terrible_ into a factory
for curiosities in gun-mountings.

"Each mounting, by the way, has an inscription upon it, presumably
concocted by the ship's painter. One, a parody upon the Scotch proverb,
runs, 'Those who sup with me will require a devil of a long spoon';
another, 'For what we are going to receive may the Lord make us truly
thankful--Oom Paul'; and a third, 'Lay me true and load me tight, the
Boers will soon be out of sight.' I saw one of these guns fired with an
elevation of 24 degrees and a range of 12,000 yards, and fully expected
to see the whole thing capsize, but it hardly moved. After the firing of
several rounds I carefully examined the mounting, and noticed that,
crude as it might appear, a wonderful amount of practical knowledge was
apparent in its construction; the strain was beautifully distributed,
every bolt and each balk bearing its proportionate share. It is in every
way creditable to the navy that when emergency arises such a thing could
be devised and made by the ship's engineering staff in twenty-four
hours."

While the brigade was pushing on to the front, General Joubert was
falling back, with a view to disputing the passage of the Tugela River.
He was believed to be concentrating three corps--one on Ladysmith, one
on the Tugela, and one to east of Maritzburg.

As the scene of the armoured train disaster was only about two miles
from Frere camp, several of the officers rode out to look at the
wreckage of the machine. The trucks were still lying on the line, a
most lamentable evidence of shock and collapse. One armoured truck was
off the metals, two unarmoured trucks were also overturned, one
containing the platelayers' tools standing on its head, wheels
uppermost, in a state of melancholy abandonment. All the trucks were
mute witnesses to the fierce fire to which the train and men had been
subjected. Shell-holes were here, there, and everywhere, and the iron
was ripped up and rent as though it had been matchwood. The spring of
one of the waggons had been blown into space, and the Naval gun which
was posted on one of the low-sided trucks must have gone with it, for no
trace of its existence remained. The method of derailing the train had
been simple. A railway metal had been arranged across the lines with
stones at the end to weigh it down and keep it from being pushed clear.
Besides this, fish-plates had been loosened, and stones put under the
rails. Round the scene still lay helmets and remnants of clothing, many
of these being blood-stained and ragged.

At Estcourt all was quiet. Farmers were returning to their homes and
provisions streaming in. Much satisfaction was displayed at the arrival
of some 500 cattle and sheep which the Boers had apparently looted and
left behind them.

With Lord Methuen's advance in the west and General Buller's arrival in
the east the campaign may be said to have begun in earnest. The Boer
programme in a fashion seemed to have collapsed; the support of the Cape
Dutch, on which it had relied, was not forthcoming. The idea of the
Republics was to consolidate themselves and capture Natal, while minor
forces were to blockade Mafeking, Vryburg, and Kimberley. This latter
place was to be the rallying-point of the Cape Dutch. But fortunately
the Cape Dutch did not see it. They did not rise to time and cut off all
the railway systems, and Lord Methuen in his part of the world was too
active in bringing up his advance to allow for the development of any
nefarious schemes which might have been on the tapis. In face of this
disappointment and this advance, the Boers had to gather themselves
together. They had no reserves to send down to the assistance of their
forces in the southern borders, and could only assist these by
withdrawing men from commandoes already in the field. As a natural
consequence, therefore, certain commandoes had to be withdrawn from
Mafeking and Kimberley. In Natal all watched the forward march of the
British with eager eyes. The Boers, hampered by a long train of waggons,
captured cattle, and miscellaneous loot, had been headed off at the only
point on the Tugela where a crossing, since the heavy rains, could be
effected. It seemed, therefore, that Fortune had twisted her wheel, and
that before long the prospects of South Africa would be brightened, and
the remembrances of eighteen years would be entirely sponged out.
Rumours were afloat, however, that the Boers were concentrating in their
old positions near Colenso at the back of Grobler's Kloof, and
everything pointed to the fact that a last determined effort would be
made to prevent the British from crossing the Tugela.

[Illustration: TELEGRAPH SECTION OF THE ROYAL ENGINEERS. PHOTO BY
ELLIOTT & FRY]

In spite of the success of our flying column in driving the foe back
across the river, there was cause for regret that the distance was too
great to allow of our bringing up guns and reinforcements in time to
save the bridge from destruction. But the distance from Frere to Colenso
was considerable, and roads were so heavy that the dragging of guns from
one place to the other would have meant a stiff day's work. There was
apparently no option, the Frere bridge being broken, but to let the
enemy destroy the Colenso bridge, invaluable as it was. It became very
evident that the enemy meant to fight tooth and nail, and that the
passage of the Tugela would be disputed inch by inch. However, none was
dismayed: all believed that when the great tug-of-war should come, they
would be equal, and more than equal, to the occasion. Indeed, now that
the forward movement of the troops had commenced, the camp was animated
by a wave of patriotic fervour. The men were literally on fire with
enthusiasm. They longed to press on and come to some distinct
turning-point in the history of the campaign.

A word must here be said of the splendid work done at this time by the
irregular mounted troops, about 700 in number. Their value in all manner
of ways was continually being demonstrated. This force was made up of a
troop of Natal Mounted Police under Captain Fairlie, the Imperial Light
Horse, Bethune's Horse, 60th Rifles Company of Thorneycroft's Mounted
Infantry, Mackenzie's Carabineers, and the 7th Battery of field-guns.

[Illustration: SERGEANTS OF THE ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY WITH A 12-POUNDER.

Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

The Boers were now energetically preparing a warm reception for General
Buller. Small parties were found in the neighbourhood of Chieveley, and
these were endeavouring to post their long-range guns in convenient
positions for the defence of the river. They were not destined to have
things entirely their own way, however, and were promptly engaged by the
Imperial Light Horse and forced to retire. This they did to the tune of
a tremendous explosion, which could be heard for miles off. It was
caused by the blowing up of the Colenso bridge, for the purpose of
impeding our possible advance. The iron bridge over the Tugela River had
previously been rendered a hopeless wreck. The number of Boers round
Colenso at this time was said to be about 15,000, with some 15 guns. At
Frere camp our troops numbered about 3500, and at Estcourt there were
about the same number, but reinforcements were expected.


                         SURPRISES AT LADYSMITH

At Ladysmith, St. Andrew's Day was duly kept by the Gordon Highlanders,
and Scottish compliments, appropriately seasoned with whisky--now
getting tragically scarce--were passed round. Sir George White dined
with the gallant regiment. Now that the town was in heliographic
communication with Sir Redvers Buller, and military intelligence was
received regarding the movements of the relieving force, there was a
general sense of security among those who had been incarcerated so long.
The Ladysmith force under General White's command amounted to a total of
some 12,500 troops, and these, could they once get free and join the
force, numbering about 20,000, at Sir Redvers Buller's disposal, would
have made a sensible difference on the fortunes of Natal. At this time
provisions were fairly moderate in price, meat being one shilling a
pound and bread fourpence a pound, but luxuries, liquors, &c., were
growing scarce. For instance, a tin of milk--the last in
Ladysmith--fetched three shillings, and eggs were purchasable for six
shillings a dozen. The military authorities had commandeered all
eatables, arranging that bread and meat should be sold at prices fixed
for all. The health of the troops was kept up by athletic exercises, and
the officers at times played polo. The bars at the hotels were closed,
but mineral waters were obtainable. Horses began to look lean, though
oats and mealies, bran and hay were forthcoming in sufficient quantity;
but of pasturage there was little. The Boers made great efforts to shoot
the cattle, thinking that though they might not storm the garrison they
might starve it to surrender. Very few newspapers were smuggled into
the town, and these were rapturously seized and devoured. Life was
monotonous and a little sickness began to be apparent, many of the cases
arising from using the muddy water of the river.

It was now discovered that the fashionable entertainment of the Dutch
ladies was to take special weekly trains from Pretoria for the purpose
of joining the Boers on the hills outside Ladysmith and inspecting the
unhappy town. The forces surrounding the place were commanded by
Schalk-Burger and Louis Botha, who doubtless, with Pretorian dames, were
the heroes of the hour.

On Sundays Divine Service took place in the Church of England, the
Congregational minister's house, and in the Convent, all these religious
devotions partaking of a particularly solemn and earnest character.
Every man stood, as it were, with his life in his hands before his God,
and week after week it was impossible to say which of the devout flock
might be missing, and have gone out into the invisible to solve the
_grana peut-être_. There was a pathetic atmosphere surrounding these
religious meetings that none who joined in them will ever forget.

On the 8th of December a very brilliant operation took place at
Lombard's Kop. General Hunter, with a hundred picked men of the Imperial
Light Horse under Colonel Edwards (5th Dragoon Guards), and five hundred
Natal Carabineers under Colonel Royston, started from Ladysmith camp
about nine o'clock on the previous night. Four abreast they marched from
the outpost and faded in the gloom. The march lay across a stony, rugged
plain, through the scrub of mimosa bush and among dongas deep and
shallow. Close on the heels of Major Henderson and several of the Corps
of Guides the troops pressed on. About ten o'clock they reached the base
of the hill under Lombard's Kop, and there took up a position. While
still pitch dark--two o'clock in the morning--they began to advance on
their perilous enterprise, climbing up steep and slippery slopes, and
stumbling over boulders, and tripping on loosened stones. The stars
blinked, the sky seemed slumbering in one vast dream of blue. Stealthily
they moved with the footfalls of tigers stalking their prey. Not a word
was spoken. Scarcely a breath drawn.

Above, on the flat top of the hills, were the objects of British
desire--the Boer guns. A 6-inch Creusot, throwing a 94-lb. shell, and a
4.7-inch howitzer, firing a 40-lb. shot. More anxious than sweetheart
for the sight of his lady-love were these gallant fellows for the touch
of these treasures. Up they went, each outracing the other, straining
every nerve and muscle to gain the summit of the hill, to be first to
handle the prize!

At last, when about half the distance had been cleared, they were
challenged by the picket. "Wie gaat daar?"--"Who goes there?" he sang
out in alarm. It was a thrilling moment. To the challenge there could be
but one reply. That reply they gave. Shots rang out in the darkness.
There was now no more creeping. Tongues of flame darted from every side.
The troops pushed forward in the grey mysterious gloom to the ping of
bullets that whizzed in shoals swiftly past their ears. Major Henderson
dropped. More bullets rained down. A Guide fell wounded by cycle
bearing-balls shot from a rifle--so it was subsequently said. One
gallant fellow after another threw up his arms dying or dead. But still
the troops pressed on, Colonel Edwards in advance shouting them on to
victory. "Fix bayonets," he called with a voice of thunder, knowing
there were but four bayonets among the lot. "Give 'em cold steel,"
shouted some one else with delirious rapture, and the Carabineers and
Light Horse, with scarce a bayonet to their name, cheered and charged!
But the Boers delayed not to find out if there were steel or no steel.
They fled in dismay, leaving behind them their cherished guns. So swift
indeed was their flight, that hats, boots, letters, everything--were
scattered to the winds.

Thereupon Captain Fowke and Lieutenant Turner, R.E., with great skill
destroyed a 6-inch gun and a 4.7-inch howitzer with gun-cotton. They
also captured a Maxim. This magnificent piece of work, counting from the
moment the order to charge was given, was performed in three-quarters of
an hour, with the loss to our troops of only seven men. The conduct of
the Imperial Light Horse was superb, and Major Edwards was the first man
in the embrasure. The following is an account of the destruction of the
guns given by the war correspondent of the _Standard_:--

     "In order to give the rest of the force time to complete its
     work, Major Edwards, who was the first man to set foot on the
     summit, led his men of the Imperial Light Horse to the far side
     of the hill, and poured volleys in the direction of the Boer
     retreat. Some of their vedettes could be seen hovering about,
     but they were evidently too demoralised to approach us closely.

     "Meanwhile, the Volunteers and Sappers were making a hurried
     search for the big guns. For a moment the horrible thought
     seized us that there might be no guns at all--that the enemy,
     as has so often been the case of late, had somehow got wind of
     the projected attack, and had removed the cannon to a safe
     distance. But at last, to the delight of everybody, 'Long Tom'
     itself was discovered, snugly ensconced behind a parapet of
     sand-bags no less than 31 feet thick. A 4.7-inch howitzer was
     found in an emplacement hardly less strong, with a Maxim gun
     between the two--posted there, apparently, for the purpose of
     repelling any such assault as the one we had actually
     delivered.

     "Lieutenant Turner, with a party of two sappers and six
     artillerymen, at once took charge of 'Long Tom,' and, getting
     to work with crowbars and hammers, smashed the breach and
     elevating gear. Two charges of gun-cotton were then placed in
     the breech and muzzle and connected with fuses. While 'Long
     Tom' was thus being provided for, similar attentions were
     bestowed on the howitzer by Captain Fowke and the other sappers
     and gunners.

     "The preparations being complete, General Hunter ordered the
     men to make their way back down the hill, and the fuses were
     set light to with the burning ends of the officers' cigars.
     Everybody fell back, with the exception of Captain Fowke, who
     remained midway between the big guns, and, after a couple of
     minutes' suspense, a loud report showed that our object had
     been accomplished. Captain Fowke hastened to examine the
     _débris_, and found that the 6-inch gun had two gaping holes in
     its muzzle, which was badly bulged, and that the breech and
     rifling had been destroyed beyond all chance of repair. The
     howitzer was in an even worse plight, the explosion having
     wrecked the carriage as well as the gun."

The force under General Hunter was composed of a hundred men selected
from three squadrons of the Imperial Light Horse: Squadron B, Captain
Mullens; Squadron E, Captain Codrington; Squadron F, Captain Fowler;
Commanding Officer, Colonel A. H. M. Edwards, of the 5th Dragoon Guards,
with Major "Karri" Davis, and Captain Fitzgerald, Adjutant of the
Regiment. The second hundred men were chosen from the Natal Volunteers,
and were led by Major Addison. The flanking parties, under Colonel
Royston, were composed of Natal Mounted Rifles, under Major Evans;
Border Mounted Rifles, under Major Rethman; Carabineers, under Colonel
Greene; and Natal Mounted Police, under Inspector Clarke; Colonel
Royston in command. Major Henderson was in charge of the Guides. Our
casualties were nine wounded, one mortally.

A little later in the day a smart skirmish commenced between Colonel
Knox with one squadron of the 19th Hussars and the Boers on Pepworth
Hill. The enemy thinking that all the troops had been engaged, to their
discomfiture, near Lombard's Kop, arranged that they would seize the
opportunity to approach the town. Again they were somewhat surprised to
find Colonel Knox and his party in readiness for them. Some brisk
fighting ensued, but all was over by six o'clock, and the net result of
the morning's work was considered highly satisfactory. The voice of
"Long Tom" was completely silenced, and Ladysmith had got a Maxim to the
good. The Boer telegraph lines were cut and their kraals burnt. On the
whole, the troops were well pleased with themselves, and returned to
receive an enthusiastic reception from those within the town. The only
regret was that Major Henderson, D.A.A.G., 1st Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders, should have been wounded in two places.

Probably this was the first time in the history of British arms that
guns have been stormed by Mounted Infantry, and the complete success of
the movement reflected the utmost credit, not only on the troops
themselves, but on Major-General Hunter, who so magnificently led the
assault. After the men returned to camp, General White had the
Volunteers, Light Horsemen, and other portions of the force paraded, and
addressed them as follows:--

     "Colonel Royston, officers and men of the Natal Mounted
     Volunteers, officers and men of the Imperial Light Horse, and
     officers and men of the Imperial Forces,--I have heard the
     details of last night's work from Major-General Hunter, who so
     ably planned the undertaking and carried it out. He has asked
     me to express to you his appreciation--and deep
     appreciation--of the admirable manner in which you supported
     him in it throughout. It is a great pleasure to me that I am
     here, not only to acknowledge the fine work you did last night
     and your valuable services, but also as I was longing for an
     opportunity of acknowledging the value of your services since
     this campaign commenced. I am glad to think that the very
     important service rendered last night was got through with so
     few casualties. It will be a great pleasure to me to report to
     General Sir Redvers Buller, whom we all hope to see in a few
     days, the good behaviour and great help we have had from the
     Natal Volunteers, who, I may say without any inflated or
     exaggerated language, are a credit, not only to their own
     Colony, but to the Empire. We I daresay, have a lot of severe
     fighting before us, and it is a great gratification to me to
     know I have the help of such men as I see before me. I know you
     had a bad night last night and are needing rest, but I thought
     you would not, perhaps, mind my turning you out to tell you how
     all the officers of this force appreciate your behaviour, and I
     hope you will keep it up to the end. Colonel Royston, I won't
     keep the parade any longer."

Hearty cheers were given for General White, Major-General Hunter, and
the Queen.

General White also addressed the Royal Engineers and Artillery, stating
that all praise was due to the officer in charge for the able manner in
which he had performed his duty, and to the men for the steadiness with
which they had assisted individually.

General White visited the I.L.H. camp, inspecting the corps on parade,
and expressed himself in similar terms to those used to the Volunteers.

Doubtless the success of the last midnight sortie roused a spirit of
emulation in the breast of the gallant besieged, for another daring
manoeuvre was secretly planned. It was decided that an effort should
now be made to destroy an inconveniently active 4.7-inch howitzer which
was posted on a height appropriately termed Surprise Hill. When the
shades of night began to fall, five companies of the Rifle Brigade, with
an Engineer detachment in charge of Lieutenant Digby Jones, R.E.,
started off from King's Post on their dangerous mission. The moon,
however, shone clear and white, throwing undesirable magnesian light
over their progress. It was a night for Hero and Leander, not for deeds
dark and deadly. For this reason they halted at the base of Observation
Hill until such time as it was possible to proceed in safety. Presently
the moon sank behind clouds and they moved on. At half-past one they
crossed the railway lines and commenced, stealthy as cats, to ascend
the hill. One company and a half was left on the right, and one company
and a half on the left flank. A half company was posted in a nullah near
the railway. The remainder of the force, led by Colonel Metcalfe,
deployed into line and ascended with steady, cautious step. The Boer
picket was evidently dozing, as the party was never challenged till the
British had almost reached the top of the hill. Then, with a sudden
surprised "Who goes there?" and a leap to arms, the enemy fired several
shots. Directly afterwards, the order to "Fix bayonets" was given. This
was followed by the click of steel and the rush of our men wildly
cheering--cheering till the midnight echoes rang with weird
reverberations. The crest of the hill was carried! The Boers, after
firing a few shots, had vanished into space.

After some moments of anxious search the gun--the object of the British
operations--was found. It was promptly surrounded, and the breech-block
and muzzle were destroyed with gun-cotton by Lieutenant Digby Jones,
R.E. The fuse unluckily declined at first to ignite, causing the delay
of some twenty minutes, during which interval the Boers, reinforced, had
swept back round the kopje and sandwiched themselves between the
attacking force as they retired down-hill and the reserves. The
confusion that ensued was lamentable, as the fighting line were forced
to cut their way through with the bayonet, but this with extreme
caution, as in the darkness it was difficult to distinguish between
friend and foe. The Boers cunningly enhanced the difficulty of the
position by passing themselves off as British, and repeating our cries
and orders, and calling "Is that the Rifle Brigade?" &c. On receiving an
answer they promptly fired, our reserve being unable to make return
owing to a fear of injuring our own force. The Boers' losses were great.
Our own were: Lieutenant Fergusson, 2nd Rifle Brigade, and ten rank and
file killed; Captain Paley, Second Lieutenant Davenport, Second
Lieutenant Bond, and forty rank and file wounded. Six men of the Rifle
Brigade who remained in charge of the wounded were taken prisoners.

Sir George White now continually used his balloon for purposes of
observation. He was also in communication with Frere Camp, where an
electric searchlight was in operation, and with Umkolanda, near Weenen,
where Captain Cayzer of the Dragoons worked the heliograph.

The garrison still remained cheerful although the Boer bombardment grew
heavier. Threatening sounds of firing in the neighbourhood of Colenso
caused them to sustain hope, though the pinch of siege life, suspense,
sickness, and shell-fire were beginning to be felt. However, owing to
the admirable forethought of Colonel Ward, Army Service Corps, the food
supply was still equal to the drain upon it.


                               FRERE CAMP

General Sir F. C. Clery arrived at Frere on the 2nd of December, and
assumed command of the Second Division. He took up his quarters at the
shattered house of the stationmaster. Preparations were set on foot to
repair Frere bridge, which had been entirely wrecked, and a mounted
force under Lord Dundonald was actively engaged in chasing large parties
of Boers on their return to Colenso. Great interest was caused by the
arrival in camp of another of the inventions of Captain Scott of the
_Terrible_. It consisted of a searchlight apparatus for signalling to
Ladysmith, with engine and dynamo, entirely armoured. Communication with
Ladysmith by heliograph was soon successfully established, much to the
consternation of the Boers at Colenso, who tried their best to interfere
with messages. The camp was daily increasing in size, and
reinforcements, with their baggage, horses, waggons, and guns, began to
pour in from Maritzburg, while the Durban Light Infantry and a battery
of Natal Field Artillery were posted to protect Estcourt, Willow Grange,
and Mooi River from raiders and attacks on lines and telegraph wires.

[Illustration: FROM FRERE TO CHIEVELEY--DIFFICULTIES OF TRANSPORT.

Drawing by R. Caton Woodville.]

The arrival of Generals Buller and Clery and the increasing
concentration of troops now began to presage an important and, it was
hoped, decisive movement. Visual communication was being held nightly
with General White, and a combined action seemed quite possible. It was
recognised, however, that the Boer position at Colenso could not be
taken by direct frontal attack, and that some arrangement to turn the
left of the enemy must simultaneously accompany a demonstration in
front. Mounted troops had now joined the British forces, and there was
every hope that the Dutchmen, once routed, could be pursued and kept on
the run. But so far the Boers were unconcerned; they seemed to be in
fine fettle, and even indulged in humour at the expense of the British
garrison. When the heliographers questioned the enemy, "Are you Boers?"
they replied, "Yes." They were then asked, "Where are you going?" and
bounced back, "To Maritzburg." "God help you," said we. "We think He
will," they devoutly replied. They also indulged in compliments of a
less righteous description, finishing up with the crude and scarcely
eloquent expression, "Go to h--ll." But, as a mild diversion, Boer
humour was accepted, for, in the routine of the soldier's existence, the
smallest mercies in the form of distraction were thankfully received.
Life just then, even for the officers, was not roseate--the messes had a
ubiquitous menu of bully beef and bread, and the mess-tents were made of
the tarpaulins of the big mule-waggons. Repose was a beautiful name. The
torture of sleeping on a valise on the ground for weeks at a stretch
was--so an officer declared--much the same as that produced by some beds
in Irish inns--after lying down for some hours, you have to get up and
take a rest!

Meanwhile, Provost-Marshal Major Chichester, at Frere Camp,
distinguished himself. On the 7th of December he started off with thirty
men of the Natal Carabineers and a few Mounted Police for the purpose of
arresting three colonists suspected of aiding the enemy. They left camp
for the Gourton district at about 5 A.M., and marched through the
country beneath the snow-capped Drakensberg Mountains some fifty miles.
There the landscape is picturesque and beautiful as any in Natal; but
their object was not to admire scenery, but to pursue traitors. At a
small farm they came upon the objects of their search. The miscreants
were promptly seized, together with their loot, some 150 head of cattle.
With these the party started to return, but were fired on by six Boers
from a neighbouring donga or ditch. Major Chichester then ordered
forward part of his troop with the prisoners in charge, while he and the
rest of his men held the enemy at bay. A brisk fusillade ensued, in
which five of the enemy's ponies were killed, and several of the Boers
were shot. The party returned to camp safely, after having accomplished
the object of their expedition in the space of twenty-three hours.

The trestle bridge at Frere was now completed, and trains began to run
over it. Frere Bridge, on the Natal Government Railway, some twenty
miles from Ladysmith, was, it may be remembered, the first to be blown
up by the Boers on their retreat from Estcourt to Colenso.

The following is a rough list of the force, under General Sir Redvers
Buller, Major-General Sir C. F. Clery, Major-General Hildyard, and
Major-General Barton, which was now advancing towards Ladysmith from
Durban by way of Pietermaritzburg, Mooi River, Estcourt, and Colenso:--

     1st Border Regiment, 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 2nd West
     Yorkshire, 2nd East Surrey, 2nd West Surrey, 2nd Devonshire,
     1st Welsh Fusiliers, 2nd Scottish Rifles, 2nd Royal Fusiliers,
     2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers, 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers, 1st Royal
     Dragoons, 1st Durham Light Infantry, 13th Hussars, 1st
     Connaught Rangers, 1st Dublin Fusiliers, 1st Gordon
     Highlanders, 1st Inniskilling Fusiliers, 2nd Somersetshire
     Light Infantry, 3rd King's Royal Rifles, B Squadron 6th Dragoon
     Guards, one Squadron Imperial Light Horse, Durban Light
     Infantry, various Local Rifle Associations, Naval Detachments,
     Volunteer Cavalry and Infantry, Uitlander Corps under Major
     Thorneycroft, 7th, 14th, 64th, 66th, 73rd Field Batteries,
     several Companies Royal Engineers, several Companies R.A.M.C.,
     Field Hospitals.

Besides the arrival of incoming regiments, camp life at Frere was
enlivened by many minor episodes. Provost-Marshal Major Chichester paid
more surprise visits to Dutch farms whose owners were suspected of
aiding the enemy. Though looting was strictly forbidden, some of the
raiding parties returned with interesting souvenirs of their
expeditions--sometimes in the form of corpulent turkey, squeaking
sucking-pig, or other dainty with which to vary the monotony of camp
fare. Good-nature prevailed among the troops, and the health of the men
testified to the excellence of their feeding. Fair beef, occasional
mutton, and beer were available, and with these at hand and the enemy in
front, and shortly to be interviewed by heavy guns plus the bayonet,
"Tommy" was well content. Meanwhile, reinforcements continued to come up
from Maritzburg in all haste. The march from thence to Balgowan made the
first twenty-five miles. On to Nottingham Road made another ten. After a
halt they took another twelve miles stretch to Mooi River. To Estcourt
was twenty-four miles over fresh and verdurous country, and to Frere
Camp was another fifteen. The troops, as a rule, were on the move about
three in the morning, for it was now the Cape summer, and as much toil
as possible was accomplished before the sun was up. Striking tents,
loading waggons, feeding and watering horses, swallowing breakfast, took
place in twilight, and then they proceeded to saddle up and march.
Arrived at their destination, the troops off-saddled, attended to the
horses, pitched tents, and performed other camp duties. Rations
consisted of bread, tea, coffee, sometimes meat and potatoes. Water was
a luxury, and so little was wasted for external application that several
troopers offered to play the part of Othello without any make up. The
war kit of the men was somewhat of the Christmas-tree order. On them
were haversacks containing food, horse-brush, currycomb, and towel,
water-bottle, bandolier with fifty cartridges, waistbelt and gun
weighing ten pounds. Often as not they turned in to rest, if not exactly
thus equipped, at least booted and spurred, ready to be up and doing at
a moment's notice!

On the morning of the 14th of December the troops advanced from Frere to
Chieveley. Reveille was sounded at 3 A.M., and soon the camp was one
buzz of active life. In the warm glow of camp-fires tents were struck,
kits packed, horses fed and watered, and the men breakfasted. Four
regiments of infantry "fell in" and moved out from the camp, followed at
intervals by other arms. The procession measured some eight miles long,
and was composed of variegated objects, such as ambulance waggons
dragged by innumerable oxen, mule and donkey carts, the teams and guns
of six field-batteries, cavalry and infantry, and hale and hearty Jack
Tars, looking very ship-shape, square and determined, and joking as
though they were off to a ball. All were equally jovial, all confident
that the big move was begun, and a big and glorious ending was in
store.

The entire force encamped three miles from the Tuegla River to
north-west of Chieveley Station; the Infantry Brigades being on the
extreme front, while the Cavalry, Mounted Infantry, and Artillery were
nearer to Chieveley. Soon after this the Naval guns set to work to
search the intrenchments and positions of the enemy north of Colenso.
These guns, consisting of two 4.7-inch and four 12-pounders, were posted
some 3000 yards south of the Tugela, about three miles from Colenso
village, and facing what was afterwards discovered to be the Boers'
position. Their bark resounded over the kopjes for miles, throwing up
gigantic volcanic eruptions, which resembled mammoth mushrooms suddenly
springing to life. But beyond filling the hearts of hearers with awe,
they produced no result. The Boers were silent, so silent indeed that
some imagined that they had vacated their positions and that the passage
of the Tugela would after all be quite a frolicsome picnic, with
perchance a few crackers thrown in. All were deceived--even those well
acquainted with Boer tricks and duplicity--and all imagined that the
enemy had fallen back, possibly for the closer protection of Ladysmith.

But before going further, it is necessary to keep in touch with other
brave defenders of the Empire.

[Illustration: TYPES OF ARMS--4.7 NAVAL GUN ON CARRIAGE IMPROVISED BY
CAPT. PERCY SCOTT OF H.M.S. _Terrible_. PHOTO BY E. KENNARD, MARKET
HARBOROUGH]



                               CHAPTER V

                          ACTIVITY AT THE CAPE


Boer annexations continued with insolent persistency, and the High
Commissioner, Sir Alfred Milner, telegraphed thus to Mr. Chamberlain:--

     "_16th November_--Having been informed that Orange Free State
     have issued Proclamations annexing Griqualand West and portions
     of the Aliwal North, Albert, and Colesberg districts, I issued
     counter-Proclamation on 10th November and 15th November of a
     similar kind to that in my telegram of 28th October, and have
     declared latter districts to be under martial law."

[Illustration: SERGEANT-MAJOR OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES LANCERS.

Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

At this time the British reinforcements arriving in Cape Colony were:--

     3rd Battalion Staffordshire, 1st Highland Light Infantry and
     Mounted Infantry, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, 2nd Northampton
     Regiment, 2nd Battalion Royal Highlanders, part of 2nd East
     Surrey, 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards, 2nd Battalion
     Devonshires, 12th Lancers, Engineers, R.A.M.C., Field
     Hospitals, Post-Office Corps, Seamen and Marines, and 2nd Royal
     Irish Rifles--about 10,900.

It must here be noted that among the many prominent persons who had
placed themselves at the disposal of their country and were leaving for
the front were Sir W. MacCormac and Mr. Makins, whose surgical skill was
offered to relieve the suffering. Mr. Treves, the eminent surgeon, had
also volunteered his services. The following regiments arrived at Cape
Town on the 20th of November, and went on to reinforce the advance
columns or to preserve the lines of communication under the command of
Lieut.-General Sir W. E. F. Forestier-Walker:--

     12th Lancers, one squadron 14th Hussars, 2nd Northumberland
     Fusiliers, 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers, four companies 2nd
     Berkshire, 2nd Royal Highlanders, 1st Highland Light Infantry,
     2nd Seaforth Highlanders, 1st Argyll and Sutherland
     Highlanders, 1st Welsh Regiment, several Corps of Engineers,
     including Balloon Sections, Batteries, Field Hospitals, Seamen
     and Marines, Post-Office Corps, Railway Engineers, Corps of
     Light Horse (in course of formation), New Zealand
     contingent:--a total of about 8000 men.

The South African Light Horse, a corps formed of the Uitlanders, was
being rapidly organised, and great enthusiasm prevailed among the
Colonists. All were anxious to be first in the field and to display
their loyalty to the Sovereign. Indeed, there was not a little jealousy
lest other Colonists might debar those at the Cape from proving their
devotion to the full. The new regiment started on the 30th of November
for the north amid enthusiastic cheers.

Quantities of reports having been circulated and a great deal of
misapprehension caused as to the policy and intention of the Government,
Sir Alfred Milner issued a proclamation addressed to the people of Cape
Colony. In it he said:--

     "Misleading manifestoes from beyond the borders represent the
     Imperial Government as desiring to oppress the Dutch, and the
     idea has been spread abroad that the Dutch are to be deprived
     of constitutional rights.

     "There is absolutely no truth in such allegations. The Imperial
     Government desires the greatest freedom of self-government for
     Dutch and British alike, and the extension, not the
     curtailment, of the above. The Constitution can solely be
     endangered by rebellion.

     "The Imperial Government adheres firmly to the principles of
     equal freedom for all loyal Colonists.

     "Her Majesty the Queen during her long reign has given
     innumerable proofs that she does not favour one race at the
     expense of another. All allegations to the contrary are made
     either in ignorance or with the deliberate intention of shaking
     the loyalty of a section of the community, including many
     connected by close ties of kinship with a people with which we
     are now at war.

     "An attempt is being made to inflame their minds, and to
     convert feelings of sympathy with kinsmen into a spirit of
     rebellion, by representing the Imperial Government as hostile
     to the Dutch, and by otherwise distorting its acts and objects.

     "I gladly recognise that the majority, nevertheless, maintain a
     law-abiding attitude, and I am proud of their worthiness of the
     confidence reposed in them. But the statements which continue
     to be spread abroad are producing a deplorable effect in some
     quarters, and I therefore most earnestly warn all against being
     misled into defection from their allegiance, and thereby
     exposing themselves to grave consequences.

     "I call upon all the Queen's subjects, of whatever race, to
     stand together in support of the Crown and its authority."

But, for the treachery of some of Her Majesty's subjects, the devotion
and fealty of others made glorious atonement. There are loyal people in
the Cape, who, if they live to be as old as Methuselah, will never
forget the opening of December. The streets of Cape Town were literally
panting with enthusiasm, every hole and corner being alive with animated
crowds to welcome the New Zealanders, Australians, and Canadians,
gallant fellows, who, from sheer pride in being associated with the
defence of the mother country, came trooping to do battle in her cause.
Each successive arrival of the Colonists was the cue for fresh
demonstrations and for the display of flags and banners bearing mottoes,
"For Queen and Empire," "Welcome, Brother Colonists," and the like; and
by the time the Canadians had landed patriotic feeling had reached its
climax. Then public enthusiasm literally seemed to burst all bounds.
The streets, windows, verandahs, roofs, were packed with an excited,
surging, shouting, cheering throng, and the air was thick with hats, and
flags, and handkerchiefs, waving a hearty welcome to our British
brethren from across the seas. The Canadians, about 1000 strong, were "a
sicht for sair e'en," as the Scots would say, a hale, well-grown,
muscular set of men, who evidently appreciated the magnificent reception
that was accorded them, and who as evidently meant to earn laurels in
the service of the great Queen Mother. Indeed, all the Colonial troops
were remarkable for their excellent appearance, and the sight of them
arriving from every corner of the earth to support the honour and
prestige of the Empire was vastly inspiriting. One may safely assert
that such an exhibition of patriotic solidarity and power was without
precedent in the world's history.

There never was such a show of fine men, said all who saw them; but--.
There was a great But. We were deficient still in other ways. We had the
men, but in the matter of guns we were still lamentably weak; we could
not compete with our enemies. Those in power seemed to have been
ignorant of, or apathetic to, the fact that the expenditure of the
Transvaal Government for artillery during the previous four years had
been enormous. The marvel was that our Intelligence Department should
have taken no cognisance of these gigantic preparations, or that if it
had, the Cabinet had not acted on its information. In 1894 £100,000 was
handed over to Krupp of Germany, and the same amount to an Austrian
firm. Two of the finest guns in the world were imported in 1895. These
were 48 feet long, 120 tons in weight, throwing a shell weighing 2300
lbs., and requiring 904 lbs. of powder for each discharge. Both were
amply provided with ammunition, which, in addition to the great steel
and iron shells, consisted of shrapnel holding 3000 balls, weighing 3½
ounces each. One of these treasures was pointed at Ladysmith, and the
other was used to defend the fortifications of Pretoria.

This was not all. In 1895 Krupp received another £100,000, and
field-guns of long range, which we now know too well, were forwarded,
and also certain mountain and bush guns suited to high ground and hot
climate. In 1896 further developments took place. Six Creusot guns were
introduced, to be followed later on by eighteen more. In 1897, '98, and
'99 further additions to the Boer artillery were made, and the frontier
kopjes fortified, and distances marked and measured. Then were bought
forty-eight rapid-fire Schneider-Canet 14½ pounders, that throw a
shrapnel containing 234 bullets, to be fired 200 times per minute, with
a range of 3½ miles. Maxims in plenty were invested in, as those in
Mafeking and Ladysmith knew to their cost, and the Boers also secured
four batteries of 12-lb. quick-firing Vickers Maxim guns, with a range
extending up to 5000 yards. Four guns with a range of 1200 yards were
distributed between hills guarding the Drakensberg passes, Ladysmith,
and Pretoria.

With this array of guns only our Naval guns could compete. As regards
horses, we were also deficient. The sea-voyage played terrible havoc
with the poor beasts. Ill-luck seemed to pursue us, for on the 4th of
December grievous news arrived that the _Esmore_ with the 10th Hussars
and a battalion of infantry on board had gone ashore at St. Helena, some
180 miles from Cape Town. Fortunately the men were rescued from the
transport, but their chargers were all lost. This was a terrible blow,
for at the time cavalry was almost a nullity, and operations were
somewhat suspended, if not entirely crippled, owing to the lack of that
arm. Indeed, Lord Methuen's brilliant operations on the Orange River had
all been heavily handicapped owing to the impossibility of pushing his
victories home, and at this time the one cry of the commandants in
chorus was, "Oh for a Cavalry Brigade!" There was General French, a born
cavalry commander, minus mounted troops; General Gatacre with his
division distributed in fragments everywhere; Lord Methuen hampered as
before described, all because the nation had allowed itself to slumber
and drift, and put its hand to the helm too late!

As there were continual changes in the military situation, it may be as
well to make a rough computation of the troops engaged in the various
campaigns. In Ladysmith, Sir George White had some 9500 men, while at
Colenso, Weenen, and Natal, Generals Buller and Clery had between them
some 23,000. Advancing from Queenstown to attack Stormberg was General
Gatacre with 6000 men, while a probable 3000--cavalry and infantry--were
with General French at Naaupoort. In the west, advancing from the Modder
River to the relief of Kimberley, Lord Methuen had less than 8000 men,
and on the line of communications at Graspan, Orange River, and De Aar
were some 8000 more. At Kimberley there were about 2000 troops, while
with Colonel Baden-Powell at Mafeking and Colonel Plumer in Rhodesia
were about 1000 men respectively. The newly-arrived Canadian contingent,
numbering some 1000 men, were sent to the front to act in concert with
the Black Watch and Seaforth Highlanders. Quantities of soldiers and
volunteers were daily arriving, all of them in high spirits at a chance
of seeing service. Among the many passengers who landed on the 11th of
December was one whose zealous determination to serve his country caused
not a little emotion in those who heard his story. He was a reservist
belonging to the Seaforth Highlanders, who was absent when called up. He
had been in France, and only arrived in England twenty-four hours after
the troopship which brought out his regiment started. He therefore
proceeded to Southampton, paid his passage to Cape Town, and went on to
the front at his own expense.

Of course, this is a solitary example of devotion to duty, but there are
thousands which might be recorded. Millionaires rushed from their
palaces, from the lap of nineteenth-century luxury into sober kharki,
with all its accompaniment of bully beef and muddy water; bridegrooms
tore themselves from winning brides, and scurried from the altar-rails
to sacrifice their lives--at that moment more precious than at any other
time--for the honour of the Empire. Not only "Dukes' sons," but a Duke
indeed joined in the magnificent mob who clamoured to fight for the
great cause. This impetuosity of gallantry had even its comic side, for
deserters came from hiding ready to face shot and shell rather than be
out of it; small boys tried spurious dodges to bring themselves to
"regulation" height; and many fibbed right royally as to their ages!
Some even, when rejected, were found stowed away after the transports
had put to sea! "Trifles these," some prosaic readers will remark.
Possibly, but to others such trifles made confirmation "strong as holy
writ" that the martial majesty of our mighty nation was never more
grandly evident than in the declining years of Victoria's reign!

The glorious work done by Cape Colony in aid of the Empire may be
appreciated in viewing the following figures, which show that nearly
6000 South African volunteers were called out for service during the
month of December:--

     Prince Alfred's Own Artillery, Cape Town, 120; Cape Garrison
     Artillery, Cape Town, 450; Duke of Edinburgh's Own Rifles, Cape
     Town, 1000; Cape Town Highlanders, Cape Town, 500; Prince
     Alfred's Guard, Port Elizabeth, 600; Uitenhage Rifles,
     Uitenhage, 200; Kaffrarian Rifles, East London, 400; 1st City
     Volunteers, Grahamstown, 500; Queenstown Rifle Volunteers,
     Queenstown, 300; Kimberley Regiment, Kimberley, 650; Diamond
     Fields Artillery, Kimberley, 120; Frontier Mounted Rifles,
     Cathcart, 200; Komgha Mounted Rifles, Komgha, 100; Transkei
     Mounted Rifles, Butterworth, 125; Xalanga Border Mounted Rifle
     Club, 72; Tembuland Mounted Rifle Club, 52; Engcobo Mounted
     Rifle Club, 47; Cape Medical Staff Corps, 200:--total, 5636.

This number only included volunteers, and did not take in the paid
irregular regiments, Mounted Police, and other bodies, of which there
were several thousand more. In fact, it was estimated that the Colonial
levies in Cape Colony alone numbered, at the end of 1899, about 12,000
men.

The troops in South Africa early in December, apart from the force under
Sir George White, were approximately the following:--

     CAVALRY DIVISION (Lieut.-General French).--1st Brigade
     (Major-General Babington)--R Battery R.H.A., 6th Dragoon
     Guards, 10th Hussars, Mounted Infantry, Ammunition Column, No.
     9 Field Hospital. 2nd Brigade (Major-General Brabazon)--O
     Battery R.H.A., 1st Royal Dragoons, 6th Dragoons, 2nd Dragoons,
     Ammunition Column, No. 12 Company R.A.M.C.

     KIMBERLEY RELIEF COLUMN (Lord Methuen's
     Command).--Major-General Sir H. E. Colvile's Brigade--1st Scots
     Guards, 1st Coldstream Guards, 2nd Coldstream Guards, 3rd
     Grenadier Guards. Major-General Pole-Carew's Brigade--1st
     Northumberland Fusiliers, 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, 2nd
     Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
     (half-battalion). Major-General Wauchope's Brigade--1st
     Highland Light Infantry, 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,
     2nd Royal Highlanders, 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, No. 8 Field
     Hospital. Naval Brigade, G and P Batteries R.H.A., 18th, 37th
     (howitzer), 62nd, and 75th Royal Field Artillery, 9th and 12th
     Lancers, 7th Field Company Royal Engineers, Ammunition Column,
     No. 19 Field Hospital.

     COLONIAL FORCES (in support of Lord Methuen).--Canadian
     Contingent, New South Wales Lancers, New Zealand, South and
     West Australian, Tasmanian, and Victorian Contingents.

     TROOPS IN SOUTH NATAL (Lieut.-General Sir C. F. Clery's
     Command).--Major-General Hildyard's Brigade--2nd Royal West
     Surrey, 2nd West Yorkshire, 2nd East Surrey, 2nd Devonshire.
     Major-General Lyttleton's Brigade--2nd Scottish Rifles, 1st
     Durham Light Infantry, 1st Rifle Brigade, 3rd King's Royal
     Rifles, No. 14 Field Hospital. Major-General Barton's
     Brigade--1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers,
     2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers, 2nd Royal Fusiliers, Field Hospital.
     Major-General Fitzroy Hart's Brigade--1st Connaught Rangers,
     1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers,
     No. 10 Field Hospital Company, No. 16 Bearer Company, 2nd
     Somerset Light Infantry, 1st Borderers, 2nd King's Royal
     Rifles, 1st Gordon Highlanders, 7th, 14th, 64th, 66th, and 73rd
     Batteries R.F.A., 12th Field Company R.E., Ammunition Column,
     No. 3 Field Hospital.

     IN CAPE COLONY (Lieut.-General Gatacre's Command).--1st Welsh
     Regiment, 1st Royal Scots, 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, 2nd
     Royal Berkshire, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, 1st Rifle Brigade, 1st
     Royal Munster Fusiliers, 2nd Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry,
     2nd Shropshire Light Infantry, 74th, 77th, and 79th Batteries
     R.F.A., Two Station Hospitals.

     CORPS TROOPS.--4th, 38th, 61st, 65th, and 78th Batteries
     R.F.A., 4th Mountain Battery, 13th Hussars, 1st Telegraph
     Division R.E., 10th Railway Company R.E., 26th Field Company
     R.E., 1st Field Park R.E., Pontoon Troop R.E., Balloon Section
     R.E., No. 5 Field Hospital.

     UNATTACHED.--1st Suffolks, 1st Essex.


                          WITH GENERAL GATACRE

By the end of November two British forces were advancing from East
London by way of Queenstown to the Stormberg and Colesberg districts in
the north of Cape Colony. With General French's advance we must deal
anon: that of Major-General Sir W. F. Gatacre calls for immediate
attention. The General had under his command what was by courtesy termed
the 3rd Division, namely, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, four companies of the
1st Royal Berkshire Regiment, a troop of the New South Wales Lancers,
some companies of Army Medical Corps, Field Hospital, and Volunteer
Mounted Infantry. The total was about 5000 men.

On the 28th of November he was reinforced by the 2nd Northumberland
Fusiliers. His force, as we see, was none too large, for he was
proceeding through country where it may be said that every hand was
either openly or stealthily turned against him. For strategical reasons,
and for the purpose of reassuring the British population, however,
General Gatacre had decided that some sort of advance must be made. He
reconnoitred in and around Molteno, and visited the outposts of
regulars, irregulars, and police, and ascertained to an almost pitiful
degree the slenderness of his resources should any strain occur.

[Illustration: STORMBERG PASS--THE SCENE OF GENERAL GATACRE'S
OPERATIONS.

Drawing by J. C. S. Wright.]

On the 26th November the Boers occupied Stormberg, and on the 28th
General Gatacre moved to Bushman's Hoek with a battalion of infantry and
some mounted infantry, the main body being at Putter's Kraal. On the
29th he accomplished a smart piece of work, though any really decisive
action could not be attempted till more troops arrived from the Cape.
The General concentrated a force at Molteno, commandeered five trains,
and secured 1000 bags of flour which were in danger of being captured by
the Boers.

On the 5th December the headquarters of the 3rd Division were still at
Putter's Kraal, and here reinforcements were arriving daily.
Manifestations of disloyalty grew more and more prevalent throughout
Cape Colony, and the spread of the spirit of rebellion around Stormberg
pointed to the fact that there were deliberate designs to assist in the
overthrow of British supremacy.

On the 5th of December it was decided that a forward movement must at
last be made. The plan was for the column to start by train to Molteno,
and from thence march to the Boer laager at Stormberg. A dash was to be
attempted in the darkness preceding dawn, and the position was to be
carried at the point of the bayonet.

The project was fraught with extreme risk, but General Gatacre, though
fully aware that he was without the necessary reinforcements to make
good a continuous advance, resolved to accept the hazard for the sake of
the chance of success, and for the sake of the moral effect such success
might make in a district weevilled with disaffection. The game of war is
one where reputation, armies, and empires are the stakes, and needs to
be played not only with science, but with bluff, and no committee of
generals, not even one composed of Napoleon, the Archduke Charles, and
Wellington, could have laid down any fixed theory on the art of war as
practised in the Transvaal at that moment. So our officers had to watch
which way the wind blew and trim their sails accordingly; and Sir
William Gatacre judged that it would be perilous to delay an attack on
Stormberg until circumstances seemed to be absolutely propitious. The
Colonial Boers were daily joining the enemy in considerable numbers,
British subjects were imploring aid to save their property from
destruction, and it was imperative to make some strong move which, if
successful, would immediately arrest the threatened tide of rebellion.
The worst of it was that everything depended on the strength of the
move, and it was exactly this strength that was wanting. The Third
Division was broken up and distributed in various parts of the country,
and General Gatacre was forced to make a hazardous venture with only
such forces as he could muster. On all sides the same unfortunate tale
of weakness could be told. Our force was so divided up that each general
was crippled with the consciousness that he had no hope of getting
reinforcements for some time to come. Lord Methuen, now on the extreme
west, while struggling for the relief of Kimberley, had kept the Free
Staters at bay with great loss to himself, and was suffering from the
weakness consequent on violent strain to his resources. General French,
his eye fixed on Colesberg, with a diminutive and totally inadequate
force, had dodged about from town to town, keeping the enemy ever on the
alert and allowing him no time to snore behind his intrenchments, and no
opportunity to proceed farther in his invasion of the Colony; while
General Gatacre was now about to do his best in the midst of a swarming
enemy to capture Stormberg. Thus we see that at one and the same time
four different battles, in the most trying circumstances, were taking
place in the Transvaal, and that the flower of our army was being
exposed on all sides to the murderous shells of an overwhelming foe
powerfully posted in places of his own choosing--at Modder River, at
Arundel, at Stormberg, at Colenso--in each of these regions the
continuous thunder of guns, the gallant advance of heroes, the stubborn
and courageous defence of a preponderating enemy. It is some
satisfaction to think that, though from the first the British suffered
from inferiority in numbers, though they were out-fought by sheer weight
of the Boer commandoes and guns, still they displayed an undismayed
front, and those superb fighting qualities which tradition has taught us
to look for in the British race, and which the enemy, misled or
self-deceived, had chosen to under-estimate. It was also a matter for
congratulation that the foe, with all the natural advantages of the
situation, his knowledge of every inch of the ground, his great mobility
and advanced preparations, merely succeeded in repelling the British
attack, and never took the initiative in attempting one single forward
movement in the face of the British army. But it must be allowed our own
forward moves were so stubbornly resisted, that General Sir William
Gatacre, while attempting to advance, recognised that in some bold and
well-conceived plan of action lay his only chance of success. Such a
plan he attempted to carry out, but with deplorable results, as we shall
see.


                        THE REVERSE AT STORMBERG

General Gatacre left Putter's Kraal and concentrated at Molteno the 2nd
Northumberland, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, and Nos. 74 and 77 Batteries of
Field Artillery, with Mounted Infantry, Cape Mounted Rifles, the 12th
Company of Engineers, and details--in all about 2500 men. At 9 P.M. on
December 9th, began the march that was destined to be so ill-fated. The
night was black, the ground was rocky, and the guide, a local policeman,
from ignorance, under-estimated the distance and led the troops by a
circuitous route absolutely into the teeth of the enemy. Instead of
going north-east for nine miles, the men were led north-west, a detour
of twenty miles. A terrible night-march this, which none who undertook
it can ever forget. Tramp, tramp, through the long midnight hours, over
hills and down nullahs, through rivers and stumbling over stony kopjes
with bayonets fixed, in grim silence, with scarce a whisper allowed, and
with never a pipe as consolation lest the scent should betray the
stealthy advance. For seven long hours the force, like a phantom
procession, trudged and stumbled until they came to a small V-shaped
plateau surrounded by kopjes, which, unknown to them, was fronting the
enemy's position. This was on a high unscalable eminence called Rooi
Kop, that jutted black against the clear grey of early morning. From
here the Boers, chuckling doubtless at their own cunning, were slyly
watching the approach of the party; for it was now dawn. On nearing the
plateau below this eminence, the Irish Rifles, with General Gatacre and
his staff at the head of the column, were greeted, to their
astonishment, by a fierce tornado which was suddenly opened by the enemy
on the right. Though the column was marching in fours and utterly
unsuspicious of the position of the enemy, they gathered themselves
together with marvellous rapidity. Following the Rifles were over a
hundred of the Northumberland Fusiliers, and in the rear the artillery.
In a very short space of time General Gatacre got his column into line
for action, and a hot fight ensued, in which the Rifles--all honour to
them!--distinguished themselves in distressing circumstances. It was not
possible to recover easily from the surprise, and it was evident that
the General and his men were totally unprepared to meet, and unequal to
crushing, a powerful enemy in an intrenched position. Naturally the
casualties were many. However, the artillery were soon climbing a small
kopje on the left, while the Rifles and Northumberland Fusiliers, in
skirmishing order, mounted the hill held by the Republicans. Footsore
and weary with their long midnight march, they toiled up the steeps
amidst a cruel hailstorm from the enemy's fire, which came pouring at
the same time from three separate quarters in flank and rear. One of
the almost impregnable hill-tops was gained at the point of the bayonet,
but so furious became the storm of bullets that the British, now
outnumbered at the rate of seven to one, were forced to retire.
Meanwhile the artillery were drawing the fire of the enemy's guns and
launching their shrieking shells into the fort that the Boers had
constructed at the corner of the kopje. But the position was
unassailable. The Boers had expected the attack, and by an elaborate
system they had measured and marked off distances from their
batteries--a system which could not be upset in a moment. The Dutchmen
swarmed in hundreds behind excellent cover and were not to be routed.
Our men, who, many of them, had been occupied the whole previous day in
fatigue-work, were numb from exhaustion, dropping here and there,
fainting or asleep, in the very face of death.

[Illustration: MAP ILLUSTRATING THE OPERATIONS ON THE SOUTH OF THE
ORANGE RIVER]

The infantry, with the Maxim detachment, were then ordered to retire
towards Molteno, while the artillery remained to cover the retreat. But
the retirement was not so easy. The triumphant Boers now brought their
guns to the tops of the kopjes, and sent shell after shell to catch the
troops as they slowly wound along the valley. Many of the shells burst
with terrific force, ploughing up the roadway around our men, and
shooting clouds of blinding dust into eyes and ears and throats, but
fortunately doing little damage. The Boers also brought their rifles to
bear on the little force, and our worn-out troops suffered the horrible
experience of being hunted like hares along roads through which they had
so laboriously, so hopefully, toiled the night before, tramping the
weary ten miles to Molteno with the enemy taking long shots at them from
innumerable points of vantage. Their progress was necessarily slow, for
sometimes they had to hide in cornfields, to crouch among boulders, and
occasionally to fall prone to earth when shells came screaming and
bursting along their line of route. Afterwards they would rise again,
still holding their life in their hands, and plod on in the expectation
that every step would be their last. For eight long miles this exciting
form of torture was experienced, numbers of the poor fellows dropping
all along the road from wounds, exhaustion, and from the effects of the
now fiercely blazing sun. Terrible was their plight both during the
attack and after it, for the Boers, as usual, paid no heed to the sacred
demand of the wounded or of the white flag, and no sooner saw a party of
stretcher-bearers approach to pick up a man than they made the event the
signal for a volley. All, therefore, that could be done for those
stricken down was to wait patiently till they could crawl a short
distance out of the line of fire and swoop down on them and bear them
hastily away. The unfortunates who were too severely wounded to so
crawl, and those who were killed, had to be left where they fell. Nor
did those who were successfully removed in the ambulance waggon fare
much better, for this was fired on continually, but luckily, owing to
the shells not bursting, caused more horror than harm.

They reached Molteno at last in safety, but with numbers woefully
thinned. When they formed up for the roll-call, the ominous silence that
followed the call of name after name was more than tragic. Dismay
blanched every face. Where were the 366 splendid fellows of the
Northumberland Regiment who had started out in rude health only the
night before? They were missing, perhaps dead! Where, too, were the
roistering, cheery boys of the Royal Irish Rifles--some 294 of
them--none of whom, when his name was spoken, was there to give back the
word? They too were missing, perhaps dead! In this hour of mute regret
those who were left could only thank God that they had come safely
through the terrible ordeal, and think with awe on the strange workings
of fate that had caused some to be taken and others left.

Naturally enough after a disaster so great, all had something to say of
the mistakes which brought it about. Reuter's correspondent declared
that "the primary and greatest mistake made on the 10th inst. was that
what was to have been at the utmost a four hours' night-march lengthened
out to over seven hours, and landed us right into the enemy's position
in broad daylight. Of course, the guides went wrong, took the force a
roundabout way, and are accordingly blamed. But how is it that our
leaders, knowing that four hours should suffice to take them to their
objective, should have wandered on for seven without suspecting that
something was radically wrong? Then, also, at the end of that time our
troops walked, in daylight, in a column four deep, right under the
enemy's nose. No scouts or skirmishers were out, and it was here that we
lost so heavily, the Boers from covered positions firing volley after
volley right into the mass of men below. Again, the men, most of whom
had been on duty since 4 A.M. the previous (Saturday) morning, were
tired and hungry, and yet were asked to storm the position without rest
immediately after a long and tiring night-march."

The _Times_ correspondent attributed some of the misfortune to the fact
that "the Berkshire Regiment, by whom the redoubts now occupied by the
Boers at Stormberg had been built, and to whom every inch of the ground
was familiar, were left at Queenstown, instead of being employed to
recapture the works which they had so unwillingly evacuated about a
month previously. The consequence of no one knowing where he was going
or what he had to attack or when proximity to the enemy had been
reached, was that the infantry, marching in fours, were suddenly fired
into at a point where, after ascending but a few feet, their further
advance against the enemy was precluded by an unclimbable precipice. The
moment that the first shots were fired companies doubled straight at the
points whence the firing seemed to have proceeded, and commenced to
scale the hill. Soon, however, they came upon a perpendicular wall of
rock, from the summit of which the Boers were plying their rifles at
half-a-dozen yards' distance. Here fell Lieutenant-Colonel Eager, and
close to him Major Seton of the Royal Irish Rifles. Colonel Eager was
the man who reached the highest point attained by any of the attackers,
and was then shot down, where many another British officer has fallen
before now, at the head of his battalion, gallantly leading them as in
the days of old, when long-range weapons had not been invented."

Others hinted that it was the habit of the General to overwork his
troops--a habit so well known that it had earned for him in Egypt the
title of "General Backacher." Further comments were made by those who
always find the art of criticism so much easier than the art of
performance, but to repeat them at a time when the principal actors in
the sorry affair are unable to defend themselves would be unjust and
ungenerous. Our Generals, besides treachery, had from the first unusual
ignorance to deal with. One of our misfortunes has been the necessity to
rely for information on friendly Kaffirs, or those who affected to be
friendly. Now, as all know, the Kaffirs, even when honest, are scarcely
reliable. Their notions of size, for instance, are on a par with those
of the man who described the dimensions of a bump by saying it was about
the size of a piece of chalk. To the Kaffir an impi is an army, whether
small or large, and it is almost impossible to bring home to him the
value of exactness. In fact, in the matter of ambiguity the Kaffir has
the makings of a politician, and therefore it was no wonder that so many
of the well-organised military schemes in this unlucky war came to
grief. But in the case at Stormberg there were other difficulties to
contend with. The map of the ground was utterly unreliable. The
configuration of the hills was incorrectly presented and the distances
badly judged. The general knowledge of the direction was so imperfect
that none was sufficiently well informed to put a check upon the
movements of the guide, nor had the position been reconnoitered by any
of those engaged against it. In this way the winding and circuitous
route more than doubled the march, knocked up the troops, and ruined the
effect of the night assault; for it was full daybreak before the British
approached the point of attack. One of the sufferers from the disaster
declared that the British were so worn out that after the engagement
they threw themselves down and did not mind whether they were taken
prisoners or not. He himself crawled to within three miles of the base
camp, and then lay down on the veldt and fell asleep. How long he
remained asleep he did not know. Most of the prisoners, he believed,
were taken by the Boers while the men were asleep.

A report was circulated that General Gatacre had shot with his own hands
the guide who led him astray, but this statement was entirely incorrect.
The military authorities thoroughly sifted the case of the sergeant of
the Cape Police who acted as guide on the occasion, and it was allowed
that he erred genuinely in mistaking the enemy's position.

The following officers were wounded in the engagement at Stormberg:--

     2nd Royal Irish Rifles--Lieutenant-Colonel Eager (since dead),
     Major Seton, Captain Bell, Captain Kelly, Lieutenant Stephens,
     Lieutenant Barnardstone. Suffolk Regiment--Second Lieutenant
     Maynard. Missing: Captain Weir, Lieutenant Christie, Second
     Lieutenant Rodney. 74th Field Battery--Lieutenant Lewis. 77th
     Field Battery--Major Percival. 2nd Northumberland
     Fusiliers--Missing: Major Stevens, Captain Fletcher, Captain
     Morley, Second Lieutenant Wake, Second Lieutenant Coulson,
     Lieutenant Radcliffe. Dorset Regiment--Three hundred and six
     non-commissioned officers and men were also missing.

The scene of General Gatacre's disaster was on the junction of the
eastern line of railway in Cape Colony running from East London through
Queenstown, Molteno, and Burgersdorp to Bloemfontein in the Orange Free
State. There were many strategical reasons for wishing to seize upon it.
First, it was desirable to engage the enemy in the centre, and so save
the Boer commandoes from falling in too great strength on Lord Methuen's
line of communications. Secondly, from the situation of the place it was
possible also to effect a junction by rail with General French. Thirdly,
a victory gained in the centre of the disaffected districts would have
been a feather in the cap of the General, for it must have drawn to him
such waverers whose vacillating loyalty was daily growing dangerous. The
melancholy reverse was, therefore, from many points of view to be
regretted. Perhaps, however, it achieved one object. It forced those at
home to realise the necessity for sending more than sprinklings of
troops to meet a strong, courageous, and well-equipped foe.

The General, in giving an explanation of the reverse, declared that the
operation which proved so wretched a failure was started under the
promise of complete success. By himself and the local guide, however,
the distance was under-estimated. He did not consider that the guide was
guilty of treachery, merely of unintentional error. However this may
have been, it is certain that the British plans were entirely well
known, and that the Boers had had ample time to prepare for the coming
of the force. It was evident that the gallant General did not take a
leaf out of the book of Metellus, the Spanish commander, who, when asked
how he should proceed the next day, said, "If my shirt knew I would put
it in the fire." Possibly, being a great theorist, as was poor Sir
George Colley, he may have agreed with the opinion held by Marshal
Bugeaud, that military affairs were too often wrapped in mysterious
silence. Certainly there was no secrecy about the strategy of the
advance on Stormberg, and the guileless manner in which the General
trusted to the guidance of a local policeman was commented on none too
generously by the distressed public, whose disappointment was too great
to allow them to look coolly at the ups and downs of warfare and the
fallibility of human designs. General Gatacre, after the reverse, held
Bushman's Hoek and Cyphergat, two positions to the south of Molteno,
where he could await the reinforcements which would shortly reach him
from the Cape.


                            AT MODDER RIVER

At dawn on the day following the battle the guns opened fire, with a
view to effecting the clearance of the enemy, but it was soon discovered
that the Boers had made themselves scarce, preferring to march through
the long midnight hours to remaining where a chance of the bayonet might
be awaiting them. Their artillery they at first left, but discovering
that the British had not crossed the river, they returned and removed it
to Spyfontein, where the next encounter was expected to take place. Had
only the troops been less worn out--they were so expended that they
could scarcely move one leg before the other--these guns might have been
captured and victory assured. But fatigue must overcome the finest
warriors, and ours had done prodigious work in circumstances of the most
trying and varied kind. The next morning Lord Methuen's forces quietly
occupied the town, and spent the day in the melancholy duty of burying
the dead.

Owing to the carcasses of beasts and the corpses of dead men in the
stream, the troops had soon to bivouac some three miles farther up.
There they could enjoy the rare luxury of a bath and drink their fill in
safety. No "wee drappie" ever cheered the heart of Scotsman as did the
quarts of Modder that went down the throats of thirsty Highlanders who
had been toasted inside and out during the long hours of the battle. As
one appropriately, if not elegantly, described it:--

      "When it comes to slaughter
      You'll do your work on water,
    And lick the bloomin' boots of him that's got it."

But the water everywhere was bad, and for safety boiling was imperative.
For some days the men had been bathing in and drinking from the polluted
stream, and it was quite wonderful that enteric had not seized upon the
troops. A Dutch lady stated that she had seen four dead Boers with
stones round their necks thrown into the river by their comrades, but
when the bed of the stream came to be investigated, at least seventeen
corpses were hauled out. The enemy's loss was estimated at 500, and
doubtless those of the slain who were not lying under an inch layer of
sand were disposed of in the river. The air, too, was far from
salubrious. The winds of evening were reminiscent of the dead horses and
mules that remained half-buried on the banks. Fortunately the vultures
and ants, and other useful agents, soon reduced the pestiferous masses
to harmless skeletons.

Meanwhile the rest of the Highland Brigade was on its way up to join
Lord Methuen at headquarters. Some went by train and others marched, as
the line--a single one--was frightfully congested with traffic. Stores
and ammunition and baggage of all kinds were being sent up, while the
wounded, in "emptied" trains, were being sent down. The march was a
trying one, even for hardy men who could well have managed twenty-five
to thirty miles a day on their native heath. Now, they were supposed to
carry 35 lbs. each, without counting clothes, and twelve miles a day in
the broiling heat of a South African midsummer was counted remarkably
good going. What with rifle, 100 rounds of ammunition, a big coat, a
two-quart water-bottle, field-glasses, and haversack, officers and men
were nearly as heavily weighted as itinerant peddlers. They carried
their warlike pack over sandy roads that threw off clouds of dust which
caked hair and skin, and made the whole outer man a complete study in
kharki. What failed to go down their throats went into their eyes,
blinding or worrying, while overhead a merciless sun blazed and
tortured. There was no shade; there was little water. The night was cold
as the day was hot. In the small hours the men were thankful for the
single blanket which was allowed each of them, and which was carried in
mule and bullock waggons for their use. Luxuries for the toilet were no
longer in vogue. A sponge, a shirt, a pair of socks--these made the sum
total of the Highland officers' wardrobe. Some still stuck to their
razors, and others had succumbed to necessity and wore nature's hirsute
decorations, plus a peppering of ochreous dust. But they were in the
best of tempers, and looked forward to some reviving dips in the Modder
on their arrival there.

Lord Methuen resumed command of the troops on the 6th of December, and
all were glad to find that the injury to their gallant commander had
been slight. It was now clear that the Boers intended to make a stand at
Spyfontein, for they were preparing for themselves fortified positions
such as their souls delighted in--deep, and long, and rocky. They had
time at their disposal, for a long halt at Modder River was imperative
for the purpose of replenishing the ammunition of the artillery
batteries and for bringing up relays of stores and food. Our expenditure
of ammunition in the fight on the 28th was said to have been 200 rounds
per gun, and consequently an extra supply was necessary before pursuing
aggressive operations.

Having deserted the river, the Boers were now planted in front of and on
the British right flank, so close indeed that daily passages at arms
took place between our patrols and those of the enemy. Several of
Rimington's Scouts were wounded, and wild rumours of approaching attack
were afloat. During the night of the 6th and the morning of the 7th the
communications by rail and telegraph at Enslin were cut.

On this occasion the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment had a narrow escape.
They had been left by Lord Methuen to guard the line of communications
at Enslin, and there they were attacked by a Boer force 1000 strong.
Fortunately the General, hearing the news, despatched in hot haste to
the assistance of the regiment the 12th Lancers and the Seaforth
Highlanders, who had just arrived at the camp, under Brigadier-General
Wauchope, together with the 62nd Field Battery. The attack commenced at
4.30, and continued till eleven, at which time the Lancers and Seaforths
appeared. The Boers thereupon retired with all speed, the Lancers
following closely in pursuit. The British loss was one killed and six
wounded. On the same day the first train ran over the temporary bridge
which had been rapidly constructed by the Engineers, whose smart
workmanship elicited general admiration.

An interesting affair took place on the 9th of December. At night one of
the Naval 4.7-inch guns, which had been fitted with a field-carriage and
dignified with the name of "Joe Chamberlain," was hauled by a team of
thirty-two oxen to a ridge on the north side of the town. At an early
hour in the morning the Naval detachment manned the gun and opened fire
on a Boer position that had been previously located by Colonel Rhodes.
More than a dozen shells were scattered among the enemy, causing
frightful consternation. The Boers at the time were busily engaged in
constructing an emplacement for one of their 40-pounders, but when "Joe
Chamberlain" made himself not only heard but felt, there was a stampede.
The lyddite ploughed up the hills with terrific uproar, and the
surrounding atmosphere appeared as though a sirocco of red sand had
swept over the district.

The force now massing on the Orange River, with Lieutenant-General Lord
Methuen in command, consisted of:--

     2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd Northamptonshire, 1st Loyal
     North Lancashire (Mounted Infantry), 1st Loyal North
     Lancashire, 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, 3rd Grenadier Guards,
     1st Coldstream Guards, 2nd Coldstream Guards, 1st Scots Guards,
     9th Lancers, 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 1st
     Highland Light Infantry, 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, Part of 2nd
     Royal Highlanders (Black Watch), several Companies of Royal
     Engineers, 18th, 62nd, and 65th Field Batteries, one or two
     Horse-Artillery Batteries, part of Kimberley Light Horse, part
     of Diamond Fields Horse, Naval Brigade, Contingents from
     Australia, several Companies of Army Medical Corps, Field
     Hospitals, Colonial Mounted Irregulars, Rimington's Scouts,
     South African Reserve.

The total was about 14,000 men.

The number of Boers prepared to meet the British advance was supposed to
be between 15,000 and 18,000, but, in spite of this, it was decided that
some onward move must soon be made. The week's delay for the arrival of
reinforcements and other preparations was now over, and Spyfontein was
ahead. There the Boers held, if possible, a stronger position than any
that had yet been attacked. Towards the east they were congregating from
the direction of Jacobsdal, and the extent occupied by them was already
enormous. Lord Methuen, if he meant to get to Kimberley at all, was
forced to attempt to do so by frontal attack, as the area occupied by
the Boers was so great that no other means of tackling them was
feasible. Still the troops were in excellent spirits, the prospect of
shortly relieving a besieged multitude giving them courage to compensate
for their fatigue.

On the morning of the 10th there was a voluntary Church Parade.
According to a wag who reported from the camp, a Saturday-night's order
was given, which stated briefly that Presbyterians must go washed,
Church of England might go unwashed! The question of ablutions did not
affect the devotions of Tommy, who heartily joined in the singing of
hymns, which he said reminded him more than anything else of home.


                      THE BATTLE OF MAJESFONTEIN

On Sunday, the 10th of December, Lord Methuen, having completed his
plans, moved forward from his position for the momentous fight, which
was not only to decide the fate of Kimberley, but determine the attitude
of the waverers among the Dutch, of which there were now very many. The
Boers occupied a wide crescent-shaped front, extending some six miles
from the hills on the west of the railway at Spyfontein to the kopjes on
the east of the Kimberley road at Majesfontein.

The northern portion of the position consisted of a kopje about three
miles long, and the southern end terminated in a high hill which was
looked upon as the key to the position. Towards these rugged kopjes the
veldt sloped gently upwards from the river a distance of five miles, and
though from afar this plain seemed to face the ridge of hills spreading
from east to west, it in reality penetrated wedgewise into the
boulder-strewn area. Someone described the great Boer position as the
end of a pocket, a veritable _cul de sac_, doubtless lined with Boer
guns and Boer trenches--the jaws of a dragon, in fact.

[Illustration: THE MODDER RIVER.

Photo by Miss E. C. Briggs.]

Orders were given that this stronghold was to be bombarded, and from
4.50 P.M. to 6.30 P.M. the guns, including the Naval 4.7-inch, played
over kopjes and trenches with accuracy, and, it was thought, with deadly
effect. The operation was carried on with precision and perseverance as
long as a gleam of daylight lasted, but no response was elicited from
the enemy, who carefully concealed their very existence. At night a
tremendous downpour of rain descended and saturated the troops, who were
bivouacking where they were, some 4000 yards in front of the
Majesfontein position, thus rendering their already uncomfortable
situation more uncomfortable still. But this was merely an item in the
misfortunes they were shortly destined to endure.

The general plan was for the Highland Brigade, supported by guns, to
assault the southern end of the kopje, their right and rear being
protected by the Guards Brigade. According to Lord Methuen's despatch,
it seems that before moving off Major-General Wauchope explained all
that was to be done, and the particular part each battalion was to play
in the scheme: namely, that they were to march direct on the south-west
spur of the kopje, and on arrival near the objective before daybreak the
Black Watch were to move to the east of the kopje, where he believed the
enemy to be posted under shelter, while the Seaforth Highlanders were to
march straight to the south-east point of the kopje, with the Argyll and
Sutherland Highlanders prolonging the line to the left; the Highland
Light Infantry to be in reserve until the action was developed. The
brigade was to march in mass of quarter columns, the four battalions
keeping touch, and, if necessary, ropes were to be used for the left
guides. The three battalions were to extend just before daybreak, two
companies in firing line, two companies in support, and four companies
in reserve, all at five paces interval between them.

Soon after midnight the march began. The distance was only two and a
half miles, and daybreak was due about 3.25 A.M. But the gruesome night
rendered the progress of the troops unusually slow. Rain came down in
torrents, thunder growled, lightning played over the hill, glinted on
rifles, and disorganised the compasses by which Major Benson was
steering his course. Towards dawn the gloom of Erebus seemed to deepen
rather than lift, and in the obscurity they must have been quite unaware
of the exceedingly close proximity of the enemy, for the Highland
Brigade--in the following order, Black Watch, Seaforths, Argyll and
Sutherland, and Highland Light Infantry--continued to approach in
quarter column though within some two hundred yards of the Boer
entrenchments. It was imagined that the Dutchmen were in force on a
kopje on the other side of the veldt, and not a soul suspected the
existence of the formidable line of intrenchments on which our soldiers
were gaily advancing. Before they could discover their mistake they were
greeted by the Dutchmen--who had allowed the brigade to approach without
showing any signs of life--with a raking fire on their flanks. The whole
hill seemed on the instant to become alive with the roar of musketry.
Fire vomited as from a live volcano at their very feet. A moment before
they had seen only a dark barrier of bush and shrub, and then, flash!
the earth yawned, crackled, and emitted the flame of hell.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF MAJESFONTEIN]

So seemed to them the sudden conflagration in that first, awful moment.
They started back--a confused, congested mass, with death in their
midst. Their Colonel then ordered the Seaforths to fix bayonets and
charge. The officers commanding other battalions followed suit. At this
moment, darkness still reigning, some one called "Retire." There was a
rush, many hurrying and hustling off to obey one order, while others
were still charging forwards to obey the other. The confusion was
intense, dead men dropping thick as autumn leaves, bullets whirring,
shouts, orders--conflicting orders--ringing out on every side. For some
seconds the rout of the gallant Highlanders seemed to be imminent. Their
retirement, however, was due mainly to sudden panic, the consternation
and amazement at the murderous outburst, blazing as it did in the dim
deceitful dusk, from the unsuspected trenches. These, it must be owned,
were most skilfully concealed at the foot of a series of kopjes. They
were screened from sight by a tangle of brushwood and scrub, while round
the glacis of the trenches was crinkled a triple line of barbed wire.
When, therefore, a deadly furnace broke from this tangle, the troops
were aghast. For the first moment the superb crowd, unduly huddled
together and helpless, threatened to become disorganised, but it was
only for a moment. The Highlanders retired some 200 yards, and then they
instantly formed up, such as were left of them, for out of two companies
of the Black Watch only fifty men escaped. A more tragic scene than that
at the onset of the battle cannot be conceived. From all directions came
an avalanche of lead, sweeping south and east and west in the gloaming,
and flecking the whole visible universe with red. Cries and groans and
curses and shouts intermingled with orders innumerable. "Advance,"
shouted some one; "Retire," called another; "Fix bayonets," cried a
third; "Charge," roared a fourth. Meanwhile Seaforths and Black Watch,
scrambling and tripping over the bodies of fallen comrades, were
pressing on through the high wire entanglements, tearing their already
excoriated legs, and struggling for the enemy's trenches. Here fell
their gallant leader, dauntless Wauchope--fell never to rise again. But
dying he cheered on the men of the Black Watch by his side. "Good-bye,
men," he called to them with his last breath; "fight for yourselves--it
is man to man now." And they did fight, struggling over and over again
to make their way to the trenches in spite of the menace of almost
certain death. Valiantly they held their ground, availing themselves of
such cover as there was, bushes and scrub that were dotted here and
there, and returning to the deadly greetings of the Mausers no mean
reply. At this time the avalanche of buzzing, whirring, death-dealing
lead was enough to make the stoutest heart quail, but the officers were
seen marching boldly forward, and where they led--veritably into the
jaws of death--there their loyal Highlanders followed. Meanwhile, so
soon as it was light enough to see, the artillery had come to the
rescue, and so remarkable were its performances that even the enemy
confessed that on this day they had suffered greater loss than at any
other time during the war. The howitzer battery was placed directly in
front of the position, and poured forth a terrible fire over the whole
face of the hill. Lyddite shells sped snorting into the trenches, and,
with a terrific detonation, shot up the earth in clouds. One destroyed a
laager on the kopje, others did fearful execution, striking the hard
rocks and boulders, and spreading devastation far and wide. But still
the enemy failed to budge from their strong entrenchments. The 62nd and
18th Field Batteries, under Majors Grant and Scott respectively, took up
a position behind the Highlanders, sending shell after shell into the
enemy's position with such amazing accuracy that the Boer numbers were
considerably thinned. During this feat they were assailed with a
scourging storm of lead from the whole line of intrenchments. The Boers
displayed more than their ordinary courage, standing upright in their
trenches, and sometimes advancing, the better to aim at the aggressive
"men-women," as they called the kilted warriors, though at other times
they completely hid themselves and fired wildly, in consequence of
holding their guns above the level of their heads. The Brigade,
nevertheless, advanced to within 300 yards of the enemy, where they
pluckily held their position in the teeth of galling fire for some
hours. Both their tenacity and their dash were astounding, for the
volleys of the enemy were accurate and persistent, and sufficiently
deadly to demoralise the most veteran troops in the world. The Boers,
having been reinforced during the engagement, their number had now
mounted to some 18,000 men. Eye-witnesses have described this, his
fourth fight, as quite the stiffest on Lord Methuen's record, and have
declared that the obstinate resistance of the Highland Brigade, and the
magnificent coolness and daring of its officers, quite equalled the most
splendid deeds of British history. The Brigade about noon was reinforced
by the Gordons, and these, as they advanced towards the wire-girded
trenches, were exposed to a terrific cross-fire from the enemy, their
route having taken them past a Boer trench from which the concealed foe
promptly assailed them, and they found themselves literally battered by
volleys in front, flank, and rear.

[Illustration: SKETCH MAP OF POSITIONS AT MAJESFONTEIN]

The Guards Brigade meanwhile were taking a heavy share of the work. They
occupied the centre and right, moving due north over a level plain which
was shelled by the Boers from the ridges. The extreme right rested on
the river, where the Yorkshire Light Infantry, under a tremendous fire,
held the drift. These clung tenaciously to their position throughout the
day, even after all their ammunition was exhausted. They fired in all
some 7000 rounds, inflicting terrible damage and losing only ten
wounded.

About two o'clock, after the enemy had been reinforced, the firing,
which had temporarily slackened, began again with stertorous uproar. The
air was thick with projectiles dealing death and mutilation on every
side. Then it was that the real disaster of the day occurred. The
portions of the shattered Highland Brigade, which, in spite of the
shock to its numbers, had stuck manfully to its terrific duty, suddenly
became disorganised. As a matter of fact, though it was not at the
moment recognised, nearly all its officers had fallen. A few minutes
later and they retired, by whose order none knows. The order was given.
No shouting of counter-orders could rally them; and indeed how could it,
since the revered familiar voices of their commanders were silent, some
of them perhaps never to be heard again! Major Ewart, Brigade-Major of
the Highlanders, rode up with an order--almost an entreaty, some
say--from the commanding officer to the effect that all he asked of the
Brigade was to hold the position till dark. But the officer in this
desperate situation could actually find no other to help him to repeat
the command to the scattered remnant, and he was thankful for the
assistance of Colonel Dawney, who, as a civilian, was surveying the
battle from Horse Artillery Hill. Eventually a rally was effected, and
the brigade, stiffened and supported by the Scots Guards, got back to
the guns; but their nerve was shattered by the terrific experiences of
the morning, by the losses they had sustained, and by the disappointment
of being unable to fulfil the glorious expectations which the renowned
Highland Brigade has ever encouraged and ever nobly fulfilled.

[Illustration: MAJOR-GENERAL ANDREW G. WAUCHOPE, C.B.

Photo by Horsburgh, Edinburgh.]

It will serve no purpose to dwell further on the miserable details of
mighty effort wasted, splendid lives sacrificed, and gallant hearts
crushed by mischance. There are moments when, like the Oriental, one can
but lift helpless hands to the Unseen and cry "Kismet!"

While the engagement was going forward, Major-General Pole-Carew sent an
armoured train, under cover of a Naval gun, within 2500 yards of the
Boer position. This gun during the whole day, whenever occasion
required, made itself prominent by its magnificent practice, firing
lyddite shells behind the main ridge, and searching kopjes, trenches,
and laager with amazing accuracy. For instance, at one moment a train of
bullocks drawing guns was seen by the Naval Brigade--in the next the
whole affair had ceased to exist! In the same summary way the Guards
dealt with the foe. They came on a picket of some forty Boers, who had
been left for purposes of observation, and in shorter time than it would
take to tell the tale the whole party were killed, wounded, or taken
prisoners. The troops held their own in front of the enemy, entirely
clearing them out of the upper intrenchments until darkness put a stop
to the operations. This was another of the day's misfortunes, for at the
very hour of dusk the Boers were deciding to evacuate their position.
Then our troops intrenched themselves in face of the Boer position. But
finally, on the following day, they had to retire to Modder River on
account of the scarcity of water.

Nearly all the loss was borne by the Highland Brigade, who lost
fifty-three officers either killed, wounded, or missing, and a total of
650 of all ranks. Our line was three and a half miles long, while that
of the Boers was almost double. The loss of the enemy in mounted
infantry was enormous, and their Scandinavian commando of eighty strong,
which, under Baron Faderscwold, had been removed from Mafeking, was
entirely destroyed, every man being killed or wounded except seven, who
were taken prisoners.

There seems to be little doubt that Lord Methuen's ill-success was
largely due to treachery, for in the course of the battle an officer
detected a Cape Dutchman on the left rear in the act of exchanging
signals with the Boers. In fact, much of the information supplied both
to General Gatacre and General Methuen was found to be deliberately
false, and it was known that the districts through which they had to
pass were seething with disaffection. For this reason most probably this
glorious and desperate fight proved a drawn battle, but there were, of
course, other possible causes to be considered. Lord Methuen had
advanced from De Aar with a brilliant army which had already acquitted
itself nobly, though with great loss, in three battles, against an enemy
entrenched in stony hills. With his thinned force of some 8000 men he
now hurled himself against troops which not only had been greatly
reinforced, but were situated behind complicated earthworks miles in
length, built on the most approved system of modern tactics.

In regard to strategy, there was no doubt that the Boers had scored.
They had been lying in wait fully aware of our plans, and had the
approach of the troops signalled to them by means of a lantern fixed
high on the hills. The Highlanders were fairly at their mercy. By the
time the shouts and orders and counter-orders had rung out, those who
had uttered them were dead or dying, and many who were left were
rushing--rushing and dropping--to get out of the fiery furnace into
which they had been led. It must be remembered that on that day there
was no artillery preparation; the heights had not been searched, and the
enemy was master of the field. The artillery operated later in the
morning; but after the first momentary retirement the Brigade of its own
accord formed up, consigned itself again to the hell of flame and death,
and there stuck as targets for the enemy till midday.

In the official despatch occurs the line, "I attach no blame to this
splendid brigade." Fortunately there is none among the great multitude
to whom the story of the tragic affair is known who would dream of
associating the word blame with the glorious band who so grievously have
suffered. Where the blame rests it is not for the civilian to say.
Indeed the exact facts of the matter can never be known, as the two dead
heroes most concerned cannot speak, and those who live can never argue
with certainty of facts occurring in the turmoil of battle. In reference
to the Brigade Lord Methuen said:--

     "I have made use of Lieutenant-Colonel Hughes Hallett's report
     (the acting Brigadier) for the description of the part the
     Highland Brigade took in this action. Major-General Wauchope
     told me, when I asked him the question, on the evening of the
     10th, that he quite understood his orders, and made no further
     remark. He died at the head of the brigade, in which his name
     will always remain honoured and respected. His high military
     reputation and attainments disarm all criticism. Every soldier
     in my division deplores the loss of a fine soldier and a true
     comrade. The attack failed; the inclement weather was against
     success; the men in the Highland Brigade were ready enough to
     rally, but the paucity of officers and non-commissioned
     officers rendered this no easy matter. I attach no blame to
     this splendid brigade."

Examples of individual daring and individual self-abnegation during this
glorious though ineffectual fight were too numerous to be quoted. The
Medical Staff, for instance, exposed themselves with a persistence that
was truly marvellous, succouring the injured and carrying them off to
shelter, till in some instances they themselves were shot. Very tragic
was the state of the gallant wounded, the bravest of the brave, who had
dared to advance too near the trenches, for these in the wretched plight
could not even enjoy the medical attention lavished on the others, as no
sooner were the doctors seen to be approaching them than a storm of fire
was immediately sent in their direction. The patience of the sufferers
was at times more than heroic. Notwithstanding their agonies and the
horrible pangs of thirst that are the inevitable result of wounds, some,
knowing that water was too scarce to go round, would not consent to do
more than moisten their lips from the water-bottle offered them, while
others hid the fact of their being wounded, so as not to absorb
attention from those more in need of it than themselves.

The Marquis of Winchester was one of those who fell nobly. For the most
part of the day he seemed to have a charmed life, and though bullets
whizzed through his helmet and round his ears, he moved fearlessly among
his men instructing each as to the direction in which he should fire. At
last, however, came the fatal shot which pierced his spine and laid him
low.

The gallant colonel of the Gordons, Colonel Downman, was seen shouting
on his men till a bullet dealt him a mortal wound. Another Scottish
hero, a private, was heard wildly remonstrating as the stretcher-bearers
tried to remove him from the field. His ankle was smashed, but he still
roared that he had been wounded for twelve hours, and had been fighting
all the while, and was still as fit as any man in the army!

He was not alone in his valour, for instances of remarkable gallantry
occurred on every side. Sergeant Gash (Rimington's Horse) singly
assisted a wounded man, sticking to him under a heavy fire till the poor
fellow was placed out of harm's way, and Lieutenant Riley (Yorkshire
Light Infantry) bore on his back a man of the Mounted Infantry while
covered by Sergeant Cassen and Privates Bennett and Mawhood. The reason
why so many officers fell may be attributed to the fact that the Boers
employed sharpshooters who walked coolly about lifting their
field-glasses and picking off such persons as appeared in any way
conspicuous. The prominence of the officers, however, was not due to
peculiarity in their uniforms, they having discarded swords, revolvers,
and belts, and adopted kharki aprons over their kilts. One of the
Seaforth Highlanders wrote pathetically of the awful day's work. He
said:--

     "We were in quarter-column of companies in line--that is, we
     were offering a front of, say, 50 yards--and immediately
     behind, following in double ranks, were company after company
     of the Highland Brigade, of, say, 3500 men. Suddenly the whole
     hillside was one mass of flame, and the Seaforths, leading,
     received a discharge of rifle-fire from over 16,000 Boers. It
     was awful. Talk about 'hell'--the hillside was one continuous
     line of fire. We immediately scattered and spread one in lines
     right and left.... Monday's work was a huge blunder, and who is
     to blame I do not know; but there is no doubt the Highland
     Brigade were led like lambs to the slaughter. We were led more
     as if we were on a Volunteer review at Hyde Park. We had a
     sorrowful job on Tuesday night. We had fifty-three dead brought
     in and buried. You could hear nothing but the wailing of the
     pibrochs as the Highlanders were buried."

A colour-sergeant of the 2nd Black Watch writing from hospital thus
described the moments when the unlucky Brigade which had stood
gloriously against the terrific shock first became disorganised:--

     "The brigade was moving in mass of quarter-column, with a few
     mounted scouts in front and our battalion leading the Brigade.
     We had to file through a narrow part and form up as we got
     through, and when my company got to its place I could see the
     dim outline of the hill in front, and thought we were in a very
     dangerous place if the enemy, as I thought, occupied it, for it
     was the extreme left of their position, and therefore they were
     bound to strongly hold the flank. However, the brigade formed
     up nicely on the open ground, and a lamp that was shining on
     the left on a prominent spur was put out. Simultaneously the
     whole of the hillside was lit up with the most damnable
     discharge of rifles, &c., that any one can possibly imagine.
     They seemed to be formed up in tiers all up the hillside, and
     were pouring magazine fire into us at a terrific rate. Then
     came all sorts of shouts--'Lie down,' 'Charge,' 'Extend,' &c.,
     and of the whole brigade there was only the front rank of A
     Company of ours that could have used their rifles, as everybody
     else was straight in rear of them. Well, two companies in front
     did charge, but were stopped by barbed wire fences and
     entanglements fifteen yards from the trenches and mostly shot
     down. Others broke to right and left or retired, and after
     waiting about a minute for a bullet to hit me, as it appeared
     impossible to escape one, and as it did not arrive, I thought
     perhaps it was advisable to go with the remainder. I walked
     away to the right, still expecting one, but they were all going
     too high, and it was not yet light. I got clear away and
     discovered a mob of excited soldiers of all regiments, and with
     Captain Cameron we tried to get them together, but they had
     lost their head, and several Boers who had moved out of the
     trenches to get round our flank happening to fire in this
     direction, they became disorganised. It was then daylight
     before sunrise. The Boers, moving smartly, then showered us
     with bullets, and many were bowled over. I walked along quite
     casually, shouting to one and another to take cover and keep
     cool, and I was once followed about 200 yards by quite an
     accompaniment of bullets, I should say about twelve keeping it
     up; but as they were evidently aiming at me, none hit me.
     Slowly getting back with any amount dropping, I lost sight
     eventually of these persevering gentlemen, when another alarm
     came from a fresh direction. Thinking possibly it was some of
     our own troops, I lay down behind an ant-heap facing the
     direction, loaded my rifle, and waited to be certain before
     firing. I did not fire, however, as at that moment somebody hit
     me on the back of the neck with a bar of iron weighing two tons
     and a half, for so it seemed to me; it quite numbed me for a
     few seconds, and a chap who had lain down beside me shouted he
     was shot and began to howl, upon which I politely asked him to
     shut up and get it bandaged, and I then moved away to find out
     where they were forming up. After half an hour my equipment
     became too heavy for me, and meeting a stretcher-bearer he took
     it off and bandaged me up. The bullet had entered the left side
     of my neck, and, taking a downward course, passed through the
     neck and out at the back of the right shoulder. I was then
     conducted to the ambulance and away to hospital, and on my way
     down saw the Gordons marching up from the baggage to take a
     part in it, but the artillery had been working away for two or
     three hours then."

Could any troops, officerless, unhinged, riddled through and through,
instantly gather themselves together with sufficient force to hold out
against a foe flushed with triumph and intoxicated with success?
Impossible! Students of Napier may recall the description of the panic
to the Light Division in the middle of the night, when no enemy was
near, and may understand how the bravest and most warlike troops, when
exposed to unexpected and unknown danger, have shrunk back in dismay. On
the occasion referred to some one called out "A mine!" and such was the
force of the shock to the imagination that "the troops who had not been
stopped by the strong barrier, the deep ditch, the high walls, and the
deadly fire of the enemy, staggered back appalled by a chimera of their
own raising." If this result can have been effected by a chimera, how
then could anything else be expected by a real shock, a tangible shock,
such as the gallant Brigade suffered in that dark hour of horror and
despair? It is difficult for the outsider within the protecting walls of
home to realise the awful moments, each long as a lifetime, through
which these noble fellows passed--moments full of heroism as they were
full of pathos! For instance, when the clamour of battle was at its
loudest, when no voice of officer could be heard, and the stricken
Highlanders were groaning in heaps upon the blistering veldt, Corporal
M'Kay, of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, standing in the midst
of the cyclone of lead, struck up "The Campbells are coming" in order to
rally the unfortunate men. These, jaded and broken as they were, drew
taut their aching limbs, and, reviving with the heartening strains, once
more dragged themselves towards the whirlwind of lead, determining once
more either to do or to die.

The desperate situation in which the Highlanders were placed may also be
pictured from descriptions given by two more of their ill-starred
number.

The first wrote:--

     "At twelve o'clock we started to advance. Well, we got to
     within 500 yards of the position, and if ever a man was led
     into a death-trap my regiment was. We led the brigade. Our
     general must have been under the impression that the Boers had
     left the hill, for he had us up in mass of quarter column. When
     we got within 500 yards they opened fire at us. My God, I shall
     never forget it in my life. It was terrible, fearful; we were
     shot down like dogs, without a chance to return their fire. The
     groans of those hit sound in my ears yet, and will do for many
     years to come. Well, as soon as they opened fire we fell flat,
     and got the order to fix bayonets and charge. We did so. The
     Black Watch only got into their trenches, and I am happy to
     tell you my bayonet has still got on it the stain of a Boer's
     blood. Not having any support from any other regiment, we got
     the order to retire to 400 yards, and I can tell you there were
     not many who got into the trenches who ever left them. There is
     hardly any man in the regiment that has any part of his
     equipment left whole. I have three holes in my kilt."

The second corroborated the above statement:--

     "The Black Watch in front made an attempt to charge the
     position, but we had to retire and simply run for it, the enemy
     blazing at us all the way and dropping our fellows like
     skittles from their splendid positions. There was nothing for
     it but to lie down and pretend to be dead, and this I did about
     5.30 A.M. till I suppose 6 P.M., the sun pouring down on me all
     the time, and not a drink of water all day, and dare not stir
     hand or foot, and expecting every instant to be my last. I
     could hear nothing but the cries, moans, and prayers of the
     wounded all round me, but I daren't so much as look up to see
     who they were. Shots and shells were going over me all day from
     the enemy and our side, and plenty of them striking within a
     yard of me--I mean bullets, not shells--and yet they never hit
     me. I believe some of the fellows went off their heads and
     walked right up to the enemy's place, singing till they dropped
     them. One youngster lying close to me said he would make a dart
     for it about 3 P.M. I tried my best to persuade him not to, but
     he would go. A couple of seconds after I could hear them
     pitting at him, and then his groans for about a minute, and
     then he was quiet. About this time the sun began to get
     fearfully hot, and I began to feel it in the legs, which are
     now very painful and swollen, besides was parched with thirst.
     Most of the wounded round me had ceased groaning by this time.
     As it began to get dark, I managed to wriggle my body through
     the shrub farther back, and after I had been at it some time,
     on looking up found myself right in front of another
     intrenchment of the enemy. They sent a few rounds at me, but
     they struck just in front and ricochetted over my head. After a
     bit, it getting darker, I got up and walked back, and there was
     nothing but dead Highlanders all over the place."

Can anything be more pathetic than these rough outlines of the tragic
scene where so many valiant souls sacrificed their lives without a
chance to win for themselves even the shroud of glory? Truly in this
surprisingly-fought yet disastrous battle--

    "A thousand glorious actions that might claim
    Triumphant laurels and immortal fame,
    Confused in crowds of gallant actions lie,
    And troops of heroes undistinguished lie."

Dim, as the dawn of that dire December morning, is our knowledge of the
real agony of those appalling moments, the absolute magnificence of
these human souls who were ordered to march to the grave as surely as
was the Light Brigade at Balaclava. For though Balaclava was a scene of
triumph and Majesfontein was one of misery, both brigades started
gloriously forth, and both were martyrs to a mistake. If ever monument
should be erected to the brave Scottish dead who were sacrificed at
Majesfontein, these four words should be carved thereon, that all who
hereafter may read of their high failure may remember also, that this
failure was entirely due to the tragic fact that "Some one had
blundered."

The picture of disaster given by the _Daily News_ was heart-breaking:--

     "General Wauchope was down, riddled with bullets; yet gasping,
     dying, bleeding from every vein, the Highland chieftain raised
     himself on his hands and knees and cheered his men forward. Men
     and officers fell in heaps together. The Black Watch charged,
     and the Gordons and the Seaforths, with a yell that stirred the
     British camp below, rushed onward--onward to death or disaster.
     The accursed wires caught them round the legs until they
     floundered, like trapped wolves, and all the time the rifles of
     the foe sang the song of death in their ears. Then they fell
     back, broken and beaten, leaving nearly 1300 dead and wounded."

Yes; dead and wounded--for many of the latter even remained there till
morning. Among these was poor young Wauchope, the soul of gallantry. He
was hit in four places, and lay for hours in the bitterly cold night
glued to the ground in his own gore. He was not picked up till dawn. But
gruesome as was his position, he was in the company of heroes. Round and
about were the most splendid fellows that had ever worn kilt; Colonel
Coode, and brave brilliant MacFarlan, the Adjutant of the Black Watch,
who, times and again, rallied not only his men, but any stragglers who
could be got to follow his dauntless lead. And beyond all these, close
in the teeth of the enemy, was the glorious General, the intrepid
warrior, who, after distinguishing himself in many battlefields, in the
shambles of Majesfontein "foremost fighting fell."

No word, no lament, can sufficiently express the mourning of the nation.
Of him only can we say, as was said of Sir John Moore at Coruna, "If
glory be a distinction, for such a man death is not a leveller!" Neither
for such a man is there any death! Though his dust may mingle with the
dust of the veldt, his actions must stand out for all time, and remind
his countrymen that of such glorious, immemorial dust the British Empire
has been built!

General Wauchope was born in 1846, and entered the army in
1865; was Lieutenant in 1867, Captain in 1878, Major in 1884,
Brevet-Lieutenant-Colonel the same year, Colonel in 1888, and
Major-General in 1898. He served in the Ashanti War in 1873, was
slightly wounded in the advance-guard engagement of Jarbinbah, and
severely wounded at the battle of Ordashu. He was mentioned in
despatches, and was awarded the medal and clasp.

In the Egyptian War of 1882 he served with the Black Watch, and took
part in the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, receiving medal with clasp and the
Khedive's Star. Two years later he was in the Soudan Expedition under
Sir Gerald Graham as D.A.A.G., and was severely wounded at El Teb,
receiving the brevet rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and two clasps for his
bravery. In the Nile Expedition of 1884-85 Colonel Wauchope was attached
to Major-General Earle's river column, and in the engagement of Kerbekan
was again wounded--this time very severely. At the conclusion of the
campaign he was awarded two clasps. In 1898 he took part in the Soudan
Expedition under Lord Kitchener, and led the first British brigade into
action at the battle of Omdurman. For his services he was made
Major-General, was awarded the medal and the Khedive's medal with
clasps, and received the thanks of Parliament. When the present war in
South Africa began, he was appointed to command the Highland Brigade of
Lord Methuen's column.

In the political sphere Major-General Wauchope distinguished himself
also, though he never entered Parliament. He was, however, Mr.
Gladstone's opponent in the re-election for Midlothian in 1892. It was a
fight which excited the keenest interest all over Great Britain, and was
conducted by Colonel Wauchope with untiring energy. The result was that
he reduced the Radical majority from the 4631 of the previous election
(of 1885) to 690. He would probably have been returned in 1895, but he
was then once more on the active list of the army. In June 1898 he
contested South Edinburgh, but lost by a Liberal majority of 831. The
news of his death caused a feeling of great distress in the Scottish
capital, and the sorrow among his tenantry in Midlothian was intense.

The following is the list of officers killed and wounded:--

     Highland Brigade (Staff)--Killed: Major-General Wauchope.
     Seriously wounded: Lieutenant Macleod (West Riding Regiment).
     Wounded: Lieutenant Wauchope (2nd Royal Highlanders),
     Lieutenant Vaughan (1st York and Lancaster Regiment), slightly.
     2nd Royal Highlanders--Killed: Lieut.-Colonel Coode,[9] Captain
     Elton, Lieutenant Edmonds, Captain Hon. Cumming Bruce, Captain
     MacFarlan, Lieutenant Ramsay. Wounded: Major Cuthbertson,
     Captain Cameron, Lieutenant St. J. Harvey, Lieutenant Berthon,
     Lieutenant Tait, Second Lieutenant Bullock, Second Lieutenant
     Drummond, Second Lieutenant Innes. Slightly wounded: Major
     Duff, Major Berkeley, Lieutenant J. Harvey. 2nd Seaforth
     Highlanders--Killed: Captain J. R. Clark, Lieutenant Cox,
     Second Lieutenant Cowie, Captain Brodie. Missing: Major K. R.
     Mackenzie. Wounded: Captain Featherstonhaugh, Lieutenant
     Chamley, Second Lieutenant Waterhouse (dangerously), Second
     Lieutenant Hall, Second Lieutenant Wilson, Second Lieutenant
     Clive, Second Lieutenant Baillie. 1st Highland Light
     Infantry--Killed: Captain Cowan, Captain Lambton. Wounded:
     Lieut.-Colonel Kelham (slightly), Captain Noyes (severely),
     Captain Wolfe Murray (slightly), Captain Richardson, Second
     Lieutenant A. J. Martin, Second Lieutenant Knight, Second
     Lieutenant Fraser, 1st Argyll and Sutherland
     Highlanders--Killed: Lieut.-Colonel Goff.[10] Wounded: Major
     Robinson (since died), Lieutenant Graham, Second Lieutenant
     King, Second Lieutenant Scott (seriously), Captain Campbell
     (slightly). 1st Gordon Highlanders-of wounds: Captain Wingate.
     Dangerously wounded: Lieut.-Colonel Downman,[11] Captain W. E.
     Gordon, Second Lieutenant Campbell. Seriously
     wounded: Captain Macnab. Guards Brigade.--1st Coldstream
     Guards--Wounded: Lieut.-Colonel Codrington, Major Hon. W.
     Lambton, Captain J. Sterling, Second Lieutenant W. Beckwith,
     Second Lieutenant G. Follett. 2nd Coldstream Guards--Killed:
     Major the Marquis of Winchester.[12] Cavalry Brigade
     (Staff)--Wounded: Captain Briggs (1st Dragoon Guards),
     Brigade-Major. Mounted Infantry--Killed: Major Milton, Major
     Ray (1st Northumberland Fusiliers). Wounded: Lieut.-Colonel
     Bigron (Australian Artillery) (attached), and Lieutenant Cowie.
     Royal Horse Artillery--Wounded: Lieutenant Tudor (G Battery)
     and Major Maberley. Royal Army Medical Corps--Wounded:
     Lieutenant Douglas. Taken prisoner: Major C. H. Burtchaell.

FOOTNOTES:

[9] Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Collier Coode, of the 2nd Battalion
Royal Highlanders (Black Watch), entered the army in 1875, obtained his
company in 1882, was major in 1890, and lieutenant-colonel in June 1898.
From 1884 to 1889 he was an adjutant of the Auxiliary Forces, but until
the present campaign had seen no active service.

[10] Lieutenant-Colonel Gerald Lionel Joseph Goff, of the 1st Argyll and
Sutherland Highlanders, was the eldest surviving son of the late Mr.
Joseph Goff, of Burton Grange, Herts, by his marriage with Lady Adelaide
Henrietta Louise Hortense, a daughter of the second Earl of Ranfurly. He
was born on March 8, 1855, and entered the army on March 10, 1875, from
the Militia, being posted as a lieutenant to the 91st Foot (now the Argyll
and Sutherland Highlanders). He obtained his company on July 1, 1884, and
was adjutant of the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the North Staffordshire
Regiment from January 2, 1888, to January 1, 1893. He reached the rank of
major on September 21, 1892, and that of lieutenant-colonel on July 23,
1898. This was not his first service in South Africa, he having taken part
with the 91st Highlanders in the Zulu war of 1879, when he was present at
the action of Gingindhlovu and the relief of Ekowe, for which he had the
medal with clasp. He was a magistrate for Hants and Wilts, and resided at
Hale Park, Salisbury. He married in 1894 Ellen, the youngest daughter of
Sir Robert Dundas, of Arniston, Midlothian, who survives him.

[11] Lieutenant-Colonel George Thomas Frederick Downman, of the 1st
Battalion Gordon Highlanders, who subsequently died of wounds received in
this battle, joined the army twenty-three years ago, became captain in
1883, and major in 1891. In 1896 he was appointed second in command of his
regiment, and received a brevet lieutenant-colonelcy in May 1898. He first
saw service in the Soudan campaign of 1884, and was present at El Teb and
Tamai, receiving the medal with clasp and the Khedive's star. In the Nile
Expedition which followed he was with the River Column under Major-General
Earle, and was awarded a clasp. In 1895 he was with his regiment in
Chitral under Sir Robert Low, and took part in the storming of the
Malakand Pass, being mentioned in despatches and receiving the medal with
clasp. Then in 1897-98 he went with his battalion to the North-West
Frontier under Sir William Lockhart and was present in the engagement at
Dargai and at the subsequent storming of the Dargai heights, being
mentioned again in despatches. He was present also at the capture of the
Sampagha and Arhanga Passes, and went through the succeeding operations in
the Maidan, Waran, and Bara Valleys. His name was mentioned also in these
despatches, and his services secured for him, besides his brevet of
lieutenant-colonel, two clasps. He was forty-four years of age, and was
gazetted to the lieutenant-colonelcy of his regiment in July 1899.

[12] Augustus John Henry Beaumont Paulet, Marquis of Winchester, Premier
Marquis of England and the fifteenth bearer of the title, was born in
1858, and succeeded his father in 1887. Educated at Eton, he entered the
Coldstream Guards in 1879, was lieutenant in 1881, captain in 1890, and
received his majority in April 1897. He served in the expedition to the
Soudan in 1885 as aide-de-camp to Sir John M'Neill, and was present in the
engagements at Hasheen and the Tofreck Zereba, and at the destruction of
Tamai, receiving the medal with two clasps and Khedive's star. He went out
to the Cape with his regiment in the _Gascon_, arriving there just a month
ago. It was only on the previous Saturday that his appointment as second
in command of the regiment was notified, the vacancy having been caused by
the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Stopford at the battle of Belmont. Lord
Winchester was the hereditary bearer of the Cap of Maintenance--a cap of
dignity carried before the Sovereigns of England at their coronation. He
was a D.L. for the county of Southampton, was unmarried, and is succeeded
by his brother, Lord Henry William Montagu Paulet, formerly a lieutenant
of the 3rd Battalion Hampshire Regiment, who has just attained his 37th
year.



                               CHAPTER VI

                             CHIEVELEY CAMP


Deeply to be deplored, yet generally recognised, was the fact that so
far, no decisive defeat had been inflicted on the Boers. We had fought
gloriously, sometimes successfully; great men and brave had written
their names in blood on the roll of heroes and had passed away, but
nothing decisive had been done. It was true that the enemy had been
routed time after time, but he had got away without chastisement, and in
most cases with his guns. The main reason for his safe flight was our
lack of cavalry, and also the fact, that such horses as we had were not
of the same nimble build as those--inferior, yet smart--which were
possessed by the Boers. These, thoroughly acclimatised and also educated
to the curious nature of the boulder-strewn country, were able to career
into space before our heavier chargers could get even with them.

Lord Methuen had fought three glorious battles successfully, and a
fourth, equally glorious though productive of no result, insomuch as the
distance of his troops from Kimberley remained the same, while their
numbers were very materially attenuated. It was reasonably to be
supposed that a general who had come victoriously through three
engagements--all accomplished within a week--should, in a measure, have
exhausted some of his fighting material, and that such unequalled feats
of arms as had been displayed must be paid for. The morale and stamina
of the troops had been tried in every way. They had faced shot and shell
at Belmont, at Enslin, and at Modder River. They had marched many miles
under a torrid sun and slept many nights exposed to contrasting cold.
Yet, at Majesfontein they had risen to the occasion, and flung
themselves into the hurlyburly of battle as though a hint of fatigue
were unknown. And their ill-success, it was discovered, was mainly due
to treachery, against which it was almost impossible to be entirely
guarded.

The one compliment that can be paid to a Boer is to call him "slim" or
sly, and this slimness in warfare has helped the foe to circumvent the
broader and more open tactics of the Briton. There was, indeed, no
knowing how far or how ingeniously the ramifications of "slimness" had
extended, and, to be even with them at all, our warriors have needed to
add to the courage of lions the astuteness of weasels! Some of the Cape
Dutch had worked surreptitiously for the foe, others affected an
attitude of neutrality, more dangerous than open antagonism; while
Kaffirs, either from fear of being made biltong of, or for bribes, had
lent themselves to delude and trick the British on more than one
occasion. However, notwithstanding impediments, every one waited
anxiously to hear a decisive note in the war news, and continued to hope
for the best. Lord Methuen having done his part, all eyes were now
turned towards the Natal force and Sir Redvers Buller, in expectation of
relief. In England the tension was becoming painful; in the Cape it was
causing colourless loyalty to become tinged with doubt; in the besieged
towns it was bringing patience to the snapping-point. In effect, the
whole nation was standing with bated breath for the great, the important
stroke, and the entire world looked to Colenso, that hitherto unknown
spot in the Empire, for one of the biggest battles of the campaign.


                         THE BATTLE OF COLENSO

On Friday the 15th December the Ladysmith relief column under Sir
Redvers Buller attacked the enemy in full force. The Dutchmen held very
strong positions north of Colenso, their camps and laagers being linked
with those surrounding the southern side of Ladysmith, while to the
south of the river they also held a formidable and commanding post.
About three miles in front was an open plain, with hardly a vestige of
cover in any direction. All around was a crescent-shaped constellation
of high kopjes. The great hill of Hlangwane, on the left flank of the
enemy, though it was not known at the onset, was strongly fortified, and
_vis-à-vis_ to the Hlangwane guns on the extreme right were posted more
guns. Between these two eminences was the plain aforesaid, veined with
dongas which reached to the terribly steep banks of the river, where
were more intrenchments. From Fort Wylie, another of the fortified
kopjes, the Boers commanded the little village of Colenso and the
expanse of country through which Sir Redvers Buller proposed to advance
to Ladysmith. The Tugela, wide and deep, ran between the foes, except on
the left of the Doer position, where the Dutchmen held both banks of the
river.

Upon their defensive works the Boers had spent a vast amount of labour.
Besides rows of trenches cunningly concealed by grass and scrub upon the
flats on both sides of the river, barbed wire entanglements complicated
the situation both at the trenches and under the water at the river
fords. The water of the river was also deepened by means of
cleverly-made dams, in order that any troops which might endeavour to
ford the current would find themselves carried off their feet.

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF COLENSO--QUEEN'S (ROYAL WEST SURREY)
REGIMENT LEADING THE CENTRAL ATTACK.

Drawing by J. Finnemore, R.I.]

But, of course, the intricacy of these ingenious arrangements was only
discovered at the cost of bitter experience. Later on, a great deal of
after-the-event wisdom was forthcoming, and the ignorance of all
concerned regarding the nature of the position to be attacked was
severely commented upon. It was said that no satisfactory reconnaissance
of the enemy's position was made, and that accurate knowledge of the
nature of the ground to be passed over was not forthcoming. It was also
averred that neither subordinate officers nor men were informed of what
was expected of them, and that the only maps supplied to regimental
officers were small-scale maps of the whole of South Africa, forty miles
to the inch. However, it is clear that General Buller fully believed in
his ability to force the passage of the Tugela, and viewed the position,
though formidable, as less formidable than it really was. From all
accounts it was plain that all the generals believed the village of
Colenso to be evacuated, and none of them seemed to foresee very
powerful opposition from that quarter or to take into account the
exceeding rapidity with which the Boers managed to return to positions
temporarily vacated.

Selections from the general orders of the day will show the proposed
plan of action, and help to an understanding of how much one side may
propose and the other dispose in a modern campaign:--

                            GENERAL ORDERS.

     "Orders of Lieutenant-General Sir Francis Clery, commanding the
     South Natal field forces.

                              "CHIEVELEY, _Dec. 14, 1899_ (10 P.M.).

     "1. The enemy is intrenched in the kopjes north of the Tugela;
     one large camp is reported to be near the Ladysmith road, about
     five miles north-west of Colenso. Another large camp is
     reported in the hills which lie off the Tugela in a northerly
     direction from Hlangwane Hill, a rough scrub-covered kopje.

     "2. It is the intention of the General Officer Commanding to
     force a passage of the Tugela to-morrow.

     "3. The 5th Brigade (Major-General Hart's) will move from its
     present camp at 4.30 A.M. and march towards Bridle Drift (a
     ford about four miles west of Colenso), immediately west of the
     junction of Doornkop Spruit and the Tugela. The brigade will
     cross at this point, and after crossing move along on the left
     bank of the river towards the kopjes north of the iron bridge.

     "4. The 2nd Brigade (Major-General Hildyard's) will move from
     its present camping-ground at 4 A.M., and, passing south of the
     present camping-ground of No. 1 and No. 2 of the divisional
     troops, will march in the direction of the iron bridge at
     Colenso, and the brigade will cross at this point and gain
     possession of the kopjes north of the iron bridge.

     "5. The 4th Brigade (Major-General the Hon. N. G. Lyttelton's)
     will advance at 4.30 A.M. to the point between Bridle Drift
     and the railway south, and can support either the 5th or the
     2nd Brigade.

     "6. The 6th Brigade (Major-General Barton's), less half a
     battalion as escort to the baggage, will move at 4 A.M. east of
     the railway in the direction of Hlangwane Hill to a position
     where it can protect the right flank of the 2nd Brigade, and,
     if necessary, support it or the mounted troops referred to
     later as moving towards Hlangwane Hill.

     "7. The officer commanding the mounted brigade (the Earl of
     Dundonald) will move, at 4 A.M. with a force of 1000 men and
     one battery, No. 1 brigade division, in the direction of
     Hlangwane Hill. He will cover the right flank of the general
     movement, and will endeavour to take up a position on Hlangwane
     Hill, where he will enfilade the kopjes north of the iron
     bridge. The officer commanding the mounted troops will also
     detail two forces of 300 and 500 men, to cover the right and
     left flanks respectively and protect the baggage.

     "8. The Second Brigade Division of the Royal Field Artillery
     will move, at 4.30 A.M., following the Fourth Brigade, and will
     take up a position whence it can enfilade the kopjes north of
     the iron bridge. The Sixth Brigade (Major-General Barton's)
     will act on any orders it receives from Major-General Hart. The
     six Naval guns, twelve-pounders, now in position north of the
     Fourth Brigade, will advance on the right of the Second Brigade
     Division Royal Field Artillery. No. 1 Division Royal Field
     Artillery, less one battery detached to the mounted brigade,
     will move at 3.30 A.M. east of the railway, and proceed, under
     cover of the Sixth Brigade, to a point from which it can
     prepare a crossing for the Second Brigade. The six Naval guns
     will accompany and act with the Brigade Division."

It must be remembered that the railway bridge had been blown up, but a
footbridge still existed.

[Illustration: SKETCH PLAN OF BATTLE OF COLENSO, MADE ON THE SPOT BY A
MILITARY DRAUGHTSMAN.]

Before dawn Lord Dundonald with a mounted brigade and a battery of
artillery moved to the east, while General Hart and his brigade started
to try and cross Brindle Drift. The field-guns came next with
cavalry--the 1st Royals and 13th Hussars--to protect either flank.
Major-General Hildyard's brigade advanced to occupy the post of honour
in the centre of the theatre of war. On the right were the West Surrey
with the West Yorks in support. On the left marched the Devons with the
East Surrey in rear. At 6 A.M. the Naval Contingent opened the
proceedings. Their 12-pounders began to snort and to roar, and lyddite
whizzed and shrieked over to Grobler's Hill and in the neighbourhood of
Fort Wylie. But it whizzed and shrieked in vain. The Boers were "mum."
They were "lying low," and had determined to keep their position masked
as long as possible. They adopted the same tactics which had so
confounded us at Majesfontein. The infantry now advanced, while Colonels
Long and Hunt made haste--undue haste, as lamentable experience
proved--to come into line with their field-batteries. At this moment,
when all seemed to be going well, when Hart's, Hildyard's, and Barton's
brigades were moving to their several positions, the sudden combined
roar of Boer artillery and musketry was heard, coming not, as might
have been supposed, from the distance, but _from the immediate front_,
and apparently from all sides. A very cyclone of Mauser bullets swept
all around, rattling and barking from the river bank, from trenches
north and south of the Tugela, from Fort Wylie, and from every available
point of vantage. Flame in tongues and forks belched out as from a
crackling bush. The advancing infantry--the Devons and the West
Surrey--found themselves almost carried off their feet; leaden hail beat
the dust around, digging deep into the earth and sending up spurts of
blinding dust, or whistling a warning of death to the heart of many an
honest lad and true. So deadly, so awful was this fusillade, that it
seemed impossible to do aught but flee. Yet the gunners stood tight to
their guns, and the infantry with set faces like masks of bronze,
regardless of the companions that dropped thick and fast around and upon
them, stared Death straight in the face--stared at and recognised and
knew him, and still maintained their ground! More--they advanced; nearer
and ever nearer to the invisible enemy they came, afterwards lying down
and returning the fire with interest, while the guns of Long's and
Hunt's field-batteries boomed and bellowed and vomited fire like Inferno
released. Fort Wylie and its neighbourhood were swept with shrapnel and
almost silenced, but only for a moment. Disaster was in the air. The
concealed sharpshooters of the enemy, who crowded the Boer lines, had
applied themselves to making a concentrated attack on the guns, picking
off horses and officers and men, and finally reducing the snorting
weapons which had been galloped too quickly into action, and were within
700 yards of the enemy's trenches, to a condition of pitiable impotence.
Only the third field-battery and the Naval battery could move, and these
were quickly drawn off to a place of safety. Amidst this scene of
tragedy and uproar the Devons and West Surrey were steadily pursuing
their way with a heroism that absolutely defies description. The enemy
was driven out of the platelayers' and surrounding houses, and Colenso
village was cleared. What the guns failed to do the bayonet
accomplished, and before the glint of the steel--the cold, stern steel
they so much dread--the Boers had bolted. But all around them Krupps and
Maxims and Hotchkiss guns were still working hard, spouting and
shrieking, and tearing earth and men and horses, and throwing them
together in one horrible, hideous heap.

Certainly the advance of Hildyard's men was a noble achievement. Their
effort to capture the road bridge and hold the village of Colenso in
face of a scene of carnage was an act of splendid courage and
determination; but they were assailed with so deadly a storm of shot and
shell that they had no choice but to retire. Though they had imagined
the village to be evacuated, the place had been swarming with Boers,
they evidently having expected to be attacked in this quarter. Not only
were they strongly intrenched, but the guns on the surrounding hills
commanded the position, and when the Boers were temporarily routed the
guns still continued to sweep the whole place with such unerring
accuracy and fierceness that the ground was thickly strewn with the
bodies of the mangled. Until those guns could be silenced, efforts of
the infantry were so much waste of valiant flesh and blood; but our
power to silence them was at an end. The guns of the 14th and 66th
Batteries were doomed. They had, as before said, been approached too
close to the river, and thus been exposed to the unerring rifle-fire of
the Boer mercenaries. The attack was immediately returned, but before
long the whole party, officers, gunners, and horses, were simply mown
down. As fast as more horses were brought up they were annihilated. In
addition to this the gunners ran short of ammunition. To await the
arrival of this, such survivors as there were doubled back to the
shelter of a donga twenty yards in their rear. At that time there was
no intention of abandoning the guns. Superb were the efforts made to
save them. Three officers rushed forward into the open, and, with some
heroic drivers and such horses as they could get, made their way very
deliberately towards the two field-batteries and into the mouth of a
flaming hell. These were Captain Schofield, R.A. (A.D.C. to General
Buller), Captain the Hon. F. Roberts, 60th Rifles, and Captain Congreve,
Rifle Brigade. This glorious bravery was almost an act of suicide, and
in sheer amazement at the wondrous valour of these dauntless Britons,
the Boer rifle-fire, for one instant, was suspended. In the next, shot
and shell burst forth afresh and the scene became too harrowing for
description. Roberts, the gallant and the beloved, dropped, wounded in
five places, while his horse was blown to bits, and Congreve, his jacket
riddled to ribbons, was hit several times. Schofield, by a miracle, came
whole from the ordeal, and succeeded in the almost impossible task of
hauling off the two guns, for which all three and many others had risked
their lives. The rest of the guns were captured by the enemy, but of
this anon.

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF COLENSO--THE DUBLIN FUSILIERS ATTEMPT TO
FORD THE TUGELA.

Drawing by Rene Bull and Enoch Ward, R.B.A.]

Major-General Hart's Brigade, consisting of the Dublins, Inniskillings,
Borderers, and Connaughts, fulfilled in a measure what was expected of
them. Some of them actually crossed the Tugela, but, alas! to no
purpose. The position near the other side was untenable. A dam had been
thrown across the water to deepen it. Cascades of artillery shrapnel
were so liberally poured upon them, there was no holding up a head in
such a fusillade. Yet they pushed on to the river, and the enemy fell
back before them or dropped under their steady determined fire. The
Dutchmen were driven to the north bank of the Tugela, and the Irish
Brigade gallantly plunged in, thinking the water was knee-deep or at
least fordable, and it was only then that they discovered that the wire
entanglements that had been spread around the trenches were also under
water, and that the flood itself was unexpectedly deep, owing to the
ingenious dam that had been constructed by the "slim" adversary. There
were now ten feet of water instead of two, and sad was the plight of
many a poor fellow of the Dublins and Connaughts, who, weighted with
ammunition and accoutrements, found it impossible to swim to shore or
even to return. They were drowned in the flood, while others dropped in
heaps under the enemy's fire, and even under volleys of our own men,
who, unluckily, mistook them for the foe. But the Irishmen's blood was
up, and some, at any cost, determined to reach the other side to get one
grip of the enemy, but what many of them thought to be the other bank
was merely the bank of a winding spruit, which took them no farther
towards the foe. The disappointment and rage was intense. Boom, boom,
went the cannons roaring their dirge of death; bang, bang, bellowed the
Naval battery in reply; rattling and raking came the bullets above the
heads of the plunging Irishmen; splash, splash, sang the cold muddy
water in their ears as they scrambled from rock to stone or swam for
dear life. All that gallantry could do was done, but there was no
appreciable advance with them, or indeed anywhere--ill-luck or bad
management frustrated the best efforts on every hand. Men fell in heaps;
horses with half their bodies blown away littered the veldt; the guns
were stuck fast--useless lumber, too valuable to leave, too heavy to get
away. Some say that had it not been for the action of the artillery
commander in taking a whole brigade division--three batteries--up at a
gallop to within 700 yards of the enemy's trenches, the day might still
have been ours. The valiant Irishmen would still have pursued their
risky advance. Others declared that the want of proper scouting caused
the whole fiasco, and that all the pluck of the Irish Brigade was so
much heroism wasted. They had no information relative to the
intrenchments of the place to be attacked by them, nor any conception of
the strength of the opposition they were liable to meet. No scouts
appear to have discovered the position of the ford by which they were
ordered to cross, or the nearness of the enemy to that point, and
consequently the brigade marched in quarter-column into the very jaws of
death, only deploying when shells had already begun to burst in their
midst. Like the guns of the Royal Artillery, they found themselves
before they were prepared in the midst of a close and deadly
fusillade--the more deadly and unnerving because on the clearest of days
not a whiff of smoke betrayed the quarters from whence the murderous
assaults were coming.

[Illustration: MAP SHOWING THE ATTEMPTED PASSAGE OF THE RIVER BY GENERAL
BULLER ON DECEMBER 15.]

General Barton's brigade, like Hart's and Hildyard's, failed to effect
its object. It was found impossible to obtain possession of Hlangwane
Hill, which was much more strongly held than it was believed to be. The
troops were assailed from thence by such galling shell and rifle fire
that they were eventually forced to retire.

On the extreme right, the mounted troops, under Lord Dundonald, made a
vigorous attack at the Hlangwane Hill, on which was posted the Boer
pieces which had wrought such devastation among the British batteries.
However, in advancing up the valley, they were outflanked by the Boers,
and had eventually to retire under a storm of bullets. The irregulars,
for their part, worked splendidly. The South African Horse advanced on
the front under a heavy shell fire. Thorneycroft's Horse, the Natal
Carabineers, the Imperial Light Horse, and the Mounted Infantry at the
same time attempted the flanking attack; but the Boer lines, which ran
along some high ground to the right of the flanking party, defeated
their best efforts. Owing to the bad light, and to the fact that the
Boers used smokeless powder, their fire failed to reveal their position,
and the discomfort of the attacking party was considerable.

Meanwhile the 7th Battery, which was with Lord Dundonald, kept shelling
Hlangwane and Fort Wylie in turns, the latter being done in order to
assist the general advance. About noon Lord Dundonald was ordered to
retire. This, however, was immediately impossible. So soon as the men
began to move they became targets for the foe. Many of the men were
reluctant to retire at all, and were pressing in their desire to still
"have a go" at the enemy. The retirement at last, after a two hours'
struggle, was accomplished without undue loss. The 7th Battery, under
command of Major Henshaw, made splendid practice. During the engagement
Lord Dundonald sent a team of gun and waggon horses, under Captain Reed,
to assist the 14th and 66th Batteries to recover their guns. Captain
Reed returned to the 7th Battery, and though he came back with a bullet
in his leg, he insisted on remaining with it until he was ordered back
to camp.

Generals Buller and Clery were ubiquitous, riding coolly about and
directing where the hurricane of lead was thickest, and running risks
which rendered all who saw them anxious for their safety. Indeed, as
some one remarked, one would have thought they were lieutenants trying
to make a name, and not generals with the responsibility of an army on
their minds. The loss of either of these prominent officers would have
been counted by the Boers as a sign of victory, and therefore, when one
was hit in the side and another in the arm by glancing bullets, there
was considerable alarm among those who were near enough to observe what
had taken place. Captain Hughes, R.A.M.C., was killed, and others of the
Staff were wounded. Lord Gerard twice had narrow escapes, his horse
being twice wounded.

A squadron of the Imperial Horse had an exciting experience. The men,
who had dismounted to move in extended order across level country, were
beginning to cross a ploughed field. Suddenly a rifle volley was opened
upon them, and they were forced to lie down for cover. But the enemy,
though on a kopje not 500 yards distant at this time, was quite
invisible; and on this clear, hot day, though the song of the Mauser
went on persistently, there was no smoke to betray the enemy's position.
The Imperial Horse lay quiet, and the enemy thinking they were perhaps
annihilated ceased firing. Presently, however, when the troopers
ventured out, the firing was renewed, and many were killed and wounded.
It is invidious to mention special regiments when all fought so
resolutely. The behaviour of the irregular forces, however, was the
subject of general remark. They held their position under a heavy
cross-fire, refusing to retire without their wounded. And when they did
retire, the movement was executed without flurry, with precision and
composure, as if the battlefield were one vast manoeuvring ground.
Meanwhile the Boers still struggled to outflank our right, and the 13th
Hussars had a lively time, Colonel Blagrove having his charger shot
under him; but there were few serious calamities, only two of the
troopers being killed.

Many instances of heroism were recorded on the part of men and officers
belonging to all the regiments engaged in the battle. Lieutenant
Ponsonby, of Thorneycroft's Horse, while endeavouring to save a wounded
man, was fired at, the shot striking his unhappy burden and mortally
wounding him. The young officer was slightly wounded himself, but
managed to escape after shooting his assailant dead at very close
quarters. The conduct of the Dublins was the subject of universal
praise. They lost heavily; some 216 out of 900 men. When ordered to
retire, although the crossing of the Tugela Drift was a sufficiently
fearful experience, they were intensely disgusted. "Let us only see the
beggars!" they asked. "Give us a chance with the bayonet!" said these
gallant fellows, who had already passed through a hurricane of shot and
shell. The Scottish Fusiliers lost 75 out of 301, but they were still
ready, still bent, if allowed, upon carrying the bridge at all costs.
Their enterprise was badly rewarded. They got left in an untenable
position and were surrounded.

Captain Herbert, Staff Officer to Colonel Long, had his horse killed
under him, while the Colonel himself was severely wounded by a bullet
from a shrapnel shell. Captain White-Thomas, while on his way back to
the limbers to get blankets for the injured, received a nasty wound.
Colonel Brook (Connaught Rangers) was shot, and while being carried off
the field by some of his men, one of these was wounded. The Colonel
insisted on being put down, but Pat also insisted that he was equal to
carrying his burden to a place of safety, and did so, though a shot had
pierced his neck and passed clean out on the other side.

So many valiant deeds were performed that space will not admit of all
being recounted. The irregulars and regulars seemed determined to
out-distance each other in feats of chivalry. Private Farmer, of the
Carabineers, struggled to save a comrade at the risk of his own life.
Colour-Sergeant Byrne, in a storm of bullets, gallantly saved three of
his comrades who were drowning, though he and they were heavily weighted
with ammunition and equipment. Major Gordon, wounded as he was, fiercely
and nobly led on his men till he dropped from exhaustion. The conduct of
some of the drivers was simply amazing, and their daring was repeated
and reflected in the achievements of the infantry. Quite wonderful was
the bearing of these men, mere private soldiers, in their magnificent
nobility of sacrifice, their utter regardlessness of self. Each strove
to set an example to the other of steadfast, almost reckless devotion to
duty.

The circumstances attending the capture of the guns were deeply tragic.
Late in the terrible afternoon, when the red sun was sending horizontal
rays across the blood-dyed field, a strong party of Boers swam the river
for the purpose of seizing the guns and forcing the wounded, who were
huddled together in the donga, to surrender. It was a fearful moment.
Our worn-out, fainting, and dying men were lying about drenched in their
own gore, helpless, and none could move to save the precious guns from
falling into alien hands. Some raged, some wept with mortification at
their powerlessness to stay the inevitable. Three Boers approached them
for the purpose of demanding their instant surrender, and were shot at
from the donga. A larger body then arrived, and though Colonel Bullock
doggedly refused to surrender, and was struck down by their leader, they
eventually forced the party to submit. It is said--let us hope it was
mere report--that they threatened to shoot the wounded if they did not!
However, the fact was mentioned by Sir Redvers Buller, who doubtless had
been well informed on the subject.

The following is the list of casualties in the engagement at Colenso:--

     Royal Field Artillery--Killed: Captain A. H. Goldie, Lieutenant
     C. B. Schreiber. Royal Dublin Fusiliers--Killed: Captain A. H.
     Bacon, Lieutenant P. C. Henry. Royal Inniskilling
     Fusiliers--Killed: Captain Frank C. Loftus. Devon
     Regiment--Wounded: Captain M. J. Goodwyn (b), Captain J. F.
     Radcliffe (b), Captain P. U. W. Vigor (c), Lieutenant H. B. W.
     Gardiner (c), Second Lieutenant H. J. Storey (c). Rifle
     Brigade--Wounded: Second Lieutenant R. G. Graham (b), Captain
     W. N. Congreve (c). Fifth Brigade Staff--Wounded: Captain Hon.
     St. Leger Jervis (b). Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers--Died of
     wounds: Major G. F. W. Charley. Wounded: Captain A. G.
     Hancocks (a), Captain W. F. Hessey (b), Captain E. J. Buckley
     (b), Lieutenant H. A. Leverson (b), Second Lieutenant T. W.
     Whiffen (b), Lieutenant A. D. Best (b), Lieutenant W. W. Weldon
     (c), Lieutenant J. G. Devenish (b). Border Regiment--Wounded:
     Major K. H. G. Heygate (b), Captain J. E. S. Probyn (c),
     Lieutenant G. T. Marsh (b). Connaught Rangers--Wounded: Colonel
     L. G. Brooke (a), Lieutenant G. F. Brooke (a). Royal Dublin
     Fusiliers.--Wounded: Major A. W. Gordon (b), Captain H. M.
     Stewan (b), Second Lieutenant M'Leod (b). Royal Irish
     Fusiliers--Wounded: Captain T. E. R. Brush (b). Royal Horse
     Artillery--Wounded: Colonel Long (a). Royal Field
     Artillery--Wounded: Lieut.-Colonel H. Hunt (c), Captain H. D.
     White-Thomson (c), Captain H. L. Reed (c), Captain F. A. G.
     Elton (b). Lieutenant Frank Goodson (c). Royal Army Medical
     Corps--Killed: Captain M. C. Hughes. Wounded: Major F. A.
     Bracington (? Brannigan) (c). Thorneycroft's Mounted
     Infantry--Killed: Lieutenant C. M. Jenkins. Wounded:
     Lieutenant W. Otto (b), Lieutenant Ponsonby (c), Second
     Lieutenant Holford, 19th Hussars (attached) (a). Natal
     Carabiniers--Wounded: D. W. Mackay (b), Lieutenant R. W. Wilson
     (c). South African Light Horse--Wounded: Lieutenant B. Banhurst
     (b), Lieutenant J. W. Cock (c). King's Royal Rifles--Wounded:
     Lieutenant Hon. F. H. S. Roberts (since died). Field
     Artillery--Prisoners: Second Lieutenant R. W. St. L. Gethin,
     Major A. L. Bailward, Lieutenant A. C. Birch, Second Lieutenant
     C. D. Holford, Major W. Y. Foster. Devon Regiment--Prisoners:
     Lieut.-Colonel G. Bullock, J. M'N. Walter, Lieutenant S. N. F.
     Smyth-Osbourne. Essex Regiment--Prisoner: Lieutenant W. F.
     Bonham. Royal Scots Fusiliers--Prisoners: Captain D. H. A.
     Dick, Captain H. H. Northy, Lieutenant E. Christian, Lieutenant
     E. F. H. Rumbold, Lieutenant M. E. M'Conaghey, Second
     Lieutenant G. E. Briggs. Royal Artillery--Missing: Lieutenant
     S. T. Butler. Connaught Rangers--Missing: Captain G. H.
     Ford-Hutchison, Second Lieutenant E. V. Jones.

     (a) dangerously wounded; (b) seriously; (c) slightly.

Our losses were 1167 all told. Killed, 5 officers and 160 men; wounded,
36 officers and 634 men; missing and prisoners, 26 officers and 311
men--a terrible list for one day's work.

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF COLENSO--THE LAST DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO SAVE
THE GUNS OF THE 14th and 66th BATTERIES.

Drawing by Sidney Paget.]

Sad to state, our ambulances were designedly fired upon. Five shells
fell in the neighbourhood of a waggon packed with wounded, and one party
of ambulance men was forced twice to abandon their work of succour. The
tents of the field-hospitals were no sooner erected than shells fell all
round them, and the men were forced to desist from their labours. The
heroic conduct of the civilian stretcher-bearers was generally the
subject of remark. These men, though fired at by the enemy and injured,
continued zealously to carry on their humane work, and assisted in
saving many lives which might otherwise have been sacrificed. The force
of the enemy opposed to us was estimated at 12,000 to 14,000. From a
tactical standpoint the Boers had overwhelming advantages. Their numbers
were immense, and the dangerous high-banked river, which they themselves
had carefully dammed and filled with wire entanglements, made a
formidable shield for the defensive party. In addition to this, they
had constructed long, highly scientifically-arranged trenches, along
which their Nordenfeldt gun could quickly travel, and thus defy any
attempt of our gunners to get the range. Still the Naval guns were
wonderfully worked, and wrought considerable havoc among the Boers in
the over-hanging kopjes. Though their loss could not be accurately
estimated, it was declared to be about 2000. The trenches were said to
be choked with dead Dutchmen.

On the 16th of December an armistice was agreed upon, to last from noon
till midnight, to enable both sides to collect and bury their dead.

The following "recommendations to notice" illuminated the somewhat sad
nature of the General's despatch:--

"From the General Commanding-in-Chief the Forces in South Africa
               to the Secretary of State for War.

                                  "CHIEVELEY CAMP, _Dec. 16, 1899_.

     "SIR,--I have the honour to bring the following cases of
     Distinguished Service in the Field to your notice.

     "At Colenso, on December 15, the detachments serving the guns
     of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, had all
     been either killed, wounded, or driven from their guns by
     infantry fire at close range, and the guns were deserted.

     "About 500 yards behind the guns was a donga, in which some of
     the few horses and drivers left alive were sheltered. The
     intervening space was swept with shell and rifle fire.

     "Captain Congreve, Rifle Brigade, who was in the donga,
     assisted to hook a team into a limber, went out and assisted to
     limber up a gun; being wounded, he took shelter, but seeing
     Lieutenant Roberts fall badly wounded, he went out again and
     brought him in. Some idea of the nature of the fire may be
     gathered from the fact that Captain Congreve was shot through
     the leg, through the toe of his boot, grazed on the elbow and
     the shoulder, and his horse shot in three places.

     "Lieutenant the Honourable F. Roberts, King's Royal Rifles,
     assisted Captain Congreve. He was wounded in three places.

     "Corporal Nurse, Royal Field Artillery, 66th Battery, also
     assisted. I recommend the above three for the Victoria Cross.

     "Drivers H. Taylor, Young, Petts, Rockall, Lucas, and Williams,
     all of the 66th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, rode the teams,
     each team brought in a gun. I recommend all six for the Medal
     for Distinguished Conduct in the Field.

     "Shortly afterwards Captain H. L. Reed, 7th Battery, Royal
     Field Artillery, who had heard of the difficulty, brought down
     three teams from his battery to see if he could be of any use.
     He was wounded, as were five of the thirteen men who rode with
     him; one was killed, his body was found on the field, and
     thirteen out of twenty-one horses were killed before he got
     half-way to the guns, and he was obliged to retire.

     "I recommend Captain Reed for the Victoria Cross, and the
     following non-commissioned officers and men, 7th Battery, Royal
     Field Artillery, for the Medal for Distinguished Service in the
     Field:--

     "86,208 Corporal A. Clark, wounded; 87,652 Corporal R. J.
     Money; 82,210 Acting-Bombardier J. H. Reeve; 28,286 Driver C.
     J. Woodward; 22,054 Driver Wm. Robertson, wounded; 22,061
     Driver Wm. Wright, wounded; 22,051 Driver A. C. Hawkins; 26,688
     Driver John Patrick Lennox; 22,094 Driver Albert Nugent,
     killed; 23,294 Driver James Warden; 32,087 Driver Arthur
     Felton, wounded; 83,276 Driver Thomas Musgrove; 26,523
     Trumpeter William W. Ayles, wounded.

     "I have differentiated in my recommendations, because I thought
     that a recommendation for the Victoria Cross required proof of
     initiative, something more, in fact, than mere obedience to
     orders, and for this reason I have not recommended Captain
     Schofield, Royal Artillery, who was acting under orders, though
     I desire to record his conduct as most gallant.

     "Several other gallant drivers tried, but were all killed, and
     I cannot get their names.--I have, &c.,

                                           REDVERS BULLER, General."

Appended is an account of the battle given by Captain Walter Norris
Congreve, one of the heroes of the day. It is deeply interesting, though
it makes little reference to his own gallant action for which he gained
the Victoria Cross:--

     "Our big Naval guns shelled the enemy's position off and on all
     day, but could get no response. We could see very few Boers
     about, and it was a horrid position to attack.... I don't
     believe any troops could have taken it. However, we tried
     yesterday and failed. We bombarded every place that looked like
     holding Boers for two hours, without response and without a
     sign of a Boer. To see the shells bursting, you would have
     thought nothing could have been left alive in the vicinity.
     After this, infantry, which had already got into position,
     advanced line after line and extended widely. Instantly
     thousands of bullets began pattering about, and their guns
     pitched shells all over the place. Where they came from no one
     could see till the end. Sir Redvers Buller rode all along the
     line, and came in for a good deal of attention from bullets and
     shells.

     "My first experience was my stick being knocked out of my hand
     by a bullet; then a horse beside me was killed by a shell.
     About 10 o'clock two batteries which had advanced far too close
     ran short of ammunition. Their waggons were about 800 yards
     behind, the horses and men sheltering in a deep narrow nullah.
     General Buller told them to take the waggons up to the battery,
     but instantly they emerged a stream of bullets and shells fell
     all round, and most of the men got into the nullah again.
     Generals Buller and Cleary stood out in it and said, 'Some of
     you go and help Schofield.' A.D.C. Roberts, myself, and two or
     three others went to the waggons, and we got two waggons horsed
     with the help of a corporal and six gunners. I have never seen
     even at field-firing the bullets fly thicker. All one could see
     were little tufts of dust all over the ground accompanied by a
     whistling noise, 'phut,' where they hit, and an increasing
     rattle of musketry somewhere in front.

     "My first bullet went through my left sleeve and just made the
     point of my elbow bleed. Next a clod of earth caught me a smack
     on the other arm; then my horse got one; then my right leg one,
     and my horse another. That settled us, for he plunged, and I
     fell about 100 yards short of the guns we were going to. A
     little nullah was by, and into that I hobbled and sat down. I
     had not been in a minute before another bullet hit the toe of
     my boot, went into the welt, travelled up, and came out at the
     toe-cap, two inches from the end of the toe. It did not even
     scratch me, but I shifted my quarters pretty quickly to a
     better place, where I found Colonels Hunt and Long, R.A., and a
     dozen or so wounded gunners; a doctor, Colonel Bullock, and
     about fifteen men of his regiment--all that were left of the
     escort and two batteries.

     "At about 11 o'clock the fire slackened, and I went out,
     finding poor Roberts badly wounded, and with help got him into
     the nullah. There we lay from 11 till 4.30: no water, not a
     breath of air, no particle of shade, and a sun which I have
     never felt hotter even in India. My jacket was taken to shade
     Robert's head, and what with blood and dirt I was a pretty
     object by the time I got out. At 4.30 the Boers rode up and
     asked us to surrender, or they would shoot us all. Colonel
     Bullock was the senior unwounded officer, and had, perhaps,
     twenty rifles all told. He refused, and they at once began a
     fusillade from fifty yards distant, and our people returned it.
     It was unpleasant, and only a question of minutes before they
     enfiladed our trenches and bagged the lot. Bullock's men
     knocked over two, and they then put up a white flag, parleyed,
     said we might remove our wounded, and the remainder either be
     taken prisoners or fight it out. However, while we were talking
     100 or so crept round us. We found loaded rifles at every armed
     man's head, and we were forced to give in. One of our
     ambulances came up, and we were gradually collected at one
     spot, and a colour-sergeant of the Devon Regiment carried me
     upon his back."


                            END OF VOLUME II.



                   Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
                           Edinburgh & London

[Illustration: _Facsimile of MS. of_ MR. RUDYARD KIPLING'S _War Poem_
"THE ABSENT-MINDED BEGGAR"]

[Illustration]

_The above facsimile is printed by arrangement with the Daily Mail
Publishing Co., London_

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|                        TRANSCRIBERS' NOTES                             |
|                                                                        |
|General: Errors and inconsistencies in punctuation have been corrected  |
|     without individual notes.                                          |
|Pages vi, 6, 10: Drakenberg standardised to Drakensberg.                |
|Page vii: repeated date 2 November removed.                             |
|Chart of Staff Appointments; Natal Field Force; 4th Division: Aides-    |
|     de-Camp(2) blank in original                                       |
|Chart of Staff Appointments; Staff of 1st Army Corps: Orderly           |
|     Veterinary Officer blank in original                               |
|Chart of Staff Appointments; 1st Army Corps 3rd Division; 6th Brigade:  |
|     Aide-de-Camp blank in original                                     |
|Chart of Staff Appointments; Staff of Cavalry Division: Aides-de-Camp   |
|(2)--Only one listed in original                                        |
|Page 32: rear-guard standardised to rearguard.                          |
|Pages 35, 36: Isandhlwana/Isandlwana not standardised as it is used as  |
|     part of a quotation.                                               |
|Page 37: viâ standardised to via. [N.B. other usages not standardised as|
|     part of a quotation.]                                              |
|Page 44: Blue-jackets standardised to Bluejackets.                      |
|Page 45: similarily corrected to similarly.                             |
|Page 46: Brvant corrected to Bryant.                                    |
|Page 51: fortunnately corrected to fortunately.                         |
|Pages 53, 121: Nordenfelt standardised to Nordenfeldt.                  |
|Page 82: reconnaisance corrected to reconnaissance.                     |
|Page 91: Comanding corrected to Commanding.                             |
|Pages 114, 148: debris/débris not standardised as it is used as part of |
|     a quotation.                                                       |
|Page 120: McLachlan standardised to M'Lachlan.                          |
|Page 145: comandeered corrected to commandeered.                        |
|Page 147: sandbags standardised to sand-bags.                           |
|Page 150: downhill standardised to down-hill.                           |
|Page 151: search-light standardised to searchlight.                     |
|Page 183: The quotation from Addison is actually incorrect. It should   |
|     read:                                                              |
|                                                                        |
|    "A thousand glorious actions, that might claim                      |
|    Triumphant laurels, and immortal fame,                              |
|    Confused in clouds of glorious actions lie,                         |
|    And troops of heroes undistinguished die."                          |
|                                                                        |
|Page 185 (footnote): Gingindhlovo standardised to Gingindhlovu.         |
|Page 187: Repeated 'the' removed from 'remained the the same'           |
|                                                                        |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. 2 (of 6) - From the Commencement of the War to the Battle of Colenso, - 15th Dec. 1899" ***

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