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Title: From Aldershot to Pretoria - A Story of Christian Work among Our Troops in South Africa
Author: Sellers, W. E.
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 "From Aldershot to Pretoria - A Story of Christian Work among Our Troops in South Africa" ***

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[Illustration: HIS LAST LETTER.]


A Story of Christian Work among our Troops in South Africa





Second Impression




ALDERSHOT                                                           19

OLD ENGLAND ON THE SEA                                              37

TO THE FRONT                                                        53

WITH LORD METHUEN                                                   61

MAGERSFONTEIN                                                       77

THOMAS ATKINS ON THE VELDT                                          96

WITH LORD ROBERTS                                                  105

KIMBERLEY                                                          132

WITH GATACRE'S COLUMN                                              129

BLOEMFONTEIN                                                       145

ON TO PRETORIA                                                     161

HERE AND THERE IN CAPE COLONY                                      170

WITH SIR REDVERS BULLER                                            177

LADYSMITH                                                          193

'IN JESU'S KEEPING'                                                222

List of Illustrations

HIS LAST LETTER                                         _Frontispiece_

SOLDIERS' HOMES AT ALDERSHOT                           _to face p. 17_

OFF TO SOUTH AFRICA                                    _to face p. 34_

PARADE SERVICE ON THE TUGELA                           _to face p. 53_

REV. E.P. LOWRY                                        _to face p. 84_

REV. JAMES ROBERTSON                                   _to face p. 90_

BRINGING BACK THE WOUNDED                             _to face p. 118_

MORNING SERVICE ON THE VELDT                          _to face p. 133_

SOLDIERS' HOME ON THE FIELD                           _to face p. 138_

ARUNDEL                                               _to face p. 173_

AMBULANCE WORK ON THE FIELD                           _to face p. 193_

REV. A.V.C. HORDERN                                   _to face p. 195_

ONE OF THE LADYSMITH HOSPITALS                        _to face p. 199_

REV. THOMAS MURRAY                                    _to face p. 203_



It would have been a grave omission had no attempt been made at the
earliest possible time to place on record some account of the Christian
steadfastness and heroism of the many godly men belonging to every arm
of the service engaged in the war in South Africa, and of the strenuous
work which they did for their comrades, resulting in many being won for
God, comforted when stricken on the battle-field or in hospital, and
even in death enabled to find the life that is eternal.

It would have been equally an omission had not some account been given
of the heroic devotion of the chaplains and the lay agents who have
accompanied the troops in the campaign, sharing their hardships and
ministering to them under all the trying conditions of their service.

When, therefore, I was approached by the secretaries of the Religious
Tract Society, through Rev. R.W. Allen, with a view to preparing some
such record, we both, Mr. Allen and myself, felt that the request must,
if possible, be complied with. And we felt this the more, seeing that
the whole British Force in South Africa has been placed under deep
obligation to them, and to the great Society they represent, for the
large and varied gifts of literature they have sent to our troops during
the progress of the campaign.

It was originally intended that the book should have been written
conjointly by Mr. Allen and myself; but pressure of other work has made
this impossible. I am, however, indebted to Mr. Allen for the
introductory chapter, and for the large stores of information in the way
of correspondence from the Front which he has placed at my disposal.

I am also indebted to the Rev. Dr. Theodore Marshall for information as
to the work of the Presbyterian chaplains. The Rev. E. Weaver, the
Wesleyan chaplain at Aldershot, has also rendered important help.

The book has necessarily been written somewhat hurriedly, and by no
means exhausts the history with which it deals. If, however, it has the
result of deepening the sympathy of all true lovers of their country for
our soldiers and sailors, and in increasing the interest they take in
the good work done on their behalf, and if at the same time it brings
cheer and encouragement to the men in the Army and Royal Navy who are
trying to live manly, Christian lives, the author of the book and the
great Society on whose behalf it has been written will be amply

_August_, 1900.


Chapter I


The war in South Africa has been fruitful of A many results which will
leave their mark upon the national life and character, and in which we
may wholly rejoice. Amongst them none are more admirable than the
awakening to the duty we owe to our soldiers and sailors, and the
large-hearted generosity with which the whole empire is endeavouring to
discharge it.

It is necessary to go back to the days of the Crimean War and the Indian
Mutiny to find any similar awakening. It was then that the British
people began to learn the lesson of gratitude to the men they had so
long neglected, whom they had herded in dark and miserable barracks, and
regarded as more or less the outcasts of society.

The glorious courage, the patient, unmurmuring heroism, the tenacity
not allowing defeat, which were displayed during the long and dreary
months of the siege of Sebastopol, and the ultimate triumph of our arms,
aroused the nation from its indifference, and kindled for its defenders
a warm and tender sympathy.

Following swiftly on the Crimean War came the splendid deeds of the
Indian Mutiny, when handfuls of brave men saved the empire by standing
at bay like 'the last eleven at Maiwand,' or, hurrying hither and
thither, scattered the forces which were arrayed against them. The
sympathy which the Crimean War had produced was intensified by these
events, and the duty of caring for those who thus dared to endure and to
die was still more borne in upon the heart of the nation.

=Changed Estimate of our Soldiers and Sailors.=

It came to be discovered that though the British soldier and
man-of-war's man were rough, and in some instances godless to the extent
of being obscene, vicious, and debauched, they were, to use the phrase
which Sir Alfred Milner has made historic, possessed of a 'great reserve
of goodness'; that they were capable not only of good, but of God. As it
were by fire the latent nobility of our nature was discovered, and the
fine gold, and the image and superscription of God were revealed, in
many instances to the men themselves, and in great measure to the nation
at large.

There were many circumstances which aided in this awakening, both in the
War and in the Mutiny. Among them may be reckoned the terrible hurricane
which wrecked the transports in the harbour at Balaclava, when so many
of the stores intended for the troops were destroyed; and the awful
winter which followed, with its numberless deaths in action, and by
hunger, cold, and disease. The horrors of Cawnpore, and the glorious
tragedy of Lucknow, also compelled attention to the men who were
involved in them, and to their comrades who survived.

=Their Deplorable Condition in the Past.=

Previous to these times nothing could well have been more deplorable
than the condition of the soldier or the sailor. It was on all hands
taken for granted that he was bad, and, wonderful to say, he was
provided for accordingly. His treatment was a disgrace. The
barrack-room, with its corners curtained off as married quarters, the
lash, the hideous and degrading medical inspection--samples of the
general treatment--all tended to destroy what remained of manly
self-respect and virtue. Whilst the neighbourhood of the barracks and
the naval ports, teeming with public-houses and brothels, still further
aided the degradation. The creed of the nation, or rather, the opinion
that was tacitly accepted, would be best expressed in the familiar
saying that 'the bigger the blackguard, the better the soldier.'

=Their Devotion to Duty.=

Nevertheless, amidst all these evil conditions, not only did courage and
loyalty to duty survive, but even, in many instances, a chivalrous
tenderness and devotion. There were to be found many earnest Christian
men, and the work of God went on, comrade winning comrade to Christ, so
that it was rare indeed to find a regiment or a man-of-war which had not
in it a living Church.

What, for instance, can well be more interesting or significant than the
record which tells of the men on the Victory, Lord Nelson's flag-ship at
Trafalgar, who had no need to be sworn at to be made to do their duty,
who amidst much persecution sang their hymns and prayed, and lived their
cleanly, holy lives; who attracted Lord Nelson's attention, and so won
his respect that he gave them a mess to themselves, and ordered that
they should not be interfered with in their devotions? Or than the
record of the godly sergeants of the 3rd Grenadiers at Waterloo, who
went into action praying that it might be given to them to aid in the
final overthrow of the tyrant who threatened the liberties of the world?

But returning to the Crimean War and the Mutiny, there were not wanting
even then men and women in foremost places to voice the awakening which
these created, and to give it right and wise direction.

=The Queen's Care of her Men.=

The care of the Queen for her soldiers and sailors in those early days,
which she has continued with wonderful tact and tenderness throughout
her long and glorious reign, was of untold advantage. Her sympathy
showed the nation where its heart should go and where its hand should

The send-off from the courtyard of Buckingham Palace; the review of the
battle-worn heroes in the Palace itself, when she decorated them with
their well-earned honours; her constant visits to the hospitals, were
incidents which the nation could not forget. In them, as in so many
other ways, she awakened her people from their apathy, and by her
example led them to a higher and more Christian patriotism.

=The Netley and Herbert Hospitals.=

There was also the noble man whose monument adorns the Quadrangle of the
War Office, who was War Minister at the time. But perhaps foremost of
all, save the Queen herself, was the 'Lady of the Lamp,' who,
surrendering the comfort of a refined and beautiful home, went out to
the hospitals at Scutari to minister to the wounded and the
fever-stricken, and found in doing so a higher comfort, a comfort which
is of the soul itself. These two--Florence Nightingale and Sydney
Herbert--the one in guiding the Administration, the other inspiring the
nation, did imperishable good.

The Herbert and the Netley Hospitals were the first embodiment of the
nation's sympathy expressed in terms of official administration--palaces
of healing, which have been rest-houses for multitudes of sick and
wounded men pending their return to duty, their discharge on pension, or
their passing to an early grave.

The Royal Patriotic Fund was the expression of the nation's desire to
succour the widows and orphans of the breadwinners who had fallen in the

=The Awakened National Conscience.=

But these efforts, noble though they were, by no means met the full
necessity. For solicitude on behalf of our soldiers and our sailors
being once aroused, their daily life on board ship and in barracks soon
compelled attention. Its homelessness and monotony, its utter lack of
quiet and rest, its necessary isolation from all the comforts and
amenities of social life, the consequent eagerness with which the
men--wearied well-nigh to death, yet full of lusty vigorous life--went
anywhere for change, society, and excitement--all these things broke
like a revelation on the awakened conscience of the nation. The terrible
fact, to which reference has already been made, that hitherto almost the
only sections of the civil community which had catered for them was the
publican, the harlot, and the crimp, that they had indeed been left to
the tender mercies of the wicked, still further deepened the impression.

At the same time it came to be gradually realized that the splendid
manhood of the army and the navy was a vast mission force, which, if it
could only be enlisted on the side of purity, temperance, and religion,
might be of untold value to the empire and the home population.

It was plainly seen that if left, as it had hitherto been, to the
homelessness of the barracks and the main-deck, and to the canteen and
the public-house, it would certainly take the side of sin; and whilst
defending the empire by its valour, would imperil it by its ill-living.

All these convictions were confirmed by the record of the noble lives of
heroes, who were Christians as well as heroes, with which the history of
the Crimean War and the Mutiny is enriched. If a few could thus be
saved, it was asked, why not many? if some, why not all? For men of all
ranks, of varied temperaments and gifts, were among the saved, some
whose natural goodness made them easily susceptible of good, others
'lost' in very deed, sunk in the depths of a crude and brutal

=Woman's Work in this Field.=

As might be expected, the first to take to heart these special aspects
of the case, and to embody the great awakening in the deeds of a
practical beneficence, were women. Miss Robinson and Miss Weston, Mrs.
and Miss Daniel, Miss Wesley, and Miss Sandes will ever live among those
who set themselves to fight the public-house and the brothel by opening
at least one door, which, entering as to his own home, the soldier and
the sailor would meet with purity instead of sin, and where the hand
stretched out to welcome him would be not the harlot's but the Christ's.

=The Influence of Methodism.=

It was given to the Wesleyan Methodist Church to take the foremost place
in this new departure. Nor could it well be otherwise when the history
of that Church is borne in mind.

The soldiers and man-of-war's men of John Wesley's time came in large
numbers under the spell of his wonderful ministry. Converted or not,
they recognised in him a man; and his dauntless courage, his invincible
good humour, and his practical sympathy, won for him from many of them a
singular devotion, and from not a few a brave and noble comradeship.
Some came to be among his most successful preachers, and in the army,
and out of it, nobly aided him in his victorious but arduous conflict
with the evils of the time. From Flanders to the Peninsula and Waterloo,
and from Waterloo to the Crimea and the Mutiny, the bright succession
continued. Hence, when the nation awoke to its duty to its defenders,
Methodism abundantly partook of the impulse, and threw itself heartily
into every enterprise which it inspired.

It was the first Church, as a Church, to commit itself to the policy of
Soldiers' and Sailors' Homes. It passed a resolution at its annual
Conference to the effect that these institutions were essential to any
successful work for the good of the Army and Royal Navy; and it has
continued, as the years have gone on, to increase the number of its
Homes, until at the present time it has thirty under its direction,
established in various parts of the empire, which it has provided at the
cost of many thousands of pounds, and which are its gift for the common
good. They are all held on such trusts as secure them for the free and
unreserved use of all the soldiers and sailors of the Queen, without
respect of religious denomination.

=The Work of the Anglican and other Churches.=

But Methodism is not alone, as a Church, in this patriotic and Christian
enterprise. The Established Church has entered upon it with an
ever-increasing earnestness, having come, mainly through the advocacy of
the Chaplain-General, Rev. Dr. Edgehill, to grasp the situation, and to
realize that for the men themselves and for the empire it is of
paramount importance that this provision should be made.

The reflex result of the efforts to establish Soldiers' and Sailors'
Homes has also been most beneficent. Speaking at the anniversary of one
of these Homes, not many years ago, Lord Methuen said that they had led
the way to the improvement which is now being effected in barracks,
where the old squalor has given place to comfort, and the temperance
refreshment room, the recreation room, and the library more than hold
their own against the canteen, and the cheerful and sufficient married
quarters have replaced the scandal of the curtained corner or the
miserable one-roomed hut.

Nor must the prayer-room now attached to every barracks in India be
forgotten, nor the Army Temperance Association, of which the Rev. Gelson
Gregson was the pioneer, and the illustrious Field-Marshal, Lord
Roberts, the founder. This association has now, thanks to the sympathy
of H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge when Commander-in-Chief, and to the
hearty and constant support of Lord Wolseley, his illustrious successor,
been established throughout the whole British army.

It will thus be seen that the great awakening of now nearly fifty years
ago has borne good fruit, and that in proportion as the nation has risen
to a higher moral level, and consequently to a juster appreciation of
its duties, the soldier and the sailor have continued to share in its

=Christian Work at Aldershot.=

The camp at Aldershot embodies in itself all these changes; and is,
indeed, an epitome of the results of this awakening. Anything more
desolate than its aspect when it was first established it would be
impossible to imagine. Long 'lines' of huts, planted in a wilderness of
gorse, heather, and sand, dimly lit, and miserably appointed; 'women
that were sinners' prowling about the outskirts, and gradually taking
possession of much of the hastily-constructed town, with the usual
accompaniment of low public-houses and music-halls--such, to a great
extent, was Aldershot at the beginning.



Here then was a sphere for the work of the new awakening. And one by one
all the agencies mentioned above took up their duty, and entered upon
the enterprise. Mrs. and Miss Daniel founded the Soldiers' Institute.
The Wesleyans, guided by the Revs. Dr. Rule, Charles Prest, I. Webster,
and C.H. Kelly, built their first Home at the West End, where, like
another 'West End,' so much of vice had congregated. Subsequently it was
transferred to the site in Grosvenor Road, and another Home put up at
the North Camp, on a site secured by Sir Hope Grant. Then came the
Church of England, with its splendid premises in Aldershot and its
church rooms in the North and South Camps.

Meanwhile the camp itself has been reconstructed, so that at last the
empire can look without shame upon it; and the brave spirits who first
caught the awakening, or saw that it should not die,--many of whom have
joined the majority, but some of whom are still enriching their country
by their lives,--can rejoice in the work they have been permitted to

And the result? 'Ah, sir,' exclaimed a sergeant, as he entered one of
the Aldershot Homes, 'you are at last giving us a chance. Hitherto you
have provided for us as though we were all bad, and all wanted and meant
to be; and bad we became. But now, sir, you are giving us a chance, and
you will see what will be the result.'

And truly we do; for the life of the nation is enriched, not enfeebled,
by the men who return to it from the Army and the Royal Navy. And all
ranks of society are becoming convinced that religion is the prime
factor in the service efficiency and in the national well-being. Thus
God is, after all, seen to be the greatest need, and the one true
enrichment of human life and character--the vital force by which alone
the commonwealth can live.

The wonderful records which will be found in the succeeding chapters of
this book, telling as they do of Christian life and service in the South
African War, will still further show the fruits of this great

Chapter II


A raw, cold morning in the late autumn! A weird-looking train, slowly
drawing into the station out of the mist, with carriages altogether
different in appearance from those we were accustomed to see! A
battalion of brawny Scotchmen, travel-stained and sleepy. And then a
somewhat lazy descent to the platform.

'Twenty-four hours in this train, sir, and never a bite or a sup. What
do you think of that?'

But as the speaker could not quite keep the perpendicular, and found it
absolutely impossible to stand to attention, it was evident that he had
had more than one 'sup,' whether he had had a 'bite' or not. All along
the line, sad to say, 'treating' had been plentiful, and this was the

=Mobilising at Aldershot.=

Multiply this scene a hundred times. Imagine the apparent confusion on
every hand. Listen to the tramp, tramp of the men as they march from
station to camp and from camp to station, and you will have some idea of
the hurry and bustle in this camp on veldt during the period when the
word 'mobilisation' was on everybody's lips.

Barrack rooms everywhere overcrowded, men sleeping by the side of the
bed-cots as well as upon them; every available space utilised; even the
H Block Soldiers' Home turned outside into a tent, that the rooms it
occupied might be used as temporary barrack rooms again.

Discipline was necessarily somewhat relaxed! Drunkenness all too rife!
The air was full of fare-wells, and the parting word in too many cases
could only be spoken over the intoxicating cup. It was a
rough-and-tumble time. Aldershot was full of men who in recent years had
been unaccustomed to the discipline and exactitude of Her Majesty's
Army, and the wonder is that things were not worse than they were.

Let us look into one of the barrack rooms. The men are just getting
dinner, and are hardly prepared to receive company, and especially the
company of ladies. They are sitting about anyhow, their tunics for the
most part thrown aside, or at any rate flying open; but when they see
ladies at the door, most of them rise at once.

'Yes, it is hard work, miss, parting with them,' says one K.O.S.B.
reservist. 'I've left the missus at home and three babies, one of them
only a week old. I thought she'd have cried her eyes out when I came
away. I can't bear to think of it now.' And the big fellow brushed the
tears away. 'It's not that I mind being called up, or going to the war.
I don't mind that; but, you know, miss, it's different with us than
with them young lads, and I can't help thinking of her.'

'Rough? yes, it is a bit rough,' says another as we pass along. 'I wish
you could see the little cottage where I live when I'm at home, all kept
as bright as a new pin. It's well _she_ can't see me now, I'm thinking.
She'd hardly know her husband. But there, it's rougher where we're
going, I reckon, so it's no use worrying about this.' And, forgetting
the presence of ladies, he started whistling a merry tune.

It _was_ just 'a bit rough' in those days. But how could it be helped?
Aldershot Camp had nearly doubled its normal population, and some thirty
thousand troops were crowded in. And this population was continually
changing. As soon as one batch of troops was despatched, another took
its place, with consequences that, perhaps, were not always all that
could be desired, but which were nevertheless unavoidable.

And so day by day we watched the camp gradually becoming khaki colour.
At first it was khaki to-day and scarlet to-morrow, as one batch of
khaki warriors left for the front and others, still clad in their
ordinary uniform, took its place. But before very long Pimlico proved
equal to the occasion, and khaki prevailed, and in South and North Camp
one saw nothing but the sand-coloured soldiers. Then a strange, unwonted
silence fell upon us; for they had gone, and we woke up to an empty camp
and desolate streets, and realized that the greatest feat of the kind in
the history of the world had been accomplished, and 150,000 troops had
been despatched seven thousand miles across the sea.

=Christian Work at Aldershot.=

But we are anticipating. Let us first introduce you to a bit of
Christian Aldershot during these mobilisation times. The mobilisation
did not find us dozing; and the Churches and Soldiers' Homes, with their
multiplicity of organizations, did their best to give to Mr. Thomas
Atkins a home from home, and never with greater success.

There is no doubt that the _morale_ of the British soldier is steadily
advancing. 'They forget,' said a lad from Ladysmith the other day, 'that
we are not what we used to be. It used to be that the army was composed
of the scum of the nation; some folks forget that it isn't so now.' They
do, or, rather, perhaps they _did_ until the war commenced and made the
soldier popular. But the fact is that, especially during the last twenty
years, there has been a steady improvement, and we venture to assert
that to-day, so far as his moral conduct is concerned, the average
soldier is quite equal, if not superior, to the average civilian. This
is due in large measure to the officers, who take a greater interest in
the everyday life of their men than ever before; but it is due in even
larger measure to the great interest the Churches have taken in the men,
and especially in the multiplication of Soldiers' Homes.

At Aldershot there are, in addition to the military and civilian
churches, which are all of them centres of vigorous Christian work, six
Soldiers' Homes, viz., three Wesleyan, two Church of England, and one
Salvation Army, in addition to the Primitive Methodist Soldiers' Home,
now used chiefly as a temperance hotel. At these Soldiers' Homes there
are refreshment bars, reading rooms, games rooms, smoking rooms, bath
rooms, and all other conveniences. They are for the soldier--a home from
home. Here he is safe, and he knows it. They will take care of his
money, and he can have it when he likes. They will supply him with
stationery free of charge. They will write his letters for him, if he so
desires, and receive them also. In fact, while he considers himself
monarch of all he surveys as soon as he enters, he is conscious all the
time that he must be on his good behaviour, and it is rarely, if ever,
that he forgets himself.

A counter-attraction to the public-house, an entertainment provider of a
delightful order, a club, a home, and a Bethel all rolled into one is
the Soldiers' Home,--the greatest boon that the Christian Church has
ever given to the soldier, and one which he estimates at its full value.

During the mobilisation days these Homes were crowded to the utmost of
their capacity, and chaplains and Scripture readers vied with each other
in their earnest efforts to benefit the men. In those solemn times of
waiting, with war before them, and possibly wounds or death, hundreds of
soldiers decided for Christ, or, as they loved to put it, 'enlisted into
the army of the King.'

=Barrack Room Life.=

Somehow or other the average Englishman never thinks of the soldier as a
Christian, and soldier poets bring out almost every other phase of the
soldier character except this. As a matter of fact the recruit when he
comes to us is little more than a lad. He has been brought up in the
village Sunday school, and been accustomed to attend the village church
or chapel. He has all his early religious impressions full upon him. He
is excitable, emotional, easily led. If he gets into a barrack room
where the men are coarse, sensual, ungodly, he often runs into riot in a
short time, though even then his early impressions do not altogether
fade. But if we lay hold of him, bring him to our Homes, surround him
with Christian influences, by God's help we make a man of him, and the
raw recruit, the 'rook' as they call him, not only develops into a
veteran ready to go anywhere and do anything for Queen and country, but
into a Soldier of the Cross, ready to do and dare for his King.

=An Aldershot Sunday.=

Let me introduce you to an Aldershot Sunday. The camp is all astir at an
early hour. Musters of men here and there on the regimental parade
grounds, the stately march to church, the regimental band at the head.
The short, bright, cheery service. The rattle and clatter of side-arms
as the men stand or sit. The rapid exit after the Benediction has been
pronounced and the National Anthem sung. The 'fall in' outside. The
ringing word of command, and the march back to barracks, amid the
admiring gaze of the civilians.

All this can be sketched in a few sentences; but we want to give our
readers more than a mere introduction--a speaking acquaintance. We want
them to get to know our friend Thomas Atkins before they see him out on
the veldt, or amid the heat of battle. And to know him as _we_ know him
they must get a little closer than a mere church parade; they must watch
us at our work for him, they must realize some of our difficulties, and
be sharers in some of our joys.

Let us then get nearer to him, and in order to this, attempt to get into
the heart of an Aldershot Sunday. And as the most conspicuous and
handsome pile of buildings in Aldershot is the Grosvenor Road Wesleyan
Church and Soldiers' Home, and it happens to be the one with which we
are best acquainted, we will follow the workers in their Sunday's work.

=The Prison Service.=

And first of all let us visit the Military Prison. There are not so many
prisoners as usual just now, and those who are there are terribly
anxious to have their terms of imprisonment shortened, in order that
they may get to the front--not that prisoners are ever wishful to drag
out the full term of their imprisonment, but now that all is excitement
and their regiments are on the eve of departure, they are feverishly
anxious to go with them.

And yet it is easy to preach, for in prison most hearts are softened,
and just now there are memories of bygone days that make one love the
old hymns and listen with more than old interest to old truths. Of
course there are not a few exceptions. For instance, you see that tall
Guardsman! Guardsman, do you call him? Anything but that in his uncouth
prison dress! But he _is_ a Guardsman, and by-and-by will give a good
account of himself in South Africa. See how his eyes are fixed on the
preacher. How eagerly he listens to every word the preacher says! Surely
there is a work of grace going on in his heart! And so next morning when
the preacher and junior chaplain meet, one says to the other, 'I am
quite sure Robinson was greatly affected yesterday. He could not take
his eyes off me all the time. He seemed in great trouble. Speak to him
about it, and try to lead him to Christ.'

Hence, when next the Rev. E. Weaver, our indefatigable junior chaplain,
visited the prison, he said, 'Robinson, what sort of a service did you
have on Sunday morning?'

'Pretty much as usual, thank you, sir.'

'How did you like the sermon?'

'Oh! all right. You know I've heard him before.'

'Yes, but wasn't there something that specially touched you. The
preacher said you could not take your eyes off him all the time. He felt
sure you were in trouble.'

'Well, sir, I was, that is the fact. I couldn't help looking at him,
and I have been thinking about it ever since.'

'Well, now, you know me, Robinson. Cannot I help you? You have no need
to be afraid to speak to me. What is your trouble?'

And Robinson looked gravely at the chaplain, and the chaplain at him.
And then with an effort Robinson said, 'I've been wondering about it all
the week. I cannot get it out of my head. Don't be offended, sir,
however did that 'ere gent get inside that waistcoat?'

How are the mighty fallen! And the poor preacher who, with cassock vest,
had stood before that congregation of prisoners, had after all only
excited curiosity about his dress.

But it is not always so, and many a lad has been won to better ways
through the ministry of the prison.

=Parade and other Services.=

Then follows the Parade Service, already described, and no more need be
said except that the preacher must be dull and heartless indeed who is
not inspired by those hundreds of upturned faces, and the knowledge that
the word he speaks may, through them, ere long reach the ends of the

We will not linger either at the Hospital Service or the Sacred Song
Service in the afternoon, or at the Soldiers' Tea, or even at the
Voluntary Service at night, which, with its hundreds of soldier
attendants, is a testimony to the spiritual value of the work.

=The 'Glory-Room' of the Soldiers' Home.=

Let us rather pass into the 'glory-room' of the Soldiers' Home at the
close of the evening Service. There is never a Sunday night without
conversions. And they call it the glory-room because

    'Heaven comes down their souls to greet,
    And glory crowns the mercy-seat.'

Ex-Sergeant-Major Moss is in charge, and as frequent references will be
made to him in the following narratives, we may as well sketch him now.
A man of medium height, thick set, strength in every line of his face
and figure, eyes that look kindly upon you and yet pierce you through
and through. A strong man in every respect, and a kindly man withal. A
man among men, and yet a man of almost womanly tenderness where sympathy
is required. Again and again in the course of our story we shall come
across traces of his strenuous work and far-reaching influence. And in
every part of the British Empire there are soldier lads who look upon
this ex-sergeant-major of the Army Service Corps as their spiritual
father, and there is no name oftener on their lips in South Africa than

He is in charge to-night, and is telling his experience. He knows all
about it, has done plenty of rough campaigning in his time, but he knows
also that the religion of Jesus Christ is best for war or peace. Christ
has been with him in all parts of the world, and Christ will be with
_them_. They are going out. No one knows what is before them, but with
Christ at their side all will be well.

And now a Reservist speaks. He cannot pass the doctors, and has to
return home; but he tells the lads how he went through the Chitral
campaign, and how hard he found it to be a Christian all alone. 'It is
all right here in the glory-room,' says he; 'it is all right when the
glory-room is not far away, and we can get to it. But when you are
thousands of miles away, and there are no Christian brothers anywhere
near, and you hear nothing but cursing, and are all the time amid the
excitement of war, it is hard work then. Stick to it, my brothers. Be
out and out for Christ.'

And then another--an Engineer. 'I was going through the camp the other
day, and I noticed that where they were building the new bridge they had
put a lantern to warn people not to approach. It had only a candle
inside, and gave but a poor light. On either side of me were the lamps
of the Queen's Avenue, and only this tiny flicker in front. And I said
to myself, "My lad, you are not one of those big lamps there in the
Avenue; it's but a little light you can give, but little lights are
useful as well as big ones, and may be you can warn, if you cannot
illuminate."' And then with enthusiasm they sang together,--

    'Jesus bids me shine with a clear, pure light,
    Like a little candle burning in the night;
    In this world of darkness we must shine--
    You in your small corner, I in mine.'

Then follow other testimonies and prayer, and by-and-by first one and
then another cries to God for mercy, and as the word of pardon is spoken
from above, and one after another enters into the Light, heaven indeed
comes down their

                   'souls to meet
    And glory crowns the mercy-seat.'

This is no fanciful picture. It is an every night occurrence. The old
times of the evangelical revival are lived over again in that
'glory-room,' and hundreds are started upon a new and higher life.

But it is time to separate, and with a verse of the soldiers' parting
hymn the comrades go their various ways, and the blessed Sabbath's
services are over--over, all except one service more, the service in the
barrack room, where each Christian man kneels down by his bed-cot and
commends his comrades and himself to God. In the case of new converts
this is the testing-time. They _must_ kneel and pray. It is the outward
and visible sign of their consecration to God. A hard task it is for
most; not so hard to-day as it was a few years ago, but difficult still,
and the grit of the man is shown by the way he faces this great ordeal.
Persecution generally follows, but he who bears it bravely wins respect,
while he who fails is treated henceforth as a coward. This testimony for
Christ in the barrack room rarely fails to impress the most ungodly,
though at the time the jeering comrades would be the last to acknowledge

At the risk of appearing to anticipate, let me tell a story.

=Jemmie's Prayer.=

In a nullah in far-away South Africa lay about a dozen wounded men. They
had been lying there for hours, their lives slowly ebbing away. One of
them was a Roman Catholic, who had been a ringleader of persecution in
the barrack room at home. Not far from him lay 'little Jemmie,' wounded
severely, whom many a time the Roman Catholic had persecuted in the days
gone by. Hour after hour the Roman Catholic soldier lay bleeding there,
until at last a strange dizzy sensation came over him which he fancied
was death. He looked across to where, in the darkness, he thought he
could distinguish 'little Jemmie.' With difficulty he crawled across to
him, and bending over the wounded lad, he roused him.

'Jemmie, lad,' he said, 'I have watched you in the barrack room and seen
you pray. Jemmie, lad, do you think you could say a prayer for me?'

And Jemmie roused himself with an effort, and, trying hard to get upon
his knees, he began to pray. By-and-by the other wounded soldiers heard
him, and all who could crawl gathered round, and there, in that far-away
nullah, little Jemmie 'said a prayer' for them all. Surely a strange and
almost ghastly prayer-meeting that! As they prayed, some one noticed the
flicker of a light in the distance. They knew not who it was--Briton or
Boer--who moved in the distant darkness. Jemmie, however, heeded it not,
but prayed earnestly for deliverance. The light came nearer, and the
wounded lads began to call with all their remaining strength for help.
And at last it came to them--the light of a British stretcher party--and
they were carried to help and deliverance.

'And now,' said the Roman Catholic soldier, who, on his return from the
war, told this story to the Rev. T.J. McClelland, 'I know that God will
hear the prayer of a good man as well as the prayer of a priest, for he
heard little Jemmie's prayer that night.'

And so the Aldershot barrack room prepares the way for the South African
veldt, and the example apparently unnoticed bears fruit where least

=The Hymns the Soldier Likes.=

Of all hymn-books Mr. Thomas Atkins likes his 'Sankey' best. He is but a
big boy after all, and the hymns of boyhood are his favourites still.
You should hear him sing,--

    'I'm the child of a King,'

while the dear lad has hardly a copper to call his own! And how he never
tires of singing!

But the Scotchmen are exceptions, of course, and when, following
mobilisation times, the Cameronian Militia came to Aldershot, they could
not put up with Mr. Sankey's collection. Rough, bearded crofters as many
of them were,--men who had never been South before,--all these hymns
sounded very foreign. 'We canna do wi' them ava,' they cried; 'gie us
the Psalms o' Dauvit.' But they set an example to many of their fellows,
and the remarkable spectacle was witnessed in more than one barrack
room of these stalwart crofters engaged in family prayer.

But it is time we saw our soldiers depart. And first there is the
inspection in the barrack square, and it is difficult to recognise in
these khaki-clad warriors the men we had known in the barrack room or
'Home.' And then there is the farewell in the evening, and the
'glory-room' or other devotional room is full of those ordered South,
and there is the hearty hand-shake and the whispered 'God bless you,'
and then all join in the soldiers' good-night song--his watchword all
the world over, hymn 494 in Sankey's collection,--

    'God be with you till we meet again.'

His life is such a coming and going that he would be unhappy unless you
closed every evening meeting with at least one verse, and on these
occasions, when no one knows whether it will be in earth or heaven that
he will meet his comrade next, it is, of course, impossible to close
without it. And so night by night before each regiment takes its
departure some one starts 494. By-and-by, as the train steams out of the
station, it will be 'Auld Lang Syne,' but these are Christian men, and
they are parting from Christian men, and so often with hands clasped and
not without tears they sing,--

    'God be with you till we meet again,
    Keep love's banner floating o'er you,
    Smite death's threatening wave before you,
    God be with you till we meet again.'

They will not forget it, these soldier lads, and as they pass one
another on their long marches across the veldt, unable to do more than
shout a greeting to some old friend, it will be 494; and as with rapid
tread they advance to charge some almost impregnable defence, they will
shout to one another--these Christian soldiers--494, 'God be with you
till we meet again!'

=Off to the Front.=

What stirring times those were! What singing in the barrack rooms at
night! What excitement in the streets of the town, yes, and what
drunkenness too, making it necessary now and then to confine a regiment
to barracks the night before departure. And then the march to the
station, often in the small hours of the morning, the rush at the last
with some would-be deserter just caught in time, the enthusiasm of the
men, the cheering of the crowd, the singing of 'Auld Lang Syne' and 'God
Save the Queen.' And then away goes the train, heads out of every
carriage, handkerchiefs waving, lusty voices cheering, shouting,
singing. God bless you, our soldier lads!

But what mean these little knots of women and children gazing wistfully
after the train? What mean these sobs, these tears, this heart-break?
Ah! this is another side to the picture. They have said good-bye, and
they know that _all_ of these lads will not return, and that some of
those left behind are left desolate for life. God help them, our
British soldiers--aye, and God help those they have left behind them!

[Illustration: OFF TO SOUTH AFRICA.]

=Mr. Lowry Ordered South.=

Let us glance at just one scene more before we say good-bye to old
Aldershot and follow our soldier lads on their journey South. It is the
farewell of one of the best-loved of Aldershot chaplains--the Rev. E.P.
Lowry, senior Wesleyan chaplain. For seven years he has ministered with
rare success to our troops; his name is a household word among them,
they love him as they love few, and he loves them one and all. And now
he too is ordered South. He is fifty-six years old, and has done no
campaigning heretofore. It is, therefore, no light task he has before
him, and though he has many advantages and is known to so many, yet he
is quite aware he must rough it with the rest, and is prepared to
undergo all hardships with his men.

It is a raw, biting morning, and the piercing wind makes the khaki
uniforms that flit here and there look altogether unseasonable. On the
other side of the station is Rev. Father Ryan, the Roman Catholic
chaplain, in khaki uniform and helmet, looking a soldier every inch of
him,--a good man, too, and a gentleman, as we Aldershot folks know well.
But on this platform what a crowd there is! Men and women, old and
young, soldiers and civilians, have all come to say good-bye to one man,
and he moves in and out among the people saying a kindly word here and
giving a handshake there. There are not many for South Africa by this
train. The men left hours ago, and only a few officers who had no need
to travel with their men are going down. A young lad here, the son of a
Christian man, is going out hoping to get an appointment in some South
African volunteer regiment, and his comrades of the Fire Brigade are
here to say 'good-bye.' But the rest of us are all crowding round our
best-loved padre to say God-speed.

It is a scene that will live with us for many years. See, they are
running along the platform as the train steams out. 494 they shout, and
bravely and with smiling face he calls out in return 494, and off they
go, he to the work of his life, and we to the more humdrum but perhaps
not less necessary work of the hour.

Chapter III


A cheer from the distant crowds, an increased involuntary bustle on
board ship, and then train load after train load of troops detrained
alongside the ship that was to be their home for the next three weeks.
Up and up the gangways they went in long continuous lines, hour after
hour, a procession that seemed as though it would never stop. At last
all are on board, and the bell rings for visitors to go ashore. The
troops crowd the bulwarks of the ship, they climb the rigging, many of
them like sailors. They seize every vantage point from which they can
wave a long farewell to those they are leaving behind them, and then
some one with a cornet strikes up 'Soldiers of the Queen' and 'Rule
Britannia,' and fifteen hundred voices echoed by those on shore join in
the patriotic songs. At last all is ready and the moorings are cast off.
'One song more, my lads'; it is 'Shall auld acquaintance be forgot?' and
there with the good ship already moving from the dock they sing it,
while handkerchiefs are vigorously waved and hearty cheers rend the air,
and not a few tears are shed. And so amidst excitement and sorrow,
laughter and tears, the good ship drops down the Southampton Water, past
Netley Hospital--soon to receive many of them back--and Calshott Castle,
past the Needles and out into the open Channel, and fifteen hundred
fighting men are on their way to South Africa.

=A New Feat in Britain's History.=

Week after week this was the programme. It only varied in that the ship
was different, and the men were of different regiments and different
names. Until at last the title of this chapter had become an actual
fact, and Old England, in a sense truer than ever before, was upon the
sea. For it was not _young_ England simply that was there. The fathers
of our land--our greatest and our wisest generals, the most seasoned of
our veterans, were there also. And there was hardly a family at home but
had some representative, or at any rate some near or dear friend upon
the sea.

Never had such a thing as this been _attempted_ before in the history of
the world. Other great expeditions had been fitted out and despatched,
for instance, the great Armada which was beaten and dispersed by our
Hearts of Oak and broken to pieces upon our Scottish rocks. But for
nearly 150,000 men to be dispatched 7,000 miles by sea, and not a man be
lost by shipwreck, is something over which old England may well be
proud, and for which it should bow in hearty thanksgiving to God.

The men these ships were carrying were _new_ men. Some of them certainly
were of the old type--drinking, swearing, impure--though for three
weeks, at any rate, every man of them was perforce a teetotaler, and did
not suffer in consequence! But our army has been recruited in days past
from our Sunday Schools with blessed consequences, and on board every
ship there were men whose first concern was to find a spot where, with
congenial souls, they could meet and pray.

All sorts of places were found. The Rev. E.P. Lowry, for instance,
managed to get the use of the Lunatic Ward, and there the men met and
prayed, caring nothing for the nickname of 'lunatic' freely bestowed
throughout the voyage.

=Religious Work on a Troopship.=

The following letter from Colour-Sergeant J.H. Pearce, culled from the
_Methodist Times_, gives us a specimen of the work done by the soldiers
themselves upon these troopships, work that commenced as soon as the
ship left dock, and continued to the end of the voyage. It is dated--

     '_At sea, but in the hollow of His hand._

     'The first evening we got together all we could find, and decided
     to start at once, although still in harbour; so we looked out a
     little place under the poop, and decided after a chapter and prayer
     to come along again the next evening. But when I went along to see
     who would turn up, to my sorrow I found the devil had taken up
     position outside our trenches, and we were debarred from entering
     by a crowd playing "House." The next day I was rather sick but went
     up and found the devil still in possession. Brother Evans was too
     sick to go that evening; but Thursday, being better, he and I went
     from stem to stern, downstairs and up, searching for a place to
     meet for prayer and reading the Word. We were just giving up our
     search to go to our quarters and pray about it, when we alighted
     upon about eight of our dear brothers on one of the hatchways
     waiting. They had sent two of the number to look for Evans and me,
     so we got around a port-hole light, and read Romans v., had a few
     words, and a word of prayer. Evans read 604, "Soldiers' home
     above," and we went home to pray that the Lord would open a way.

     'We were to meet to-night at the same place to report progress. I
     was in the meantime to ask for the use of the orderly-room. The
     Lord had answered by opening the windows of heaven and the heart of
     the officer commanding the troops, and gave us exceedingly
     abundantly above what we asked or thought, for this morning the
     colonel met Mr. Cochrane, asked him if he were the Scripture
     reader, and told him he would give any place on board the vessel we
     liked to ask for. The orderly-room was granted us, and when we got
     there a number of R.A. clerks were at work. I spoke to the
     sergeant-major and told him we did not want to be objectionable, so
     would come when they had finished. He said, "Take no notice of us,
     go on." But there was too much commotion, so I went to see our
     orderly-room sergeant, who let us into the clerks' room, and there
     we had a real glory time. We know the Lord is with you at
     Aldershot, for we have realized His presence there. But He is here
     in wonderful power. We had a conversion last night on the hatchway.
     A man came along and listened, and in the dark we did not detect
     him till he spoke; so we have to report progress. We are to meet
     every night for prayer, reading and praise. It would melt a heart
     of cast steel to have been in our little meeting to-night, as one
     after another of the dear fellows simply poured out his heart to
     the Lord in prayer and praise. You thought I liked a good innings,
     but why should not every blood-bought and blood-washed one be the
     same? Do I realize what Jesus has done for me? Then

        "I must tell to sinners round
        What a dear Saviour I have found,"

     and point to the redeeming Blood, and say, "Behold the way to God."
     Glorious times yesterday, about seventy or eighty at parade
     service. I took John i. 29, "Behold the Lamb." Afternoon Bible
     reading. Evening out-door meeting, about 400 or 500 men listening;
     then indoor meeting. A dear fellow of our regiment gloriously
     converted Saturday night. Took his place with us in the open-air
     ring last night.'

Such stories as these tell of intense devotion, of a consecration that
is indeed 'out and out.' They show that every Christian soldier is a
Christian missionary, and that a Christian army would be the most
powerful missionary society in the world.

In many cases Christian officers were instrumental in bringing numbers
of the men to Christ: among these may be mentioned Captain Thompson, of
the 4th Field Battery R.A., who held services three times a week
throughout the voyage, and whose loving and earnest addresses had a
powerful influence upon his hearers.

Tons of literature of all descriptions were put upon the troopships at
the port of embarkation. Mr. Punter, the Wesleyan Scripture reader,
himself distributed six tons at Southampton. One society seemed to vie
with another in thus ministering to the wants of the men. The Soldier's
Testament proved a boon to many, and as our lads return from the front,
many of them show with pride their Testaments, safely brought back
through many a fierce fight.

In the evenings, on many of the ships, large numbers met and sang hymns.
A soldier never tires of singing, and his 'Sankey' is an unfailing
friend. Many a lad had thus brought back to memory days of long ago, and
gave himself to his mother's God.

But, after all, the great Christian events of the voyage were the parade
services. If there were chaplains on board, they naturally conducted the
services. If not, the officers in some cases performed that duty, and we
read in one soldier's letter that on the Braemar Castle Prince
Christian Victor conducted a service, perhaps a somewhat unusual
occupation for a prince!

=Parade Services on a Troopship.=

But men in the ranks conducted parade services also. The commanding
officer would send for some godly non-commissioned officer or private,
and make him for the time being the 'padre' for the ship. Nor were these
devoted Christians unduly exalted by the position in which they found
themselves. It was no slight acknowledgment of worth that, all
untrained, they found themselves for the time being Acting-Chaplains to
Her Majesty's forces. Godly Methodists like Sergt.-Major Foote or
Sergeant Oates, for instance, were not the men to be spoilt by such a
position. Sergeant Oates tells how the men pointed him out as the
'Wesleyan Parson,' but he tells also that being provost-sergeant he had
an empty cell under his charge and that there he used to go to be alone
with God. From such communings he came out a strong man--strong to
resist temptation and to win men for Christ. And as for Sergt.-Major
Foote, he was simply bubbling over with Christian enthusiasm--enthusiasm
that did not lead him astray because it was united with a well-balanced

The best pictures we get of such parade services at sea are however from
the pens of our chaplains. The Rev. E.P. Lowry gives us a vivid picture
of a Sunday at sea, which we venture to transcribe from the _Methodist

     'This day has really in large measure been given up to the feelings
     and exercises of devotion. There has been no physical drill and
     regimental "doubling" round the deck to the accompaniment, first of
     the bagpipes, and then of the fifes and drums; no medical
     inspection of the men's feet; no lectures to officers on first-aid
     to the wounded; no rifle practice at the Boers in the shape of
     bottles and boxes thrown overboard to be fired at by scores of
     eager marksmen, and speedily sent to the bottom.

     'Early came an inspection of the ship's crew, stewards, and
     stokers, numbering about 180 in all, and including Africans and
     Lascars, of almost every imaginable hue, all dressed in their
     Sunday best. Then came the muster, at ten o'clock, of all our
     soldier lads, in red tunic and forage cap, for church parade.
     Nearly the whole 1,600 answered to their names, were divided into
     groups according to their various denominations, and marched to
     their various rendezvous for worship. The Presbyterians and
     Wesleyans numbered nearly 500, which would make a very full parade
     at Grosvenor Road Church. The place assigned to us was down below
     on what is called the first and second decks, where the men usually
     have their meals, and sleep in hammocks, or on the tables, forms
     and floor, as the case may be. All the tinware and other
     impedimenta had been carefully cleared away, and so the men at once
     filed in between the tables. A special form was provided for the
     two officers who attended, and another for Mr. Pearce, who acted as
     my precentor, and myself. The 200 ha'penny hymn-books sent in by
     the thoughtful kindness of the Rev. R.W. Allen rendered invaluable
     aid in the brightening of the service, for they made it possible
     for every man to join in the singing, which was touchingly hearty
     and tender. Only favourite hymns would be in place in an assembly
     so strangely mixed, so we began with "Jesu, Lover of my soul,"
     followed by "What can wash away my sin?" "Just as I am," and "Oh,
     what a Saviour! that He died for me." Nearly half the men on board
     are Reservists, fresh from home and home-ties, though now 4,000
     miles at sea, and to them the singing of such hymns would
     inevitably be wakeful of all hallowed memories, and more helpful
     than any sermon.

     'Nevertheless, I ventured to speak to them solemnly, yet cheerily,
     of the mobilisation order that Joshua issued to the Hebrew host on
     the eve of battle, when he commanded them as the one supremely
     essential thing to sanctify themselves. The men were reminded that
     character tells, above all, on the field of battle, as Cromwell's
     troopers proved, and that since, of all work, war is the most
     appallingly responsible and perilous, every soldier is doubly
     called to be a saint. Such was "Stonewall" Jackson, America's most
     victorious general, and as in his case, so in theirs, grace would
     not rob them of grit, but increase their store. That grace they all
     might find in Christ.

     'We also all seemed to feel it a consoling thing to bow in prayer
     on that rolling lower deck for Queen and country, for comrades
     already at the seat of war, and for "the old folk at home," so, in
     our humble measure making ourselves one with that innumerable host
     who thus seek "to bind the whole round earth by golden chains about
     the feet of God." Not a man seemed unmoved, and the memory of that
     first full and official parade will be helpful to me for many days
     to come.

     'The Roman Catholics were also mustered; but as there was no priest
     on board, associated worship was for them quite impossible, and
     they were accordingly at once dismissed.

     'In the absence of an Anglican chaplain, Surgeon-Colonel McGill,
     the principal medical officer, read prayers with the men of the
     Royal Army Medical Corps. The captains of the various regimental
     companies did the same for their Church of England men; while in
     the main saloon the ship's captain conducted worship with as many
     of the naval and military officers as found it convenient to
     attend. At the harmonium presided Bandsman Harrison, of the
     Northamptons, who for the last two years has helped ever so well at
     the Sunday afternoon services of sacred song in Aldershot.

     'After church there was an excellent gathering in the guardroom for
     prayer and Bible reading, when we refreshed our hearts with the
     thought of the glories of the ascended Saviour who is indeed "The
     Almighty"; and although in this singular meeting-place we have
     never before ventured to indulge in song, to-day we could not
     refrain from an exultant voicing of the Doxology.

     'At 6.30, just when loved ones at Aldershot were assembling for
     worship, our praying men met once more; this time on the upper
     deck, where there soon assembled a large and interested
     congregation, sitting on the bulwarks or lying about in every
     imaginable attitude on the deck. Close by there were half a dozen
     strong horses that had not felt their feet for over a fortnight;
     every now and then piercing bugle calls broke in upon us, and the
     restless feet of many a man hurrying to and fro; but none of these
     things moved us, and the service was vigorously maintained for
     nearly an hour and a half. Mr. Pearce, the Army Scripture Reader,
     gave out the hymns; I read a chapter and gave an address as
     brightly tender and practical as I could make it; sundry soldiers
     also spoke and prayed; and a manifestly gracious impression was
     produced on all present. The men are eager to listen when
     sanctified common-sense is talked, and are just as ready
     good-naturedly to note anything that in the slightest degree is
     odd. One of our godliest helpers has a powerful voice, but
     sometimes inserts a sort of sentimental tremolo into his singing,
     which makes it distinctly suggestive of the bleating of a sheep. I
     was sitting in my cabin close by when this preliminary singing was
     started, and was not left many moments in doubt as to its
     unmistakable sheepishness, or lamb-likeness, for almost immediately
     I heard some of the young rascals sitting round put in a subdued
     accompaniment of "Baa-a-a." Yet none the less the song moved on to
     its triumphant close. And thus, amid tears and harmless mirth, we
     are sowing on board this ship the seeds of eternal life, humbly
     trusting that the Lord of the harvest will not suffer our labour to
     be wholly in vain.'

Or take this as a later picture from a private letter sent home by the
Rev. Frank Edwards, Acting-Chaplain to the Welsh Wesleyan troops. Mr.
Edwards went out at his own charge to render spiritual help to his

     'This morning we had a splendid parade service. It was held on the
     upper deck. The captain had a large awning put up specially for the
     service. A stand was then erected by the chief officer, and a few
     of the men draped it with flags, and I had a large box covered with
     the Union Jack to serve me as a pulpit. Then the men were marched
     up and formed into three sides of a square, of which the preacher
     and my choir formed the fourth side. The centre of the square was
     occupied by the officers.

     'It was the most memorable service of my life. We opened with the

        "Stand up, stand up for Jesus,"

     and the strains of that hymn from hundreds of manly voices was
     carried far out upon the waters. Then we had the Liturgy, and the
     responses came clear and strong in true military style. The singing
     of the grand old Te Deum was most impressive. We sang an Easter
     hymn with great feeling and earnestness, and before the sermon,

        "Jesu, Lover of my soul."

     Oh! how those men joined in the singing. It seemed to become a
     prayer on every lip, and the fitting expression of the thought of
     every heart. Its meaning was clearer than it had ever been before.

        "While the nearer waters roll,
          While the tempest still is high."

     Then came the sermon, which was no sermon at all. True, I took a
     text, Isa. lxiii. 1, and I had a sermon in my mind. But when I
     looked round at those men, and thought how we were all standing on
     the very brink of eternity, and how few, perhaps, would ever see
     the dawn of another Easter morn, I knew it was not the place for an
     elaborate sermon. The time was precious and my words must be few
     and straight. I had a good time. It was impossible to miss it.
     Looking round upon those men as they came pressing closer and
     closer, with their hungry souls shining forth through their eyes,
     as they listened to the old, old story of the Saviour's everlasting
     love, and of His mighty conquest over sin and death, why, it seemed
     to me that if I did not preach to them the very _masts_ would cry
     out and proclaim the glad tidings. I forgot self, and time, and
     place, and remembered nothing but my hearers and my message. And
     although I had been warned not to keep them long, as they would
     never listen, such was the sympathy between us, and so great the
     fascination of the old story of Christ's love and power to save,
     that they listened spellbound to the end.

     'Then came the last hymn "Rock of Ages," and, oh! how it rolled
     out, clear and strong and triumphant, vibrating through the ship
     and echoing over the waters, a fitting close to a helpful and
     impressive service.'

In such manner ended a typical Sunday upon a troopship. And _only_ a
_typical_ Sunday, for on scores of troopships Sundays of a similar
character were spent. Such sacred hours must have proved splendid
preparation for the approaching campaign. And many a lad who had never
thought upon the great things of eternity before came face to face with
them then.

And so with marvellous celerity the English army was transferred to
South Africa, and all eyes and hearts followed it. The pride of the
castle and of the cottage was there; the heir to vast estates, and the
support of his widowed mother's old age; the scape-grace of the family,
and the one on whom all its hopes centred.

=The Chaplains of the British Army.=

And with them went the best that the Church could send. A noble band of
chaplains has our British army. Men like the venerable Dr. Edgehill, the
Chaplain-General--the soldier's preacher, _par excellence_. Men like the
Rev. A.W.B. Watson, who nearly killed himself by his acts of
self-sacrifice on behalf of the men in the Soudan campaign.

Distinguished clergymen, Presbyterian and Wesleyan ministers, Army
Scripture readers, agents of the Soldiers' Christian Association--all
wanted to go; and the difficulty was not to find the men, but to choose
among so many.

And so men of war and men of peace, soldiers of the Queen and soldiers
of the King of kings, found themselves together on the shores of South
Africa, sharing each other's dangers, privations and fatigues, all of
them loyal to their Queen, and each of them doing his work to the best
of his ability.

And the prayers of Christian England were with them night and day. What
wonder that through the army went a wave of Christian influence such as
had never been felt before.

And then from the Colonies they came. Australia and Canada sent their
choicest and their best. From the dusky sons of the British Empire in
India came representatives also. South Africa itself had its own goodly
tribute to offer. And with them all came Christian workers--chaplains
from Australia and Canada; missionaries by the score in South Africa,
ready to do everything in their power for the soldiers of the Queen.

And so it came to pass that the whole British Empire was represented on
the South African veldt. And the prayers, not only of Christian Britain,
but of the whole Empire, ascended to Heaven as the prayer of one man for
our soldier lads across the sea. Never has the sentiment of Tennyson's
beautiful poem been so translated into fact before, for in very deed
the whole round world was every way

    'Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.'

The months that witnessed the welding of the British Empire into one
great family witnessed also one great effort for her soldiers, and one
glorious chain of prayer for their conversion. What wonder that
hundreds, if not thousands, turned to God!


Chapter IV


The two most important ports of disembarkation A were Capetown and
Durban. East London and Port Elizabeth necessarily came in for their
share of the troops, but that share was only small.

It was therefore at Capetown and Durban that Christian workers specially
prepared to receive our soldiers and do all that was possible for their
comfort ere they departed for the front. These towns had already
thousands of refugees from the Transvaal upon their hands. Many of them
were absolutely destitute. They had left the Transvaal at almost a
moment's notice, and large numbers had only the clothes they were
wearing. But the generosity of the colonists knew no bounds, and gladly
they gave of their abundance and often of their poverty to help their
poor distressed brethren. Daily relief was granted where needed, and all
things possible were done for their comfort.

=South African Generosity.=

And now the coming of the army gave fresh opportunity for the display of
generosity. Not only were the soldiers received with hearty cheers, but
lavish gifts were showered upon them. Flowers, fruits, tobacco, dainties
of all kinds were handed to them as they departed to the front, and in
many cases sent up after them.

A gentleman from 'up country' wrote to Capetown to ask when any troops
would be going through a certain railway station, and he would undertake
to supply with fruit all troops passing for the next two months.

At Christmas a number of ladies at one of the stations up the line had
all sorts of good things for the men who had to travel on Christmas Day.
Another gentleman accidentally heard that a certain train was going to
stop at the railway station nearest his house, and hastily collected
twenty-four dozen new-laid eggs for the men to have for breakfast! Such
Christian kindness as this appeals powerfully to Mr. Thomas Atkins, as
it does to most men, and he deserved all that South Africa could give

=The Soldiers' Christian Association in South Africa.=

At Capetown the Soldiers' Christian Association was specially active.
This enterprising and successful Association was inaugurated seven years
ago as the direct result of a series of recommendations submitted to the
National Council of Young Men's Christian Associations. It has its
branches in most military centres and is exceedingly popular with the
men. In connection with this war the S.C.A., as it is familiarly called,
has taken an entirely new departure. It has taken a leaf, and a very
valuable leaf, out of the book of the American Young Men's Christian
Association. That enterprising Association did a great deal of tent work
during the late war with Spain, and such work proving of the greatest
value, the S.C.A. has followed the same course during the war in South
Africa. At first there was considerable difficulty in getting permission
from headquarters; but at last it came, and on Saturday, Nov. 11, 1899,
Messrs. Hinde and Fleming sailed. A further band of seven workers
accompanied Mr. A.H. Wheeler, the General Secretary of the Association a
fortnight later, and on their arrival they found that a general order
had been issued to the following effect--'Permission has been given to
the Soldiers' Christian Association to send out tents and
writing-material for the troops. Facilities are to be accorded to the
Association to put up tents at fixed stations, as far as military
requirements will permit.'

How well the work of the Association has been done has been told in the
organ of the S.C.A.--_News from the Front_.

     'Eight tents, fully equipped and capable of seating two hundred and
     fifty men, made of green rot-proof canvas, and ten smaller ones
     made of the same material for sleeping purposes, besides four iron
     buildings to take the place of tents in the colder districts, have
     been sent out from the mother country The tents have been stationed
     at Wynberg (No. 1 General Hospital), Orange River, Enslin Camp,
     Sterkstroom, Dordrecht, Kimberley (after the siege), Bloemfontein,
     Ladysmith (after the siege), Dewdrop Camp, Arcadia, Frere Camp, and
     other places. It was Lord Roberts' special wish that two of the
     iron buildings should be erected at Bloemfontein and one each at
     Kimberley and Ladysmith.'[1]

Lord Roberts himself opened the first S.C.A. tent pitched in
Bloemfontein, and the late Earl of Airlie, whose death none more than
his gallant lads of the 12th Lancers mourn, opened the tent at Enslin.
These tents became the Soldiers' Homes, and are free to men of all
denominations. In them stationery, ink, and pens are all free; and there
are books to read and games to play.

Occasionally they have been put to other uses, such as hospital depôts,
shelters for refugees, and temporary hospitals. Generals and their
staffs have been quartered in them for the night, and, in fact, they
have accompanied the British soldier to the front as his 'home from
home' wherever he has gone.

But to return to the work of the S.C.A. at Capetown. When this work
began it was found that there was no post-office at the south arm or
jetty where the troops disembarked, and thousands of the troops were
proceeding to the front without the opportunity of posting the letters
they had written, or sending home the money they had received during
the voyage. With his usual carelessness, 'Tommy' was leaving his letters
with any one he saw on the jetty, and even confiding his money to be
sent home by any chance passer-by.

The S.C.A. got permission to undertake this work and soon had an amateur
post-office in full working order. In this way thousands of letters
reached anxious friends at home which might otherwise have been delayed
for weeks. And more than this, thousands of pounds in money were
received by the workers and safely transmitted home, one regiment alone,
the King's Own Scottish Borderers, committing to the care of the S.C.A.
workers no less than £800. Large quantities of writing-material and
religious literature were also distributed amongst the troops before
they proceeded on their long and tedious journey up country.

[Footnote 1: _Our Soldiers_.]

=Work Among the Refugees.=

It will be remembered that when the war broke out the missionaries were,
with very few exceptions, compelled to leave the Transvaal. The General
Superintendent of Wesleyan Missions in the Transvaal District, the Rev.
Geo. Weavind, had been so long resident in the country as to be able to
take up his rights as a burgher. He therefore stayed to look after his
few remaining people, and four other Wesleyan missionaries remained by
special permission with him. For the rest, the missionaries were
scattered: some to Capetown, some to Durban, some to obtain
appointments as acting-chaplains, or officiating clergymen; but all of
them to work in some way or other for the Master, to whose service they
had given their lives.

At Durban, similar work was done. The Transvaal Relief Committee (a
sub-committee of the Durban Town Council Relief Committee), with the
Rev. Geo. Lowe as chairman, did splendid work among the refugees, of
whom at one time there were 21,000 in Durban alone. This relief work was
splendidly organized and most effective.

The Sisters Evelyn and Miriam, who organized much of this work, were
Wesley deaconesses employed in South Africa. Sister Evelyn Oats was
resting in England after five years' most exhausting and successful
work, but hurried back to South Africa on the first news of the outbreak
of war, and was soon hard at work among the refugees. Sister Miriam had
been employed at Johannesburg, and remained there until nearly every one
had gone, and she was left alone in the house. And then she also left
and found her way to Durban, where her nursing skill was of the utmost
value among the poor women, homeless and destitute, in the hour of their
deepest need.

The rate of relief was one shilling per day for adults, and sixpence for
each child under fourteen; and the utmost care was taken in the
distribution of the money. Funds were most generously provided, but it
was a great relief when an application for 1,500 stretcher-bearers came
from the front, and thus the congestion among the men was rendered less
severe How eagerly the poor fellows accepted the offered employment,
and the drill hall was in a few minutes crowded with those eager to go!

=Welcoming the Troops at Durban.=

At Durban also the heartiest of hearty welcomes was given to the
incoming troops. In connection with the Transvaal Relief Committee there
was a commissariat department for the purchase of bread and fruit, etc.,
and a Welcome Committee to receive the soldiers as they came.

At first the idea was only to provide bread and fruit for the men on
landing, but it was soon found, as at Capetown, that the men had letters
to post and money to send home. It was also found that the men wanted
some one to write letters for them, and this work also was undertaken,
young ladies gladly giving of their time to this work; and thousands of
friends by their assistance heard of the arrival of their dear ones at

Christmas cards were also freely given to the men, who wanted in this
way to send Christmas greetings home; and, in fact, Tommy Atkins had
hardly been so spoilt before--not even by some good ladies in
England--as he was during these eventful weeks at Durban. The letters
and messages sent home were in many cases of a most touching and tender
character, and once more Tommy Atkins proved himself to be anything but
an 'Absent-minded Beggar.'

As at Capetown, money in large sums was entrusted to the workers to
send home, and quite a large number of watches were handed over for the
same purpose. In this work ministers and members of all Churches took
part. The military authorities cleared as many difficulties as possible
out of their way, and all who took part in it found it a labour of love.

There was no time to do much direct spiritual work at either Capetown or
Durban. The troops were hurried to the front as fast as possible. But
whenever it was possible to speak a word for Christ that word was
spoken, and the kindly act was a sermon in itself.

Thus were our soldier lads welcomed by our children across the sea. And
by their kindness to our men they have forged another link in the chain
of love which binds the colonies to the homeland.

'Britannia's piccanini,' as Natal loves to call herself, has proved
worthy of the old mother; and the old mother who is making such
sacrifices for her children in South Africa will not forget that they
are striving hard to show themselves worthy of her care.

Chapter V


To Lord Methuen was given command of the Kimberley Relief Column. He had
with him the Guards, the Highland Brigade, and several of the finest
infantry regiments in Her Majesty's army. A great task was allotted to
him, but he was considered equal to any responsibility. He has been
freely criticised for his conduct of this part of the campaign. It has
been stated that he was prodigal of the lives of his men by direct
assaults when he might have accomplished his purpose by sweeping flank
movements, as Lord Roberts did afterwards. But then Lord Roberts had
cavalry, and Methuen was sadly deficient in that arm of the service; and
how to make such turning movements without sufficient cavalry, no one
yet has been able to tell. However, it is not for us to enter into any
criticism or defence of a British General.

What concerns us most for the purpose of this book, and what we rejoice
to know, is that Lord Methuen was a humble and sincere Christian, who
did all that lay in his power to further the spiritual work among his
men. What this means to a chaplain or Scripture reader at the front can
hardly be told. This we do know, that the direct assistance of the
commanding officer often makes all the difference between rich success
and comparative failure.

=Christian Work at De Aar and Orange River.=

The rallying-point for the Kimberley Relief Column was, in the first
place, De Aar, the junction where the line to Kimberley connects with
the line to Bloemfontein. In course of time, De Aar became the great
distributing centre of stores for the forces on the way to Kimberley and
Colesberg. Here the Army Service Corps held sway, and enormous were the
stores committed to their care.

But at first, as we have said, De Aar was the rallying place for our
troops, as they moved up from Capetown, and here it was that they got
their first sight of the Boers. As they placed their pickets and
sentries round the camp for the night, a Boer woman was heard to say,
'The rooineks are so afraid that their men will run away, that they have
had to put armed men round the camp to keep the others in.' That was her
way of interpreting the duties of British sentries!

Here it was that Christian work among the troops began in real earnest,
and Sergeant Oates obtained permission from the leaders of the Railway
Mission to use the Carnarvon Hall for Soldiers' Services. The colonel
heard of it and put the service in orders, so that without any
pre-arrangement on the part of the promoters, Sergeant Oates obtained
the attendance of all the Wesleyan soldiers in De Aar at the time.

By-and-by they moved up to the Orange River, 570 miles beyond Capetown.
Here they found that the station-master was a nominal Wesleyan, and he
most kindly gave them the use of his house for religious services.
Still, they were without chaplains, and what, perhaps, was, in their
opinion, quite as bad, without hymn-books! Sergeant Oates found the name
of the Rev. E. Nuttall, of Capetown, on a piece of dirty old paper in
the camp. He did not know anything about him, or even whether he was
still in Capetown, but he felt moved to write to him for those precious
hymn-books. So he read his letter to the lads, and they 'put a prayer
under the seal' and sent it off. The station-master at Belmont, who was
going '_down_,' promised to do what he could for these singing soldiers,
who were without their books, and so even in worse state than preachers
without their sermons; and, strange to say, letter, station-master, and
Rev. E.P. Lowry appeared at the Rev. E. Nuttall's house almost at the
same time! With Mr. Lowry came Mr. A. Pearce, Army Scripture Reader,
from North Camp, Aldershot. He remained at Orange River while Mr. Lowry
moved on with the Guards, to which Brigade he was attached.

By this time the troops were ready for the advance, and the chaplains
were with their men. Rev. Mr. Faulkner was the senior Church of England
chaplain. The Rev. James Robertson and the Rev. W.S. Jaffrey represented
the Presbyterians, and the Rev. E.P. Lowry was the senior Wesleyan

=The Battle of Belmont.=

And then came the battle of Belmont! From Orange River the troops had
been compelled to march, and had their first taste of the African sun in
the greatness of his strength. The legs of the kilted men were blistered
as though boiling water had been poured over them, and all but the old
campaigners in every regiment suffered acutely. Belmont was reached
after dark; the troops were without over-coats or blankets, and the
night was bitingly cold. But they lay down anywhere, glad enough to
stretch themselves upon the ground or seek the friendly shelter of a
ditch. Here they lay unmurmuringly--members of the proudest aristocracy
in the world, noblemen of ancient lineage, quite ready to sleep in a
ditch or die, for that matter, for their country.

Before two o'clock in the morning, they were aroused, and marched out to
attack the stronghold of the Boers. And nobly they performed their task.
But let a Christian soldier--our old friend Sergeant Oates--describe the

=A Sergeant's Account of the Battle.=

'On the 23rd November (Martinmas Day), we marched out early in the
morning, and at daybreak found ourselves facing the Boers in a
formidable position. All was so still during our march to this place.
While marching along, a young goat had got parted from its mother and
commenced bleating mournfully in front of us, and although I am not
superstitious, it made me feel quite uncomfortable, as it did many more.
What became of it eventually I cannot say, but I think the poor little
thing got roughly handled, if not killed.

'We were not long before we came within rifle range, and then the
bullets began to fly about our ears as we advanced towards the Boer
position. We pressed on; first one and then another kept dropping out,
and shouts of "stretcher bearer" were heard very frequently. Nothing
except death would have stopped our men that morning, so determined they
seemed. On we went, and faster and thicker the bullets came, spending
themselves in the sand at our feet. At last we reached the kopje, and
rested at the foot a short while, and then up we went. Lieutenant Brine
and myself reached the top in advance of the others. As soon as we
popped our heads over the top, five of the Northamptons popped their
heads over the other side, facing us with their rifles, at the present,
and it was hard to convince them we were friends, so excited were they.
We were not allowed to remain at peace long, for evidently some one had
spied us. Ping, ping, came the Mauser bullets; swish, swish, the
Martinis. We soon got to rather close quarters and were able to do some
good shooting. I was still close to Mr. Brine, and we had been talking
some few minutes, when some one spied him and he had two or three
narrow escapes. He moved to what he thought was a safer place, and had
about four shots, which all told. He gave me the range, and was just
taking aim a fifth time when a Martini bullet pierced his throat, and he
fell to rise no more. That was the first death I saw, and I felt
somewhat sick. Soon, however, we charged, and up went the _white flag_;
but it was the most difficult piece of work I ever saw, trying to stop
our men in the middle of a charge. However, they were stopped in time,
and instead of being killed, the remaining Boers were taken prisoners.
The battle over, we returned to camp, and then came the sad duty of
burying our fourteen dead comrades. There were not many dry eyes, but I
venture to say there were many thankful hearts.'

=Mr. Lowry's Adventure on the Veldt.=

The Rev. E.P. Lowry had a very trying experience in connection with this
battle. He had marched out with the colonel of the Grenadiers, intending
to return to camp as soon as the railway line was reached; but it was
impossible to find his way back in the darkness, and he therefore went
on with the men. Presently the bullets were whistling all around him,
and as soon as the heaviest fighting on the left was over, he busied
himself among the wounded. Feeling however, that he could do nothing
more, and that he had better be in camp to receive the wounded, he
determined to make the best of his way back. But he was wrongly
directed, and got lost on the veldt. Hour after hour he wandered about,
but could find no trace of the camp, into which he had marched in the
dark the previous night, and out of which he had marched in the dark
that same morning. His thirst consumed him, he could walk no further, he
was utterly exhausted. How many miles he had wandered he could not tell.
The din of battle had died away, and all was one unbroken stillness. He
sat down under the scanty shade of a thorn bush, and with a feeling of
intense desolation upon him made the following entry in his

     'Am now without water, without bread, and almost without hope, save
     in Jesus Christ, my Saviour, in whom now, as ever, I trust for
     everlasting life.'

He knelt down and offered up what might well have been his last prayer,
and then had a vivid impression made upon his mind that he should go in
an entirely different direction from that in which he had been
travelling. After wandering in utter weariness for some time in this
direction, he saw in the dim distance a cart moving across the veldt.
With all the strength he had left, he shouted. Presently the cart
stopped, and he saw a man dismount. Slowly he came near, covering the
poor, weary wanderer with his rifle. Who it was--Briton or Boer--Mr.
Lowry did not know and hardly did he care. It was his one chance of
life, and 'all that a man hath will he give for his life.' In his
exhausted state, the heat and fury of the battle seemed as nothing to
the intense loneliness and desolation of the veldt.

But a 'friend' drew near, for the man who so slowly came towards him
was a Rimington Scout, and he and his comrade in the cart soon carried
their chaplain to help and deliverance. They were in charge of some
battle-field loot which they were taking temporarily to a Dutchman's
house of which they had possession. Here there was a feather bed, and,
what was better still, food and drink. That same night the scouts were
ordered to Belmont, and back with them went the wandering chaplain,
still weary and faint, to carry with him as long as he lived the memory
of his awful experience upon the veldt.

They were burying the dead when Mr. Lowry returned to Belmont. The first
to fall on that fearful day had been Corporal Honey. He had given his
heart to God on the passage out, and great was the rejoicing of the
comrades who had led him to Christ that he had been able to bear a good
testimony until that fateful morning.

=At the Battle of Modder River.=

Then followed Graspan or Enslin, where the Naval Brigade suffered so
seriously; and then the fight that Lord Methuen considered the most
terrible in British history--the battle of the Modder River. For twelve
hours the battle continued. They had had a long and wearying march and
were looking forward to a good breakfast, but instead they had to go
straight into the fight, and it was twelve hours before that breakfast
came. Men who fought at Dargai and Omdurman tell us that these were mere
child's play compared with the fight of the Modder River. Hour after
hour the firing was maintained, until in many cases the ammunition was
all expended. And yet there was no relief. The pitiless rain of bullets
from the Boer fortifications continued, and it was impossible to carry
ammunition to our lads through such a fire. Our men could in many cases
neither advance nor retire, and men who had expended all their
ammunition had just to lie still--some of them for six hours--while the
bullets flew like hail just above them. To raise the head the merest
trifle from the dust meant death. Many a godless lad prayed then, who
had never prayed before, and many a forgotten vow was registered afresh
in the hour of danger.

Let Sergeant Oates again give us his experience:--

'It was a terrible battle. I had two very narrow escapes there. A tiny
splinter took a small piece of skin off the end of my chin, and another
larger one just caught my boot and glided off. It almost went through.
Again I got away unharmed. That day was a long prayer-meeting to me.
Wherever I went and whatever I did, these words were on my lips:--

    '"What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus, my Jesus.
    What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus, my Lord."

'Once and only once I grew weak, and almost wished myself wounded and
out of it all, when this text came in my mind: "The eternal God is thy
refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Oh! how ashamed I felt
that I should be so weak and faithless!

'The third day was the fiercest, and to me it was a day of prayer. Ten
long hours did the conflict last; the din was awful! The spiteful bizz
of the Remington bullet, the swish of the Martini, and the shriek of the
Mauser, coupled with the unearthly booming of the Hotchkiss quick-firer,
and the boom, roar, and bursting of the shrapnel on both sides, all this
intermingled with voices calling out orders, and shouting for
stretchers, went on until the shades of evening fell over a day which,
Lord Methuen says, has never had an equal. Yet above all this din, I was
able to hear that voice which calms our fears saying: "When thou passest
through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers they
shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt
not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." With such
promises as these, what would one not go through.

'That night, after the enemy had retired, I had to lead my company
across a ford in the Modder River. It was very dark, and I was not sure
of the way; I had crossed the river by the same ford early in the
afternoon, but it was in the thick of the battle, so I was too busy with
something else to take any notice of the road. I was cut off from my
company, and got rather anxious about it. Looking with the aid of a
match, at my text-book I found these words: "Commit thy way unto the
Lord, trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass." I was not slow
to follow this blessed advice, and within half an hour I was with my
company again, wet through and tired out. Yet, with these uncomfortable
things about me, I was able to thank God for His loving care, and now I
can write "tried and proved" against that text.'

And yet, though the fight was so terrible, the number of casualties was
singularly few, considering the character of the encounter. Lord
Methuen, however, was slightly wounded, and Colonel Stopford, of the
Coldstream Guards, was shot dead.

One of the Boer batteries was planted close to the native Wesleyan
Church, which was riddled with shot and shell from British guns intent
upon dominating the Boer position.

That night, so far as possible, the chaplains gathered their men round
them on the field, and many a homely evensong was held.

Then followed a period of quiet. There, frowning in front of them, was
the Boers' natural fortress of Magersfontein, rendered impregnable by a
wonderful series of trenches, at the extent and perfection of which they
could only guess. They knew that there must be at least one desperate
attempt to take them, if not more. But three great battles in one week
had exhausted officers and men, and it was absolutely necessary to rest.

=Fellowship and Work at the Modder.=

This was the opportunity for the Christian workers. On the march or in
the battle all that they could do was to speak a word of cheer as often
as possible. Christian soldiers could not meet for fellowship; all that
they could do was occasionally to have a hearty hand-grip or shout
'494,' as a comrade passed by. With the shout of '494' they went into
the battle, and when they came out their little Christian company was
sorely depleted. But now they had time to look round, to count up their
losses, to greet their comrades of other regiments again, to receive
fresh accessions to their ranks.

=The Soldiers' Home.=

Mr. Percy Huskisson, of the South African General Mission, quickly
secured the use of the native day school, which was also the worship
room for the Wesleyan natives, and fitted it up as a Soldiers' Home. He
and his colleague, Mr. Darroll, were indefatigable in their efforts on
behalf of the men, and night by night the newly transformed Home was
crowded. Lord Methuen himself opened it, and personally thanked the
workers for their splendid services on the field of battle. In the
course of his address, he said: 'I have heard of newspaper
correspondents risking their lives when they are well paid for it, but
you fellows seem to have no idea of danger; the shadow of the Almighty
seems over you, or you would have been, ere this, in your graves, with
many more of our brave men.' But under the shadow of the Almighty, the
workers were secure, and are secure to-day!

=Local Helpers in Good Work.=

One of the best helpers the chaplains had was Mr. Westerman, who held an
important position on the railway line, and who was steward of the
Wesleyan Church at Modder River. He had been a prisoner among the Boers
for six weeks, and on many occasions they had threatened to shoot him as
a spy. They had not, however, injured him or his property in any way. It
was, therefore, a most unfortunate occurrence that this good man's house
and furniture should have been wantonly damaged by British soldiers on
their arrival at the place. Evidently they thought the house belonged to
a Boer. An order was, of course, promptly issued stopping such wanton
destruction for the future.

Another good Christian man at Modder River was Mr. Fraser, a Scotch
Presbyterian, whose house had been most unfortunately wrecked by the
bombardment. He and Mr. Westerman met week by week, during the period of
the Boer invasion, for Christian worship. These two gentlemen rendered
splendid service to our Christian soldiers, and to them both we are
greatly indebted. Every chaplain, every scripture reader, every agent of
every society, every Christian soldier was now busily at work. The
battles had made a great impression on the men. The war had only just
begun, and they knew there were other terrible fights in store. The
sight of the dead and dying was something to which they had not yet
become accustomed. The stern reality of war was upon them, and, as Mr.
Lowry wrote, 'There are no scoffers left in Lord Methuen's camp.' Take
one instance out of many.

='After Many Days.'=

Years ago, in Gibraltar, a sergeant came to a Christian soldier, and
with words of scorn and blasphemy asserted his own independence of any
power above him. Said he: 'My heart is my own. I am independent of
everything and everybody, your God included.' The reply was a soldier's
reply, straight and to the point: 'Jack, some day you will face death,
and, who knows, I may see you, and if the stiffness does not leave your
knees before then, my name is not what it is.'

Three years passed since then--three years of prayer on his account--and
on the night of November 28, 1899, after the river had been passed, a
hand was laid on that Christian's shoulder, and a voice said: 'Joe, I
have done to-day what I have not done for thirteen years: I have offered
up a prayer, and it has been answered. I have these last few hours seen
all my life--seen it, as, I fancy, God sees it--and I have vowed, if He
will forgive me, to change my ways.'

With Christian thoughtfulness his friend did not remind him of the
incident at Gibraltar, but it was doubtless present to both minds just
then. So does war melt the hardest hearts!

=Open-air Work.=

The letters from Christian soldiers at the front are full of stories of
conversion. Again, we hear of private soldiers and non-commissioned
officers at outposts conducting parades. After Magersfontein, the
Christian influence deepened and the number of conversions increased.
By-and-by, enteric began to claim its victims, and the Home had to be
used as a fever hospital. Open-air work then became the order of the
day. Some of the Christian soldiers met between six and seven in the
evening, and marched to the camp of a regiment or battery, where they
held what they call an 'out and out' open-air meeting. Sometimes they
would get as many as a thousand listeners, and often the Word was so
powerful that there and then men decided for Christ. The Saturday
Testimony Meetings were gatherings of great power, as our soldier-lads
told to the others, who crowded round, what a great Saviour they had

=Prayer under Fire.=

Now and then the monotony of ordinary duty was broken by an engagement.
Such an interlude is pictured for us in vivid language in the following
extract from the pen of one of our Christian soldiers:--

'On January 22, my battery advanced to a position directly in front of
the hill occupied by the Boers, and almost within rifle range of their
trenches. We had no cover whatever, and they dropped shell after shell
into us for nearly two hours; and after dark we retired without a man or
horse wounded. One of our gunners was hit with a splinter on the belt,
which bruised him slightly, but did not wound him or stop the
performance of his duty. One of their shells hit one of our ammunition
wagons, and smashed part of it to matchwood. If God's mercy was not
plainly shown in this, I say men are as blind as bats, and less
civilized. During the whole of the two hours after I had taken the
range, I had to sit, kneel, or stand with my face to the foe, and watch
the Boer guns fire, then await the terrible hissing noise, next see the
dust fly mountains high just in front of me, finally press my helmet
down to prevent the segments hitting me too hard should any fall on me,
but not one touched me, though they pattered like large hailstones on a
corrugated iron roof. We amused ourselves by picking them up between
bursts. I prayed earnestly all through that battle....

'I sit and muse over the chatter of my little children many a time, and
almost reach out for them, as though they were here. They are near to my
heart, and in the precious keeping of my Saviour.'

With those last pathetic sentences we may well close this chapter. The
picture they call before us is one we are not likely to forget. The
soldier grimed with the heat and dirt of battle; shells flying round him
on every hand; Death stalking unchecked but a few yards away; and then
the vision of little children, their chatter striking upon the father's
ear in that far-off land, hands even stretched out to receive them.
Absent-minded! nay, thou soldier-poet, thou hast not got the measure of
Thomas Atkins yet. 'They are near to my heart, and in the precious
keeping of my Saviour.' Thank God for that!

    'Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away;
    In Jesus' keeping we are safe and they.'

Chapter VI


At a dinner party in 1715, in the Duke of Ormond's residence at
Richmond, the conversation happened to turn upon 'short prayers.' Among
the distinguished guests was Dr. Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, who
listened with special interest. 'I, too,' said the Bishop, 'can tell you
a short prayer I heard recently, which had been offered up by a common
soldier just before the battle of Blenheim, a better one than any of you
have yet quoted: "O God, if in this day of battle I forget Thee, do
_Thou_ not forget me."'[2]

Years have gone by. On December 10, 1899, when so many of our brave men
had to face death in South Africa, immediately before going into action
at Modder River, the gallant officer commanding the 65th Howitzer
Battery gathered his gunners around him, and offered up the very prayer
of the poor Blenheim soldier: 'Almighty God, if this day we forget Thee,
do Thou not forget us.'

[Footnote 2: This, as the reader will probably note, is but a variant of
a still older story.]

=Prayer before Battle.=

So begins a tiny booklet issued by the South African General Mission.
The picture it presents to us is one beautiful in the extreme. It
reminds us of the Covenanters of long ago. We have heard a great deal of
Boer prayer-meetings. Who is there to record for us the prayer-meetings
held in the British camp? But this artillery officer and his short
prayer will not be forgotten, and will remain as the most touching
expression of a soldier's need and a soldier's hope.

And, surely, if such a prayer as this were needed at any time, it was
before the battle of Magersfontein. All was so sudden, so unexpected! In
a moment death was upon them! All unlooked-for that deadly hail of
bullets! No time for confession of sin! No time even for a whispered
prayer! A few brief moments, and the flower of the British army lay
prone to rise no more!

It was the Highland Brigade that suffered most severely--the brigade of
which every true Britisher is so justly proud. Who that has not seen
these Highlanders march can have any idea of their perfect bearing and
splendid condition? The faultless line, the measured rising and falling
of the white gaiters, until you almost forget they are men who are
marching there, and fancy it must be the rising and falling of the crank
in some gigantic piece of machinery.

And the individual men. What splendid fellows they are! of what fine
physique, of what firm character! It is an honour, surely, to command
such men as these. And as General Wauchope marches at their head to his
death, with stern, sad face and purpose fixed, what wonder that his
heart is racked with pain, as he fears, not for himself, but for his
men. A fine Christian was Andrew Wauchope. Quiet and reserved with
regard to his religion, as most Scotchmen are, but, if we are to believe
the reports that come to us on all hands, a man who lived near to God.

=A Scotch Chaplain.=

There was another notable man with the Highland Brigade that day; and,
as there are few to tell the story of our chaplains, while there are
many to tell the story of our soldiers, we make no apology for
introducing to our readers in more than a few words one of the finest of
our chaplains--the Rev. James Robertson, of the Church of Scotland.

By the courtesy of Dr. Theodore Marshall, we cull from _St. Andrew_ the
following particulars: 'Mr. Robertson is a native of Grantown, and,
after finishing his university course at Edinburgh, was licensed by the
Presbytery of Abernethy. He is a soldier's son, and very early in his
ministry determined to devote his life to soldiers. His first military
appointment was the acting-chaplaincy at Dover. In 1885 he was
transferred to Cairo, and accompanied the Cameron Highlanders on the
march to Abri, thence on the return journey to Wady Halfa. All the way
through, the men were loud in his praises. He spared himself no toil,
cheerfully shared the men's privations and dangers, and became to them
almost more than a friend. The May _Record_ tells how Robertson was
specially reported by his Church for bringing in Lieutenant Cameron, who
had been mortally wounded in the previous December; how, in the absence
of a second doctor, he had volunteered to go out with a stretcher party
under heavy fire, and look after the wounded; and, as Lieutenant Cameron
had got hit while apart from the others, he had to be brought in at all
risks. For his services he was mentioned in despatches, and received the
medal and Khedival star.'[3]

Shortly after the close of the Egyptian War, Mr. Robertson received his
commission. He served for some time as junior chaplain in London, and
then was removed to Dublin. From Dublin he went to Edinburgh, and
remained there until he was ordered to South Africa, as a member of
General Wauchope's staff and chaplain to the Highland Brigade. In South
Africa he has greatly distinguished himself, and it goes for saying that
'Padre' Robertson, as he is affectionately called, is one of the most
honoured and best-loved men in Her Majesty's army.

We will, however, allow the head of the military work in the
Presbyterian Church (the Rev. Dr. Marshall) to tell himself of Mr.
Robertson's work in South Africa. We quote from an article published by
him in the _Home and Foreign Mission Record_:--

     'Of the work of the Rev. J. Robertson in the field, it is
     unnecessary to write, as the newspaper correspondents have referred
     so often to his bravery and splendid services. One correspondent
     writes to me: "It is no exaggeration to say that the whole of
     Methuen's army, and especially the Highland Brigade, deem his
     bravery worthy of the V.C. Everywhere, in train or camp, officers'
     mess or soldiers' tent, Padre Robertson is proclaimed a hero." I
     was pleased to notice in the _Record_ (the Church of England
     weekly), the other day, a letter from the Church of England
     chaplain who is with Lord Methuen. After describing the battle of
     Magersfontein, he refers to the Highland Brigade: "Being chiefly
     Highlanders, they were in Robertson's charge. He, good-hearted
     fellow, was risking his life in the trenches and under fire to find
     General Wauchope's body. Why he was not killed in his fearless
     efforts I cannot say." In one of the latest telegrams I see
     reference to him at the battle of Koodoosberg, whither he had
     accompanied General Macdonald and the Highland Brigade. "One
     interesting feature of the fighting was the activity of Chaplain
     Robertson. He acted in turns as a galloper, as a water-carrier, and
     as a stretcher-bearer. Wherever a ready hand was wanted, the
     chaplain was always to the fore, and won golden opinions from
     officers and men alike."

     'You must not, however, suppose Mr. Robertson's exertions are
     altogether in the field or connected with matters which lie
     outside his duty as a minister of Christ. While employed by his
     general as a despatch rider and intermediary with the Boers, and in
     many other ways in which as "non-combatant" he could be useful to
     the army, and especially to his own Highlanders, he has given his
     chief thought and work to their spiritual concerns. We have all
     noticed his name in connection with the pathetic funeral of his
     much-loved chief, General Wauchope; but for days after each of the
     battles of Modder River and Magersfontein he was busy identifying
     and burying the dead. Being, as a Presbyterian minister, a _persona
     grata_ to the Boers, he was allowed nearer to their lines than any
     one else, in the discharge of those sad duties, and conducted many
     funerals both of Boer and Briton. Speaking of his feelings in the
     field hospital and alongside the burying trench he says: "War seems
     devil's work. But all the same, war has its better side, and out of
     evil has come good. Hearts have been softened. We have frequent
     meetings of an evening. Hundreds attend. I've never been at heart
     so touched myself, nor so evangelical. I seem to hear repeated,
     'Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel.' I thank God the Gospel at
     Modder is proving in not a few cases the power of God unto

In another letter to a mutual friend, Mr. Robertson speaks of his
services on the last Sunday of the year, and as showing how deep is the
spiritual impression produced, he wished me to be informed that at the
close of the short service he asked all who desired to partake of the
Holy Communion to remain. To his joy some 250 officers and men came and
took their places at the Lord's Table. To any one who knows how
difficult it is to get soldiers to come to the Communion, that fact
speaks volumes for the extent and depth of the religious movement among
our men. They have had much to make them serious. The death of their
beloved General Wauchope and of so many of their comrades must have
greatly affected them. Mr. Robertson says, 'There is only one heart in
the Highland Brigade, and it is _sad and sore_. But good is being
brought out of evil.'

At the meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, held
this year, the Moderator said he wished to read the following letter
from Scottish soldiers at the front, which had just been put into his

     'WINBURG, _May 7th_, 1900.

     'From the warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of
     the Highland Brigade, to the Moderator of the General Assembly,
     Church of Scotland.

     'Sir,--We, the undersigned, as representatives of the regiments now
     forming the Highland Brigade at present serving in South Africa
     under General Hector Macdonald, do hereby desire to express our
     appreciation of the untiring energy and praise-worthy zeal of Major
     J. Robertson, our chaplain, not only in camp, but also on the
     field. He is invariably among the first to succour our wounded, and
     many a Scottish mother's heart will be gladdened by the knowledge
     that her lad's last moments were brightened by our chaplain's kind
     administrations. At Magersfontein, Paardeberg, and other
     engagements, he was always to be found in the firing line, with a
     cheerful word or a kindly nod of encouragement, and on many
     occasions has acted as A.D.C. to our generals. Sir, soldiers are
     proverbially bad speakers, but we venture to request that this
     short note may be read aloud on the occasion of the meeting of the
     General Assembly at Edinburgh during May, 1900.'

The letter bore twenty-five signatures, including that of the
sergeant-major and sergeants and corporals in the Black Watch, the
Highland Light Infantry, the Seaforths, and the Argyll and Sutherland

[Footnote 3: _St. Andrew_.]

=Mr. Lowry at Magersfontein.=

Such was the man whom General Wauchope chose for his companion on that
fateful day. Rumour says that the General had a presentiment that he
would be killed, and certainly he asked Mr. Robertson to keep near him,
perhaps longing for Christian society at the last. What really happened,
perhaps we shall never know with any degree of certainty. All seems to
have been confusion. Perhaps the best and most connected account that
has come to us is from the pen of the Rev. E.P. Lowry, who was present
during the battle. We quote from the _Methodist Times_:--

[Illustration: REV. E.P. LOWRY.

(From a photograph by Neale, of Bloemfontein.)]

'Our second Sunday on the Modder River commenced so peacefully that we
were actually able to carry out in detail the various arrangements
for voluntary parade services in different parts of this wide camp.
Just a little this side of the great railway bridge, that lies shattered
by dynamite, is an excellent day-school building, which Messrs.
Huskisson and Darroll, of the South African General Mission, succeeded
in requisitioning for the purposes of a Soldiers' Home, and excellent
work is being done in it, though necessarily on a small scale. Here, at
seven o'clock in the morning, my first service was held and was gracious
in its influence as well as cheering, by reason of the numbers present,
including not a few whose faces had grown familiar to me in the homeland
long, long ago. Amid the stir and strain of actual war we sang of a "day
of rest and gladness"; and turned our thoughts to the Saviour who knows
each man "by name." I then hurried back to the camp of the Guards'
Brigade for a similar service in the open air at eight o'clock; but here
a common type of confusion occurred. I had arranged to hold it in front
of the Scots Guards' camp, but in one battalion it was announced that it
would take place precisely where the Church of England service had just
been held, and in another precisely where the Roman Catholic service had
just been held. So before my service could begin, the shepherd had to
seek his sheep and the sheep their shepherd. Finally, by several
instalments, we got together, forming a circle, seated on the sand; and
then we gave ourselves to prayer and praise, followed by a brief
sacramental service of glad remembrance and renewed consecration. A camp
mug and a camp plate placed on the bare sand for table betokened a
ritual of more than primitive simplicity; but thus on the eve of battle
did a band of godly soldiers give themselves afresh to God in Christ.

'A similar open-air service was fixed for the evening, but never came
off. It may have been one of the sad necessities of war time, but was a
fact, nevertheless, deeply to be deplored, that at four o'clock on
Sunday afternoon our guns, which had been silent for a fortnight, again
opened fire and shelled the Boers with lyddite. As I listened to the
thunder and the thud of them I could not quite repress a wonder whether
that was quite the best possible way of propitiating the God of battle.
At eight o'clock, under cover of the darkness, we marched silently out
of camp, confident and strong, and bivouacked till midnight just beyond
the river. Nearly every other night since we came upon this ground had
been brightened by starlight, but on this occasion rain had fallen
during the day, and dense darkness covered us at night. So, with my
mackintosh wrapped around me, I lay for hours among the troops on the
damp ground awaiting the order to resume our midnight march. Soon after
one o'clock we were again on the move; but our only light was the
tell-tale searchlight from Kimberley, and many a vivid flash of
lightning, which only served to make the darkness visible. It was not
long, therefore, before the whole brigade hopelessly lost its way, and
had to halt by the hour, while the persistent rain drenched almost every
man, standing grimly silent, to the skin.

'Precisely at earliest dawn the splendid Highland Brigade appears to
have stumbled into a horrible snare, and in such close formation as to
render them absolutely helpless against their foes. Instantly their
general fell, mortally wounded; for a moment the whole Brigade seemed in
a double sense to have lost its head, and, in spite of the fierce and
terribly effective fire of our artillery, there followed, not indeed an
actual defeat, but none the less a grave disaster, involving further
delay in the relief of Kimberley and the loss of over 700 brave men
killed and wounded.

=War's Terrible Harvest.=

'The incoming of the wounded to the hospital camp was the most pitiful
sight my life has thus far brought me; but I scarce know which to admire
most--the patient endurance of the sufferers or the skilled devotion of
the army doctors, whose outspoken hatred of war was still more
intensified by the gruesome tasks assigned them.

'That night I slept on the floor of a captured Boer ambulance van,
fitted up as a physic shop with shelves fitted with bottles mostly
labelled poison. It was for me, even thus sheltered, a bitterly cold
night, much more for the scores of wounded who lay all night upon the
field of battle. Early next morning I buried two, the first-fruits of a
large harvest, and later on learned that among the killed was the
Marquis of Winchester, who a fortnight ago invited me to conduct the
funeral of his friend, Colonel Stopford. To-day I visited the two
graves side by side in the same war-wasted garden, and thought of the
tearful Christmas awaiting thousands in the mountains.'

=Mr. Robertson at Magersfontein.=

Add to this pathetic statement the following letter from the Rev. James
Robertson, read by Principal Story to the General Assembly of the Church
of Scotland on May 25, 1900. The letter was dated Bloemfontein, April

     'I have already buried over 400 men, killed in action or who died
     of wounds or disease; and our hospitals are full of enteric cases,
     day by day swelling the total. It goes without saying that--at
     Magersfontein especially, all alone, no one being allowed with
     me--it was terribly trying work collecting, identifying, and
     burying our dead, so many of whom were my own personal friends; but
     I experienced more than I ever did before how the hour of one's
     conscious weakness may become the hour of one's greatest strength.
     Of General Wauchope I won't write further than to say that I was
     beside him when he fell. I think he wished me to keep near him, but
     I got knocked down, and in the dark and wild confusion I was borne
     away, and did not see him again in life, though I spared no effort
     to find him, in the hope that he might be only wounded. As one of
     the correspondents wrote of him, he was a man of God, and a man
     among men--a fitting epithet. Not to mention other warm friends, in
     my own mess (General Wauchope's) there were seven of us on
     December 18; when next we sat down there were only two. We were a
     sad, a very sad, brigade, for though we tried to hide it, we took
     our losses to heart sorely; for "men of steel are men who feel."
     But out of evil came good. The depth of latent religious feeling
     that was evoked in officers and men was a revelation to me; and
     were it not that confessions, and acknowledgments, and vows were
     too sacred for repetition, I could tell a tale that would gladden
     your hearts--not that I put too much stress on what's said or done
     at such an impressionable solemnising time, but after-proof of
     sincerity has not been wanting.'[4]

[Footnote 4: _Scotsman_, May 26, 1900.]

='Prepare to meet your God!'=

A few more words may serve to complete the picture.

When all at once the Highland Brigade stumbled upon the Boer trenches,
and speedily all the officers of his company was struck down,
Colour-Sergeant McMillan (we believe a member of the Salvation Army)
found himself in charge, and, waving his arm, shouted to his men, 'Men
of A Company, prepare to meet your God! Forward! Charge!' The next
moment a bullet went through his brain, and he fell dead. But surely
that was not the time to prepare for such a dread meeting. Thank God
that _he_ was ready. We have heard him singing for Jesus in the old camp
at home, and now he is singing in heaven.

=A Christian Hero.=

Many hours passed ere the wounded could be relieved. They lay under the
fierce rays of the African sun, suffering agonies from thirst, and no
succour could reach them. At last there were those who ventured to their
help. But the wounded were many, and the helpers were few. The
water-bottles were soon exhausted, but there was one soldier who had a
few drops left. He saw two lads lying side by side in the agonies of
death. He went to the first and offered him the water still remaining in
his bottle. The dying man was parched with thirst, and he looked at the
water with a strange, sad longing, and then feebly shook his head.
'Nay,' he said, 'give it to the other lad. _I_ have the water of life,'
and he turned round to die. _That_ was Christian heroism!

But we will not linger longer over this tragic and pathetic tale.
Suffice it, all was done for the wounded that could possibly be done;
and that Christian ministers committed reverently to the earth 'until
the morning' those who fell so bravely and so suddenly at Magersfontein.

Mr. Robertson shall close the chapter for us, in words as eloquent and
as pathetic as any we have read for many years, and with his sad
_requiem_ we will let the curtain drop on the tragedy of Magersfontein.

[Illustration: REV. JAMES ROBERTSON.

(By permission of the publishers of _St. Andrew_.)]

=The Scottish Dead at Magersfontein.=[5]

     'Our dead, our dear Scottish dead! How the corpse-strewn fields of
     the Modder, Magersfontein, Koodoosberg, and Paardeberg sorrowfully
     pass before me! Let me picture the scene, sad, yet not without its
     solace to those whose near and dear ones lie buried there,
     otherwise I would not paint it or reproduce my comments thereon,
     even by request. 'Tis only a miniature, with a few details, that I
     attempt to draw. One field--nay, one corner of the field--is
     descriptive of the rest, so I lift but a little of the dark-fringed

     'Reverently, tenderly, lovingly handle them, and carefully identify
     them, for their own brave sakes, and that of the bereaved ones far
     away. There, you will find the identity card in the side-pocket.
     No, it's missing. Well, then, what's this? A letter; but the
     envelope's gone. Let me see the signature at the end. Ah, just as I
     thought, "Your loving mother!" God help her, poor body! Ah, boys,
     don't forget the dear mother in the old home. She never forgets
     you, but morning, noon, and night thinks and prays for her
     soldier-son. Mindfulness of her brings God's blessing;
     forgetfulness bitter remorse, when too late--after she's gone.
     There's something more in the breast-pocket. His parchment
     probably. No; something better still--a small copy of St. John's
     Gospel, with his name thereon. Let us hope that its presence there,
     when every extra ounce carried was a weighty consideration, is
     more than suggestive of thoughts of higher things. Pass on. No
     identity card on this body either, but another letter--a
     sweetheart's one. Oh, the poetry and pathos, the comedy and tragedy
     of love's young dream! Please see this burnt, sergeant; I don't
     wish others to read what was meant for his eye alone. Poor lassie!
     She'll feel it for a while; but Time is the great healer, and the
     young heart has wonderfully recuperative powers. There are only two
     kinds of love, men, that last till death and after--your mother's
     love and your God's--and both are yours, yearning for a return.

     'Oh, here's a sad group--seven, eight, nine, close together. Who's
     that in front? An officer. I thought as much. _Noblesse oblige_.
     Yes, I know him. Are we to bring him with the others? did you ask.
     Certainly. What more appropriate resting-place than with the men he
     so nobly led, and who so gallantly followed him--all alike faithful
     to the death, giving their life for Queen and country! Pass on.
     Here are three, one close after the other, as they moved from the
     cover of this small donga. I saw them fall, vieing with one another
     for a foremost place, for here "honour travelled in a strait so
     narrow that only one could go abreast." All three mere boys, but
     with the hearts of heroes. A book, did you say, in every one of
     their pockets? _Prayers for Soldiers_--well marked, too. My friend
     was right, dear mothers. There _is_ some comfort in the sadness--a
     gleam of sunshine showing through the gloom.

     'Ah, how thick they lie! What a deadly hail of Mausers must have
     come from that rock-ribbed clump on the kopje. Three--and--twenty
     officers and men, promiscuously blent; and fully more on that
     little rise over there, as they showed in sight. God help their
     wives and mothers, and strengthen me for this sacred duty! Nay,
     men, don't turn away to hide the rising sob and tear. I'm past
     that. I've got a new ordination in blood and tears. It's nothing to
     be ashamed of--so far the opposite, it does you honour, for "men of
     finest steel are men who keenest feel." Look at this man with the
     field-dressing in his hand, shot while necessarily exposing
     himself, trying to do what he could for a wounded comrade. Noble,
     self-sacrificing fellow! Such deeds illumine the dark page of war.
     Of a truth, some noble qualities grow under war's red rain.
     Methinks I hear the Master's voice, "Well done, good and faithful
     servant, inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these, ye did it
     unto Me." Yes! Get these two groups together; we'll make a trench
     midway. More Gospels and prayer-books, and friendly words for
     soldiers, and Christian mottoes! I thank God for that. The sight of
     them cheers me. Perhaps it should not, but it does. They knew, at
     least, of the Father's forgiving love, and in their better moments
     must have thought thereof, otherwise these books would not be there
     at such a time; and though it does not do to presume too much
     thereon, who can set a limit to God's mercy? Who can say what
     passed in those closing moments, while the life-blood was ebbing
     away? Often in the field I think of Scott's dying soldier--

        "Between the saddle and the ground,
        He mercy sought and mercy found."

     Oh, here's an officer I've been expecting to find. I knew he was
     missing, for I especially asked. He had a presentiment amounting to
     a preintimation of his coming end. In vain I argued with him. He
     calmly gave me his last messages. I've known several such. "There
     are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our
     philosophy." Thank God, when he said "the hour of my departure's
     come," he was able to add, "I hear the voice that calls me _home_"
     and "is the traveller sad," he asked, "when his face is turned

     'Who's that you've got next? Oh, I know him well. We rejoiced
     together. Come here, all of you, and look on his face. I'm not to
     preach, boys--we have other work to do--but I wish you to lay his
     case to heart. Some of you know him. You know the stand he took at
     one of our meetings at the Modder River station, and what proof he
     afterwards gave of the sincerity of his profession. Look at his
     face. What a sweet, peaceful expression--what a contrast to his
     surroundings! Death swift and sudden, in the horrid din of battle
     stript of all its terrors. As earth's light faded he must have got
     a glimpse of the glory beyond, for it's reflected in his face.
     That's what Christ can do, and came to do, for a man.

     'Sergeant, get some of the handiest of the men to break up these
     empty ammunition-boxes and construct a rude cross for the trench.
     It's the most appropriate "memorial." It signifies self-sacrifice,
     and did they not, "obedient unto death," give their lives for
     others; it indicates the cheering hope in which we lay them to
     rest. By-and-by, we will erect something more permanent, and place
     a fence around, for 'tis holy ground, consecrated by tearful prayer
     and by the very fact that the remains of brave men mingle there.
     Scotland to-day is poorer in men, but richer in heroes?

        "Saviour, in Thy gracious keeping,
        Leave we now our loved ones sleeping."'

[Footnote 5: _St. Andrew_, June 7, 1900.]

Chapter VII


It will be a relief to turn from this sad record and give a sketch of
Thomas Atkins upon the veldt as he appears to Christian workers. Nowhere
else have we been able to see him apart from the fierce temptations
which particularly assail him. Untrained, except in so far as military
discipline is concerned, he is a child of nature, and nature not always
of the best.

But the South African veldt has witnessed the remarkable spectacle of a
sober army. No intoxicating drink was to be got, and the cup that cheers
but not inebriates has been Tommy's only stimulant.

A further fact must be borne in mind. War has a sobering effect even
among the most reckless. A man is face to face with eternal things, and
though after a little while the influence of this to some extent passes
off, and either an unhealthy excitement or an equally unhealthy
callousness takes its place, it never wholly goes, and any serious
battle suffices to bring the man to his senses again.

=The Soldier's Temptations.=

The consequence of these things has been that we have seen the soldier
at his best in South Africa--and that best has often been of a very high
order. It is no kindness to him to make light of his vices, and they
have been sufficiently pronounced even there.

We are afraid, to begin with, that we must confess to an army of
swearers. It seems natural to the soldier to swear. He intersperses his
conversation with words and phrases altogether unmeaning and anything
but elegant. It is his habit so to do, and even the Christian soldier
who has belonged to this swearing set often finds it a great difficulty
to break away from his old habits.

='Old Praise the Lord.'=

An amusing and pathetic instance of this comes to our mind. A soldier
who worked at the forge was soundly converted to God, and as usual had
to go through the ordinary course of persecution. It was astonishing how
many pieces of iron fell upon his feet, and how often a rod was thrust
into his back! At such occurrences prior to his conversion he would have
sworn dreadfully, and he had to guard himself with the greatest care
lest some ungodly word should escape his lips. And so when any extra
cruelty in the shape of a red-hot piece of iron came too near, or a
heavy weight was dropped upon his toes, he used to cry, 'Praise the
Lord.' 'Old Praise the Lord' they called him, and truly he often had
sufficient reason for some such exclamation. He came to the Soldiers'
Fellowship Meeting one night, and told how he had been tested to the
limit. He had taken his money out of the Savings Bank, and locked it in
his box; but the box had been broken open, and the money taken away. He
stood and looked at it, hands clenched, teeth set. For a moment the fire
of anger flashed in his eyes, and words that belonged only to the long
ago sprang to his lips. A year's savings had gone. The promised trip to
the old home could not be taken. And a vision of the old mother waiting
for her boy, and waiting in vain, brought a big lump in his throat which
it was difficult to choke down. The lads stood and looked at him. What
would he do? And then that strange fire died out of his eyes, and his
hands relaxed their grasp, and with the light of love shining out from
his face he said, 'Praise the Lord,' and came into the meeting to tell
how God was flooding his soul with His love.

But the number of such as he in comparison with those who still pollute
the air with their oaths is small indeed, and we have sorrowfully to
admit that ours has been a swearing army upon the veldt.

Gambling, too, has been very rife, and if there was a penny to spin
Tommy would spin it. This, of course, is not by any means true of all
regiments, and as one of French's cavalry naïvely put it, 'You see, sir,
we had not even time to gamble!'

There are some brutes even among our British soldiers, and sad stories
reach us of men who have robbed the sick in hospital, and stripped the
dead upon the battlefield. But swearing and gambling apart, and these
horrible exceptions left out of the reckoning, what noble fellows our
soldiers have proved themselves!

=The Patience of our Soldiers.=

Their patience has been wonderful. We have all heard of the _patient_
ox, and away there on the veldt he has patiently toiled at his yoke
until he has laid down and died. But the patience of the private soldier
has exceeded the patience of the ox. He has undergone some of the
severest marches in history. He has endured privations such as we can
hardly imagine. He has lain wounded upon the veldt sometimes for three
or, at any rate in one case, for four days. He has in his wounded state
borne the terrible jolting of the ox-waggon day after day. If you talk
to him about it, he will not complain of any one, but will make light of
all his dreadful sufferings and merely remark that you cannot expect to
be comfortable in time of war!

And how much he has endured! The difficulties of transport have made it
impossible for him to receive more than half rations, and sometimes not
more than a quarter rations for days together. On the march to
Kimberley, for instance, General French's troops for four days had
nothing to eat but what they could pick upon the hungry veldt. Stealing
has been abolished in South Africa--it is all commandeering now!

'Where did you get that chicken, my lad?' asks the officer in angry

'Commandeered it, sir,' says Tommy, and the officer is appeased.

And there was plenty of commandeering done during that dreadful march,
or the men would have died of starvation. A strange spectacle he must
have presented as he rode along. His kettle slung across his saddle, a
bundle of sticks somewhere else, a packet of Quaker oats fastened to his
belt, and a tin of golden syrup dangling from it. These he had provided
for himself from the last dry canteen he had visited, and often even
these could not be obtained.

What stories are told us of sticks and Quaker oats! They say that when
the troops started with Sir Redvers Buller from Colenso each man had his
bundle of sticks and a packet of Quaker oats fastened somewhere upon
him. His canteen was as black as coal, but that did not matter. And if
he had his sticks and his Quaker oats, and could manage to get a little
'water' that was not more than usually khaki-coloured, he was a happy
man. So as he marched along he was always on the look-out for sticks and
water. The two together furnished him with all things necessary: the
sticks soon made the water boil, and the Quaker oats made--tea!

=The Men in Khaki.=

As regards dress he was a picture! He started khaki-clad, and no one
could tell one regiment from another, but he was only allowed to take
the suit he wore to the front, and before long, what with marching and
sandstorms and fighting, that suit became unrecognisable as a suit. Bit
by bit it went. Tailors of the most amateur description plied their
needles and thread upon it in vain. It went! and Tommy's distress
occasionally knew no bounds. We hear of one man who at last marched into
Ladysmith with two coat sleeves but no coat; of another with not a bit
of khaki about him, but garments of one sort and another 'commandeered'
as he went along. One of the facts that impressed them most as they
marched into Ladysmith was that the garrison were clean and neatly
dressed in khaki, but that _they_--bearded, dirty, ragged--looked rather
the rescued than the rescuers!

Mr. Lowry tells how when at last he determined to have his khaki suit
washed, and retired to his tent to wait the arrival of his clothes from
the amateur laundry on the banks of the Modder, it seemed as though they
would never come, and he was fearful lest the order to advance should
arrive before his one suit returned from the wash!

But through it all our men kept cheerful. One Christian man who had
earned among his comrades the nickname of 'Smiler,' and who was wounded,
signs himself, 'Still smiling, with a hole in my back.' And this was
typical of all. During that dreadful march to overtake Cronje, the
officers of the Guards had as their mess-table on one occasion a
rectangular ditch about eighteen inches wide and as many deep. It was
dug so as to enclose an oblong piece of ground about sixteen feet by
eight, which, flattened as much as possible, served as table. At this
earth table, with their feet in the muddy ditch, sat several
representatives of England's nobility, but as our soldier lad said,
'Still smiling.' When the rain came down and deluged both officers and
men, and sleep was impossible, tentless on the veldt and seated in the
mud, the men hour after hour sang defiance to the storm.

How kind they were to one another! How brave to save a fallen comrade or
officer! One of our chaplains relates that in the advance to Ladysmith
an officer was struck down and could not be moved. When the regiment
retired, and his men knew their officer would have to stay there during
the night, four of them elected to remain, and one of them lay at his
head, another at his feet, and one on each side to shield him from the
Boer bullets which were flying around.

But we must not be tempted into stories such as these. They abound, and
if the Victoria Cross could be given wherever it was deserved, the sight
of it upon the breast would be common indeed!

=Their Dread of the 'Pom-pom.'=

Of one thing, however, our men were afraid--the dreaded 'pom-pom' of the
Boers. Some two hundred one-pound shells a minute these Vickers-Maxim
guns are supposed to fire. But as a matter of fact we are told the
number rarely reached a score. Still the dull pom-pom-pom of the gun,
with the knowledge that shell after shell was coming, always made Tommy
shake; and when he got to the camp fire at night, one man would say to
another, 'I cannot get used to it. It frightens me nearly out of my

=The Christian under Fire.=

We have asked many of our Christian soldiers how they felt when they
went into fire. All sorts of answers have been given. Most have
confessed to a nervous tremor at first. Said a lance-corporal of the
12th Lancers: 'The worst time I ever had was when we were relieving
Kimberley. There were Boers in front of us and Boers on our flank. We
rode through a perfect hail of bullets. At first I wondered if I should
get through it, and then I became utterly oblivious of shells and
bullets. I rode steadily on, and the only thing that concerned me as we
rode right for the Boer position was to keep my horse out of the ruts.'

Perhaps this is the general experience. No thought of turning back, no
particular fear, no great exultation, simply a keeping straight on. No
wonder from before such a wall of determination the Boers fled for their

The soldier's great complaint is that he has been kept ill-informed of
the progress of events. He has simply been a pawn on the chess-board, or
a cog in the great wheel. And he laments that often at the end of a long
day's march or fighting he lies down to rest in his wet ragged clothes,
not knowing where he is or whether he has accomplished little or much.

This is inevitable, of course, and the officers themselves were, in
many cases, but little better informed. But one and all have implicit
faith in their generals, and those who added to that faith implicit
trust in God could after the most trying days lie down and rest in
perfect peace. Even at his worst the British soldier is capable of
better things, and out there upon the veldt he has many a time thought
of God, and wondered what possibilities for good there were within him.
Going to the front has made a _new_ man of Tommy. It remains to be seen
whether in the easier times of peace the _old_ man will come back.

Chapter VIII


The advent of that splendid Christian soldier, Field-Marshal Lord
Roberts of Kandahar, put an entirely different face upon the war. He
came with a heavy sorrow resting upon him. His son had been struck down
at the front, earning, however, the Victoria Cross by a conspicuous act
of bravery before he died. He himself had by long service earned the
right to rest upon his laurels. He was an old man, but at the call of
duty he cheerfully left home and friends, and, with heart sore at his
great loss, went out to win for England the victory in South Africa. His
first thought was to send for Lord Kitchener, and when these two men
landed in South Africa England knew that all things possible would be

And surely their task was great. England's prestige had suffered
severely. Lord Methuen had fought at Belmont, Graspan, Modder River and
Magersfontein, but the enemy's entrenchments were apparently as strong
as ever and Kimberley as far off.

On the other side of the field of operations Sir Redvers Buller was
confronted with insurmountable obstacles, and his forces seemed
altogether inadequate for the task before him. Gallant little Mafeking
was holding out, but with no hope of speedy relief. How Lord Roberts'
advent changed all this in a few brief weeks the country knows right

=Lord Roberts Issues a Prayer for Use in the Army.=

Perhaps the most remarkable fact in the history of this or any war is
that a few days after landing in South Africa Lord Roberts issued a
prayer for the use of the troops. Many army orders have been issued
which have stirred the blood and fired the heroism of the British
soldier as he has gone forth to fight for his country or has returned
triumphant from the field.

'When on the eve of Trafalgar the signal floated out from the mast-head
of the _Victory_, "England expects every man to do his duty," it told of
the exalted courage of the hero who was about to fight his last fight
and win his last victory. It kindled a like courage in every man who
read it, and it ever after became a living word, a voice that is heard
everywhere, an inspiration to our race.

'But an army encouraged to pray, an army order in which the
commander-in-chief hopes that "a prayer may be helpful to all her
Majesty's soldiers now serving in South Africa"! And doubtless many of
our comrades have so used the prayer that now they know all the
blessings of pardon, purity, power and comfort which it teaches them to
ask of God.'[6]


     'ARMY HEADQUARTERS, CAPE TOWN, _January 23rd_.

     'DEAR SIR,--I am desired by Lord Roberts to ask you to be so kind
     as to distribute to all ranks under your command the "Short Prayer
     for the use of Soldiers in the Field," by the Primate of Ireland,
     copies of which I now forward.

     'His Lordship earnestly hopes that it may be helpful to all of her
     Majesty's soldiers who are now serving in South Africa.

     'Yours faithfully,

     'NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN, Colonel, Private Secretary.

     'To the Commanding Officer.'


     'Almighty Father, I have often sinned against Thee. O wash me in
     the precious blood of the Lamb of God. Fill me with Thy Holy
     Spirit, that I may lead a new life. Spare me to see again those
     whom I love at home, or fit me for Thy presence in peace.

     'Strengthen us to quit ourselves like men in our right and just
     cause. Keep us faithful unto death, calm in danger, patient in
     suffering, merciful as well as brave, true to our Queen, our
     country, and our colours.

     'If it be Thy will, enable us to win victory for England, and above
     all grant us the better victory over temptation and sin, over life
     and death, that we may be more than conquerors through Him who
     loved us, and laid down His life for us, Jesus our Saviour, the
     Captain of the Army of God. Amen.'

We venture to speak of the issue of this beautiful prayer as the most
notable fact in the history of the war. We do not remember that anything
of the kind has ever been done before. It testifies to the personal
trust of the British general in God, it takes for granted that ours was
a righteous cause, and it recognises the fact that above the throne
which we all reverence and respect there is another throne--the throne
of God.

[Footnote 6: _Army and Navy Messenger_, April, 1900.]

=The Christian Influence of Lord Roberts.=

Lord Roberts had been for years the idol of the troops. It was touching
to hear our Christian soldiers at Aldershot pray for 'dear Lord
Roberts,' or familiarly speak of him as 'our Bobs.' All their fears went
when they knew he was going to the front, and they were ready to follow
him anywhere. Moreover, the Christian soldiers always remember that he
was the founder of the 'Army Temperance Association,' which has become
such a power for good all over the world.

He is a gentle, lovable man. The story is told that soon after the entry
of the troops into Pretoria Lord Roberts was missing, and when at last
he was discovered he was sitting in a humble room with two little
children upon his knees. The officer who found him apologised for
intruding, but said that important business required attention. Lord
Roberts merely looked up smiling and said, 'Don't you see I am engaged?'

But Lord Roberts is not only a Christian man, he is a great soldier.
This is what concerns the country most; only in his kindliness and
Christianity we have the assurance that he will never unnecessarily
sacrifice life, and that he will enter upon no enterprise upon which he
cannot ask the blessing of God. To our chaplains and other Christian
workers his sympathy and help have been invaluable.

It is outside the purpose of this book to follow the general in his
movements, or to discuss the scheme which turned the victorious Cronje
into a vanquished and captured foe. Suffice it to say that that great
flanking movement--perhaps the greatest on record--has won the
admiration of all military critics, and, brilliantly conceived, was as
brilliantly carried out.

There was a stir at the Modder River for some little time before the
actual advance took place. Lord Roberts had come and gone. Various
little attacks on some part of the enemy's position--some real, some
only feints--had taken place. Every one wondered, none knew what would
be the next order of the day. For two months they had been waiting at
the Modder River, and they were heartily tired of their inaction. Even
the shells from Magersfontein, which had fallen every day but Christmas
Day, had become a part of the daily monotony. It had been a glorious
time for Christian workers, and that was all that could be said.

But even the Christians were longing for an advance. By-and-by came the
summons to the cavalry, and off they went, not knowing whether it was
for an ordinary reconnaissance or for something more serious, and little
dreaming what they would be called upon to do. For them until
Bloemfontein was reached all definite Christian work was at an end. All
that the Christians could do was to get together for a short time among
the rocks, when the long day's work was done, to talk and pray. And yet
these cavalry men look back upon those few moments snatched from sleep
as among the most precious in the whole war. They had been in the saddle
for many hours at a stretch; on one occasion at any rate the saddles had
not been taken off the horses for thirty-six hours.

=Religious Meetings while on the March.=

It seemed as though General French would never tire. He rode on far
ahead of his men--stern, taciturn, resolved--as they rushed across the
veldt to Kimberley, or hastened to the doom of Cronje. Our soldiers did
their best to follow, and did so till their horses dropped dying or dead
upon the veldt. It says much for their Christian enthusiasm that after
such days as these, and knowing that only two or three hours' sleep was
before them, they should step out of the lines and meet behind some rock
to pray. They talked of the old home, of Aldershot, of Sergeant-Major
Moss and his class. They pictured to themselves what we should all be
doing at home, and then they knelt in prayer. Very touching were those
prayers, very sweet that Christian intercourse. Its precious memory is
cherished still. And then they would sing a verse--one of the soldiers'

    'Some one will enter the pearly gate,
        By-and-by, by-and-by;
    Taste of the glories that there await--
        Shall you, shall I?'

Or may be that soldiers' favourite _par excellence_ would be rung
out--the 'Six further on,' of which they all speak:--

    'Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
    Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.'

And then a verse of 494:--

    'God be with you till we meet again.'

And then back to the lines for rest and sleep. 'Good-night, Jim.'
'Good-night, my boy.' '494.' 'Aye! and "Six further on."' And so they
part. A delightful picture! a sad one too! Who knows whether they will
ever meet on earth again?

=The March to Paardeberg.=

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Feb. 17, 1900, the Guards had been suddenly
ordered to follow the cavalry from Modder River. At the mess that
evening the chaplains had been positively assured by the officers
present that there would be no move until Wednesday at the earliest.
Little they knew what was in the mind of the great general! But late at
night the summons came, and within two hours the whole brigade of
Guards, suddenly roused out of sleep and called in from outpost duty,
were marching out into the darkness. Whither they did not know. They
took with them neither blanket nor overcoat, but, as their chaplain
says, 'only an ample store of pluck and smokeless powder.' They did not
stop till they had covered about twenty miles, and before their
destination was reached hardly a man of them fell out. They too were
part of the great movement--a movement that would continue until they
marched into Bloemfontein with Lord Roberts.

=The Chaplains on the March.=

The chaplains were not allowed to accompany them. They followed with the
doctors and the baggage. Whether they were considered impedimenta or not
they hardly knew. Certainly their work was over for a short time, to be
renewed all too soon when the first batch of wounded came down from the
ever-advancing front.

So the senior Church of England chaplain and the senior Wesleyan
chaplain trudged off side by side, and marched steadily through the
night until, about sunrise, they set foot for the first time since they
had landed in South Africa on hostile soil. A few miles further on they
passed a deserted Boer camp, and among the _débris_ strewing the floor
of a farm-house found two English Bibles.

About nine o'clock in the morning Jacobsdal was reached. In England it
would be called a village, for it had only seven hundred inhabitants;
but it was quite an important town in those parts.

Here a halt was called and a few hours' rest permitted. Mr. Lowry
climbed into a captured Boer ambulance, and found lying on the floor of
it a Dutch Reformed minister, the Rev. T.N. Fick, who had been General
Cronje's chaplain, and who only the night before had joined in the
general flight from Magersfontein. These two, both ministers of the
Gospel, had been for two months on different sides of the famous kopje.
One had been praying for the success of the Boer arms and the other for
the success of the English! And yet here they lay side by side in
amicable Christian converse. Strange are the ways of war!

But though the chaplains were denied the privilege of proceeding to the
front with the soldiers, two Christian workers at any rate--we have not
heard of more--managed to secure that privilege. By the kindness of Lord
Methuen, and as a token of his appreciation of their efforts for the
men, Mr. Percy Huskisson and Mr. Darroll, of the South African General
Mission, were attached to the Bearer Company of the Highland Brigade.
'On Monday, February 12th, they went out, not knowing whither they were
going. Their luggage was limited to changes of socks and shirts and
rugs, but at the last moment they managed to get permission to take a
little box of food also. At about five o'clock on Monday afternoon they
entrained in open trucks, which were shared alike by officers and men;
at about eleven o'clock at night they got out at Enslin, and slept on
the veldt surrounded by horses, oxen, and mules. At four in the morning
the whole camp was astir, and by half-past seven the entire force was on
the march.'[7]

Then followed the capture of the British convoy, consisting of some two
hundred waggons, and meaning to our army the loss of about a million
pounds of food. Every one was put on quarter rations, consisting of a
biscuit and a half a day and half a tin of 'bully' beef. On such a food
supply as this were our troops expected to perform their terrible march.
Until they passed Jacobsdal they thought they were going to the relief
of Kimberley, but all unknown to them General French's cavalry had
already performed that feat, and the direction of their march was
changed. It was theirs to follow in pursuit of Cronje instead. In one
terrible twenty-four hours they marched thirty-eight miles, and on
Sunday morning, February 18th, they reached Paardeberg. Thoroughly
exhausted, the men flung themselves upon the ground to sleep, but after
two or three hours the artillery fire roused them from their slumbers
and the order came to advance. There was no time for breakfast, and from
five o'clock in the morning until late at night they had to go without

The battle of Paardeberg is not likely to be forgotten by any of those
who were engaged in it. The Boers commanded the left of the Highland
Brigade, and as it advanced on level ground, and destitute of cover, it
was exposed to a terrible fire.

Messrs. Huskisson and Darroll went into the firing line with the
Highlanders. Men fell on all sides of them, and they had numberless
chances of helping the wounded. Of course they had many hairbreadth
escapes during this awful day, but they were abundantly rewarded by the
privilege of straight talk and prayer with the wounded men, who were
thankful indeed for such ministrations as they could offer.

[Footnote 7: _The Surrounding of Cronje_.]

=Relief of the Wounded at Paardeberg.=

We venture to quote a few paragraphs from a little booklet published by
the South African General Mission, entitled _The Surrounding of Cronje_.
It sets forth in vivid language the heroic work done by these two in the
midst of the heat and fury of the battle, and Christian men in all
churches will honour the brave men who fought so nobly for God in the
interests of those who were fighting so nobly for their country.

     'During the day, as Mr. Huskisson was helping a wounded man back to
     the hospital, he had a very narrow shave of being shot. The wounded
     man had his arm round Mr. Huskisson's neck for support, and as
     they were walking back to the rear a Mauser bullet shot off the tip
     of the man's finger, as it was resting on Mr. Huskisson's shoulder.
     Had there not been the weight of the man's arm to depress the body
     this would have resulted in a nasty wound in the shoulder. At
     another time the case of field glasses hanging by his side was hit
     by a bullet.

     'Our workers could often see that they were specially aimed at by
     the Boers, as the moment they raised their heads a small volley of
     bullets would fly all around them. Sometimes they had to lie down
     for long periods, on account of this. At one stage of the battle,
     one of our men was lying down behind a tree, and a sharpshooter was
     perched in another tree. If even the foot was moved an inch or two
     beyond the tree a bullet would come with a "ping," and a little
     puff of dust would show how keenly every movement was watched.

=Singing though Wounded.=

     'While helping one wounded man, Mr. Huskisson heard his name called
     out, and looking round, saw the face of one of the men who had been
     converted in our Soldiers' Home at Wynberg, some years ago. Going
     up to the lad he said:--

     '"Are you wounded?"

     '"Yes," said the man, "but praise God it is not in my head."

     'A bullet had gone right through the back of his neck, and though
     he was bleeding profusely he was humming a chorus to himself.

     'Later on a Major came up and said to Mr. Huskisson--"Do you know
     that lad?"

     'On hearing that he did, the Major said, "He is the most chirpy man
     that has been in the dressing-room to-day; he was brought in
     singing a hymn."

     'When Mr. Huskisson turned away from him, he left him still humming
     one of our favourite choruses; and an unconverted man was heard to
     say later on, "A chap coming in like that to the dressing-room does
     more good than anything else, as he keeps the fellows' spirits up

     'There were, of course, many terribly sad sights--enough to make
     our men feel as if war could hardly ever be justifiable. One poor
     Highlander was lying dying, and on our men asking him if he knew
     God, received no answer; but on repeating the question the dying
     man said that he did once, but he had evidently grown cold in his
     love to Christ. It was _such_ a cheer to be able to point out, that
     though his feelings towards God had changed, _yet God's feelings
     and love toward him had not changed!_'

Events like these differentiate this war from many other wars. They are
an eloquent testimony to the force of Christianity. They disclose the
power of a supreme affection towards Christ. They declare that the most
toilsome duty can be transformed by love into the most blessed
privilege. They show that there is no compulsion but the compulsion of
love in the Christian workers' orders, so often sung,--

    'Where duty calls, or danger,
      Be never wanting there.'

=The Chaplains at Work.=

And now came the chaplains' work! It is not in the firing line that war
seems the most dreadful. It is when the wounded are gathered from the
field, and the results of the battle are seen in all their ghastliness.
And in this case the wounded could not be tended where they were. It was
onward, ever onward, with our men. Only two hospitals, instead of at
least ten--the number the doctors thought necessary--had been sent to
the front, and the wounded must be got back to base hospitals as quickly
as possible.

Back they came, a ghastly procession, in heavy, lumbersome ox-waggons,
with no cover from the sun or rain. Oh! the terrible jolting; oh! the
screams of agony. 'Better kill us right out,' cried the men, 'than make
us endure any more!'

It is not for us to say that all this was unnecessary. It is for others
to judge. You cannot conduct war in picnic fashion. The country ought to
know its horrors and get its fill of them. But we will not attempt the
description. Already others have done that. Suffice it to say that the
baggage camp, in which were the chaplains and some of the doctors,
seemed an oasis in the desert to these agonized travellers.

The day for parade services had gone by, and all days were now the same;
but there was other work the chaplains could do, and this they attempted
to the best of their ability.


The Rev. E.P. Lowry wrote:--

     'Yesterday a long convoy arrived bearing over 700 sick and wounded
     men. They were brought, for the most part, over the rough roads in
     open waggons (captured from the Boers) from the fatal front, where
     days before they had been stricken more or less severely. They
     still had a long journey before them, and it so happened that they
     set out from here in the midst of a thunderstorm; but as I passed
     from one waggon to another I found them bearing their miseries as
     only brave men could. About 300 of them belonged to the unfortunate
     Highland Brigade. One of these had been shot through the wrist of
     his left hand at Magersfontein, and he was now returning shot
     through the wrist of his right hand. The next, said he, with
     gruesome playfulness, will be through the head. Corporal Evans, of
     the Gloucesters--one of two brothers whose name is much honoured at
     Aldershot--I found in the midst of this huge convoy stricken with
     dysentery. The Cornwalls seemed to have suffered almost as heavily
     in proportion as the Highlanders, and it was to me no small
     privilege to be permitted to speak a word of Christian solace and
     good cheer to men from my own county.

=The Wounded Canadians.=

     'But I was struck most of all by the number of noble-looking
     Canadians among this big batch of wounded soldiers, all of them
     proudly glorying in being permitted to serve and suffer in the name
     of so great a Queen and in defence of so glorious an Empire. Among
     them I found Colour-Sergeant Thompson, the son of one of our
     American Methodist ministers, Rev. James Thompson. Resting against
     the inner side of a waggon-wheel was a most gentlemanly Canadian,
     shot through the throat, and quite unable to swallow any solids. To
     him, as to several others, I was privileged to carry a large cup of
     life-renewing milk. Lying on another waggon was a middle-aged
     Canadian, shot through the mouth, and apparently unable at present
     to swallow anything without pain; but he begged me, if possible, to
     buy for him some cigarettes, that he might have the solace of a
     smoke. But there is nothing of any kind on sale within miles of
     this camp. Yet the cigarette, however, was not long sought in vain;
     and a word of Christian greeting was made none the less welcome by
     the gift. Lying by this man's side was a wounded French-Canadian,
     who could scarcely speak in English, but had come from far to
     defend the Empire which claimed him also as its loyal son; and yet
     another sufferer told me that he had come from Vancouver, a
     distance of 11,000 miles, to risk, or, if needs be, to lay down his
     life for her who is his Queen as well as ours. As in the name of
     the Motherland I thanked these men for thus rallying around our
     common flag in the hour of peril, and tenderly urged them to be as
     loyal to the Christ as to their Queen, the meaning look and hearty
     hand-grip spoke more eloquently to me than any words. In almost
     every case the responsive heart was there. Of these Canadians--the
     first contingent--our generals speak in terms of highest praise;
     but already some twenty have been killed and nearly seventy
     severely wounded. The Dominion mourns to-day her heroic dead as we
     mourn ours. They sleep side by side beneath these burning sands;
     but thus are forged the more than golden chains which bind the
     hearts of a widely-sundered race to the common throne around which
     we all are rallying.'[8]

The scene here depicted is one which must be imagined not once but many
times during that terrible march from the Modder to Bloemfontein. It
tells in simple but eloquent language how Christian kindliness tried to
assuage human woe.

[Footnote 8: _Methodist Times_.]

Chapter IX


The siege of Kimberley began on Sunday, October 15, 1899, and continued
until Thursday, February 15, 1900. It was somewhat unexpected, for
although so near the border it was hardly expected that the Boers would
invade British territory. In fact, so little did the military
authorities at Cape Town anticipate a siege that it was with great
difficulty the Kimberley inhabitants secured any military assistance. On
September 21, however, a detachment of 500 men of the Loyal Lancashires,
Royal Artillery, and Royal Engineers, under the command of
Lieutenant-Colonel Kekewich, put in an appearance. These were the only
regular troops in the town, and but a handful in face of the Boers
gathering on the frontier.

There were, of course, local volunteer regiments--the Kimberley Rifles,
the Diamond Fields Artillery, and the Diamond Fields Horse--and there
were also about 400 men of the Cape Mounted Police. But what were these
to guard the treasures of the Diamond City and its population of 50,000

=The Defence of Kimberley.=

It was evident that Kimberley must set to work to defend itself, and
that it did right nobly. A town guard was formed consisting of about
2,500 men, but they were men of all sorts and conditions. Never was
there a happier or a more ill-assorted family! A director of De Beers
side by side with a needy adventurer; a millionaire shoulder to shoulder
with a beggar! There they were! all sorts and conditions of men, but all
animated by one great purpose--to keep the flag flying.

By-and-by the lack of cavalry was severely felt, and Mr. Cecil Rhodes,
resourceful as ever, brought up some 800 horses, and the Kimberley Light
Horse--now a famous regiment--came into being. The command of it was
given to Colonel Scott-Turner, and it was composed of the best riders
and keenest shots that could be found. Plenty of these were fortunately
available and they greatly distinguished themselves.

No one thought of surrender, and when the length of the siege drew into
weeks and from weeks into months, and food ran short and water was cut
off, they still kept cheerful. They knew they were practically safe from
assault. Surrounding the town is a belt of level country some six miles
wide, and they felt certain the Boers dare not cross this belt and face
the fire that would be poured into them from the huge cinder heaps which
had been transformed into forts.

By-and-by the number of shells dropped into the town increased rapidly.
New and more powerful guns were brought to bear upon it, and no man's
life was safe. They did their best to reply, and actually, under the
direction of Mr. George Abrams (chief engineer of De Beers), they
manufactured a 30-pounder gun called 'Long Cecil,' which proved
effective at a range of 10,000 yards. Unfortunately, Mr. Abrams was
himself killed by a shell not long after he had completed this great

From time to time sorties were carried out, and in the boldest of them
all, when the Kimberley men got so near that they could look down their
enemy's guns, Colonel Scott-Turner was killed.

=Perils of the Siege.=

But notwithstanding all they could do the enemy's attack grew fiercer.
It is estimated that between three and four thousand shells fell in
Kimberley during the siege, and the destruction wrought by these was
very great. Most of the churches suffered seriously. Many women and
children lost their lives. If there was any special function of any kind
in progress the Boers were almost sure to know about it and give it
their marked attention.

Bugle calls, taken up and repeated through the town, warned the people
of coming shells, and then they knew they had only fifteen seconds to
reach some place of shelter. Bomb-proof shelters were improvised, caves
were dug by the side of houses, and into these the inhabitants ran,
with more speed than ceremony, when those bugle notes were heard.

It was, however, felt unsafe to allow the women and children to remain
longer in the town, and by the kindness of the De Beers Company they
were lowered into the mines, and there for a full week they lived. Among
the rest the families of the Baptist and Wesleyan ministers were lowered
there. It happened that these two reverend gentlemen met in the street
shortly after the descent of their families, and on parting the Baptist
said to the Methodist--all unconscious of the suggestiveness of his
statement--'Good-bye, my friend; we shall soon meet again either above
or below!'

It was no laughing matter, however, to the thousands of women and
children living day and night in the mine tunnels some eight or twelve
thousand feet below the surface. Theirs was a pitiable condition, and
how much longer they could have held out had not help come it is
difficult to say.

All this time the Kimberley searchlight was night by night searching the
neighbourhood lest any Boers under cover of the darkness should approach
the town; and for most of the time, by heliograph or searchlight, the
authorities were in communication with Lord Methuen on the other side of
those forbidding kopjes. And yet help came not, and the situation was
becoming desperate.

=Various Forms of Christian Work during the Siege.=

In the first place refugee relief work was attempted and successfully
carried out. Large numbers had fled for refuge to Kimberley when war was
declared, and many of these were penniless. A fund of some £3,000 was
raised, and a committee composed of all the ministers of the town
carried out the work of relief. Throughout the siege all the ordinary
services with one or two exceptions were maintained, and though the men
for the most part were on duty, yet the congregations were remarkably
good and the men were present whenever they could get away.

The Wesleyan Church has eight churches in Kimberley. As soon as the
military camps were formed, the Rev. James Scott organized services for
the troops. The Rev. W.H. Richards, the Presbyterian minister, gladly
joined in the work, and united Presbyterian and Wesleyan services were

The hospital work was effectively done, and Miss Gordon (the matron)
with her staff of nurses cheered and soothed the last moments of many a
poor dying lad.

=The Relief of Kimberley.=

But the time of relief was drawing near. Lord Roberts had appeared upon
the scene, and his great flank movement was being carried out. General
French, at the head of his cavalry division, was making one of the most
famous marches in history. The days of inaction were over. Cronje and
his forces were saying a hasty good-bye to the hills at Magersfontein,
which had so long defied Lord Methuen and his troops, and were flying
for their lives.

On Thursday, February 15, huge clouds of dust appeared upon the
horizon, and the tidings spread throughout the town that the relief
column was in sight. Every available eminence was speedily crowded with
people eager to catch a glimpse of the coming troops. Bugle warnings and
shells were things of the past. Here they come! They have travelled far
and fast! Look at them! Worn and weary, they can hardly sit their
horses. But they are here, and at their head is the most famous cavalry
officer of the war--our Aldershot cavalry leader, General French. Ahead
of his troops, fresh and vigorous, as though he had only just started,
he proudly rides into the town. The people gather round and cheer; they
almost worship the soldiers who have brought them relief, and then,
secure for the first time for four long months, they turn to greet
friends and relatives, and the glad intelligence spreads far and
wide--Kimberley is relieved!

=Christian Work after the Relief.=

Very speedily a branch of the South African General Mission was
established in Kimberley, and was soon in good working order.

The tent of the S.C.A. was opened in Newton Camp, Kimberley, on March
12. The Mayor of Kimberley was present, and Mr. A.H. Wheeler, the
organizing secretary of the association, took charge of the proceedings.
The soldiers' roll-call hymn was sung. In this tent large numbers
afterwards gave themselves to Christ.

The Rev. Mr. McClelland, Presbyterian chaplain, also moved into
Kimberley from Modder River, and for some time assisted in the work. He
tells of the sad death of the Rev. Cathel Kerr, of the Free Church
Highland Committee. He had been acting chaplain to the Scots Guards, and
died in Kimberley hospital.

During the siege an eminent South African missionary passed away--the
Rev. Jas. Thompson, M.A., ex-President of the South African Wesleyan
Conference. He died with the sound of bursting shells in his ears,
wondering what was in store for his church and people. He died as
Christians die, and passed

    'Where beyond these voices there is peace.'

The work of God spread from Kimberley on every hand. The S.C.A. workers
spread out as far afield as Boshof, worshipping in the Dopper Church,
and making it ring with Sankey's hymns, where all had been the quiet of
the Psalms. We read of conversions here and there and everywhere. Thus
in Kimberley also the word of God 'had free course and was glorified,'
and the workers 'thanked God and took courage.'

Chapter X


We turn now to another part of the field of operations, and the place
that demands our attention is Sterkstroom. Here, following the disaster
to the Northumberland Fusiliers, there was a long halt. General Gatacre
could not advance without reinforcements. Those reinforcements were not
for a long time forthcoming, and all that he could do was to keep that
part of Cape Colony clear of the enemy, and ultimately join hands with
General French.

=Christian Workers at Sterkstroom.=

But these long pauses between actual engagements gave the opportunity
for Christian work, and General Gatacre's camp at Sterkstroom was
besieged by a large number of Christian workers. In addition to the
recognised chaplains the Soldiers' Christian Association, represented by
Messrs. Stewart and Denman, had their large green tent, and pursued
their usual work with much success. The Salvation Army was also in
evidence, and their captain and lieutenant rendered capital service,
especially in the open air. Mr. and Mrs. Osborne Howe, well known in
South Africa for their devoted work, had another tent, splendidly fitted
up, and known as the 'Soldiers' Home.' Mr. Anderson, an Army Scripture
Reader from Glasgow, was also very useful. The Anglican and Wesleyan
chaplains both had tents, in which they carried on their work
incessantly. Captain England started a branch of the A.T.A., and worked
it till he died. And so, what with the workers living in camp and others
paying flying visits to it, the call to repentance was loud and long,
and no soldier at Sterkstroom was left without spiritual ministration.

=Comforts for the Troops.=

And not only did the spiritual interests of the soldier receive
attention--the workers bore in mind that he had a body as well as a
soul. All Christian South Africa bore that in mind. From far and near
came presents for the soldiers. Churches gave collections for that
purpose; ladies' sewing circles sewed to buy them comforts; business
firms sent donations of goods; comforts, aye, and even luxuries, poured
into the camp, and while in other parts of the field our men were on
half or quarter rations, in the camp at Sterkstroom there were fruit
distributions night by night. Fresh butter and eggs came from the ladies
of Lady Frere and other places. Stationery, almost _ad libitum_, was
supplied. So that, notwithstanding rain and wind and many other
_dis_comforts, on the whole the troops at Sterkstroom managed to pass a
cheerful time. Hardships were before them, death was both behind and
before. Enteric fever was already dogging their steps, but still,
compared with many of their comrades, they might indeed 'rest and be

=The Soldiers' Home at Sterkstroom.=

Let us first of all glance at Mr. and Mrs. Osborne Howe in the midst of
their work. It is the opening of their Soldiers' Home. The date is
Thursday, February 15. About two thousand men are present at the opening
ceremony, and the general and his staff are also there. The assemblage
is thoroughly representative. There are the war correspondents of the
different papers; the chaplains of the Division; the Rev. Thomas Perry,
Baptist minister from King Williamstown; 'Captain' Anderson and
'Lieutenant' Warwicker of the Salvation Army; the workers of the
Soldiers' Christian Association, as well as of the Soldiers' Home; and
last, but not least, the ladies of the nursing staff from the Hospital
and Soldiers' Home. The band of the Northumberland Fusiliers is also
present to delight the company with its music. All sorts of good things
are provided by the generous host and hostess to delight the most
fastidious appetite--if there is such an appetite upon the veldt.

The general is in his happiest mood. He thanks the friends of King
Williamstown and Mr. and Mrs. Osborne Howe for their noble gift to his

=The S.C.A. Tent Services.=

The Soldiers' Christian Association had their tent splendidly fitted up,
as all their tents are. But it was most unfortunate. Twice was it blown
down by fierce sandstorms, and on the second occasion the tent-pole was
broken beyond repair. A tree was, however--not commandeered,
but--bought. Handy men of the Royal Engineers speedily reduced its size
and placed it in position, and there it stood braving its native winds.

In this tent splendid work was done. Night by night men were seeking
Christ. The demand for Bibles was great. On one occasion the workers
were employed for two hours giving out Bibles and Testaments to soldiers
who came crowding round and begging for them. From the first night of
its erection the tent was crowded. The workers had never in their long
experience seen such a blessed work of grace. Men by the score were
delighted to be spoken to about the salvation of their souls.

The pens, ink, and paper, provided free, were a great boon to the
soldiers. From three to four hundred sheets of paper per day were given
to the men, who, of course, had to make special application for it.


Mr. Denman reports: 'Many whole days we have done nothing but receive in
our private tents men who were anxious and troubled about their souls'
salvation; others came to us who had got cold and indifferent, because
of the absence of the means of grace. These in very many instances,
under God's blessing, were helped and restored to the enjoyment of
the means of grace and the Christian privileges. One dear Christian man
came in, threw his arms around my shoulders, and burst into tears, and
said, "God bless you dear men for coming out here to care for us, and to
help us on in the Christian life. He will reward you both for leaving
home and dear ones. I am sure you have been such help to so many of

Thus was the work of the S.C.A. appreciated, and eternity alone will
reveal the good accomplished by its means.

[Footnote 9: _News from the Front_, April, 1900.]

=Christian Work under Mr. Burgess.=

The work of the Wesleyan Church at Sterkstroom was also actively carried
forward. The chaplain at Sterkstroom was the Rev. W.C. Burgess. At one
time he was assisted by no fewer than five Wesleyan soldier local
preachers. These were Sergeant-Major C.B. Foote, of the Telegraph
Battalion Royal Engineers, a much respected local preacher from the
Aldershot and Farnham Circuit; Sergeant-Major T. Jones, of the 16th
Field Hospital R.A.M.C.; Corporal Knight, of the 8th Company Derbyshire
Regiment; Trooper W.W. Booth, of Brabant's Horse; and Mr. Blevin, of
King Williamstown, and late of Johannesburg, one of Mr. Howe's workers.

Parade services, of course, received careful attention, and were largely
attended. But such services, however picturesque and interesting, are
but a small part of the chaplain's duty. He makes them the centre of his
work, for at no other time can he get so many of his men around him; and
standing there at the drumhead, he gives God's message with all the
power he can command.

But, after all, it is in quieter, homelier work that he succeeds the
best. Mr. Burgess, for instance, tells us how he began his open-air
work. He went over to the Royal Scots camp, and, as soon as the band had
finished playing, stepped into the ring. It might have been a shell that
had dropped into that ring by the speed with which all the soldiers
cleared away from it! and the preacher, who had hoped he could hold the
crowd which the band had gathered, was woefully disappointed. However,
he commenced to sing,--

    'Hold the fort,'

and he had not long to hold it by himself. Before he had finished the
hymn other soldiers had gathered courage, and he had a crowd of two or
three hundred round him, and at the close of the service there were many
earnest requests to come again.

Thus night by night, in the tent and in the open air, Christ was
preached. Perhaps, however, the most blessed of all the services were
the meetings of Christian soldiers upon the veldt. Here and there among
Mr. Burgess's letters one chances on such passages as this:--

     'At 7.30 p.m. eight of us went a little distance from the tents
     into the veldt, and read the fifteenth chapter of St. John's
     Gospel together, and knelt down on the grass, and had a happy time
     in prayer. The lads got back to their tents in time for the first
     post, when the roll is called.'

Such records as these give us a glimpse of the Christian soldier's life
at once beautiful and pathetic. Such intercourse must have been of the
sweetest character; and, far away from home and friends, they drew very
near to God.

For weeks from this time Mr. Burgess's letters are full of stories of
conversion. Now a corporal that he chats with at the close of a hard
day's work, now the trumpeter of the regiment, now several together at
the close of an open-air service. Thus all workers rejoiced together in
ever continued success, and the greatest joy of all--the joy of
harvest--was theirs.

But the time of inactivity was over. For weeks reinforcements had been
gathering, and the chaplains' work had covered a larger area. It was now
time to strike their tents and march. But this unfortunate column was
unfortunate still. With the memory of the disaster to the Northumberland
Fusiliers at Stormberg still in their minds they marched forward, only
to meet with fresh disaster at Reddersburg.

=The Disaster at Reddersburg.=

Perhaps the best account of that disaster is given by the Rev. W.C.
Burgess in a letter to the Rev. E.P. Lowry; and as it gives a vivid
picture of a chaplain's work under exceedingly difficult circumstances,
we venture to quote at some length from the _Methodist Times_:--

     'On Thursday, March 29, four companies of the Royal Irish Rifles
     were under orders to go by march route to De Wet's Dorp, and to
     leave one company behind at Helvetia, which is midway between the
     two townships. We reached this place on the Friday, leaving Captain
     Murphy in charge, and the remaining three companies, under command
     of Captain McWhinnie, reached De Wet's Dorp on the Sunday morning
     at nine o'clock. We marched through the town and took up a position
     on the surrounding hills, when all at once we heard firing in the
     distance, and our mounted infantry were soon engaging the enemy's
     scouts. About sunset we were reinforced by about 150 of the
     Northumberland Fusiliers and Royal Irish Rifles Mounted Infantry.
     Our men bivouacked for the night along the ridges, and I slept with
     them. About three o'clock on Monday morning our officer commanding
     received the order to retire upon Reddersburg. At dawn we marched
     out in the pouring rain. We bivouacked that night on or near a Mr.
     Kelly's farm, about fifteen miles from De Wet's Dorp. At two
     o'clock the next morning--Tuesday, April 3, 1900--a man, of the
     name of Murray, of the Cape Mounted Rifles, brought despatches,
     informing us that the enemy were in considerable numbers in the
     direction of Thaba 'Nchu, on the Modder River, and were likely to
     threaten our advance.

     'Murray rode with despatches from Smithfield to De Wet's Dorp, and
     finding that our column had left, he decided to overtake us, after
     having rested his horse; but in the meantime some of the enemy's
     scouts had entered the town, had taken his horse, saddle and
     bridle, and were making a vigorous search for him, but in vain; and
     under cover of the darkness he walked out and reached us in the
     early morning. He came and woke me up, and I took him to the
     commanding officer. We marched out again in the grey of the
     morning, and at about ten o'clock a.m. we saw dense clouds of dust
     rising away in the distance to our extreme right, and shortly
     afterwards saw horsemen galloping towards us, whom we vainly hoped
     might be our own cavalry, sent to our relief by Lord Roberts at
     Bloemfontein; but in a few minutes all our hopes were shattered,
     when we heard firing and saw our men engaging the enemy and
     retiring upon the adjacent kopjes, which we at once took possession
     of, and arranged our hospital, planting the Red Cross flag
     immediately in front of our ambulance wagons and hospital tents.

     'The battle, now known as the battle of Muishond-fontein, commenced
     at 10.45 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3, 1900, and continued all day. At
     3.40 p.m. the enemy's guns arrived on the scene of action, and
     began shelling us from three different positions. We were
     completely surrounded by a force of 3,200, under Commandant De Wet,
     who, according to his own testimony to us afterwards, had five
     guns, four of which were in action, as well as a Vickers-Maxim.
     Shortly after the fighting began bullets and shells were dropping,
     and exploding in close proximity to our hospital. The Red Cross
     flag had four bullet-holes. Two of the mules, standing in harness
     and attached to one of our ambulance wagons, were killed. The
     operating tent, in which Dr. Smyth was attending to a wounded man,
     had two bullet-holes through it. One tent had four bullet-holes.
     Part of the seat of one of our ambulance baggage wagons had the red
     cross on its right side cut clean away by a shell. Pieces of shell
     struck the wheels of our ambulance wagon, and one of our Cape
     Medical Staff Corps was slightly wounded in the foot by a segment
     of a shell while close to the ambulance wagon. We had one mule
     whilst in harness cut in two by a shell and three mules wounded, so
     that they had to be shot. One mule was shot while tied to an
     ambulance wagon bearing the red cross; shrapnel and common shell
     were fired. It was considered absolutely necessary to cast up a
     parapet as a protection from the shot and shell fire, and we all
     threw off our coats, and with pick and shovel worked away until
     about midnight casting up earthworks.


     'The firing ceased at dusk. The men slept in their positions in the
     ridges, and without either food or water. At eight p.m., hearing
     that Captain Kelly was slightly wounded in the head, we scaled the
     heights, and took him and some of his men a little water; but it
     was very little. Still he seemed grateful. He would not leave his
     men, but slept with them on the ridges. In stumbling over boulders
     amongst the bushes on the ridges, whom should I meet but the Earl
     of Rosslyn, who had escaped from the Boer lines, and had come
     into our camp in the afternoon. He had rather a rough time of it,
     for our men, not knowing who he was, and mistaking him for an
     enemy, fired upon him, but fortunately without effect. He very
     kindly told me that I might sleep in his buggy, which was near the
     ambulance party. However, I did not avail myself of his kind offer,
     but slept near the trenches. Captain Tennant, R.A., our
     Intelligence officer, came down from the fighting lines at night,
     and said to the five Dutch prisoners whom our mounted infantry had
     captured the day before, "You now see how your own men are firing
     upon our hospital, and if you are killed or hurt it will be by the
     shells of your own people, and not by ours." They saw at once the
     perilous position they were in, and asked for permission to dig a
     trench for themselves, which was granted. The natives also followed
     suit, and digged one for themselves.

     'We were not molested during the night, but the battle was resumed
     the next morning (Wednesday, the 4th), and was fiercer than ever,
     until at last it was evident that the position was taken, and we
     surrendered at nine o'clock a.m. The enemy immediately galloped in,
     tore down the Union Jack, which they burnt, disarmed our men, and
     marched them off as quickly as they could in a column five or six
     deep. They sang a verse of a hymn and the Volkslied (their national
     anthem), and after listening to a short address from their
     commandant, they dispersed.

     'Commandant De Wet was annoyed at our having dug trenches within
     the lines of our hospital, and said it was a breach of the Geneva
     Convention, and that we were taking an undue advantage of our
     privileges; but when we pointed out to him that it had been done to
     protect the wounded, some native women, and an old native man and
     child who came in for protection, and not as a protection to our
     troops who were in the firing lines, he was satisfied.

     'The trenches were dug under a tolerably heavy fire. The enemy
     captured all our horses and saddlery, some of our kits and
     water-bottles, and one of our buck wagons marked with the Red
     Cross. Both the medical officers and I had our horses and kits
     taken from us, but the commandant assured each of us that they
     would be returned, but we have not seen them yet. In the evening
     these two officers with an orderly walked a distance of three or
     four miles to the Boer laager in the hope of recovering their kits,
     only to find that the laager had been removed and the enemy were
     nowhere to be seen. They took my servant, and would not hear of his
     remaining behind. We were released by Commandant De Wet, who told
     us to bury our dead and take the wounded where we liked.

=Consolation to the Dying.=

     'Our casualties were ten killed and thirty-five wounded. I went
     over the battle-field with the ambulance party seeking for the dead
     and wounded, and came across a man who was dying, and said to him,
     "Do you know Jesus?" He replied, "Yes, I'm trusting Jesus as my
     Saviour." I said, "That's right, brother. 'This is a faithful
     saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into
     the world to save sinners.' 'Christ died the just for the unjust
     that He might bring us to God.' 'The blood of Jesus Christ His Son
     cleanseth from all sin.' Do you know me?" I asked. "Yes," he
     replied, "you are our chaplain," and turning his dying face to me,
     he said, "Pray for me." I knelt down by his side, surrounded by our
     stretcher-bearers, as well as by the Boers on horseback, who were
     witnesses of this pathetic scene, and commended him to God. He then
     said he was thirsty, and asked for a drink of water, which it was
     my privilege to give him from the water-bottle slung by my right
     side. We then laid him on the stretcher and carried him as gently
     as we possibly could to the field hospital, but in a few minutes
     his disembodied spirit had left its tenement of clay and gone to
     answer the roll call up yonder.

     'One cannot speak too highly of the unremitting care and attention
     bestowed upon our dear wounded fellows by the army surgeons. Our
     officers in the field behaved most gallantly, and were as cool as
     possible under the most galling fire. The "O.C.," Captain
     McWhinnie, could be seen against the sky line again and again,
     walking about amongst his men, directing the defence, and giving
     orders as coolly as if he had been on parade. While telling his men
     to avail themselves of every bit of cover he seemed utterly
     regardless of his own personal safety. The other officers were
     directing their men in more distant parts of the field, and could
     not be so easily seen by us. Our ammunition was getting low, and we
     had no artillery, not even a machine gun, and had a long series of
     ridges to occupy, extending over an area of three miles, so that it
     was no wonder our position was untenable. On Thursday, at two p.m.,
     we left the battlefield with our wounded for Reddersburg, where the
     people received us most kindly and placed the Government
     school-room at our disposal.'[10]

After burying the dead, and assisting the wounded to Bethany railway
station, Mr. Burgess returned to headquarters at Springfontein and gave
General Gatacre an account of the disaster. He was then attached to the
Royal Berks, as his own regiment was in captivity, and advanced with
them through the Orange River Colony.

[Footnote 10: _Methodist Times_, May 17, 1900.]

='I Must Go to the Muster Roll.'=

'He notes as he passes along a pathetic little incident. Bugler
Longhurst, who was mortally wounded in the fight on April 4, died soon
after, and shortly before he passed away he sat up in bed and said to
his orderly, "Hush! hush!! give me my uniform. I hear them mustering.
There are the drums! I must go to the muster roll. Hush!"--and sinking
back he died.

'The advance for a long time was a continuous battle. Even the transport
had a warm time of it. On one occasion a forty-pounder shell struck a
transport wagon and exploded, cutting off the native driver's leg as he
sat upon the box. The poor fellow showed conspicuous courage. "Don't
mind me, lads," he shouted, "drive on." They carried him to the
operating tent, and he was singing all the way. Shortly after his
operation he died.'

='I'm not Afraid, only my Hand Shakes.'=

The Sterkstroom column were fighting at last, and bravely they bore
themselves. It was not their fault if disaster dogged their steps. No
braver men could be found than those under Gatacre's command. And yet
they, like the rest, had a great objection to the pom-poms. 'I'm not
afraid,' said one lad, when that strange sound began and the shells came
rattling around. 'I'm not afraid, only my hand shakes.'

It reminds us of a story told of a certain officer who was going into
action for the first time. His legs were shaking so that he could hardly
sit his horse. He looked down at them, and with melancholy but decided
voice said, 'Ah! you are shaking, are you? You would shake a great deal
more if you knew where I was going to take you to-day; so pull
yourselves together. Advance!'

We are not told whether the legs so addressed at once stopped shaking,
or whether they were taken still shaking into the battle. But this we do
know, that the highest type of courage is not incompatible with
nervousness, and that the courage that can conquer shaking nerves, and
take them all unwilling where they do not want to go, is the courage
that can conquer anything. The '_I_' that is not afraid even when the
'_hand_' shakes, is the real man after all, and the man of exquisite
nervous temperament may be an even greater hero than the man who does
not know fear.

Sir Herbert Chermside had succeeded General Gatacre, who was returning
home, and the column was now joining hands with General French, and
coming under the superior command of Sir Leslie Rundle. It was stern
work every day, and the chaplains, like the rest, were continually under
fire. Services could not be held, but night by night the chaplains went
the round of the picquets and spoke cheering words to them in their
loneliness, and, day by day, in the fight and out of it, they preached
Christ from man to man, ministering to the wounded, closing the eyes of
the dying and burying the dead, until at last they too reached
Bloemfontein and cheered the grand old British flag.

Chapter XI


'Look, father, the sky is English,' said a little girl as they drove
home to Bloemfontein in the glowing sunset.

'English, my dear,' said her father, 'what do you mean?'

'Why,' replied the little one, 'it is all red, white, and blue.'

And in truth, red, white, and blue was everywhere. The inhabitants of
Bloemfontein must have exhausted the stock of every shop. They must have
ransacked old stores, and patched together material never intended for
bunting. Wherever you looked, there were the English colours. No wonder
to the imagination of the little one even the sun was greeting the
victorious English, and painting the western sky red, white, and blue.

We cannot, of course, suppose that all these people who greeted the
victorious British army enthusiastically were really so enthusiastic as
they appeared. But 'nothing succeeds like success,' and those who had
cursed us yesterday, blessed us to-day.

=The Advantages of Bloemfontein.=

It is a matter for thankfulness that the town was spared the horrors of
a bombardment. It was far too beautiful to destroy. Of late years, as
money had poured into the treasury, much had been expended upon public
buildings. The Parliament Hall, for instance, had been erected at a cost
of £80,000. The Grey College was a building of which any city might be
proud. The Post Office was quite up to the average of some large
provincial town in this country, and several other imposing buildings
proved that the capital of the Orange Free State, though small, was 'no
mean city.'

It was literally a town on the veldt. The veldt was around it
everywhere. It showed up now and then in the town where it was least
expected, as though to assert its independence and remind the dwellers
in the city that their fathers were its children.

Wonderfully healthy is this little city. Situated high above sea level,
with a climate so bracing and life-giving that the phthisis bacillus can
hardly live in it, it seemed to our soldiers, after their long march
across the veldt, a veritable City of Refuge. Alas! how soon it was to
be turned into a charnel house!

=The March to Bloemfontein.=

It was to this oasis in the South African desert that Lord Roberts
marched his troops after the surrender of Cronje. It had been a terrible
march from the Modder River, and its severity was maintained to the
end. The difficulty of transport was great, and sickness was beginning
to tell upon the troops. The river water, rendered poisonous by the
bodies of men and cattle from Cronje's camp, and the horrible filth of
his laager, were responsible for what followed. The men for the most
part kept up until the march was over. They had determined to reach
Bloemfontein at all costs, and many of them in all probability lost
their lives through that determination. They ought to have given up long
before they did, but struggled on until, rendered weak by their
prolonged exertions, they had no strength to fight the disease which had
fastened upon them.

The last march of the Guards was one which the Brigade may well remember
with pride, as one of the most famous in its annals. They actually
marched over forty miles in twenty-two consecutive hours, over ground
full of holes of all sorts and sizes, and with barbed wire cut and lying
on the ground in all directions. They marched hour after hour in steady
silence, broken only by the 'Glory! Hallelujah!' chorus of the
Canadians, marched with soleless boots, or with no boots at all, but
with putties wrapped round the bare feet. An hour and a half's rest, and
then on again! On, ever on! They are so tired, they feel they can march
no further, and yet on they go, steadily marching straight forward, a
silent, dogged, determined army out there upon the veldt. Lord Roberts
had promised the Guards that they should follow him into Bloemfontein,
and they intended to be there to do it.

=The Work at Bloemfontein.=

Bloemfontein reached, Christian work began in real earnest. Every one
became 'hard at it' at once. The Rev. E.P. Lowry opened a Soldiers' Home
in the schoolroom of the Wesleyan Church, and day by day provided the
cheapest tea in the town at three-pence per head, of which many hundreds
of the men availed themselves. Here, too, he had meetings night by
night. The Rev. James Robertson was also incessantly at work. The large
tent of the Soldiers' Christian Association was erected in the camp of
the Highland Brigade, and became as usual a centre of splendid Christian
effort. Mr. Black tells us that Lord Roberts gave permission for him to
accompany him to Bloemfontein, and gave every possible encouragement to
the work.

=Lord Roberts Visits the Tent.=

Mr. Glover writes:--

     'The tent of which I now have charge--surrounded by thousands of
     men of the Highland Brigade, and pitched yesterday on a high
     plateau about one and a half miles from town--is, I believe, in
     answer to prayer, on the spot where God would have it be,
     especially if the numbers attending the first Gospel meeting may be
     any criterion.

     'In the early morning I had plenty of willing helpers. By about
     nine the tent was completed, by ten I had literature, games, etc.,
     unpacked and arranged, and before eleven--after inspection of
     Naval Brigade--Lord Roberts honoured me with a visit. This was more
     than we might have expected, and having shown a keen interest in
     inspection--Sankey's hymn-books included--he gave me a hearty
     handshake, saying he was pleased to see it, and it would be a great
     boon to the men. This visit was a very prompt one. Mr. Black just
     handed up a request after Naval inspection. Lord Roberts replied,
     "Certainly," and galloped over with his other officers before our
     workers could get across.'

     'There has been a very heavy demand on writing material by the many
     men, who have had scarcely any opportunity to write for two or
     three weeks. I hardly know what I shall do for paper, as I have
     only one packet left, and could not get a line through by wire
     yesterday; I hope, however, you received my wire to-day. There is
     room here for a dozen--or even twenty--tents now. We had over
     40,000 men before yesterday, when the whole of the Seventh Division

     'Our first three meetings have been marked by a very hallowed
     influence. To-night the tent was packed to overflowing, and our joy
     at the close was beyond expression, when twenty dear fellows took a
     stand for Christ. The weather is very wet to-night, the men have no
     tents, and I gave them the opportunity to remain under the shelter
     of our tent. As I write (10.30 p.m.), I suppose there are 120 to
     150 here.'[11]

Later on our old friend, Mr. Stewart, took charge of the tent, and Mr.
Hinde assisted him. Mr. Percy Huskisson also spoke at some of the
meetings, and they had glorious times. The Rev. R. Deane Oliver, a
devoted Church of England chaplain from Aldershot, took the meeting on
one occasion, and no fewer than eighteen stood up for prayer.

[Footnote 11: _News from the Front_, May, 1900.]

=Sunday Services in Bloemfontein.=

The Sabbath services held in the camps and town were full of blessing.
In the Wesleyan Church khaki was everywhere, crowding not only every
available seat, but the Communion and the pulpit stairs, and even the
pulpit itself.

Mr. Lowry writes:--

     'There must have been not less than 700 soldiers actually with us
     that morning. In the afternoon a delightful Bible-class and
     testimony meeting was held, at which about forty were present, and
     at its close, thanks to the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin, a
     capital tea, though not a fruit tea of the Aldershot type, was
     provided for all. The evening service, conducted by Mr. Franklin,
     was well attended by the military, and as the clock struck nine,
     those that remained to the after-meeting bethought us of
     Sergt.-Major Moss and his men, and made ourselves one with them by
     singing at the self-same moment their unfailing song, "God be with
     you till we meet again."'[12]

The Rev. Stuart and Mrs. Franklin, to whom Mr. Lowry refers, were the
resident Wesleyan minister and his wife. They rendered conspicuous
service to our soldiers, and in fact thought no sacrifice too great to
make on their behalf.

But not long was there a pause in the battle. The troops had to be moved
further and further out. The chaplains went with them. The onward march
to Pretoria commenced, and only an army of occupation was left behind in

[Footnote 12: _Methodist Times_, May 3, 1900.]

=Glimpses of Good Work from Soldiers' Letters.=

We, however, stay with them in Bloemfontein for a short time, that we
may read a few of the Christian soldiers' letters received from that
town, and get some further glimpses of the good work carried on there.

Corporal Lundy writes:--

     'Through all the trying marches and battles in which I have been
     engaged I have found time to read a portion of God's Word. I have
     found my Heavenly Father a personal Friend in this campaign. We
     have been on short rations for about a month: just enough to keep
     one together.

     'The prisoners we have in the fort are always singing psalms and
     hymns, but they do not seem to be quite right; there is something

Corporal Simpson says:--

     'I am still enjoying the best of health bodily, and so happy in
     soul that I could not express myself. Storm clouds gather and
     trials come, but still it's Jesus. When bullets are flying around
     my head and hunger is pricking me sorely, I can lift up my head
     with praise. 'When I saw the little English children at
     Bloemfontein running about so gay, many of them so like my own
     lambs, my heart seemed as if it would break.'

Another soldier writes:--

     'I want to tell you of the great Christian work that is going on in
     this great camp. There are four or five very large tents, which are
     full every night, and hundreds are turned away. There are men there
     who would laugh at the Soldiers' Home in England and scorn to be
     seen in the company of Christians. Many such men have been brought
     to know Christ through this great and awful war. Mr. Lowry often
     speaks to us. He is a grand worker, and we love him. We have been
     under the Saviour's care and keeping all the time. We are very
     anxious to get back home, and shall welcome peace with one great
     shout of joy.'

Another gives us a further glimpse of Christian work:--

     'Going along I saw three marquees, on one of which there was
     written "Soldiers' Home." I peeped in and saw Pearce, of the
     Gloucesters. I marched up to him and told him who I was. Four of
     them knew me, and we had a good old talk of the home land. They had
     just finished a good old Bible reading, and tea came in. I sat down
     for tea with them. At about 6 p.m. we were in the large marquee
     putting things ready, and about 6.30 it was full of soldiers,
     perhaps about 600. Then we had the dear old Sankey hymns.'

Another grows quite eloquent as he writes:--

     'At home I hear there has been much rejoicing, and the reverses
     have given place to victories. But the victories have been bought
     by the sacrifice of human souls. The altar has been saturated with
     the blood of fathers and sons. The bitterness of sorrow has wrung
     human hearts in the dear old homeland. In the mansion, in the
     cottage, in city and in village, tidings of death have found a
     place. But Christ, the Prince of Peace, has given peace to many
     lads on the battlefield. Words which were apparently sown in the
     darkness have bloomed in the light. Life eternal has been accepted,
     and the life of sin has become the life of joy. Behind the veil the
     Master stands and sees the awful strife. The Divine plan is hidden
     from view, but our faith can see in the distant years the continent
     of Africa revealed as a continent of God's people.

     'Men have been, and still are, seeking for fame and glory. The
     things of heaven, the Christ who died, have been forgotten in the
     struggle for things of the world. Thank God for the many souls who
     have found Jesus out here. We feel a mighty power within, and we
     know it is in answer to the prayers of loved ones in the dear old
     land. A wall of prayer surrounds us and we are safe. I feel that I
     have let many golden opportunities slip. The harvest is passing and
     labourers are few.

     'The hearts of our Christian lads have been kept true, and God has
     been glorified.'

So testify these Christian men to the power of our holy religion to save
and keep. We thank God that they in their own way have 'kept the flag

=The Enteric Epidemic.=

But now began another battle--a battle fiercer and more disastrous to
our men than any other in this Boer campaign. Enteric fever had been
dogging the steps of our army all the way from Cronje's camp, and it
overtook it in full force in Bloemfontein. Very soon the hospitals were
full--crowded--overcrowded. A state of things obtained which, whether it
be a scandal or not, will be a lasting source of regret to every
Englishman, and a dark stain upon the war.

So rapidly did the men fall that accommodation could not possibly be
found for them. They lay about anywhere. The space between the bed-cots
was full of groaning, struggling, dying humanity. In inches of mud and
slush they lay, breathing their lives out all unattended. The supply of
doctors, nurses, and orderlies was altogether inadequate. Tents and
medicines could not be got to the front, for the railway was required
for food supplies, and the army must be fed. It is too early to pass
judgment on the arrangements. We record a few facts, vouched for not
only by the papers from which we quote, but by scores of men who have
come from Bloemfontein, and with whom we have talked.

It is in the remembrance of all that Mr. Burdett-Coutts wrote an article
in the _Times_, and afterwards delivered a speech in the House of
Commons, in both of which he told of the terrible sufferings of our men,
and severely criticised the hospital arrangements. The men returning
from the front, while they one and all declare that everything was done
by the hospital authorities which it was possible for those on the spot
to do, yet mournfully admit that the terrible accounts are not

=Dr. Conan Doyle's Testimony.=

The _Daily Telegraph_ published the number of deaths from disease at
Bloemfontein during the months of April, May, and the first part of
June. They reach the awful total of 949. Dr. Conan Doyle, in a recent
letter published in the _British Medical Journal_, says:--

     'I know of no instance of such an epidemic in modern warfare. I
     have not had access to any official figures, but I believe that in
     one month there were from 10,000 to 12,000 men down with this, the
     most debilitating of all diseases. I know that in one month 600 men
     were laid in the Bloemfontein cemetery. A single day in this one
     town saw 40 deaths.'

He speaks in the highest terms of the conduct of the sick soldiers.

     'They are uniformly patient, docile, and cheerful, with an
     inextinguishable hope of "getting to Pretoria." There is a
     gallantry even about their delirium, for their delusion continually
     is that they have won the Victoria Cross. One patient whom I found
     the other day rummaging under his pillow informed me that he was
     looking for "his two Victoria Crosses." Very touching also is their
     care of each other. The bond which unites two soldier pals is one
     of the most sacred kind. One man shot in three places was being
     carried into Mr. Gibbs' ward. I lent an arm to his friend, shot
     through the leg, who limped behind him. "I want to be next Jim,
     'cos I'm looking after him," said he. That he needed looking after
     himself never seemed to have occurred to him.'

=The Hospital Orderlies.=

Dr. Conan Doyle, however, reserves his highest praise for the hospital
orderly. We venture to quote at length, because of all workers during
this campaign none deserve higher praise, and none will receive less
reward than the men who have so nobly, so uncomplainingly done the
horrible work of nursing--'the sordid and obscene work,' as Dr. Doyle
calls it--through this frightful epidemic.

     'In some of the general hospitals, orderlies were on duty for
     thirty-six hours in forty-eight, and what their duties were--how
     sordid and obscene--let those who have been through such an
     epidemic tell.

     'He is not a picturesque figure, the orderly, as we know him. We
     have not the trim, well-nourished army man, but we have recruited
     from the St. John Ambulance men, who are drawn, in this particular
     instance, from the mill hands of a northern town. They were not
     very strong to start with, and the poor fellows are ghastly now.
     There is none of the dash and glory of war about the sallow, tired
     men in the dingy khaki suits--which, for the sake of the public
     health, we will hope may never see England again. And yet they are
     patriots, these men; for many of them have accepted a smaller wage
     in order to take on these arduous duties, and they are facing
     danger for twelve hours of the twenty-four, just as real and much
     more repulsive than the scout who rides up to the strange kopje, or
     the gunner, who stands to his gun with a pom-pom quacking at him
     from the hill.

     'Let our statistics speak for themselves; and we make no claim to
     be more long-suffering than our neighbours. We have three on the
     staff (Mr. Gibbs, Mr. Scharlieb, and myself). Four started, but one
     left us early in the proceedings. We have had six nurses, five
     dressers, one wardmaster, one washerman, and eighteen orderlies, or
     thirty-two in all, who actually came in contact with the sick. Out
     of the six nurses, one has died and three others have had enteric.
     Of the five dressers, two have had severe enteric. The wardmaster
     has spent a fortnight in bed with veldt sores. The washerman has
     enteric. Of the eighteen orderlies, one is dead, and eight others
     are down with enteric. So that out of a total of thirty-four we
     have had seventeen severe casualties--fifty per cent.--in nine
     weeks. Two are dead, and the rest incapacitated for the campaign,
     since a man whose heart has been cooked by a temperature over 103
     degrees is not likely to do hard work for another three months. If
     the war lasts nine more weeks, it will be interesting to see how
     many are left of the original personnel. When the scouts and the
     Lancers and the other picturesque people ride in procession through
     London, have a thought for the sallow orderly, who has also given
     of his best for his country. He is not a fancy man--you do not find
     them in enteric wards--but for solid work and quiet courage you
     will not beat him in all that gallant army.'

Dr. Conan Doyle has told the story of the hospital orderly, but who
shall tell the story of the doctor and the hospital nurse. In many cases
they have laid down their lives for the men, and all have worked with a
devotion that has seemed well-nigh super-human. But a medical staff
sufficient for two army corps was altogether insufficient to supply the
needs of an army of 200,000 and fight an epidemic of terrible severity.
They did their best. Some person the country will blame, but to these
who so nobly worked and endured the country will say, 'Well done!'

=Terrible Incidents during the Epidemic.=

Tales of horror crowd upon one; stories of men in delirium, wandering
about the camp at night; stories of living men in the agonies of
disease, with dead men lying on either side; stories of men themselves
hardly able to crawl about, turning out of bed to nurse their comrades
because there was no one else to do it.

'Why do you let 'em die?' asked a young soldier by way of a grim joke,
pointing to two dead soldiers close to him, while he himself was
suffering from enteric. 'Why don't you look after 'em better?'

'What can I do? I know nothing about nursing!' was the sad reply.

Just so! That was the difficulty--there was no one to prevent them
dying. How many might have been saved if such had been the case!

It is too early to tell yet in detail the story of Christian work in
connection with this epidemic. Many of the chaplains had left for the
front before it broke out in its intensity, and we have as yet only
fragmentary evidence as to the work done by those left upon the spot. We
have not the slightest doubt that one and all did their work with the
devotion we should expect from such men. We hear of Christian soldiers
who bore splendid witness for Christ in the hospitals, and who were the
means of leading their comrades to the Saviour in the midst of their
sickness, and for such stories we thank God.

=Christian Work in the Fever Hospitals.=

We close this chapter with an extract from a letter from the Rev. Robert
McClelland, Presbyterian Chaplain 1st battalion Cameron Highlanders,
published in _St. Andrew_, and sent us by the courtesy of the Rev. Dr.
Theodore Marshall. It is an eloquent testimony to the value of hospital
work, and gives us a glimpse of what was done at Bloemfontein:--

'When we reached Bloemfontein we found a dozen large hospitals all as
full as they could hold, and at the cemetery gate it was solemn and
painful to see many funerals outside the gate waiting entrance to the
house of the dead. I was told that an Episcopal clergyman was told off
at the cemetery for the sad but necessary work of Christian interment.
You will ask, why this great sickness and mortality? The water, on the
whole, is bad (sometimes absolutely vile), and our masses of soldiers
are not so careful about what they eat and drink as they should be in a
trying climate, scorching sun by day and white frost by night. Dysentery
and enteric fever are the worst. Here is the minister's noblest
vocation, and we could take a dozen Father Damiens for this grand work.
When the fever runs high, or the strength gets wasted and the heart goes
down, a pleasant smile, a kind word, a verse of Scripture, a brief
prayer, goes a long way to revive the drooping spirits. I record my
solemn conviction that hospital work, rightly done, is by far and away
the most needful and the most acceptable of the chaplain's work. But, of
course, like the doctors at the base, we are all wanting to the front to
see the "pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war," while the brave
fellows battling with fever, sickness, and wounds in the hospital are
fighting the stiffest fight of all. And yet there is work for us on the
march and at the front, too. To make yourself a friend and brother, to
seek out and comfort the exhausted and ailing, to speak a word in season
to the weary, to preach "the glorious Gospel of the blessed God" as
opportunity offers--this is a task worthy of the highest powers and
greatest gifts. After being nearly four months on the field, I do not
regret the great sacrifices made in going there.'

Chapter XII


The march from Bloemfontein to Pretoria was one never to be forgotten.
It taxed the strength of the strongest. There was fighting most of the
way, and many a soldier who started full of hope never reached the end.
The first stage was from Bloemfontein to Kroonstadt.

Mr. W.K. Glover, of the S.C.A., arrived at Kroonstadt in company with
Mr. D.A. Black, but there was taken ill and compelled to rest. The Rev.
T.F. Falkner and the Rev. E.P. Lowry marched nearly the whole way to
Kroonstadt with the troops, and the latter speaks of it as the most
trying march of the whole campaign. Opportunities for Christian work,
with the exception of the hearty handshake or the whispered prayer, were
but few, though during the pauses at Brandfort and at Kroonstadt several
successful services were held.

A new name now appears on the line of march--that of the Rev. W.G. Lane,
chaplain to the second Canadian contingent. He accompanied the Canadian
Forces as Chaplain-Captain, and had the spiritual charge of all
Protestants except those of the Episcopal Church.

=The March to Pretoria.=

We have, however, our fullest account of Christian work on the line of
march from the pen of the Rev. Frank Edwards, the acting Wesleyan
chaplain attached to the South Wales Borderers. He came out late in the
war at his own charges to preach to the Welsh soldiers in their own
language, and only overtook Lord Roberts at Brandfort. He shows us in
vivid outline the sort of work our chaplains did between Bloemfontein
and Pretoria.

'And now for the regular routine of "life on the march." We rise at 4
a.m. in the dark and cold, breakfast hastily on biscuit and tea made of
very doubtful water, stand shivering in the piercing cold of dawn while
troops are paraded, then start on our way long before the sun rises to
warm our frozen frames. We march an hour and rest ten minutes--the hour
is very long, the ten minutes very short.

=South African Dust.=

'The marching would be tolerable were it not for the heat and dust, the
latter lying in some places quite nine inches deep, rising in clouds. It
fills your eyes, nostrils, mouth and throat, causing one's lips to crack
and bringing on an intolerable thirst, which makes it impossible for the
men to be very fastidious, or even prudent with regard to the quality or
source of the water which they greedily drink. At night when we reach
our camping-ground our first thought is of our great-coats, for we are
bathed in perspiration, and as the sun goes down about 5.30, night
immediately following without any twilight, the intense heat of the
almost tropical day is changed in a few minutes into the bitter cold of
what might almost be called, from its length and severity, an Arctic

'At the Zand River I saw my first fight. That morning, as the troops
were drawn up in marching order, the ominous command was given, "Charge
magazines," and every man knew that something was about to happen, and a
murmur ran along the ranks. After an hour's march we came in sight of
the Zand River, with its kopjes on the farther side. As our battalion
came in view of the river we saw the enemy's guns flashing on the
distant kopjes, and showers of shells fell on this side the river into
the trees in our front. On our right some mounted infantry were lying
behind a kopje, and nothing could be more magnificent than to see the
volleying shells burst in a successive line along the ridge of their
sheltering kopje. At the edge of the wood we were halted and ordered to
lie down; as the artillery dashed by us to the front, where they were
soon busily pounding the Boer position, "Advance!" our Colonel cried. Up
we arose, marched through the trees down into the river-bed, and there
we lay while the shells screamed over us.

'The first shell that came screaming--I can use no better term--towards
us seemed to cause a cold feeling inside, and I felt as though my last
hour had come; but that soon passed, and I became so accustomed to them
that I found myself speculating as to where they would burst. While we
lay in the river-bed, one monster burst with a roar like thunder upon
the bank behind, shaking the ground like an earthquake.

'Our rest here was the calm before the storm, and as we awaited the word
to advance into the fight that was raging overhead, I had an opportunity
of studying the faces of the soldiers who were going, perhaps, to death.
Some were pale with excitement, and their eyes flashed as they clutched
their rifles and compressed their lips. Others laughed wildly, another
was hungrily gnawing a hard biscuit, while many were smoking furiously.
A few appeared quite indifferent, and might have been awaiting the order
for a march. The officers were splendidly cool, and gave their orders as
clearly and calmly as on parade.

=On the Firing Line.=

'"Advance!" was again the cry, and up the banks we went and into the
trees on the further side. Here we saw the effect of the shell fire and
war upon the battle plain. Our batteries were busily engaged about two
hundred yards away, and the death-dealing missiles of friend and foe
flew mercilessly about. As we were likely to remain in the tree shelter
for a while, I strolled out as far as the batteries, for I wished to
have a better view of the Boer position; but here the shells were
falling fast between the guns, and one poor gunner was cruelly mutilated
by a bursting shell, his dead body presenting a ghastly sight.

'I went back, and met the General and some of his staff inspecting the
Boer position with a huge telescope. I had a good look, and clearly saw
our shells burst in the embrasure of a gun, which was hurriedly taken

'Just then the General wanted to send a message, but had no available
messenger. Saluting, I asked that I might be sent. He gave me the
message, and springing on a horse which a servant held near, I galloped
away. It was a strange experience that entry into the fire-zone, but I
forgot all fear in the fight, and delivered my message. I returned to
the General, who thanked me for my promptness.

'Our line had meanwhile advanced, and it was grand to see the steadiness
of our men. Though bullets spat viciously in the sand before, between,
and behind them, not a man flinched, but went steadily on to the heights
beyond. I asked the General to send me with another order, which he
wished taken to a half battalion some distance ahead, but as he was
about to do so, he saw the cross upon my collar, and asked me if I was
not a chaplain. I replied in the affirmative, and he inquired where my
red cross armlet was. I told him I did not possess one, and was told
that I must get one at once. The General then told me he was very sorry,
but he could not use me again, as I was a non-combatant, and if he
availed himself of my services, he would be infringing the Geneva
Convention; while, on the other hand, if the Boers captured me, I should
be shot.

='I was Thinking of the Last Verses of the Twenty-third Psalm.'=

'One incident which occurred during the day made a deep impression upon
me. While in the river drift, on the point of moving into the thick of
the fight and fire, I observed a soldier thoughtfully leaning upon his
elbow, and was moved to ask him what his thoughts were at that moment.
Lifting his eyes steadfastly to mine, he replied, "I was thinking, sir,
of the last verses of the twenty-third Psalm"; and as he spoke I knew I
was face to face with a man for whom death had no terrors, one who was
looking for the crown of life. It was a word in season, and was very

'We encamped that night upon the heights lately occupied by the enemy.
Friday was taken up with another tedious march upon Kroonstadt, and on
Saturday we advanced in fighting formation upon that place, momentarily
expecting to meet the Boers, whom our scouts reported entrenched in
position some miles this side the town. However, we found they had gone,
and Kroonstadt was entered about mid-day, and we encamped outside.

'The next day being Sunday, my first thought was to make arrangement for
services. I interviewed the General, and he allowed me to fix my own
time--an hour later than the Church of England parade--in order that the
men of the 14th Brigade might be able to come down. On Sunday morning I
held my first parade service with my regiment. There was a splendid
attendance--men of the Borderers, Cheshires, Lancs, Engineers, and many
from the other Brigade.

=A Service on the Veldt.=

'At the close of the morning service, after a conversation among
themselves, several stepped out and asked for an evening service. I had
not intended holding one, as I thought they had been marching for weeks
and were tired and weary, and had clothes to wash and mend, and this
might be their only opportunity for weeks, perhaps; so I asked that all
who wished for an evening service would put up their hands. Every man
did so, and the Colonel was only too glad to arrange it for me. That
evening, half an hour after the time for tea, we met again on the open
veldt, in front of our lines, and we had a splendid muster--more than
the morning. The hymns went splendidly. Two soldiers led in
prayer--short and very earnest--then we sang and prayed. Two addresses
by two more soldiers--straight and good and to the point--addresses
which had a deep effect upon all. Another hymn, then I spoke to them
about the "Standard of Jesus," and we felt the power of the presence of
God. Kneeling on the veldt, man after man broke down. Many openly
confessed their sin, others rejoiced in true Methodist style. Even then
they were not satisfied; a prayer-meeting was asked for and all stayed.
It was truly a grand prayer-meeting. Prayers and hymns followed free and
fast, and many at the close, as they pressed forward to shake hands with
me and thank me for coming, said it was one of the happiest Sundays of
their life. "More like a Sunday at home sir, than any we have had out
here; we did not know what Sunday was before." Many found peace with God
that night and determined to lead a new life.

'That night I got permission to have hymns sung in the lines, and you
should have heard the Welsh hymns as they rose and fell in the night
air. Men crowded from all parts. Officers and men jostled in the
crowding ring while the sweet melodies and beautiful harmonies thrilled
every soul. It was a happy ending to a happy day. The Colonel has asked
me to arrange for this hymn-singing every Sunday night, for he says it
is very beautiful, and not only is it highly appreciated by the men, but
it has a beneficial influence on them.

'On Tuesday I had permission to arrange a camp concert. We had a huge
wood fire. A wagon drawn up served for a platform. The Colonel took the
chair. The officers were in the ring and the men grouped around. It was
a weird and romantic sight--all those laughing and appreciative faces in
the flickering fire-light--and we had a very pleasant evening.

'On Monday, as we were still encamped here, I organized a football match
and acted as referee, which in a tropical sun is no sinecure, I can tell
you. On Wednesday I rode into Kroonstadt and had the pleasure of meeting
Mr. Lowry, Mr. Lane, the Canadian chaplain, and Mr. Carey, the resident
Wesleyan minister, and we had a pleasant time.'

Thus progressed the work; thus one Christian worker after another
distinguished himself, while all the time Lord Roberts was rapidly
drawing nearer his goal. Now Brandfort was reached, now Kroonstadt, and
at last the Diamond City, Johannesburg--no, not last, Pretoria lies
beyond, and by-and-by the victorious forces entered the capital of the
Transvaal, and the British flag--symbol of world-wide empire--floated
over the Government Buildings.

And here we pause. The day is now not distant when the British flag will
be respected throughout both those one-time Republics, and peace shall
once more hold sway. When that time comes we predict a magnificent
extension of the kingdom of Christ in South Africa; for we trust that,
with old feuds forgotten and the Spirit of Christ taking possession of
both British and Boer, all forms of Christianity will join hands to make
Christ King throughout the Dark Continent.

Chapter XIII


'Bother war!' writes a guardsman to the Rev. J.H. Hocken. 'Let me get
out of this lot, and never no more.' It is not a very heroic sentiment
certainly, but he wrote from the hospital at Orange River, and doubtless
expressed not only his own sentiments, but the sentiments of a good many
of his comrades. And certainly there seems to have been reason as well
as sentiment in his statement. Listen to this, for instance:--

'At the engagement of Graspans we had some food about 4 p.m. All that
night my battalion was on outpost duty. Next morning we marched about 3
a.m., caught up the division, and took part in the engagement at
Graspans, followed up the enemy, captured a building with forty Boers in
it and a large tent filled with medical comforts, and when we thought of
having some rest and some grub, we were ordered on top of some hills for
outpost duty that night, and we did not have our dinner until the next
day, Sunday morning, at 9 a.m. That is quite true. Forty-one hours
without anything but dirty water, and yet Miss Morphew says Guards are
only for show. But I don't think she meant it. No wonder I am bad.'

=Work at the Orange River Hospital.=

Aye, no wonder, indeed! And week by week, month by month, the Orange
River Hospital has been full ever since the beginning of the war. Here
Army Scripture Reader Pearce, from North Camp, Aldershot, has been in
charge. For a long time he was single-handed in this great hospital
camp. He performed the duty of acting chaplain to all denominations.
General Wauchope before he died spoke of Mr. Pearce's eagerness for
work, and verily there was enough for him to do. At one time he was
assisted by the Canadian chaplain, and latterly by the chaplain of the
Australian contingent. But month by month he went his weary round of
hospital visitation alone. He buried the dead, wrote letters home to the
friends of the dying and the dead, and performed faithfully and well all
the many tasks in a chaplain's routine. At one time there were at least
a hundred Canadians down with enteric at Orange River. The Australian
hospital was also crowded.

The monotony of work must have been terribly trying. It was not for him
to know anything of the excitement of the battle. It was only his to
witness the horrors of the carnage. His pulses did not thrill at sights
of deeds of daring on the field. He only saw the train-loads of wounded
all smeared with dust and blood, and heard the groans that told of
agony. But when the day of reward shall come, the quiet, earnest work of
such as he will not be forgotten, and the great Head of the Church will
say, 'Well done.' No wonder after eight months of such work as this his
nerves gave way, and he was obliged to return home.

At Orange River, too, the Soldiers' Christian Association did good work.
Messrs. Glover, Fotheringham, and Ingram were the means of leading
scores of men to Christ. Dr. Barrie, of the Canadian contingent, who was
temporarily attached to the hospital, gave several addresses, which were
much appreciated, and conducted a weekly Bible Class. Later Messrs.
Charteris and Bird were in charge of the tent, and tell the same blessed
story of nightly effort and nightly success.

=Experiences at Arundel and Colesberg.=

From De Aar, Naauwport, and Arundel we have before us several graphic
letters from the Rev. M.F. Crewdson, late of Johannesburg. Mr. Crewdson
is a Wesleyan minister, and for conspicuous service on the field was
appointed acting chaplain. His hospital stories are full of point and
pathos. He tells of one man with twenty-two shell wounds, and yet living
and cheerful; of another with a hole as big as a hand in his leg, and
another big hole in his arm, and yet refusing to grumble, and professing
himself quite comfortable. Of this man an Australian said, 'He
exasperates me; he never has any pain.' He pictures to us a corporal
seeing to the comfort of his men and horses, and then, by way of a
change, teaching his men the ditty--

    'Life is too short to quarrel.'

[Illustration: ARUNDEL.]

From Colesberg we have a graphic letter from the Rev. E. Bottrill. He
refers to the imprisonment by the Boers of the resident Wesleyan
minister, the Rev. A.W. Cragg, whose health suffered severely from his
three months' confinement. He tells of earnest work in that town so
difficult to capture, of splendid parade services, and of an
extemporised Soldiers' Home in the Wesleyan Church. At Arundel there was
a tent of the S.C.A. and another at Enslin, and at each of these good
work was done.

Everywhere God was with His workers, and gave great success. The spirit
of inquiry was present in all the meetings. Everywhere in this region,
as indeed throughout the whole theatre of war, in camp and hospital, on
the march and on the battlefield, our soldier lads were inquiring, 'What
must I do to be saved?' and not far off was some one ready to reply,
'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'

=An Ostrich Story.=

As a variation from our long record of work in camp and hospital, we
close this chapter with an ostrich story, and venture to take it intact
from _News from the Front_ for April, 1900.

     'In conjunction with the Rev. M.F. Crewdson, Mr. Ingram, of the
     S.C.A., went to Arundel to take charge of a tent which was to be
     erected there. The tent not having arrived he says:--

     '"We went across the country some seven or eight miles, a terrible
     tramp, to visit some graves. It was a lonely, hot, and trying walk,
     and as we were half way back, about 1 p.m., having been walking
     since 6.15 a.m., and having had no meal, we saw an ostrich making
     for us about a mile away. It was up to us in three minutes (a male
     bird), and had evidently seen us from its nest, where it was
     sitting, and thought we were going to interfere with it. It was an
     enormous bird, and was in a rage. It stopped some dozen paces from
     us, and whirled round, flapping its wings and looking truly awful.
     I gave Crewdson my pocket-knife, the only weapon we had, and as the
     wretched thing went circling round us, getting nearer and nearer, I
     suggested to Crewdson that if we came to close quarters, its neck
     would be our only chance (its body was higher than my head). He did
     not think it would come to close quarters, but seemed in a great
     state about our safety, and said, 'Keep together, old man.' 'All
     right,' I said; but the next moment Crewdson had turned to try and
     walk on. I felt to separate, or take our eyes off it, meant an
     attack, so walked backwards; but it no sooner saw that I was a pace
     or two nearer it than Crewdson than it came on me like a very
     whirlwind. I had been reading Psalm xci. in the rain that morning,
     and how grandly it was fulfilled! By a God-given instinct I dropped
     my haversack and your fieldglasses, and did not wait for it to
     reach me, in which case it would have pecked out my eyes and struck
     me with its claws, probably tearing my chest open, but sprang to
     meet it. Death seemed absolutely certain, and though my nerve was
     set, and, as it were, I mentally gave up my life, I met the bird
     with a thud. With both hands I caught its neck before it could lift
     a foot to strike; we both rolled over, and, with strength given me
     at the moment, I clung to its neck until I came up, 'top dog.' But
     then with full fury it began to kick, and had I received a full
     blow I should have probably died, but I hugged too closely to it,
     and then wriggled on to its back, so that it kicked into the air
     away from me, and I only got a 'short arm' blow, and received
     bruises instead of wounds.

     '"Crewdson did not know whether I was alive or dead at first, but
     at my shouts brought my knife; and while I was gripping its throat
     with both hands so that it could not breathe at all, and rolling
     about to avoid kicks, Crewdson tried to cut its gullet. This he
     could not do at first, so I took the knife with my left hand,
     holding the neck with my right, and dug the blade under the
     uplifted wing. It took effect, and the wing seemed to lose force,
     but the blade of my knife was broken, leaving half in the bird. I
     threw Crewdson the knife, and he opened another blade, and managed
     to cut the gullet. The thing was nearly stifled, and, feeling the
     knife, it gave a last and awful struggle, and I really feared I
     should be beaten; however, I also put forth a last effort, and
     gradually the kicks and the struggles subsided. I loosened my grip
     and let the blood flow; and when I thought it was pretty far gone,
     I jumped off and joined Crewdson. Even then it made a wild attempt
     to rise, but could not. Covered with dirt and blood, we plucked a
     few feathers, thanked the Lord for life, and tramped to Arundel,
     and arrived truly tired out.

     '"The stationmaster told us that in 99 cases out of 100 the ostrich
     would have killed me. He says there is not a man in the country who
     would attempt to do what I did."'

So there are in South Africa not only perils of Boors, of bullets, of
shells, of snakes, and of scorpions, but perils of ostriches too! And
from them one and all His workers may well pray, 'Good Lord, deliver

Chapter XIV


Christian work among the troops in Natal went on apace for months prior
to the advance upon Ladysmith. The Pietermaritzburg Y.M.C.A., for
instance, provided two correspondence tents, which were of great service
to the troops.

We have the report of No. 1 tent before us. From December to April this
tent was pitched successively at Chievely, Frere, Springfield,
Spearman's, Zwart Kopjes, beyond Colenso, outside Ladysmith, Modder
Spruit, and finally at Orange River Junction. Its work can be divided
under four heads--Correspondence, Evangelistic, Literary, and Social.

Every day saw the tent full of letter writers, and they were lying on
the ground in front of it also. As a rule not more than two sheets of
paper and two envelopes were given to each applicant. But in this way no
less than twelve thousand sheets and an equal number of envelopes were
distributed during the period named. These workers also performed
amateur post office duties. They sold £25 worth of stamps, and received
over nine thousand letters and three hundred papers and packages.
Efforts were made to supply newspapers for the men, but the difficulties
of transport proved in the end too great to be satisfactorily overcome,
though whenever possible they were obtained.

Nearly every night evangelistic services were held, conducted by some
member of the tent staff of workers, or by an Army Scripture Reader, or
an S.C.A. man.

Various social functions were successfully carried out, and our soldiers
rejoiced over the good things provided for them. They do not, as a rule,
care for free teas at home. You may coax them to go to them, as some
benevolent ladies do; but they can afford to pay for what they get, and
they prefer that plan. The other only spoils them. But abroad things are
different, and Tommy of the capacious appetite took all he could get.
And so would you, my reader, had you been in his place.

The South African General Mission was also in evidence. Mr. Spencer
Walton kept sending good things into the camp of all kinds, and kept up
his ministry of 'comforts' even after Ladysmith was reached.

Our old friends of the Soldiers' Christian Association were, of course,
to the fore. They knew just how to do the rough-and-tumble work
required. Tommy could understand them, because they understood him.
Throughout the campaign there was evidence of Mr. Wheeler's careful
organizing. His agents seem to have been most capable and successful
men, ready for every good word and work, and the work itself such as
will stand the test of time.

=Bivouac in a S.C.A. Tent.=

Take this as a specimen of the readiness to take advantage of any and
every opportunity. Mr. Fleming writes from Frere Camp:--

     'We were preparing for a meeting last night, when we discovered
     something like Boers in the distance coming towards our camp, but
     they turned out to be S.A.L.H. They pitched before our tent to
     bivouac for the night. When they had dismounted the rain began to
     fall in torrents. A major came over to me, and asked me where the
     canteen was; of course, it was shut. I asked him what he wanted to
     buy, as perhaps I could help him. He wanted socks. I took him into
     my tent, and gave him a bath and a pair of socks--made him a drop
     of "sergt.-majors'." His gratitude was unbounded. He said, "Ah,
     this is true Christianity; you're a brick, old boy. Here's a
     sovereign subscription for your kindness." I refused it. "Well,
     I'll never forget you!" "All right," I said, "my name is on the
     socks"; then off I went to see about the others. Met the colonel.
     Offered him the freedom of our large marquee for his men to sleep
     in or shelter as they pleased. He was most grateful, so in the
     midst of a dreadful rainfall about two hundred of these fellows
     found shelter. All were hungry. We had five boxes of biscuits for
     our own use, and fifteen gallons of gingerbeer. Mr. Young, of the
     S.A.G.M., who was a great help to me, took a bucket of the
     gingerbeer and some biscuits to the men on duty on the lines.

     'It was impossible to have our meeting, but we had individual
     dealing with several. I never shall forget the sight of those men
     sleeping in the marquee. Two of them were huddled up in a box like
     monkeys. One man was wringing out his socks; he had fallen into a
     gun pit up to the waist in water. I wanted to lend him a pair, but
     he evidently thought that the feeling of dry socks would be too
     great a contrast to his wet body, for he positively refused my nice
     warm ones. About 10 p.m. I found three men sleeping outside in the
     rain. I asked one of them to come and share my tent. "No, thank
     you, sir, we have only one blanket between us." "Come on, then, the
     three of you." Then the invitation was accepted, and didn't they
     smile as I served them with hot coffee! Mr. Hide's tent (he is at
     Durban) I lent to a major and a captain.

     'The water ran like a river through our camp, so heavy was the
     rainfall. I kept lights in our marquee all night, and toddled out
     and in to see all was right. I was not out of my clothes all night,
     but my lot was a happy one compared with those dear lads--they have
     not been out of their clothes for months, and have never had a tent
     to cover them. This morning, as they left, the gratitude of both
     officers and men was so intense that I had to clear off the
     scene--could not stand it. It has rained in torrents to-day. Got
     wet through. Had splendid meeting to-night. Sure there was definite
     working of the Holy Spirit. The Rev. James Gray, who gave the
     address, has been a great help to us.'[13]

Among the men of the Lancashire Fusiliers, who subsequently lost so
heavily at Spion Kop, there were many conversions. And among the naval
men there were many grand Christians, who were delighted to avail
themselves of the privileges and opportunities which the tent supplied.

The chaplains were, of course, at the front with the men, or as near the
front as they could get, sharing their fatigues and many of their

[Footnote 13: _News from the Front_, May, 1900.]

=A Bit of Christian Comradeship.=

Differences of denomination were for the most part forgotten, and the
Rev. Mr. Gedge, the Church of England chaplain, and the Rev. T.H.
Wainman, the Wesleyan, were the best of friends and comrades. Mr. Gedge
soon became a power for good. His tent meetings were crowded, and his
preaching told with great effect, many being brought to Christ. His
open-air work was splendidly done. Here is a delightful bit of Christian
comradeship, which we wish we could see oftener repeated in this
country. The Rev. T.H. Wainman writes:--

     'After watching the men who were formed for guard duties, etc., for
     some time, I noticed Major Gedge, the Church of England army
     chaplain, and several Army and Navy League workers come along,
     evidently intent on holding a voluntary service. I joined them, and
     helped in the singing of half a dozen hymns, which by this time had
     brought together a large number of the soldiers. Mr. Gedge asked me
     to give the address. I did so, and had a most happy time, the men
     listening for twenty minutes or more with evident interest. I
     interspersed my address with illustrations from my travels and
     experience in this country, which seemed to hold them in attention
     to the finish. The General Confession was then recited and a few
     other prayers from the Liturgy, and one of the most hearty and
     successful voluntary services was concluded by the singing of the
     hymn "Glory to Thee, my God, this night." I went to my tent
     thankful for the good work being done by the various Christian
     organizations, and convinced that many went home with new
     aspirations after a better and nobler life.'[14]

[Footnote 14: _Methodist Times_, Feb. 8, 1900.]

=The Chaplains of the Church of England.=

Here, perhaps, we may refer for a moment to the services of the Church
of England chaplains in general. The Church is singularly fortunate in
the men it has sent to the front. The senior chaplain with the Guards,
Colonel Faulkner, has set an example to all the others by his intense
devotion. He has advanced all the way with Lord Roberts to Pretoria and
beyond. He has returned invalided, but not until he has nobly done the
work he was commissioned to do.

The chaplains sent out from Aldershot were men whom every one esteems
and loves. The praise of the Rev. R. Deane Oliver is on every one's
lips. Of the Rev. A.F.C. Hordern we shall have occasion to speak when we
come to the siege of Ladysmith. The Rev. T. P. Moreton is an eloquent
preacher and a Christian gentleman, interested in all good work. And
what shall we say of the Rev. A.W.B. Watson? He is a hero, though, like
all other heroes, he would be the last to believe it.

=Mr. Watson in the Soudan and in South Africa.=

Sitting at the tea table of a corporal of the Medical Staff Corps a
short time ago, we began to talk of Mr. Watson. 'Ah!' said he, 'Mr.
Watson is my hero. You know he went through the Soudan campaign. I had
charge of the cholera tent. At one time I was left alone to manage it.
Not another chaplain but Mr. Watson came near. Twice a day he came
without fail. One day he came in, and found me lying on the floor in a
state of complete prostration. He lifted me up and carried me to his
tent. He then came back to the tent of which I had charge, and all day
he attended to my poor cholera patients, washed them, and performed all
my most loathsome duties. Love him! of course I love him. I would lay
down my life for him.'

Mr. Watson has gone to South Africa at the risk of his life, but he
would go. He had been through a severe operation, and was in a most
critical condition. He begged permission to go, but of course the
doctors could not pass him. He could not, however, bear to think of his
men being there without him. And after trying one expedient after
another, he, who had been refused permission on the ground of
ill-health, at last got out under the plea that the climate of South
Africa might be beneficial! May God spare him for many years!

=The Rev. T.H. Wainman.=

But this is a long digression! The Wesleyan chaplain was the Rev. T.H.
Wainman, a sturdy Yorkshireman, who had spent many years in South Africa
as a Wesleyan missionary. He was not new to the duties of a chaplain,
for years ago he was with Sir Charles Warren in Bechuanaland. He took to
his new work as though he had only just laid it down, and bullets and
shells seemed to have no terror for him.

At the parade service at Chievely on the day of the advance to
Spearman's Hill, Mr. Wainman took for his text, 'Speak unto the children
of Israel that they go forward.' He might have known what was coming,
for the last line of 'Onward, Christian Soldiers' had hardly been sung,
and the Benediction pronounced, before rumours of the advance spread
through the camp, and by two p.m. the advance had really commenced. At
daylight next morning the battle began, and Mr. Wainman describes what
he calls a 'cool piece of daring.'

='A Cool Piece of Daring.'=

     'At the same time the firing of cannon to our right was fast and
     furious, the shells dropping and bursting right among our field
     artillery. I watched with breathless anxiety, expecting all our
     guns to be abandoned, and half the men killed, when to my
     astonishment the men rode their horses right among the bursting
     shells, and hooking them to their guns rode quietly away, taking
     gun after gun into safety. In some instances a horse fell, and this
     necessitated the men waiting in their terrible position until
     another horse could be brought, harnessed, and attached to the gun.
     Eventually all were brought out of range, but a more plucky piece
     of daring and heroism I have never witnessed, and never expect to
     witness in my life. The officers rode up and down directing their
     men as though heedless of danger, and the only casualty I heard of,
     excepting the horses, was a captain having his foot shattered.'[15]

He himself showed many a cool piece of daring before he got to
Ladysmith, and when, after the fight at Spion Kop, some one had to go
and bury the dead, he bravely volunteered, and performed this last
ministry for his dead comrades under heavy fire. For his bravery on that
occasion he was promoted to the rank of major. Those associated with him
in this awful task were Major Gedge, the Church of England chaplain, and
Fathers Collins and Matthews (Roman Catholics). This was the Father
Matthews who was captured with his men at Nicholson's Nek, and
afterwards released.

There was now but little opportunity for ordinary Christian work. The
last struggle for the relief of Ladysmith had commenced, and was to be
carried on in grim earnest to the end. The men were ready to follow
their leaders anywhere, but could not understand the frequent retreats.
This much every man knew, however, that when he marched out with his
regiment in the morning it was very doubtful whether he would be alive
at night. This thought sobered every one, and many a man prayed who had
never prayed before.

[Footnote 15: _Methodist Times_.]

=General Lyttleton's Brigade Formed up for Prayer Before Going into

One of the most remarkable facts of the campaign is this. Before General
Lyttleton's brigade marched out from its camping ground for its
desperate task it was formed up in close column--formed up not for an
inspection, but for prayer. We have never heard of anything else like it
in the history of war. The Bishop of Natal was with the troops, and he
suggested to General Lyttleton that the best preparation for the battle
was prayer. He himself led in prayer for the other regiments, while at
the request of the colonel the Army Scripture Reader attached to the
Scottish Rifles offered prayer. With prayer rising for them and
following them, they marched to the conflict. It was to many a
Sacrament. It was their _Sacramentum_--their oath of allegiance to the
King of kings.

Strange things happen in war. Perhaps this is one of the strangest. And
yet if there were more prayer there would be less war. May be the voice
of prayer rising from our British army to the throne of God--rising also
from friends in the homeland far away, is another Sacrament--a sign and
a seal of the blessings foretold when the Prince of Peace shall reign.

=The Struggle for Spion Kop.=

Potgieter's Drift, Spion Kop, Pieter's Hill--these are names that will
live in the memory of every British soldier with Sir Redvers Buller. Of
all fights Spion Kop was perhaps the most terrible, as it was the most
disastrous. It was called Spion Kop, or Spying Mountain, because it was
from this eminence the old Boer trekkers spied out the land in the days
gone by. It was more than a hill--it was a mountain, and a mountain with
a most precipitous ascent. To climb it meant hauling oneself up from one
rock to another. It was a task that required all a strong man's
strength. Yet up it went our men without a moment's hesitation. It was
almost like climbing a house side. But one man helped another, the
stronger pulling up the weaker, until they halted for a moment
breathless at the top. 'Charge!' and away they went. The bayonets were
covered with blood after that awful charge, and then, their work for the
moment accomplished, they lay down, for the bullets were whistling
around them. In the dense darkness they began to build sangars as best
they could. All night long they worked, and never for a moment were
they allowed to work in peace. When morning broke they saw that their
entrenchments were far too small, and though they held out all day,
their position was commanded by the Boers on higher ground, and so
became untenable. Shells burst behind every rock. Bullets like hail
rained upon them, and although they fought as all true Britishers can,
they were at last withdrawn--withdrawn, perhaps, when victory was almost
within their grasp.

It is not our purpose to describe the fight; that we leave to others.
What we have said serves but as a reminder. The question that concerns
us is, How did our men hold themselves through that awful day?

=Touching Incidents at Spion Kop.=

We read of one, a Wesleyan local preacher,--Mr. W.F. Low,--wounded by a
bullet through his collar bone and shoulder blade; wounded again by a
fragment of shell striking his leg, worn out by excitement and
fatigue--so worn out that he actually slept, notwithstanding the pain of
his wound, until awoke by sharp pain of his second wound. We read of
this man crawling over to the wounded lying near him, passing water from
his water-bottle to one and another, gathering the water-bottles of the
dead men round about, and giving them to those yet living. And yet the
cry of 'Water,' 'Water!' was heard on every side, and there were many to
which he could not respond. He tells how many of the men were praying,
how their cries of repentance seemed to him too often cries of
cowardice; though who would not fear to enter the presence of God all
unprepared and unforgiven? Well might many of them cry for mercy.

One man spent his last moments in writing a letter to his chum, who had
led him to Christ but the day before. 'Dear brother in Christ Jesus,' he
wrote, 'I owe my very soul to you. If it had not been for you, I should
not have been ready to die now. It seems hard only to give the last few
hours of my life to His service, but I must say "Good-bye." The angels
are calling me home. I can see them and the glorious city. Good-bye, and
may God bless you!'

Says the one who in rough-and-ready fashion had so recently led his chum
to Christ, 'It cheered me to know he was all right with the Master. Now
I must look out for more work for Him.'

=The Tortures of the Wounded.=

Then started that sad procession to the rear--the procession of
ox-waggons containing the poor mangled bodies of our wounded. Oh! the
horrors of it! 'How much longer will it be?' 'Will the road soon be
smoother?' cried the longsuffering lads. Who shall tell the tale of
agony? Aye! who shall tell the heroism then displayed? Who shall
describe how rough men became as gentle women, and how those racked with
pain themselves yet tried to minister to the wants of others? Oh! war is
devil's work; but surely at no time do human love and human sympathy
show themselves so often, or prove themselves so helpful, as amidst its

Of all hospitals that at Mooi River was the best. This is the testimony
of one and all. 'You went in there,' said one lad, 'a skeleton. You came
out a giant.' And at Mooi at last, many of these poor wounded soldier
lads found themselves, and amidst comfort that seemed to them luxury and
rest that was heaven itself they were many of them wooed back to life.

But what of the men still at the front? Effort after effort! Retreat
followed by advance! Misunderstanding and mistake here and there. And
then Pieter's Hill! Ask the soldier who has come back wounded from
Pieter's Hill--and how many of them are there?--what he thought of it.
He can give you but a confused picture of the fight. He has no idea of
the plan in the general's mind. But ask him of his experiences. His
wound was nothing; he will not dwell upon that. But the time spent upon
the ground after the wound was received--twenty-four hours, forty-eight,
three days, and in one case, at any rate, so the poor fellow told us,
four days--before the stretcher party carried them to the rear. It could
not be helped. There was no reaching the wounded. They were scattered
far and near. They lay where they fell, starving for want of food, dying
of thirst under a South African sun. Oh! the horror of it! But your
soldier cannot describe it. It will be a nightmare to him for life. You
speak to him on the subject 'How long did you lie there?' You want to
inquire a little further; but he shakes his head,' Don't ask me, 'twas
too awful,' and he turns his head away.

='Men, Christ can Save Me even Now.'=

Seated in the Buckingham Palace Soldiers' Home the other day, some men
from Pieter's Hill were chatting together. 'And what was your
experience?' said the chaplain. 'Oh! I just realized how God could save,
and God could keep. It was terribly hard, but all through those fearful
battles I had always peace--always joy.'

And then he continued, 'I never think of Pieter's Hill but I think of
Armstrong. You did not know Armstrong. He used to be in the orderly room
every week--a bad lad was poor old Armstrong. But when we were in India
he gave himself to Christ. He was never in the orderly room after that.
One day his major met him. "Armstrong," said he, "what's the matter? we
never see you in the orderly room now."

"No, sir," he said, "old Armstrong's gone. A new Armstrong's come."
"What do you mean?" queried his officer. "Just this, sir; I've given my
heart to God, and chucked the sin."

'So he lived until he went to the war, and so he died. He passed through
Spion Kop unscathed, but on Pieter's Hill a bullet went through his
head. As he fell he cried, "Men, Christ can save me even now! It's all
right, I'm going home," and he died.'

The Guardsmen came thronging round while this man of the Royal Irish
Rifles told about his chum They listened with tears in their eyes; they
listened to tell the story again to others. And so the good news that
Christ can save upon the battle-field is sent flying through the British

'Were you in that night attack at Ladysmith?' asked one turning to
another. 'Yes, I was there.' 'Did you see Lieutenant Fergusson when he
fell?' 'Yes, I was close to him. I went up to him and said, "Are you
much hurt, sir? Can I take you in?" "No thank you, my lad; I'm done
for," replied the dying officer. "Take some fellow you can save.'" And
so he, too, died like a hero.

The officer inside the besieged town and the private soldier outside
attempting to save him--are one in this, that they know how to die; and
England calls each 'hero'!

And so through blood and fire, over heaps of slain, General Sir Redvers
Duller passed into Ladysmith--passed in just in time; passed in to see
men with wan cheeks and sunken eyes--an army of skeletons; but passed in
to find the old flag still flying.


Chapter XV


The defence of Ladysmith by Sir George White and his heroic band of
soldiers will rank as one of the finest feats in British history. It is
not for us to tell the story of the siege. Historians of the war will do
that. We need only remind our readers that from October 30, 1899, when
the bombardment began, to February 28, 1900, when General Buller's
advance guard marched into the town, our troops were closely
besieged--besieged so closely that the Boers thought there was no
possible chance of relief. 'Ladysmith will never be relieved,' said a
Boer to one of our chaplains. 'No troops in the world will ever be able
to get through Colenso to Ladysmith. It is absolutely impregnable.' But
they did, and one hardly knows which to admire most the dogged
persistence of General Buller and his men or the heroic defence, the
patient, confident waiting of the beleaguered troops.

='Thank God, We have Kept the Flag Flying.'=

It is, however, with the Ladysmith garrison we are concerned at the
present time. These men had but little of the excitement of battle to
stir their nerves and inspire them for fresh efforts. They had to fight
the sterner fight,--the fight with disease and famine. They watched
their comrades sicken and die--not one at a time, but by scores and
hundreds--but they held on and held out for Queen and country.

    'While ever upon the topmost roof
      Our banner of England blew.'

'Thank God, we have kept the flag flying!' said Sir George White, when
at last deliverance came. The words will become historic, and fathers
will tell their sons for long centuries to come how in Ladysmith, as at
Lucknow, English soldiers preferred rather to die than to surrender; and
how, surrounded as they were, they, for old England's sake, kept the
flag flying.

It remains for us to tell the story of Christian work in connection with
the siege, and through all the darkness of those terrible four months
such work runs as a golden thread of light.

=Christian Workers in Ladysmith.=

There were in Ladysmith when the siege began three Church of England
chaplains and one acting chaplain, viz.: Rev. E.G.F. Macpherson (senior
chaplain), at first attached to the Divisional troops; Rev. A.V.C.
Hordern, attached to the Cavalry Brigade; Rev. J.G.W. Tuckey, attached
to the 7th Brigade; and the Rev. D. McVarish (acting chaplain), attached
to the 8th Brigade. In addition to these there were Archdeacon
Barker, of the local civilian church, and the Rev. G. Pennington, a
local clergyman attached as acting chaplain to the Colonial Volunteers.

[Illustration: REV. A.V.C. HORDERN.

(From a photograph by Knight, Newport, I.W.)]

The Presbyterians had one chaplain, viz., the Rev. Thomas Murray, of the
Free Church of Scotland, and one acting chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Thompson.

The Wesleyan Methodists had one acting chaplain, the Rev. Owen Spencer
Watkins, who had but a short time before returned from the Soudan, where
he had accompanied the troops to Omdurman. There were also in the town
the Rev. S. Barrett Cawood, the local Wesleyan missionary, and the Rev.
S.H. Hardy, of Johannesburg, who happened to be on a visit to the town,
and who, though without official position, rendered yeoman service
throughout the siege.

In addition to these chaplains there were two or three Army Scripture

=Every Man Hit except the Chaplain.=

Most of these chaplains had already received their baptism of fire. At
Reitfontein Messrs. Macpherson and Hordern had found themselves in a
particularly warm corner. Some fifteen men of the Gloucesters, with an
officer, were in a donga which provided hardly any cover, and the two
chaplains going out to the Field Hospital had perforce to share with
their comrades the dangers of the terrible position. The Boers were
firing at them with awful precision, and when the Liverpools--all
unconscious that a handful of English were seeking cover in the
donga--commenced to fire at the Boers, it made retreat for the
dauntless fifteen impossible. They had unwillingly to remain where they
were until the Boers were put out of action by the Liverpools. When at
last the firing ceased, it was found that nearly every man of that
unlucky fifteen was hit, with the exception of the chaplains, who came
out unscathed.

This was an experience that perhaps would have been enough for most men,
but chaplains, like private soldiers, have to get used to bullets flying
around them. It is no use preaching religion to the men, if the chaplain
is not able to show by his own coolness in the hour of danger that he is
fit for something else than preaching, that he is ready to share the
men's dangers and privations, and that he too can set an example of

Mr. Watkins had received his baptism of fire in the Soudan, and, like
the rest, did not fear the sharp ping, followed by the dull thud, of the
Mauser, or the deeper swish of the Martini. No one got used to shells.
They ever continued a terror, and when the whistle sounded, giving
warning that the wisp of smoke had been seen coming from one of the Boer
Long Toms, and intimating that in some twenty-eight seconds the dreaded
shell would burst above them, it was astonishing how fast and how far
even the oldest and the stoutest could travel in search of cover.

=Personal Dangers Met by Chaplains on Duty in the Field.=

One or two short stories may put into clearer perspective the personal
danger of our chaplains on the field. Messrs. Hordern and Tuckey were
both with their men in the Lombard's Kop fight. Mr. Hordern was attached
to the Field Hospital, which was sheltering from the shot and shell
under the shadow of a huge hill. By-and-by came the order for the
hospital to retire. It was about a mile and a quarter from Ladysmith,
and there were no sheltering hills. The Red Cross was distinctly marked
on the ambulance wagons, and the Indian dhooli-bearers must have been
clearly seen; but as soon as the hospital emerged from the cover of the
hill a Boer gun opened fire upon it, and very soon shell was falling
upon all sides. With Mr. Hordern was the Rev. S.H. Hardy, and both of
them were exposed to the full fire of the enemy. Mr. Hordern, thinking
there might possibly be a safer place than the very centre of the
cavalcade, spurred his horse forward, and the moment after a shell burst
on the very spot where he had been.

On another occasion Mr. Owen Watkins was out with the Field Hospital,
and he and the doctor dismounted in order, if possible, to bring in some
wounded from under fire. They had just accomplished this self-imposed
mission when a shot, coming a little too near, disturbed Mr. Watkins'
horse, which bolted. In trying to find it he lost sight of the hospital,
which had moved away, and found himself in desperate plight. Neither
horse nor hospital to be seen, and a mile and a half of open country
between him and safety. The Boers' bullets were falling around him, and
there was nothing for it but to run, and amid a perfect hail of bullets
he fled in the direction of Ladysmith. That run seemed the longest in
his life, but unscathed he came through it, and found another hospital
wagon full of wounded, returning to the town. Into it he got, and other
horrors of war were at once before him. He had no time to think of his
own near escape from death, for there was a dying lad upon his knee.
Another was leaning his head on his shoulder, and his hands were busy
passing water or brandy to the wounded or dying.

Through such experiences our chaplains go, and go gladly, for Him who is
at once their Saviour and their King. Not much is heard of their work,
not often are they mentioned in despatches; only one of them has ever
received the Victoria Cross, but most of them are heroes, and deserve
well of the country that gave them birth. It is sufficient for them that
they receive the praise of God, and there can be no higher reward for
them than the Master's 'Well done.'

=Services in Ladysmith.=

Parade services in Ladysmith were difficult to hold. They were, however,
held as regularly as possible. The chaplain would mount his horse about
4.45 a.m., and ride off to some distant post. For a quarter of an
hour he would pray with and talk to the men, and then ride to another
service at some further post. And so in the early morning he would
conduct three or four different parades. 'Often,' says Mr. Hordern,
'they used to hold them in the trenches, so as to be out of reach of the
Boer guns. All the men had their rifles, ready to rush to their posts at
a moment's notice. Every Sunday there was a celebration of the Holy
Sacrament in the open air, and I shall never forget the sight--the
officers and men kneeling together, just leaving their rifles as they
came up to communicate, and going back to their posts immediately
afterwards. The Boers pretended never to fight on Sundays, but they
could never trust them. One day they dropped eight shells into one of
his cavalry parade services which was assembling. Although the Boers
pretended to keep Sunday and not fire, yet some Monday mornings a new
gun would open on them that was not in its position on the Saturday.
That was one way of keeping Sunday.[16]


The English church was open for worship all through the siege. It was
the only church not used as a hospital; but its windows being small and
its roof low, it would not have made an ideal hospital, and it did
splendid duty as a church. The other churches--the Wesleyan,
Presbyterian, and Dutch Reformed--were gladly surrendered for hospital
purposes, for there was all too little hospital accommodation, and all
too great a need.

For the most part the chaplains spent their Sunday mornings in visiting
their men, going from regiment to regiment, and speaking a word for
Christ wherever possible.

As the months passed, and the Boer attentions became more personal and
incessant, the troops at the front had to leave their huts or tents and
sleep in the open, and everywhere tents, if used at night, were folded
up by day, and the troops were left absolutely without cover through the
terrible heat, except such as they could find behind rock, or bush, or

[Footnote 16: Burnley _Express_, May 5, 1900.]

=Disease in Ladysmith.=

And then came disease! Ladysmith had been singularly free from enteric
before the war. The scourge of South Africa had passed it by. But it
follows an army like an angel of destruction. For weeks its broad wings
hovered above our troops, and then with fell swoop it descended.

Intombi Hospital Camp was formed right under the shadow of Mount
Bulwane, and by an arrangement with the Boers one train per day to
Ladysmith and back was allowed to run. It began with 250 patients, and
at one time had as many as 1,900. The formation of the camp meant to
some extent a division of Christian work. Messrs. Macpherson, Thompson,
Owen S. Watkins, Cawood, and Hardy, together with Father Ford, remained
in the town and camp. Messrs. Hordern, Tuckey, Pennington, and Murray,
together with Father O'Donnell, the Roman Catholic chaplain, went to
Intombi. Later on, when the hospital became so crowded that it was
impossible for the enfeebled staff of chaplains to cope with the work,
Mr. Macpherson joined them.

It is impossible to speak too highly of the heroism of these Intombi
chaplains. At first it is hard for most men to face shot and shell, but
there is always a thrill of excitement with it, and there is a strange
fascination in danger of this kind, which has a weird charm all its own.
But to face death in a great hospital camp such as this! To be all day
and half the night visiting the sick and dying where there are no
comforts, very little food, and the medicine has run short; to see that
hospital steadily grow,--men on the bed-cots, men lying between them; to
watch men struggling in the agonies of the disease, with dying men close
beside them; to have to step over one prostrate figure to get to the
side of some dying man and whisper words of comfort and prayer, while
shrieks of agony come from either side; to feel weary, becoming
gradually weaker through want of food, to know that ere long one's own
turn would come, and the inexorable disease would claim its victim; to
go through the same daily round of loathsome duty, and find in it one's
highest privilege; to endure, to suffer, to dare, to sympathise, to
soothe, to help; evening by evening to listen to the last requests of
dying men, and morning by morning to lay them in their hastily dug
graves--all this requires heroism compared with which the heroism of
battle pales into insignificance. We do not wonder that the Intombi
chaplains were mentioned in despatches, and that the love of the
soldier goes out to these devoted men.

As Mr. Watkins felt it his duty to remain in Ladysmith Town with his
men, Mr. Murray had charge of the Wesleyans in Intombi, as well as of
the Presbyterians. But, as a matter of fact, in face of such stern
realities as disease and death, all names and sects were forgotten. The
chaplains were all brethren, the men were all human beings for whom
Christ died, and each did his best for all. Open-air parade services
were tried for the convalescents, but it soon became impossible to hold
them. The chaplains went round the marquees and prayed with and talked
to the men. The Church of England chaplains had Holy Communion every
Sunday morning, and for one month, until sickness prevented, there was
daily Communion.

By-and-by the list of dangerous cases became so large that it was
impossible to go round in one visit. Enfeebled by work and want, the
chaplains struggled from bed to bed, until often they were too weak to
finish their task. Their only relief was to get an occasional run into
Ladysmith, and to that they looked forward as a haven of rest. What
mattered if shells did fly about!--they had an occasional stray bullet
at Intombi too--and shells, much as they were dreaded, were better than

It was during one of these occasional breaks that the four Church of
England chaplains were having lunch at the Ladysmith Hotel, when a shell
burst right in the hotel itself. They were covered with dust, but
that was all. Not so easily, however, did they escape disease. One after
the other at Intombi failed. Mr. Hordern was down with dysentery for
between five and six weeks, Mr. Macpherson eight weeks, Mr. Tuckey had
Natal fever for three weeks, and all of them were left very enfeebled.

[Illustration: REV. THOMAS MURRAY.

(By permission of Mr. M. Jacolette, of Dover.)]

=Mr. Murray's Description of the Fight with Enteric Fever.=

Mr. Murray, of the Scotch Free Church, bravely struggled on. At one time
he was left single-handed. The admiration of the other chaplains for
this man was great indeed. He seemed to lead a charmed life, and though
he rapidly aged during the siege, he never gave up. He was overworked
and half-starved, but he always had a cheery word for every one. He
tells the story himself with characteristic modesty in _The Church of
Scotland Home and Foreign Mission Record_. Let us listen to him:--

     'Very soon enteric fever and dysentery appeared among the troops,
     and the daily morning train from Ladysmith brought ever fresh
     batches of patients. The hospital camp grew rapidly. The maximum
     number was nearly 1,900, but for many weeks the daily average was
     1,700. Unhappily, of the four Church of England chaplains, two were
     at an early stage laid aside by sickness, and for more than _five
     weeks_ the whole of the work fell to one Church of England chaplain
     and myself. We worked hand in hand. It was not a question of
     "religion," but wherever spiritual help was needed, there one of us
     was found. Our first work each day was the burial of the dead.
     Daily, for three long months, _all of us_ might be seen heading the
     dismal procession of six, or ten, or fifteen, and on one occasion
     of nineteen dead, whom we were conducting to their last
     resting-place. That duty over, the remainder of the day was busily
     employed in ministering to the sick and dying in the numerous
     hospital marquees. On Sunday we did what we could to hold services
     in these marquees, but it was impossible on any one day to overtake
     all. There was, however, each Sunday afternoon an open-air service
     at which convalescent patients could be present.

=Work Among the Refugees.=

     'Besides the work I have just described, I had another piece of
     work unexpectedly cut out for me, which was full of interest and
     rich in good fruits.

     'Close by our hospital camps was a civilian camp, where dwelt in
     tents or in rude shanties several hundreds of refugees. There were
     well-to-do farmers and their families, driven from their homes in
     Upper Natal; railway people, station-masters, guards, clerks, etc.;
     miners from Glencoe and Dundee; and not a few people from Ladysmith
     itself. The greater number of these were Scotch, and it was natural
     that I should take spiritual charge of them, for they were out in
     the wilderness, sheep without a shepherd. Every Sunday morning at
     ten o'clock, and Sunday evening at seven o'clock, I held an
     open-air service for them, the convalescent from the military camps
     attending likewise. It was a sight I shall never forget, to see
     these homeless ones sitting round me on the veldt, listening to the
     preaching of the Gospel, making welcome, as perhaps some of them
     had never done before, the precious promises of divine consolation
     of which their souls stood so much in need. Many were devout and
     earnest Christian men and women, and the weekly fellowship, in song
     and supplication, with God and with one another, did much, I do not
     doubt, to enable them to endure the tribulations which were their
     appointed lot.

     'So, amid these many labours, the months flee past. You know the
     story of the several attempts to relieve us. Away over the hills,
     on December 15, we heard the fierce roll of the artillery, and our
     hopes beat high. But the ominous silence of the next few days
     prepared us for the mournful tidings that that attempt had failed.
     Then came January 6, and the determined assault by the Boers on
     Ladysmith. It began before dawn close by our camp, and all day long
     we watched the struggle, as it swayed this way and that, like the
     waves of the sea, till at last British valour gained the day. But
     much precious life was lost.

     'After that, on January 20, the hills once more re-echoed the roar
     of distant artillery. This was the attempt at Spion Kop and
     Potgieter's Drift. After days of uncertainty, we learned that our
     relief was not yet.

     'At last in the early weeks of February began the final and heroic
     effort of General Sir Redvers Buller's forces. Day and night the
     firing ceased not, and we rejoiced to mark that it came nearer and
     nearer. Suddenly the enemy's forces melted away, all in a night, as
     once before, long since, around Samaria.

     'On Wednesday evening, February 28, we descried a small body of
     horsemen coming through a gap in the hills, as it were a little
     stream trickling down the mountain side. We looked in amazement.
     The British guns were silent. It could be no foe. Suddenly a loud
     British cheer burst from the advancing troop, and we knew our
     relief was accomplished. It was Lord Dundonald's advanced patrol.
     Next day, March 1, General Buller and his staff rode in.

     'I have only to add that, by the good hand of God upon me, I have
     been preserved all through from sickness and disease.'

Of all things the men dreaded enteric. 'My lad,' said Mr. Hordern to one
of the men who had just come into hospital, 'have you got enteric

'No, sir,' was the reply; 'I am _only_ wounded.'

They have come back now, hundreds of them, and as we interview them, one
and all declare in their own terse language, 'We would rather have three
or four hits than one enteric.'

=Testimonies to the Reality of Christian Work.=

But all this time Christian work in the town and camp had been going
steadily forward. On Sunday as many services as possible were held, and
night by night Christian soldiers gathered together for prayer. There
was a spirit of inquiry about spiritual things. Death was very near, and
in its immediate presence the men felt the importance of decision for
Christ. Letter after letter tells of conversions at the soldiers' simple

Staff-Quarter-Master-Sergeant Luchford, for instance, writes a letter
which is a sample of scores of others:--'On Tuesday last I managed to
get the brethren together for a fellowship meeting, and a very blessed
and helpful time we had, as each told out of the fulness of his heart
how great things the Lord had done for his soul. Last Sunday we also got
together for an hour and pleaded with God for an outpouring of His
Spirit upon the congregation assembled for the service. One young fellow
of the R.A. was very deeply impressed, and I trust that the next news I
hear is that he has surrendered to the conquering power of the Holy

=Stirring Events Related by Mr. Watkins.=

In the camp with his men Mr. Watkins was having stirring times. His was
the excitement and dash, and when there was any fighting, he was sure to
be near. He narrates some strange experiences in the Methodist papers.
We venture to quote one or two paragraphs from the _Methodist Recorder_.

     'On December 7, there was a brilliant attack by the British on Gun
     Hill, where three of the Boer guns were captured. This brilliant
     attack was made by Colonial volunteers, led by Sir Archibald
     Hunter, and was entirely successful. The next morning there was a
     further attempt by the cavalry to cut the telegraph wires and tear
     up the railway which brought the Boers' supplies. This, however,
     was not so successful. The Boers were ready for our men, and they
     suffered severely. Then came the chaplain's opportunity.

     'Hearing that there were wounded still lying on the field, I
     hastened off to see if I could be of any use, and had not gone far
     before I met a young medical officer, who had galloped in under a
     heavy fire. He told me that out in the open Captain Hardy (Medical
     Officer of the 18th Hussars) was lying in a hole with a severely
     wounded man, whom he could not get in because the firing was so
     hot. So, having with me a Red Cross flag, we turned our horses'
     heads and rode out to their assistance. For the first few seconds
     the bullets flew fast around us, but as soon as our flag was seen
     the firing ceased, we released our friends from their uncomfortable
     predicament, and sent back the wounded man in a dhooli.

     'We were then met by two armed burghers carrying a white flag, who
     told us of yet other wounded lying in their lines, and offered to
     guide us to them. Under their care we penetrated right behind the
     firing line of the enemy, who were holding the ridge now between
     us and the town, and firing heavily. Here we found two of our
     gallant fellows dead--shot through the head--and several wounded
     men, and it was not long before the dhoolis we had brought with us
     were full. The burghers had shown every kindness to the wounded;
     each man had been provided with food and drink, and nothing could
     exceed the courtesy shown towards ourselves by these men, who were
     in the very act of firing on our comrades. A queer thing, war!

     'Having started the dhooli-bearers with their heavy loads on their
     way to town, Captain Hardy and myself continued our search along
     the ridge for wounded and dead, but were thankful to find there
     were no more. Once again we turned our faces to beleaguered
     Ladysmith, having collected, in all, two killed and fifteen wounded
     men, many of them badly hurt, poor fellows.

     'The two following days were unusually quiet, and on the Sunday I
     was enabled to hold four services, which were very well attended,
     and to us all seasons of rich blessing. But on Sunday night the
     Rifle Brigade made an attack upon Surprise Hill, capturing a gun
     that for weeks past had been worrying us considerably, and blowing
     it into fragments in the air. The attack was well planned, and
     would have resulted in very small loss to us, only in blowing up
     the gun the first fuse used proved defective, and another train had
     to be laid, thus causing a delay of over ten valuable minutes. The
     result was that the Boers had time to turn out in force from a
     neighbouring laager, and were waiting to receive our men as they
     came down the hill. Then ensued a scene of indescribable
     confusion; in the darkness it was impossible to distinguish friend
     from foe, and the shouts of our men were answered in English by the
     enemy, thus making the confusion a hundred times worse. One who was
     present told me that it was the most terrible experience of his
     life. They came down the hill between a lane of blazing rifles,
     sometimes the flash not being more than five yards from them. Few
     ever expected to get out alive, but the men behaved splendidly,
     charging with the bayonet again and again, and when at last the
     foot of the hill was reached asking their Colonel (Lieut.-Colonel
     Metcalfe) for permission to charge again.

=Within the Boer Lines.=

     'Of course, as soon as it was light the doctors of the Bearer
     Company, with dhoolies, were out to seek amongst the rocks for the
     wounded and the slain, and it was not long before I was on my way
     to join them. But on reaching our outpost on Observation Hill I was
     told that the Boers were so infuriated at the loss of another gun
     that they had taken the doctors prisoners and were going to send
     them to Pretoria. But just at that moment a native came in with a
     note from the senior medical officer, asking that surgical
     necessaries be sent at once, for many of the wounded were seriously
     hurt. After much parley through the telephone with head-quarters,
     it was at last decided that the things be sent at once, and if I
     were willing that I should be the bearer, for the Boers were
     more likely to respect "the cloth" than anything else; also by
     previous visits I had become known to many of the burghers. So
     forthwith I started upon what many said was my way to Pretoria, and
     on reaching the enemy, truth to say, it looked very much like it.
     They were furiously angry, and I was made to join the little group
     of doctors, bearers and wounded, who, under a strong guard, were
     sitting and lying under the shade of a tree.


     'But before very long we were at liberty again. A flag of truce had
     been sent out by General White, expostulating with the Boer
     general, and resulted in the general in question--General
     Erasmus--galloping up to tell us we were at liberty to continue our
     work, only we must be as quick about it as possible. Fifty-one
     wounded men we found, three of them officers, and nine killed, of
     whom one was an officer. At the foot of the hill that they had won
     we buried them, marking the place where they lay with stones heaped
     over the grave in the form of a cross. Then we wearily returned to
     camp, for by then the day was far spent, and we had had nothing to
     eat since dawn. That night I was again called to perform the sad
     ceremony of burial. Four men had died of their wounds during the
     day, and in darkness it had to be done, for the cemetery is within
     reach of the enemy's guns, and we feared to show a light, lest it
     should "draw fire." So I recited as much of the Burial Service as I
     could remember, and offered an extemporary prayer. It was a strange
     experience thus to bury our comrades by stealth; but, alas! during
     these latter days it has ceased to seem strange, because of its

=Work in Ladysmith Town.=

Meanwhile in the town, and sometimes with the soldiers in the fight, Mr.
Cawood and Mr. Hardy were rendering splendid service. Mr. Cawood kept in
good health throughout, but when, on the relief of Ladysmith, the
President of the South African Conference (Rev. W. Wynne) visited the
town, he reported that Mr. Cawood looked ten years older. No wonder that
such was the case, for he was in labours more abundant, and nothing was
too mean or trivial for him to perform. Such was also the case with Mr.
Hardy. He did not seem to know fear. Brave when the bullets fell thick,
he was just as brave in the midst of the strain of hospital work. He was
but a visitor in the town, and had no official connection with either
troops or civilian church. But he turned his hand to anything, and when
the hospitals were crowded and workers were few, he actually had himself
appointed a hospital orderly, and performed the meanest and most
loathsome duties of the hospital nurse. He kept in good health to the
last, and then almost every disease seemed to come upon him at once. For
long he lay in the agonies of enteric fever, and almost lost his life.
But he counted that not too great a gift for his Master and his country.
We honour them both--the old veteran and the young missionary. In fact,
where all were brave and devoted, it is invidious to pick out one or
two of these devoted men for special mention. Each in his own special
sphere tried bravely to do his duty. Meanwhile the town was becoming
full of enteric cases, for Intombi camp had no further accommodation,
and only the most serious cases could be sent there. The churches were
then, as already intimated, utilised as hospitals, and it was in them
that the chaplains left in Ladysmith and with the soldiers performed
their ministry of love. Most of these buildings at some time or other
felt the force of the Boer shells, and the native minister's house by
the side of the Wesleyan church was shattered. He, poor fellow, lost
both wife and child during the siege, and himself was laid low by
enteric fever.

=Terrible Scenes at Intombi Hospital.=

But let us return to Intombi. Slowly the average number of cases was
increasing. Daily at 9.30 the mournful procession passed to the
cemetery. That cemetery contained at last about seven hundred bodies.
Every grave was marked and numbered. Mr. Hordern began this work, but
when his health failed, Mr. Murray continued and completed it. So that
there is a strict record left of every one lying there, and any one
wishing to erect a tombstone can do so. Such service as this was
thoughtful indeed, and friends at home will greatly appreciate it.

For three weeks at Intombi they were on quarter rations. Then, as
Buller's guns were heard in the distance, they were allowed half
rations; but on Ash Wednesday morning, the morning of relief, they were
reduced to quarter rations again. What this meant who can tell? How
could they resist disease? There are horrors over which we throw a veil.
Sufficient that they were necessary horrors--that they could not be
prevented. But only the doctors and the chaplains know what our men
passed through in Intombi camp. But no one complained--that was the
wonder of it. 'Oh! sir, when do you think Buller will get through?' was
the nearest to complaint ever heard. They suffered and they died, but
they murmured not.

='The Way He was Absent-minded was that He Forgot Himself!'=

Listen to what Mr. Hordern has to say about it:--

     'Every morning they had the awful procession of dead carried down
     to the cemetery, each man sewn up in his own blanket, and
     reverently buried, each man having done his duty and laid down his
     life for his Queen and country. And the brave old Tommy Atkins was
     called "an absent-minded beggar," a fine title itself, though it
     referred to him in the wrong way. He was not absent-minded, for he
     had a warm corner in his heart for those at home. The way he was
     absent-minded, was that _he forgot himself_. I knew one man who had
     two or three letters from home, which he carried about in his
     pocket, and although he longed to read them again, he dare not do
     so because, he said, he should break down if he did. The boys
     never forgot their homes. There was one dead soldier, a poor lad of
     the Irish Fusiliers, who was shot through the body, and afterwards
     in searching his clothes they found a letter ready written and
     addressed to his mother. He hadn't a chance of posting it. _He_ was
     not an absent-minded beggar. _He_ didn't forget to write to his
     mother. When they pulled his letter from his pocket, it was
     impossible to post it, as it was covered with his blood. I
     re-addressed it and sent it off to the dead soldier's mother.'

There was another story which showed the forgetfulness of the soldier
for himself. That happened in the relieving column. An officer was badly
wounded. It was dusk, and our troops had to retire down the kopje under
cover, though next day they took it. When they retired that night, the
wounded officer could not be moved, and so four men refused to leave
him. They remained with him all night without food or water, in order to
protect him from the bullets which were flying about--one lying at his
head, one at his feet, and one on either side. Those were absent-minded
beggars--_absent-minded for themselves_!

Mr. Hordern was talking to a starved wreck of a man one day, and he
asked him what was the first thing he wanted when the relief came
through. He expected to hear him say food of some sort. But no; this
absent-minded beggar said, 'The first thing, sir, medical comforts for
the sick.' He then asked him what was the next thing he should like. He
thought he would say food _this_ time; but no, his reply was, 'The
English mail.' He then asked what would he like after that, and the
soldier replied that he would then have his food.[17]

Of such stuff were British soldiers made in Ladysmith, and of such stuff
are they, with all their faults, the wide world over!

[Footnote 17: Burnley _Express_, May 5, 1900.]

=Lads, We are Going to be Relieved To-day.'=

But the time of deliverance was drawing near. Hope deferred had made the
heart sick. Time after time had Buller's guns seemed to be drawing
nearer, and time after time had the sound grown faint in the distance.
They were on quarter rations again, and that meant that Colonel Ward,
careful man as he was, had feared a longer delay. One of the
chaplains--he has told the writer the story himself, but prefers that
his name be not mentioned--was lying on his back in his tent at Intombi,
reading the morning service to those gathered round. He was weak from
disease and starvation, and it was no easy task to stand or walk. As he
read the Psalm for the day (Ash Wednesday, Psalm vi.), it seemed to him
a very message from God. His eye caught the tenth verse, 'All mine
enemies shall be confounded and sore vexed: they shall be turned back,
and put to shame suddenly.' He read it again and again. Surely God was
speaking to him through His Word. 'Turned back,' he said to himself;
'ashamed _suddenly_.' It seemed as though it was a personal
illumination from God. He rose to his feet, and going into the tent
which contained the worst cases, he said, 'Lads, I've come to tell you
we are going to be relieved to-day or if not to-day, at any rate very
soon--_suddenly_. Listen, lads; this is my message from God.' And he
read them the passage. Every face brightened as he read, and his own was
doubtless lit up with a light from another world.

That night, as he was lying down worn out with fatigue and excitement,
he heard a British cheer, and everybody rushed out to inquire what it
meant. There in the far distance a column of mounted troops, were slowly
marching along. Who were they--British? 'No,' said one of the soldiers;
'they are marching too regularly for that.' 'Boers?' 'No,' said another;
'they are marching too regularly for Boers.' 'Who can they be?' 'I
know,' said a third; they are Colonials.' He was right. 'But wait a
minute,' said another; 'let us see if Cæsar's Camp fires upon them.' But
no, Cæsar's Camp kept on pounding away at Mount Bulwane as it had done
for months, only with more energy than usual. And then cheer upon cheer
broke from these poor emaciated wrecks in Intombi. Hand clasped hand,
and tears rained down all faces.

Back into the marquee into which he had been the morning rushed the
chaplain. 'Lads, I told you this morning! "_Suddenly_," lads,
"_suddenly_," they were to be turned back "_suddenly_." It is true; my
message was from God. Buller is here!' And then the dying roused
themselves and lived, and voices were uplifted in loud thanksgiving.

And so Lord Dundonald's Colonial troops marched into the town, to be
greeted as surely men were never greeted before; to be hailed as
saviours, as life-givers, as heroes. Watch them. They have only
twenty-four hours' rations with them, and they have had a hard, rough
time themselves, but they give it all away. How can they deny anything
to these living skeletons standing around!

And what did it mean in Ladysmith? It meant this--at Intombi, at any
rate. When Buller's guns sounded nearer, the poor fever-stricken
patients brightened up, and roused themselves with a fresh effort for
life. When the sound of his firing receded into the distance, they just
lay back and died. His entry into Ladysmith was life from the dead.

'=It was Time He Came=.'

It was time that he came. Food was at famine prices. Eggs sold at 48s.
per dozen, and one egg for 5s.; a 1/4-lb. tin of tobacco sold for 65s.;
chicken went for 17s. 6d. each; dripping, 1/4-lb. at 9s. 6d., and so on.
Chevril soup (horseflesh) became the greatest luxury, and was not at all
bad; while trek-oxen steak might be looked at and smelled, but to eat it
was almost impossible. One of the most pathetic, and at the same time
most comical, sights to be witnessed during the siege, was surely that
of one enthusiastic lover of the weed, who, unable to procure any of the
genuine article for himself, followed closely in the wake of an officer
in more fortunate circumstances, in order that at any rate he might get
the smell and have the precious smoke circle round his head.

It was time, we say, for Buller to come. Relief came not a day too soon.
But a short time longer could the beleaguered men hold out. But he came
at last, and when next day he entered the town, bending low over his
saddle, worn out with his great exertions, the sight that met his gaze
was one never to be forgotten. These men whom he had known in the
greatness of their strength at Aldershot were little more than
skeletons, hardly able to show their appreciation of his splendid
efforts, so weak were they.

'You should have seen the general _cry_,' said a group of men from
Ladysmith at the Cambridge Hospital the other day. It was their way of
putting the case. The apparently stolid, dogged, undemonstrative
Englishman broke down completely, as he gazed upon the sights around
him. And no wonder! He had come not a moment too soon. But he had come
in time. 'Thank God,' said Sir George White, 'we have kept the flag

=A Story of Devotion.=

One story of devotion more, and our tale of Ladysmith is at an end.
There was a certain much-loved chaplain shut up in Ladysmith, who
greatly enjoyed a smoke. In Buller's relief column there were men who
loved him well, and who knew his love for a pipe. When they left
Colenso, eleven of them each carried under his khaki tunic a
quarter-pound tin of tobacco for the chaplain. And then came all the
horrors of that terrible struggle to reach the beleaguered town,
culminating in the awful fight at Pieter's Hill. One after another,
vainly trying to keep their cherished possession, parted with it bit by
bit during those dreadful weeks; but one of them carried it all the
time, and never so much as touched it. When at last he reached
Ladysmith, he had to march right through to encamp several miles beyond
the town. But next day he got a permit and tramped back to Ladysmith,
found out his friend the chaplain, and handed over his treasure to him.
All black and grimy was that sacred tin of tobacco, black with the smoke
of battle, and dented by many a hard fight; but it was there--intact--an
offering of devotion, a holy thing, a pledge of love. That chaplain has
it still; he could not smoke it, it was far too precious for that. It
has become one of his household gods, to be kept for ever as a token of
a soldier's love.

And now we say good-bye to our gallant Ladysmith garrison. We shall meet
many of them again on other fields. The siege proved that there was not
a man of them without a religious corner somewhere. Hundreds of them
turned to God with full purpose of heart; and to every one of them Old
England owes a debt of gratitude. As we say good-bye, we are reminded of
Tennyson's lines about the soldiers of Lucknow--lines just as true of
the men of Ladysmith as of them:--

    'Handful of men as we were, we were English in heart and in limb,
    Strong with the strength of the race, to command, to obey, to endure;
    Each of us fought as if hope for the garrison hung but on him;

           *       *       *       *       *

    And ever upon the topmost roof our banner of England blew.'

Chapter XVI


At the annual 'Roll Call Meeting,' held in Wesley Hall, Aldershot, in
January, 1900, we took as our 'Motto' for the next twelve months the
words of Bishop Bickersteth's beautiful hymn--

    'In Jesu's keeping we are safe, and they.'

All of us had friends in South Africa. Most of us had relatives there;
and as we bowed in prayer together we thought of the famous prayer of
long ago: 'The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one
from another.'

All the way through we have realized that there was a God of love
watching between us. All the way through we have been quite certain that
'in Jesu's keeping' they were safe.

Some of them we shall never see again on earth, but they are still 'in
Jesu's keeping.' Some of them are still far away from us fighting for
their country. But they, too, are 'in Jesu's keeping,' and for them we
are not afraid. We said 'Good-bye' many months ago, but it meant 'God be
with you,' and our farewell prayer has been answered. _Here_ or _there_
we expect to clasp hands with them again.

And the comfort that has been ours in Old England has been theirs in
South Africa. They, too, have thought of loved ones far away. They, too,
have realized--

    'In Jesu's keeping we are safe, and they.'

'The Soldier's Psalm' has been read and rejoiced in all through South

     'He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide
     under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my
     refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Thou shall not
     be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by
     day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the
     destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy
     side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come
     nigh thee.... He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him. I will
     be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With
     long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation.'

Chanted in many a service, repeated in the darkness on outpost duty,
remembered even amid the fury of the battle, this Soldiers' Psalm has
been to thousands a source of comfort and strength.

       *       *       *       *       *

With its blessed words ringing in our ears we close this book. The war
is not yet over. Disease has not yet claimed all its victims. The
fateful bullet has not delivered its final message of death. But our
loved ones are 'in Jesu's keeping,' and we are content to leave them
there. With them and with us it may be 'Peace, perfect peace.'

Butler & Tanner. The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.

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