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Title: South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. 3 (of 6) - From the Battle of Colenso, 15th Dec. 1899, to Lord - Roberts's Advance into the Free State, 12th Feb. 1900
Author: Creswicke, Louis
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. 3 (of 6) - From the Battle of Colenso, 15th Dec. 1899, to Lord - Roberts's Advance into the Free State, 12th Feb. 1900" ***

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[Illustration: Photo by Russell and Sons, London.]











  CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE                                      vii

  THE SITUATION                                              1
  DOINGS AT CHIEVELEY                                        8
  CHRISTMAS AT THE CAPE AND NATAL                           14

  MAFEKING                                                  19
  KURUMAN AND ELSEWHERE                                     25
  MAFEKING, NOVEMBER                                        31
  KIMBERLEY                                                 39

  LIFE WITH GENERAL GATACRE                                 47
  WITH GENERAL FRENCH                                       52

  THE COLONIALS AT BELMONT                                  60
  COLONEL PILCHER'S RAID                                    61
  ACTIVITIES AND SURPRISES                                  68
  AT MODDER RIVER                                           72

  CHRISTMAS AT LADYSMITH                                    79
  THE ATTACK ON WAGON HILL                                  81

  BULLER'S SECOND ADVANCE                                   92
  THE FLANK MOVEMENT                                        97
  THE BATTLE OF SPION KOP                                  104
  THE THIRD GREAT EFFORT--VAAL KRANTZ                      117
  DISAPPOINTMENT AT LADYSMITH                              125
  LORD ROBERTS AT THE CAPE                                 131

  THE WONDER OF THE WORLD                                  136
  FIRST CANADIAN CONTINGENT                                138
  THE SECOND CANADIAN CONTINGENT                           144
  STRATHCONA'S HORSE                                       146
  NEW SOUTH WALES                                          148
  VICTORIA                                                 150
  NEW ZEALAND                                              151
  QUEENSLAND                                               153
  SOUTH AUSTRALIA                                          154
  WEST AUSTRALIA                                           157
  TASMANIA                                                 157
  THE BUSHMEN'S CORPS                                      158
  INDIA'S CONTINGENTS                                      159
    CAPE COLONY                                            161
    NATAL                                                  166
  THE IMPERIAL YEOMANRY                                    167
  THE CITY IMPERIAL VOLUNTEERS                             171

  AT COLESBERG                                             174
  LORD ROBERTS'S ADVANCE                                   183
  "FIGHTING MAC" AT KOODOESBERG                            186

  APPENDIX                                                 190
  THE STORY OF SPION KOP                                   190
  LIST OF STAFF                                            199


    BULLER'S OPERATIONS                             _At Front_

    V.C. &c.                                    _Frontispiece_
  SERGEANT-MAJOR--IMPERIAL LIGHT HORSE                      24
  ARMY SERVICE CORPS                                        40
  ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY (ACTION FRONT)                     100
  CYCLISTS--LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS                           120

    CAVALRY NEAR COLESBERG                                  56
  H.M.S. "POWERFUL"                                         84
  THE GREAT ASSAULT ON LADYSMITH                            88
  PIETERMARITZBURG FROM THE EAST                            92
  GOING OUT TO THE ATTACK ON SPION KOP                     112
  THE SCENE ON SPION KOP                                   116
  FALLS ON THE TUGELA RIVER                                124
    REGIMENT NEAR SLINGERSFONTEIN                          184
    AT KOODOESBERG                                         188

  LIEUT.-GENERAL FORESTIER WALKER, K.C.B.                   16
  MAJOR-GENERAL SIR W. F. GATACRE, K.C.B.                   48
  MAJOR-GENERAL HECTOR A. MACDONALD, C.B.                   72
  COLONEL W. D. OTTER                                      136
  HON. W. P. SCHREINER, C.M.G.                             152
  GENERAL BRABANT, C.M.G.                                  160

  MAP--THE SEAT OF WAR                                       9
  SKETCH OF POSITIONS AT MAFEKING                           20
  PLAN OF KIMBERLEY                                         40
  SPLINTER PROOF SHELTER AT KIMBERLEY                       43
  MAP OF COLONEL PILCHER'S RAID                             62
  MAXIM AUTOMATIC GUN OR POM-POM                            75
  MAP OF LADYSMITH                                          87
  MOUNTAIN BATTERY                                          97
  SKETCH, &C., OF SPION KOP                                107
  PLAN OF ENGAGEMENT OF SPION KOP                          111
  PLAN OF ENGAGEMENT OF VAAL KRANTZ                        120
  BRITISH 7-POUNDER FIELD GUN                              126
  SIEGE OF LADYSMITH                                       128
  NAVAL 12-POUNDER FIELD GUN                               132
  MR. KRUGER'S AUTOGRAPH                                   134
  SOUTH AFRICAN SCOUT                                      163
  12½-POUNDER FIELD GUN (C.I.V.)                           172
  MAP OF POSITION AT COLESBERG                             179
  SKETCH OF POSITION AT COLESBERG                          181



17.--Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, K.P., G.C.B., V.C., &c., appointed
     Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, with Lord Kitchener of
     Khartoum as his Chief of the Staff.

     War Office issued orders under which the remaining portion of
     the Army A Reserve were called up; and large reinforcements
     were to proceed to South Africa without delay.

     General Gatacre advanced from Sterkstroom to Putters Kraal.

     General French established his headquarters at Arundel.

     Offers of Second Contingents by the Colonies accepted.

18.--Additional Battalions of Militia embodied. There were now
     fifty-four Battalions of Militia embodied.

     Sir Charles Warren and the Staff of the Fifth Division left
     Cape Town.

     Reconnaissance by General French. Sortie from Ladysmith.

19.--Important order issued from the War Office, announcing that
     the Government had decided to raise for service in South
     Africa a Mounted Infantry force, to be called "The Imperial
     Yeomanry." The force to be recruited from the Yeomanry.

21.--Mr. Winston Churchill arrived at Lourenço Marques after an
     adventurous journey.

23.--Departure of Lord Roberts from London and Southampton for the

24.--Dordrecht occupied by General Gatacre.

     Sortie from Mafeking.

     Two British officers captured by Boers near Chieveley.

25.--Bluejackets blew up Tugela Road bridge, and cut off Boers with
     their guns.

     Colonel Dalgety with Mounted Police and Colonial troops held
     Dordrecht. (Gatacre's Division.)

26.--Sir Charles Warren arrived at the Natal front.

     Boers appeared at Victoria West.

     Mafeking force attacked a Boer fort.

27.--Boers unsuccessfully bombarded Ladysmith.

28.--H.M.S. _Magicienne_ captured German liner _Bundesrath_, near
     Delagoa Bay, with contraband of war on board.

30.--Skirmish near Dordrecht. Boers defeated with loss. Two British
     officers captured through mistaking Boers for New Zealanders.


1.--Enrolment of the first draft of the City Imperial Volunteers.

     Surrender of Kuruman, after a stout resistance, to the Boers.
     Twelve officers and 120 police captured.

     General French occupied a kopje overlooking Colesberg. Flight
     of Boers, leaving their wrecked guns and quantities of stores.

     Brilliant manoeuvre by Lieutenant-Colonel Pilcher at
     Sunnyside. Captured the entire Boer camp, made forty prisoners,
     advanced and occupied Douglas on Vaal River.

     Colonel Plumer and Colonel Holdsworth from Rhodesia continued
     their march to the relief of Mafeking.

2.--Loyal inhabitants of Douglas escorted to Belmont.

     General French still engaged with enemy at Colesberg.

3.--General French reinforced from De Aar. Boers being surrounded;
     fighting in the hills.

     General Gatacre repulsed Boer attack on position commanding

     Colonel Pilcher, for "military reasons," evacuated Douglas.

4.--General Gatacre occupied Molteno; Boers retreated to Stormberg
     with loss.

     General French manoeuvring to enclose Colesberg; further

5.--General Gatacre hotly engaged at Molteno by Boers from
     Stormberg; drove them off, inflicting heavy losses.

6.--Great battle at Ladysmith. Boers repulsed on every side with
     heavy loss.

     General Buller made a demonstration in force to aid General

     General French inflicted severe defeat on Boers at Colesberg. A
     Company of the 1st Suffolk Regiment captured.

9.--British troops invaded Free State territory near Jacobsdal. The
     Queensland and Canadian Volunteers cleared a large belt across
     the Free State border.

10.--Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener arrived at Cape Town.

     Forward movement for the relief of Ladysmith from Chieveley
     and Frere.

11.--Sir Redvers Buller crossed the Little Tugela, and occupied the
     south bank of the Tugela at Potgieter's Drift.

     Lord Dundonald and Mounted Brigade crossed the Tugela at
     Potgieter's Drift.

     General Gatacre made a reconnaissance in force towards

13.--The City Imperial Volunteers left London for South Africa.

15.--Boers attacked General French and were repulsed at Colesberg.

16.--General Lyttleton and Mounted Brigade crossed the Tugela at
     Potgieter's Drift.

17.--Sir Charles Warren crossed, with his Division, at Trichardt's

     Lord Dundonald had an action with the Boers near Acton Homes.

18.--Tugela bridged and crossed by a Brigade and battery.

20.--Sir Charles Warren moved towards Spion Kop.

     Reconnaissance by Lord Dundonald.

21.--Heavy fighting by Clery's force; they attacked the Boers and
     captured ridge after ridge for three miles.

22--Sir Charles Warren's entire army engaged.

23.--Spion Kop captured by Sir Charles Warren; General Woodgate

25-27.--Abandonment of Spion Kop. Sir Charles Warren's force
     withdrew to south of Tugela.

27.--Brigadier-General Brabant, commanding a Brigade of Colonial
     forces, joined General Gatacre.

28.--General Kelly-Kenny occupied Thebus.

30.--British force reoccupied Prieska.


3.--Telegraphic communication restored between Mafeking and

4.--General Macdonald occupied Koodoe's Drift.

5.--General Buller crossed the Tugela at Manger's Drift.

6.--General Buller captured Vaal Krantz Hill.

7.--Vaal Krantz Hill abandoned, and British force withdrew south of
     the Tugela.

9.--General Macdonald retired to Modder River.

     Lord Roberts arrived at Modder River.

10.--Colonel Hannay's force moved to Ramdam.

12.--General French with Cavalry Division, proceeding to the Relief
     of Kimberley, seized Dekiel's Drift.







    "The wave that breaks against a forward stroke
      Beats not the swimmer back, but thrills him through
      With joyous trust to win his way anew
    Through stronger seas than first upon him broke
    And triumphed. England's iron-tempered oak
      Shrank not when Europe's might against her grew
      Full, and her sun drunk up her foes like dew,
    And lion-like from sleep her strength awoke.
    As bold in fight as bold in breach of trust
      We find our foes and wonder not to find,
      Nor grudge them praise whom honour may not bind:
    But loathing more intense than speaks disgust
      Heaves England's heart, when scorn is bound to greet
    Hunters and hounds whose tongues would lick their feet."

                               --ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE.

A week of disaster had terminated woefully. Three British Generals in
succession--Sir William Gatacre, Lord Methuen, and Sir Redvers
Buller--had advanced against strongly fortified Boer positions and
suffered repulse. The hearts of the miserable loyalists, who hung in
dire suspense on the result of British action, sank in despair--their
dismay and their grief were pitiful. Great Britain echoed their
sentiment. Disappointment was universal. General Gatacre had failed
through lack of caution and mischance; the other Generals had come to
grief owing to the circumstances which forced them willy nilly to hurry
to the assistance of beleaguered towns in the face of overwhelming
disadvantages, notably the lack of cavalry and the inefficiency of the
guns. Lord Methuen had been unable to bring home his early victories
owing to the absence of mounted men. Sir Redvers Buller had failed to
dislodge the enemy from his strong, naturally fortified positions owing
to the weakness of his artillery in comparison to that of the enemy, who
had Nordenfeldt and Hotchkiss quick-firing guns in every available
position. He had made a glorious attempt--owned to be magnificent; but
it was not war, and in his failure he recognised that it was not the
game of derring-do, but the game of "slim" warfare as played by his
brother Boer which must claim his attention. Now was verified the
prophecy of the Polish apocalypse: "The war of the future will be a war
of sieges and entrenched positions. In the war of the future the
advantage will always rest with the defensive. In the war of the future,
frontal attacks, without immense superiority in numbers, will be

Every campaign, they say, has its lessons. This one we now find to be
full of them, so full indeed that it has necessarily taken our Generals
some time to become acquainted even with their grammar. When the war was
forced upon us by the Pretoria oligarchy for the long-cherished purpose
of ousting Great Britain from South Africa, many of the authorities were
of opinion that a rabble of undisciplined farmers would be incapable of
offering any formidable resistance to the superior military system of
Great Britain. Not a hint of doubt as to the success of our arms and the
effectiveness of our war apparatus was entertained. When Colonials in
the summer of '99 volunteered their services, the Government received
the offers with a sniff. Later they accepted them with grateful thanks.
It was never imagined that colonists could know anything of the art of
war, or that they might teach a lesson or two even to that august
institution the Staff College. Those who knew ventured to suggest that
in South Africa the same cast-iron principles that existed in European
warfare would be valueless, and that the lessons of Ingogo and Majuba in
'81 might be repeated in '99 in all their dire and dismal reality. But
these pessimists were scoffed at. They therefore waited, and hoped
against hope. Now and then they feebly wondered by what process
infantry, arriving two months late, when the enemy had had time to
entrench the whole country at various naturally strong strategic points,
would be able to overcome the disadvantages attendant on immobility. But
they were silenced by a look. British pluck and endurance might be
calculated upon to surmount everything and anything--some said! No one
seemed to care to tackle the problem of how men on foot would be enabled
to compete creditably, in anything like equal numbers, with a mounted
enemy possessing more than ordinary mobility.

A mounted enemy has many advantages in his favour. He can select his own
position, he can place all his force _en masse_ into the fighting line,
he can so pick his positions that one man on the defensive can make
himself the equal of three men of the attacking force; and, besides, he
can occupy a length of position which must extend his flanks far beyond
those of the attackers on foot. These in consequence are either forced
to extend to equal length, at almost certain risk of being unable to
reinforce any weak point developed during the attack, and thereby cause
the attack to be broken at points; or they have to "contain" only a
portion of the enemy in position, and perhaps leave his wings--or one
wing--free to execute an outflanking movement. It is impossible when a
line extends for miles, and the enemy's strength is not discoverable
before the heat of the engagement, for infantry to come from a great
distance to the assistance of weak points; and by reason of this
immobility it is equally impossible for infantry in the heat of action,
and when the front is extended for miles, to suddenly change a plan of
attack in time to save a situation.

The task set before our Generals was, therefore, almost superhuman: they
were expected to make up for want of mobility with superior strategical
qualifications; but, as has been said, no committee of Generals could at
this juncture have decided on a strategy applicable to the complicated
situation. That the Boer was a born strategist, and had able advisers,
was amply proved. The amalgam of Boer methods, with Zulu theories and
modern German tactics, was sufficient to try the most ingenious
intelligence. For instance, the Boers in early days selected positions
on the sides and tops of kopjes, and at the commencement of the
campaign, at Talana Hill and at Elandslaagte, they were so perched, in
accordance with the primitive principles of their race. They ignored the
fact that such positions were the worst they could select against
artillery fire with percussion fuses. Even for their own rifle practice
such positions were also the worst, as, firing down at an angle, their
bullets as a rule ran the chance of ploughing the earth without
ricocheting, and served only to hit the one man aimed at. They worked,
and still work, on the old Zulu principle of putting their whole
strength into the fighting line, acting on the Zulu axiom, "Let it
thunder--and pass." A sound principle this, no doubt, but one which our
ponderous military machinery would not allow us to adopt. To these early
methods, and to his native "slimness" and cunning, the Boer now added
some German erudition. The influence of German officers and German
tactics began to work changes curious and inexplicable. The Boers built
scientific entrenchments, no longer on the kopjes alone but also below
them, thus reducing the effect of hostile artillery, save that of
howitzers, and permitting their sharpshooters to sweep the plain with a
hurricane from their Mausers. In addition to this they built long
castellated trenches, perfect underground avenues, to allow of the
invisible massing of troops at any given point. They were also provided
with ingenious gun-trenches, quite hidden, along which their Nordenfeldt
gun, that pumped five shells in rapid succession, could be removed
swiftly from one spot to another, and thereby defeat the efforts of the
British gunners to locate it.

Thus it will be seen a new complexion was put upon Boer affairs. Novel
and trying conditions were imposed on those who already had to cope
with the problem of how to match in mobility a rival who brought to his
support six legs, while the British only brought two. Whole armies
consisting merely of mounted infantry and artillery had never before
come into action, and it began to be understood that a war against
bushwhackers, guerillas, and sharpshooters, plus the most expensive guns
modernity could provide, was a matter more serious than any with which
the nineteenth century had hitherto had to deal. We had to learn that
sheer pluck, endurance, and brute force were unavailing, and that
strategy of the hard and fast kind--the red-tape strategy of the Staff
College--was about as unpractical as a knowledge of the classics to one
who goes a-marketing. There is no finality in the art of war, and
nations, be they ever so old and wise and important, must go on

One of the newer questions was, how far personal intelligence might be
distributed among a body of men? The General as a head, the Staff
Officers as nerves that convey volition to the different members, we had
accepted, but how far individual acumen was needed to insure success now
began to be argued. Certain it was that in this campaign we had
opportunities for studying the comparative value of individual
discretion _versus_ "fighting to order." The Boers, every one of them,
were working for themselves, absolutely for hearth and home, though
perhaps under a general plan which certainly served to harass and annoy
and keep the British army in a dilemma; while we laboured on a
consolidated system which, if not obsolete, was certainly inappropriate.
However, as there was no use in bemoaning our reverses, we began to
congratulate ourselves on having discovered the cause of them. It was
decided that first there must be more troops sent out to meet the
extended nature of our operations, and that these troops must be
accompanied by a sufficient number of horses to insure the necessary
mobility, without which even the brute force of our numbers would be

Of the successful issue of future proceedings none had a doubt. All knew
that the finest strategy in the world must be useless when tools were
wanting, and all felt certain that the admirable abilities of our
Generals, when once the means of playing their war game came to hand,
were bound to rise to the prodigious task still in store.

But for the dire necessity of the three gallant towns--Mafeking,
Kimberley, and Ladysmith--a waiting game would have been possible and
wise. The Boer stores of food and ammunition would eventually have run
out, and the guns gone the way of much-used guns. Trek-oxen, instead of
dragging the waggons of their masters, would have had to go to feed the
hungry commandoes, and the history of slow exhaustion would have had to
be told. But--again there was the great But!--those three valiant towns
were holding out their hands, they were crying for help, they were
standing in their hourly peril hopeful and brave because they
believed--they were certain--that we should never desert them!

At home the grievous news of the reverse was digested by the public with
dumb, almost paralysed resignation. At first it was scarcely possible to
believe that the great, the long-anticipated move for the relief of
Ladysmith had proved a failure, and that the Boers were still masters of
the situation, and moreover the richer by eleven of our much-needed
guns. By degrees the terrible truth began to be accepted by us. By
degrees the Government awakened to the fact that the fighting of the
Dutchmen within the region of Natal meant more than the pitting of one
Briton against two Boers, that it meant the dashing of a whole Army
Corps against Nature's strongholds, our own by right of purchase and
blood, and captured from us merely by reason of neglect and delay!

To awake, however, was to act. In our misfortune it was pleasant to
recall the words of Jomini, when speaking of Frederick the Great and his
defeats in Silesia. "A series of fortunate events," he said, "may dull
the greatest minds, deprive them of their natural vigour, and level them
with common beings. But adversity is a tonic capable of bringing back
energy and elasticity to those who have lost it." The tonic was sipped.
Jomini's theories were proved! Though Great Britain through a series of
fortunate events--a long reign of comparative peace--had become
lethargic and money-grubbing, she, at the first shock of adversity,
regained all her elasticity, vigour, and natural spirit of chivalry.
Promptly the entire nation nerved itself to prove that, as of old, it
was equal to any struggle, any sacrifice. The whole country seemed with
one consent to leap to arms.

The Militia, nine battalions of Infantry, was now permitted to volunteer
for service in any part of the Queen's dominions where such services
might be wanted, while it was arranged that specially selected
contingents of Yeomanry and Volunteers would start for the Front as soon
as there were found ships sufficient to carry them.

Noble as amazing was the hurried response of the Volunteers to the
intimation that their services would be accepted for the war. Hastily
they pressed forward in crowds to enrol themselves. Their promptitude
was goodly to look upon and to read of, for it showed that, in spite of
the theories of Tolstoi and the influence of the spirit of modernity,
patriotism is inherent and not a mere exotic or cultivated sentiment in
the British race. We now found that though many traditions may be worn
to rags, those of the British army had grown, like old tapestry, the
more precious for the passage of time.

Still the military position was pregnant with anxieties. A horse that is
left at the post may perhaps win in the end, but his chances of success
are remote. An army that lands in driblets three months after time is
scarcely calculated to succeed against a rival army which has spent that
interval in equipping itself for the fray. We were forced to remember
that at the onset our officers were placed in the most dangerous
positions, with inadequate support and no prospect of reinforcement,
until their energies, mental and physical, had been sapped by undue and
prolonged strain. On the north Tuli had but a handful of troops to
resist an enormous and powerful enemy; Mafeking was surrounded,
isolated, and able only to resist to the death the persistent attacks of
shot and shell; Vryburg was allowed to be treacherously given away to
the enemy; and Kimberley was left in the lurch as it were, to fight or
fall according to the pluck of those who were ready to exhaust their
vitality in loyalty to the Queen. On the Natal side things were still
worse. The country, every inch of which is familiar to the Boer, had
almost invited invasion. The whole strength of Boers and Free Staters
was permitted to launch itself against an army which was entirely
without reserves, and which could not be reinforced under a month. That
brave and unfortunate soldier, Sir George Colley, had a theory that
small, well-organised troops were worth as much again as large and
desultory ones; but he took no account of peculiar facilities which are
almost inherent to armies fighting on their own soil, as it were, and
habits of warfare which have, so to speak, become ancestral with the
Boer. From old time the Dutchman has employed his mountain fastnesses,
his boulders, and his tambookie grass as screens and shelters, till in
war the "tricks of the trade" have become a second nature to him, and
serve in place of more complicated European methods. The small Natal
army was, on Sir George Colley's principle, allowed to pit itself
against a fighting mass, dense and desultory it may be, but a fighting
mass of enormous dimensions, which, whatever their failings, had weight,
equipment, courage, obstinacy, and intimacy with their surroundings
entirely in their favour. That the enemy was first in the field they had
to thank the original promoters of war, the Peace party--the
humanitarian persons who so long hampered reason by loud outcries
against the shedding of blood that their own countrymen in the Transvaal
were condemned to all the tortures of suspense, to be aggravated later
by all the agonies of famine and disease. Their own countrywomen and
their babes were saved from shot and shell to be sent defenceless and
homeless to wander the world till the charity of strangers or the relief
of death should overtake them, while the loyal natives were left in a
state of trepidation and suspense, without protection, yet forbidden to
raise a hand in their own defence.

Reason now had its way. But remedies cannot be applied in a moment, and
the public, which is always wise after the event, vented its anguish and
its feelings of suspense by indulging in criticism, or in asking
questions which, of course, could not be answered till the principal
persons concerned were able to take part in the catechism. For instance,
some of the riddles buzzed about in club and railway carriage were: Why
did Sir Redvers Buller make a frontal attack across an open plain
against an enemy admirably entrenched, and posted in a position not only
made strong by art but by nature? Why was it that the Government, in
spite of the warnings given by Sir Alfred Milner while he was in England
in May '99, neglected to take such precautions as would have prevented
the enemy from being entirely in advance of us in the matter of time?
Why, also, were the Boers permitted to arm themselves with the most
expensive modern weapons, to be used against us, under the very eye of
our representative in Pretoria, without our being warned of the inferior
quality of our own guns, and of the impossibility of making ourselves a
match for the enemy so long as the cheese-paring policy of the
authorities at home was countenanced? Why, with an Intelligence
Department in working order, was it never discovered that united Free
State and Transvaal Dutchmen would vastly outnumber all the troops we
were prepared--or, rather, unprepared--to put in the field, the troops
we strove to make sufficient till the strain of reverse forced from us
the acceptance of help from the Colonies, the Militia, and the

The great question of reinforcements filled all minds. Nothing indeed
could be looked for till they should reach the Cape. Fifteen huge
transports were due to arrive between the end of December and the
beginning of January, bringing on the scene some 15,000 troops of all
arms. The Fifth Division, under Sir Charles Warren, consisting of eight
battalions of Infantry and its complement of Artillery and Engineers was
expected, also the Household Cavalry Composite Regiment, the 14th
Hussars, a siege train, a draft of Marines, and various odd branches of
the service. Later on more troops would follow, but pending the arrival
of the warrior cargoes it was impossible for our Generals to do more
than act on the defensive, and consider themselves fortunate if they
could prevent the further advance of the enemy to the south.

But the most momentous move of the closing year was the departure of
Lord Roberts for the seat of war. Here was this gallant officer, whose
life had been devoted to the service of his country, and who was at an
age when many other men would have elected to stay by hearth and home,
suddenly called on to act in the most difficult and trying crisis. And,
in the very hour that he was asked to rouse himself to meet the call of
Queen and country, he was dealt a crushing blow. His gallant son, the
only one, and one well worthy to have worn the laurels of his noble
father, besides adding to them by his own splendid acts, was carried
off, a victim to the severe wound he received at Colenso. Here was a
supreme trial, so supreme indeed that none dared touch it. All, even
Lord Roberts's sincerest friends, shrunk from dwelling on the agony of
mind that must have been endured by this great hero when at the same
moment the voice of duty and the cry of domestic love jarred in
conflict. On the one side he was called upon to brace himself to meet a
political situation fraught with all manner of indescribable
complications, while on the other, human nature with a thousand clinging
tendrils drew him towards the numbness of mute woe or the consolation of
private tears. But, like the great warrior he is, he got into harness
and started off, leaving his misery in the hands of the great British
people, who held it as their own. The "send off" they gave him at
Waterloo Station was one of the most remarkable outbursts of public
feeling on record, and this was not only due to admiration for the
conqueror of Kandahar, but to profound sympathy for the man and the
father who was thus laying aside his private self and placing all his
magnificent ability at the service of the Empire.


It was now found desirable to remove part of the camp about ten and a
half miles to the south, to get out of range of the Boer big guns which
commanded the position. The wounded were daily being sent off in
train-loads to Maritzburg, many of them, in spite of being shot in two
or three places, cheerful and anxious to return quickly "to be in at the
death," as they sportingly described it. The funeral of Lord Roberts's
gallant son caused a sense of deep depression to prevail in all ranks,
for he was not only regretted by those who held his brilliant qualities
in esteem, but in sympathy with the sore affliction which had befallen
the veteran "Bobs," whose name, wherever Tommy goes, is one to conjure
with. The ceremony was a most impressive one, and the pall-bearers were
all men of young Roberts's corps. These were Major Prince Christian
Victor, Colonels Buchanan-Riddell and Bewicke-Copley, and Major

The graves of all the unfortunate slain were marked round, covered with
flowers, and temporary tablets arranged till suitable memorials should
be prepared.


Drawing by John Charlton.]

Meanwhile the Naval guns were unceasing in their activity, and made an
appalling accompaniment to the afternoon siestas in which many,
owing to the excessive heat, were inclined to indulge. For strategical
reasons it was now found necessary to blow up the road-bridge over the
Tugela, and thus prevent the Boers from advancing further to the south
or spying upon our positions.

[Illustration: MAP OF THE SEAT OF WAR. Scale 1 inch=86 miles.]

Extra precautions were taken in regard to the white flag. It began to be
believed at last that the Boer would take an unfair advantage of the
Briton whenever he should get a chance. Strangely enough, our officers
seemed to have forgotten or disregarded the object-lesson of the tragic
affair of Bronker's Spruit. Yet Boer "slimness" was then well enough
established. The unfortunate Colonel Anstruther caused to be printed in
the Transvaal Government _Gazette_ a bi-lingual proclamation, informing
the Boers that, in consequence of the many treacherous uses to which the
white flag had been put, he would in future recognise the emblem only
under the following conditions: two Boers accompanied by an officer, and
all unarmed, must approach the lines bearing the white flag aloft. The
British soldiers were also advised to keep well under cover whenever the
flag was displayed. This showed that reliance on Boer honour would in no
case be attempted. At the present date Boer morality had not improved,
and it was even declared that the Free Staters had made their women boil
down their national flag, so that in its pallid state it might at a
little distance be mistaken for the white flag, and come in handy in
case of need.

On the 20th of December a picket, consisting of seven men belonging to
the 13th Hussars, was surprised some five miles from camp, in the
direction of Weenen, by a party of sixty Boers. These cautiously crept
round some kopjes to where the outpost was stationed. A smart tussle
ensued. Two men were killed and seven horses were lost. No sooner had
information of the fight reached camp than some of Bethune's and
Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry were despatched to the rescue, but the
Boers, on perceiving these reinforcements, quickly fled and thus escaped

At this time the second advance for the relief of Ladysmith was very
secretly being organised, but no one knew exactly when Sir Redvers
Buller meant to move, or whether he intended to give up the idea of a
frontal attack altogether. Our Generals were criticised for making
frontal attacks, but Clausewitz declares that the attempt to turn the
flank of the enemy can only be justified by a great superiority; this
superiority may be either actual superiority of numbers, or it may
follow from the way in which the lines of communication are placed.
Unfortunately we had no favouring strength; the Boers outnumbered us
everywhere, and not only did they exceed us numerically, but their
mobility enabled them so quickly to move from front to flank positions
that they were, on desire, facing us at any moment. In fact the Boer
army had no flank, and therefore the vast amount of after-the-event
wisdom which was gratuitously handed about by "the man in the street"
was absolutely wasted.

An unfortunate incident now occurred. Capt. James Rutherford and Mr.
Grenfell, S.A.L.H., while visiting the pickets, disappeared. They
apparently rode into the midst of the enemy's scouts, who were
everywhere prowling about, and were forced to surrender. The report of
the capture was brought to the camp by native runners, who stated that
the officers had been removed to Pretoria. However, for two gallant
Britons lost there was one gained, for at the very time Mr. Winston
Churchill had almost miraculously made himself free of his captors.

The story of his escape reads like a novel; but truth is stranger than
fiction. When removed to Pretoria after the disaster to the armoured
train at Chieveley, he almost gave up hope of escape; indeed he had every
reason so to do, for on the 12th of December he was informed by the
Transvaal Government's Secretary for War that there was little chance of
his release. Whereupon, with many doubts and misgivings, he discussed
with himself the best means of struggling for freedom. The State Schools
Prison was well guarded; it was surrounded by a high wall, and the
sentries were vigilant in the extreme. He formed for himself a plan,
however, and once when the back of the sentry was momentarily turned he
took his courage in both hands as the French say, rushed at the six-foot
wall, scaled it, and let himself down into a neighbouring garden before
his movement could be detected. The garden was the garden of an inhabited
house. There were lights in the windows; more, there were visitors on the
verandah, and presently, ramblers among the paths! Moments of horror as
the escaped hid in the trees seemed to become years, discovery appeared
to be merely a matter of moments. But evidently the Fates decided that so
useful a member of creation--warrior, writer, and politician--could not
be spared by society or his country, and in a little while Mr. Churchill
found himself wandering, undisguised and unrecognised, through the
streets of the town. Burghers passed him, passengers brushed his
shoulders. Nobody asked his business. It was evident that Fate wanted
him. The stars said so, and following their direction he struck out
towards the Delagoa Railroad. He knew that he dared ask his way of none;
he was aware that he must make the most of the cloak of night; he was
intimate enough with Boer customs to be certain that in a few hours his
description would be posted throughout the two Republics. The present,
and only the present, was his. He walked along the line, evading the
watchers on bridges and culverts, and determining to stick to the rails,
without which he might find himself lost or wandering back in the teeth
of the enemy. Once free of the town, he bided his time cautiously in the
neighbourhood of an adjacent station. There he watched the coming of a
train, and just as it steamed past him, with an alacrity and agility born
of sheer despair, he made a leap towards a truck, grabbed at a hook on
the edge, boarded it, and was soon burrowing deep in a cargo of
coal-sacks. There he lay, grimy, exhausted, and almost distraught, but
happy. He was free. Every minute the anxiety for freedom had grown within
him, till now, fighting his way towards it, it had become an almost
savage passion. He had decided he would never go back. No one should
capture him. But this was easier to swear than to accomplish. To escape
detection it was necessary again to risk his life--to leap off the train
as he had leapt on it, while the machinery was in full swing and the
driver ignorant of the existence of his distinguished passenger. Before
dawn, therefore, he emerged from the coal-heap, and with a flying leap
landed flat on the railroad. He gathered himself together, and by sunrise
was concealed in a wood, his only companion for some time being a
vulture. The sojourn in the cool boskage of the Transvaal was fraught
with good luck, and at dusk when the fugitive emerged he was another man.
At last he was able to gather his forces together for another trip on a
passing train. There was always danger though--danger because it was
necessary to hug the line, and where the line was, there also were
railway guards, or at least humanity--inimical humanity, who most
probably were plotting his ruin. Plod, plod, plod; so passed the hours,
scrambling along in the dead of night through sluits and dongas in the
effort to avoid the direct neighbourhood of huts, bridges, stations, and
yet keep in touch with the winding iron track that led to the longed-for
sea. For five days and nights he persevered, tramping after dark and
sneaking under cover all day, and dimly conscious that the hue and cry
had gone forth, and that every man's hand in the enemy's country was now
turned against him. On the sixth day he managed again with amazing good
fortune to safely board a train, and this time it was one going from
Middleburg to Delagoa Bay. Again he burrowed among sacks and carefully
hid himself, so carefully, indeed, that owing to his extreme precaution
discovery was evaded. The train was searched, the sacks were prodded.
Deep down, scarcely daring to breathe, lay the man they were seeking--an
inch or two off--just an inch or two off. He drew a long breath and
praised God for his escape. After that he passed some sixty hours in all
the agonies of suspense. Famine and thirst preyed on him, and active
horror lest all his exertions should be in vain, lest, at the very last
moment, the whole struggle of hope and wretchedness would end in dire and
fatal disaster. But he was preserved. He arrived at Lourenço Marques on
the 21st of December, and from there proceeded to Natal. "I am very
weak, but I am free." Such were the words of his telegram; no wired
words ever meant more. "I have lost many pounds in weight, but I am
lighter in heart; and I avail myself of this moment, which is a witness
to my earnestness, to urge an unflinching and uncompromising prosecution
of the war." In regard to Mr. Winston Churchill's arrival among his
friends in Natal, an eye-witness wrote:--

     "The 23rd of December last was a memorable day at Durban,
     perhaps the most memorable since that on which the Boers'
     ultimatum was published. From Lourenço Marques had come the
     exciting intelligence that young Winston Churchill, a
     distinguished member of a world-renowned race, had succeeded in
     evading his jailers at Pretoria, and, after a series of
     thrilling adventures, had arrived safely at Delagoa Bay. The
     telegrams had further announced that the hero had immediately
     shipped on board the Rennie liner _Induna_ and would land at
     Durban that very afternoon. The fame of Mr. Churchill as a
     soldier and an author was already established. The history of
     his gallantry both in India and at Omdurman was already well
     known to every good Natalian before he first stepped ashore
     there as one of the war correspondents of the _Morning Post_.
     His subsequent courageous conduct at Chieveley at the
     unfortunate incident of the armoured train and his capture by
     the Boers, now capped by his marvellous escape from Pretoria,
     had set Durban agog with excitement, and filled all and sundry
     with hearty desires to afford him a right royal welcome on his
     landing again on British soil.

     "The brilliant summer sunshine, tempered by a fresh sea-breeze
     which sent a soft ripple across the deep blue surface of the
     magnificent harbour; the bold headland of the bluff contrasting
     vividly against the streets of iron-roofed dwellings in the
     township; the large numbers of ocean-going steamers and sailing
     craft, gay with bunting; the eager, expectant crowd of every
     class of society, from gaily-dressed ladies to wharf labourers,
     refugees, and Kaffirs in but shirts and trousers, all
     contributed to the completion of a picturesque panorama never
     to be forgotten. Long before midday did we assemble in our
     thousands. When it was whispered about that the _Induna_ would
     berth alongside the steamer _Inchanga_, and that Mr. Churchill
     must cross the decks of the _Inchanga_ before stepping ashore,
     a rush was made for her, and, in spite of all the efforts of
     the officers and crew, the crowd swarmed like bees on her. They
     took possession of every available point of vantage; they
     invaded the sacred precincts of the captain's bridge; they
     braved the perils of the rigging; they huddled together on the
     'fo'cas'le'; they filled every boat; and, heedless of fresh
     paint, they clung affectionately to the ventilators and the

     "After having been several times reported the _Induna_ rounded
     the point at half-past two. Amid breathless expectation she
     steamed slowly across the harbour. Standing beside the captain
     on the bridge a smallish, clean-shaven man was descried, and
     the crowd at once recognised him as the hero whom they had
     assembled to honour. A thousand good British cheers broke the
     silence, a thousand lusty throats shouted a heartfelt welcome.
     But this was not all. The sturdy Natalians did not stop at
     shouting. The moment the _Induna_ was moored Mr. Churchill,
     smiling, was seized bodily by twenty pairs of brawny arms, was
     patted and thumped on the back by hundreds of applauding hands,
     and finally, after being nearly strangled by over-zealous
     admirers who were waving hats and handkerchiefs and crying
     'Bravo!' and 'Well done!' he was carried shoulder-high across
     the decks of the _Inchanga_ and deposited in a ricksha, whence
     a speech was demanded. In a few modest sentences Mr. Churchill
     good-humouredly narrated some of the more prominent episodes of
     his exploit, and a start was made for his hotel, the
     ricksha-boy being assisted more or less by some fifty amateur
     ricksha-men and escorted by a majority of the crowd. After
     picking up the editor of the _Natal Mercury_ on the way, and
     installing him in state by the side of Mr. Churchill, the hotel
     was at last reached, and the demand for another speech having
     been acceded to, Mr. Churchill was permitted at four o'clock to
     retire from the public gaze. The same night he left Durban for
     the front."

The following is a copy of the letter written by Mr. Winston Churchill
to Mr. de Souza prior to escaping from prison:--


     "DEAR MR. DE SOUZA,--I do not consider that your Government was
     justified in holding me, a press correspondent and a
     non-combatant, as a prisoner, and I have consequently resolved
     to escape. The arrangements I have succeeded in making with my
     friends outside are such as to give me every confidence. But I
     wish, in leaving you thus hastily and unceremoniously, to once
     more place on record my appreciation of the kindness which has
     been shown me and the other prisoners by you, by the
     commandant, and by Dr. Gunning, and my admiration of the
     chivalrous and humane character of the Republican forces. My
     views on the general question of the war remain unchanged, but
     I shall always retain a feeling of high respect for the several
     classes of the Burghers I have met, and on reaching the British
     lines I will set forth a truthful and impartial account of my
     experiences in Pretoria. In conclusion, I desire to express my
     obligations to you, and to hope that when this most grievous
     and unhappy war shall have come to an end, a state of affairs
     may be created which shall preserve the national pride of the
     Boers and the security of the British, and put a final stop to
     the rivalry and enmity of both races. Regretting that
     circumstances have not permitted me to bid you a personal
     farewell, believe me, yours very sincerely,


     "_December 11, 1899._"


We had arrived at what might be termed a breathing spell. There was no
serious movement in the direction of the Modder River, and Lord Methuen
was evidently biding his time. General Gatacre felt himself too weak to
take up any very active or offensive step, while General French
contented himself with such harassing and cleverly annoying operations
as kept the enemy, like a man with a mosquito round his nose, from
napping. There was great hope of better things, however, for it was
known that the _Dunottar Castle_ had left England and was conveying to
the Cape--in addition to Lord Roberts--Lord Kitchener and Major-General
T. Kelly-Kenny, the Commander of the Sixth Division. Besides these were
the following officers of Lord Roberts's Staff:--Major-General G. T.
Pretyman; Colonel Viscount Downe, C.I.E.; Major H. V. Cowan; Captain A.
C. M. Waterfield; Major J. F. R. Henderson; Major C. V. Hume;
Brevet-Major G. F. Gorringe, D.S.O.; Colonel Lord Erroll; Commander the
Hon. S. J. Fortescue (Naval Adviser to Lord Roberts); Captain Lord
Herbert Scott; Captain Lord Settrington.

This showed that when at last we set to work we did so with a will. The
forces in South Africa before the war had amounted to 25,000, which
number was augmented by 55,000 on the arrival of the First Army Corps.
Late in December came the Fifth Division of about 11,000, under Sir
Charles Warren, followed by the Sixth Division of 10,000 men. The
Seventh and Eighth Divisions of 10,000 men respectively were shortly to
increase the forces at the disposal of Lord Roberts, together with some
2000 additional Cavalry, 10,000 Yeomanry, 9000 Volunteers, seven
battalions of Militia, drafts for regiments at the front amounting to
10,000, and about 20,000 local forces. The first Colonial contingents
consisted of about 2500 men, and these were to be followed by second
contingents of like strength. The Naval Brigade was composed of about
1000; so that in all, roughly estimated, we were on the eve of putting
184,000 men into the field.

Christmas day at the Cape was solemnised with much speechifying, both
from Dutch pulpits and Dutch partisans, and not a few peacefully
disposed persons in this time of general goodwill lugged in Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman by the ears and quoted him to suit their purpose.
That amiable worthy had said the war could have been avoided, and that
cheap and incontrovertible statement the Bond got hold of and chewed and
rolled on the tongue as an accompaniment to its plum-pudding and
mince-pies. Of course, the war could have been avoided. Of course, it
would have been quite possible to voluntarily retire from the Cape and
allow South Africa to become entirely Dutch. In the same way we could
give up governing India and hand it over to Russia and confine our
expenses and our energies to Great Britain, the water supply, the
development of national cookery, and the propagation of cabbages. But
peace with dishonour was fortunately not to the taste of the British
public, and those who spent their Yuletide in active service were far
too devoted to the sacred duty of maintaining the prestige of the Empire
to sigh for the domestic hearth and regal sirloin that might have been
theirs had the Government extended its accommodating apathy a few months

There were no holly decorations and displays of bunting, no rubbings of
hands and vigorous snow-balling, because the South African sun blazed
with the glare of beaten brass, and the thermometer stood to the height
of some 100 degrees at midday. But there was a vast amount of
joke-making and hearty goodwill nevertheless, and many prayers for
friends and family and Queen.

In Natal there were lively doings in honour of the festal season. At a
time when even cracker manufacturers wax poetic, the journalistic poets
thought it their duty to burst into rhyme. The Natal papers indulged in
some jocose doggerel, which would have been comic had it not been deeply
tragic. The lines ran thus: "To Ladysmith"--the only lines, by-the-bye,
that did run there--

    "'Hold the Fort, for I am coming,'
      Says the helio--
    Quick as light the answer flashes,
      'Ain't you coming slow?'"

But Tommy was pleased and thought the stanza a capital joke. He meant to
get there directly, and merely quoted the proverb about "slow and
shure"--there were so many Irishmen about, fine fellows, who believed in
themselves and they were shure about everything. They had nothing to do
with doubt, for doubt, after all, is the mother of diffidence!

And some of these rollicking youngsters managed to retain their native
good-humour in most distressing circumstances. A good story was told of
one gallant private in hospital who had lost his leg but persisted in
apostrophising the missing limb whenever it ached. "Be aisy wid ye.
Can't ye be quiet? Ye'll niver take me into the foight again. Ohovo!"

Other examples of amazing good-temper and pluck on the part of the
wounded filled all eye-witnesses with pathetic admiration. One man, a
quondam music-hall singer, carried his jocose art into his sick-bed. A
Boer prisoner had lost his arms, and the poor fellow helplessly shook
his head when offered tobacco. But the music-hall singer saw the shake
of the head and tearful eye that accompanied it. In a moment, with
gymnastic dexterity, he had placed his arms round the Boer and performed
the office of the missing ones, giving the fellow the advantage of a
good smoke. Another of our men who had lost his right arm co-operated
with a Boer who had lost his left, and between them they rolled
cigarettes to the great satisfaction of both. While they were in
hospital another sufferer pretended to be in no way depressed by the
loss of his arm, and ventured on mild whimsicalities regarding the
economy of being able to share a single pair of gloves with any
right-handed man who might also have lost a limb!


Commanding the Lines of Communication.

Photo by Elliott & Fry, London.]

On the whole, well or ill, Tommy was temporarily in clover. The fat of
the land was being sent out by fervent admirers at home. Indeed he was
getting somewhat inundated with worsted goods which the fair hands of
his countrywomen had been devotedly manufacturing. Jack Tar, despite his
magnificent work, was not so highly distinguished, at least so he
thought, and occasionally vented his disgust into private ears. But,
as one of them said, they'd had a treat for Christmas--the treat of a
wash! It was bathing under difficulties, however, for one half of the
men had to keep guard with loaded rifles while the other half wallowed
in water that, in harmony with the general scheme of things in camp, was
also of kharki hue!

Tommy at the front was externally scarcely the Tommy of our
acquaintance. His bright spick and span exterior was gone. Kharki had
sobered him and planed down his individuality. His uniform no longer sat
without a crease. It was washed and worn and shrunken from hard and
honourable usage, and his carriage was no longer the carriage of Tommy
on parade. He seemed to have taken a leaf out of Jack's book, and the
slight slouch became him well. It gave him the air of a workman and an
individual, and seemed to point to the fact that there was no longer
occasion for him to be judged by appearances. We knew the inner man now.
He did his duty grandly, and his splendid courage and perseverance had
made him independent of the pomp and panoply of war. In the matter of
"grit" they were all alike. But in externals they had curious
differences, their characteristics varying considerably according to the
regiment to which they belonged. Some were dapper still--the newly
arrived ones--with hair clipped to an eighth of an inch for head and
half an inch for moustache; others had succumbed to circumstances, and
had grown beards of odd sizes and shapes and colours (scumbled in all
cases with dust), while the youngsters displayed an unhappy medium,
styled by an officer "pieces of unexpected wool," on promiscuous parts
of their faces! Still, when all was said, joviality and "grit" put an
identical veneer on them all!

The officers too were transmogrified. They were dressed exactly like the
men. Tan brown belts, swords, and revolvers were no longer in evidence.
When going off to war, or any other duty at all under arms, each officer
arrayed himself in his servant's belt and equipment--stained with clay
paste to the prevalent dust or kharki colour--and took with him his
servant's rifle and one hundred rounds of ammunition. There was a
difference without a distinction. The officer carried a field-glass, and
this when not in use was concealed in a coat-pocket. Every precaution
was now adopted to prevent them from inviting an undue share of
attention. The mounted officers had carbines--neat, handy weapons, which
slipped into a leather carbine bucket in the saddle, on the other side
of which went the very necessary wire-cutters. Barbed wire entanglements
were so much a part of the Boer programme--"to cheer you up in crossing
the drifts," some one said--that the cutters became an essential part of
warlike gear. A strange innovation this; very small but very full of
meaning. The Boers were teaching us a great deal. We were beginning to
understand, almost to admire, their curious modes of warfare--their
strange ability to "sit tight," wire themselves in, and yet to fly away!
Years ago, when some tactician ventured to say that the war of the
future embraced only the question of long-range rifles and
wire-entangled trenches, we were inclined to pooh-pooh! Now we were
beginning to see wisdom in this stubborn and persistent, and yet
skittishly mobile foe! When we looked at our wire nippers and their
strong entrenchments we began to formulate the war motto of the future,
which resolves itself into five words: "Six legs and a spade!" The
sword, the bayonet, the cavalry charge were passing away for ever. Here
the dignified charger was ill-matched with the nimble steed of the
country, and many officers were only too glad to supplement their
English horses with Basuto ponies--to secure four serviceable and sure
legs, as the climate and other circumstances contrived to wear out those
of their British beasts. Fortunately there was still a plentiful choice
in horse-flesh, what with British and Australian and Argentine
specimens, but the Basuto ponies were the most knowing and handy for the
purposes required. The imported horse, it was discovered, needed a long
and probationary period to make him at home on the South African veldt.
Like other aristocratical creatures, he was unequal to the hand-to-mouth
existence of the African-born animal, who, by habit and instinct, could
shift for himself. He was neither knowing nor cautious, having been
unaccustomed to ground honeycombed with mole-holes, sluits, and other
obstacles, or to the trick of rolling on the veldt and picking up his
meals haphazard from the first bush he came across. Hence it became
evident that horses in plenty must be forthcoming if we were ever to
remedy our deficiencies and make our progress something other than the
steam-roller style of progress to which we had been accustomed.



Plucky little Mafeking continued to hold its own, and not merely to hold
its own, but to make itself dauntlessly aggressive. Continual sorties
took place, and indeed formed part of the routine of daily life.
Commandant Cronje now sent in a communication disputing the right of the
British to use dynamite in any way in the operations for the defence of
the town; but Colonel Baden-Powell was inclined for deeds, not
arguments, so Cronje was silenced. The town was enlivened by a great
concert, in which the National Anthem was sung with fervour and intense
significance. This showed without doubt that Mafeking meant to fight so
long as breath should last. In regard to provisions and water, the
garrison was getting on well. The art of dodging shells, said one
officer, was being carried to a state of great perfection, and the
fighting was being conducted in strict accordance with military
etiquette, Commandant Cronje always giving due notice of bombardment!

For some time after Colonel Walford's gallant defence of Cannon Kopje on
the 31st October, nothing much occurred. The losses from this attack
were more than at first supposed. Captain the Hon. H. Marsham, as we
know, was killed, and Captain Pechell, who was hit in the abdomen by a
piece of shell, succumbed to his injuries. Sergeant Lloyd, who did
splendid service with the Red Cross company, was struck while attending
to the wounded, and died. Trooper Nicholas, whose arm was shattered,
succumbed owing to shock to the system. A trooper who was hit by a
bullet in the collar-bone escaped death miraculously. Fortunately,
Lieutenants Brady and Dawson, who were also injured, were getting on

Among the marvellous escapes recorded, and these were not a few, was one
of a negro who was shot through the brain by a bullet. The projectile
passed through one temple and lodged in the other, yet the man still
survived, and showed a decided intention to recover. There is an old
story of a Jamaica negro who fell from a tree without injury, and when
asked how he escaped, he explained his good fortune by saying, "Tank
God, me fall on me head!" The invulnerability of the nigger cranium in
that case, as in this, had its advantages, and it would be interesting
if some of our specialists--say Dr. Horsley--would account for the
rough-and-tumble superiority of blacks over whites.

On the 1st of November a lamentable incident occurred. Parslow, the
correspondent of the _Daily Chronicle_, was shot by a member of the
garrison. The following is an extract from a letter relating to the sad
affair, which was in the possession of the Editor of the _Daily

"MAFEKING, _November 19_.--One item, the most unpleasant of the whole
beleaguerment, occupied attention during last week--that is, the
court-martial of Lieutenant Murchison for the murder of Mr. Parslow,
special war correspondent of the London _Daily Chronicle_. He was a
genial, good-humoured young fellow, and asked Murchison, an artilleryman
of ability and undoubted courage, to dine with him. After dinner Mr.
Parslow strolled with Murchison across the Market Square towards Dixon's
Hotel, the headquarters of the Staff, the ostensible purpose being for
both of them to obtain a copy of the orders for the day, usually issued
about that time--half-past nine or ten o'clock P.M. Some words ensued
apparently during the few minutes occupied in reaching Dixon's. Parslow
left his companion in the passage of the hotel, and was passing out,
when it is alleged that Murchison drew his revolver and shot him dead,
the bullet entering his head on the occipital protuberance an inch or an
inch and a half behind the left ear, and lodging against the base of the
skull. The case is completed, and the court closed to consider the

The young journalist was exceedingly popular and deeply regretted. He
was buried with military honours on the evening of the 2nd. His coffin
was covered with the Union Jack, and carried to the grave by Major
Baillie of the _Morning Post_, Mr. Angus Hamilton of the _Times_, Mr.
Hellawell of the _Daily Mail_, Mr. Reilly of the _Pall Mall Gazette_,
and the correspondent of the Press Association. The funeral was attended
by many members of the Staff, who were desirous of showing their esteem
for the promising and gallant writer.



From a sketch by a British officer brought by runner to Buluwayo]

The enemy now engaged in hostilities under the command of the son of
Cronje, who was said to have had, in the interval, a _passage d'armes_
with his father, the General, the younger man having taunted the elder
for not having succeeded in reducing Mafeking to submission. Whereupon
Cronje _fils_ undertook to do the great deed himself, and in setting
about it managed to get killed. The Boers again stormed the place, and
were driven back in confusion by the magnificent energy of the British
South African Police, leaving strewn on the field of action an enormous
number of dead and wounded. Their removal occupied two hours. Captain
Goodyear, commanding a squad of Cape "boys," made a dashing sortie, and
received a wound in the leg, but he nevertheless captured the
brickfields, and held them against the enemy, thus preventing him from
utilising them for sniping operations.

Sunday the 5th of November was, as usual, observed as a day of truce.
The enemy made an effort to defy the rules of Sabbath etiquette, and
were informed, under a flag of truce, that if they should continue to
erect works commanding the brickfields, the guns would open fire on
them. This warning had the desired effect. The memory of Guy Fawkes,
together with the news of our victories in Natal, was honoured by an
exhibition of fireworks--a display which some thought rather _de trop_
considering the nature of the daily operations in the town. On the
following day the Boers made themselves unpleasantly obstreperous by
saluting the place with quick-firing guns, weapons whose shells burst
almost simultaneously with the report, thus depriving those aimed at of
the chance of running to cover.

The air of Mafeking is said to be equal to champagne, and perhaps to its
stimulating influence the garrison owed its sprightliness and activity.
The little township "ran" a journal of its own, and though not so
effervescent as _The Lyre_ of Ladysmith, it had its humorous side. The
_Mafeking Mail_, as it was called, was issued daily--shells permitting.
Quoting from the _Mail_ of the 1st of November, a facsimile of which was
reproduced by the _Daily Telegraph_, we read that--

     "We have borne the much-feared bombardment for a fortnight, and
     still Mafeking stands. From what we have experienced we do not
     consider ourselves too optimistic in anticipating a successful
     ending to the contest. For the first time in the history of
     Boer warfare have the Boers been defeated at every turn by a
     force far inferior in point of numbers. Since the first attack
     on Saturday, October 14th, they fly directly our guns are
     heard. Safely out of range they fire into the town, but they do
     not appear to be pining for another attempt at storming
     Mafeking. In the 'general orders' issued last Sunday the
     following occurs:--'The Colonel Commanding having made a
     careful inspection of the defences of the town and the native
     stadt, is now of opinion that no force that the Boers are
     likely to bring against us could possibly effect an entrance at
     any point.' Now, this is like the advertisements say a certain
     cocoa is--grateful and comforting, and we feel that having got
     so far through the ordeal, we have only to remain steadfast, as
     the matter of a little time will see decided the first great
     step towards the settlement of the future of South Africa.
     There is no doubt that the attention of Great Britain, the
     Colonies, in fact, the whole world, is now riveted upon this
     little spot, which is now playing a prominent part in the most
     important epoch in the history of this wonderful continent. We
     know there is no need to urge the claims of our country and
     kindred upon our gallant garrison. Being in such close touch
     with each other that nothing but the exceptional circumstances
     thrust upon us could have made possible, we are in a position
     to judge and recognise the steady determination that British
     blood and British pluck exhibit when such a crisis as the
     present arises, and we know that the memory of Bronkhurst
     Spruit, Majuba, and Potchefstrom will make that determination,
     supported by the knowledge of our grand successes of the past
     fortnight, more firm, more strong, and more united than has
     been before, and this, with the grand soldier who is in command
     here, will render certain the first stages towards the complete
     crushing of the enemy.

     "There is no doubt that there was landed in South Africa by
     Sunday last a body of 57,000 men, including probably twelve or
     fourteen regiments of cavalry, twenty or twenty-two batteries
     of artillery, and forty regiments of infantry, besides, most
     likely, a body of mounted infantry. Of this force there will be
     not less than 15,000 disembarked at Cape Town and despatched on
     the road here. They may now be settling accounts with the Boers
     outside Kimberley, in which case Vryburg might be reached by
     Sunday, allowing for some delay at Fourteen Streams. When our
     troops reach Vryburg the air of Mafeking will not suit Cronje
     sprinters, so by _this day week_ we may begin to wish them a
     pleasant journey back to the Transvaal. It will then be merely
     an interchange of courtesy if we return the visit.

     "When the big gun with which the enemy hoped to pulverise us,
     and which has sent more shells in the neighbourhood of the
     hospital and women's laager than in any other parts of the
     town, is taken by our troops, we think it only fair to Mafeking
     that it should be brought here. It will make a good memorial
     and be an object lesson to succeeding generations, who, reading
     the history of our bombardment, and seeing the weapon employed
     against our women and children, will be able to judge of the
     nineteenth-century Boer's fitness to dominate such a territory
     as the Transvaal. Let it be placed, say, in the space opposite
     the entrance to the railway station, raised on end, with the
     unexploded shells piled at its base, with a description of
     Colonel Baden-Powell's clever defence of the place. We hope the
     Colonel will bear the town in mind when the disposal of the gun
     is under discussion.

     "Major Lord E. Cecil, C.S.O., last evening issued the following
     under the heading of 'General Orders':"--

     [Here was recorded Colonel Baden-Powell's appreciation of the
     action of Colonel Walford and his gallant men, which has been
     previously quoted.]

The perusal of the opening paragraphs of the _Mafeking Mail_ serves to
enlighten us as to the degrees of hope deferred through which the plucky
inhabitants had to pass. The pathos of the expression, "So by this day
week we may begin to wish them a pleasant journey back to the
Transvaal," can only be understood by comparing the date to which it
referred with that of the relief of the noble garrison--the 17th of May

On the 7th of November, the force under Major Godley and Captain Vernon
made a successful sortie, the excellent management of which was
recognised in an order issued by Colonel Baden-Powell:--

"The surprise against the enemy to the westward of the town was smartly
and successfully executed at dawn this morning by a force under the
direction of Major Godley. Captain Vernon's squadron of the Protectorate
Regiment carried this operation out with conspicuous coolness and
steadiness. The gunners, under Major Panzera, fought and worked their
guns well under a very trying fire from the enemy. The Bechuanaland
Rifles are to be congratulated on the efficient services rendered by
them under Captain Cowan in this their first engagement in the field.
The enemy appeared to have suffered severely, while our casualties were
luckily very light. This is largely due to the fact that Major Godley
delivered his blow suddenly and quickly, and withdrew his force again in
good time and order. The Colonel Commanding has much pleasure in placing
on record a plucky piece of work by Gunners R. Cowan and F. H. Godson.
The Hotchkiss gun, of which they had charge, was overturned and its
trail-hook broken in course of action. In spite of a very heavy fire
from the enemy's one-pound Maxim and seven-pound Krupp, these men
attached the trail to the limber by ropes, and brought the gun safely

At this time the town was surrounded by some 2000 Boers, and a heavy
shell-fire was daily exchanged. The damage done, however, was slight,
except in the case of the Convent, which seemed to be a favourite mark
for the Boer gunners. The trenches of the besiegers had been moved to
about 2000 yards of the town, and from here the enemy fired with rifles,
but with indifferent success. The Boers, in fact, were getting
disheartened. Colonel Baden-Powell was proving himself prepared to enter
into a competitive examination on the subject of "slimness" with them,
and they were somewhat disturbed at the intellectual strain demanded for
rivalry against so smart a pupil. All manner of efforts were made, and
there was even a Dutch council of war as to the propriety of making a
midnight attack upon the place. But the wily Colonel was ready for them.
He took care that lanterns should be placed in suitable positions to
illumine the paths of the would-be assailants, and when they turned on
these lanterns the attention of their guns and broke them, more were
immediately found to take their place. There was also the British
bayonet in reserve, and a hint which they did not care to prove as a
certainty--that dynamite was somewhere or other arranged in a ring round
the place, so that at a given sign the too pressing attentions of
intruders might be disposed of. These some one called "the B. P.
Surprise Packets," which were arranged on the lucky-tub principle, ready
for those who might venture on an experimental dive. The exact locality
was not disclosed, in order that their whereabouts might prove a
never-ending source of wonder and interest to the besiegers.


As before said, continual sorties took place, and Colonel Baden-Powell
succeeded in capturing mules and horses from the enemy and generally
harassing him. Great expectations sustained the gallant little party
that Colonel Plumer's force would shortly make its way from the north
and join hands with Colonel Baden-Powell. Early in November the opposing
forces stood thus:--

  Colonel Baden-Powell, with 500 Cavalry, 200 Cape Mounted
      Police, and B.S.A. Company's Mounted Police, 60
      Volunteers, six machine-guns, two 7-pounders, and 200
      to 300 townsmen used to arms                            1500

  1000 Transvaal Boers under Commandant Cronje, and 500
      Boers at Maritzani                                      1500

But later, some of the Boers were drawn off for service in the south.


Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]


Of the diminutive town of Kuruman and its gallant struggle little can be
said. The garrison--consisting of seventy-five British subjects,
including the men that came from Bastards--under the command of Captain
Baker stood out valiantly, fighting with rare obstinacy, and hoping that
British success elsewhere would speedily draw off the intermittent
attentions of the Boers. From the 13th to the 20th of November a strong
party of Dutchmen kept up incessant pressure, but they were forced to
retreat, though both sides suffered loss. On the part of the British one
special constable was killed.

The official details of the defence showed that the Mission Station
which was formerly the centre of Dr. Moffat's long work among the
natives of that part of Africa was the point of resistance to the Boer
attack. When the Dutch commandant notified the magistrate of his
intention to occupy the place, the latter replied that he had orders to
defend it. Thereupon he collected twenty natives and thirty half-castes,
with whose aid he barricaded the Mission Chapel, and there resisted the
assault of 500 Boers for six days and nights, after which the Boers
abandoned the attack.

To look back on the amazing valour of the tiny garrison, unsuccessful
though it was, makes every British heart swell with pride. On the
outbreak of hostilities, Mr. Hilliard, the Resident Magistrate, called a
meeting of the inhabitants, and eloquently urged them to remain loyal.
This, as we know, they did, with the result that the place resisted the
Boers and routed them, and, moreover, set a most salutary example of
loyalty to the surrounding districts of Cape Colony. The following
extracts from five short letters (all dated November 24), written by Mr.
and Mrs. Hilliard to relatives, will be of interest, as showing the
gallant spirit that sustained these brave people, and the love for Queen
and country that was so practically displayed by them. Mr. Hilliard
said:--"Just a short letter to say we have been fighting the Boers here
from the 13th to the 18th, and have driven them back with heavy loss. I
received a letter from their 'Fighting General,' Visser, on Sunday the
12th, saying that if I did not surrender the town voluntarily, he would
take it by main force. I replied that if he did he would have to take
the consequences of his illegal act, as my Government had not instructed
me to evacuate the town. The enemy has drawn off towards Vryburg." In
another letter he said:--"We are going strong; the brave little garrison
is so good and cheerful. The army has gone, but may return, so we are
prepared." In yet another he wrote:--"We are all right up to now, and
shall stick to our dear old flag till the last, whatever happens. May
God defend the right and our dear Queen. Three cheers for all." Mrs.
Hilliard wrote:--"On Monday, November 13, the Boers attacked Kuruman.
Our men fought bravely for six days, after which the Boers departed, and
we don't know if they intend returning or not. Charlie is at the Police
Camp, and looks well and happy. He is very proud of our men. Our men are
still on the alert, and are strengthening their forts, as the Boers will
not return without a cannon. They quite expected this place to be handed
over to them at once, as Vryburg was."

This state of affairs continued till the end of the year. On the 1st of
January the plucky little garrison was at last forced to surrender.
This, they said, they would never have done had they possessed a single
cannon. The Boer artillery knocked to pieces the improvised fort before
the white flag was hoisted over the ruins. Four men were killed and
eighteen wounded in the splendid but hopeless effort to hold the open
village against a foe provided with artillery and superior in numbers.
The Boers numbered twelve hundred against some seventy-five practically
helpless men! So the unequal tug-of-war came to an end--we may say, an
honourable end.

In Northern Rhodesia, British subjects were practically isolated. The
telegraph to the south was cut, and the railway--some four hundred miles
of it--was damaged in various places. To show the state of remoteness in
which the unfortunate inhabitants found themselves, it is sufficient to
say that a telegram from London to Buluwayo took sixteen days in
transit. Letters from Port Elizabeth were received about three weeks
after being posted. It may easily be imagined what dearth of news
prevailed, and how even such news as it was, was falsified by rumour.
But the excellent fellows kept heart, although they were, as one of them
said, "absolutely ignored by the British Government, and had not a red
coat in the country." He went on to say, "We have any quantity of men of
grit, and about a thousand fellows have volunteered to fight out of a
total population of men, women, and children of six thousand at most."

So little could reach us as to the doings of Colonel Plumer's splendid
little force, that the following letter from Trooper Young, a barrister,
who joined at the outbreak of the war, may be quoted. It supplies some
early links in the chain of the brave history:--

  "FORT TULI, SOUTH AFRICA, _November_ 9, 1899.

"I've had a bit of an exciting time since I last wrote--almost too
exciting at one time. Last time I wrote was when we were leaving Tuli
for Rhodes Drift. We arrived there all right after much marching and
counter-marching, mostly by night. The second night of it, for the small
portion we had for sleep I struck a guard; so by the third night I was
in a wretched state from want of sleep. I was always dropping off to
sleep on my horse and suddenly waking up. Moreover, I began to see all
sorts of strange things. Brooks and trees were transformed into houses
and gardens, and then I would come-to with a start and pinch myself and
try to keep awake--a very unpleasant experience. When we reached Rhodes
Drift, our squadron was quartered there alone, and we had a couple of
brushes with the enemy to start with.

"I missed the first, in which we had much the best of it. We only had
one man hit, and that only slightly, and in return we bowled over a
couple of Dutchmen (others may have been wounded), stampeded their
horses, over a hundred in number (we surprised their grazing guard),
killed or wounded twenty of the horses, and jumped seven. The next fight
was warm for a bit. We had only half the squadron--about forty-five
men--who were reconnoitring round the enemy's fort dismounted. This was
only three miles from our camp and in British territory. We had four men
wounded, and did an equal amount of damage to them, if not more. We got
off very cheap, for their fire was very hot, and very close too. The
third fight came off on November 2, and that was a scorcher. On the
night before it I was on guard. It was a beastly night, raining and
blowing hard, so I got very little sleep when it was my turn off. In the
day I was in charge of the grazing guard with three other men.

"About one o'clock I got orders to bring in the horses, which I did, and
had just got all the horses tied up when the Dutch started firing on us.
I'd just got into a nice position behind a good big rock when I was
ordered to ride out to warn our outlying pickets. There were three of
them, four men in each, about a mile or a mile and a half away. A risky
job it was too. Two of us were sent. I asked the other man which he
would go to. He chose the one I had wanted, so I had the worst job--two
pickets to warn, and had to ride right through the line of fire. As I
started, one of our officers shouted, 'Don't spare your horse; ride like
h--ll;' and I did too. Directly I got out, ping-ping came two bullets, a
bit high, but others soon followed much closer. I got out, though, all
right, warned the two pickets, and came in with them. We got a bit of a
fusillade on us when we got near the fort, but had no casualties. The
man who rode to the other picket had his horse shot under him; so I
scored--not for long, though, for my own horse was shot soon after.

"When I got back, I found we were having a very hot time. Our position
was a couple of small kopjes close together. On two sides there was an
open space for about 600 or 700 yards. On the other two sides there was
a lot of bush and a ridge running round us, which we were not strong
enough to occupy. The Boers had in the field between 300 and 400 men, so
we thought; we afterwards found that that was not overstating their
number. Moreover, they had 250 men and one gun at Brice's Store, about
six miles away on the Tuli road, and strong reinforcements at their
camp. They gave us the devil of a time. At first they fired mostly at
the horses. They, poor beasts, had no cover, and nearly every one was
hit. A few broke loose and bolted. Later, they turned their attention to
us. Luckily, their shell-fire was very wild, or we should have suffered
heavily. As it was, we had not a man even wounded; but it was a miracle
we did not, for at times their rifle-fire was very heavy, and now and
then they got a good shell in. I had a narrow shave. A shell burst just
near me, and one of the splinters struck a stone and sent a piece of it
bang against my leg. It cut right through my putties, three folds of
them. I made certain I was wounded, and was much relieved to find there
was no damage done.

"When the evening came, we had two alternatives--to stay where we were
and wait to be cut up, or try to go through to Tuli. It was finally
decided to do the latter, and it was undoubtedly the right thing to do.
If we had remained, we should have been surrounded the next day, and
every one slaughtered. With ninety men against a thousand we should have
had no show; still, it was a very bitter pill having to sneak off at
night, leaving everything behind (including the few horses left alive),
our kit and waggons, even the ambulance waggon. It was horrible saying
good-bye to our horses. My poor little Whiskey was wounded and very
unhappy; we were not allowed to shoot the wounded ones, as we had to
sneak off as quietly as possible. It was very sad work. Luckily we had
no man hit. I don't know what we should have done if we had. I suppose
we should have remained there and taken the inevitable consequences, as
we would not have left them. We left at 8 P.M., and arrived at Tuli at 1
P.M. next day, only two halts, one and a half in the night for sleep,
and another of half-an-hour for breakfast, which for me and most of us
consisted of water. I had nothing to eat except one small cookie from 8
A.M. the morning of the fight to 2 P.M. the next day.

"Altogether, we marched forty miles through awful country, for a long
way through brushwood called the 'wait-a-bit' thorn, and in the night,
too; it tore our clothes, hands, arms, and faces to bits; then through
sand, over kopjes covered with thick brush. Altogether it was equal to
sixty miles of English roads, and we went pretty fast when the way
allowed. We had one pleasant surprise; one of our officers left us and
rode on to Tuli when we were about ten miles off, and reported that we
were only a few miles out, pretty dead-beat, as we were. Until Captain
Glynne arrived, they believed we were all cut up, and one of the
squadrons rode out to us and lent us their horses, for which we were
very grateful. They met us about three miles out, and I'm blowed if I
know how we could have crawled in without them; we were absolutely
dead-beat. I was never so glad of a ride in my life. When we got into
camp, we found that three or four of the men of E squadron, who had been
left behind at Tuli sick, or had come in riding with dispatches, had
prepared food for us, which was also very grateful, for we wanted it. We
had left most of our kit behind at Tuli, so we were able to have a
change of clothes and a wash, both very much needed, and then I must say
I did enjoy myself. It was simply delightful to lie down and loaf about
and do nothing but smoke cigarettes. All the bitterness of the defeat
and the loss of our horses seemed to disappear, and I thoroughly enjoyed
myself that afternoon.

"At Tuli every one believed we were cut up. A party from there,
twenty-five in number, when escorting some waggons to us, were attacked
by a much superior force at Brice's Store and badly defeated. They had
to take to the bush and abandon the waggons. They brought four men
wounded back, while seven were missing, including the parson, who was
coming to see us--he was wounded in the leg. According to the men who
were there, he was taking a distinctly active part in the fight. A
squadron of some of the police, about 120 in all, were sent out to try
and relieve us, but near the store were met by some of the boys who had
bolted from us, and who reported that we were already wiped out, every
man killed; so they returned without trying to force their way through
to us. In Tuli they were much relieved to hear of our safe arrival. It
was certainly a very narrow squeak for us; it is still a wonder to me
how we managed to escape without losing a man. Certainly we had very
good cover, and took advantage of it; it was the only thing we could do.
We managed to silence their rifle-fire once or twice, but could do
nothing against their long-range shell-fire. Since then we have had very
little to do, but expect to have some more fighting before long, when we
hope to get a bit of our own back. One thing I think I may say without
boasting--we all behaved very well. There was not a sign of funk, and
every one took it coolly. As a matter of fact, more than half of E
squadron had been under fire before, either in Rhodesia or elsewhere."

To understand the effect of war upon Rhodesia at this time, we must read
the following extracts from a letter written by a "Son of the Manse" in
business near Buluwayo, dated 11th November 1899:--"We have been cut off
from the south for more than five weeks, and are very badly off for
news. Such news as we get comes by Beira, and as there is no cable
between Delagoa Bay and Beira, this makes things worse. We have heard
nothing from Mafeking since its investment by the Boers except a couple
of messages sent out by a native runner to the nearest telegraph office
still in touch with Buluwayo. A number of men from here are on the
southern frontier keeping the Boers in check, so as to prevent them
making a raid in this direction. They have had several skirmishes, but
the Boers are not in any great force, as they appear to have
concentrated their men on the Natal border, where most of the fighting
will probably take place. Business is so slow here that numbers can get
leave from their offices for the asking, and there were lots of fellows
in town doing nothing who were only too glad of the chance of earning
10s. a day, which the Government are paying the Volunteers. The local
newspaper here is of little use at present, as it has not funds to get
direct news from Natal, and the only reliable information we get is
published by the authorities. The _Chronicle_ here came out with a
special edition yesterday, describing a serious reverse to the British
(two thousand men and forty-six officers captured), but it turned out to
be taken from a German paper published in Zanzibar and sent to Beira,
and I trust it may prove false. We won't get any newspapers, I fear, as
long as the mails come _viâ_ Beira, owing to the cost of bringing them
from Salisbury by coach, but we hope there will be a change for the
better soon. When the newspapers come they will be interesting
reading.... The stoppage of the railway has had a serious effect in
Buluwayo, as it has caused a tremendous rise in the prices of
everything, and if most of the merchants had not laid in immense stocks
in anticipation of what was coming, things would be very much worse.
Some articles are very scarce. Potatoes are about £5 a sack, and of very
inferior quality. Sugar is 9d. to 1s. per lb.; and a 200-lb. sack of
flour costs 50s. to 60s., cheaper than most things, as there was an
enormous stock stored. Everything is likely to go up still higher before
supplies can reach the town, and fresh meal will soon be practically
unattainable, and every one will have to depend on tinned meat. There
are no colonial eggs coming up, so we are getting about 5s. a dozen for
ours, and the price will probably rise, as with everything else. Some of
the restaurants and hotels have had to close their dining-room, as so
many men have gone to the front. The demand for eggs and fuel (wood) is,
therefore, somewhat decreased. Several storekeepers talk of getting
things from Salisbury, and if prices rise very much perhaps it would
pay. The average rate per waggon to Salisbury lately was nearly 25s. per
100 lbs. weight. The mines are still working fairly, and may be kept on.
The Kaffirs round here seem to take little interest in the war, and the
most of them have not the remotest idea where Natal is, although the
Matabele came from there less than seventy years ago. Of course they all
know the Boers, and thoroughly detest them, as they have very good
reason to do. We have only had a few showers of rain here so far, and
the grass is very poor. We can work our donkeys much at present on that
account, as I want to have them in good order, as transport will be very
high when communications are again established."

In Southern Rhodesia the Boers were kept in check by the activities of
Colonel Holdsworth. In order to reconnoitre, and, if possible, attack
the Boer laager at Sekwani, he started on the 23rd of November with
seventy-five mounted men and ten cyclists on a night march over sandy
roads in a region where water was extremely scarce. At daybreak they
reached the Dutch laager and caught the Boers napping. Lieutenant
Llewellyn wished them an energetic "Good morning" by means of a Maxim
gun at 1000 to 1200 yards range, with the result that the enemy, about
eighty strong, were routed from their position among the kopjes. The
Boers retired to other kopjes, and from thence offered resistance, but
as storming them would have entailed considerable loss, the British
force returned to camp. They, however, burned a large store of
ammunition and captured some rifles. Therefore their hundred-mile march,
accomplished in twenty-three hours, was not profitless.


Poor Mafeking! The inevitable hung like a ghost over
everything--bodiless, formless, but always there at the elbows of the
gallant band that so long had held out against the foe. He was now
coming closer--closer, continuing to sap and approach by parallels, till
before long not only shells but rifle-fire would render streets
impassable, shelters useless, and fortified positions dangerous. Colonel
Baden-Powell's brilliant wits were hard pressed to keep the enemy from
carrying the town by storm, and all who valued their lives lived
underground, burrowing like rabbits, or in bomb-proof shelters, from
which occasionally they were routed, not by fire but by water.

Still the word surrender was unspelt. None dared breathe it aloud. A
battery of seven field-guns blazing their hot fire and doing their fell
work made no effect--the besieged remained firm. Mauser bullets whizzed
past their ears; shells long as coal-scuttles and nearly as thick
crashed into buildings, now into the hospital, now the convent, or
sometimes into the women's laager, leaving not seldom a track of
mourning and blood; but the Boer could not plume himself on victory. Not
so far off his white tents reflected the sunlight, and closer still the
grim music of his rifles was eternally to be heard; but inside the
little town were men who were developing from mere men of commerce into
toughened warriors, and assisting Colonel Baden-Powell and his
diminutive force to maintain the majesty of Great Britain, with a
chivalry that might have done honour to the knights of old.

Towards the middle of the month the garrison was much cheered by the
arrival on the scene of a plucky American journalist, who had ridden
from the Cape straight through the Boer lines, and who came with all the
buoyancy of the outer world to delight the ears of the British with
tales of Lord Methuen's advance. Other news now and then filtered in,
and this the Colonel, either _viva voce_ or by means of his typewriter,
promptly shared with the whole interested community.


To make it evident that Mafeking was determined to keep lively and
aggressive in spite of intermittent bombardment, several more gallant
sorties were made, and on each occasion the little place came off with
flying colours. Commander Cronje, disgusted, finally took himself off
with some twenty waggons to Riceters (Transvaal), leaving his guns with
the remaining commandoes and relegating to them the task of reducing the
truculent town to submission.

Ruses, which are as the breath of his nostrils to the Boer in warfare,
continued to be tried on Colonel Baden-Powell, who may be said to have
almost enjoyed new chances to whet his wits and showed himself the last
person to be caught napping. Indeed, some one at the time remarked that
if they wanted to take him in they would have to get up very early in
the morning and stay awake all night into the bargain! The latest Boer
device was to make a show of going away and leaving a big gun apparently
in a state of being dismantled. This of course was what in vulgar
phrase might be called a "draw" for the besieged. But the Colonel was
not to be drawn; his smart scouts continually found the enemy hidden in
force, and thereupon put every one on their guard. Mafeking, in fact,
"sat tight" and--winked!


Photo by Bassano, London.]

Meanwhile the inhabitants were pushing out advanced works with good
effect, and began to feel more and more confident that their pluck and
patience would ultimately receive their reward. Their bomb-proof
shelters were becoming works of art. They were no longer rabbit-warrens,
but well-ventilated apartments, roofed with the best steel rails and
sand-bags, and lighted by windows resembling portholes. Great ingenuity
was displayed in the wedding of safety with comfort, and the owners soon
began to grow interested in the artistic quality of their improvised

On the 25th of November another gallant sortie was made, and the
Chartered Company's Police, with magnificent pluck and determination,
attacked Eloffsfort and kept the Boers from further encroachment.

For some days nothing unusual took place. The Boers continued to annoy
with their 10-ton gun and the Boer flag began to float over the fortified
places surrounding the town. In fact, there was a somewhat wearisome
monotony in the programme of daily life. The laconic report at that time
of one of the sufferers was that the sole resource was to "snipe and
wait!" Fortunately pressure elsewhere was beginning to draw off some of
the hostile legions, and consequently the activity of the assault on the
town was diminished. It was quite evident that Colonel Baden-Powell had
been found a nasty nut to crack, and that his earthworks, his trenches,
his underground shelters, his night attacks, and his hundred-and-one
minor dodges, which had been craftily invented to test the amiability of
the ingenuous Boer, were scarcely appreciated. Indeed, the worthy Cronje,
when wisely taking himself off, was reported to have owned that the
Mafeking blend of Baden-Powell-dynamite-mine-and-best-Sheffield was
decidedly infernal!

On this subject the correspondent of the _Times_, who was cooped in
Mafeking, said: "The significance of the dynamite mines which surround
our position cannot be under-estimated. Had the Boers any trustworthy
information as to the whereabouts of the mines, the town would probably
have been stormed weeks ago. The general ignorance on their part of the
locality of the mines creates corresponding dread. The mines may be
taken as a material effort on the part of Rhodesia to assist Imperial
prestige and interests. The Postmaster-General of Rhodesia lent Mr.
Kiddy, manager of telegraphs, to superintend the laying of mines,
telephones, and field-telegraphs. The services so rendered have been

Of the Commandant another of the beleaguered band wrote: "Commanding us
we have a man than whom we could have none better. The Colonel is always
smiling, and is a host in himself. To see 'B. P.,' as he is
affectionately termed, whistling down the street, deep in thought,
pleasing of countenance, cheerful and confident, is cheering and
heartening--far more cheering and heartening than a pint of dry
champagne. Had any man in whom the town placed less confidence been in
command, disaster might have befallen Mafeking; and if we are able to
place the name of Mafeking upon the roll of the Empire's outposts which
have fought for the honour and glory of Britain, it will be chiefly
because Baden-Powell has commanded us."

That our good old friend _Punch_ should, in his old age, cause almost
intoxicating delight is a fact worthy of note. A copy brought by
Reuter's cyclist-runner was safely carried into the town, to the intense
joy of its inhabitants. It contained the cartoon by Sir John Tenniel in
which John Bull is represented as telling the Boer that if he wishes to
fight it must be a fight to the finish. The journal was read and re-read
even to the advertisements, and gloated over for many days. What has now
become of it is a question of interest. There are doubtless many
collectors of war trophies who would pay more than his weight in gold
for Mr. Punch after he had lived through and shared in the vicissitudes
of siege life in Mafeking.

The pluck of Colonel Baden-Powell seemed to be epidemic. Young boys, and
even women, clamoured to do their share of the work, and strove to
display a perfectly unruffled front in face of shot and shell. In one
house some ladies stuck to their abode while the breastworks were being
built, and employed the interval in playing and singing the National
Anthem, thus stimulating and cheering the workers outside, who joined
heartily in the chorus. On the 28th of November grand preparations were
made for an evening attack, and these were quietly inspected by Colonel
Baden-Powell in the small hours of the morning. But the Boers, whose
spies were for ever busy, were forewarned and had evacuated their
position. From the advanced trench in the river-bed some successful
sniping at the foe on the brickfields was carried on, however, and from
here the enemy was eventually routed by the smart action of the

During the night the Colonel ordered Captain Fitzclarence, with D
squadron and a Hotchkiss gun, to relieve Lord C. Bentinck and to support
the "snipers" in the river-bed. D squadron took up a position in the
river-bed under Captain Fitzclarence and Lieutenant Bridges 1400 yards
from "Big Ben." The Cape Police and a Maxim at the extreme south-east
corner, and Captain Marsh with a detachment of the Cape Police in the
native stadt at 2000 yards range, co-operated. It now became impossible
for the Boer artillerists to hold the emplacement of their 100-lb. gun.
Heavy three-cornered volleying from the British positions swept the
parapet of "Big Ben" every time its detachment attempted to turn the gun
upon the town. The remarkable accuracy of our fire kept the Boer gunners
at bay, and after discharging two shells they withdrew the weapon below
its platform. The enemy made some futile efforts to renew the shelling,
but at last desisted. But on the morrow the customary salute of big guns
was resumed. Meanwhile the Colonel employed himself with various jokes
of a very practical nature, which served to keep the wits and energies
of the Boers in a perpetual state of polish.

News from Colonel Plumer and his force was scarce, but all were aware
that their days and nights were spent in hard work, great discomfort,
and in perpetual and gallant efforts to come to the aid of the besieged
town. It must be remembered that the Rhodesian Regiment originally had
for its object the protection of the northern border of the Transvaal
and a portion of the western side. Mafeking made, as it were, the outer
gate, and this gate it was necessary to defend in order to preserve the
communications with the north and with Buluwayo. No sooner, therefore,
was it locked by a state of siege, than the entire responsibility of
keeping the Boers at bay in the northern fringe of the Transvaal
devolved on Colonel Plumer, who, on arrival at Tuli, set to work to
guard the Drifts, and keep an eye on all quarters along the Crocodile
where the Boers might try to effect a crossing. At Rhodes Drift,
twenty-six miles south of South Tuli, he posted Major Pilsen with 250
mounted infantry, while Captain Maclaren, with fifty men of the Rhodesia
Regiment and twenty of the Bechuanaland Border Police, was sent to
garrison Macloutsie, some thirty miles north of the Limpopo, where it
was said the Boers hoped to put in an appearance. Major Pilsen, as we
know, was forced to retire on Tuli, after which the position vacated by
him was occupied by Colonel Spreckley (Southern Rhodesia Volunteers),
who in his turn was obliged to make a night march back to Tuli, with the
loss of all his horses. Soon after this, strong Boer patrols approached
daily towards Tuli, and the garrison had an anxious and energetic time.
Minor skirmishes took place with certain success, but leaving behind
them their melancholy roll of killed and wounded. Soon, however, a
British victory south, and Colonel Plumer's exertions round about,
combined to alter the Boer plans, and at length their retirement in the
direction of Mafeking was reported. Whereupon this enterprising officer
prepared to enter the Transvaal, whither he was driven, not by the
enemy, but by drought. On the 1st of December he started from Tuli with
a force of mounted men, and, after hairbreadth escapes, in four or five
days reached a place some fifty miles north of Petersburg, the chief
town in the north of the South African Republic. He also proceeded down
the railway line towards Mafeking, but was continually harassed by the
enemy, and continually obliged to retrace his steps owing to lack of
water and other insuperable difficulties. Here we must leave him for a

The Boers, learning that necessity is the mother of invention, and
finding they could not get into Mafeking, were obliged to communicate
with the Baden-Powell "braves" in an original manner. They fired into
the town a five-pounder shell, which failed to explode. It was examined,
opened, and discovered to contain the following jocose epistle:--"Dear
Powell,--Excuse an iron messenger. There is no other means of
communicating. Please tell Mrs. -- Mother and family all well. Don't
drink all the whisky. Leave some for us when we get in." This was a
little piece of innocent diversion compared to other experiences. On the
following day a shell from a Boer 100-pounder struck a store, sending
its splinters far and wide, and carrying devastation in its wake. Daily
some tragic episode was the result of a well-directed shot, some white
or black inhabitant was left a mangled, hopeless wreck--a pathetic
fortuitous atom blown to the winds by the blast of war. In addition to
the intermittent uproar of the heavy guns, heaven's thunders at times
broke out, with copious showers of rain, and one of these, on the 5th,
was so violent that it flooded out the trenches, and made all bomb-proof
shelters untenable. Trouble and discomfort were as far as possible
relieved with great energy by Lord Edward Cecil and others, but the
effects of the inundation were not easily removed. Brisk engagements
between the sharpshooters on either side now formed part of a morning
and evening programme, and the Protectorate Regiment, under Lord Charles
Bentinck, did such good service that the enemy grew shy of approach, and
concluded that the process of starving out the garrison would be more
comfortable than shelling so vigorous and retaliative a community.

On the 10th of December the Dutchman Viljoen, who was a prisoner, was
exchanged for Lady Sarah Wilson. The story of this enterprising lady is
one of remarkable interest. In the beginning of the siege she left
Mafeking and rode to Setlagoli Hotel, where she arrived on the same
night. No sooner was she asleep than the rattle and roar of musketry
commenced. This was afterwards discovered to be the gallant fight of
Lieutenant Nesbitt on the armoured train, which has been described in
the opening story of the siege. Poor Nesbitt, it may be remembered, was
taken prisoner. Lady Sarah, a day or two after the fight, rode to the
scene of the engagement and photographed the wreck. Later on, this
intrepid lady moved from Mosuti to the care of a colonial farmer, and
with great difficulty and much expenditure of energy and coin, she
managed to induce the natives to provide her with information. All this
time she and her friends were subject to the insults of the Boers. At
one period she was declared to be the sole survivor of Mafeking, in
hiding in the disguise of a woman. At another, she was believed to be
the wife of one of the British generals. Others declared that the
extraordinary lady was a member of the Royal Family, who was acting as
spy on the doings of the Boers in the Colony. After moving to Vryburg,
life for her became more exciting still. A young Boer passed her off as
his sister, and some loyalists in the town gave her shelter, and helped
her to obtain official despatches and news. But her state was far from
comfortable, for most of her excursions had to be made under the shadow
of night, and her days were spent enclosed in a room at the hotel. When
Lady Sarah desired to leave the town, her exit was not so easy. The
magistrates had issued orders that no one was to leave, and but for the
kindness of her "brother Boer," she might not have been able to depart.
Their journey was commenced at four in the morning, while it was still
dark, and before leaving the town they had to submit to a search of
their car, lest it should contain any contraband of war.

At last, however, it was discovered that Lady Sarah Wilson's energy was
connected with despatch-running, and her liberty was threatened. One day
while riding to Mafeking with her maid she was captured by the Boers. On
reaching Snyman's camp, the general refused to allow her to proceed to
her destination or to return to Setlagoli. She was then detained as a
prisoner of war, pending negotiations with Colonel Baden-Powell
regarding the terms of her release. The Colonel offered to exchange for
Lady Sarah a Boer lady prisoner, but the enemy refused to part with
their prize till Viljoen, who was incarcerated in Mafeking, was first
given up. Colonel Baden-Powell then represented that he, as a natural
consequence, and without terms of exchange, had at once transferred
women and children prisoners to the care of their people; but the Boer
general was not to be prevailed upon by argument. Eventually Viljoen was
given up and Lady Sarah returned safe and well to Mafeking. The
transaction, though somewhat unpleasant, was on the whole decidedly
complimentary to Lady Sarah in particular, and to the British feminine
sex in general. It fully proved that an Englishwoman might in future
view herself as the equivalent of a Boer officer.

The artillery-fire of the enemy was now beginning to prove more
efficient than formerly. In spite of this, however, Colonel
Baden-Powell, in the kindness of his heart, issued a warning to the
Burghers advising them to make terms and go home. This very
characteristic epistle is here reproduced, as it shows the amazing blend
of serpent and dove in the spirit of the man who was at that moment
facing the choice of death or surrender:--

     "To the Burghers under arms round Mafeking:--

     "Burghers,--I address you in this manner because I have only
     recently learned how you have been intentionally kept in the
     dark by your officers, the Government, and the newspapers as to
     what is happening in other parts of South Africa. As the
     officer commanding Her Majesty's troops on this border, I think
     it right to point out clearly the inevitable result of your
     remaining longer under arms against Great Britain. You are
     aware that the present war was caused by the invasion of
     British territory by your forces without justifiable reasons.
     Your leaders do not tell you that so far your forces have only
     met the advanced guard of the British forces. The circumstances
     have changed within the last week. The main body of the British
     are now daily arriving by thousands from England, Canada,
     India, and Australia, and are about to advance through the
     country. In a short time the Republic will be in the hands of
     the English, and no sacrifice of life on your part can stop it.
     The question now that you have to put to yourselves before it
     is too late is:--Is it worth while losing your lives in a vain
     attempt to stop the invasion or take a town beyond your
     borders, which, if taken, will be of no use to you?

     "I may tell you that Mafeking cannot be taken by sitting down
     and looking at it, for we have ample supplies for several
     months. The Staats artillery has done very little damage, and
     we are now protected both by troops and mines. Your presence
     here and elsewhere under arms cannot stop the British advancing
     through your country. Your leaders and newspapers are also
     trying to make you believe that some foreign combination or
     Power is likely to intervene in your behalf against England. It
     is not in keeping with their pretence that your side is going
     to be victorious, nor in accordance with facts. The Republics
     having declared war and taken the offensive, cannot claim
     intervention on their behalf. The German Emperor is at present
     in England, and fully sympathises with us. The American
     Government has warned others of its intention to side with
     England should any Power intervene. France has large interests
     in the goldfields, identical with those of England. Italy is
     entirely in accord with us. Russia has no cause to interfere.
     The war is of one Government against another, and not of a
     people against another people. The duty assigned to my troops
     is to sit still here until the proper time arrives, and then to
     fight and kill until you give in. You, on the other hand, have
     other interests to think of, your families, farms, and their
     safety. Your leaders have caused the destruction of farms, and
     have fired on women and children. Our men are becoming hard to
     restrain in consequence. They have also caused the invasion of
     Kaffir territory, looting their cattle, and have thus induced
     them to rise and invade your country and kill your Burghers. As
     one white man to another, I warned General Cronje on November
     14 that this would occur. Yesterday I heard that more Kaffirs
     were rising. I have warned General Snyman accordingly. Great
     bloodshed and destruction of farms threaten you on all sides.

     "I wish to offer you a chance of avoiding it. My advice to you
     is to return to your homes without delay and remain peaceful
     till the war is over. Those who do this before the 13th will,
     as far as possible, be protected, as regards yourselves, your
     families, and property, from confiscation, looting, and other
     penalties, to which those remaining under arms will be
     subjected when the invasion takes place. Secret agents will
     communicate to me the names of those who do. Those who do not
     avail themselves of the terms now offered may be sure that
     their property will be confiscated when the troops arrive. Each
     man must be prepared to hand over a rifle and 150 rounds of
     ammunition. The above terms do not apply to officers and
     members of the Staats artillery, who may surrender as prisoners
     of war at any time, nor to rebels on British territory.

     "It is probable that my force will shortly take the offensive.
     To those who after this warning defer their submission till too
     late, I can offer no promise. They will have only themselves to
     blame for injury to and loss of property they and their
     families may afterwards suffer."--(Signed) R. S. S.
     BADEN-POWELL, Colonel, Mafeking, December 10."

If this warning did nothing else, it certainly had the effect of
touching General Snyman in a soft spot, for he at once wrote to his
Burghers in fiery language, expressing his disapproval that such a
communication should have been addressed direct to them. The idea that
"sitting and looking at a place is not the way to take it" seems to have
gone home to him, for he promptly challenged the besieged to come out
and drive him away!

On the same day as his address to the Burghers the Colonel wrote home to
a relative in England, and sent the missive folded in a quill, which was
in its turn rammed into the pipe of a Kaffir:--

  "MAFEKING, _Dec._ 12, 1899.

"All going well with me. To-day I have been trying to find any old
Carthusians in the place to have a Carthusian dinner together, as it is
Founder's Day; but so far, for a wonder, I believe I am the only one
among the odd thousand people here.

"This is our sixtieth day of the siege, and I do believe we're beginning
to get a little tired of it; but I suppose, like other things, it will
come to an end some day. I have got such an interesting collection of
mementoes of it to bring home. I wonder if Baden[1] is in the country?
What fun if he should come up to relieve me!

"I don't know if this letter will get through the Boer outposts, but if
it does, I hope it will find you very well and flourishing."


At Kimberley on November 4 things were still cheerful, though short
commons had begun to be enforced. The Transvaalers advanced on
Kenilworth, and Major Peakman with a squadron of the Kimberley Light
Horse, emerging suddenly from the bush, gave them a warm reception.
Colonel Scott-Turner reinforced Major Peakman, and two guns were sent to
support him against the enemy's guns, which at that juncture ceased
firing. The enemy's fire with one piece of artillery was on the whole
poor, and fortunately little serious damage was done. Later in the
afternoon came another encounter with the enemy, an encounter which was
kept up till dusk, and in which the enemy sustained considerable loss.
Unfortunately Major Ayliff of the Cape Police, a brave and efficient
officer, was wounded in the neck. The Boers occupied the Kampersdam
mine, some five miles distant, and shelled the Otto Kopje mine, while
the manager, Mr. Chapman, like a Spartan, watched the destruction of his
property and kept Colonel Kekewich informed as to the damage done. This
was luckily small. On November 6 General Cronje sent a message to
Colonel Kekewich calling on him to surrender, otherwise the town would
be bombarded, and on the following day a force of Free State artillery,
supported by a large commando, began further offensive operations.
Captain Brown, who rode out a short distance to Alexandersfontein, was
captured, and stripped by the Boers because he would reveal nothing
regarding the state of the town.


[Illustration: ARMY SERVICE CORPS.

Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

According to rough calculation, the opposing forces at Kimberley early
in November stood thus:--

  Four companies of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment;
  battery of Royal Garrison Artillery, consisting of six
  7-pounder mountain guns; a large party of Royal
  Engineers; detachment of the Army Medical Corps              2500

  In addition to these were the following irregular troops:--

  One battery Diamond Fields Artillery with six 7-pounder
  field guns, 3 officers and 90 non-commissioned officers
  and men; Diamond Fields Horse, 6 officers and 142 non-
  commissioned officers and men; Kimberley Regiment, 14
  officers and 285 non-commissioned officers and men            540

  Free Staters, and probably some Transvaal Boers, with four
  field-guns, 3500; on Orange River, 2000; reinforcements
  from Mafeking, 1000                                          6500

The disparity was not enlivening, but, though provisions were beginning
to run low, pluck was inexhaustible. And with pluck, as with faith, one
may move mountains.

On the 11th of November the bombardment of the town was commenced with
great vigour, the Boers firing from three positions. Little serious
damage was done, owing to the fact that many of the shells did not
burst. In spite of the incessant brawling of artillery, the perpetual
appearance of fog, and a stinging pall of smoke in which they lived, the
inhabitants of the place kept up an air of cheery unconcern, which
naturally they were far from feeling. They also determined to disquiet
the enemy by continual threats of attack from unexpected quarters. With
the spirit of philosophers they at times made small divertisements for
themselves. Once when a cooking-pot was struck the debris were put up to
auction, and some fun was got out of the brisk competition for the
historic relics. Some of the choicest of these were knocked down--this
time not by guns--for the sum of £2 a piece. The price of a complete
shell was about £5, and portions of one could be purchased at
proportionate rates. Bits and fragments fetched sums varying from half a
crown to half a sovereign!

Nothing further happened, save that a cabdriver was captured,
interrogated, threatened, and finally set free. Commandant Wessels, who
sounded him regarding the dynamite mines round Kimberley, concluded with
the message--a typical specimen of Boer braggadocio--"Tell Rhodes I
shall take Wesselton mine next Tuesday, and then he must stand

On the 12th Lord Methuen, on whom all had pinned their faith, arrived
with his staff at the Orange River. This was a red-letter day. The news
of British relief so close at hand was most inspiriting, and those
whose patience was inclined to languish began to take heart. In
Kimberley itself the weather was fine and warm, and as yet little ill
consequence from the shelling was suffered. A peacock was killed, some
buildings damaged, some nervous persons terrified. The military
authorities issued a proclamation ordering that all people not engaged
with the defensive forces should give up arms and ammunition, a decision
that was found necessary to prevent irresponsible persons from
infringing the laws of civilised warfare.

On the 17th of November a force composed of detachments of the Diamond
Fields Horse, Kimberley Light Horse, and Cape Police, under Colonel
Scott Turner, went out with a field-gun and two Maxims to ascertain the
strength of the enemy's position at Lazaretto Ridge. The enemy, who were
posted on a rocky mound between Carter's Farm and the reservoir, opened
fire on the advancing men, who, though some vigorous volleys were
returned, were obliged to retire. Meanwhile the Beaconsfield Town Guard
had a tussle with the foe, and, after much firing on either side, he
eventually retired. As usual, he hid behind rocks and stones, and made
himself generally inaccessible. On the following day some smart
engagements ensued, and so brisk was the volleying from rifles and the
booming of field-guns, that the townspeople believed that some decisive
battle must be taking place. There were, however, few casualties.

All eyes were now fixed on the doings of the Kimberley relief force that
was concentrating at Orange River. A few more weeks, nay, a few more
days, and those patient, cheery prisoners would march out free to have
their reckoning with the Boers. Lord Methuen, once joined by the
Coldstream Guards, Grenadiers, and Naval Brigade, would be able to push
on, and then the first big move in the war would be made. So they hoped,
and with reason, for an electric searchlight, worked by the Naval
Brigade under Colonel Ernest Rhodes, was signalling to Kimberley, whose
searchlights were plainly visible to the advancing army.

To the dreary imprisoned inhabitants this mode of communication was
vastly exciting. Every day the relief column was approaching nearer and
nearer, and the patient though longing besieged began to feel as if they
were already almost liberated. They commenced preparing an enthusiastic
welcome for the incoming troops, and ironical farewell salutations were
now levied at the Boers in acknowledgment of shells and of their general
artillery prowess. At that time, coming events--the disasters of
Majesfontein and Colenso--had not cast their shadows before! Mr. Rhodes
was particularly cheery, and took most whimsically to the information
conveyed through Kaffir sources that the enemy was keenly desirous of
exhibiting him in a cage at Bloemfontein prior to despatching him to
Pretoria! The brutal manners and customs of the Boers, however, were no
subject for joke, as shown by their treatment of four "boys" who were
found and captured while searching for stray cattle. After killing a
couple of them, the enemy ordered the remaining two, having first
flogged them, to bury the bodies of their comrades, and then go back to
Kimberley and tell their friends how they had been treated.


Photo, Hancox, Kimberley]

Boer tricks continued to be practised with little success. They served
instead to sharpen the wits of the beleaguered Kimburlians--if one may
be allowed to coin a word which seems to suit them. A few rifle-shots
were fired in the direction of Wright's Farm for the purpose of
pretending that the long-looked-for relieving force was approaching, and
thus draw out the Diamond Fields Horse; but the manoeuvre was a
failure. The Boers consoled themselves by blowing up two large culverts
near the rifle-butts on the line towards Spyfontein, where the bulk of
the Boer forces were then supposed to be. An official estimate at that
date (Nov. 25) placed the number of shells fired by the Boers during the
bombardment at 1000, while the number of shells fired by the British was
600. Owing to the fact that the hostile shells had so often fallen in
sandy ground, their effect had been neutralised. Experiments were made
with "home-made" shells, or rather De Beers-made shells, which exploded
to the general satisfaction of their manufacturers. Some of these were
said to be labelled "With J. C. Rhodes's compliments," but this was
doubtless a cheery quip for the entertainment of the lugubrious, as
Colonel Kekewich and the "Colossus" were too good men of business to
waste their ammunition on pleasantries. These two marvellous people were
now working hand in hand, the great business brain of the one lending
support to the military skill of the other. Mr. Rhodes placed at the
disposal of the Colonel--one should say of his country--the whole
resources of De Beers, and worked without cessation for the welfare of
the people, spending without stint, intellect, energy, and funds on
their behalf. When the mines ceased to work, he still paid full wages to
the 2000 white men employed on them, and laid out large vegetable
gardens in the midst of Kenilworth for the purpose of supplying the
inhabitants with green foods. He organised a mounted force of 600 men,
supplying them himself with horses; and later on he instituted a service
of native runners and scouts, which served to keep the garrison alert as
to the whereabouts of the enemy. Indeed, space does not allow of a
faithful recital of the doings of this public benefactor, who, without
display, made his influence felt in every quarter of the town.

Kimberley, as said, was now in communication by searchlight with Colonel
Rhodes, and was racking its brains how an attempt might be made from the
east side to march out and assist the troops coming from Belmont. "So
near and yet so far" was the general feeling in regard to these troops,
and a burning desire for the handclasp of the gallant rescuers filled
all the brave yet anxious hearts that for so long had been cut off from
the outer world.

On the 25th of November there was unusual activity. The mounted troops
at dawn made a strong reconnaissance in force under Lieut.-Colonel Scott
Turner. The guns were under the charge of Colonel Chamier of the Royal
Artillery. Hostilities commenced with a hot fire from the Diamond Fields
Artillery's guns under Captain May, in the direction of Carter's Farm,
Colonel Scott Turner with his troops marching towards Lazaretto Ridge,
where the enemy was strongly entrenched. This took place at about 4.30
A.M. in the dusk of the early dawn. By good chance the pickets were
found to be asleep, and Colonel Scott Turner and his forces crept along
the ridge and with marvellous energy rushed the Boer redoubts. On the
instant rifles bristled--shots blazed out. But all was to no purpose;
the Boers had to surrender. They did this in their usual treacherous
fashion, hoisting the white flag while they took stray pot-shots at
their conquerors. This charge was one worthy of record, for few of the
men who engaged in it had ever used a bayonet in their lives. So little
did they know of the weapon, that they were unable to fix it in the
socket, and consequently rushed upon the enemy, rifle in one hand and
naked blade in the other!

As ill-luck would have it, there was a lack of ammunition, and the
British attack could not be pressed home. Meanwhile the Royal Engineers
on Otto Kopje were protecting the flanks, and a strong body of infantry
with a mounted force, field-guns and Maxims, were checking the advance
of the enemy from Spyfontein. An armoured train, also, under Lieutenant
Webster (North Lancashire Regiment), was reconnoitring north and south.
The train (which was supported by three half companies of the
Beaconsfield Town Guard under Major Fraser) proceeded south of
Kimberley, and held the enemy's reinforcements in check as they advanced
from Wimbledon. Subsequently, owing to the brisk firing of the Boer
guns, it was decided to return to Kimberley, where Colonel Scott Turner,
in consequence of his inability to hold the position he had stormed, was
forced also to retire. But during the hot cannonade in which our
artillery was engaged with that of the enemy in all directions save
Kenilworth, this gallant officer was wounded. First his horse was shot
under him, then a bullet pierced the muscle of his shoulder. But he
continued to perform his duties regardless of the inconvenience caused
by his wound. The Boers, as usual, paid no respect to the ambulance
waggon, despite the obvious Red Cross flag which fluttered over it. They
fired at it when they chose, and, as some reported, used explosive
bullets. Eight prisoners were captured, in addition to two wounded

The day's work on the whole was satisfactory, as it ably demonstrated
that there was life in the garrison yet. And this glorious activity was
subsequently recognised in the following order:--

     "The officer commanding desires to thank all ranks who took
     part in to-day's engagement for their excellent behaviour. The
     garrison of Kimberley have this day shown that they can not
     only defend their positions, but can sally out and drive the
     enemy from their entrenched positions. He deplores the loss of
     the brave comrades who have so honourably fallen in the
     performance of their duty."

A second sortie of the same kind was attempted on the 28th of November,
but with more disastrous results. The troops took the same direction as
before--attacked the Boers, beat them back, and captured their laager
and three works. But, on attempting to take the fourth work, the enemy
fought desperately, and Lieut.-Colonel Scott Turner was killed. When
Colonel Scott Turner fell, Lieutenant Clifford, North Lancashire
Regiment, who had more than once distinguished himself, assumed command
of the Imperial Mounted Infantry, and, though wounded in the scalp,
pluckily remained on duty till all was over.[2]

There was terrible grief in the garrison at the loss of this splendid
officer, the principal organiser of the Town Guards and the successful
leader of so many skirmishes and sorties throughout the siege. The
following special order was issued:--

     "The officer commanding has again to congratulate the troops of
     the garrison who engaged the enemy yesterday on their excellent
     behaviour and on the capture of the enemy's laager, with his
     supplies, ammunition, &c. It was in every respect a most
     creditable performance. He has also again to deplore the loss
     of many brave men who have fallen at the call of duty. It was
     with profound sorrow he learnt that Lieut.-Colonel Scott Turner
     was killed while gallantly leading his men against the last
     stronghold of the enemy's defences. In Lieut.-Colonel Scott
     Turner the garrison of Kimberley loses a brave and most
     distinguished comrade, and the officer commanding feels sure
     the whole population of Kimberley will join with them in
     mourning the loss of this true British officer, to whose skill
     and activity in the field is so largely due the complete
     success of our efforts to keep the enemy at a safe distance
     from this town."

Major M. C. Peakman, an excellent and most dauntless officer, succeeded
to the command of the Kimberley Light Horse in consequence of Colonel
Scott Turner's death.

Lieutenant Wright of the Kimberley Light Horse was killed, and among the
wounded were Lieutenant W. K. Clifford (1st Battalion Loyal North
Lancashire Regiment), Captain Walleck (Diamond Fields Horse), and
Lieutenant Watson (Kimberley Light Horse).

On the afternoon of the 29th of November, amid feelings of universal
regret, the remains of Colonel Scott Turner and others who fell in
Tuesday's sortie were interred. The ceremony, so common in those days,
was yet full of deep pathos. Round the graves stood Mr. Cecil Rhodes,
Dr. Smart, the Mayor of Kimberley, Mr. and the Hon. Mrs. Rochfort
Maguire, and indeed the whole mournful community of the place. Six
volleys were fired over the graves, six blasts blown on the bugle, and
then a last prayer being said, they left them "alone in their glory."


[1] Captain Baden-Powell, of the Scots Guards.

[2] Henry Scott Turner entered the Black Watch at the age of twenty in
1887. After taking part in the operations in Matabeleland in 1893-94, he
was, in the latter year, placed on the "Special Extra Regimental
Employment List," and in 1896 served with the Matabeleland Relief Force
as adjutant and paymaster. For this service he was mentioned in
despatches and received a brevet majority. After serving with the British
South African Police, Major Scott Turner was, last July, reappointed as a
"Special Service Officer," and in that capacity had done excellent
service in Kimberley under Colonel Kekewich.



On the 18th of December, General Gatacre withdrew from Putter's Kraal,
his original advance post, to Sterkstroom. At this time, in the central
sphere, Generals French and Gatacre, while guarding the lines of
communication, were merely waiting the turn of events. Owing to a series
of successful skirmishes, in which a patrol under Captain de
Montmorency, V.C., was engaged, the Boers thought discretion the better
part of valour, and cleared out of Dordrecht, with the result that on
the 24th of December Colonel Dalgety, of the Cape Mounted Rifles, with
his force occupied the town. At Bushman's Hoek were four companies of
the Royal Scots, two 12-pounders, three Maxim guns, about 800 Kaffrarian
Rifles, and about thirty Engineers. Owing to scarcity of water General
Gatacre's force had to be divided, the rest remaining at Sterkstroom.
There water had to be conveyed by rail, whence, with some difficulty, it
was hauled to Bushman's Hoek in water-tanks by mules. The railway in
these parts, a species of South African switchback on two narrow rails,
rambled up hill and down dale with engaging ingenuity. Though water was
dependent on the trains, fresh foods were sometimes obtainable. At
neighbouring farms it was possible to purchase butter-milk, grain, and
bread, but to "go a marketing" it was necessary to start in full
marching order, for there was no knowing when the Boers might block the
road, or what nefarious tricks might be taking place. It was quite
impossible to be even with the Dutchmen's ruses. For instance, one who
knew their ways said that if a Boer horse went lame or knocked up,
twenty chances to one a "loyal" would place a mount at his disposal,
give him bed, "tucker," forage, &c., while he would also watch the
horizon for the approach of the military, and should they come the Boer
would be a man of peace, without uniform, arms, or anything else to
incriminate him. Therefore, as may be imagined, life was never too
easy-going. The day began at 3.15 A.M., but night itself, short as it
was, was scarcely restful. The troops slept with their straps on, 150
rounds of ammunition apiece by their side, in hourly expectation of
attack. Niceties of the toilet were unknown, and gallant fellows with
black faces and whiskers whose acquaintance with water was only weekly,
were the rule. Some even presented the appearance of opera-house
brigands, having locks so redundant and long, that jocose Tommies
suggested writing home to their sweethearts for the loan of hairpins.

In other respects the daily routine was not unpleasant. Bullocks and
sheep were killed regularly and found their way into the camp-kettle;
bread was still served out, and supplemented with biscuits. For
recreation there was football; and to enliven the spirits there were
four cheery pipers, who at night-time made the welkin ring, and caused
their compatriots to start up and indulge in reels and Highland flings,
and almost to forget that they were in the land of the enemy.

On the 29th, a pouring day, Captain de Montmorency started with his
scouts and thirty Cape Mounted Rifles in hope of catching the enemy. But
the Boers, under cover of the mist, took themselves off in the direction
of the Barkly East district.

On the 30th of December a hundred of Flannigan's Squadron of Brabant's
Horse had a smart brush with an equal number of Dutchmen, who, however,
were promptly reinforced. Thereupon the squadron retired, but
unfortunately Lieutenant Milford Turner and twenty-seven men were left
behind in a donga which none would leave, determining to remain there
and protect Lieutenant Warren of Brabant's Horse, who was wounded. To
their assistance went Captain Goldsworthy the next day, accompanied by
Captain de Montmorency's scouts, 110 men, and four guns. These arrived
on the scene so early as to surprise the Boers, who, after having been
kept at bay by the small force of Colonials, had continued to snipe at
them from a distance throughout the night. A sharp fight now ensued,
and, after some clever manoeuvring on both sides, the enemy retired
with the loss of eight killed, while the party in the donga was
relieved, and returned in safety to Dordrecht. The rescue was highly
exciting, as the Boers were finally sent helter-skelter just as our men,
worn out with a night's anxiety in the nullah, had almost given up hope
of release. As it was, they were restored to their friends in camp amid
a storm of cheers.

Early on the 3rd of January a force was sent out from the advanced camp
at Bushman's Hoek to meet a hostile horde that occupied Molteno. The
Boers had mounted a big gun on a kopje in front of Bushman's Hoek, and
from thence commenced to fire at about eight o'clock. Around the
neighbourhood the Boers were seen to be swarming; therefore the force,
composed of Kaffrarian Rifles, Mounted Infantry of the Berkshire
Regiment, and the Cape Mounted Police, at once engaged them.


Photo by Elliott & Fry, London.]

Two hours later General Gatacre and Staff started from headquarters with
half a battalion of the Royal Scots and the 78th Battery of Artillery.
The Boers from their point of vantage were firing from the hill on
which was placed their big gun, and they continued to fire on the
Infantry as they advanced over an undulating plain to right of
Cypherghat, whence the population had fled panic-stricken at the outset
of the fight. Fortunately the hostile shells burst without doing damage,
and the troops continued to advance.

The Artillery made a detour to the right, secured a commanding position
on a kopje, and from thence began a ten minutes' cannonade which had the
effect of silencing the Boers. They withdrew their gun and retreated,
the bulk of their force now advancing, now retiring, to cover the

At this juncture the Mounted Infantry, which had worked its way round
with a view to outflanking the enemy's position, came on the scene only
to learn of the withdrawal. This was carried on without check owing to
our lack of cavalry. While General Gatacre's force were thus engaged,
the enemy was making a determined attack on 140 men of the Cape Police
and 60 men of the Kaffrarian Rifles at Molteno. They were splendidly
repulsed, though the Police had an unpleasant experience. Five shells
dropped into their camp, but all miraculously escaped injury. The Boers
now retired as mysteriously as they had come, and none knew the exact
reason for their arrival. It was suspected that it was a "slim" trick to
draw General Gatacre into another trap.

A strong force left Sterkstroom before dawn on the morning of the 8th of
January for the dual purpose of reconnoitring in the direction of
Stormberg and taking possession of the meal and flour from Molteno
Mills. The force comprised the Derbyshire Regiment, the 77th and 79th
Field Batteries, 400 mounted men of the Cape Police and Berkshire
Regiment, the Kaffrarian Rifles, and the Frontier Rifles. The expedition
was eminently successful. The operation of removing the food-stuffs and
detaching the vital parts of the machinery of the mills was carried on
under the protection of the Derbyshire Regiment and the 77th Battery.
That of reconnoitring was undertaken by the force under Colonel
Jefferies, R.A., and it was discovered that the Boers, who were supposed
to have evacuated Stormberg, were within a two-mile range. A survey of
the Boer position was made by the Engineers, and the troops returned to
camp well satisfied with the result of their labours.

No larger martial moves could be attempted, for General Gatacre lived in
a chronic state of suspended activity for lack of reinforcements. The
Dutchmen had now fallen back from Stormberg, leaving only a small
garrison there, and established themselves near Burghersdorp. The Boer
strength in this district was estimated at about 4500, a force made up
for the most part of Free Staters and Cape rebels. On the 18th of
January General Gatacre moved some three hundred of all ranks from
Bushman's Hoek to Loperberg, and the 74th Field Battery, with one
company of Mounted Infantry, from Sterkstroom to Bushman's Hoek. The
Boers continued a system of annoyance and petty progress by destroying
railway bridges in the neighbourhood of Steynsburg and Kromhoogte, about
eleven miles from Sterkstroom, and damaging portions of the line near

Though General Gatacre's Division was merely the shadow of the division
it should have been, and his strength, such as it was, materially
thinned by reverse, he had at his elbow one man who was a host in
himself. This man was Captain de Montmorency. He kept the Boers who were
holding Stormberg in a simmering state of excitement and suspense. He
and his active party of scouts were perpetually reconnoitring and
skirmishing and emerging from very tight corners, getting back to camp
by what in vulgar phrase is called "the skin of their teeth." One of
these narrow escapes was experienced on the 16th January, when Captain
de Montmorency and his men went out from Molteno to gain information
regarding the whereabouts of the enemy. A smart combat was the result of
their efforts, and when they were almost surrounded Major Heylen with
sixty Police came to the rescue, and the whole force, after some
animated firing, returned safely to Molteno, plus horses, mares, foals,
and oxen, which had been captured from the enemy.

At this time a curious correspondence took place between the Boer
Commandant, General Olivier, and General Gatacre. It was a species of
Dutch _tu quoque_--the Boer leader thinking to charge the British one
with the same tricks as those in which his countrymen had been detected.

General Olivier solemnly declared that a store of ammunition had been
found in an abandoned British waggon--a waggon marked with red crosses
and purporting to be an ambulance waggon. General Gatacre emphatically
denied the "slim" impeachment. He forwarded affidavits sworn by Major
Lilly, R.A.M.C., who was the last man with the waggon before it had to
be abandoned, who stated that if such ammunition had been found it had
been subsequently deposited there. General Gatacre further informed the
Commandant that the practice of taking wives and children in or near
camp and allowing them to run the risks common to belligerents was
contrary to the rules of civilised warfare, and desired to point out the
responsibility he incurred in so doing. He further remonstrated that a
servant who had been on the field of battle to assist Father Ryan in the
succour of the wounded had been detained in the Boer camp after
assurances of his release had been made. To these remarks and complaints
the General received no reply.

Fortunately, our wounded who were not captured were doing well. The
ladies at Sterkstroom were particularly devoted, and visited and cheered
the sick daily, and carried them little luxuries which were mightily
appreciated. Though there were not many losses, sick and disabled were
constantly being carried into the hospital as the result of
reconnoitring and scouting expeditions, which were ceaseless, and had to
continue ceaseless, owing to the inability of the force to take powerful


On the 20th of January Lieutenant Nickerson, R.A.M.C., who had
accompanied the wounded after the misfortune at Stormberg, arrived in
camp. Father Ryan's servant, on whose account General Gatacre, as
already mentioned, addressed Commandant Olivier, also returned. They
brought interesting news. More guns had been brought on the scene, and
these were served by German gunners. Septuagenarians and striplings were
drafted into the commandoes, while at Burghersdorp the Town Guard was
composed of lads of about thirteen years of age. This showed that the
stream of reinforcements was beginning to run dry. Many youngsters were
said to have been sent from their college at Bloemfontein straight to
the front.

Commandant Olivier now took the opportunity to announce that he meant to
retain as prisoners all correspondents who might be captured. The
correspondents were flattered, and began to calculate whether
"Experiences in Pretoria" would make good "copy," but finally decided
for the liberty of the press.

A little innocent diversion was provided by the Boers during the night
of the 20th. The British were awakened by furious fire, which was
continued for some time. Great consternation prevailed, till it was
afterwards discovered that a scare in the Boer lines had taken place,
and the sound of some stampeding cattle had been mistaken for the
advance of the British! The Boers had at once flown to arms, fired right
and left in the midnight darkness, and as a natural consequence shot
some of their own cattle!

After this, there was silence, like the ominous lull which comes before
a storm. Little puffs and pants of hostility took place around
Sterkstroom and Penhoek, while at Colesberg the Boers were on guard,
with the fear of some impending ill. Important developments were
dreaded. It was known that swarms of troops were moving from the Cape,
and that the positions which had hitherto been held by the Federals in
consequence of the weakness of British forces in all quarters, would
soon be tenable no longer. And the waverers began to shake in their
shoes. They began suddenly to adopt a helpful attitude towards the
forces. The fact was, Lord Roberts had issued a proclamation encouraging
Free Staters and Transvaalers to desert by the promise that they should
be well treated. To the Colonial rebels he had diplomatically tendered
the advice to surrender before being caught in _flagrante delicto_.


While all eyes were turned in the direction of the Natal force for the
relief of Ladysmith, General French was making things lively for the
Boers. It may be remembered that he left Ladysmith immediately before
Sir George White's garrison was hemmed in, and betook himself to the
central sphere of war. On the 23rd of November, with a reconnoitring
force consisting of a company of the Black Watch, some mounted infantry,
police, and the New South Wales Lancers, he went by train towards
Arundel, and was fired on by Boers who were sneaking in the hills. Three
of the party were wounded, but the rest drove the enemy off. The rails
had been lifted just in front of the scene of the fight. From this time
activities of the same kind took place daily, the General devoting his
energies to reconnoitring east and west of his position, keeping the
enemy from massing at any given point, and forcing them to remain on the
_qui vive_ in perpetual expectation of attack.

Scouting at this time was carried on to the extent of a fine art. Never
a day was devoid of excitement. "We start out before dawn, and get
back--well, when we can!" This was the pithy description of a youngster
who enjoyed some thrilling moments. The following sketch of the
experiences of a New Zealander show how one and all willingly risked
their lives in the service of their country:--

"I was under fire for the first time on my birthday (Dec. 7), when a
section of us (four men) were sent out as a mark for any Boers to shoot
at. We rode to the foot of a kopje and left one of us in charge of the
four horses. Another chap and I climbed to the top. Puff! bang went
three shells from their Long Tom and a perfect fusillade of bullets. It
is marvellous how we escaped. We were to report as soon as we were fired
at, so I volunteered as galloper to go back to our lines to report. I
did a quick time over that two miles of veldt, bullets missing me all
the time. I reported, and was told to go back and withdraw the men,
which I did. Afterwards we took eight men, and under cover kept up a
steady fire for five hours. I was horribly tired, as I had been in the
saddle eighteen hours the previous day. My mate was fresh--we were
planted behind stones in pairs--and while he kept up the firing I
slumbered, strange as it may seem. There are thousands of troops in the
camp. General French, in command of this particular division, has
complimented us on many occasions on our coolness under fire and our
horsemanship. He said we could gallop across country where English
cavalry could only walk. He told us after a skirmish we had with the
enemy that he couldn't express in words his admiration of us, that we
were the best scouts he had ever employed, and that we always brought in
something, either prisoners, horses, sheep, cattle, or valuable
information--which latter is entirely true. During the slack time our
chaps are busy breaking in remounts for the English cavalry. Horses die
like flies here, and Cape ponies are substituted."

Numerous and ingenious tricks were practised on the Boers, many of them
doubtless owing their origin to the active and fertile brains of General
French and Colonel Baden-Powell, the author of the "Manual on Scouting."
One of these was to take in the enemy's scouts by tethering ostriches to
bushes on the hills. The presence of the birds naturally gave to the
place an air of desolation, and satisfied the enemy that the ground was
unoccupied. In Colonel Baden-Powell's opinion fine scouting is a true
bit of hero-work, and his description of the "sport" in his own words
serves to show of what stuff our Colonial scouts were made. He says: "It
is comparatively easy for a man in the heat and excitement of battle,
where every one is striving to be first, to dash out before the rest and
do some gallant deed; but it is another thing for a man to take his life
in his hand to carry out some extra dangerous bit of scouting on his own
account, where there is no one by to applaud, and it might be just as
easy for him to go back; that is a true bit of hero's work, and yet it
is what a scout does continually as 'all in the day's work.' The British
scout has, too, to be good beyond all nationalities in every branch of
his art, because he is called upon not only to act against civilised
enemies in civilised countries like France and Germany, but he has also
to take on the crafty Afghan in his mountains, or the fierce Zulu in the
open South African towns, the Burmese in his forests, the Soudanese on
the Egyptian desert, all requiring different methods of working, but
their efficiency depending in every case on the same factor--the pluck
and ability of the scout himself. To be successful as a scout you must
have plenty of what Americans call 'jump' and 'push,' 'jump' being
alertness, wideawakeness, and readiness to seize your opportunity,
'push' being a never-say-die feeling. When in doubt as to whether to go
on or to go back, think of that and of the Zulu saying, 'If we go
forward we die, if we go backward we die; better go forward and die.'
Scouting is like a game of football. You are selected as a forward
player. Play the game; play that your side may win. Don't think of your
own glorification or your own risks--your side are backing you up.
Football is a good game, but better than it, better than any other game,
is that of man-hunting." Of this game, our troops, particularly in the
disaffected regions of Cape Colony, were beginning to have their fill.

On the 8th of December Colonel Porter, with the 5th Dragoon Guards and
Mounted Infantry, arrived at Arundel from Naauwpoort, for the purpose of
making a reconnaissance and locating the enemy and discovering his
strength. The force detrained some four miles outside the town and
advanced across the plain, the Dragoons to left and right, the Mounted
Infantry, consisting of New Zealanders and Australians, in the centre
slightly in the rear. The Boers in the surrounding kopjes, seeing their
danger, took themselves off with great rapidity to another ridge three
miles to the north. This position was located before nightfall. At
daybreak four companies of Mounted Infantry were posted on a hill two
miles north of Arundel, while a troop of Dragoons reconnoitred the town
and found it evacuated by the enemy. The advance was then resumed. At 8
A.M. the troops reached Maaiboschlaagte, and spied the enemy on the
hills near Rensburg's Farm. The Boers were busy dragging a huge gun up
the hill. Having no artillery, the flanking movement on the left was
discontinued, but the Dragoons on the right, who were three miles in
advance of the remainder of the force, crossed the plain and outflanked
the enemy. The crackling of muskets followed, and soon after the booming
of two guns. The New South Wales Lancers now reinforced the first line,
and though for many hours their "baptism of fire" was prolonged, they
suffered the only loss of the day--the loss of a horse. The operations
were successful, and the strength of the enemy was found to number about
2000. The occupation of this region by our troops was considered of
great strategical importance, as it formed a convenient advance base for
further operations. The town is situated some twelve miles from
Colesberg, and is in a fashion a natural fortress. It consists of rugged
hills surrounding flats, and is provided with refreshing water springs.

On the 12th of December a patrol under Lieutenant Collins was fiercely
fired upon; a sergeant of the Carabineers was killed and a private was
reported missing. This happened as they were turning away from a farm at
Jasfontein belonging to Field-Cornet Geldenhuis, with whom they had had
an interview. The proprietor received his just deserts, for later on two
squadrons of Carabineers with two guns and a company of Mounted Infantry
were sent out to shell the farm, which duty was accomplished with zest
and thoroughness. General French's report of the affair is too
interesting to be omitted. He said:--

     "I wish particularly to bring to notice the excellent conduct
     and bearing of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, commanded by
     Major A. W. Robin, on one of these occasions.

     "On 18th December I took them out with a battery of Horse
     Artillery to reconnoitre round the enemy's left flank, and
     determined to dislodge him from a farm called Jasfontein lying
     on his left rear. The guns shelled the farm, and the New
     Zealand Mounted Rifles then gained possession of it. But the
     enemy very suddenly brought up strong reinforcements and
     pressed on us with his Artillery. Our Artillery had been left
     some way behind to avoid this latter fire, and I had to send
     back some distance for its support, during which time we were
     exposed to a heavy musketry fire from the surrounding hills.
     The conduct of the New Zealanders was admirable in thus
     maintaining a difficult position till the Artillery caused the
     enemy to retire."

Early on the morning of the 13th patrols were again fired upon, this
time from Platberg, a kopje on the fringe of Colesberg Commonage. About
4 A.M., in the dusk of early dawn, the Dutchmen, some 1800 strong, were
found to be leaving their position and advancing in the direction of
Naauwpoort. Thereupon Colonel Porter, with Carabineers, Inniskillings,
10th Hussars, and four guns of the R.H.A., moved eastwards. What Mr.
Gilbert describes as "a short sharp shock" followed, and the enemy's
guns, after firing three shots, were silenced. Our cavalry headed the
enemy off, and soon after 2 P.M. the bulk of his forces retired to their
former position. Vaalkop was held by one squadron of cavalry and two
guns for the rest of the day. Some Boers remained at Talboschlaagte,
and some later on occupied Kuilfontein Farm, but were driven out by
British shells with loss of forty killed and wounded. Our own losses
during two days' sharp work amounted to one man killed. Captain Moseley
(Inniskillings) was slightly wounded, and four men also received

On the same date Colonel Miles reported from Orange River an unlucky
incident. Part of the Mounted Infantry under Captain Bradshaw and the
Guides under Lieutenant Macfarlane patrolled in the direction of Kamak
and Zoutpansdrift, ten miles east of Orange River, for the purpose of
reconnoitring and reporting the strength of the enemy. The Boers were
said to be holding the drift, and near there, somewhat suddenly, a
strong party of them appeared. The Mounted Infantry attacked, and a
brisk engagement followed, with the result that the enemy decamped to
Geemansberg. Unfortunately, for this smart piece of work Captain
Bradshaw paid with his life; Lieutenant Greyson (Buffs) was wounded,
three men were killed, and seven wounded. Captain Bradshaw was an
energetic and valuable officer, and his loss was deeply deplored.

To return to General French. Hard days of work in a broiling sun with
little to show for it were the lot of those around Naauwpoort at this
time. On the morning of the 15th two guns of the Horse Artillery, going
eastward across the veldt from Vaalkop, shelled a Boer waggon which had
been espied winding along the road. It was presumably from Colesberg,
and laden with supplies for the artillery of the enemy. Several shells
were at once launched, but they failed to strike it. The artillery then
tried a new position, and were "sniped" at by odd sharpshooters from the
hills. Finally a "Long Tom" was brought by the Boers to bear on the
situation, and then the artillery, pursued by shells, returned to

Boer aggression continued. On the 16th the enemy took up a position on a
hill near Kannaksolam and sniped at the British patrols when they went
to water their horses. The Dutchmen were splendidly concealed, so
splendidly that it was impossible for the patrols to return the fire.
The New Zealanders were also fired upon, and though five scouts lay for
hours on the hill watching the Boers' hiding-place, not one of the foe
showed his nose out of cover. At last, in the afternoon, Captain
Jackson, with eight Carabineers on patrol, caught sight of the enemy
peeping from his lair, and suddenly found himself in the midst of a
volley. Captain Jackson was shot in the spine and instantly killed, the
other members of the party and the riderless horse fleeing amid a storm
of bullets. On the morning of the 18th the remains of the gallant
officer were buried at Naauwpoort with military honours. The enemy's
position was shelled at daybreak by ten guns.


Drawing by R. Caton Woodville.]

On the same day General French made a successful reconnaissance with
a battery of Horse Artillery and the New Zealand Rifles. The New
Zealanders had some exciting experiences. Major Lee and his men went
forth to draw the fire of the Boers, and unfortunately, instead of
drawing the shell of the enemy they drew the shot, and found themselves
all at once in a very warm corner indeed. They were rapidly hemmed in on
three sides, and stood a very good chance of being cut off. But pluck
carried the day, and though all their accoutrements, saddles, and
water-bottles showed visible signs of the hurricane of destruction
through which they had ridden, they arrived in camp safe and sound, much
to the satisfaction of the General, who issued an order complimenting
them on the success of their reconnaissance.

Major Lee, who was in command of the New Zealanders at Arundel, was
reported to be a splendid fellow--not the typical dashing officer by any
means, but what was described as a regular paterfamilias of somewhat
aldermanic proportions. He was hale, hearty, and beaming, and withal a
man of coolness and courage. The qualities possessed by this officer
were said to be shared by most of his men, who, though of the rough and
ready stamp, were true chips of the old British block.

Mr. Gifford Hall was most enthusiastic about Colonials all and sundry,
and, knowing their excellence and Great Britain's needs, delivered
himself of words of wisdom which are worthy of repetition:--

     "Ex-frontier cavalryman myself, with further experience as
     cowboy in both the United States and North-west Canada, and
     also as stockrider in Australia, I have never for a moment
     doubted that in the raising of an irregular Anglo-Boer force
     lay the solution of England's problem, 'How to successfully
     cope with the enemy.' Sans standard of physique, sans much
     orthodox training, sans everything but virility, inherent
     horsemanship, inherent wild-land craft, mounted on his own
     pony--bronco of Canada or brumbie of Australia--the Canadian
     ranche hand, the Australian stockrider, shearer, station
     rouseabout, or the 'cull' of all lands Anglicised might easily
     become the quintessence of a useful and operative force against
     a semi-guerilla enemy. A pair of cord breeches, a couple of
     shirts, his big hat, and a cartridge-filled belt, Winchester
     carbine, a pony of the sort that can be run to a white sweat,
     and staggering, tremble, and then be kicked out to nuzzle for
     grass or die--that's what your man wants. The pants and shirts
     will be better than he has worn for years; the gun he has 'shot
     straight' with ever since he first handled his 'daddy's'
     muzzle-loader; and the 'hoss,' why each is of the other, horse
     and man, each apart, a thing inept. Orthodoxy against the Boers
     in military operations doesn't wash.
     Aldershot-cum-Sandhurst-cum-Soudan-cum-Further-India and
     War-Office tactics fall flat. The Boer is here, there, and
     everywhere, not to be followed by 'crushing forces'--only to be
     checked and turned and tracked and harried and hustled by a
     brother Boer. There is scarce a Canadian ranche hand but owns a
     pony of bronco breed, scarce an Australian station hand of any
     decent calibre but owns or can procure a tough and serviceable
     semi-'brumbie' mount. And will these men volunteer? Yes, plenty
     of them, and those that won't can't. Surely Empire saved or
     gained is worth their worth to the Motherland they fight for.
     Let her hire them. Transportation and time? The Boer war is not
     over yet, and England's pocket is deep. To-day she fights for
     her life, for her honour, and win she must. Arm them and saddle
     them, men of the wild-lands and prairies. Work them van, flank,
     and rear. This folly of 'standard' physique and 'training'--to
     the winds with it. The theory of weight and height for
     effective fighting is exploded. Heart, eye, and seat, and
     wild-land inherent tact make up for it. Five-feet-six can ride
     and shoot and fight or die as well as six-feet-two. We
     wild-landers have proven it over and over again. Even when the
     war is over, and our regulars and reserves must return, make
     these men into protective police for a while, officered not by
     orthodoxy but by knowledge and experience. They will 'learn the
     country.' They will evolve scouts from amongst them who shall
     make no mistakes. They will give to England what she needs in
     times like these--to come again or not. Your yeomanry won't do
     the trick; nor your oat-fed kharki-clad higher Colonials
     either. 'Tis your Anglo-Boer, cowboy, stockrider, shearer,
     rouseabout, cull, given his way and a cause--yes, he and his
     scrub-fed mongrel mount and 'gun.'"

These expressions of opinion almost amounted to a prophecy, for very
shortly the Canadian ranche hands, the Australian stockriders, the hardy
New Zealanders, and the "higher" Colonials--as Mr. Hall styled
them--taught us lessons which we were swift enough to follow.

At Christmas the troops fared well, and contributions of a homely and
delectable kind were supplied to make the season pleasurable. The
inhabitants of Naauwpoort showed their appreciation of Mr. Thomas Atkins
in many tangible ways, notably by providing him with appetising
refreshments as he arrived by rail. Of course, there was a run on the
telegraph office. Christmas greetings went pouring out and came pouring
in, while the mail-bags swelled with a plethora of seasonable
blandishments. At Arundel Colonel Fisher and the officers of the 10th
Hussars endeavoured to forward Christmas greetings to the Colonel of the
Regiment, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, but for some
unexplained reason the felicitation was not allowed to go beyond the
vigilant eye of the censor.

The great attraction of Christmas, and its accompaniment the New Year,
was the expectation of a gift from Queen Victoria, which was specially
prepared according to the order of the Sovereign herself. It was to take
the form of a tin of chocolate, and was to be presented to every soldier
on service in South Africa. The box was specially designed, and adorned
with the regal monogram. This unique gift, in order to make it the more
valuable as a trophy or a family relic, was manufactured only of the
exact number required for presentation to each individual serving at the

Naauwpoort enlivened itself with sports, and though the weather was
almost tropical, the activity served to compensate for the absence of
the mirth of Merrie England. At this time the Boers were approaching
nearer the British camp. There was a three days' truce, it is true, but
their positions were only six miles from our troops, and they were
warned that a nearer approach would mean prompt action by the guns.

The daily routine went on somewhat monotonously--the grooming, watering,
and exercising of horses; drilling, exercising the mules of ambulance
and transport waggons; unloading the food supplies, cooking
them--occupations which afforded work in plenty, but the real business
of warfare was suspended. Some of the officers made an effort to get up
hunting parties, and succeeded in bagging a few springbuck, but their
expeditions were fraught with even more risk to themselves than to their
quarry. For instance, in one case, while two gallant Nimrods were in the
act of stalking a splendid springbuck, their chargers made off. They
suddenly found themselves almost surrounded by Boers, and an animated
chase followed. Luckily the carcass of the springbuck, which was left
behind, was too great a prize to be parted with, and the enemy captured
it in preference to the huntsmen!

At this time there was great consternation in camp, as two cavalry
officers were taken prisoners. It subsequently transpired that the
officers, Lieutenant Till (Carabineers) and Lieutenant Hedger (attached
to the 10th Hussars), were captured through an unfortunate accident.
They mistook the Boers for New Zealanders, and therefore were unprepared
to offer resistance. On discovering their error they made a desperate
attempt to escape, but were overpowered.

The Colonials afterwards discarded their picturesque hats and took to
helmets. Owing to the resemblance of their headgear to that of the
Boers, some British pickets had mistaken them for the enemy and fired on

On the 29th the enemy fell back on Colesberg, and there with his small
force General French proceeded to tackle him. "So near and yet so far"
must have been repeated many times by both Generals French and Gatacre
when each failed to accomplish some clever moves for want of the
necessary reinforcements. In the ordinary course of things, from
Naauwpoort to Sterkstroom was an easy three-hours journey by rail, but
now, with the barrier of the Boers at Stormberg--the junction between
the East London and Port Elizabeth systems--it was necessary to travel,
if by rail, _via_ Port Elizabeth, thus making a three-days instead of a
three-hours trip. And railway travelling was by no means a safe and
enjoyable exercise. True, the lines of communication were protected by
some eleven hundred Volunteers, but as martial law had not been
proclaimed south of Naauwpoort, and disloyalty was here the rule and not
the exception, it was quite on the cards that at any moment culverts
would be found blown up and rails twisted.



On Christmas Day Lieut.-Colonel Pilcher, formerly of the Northumberland
Fusiliers, late of the Bedfordshire Regiment, arrived at Belmont and
took command of the troops. The Station Staff now consisted of Colonel
Pilcher; Major Bayly, Major MacDougall, and Major Dennison. The garrison
was soon strengthened by two companies of the 2nd Duke of Cornwall's
Light Infantry under Major Ashby. A general state of high polish was
begun, and the Canadians, ever active and on the alert, came in for some
excellent training, which they were not slow to profit by. Owing to the
insecure state of the neighbourhood, it was put in a fair state of
defence. Stone sconces were built on the kopjes; earthwork trenches were
built at the station and elsewhere; and a series of alarm drills was
carried on, in order to enable all concerned to take up their especial
posts at a moment's notice. For instance, at an appointed hour an alarm
on the bugles would wake the echoes. The men would rush to arms; every
company, previously instructed, would fall in on its own private parade
ground, and then set out at the double for its post. Celerity without
fluster was the motto of the movement. When all were posted, some in
trenches a mile off, others three or four hundred yards away, the
Colonel would proceed to make such disposition of his troops as the
imagined enemy might impose. For instance, he would picture the attack
coming from the north-east and march some of his force in the direction
of the assumed attack, covering it with a strong line of skirmishers,
while other troops in springless four-wheeled buck waggons were sent to
their support. The movement would be only sufficiently developed to give
the men an intelligent appreciation of what might be required of them,
and certainly nothing could exceed the promptness and alacrity with
which the troops threw themselves into their military rehearsals. The
Canadians especially distinguished themselves by their zest and
acuteness, and in all the bogus engagements--the attack drill--earned
the praise of the commander. The following is a copy of a regimental
order: "The officer commanding the Royal Canadian Regiment is desired by
the officer commanding the troops at this station to express his
satisfaction with the intelligent and quiet way in which this morning's
work was carried out by the officers, non-commissioned officers, and
men of the Royal Canadian Regiment." The Colonel particularly
appreciated the manner in which the men avoided "bunching," the most
fatal error that can be made by troops in modern warfare of the kind in

At the end of the year more Australians arrived. These troops had been
stationed for a short time at the Orange River, getting their horses
into condition after a six weeks' voyage. From thence they moved on to
Belmont. The two companies of Queensland's Mounted Infantry found their
green tents awaiting them, and a hearty welcome. The men, a hardy and
stalwart set, tall and comely to look on, were well fitted in their
kharki uniform, which showed no signs of relationship to the slouching
apparel peculiar to hastily rigged-out troops. Their jackets, cord
breeches, felt hats looped up at the side with a tuft of feathers of the
emu, gave them a picturesque as well as workmanlike air. But their
leggings were dangerously dark, and scarcely as suited to sand or
morass--the ground was either one thing or the other--as the familiar
puttees. These useful articles had now been assumed by the Canadians
instead of their shrunken or loosely flapping duck trousers. The effect
was infinitely more dapper, becoming to the figure, and serviceable for
hard wear. The Queenslanders and Canadians at once fraternised, the
older arrivals making the new comers welcome by inviting them to drinks
and breakfast, and generally "showing them around." The bond of union
was cemented by the fact that the officer in command of the
Queenslanders, Colonel Ricardo, was an old Royal Canadian Artillery


New Year's Day was a great occasion for the Colonial troops. They had
been burning with impatience to come in touch with the enemy, and till
now no opportunity had been afforded for testing their prowess in the
field. At midday on the 31st of December a force under Colonel Pilcher
started off from Belmont. The force consisted of 200 Queenslanders,
commanded by Colonel Ricardo; 100 Canadians, Toronto Company, with two
guns; and a horse battery under Major de Rougemont; 30 Mounted Infantry
under Lieutenant Ryan (Munster Fusiliers); the New South Wales
Ambulance, under Surgeon-Major Dodds; and 200 Cornwall Light Infantry.
These left Belmont and proceeded westward. Twenty miles were covered
before sunset, and the force encamped at Cook's Farm. In this region, on
a string of kopjes, a Boer laager was reported to be, and this--it was
decided--must be removed.


Scale 9 miles = 1 inch.]

Colonel Pilcher's programme, however, was not divulged. Great caution
was preserved, as the country was swarming with native spies, and all
movements of the troops were watched and reported to the enemy. The
Colonel therefore very adroitly arranged that no person should have a
chance of reporting his movements, and caused a watch to be kept on all
the natives, and these during the night were shut in their huts to
prevent any from escaping and communicating the intention of the troops.
The vigilance was certainly well rewarded. At daybreak the force
steadily marched out, creating as little dust as possible, and took up a
position at a place some fifteen miles off, called Sunnyside. Here the
enemy's laager was reported to be situated. It was posted on two
connected kopjes to north and south, and towards these kopjes the troops
advanced. When within a distance of some four miles the troops halted.
Major de Rougemont with two guns under Lieutenant Atkinson, Captain
Barker with the Toronto Company of Canadians, and Lieutenants Ryan and
Smith with the Mounted Infantry were ordered in the direction of the
enemy's laager to the north; while Colonel Pilcher with Colonel Ricardo
and the Queenslanders, A Company under Captain Chaucer, and B Company
under Captain Pinnock, advanced from the south. Patrols were sent to the
east. All was done with great quietness and precision, and the Boer
tactics so closely imitated that the enemy were unconscious of the
arrival of the British till the troops were upon them. Major Rougemont's
force made use of all the existing cover, which luckily was sufficient
to screen both man and horse, and in a very short time had discovered
some excellent ground which gave on to the Boer position. The enemy's
laager was ensconced in a nest of trees, at the base of a range of
kopjes commanded by a convenient ridge. This ridge--reported by the
Mounted Infantry to be clear of the enemy--with great promptness was
practically seized and occupied before the Boers had sufficiently
gathered themselves together to contest the position. The guns were
advanced at a trot, and unlimbered within 1500 yards of the laager, into
which two shells were neatly plumped, with a stupendous detonation that
startled the whole surrounding neighbourhood. Up scrambled the Boers,
streaming and bounding along the sides of the kopje like stampeded
goats, and commencing to fire with all their might. Upon our guns and
gunners came a torrent of lead fierce and sustained. Two Maxims under
Captain Bell now prepared to give tongue from the right, and then the
Toronto Company was ordered to double into action. They leapt to the
word. With a gasp of relief they cried, "At last!" and were off. When
within 1000 yards of the position their rifles came into play. A
hurricane of bullets met the enemy's fire: met it, continued
fiercely--and finally subdued it.

While the guns under Lieutenant Atkinson were booming and banging, the
Mounted Infantry, ably led by Lieutenant Ryan, were working their way
along the right, and hunting the enemy from a concealed position among
the scrub. At midday Colonel Pilcher and the Queenslanders were steadily
nearing the position from three separate directions. They approached
under cover, cautious as tigers and nimble as cats, finally firing, and
returning the fire, but only when they caught glimpses of the enemy.
Then they blazed away to good purpose, and continued to approach nearer
and ever nearer, till the enemy, in view of the persistent and deadly
advance, shrank from his ground, and sulkily retired. The dexterity of
the Queenslanders was remarkable; they stalked the enemy as a sportsman
would stalk a deer, criticising their own fire and the fire of the foe
with workmanlike coolness and interest. The success of these tactics was
complete. The laager was captured, and with it forty ill-kempt, surly
prisoners. Lieutenant Adie, who was with a patrol of four men, came
suddenly on a number of the enemy, and was wounded in two places, but he
was saved and carried off by two plucky fellows, Butler and Rose, who
came to his rescue. The latter was wounded, and his horse was killed.
Another dashing Queenslander, Victor Jones, was shot through the heart,
and Macleod, an equally brave comrade, after many lucky escapes, while
advancing with Colonel Pilcher's force, was shot through the spine.
While these heroic and tragic doings were taking place, General
Babington with a mounted force had been working hard, his operations
having been arranged for the purpose of co-operating with Colonel
Pilcher, and distracting the enemy's attention from the north. These
manoeuvres had the desired effect, and the day's work, apart from its
pathetic side, was accounted a glorious success. So cleverly had the
proceedings been contrived, and so ingeniously were the orders
interpreted by one and all, that the Boers were completely nonplussed.
There was a hurried stampede, and the Federals bolted, leaving their
laager with all its luxuries, its boiling soup, its gin and water
bottles, &c., at the mercy of the invaders.


Drawing by H. C. Seppings Wright from Sketch by Fred. Villiers.]

A vivid description of the Boer camp was given by Mr. Frederick Hamilton
of the _Toronto Globe_, who accompanied the Canadians.

     "Fourteen ancient tents, their blankets, kettles, and camp
     utensils, tossed about in wild confusion. Three long waggons of
     the type in which the voortrekkers voyaged the veldt, a team of
     a dozen magnificent oxen, a big water-cart which we eyed
     greedily, a Kaffir wattled hut, its floor piled high with odds
     and ends of clothing and valuables, its doorway marked by a
     shell-smash; the rocky kopje-side behind, a flat plain dotted
     with shaggy, bushlike trees in front--such was the Boer laager.
     Prisoners came from here and there, over a score from the
     kopje-top, more from this corner and that of the field, and
     were taken to the hut. Within it and around its door they
     squatted, a silent downcast crew; what a mess they had made of
     their affairs! Perhaps they were not so despondent as we
     thought, for one man as he sat in the guarded group pointed out
     a rifle which one of the victors was carrying, and claimed it
     as his own--a piece of cheek which staggered our men. The
     prisoners claimed only part of our attention; with eager
     curiosity the camp was ransacked. At last we had our hands upon
     these Boers: what manner of men were they, and how did they
     live? Poorly enough, I should say; the camp must have been
     densely crowded with the motley gathering, and we could see the
     odd admixture of practical barbarism with occasional contact
     with civilisation, as when good suits of clothes lay side by
     side with repulsive-looking strips of biltong. We felt that all
     this was ours, ours by right of battle, ours by virtue of
     victory. Perhaps we were wrong, perhaps the confiscated
     property of rebels should fall to the Crown, but as long as men
     go to war so long will victors walk through the camp of the
     vanquished with just that feeling swelling through their veins.
     Something else lay heavy upon us--thirst. It raged through us.
     The yellow pool where the veldt cut into the kopje face filled
     our water-bottles, and we drank and drank. The foul dregs of
     the Boers' water-cart were drained with joy. As the sun was
     setting our own water-cart with more wholesome water drove up,
     and we drank and drank again. As our fires were lighted, what
     receptacles could be found were filled and the muddy fluid
     boiled. Our transport waggons were miles away, and for tea or
     coffee we were dependent on what we found in the Boer waggons.
     I remember drinking a cup of hot water and finding it most
     refreshing. Food was foraged. One section of our men found a
     sheep's carcass hanging up under a tree, slaughtered by the
     rebels before our shell changed the tenor of their day. Some
     had hardtack or army rations in their haversacks. Here and
     there they picked up enough to make up a meal, not especially
     plentiful, and very scrappy, but satisfying. Indeed a most
     peculiar thing about the whole affair was the great amount
     of work we managed to do on a very small amount of food. The
     shadows of the evening were falling as we finished our meal,
     sent out the necessary pickets, and prepared for rest."

Later came the death of poor Macleod the Queenslander, whose wound had
been mortal. As the Queenslanders had early moved on to Rooi Pan (a
farmhouse across the veldt where rebels were suspected to be in hiding),
the Canadians took upon themselves the duty of conducting the sad
ceremonies of burial. A grave was dug and a New Testament found. Then
the Canadians slowly bore to its last resting-place the remains of the
heroic young Colonial who had lost his life in the service of the mother
country. Major Bayly, the Staff Officer of the expedition, read a few
selections from Corinthians over the body, after which it was consigned
to the heart of the veldt. A rude cross bearing his name and corps was
placed to mark the spot, and written thereon was also the intimation
that it was "Erected by his Queensland and Canadian comrades." The noble
young fellow Victor Jones secured less formal burial, though his loss
was as deeply regretted. On the following day two of his comrades from
Rooi Pan started off in search of his body, and having found it, buried
it without ceremony or rite, but with the keenest feelings of sorrow.

On this day, the 2nd of January, the work of destruction of Boer effects
was begun. Soon after dawn a huge bonfire was made under such waggons
and ammunition of the foe as could not be utilised, and as the troops
marched out they were saluted by the appalling uproar of the exploding
cartridges. The procession, as it moved on its way to Rooi Pan, a
distance of some four or six miles, presented a somewhat mediæval aspect
in spite of symbols of modernity--magazine rifles and machine guns. In
front was the wide expanse of grassy veldt; behind, the curling blue
smoke from the burning wreckage of the camp. Along the road came the
heavy springless waggons piled high with booty, their negro drivers
flourishing their long whips and repeating their vociferous bark of
"Eigh" to encourage the small, contumacious mules. With them marched the
bronzed, picturesque-looking army with its train of captives in the
rear, an unkempt, dilapidated crew--a strange contrast to the lively and
robust Canadians, who, rejoiced at their yesterday's feat, were singing
as they tramped along. Very curious was it to hear, instead of the
familiar British airs our soldiers love, the Niagara camp-song with its
Hallelujah chorus, and the popular "The Maple Leaf" proceeding from the
brawny throats of these brother soldiers of the Queen. Their joy and
their triumph was complete, and with a good night's rest and the
beautiful morning air to refresh them, their spirits were effervescent
in the extreme.

At Rooi Pan there was a halt for half-an-hour, during which Colonel
Pilcher took the opportunity to address his force, and convey to them
congratulations on the recent fight which had been forwarded by General
Wood, commanding at the Orange River. Water-bottles were then filled
from the clear pond in the farm of one of the prisoners, and soon, the
sun growing momentarily hotter, the party advanced. This time their
route lay over dust ankle-deep in places, dust which rose up in clouds
and came down into eyes and ears and throats, and settled itself in hot
cakes and rings on hair and beards and necks. But presently, after a few
miles, the state of things was improved. Government roads stretched a
smooth highway in front, and kopjes--the dangerous kopjes that afforded
such comfortable hiding-places for the wily foe--grew fewer and farther
between. There was now comparative comfort, for there was little fear of
encounter with the enemy in the open.

The journey was continued without event. There was no sign of
opposition, and about three o'clock in the afternoon, as they neared
their destination, a message came in, "Nothing to be seen in Douglas but
Union Jacks and red ensigns." This was a fact, and Colonel Pilcher and
his troops very soon occupied the town. Never was there a more
enthusiastic demonstration: the loyal inhabitants cheered to the echo;
some almost wept at the arrival of their deliverers.

This town is situated below the junction of the Modder and Vaal Rivers,
and is of some importance. Here the long-suffering loyalists had
remained, ever since the commencement of hostilities, in anxious
expectation, awaiting the arrival of the British troops. Naturally the
frenzy of their delight knew no bounds, particularly when it was found
how completely the rebels had dispersed. Fourteen tents, three waggons,
an immense store of rifles and ammunition, saddles, forage, equipment,
and many incriminating letters were seized. On some of the envelopes
were stamped "On Her Majesty's Service," showing that these had been
used by the newly appointed Landrost of Douglas in the absence of an
official Free State superscription.

The joy of the loyalists was of short duration. In the afternoon Colonel
Pilcher broke to them the terrible news. He stated that, for military
reasons, his force would be obliged to leave on the morrow.
Consternation prevailed. The leading members of the community explained
that, if deserted, their lives would not be worth a moment's purchase.
It was impossible to remain where they were and await the return of the
enemy, consequently Colonel Pilcher ordered all who wished to leave to
be ready by six the next morning, and promised them safe conduct to
Belmont. Thereupon a scene of great animation ensued. An immense exodus
was actively arranged. Vehicles of all kinds, sizes, and shapes were got
ready, while the women and babies--such as overflowed the transport
accommodation--were taken charge of by the gallant Canadians. These
marched forth singing, to keep up the spirits of the community, and
finally, when the wearisome end of the journey seemed never to be
reached, some of the noble fellows, although worn out with a long spell
of active work, and suffering from sore feet, carried the babies, and
thus relieved the women of the fatigue of the march. The cortège left
Douglas at eight o'clock on the morning of the 3rd, and reached Dover
Farm at two o'clock. With the refugees were sent forward the captured
rebels. These before their departure were paraded, and Colonel Pilcher
enjoined those who were Free Staters or Transvaalers to step from the
ranks, as they would be treated as prisoners of war. The rebels who had
taken up arms against their Queen would suffer different treatment. No
one stepped forward, and it was evident that either there were no Boers
among the number, or they mistrusted the assurances of Colonel Pilcher,
and preferred to meet their fate _en bloc_. (They were subsequently sent
to the Cape for trial.) Colonel Pilcher's "slim" arrangement for the
confusing of the natives prior to making his advance was eminently
successful, for the Boers, so a prisoner said, considered themselves
deeply aggrieved that they had not received information regarding the
proposed movements. On the 5th Colonel Pilcher's column arrived at
Belmont. The night's march from Cook's Farm was splendidly managed. News
had reached him to the effect that some 600 or 800 Boers intended to
effect a junction, and attack the column. At eight o'clock, therefore,
the whole force started quietly forth, stealing off in the jetty
obscurity like a band of conspirators. A halt was made during the night
to allow the troops a short spell of repose: after this they continued
their journey without mishap. Two companies of Canadians were employed
to hold a pass some six miles off Belmont, in order to prevent the
incoming force being cut off by the enemy.

So ended, happily, a most successful raid. The Colonial troops had more
than acted up to the expectation of every one; and, though it was
somewhat disappointing that Douglas had to be instantly evacuated, the
expedition had helped to demonstrate to the loyalists that the British
could and would come to their aid, and that faith in the end has its

The following table of their march is interesting as showing the wear
and tear to which the troops were subjected:--

  Sunday, December 31, Belmont to Thornhill               22
  Monday, January 1, Thornhill to Sunnyside (action)      13
  Tuesday, January 2, Sunnyside to Rooi Pan, 6 miles;
      Rooi Pan to Douglas, 15 miles                       21
  Wednesday, January 3, Douglas to Thornhill              24
  Thursday night, January 4, Thornhill to Richmond        10
  Friday, January 5, Richmond to Belmont                  12
      Total                                              102

This smart little military exploit was appreciated throughout the globe.
Telegrams poured in from all parts of the Queen's dominions
congratulating Colonel Pilcher and the Colonials on the excellent work
they had accomplished. The following from G.O.C., Cape Town, read:--

     "Congratulate Colonel Pilcher on brilliant exploit, which will
     have far-reaching effect."

From Military Secretary, Government House:--

     "Please send following message to Colonial troops employed in
     action at Sunnyside: 'His Excellency Sir Alfred Milner sends
     you his heartiest congratulations on your success, and hopes it
     is only the forerunner of many more. While regretting the loss
     of some of your brave comrades, he feels sure that your friends
     in the colonies over the sea will feel proud of the success of
     their representatives, as he himself does.'"

From Sir Redvers Buller the following was received:--

     "General Buller desires that his congratulations be conveyed to
     the Colonial troops on their action at Sunnyside."

From the Governor, Queensland, came:--

     "Request you will be good enough to convey to Queensland
     Mounted Infantry hearty congratulations on gallant conduct at
     Sunnyside and sympathy in loss of life. Second contingent
     embarks for South Africa next week."


More useful work, which had a direct bearing on the events of the
future, took place during Colonel Pilcher's three weeks' stay at
Belmont. Soon after the Douglas expedition another excursion was
devised. More Canadians were to be employed. The Queenslanders were to
send such men as they could mount, their animals being, many of them,
still _hors de combat_ from the sea trip, and the guns and infantry were
to go as a matter of course. A dive into the enemy's country was
projected--one of the first deliberate incursions upon the Southern
Dutch Republic. These incursions were of immense value, and served in
reality as pilotage for the gigantic military engine that was shortly to
sweep the way from the Cape to Bloemfontein.

At six o'clock in the morning of Tuesday, January 9, the column started.
It was composed as follows:--

     Royal Horse Artillery--Two guns, 45 men, 51 horses. Queensland
     Mounted Infantry--Two Maxims, 116 men, 106 horses. Royal
     Munster Fusiliers Mounted Infantry--15 men, 15 horses. Royal
     Canadian Regiment--Two Maxims, 293 men, 2 horses. New South
     Wales Army Medical Corps--Two ambulances, 18 men, 14 horses.
     Total--487 men, 188 horses.

The officers who were engaged in the flying column were:--

     Staff--Lieut.-Col. T. D. Pilcher, P.S.C., in command; Major M.
     Dobell, R.C.R.I., Staff Officer; Major S. J. A. Denison,
     R.C.R.I., Quartermaster; Major Brown, Q.M.I., Transport
     Officer; Lieut. Lafferty, R.C.R.I., Transport Officer; Lieut.
     J. H. C. Ogilvy, in charge of R.C.R.I. machine gun section;
     Capt. Pelham, Q.M.I., in charge of Queensland machine gun
     section; Lieut. A. C. Caldwell, R.C.R.I., attached; Lieut. C.
     W. M'Lean, R.C.R.I., attached; Rev. J. M. Almond, chaplain.
     Royal Horse Artillery--Major de Rougemont and Lieut. Atkinson.
     Queensland Mounted Infantry--Lieut.-Col. Ricardo, Capt.
     Chauvel, Capt. Pinnock, Lieut. Bailey, Lieut. Glascow. R.M.F.
     Mounted Infantry--Capt. Bowen, Lieut. Tyrrell. Royal Canadian
     Regiment--Lieut.-Col. Pelletier. A Company--Capt. Arnold,
     Lieut. Hodgins, Lieut. Blanchard. B Company--Lieut. Ross,
     Lieut. J. C. Mason, Lieut. S. P. Layborn. H Company
     (half-company)--Lieut. Burstall, Lieut. Willis. New South Wales
     Army Medical Corps--Capt. Roth, Lieut. Martin; Capt. Dods,
     Queensland, attached. (Lieut.-Col. Patterson of Queensland also
     went with the force as a spectator.)

The troops marched out by the road skirting the kopje so gallantly
stormed by the Guards, and moved over the veldt some few miles to the
south-east, towards the Free State. After passing Riet Pan a wide left
wheel was made, and the force struck north-east to eastwards, towards
the Free State. Here the dull purple kopjes wound along in chains,
dotted here and there with small plains some three or four miles in
depth and width. At Blaauwbosch Pan the border was reached--the border
between Griqualand West and the Southern Republic. A halt was called.
The troops gathered on a circular plain fringed with high kopjes. The
road, fenced across with wire, ran through the plain, and close by was a
small pan or pool, which glittered like diamonds when shaken by the
thunder showers; for the sky, always overcast and threatening, now and
then burst into tears. Though these tears had the effect of April
showers they were mightily drenching, and the troops, in saturated
overcoats like tepid sponges, pursued their march somewhat
uncomfortably. In the place above described Col. Pelletier, with two
companies of the Canadians, was left with orders to remain till three in
the afternoon, in readiness, if occasion demanded, to reinforce Colonel
Pilcher. Failing a message, he was to return to camp. The flying column
proceeded, travelling north till parallel with Enslin, where Gordons and
Australians were encamped, and from whence the Victorian Mounted
Infantry were skirmishing. Great caution had to be observed, as it was
difficult, particularly with so many Colonials about in their soft felt
hats, to discern friend from foe. Scares, as may be imagined, were many.
One of these took place when advancing horsemen were seen skimming the
distance. These dismounted and knelt. They meant business. The
excitement was intense. Signallers instantly fluttered flags, and
presently, after some moments of suspense, the troops were reassured. It
was a squadron of the 9th Lancers, who had come from Modder River
reconnoitring, keeping the Riet between them and the Jacobsdal position.
But we are anticipating.


(Photo by Gregory & Co., London.)]

On the first day of their march, the force enjoyed unlooked-for
hospitality. About five miles east of the border was the house of one
Commandant Lubbe, the commandant of Jacobsdal, a luminary of some
magnitude in the Free State. He may be described as a "man of
substance," to which his comfortable dwelling and flourishing
surroundings testified. Upon this pastoral domain the troops, somewhat
famished and fatigued, advanced. Their arrival, for the Boers, was most
ill-timed and unexpected. At that very moment dinner for some fifteen
persons was being spread, piping hot, on the festive board. Odours of
succulent fare pervaded the atmosphere, odours inviting--tantalising!
The portly Burghers were in the very act of setting to when they were
warned of the approach of British scouts. A stampede followed. Departing
coat-tails, and, five minutes later, mounted dots racing away to the
shelter of distant kopjes--that was all that our troops on arrival
beheld. But they saw something better than Boers. Their eyes lighted on
the goodly array of edibles, and, presto! the officers were seated.
Joyously they surrounded the well-equipped table, and demolished with
zest and considerable humour the repast which had been prepared for
their foes.

A couple of negro domestics were the sole persons left on the homestead.
The place was searched; ammunition was found, and dies for casting
bullets. These were promptly destroyed. Some live stock and various
other useful articles were seized, including three rifles left behind in
the flight of the Burghers. Presently there came a report that the enemy
were in hiding in the neighbourhood of some kopjes. A rush to action was
made. The Maxim gun section went to some kopjes flanking the house, the
Canadian guns went to a height on the east, the Queensland ones to a
height on the west. Lieutenant Willis took his section of H Company to
support the Queensland guns, while Lieutenant Burstall took his section,
with intrenching tools, to a ridge midway between farm and kopje, to
prepare a position. Clatter and clank went the horse artillery guns to a
coign of vantage on the right, whence they could spit at the enemy if
they should attempt to mount or surround the big kopje in that
direction, while the Queenslanders on the west commenced explorations
for the reported foe. Horror! Slouch-hatted horsemen were distinctly
visible--they were coming nearer and nearer--though evidences of their
own caution were visible. They were not going to be trapped. Our gallant
troops were as determined not to be surprised. Thus must the Kilkenny
cats have commenced overtures. Both parties were wide awake! Both
parties were sidling up! It was but a matter of moments, and they would
promptly spring at each other's throats!

Excitement was at a supreme pitch, when the good glasses of an officer
offered a revelation. The hostile hordes--the advancing horsemen--were
now plainly discernible. They proved to be not blood-thirsty Boers--not
an innocent crowd of ostriches that so often in the distance had been
mistaken for cavalry, but only a company of Victorian Mounted Rifles
from Enslin, from which place the advanced line was this time but some
dozen miles distant. It was a pleasant surprise. The scouts came in
contact, exchanged greetings, and the troops each went on their
respective way. Colonel Pilcher's force bivouacked at the farmhouse, and
the next morning, the 10th of January, saw them on their return journey
to Belmont. It was during this journey, as they wound homewards with
their captured prizes of oxen, that more horsemen were seen in the
distance--those who, as before said, were discovered to be the 9th
Lancers, on business already mentioned. The force reached camp about
noon. On the following day the sojourn of Colonel Pilcher in those
regions came to an end. He moved on to Modder River to command the
Mounted Infantry force at the front. His stay was fraught with much
benefit to the troops, as his energetic measures, smart manoeuvres,
and surprise drills brought the spirited Colonials to a high state of
alertness and proficiency.


General Methuen, as has been noted, was forced at last to fall back on
his base at the Modder River, since the Boers held their position in
great strength, and it became necessary to rest the men, free them from
tension, and save them from unnecessary sufferings due to the scarcity
of water. In addition to this, the Engineers were enabled to carry on
much necessary work. Railway communication was perfected, and the
permanent bridge was repaired, to provide against accident, which in
case of a flood might overtake the temporary one.

On the Boer left flank, from the extreme end of Majesfontein
south-eastwards to the Riet River, was comparatively open ground. Beyond
the broad expanse of bush which stretched for over a thousand yards was
a road leading to Jacobsdal, and farther on was flat country which
offered no cover, and appeared singularly free from traps or trenches.
Looking over this open ground, it seemed possible to turn the Boer flank
and cut off the enemy's communications with Jacobsdal, and possibly
threaten his line of retreat to the Free State.

Some one has called the Modder River the Hampton Court of Kimberley, and
perhaps it was fortunate that the troops found themselves forced to halt
in a locality which is one of the most picturesque in South Africa. The
surroundings were comforting after the desolation of Gras Pan--with
never a house to hint at humanity, and only the frowning darkness of
threatening kopjes to break the monotony of the view--and the primitive
prettiness of Honeynest Kloof, which boasts but a farm or two and a few
trees to give it life. From this point the country became greener, the
eye was relieved from the autumnal drabs and purples of the rocky hills,
and began to lean affectionately on the suggestion of moistness implied
by the expanse of verdure.

Across the river was the crowded railway station, choked with stores and
goods waggons, and the usual medley of camp kit. On one side
accoutrements, lances, swords, the steel of their scabbards glinting
through the crackled coats of kharki--odds and ends of uniform--telling
their tale of action--action--action--in all its phases. And close
beside them were other portions of baggage seemingly the same, but--oh!
how tragically different! Here were rifles and bayonets, broken,
battered, and blood-stained--all that was left of the heroic dead who
had acted their last drama at Majesfontein, and whose belongings, in an
inert mass, seemed to confess dumbly that they were "off duty" for


Photo by Heath, Plymouth.]

Christmas Day was an unpleasant memory--a tropical sun overhead, a
whirlwind of dust around. It is said that every man must eat a peck of
dirt in his life-time, and on this day the troops certainly ate their
quantum. Food and drink were ruined, and tempers into the bargain, for
the day was made into one long twilight misery by a hurricane of driving

The position of the Boers soon after this period grew somewhat
uncomfortable. Night attacks were threatened; indeed, Lord Methuen had
the Naval guns laid on to the Boer positions by day, with the order that
they were to be fired by night. And the order was obeyed with zest. The
Boers were on tenter-hooks. The shells burst, throwing gorgeous haloes
into the Majesfontein night. Of course, the compliment was returned.
Tier after tier of the Boer positions spitted and spouted and vomited
flame, and the night breezes, carrying the fracas on their wings,
brought it close, so close indeed, that an attack sounded as though
imminent. Still our outposts were silent. Discipline kept them "mum."
Still the Boers continued, and the rattle of their rifles directed at
nothing in particular, and everybody in general, wakened the echoes of
the hills.

There was nothing further to be done. Reinforcements had to be awaited
with annoying, almost humiliating patience. The Boers were stretched
from Jacobsdal on the east to a point miles away on the west of the
railway; they were intrenched horse-shoe fashion, with Majesfontein for
their most imposing stronghold. There was no means of outflanking them,
for in order to wheel to the west the force would need to march through
an arid and waterless desert. Had the march been ventured upon, the
position might not have bettered, as Lord Methuen, even supposing he had
succeeded in reaching Kimberley, would still have had before him the
bulk of the Boer commandoes, who would have been at liberty to cut off
his supplies. The "relief" of Kimberley without supplies would have been
the reverse of relief.

All the British could do was to struggle to hold their ground, and make
their proximity as uncomfortable as possible for the enemy. Routine went
on like clockwork, save that the Modder River clock had no works. It was
a child of Necessity! A broken steel rail suspended from a crossbeam was
struck by the sentry with the blunt head of an axe. The stupendous clang
proclaimed the hours all over the camp. The troops were not allowed too
much leisure, and ennui was not permitted to reach them; they dug
trenches, constructed breastworks, and generally improved the lines of
defence; indeed they worked with a will at anything that came to hand.
Some one, seeing them alight at a railway station, remarked: "They've
left all their frills behind them." This was truly the case. Mr. Atkins
was now above the desire for display. He was workmanly in the extreme,
and made himself a jack of all trades, alternately groom, labourer,
cook, porter, mule-driver, laundryman, and hero! To-day he was scouring,
rubbing, kharki-painting, and hoisting; to-morrow he was good-humouredly
playing the rôle of his own washerwoman by the river-side. One moment he
was pulling or coaxing or cudgelling obdurate mules, and apostrophising
them in language peculiarly his own; the next he was rushing gallantly
to the forefront to spend his heart's blood in the service of his Queen!

To General Wood must be given the credit of the first entry into the
enemy's country. On the 6th of January, with a force of all arms, he
occupied Zoutpansdrift, the place--situated north of the Orange River,
in Free State territory--where gallant Captain Bradshaw met his fate.
Communications between the banks of the river were maintained by means
of a pontoon bridge. This was an excellent piece of work, for by holding
the drift it was possible to control the progress of the Free Staters,
and avert sudden raids against the railway between Orange Station and De
Aar. A great deal of active though scarcely "showy" work was carried on
at this time, often under the most unfavourable conditions. For
instance, on the 14th of January, one of the most obnoxious and ever to
be remembered dust-storms burst over the place. It made life temporarily
into a bilious sea, a blinding, suffocating bath of yellow sand. Food
was ruined, to say nothing of temper. Clothes were covered, eyes and
throats were clogged, and the pores of the skin were caked with showers
of ochreous pepper, which made every one in camp miserable for a period
of quite seven hours!

Cavalry reconnaissances at this period were frequent. The troops, always
in peril of their lives, explored some twenty-five miles into the Orange
Free State, and found the country clear of the enemy with the exception
of patrols. The Victorian Mounted Rifles under Captain M'Leish did some
admirable scouting, and visited several farms, which they found had been
vacated in hot haste at their approach. The country was thoroughly
searched, the 9th and 12th Lancers under General Babington doing
valuable work. It was this party that came in touch with Colonel Pilcher
and the Queenslanders near Lubbe's Farm.

Our warriors became well versed in peculiarities of Boer homesteads. All
the Dutch farms had a brotherly likeness, and were usually found at a
sufficient distance from each other to carry out the Boer ideal that one
man should not breathe or see the smoke from his neighbour's chimney.
They commonly nestled under cover of some small kopje, and seemed as
though so planted for purposes of self-protection. Self-protection is
the first law of nature, and the Boer character has a great reverence
for first laws. In every farm was found a harmonium--on the Natal side
there were pianos--and many Bibles. Some of these were valuable, and
were old enough to arouse the covetous interest of the bibliophile. Most
probably they were heirlooms, and had belonged to the early trekkers,
who could thumb them out, text by text, when their capacity for other
reading was nil. These one-storeyed abodes were composed of sun-baked
bricks plastered over, and the flat roofs were lined within by ceilings
of deal. Simplicity, ignorance, bad taste, and uncleanliness reigned
everywhere. Indeed, it was a matter for wonder how close to
civilisation, yet how remote from it, the Dutchmen had contrived to
dwell. The cattle kraals and homestead were surrounded with
rudely-constructed walls of stone that in their ruggedness were not


(By permission of Messrs. Vickers Sons & Maxim, Limited.)]

To return to camp. The Boers, determining not to be accused of lack of
invention, adopted a new and ingenious dodge. In the distance from the
British outposts a Highlander was observed in the act of driving cattle.
As the proceeding was contrary to orders, the manoeuvres of the man
were carefully observed, and he was discovered to be a Boer masquerading
in Highland uniform. He was at once fired upon and he fell, but
succeeded in rising and making off before he could be captured.

On the 16th of January Lord Methuen made a demonstration against the
left of the Boer entrenchments at Majesfontein, for the purpose of
drawing off some of the force investing Colonel Kekewich's garrison. On
the following day, the 17th, a similar demonstration was made, but the
enemy was nothing if not "canny," and refused to be drawn. Then new
tactics were tried. On the 23rd there was quite a theatrical
bombardment. Night fell. The moon rose, empurpling the frowning kopjes
and filling the whole foreground with magnesian radiance. Then the balmy
breath of evening was ruffled with the uproar of British shells,
whizzing like rockets and bursting in the Boers' lair. For full
half-an-hour a brisk cannonade was maintained, neither party being in
view of each other, both being wrapped in the mysterious gloom of the
midnight shadows; but the echoes took up the weird tale of warring souls
and repeated it into the ear of the winds. Ordinarily, shelling morning
and evening was a matter of daily ritual. So many shells into the Boer
trenches, so much breakfast. An hour of brisk bombardment, four hours of
night's repose. Such might have been the printed programme.

On the 24th of January a tremendous reception was given to General
Hector Macdonald, who arrived in the best of health and spirits, and at
once took command of the Highland Brigade. With each of the officers he
conversed, and apprised them of a special message entrusted to him by
Lord Roberts, an attention which afforded immense satisfaction to all

The appointment of "Fighting Mac"--as he is popularly called--to the
command of the Highland Brigade was full of romantic interest. As a
sergeant in the Gordon Highlanders he was one of those who took part in
the disastrous fight at Majuba. He was unluckily taken prisoner, but so
great was his valour and dash that he even excited the admiration and
appreciation of the enemy. This was testified to this remarkable man in
a remarkable way. General Joubert, to show his esteem for his fine
qualities as a soldier, decided on restoring to him the sword which he
had necessarily surrendered. As the sword was not immediately
forthcoming, the Boer commander offered a reward for it, so that it
should be returned to the gallant fellow who had so nobly striven to
defend it. The picture of Colonel Macdonald and his Khedivial Brigade at
Omdurman was made ever present to us all through the vivid word-painting
of Mr. Steevens in his book "With Kitchener to Khartoum"; and now it is
easy to realise that the kilted warrior was at the moment the right man
in the right place. The men wanted him. Some were sick and sore and
fretted to get a chance to distinguish themselves in the field.
Tradition demanded it, and tradition was dear to them; strangely and
absurdly dear, some thought. Here were men exposed to the fierce sun in
what the layman calls "petticoats," suffering agonies in the muscles of
their scorched legs, yet enduring anything rather than part with the
external attributes of their warrior land. Though the kilt and the
sporran had to be extinguished under a hideous apron of kharki, and
though the heat and weight of wool pleats surmounted by cotton was
overwhelming, they preferred these sufferings to any change in their
gear. Suggestions were offered on every side, but it was certain that
nothing would overcome the conservative devotion of the Highlander for
the warlike insignia of his race. Yet their plight was sometimes
pitiable, particularly on occasions when, as a Scot described it, he had
to take a barbed wire entanglement at "the double" and emerged "a
bleeding mass, with his kilt hard a starboard, his kharki flap half left
turn, and his sporran dangling on the wire." Anyhow the men of the kilt
meant to hold on to all their traditions, and to take the taste of
Majesfontein out of their mouths. And they were truly glad of "Fighting
Mac" to help them.

Camp routine was occasionally varied and upset by locust swarms. These
descended persistently for a space of about three hours, making the
atmosphere dense, as though thick with snowflakes. It was a snowstorm in
mourning. Down came the creatures in myriads, gobbling every blade of
grass, every crumb, every edible fragment, and then, swiftly as they had
come, disappearing on the wings of the wind. They were useful at times,
however, for on one occasion, just as a party of troopers had almost
fallen into a trap laid by the enemy, the air became suddenly dark, and
presently a veil of locusts descended, entirely cutting off the British
from the Boers, and enabling the former to scuttle campwards in the
sudden obscurity. Not so convenient or comforting was the dust-storm,
with which the troops were becoming well acquainted. The dust-storm or
dust-spout is analogous to a waterspout. Columns of dust rise vertically
to a height of about 150 feet in the air and promptly descend with
alarming velocity, sweeping over the earth at the rate of five or six
miles an hour, and making life for the time being into a state of chaos.
But everything may be turned to account, and the British, being tired of
Boer tricks, utilised even the sand-storm with pleasing results. One of
the great difficulties of our gunners in shelling the enemy consisted in
the fact that the Boers, at the first sign of fire, rushed to bomb-proof
trenches. They employed lookout men to give a signal of warning. On the
29th of January, however, when the Naval gunners saw a storm brewing,
they bided their time. No sooner had the whirl descended than they set
to work and plumped lyddite with great success into the enemy's lines.

Coming events now began to cast their shadows before. Activities around
the railroad showed that the influence of Lord Kitchener was already at
work. The Royal Engineers commenced to build a strong and permanent
bridge across the Modder at its confluence with the Riet. This bridge
was constructed about fifteen feet above water, to insure it against the
flooding of the river during the rainy season in the Free State, and
enable the heaviest traffic to be carried to the scene of action. This
promised shortly to be situated in the direction of Jacobsdal. Here the
Boers kept a species of headquarters; and here, in the open plain
dividing them from Kopjesdam, they set fire to the veldt for two miles.
The conflagration began in the afternoon of Wednesday, the 31st of
January, and continued throughout the night, illuminating earth and sky
with weird reflections. The smoke of these fires served to act as a
screen for Boer movements, for at this time the hostile armies were
reinforced by troops from Barkly and Koodoesberg districts. The burning
of the grass might also have been arranged with the object of procuring
a black background against which the approach of winding, snake-like
columns of kharki could be more distinctly visible.

There was some excitement in camp as to the reported capture of Mr.
Jourdaan, the private secretary of Mr. Rhodes, who had endeavoured to
pass from the beleaguered town with messages from the "Colossus"
relating to the critical affairs of the moment.

On the 31st of January the British occupied Prieska unopposed. The Boers
had been in possession of the place in all about five days, and had
left, taking with them two prisoners, one of whom they subsequently
released. Commandants Olivier and Snyman were busy recruiting, and
finding themselves at a loss for combatants, were now forcing Dutchmen
all and sundry to serve with the Transvaal colours. "There is no such
thing as a loyal Dutchman," declared Olivier, and promptly commandeered
young and old on pain of fine or imprisonment.



Prices at Ladysmith had now gone up, but still those whose purses were
plethoric could treat themselves to a few luxuries. Jam, for instance,
was 3s. 6d. per lb., a possible price but a tantalising; while eggs were
sold at about half a guinea a dozen. Whisky fetched from £5 to £7 a
bottle, so there was little fear of dipsomania; and small packets of
cigarettes were worth 3s. 6d. a piece. On the 23rd of December there was
a grand auction. The Mayor at one time had instituted periodical
auctions for the sale of the town produce, but finding competition too
brisk, and fearing prices would never return to their normal level, the
plan had been dropped. However, in face of Christmas there was a great
sale, and the soldiers eagerly competed for bargains in the way of
chickens and ducks and etceteras of the meal. In default of Covent
Garden or Leadenhall, a long table at an angle of the main street was
set out with inviting fare tantalizing to all but the most stoical. One
Gordon was seen dragging off another in act of making an extravagant
bid--"Come awa, mon! we dinna want nae sour grapes." Poultry was
fetching from 8s. to 10s. a bird; while vegetables, in proportion, were
more costly still. Vegetable marrows were sold for 2s. 9d. each; and
carrots, homely and almost despised carrots, fetched over 3s. a bunch!
As a great luxury a turkey, a goose, a sucking-pig now and then appeared
on the Ladysmith board; but the ordinary domestic meal was composed of
trek beef and "goat" mutton. But even these were becoming beautifully

Christmas passed off well. Hope revived. News of Lord Methuen's earlier
victories refreshed the ears of the community, and a series of sports of
various kinds helped to impart to the day a suitable air of festivity.
Quantities of popular people set to work to make the day merry. Colonel
Dartnell, Major Karri Davies, Colonel Rhodes--the delight of all from
the Tommies to the babes--arranged a Christmas Tree. It was decorated
with gifts and mottoes, "Imperial to the core," and attended by children
of all sizes and degrees, even to a siege baby aged three days! But
behind the scene enteric fever and dysentery flourished, and languishing
in Intombi camp, two miles out, were pathetic remnants of the hale and
hearty regiments who had marched to the front in October. The other
gallant warriors were now nothing more than a mob of badly-dressed
scarecrows, lean and wizened, but, as one of them said, "good enough
food for powder." The horses, too, had grown thin and spiritless, their
anatomy was grievously obvious, and in their eyes--those erstwhile fiery
eyes--there seemed to dwell the melancholy foreboding of a strange
hereafter--the hereafter when sausages should be served out to the
hungry, and the poor equine devotees would have spent the last of
themselves to keep the British flag flying.

The message of the Queen warmed the hearts of the weary garrison. It was
pleasant to know that the Sovereign, in thought, lived in the shadows as
in the sunlight of Empire. Still, none but those experiencing it could
plumb the depths of monotony and wretchedness. It was enough to kill the
martial spirit of the most valorous, though none would own that
bellicosity was exuding little by little from their wasted finger-ends.
Far from it.

Sir George White maintained a series of night attacks or threats of
night attacks, which served to keep the Boers uncomfortably on the _qui
vive_, and these, as a necessary return, indulged in exasperating
bombardment during the day. On the 26th as many as 176 shells were flung
into the town before nine in the morning, independently of the action
carried on by the Maxim automatic guns. It was plain the Boers
considered that the inactivity of Christmas Day must be atoned for, and
therefore the guns were plied with additional ardour. On the 27th,
unfortunately, their murderous efforts were more than rewarded. A shell
was fired from the Creusot gun on Bulwana, which dropped into the
Devons' mess at Junction Hill. There, were congregated many of the
officers, and of these Lieutenant Dalziel and Lieutenant Price-Dent were
killed. Many others were wounded. Lieutenant Twist was injured in five
places, and Lieutenants Scafe, Kane, Field, Byrne (Inniskilling
Fusiliers), Tringham (Royal West Surrey), and Captain Lafone--who had
been previously wounded at Elandslaagte--were all more or less


Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

On the 28th the Naval Battery took on itself to avenge the loss of the
noble fellows who had fallen victims to the Bulwana gun, and directed at
it, or rather at its gunners, six well-intentioned shots from the 4.7
inch and 12-pounder, with the result that the voice of the aggressor was
temporarily silenced. There was some satisfaction in the feeling that
the gunners who had created such awful havoc and regret had met their
deserts. Both Lieutenant Dalziel and Lieutenant Price-Dent were
particularly promising young officers, having both seen service with Sir
William Lockhart on the Indian frontier, the latter having also served
in the Chitral Relief Force. A sentiment of gloom mingled with fury
disturbed the fortitude of the gallant party, and the only satisfaction
they enjoyed was calculation and speculation as to what form Sir Redvers
Buller's next move would take. "When will Buller come, and how?" such
were the questions which were repeated scores of times during the day.

The cessation of the fire from Bulwana was certainly cheering, and from
various sources it was discovered that the Boers were becoming nervous
in fear of night attacks and the destruction of more of their big guns.
Their state of mind was not evidenced entirely by their conduct, for two
plugged shells fired into the camp were found to contain a hunk of
plum-pudding and the compliments of the season.

Sickness, as we know, was rife, but fortunately there were many doctors
of repute in the town, members of the Army Medical Department, and also
independent practitioners. There was Dr. Jameson, whose ability was for
years testified at Kimberley, and also Dr. Davies of Johannesburg; these
assisted materially in giving advice, but unfortunately medicines were
now growing scarce, and milk, though some invalids could digest nothing
else, was not to be had. It is too pathetic to deal with the losses that
must have occurred through the lack of suitable nourishment for those
whose cases, not in themselves serious, only required care and

The bombardment on the first day of the New Year had tragic results. A
shell crashed into the house of Major Vallentine and killed a soldier
servant named Clydesdale. Later, another shell burst near the railway
station, where a cricket match between the railway officials and bridge
guards was taking place, and killed Captain Vallentine Todd. The unlucky
player was in the act of bowling, and dropped with the ball still in his


Our midnight surprises had not been without their lesson, and now the
Boers conceived the brilliant, the desperate idea of emulating British
example, and bringing Ladysmith to her knees by assault in the small
hours. Some three days before the event, a Kaffir deserter had warned
the besieged that an attack was contemplated; that it had been decided
among the Boers that a large force must be moved up from the
neighbourhood of Colenso, and that a final assault at arms must be
attempted. The warning was pooh-poohed. Kaffir tales were almost as
prevalent as flies! It was proverbial that night attacks to the Dutchman
were taboo--they were dangerous, they tried the nerves, and cold steel
glittered horribly in the moonlight. So Ladysmith slept. But as a matter
of fact the Kaffir was right. These arrangements had taken place, and
two storming parties from the Heidelberg and Harrismith commandoes were
promised immediate return to their homes if they should succeed in the
hazardous enterprise. Accordingly, on the evening of the 5th of January
they arranged a plan which on Saturday the 6th they almost carried out.
The main object of their attack, they decided, should be on the western
side of the perimeter, where a crescent-shaped, flat-topped eminence
divided them from the town. At the south point of this crescent was
placed Cæsar's Camp, bounded on the east by the Klip River, and at the
west point, a distance of some four miles, was a post known as Wagon
Hill. Close to this was a twin plateau called Wagon Hill West. Cæsar's
Camp was guarded by the Manchester Regiment, the 42nd Field Battery, and
a Naval 12½-pounder gun. Only half a battalion of 60th Rifles were on
Wagon Hill, while two squadrons of Imperial Light Horse were on Wagon
Hill West. Against these positions the enemy decided to make their
concentrated attack. The darksome steeps were almost perpendicular, and
afforded excellent cover for approach. In some respects they resembled
Majuba, where a man climbing up was almost invisible till he came face
to face with his quarry. Some three hundred warrior-farmers of the
Harrismith commando arranged secretly to gather in Fournier's Spruit, a
dry nullah which intersected the base of the position, and there wait
till the gloom of the small hours should give them the chance they were
expecting. Their plan was to divide in two columns. The one, under the
Harrismith Commandant, De Villiers, was to attack the steeps of Wagon
Hill West, while the other, in concert, was to crawl to the nek or slope
which united that hill with Wagon Hill proper, and thus cut off the
former hill from the rest of the camps. In this way, should the plan
succeed, they hoped to make the southern peak of the hill, Cæsar's Camp,
untenable. Accordingly, divesting themselves of shoes, they started off,
and under cover of darkness, like stealthily slinking panthers,
approached, from different points, the British lines. It so happened
that a Hotchkiss gun and some Naval guns were being placed in position
on the top of Wagon Hill West. Possibly these guns may have tempted the
enemy. They would be useful, they thought, to capture and turn on camp
or town. All day and all night the Royal Engineers and Bluejackets had
been labouring to get the weapons into position, and at this hour the
party were taking a "breather" after their long and arduous efforts.
With them, to cover their operations, were the King's Royal Rifles and
the Gordon Highlanders, who occupied a post on the front and flank. The
fatigue party were resting, as before stated. Suddenly, in the stillness
of the night, a curious and unusual sound was heard. The velvety sound
of a muffled footfall. A crumbling as of broken earth. Ears pricked up.
The sentry at once cried out, "Who goes there?" "Friend," was answered,
and the next moment the sentry dropped dead!

Curiously enough, while the beforesaid plan of attack was in course of
being enacted, Lieutenant Mathias was visiting his posts. In the
obscurity he all at once found himself confronted by Boers on every
side. With amazing presence of mind he faced about, and seeing that the
Dutchmen mistook him for one of themselves, acted as if he also were
assaulting the hill. When near enough, however, he made a rush--a
desperate rush--to warn the pickets of their danger. But he was too
late. Two men were shot dead, whilst Lieutenant Mathias and a third
trooper were wounded. There was no help at hand, and before assistance
could be summoned, the enemy were already sweeping the hill. But the
sound of the first shots had given the alarm.

Instantly all was flurry and confusion. Men that a moment before had
been sleepily yawning after their heavy labours were racing hither and
thither, groping in the darkness in search of arms. Others however, who
were armed, forebore to fire, the felt hats of the foe being mistaken
for those of the Imperial Light Horsemen. With a desperate effort
Lieutenant Digby Jones gathered together his sappers. Hurried shots were
fired, hurried orders given, but nothing could efface the effects of the
sudden surprise. The Boers had gained the hill and driven the defenders
over the crest! This all in a darkness that might have been felt. Such
lanterns as there were had been overturned and extinguished in the
hustle of the stampeding Kaffirs, who had been assisting at the
arrangement of the gun, and who, at the first approach of the enemy, had
fled. Forks and flashes of flame shining from the nek between the twin
hills showed that the second column of the Dutch commando also was
attaining its object. The gun, which fortunately had not yet been
erected on the top of the hill, was instantly got to work under the
direction of Lieutenant Parker; rifles were seized, and an effort was
made in the obscurity to sweep the hill in the direction where the enemy
was supposed to be. But the Boers were completely enveloped in the
darkness of the night, and it was impossible to locate them; and the
Hotchkiss gun was drawn back within the sandguard which had hurriedly
been thrown up, only just in time. The Boers were now almost upon it.
All the available men about Wagon Hill had instantly rushed to the
rescue, and the Imperial Light Horse, some King's Royal Rifles, and a
few Gordon Highlanders were soon in the thick of the fray. The
Highlanders, taking their place round the crest, fired, as hard as
rifles would let them, down the slope. Some fierce fighting followed.
Before the Boers could get farther up, the Imperial Light Horse with
their wonted gallantry engaged them, and sent the invaders
helter-skelter down hill into the mysterious mists of the dawn. But
this was but for a moment--it was merely the commencement of affairs.

The whole garrison got under arms, not only the military, but every
available man taking up some weapon to assist in withstanding the
onslaught. It was felt to be a desperate situation, desperate for both
sides, for the enemy knew that something must be done, and that quickly,
to prevent the pending arrival of relief by Sir Redvers Buller, while
the garrison, in face of reduced rations, disease, dysentery, and
decreasing ammunition, was aware that it was a case of now or never. The
alarm once given, Colonel Hamilton from the west had sent for
reinforcements with amazing rapidity, and up came two and a half
companies of Gordon Highlanders from the base of Cæsar's Camp, while one
company under Captain the Hon. R. T. Carnegie started to support the
Manchester pickets on Cæsar's Camp, and a company and a half went to
Wagon Hill. It was while the Gordons were marching up and crossing the
bridge of the Klip River that they met with their first mishap. Colonel
Dick Cunyngham, only just recovered from his wound at Elandslaagte, was
struck by a chance bullet and fell mortally wounded. Major Scott then
took the command. Presently came the Rifle Brigade and half a battalion
of the first 60th to the rescue, while the 21st Field Battery hurried to
cover the western approaches to Wagon Hill, and the 53rd Battery took up
a position to guard the most southern point of Cæsar's Camp. But all
this movement was not accomplished till much carnage had been wrought.
As already mentioned, the Boers had nearly achieved their object and cut
off Wagon Hill West from Wagon Hill proper. By dawn they were straggling
on the plateau connecting the two hills, merely checked in their further
advance on Wagon Hill by the remnant of the Light Horse. Firing at this
time was so terrific and at such close range that it was impossible to
move from cover and live. Bullets literally buzzed like bees in the
serene morning air. On one side were the Boers making for the second
hill, on the other were the British struggling to ward them off.
Meanwhile, trickling along through the Fournier's Spruit were arriving
more desperate farmers, more picked men of skilled marksmanship and
deadly purpose. At this time reinforcements also arrived for the brave
little band who were so gallantly resisting the Dutchmen. But even the
additional numbers were insufficient, it was impossible to cope with the
marvellous marksmanship of the advancing horde. They came ever nearer
and nearer, firing thick and fast--and with explosive bullets. The
Colonel, two Majors, and four other officers of the Light Horse
dropped--the enemy seized the position--and from thence it was
impossible to dislodge them! To do this it would have been necessary to
rush through some sixty yards of what seemed hell-fire--a perfect
avalanche of death. Major Mackworth made the dashing effort, but in
the very act he was stricken down, and most of the gallant fellows of
the 60th Rifles who accompanied him. Another officer, Lieutenant Tod,
pluckily attempted the same hazardous exploit. Twelve noble fellows
followed him. Six were hit, and the valiant young leader dropped dead
before he had moved three yards from cover. Colonel Codrington (11th
Hussars), who was commanding a squadron of the Imperial Light Horse,
made a rush forward to ascertain if it were possible to get cover for
his men, but before he had gone thirty yards, he too shared the fate of
the other officers. These experiences were sufficient. It was decided
that the best plan would be to wait under cover till dusk, when the
bayonet might be made to supersede the rifle.

[Illustration: H.M.S. "POWERFUL."

Photo by Symonds, Portsmouth.]

While all this was taking place on Wagon Hill, a terrific drama was
being enacted at Cæsar's Camp; and exciting assaults, defeats, and
re-assaults were following each other on Wagon Hill West. Soon after
dawn, the 52nd Field Battery, under Major Abdy, commenced to shell the
slopes below Cæsar's Camp, and keep the enemy from ascending in that
direction. The operation was one fraught with extreme difficulty, as the
shells were forced to travel over the heads of our own men in order to
effect a lodgment at the desired spot. But the work of the gunners was
admirable, and the shells burst with a precision that wrought awful
destruction on the enemy. The whole of the eastern slopes of the hill
were covered with dead Dutchmen lying amidst fragments of steel and iron
in the blood-clotted grass. The scene around Ladysmith at this time was
appalling. Away in the direction of Wagon Hill, fiercely every inch of
ground was being contested, and here the Naval guns and artillery were
bellowing and roaring and sending their deadly messages all along the
ridge of Cæsar's Camp, driving off the enemy, who came back again and
again. There was a hard tussle, particularly for the Gordons and the
Rifle Brigade. Their lives hung by a thread. The Boers were inflamed
with either hope or desperation, and, contrary to custom, advanced to
death and destruction with dogged and, one may say, admirable pluck. Day
broke and grew to its zenith, and still the fighting raged; still the
guns roared and snorted; still the dust and dirt flew to the skies,
coming down again to stop the mouths of gasping, dying men, and blind
the eyes of those who, blood-stained and sweltering, were yet selling
their lives at the dearest price that could be asked.

Just as the fire was slackening, possibly from sheer fatigue on both
sides, the heavily charged thunder-clouds burst over the position, and a
terrific downpour of hail and rain scourged the contesting forces and
flooded the trenches. The Boers at this time had been driven to a corner
like wolves at bay, and could not emerge without running the gantlet of
a tremendous fire from the Ladysmith guns. Wet to the skin, the ground
one vast meadow of slush, the combatants still held on with grim
tenacity, each side watching lynx-eyed, each being now almost mad with
an insatiable and ferocious desire for victory.

The storm continued and grew. Instead, as imagined, of relinquishing the
fight, the Boers took courage from the tempest. The tornado from heaven
only served to increase the tornado below! It seemed to suit the stormy
state of human passions, to stimulate rather than subdue. Under cover of
the thunder and the swirl of the elements the Federals made one
desperate onward rush, but the furious fire which met them from
Volunteers and British Infantry hurled them back and sent them spinning
in heaps or rushing with howls down the hill. The 53rd Battery swept the
bush country with a storm of shrapnel, and away to cover they went, and
with them their reinforcements, who had been hiding in the neighbouring
nullahs, waiting for the great, the final hour of triumph.

So much for Cæsar's Camp. On Wagon Hill before noon the Devons, with
their gallant commander, had come to the forefront, Colonel Park again
leading them to renewed success. As we know, the Boers were already on
the hill, and the Gordons, who had lost their officers, were falling
back when Major Milner Wallnutt rallied them. The enemy were soon
removed from the emplacement which they held; but they rushed towards
the west, and were there as dangerously fixed as ever. About two o'clock
the most horrible moment of the fight arrived. The hill that had been
the subject of such eager contest was again attacked, this time by a
small but desperate body of Dutchmen. De Villiers, their Commandant,
made a wild forward rush to secure the position. In an instant Major
Wallnutt and a sapper were shot dead, but the rest of the sappers
magnificently fronted the invaders with fixed bayonets. Presently the
brilliant youth, the hero of the Surprise Hill affair, Lieutenant Digby
Jones, R.E., led them forward, shot De Villiers, and dropped! A bullet
had sent him home to his last account. The hoary-headed Burghers were
stayed in their onward march by the splendid action of the noble boy,
who so many times had risked his young life in the service of his
country. At this juncture up came a dismounted squadron of the 18th
Hussars, and the situation was saved. The plateau was reoccupied.

by W. T. Maud.)]

But even then all was not over. The great, the supreme effort to
recapture Wagon Hill came at four o'clock in the afternoon. The
lightning flashed, the thunder rolled, the hail clattered and splashed,
the guns blazed, vomited, and growled, and the silky whistle of bullets
made a flute-like treble to the awful orchestra of sound. In the midst
of the uproar the Boers again obstinately advanced up the heights,
firing deliberately as they came. On their heads poured the wrath of the
British guns, and among their numbers rained the ceaseless bullets of
the Infantry; but they steadily moved up, doggedly determined once more
to reach the crest of the hill. They came nearer and ever nearer till,
on a sudden, they flung themselves upon the Devons, who, cheering
wildly, rushed into their midst and dispersed them. One short
moment--one wild, valiant rush, and then--then the trusty British
bayonets dripped with gore, and the Boers--all that were left of them, a
racing, disorganised rabble--surged madly down the hill!

The worst was over; the British conquerors rushed after the retreating
foe. The Devons, led by their intrepid commander, charged down the
slope, and this time, with a wild exultant yell--which echoed like a
tocsin among the caves and the boulders and the honeycombed banks of the
river--effectually drove the fleeing herd from the scene of carnage.

The lost ground was recovered, but the lost lives.... Yes; they, too,
live in the glorious annals of British history.

Captain Lafone, Lieutenants Field and Walker were among the slain; and
Lieutenant Masterton was wounded. The splendid charge cost the Devons
all the company officers--fifteen killed and forty wounded!


Drawing by W. T. Maud.]

It was a dreadful seventeen hours' work. Not a soul but had his duty,
and more than his duty, cut out for him. The jolly Jack Tars stood to
their guns from morn till night, blazing away with marvellous accuracy
and precision, while the gallant Natal Police, Natal Carabineers, and
Mounted Rifles were wedged between the Boers from Mount Bulwana and the
rest of their attacking party, and signally defeated all their efforts
to effect a junction. The Manchester Regiment, the Border Regiment, a
detachment of Mounted Rifles, the Gordon Highlanders, and the Rifle
Brigade defended the east of Cæsar's Camp like heroes, while on the
west, as we know, the Imperial Light Horse, more Gordon Highlanders, the
Devon Regiment, the King's Royal Rifles, and a Naval detachment did
glorious deeds. The Naval Brigade and the Natal Naval Volunteers
occupied a central position, while three batteries of the Field
Artillery were perched on a hill, and one remained on the ground below.
All these were called upon to act with might and main to avert the
pending calamity, to meet the stubborn, mulish persistency of the Boers
with its match in British bulldog obstinacy, and show the enemy that
with all the odds against them the besieged would never surrender.
Valiantly--almost miraculously--they held their own. They who for months
had been exposed to privation of all kinds, who had fought engagement
after engagement, who had eaten, drunk, and slept with the shadow of
death hanging over them, knowing that at any moment the caprice of fate
might make them victims to the incoming shells or threatened disease,
came out with enfeebled frames, but wills of iron, determined to conquer
or to die.

Elsewhere there had also been bloody doings. The enemy had even tried to
force their way into the town, and from here they were chased by the
gallantry and daring of the Gloucester, Leicester, and Liverpool
Regiments. The Boers were forced to retire, but even in their retirement
they showed characteristic "slimness," as they made their way in line
with the neutral camp at Intombi Spruit, and thus defied the British to
fire upon them. Nor was this the only example of their ingenious mode of
self-defence on that day. Their "slimness" was carried on on every
available opportunity. For instance, a party of the enemy, under cover
of darkness of the early morning, had got almost within touch of
Lieutenant Royston, who at once called on the Border Mounted Rifles to
fire. They were in the act of doing so when a voice rang out, "Don't
shoot. We are the Town Guard." No sooner, however, had the order to
"Cease fire" been heard than crack, crack, ping, ping, a volley was at
once poured on the Colonials. Several of their number dropped, but the
rest, exasperated beyond endurance at the hateful duplicity, charged
into the midst of the enemy, leaving scarce one of them to tell the

These tricks and dodges set aside, the Boers fought more pluckily than
was their wont, and they, cheered on by their dauntless Commandant, De
Villiers, came to such close quarters that Colonel Hamilton had recourse
to his revolver. Among the first of the gallant defenders to drop was
the glorious, heroic figure of Colonel Dick-Cunyngham.[3] He was seen
standing on the road-bridge in the act of leading his men, and was
struck by some sharp-shooting Boer. By seven o'clock in the morning
numbers of other splendid fellows had fallen, and the air of Ladysmith
was rent with the cries and groans of the dying, who thickly strewed the
ground. Lord Ava, orderly officer to Colonel Hamilton, fell mortally
injured,[4] and Colonel Edwards's wound was also severe.

Lieutenant Digby Jones (Royal Engineers) took a most heroic part, alas!
with tragic results. With his own hands he shot three of the enemy, and
clubbed a fourth, but for his gallant conduct, which doubtless would
have been rewarded with a V.C., he paid later on in the day with his
life. One gallant young trooper of the Imperial Light Horse had strange
experiences. He, with only a sergeant, was among the first to meet the
Boers. In the dusk of dawn the sergeant fell, and the trooper was
wounded. He recovered his senses sufficiently to try and creep to cover.
A shower of rain drenched him, then the sun blazed out mercilessly and
scorched him. Worn out, he decided he would stagger to the Devons and
get support, but, battered as he was, they failed to recognise him, and
arrested him as a spy!

Numerous deeds of amazing valour were performed, so many indeed that
they deserve a separate record without the limits of the narrative. But
the story of the heroic Bozeley cannot be omitted. During the action
there was a sergeant in command of one of the guns sitting rather
doubled up on the trail of his gun. A 4.7 shell took off his leg high up
on one side, and took the arm out of the socket, and he fell across the
trail of the gun, as they thought, an inanimate, speechless mass. But to
the astonishment of every man amongst them, a voice came from the mass
inciting them on to their duty, and saying: "Here, you men, roll me out
of the way, and go on working the gun."

The list of casualties was a grievously long one:--

     _Killed_:--5th Lancers--Second Lieutenant W. H. T. Hill. 23rd
     Corps Royal Engineers--Lieutenant R. J. T. Digby Jones, Second
     Lieutenant G. B. B. Dennis. 1st Devonshire Regiment--Captain W.
     B. Lafone, Lieutenant H. N. Field, Lieutenant C. E. M. Walker,
     1st Somerset Light Infantry (attached). Imperial Light
     Horse--Lieutenant William F. Adams, Lieutenant John Edward
     Pakeman. 1st King's Royal Rifle Corps--Brevet-Major F.
     Mackworth, 2nd Royal West Surrey Regiment (attached). 2nd
     King's Royal Rifle Corps--Major R. S. Dowen, Lieutenant M. M.
     Tod, 1st Cameronians (attached), Second Lieutenant F. H.
     Raikes. 2nd Gordon Highlanders--Major C. C. Miller Wallnutt.
     2nd Rifle Brigade--Second Lieutenant L. D. Hall.
     _Wounded_:--Staff--Captain Earl of Ava dangerously (died
     January 11). Intelligence Department--Local Captain H.
     Lees-Smith, slightly. 5th Lancers--Captain E. O. Wathen,
     slightly. Imperial Light Horse--Lieutenant-Colonel A. H. M.
     Edwards, 5th Dragoon Guards (attached), slightly, Major W.
     Karri Davis, slightly, Major D. E. Doveton, dangerously (died
     February 14), Lieutenant W. R. Codrington, 11th Hussars
     (attached), dangerously, Lieutenant J. Richardson, 11th Hussars
     (attached), severely, Lieutenant Douglas Campbell,
     dangerously, Lieutenant P. H. Normand, slightly. 1st Devonshire
     Regiment--Lieutenant J. Masterson, severely. 1st Manchester
     Regiment--Major A. E. Simpson, slightly, Captain A. W. Marden,
     slightly, Captain T. Menzies, slightly, Second Lieutenant E. N.
     Fisher, severely. 1st King's Royal Rifle Corps--Lieutenant R.
     McLachlan, severely. 2nd Gordon Highlanders--Lieutenant-Colonel
     W. Dick-Cunyngham, severely (died January 7), Captain Hon. R.
     Carnegie, severely, Lieutenant W. Macgregor, severely. 2nd
     Rifle Brigade--Brevet Major G. Thesiger, severely, Captain S.
     Mills, dangerously (died February 2), Captain R. Stephens,
     severely, Captain H. Biddulph, slightly, Second Lieutenant C.
     E. Harrison, slightly. 5th Lancashire Fusiliers--Lieutenant F.
     Barker, attached Army Service Corps. Natal Mounted
     Rifles--Captain A. Wales, slightly, Lieutenant H. W.
     Richardson, slightly. Volunteer Medical Staff, Lieutenant R. W.
     Hornebrook, slightly. Royal Army Medical Corps--Major C. G.
     Woods, slightly.

On the following day--Sunday--in the Anglican Church, a thanksgiving
service for victory was held, and all who were able attended the solemn
function. At the close of the simple yet impressive service General
White and his staff stood at the altar rails while the _Te Deum_ was
performed, and this was afterwards followed by the singing in thrilling
unison of the National Anthem. Round the Chief were the men who have
fought by his side through many days of sore trouble--each hour an
eternity in its experiences. The well-known forms of General Sir
Archibald Hunter and General Ian Hamilton were in evidence, but some,
alas! of that goodly company would never be seen again. In the Town Hall
close by, and in the adjacent hotels and dwellings, honest manly souls
were breathing their last, and others had already taken their flight to
where the great thanksgiving service of creation goes on for ever and

Among these last was a man who was the pride of his sex and an ornament
to his profession, Colonel Dick-Cunyngham, V.C. Wounded previously, from
his second blow he never rallied, and on this sad Sunday passed away.

In a few words the _Daily Telegraph_ summed up the surprising qualities
of the heroic figure that had so lamentably passed from society as from
the scene of war: "Lieutenant-Colonel Dick-Cunyngham was the beau-ideal
of a Highland officer, and there was not a man or woman in the world who
had a bad word to say about him. His heart was as true as steel, and his
manner was courtesy itself. In his kilt and bonnet, a moustache that was
so light that it was nearly white telling against the bronze of his
face, and with a mountaineer's figure, he was a man who caught every
artist's eye at once, and he has figured, without his knowledge, again
and again in pictures and illustrations. At Shirpur he first gave proof
of his great gallantry by rallying the men when for a moment they
wavered; at Majuba he was the officer who asked permission to charge.
Elandslaagte and Ladysmith are the last two names in his long record of


[3] Lieutenant-Colonel William Henry Dick-Cunyngham, V.C., of the Gordon
Highlanders, entered the army in 1872, and first saw service in the
Afghan War of 1878-80, and won his Victoria Cross in that campaign. He
was present on transport duty in the advance to Candahar and
Khelat-Ghilzie under Sir Donald Stewart; with the Thull Chotiali Force
under Major-General Biddulph; under Sir Frederick Roberts in the Koorum
Valley Field Force in the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, including the
engagement at Ali Kheyl; and he took part in the operations round Cabul
in December 1879, including the attack on the Sherpur Pass. He was with
the Maidan Expedition in 1880 as acting adjutant of a wing of the 92nd
Gordon Highlanders, including the engagement at Charasiah on April 25;
accompanied Sir Frederick Roberts in the famous march to Candahar, and
was present at the reconnaissance of the 31st of August, and at the
Battle of Candahar. He was awarded the V.C. "for the conspicuous
gallantry and coolness displayed by him on the 13th of December 1879 at
the attack on the Sherpur Pass, in Afghanistan, in having exposed himself
to the terrible fire of the enemy, and by his example and encouragement
rallied the men who, having been beaten back, were at the moment wavering
at the top of the hill." He served in the Boer War of 1881 as Adjutant of
the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, and was subsequently D.A.A.G. at Bengal. He
went out in the autumn of 1899 to Natal in command of the 2nd Battalion
of the Gordon Highlanders, and led them into action at the battle of
Elandslaagte. He fell early in the charge, wounded by a bullet in the
leg. While lying on the ground he called to his men to go on and leave
him, and then calmly took out and lit his pipe, waiting for hours before
being removed by the ambulance party. At the end of the year Sir George
White reported that Colonel Dick-Cunyngham had completely recovered. He
returned to active duty only to be again wounded--this time mortally. He
was uncle to Sir William Dick-Cunyngham, the present baronet, and fifth
son of the eighth baronet. Born in 1851, he married in 1883 Helen,
daughter of Mr. Samuel Wauchope, C.B.

[4] Archibald James Leofric Temple Blackwood, born in 1863, was educated
at Eton. He was a member of Methuen's Horse in Sir Charles Warren's
Bechuanaland Expedition. Then he served with the Carabineers, and
afterwards obtained a lieutenancy in the 17th Lancers. He accompanied the
Natal Force, in an unattached capacity, on the outbreak of hostilities.



At last, after a long period of suspense, it was possible for General
Buller's force to make an appreciable advance. The arrangements were set
on foot with the utmost secrecy, and on the 9th of January the second
forward movement of the troops from Frere and Chieveley may be said to
have commenced. General Barton and the Fusilier Brigade were deputed to
watch over Colenso, and with them were left some dummy cannon, cunningly
contrived by Jack Tar so as not to forewarn the Boers, and allow them to
congratulate themselves on the absence of lyddite from their vicinity.
This was not the first time that guns in effigy had been arranged to do
duty in our dealings with the Boers. During one of the sieges in the
year 1881, a "Quaker" cannon was erected in an inviting position on
purpose to draw the Boers' fire, with the result that they expended the
best part of a day and a vast amount of valuable ammunition on the
imperturbable object!


Photo by Wilson, Aberdeen.]

To appreciate the gigantic nature of the advance now made, we may refer
to a rough table showing the composition and strength of the forces in
Natal at this date under the command of Sir Redvers Buller.


     SECOND DIVISION.--(Lieutenant-General Sir C. F. Clery).--2nd
     (Hildyard's) Brigade--2nd East Surrey; 2nd West Yorks; 2nd
     Devons; 2nd West Surrey. 4th (Lyttelton's) Brigade--1st Rifle
     Brigade (included in Sir C. Warren's Division); 1st Durham
     Light Infantry; 3rd King's Royal Rifles; 2nd Scottish Rifles
     (Cameronians); Squadron 14th Hussars; 7th, 14th, and 66th Field
     Batteries, less 11 guns of 14th and 66th Batteries lost at

     THIRD DIVISION.--5th (Hart's) Brigade--1st Royal Inniskilling
     Fusiliers; 1st Connaught Rangers; 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers;
     1st Border. 6th (Barton's) Brigade--2nd Royal Fusiliers; 2nd
     Royal Scots Fusiliers; 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers; 2nd Royal
     Irish Fusiliers; Squadron 14th Hussars; 63rd, 64th, and 73rd
     Field Batteries.

     FIFTH DIVISION.--(Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren).--10th
     (Coke's) Brigade--2nd Dorset; 2nd Middlesex. 11th (Woodgate's)
     Brigade--2nd Royal Lancaster; 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers; 1st
     South Lancashire; 1st York and Lancaster; Squadron 6th
     Dragoons; 19th, 20th, and 28th Field Batteries. Brigades
     uncertain--2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers; 2nd Somerset Light
     Infantry. Corps Troops--61st Field Battery (Howitzers); Natal
     Battery 9-pounders; Six Naval 12-pounder quick-firers; 4th
     Mountain Battery; 4.7 Naval guns. Cavalry Brigade--1st Royal
     Dragoons; 13th Hussars. South African Colonial Troops--500
     Bethune's Mounted Infantry; Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry;
     Natal Carabineers; South African Light Horse (seven squadrons);
     Imperial Light Horse (squadron); Imperial Light Infantry; Natal

This table suggests a very imposing army, but it is necessary to
remember that only a part of any force assembled at the base is
available for actual attack. The lines of communication to Chieveley
alone were some 160 miles in length, and the necessary work of guarding
them, securing easy transport and supply, Royal Engineer work, and other
business connected with the munition of war, independent of sickness,
absorbed a large proportion of the troops. Military experts estimated
that the absolute fighting men were far fewer than supposed. The table
here shown represents some 30,000 men, but of these about 5000 were
engaged in miscellaneous work. Out of twenty-three battalions of
infantry it was necessary to use three or even more for the guarding of
the lines of communication. Of three regiments of cavalry, only a part
was available, while of the other arms, allowance had to be made for the
loss that had been sustained, and also for sickness. In this march, now
that the army had at last moved from the railway, the baggage column was
enormous. It made a procession of some miles in length as it lumbered
along primitive roads, through mud sometimes ankle-deep. It had been
decided to bring up all tents, sheep, coops, &c., and consequently the
various fatigue duties involved in the move were enormous.

When one considers the ordinary transport of a mere regiment, it is
possible to form some idea of the amazing cortège that had to follow the
movements of the commander. The transport of a regiment in South Africa,
roughly speaking, was composed of six ox-waggons, each drawn by sixteen
oxen in pairs tandem fashion (managed by Kaffir boys, one driving the
wheelers, another spurring the whole caravan by means of an enormous
whip and a profuse vocabulary); four ammunition carts, each drawn by six
mules; a water-cart, with pair of mules; a "Scotch" cart, and a strong
luggage-cart, drawn by four mules, for conveyance of tents, blankets,
and food, &c. A little mental multiplication will help us to picture the
long serpentine coil that was twisting its way from Colenso to the new
westerly point of attack.

The procession was forced to move slowly and cautiously through a
rugged, mountainous district, from which no supplies of any sort could
be drawn. The ox-waggon of the country had to be relied upon entirely
for heavy transport. This mode of conveyance is somewhat characteristic
of the progress of the tortoise; two miles an hour was the average rate
of advance, and at most the shambling cattle succeeded in covering about
twelve to fifteen miles a day. Of proper roads there were none. The
country was a vast swamp after heavy rain, or, in fine weather, a mass
of dry ruts and tracks, steep hills, difficult fords, and irritating
boulders. Over all this had to be coaxed or goaded the patient oxen, or,
still worse, the stubborn, obstinate mules which dragged the lighter
carts, and which, like ignorant persons, sometimes jibbed for sheer
jibbing's sake, true to the obstructionist instinct that belongs to the
intellectually stolid. When a team of these strong yet strange beasts
chooses to jib at a ford or in a pass, it takes some companies of
infantry to haul the waggon on to level ground, and then, and only then,
will they condescend to resume their labour. It may therefore be
imagined that the progress of troops--dependent as they were for food
and forage on the tempers of quadrupeds--was at this time slow and not
always sure! However, troops and baggage were gradually concentrated at
Springfield, while the Boers, who had spies everywhere, among boulders,
in dongas, and upon the formidable height of Spion Kop, hurried about
their preparations for the renewed and mighty tussle which was now

On the 10th of January Lord Dundonald, at the head of the Cavalry
Brigade, started at dawn from Frere Camp. A few miles outside they came
on targets erected by the Boers to represent a force advancing in
skirmishing order, which showed that the enemy had evidently been
indulging in rifle practice. The troops marched some twenty-four miles
in a north-westerly direction to Springfield, through the country, which
was one vast quagmire beset with the enemy, without mishap of any kind.
There were thrilling moments when the enemy were known to be ensconced
in neighbouring kopjes or hiding in the bush, but every precaution was
taken, the country having been previously searched by scouts, and the
whole movement so successfully carried out that the brigade at last was
able to occupy a strong position dominating Potgieter's Drift on the
Upper Tugela. Here at once extra defences were made, to ensure against
surprise from the enemy, who, finding the rivers in flood, had retired
to the north, and to enable Lord Dundonald's force to hold its ground,
and thus render safe the passage of the river.

Lord Dundonald's Brigade was accompanied by the Fifth Brigade under
General Hart, comprising the Dublin Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers,
the Border Regiment, and the Inniskilling Fusiliers. These, on hearing
that Springfield was unoccupied by the enemy, now took possession of the

The column then advanced to Mount Alice, one of the spurs of Swartz Kop
or Black Hill, a rocky eminence which faced the mountain fastnesses of
the foe. From this point the panorama was magnificent. In front the
Tugela looped and twisted in four big silvery bends, and great kopjes,
the scenes of future fights, rose on the other side. It was possible to
see the flat crowned summit of Spion Hill, which was held by the Boers
and covered with trenches, and another frowning eminence also held by
the enemy. A glimpse, too, might be had of the distant laager of the
Boers perched on the Tugela heights; but the Dutchmen being evidently
warned of the coming of the British troops, struck camp and silently
melted away. Still it was known that there were some of them within
almost a stone's throw, for on the arrival of Lord Dundonald's force at
Potgieter's Drift it was discovered they had been there the previous

The next morning, the 11th, the pontoon from the enemy's side of the
river was very cleverly captured, it may be said in the very teeth of
the foe, by Lieutenant Carlyle and six of his men of the South African
Horse. They leapt into the stream, which at that place was running
strong, swam to the Boer side, untied the pont, and succeeded in getting
it across for the use of the troops. The achievement was a brilliant
one, because during the whole proceedings the exact position of the
Boers was unknown. At any moment a volley might have been poured on the
adventurous party from which it would have been almost impossible to
escape. No sooner had they removed the fastenings of the pont and were
getting it across than shots were fired, one of them grazing Lieutenant
Carlyle, who, however, pursued his work to the end.

From the heights we had gained, operations were soon commenced both with
heliograph and telescope. Mount Bulwana and part of the outskirts of
Ladysmith were clearly visible. Fringed around them were Boer camps,
waggons, and cattle; while studded over the ground the enemy was seen,
some building forts, others digging trenches, and all working like bees
to protect the road from our advance. The Ladysmith chief signaller,
Captain Walker, rapidly came into communication with the signallers on
Swartz Kop, and Sir George White was informed of the satisfactory
progress of the advance so far.

The Naval guns were now comfortably ensconced on the western ridge of
the hill, ready to do duty in sweeping away the strong positions which
were being rapidly built up by the hostile hordes, who were fast
beginning to congregate from the neighbourhood of Colenso.

Meanwhile General Lyttelton's brigade had streamed in with howitzers,
and soon these, under cover of the guns of the Naval Brigade, were
across the river, and safely located on the other side. At the same time
was commenced the fortifying of Mount Alice. The men were all in great
fettle, working like Trojans, and perfectly regardless of fatigue. They
crossed the scudding river, steadying themselves by holding each other's
rifles, in a burning sun with the water up to their waists, and
advanced in skirmishing order over the boulder-strewn country, settling
themselves at last on some low kopjes to the north of the river and
facing the enemy's defences five miles north of the drift.

While these important events were taking place at Potgieter's Drift,
General Sir Charles Warren with the 5th Division was also moving forward
by a circuitous route. By another drift, called Trichardt's Drift, some
five miles farther west, the entire force eventually got across and took
up a position beyond the river, with the object of turning the position
of the enemy, who were posted on Spion Kop. This journey was not
achieved without coming in touch with the Boers. Some of them were
hidden in a wooded nook by a farmhouse, and from thence poured
rifle-shots on the advance guards. They even brought their cannon to
bear on the troops; but the _passage d'armes_ was of short duration, and
the enemy, warmed with fervent salutations from the Naval guns on the
hills, was soon in full flight across country. Then the engineers, with
celerity which looked to the uninitiated like a conjuring trick, in two
hours threw a pontoon bridge over the river, and the crossing was
successfully accomplished. The great object of Sir Charles Warren was
now, as stated, to turn the enemy's position. This, situated about five
miles off to his right front, was undoubtedly a strong one. It ran
laterally with the river, with Spion Kop for its centre, and all around
the enemy were actively engaged in intrenching themselves. The plan of
the combined movement was to make as hasty an attack as possible and
prevent the Dutchmen from strengthening their position and reinforcing
their right from their centre and left, and perhaps enable the Ladysmith
garrison to do its share in threatening the enemy's rear. For this
reason General Barton, with sufficient troops, had been left at Colenso
to hold the Boers' forces and prevent them from massing on the line of
Sir Redvers Buller's march. This latter officer with a small force
directed the combined operations from Spearman's Farm, a little to the
south of Mount Alice. The headquarters of himself and his staff were at
the picturesque homestead of one Martinius Pretorius, a personage who
thought it advisable not to remain to play the host.


Drawn by Enoch Ward from a Full Sketch by René Bull, War Artist with
General Buller.]

The troops, in spite of their trying march--the mud collected by
tremendous rains, the arduous business of getting across the river, the
grilling sun overhead, and the enemy possibly threatening from unknown
quarters--were bright, healthy, and hopeful. Immense enthusiasm was
occasioned in every camp when all were made acquainted with the brief
yet stirring words of Sir Redvers Buller: "_We are going to the relief
of our comrades in Ladysmith; there will be no turning back_." A short
emphatic statement this--blunt as the conversation of the man who made
it, but instinct with noble meaning--of superb resolve! It touched
every heart, and made each bronzed-face warrior repeat once more to
himself the oath to do or die for the honour of his country and for the
service of those to be relieved!


Before going further, it is interesting to examine with the map a rough
hint made by Mr. Winston Churchill, correspondent of the _Morning Post_,
of the general plan of the advance.


(Drawn by Ernest Prater.)]

"Having placed his army within striking distance of the various passages
across the Tugela, Sir Redvers Buller's next object was to cross and
debouch. To this end his plan appears to have been--for information is
scarcely yet properly codified--something as follows: Lyttleton's
Brigade, the corps troops forming Coke's Brigade, the ten Naval guns,
the battery of howitzers, one field-battery, and Bethune's Mounted
Infantry to demonstrate in front of the Potgieter position, keeping the
Boers holding the horseshoe in expectation of a frontal attack and
masking their main position; Sir Charles Warren to march by night from
Springfield with the brigades of Hart, Woodgate, and Hildyard, the Royal
Dragoons, six batteries of artillery, and the pontoon train to a point
about five miles west of Spearman's Hill, and opposite Trichardt's
Drift on the Tugela. Here he was to meet the mounted forces from
Spearman's Hill, and with these troops he was next day, the 17th, to
throw bridges, force the passage of the river, and operate at leisure
and discretion against the right flank of the enemy's horseshoe before
Potgieter's, resting on Spion Kop, a commanding mountain, ultimately
joining hands with the frontal force from Spearman's Hill at a point on
the Acton Homes Ladysmith road. To sum up briefly, seven battalions,
twenty-two guns, and three hundred horse under Lyttleton to mask the
Potgieter position; twelve battalions, thirty-six guns, and sixteen
hundred horse to cross five miles to the westward, and make a turning
movement against the enemy's right. The Boer covering army was to be
swept back on Ladysmith by a powerful left arm, the pivoting shoulder of
which was at Potgieter's, the elbow at Trichardt's Drift, and the
enveloping hand--the cavalry under Lord Dundonald--stretching out
towards Acton Homes."

This plan on the surface appeared fairly practicable if the action could
be carried on with sufficient rapidity to prevent the enemy from
gathering in his crowds, as he had gathered at Colenso. Here was the
great--If. The art of war is at best a choice of difficulties, and at
this time our Generals had an embarrassment of that choice. It says a
great deal for their courage that they handled these difficulties one
after another, and let go only when they thought they had been squeezed

The British troops having done with the fatigue of the march, did not
allow the grass to grow under their feet. No sooner had they crossed the
river than they began to threaten some of the Boer lines of retreat to
the Free State. The Naval Brigade also set to work with vigour, and
they, together with the howitzers from Mount Alice, pounded the whole
vicinity to the right impartially. The range having been ascertained to
a nicety, with the assistance of the balloon, whose occupants directed
the gunners, some effective shots were launched at the Boer
entrenchments, and others which were rapidly in course of construction.
From the balloon these were plainly visible, but their tenants, if
tenants there were, vouchsafed no reply. Many mounted Boers were seen
galloping from Colenso to their laagers in the shelter of the more
northerly kopjes, while others were also discovered coming in the
direction from Ladysmith, evidently with a view to reinforce the
commandoes on Spion Kop. While the Naval Brigade was hammering in the
direction of the Boer position, which was somewhat below the level of
Mount Alice, General Lyttleton was moving north of the position for the
purpose of making a demonstration towards Brakfontein, and Sir Charles
Warren's force was approaching two high kopjes overlooking a ravine
behind Spion Hill. It was now the 18th of January. The cavalry started
in advance of the rest of the force. The order of march being, first,
the Composite Regiment (one squadron of Imperial Light Horse, sixty
Rifles Mounted Infantry, one squadron Natal Carabineers), four squadrons
South African Light Horse, Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry, and behind
these the Royals and 13th Hussars. But the Composite Regiment at midday
was found to have moved still farther west, and soon from that region
came an ominous crackling. Something deadly was afoot. It appeared that
a party of Boers was caught trekking by the Acton Homes Road towards the
Free State, and was in act of being cut off. Firing was fast and
furious, and presently dead and dying Boers besprinkled the field that a
few moments before had been green and gracious to the eye. A message was
sent to the main body demanding reinforcements. Promptly Lord Dundonald
with the rest of his troops came on the scene. Hostilities grew in
animation--the situation was desperate. The Boers made a hard fight of
it, clung tenaciously to their position, refusing, though surrounded, to
surrender. Their fire rained furiously down on the Rifles as they
advanced, so furiously that they were forced to seek the shelter of a
desirable donga. The obstinate combat was on the point of renewal when
up went a white flag. The old dodge, one to which now our troops had
become so accustomed that they scarcely heeded it. Both sides continued
to blaze away in uncertainty and mistrust till presently hands flew up,
and this sincerest and distinct sign of surrender was accepted.
Twenty-four burly Boers were then captured, while, round about, the
wounded of the foe were assiduously succoured and tended by the very men
who in the race for dear life had stricken them down. Twenty-four
captured, ten killed, eight wounded--such was the result of a few hours'
work on the enemy. Of our number, Captain Shore of the Imperial Light
Horse was severely wounded, two soldiers of the Mounted Infantry were
killed, and one trooper of the Imperial Light Horse was slightly

A word must be said of the South African Light Horse or "Cockyoli
Birds," as they were jocosely styled in deference to the plumes in their
headgear. These had become the heroes of the hour owing to the splendid
action formerly mentioned of Lieutenant Carlyle and his plucky
companions, Sergeant Turner, Corporals Cox and Barkley, and Troopers
Howell, Godden, and Collingwood. In addition to this plucky feat they
were ceaseless in their activity, as we shall afterwards see.

Before this date the men of the squadron had been much commented on and
universally praised. Their dash, their aptness, their marvellous
intelligence had earned the admiration of all the regulars who had been
associated with them. They, in their neat kharki, looked as efficient a
body of mounted infantry as any one could wish to come across. Among
their numbers were Afrikanders of good birth, Canadians, Australians,
gentlemen of means, sporting men, old soldiers, and the like. They were
hard as nails and bronzed as their saddles, acute as weasels, and
big-hearted and adventurous as any of Robin Hood's world-famed merry
men. If they were rough they were ready, sniffing adventure in the air
and rushing hot-foot to greet it, or stalking warily like old Shikari,
saving no pains so that they eventually brought down their quarry.

The engagement was a grand feather in the cap of the cavalry, and an
additional one in that of the "Cockyoli Birds."

On the morning of Saturday the 20th of January Sir Charles Warren
advanced his whole force to the attack. The scheme had been thought out
with immense care. There was an excellent general with a superb division
of troops, and there was every chance of success. General Woodgate's and
General Hart's brigades marched forward at 3 A.M. from their bivouac on
the low ridges below Spion Kop, with a view to capturing a position
called Three Tree Hill, so called because of three mimosa trees whose
fragrance filled the air. The proceedings opened with an animated
bombardment from all quarters, our guns in the neighbourhood of
Potgieter's and Tritchardt's Drifts engaging the attention of the Boers.
By this time the Dutchmen were powerfully intrenched, and were still
hurrying and scurrying to protect the big mountain that stood between
the British and the object of their desire--Ladysmith. Woodgate's
Brigade had pushed forward in this direction. Later Hart's Brigade took
up a position on the spur parallel to the left of the Lancashire
Brigade, and, under cover of the field-guns, the troops, in the thick of
a storm from rifles and artillery, fought their way almost inch by inch
up the steeps held by the Boers. They finally succeeded in gaining some
portions of the enemy's line of intrenchments. But this was not achieved
without an exhibition of pluck and valiant obstinacy that was heroic.


Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

The Irish Brigade, as usual, were in the thick of the fight, jovial yet
determined, and holding their grip of every inch they gained
notwithstanding shadows of threatened dissolution, the sights of death
and sounds of horror that filled the air. Captain Hensley, a brave and
gallant soul, was shot through the head, and several officers were
smitten, but still their valorous commander, waving his sword, pressed
on, and still his sturdy Irishmen, animated, encouraged, confident,
pursued their upward way. They had debts to settle--some old scores to
wipe out. They remembered their hideous disappointment of Colenso, their
grievous experiences of Dundee, and also they remembered--a far grander
remembrance!--that the honour of the Emerald Isle rested on their
shoulders, and that the quality of its loyalty stood proved by the
quality of their famous deeds!

All around played the fierce fire of the enemy's guns, Creusot, Maxim,
Nordenfeldt, and others. These were posted in commanding positions on a
chain of hills to the west of Spion Hill, and from various points of
vantage the Dutchmen were able to keep up a ceaseless clamour, and pour
a rapid torrent of death and mutilation upon the advancing troops.
These, by reason of the bad ground and the caution required in the
manner of approach, could travel but slowly. The enemy, owing to the
delay in our advance, had increased their forces most unexpectedly, and
seemed, though scarcely to have existed a week ago, to be now
ubiquitous! During the afternoon General Lyttleton's Brigade made a
frontal attack on the Dutchmen's position between Schwartz Kop and Spion
Kop, to divert their attention pending the movements of Sir Charles
Warren. This movement, it was imagined, had been kept very "dark," but,
in spite of the secrecy and caution, the agile foe had contrived again
to concentrate a huge force to oppose his every turn. More artillery
seemed continuously to be brought to the scene, and also some of the
trophies captured in the ill-fated attack on Colenso. Our Naval guns
bombarded the ridge all day, and the howitzers boomed and roared, but
the whole place appeared to be bustling with Boers. On the extreme left
Lord Dundonald engaged in more energetic demonstration, and the
indefatigable South African Light Horse, under Colonel Byng, more than
ever distinguished themselves. In the most gallant manner they captured
Bastion Hill, a hill between the Dutch right and centre.

This hill in the hands of the Boers was a standing menace, as from
thence they could direct a cross-fire at the infantry on the opposite
spur of the big mountain. Major Childe, commanding F Squadron, South
African Light Horse, decided that he, and not the Federals, must secure
so important a vantage-point. Dismounting with his men, and leaving his
horses in rear of the heights, he cautiously crept round through a
mealie field and various dongas which gave him cover from the storm of
shot directed from the curve of the hills. In spite of the pelting lead,
he got to the base of the position in safety. Then, with half the
squadron, he started laboriously to climb. It was tough work, the
sugar-loaf eminence being steep and stony and the sun above blisteringly
hot. Thus they sweated and toiled for a whole hour. Finally, the Boers
were seen scampering from the top. They had detected the approach of
men--bayonets were suspected--they discreetly bolted. Just then Trooper
Tobin, who had grandly led the way up the precipitous height, had
reached his goal. Here he stood in his delight and triumph waving his
helmet and shouting, and quite regardless of the fact that he made an
excellent mark for Boer sharpshooters or their mercenaries. Up, too,
rushed Major Childe with a dozen or so of his nimble men, into the midst
of a tornado of shot and shell which had suddenly started from the Boer
left and centre. Promptly every one went to earth. It was useless at the
moment to attempt to return so withering a fire. Then came a
shell--bursting and banging--and the gallant Major was caught on the
head and killed. Several others were slain, among them Godden, who had
been one of the gallant seven who distinguished themselves in the pont
exploit. Shattered by the terrible fire of artillery, breathless from
past exertions, the troops still hung on. Then our own artillery came to
the rescue and kept the Boer gunners occupied. Meanwhile, reinforcements
from Hildyard's Brigade were sent up to the help of the brave fellows
who for twelve hours had been without rest or water, and on the
following day, to the West Surreys, the cavalry, after a tremendous and
fatiguing experience, handed over the charge of the hill which they had
so magnificently gained. The losses during this complex series of
engagements were many, but the sufferings due to hunger, heat, thirst,
and fatigue were even greater than those due to actual wounds.

The Lancashire Fusiliers, Lancashire Regiment, and the Dublin Fusiliers
lost most during the day. Their wounded numbered about 350 officers and
men. These troops had a peculiarly trying time, as for three whole days
previously they had remained on some captured hills, sun-baked and fired
on promiscuously, while at night, when the temperature had run down with
its customary rapidity, they had found themselves chilled to the bone,
with no blankets or overcoats to cover them. They had about two hours'
sleep on an average per night and very little to eat during the day.
From 3 A.M. on the 20th the Lancashires had taken up a position screened
behind a string of low kopjes, while the artillery on the right battered
and pounded at the Boer earthworks in front and half-left and
half-right. The troops had remained quiet and painfully inactive in the
sweltering sun for many hours, stray bullets whistling round their ears,
and, as one of the officers said, "causing great levity among the men."
At 1.30 they had begun to advance. Immediately they showed their heads
they were caught by a hailstorm of bullets, and seven men dropped.
Rushing dauntlessly on, they made for the shelter of a ring of rocks
some 150 yards in advance, remained for some ten minutes or so, then
pushed forward another 400 yards, losing less men and taking a lesson in
caution from the Boers. Thus, in short energetic rushes, they had
managed to get within 900 yards of the enemy. On the top of the hillock
a perfect deluge of bullets descended, and though the General had moved
some 400 forward, so quickly were the men hit that only thirty or so
could use their rifles.

Afterwards the order was given to make breastworks, and there was a rush
into the open to gather stones and rocks and boulders, when more men
were stricken down. All the wounded could do was to creep to a rock in
the rear, and there await the turn of events. Some lay as they crawled
from 3 to 8.30 at night. It was impossible for them to be removed from
the hill, as the Boers promptly fired on the stretcher-bearers. The
sights and sounds were heart-rending. On one side was seen a man sent to
his last account in a breath; on another was one still hobbling along
and plying his rifle, with both ankles smashed. Here lay a poor fellow
who had a splinter of rock driven clean through his lungs and out at his
back; there languished another shot through the eye and brain--hopeless.
All of them suffered patiently, but were madly athirst, craving for the
hour when the sun should go down and they might get a chance of removal
from the awful scene. And yet there were some, wounded too, who bore the
long hours with amazing cheeriness. One, shot in the leg, lay on his
back, drew forth his home letters, and perused them in the midst of a
deadly fusillade. Another, more seriously wounded still, had the
audacity to beguile the weary moments by taking a "snap-shot" at General
Hart in the act of waving his sword and gesticulating. So much for

After sundown came the moment so longed for by the wretched beings, some
of whom were now literally glued to earth in their own gore. But their
miseries were not yet at an end. It took some two hours to go
three-quarters of a mile in the darkness over the bad ground; there were
creeks, and dongas, and boulders everywhere. No lights were allowed. In
the jetty obscurity the Samaritans tripped and stumbled. "I was only
dropped twice," smiled a wounded youth when he was at last safely borne
towards the stretcher-bearers. Others at intervals were brought in
soaked with blood and rain, the hot stream and the cold mingling
uncannily and to their supreme discomfort. Many who were wounded soon
after midday only succeeded in reaching the field-hospital about
half-past twelve at night. Some, more pathetic still, did not reach it
at all! They had patiently waited till past the need of assistance!

Very pathetic were the circumstances attending the fall of Major Childe.
It was said that on the previous day he had had forebodings of disaster,
so much so that he even begged of his companions, in the event of his
death, to put on his grave his chosen quotation, "Is it well with the
child? It is well." This dying wish was faithfully carried out. His
burial took place on the day after the engagement, Lord Dundonald
reading the solemn words of the funeral service. Over his roughly-made
grave was placed the gallant officer's name, the date of his death, and
the text he had desired to have written on his tomb.

On the following day the fight was waged as fiercely as ever so far as
artillery was concerned. Six field-batteries and four howitzers
bombarded the enemy's position with tremendous vigour, and inflicted
considerable loss. The Boer rifles were indefatigable, however, and
continued their fiendish activity, and the Dutch or German gunners
maintained their excellent practice with scarcely a moment's cessation.

While General Woodgate made a demonstration on the right, General Hart
and his brigade continued to advance, and General Hildyard's troops
joined in the attack from the valley past the right of Bastion Hill.
Here a cleft appeared to open between the right and centre of the Boer
position, and here the infantry, pushing on, practically divided the
position in two; but it was found that the second line of defence was a
formidable one; that the Boers had secured to themselves a magnificent
point of vantage, whence they could sweep the country and command all
the approaches with cross-fire, and even with converging fire; but, in
spite of this, the troops tenaciously retained the positions they had
gained, remaining there throughout the 22nd and 23rd, partially covered,
so that in all their loss was inconsiderable.

The following officers were wounded in action near Venter's Spruit on
the 20th of January:--

     Staff--Colonel B. Hamilton, Major C. M'Grigor. 2nd Lancashire
     Fusiliers--Captain R. B. Blunt, Second Lieut. M. G. Crofton,
     Second Lieut. E. I. M. Barret. 1st Border Regiment--Captain E.
     D. Vaughan, Second Lieut. Muriel. 1st York and Lancaster
     Regiment--Second Lieut. A. H. Kearsey. 2nd Dublin
     Fusiliers--Captain C. A. Hensley (since dead), Major F.
     English. 2nd Gordon Highlanders--Second Lieut. P. D. Stewart.
     Non-commissioned officers and men, 279. Royal West Surrey
     Regiment--Second Lieut. Du Buisson. 16th Lancers
     (Staff)--Captain Dallas.


On Tuesday the 23rd, the continuous and steady assault of the Boer
position seemed to be reaching a promising climax. For four days on the
heights above the Venter Spruit the English and Irish Brigades had been
doggedly moving up and on, and had carried one position after another in
the teeth of many guns, and in the face of discomforts and
discouragements multifarious. They had achieved a great deal with
comparatively small loss, viewing the masterly manner in which the Boer
guns were served. Fortunately the rifle-fire of the foe was not equal in
accuracy to their shell-fire, most probably for the reason that the
bucolic Dutchman had lost his ancient cunning in wielding the rifle,
while in the management of guns of position he was assisted--nay,
relieved, by his German mercenaries. The astonishing dexterity of the
Teutonic specialists in planting shells accurately at a range of over
3000 yards was a matter for marvel and admiration. Their success was
attributed partly to the fact that the range had previously been marked,
and also that spots had been selected over which it was known bodies of
troops must eventually pass, and where it was certain every shot must be
made to tell. For all that, and considering the cross-fire to which the
troops were subjected on the opening days of Sir Charles Warren's
attack, the losses were small. A council of war had been held, and three
courses had been sifted: first, a frontal attack by night on the second
Boer position, possibly attended by terrible loss; second, retirement
beyond the river to seek for a new passage; third, attack by night on
the mountain of Spion Kop, thence to enfilade and dominate all the Boer


Drawing by J. Finnemore.]

The last course was decided on. Spion Kop was to be attacked by night,
the Boer trenches to be scooped out with the point of the bayonet, and
the position held till again--by night--guns could be dragged up to
assist in commanding the position of the foe. Spion Kop, the extreme
left of the Boer position, once fortified, would become a key to the
door of Ladysmith. So it was thought.

General Woodgate was informed of what was required of him, and Colonel
Thorneycroft discussed the programme of the night attack. By his desire,
satisfactory reconnaissances had been made, and there was every reason
to believe that the attempt would be crowned with success. Accordingly,
soon after midnight, General Woodgate, accompanied by Colonel àCourt,
started forth with the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, the Royal Lancaster
Regiment, a portion of Thorneycroft's Horse, and half a company Royal
Engineers, supported by two companies of the Connaught Rangers and by
the Imperial Light Infantry.

In pitch darkness the troops began their march up the southern slope of
the giant mountain called Thaba Emunyama. The steeps were precipitous
and rocky, and had to be negotiated with extreme care. Dongas were on
this side, boulders on that; these had to be crept through and leapt
over with stealthy, cat-like tread lest the enemy on the summit should
be forewarned. Now and then the whirr of a bullet showed that the
Dutchmen were awake, and were indulging in the pastime of sniping;
otherwise the still, purple night spoke of peace. Led by General
Woodgate and Colonel Blomfield, the Fusiliers (who, being seasoned
fighters, were specially selected for the honour of engaging in
"ticklish" work) ascended softly, advancing higher and higher in single
file and in cautious silence. When more than half-way up, the
approaching multitude was discovered, and the Boer picket, firing,
fled. But the warrior crowd pressed on, Colonel Thorneycroft now leading
the way, firing never a shot, and waiting till the trusty bayonet should
teach its lesson. At three o'clock the summit was reached. The rain
drizzled down, the clouds wrapt the hill, but the ardour of the troops
was unabated. With a wild, ringing cheer, which echoed far over the
hills, the position was carried. The force then proceeded to fortify
itself so far as was possible in the hard and rocky ground that covered
the heights.

It must here be noted that, owing to the darkness and the impossibility
of judging exact distances, the trenches that were dug were badly
situated. Instead of the whole or most part of the triangular tableland
of the top, the force occupied merely a cramped position on the extreme
point. This point was already marked and commanded by six Boer guns,
while on the very hill itself was another hostile weapon. Sneaking
around the crust of the kop--on the brim, as it were, while we occupied
the crown--were sharpshooters and snipers, who from thence could pelt
the northern hump of the slope; but in the dense atmosphere of the early
morning these facts were unknown, and the effort, under cover of the
darkness, to widen our position and capture the entire triangle was not
then made.


Made on the spot by Lieutenant E. B. Knox of the Royal Army Medical

While the hazy blue pall of the morning yet hung over the hills the
trenches near the crest were occupied. The clouds hung low, and not a
Dutchman was to be seen. For some time the troops were protected by the
enshrouding mist, but so soon as it cleared, the Boers from their posts
opened fire. They realised that the position to them was virtually one
of life or death. Ping! ping! rang the rifles in chorus; bong! bong!
went the guns, with a deep basso that reverberated in the hollows of the
hills. It was an awe-striking reveillé. The hostile artillery had the
range to a nicety; each shell followed the other with precision, and
burst with terrific uproar on the patch of earthworks held by our
infantry. Under this fearful fusillade our men, pelted yet undismayed,
faithfully held their ground for two mortal hours. But the shell-fire
made horrible gaps in the stalwart company; and by-and-by General
Woodgate, who, having captured the position, still continued to direct
and encourage his men, was wounded, Colonel Blomfield, of the 2nd
Lancashire Fusiliers, took over command, and sent for reinforcements. He
also fell. Then, by reason of merit rather than of seniority, Major
Thorneycroft, local lieutenant-colonel, was appointed to take the place
of the disabled chief. With the rising of the sun, with the development
of day, developed the battle. Shrapnel from 15-pounders sprayed hither
and thither; lyddite opened out earth-umbrellas far and wide. The roar
and the roll of fiends in fury rent the clear, mimosa-scented
atmosphere, and made even the bosom of the placid, silvery river
shudder and quake as it wound and twisted and looped round Potgieter's
Drift. For three and a half hours the tornado pursued its deadly course.
Death--mutilation--agony--thirst--these were more prominent than the
word glory in that long, immemorial period. Officers and men alike
could scarce lift a head lest they should meet the doom that hung over
every creature that dared to stand upright in the murderous arena. They
crouched, and took cover, and waited. The Boers, seeing their advantage,
noting the terrible strain on the men that held the captured trenches,
and the dance of death among Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry, also bided
their time. With great caution and "slimness" they finally commenced to
creep up nearer and nearer, firing the while, and hoping, when things
became a shade worse, to rush the position. Unfortunately there were no
guns to rout the adventurous crew--not one handy Naval 12-pounder to
sweep the enemy from the plateau. There they were, and there they meant
to remain. Major-General Coke's brigade had started to get to the scene
of action, and before long the Middlesex, Dorset, and Somerset Regiments
were moving up the heights to the assistance of the battered regiments
above. Major Walters, in charge of the ambulance, was also carrying out
his grim, unusually heavy duties, but he, in the midst of his deeds of
mercy, was caught by a shot and brought to earth.

By this time the glorious Lancashire Fusiliers, who held the captured
trenches, had suffered most severely, not only from wounds, but from the
agonies of thirst, for which there was no remedy. Their losses were
horrible, and so also were those of Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry, and
they lay in many cases too far removed for the ambulance-bearers to
reach them, and in too exposed a position for help from any around.
Indeed, the state of affairs was so lamentable, the Boers forcing their
way with such persistency, that the question of holding the hill hung by
a thread. Three times before midday had the Dutchmen returned, driven
the Britons back, and again been driven back themselves, till the ups
and downs of the fight became like a perilous game of see-saw, none
daring to prognosticate the conclusion. From noon till the late
afternoon the Boers persisted in their desperate efforts to retake the
crest of the hill. They evidently regarded the position of so much
importance that reinforcements from their right were drawn away to help
in the work. But the gallant fellows who were in possession hung
doggedly to their prize. "Only a day," they said; "a day's more
endurance, and to-morrow we shall mount guns. We shall be rulers of the
roost." So they fought on with a will. Fortunately, at this time they
had no premonition of impediments to success. The place turned out to be
very difficult to hold. Its perimeter was large, and water was
exceedingly scarce, and their ammunition, moreover, gave out at a
critical period.

All these discoveries were gradually and painfully made as the day wore
on, but nevertheless they resisted the assaults of the enemy with
herculean vigour--with courage that was Spartan.

For two hours in the afternoon the scene on the summit of the kop was
terrific. A hurricane of shot and shell swept the crest--it became a
seething Inferno. Six quick-firing guns, two Hotchkiss guns, and
numerous other weapons of more or less deadliness played upon the
troops. Maimed and dying were being carried off as fast as possible.
General Woodgate, brave as a lion, who had worked like a Trojan till
struck down by a piece of shell, refused to leave. Usually a placid man,
he was now irrepressible, protesting that he would remain on the field,
though his sufferings--since he was shot over the left eye--must have
been severe. Reinforcements had now arrived--the Middlesex, Dorsets, and
Somersets--the plateau was crowded--overcrowded, some say--and death was
taking a full meal. The Boer Maxim-Nordenfeldt, which had done its fell
work at Colenso, perambulated from position to position with insatiable
greed, preying on the life-blood of our bravest and best, and defying
the efforts of our gunners below to locate it. Its work, and the work of
the Mausers, lay everywhere--the hill was a shambles. Major Walters,
chief of the Natal Volunteer Ambulance, had dropped; his brother, of the
2nd Scottish Rifles, was killed; Captain Murray, of the same regiment,
was simply riddled with bullets--he received as many as four, yet
persisted in leading on his men till struck down mortally. Colonel
Buchanan Riddell, King's Royal Rifles, another hero, was slain later,
while directing a flanking movement. The turmoil of those exciting hours
was described by an officer:--

"I crawled along a little way with half my company, and then brought up
others in the same manner. The men of the different regiments already on
the hill were mixed up, and ours met the same fate. It was impossible,
under the circumstances, to keep regimental control. One unit merged
into another; one officer gave directions to this or that unit, or to
another battalion. I saw some tents on the far side of the hill to our
front, and knowing the enemy must be there, opened with volleys at 1800
yards, when we saw a puff of smoke, indicating that one of the Boer guns
had just fired. We lay prone, and could only venture a volley now and
again, firing independently at times when the shower of bullets seemed
to fall away, and the shells did not appear likely to land specially
amongst us. Everywhere, however, it was practically the same deadly
smash of shells, mangling and killing all about us. The only troops
actually close to me then were a party of the Lancashire Fusiliers
inside a _schanze_, F Company of the Middlesex, and a mixed company of
other troops on the left front. A good many shells from the big guns
burst near us, and a lance-corporal of the Fusiliers was killed. The
only point I could see rifle-fire proceeding from was a trench, the
third, I believe, occupied by our troops on the right, and looking
towards Spearman's.

"Presently I heard a great deal of shouting from this trench, in which
were about fifty men. They were calling for reinforcements, and
shouting, 'The Boers are coming up.' Two or three minutes afterwards I
saw a party of about forty Boers walking towards the trench. They came
up quite coolly; most of them had their rifles slung, and all, so far as
I could observe, had their hands up. Our men in the trench--they were
Fusiliers--were then standing up also, with their hands up, and
shouting, 'The Boers are giving in, the Boers are giving in.' I did not
know what to think, but ordered a company of my regiment to fix
bayonets. We waited to see what would happen. Just then, when the Boers
were close to the trench, some one--whether an enemy or one of our
men--fired a shot. In an instant there was a general stampede, or rather
a _mêlée_, my men rushing from their position and charging, while the
Boers fired at the men in the trench, knocking several back into it,
dead. Previous to this a Boer came towards me saying, 'I won't hurt
you.' He looked frightened, and threw down his rifle. Immediately
afterwards the Boer fired, and there was a frightful muddle. I fired at
one Boer, and then another passed. We were fighting hand to hand. I shot
the Boer in order to help the man, and he dropped, clinging, however, to
his rifle as he fell, and covering me most carefully. He fired, and I
fell like a rabbit, the bullet going in just over and grazing the left
lung. I lay where I fell until midnight. Subsequent to my being hit,
parties of Boers passed twice over me, trying on the same trick, holding
up their hands, as if they were asking for quarter. But our men refused
to be taken in again, and fired, killing or driving them back."

In this fight the Dutchmen were unusually obstinate. Over and over again
they advanced to within seventy yards of the captured trenches, and from
thence were only routed at the point of the bayonet. Their rushes were
most valiant and persistent, and nothing but the heroism of officers and
men could have withstood the overwhelming nature of the attack made upon

But dodges with the white flag and other frauds continued to be
practised by the Boers. Colonel Thorneycroft escaped merely by an
accident from an endeavour to play a trick upon him. The leader of a
commando facing Thorneycroft's Horse advanced with a white flag. The
Colonel approached to the parley, but being suspicious, he told the
leader to go back, as he refused to confer with him. Both retired, but
before the Colonel could return to his regiment a volley was poured on
him by the enemy. Another and more curious trick was practised on some
of the privates. They were approached by an officer in kharki and
directed to follow him to a better position. This they began to do till,
at last, seeing themselves being led into the jaws of the enemy, they
halted, and some one demanded to know who this bogus officer might be.
At that moment the party was met by a storm of Boer bullets, and
scarcely a man came whole from the adventure. Fortunately, the
miscreant--an Austrian--who had played the trick on them was bayoneted
ere all our gallant fellows dropped down. Strange, too, was the fate of
gallant Colonel Blomfield, whose regiment, one of the smartest of the
smart regiments present, had done such splendid work, and had held on to
its post to the bitter end. This officer was wounded early in the day,
as already recorded, and lay in a trench helpless and fainting for hours
and beyond the reach of help. Finally, he was able to crawl out and make
his way down the side of the hill--down the _wrong_ side, unluckily for
himself--and when next he was heard of he was a prisoner in Pretoria.
That his life was saved at all was a marvel. Captain Tidswell, on seeing
his Colonel wounded, rushed out with Sergeant Lightfoot and dragged him
under a heavy fire into a trench, where he remained till the action was


During the early part of the day the Scottish Rifles and the 3rd
Battalion of the King's Royal Rifles had been sent off to storm the
kopjes forming an extension of Spion Kop, and thus occupy the enemy and
relieve the pressure of his attack. The river was forded at Kaffir Drift
by Colonel Buchanan Riddell's troops, and soon after the battalion
divided, half being led by the Colonel to the right, and half under
Major Bewicke-Copley advancing to the left, of the objective. The enemy
was everywhere--at the base of the kopjes and in the trenches up the
sides. Still the troops advanced. The Dutchmen were shifted upwards inch
by inch from their defences. The best cold Sheffield glittered near the
trenches, and--the trenches were vacated! Up and up moved the Boers, on
and on went the Rifles--on and up, rushing wildly, gallantly, charging
and cheering, and finally gaining the crest!

Meanwhile the Scottish Rifles had advanced on Spion Kop. Nothing could
exceed the smartness with which they scaled the steeps. They marched
straight to the front firing line, and, in a word, saved the situation.
No sooner did the enemy show his nose than the Scottish Rifles held him
in check, and over and over again showed him that British tenacity was
equal to both Boer stubbornness and slimness combined. The enemy could
make no headway against them.

But the gallant action of the King's Royal Rifles was one of the grand
deeds that end in the ineffectual. The battalion in its triumph had
pressed the Boers upwards, but on doing so became practically isolated.
The Boers were above and between them and our own troops, and as a
result of its too forward movement the regiment stood in peril. Seeing
their position of jeopardy, orders were sent up to retire. It was
disgusting, heart-breaking, but it had to be done. The glorious company,
after capturing two positions, slowly, reluctantly, moved down the hill
they had ascended in the flush of triumph--moved again to their bivouac,
sadder and wiser men. But they were only the first of many sad and sorry
men that day. Meanwhile the battle on the great hill raged continuously,
and shells, not alone those of the enemy, but those of our own guns
which had attempted to assist, made the crowded kop a "veritable hell."


Drawing by R. Caton Woodville.]

Presently, in the late afternoon a still more serious situation
presented itself. Water, always scarce, threatened to run short
altogether. Ammunition failed. A more appalling quandary in the drama of
war can scarcely be imagined. Fortunately, to the relief of the plucky
band on the heights, at last came a mule-train with much-desired water
and cartridges, and the fight was pursued in more auspicious
circumstances. But the Boer guns lost none of their persistency. Shells
hurtled over the plateau, and as dusk set in, regiments and battalions
and such officers as were left were mixed up in a surging, stumbling
_mêlée_, wounded men firing last shots at the darkness, and hale ones
dropping helpless as the blaze from the bursting projectiles showed, for
one moment, the scene of agony.

When night made further activity impossible the position of affairs came
under discussion. Was this sorry game worth the vast, the costly candle
that was being expended--that yet might have to be expended? One
commanding officer said "Yes!" another said "No!" It is stated that the
decision rested with Colonel Crofton. He argued in favour of withdrawal.
The troops were terribly mauled; the dead lay in crowds, a ghastly
testimony of their impetuous courage. It had been found impossible to
secure good cover against the enemy's shrapnel and venomous, unceasing
quick-firers. There had scarcely been time for the raking of rifle-pits,
the construction of stone defences--the guns of the foe had been too
active and unceasing--and besides this, the troops were unaccustomed to
the sly art of crouching to cover. While the Colonial crawled like a
stalker along dongas and through gulleys to get at his quarry, the hardy
Briton always exposed himself as though pluck demanded that he should
make a mark of himself. As some one at the time expressed it, "Their
courage is incontestable, their methods absurd." For this reason many of
the trenches that our soldiers had so grandly defended became in the end
their graves. The number of slain was appalling to see. The flower of
the country lay struck down as the grass beneath the scythe of the
reaper. It was a harvest of blood. The dead lay literally in stacks, the
sole protection of their living comrades. Crowds upon crowds had pressed
to the top of the great hill, offering a thick, compact front to the
guns of the enemy, an imposing target to the horrible shells that merely
breathed death as they passed. Liberally as the brigades exposed
themselves, liberally they paid the penalty.

Late in the evening, guns--Naval guns and a battery--toiled towards the
scene, rattling along through the night air to get into position for the
morrow, and take revenge, though late, on the devastating "pom-poms" of
the foe. But the die was cast. The withdrawal had begun. At 7.30 P.M.
Colonel Thorneycroft gave the word. Slowly and in confused fashion the
shattered braves began to wind downwards, and by nine the summit of the
hill was almost deserted.

Pitiable were the circumstances of the retirement. The wounded, with
staggering footsteps, crawled or crept down the mountain-side, reeling
from loss of blood and exhaustion. Streams of officers and knots of men
scrambled along calling for their units and finding them not. Drowsy,
stupefied beings stumbled through dongas and broke their ankles against
boulders, trying before they dropped to come in touch with their
fellow-men. Many wandered aimlessly, twining the hill and passing over
it into the hands of the enemy. Battalion was mixed with battalion,
company with company. Dazed men searched in vain for the rendezvous.
Some cursed, some swore, some slept or seemed to sleep. One commanding
officer sat helplessly on the spur of the hill, staring like a
somnambulist, deaf to all consciousness of the outer world; another,
lying among the trenches, was given up for dead.

The losses were terrific. The Royal Engineers, in some cases, were
riddled with bullets. Major Massey died covered with wounds. Lieutenant
Falcon, 17th Company, had arms, legs, knees, and helmet perforated with
lead. In fact, no one has been able very clearly to describe in its
hideous reality the awful picture of the battle of Spion Kop. A great
holocaust some called it, and with truth, for the mountain from morn
till night was literally scourged with lead, raked in all directions by
Maxim-Nordenfeldts, artillery, and musketry. The tale is only writ in
the wounds and on the graves of those who by a miracle took the summit,
and by sheer grit held it in the face of overwhelming odds. Over a
thousand men gave their lives to gain that which, in twenty hours--hours
each one crowded with moments of heroism--had to be abandoned. The
evacuation was carried out by order of Colonel Thorneycroft, one of the
most valiant of the many valiant men who went up only to come down
again. The excellence of his reasons was acknowledged, and his personal
valour was beyond dispute. His authority for action was the sole source
of debate. A military correspondent of the _Daily Telegraph_ related an
incident of the fight which served to show what manner of commander had
taken the place made vacant by the wounding of General Woodgate. Some
men, about a score, who had lost their officers, threw down their arms
to surrender, but Thorneycroft, seeing the act, rushed out to the front
and called to the Boers to go on firing, for he commanded on the hill,
and he alone would give the word to surrender. The Boers promptly
responded. The officer went on to say, "Luckily a fresh regiment arrived
at our side and restored the battle, but Thorneycroft undoubtedly saved
a dreadful disaster by conduct so gallant that it recalls the old story
of _Messieurs de la Garde Française, tirez_."

Acts of gallantry were so numerous that V.C.'s were surely earned by the
dozen. Lieutenant Mallock's devotion to duty was remarkable, and all
regretted his loss. Captain Stewart, who also lost his life, assisted in
maintaining the high traditions of the 20th Regiment.

The King's Royal Rifles lost three officers killed and five wounded.
Their Colonel, the bravest of the brave, was hit while in the act of
leading the regiment up the steeps. He rose for one instant to read a
message and was shot through the brain. The commanders of three leading
companies were all wounded. Colonel Thorneycroft was injured, Captain
the Hon. J. H. Petre, though twice struck, held on to his duty till
another bullet laid him low. Captain O'Gowan was hit in two places, and
Lieutenant Lockwood in four, as also was Captain Murray of the Scottish
Rifles while attempting to lead his men towards the Boer trenches. Death
claimed this splendid officer before the end of the day. Captain Walter
was killed by a shell.

Curious stories were told of the behaviour of the Boers to the Colonial
soldiers, stories which were hardly creditable to the Dutchmen. What
their deadly missiles had failed to do the Boers themselves
accomplished. They clubbed some unfortunates to death. These were
Uitlanders, or suspected of being such. The correspondent of the _Daily
Telegraph_ gave the names of two men slaughtered in this way--Corporal
Weldon and Private Daddon, ex-Pretoria men! In addition to this
brutality, explosive bullets in quantities were used. A drummer and a
private of the Fusiliers were both killed by them. It was said that the
quantity of losses sustained by Thorneycroft's, the Imperial Light
Horse, and other South African "Irregulars" was due to special spite
owing to a suspicion on the part of the Boers that these regiments might
have been recruited from Uitlanders. This charge was so generally
believed that many of the "Regulars" came to the assistance of the
Colonials, transferring to them their badges in order to save them from
the consequences of discovery; for it was distinctly stated that cases
had occurred where the Boers deliberately shot the wounded whom they
knew to be Colonials. So as to be thoroughly impartial, however, we must
remember that there are blood-thirsty villains of all nationalities in
times of peace as well as in times of war.

Next morning, General Buller, riding to the scene of action, then, and
then only, became acquainted with the decisive move, the abandonment of
Spion Kop. His astonishment was great--so was that of the Boers. Some
said that the foe had already begun trekking, believing, in spite of
their stout resistance, that the position was lost. Others argued that
any trekking that they might have attempted meant merely a manoeuvre
consistent with their mobility to entice the British farther on into a
trap from whence they could not have escaped. Be this as it may, a man
of immense courage gave the order to withdraw, and he had his reasons,
which reasons proved satisfactory to the Chief.


Drawing by Frank Craig from a Sketch by a British Officer.]

On the 25th the battle dragged on, the artillery barking and rifles
snapping at each other, while the transport slowly prepared to retrace
its winding way whither it had come, across the Tugela. The most gallant
and perhaps the most melancholy feature of the war was at an end.
General Warren's right flanking movement had failed, and the
Commander-in-Chief decided that there was no alternative but to again
concentrate in the neighbourhood of Potgieter's Drift. The movement was
conducted, under the personal direction of General Buller, with
admirable precision and skill, and though there were weary and disgusted
hearts among the bitterly disappointed troops, they bore their trial
with dignity. The return was orderly, and no further misfortune
happened. The enemy made no attempt to interfere. They, too, though
successful in their defence, were hard hit.

The following casualty list represents the cost of the great flanking

     _Killed_:--Staff--Captain Virtue, Brigade-Major. 3rd King's
     Royal Rifles--Lieut.-Colonel Buchanan Riddell, Lieutenant R.
     Grand, Second Lieutenant French-Brewster. 2nd
     Cameronians--Captain F. Murray, Captain Walter, Lieutenant
     Osborne. 17th Company Royal Engineers--Major Massey. 2nd King's
     Royal Rifles--Lieutenant Pope Wolferstan. 1st South
     Lancashire--Captain Birch. 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers--Captain
     Stewart, Lieutenant J. Mallock, Lieutenant Fraser. Imperial
     Light Horse--Lieutenant Rudall, Lieutenant Kynock. 2nd
     Middlesex Regiment--Captain Muriel, Second Lieutenant Lawley,
     Second Lieutenant Wilson. 2nd Lancaster Regiment--Major Ross,
     Captain Kirk, Lieutenant Wade. Thorneycroft's Mounted
     Infantry--Captain Hon. W. Petre, Captain Knox-Gore, Lieutenant
     Grenfell, Lieutenant Newnham, Lieutenant M'Corqudale,
     Lieutenant Hon. Hill-Trevor. South African Light Horse--Major
     Childe. 2nd West York--Captain Ryall.
     _Wounded_:--Staff--Major-General Sir E. Woodgate[5] (since
     dead), Captain Castleton, A.D.C. 3rd King's Royal Rifles--Major
     Thistlethwayte, Major Kays, Captain Beaumont, Captain Briscoe.
     2nd Cameronians--Major S. P. Strong, Major Ellis, Captain
     Wanless-O'Gowan, Lieutenant H. V. Lockwood, Second Lieutenant
     O. M. Torkington, Second Lieutenant F. G. W. Draffen. Indian
     Staff Corps--Major Bayly. Bethune's Horse--Captain Ford. 17th
     Company Royal Engineers--Lieutenant Falcon. 1st South
     Lancashire--Lieutenant Raphael. 1st Border Regiment--Captain
     Sinclair-M'Lagan, Second Lieutenant Andrews. 2nd Lancashire
     Fusiliers--Lieut.-Colonel Blomfield (taken prisoner), Major
     Walter, Lieutenant Griffin, Lieutenant Wilson, Lieutenant
     Charlton. Royal Engineers--Captain Phillips. Royal Inniskilling
     Fusiliers--Captain Maclachlan. 2nd West York--Lieutenant
     Barlow. 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers--Captain Wolley-Dod, Captain
     White, Captain Ormond, Lieutenant Campbell. 1st York and
     Lancaster--Lieutenant Halford, Lieutenant Duckworth. 2nd West
     Surrey--Captain Raitt (since dead), Captain Warden, Lieutenant
     Smith, Lieutenant Wedd. 2nd Middlesex Regiment--Major
     Scott-Moncrieff, Captain Savile, Captain Burton, Second
     Lieutenant Bentley. 2nd Lancaster Regiment--Captain Sandbach,
     Lieutenant Dykes, Lieutenant Stephens, Second Lieutenant Nixon.
     Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry--Captain Bettington, Lieutenant
     Foster, Lieutenant Baldwin, Lieutenant Howard. _Missing_:--2nd
     Lancashire Fusiliers--Captain Elmslie (taken prisoner), Captain
     Hicks, Captain Freeth. 2nd Middlesex Regiment--Lieutenant
     Galbraith. 2nd Lancaster Regiment--Major Carleton.
     Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry--Lieutenant Power-Ellis.


At this time it seemed as though the word "As you were" had been spoken
by the military authorities. But it was, alas! no longer possible to
believe that the position was as it had been; for it was now a case of
melancholy experience plus previous melancholy experience. Nearly six
weeks before, the great frontal attack at Colenso had failed--failed
partly by reason of the tremendous strategical position taken up by the
Boers, with the river Tugela as a natural moat for its protection, and
partly on account of the disaster to the guns, which completely upturned
the plan of Sir Redvers Buller's calculations.

Now a great flank movement had been attempted, and had failed as
signally as the first frontal effort. It was really discovered that a
flanking movement, truly interpreted, was impossible, for there is no
flank to a circle, and the Boer lines were found to be equally strong
all round from Colenso to Ladysmith.

This horrible discovery naturally made the situation very grave indeed.
The effect on the garrison of Ladysmith--the terrible rebound from
delighted anticipation to amazed despair--may be partly imagined. None,
indeed, save those who had so valiantly endured the terrible changes in
the barometer of expectation could entirely gauge the sensitivity of
those ill-fed, debilitated thousands, ravaged by disease, privation, and
warfare, who hung oscillating day after day between salvation and
destruction. They now knew that their saviours, Sir Charles Warren and
his force, were withdrawn to the south of the Tugela. This was done
because the river forms a species of natural rampart, beyond which the
country--a species of South African Switzerland--offered no facilities
to an attacking force. It was found that the Boers had carefully
fortified every position already well formed by nature for purposes of
defence. It was the same as Colenso. The theatre of war was margined by
fortifications, regular galleries, rising tier upon tier on originally
favourable positions. The opportunity to occupy these favourable
positions the Boers owed entirely to us--to the procrastination and
pacific tendencies of the British Government. It was now owned that Sir
Alfred Milner should have gone to the Conference with a forest of rifles
at his back, an army of mounted Colonials at his elbows, and some big
guns "up his sleeve." As it was, while he talked and the Government
spent its money on telegraphic palaver, the Boers, assisted by their
German mercenaries, were marking out the choicest positions, not for
their own defence, but for the defence of Natal (which they were allowed
time to seize) against the "magnanimous" Briton. Yes, the Boers from the
beginning had decided to talk the British into delay, and had profited
gloriously by their strategy. In our first volume, a letter on "Boer
ignorance" candidly showed the Dutchman's hand--too late, of course, for
then the trick was bound to be taken. The Dutchmen conferred with Sir
Alfred Milner to suit their own ends and to further their main objects;
firstly, to keep the war outside their own territories, and secondly, to
confine it to soil that, geographically and by a species of hereditary
instinct, they knew to perfection. They, boy and man, loved those
kopjes. In those semi-circular windings, those almost inaccessible peaks
and cones, those boulders which afforded eternal cover to the sniper,
those vast arenas of open veldt where an approaching enemy might be
stormed upon by a deluge of leaden hail--they had mentally played
hide-and-seek for eighteen years. Now the reality of the game was come.
From the early days when Sir Harry Smith found them prospecting the fair
land of Natal, they had learnt its intimate geography. We, to whom the
fair land belonged, had barely heard of the Tugela or the region around
it. To us it was superficially known only at the cost of dire
experience. The Boers had been aware that the British advance northwards
through the Free State would lie across flat fair country, and knowing
this, had decided that during the month taken to land the British army
they must take up their positions beyond and around it; and so excellent
was their cunning, so amicably pacific the temper of the British nation,
that they were enabled to follow their strategic programme in its
entirety, and plant themselves in firmly rooted masses to await our

The problem of how to dislodge them and how to relieve Ladysmith was
once more staring Sir Redvers Buller in the face with hard and unbending
austerity. According to military experts, who viewed the plan of
campaign with dispassionate eyes, the fate of Ladysmith should have been
left out of the calculations. The troops should have been massed to a
common centre and at the south, and from thence boldly advanced into the
Free State. But against that opinion was the picture of the noble ten
thousand inside a beleaguered town, a grand British multitude, who had
been kept for months hoping against hope, fighting bravely, and praying
of the Almighty to hasten the hour of their deliverance. They could not
be left. While he had men and guns the General felt he must go on. But
how? Certainly not by the newer route. The recapture of Spion Kop was
decided to be impracticable, and the force remained stationary south of
the Tugela while the complicated situation was reviewed.

The General, whatever his misfortunes, had lost none of the confidence
of his troops. As he himself said of them, "The men were splendid." They
were disgusted at being a second time defeated without being beaten, and
disappointed at again being forced back from the road to Ladysmith; but
their steadfast faith in their chief was unalterable. Sir Redvers Buller
again addressed his warriors, promising them they should be in Ladysmith
soon, and the men, Britons to the core, again said in their hearts, "We

To replace 1600 killed and wounded in the late actions, drafts of 2400
men had now arrived. A mountain battery, A Battery R.H.A., and two
fortress guns had strengthened the artillery, while two squadrons of the
14th Hussars had been added to the cavalry, thus bringing the strength
of the force to 1000 more than the number which had started for Spion
Kop. This was an imposing increase, but its value at the present time
was much less than it would have been had Sir Redvers Buller originally
taken the field with a proper complement of men and guns. "To do the
thing handsomely we want 150,000 men," a tactician declared at the
onset; but nobody heeded him, and in consequence of this heedlessness
the complications in Natal had arisen.

"However," as a military officer expressed it, "there was not a sore
head nor a timid heart in Buller's army. As we lie in our bivouacs at
night, the Southern Cross and a thousand constellations watching over
our slumbers, we dream of the Angel of Victory, and in our dreams we
hear the flapping of her wings."

The optimism of the army was undiminished. There was no doubt whatever
that they would relieve Ladysmith, but the when and the how remained as
yet unsolved. The troops had not yet sustained actual defeat at the
hands of the Boers, and, while our losses could be replaced, and _were_
being replaced, the recuperative power of the Boers was nil. Indeed it
was stated that they had come to the end of their resources, and that
they were already forcing Kaffirs to fight for them in the trenches.
Later on it was discovered that females even--true to the ancient
sporting instinct of the Boer woman--were lending a hand in the
management of the rifle.

At last, after some days of deliberation, a third great attempt to reach
the imprisoned multitude in Ladysmith was planned out.

A week of waiting and then a new advance was decided on. Seventy guns
drew up in line on the hills to prepare the way for another gigantic
move. This time Sir Redvers Buller's plan was to occupy a hill called
Vaal Krantz and get forward between Spion Kop and the Doorn Kloof
ranges. But after a very short yet valorous essay, it was discovered
that there were veritably cannon to right of them, cannon to left of
them. The Boers commanded the hills on either side the road through
which the troops must pass. Not only were there guns on both sides, but
these Krupps and Creusot cannon far outranged anything that our
artillery could bring to bear on them. The Naval guns alone were capable
of not only barking but biting, and these three were not enough to meet
the formidable array of the Republicans.


On the 5th of February, however, the gallant attempt was made. The
cavalry moved forward about 6 A.M.--one brigade under Colonel
Burn-Murdoch advanced to the right below Swartz Kop, the Colonials under
Lord Dundonald kept nearer to Potgieter's Drift, Sir Charles Warren with
one brigade remained west of Mount Alice in a position commanding the
road leading to Potgieter's Drift. The Naval guns meanwhile came into
action, shelling the Boer positions, dongas, and trenches, and every
imaginable hiding-place with immense energy, but with little result. The
Boers in their trenches were quiet, as usual reserving themselves for an
effective outburst later on. Meanwhile the Lancashire Brigade (now under
Colonel Wynne) were advancing in skirmishing order to the tune of the
mighty orchestra, while above an officer of sappers in the balloon spied
out the Boer haunts, and directed accordingly. By nine o'clock
pandemonium was unloosed--lyddite bellowed, shrapnel clattered over
the whole fortified face of Brakfontein, while the infantry steadily
moved on. Presently from dongas and trenches, at ranges of 1000 yards
and less, came the crackling of rifles, to which our troops responded by
volleys now and again. Between these volleys they proceeded steadily,
regardless of the uproar and the fell work of the eternally active


Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

While this feint attack was taking place on the left before the now
flaming ridges of Brakfontein, a real and vigorous move was being made
on the extreme right for the purpose of carrying the crest of Vaal
Krantz, which was then thought to be the key to the direct road to
Ladysmith, and was not very strongly fortified by the Dutchmen. The
Royal Engineers with immense energy set to work laying a pontoon bridge
across the treacherous depths in the direction of Skiet's Drift, an
operation which had to be performed with infinite patience and pluck, as
the Boers were no sooner aware of their activities than they plied their
Mausers with a will. This crossing-place, styled Munger's Ford, now
attracted the attention of the whole Boer artillery, and the "pom-poms"
and 40-pounders of the enemy contrived to render the locality anything
but an enviable place of rendezvous. Our pieces, from their hiding-place
among the trees in the neighbourhood of Swartz Kop, soon bombarded the
Boer position with equal activity. By ten o'clock the bridge had been
thrown across the river, and General Lyttelton and his troops were
preparing for the assault of Vaal Krantz. The artillery now made its
finishing demonstration before Brakfontein, there being no
necessity--now that the troops had come successfully across the pontoon
bridge--for a continuation of the feint attack. For this reason the
Lancashire Brigade was now ordered to retire. The gallant fellows,
having done what was required of them, marched back in excellent order
to their original position.

All this while shells were shrieking, lyddite was bursting, and musketry
crackling, till the whole earth seemed riven with an enormous
convulsion. The gunners had some terrific experiences, and nobly, in a
truly alarming position, they comported themselves. They were on low
ground, exposed without shelter to the Boer works, which dominated the
plain; yet they pursued their labours with unerring care and
intelligence that was truly remarkable. Shell plumped in their midst,
under the limbers, over the guns, above their heads, round their feet.
They stuck to their duty. Horses dropped and shrieked in their agony,
gunners fell shot through the heart and were carried away. Loudly the
vociferous chorus of death went on, steadily the gunners took their
share of the fearful drama of destruction. To show the vast amount of
"grit" that these gunners could boast, an incident of the day must be
recorded. About noon the batteries were ordered to approach nearer to
Vaal Krantz and prepare the way for the infantry assault. The guns, ever
under a scathing fire, moved off in due order to take up the fresh
position on the right facing Vaal Krantz. Finally they came to the last
waggon, an ammunition waggon belonging to the 78th Battery R.A., which
was horseless. The team had been wiped off by the enemy. Nevertheless
the gunners put their shoulders to the wheel, and, with a mighty effort,
rolled the machine straight through the fiery hurricane to a place of
safety! The conduct of the Jack Tars also stuck another feather in their
already well-decorated caps. While the new balloon made its descent it
became an object of attention, and was saluted vigorously by the enemy.
Nevertheless the sailors stuck to their work, held the basket, took
possession of the truculent aërial vessel, and marched off with it under
a galling fire.

By-and-by, when Vaal Krantz had been thoroughly searched and swept by
the British batteries, and the snipers from the base of Doorn Kloof had
been partially reduced to silence by the joint efforts of the artillery
and Hildyard's Brigade, Lyttelton's gallant band began to move off from
the direction of Munger's Farm on the road to Vaal Krantz. It was now
the early afternoon, but from all sides the deadly missiles of the enemy
still bellowed and hooted. Still the Durham Light Infantry, with the 3rd
King's Royal Rifles on their right, pushed steadily on--forward from the
river and up the precipitous broken face of the hill. Cheering, they
went, clambering and leaping, and whether it was the menacing roar, or
the suggestion it gave of coming steel that stirred them, certain it was
that few of the foe remained to meet the charge.

The Boers saw them--heard them--gauged the meaning of the lusty British
cheer--and bolted. Scarcely any elected to fall victim to the bayonet.
Those who were there threw up their hands and appealed for mercy. These
were promptly made prisoners, and the British, for the time being,
reigned supreme on the hill. But their reign had its discomforts.
Dutchmen crowded the ground, west, east, and north of them, dosing them
liberally with lead from their rifles, while their position was
perpetually pounded by the big guns of the enemy. These, vomiting on the
eastern slopes of the hill, set fire to the grass and added to the
discomforts of the position by surrounding it with appalling fumes,
which choked and blinded, and destroyed the view of the Dutchmen's
haunts. Nevertheless, the kopje once gained, the men rushed along the
crest and entrenched themselves in a spot that looked as though it had
been overtaken by a prairie fire. Our shells had effectually cleared the
grass and scrub. The gunners from the surrounding kopjes kept a sharp
lookout, firing at the Boers as they brought up their guns from all
directions, while General Lyttelton maintained his ground. Meanwhile
efforts were made to get the batteries forward to the hill, but the task
was a difficult one, and the position was strengthened and enlarged in
order to assist in the accomplishment of the desired object. Until guns
could be mounted and made to defy the active aggression of the
"pom-poms," Creusots, and other deadly weapons of the enemy, there could
be no hope of getting the troops and their baggage through to Ladysmith.
At this time an obstinate effort to gain lost ground was made by the
Republicans, but owing to the doughty resistance of the Scottish Rifles
and the King's Royal Rifles, the attempt to dislodge them entirely
failed. Towards seven o'clock a drizzling rain and darkness descended.
The troops which had gathered together between Swartz Kop, Munger's
Drift, and the newly acquired hill were forced to bivouac where they
were for the night, Sir Redvers Buller and his staff remaining on the
field with the men.

At dawn on the 6th of February the Boers resumed their activity. Long
Tom--the first to awake--with his big black snout snorted sonorously.
Bang went a hundred-pound shell across the plain--helter-skelter flew
the British Tommies, who were enjoying their morning tea, and crash and
splash went their delicious brew. Fortunately no serious harm was done.
A few horses were killed. But after this began an artillery duel of
vigorous nature. This was chiefly directed against General Lyttelton's
troops on Vaal Krantz. The Boers seemed everywhere, more ubiquitous than
usual. From the lower crests of Spion Kop, from the peak of Doorn Kloof,
from the mountains commanding the road to Ladysmith, flame vomited, and
lead and steel and powder spouted and spluttered.

The fact was that during the night the Boers, in order to proceed with
the work of defence, had set fire to more grass in the neighbourhood of
the British position, and utilised the illumination for the transfer of
their guns from one place to another. Early, therefore, they were
enabled to greet the camp with the roar of a Creusot gun and other
weapons from all quarters playing upon the position. Shells burst
everywhere, some even reaching headquarters. It was said that Buller,
the imperturbable, welcomed them. Certainly his Spartan-like disregard
of danger was remarkable, and was responsible for the superb nonchalance
of those who served under him. Still, with his courage he displayed
caution, the caution that only a courageous man would dare to display.
He decided later on that his move was impracticable, that more lives
should not be spent in futile effort. Of this anon. While the Creusots
and Krupps pounded the hill, the Boers strove their uttermost to regain
their hold on the lost position. Meanwhile the Naval guns rumbled and
rampaged, ammunition waggons blew up, earthquakes filled the clear blue
atmosphere with avalanches of dust, and one of the enemy's cherished
weapons on Spion Kop was knocked clean out of action.

Late in the afternoon, the worn-out troops of Lyttelton's Brigade were
relieved by Hildyard's men, who came in from a violent night-attack by
the enemy. This in their usual gallant style was repelled by the East
Surrey and the West Yorks--the veteran West Yorks, who had learned not a
little from Beacon Hill onwards.

On Wednesday the firing grew terrific. More guns were brought up,
seemingly from the bowels of the earth; they were posted
everywhere--another 6-inch Creusot gun, Maxim cannons, two 30-pounders,
three "pom-poms," in addition to the death-dealing weapons of the
previous day. Shells hurtled and burst on hill and dale, mountain and
valley, smoke, flame, and dust spouted forth, making the atmosphere
dense, torrid, and fearsome. Still Hildyard's dauntless brigade held
their ground unflinchingly, while the Naval guns strove bravely, but
strove in vain, to tackle the great snorting crew of the opposition. It
seemed as though the advance must be accomplished not merely through a
zone, but a sheath of fire, for the road to Ladysmith was barred from
end to end, a sheer _cul-de-sac_, with flame and death for its lining.

Our troops during the whole day hung tenaciously to Vaal Krantz, while
the Dutchmen obstinately challenged their right to be there. But nothing
appreciable was achieved, and evacuation seemed the wiser and more
profitable course to pursue. By this time it began to be recognised that
the strategic value of Vaal Krantz for turning the Brakfontein position
had been over-estimated, and that an advance would necessitate the
routing of the Boers from Brakfontein and the taking and holding of
Doorn Kloof, if our communications through the valley were to be

There was no glory in trying to proceed in the teeth--nay, into the
jaws--of so overpowering a foe, a foe who was on the eve of outflanking
us. It would have been walking into a fiery furnace--into the pocket of
hell. Another council of war took place. Retirement was suggested.
General Hart, as distinguished for valour as General Lyttelton for brave
discretion, proposed the storming of Doorn Kop. He and his were ready
for everything: he had Ireland at his back. But Pat was not to be thrown
away on an impossible undertaking, and consequently the majority had
their way, and the retirement was effected. On Friday the whole glorious
persevering band were again across the Tugela, preparing to strike out
in a fresh direction.


Photo by Wilson, Aberdeen.]

The following is the list of casualties between the 5th and 7th of

     _Killed_:--1st Durham Light Infantry--Major Johnson Smith;
     Second Lieutenant Shafto.

     _Wounded_:--1st Durham Light Infantry--Lieut.-Colonel
     Fitzgerald; Captain Lascelles; Second Lieutenant Lambton;
     Second Lieutenant Appleby. 1st Rifle Brigade--Captain Thorp;
     Captain Talbot; Lieutenant Blewitt; Lieutenant Ellis;
     Lieutenant Sir T. Cunninghame, Bart. 3rd King's Royal
     Rifles--Lieutenant Sims. Royal Artillery--Lieut.-Colonel
     Montgomery, Captain Dawson, 78th Battery R.F.A. 2nd Scottish
     Rifles--Second Lieutenant Ferrars. 2nd West Yorkshire--Second
     Lieutenant Bicknell. 2nd East Surrey--Captain White. R.A.M.C.,
     Major Rose.


The fearful and ghastly activity of the 6th of January ceased with dusk.
Night descended: she came softly as the footsteps of angels moving
lightly among the tranquil dead. The moon, with pale white serenity,
looked down on the scene of carnage, so still, so appallingly still; and
the dots of twinkling stars seemed like a thousand eyes of heaven,
seeing and inquiring how the face of the fair earth could grow so
changed within a day. And everywhere there moved leaden hearts and feet
weary with the long strain of foregone hours. Hunger, exposure, and long
vigils had become a daily routine, but this close and sustained attack,
and the terrible havoc it had wrought on the weakening numbers, brought
with it new alarms. True, the bayonet, the trusty bayonet, had served
its turn, and might serve again, so long as strength would hold out. But
there were doubts. The Russian general Suvaroff once said, "The ball is
a fool, but the bayonet is a brick." He took it for granted that the
bayonet even must needs have a man, and not the ghost of a man, at the
back of it; and the poor heroes in Ladysmith were fast becoming shadows
of the hale and muscular fellows who had scaled the steeps of Talana
Hill and broken the echoes of Elandslaagte with the yell of victory.
Sadly and solemnly they now set themselves to the pathetic work of
removing the slain.

On the 7th of January one of the Boer medical officers rode in under a
Red Cross flag, requesting the burial of the British dead. A party
started to fulfil this sad office, and while they wandered about picking
up the melancholy mutilated forms, the Boers assisted in the task, and
in some cases helped to dig the graves and carry the slain; conversing
the while with such perfect amity, that it was almost impossible to
believe they were deadly foes. Deeply pathetic was the reading of the
solemn burial service by the commanding officer, for Britons and Boers
stood side by side, and one of the latter, moving apart, uttered a short
prayer that the war would soon be at an end. This was followed by the
singing of a hymn in Dutch, a quaint, simple, earnest solemnity, which
was vastly touching to all.

The curious blend of courage and pleasantness, of trickery and
barbarity, in the Boer character has been remarked upon before. It was
never more displayed than in the dealings of the Boers around Ladysmith.
On one day they would shell an hospital, or rather the Town Hall,
knowing it to serve as an hospital; on another they would treat the
wounded with almost brotherly consideration. For instance, one man in
the 19th Hussars, who was wounded on January 6, and subsequently taken
prisoner, gave a refreshing account of Boer manners. Though shot in the
arm, he remained at his post till dark, and then in the gloom mistook
his way to camp and wandered down the wrong side of the hill. He was
captured and detained till morning, while his wound was dressed and
cared for. Then he was sent back to camp armed with a tin of jam and a
box of chocolate! A somewhat similar experience was related by another
man, one of the Gordons, who was wounded and taken prisoner on Waggon
Hill early in the morning, and was removed in charge of an old Boer to a
place of safety half-way down the slope. From here he subsequently
escaped. In the _mêlée_ that followed the Devons' charge across the
plateau in the thick of the hailstorm, the Boers, shouting in Dutch that
the rooineks were upon them, stampeded, and consequently the prisoner
was left to his own devices. He thereupon rejoined the troops.


The Boers in the fight had been animated by unusual confidence. They had
seemed assured of victory. Their demeanour was cool and deliberate, some
of them doing an hour's firing while others put in a half-hour's nap
under cover of the rocks. All their preparations were made with a view
to spending Sunday in Ladysmith, and their tents were ready to be
pitched immediately they had obtained possession of the ridge. They, in
fact, firmly believed that they would make a repetition of Majuba, and
it was noticed that their tactics were identical with those observed on
that tragic occasion. Curiously enough, an exceedingly interesting relic
of Majuba came to hand. A rifle bearing the mark "Majuba" and the name
of the 58th Regiment was found on an old Boer. It had evidently been
captured on the fatal day when Colley fell.

Much regret was felt for the loss of Lord Ava, one of the cheeriest of
soldiers and most handsome and brilliant of men. He had served with the
17th Lancers, and had also cast in his lot with the irregulars in South
Africa under Methuen. He was essentially a sporting and a romantic
figure in all circles of London society, having resuscitated the
fortunes of Ranelagh and engaged himself actively in plans and projects
for the brightening of social life. He was moreover a general favourite,
and sympathy with Lord Dufferin on the loss of his promising heir was

Now that the rivers were flooded the service of native runners was
precarious, and less than ever was known of the outside world. But the
Boers were seen to be in active movement on the distant hills, and there
was a very general belief that the quiet that was enjoyed was due to
some advance movement on the part of General Buller that was demanding
the attention of the Dutchmen. This belief was confirmed by the sight of
two machine-guns which were being galloped off post-haste to a
destination unknown.

Since Christmas the prices had gone up. Eggs by the middle of January
were worth 19s. a dozen, and jam cost 6s. 6d. a tin. Condensed milk was
sold for 10s. a tin, other things, particularly medicines, were becoming
priceless. An appalling apathy almost approaching despair had settled on
the community. It was going on for three months since they had been shut
off from the outside world, during which their losses had exceeded 1500
in slain, wounded, and missing, yet they were no nearer release. Indeed,
each began to wonder whether death or Sir Redvers Buller's force would
reach them first. One month after another passed, and with them,
precious lives, yet little fuss was made, for death was a common
visitor. Much regret was felt at the loss on the 15th of the brilliant
author and correspondent of the _Daily Mail_, Mr. G. W. Steevens. His
was a young career, rich in promise. But death is a connoisseur--he
chooses the best. Only a few days before, Mr. Mitchell, sub-editor of
the _Johannesburg Star_, and Lieutenant Stabb (Naval Reserve) of the
_Times of India_, had been carried off by enteric fever; while young
Ferrand, sometime a correspondent of the _Morning Post_ and a trooper of
the Light Horse, fell in action on the 6th.


From a sketch by George Lynch, War Correspondent.

The hospital train is here shown on its way to Intombi Camp with its
daily load of sick and wounded.]

But soon a change came. Sounds of unusual guns reached their ears--ears
now well attuned to all the surrounding noises. Though news by heliogram
came slowly and at long intervals, all were conscious that something was

They were soon wild with excitement and anticipation. Not only could Sir
George White's garrison hear the distant thunder of the guns of the
relieving column, a sound which made heavenly music to their ears, but
from the lookout posts on the heights held by them they could
occasionally see the bursting of the shells fired by the Naval guns
from the region of Potgieter's Drift. The attention of the investing
force was now distracted; the Dutchmen were concentrating their energies
to repel the movement of the British troops on the Upper Tugela, and
continued to send reinforcements westward to meet the demand on their
resources there. But they strengthened their works on the north of the
town, added some more howitzers and fired a few shells by way of


Photo by Elliott & Fry, London.]

At this time impatience and anxiety arrived at an almost painful pitch.
Every soul was panting for the signal that might call upon them to
co-operate in the final tug-of-war which should set Ladysmith free.
Acutely were the movements of General Buller's relieving force watched
from the highest points in the town. Intense was the interest displayed
as every bursting shell threw forth its dense volumes of brown smoke,
and showed how the friendly lyddite worked to the rescue. The garrison
looked forth breathlessly for the coming of relief, hoping, praying,
doubting, fearing, with nothing to vary the ever-recurrent anguish of

At this date a journalist made a daring sortie on his own account, and
reached Durban in safety. He left with permission at nightfall on the
18th of January, and, guided by a wily Kaffir, made tracks for
Chieveley. Having gone about two miles to the east of Cæsar's Camp and
approached unwarily a Boer picket, he was promptly challenged. Then
ping! ping! ping! a swift whistling sound of Boer bullets, and silence!
The journalist, to use a sporting phrase, was lying "doggo." Not a shot
touched him. Flat on his stomach he remained for fully half an hour with
bated breath, then, when murmurs of the disquieted Boers ceased to
ruffle the night air, he resumed his way, groping on hands and knees,
and wishing fervently that he had taken lessons in deportment
earlier--from the quadrupeds. Perilous was the onward journey,
clambering and crawling up hill and down dale, and falling over rocks
and stones in the pitch darkness. Daylight saw him at the hut of a
friendly native not far from Chieveley, and here concealed, he spent
twenty-four hours of terrible suspense till it was time again to proceed
on his journey. The Boers almost discovered him. They called at the hut
for milk, absorbed it, and looked about suspiciously, while the man of
the pen was penned in amongst a heap of blankets, a perspiring mass,
quaking but safe.

Meanwhile with the rumour of battle in the air, hope revived. It
continued to increase as the British positions from the heights around
the town became visible--the newly gained positions on Swartz Kop and
the eminences near the Tugela at Potgieter's and Trichardt's Drifts.
Every red flash was like a smile of welcome--every roar of bursting
shrapnel seemed a very chorus of jubilation. To the ears of the
besieged the tremendous awe-striking cannonade appeared as the loved
assurance of Great Britain, their deliverer, saying, with grand majestic
tone, "I am coming." In the distance the Boers could be seen in frenzied
activity inspanning their waggons, and towards the evening they were
observed trekking northwards towards Van Reenan's Pass. Many conjectures
were rife, and subsequently on the 25th curiosity grew to fever heat.
Surely the British were in possession of Spion Kop! Decidedly they were
masters of the situation! Yet in the nek below, by the light of the
telescope, Boer camps could be seen on the plains; under cover of the
great hill Boer cattle were grazing. What could this mean? Had the Boers
gone and left everything to the mercy of their victors? or were they
merely in hiding, intending to return at nightfall, and remove their
valuables? Certainly the Burghers were to be viewed mounted and
decamping in the direction of the pass, and also winding strings of
waggons pursuing their slow way in the same direction. Still the riddle
remained unsolved. Night fell. The suspense grew more and more fevered;
it became almost a delirium. There was little sleep; then, when morning
dawned, there was more anxiety and more puzzling, more mental torture.
The Boers were as much in evidence as ever!

Disappointment may be borne with a show of spirit when the inner
machinery is well oiled, but the inhabitants of Ladysmith had no such
source of fortitude. True, they had fared, if not sumptuously, at least
practically, on horse-sausages, which were turned out wholesale from a
factory for the benefit of the troops, and on fairly nourishing soup
which was supplied in the same way; but of civilised food there was
none. Eggs had now gone up to 36s. a dozen, and a diminutive and
emaciated fowl could be purchased for 18s. These luxuries were for the
elect. For the mass a varying dietary of horse and mule was obligatory.
Vegetables were sold at a prohibitive price, and a case of whisky was
raffled for and fetched £145, so that "Dutch courage" wherewith to meet
their misfortune was unpurchasable.

Not till Sunday the 28th the fearful truth was learned, that Warren,
after holding Spion Kop, had retired, and left the Boers in undisturbed
occupation of their commanding position!

As all the latest events to the south were communicated to the garrison
as fast as they were made known to the chief, the news of the capture of
Spion Kop and the disappointing retirement therefrom was published in
general orders. Blank faces turned from each other, that none should see
the reflection of his own despondency. Intense had been the rapture of
the anxious inhabitants when they had heard the far-away booming of the
British guns, seen the splashing of British lyddite, watched the great
spouts of smoke that spoke of tremendous activity and their possible
salvation. Now their dismay was more than proportionate. After all their
agony--silence. Silence, so far as they were concerned. Mystery, doubt,
and agonising suspense--and now the news, the woeful news, that the
second splendid effort to break through the imprisoning Boer girdle had

Still the garrison was resolved to hold on to the last, preferring death
by starvation or disease rather than surrender. The malodorous
surroundings were borne with patience, the diminution of the supply of
medicines, watched with pathetic resignation. Nevertheless an untold
weariness crept over the unhappy sufferers, who spent their days huddled
underground and dreading to expose themselves in the open lest they
should be caught by a shell or "sniped" at by some Boer more
enterprising than the rest. How they longed, how they prayed for the
great hour! They believed in Buller; they knew he would come, they said
to themselves. But when, O when? And echo answered--When?


On the 10th of January Lord Roberts arrived. He was received by General
Sir F. Forestier Walker on behalf of Sir Alfred Milner. All the ships in
port were dressed, and there was immense excitement at the prospect of
better things. Many recalled to mind the occasion of the last coming of
the great little man, when, on the eve of a campaign to retrieve Majuba,
he found that the British Government, unknown to him, had arranged peace
on contemptible terms. At that time it was said he broke his sword in
indignation at the betrayal to which he had been subjected, and vowed
never again to serve under a British Government. Be this as it may--he
had now come at the earnest call of his country, and all felt that his
coming meant a turn in the wheel of fortune. After his arrival things
began gradually to unfold themselves, and the promise of decisive
movement was in the air.

Lord Roberts's decision to bring the Colonial volunteers to the support
of the Imperial forces was acknowledged to be a great move. The
Colonist's services were eminently to be desired, for he had taken the
Boer measure. He knew him in all the complex windings of his sinuous,
twisting nature. In some respects the Boer had been his lesson-book.
From him he had learned the necessity to be a good shot, a smart
horseman, and a long stayer. He followed the ins and outs of the
Dutchman's war game, and could practise the art of dodging round kopjes
and into dongas, hiding in scrub and disappearing from mortal ken at a
moment's notice, with the zest and agility of a schoolboy playing at
hide and seek, and with a certain enjoyment in the diamond-cut-diamond
sort of exercise.

On the 26th of January General Brabant arrived at Queenstown to take
over the command of the Colonial Division, and on the same day General
Kelly Kenny, commanding the Sixth Division, occupied Thebus, a position
on the railway between Middleburg and Stormberg Junction. This station
is situated about ninety miles from Colesberg, around which General
French so untiringly operated, and forty-five miles from Stormberg, the
scene of General Gatacre's disaster.

On the 1st of February the City of London Volunteers landed. Immediately
after their arrival at the Cape they were honoured by a visit from the
great man who was about to control the destinies of South Africa.
Gracefully he welcomed them, and said how little it had been imagined in
days gone by, the days when the Volunteer force had been established,
that any of its members would come to take part in a war in South
Africa. He expressed his belief that nothing was more calculated to
benefit the army than employment together on service of all its
component parts, and that these would learn to appreciate each other,
and acquire a spirit of comradeship which would have far-reaching
results. He reminded them that strangely enough the first Volunteers
left home three hundred years ago to fight for the Dutch, and arrived
just in time to save Flushing from the Spaniards. On this occasion they
would take an equally brilliant part in establishing peace, order, and
freedom in South Africa.


(Photo, Cribb, Southsea.)]

The members of the corps were delighted. Colonel Cholmondeley
expressed their thanks, and they all cheered right royally. They were
burning to get to the front, and, in spite of the sudden change of
temperature from British midwinter to tropical sunshine, their zeal to
be up and doing was unabated. They waited at the Cape to be joined by
the second detachment and receive their horses, after which they
entrained for the western border, where they were so soon to distinguish


Photo by Hosking, Cape Town.]

There was great satisfaction at the announcement that General Brabant
would command the Colonial corps. The class of men enlisting in
Brabant's Horse, the Imperial Horse, Bailey's Horse, and other of the
South African mounted corps was a superior one. The volunteers were
mostly well-to-do men, sons of farmers and Colonials who were residents
in the country, and were intimately acquainted with its geography.
Moreover, they were men and not striplings, and were averse from being
commanded by young officers who were absolutely without South African

It has been rumoured that the British officers and those of the
irregular troops have not always been in accord. The fact is, that one
is a master of discipline and the other a master of independence. The
Colonial is accustomed to habits of complete self-reliance; he expects
to be treated like an individual and not as a machine. Our military
system is a machine-made system, and one which, unluckily for us, has
been incapable of any of the smart plasticities which warfare with the
Boers has demanded. Colonial troops will be led, but they won't be
driven. They are composed of men of first-rate quality, but not men
accustomed blindly to obey orders. The Colonist obeys because of the
personal influence of a man or men whom he holds intellectually or
morally in esteem, but the word discipline for sheer discipline's sake
he is disinclined to understand. Among the ranks of the Colonials are
many men of wealth and influence, men of high character and good
education. These could not suddenly be treated in the same way as the
British regulars, who, being gifted with more dare-devil courage than
knowledge of the three R's, require to be welded together on a system. A
tactician once asked the question--What is the difference between an
army and a mob? and the general answered--"Discipline." It is discipline
that converts a rowdy British youngster into the glorious British Tommy
that he is. With the Colonial we have already the trained and
independent man, and the system of give and take is the only system that
can avert friction between men who, though brothers in blood, have, and
always must have, the special idiosyncrasies attendant on their
dissimilar forms of life.

Lord Roberts, recognising all this, with his usual diplomacy and
sympathy for those who serve the Queen, decided to form a bodyguard, to
accompany him to the front, of Colonials, the troops to be
representative of all the corps--volunteers, irregulars, &c. The guard
was to consist of Major Laing, an officer well versed and distinguished
in Colonial matters, a lieutenant, two sergeants and corporals, and
about forty picked troopers taken from the various irregular corps
already at the front. The men of the corps were to continue to wear
their own uniform, and merely to be distinguished by a badge. Preference
in choosing the members of the guard was given to men of Colonial birth,
good shots, riders, and scouts, who were well acquainted with all the
peculiarities of Colonial life.

To further show his appreciation of the services of the Colonials, Lord
Roberts appointed as extra aide-de-camp on his personal staff Colonel
Bryon of the Australian Artillery. He also sent telegrams to the
Governors of Victoria and New South Wales congratulating them on the
spirit of patriotism in Australia, and expressing his appreciation of
the useful and workmanlike troops that had been sent to assist in
restoring peace, order, and freedom in South Africa.


Photo by Knight, Aldershot.]

At this time the following correspondence between the Presidents of the
Transvaal and the Orange Free State and Lord Roberts was published at
the Cape. It began with a joint despatch from Presidents Steyn and
Kruger dated Bloemfontein, February 3, stating:--

     "We learn from many sides that the British troops, contrary to
     the recognised usages of war, have been guilty of destruction
     by burning and blowing up with dynamite farmhouses and
     devastating farms and goods therein, whereby unprotected women
     and children have often been deprived of food and shelter. This
     happens not only in places where barbarians are encouraged by
     British officers, but even in Cape Colony and in this State
     (Orange Free State), where white brigands come out from the
     theatre of war with the evident intention of carrying on
     general devastation without any reason recognised by the custom
     of war and without in any way furthering the operations. We
     wish earnestly to protest against such practices."

[Illustration: MR. KRUGER'S AUTOGRAPH]

In reply Lord Roberts wrote:--

     "I beg to acknowledge your Honours' telegram charging British
     troops with the destruction of property contrary to the
     recognised usages of war, and with brigandage and devastation.
     These charges are made in vague and general terms. No specific
     case is mentioned. No evidence is given. I have seen such
     charges made before now in the Press, but in no case which has
     come under my notice have they been substantiated. Most
     stringent instructions have been issued to British troops to
     respect private property so far as it is compatible with the
     conduct of military operations. All wanton destruction and
     injury to peaceful inhabitants are contrary to British practice
     and traditions, and will, if necessary, be vigorously repressed
     by me.

     "I regret that your Honours should have seen fit to repeat the
     untrue statement that barbarians have been encouraged by
     British officers to commit depredations. In the only case in
     which a raid has been perpetrated by native subjects of the
     Queen, the act was contrary to the instructions of the British
     officer nearest the spot, and entirely disconcerted his
     operations. The women and children taken prisoners by the
     natives were restored to their home by the agency of the
     British officer in question.

     "I regret to say it is the Republican forces which in some
     cases have been guilty of carrying on war in a manner not in
     accordance with civilised usage. I refer especially to the
     expulsion of loyal subjects of Her Majesty from their homes in
     the invaded districts because they refused to be commandeered
     by the invaders. It is barbarous to attempt to force men to
     take sides against their sovereign country by threats of
     spoliation and expulsion. Men, women, and children had to leave
     their homes owing to such compulsion. Many of those who were
     formerly in comfortable circumstances are now maintained by

     "That war should inflict hardships and injury on peaceful
     inhabitants is inevitable, but it is the desire of Her
     Majesty's Government and my intention to conduct this war with
     as little injury as possible to peaceful inhabitants and
     private property. I hope your Honours will exercise your
     authority to ensure that it is conducted in a similar spirit on
     your side."

Meanwhile the British Commander was rapidly maturing his plans. Troops
were pouring into the Cape and mysteriously departing none knew whither.
Great doings were in the air, and secret communications between Lord
Roberts and the wily General French--communications which Boer spies
endeavoured to intercept--promised that the splendid fastnesses hitherto
enjoyed by the enemy would not much longer serve to keep him from the
punishment that was his due.


[5] Colonel (local Major-General) E. R. P. Woodgate, who was in command
of the 9th Brigade, joined as Ensign in the 4th Foot on April 7, 1865,
and became Brevet-Colonel on June 26, 1897. He commanded a Regimental
District from September 1897 to April 1898; was on special service in the
Ashanti expedition from September 1873 to March 1874, also on special
service in South Africa from June 1878 to November 1879; was Brigade
Major in the West Indies from February 1880 to February 1885. He was
employed with the West African Regiment from April 9, 1898; with the
Abyssinian expedition in 1868; and was present at the capture of Magdala,
for which he received a medal. He served in the Ashanti war, 1873-74, and
was present at the actions of Essaman, Ainsah, Abrakrampa, and Faysoonah,
at the battle of Amoaful and capture of Coomassie. For these services he
received a medal with clasp. He also served through the Zulu campaign in
1879, at the action of Kambula and battle of Ulundi, and received a medal
with clasp and his brevet of Major; and in 1898 in West Africa, in
command of forces in expeditions against Sierra Leone insurgents. He was
fifty-four years of age.



    "Forty years had I in my city seen soldiers parading,
    Forty years as a pageant, till unawares the lady of this teeming
          and turbulent city,
    Sleepless amid her ships, her houses, her incalculable wealth,
    With her million children around her, suddenly,
    At dead of night, at news from the south,
    Incens'd struck with clinch'd hand the pavement.

    A shock electric, the night sustain'd it,
    Till with ominous hum our hive at daybreak pour'd out its myriads."

                                            --WALT WHITMAN.

The eyes of Europe, and indeed of the universe, turned upon the forces
at war in Natal with amazement almost akin to awe. There, in the eve of
the twentieth century, was presented a tenth wonder of the world! Where,
among the states, principalities, and powers, could be found another
example of an army being raised veritably from all points of the compass
to serve the Mother Country? Whence in the history of heroic ages could
be quoted the counterpart of spontaneous, simultaneous, exultant
patriotism such as was brought forth by a few reverses to British arms?
Here were men, brothers, whom we had never seen, whose names we had
never heard, rushing to our side--influential citizens, judges,
merchants, landowners in the distant dominions of the Queen--throwing
over domestic comfort, ease, commercial advantage, political
distinction, for the sheer desire to barter breath for fame, and to win
laurels in the cause of the Empire. Our friends--the Powers--gazed and
rubbed their eyes and marvelled! Our enemies--the Powers--gazed, rubbed
their eyes, and--well! if they did not curse, they certainly trod warily
and pondered! We were providing an object-lesson for eternity. The
infinitesimal little island, the bird's-nest of the Little Englanders,
was introducing to the nations her stalwart progeny--introducing with
the easy pride of motherhood gigantic sons, all young and strong and
well-grown, full of the vigour of youth and the finest traits of the
parent stock--a martial multitude, clamouring to defend her in her hour
of need! Yes, if our enemies--the Powers--did not curse, they walked
warily and pondered!

[Illustration: COLONEL W. D. OTTER.

Commanding the First Canadian Contingent.]

They did wisely, for by the beginning of March the number of Colonial
troops at the front was approximately as follows: Cape Colony, 15,000;
Natal, 7000; Canada, 2820; Ceylon, 130; New South Wales, 1800;
Queensland, 810; South Australia, 340; West Australia, 230; Victoria,
500; Tasmania, 180; New Zealand, 730; India, 250; total, 29,790. This
tremendous increase in the size of the Transvaal force was a magnificent
spectacle for the world at large. While it constituted the greatest
military concentration in the history of the Empire, it left the British
possessions in India, Malta, Crete, Barbadoes, Bermuda, Ceylon,
Hong-Kong, Gibraltar, and elsewhere, if not adequately, at least
powerfully defended. For instance, in India alone we had still a superb
British army. It was composed of forty-seven battalions of infantry, six
regiments of cavalry, sixty-two batteries of artillery, not to mention
the enormous Indian Army, of which the cavalry was styled by Lord Curzon
"the finest cavalry in the world." Even then we were not at the end of
our tether. Conscription was undreamt of. Our military resources had
barely been tested. The display of loyalty to the British flag, love for
the Mother Country, and an ardent desire to uphold her rights, had not
been confined to Great Britain's larger colonies. Small contingents for
South Africa had been offered by Jamaica and Trinidad and elsewhere, and
these, though gratefully acknowledged, had been refused, mostly in cases
where the contingents were not large enough to constitute a military
unit, and there might have been trouble in the movement of the force.

The growth of Colonial offers of assistance from the time--the 10th of
July--when Queensland sent an anticipatory telegram proposing military
aid, it is interesting to follow. Two days later, the 12th of July, came
a telegram from Lord Brassey at Victoria, saying that "offers have been
received from Volunteers for service in South Africa." Five days passed.
Then an offer of 300 men from the Malay States Guides arrived, the High
Commissioner intimating, however, that he could not spare them. Three
hundred Hausas from Lagos volunteered on the 18th of July. On the 21st
of that month New South Wales offered 1860 officers, non-commissioned
officers, and men. The offer of Hong-Kong on the 21st of September was
followed by New Zealand's Parliamentary resolution to send a Transvaal
Contingent. On the 5th of October Western Australia came forward, and on
the 9th Tasmania offered her unit. On the 13th the offers of troops from
South Australia and Canada were "gratefully accepted." Last, but not
least, came the offer of assistance from India, and additional help from
those whose aid had previously been given and acknowledged as

Thus, by degrees, the whole concourse of Great Britain's best was
gathered together, the flowers of her numerous flocks were drawn to a
common centre by the tie of blood and the pride of it--drawn to a far
quarter of the earth, there to demonstrate the crowning triumph of
British colonisation. The long-talked-of consolidation of the
Anglo-Saxon race for the welfare and freedom of humanity was no longer
an idealist's dream; it had become a living and a lasting reality!


     Early in the century the spirit of loyalty was developed in
     Canada. From her first years, when Wolfe made Canada a colony
     of Great Britain, the colonists began to recognise their debt
     to the British Crown. The feeling of reverence and love for the
     Mother Country strengthened and grew with the strength and
     growth of Canada itself, till the sentiment of Imperialism,
     always silently existing, suddenly found almost passionate
     utterance in the month of October 1899.

     What came to pass a great man had foreseen. Sir John Macdonald,
     who gauged aright the sentiment of the Canadians, described
     almost prophetically the expansion of that sentiment, and
     pointed out the developments that might be looked for in the
     future. In one of his pro-Confederation speeches he said:--

     "Some are apprehensive that the fact of our forming this
     Confederation will hasten the time when we shall be severed
     from the Mother Country. I have no apprehension of that kind. I
     believe it will have the contrary effect. I believe that as we
     grow stronger, as we become a people able, from our union, our
     population, and the development of our resources, to take our
     position among the nations of the world, she will be less
     willing to part with us than now. I am strongly of opinion that
     year by year, as we grow in population and strength, England
     will more see the advantage of maintaining the alliance between
     British North America and herself. Does any one imagine that
     when our population, instead of 3,500,000 will be 7,000,000, as
     it will be ere many years pass, we would be one whit more
     willing than now to sever the connection with England? The
     Colonies are now in a transition state. Gradually a different
     colonial system is being developed, and it will become year by
     year less a case of dependence on our part, and of overruling
     protection on the part of the Mother Country, and more a case
     of healthy and cordial alliance. Instead of looking upon us as
     a merely dependent colony, England will have in us a friendly
     nation, a subordinate but still a powerful people, to stand by
     her in North America in peace or in war."

     Many other prominent persons, Sir John Thompson, Sir Charles
     Tupper, Sir Wilfred Laurier, shared the same opinion, and
     confidently asserted that Great Britain had but to hold out her
     hand and the hand of Canada would go out to meet it with firm
     and cordial grasp.

     Then came the hour and the opportunity. Canada acted exactly as
     Canada's greatest men had expected her to act. She did not jump
     to action, for the idea of participating in the active affairs
     of the Empire had scarcely dawned upon her, but, the opening
     once made, Canada lost no time in availing herself of it. Great
     things have small beginnings, and the grand movement which has
     astonished the universe commenced in a simple manner.

     While the possibility of war drifted like a small cloud on the
     horizon, a certain Colonel Hughes, of Lindsay, Ontario, set to
     work to raise a volunteer regiment for possible service in
     South Africa. In September 1899 he openly expressed himself. In
     answer to energetic remonstrance he wrote, that "unless the
     Government of the Dominion showed itself patriotic enough to do
     its duty by the Imperial Government, he was justified in his
     action, the object of which was to assist in upbuilding the
     British Empire and rendering justice to one's
     fellow-countrymen, even at great sacrifice, and that as little
     delay as possible should result on the outbreak of hostilities
     in enrolling a corps." The idea, to use the popular phrase,
     "caught on." All the notabilities of the Dominion put their
     heads together, with the result that, early as October 3, the
     Canadian Military Institute in Toronto proposed to offer a
     Canadian Contingent to the British Imperial Government, in the
     event of a war breaking out with the Boers. It was also
     suggested and carried unanimously, that whereas all the
     expenses of the Canadian Contingent sent to the aid of the
     British troops in the Crimean War had been borne by the British
     Government, the expenses of the Contingent it was now proposed
     to send to South Africa, should be provided by the Dominion of
     Canada, that the Canadian Government should train, arm, equip,
     transport, and pay the force raised, and, if necessary, pension
     those deserving it. The offer of a Canadian Contingent was
     accordingly made through the Government to the British
     Government, who accepted it with two reservations--First, that
     the force raised should consist of 1000 men only; Second, that
     half the expenses of the Contingent should be met by the
     Imperial Government. To this the Canadians consented under
     protest, declaring, however, that should any further assistance
     be required during the course of the war, they would be ready
     and glad to send it.

     Thousands of volunteers offered their services, but only a
     limited number could be accepted. It was decided to allow each
     locality to have the honour of taking part in the patriotic
     movement, and the formation of companies was authorised as
     follows:--A Company, Manitoba and the North-West; B, London,
     Ontario; C, Toronto; D, Ottawa and Kingston; E, Montreal; F,
     Quebec; G, Fredericton and Prince Edward Island; H, Halifax.

     The men were thus gathered from all parts of Canada, the
     smaller towns sending from three to seven representatives each,
     and the larger ones supplying some regulars from the city
     regiments, in addition to volunteers. The enrolling and
     equipping of these 1000 volunteers, scattered as they had been
     over 3500 miles of territory, was accomplished in little more
     than a fortnight--a wonderful feat in view of the pacific times
     enjoyed by the Colonials.

     It was quite inspiriting to note the general activity. All the
     Dominion displayed its loyalty in deeds as well as words. Men
     living in idleness and comfort, professional men of standing,
     family men with innumerable ties, came to the fore and
     volunteered their services; while employers assisted the
     splendid movement by offering facilities to those serving them
     who might care to enlist. Every soul insisted on taking his
     share in the Imperial doings. Those who could not volunteer
     united their efforts and showed their loyalty by showering
     gifts on the battalion. The officers and men of every company
     were presented at their own headquarters with a sum of money
     varying according to rank, but in each case of substantial
     value, as a contribution to their warlike needs. Every officer
     received from public subscriptions a field-glass, revolver, and
     $125 in money. Privates were presented with a silver match-box
     and $25. The Bank of Ottawa contributed $1000 for the purchase
     of delicacies for the men on their sea-voyage. In addition to
     this generosity, firms of all kinds sent in their own
     manufacture, life insurances were effected on special terms for
     officers and men of the battalion covering compensation for
     partial disablement, and the telegraph and telephonic companies
     liberally agreed to transmit private messages for all connected
     with the Contingent free of charge.

     The mobilisation and concentration at Quebec of the composite
     battalion was no mean undertaking, but it was accomplished by
     the 27th of October. On the following night a dinner to the
     officers was given, and later, a smoking concert.

     On the 29th the special service battalion attended divine
     service, the Catholics at the Cathedral, the Roman Catholics at
     the Basilica. The sermon given at the Cathedral was a notable
     one, and served to mark the historical nature of the occasion.
     Among other things, the Rev. J. G. Scott expressed himself of
     sentiments that all might do well to read, mark, learn, and
     inwardly digest. He said: "What is the Empire of which we are a
     part? It is not a mere collection of subservient peoples adding
     to the revenue and importance of a small island to the
     north-west of Europe. No; it is much more than that. It is a
     vast federation of peoples of all nations, tongues, languages,
     and creeds joined together in 'liberty, equality, and
     fraternity,' by common laws and a common love to their real or
     their adopted mother. England and England's flag must remain
     the symbol of our common patriotism. But the British Empire,
     the Empire of the future, the Empire rising with the sun of a
     new century, is founded in deeper principles than mere
     sentimental devotion to the land of our fathers. The principle
     underlying it is the liberty and brotherhood and welfare of
     man. We conquer and advance. Wild lands come under our sway.
     Savage races are subjugated or turn to us for protection. But
     all with what result? With the result that the waste lands are
     cultivated, the hidden mines of the earth yield up their
     treasures, continents are spanned by vast railways and the bed
     of ocean by electric cables, with the result that the savage is
     brought under the yoke of civilisation, and religion,
     education, and commerce raise him almost to the level of a
     European. But this progress has not been, nor can it be,
     unaccompanied by difficulties. At the present time our race in
     its general advance is brought face to face with forces that
     retard, not merely the growth of the British Empire, but the
     principles of freedom and humanity which underlie it. The
     nineteenth century is confronted in South Africa with a remnant
     of the seventeenth. Our brethren, oppressed by an intolerable
     tyranny, cry to us for help, and we, a republic under a
     monarchical form, go to crush a despotism under the form of a

     This last phrase was a masterpiece, one that all who have
     enjoyed the liberty, fraternity, and equality of our republican
     empire can fully appreciate. Continuing, the preacher went on
     to say: "Surely, if we go forth firmly, fearlessly, and
     mercifully to fight in such a cause, we can feel, like Israel
     of old, that 'the Eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are
     the everlasting arms, and that He will thrust out the enemy
     from before us.' And you, my brethren, who are privileged to go
     forth under the flag of our Queen and the Empire, are the
     representatives of a great people, formed of various creeds,
     and nationalities, and languages, but blended in a common law
     and a common love for the liberty which makes men--men. The
     call to arms from the Motherland has sent a thrill to the four
     corners of the earth. The Empire, which has been knit together
     by community of race, by commerce, by railways and by cables,
     is to be drawn now into an absolutely indissoluble bond by the
     voluntary sacrifice of blood and life on a common battlefield.
     No ordinary departure of troops to the front is yours. You are
     the pioneers of a new era in our history. The importance of
     this day is not to be measured, any more than was the
     importance of the great battle in the Plains hard by, according
     to numerical computation. We have taken a step, a step on the
     threshold of another century, which is destined in time to put
     an end to the distinction of Colony and Motherland, and will
     finally give us a voice in the conduct of the Empire. Surely,
     to those going forth as champions in a noble cause, I cannot do
     better than to commend to you individually the watchword of
     Israel's--nay, of England's strength, 'The Eternal God is thy
     refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.' There may
     come moments to some of you, in the irksomeness of discipline,
     in the pause before the battle-charge, in the silence of lonely
     picket duty, or during sleepless nights on the hospital pallet,
     when the memory of the parting service in these hallowed
     walls--walls which, during this century, have seen many heroes
     arm at the call of duty--will come back to you with the comfort
     which even the bravest need, and you will feel that in life and
     death 'the Eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the
     everlasting arms.' Then, like the knights of old, consecrate
     to-day your hearts and swords to God's service, and you who are
     communicants draw near to the altar of God and receive the
     strength which comes from the Body and Blood of Christ. You are
     not a wild horde let loose in savage warfare, but Christian men
     armed for a great cause. Keep then your lives pure--pure as the
     memories of your Canadian home. Be sober, as men who can face
     danger without artificial courage. Let the talk at mess and in
     camp be clean, and above all remember to pay regularly the
     daily homage of prayer to your Heavenly Father. Do not be
     ashamed to confess Christ before men."

     These heart-stirring words found their echo in every
     breast--the great body of patriotic volunteers was thrilled
     through with the ambition to do great deeds in a great way, to
     go forth and write their names in blood, if need be, alongside
     of those of their brothers of the Anglo-Saxon race whose
     records loomed large and indelible upon the scrip of Time.

     In the evening the Governor-General entertained the superior
     officers and staff at dinner, and on the following morning the
     last parade was held. Major-General Hutton, commanding the
     Canadian Militia, commenced his inspection at 11.30. At noon
     the Governor-General, the Premier, Sir Wilfred Laurier, and
     other members of the Cabinet arrived on the ground. His
     Excellency addressed the men as follows: "Colonel Otter,
     officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the Canadian
     Contingent, I congratulate you on the splendid appearance of
     your regiment on parade, and Canada may justly be proud of her
     representative troops. But, Colonel Otter, the force you
     command represents a great deal more than a serviceable
     regiment on parade. We are standing here upon historic ground,
     under the ramparts of the old city of Quebec, surrounded by
     celebrated battlefields, and in an atmosphere full of the
     glorious traditions of two great nations--nations who,
     respecting each other's warlike qualities on many a hard-fought
     field, have now joined in common loyalty to their Queen and
     Empress. Your companies have been gathered from British
     Columbia to the Atlantic coast, from the settlers in the Rocky
     Mountains and the Far West, from Ontario and the Maritime
     Provinces, and from the old French families of Quebec. They
     represent the manhood of the Dominion from the west to the
     east, but, above all, they represent the spontaneous offer of
     the people of Canada, British born and French Canadian, to the
     Mother Country. The people of Canada have shown no inclination
     to discuss the quibbles of Colonial responsibility; they have
     only unmistakably asked that their loyal offers should be made
     known, and they rejoice in their gracious acceptance. In so
     doing surely they have opened a new chapter in the history of
     our Empire; they have freely made their military gift to an
     Imperial cause, to share the privations, and the dangers, and
     the glories of an Imperial army. They have insisted on giving
     vent to the expression of that sentimental Imperial unity which
     may, perhaps, hereafter prove more binding than any written
     Imperial constitution. The embarkation of your force, Colonel
     Otter, to-day will mark a memorable epoch in the history of
     Canada and the Empire. Of the success of your future we have no
     doubt; we shall watch your departure with very full hearts, and
     shall follow your movements with eager enthusiasm. All Canada
     will long to see the Maple Leaf well to the front, and to give
     her Contingent a glorious welcome home again. And now, as the
     representative of Her Majesty, I wish you God speed and every

     Lord Minto then called on the men to give three cheers for the
     Queen, which they did with all the zest of lusty Anglo-Saxon

     Sir Wilfrid Laurier then addressed the regiment. He reminded
     them they were going to obey the call of duty, that their cause
     was the cause of justice, the cause of humanity and of
     civilisation. Men of our own race were being unjustly
     oppressed, and the troops were going forth in the interests of
     the Empire and of liberty. He rejoiced to see the alacrity with
     which Canadians had responded to the call and rushed to the aid
     of the great Empire of which all were so proud. He wished them
     God speed, and expressed his confidence that they would be an
     honour to themselves and to their native land.

     Major-General Hutton impressively assured the troops that their
     honour was Canada's honour, that their renown was Canada's
     renown; and though strain and hardships might be great, they
     would remember that in the far-off Dominion thousands of men
     and women looked to the Royal Canadian Regiment to uphold the
     honour of their native land. French Canadians and English
     Canadians must recollect the responsibility that would rest
     upon their shoulders, and he knew they would acquit themselves
     well of their duties.

     Then followed an address by the Hon. S. Parent, Mayor of
     Quebec. He read: "The citizens of Quebec offer you the most
     cordial welcome in this old fortress, so often stormed by war
     and tempest, whose inhabitants, from their earliest years, have
     been accustomed to the music of military bands, to the smell of
     powder and the smoke of battles. We are proud of the honour
     that has been done our city in its selection as the scene of
     the mobilisation of this select regiment which the Canadian
     people send to the assistance of our Mother Country. The
     presence in our midst of the representative of our Most
     Gracious Sovereign, His Excellency the Governor-General, and
     other dignitaries of the State, adds not only lustre and
     _éclat_ to this day's ceremony, but gives to our proceedings a
     deeper and wider meaning. It was no vain appeal that was made
     to our valour and our loyalty, for along the way from Victoria
     to Halifax, a thousand picked men, representing the youth,
     physical strength, the discipline and the courageous daring of
     our people, freely volunteered to serve under the British flag.
     The people of various origin and different religious creeds
     that go to make up the population of this country are
     represented in your regiment, and now that we are, for the time
     being, assembled within the walls of the most French city of
     the New World, let us claim for the French-Canadian element a
     large share of the warm and spontaneous outburst of sentiments
     of loyalty to England which marked your triumphal passage from
     your homes to Quebec. No matter how diverse may be our origin
     and the languages that we speak, who is there that will dare to
     affirm that we have not all the qualities necessary for the
     making of a real nation? Who dare say, upon such an occasion as
     the present, that we are not all sincerely united and loyal
     towards the Canadian Dominion, and loyal to England which has
     given us so complete a measure of liberty? We French-Canadians
     have loyally accepted the new destinies that Providence
     provided for us upon the battlefield of 1759. Is it possible
     that anybody can have forgotten 1775 and 1812? On the summit of
     this proud rock of Quebec, rendered illustrious by Jacques
     Cartier and Champlain, behold, but a few steps from this place,
     the superb monument erected by an English Governor to the
     memory of Wolfe and of Montcalm! Why may we not make it the
     emblem and the symbol of our national unity? Let us leave to
     each individual amongst us the privilege to retain, as a sweet
     souvenir worthy of a noble heart, the rose, the thistle, the
     fleur-de-lys, or the shamrock, and even the pot of earth that
     the Irish immigrant brings with him from under distant skies,
     and let us be united for the great and holy cause that we have
     in hand: the foundation of a great nation and the development
     of the boundless resources of a rich and immense country. Our
     best wishes accompany you in the long journey, at the end of
     which you will, no doubt, find glory as well as suffering,
     privations, and perhaps even heroic sacrifices. When you will
     be under the burning sun of Africa, you may be sure that our
     hearts will follow you everywhere, and that in our long winter
     evenings you will be the principal object of our fireside talk
     and solicitude. Be quite sure, too, that this Canada of ours
     will watch with a maternal care over the loved ones that you
     leave behind you, and who, in parting with you, are making so
     great and generous a sacrifice. May the God of battles crown
     your efforts! May He preserve you in the midst of danger! And
     may He bring you back safe and sound to the beloved shores of
     your fatherland!"

     Never was more impressive scene, and even the stoutest warriors
     among the audience were thrilled with the consciousness of the
     solemnity of the moment, the sacredness of their future duty.
     Colonel Otter, who was much moved, replied as a
     soldier--briefly, but to the point. He thanked all around for
     their goodwill, and expressed his confidence that the Canadian
     Contingent would do its duty and do honour to the land of its

     The list of the principal officers was as follows:--

     To command--Lieut.-Colonel W. D. Otter, Canadian Staff, A.D.C.
     to His Excellency the Governor-General. To be Major and second
     in command--Lieut.-Colonel L. Buchan, Royal Canadian Regiment.
     To be Major--Lieut.-Colonel O. C. C. Pelletier, Canadian Staff.
     To be Adjutant--Major J. C. M'Dougall, Royal Canadian Regiment.
     To be Quartermaster--Capt. and Brevet-Major S. J. A. Denison,
     Royal Canadian Regiment. To be Medical Officers--Surgeon-Major
     C. A. Wilson, 3rd Field Battery, C.A.; Surgeon-Major E. Fiset,
     89th Batt. To be attached for Staff duty--Major L. G. Drummond,
     Scots Guards, Military Secretary to His Excellency the
     Governor-General. A Company (British Columbia and
     Manitoba).--To be Captain--Capt. M. G. Blanchard, 5th Regt.
     C.A. Major H. M. Arnold, 90th Batt.; Capt. A. E. Hodkins,
     Nelson R. Co.; Lieut. S. P. Layborn, R.C.R.I. B Company
     (London)--Major Duncan Stuart, 26th Batt.; Capt. J. C. Mason,
     10th Batt.; Capt. J. M. Ross, 22nd Batt.; Second Lieut. R. H.
     M. Temple, 48th Highlanders. C Company (Toronto)--Capt. R. K.
     Barker, Q.O.R.; Lieut. J. C. Ogilvie, R.C.A.; Lieut. W. R.
     Marshall, 13th Batt.; Lieut. G. S. Wilkie, 10th Batt. D Company
     (Ottawa and Kingston)--Major S. M. Rogers, 43rd Batt.; Capt. W.
     T. Lawless, G.G.F.G.; Lieut. R. G. Stewart, 43rd Batt.; Lieut.
     A. C. Caldwell, 42nd Batt. E Company (Montreal)--Capt. A. H.
     Macdonell, R.C.R.I.; Capt. C. K. Fraser, 53rd Batt.; Lieut. A.
     E. Swift, 8th Batt.; Lieut. A. Laurie, P. of W. R. F Company
     (Quebec)--Capt. J. E. Pelletier, 65th Batt.; Capt. H. A. Panet,
     R.C.A.; Lieut. L. Leduc, R.C.R.I.; Lieut. E. A. Pelletier, 55th
     Batt. G Company (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island)--Major
     W. A. Weeks, Charlottetown Engineers; Capt. F. C. Jones, 3rd
     Regt. C.A.; Lieut. J. H. Kaye, R.C.R.I.; Second Lieut. C. W. W.
     M'Lean, 8th Hussars. H Company (Halifax)--Capt H. B. Stairs,
     66th Batt.; Capt. H. E. Burstall, R.C.A.; Lieut. R. B. Willis,
     66th Batt.; Second Lieut. J. C. Oland, 63rd Batt. Machine-Gun
     Section--Lieut. and Capt. A. C. Bell, Scots Guards, A.D.C. to
     the Major-General commanding the Canadian Militia.

     The following officers were attached to the Royal Canadian
     Regiment for whatever duty might be allotted to them in
     connection with the campaign: Lieut.-Colonel F. L. Lessard,
     Royal Canadian Dragoons; Lieut.-Colonel C. W. Drury, A.D.C.,
     Royal Canadian Artillery; Major R. Cartwright, Royal Canadian
     Regiment; Capt. W. Forester, Royal Canadian Dragoons. Medical
     officer--Capt. A. B. Osborne, C.A.M.S. (provisional).

     By five o'clock in the afternoon all was over. The great ship
     _Sardinian_, with slow dignity, as though conscious of the
     gallant burden she was bearing to battle, sailed out into the
     great immensity of sea and sky. Cheers rent the air, tears--the
     tears not of personal grief, but of sympathetic
     patriotism--dimmed every eye. Many sorrowed, but many more were
     overwhelmed with sheer joy and pride to see this goodly throng
     going forth to do martial deeds, and bring back laurels to
     crown the land that Wolfe had made glorious. Slowly and with
     precision the minute guns boomed from the Citadel, loudly, the
     bands played the well-loved tunes, the "Maple Leaf" and "God
     Save the Queen." Swiftly now sped the _Sardinian_, flaunting
     her gay decorations, and bearing on the bosom of the water a
     thousand of Canada's best, a thousand brave hearts and true.


     After the departure of the first Contingent the loyalty of
     Canada continued to increase. Every incident of the war was
     carefully watched and discussed, the great deeds that were on
     foot found lavish appreciation. At numerous meetings which took
     place in various parts of Canada the spirit of the country was
     described by such declarations as: "We, too, are loyal Britons,
     and our patriotism is at its best when our country needs us

     On November 7th Canada made the offer to the British Government
     of a second Contingent for South Africa, and on December 18th
     Sir Wilfred Laurier received a cablegram from Mr. Joseph
     Chamberlain accepting the offer. As one of the Canadian
     Ministry afterwards said, "It did not take much more than five
     minutes for the Cabinet to decide that the Hon. F. W. Borden,
     Minister of Militia, should immediately instruct his officers
     at the Militia Department to go on with the preparations for
     sending the second Contingent." The fact was that most of the
     details had been ready for a month and more. The Minister of
     Militia had early come to the conclusion that a second
     Contingent of Canadians should be gathered together in the form
     of cavalry or mounted infantry and artillery.

     The first to be given a chance of enlisting for South Africa
     were the Mounted Police. Forty-eight hours later steps were
     taken towards recruiting 200 Prairie Cowboys, men who could
     ride and shoot as well as any cavalrymen in the world, and who
     are accustomed to subsisting on the scantiest of rations. Next
     came the Royal Canadian Dragoons, regulars, who were mounted on
     well-trained horses, and so well drilled as to make it possible
     for every man of them to instruct the less trained recruits
     during the voyage. The Boers having a healthy horror of the
     lance as a cavalry weapon, it was decided that half at least of
     Canada's cavalry should be given this arm.

     HORSE, ON LEAVING OTTAWA, 19th JAN. 1900.

     Drawing by J. H. Bacon, from Photo by J. C. Hemment.]

     It was considered that the Cowboys, and such "Plainsmen of the
     West" as Herchmer's Horse, _broncho busters_ who had never been
     conquered by man or horse, would be specially valuable in the
     style of warfare affected by the Boers. With nerves of steel
     and thews of wire, they could speak without boasting of their
     capacity for putting in thirty-six hours consecutively in the
     saddle, and for living "on the smell of an oiled rag."

     Ardent volunteers who had failed to get a place in the first
     Contingent now rushed forward from every side. The sole
     disappointment was, that only a limited number could be
     accepted, and those must all be mounted men or artillery.

     The wild enthusiasm aroused by the brave and splendid work of
     that portion of the first Canadian Contingent which was with
     Colonel Pilcher in South Africa, and the inspiring accounts
     given by the correspondent of the _Toronto Globe_, resulted in
     more volunteering, and a third Contingent could easily have
     been raised, even after the rigorous medical examination had
     rejected numbers.

     The people of Canada responded nobly to the call for funds to
     provide for the families of their volunteers on service in
     South Africa, the large amounts subscribed by the Banks of
     Montreal and British North America, followed by donations of
     15,000 dollars by the Canadian Pacific Railway and 2000 dollars
     by Holsen's Bank, having served to stimulate action in this
     direction. The City Council of Toronto insured for 1000 dollars
     the lives of all the 123 men they had sent to form part of the
     second Contingent.

     On January 19, the Dominion Government, in a house which
     cheered itself hoarse in response to patriotic speeches,
     decided to offer, if required, 12,000 men to the Imperial
     Parliament for service in South Africa. Lord Strathcona
     meantime, at his own expense, raised a mounted battalion for
     service, which was to be ready to sail on February 10 for South
     Africa, the War Office having given their consent to the
     formation of the corps. The matter was placed in the hands of
     the Hon. Dr. Borden, Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence,
     who was given a free hand to recommend officers, organise and
     equip the corps, Lord Strathcona reserving only the right to
     reject or confirm his decisions.

     The following officers left for the front at the end of
     January: Officers of D Battery--Major W. G. Hurdman, Capt. D.
     J. V. Eaton; Lieutenants, first section, T. W. Vantuyl; second
     section, J. M'Crea; third section, E. W. B. Morrison. Officers
     of E Battery--Major G. H. Ogilvie; Capt. R. Costigan;
     Lieutenants, first section, W. F. Murray; second section, A. T.
     Ogilvie; third section, W. G. Good. Officers attached for
     duty--Captain H. J. Uniacke; Adjutant, Captain H. C. Thatcher;
     Medical Officer, Surgeon-Major A. Worthington; Veterinary
     Officer, Veterinary-Major Massie. These were followed by
     Regimental Staff Commander Lieut.-Colonel Herchmer; Adjutant
     Lieut. Montague Baker; Transport Officer, Lieut. Eustace;
     Quartermaster, Captain Allan; Medical Officer, Surg.-Capt.
     Devine; Veterinary Officer, Lieut. R. Riddell. In command of
     squadrons, Majors Howe and Sanders; Captains Cuthbert and
     Macdonnell; Lieutenants Begin, Davidson, Wroughton, Cosby,
     Chalmers, Taylor, and Inglis.

     When the mounted section of the second Canadian Contingent,
     numbering eighty men, started, some twelve extra men were
     invited to volunteer. To meet the demand no less than 400
     applicants, many of them men of independent means, instantly
     came forward. Here was a remarkable proof of martial spirit, of
     devotion to the cause of the Mother Country. Vanity some said
     it was. Any way, it was a vanity fringing on the sublime.

     It is interesting to note, that before the gallant members of
     the second Contingent left for Halifax they were presented with
     guidons by Lady Minto, the gifts being inscribed with the motto
     of the Elliot clan--"Wha daur meddle wi' me." This delicate
     mark of attention was highly appreciated by the men.

     Early in February the Mounted Bushmen's Corps of 300 men and
     horses started for the Cape. All the Canadians, volunteers it
     must be remembered, were picked men from all parts of the
     Dominion, and with them were scouts from British Columbia, who,
     for the most part, were recruited from the Mounted Police of
     the North-West and from Cowboys. Being about the smartest
     riders and best shots in the world, it was felt that they would
     distinguish themselves in the war game as played by the Boers.

     Among those at the front prominently connected with Canada was
     Captain Kirkpatrick, Royal Engineers, who was attached to the
     staff of Sir Redvers Buller. This officer is a graduate of the
     Royal Military College, Kingston, and on leaving that
     institution received a commission in the Royal Engineers. When
     the war broke out, Captain Kirkpatrick was ordered from Malta
     to South Africa, where he commanded the Fortress Company of the
     Royal Engineers. Major Denison, a prominent officer in the
     Royal Canadian Infantry, who had personal charge of the
     recruiting for the first Canadian Contingent, and was appointed
     quartermaster to the battalion at Quebec, had the honour in
     January of being appointed aide-de-camp on the staff of Lord

     Another of the patriotic band was Colonel Girouard (the French
     Canadian of Egyptian fame), who assisted Lord Kitchener and the
     Engineers in marvellous operations along the line of rail. This
     officer has achieved a glorious reputation, one which has been
     declared to be a closer bond between French Canada and Great
     Britain than any words. Another honoured Canadian, who was
     mortally wounded in the attack near Spearman's Camp on the 20th
     of January, was Captain Hensley (Dublin Fusiliers). This
     gallant officer was born at Charlottetown and educated at
     King's College, Windsor, whence he passed into the Royal
     Military College.

     Major-General Hutton, commanding the Canadian Militia, early in
     the year was selected for special service in South Africa. No
     better officer could have been chosen. He had ample experience
     of the subject in hand, as he himself stated in speaking to the
     Canadian Contingent before their departure: "It was my lot to
     have seen two campaigns in South Africa, including the campaign
     against the Boers in 1882. It was also--I was going to say my
     privilege--it was certainly not my pleasure--to have been at
     Pretoria at the time the present Convention was made; and I
     therefore know their leaders, and a little something--I may say
     almost too much--of South Africa and the Transvaal, and
     therefore I recognise perhaps more clearly than many of you do
     the very great difficulties and the dangers which our
     Contingent and the Imperial troops in South Africa are exposed


     Strathcona's Horse, consisting of 530 men and 560 horses, was
     commanded by Colonel Steele of the North-West Mounted Police.
     He is regarded as an ideal officer for a scouting force, and
     his men were all picked men, the cream of the expert riders and
     riflemen of the Dominion. Morally and physically they were
     declared to be the best soldiers that have ever been enrolled
     in Canada. Their mounts were small shaggy bronchos, but sturdy
     long stayers. In regard to Lord Strathcona's timely generosity
     it is impossible to say enough--the general appreciation of his
     splendid and patriotic act is expressed in the following
     resolution, which was adopted by the Executive Committee of the
     British Empire League in Canada: "That the Executive Committee
     of the British Empire League in Canada has heard with
     unqualified satisfaction of the magnificent undertaking of Lord
     Strathcona and Mount Royal, a Vice-President of this League, to
     raise, equip, and support, at his entire expense, a corps of
     mounted troops composed of Canadians for service for the Empire
     in the South African war, and desires to place on record its
     enthusiastic appreciation of his patriotic munificence, and is
     certain that his work will yet further convince the rest of the
     Empire of Canada's devotion to the cause." Speaking of this
     noble promoter of his country's weal, Lieutenant Cooper,
     Q.V.R., said: "Generously has the British Empire done by Lord
     Strathcona, and generously and freely has Lord Strathcona done
     by the Empire. Under the ægis of the Union Jack in Scotland,
     Donald Alexander Smith spent the first eighteen years of his
     life. In 1838 he entered the service of the Hudson's Bay
     Company, and learned the intricacies of North American trade in
     Labrador and the North-West. In later years he took a prominent
     part in the organisation of the Canadian Government in the
     newly-acquired Rupert's Land, and was intimately connected with
     the early official days of Manitoba and the North-West
     Territories. After representing Montreal for two terms in the
     Dominion Parliament, he was appointed Canadian High
     Commissioner in London, England, a position which he still
     fills to the satisfaction of the Canadian people. In 1897 he
     was raised to the peerage as Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal
     of Glencoe and Montreal."

     The force, equipped after the manner of other mounted troops,
     and not armed with lances, was paid by Lord Strathcona until it
     landed in South Africa, when it was taken over by the Imperial
     Government. As in the case of the Contingents from the various
     Colonies, the officers of the corps were appointed as follows:
     S. B. Steele, gent., Canadian North-West Mounted Police, to be
     Lieut.-Colonel, with the temporary rank of Lieut.-Colonel in
     the army. To be Majors, with the temporary rank of Major in the
     army: Lieut. R. C. Laurie, Canadian Militia Reserve of
     Officers; R. Belcher, Inspector Canadian North-West Mounted
     Police; A. M. Jarvis, Inspector Canadian North-West Mounted
     Police; A. E. Synder, Inspector Canadian North-West Mounted
     Police. D. M. Howards, Canadian North-West Mounted Police, to
     be Captain, with the temporary rank of Captain in the army. To
     be Lieutenants, with the temporary rank of Lieutenant in the
     army: Major G. W. Camden, Canadian Militia; Captains R. M.
     Courtney, Canadian Militia; J. J. Macdonald, Canadian Militia;
     E. F. Mackie, Canadian Militia; Lieutenants T. E. Pooley,
     Canadian Militia; R. H. B. Magee, Canadian Militia Reserve of
     Officers; Second Lieutenant P. Fall, Canadian Militia; F. L.
     Cartwright, Inspector Canadian North-West Mounted Police; A. E.
     Christie, Inspector Canadian North-West Mounted Police; J. E.
     Leckie, Graduate Royal Military College, Kingston, Canada; A.
     W. Strange, gent., late Canadian Militia. Lieutenant M. P.
     Cotton, Canadian Militia, to be Lieutenant for Machine-Gun
     Detachment, with the temporary rank of Lieutenant in the Army.
     W. Parker, Canadian North-West Mounted Police, to be
     Quartermaster, with the temporary rank of Lieutenant in the
     army. C. B. Keenan, gent., M.D., to be Medical Officer, with
     the temporary rank of Captain. Dr. M'Millan of Brandon was
     appointed Veterinary Surgeon for the Strathcona Horse. His
     assistant was Mr. Millican, of Rapid City, Manitoba.

     The regiment was recruited from a territory covering a million
     square miles, some men having travelled from Yukon and the
     Peace River district in order to enlist. Many distinguished men
     were among them. In one troop were to be found Mr. Beresford
     (formerly a Naval officer), cousin of the Marquis of Waterford;
     Mr. Warren, son of Colonel Warren, R.H.A.; Mr. Shaw, son of a
     Baronet; Mr. O'Brien, a kinsman of Lord Inchiquin; Hon. Mr.
     Cochrane, son of the now notable Lord Dundonald; and Lord
     Seymour. Colonel Steele (N.W.M.P.), in command of the corps,
     is a son of a Captain in the Royal Navy. He was born in Canada,
     and is noted for his bravery and devotion to duty. Major
     Belcher, a notable swordsman and lancer, was for some years in
     the 9th Lancers. The troops received an enthusiastic send off,
     and multitudes gathered together to do honour to the latest
     addition of Great Britain's army. Several beautiful guidons
     were presented to the corps by the ladies of Ottawa. Each was
     made of crimson silk, with a broad white stripe through the
     centre, on which was embroidered in crimson letters,
     "Strathcona's Horse." On the upper crimson bar was Lord
     Strathcona's motto, "Perseverance," done in crimson on a white
     garter. Above the garter was a Baron's coronet and tiny brown
     beaver on a green maple leaf. On the lower crimson bar was the
     squadron's designation.


     New South Wales fell into line with the other Australasian
     Colonies, and decided to send a military force for service with
     the Imperial army in South Africa.

     The New South Wales Lancers, who had been in training at
     Aldershot, were the first to start. They were then about to
     return home, but were stopped _en route_, and proceeded to the
     Cape. Of their number some few refused to serve and went home,
     but on arrival many offered to return to the front. The rest
     gave satisfactory reasons for being unable to do so.
     Subsequently another Contingent was sent, and also the Bushmen
     Corps, at least 1000 strong. It was composed of men who could
     ride well, shoot splendidly, and were accustomed to camping out
     and roughing it in pursuit of their usual vocations. It must be
     noted that this was not the first time that New South Wales had
     come to the assistance of the Mother Country. A force went to
     Egypt in the earlier Soudan wars, when one man was wounded.
     Some discontent at that time was shown owing to the troops not
     being allowed to go to the front. On this occasion they were to
     serve and fare as the Imperial troops, and to be considered as
     such while in the field.

     Each Contingent was composed of--1st, N.S.W. Lancers; First
     Australian Horse; N.S.W. Artillery; Mounted Rifles; Infantry,
     who, being good horsemen, were subsequently mounted by the
     Imperial Government. 2nd Contingent consisted of three Mounted
     Rifle units of 125 men each, one unit of Australian Horse of
     100 men (475), one Battery of Artillery--18 officers, 175 men,
     140 horses (629). The total of the New South Wales troops at
     the front in February amounted to 1331 men.

     Though not at first very enthusiastic in expressions of
     patriotism, New South Wales soon became strong in deeds.
     Enthusiasm became epidemical. Mr. Lyne, the Premier, threw
     himself into the movement, and rapidly pushed forward the
     arrangements, and did all in his power to move in sympathy with
     the patriotic feelings of the Colony, which were daily growing
     more ardent. As a practical expression of the intensity of
     their patriotism, the citizens arranged and subscribed for the
     despatch of 500 expert roughriders and Bush marksmen, while the
     New South Wales Government assisted by supplying arms and

     The volunteers were all part, or had formed part, of the land
     forces. The only actual _regular_ regiment, as understood by
     us, was the artillery, a small company of Submarine Mining
     Engineers, 27; Army Service Corps, 10; and Army Medical Staff,
     11. All the rest were partially paid or volunteers. The men
     came from the whole country, and were men who were serving in
     the various corps either as volunteers or partially paid
     troops. All the infantry corps were volunteers--all cavalry
     regiments and some of the field and garrison artillery were
     partially paid troops, and were called regulars, though not on
     the permanent staff. The officers of the Contingents were--1.
     Captain C. F. Cox, N.S.W. Lancers, Major Bridges, N.S.W.
     Artillery, Captain Legge, General Staff N.S.W. Inf.; 2. Major
     and Brevet Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Samuel Parrott, V. D. Corps of
     Engineers, an officer who served in 1885 with the Australian
     Contingent in the Soudan. Colonel Sydenham Smith com.
     Artillery; Major J. H. Plunkett Murray, com. 8th Inf. (Union
     Regiment); Captain and temporary Major P. T. Owen, General
     Staff; Staff officer for Engineer services, Captain L. H.
     Kyngdon, N.S.W. Regt. R.A.; Captain A. P. Popham Luscombe;
     N.S.W. Regt. R.A.A., Captain Henry P. Ramsay Copeland. Reserve
     of officers--Captain R. St. Julien Pearce; N.S.W. Art. (Field),
     Lieutenant R. S. Hay Blake Jenkins; N.S.W. Regt. R.A.A.,
     Lieutenant C. F. Bracen, N.S.W. Art. (garrison). 1st Aus.
     (Vol.) Horse unit--1st Lieut. R. R. Thompson, Permanent Staff,
     with rank Captain; 2nd Lieutenant J. F. Moore Wilkinson, 1st
     Aus. Horse (Vol.), with rank 1st Lieutenant; 1st Lieutenant
     Keith Kinnaird Mackellar, 5th Inf. (Vol.) Regt.; Lieutenant B.
     J. Newmarch, N.S.W.A.M.C.; Lieutenant J. A. Dick, N.S.W.A.M.C.;
     Lieutenant A. H. Horsfall, N.S.W.A.M.C. Additional
     officers--Dr. A. MacCormick, to be Consulting Surgeon, hon.
     rank Major; Dr. R. Scot-Skirving, to be Consulting Surgeon,
     hon. rank Major; Dr. W. R. Cortis, rank Captain; N. R. Howse,
     rank Lieutenant. Chaplains--Church of England--Rev. H. J. Rose,
     hon. rank Major; Rev. Patrick Fagan, hon. rank Captain.

     The first Contingent reached Cape Town (from London) on
     November 2, 1899. The second Contingent started on January 17th
     and 18th in three transports; these, while in dock, had to be
     watched, as some Boer sympathisers were suspected of wishing to
     set fire to them. Nevertheless there were most remarkable
     demonstrations of loyalty on all sides, and the troops went off
     in high feather, having been previously addressed by Mr. Lyne
     in the following stirring speech: "I wish to tell you that
     every man and woman in this country is not so proud of anything
     as of you. You are not enlisting in the ordinary sense of the
     term, in that you are volunteering to serve with the British
     troops in the interests of the Empire. You are certain to meet
     a foe such as Great Britain has not met for some considerable
     time, and I feel we shall all be proud of your deeds. It is
     admitted that you are particularly useful, knowing bush life
     and being able readily to seize commanding points. Great
     Britain is finding that her Colonies form a valuable nursery
     ground, and we, on our part, are prepared to supply Great
     Britain with a force which is rapidly becoming a powerful
     adjunct of the British arms. You will be placed where you must
     show energy and determination, and must manifest pluck and
     courage, and we believe that you will bring back as a reward a
     wide recognition that our arms have been of service to the
     Empire. You will make a name for us such as rarely falls to the
     lot of a youthful country. You will show the world that the
     Empire is united, and that we are prepared to defend her and
     our homes if the necessity arises. We in Australia wish you
     God-speed, and every heart here beats in accord with every
     loyal heart in South Africa. I can only add, for those who may
     fall, that their memories will be revered, and you depart
     knowing that the loved ones of those yielding their lives will
     be tended by a generous Government and a generous public. Again
     I wish you God-speed, and may you return covered with all

     On the 19th of January the Premier received the following
     cable: "Her Majesty's Government learn with great satisfaction
     of the despatch of the Contingent and the patriotic feeling in
     New South Wales. The Queen commands me to express her thanks
     for these renewed expressions of loyalty.



     The Victorian Contingent started off with the same flourish of
     trumpets and the same outbursts of popular feeling which had
     accompanied all the Transvaal Contingents. There was a mixture
     of song and shout, of sorrow and tears. The weather was
     unchangeably splendid; the city of Melbourne was thronged with
     visitors to witness the unusual sight, the crowd being
     augmented by numerous Tasmanians who journeyed across the
     straits to get a last glimpse at the brave band of warriors as
     they started on their voyage. Lord Brassey gave a short
     address, and in the name of the Queen wished them God-speed.

     Officers of the Victorian Contingent for service in South
     Africa, sent in accordance with the cablegram of the Right
     Honourable the Secretary of State for the Colonies of 4th
     October 1899: Major G. A. Eddy, Captain (Medical Staff) W. F.
     Hopkins, Lieutenant T. M. M'Inerney, Lieutenant H. W.
     Pendlebury, Lieutenant A. J. N. Tremearne. Mounted Infantry
     Unit--Captain M'Leish, Lieutenant and Adjutant Salmon,
     Lieutenant Thorn, Lieutenant Chomley, Lieutenant Staughton,
     Lieutenant Roberts, Veterinary-Captain Kendall.

     The following officers were attached for instruction in
     accordance with the cablegram of the Right Honourable the
     Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated 27th October 1899:
     Colonel J. C. Hoad, Lieutenant-Colonel C. E. E. Umphelby,
     Captain G. J. Johnston, Captain J. H. Bruche. Transport Officer
     for service with troops for South Africa on board s.s.
     _Medic_--Lieutenant-Commander W. J. Colquhoun.

     mounted infantry).--Nominal Roll of Officers who embarked on
     s.s. _Euryalus_ on 13th January 1900 for service in South
     Africa: Colonel T. Price, Captain D. H. Jenkins, Lieutenant T.
     H. Sergeant, Lieutenant T. F. Umphelby, Lieutenant G. O. Bruce,
     Lieutenant A. A. Holdsworth, Lieutenant M. T. Kirby, Lieutenant
     E. O. Anderson, Lieutenant T. A. Umphelby, Lieutenant E. S.
     Norton, Lieutenant R. S. R. S. Bree, Lieutenant and Adjutant J.
     L. Lilley, Major (Medical Staff) A. Honman, Chaplain Rev. F. W.
     Wray, Veterinary-Captain H. S. Rudduck. Officer attached for
     special service with Army Service Corps: Lieutenant A. J.

     In addition to these Contingents the Colony contributed 250
     Bushmen, making in all up to the month of April, 751; officers,

     Among the officers of the Victorian Contingent were some whose
     careers were particularly interesting:--

     Lieut.-Colonel Charles Edward Ernest Umphelby was forty-six
     years of age, and a native of Victoria. He commanded the
     V.R.A.A. He joined the Militia Garrison Artillery at
     Warrnambool on the 20th June 1884; in March 1885 was appointed
     lieutenant in the Permanent Artillery, being promoted to be
     captain on the 1st January 1888. In August 1891 he was promoted
     to be major, and in June 1897 to the rank of
     lieutenant-colonel. In addition to commanding the artillery he
     also commanded the Western District Garrison Artillery. He was
     sent to England by the Victorian Government in 1889 to undergo
     courses of instruction, and while there was attached to the
     staff of Major-General Clarke. He passed through various
     artillery courses, including the long course at Woolwich and

     Captain George Jamieson Johnston is a Victorian native, and is
     thirty-one years of age. He is an officer of the Field
     Artillery Brigade, which is commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel
     Kelly. Captain Johnston was appointed lieutenant on the 11th
     January 1889, and was promoted to be captain on the 1st July
     1895. He is well known as a straight and regular follower of
     the Melbourne Hounds.

     Captain Julius Henry Bruche was born on the 6th March 1873, and
     educated at the Scotch College, Melbourne. His first experience
     of military work was in the ranks, and as an officer in the
     cadet corps, under Major W. Whitehead. After leaving the Scotch
     College cadets he was appointed to the senior cadets, and from
     them was transferred to the 1st Battalion Infantry Brigade as a
     lieutenant on 15th May 1891. Whilst in the 1st Battalion he
     passed the examination for captain, "distinguished in all
     subjects." He was appointed permanent adjutant of the 1st and
     2nd Battalions of the Infantry Brigade on the 18th July 1898,
     and was promoted to the position of captain on the 17th
     February 1899, after passing the examination for regular
     officers, and going through a course of musketry and Maxim
     machine-gun, obtaining an officer's extra certificate, and a
     certificate as qualified as instructor of the Maxim
     machine-gun. Captain Bruche is a barrister and solicitor, but
     gave up his profession to join the permanent staff of the
     Victorian forces.

     It may here be mentioned that Victoria has the distinction of
     being the birthplace of Dr. Robert Andrew Buntine, who was
     mentioned for bravery at the battle of Glencoe in Sir George
     White's despatches. Dr. Buntine was born on the 13th of
     November 1869. He matriculated in the Melbourne University with
     honours, and at once entered upon his medical course, where he
     acquitted himself with some distinction, for although close
     upon a hundred students entered their curriculum with him, only
     five (and he was one of them) passed consecutively all their
     examinations with honours. In 1890 he graduated with honours,
     and took his M.B., Ch.M. degrees. He then became one of the
     resident surgeons of the Melbourne Hospital for a year. After
     that, and the hard work of the University, he decided upon a
     year's travel. Accordingly, he travelled first in South Africa,
     and then in Great Britain for some months, visiting many
     interesting historical spots, and finally returning to South
     Africa, where he bought a practice in partnership with Dr.
     Currie, of Pietermaritzburg, Natal. Both are surgeons in the
     army, Dr. Buntine being surgeon to the Volunteers, and Dr.
     Currie to the Carabineers.


     On the 21st of October, the anniversary of Trafalgar,
     Wellington was very early astir. Great were her preparations to
     commemorate the departure of her Contingent--the first
     Contingent to embark from the Colonies. Bunting began to break
     out before breakfast, and town and shipping were soon
     fluttering with flags. In the streets groups were congregating
     at a time when people are usually given up to business, and
     uniforms everywhere dotted the thoroughfare. Large numbers of
     volunteers came in from the country, some travelling all night,
     and there was a turn out of local forces amounting to 1500.

     The march through the town began at 1.20 P.M. It was an
     inspiriting sight, and one that all wished to bear in memory.
     The road at intervals was so dotted with cameras, that one
     humourist in the ranks was heard to remark that this was the
     "real original March of the Camera Men." The crowds thickened
     and enthusiasm increased. Jervois Quay, the broadest avenue in
     the city, as well the open land abutting on it, was thronged
     from end to end. All the roofs commanding a view were lined,
     the steamers at the wharves were packed even to the rigging,
     and the long breastwork along the quay was crammed to

     Here the passage for the Contingent was kept by a double row of
     volunteers. The weather had been frowning and gusty, but no
     sooner had the Contingent formed up in front of a temporary
     stand projecting from the breastwork, on which Lord Ranfurly,
     the Governor, Lady Ranfurly and suite were accommodated, than
     the sun burst forth resplendent while the wind gently lulled.
     Speeches were made, followed by pathetic leave-takings of
     friends and relatives. At the last moment so great was the
     crush that some of the men were cut off from the rest, and had
     afterwards to struggle to the steamer as best they could.

     As the big vessel slowly steamed off, cries of farewell,
     shouts, cheers rent the air, and continued unceasingly, till
     the _Waiwera_ bearing New Zealand "Soldiers of the Queen" to
     the scene of war, had passed from sight.

     The first New Zealand Contingent was commanded by Major Robin,
     who is a splendid example of the born warrior. Originally a
     gunner in the B Battery New Zealand Artillery, he rose in the
     Otago Hussars through all the grades of non-commissioned
     officers to command of the troop. This regiment from that time
     was unsurpassed in efficiency by any in the Colony. As an
     instance of the pluck and energy of the gallant major, a
     characteristic story is told: When Sir John Richardson died he
     was accorded a military funeral, and was interred in the
     Northern Cemetery. On the day of the funeral the Leith was in
     high flood, and there was a general opinion that the Dundas
     Street Bridge would not bear the weight of the gun-carriage
     bearing the honoured remains. Major Robin at once volunteered
     to drive the gun-carriage across, and accomplished the
     dangerous task without mishap.

     Major Robin took charge of the New Zealand Contingent which
     attended the Diamond Jubilee, and had the honour of commanding
     the mixed Colonial escort which accompanied the Queen on her
     visit to London during the celebrations.

     Captain Madocks, who distinguished himself in the fight of the
     15th of January at Slingersfontein, is a Wellington man, full
     of pluck and resource, and as we now know, admirably calculated
     to become a leader of men.

     The second Contingent, under the command of Major Cradock and
     numbering 242 officers and men and 300 horses, left Wellington
     on the 20th of January--upwards of 70,000 spectators
     congregating to witness the departure of the fine fellows,
     whose appearance was alike martial and workmanly. These two
     Contingents, equipped and sent over at the cost of the New
     Zealand Government--the funds being raised among the settlers
     themselves--were not by any means New Zealand's entire
     contribution. Two more Contingents followed, and afterwards a
     fifth, consisting of 500 rough riders; some of the smartest men
     that could be gathered together! Indeed the whole force was
     remarkable for its smartness, and before it had been long in
     the Transvaal was highly praised by General French for its fine
     horsemanship and coolness under fire.

     An interesting feature belonging to the New Zealanders, and one
     which must have struck consternation in the heart of the Boers,
     was the Maori war-cry of the troops. This was composed by
     Trooper Galloway, one of the Volunteer Contingent, and
     taught by him to his comrades. The war cry in the Maori tongue
     is "Kia, Kaha, Niu Tireni. Whawhai maiea mo te Kuini, to
     kaianga. Ake! ake! ake!" which interpreted means, "Be strong,
     New Zealand. Fight bravely for your Queen, for your country.
     Ever! ever! ever!" The interest of the Maoris in Great Britain
     was evinced in practical form. They held carnival, danced
     native dances, and sang native songs, devoting the proceeds to
     the Patriotic Fund. Their only regret was their inability to be
     enrolled among the defenders of the country.

     [Illustration: HON. W. P. SCHREINER, C.M.G.

     Premier of the Cape Parliament, 1898-1900.

     Photo by Elliott & Fry, London.]


     The Queenslanders, under the command of Colonel Ricardo, have,
     as before said, the honour of being the first of Great
     Britain's children to come forward to her assistance. Their
     deeds are now familiar to us, for they are associated with
     Colonel Pilcher's famous raid to Sunnyside and Douglas, and
     also with the magnificent ride of General French for the relief
     of Kimberley. But before July 1899 we were scarcely acquainted
     with our warlike brothers across the ocean.

     The prime mover in the patriotic scheme of assisting the Mother
     Country in her need was the Hon. J. R. Dickson, the Premier. As
     we know, he lost not a moment. He did not wait for the need of
     assistance to be recognised. In this respect he followed the
     splendid example set in 1884 by the late Mr. Dalley, who, while
     acting Premier for Sir A. Stuart, telegraphed independently the
     wish of New South Wales to assist in the military undertakings
     of the Mother Country. The Premier knew the spirit of loyalty
     and patriotism that pervaded Queensland, and made haste to give
     it utterance. He was well supported by all sections of the
     Government and of the people, and speedily his action was
     imitated all over the world.

     Queensland by degrees sent out two Contingents composed of
     mounted infantry and one machine-gun section of Royal
     Australian Artillery; and finally, a third Contingent, of which
     75 per cent. were bushmen, all first-class riders and splendid
     shots. They were men of grand physique, many of them wealthy,
     and many sons of prominent citizens. The infantry were not
     mounted when despatched, but all being good horsemen, and their
     services being chiefly required as scouts or to assist cavalry,
     they had mounts provided for them on arrival by the Imperial
     authorities. The Queensland Mounted Infantry was organised in
     1884 by Colonel Ricardo, who is styled the "father" of mounted
     infantry in Queensland, and belongs to the Militia Division of
     the Colonial Defence force. The force is organised on the basis
     of three years' service, and ordinarily is recruited from the
     bushman and farmer class--a sterling and hardy set of fellows,
     whose plain motto is "For God and the right." The uniform, a
     highly becoming one, is of kharki, with claret-coloured
     facings. The hat is of the usual "brigand" shape, decorated at
     the side with a smart tuft of emu plumes.

     The whole of the expenses of transport, equipment, arms, and
     food for men and horses during the voyage was defrayed by the
     Colony; pay on the field was met by the Imperial Exchequer, the
     Colony only meeting the difference between the Imperial and
     Colonial rates, the latter being higher.

     The first Contingent consisted of 262 men and officers, who
     sailed in the _Cornwall_ on November 11, 1899, amid a wild
     display of patriotic enthusiasm.

     Officers of the first Contingent--Staff--Major P. R. Ricardo,
     to rank as Lieut.-Colonel; Sup. Captain R. S. Browne;
     Lieutenant C. H. A. Pelham; Machine-Gun Section--Lieutenant C.
     H. Black, Royal Australian Artillery. A Company Queensland
     Mounted Infantry--Captain H. G. Chauvel; Lieutenant A. G. Adie
     (wounded at Sunnyside under Colonel Pilcher); Lieutenant C. A.
     Cumming; Lieutenant T. W. Glasgow; Lieutenant D. E. Reid. B
     Company Queensland Mounted Infantry--Captain P. W. G. Pinnock;
     Lieutenant H. Bailey; Lieutenant R. Dowse; Lieutenant R.
     Gordon. The second Contingent was composed of 148 men and 8
     officers, with 5 additional officers for special service in
     South Africa. Officers of second Contingent--Lieut.-Colonel
     Kenneth Hutchison, Headquarters Staff, commanding; Captain W.
     G. Thompson, Queensland Mounted Infantry; Lieutenant H. J.
     Imrie Harris, Queensland Mounted Infantry; Lieutenant A. F.
     Crichton, Queensland Mounted Infantry; Lieutenant James Walker,
     3rd Queensland (Kennedy) Regiment; Lieutenant R. M. Stodart,
     Queensland Mounted Infantry. Supernumeraries--Captain Sir
     Edward Stewart-Richardson, Bart., 3rd Battalion Black Watch;
     Lieutenant John H. Fox. Additional officers
     attached--Surgeon-Captain H. R. Nolan, A.M.C. Queensland
     Defence; Major D. W. Rankin; Captain F. W. Toll, special
     service; Captain A. E. Crichton, Camp Quartermaster; Captain W.
     T. Deacon, Camp Adjutant.

     The second Contingent sailed in the _Maori King_ on January 20.
     The night before they were to start it was discovered that the
     ship had been set on fire, but the flames were extinguished
     before much damage was done. There seemed to be no doubt it was
     the work of an incendiary, and the police kept a close watch
     over the vessel till she was fairly away. It was regarded as
     significant that the crew consisted mainly of Dutchmen and

     The third Contingent, which sailed in the _Duke of Portland_ on
     March 1, was 300 strong, with 350 horses. In addition to the
     above, about 20 men and 50 horses had been sent to Sydney, and
     sailed with the New South Wales Contingent on February 26.
     After accommodating men and horses, it was found that the _Duke
     of Portland_ had still 500 tons of space available for cargo;
     this the Queensland Government offered to fill with forage for
     horses and men, and present to the Imperial Government.


     South Australia speedily sent two Contingents to the front, and
     offered more should further help be required. The first
     Contingent was commanded by Captain F. H. Howland. This officer
     was born in Kensington, London, 1863, and served for three
     years in the Middlesex E.V. Royal Engineers. At the expiration
     of that time he went to Australia, and in 1885 joined the
     volunteer company which was being formed at Mount Gambier, in
     which he was appointed lance-corporal. Since then he has passed
     through every rank, was appointed captain in 1893, and made
     adjutant in June 1898. Captain Howland then became senior
     captain in the second battalion, and--having passed his
     examination for his majority--on the illness of his commanding
     officer, commanded the battalion on several occasions.

     The officers of the Contingent were as follows: Captain F. H.
     Howland, D Company, Mount Gambier Infantry, C.O.; Captain G. R.
     Lascelles, Royal Fusiliers, A.D.C. to Lord Tennyson (attached);
     Lieutenant J. H. Stapleton, A Company, first battalion
     infantry; Lieutenant F. M. Blair, B Company, first battalion
     infantry; Lieutenant J. W. Powell, D Company, Mount Gambier
     Infantry; Major J. T. Toll, Medical Staff.

     In regard to the payment of the troops the arrangement was
     simple. The men received 5s. a day. That meant that the pay
     received through the South Australian Government and the pay
     from the Imperial Government would together amount to 5s. a
     day. Whatever amount the Imperial Government gave their
     soldiers, members of the South Australian Contingent received
     the same while on active service, and the balance paid to them
     by the South Australian Government would bring the amount up to
     5s. a day. They did not propose to send any money from the
     Colony while the men were away, in order that, while fighting
     side by side with the Imperial soldiers, they should not
     receive more pay than their comrades. Their South Australian
     pay would be left at home until their return. If the British
     rate of pay were 1s. 4d., that arrangement would mean that 3s.
     8d. per day would be due to them from the Colonial Government.
     Before starting the men received one month's pay, amounting to
     £7, which was considered sufficient to supply their immediate
     wants, and see them over the voyage. On arrival at Port
     Elizabeth they began to receive the same pay as the British

     The officers of the second Contingent were: Captain J. Reade,
     commanding; J. F. Humphries, senior subaltern; G. H. Lynch,
     second subaltern; F. M. Rowell, third subaltern; G. J. Restall
     Walter, junior subaltern; W. J. Press, warrant officer, in
     charge of the "Colt" automatic machine-gun; William De Passy,
     warrant officer.

     The first Contingent of infantry was afterwards turned into
     mounted infantry. The second Contingent was composed of
     cavalry, and one machine-gun section. The Australian Horse was
     drilled on exactly the same lines as British cavalry, and was,
     in fact, under the instruction of British cavalrymen. The men
     were either members of volunteer corps, or volunteered on the
     outbreak of the war from all parts of the Colony.

     When the news of British reverses reached the Colony, the
     patriotic fervour of which the despatch of the first Contingent
     was a practical proof, was once more fanned into flame. The
     desire for Australian representation on the field of battle
     again translated itself into action, and the intimation that
     not only would further assistance be welcomed but that it was
     really wanted met with ready response. No lack of volunteers
     troubled the authorities, for numerous offers to serve were
     received from all parts of the colony, from persons of all
     classes and all ages. Among the youngest of those volunteering
     was Allan O'Halloran Wright, who was but fourteen years of age,
     who accompanied the Contingent as trumpeter. He is
     exceptionally well developed, and considerably taller than many
     of the rank and file. Among others was Sergeant Hanley, who was
     in the thick of the fight at Majuba Hill. He served with the
     92nd Gordon Highlanders in the Afghan War, and received two
     decorations, including medal with the Kabul, Kandahar, and
     Charasia bars, and a star for the historical march from Kabul
     to Kandahar. He, with others, was mentioned in despatches for
     his conduct in defending Lord Roberts from an attack of the
     Ghilzais. He fought in twenty-seven engagements in Afghanistan,
     and was the youngest man in the regiment. He stood side by side
     with "Fighting Mac," who was then a lance-corporal, and
     promoted to a commission for his distinguished services. After
     the Afghan War he went to India, and though he had completed
     seven years service, and need have done no more, he volunteered
     for service with the 92nd Highlanders in South Africa. After
     the miserable experiences of Majuba he went to South Australia,
     where he served for nine years with the permanent force. He
     acted as warder in the Yatala prison till, hearing of the war,
     he instantly volunteered.

     On the 28th of October the Contingent dined at Government
     House, and after the meal the men were received in the great
     hall and thus eloquently addressed by Lord Tennyson: "Men of
     the South Australian Contingent of the British army in South
     Africa--I am proud of being your Commander-in-Chief because of
     your splendid patriotism, your alacrity in obeying the summons
     of the old country, your self-sacrifice in leaving your
     comfortable homes to fight for the United Empire, to maintain
     the Queen's position in South Africa, and to rescue the
     down-trodden Uitlanders from the political and social serfdom
     imposed on them by the Boers. When I was at home in 1897 I saw
     some of you in the Jubilee procession, and you were
     vociferously cheered by the millions of people in the streets.
     Why did they cheer you? Because they felt that you were our
     kith and kin, and that you were not only taking part in a
     triumphal procession in honour of the Queen, but that you were
     pledging yourselves that, if the needful occasion should arise,
     you would fight for our Queen and for our Empire. Your action
     now, and the action of all Australasia and of Canada, will make
     the nations of the earth hesitate before they strike at our
     Empire in the future, seeing our Imperial loyalty, our Imperial
     solidarity, our Imperial unity, our Imperial strength. I
     believe from my experience as your Governor that there is no
     man throughout South Australia who would not stand up in time
     of stress in defence of the Queen, the Empire, and the Union
     Jack. You are a gallant and stalwart body of men, and we
     rejoice in your soldierly appearance and your loyal enthusiasm.
     We feel sure that you will do your duty nobly, and return
     covered with honour and renown. Remember, my men, that
     obedience to discipline, and patience in enduring hardship, and
     promptitude in the performance of your military duties are the
     first steps towards the making of a victorious army. You are to
     be joined in South Africa to highly organised battalions of
     troops, some of the best in the world, commanded by highly
     trained and scientific officers. Obey these officers and your
     own implicitly, from the corporal to the Commander-in-Chief,
     whether on the field or in garrison, or wherever you are; and I
     need not tell you that, if you keep your eyes and ears open,
     you will learn a great deal that will be useful to you in the
     future. May Australia never be visited by war! If this ever
     happens, the British fleet will protect Australia in the first
     line of defence, but you must have an efficiently trained army
     as a second line of defence. Knowing this, the Federal
     Government of the future will, I am confident, put Australia in
     a proper state of military preparedness; and that is one of the
     reasons why I glory in our Federal Commonwealth to be. Remember
     always, my friends, that you are the guardians of a magnificent
     heritage, of a country of which you are justly proud, and that
     the experience which you Australians will gain in South Africa
     will not only enable you to fight, if necessary, for this
     country, but will also enable you to teach your
     comrades-in-arms, who are obliged to stay at home, something of
     the needful requirements of modern warfare. I know the General
     who is to lead you, Sir Redvers Buller. He is married to a
     cousin of my wife's, and I can tell you that a finer soldier
     could not be met with. The motto he would wish to be given you
     would be: 'Obedience and cheerful courage on service are an
     army's strength.' I am glad to have allowed--though it is
     personally a loss to myself--my A.D.C., Captain Lascelles, to
     accompany you, with special leave from the War Office at home.
     As you are aware, in him you have a thoroughly experienced and
     capable officer, and, like Captain Howland and your other
     officers, he is fond of you and devoted to your welfare. If I
     had to command a British army, I should know that, when you
     have had a little more military experience, with your pluck,
     your good marksmanship, and your loyalty, the standard of the
     Queen could well be intrusted to the keeping of the Australian
     Contingent. It is my duty as well as my pleasure to tell you
     that, on behalf of the British people, Her Majesty's Government
     have sent me two telegrams appreciative of the enthusiastic
     patriotism of yourselves, of the Ministry, and of South
     Australia. It is also my duty as well as my pleasure to read
     you the kindly and gracious message from the Queen, which has
     moved us all very deeply: 'Her Majesty the Queen desires to
     thank the people of her Colonies in Australia for the striking
     manifestation of loyalty and patriotism in their voluntary
     offer to send troops to co-operate with Her Majesty's Imperial
     forces in maintaining her position and the rights of British
     subjects in South Africa. She wishes the troops God-speed and a
     safe return.' The Boers have forced war upon us and have
     invaded our territory. You are going to fight for the cause of
     British freedom, for the honour of Great Britain, for the
     honour of Australia. In the name, then, of our beloved Queen,
     of Great Britain, and of South Australia, I bid you farewell,
     and I wish you, after your work is accomplished, a safe and
     happy home-coming."

     On the 26th of January the second South Australian Contingent
     started for the Transvaal amid scenes of great enthusiasm. The
     Governor, Lord Tennyson, again made an inspiriting speech and
     wished them God-speed.


     West Australia sent with the same energy of patriotism two
     Contingents amounting to 230 officers and men, with offers of
     more if required. The officers were: Capt. R. Moor, R.A.; Capt.
     H. S. Pilkington, late 21st Hussars; Major M'Williams, Medical
     Officer; Lieut. J. Campbell; Lieut. H. F. Darling; Lieut. F. W.
     M. Parker.


     The Tasmanian Government were not behind the other Colonies of
     Australia in their desire to show their loyalty and patriotism
     by offering troops for Imperial service. There was, of course,
     some difference of opinion regarding the policy of going to
     fight at all, as the following cutting from a local journal
     will show: "In Tasmania, as elsewhere, there is a certain
     number, not many, of the crawling tribe, who always find that
     their country is in the wrong, and are never so happy as when
     they can hold up some foe as a model of virtue in contrast with
     the brutal Briton. It is curious to find those who call
     themselves friends of the working-classes indulging in this
     vein of oratory, but it is common to all the Colonies, and may
     be said to account for the little influence that the party has
     on general affairs. We have had here, of course, the inevitable
     Catholic priest who has denounced the British, for he always
     appears when Great Britain has any serious work to do, just as
     there is the usual meeting of Irish in New York. In Hobart the
     Catholic priests spoke feeling and appropriate words about the
     departure of the Contingent, but on the West Coast one Father
     Murphy went on the rampage in the good old style, and proceeded
     to denounce the country under the Government of which he lives,
     and which is liberal enough to allow him to say such things
     with impunity. I wonder whether these folk ever think about
     what would happen to them if they talked in the same strain in
     France, Germany, or even in the United States. It does not
     matter to Great Britain what these discontented ones say, but
     they might learn from the liberty they use the value of the
     freedom which they enjoy. On the whole, the people of Tasmania,
     while they deeply regret that war should be necessary, are
     fully alive to the value of a united empire, and are keenly
     anxious that she may vindicate her position in South Africa,
     and finally get rid of the Boer incubus which has weighed upon
     the country ever since the Gladstone Ministry adopted the
     policy of scuttle and palaver."

     This quotation shows the drift of popular sentiment, and in the
     end loyalty everywhere prevailed, and some splendid fellows
     volunteered to go to the front. These were not "raw material,"
     but intelligent, handy soldiers, accustomed to the rough and
     tumble of bush life, and ready to provide for emergencies.
     Their commander, Captain Cameron, had seen some service, and
     took part in the famous march to Kandahar.

     The first Contingent, sent in the _Medic_, consisted of eighty
     men, of which the officers were: Capt. C. St. Clair Cameron,
     Erandale, commanding (who was afterwards a prisoner in
     Pretoria); Lieut. W. Brown; Lieut. F. B. Heritage; Lieut. G. E.
     Reid, 1st Regt., Hobart. Of the privates the following were
     subsequently taken prisoners to Pretoria: M. H. Swan, V. J.
     Peers, A. Button. J. H. Whitelaw, also a private, who has
     distinguished himself by gallantry in the field and by saving a
     comrade's life at the imminent risk of his own, will probably
     receive the V.C.

     The second Contingent, which consisted of forty-five men, was
     under the command of Sergt. J. Stagg, of Deloraine.

     Both Contingents were composed almost entirely of gentlemen.

     Tasmania also contributed 100 men to the Imperial Australian
     Corps which was raised at Mr. J. Chamberlain's suggestion from
     all the Australasian Colonies. The volunteering of the
     Tasmanian contingent to join hands with Canada, Australia, and
     New Zealand, and shoulder to shoulder to support the "flag of
     old renown" in South Africa, gave origin to the following lines
     written by a Tasmanian poet:--

        "War? We would rather peace; but, Mother, if fight we must,
        There be none of your sons on whom you can lean with a surer trust;
        Bone of your bone are we, and in death would be dust of your dust!"


     There was immense excitement over the formation of the Imperial
     Bushmen or Roughriders' Corps. It consisted of over 2000
     mounted men, selected from those experienced in riding and
     looking after stock in country in its natural rough state,
     unbroken by cultivation, fences or roads. In the first
     instance, New Zealand made an offer to provide 500 such men,
     after which--as more were required--Australia was asked to
     raise a further 2000, the Imperial Government bearing the cost
     of forwarding them to the seat of war, and maintaining and
     paying them there. Four thousand applications from Victoria and
     2000 from Adelaide were received. The citizens of Rockhampton
     immediately offered to provide and equip twenty-five Bushmen.
     New South Wales was represented by a Contingent of 500 men, and
     Queensland decided to join with the other Colonies in
     organising this smart and serviceable corps, whose value was
     estimated as equal to twice the number of infantry.

     The movement was a most popular one, and gifts of horses were
     sent in from every direction. The public subscribed liberally,
     Captain Bridges alone giving £1000 towards the expenses of the
     Victorian Bushmen.

     The officers selected for the New South Wales Bushmen were
     Lieut.-Colonel Airey in command, Major Onslow, three captains
     and fourteen subalterns. The movement was so popular and
     subscriptions so liberal, that it was decided that 100 men
     should be sent from South Australia instead of the fifty
     originally proposed. Colonel Williams, of the New South Wales
     Contingent, was appointed principal medical officer for all
     the Australian Contingents serving in South Africa. The
     departure of the Bushmen on the 17th of January was a
     magnificent climax to the many magnificent demonstrations of
     patriotism which had been evidenced throughout the Colonies.


     Between the Australasian and Canadian Colonies and the
     Volunteer Contingent from India there is a certain difference
     which it is necessary to recognise. In the Colonies, the
     movement to help the Mother Country in her need, though
     prompted and encouraged by popular enthusiasm, patriotism, and
     donations from private and public resources, was suggested,
     voiced, and supported by the respective Governments, the
     Premiers of which acted very prominently in the enterprise,
     whereas in India, the offer of military assistance was a
     spontaneous impulse springing from individual patriotism and
     carried out by private enterprise. India, being a Crown Colony,
     could display her loyalty in no other way. Her position was
     somewhat similar to the Home Establishment, and her regular
     British troops were under orders for South Africa in exactly
     the same way as were the Home forces. Nevertheless, India was
     not backward in independent demonstrations of loyalty. English
     officers from various native corps, who, in ordinary
     circumstances, could serve only in their respective Indian
     Contingents, now came forward and volunteered for active
     service in aid of the Imperial cause in South Africa. The "men"
     volunteered from all directions. Dapper young Calcutta
     merchants, sporting tea-planters from Assam, gallant
     indigo-planters, and dashing roughriders from Bombay, Assam,
     Bengal, Cawnpore, Mysore, and all manner of districts unknown
     even by name to the Little Englander sent in their appeal, and
     pressed to be allowed to play their part in the defence of the
     Empire; and thus the smart regiments known as Lumsden's Horse,
     the Railway Contingent, and the Ceylon Mounted Contingent came
     to be recruited.

     Colonel Lumsden, lately Commandant of the Assam Valley Light
     Horse, generously assisted both financially and personally in
     raising and equipping the force, and quantities of Calcutta men
     offered their services, their expenses being guaranteed by the
     firms employing them. Gifts and subscriptions poured in. Lord
     Curzon, the Viceroy, headed the subscription-list by a handsome
     contribution, and so generous was the response of all India,
     that about £30,000 was collected in connection with the
     Transvaal war, including the equipment of volunteers.

     The native princes offered troops and horses, and loyally
     expressed themselves towards the Queen Empress. The troops were
     declined, it being understood that the war was between white
     men alone. Their offers of horses were, however, accepted.
     Nevertheless, the generosity of the princes was not to be
     denied, and several among them, the Maharajah of Bikanir, the
     Maharajah of Durbhanga, and the Nawab of Moorshedabad,
     subscribed liberally to the expenses of Lumsden's Horse,
     offering at the same time their best wishes for the success of
     the Contingent and the complete triumph of the British arms in
     South Africa.

     The Nizam of Hyderabad, whose State is as large as France, and
     whose relations with the sovereign have always been most
     cordial, assisted handsomely, saying at the same time, with
     true Oriental grace, that his troops, his purse, and his own
     sword were at the service of the Queen. The Maharajah of
     Tanjore contributed 5000 rupees, while his son furnished a
     complete set of X-ray apparatus. The Nawab of Bhavnagar State
     presented fifty fully equipped Arab horses to the force, and
     quantities of other prominent Nawabs displayed corresponding
     liberality. The Maharanee of Bettiah generously presented to
     each volunteer from her district a horse, and Khwajah Mahomed
     Khan forwarded from Mardan (on the Punjab frontier) the sum of
     2000 rupees as an expression of loyalty, with his best wishes
     for the success of Lumsden's Horse. As an instance of the
     excitement and martial feeling in regard to the Indian
     Transvaal Contingent, it may be noted that the instant the
     scheme was proposed, two-thirds of the Light Horse of Behar
     volunteered for service, promising to provide everything except
     means of transport. They formed part of Lumsden's Horse, who
     were all men under forty years of age, many of them of
     independent means, with horses of their own.

     The following is the list of officers who were appointed to
     Colonel Lumsden's Corps:--

     Lieut.-Colonel Dugald McT. Lumsden, Assam Valley Light Horse
     Volunteers, to be Commandant, with the temporary rank of
     Lieut.-Colonel in the army; Lieut.-Colonel Eden Showers, late
     Commandant Surma Valley Light Horse Volunteers, to be second in
     command, with the temporary rank of Major in the army; Captain
     J. H. B. Beresford, Indian Staff Corps, to be Company
     Commander. To be Captains, with the temporary rank of Captain
     in the army: Major Henry Chamney, Surma Valley Light Horse
     Volunteers; Captain Francis Clifford, Coorg and Mysore
     Volunteer Rifles; Second Lieutenant Bernard W. Holmes, East
     India Railway Volunteer Rifles; Second Lieutenant John B.
     Rutherford, Behar Light Horse Volunteers. To be Lieutenants,
     with the temporary rank of Lieutenant in the army: Lieutenant
     Charles L. Sidey, Surma Valley Light Horse Volunteers; Herbert
     O. Pugh, gent.; George A. Nevill, gent.; Charles E. Crane,
     gent. Captain Louis H. Noblett, the Royal Irish Rifles, to be a
     Company Commander; Captain Neville C. Taylor, Indian Staff
     Corps, to be Adjutant; Surgeon-Captain Samuel A Powell, M.D.,
     Surma Valley Light Horse Volunteers, to be Medical Officer,
     with the temporary rank of Captain; William Stevenson, gent.,
     to be Veterinary Officer, with the temporary rank of Veterinary

     The Government provided free passages, and the railway
     authorities gave free passes. With the force went Mrs. C. W.
     Park and Mrs. M. C. Curry, wives of Lieut.-Colonel C. W. Park
     and Major M. C. Curry, of the 1st Devonshire Regiment, to
     assist in the hospitals in Natal. This regiment, it may be
     remembered, was with Sir George White, and had four officers
     severely wounded in its first battle, Elandslaagte, and was
     shut up in Ladysmith for over four months. Lumsden's Horse
     sailed from India on February 6, much envied by all who had not
     the good fortune to be of their number.

     [Illustration: GENERAL BRABANT, C.M.G.

     After Photo by S. B. Barnard, Cape Town.]

     Ceylon was not behind India in patriotic enthusiasm, though its
     powers were more limited. Great demonstrations of loyalty
     prevailed everywhere in the island, and volunteers were eager
     to be enrolled. Out of the numbers applying 125 men were picked
     out and 5 officers. The force was armed with Lee-Metford
     magazine rifles, 500 rounds of ammunition, and were nearly all
     mounted on trained horses. Captain Rutherford, Royal Dublin
     Fusiliers, was in command, and Captain Anderson, Royal
     Artillery, was second in command. Captain Toogood (Warwickshire
     Regiment) also accompanied the force.

     The planters and merchants of Ceylon presented upwards of
     30,000 lbs. of tea to be delivered free to the troops in South
     Africa, to be shipped with the Contingent, and many private
     individuals were equally generous. The Legislative Council
     unanimously agreed that all expenses connected with the
     equipment, arming, transport, and, when necessary, mounting of
     the Ceylon Contingent, should be borne by the Colony. This
     liberal decision was acknowledged by Mr. Chamberlain in the
     following terms:--


     "Your telegrams of January 9 and January 10. Her Majesty's
     Government congratulate Ceylon on completion of Contingent,
     which they accept with much pleasure, and highly appreciate
     patriotic and generous action of Legislative Council."

     The Ceylon Mounted Contingent sailed on February 2 for active
     service in South Africa, amid the prayers and good wishes of a
     huge concourse of people.

     In addition to the above contingents from India and Ceylon, the
     Indian Government sent the guns and equipment for three
     field-batteries of 15-pounders, and also three corps of native
     transport drivers and muleteers--about 400 in all--under
     British officers.



     It has been said that the whole course of the campaign might
     have been changed had the Cape Colony forces been utilised
     sufficiently early. If the Cape Ministry had begun at once by
     employing the splendid Colonial forces at its disposal, not for
     purposes of defiance, but of defence, the tale of raid and
     rebellion, which has been as harassing as the tale of war,
     would never have been told. But as it is useless to talk of the
     _might have been_, or of things done or left undone by the Cape
     Ministry, we must proceed to consider the services of the Cape
     Colonial Force, of the ten thousand volunteers, when they were
     eventually allowed to come into action. Of the splendid troops
     in Mafeking and Kimberley the Colony must ever be proud, for on
     them fell the weight of showing what worthy offshoots of the
     bold and the brave the sun of South Africa has reared. These
     men, recruited for the most part from Cape Town, Port
     Elizabeth, East London, Queenstown, Grahamstown, and Kimberley,
     consisted largely of past and present Cape Colony Volunteers.
     They were bone of our bone, and when the hour of stress arrived
     they proved themselves as such. They were immensely proud to be
     included in the term British, and right royally they acted up
     to the higher interpretation of that term. Though they have
     borne years of insult and suffered in innumerable ways for
     their fealty and devotion to the Mother Country, they rushed to
     arms joyfully in the hope that Great Britain would reassert
     herself, annex the whole of South Africa, and administer it
     under one Government. They longed to be quit of Dutch intrigue.
     They pined for a strong rule, one that would be free of the
     vacillations that had kept them on tenter-hooks for years, and
     prevented their living in a sense of security enjoyed by other
     freeborn British subjects. By these loyal fellows the towns of
     Mafeking and Kimberley were practically defended. In those
     places there were very few Imperial troops, and little could
     have been accomplished without the aptness and grit of the
     Colonials. The reason why they appeared to be neglected is not
     far to seek. No man is a prophet in his own country, and to
     this trite fact may be attributed the want of instant
     appreciation accorded to the Cape Colonial Volunteers who so
     spontaneously and with genuine zeal responded to the call of
     duty. While we made much of the Colonials from over the
     seas--the "Visiting Colonials" as they are called--we failed to
     see that at our elbows were the very men who would leap forward
     at a word and check the onward career of the enemy and put a
     stop to his annexations while our troops in England were
     getting into shape. But later we jumped at them. Then the Cape
     Colonists began to be vastly appreciated, and to receive the
     highest encomiums from all who had the good fortune to serve
     with them.

     The following is a table of some of the prominent Colonial
     forces of Cape Colony, 1900:--

                        |ESTABLISHMENT|   EFFECTIVE TO DATE    |
  CORPS                 |All  |       |        |N.C.O.'s|      |
                        |Ranks|Horses |Officers|and Men |Horses|OFFICERS
  IRREGULARS RAISED     |     |       |        |        |      |
  BEFORE WAR            |     |       |        |        |      |
                        |     |       |        |        |      |
  Rhodesian Regiment    | ... |       |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Protectorate Regiment}|     |       |        |        |      |{Col. Baden-
                       }| 650 |  ...  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |{Powell, 5th
  Kimberley Regiment   }|     |       |        |        |      |{Dragoon Guards
  Diamond Fields Horse  | 100 |  ...  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Bechuanaland Rifles   | 100 |  ...  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
                        |     |       |        |        |      |
  IRREGULARS RAISED     |     |       |        |        |      |
  SINCE WAR             |     |       |        |        |      |
                        |     |       |        |        |      |
  Rimington's Guides    | 212 |  220  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |{Lieut.-Col.
                        |     |       |        |        |      |{Hon. J. Byng,
  1st S.A.L. Horse      | 599 |  580  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |{10th Hussars
                        |     |       |        |        |      |{Capt. Villiers,
  Roberts's Horse       | 599 |  580  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |{Royal Horse
                        |     |       |        |        |      |{Guards
  Kitchener's Horse     | 599 |  580  |    41  |   617  |  586 |  ...
  1st Brabant's Light   |     |       |        |        |      |
    Horse               | 599 |  580  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  2nd Brabant's Light   |     |       |        |        |      |
    Horse               | 599 |  580  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Gatacre's Scouts      |  50 |   50  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Montmorency's Cavalry |     |       |        |        |      |
    Division Scouts     | 100 |  100  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  6th Cavalry Division  |     |       |        |        |      |
    Scouts              |  25 |   25  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Chief in Command's    |     |       |        |        |      |
    Body Guard          |  50 |   50  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
                        |     |       |        |        |      |
  LOCAL DEFENCE CORPS   |     |       |        |        |      |
  Nesbitt's Mounted     |     |       |        |        |      |
    Local Defence Corps | 400 |  400  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Bayley's Mounted      |     |       |        |        |      |
    Local Defence Corps | 500 |  500  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Orpen's Horse         | 300 |  300  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Railway Pioneer       |     |       |        |        |      |
    Regiment            |1008 |    8  |    34  |   959  |   15 |  ...
                        |     |       |        |        |      |
  VOLUNTEERS            |     |       |        |        |      |
                        |     |       |        |        |      |
  P.A.O. Cape Artillery | ... |  ...  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Diamond Fields        |     |       |        |        |      |
    Artillery           | ... |  ...  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...
  Cape Garrison         |     |       |        |        |      |
    Artillery           | ... |  ...  |   ...  |   ...  |  ... |  ...

     [[Transcriber's note: The following text was written vertically
     in a column of the table above. It has been rendered here for
     ease of display.

     REMARKS: These numbers have been increased within the last few
     months by recruiting, Kitchener's Horse showing an increase of
     about 50. The figures, therefore, are only approximately


     Prince Alfred's Own Cape Artillery--officers, 5; other ranks,
     117; total, 122. Diamond Fields Artillery--officers, 4; other
     ranks, 119; total, 123. Cape Garrison Artillery--officers, 18;
     other ranks, 431; total, 449. Duke of Edinburgh's Own Volunteer
     Rifles--officers, 31; other ranks, 1027; total, 1058. Cape Town
     Highlanders--officers, 12; other ranks, 392; total, 404. Prince
     Alfred's Volunteer Guard--officers, 21; other ranks, 494;
     total, 515. First City Volunteers--officers, 22; other ranks,
     556; total, 578. Kaffrarian Rifles (Colonel Cuming)--officers,
     31; other ranks, 672; total, 703. Queenstown Rifle
     Volunteers--officers, 18; other ranks, 299; total, 317.
     Frontier Mounted Rifles--officers, 10; other ranks, 131; total,
     141. Uitenhage Volunteer Rifles--officers, 16; other ranks,
     396; total, 412. Komgha Mounted Rifles--officers, 5; other
     ranks, 41; total, 46. Stellenbosch Mounted Infantry--officers,
     1; other ranks, 31; total, 32. Kimberley Regiment--officers,
     25; other ranks, 541; total, 566. Bechuanaland
     Rifles--officers, 5; other ranks, 61; total, 66. A Company Cape
     Medical Staff Corps--officers, 2; other ranks, 55; total, 57. B
     Company Cape Medical Staff Corps--officers, 3; other ranks, 71;
     total, 74. C Company Cape Medical Staff Corps--officers, 0;
     other ranks, 13; total, 13. Transkei Mounted Rifles--officers,
     5; other ranks, 66; total, 71. No. 1 Xalanga Border Mounted
     Rifle Club--officers, 4; other ranks, 40; total, 44. No. 19
     Tembuland Mounted Rifle Club--officers, 2; other ranks, 21;
     total, 23. No. 23 Nqamakwe Mounted Rifle Club--officers, 1;
     other ranks, 21; total, 22. No. 25 Engcobo Mounted Rifle
     Club--officers, 1; other ranks, 28; total, 29. No. 29 Tsomo
     Mounted Rifle Club--officers, 1; other ranks, 29; total, 30.


     To prove his appreciation of the devotion and military prowess
     of the Cape colonists Lord Roberts, on his arrival in South
     Africa, decided on raising a Colonial Division. The official
     intimation of the formation of this division was contained in
     the following announcement:--

     "The Commander-in-Chief, recognising the value of the services
     rendered by the Colonial troops, has authorised the formation
     of a division. Colonel Brabant, M.L.A., C.M.G., has been given
     the local and temporary rank of a Brigadier-General, and will
     be in command. Brabant's Horse, with several other irregular
     corps and mounted contingents, limited in number, from the
     infantry volunteer regiments, will form the first portion of
     this force, and its first object will be to drive the enemy
     out of the Colony, and to co-operate with the Imperial troops.
     It has been decided to raise a further 1500 mounted irregulars,
     so as to give all Colonials and men with Colonial experience a
     chance of joining this division. Men who enrol in this Mounted
     Irregular Corps, and who cannot afford to go on a long
     campaign, will be allowed to register their names for service
     in the Colony only, but any portion of such registered men can
     volunteer to take part in any further advance that may be
     ordered beyond the Orange River. To raise this latter force
     recruiting stations will be open in all parts of the Colony,
     and it is proposed to elect officers from Colonial gentlemen or
     those with Colonial experience."

     As may be imagined, there was great jubilation among the
     thousands of martial spirits at the Cape, who for long had been
     fretting at enforced inactivity.

     Some very interesting particulars regarding raising of some of
     the Colonial Corps were elicited from Mr. W. Hosken, who was
     chairman of the Uitlander Council and the Chamber of Commerce
     at Johannesburg. He said: "I was chairman of the committee
     which obtained permission from the Government to raise
     Thorneycroft's and Bethune's Corps of mounted infantry and the
     Imperial Light Horse, and all raised in Natal and mainly from
     refugee Uitlanders from Johannesburg. From the Imperial
     officers with whom I was brought into contact I received every
     consideration and the greatest cordiality. But again it should
     be remembered that we got the permission only after pressure
     had been brought to bear by public meetings at Durban and
     Maritzburg, and in other ways. The response was most
     gratifying. Only when the Boers were threatening to advance on
     Maritzburg were we allowed to form the Imperial Light Horse.
     Intimation of the permission was given on the Friday. By the
     following Wednesday we were able to report that 1300 men had
     offered for service, and that the medical examination would be
     at once begun. Thorneycroft's Corps was the first to take the
     field, and was actually fighting within six weeks from the date
     of its enrolment. The testimony from Boer sources as to the
     value of these regiments has been most gratifying. In one
     verbal statement by a Boer commandant they were described as
     'evidently skilled sharpshooters.' Then there are the Natal
     Volunteers, recruited in very much the same way as your
     Volunteers at home, clerks and artisans from the towns, with
     the mounted companies from the country districts. They took the
     field possibly with some misgivings as to their capacity, just
     as the Volunteers here might do; but they have proved
     themselves equal to any military duty that is imposed on them.
     The soldiers of the regular army recognise them as worthy
     comrades, and the greatest cordiality exists between the
     regular and volunteer forces. Later on there was formed also in
     Natal a body of Colonial scouts--750 strong--recruited from
     local men who knew the country. Those who wished to serve
     together were placed in the same squad. Every section of
     twenty-five men elects its own leader, and every four sections
     its commander. They have already proved their efficiency in
     service with Sir Redvers Buller's army. Then there is the corps
     of ambulance bearers. When General Buller was making
     arrangements for the attack on Colenso last month he asked for
     1200 white bearers. On the first day the notice was posted in
     Durban 900 men volunteered. Far more than the required number
     offered, and a selection was made of those who were considered
     the most fitted for the duty. These men did excellent work,
     bringing out the wounded under fire during that disastrous day
     at Colenso. Three were killed and several wounded, and every
     one of the corps behaved splendidly."

     In regard to the apparent neglect of the Volunteers at the
     Cape, he went on to say: "The delay in recruiting irregulars
     at the Cape was not in the least due to the unwillingness of
     the Uitlanders there or of the British residents. It was the
     result of political considerations which were then thought to
     be of sufficient weight by well-advised men on the spot. The
     delay caused a great deal of heart-burning among hundreds who
     were only too keen to take up arms; and it is only quite
     recently that permission has been given to form irregular corps
     and to accept the services of the Cape Volunteers already in
     existence, who were eager to serve. Directly the permission was
     given men flocked to the standard, and you have now Rimington's
     Guides, the South African Light Horse, and the Cape Volunteers,
     who have all promptly proceeded to the front. Another most
     useful body is now being recruited both in Natal and in Cape
     Colony--I mean the Railway Pioneer Corps. It is being officered
     by the most eminent of the mining engineers of Johannesburg,
     and the rank and file are made up of skilled mechanics, who are
     specially qualified for the particular duties they will have to
     perform. They will be armed in the ordinary way, drilled as an
     engineer corps, and will be expected to do the ordinary work of
     the military engineer."

     The Imperial Light Horse, formed by Majors Sampson and Karri
     Davies, was largely composed of Australians. Many Johannesburg
     people joined it, most of them "all-round sportsmen, capital
     shots, and keen riders." They joined on the principle of not
     allowing the Mother Country to fight their battles for them
     while they had a right arm with which to assert themselves.

     The Cape Mounted Police, 1000 strong, who were also sent on
     active service at the commencement of the war, were invaluable.
     They were remarkable, not alone for gallantry, but efficiency.
     When Captain de Montmorency's Scouts were cut off near
     Labuschagnes Nek by some 800 Boers, Captain Golsworthy on the
     last day of the year came to the rescue with a party of the
     Cape Mounted Police, and put the enemy to flight.

     Early in 1900, the Rhodesian Field Force, under the command of
     Lieut.-General Sir Frederick Carrington, was organised to
     operate in Northern Rhodesia, and stop any trekking of members
     of the Free State or Transvaal or rebels of Cape Colony into
     Rhodesian territory.

     The officers were:--Major C. D. Learoyd, Royal Engineers; Major
     A. V. Jenner, D.S.O., Rifle Brigade; Major C. L. Josling, Royal
     Army Medical Corps; Major G. A. R. Carew, 7th Hussars; Captain
     E. Peach, Indian Staff Corps; Captain R. G. Partridge, Army
     Ordnance Department; Captain W. E. Lawrence, South Wales
     Borderers; Second Lieutenant C. S. Rome, 11th Hussars; Second
     Lieutenant C. H. Dillon, Rifle Brigade; Paymaster G. J. C.
     Whittington, Hon. Colonel; Lieutenant Pemberton; Major P.
     Dalton, late 3rd V.B. Royal Fusiliers; Major C. D. Guise, 3rd
     Gloucester Regiment; Brevet-Major P. Moir Byres, 1st Dragoon
     Guards; Captain C. W. Kennard, 3rd Gordon Highlanders; Second
     Lieutenant W. H. Longden, 4th East Surrey Regiment; Chaplain
     Rev. F. P. Moreton, M.A.; Lieutenant R. Laing, surgeon;
     Lieutenant E. A. Parsons, surgeon; Lieutenant H. Cardin,
     surgeon; Lieutenant F. F. Bond, surgeon; Lieutenant G. H.
     Collard, surgeon; Lieutenant F. R. Pullin, surgeon; Lieutenant
     H. D. Buss, surgeon; Colonel H. C. Wood, late 10th Hussars;
     Lieut.-Colonel J. Leslie, 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers;
     Lieutenant-Colonel B. G. Booth, late Scots Guards; Major J. W.
     Traill, late 4th Cheshire; Captain R. Gray, C.M.G., late 6th
     Dragoons; Captain E. C. P. Curzon, late 18th Hussars; Captain
     F. C. P. Curzon, Royal Irish Rifles; Captain H. F. F. Fisher,
     Army Service Corps; Veterinary-Captain H. T. W. Mann;
     Lieutenant J. K. Rashleigh, late Artillery Militia; Lieutenant
     F. J. Lawrence, late English Militia; Lieutenant C. A.
     Burgoyne, 3rd Dragoon Guards; Lieutenant A. Wormald, surgeon;
     Major E. J. Tickell, D.S.O., 14th Hussars; Captain J. Ponsonby,
     Coldstream Guards; Captain Pereira, Coldstream Guards; Captain
     H. J. Haddock, Royal Welsh Fusiliers; Captain R. K. Arbuthnot,
     Royal Irish Regiment; Lieutenant W. D. P. Watson, late Scots
     Greys; Major G. Wright, R.G.A.; Major A. Paris, R.M.A.; Captain
     and Hon. Major G. E. Giles, late R.A. In all, forty-four


     The following is a list of the names and numbers of the local
     forces which the colony of Natal has put into the field: Natal
     Naval Volunteers, 150; Natal Carabineers (Colonel Royston,
     since dead), 465; Natal Mounted Rifles, 200; Border Mounted
     Rifles, 270; Umvoti Mounted Rifles (Major Leuchars), 130; Natal
     Field Artillery, 120; Natal Royal Rifles, 145; Durban Light
     Infantry, 400; Medical Staff, 7; Veterinary, 3; Staff, 19;
     Natal Mounted Police (Europeans) at Ladysmith and other
     portions of the Colony (Colonel Dartnell), 649; Thorneycroft's
     Mounted Infantry (Colonel Thorneycroft, Royal Scots Fusiliers,
     D.A.A.G.), 500; Bethune's Mounted Infantry (Lieut.-Colonel
     Bethune, 16th Lancers, Colonel Addison second in command), 500;
     Imperial Light Infantry (Colonel Nash), 1000; Imperial Light
     Horse (Colonel Scott Chisholm, killed 21st November 1899), 500;
     Colonial Scouts (Colonel Edwards, Captain Sydney Osborne), 500;
     Ambulance Bearers (1st section), 1000; Ambulance Bearers (2nd
     section), 600. Total, 7158.

     The South African Light Horse is mentioned among the Cape
     Colonial troops, though it has done notable work in Natal. The
     second and third regiments of the corps became respectively
     Roberts's and Kitchener's Horse. In the district of Kaffraria
     half the available men were embodied, men belonging to the Duke
     of Edinburgh's Own Volunteer Rifles--one of the corps of
     "regulars" belonging to Cape Colony.

     The South African Light Horse was started on the 12th of
     November. By order of Sir Redvers Buller a recruiting office
     was opened in Cape Town, whereupon the place was instantly
     invaded. Patriotic fervour ran high, and every one desired to
     take a share in showing forth the might of Great Britain. The
     officers, Major Byng (10th Hussars, with temporary rank of
     colonel) and Captain Villiers (R.H.G., with temporary rank of
     major), set themselves manfully to hurry the work of
     organisation. In no time men were picked--fine riders and fine
     shots--mounted and equipped. Saddlery, tents, harness,
     ammunition--all were gathered together with startling celerity.
     Among the troopers were British-born subjects, Uitlanders,
     Colonials, Americans, farmers, seamen, &c. The officers hailed
     from many regiments--the 10th Hussars, Royal Horse Guards, Life
     Guards, 11th Hussars, 20th Hussars, Gordon Highlanders,
     Yeomanry, Militia--all manner of men of distinction and wealth
     and breeding uniting together in a common brotherhood for a
     common cause.

     The following is a list of the officers: Colonel Byng, 10th
     Hussars, commanding; Major Villiers, Royal Horse Guards, second
     in command; Captain Fraser, 1st Life Guards, adjutant; Captain
     French, late L.G., Maxims; Captain Harden, Transport; Captain
     Murray; Captain Anderson; Captain Hull, paymaster; Vet.-Captain
     Walker; Vet.-Lieutenant Steele; Chaplain Rev. G. Eales.
     Squadron Leaders--Captain Balfour, late 11th Hussars; Major
     (Bimbash) Stewart, Gordon Highlanders; Captain Kirkwood;
     Captain Gatacre; Captain Renton; Captain Whittaker; Captain
     Child; Captain Allgood. Lieutenants Milne, Tucker, Brown,
     Jobling, De Rougemont, Tarbutt, Davis, Bathurst, Shepherd;
     Second Lieutenants Warren, Carlton Smith, Hamilton, Cock,
     Leith, Welstead, Robinson, Oates, Johnson, Vignelles, Vaughan,
     Carlisle, Marsden, Overbeck, Newman, Penrose, Kuhlman, Horne,
     Cloete, Walker-Leigh, Hon. de Saumarez, Thorold, Kitson,

     Three squadrons under Captain Byng proceeded to the front to
     Natal, where they immediately distinguished themselves, while
     the remainder of the regiment went to the western border, and
     there took a full share of incessant work.

     The Natal Mounted Police under Colonel Dartnell, "a genius,
     planner, and guide," did wonderful deeds in relation to the
     defence of Ladysmith and during the trying actions which
     preceded it. The gallant colonel, who has been described in
     action as being "as good as a brigade," placed his own horse at
     the disposal of General Symons, who was wounded, and saw him
     safely off the field at Glencoe.

     The Natal Carabineers served splendidly both within and without
     Ladysmith, some of the force, under Lord Dundonald, being the
     first to relieve the town. Their fighting qualities are well
     known, and it is unnecessary to do more than quote the words of
     General Hunter, who said, "I never wish to serve with better

     First-rate work has been done by the Frontier Mounted Rifles, a
     well-trained and excellently-equipped body of men, all in the
     prime of life, and drawn from the eastern border towns of the
     Cape Colony. They held a position of continual danger, being
     encamped nearest the enemy. Being born and bred among the
     kopjes which afforded the Boers such cosy hiding-places, they
     were acquainted with every nook and corner, and could find
     their way about them both in daylight and dark. This force,
     with the Cape Police, helped to keep General Gatacre informed
     regarding the seething mass of disloyalty that surrounded him.
     It was difficult to choose between the honest hostility of the
     Free Staters and the crafty antagonism of the rebel Dutchmen,
     who had joined the enemy almost to a man. These were known to
     be in active collusion with the foe, assisting them by spying,
     blowing up culverts, wrecking railway lines, and generally
     assisting in the development of the plots to sweep British rule
     from the soil of Africa. Loyal British subjects had much to
     suffer at the hands of these people, who spent their time
     carrying off and destroying furniture and valuables, smashing
     windows and doors, and damaging all property other than their
     own that they could lay hands on, and with these duplicit
     ruffians the British troops unaided by Colonials could never
     have been even. Besides the valuable services of the Frontier
     Mounted Rifles and the Cape Police, General Gatacre had under
     him four other regiments of Cape Colonials, who were all trying
     to outrival each other in nobility, pluck, and usefulness. Of
     many other regiments pages might be written, but space does not
     permit. In regard to the Imperial Light Horse, one sentence
     expressed by Sir George White speaks volumes. He said it was
     composed of the finest fighting material that he had ever had
     under his command.


     Early in the days of war Lord Lonsdale offered to take out to
     South Africa 200 men of the Westmoreland and Cumberland
     Yeomanry, of which he is colonel, and to fully equip and clothe
     them. Lord Harris and his regiment, the East Kent Mounted
     Rifles, also were among the first to volunteer for the front,
     and before that the Middlesex Yeomanry (the Duke of
     Cambridge's Hussars) made a hurried application to go to the
     Transvaal, which impetuosity of loyalty was met by the War
     Office with courteous refusal. At that time the need for light
     cavalry in South Africa seemed scarcely to have dawned on the
     authorities. It was true that October mists and November fogs
     had enveloped London, and that no one between Downing Street
     and the Mansion House could see an inch before his nose, and it
     was equally true that by the time these mists had cleared away
     there was only one question, namely, "How many men could be
     sent abroad out of the 10,000 who constituted the Yeomanry

     Then, in December, the following announcement, with regulations
     to be observed in the organisation of a Contingent of Yeomanry
     and Volunteers, was published:--

     YEOMANRY.--1. Her Majesty's Government have decided to raise
     for service in South Africa a mounted infantry force, to be
     named "The Imperial Yeomanry." 2. The force will be recruited
     from the Yeomanry, but Volunteers and civilians who may possess
     the requisite qualifications (as given below) will be specially
     enrolled in the Yeomanry for this purpose. 3. The force will be
     organised in companies of 115 rank and file, five officers
     being allotted to each company, viz., one captain and four
     subalterns, preference being given to Yeomanry officers. 4. The
     term of enlistment for officers and men will be for one year,
     or for not less than the period of the war. 5. The officers and
     men will bring their own horses, clothing, saddlery, and
     accoutrements. Arms and ammunition, camp equipment, and
     regimental transport will be provided by Government. 6. The men
     will be dressed in Norfolk jackets, of woollen material of
     neutral colour, breeches and gaiters, lace boots, and felt
     hats. Strict uniformity of pattern will not be insisted upon.
     7. The pay will be at cavalry rates, with a capitation grant
     for horses, clothing, saddles, and accoutrements. All ranks
     will receive rations from date of joining. Gratuities and
     allowances will be those laid down in special army order of May
     10, 1899. 8. Applications for enrolment should be addressed to
     colonels commanding Yeomanry regiments, or to General Officers
     commanding districts, to whom instructions will be immediately

     _Qualifications._--(_a_) Candidates must be from twenty to
     thirty-five years of age and of good character. (_b_)
     Volunteers or civilian candidates must satisfy the colonel of
     the regiment through which they enlist that they are good
     riders and marksmen, according to Yeomanry standard. (_c_) The
     standard of physique to be that for cavalry of the line.

     VOLUNTEERS.--Her Majesty's Government have decided to accept
     offers of service in South Africa from the Volunteers. A
     carefully selected company of 110 rank and file, officered by
     one captain and three subalterns, will be raised (one for each
     British line battalion serving in, or about to proceed to,
     South Africa) from the Volunteer battalions of the territorial
     regiment. These Volunteer companies will, as a general rule,
     take the place in the line battalion of its company, serving as
     mounted infantry. The Volunteer battalions from which a company
     is accepted will form and maintain a waiting company in reserve
     at home. The selection of men from the Volunteer battalions for
     service with the line battalion in the field, will devolve on
     the commanding officers of Volunteer battalions. The terms of
     enlistment for officers and men will be for one year, or for
     not less than the period of the war. Full instructions for the
     information of all concerned will be issued with the least
     possible delay through General Officers commanding districts.


     Drawing by Allan Stewart.]

     A committee was formed to assist in organising the Yeomanry
     force, among which were the following notable persons:
     Colonel Lord Chesham, Colonel A. G. Lucas, Colonel Viscount
     Valentia, Colonel the Right Hon. W. H. Long, M. P. Colonel the
     Earl of Lonsdale consented to assist the committee in the
     obtaining of horses. The following Acting Staff Officers were
     nominated to assist Colonel Lord Chesham: Captain the Hon. W.
     Bagot (late Scots Guards), Captain L. Sandwith (8th Hussars),
     Adjutant of the 2nd Yeomanry Brigade.

     In a short, an almost incredibly short, space of time numerous
     battalions were in readiness, and a strong contingent from
     Ireland was raised, composed mainly of hunting men. The
     Under-Secretary for War wrote to correct the impression which
     prevailed in some quarters that the raising of funds by private
     subscriptions for the Volunteers and Imperial Yeomanry going to
     South Africa was promoted by Government in order to do work
     which ought to be done with Government money. He pointed out
     that the Government was bearing the whole cost of those forces,
     providing them directly with their pay, food, and arms, and,
     through their regiments, with clothing and equipments. But the
     Government allowance for these things was calculated on the
     regular army scale, and the public subscription would be
     serviceable in the way of making better provision in those
     directions for the local Volunteers and Yeomanry, of locally
     overcoming certain difficulties of organisation, and of
     decentralising a great deal of contracting for horses, saddles,
     clothing, &c. Why, they argued, should the man who volunteers
     his service in the field bear also all the cost of making
     himself efficient, and all the cost entailed by his absence
     from his trade or profession? Surely those who could not
     volunteer for the front will be glad to assist him, or his
     corps in this case, as they have assisted him or his corps in
     time of peace for forty years? Quantities of men of independent
     means throughout the country, a great many of whom were
     acquainted with each other, were ready and anxious to form a
     corps of the Imperial Yeomanry, messing and fighting together,
     and enduring the hardships and dangers of the trooper in
     emulation of the regular service man; and to this body of men
     the corps specially appealed. Though at first some 5000 men
     were called for, it was evident that 10,000 could have been
     recruited if needed. The magnificent example set by thousands
     of young men in humble stations of life, who left home and good
     employment courageously to serve their country, acted as a
     powerful incentive to their more fortunate brethren of means
     and leisure, and it was astonishing to find how readily all the
     members of the "upper ten" sacrificed themselves rather than be
     "out of it." Eventually the Duke of Cambridge's Own, the
     Special Corps, went to Africa, paying their own expenses. In
     this corps every trooper, equally with every other member of
     the Imperial Yeomanry, was entitled to a grant of £65 on
     joining, but all other expenses were defrayed by themselves,
     and even the pay received during the campaign was devoted to
     swell the Imperial War Fund for the widows and orphans of
     soldiers who had fallen in action. The cost of equipment of
     each recruit amounted to £170. The special purpose of the
     scheme was to attract men of social standing and education, and
     enable groups of friends to serve together in the same unit at
     the front. Among those who were enrolled was Lord Elphinstone;
     Mr. Geoffrey Malcolm Gathorne-Hardy, grandson of the Earl of
     Cranbrook; Captain Shaw; the Hon. Aubrey N. Molyneux Herbert
     (brother of the Earl of Carnarvon); the Hon. A. Hill-Trevor.
     Lord Lovat engaged himself actively in raising a corps of
     Highland gillies. In addition to the Government grant,
     magnificent contributions poured in for the full equipment of
     the corps. Lord Loch worked energetically in organising the
     South African Contingent of the Imperial Yeomanry. These
     troops were formed only of men who had South African
     experience, and had seen service there.

     The following is a list of the various battalions:--

     1st Battalion (Colonel Challoner)--1st and 2nd Co. Royal
     Wiltshire Yeomanry; 4th Co. Glamorganshire Detachment; 3rd Co.
     Gloucestershire Yeomanry. 2nd Battalion (Colonel Burke)--32nd
     Co. Lancashire Hussars; 21st and 22nd Co. Cheshire Yeomanry;
     5th Co. Warwickshire Yeomanry. 3rd Battalion (Colonel
     Younghusband)--9th Co. Yorkshire Hussars; 11th Co. Yorkshire
     Dragoons; 12th Co. South Notts; 10th Co. Notts (Sherwood
     Rangers). 4th Battalion (Colonel Blair)--7th Co. Leicestershire
     Yeomanry; 8th Co. Derbyshire Yeomanry; 6th Co. Staffordshire
     Yeomanry; 28th Co. Bedfordshire Detachment. 5th Battalion
     (Colonel Meyrick)--14th and 15th Co. Northumberland; 13th Co.
     Shropshire; 16th Co. Worcestershire. 6th Battalion (Colonel
     Burn)--17th Co. Ayrshire Yeomanry; 18th Co. Lanarkshire
     Yeomanry; 19th Co. Lothian and Berwickshire; 20th Co. Fife
     Light Horse. 7th Battalion (Colonel Helyar)--27th Co. Royal 1st
     Devon, Royal North Devon; 48th Co. North Somerset; 25th Co.
     West Somerset; 26th Co. Dorsetshire. 8th Battalion (Colonel
     Crawley)--23rd Co. Duke of Lancaster's Own; 51st and 52nd Co.
     Mr. Paget's Corps; 24th Co. Westmoreland and Cumberland. 9th
     Battalion (Colonel Howard)--29th Co. Denbighshire; 30th Co.
     Pembrokeshire; 31st and 49th Co. Montgomeryshire. 10th
     Battalion (Colonel Lord Chesham)--37th and 38th Co.
     Buckinghamshire; 39th Co. Berkshire; 40th Co. Oxfordshire, 11th
     Battalion (Colonel Wilson)--42nd Co. Hertfordshire; 43rd and
     44th Co. Suffolk; 41st Co. Hampshire Carabineers. 12th
     Battalion (Colonel Mitford)--34th and 35th Co. Middlesex; 33rd
     Co. Royal East Kent; 36th Co. West Kent. 13th Battalion--54th
     and 56th Co. Irish (Belfast) Companies; 45th Co. Irish (Dublin)
     Company; 47th Co. Lord Donoughmore's Corps (Duke of Cambridge's
     Own). 14th Battalion (Lieut.-Colonel Brookfield)--55th Co.
     Northumberland; 53rd Co. Royal East Kent; 50th Co. Hampshire;
     62nd Co. Middlesex. 15th Battalion (Lieut.-Colonel
     Sandwith)--56th and 57th Co. Bucks; 58th Co. Berks; 59th Co.
     Oxford. 16th Battalion (Lieut.-Colonel Ridley)--63rd Co. Wilts;
     64th Co. Cheshire; 65th Co. Suffolk; 66th Co. York. 17th
     Battalion (Lieut.-Colonel Moore ?)--60th Co. North Irish,
     Belfast; 61st Co. South Irish, Dublin. 18th Battalion--67th,
     70th, and 71st Co. Sharpshooters. 19th Battalion
     (Lieut.-Colonel Rodney ?)--69th Co. Sussex; 68th Co. Paget's
     Corps; 72nd Co. Rough Riders; 73rd Co. Paget's Corps.

     Each battalion consisted of four companies of 116 each.

     Colonel Viscount Downe, who was serving on Lord Roberts's staff
     in South Africa, was elected to command a brigade of the
     Imperial Yeomanry, and Lieutenant the Hon. R. F. Molyneux,
     Royal Horse Guards, was selected as his aide-de-camp.

     Lord Dunraven's Battalion of Sharpshooters embarked for Africa
     to join the Rhodesian Force on the 6th of April. It was
     composed of four companies. The 67th, under the command of
     Captain Crum (late 52nd Regiment), was accompanied by
     Lieutenants Langford, Jones, Curley, and Dyke. The 75th,
     commanded by Major Warden (late Middlesex Regiment), was
     accompanied by Lieutenants Gabbett, Power, Warde, and
     Bosanquet. The 70th Company, comprising the Scottish Unit under
     Colonel Hill (late 12th Lancers), was accompanied by
     Lieutenants Clark, Torrance, Hotchkiss, and Andrews. The
     remaining company was commanded by Sir Savile Crossley.

     The Earl of Dunraven, the founder of the corps, went to South
     Africa as Supernumerary Captain on the Battalion Staff.


     The announcement that the Government had decided to send to
     South Africa a force of Volunteers, was received with general
     delight by our civilian soldiers throughout the country. Here
     was a chance--a chance never before offered to earn distinction
     in the field; and here was an opportunity--most seasonable and
     appropriate, for the expression of public opinion, and for the
     display, the universal and effervescent patriotism that had
     found little chance of outlet in the prosaic walks of everyday
     life. The official intimation came as a surprise, and surprise
     in a few moments developed into unrestrained joy. The proposal
     to employ "a strong contingent of carefully selected
     Volunteers" was no sooner published than the War Office was
     besieged with applicants all eager to know what chance of being
     included in the great military movement might be available. A
     few weeks before the opening of Parliament Colonel Sir Howard
     Vincent volunteered "marksmen" for service in South Africa, and
     other colonels of Volunteer regiments followed suit. General
     Trotter (commanding the Home District) expressed a belief that
     the employment of Volunteers in the present crisis would
     demonstrate for all who should care to profit by the lesson the
     magnificent reserve force of civilian soldiers possessed by our
     nation, a force utterly ignored by Continental nations. This
     force was practically a force of picked men, selected marksmen
     who, unlike the "Regulars," were all first-rate shots, and fit
     to cope with the skilled sharpshooters of the Boers. The
     marksmanship of many of the London corps of Volunteers has for
     many years been phenomenal, and it was said that in one company
     of the 13th Middlesex there were no less than sixty-three
     first-class shots out of eighty. Finally, it was decided that
     the "C.I.V.'s," as they were called, should consist of 1400,
     and both corps sailed towards the end of January. Prior to
     their departure the Freedom of the City was conferred upon the
     officers of the regiment at the Guildhall, and later an
     impressive farewell service was held at St. Paul's Cathedral.
     Their departure through London was somewhat difficult, owing to
     the dense and enthusiastic multitude that thronged the streets
     to see the last of them.


     (By permission of Messrs. Vickers, Sons & Maxim, and the
     publishers of the _Engineer_.)]

     The Lord Mayor, Mr. Newton (now Sir A. J. Newton, Bart.), who
     was the moving spirit in the organisation of the corps, gave an
     excellent account of the splendid work that had been
     accomplished and of the prompt equipment and despatch of the
     regiment. This report concisely and modestly describes the
     enormous undertaking, though it does not sufficiently enlarge
     on the keen personal interest and magnificent services rendered
     by the prime mover in the great scheme. The Lord Mayor said:
     "From the moment when the Commander-in-Chief did me the honour
     of placing in my hands, as Chief Magistrate of the City of
     London, the organisation of a regiment of thoroughly qualified
     Volunteers for service in South Africa, I have been profoundly
     impressed with the responsibility of the trust, and the
     importance of every promise made on behalf of the Corporation
     and City of London being fulfilled in its integrity. The
     original promise was 1000 Metropolitan Volunteers, all
     recommended by their commanding officers, all between twenty
     and thirty-five years, all bachelors, and that at least 250
     should be mounted. That was on the 20th of December (1899), and
     now, on the 3rd of February (1900), the City of London, with
     the approval of the military authorities, has completely
     equipped and despatched to the seat of war upwards of 1550
     selected Volunteers, of whom 500 men and 17 officers are
     already in Cape Town--all approved by the General Officer
     commanding the Home District. Of these, 400 are mounted
     infantry, having their saddlery with them, and their horses
     ready at the Cape. Four small Maxim guns, with 200,000 rounds
     of ammunition, have also been shipped. A highly trained battery
     of field artillery, mainly provided by the Honourable Artillery
     Company, through the zealous co-operation of the Earl of
     Denbigh, composed of 140 men and officers, left the Royal
     Albert Docks by the steamship _Montfort_. This section took
     with it four 12½-pounder quick-firing guns and ample
     ammunition, together with their full complement of 110 horses,
     purchased here, as they must be of a stouter type than the Cape
     horses. The City has also--which was not originally
     intended--provided the entire camp and tent equipment for the
     whole force when it leaves Cape Town, and, at the request of
     the authorities, done a good deal in the direction of land
     transport, without interfering with the responsibility of the
     Headquarters Staff in South Africa in respect of maintenance of
     the corps. The regiment constitutes a part of her Majesty's
     regular army. The officers and men are soldiers, and remain so
     during the campaign. The time has been very brief, but there
     has been neither hurry nor confusion, and the explanation of
     the successful results may be fairly summed up as follows: As
     soon as Lord Wolseley accepted my offer, made on behalf of the
     Corporation and City, I was in the position of an autocrat in
     this business, and the power of the purse was promptly placed
     at my disposal--in the first instance by the Corporation with
     its grant of £25,000, by the City Livery Companies, the large
     shipowners, bankers, merchants, the Honourable Artillery
     Companies, its members, and the citizens generally. The
     Metropolitan Volunteer commanding officers vied with each other
     as to who could send the most men, do the most work, and be the
     most useful. The result is that, with the exception of a few
     staff officers from the regular army, the officers of the City
     Imperial Volunteers are gentlemen engaged in civil pursuits,
     but who have spent years in efficiently performing their
     duties. The non-commissioned officers are most carefully picked
     from the vast band of qualified men holding the same or higher
     rank in their own Volunteer regiments, and every man of the
     rank and file has been expressly recommended by his commanding
     officer for the particular duty allotted to him. Several
     committees have dealt with sea and land transport, equipment,
     saddlery, and finance, and Volunteer commanding officers have
     served on all these. A committee of the Honourable Artillery
     Company and the battery officers arranged the details of their
     own equipment without coming to the Mansion House for anything
     but the inevitable cheque. The selection of Colonel Mackinnon,
     A.A.G., Home District, as commandant was a very fortunate one
     for all concerned. Major-General Turner, C.B., R.A., has been
     constant in his attendance at the Mansion House, and always at
     hand when technical assistance was required. Major Freemantle
     and Lieutenant Grantham have been indefatigable, while my son
     as hon. secretary to, and Mr. A. D. Watson, a member of, the
     Equipment Committee, have gone to Cape Town as the connecting
     link for a short time between the regiment and its
     headquarters--the Mansion House. Colonel C. G. Boxall, C.B., on
     whose initiative I took up this work, has thoroughly and
     loyally fulfilled in every sense his promise to me to see this
     business completed, for which his admittedly great technical
     knowledge and his indomitable zeal in the Volunteer cause so
     eminently fit him. Mr. Abe Bailey, D.L. of the City, who from
     the first placed his services at my disposal, is acting as
     honorary agent of the regiment at Cape Town. He purchased over
     four hundred horses, and arranged for their being put in
     training and ready for the arrival of the first contingent,
     besides rendering other and invaluable aid. Several City firms
     have furnished contingents of their expert employees, whose
     services at the Guildhall in the preparation and distribution
     of "kits" have been of great assistance. The payment of
     accounts is now progressing, and at the first opportunity an
     audited statement of receipts and expenditure will be
     presented. In conclusion, I would state that the whole force
     has gone to the front with no burning desire for glory, but
     with a determination to do its duty, and with an intense
     loyalty and devotion to their beloved Sovereign."


     Officers.--Infantry--Colonel, Earl of Albemarle; second in
     command, Lieutenant-Colonel A. G. Pawle; Adjutant, Captain the
     Hon. J. R. Bailey. A Company--Captain A. Reid; Lieutenant F. R.
     Jeffrey; Lieutenant E. D. Townroe. B Company--Captain C. W.
     Berkeley; Lieutenant B. W. Garnett; Lieutenant J. W. Cohen. C
     Company--Captain C. Matthey; Lieutenant the Hon. S. McDonnell,
     C.B.; Lieutenant E. Treffry. D Company--Captain F. J. Cousens;
     Lieutenant J. H. Smith; Lieutenant F. R. Burnside. E
     Company--Captain R. B. Shipley; Lieutenant W. J. P. Benson;
     Lieutenant F. B. Marsh. F Company--Captain W. Edis; Lieutenant
     P. F. Brown; Lieutenant S. H. Hole. G Company--Captain A. A.
     Howell; Lieutenant C. P. Grindle; Lieutenant P. Croft. H
     Company--Captain C. A. Mortimer; Lieutenant W. B. I. Alt;
     Lieutenant B. C. Green. Quartermaster, Captain S. Firth.
     Medical Officer, Surgeon-Captain E. St. V. Ryan. Staff--Colonel
     W. H. Mackinnon; Lieutenant E. H. Trotter; Transport Captain J.
     E. H. Orr; Paymaster Captain Triggs (late A. P. D.); Medical
     Officer, Surgeon-Captain R. R. Sleman; Veterinary Officer, W.
     S. Mulvey. Battery--Major G. McMicking; Captain E. C. Budworth;
     Lieutenant A. C. Lowe; Lieutenant H. Bayley; Lieutenant J. F.
     Duncan; Surgeon, Captain A. Thorne. Mounted Infantry--Colonel
     H. C. Cholmondeley; Adjutant Captain E. Bell; Quartermaster J.
     Ridler. Machine-Gun Section--Lieutenant E. V. Wellby. No. 1
     Company--Captain J. W. Reid; Lieutenant G. Berry; Lieutenant W.
     H. Brailey; Lieutenant B. Moeller; Lieutenant C. H. W. Wilson.
     No. 2 Company--Captain J. F. Waterlow; Lieutenant A. Bailey;
     Lieutenant E. G. Concanon; Lieutenant A. H. Henderson;
     Lieutenant E. A. Manisty.


[6] For much valuable information I am indebted to the editor of the
_South African Volunteer Gazette_.



The troops with General French were in very fine fettle. They had no
past history; they were not damped by the remembrance of a Majesfontein,
a Stormberg, or a Colenso. They had perfect confidence in their chief;
they had just enough hard work to keep their wits polished and their
minds alert, and in the intervals there was sport of a kind for those
who fancied it.

Fighting in and around Colesberg was incessant. The Boers were most
stubborn in their determination to get rid of the British, and General
French was equally stubborn in his determination to get rid of the
Boers! Colesberg was a situation to be desired, and both British and
Boer forces fought desperately to hold it. It is situated some
thirty-seven miles north of Naauwpoort, which is the junction of a
branch line to De Aar. Between Naauwpoort and Colesberg are undulating
pastures, and the town itself, which boasts a population of 1900 souls,
possesses three--till lately--thriving hotels. In addition to these
attractions it has for the Boers another--the attraction of being the
birthplace of Oom Paul. Its capture would have mightily impressed the
waverers in Cape Colony, consequently General French determined to
celebrate the New Year by making another lunge at the enemy.

Early on Monday morning his troops took up a position upon the kopjes
surrounding the town. His force, divided into two brigades commanded by
Colonel Porter (Carabineers) and Colonel Fisher (10th Hussars),
simultaneously attacked the Boer position.

The second brigade started from Rensburg at five on the previous
afternoon, passed the night at Maider's farm, and in the small hours
proceeded to their destination, the Boer position on Kul Kop, and seized
the kopjes overlooking Colesberg on the west.

The advance was made on the Boer haunts at nine, and was greeted by a
tornado from the surprised enemy, whose position extended for six miles
round the entire village. Our artillery answered briskly, continuing a
two hours' argument which had the result of effectually silencing the
seven or eight Boer guns. (Curiously enough, on inspection, it was
discovered that some of the Boer shells had been manufactured at the
Royal Laboratory, Woolwich!)

Meanwhile the cavalry and horse-artillery were endeavouring to work
round to the north of the enemy's position. The foe, ever nimble, was
kept "on the trot." He was driven from hill to hill. Brilliantly the
Berkshires, under Major M'Cracken, stormed a kopje to the west of
Colesberg, occupying successive positions and pouring a torrent of lead
on the enemy, who fled in disorder with loud shouts! Splendidly wheeled
the cavalry, under Colonel Fisher, executing at the same time a flank
movement and closing in round the Dutchmen, who had but time to flee.
The enemy retired towards the west, followed always by the British, but
owing to the peculiar disposition of the many kopjes in the vicinity the
task of pursuing them was difficult. In their retreat towards Colesberg
Junction they were hotly chased by the cavalry, and Colesberg itself was
left almost in our hands.

On the 2nd of January an unfortunate accident occurred. A train within
the British lines was mysteriously set in motion, and was carried by the
impetus given to it in the direction of the Boer lines. It travelled
slowly, but sufficiently fast to get out of reach, and as the machine
was full of supplies, it was necessary to fire on and destroy it rather
than allow the Boers to reap the reward of rebel treachery. The brakes
were found to have been taken off the trucks, and a Dutchman was
arrested on suspicion of having perpetrated the deed. At first an
attempt was made to mend the trucks, the working party being supported
by Carabineers and the Mounted Infantry; but these were bombarded by the
Boers, and finally the trucks had to be fired to prevent the rations
they contained, a quantity of rum, from falling into the hands of the
enemy. The New South Wales Lancers under Major Lee, who were sent to the
scene to avert looting by the foe, spent five hours under fire, holding
the position and returning the fire with great gallantry.

The small force under General French's command at this time consisted of
the Carabineers, 10th Hussars, Inniskilling Dragoons, O and R Batteries
of Horse Artillery, the Berkshires and Suffolks, the New South Wales
Lancers and New Zealanders. With this limited number he had worked
wonders, driving the Dutchmen out from the kopjes immediately around
Arundel, and forcing them continually to shift their position, a process
which effectually deterred them from gaining ground. The Boer position
now lay on long lines of kopjes to east and west of the rails, from
Taaibosch Laagte to Rensburg; in the middle of the plain was the
dumpling-figured kopje known as Val Kop which the British had been
forced to evacuate.

The enemy now prepared a little surprise. At daybreak on the 4th they
made a sudden attempt to outflank the British position beyond Coleskop,
westward of the town; thus hoping to reopen communications with the
northern waggon bridge.

In General French's report of the day's work, he said: "The enemy was
found to have established himself in strength at some hills running
about east and west at right angles to the left rear of our position.
The cavalry on the left should not have allowed him to do this unseen,
but in turning him out they rendered signal service. The 10th Hussars,
with two guns which I sent to them, threatened to take them in reverse,
and they were heavily fired upon by the remaining four guns of O Battery
in front. This caused several hundred to abandon the position, and the
plain was covered with flying horsemen. The 10th Hussars on one flank,
and a squadron of the Inniskillings on the other, dashed after them. The
10th Hussars were checked by some of the Boers taking up a strong
position in some rocks to cover the retreat of the others. In a most
gallant style Colonel Fisher dismounted his men and led them on foot
against this position, which they carried with great boldness and

"In this daring operation, I regret to say, Major Harvey was killed, and
Major Alexander severely wounded.

"The 6th Dragoons, led by Captain E. A. Herbert, showed no less dash,
pursuing the enemy, mounted, and inflicting some loss with their lances.
Some 200 of the enemy had, however, still clung to the hills, and after
shelling them for some considerable time, both in front and flank, I
decided to clear the position with the Mounted Infantry. Advancing under
cover of the fire of the artillery, Captain De Lisle moved his men with
great skill to a position where he could move against the enemy's right
flank. Here he dismounted and advanced to attack, choosing the ground
with admirable care. At this threat at least 100 more of the Boers took
to flight in many small parties, the remainder endeavoured to check the
Mounted Infantry advance. When one half the position was made good, a
final exodus was made by the enemy, and twenty-one last remaining Boers
surrendered. The Mounted Infantry suffered no casualties. This operation
was most skilfully and boldly carried out by Captain De Lisle. It has
been conclusively ascertained that on this day the enemy lost upwards of
ninety killed and wounded, our casualties being six killed and fifteen


Photo by Gregory & Co., London.]

On the 5th of January, Lieutenant Sir John Milbanke, who went out with a
patrol of five men on the plain north of Colesberg, came in touch with
the enemy. The Boers galloped up to intercept the small British party,
and Sir John Milbanke was slightly wounded in the thigh. This form of
skirmish was an almost daily occurrence, for round the place was a
species of Boer girdle. The Dutchmen, like flies--swept off at one
moment to return the next--now buzzed in the hills within a mile radius
from the town, while on the north, in the direction of the Free State,
and in the east towards Aliwal and Burghersdorp, they remained in
undisturbed possession of the country. To the north of Colesberg was a
hill which practically commanded the road to Orange River, and also
other roads leading to the town. That this hill should be in British
possession was eminently desirable, and Colonel Watson conceived the
idea that it might be easily taken and held by us. With General French's
permission, on Friday, the 5th of January, he arranged an expedition, a
midnight one, for the purpose of gaining the coveted position. He
started forth at two o'clock on the morning of the 6th with four
companies of the Suffolk Regiment. After marching stealthily in the
darkness for about a mile, they reached the foot of the hill. This kopje
had been often reconnoitred by various officers, and it was not due to
any rashness on their part that a lamentable accident occurred. They
marched through the dead of night to the top of the hill. In the morning
twilight they were attacked by the enemy, who, aware of their design,
was awaiting them. So completely had the troops fallen into a trap, that
when the rifles blazed out they were at a distance of only thirty paces
from the Dutchmen. The Colonel, who had halted to address the men, the
Adjutant, and two other officers, were wounded before the Suffolks had
found time to fire a single shot. Indeed, so quickly were they pounced
on, that Colonel Watson, on giving orders to charge, fell riddled with
bullets. Suddenly orders, none knew from whence, were given to "retire."
Some said it was a ruse of the Boers. The rear fled back to the pickets,
some thousand yards off, believing the order came from their officers;
others--about a hundred and twenty officers and men--remained, refusing
to budge. They fought bravely, but were eventually compelled to
surrender. All were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners. Of eleven
officers, but one remained! The Boers were evidently well-informed of
the commanding officer's programme, and their tactics were so clever and
combined that they contrived to create something of a panic when the
unfortunate Suffolks, who thought themselves only preparing for attack,
were definitely attacked. Critics sitting in judgment at home declared
that ordinary precautions would have averted the chance of being
entrapped, but others, who knew Kaffir ways and the condition of the
country, where every keyhole was an ear and every leaf of a tree an eye,
were inclined to marvel that so few disasters happened.

One of the officers writing of the affair said: "It is quite certain the
Colonel never gave that order, or the officers would have retired too.
They remained to a man, except Graham, who was wounded early, and could
not hold his rifle. He dragged himself down the hill, and somehow
crawled the two miles into camp. The Boers said those that were left
charged three times and behaved splendidly. The position was impossible
to take, even if a brigade had attacked, although it had been carefully
reconnoitred. The ditch, with the loopholed wall near the top of the
hill, could only have been discovered by a balloon. The Colonel's last
words were, 'Remember Gibraltar, my boys!'"[7]

There was deep regret at the loss of this distinguished officer, and the
whole force lamented the first check which this column had sustained.
The enemy was shelled at intervals, so as to make his position as
uncomfortable as possible, but the Boers still remained in possession of
the route leading to the Free State by Achtertang. Soon the Essex
Regiment was sent on to replace the 1st Suffolk, who went south to
recruit their shattered forces.

Among the wounded officers was Major Graham; Lieutenants Wilkins, Carey,
and White were killed. With those taken prisoners were Captains Brett,
Thomson, Brown; Second Lieutenants Allen, Wood-Martin, and Butler. Of
the men, 26 were killed, 45 wounded, and 72 taken prisoners or missing.

The British occupied Slingersfontein on the 9th of January. From this
time Colonel Porter and his splendidly alert troops--the 5th Dragoons,
New Zealanders and New South Wales Lancers--were busily occupied in
keeping the enemy "on the run," forcing him to leave one kopje after
another, and maintaining harassing tactics which entirely upset the
Dutchmen's calculations. Still the Boers were ubiquitous. They now held
a strong position between Colesberg and Slingersfontein, from which with
the small force at hand it was impossible to dislodge them. On the 13th,
the inconvenience of the situation was rendered more intense by a
perfect cyclone of dust which caused the utmost discomfort. Meals were
also made impossible by the aggressive attacks of the enemy, who plumped
shell after shell in the midst of the camp. Colonel Porter retired his
troops to the cover of a neighbouring hill, while three squadrons of the
6th Dragoon Guards and four guns of O Battery, Horse Artillery, advanced
across the plain and prepared to tackle the enemy. This was done with
such celerity and decision that almost in five minutes the Boer guns
were silenced and the enemy driven to cover. As a result of the prompt
activities of our artillery, the Boer tents were removed eastwards.


These sand-storms, characteristic of the Veldt, were a terrible test to
patience. At one moment the camp was an orderly array of mushroom tents
springing decorously from the earth; in the next it was seemingly an
animated mass of anthills trying to maintain life against an ochreous
avalanche of dust. Occasionally when the cyclone of grit had ceased, it
was followed by a hurricane of hail, accompanied by the gloom of night,
the bellow of the blast and growl of the thunder-claps fighting together
in the hills. Then would the frightened cattle stampede, and the whole
routine of military life become deranged. A rushing mob, a battle of the
elements, a vast ditch irrigated with rivulets, bombardment by the big
guns of the wind--such would be the programme for a good hour or so!
Then, as often as not, the sun would suddenly come out and shine
affably, with the placid, self-satisfied beam of dear old ladies when
they've trumped their partner's best card of a long suit at whist!

After this, the routine of life would go on much as before, the Dutchmen
clinging to their positions, and General French determining to make
these as untenable as possible.

On the 15th the New Zealanders had an excellent opportunity of
exhibiting their smartness and dash. The Boers made a stubborn attempt
to seize a hill that practically commanded the country to east and west
of their main position. This valuable eminence was held by a detachment
of New Zealanders and D Company of the Yorkshire Regiment under Captain
Orr. Early in the morning desultory firing began, and later the Boers,
increasing the warmth of their fire, worked towards the right of the
position held by the New Zealanders. At the same time they assailed the
Yorkshires, directing their fire at a small wall held by them and
forcing them to keep close cover. Gradually the Boers advanced, creeping
towards the wall ever nearer and nearer. They then blazed furiously from
their position on the slopes, killing the Sergeant-Major and wounding
Captain Orr. At this time Captain Madocks, R.A. (attached to the New
Zealand Mounted Rifles), and ten New Zealanders appeared on the scene,
and, to the dismay of the Boers, the whole party with a dash and a yell
leapt over the wall and charged down on their assailants with fixed
bayonets. It was a splendid act, and one which, as the officer
commanding the Yorkshires had dropped wounded, came just in time to save
the situation.

Away rushed the enemy, rolling one over another in their effort to be
off, while a sustained storm of bullets inflicted heavy loss on their
retreating numbers. From the distance they made a feeble attempt to fire
at the gallant fellows who had routed them, but eventually they retired
to the small kopjes at the base of the contested hill. There they were
saluted by a detachment of two guns of O Battery from the west of the
kopje. The enemy's long-range gun now came into play and forced the
British guns to move their position farther to the west. That done, the
small kopjes were effectively shelled and the Dutchmen's fire silenced.
The whole engagement was a signal success, and the Yorkshires and New
Zealanders were well pleased with their share of the day's work.
Twenty-one Boers were left dead on the field and many more were wounded.
(On the morning of this day an unfortunate incident occurred at
Colesberg. Lieutenant Thompson, R.H.A., while out scouting, was wounded
and taken prisoner. This officer, together with Lieutenants Talbot
Ponsonby, Lamont, and Aldridge, was especially mentioned for services
performed with the guns.)


Sketch by Frederick Villiers, War Artist.]

The events of the last few days had served to show that, however the
Colonials might differ in their customs, habits, and ideas, they were
assuredly identical in their dogged bravery and their fine spirit of

    "They come of The Blood, slower to bless than to ban,
    Little used to lie down at the bidding of any man,"--

and Captain Madocks and his hardy New Zealanders had now the
well-merited good fortune to have earned the esteem and appreciation of
all who had seen their splendid rush to the rescue of the Yorkshires. On
the 16th General French visited the New Zealanders' camp and
congratulated them on their gallant conduct during the fight.

The Boers now brought to bear on the position one of the guns captured
by them at Stormberg, and launched some ten shots into the kopjes held
by a company of the Welsh Regiment. They got as good as they gave, and
before long the enemy was completely silenced. General French's system
was a tit-for-tat form of warfare, which failed to commend itself to the
Dutchmen. It served well, however--in default of sufficient troops to
make any definite advance--to hold the enemy from proceeding farther
south in British territory. News now came in that a large force of
Dutchmen had been transferred from Majesfontein for the purpose of
reinforcing the Boer commandoes at Colesberg, and thus rendering the
paralysis of the British complete.

A very serious disaster befell a patrol consisting partly of New South
Wales Lancers and South Australian Horse, who had so nobly volunteered
their services to the Mother Country at the beginning of the war. On the
morning of the 16th of January a party of nineteen rode out from Colonel
Porter's camp for the purpose of reconnoitring towards Achtertang. It
was not yet dawn, but they pursued their investigations, reaching Norval
Camp without seeing any signs of the enemy. About 8 A.M. they commenced
the return journey naturally with a feeling of greater security than
when they started. They unfortunately fell into an ambush. A hot fight
ensued, but the Boers were in overwhelming numbers, and the party was
hard pressed. Two escaped to camp, and six more, after hiding till it
was possible to make good their escape, followed them. The rest were
made prisoners, but not without a struggle, as the bodies of four dead
Australian and seven dead Boer horses, left on the field, served to
testify. Lieutenant Dowling was killed. The enemy now occupied Klein
Toren to the north of Slingersfontein.

On the 18th inst. Major-General Clements, D.S.O., arrived with two
regiments of the 12th Brigade (the Royal Irish and the Worcestershire),
and was placed in command of all the troops at and east of Slinger's
Farm. Two battalions were posted at that place, and occupied a good
commanding position, which had been well fortified and intrenched.

General Clements had also, at Slinger's, one company New Zealand Mounted
Rifles; one squadron and four guns. Colonel Porter, 6th Dragoon Guards,
with four squadrons, two guns, and one company of infantry, was posted
at a farm called Potfontein, some eight miles east, and a little south,
of Slinger's. The enemy's force at Colesberg was now hemmed in on the
west, south, and east, and their position began to look uncomfortable,
particularly as a battery firing lyddite shells was at hand to assist in
the British operations. The British now held a series of positions of
great extent, shaped after the manner of a mark of interrogation, with
Colesberg within the curve of the hook.

The distance to be covered between the camps on the east and west flanks
was about sixteen miles. Supplies were conveyed by waggons drawn by
mules of South African breed--sleek, and as a rule good-tempered beasts.
The South American mules were of a weaklier stamp, their poor condition
being the result of importation. The tracks through the veldt, called by
courtesy roads, were now in many places a foot deep in dust wherever
sand-drifts had been lodged, and these promised in the event of rain to
develop into morasses.

On the 25th General French made a reconnaissance in person, and
discovered that the enemy was strongly posted at Rietfontein. The
reconnaissance occupied two days, during which the troops covered forty
miles. In spite of many efforts to cut the Boer's communications with
the Free State the Boers outwitted him, or rather out-dodged him, and
retained their hold on Colesberg. Their position consisted of commanding
hills down a defile through which a spruit flows towards the Orange
River. The windings of this stream are followed by Waggon Road for more
than a mile, then, after passing the hills, it flows over undulating
country towards the river.

On Saturday, the 27th, a melancholy incident took place. For some weeks
Major MacCracken had been holding a hill close up to the Boer position,
and on this particular morning, though no fighting was taking place, a
shell was plumped upon the hill by the enemy with the result that an
officer was wounded. A New Zealander named Booth, orderly to General
Clements, was killed while holding the General's horse. At this time
General French had mysteriously disappeared. His destination, though not
announced, was Cape Town, where he went on a visit to Lord Roberts,
whose plans were rapidly approaching completion. The upshot of that
momentous visit we shall discover anon.


At Modder River Lord Methuen, to encourage the performers in a series of
inter-regimental boxing matches, offered three splendid challenge cups
for competition. These were won by the Scots Guards, the Grenadier
Guards, and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders respectively, on the
3rd of February, when the series came to an exciting conclusion.

Meanwhile, when the cat was away the mice could play. The Boers engaged
in their usual game of destroying railway tracks between Modder Camp and
Langeberg, and as many as thirty-three explosions were heard, which
portended considerable damage to line and culverts. However the trains
conveying the sick to hospital at the Cape got away in safety, and as
many invalids as possible were despatched to the base in order that the
advance movement, when it should commence, would not be hampered.

The junction of De Aar at this time was simmering with activity. Stores
to the value of a million pounds were being accumulated in preparation
for a gigantic move in the direction of Modder River. Though at the
moment Lord Roberts's plans were not generally known, it was certain
that a vast number of troops--many more than those then under Lord
Methuen's command--were about to congregate in the neighbourhood of
Orange River, and in consequence there was suppressed excitement among
the British and corresponding trepidation among the Free Staters.
General French, whose splendid activity had been going on in most trying
circumstances, now found himself freed to begin operations on a scale
more fitted to his talents and more congenial to them. Cavalry was
pouring in, and with cavalry and such a commander there was immense
cause for hope.

The Suffolks who, after their disaster at Colesberg, went to Port
Elizabeth to recruit their forces, now came up to De Aar, and were
re-officered prior to being sent to the front. Other regiments were also
trickling in, and slowly disposing of themselves in positions previously
arranged by Lord Roberts at the Cape. All these dispositions were made
with intense secrecy, Lord Kitchener setting himself to work to
reorganise the transport department in such a manner as to make all the
complicated moves of the coming war game possible.


Drawing by W. Small from a Sketch by G. D. Giles.]

Life at Modder River began to grow correspondingly animated. Experiments
in the working of the Marconi wireless telegraphy were set on foot, and
other active preparations for decisive combat were pushed forward. The
Boers were busy too. They were making further trenches in front of the
Majesfontein ridge with a view to still further strengthening their
position, an exertion which they subsequently found to be somewhat
unnecessary. They also swelled their numbers. From the report of
deserters it seemed that President Steyn had drawn to his banner many
reluctant farmers by means of false representations, he having
circulated the report that the British meant to seize and confiscate
property for the purpose of enriching their own soldiers after the war.
The Canadian Regiment, who till then had been guarding the lines of
communication, moved to the front. They were in great spirits, and much
rejoiced at being allowed to take a more active share in operations.

The Australian Infantry Regiment was now to be mounted. It was a
misfortune that the Australians were not mounted from the first, as all
were good horsemen, and would have come in handy to assist the British
cavalry in the work of reconnaissance, which the mobile nature of Boer
movements rendered unusually hard. The companies were composed of about
125 men from Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, West Australia,
and Tasmania respectively.

On the 6th of February Lord Roberts left Cape Town for the front. He
stopped _en route_ at Belmont. Every eye was turned to him as he
alighted at the railway station. It was nine o'clock, and presently a
crowd collected to view the two warriors on whom the British Empire
pinned its faith. One was the smallest man in the station; the other was
the largest. The Field-Marshal, neat as a new pin, with his refined
visage, grey moustache and tufted imperial, looked young, even happy,
and undisturbed by his responsibilities; the hero of Omdurman, large and
broad-shouldered, his forage cap crammed on his head, his keen
steel-tinted eyes piercing the heart of things at a glance, appeared
stern and preoccupied. They were met by Colonel Otter, and the
Field-Marshal at once asked to see the Canadians. Colonel Otter
accordingly brought him to the main guard, which consisted of one
sergeant, one corporal, and two men. One of these described the
inspection by the august chief. "We were standing at the present, and
Lord Roberts appeared to be sizing us up pretty well. He inquired how we
liked our bandoliers for cartridges, and on Sergeant Ellard informing
him that they were too loose, and that the cartridges fell out of them,
Lord Roberts said that he would see that this was remedied. Lord Roberts
presented Sergeant Ellard with a basket of roses, and on distribution of
them I received one." This flower was treasured and sent home to the
trooper's family in remembrance of the great day which brought him face
to face with England's grandest soldier. On the 9th the Chief arrived at
Modder River. At this time General Macdonald and the Highland Brigade
were keeping the Boers occupied on the west, and during this manoeuvre
tremendous activities were set on foot. For instance, while General
Macdonald's Brigade was marching back to camp on the 10th of February, a
force consisting of 23,000 infantry, 11,000 mounted men, and 48 guns,
with transport of some 700 waggons, drawn by 9000 mules and oxen, was
approaching the Free State! A brigade of Mounted Infantry under Colonel
Hannay was moving from Orange River to Ramdam, situated about eight
miles from Jacobsdal. On the 11th, Boers were discovered intercepting
the road and holding the hills, but these, with a detached part of
Colonel Hannay's force, were held where they were, while the main body
with the baggage pushed on to their destination. On the 12th General
French--who was now for the first time since his departure from
Ladysmith, in command of a cavalry division--seized the crossing of the
Riet River at Dekiel's Drift, whereupon the 6th and 7th Divisions there
encamped themselves.

Before going further, it is necessary to follow the movements of the
Highland Brigade, movements which materially assisted the development of
the intricate plan of advance.


The Boers were now threatening the line between the Orange and Modder
Rivers, and in consequence of various reports regarding their movements
Colonel Broadwood proceeded to Sunnyside with the Royal Horse Artillery,
Mounted Infantry, and Roberts's Horse, the newly-raised regiment from
whom great things were expected. The enemy retired and crossed the Riet
River, taking care to keep well out of the way, for it was known that
"Fighting Mac" was on the warpath, and the last thing the rebels desired
was to find their own line of communications interrupted.

On the 3rd of February General Macdonald with the Highland Brigade, 9th
Lancers, 9th and 62nd Batteries Royal Field Artillery, moved out in a
westerly direction with a view to blocking the main drift at
Koodoesberg, and thus preventing a force reported to be coming from
Griqualand West from joining that coming from the north for the purpose
of cutting Lord Methuen's line of communication. There was also another
motive for the movement, and that was to attract the attention and
energy of the enemy while Lord Roberts was arranging for a decisive
stroke in another quarter. The march was a trying one owing to the
tropical temperature, exposure to a scorching sun, and the perpetual
inconvenience of dust. The troops however, bore it bravely. They
bivouacked at Fraser's Drift, and on the following (Sunday) morning
moved forward to Koodoesberg. The distance--some thirteen miles--was
covered, again in sweltering conditions, over a shadeless expanse of
rough road, which reflected the glare of the heavens and threw out hot
rays as from a baker's oven. Men dropped continually from sunstroke, and
exhaustion, and thirst; but, fortunately, owing to the near proximity of
the river, there were few serious cases. The troops arrived at their
destination about one o'clock, without having seen any Boers. On
reaching the drift the men refreshed themselves by bathing in the river,
a luxury in which they revelled. But repose was short. A hurried meal of
bully beef and biscuits and they were at work again, providing for
contingencies. Two thousand yards off were a group of kopjes, behind
which it was said some 4000 Boers were hiding.


The General at once set himself to construct breastworks to protect the
drift and secure his positions on north and south of the river, while
the 9th Lancers and their scouts reconnoitred the surrounding country to
ascertain the strength and disposition of the enemy. They came on a
small picket of Boers--there was a rapid exchange of shots--but on the
nearer approach of our troops the Boers fled. On Monday both sides of
the river were taken possession of. A large body of mounted Boers were
seen advancing about 2000 yards off, but beyond firing a few shots at
the British force no serious conflict took place. On Tuesday there was a
smart race between our men and a large force of Boers advancing from
their laagers. Both parties made for a big kopje, which was cleverly
gained by the British after a breathless scramble. The enemy, worsted,
galloped off, pursued by the Lancers.

At nine o'clock on Wednesday, the 7th, the Boers, who had engaged
themselves in dragging a heavy gun to the scene of action, began to
blaze out upon the Seaforth Highlanders. These, with alacrity, sprang to
action. As a private said, "It was not a Majesfontein affair this time,
and a holy joy filled our hearts at the prospect of having a little bit
of our own back." The enemy was established at the north end of
Koodoesberg, whence they shelled the works that were being constructed
to protect the drift. At the drift were seven companies of Highland
Light Infantry. On the left bank were the Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders, half a battalion of Seaforths, two guns, and the 9th
Lancers observing both flanks. Holding the south end of Koodoesberg on
the right bank of the river were the Black Watch, half a battalion of
Seaforths, one company of Highland Light Infantry, and four guns (62nd
Field Battery). An animated battle ensued, and the British guns did
splendid execution. The troops took cover behind hastily-constructed
sangars, and the bullets of the enemy failed to touch them. There were
no evidences of the celebrated Boer marksmanship on this occasion. The
enemy pounded the hill with shrapnel, and made a ferocious effort to
rout the Highlanders from their position. The 62nd Field Battery, after
some smart cannonading, which was as effective as it was vigorous,
forced the Dutchmen to shift their gun to a position farther north.
Eventually the weapon of the Dutchmen was silenced altogether.

Meanwhile, at the request of General Macdonald, General Babington, with
his own regiment of cavalry (12th Lancers) and two batteries of Horse
Artillery, had been despatched from Modder River. They started at 11.30
A.M. on the 7th, and had they arrived in time might have cut off the
retreat of the enemy and entirely hemmed them in.

As it was, they marched along the north side of the Modder, and only
arrived at four o'clock, in time, however, to quickly pursue the foe in
his retreat northwards, which retreat had been begun with all speed on
the first hint of the coming of an additional force. The sufferings
endured by some of the cavalry were intense, and one man expired through
exposure and thirst. Others were in pitiable plight, but finally

While the great struggle was taking place it was discovered that the
enemy was intrenched at a small drift on the west. Whereupon two
companies of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders became engaged in a
smart skirmish, and gave the Federals so warm a time that by nightfall,
after being shelled in their trenches, they were glad enough to slink
off. By morning the enemy had entirely evacuated their position, and not
a vestige of them was to be seen. Had the cavalry not been utterly worn
out on reaching the scene of action, the Dutchmen would have been caught
before they had time to seek refuge in flight.


From a Sketch by Lestor Ralph.]

The troops then, under orders from Lord Methuen, retired to Modder
River. They started from Koodoesberg on the evening of Thursday, made a
moonlight march to Fraser's Drift, returning to camp footsore and
dilapidated on Friday. But before leaving, the officers and men who fell
in the action were buried on the south bank of the river. Among them was
Captain Blair, who, after having been previously struck by a bullet, had
been mortally wounded by a shell. Lieutenant Tait, a very gallant
officer, a notable golfer, and a general favourite, also fell, and
Captain Eykyn eventually died of his injuries.

General Macdonald's reconnaissance at Koodoesberg Drift was entirely
satisfactory. The position there was important, as it prevented Boer
reinforcements from passing _via_ the chief drift from Douglas to
Majesfontein, and the movement served to confound the enemy, and protect
the operations of the Belmont garrison in the direction of Douglas, not
to speak of its value in keeping Boer activities to the west of
Majesfontein at the time when Lord Roberts was developing his plans in
regard to the east of that place. The enemy had been kept amused and out
of mischief, and been wholesomely trounced into the bargain!

The casualties, which were comparatively few, were as follows:--

     _Killed_:--2nd Royal Highlanders--Captain Eykyn; Lieutenant
     Tait. 2nd Seaforth Highlanders--Captain Blair.

     _Wounded_:--2nd Seaforth Highlanders--Captain Studdert, A.S.C.
     1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders--Captain Kirk. 9th
     Lancers--Second Lieutenant Cavendish; Lieutenant Mackenzie,


[7] Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur John Watson was forty-six years of age. He
entered the army as a sub-lieutenant of the 12th Foot (now the
Berkshires) on August 9, 1873, and received his lieutenancy from the same
date. He was instructor of musketry to the regiment from February 12,
1880, to January 24, 1883, received his company on the 14th of April
following, and, passing the Staff College in 1884, served with the
Bechuanaland Expedition under Sir Charles Warren later in the year, and
from February 17 to October 28, 1885, was brigade-major in Bechuanaland,
being honourably mentioned in dispatches. He was employed on staff
service with the Egyptian army from February 12 to September 7, 1886,
obtaining his major's commission on October 21 following; and in 1888
served in the Hazara Expedition as brigade-major to the first column
under Brigadier-General Channer, when he was again mentioned in
dispatches, and received the medal with clasp. From July 20, 1889, to
February 20, 1896, he was garrison instructor in Bengal, and deputy
assistant-adjutant-general for instruction in the Punjaub, taking part in
1895 in the operations in the Chitral, accompanying the relief force
under Sir Robert Low, acting as road commandant on the lines of
communication. For his services in this campaign he received his second
medal with clasp. He was gazetted lieutenant-colonel of the Suffolk
Regiment on September 19, 1898.



A great deal of consternation and not a little surprise was caused by
the publication of the official account (_London Gazette_, April 16,
1900) of the evacuation of Spion Kop. In order to make intelligible the
causes of the terrible fiasco it is necessary to quote for the benefit
of those interested not only Lord Roberts's comments on the subject, but
the statements of the officers concerned. Sir Redvers Buller, writing
from Spearman's Hill, January 30, 1900, gave his version of the

     "I have the honour to report that General Sir Charles Warren's
     Division having arrived at Estcourt, less two battalions 10th
     Brigade, which were left at the Cape, by the 7th January, it
     moved to Frere on the 9th.

     "The column moved as ordered, but torrents of rain fell on the
     9th, which filled all the spruits, and, indeed, rendered many
     of them impassable for many hours. To forward supply alone took
     650 ox waggons, and as in the 16 miles from Frere to
     Springfield there were three places at which all the waggons
     had to be double spanned, and some required three spans, some
     idea may be formed of the difficulties; but these were all
     successfully overcome by the willing labours of the troops.

     "The 4th Brigade reached Springfield on the 12th in support of
     the mounted troops, who had surprised and seized the important
     position of Spearman's Hill, commanding Potgieter's Drift, on
     the 11th.

     "By the 13th all troops were at Springfield and Spearman's
     Hill, and supply was well forward.

     "On the 16th a reserve of seventeen days' supply having been
     collected, General Sir Charles Warren, in command of the 2nd
     Division, the 11th Brigade of the 5th Division, the Brigade
     Division Royal Field Artillery, 5th Division, and certain corps
     troops, including the Mounted Brigade, moved from Springfield
     to Trichardt's Drift, which is about six miles west of

     "I attach Sir Charles Warren's report of his operations.

     "On the night of the 23rd General Warren attacked Spion Kop,
     which operation he has made the subject of a special report. On
     the morning of the 25th, finding that Spion Kop had been
     abandoned in the night, I decided to withdraw General Warren's
     force; the troops had been continuously engaged for a week, in
     circumstances entailing considerable hardships; there had been
     very heavy losses on Spion Kop. I consequently assumed the
     command, commenced the withdrawal of the ox and heavy mule
     transports on the 25th: this was completed by midday the 26th;
     by double spanning, the loaded ox waggons got over the drift at
     the rate of about eight per hour. The mule waggons went over
     the pontoon bridge, but all the mules had to be taken out and
     the vehicles passed over by hand. For about seven hours of the
     night the drift could not be used as it was dangerous in the
     dark, but the use of the pontoon went on day and night. In
     addition to machine guns, six batteries of Royal Field
     Artillery and four howitzers, the following vehicles were
     passed: ox waggons, 232; 10-span mule waggons, 98; 6-span, 107;
     4 span, 52; total, 489 vehicles. In addition to these the
     ambulances were working backwards and forwards evacuating the
     sick and wounded.

     "By 2 P.M. the 26th all the ox waggons were over, and by 11.30
     P.M. all the mule transports were across and the bridge clear
     for the troops. By 4 A.M. the 27th all the troops were over,
     and by 8 A.M. the pontoons were gone and all was clear. The
     troops had all reached their new camps by 10 A.M. The marches
     averaged for the mounted troops about seven miles, and for the
     infantry and artillery an average of five miles.

     "Everything worked without a hitch, and the arrangements
     reflected great credit on the Staff of all degrees; but I must
     especially mention Major Irwin, R.E., and his men of the
     Pontoon Troop, who were untiring. When all men were over, the
     chesses of the pontoon bridge were so worn by the traffic that
     I do not think they would have lasted another half-hour."

He concluded by saying:--

     "Thus ended an expedition which I think ought to have
     succeeded. We have suffered very heavy losses, and lost many
     whom we can ill spare; but, on the other hand, we have
     inflicted as great or greater losses upon the enemy than they
     have upon us, and they are, by all accounts, thoroughly
     disheartened; while our troops are, I am glad and proud to say,
     in excellent fettle."

Sir Charles Warren's report addressed to the Chief of the Staff, ran

     "On the 8th January field orders were published constituting
     the 10th Brigade of the 5th Division a Corps Brigade, and
     placing the 4th Brigade in the 5th Division. The 5th Division
     thus constituted marched from Frere on the 10th instant,
     arriving at Springfield on the 12th instant.

     "On the 15th January I received your secret instructions to
     command a force to proceed across the Tugela, near Trichardt's
     Drift to the west of Spion Kop, recommending me to proceed
     forward, refusing my right (namely) Spion Kop, and bringing my
     left forward to gain the open plain north of Spion Kop. This
     move was to commence as soon as supplies were all in, and the
     10th Brigade (except two companies) removed from Springfield
     Bridge to Spearman's Hill.

     "I was provided with four days' rations with which I was to
     cross the Tugela, fight my way round to north of Spion Kop, and
     join your column opposite Potgieter's.

     "On the 15th January I made the arrangements for getting
     supplies, and moved the 10th Brigade on the following day, and
     on the evening of the 16th January I left Springfield with a
     force under my command, which amounted to an Army Corps (less
     one Brigade), and by a night march arrived at Trichardt's
     Drift, and took possession of the hills on the south side of
     the Tugela.

     "On the 17th January I threw pontoon bridges across the Tugela,
     passed the infantry across by ponts, and captured the hills
     immediately commanding the drift on the north side with two
     brigades commanded by Generals Woodgate and Hart. The
     Commander-in-Chief was present during part of the day, and gave
     some verbal directions to General Woodgate.

     "The Mounted Brigade passed over principally by the drift, and
     went over the country as far as Acton Homes, and on the
     following day (18th) had a successful action with a small party
     of Boers, bringing in 31 prisoners.

     "During the night of the 17th, and day of the 18th, the whole
     of the waggons belonging to the force were brought across the
     Tugela, and the artillery were in position outside of Wright's

     "On the 19th two brigades advanced, occupying the slopes of the
     adjoining hills on the right, and the waggons were successfully
     brought to Venter's Spruit.

     "In the evening, after having examined the possible roads by
     which we could proceed, I assembled the General Officers and
     the Staff, and the Officer Commanding Royal Artillery, and
     Commanding Royal Engineer, and pointed out to them that of the
     two roads by which we could advance, the eastern one by Acton
     Homes must be rejected, because time would not allow of it, and
     with this all concurred. I then pointed out that the only
     possible way of all getting through by the road north of Fair
     View would be by taking three or four days' food in our
     haversacks, and sending all our waggons back across the Tugela,
     but before we could do this we must capture the position in
     front of us.

     "On the following day, 20th January, I placed two brigades and
     six batteries of artillery at the disposal of General Sir C. F.
     Clery, with instructions to attack the Boer positions by a
     series of outflanking movements, and by the end of the day,
     after fighting for twelve hours, we were in possession of the
     whole part of the hills, but found a strongly-intrenched line
     on the comparatively flat country beyond us.

     "On the 21st the Boers displayed considerable activity on our
     left, and the Commander-in-Chief desired me to move two
     batteries from right to left. At a subsequent date, during the
     day, I found it impossible to proceed without howitzers, and
     telegraphed for four from Potgieter's. These arrived early on
     the morning of the 22nd, and the Commander-in-Chief, arriving
     about the same time, directed me to place two of these
     howitzers on the left, two having already been placed on the
     right flank. I pointed out to the Commander-in-Chief that it
     would be impossible to get waggons through by the road leading
     past Fair View, unless we first took Spion Kop, which lies
     within about 2000 yards of the road. The Commander-in-Chief
     agreed that Spion Kop would have to be taken. Accordingly that
     evening orders were drawn up giving the necessary instructions
     to General Talbot Coke to take Spion Kop that night, but, owing
     to an absence of sufficient reconnaissance, he requested that
     the attack might be put off for a day.

     "On the 23rd January the Commander-in-Chief came into camp, the
     attack on Spion Kop was decided upon, and Lieut.-Colonel
     àCourt, of the Headquarter Staff, was directed by the
     Commander-in-Chief to accompany General Woodgate, who was
     detailed to command the attacking column. The account of the
     capture of Spion Kop is given in another report.

     "On the morning of the 25th January the Commander-in-Chief
     arrived, decided to retire the force, and assumed direct
     command. The whole of the waggons of the 5th Division were got
     down to the drift during the day, and were crossed over before
     2 P.M. on the 26th January."

In regard to the Council of War, Sir Charles Warren amplified his
previous statement:

     "Upon the 19th of January, on arrival at Venter's Laager, I
     assembled all the General Officers, Officers Commanding Royal
     Artillery and Royal Engineers of Divisions, and Staff Officers,
     together. I pointed out to them that, with the three and a
     half (3½) days' provisions allowed, it was impossible to
     advance by the left road through Acton Homes. In this they
     unanimously concurred. I showed them that the only possible
     road was that going over Fair View through Rosalie, but I
     expressed my conviction that this could not be done unless we
     sent the whole of our transport back across the Tugela, and
     attempted to march through with our rations in our
     haversacks--without impedimenta."

Sir Charles then added:--

     "The hills were cleared on the following day, and very strong
     intrenchments found behind them. The Commander-in-Chief was
     present on the 21st and 22nd January, and I pointed out the
     difficulties of marching along the road, accompanied by
     waggons, without first taking Spion Kop.

     "Accordingly, on the night of the 22nd, I ordered General Coke
     to occupy Spion Kop. He, however, desired that the occupation
     might be deferred for a day in order that he might make a
     reconnaissance with the Officers Commanding battalions to be
     sent there.

     "On 23rd January the Commander-in-Chief came into camp, and
     told me that there were two courses open--(1) to attack, (2) to
     retire. I replied that I should prefer to attack Spion Kop to
     retiring, and showed the Commander-in-Chief my orders of the
     previous day.

     "The Commander-in-Chief then desired that I should put General
     Woodgate in command of the expedition, and detailed
     Lieutenant-Colonel àCourt to accompany him as Staff Officer.

     "The same evening General Woodgate proceeded with the
     Lancashire Fusiliers, the Royal Lancaster Regiment, a portion
     of Thorneycroft's Horse, and half-company Royal Engineers,
     supported by two companies of the Connaught Rangers and by the
     Imperial Light Infantry, the latter having just arrived by
     Trichardt's Drift.

     "The attack and capture of Spion Kop was entirely successful.
     General Woodgate, having secured the summit on the 24th,
     reported that he had intrenched a position and hoped he was
     secure, but that the fog was too thick to permit him to see.
     The position was rushed without casualties other than three men

     "Lieutenant-Colonel àCourt came down in the morning and stated
     that everything was satisfactory and secure, and telegraphed to
     the Commander-in-Chief to that effect. Scarcely had he started
     on his return to headquarters when a heliogram arrived from
     Colonel Crofton (Royal Lancaster). The message was, 'Reinforce
     at once, or all lost. General dead.'

     "He also sent a similar message to headquarters. I immediately
     ordered General Coke to proceed to his assistance, and to take
     command of the troops. He started at once, and was accompanied
     by the Middlesex and Dorsetshire Regiments.

     "I replied to Colonel Crofton, 'I am sending two battalions,
     and the Imperial Light Infantry are on their way up. You must
     hold on to the last. No surrender.'

     "This occurred about 10 A.M.

     "Shortly afterwards I received a telegram from the
     Commander-in-Chief, ordering me to appoint Lieutenant-Colonel
     Thorneycroft to the command of the summit. I accordingly had
     heliographed, 'With the approval of the Commander-in-Chief, I
     place Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycroft in command of the summit,
     with the local rank of Brigadier-General.'

     "For some hours after this message I could get no information
     from the summit. It appears that the signallers and their
     apparatus were destroyed by the heavy fire.

     "I repeatedly asked for Colonel Thorneycroft to state his view
     of the situation. At 1.20 P.M. I heliographed to ascertain
     whether Colonel Thorneycroft had assumed command, and at the
     same time asked General Coke to give me his views on the
     situation on Spion Kop. Still getting no reply, I asked whether
     General Coke was there, and subsequently received his view of
     the situation. He stated that, unless the Artillery could
     silence the enemy's guns, the men on the summit could not stand
     another complete day's shelling, and that the situation was
     extremely critical."

Later on in the evening arrangements were made to send two (Naval)
12-pounders, and the Mountain Battery, Royal Artillery, to the summit,
together with half-company Royal Engineers (and working parties, two
reliefs of 600 men each), to strengthen the intrenchments and provide
shell cover for the men. The 17th Company, Royal Engineers--it must be
noted--proceeded at the same time as General Woodgate's force, and were
employed until daylight upon the intrenchments, then upon road-making
and water supply.

Sand-bags were sent up early on the 24th instant, but they were too
late. Colonel Sim and his party, while ascending, met Colonel
Thorneycroft descending the hill. The position was evacuated. Sir
Charles Warren concluded thus:--

     "I wish to bring to notice that I heard from all but one
     expression of the admirable conduct and bravery shown by
     officers and men suffering under a withering artillery fire on
     the summit of the slopes, and also of those who, with so much
     endurance, persisted in carrying up water and food and
     ammunition to the troops during the day.

     "During the day a Staff Officer of the Headquarter Staff was
     present on the summit, and reported direct to the

     "At sunset I considered that the position could be held next
     day, provided that guns could be mounted and effective shelter
     provided. Both of these conditions were about to be fulfilled,
     as already mentioned.

     "In the absence of General Coke, whom I ordered to come to
     report in person as to the situation, the evacuation took place
     under orders, given upon his own responsibility, by
     Lieut.-Colonel Thorneycroft. This occurred in the face of the
     vigorous protests of General Coke's Brigade-Major, the Officer
     commanding the Middlesex Regiment, and others.

     "It is a matter for the Commander-in-Chief to decide whether
     there should be an investigation into the question of the
     unauthorised evacuation of Spion Kop."

General Buller, in forwarding to the Secretary of State for War Sir
Charles Warren's report, made the following observations:--

     "Sir C. Warren is hardly correct in saying that he was only
     allowed three and a half days' provisions. I had told him that
     transport for three and a half days would be sufficient burden
     to him, but that I would keep him filled up as he wanted it.
     That he was aware of this is shown by the following telegram
     which he sent on the day in question. It is the only report I
     had from Sir C.  Warren:--

        (Sent 7.54 P.M. Received 8.15 P.M.)

        'Left Flank, 19th January.

        'To the Chief of the Staff--

        'I find there are only two roads by which we could
        possibly get from Trichardt's Drift to Potgeiter's, on
        the north of the Tugela, one by Acton Homes, the other
        by Fair View and Rosalie; the first I reject as too
        long, the second is a very difficult road for a large
        number of waggons, unless the enemy is thoroughly
        cleared out. I am, therefore, going to adopt some
        special arrangements which will involve my stay at
        Venter's Laager for two or three days. I will send in
        for further supplies and report progress. WARREN.'

     "The reply to this was that three days' supply was being sent.

     "I went over to Sir C. Warren on the 23rd. I pointed out to him
     that I had no further report and no intimation of the special
     arrangements foreshadowed by this telegram of the 19th, that
     for four days he had kept his men continuously exposed to shell
     and rifle fire, perched on the edge of an almost precipitous
     hill, that the position admitted of no second line, and the
     supports were massed close behind the firing line in
     indefensible formations, and that a panic or sudden charge
     might send the whole lot in disorder down the hill at any
     moment. I said it was too dangerous a situation to be
     prolonged, and that he must either attack or I should withdraw
     his force. I advocated, as I had previously done, an advance
     from his left. He said that he had the night before ordered
     General Coke to assault Spion Kop, but the latter had objected
     to undertaking a night attack on a position the road to which
     he had not reconnoitred, and added that he intended to assault
     Spion Kop that night.

     "I suggested that as General Coke was still lame from the
     effects of a lately broken leg, General Woodgate, who had two
     sound legs, was better adapted for mountain climbing.

     "As no heliograph could, on account of the fire, be kept on the
     east side of Spion Kop, messages for Sir C. Warren were
     received by our signallers at Spearman and telegraphed to Sir
     C. Warren; thus I saw them before he did, as I was at the
     signal station. The telegram Sir C. Warren quotes did not give
     me confidence in its sender, and at the moment I could see that
     our men on the top had given way and that efforts were being
     made to rally them. I telegraphed to Sir C. Warren: 'Unless you
     put some really good hard fighting man in command on the top
     you will lose the hill. I suggest Thorneycroft.'

     "The statement that a staff officer reported direct to me
     during the day is a mistake. Colonel àCourt was sent down by
     General Woodgate almost as soon as he gained the summit.

     "I have not thought it necessary to order any investigation. If
     at sundown the defence of the summit had been taken regularly
     in hand, intrenchments laid out, gun emplacements prepared, the
     dead removed, the wounded collected, and, in fact, the whole
     place brought under regular military command, and careful
     arrangements made for the supply of water and food to the
     scattered fighting line, the hills would have been held, I am

     "But no arrangements were made. General Coke appears to have
     been ordered away just as he would have been useful, and no one
     succeeded him; those on the top were ignorant of the fact that
     guns were coming up, and generally there was a want of
     organisation and system that acted most unfavourably on the

     "It is admitted by all that Colonel Thorneycroft acted with the
     greatest gallantry throughout the day, and really saved the
     situation. Preparations for the second day's defence should
     have been organised during the day and have been commenced at

     "As this was not done I think Colonel Thorneycroft exercised a
     wise discretion.

     "Our losses, I regret to say, were very heavy, but the enemy
     admitted to our doctors that theirs were equally severe, and
     though we were not successful in retaining the position, the
     losses inflicted on the enemy and the attack generally have had
     a marked effect upon them.

     "I cannot close these remarks without bearing testimony to the
     gallant and admirable behaviour of the troops, the endurance
     shown by the Lancashire Fusiliers, the Middlesex Regiment, and
     Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry was admirable, while the
     efforts of the 2nd Battalion Scottish Rifles and 3rd Battalion
     King's Royal Rifles were equally good, and the Royal Lancasters
     fought gallantly."

The Commander-in-Chief, writing to the Secretary of State for War, thus
criticised both operations and operators:--

     "The plan of operations is not very clearly described in the
     despatches themselves, but it may be gathered from them and the
     accompanying documents themselves that the original intention
     was to cross the Tugela at or near Trichardt's Drift, and
     thence by following the road past Fair View and Acton Homes, to
     gain the open plain north of Spion Kop, the Boer position in
     front of Potgieter's Drift being too strong to be taken by
     direct attack. The whole force, less one brigade, was placed
     under the orders of Sir Charles Warren, who, the day after he
     had crossed the Tugela, seems to have consulted his General and
     principal Staff Officers, and to have come to the conclusion
     that the flanking movement which Sir Redvers Buller had
     mentioned in his secret instructions was impracticable on
     account of the insufficiency of supplies. He accordingly
     decided to advance by the more direct road leading north-east
     and branching off from a point east of Three Tree Hill. The
     selection of this road necessitated the capture and retention
     of Spion Kop, but whether it would have been equally necessary
     to occupy Spion Kop, had the line of advance indicated by Sir
     Redvers Buller been followed, is not stated in the
     correspondence. As Sir Charles Warren considered it impossible
     to make the wide flanking movement which was recommended, if
     not actually prescribed, in his secret instructions, he should
     at once have acquainted Sir Redvers Buller with the course of
     action which he proposed to adopt. There is nothing to show
     whether he did so or not, but it seems only fair to Sir Charles
     Warren to point out that Sir Redvers Buller appears throughout
     to have been aware of what was happening. On several occasions
     he was present during the operations. He repeatedly gave advice
     to his subordinate Commander, and on the day after the
     withdrawal from Spion Kop he resumed the chief command."

The abandonment of Spion Kop was condemned by Lord Roberts in the
following terms:--

     "As regards the withdrawal of the troops from the Spion Kop
     position, which, though occupied almost without opposition in
     the early morning of the 24th January, had to be held
     throughout the day under an extremely heavy fire, and the
     retention of which had become essential to the relief of
     Ladysmith, I regret that I am unable to concur with Sir
     Redvers Buller in thinking that Lieut.-Colonel Thorneycroft
     exercised a wise discretion in ordering the troops to retire.
     Even admitting that due preparations may not have been made for
     strengthening the position during the night, reorganising the
     defence and bringing up artillery--in regard to which Sir
     Charles Warren's report does not altogether bear out Sir
     Redvers Buller's contention--admitting also that the senior
     officers on the summit of the hill might have been more
     promptly informed of the measures taken by Sir Charles Warren
     to support and reinforce them, I am of opinion that
     Lieut.-Colonel Thorneycroft's assumption of responsibility and
     authority was wholly inexcusable. During the night the enemy's
     fire, if it did not cease altogether, could not have been
     formidable, and though lamp signalling was not possible at the
     time owing to the supply of oil having failed, it would not
     have taken more than two or three hours at most for
     Lieut.-Colonel Thorneycroft to communicate by messenger with
     Major-General Coke or Sir Charles Warren, and to receive a
     reply. Major-General Coke appears to have left Spion Kop at
     9.30 P.M. for the purpose of consulting with Sir Charles
     Warren, and up to that hour the idea of a withdrawal had not
     been entertained. Yet almost immediately after Major-General
     Coke's departure Lieut.-Colonel Thorneycroft issued an order,
     without reference to superior authority, which upset the whole
     plan of operations and rendered unavailing the sacrifices which
     had already been made to carry it into effect."

In spite of this somewhat severe criticism, however, Lord Roberts went
on to say:--

     "On the other hand, it is only right to state that
     Lieut.-Colonel Thorneycroft appears to have behaved in a very
     gallant manner throughout the day, and it was doubtless due, in
     a great measure, to his exertions and example that the troops
     continued to hold the summit of the hill until directed to

The action of Captain Phillips he warmly praised:--

     "The conduct of Captain Phillips, Brigade-Major of the 10th
     Brigade, on the occasion in question, is deserving of high
     commendation. He did his best to rectify the mistake which was
     being made, but it was too late. Signalling communication was
     not re-established until 2.30 A.M. on the 25th January, and by
     that time the Naval guns could not have reached the summit of
     the hill before daybreak. Major-General Coke did not return,
     and Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycroft had gone away. Moreover,
     most of the troops had begun to leave the hill, and the working
     parties, with the half-company of Royal Engineers, had also

Briefly the Commander-in-Chief deplored the chaotic state of affairs
prior to the retirement. He said:--

     "It is to be regretted that Sir Charles Warren did not himself
     visit Spion Kop during the afternoon or evening, knowing as he
     did that the state of affairs there was very critical, and that
     the loss of the position would involve the failure of the
     operations. He was, consequently, obliged to summon
     Major-General Coke to his headquarters in the evening, in order
     that he might ascertain how matters were going on, and the
     command on Spion Kop thus devolved on Lieutenant-Colonel
     Thorneycroft; but Major-General Coke was not aware of this.
     About midday, under instructions from Sir Redvers Buller, Sir
     Charles Warren had directed Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycroft to
     assume command on the summit of the hill, with the temporary
     rank of Brigadier-General, but this order was not communicated
     to Major-General Coke, who, until he left the position at 9.30
     P.M., was under the impression that the command had devolved on
     Colonel Hill, as senior officer, after Colonel Crofton had been
     wounded. Omissions or mistakes of this nature may be trivial in
     themselves, yet may exercise an important influence on the
     course of events; and I think that Sir Redvers Buller is
     justified in remarking that 'there was a want of organisation
     and system which acted most unfavourably on the defence.'"

In conclusion, the principal actors in the drama were censured, while
the troops engaged received well-merited praise:--

     "The attempt to relieve Ladysmith, described in these
     despatches, was well devised, and I agree with Sir Redvers
     Buller in thinking that it ought to have succeeded. That it
     failed may, in some measure, be due to the difficulties of the
     ground and the commanding positions held by the enemy--probably
     also to errors of judgment and want of administrative capacity
     on the part of Sir Charles Warren. But whatever faults Sir
     Charles Warren may have committed, the failure must also be
     ascribed to the disinclination of the officer in supreme
     command to assert his authority and see that what he thought
     best was done, and also to the unwarrantable and needless
     assumption of responsibility by a subordinate officer.

     "The gratifying feature in these despatches is the admirable
     behaviour of the troops throughout the operations."


The following Divisions reached South Africa at the end of 1899 and the
beginning of 1900.


     Lieutenant-General--Lieut.-General Sir C. Warren, G.C.M.G.,
     K.C.B., R.E.

     Aides-de-Camp--Major R. M. B. F. Kelly, R.A.; Lieut. I. V.
     Paton, Royal Scots Fusiliers.

     Assistant Adjutant-General--Colonel A. W. Morris, _p.s.c._

     Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-Generals--Bt.-Major T. Capper, East
     Lancashire Regt., _p.s.c._; Bt.-Major H. N. Sargent, Army
     Service Corps.

     Assistant Provost-Marshal--Bt.-Major E. C. J. Williams, East
     Kent Regt.

     Principal Medical Officer--Lieut.-Colonel W. B. Allin, M.B.,

     Divisional Signalling Officer--Captain A. A. McHardy, R.A.


     Major-General--Colonel (local Maj.-General) J. T. Coke.

     Aide-de-Camp--Lieut. W. E. Kemble, R.A.

     Brigade-Major--Captain H. G. C. Phillips, Welsh Regt., _p.s.c._


     Major-General--Colonel (local Maj.-General) E. R. P. Woodgate,
     K.C.M.G., C.B., _p.s.c._

     Aide-de-Camp--Captain F. M. Carleton, D.S.O., Royal Lancashire

     Brigade-Major--Captain N. H. Vertue, East Kent Regt.


     Lieutenant-General--Major-General (local Lieut.-General) T.
     Kelly-Kenny, C.B., _p.s.c._

     Aides-de-Camp--Major H. I. W. Hamilton, D.S.O., Royal West
     Surrey Regt., _p.s.c._; Captain W. H. Booth, East Kent Regt.

     Assistant Adjutant-General--Colonel A. E. W. Goldsmid, _p.s.c._

     Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-Generals--Major C. C. Monro, Royal
     West Surrey Regt., _p.s.c._; Major J. E. Caunter, Lancashire
     Fusiliers, _p.s.c._

     Assistant Provost-Marshal--Major M. G. Wilkinson, King's Own
     Scottish Borderers.

     Principal Medical Officer--Lieut.-Colonel W. L. Gubbins, M.B.,

     Divisional Signalling Officer--Lieut. J. T. Burnett-Stuart,
     Rifle Brigade.


     Major-General--Colonel (local Maj.-General) R. A. P. Clements,
     D.S.O., A.D.C.

     Aide-de-Camp--Captain H. de C. Moody, South Wales Borderers.

     Brigade-Major--Captain R. S. Oxley, King's Royal Rifle Corps,


     Major-General--Colonel (local Maj.-General) C. E. Knox.

     Aide-de-Camp--Captain O. H. E. Marescaux, Shropshire Light

     Brigade-Major--Captain R. W. Thompson, North Lancashire Regt.,


     Lieutenant-General--Major-General (local Lieut.-General) C.
     Tucker, C.B. Aides-de-Camp--

     Assistant Adjutant-General--Colonel H. E. Belfield, _p.s.c._

     Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-Generals--Brevet-Major H. G. Fitton,
     D.S.O., Royal Berkshire Regt., _p.s.c._; Lieut.-Colonel H. G.
     Rice, Army Service Corps.

     Assistant Provost-Marshal--Brevet-Major F. Wintour, Royal West
     Kent Regt., _p.s.c._

     Principal Medical Officer--Lieut.-Colonel J. A. Gormley, M.D.,

     Divisional Signalling Officer--Captain J. R. K. Birch, Cheshire


     Major-General--Major-General Sir H. C. Chermside, G.C.M.G.,
     C.B., R.E.

     Aide-de-Camp--Captain E. FitzG. M. Wood, Devonshire Regt.

     Brigade-Major--Captain W. M. Marter, 1st Dragoon Guards,


     Major-General--Colonel (local Maj.-General) A. G. Wavell,

     Brigade-Major--Captain L. R. Carleton, Essex Regt., _p.s.c._


  Edinburgh & London


  General : Corrections to punctuation have not been individually
  Page   5: "enroll" standardised to "enrol" after "forward in crowds to"
  Page  15: "Divison" corrected to "Division" after "the Sixth"
  Page  30: Variant spelling "viâ" not standardised as part of a
  Page  31: "bombproof" standardised to "bomb-proof" after "burrowing
             like rabbits, or in"
  Page  55: "Jaysfontein" corrected to "Jasfontein" after "away from a
             farm at"
  Page  56: "Zoutspansdrift" corrected to "Zoutpansdrift" after "in the
             direction of Kamak and"
  Page  56: "Naauwport" corrected to "Naauwpoort" after "lot of those
  Page  58: "Naauwport" corrected to "Naauwpoort" after "The inhabitants
  Page  71: "bloodthirsty" standardised to "blood-thirsty" after "They
             proved to be not"
  Page  71: "farm-house" standardised to "farmhouse" after "bivouacked at
  Page  73: "horse-shoe" as in the original. Not standardised as this is
             an adjectival usage
  Page  77: "look-out" standardised to "lookout" after "They employed"
  Page  78: "Koodoosberg" corrected to "Koodoesberg" after "troops from
             Barkly and"
  Page  85: "bloodstained" standardised to "blood-stained" after "the
             eyes of those who,"
  Page  86: "gantlet" as in the original
  Page  92: "Divsion" corrected to "Division" after "Second"
  Page  96: "POTGEITER'S" corrected to "POTGIETER'S" after "THE CROSSING
  Page  99: "Carbineers" corrected to "Carabineers" after "one squadron
  Page 108: "roast" corrected to "roost" after "We shall be rulers of
  Page 123: "head-quarters" standardised to "headquarters" after "some
             even reaching"
  Page 134: "Blomfontein" corrected to "Bloemfontein" after "Steyn and
             Kruger dated"
  Page 148: "rough-riders" standardised to "roughriders" after "despatch
             of 500 expert"
  Page 174: "Naauwport" corrected to "Naauwpoort" after "thirty-seven
             miles north of"
  Page 179: "sandstorms" standardised to "sand-storms" after "These"
  Page 182: "Ochtertang" corrected to "Achtertang" after "reconnoitring
  Page 185: "unusally" corrected to "unusually" after "Boer movements
  Page 194: "Sandbags" standardised to "Sand-bags" before "were sent up
  Page 195: "Potgeiter's" as in the original. Left as part of a

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. 3 (of 6) - From the Battle of Colenso, 15th Dec. 1899, to Lord - Roberts's Advance into the Free State, 12th Feb. 1900" ***

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