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Title: South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. V (of VI) - From the Disaster at Koorn Spruit to Lord Roberts's entry into Pretoria
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. V (of VI) - From the Disaster at Koorn Spruit to Lord Roberts's entry into Pretoria" ***

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     Maj. F. S. Maude
     Maj. Hon. A. H. Hamilton
     Lord Methuen
     Col. Mackinnon, C.I.V.
     Capt. C. F. Vandeleur


Photo by Gregory & Co., London]









     Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
     At the Ballantyne Press



     CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE                                       vii


     THE DISASTER AT KOORN SPRUIT                                1

     THE REDDERSBURG MISHAP                                     16

     ESCAPE OF PRISONERS FROM PRETORIA                          21

     PREPARATIONS FOR ACTION                                    32

     THE BATTLE OF BOSHOP, APRIL 5                              38


     MAFEKING, APRIL                                            46

     AFFAIRS IN RHODESIA                                        53


     THE SIEGE OF WEPENER                                       54

     OPERATIONS FOR RELIEF                                      68

     THE TENTACLES AT WORK                                      82



         WELGELEGEN, MAY 9                                      87

         (GENERAL IAN HAMILTON), MAY 9                          95

     TOWARDS THE ZAND RIVER TO KROONSTAD, MAY 12               101


     MAFEKING, MAY                                             108

     WITH COLONEL MAHON'S FORCE                                117

     ON THE WESTERN FRONTIER                                   132

     THE RELIEF                                                134



     FROM KROONSTAD TO JOHANNESBURG                            144


     GENERAL RUNDLE'S MARCH TO SENEKAL                         154

     THE HIGHLAND BRIGADE                                      156


     THE BATTLE OF BIDDULPH'S BERG, MAY 28, 29                 161

     FIGHTING ON THE WESTERN BORDER, MAY 30                    169


     GENERAL BULLER'S ADVANCE TO NEWCASTLE                     171


     THE INTERREGNUM AT PRETORIA                               179

     FROM JOHANNESBURG TO PRETORIA                             184


     REARRANGEMENT OF STAFF                                    193

     DEATHS IN ACTION AND FROM DISEASE                         195


                                                            _At Front_



     GENERAL AND STAFF                                    _Frontispiece_

     SERGEANT--18TH HUSSARS                                     48

     MOUNTED INFANTRY                                           56

     SCOUT--6TH DRAGOON GUARDS                                  68

     THE ROYAL MARINES                                          76


     WEST SURREY AND EAST SURREY                                96

     OFFICERS OF THE SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS                      160


     THE DISASTER AT KOORNSPRUIT                                 8

     THE REDDERSBURG MISHAP                                     16



     THE SURRENDER OF KROONSTADT                               104

     MAFEKING: "THE WOLF THAT NEVER SLEEPS"                    108

     THE LAST ATTACK ON MAFEKING                               136



         ATTACK AT THE BATTLE OF DOORNKOP                      148





     SCENE IN PRETORIA SQUARE, JUNE 5                          184



     LIEUT.-GENERAL SIR ARCHIBALD HUNTER, K.C.B.                32

     COLONEL LORD CHESHAM                                       40

     LIEUT.-GENERAL SIR H. M. LESLIE-RUNDLE, K.C.B.             64

     MAJOR-GENERAL POLE-CAREW                                   72

     MAJOR-GENERAL IAN HAMILTON                                 88


     LIEUT.-COLONEL BRYAN T. MAHON, D.S.O.                     120

     LIEUT.-COLONEL PLUMER                                     128


     PLAN--KOORN SPRUIT DISASTER                                 5

     MAP--DISTRICT S. AND E. OF BLOEMFONTEIN                    15

     THE MODEL SCHOOL, PRETORIA                                 22


     FIELD GUN--ELSWICK BATTERY                                 39

     THE NATIVE VILLAGE OF MAFEKING                             47

     MAFEKING POSTAGE STAMPS                                    52

     THE DEFENCE OF WEPENER                                     58

     WEPENER                                                    66

     OPERATIONS AT DEWETSDORP                                   76

     MAP OF MOVEMENTS S. AND E. OF BLOEMFONTEIN                 82

     KENT COTTAGE, ST. HELENA                                   86

         FROM ZAND RIVER                                       103

     KROONSTADT                                                107


     MAP AND ITINERARY, COLONEL MAHON'S MARCH                  118


     MAFEKING RAILWAY STATION                                  139

     DEVIATION BRIDGE AT VEREENIGING                           153

     HIGHLANDERS AT THE END OF A FORCED MARCH                  160

     MAP OF PORTION OF NATAL                                   175

     MAP--JOHANNESBURG TO PRETORIA, &C.                        186


MARCH 1900.

=31.=--Loss of British convoy and seven guns at Koorn Spruit.

APRIL 1900.

=4.=--Capture of British troops by the Boers near Reddersburg.

=5.=--General Villebois killed near Boshop, and party of Boer
    mercenaries captured by Lord Methuen.

    General Clements received the submission of 4000 rebels.

    British occupation of Reddersburg.

=7.=--Skirmish near Warrenton.

=9.=--Colonial Division attacked at Wepener.

=11.=--General Chermside promoted to command Third Division, vice
    General Gatacre, ordered home.

=20.=--Boer positions attacked at Dewetsdorp.

=23.=--General Carrington arrived at Beira.

=25.=--Wepener siege raised.

    General Chermside occupied Dewetsdorp.

    Bloemfontein Waterworks recaptured.

=26.=--Sir C. Warren appointed Governor of Griqualand West.

=27.=--Thabanchu occupied.

=28.=--Fighting near Thabanchu Mountain.

MAY 1900.

=1.=--General Hamilton captured Houtnek.

=5.=--British occupation of Brandfort.

    Lord Roberts's further advance to the Vet River.

=6.=--The Vet River passed and Smaldeel occupied.

=7.=--General Hunter occupied Fourteen Streams.

=8.=--Ladybrand deserted by the Boers.

=9.=--Capture of Welgelegen.

    Mafeking Relief Force reached Vryburg.

=10.=--Battle of Zand River.

    Occupation of Ventersburg.

=12.=--Lord Roberts occupied Kroonstad without resistance.

    Commandant Eloff attacked Mafeking, and was captured by Col.

=13.=--General Buller advanced towards the Biggarsberg.

=14.=--Occupation of Dundee.

=15.=--Occupation of Glencoe.

    Mafeking Relief Force defeated the Boers at Kraaipan.

=16.=--Christiana occupied.

=17.=--General Ian Hamilton occupied Lindley.

    Colonel Mahon, at the head of the relief force, entered

    Lord Methuen entered Hoopstad.

=18.=--Occupation of Newcastle.

=20.=--Colonel Bethune's Mounted Infantry ambushed near Vryheid.

=22.=--General Ian Hamilton occupied Heilbron after a series of
    engagements. The main army, under Lord Roberts, pitched its
    tents at Honing Spruit, and General French crossed the Rhenoster
    to the north-west of the latter place.

=23.=--Rhenoster position turned.

=24.=--British Army entered the Transvaal, crossing the Vaal near
    Parys, unopposed.

=27.=--The passage of the Vaal was completed by the British Army.

=28.=--Orange Free State formally annexed under the title of Orange
    River Colony.

    The Battle of Biddulph's Berg.

=29.=--Battle of Doornkop: Boers defeated.

    Lord Roberts arrived at Germiston.

    Kruger fled his capital at midnight amid the lamentations of the

=30.=--Occupation of Utrecht by General Hildyard.

    Sir Charles Warren defeated the enemy near Douglas.

=31.=--Battalion of Irish Yeomanry captured at Lindley.

    The British flag hoisted at Johannesburg.

JUNE 1900.

=5.=--The British flag hoisted in Pretoria.


(_The Rand District and the Movements around Pretoria are shown on Map
at p. 186._)]






    Shout for the desperate host,
      Handful of Britain's race,
    Holding the lonely post
      Under God's grace;
    Guarding our England's fame
      Over the open grave,
    Shielding the Flag from shame--
      Shout for the brave!

    Ringed by a ruthless foe
      Dared they the night attack,
    Answered him blow for blow,
      Hurling him back;
    Cheering, the charge was pressed,
      More than they held they hold,
    Won bayonet at the breast--
      Shout for the bold!

    Long, long the days and nights;
      Bitter the tales that came,
    What of the distant fights?
      Rumours of shame?
    Scorning the doubts that swell,
      Nursing the hope anew,
    They did their duty well--
      Shout for the true!

    Shout for the glory won,
      Empire of East and West!
    Shout for each valiant son
      Nursed at thy breast!
    Fear could not find them out,
      Death stalked there iron-shod,
    Help found them Victors--shout
      Praises to God!



The last volume closed with an account of Colonel Plumer's desperate
effort to relieve Mafeking on the 31st of March. On that unlucky day
events of a tragic, if heroical, nature were taking place elsewhere.
These have now to be chronicled. On the 18th of March a force was moved
out under the command of Colonel Broadwood to the east of Bloemfontein.
The troops were sent to garrison Thabanchu, to issue proclamations, and
to contribute to the pacification of the outlying districts. They were
also to secure a valuable consignment of flour from the Leeuw Mills. The
enemy was prowling about, and two commandos hovered north of the small
detached post at the mills. Reinforcements were prayed for, and a strong
patrol was sent off for the protection of the post, or to cover its
withdrawal in the event of attack. Meanwhile the enemy was "lying low,"
as the phrase is. Whereupon Colonel Pilcher pushed on to Ladybrand, made
a prisoner of the Landdrost, but, hearing of the advance of an
overwhelming number of the foe, retired with all promptness to
Thabanchu. The Boers, with the mobility characteristic of them, were
gathering together their numbers, determining if possible to prevent any
onward move of the forces, and bent at all costs on securing for their
own comfort and convenience the southern corner of the Free State,
whence the provender and forage of the future might be expected to come.
Without this portion of the grain country to fall back on, they knew
their activities would be crippled indeed.

In consequence, therefore, of the close proximity of these Federal
hordes, Colonel Broadwood made an application to head-quarters for
reinforcements, and decided to remove from Thabanchu. On Friday the 30th
he marched to Bloemfontein Waterworks, south of the Modder. His force
consisted of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade (10th Hussars and the composite
regiment of Household Cavalry), "Q," "T," and "U" Batteries R.H.A.
(formed into two six-gun batteries, "Q" and "U"), Rimington's Scouts,
Roberts's Horse, Queensland and Burma Mounted Infantry. The baggage
crossed the river, and outspanned the same evening. On the following
morning at 2 A.M. the force, having fought a rearguard action throughout
the night, arrived in safety at Sanna's Post. Here for a short time they
bivouacked, and here for a moment let us leave them.

At this time a mounted infantry patrol was scouring the country. They
were seen by some Boers who were scuttling across country from the
Ladybrand region, and these promptly hid in a convenient spruit, whence,
in the time that remained to them, they planned the ambush that was so
disastrous to our forces and so exhilarating to themselves. There are
differences of opinion regarding this story. Some believe that the
ambush was planned earlier by a skilful arrangement in concert with the
Boer hordes--the hornets of Ladybrand, whose nest had been disturbed by
the invasion of Colonel Pilcher--who owed Colonel Broadwood a debt. They
declare that the hiding-place was carefully sought out, so that those
sheltered therein should, on a given signal from De Wet, act in accord
with others of their tribe, and blockade the passage of the British, who
were known--everything was known--to be returning to Bloemfontein.

According to Boer reports, the plans for the cutting off and surrounding
of Colonel Broadwood were carefully made out, but only at the last
moment, and if, for once, Boer reports can be believed, the successful
scheme may be looked upon as one of the finest pieces of strategy with
which De Wet may be accredited. The Boer tale runs thus: The Dutchman on
the 28th, with a commando of 1400 and four guns and a Maxim-Nordenfeldt,
was moving towards Thabanchu for the purpose of attacking Sanna's Post,
where he believed a force of 200 of the British to be. He did all his
travelling by night, and found himself on the evening of the 30th at Jan
Staal's farm, on the Modder River, to the north of Sanna's Post. Then,
in the very nick of time, he was informed by a Boer runner that Colonel
Broadwood's convoy was moving from Thabanchu. Quickly a council of war
was gathered together. It was a matter of life or death. De Wet, with
Piet de Wet, Piet Cronje, Wessel, Nell, and Fourie, put their heads
together and schemed. They were doubtless assisted by the foreign
attachés who were present. The result of the hurried meeting was the
division of the Boer force into three commandos. The General himself,
with 400 men, decided to strain every nerve to reach Koorn Spruit and
ensconce himself before the arrival of the convoy. Being well acquainted
with the topography of the country, the race was possible--400 picked
horsemen against slow-moving, drowsy cattle! The thing was inviting.
Success rides but on the wings of opportunity, and De Wet saw the
opportunity and grabbed it! The rest of the Boers were to dispose
themselves in two batches--500 of them, with the artillery, to plant
themselves N.N.E. of Sanna's Post, while the remainder took up a
position on the left of their comrades, and extended in the direction of
the Thabanchu road.

It was wisely argued that Broadwood's transport must cross Koorn Spruit,
and that if the Boers were posted so as to shell the British camp at
daybreak, the convoy would be hurried on, while the bulk of the force
remained to guard the rear.

Accordingly, the conspirators, with amazing promptitude, got under way,
the four guns with the commando being double-horsed and despatched to
the point arranged on the N.N.E. of Sanna's Post, while the other
galloped as designed. Fortune favoured them, for they reached their
destinations undiscovered; and the scheme, admirable in conception, was
executed with signal success.

Day had scarcely dawned before the Boers near the region of the
waterworks apprised the convoy of their existence. The British kettles
were boiling, preparations for breakfast were briskly going forward,
when, plump!--a shell dropped in their midst. Consternation prevailed.
Something must be done. The artillery? No; the British guns were useless
at so long a range. As well have directed a penny squirt at a garden
hose! All that was to be thought of was removal--and that with all
possible despatch. Scurry and turmoil followed. Mules fought and
squealed and kicked, horses careered and plunged, but at last the convoy
and two horse batteries were got under way, while the mounted infantry
sprayed out to screen the retreat. All this time shells continued to
burst and bang with alarming persistency. They came from across the
river, and consequently it was imagined that every mile gained brought
the convoy nearer to Bloemfontein and farther from the enemy. They had
some twenty miles to go. Still, the officers who had charge of the party
believed the coast to be clear. After moving on about a mile they
approached a deep spruit--a branch of the Modder, more morass than
stream. It was there that De Wet and his smart 400 had artfully
concealed themselves.

The spruit offered every facility for the formation of an ingenious
trap. The ground rose on one side toward a grassy knoll, on the slopes
of which was a stony cave from which a hidden foe could command the
drifts. So admirably concealed was this enclosure and all that it
enclosed, that the leading scouts passed over the drift without
suspecting the presence of the enemy. These latter, true to their talent
of slimness, made no sign till waggons and guns had safely entered the
drift, and were, so to speak, inextricably in their clutches.

Their manoeuvre was entirely successful. Some one said the waggons
were driven into the drift exactly as partridges are driven to the gun.
Another gave a version of very much the same kind. He said, "It was just
like walking into a cloak-room--the Boers politely took your rifle and
asked you kindly to step on one side, and there was nothing else you
could do!"

The nicety of the situation from the Boer point of view was described by
a correspondent of _The Times_:--

"The camp was about three miles from the drift, which lay in the point
of a rough angle made by an embankment under construction and the
bush-grown sluit which converged towards it. Thus when the Boers were in
position, lining the sluit and the embankment, the position became like
the base of a horse's foot. The Boers were the metal shoe, our own
troops the frog. At the point where the drift cuts the sluit the nullah
is broad and extensive. The Boers stationed at this spot realised that
the baggage was moving without an advanced guard. They were equal to the
situation. As each waggon dropped below the sky-line into the drift the
teamsters were directed to take their teams to right or left as the case
might be, and the guards were disarmed under threat of violence. No shot
was fired. Each waggon in turn was captured and placed along the sluit,
so that those in rear had no knowledge of what was taking place to their
front until it became their turn to surrender. To all intents and
purposes the convoy was proceeding forward. The scrub and high ground
beyond the drift was sufficient to mask the clever contrivance of the
enemy. Thus all the waggons except nine passed into the hands of the

The waggons, numbering some hundred, had no sooner descended to the
spruit and got bogged there than, from all sides sprung up as from the
earth, Boers with rifles at the present, shouting--"Hands up. Give up
your bandoliers." A scene of appalling confusion followed. Some cocked
their revolvers. Others were weaponless. So unsuspecting of danger had
they been that their rifles, for comfort's sake, had been stowed on the
waggons, the better to allow of freedom to assist in other operations of
transport. Some men of the baggage guard shouldered their rifles;
others, from under the medley of waggons, still strove ineffectually to
show fight. The Boers were unavoidably in the ascendant. The hour and
the opportunity were theirs.


At this time up came U Battery, with Roberts's Horse on their left. The
battery was surrounded, armed Boers roared--"You must surrender!" and
then, sharp and clear, the first shot rang through the air. This was
said to have been fired by Sergeant Green, Army Service Corps, who,
refusing to surrender, had shot his antagonist, and had instantly fallen
victim to his grand temerity. The drivers of the batteries were ordered
to dismount, but as gunners don't dismount graciously to order of the
foe, the tragedy pursued its course. Major Taylor, commanding the
battery, however, succeeded in galloping off to warn the officer
commanding Q Battery of the catastrophe. Meanwhile, in that serene and
pastoral spruit reigned fire and fury and the clash of frenzied men.
Down went a horse--another, another. Then man after man--groaning and
reeling in their agony. Many in the spruit lay dead. At this time the
troop of Roberts's Horse had appeared on the scene, and were called on
to surrender. Realising the disaster, they wheeled about, and galloped
to report and bring assistance. This was the signal for more volleys
from the enemy in the spruit, and the horsemen thus sped between two
fires--that of the Mausers below them and of the shells which had
continued to harry the troops. Nevertheless the gallant fellows rode
furiously for dear life on their journey. Men dropped from their saddles
like ripe fruit from a shaken tree. Still they sped on. They must bring
help at any price. Meanwhile the scene in the spruit was one of horror,
for the Boers were sweeping every nook and corner with their Mausers.
Cascades of fire played on the unfortunate mass therein entangled, on
waggons overturned and squealing mules, on guns and horses hopelessly
heaped together, on men and oxen sweating and plunging in death-agony.
The heaving, struggling, horrific picture was too grievous for
description. Only a part of their terrible experience was known by even
the actors themselves. Luckily, a merciful Providence allows each human
intelligence to gauge only a certain amount of the awful in tragic
experience. There are some who told of wounded men lying blood-bathed
and helpless beneath baggage that weighed like the stone of Sisyphus; of
horses that uttered weird screams of agonised despair, which petrified
the veins of hearers and sent the current of blood to their hearts; of
oxen and mules that stamped and kicked, dealing ugly wounds, so that
those who might have crawled out from under them could crawl no more.
Some guns were overturned--a hopeless bulk of iron, that resisted all
efforts at removal; others, bereft of their drivers, were dragged wildly
into space by maddened teams, whose happy instinct had caused them to
stampede. Seeing the disaster, they had pulled out to left and struggled
to get back to camp, yet even as they struggled they were disabled and
thus left at the mercy of the foe.

Major Burnham, the famous scout, who having been taken a prisoner
earlier and at this juncture remained powerless in the hands of the
Boers, thus described the terrible sight which he was forced to

"One of the batteries (Q), which was upon the outside of the
three-banked rows of waggons, halted at the spruit, dashed off,
following Roberts's Horse to the rear and south. Yet most of them got
clear, although horses and men fell at every step, and the guns were
being dragged off with only part of their teams, animals falling wounded
by the way. Then I saw the battery, when but 1200 yards from the spruit,
wheel round into firing position, unlimber, and go into action at that
range, so as to save comrades and waggons from capture. Who gave the
order for that deed of self-sacrifice I don't know. It may have been a
sergeant or lieutenant, for their commanding officer had been left
behind at the time. One of the guns upset in wheeling, caused by the
downfall of wounded horses. There it lay afterwards, whilst three steeds
for a long time fought madly to free themselves from the traces and the
presence of their dead stable companions."

Those of the unfortunate men who were uninjured struggled grandly to
save the guns, to drag them free from the scene of destruction, but
several of the guns whose teams were shot fell into the hands of the
enemy. Some gallant fellows of Rimington's Scouts made a superb effort
to rush through the fire of the Federals and save them, but five guns
only were rescued. These were all guns of Q Battery, which, when the
first alarm was given, were within 300 yards of the spruit. When the
officer who commanded the battery strove to wheel about, though the
Boers took up a second position and poured a heavy fire on the galloping
teams, a wheel horse was shot, over went a gun, more beasts dropped, a
waggon was rendered useless, but still the teams that remained were
galloped through the confusion to the shelter of some tin buildings,
part of an unfinished railway station, some 1150 yards from the
disastrous scene. Here a new era began. Much to the amazement of the
Boers, the guns came into action, and continued, in the face of horrible
carnage, to make heroic efforts at retaliation, the officers themselves
assisting in serving the guns till ordered to retire. At this time Q
Battery was assailed by a terrific cross fire, and gradually the numbers
of the gunners and horses became thinned, till the ground, covered with
riderless steeds and dismounted and disabled men, presented a picture of
writhing agony and stern heroism that has seldom been equalled. But the
splendid effort had grand results.

No sooner were the British guns in action than the whole force rallied:
the situation was saved. The Household Cavalry and the 10th Hussars were
off in one direction, Rimington's Scouts and the mounted infantry in
another, making for some rising ground on the left where their position
would be defensible and a line of retreat found. Meanwhile Q Battery
from six till noon pounded away at the Dutchmen, while Lieutenant
Chester-Master, K.R.R., found a passage farther down the spruit
unoccupied by the enemy, by which it was possible to effect a crossing.
Major Burnham's account of the artillery duelling at this time is

     "As soon as the gunners manning the five guns opened with
     shrapnel, the Boers hiding in Koorn Spruit slackened their
     fire, preferring to keep under cover as much as possible. In
     that way many others escaped. The mounted infantry deployed and
     engaged the Boer gunners and skirmishers to the east, and the
     cavalry with Roberts's Horse dismounted and rallied to cover
     the guns from the fire. A small body was also despatched to
     strike south and fight north. My captors directed their
     attention to Q Battery. They got the range, 1700 yards, by one
     of the Boers firing at contiguous bare ground, until he saw by
     the dust puffs he had got the distance, whereupon he gave the
     others the exact range, which they at once adopted. The gunners
     gave us nearly forty-eight shrapnel, for they were firing very
     rapidly, but although they had the range of our kraal, they
     only managed to kill one horse. I noticed that the Boers,
     though they dodged and took every advantage of cover, fired
     most carefully, and yet rapidly. It was the same with those in
     the spruit as inside the kraal where I sat. That day the Boers
     said to me they had but three men killed in the spruit, and
     only a half-dozen or so wounded. Those artillerymen, how I
     admired and felt proud of them! and the Boers, too, were
     astonished at their courage and endurance. Fired at from three
     sides, they never betrayed the least alarm or haste, but coolly
     laid their guns and went through their drill as if it had been
     a sham-fight, and men and horses were not dropping on all
     sides. There was a little bit of cover a hundred yards or so
     behind the battery, around the siding and station buildings of
     the projected railway and embankment. Thither the living horses
     from the limbers and guns were taken, and the wounded were
     conveyed. When, three hours later, their ammunition for the
     12-pounders was scarce, and the Boer rifle fire from the gulch,
     the waggons, and ridge opened heavy and deadly, the gunners
     would crawl back and forward for powder and shell. Had it not
     been for those terrible cannon, the Boers told me that they
     would have charged, closing in on all sides upon Broadwood's


Drawing by John Charlton]

When the order to retire was received, Major Phipps Hornby ordered the
guns and their limbers to be run back by hand to where the teams of
uninjured horses stood behind the station buildings. Then such gunners
as remained, assisted by the officers and men of the Burma Mounted
Infantry, and directed by Major Phipps Hornby and Captain Humphreys (the
sole remaining officers of the battery), succeeded in running back four
of the guns under shelter. It is said the guns would never have been
saved but for the gallant action of the officers and men of the Burma
Mounted Infantry, who, when nearly every gunner was killed, volunteered,
and succeeded, under the heaviest fire, in dragging the guns back by
hand to a place of safety. It was while doing this that Lieutenant P. C.
Grover, of the Burma Mounted Infantry, was killed. Though one or two of
the limbers were thus valiantly withdrawn under a perfect cyclone of
shot and shell, the exhausted men found it impossible to drag in the
remaining limbers or the fifth gun. Human beings failing, the horses had
also to be risked, and presently several gallant drivers volunteered to
plunge straight into the hellish vortex. They got to work grandly,
though horses dropped in death agony and man after man, hero after hero,
was picked off by the unerring and copious fire of the Dutchmen. It is
difficult to get the names of all the glorious fellows who carried their
lives in their hands on that great but dreadful day, but Gunner Lodge
and Driver Glasock were chosen as the representatives of those who
immortalised themselves and earned the Victoria Cross. Of Bombardier
Gudgeon's magnificent energy enough cannot be said. One after another
teams were shot, but he persisted in his work of getting fresh teams.
Three times he strove to roll a gun to a place of safety, and on the
third occasion was wounded. The splendid discipline of the gunners was
extolled by every eye-witness, and the way the noble fellows, surrounded
with Boer sharpshooters, stood to the guns was so marvellous, so
inspiriting, that even the men who were covering the retirement, at risk
of their lives were impelled to rise and cheer the splendid action of
the glorious remnant. The correspondent of _The Times_ declared that
"When the order came for the guns to retire, ten men and one officer
alone remained upon their feet, and they were not all unwounded. The
teams were as shattered as the gun groups. Solitary drivers brought up
teams of four--in one case a solitary pair of wheelers was all that
could be found to take a piece away. The last gun was dragged away by
hand until a team could be patched up from the horses that remained. As
the mutilated remnant of two batteries of Horse Artillery tottered
through the line of prone mounted infantry covering its withdrawal, the
men could not restrain their admiration. Though it was to court death to
show a hand, men leaped to their feet and cheered the gunners as they
passed. Seven guns and a baggage train were lost, but the prestige and
honour of the country were saved. Five guns had been extricated. The
mounted infantry had found a line of retreat, and total disaster was
avoided. But the fighting was not over. The extrication of a rearguard
in the front of a victorious and exultant enemy has been a difficult and
a delicate task in the history of all war. In the face of modern weapons
it is fraught with increased difficulties. For two hours Rimington's
Scouts, the New Zealand Mounted Infantry, Roberts's Horse, and the 3rd
Regiment of Mounted Infantry covered each other in retreat, while the
enemy galloped forward and, dismounting, engaged them, often at ranges
up to 300 yards."

The force was surrounded by the enemy on all sides, and there was no
resource but to fight through--the cavalry and mounted infantry taking a
line towards a drift on the south. Roberts's Horse made a gallant and
desperate effort to outflank the Dutchmen, and lost heavily; and
Aldersen's Brigade, with magnificent dash and considerable skill,
succeeded in holding back the hostile horde. This retirement was no easy
matter, for the position taken up by the Federals was exceptionally
favourable to them. To the north the spruit twisted in a convenient
hoop, which sheltered them; to the south was the embankment of the
railway in course of construction; from these points and from front and
rear the enemy was able, in comparative security, to batter and harass
the discomfited troops.

Fortunately, in the end, Colvile's Division, which had been making its
way from Bloemfontein, arrived in time to check the Boers in their
jubilant advance, though some hours too late to prevent the enemy from
capturing and removing the waggons and guns.

While the retreat was being effected more valorous work was going on
elsewhere. The members of the Army Medical Corps, with the coolness
peculiar to them, were exposing themselves and rushing to the assistance
of the wounded, many being stricken down in the midst of their splendid
labours. Roberts's Horse made themselves worthy of the noble soldier who
godfathered them, and one--a trooper of the name of Tod--a prodigy of
valour, rode deliberately into the _mêlée_ in search of the wounded, and
returned with the dead weight of a helpless man in his arms, under the
fierce fire of the foe. If disaster does nothing more, it breeds heroes.
The melancholy affair of Koorn Spruit brought to light the superb
qualities that lie dormant in many who live their lives in the matter of
fact way and give no sign.

Splendid actions followed one another with amazing persistence, man
after man and officer after officer attempting deeds of daring, each of
which in themselves would form the foundation of an heroic tale.
Lieutenant Maxwell of Roberts's Horse, from the very teeth of the enemy
dragged off a wounded man--a lad who, by the time he was rescued, had
fainted. But the young subaltern promptly got him in the saddle, and the
pair sped forth from the fiery zone alive. The Duke of Teck also rushed
to the succour of Lieutenant Meade, who was wounded (a bullet cutting
off his finger and piercing his thigh), gave up to him his horse and
removed him from the scene of danger. At the same time Colonel Pilcher
was gallantly rescuing Corporal Packer of the 1st Life Guards. Major
Booth (Northumberland Fusiliers) lost his life through doggedly holding
a position with four others, in order to cover the retreat.

When the Queenslanders arrived they too showed the stuff they were made
of, the best British thews combined with the doughtiest British hearts.
They plunged into action--so dashingly indeed that the Boers very nearly
mopped them up. But Colonel Henry was equal even to the skittish foe,
and contrived to entertain the Dutchmen by leading them so active a
dance that eventually the Colonials were able to fight out their own

At last the guns got away and followed the line of retreat taken by the
cavalry. The troops then conducted their retirement by alternate
companies, each company taking up its duties without fluster, and
covering the other company's retirement with great steadiness until they
reached Bushman's Kop. The marvellous coolness of the force was
particularly amazing, as every man, with the Boers still at his heels,
believed himself to be cut off, yet in spite of this belief showed no
signs of concern. In one regiment, consisting of 11 officers and 200
men, two officers were killed, four wounded, and sixty-six men killed
and wounded.

Strange scenes took place during those awful hours in the donga, and
wonderful escapes were made. One trooper was seized on by a Boer.
"Surrender," cried the Dutchman, but before another word could be
uttered, the trooper's sabre whistled from its sheath and the Boer was
dead. Another who was wounded got off, as he said, "by the skin of his
teeth." He had become jammed under a waggon in company with a Boer--who
had crept there for cover--and the hindquarters of a dying mule. Over
the cart poured a rattling rain of bullets, to which he longed to
respond. The Boer, believing the wounded man to be his prisoner, made
himself known. "Hot work this," he said. The next instant the Boer was
caught by the throat and knocked insensible, while the Briton promptly
extricated himself and vanished from the seething, fighting mass.
Another of the Household Cavalry, when summoned to surrender his rifle,
threw it with such force at the head of his would-be captor that he was
able to make good his escape.

The following interesting account was given from the point of view of an
officer of the Life Guards who was present:--

"We heard firing at 6.30, and while we were saddling bang came two
shells a little short, followed by three others. The firing went on for
half-an-hour incessantly. The convoys got under way very quickly,
followed by Mounted Infantry and Life Guards. Luckily only two shells
burst, and only one mule was killed. We moved on to the spruit and were
shot at by Mausers from our right flank. The convoys were on the brink
of the drift. Some of the waggons were actually crossing, and our
artillery close on to them, when a terrific fire came from the spruit.
The U Battery was captured--the men and officers being killed, wounded,
or prisoners. We went about and retired in good order in a hail of shot,
being within 120 yards of the enemy. It is wonderful how we escaped. Two
of our men were shot--one in the thigh and the other in the
shoulder--and we had altogether 32 missing. Our leading horses and
baggage were within nine feet of the fire; yet many of them got off,
including my servant and horse. I lost, however, my saddlebags, with
change of clothes, trousers, shoes, iron kettle, and letters which I
grudge the Boers reading. We got out of fire and lined the river banks,
firing shots at the Boers, who were, however, too distant. We were well
hid in a position like what the Boers had held themselves, and we hoped
to enfilade them, but the river twisted too much, and it is impossible
to locate fire with smokeless powder. We then followed the 10th Hussars
for four miles towards Bushman's Kopje. The Ninth Division Infantry,
under Colvile, came over the ridge with eighteen guns, and we heard a
lot of heavy firing."

He went on to say: "Why we are alive I can't say. Many of the bullets
were explosive, as I heard them burst when they hit the ground. The
shelling was most trying, as we had to stand quite still for twenty
minutes a living target."

A laughing philosopher, a Democritus of the nineteenth century, gave to
the world, _viâ_ the _Pall Mall Gazette_, his curious experiences. Among
other things he said:--

"Roberts's Horse was ordered to trot off to the right of the convoy.
'Oh! those are our men, you fool,' said everybody. Two men came up to
the Colonel. 'We've got you surrounded, you'd better surrender,' say
they; and heads popped up in the grass forty yards from us. Boers
appeared all along the ridge a hundred yards ahead. 'Files about,
gallop!' yells the adjutant. (They dropped him immediately.)

"I was carrying a fence-post to cook the breakfast of my section (of
four men). I turned my horse; there came a crackling in the air, on the
ground, everywhere; the whole world was crackling, a noise as of thorns
crackling or the cracks of a heavy whip. My gee-gee (usually slow) went
well, stimulated by the horses round it, and actually took a water-jump;
I had to hold my helmet on with my right hand, which still held the
fence-post, and I thought my knuckles would surely get grazed by a
bullet. They were pouring in a cross-fire now as well, and once or twice
I heard the _s-s-s-s-s_ of the Mauser bullet (the crackle is explosives,
you know). It was very exhilarating; the gallop and the fire made me
shout and sing and whistle. I jumped a dead man, and almost immediately
caught up B., who is one of my section.

"The fire was slackening, and we were half a mile away by then, and we
looked round to see whether anybody was forming up. The plain was dotted
with men and many riderless horses. Everybody was yelling, 'When do we
form up?' You feel rather foolish when running away. At about one mile
we formed up again. From the rear, and from the place we had come from,
and from the river bed, there came a noise as of thousands of
shipwrights hammering. Nine (?) of our guns were captured; the remaining
three fired at intervals. My squadron was sent into a depression on the
left of the New Zealanders. Here we dismounted (No. 3 of each section
holding the horses), and went up as a firing line, range 1200, 1400, and
1600 yards. The General passed. 'Ever been in such a warm corner?' says
he to the bugler. 'Oh yes,' says the little chap, quite cheerfully and
untruthfully. The General remarked, laughing, that _he_ hadn't. I felt
sorry for him, and heard the newsboys shouting, 'Another British
disaster!' and the Continental papers, 'Nouvelle défaite des Anglais!
Yah!' It was the greatest fun out, barring the loss of the guns and men.
For we were not losing a situation of strategic importance or anything
of that kind. The Boers had collared our blankets and things, but we
chuckled at the thought of what they would suffer if they ever slept in

Sergeant-Major Martin, who, with Major Taylor (commanding U Battery),
was incidental in warning Colonel Rochfort and Major Phipps Hornby of
their danger, and thus assisting to save Q Battery, described his

"A Boer commander stepped out and confronted the Major with fixed
bayonet; all his (the Boer's) men stood up in the spruit ready to shoot
us down if we had attempted to fight, ordered the Major to surrender,
and also the battery. The battery had no chance whatever to do anything.
As the trap was laid, so we fell into it. Now, as the Major was talking
to the Boer commander, I turned my horse round (I was then three yards
from him) and walked quietly to the rear of our battery. When I got
there, putting spurs to my horse, I galloped for all I was worth to tell
the Colonel to stop the other battery, as U Battery were all prisoners.
I then looked towards the battery; the Boers were busy disarming them. I
went a little distance in that direction to have a last look. By this
time the Household Cavalry had come up, and the 14th Hussars; they
halted, soon found out what had happened, and turned round to retire. As
they did so the Boers opened fire on us. The bullets came like
hailstones. It was a terrible sight. One gun and its team of horses
galloped away; by some means or other it was pulled up. I took
possession of it, still under this heavy fire, and, finding one of our
drivers, I put him in the wheel, and drove the leaders myself. We had
between us 14 horses. I drove in the lead for about six miles, following
the cavalry, who had gone on to see if we could get through. Eventually,
after several hours, I got into safe quarters."

The list of loss was terrible:--

     Brevet-Major A. W. C. Booth, Northumberland Fusiliers;
     Lieutenant P. Crowle, Roberts's Horse; Lieutenant Irvine, Army
     Medical Service (attached to Royal Horse Artillery), were
     killed. Among the wounded were: Brevet-Colonel A. N. Rochfort,
     Royal Horse Artillery, Staff. Q Battery Royal Horse
     Artillery.--Captain G. Humphreys, Lieutenant E. B. Ashmore,
     Lieutenant H. R. Peck, Lieutenant D. J. Murch, Lieutenant J. K.
     Walch, Tasmanian Artillery (attached). Royal Horse
     Guards.--Lieutenant the Hon. A. V. Meade. Roberts's
     Horse.--Major A. W. Pack Beresford, Captain Carrington Smith,
     Lieutenant H. A. A. Darley, Lieutenant W. H. M. Kirkwood.
     Mounted Infantry.--Major D. T. Cruickshank, 2nd Essex Regiment;
     Lieutenant F. Russell-Brown, Royal Munster Fusiliers;
     Lieutenant P. C. Grover, Shropshire Light Infantry (since
     dead); Lieutenant H. C. Hall, Northumberland Fusiliers.
     _Wounded and Missing._--Captain P. D. Dray, Lieutenant and
     Quartermaster Hawkins. _Missing._--Lieutenant H. R. Horne.
     Royal Horse Artillery.--Captain H. Rouse, Lieutenant G. H. A.
     White, Lieutenant F. H. G. Stanton, Lieutenant F. L. C.
     Livingstone-Learmonth. 1st Northumberland
     Fusiliers.--Lieutenant H. S. Toppin. 2nd Duke of Cornwall's
     Light Infantry.--Lieutenant H. T. Cantan. 1st Yorkshire Light
     Infantry.--Captain G. G. Ottley. Royal West Kent
     Regiment.--Lieutenant R. J. T. Hildyard. Captain Wray, Royal
     Horse Artillery, Staff; Captain Dray, Roberts's Horse;
     Lieutenant the Hon. D. R. H. Anderson-Pelham, 10th Hussars;
     Lieutenant C. W. H. Crichton, 10th Hussars.

The casualties all told numbered some 350, including 200 missing.
Reports differ regarding the strength of the enemy. Lord Roberts
estimated it at 8000 to 10,000, while De Wet declared he had only about
1400 men.

All that remained of U Battery was one gun, Major Taylor, a
sergeant-major, a shoeing-smith, and a driver!

In Q Battery, Captain Humphreys, Lieutenants Peck, Ashmore, Murch were
wounded, and the latter two reported missing.

The whole of the grievous Saturday afternoon was spent by the gallant
doctors in tending the ninety or more of our brave wounded who lay
helpless in the spruit. They were carried to the shelter of the tin
houses, and the work of bandaging and extracting bullets was pursued
without a moment's relaxation. The removal of the sufferers from the
neighbourhood of the spruit on the day following was a sorry task, and
the sight that presented itself to the ambulance party was one which was
too shocking to be ever forgotten. In the spruit itself the wreckage of
waggons which had been looted by the Boers covered most of the scene,
and, interspersed with them were horses and cattle, maimed, mutilated,
and dead. With these, in ghastly companionship, were the bodies of slain
soldiers and black waggon-drivers. The living wounded were conveyed from
the disastrous vicinity in ambulances and waggons brought for them under
the covering fire of the guns, which swept the length of the river and
deterred the enemy from attempting to block the passage of the
melancholy party. The Republicans, however, fired viciously from
adjacent kopjes, but without disturbing the progress of the operations.

At noon General French's cavalry, with Wavell's Brigade, had left
Bloemfontein to occupy a position on the Modder between Glen and Sanna's
Post, and keep an eye on further encroachments of the Boers. The enemy,
on the fatal Saturday night, had destroyed the waterworks, thus forcing
the inhabitants of Bloemfontein to fall back on some insanitary wells,
as a substitute for which the waterworks had been erected. Here, on
their departure for Ladybrand, they left 12 officers and 70 men, who had
been wounded in the fray, and whom they doubtless considered might be an
encumbrance to their future movements. These were conveyed by ambulance
to Bloemfontein.


As an instance of Boer treachery, it was stated that the Free State
commandant Pretorius, whose farm overlooked the spruit wherein the
ambuscade was arranged, had given up arms and taken the oath to retire
to his farm. Yet on the day of the disaster he led the Boers to the
attack, while the members of his family were prominent among the looters
of the wrecked waggons. Other tales of cruelty and ill-treatment and
treachery on the part of the Boers were well authenticated. It is
useless to repeat them, but the circumstances are merely noted to give
an explanation for a change of policy which was necessitated by the
actions of the enemy--a change which was, unfortunately, adopted only
when many martyrs had been made in the cause of forbearance.


The Boers, triumphant with their success at Koorn Spruit, scurried to
Dewetsdorp, drove out the British detachment which had been posted there
by General Gatacre, and on the 4th of April came in for another piece of
luck, for which we had to pay by the loss of three companies of Royal
Irish Rifles and two companies of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

The unfortunate occurrence took place near Reddersburg, somewhat to the
east of Bethanie Railway Station. A party of infantry, consisting of
three companies of Royal Irish Rifles and two companies of the
Northumberland Fusiliers, who had been in occupation of Dewetsdorp, and
engaged on a pacification mission on the east of the Free State, were
ordered on the 3rd to retire to Reddersburg, a place situated some
thirty-seven miles from Bloemfontein and fifty miles from Springfontein,
where General Gatacre had taken up his head-quarters. In their
retirement the troops, it is said, took a somewhat unusual detour, and
thus, if they did not court, ran risk of disaster. Anyway, they had
travelled about four miles to the east of their destination when, at
Mosterts Hok, they were surprised to discover a strong force of some
2500 Boers. They were still more surprised to find that, while they
themselves were unaccompanied by artillery, and were possessed of little
reserve ammunition, the Dutchmen were provided with three or four
formidable guns. Thus, the situation from the first was alarming. Our
men, comparatively defenceless, saw themselves hedged in by an
overmastering horde. They quickly occupied a position on a peaked hill
rising in the centre of ground sliced and seamed with dry nullahs. These
popular havens of refuge were at once seized by the Boers and deftly
made use of. The Dutchmen, under cover of the dongas, crept cautiously
up on all sides of the kopje, surrounding it and pouring cascades of
rifle-fire on the small exposed force. In no time the chance of retreat
was barred on all sides, and there was no resource but to fight through.
But unfortunately, as British ammunition was limited and the Boers
warily kept well out of range, all that could be done was to prolong
hostilities in the hope that delay would enable reinforcements from
Bethanie to come to the rescue. But these did not arrive. The Boers,
grasping the situation, gathered courage and approached nearer and
nearer. With the dusk coming on and some 2500 of the foe enfilading them
from three sides, the British position, as may be imagined, was not a
hopeful one. Nevertheless, the Royal Irish Rifles displayed the national
spirit of dare-devilry--"fought like bricks," some one said--never
losing heart under the persistent attacks of shot and shell that
continued till nightfall.


Facsimile of a Sketch by Melton Prior, War Artist]

Hoping and waiting and fighting; so passed the dreadful hours of dark.
Then, with the dawn, the enemy, flushed with triumph, commenced to pound
their prey with redoubled vigour, while our parched and almost
ammunitionless troops, in a ghastly quandary, alternately fought and
prayed for relief!

Meanwhile the news of the affair having reached Lord Roberts, General
Gatacre, on the afternoon of the 3rd, was ordered to proceed from
Springfontein to the spot, while the Cameron Highlanders were despatched
from Bloemfontein to Bethanie.

General Gatacre, with his main body and an advance guard of mounted
infantry under Colonel Sitwell, then marched _viâ_ Edenburg to the
succour of the detachment. On the morning of the 4th, Colonel Sitwell
having arrived at Bethanie, some fifteen miles from Mosterts Hok, heard
sounds of artillery in the distance, and believing that the engagement
was going on, prepared to rush to the rescue. But with the small force
at his disposal, he deemed it impossible to try a frontal attack, and
decided to make an attempt to get round the enemy's right flank. The
manoeuvre was unsuccessful, for a party of hidden Boers, from a kopje
north-west of Reddersburg, assailed him and forced him to retire and
wait till the main column should come to his assistance. But by the time
General Gatacre had reached the scene (10.30 A.M. on the 4th) the drama
had been enacted, the curtain had descended on the tragedy. The small
and valorous party on Mosterts Hok, which for thirty hours had been
fighting and were at last sans water, sans ammunition, sans everything
in fact, had been forced to surrender. No sign of them was to be seen.
The unfortunate band--many of them the survivors of the fatal exploit at
Stormberg--were now on their way to that aristocratical
prison-house--the Model School at Pretoria.

General Gatacre, finding further effort useless, then occupied the town
of Reddersburg. There, the Boers had hoisted the Free State flag, and
were making themselves generally objectionable. Quickly the Boer banner
was torn down and the Union Jack run up, though during the operations
the General narrowly escaped assassination. He was fired at from a
house, but fortunately escaped with only a scratch on the shoulder.

By evening, acting on instructions from Bloemfontein, and owing to the
fact that the enemy was massed in all directions and surrounding the
town, the force and its prisoners returned to Bethanie, and there
encamped to mount guard over the rail. Details regarding the movements
of the troops on this grievous day were given by a correspondent, in the
_Daily Telegraph_, whose version throws a somewhat depressing light on
the sufficiently depressing affair. The writer declared that:--

"A large British force, with a brigade division of artillery (eighteen
guns), on the march to Bloemfontein, was at Bethanie, about eleven miles
from Reddersburg, on the night of April 3, and got the news of the
above-mentioned infantry being surrounded about 11 P.M. The men
immediately saddled up, got under arms, and remained all night ready to
move off in relief, but did not receive orders to do so until 8 A.M. on
April 4, and then were only permitted to proceed at a walk, constantly
halting to water the horses. The result of the delay was that the column
arrived just too late, and was then not even allowed to pursue the enemy
and release the prisoners, who were dead beat and could not possibly
have been hurried along. The relief column was manoeuvred outside the
town of Reddersburg during most of the day, and then was ordered to
return to Bethanie, but, when within a few miles of camp, with the
horses and men tired out, a complete change of instructions were issued,
and the column was wheeled about and told to march back and take the
town of Reddersburg. The Cameron Highlanders, who had just come off a
troopship from Egypt, and were, consequently, quite unfit, could hardly
move, but all had to turn, for no apparent reason, and march to the
ground they had left. The mounted infantry and artillery trotted back
and occupied Reddersburg about dusk, with only one casualty, viz. an
officer of mounted infantry, and the force bivouacked, with very little
food, just outside the town.

"About midnight, the order was given to return to Bethanie again, and
the men, who could hardly crawl, were awakened, the march resumed, and
Bethanie was reached about 7 A.M. on April 5, after great and
unnecessary distress both to men and animals, while no object was
gained, the whole expedition being a miserable fiasco, disheartening and
humiliating to every one present.

"To whom blame is attributable it is difficult to say, as the officer in
command seemed not to have a free hand, but to be directed by wires
received at intervals, which must have taken five or six hours to reach
him. Either the relief ought never to have been attempted, or it ought
to have been carried out expeditiously and with determination."

Mr. Purves, who, as a lance-corporal with one of the Ambulance Corps,
was in the thick of the fray, gave a graphic description of the unhappy

     "Reaching Dewetsdorp on the morning of Sunday, April 1st, we
     first became aware that our progress was being watched by the
     Boers. Just as we were about to camp outside the dorp, our
     scouts exchanged a few shots with those of the enemy. Beyond a
     temporary disarrangement of our plans, nothing happened, as the
     main body of the enemy did not show at all, and things quieted
     down till nightfall, when another alarm was caused by the
     arrival of the Mounted Infantry (Royal Irish Rifles and
     Northumberland Fusiliers), who were mistaken by our people for
     Boers, as their arrival was unexpected, and our presence in
     the position occupied by us was a surprise to them. The Mounted
     Infantry actually dismounted to prepare for business, when
     fortunately a mutual recognition took place, and a hearty
     greeting to the brave fellows who were to bear the brunt of the
     coming action was extended by our force. Captain Casson (one of
     the first to fall at Mosterts Hock) commanded the new-comers.
     After a night's rest, we started again on the march, which
     continued without event till Tuesday, 3rd, when our scouts at
     11.30 came back with the news that the enemy were upon us,
     making for two kopjes in front of us. Both of these were
     immediately crowned by our little force of 440--the
     above-mentioned Mounted Infantry, with some of the Royal Irish
     Rifles taking the northern kopje, and the remainder of the
     Royal Irish Rifles that to the south. Rifle firing opened at
     once, and gradually grew hotter till about 2 P.M., when the
     Boers opened with artillery, four guns being brought into play
     in positions that enabled them to sweep our two lines.
     Fortunately, the firing was most erratic, and little or no
     damage was done by the shells. Volley fire from the Royal Irish
     Rifles soon put one of the guns out of action. We had no
     artillery, and the wonder is that we held the position,
     extended as it was far beyond what seemed tenable to so small a
     force, for the long time we did. The bearers of C Company, Cape
     Medical Staff Corps, had a particularly warm time of it. Sent
     as they were at the commencement of the action right on to the
     fighting line, they stuck to their posts till the very last
     without any cover, and only retired with the last line of
     straggling defenders, who worked their way back through a
     deadly hail of bullets, explosive and otherwise, to their own
     camp, after the Boers had won the day. The first day's fight
     lasted till darkness, when we tried to snatch some rest--a
     luxury that came to few. Next morning at 5.30 found us sniping
     at one another prior to the forenoon fire that soon kept every
     one busy at all points. At 8 the artillery commenced firing,
     and the fight became fiercer till about 9, when our men on the
     north kopje, unable to contend against the fearful odds,
     hoisted the white flag, and the Boers on that side rushed the
     position, and were thus able to pour a murderous fire into the
     unfortunate Royal Irish Rifles on the southern height, who,
     while their attention was riveted on the enemy on their front,
     were in ignorance of what was going on in their rear for a
     while. When they turned to reply to the rear attack, their
     position was taken, and the poor fellows, accompanied by nine
     of the stretcher-bearers, had to run for the hospital, distant
     600 yards, under a fearful cross-fire. Several of the Rifles
     were killed, but the bearers escaped marvellously. The
     hospital, which was pitched between the two kopjes, suffered
     from the shelling, and was in itself dangerous; while, to add
     to the risk, a trench thrown up to protect the sick was
     mistaken by the Boers for a rifle-trench, and became a mark for
     their special attention. One shell burst near the
     operating-tent while the surgeons were at work on a wounded
     man, and riddled the tent, fortunately hitting no one. Another
     banged into a buck waggon. A third cut a mule in halves. A
     slight bruise on the knee was the only hurt suffered by any of
     the Hospital Corps. Our dead numbered ten, whom we buried on
     the battle-field, placing over the grave a neatly dressed and
     lettered stone, executed by Private Buckland, C Medical Staff
     Corps. Two of the wounded died afterwards in the temporary
     hospital at Reddersburg, and are buried in the cemetery there.
     The wounded, thirty-two in number, were sent down from Bethanie
     to one of the base hospitals, for treatment in the convalescent
     stage. Enough praise cannot be given to the warm-hearted people
     of the Dutch village of Reddersburg. It mattered not that we
     were British. Their all was placed at our disposal, and to
     their generosity much of our success with the wounded is to be

The casualties were as follows:--

     _Killed_--Captain F. G. Casson, Northumberland Fusiliers; 2nd
     Lieut. C. R. Barclay, Northumberland Fusiliers. _Dangerously
     Wounded_--Captain W. P. Dimsdale, Royal Irish Rifles. _Slightly
     Wounded_--Lieut. E. C. Bradford, Royal Irish Rifles.
     _Captured_--Captain Tennant, Royal Artillery; 2nd Lieut.
     Butler, Durham Light Infantry, attached to Northumberland
     Fusiliers; Captain W. J. McWhinnie, Royal Irish Rifles; Captain
     A. C. D. Spencer, Royal Irish Rifles; Captain Kelly, Royal
     Irish Rifles; 2nd Lieut. E. H. Saunders, Royal Irish Rifles;
     2nd Lieut. Bowen-Colthurst, Royal Irish Rifles; 2nd Lieut.
     Soutry, Royal Irish Rifles, and all remaining rank and file.

Lieut. Stacpole (Northumberland Fusiliers) was also wounded on the 4th.
He was riding for reinforcements, and as he approached Reddersburg,
unknowing the place was in the hands of the Boers, he was greeted with
shots which killed his horse, wounded him, and placed him at the mercy
of the enemy, by whom he was captured. The Boers in their retreat,
however, left their prisoners behind. The total of killed and wounded
numbered between 50 and 150. The strength of the British was 167 mounted
infantry, 424 infantry. The enemy were said to be 3200 strong.

The unlucky termination of the affair completed the eastern flanking
movement of the Boers, who were now trickling over the country from
Sanna's Post on the south to a point east of Jagersfontein road. They
soon held the Free State east of the railway beyond Bethulie, and
considerable numbers went south towards Smithfield and Rouxville, their
determination, after their recent successes, being to harass the British
force as much as possible. It was now becoming evident that all the
present trouble was due to over-leniency, and it began to be urged that
some measures must be adopted which would ensure for the conquerors of
the enemy's country the respect that was due to them. The humanitarian
attitude of Lord Roberts had produced an unlooked-for result. The
Commander-in-Chief had attempted to administer justice for a
seventeenth-century people on the ethics of those of the nineteenth, and
the experiment had proved disastrous. The enemy, far from being
impressed by the show of magnanimity, was laughing in his sleeve at his
immunity from pains and penalties. Our troops were forced now to move in
a country where nearly every man was a foe or a spy, and one who,
moreover, thought meanly of us for the concessions which had been made.
As an instance of contrast between our own and the Dutchman's mode of
dealing with those considered as rebels, an instructive story was told.
A Free State burgher at the outset of hostilities entered the Imperial
service as a conductor of transport. It was a non-combatant's
occupation, and one for which he was fitted, owing to his knowledge of
the Kaffir and Dutch languages. This man was captured by the Boers, who,
declaring him to be a rebel, instantly shot him dead. We, on the other
hand, accepted an obsolete rifle, a flint-lock elephant gun belonging to
the days of the Great Trek perhaps, as a peace-offering and then told
the rebel to go away and turn over a new leaf. His new leaf resolved
itself into unearthing Mausers and Martinis, and popping at us from the
first convenient kopje--if not from the windows of his farm!

To this cause may be attributed the sudden return of so-called ill-luck,
which seemed epidemic. April had brought with it an alarming list of
losses at Sanna's Post, which was followed by a grievous total of
killed, wounded, and missing--five companies lost to us--at Reddersburg.
We had, moreover, disquieting days around Thabanchu, Ladybrand, and
Rouxville, and were being forced gradually, and not always gracefully,
to retreat. For instance, in the retirement from Rouxville, four
companies of the Royal Irish, some Queenstown and Kaffrarian Rifles, had
merely escaped by what in vulgar phrase we term "the skin of their
teeth." It was merely owing to the smartness of General Brabant, who
sent two squadrons of Border Horse from Aliwal North to the rescue, that
the small force escaped being cut off. This officer's little band
garrisoning Wepener was meanwhile beginning to test the Boer force in


At this time great excitement prevailed owing to the escape from
Pretoria of Captain Haldane, D.S.O. (Gordon Highlanders), who was
captured after the disaster to the armoured train at Chieveley; of
Lieutenant Le Mesurier (Dublin Fusiliers), who was taken prisoner with
Colonel Moeller's force after the battle of Glencoe; and of Sergeant
Brockie, a Colonial volunteer. These officers had a more adventurous
task than even that of Mr. Churchill, for since the war correspondent's
escape the Boers had naturally taken additional precautions, and had
mounted extra guard over their prisoners. The officers most ingeniously
contrived to dig a trench underneath the floor of the prison, and here
they hid themselves. For eighteen long days they remained cramped in
this small underground hole, in the daily expectation that the other
officers and their guards were about to be transferred to new quarters,
when a chance of escape would be offered.

Captain Haldane gave exciting details of his adventures in _Blackwood's
Magazine_; but, before dealing with them, it is interesting to consider
the position of the vast congregation of British officers that had
gradually been collected within the confines of the Model School.
Curiously enough, after all the fighting, the sum total of prisoners of
war on both sides was now nearly equal. By the 23rd of March the Boer
prisoners in our hands were 5000, while the British prisoners in
Pretoria numbered some 3466. Since that date, through various unlucky
accidents, the Boers had captured some 1000 more of our troops, and thus
early in April the enemy almost equalled us in the matter of capture!


The Model School stands in the centre of the town. It is commodious,
though devoid of privacy (on the principle of a boys' dormitory) well
ventilated, lighted with electricity, and roofed with corrugated iron.
At the time of the escape there was a gymnasium, and also a
scaling-ladder against the wall, which suggested infinite possibilities
to such men as Captain Haldane, who had all the exciting histories of
"Latude," "Jack Sheppard," and "Monte Christo" at his fingers' ends.
There were rough screens to enclose some of the cubicles, and the walls
in some cases were decorated with cuttings from the illustrated papers,
or with humorous sketches made by talented amateurs. Two of these were
especially admired, a chase after President Steyn personally conducted
by Lord Roberts, and a caricature of President Kruger, which latter was
highly appreciated even by the Boers when it came under their notice.

The special nook of the Rev. Adrian Hofmeyer, who had made himself into
a general favourite, and was laconically declared to be a "regular
brick," was the most decorative of all, being made gay with various
scraps of colour and design to cheer the weary eye. By this time the
reverend gentleman, having had a more trying experience of incarceration
than most, had got to look upon the Model School in the light of
residential chambers, and consoled others with the account of his own
experiences. His story was not an enlivening one:--

     "I was lodged in the common jail, Cronje's law adviser having
     informed him it would not be legal to shoot me. Cronje
     consequently thought the best thing to do would be another
     illegality, namely, imprison a non-combatant and correspondent.
     Mr. Cronje has ample time to-day in St. Helena to meditate upon
     this and other illegal acts of his. I was locked up in a cell
     eighteen feet by nine feet, and for the first few days was
     allowed to have my meals at the hotel. Soon, however, this
     liberty was taken away, for it proved too much for the
     Christian charity of the Zeerust burghers to see a despised
     prisoner of war marched up and down from the hotel to the jail
     under police escort. Other restrictions were soon imposed also,
     and after a little while I was locked up day and night, the
     door of the unventilated cell being open only three times a day
     for fifteen minutes at a time. No books nor papers were allowed
     me, no visitors, and the few loyal friends who tried to supply
     me with luxuries were cruelly forbidden to do so by the
     authorities. I cannot help thinking to-day of the strange irony
     of fate. The commanders who practised this cruelty upon me were
     Cronje and Snyman. The one is to-day a prisoner of war, and
     can, perhaps, put himself in my place. He is an old personal
     acquaintance, too."

The worthy padre was afterwards removed, and gave a further description
of his experiences.

     "After eight weeks of such life I was taken to Pretoria, and
     there quartered in the Staats Model School with the British
     officers. Here everything was better, and I quickly recovered
     my health and strength. The building was a magnificent one, and
     the surroundings very pleasant, but our jailer, a Landdrost,
     and our guards, the Zarps, never forgot to remind us of the
     fact that we were prisoners. The food we got from Government
     sufficed for one meal; the rest we had to buy, being charged
     most exorbitant prices. When I left, the officers' mess
     amounted to £1600 per month for 144 officers. On my arrival, I
     was asked by the officers to conduct service for them every
     Sunday, in addition to that held by an Anglican clergyman. For
     two Sundays, therefore, we had two services a day, and then
     Winston Churchill escaped, and the following extraordinary
     letter was sent the officers by the Anglican clergyman:--

     "'GENTLEMEN,--By the kind courtesy of the Government, I have
     been permitted to hold services for you in connection with the
     Church of England, which services I have felt it a privilege on
     my part to conduct. After what has recently occurred--viz. the
     escape of Mr. Churchill from confinement--I exceedingly regret
     that, in consideration of my duty to the Government, I must
     discontinue such regular ministrations, as I desire to maintain
     the honour due to my position. Of course I shall always be glad
     to minister to you in any emergency, with the special
     permission of the authorities, who will, with their usual
     kindness, duly inform me.--With my best wishes, I am,
     gentlemen, yours sincerely, ----.'

     "Out of charity, I do not publish the reverend gentleman's
     name,[2] but I can add that 'the emergency' referred to never
     presented itself. Since that time, I had the pleasure and
     honour of conducting the services every Sunday, and they were
     the pleasantest hours I spent in prison. Our singing was so
     hearty and good, that many of the townsfolk strolled up of a
     Sunday morning to hear us."


Drawing by S. Begg]

As may be imagined, all manner of devices were invented for the purpose
of securing news, the only intelligence of outside events coming to the
unhappy prisoners through the _Standard and Diggers' News_, which
journal, of course, dwelt gloatingly on British disasters. But the
authorities were suspicious. One day a harmonium was removed, owing to
the treasonable practice of performing "God save the Queen"; on another,
a cherished terrier was banished, as he was declared to be a smuggler,
and charged with the crime of carrying notes in his tail! But at last,
an ingenious ruse was successfully perpetrated. A man, accompanied by a
dog, came to the railings and there engaged in a private dialogue, which
savoured of the maniacal, till the eagerly listening officers discovered
that there might be method in the strange man's madness. A sample of the
scene was given by the correspondent of the _Standard_:--

"'Would you like a swim?' asked the master, and the dog, with a wag of
his tail, answered 'Yes.' 'Ladysmith is all right,' continued the man,
and the tail wagged assent. 'We will come again,' said the master, and
the dog agreed. For a time the prisoners thought him mad, this man with
the dog who talked in his beard, and mixed his dog talk with such names
as 'Ladysmith,' 'Mafeking,' 'Cronje,' 'Roberts.' Then the truth dawned
on them, and the 'Dog Man' became a hero, whose coming was watched with
longing, and whose mutterings in his beard were 'as cool waters to the
thirsty soul,' or as 'good news from a far country.' One day the 'Dog
Man' was missing, and there was lamentation, until, looking towards the
house opposite, the prisoners saw him standing well back in the passage,
at the entrance to which two girls kept watch. The 'Dog Man' was waving
his hat in eccentric fashion, and the waving was found to be legible to
those who understand signalling. Next morning a tiny flag was
substituted for the hat, and communication between the officers and the
Director of Telegraphs was established by flag signal."

The prisoners endeavoured to keep up an air of jocosity, though, as
one confessed, their tempers were "very short and inclined to be
captious." Naturally their occupations were limited, and it was not
unusual to see gallant commanders engaged in darning their socks, or
washing their clothes under the pump. Their attire, too, was not of the
choicest, some of them having been accommodated when sick with suits
technically known as "slops," purchased for a low price in Johannesburg.
Hence one officer disported himself in choice pea-green, while another
figured in rich yellow. These prison suits were scarcely becoming,
particularly as many of the smartest of the smart were growing beards,
or, if not beards, the ungainly chin tuft or "Charley," which destroyed
their martial aspect. Sometimes they engaged in games, bumble puppy and
the like, and occasionally expanded to other sports. A letter from a
sprightly member of the band to the _Eton College Chronicle_ described
the humorous side of their daily life:--


     "DEAR MR. EDITOR,--Whilst following the fortunes of old
     Etonians in South Africa, perhaps it may have escaped your
     notice that a small and unhappy band has already reached
     Pretoria. Mr. Rawlins's House is represented by Captain Ricardo
     (Royal Horse Guards), and H. A. Chandos-Pole-Gell (Coldstream
     Guards); Mr. Carter's by Major Foster (Royal Artillery); the
     late Mr. Dalton's, Mr. Ainger's, and Mr. Luxmore's respectively
     by M. Tristram (12th Lancers), G. Smyth-Osbourne (Devonshire
     Regiment), and G. L. Butler (Royal Artillery); and Mr.
     Cornish's by G. R. Wake (Northumberland Fusiliers). The
     histories of their separate captures would take up too much of
     your valuable space. Some have been here but a short time, some
     many weeks; and during their captivity their thoughts turned to
     old Eton days, and the game of fives recommended itself to them
     as a means of passing some of the many weary hours. There was
     no "pepper-box," or "dead man's hole"; but a room, two of whose
     walls mainly consisted of windows, with the aid of three
     cupboards and a piece of chalk, was quickly converted into a
     fives court. Entries for a Public Schools' tournament were
     numerous, Eton sending three pairs. Tristram and Gell
     unanimously elected themselves to represent Eton's first pair,
     closely followed by Eton II., Ricardo and Osbourne, Eton III.
     being Wake and Butler. The facts that Tristram had recently
     been perforated with Mauser bullets, and Gell had spent
     Christmas and the three preceding weeks in the various jails
     between Modder River and Bloemfontein, were no doubt
     responsible for their not carrying off the coveted trophy.
     Alas! they were badly beaten in the first round by Marlborough.
     Not so Eton II. and III., who carried the Light Blue
     successfully into the second round, both having drawn byes.
     This good fortune could not last, and they fell heavily at the
     second venture, being beaten by Wellington and Rugby
     respectively. The ultimate winners proved to be Wellington,
     after a desperate encounter with Charterhouse.

     "So much for our pleasures; our troubles are legion, but we
     will not burden you with them. We daily expect to hear of the
     E.C.R.V. sharing the hardships of the campaign, and covering
     themselves with glory to the tune of


     "_P.S._--We all hope to be at Eton on the 4th of June.

     "_Feb. 14, 1900._"

(Curiously enough, the 4th of June brought to a close the deadly period
of durance vile. On that date the gallant crew spent their last night as

To return to Captain Haldane and his partners in adventure. Ever since
Mr. Churchill's escape he had racked his brains to discover a means of
escape, and had made multifarious plans, many of which were rejected as
absolutely hopeless, while many others failed after efforts which
testified to the perseverance and ingenuity of their inventors. It was
no easy matter after Mr. Churchill's exploit to hit on a means of
evading the wily and now alert Boer.

The guard were armed with rifles, revolvers, and whistles, and as these
consisted of some thirty men, who furnished nine sentries in reliefs of
four hours, there was little hope of escaping their vigilance.
Fortunately the prisoners, such as had plain clothes in their
possession, were permitted to wear them, otherwise the dream of freedom
could scarcely have been indulged in. Bribery was not to be thought of,
and a repetition of Mr. Churchill's desperate dash for freedom was
impossible. It remained, therefore, for Captain Haldane and his
colleagues to invent a new and ingenious method of bursting their bonds.
An effort to cut the electric wires to throw the place in darkness while
they scaled the walls, proved a sorry failure, and at last, having tried
the roof and other points of egress and found them wanting, the
companions hit on the happy idea of burrowing a subterranean place of
concealment. Here they thought to scrape on and on till they bored a
tunnel into the open! The discovery of a trap-door in the planks under
one of the beds lent impetus to their designs, and they arranged to
excavate a route diagonally under the street, and so pass into the
gardens of the neighbouring houses. Marvellous was the patience and
perseverance with which they, almost toolless--with only scraps of
biscuit tins and screwdrivers--toiled daily in the accomplishment of
their plan, and pathetic their dismay when their tunnel finished up by
landing them in several feet of water with a promise of more to come.
But they were indefatigable. Captain Haldane, like the great Napoleon,
argued that the word impossible was only to be found in the dictionary
of fools. Rumours that the prisoners were to be removed to a new
building in two or three days only contrived to render the conspirators
more desperate in their craving to be at large, and again the trap-door
system was discussed. The young men determined on revised operations,
and hit on the plan of living underground in the cave they should dig,
thus disappearing from Boer ken and conveying the idea that they had
already bolted, leaving as evidence of flight their three empty beds!
Here they proposed to wait till, the hue-and-cry after them having
ceased, and the prison doors having been opened for the removal of the
other officers, they could slink forth at their leisure. But the change
of prison did not come to pass as soon as expected. The empty beds told
their tale; the place was searched, the crouching creatures in their
burrow heard the tramp of armed men above them, voices in close
conference, and afterwards the departing footsteps of the discomfited
Boer detectives. It was decided that the prisoners were gone, and
further report, amplified by Kaffir imagination, declared that they were
already on their way to Mafeking! Still, though safe from discovery, the
plotters were far from comfortable. Food in very meagre quantities was
smuggled through the trap-door, till at last, famine being the mother of
resource, by a process of what they called "signalgrams," their wants
and intentions were conveyed to those above. Then when the appointed
raps gave notice of the opening of the mysterious portal, potted meats
and other luxuries were liberally passed down. And here, in this
ventilationless, miry hole, in darkness and dank-smelling atmosphere,
they groped a weary existence, daring neither to cough, nor sneeze, nor
whisper, lest discovery should rob them of success. They were
unwashed--so grimy as to be unrecognisable even to themselves--they were
cramped and covered with bruises, brought about by bumping their heads
against the dome of their low dwelling; they were often hungry and
sleepless, but they were buoyed up with a vast amount of hope and pluck.

Day after day sped on with unvarying monotony, and gradually hope began
to exude at the pores. Six days passed, and they thought patience had
come to the end of her tether. They longed to hold themselves upright,
to see daylight, to eat their quantum of food, and, above all, to hear
the sound of their own voices. But still they held on--longer, longer.
Every day they knew made their chance of escape more secure, for the
authorities in Pretoria, assured of their departure, had now ceased even
from the habitual nine days of wonderment regarding their fate. Then
they began to dig and burrow still further, this time with the
assistance of a bayonet and a skewer, and for days and days pursued
their silent, secret work, in hope to dig a channel some thirty feet
long to reach the hospital yard beyond the Model School. Meanwhile they
stored food in preparation for the great journey, and listened acutely
for news of the proposed transfer of the prisoners to other quarters. At
last they had their reward. A note was passed down to say that the
officers were to be removed on the morrow. Then all was excitement. The
curtain was drawing up on the play of which the prologue had promised so
much. The trap-door was carefully fastened down, false screws being put
into the screwholes so as to render the hiding-place as inconspicuous as

At last came the looked-for hour. Sounds of packing-up and the shuffling
passage of footsteps betokened activities. The commandant went his
rounds, and then a cheery voice was heard to say, "All's well.
Good-bye." They knew that was a signal--_the end had come_! So in time
the whole party of prisoners disappeared, and with them their
custodians! The coast was clear. Peeping forth from their ventilator the
joyous hidden trio could view the street, the moving of baggage, and all
the bustling preparations for a general exodus. Their rapture knew no
bounds. But escape was even then deferred. Sightseers and police tramped
through the vacated rooms all day, moving perilously near the trap-door,
and laughing and jesting, unsuspicious of the precious haul that might
have been theirs. It was late in the afternoon before the last visitors
departed. Then, after collecting maps of their proposed route, taking a
final meal, packing their meat lozenges, chocolate, &c., and money, they
dressed and waited anxiously for the kindly cloak of night....

Meanwhile the other prisoners were removed to a camp from which escape
was almost impossible. The place was enclosed with barbed wire fencing
standing as high as a man. It measured about one hundred and fifty yards
in length, and in width at the ends might have measured fifty yards.
From this pen it was possible to gaze out over the hills to see life
with the eye of Tantalus, so near and yet so far--men and women passing,
trees and houses and cattle, all giving pictures of the free life
without, that it was impossible for them to share. No efforts now to
evade the guard could be made, for the enclosure was dotted thickly with
electric lights, and was so thoroughly illuminated in every corner that
there was no spot where a man could not have read. The dwelling-house
was walled, and roofed with zinc, bare within and comfortless, and in
the dormitory one hundred and forty cots were ranged side by side. A few
screens, as in the Model School, were arranged at some of the bedheads,
but of privacy there was none. The exchange was a sorry one, and Captain
Haldane and his companions, Mr. Le Mesurier and Mr. Brockie, were wise
in making a vigorous bid to get clear of the fate that overtook their

       *       *       *       *       *

Already a whiff of coming liberty seemed to reward these conspirators
for their dark days of anticipation. Their meal and their preparations
completed, they reconnoitred and discovered that all was clear. Then,
joyously, the intending fugitives emerged from their terrible lair. With
some difficulty they stood upright, their limbs refused their office,
they felt old, rheumatic stricken, incapable of movement. But at last,
boots in hand, creeping, as the French say, on _pattes de velours_, they
dragged themselves to a broken window, and, passing through the gap made
by the shattered pane, gained the yard. Climbing over the
railings--luckily unnoticed in spite of the brilliant rays of the full
moon--they made for the nearest road leading to the Delagoa Bay Railway.
Fortunately for them young Brockie, who was a Colonial and up to the
"tricks of the trade," donned the Transvaal colours round his hat. Added
to this he wore his arm in a sling, to give the impression that he was a
wounded Boer. Thus they got through the somewhat deserted street to the
outskirts of the town unchallenged. Once a policeman almost spoke to
them, his suspicion was on the eve of being aroused, but the solitary
myrmidon of the law, inquisitive yet discreet, found himself face to
face with three desperate men whose expression was not reassuring! He
wisely slunk off. Towards the railway line they now went, experiencing a
series of hairbreadth 'scapes, for there were orders to shoot any one
seen wandering on the railway track. But they dodged in holes and round
corners, in rank grass and in ditches and dongas, traversing river and
spruit, and plodding along the highway, now losing their bearings, now
retracing their steps, ever striving to reach Elands River station,
twenty miles east of Pretoria.


(Drawing by J. Schönberg.)]

On the left of the railway line ran the river, and as they toiled
on--the silver of the stream and the glint of the railway lines
shimmering in the ray of the moon--they descried tents, heard voices,
and, worse still, a dog's bark, inquisitive, suspicious. Quickly to
earth they went, hiding and dodging in the long grass between river and
line. This, the critical moment of their journey, forms one of the most
exciting phases of Captain Haldane's altogether interesting narrative.

"After lying in the grass about twenty minutes, for we did not care to
move so long as the dogs remained on the alert, we heard voices coming
in our direction, and the barking of the dogs became more distinct. A
whispered conference was held, and then we dragged ourselves like snakes
diagonally back towards the river. Reaching a ditch, Le Mesurier, who
was following me, came alongside and asked me if I had seen Brockie, who
had been following him. I had not, so we waited a few moments; but
seeing nothing of him, and the enemy drawing near, we crossed the
obstacle, and found ourselves at the edge of the stream. Again we
paused, this time for several minutes, and the searchers came in view,
following our track.

"The crisis had come: to stay where we were meant probably recapture. I
whispered to Le Mesurier to follow me quietly, and not to splash. The
next minute I was in the river, which was out of my depth, and Le
Mesurier dropped in beside me. Holding on to the roots of the reeds
which lined the bank, we carefully pulled ourselves some distance
down-stream, and then paused. The searchers and their dogs were
evidently now at fault, and showed no signs of coming our way, so we
continued our downward course, and ultimately swam across and into a
ditch on the other side.

"We had been a good half-hour in the stream, which seemed to us
intensely cold, and our teeth were chattering so that we could scarcely
speak. My wrist-watch had stopped; but Le Mesurier's, a Waterbury, was
still going, for it had been provided by his care with a waterproof
case. We now crept along the ditch up-stream again, and then turned off
towards the hillside, which was dotted with large boulders. Coming round
the corner of one of these, we found a tent in front of us, and not
caring to pass it, we tried to climb up the steep face of the hill.
Failing at one point, we found a kind of "chimney," up which we climbed,
pulling and pushing each other till the top was gained. A few minutes'
rest was necessary, for our clothes were heavy with water and the climb
had made us breathless. Le Mesurier had done wonders with his ankle--the
cold water had been most efficacious. Next we walked along the rocky
face of the hill, parallel to the direction we had followed below, and
gradually descended to the level and struck a path. Brockie was
irretrievably lost, and it was useless to attempt to find him. He had
with him a water-bottle and sufficient food, and knew both the Dutch and
the Kaffir languages. Following the path, we passed several clumps of
bracken, one of which we selected as a suitable hiding-place. To have
walked farther in our wet and clinging garments might have been wiser,
but we decided that we had had sufficient excitement for one night
without trying to add to it."

So there they remained--wet, frigid, excited, aching--all through the
long sleepless hours, with nothing to vary the monotony save the nip of
the musquitoes. When morning came, their jaded limbs, like the joints of
wooden dolls, almost threatened to creak; and only with the warmth of
sunrise did they regain some of their pristine elasticity. For food they
now became anxious; their supplies were waterlogged, their chocolate was
a thirst-creating mash, and their precious whisky bottle in the course
of recent adventures had lost cork and contents. A miserable day passed
hiding in a swamp, and crouching out of the light of day till again at
night, and in a thunder-storm, they thought it advisable to resume their
journey. Then, by the mercy of Providence, footsore, throatsore,
heartsore, and hungry they came on a field of water melons. Though
ravenously they took their fill, their joy was not of long duration. The
inevitable bark of the Boer dog warned them to be off. After this they
again lost their bearings, making needless detours, and only reaching
Elands River station--worn, weary, and down-hearted--before daybreak.
Then making their way to some gum trees that offered welcome shelter,
they again sought to sleep, but it was not to be. Imagination had made
molehills into mountains and footsteps into cracks of doom. A Dutch
youth passed by, his dog growled and sniffed; discovery seemed imminent,
but the hand of fate intervened, they remained safe. Two nights, three
nights were passed on the veldt in anticipation of a train that might be
on its way to Balmoral. Their sufferings, their anxieties, and risks
make many a tale with a tale. Hiding continued during the day, now in an
antbear hole, now among grasses sodden with dew, the fugitives, from
caution, fatigue, and other causes, covering to that time only
thirty-six miles in four days. Finally, to make a long story short, the
unhappy wayfarers, their spirits and constitutions at the lowest ebb,
were led by the kindness of a Kaffir into the safe keeping of a British
subject, the manager of the Douglas Colliery Store, who then nourished
them and helped them to repair the terrible havoc wrought by the past
days of anxiety and starvation, and assisted them to make plans for
getting over the border. Here, newly arrayed in decent clothing, washed
and trimmed--for they had originally presented the effect of veritable
scarecrows--they began to regain energy and hope. They were then
initiated in the first moves of a scheme to carry them to safety. With
the assistance of Dr. Gillespie, the doctor of the miners--a "rare guid"
fellow from all accounts--they got, on the 24th of March, to the
Transvaal Delagoa Bay Colliery; and here for some days following a
conspiracy was set on foot to buy some bales of wool, sufficient to
make a truck load, and forward the bales, plus the escaped prisoners, to
a firm at Lorenço Marques. The scheme succeeded, though only after some
smart and sympathetic manoeuvring on the part of the newly found
British friends, and many hours of terrible risk and suspense. Finally,
to the intense joy of the two adventurous ones, they found themselves on
Portuguese territory. On Sunday the 1st of April they were free men!
From that time their ways were fairly smooth. They were the heroes of
the hour, for every one had heard of their story and was expecting them,
Sergeant Brockie having preceded them after some equally exciting

On the 6th of April the gallant pair left Lorenço Marques for Durban,
Captain Aylmer Haldane hastening to rejoin his regiment, the 2nd
Battalion Gordon Highlanders, at Ladysmith, and Mr. Le Mesurier (Dublin
Fusiliers) going round to join General Hunter's Division in the Free
State. Thus the two enterprising officers, after enduring almost
unequalled tortures of body and mind, found themselves free to return to
duty and fight again for the honour and glory of the Empire.


Bloemfontein meanwhile was a strange mixture of pastoral simplicity and
martial magnificence, and curious, almost wonderful, was the view from a
distance of the landscape in the vicinity. The whole earth, as though
blossoming, seemed to have thrown up mushrooms far and wide--mushrooms
grey, and white, and green. Dotted among them were strange forms, like
the shapes of antediluvian reptiles--grasshoppers, locusts of mammoth
size. Coming nearer the town it was possible to recognise both mushrooms
and reptiles for what they really were, namely, the tents and the guns
of the largest army that England has put into one camp since the Crimea!
In and out and round about wandered horses and mules innumerable, so
numberless, indeed, that the casual onlooker wondered at the outcry for
equine reinforcements. Yet these were urgently needed, and none but
those "in the know" could comprehend how much the strategical problem
relied for solution on their arrival, and how paralysed were the
movements of the generals for want of them. Some people opined that the
Commander-in-chief would start off for Pretoria at express speed, others
hinted that his plan of campaign would be altered to meet the
complications that had arisen owing to the renewed activity of the Boers
in the south-eastern corner of the Free State. But Lord Roberts was
unmoved by either impatience or disaster. He evidently determined to
fritter his resources on no operations that could not be concerted and
rapidly effective.


Photo by Bassano, London]

Meanwhile stores, ammunition, warm clothing (for the wintry weather was
setting in), and boots were being brought in enormous quantities from
the Cape. The wardrobes of the hard-fighting multitude were in sad need
of repair, and some wag declared that certain tatterdemalions could only
venture abroad after dark, for fear of shocking the Mother Grundys of
Bloemfontein. Horses, too, were being gradually collected, for it was
felt that until there was a sufficiency of remounts, General French's
dashing evolutions would be too costly to be appreciable. The great
gallop to Kimberley had cost an immense amount in horse-flesh--about
1500 out of 5000, some said--and, in consequence, the splendid cavalry
was again reduced to impotence, just when the Boers, though demoralised
by the surrender of Cronje, might have been pursued and punished as they
deserved. According to later computation, it was decided that the army
must wear out at the rate of 5000 horses a month, and therefore no move
could be set on foot till the incoming supply was organised to meet the

But for the state of horses and men the Field-Marshal could have stuck
to his well-known principle, one acquired from the great Napoleon
himself, namely, that a commander-in-chief should never give rest either
to the victor or to the vanquished. As it was, he was stuck fast, and
the Boers were not slow to take advantage of the opportunity thus given
them to recuperate.

Up to the time of the Koorn Spruit and Reddersburg disasters things
seemed to be ranging themselves satisfactorily, but little by little the
authorities began to discover that the entire attitude of the apparently
pacified burghers was decidedly false. By degrees they learnt that,
instead of disturbing a hornet's nest and clearing it, they had, as it
were, got into the midst of it themselves. It became evident that within
the town there existed a conspiracy for the purpose not only of
supplying the enemy with information, but keeping him ready equipped for
hostility. Under the mask of neutrality, certain Germans and others
incited the burghers who had laid down their arms to take them up again.
This, in the true sense of the word, for it was found that upwards of
some 3000 weapons had been buried for use in emergency. But once General
Pretyman obtained a true grasp of the situation, and could prove the
duplicit nature of the persons with whom he had to deal, the work of
weeding and deportation of the obnoxious element of Bloemfontein society
was taken in hand.

Early in the month a prominent figure was removed from the fighting
scene. The death was announced of Colonel the Hon. G. H. Gough[3] at
Norval's Pont. This distinguished officer till the time of his death
had been acting as Assistant Adjutant-General to General French's
Cavalry Division. His services had been many and brilliant, and his loss
was deeply deplored.

The occupation of pacifying the disturbed western districts continued.
General Settle and his forces had been operating between De Aar,
Prieska, Kenhardt, and Upington, and General Parsons had occupied
Kenhardt, and in a few days all traces of rebellion in the district
between Van Wyks Vlei and Kenhardt had disappeared. As a matter of fact,
it was discovered that many of the rebels were ignorant of why they were
fighting at all. Some one addressed them and said, "What are you
fighting for?" and they answered, "Equal rights for all white men in
South Africa." "Then," said the speaker, "go and fight Paul Kruger. He
alone refuses white men equal rights!" Still more ignorant were many of
the subsidised sympathisers, while other foreigners who were forced to
fight were evidently apathetic regarding the issue of the struggle. The
following story was told of a Pole, who was not sorry when taken
prisoner. When asked why he fought, he said, "Vat could I do? Dey give
me musket and bandolier, and say, 'You must fight.' The captain say to
me, 'You take that mountain,' and I ask, 'Vare shall I take it?'" If the
tale was not absolutely accurate, it was still typical of the
nonchalance of many who were engaged in the Transvaal cause.

Of changes there were many. On the 10th, it was announced in general
orders that Major-General Sir H. Chermside had been appointed to the
command of the Third Division _vice_ Lieutenant-General Sir W. F.
Gatacre "ordered to England." There was a good deal of sympathy
expressed by all who knew the difficulties with which General Gatacre
had had to contend. But, as an old campaigner remarked, luck counts for
as much as merit in actual warfare. "Give me a man who is lucky, and I
ask nothing more." Luck was at the bottom of it all, and luck is
all-important where multitudes of men have to follow, heart in hand,
blindly rushing to glory in the footsteps of faith. General Gatacre's
name now spelt disaster, and as men had to be marched to ticklish work
that wanted nerve and confidence of the best, a luckier commander was
chosen. Accordingly, a much-tried officer--a soldier to the marrow--was
sacrificed on the altar of necessity.

An Infantry Division from the Natal side was formed under the command of
Sir Archibald Hunter, and called the Tenth Division, while the Eleventh
Division was commanded by General Pole-Carew. General Ian Hamilton
commanded a division of mounted infantry, ten thousand strong, formed of
South African and other mounted Colonial contingents, and divided into
two brigades under Generals Hutton and Ridley. As this division came in
for a considerable amount of exercise in course of Lord Roberts's great
advance, it is particularly interesting to examine and remember its
component parts.

General Hutton's brigade comprised the Canadians, the New Zealanders,
and all the Australians except the cavalry. The staff was as follows:--

     Colonel Martyr, Chief Staff Officer; Lord Rosmead,
     Aide-de-Camp; Colonel Hoad (Victoria), Assistant
     Adjutant-General; Major Bridges (New South Wales), Deputy
     Assistant Adjutant-General; Major Cartwright (Canada), Deputy
     Assistant Adjutant-General; Colonel Gordon (Adelaide), officer
     on the line of communication; Major Rankin (Queensland), Staff
     Officer; Major Vandeleur (Scots Guards), advanced base
     transport officer; Captain Lex, Army Service Corps, supply

The brigade consisted of four corps of mounted infantry, under Colonels
Alderson, De Lisle, Pilcher, and Henry.

The first corps consisted of a 1st Battalion of Canadians, under Colonel
Lessard; a 2nd Battalion, under Colonel Herchmer; and Strathcona's
Horse, under Colonel Steel.

The second corps consisted of the New South Wales Mounted Infantry,
under Colonel Knight, and the West Australians, under Captain Moor.

The third corps was formed of the Queenslanders, under Colonel Ricardo,
and the New Zealanders, under Major Robin.

The fourth corps consisted of the Victorians, under Colonel Price; the
South Australians, under Captain Reade; and the Tasmanians, under
Captain Cameron.

Each corps had a battalion of Imperial Mounted Infantry attached to it,
except the New South Wales Corps. A battery joined the division, as well
as the Canadian Battery and a number of Vickers-Maxims. The New South
Wales Army Medical Corps, under Colonel Williams, were the medical
troops of the division.

General Ridley's brigade consisted entirely of South African troops.

Lord Roberts, always appreciative of the Colonials, ordered the body of
Colonel Umphelby of the Victorian Contingent, who was killed at
Driefontein, to be removed to Bloemfontein, there to be buried with
honours appropriate to the distinction of that gallant officer's

Rearrangements of all kinds were taking place, the better to meet the
peculiarities of the situation. Sir Redvers Buller was asked to
co-operate by forcing Van Reenen's Pass, and threatening the enemy's
line of retreat; but the task was one bristling with difficulties, as
until Northern Natal should be cleared of the enemy he considered it
unsafe to move westward. Accordingly, to meet the necessity for strong
action in the east of the Free State, it was decided the Natal Field
Army should continue its work in its own ground, minus the Tenth
Division (Hunter's), which should be moved by sea to East London, one
brigade (Barton's) to replace the Eighth Division (Rundle's), diverted
from Kimberley to Springfontein, and one brigade (Hart's) to operate in
the neighbourhood of Bethulie. It must here be noted that the country
south of a line drawn from Kimberley to Bloemfontein seemed to be almost
under control, but the pacification of the angle south-east of
Bloemfontein had, as yet, to be accomplished.

Meanwhile, President Kruger made a tour of the positions of his army, in
order to stimulate the Free Staters to further efforts; but very many of
these began to show symptoms of unbelief, and refused any longer to
swallow the assertions that Russia had taken London and that America was
coming to the aid of the Boers, which the President and other kinsmen of
Ananias in the Transvaal took the trouble to repeat. Daily, various Free
Staters surrendered--some of them genuinely, while others merely gave up
an old rifle for convenience' sake, burying some four others for use in
emergency--took to their farms, and there developed from fine
fighting-men into mean and despicable spies. With these slippery fish it
was difficult to cope, and the problem of how to manage them took some
little time to solve. Still, the task of remodelling and improving the
army continued, all working to bring the long halt to a conclusion as
speedily as possible.

Efforts wonderful and successful were made to increase the mobility,
particularly of the mounted portions of the troops. One section of the
Vickers-Maxim guns (1-inch guns) was attached to each cavalry brigade,
and two sections to each brigade of mounted infantry. To add to the
mobility of the horse artillery the waggons of each battery were reduced
to three, spare teams being allowed for each gun.

The Eighth Division (Rundle) which, as we know, had been diverted from
Kimberley to Springfontein, and the Third Division (Gatacre's, now
Chermside's) which was concentrated at Bethanie, were fulfilling a
part of Lord Roberts's scheme for sweeping the right-hand bottom corner
of the Free State clear of the enemy. Assisting them was General Hart,
with a brigade of Hunter's Division, and engaged also in the operation
were the mounted infantry, under General Brabazon, and part of the
Colonial Brigade under General Brabant. Another part of this Brigade,
which had moved towards Wepener at the beginning of the month, had there
been blockaded by the enemy, and though their position was not regarded
as serious, Lord Roberts was forming plans for a general converging
movement which would have the effect of routing the Boers from the end
of the Free State altogether.

Energetic measures of every kind were adopted for the control of the
Free State. General Pretyman, who had been appointed Military Governor
of Bloemfontein, developed a scheme for the protection of those who had
taken the oaths of submission, and who were hourly in dread of the
reprisals of the Boers. Though some of the Free Staters for long had
been entirely sick of the war, and were only forced into fighting in
fear of ill-treatment by the Boers, others, as we are aware, had merely
hidden their arms in the determination to take up fighting whenever a
good chance offered. In order to secure the interests of the pacific,
and keep an eye on the treacherous, General Pretyman began to organise a
corps of Mounted Police for service in the Free State, at the same time
dividing the conquered radius into sections. Each section was to be
administered by a Commissioner chosen for his experience in Colonial
matters. Colonel Girouard, R.E., also formed a railway corps, employing
some ten volunteers from each regiment to help in the enormous
operations now being set on foot. A change was also made in the postage
stamp of the country. The existing issues of stamps of President Steyn's
Republic were marked V.R.I. in black ink, and also with figures denoting
their value as recognised by the Imperial Government. The threepenny
stamps were marked with the nominal value of 2½d., to agree with the
twenty-five centimes of the Postal Union. Naturally the philatelists
were all on the alert, and stamps as well as trophies were fetching
absurd prices in the town.

Of recreation there was also a little. On the 18th of April a somewhat
original concert was organised by the war correspondents, on behalf of
the Widows' and Orphans' Funds of London and Bloemfontein. The
originality of the scheme and the interest thereof lay in the fact that
conquerors and conquered met together on the common ground of charity,
and mutually contributed to make the undertaking a success. £300 were
realised. Mr. Rudyard Kipling put forth his quota. He did honour to the
Colonials in verse, and this ditty, to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne," was
sung by Miss Fraser, the daughter of Mr. Steyn's former opponent for
the Presidency. Among the marketables were portraits of Lord Roberts and
Mr. Kruger. These were the work of some of the artist journalists.
"Bobs" was "knocked down" for a big figure, and became the property of
Lord Stanley, a valuable trophy that may well become an historical
heirloom. This concert was only one of the many efforts at harmony made
by Lord Roberts, who, as diplomatist and statesman as much as soldier
and conqueror, foresaw a future wherein the people of the Free State,
originally actuated by no animosity towards the British, would become
reconciled to the beneficent rule of the British Empire, as contrasting
with the despotic rule of the Boer Republics, and live side by side with
us in the true spirit of liberty, fraternity, and equality enjoyed by
British subjects.


Against the misfortunes of Koorn Spruit and Reddersburg we would place
one brilliant victory--a victory gained by Lord Methuen at Boshof,
mainly through the smartness, bravery, and unspeakable steadiness of the
Imperial Yeomanry, who were under fire for the first time, and the
splendid dash of the Kimberley Corps, whose experiences during the siege
had lifted them almost to the rank of veterans.

It may be remembered that Lord Methuen at the end of February took up
the post of Administrator of the Kimberley district, which extends as
far south as the Orange River, subsequently leaving Colonel Kekewich in
command of the local forces. The General commenced active operations on
the western frontier, for the purpose of clearing the country of
rebellious obstructions, and protecting the lines of communication with
the north.

At Boshof there was concentrated a comparatively large army, composed of
two batteries of artillery, about 6000 infantry, and 1000 mounted
infantry, which were massing together to march to Kroonstadt, where they
expected eventually to take their place as the left wing of the main
army. The town itself presented a desolate aspect, all the Dutchmen
being absent on commando under Commandant Duplessis, and being in force
on the Vaal River, some miles distant.

Lord Methuen hearing that a detachment of the enemy was moving along the
Jacobsdal road, and threatening his communications, ordered Colonel
Peakman to effect its capture. As a result of this order a most
successful fight took place, some five miles east of Boshof, on the 5th
of April.

Taking part in the action were two companies of the Bucks Yeomanry, one
of the Berks Yeomanry, one of the Oxford Yeomanry, one company of the
Sherwood Rangers, one of the Yorkshire Yeomanry, and also the Kimberley
Mounted Volunteers. With these was the Fourth Battery R.F.A.

[Illustration: TYPES OF ARMS.--12-lb. Field Gun of the Elswick
(Northumberland Service) Battery. By permission of Messrs. Armstrong,
Whitworth & Co., the makers.]

The Imperial Yeomanry under Lord Chesham on this occasion had their
first chance of distinguishing themselves and seized it, behaving, as
some one who looked on said, "like veteran troops." The affair began in
haste. A Yeomanry patrol suddenly discovered the enemy and announced his
near approach. There was a rush. "To horse! to horse!" sang out the
troopers keen for action. Their steeds were grazing, but in less than
thirty minutes every man was careering off to duty. The Boers, some
sixty-eight in number, were tenanting a kopje, and round their lair the
troops disposed themselves, Lord Scarborough's Squadron of Yeomanry to
left, and the Kimberley Mounted Corps to right. The rest of the Yeomanry
attacked from the front, occupying two small kopjes some fourteen
hundred yards distant from the enemy. These promptly greeted them with a
persistent fusillade. Then the right flank slowly began to creep up,
taking advantage of cover as nature had provided, while the front
marched across the open. This advance of the troops was masterly, though
no cover was available till the base of the kopje occupied by the enemy
was reached. Method and coolness were displayed to a great extent, and
to these qualities was due the day's success. For three and a half hours
the operations lasted, the men closing gradually in, and finally
surrounding the kopje and storming it. The surrounding process, both by
the Yeomanry and the Kimberley force, was carried on with amazing skill
and coolness till the moment came for which all were panting. The
Yeomanry then fixed bayonets and charged. A rush, a flash of steel, and
then--surrender. The Boers hoisted a white flag! but even as they did so
their comrades poured deadly bullets on our advancing men. Captain
Williams of the "Imperials," who was gallantly in advance of his
comrades, dropped, shot dead in the very hour of victory. There was
small consolation in the fact that the murderer was instantly slain by
an avenging hand.

At this time the men had gained the hill and were within seventy yards
of the Boer trenches. But the Boers, notwithstanding their display of
the white flag, continued to blaze with their rifles till a Yeomanry
officer shouted that he would continue to fire unless the enemy threw
down their rifles and put up their hands. This threat brought the
cowards to their senses. They obeyed, and the position was gained with a
rousing, ringing cheer. Then came the sad part of triumph, the
collection of the gallant dead and the succour of the wounded. Among the
first were three, Captains Williams and Boyle, and Sergeant Patrick
Campbell. The enemy's dead and wounded numbered fourteen, while our
wounded numbered seven.

Captain Cecil Boyle was shot through the temple within eighty yards of
the Boer position while gallantly leading his men. He was a soldier to
the core, one who, merely from a sense of patriotic responsibility, was
among the first to leap to his country's call, and who threw into his
work so much energy, zeal, and grave purpose that the atmosphere of the
camp made him feel at the end of a week as if, to use his own words, "I
had done nothing but soldiering all my life." He, at the invitation of
his old chum, Colonel Douglas Haig, began work at Colesberg "to watch
the cavalry operations." There he had what he thought the supreme good
luck to be appointed galloper to General French. After the relief of
Kimberley and the capture of Cronje he went to the Cape to meet the
Oxfordshire Yeomanry, and with them gallantly advanced to meet his
fate--the first Yeomanry officer in this history of ours to fall in

[Illustration: COLONEL LORD CHESHAM, Imperial Yeomanry

Photo by Russell & Sons, London]

At the close of the fight the clouds which had been lowering over the
position like a pall of purple suddenly burst. Torrents descended,
saturating the heated troops and sopping the ground whereon lay the
maimed and slain. With thunder bellowing and lightning splitting the
skies, with an accompaniment of deluge and darkness, the troops and
their prisoners found their way to camp. Under cover of the
obscurity some of the latter made a wild endeavour to escape, but the
Yeomanry were too proud of their "bag" to allow a single one to get
free, and finally had the satisfaction of seeing their bedraggled prize
lodged in jail.

Lord Methuen commanded, and expressed himself much gratified with the
success of the operations, with the courage and coolness and method with
which all his orders were carried out. Colonel Peakman, of Kimberley
fame, who had already accomplished a quite unusual record of fighting,
displayed an immense amount of talent in the field, and his corps, in
every way worthy of him, cut off the enemy's retreat with remarkable
skill. So much indeed, that the Boers complained of the slimness of the
troops who, by apparently retiring hurriedly, drew them within range of
the British volleys! Our troops were pitting themselves now against no
unruly or uninitiated barbarians, for the hostile force was under the
command of the notable Frenchman, Colonel de Villebois-Mareuil. This
gallant officer was killed by shrapnel from the 4th Field Battery Royal
Field Artillery before the display of the white flag by the Boers. He
was accompanied by many of his compatriots, who were taken prisoners.
The force indeed was mainly cosmopolitan, it being composed of
Hollanders, Frenchmen, Germans, and Russians, three Boers only belonging
to the commando. Not a man of the enemy escaped. Eight were killed, six
wounded, and fifty-four polyglot prisoners, with sixty horses and their
baggage, were brought into camp. Two guns were also captured.

The courage and dash of the Imperial Yeomanry was eulogised on all
sides, even by the Colonials, who hitherto had been somewhat disposed to
look down on their brother Volunteers from civilised and inexperienced
England. The magnificent spirit which inspired one and all, the grit
displayed by the wounded, and their self-abnegation were the subject of
much comment. A Colonial trooper, writing home his applause, said:
"Where all behaved so well it is almost invidious to mention any one in
particular, but as an instance of the fine spirit which animated them, I
would mention two whose names I have ascertained, Sergeant-Major Coles,
of the Bucks Yeomanry, and Throgmorton, a trooper in the Oxfords. These
two continued in action after being wounded, the former with a bullet
through the shoulder, and the latter with a gunshot wound in the head,
and sooner than crowd the ambulance they rode in afterwards, twelve
miles in the darkness, through one of the worst thunder-storms it has
been my lot to witness. What they must have suffered in the state they
were in they alone know."

From all accounts the French colonel who fell was entirely confident of
success. Before the engagements he sent an invitation to his compatriots
to join his force. He thought he had discovered the flaws in the Boer
armour, and was bent on giving the Federals an object lesson in how to
defeat and scatter the British. He also issued a manifesto addressed to
the French legions, the translation of which ran thus:--

     "To the Legionaries, who have known me as their
     comrade.--Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Men,--I know
     that you have not forgotten me, and we understand each other,
     and therefore I appeal to you. There is here in front of the
     Vaal a people whom it is desired to rob of its rights, its
     properties, and its liberty in order to satisfy some
     capitalists by its downfall. The blood that runs in the veins
     of this people is in part French blood. France, therefore, owes
     to it some striking manifestation of help. Ah, well! You are
     the men whom a soldier's temperament, apart from all the great
     obligations of nationality, has gathered under this people's
     flag, and may that flag bring with it the best of fortune! To
     me you are the finished type of a troop that attacks and knows
     not retreat."

He also wrote to the Parisians:--

     "The Dutch are splendid at defence, but they cannot follow up a
     defeat and crush the enemy, which the French legionaries would
     be able to do.... Come and I will receive you here; and I
     promise you that very few days shall elapse before we will show
     the world the mettle of which the French legionaries are made."

The display to unprejudiced onlookers was distinctly poor, however, and
the example of strategy set by the gallant Gaul scarcely served to
demonstrate astounding military genius.

The Colonel's plan of campaign was nevertheless most carefully made out,
as a document which subsequently fell into Lord Methuen's hands served
to show. Very dramatic sounds the orders for the movements on April 4,
as translated by the correspondent of the _Daily Telegraph_:--

     "To-night the detachment of the raid will attack Boshof and
     follow its route, under the favour of a surprise and the
     prevailing darkness. For this purpose, the following
     dispositions will be observed: The column will set off at four
     o'clock in the afternoon, with the detachment of Boers under
     Field-Cornet Daniell, in such a manner as just to reach Boshof
     by night. At a certain point the detachment will divide, and
     will reach their respective places of assembly to the east and
     west of the town. Boshof is situated in a plain, and is flanked
     by certain kopjes, of which the importance and distance from
     the town are reported as follows: to the north, two naked
     kopjes, weakly guarded, and a good distance from the town.
     Between them passes the Hoopstadt-Boshof road. To the east, on
     the road to Kimberley, which it commands, one kopje, which is
     not guarded by the enemy. Upon this the Boers will take up
     their position. Finally, to the south-east of the town, and
     exactly opposite to it, there is a kopje, where the English
     have an outpost of fifty men. On the summit of this is formed a
     small parapet of stones, about half the height of a man. This
     will form part of the attack reserved for the detachment of the

     "The Hoopstadt and Kimberley roads cross in the interior of the

     "The plan of attack will be carried out under the following
     conditions: At eleven o'clock in the evening, the Boers under
     Field-Cornet Daniell will be in position on the Kopje C, and
     the telegraph wire on the Kimberley road will be cut by them.
     At the same time, the raiding party will assemble behind the
     Kopje E, situated two kilometres from the town. The horses and
     the Scotch cart will there await the final operations, as well
     as the native servants, if there are any. One man will be left
     behind with each team of six horses. Commandant Saeremburg and
     Lieutenant de Breda will, before the departure, choose these
     men, the importance of whose mission will be readily
     understood, since upon their vigilance will depend the safety
     of the expedition in the event of retreat. The group left
     behind will be under the orders of Nicollet. The men will
     remain standing at the head of the horses, which will be
     saddled and bridled, the cart boys at the head of the mules,
     all ready harnessed.

     "At half-past eleven, the attacking party will march in three
     échelons, twenty mètres apart, the centre in the van. The
     centre échelon, under the special direction of the General,
     will be formed by the French platoon. The centre échelon,
     commanded by Commandant Saeremburg, will consist of one-half of
     the Dutch, and the left, under Lieutenant Bock, of the other
     half. Furthermore, the men who have been in the habit of
     messing together in groups will appoint a leader, from whom
     they will on no account separate nor get out of touch. When
     these groups do not exist, or exceed ten in number, the leaders
     of the party will break them up and form parties of six or
     eight, and appoint a head of the group. The General will see
     these heads of groups at three o'clock in his camp, to give
     them instructions further than can be detailed here.

     "In the approaching march the commandants will give their
     orders in a low voice, and the men will be ranged in line, so
     that they can see the heads of groups and lie down instantly.
     It is of importance, also, to watch the investigations of the
     search-light, if the English have one at Boshof, which has not
     yet been ascertained. The moment the ray is turned towards the
     échelon, the leader will make his group lie down, and the march
     will not be resumed until the light is turned away. At the rise
     of Kopje D, a halt will be made behind the cemetery, and the
     Saeremburg échelon will carry the kopje by assault and will
     occupy it. From there it will hold ... the two kraals Z Z,
     where the English encamped in the market-place in Boshof itself
     could make the first attempt at resistance. In no case, for an
     easily understood reason, will it fire upon the town. Firing,
     moreover, can only be carried out by volleys discharged by word
     of command given by the head of each group.

     "Continuing their march, the two other échelons will pass a
     well behind the kraals, and will attack the English camp
     outside the town. In this effect, the French échelon, after
     firing two volleys, will advance at the charge, with the cry,
     'Transvaal and Free State!' and will thus complete the panic.
     As there are no bayonets, the rifles will be kept loaded and
     carried under the arms at the position of the charge. After
     having crossed the camp from the east to the south, the rout
     will be accomplished by firing. Lieutenant Bock's échelon will
     remain under the orders of the General, as a reserve, should
     the Boers placed on the Kimberley road on the Kopje C have to
     deal with the fugitives. He could also render assistance, if
     the enemy issuing from Boshof should endeavour to turn the
     attack. He would then be informed of this eventuality by
     Field-Cornet Coleman, who will cover the left of the attack in
     such a manner as to observe all that may be menaced. For this
     purpose, the Afrikanders will conform to the general movement
     of the march of approach, and retire as soon as the attack
     begins on the west of the English camp to a distance suitable
     for observation.

     "To facilitate recognition the brim of the hats will be covered
     with a white handkerchief.

     "The meagreness of our information does not permit of even an
     approximate estimate of the English force. The forces in Boshof
     seem, however, to be between 300 and 400 men. Whatever happens,
     the assailants should remember that their moral superiority is
     overwhelming, and even in the event of retreat, they can
     easily, covered by the darkness, regain their horses and retire
     from Boshof without risk."

In view of these magnificent preliminaries, one may look without vanity
at the celerity and completeness of the British operations which were
rewarded with victory. The Frenchman's _programme_ makes a quaint
contrast to the terse description of a quartermaster-sergeant of the
Imperial Yeomanry, who thus sketched the events of the 5th of April:--

     "We received orders to turn out as soon as possible; we were
     soon all bustle, caught and saddled our horses, and off we went
     post-haste. One of our patrols had been shot in the night by a
     foraging party of Boers. We trotted off for about two hours,
     and then caught them out-spanned at the bottom of a kopje. We
     dismounted and got on some more kopjes close by and began
     exchanging shots. Then we mounted again, and half of us went
     round to their right and half to the left to cut off their
     retreat; and our artillery, of which three guns had followed
     us, began to shell them in front. When we had got well round
     them we dismounted again and advanced to the attack, taking
     cover. Then, after a few volleys, ran up about twenty yards;
     then a few more volleys, and up again until we were within
     about a hundred and fifty yards, when we made a rush for it
     with fixed bayonets. About seventy yards from the top there was
     a large wire fence. We had to clamber through, and then, when
     we were about fifty yards away, they came out and surrendered.
     There were thirteen of them killed, and we had fifty-four
     prisoners, amongst them General de Villebois-Mareuil and four
     or five more Frenchmen. They had a cart with them full of
     ammunition and dynamite, so they were evidently on some foray
     to blow some bridge or other up. They were stationed on two
     kopjes. The one our own lot went against was on the right. Most
     of their bullets fell short whilst we were advancing, and when
     we made our final rush they went over us. About twenty of them
     escaped before we reached them. It was about five o'clock when
     the fight was over, and we commenced a twelve-mile march to
     camp about 5.45. After going about two miles it came on dark,
     and we had a very heavy thunder-storm all the way to camp,
     which we reached about ten o'clock last night, wet to the

The blow so deftly and quickly struck at the marauding parties of the
Boers was valuable from many points of view. It served to restore
confidence in Lord Methuen's leadership--confidence which had been
considerably shattered by the disaster of Majersfontein--and it helped
to suppress a tendency to raiding in the west of Cape Colony. So
complete a success could not but have a sobering effect on the rebels,
and give them pause in their mad career of hostility.

On the 7th of April, at dawn, Lord Methuen marched ten miles on the
Hoopstadt Road to Zwartkopjesfontein Farm without opposition. On the 8th
he proceeded further, but finally, by Lord Roberts's orders, retraced
his steps to Zwartkopjes. On the 10th, at daybreak, two flying columns
started forth--General Douglas to south-east and east of the camp,
Colonel Mahon (commanding Kimberley Mounted Corps) from Boshof towards
Kimberley. Colonel Mahon's movements, on which the relief of Mafeking
was depending, must be taken in detail later on. Lord Methuen operated
in this district till the 17th of May, when he moved to Hoopstadt and
brought his force within the zone of the main operations. On the 21st he
proceeded to Kroonstadt.

In the Kimberley district the First Division had been rearranged as

     Lieutenant-General Lord Methuen. 9th Brigade (Major-General C.
     W. H. Douglas).--1st Northumberland Fusiliers, 1st Loyal North
     Lancashire, 2nd Northamptonshire, 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry.
     20th Brigade (Major-General A. H. Paget).--Composed of Militia
     Battalions, 4th, 20th, and 44th Field Batteries; 37th Howitzer
     Battery. Brigade Imperial Yeomanry (Colonel Lord Chesham).--1st
     Battalion, 3rd Battalion, 5th Battalion, 10th Battalion. Cape
     Police, Diamond Fields Horse, Part Kimberley Light Horse,
     Diamond Fields Artillery.


[1] From "The Handy Man, and other Verses" (Grant Richards).

[2] The Rev. J. Godfrey.

[3] Colonel the Hon. George Hugh Gough commenced his military career in
1871, when he took a commission as cornet in the 14th Hussars, of which
he held the adjutancy for nearly four years until 1879, when he was
promoted captain. In 1882 he obtained the brevet rank of major, and in
1885 he was promoted major and brevet lieutenant-colonel, and four years
later he obtained his colonelcy. Colonel Gough passed through the Staff
College in 1883, after serving as A.D.C. to the Lieutenant-General
commanding the expeditionary force in Egypt in 1882. Among his staff
appointments was that of private secretary to the Commander-in-chief
(Lord Wolseley), which he attained in 1897, and again in 1898, after
holding the post of assistant military secretary at the head-quarters of
the army. Colonel Gough's war services included the Boer War of 1881,
when he was aide-de-camp to the officer commanding the base and the
lines of communication; the Egyptian campaign of 1882; and the Soudan
Expedition of 1884-85. In the former his horse was killed under him at
Tel-el-Kebir, and he was mentioned in despatches. He received the order
of the Mejidieh (4th class), the bronze star, and the medal with clasp.
In the Soudan Expedition, where he was in command of the Mounted
Infantry, Colonel Gough was again mentioned in despatches, greatly
distinguishing himself at the battle of Abu Klea, where he was wounded.



On the first Sunday in April Lieutenant Hanbury Tracy, with two waggons,
was sent to bring in the dead, after the unsuccessful but gallant effort
made by Colonel Plumer to enter the town on the 31st of March. As has
been said, Commandant Snyman's report of the number of slain was greatly
exaggerated, and the wounded he would not give up. Captain Crewe, who
had died of his injuries, was buried in the melancholy little cemetery
at Mafeking, already a sad memorial of deeds of daring. Of Lieutenant
Milligan nothing definite was known, and it was believed that he was
among those who had been buried by the Boers. Captain Maclaren (13th
Hussars) was still in the hands of the enemy--a prisoner, and seriously,
if not mortally, wounded. The total casualties on Colonel Plumer's side
were said to be seventy-eight. Two officers and six men were killed,
three officers and thirty-six men were wounded, and one officer and
eleven men were taken prisoners.

On the 4th of April there was intense joy over the arrival of Lieutenant
Smitheman, who appeared at Mafeking carrying a despatch for Colonel
Baden-Powell from Colonel Plumer. His appearance was naturally a signal
for surprise and excitement, as every crumb of news from the outside
world was precious as pearls. Previous to this visit only one white
man--Reuter's cyclist--had succeeded in getting through the Boer lines.
Mr. Smitheman was well acquainted with the country, and had
distinguished himself as a scout in the Matabele campaign. His latest
exploit was full of moment, and there was no doubt that in thus
establishing a link with the garrison his visit would be fraught with
important results when the opportunity to attempt the relief of the
garrison should present itself. This smart officer had made his way into
the beleagured town piloted by a native diviner--a personage who claimed
by means of a rod to ascertain the whereabouts of Boers, as other
diviners have decided the presence of water. Whether Lieutenant
Smitheman owed his safe conduct to the acumen of the native or to the
dexterity of his own actions was much disputed, but the result was
eminently satisfactory.

Commandant Snyman having been absent for a day or two, the community
enjoyed temporary peace, but on the 6th the tyrant was back again, and
by way of good-morrow his gun "Creaky" blew up the office of Major Goold
Adams. On the 7th, Mr. Smitheman returned to Colonel Plumer, bearing
upon him much serviceable information. A party of native women
endeavoured to escape to Kanya, but were intercepted by the
enemy--stripped, sjamboked, and forced to return. There was also a smart
fight between the Boers and some Fingoes, who had gone on a
cattle-raiding expedition. These defended themselves valiantly for
twenty-five hours, but only one man was left to tell the tale. This man
succeeded in crawling to the shelter of some reeds, and thus escaped


The following correspondence now passed between Commandant Snyman and
Colonel Baden-Powell in reference to the former's alleged employment of
"barbarians" by the British in cattle-raiding expeditions:--

     "MARICO LAAGER, MOLOPO, _April 7_.

     "_To his Honour_ Colonel BADEN-POWELL, Mafeking.

     "Enclosed I beg to send to you a copy of a pass signed 'A. T.
     Mackenzie, Black Watch,' and dated April 4, which is a clear
     proof that Kaffirs are sent out, with your Honour's knowledge,
     naturally, as head officer, to plunder, rob, and murder. I am
     very sorry to see that tyranny carries away the good nature of
     so polite a nation as the English. They know that the
     barbarians have nothing else in view. Twenty Kaffirs were sent
     last week in a northerly direction by an English officer,
     according to the statement of a wounded native who was taught a
     lesson by one of my burghers. Thirty-two were sent on the 4th,
     according to a pass found in the pockets of one of the killed.
     They were all shot yesterday. I request you to be kind enough
     to fetch the bodies. Please send an ambulance under a Red Cross
     flag in the direction of Canton Kopje, and notify me
     immediately the waggons have left. I will send some of my
     burghers to point out the battle-field.--Your Honour's obedient

     "J. P. SNYMAN."

     "MAFEKING, _April 7_.

     "_To his Honour_ General SNYMAN.

     "Sir,--I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of to-day.
     In regard to the pass signed 'Mackenzie,' this man had no
     authority to issue a pass of any kind, much less for the
     purpose stated. I am obliged to you for bringing the case to my
     notice. As regards your Honour's statement that your burghers
     killed thirty-two natives, I beg to inform you that I know
     nothing whatever about these men. They were certainly not
     acting under orders received from myself, nor, so far as I am
     aware, from any of my officers. I would point out that there
     are a number of natives about the country in a destitute
     condition owing to their homes having been burnt and their
     cattle stolen by your burghers, and it is only too probable
     that they have taken the law into their own hands to endeavour
     to obtain food. Of this I have warned your honour before. For
     their acts I must decline to be held in any way responsible.--I
     have the honour to be your obedient servant,

     Colonel commanding H.M. troops in Mafeking."

On the 10th of April, in the dead of night, the enemy's field-guns were
moved to positions completely surrounding the town, and shells were
poured in with unparalleled persistency. Thirty dropped into the women's
laager--four into the hospital. Under cover of the bombardment the
Boers, who had been reinforced by a German corps, made an attack on Fort
Abrams, which they imagined had been disabled by their shell-fire. They
were somewhat amazed to find that the garrison of the fort was not only
alive, but kicking. The corporal in charge, who had calmly waited till
his assailants had got within range, suddenly poured a fierce volley on
the approaching numbers. Result: five of the enemy were left on the
field, to be recovered later under a Red Cross flag. The effects of
bombardment were many and various. At one time the Dutch Church was
struck, at another some shells bounded on the roadway, flew through the
air straight across the town, landing with awful detonations a mile on
the other side. Some failed to burst, and then the duty of extracting
the charge was a ticklish one. One man in so doing was blown to ribbons,
pieces of him being cast to the winds and picked up quite a hundred
yards from the scene of the disaster. Another man was so forcibly struck
that a portion of leg and boot were forced through the iron-roofed
verandah some seventy yards off! Every house was pocked with its
melancholy tale. There were holes you could jump through in the ceiling
of some of the rooms, while others were shattered past recognition.
Dixon's Hotel had its end smashed, and the market-place bore signs of
merciless battering.

[Illustration: SERGEANT--18th HUSSARS

Photo by Gregory & Co., London]

On the 12th a welcome guest came in the form of a pigeon, bearing a
message from Colonel Plumer. No small creature of the winged tribe had
ever before conveyed so much satisfaction, save perhaps the first
prominent performer in the days of the ark. News also arrived by runner,
of Mr. Smitheman's safe arrival, and a message from her Majesty was
delivered to Colonel Baden-Powell. This kindly expression of the
Sovereign's sympathy was highly appreciated, and served to inspirit the
whole community.

Later, a splendid effort was made by Colonel Plumer's force to run a
herd of cattle into the town. A party of Baralongs, under a native
captain, got to within seven miles of the town when they were attacked
on both flanks by the enemy. They nevertheless pursued their way,
screening themselves as far as possible behind the bodies of the cattle,
which were driven in front of them. But the Boer fire was unerring, and
soon only fifteen of the poor beasts remained. These, at last, had to be
abandoned, for owing to the lack of ammunition the cattle-runners were
forced to make themselves scarce. Such as were wounded were left behind,
and were murdered by the Boers. Several native women who, from fear of
starvation, attempted to pierce the Boer lines, were also put to death.
This behaviour much incensed the British, for the Baralongs had from the
first earned the esteem of the community by their unswerving loyalty.
Major Baillie, writing home, eulogised their conduct, and expressed a
hope that their devotion would be recognised at the end of the war. He

"After the first day's shelling the mouthpiece of the Baralong tribe,
Silas Molemo, came up to Mr. Bell, the resident magistrate, and said to
him, 'Never mind this; we will stick to you and see it through,' which
they certainly have done. They are not a tribe who would make a dashing
attack, or, to use the expression, 'be bossed up' to do things which
they don't particularly want to; but, given a defensive position, they
will hang on to it for all they are worth, as they have proved many
times during the war in the defence of their stadt. They have had their
cattle raided, their outlying homesteads destroyed, their crops for this
year are nil, and all through a time when the outlook to a native mind
must have seemed most black they have unswervingly and uncomplainingly
stuck to us, and never hesitated to do anything they were called on to
do." (It is pleasant to note that after the relief the Baralongs
received formal recognition of their splendid loyalty.)

"The better the day, the better the deed," was evidently the motto of
the Boers, for on Good Friday they applied their energies to the
construction of new trenches and fortifications about fifteen hundred
yards beyond their former position. In order not to be behind the times,
the bread ration of the day was marked with a cross, to do duty as a
"hot cross bun." On the following day misfortune hung over the place,
for two troopers, Molloy and Hassell, belonging to the Fort Ayr
garrison, were caught by a shell and mortally wounded. On Easter Day
there were sports to revive the spirits of the garrison.

On the 19th of April the Creusot gun was withdrawn, and the inhabitants
took heart. To vary their menu they now engaged in a locust haul, the
result of which was to supply a third variant to the bill of fare. Lady
Sarah Wilson, telegraphing to her friends, described her diet of horse
sausages, minced mule, and curried locusts! The latter insects were
reported to be tender as chicken and as tasty as prawn "almondised." The
natives had a good meal, and visibly grew fat. On the following day a
telegram was received from Lord Roberts requesting the garrison to hold
out till the 18th of May. It was disappointing, none could deny, but
they consoled themselves that a message showing they were marked down in
the programme of "coming events" was better than nothing at all.
Fortunately the food still held out. Water--pure water--was rare as
Edelweiss, and liquor of other kind was unobtainable. Only money was
what our friends on the Stock Exchange call "tight." The bank was closed
to the general public, and her Majesty's presentment upon a coin was a
prize to be cherished and clung to till--well, till the crack of doom
should make the ever-promised and never-realised relief unnecessary.

But the great food problem well-nigh exhausted all the energies of those
concerned with it. Captain Ryan, D.A.A.G., sat daily in the interior of
his bomb-proof office receiving a procession of persons who filed in to
make their impossible demands, and deliberating on the curious fact that
the stomach rules the world. The honour of the British Empire at that
moment hung by a mere thread--it was a question of how slender a thread
of nourishment could keep body and soul tacked together to represent the
figure of an Englishman! Nevertheless Mafeking, like Kimberley, was
bound to have its marriage bells. A Dutch bride, ignorant of English,
was led to the altar by a private of the Bechuanaland Rifles, ignorant
of Dutch. Philosophers predicted considerable felicity, as between them
the couple had sufficient language for love-making and scarce sufficient
for controversy.

At this time Captain Ryan made a statement regarding the supplies of the
town, which serves to show the pitch to which caution was carried:--

     "The total number of white men is approximately 1150, of white
     women 400, and of white children 300. The coloured population
     consists of some 2000 men, 2000 women, and 3000 children.

     "Both the white and coloured men originally received eight
     ounces of bread. The allowance has now been reduced to six, but
     a quart of soup is given to make up the deficiency. Half a
     gallon of sowan porridge a day will sustain life. The
     recipients are of three classes; those who receive it in lieu
     of two ounces of bread; those who wish to purchase food over
     and above the quantity to which they are entitled; those who
     are absolutely destitute, both black and white, and who receive
     the porridge free. It has been suggested that the natives
     should not be charged for sowan porridge, but it is thought
     unwise to pauperise either blacks or whites. If any profit has
     been made from the sale by the end of the siege it will be
     employed in buying grain for the many native women and children
     in Mafeking who have been involved in a quarrel which is not

     "The horse soup is made from the carcasses of animals which had
     ceased to be serviceable and those killed by the enemy's fire,
     as well as horses and donkeys purchased from individuals who
     can no longer afford to keep them. This soup is unpopular among
     the natives, but this is due rather to prejudice than to its

     "The distribution of supplies is entirely under Imperial
     control. The Army Service Corps possesses a slaughter-house, a
     bakery, and a grocery, at which the authorities receive and
     distribute all vegetables, and it receives and distributes milk
     to the hospital, to women and children, and to men who have
     been medically certified to need it.

     "At present the hospital is supplied with white bread, and it
     is hoped that the supply will be continued. Hospital comforts
     are issued to such as are in need of them, both in and out
     patients, on receipt of an order from a medical officer. For
     the nurses and doctors, who work day and night, the authorities
     endeavoured to provide slightly better rations than those
     available for the general community. Our sources of supply have
     been chiefly through Mr. Weil, who had a large stock on hand
     for the provisioning of the garrison, until the contract
     terminated at the beginning of February. Since then supplies
     have been collected from various merchants, storekeepers, and
     private persons and stored in the Army Service Corps depôt, and
     from the original Army Service Corps stocks, of which forage
     and oats formed a great proportion. Fresh beef is obtained by
     purchase from a private individual named White, and in a lesser
     degree from the natives.

     "Breadstuffs are obtained, like groceries, by commandeering the
     stocks of various merchants and private persons."

Lord Roberts now commuted the sentence of the court-martial which tried
Lieutenant Murchison for the murder of Mr. Parslow to one of penal
servitude for life. Many of those who had been associated with this
officer did not consider him responsible for his actions, and were
relieved at the lightening of the punishment of a comrade-in-arms.

On the 27th Colonel Baden-Powell sent the following message to Lord

"After two hundred days' siege I desire to bring to your lordship's
notice the exceptionally good spirit of loyalty that pervades all
classes of this garrison. The patience of everybody in Mafeking in
making the best of things under the long strain of anxiety, hardship,
and privation is beyond all praise, and is a revelation to me. The men,
half of whom are unaccustomed to the use of arms, have adapted
themselves to their duties with the greatest zeal, readiness, and pluck,
and the devotion of the women is remarkable. With such a spirit our
organisation runs like clockwork, and I have every hope it will pull us
successfully through."


At this time, the Boers being more peaceful, the citizens prepared to
celebrate the two hundredth day of the siege by horse dinners. Various
other mysterious meats, whose origin none dared investigate, appeared on
the bill of fare. One lady developed a genius for treating the meat
rations, and went so far as to give a dinner-party. Her process was
elaborate. The meat ration was cut up and the objectionable pieces
removed. It was then soaked in salt and water for three hours, and made
into soup thickened with starch. The next course was the beef out of the
soup, served with potato tops, which were found most delectable. Then
came a sowans pudding. Sowans proved a failure when served as porridge
or curry, but when the preparation was mixed with starch, bicarbonate of
soda, and baking powder, people were swift to partake.

In addition to the usual delicacies, minced mule and the aforesaid sowan
porridge, invented by an ingenious Scottish crofter of the name of Sims,
there was now manufactured a curious brawn of horsehide, which was
generally sneered at but devoured with alacrity. Curio hunters longed to
preserve a slab of it for presentation to the British Museum, but the
feat of self-abnegation was too hard to be endured. Besides, as some
philosopher said while putting it into a place of safety, it would be
the highest horse that was ever exhibited by the time it got there, and
the building wouldn't hold it. The community was almost entirely a
teetotal one. "Wee drappies" grew so wee as to be almost invisible, and
when a case of whisky was raffled for it fetched £107, 10s.!

On the 29th a military tournament was held, whereat a great display of
cheerfulness was affected, to cover the fact that fever, malarial and
typhoid, was gaining ground in the hospitals.


The Rhodesian troops were now at Moshwana, British Bechuanaland, in camp
some thirty miles from Mafeking. The small force with a single
serviceable gun could really accomplish little, and it was marvellous,
considering its extreme weakness, how it managed to maintain the
aggressive at all.

Early in April Colonel Plumer started a pigeon post, and the first
pigeon despatched arrived at Mafeking within four hours. The second was
not so fortunate, but later on the successful bird was sent off again,
on an educational trip, with younger birds in its wake.

On the 22nd Trooper Brindal of the Rhodesian Regiment died of the wounds
sustained in the action on the 31st of March. Archdeacon Upcher and
Father Hartman returned from the sad mission of discovering and burying
the remains of Lieutenant Milligan, who fell at Ramathlabama. The enemy
now were being reinforced from time to time by parties from east and
south, and as far as could be ascertained by Colonel Plumer, who sent
out native runners to apprise him of the doings of the southern relief
column, the Boers around Mafeking numbered about 3000.

On the 24th General Carrington's force, consisting of 1100 men, with
mounts and transports, arrived at Beira, and proceeded from thence to
Marandellas, twenty-five miles from Salisbury, the capital of Rhodesia.
The route, the first 200 miles of which is through Portuguese territory,
is covered by railway. The distance from Beira to Salisbury is some 375
miles. The Beira railway was carried in 1898 as far as New Umtali, where
it was connected with the system of the Mashonaland Railway Company. At
Salisbury the railway ceases, and between this point and Bulawayo, the
terminus of the Cape Railway, a space of 280 miles needed to be covered
by an extension. From Bulawayo all promised to be plain sailing, as,
owing to the untiring energies of Colonel Plumer and his small
force--whose valuable services have never been sufficiently
esteemed--the road and rail to Mafeking had been protected and

On the 28th, Lieutenant Moorson left Mafeking and reached Colonel
Plumer's camp at noon of the 29th, conveying to him the latest
intelligence, and helping him to formulate plans for the big project of
relief which will be described anon.



Early in April a portion of the Colonial Division, composed of Cape
Mounted Rifles, the Royal Scots Mounted Infantry, Driscoll's Scouts,
Kaffrarian Mounted Rifles under Captain Price, Brabant's Horse, two
15-pounders, two naval 12-pounders, two 7-pounders, one Hotchkiss, and
three Maxims, the whole force under Colonel Dalgety, crossed the Caledon
Bridge at Jammersberg Drift, took possession of it as the most important
strategetical point, and occupied the town of Wepener without
opposition. The Colonel had no sooner done so than he was surrounded by
Dutchmen, and made aware that he must prepare to stand a siege. A party
of Boers accompanying a German officer, who were blindfolded before
being brought in, now entered Wepener bearing a message from the
commandant. He very kindly demanded the instant surrender of the British
to save further bloodshed. The messengers retired without taking with
them a reply to the considerate request, but asking whether some mistake
had not been made, and inviting their surrender instead. As the Boers
were now threatening an attack on the force, Sir G. Lagden demanded a
demonstration by the Basutos on the Basuto border. This was readily
responded to, for the nation naturally resented any invasion of their
territory by their hereditary foes; and, moreover, the chiefs had been
vastly impressed by the "big heart" of the Englishmen with whom they had
come in contact, and their stubborn resistance of the Boer attacks.
Wepener itself was evacuated, but a camp at Jammersberg, three miles
off, was formed, entrenchments made, and defences ingeniously
constructed. The position, somewhat resembling Ladysmith, was situated
in the saucer-shaped hollow of many hills. It was practically isolated,
but the lines were strong, and meat was plentiful.

Colonel Dalgety, who commanded the gallant little force, is an old
officer of the Cape Mounted Rifles, and has as a record of services the
Gaika and Galeka expeditions, and the operations in Basutoland in
1880-81. He had no doubt in his ability to hold out against the
besiegers, although the force was only 1700 to 1800 strong, and the
position was really too extensive. To protect it properly required about
4000 men. The Cape Mounted Rifles, with a company of Royal Scots, were
ordered to hold the left of the position, the weakest point; 1st
Brabants and some Kaffrarian Rifles the front; 2nd Brabants the right;
and Kaffrarian Rifles the rear.

A stirring day's work was recorded on the 8th by an officer, whose
experiences were published in the _Globe_:--

     "_April 8_, 7 A.M.--As I write, with my back against the
     trench, we have reached the fifth day of the noisy concert
     without any appreciable result, except that we have expended
     most of our ammunition. Not a gun has been dismounted, not an
     inch of our long line of defence (ten miles, about) been
     yielded to the enemy; but about 150 gallant fellows, mostly
     gentlemen by birth, of the Colonial Division, are _hors de
     combat_, and we are still looking and longing to see the relief
     columns of Kitchener or Gatacre appear on the horizon.... While
     sitting chatting with Captain Cholmondley, I saw across the
     ravine my own squadron, 'M,' descending rapidly into the valley
     to reoccupy the rifle-pits which Ruttledge had vacated at
     daylight, and exposed to a heavy shrapnel fire. I scrambled
     down the ridge and joined them at the pits, but had scarcely
     got my men posted, when Cookson was seen coming towards us at a
     mad gallop. My orders were to leave one troop (Ruttledge's) in
     the rifle-pits, and take the other three to support Colonel
     Dalgety, who was hard pressed on our left rear. I should have
     to cross a plain swept by the Boer fire.

     "When I had climbed up the steep ravine on the top of the main
     ridge we found all our horses hidden away in a fold of the
     ground. To mount was the work of a minute, and then we were
     launched on our mad gallop across a plain swept by Boer Maxim
     and rifle fire. I led, and the men followed most gallantly into
     the 'jaws of death.' Nothing but annihilation seemed to await
     us; but on we swept over that mile and a half like wild men, an
     excited American, constantly by my side and sometimes ahead of
     me, shouting, 'In the joy of battle.' It was, I think, the most
     exciting quarter of an hour I have spent in my adventurous
     life. My horse was going at racing pace, when suddenly I came
     upon a kranze, down which I leaped in fox-hunting style. I
     thought this would finish all my bad riders; but although they
     tailed off somewhat into a longer line than the open order I
     had ordered, they were still in the ruck, and we all came
     together somewhat too closely at a wire fence, which brought us
     to a standstill. Having negotiated this, we came upon another
     similar one, which we all got through somehow. All this time
     the little columns of dust were rising all round and constantly
     under my horse's belly. Again we were brought up by a deep
     donga, along which we had to turn to our right and skirt it
     till it was negotiable, where the banks had been cut down on
     each side for the horses of the C.M.R. to cross. I made then
     for a group of dismounted horses held in shelter behind a
     strong causeway. Here was Dalgety, to whom I reported myself.
     In a few minutes the Boers brought another gun into position,
     which sent a shell into us, killing four gun mules linked
     together in their harness, six troop horses, one of mine, and
     one nigger, who was holding the mules. They fell in a heap, and
     presented a most gruesome appearance. One or two men were also
     wounded by the same shell, which was the signal for a skurry
     for shelter behind huge boulders. The horses were sent down to
     the donga before mentioned, where, though sheltered from shot
     and shell, they spent four miserable days, until at last a
     heavy rain filled the donga, and some of the horses were
     swimming. All had had their saddles on from the first day. Some
     of these had been torn off by the horses' frantic efforts to
     get out, and were lost in the mud. Finally they all got out,
     and covered the plains under the Boer fire. Many of them were

     "After the deadly shell I began to count up my men and find out
     how many were missing after the charge across the plain, and
     the last dose of shrapnel. To my surprise, they all answered to
     their names excepting two. Macarthy had been struck full in the
     forehead by a Mauser bullet, and fell from his horse as one
     dead. He is now recovering. Reid, an American, was shot through
     the side and arm, and is also recovering. Turner, my senior
     lieutenant, had been struck in the hip with a bit of segment
     shell, but stuck most pluckily to his post."

The officer went on to narrate an episode which deserves to be
remembered among the deeds of heroism which distinguished this notable
period: "Coming across from the C.M.R. lines towards the Kaffrarian
lines was a stretcher carried by four men with a wounded man on it. As
soon as it came from under the shelter of the kopje on which we and the
C.M.R. live, about 1200 yards from the ridge held by the enemy, opposite
the open end of the horse-shoe, it was received by a hail of bullets. On
went the gallant bearers for about a hundred yards, when they came to a
sudden stand, put the stretcher on the ground, and seemed to consult.
First one ran about twenty yards, to fall, apparently shot dead; then
another did the same, and the third; and the three corpses were lying on
the ground. The fourth man fell on his knees between the stretcher and
the enemy. The Boers, then satisfied that they had disposed of this lot,
ceased firing at them for the space of some minutes, when suddenly the
four dead men came to life, rushed to the stretcher, and went on with it
at the double, though little columns of dust rose thicker than ever
round the devoted bearers. When they had crossed the fire zone and came
under the shelter of a small kopje, something very like a cheer rose
from the three hundred spectators of this exciting scene. Putting the
breach of the Geneva Convention out of the question, there could not be
a better exemplification of the savagery of the Boers. Even a savage foe
would have respected such courage as these men showed in their efforts
to save their wounded comrade. The wounded man turned out to be Captain
Goldsworthy of the C.M.R., wounded in two places, whom I afterwards saw
in hospital here, and the one who shielded him with his own body was a
young trumpeter in the C.M.R., who, I believe, will get the V.C."


(Corporal) (Sergeant)


Photo by Gregory & Co., London]

On the 8th a commando some 2000 strong, with four guns, laagered five
miles out in the direction of Dewetsdorp, and on the 9th the town of
Wepener was occupied by the Boers, who, in number from 5000 to 6000,
spread themselves crescentwise around the British position. Not long
were they inactive. Their guns began to open on the camp, and received a
prompt answer from the 15-pounders. A vigorous artillery duel,
involving great loss to the besieged, was then kept up throughout the

A member of the stalwart band gave his impressions of the first days of
the fighting: "The brave lot of fellows of the C.M.R. were stormed at
until we almost gave up hope that any human being could stand against
it; but very fortunately for us they did so, and although the Boers came
almost behind them and enfiladed their trenches, killing and wounding
between sixty and seventy of the regiment. Goodness knows how many of
the Boers were killed. Their losses must have been great, no matter what
they may say afterwards. Towards daylight the enemy retired to their
former position, and at daybreak the fight went merrily on its way, but,
luckily, shifted from the poor played-out C.M.R. for a few hours. Major
Sprenger, poor fellow, was simply riddled with bullets. Captain
Goldsworthy and Major Waring, together with several other officers, were
wounded, and now the C.M.R. are commanded by only a few officers,
including their most gallant Colonel Dalgety. Captain Cookson, another
of their officers, is an especial favourite with our men, as he looks
after them as well as his own men in action. He fears no dangers, and so
instils confidence into others.

"All went well with us until the good-night shell, which bursts over our
camp about six o'clock each night, arrived. Cookson and I were
superintending the sending of the food to the trenches, where our brave
men were so bravely holding their own, when I heard the whistle of the
shell and heard it burst, and simultaneously was knocked down by a
shrapnel bullet, which, fortunately for yours truly, did not penetrate
far into my thigh. As no bones were broken, I hope--in fact, I am
sure--I shall be able to walk in a day or two from now. Lieutenant
Duncan, also wounded in the leg, and myself were placed in a small
schanze, erected for the purpose, but as there was no roof to it, and
the rain poured for hours during the night, we were soaked to the bone.
It could not be helped, there being no other place in which to put us;
so we did not complain. It was just as well we did not go to the
hospital, which is already overcrowded--no fewer than 110 wounded men
there--as I learn that one of our wounded men was yesterday killed in it
with a Boer bullet; in fact, the Boers several times fired at it. We now
have a waggon sail over our schanze, and feel nice and comfortable. We
expect to be able to move about by Easter Sunday. Captain Hamilton has
been very kind; comes to visit us two or three times a day, and runs a
strong chance of being shot, as the snipers shoot at every one who shows
himself. He is only one of the lot; they are all the same."

[Illustration: THE DEFENCE OF WEPENER. (From a Sketch by Major A.

On Tuesday, the 10th, came more duelling. In the morning with artillery,
in the afternoon with rifles. The Cape Mounted Rifles did good
execution, for the Boers who had approached to 250 yards of their
position were forced to remove. An officer of Brabant's Horse spoke most
enthusiastically of the C.M.R. He said:--

"We fought all day and all night. The big gun and rifle fire were almost
deafening, and as we are entirely surrounded, it was pouring in on all
sides, a continuous hail of shot and shell. Towards afternoon they
directed all their gun fire to one spot, and blew to bits the schanzes
of the C.M.R., thus leaving them almost unprotected, and in the night
they attempted to take the position by assault. Although the C.M.R. were
very considerably outnumbered, the Boers were unable to attain their
object. They had not reckoned on the opposition of, undoubtedly, one of
the finest regiments in the whole world, as the C.M.R. are. We (1st
Brabants) were unable to send reinforcements to the gallant fellows, as
we expected an attack ourselves at any moment, and our position is such
an extended one, that it required every man to hold it. If only we had a
few hundreds more to hold the trenches with us, and an ample supply of
ammunition, we would be quite happy."

The scarcity of ammunition began to cause anxiety, and also the
condition of the atmosphere. The air was almost unbreathable. Fumes from
dead horses, cows, pigs, which were strewed on the surrounding plains,
rose in sunshine or rain as from a caldron of pestilence. There was no
avoiding them, and death by worse than shot and shell--by slow ravaging
malaria, or greedy epidemic--seemed to be traced by the finger of
expectation across the foul atmosphere. No longer was there pleasure in
gazing out at the beautiful green hills, that but a little while ago had
been speckled with white tents and draped with the ethereal gossamer of
blue smoke from the fitful flame of the camp fires. War had sounded its
most discordant note--hard--emphatic. The tents were all struck. On the
ground they lay prone, battered by the pouring rain. Camp fires were now
few and far between, and the only smoke to be seen came from the
snorting nozzles of implements of death. The rattle of musketry made the
melody of day and night. The men, huddled up in their trenches, rained
on by heaven-sent storm, rained on by hell-sent shrapnel, unable to
raise a head lest the movement would be their last, still remained
glorious fellows, cheery, jocose, hailing the humours of their tragic
position with shouts of laughter, and skipping, with true heroism, the
ghastly and the terrible that thrust itself between them and their

One of their number described the trenches as "simply ordinary trenches
dug in the ground, with the earth and stones thrown out on the front
side, strengthened by sand-bags. During the first day's fighting they
were not very good, and the heavy losses sustained were attributable to
that fact. The men improved them during the night, however, and they
grew and grew until they were really like rabbits burrowing into the
ground. During the shelling men would sit or lie down under the bank,
and it was wonderful how the trenches protected them. Some of the
trenches had hundreds of shells fired into them during the day, and as
long as the men kept well down, they got off comparatively lightly. It
was a fearful strain, however, as you might be crouching behind a
traverse of sand-bags, when thump would come a shell and knock the
sand-bags all over the place, upon which you would have to skip into the
traverse and expose yourself while doing so to a hail of bullets from
the Boer snipers. As the Boers were all round us, they brought guns to
bear from different points, so as to enfilade the trenches, so we had to
build transverse walls, sand-bags, or traverses to protect ourselves.
The front Cape Mounted Rifles' trenches were fearfully battered during
the day, and the tired men had to patch them up as best they could
during the night. During the day we could not show our heads over the
parapets, as there would immediately come a volley from the Boer

All the troops had unceasing work, but most of the casualties fell to
the share of those in the southern position--the Cape Mounted Rifles,
Captain Garner's Squadron of Brabant's Horse, Captain Seel's Company of
Royal Scots Mounted Infantry, and Driscoll's energetic scouts. The
Kaffrarians, commanded by Captain Price elsewhere in four different
positions to east and west--took their share of the defence, while on
the heights north-east and north-west, the 1st and 2nd Regiments of
Brabant's Horse, under Major Henderson and Colonel Grenfell
respectively, also worked incessantly to protect the garrison.

The object of the concentration of the Boers around this region was
supposed to be connected with offering opposition to General Brabant's
advance, but the Dutchmen in their policy were somewhat uneasy, owing to
their close proximity to the Basuto border.

Their alarm was not without reason, for if there was a force eager to
attack them it was the Basutos, and these were only held back from
rushing into the fray by the personal influence of Sir Godfrey Lagden
and his British colleagues, who can never sufficiently be applauded for
the skill and diplomacy with which they managed to keep, by invisible
moral coercion, a fiery horde from rushing over the borders and possibly
massacring such Free Staters as came in their way. The Boers, however,
were not conscious of this coercion, and consequently their action
around Wepener was somewhat cramped, and thus it was that the little
community managed to defy them. Meanwhile discomforts were many, and the
clouds often emptied themselves like a vast shower-bath involving doused
trenches, drenched clothing, and the suspension of operations. On the
11th a cheery message was received from Lord Kitchener, who paid a visit
to Aliwal North, and from thence sent word that he hoped "for an early
change" in the circumstances of the besieged. Spirits rose. What
Kitchener, the adamantine, said was sure to be done. On Thursday, 12th,
the fourth day of fierce fighting, the Boers continued their aggression
all day. During the contest an entertaining interlude in the drama of
warfare took place. The enemy was busy shelling one of the garrison's
15-pounders, when a shot knocked off the left sight of Captain Lukin's
gun. The Captain, generous in his admiration, jumped on top of the gun
and made a complimentary salaam to the Boer gunner. Later on, by using
the reserve sight on the right side, he himself planked a shell right
into the adversary's gunpit, whereupon the officer in charge, imitating
Captain Lukin's example, promptly leapt up and bowed his

During the night of the 12th the Dutchmen attempted another attack, but
volley after volley was poured into them with such animation that by 4
A.M. they were glad enough to retire. Fortunately not a man was killed
or wounded, and those who had so well defended themselves felt a
somewhat natural satisfaction in seeing the Boer ambulances at work the
next morning. Soon it was rumoured that the Boers were bringing up
another gun, and the garrison, who were beginning to get tired of being
peppered at by guns big and small, began to long for the arrival of

Friday the 13th, the following Saturday and Sunday, were used by the
Boers for their Easter devotions--not that they were too devout to enjoy
a little sniping in the intervals. Nasal hymns took the place of the
snorts of Long Tom, but after the reiterations of the Vickers Maxim the
Federals resumed their bombardment with renewed zest, and Oom Sam, the
British howitzer, took up the tune. Unfortunately, the Dutchmen resorted
to expansive bullets. One of the commandants tried to assert that these
were captured from the British, but truth not being the Boer forte, no
effort was made to refute the vile impeachment.

The garrison next made a dashing sortie and captured a Boer gun.
Aggressive action was necessary. Reinforcements were daily reaching the
besiegers, and hostile gangs were collecting in the vicinity of
Dewetsdorp. These soon gathered round the plucky British force, which,
to protect itself, launched out with such vigour that the Boers,
especially the Zastrom Commando, who had assaulted to a jubilate,
retreated to a dirge. The women wept, and the men themselves grew
anxious, for the Basutos, warlike and excited, were massing on the
border, and a sword of Damocles, in the form of an exasperated legion of
natives, threatened to drop on the Dutchmen's heads. They were getting
into difficulties on all sides. One of Olivier's guns was smashed, and
another had been captured in the sortie by the Cape Mounted Rifles. But
the energies of this sprightly corps had also cost them dear. During the
four days' fighting, from the 9th to the 13th, eighteen were slain and
132 wounded! The men on the south-western fringe fared worse even than
the others. They feared to cook in their trenches lest they should
attract the Boer fire, and meals brought from adjacent shelters were
cold before they could reach them. Such reviving and inspiriting
refreshment as hot tea or coffee was almost unknown, and as a natural
consequence, particularly in such damp weather, warmth external and
internal was most craved for and very generally missed. Washing was a
luxury not to be thought of, indeed, a rain bath in a trench had to
serve all purposes. The strain of such conditions on the men was most
trying, and the account given by one of the officers was far from
exaggerated. "They had to go into their trenches on the night of the
8th, and from then till the 25th they had to stay in them, crouching in
them all day while being heavily shelled and 'sniped' at by the enemy's
riflemen. During the night a couple of men from each trench would be
sent to the place near the centre of the position where the food was
prepared and take it up to their comrades. Cooking could only be done at
night in dongas, and behind cover, such as walls, &c., and by the time
the food got to the men it was ice cold, so the poor fellows, or the
majority, in the forward trenches did not get anything hot in the shape
of food or drink for eighteen days. Night was a blessed relief, as they
could get out of the trenches and stretch themselves, but to cap our
misery we had several days' heavy rain, and the trenches got full of
water. The fellows had to bale it out with buckets, patrol tins, and
even hats, I believe. Those rainy nights were awful, and the men were
getting quite 'jumpy.' I really thought some of them would lose their
reason, and was quite prepared to find some dead from exposure in the
morning. However, the rain stopped in time, otherwise we would have been
in great danger as the men could not have stood it. There is a limit to
human endurance."

The investment had no showy nor picturesque characteristics: it was just
a case of stern resistance, of obdurate endurance, that was infinitely
more exigent in its demands on the human character than the brilliant
soul-stirring deeds of open battle. Fortunately the Boers were getting
correspondingly uncomfortable. They had surrounded Wepener, it is true,
but, with a native guard of some 3000 strong assembled to prevent any
encroachments on the Basutoland border, they remained where they were at
their peril, and every hour brought with it the chance of being hemmed
in on all sides. Yet they stuck on, inspired with the belief that by
some, for them, lucky chance Colonel Dalgety might drop into their
hands. Meanwhile the natives were assisting the besieged to the best of
their power, and the resident Commissioner at Mafeteng was exerting
himself to provide ambulances and medical stores, in hope of being able
to forward them should opportunity offer. The charitable arrangement was
much appreciated, for the state of affairs was far from salubrious.
Apart from sick and wounded, many of the Boers, after the night attack
of the 12th, had left their comrades unburied, and the bodies were still
lying in the mill furrow, to the distress of those shut up within the
narrow confines of the camp. The Caledon River now rose and added to the
alarm of the Federals, who were aware that if it should become in flood
they would undoubtedly be cut off. At the same time those within the
besieged area were also beginning to get additionally concerned.
Ammunition for the howitzer was running low, and the rifle ammunition
promised to hold out but for a very limited period. Messages were
continually being received from Lord Roberts, who heliographed _via_
Mafeteng congratulating the troops on their brave defence, and
assuring them that he was keeping a watchful eye on them. This should
have been consoling, but every hour, every instant, was now of
importance. Still there was no lack of pluck. These men who had beaten
the Boers three times were confident that they would make a good fight
of it to the last. "We'll not surrender till half of us are killed,"
they said, and the gallant fellows, in their trenches, under a storm of
shot and shell, pursued their games of cards as though they meant to
"sit tight till Doomsday." Of them an officer writing at this time said:
"The defence, so far, has been heroic. In the Crimea twenty-four hours
on and twenty-four hours off was considered hard work. My men have been
ten days in their trenches without leaving them, wet to the skin oftener
than not, and day and night exposed to shrapnel, not able to raise their
hand above without getting a bullet through them, and yet not a grumble
is heard. As I sit scrawling this in pencil, with my back against the
damp earth, the jest goes round, and peals of laughter follow the
sallies of your light-hearted countrymen from the Emerald Isle. I
positively love these men, and shall never forget, in spite of the ague
attacks and the racked head, the enjoyment of these hours spent packed,
all arms and legs, in the mass of humanity which fills these
trenches--the work of our own hands."

They had tasted neither bread nor biscuits for a week. Fortunately they
had meat in plenty, and occasionally certain meal-cakes which, though
filling, brought about a sensation graphically described as
"hippopotamus on the chest." Some one declared they were quite as hard
and nearly as damaging as Boer bullets!

In spite, however, of their assumed jocosity they could not but be
cognisant of the fact that, what with damp and dysentery, irregular
meals, tainted water, poor medical appliances, and indifferent stores,
the future was threatening. Questions as to the coming of the promised
relief began to be anxiously bandied about, and now and again a terrible
doubt crept in that it might never come at all.

Easter Monday they thought of as Bank Holiday in England. They pictured
the gay Cockney multitude scampering free in parks and sunshine while
they, huddled together in a deluge of perpetual rain, were wondering if
life in trenches was worth living. Then some one, a philosopher,
declared you couldn't get a daily rain-water bath at home for love or
money, and they laughingly made the best of it. They wallowed in damp
and mud, and counted on their fingers that there had been eight days of
hard fighting, and wondered how many more they were good for. Books were
scarce and conversation monotonous. "Any signs of Brabant or Gatacre?"
some one would question. "None. I guess they've got lost somewhere."
"Any chance of the rain stopping?" "None. We shall have deluges
to-morrow." So passed the time between Job and his comforters.

Fighting proceeded wearily, spasmodically. The Boers too were damp, in
spirit and in body, and the carols of Long Tom lost some of their
demoniac mirth. Now and then the besiegers would smarten themselves up
with a volley, occasionally they would snipe intermittently--a little
venomous spitting at the obdurate, sturdy, magnificent fellows they had
learned as much to respect as to detest. Still no relief column. Hoping,
the men in their trenches puzzled and offered solutions for themselves.

"Perhaps the relievers had fallen into a trap," said a pessimist.

"Oh no; the rain must have delayed them," said some one more cheery.

"Perhaps the drifts are unpassable," volunteered a third.

"I wonder if any of us will be left to receive them?" questioned the

"Poof! only ten per cent. of us are disabled as yet!" chaffed the
optimist lightly.

Though they did not know it, General Chermside, with the Third Division,
had now marched about eight miles east of Reddersburg, and encamped in
the locality where the Royal Irish Rifles surrendered. On the 19th a
large body of the enemy was moving on with the apparent object of
encountering General Brabant near Rouxville, and later on from the
distance the muffled roar of musketry gave promise of the relieving
action. Naturally, the spirits of the garrison began to rise, but their
joy was short lived, for soon the Boers appeared on the west, and there
brought five guns to bear on the British force. All day the round lips
of the new visitors opened and hooted and spat! The Kaffrarian Rifles
were treated to no less than 130 shrapnel shells. Brabant's regiment and
the Maxim kept up an active fire on the Boer gunners; but the guns were
so cautiously protected that their efforts were crowned with small
success. Even the redoubtable Captain Lukin failed to make his usual
impression, for this officer had now decided that economy--economy of
ammunition--must make the better part of Wepener valour. Major Maxwell,
at dusk, with his cheery sappers, set to work to remedy the ravages of
the day, but the prospect of affairs was not rendered more heartening by
information which came in to the effect that Olivier, De Wet, Froneman,
and others were closing in with their commandoes and mercenaries,
numbering some 8000, from Rouxville, Smithfield, Ficksburg, and even
from Ladybrand. This discovery caused no little anxiety. All were aware
that Lord Roberts could and would come to their relief; but,
nevertheless, it was impossible to ignore the fact that provisions
began to dwindle and the poor trek oxen began to go, and no signs of a
relieving column were evident. The officers and men were now on duty all
night in the trenches--melancholy work, for deluges of rain made them
sopping, and served to damp even the bellicose ardour of the most


Photo by Russell & Sons, London]

Their position by day, too, was pathetic in the extreme. It was
impossible even for the most rollicking and dauntless to look unmoved to
right or to left of him. Perhaps on one side he would be bounded by a
"pal" doubled up and sweating with the agony of his wounds, while on the
other would lie, clay-cold and immobile--with that unmistakable
stiffness that they had learnt to know too well--a form that some
moments before had been vibrant with humanity. In this _entourage_ it
was necessary throughout the long hours to keep up persistent fire at
the enemy, and dodge and manoeuvre so that the fate that loomed large
and unforgetable on either hand might be kept at bay! Few indeed were in
possession of a whole skin in these times--they fought, got wounded,
went into hospital, came out partially healed and fought again, only to
go back with fresh holes for repair. Sometimes they were carried to the
churchyard by comrades of their corps--gaunt, weary, aching, grimy
fellows with large hearts, who grimly professed to envy those--many
there were by now--who had "every night in bed!"

On the evening of the 23rd there was some jubilation in Jammersberg
camp. General Brabant heliographed from a place some fourteen miles
distant, reporting an engagement with the enemy, and that they were
retiring, though there was a strong force on his left flank. Heavy
firing continued to be heard all day, most probably from the artillery
of Generals Rundle and Chermside, who, at this time, were approaching
Dewetsdorp from the south, or of Generals French and Pole-Carew, who
were nearing that destination from the north. The plot was thickening.
The sun was shining, the guns were going, and there was a chance the
Boers might yet be hoist with their own petard, and in expectation
thereof a veritable thrill passed through the camp.

Then the Boer fire began to slacken perceptibly, the barking of big guns
mysteriously subsided. What was happening? Anxiety and suspense made the
young faces--faces that had been young at the commencement of the
war--still more drawn and haggard; it was felt that should the Boers
capture the position they would give little quarter to the Colonial
Division, and these had determined never to hoist the white flag. The
fact was, the Boers were silently preparing to sneak away. They had
heard of the converging of the British armies, they were in receipt of
information regarding a grand scheme for mopping them up, and after
taking a last sullen, despairing lunge they took themselves off.

On the morning of the 25th a serpentine _cortège_ of waggons and carts
and riders was seen winding its way in the direction of Ladybrand.
Colonel Dalgety half suspected that Brabant's force would presently
appear and chase this retreating company, and got himself and some 300
of his men in readiness to assist in harassing those who so recently had
harassed him. But Brabant's force was apparently worn out, and was about
some fourteen miles off when the retirement commenced, and though to his
splendid exertions the retreat was due, it was evident that the enemy
would manage to slide off without chastisement.

[Illustration: WEPENER.]

Thus ended the story of a grand achievement, an almost unique example in
the way of defence of fortified positions, 1700 men having for seventeen
days and nights in the trenches defended seven miles of entrenchment
without giving up a single position! By the end there had been about 200
casualties, and only 1500 men were left to defend the tremendous length
of entrenchments. One of the valiant defenders gave a graphic summary of
the continuous fighting:--

     "We lost between twenty and thirty killed and wounded the first
     day--not very many, considering what we had against us. At
     night the big guns ceased fire, and there was only a shot now
     and again during the night. On Tuesday morning at breakfast
     time the big guns started again; but there were only five guns
     that day, and we found out after the fight that we had knocked
     out three of the Boer guns on the previous day. The firing on
     the Tuesday was not so brisk, but at 8 P.M. the Boers attacked
     in force at the C.M.R. trenches, but our men were ready for
     them, and played one of the Boers' own games with them. They
     saw them coming, and the Royal Scots lined up on one side and
     the C.M.R. on the other side of the spruit. Our men allowed
     them to get right in and then opened fire at fifty yards. Every
     man had his bayonet fixed and ready, and at the word they went
     for them. In less than an hour it was all over, and the Boers
     were beaten back, leaving 300 dead. It was pitiful to hear them
     crying. They have not the heart of a school-girl, and they
     cannot stand a beating. After the Tuesday night the enemy kept
     very quiet for a few days, only independent firing going on
     both with rifles and big guns. This went on for several days,
     at times a little brisk, and then the Boers seemed to get tired
     and tried to rush us again with 2000 men. This was on the
     fifteenth day at ten in the morning. By twelve o'clock we had
     them beaten, and the next day they left us and we came on up

A great deal of the success of the resistance was due to the ingenuity
of the entrenchments. The work had been carried out under the direction
of Colonel Maxwell, R.E., and the splendid stand made by the besieged
was made possible almost entirely by his genius. Captain Lukin was also
a tower of strength, and but for his services with the guns the garrison
would have suffered much more than it did. Captain Grant, C.M.R., too,
was invaluable, working late and early, and carrying out with immense
zeal the plans of the chief, while Colonel Grenfell was an untiring
right-hand man to Colonel Dalgety.

Another of the heroes of the siege was Major Sprenger, of the C.M.R.,
who fell in his country's service almost at the beginning of the siege.
He was a born soldier, and a distinguished member of a distinguished
corps. He won his commission by his smartness and soldierly qualities,
having risen to the rank of sub-inspector in the old F.A.M.P. On the
merging of that corps into the C.M.R., he continued as lieutenant, and
was awarded the next step for gallantry in the field, he being the first
to mount the scaling ladders in the storming of Moirosi's Mountain.

General Brabant afterwards described the Cape Mounted Rifles as being
the very finest corps in her Majesty's service, and recommended them to
the notice of Lord Roberts. As for the artillery under Captain Lukin,
the General said he did not think there was a battery in her Majesty's
service that could excel it.

The casualties at Wepener from April 9th to 18th were:--

     _Killed_:--Cape Mounted Rifles--Major Sprenger, Lieutenant E.
     A. Taplin. Brabant's Horse--Lieutenant Tharston. _Severely
     wounded_:--Cape Mounted Rifles--Major J. C. Warring, Lieutenant
     J. Heilford, Lieutenant L. Martin, Lieutenant R. Ayre,
     Lieutenant W. H. Nixon, Lieutenant H. G. F. Campbell. Brabant's
     Horse--Lieutenant W. J. Holford. Driscoll's Scouts--Lieutenant
     W. Weiner. Kaffrarian Rifles--Lieutenant C. Lister. _Slightly
     wounded_:--Cape Mounted Rifles--Captain C. L. M. Goldsworthy.
     Brabant's Horse--Surgeon-Captain L. C. Perkins (returned to
     duty), Lieutenant Turner Duncan, Lieutenant and Quartermaster
     P. Williams. 1st Royal Scots Mounted Infantry--Lieutenant C. G.
     Hill (1st Berks Regiment, attached).

The total losses were 33 killed and 132 wounded--a somewhat heavy bill
for so small a force, when it is remembered that many of the wounded did
not report their injuries but remained on duty during the siege.

In his diary the officer before quoted wrote: "We were relieved to-day
at last, and march to-morrow. We have gone through an awful time, and
some of the men look quite ghastly. They dragged their wasted forms from
the trenches to-day at a crawl to the camp, which had been repitched. I
had to give up the night before last, and after visiting my sentries,
got back into the trenches in agony. At midnight I reached the hospital,
where they injected morphine, and, after twenty-four hours lying on a
stretcher, I am on my legs again.... Seventeen days and nights under
fire, and the disgusting part of the whole is that it has been in vain.
The Boers have slipped through our fingers after all."

The relief of Wepener may be said to have taken place on the 25th. To
discover how this was automatically accomplished, it is necessary to
follow Lord Roberts's strategic plan, and to return to the events of the
22nd of April.

[Illustration: SCOUT--6th DRAGOON GUARDS


Photo by Gregory & Co., London]


As a continual reorganisation of the forces was taking place, it will
assist us, before going further, to examine a rough table of the date,
as compiled from various authorities by the _Morning Post_:--


     _Commanding-in-chief_--FIELD-MARSHAL LORD ROBERTS.


     Lieutenant-General Sir H. G. CHERMSIDE.

       22nd Brigade (Major-General R. E. Allen).

     2nd Royal Irish Rifles.
     2nd Northumberland Fusiliers.
     1st Royal Scots.
     1st Derbyshire.

       23rd Brigade (Major-General W. G. Knox).
           (Composition not known.)

     74th, 77th, and 79th Field Batteries.


     Lieutenant-General T. KELLY-KENNY.

       12th Brigade (Major-General Clements).

     2nd Worcestershire.
     2nd Bedfordshire.
     2nd Wiltshire.
     1st Royal Irish Regiment.

       13th Brigade (Major-General A. G. Wavell).

     2nd East Kent.
     1st Oxfordshire Light Infantry.
     1st West Riding.
     2nd Gloucester.

     76th, 81st, and 82nd Field Batteries.
     38th Company Royal Engineers.


     Lieutenant-General G. TUCKER.

       14th Brigade (Major-General J. G. Maxwell).

     2nd Norfolk.
     2nd Lincoln.

     1st King's Own Scottish Borderers.
     2nd Hants.

       15th Brigade (Major-General C. E. Knox).

     2nd Cheshire.
     1st East Lancashire.
     2nd South Wales Borderers.
     2nd North Stafford.

     83rd, 84th, and 85th Field Batteries.
     9th Company Royal Engineers.


     Lieutenant-General Sir H. M. L. RUNDLE.

       16th Brigade (Major-General B. B. D. Campbell).

     2nd Grenadier Guards.
     2nd Scots Guards.
     2nd East Yorks.

       17th Brigade (Major-General J. E. Boyes).

     1st Worcester.
     2nd Royal West Kent.
     1st South Stafford.
     2nd Manchester.

     Brigade Division Royal Field Artillery.
     5th Company Royal Engineers.


     Lieutenant-General Sir H. E. COLVILE.

       3rd Brigade (Major-General H. A. MacDonald).

     1st Argyll and Sutherland.
     1st Gordon Highlanders.
     2nd Seaforth Highlanders.
     2nd Royal Highlanders (Black Watch).

       19th Brigade (Major-General H. L. Smith-Dorrien).
           (Composition not certainly known.)

     Highland Light Infantry.
     2nd Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.
     2nd Shropshire Light Infantry.
     Canadian Regiment.

     Brigade Division Royal Field Artillery.


     Lieutenant-General Sir H. HUNTER.

       5th Brigade (Major-General A. Fitzroy Hart).

     2nd Somerset Light Infantry.
     1st Connaught Rangers.
     1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
     1st Border.

       6th Brigade (Major-General G. Barton).

     2nd Royal Fusiliers.
     2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers.
     1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
     2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers.

     63rd, 64th, and 73rd Field Batteries.


     Lieutenant-General R. POLE-CAREW.

       18th Brigade (Major-General T. E. Stephenson).
           (Composition not certainly known.)

     1st Essex.
     1st Yorkshire.
     1st Welsh.
     2nd Royal Warwickshire.

       1st Brigade (Major-General Inigo R. Jones).

     3rd Grenadier Guards.
     1st Coldstream Guards.
     2nd Coldstream Guards.
     1st Scots Guards.

     18th, 62nd, 75th Field Batteries.


     Lieutenant-General J. D. P. FRENCH.

       1st Brigade (Brigadier-General T. C. Porter).

     6th Dragoon Guards.
     6th Dragoons.
     2nd Dragoons.

       2nd Brigade (Brigadier-General R. G. Broadwood).

     10th Hussars.
     12th Hussars.
     Household Cavalry.

       3rd Brigade (Brigadier-General J. R. P. Gordon).

     9th Lancers.
     16th Lancers.
     17th Lancers.

       4th Brigade (Major-General J. B. B. Dickson).

     7th Dragoon Guards.
     8th Hussars.
     14th Hussars.

     G, J, M, O, P, Q, R, T, U Batteries Horse Artillery.


     Major-General IAN HAMILTON.

       1st Brigade (Major-General E. T. H. Hutton).

         1st Corps (Colonel E. A. H. Alderson).

     1st Canadian Mounted Rifles.
     2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles.
     Lord Strathcona's Corps.
     One Battalion Imperial Mounted Infantry.

         2nd Corps (Colonel de Lisle).

     New South Wales Mounted Infantry.
     West Australian Mounted Infantry.

         3rd Corps (Colonel T. D. Pilcher).

     Queensland Mounted Infantry.
     New Zealand Mounted Infantry.
     One Battalion Imperial Mounted Infantry.

         4th Corps (Colonel Henry).

     Victorian Mounted Infantry.
     South Australian Mounted Infantry.
     Tasmanian Mounted Infantry.
     One Battalion Imperial Mounted Infantry.

       2nd Brigade (Major-General Ridley).

     South African Irregulars Mounted Infantry.
     Several Batteries Artillery.


     Major-General BRABANT.

     Cape Mounted Rifles.
     Kaffrarian Mounted Rifles.
     Montmorency's Scouts (200).
     Brabant's Horse (1200).
     Border Horse.
     Frontier Mounted Rifles.
     Queenstown Volunteers.
     Cape Garrison Artillery.
     Two Naval 12-pounders.


       21st Brigade.

     Battalions not known.

       (Brigades not known.)

     2nd Berkshire.
     1st Royal Sussex.
     1st Suffolk.
     1st Cameron Highlanders.
     C.I.V. Infantry.
     Roberts's Horse.
     Kitchener's Horse.
     Two Squadrons Imperial Light Horse.
     7th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry.
     C.I.V. Mounted Infantry.
     Ceylon Mounted Infantry.
     Lumsden's Horse.
     Lord Loch's Horse.
     43rd, 65th, 86th, and 87th Howitzer Batteries.
     2nd, 5th, 8th, 9th, 17th, 38th, 39th, 68th, and 88th Field
         Batteries. (Parts of 8th, 9th, and 11th Divisions.)
     Four naval 4.7-in. guns.
     Part of Siege Train.

Towards the end of April the authorities found that the situation was
growing in interest as in difficulty. In the south-east of the Free
State Colonel Dalgety and his small but truculent band had become the
pivot round which British and Free Staters were manoeuvring, and the
red drama of war on the north and west of Wepener was becoming tragic as
that of the region around Mafeking. Developments on a large and
complicated scale were taking place, developments not as might be
imagined in the direction of Pretoria, but for the purpose of catching
the enemy in the northern and eastern portion of the Free State, and
dealing with as much of him as possible before proceeding to larger
things. There were now several separate columns on the march, each and
all so arranged that, at a given moment and at a given place within a
very short time they could concentrate for purposes of battle when
battle should be imminent, and with a view to mopping up such Boer
commandos as might chance to step in between the fangs of the British
lion. (We are already aware that the Boer commandos in this region were
far too knowing, and the anxious fangs eventually snapped on nothing at
all! Still a vast mass of the foe was held in the south-east of the Free
State while plans for the great advance northwards were being

Lord Roberts began the second act of his campaign by deploying the army
from Karee Siding as far as Wepener, a distance of some seventy miles.
Indeed, on Sunday the 22nd of April, we find that one portion of the
army was at Bushman's Kop, south of Wepener, another was near
Dewetsdorp, half-way between the latter place and Bloemfontein, another
was moving to Tweede Geluk, some twenty miles from Bloemfontein and
twenty-two from Dewetsdorp, and already in communication with General
Rundle, who was making for Dewetsdorp, while troops were also at or near
Sanna's Post and fifteen miles west--at Kranz Kraal, a valuable passage
of the Modder between Sanna's Post and the railways which for some weeks
had been much used by the Boers. All these troops were sprayed out at
distances varying from twenty to thirty miles from each other, and were
capable of getting into heliographic communication. As this somewhat
complicated machinery requires to be examined and not dismissed with a
word, it is better, if possible, to follow the commanding officers as
they each moved on his special duty.

Generals Rundle and Chermside had concentrated their divisions at
Reddersburg with a view to assisting in what was called "the big
partridge drive." The force of the united commanders moving from
Reddersburg towards Dewetsdorp was now about 15,000 strong. It was
composed of the 4th and 7th Imperial Yeomanry, the Mounted Infantry
companies of the 1st Berkshire and 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, sixty
of Montmorency's Scouts (Captain McNeil), General Campbell's Brigade,
General Boyes's Brigade, and General Allen's Brigade. The united
artillery was commanded by Colonel Jeffreys, R.A. It comprised the 38th,
69th, 74th, 77th, and 79th Field Batteries. The Boers, disposed by De
Wet, occupied a position astride the country from Leeuw Kop to Wepener,
those in the former place covering those in the latter, and _vice

About the 20th the troops, under Sir Leslie Rundle, were approaching
Dewetsdorp, keeping the Boers in a perpetual state of anxiety and
disturbance by worrying tactics which the Dutchmen were at a loss to
understand. "The idea is to keep 'em on the dance where they are," said
a Tommy who affected an interest in strategy, "keep 'em lively, so that
when they want to run they've no legs to do it with." At the same time
the Boers took their share in contributing to the life of the
proceedings, and were also the means of bringing to light more deeds of
British heroism. Early in the morning of the 20th a strong force of
Yeomanry, with Mounted Infantry and two guns, had started out over the
green pastures of the Free State to reconnoitre the enemy's left and
discover his strength. (The left was the most vulnerable point of the
foe, as, that turned, he would be cut off from Wepener and forced north
into the arms of the advancing troops.) They soon came upon the main
Boer position, and were assailed with a sharp fire from the Dutchmen. A
smart encounter, or rather a series of encounters took place, during
which the Yeomanry displayed remarkable steadiness under fire, and
executed their share of the movements with the promptness and dexterity
of seasoned--Mr. Kipling calls it "salted"--troops.

McNeil's Scouts (late poor De Montmorency's), always the first to be "in
it," observed a party of Boers racing for a desirable kopje, and
obtained permission to try and cut them off. With the party was Mr.
Winston Churchill, who, thinking that fun was in the air, put spurs to
his horse and was off with the intrepid band of scouts. For some time
there was an animated race, the Boers being nearer to the strong
eminence than the British, though less well mounted. When it came to
climbing, it seemed as though they might get the worst of it.
Rush--rush--rush went the fifty scouts; scamper--scamper--scamper went
the foe. It was almost a neck-and-neck affair, when suddenly there came
wire, and before this could be cut there were Boers in possession of the
great kopje, Boers blazing downwards as fast as muskets would allow.
Thereupon Captain McNeil shouted his orders: "Too late! back to the
other kopje. Gallop!" and all obeying, the good steeds were off as hard
as legs could carry them. And now happened the episode which singles out
the reconnaissance from numerous military undertakings of the same kind,
for it brought into notice another of the heroes of the war, whose
courageous act will not easily be forgotten. As before said, Mr. Winston
Churchill, the correspondent of the _Morning Post_, who, it may be
remembered, escaped from the Pretoria prison, was accompanying McNeil's
Scouts in their exciting expedition. No sooner was the order given to
"gallop," than Mr. Churchill made a bound for his saddle. It twisted,
the horse, alarmed by the fire, bolted, and the young man found himself
on foot and alone, with the Boers a second time within an ace of him. A
horrible vision, grown lifelike in a moment, as the vision of his past
before a drowning man, now flashed before him; the walls of the dreaded
Model School seemed to close in--nearer--nearer. But the Boers, he
decided, should not get him again without a struggle. This time he had
his pistol, he could not again be hunted down unarmed in the open. He
shouted--a despairing roar--to the scouts, who were fleeing all
unconscious of the accident that had befallen him. Then one, turning
aside, heard, stopped in his rush for life, wheeled about, grasped the
dismounted man, and an instant later, with Churchill at the back of his
saddle, was off again. Then the rifles above, at a range of only forty
yards, rippled out a deadly tune, as the flying hoofs of the horse,
wounded, and leaving behind him a track of blood, flung up the turf and
sod. Yet, from the showers of lead and dust they came out alive, and Mr.
Churchill lived to tell the tale of his miraculous rescue. Curiously
enough, the gallant scout whose action saved the journalist's life,
owned the talismanic name which moved the army as the magnet moves a
needle. Trooper Roberts was recommended to the notice of Lord Roberts by
General Rundle, for, as Mr. Churchill said, all the officers were agreed
that the man who pulled up in such a situation to help another, was
worthy of some honourable distinction.


Photo by Gregory & Co., London]

The fighting elsewhere continued with considerable heat, and the long
day was vibrant with the brawl of big guns and the cacophonous whirr of
shells. Without artillery to help in pounding the enemy, General
Brabazon decided it was useless to continue the reconnaissance; he
therefore withdrew with what some one described as "an instructive
little rear-guard action." He had done an immense amount of work,
reconnoitred, located laagers, forced the enemy to move his guns, and
generally discomfited him at the cost of less than a score of men. Now
he rested on his oars, for instructions from head-quarters arrived
advising General Rundle to wait till reinforcements should arrive before
further pressing his attack.

Accordingly, on Sunday the 22nd of April, General French was despatched
from Bloemfontein to assist. The force consisted of the 3rd and 4th
Cavalry Brigades, the Eleventh Division (General Pole-Carew's), and some
naval guns. The plan was to move to Dewetsdorp, and _en route_ to turn
out the enemy from his position at Leeuw Kop. General Dickson, with the
4th Brigade of Cavalry and a battery of Horse Artillery, was to move
towards the south-east from Springfield, so as to head off the enemy in
the event of his retreating to the east. General Stephenson, with the
18th Brigade, 83rd, 84th, and 85th Batteries, R.F.A., and two 4.7 naval
guns, was to march south and effect a junction with General Pole-Carew
and the Guards' Brigade, and Colonel Alderson's Mounted Infantry
Brigade. At Leeuw Kop, the Guards were to get round the enemy's left
flank, while a central attack was to be delivered by the 18th Brigade
under General Stephenson. The Guards (who had hitherto been protecting
the line), were met some five miles out, they having marched from
Ferriera Siding. They proceeded to the position mentioned, some fifteen
miles south-east of Bloemfontein, where the Boers were encountered. They
were found to be ensconced in the high eminence of Leeuw Kop itself, and
other kopjes thickly covered with bush in the north. Thereupon
operations began, the artillery opening the programme some five miles
off, followed by an attack late in the day on the part of the 18th
Brigade and the Guards, to front and left of the enemy's position. On
the north side of the position was a picturesque farm, towards which the
18th Brigade advanced. Five scouts were allowed to approach within a
hundred yards before the enemy fired. Then our guns (84th Battery Field
Artillery) having discovered the position, began to play upon
it--hidden though it was by high trees and shrubberies--with such
accuracy and vigour that the enemy retreated to some distant kopjes,
whence they plied their Vickers-Maxims and Mausers with a will. Shells
buzzed and bounded among them, but our men never flinched. They pursued
their way more and more to the left, in order to surround the offending
kopjes. The Warwicks in the centre, the Essex on the right, the Welsh on
the left, moving in echelon, advanced. By-and-by General Dickson's
cavalry, from its distant position, attempted to engage in the flanking
movement, and to surround the hills if possible with mounted men during
the development of the infantry attack. The operations were suddenly
overtaken by an appalling darkness, which turned out to be a flight of
locusts that came and went, leaving the land more bare than it was
before. The infantry now were pouring volleys on the kopje, whence they
were again attacked with such warmth that they had to "lie low." Their
position at this time was an unenviable one, it being too exposed for
advance, and too advanced for retirement. At last the Essex made a
glorious dash on the western slopes, while the Warwick and Welsh
regiments, wildly cheering, clambered ahead of them on the northern
heights. The Boers fired half-heartedly for a time, but were
subsequently seen careering down the eastern slopes, their sole care
being to save themselves. Unfortunately in this gallant assault, Captain
Prothero, Welsh Regiment, was mortally wounded.

The Guards, meanwhile, had extended on the right, while the Mounted
Infantry, consisting of one battalion Imperial Mounted Infantry, 1st and
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, and Strathcona's Horse (on their right)
came in for so devastating a welcome from the Creusot gun which the
enemy had posted on a neighbouring hill, that they were forced to
retire. But the artillery came to the rescue, and the Boers removed
their gun. The Dutchmen now found their numbers too meagre to hold their
line of defence, which covered a semicircular chain of kopjes on the
east, and in the morning of the 23rd all the enemy who held Leeuw Kop
were discovered to have trekked eastward. The position was ours.
Quantities of ammunition and rifles were seized, and General French had
commenced an animated chase to the south, though his cavalry were unable
to find the Boers in any strong position in the vicinity. A noticeable
feature of the day's experiences was the exhibition of the white flag on
the farmhouse, whence the Boers fired on the Canadians. These gallant
fellows came safely out of the treacherous downpour, but lost two

On the same day (the 22nd), while the other tentacles of the great
octopus, the British army, were twisting as shown, General Ian Hamilton
with his Mounted Infantry Division was moving on towards Sanna's Post
to take possession of the waterworks there. As the enemy in some
strength was holding the neighbouring hills, it was found necessary to
despatch the Ninth Division, consisting of Smith-Dorien's and
MacDonald's Brigades, to the support of General Ian Hamilton. With these
movements we must deal anon. As Sanna's Post is situated some twenty
miles from Tweede Geluk (where the Eleventh Division was operating), and
twenty-five from the road to Dewetsdorp, near where we have left General
Rundle, the nicety of the disposition of the troops in their relation to
each other may be appreciated.

Moving almost at the same time, was Maxwell's (late Chermside's) Brigade
(Seventh Division), which marched eastward and seized the hills covering
the waggon-bridge over the Modder River at Kranz Kraal--the bridge whose
utility to the Boers has been described.

Meanwhile General Brabant with his Mounted Division and General Hart's
Brigade from Rouxville, had reached the vicinity of Bushman's Kop, some
fourteen miles from Wepener. The bulk of the Boer force had opposed
themselves to this advance, and during this time the strain on Colonel
Dalgety at Wepener had naturally been relaxed. By Monday, the 23rd, the
Colonial Division, supported by Hart's Brigade, had turned the Boer
position, after having kept up a running fight all day. The casualties
of the fight were twenty-five wounded. Some of these were removed to
Basutoland, under arrangement with the resident Commissioner at
Mafeteng. General Brabant was moving in a north-easterly direction,
keeping Basutoland on his right flank, his operations being watched with
amazing interest by the natives in this region. He was now some eight
miles from Wepener and sixty from Bloemfontein, and in heliographic
communication with Dalgety, a circumstance which caused the Boers round
Wepener to grow uneasy as to their positions.

To return to General Pole-Carew. On the morning of Monday, the 23rd, the
Boers, as we know, were found to have evacuated their main position at
Leeuw Kop, and the Mounted Infantry took possession of the hill from
which the enemy had been routed by the infantry. General French by then
had moved on independently of his transport. Boers were known to be in
the southern fringes of the Leeuw Kop position, but, without engaging
them, General French pushed on, posting the 16th Lancers to keep an eye
on his flank, till they should be relieved by the mounted troops which
were following. Meanwhile, slowly in the rear, screened by the 4th
Mounted Infantry, General Pole-Carew advanced his division and baggage
train, and sent Roberts's Horse to relieve the 16th Lancers on the hill
they were holding. The relievers came in for nasty attentions from a
Maxim, but in spite of this they behaved with great gallantry, made for
the kopje on which the Boers were ensconced, and finally cleared the
summit. But this was not accomplished without lamentable loss. Major
Brazier Creagh, 9th Bengal Lancers, who but recently had succeeded to
the command of the regiment, was mortally wounded. Presently, to the
assistance of Roberts's Horse came the 14th Hussars, squadrons of which
regiment distributed themselves in hope of cutting off the enemy in
retreat, but the Dutchmen, with all smartness, plied their guns till it
was deemed best to retire, leaving the 2nd Coldstreams in the original
position gained.

[Illustration: THE OPERATIONS AT DEWETSDORP. (A Sketch from the Right of
the Boer Position, by Major A. Festing.)]

The cavalry soon became engaged. The Boers were espied in a long, low
kopje to the east and west of the Dewetsdorp Road, the wide, flat ridge
of which General French meant to seize. The 9th Lancers advanced to
secure it, but the Boers instantly raced for the most advantageous
position, with the result that while the troopers planted themselves on
one edge of the plateau the Boers did likewise on the other. An animated
combat ensued, the Lancers fighting most pluckily. The Boers offered
determined resistance, whereon a "pom-pom" was ordered to the rescue
of the Lancers, who were losing heavily. This weapon disturbed the
efforts of the Dutchmen to sweep onwards, and soon they were put to
flight, the "pom-poms" of the British harrying them in their retreat.
The cavalry engagement was a pretty affair but costly, the dashing
Lancers, enfiladed with a cruel fire, losing one officer, Captain Denny,
K.D.G.'s, three wounded, and thirty-two men killed and wounded. The
wounded officers were Captain H. F. W. Stanley, 9th Lancers, Lieutenant
V. R. Brooke, 9th Lancers, and Lieutenant the Hon. A. W. J. C.
Skeffington, 17th Lancers.


(Corporal) (Officer)


Photo by Gregory & Co., London]

General Pole-Carew, whose object was to establish communications with
General Rundle, and for that purpose was advancing his division, with
baggage train, as quickly as possible, now appeared in the direction of
the main kopje, where the Boers for some days had been hiding. Here
Roberts's Horse came into action; they located the position, which was
shelled with great vigour, while at the base was a containing line of
the Warwickshire Regiment, which enabled the General to pass with
division and baggage, almost under the nose of the enemy, in perfect
safety. The Boers made a struggle to arrest the passage of the column,
but it was a feeble one. They opened fire from the ridge where they had
first ensconced themselves, and past which General Pole-Carew had to
march, but the guns of the 85th Battery made their acquaintance with
such scant ceremony and so much warmth that there was a stampede. After
a few shots had burst into some groups of Boers they all speedily got
out of range, taking with them their baggage and guns.

General Rundle, who as we know was waiting to march on Dewetsdorp, now
communicated by heliograph that there were some 7000 of the enemy in his
vicinity, and also that the country in front was crowded with low hills
in which they might be hidden; but General Pole-Carew proceeded boldly
to advance, and in his advance made some very necessary reprisals on
such farmers, who, preferring covert-guile to open war, had been found
aiding the enemy after receiving lenient treatment at our hands. He had
previously set fire to a farmhouse whence, with a white flag flying over
it, the Boers on Sunday had fired on our men. The farmers were told they
could no longer play their double games, acting as they did at one
moment the slim warrior, and the next the pastoral innocent.

Meanwhile General Rundle with some 2500 Boers in front of him was
waiting till he should get into touch with General Pole-Carew. He was
warned by heliograph of the approach of the 4th Cavalry Brigade and of
General French, and throughout the 23rd there was little done save
running the gantlet of shells which the Boers persistently fired but
without doing serious damage. The Yeomanry, who already had shown
remarkable "grit," received considerable attention from the "Creusots"
of the enemy, who were apparently holding on to all their eastern
positions regardless of the fact that the gigantic prongs of the steel
trap which was being prepared for them were shortly about to close. All
the forces were now gradually getting in touch with each other, and the
Dutchmen's days were numbered. So it was thought on the night of the
23rd. The 24th broke quietly. No shot was fired. Rundle's force swung to
the left, pivoted on Chermside, who remained in defence of the position,
while the mounted brigade protected the outer flank. In this General
French, now arrived from the north, also assisted, and proceeded to turn
the enemy's left. The British movements were conducted with due silence
and secrecy, they being determined to produce a surprise for the Boers.
The surprise "came off," as the saying is, but it was on the wrong side.
When the men creeping up the stony kopje came to peer for the enemy in
the trenches they found--merely trenches. "Not a bloomin' Boer
anywhere," cried a disgusted Tommy, kicking the quiet boulders with a
dilapidated boot! The Dutchmen were galloping to Ladybrand. The
magnificent web that had been prepared for them was empty.

An officer in the Royal Scots gave some interesting details regarding
the part taken by the Third Division in this somewhat complex

     "At this time we heard rumours that one of our mounted
     companies, the one commanded by Captain Molyneux-Seel, was,
     together with the Colonial Division, besieged at Wepener. This
     proved to be correct. At 1.30 A.M. on 12th April we got orders
     to march at 9 A.M., under General Chermside, who had taken over
     the command of the Third Division from General Gatacre, towards
     Dewetsdorp and Wepener, to the relief of the column at Wepener.
     We reached Reddersburg that afternoon. The rain came on late
     that evening, and literally flooded us out. Every officer and
     man was up from midnight, running about trying to keep warm. We
     had been without tents since 31st March, and are still without
     them (17th May). On 14th April we moved forward again and
     reached Rosendal, the scene of the recent disaster to the three
     companies of the Royal Irish Rifles and Mounted Company of the
     Northumberland Fusiliers. Graves, shells, cartridges, &c., here
     showed the tough work they had had. We remained at Rosendal
     waiting for the Eighth Division to come up until 19th, and had
     a very wet time of it. We marched again on 19th towards
     Dewetsdorp, about ten miles, when we went into bivouac. On 20th
     we moved off at 6 A.M., and after marching some six or seven
     miles we found the enemy in a position of very great strength
     covering Dewetsdorp. Our mounted infantry and artillery drove
     in the advanced posts, and we established ourselves on the
     Wakkerstroom Hills, in front of the enemy's position. It was
     then quite dark. We cooked our dinners as best we could, and
     lay down and slept the sleep of the just. I forgot to say that
     we found it very difficult to put out our outpost pickets in
     the dark, and one unfortunate party, belonging to the
     Worcestershire Regiment, actually walked into the enemy's lines
     and were captured."

The circumstances of the capture were these. A party of some twenty-five
cooks and mates were carrying food to their comrades on the top of a
hill. In climbing, dinner in hand, they sought an easy place of ascent,
and while doing so, moved too far and found themselves practically in
the Boers' arms. Another portion of this unlucky regiment, a few days
later, was drawn up for "foot and arms" inspection, and while thus
exposed made a target for the enemy, who promptly seized the opportunity
and killed two and wounded four of the men. Continuing his story, the
officer before quoted said:--

     "At 6.15 A.M. on the 21st we were standing under arms, with
     extra ammunition issued, awaiting orders, when, "boom," the
     first gun had been fired, and the shell burst some 300 yards to
     our left. To cut a long story short, the battalion remained in
     reserve that day with the rest of the brigade, and also the
     next day, but early on the 23rd we were moved up to the first
     line. The battalion was on the right of a battery of artillery,
     behind the crest of the hill on a gentle slope. Except for the
     men in the trenches our position was unknown to the enemy, but
     the mere fact of manning the trenches was sufficient to draw
     fire, and in less than half-an-hour we had four of the men who
     were with the main body of the battalion behind the brow hit.
     The bullets flew all round us, and went "phut, phut" into the
     ground at our feet, and it is strange that more did not find
     resting-places in our bodies. In half-an-hour we had thrown up
     parapets in front of each company, behind which the men were
     safe, and we suffered no more casualties. All that day and the
     next we remained in this position. It was most interesting
     watching the shells as they burst amongst our trenches, around
     the gunners, and over ourselves. The Boers had nine guns, and,
     I believe, 5000 men. Amongst the guns was a quick-firer, a
     9-pounder Krupp gun, a high-velocity gun, and two pom-poms. The
     last-named are unpleasant to the senses, but do little harm.
     The noise of the discharge resembles in the distance the
     knocking at a door, and the men constantly replied, 'Come in,'
     cheery and fearless fellows that they are! On the early morning
     of the 25th (?) we missed our usual awakener of guns and
     pom-poms, and eventually we found the Boers had evacuated their
     positions, and, alas! had escaped us and Generals French and
     Hart. We at once pushed forward on to Dewetsdorp."

After all the marching and turning and fighting and manoeuvring the
knowing hordes had been able to steal off from every part of their
horse-shoe position round Wepener entirely without chastisement! Here
were five infantry and three cavalry brigades with more than seventy
guns engaged in surrounding them, and yet they had succeeded in slipping
through our fingers! Quite quietly, on the night of the 22nd, they had
sent off their waggons; on the 23rd they had taken a parting kick at
Wepener; and on the 24th they had retreated--"silently stolen away" to
Ladybrand--while part of their force before Dewetsdorp, acting as a
covering party, had retired on Thabanchu. That we were foiled and fooled
may in a measure have been due to some tactical bungling, but certain
it was that the Boers had superior advantages, for they were moving in a
country entirely friendly to them, were well informed of all our
intentions and movements, and were assisted in all their schemes by
so-called farmers who, subtle and shifty, had comfortably surrendered
the better to engage in covert operations which, while replenishing
their pockets, did not imperil their skins! Moreover they escaped scot
free, because Lord Roberts was not inclined to fritter more of his
troops on side issues while the great object of the campaign, the
seizure of Pretoria and the crippling of the Boers for prolonged
military operations, was occupying his entire attention. The capture of
De Wet's forces, or a part of them, was of secondary importance in
comparison to the protection of railway communication with the sea base,
and De Wet's minor successes, even when the disasters of Koorn Spruit
and Reddersburg were counted among them, were not sufficient to frighten
the Chief into a change of his larger strategical design.

Pursuit being useless, General French sent General Brabazon to the
relief of Wepener (which was already free), and he himself occupied
Dewetsdorp. On the 25th, however, he received orders from Bloemfontein
to chase the Boers to Thabanchu, which, at dawn, he proceeded to do,
followed later by General Rundle and the Eighth Division. Meanwhile part
of the Third Division under Chermside kept the Union Jack floating in
Dewetsdorp and watched over the outlying districts. General Pole-Carew,
his work in the south done, started for Bloemfontein to prepare for the
main advance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then followed a glorious march into Wepener. Generals Hart and Brabant
riding to Jammersberg Drift were cheered with enthusiasm, and the former
General congratulated the defenders on their dogged pluck, and declared
that the credit of the relief was due to General Brabant, "with whom it
was an honour to serve." General Brabant, on his side, was loud in
praise of the gallant Colonials, and of the assistance given him by the
Cape Field Artillery, declaring that the very first time they came into
action they saved him at a critical moment. His story merits repetition.
He was advancing to the relief of Wepener, and had to take Bester's Kop,
a very difficult position indeed, and he had to turn the position and
leave his infantry supports a long way behind him and make a wide sweep
round. In doing so his force came suddenly upon a body of the enemy
within 190 yards of them. For a few minutes the enemy made it very warm.
The General called up two guns under Lieutenant Janisch. He knew, he
said, that Lieutenant Janisch's gunners had never been in action before,
and in the circumstances he was a little doubtful as to how they would
behave. But what did Lieutenant Janisch do? He at once set to work,
and under a terrible fire, with shrapnel at 650 yards, and any man
who knew what that meant, or who had seen it done as he had, would say
that it was marvellously well done, with perfect coolness--with the
coolness of veterans. In ten minutes Lieutenant Janisch had cleared the
hillside. That, said the General, was a grand thing for men to do, men
who, many of them, had never seen a shot fired in anger, and he had
drawn the attention of the Commander-in-chief to the fact. There were no
braver men in the service than the Royal Artillery, but the R.A. could
not possibly have behaved better than the Cape Field Artillery did, and
his only regret was that he could not get the other guns under Major




Photo by Gregory & Co., London]

       *       *       *       *       *

The Colonials afterwards proceeded to join General Rundle's force, as
the enemy, to avoid being caught, was now "on the run." Flying
north-eastward along the Ladybrand Road some three or four thousand of
them went as fast as legs, equine and human, would carry them. They
evacuated the kopjes near the waterworks, they bolted from the
neighbourhood of Dewetsdorp, they rushed from Jammersberg Drift--in
fact, as the jovial Colonials said, "the enemy conjugated the verb to
skedaddle" from all positions in a masterly manner. They were getting
good practice, but they began to fear that there were others who might
learn to cut across country besides themselves.

On the 28th General Brabazon, having completed his work at Wepener,
moved _via_ Dewetsdorp on the way towards Thabanchu. As he was nearing
this place he suddenly became aware that a British convoy had been
caught in between the hills and was being briskly shelled by the Boers.
Promptly he bribed a Kaffir to worm through the Boer lines and convey to
the sturdy Yeomanry who were defending the convoy, the advice to hold on
till he should advance to their aid. The message was delivered, and the
Yeomanry stuck out manfully until, at dawn, the General and his Yeomanry
came upon the scene. Thereupon the Boers, with their usual astuteness,
made off, while rescuers and rescued alike pursued their way in triumph
to Thabanchu.

Soon Wepener was deserted. The British in that locality took refuge in
Mafeteng, while the troops which had evacuated the place were sweeping
up the Free State after the Federals. These "slimly" enough were getting
away with herds, and stores, and guns without being caught in any very
huge numbers. A large party of Free Staters had taken up a truculent
position to the north of Thabanchu Mountain, for the purpose of
protecting their fellows and covering the withdrawal of their waggon
convoys from the south, and they succeeded in taking with them the
twenty-five prisoners of the Worcesters, who had unwarily dropped into
their clutches at Dewetsdorp. The Transvaalers, on the other hand, at
the instance of President Kruger, were trekking towards the north in
order to save their energies for coming operations across the Vaal, but
they took good care before leaving to make themselves as obnoxious as
possible to such farmers as had surrendered to the British Government.



We left General Ian Hamilton on April 22nd, starting from Bloemfontein
to take possession of the waterworks at Sanna's Post. His force was
composed of about 2000 Light Horse, Australians and Mounted Infantry,
and one battery of Horse Artillery; but following him closely, as has
been said, came the Ninth Division, consisting of Smith-Dorrien's and
MacDonald's Brigades. On reaching the waterworks the General decided,
after reconnoitring, that they were but weakly held, and proceeded to
attack the enemy, drive him into the distant hills, and recapture the
waterworks and the drift over the river. The enemy had removed the
eccentrics from the waterworks, thinking to paralyse British operations
for a month or two, but it soon became evident that the mechanists in
Bloemfontein were prepared to manufacture new ones at short notice. The
drift was occupied on the 24th, and the enemy, for reasons above
mentioned, made his way to a formidable position behind Thabanchu,
whither it was decided he must be chased, and speedily.

On the same day 800 Boers were found at Israel's Poort, some seven miles
from Thabanchu. Their demeanour was aggressive. They were posted on a
semicircle of small kopjes, carefully entrenched and protected by two
guns and barbed-wire entanglements. General Ian Hamilton decided that
the Dutchmen must be removed, and removed they were, mainly by the
gallantry of the Canadians and the Shropshires, supported by the
Grahamstown Horse. With remarkable celerity the hills were cleared and
the Boers driven off. The Canadians, commanded by Colonel Otter,
approached by clever successive rushes to the foot of the kopjes before
the Boers opened fire. Then, in the midst of a sharp volley from the
enemy they came on the barbed-wire entanglements, but, undaunted, cut or
cleared them, and with a gallant rush ascended the hill. With great
ingenuity they took whatever cover they could, while from above, the
storm from the hostile Mausers--which during the engagement had doubled
in number--grew hotter and hotter. Colonel Otter was struck in the neck,
but pursued his way, cheering on his gallant men. Presently another
bullet found him out; tore from his shoulder its badge, but did no
further damage. Still up they all went, with a glorious, an inspiriting
yell, which apparently sent the Federals scudding into space. The crest
of the hill was now the property of the Canadians and the Grahamstown
Volunteers, who unfortunately lost a valuable officer--Captain Gethin.
The Canadian losses were not so heavy as might have been expected, owing
to the skill with which their advance was arranged and carried out; but
the splendid turning movement was not without cost to others. During the
fight Major Marshall (Grahamstown Mounted Rifles) was severely wounded,
and also Lieutenants Murray, Winnery, Barry, Hill, and Rawal. Colonel
Otter (Canadian Regiment), as has been said, was only slightly injured.
The same night General Hamilton occupied Thabanchu.

On the 25th General French, as we know, had received orders from
head-quarters to pursue the enemy in his retreat northwards to
Thabanchu. Here the cavalry, covering Rundle's advance, arrived at
midday on Friday the 27th to find General Ian Hamilton engaged with a
horde of Boers temporarily routed, but holding a threatening position to
the east of the place. An effort was made to dislodge the Dutchmen
entirely. Cavalry and Mounted Infantry were sent to either flank, while
the infantry advanced in front. But the mounted force was small, and
moreover dreadfully fatigued (they having endured considerable
hardships--half-rations among them--in the hurried march to Thabanchu),
while the Boer position, as usual, was extensive, and therefore the
cavalry was recalled. The Boers followed up the retirement with great
skill, pressing so closely on the troops as to cause considerable
anxiety, particularly for the safety of Kitchener's Horse, which did not
get clear away till midnight. It was evident that the foe was bent on
making valiant and despairing efforts to arrest the progress of the
troops towards the east. From this part of the Orange Free State, in the
neighbourhood of Ladybrand and Ficksburg, they drew their corn and other
supplies, and these they were determined not to relinquish without a

During the day's engagement Lieutenant Geary, Hampshire Regiment, was
killed, and Captain Warren, of Kitchener's Horse, was severely wounded.

Meanwhile General Rundle with the Eighth Division had arrived from
Dewetsdorp. The advance of Generals Rundle and Chermside towards the
north had had the effect of a vast sweeping machine. The country south
and east had gradually been scoured of the enemy, with the result that
he was gathered--and very cleverly gathered!--in a heap in the hills
around Thabanchu. Some of the Transvaalers, however, were returning to
their farms, while others were scuttling across country, retiring "the
better to jump," as the French would say.

General Pole-Carew's march and prompt measures were also producing
excellent effects, and helping to correct the misunderstandings created
in the ignorant mind by British leniency. Till now the Boers had not
been taught that there was necessity for honour even among foes, but now
the General took drastic measures to show burghers on whose farms he
found rifles that British "magnanimity" was not without its limits.
Wherever these turncoats were found their horses and cattle were
captured, their meal and provisions destroyed or carried off. In this
way the delinquents were punished, and the Federal Army was crippled in
the matter of supplies. Generals Pole-Carew and Stephenson, in
conjunction with General Rundle's advance, and acting on information
from the Intelligence Department, had made a round of certain farms in
the district of Leeuw Kop, and everywhere propagated their wholesome
lesson. The women and children, however, were treated with great
consideration. There were, of course, tragic moments with these
weaklings, whose notions of morality in the art of war were nil. All
that interested them was to preserve their homesteads, and sell at as
profitable rates as possible their goods to the first British buyer who
had money in his pocket. They saw no sin in declaring they had no
concealed ammunition when the place was stocked with it, or in handing
out a few disabled rifles and burying the better ones for use "on a
rainy day." Only when General Pole-Carew insisted that the Boers should
give up with their Mausers a reasonable amount of ammunition, on pain of
being seized as prisoners of war, were Mausers and ammunition in plenty
forthcoming. There was now no doubt that these prompt measures helped to
clear the military situation with astonishing rapidity. A typical
conversation which conveyed a world of instruction took place during one
of General Pole-Carew's invasions. A young Transvaal prisoner, who was
standing among the confiscated goods from many farms, was questioned how
long he thought the war would last. He cast a rueful glance at the
commandeered effects, and said, "Not long, if this continues!" General
Pole-Carew could have had no greater compliment to his acumen in dealing
with what for more than a month past had been a perplexing problem!

So far, things were progressing favourably. At Bloemfontein there had
been some fear of a water famine, but the recent rains had beneficently
filled the dams, and good drinking-water was obtained by boring. The
repairs of the damage done by the Boers to the waterworks went on apace,
and at the same time arrangements for the general advance northwards
were approaching completion. It was decided that the task of continuing
the sweeping operations in the south-eastern corner of the Free State
should be assigned to General Sir Leslie Rundle, and to this end he was
to be left at Thabanchu in command of the Eighth Division, plus some 800
Imperial Yeomanry under General Brabazon, while Generals French and
Hamilton proceeded north.

Thabanchu, on account of its strategical importance, both in view of its
proximity to Bloemfontein and of checking further raids, the British
determined to hold, and hold firmly, for the future. Accordingly at dawn
on the 28th General French directed a great movement for the purpose of
entirely routing the Boers from its neighbourhood. This was easier in
conception than accomplishment. General Gordon's Cavalry Brigade moved
round the left, the Mounted Infantry with General Smith-Dorrien's
Infantry Brigade assailed the right, while General Rundle's somewhat
worn-out division held the front of the enemy's position. The Boer left
was so strong that General Gordon had to content himself with merely
hammering at it, but the Boer right crumbled away before General
Hamilton's advance, and opened a road for General Dickson's Cavalry
Brigade, which, once having dashed through, sent the Boers scampering
like goats from ridge to ridge. In a few moments it seemed that, with
the British in the rear of their hill, the Dutchmen would be enclosed.
Quickly came General Hamilton with such troops as he could muster to
effect this desired consummation; but more quickly still, and with
surprising regularity and precision, the Boer hordes, moving with such
discipline as to be mistaken for a British mounted brigade, marched off
to the north-east, while others of their huge numbers returned in force,
harassed General Dickson's left and rear, and forced him in his turn
quickly to retire. Thus ended a laudable effort.


The operations around Thabanchu and Ladybrand had therefore to be
briskly continued, for at this time General Rundle stood in hourly
danger of being invested, and General French with his flying warriors in
a region of hill and dale was somewhat handicapped in his ability to
help him. Still he kept a magnetic eye on the enemy which served to hold
him, while General Ian Hamilton, moving on the left, prepared if
possible to proceed forwards and join the main advance.



The evil effects of British leniency became still more evident. A
hostile society had been organised in Bloemfontein for the purpose of
communicating with the enemy and arming surreptitiously at the
neighbouring farms. Spies carried news of the British movements, and
messengers came in and out under pretext of bringing their goods to
market. In short, it was discovered that the outlying farmers were
developing into secret-service agents, and were, moreover, lending
themselves to the atrocious practice of flying white flags for the
purpose of firing at short ranges at unwary patrols. It was found
necessary to meet such duplicity with stern reprisals, and following the
example set by Moltke in '71, when it was incumbent on him to protect
his communications from _franc-tireurs_, it was decided that strongest
measures must be resorted to to prevent abuse of confidence in the
future. Lord Roberts had tried magnanimity and it had failed. He now
determined that a severe course must be adopted by which offenders in
future might be made to suffer for acts of duplicity in property and in
person. Accordingly, no one was permitted to pass in and out of
Bloemfontein, the enemy was deprived of their horses in order that their
activity in despatch riding might be limited, and the discovery of
hidden cartridges or suspicious documents were in future to be looked
upon as sufficient to convict. Various residents in the town were tried
on charges of concealing arms and ammunition, and sentenced to a year's
imprisonment respectively, while their property was confiscated. These
examples were productive of almost instantaneous good result, for
unprecedented supplies were pouring into Bloemfontein. General
Pole-Carew, who returned to the capital on the 29th of April, had done
wonderful work in correcting the abuses that early leniency had brought
about. Wherever farmers who had made their submission were discovered to
be again fighting, their property had been confiscated. Forage had been
taken and receipts given as a rule, thus preventing the surrounding
farms from becoming depôts for the enemy. Such precautions adopted
earlier would have averted many bloody tussles and much inconvenience
and loss of time, for _sans_ forage the raiding capabilities of the
various commandos would have been sorely handicapped.

However, even chieftains may live and learn, and Lord Roberts applied
himself quickly to the lesson that was forced on him by the ingratitude
of the conquered. At the same time the last strokes were being put to
the preparations for the great onward march. The regiments were
exchanging their tattered and battered cotton khaki for woollen suits,
wherewith to meet the change of season, and their soleless boots were
being replaced by new ones. All this transmogrification was not to be
accomplished in haste, for the same reason that made it impossible to
bring up necessaries for the hospital. The line of rail was groaning
with the enormous bulk of provisions needful to sustain the bare life of
the force, and consequently such matters as raiment and equipment had to
take a secondary place among the urgent needs of the moment. General
Pole-Carew's Division, after a hard bout of fighting, no sooner returned
than it made ready to engage in the pending operations.

The day being Sunday (the 29th), the Field-Marshal, accompanied by Lady
Roberts and their daughter, attended divine service at the Cathedral, a
last family reunion previous to setting off on the unknown--the great
march to Pretoria. At that time none could guess what form of resistance
the burghers of Johannesburg and Pretoria might take it into their heads
to offer, and fearful threats to stagger humanity by blowing up the
mines and committing various other acts of barbarism were bruited

Fever still raged in the town, and as many as 3000 patients were said to
be in hospital. The outburst of sickness, due in the first instance to
the polluted conditions surrounding Cronje's camp at Paardeberg, was
accelerated by the lack of water after the affair at Koorn Spruit, when
the triumphant Boers captured and disabled the waterworks and deprived
the town of pure water, leaving the population dependent for
drinking-water on wells which, in many cases, were merely sinks of

Nevertheless, the red business of war had to be pursued at all costs,
and May Day was kept in martial manner. With dawn came the music of
bands innumerable and inspiriting, and the mighty clangour of armed men,
of clamping steeds, of rolling waggons. Pole-Carew and his division were
starting for Karee Siding, _en route_ for the great, it was hoped, the
final move! In the market-square, to watch the march past of the brigade
of goodly Guardsman, of stalwart Welsh, Warwick, Essex, and York
regiments, stood Lord Roberts, Lady Roberts, and their daughter. It was
a grand though workmanly spectacle, the bearded veterans in their
woollen khaki being laden with blankets, macintoshes, haversacks, and in
some cases, countrymen's bandanna bundles stocked with good things.
Though this may be looked on as the beginning of the general exodus, the
Chief himself did not move till later.


Photo by Johnston & Hoffmann, Simla]

Before starting off Lord Roberts made elaborate arrangements for
simultaneous movement in other parts of the theatre of war. Wepener
relieved, Hart's Brigade was sent to join Barton's at Kimberley. At that
place there was therefore the complete Tenth Division under General
Hunter, and Lord Methuen's redistributed division comprising the
brigades under Generals Douglas and Paget. Elsewhere, wheel was arranged
to move within wheel.

Lord Roberts's programme seemed simple enough--on paper. He, with a
portion of his army, the Seventh and Eleventh Divisions, intended to
advance with speed and on the broadest front possible, hugging the
railway line (astride which the Boer positions were sure to be found),
till he should have reached the capital of the Transvaal and struck a
blow which should destroy the arrogant hopes of President Kruger and
demonstrate to the Boers the futility of further resistance. At the same
time, on the east of the line, a strong detachment was to keep an eye on
the hovering hordes of Dutchmen which still lingered there, while
further still, Sir Redvers Buller was to advance along the railway from
Ladysmith, and if possible to join hands with the main army later on
during the operations. Simultaneously, on the west, the relief of
Mafeking was to be attempted by a flying column, while both Hunter's and
Methuen's divisions in support acted in concert, and further held
themselves in readiness to advance and join in the general operations
should occasion demand.

The main army, consisting of the Seventh and Eleventh Divisions, was to
march, as said, on the broadest possible front; the left wing--the
cavalry under General French--to proceed in advance over the open
country; while the right wing, also in advance, commanded by General Ian
Hamilton, was to perform a sweeping movement throughout the Boer-haunted
regions along the Winburg, Ventersburg, and Kroonstadt roads, and
threaten in turn the defensive positions of the foe, forcing them
everywhere to choose between investment or retreat.

The troops acting in concert with Lord Roberts in his second great
advance were distributed as follows:--

_Commanding-in-chief_--FIELD-MARSHAL LORD ROBERTS.


Lieutenant-General G. TUCKER.

       14th Brigade (Major-General J. G. Maxwell).

     2nd Norfolk.
     2nd Lincoln.
     1st King's Own Scottish Borderers.
     2nd Hants.

       15th Brigade (Major-General A. G. Wavell).

     2nd Cheshire.
     1st East Lancashire.
     2nd South Wales Borderers.
     2nd North Stafford.

     18th, 62nd, 75th Field Batteries.
     9th Company Royal Engineers.


Lieutenant-General Sir H. E. COLVILLE.

(Temporarily broken up.)

       3rd Brigade (Major-General H. A. MacDonald).

     1st Argyll and Sutherland.
     2nd Seaforth Highlanders.
     2nd Royal Highlanders (Black Watch).


Lieutenant-General R. POLE-CAREW.

       1st Brigade (Major-General Inigo R. Jones).

     3rd Grenadier Guards.
     1st Coldstream Guards.
     2nd Coldstream Guards.
     1st Scots Guards.

       18th Brigade (Major-General T. E. Stephenson).

     1st Essex.
     1st Yorkshire.
     1st Welsh.
     2nd Royal Warwickshire.

     83rd, 84th, and 85th Field Batteries.


Lieutenant-General J. D. P. FRENCH.

       1st Brigade (Brigadier-General T. C. Porter).

     6th Dragoon Guards.
     6th Dragoons.
     2nd Dragoons.

       2nd Brigade (Brigadier-General R. G. Broadwood).

     10th Hussars.
     12th Lancers.
     Household Cavalry.

       3rd Brigade (Brigadier-General J. R. P. Gordon).

     9th Lancers.
     16th Lancers.
     17th Lancers.

       4th Brigade (Major-General J. B. B. Dickson).

     7th Dragoon Guards.
     8th Hussars.
     14th Hussars.

     G, J, O, P, Q, R, T, U Batteries Horse Artillery.


Lieutenant-General IAN HAMILTON.

       1st Brigade (Major-General E. T. H. Hutton).

         1st Corps (Colonel E. A. H. Alderson).

     1st Canadian Mounted Rifles.
     2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles.
     Lord Strathcona's Corps.
     One Battalion Imperial Mounted Infantry.

         2nd Corps (Colonel de Lisle).

     New South Wales Mounted Infantry.
     West Australian Mounted Infantry.

         3rd Corps (Colonel T. D. Pilcher).

     Queensland Mounted Infantry.
     New Zealand Mounted Infantry.
     One Battalion Imperial Mounted Infantry.

         4th Corps (Colonel Henry).

     Victorian Mounted Infantry.
     South Australian Mounted Infantry.
     Tasmanian Mounted Infantry.
     One Battalion Imperial Mounted Infantry.

       2nd Brigade (Major-General Ridley).

     South African Irregulars Mounted Infantry.
     Several Batteries Artillery.


(Temporarily attached to Mounted Infantry Division.)

Major-General H. L. Smith-Dorrien.

       19th Brigade (Colonel J. Spens).

     2nd Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.
     2nd Shropshire Light Infantry.
     1st Gordon Highlanders.
     Canadian Regiment.

       21st Brigade (Major-General Bruce Hamilton).

     1st Derbyshire.
     1st Royal Sussex.
     1st Cameron Highlanders.
     City Imperial Volunteers.


Lieutenant-General Sir H. M. L. RUNDLE.

       16th Brigade (Major-General B. B. D. Campbell).

     2nd Grenadier Guards.
     2nd Scots Guards.
     2nd East Yorks.
     1st Leinster.

       17th Brigade (Major-General J. E. Boyes).

     1st Worcester.
     2nd Royal West Kent.
     1st South Stafford.
     2nd Manchester.

     Brigade Division Royal Field Artillery.
     5th Company Royal Engineers.


Lieutenant-General Sir H. G. CHERMSIDE.

       22nd Brigade (Major-General R. E. Allen).

     2nd Royal Irish Rifles.
     2nd Northumberland Fusiliers.
     1st Royal Scots.
     2nd Berkshire.

       23rd Brigade (Major-General W. G. Knox).

         (Composition not known.)

     74th, 77th, and 79th Field Batteries.


Major-General BRABANT.

     Cape Mounted Rifles.
     Kaffrarian Mounted Rifles.
     Montmorency's Scouts (200).
     Brabant's Horse (1200).
     Border Horse.
     Frontier Mounted Rifles.
     Queenstown Volunteers.
     Cape Garrison Artillery.
     Two naval 12-pounders.


Lieutenant-General T. KELLY-KENNY.

       12th Brigade (Major-General Clements).

     2nd Worcestershire.
     2nd Bedfordshire.
     2nd Wiltshire.
     1st Royal Irish Regiment.

       13th Brigade (Major-General C. E. Knox).

     2nd East Kent.
     1st Oxfordshire Light Infantry.
     1st West Riding.
     2nd Gloucester.

     76th, 81st, and 82nd Field Batteries.
     38th Company Royal Engineers.


(Brigades not known.)

     Highland Light Infantry.
     1st Suffolk.
     Roberts's Horse.
     Kitchener's Horse.
     Marshall's Horse (Grahamstown Volunteers).
     1st Battalion Imperial Yeomanry.
     4th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry.
     7th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry.
     8th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry.
     11th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry.
     C.I.V. Mounted Infantry.
     Ceylon Mounted Infantry.
     Lumsden's Horse.
     Lord Loch's Horse.

     43rd, 65th, 86th, and 87th Howitzer Batteries.
     2nd, 5th, 8th, 9th, 17th, 38th, 39th, 68th, and 88th Field Batteries.
     Eight naval 4.7-in. guns.
     Part of Siege Train.

The advance may be said really to have commenced on the 30th of April,
with the departure on the one hand of General Ian Hamilton from
Thabanchu, followed rapidly on the other by General French. The
Field-Marshal, as stated, did not move for a day or two later. When he
did so, events succeeded each other with the precision of clockwork. The
hundred and twenty miles from Bloemfontein to Kroonstadt was
accomplished in a fortnight, and may be described as an almost bloodless
progress. Many glorious deeds were done, and some lives were lost; but
this march must be looked on as a whole, and not viewed in detail. There
were at least no decisive battles. Every step, marvellously organised
and magnificently carried out, became a development of the pushing-on
system by a species of skilfully devised military pressure from all
parts. The enemy was driven from point to point, now fighting, now
retreating, destroying water-tanks and pumping adjuncts, blowing up
bridges and twisting rails, as a natural consequence of his spite; while
the British, sprayed out over the country, made an almost triumphal
progress, routing the enemy from every stronghold, and capturing waggons
and prisoners by the way.

Brandfort, whither the Boers had departed after the battle of Karree,
was occupied by Lord Roberts on the 3rd of May, the Boers, under General
Delarey, vacating their strongholds south of the town and retreating
towards the north-east. Brandfort is merely a village situated some
thirty-six miles north of Bloemfontein, and owes its importance to the
fact that it is situated on the direct road to Kroonstadt.

A reconnaissance was made there some four days previous to the advance,
when a grievous though heroical incident took place, which cannot be
overlooked, as it serves to show the stuff of which the men of Lumsden's
Horse were made. Some twenty-five of the Behar Section, who were holding
a detached kopje during the reconnaissance, were surrounded and fired on
in their isolated position by some 200 Boers. The officer commanding
(Lieutenant Crane) was almost instantly wounded, so also was
Sergeant-Major Marsham. Two gallant troopers, Case and Firth, though
well aware that they were outnumbered and that surrender in the
circumstances would be justifiable, refused to desert their officer,
though ordered by him to do so, and continued valiantly to fire till
they themselves dropped dead, a sacrifice to their own gallantry. Nor
were the rest of the band less remarkable for "grit," for out of the
small number holding the kopje nine were wounded and five killed! It was
hoped on the arrival of the army at Brandfort that the wounded prisoners
might be recovered, but it was afterwards found that the Boers had
removed them.

To return to the main advance. The town was occupied without serious
opposition, as the Dutch hosts, some 4000 of them, who had declared
their intention of fighting to the bitter end, simply melted away under
pressure of the cleverly combined movement. The force had been preceded
overnight by two battalions of Guards, who were deputed to hold a
menacing kopje, which mounted guard over a spruit, known to be a
favourable harbourage for the enemy. As a natural consequence of this
skilful preparation, the Boers were forced to resign their comfortable
hiding-place, and the army was enabled to advance in safety. The 1st
Brigade of Mounted Infantry (Hutton) covered the left flank, and 14th
Brigade of the Seventh Division (Maxwell) supported by the 15th Brigade
(Wavell) covered the right flank. General Pole-Carew's Division marched
in the centre, General Inigo Jones on the right, and General Stephenson
on the left.

General Maxwell encountered the enemy, who, posted in a good position,
attacked him with two guns, which eventually were silenced by the
British artillery. He then succeeded in sending the whole of the eastern
force scudding towards the north, while General Hutton on his side,
making an unusual detour, and assisted by No. 9 Field Battery and
Colonel Alderson with his smart Colonials, prepared a little surprise,
and contrived so to pound and harass the enemy on the hill commanding
the town, that their valour, chastened by discretion and shrapnel,
subsided, and they scurried away across the plains, thus leaving the
coast clear. Several prisoners were captured, among them the commandant
of the town, who had returned there for the purpose of destroying the
instruments at the telegraph office. Among the defending force was the
Irish-American Contingent, a riotous crew, who, according to the
townsfolk, must have been to the Boers more bother than they were worth.
During the engagement Captain Williams (2nd Hampshire Regiment) was

On the 4th, the Mounted Infantry, under General Hutton, covering a front
of ten miles, proceeded on their way, reconnoitred up to the Vet River,
and meanwhile cleared the rail of such Boer stragglers as happened to be
hanging about, as far as Eensgevonden, where they bivouacked. They were
followed the next day by the rest of the force, all branches of which
had been in communication by heliograph.

At dawn on the 5th, the river was found by the West Australians to be
held by the enemy. The guns advanced, and a fierce artillery duel
followed, in which the 84th and 85th Batteries had some exciting
experiences, and escaped as by a miracle without injury. Later on, two
naval 12-pounders assisted them, and there was warm work till sunset,
the Boers on the opposite bank fighting with rare obstinacy, and only
desisting occasionally the better to leap to the attack. Meanwhile on
the left, the sound of General Hutton's further operations could be
heard. Having endeavoured to find a drift to the west, this officer
encountered the enemy in possession, and was greeted by a duet from a
hostile Maxim and a pom-pom. This presently developed into a quartet,
the British galloping Maxim and a pom-pom taking so prominent a part
that presently the Boers, concealed in the bed of the river, began to
feel uncomfortable. News had come in to the Chief at mid-day that the
enemy meant to hold the Vet River, and was there located with the
necessary equipment of field-guns and Mausers, and that he was already
in touch with Hutton's Brigade on the left. The army, taking advantage
of such daylight as remained, moved on, and presently, across the river,
and on the distant hills, blue-grey smoke in panting puffs bespoke the
activities of the Colonials. To their assistance went naval guns, great
and small, carrying messages of fuming green horror to the other side of
the water. While this was taking place the Canadians and Tasmanians were
grandly fighting their way across the river, and the gallant New
Zealanders, taking their share, plunged into the midst of the Boers and
scattered them from a kopje they were holding, themselves paying dearly
the penalty of triumph. They were afterwards supported by two companies
of the Guards. The Dutchmen eventually were routed from their positions
south of the river, and General Hutton succeeded in turning the enemy's
right, and establishing himself the next day on the north bank. The only
officer wounded in General Pole-Carew's Division was Lieutenant the
Hon. M. Parker, Grenadier Guards. General Hutton's operations had been
entirely successful, some forty Boers had been put out of action, twelve
prisoners and a Maxim were captured with comparatively small loss to the
entire force. The Boer horde, which had left its position by the river,
now congregated some ten miles off, with a view to the protection of the
main body of the foe, who were falling back on Kroonstadt.

The turning movement was declared to be an admirable feat, executed
admirably by the Canadians, New South Wales, New Zealand Rifles, and the
Queensland Mounted Infantry, whose dash and daring were much eulogised.
The first phase of the general advance was promising well. Lord Roberts,
according to his plan, had cleared and engaged the south-eastern
districts with such celerity that the enemy had not been given breathing
time to concentrate in front of the advancing force. On the 6th the
British Army crossed the Vet River and encamped at Smaldeel Junction,
where many of the Dutchmen, confessing themselves sick of the war,
surrendered. The rest of the enemy was in swift retreat in the direction
of Zand River and Kroonstadt, where it was thought they would make a
final stand. They took care, however, to damage the rail. Rackarock,
placed at intervals on the line, was discovered by a Westralian Mounted
Infantryman. The force captured a Maxim gun and twenty-five prisoners.
Meanwhile, General Ian Hamilton had occupied Winburg. But of his march
anon. The following days, the 7th and 8th, there was a halt for two
days. The object of the halt was to enable the cavalry to return from
Bloemfontein, and take its place in the original combined scheme of
operations as described, and also to allow of the completion of certain
necessary work on the railway. On the 8th, General French with his
cavalry, forming the left wing of the advancing army, reached Smaldeel.
It was doubtful whether the Federals intended to dispute the passage of
the Zand River, but Hutton to right and Broadwood to left reconnoitred,
and it was found that both Delarey and Botha, with some sixteen guns
between them, were posted on the north bank in the direct line of the
main advance, and therefore the British troops might prepare for stiff

Reports now came in that the enemy was hurrying back from the Zand to
the Vaal though some of the burghers, the Free State ones, remained and
delivered up rifles and horses to the British authorities. They had
decided to break with the Transvaalers on the border of their territory.
While the halt was taking place, there was activity elsewhere. A strong
force from Chermside's Division, on the 3rd, had garrisoned Wepener
under Lord Castletown, who was appointed Commissioner for the Wepener
district, and General Brabant's Colonial Division had moved to
Thabanchu, where it arrived on the 7th. On the 9th, Lord Roberts drew
in his right column, and concentrated his whole force in the
neighbourhood of Welgelegen, some seven miles south of the Zand River.
The march of General Ian Hamilton to this point now claims attention.



On the 30th of April General Ian Hamilton was marching north with a view
to making his way to Winburg _via_ the Jacobsrust Road. His force
consisted of cavalry, including Broadwood's mounted infantry,
Smith-Dorrien's, Bruce Hamilton's, and Ridley's commands. His progress
was blocked by Botha, who, having been driven northward from Thabanchu,
now turned at bay and planted himself firmly on Thaba Mountain, and
across the road towards Houtnek. The centre and left of his position
seemed almost impregnable, therefore the right, as the weakest point,
was chosen for attack. The mounted infantry made for the stronghold, and
Smith-Dorrien, with part of his brigade, followed in support--all the
troops pushing their way towards the objective under the ferocious fire
of the foe. The Boers, seeing the designs of the British, made valiant
efforts to retain the hill, and continual reinforcements came to their
aid, rendering the task of our advancing troops more and more dangerous.
At this time, the fight growing momentarily warmer, and the struggle for
possession of the vantage point more and more intense, Captain Towse
(Gordon Highlanders) with twelve of his men and a few of Kitchener's
Horse managed to gain the top, but in so doing suddenly found himself
and his diminutive band removed from support. At this critical juncture
a party of some 150 Boers approached, intending also to seize the
plateau occupied by the small band of Scotsmen, and came within 100
yards of the Highlanders without either observing them or being observed
by them. But, no sooner were the Dutchmen aware of the existence of the
British, and of their small number and their apparent helplessness, than
they promptly called on them to surrender. "Surrender?" cried Captain
Towse in a voice of thunder, and instantly ordered his men to open fire!
The blood of Scotland was up. The command was quickly obeyed, and the
lion-hearted little band not only fired, but led by their splendid
officer charged fiercely with the bayonet straight into the thick mass
of Dutchmen. A moment of uproar, of amazement, and then--flying heels.
The valorous Highlanders had succeeded, despite their inferior numbers,
in driving off the hostile horde and taking possession of the plateau!
But, unfortunately, the magnificent daring of the commanding officer had
cost him almost more than life. A shot across the eyes shattered them,
blinding him, and thus depriving her Majesty's Service of one of its
noblest ornaments.

But the great work was accomplished--and the summit of the hill was
gained and kept. The Dutchmen elsewhere, in vast masses, were fighting
hard with guns and pom-poms, and at close of day had assumed so
threatening an attitude that General French was telegraphed for, and the
troops were ordered to sleep on the ground they had gained, and prepare
to renew the attack at dawn. General French arrived from Thabanchu the
same night, and next morning (the 1st of May) hostilities were resumed.

Again the enemy, led by Botha, fought doggedly, even brilliantly, but
the troops, after some warm fighting, succeeded in routing him and
forcing a passage to the north. In the operations General Hamilton was
assisted by Broadwood's brigade of cavalry and the 8th Hussars under
Colonel Clowes, whose gallantry helped to harass the enemy's rear and
forced them eventually to evacuate their position. Bruce Hamilton's
brigade of infantry also did excellent work. The final stroke to the
enemy's rout was effected by the Gordons and Canadians, and two
companies of the Shropshire Light Infantry. These came within 200 yards
of the foe, and with a ringing cheer launched themselves boldly at the
Dutchmen's front--so boldly, so dashingly indeed, that at the sheer hint
of the coming collision the Boers had scampered. Promptly the 8th
Hussars charged into the flying fugitives, and forty prisoners were
"bagged." Guns were then galloped on the evacuated position and shells
were sent after the dispersing hordes.

The enemy lost twelve killed and forty wounded. Among the former was a
German officer and two Frenchmen, and among the latter a Russian who
commanded the Foreign Legion. The British wounded were Captain Lord
Kensington, Household Cavalry; Major H. Alexander, 10th Hussars; Captain
A. Hart, 1st East Surrey Regiment; Captain Buckle, 2nd Royal West Kent.
Captain Cheyne, Kitchener's Horse, was missing.




Photo by Gregory & Co., London]

On the 2nd, after the dashing assault of the Thaba plateau and defeat of
the Boers, a day's halt was ordered at Jacobsrust, as General Hamilton's
force had been incessantly fighting for over ten days. Lord Roberts's
plan in the Free State was now nearly complete. His proposition was to
hold with an adequate force the whole of the front from left to
right--from Karee Siding, Krantz Kraal, Springfield, the Waterworks,
Thabanchu, Leeuw River Mills, and Ladybrand--thus pressing the Boers
steadily up and up, till resistance should be pushed to the narrowest
limits. Fighting here and there continued, but the sweeping process
preparatory to the great forward move was being very thoroughly
accomplished. Reinforcements now arrived, and General Hamilton's force,
which in reference to Lord Roberts's advance took its place as the
army of the right flank, was composed as follows:--

     Infantry       {19th Brigade           } Smith-Dorrien.
                    {21st Brigade           } Bruce Hamilton.

     Cavalry          2nd Cavalry Brigade     Broadwood.

                    { 3 Batteries F.A.      }
     Artillery      { 2 Batteries H.A.      } Waldron.
                    { 2 5-in. Guns          }

On the 4th the enemy, ubiquitous, were found again in great numbers at
Roelofsfontein. They formed a barrier to the onward passage of the
troops, and approaching them with a view to strengthening that barrier
came more Boers fleeing from Brandfort. There was no time to be lost,
so, with prodigious haste General Broadwood with two squadrons of Guards
Cavalry and two of the 10th Hussars galloped to the scene, and threw a
formidable wedge between the allies. Thereupon such Boers as were
hastening to fill the gap came into collision with the cavalry. These,
supported by Kitchener's Horse, who had dashed nimbly into the fray,
succeeded in defeating the Dutchmen and forcing them back discomfited.
Their neatly arranged plan of campaign had failed, and realising the
impossibility of joining forces, the Boers set spurs to their horses and
made for the drift, speeded in their mad career by shells from the
batteries of the Horse Artillery. But the brilliant cavalry feat was
costly. Lord Airlie, whose dash and daring had continually almost
approached recklessness, was injured, so also was Lieutenant the Hon. C.
H. Wyndham, while Lieutenant Rose (Royal Horse Guards), the gallant
A.D.C. to the late General Symons, was mortally wounded. The unfortunate
officer was felled with many bullets from some sharpshooters who were
marking the crest of the ridge held by the British. Most of the losses
were sustained by the cavalry, whose splendid action saved much time and
possibly many fierce engagements on the line of march.

A Scots colonist who owned an estate near Winburg, which had the
misfortune to be situated in the very midst of the belligerents, gave an
interesting account of the days directly preceding the occupation of
Winburg, when a series of conflicts had been taking place along the road
from Thabanchu. From the 2nd of May and onwards small parties of fleeing
Boers and German free-lances had been seen escaping from the British and
seeking cover in the kopjes near Welkom:--

     "The Boers, nearly 4000 strong, with thirteen guns, occupied
     the hills round Welkom; the British, under Generals Ian
     Hamilton and Broadwood, at Verkeerdi Vlei, two hours distant,
     also General Colvile with the Ninth Division, and General
     Hector MacDonald with the Highland Brigade, at Os Spruit, two
     and a half hours farther east on the Brandfort side. Cannon
     firing started at 7 A.M., and continued for two or three
     hours, Naval guns, Armstrongs, Howitzers, Maxim-Nordenfeldts,
     &c. &c., all booming together. We heard the rifle-firing quite
     distinctly. About ten o'clock the Boers began to give way, and
     arrived here, about 1000 of them, with six cannon. We supplied
     them with water and milk, &c., and thanked God to hear them say
     they did not intend making a stand. Across the river they moved
     through the drift very swiftly--guns, waggons, transport, men,
     horses--all in fairly good order. Just as they got through, the
     Boers up on the Brandfort direction began to give way, and
     shells from the British cannon burst repeatedly among them.
     This went on for about one hour, when a grand stampede set in,
     and the flight and confusion and bursting shells was a sight
     never to be forgotten. In the flight the drift got jammed up.
     One cannon upset in the drift and blocked the traffic. Then
     they tore up here past the house, and got through at the top
     drift. How they all got through is still a mystery to me.
     Suddenly a shell from the large naval gun burst down at the
     mill. It made a terrific explosion, and shook both house and
     store. The British had meantime worked round, and got some
     cannon up to my camp (the Kaffirs' huts), and began shelling
     the flying Boers, as my camp commands the road for miles. The
     cannon-firing was simply awful, and nearly deafened the lot of
     us; even things inside the house shook."

By-and-by when the fire slackened, to the delight of the British party,
some 500 of the 17th Lancers were seen approaching, their scouts in
advance. Quickly they were assured that they were riding into the arms
of friends. The Scotsman mounted to the roof of his house, and there,
with the white pinafore of one of his bairns in hand, he waved a frantic
welcome. The signal was returned, and joy and relief almost overcame
him. Then followed some pleasant experiences, for the Colonist played
the host to a distinguished multitude. He said:--

     "On the arrival of the Lancers we supplied them with water and
     tea, but they pushed on, and the officer in charge asked me to
     go with him to General Broadwood. This I did, and after
     satisfying him as to the roads, &c., he thanked me and asked me
     for the use of the house for General Hamilton and staff, which
     I said I would give. As I returned to the house on foot a
     wounded officer rode up to me. This was Colonel the Earl of
     Airlie, in command of the 17th (12th?) Lancers, wounded in
     elbow. He stayed with us until next day, and a finer and more
     homely man I have never met. Notwithstanding his wound, he
     insisted on helping to put Tommy to bed, and, although the
     house was soon full of lords, generals, &c., and the staffs of
     two divisions, he helped Florrie (the host's wife) in every way
     he could. Lady Airlie is in Bloemfontein, and he returned
     thither. He gave us his Kirriemuir Castle address, and insists
     on us coming to see him. About sundown the General and staff
     arrived, among them Major Count Gleichen, Smith-Dorrien, Duke
     of Marlborough, and a lot of others. Winston Churchill also was
     with them. The scene that night at Welkom will never be
     forgotten by us. Fourteen thousand men bivouacked on the farm,
     camp fires for miles around. About seven o'clock the Highland
     Brigade arrived in the distance, pipes playing. It is quite
     dark here at 6 P.M., so you can picture to yourself the scene.
     With the arrival of MacDonald's Highlanders the total army on
     Welkom was between 19,000 and 20,000 men. The house here was
     in great brilliancy. The Union Jack was planted in front, and
     officers were arriving every few minutes with despatches. A
     telegraph line is laid by the troops as they move on, so we had
     a direct wire from the house here to Bloemfontein."

Delightful was it to the Scotsman to find himself specially introduced
to General Hector MacDonald, and see the braw company of Highlanders
march past his house. But their appearance was far from spruce, indeed
the whole army was begrimed with dust and wear and tear, honourable
filth on their bronzed and sweating faces, for which a Walt Whitman--had
such been there--would have felt impelled to hug them. The sad part was
the death of Captain Ernest Rose (Royal Horse Guards) who had been
wounded in the previous fighting. The Colonist, writing of the affair
narrated: "When the news was brought to the General and staff at nine
o'clock at night that Rose had died of his wounds they were all
fearfully cut up. He was buried at midnight, just at the back of the
house here on the other side of road, about 100 yards from where I now
sit. The General asked me to promise him to have the grave built in and
to look after it, as it would be a fearful blow to the officer's father,
Lord Rose. He had only two sons, and the other one died of fever last
month in Bloemfontein." He went on to say: "The great bulk of the troops
had gone forward, only MacDonald and the Highland Brigade remained
behind, and they were encamped over at the station, so there are still
about 5000 men in town. I found Major Count Gleichen, who had stayed the
night at Welkom, was provost marshal, and Lieutenant Rymand,
intelligence officer."

At dawn on the 6th the march to Winburg was continued, and the troops
prepared themselves again to meet with stout resistance from the hordes
which had been pressed across the drift. But when the main army neared
the outskirts of the place they were nowhere to be seen. The fact was
that the 7th Mounted Infantry and the Hampshires had done a smart piece
of work, "off their own bat" as it were, and forced the congregating
Federals to think better of any plan of resistance to the entry into
Winburg which they had made. The little affair was concisely described
by an officer who took part in it:--

     "The officer commanding the Mounted Infantry Corps ordered the
     7th Battalion Mounted Infantry (which was leading the advance
     on the right) to race with the enemy for the occupation of the
     big hill, about 3000 feet high, overlooking Winburg, which lies
     between the approaches to the town from the south and from the
     east, both of which it entirely commands. The Boers were
     approaching this hill from the north and the east, and had they
     succeeded in occupying it, we should have had great difficulty
     in driving them off it and capturing Winburg. But the Mounted
     Infantry got there before them. As soon as they received the
     order to try and occupy it, the 7th Battalion Mounted Infantry
     (having extricated themselves from the deep ravines near the
     river) raced for the hill, the Hampshire squadron making for
     the point overlooking Winburg, the Borderers and Lincolns
     supporting them on the right. When half-way up the hill they
     jumped off their horses and scrambled to the top, and, meeting
     with no opposition, made their way across the open summit to
     the rocky edge overlooking Winburg. There a wonderful sight met
     their view. The whole Boer force, about 5000 or 6000 strong,
     and several miles in length, was seen trekking slowly past
     Winburg in a northerly direction. The road they were moving by
     passed within about 2000 yards of this point of the hill, so
     the Hampshires (who were at first only twelve strong, the
     remainder having been delayed crossing the ravines) opened fire
     for all they were worth to make the enemy think that the hill
     was strongly occupied. This considerably hastened the enemy's
     movements, and the rear-guard commandos which had yet to pass
     near the hill thought better of it, and went round another way
     behind some high hills out of shot."

At noon a staff officer under a flag of truce summoned the Mayor of the
town to surrender, promising to protect private property and pay for
such foodstuffs as might be required. Thereupon was enacted a curious
drama. While the magnates were putting their heads together and
discussing the position, Botha and some five hundred of his mercenaries
came on the scene. The commandant bounced that he would not surrender
without fighting, and accused Captain Balfour (who had offered to let
such Free Staters as should surrender their arms return to their farms)
of attempting to suborn his burghers. Botha frantically insisted on the
arrest of the staff officer, the staff officer as furiously flourished
his flag of truce. The Boers pointed their rifles, the women screamed,
the townsfolk gabbled, and general turmoil prevailed. In the end the
citizens whose property, so to speak, lay in the palm of the British
hand, preferred the Mayor's discretion to Botha's valour, and that
warrior, swelling with indignation, and followed by his equally
bombastic "braves," shook the dust of the town off their shoes and
galloped to the north.

At night General Hamilton reached the town, where he was joined by
General Colville's Division, which was marching from Waterval towards
Heilbron, and was thereupon directed to follow the leading column at a
distance of ten miles.


Facsimile of a Sketch by Melton Prior, War Artist]

The advance of the army is arranged, as some one described, not as a
continuous movement but as a caterpillar-like form of progress, the
first part of the move being a species of advance, the second a drawing
up of the tail end of the creature. Thus the vast machine is carried
from point to point, the halting-places being usually at positions of
strategic consequence. The Boers had run away from their first positions
at Brandfort and on the Vet; the second ones on the Zand, the Valsch,
and the Rhenoster were now to be purged of the Republicans. It was
necessary before going forward to make a three days' halt, during
which the tail end of the monster--the railway--was put in working
order, and supplies collected and brought up. The enemy's position on
the Zand was reconnoitred, and on the 9th the advance was resumed,
General Ian Hamilton hurrying to assist in the operations at the Zand
River, the Highland Brigade being left in possession of Winburg.


By the 9th of May, as we know, General Pole-Carew's and General Tucker's
Divisions and General Ian Hamilton's Column (moving from Winburg), with
Naval and Royal Garrison Artillery guns, and four brigades of cavalry,
had concentrated at Welgelegen. The enemy, pushed back on all sides, now
held the opposite bank of the Zand River in force; but nevertheless it
was decided that the army would cross, and cross it did. The crossing
was accomplished on the 10th, the enemy being routed from all his strong
positions. According to the correspondent of the _Times_, the scheme for
the general advance had been planned as follows: "A concentration of the
line of advance was to take place at Kroonstadt. General Ian Hamilton,
after leaving a brigade at Winburg, was to advance on the right flank
with his Mounted Infantry, Broadwood's Cavalry Brigade, and the 19th
Brigade, _via_ Ventersburg. The main advance with Lord Roberts was to be
made by the Eleventh Division, supported by Gordon's Cavalry Brigade,
the connection between the railway and right flank being kept by General
Tucker's Division. The left was entrusted to General French with the 1st
and 4th Cavalry Brigades and General Hutton's Brigade of Mounted
Infantry. As the left in all probability would find it necessary to act
independently, the Mounted Infantry belonging to General Tucker became
attached to the main column for screening purposes."

The enemy, some 6000 strong with 15 guns, was found to be posted on a
series of hills running diagonally against the east side of the Zand,
but after some vigorous shelling by General Tucker they evacuated their
main position by the river, blew up various culverts that lay in front
of the British force, and prepared to make a vigorous stand against the
Mounted Infantry advancing in the centre. These, having debouched on the
plain on the north of the river were promptly assailed by guns from the
hills to the right, but they still pushed on towards the west of the
railway, while a battery of Horse Artillery tackled the region whence
came the hostile shells. The scene of the fight was dotted with
farmhouses and native kraals, and here numerous parties of skirmishers
were knowingly concealed. The 8th Mounted Infantry Corps, dismounting,
advanced in extended order across the nullah-riven plain under a heavy
shell fire, while the British guns barked merrily and wrought
devastation among the Boer guns, which were hastily scurried away,
pursued now by the 4th Mounted Infantry, who, full of excitement,
galloped off to capture the retiring treasures, and in so doing ran
almost into the arms of some 500 Boers. These, rushing from ambush,
forced them back on their supports. But the fire from a well-directed
Maxim, and from Lumsden's Horse, who had captured a hill and stuck to it
amid a hurricane of Boer missiles, served to rout the Dutchmen and send
them after their guns and convoy, which unfortunately, by this time, had
been got safely away.

Of General Ian Hamilton's part in the proceedings on the right an
eye-witness contributed to the _Morning Post_ an interesting account:--

     "At daybreak on May 9 Ian Hamilton's column left their bivouac
     at Klipfontein and marched north to Boemplatz Farm without
     resistance. About mid-day the Mounted Infantry, who were a mile
     or two ahead of the column, on topping the ridges overlooking
     Zand River, came under fire of the enemy concealed in the
     dongas near the river, and on the hills beyond, and in the
     kopjes on our right. They remained there all the afternoon,
     peppering and being peppered in return. The veldt here was
     alive with buck and hartebeest, and they were so tame that
     herds of them grazed between the Mounted Infantry screen and
     the main body. This was too much for some officers of the
     C.I.V., and they left their bivouac near the main body, about a
     mile in the rear, and let drive at the buck.

     "Meanwhile the Hampshire Squadron of Mounted Infantry, which
     were playing hide and seek with their brother Boers, began to
     wonder how it was that bullets were coming from their rear as
     well as from their front. When they discovered that these
     bullets from the rear were intended for buck, they sent down a
     message, the language of which was hardly parliamentary, to the
     would-be buck slayers, and threatened to send a volley at the
     buck themselves. More Boer commandos were seen to be arriving
     from the east towards dusk, so there seemed to be every
     prospect of a warm time the next day, especially on the right
     flank. Up till now Ian Hamilton's column had been working quite
     independently, and had marched north from Thabanchu as a flying
     column, but this afternoon we were acquainted with the presence
     of another force on our left by seeing Lord Roberts's balloon
     in the air about eight miles away. That Lord Roberts met with
     but slight resistance may be accounted for by the fact that Ian
     Hamilton's column away on his right was always a few miles
     ahead of him, and threatened the enemy's flank. Lord Roberts's
     force had been marching north along the line of railway, and
     now the two columns were converging with a view to reaching
     Kroonstadt together.

     "Those on outpost duty that night heard the rumbling of waggons
     for many hours in the vicinity of the enemy. Evidently their
     transport was being moved out of harm's way. The night was
     bitterly cold, and many of those on outpost duty had nothing
     but greatcoats to keep them warm, some of the waggons not
     having yet arrived. At daybreak our 'Long Toms' made excellent
     practice at what looked like a Boer laager on the slope of the
     hill across the river to the north. At about 7 P.M. the battle
     commenced in earnest, and the crack of our rifles, the double
     crack of the enemy's, the barking of Maxims, the 'pom-pom' of
     the Vickers-Maxims, and the boom of the 'Long Toms' were heard
     all along the line. Our front must have been ten or fifteen
     miles along the Zand River, because Roberts's column was now a
     few miles to our left, and French's Cavalry Division was on
     Roberts's left; but for reasons mentioned above the Boers
     showed a bold front to Ian Hamilton's column only. The enemy
     kept up a steady fire from the positions they had occupied
     during the night, some Boers in the dongas having advanced to
     within a short distance of our firing line.

     "As the day wore on, reinforcements appeared to arrive for the
     enemy, and they made a determined effort to turn our right.
     Here they were opposed by Kitchener's Horse, who were hard
     pressed, and had to be hurriedly reinforced by the New
     Zealanders. On the extreme right the enemy now became very
     bold, and report says that the sergeant-major of Kitchener's
     Horse made a bull's-eye on a Boer's head at only fifteen yards'
     distance. All this time we had kept the enemy at bay without
     the aid of a single gun, though they had been firing at us with
     common shell and shrapnel, but to our great joy in the
     afternoon four field-guns came to our assistance, and proceeded
     to deluge the kopjes and dongas with shrapnel. Brother Boer now
     finding matters getting rather unpleasant slunk out of the
     dongas and off the kopjes in groups of ten and twenty in an
     easterly direction, and now the enemy having been pressed back
     all along the line, the 7th Mounted Infantry, Kitchener's
     Horse, and the New Zealanders were left as a rear-guard, and
     the main body moved on five or six miles. At dark we followed
     them, and crossed the Zand River unmolested, and bivouacked on
     the other side of the drift on the position which had been all
     day occupied by the Boers. It was reported that the following
     day the bodies of fifty or sixty of the enemy were found in the
     Zand River dongas, and many more on the kopjes on the right, so
     the losses were not all on our side."

The following casualties occurred in General Ian Hamilton's column
during the day's fight: Second Lieutenant R. E. Paget, 1st Royal Sussex
Regiment, wounded; Captain Leonard Head, East Lancashire Regiment,
dangerously wounded (since dead).

[Illustration: Towards the Zand River

     on horizon.

     Boers Blowing up
     Railway Bridge.

     Boers Retreating
     with Convoy
     and Guns.

     Lord Kitchener.

     Lord Roberts.

     Shelling the Boers'

Melton Prior, War Artist.)]

Meanwhile General French, whose object was to turn the enemy's right
flank and capture Ventersburg station by nightfall, had also a brisk
encounter with the Boers, which involved some loss of life, particularly
among the Inniskillings. The 1st Brigade, under General Porter, advanced
towards a kopje, which was captured by the Inniskillings. Here they were
confronted by an advancing khaki-clad regiment, said to be the newly
raised Afrikander Horse, which was mistaken for British troops. Before
they could be recognised they had opened fire on the hills, and so
violently assailed those holding it, that the Dragoons were forced to
make for their horses, leaving behind them fourteen slain and many
wounded. Guns and the dashing Canadians were sent in support of General
Porter, while General French continued to develop his flanking movement.
The 4th Brigade (8th Hussars and 7th Dragoons) were deployed on the
right of the enemy, and grandly charged a body some 300 strong. They,
however, suffered considerably in consequence, for while rallying, the
squadrons were fiercely fired on by such of the Dutchmen who had
succeeded in bolting to cover, dismounting and firing, before the
assailants could get out of range. The object of the charge was
nevertheless effected, and by nightfall, by a series of tactical
evolutions--a species of military impromptu resulting from the
exigencies of the situation--the enemy's flank had been turned, and the
Cavalry Division was safely disposed at Graspan. Unfortunately, the
casualties during this movement were heavy, some 200 slain, wounded, and


Drawing by S. Begg, from a Sketch by Melton Prior, War Artist]

It was reported that a party of the British, going up to a kraal on
which a white flag was hoisted, were suddenly attacked by a large number
of the enemy. Two officers, Captain Haig, of the 6th Dragoons, and
Lieutenant Wilkinson, 1st Australian Horse, were taken prisoners, and
several men were unaccounted for. During the day's fight, Captain C. K.
Elworthy, 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) was killed. Among the wounded
were: 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers)--Lieutenant R. H. Collis;
Lieutenant M. M. Moncrieff. Tasmanian Mounted Infantry--Major C.

On the evening of the 10th, the British Army, converging in the
direction of Kroonstadt, occupied a front of some twenty miles, of which
the left centre (Pole-Carew's Division) was at Ventersburg Road.
Ventersburg Siding had been demolished by the departing Boers, or rather
by their mercenaries, the Irish-Americans, but the Boers here made no
show of opposition. They were very near at hand, however, for report
said the valorous Steyn had but a few hours previously been wasting
tears and threats on recalcitrant burghers in the district, burghers
who, now refusing to fight any more, hung about for the purpose of
laying down their arms.

On the 11th, the army moved on some twelve miles to Geneva Siding. In
front, the left wing (French's Cavalry) flew ever well ahead, while the
right centre (Tucker's Division) marched slightly in the rear, and the
right wing (Hamilton's Column) worked its way onwards in the direction
of Lindley. By dusk, General French had seized a drift over the Valshe
River, below Kroonstadt, just in time to prevent the passage being
opposed by the enemy. The manoeuvre was cleverly managed, and in most
inconvenient circumstances, for the transport having gone back to the
Zand River, men and horses had been already a day without food. But
rapidity was the word, and the deed kept pace with it. Both brigades
were advanced as swiftly as possible, and divided each towards a
convenient drift, scurrying to get there before the enemy could be
informed of the direction taken. The result was, that when the foe,
strong in men and guns, debouched from the scrub-country in the region
of Kroonstadt, they were saluted with heartiness by the 4th Brigade,
who had taken possession of the coveted vantage ground. The Boers
retreated, and gathered themselves together to guard the road to the
town; but General French made a rapid detour, which they saw might
outflank them, whereupon they discreetly withdrew.

At night a gallant effort was made by that indefatigable officer, Major
Hunter Weston, R.E., to cut the railway communications in rear of the
enemy. Escorted by a squadron of cavalry, and accompanied by Burnham the
American scout and eight smart sappers, he proceeded as usual, under
cover of darkness, towards the line. Here, however, he came in touch
with the Boers, and his troopers charged the Dutch patrol and captured
them. Then leaving his escort, he, the scout and sappers, after much
hiding in the moonlight and groping in nullahs, reached the line through
the enemy's convoy and launched the explosive into the midst of the
Dutchmen, causing considerable panic among them. He, however, was
defeated in his main object, though the hairbreadth escapes and deeds of
cool-headed pluck accomplished during the small hours of the night make
a long tale, both exciting and soul-stirring.

On Saturday the advance was resumed. The town of Boschrand, some eight
miles below Kroonstadt, was found deserted, the Boers before the
ubiquitous French having sped as an arrow from the bow. The Dutchmen had
taken care to put a good deal of country between them and the British,
for, after reconnaissance towards Kroonstadt had been made, it was found
that though they had been seen the night before encamped from Kroonstadt
to Honing Spruit they had melted away, and had evidently decided that
they would make no further stand till the British arrived within the
confines of the Transvaal. President Steyn had already taken himself off
to Lindley, and Commandant Botha had departed with his Transvaal
burghers to prepare for a big fight on the Vaal.

The entry of Lord Roberts into Kroonstadt was a fine spectacle, all the
men, despite their hard, 128-mile march being in splendid condition, and
wearing on their faces the air of honest satisfaction at work
accomplished--pride in themselves and in their admired Chief. The
procession was headed by Lord Roberts's bodyguards, who were all of them
Colonials. Following them came the staff and foreign attachés, then
trooped in the North Somerset Company of the Imperial Yeomanry, a
stalwart and bronzed host; after which marched General Pole-Carew's
Division, consisting of the Guards, the 18th Brigade, the Naval Brigade,
the 83rd, 84th, and 85th Batteries, two 5-inch guns manned by Royal
Artillerymen, and the 12th Company of Royal Engineers. The sight was a
most imposing one, and the vision of troops apparently innumerable
streaming through the streets highly impressed the Boers, who many of
them had entered on the war with the highest confidence in their
military prowess and the inferiority of the British as a fighting race.


Mr. Steyn, it was said, before his departure the previous night had used
in vain, persuasions, threats, and even violence to the burghers in the
effort to rally them. An enterprising photographer went so far as to
take a portrait of the late President in act of kicking and cuffing his
followers--"to put valour into them," so it was explained. They,
however, turned their backs on the smiter, and many of them surrendered
to Lord Roberts. Mr. Steyn had announced that in future Lindley,
situated between Kroonstadt and Bethlehem, would become the seat of the
Free State Government, and thither fled, knowing in his heart that the
days of the Free State were numbered. The Transvaalers, disgusted with
the "Orange" men, had refused any longer to fight in the Free State, and
took themselves off to the Vaal River; while, on the other hand, the
Free Staters, furious with the Transvaalers, charged them with having
made them into a "cat's-paw" and then left them in the lurch. The
valiant Federals were, in fact, at loggerheads, and many surrendered,
being only too thankful to part company with their quondam allies.

The troops halted at Kroonstadt for ten days to recuperate, and while
they enjoyed their well-earned rest, stirring events took place


[4] See map at front.



There was an immense amount of undiscovered genius in Mafeking till
Colonel Baden-Powell brought it to the front. The art of making
ball-cartridges out of blank, and the manufacture of gunpowder, cannon,
shells, fuses, postage stamps, bank notes, and a strategetic railway,
served to occupy and amuse those whose days were an unending round of
monotony. The Colonel's vigilance, that in other times had earned for
him the Matabele title of "'Mpeesi, the wolf that never sleeps,"
communicated itself to all, and it was to this general spirit of
alertness that the success of the garrison's sturdy defence was due. But
on their hearts despond was setting its seal; young faces were becoming
lined with anxiety, and even those whose dramatic powers enabled them to
feign merriment were conscious that the effort was becoming even more
pathetic than resignation to their fate.


Drawing by W. Hatherell, R.I., from materials supplied by Major F. D.
Baillie, Correspondent of the _Morning Post_]

Young Eloff, who had gallantly volunteered to subdue Mafeking or die in
the attempt, beguiled the interval in preparing for his feat of chivalry
by indulging in a mild form of jocosity. He informed Colonel
Baden-Powell that he had heard of his Sabbath concerts, tournaments, and
cricket matches, and would be glad, as it was dull outside, to come in
and participate in them. The Colonel replied in the same vein--begged to
postpone a return match till the present one was finished, and suggested
as they were now 200 not out, and Snyman and Cronje had been
unsuccessful, a further change of bowling might be advantageous! In
reality the young Boer was racking his brains with plans for the future,
getting information regarding the forts and defences, and deciding when
the time came for assault to do the thing with a flash and a flourish!

And his ambition was not entirely groundless, for things were coming to
a sorry pass, and the tension grew daily more severe. It was necessary
to be eternally pushing out trenches and capturing forts in order to
secure grazing and breathing space, but this action had the result of so
extending the lines, that the problem of how to protect ten miles of
perimeter against some 2000 Boers, with only 700 men, became harder than
ever to grapple with. Fortunately there was still an inner line, but
even this was difficult to guard, now that the gallant seven hundred
were reduced in stamina by long privation and immediate famine.

A great deal of irritation was caused by pilfering and house-breaking
that went on. As the men were in the trenches and the women in the
women's laagers, all the ill-conditioned vagabonds, the human sauria
that had trailed from the Rand and Bulawayo, at the hint of loot "made
hay" while there was no police at liberty to cope with them. Every hand
in Mafeking had been required, and the police had been forced to become
soldiers, defenders of the state and not of private property. And well
they had done their work! For over six months some 2000 to 3000 Boers
had found fodder here for their eight guns, including a 9-pounder. They
had been kept stationary, and thus prevented from combining with the
Tuli column, or invading Rhodesia, or joining forces with any of the
aggressive commandos in the south. And this wonderful arrest had been
accomplished by men who at the beginning of hostilities were practically
unarmed and unfortified. It was no marvel, therefore, that President
Kruger and his advisers, who had started their fell work with such
confidence, now began to wag their heads in acridity and dismay. The
overweening bumptiousness of the several commandants who, full of
buoyant and bellicose aspirations, had attempted the subjugation of
Mafeking, had been their undoing. These had become the laughing-stock
even of their own people.

Commandant Cronje early in the war had been so convinced of his ability
to capture Mafeking that he had caused a proclamation to be printed
annexing the district to the South African Republic. But he had found it
a disastrous place, and had left it with some loss of prestige, as had
many others who had attempted "to do the trick" and failed. Until this
date the Boers had expended considerably over 100 tons of ammunition,
lost over 1000 men killed and wounded, and had four guns disabled, yet
nothing was accomplished.

Commandant Eloff was then specially deputed by Kruger to pulverise
"B.P.", and came to his work in high spirits accompanied by a man--a
deserter--who, having served as a trooper in the Protectorate Regiment,
was well acquainted with the plans of the fortifications and the
military customs of the place. Of course, it was the object of the
youthful commandant to make an attack as speedily as possible, for
rumours of approaching relief threatened to put an end to his
machinations and spoil his ambitious scheme. He knew that a relief
column had reached and was advancing from Setlagoli, and that what had
to be done must be done now or never. Still he had a notion that after
passing Kraaipan any journey for troops would be arid, waterless, and
discomforting, and believed that the column might be cut off before it
could offer serious opposition to his plans.

Commandant Snyman, on his side, was as depressed as his colleague was
jaunty. He was scarcely flattered to find a youngster determining to
solve a problem which for a considerable time had defeated him, and
therefore at the onset, in regard to the momentous plans for attack, the
two commandants were scarcely at one. The rift widened as affairs
developed. Indeed, in letters which subsequently passed between the
pair, it was discovered that Eloff, to use his own words, "had been
preparing to trip him up for years." This Snyman must evidently have
known, and determined to show--as he did when the opportunity
offered--that "two could play at that game." At this time, however,
though the trail of the green and yellow monster might have been seen
winding about the Boer laagers, there was no suspicion that when
combined action against the common enemy--the British--would be needed
the older commandant would fail the younger one.

Curiously enough, though at the instance of the Boers the Sunday truce
had been agreed upon, they were the first to break through the compact.
On the 6th of May, while the usual auction sales were taking place, and
the ladies were cautiously doing their weekly shopping, an affair of
some moment since prices ruled high, the rattle of musketry betrayed
that something was wrong. It was then discovered that the Boers had
fired on the horse guard, killing Trooper Franch, and wounding three
horses, and causing a stampede of the herd towards their own lines.
Fortunately the ever-wary B. P. kept a machine gun in the valley, and a
sharp engagement took place, but nevertheless the Boers succeeded in
capturing some of the all too precious cattle. The affair was soon over
and the terrified ladies continued their shopping, but the incident was
sufficient to demonstrate that soon, if the Boers should fail to succeed
by fair means, they would have recourse to foul.

At last, on the 12th of May, came the great, the long-looked-for
assault. It was not yet dawn, the stars were still blinking pallidly,
when an ominous crackling awoke the town. It came from the east, where
rosy tints of the sunrise were beginning to show themselves. At once
every one was astir. The alarm bugle blared out, bells sounded, forms
all sketchily attired, some still in pyjamas, rushed to their posts.

Though the bullets came from the east, whizzing and phutting into the
market-square, Colonel Baden-Powell, with his natural astuteness,
declared that the real attack would come not from there but from the
west, the corner where stood the stadt of the Baralongs. All got their
horses ready, armed themselves with whatever came to hand, and fled
precipitately out into the nipping air of the morning. For an hour this
brisk fusillade continued, then at about 5.30 there was a lull. The sun
now was slowly beginning to rise, reddening the east with vivid blushes.
But the colonel's eyes were fixed on the west, and there sure enough was
what at first seemed a reflection of the sunrise--a tremendous flaming
mirage surmounted by dense volumes of smoke, and accompanied by a weird
stentorian crackling commingled with yells discordant, and despairing
lamentations from the direction of the native village. There was no
doubt about it, the stadt was ablaze! whether by accident or design none
at that moment could decide. Away went the guns, after them the
Bechuanaland Rifles, rushing to the fray; and then on the morning breeze
came a strange sound--cheers--but not British cheers--cheers that sent a
thrill of horror through all who anxiously awaited the upshot of the
encounter. It was scarcely to be credited, but it was the truth! The
enemy had arrived! They were already in the fort that was held by
Colonel Hore and his staff! They were not 500 yards off! At this time,
though the bullets from the east fell less thickly, those from the west
began to pour in, and through this cross fire the besieged rushed to
their several destinations. Women, distracted, fled hither and thither;
men shot and shouted and gave orders. Columns of smoke and cascades of
sparks told the tale of conflagration, and natives scared, babbling,
panic-stricken, tore through the streets.

There was just cause for alarm. The evil hour had come. The Boers had
reached the orderly-room which stood outside the Kaffirs' stadt. The
clerk, finding himself surrounded, hurriedly telephoned to the Colonel,
"The Boers are all in among us." Such news it was almost impossible to
credit, and the Colonel put his ear to the telephone. Then the sound of
Dutch voices convinced him of the horrible truth. The next thing was a
message saying that the Boers had taken Colonel Hore and his force
prisoners, and that the British were powerless to help them. Telephonic
communication was immediately destroyed with wire-pliers, but a state of
consternation prevailed. It was perfectly true that Colonel Hore was
powerless, as with his small force of twenty-three all told it was
impossible to guard the many outbuildings that surrounded him against
such overwhelming numbers, particularly as at first in the dusk it had
been impossible to distinguish whether the advancing men were foes or

All--young and old, men and even women--were madly rushing to the front,
all eager to check the Boers in their wild rush forward. The prisoners
in the jail were let loose and armed to join in the common duty, small
boys seized weapons, shovels or pokers for want of anything better, and
invited themselves to help to turn the invaders out. A singular
cheeriness prevailed; the sniff of battle exhilarated, intoxicated
them; they swore to protect Mafeking or die in the attempt!

Meanwhile the dashing Eloff, who so long had boasted that he would bring
Mafeking to her knees, had at last achieved something of a success. The
fort was seized. He and his band of 700 men had advanced up the Molopo,
burnt the stadt as a signal to his allies, and thus made an entry. The
storming party was composed mostly of foreigners, and numbered some 300
all told. Many of them were Frenchmen, who, when they emerged from
Hidden Hollow and rushed on Colonel Hore's fort, were heard to be
shouting "Fashoda! Fashoda!" while such Boers as could speak English
were sent in front to roar "Hip, hip, hurrah! Relieved at last!" so as
to deceive the besieged with the idea that the relief column was
arriving. Behind were 500 burghers, with Snyman, in support; but when
they heard the firing they discreetly waited to see the result, and
through their discretion Eloff eventually lost what he had gained. The
Baralongs, whose stadt was burning, and who themselves were burning for
revenge, had permitted some 300 of the party to seize the outlying
forts, and then, with an astuteness peculiar to them, decided they would
get between the Dutchmen and their supports, and "kraal them up like
cattle." But this was not done in a moment.

To return. When the storming party had reached the fort, they broke up
into three. One hundred and fifty of them attacked the fort and seized
it, together with the Colonel and twenty-three men of the Protectorate
Regiment, who, mistaking them in the dusk of the early dawn for friends,
had not fired. When they found out their mistake, it was too late.

Regarding Colonel Hore's lamentable position and his surrender, the
correspondent of the _Times_, who had the ill luck as a man and the good
luck as a journalist to get taken prisoner, said: "Commandant Eloff
demanded the unconditional surrender of the twenty-three men who were
established at the fort, an order which, had Colonel Hore refused,
implied that every man with him would be shot. The exigencies of the
situation had thus suddenly thrown upon the shoulders of this very
gallant officer an almost overwhelming responsibility. It was impossible
to withdraw to the town. Such a movement would have meant retirement
over 700 yards of open, level ground without a particle of cover, and
with a force of 300 of the enemy immediately in the rear. For a moment
Colonel Hore had considered, but realising that escape was impossible,
that indeed the Boers were all round him, he ordered the surrender,
accepting the responsibility of such an act in the hope of saving the
lives of the men who were with him. But the situation imperatively
demanded this action in consequence of events over which he had no
control. It was, perhaps, a moment as pathetic and great as any in
his career, which, honourable and distinguished as it has been, has
brought to him some six medals. The surrender was effected at 5.25 A.M.,
and the news of such a catastrophe did not tend to relieve the gravity
of the situation. With the Boers in the fort and in occupation of the
stadt, it was necessary so to arrange our operations that any junction
between the stadt and the fort would be impossible. At the same time we
were compelled to prevent those Boers who were in the stadt from cutting
their way through to the main body of the enemy. The situation was
indeed complex, and throughout the remainder of the day the skirmishing
in the stadt and the repulse of the feints of the enemy's main body,
delivered in different directions against the outposts, were altogether
apart from the siege which we were conducting within our own investment.
From the town very heavy rifle fire was directed upon the fort, which
the Boers in that quarter returned with spirit and determination. But
the position in the stadt had become acute, since behind our outposts
and our inner chain of forts, which are situated upon its exterior
border, were a rollicking, roving band of 400 Boers, who for the time
being were indulging in pillage and destruction wherever it was


Photo by Elliot & Fry, London]

For those inside the fort the tension was extreme. Colonel Hore, with
Captain Singleton, Veterinary Lieutenant Dunlop Smith, fifteen
non-commissioned officers and men of the Protectorate Regiment, Captain
Williams and three men of the South Africa Police, and some native
servants, were packed in by a crowd of the enemy, while a babel of
tongues--German, French, Italian, Dutch--made a clamour that obfuscated
the senses. Many of the Boers were busy looting, breaking open anything
that came to hand in the officers' quarters, notwithstanding the
remonstrances of their allies, the foreigners. Trooper Hayes, a deserter
from the Protectorate Regiment, who was well acquainted with the
fortifications, and had led Eloff into the town, swaggered about in the
presence of the prisoners adorned with Colonel Hore's sword, and his
watch and chain. His desire to get rid of as many of the British as
possible was shown by his suggestion that they should stand on the
verandah as a mark for their own men. Through the long hours the
prisoners were cabined and confined in a very limited space, listening
to the progress of the battle which still raged outside, and hearing the
hail of bullets, hostile and friendly, that spluttered and splintered
around the fort. It was a dreadful day of suspense and agony. Food was
handed in, but water, owing to the tanks having been perforated by
bullets, was scarce, and the sufferings of the wounded, both Britons and
Boers, were horrible. Bravely Mr. Dunlop Smith and his assistants
responded to the call of Eloff to assist the wounded Boers, and nobly
they risked their lives over and over again, running the gantlet of the
British fire in the service of their fellow-creatures.

Meanwhile Baden-Powell's braves had surrounded the fort, and managed to
make a vigorous stand against further encroachment of the enemy, while
skirmishing of a more or less desperate kind was taking place in the
direction of the stadt, round the kraal, and a kopje in its vicinity.


The capture of the kraal and surroundings by Major Godley, Captain
Marsh, and Captain Fitzclarence was ingeniously accomplished. They had
not taken lessons in Boer warfare for six months for nothing,
consequently, instead of making themselves targets for the foe, they
crept towards the walls, bored loopholes with their bayonets, and poured
their fire on the invaders. These fought pluckily, but presently came
the artillery, and directly the order was given to commence fire the
enemy thought it high time to surrender. Then came the question of the
fort, where Colonel Hore was still the prisoner of Eloff. Brisk and
accurate firing took place, and so hot was the attack that many of the
British were wounded by their own people. The victorious Eloff and his
party, cut off from his supports and devoid of the assistance reckoned
on from Snyman, now found his position as conqueror highly unenviable.
Night was coming on, and many of his party struggled to slink out and
desert him, but he fired on them and left their dead bodies to add to
the confusion. Finally, as there was no help from without,
Eloff--surrounded by Colonel Baden-Powell's troops--did the only thing
that could be done in the circumstances--he surrendered to his own
prisoner, Colonel Hore. Thereupon, he, and others of his gang, numbering
110, including Baron de Bremont, Captain von Weissmann, and several
field-cornets, were deprived of their arms and marched into the town, to
be accommodated in the Masonic Hall and in the jail. Their appearance
was greeted with courteous silence and a certain admiration for the
daring of the attack, but the exuberance of the Kaffirs was uncheckable,
and they hooted lustily. They had suffered much at the hands of their
tormentors, and in this, their hour of triumph, they would not be
denied. Of the Boers, 110 were prisoners, 10 were killed, and 19
wounded. It was supposed that other corpses may have been dragged away
and disposed of by the natives, who thus got possession of rifles, which
weapons had been refused them by the British.

The British casualties were:--

     _Killed._--Lieutenant Phillips, Trooper Maltuschek, Trooper
     Duberley. _Wounded._--Captain Singleton, Lieutenant G. Bridges,
     Sergeant Hoskings, Regimental Sergeant-Major S. Malley--all of
     the Protectorate Regiment; Hazelrigg, Cape Police; Smidt, Town

Sergeant-Major Heale, in charge of the Dutch prisoners, an esteemed
member of the garrison, was killed by a shell. Of Trooper Maltuschek, a
few words written by Major Baillie deserve to be quoted, as showing the
manner of man and Briton he was. It appears that the gallant fellow
absolutely declined to surrender, and fought till he was killed. "It
wasn't a case of dashing in and dashing out and having your fun and a
fight; it was a case of resolution to die sooner than throw down your
arms; the wisdom may be questionable, the heroism undoubted. He wasn't
taking any surrender. As far as I am concerned, I have seen the British
assert their superiority over foreigners before now, but this man, in my
opinion, though I did not see him die, was the bravest man who fought on
either side that day. It is a good thing to be an Englishman. These
foreigners start too quick and finish quicker. They are good men, but we
are better, and have proved so for several hundred years. I had always
wanted to see the Englishman fight in a tight hole, and I know what he
is worth now. He can outstay the other chap." In these last words is
the whole summing up of the story of battle. In Mafeking, particularly
on this terrific day, the British men--and women--had "outstayed the
other chap."

The reason that the loss after so many hours' fighting was comparatively
insignificant, was owing to the fact that the garrison was so splendidly
handled, and that every soul, ladies included, took a plucky share in
the work. Lady Sarah Wilson, Mrs. Buchan, Miss Crawford, and Miss Hill,
the matron of the hospital, all distinguished themselves by their plucky
actions; and Mrs. Winter and Mrs. Bradley were indefatigable in
ministering to the wants of the men. Even the most peaceful beings
became bellicose in the common cause, and Reuter's correspondent gave an
amusing account of how Mr. Whales, the editor of the _Mafeking Mail_,
who was exceedingly plucky but quite unacquainted with military matters,
comported himself in the dire emergency. When the railway workshops were
manned Mr. Whales got a gun to help; but every time he discharged it, it
hit him on the nose, with the result that when all was over, he returned
to the bosom of his family covered with his own blood!

Of course this was merely a passing jocosity, for the same chronicler
declared that "the most interesting phase of the fight was the manner in
which every one in the town showed himself ready to take his share in
its defence. The seven months' siege had left very few cowards. All
sorts of men who have staff billets and do not generally man the forts
seized rifles and hurried to the railway line, the jail, and the
workshops, resolved to die in the last ditch, which was the railway
line, within three hundred yards of the market-square, the enemy being
only five hundred yards below the line." He further said, "It is
customary in London rather to look down on town guards, Volunteers, and
citizen soldiers, but it was by these that the town was held and
Commandant Eloff was beaten."

Strange tales were told in that eventful day of the kind treatment meted
out to the Boers. They were given clean towels and soap (the latter was
at first mistaken for an eatable), and tended like brothers, while all
the past aggravations endured at their hands were forgotten or at least
ignored. The prisoners, wounded or sound, were greeted almost
affectionately by the town. Such drink as there was was shared, and for
the time being, amid the general jubilation, at the close of the
melodramatic episodes of the day it was difficult to decide which were
the happier, friend or foe. Thus generously wrote Mr. Angus Hamilton of
the enemy: "We who had been prisoners and were now free rejoiced in the
liberty which was restored to us, yet it was difficult to restrain
oneself from feeling compassionately upon the great misfortunes which
had attended the extraordinary dash and gallantry of the men who were
now our prisoners. They had done their best. They had proved to us that
they were indeed capable, and that we should have kept a sharper
look-out, while it was indeed deplorable to think that it was the
treachery of their own general in abandoning them to their fate, that
had been mainly instrumental in procuring them their present

Sergeant Stuart's account of his experiences was curious. On the morning
that Eloff entered, he heard shooting at the east end of the town, and
sprang out of bed, "shoved" on a coat, and seized his rifle. When he got
out he saw flames at the west end, and ran across the open towards the
fort. When he came nearer he saw 400 Boers looking over a wall. They
cried out, 'Up hands! surrender.' He was within forty yards, so he
turned and bolted. They fired but did not touch him, and he reached the
fort. He surrendered soon after, with Colonel Hore and twenty-four
others. They were put into a little hut, and kept there all day, firing
going on all round. At 6 P.M. Eloff came into the room--about six feet
square--and leant against the door, and said, 'Where is Colonel Hore?'
'There he is.' 'I surrender,' said Eloff, 'if you will spare our lives
and stop the firing.' The prisoners then sprang up and took their rifles
from them, making them their prisoners. Another authority declared that
when Eloff was taken before Colonel Baden-Powell, that officer with his
customary ease received him affably, and merely said, "Come and have
dinner; I am just about to have mine!" Certain it is that Commandant
Eloff, Captain von Weissmann, and Captain Bremont were entertained at


There were whispers in Bloemfontein, there were whispers in Kimberley,
there were whispers in Natal. Secretly a scheme, originated by Sir
Archibald Hunter (commanding Tenth Division), for the relief of Mafeking
was being organised, and the action was to be started so that the
movements of the flying column formed for the purpose should synchronise
with Lord Roberts's great advance on Pretoria. The Imperial Light Horse
(Colonel Edwards) whose laurels had grown green in the harsh nursery of
Ladysmith, were brought over from Natal; the Diamond Fields Horse, and
the Kimberley Light Horse (Colonel King), who had developed into
veterans to the tune of the Kamferdam big gun, were marked down for the
dashing enterprise. Some picked men--twenty-five from each of the four
battalions of Barton's Fusilier Brigade, under Captain Carr (7th
Royals)--were also included among the "braves" who were to form part of
Mahon's flying column, and M Battery R.H.A., under Major Jackson.

The object of the flying column was to fly, but at the same time it
behoved the expedition to be discreet in its rush, for any advance that
could not provide convoy, stores, and medical comfort for the relief
would have ended in a showy demonstration which would have been more
embarrassing to the besieged than satisfactory. It was necessary to go
well laden, and thus keep together the body and soul of Mafeking, and
the party of rescuers were immovable till General Hunter, slower and
surer in his progress, should have advanced along the railway and
repaired the line. It was also imperative to avoid, if possible, any
collision with the enemy till Mafeking should be neared, and there was a
chance of co-operation by Colonel Plumer's and Colonel Baden-Powell's


The organisation of the transport was therefore a very serious
undertaking, one which engaged all the attention of Major Money, R.A.,
for over a week, and which involved indescribable labour. Major Money's
qualifications as an organiser have been described as second only to
those of Colonel Ward, the "Universal Provider" of Ladysmith. Assisting
also was Captain Cobbe (Bengal Lancers), who had been laboriously
engaged in transport work both in Naauwpoort and Kimberley.

Efforts to maintain secrecy regarding the movement of the force were
many, and all connected with the programme were vowed to silence
regarding the objective of the march; yet, for all that, the Boers knew
when it had started, indeed they declared that a week before the event,
the Mafeking besiegers had heard of the project, and were firmly
convinced of their ability to cut off the party at Roodoo's Rand, or
failing that, to smash it up at a point nearer its destination.

The Imperial Horse quietly encamped at Dronfield in order to excite as
little suspicion as possible, then followed M Battery R.H.A., under
Major Jackson, and two "pom-poms" under Captain Robinson. Meanwhile some
of the Imperial Yeomanry and Kimberley Volunteers sprayed out over the
region of Barkly West and Spitzkop, in order to clear the way for the
advancing column. At Dronfield also the transport work was carried on,
fifty-five waggons being loaded by Major Weil and Sir John Willoughby,
both zealous officers, who were full of keenness in the undertaking;
while the De Beers community, whose ardour in Imperial matters was
proved, continued to throw themselves heart and soul into the great
scheme. Twenty waggons contained stores; five, medical comforts; and the
rest were loaded with the wherewithal to feed 1100 men and 1200 horses.

At Barkley West was Colonel Mahon, with Colonel Rhodes as intelligence
officer. Major Baden-Powell, Scots Guards, the brother of the hero of
Mafeking; Captain Bell-Smythe, the brigade major; Prince Alexander of
Teck, Sir John Willoughby, Major Maurice Gifford--the one-armed soldier
of Matabele fame--were also among the select number, whose good fortune
it was to engage in the exciting enterprise.

The column slowly moved out on a nine miles' march to Greefputs, which
was, so to speak, the official starting-point--a grand force composed of
some of the smartest men of the colony and in the pink of condition!

From the latter place to Spitzkop, a distance of nineteen miles, the
column moved on the morning of the 5th of May. About mid-day the troops
had intended to advance, but a rumour of Boers in the distance arrested
their progress. On the east, ten miles off, could be heard the knocking
of General Hunter's guns and some Boerish retorts, and somewhere, in
kopjes in the vicinity, were rebels or Dutchmen--at least so it was
said, but after a brisk search the road was reported clear, and the
march proceeded, through the blistering sunshine, over the scorching
western plains to a place called Warwick's Store, and from thence, after
a halt for refreshment, on to Gunning Store, a total distance of
thirty-five miles. As may be imagined the cool of the moon-blue night
was refreshing to the toasted wanderers, and still more refreshing was
the capture of two waggon-loads of rebels and their Mausers. Time was
not wasted for much slumber or much breakfasting, and by 6 A.M. on the
6th the column was proceeding on its way towards Espach Drift on the
left bank of the Harts River. The nine miles' journey was accomplished
by 9.30, where the column outspanned till 2.30. At that hour they
started to complete their twenty miles in the sunshine, which landed
them at Banks Drift--a deep drift where watering the horses was no easy
matter. In this locality, called Greefdale Store, wood was scarce, but
still the troops were within stone's throw of food, and were able to
supplement the scanty rations which had been cut down to the smallest
possible figure. The daily allowance was not sumptuous. A great deal of
valour and cheeriness had to be sustained on ½ lb. of meat, ¾ lb. of
biscuit, 2 oz. of sugar, 1/3 oz. of coffee, and 1/6 oz. of tea. When
fresh meat could be captured a change of diet was seized as a relief,
and loot from rebels helped to fill the growing vacuum. In certain
localities fowls and bread were purchasable. In others beer made a
welcome variety to the daily quantum of grog--a tot of rum or lime
juice--but really substantial meals were few and far between.

An unfortunate occurrence blighted the day's proceedings. Major
Baden-Powell, who, full of rejoicing, was going to the rescue of his
brother, met with a nasty accident. His horse in crossing the deep sand
of the veldt bungled, and the Major sustained injuries which made him
unconscious for some hours. Happily he recovered with the elasticity of
his race, and there was no fear that Colonel Baden-Powell's hope,
expressed in December,[5] would fail to be gratified.

From Greefdale, on the 7th, the column marched to Muchadin, moving on
the right bank of Harts River. Nothing eventful occurred, and the rest
of the twenty miles was traversed by 5 P.M. They were now some miles to
west of Taungs. This region was found to be evacuated by the Dutchmen,
though remains of their recent occupation were evident. The railway
station was taken possession of by Major Mullins and a squadron of the
Imperial Light Horse. Telegrams were found giving valuable insight into
the Dutch moves, and showing that the Boers were lying in wait near
Pudimoe, the place--encrusted with menacing rows of kopjes--that the
column was about to approach on the morrow.

Next day the column was on the move earlier than usual. Before dawn all
were astir, and the distance from Taungs to Pudimoe, twelve miles, was
covered by 8.30 A.M. The Boers were invisible. They were ensconced
somewhere, with intent to pounce, it was certain, but Colonel Mahon
determined, if possible, to avoid imbroglio till the finish. At 10 the
troops were moving on to a place called Dry Harts Siding, which was
reached at noon. But there was little rest, for on this day twenty-eight
miles were covered, ten miles being marched in the cool of the evening.
At 9 P.M. under the blinking stars, they outspanned at a place called
Brussels Farm, where food--hot food, ardently desired and eagerly stowed
away--was plentiful.


Commander of the Mafeking Relief Force]

The next morning the force was on its way to Vryburg, doing eight miles
before 9 A.M. They took up the thread of their travels at noon, marched
another thirteen miles, and found themselves by tea-time at the desired
and welcome haven of rest. The stores were at once invaded, and creature
comforts were purchased at heavy rates. The British were received with
some show of enthusiasm. In the little white town margined with
aromatic, emerald-leafed pepper trees banners waved and Union Jacks
fluttered, and passers-by came in for a handshake with men of their own
kind, who invited them to "pot-luck." Some of a commando that had been
lurking in the vicinity of Pudimoe now trickled in and surrendered;
other members of the Dutch conspiracy turned informer, while the loyal
British subjects, who had declined to rebel to order of the Boers,
poured out their experiences. One of them declared that during the Boer
reign in the town British ladies who had remained there were not
permitted to walk on the causeway, a regulation that in the Transvaal
had previously been confined to Kaffirs! In other respects, beyond
despoiling the police camp and the former Bechuanaland Residency, the
Boers had done little harm.

A leaf from the diary of a member of the Scots Fusiliers describes this
halt in a town which was somewhat Janus-faced in its loyalty:--

     "_9th May._--I awoke much refreshed by my good night's rest.
     5.30 A.M.--On the march. The ground being densely shrubby, many
     halts have to be made to allow the scouts to reconnoitre the
     front. 10 A.M.--Roodepoort. We are now nine miles from Vryburg.
     Water and rations are, as usual, scarce. 11 A.M.--'Halloa! what
     the deuce is this?' A gaily decorated carriage with three
     pretty maidens! 'Well, I never! what can they want!' Oh, thank
     you, as they gracefully throw us some loaves of lovely white
     bread, and with the most charming of smiles welcome us to
     Vryburg. 'Bravo,' my bonny lassies! had it not been for my
     uncouth apparel and bristly whiskers, 'a kiss,' I should have
     vaunted you. 12 noon.--So the Boers have fled from Vryburg!
     What an infernal pack of cowards, and no mistake! All the
     better for us; the less opposition the sooner at our journey's
     end. 2 P.M.--We continue the march. 5 P.M.--Vryburg. An
     enthusiastic crowd of supposed loyalists greet our arrival with
     cheers. Somehow their welcome is not at all appreciated. Most
     of them are Dutch, and, considering the Boers have been amongst
     them until two days ago, we fail to see what loyalty they could
     have established for us in so short a time. 7 P.M.--On outpost;
     an exceedingly cold night."

But whatever the sentiments of the people, there was decent food and a
brief chance of comfortably partaking of it, and there was a sigh when
the enjoyable time came to an end, and Vryburg, with its apology for
civilisation, its costly meals and inferior cigars, so highly
appreciated in those days of sparse comfort, had to be left behind.
Farewell drinks--beer, gin and lime-juice, green chartreuse, tea--were
disposed of, and then from five till midnight the steady march onwards
was pursued. The conditions of the march, if nothing worse, were
uncomfortable. No man dared betray his presence with the whiff of a
cigar; and after the sun-scorchings of the baking African day, the
searching, chill air of the moonlit veldt nipped the bones and filled
the frame with aguish apprehensions. So cold were the nights that some
declared they had to sleep walking up and down to save themselves from
being frozen. Still, through it all, every member of the gallant band
remembered the glorious object of his mission, and, when inclined to
growl, packed away personal irritations and meditated on the number of
hours which would elapse before London would be ringing with the news of
the great relief. Every soul of this goodly company was swelling with
pride and satisfaction at having the good luck to be among those chosen
for the spirited exploit, and it was this pride, this almost heroic
afflatus, which served to cast into insignificance the thousand and one
inconveniences, trying to constitution and to temper, which were
involved in this momentous if fatiguing march. It is true, bullet and
shell were as yet only in the near future, but the aggravations of
these, as all men agreed, were not to be compared with the sustained
fret of marching under unrelenting sunshine, sleeping in violent chills,
eating irresponsive biscuit, tackling "bully" without the assistance of
a hatchet as a mincer; and enduring through all a parching thirst, a
perpetual craving for water, which, when found, bred a loathly suspicion
of the imps of enteric and dysentery that might lurk therein. As Mr.
Stuart of the _Morning Post_ declared: "To go through ten or a dozen of
our days uncomplainingly was a higher test of manhood than to fight,
howsoever gallantly. To stand to arms an hour before sunrise, possibly
to march for hours without a cup of coffee in the empty stomach,
possibly to do patrol or picket as soon as the outspan place was
selected, to return barely in time for a wad of stringy beef and some
chunks of biscuit, to march again across the sand or over lumpy grass,
so tired that at every halt they lay at their horses' feet dozing till
the unwelcome 'Stand to your horses' was called, to go to bed without
fire, without the last sleepy pipe: that was often what Mahon's men
called a day."

It is well to emphasise what may be called the greys and drabs and
neutral tints that go to the making up of a complete picture of
heroism; it is imperative to appreciate the superb nuances which in
their very retirement and unostentatious inconspicuousness made the
background to now immemorial scenes in our nation's history. There are
so many who have contributed their tiny inch of fine neutral tint, their
little all of patience and self-abnegation to make up this
background--infinitesimal atoms in the great machinery, whose names and
histories are enveloped in the vast dust bosom of the veldt, yet who,
unknown and unsung, have contributed the "mickle" which has made the
"muckle" belonging to the Empire. The ruminations of a soldier, who,
rolled up in his overcoat, was struggling to sleep, shows the pathetic
side of the brilliant undertaking: "Horses and mules are dropping down
from sheer exhaustion, unfit for further service. They are left on the
veldt a prey to the hungry vultures.... I shudder as I inwardly apply
the case to myself, how perhaps in years to come, when of no more use to
my country, I am left, like those poor creatures, to the mercy of an
ungrateful world, or, worse still, thrown as a pauper into some home of

On the 11th they were early astir in the dewy air of the morning, moving
across open country to Majana Mabili, which was reached at 7.30 A.M.,
and on from this place after tea, on and on for eleven miles, till the
stars began to shimmer, and moon to light the open veldt. The night was
spent at a spot known as the "Hill without Water," a name sufficiently
inhospitable and repellent.

Nearly the whole of the 12th was spent in marching, with short periods
for rest, from Jacobspan to Setlagoli, the latter part of the way over
infamous roads, drifts, and stretches of sand, ledged with limestone and
other impediments disastrous to cattle and to the tempers of their
owners. However, the reception in Setlagoli compensated for many
discomforts, for at the hotel, the proprietor of which was a Scotsman,
there was fat fare and "a true Scots welcome," which in other words
means that the company regaled themselves at the expense of mine host,
who refused to accept any equivalent for his hospitality! During the day
some sad scenes had occurred, scenes so pathetic that they touched the
hearts of the rank and file in the pursuance of their duty. One of them
said, "Some Dutch farmers who had been brought in by our scouts as
suspects, were followed by their wives and children. Undoubtedly the
poor women thought that after examination by the chief officer they
would be allowed to return with them. As it was, however, we had some
very clever detectives with us, who unfortunately caused them to be
handed over to the guard as prisoners. The women in their extreme
anguish at seeing their husbands about to be separated from them, rushed
in amongst us, flung their arms around their necks, and refused to leave
them. The scene that followed was a pitiful one, and not until the
convoy had gone some distance on its way did their heart-rending cries
cease to be heard."

On Sunday the 13th of May the plot began to thicken. Colonel Mahon, as
we are aware, had been reserving himself, knowing that the nearer he
came to his destination, the more certain was he of repeated tussles
with the enemy. Native scouts now informed him the Dutchmen were
assembling at Maribogo, hanging round Kraaipan Siding, and lurking in
their hundreds in the frowning kopjes that fringed the nek near Koodoo's
Rand. Precautions were taken, and all remembered the Mafeking besiegers
had bragged of their intention to cut off the party at Koodoo's Rand.
The Light Horse, in very extended columns of squadrons, provided the
advance and the scouts, and the transport moved in five parallel
columns. Nothing as yet was seen of the Boers, and the troops reached a
point nine miles off, called Brodie's Farm, in safety. Here they watered
their horses, and rested till the early afternoon. Here they were joined
by an officer who had ridden from Colonel Plumer's force, which, acting
on information received, had by then reached Canea. Three questions were
forwarded from Colonel Plumer. First, he wished to know the number of
Colonel Mahon's men; second, his guns; third, the amount of his
supplies. It became necessary to concoct a reply which should defeat the
curiosity of the Boers, and to that end Colonel Mahon and Colonel Rhodes
put their astute heads together, with the result that for the number of
men they answered, _The Naval and Military Club multiplied by ten_ (94
Piccadilly). The number of guns was described as _The number of brothers
in the Ward family_ (six); and the amount of supplies was represented by
_The C.O., 9th Lancers_ (Small, Little). It was now decided that both
Colonels--the relieving officers--should join hands at Jan Massibi's,
Colonel Mahon's plan being to make a detour to the north-west of his
route and thus surprise the enemy, who imagined he would come straight
by way of Wright's Farm.

Now came a critical moment. The column moved out from Brodie's Farm in
the afternoon, and had scarcely started before they became aware that
Boers were slinking everywhere, behind trees, in the scrub, in the dried
grass of the veldt. They had been so admirably concealed that the
Imperial Light Horse scouts had ridden beyond them. Now, however, when
they began to blaze away with rifles from the scrub, the scouts turned
upon them, caught them in the rear, while in front they were greeted
with such warm volleys that they made for their horses, which had been
deftly hidden in the bush. Others of their number strove to get a chance
of enfilading the convoy, which was promptly diverted from its course to
the left, while the guns galloped to the rescue, and took up a position
that commanded the open ground to the right, and here blazed away,
pouring cascades of shrapnel whenever the smoke from the Dutchmen's
Mausers gave them a clue to the whereabouts of the hostile weapons, and
a chance to put in some execution. Meanwhile, the Boers were firing fast
and furious at the gunners, and awaiting reinforcements which were
spurring across the far distance. The Imperial Light Horse, dashing as
ever, were pouring volleys into the enemy, and sweeping them towards the
British 12-pounders, and there was a good half-hour's brisk interchange
of aggressions, much of the fighting being done on foot and at fairly
close quarters. The pom-poms also rapped out a warning tune, and the
smart Light Horse, now riding, now dismounted, hunted the foe across the
ochreous grass of the veldt, keeping him perpetually on the run, or
"winging" him so that he could run no more. Meanwhile Colonel King, on
the right rear with his Kimberley men, assisted in the fight, and
finally after much volleying and sniping the Dutchmen took themselves
off. But the brilliant skirmish was not without its penalties, for
twenty-one men were wounded, while six--including a native driver who
had been knocked from his waggon in the course of the fray--were killed.
Major Mullins of the Light Horse was seriously injured in the spine, an
unlucky incident, following, as it did, on the loss to the gallant
regiment of Major Wools Sampson and Major Doveton. Corporal Davis of A
Squadron was hit, but managed even afterwards to do considerable damage
among the Boers. Mr. Hands, the correspondent of the _Daily Mail_,
sustained a compound fracture of the thigh, and Major Baden-Powell
narrowly escaped, so narrowly, indeed, that his watch was stopped and a
whistle twisted in his pocket by the force of the bullet. Captain
Mullins, Kimberley Mounted Corps, was also injured.

After their exhilarating and successful conflict it was decided that the
force should bivouac where they were, the country to the north having
been scouted and reported free of the enemy. It was said also to be
devoid of water. No water could be found, and food was scanty, but the
troops after their satisfactory rout of the Boers went to sleep in the
moonlight full, if of nothing else, of contentment!

With the passage of every hour precautions became more necessary, for
the Boers might now be expected to crop up from any quarter. At 6 A.M.
the troops started, the men riding six yards apart from each other, for
Buck Reef Farm, a distance of five miles. A drift had to be negotiated,
and water from the bed of the River Maretsani was dug up, and, richly
yellow though it was, enjoyed. It was necessary to make the most of this
refreshing if suspicious draught, for now the march onwards promised to
be almost entirely waterless, with the enemy possibly mounting guard
over any pools which might present themselves.

Through the long dull afternoon they trailed upwards over a hill for
eight long miles, and then on, for another eight, ploughing the sand and
wearily craving for water. Man and beast were united in the common want,
the absorbing yearning. Day passed into twilight and dusk broke into
moonbeams; then, jaded and travel-sore, they outspanned for a brief

At 1 A.M. on the 15th they were again on the move, and by 3 A.M. were
making their way over the plains of sand and tussocky grass towards the
one haven of their desire, Jan Massibi's--every nerve and muscle
strained to meet Colonel Plumer and his small force to time, to get to
the trysting-place with celerity and secrecy which should outwit the
Boers, and prevent them driving a wedge between the two relief columns
that had endured so much to arrive at a now almost achieved end! So, on
and on, half asleep, half awake, famished, dry, aching, dull but not
desponding, they went, halting often, napping sometimes, mounting again
and pursuing their way towards that ever-to-be-desired point in the west
where Plumer was thought to be. And sure enough there they found him!
The day dawned, the morning brightened, and in the distance, light--a
glow of fires--was seen. Between the relievers and the glare was a
native stadt, and nearer still a river. Here the scouts in advance came
on other scouts, eyed them suspiciously, eagerly, delightedly. They were
Plumer's scouts, and the joy of the encounter amply compensated for the
pains of all who had covered during the past two days twenty-eight
miserable miles in miserable condition. All the weariness of the night
was forgotten, all the discomforts set aside. The horses galloped to the
Molopo brink like wild creatures, drinking furiously; and the men, too,
milder in their transport, greeted the streak of glittering stream with
unfeigned rejoicing.

It must here be noted that while the column was moving from Buck Reef
Farm to Jan Massibi's, Colonel Plumer's force was approaching the same
point from the north, and beautifully, like the grooves of a Chinese
puzzle, the two relief parties met together about 5 A.M. Colonel Plumer
was accompanied by his regiment of Rhodesians, some 350 of them, who for
five months, under exceptional difficulties of climate and conditions,
had been untiring in their efforts to hold back the enemy in their
attempt to invade Rhodesia _via_ Tuli, and in their determination to
retain the Bulawayo Railway for over 200 miles south of the Rhodesian
border in British hands. This diminutive force, though it had achieved
so much, had been powerless for want of guns to achieve still more.
Colonel Plumer, in addition to Colonel Spreckley and others who had been
fighting with him, was accompanied now, by a battery of Canadian
Artillery, under Major Hudon (an officer whose delicate French accent
gave a refining touch to the British tongue), and some 200
Queenslanders. How Colonel Plumer came into possession of the valuable
addition to his troops must be described. It may be remembered that a
force called the Rhodesian Field Force, numbering some 5000 men and 7000
horses, under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick
Carrington, was originated to provide against the contingency of an
attack on Rhodesia from the south, and to avert any plan on the part of
the Boers to migrate or escape to the north. It was composed mainly of
Colonial troops, and placed in charge of a general whose unequalled
experience of the country through which he was travelling and fighting
made him unusually valuable. Besides Colonials were some 1100 Yeomanry,
a company of the Lancashire, Belfast and Dublin's, and Lord Dunraven's


While Sir Frederick Carrington was at Capetown he, knowing that Colonel
Plumer's force was weak in artillery, devised a scheme for helping him.
He made an arrangement with Mr. Zeederberg--the well-known Rhodesian
coach-owner and a first-rate type of the Colonial Dutchman--by which the
guns before named and escort were to be conveyed by mail coaches to the
Rhodesian column. Mr. Zeederberg accompanied the General to Beira, and
there telegraphed to Rhodesia suspending the ordinary mail service
(conveying passengers and mails from Salisbury and Bulawayo), and
diverting the mules to the Marandellas-Bulawayo Road. That done, no
sooner had the troops steamed from Beira to Marandellas than the men
were transferred to the stage-coaches and the mules were hitched to the
guns, and thus the force was got to Bulawayo twenty days earlier than
they would have done if moved in the ordinary manner.

The active way in which the Colonials threw themselves into the movement
deserves consideration. On the 13th of April C Battery of the Royal
Canadian Artillery, under Major Hudon, were ordered to proceed _via_ the
Cape to Beira, there to join General Sir Frederick Carrington's force.
They reached their destination on the 22nd, and entrained for
Marandellas, where the General had established his base camp. After a
long and trying journey in open trucks, scorched by sun, burnt by sparks
from the engine, agued by night chills, and jolted on one of what is
called the worst railways in the world, they reached their destination
on the 26th. Colonel Plumer was known to be helpless without artillery,
and therefore no time was to be lost, as every haste was necessary to
equip that officer for the approaching operations.

Accordingly the "Salisbury to Bulawayo" resources were utilised as has
been described, and two guns left Marandellas on the 30th of April,
followed on May the 1st and 2nd by others, which were carried a distance
of over 300 miles to Bulawayo by the 6th. From Bulawayo they were
forwarded to Ootsi, where the rail was found to be destroyed, and
consequently the remaining sixty miles to Safeteli were accomplished by
a forced march. Colonel Plumer was joined by the Colonials on the 14th,
and at once proceeded to meet Colonel Mahon at Jan Massibi's. A more
ingenious synchronal achievement can scarcely be imagined.


Photo by Bassano, London]

The meeting of Colonel Mahon and Colonel Plumer was most cordial, and
many old chums and acquaintances forgathered and cheerily exchanged
reminiscences over their morning coffee. Here, in this remote corner of
South Africa, near the brown thatched cottages of Jan Massibi's staadt,
was gathered around in the sunlight a stalwart company of picked men
whose equal could scarcely be discovered in any part of the world. Men
of breeding and distinction; men in the prime of life, brawny and tough
and smart; men intellectual, courageous to daredevilry, and withal full
of resource. Here, on the Kimberley side, were warriors old and
tried--Colonel King, who had been General Hunter's aide-de-camp in
Ladysmith; Colonel Peakman, the hero of many Kimberley fights; Major
Karri Davies and dashing Colonel Edwards; popular Colonel Rhodes the
pioneer; and the ever-jovial Dr. Davies of the Light Horse. There were
Prince Alexander of Teck, a youthful veteran by now; Major the Hon.
Maurice Gifford, a soldier to the finger-nails; Captain Bell-Smythe, the
energetic brigade-major; and many more, all chivalrous and hardy men of

On the Rhodesian side were other grand specimens of British manhood.
There was first the colonel--bronzed, dark-eyed, meditative--a man who
without display had skirmished his way along the border-side from Tuli
downwards, keeping the Boers in eternal suspense and so perpetually
employed that they were unable to gain breathing time to concentrate
their energies on Mafeking. Next came Colonel White, one of the bulwarks
of Rhodesia; an adventurous spirit of the first order, an unerring shot,
and, like most of his comrades, a chip of the old British block that
furnished the material of the Light Brigade. There were Colonel
Spreckley, a seasoned and notable fighter, alas! engaging in almost his
last exploit, and Colonel Bodle of the British South Africa Police, a
tower of strength, with vast experience of the western frontier of the
Transvaal, and the necessary "slimness"--cultivated in a practical
school--without which the handling of live eels like the Boers was
impossible. There were Major Bird, another gallant and indefatigable
officer; Lieutenant Harland, bright, blue-eyed, and buoyant, a typical
British soldier; and Lieutenant Smitheman, valiant as Mettus Curtius and
acute as a weazel--the first officer who had been successful in worming
himself into Mafeking and out again!

Colonel Mahon's force had been travelling at the rate of twenty-two
miles a day over sandy tracks and waterless deserts, and skirmishing by
the way. They were, by now, very sun-baked and weary, but jovial beyond
measure. In the evening camp-fires were lighted and goodly fare roasted,
the flesh of captured oxen coming in handy to appease the appetite of
the voracious travellers. It was a grand night of rest and plenty and
cheeriness at the thought of work accomplished, and of plans which
promised to end in triumph over the enemy. A spirit of _camaraderie_
prevailed. All alike were tingling with the glow of ambition which
hatches heroes. It was an unique company--an inter-British-national
throng, and vastly interesting in its heterogeneous characteristics. The
Bushmen were perhaps the most curious and refreshing type of the
Imperial Brotherhood. Every one with an appreciation for the genuine was
swift to pronounce them delightful fellows, sound in wind and limb, full
of go, spirited and keen for work of any kind that came to hand. In
addition to this they were friendly and hospitable, would share their
last chunk of "bully" with any one who was suffering from a vacuum, and
had the "nous" to forage for themselves and find their way about in the
veldt in a manner that excited as much admiration as surprise. They
could ride too. They sat a buckjumper as a child sits a swing, and
seemed to be horsemasters as it were by instinct. Full to overflowing
with loyalty, they talked of home and Queen as though they had been born
on the steps of Buckingham Palace. They were democratic withal. Their
loyalty was to the superb, the estimable, and the Queen to them was the
sample of the ideal womanhood, holding them enslaved by the power that
is the firmest of all powers--the hair-line of respect.

To return to our "moutons" and to the sheep-pen in the heart of the
veldt. At last dawned the memorable 16th--the ever-to-be-remembered
morning when Mafeking, like a little white clothes-drying yard, came to
be seen in the distance. All along the north bank of the Molopo for nine
miles had marched the two columns, Colonel Plumer's Brigade leading,
followed by Colonel Edwards and the Second Brigade, till at last, in the
far grey plain, the little hamlet that had been the subject of so much
persecution and so much British anxiety, came in sight.

Then all were prepared for the worst or for the best. They lunched
frugally, cooled themselves with draughts from the clear river, and then
... then the enemy made his last, his expiring effort. He began to blaze
with his rifles on the extreme left, and continued so to blaze till
volley followed volley. Off went the Light Horse buoyant and brisk
towards the north, followed by Colonel King and his redoubtable
"Kimburlians," who started to frustrate any attempt at a rear attack.
But this attempt not being made he joined forces with the Light Horse,
with whom were M Battery and the pom-poms.

Meanwhile the Boers in front began to ply their guns "for all they were
worth," shifting their pieces so as to enfilade the right of the
British, thinking on that flank to make a more favourable impression.
But on both fronts some Dutchmen were collected, and those on the left
were engaged by the Light Horse and a section of M Battery, while on the
right Colonel Plumer's Maxim-Nordenfeldt with the Battery of the
Canadians did excellent execution. Two squadrons of Rhodesians advanced
from the south across the river, to watch Boer reinforcements which
hovered in the distance.

The Boers now made an effort to attack the convoy, which had been
diverted to the left; but here the Dutchmen had the astute Colonel
Peakman to deal with. This officer promptly set his guns to work, and
pounded them with such precision and warmth that they were glad enough
to fall back on their main body. Then the Canadians assailed them, and
later Captain Montmorency with his Maxim-Nordenfeldt silenced the big
Boer gun. So effective was the action of the artillery that about 3 P.M.
the Boers were beginning to show signs of removal. Meanwhile the Light
Horse and the Kimberley troops were pushing boldly on, and by four
o'clock the besiegers were on the run, their scurrying silhouettes
dotting for a moment or two the skyline and then vanishing into space!

On the right fighting still lingered on, the enemy trying hard to hold
their ground, the Canadians trying equally hard to dislodge them from a
position before Mafeking known as the White House. There was some tough
work here, and presently M Battery from 3600 yards north of the house
came to the assistance of the Canadians. Finally the Fusiliers and the
Queenslanders with fixed bayonets, and a rush and roar, assailed the
enemy's last position, and the door to Mafeking was opened! Off
scrambled the remnant of the Boer hordes, leaving behind them ammunition
and many other things grateful to the hearts of the conquerors.

For the first time the enemy found themselves outmatched in the way of
guns as in the way of wits. Gloating, they had been circling round
Mafeking, waiting with confidence for an exhausted force. They found
instead a force that had marched warily, and reserved itself, and came
with full rush upon them; a force that had been concentrating its
energies to give them as much fighting as they cared for. The whole
route was now purged of Boers, and when at dusk the column outspanned it
was but for a brief hour or two. Without warning, Colonel Mahon
inspanned again, determining to take advantage of the moonlight and the
clear road; in a very short time he was wending his way towards the
great destination. At four o'clock on the morning of the 17th his
mission was accomplished!

The losses were many, for the fighting, during the short time it lasted,
was fierce and sustained; and the Boer force numbered some 2000, while
the British columns amounted to about 1500. There were over sixty killed
and wounded:--

     Lieutenant Edwin Harland, Hampshire Regiment--commanding C
     Squadron Rhodesian Regiment, was killed. The following were
     wounded: 2nd Royal West Surrey Regiment--Major W. D. Bird,
     severe. British South Africa Police--Lieutenant Richard Sherman
     Godley, slight. Rhodesian Regiment--Lieutenant John Alexander
     Forbes, slight. Royal Horse Artillery--Lieutenant N. M. Gray,
     severe. Kimberley Mounted Corps--Captain C. P. Fisher, slight.
     Imperial Light Horse--Lieutenant Hew Campbell Ross, slight.

Gallant young Harland was generally regretted. He had taken the place of
Captain Maclaren when that officer was wounded in the attempt to rescue
Mafeking on the 31st, and had displayed such first-rate talents, both as
soldier and scout, that he had earned for himself the title of
"Baden-Powell the Second."

The following table describes the forces engaged in the Relief:--

     MAFEKING.--Protectorate Regiment (800), Cape Mounted Police,
     British South Africa Company's Mounted Police, Bechuanaland
     Rifles--1500 men. COLONEL PLUMER'S FORCE.--Rhodesia Regiment,
     Southern Rhodesia Volunteers, Bechuanaland Border Police, A
     Detachment of Canadian Artillery. COLONEL MAHON'S FLYING
     COLUMN.--100 men from Barton's Frontier Brigade, 200
     Queenslanders (Bushmen). KIMBERLEY MOUNTED CORPS.--Diamond
     Fields Horse, Kimberley Light Horse, Cape Police, Imperial
     Light Horse, Diamond Fields Artillery, M Battery Royal Horse
     Artillery--1200 men.


At the same time, on the Western Frontier, affairs were progressing in
accord with Lord Roberts's strategical programme. Sir Charles Warren had
arrived to take up his new post as military governor of Griqualand West,
and General Hunter was engaged in a species of overture to cover the
advance of the Flying Column which had started on the 5th. Without
opposition he effected the passage of the Vaal River at Windsorton.
There was great satisfaction to feel that British shells were at last
exploding in Transvaal territory, and that the voice of the new gun,
"Bobs," was spreading devastation far and wide. Three Boer laagers were
dispersed, and on the 4th of May the new weapon caused considerable
commotion within the Republican border. Ambulances were seen performing
their melancholy duty for some time after the morning shelling had
ceased. On the 5th Barton's Brigade encountered 2000 and more of the
enemy some two miles north of Rooidam. The Dutchmen held a hilly and
jungly position extending over four miles, but from their beloved kopjes
they were routed time after time, and with considerable loss, by the
magnificent dash of the troops, who carried one ridge after another with
splendid energy and daring. The Yeomanry under Colonel Meyrick
especially distinguished themselves, their courage and coolness under
fire being remarkable. They not only engaged the enemy at very close
quarters, but chased them for miles. General Hunter, having settled the
Dutchmen, after a contest of some eight hours' duration, joined hands
with the British force under General Paget at Warrenton.

Fourteen Streams was now occupied without opposition, the enemy having
found the attentions of the artillery in the direction of the left bank
of the Vaal far too pressing for his liking. At sight of the approach of
the 6th and half the 5th Brigades of infantry the Boers scampered,
leaving behind them in the trenches saddles, ammunition, and wardrobes.
A British camp was formed at Fourteen Streams--C Company of the Munster
Fusiliers, under Lieutenant Caning, having been the first to cross the
river during the night. These were followed at dawn by the rest of the
troops. The river was low, and the Engineers set to work to construct a
pontoon bridge for heavy traffic, and to mend the old railway bridge and
make it fit for immediate use.

The following casualties took place during the advance: Captain Lovett,
1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers, died from wounds, and Captain MacMahon, 2nd
Royal Fusiliers, was wounded.

The ten days' march to Vryburg, which was reached on the 24th of May,
was comparatively uneventful, but the Yeomanry did excellent work, as
the following report of a Glasgow yeoman serves to show:--"We were most
of the time on half-rations, and every morning were up before 2 A.M....
The first day we left the camp at Warrenton we crossed the Vaal River,
where the railway bridge was blown up. They have now got a temporary one
made, which they completed two days after we left.... On the other side
we joined the Union Brigade; Colonel Hart (Barton), I think, is
commander of it. We had two batteries of artillery with us, and some
other brigade joined us next day, and we were supposed to be about
12,000 strong under General Sir A. Hunter. They do not tell you whether
you are going to fight or on a day's march, the regulars say; but we all
expected one the day after we left, as we were advised to make any
personal arrangements we had to make. Next day we moved off about 6.30.
Nineteenth and 20th Companies were the scouts, and 17th and 18th the
support. It is rather exciting the first day you are out scouting, with
ninety cartridges in your bandolier and ten in your magazine, expecting
to come in contact with the Boers every minute. Some of their patrols
were seen two days before we left. On Wednesday morning we came in sight
of Christiana, which we took in great style. We galloped half round it
at half a mile distance in extended order, the Major and Captain C----
galloping up to houses, putting the butts of their rifles through the
windows, and looking to see if the houses were occupied. There were very
few people there; 2000 Boers had left the day before. However, we came
across two or three, who were disarmed, and all the arms that were got
in the town were broken up. We commandeered a lot of cattle, sheep, and
horses, left a company of infantry in charge of the town, left again
that night, and did about other six miles' march towards Toungs. We saw
about a hundred Boers two days later, but they did not let us get near
them. We are the only cavalry attached to the column, so that we have to
do all the scouting, front and rear guards. It is quite a sight to see a
column on the march. First scouts are out in front advancing in line,
about a hundred yards apart, then the supports, next a skirmishing line
of infantry, then two or three companies of them. After this long lines
of transports, the artillery, droves of cattle and sheep, then more
infantry, and behind the rearguard. I have only washed once since I left
Warrenton, now twelve days ago, and then I had no soap, and had to dry
my face with my handkerchief. We had to leave all our stuff behind us so
as to march as light as possible. These last two days we have been
getting bread, as they have now got the railway put right up this
length. We were only getting two hard biscuits per day, coffee in the
morning and tea at night, pretty often without any sugar, and sometimes
we couldn't manage to get sticks to make a fire. The beer is 4s. per
bottle. The Boers have commandeered everything nearly, and the folks
here were glad to see us. The enemy cleared out of here fourteen days

       *       *       *       *       *

Space does not admit of a detailed account of this excellent movement,
which was originated in support of the Mafeking Relief Column, and had
for a double object the protection of Mahon's force and the invasion of
the Transvaal from the west.

To appreciate the turn of wheel within wheel of Lord Roberts's strategic
machinery it is necessary to give a glance at the map of the Transvaal.
It will then be seen that synchronously with the occupation of
Christiana by General Sir Archibald Hunter on the 16th and the Relief of
Mafeking by Colonels Mahon and Plumer, we find Lord Methuen moving
towards Hoopstad, Lord Roberts holding Kroonstad, General Ian Hamilton
pushing up towards Lindley and Heilbron, and farther east Generals Clery
and Dundonald advancing towards Ingogo and Laing's Nek respectively!


To return to Mafeking. On the day that Colonel Mahon and Colonel Plumer
joined hands near Jan Massibi's thatched village, news leaked in that
the long-talked-of relief was verily at hand. They had heard this kind
of thing before, and their despair lest the Boers should attack the town
to obtain the release of Eloff was scarcely allayed. However, on the
16th, dust was espied in the distance, and there was a rush to the roofs
of the houses to ascertain whether that dust was hostile or friendly. It
was afterwards discovered that it was the sign of the retiring enemy,
and eventually towards dusk it was announced that the Relief Column was
really in sight. The longing eyes of Mafeking looked out, and for the
first time saw their persecutors in full retreat, saw them begin to run,
and then, later, scudding for their lives, while their gratified ears,
so tuned to the sound of the vicious artillery of the foe, now heard the
cheery notes of the Canadian artillery, the pom-poms, and other pieces,
clearing the barricades that for so long had shut out the free air of
day. In the late afternoon Major Karri Davies, who after the routing of
the Federals had never drawn rein till he reached Mafeking, accompanied
by some eight of the Imperial Light Horse, the Light Horse that had been
first in Ladysmith, marched into the town. Surprise was intense! Then
surprise thawed into warmth, and then warmth grew to fever-heat. Rapture
eventually reached boiling-point, and the nine men, gaunt, worn, haggard
with fatigue, were deafened with cheers, and had not strength enough to
do the handshaking.

Meanwhile, as we know, Colonel Mahon had outspanned. He did this only to
inspan again, and proceed by moonlight to the town. He had followed the
rule of South African strategy,--said he was going to do one thing and
did the other,--thus outwitting the Boers, who having retired wearily,
were gathering themselves up to lunge at him, and intercept his entry so
soon as the dawn should break. But by four in the morning of the 17th,
while the chill dramatic moonbeams were yet bathing the scene with
strange mystery, Colonel Mahon and his merry men--they were merrier than
merry at the prospect of their welcome--led by Major Baden-Powell, the
brother of the hero of the defence, approached the town. The news of the
arrival spread like wildfire. Immediately all was bustle, and bliss, and
gratulation. Men, women, and children beamed. Some wept; some danced.
The natives indulged in wild sounds, and showed rows of dazzling teeth.
Exuberance took amazing forms; stranger wrung the hand of stranger,
friends grasped and re-grasped: if they had been foreigners they would
have embraced! The large hearts of the heroes within and the large
hearts of the heroes from without were throbbing in unison, bursting
with satisfaction in the accomplishment of great work in the cause of
their country and of their fellow-men. The ragged, battered, grimy,
magnificent throng was almost at a loss to express itself. Words lagged,
and even those forthcoming were blurred by a foggy haze in the throat,
while a strange mistiness crept over eyes that for seven months had been
bright with the fire of determination. But withal, there was no
emasculating abandonment to rapture of the hour. There was no unbuckling
of armour. At nine the serious work of war began again. The united
forces went out on a reconnaissance in the direction of MacMullin's
farm, where the chief Dutch laager was fixed, and then all the
artillery, even to the grandfatherly "Lord Nelson," performed in concert
in honour of the great occasion. Cascades of shrapnel and little white
balls of smoke danced and played over the laager, and bombs burst with
violent detonations, and then, like magic, wreaths of dust began to rise
and increase, and cloud the distance. It was the Dutchmen scampering for
dear life across the veldt, their waggons and guns--all save
one--rumbling into space. This one was abandoned in the hurried flight,
the Boers having taken the precaution to destroy the breech, but it was
nevertheless captured as a precious souvenir of times more pleasant in
reminiscence than in being. The forts were visited in turn, and at
Game-Tree--that dreadful thorn in the side of the garrison--the Union
Jack went up to a chorus of cheers. Finally, the place was devoured by
fire, to the satisfaction of those who had so long regarded it with
apprehension and hate. At MacMullin's farm were found the Boer wounded,
deserted of their kind, who had scuttled with such alacrity that even
their still smoking breakfasts had been foregone. Lieutenant Currie and
his smart Cape Boys, and Major Baillie (4th Hussars), came on one or two
stragglers in the Boer laager, who wisely surrendered. Snyman's official
correspondence was discovered, and from this much valuable information
was gleaned. From one bundle of papers the garrison learned the pleasing
intelligence that Kroonstadt had fallen; from another, that Kruger was
not best pleased with the old Commandant--indeed, the President without
palaver had inquired by telegram whether his failure of the previous
Saturday had been due to drink! The rescue of Captain Maclaren (13th
Hussars) from the clutches of the enemy caused great satisfaction, and
he was borne off in triumph to the hospital, where he was comfortably
located. He was suffering still from the wounds sustained during the
fight on the 31st, one of which had been inflicted after he was helpless
by a Dutchman, who deliberately fired on him at a distance of twenty
yards, and subsequently robbed him of watch and money!

By noon the reconnaissance was at an end,--the place was found to be
clear of the horrible girdle that for seven months had encompassed
it,--and then the Market Square became a scene of unrestrained
enthusiasm. The Town Guard got itself into position ready to do honour
to the warriors who had come through fire and blood to release their
fellow-countrymen, while every nook and corner of the broken hamlet was
filled with excited, cheering folks--folks whose vocal cords seemed
scarcely to have suffered from scant fare and unceasing vigils, and who
yelled as though by sheer force of lung power they meant to swell their
song of jubilation to the four corners of the earth!


Drawing by H. M. Paget, from materials supplied by Major F. D. Baillie,
Special Correspondent of the _Morning Post_.]

Perhaps the march past of the united relief columns was the most unique
and imposing ceremony ever performed within the confines of such a
"chicken-run." Here, in this tiny compass, the whole empire veritably
met together--South Africans, Australians, Canadians, English, Scots,
and Irishmen, Indians, Cape Boys--all following one another, unit after
unit, like some quaint scenic procession of the nations. There were the
bronzed colonels--Baden-Powell, and Mahon, and Plumer, now household
names throughout the world--accompanied by their staffs, the _élite_
of the embattled array. There were the glorious 12-pounders--M Battery
of the Royal Horse Artillery, whose every limber looked dear to the eyes
that long had been strained in eagerness for their coming--and their
guardians, the helmeted band of staunch and sturdy gunners, who carried
the voice of Empire far and wide--there were the plumed and mettlesome
Colonials, very fighting-cocks at the sniff of war--there was the lion
rampant in the form of the Union Brigade (the picked portions of it from
the Royal Fusiliers, Royal Scots, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and Royal Irish
Fusiliers), a right regal company, the very sight of which in common
times would have caused the heart of Britons to throb, and which now
sent the cup of patriotic rapture brimming over. Cheers or tears? Shouts
or sobs? It was a "toss"-up which would supersede the other, and amid
the stupendous _fracas_ even the dauntless hero of this unparalleled,
soul-stirring outburst turned aside that none should view the emotion
that threatened to overwhelm him.

The painter, when he depicted Agamemnon in the hour of sublime
sacrifice, drew a veil over the features of the chief. He judged the
supreme moment of human exultation too sanctified for common gaze. Even
so must we draw the veil of silence over this supreme moment in the life
of the saviour of Mafeking ... the soundless epic is the more sonorous.

The parade over, addresses were presented and the usual formalities gone
through. The gratitude of the town for the relief--the appreciation of
the magnificent work done by Colonel Baden-Powell, and the stupendous
energy of the succouring forces, were all dilated on and thanks
returned. A hailstorm of cheers then broke out--cheers for Queen and
country, for Baden-Powell, Mahon, Plumer, Colonel Rhodes, Major Karri
Davies; in fact, every one cheered every one else, for all were too
deserving, too heroic, to overlook the deserts and heroism of those who
had imperilled their lives over and over again to maintain the prestige
of their native land. So passed the day, and at night chums and comrades
gathered together and jested and laughed, and told yarns of skirmish and
sortie and surprise, till they sank to sleep in their greatcoats and
blankets, fairly worn out with their eleven days and nights of boot and

On the 19th, the garrison assembled for a last, a solemn function. A
great thanksgiving and memorial service was held at the cemetery, and
all bade a last farewell to those who had shared with them the
tribulations of the siege without reaping the harvest of honour their
hands had sown.

At the close of the impressive ceremony three volleys were fired over
the noble dead who had given their lives to attain the great end, and
then an effort was made to sing the National Anthem, but the notes were
quavering with the emotion which these hitherto fearless men now feared
might unman them.

Finally Colonel Baden-Powell--a little abruptly to cover the touching
nature of his farewell--addressed the garrison:--

     "We have been a happy family during the siege. The time has now
     come for breaking up. When we were first invested I said to
     you, 'Sit tight and shoot straight.' The garrison has sat tight
     and shot straight, with the present glorious result. Many nice
     things have been said about me at home, but it is an easy thing
     to be the figurehead of a ship. The garrison has been the
     rigging and sails of the good ship Mafeking, and has brought
     her safely through her stormy cruise."

He then thanked the ladies, beginning with the matron of the hospital,
whose pluck and devotion could not be sufficiently extolled. Turning to
the Protectorate Regiment, he said:--

     "To you I need say nothing. Your roll of dead and wounded tells
     its own tale."

Shaking hands with Colonel Hore he thanked him for the assistance he had
given him, and to the artillery, under Major Panzera and Lieutenant
Daniel, he said:--

     "You were armed with obsolete weapons, but you made up for
     these by your cool shooting and the way you stuck to your

The colonel afterwards turned to the British South Africa Police:--

     "I need not repeat to you men the story of the little red fort
     on the hill, which Cronje could not take."

And to the Cape Police, under Captain Marsh, he addressed himself as

     "You have not been given an opportunity of doing anything
     dramatic, but throughout the siege you have held one of the
     nastiest places in the town, where the enemy were expected at
     any moment, and where you were always under fire."

The colonel next made some graceful remarks to the Town Guard. He
compared them to a walnut in a shell; saying that people thought that
they had but to break the shell to get at the kernel. But the enemy had
learnt better. They had got through the husk and found they could get no
hold on the kernel. In conclusion, he announced that any civilians who
wished to return to their ordinary occupations immediately might do so.
Those who had none to return to, whose billets had been lost or
businesses ruined, would be permitted in the meantime to draw trench
allowances and to remain on duty in the inner defences.

Major Goold Adams was then cordially thanked for all the excellent work
he had done as Town Commandant, after which the Railway Division (under
Captain Moore) and Lieutenant Layton (who had received a commission for
his splendid services) were addressed:--

     "I cannot thank you enough for what you have done. You have
     transformed yourselves from railway-men to soldiers. Your work
     is not yet done, because it will be your business to reopen
     communication and get in supplies."

THE NORTH AFTER THE RELIEF. (Photo by D. Taylor, Mafeking.)]

To the Bechuanaland Rifles Colonel Baden-Powell exclaimed:--

     "Men, you have turned out trumps. With volunteers one knows
     that they have been ably drilled, but there is no telling how
     they will fight. I have been able to use you exactly as Regular
     troops, and I have been specially pleased with your straight
     shooting. The other day, when the enemy occupied the
     Protectorate Fort, they admitted that they were forced to
     surrender by your straight shooting, under which they did not
     dare to show a hand above the parapet."

The chief delighted the juvenile Cadet Corps by giving them their meed
of praise for their conduct as soldiers, concluding with, "I hope you
will continue in the profession, and will do as well in after life."

He then turned to the outsiders, the Northern Relief Force under Colonel
Plumer, which had borne the brunt of the seven months' fighting, and
expressed his regret that they had been too weak to relieve the town
"off their own bat." But he eulogised the splendid work done in bad
country and climate. The Southern Force under Colonel Mahon were
congratulated on having made a march which would live in history. Their
chief was complimented on the magnificent body of men he commanded,
while the Imperial Light Horse, associated as it was with memories of
Ladysmith, Colonel Baden-Powell declared he was especially pleased to
see, as these would be able, in consequence of their own experience, to
sympathise with the people in Mafeking.

So the amazing defence of Mafeking was over! For seven months the
gallant little town had withstood every ingenious device of the Boers,
and in the end it had come off victorious. The first shot was fired on
the 16th of October, and from that day the rumble of bombardment had
been the accompaniment of almost every hour between the rising and
setting of the sun. And now all was serene and still, and only the
battered walls of the once neat little hamlet told the terrible, the
glorious tale of British doggedness and British pluck.


    Lord Roberts    Lord Kitchener


Drawing by R. M. Paxton, from a Sketch by W. B. Wollen, R.I.]


For some time the ears of London had been pricked up in anxious
expectation. Lord Roberts had promised to relieve Mafeking by the 18th
of May, and the Field-Marshal was known to be punctuality personified.
All the town remained in a state of suppressed excitement, little flags
were selling like wildfire, and big flags were being got into readiness
for the great, the longed-for word. Early in the morning of the 17th the
papers were anxiously perused, and man asked man if any news had leaked
out. The 18th arrived. Nothing was known. The War Office maintained its
adamantine calm. The day grew middle-aged, almost old--then, as the
shutters were about to go up (twenty minutes past nine was the exact
hour), one telegram of Reuter's fired the fuse, and London, followed
presently by the whole British Empire, was ablaze with excitement. The
flame, like most flames, broke out almost unnoticed. Some one on a
cycle--some one in a cab, heard the glorious three words, and sped
breathless to carry the contagion of his rapture far and wide. Street
after street began to smoulder--to glow; and, presto! the town was one
vast conflagration! Such a furnace of patriotism had never been seen
within the confines of the staid metropolis. By ten o'clock the populace
of one consent had run wild into the streets--the houses were too
cramped to hold them--they ran wild, roaring and yelling and shouting
and singing, passing into the heart of the Capital in dense
armies--passing? nay!--for soon none could pass, but had merely to be
propelled good-humouredly by the compact mass that surged apparently to
no destination whatever. Whence came the clamouring hosts it was
impossible to say--they seemed to rise from the earth, so rapidly, so
mysteriously, did their numbers increase. Liberty, equality, fraternity,
was the motto of this memorable night. All ages, and ranks, and sexes
were linked together in the bonds of sympathetic patriotism--countess or
coster, duke or drayman, it was all one--an identical beam of triumph
imparted a relationship to every British face. Minutes had scarcely
grown into hours before the Union Jack fluttered from every window, from
every cart and 'bus, from every hand, and the roar of human joy was as
the roar of the ocean in a tempest. At the theatres, as at the railway
stations, the crowds heard and wondered only for a moment, for the
electrical news got into their midst, and they on the instant took up
the cry and the cheer, and repeated them with all their might. Indeed,
theatrical performances were suspended while the joyous audiences sang
and re-sang "Rule, Britannia" and "God Save the Queen," and then,
unsatisfied, tore into the open to let off steam as it were, and view a
sight which never before has been witnessed, and probably never again
will be visible in the precincts of London Town. The Mansion House,
where the display of the message had caused a huge concourse to
assemble, was next besieged, and the old walls literally shook with the
mighty roar of the multitude. The "National Anthem" swelled out
thunderously with volume that was almost awe-striking as the combined
voice of a Handel Festival, and shouts for the Lord Mayor grew and grew,
and became deafening as that honoured citizen and splendid patriot
showed himself.

He then delivered the following speech: "I wish the music of your cheers
could reach Mafeking. For seven long weary months a handful of men has
been besieged by a horde. We never doubted what the end would be.
British pluck and valour when used in a right cause must triumph. The
heart of every one of you vibrates with intense loyalty and enthusiasm,
I know, and the conscience of every one of you assures you that we have
fought in a righteous and just cause." The crowd, incapable of silence
for very long, broke into "Rule, Britannia," and when this outburst of
emotion was expended, the Lord Mayor continued: "We have fought for our
most glorious traditions of equality and freedom, not for ourselves
alone, but for the men of all those nations who have settled in South
Africa and who were under the protection of the British flag." Three
cheers for Colonel Baden-Powell were then called for, and three for Lord
Roberts, and these having been heartily given, he said: "The people of
Bloemfontein and Mafeking are now singing 'God Save the Queen'; you can
do it for yourselves." This they proceeded to do not once but twenty
times through the livelong hours of the night. Meanwhile the following
practical telegram was despatched by the Lord Mayor:--

     "_To_ BADEN-POWELL, Mafeking, _via_ Cape Town.

     "Citizens London relieved and rejoiced by good news just
     received. Your gallant defence will long live in British
     annals. Cable me what money wanted for needs of garrison and
     inhabitants after long privations.

     "ALFRED NEWTON, _Lord Mayor_."

At the same time a huge portrait of Colonel Baden-Powell was displayed
in front of the Mansion House, and the strains of "God Save the Queen"
and "Rule, Britannia" were now intermingled with the lively tune of "For
he's a jolly good fellow." These combined choruses were echoed and
re-echoed, and carried along like a gigantic stream of sound into the
suburbs of London, into sleeping Kensington and remote Clapham, so that
men and women turned in their beds--sat up, terrified at first, then
realising the situation, gave up thought of rest, and listened with
swelling hearts to the triumphant din. And so, on and on--through the
night till morning broke!

Then, the whole face of London seemed transmogrified. National
emblems--red, white, blue, yellow, green, stars and stripes--draping the
houses and festooning the roads, gave the town the aspect of one huge
bazaar. Balconies were decorated, awnings thrown out, and in some cases,
to give a touch of realism, bathing towels[6] were hung from the
verandahs. People passing by, and ignorant of the double meaning of the
curious drapery, shrugged their shoulders, scoffed--then, awakened by a
flash of illumination, looked again and broke into renewed cheers.
Before the dwelling of the mother of the defender of Mafeking a vast
crowd collected, wielding flags and laurels, and displaying in their
midst the bust of the hero with a British lion crouching at his feet.
Cheers rent the air, and increased in volume when the proud parent of
this splendid Briton appeared on the balcony and acknowledged the
demonstration. The glad tumult in front of this point of attraction
continued throughout the day, people coming from far and wide here to
vent their ecstasy of enthusiasm--some in shouts, many in tears.

By nightfall, the whole Empire was pouring forth its excitement in
congratulatory telegrams, for, four minutes after the receipt of the
intelligence in London the news had passed over the Atlantic cables and
was in the New York office of the Associated Press, whence it was
forwarded to the farthest limit of the North American Continent. Canada,
New South Wales, Sydney, and all the other colonies whose bravest and
best had contributed to the great doings in the Transvaal, were now
aglow with bunting and illuminations. Church bells pealed, processions
passed shouting and rejoicing, ships were dressed from truck to
taffrail, and prayers and anthems of praise were got ready to be offered
up on the following day at all churches.

Thus, for a brief space, was seen a vast concourse of millions of souls
of differing opinions, customs, and creeds, diffused even to the
remotest corners of the British-speaking world, yet closely united by a
bond of fraternal sympathy in consequence of the triumph of British
manhood in the most unique ordeal that the loyalty of any nation has
been called upon to endure.


[5] See Vol. III. p. 39.

[6] The hero of Mafeking at Charterhouse was nicknamed "Bathing Towel."



From the 12th to the 22nd of May was spent by the main army, at
Kroonstad, where, owing to sickness and other causes, a halt was
obligatory. It was necessary that supplies should be collected, an
advanced depôt formed, the railway repaired, and the safety of both
flanks secured. Meanwhile, efforts were made to protect the farmers who
had surrendered from the revengeful tactics of the Boers. Lord Lovat's
gillies arrived at Kroonstad and met with the approval of the
Commander-in-Chief. General Hutton, with a force of mounted infantry,
had reported an attack on Bothaville and the capture of three
commandants and about a score of Zarps, from their hiding-place near
Smaldeel. On the 20th, the 1st Cavalry Brigade marched out from their
camp near Kroonstad, to open up the country on the left of Lord
Roberts's main advance along the western fringe of the railway. They
were accompanied by the 4th Cavalry Brigade (7th Dragoon Guards and 8th
and 14th Hussars), and supported by General Hutton's Brigade of Mounted
Infantry (Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders). On the 21st, the
cavalry seized the drift at the confluence of the Honing Spruit and the
Rhenoster; and on the 22nd, Lord Roberts and the main army, leaving only
the 1st Suffolks behind, marched from Kroonstad to Honing Spruit, the
third station to the north, and some eighteen or twenty miles off.
General Ian Hamilton, after a series of engagements with De Wet's
hordes, from Lindley, onwards, had secured an advanced position at
Heilbron, while the cavalry division had moved up, crossed the Rhenoster
River, and threatening the right rear of the enemy had forced the
Dutchmen to leave a strongly-entrenched position on the north bank of
the river. The presence of French and Hamilton to west and east of them
had served to unnerve the hostile hordes, who now had our cavalry within
twenty miles of either flank. They spent their bellicose ardour by
destroying some miles of railway, the bridge over the Rhenoster, and
some culverts, and then flying in hot haste before the vast machinery of
the advancing army, to a new point of defence some twenty miles in
front, a point which promised shortly to become equally untenable.


Drawing by R. Caton Woodville]

The following casualties took place in the Winburg Column, May
21st:--New South Wales Mounted Infantry--Wounded severely, Lieutenant A.
J. M. Onslow, 1st Royal Irish--Lieutenant M. H. E. Welch.

On the 23rd, Lord Roberts and his majestical and magnificent apparatus
of war, its thousands of gallant souls, its multiplicity of vehicles,
its endless supplies and zoological train, encamped on the south bank of
the Rhenoster River. The Boers, apparently demoralised in their
preparations for resistance, and having had their left flank turned by
Hamilton at Heilbron, were now continuously "on the run." Meanwhile
burghers hourly came in to surrender arms and ammunition, the last
vestige of truculence having evaporated. The Boer Government telegraphed
to Lord Roberts offering to exchange an equal number of prisoners on
parole, and threatening if the offer should be refused to remove from
Pretoria to some other district the 4000 prisoners now confined there.
As to the fate of the Johannesburg mines there was considerable
uncertainty; reports declared they would be destroyed in the event of
entry to the Transvaal by the British, and also that the town itself
would be defended, as defence works were being rapidly pushed forward,
guns got into position, and trenches and defences constructed.

On the other hand it was stated that, on hearing of the threat to
destroy the mines and possibly the town, Commandant Louis Botha had
hastened to the President, and in a stormy interview had asserted his
intention, if such a thing were contemplated, himself to defend
Johannesburg from such an act of vandalism. He concluded by denouncing
the diabolical intention and saying, "We are not barbarians." Mr. Kruger
did not argue the subject--possibly his conscience tweaked him on the
subject of barbarity--but gave in. Terrible altercations were daily
taking place between the Boers, the Free Staters, and their mercenaries,
and the burghers were inclined to throw all the blame of defeat on the
Hollanders who had brought about the war and left the Boers to bear the
brunt of the loss to life and property that hostilities entailed. These
were merely reports, but they served, as the passage to the north
proceeded, to show which way the wind blew.

On the Queen's birthday the 4th Brigade of cavalry crossed the Vaal near
Pary's Drift, and the 1st Brigade at a drift farther east of Pary's,
while General Ian Hamilton's column was ordered to move towards
Boschbank still higher up. They arrived just in time to save the
coal-mines from being destroyed. The operation of crossing the Vaal was
one of the most risky that has been undertaken in the campaign, as the
road down to the drifts led through about six miles of mountainous
country forming a narrow pass, well suited to Boer tactics. Fortunately,
although the Boers were seen hovering in the vicinity, the arrival of
the cavalry was unexpected, and they made no effective resistance.

It will be seen that here the distribution of the advance underwent a
change. General French adhered to his original course on the left, but
General Hamilton, screened by Gordon's Cavalry, crossed in front of the
main army, and concentrated near Vredefort on the west, thus preparing a
little surprise for the Boers, who were collected in their thousands
opposite Engelbrecht Drift in the expectation that the British General
would continue to proceed towards the north. Meanwhile, the cavalry, to
a desultory accompaniment of musketry, was engaged in securing the
approaches to Lindique Drift, over which the baggage had to pass. On the
26th, Colonel Henry's Mounted Infantry, and the Bedfordshires, crossed
at Viljoen's Drift and there encountered an Irish-American rabble in act
of injuring the coal-mines and bridge; and the wreckers--an
alcoholically-valiant gang of hirelings--speedily made off, leaving
behind them three days' supplies, which came in most handy for the
benefit of the troops. By this time General Hamilton had reached
Boschbank, and Lord Roberts had arrived at Wolve Hoek.

The Cavalry Division, finding the force of Mounted Infantry had moved to
Vereeniging--and thus opened up communication with Lord Roberts's main
advance--flew on. On the evening of the 27th they seized the head of the
horse-shoe of hills wherein the Boers in large numbers had ensconced
themselves. This dashing exploit was attended with the loss of only one
Scots Grey and one Carabineer wounded. The position thus gained
overlooked the Boers' main position at Klips Wersberg, defending

While this was going on (on the 27th) Lord Roberts, with the 7th and
11th Divisions, crossed the Vaal facing Vereeniging, and encamped on the
north bank, and found vacated several intricately prepared positions
whence the Boers had intended to offer opposition. They had abandoned
position after position at the approach of one or other of the great
feelers of the big British machine that threatened to surround them.

The fact was, this enormous army was moving as an avalanche--stupendous
and strong--an avalanche that swept all things before it. Horses and men
were in splendid fettle, their spirits were rising, their confidence
intense, and all endeavoured to emulate the example in activity set them
by the Field-Marshal, who, like a young man of thirty, was up before
dawn and working hard till sundown. In spite of the cold
nights--especially trying after the heat of midday--the
Commander-in-Chief looked healthy and well, while his troops, who had
marched magnificently in trying circumstances, needed no finer eulogy
than to be described as worthy of him.

A grand march of twenty miles brought the main army on the 28th, to
Klip River, within eighteen miles of Johannesburg--a march so rapid and
so well organised that the Boers, who had prepared a delicate salute of
five guns with which to welcome the troops, had barely time to hustle
their weapons into the train and steam off as some of the West
Australian Mounted Infantry dashed into the station! These smart
Colonials were very much to the fore all day and showed a vast amount of
dash and dexterity. Major Pilkington and a patrol of some thirty of them
were moving in advance of the 11th Division in hope to find a suitable
drift for the passage of troops and guns across the Klip River. The
drift was discovered, but also the Boers--a posse of them hovering among
the kopjes that flanked the road. Without ado, the little party prepared
themselves for the worst, spreading themselves, rifles in hand, to
protect the position they had gained, a position of some importance,
since it commanded bridges about a mile and a half to east and west of
the road. The party divided into two groups, arranged themselves at each
bridge, and endeavoured to make a line--a very thin line--as a uniting
link between the groups. It was somewhat like the fable of the frog that
tried to blow himself out to the size of a bull--but in this case the
minute object's pretence was successful; the thirty isolated men deluded
the Boers, and caused them to believe that these sturdy defenders of the
drifts were supported by a huge force in reserve. Blazing away with
their rifles, the Dutchmen attacked the small party, and an uneven
contest commenced and proceeded till dusk. Lieutenant Porter, while
directing some operations, was wounded, but fortunately at this juncture
there came to his rescue some guardsmen, who were escorting a convoy,
and these, owing to the gallant manner in which the drifts had been
held, managed in the darkness to get their convoy into safety, and
enable the Westralians, whose work was accomplished, to "silently steal
away." Meanwhile, during the whole day, some ten miles to the left--on
the west of the railway--sounds of animated knocking portended much
activity on the part of Generals French and Hamilton in the
neighbourhood of Syferfontein and Klip River. General French was engaged
in a reconnaissance in force of the enemy's position. After drawing the
fire of all the Dutch guns, and consuming a good deal of powder, the
casualties on the part of the cavalry were small--about five--mostly

On the 29th of May, part of the Cavalry Division, General Ian Hamilton's
Mounted Infantry, the 19th and 21st Brigades, and some Colonials who had
moved parallel to the main advance since it left the Vaal, found
themselves about twelve miles south of Johannesburg. East of Doornkop
some 4000 Boers, with six guns, had taken up a menacing position,
strengthened with various natural obstacles, while the ground had been
blackened with grass fires to afford an effective background to
approaching kharki. The troops, supported by the guns, at once steadily
advanced to attack the Boer centre, while Generals French and Hutton
operated on the west to turn the right flank of the position. After an
hour's smart fighting the infantry were able to push on, Porter's
brigade having ridden five miles to the west, and turned the enemy's
right, while the infantry, with fixed bayonets, had driven the enemy
from every cherished kopje. In the attack, the Gordons in the centre of
the right, the City Imperial Volunteers in the centre on the left,
advanced gradually on the Boer position. The gallant nature of the
advance over the burnt and blackened ground, which made the infantry
into targets for the foe, excited the admiration of all. Grandly the
Gordons flung themselves upon the enemy, in spite of the Boer guns and
"pom-pom," that dealt death and destruction among their numbers. Seventy
of the dashing fellows dropped, and the only consolation for so great a
loss was, that by nightfall 6000 Dutchmen were scudding away in the
darkness, while General Hamilton was bivouacking on the ground seized
from them, and Generals French and Hutton, who had turned the right
flank of the position, were threatening Krugersdorp. The conduct of the
City Imperial Volunteers was magnificent, and to them, as well as to the
Gordons, much of the credit of the day's work was due. They behaved as
skilled troops, taking cover with great ingenuity, and returning the
attacks of the enemy with amazing coolness and precision. Their
sustained volleys succeeded in clearing out the Boers immediately in
front of Roodepoorte. Commandant Botha--not Louis Botha, but a
kinsman--with a hundred foreign and Irish subsidised sympathisers, was
captured, and, in addition to these, a Creusot gun and twelve waggons of
stores and ammunition were secured.

The losses among officers in this engagement were comparatively few.
Captain St. J. Meyrick, 1st Gordon Highlanders, was killed. Among the
wounded were:--

     City Imperial Volunteers--Capt. G. W. Barkley. 1st Gordon
     Highlanders--Capt. G. E. E. G. Cameron, Lieut.-Col. H. H.
     Burney, Capt. P. S. Allen, second Lieut. A. Cameron,
     Surg.-Lieut. A. H. Benson, Dr. R. Hunter. Vol. Co. Gordon
     Highlanders--Capt. J. B. Buchanan, Lieut. J. Mackinnon, Lieut.
     H. Forbes. Royal Army Medical Corps--Lieut. A. H. Benson. 2nd
     Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry--Lieut. H. W. Fife (since
     dead). 10th Hussars--Lieut. T. Lister.

During General French's operations near Klip River, on the 27th, 28th,
and 29th, the wounded officers were:--

     New Zealand Rifles--Captain Palmer. 7th Dragoon Guards--Major
     W. J. Mackeson, second Lieut. G. Dunne. Capt. D. L. MacEwen,
     Cameron Highlanders, attached to Intelligence Department, was
     taken prisoner.


Drawing by S. Begg]

To return to the main advance on this day (29th). While Generals French
and Hamilton were engaging Botha and his hordes outside Johannesburg,
turning their flank wherever they posted themselves, Lord Roberts
decided to pursue boldly the programme of his main advance upon the
enemy's East Rand and Pretoria communications, a programme which was as
faultlessly and rapidly carried out as it was skilfully conceived.

From the neighbourhood of the Klip River the troops pushed on rapidly to
Germiston without meeting with serious opposition. So swiftly were the
movements executed that the nimble Boers were beaten at their own game,
and had to turn tail without removing the whole of the rolling-stock.
Thus, the Commander-in-Chief came at once into possession of the
Junction connecting Johannesburg with Natal, Pretoria, and Klerksdorp by
railway, and through a piece of splendid strategy Boer resistance was
paralysed, and the railway system of the State was brought completely
under his control. Any concentration of forces in Pretoria or on the
fringes was now practically impossible.

The history of the hurried capture of this vital strategical position
was inspiriting. Colonel Henry, with the 8th Mounted Infantry, started
at dawn with orders to seize Elandsfontein at all costs. The 3rd Cavalry
Brigade in support made a detour to the east towards Boksburg, in a
direct line to Pretoria, followed rapidly along the line by Pole-Carew's
and Tucker's Divisions. The object of the somewhat wide easterly move
was to outflank the enemy's defensible positions and secure the
communications to Pretoria, and thus cut off and isolate the force
prepared to check the advance of the British. Just as the advance guard
neared the Natal line, a train was seen conveying half of the Heidelberg
Commando from Volksrust to the north. It was impossible to arrest it,
but after firing on the departing machine, the troops proceeded to
demolish the line and secure the Natal communications. The Mounted
Infantry which, owing to the uselessness of the Klip River Bridge, were
without artillery, were now assailed by a party of Boers with guns, who
had ensconced themselves in the ridges which menaced the southern road,
but nevertheless they pressed forward bent on obeying orders and gaining
Elandsfontein. They pushed ever on and on till the great city, the
monstrous hive of gold-getters, the scene of Boer despotism and
Uitlander servility, became visible from the rolling hills. Momentarily
they expected to hear a roar, to see a flare and an upheaval, and to
know the worst had come--the mines had been destroyed! But all was
silence. The huge town, surrounded in places by a blanket of smoke,
seemed slumbering on the bosom of the undulating downs. In the distance,
however, the station showed active. Trains were steaming off to
Pretoria. Others with their steam up were preparing to follow. These
trains must be arrested, and their freight captured. It was a case,
unfortunately, of horse-flesh versus steam. But still it was worth the
venture! Off went a section of the Yorkshire Mounted Infantry, galloping
like fury to the station, while the main body made for Boksburg; and the
Australians, toolless, tore to Knight's Station, and there piling up
trollies, boulders--anything, in fact, that came to hand--blocked the
line. They were pelted by hidden Boers, but fled carefully to cover
after accomplishing their object.

Meanwhile, some of the Yorkshire Mounted Infantry had seized the
station, and, with it, three locomotives whose steam was up ready for
departure. But the enemy were in strength there--they were at least
strong in proportion to the twenty dashing Yorkshire men who had plunged
into the mêlée, and these gallant fellows found themselves in a critical
position, fighting like demons for their hardly-earned prize with
desperate men, whose sole source of salvation lay in the locomotives
that stolidly panted and wheezed in utter disregard of the fierce fight
raging for their possession. Then, with almost theatrical precision, a
vast procession was seen to be approaching: a river of kharki flowing
down the southern slopes into the Rand. It was the Mounted Infantry from
Boksburg and the Infantry Division--the goodly Grenadiers
leading--pouring in their numbers to the rescue of the gallant little
band! Thus by nightfall one of the most fateful of the operations of the
war was concluded, and Johannesburg was virtually seized without the
wrecking of a mine and with little loss of life. During the operations
Captain MacEwan, Cameron Highlanders, and Lord Cecil Manners
(correspondent to the _Morning Post_) were taken prisoners. Lieutenants
Pepper, West Australian Mounted Infantry, Beddington, Imperial Yeomanry,
and Forrest, 1st Oxford Light Infantry, were wounded. Immense crowds,
surprised to find that the struggle was a matter of hours and not of
days, watched the fighting from west and east corners of the town, and
the shock of the fall of Elandsfontein disorganised their plans and
demoralised themselves.

While this was going on, the Cavalry Division had advanced through the
gold mines, having Johannesburg on their right, and was encamped on the
west of the town, keeping a wary eye on the Boers, who were fleeing
hot-foot to Pretoria.

Within the City of Gold, all was turmoil. On the discovery of the
situation there followed a violent up-rising. The Kaffirs, on seeing the
Boers repulsed, rushed to the Jews' houses to loot them, and the
foreign contingents immediately set out on a species of internal
invasion, breaking open shops and stores and houses, and throwing out of
doors and windows goods collected for the benefit of needy burgher
families. The uproar, however, was speedily suppressed by the firm
measures of Dr. Krause. In answer to the flag of truce sent in by the
Field-Marshal, this official went out to meet him. There being still
many armed burghers in the place, the Transvaal Commandant requested
Lord Roberts to postpone his entry for six hours. To avert disturbance
this arrangement was agreed to, and Lord Roberts decided to postpone
till the 31st his entry into the conquered town.

So Johannesburg was ours! The advance, which appeared to be so rapid,
straightforward, and simple, owed these qualities to Lord Roberts's
splendid, almost prophetic, instinct for gauging the enemy's
expectations with a view to disappointing them; to his strategic
manipulation of his cavalry and mounted infantry, and to the magnificent
marching capability of the infantry. Everywhere, the Boers had fenced
themselves across the route, sometimes extending their line of defence
for twenty miles or more, and everywhere, in dread of having one flank
or the other turned, they had been kept oscillating between stubborn
resistance and rapid flight till their nerves had given way, and they
had scuttled back and back to their undoing. At the Vet, the Zand, the
Valsch, the Rhenoster, and the Klip Rivers, they had cunningly prepared
themselves, till, with the infantry menacing them in front and the
cavalry and infantry threatening both flanks, they had realised that
retreat was inevitable. Their last hope had been set on the city of
mines; and now from thence, a routed, raging rabble, they were fleeing
in despair.

The splendid progress of the infantry was a remarkable achievement, of
which enough cannot be said. It was no mere feat of pedestrianism. It
was a march in face of an enterprising enemy, and harassed with
discomforts sufficiently multifarious to try the endurance of a
Socrates. A scorching sun by day and a frigid temperature by night,
occasional sand blasts rendering drier than ever parched throats already
dry as husk from the tramp through a sand-clogged and almost waterless
country, were but items in the programme. If water there chanced to be,
it was ochreous and fouled by the passage of many quadrupeds, and such
food as there was--bully beef and adamantine biscuit--demanded the jaws
and digestion of an alligator. Yet these sturdy fellows plodded along,
lumbering through sand drifts and squelching in mire and morass, or laid
themselves to rest on the hard or soggy ground with a philosophy so
devil-may-care as almost to fringe on the sublime. With unquenchable
gaiety, they had accomplished a march of 254 miles (the distance from
Bloemfontein to Elandsfontein) in eighteen days, giving as an average
fourteen miles a day. (This calculation naturally excludes the ten days'
halt at Kroonstad.) From Kroonstad to Elandsfontein, a distance of some
126 miles--covered in seven days (22nd to 29th)--marching had gone
forward at the rate of eighteen miles a day. Napoleon's much vaunted
march from the Channel to the Rhine in 1805 showed an average of sixteen
miles a day, when the distance traversed was 400 miles, and the time
taken twenty-five days. But that march, unopposed throughout, was
comparatively plain sailing. Quicker forced marches have been known,[7]
but in the present case the march was continuous, and may be said to
beat all records of rapid marching under equally inconvenient

       *       *       *       *       *

The twenty-four hours were allowed to pass. Then, at the entrance of the
town Dr. Krause met the Commander-in-Chief, and rode with him to the
government offices, and introduced to him the heads of the various
departments, all of whom were requested to continue their respective
duties till they should be relieved of them.

To those who had never seen Johannesburg the first glimpse was a
surprise. Strangely incongruous did it seem to move from the isolation
and rugged simplicity of the open veldt to the centre of a large and
peculiarly civilised town. The note of modernity was sounded on every
side. Buildings more than magnificent greeted the eye accustomed only to
homely farms and mushroom staadts. Tramways ribbed the streets, electric
lights gleamed a whiter glare than moonbeams, and nineteenth-century
luxury, and in some cases refinement, were in evidence at every turn.
But the public buildings were closed, and the handsome shops boarded up
for precaution's sake, while the streets were thinly populated, owing to
the fact that many of the British sympathisers had been expelled, and
the Boer community was on commando.


Drawing by C. E. Fripp, R.W.S., War Artist]

But though at first the place was deserted, by degrees people began to
trickle in, and by the time the square in front of the government
buildings was reached there was a goodly throng. The Vierkleur was still
flying when Lord Roberts, at the head of General Pole-Carew's division,
marched into the town; but presently the keys were formally surrendered,
the flag was hauled down, and a small Union Jack, worked by Lady
Roberts, was hoisted in its place.

At the conclusion of the ceremony the rousing strains of the Guards'
band were heard, and the 11th and 7th Divisions marched past, with the
Naval Brigade, the heavy artillery, and two Brigade Divisions of Royal
Horse Artillery. General Ian Hamilton's column and the Cavalry
Division and Mounted Infantry were too far away to take part in the

COMPLETED. (Photo by W. H. Gill, London.)]

It was an impressive spectacle; one ever to be remembered. From
afternoon till night, troops--great, brawny, bronzed, and workmanlike
Britons--came clanking in procession through the town, while from
balconies and windows banners and flags were waved, and gay ladies, many
of them Englishwomen, wild with excitement and enthusiasm, threw down
flowers and sweets and cigarettes to give vent to their unrestrained
joy. Far into the evening the stream of kharki continued ceaselessly to
flow under the magnesian rays of the electric lights till the infantry
had passed to their camp, three miles to the north, and Lord Roberts had
settled himself at Orange Grove.


[7] See vol. iv. p. 41.



While Lord Roberts was moving from Bloemfontein, co-operative action was
being taken elsewhere. On the 2nd of May the Boers evacuated Thabanchu
and trekked towards the north, and on the following day General French,
leaving General Rundle in command, started to join Lord Roberts's main
scheme. Soon after General Brabant joined General Rundle's force.

On the 4th, General Rundle moved forward from Thabanchu, attacked the
enemy, captured their positions, and headed them eastward. There was
little hard fighting, the General's movements being mostly carried out
with so much celerity, and strategical and tactical skill, that the
enemy, seeing British forces apparently in strength everywhere, judged
it advisable to move from post to post rather than run the risk of being
mopped up.

On Friday, the 11th of May, Colonel Grenfell, with the 2nd Battalion of
Brabant's Horse, attacked the Boers at Ropin's Kop, but was overpowered
by the enemy and forced to retire, with several wounded. On the
following day, Saturday, he, however, drove the Boers out of their
position, and captured Newberry Mills at Leeuw River, thus depriving the
Dutchmen of an immense store of flour and grain which it had been their
ambition to seize. This smart piece of work was accomplished almost
without casualties. While these operations had been going forward, some
500 of the Yeomanry had occupied the northern slopes of Thaba Patacka, a
position whence they hoped to attack the Boers who might be slinking off
in the direction of Basutoland. General Boyes, on the west, was equally
active, to the dismay of the Boers, who, owing to General Rundle's
clever strategy, imagined the British held a front of over twenty miles.

On the 13th of May General Rundle advanced to Brand's Drift, twenty
miles to the north-east, taking prisoners and accepting the surrender of
many Free-staters, who were perished with cold and exposure, and
sickened by defeat. Meanwhile, General Brabant, performing like
operations, was slowly moving northwards. On the night of the 15th,
Ladybrand was occupied by a force of the Glamorganshire Yeomanry, and
thus the two Generals maintained possession, by magnificent strategic
moves, of the whole southern corner, which is practically the granary
of the Free State, gradually scaring away the enemy from the country
through which they passed. On the 24th, a simultaneous movement was
made, Brabant's Colonials marching to occupy Ficksburg, while General
Rundle with General Campbell's Brigade, followed by that of General
Boyes, proceeded towards Senekal.

During the march an unfortunate incident took place. On reaching
Mequaling's Nek, a rumour reached General Rundle that the Boers were in
retreat from Senekal, consequently on the next day, the 25th, Major
Dalbiac and Major Ashton, R.M.A. (Intelligence Officer to the Division),
were ordered to investigate the nature of the water supply, and to find
a camping ground in the neighbourhood of the town. Major Dalbiac and a
company, mainly composed of Middlesex Yeomanry, accompanied Major Ashton
as escort, and the party left at dawn and proceeded to Senekal. Here
they encountered apparently peaceful inhabitants, and were entirely
ignorant of the fact that the Boers had merely vacated the place for the
purpose of hiding themselves in a hilly coign of vantage, which
practically commanded the streets of the town. Major Ashton proceeded
with the inquiries he was deputed to make, and received from a citizen
the keys of the official buildings, which had been left by the
Landdrost, who with the postmaster and other responsible persons had
decamped. Then came the surrendering of arms, and while this was going
on, suddenly, without warning, a heavy fusillade was launched at the
Yeomanry who formed a group round Major Ashton. For a moment chaos
reigned; then all sprung to action. The Boers, delighted at their
surprise, blazed away fast and furious, while the two Majors, gathering
together their little band, made hurried arrangements. Major Ashton,
with some ten men, enclosed himself and promptly commenced firing on the
incoming enemy, while Major Dalbiac with a score of the Yeomanry,
dashingly galloped off in hope of taking the enemy in rear. But the
Boers were many and the unfortunate Yeomanry quite outnumbered. No
sooner had they wheeled round the hill, than rifles poured a withering
fire on them. Six horses dropped even as the men dismounted, and the
ground, open and quite devoid of cover, was strewn in one moment with
the slain and the suffering. Major Dalbiac almost instantaneously
dropped dead. He was shot through the neck, and four men shared his
fate. Lieutenant Hegan Kennard, wounded in the face, was in a desperate
plight, while nearly all who remained were injured. Some half-a-dozen
men had been sent back with the horses on the first outbreak of the
attack, and these only of the valorous band escaped. Meanwhile news of
the ambuscade had been carried to General Rundle, who instantly ordered
off the Wilts Yeomanry, 2nd Grenadiers, and 2nd East Yorks, with
artillery, to the succour of the unfortunate party. These arrived in
time to save Major Ashton. He had fortunately occupied the side of the
town towards which the British approached, and the Boers, at the first
sound of the guns which had been directed against the kopje where they
had ensconced themselves, made off with all possible speed. By the time
General Rundle had neared the town, it had resumed its pristine state of
innocence, and the inhabitants were preparing effective demonstrations
of loyalty. In the evening the remains of the unfortunate dead at the
foot of the hill were recovered, and it was found that Major Dalbiac's
body had been rifled by his dastardly opponents of every article of
value, and even the ribbons of his medals were missing. On the 26th,
General Rundle with the 8th Division entered the town and formally took
possession of it.

The remains of Major Dalbiac and the four men of the Middlesex Yeomanry
who were killed in the unfortunate affair were buried with military
honours, the General and Staff attending the funeral. A patrol of the
Hants Yeomanry, while out scouting, got in touch with the enemy, and
escaped by what is called the skin of their teeth. Many had very narrow
escapes, and one man was killed. Sergeant-Major Foulkes, whose horse was
shot under him, was saved through the gallantry of Private Andrews, who
returned and bore off his dismounted comrade, while Captain Seely and
others behaved in like manner to ensure the safety of those left without


Of the Highland Brigade since the tragedy of Majersfontein and the smart
fight at Koodoesberg little has been said. Their brilliant march and
action before Paardeberg, in which General MacDonald was wounded, served
to demonstrate the stuff of which they were made and to restore their
self-confidence and zest for battle. Lord Roberts's gracious speech,
delivered at the camp, recalling his pleasant association with the
Brigade in India, where "they had helped to make him," and saying that
as he had never campaigned without Highlanders, he "would not like to be
without them now," had done much to heal the sore which still rankled in
many breasts.


Photo by Lionel James]

On the 1st of May the 9th Division marched from Waterval, picked up the
Seaforths at the waterworks, and also the Highland Light Infantry from
Bloemfontein. The Division, of which the Highland Brigade, the
Seaforths, Black Watch, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and
Highland Light Infantry formed the infantry battalions, with the 5th
Battery Royal Field Artillery, two naval guns (4.7 calibre), and a
company of Engineers, was under the command of Major-General Sir H.
Colvile. The Highland Brigade was commanded by General MacDonald. The
Eastern Province Horse, a smart and sportsmanlike set of mounted men,
numbering about a hundred, also accompanied the force, and did valuable
service in scouting. Later on the force was joined by Lovat's Scouts,
but not till the advance was well under way. On the 4th the Brigade
bivouacked at Susanna Fountain after an animated tussle with the enemy,
who were finally routed by the gallantry of the Black Watch.

The Division reached Winburg, as we know, on the 6th, and remained in
possession till the 17th. Then, the Black Watch and the Argyll and
Sutherland Highlanders advanced, leaving behind them the Highland Light
Infantry and Seaforths in the town. On the following day the Zand River
was crossed. Ventersburg was entered without opposition, the way having
been previously swept by Lord Roberts's force which had arrived there on
the 10th. Here there was a brief halt--a much needed one--as the troops
had marched thirty-four miles in 18½ hours. On the 23rd they
proceeded towards Lindley, and were joined _en route_ by the remainder
of the divisional and brigade troops. On the 24th the troops reached a
point east of Bloemspruit, where they bivouacked, and the next day
brought them into the teeth of the enemy, who were hiding in a ridge at
Maquanstadt. From this point the Dutchmen were driven by the Seaforths,
who from thence proceeded to a peaked kopje which commanded the water
supply, a position which was at once vigorously contested by the Boers.
After a hard fight, in which one officer and three men were wounded, the
Seaforths succeeded in occupying the position. Here they were joined by
the Black Watch and the 5th Battery of the Royal Field Artillery, the
rest of the troops remaining behind at Hopefield till the 26th.

At Bloemberg, a horseshoe-shaped ridge near Koorspruit (an affluent of
the Valsche), the Boers were found strongly posted, and no sooner had
the Black Watch appeared than they were greeted by a crackling
cross-fire that sent them quickly to cover. Here they held the enemy
while a wide turning movement was made to the right. The inner side of
the horseshoe position was attacked by the Seaforths, while the outer
was assailed by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders under Major
Urmston, who deftly approached the stony eminence which concealed some
sixty of the enemy, and charged with such force and impetuosity that
presently the entire position was vacated, and the whole body of Boers,
some 1000 in number, were seen racing over the boulders with more than
their usual agility. The Bloemberg Ridge gained, it was promptly
occupied by Black Watch and Seaforths.

By midday the passage of the hill was accomplished, and by 4 P.M. the
troops had reached Lindley. The expedition had cost them two killed and
eleven wounded. The Highland Brigade crossed the Valsche River and
bivouacked north of the drift on the Heilbron Road. Still more
north--about two miles--went two companies of Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders to ensconce themselves on a kopje which commanded the road
towards Heilbron.

On the afternoon of the 27th the advance was continued. The Highlanders
crossed the Rhenoster River at Mildraai, and on the following day, 28th,
moved still further forward till stopped by the presence of the enemy,
who barred the line of march on the north of Roodeport. The Highland
Light Infantry--the advanced guard--were deployed and sent to seize some
kraals about 1200 yards from the enemy's position, which sprayed itself
over about six miles of country. One company was detached to hold a hill
on the right front, supported by the Black Watch, while the Seaforths
attempted a turning movement to the left and the Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders guarded the rear and both rear flanks from a point of
vantage on Spitzkop. The artillery blazed copiously for an hour, while
the Boers also made animated resistance, but after good sixty minutes of
assault the enemy gave way, and the Seaforths succeeded in getting round
the right flank, while the Highland Light Infantry and Black Watch
gained the centre of the now deserted ridge. But the Boers had only
scuttled to other ridges whence they could let loose Pandemonium with
increased vigour. Thus the Highlanders came in for murderous attention
in front, rear, and flank. Presently to their rescue went the invaluable
naval guns, snorting vengeance, and determining to show that, though the
Field Artillery became outranged and impotent, there was laudable
lyddite to save the situation. On this, and with startling velocity, the
Federals removed themselves, and they were stimulated in their departure
by long-range volleys from the Highland Light Infantry. While the
Dutchmen were speeding into the unknown, the Highlanders triumphant were
advancing to a position north of Marksfontein. Having crossed the drift
they bivouacked on the other side, while the ox transport moved up to
the shelter of their wing. The day's work was not without its pathetic
side, for thirty men and three officers were wounded, while two gallant
Highlanders were among the slain. The wounded officers were: Seaforth
Highlanders--Lieut.-Col. Hughes-Hallet, Lieut. Ratclyffe, and Lieut.

At this time the Duke of Cambridge's Yeomanry were to have met Sir H.
Colvile, but owing to their failing by an hour or so to join him on his
march up from Lindley they were surrounded, and on the 31st were
captured by the enemy. The tale of the disaster is told elsewhere. On
the 29th, the Division began to move gradually on in caterpillar
fashion, drawing up a back segment to propel the forward one, inch by
inch, or mile by mile. Mr. Blundell's description in the _Morning Post_
of the advance shows how risky and ingenuous a proceeding the movements
of baggage in face of the enemy may be. "The route lay over a series of
ridges and spruits and along a parallel line of hill on which the Boer
forces had taken up their position. The baggage, &c., was first
concentrated and taken over the spruit, with the Seaforths as right rear
flank guard and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as rear guard. As
the baggage and transport advanced the Highland Light Infantry advanced,
and the battalions guarding flank and rear retired from their position
and followed the baggage across the drift, while small bodies of the
enemy hovered round the retiring rear at a respectful distance and
unable to do any serious damage."

Finally at 7 P.M. on the 29th, exactly to time ordered by the chief, the
General and his tired warriors marched into Heilbron, having covered
within eight days a distance of 126 miles, fighting "a swarm of hornets"
at intervals the whole way, and losing in the advance fifty-four wounded
and nine killed--a loss in comparison with the work done by no means
heavy. Mr. Blundell's description of the class of work and its reward so
happily hits off the nature of the movement, that the temptation to
quote him is irresistible. "To appreciate the humours of the military
situation in these regions, one would have to turn to the experiences of
one's schoolboy days with wasps' nests, when, after the capture of the
main position, the survivors take to guerilla warfare in the grass,
crawling up your trousers and dropping on your neck from unexpected
quarters, and inflicting damage to your temper and prestige out of all
proportion to the losses incurred or the advantage gained."


Christiana, as we know, was occupied on the 16th of May by one of
General Hunter's brigades, while Lord Methuen moved his Division from
Boshop to Hoopstad, thus bringing his troops into the zone of the great
operations, and pursuing his march eastwards along the south bank of the
Vaal. (Hunter's Brigade afterwards removed to cover the repair of the
line along the Bechuanaland Railway towards Vryburg, and there for the
present we must leave them.)

(Photo by a British Officer.)]

From Boshop Methuen's force moved on in zigzag fashion, their
destination being Kroonstad. From Hoopstad to Bothaville they passed
over good roads, through picturesque country, followed for miles by the
graceful bends of the Vaal River--a ribbon of silver fringed with
willows. The weather was now growing more and more chilly, and after
sundown frost began to nip and biting winds to whistle through the
bones. Nights were spent in trying to gain warmth, and when dawn came
the sun was welcomed with thanksgiving. The infantry in these raw
mornings had the advantage of the cavalry, as they could work themselves
into a glow, but there were other occasions in which the mounted men had
their revenge, and could forge on ahead and secure, before the arrival
of the lagging pedestrians, all manner of tempting edibles--chickens,
ducks, sucking pigs, and the like, which happened to be at the farms.
These luxuries were greedily coveted, for, coming along from Boshop some
220 miles, diet had been limited to biscuits--hard, dry, and
irresponsive--and any variety in the monotonous fare was received with
unqualified rejoicing. Near Bothaville, as dawn broke, a curious episode
took place. In the distance was spied a tent--a species of farmyard
in the centre of the open veldt. Chickens and cattle and a trek waggon
fringed the strange mushroom-shaped domain. It being necessary to
discover the nature of the occupant of this shanty, one of the military
party approached and hallooed. No answer. He roared louder. Then from
the inner recess of the tent a burly voice bellowed--"You can't
commandeer me; I'm an Englishman. The first Dutchman that pokes his head
around here will look like a sieve when I've done with him." To this
warlike challenge the British soldier meekly replied--described himself
and his business--whereupon a change rapid as amusing came over the
scene. Out from the tent, "like a cork from a bottle," burst the inmate,
glad past speech, excited past effervescence--wife, children, came
rushing forth from their hiding-places, rapture writ in smiling letters
over every feature. The British were come--at last--at last! The valiant
couple were taken in charge, removed to Bothaville and protected, and
their long days of loyal suspense and tribulation were at an end. Then
on went the goodly multitude, through streets whose houses fluttered
with white, taking with them as they went their Boer prisoners, who,
sitting in their own carts, alternately shivered and snarled. At
Kroonstad--reached on the 27th of May--they pitched their camps, not in
the town itself but discreetly removed from the awful reminiscences of
dead horse and beast left by Boer and British armies in their last
tussle, and here they thought to take a brief rest before marching away
from rail and civilisation. But man proposed and the exigencies of the
situation disposed, and by the 1st of June we find Lord Methuen's troops
hastening off to the assistance of the 13th Battalion of Imperial
Yeomanry at Lindley. To understand the urgent necessity for this detour
we must return to Senekal.


Photo by Gregory & Co., London]


So soon as General Rundle entered Senekal--on the 26th of May--he
proceeded to make inquiries as to the whereabouts of General Colvile,
whom he believed to be at Lindley, some forty miles north-east of him.
It so happened that General Colvile had just vacated that place and
continued his march in the direction of Heilbron. No sooner was his back
turned than the Boers pounced on Lindley, and not only pounced, but
contrived to make themselves instantly aggressive. As ill luck would
have it, the Duke of Cambridge's Yeomanry under Colonel Spragge, who had
been sent from Kroonstad to join General Colvile's force, were caught by
the enemy a few miles short of their destination.

They were in the awkward position of having missed General Colvile and
lost a _pied-à-terre_ at Lindley.

In this dilemma a message was sent to General Rundle informing him of
the desperate quandary.

The General, instantly reviewing the critical state of affairs, devised
a strategical plan which, he thought, would serve--far off as he was--to
extricate the entangled forces who were demanding his assistance. He was
aware that a posse of Boers was within some six miles of him, circling
around towards Bethlehem in the east, and he conceived the scheme of
attacking these with such force and determination as to press them hard
and force them in their turn to appeal for help from the hordes that
were infesting Lindley to the annoyance and dismay of the not yet united
British forces who had prayed his aid. This device was masterly in the
extreme, as it, so to speak, forced the masses of the enemy to come
south in all haste, and thus saved risks of failure which might have
resulted from a long movement of infantry over a distance of about forty
miles. So, leaving General Boyes with three battalions in occupation of
Senekal, General Rundle, with a force consisting of 2nd Grenadier
Guards, 2nd Scots Guards, 2nd East Yorkshire, under General Campbell,
the 2nd West Kent Regiment, the 2nd and 79th Batteries Royal Field
Artillery, and the 4th and 7th Battalions of Imperial Yeomanry--marched
off towards the east over some miles of open country over which the tall
grass, bleached now by many days of scorching sun, waved thickly round
their knees. In the distance were three ominous hills--such hills as the
Dutchmen delight in--fronted by a lower eminence which was occupied by
the enemy. These espied the coming of the British, and promptly betook
themselves to their main position on two of the hills, Biddulph's Berg
and Tafel Berg. From these points of vantage they greeted the Kent and
Derbyshire Yeomanry, who had advanced to reconnoitre, with a storm of
bullets which at once laid low many a brave fellow. Still the Derbyshire
Yeomanry pursued their way, worked round the hill and dismounted and
proceeded to seek cover, where they were forced to remain till dark set
in, unable to stir lest the volleys of the enemy should find them out.
On the western side the Kent Yeomanry were hotly attacked, and many were
wounded. Meanwhile, from the foremost hill, whence the Boers had spied
out the coming of Rundle's force, the British now in possession,
commenced to fire upon the heights of the Biddulph's Berg; the artillery
too dropped shells in the direction of the enemy; and the sun went down
on the hostile forces, fighting vigorously so long as a ray of daylight
served to illumine the deadly operations. Then they bivouacked where
they were. At dawn the battle was resumed, and an effort was made to
turn the enemy's right flank. The Grenadiers under Colonel Lloyd moved
off to the west, supported by the Scots Guards, West Kent, and Imperial
Yeomanry, marching over miles of hard dried grass till within range of
the Boers' lair. But as usual the foe was invisible. It was imagined
that he had vacated the position in the night; but to be on the safe
side a cascade of shrapnel was poured over the steeps. Even this brusque
process of search was unavailing. Not a sign of life was visible, though
wounded Dutchmen must have lain in their hiding-places with stoical
calm. And now commenced the dangerous, the awe-striking feature of the
day. The grass, dried to chip, suddenly burst into a blaze. The
carelessness of some one had set it alight, and presently the gallant
Grenadiers found themselves fanned with the heat of an oven and forced
to move from their position. They were now ordered to face the Boer
hiding-place and attack it, while the 79th Battery behind them prepared
again to scour the hill. Then, following their usual tactics, the Boer
guns burst forth with loud and startling uproar, surprising the troops,
who had almost accepted the idea that the enemy had fled. There was no
doubt that he was "all there," with two guns and a "pom-pom," and meant
to make himself objectionable. Just as the Boer shell was dispersing the
amazed Yeomanry (who but a few moments before had been preparing the
pipe of peace in full security of the Dutchmen's supposed evacuation),
the grass again broke into flame, growing and leaping by bounds, so that
the best efforts to stay its progress were unavailing. Still, the
artillery duel, once commenced, continued briskly, briskly as the veldt
fire below, that, sweeping round the wounded as they fell, made a new
and awful panorama in the sufficiently horrific scene of war. The
British gunners worked their hardest to silence the Boer gun, and as
they proceeded, the great furnace of roaring, crackling grass gathered
and grew, and the volumes of smoke soon rendered the Boer position
invisible. During this time not a sound of musketry had been heard, only
the Boer gun had given tongue vociferously enough to tax all the
energies of the British gunners to silence it. Then came the order for
the Grenadiers to advance, and this, in spite of smoke and the violent
efforts of the Boer artillery, they did in right soldierly fashion,
making for the direction of the offensive weapon with splendid coolness
and precision. But no sooner had they neared to within some hundred
yards of the piece than they suddenly found themselves pelted at by the
hitherto inactive rifles of the foe. Thick and fast buzzed the bullets
of the Dutchmen, loud roared the guns as the shells burst and bellowed.
One man after another dropped--was killed, maimed, mutilated--and there,
invisible, lay as he fell, a prey in his helplessness to the devouring
flames that were now leaping and crackling with an almost majestical
vehemence, rushing far and wide, like some vast, ravening, raging demon,
with a thousand fiery tongues panting forth volumes of blue-white breath
over the whole universe. And within this fearful area the perpetual
rattle and roll of musketry continued their fell work, while the
wounded, red with their gore, and redder with the scorching of the
flames, crept, and crawled and reeled to places of safety, or, woeful
truth, writhed where they fell, victims to the most horrible torture
that fiendish imagination has yet devised. Amid the stentorian rampage
none could hear their cries for aid, none could see their struggles for
release. Only now and then, when some succeeded in emerging from the
fiery chaos, could the appalled few who were beyond the vivid halo of
destruction realise the mighty horror that lay on the skirts of
Biddulph's Hill. But the battle raged on. The Yeomanry, under Colonel
Blair, were off in hot haste to attack and rout some Boers who were
endeavouring to make a flank attack, while the artillery, despite the
scene of carnage, battered the hills whence the Boers, safely hidden,
were pouring a horrible fusillade upon the persevering, dauntless
Grenadiers. These remained for hours returning the fire of the enemy, in
a position of unparalleled peril, until the order came to retire. This
movement was executed with splendid precision, but many were left upon
the field, and in the succouring of them deeds of heroism followed each
other with such rapidity that several glorious acts passed unwitnessed
and unsung. Lieutenant Quilter, with twenty men, volunteered to rescue
the helpless, and rushed into the flaming furnace without arms, and
under the relentless fire of the enemy. One after another of the
wretched sufferers were hauled off to safety by these gallant
deliverers, who, in full consciousness of the grim fate that must have
been theirs should they themselves have dropped, pursued their work with
almost amazing heroism. Colonel Lloyd received many injuries, and was
also much scorched, but continued to command his gallant Grenadiers till
further wounds made him helpless. He might again have been wounded where
he lay, but for the assistance of a young drummer (Harries), into whose
hand a bullet passed while he was tending his commanding officer.

While the battle was proceeding, General Rundle received a communication
from Lord Roberts ordering him to go to the assistance of General
Brabant, who also was in difficulties. It became necessary, therefore,
to effect the retirement. The manoeuvre had, however, produced the
desired effect, for the Boers had been somewhat hard hit, and had given
up their aggressive operations, leaving the neighbourhood of Lindley
open to our force. On Wednesday the 30th General Rundle was informed
that De Villiers, the Boer Commandant, was seriously wounded, and that
fifty Dutchmen had been killed, and many injured, whereupon a doctor and
champagne were sent to the late enemy; this in spite of the fact that
very early in the proceedings of Monday the Boers had commenced the
battle with their customary treacherous tricks. From an adjacent
homestead they had flown a white flag, taking care that directly the
scouts went forward to accept their surrender they should be pelted
liberally as a reward for their confidence. As a result, one of the
British party was wounded mortally, and another severely. Fortunately,
the next day (Tuesday) the ruffians received their deserts, for the
farmhouse was liberally pounded by the 2nd Battery of Artillery. Nor was
this the sole barbaric act of the day. A West Kent Yeoman, while
scouting, had passed a Dutch farmhouse, and was invited in to coffee,
being assured by the Dutchwoman, who desired to play the hostess, that
no Boers had been near the place for days. Happily the wary yeoman
refused, for he had no sooner turned to ride off than he was pelted with
bullets from a party of Boers who had immediately rushed from the
homestead to fire at him. His marvellous escape was merely due to the
nature of the ground round the farm, which afforded him cover.

Still General Rundle's sense of humanity overcame the instinct of
reprisal; for after the battle he offered shelter to the Boer wounded,
even promising to tend them without considering them prisoners of war.

In the engagement at Biddulph's Berg thirty of the British were killed
and 150 wounded. Among the wounded officers were:--Grenadier
Guards--Col. F. Lloyd, D.S.O., Capt. G. L. Bonham, Capt. C. E. Corkran,
Lieut. E. Seymour, Lieut. A. Murray. Scots Guards--Major F. W. Romilly
D.S.O. Royal Welsh Fusiliers--Captain R. S. Webber, A.D.C. to General

On Thursday, May 31st, the troops proceeded to Ficksburg to the
assistance of General Brabant, who had engaged the enemy near the Basuto
Border on the Tuesday, and was still fighting.

In spite of General Rundle's desperate fight, the 13th Battalion (Irish)
Imperial Yeomanry, on whose account the battle was undertaken, had a
most disastrous encounter with an overwhelming number of Boers near
Lindley on the 31st of May. This battalion, as we know, was attacked on
the way from Kroonstad to Lindley, and temporarily helped by the
operations near Senekal. Subsequently the party came upon a superior
force of Boers, and was forced to surrender.

The _Cape Times_ gave its version of the affair:--

     "The story was told by Corporal Marks, who, with Trooper Brian,
     alone escaped capture. The force in question consisted of about
     500 men, under the command of Colonel Spragge, and was
     comprised of the Duke of Cambridge's Own and the Irish and
     Belfast Yeomanry. The Duke's were 125 strong. With this force
     was a convoy of waggons, while the scouts, of whom our
     informant, Corporal Marks, was in command, numbered five.

     "The little battalion left Kroonstad on May 25, under hurried
     orders to reinforce General Colvile at Lindley without delay.
     On their way they captured and disarmed a troop of sixteen
     Boers whom they found in possession of a quantity of
     ammunition. Taking their prisoners with them, they hurried on
     at full speed, arriving at Lindley on Sunday, May 27, about
     noon. As they entered the town a number of horsemen were seen
     galloping out at the other end in the direction of Heilbron.
     Much to their disappointment our men found that General Colvile
     had left at daylight that day, after some severe fighting, for

     "On Wednesday night, after the gallant little band had been
     fighting against enormous odds for three days, Colonel Spragge
     decided to send one scout (C. Smith), in company of a Kaffir
     guide, in search of General Rundle, who was supposed to be in
     the neighbourhood of Senekal, with an urgent message for help.
     Corporal Marks and Trooper Brian were instructed to leave at
     the same time with a similar message for General Colvile. A
     close Boer line had been drawn round the position of the
     devoted garrison, and it was necessary to pierce the cordon to
     reach Heilbron. The scouts left unarmed, and after a terrible
     night of it, Marks and Brian got through the enemy's lines. The
     night was bitterly cold, and the Boers had lighted camp fires,
     which proved serviceable guides to the two men. They passed so
     close to the pickets that they could hear them talking and
     laughing perfectly distinctly. Taking a circuitous route, they
     kept the Heilbron road some distance on their right, and by
     rapid marching reached Colvile's camp at seven o'clock on
     Thursday morning. The message was delivered to the General,
     whose reply was that he could do nothing. Unhappily, Smith and
     the Kaffir were captured by Boers, and Smith was shot on the

       *       *       *       *       *

     "The following is a copy of the despatch given to Corporal
     Marks for delivery to Colonel Spragge:--

     "'Your message received 7 A.M. I am eighteen miles from Lindley
     and twenty-two from Heilbron, which latter place I hope to
     reach to-morrow. The enemy are between me and you, and I cannot
     send back supplies. If you cannot join me by road to Heilbron
     you must retire on Kroonstad, living on the country, and if
     necessary, abandoning your waggons.--(Signed) H. E. COLVILE,

     "General Colvile appears to have believed that the little force
     could make a dash for it and cut their way through to
     Kroonstad. In any case, he did not see his way to go to the
     help of the men who had been marching to reinforce himself.
     Knowing that this message could be of no possible service to
     Colonel Spragge, and realising the urgency of the case,
     Corporal Marks decided to take the responsibility of not
     wasting time by returning to deliver this message, and he and
     Brian made for Kroonstad as hard as their horses would gallop.
     About eight miles north-east of the town they learned that Lord
     Methuen was in the neighbourhood, and they reached his camp
     about half-past four that afternoon (Thursday). Lord Methuen
     immediately made preparations to relieve the plucky little
     force in such hard straits at Lindley, and started the same
     afternoon. He reached Lindley without opposition the same
     night. But it was too late."

     Another account said:--"The battalion, consisting of the Duke
     of Cambridge's Own and three companies of Irish Yeomanry--under
     500 in all--reached Kroonstad on Friday morning, May 22, after
     a long forced march. A few hours after their arrival they
     received an urgent message from General Colvile requiring them
     to join him without delay at Lindley, and they started at 8
     P.M. that same evening with one day's rations, reaching
     Lindley, fifty miles distant, on the Sunday morning. When the
     advanced guard reached the town they found it apparently
     deserted, the only signs of British occupation being empty beef
     and biscuit tins; and were informed that General Colvile had
     left at daybreak. Almost immediately they were fired at from
     behind walls and houses, and finding the place untenable
     retreated about a mile outside the town, where Colonel Spragge
     took up a good position on some kopjes, with a stream of water
     and good shelter for the horses and waggons. This place they
     defended, fighting by day and fortifying by night, till
     Thursday, at 2 P.M., on slender rations, though surrounded by
     greatly superior numbers. On Thursday morning the Boers were
     largely reinforced, and also brought up cannon--three Krupps
     and a 'pom-pom,'--when the shell-fire telling dreadfully at
     short range, Colonel Spragge felt it would be madness to hold
     out longer, and surrendered after losing more than
     seventy-eight in killed and wounded out of his small
     force--when all was over some of the unwounded were so
     exhausted that they could hardly march into Lindley, where
     their gallant enemies as well as the non-combatants gave them
     the highest credit for the stand they had made in an almost
     hopeless position. Next day Lord Methuen arrived after a
     splendid forced march, and the wounded were set free."

In regard to the loss of the Duke of Cambridge's Yeomanry, there was a
good deal of criticism, and accounts dealing with the _raison d'être_ of
the disaster vary. Mr. Winston Churchill, in support of Sir H. Colvile,
declared that it was sent out with the absurdly inadequate escort by the
fiat of a higher authority, with the full knowledge that Heilbron was
surrounded by a force of Boers estimated at from 4000 to 5000 men. It
was also despatched without warning, being sent, or at any rate received
at Heilbron, so that it was impossible to operate from the latter place
to assist its passage, especially as it was actually captured almost
immediately after leaving Kroonstad, and fourteen miles from Heilbron.

"In the case of the Yeomanry, the message giving notice of the change of
place, where it was to join the 9th Division from Ventersburg to
Lindley, was by error addressed to the 9th Brigade, and this was not
received by Sir H. Colvile till the 21st of June. The first intimation
of their position was given by a messenger to General Colvile's camp
when twenty miles out of Lindley from the Yeomanry, then five miles on
the other side on the Kroonstad road. The messenger asked for
reinforcement and supplies, but did not represent the situation as very
serious, as, in fact, at that time it was not. But at this juncture
General Colvile was surrounded by a large force of Boers on his flank
and rear, and short of supplies himself, and on a time march under
orders to reach Heilbron on the 29th. He therefore advised Colonel
Spragge to retire on the Kroonstad road, and authorised him, if
necessary, to abandon his baggage, &c."

Lord Methuen, who at the time was on the march to Kroonstad, was ordered
off, as we already know, to the rescue. Within half-an-hour he had
started, and by 10 A.M. on the 2nd of June he had accomplished
forty-four miles in twenty-five hours. But his expedition was of no
avail, for Spragge's Irishmen had been taken prisoners. Nevertheless
having arrived, Lord Methuen proceeded to attack the Boers with vigour,
and after five hours' continuous fighting, put some 3000 of them to

The official list of prisoners of war showed 22 officers and 863
non-commissioned officers and men.

Among the officers were the following:--

     13th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry--Lieutenant-Colonel Spragge,
     Lieutenant-Colonel Holland, Captain Robinson, Captain Humby,
     Lieutenant Mitchell, Lieutenant Stannus, Lieutenant the Earl of
     Leitrim, Lieutenant Rutledge, Lieutenant Montgomery, Lieutenant
     Lane, Lieutenant Du Pré, Lieutenant Donnelly, Sergeant Wright,
     Sergeant Woodhouse. Captain Keith had been killed in the affair
     of the 29th, when Captain Sir J. Power was dangerously wounded,
     and Captain the Earl of Longford, Lieutenants Stuart, Robin,
     and Benson, were wounded together with Lieutenant Bertram of
     the Eastern Province Horse (since dead).

The following officers were also wounded on June 1 and 2:--

     3rd Battalion Imperial Yeomanry--Captain L. R. Rolleston,
     Captain M. S. Dawsany, Lieutenant L. E. Starkey.

Soon after this time the 9th Division was split up, owing to the
necessity of detaching small forces. Generals Smith-Dorrien and
Bruce-Hamilton joined their forces with that of General Ian Hamilton,
while General MacDonald with the Highland Brigade acted as an
independent force, and General Sir H. Colvile returned to England.[8]


Drawing by R. Caton Woodville]


Meanwhile Sir Charles Warren's troops, moving from Faberspruit, some
twelve miles from Douglas, had a nasty experience. The force consisted
of some four hundred Duke of Edinburgh's Volunteers, one and a half
companies of the 8th Regiment of Imperial Yeomanry, some of Paget's
Horse, twenty-five of Warren's Scouts, and some guns of the Royal
Canadian Artillery. During the night, a particularly dark one, the
Boers slunk up in two parties to the gardens of farmhouses near which
the yeomanry on the one hand, and Sir C. Warren's and the Duke of
Edinburgh Volunteers on the other, were quartered. In the dusk before
dawn, these suddenly blazed out on the British, who, like lightning, got
under arms. But in the shock and uproar of the first alarm the English
horses that had been kraaled burst through the kraal walls and
stampeded, thus making the scene of turmoil more intense. With the first
streak of daylight the whole British force poured shot and shell into
the gardens where the Boers had hidden themselves, and for a good hour
the troops were at work driving the invaders from the neighbourhood of
the camps. The Boers lost heavily, and a portion of the Yeomanry
suffered correspondingly while pressing forward to the support of the
pickets. Many of Paget's Horse were wounded, notably Lieutenant
Lethbridge, whose injury was dangerous, and of the Duke of Edinburgh
Volunteers three were killed and four wounded. Their gallant
Colonel--Colonel Spence--was shot dead while in act of giving orders.
Major Kelly, A.D.C. to Sir Charles Warren, was wounded; Lieutenant
Patton, A.D.C., was shot in the knee, and Lieutenant Huntingdon was
slightly injured. Many Boers were wounded and thirteen were killed, but
others contrived to gallop off scot free, as owing to the stampeding of
the horses it was impossible to follow them up. The total British
casualties were eighteen killed and about thirty wounded. The result of
the engagement had a decidedly beneficial effect upon the rebels, who
were at that time hesitating on which side of the fence to locate

Colonel Adye had also surprised the enemy and gained a victory at Kheis
on the 27th--a victory which had the effect of defeating the plans of
the rebels who had assembled within some twenty miles of that place in
hope to effect a junction with others of their kind. The action was a
smart one, and many hundred head of stock and prisoners were captured,
but it was also costly, as Major J. A. Orr-Ewing, 5th Co. Imperial
Yeomanry, was killed; Captain L. H. Jones, 32 Co. Imperial Yeomanry;
Surg.-Capt. Dun, 5th Co.; Lieut. Venables, Nesbitt's Horse, were
wounded; and two gallant young officers, Captain Tindall, 1st Welsh
Regiment, and Lieutenant Matthews, 2nd Gloucester Regiment, both
succumbed to the severe injuries they had received.

Sir Charles Warren, after his engagement, marched without opposition
from Faberspruit to Campbell, which was reached on the 5th of June.


[8] While dealing with the matter it is due to General Colvile to repeat
the statement made by himself at the end of the year to a representative
of Reuter's Agency:--

"I am accused of being chiefly responsible for the surrender of the
Yeomanry at Lindley. In my opinion the primary cause of this surrender
was the insufficient information given by the headquarters staff to
Colonel Spragge and myself. Had I been informed of Lord Roberts's
intentions and of the intended movements of Colonel Spragge, who was in
command of the Yeomanry, and had Colonel Spragge been made acquainted
with the orders I received from Lord Roberts, this disaster would never
have happened. The following details will make it clear that the loss of
the Yeomanry was primarily due to bad staff work. On May 20 I received a
telegram from the chief of the staff ordering me to concentrate my
troops, consisting of the Highland Brigade, the Eastern Province Horse,
a field battery, and two naval guns, at Ventersburg on May 23, to leave
that town on the 24th and to march to Heilbron, _via_ Lindley, arriving
at Lindley on May 26, and at Heilbron on the 29th. I was informed that I
should be joined at Ventersburg by the 13th Imperial Yeomanry and
Lovat's Scouts.

"On arrival at Ventersburg, finding that neither the Yeomanry nor the
Scouts were there, I informed the chief of the staff by telegraph, but
received no answer from him at the time, though his reply was handed to
me more than a month later, among a bundle of undelivered telegrams.
This telegram was worded as follows: 'May 24. Yeomanry are so late they
cannot catch you at Ventersburg. You must march without them. They will
join you later _via_ Kroonstad.' As I did not receive the telegram till
the march was over it did not affect my action, but had I received it at
the time its wording would have led me to suppose that the Yeomanry
would join me at Heilbron, as was actually the case with Lovat's Scouts.
At this time Lord Roberts's army was disposed roughly as follows:
General Hunter's Division on the Kimberley-Mafeking Railway, Lord
Methuen on the Vaal River, headquarters and General Pole-Carew's
Division on the Bloemfontein-Johannesburg Railway, General Ian
Hamilton's column at Heilbron, and General Rundle and Brabant to the
south-east of me. It was, therefore, extended across the Free State, and
I assumed that Lord Roberts intended to advance in this formation,
sweeping all before him till he got within striking distance of the
Vaal, thus forcing the enemy to extend, and that he would then select
one point for forcing the passage of the river. I also supposed that
Heilbron, which is the head of a short line of railway, would be the
supply depot for the columns to the east, as Winburg had been.

"My very definite orders, and the fact that I was not to move till the
last possible moment, which necessitated my averaging seventeen miles a
day, strengthened the assumption that I was taking part in a combined
movement, in which great exactitude in conforming to the time table is,
of course, of the utmost importance. In a telegram which Lord Roberts
had sent to General Hamilton a short time before on a similar occasion
he had impressed on him the importance of columns arriving
simultaneously. As I had been officially informed that General Hamilton
was in occupation of Heilbron, I assumed that my orders to be there on
the 29th indicated that that was the day on which he would be required
to take part in the general advance, and that any delay on my part would
either retard the advance and upset the Commander-in-Chief's
calculations, or that by leaving Heilbron unoccupied I should hand over
an important supply depot to the enemy. I have thus explained why in no
circumstances should I have felt myself justified in disobeying Lord
Roberts's orders, which I simply carried out from first to last. I now
proceed to recite the circumstances in which I became acquainted with
Colonel Spragge's difficulties, and the action I took.

"I left Ventersburg on May 24 as ordered, and on the 26th, after a fight
outside Lindley, entered it, finding that the place had been vacated by
us, a fact of which no notification had been given me, though I had been
informed of our occupation of it. Marching at daylight on the following
morning we crossed the Rhenoster River just before sunset, having been
engaged the greater part of the day, and on the morning of the 28th I
received the following message: 'Colonel Spragge to General Colvile.
Found no one in Lindley but Boers. Have five hundred men, but only one
day's food. Have stopped three miles back on Kroonstad road. I want help
to get out without great loss.--B. Spragge, Lieutenant-Colonel, May 27,
1900.' I asked the orderly who Colonel Spragge was, and on hearing from
him that he was the officer commanding the Yeomanry I learned for the
first time that these troops were following me. The statement, which I
have seen several times repeated in the papers, that I had urged the
Yeomanry to hurry after me, is absolutely untrue. I have reason to
believe that this baseless newspaper report has obtained credence in
some high official quarters. I have already expressed my views of the
necessity of being at Heilbron at the time ordered, and as it is a
recognised rule of war that the lesser must be sacrificed to the greater
interest, I should in any circumstances have considered it my duty to
push on even had I been sure that such action would have entailed the
loss of the Yeomanry. But in this case I had two additional reasons for
doing so. First, that, as Colonel Spragge had succeeded in retiring
three miles on the Kroonstad road I was convinced that he would have no
difficulty in making good his retreat, though possibly with loss, as the
colonel himself had said; secondly, that I had then only two days' more
food for my force, and had I fought my way back I should not only have
reduced the Highland Brigade to the verge of starvation, but should
certainly have had insufficient supplies to take me back to Heilbron."



The relief of Ladysmith caused the Boers to fall back towards the
Drakensberg, and Sir Redvers Buller, whose troops were thoroughly
exhausted, encamped his army to north and west of the dilapidated town,
and there remained stationary for several weeks. It was necessary that
the force should thoroughly recuperate and get into working order in
time to co-operate with the great central advance when Lord Roberts
should give the word. There was an immense amount to be done. The
mounted troops, many of them, needed to be remounted, and winter
clothing was required. The reconstruction of the transport also demanded
alteration, while it was necessary, in conjunction with Lord Roberts's
operations, to keep a wary eye on the Boers and prevent them from
crossing into the Free State and swelling the enemy's forces opposing
the great advance.

As with the departure of Sir Charles Warren to the western frontier,
some slight changes had taken place in the Natal Field Force, it becomes
necessary to inspect a rough table of the divisions at this time under
Sir Redvers Buller:--




Lieutenant-General Sir C. F. CLERY.

       2nd Brigade (Major-General Hamilton).

     2nd East Surrey.
     2nd West Yorks.
     2nd Devons.
     2nd West Surrey.

       4th Brigade (Colonel C. D. Cooper).

     1st Rifle Brigade.
     1st Durham Light Infantry.
     3rd King's Royal Rifles.
     2nd Scottish Rifles (Cameronians).

     7th, 14th, and 66th Field Batteries.


Lieutenant-General LYTTELTON.

       7th Brigade (Brigadier-General F. W. Kitchener).

     1st Devon.
     1st Gloucester.
     1st Manchester.
     2nd Gordon Highlanders.

       8th Brigade (Major-General F. Howard).

     1st Royal Irish Fusiliers.
     1st Leicester.
     1st King's Royal Rifles.
     2nd King's Royal Rifles.

       Two Brigade Divisions Royal Artillery.
     13th, 67th, 69th Field Batteries.
     21st, 42nd, 53rd Field Batteries.


Lieutenant-General H. J. T. HILDYARD.

       10th Brigade (Major-General J. T. Coke).

     2nd Dorset.
     2nd Middlesex.
     1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

       11th Brigade (Major-General A. S. Wynne).

     2nd Royal Lancaster.
     2nd Lancashire Fusiliers.
     1st South Lancashire.
     1st York and Lancaster.

     19th, 28th, and 78th Field Batteries.


     2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
     2nd Rifle Brigade.
     1st King's Liverpool.
     Imperial Light Infantry.
     61st Field Battery (Howitzers).
     Two Nordenfeldts (taken from the Boers).
     Natal Battery 9-pounders.
     Fourteen naval 12-pounder quick-firers.
     4th Mountain Battery.
     10th Mountain Battery, two guns.
     Four 4.7 naval guns.
     Naval 6-in. gun.
     Part of Siege Train.


       1st Brigade (Major-General J. F. Burn Murdoch).

       2nd Brigade (Major-General J. F. Brocklehurst).

       3rd Brigade (Major-General the Earl of Dundonald).

     5th Dragoon Guards.
     1st Royal Dragoons.
     5th Lancers.
     13th Hussars.
     18th Hussars.
     19th Hussars.
     A Battery Royal Horse Artillery.
     South African Light Horse.
     Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry.
     Bethune's Mounted Infantry.
     Natal Carabineers.
     Natal Mounted Rifles.
     Border Mounted Rifles.
     Umvoti Mounted Rifles.
     Natal Police.
     Colt Battery.


     Addison's Colonial Scouts.

For some weeks it appeared as though no move were contemplated; but on
the 7th of May the machinery began to revolve. General Clery's Division
proceeded from Ladysmith to Modder Spruit, while Lord Dundonald and
General Dartnell also prepared to move their troops out of camp at Bug's
Farm. Lord Roberts at this time had reached a point in the Free State
level with Ladysmith, and Sir Redvers Buller thus became included in the
scheme of advance, and was able to act in conjunction with him. The
Boers, numbering some 7000 or 8000, were swarming on the Biggarsberg
range, having prepared entrenchments on all points commanding the road
from Ladysmith to the Transvaal and as far as Helpmakaar. They knew well
by experience, however, the discomforts attendant on their position, for
their only clear way of escape was by Laing's Nek--the passes over the
Drakensberg on the west, and Zululand on the east being now closed to

On the 11th of May activities began. Dundonald's Cavalry Brigade and
Clery's Infantry Division were assembled in the neighbourhood of Sunday
River Drift south of Elandslaagte. The General's plan was to post his
left at Elandslaagte and swing his right flank round by Helpmakaar and
crumple the Boers up towards Dundee.

On the 12th Sir Redvers Buller, with the right column, moved towards
Helpmakaar, following the same route as that taken by General Yule in
his famous retreat from Glencoe, while General Hildyard (the central
column) made a demonstration by crossing Sunday River, near the railway
line, and Lyttelton's Division (the left column) prolonged the line
farther west. Meanwhile, the brigades of Clery and Dundonald--over ruts
and obstacles, mere apologies for roads--had reached Waschbank, and were
facing the frowning heights of the Biggarsberg, which loomed large and
ominous and threatening about fifteen miles in the distance.

The Biggarsberg region, now so pregnant with historical interest is so
called after one of the early pioneers of Durban, an Englishman, named
Edward Biggar, who in 1838 fought side by side with the Boers against
Dingaan. Of the great range in those days a Natalian writer said:
"Besides being the first eastern plateau terrace of the Drakensberg,
musically termed 'Quathlamba' by the natives residing in it, it consists
of two long lines of elevation, divided by great ravines abounding in
romantic cascades, dizzy precipices, and great pointed peaks towering
towards the heavens in fantastic forms, veritable mountain forts,--

    'Which like the giants stand
    To sentinel enchanted land.'

Majestic krantzes were round us bristling in great tree ferns, huge
aloes, and African Euphoboebia, the latter's bright scarlet blossoms
contrasting sharply with the dark green foliage, nursing the base of
isolated lofty hills, whose sunless pillars were hidden in earth's
depths, unknown to human search."

This picturesque range runs across North Natal south-east towards the
junction of the Tugela (the "Angry" River of the Kaffirs) and the Mooi
River, and some of the peaks tower above the land of Natal 5000 to over
7000 feet; and from these, on a clear day, may be traced the whole
crimson history of Buller's relief of Ladysmith. In the present onward
march great precautions had to be taken, as this--a comparatively short
cut to save a round of some thirty miles--was teeming with the enemy,
whose flank on the Biggarsberg it was the chief's design to turn. The
march was resumed the whole day under menace of the enemy, who hovered,
vulture-like, in the distant heights, and towards afternoon came into
the plains, attacking and wounding some of the British patrols. They
also succeeded in taking prisoners three of the South African Light
Horse, Australians lately joined, who, mistaking the enemy in their
kharki disguise for friends, walked unsuspectingly into their arms. By
nightfall the troops were encamped at Vermaak's Farm, with the Boers and
their guns not very far distant.

Sunday's proceedings were opened in the haze of the morning with a shell
from the hostile band, and after a time the naval guns woke up, spat
forth some four times, and reduced the Dutchmen to silence. The Mounted
Brigades, with a battery of Royal Horse Artillery, had moved on
beforehand, and by the time the passage at arms between the big guns
was in full swing, they and the transport were safely in a place of
shelter. The Mounted Infantry and the 2nd Brigade, under General
Hamilton, then engaged in the herculean task of getting up the rugged
steeps of the Biggarsberg, and there, securing a nek which was the key
to the summit, prevented the enemy from attempting to waylay the
advancing army. On the ridges taken by General Hamilton were formidable
trenches prepared for defence, which could now serve the foe no longer.

While this flanking process was taking place, Colonel Bethune, with his
composite force of Mounted Infantry, was co-operating in the direction
of Helpmakaar, thus threatening the Boers' left flank, and rendering
their position at Helpmakaar distinctly uncomfortable. The guns on both
sides worked furiously--those of the Boers with poor success; and at
dusk, when the troops bivouacked, there was reason to hope that by
morning the region of Helpmakaar would be purged of the enemy. And so it

With the dawn of day it was discovered that the Dutchmen were in full
retreat towards Dundee, pursued by the cavalry. But the enemy were
covered in their retreat by some 1500 Boers, whose tactics were
excellent. Each section as it fell back set fire to the grass, thus
drawing a veil of smoke between them and Dundonald's men, and
intercepting the rush of the pursuers, who more than once were almost
within a lance-length of them. They succeeded in getting clear away, in
spite of the magnificent dash of the pursuit, which covered some forty
miles. Then, having secured some kops, they made sufficient stand to
check our advance through the rippling sea of flame made by the veldt
fires, while their main body vanished, leaving open the road to Dundee.

The Boers, finding themselves outflanked, decided to make no stand,
either at Dundee or Glencoe, and both these places, of now historical
interest, were occupied in the course of the 15th, and the 16th was
spent in resting after the fatigues of the preceding days. Dundee was a
sad and deserted-looking place. Though the coal-mines were untouched,
its houses were denuded of furniture, and bore evidences of Boer
occupation and Boer mischief. Wall papers hung in shreds, doors were
unhinged and broken, windows were merely gaps, and the word dilapidation
was marked everywhere. The inhabitants, such few as remained, gave the
troops a cordial welcome.


On Thursday the 17th the force was again up and doing, the earliest
birds being the Mounted Infantry. They journeyed along towards
Dannhauser Station, midway between Dundee and Newcastle. On the
afternoon of the 18th the troops swarmed into the pleasing green-girt
town of Newcastle, after a long and fatiguing march along a
fire-blackened plain, devilishly prepared by the departing Boers for the
purpose of showing up the advance of the kharki-clad legions. Joy and
welcome was writ on every face, and hearty cheers greeted the arrival of
the army. Sir Redvers Buller was presented with a banner which had been
secretly worked by the ladies of the locality in anticipation of his
coming. The town they found had been rechristened Viljoensdorp by the
Boers, whose labours there had also been anticipatory. They had
destroyed the large water-tanks for supplying the engines at Glencoe,
Dannhauser, and Newcastle, but the inconveniences were merely temporary,
and repairs were actively set on foot. Report came in that the Dutchmen
were full of activity, swarming in the direction of the famous Laing's
Nek and Majuba Hill, therefore on the afternoon of Saturday the 19th,
Lord Dundonald, with naval guns, went ahead to unearth them. They,
however, remained buried wherever they were, and the desperately-fatigued
men and horses of the Mounted Brigades returned towards Ingogo Station,
while some of the troops encamped on the battlefield. But their fatigues
or its grievous memories scarcely damped their spirits, for they were on
the confines of the Transvaal, and Pretoria, the land of promise, seemed
near at hand.

Sir Redvers Buller forthwith issued the following proclamation:--

     "The troops of Queen Victoria are now passing through the
     Transvaal. Her Majesty does not make war on individuals, but
     is, on the contrary, anxious to spare them, as far as may be
     possible, the horrors of war. The quarrel England has is with
     the Government and not with the people of the Transvaal.
     Provided they remain neutral no attempt will be made to
     interfere with persons living near the line of march, every
     possible protection will be given them, and any of their
     property that it may be necessary to take will be paid for.
     But, on the other hand, those who are thus allowed to remain
     near the line of march must respect and maintain their
     neutrality, and residents of any locality will be held
     responsible both in persons and property if any damage is done
     to the railway or telegraph, or if any violence is done to any
     member of the British forces in the vicinity of their homes."

On this, many Natal Dutch gave themselves up and others were captured,
but it was again observed that those farmers who tendered their
submission tendered with it, not Mausers, but other weapons of more
ancient pattern.

Affairs at this time were going on most satisfactorily, the troops,
after a 120-mile march, accomplished in nine days, including a day's
halt and two days' fighting, had almost cleared Natal of the invaders,
and were in possession of the country from Van Reenan's Pass to the
Buffalo River. A message of congratulation on their efforts was received
from the Queen, and the General expressed his satisfaction at the
successful work accomplished. One unfortunate affair damped the spirits
of the advancing army.


Drawing by J. Nash, R.I., from a Sketch by G. Foucar]

On the 17th, Colonel Bethune was detached, with about 500 men, from
Dundee. His column consisted of five squadrons of mounted infantry, two
Hotchkiss and two Maxim guns. His instructions were to show his force in
N'qutu, in the centre of British Zululand (to which a magistrate and
civil establishment were about to return), and afterwards to rejoin Sir
Redvers Buller at Newcastle. The orders were executed, and Colonel
Bethune moved towards Newcastle on the 20th May, _via_ Vryheid, due
north of the road which leads to Utrecht. About six miles north-west of
Vryheid, the Boers were ambushed in the thick shrub that abounds in the
neighbourhood, with the result that E squadron of Mounted Infantry,
which had pushed ahead to reach Vryheid before dark set in, suffered
severe loss. Few escaped to tell the tale, the outline of which was as
follows: The Boers no sooner saw the troopers approaching than they
jumped from their hiding-place and surrounded them. Captain Goff (6th
Dragoon Guards), who was commanding the squadron, dismounted his men and
made a valiant stand, but the Boers poured a volley on them,
incapacitating most of the horses and many of the men. The commanding
officer was shot dead. Still the party continued to reply to the fire of
the enemy till, ammunition running short, they knew resistance would
soon be unavailing. Meanwhile, the scene of confusion was horrible. The
Boers had set the crisp, dry grass into a blaze, and behind the smoke of
it were able to fire with impunity at the helpless British force. The
rest of the column had hastened towards the scene of the disaster, but
what with the crackling glare of the flamboyant grass, the suffocating
clouds of smoke, and the deceptive darkness of the gloaming, Colonel
Bethune dared not open fire at close quarters lest he should injure his
own already wounded force. Gallantly the men of D squadron dashed into
the mêlée, and rescued from thence such troopers as survived. Lieutenant
Capell, who gave his horse to an injured trooper, was taken prisoner,
and Lord De la Warr, while going to the relief of another, was slightly
injured in the leg.

He afterwards gave to a correspondent of the _Central News_ an
interesting narrative of his experiences on that eventful day. He was
acting as aide-de-camp to Colonel Bethune, and was directed to take
messages to the captains of E and D squadrons, in the thickest of the
fight. His instructions were to order them to retire, but when he came
upon the scene he found that E squadron was already practically
surrounded. He was able, however, to deliver his order to Captain Ford
of D squadron, and then set out to return to Colonel Bethune through a
heavy fire. In galloping back he saw Trooper Cooper, of Durban, lying
wounded in the grass, which was then blazing. The flames were gradually
making their way towards the wounded man, who was unable to move. A
horrible death in a few minutes was certain, unless succour could be
rendered him. Earl De la Warr instantly dismounted, crept up through the
smoke, and was in the act of rescuing the man when he was pounced upon
by about twenty Boers, who fired at him at close range. He was wounded,
though not severely, and just managed to drag himself away from the
burning grass. His horse had bolted, and he was only rescued when he had
practically given up all hope.

The following casualties among officers occurred: Killed--3rd Dragoon
Guards, Captain W. E. D. Goff; Bethune's Mounted Infantry, Lieutenant H.
W. Lanham and Lieutenant W. McLachlan. Wounded--Bethune's Mounted
Infantry, Captain Earl De la Warr and Lieutenant De Lasalle.
Missing--Bethune's Mounted Infantry, Lieutenant A. E. Capell.

The whole of the wounded were taken by the enemy, and Colonel Bethune
had no resource but to retire on N'qutu.

The Boers were falling back from Natal, and the British at this date
were in possession of Christiana, Kroonstad, Lindley, and Newcastle.
Thus, it will be seen, we were sweeping up, like an incoming tide, from
all quarters. Sir Redvers Buller now halted to concentrate his army,
collect supplies, and repair the rail, in order that his next move
should be both rapid and effective. That being the case, his programme
for the celebration of the Queen's Birthday took an unique form. The
General decided that the men should spend "a record day" in repairing
the rail. This they did with a will, as, indeed, they did all things at
the behest of their much-respected chief. Repairs on all sides were
prosecuted with ardour, the railway engineering staff working away at
bridging operations on the Ingagane River at Waschbank, till, by the
28th, the line was clear to Newcastle. To clear the right flank Generals
Hildyard and Lyttelton had been directed to Utrecht and Vryheid
respectively, and the month closed with the entry into Utrecht, the
first Transvaal town to be taken by the Natal Field Force. In the
skirmishing which occurred, Captain St. John and Lieutenant Pearse had
their horses shot under them, and Lieutenant Thompson had the misfortune
to be wounded and taken prisoner. The town, however, was not really
occupied till some weeks later.

Their part of the strategical programme accomplished, General Hildyard's
Division left for Ingogo, while that of General Lyttelton marched to
Coetze's Drift, due east of Ingogo, for the purpose of clearing the
country between Vryheid and Wakkerstroom.



While tremendous excitement was convulsing Johannesburg, Pretoria was
simmering. The populace was trekking away towards the Lydenburg
Mountains, their ox-carts rumbling incessantly along the streets, while
a stream of Dutchmen, motley of habit and of mien, moved out before the
rumour of the advancing army. They had decided that, though they might
no longer be able to resist, they could still retain the ability to
annoy! Mr. Kruger, with his Executive, amid the lamentations of his
admirers, also fled. He hurried to the Middleburg Railway, leaving
behind him a committee of citizens who were deputed to surrender the
town to the British. He fled not empty-handed. In the dead of night gold
in bars was piled recklessly into whatever vehicles could be found to
hold it, and the spoil was shipped on board the train which bore the
President from the scene of his really amazing career. With him went a
good many of the British prisoners, though many more stoutly resisted
the order for removal and showed fight. Their attitude betokened a
general uproar, the story of which may be gleaned from the accounts of
various officers who lived through days of tension which, coming atop of
a long experience of incarceration, seemed to them like some hideous
nightmare of the senses.

An officer, who had been captured by the Boers while in the hospital at
Dundee after the retreat of General Yule, described the circumstances
connected with the threatened commotion:--

"We were all at dinner, when Wood, of Standard Bank, and Hay, the
American Consul, came in with two Hollanders. Their object in coming was
to get us to send officers to the 5000 odd men out at Waterval, who were
threatening to break out. It transpired that Kruger and the Government
were 'clearing' (the report said in ambulance carts). The town was in a
state of chaos, looting and drinking, and the British were expected next
morning. The commandant--a Hollander, and not a bad chap in spite of
it--then came in and announced that the British scouts were within six
miles of Pretoria, and that he expected them in on the following
morning. He appealed to us as soldiers, and asked us not to make it
difficult for him to carry out his duty till the end. Well, we were in
such good spirits that we gave him three cheers. Then Colonel H---- got
up and called for three cheers for Wood and Hay, who have done so much
for our men at Waterval. If it had not been for these two, and for
subscriptions in the town and from us, the men would have been
absolutely neglected. For though the Boer authorities took all the
credit for what was done, they did nothing, discouraging all efforts,
and treating with suspicion any one who stirred in the matter. At one
time the hospital almost broke down for want of funds. Well, we gave
them a tremendous ovation, and then sang 'For he's a jolly good fellow'
over and over again. Then we struck up 'God save the Queen.' You never
heard it sung as it was! It had been forbidden for nearly eight months.
For the first Sunday when it was sung they took away the organ, and made
themselves objectionable in many small ways. We had only once before
sung it--on the Queen's birthday....

"About twenty-five officers went off after dinner to keep the men in
order. Waterval is about ten miles from here. If this step had not been
taken there is no saying what might have happened. The men had heard the
booming of guns all day, in the direction of Johannesburg, and it is not
to be wondered at that when the Boers tried to move them they flatly
refused to budge. There are Maxims at each corner, and the loss of life
would have been very great. But the Boers gave in. What might have
happened if the men got loose in the town, after so much privation and
such hardships, can be imagined, but the sending of officers should
alter all things."

Naturally, at this time, the officers, who were prisoners, were bursting
with excitement. On the 3rd, guns, about ten or twelve miles to south
and south-west, were heard, and on the 4th, early, shells from British
guns crashed on the ridge of hills south of the town--the first shots
being fired at a redoubt behind the Artillery Barracks in Pretoria.
Soon, to their delight, this was cleared of Boers, and subsequently two
big forts on either side of the gorge in which is the railway then
received attention. Three lyddite shells from the howitzer batteries
were placed in the western fort, and a fierce and continuous fire from
the 4.7 naval gun was concentrated on the railway station, and though
the place remained intact the moral effect of the attack was sufficient
to clear the course. Before dusk, more lyddite and shrapnel were
concentrated on the huge hill south of Pretoria, and on part of the main
ridge which had been shelled all day. The prisoners, acutely listening
in their "bird cage," fancied they heard in the distance a British
cheer, and confidently went to rest calculating on the morrow's freedom.
At 1 A.M., however, they were awakened. The commandant declared that he
had received orders from Botha, and they must at once pack and trek
outside the town--as the town was to be defended, and was therefore
unsafe. Waggons were prepared to receive the kit; and the guard, usually
numbering about forty-eight, had been more than doubled; and over one
hundred armed Boers and Hollanders were waiting to escort 125
defenceless officers.

Colonel Hunt, Royal Artillery, the senior prisoner, was consulted. It
was known that once moved, chance of release would be uncertain; and the
colonel with his brother officers decided to adopt a policy of passive
resistance. They parleyed; they argued the impossibility of removal at
so short notice. They demanded what mounts were provided. The commandant
declared they must walk. This the officers refused to do. Colonels never
walked, they said. Cavalry and field officers must be provided with
horses to ride. And again in the matter of food--how about that? Thus
arguing, the commandant was detained about an hour and a half; but still
he declared he had come to do a duty, and do it he must. The policy of
passive resistance having run to its extreme limits, the colonels
decided to place the commandant under arrest--to detain him in the
building and trust to luck. The assistant-commandant, who arrived to
"put in his oar," was promptly "bagged" also. At 2.45 A.M. more
wrangling took place. The commandant was reminded that an agreement had
been practically entered into with the Transvaal Government that the men
at Waterval should be kept quiet on condition that they were not moved,
and that the Transvaal Government could not move the prisoners without a
breach of faith. The commandant seemed impressed, and offered his word
of honour that if released he would telephone to say there could be no
removal--and countermand waggons and cancel arrangements. His word of
honour was accepted. The commandant retired from the prison, and the
officers went to bed fearing the worst.

The remainder of the story is soon told. At 9 A.M. the Duke of
Marlborough, accompanied by his irrepressible kinsman, Winston
Churchill, galloped to the prison and told the prisoners they were free.
The prisoners cheered and shouted themselves hoarse. The guard was
disarmed without a murmur, and the prisoners' servants placed to do duty
in their stead, an arrangement which afforded them much merriment and
infinite satisfaction. The whole situation was the result of a most
successful piece of bluff, and the officers were not a little gratified
with the exercise of diplomacy which had brought about delay at a most
critical moment. They had been unable, however, to prevent the
departure, on the 4th, of some 1000 prisoners, which removal was a
distinct breach of faith, considering the negotiations before alluded

An officer related his experiences on the momentous 4th and 5th of

"On Monday morning, 9 A.M., guns were heard quite close. We knew the
Boers, 15,000 strong, had taken up a position about six miles out, and
it was said they had solemnly sworn to die or win. About 10 A.M. we saw
a shell burst over the hill to the south close to one of the forts. Then
shrapnel after shrapnel was landed just over the fort and all along the
crest line, about four miles away from us. Then some larger gun placed a
lyddite close to the big fort, sending up an enormous column of red dust
and making a huge report. It was a grand sight. It went on all day, and
we sat there in deck chairs watching. We could see very few Boers about.
About 3 P.M. we saw the balloon, about fifteen miles off, I should
think. Later in the afternoon the railway was shelled near the suburbs,
and just before dark, away to the west, we saw clouds of dust and what
we took to be fleeing commandos. After such a day we all went to bed in
excellent spirits. Our long depressing wait was very near its end, and
we should now escape the terrible prospect of being moved away to the
east. About 1 A.M. we were wakened up by the commandant, who turned on
the electric light and walked along the line of beds, saying, 'Pack up,
gentlemen, you have got to start at 3 P.M. and march six miles.' 'Why?'
'I don't know why; those are my orders.' 'Which direction?' 'To the
railway, to the east.' Well, I knew what that meant at once, for I had
expected the move for the last month, and many a very depressed hour had
I spent thinking of the possibility of being carted about for six months
in the cold--no food--no news--and every chance of being shot down. I
lay in bed thinking what I should do--what we ought all to do. Some got
up at once and dressed, quite ready to move, saying they were only going
to move us out of range of the firing. But Colonel H---- luckily was not
of that opinion, and nearly every one felt what it meant. We knew
nothing for certain, but we thought our people were only six miles off.
Outside the Hollanders' guard had been trebled--about 200--and there
were about twenty armed and mounted Boers. It was soon agreed that no
one should move unless a rifle was pointed at his head. The Hollanders
are only half-hearted, and the Boers don't act without leaders. So the
commandant and sub-commandant, who were alone inside, and only armed
with revolvers, were made prisoners. They were told we refused to move;
that they would have to shoot; and that, if they did shoot, every one of
them would be hung by Bobs, who, we knew, was only seven miles off.
Well, the commandant was talked round and fairly bluffed. He undertook
not to move us, and to become a prisoner of the Boers if they insisted.
He went out and had a talk with the Boer commandant; they had words,
and the Boers galloped off to the town, calling him a ---- Hollander,
and saying they would have to get a Maxim. We had delayed the thing
anyway for a time, and the railway might be cut any time by French. It
was frightfully cold; I did not turn in again. Many went and hid in the
roof, in ditches, and all sorts of places, where they were bound to be
found. I got a bread-knife and cut a hole in the rabbit wire, which is
only a small part of the obstacle, and asked the Hollander sentry to
look the other way if I tried to get out when the commander came. But
there were so many of them that one was afraid of the other. He only
hesitated, and said he would see. We waited on till daylight and no one
came. We looked anxiously at the hills all round in hopes of seeing our
troops on the hills, but could see nothing. We waited and watched
anxiously, and thought we should have a day of suspense. About 8 A.M. on
Tuesday, 5th June, large bodies of men were visible to the west, about
seven miles off, but it was impossible to say whether they were our men
or Boers. Even if they were our men, it was possible that we should be
hustled off under their noses. About 9 A.M. two men in felt hats and
kharki and a civilian galloped up. Even till they were 100 feet off I
feared they might be Boers. Then they took off their hats and waved
them; there was a yell, and we all rushed through the gate. They were
Marlborough and Winston Churchill, and we were free!"

Some of the late prisoners rushed out of the enclosure down hill into
the town, scampering and yelling. It was so good to be free! It was so
grand to feel that the scene of their incarceration had already almost
become British soil! One climbed up the flagstaff with the Union Jack in
his mouth and fastened it at the top (the great emblem, manufactured
from a Transvaal flag, had been held in readiness for many months).
There, in the town, were British sentries over all the Government
buildings, over the house of the President--where Mrs. Kruger still
remained--and over all the banks, and in the square. But the smart
guardsman of Pall Mall was nowadays strangely transmogrified. Battered
and travel-stained in his shabby kharki and worn helmet--the latter
perhaps adorned, in lieu of plume, with tooth-brush, spoon, or other
useful article--and equipped with loaf or cook-pot, or like practical
paraphernalia not laid down in the regulations, he made a quaint, yet
inspiriting picture of martial vagabondage. But to the eyes of his
long-expecting fellow-countrymen he was none the less refreshing, almost
adorable, and in a perfect frenzy of rejoicing the prisoners laughed and
threw up their hats and waved their arms like very lunatics freed from
strait-waistcoats, or the thrall of the padded room.

The chief was not timed to arrive till two, but long before that hour
the prisoners of war were drawn up in the square to feast their eyes
with a sight for which they had hungered wearily, some of them since the
grievous autumn days when they had found themselves in Dundee hospital
at the mercy of the Boers. And sure enough the spectacle that then
followed was worth waiting a lifetime to see, and one which none who
witnessed it will ever forget.

To return, however, to Johannesburg, and to those who, during this time
of terrific suspense, were marching as fast as legs would carry them to
take possession of the Boer capital.


June had opened more than propitiously. It found Lord Roberts with the
British flag hoisted in Johannesburg, and within appreciable distance of
seizing the capital, while in the southern portion of the Free State,
rebellion was known to be nearing its conclusion. General Brabant--after
some exciting experiences at Hammonia, in which Lieutenant Langmore
(Border Horse) was severely wounded, and Lieutenants Boyes and Budler
were made prisoners--had just joined hands with General Rundle. The
former was engaged in watching the passes around the Basuto border,
while the latter, with his usual vigilance and animation, mounted guard
over the region between Ficksburg and Senekal. Here (at Senekal) General
Clements caught up the chain and made his Brigade into a connecting link
with the forces of Lord Methuen, which were at Lindley, forty miles to
the north, which latter place was within communicable distance of
Heilbron, where General Sir H. Colvile with the Highland Brigade kept
clear the passage to the north. Thus it will be seen a complete cordon
of communications was maintained, which formed a barrier to further
inroads by the Free Staters, and forced them little by little to take
their choice between surrender or flight.

At the same time a change had been wrought in the condition of affairs,
and the Orange Free State had been rechristened the Orange River Colony.


Drawing by A. Pearse, after a Photograph by the Earl of Rosslyn]

At noon, on the 28th of May, an interesting ceremony had taken place in
the Market Square at Bloemfontein and the Royal Standard had been
hoisted. General Pretyman (Military Governor), surrounded with a vast
concourse of persons, both British and Dutch, had read in an impressive
voice for the benefit of all concerned, Lord Roberts's proclamation
annexing the Orange Free State--which had been conquered by Her
Majesty's Forces--to the Queen's dominions. He had then declared that
henceforth the State would be recognised as the Orange River Colony,
after which the troops presented arms and a salute of twenty-one guns
was fired by the Naval Brigade and Royal Artillery, followed by lusty
cheers for the Queen. At the same time a very different scene had been
enacted in Pretoria. By the order of President Kruger, the day had been
observed as one of humiliation throughout the country; humiliation and
prayer for relief from oppression and preservation of the independence
of the country--the country whose independence had been wrecked entirely
by the ignorant and careless pilotage of the President himself.

In Johannesburg itself quietness soon began to reign, the people coming
in resignedly to give up arms. On the whole there seemed to prevail a
general sentiment of surprised relief at the peaceful mode of British
occupation, and a dawning hope that before long hostilities would come
to an end, and life resume its workaday habit. For the first two days of
June the chief remained encamped at Orange Grove in order that all the
troops, rested from their fatigues, might be gradually moved up so as to
surround Pretoria, north, west, and south. But meanwhile the cavalry
made a reconnaissance, and in course of the operations Lieutenants
Durrand, Sadleir, Jackson, and Pollock, 9th Lancers, were wounded. The
latter officer was missing, as was also Lieutenant the Hon. C. M.
Evans-Freke, 16th Lancers.


From Johannesburg to Pretoria the distance is about thirty miles by
road. East and west of Johannesburg for some 100 miles runs the
Witwatersrand ridge, which commands the town and offers a strong
position against any enemy advancing from the south. At Boksburg, on the
east, are various natural redoubts of rubbish heaps thrown up from the
mines, whose hideous chimneys rise clear against the cloudy atmosphere
of the swarming city. Further on comes a species of desert, dotted now
and then with a green oasis, and sliced with valleys wrinkled with
undulating ridges, and beyond that, Pretoria. The town sits, so to
speak, in the lap of hills, each hill crowned with forts, of which the
two most formidable faced south, as menace to all invaders. The natural
disposition of the surrounding heights makes it possible for a small
force to resist a strong one with comparative ease. On the north a
girdle of eminences, each a rocky and frowning fortress, renders
approach in face of the enemy well-nigh impossible. Beyond Six-Mile
Spruit, which lies some twenty-six miles from the Rand, and six from the
capital, are three more frowning ridges, natural strongholds. And these
it was necessary to assail. Both Schanzkop to west and Klapperkop to
east of the line looked gaunt and ominous, the very fire and sword of
the cherubim, and the approaches were charred black by intentional veldt
fires so as to serve as blackboards to throw up any demonstrations in
chalk-grey kharki. It was here, nevertheless, that the chief had decided
to make his entry to Pretoria, keeping the direct Johannesburg road, and
avoiding if possible the more dangerous of the fortified positions.

On the 3rd of June the great march was resumed. The army moved in three
columns--the Cavalry Division under General French on the left, General
Ian Hamilton's force in the centre, the main column, consisting of
Pole-Carew's Division and Maxwell's Brigade of Tucker's Division
(General Wavell's Brigade was left to hold Johannesburg), Gordon's
Cavalry Brigade (covering the eastern flank) and the corps troops under
the chief's direct command bearing towards the line of rail as described.
Colonel Henry, with Ross's Mounted Infantry, Compton's Horse, the Sussex
Yeomanry, the Victorian Rifles, the Colt Battery, and J Horse Battery,
formed the advance guard of the main column, while Colonel de Lisle's
6th Mounted Infantry formed the advance guard of General Ian Hamilton's

At dawn, on the 4th of June, Colonel Henry came in touch with the enemy
at Six-Mile Spruit. Report had hinted that the Boers could not decide to
offer opposition to the entry of the troops, and it was hoped that no
serious fighting was intended. But there was tough work to come. The
enemy opened fire and forced the troops to take cover for a time; but,
afterwards, holding their own, they pushed on in view of Schanzkop and
Klapperkop, the forts which yet suggested horrible possibilities. The
enemy was also ensconced in sangars on other ridges round about, and
assiduously plied their magazines. Then followed an artillery contest
between J Battery and the guns of the Dutchmen, while Ross's Mounted
Infantry, hastening to the left, secured a position from which another
battery was enabled to join in the thunderous chorus.

No sooner was it found that Colonel Henry was definitely engaged, than
General Ian Hamilton, who was somewhat west of the main army, was
ordered to combine and assist the now warming operations--and presently
his mounted troops had reinforced the advanced line, while the artillery
of the main column came vigorously into play. A big gun from Schantz
Fort sounded; a reply from the blue-jackets spat out. Lyddite burst over
the feebly demonstrating Boers and damaged them, and showed them, that
if they asked for it, there was more to come. At three, fifty guns
threatened in concert--an argument that was well-nigh conclusive.
Meanwhile up came the infantry, grandly steady in their advance. To
right went the Guards' Brigade over the blackboard prepared for them,
while Stephenson's Brigade, with Maxwell's Brigade on its left, forged
straight ahead. There were kindly boulders which presently covered them,
and allowed them to open a warning fire with rifles and Maxims. The
Boers by this knew what to expect. They knew that their hours in their
commanding kops were numbered; they knew by this time that the bayonet's
gleam might follow, and then----

They had little time to consider. General Broadwood's troopers were
making for their right flank, debouching in the distant plain on the
left, circling them round, menacing their retreat. Up the kopjes swarmed
the infantry, away towards the enemy's flank galloped the cavalry--bang
and boom and boom roared the heavy artillery, addressing the forts that
had seemed to play the cherubim to British advance. These were mute. The
projectiles battered them or passed on into the town itself whence rifle
fire burst out in fitful cascades, but resistance was no longer in the
Dutchmen.... It was now growing dusk. Colonel de Lisle's sprightly
Australians, cutting across country, were chasing Boers and guns almost
into the town, while the infantry with sunset, were occupying the
coveted positions--were handling the key of Pretoria!

But the Australians, darkness or no darkness, were on the
war-path--nothing could stop them. They captured the flying Maxim of the
flying Dutchmen, pursued them till they were within rifle fire of the
streets--the streets where scurrying and panic-stricken forms were to be
seen like ants disturbed, running hither and thither. Then Colonel de
Lisle, equal to the occasion, profited by the general dismay and the
demoralisation to send in an officer under a flag of truce to demand the
surrender of the town.

An account of this momentous episode was given by Lieutenant W. W.
Russell Watson, a Sydney officer, who was the most prominent actor in
the proceedings:--

"Colonel de Lisle came up, beaming with delight, and said, 'Now, lad,
you have done so well, are you fit to take the white flag into the city
and demand the surrender of the city in the name of Lord Roberts and the
British army?' 'Rather!' said I. So we tied a handkerchief on to a whip,
and after saying good-bye to Holmes and the others, I started for the
Landdrost of the capital with the white flag in the air alone and

"I had not gone far when I was stopped by an artilleryman, so requested
him to take me into town. He did so; but the Landdrost (chief
magistrate), the Burgomaster (mayor), the Commandant-General, were still
fighting on the hills about the city, so the Secretary of State was
found, and he conducted me to Commandant-General Botha's private
residence. He then telephoned to the Secretary for War, and they then
despatched messages to their Generals to come at once to a council of
war. First, General Botha himself came; then Generals Meyer and
Walthusein and the military governors of the city. By this time I had
been there two hours, during which time Mrs. Botha kindly gave me coffee
and sandwiches, which, as I had not had a square meal for thirty-six
hours, were most acceptable.

"Now came the discussion of the council. The General asked my mission,
and this I told him with as much dignity as I could muster. He looked me
up and down, and told me to be seated. They all spoke in Dutch, and some
of the Generals were very excited. However, after an hour's chat, they
drew up a letter, and Botha informed me that if I would conduct the
Governor of the city to Lord Roberts, terms and conditions would be
arranged. So they all shook hands with me, and said that I ought to be
pleased at meeting their greatest statesmen and Generals.

"Off I went with the Governor and General Walthusein to Colonel de
Lisle, who was waiting on the outskirts of the city for my return. The
Colonel then joined us, and away we went to Lord Roberts, who was six
miles off; so we did not arrive until 10.45 P.M. He was in bed, so just
sat up and said, 'How do you do? If General Botha wishes to discuss with
me the unconditional surrender of the town, I will meet him at Colonel
de Lisle's camp at 9 A.M. to-morrow. In the meantime, I will not fire a
shot. Good-night!'"

So unconditional surrender it was, and that at the cost of little more
than seventy killed and wounded.

The report of the chief was as follows:--

"Shortly before midnight I was awoke by the officials of the South
African Republic, Sandburg, Military Secretary to Commander-General
Botha, and a general officer of the Boer army, who brought me a letter
from Botha, proposing an armistice for the purpose of settling terms of

"I replied that I would gladly meet the Commander-General the next
morning, but that I was not prepared to discuss any terms, as the
surrender of the town must be unconditional.

"I asked for a reply by daybreak, as I had ordered the troops to march
on the town as soon as it was light.

"In his reply, Botha told me that he had decided not to defend Pretoria,
and that he trusted that the women, children, and property would be

The next morning the main army moved on towards the railway station,
while General Ian Hamilton's troops wound their way to the west of the
town. (General French, it may be noted, had made his way to the north,
and had skirmished himself into possession of an enveloping area.)
Pretoria was now in sight. But even as the troops neared the railway
station, trains--trains bearing away the surrendering Hollanders--were
seen to be steaming forth. A chase followed, but barbed wire, gardens,
houses, made pursuit impossible, and one train escaped. Others which
were still in the station, however, were arrested, but not before a
scrimmage of a bellicose kind had taken place between Major Shute, the
advance guard, and the would-be fugitives. Then followed the release of
the British prisoners and the excited rushing of the emancipated ones
through the town. Meanwhile Major Maude and his party moved along amid
the expectant populace, placing sentries at important points in the
road, to the tune of the roars and cheers from the British prisoners,
who--many of them--were almost wild with enthusiasm. After having
secured the government buildings, the officers of the Staff attached to
the Guards' Brigade paid their respects to Mrs. Kruger, who, attired in
black silk and a white cap, received them with her usual Dutch calm, in
the cottage where the old statesman was wont to live in almost
peasant-like simplicity. Here, not many days ago, the most interesting,
if not the most admired, figure of latter-day history had smoked the
cavernous pipe which was his invariable companion. Here, not many days
ago, sitting in the shady verandah and guarded by two policemen, and the
white marble lions given him by Mr. Barnato, he had plotted and schemed
behind the impenetrable mask that served him for a face. Now he was
gone; and the great marble lions, massive and obdurate as ever, had
become as the emblems of British majesty. The commanding officer
informed the wife of the late President that the burghers guarding the
Presidency would now be replaced by British soldiers, whereupon the
Dutch guard placed pistols and ammunition on the pavement by the side of
the marble monsters; and their occupation, now and henceforth, was

At two o'clock, on the 5th of June, came the grand finale. Lord Roberts,
Lord Kitchener, the Staff, and foreign attachés, numbering nearly 300,
formed up in the main square in the centre of the magnificent official
buildings, and there, once more, was hoisted the British flag amid the
cheers--sincere and insincere--of the populace. Then followed the great
spectacle--a pageant wherein was asserted the majesty of Great
Britain--in the form of an unending host of muscular and disciplined
heroes. The roll of drums, the flow of kharki, the clank and clang of
armed men, began and continued for hours and hours, while the amazed
inhabitants, arrayed in their bucolic best, wide-mouthed, wide-eyed,
stood watching the vast procession, the like of which the little town
had never before beheld.

Particularly remarkable among the vast cortège of seasoned warriors were
the patriotic C.I.V.'s, whose soldierly bearing drew forth eulogies from
the chief himself. All were agreed that they were the finest body of men
that had ever been seen, and every one declared that their actions had
been as excellent as their appearance.

A not less attractive feature of the great day was the march past of the
Naval Brigade, its smart amphibians, its jolly blue-jackets so square
and brawny and brave, and its big guns on improved gun-carriages, all of
which had done such good work from beginning to end. The roar that
greeted them as they swung along the streets of the conquered town was a
sound to echo in the memory for many a year to come.

       *       *       *       *       *

At such an imposing spectacle in so primitive an arena our enemies--real
or subsidised--of course, took the opportunity to scoff. True, the
ceremonial was scarcely as impressive as might have been the occupation
of some less primitive capital; but its significance was twofold, and
had ramifications far beneath the surface. The importance of the event
to the British nation, and indeed to the whole European audience of
critics, could not be overestimated. For, not a spectacle, but a symbol
was intended. Great Britain came, not to conquer new territories, nor to
acquire new power. She came to assert herself, and maintain her prestige
in the face of the whole world, and meant, by the occupation of
Pretoria, to mark the new epoch, drawing a line between the old era of
maladministration, chicanery, and despotism, and a fresh one of law and
order, and equal rights for white men. The great object of the war,
therefore, had been achieved.

In October 1899, the Government of the South African Republic had sent
an ultimatum to the Government of the British Empire. To this there
could be but one answer, and that answer was given. Lord Roberts, in the
month of March 1900, seized the capital of the Orange Free State, and in
June took possession of the capital of the Transvaal, and from that time
the two South African Republics virtually ceased to exist. Within
appreciable distance we now saw before us a vast British Empire
stretching from the Cape to the Zambesi, and a huge population--a mixed
population consisting of a majority of Kaffirs and a minority of Dutch
and English-speaking Europeans--cemented together by the most just and
fair of all laws--British law. If the principles that guide this law had
been followed by the two extinct Republics, which had owed their very
existence to British toleration and British magnanimity, they would have
continued to live and to prosper, and to develop in harmony with their
own interests and those of the Mother Power which, so to speak, had
afforded them the protection to promote their own growth. But, having
grown, having battened on the advantages of their position in relation
to the British, they became inflated with the idea of their own
importance, and denied to the English-speaking settlers in the Transvaal
that liberality of treatment which was extended to their own countrymen
in the British colonies. The arrogance of this denial, and the success
in maintaining it for many years, gave birth to more arrogance still.
The British at last were not only to be trodden down, but were to be
driven into the sea!

That Mr. Kruger should have so far lost his sound common sense as to
dream of an ascendency of the Dutch in South Africa, was due partly to
the misleading representations of needy foreigners and _chevaliers
d'industrie_, who endeavoured to convert the President into a figurehead
for their own piratical cruiser, and also to the folly of certain
self-seeking British politicians, who tried to persuade the shrewd
Dutchman into a belief in Boer arms and Boer diplomacy, and actually
deceived him with the notion that their sympathetic bleats represented
the trumpet voice of the British nation! It became necessary to teach
him his mistake, and the lesson was taught. Thus it came to pass that,
at the end of a long and really remarkable career, the despot was
fleeing as fast as steam would carry him from the scene of his life's
labours, while Lord Roberts, crowned with years and honour, reigned in
his stead!


After a Photograph by the Earl of Rosslyn]



The following rearrangement of divisional and brigade commands in South
Africa took place during the month of April:--


Lieutenant-General J. D. P. French commanding.

     1st Brigade (Cape)--Colonel (Brigadier-General) T. C. Porter, 6th
                 Dragoon Guards.
     1st Brigade (Natal)--Lieutenant-Colonel (Brigadier-General) J. F.
                 Burn-Murdoch, 1st Dragoons.
     2nd Brigade (Cape)--Colonel (Brigadier-General) R. G. Broadwood,
                 12th Lancers.
     2nd Brigade (Natal)--Colonel (Major-General) J. F. Brocklehurst.
     3rd Brigade (Cape)--Colonel (Brigadier-General) J. R. P. Gordon,
                 17th Lancers.
     3rd Brigade (Natal)--Colonel (Major-General) Lord Dundonald.
     4th Brigade (Cape)--Colonel (Major-General) J. B. B. Dickson, C.B.


Colonel (Major-General) I. S. M. Hamilton, C.B., commanding.

     1st Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) E. T. H. Hutton, C.B.
     2nd Brigade--Colonel (Brigadier-General) C. P. Ridley.


Lieutenant-General Lord Methuen commanding.

     1st Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) C. W. H. Douglas.
     20th Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) A. H. Paget, Scots Guards.


Lieutenant-General Sir F. Clery commanding.

     2nd Brigade--Major-General H. J. T. Hildyard, C.B.
     4th Brigade--Colonel (Brigadier-General) C. D. Cooper, Royal Dublin


Major-General Sir Herbert Chermside, commanding.

     22nd Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) R. E. Allen.
     23rd Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) W. G. Knox, C.B.


Lieutenant-General Hon. N. G. Lyttelton, C.B., commanding.

     7th Brigade--Colonel (Brigadier-General) W. F. Kitchener, West
                 Yorkshire Regiment.
     8th Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) F. Howard, C.B., C.M.G.


Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren commanding.

     10th Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) J. T. Coke.
     11th Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) A. S. Wynne, C.B.


Lieutenant-General T. Kelly-Kenny, C.B., commanding.

     12th Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) R. A. P. Clements.
     13th Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) A. G. Wavell.


Lieutenant-General C. Tucker, C.B., commanding.

     14th Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) J. G. Maxwell.
     15th Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) C. E. Knox.


Lieutenant-General Sir Leslie Rundle commanding.

     16th Brigade--Major-General B. B. D. Campbell.
     17th Brigade--Major-General J. E. Boyes.


Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Colvile commanding.

     3rd (Highland) Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) H. A. MacDonald,
     19th Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) H. L. Smith-Dorrien, Sherwood


Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Hunter commanding.

     5th Brigade--Major-General A. F. Hart, C.B.
     6th Brigade--Major-General G. Barton, C.B.


Lieutenant-General R. Pole-Carew, C.B., commanding.

     Guards Brigade--Colonel (Major-General) I. R. Jones, Scots Guards.
     18th Brigade--Colonel (Brigadier-General) T. E. Stephenson, Essex


The following is a list of the officers who died in South Africa between
January and June:--

     JANUARY 1900

     =4.=--In action at Colesberg: Major C. Bateson Harvey,
     Lieutenant A. V. West.

     =5.=--Disease: Major C. P. Walker, Lieutenant C. P. Russell,
     Lieutenant C. S. Platt.

     =6.=--In action at Rensburg: Lieutenant-Colonel A. J. Watson,
     Lieutenant F. A. P. Wilkins, Lieutenant S. J. Carey, Lieutenant
     C. A. White. Action at Ladysmith: Lieutenant-Colonel
     Dick-Cunyngham, V.C., Major Miller-Wallnutt, Major R. S. Bowen,
     Major F. Mackworth, Captain W. B. Lafone, Lieutenant C. E. M.
     Walker, Lieutenant L. D. Hall, Lieutenant R. J. T. Digby-Jones,
     Lieutenant H. N. Field, Lieutenant W. F. Adams, Lieutenant J.
     E. Pakeman, Lieutenant Noel M. Tod, Second Lieutenant W. H. T.
     Hill, Second Lieutenant F. H. Raikes, Second Lieutenant G. B.
     B. Denniss. Wounds received at Colesberg: Captain A. W. Brown.

     =11.=--Wounds received at Ladysmith: Captain the Earl of Ava.

     =13.=--Fever: Lieutenant W. Dixon Smith.

     =15.=--Fever at Pietermaritzburg: Lieutenant E. Stabb, R.N.R.

     =16.=--Dysentery at Pietermaritzburg: Major F. F. Crawford.

     =19.=--Fever at Mooi River: Second Lieutenant D. B. Gore-Booth.

     =20.=--Wounds received at Venters Spruit: Captain C. A.
     Hensley. Action at Potgieters: Major C. B. Childe.

     =21.=--In action at Potgieters: Captain C. Ryall. Wounds:
     Captain A. D. Raitt. In action: Lieutenant-Colonel
     Buchanan-Riddell, Capt. F. Murray, Captain C. Walters,
     Lieutenant R. Grant, Lieutenant J. W. Osborne, Second
     Lieutenant H. G. French-Brewster.

     =23.=--In action at Chieveley: Captain H. W. de Rougemont.

     =24.=--Fever at De Aar: Captain C. G. Mackenzie. In action at
     Spion Kop: Major H. H. Massy, Major A. J. J. Ross, Captain N.
     H. Vertue, Captain G. M. Stewart, Captain C. L. Muriel, Captain
     M. W. Kirk, Captain C. G. F. G. Birch, Captain the Hon. J. H.
     L. Petre, Captain C. S. Knox-Gore, Captain C. H. Hicks,
     Lieutenant J. J. R. Mallock, Lieutenant E. Fraser, Lieutenant
     A. P. C. H. Wade, Lieutenant H. F. Pipe-Wolferstan, Lieutenant
     F. M. Raphael, Lieutenant H. W. Garvey, Lieutenant C. G.
     Grenfell, Lieutenant P. F. Newnham, Lieutenant T. F.
     Flower-Ellis, Lieutenant H. S. M'Corquodale, Lieutenant V. H.
     A. Awdry, Lieutenant the Hon. N. W. Hill-Trevor, Lieutenant A.
     Rudall, Lieutenant K. Shand, Lieutenant F. A. Galbraith, Second
     Lieutenant W. G. H. Lawley, Second Lieutenant H. A. C. Wilson.
     Wounds received at Spion Kop: Major S. P. Strong.

     =28.=--Fever at De Aar: Captain W. A. Hebden.

     =29.=--Wounds received at Ladysmith: Lieutenant W. R. P.

     FEBRUARY 1900

     =1.=--Wounds received at Venters Spruit: Captain D. Maclachlan.

     =2.=--Disease at Ladysmith: Second Lieutenant F. O. Barker.

     =4.=--Disease at Ladysmith: Captain K. L. Tupman

     =6.=--In action at Potgieters Drift: Major T. R. Johnson-Smyth,
     Second Lieutenant C. D. Shafto.

     =6.=--Sunstroke at Wynberg: Captain E. Dillon. In action at
     Koodoesberg: Captain H. M. Blair.

     =8.=--Wounds received at Koodoesberg: Captain C. Eykyn,
     Lieutenant F. G. Tait.

     =10.=--In action: Lieutenant Buchanan, Lieutenant Carstens.

     =11.=--Fever at De Aar: Lieutenant R. W. Bell. In action at
     Rensburg: Major G. R. Eddy.

     =12.=--In action at Rensburg: Major A. K. Stubbs, Lieutenant J.
     Powell. Wounds received at Rensburg: Lieutenant-Colonel C.
     Cunningham, Lieutenant J. C. Roberts. Wounds received at
     Dekiels Drift: Captain H. G. Majendie.

     =13.=--Wounds received at Rensburg: Lieutenant-Colonel H. A.
     Eager. In action at Gaberones: Captain J. G. French. In action
     at Waterval Drift: Second Lieutenant H. W. Ritchie. Wounds
     received at Ladysmith: Major D. E. Doveton. Disease: Captain H.
     W. Foster. Fever at Pretoria: Lieutenant C. A. P. Tarbutt.

     =14.=--Wounds received at Mafeking: Captain R. H. Girdwood.

     =15.=--In action at Waterval: Lieutenant C. P. M. C. Halkett.
     Wounds received at Rensburg: Major F. R. Macmullen.

     =16.=--Wounds received at Kimberley: Second Lieutenant Hon. W.
     M'Clintock-Bunbury. Action at Monte Christo: Captain T. H.
     Berney. Action at Bird's River: Captain E. C. H. Crallan,
     Lieutenant Chandler. Action near Kimberley: Lieutenant A. E.
     Hesketh, Lieutenant E. G. Carbutt, Second Lieutenant P. F.

     =17.=--Fever at Ladysmith: Second Lieutenant W. A. Orlebar.

     =18.=--Fever at Sterkstroom: Captain T. S. C. W. Broadley. In
     action at Paardeberg: Lieutenant-Colonel W. Aldworth, Captain
     E. P. Wardlaw, Captain B. A. Newbury, Captain A. M. A. Lennox,
     Lieutenant J. C. Angell, Lieutenant G. E. Courtenay, Lieutenant
     H. G. Selous, Lieutenant F. J. Siordet, Lieutenant A. R.
     Bright, Colonel O. C. Hannay, Lieutenant E. Perceval,
     Lieutenant H. M. A. Hankey, Second Lieutenant R. H. M'Clure,
     Second Lieutenant A. C. Nieve, Second Lieutenant V. A.

     =19.=--Dysentery at Wynberg: Captain R. A. E. Benson. In action
     at Hlangwane Hill: Captain W. L. Thorburn.

     =20.=--Wounds received at Paardeberg: Major C. R. Day, Captain
     E. J. Dewar, Lieutenant J. C. Hylton-Jolliffe, Second
     Lieutenant D. B. Monypenny, Captain Waldy. Wounds received at
     Rondebosch: Captain C. H. Thomas. In action at the Tugela
     River: Captain S. L. V. Crealock, Lieutenant V. F. A.
     Keith-Falconer, Second Lieutenant J. C. Parr. Fever at
     Ladysmith: Lieutenant G. W. G. Jones.

     =21.=--Wounds received near Ladysmith: Captain R. E. Holt.
     Dysentery at Kimberley: Lieutenant Grant.

     =22.=--In action at Arundel: Captain A. F. Wallis. In action at
     Pieters Drift: Lieutenant R. H. C. Coë. In action at Ladysmith:
     Lieutenant R. W. Pearson, Lieutenant the Hon. R. Cathcart, and
     Second Lieutenant N. J. Parker.

     =23.=--Dysentery at Wynberg: Major C. H. Blount. Fever at
     Ladysmith: Captain G. S. Walker. Wounds: Captain H. M. Arnold.
     Wounds received at Groblers Kloof: Lieutenant F. C. D.
     Davidson. In action at Railway Hill: Lieutenant-Colonel C. C.
     H. Thorold and Lieutenant-Colonel T. M. G. Thackeray. In action
     at Pieters Hill: Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel C. G. H. Sitwell. In
     action at Railway Hill: Major F. A. Sanders and Lieutenant W.
     O. Stuart. In action at Colenso: Captain S. C. Maitland. In
     action near Ladysmith: Lieutenant B. H. Hastie and Lieutenant
     C. H. Hinton.

     =24.=--In action at Stormberg: Lieutenant-Colonel F. H. Hoskier
     and Captain the Hon. R. H. J. L. de Montmorency. Fever at
     Sterkstroom: Captain A. T. England. In action near Ladysmith:
     Lieutenant F. A. Stebbing.

     =25.=--Fever at Modder River: Midshipman S. Robertson. Wounds
     received at Spion Kop: Lieutenant H. V. Lockwood.

     =26.=--Wounds received at Ladysmith: Major E. W. Yeatherd.

     =27.=--In action at Pieters Hill: Lieutenant-Colonel W. M.
     O'Leary, Major V. Lewis, Captain H. S. Sykes, Lieutenant H. L.
     Mourilyan, Lieutenant H. B. Onraët, Second Lieutenant F. J. T.
     U. Simpson, and Second Lieutenant C. J. Daly.

     MARCH 1900

     =3.=--Blood-poisoning at Modder River: Captain R. Price.

     =5.=--Fever at Naauwpoort: Lieutenant J. W. C. Walding.

     =7.=--In action at Poplars Drift: Lieutenant D. J. Keswick.
     Wounds received near Ladysmith: Lieutenant E. A. P. Vaughan.

     =8.=--Fever at Ladysmith: Lieutenant R. E. Meyricke. Fever at
     Modder River: Lieutenant S. D. Barrow.

     =9.=--Fever at Ladysmith: Captain A. W. Curtis and Lieutenant
     C. Arkwright.

     =10.=--In action at Driefontein: Captain A. R. Eustace, Captain
     D. A. N. Lomax, Lieutenant F. N. Parsons, V.C., and Second
     Lieutenant A. B. Coddington. Fever at Wynberg: Captain E. E. D.

     =11.=--Wounds: Lieutenant-Colonel C. E. E. Umphelby.

     =12.=--Fever at Wynberg: Dr. W. C. Grigg. Wounds received at
     Driefontein: Lieutenant C. F. L. Wimberley. Fever on transport
     _Sumatra_: Lieutenant T. D. Whittington.

     =13.=--Drowned at Norvals Pont: Second Lieutenant F. N. Dent.

     =16.=--Fever at Pietermaritzburg: Major H. E. Buchanan-Riddell.
     Fever at Naauwpoort: Captain R. W. Salmon. Fever at Ladysmith:
     Lieutenant R. H. Kinnear.

     =17.=--Fever at Ladysmith: Major J. Minniece.

     =19.=--Dysentery at Ladysmith: Captain W. L. P. Gibton.

     =20.=--Fever at Mooi River: Lieutenant A. W. Hall.

     =22.=--Fever at Kimberley: Major H. J. Massy.

     =23.=--Wounds received at Spion Kop: Major-General Sir E. R. P.
     Woodgate. In action near Bloemfontein: Lieutenant Hon. E. H.

     =26.=--Fever on her Majesty's ship _Powerful_: Fleet-Paymaster
     W. H. F. Kay.

     =27.=--Fever at Naauwpoort: Captain F. W. Hopkins.

     =28.=--In action at Norvals Pont: Colonel the Hon. G. Gough.

     =29.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Captain C. M. Kemble. Wounds
     received at Karee Siding: Lieutenant E. M. Young.

     =30.=--In action at Brandfort: Captain A. C. Going. Fever at
     Ladysmith: Lieutenant B. T. Rose. In action at Lobatsi: Captain
     A. J. Tyler.

     =31.=--In action near Bloemfontein: Major A. W. C. Booth and
     Lieutenant P. H. S. Crowle. In action at Sanna's Post:
     Lieutenant G. H. Irvine. Wounds: Lieutenant P. C. Grover.
     Wounds received at Ramathlabama: Captain F. Crewe. In action at
     Ramathlabama: Lieutenant F. Milligan. Meningitis: Lieutenant

     APRIL 1900

     =2.=--Wounds at Pietermaritzburg: Lieutenant C. B. du Buisson.

     =3.=--In action at Reddersburg: Captain F. G. Casson and Second
     Lieutenant C. R. Barclay. Wounds received at Karee: Captain W.
     M. Marter. Fever at Ladysmith: Lieutenant G. E. S. Salt.

     =4.=--Wounds received near Bloemfontein: Lieutenant F.
     Russell-Brown. Wounds received at Reddersburg: Captain W. P.

     =5.=--In action at Rietfontein: Captain C. Boyle and Lieutenant
     A. C. Williams.

     =9.=--In action at Wepener: Major C. F. Sprenger.

     =10.=--Fever at Mooi River: Lieutenant G. H. Morley. In action
     at Wepener: Lieutenant H. F. B. Taplin and Lieutenant A. H.

     =15.=--Fever at sea on his way home: Lieutenant T. B. Ely.
     Fever at Ladysmith: Second Lieutenant S. H. Hutton. Fever at
     Pietermaritzburg: Second Lieutenant E. O. N. O. Leggett.

     =16.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Captain R. Peel, Captain B. C. C.
     S. Meeking, and Lieutenant C. O. Bache.

     =18.=--Dysentery at Ladysmith: Captain S. Laurence. Disease at
     Kimberley: Captain E. M. Litkie.

     =21.=--Dysentery at Pretoria: Assistant-Surgeon Jackson. Fever
     at Gaberones: Lieutenant Wallis. Fever at Bloemfontein:
     Lieutenant H. W. Prickard.

     =23.=--Dysentery at Naauwpoort: Second Lieutenant R. J.

     =24.=--Wounds at Karreefontein: Captain F. L. Prothero.

     =25.=--In action at Dewetsdorp: Captain P. R. Denny. In action
     at Israel's Poort: Captain H. Gethin. Wounds received at
     Sanna's Post: Lieutenant J. D. Murch.

     =26.=--Fever at Queenstown: Captain C. Biddulph. Wounds at
     Eirstelaagte: Captain G. P. Brasier-Creagh.

     =27.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Major H. T. Hawley. In action at
     Thabanchu: Lieutenant F. S. Geary. Peritonitis at Bloemfontein:
     Captain A. B. Bennett.

     =28.=--Wounds at Bloemfontein: Captain H. F. W. Stanley. Fever
     at Kimberley: Midshipman L. G. E. Lloyd.

     =30.=--In action at Thabanchu: Major E. C. Showers, Lieutenant
     J. H. Parker, and Lieutenant Munro.

     MAY 1900

     =1.=--Pneumonia on board the _Dilwara_: Lieutenant C. Martin.

     =2.=--Fever at Aliwal North: Lieutenant J. T. Dennis.
     Tuberculosis at Port Elizabeth: Lieutenant Holt.

     =4.=--In action at Welkom: Captain C. E. Rose.

     =5.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Captain H. E. Dowse.

     =6.=--Wounds at Callerberg: Captain Lovett. Wounds at
     Thabanchu: Captain E. G. Verschoyle. Wounds at Winburg:
     Lieutenant P. Cameron.

     =7.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Captain R. Fawssett and Lieutenant
     E. H. St. L. Chamier.

     =8.=--Dysentery at Estcourt: Lieutenant S. Oglesby. Dysentery
     at Modder Spruit: Captain Warren.

     =9.=--Wounds received at Warrenton: Major H. S. le M. Guille.
     Fever at Deelfontein: Lieutenant B. Cumming.

     =10.=--Dysentery at Bloemfontein: Chaplain the Rev. C. F.
     O'Reilly. Pneumonia in Bloemfontein: Captain T. W. Milward.
     Wounds received at Zand River: Captain L. Head and Captain C.
     K. Elworthy.

     =11.=--Fever at Naauwpoort: Second Lieutenant A. C. FitzG.

     =12.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Captain H. S. Prickard.

     =13.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Lieutenant H. P. Rogers.

     =14.=--Disease at Capetown: Captain D. G. Seagrim.

     =16.=--Fever at Naauwpoort: Lieutenant G. B. Guthrie. Disease
     at Naauwpoort: Lieutenant A. Lascelles. In action near
     Mafeking: Lieutenant Wilfred. In action at Mafeking: Lieutenant
     E. Harland.

     =18.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Lieutenant G. G. Moir and
     Midshipman J. Menzies.

     =20.=--In action near Vryheid: Captain W. E. D. Goff,
     Lieutenant H. W. Lanham, and Lieutenant W. M'Lachlan. Fever at
     Bloemfontein: Lieutenant E. W. M. Noel.

     =21.=--Died at Gaberones: Lieutenant H. Wallis. Fever at
     Bloemfontein: Captain G. C. Fordyce-Buchan.

     =22.=--Fever at Deelfontein: Major P. Marsh. Fever at
     Kroonstad: Lieutenant the Hon. J. D. Hamilton. Fever at
     Springfontein: Lieutenant F. G. Peel.

     =23.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Major H. M. Browne. Fever at
     Boshof: Lieutenant E. L. Munn.

     =24.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Second Lieutenant Fletcher.

     =25.=--In action at Senekal: Major H. S. Dalbiac. Fever at
     Wynberg: Captain N. G. H. Turner. Fever at Bloemfontein:
     Captain L. Livingstone-Learmonth. Fever at Mooi River: Major
     Cooper. Fever at Boshof: Second Lieutenant W. H. Amedroz.

     =26.=--Fever at Kroonstad: Major A. S. Ralli and Captain W. H.
     Trow. Fever at Bloemfontein: Lieutenant R. S. Bree and
     Lieutenant J. D. Dalrymple-Hay.

     =27.=--Pneumonia at Wynberg: Captain R. N. Fane.

     =28.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Lieutenant P. C. Shaw. Fever at
     Pietermaritzburg: Lieutenant A. Wylde-Brown. In action at
     Kheis: Major J. A. Orr-Ewing. In action at Kwisa: Lieutenant C.

     =29.=--In action at Fabers Spruit: Colonel W. A. Spence. In
     action near Kroonstad: Captain C. S. Keith. Wounds received at
     Kheis: Lieutenant G. H. Matthews and Captain A. H. U. Tindall.
     Wounds received at Senekal: Second Lieutenant A. H. Murray.

     =30.=--In action near Johannesburg: Captain St. J. Meyrick and
     Lieutenant H. W. Fife. Dysentery at Pinetown Bridge: Captain J.
     W. J. Hardman.

     =31.=--Wounds received at Elandslaagte: Lieutenant C. G. Danks.

     JUNE 1900

     =1.=--Fever at Kroonstad: Captain S. Robertson. Fever at
     Florida: Lieutenant G. F. Nethercole. Wounds at Lindley:
     Lieutenant Sir J. E. C. Power, Bart. Dysentery at Bloemfontein:
     Second Lieutenant F. S. Firth.

     =2.=--Fever at Bloemfontein: Lieutenant L. O. F. Mellish and
     Lieutenant C. H. B. Adams-Wylie. Wounds at Bappisfontein:
     Lieutenant J. F. Pollock. At sea on board the _Dilwara_:
     Lieutenant R. J. Jelf.

     =4.=--Fever at Kroonstad: Lieutenant C. E. Eaton.

     =5.=--Fever at Kimberley: Captain E. G. Young. In action at
     Schippens Farm: Lieutenant R. L. C. Hobson.


Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO. Edinburgh & London


  Page v: Re-arrangement standardised to rearrangement
  Pages vi, 8: Koornspruit all one word in original. Left as is, as the
      title of a picture
  Page vi: Blomfontein standardised to Bloemfontein
  Page 2: Llanddrost corrected to Landdrost
  Page 4: Variable hyphenation of sky(-)line as in the original
  Pages 16, 128: Variable hyphenation of dare(-)devilry as in the
  Page 19: Variable spelling of Hock (in Mosterts Hock) as in original
  Page 31: musquitoes as in the original
  Pages 36, 176: Variable spelling of Van Reenan's Pass/Van Reenen's
      Pass as in the original
  Page 44: Variable hyphenation of out-spanned as in the original
  Page 45: Fusileers standardised to Fusiliers
  Page 46: beleagured as in the original text
  Page 54: strategetical as in the original
  Page 55: skurry as in the original
  Page 59: caldron as in the original
  Page 70: Sqadrons corrected to Squadrons
  Page 74: Variable presence of acute accent on échelon as in the
  Page 75: screeened corrected to screened
  Page 99: ariving corrected to arriving
  Page 100: franctically corrected to frantically
  Page 102: 7 P.M. as in the original. Should perhaps be A.M.
  Page 108: strategetic as in the original
  Page 109: Buluwayo corrected to Bulawayo
  Page 119: Barkly as in the original
  Pages 121, 148, 158: Variable spelling of Roodepoort/Roodepoorte/
      Roodeport as in the original
  Page 133: "and did about other six" as in the original
  Page 149: Johannesberg corrected to Johannesburg
  Page 155: Landrost standardised to Landdrost
  Page 157: Variable spelling of horse(-)shoe as in the original
  Page 164: fusilade corrected to fusillade
  Page 169: Variable circumflex accent on depôt as in the original
  Page 172: Nordenfelts corrected to Nordenfeldts
  Page 176: Variable hyphenation of battle(-)field as in the original
  Page 180: duplicate "had" removed from "If this step had had not been
  Page 191: Zambesi as in the original
  Page 192: ascendency as in the original text
  General: Variable spelling of khaki/kharki as in the original text
  General: Variable spelling of Valshe/Valsch/Valsche as in the original
  General: Variable hyphenation of head(-)quarters as in the original
  General: Variable hyphenation of mid(-)day as in the original text
  General: Variable hyphenation of rear(-)guard as in the original text
  General: Variable circumflex accent on viâ as in the original text

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. V (of VI) - From the Disaster at Koorn Spruit to Lord Roberts's entry into Pretoria" ***

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