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Title: General Gatacre - The Story of the Life and Services of Sir William Forbes - Gatacre, K.C.B., D.S.O., 1843-1906
Author: Gatacre, Beatrix
Language: English
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[Illustration: Cover]



[Frontispiece: Major-General Sir William Gatacre, K.C.B., D.S.O.]



  GENERAL GATACRE

  THE STORY OF THE LIFE AND SERVICES OF
  SIR WILLIAM FORBES GATACRE, K.C.B., D.S.O.
  1843-1906


  BY BEATRIX GATACRE



  WITH PORTRAITS, MAPS, AND ILLUSTRATIONS



  What I aspired to be
  And was not, comforts me.
                  R. B.



LONDON JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.  1910



  PRINTED BY
  HAZELL, WATSON AND VINEY, LD.,
  LONDON AND AYLESBURY.



  THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO
  TWO FRIENDS
  WITHOUT WHOSE SYMPATHY AND ASSISTANCE
  IT WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN WRITTEN



{vii}

  Assured of worthiness, we do not dread
  Competitors; we rather give them hail
  And greeting in the lists where we may fail:
  Must, if we bear an aim beyond the head!
  My betters are my masters; purely fed
  By their sustainment I likewise shall scale
  Some rocky steps between the mount and vale;
  Meanwhile the mark I have, and I will wed.
  So that I draw the breath of finer air,
  Station is naught, nor footways laurel-strewn,
  Nor rivals tightly belted for the race.
  God-speed to them!  My place is here or there;
  My pride is that among them I have place:
  And thus I keep the instrument in tune.

  GEORGE MEREDITH.



{ix}

PREFACE

The main object in laying this book before the public is to provide an
authentic narrative of Sir William Gatacre's work in South Africa.  At
the time of his recall no despatch giving the reason for this step was
published, but a letter dealing with this matter has since appeared as
an Appendix in the _Official History_ of the war; it is with reluctance
that I have been persuaded to reprint this letter at the end of this
volume.  It seemed, however, that Sir William's previous career was
such a large factor in determining any opinion regarding his later work
that some account of the man and his surroundings from the beginning
would not be without interest.

In preparing the first half of this story I have been entirely
dependent on the recollections of others, and have studiously avoided
any attempt to eke out the material with an imaginary amplification; in
the latter half my own personal knowledge of himself and his affairs
has enabled {x} me to seek my information from numerous sources, and to
draw the portrait in richer colours on a more suggestive background.

I wish to acknowledge in full the loyal assistance afforded me by my
husband's friends.  In every case I have received the most cordial
response and co-operation.  I am sincerely grateful both to those who
have asked me to refrain from naming them and to those who have given
me the support of their names.  Through the courtesy of these officers
and others, I am able to say that every word has been read by one who
has personal knowledge of the incidents recorded.  In this way I trust
that this narrative will have acquired an unimpeachable accuracy.

I am also deeply indebted to the _Official History of the War in South
Africa_.  Indeed, before the publication of this authoritative
statement my task would have been impossible.

To the facts therein recorded I have added extracts from officers'
reports, and from Sir William's own letters, and also the words of
certain important telegrams which I had found amongst his papers, and
for the reproduction of which official permission has been graciously
accorded.

{xi}

I beg the indulgence of the reader for faults of literary inexperience,
and trust that he will recognise my honest endeavour to handle the
facts fairly and dispassionately.

BEATRIX GATACRE.

_April_ 8, 1910.



{xiii}

CONTENTS


CHAPTER I

GATACRE . . . 1


CHAPTER II

TO INDIA AND BACK . . . 13


CHAPTER III

RANGOON . . . 38


CHAPTER IV

SECUNDERABAD . . . 52


CHAPTER V

BLACK MOUNTAIN EXPEDITION . . . 63


CHAPTER VI

MANDALAY . . . 82


CHAPTER VII

POONA . . . 98


CHAPTER VIII

BOMBAY . . . 110


CHAPTER IX

CHITBAL . . . 127


{xiv}

CHAPTER X

QUETTA . . . 145


CHAPTER XI

THE PLAGUE . . . 161


CHAPTER XII

FROM ALDERSHOT TO BERBER . . . 184


CHAPTER XIII

ATBARA AND OMDURMAN . . . 198


CHAPTER XIV

COLCHESTER . . . 214


CHAPTER XV

CAPE COLONY . . . 221


CHAPTER XVI

ORANGE FREE STATE . . . 239


CHAPTER XVII

BACK TO COLCHESTER . . . 261


CHAPTER XVIII

ABYSSINIA . . . 273


DESPATCH, APRIL 16, 1900 . . . 286

INDEX . . . 289



{xv}

ILLUSTRATIONS


MAJOR-GENERAL SIR WILLIAM GATACRE, K.C.B., D.S.O.
  (_Photogravure_) . . . _Frontispiece_


COLONEL W. F. GATACRE, D.S.O., 1888 . . . 74

KACHIN BRIDGE, OVER WHICH 500 MEN CROSSED IN ONE DAY . . . 90

GOORKHAS CROSSING THE LOWARI PASS . . . 134

ON THE ROAD TO CHITRAL . . . 138

GENERAL GATACRE AND HIS FAVOURITE PONY . . . 142

BELUCHI MURDERERS . . . 158

HINDU BURNING-GHAT . . . 162

HOUSE-TO-HOUSE VISITATION . . . 172

INVASION OF CAPE COLONY: THE BOERS MARCHING SOUTH OVER
  THE ORANGE RIVER AT ALIWAL NORTH . . . 224


MAPS

_At the end_


MAP I. INDIA [Transcriber's note: this map was omitted, being too large
to scan.]

MAP II. EGYPT AND THE SOUDAN

MAP III. EASTERN CAPE COLONY AND PART OF THE ORANGE FREE STATE

MAP IV. ABYSSINIA



{1}

GENERAL GATACRE

1843-1906



CHAPTER I

1843-1862

GATACRE

According to a venerable Shropshire antiquarian, that county "has ever
been inhabited by a race of men characteristic for uniformity of
principle and energy of action."[1]  Mr. Eyton goes on to tell of
various places mentioned in the Domesday Book, and among these of the
Manor of Claverley, which included a very large tract of country, and
is described as an "ancient demesne of the Crown."  The Manor of
Claverley was broken up into various townships, to three of which he
accords special notice, "in regard that the King's Tenants thereof were
of a rank superior to that of the average class of Freeholders in Royal
Manors.  These Townships were Broughton, Beobridge, and Gatacre."[2]


[1] _Antiquities of Shropshire_, by R. W. Eyton, 1854, preface.

[2] _Ibid._, vol. iii. p. 77.


{2}

[Sidenote: Ancestors]

There is a well-authenticated tradition that the family established at
Gatacre at the time of the Conquest held their lands by tenure of
military service, under a grant from Edward the Confessor.  Eyton
speaks of them as "a family of knightly rank, which, having early
feoffment in Gatacre, took its name from the place.  The period of such
feoffment it is vain to conjecture, as being beyond all record of such
matters."[3]


[3] Eyton's _Antiquities of Shropshire_, vol. iii. p. 86.


In the reign of Henry II., Sir William de Gatacre had a suit with one
Walter, about half a hide of land in Great Lye: this was subject to a
Wager of Battle, and apparently Gatacre proved himself the better man,
for Great Lye is even now held by his descendant.  This same William
appears in another record as one of the four "Visors," who in July 1194
had to report to the Courts of Westminster on the validity of the
"essoign of Cecilia de Cantreyn, a litigant.  Gatacre's associates in
this duty--to which knights only were usually appointed--were Henry
Christian, Philip Fitz Holegod, and William de Rudge, all his
neighbours and of equal rank with himself."[4]


[4] _Ibid._


He was succeeded by Sir Robert, his son; who sat on a Jury of Grand
Assizes in April 1200, to try a question of right in relation to lands
at Nordley Regis, at the "Iter of the King's Justices."[5]


[5] _Ibid._


The tenure of the estates was in great jeopardy {3} in the life of
Thomas de Gatacre; for it is told how a certain Philip de Lutley, the
King's Escheator, did "seize the estates of Gatacre, Sutton, and Great
Lye into the King's hand, on the ground that Thomas de Gatacre had
entered upon these estates without doing homage and fealty to the
Crown, and without paying his relief, so that he had occupied the same
unjustly for twenty-two years and more."[6]  At this unfortunate moment
Thomas died, leaving Alice, his widow, to fight for herself and their
son Thomas.  She appealed to the King (Edward III.) in Chancery, in the
Michaelmas Term 1368.  There was a trial by twenty-four jurors, being
knights and others in the visnage of Sutton not being kin to Alice.
She herself appeared in person at Westminster, and won her cause, for a
"King's writ of the same year commits to the same Alice, widow of
Thomas de Gatacre, custody of the Manor of Gatacre and the hamlet of
Sutton with their appurtenances."


[6] See Eyton's _Antiquities_, vol. iii. pp. 90, 91,


The grandson of the younger Thomas was called John; he flourished in
the reigns of Henry IV., Henry V., and Henry VI., and was High Sheriff
of Shropshire in 1409.  In a contemporary stained-glass window now in
the hall at Gatacre there is a portrait of the same John, who is
described as "Groom of the body to Henry VIth."  He was succeeded by
his son John, who was Member of Parliament for Bridgnorth in the
twelfth year of Edward IV.

{4}

[Sidenote: The ancient house]

The house at Gatacre stands in the parish of Claverley, and is about
two miles distant from this village.  Inside the church--a red
sandstone building full of interest to the archæologist--are many
monuments, of which the most ancient are two incised marble slabs
inlaid in the eastern wall; these are about six feet high.  On one is
shown a man in armour, elaborate and perfect in all its detail,
commemorating William Gatacre, who died in 1577, and his wife and
eleven children; and on the other his successor Francis, 1599, is
depicted in civilian dress with his wife at his side.

Close by is a very fine alabaster tomb on which lie three full-length
recumbent figures, being the effigies of Robert Brooke of Madeley
Court, who is described as "Recorder of London, Speaker of P'lyament,
and Chiefe Justice of Com'on Pleace," and his two wives, one of whom
was a daughter of Gatacre.[7]


[7] See _Shropshire_, by A. C. Hare, p. 319.


Thomas, brother to Francis named above, was destined by his parents for
the law; but he "diverted his mind from the most profitable to the most
necessary study, from law to divinity," and, much to the grief of his
parents, who were of the old persuasion, embraced the Reformed Faith,
and became Rector of St. Edmond's, Lombard Street.  He died in 1593;
but his son and grandson followed the same profession.  The former,
Thomas (1574-1654), was a friend of Archbishop Ussher, and a member of
the Westminster Assembly of Divines.  {5} He took part in preparing the
annotations to the English Bible, and published a work on Marcus
Aurelius; in 1648 he subscribed the Remonstrance against the trial of
Charles I.  His son, Charles, was Chaplain to Lucius Gary, Viscount
Falkland, and was also the author of many books.[8]  This younger
branch of the family settled at Mildenhall, in Suffolk, and has always
spelt the name Gataker.  Though there has never failed a male heir to
the senior line, this is the only cadet branch that has survived.


[8] See quotation by A. C. Hare, from Thomas Fuller, 1662.


The house inhabited by this ancient family was a unique survival of
very early times.[9] Where we should now use iron girders our ancestors
used oak-trees; they erected them upside-down, so that the roots made
arches on which to lay the roof.  Large stones were hewn to fill in the
walls, and in this particular building the outer surface of the stones
was incrusted with a transparent green glaze, very similar to what is
now seen on rough pottery.  This curious specimen of domestic
architecture survived in a habitable condition till the early part of
the eighteenth century, when it was wantonly destroyed, and replaced by
a brick mansion of the dark and uninteresting type of the early
Georges.  Portions of the glazed stones are still preserved in the
house amongst many other relics of more obvious value.


[9] See _The Severn Valley_, by John Randall, 1882, and _Archæologia_,
iii. 112, quoted by him.


{6}

Colonel Edward Gatacre and his only son, born in 1806 (who figures as
the Squire in this narrative), were specimens of the best type of
country gentleman of their day.  The former was twentieth in direct
descent from Sir William de Gatacre of the twelfth century, and was
grandfather to Sir William, the hero of this story.  The pedigree shows
that through the centuries the family had maintained their status as
gentle-folk, and had allied themselves with other families of the same
standing in the neighbouring counties.  Both were men of remarkable
activity and considerable cultivation.  With the advent of railways
came the facility for travel, of which the younger man was quick to
avail himself.  He visited London every year, and among other men of
renown knew Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A., and persuaded him to come and
paint the portrait of his father that still hangs at Gatacre--a
beautiful picture.  He also went abroad, and made a pilgrimage to Rome
in the old days when people travelled in their own carriages, making a
long stay at many places of interest in Switzerland and Italy.

[Sidenote: Forbes]

At the age of eighty-one the Colonel died, sincerely mourned throughout
the county; and thus in 1849 the young Squire came into his
inheritance.  About ten years earlier he had married Jessie, second
daughter of William Forbes of Callendar, in the county of Stirling.
Mr. Forbes, who sprang from a cadet branch of the family of that name,
started his career in a shipping office; by his enterprise and
inventions {7} he built up a considerable fortune, with which he bought
the Callendar estate.  His elder son, William Forbes, who succeeded
him, represented Stirlingshire in Parliament for many years; and his
younger son became Colonel John Forbes of the Coldstream Guards.  Their
sister Jessie must always have been a beautiful woman, rather Scottish,
perhaps, in the vigorous outline of her face, with a depth about her
blue eyes and a symmetry of feature that reappeared in her third son; a
look of "all-comprehensive tenderness" is the dominant note of the
portrait.  Indeed, we are told that while Mrs. Gatacre was a very able
woman, she had a singular gentleness of manner.

The family already numbered two sons and a daughter when in 1843 Mrs.
Gatacre went on a visit to her widowed mother, who was then living at
Herbertshire Castle, near Stirling: and so it came about that when a
little boy was born on December 3, he was given the names of his uncle
and godfather, William Forbes.

Perhaps it is to his Scottish descent that we may trace some of the
qualities that became most marked when the child, grown to perfect
manhood, had evolved that balance of innumerable strains that go to
make the individual--had, as it were, tuned the manifold strings of his
lineage to a chord of his own finding.  Did he draw his habit of
concentration on the matter in hand, his painstaking attention to
detail, from the inventor-engineer of Aberdeen?  Did he draw his
fervent notions of duty {8} and his stern disregard of personal
considerations from the blood of the Covenanters that ran in his veins?
My own father was heard to say that this son-in-law of his was born out
of due time, that his right place would have been at the head of
Cromwell's Ironsides.

In course of time another son, Stephen, completed the family.  The
children were a great source of pride and pleasure to their parents,
and had the benefit of all that loving early training could do for
them.  In this wholesome atmosphere of parental affection and brotherly
competition the four boys grew up straight and strong.  They vied with
one another in childish feats and manly sports, but in all these Willie
was the keenest and the most daring.

Even in these latter days the house at Gatacre seems difficult of
access, for the nearest railway station (unless you cross the Severn in
a ferry) is at Bridgnorth, six miles away; but sixty years ago there
was no railway nearer than Wolverhampton, a good ten miles' drive.  The
eldest son well remembers his father driving his coach-and-four to and
fro.  The Squire was a famous whip, and maintained this practice far
into the sixties.  But as the boys grew older they thought nothing of
doing this journey on foot at any hour of the day or night; perhaps it
was the remoteness of the country in which they were nurtured that had
endowed this family for generations back with powers of physical
endurance and enterprise beyond the common.

{9}

[Sidenote: At school]

The elder brothers Edward and John[10] were sent to Mr. Hopkirk's
school at Eltham, in Kent; and both were still there when Willie joined
them a year or two later.  Some of Willie's letters from school are
still to be seen; and if handwriting is any sign of character, he must
have been an exemplary boy at his lessons, for his letters are so
exquisitely written that were it not for the dates duly recorded one
could scarcely believe them to be the work of a high-spirited boy of
thirteen.  Writing to his mother in March 1857, he says: "Did you see
in the papers that peace had been made with Persia?"


[10] Now Major-General Sir John Gatacre, K.C.B.


The interest in Persia had been aroused by the approaching departure of
his brother John to India, where he was to join a regiment that was at
that moment fighting in Persia.  Though loth to part from one who was
said to be his father's favourite son, the Squire had thought the offer
of a commission in the East India Company's army too good an opening to
refuse.  In May 1857 he accompanied the boy, who was then only sixteen
and a half, as far as Marseilles, and did not see him again for nearly
twelve years.

At Gatacre there was a famous kennel of setters, and also some good
retrievers.  A puppy of the latter breed was given to Willie for his
own, and he broke and trained it so skilfully, when only fifteen, that
the dog was sold for fifteen guineas, and eventually became celebrated
in the canine world.

{10}

[Sidenote: In the holidays]

There are many excellent fox-holding coverts in that part of the
country; the Albrighton Hounds still draw them regularly.  Such visits
were great events to the boys; and we can well believe that Willie
would always be out, mounted on whatever he could get, big or small,
old or young.  One day he was riding a mare who was known to be
twenty-two years old, and had all her life been used for harness work;
but nothing stopped Willie.  When a fox was found close to the house,
away he went, and it is still told how Rushlight led the field for
miles.  Willie seems to have shared more intimately than any of his
brothers the Squire's love for horses.  He had a vivid recollection of
journeys to Birmingham with his father, when he visited the big stables
there to search for horses, either for himself or a friend; the elder
man taught his son what points to look for and what to avoid.  Willie
thus acquired a certain confident genius for judging a horse, and all
his life took a pleasure in exercising this quality; like his father
before him, he was never afraid to buy horses at their request for
friends who had more confidence in his judgment than in their own.

One summer holiday the boy found for himself a new recreation.  In a
letter to Stephen, dated from Gatacre, July 20, 1860, we find the
following passage:


"Did you know that there was an Alderney bull come?  I have begun to
work him every {11} day, but he does not like it, and he fights with me
a great deal.  But I find a good stick the best remedy; sometimes I
have to bate him a good deal."


The brothers and sister clearly recall seeing Willie ride this animal
day after day in the park.

It is evident that Number Three must often have been a source of
anxiety to his parents.  One evening in February he gave his mother a
most horrible fright.  The boys had arranged to go out after
wood-pigeons in the spinneys round the house; as there was snow on the
ground they slipped a night-shirt over their clothes to make themselves
less visible.  The three guns posted themselves in three coverts some
distance apart, and then lay in wait for the birds as they came in to
roost.  Willie, who was then sixteen or seventeen, was in a lucky
corner: he shot so many that he was at a loss how to bring the birds
in.  Slipping off his white covering, he made a bag of it and gathered
up his spoils.  By the time he reached the house he presented such an
alarming appearance that his mother naturally imagined him the victim
of some terrible accident.  With great pride the boy counted out
forty-two birds.

In 1856 the Squire was pricked for High Sheriff.  There is an ancient
custom by which all the sons of Gatacre are enrolled as Freemen of the
Borough of Bridgnorth; and on June 25, 1860, William Forbes was duly
sworn and inscribed on the rolls.

{12}

In the same year, on August 1, he was admitted to the Royal Military
College; he was then only sixteen and a half, and measured five feet
seven and a quarter inches in height.  Ultimately he reached five feet
eleven inches in his socks.

Except in the riding-school he does not seem to have made much mark at
Sandhurst, but when he left in December 1861 he had earned the college
"Recommendation," and on February 18 following was gazetted an ensign
in the 77th Foot, now the 2nd Battalion (Duke of Cambridge's Own)
Middlesex Regiment.



{13}

CHAPTER II

1862-1880

TO INDIA AND BACK

[Sidenote: 1862]

The 77th Regiment was raised in 1787, and for twenty years served in
India, taking part in the fierce campaigns against Tippoo Sahib in
1790-91, in the storming of Seringapatam in 1799, and in many minor
operations.  On their colours are also recorded the suggestive names,
Albuhera, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive,
Peninsula.  In the Crimea they had charged at the Alma and at Inkerman;
they had shivered in the trenches before Sebastopol, and had taken part
in the final assault of the Redan.  There were many officers and men
still with the colours in 1862 who had three clasps to their medals,
and also wore the French medal, and in the ranks there was an
exceptional number of Gallant Conduct medals.

Without doubt the fine record of the regiment and the fact that all the
senior officers had been proved in actual warfare, as their medals so
brilliantly testified, had a stimulating effect on the juniors.

{14}

Unfortunately the 77th sailed for Sydney, New South Wales, just before
the news of the Indian Mutiny reached England; and being detained
there, they did not reach India till June 1858, too late to take a
share in any but the minor operations incident to the disturbed state
of the country.

[Sidenote: As subaltern]

The regiment was at Hazaribagh, in Bengal, when Ensign William Gatacre
joined on June 5, 1862, but was shortly afterwards moved to Allahabad.
It was while Gatacre was doing duty with a detachment in the Fort that
Major Henry Kent (now Colonel-in-Chief of the Middlesex Regiment) first
saw the new subaltern; he describes him as good-looking, thin, smart,
and gentlemanly, adding that he took an immediate fancy to him.

It is to General Kent, who still speaks of Gatacre with great
affection, that I am indebted for the following story.

Sir Robert Napier, who at that time was Military Member of Council, was
passing through Allahabad on tour that winter, and took a walk round
the Fort one evening.  Seeing a smart young officer with the famous
77th on his cap, he accosted him.

"Ah," he said, "I see you belong to the 77th, which Lord Gough
commanded at the battle of Barrosa."

"Yes, sir."

"And you captured a French Eagle there?"

"Yes, sir, we did."

"Well," said Napier, "what have you done {15} with the French Eagle?
Have you got it out here?"

"Not at present, sir," came the audacious reply: "we are putting up a
memorial in St. Paul's Cathedral to all our poor fellows who fell in
the Crimea, and we have sent the Eagle home to have a model taken of
it."

Now all this was an imaginary story invented to ease the situation, for
Napier was wrong in his facts.  It was the 87th that Lord Gough had
commanded, and the 87th who had captured the French Standard; but
Gatacre's intuitive sense of discipline, even at nineteen, led him to
try any way of escape before putting his senior in the wrong.

Major-General Sir Harcourt Bengough, who was a few years senior to
Gatacre in the regiment, writes thus:

"The impression I retain of him as a young soldier is that of a strong
will and a quick determination to succeed, combined with a very kindly
disposition and a great charm of manner."

Another officer tells us that in the hottest weather Gatacre was always
cool, smiling, and good-tempered.  He was noticeably abstemious and
frugal, and very careful of his appearance.  At one time he used to
clean his own boots because he was too hard up to pay for this service.
When he related this in after-life he added, with the pride of
efficiency, "And they did shine!"

An officer's wife who knew Gatacre in these early days, and saw him at
intervals throughout {16} his career, tells us that there hung about
him when he first joined a certain countrified simplicity of mind and
manner, as opposed to the conventionality of a town-bred man.  Though
he enjoyed society, social distractions got little hold on his
self-contained nature, and it was rarely that any of his friendships
developed into intimacy.  He had, however, a ready sympathy, was easily
interested in whatever went on around him, and, being very unselfish,
was always prepared to do any one a service.

[Sidenote: 1865]

Young Gatacre's letters to his mother from Allahabad disclose a
reasoned industry inspired by ambition.  The reiteration of the
recurring features of his life, cholera, rain, and work, is suggestive
of the monotony of existence in the summer months.  But his experiences
and his surroundings differ in nothing from that of every other
subaltern in the Plains.  That he worked with assiduity at acquiring
the language is shown by his having been placed first out of twenty-two
in the Higher Standard, after only two years' study.  When the 77th
moved to Bareilly, Gatacre was made secretary to the Mutton and Poultry
Club, and kept a quailery, which was a venture of his own.  The
following letter shows the real interest that he took in his charges:


_July_ 31, 1865.

"When the musketry instructor comes down from leave on September 30, I
shall try for fifteen days' leave.  I cannot get more, as the {17}
course begins on October 15, with all its hard work.  It is raining
very hard here, and I am sitting in the verandah watching all my ducks
and geese enjoying themselves.  I have both my horses in the field
round the house: one of them has a peculiarly unpleasant temper with
strangers.  The other day the doctor was breakfasting with us; when he
went away and had got a short distance, he saw this animal coming at
him open-mouthed, but he turned and ran for my room, and both the
doctor and horse came into the room together.  He does not run at me,
as he knows me so well, but I never trust him much; they are very
uncertain in India."


[Sidenote: On leave]

In November 1866 the 77th was sent to Peshawur, and in the following
May young Gatacre took six months' leave to Kashmir.  But he did not
confine himself to shooting in the Happy Valley; he was filled with an
adventurous curiosity to see the temples and wild scenery of the
mountains beyond.  He felt that his pleasure in the trip would lie in
his freedom to go where he chose, and when he chose, and as fast as he
chose.  He knew that his mobility would outstrip that of any companion,
and so decided to go alone.  In this decision, in which we see the
first indication of originality, Gatacre showed a fearlessness, a
confidence in his own resources, and a willingness to sever
communications with all external support that are remarkable in a lad
of only twenty-three.  These characteristics never faded; they may be
traced throughout the record of his life {18} whenever occasion arose
for his individuality to take action.  What other man would have
attempted to explore the forests of Abyssinia unaccompanied at the age
of sixty-one!  His fearlessness and his confidence were with him to the
end, and to the end he preserved a mobility that preferred to be
unhampered.

[Sidenote: 1867]

Young Gatacre's first objective was Leh.  He left Srinagar on May 2,
and halting at Manasbal Lake one night, reached Kangan.  Here he learnt
that the road over the Zoji-La between Sonamarg and Dras was still
blocked with snow, and so made up his mind to halt for a time.  His
diary during this fortnight's halt shows that he was more interested in
what he saw than in what he shot.  This is the feature of his trip; he
writes much more of the temples that he has sketched than of the game
that he has killed.  One day when he had run across some friends he
writes: "Saw a gerau deer that Troop had killed; would like to get one
to make a sketch of."  He subsequently collected many of his sketches
in a book; and these early water-colours are quite surprising in their
freshness and finish.  They are not pictures, but most painstaking
studies of what he saw--picturesque men and women, animals, temples,
idols, and occasionally the detail of some designs from the temples.
He records with the greatest interest the flowers and birds that he
sees, and speaks of its physical features if the country he was passing
through was of special interest.  It is clear that he had at some time
studied the elements of geology, {19} for he writes of the Zoji-La:
"Rocks very barren, and look very old--no sharp points."

[Sidenote: Goes after bear]

After ten days he moved one march up the road to Reval, and spent ten
days there shooting, whenever the rain and the snow allowed.  On May 16
he writes:


"Fine morning at last; put everything in the sun to dry.  Went out
shooting after breakfast, and had a good day; killed a black bear about
200 yards from camp.  Had a shot at an ibex; saw nine, but did not hit
one.  Slept under a tree for about an hour; on my way back killed a
brown bear with a beautiful silvery skin, and hit a barrasingh buck in
the chest; tracked him a long way, found some blood.  Night was coming
on and it began to rain, so had to give up the search or should
probably have got him--a magnificent beast, horns about a foot high,
just beginning to grow.  In jumping across the stream I fell in and got
wet through; water very strong, was carried down like an arrow; caught
hold of a stone and came ashore, took off my things and stood in the
sun to dry: sketch reserved."


There is a pleasant vein of boyish humour in some of the entries.


"Went after a huge black bear that we saw on the hill-side, but could
not find him.  Climbed one of the stiffest and most slippery hills that
I ever was on after the aforesaid bear, and found his cave.  Thought
him a fool for selecting such a spot; going up there once was bad
enough, but to have such an ascent to one's residence was absurd.
Found some one of the name of {20} Thorpe had arrived at the
camping-ground, asked him to dinner, but he refused as he was so tired;
could not understand his reason--the very one why I should have
accepted, as he could have gone to bed directly afterwards, my dinner
being ready and his not.


It was not till May 23 that he got really started, and even then the
road was still deep in snow, or the melting snow was flooding over the
road in many places.  Under date May 25 we read:


"Passed some dead men in the pass; they were men going to Yarkand
(eight men and a woman) several days ago, when they were overtaken with
snow and smothered, all their bedding, clothes, etc., lying about."


Next day, writing from Dras, he notices the great change that has come
over the country; and here he spent three days, partly because his
servant had fever, and partly because he finds so much to sketch that
he cannot tear himself away.  The same motive kept him at Lama Guru, of
which he gives an excellent description.  He reached Leh on June 9,
having accomplished the 250 miles from Reval in seventeen days, or
deducting four halts, thirteen days; which works out at an average of
over nineteen miles every marching day.

[Sidenote: At Hemis]

The following day he started off for Hemis, where there was a great
gathering for the visit of the Burra Lama: this involved a stony and
arduous march of twenty-four miles, but he was {21} up early next
morning and was very much interested in what was going on.


_June_ 11, 1867.

"Went all over the Monastery and gained a little information--not much,
as the monks keep no records, only from year to year.  The place is
about 1,300 years old, well built of stone with a whitening on it, on
the side of a rock.  There are several halls of worship (Gompas) hung
round with splendid silk flags and banners, all Chinese silk.  There
are a few idols, but very small ones, magnificently woven pictures of
gods on silk being the chief things.  About 10 o'clock the tamasha
began, monks dressed in the most magnificent silk garments and quaint
tall hats and masks dancing; the costumes were varied about every
quarter of an hour and every one equally grand as the former.  They
each held in their hands a drum like a warming-pan and either a bell or
a rattle.  They danced a sort of war-dance in a circle, occasionally
singing and drumming.  Under the verandah of the Quadrangle were seated
about thirty monks dressed in red and yellow silk gowns, with
fan-shaped hats on their heads; some with drums, some with cymbals, and
some with long trumpets, silver and copper, formed the band; they
played from music and it went very well with the wild dance.  One dance
was performed with bears, another was supposed to be a wild man's
dance: about ten monks--dressed in hideous masks, yellow embroidered
silk jackets, on the shoulders of which tigers' heads were embroidered,
and round whose waists were strings of bells, from which were suspended
strips of tiger skins--danced in a circle, beating drums and ringing
bells.  The figure of a man {22} bound hand and foot was placed in the
centre.  After they had danced round the figure some time, one of them
cut off his head with a sword.  One of the side walls of the
Quadrangle, about 30 ft. high and 12 ft. broad, was covered with a
single cloth or flag on which was most beautifully woven the figure of
one of their gods and other subjects--worth about 5,000 or 6,000
rupees.  This was at first covered with long silk streamers, which were
removed; and when the large banner had been duly worshipped and
admired, it was rolled up and replaced by another equally splendid, but
not so large, by a third and by a fourth.  Each dress could not have
cost less than £80 or £100--I never saw anything so magnificent; the
whole Quadrangle was hung round with silk streamers too.  Round the
Quadrangle, the prayer-books--viz. rollers of wood with the prayers
written on them--are placed, one turn of which is equal to saying a
prayer.  All the villagers have them at their doors; at one corner of
the Quadrangle there is a room in which there is a huge prayer roller.
They are called Marni-prayer."


Gatacre was determined to make the most of his opportunities, and
insisted on seeing the Burra Lama, whom he thus describes:


"He is a short, stout, middle-aged man, clothed in fine scarlet cloth,
sitting on a throne on which incense was burning; he is never seen by
any one except on the occasion of the festival, when he comes and sits
on a platform in the Quadrangle for about half an hour.  I could not
wait till evening to see him, so as a special favour was allowed to see
the mortal whom no vulgar European eye had seen before.  He {23}
received me graciously, and asked me to be seated and how I was; asked
me if I had anything to give him.  I had brought nothing from Ladak
with me, but had some matches with me, which I gave him.  He comes from
Lhassa; it is three months' journey from here, and he comes once in
every five or six years.  It was great luck my seeing this festival, as
occurring so early in the year it is seldom or never seen."


[Sidenote: The Salt Lakes]

On his return to Leh, Gatacre was horrified at getting letters telling
him to hurry back to Peshawur, as cholera had broken out.  But he was
too cunning to take this very literally, and at once got his friend the
Wazeer to lend him ponies to ride to the Salt Lakes; he adds most
sapiently: "If I don't see them now, probably never shall."

It was, however, a very long way (ninety-eight miles) to the Salt Lakes
at Rupshu; he did this journey in two days, and on the second day
writes:


"The distance I came to-day was fifty-eight miles; I was nearly dead
with fever, and sun and cold, and walking, and riding in a wooden
saddle all day."


He spent one day in his tent with fever on the snow-covered plain, but
was better next morning and able to get about, and on the following day
he started on the return journey, which he accomplished in two marches
as before.

After four days spent at Leh with some friends who had turned up, he
marched back by the same {24} route, covering 265 miles from Leh to
Kangan in twelve days, one of which was a halt at Lama Yuru, where he
"slept nearly all day."

[Sidenote: Off again]

Writing from Baltal on July 1, he comments on the change that has taken
place in the Zoji-La in his absence:


"The Pir is a very different-looking place from what it was when I came
through it before.  Then it was a wilderness of snow, ice, and rocks;
now it is the most beautiful pass, hills covered with grass and flowers
and shrubs and trees that were before buried in the snow.  The snow
rivers are very full and furious; nearly lost a pony in one of them;
drove him through it and carried saddles, etc., over the snow some way
higher up; the pony was rolled over and over and with difficulty came
to land.  Now that the snow has disappeared, one sees what a quantity
there must have been in the pass when I went through, at least 70 or 80
ft. in some places.  The Pir is covered with sweet peas and flowers of
all colours and shapes, excessively pretty.

"The hills wear a quite different aspect to what they did when I came
up.  The snow has melted except on a few of the highest peaks, and the
grass has grown, likewise the shrubs.  The barley and all the corn is
in the ear; it was hardly sown when I came, just a month ago.  There
are waterfalls from nearly every rock, which looks very pretty and the
water is such as 'only teetotallers desire or deserve.'  The wild
roses, white, red, and yellow, are covered with blossoms, and their
smell is delicious."


But before he reached Srinagar the orders for his return were
cancelled, and we find him shooting in his old haunts round Kangan.

{25}

It is clear that he was enjoying himself thoroughly, that he felt no
impatience to return to civilisation, and that he considered his march
to Leh and back very much worth doing, for at the end of July he
started on another extended tour.  It is about 120 miles from Kangan to
Skardo, about 200 thence to Leh, and about 250 from Leh to Srinagar, so
that he added another 570 miles to his score in the fifty days between
July 28 and September 15.  Leaving the Sind River by the tributary
valley to the north called Wangat, he crossed into the valley of Tylel
by a little-known route "said to have been a track made by a gang of
horse dealers who came from Tylel into Kashmir years ago."  There were
two very steep hills, of which the coolies only managed to accomplish
the first.

Turning north-east, he made his way across the plains of Deosai, but
there was a difficult pass to negotiate before he descended into the
valley of the Indus.  On August 7 he writes:


"Got up early and started for Skardo.  Got to the top of the ridge in
about an hour, all snow and ice, great trouble to get the ponies over
the glacier, as it was a nearly perpendicular sheet of ice--they slid
down most of the way.  From the bottom of the glacier there is a
descent of about eight miles down the valley, which opens out into the
plain of Skardo.  Skardo consists of a number of villages scattered
over a stony plain covered with apricot-trees which yield great
quantities of fruit.  The plain is surrounded with high rocky hills, no
grass or trees on them.  The Wazeer is an old man with long {26} grey
beard, uncle to the present Wazeer Labjar of Ladak, who was formerly
Wazeer here.  His name is Myraram, he came to see me on my arrival,
bringing a large basket of apricots as a present."


[Sidenote: A snow pass]

The last sentence is a sample of many entries, for wherever he went he
made friends with the headmen of the village, and he seems nowhere to
have been in difficulties about supplies.  As it is unlikely that the
Hindustani of the plains of India would be understood in Thibet, he
must either have mastered working fragments of the dialect, or he must
have talked Persian with the more educated natives.  Later on he says:
"Met some Tartars who had been to Simla, and had a long talk with
them."  And in another place: "Had a long talk with a Sepoy who was in
one of the four regiments sent by the Maharajah to assist in the
capture of Delhi, and saw General Nicholson fall."

Three officers of the 11th Hussars came in to Skardo the day after
Gatacre's arrival, and fired him with the desire to see Shigar, a town
a few miles higher up the Indus, where they had seen the original game
of polo.

After five days' halt at Skardo, Gatacre started on his return journey,
via Leh.  Both Skardo and Leh are on the Indus: he did not, however,
follow the course of this river, but chose to make his way up the
valley of the Shyok.  This necessitated a passage over the Indus at the
junction of the two streams on the second day's march, which he thus
describes:


{27}

"Started at daybreak, and reached this at 6 o'clock.  Crossed the river
at Kiris on twelve mussocks fastened together by eight bamboos or thin
sticks--the luggage in the centre, I on one side, Collassie on the
other, and two steerers at one end, who steered with long sticks.  When
they got into the middle of the stream they began their tarnasha,
namely, turning the raft round and round like a top by digging their
sticks deeply into the water."


Two days later he crossed the Shyok in the same manner, and found the
stream "very fast and furious," although it was half a mile across.  It
is difficult to picture these watercourses, which, with the manners and
appearance of mountain-torrents, have the volume and grandeur of mighty
rivers.  After following the Shyok for about fifty miles, he left it at
Paxfain, and turned southwards along  the side-stream which leads up to
the Chorbat-La, a pass 16,696 ft. above the sea.  Writing that evening,
he says:


"Marched at break of day and walked on steadily till the sun went
down--a very long march; the first four or five hours were occupied in
getting to the top of the pass--a terrible climb--after that it is all
down-hill.  The Pir was covered with snow, with an immense glacier
reaching right across it for about 200 yards."


The next day he struck into the valley of the Indus once more, and
reached Leh in six marches on August 26.  On the way "a very civil {28}
Sepoy turned up," who was also on his way to Ladak.  While in his
company Gatacre found that he met with unusual politeness and
attention, which was accounted for later when "the Sepoy turned out to
be the new Thanadar of these parts."

On September 1 he started back on the direct route to Srinagar, which
must have seemed quite familiar to him on this, his third journey.  On
the Zoji-La he notes that "all the grass that was so beautifully green
is now withered up."  At Sonamarg he found it "very cold," and writes
of his blankets being frozen hard in the morning, and quite white.  On
September 15 he reached Srinagar, having marched the 285 miles from Leh
in sixteen days, making an average of eighteen miles a day.  He seems
to have done most of his travelling on foot, though it is clear that he
sometimes had ponies for his baggage, and that he sometimes rode them.
When he was making long marches he had great sympathy for his beasts,
and often notices that the ponies were very tired.  The rate at which
he travelled would, of course, be nothing exceptional on made roads,
but it must be remembered that in no case was there any road at all, as
we understand the word, and that he habitually moved by double marches.

He found several friends at Srinagar whom he had come across in his
travels, and enjoyed an easy fortnight with them there before rejoining
at Peshawur.

[Sidenote: On sick leave]

This season had proved itself a very trying {29} and unhealthy one for
the 77th; the regiment had been attacked with cholera and Peshawur
fever, and had lost five officers and forty-nine men.  Colonel Kent
tells us that on his return Gatacre had a sharp attack of fever, and
that he and another subaltern had been so very ill when they were sent
off home that it was feared they would never again be able to serve in
India.

Even after his arrival in England Gatacre had severe recurrences of
fever, but home nursing triumphed; and before long he was posted to a
depot battalion then commanded by Colonel Browne of the 77th, and
stationed at Pembroke Dock.  Writing on August 13, 1909, Colonel Browne
says:


"Gatacre's relations with his brother officers were always very smooth,
and I cannot recall to mind his ever exchanging an angry word with any
one of them, but as a rule he did not encourage intimacy.

"Whatever Gatacre was asked or had to do he did well and thoroughly.
Whilst he joined heartily in whatever socially was going on, he never
in the days I speak of put himself prominently forward; but there was
something about him which I at least recognised as showing a dormant
power which only awaited opportunity to exert itself, and this view of
him has been fully borne out by his later career."


When Colonel Kent brought the battalion home in March 1870, Lieutenant
Gatacre was on the quay to greet his regiment on its arrival at
Portsmouth.

{30}

The Clarence Barracks in which the regiment was first quartered were at
that time old and dilapidated, and have since vanished.  In those days
every officer who took part in a route-march had to send in a report to
the General Officer Commanding.  The opening sentence of one of
Gatacre's reports amused his wing-commander so much that it survives:
"Starting from the Clarence Barracks, long since condemned as unfit for
habitation by the Royal Marines, etc."

[Sidenote: 1870]

The events of 1870 on the continent were of course followed with
breathless interest by all intelligent Englishmen, and many soldiers
must have longed to go and see the ground on which these sanguinary
contests had been fought out.  This desire was anticipated by the War
Office, and special regulations were issued forbidding such an attempt.
But to Gatacre the call was irresistible.  Having taken first leave
that autumn in order to see something of his brother John before his
return to India, he slipped away via Harwich and Antwerp to Brussels,
which he reached on November 6.  He seems afterwards to have followed
the route taken by the First German Army under Steinmetz in early
August--in fact, Saarbrucken was the scene of the first encounter.
Gravelotte had been fought on August 18, but doubtless to a soldier's
eye the ground occupied by the combatants could still be identified.
Metz had capitulated on October 27, so that the state of a city in
which 150,000 men had been blockaded {31} for three months was
exhibited in all its horrors.

[Sidenote: Continental battlefields]

Writing from Luxembourg on Sunday, November 6, 1870, he says:


"I started again at 6.30 this morning, and got here, without stopping,
at 1 o'clock; nothing but soldiers, horses, and baggage, besides sick
men by the hundreds, hospitals filled.  I never saw such a sight.
To-night I am going to Treves, and then on to Metz, via Saarlouis and
Saarbruck, as the road via Vionville is not open on account of the
French holding it.  I will write from Metz and let you know my
movements.  I mean to attach myself to the English Ambulance, if
possible, for a while, if I can see anything more by doing so."


And again on November 13, from Brussels:


"From Luxembourg I went on to Treves, Saarbruck, Metz, and then round
by Ottange, through Belgium to Brussels again.  I went to Gravelotte
and several battlefields, and picked up heaps of things, most of which
I have got with me; but as nothing is allowed to go over the French
frontier, there was a difficulty about passing.  I met a man named
Caldecott in the service, and he and I travelled together all the way;
we drove across the frontier with our things, and so got them through.
Metz is in a terrible state; nothing to eat or drink, or place to
sleep.  I could not write, as all postal communication is stopped, and
most of the country round Metz a desert.

"I shall come by the coach Thursday night, so if you could send the
cart to Shipley to fetch my things, I will just walk over."

{32}

[Sidenote: 1871-3]

Writing on the day following his return, his sister gives Stephen a
rchauffé of the traveller's tales:


"Metz is not injured in the least, but is full of soldiers, and that is
why there was no place to sleep in there.  When Willie left, the shops
were open and provisions coming in.  Willie travelled with another
Englishman in a waggon with a poor starved horse, and was going about
in this way for four or five days.  The cold intense; deep snow.  He
saw 25,000 prisoners going into Germany, packed in trucks, forty
officers and men in a truck like cattle, and snow among them.  He slept
in a hospital three nights, 1,700 men in it.

"I do not think, from what he says, that travelling is over safe--that
is, on the French side.  The sentries are very sharp; an Englishman who
was foolishly travelling by himself, and at night, and could speak no
language well, was shot a month ago.

"Willie is glad he went; he met an old gentleman who knew grandpapa at
Saarbruck."


It is much to be regretted that the daily impressions of this tour were
not recorded with the accuracy of the Kashmir trip, but 1867 seems to
have been the only year in which he kept a journal.  We hear nothing of
how he contrived to get anything to eat, or to get about at all, in a
region stripped of supplies by the armies that had passed through; but
the interesting fact remains that he did visit this ground, and
reappeared at home on Thursday, November 17.

Colonel Henry Kent was very popular in the 77th regiment, which he had
first joined in 1845.  He held the command for twelve years, and {33}
had brought the battalion into a very high state of efficiency when he
resigned in 1880.  It is notified in General Orders of that year that
for the third time in succession the 77th was the best shooting
regiment, and that Private H. Morgan, of this corps, was the best shot
in the army.

[Sidenote: Staff College]

In February 1873 Captain Gatacre was admitted to the Staff College.  He
had worked hard to prepare himself for the entrance examination, had
taken private lessons to rub up his mathematics, and had been abroad to
polish his French; for not only had he to secure a vacancy in open
competition, but he had to dispute the place with another officer in
the same corps.

It is clear that even in these early days Gatacre had acquired the art
of making himself valued among his fellows.  Colonel Kent was dining
with the Rifle Brigade at Aldershot one evening when he had the
gratification of hearing the laments of some of his contemporaries at
the Staff College at the prospect of losing Gatacre.  But the Colonel,
highly delighted at the success and popularity of his young friend,
reassured them, saying:

"Never mind, I have another quite as good to send in his place.  I am
sending Bengough next term."

"Ah, yes," they said, "but we shall never have another like Gatacre; we
shall miss him dreadfully.  Why, what can the 77th be made of!"

"Gatacres and Bengoughs," was the proud reply.  General Kent affirms,
moreover, that {34} His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught was
present on this occasion.

[Sidenote: 1873-4]

During these two years Captain Leir[1] was Master of the Staff College
Drag-hounds.  He speaks of Gatacre, who acted as his Whip, as "the best
who ever turned them for me"; and tells us that he was quite the most
accomplished horseman of his day--that he used to ride all sorts of
horses, made and unmade, that he had wonderful patience and nerve, and
was always in the front.


[1] Now Major-General Leir-Carleton.


Captain Leir writes that the only fuss he ever had with his colleague
was over a hound, called Bellman, who had been given to him by the late
Lord Cork when master of the Queen's Buckhounds.  Bellman was a great
favourite, being very companionable, which is unusual with fox-hounds.
Gatacre begged leave to take him home and summer him in Shropshire, but
having got him there the Squire took such a fancy to Bellman that his
return was delayed till the following January.  On another occasion,
however, the Master had every reason to be grateful to his friend, as
he tells us in the following story.

[Sidenote: Indefatigable]

For drag-hounds the scent is laid by a man who runs with aniseed half
an hour before the hounds start; but as it is imperative that he should
thoroughly know his line, he must walk it first, carefully selecting a
track which avoids risk of damage to growing crops and affords suitable
fences for the field.  On one occasion when {35} Captain Leir's runner
(or fox as he was familiarly termed) was _hors de combat_ from a fall,
he sent for a noted runner from Reading to take his place.  But when
the Master had shown this man half the course, he suddenly threw up the
job, and after that no bribe would induce him to go a yard farther.
The meet was advertised for the following day, but there was no fox,
and Leir, vexed and despairing, now turned to his Whip, who was noted
for his resource in all difficulties.

At 6 a.m. the next morning Gatacre started to walk the line by the aid
of a map, drove back, did his morning's work on the heath with his
class, and ran the line again in the afternoon.  The runs varied from
four to six miles, according to the season and the condition of hounds
and horses, with a ten minutes' check in the middle.  The fox on this
occasion, however, was a long-winded one; he ran a bit farther than his
instructions warranted, in order to enjoy the sight of half the field
struggling on the banks of a big brook.

At the final examination in December 1874 Gatacre passed out of the
Staff College with special honours in military drawing and surveying,
and was at once offered the post of Professor in these subjects at the
Royal Military College; he took up this appointment early in 1875.

In the following year, being then thirty-two, he was married to a
charming and beautiful girl of Irish descent.  Early in the year 1878
their {36} eldest son, William Edward, who is now a Captain in the
Yorkshire Light Infantry, was born at Yorktown.

[Sidenote: 1875-9]

A few months later Gatacre was to know the first great grief of his
life in the loss of his mother.  Willie had always proved intensely
lovable, and had also his own graceful and attentive ways of returning
the love which he received from his parents.  There was, moreover, a
strong vein of sentiment in him which led him throughout his life to
cling to souvenirs and relics of the past.

[Sidenote: As professor]

It is evidence of the strength and the simplicity of Gatacre's
character that his charm of manner was felt equally by men older and
younger than himself.  "Manners impress as they indicate real power.
And you cannot rightly train one to an air and manner except by making
him the kind of man of whom that manner is the natural expression.
Nature ever puts a premium on reality."

The cadets in his class were fascinated by this singular and brilliant
personality, and loved him with a "schoolboy heat."  One of them tells
how he seemed more one of themselves than the other professors; another
remembers how he treated them as gentlemen, instead of regarding them
as schoolboys; another that he was full of sympathy when anything
needed explanation; another that if he found out and fell upon some
little meanness with the weight of his own uprightness, he would gave
the culprit from official correction {37} thus win him as a disciple;
another, writing at the time of his death, speaks of Gatacre's
influence for good throughout his career.  Another, who has afforded me
very real assistance in this narrative, tells us that he felt such a
genuine hero-worship for Captain Gatacre that he applied for the 77th
Regiment in order to serve under him.  This cadet not only passed well,
but, being a protégé of General William Napier, who was then Governor
of the College, might have got himself gazetted into any regiment that
he liked to name.

After serving four years as a military instructor, Gatacre was
appointed temporarily to the post of Deputy Assistant
Quarter-Master-General on the Headquarters Staff at Aldershot.  This
was his first experience of staff work.  The following winter a new
field-service equipment was engaging much attention; this was, of
course, worked out in the office in which Gatacre was employed.  He
writes with some satisfaction of the "mess-tin invented by me" being
approved and adopted.



{38}

CHAPTER III

1880-1883

RANGOON

[Sidenote: 1880]

At the expiration of his term of office at Aldershot, in May 1880,
Captain Gatacre took short leave home, and then rejoined the 77th at
Dover.  The regiment had been already warned for India in the next
trooping season, but the news of our misfortune at Maiwand hastened
their departure, and in August 1880 they were hurriedly embarked at
only a fortnight's notice.  To Gatacre the hope of seeing active
service must have more than compensated for a disappointment he had
expressed at not getting another staff billet.  This hope, however,
vanished on their arrival at Bombay, where the regiment learnt that the
defeat of Ayub Khan outside Khandahar on September 2 had brought the
campaign to a conclusion.  The battalion was landed at Bombay on
September 10, and made its way by road to Madras.

[Sidenote: On the staff]

It is evident that Gatacre's reputation as a {39} zealous and efficient
officer had preceded him, for within one month of his arrival in India
he was seconded for service on the staff of the Hyderabad Subsidiary
Force, which had its headquarters at Secunderabad.  All keen soldiers
are pleased to be in India, for there is more chance of active service
there than at home, and it was in the hope of getting this opportunity
that Gatacre lived and worked.  In the meantime his selection for staff
work, although the post was only "temporary," was sufficiently
complimentary to satisfy all his aspirations.  His qualities and
temperament had greater scope to expand in such a post than in the more
rigid routine of a regiment; his previous experience of India added
discernment to his enthusiasm in dealing with all the manifold
interests with which he came in contact.

But there was a cloud on the horizon which rapidly grew until the whole
sky was for the moment overcast.  Early in the New Year his little son,
born at Aldershot and aged only fifteen months, fell sick with cholera,
and died on January 18.  Both parents felt the blow terribly: the
mother took fright for the elder boy, and decided to carry him off
home.  Several touching relics, in the way of a lock of hair, etc.,
that Gatacre, in spite of his many changes of residence, never
afterwards cared to destroy, show how deeply he was moved by this loss.
He had a spontaneous fondness for children that led him all his life to
accost them; and his attentions to them invariably met with that {40}
quick response which is in itself a sign of grace in the recipient.

  A manhood fused with female grace,
    In such a sort, a child would twine
    A trustful hand, unasked, in thine,
  And find his comfort in thy face.


He looked forward with pleasure to getting a change when he should be
relieved in June by the officer whose post he was holding, and soon had
the satisfaction of accepting an offer from General the Honourable
Arthur Hardinge, Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army, to take the
place of his Military Secretary, who was for the moment employed
elsewhere.

[Sidenote: 1881]

This appointment was even more congenial than the last: for to be on
the personal staff of the Commander-in-Chief of a province meant
accompanying him on all his tours of inspection.  Like the former, this
appointment was an eight months' business, for staff officers in India
get sixty days' short leave every year, and eight months' long leave
occasionally; for the latter period it was usual to appoint some
officer to carry on, and it was Gatacre's good fortune throughout his
career to be constantly selected for such temporary tenure of office.
In this way he gained an acquaintance with all the provinces of India,
and with all arms, British and Native, such as rarely falls to the lot
of one man.  When he left India, seventeen years later, there was
hardly a station in all the four provinces which he had not visited.

[Sidenote: Military Secretary]

In the course of the winter, 1881-2, General {41} Hardinge paid an
official visit to Sir Robert Phayre, at Mhow.  One of his daughters
well remembers Major Gatacre on this occasion.  His handsome bronzed
face, his slight athletic figure, and keen but kindly blue eyes
arrested the attention; and then on further acquaintance, his
indefinable charm of manner, his courtly way of devoting himself to his
companion for the moment, his curious mixture of modesty and power left
an impression which later years exaggerated as his name became
identified with all the soldierly qualities and achievements which
built up his fame.

Every moment of these inspection tours was full of interest for
Gatacre; who, being a good son, writes fully and simply about
everything to the Squire at home.


CAMP HAMURGHURI,

_December_ 18, 1881.

"We are having a very pleasant march from Nusserabad to Neemuch; good
shooting all the way--duck, snipe, and deer; also some capital
pig-sticking.  The wild boars here are very difficult to get out of the
jungle and grass, but when one does get them out across the open ground
they run like greyhounds.  I have two ponies a little under fourteen
hands, both fast, and I have sometimes galloped a mile and a half
before I could catch one; this was allowing him about a quarter of a
mile start, otherwise if pressed they turn into the jungle.  When you
get up to them on the open ground, they turn round and run back a pace
or two, and then come straight at you, rising on their hind legs to cut
your horse if they get the chance, but {42} this of course they can't
do if you use your spear properly.  I have got some capital tushes.
The best run we have had as yet was at a place called Roopauli, two
marches back; two boars broke covert together and went away over
capital ground to another place two miles off.  The Commander-in-Chief
and I took one and had a capital run after him.  I had the luck to get
the first spear.  I was pleased, because I was riding a horse of the
Chief's that could never be got up to a pig before.  To-morrow we are
coming to a place celebrated for cheetul, a kind of spotted deer,
antlers like a stag and skin like a fallow deer.  I am in hopes of
getting one or two.  This is a beautiful country to march through, very
long grass and jungle all round; nearly all the hills are of white
marble; and spotted marbles of sorts, and an enormous number of old
forts and temples beautifully ornamented with carvings in marble and
stone.  Some of them are extraordinarily beautiful in form and design
of carving, far superior to anything we see now--and these are
thousands, not hundreds, of years old."


[Sidenote: 1882]

It is difficult to say when Gatacre "found" himself--to use an
expression that Mr. Rudyard Kipling has for ever endowed with
psychological meaning; but there can be no doubt that the shifting
scenes in which he played his part from the time he landed in India, in
August 1880, till he commanded his regiment in June 1884, must have
widened his outlook on life, must have quickened his sense of the
opportunities before him, and have enabled him to gauge his own powers.
India encourages individuality to {43} a very high degree; men live in
small groups in stations that are hundreds of miles apart; in any one
place there is (in a sense) only one man of any one grade, so that the
labourers do not jostle one another, but each has enough elbow-room to
play freely with his tools.

[Sidenote: To Burma]

At the conclusion of his time with General Hardinge in February 1882,
Gatacre was sent to act as Assistant Quarter-Master-General to the
Burmese Division, with headquarters at Rangoon, then under the command
of General H. Prendergast.  The British connection with this
picturesque river-port dates from 1824, when Sir Archibald Campbell
captured it after a feeble resistance.  In the following year, owing to
continued outrages on British subjects and the refusal of the King of
Ava to enter into any treaty obligations with us, a British force
advanced up the Irrawaddy to Prome, and stayed there throughout the
rainy season.  In October the Burmese Army made an organised attempt to
recover the place; but the British forces repulsed the attack, and
followed up the enemy to within four days' march of their capital at
Ava.  At this point the Burmese sued for peace: their apologies were
accepted, and the country was evacuated, except for the sea-board
provinces of Arakan and Tenasserim.  The Province of Pegu was restored
to the Burmese and remained in their hands till 1852, when fresh
outrages and insolence on the part of another Burmese sovereign again
gave rise to hostilities.  At the conclusion of peace Pegu {44} was
formally annexed by Proclamation, while Lord Dalhousie was Viceroy,
under the name of Lower Burma, and Rangoon was made the seat of
government.

Upper Burma was at that time in a deplorable condition; the excesses of
the ruler, who was called Pagan-min, are described as recalling the
worst years of the later Roman Empire.  With a change of dynasty in the
person of Mindon-min, matters improved somewhat.  The new ruler
realised the value of European enterprise and capital; he allowed
strangers of all nations to settle in the country, and protected
travellers and explorers.  A few years later a commercial treaty was
negotiated with Great Britain, a Resident was received, and for his
protection he was allowed a small guard and an armoured boat on the
river.  To commemorate his flourishing reign Mindon founded a new
capital at Mandalay, and in 1874 had himself crowned there to fulfil a
prophecy.

[Sidenote: King Theebaw]

On his death, in September 1878, a terrible tragedy was enacted.
Mindon, being an Oriental, had many wives and many sons; these latter
he had dispersed as rulers of provinces with very good effect.  When
the old king lay dying, one of his wives devised a scheme by which to
secure the succession to Prince Theebaw, for the reason that he was her
son-in-law by his marriage with Supya-lat, her daughter.  With the most
fiendish designs Theebaw and the queen, in the king's name, summoned
all the princes to Mandalay.  They arrived each with {45} his Oriental
retinue of women of all ages.  The royal ladies were lodged in the
prison, which had been cleared for their reception; the princes were
received into the palace.  "Under instructions from the King," a
massacre was perpetrated on the nights of February 15, 16, and 17,
1879.  The queens and princesses and even royal children were done to
death by the "ruffians released for the purpose from the jail which was
now the scene of their cruelties, and their bodies were flung into a
hole already dug in the jail."[1]  The princes were compelled to pass
through a certain doorway in the palace, where each one was in turn cut
down; it is even said that the queen-mother and Supya-lat with their
own hands did the deed.  "Eight cartloads of the bodies of the Princes
of the Blood were conveyed out of the city by the western or 'Funeral
Gate,' and thrown into the river according to custom."


[1] _Parliamentary Papers_ (Burma), 1886.  Quotations from the
_Mandalay Confidential Diary_, by Mr. R. B. Shaw, Resident, of February
19, 1879, and later dates.


It was calculated that some eighty souls thus perished.  Even the
people were horrified.  Our Resident, Mr. Shaw, could do no more than
express with vigour the light in which his Government would regard
these atrocities; but King Theebaw was inaccessible to argument, and
reasserted his right to take "such measures to prevent disturbance as
might be desirable," stating that such acts were in accordance with the
custom of the State, and that he would {46} go his own way without
regard to "censure or blame."[2]


[2] _Parliamentary Papers_ (Burma), 1886.


[Sidenote: 1883]

Owing to further gross outrages, the Resident was driven to fulfil his
threat of breaking off friendly relations with such a ruler; the
British flag was hauled down in August 1879, and the Residency
evacuated.

There were now no governors to keep order in the provinces: dacoits
sprang up, traders were robbed and killed, the people were oppressed,
and the land neglected.  English merchants, however, continued to carry
on their business at their own risk; their boats plied up and down the
broad stream, and it was in their hospitable company that Gatacre spent
Christmas 1882 at Mandalay.


RANGOON, _January_ 11, 1883.

"MY DEAR FATHER,

"I send you a line to tell you my doings up-country at Christmas time.
I was sorry to leave Alice just then, but the opportunity of seeing
Mandalay for nothing was a great temptation.

"We went, a party of six, including myself, most of them merchants.  We
had a steamer to ourselves, and the head of the Irrawaddy Flotilla
Company, a Mr. Swan, who took us, did everything in first-rate style.
The River Irrawaddy is a very difficult one to navigate at this dry
season of the year, owing to the constantly shifting sands.  We did not
get aground, luckily, but we passed several steamers fast on the sands;
they sometimes remain there six months till the river fills and floats
them off.  The steamers only drew 4 ft. 6 in. of water.

{47}

"We took four and a half days altogether to go up to Mandalay, but I
did not join them till the steamer reached Prome, so I had only three
days on board going up.  The country, as far as we could see from the
banks, consists of large rich plains, covered with grass and scrub
jungle; very little cultivation, owing to the poverty of the people,
but if capital was forthcoming the soil would grow anything.  Where the
crops were sown the yield was very large.  There are low ranges of
hills on the right bank, and a highish range, called the Shan
Mountains, on the left bank.

"We were told there was but little game inland; we saw plenty of
wild-fowl, geese, etc.  The poverty of the people is chiefly owing to
the King having started lotteries, which bring him in 10,000 Rs., about
£800, a day.  The people have gone gambling mad, and barter everything
they have for tickets--property, children, everything.  The King ruins
the country by his recklessness in squandering money; he presses the
people to such an extent that an up-country Burman will hardly take the
trouble to make money.

"Mandalay is nothing but a collection of mud huts and a few masonry
buildings, laid out in a beautiful style, all the houses in rows, with
large streets running between each at right angles.  It was laid out by
Italians.  None of the roads are made, so the bullock-carts passing
along them in the rains have cut them up to a frightful extent; and in
the rains they are impassable except quite at the edges, and then only
to pedestrians.  Mandalay was only built twenty-five years ago;
formerly the capital was Ameerapoora, about six miles off, but was
changed to Mandalay by order of the King.  {48} Ameerapoora is a
beautiful site--large trees, grass, and water everywhere.  Some of the
carved pagodas are very beautiful, but going very much to decay.  The
custom is, in Burma, that when a man builds a house or pagoda he only
can repair it, or his relations; the consequence is that in course of
time the building is forgotten and goes to pieces.

"We saw the war-boats on the river; they are long dug-out canoes, a
beautiful shape somewhat like this,[3] generally with a figure-head of
a peacock (their sacred bird).  The canoes are gilt all over, and
manned with eighty to one hundred men; each has a short paddle, and is
armed with a 'dah,' the Burmese knife, a 2 ft. 6 in. blade, with handle
of 8 in. or 12 in.  The canoes go like lightning, driven by the rowers,
who shout all the time.  The Burmese are great boatmen, and their races
on the water are well worth seeing.  They bet tremendously high on them.


[3] See drawing in letter.  [Transcriber's note: this letter was
missing from the source book.]


"The second largest bell in the world is at Mendoon, near Mandalay;
this we went to see.  It is 14 ft. high, and of a most enormous
thickness--about 1 ft. 6 in. I should say.  It was originally suspended
on three enormous teak trees laid on masonry supports, but these have
given way, and now it rests in the ground.  There is also near the bell
the commencement of a very large pagoda.  Some one (I forget who) made
up his mind to build the largest pagoda in the world, so started upon
one.  He got together an extraordinary amount of brick-work, but an
earthquake unfortunately stopped the work by splitting it up in several
places.  It is about 100 yards square and high, so you can imagine the
size of it.  It is built with {49} large red bricks, 2 ft. long by 1
ft. wide by 4 in. thick.

"We stopped in Mandalay two and a half days.  I rode about all over the
place, and found the people very civil, though they are very suspicious
of Englishmen.

"We came down in one and a half days to Prome, where I caught the night
train down, as I had to be back on New Year's Day, my leave being up.
The trip was a most enjoyable one."


[Sidenote: Second-in-command]

The temporary staff billet having run out at the end of 1882, Gatacre
went home on three months' leave early in the following year, and when
he returned in May took up the post of second-in-command of his
regiment, which in those days meant taking command of one wing of the
battalion.  This brought no change of residence, as the 77th were then
quartered in Rangoon.

He joined heartily in everything that was going on, and had, moreover,
interests of his own which lay beyond the field of duty.  The spring
and autumn race-meetings were a great event.  Though he does not seem
to have owned any racing ponies, he was always in request as a jockey.
Every morning he would hack down to the racecourse, and being a light
weight was often asked to give a gallop to the ponies that were in
training.  In a letter of June 1883 he says: "I rode in five races, and
won two, the hurdle race and an open race--the best race of the
meeting--which pleased me."

{50}

There was a steeplechase pony named Free Lance that he rode to victory
many times.  The owner of Free Lance appeared as Mr. Darwood, a
gentleman of Rangoon, of mixed nationality; but I am inclined to think
that Free Lance was in reality the property of King Theebaw, for the
General told me that at one time he had half shares with King Theebaw
in a racing pony, which he rode, and there is no other period to which
this incident could be attached.  I have now in my possession a gold
scarf-pin that King Theebaw sent as a recognition of Gatacre's services
in the matter of this pony.  Although this secret was kept so close
that none of the regimental officers got wind of it, it is not
considered improbable.[4]  It was well known that Gatacre had friends
amongst the leading men of Rangoon, and it is entirely in accordance
with his character that he should have been personally acquainted with
his native neighbours.  Indeed it is not altogether impossible that he
was engaged in some sort of secret intelligence duties for Government,
for he told me that at one time he used to disguise himself and go and
talk in the Native Bazaar, and it is certain that he acquired the
Burmese language, and could even write it to some extent.


[4] As King Theebaw was at that time an independent friendly sovereign,
there is nothing contrary to any regulations in Gatacre's association
with him in this matter.


[Sidenote: Iolanthe]

In the summer of 1882 the regimental officers and others in the station
got up a performance of _Patience_, in which Gatacre {51} figured as
one of the Dragoon Chorus.  In the following year _Iolanthe_ was
produced.  Gatacre was anxious that the audience should include persons
of all nationalities; and in order that those who could not understand
the English words should have some key to the action, he made a précis
of the play, and, having written it in Hindustani characters, had it
lithographed, and distributed with the programmes.  A copy of this
curious document, which covers three sides of foolscap, and is signed
in full, is still to be seen in the scrap-book of the officer who
joined the 77th Regiment for love of his tutor at Sandhurst.

At the end of September Gatacre heard of the birth of his third son,
John Kirwan, now in the 11th Bengal Lancers.

In December 1883 the regiment left Rangoon for Secunderabad.



{52}

CHAPTER IV

1884-1885

SECUNDERABAD

[Sidenote: 1884]

I have read in a recent biography of Alexander Hamilton that "the power
of his intellect was hardly suspected under the ambush of his
extraordinary charm."[1]  This was equally true of Gatacre.  Moreover,
the high standard of his physical endowments was in itself a mask to
his mental abilities; in reality, his physical force was but the
evidence and the result of his intellectual energy.


[1] Alexander Hamilton, by F. S. Oliver, p. 149.


[Sidenote: Camp of exercise]

He turned the whole of his power on to the work in hand; even when
partly disabled, he would not allow himself to be cheated of the
pleasure and opportunity that his work afforded.  Of course the
opportunity that his soul yearned for was active service; he was daily
discovering his own value, and longed to prove himself in the fierce
furnace of war.

The year 1884 opened with the nearest approach to these conditions that
can be contrived without an enemy.  A camp of exercise on a very large
scale was held near Bangalore, {53} at which 10,000 troops were
assembled.  Sir Charles Keyes commanded the First Division, in which
the 77th were included, and General H. Prendergast had command of the
Second Division, with Colonel W. F. Gatacre as
Assistant-Quarter-Master-General.

In spite of the misfortune recorded in Gatacre's own letter given
below, he more than satisfied his General, who writes on June 11, 1909:


"I found him a remarkably clever, zealous, and efficient officer.
During the operations his horse fell, and injured his ankle so that he
could neither ride nor walk, but that did not prevent him from thinking
out and arranging all our plans; though disabled and in great pain, he
would write till two in the morning, and all went well with the
Division, which he accompanied carried on a stretcher, owing to his
devotion."


Below is Gatacre's own account of it all:


HEADQUARTERS 2ND DIVISION,
  CAMP KRISTNARAJAHPUR,

_January_ 27, 1884.

"MY DEAR FATHER,

"I send you a short letter by this mail, but will write at length by
next one, and tell you all about the manoeuvres.  They are over now and
have been most successful.  I have enjoyed them thoroughly, though I
have been most unfortunate.  I told you one of my horses or charger
ponies died of anthrax a few days before leaving Burma (I had just sold
the brute for 600 rupees); and the other charger, which I had had for
two years, and who {54} was a first-rate animal, died of colic the day
after I arrived here.  Fortunately for me a friend of mine was kicked
off his horse a few days after coming here, and hurt a good deal, so he
asked me to ride him, which I have done all through the fortnight's
work.  Though a very fine horse, he, like many walers, was very nervous
and shy, and the last day of the manoeuvring he got nervous in jumping
a nullah, and instead of jumping it he jumped into it, and rolled over
me, giving me a regular flattening out; he has damaged my ankle and
both my knees slightly, and I think it will be at least a month before
I can do anything at all, though I am perfectly well in every way.  The
doctor says that the small bones of the foot are crushed, but that in a
month I shall be all right.  It was very annoying, just at the finish,
wasn't it?  Sir Frederick Roberts came to see me, and said he was very
sorry about it; so did General Hardinge, the C.-in-C. in Bombay; he
came and had a long talk in my tent, and told me all about John and his
regiment.  He thinks a great deal of John, and says his regiment is one
of his best.  Your luminous match-box has furnished lights for all
these big people; it is always on my table; I shall scratch their names
on the back of it.  I wanted to see Sir Frederick Roberts about the
command of the regiment; so I asked to see him in the usual way, and he
sent word to say he would be glad to see me; so I got a litter and went
across.  He was most kind, said he knew all about it, that he would
give his support, and that I need have no doubts on the matter.  He
asked me if I would like a staff appointment; I said I would, but that
I wanted to command the regiment.

"At present the camp has all broken up; {55} my regiment goes
to-morrow, and I go with it.  I have not seen my own regiment since I
came here scarcely; as they were in the 1st Division and I was A.Q.M.G.
of the 2nd Division."


[Sidenote: In command]

On June 24, 1884, Gatacre realised his immediate desire, and succeeded
to the command of the 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment, as the old 77th
had been renamed.

Although nothing occurred during his period of command to distinguish
him from many another equally efficient officer, still a recapitulation
of the qualities which remain in the minds of those who served under
him will give us some idea of what he then was.  I am mainly indebted
for the material for the following sketch of Gatacre as a Commanding
Officer to the kindness of Colonel N. W. Barnardiston, M.V.O., who
writes in July 1909:


"I was adjutant at the time, and never before or since have I served
under a better or more efficient battalion commander, nor have I come
across one during my experience on the staff."


Gatacre was forty years old when he succeeded Colonel Colquhoun; he had
served very little with the regiment, but the time spent on the staff
had added to his professional value.  While his acute perceptions and
easy receptiveness had ripened his judgment on many points, his
simplicity of character and natural integrity remained unimpaired.  He
had downright notions about right and wrong, but was influenced more by
the spirit than by the letter of the {56} bond: he was very just, but
never hard, always showing a lofty sympathy for those in trouble of any
sort, and a tender consideration for their feelings.  There was about
him a curious balance of moral austerity and physical
tenderheartedness; these apparently contradictory qualities both came
into fuller play when in the field.  He taught the regiment to work
with the disinterested spirit that animated himself; to work for the
work's sake: he insisted on every duty being done correctly and
conscientiously and strictly according to regulations.  He never shrank
from the disagreeable duty of rebuke, where the interests of the
service were at stake; but at the same time he never unduly worried his
subordinates, or interfered with their province, and in no way passed
the frontier of his own department.  If he wanted more work, he looked
beyond and not below his own sphere of influence.

Even at this time Gatacre's willingness to accept responsibility and to
undertake troublesome and unexpected tasks was remarkable.  Where some
men might raise objections and fear obstructions when asked, or even
ordered, to get something done that was new or out of the common, he
would welcome the call on his resources, and do his utmost, by
enlisting the goodwill and co-operation of those about him, to carry
the business through.  Later on, one of his colleagues in Poona looked
upon his trick of saying, "No difficulty about that," as evidence of a
very valuable quality; and in {57} the Office in Bombay there was a
joke that the word "impossible" was not allowed.

It was a sign of the lack of vanity in his composition that Gatacre
took so long to find out that there was anything exceptional about
himself, but it is now admitted on all sides that his capacity for work
was far in excess of the average.  According to Mr. G. W. Steevens in
1898, "his body was all steel wire."  He was certainly lean and light;
at sixty he discovered to his great satisfaction that his weight was
the same, ten stone two, as it had been as a subaltern in Peshawur.  In
appearance also he changed very little, looking always about ten years
younger than his age.  His back was short in proportion to the length
of his limbs, which gave the impression of a shorter man than he
measured, but at the same time this was the secret of his graceful seat
on a horse, and of his extraordinary walking powers.  Like the good
horses that he loved to bestride, Gatacre was fast and free, and had
the staying powers of the thorough-bred animal; it was inevitable that
such a one should be sometimes difficult to "follow," and that other
men should occasionally feel that he called upon them for exertions
that were beyond their powers.

His whole heart was in his profession; and with the material that was
now under his hand he developed an aptitude for the practical training
of both officers and men.  Acting on ideas suggested by the recent camp
at Bangalore, {58} he initiated small field-days at Secunderabad, in
which one major with one half-battalion was pitted against another with
the remainder.  This was before the days of staff-rides and annual
camps of exercise, and was so much of a novelty that his adjutant
writes that many of his officers "learnt more of the art of organising
manoeuvres, drawing up schemes, and issuing orders than it was then
possible to do at the Staff College."  Moreover, to accompany Gatacre
on a field-day was a lesson in horsemanship.  He had two capital Arab
ponies, and would often lend the spare one to his adjutant or galloper.
No obstacle stopped him, though sometimes these clever little animals
were expected to move over the most impossible-looking country--craggy
hills, big rocks and boulders, and the steep sides of deep nullahs.  If
really pounded, he would slip off and lead or drive his pony, until at
the earliest moment he would be on its back again.

[Sidenote: 1885]

His gift for administration was further exercised in perfecting the
regulations for the rapid turn-out of the Movable Column which had its
base at Secunderabad: every little detail was most carefully thought
out on the lines of a far larger mobilisation, and every man knew
exactly where he had to go, and what he had to do, whenever he should
hear the "Alarm."

If he was impatient of laziness or shirking, he was, on the other hand,
generous in his appreciation of honest work.  He made it a practice to
help good men to get forward.  There were at that time in India a large
number of {59} extra-regimental appointments open to non-commissioned
officers.  The natural training-ground for such aspirants was in the
orderly room, but few commanding officers cared to part with a man who
had just become really competent in his particular job and valuable to
themselves; with the result that the more promising and ambitious young
fellows were unwilling to serve.  But during Gatacre's reign the plan
was reversed: if a good man, no matter what his duties were, or how
difficult he would be to replace, applied for a suitable and desirable
position outside the regiment, Gatacre would heartily support the
application.  Very soon there were plenty of keen young soldiers eager
to qualify for billets which were the sure road to advancement.  When
as a General Officer he had the opportunity of pushing forward
promising young officers, he acted on the same principle; he was always
ready to train, but never hesitated to let others reap the harvest that
he had sown.

Thus in a hundred ways the Colonel built up a reputation for kindness,
efficiency, originality, and power: and we are not surprised to read
that "his period of command was a very happy one for the 77th."

In April 1885 the far-reaching consequences of the Russian scare made
themselves felt at Secunderabad, where the following telegram was
received:


"Warn for service the 2nd Middlesex Regiment and 24th Madras Native
Infantry.  Detail hereafter."


{60}

The excitement was intense.  No officer was allowed to leave his
bungalow for a walk without saying in which direction he was going.  To
Gatacre the idea of leading his regiment into action must have
presented visions of endless opportunities, and those who knew him must
always regret that he had no chance to display as a regimental officer
that personal valour and forwardness under fire for which, as a General
Officer, he has been subjected to so much criticism.

This state of expectant commotion lasted for six weeks, and then all
hopes were quenched, for on May 26 official intimation reached the
Commanding Officer that:


"War with Russia having been averted, the regiment need no longer hold
itself in readiness for active service."


This was the second time that he had had to bury his disappointment,
and again a third time was it to happen.

[Sidenote: D.Q.M.G.]

It was clear to all that before long there would be another Burmese
War.  The grievances of Europeans against King Theebaw had gone on
accumulating: diplomatic efforts had entirely failed to secure
attention or redress, the patience of the Foreign Office was at an end,
and the Government of India was directed to prepare an expeditionary
force to march on Mandalay, and thereby to teach King Theebaw that he
could not afford to flout the British Government.  This {61} mission
was entrusted to General Prendergast.  Gatacre volunteered to come down
and help his former Chief in the embarkation of the troops at Madras
for Rangoon.  Having proved his value as a staff officer, and having
heard of his previous journey to Mandalay, Prendergast was most anxious
to take Gatacre with him; but all the posts had been filled, and to the
General's "grievous disappointment and much to the disadvantage of the
Government," the application to take him as Military Secretary or
Special Transport Officer was refused, and Gatacre had to be content
with the thanks of the Government of India for his services in the
embarkation of troops which he was not permitted to accompany.[2]


[2] _Proceedings of Government_, No. 6502, November 17, 1885.


[Sidenote: Secunderabad]

In a later chapter we shall follow the fortunes of the Expedition, but
for the moment all thought of Burma was swept out of Gatacre's mind by
the prospect of serving on the Headquarters Staff of the army.  On
November 24, 1885, the following telegrams were exchanged:


"If agreeable to you, Sir Frederick proposes to recommend you to
Government as Deputy Quarter-Master-General; you will have to join at
once if Government approve."


To which this reply was sent:


"I gratefully accept His Excellency's offer; am ready to go anywhere."


On December 11 the following Farewell Order was issued:


{62}

"Lieutenant-Colonel Gatacre wishes the Battalion farewell.

"He thanks the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men for the way
in which they have zealously and loyally carried out his orders during
the short eighteen months he has had the honour of commanding them, and
will always take the deepest interest in their welfare.

"He especially thanks his regimental staff, viz. Lieutenant and
Adjutant N. W. Barnardiston, and Captain and Quarter-Master Hunt, for
their good service as Adjutant and Quarter-Master respectively, and
Lieutenant Savile and Lieutenant Burton, who have on many occasions
officiated in their capacities.

"He wishes the 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment many happy New Years,
and success wherever they go."



{63}

CHAPTER V

1885-1889

BLACK MOUNTAIN EXPEDITION

Sir Frederick Roberts succeeded Sir Donald Stewart as
Commander-in-Chief in India in 1885.  After short leave home the new
Chief returned just in time to preside over a great concentration of
troops near Delhi in December of that year.  It was the biggest thing
of the sort that had yet been attempted; the manoeuvres occupied about
three weeks, and concluded on January 8, 1886, with a Grand Review in
which about 35,000 men took part.  It would have been a splendid sight,
had it not been spoilt by a deluge of rain.  The Viceroy, Lord
Dufferin, was on parade, and it was afterwards suggested that it was
the firing of his salute that had brought down the rain.  Anyhow, just
as his flag was run up, the storm burst and the rain pitilessly poured
down on the columns of men as they carried out the unaltered programme
of the day.  The march-past occupied six hours.  According to an
eye-witness, the "trot-past of cavalry and artillery in spite of
everything was magnificent, and could have been performed {64} by no
other troops....  The Viceroy sat on his horse through the rain with
exemplary patience, and we only hope that he will be none the worse."

General Chapman[1] had just taken up the post of
Quarter-Master-General, and first saw his Deputy at this camp.  Gatacre
seems from the outset to have made a good impression on his Chief, who
describes him in a letter from Delhi as "a man of active intelligence,
quick and ready to do anything, a good rider, and a popular man."


[1] Now General Sir Edward Chapman, K.C.B.


[Sidenote: At Headquarters]

It is the province of the Deputy to take charge of the office in which
he is working--that is, to acquaint himself with all that is going on
in the department and to know all the staff and the clerks personally.
On his arrival at Headquarters Gatacre rapidly gathered up all the
threads of his new work, and made himself more and more valuable to his
Chief; while from his own point of view he used to say that it was at
this time that he learnt how to put a finish to his work in the office,
and to appreciate the scope and importance to the army at large of the
individual work done at Headquarters.  As is often the case after a
campaign, there was much important reorganisation worked out during the
next few years; new schemes of training, housing and surveying, were
initiated and carried out.  From the inside of the
Quarter-Master-General's office Gatacre could in a short time get a
comprehension of many points of {65} army administration such as a
lifetime in the field would fail to give.

[Sidenote: 1886]

During the winter months the Commander-in-Chief goes on tour,
accompanied by a few staff officers: sometimes the
Quarter-Master-General would go himself and leave Gatacre in charge,
sometimes it was the other way round.  One year when the Q.M.G. was
making an extended tour, Mrs. Chapman was much pleased at getting a
visit from Colonel Gatacre every morning as he went down to office.  In
response to her appreciation of these attentions he averred that he
looked upon her as part of the office, and must see that all was well.

The two men were associated in this department for more than three
years, and by the time that General Chapman had to resign (owing to bad
health) a fast friendship had sprung up between them, one from which
"the all-assuming months and years" have taken no part.  On hearing of
his friend's death in 1906 General Chapman wrote:


"A more loyally devoted assistant I could not have found, active,
untiring, and self-sacrificing; the public service and the interests of
others were always before him.  His gallantry and forwardness on
service were acknowledged by all, but it was late in life that he so
distinguished himself.  I recall chiefly the straight-forwardness and
honesty of his help and advice, and remember his never-failing and
cheery support whenever we had a difficulty to face."


Owing to the illness of the Quarter-Master-General, {66} Gatacre
accompanied the Commander-in-Chief on two long tours in the spring of
1886.  On the first he saw many places of great historical interest,
such as Cawnpore, Futtehghur, Lucknow; and in the second he was taken
to Peshawur and Lundi Kotal, where many interesting problems of
frontier defence were discussed on the ground.  For two months in 1886
he officiated as Quarter-Master-General, pending the arrival of Sir
William Lockhart, who was to act for General Chapman while away on long
leave.

[Sidenote: 1887]

Christmas was spent at Calcutta, and early in 1887 Gatacre was again on
the move.  During this year he was twice entrusted with an independent
mission; in March he accompanied the Chief on his official visit to
Peshawur, Kohat, Rawulpindi, and Quetta, and was afterwards sent to
survey and report upon the proposed line for a military road from
Loralai in Beluchistan to Dera Ghazi Khan on the Indus.  His abstract
of daily work shows that he was out all day exploring and surveying.
His report shows that he thoroughly investigated all questions relating
to the water supply and the area of the camping-grounds on the road,
and deals with many questions as to the safety and comfort of the
working parties and their guards.  Although the country to be explored
covered 183 miles, he worked with such celerity that the work was
completed in thirteen days.

[Sidenote: On tour]

Writing from Bannu a week or two later he finds time to send a
comprehensive account of his doings:

{67}

"I think I wrote you last from Loralai, beyond Quetta to the east:
well, from there I explored a new road which is to run through Mekhtar,
Kingri, Rukni, to Dera Ghazi Khan on the Indus.  It has been approved,
and is to be carried out at once; as in the event of troops moving up
towards Kandahar, it would be the route along which all our regiments
and stores from the Punjab would move.  The country is a wild one at
present, savage, with no cultivation or inhabitants, except a few
robbers: but the lie of the road is good, and the gradients are easy.
Of course a made road will draw the large Kafilas of camels with
merchandise from one end to the other, and as the roads will be under
our protection the native merchants will gladly use it, and this will
gradually people the various halting-places, and so settle the country
by degrees.  There was much game along the route; markhor, a large goat
with splendid horns; gud, a large sheep with very large curly horns,
wolves and small game, hares, partridges, wood-pigeons, etc.  I had
very little time for shooting, but shot one markhor and much small game
here and there as I came across it; but as I had a lot of surveying to
do all day, I had no time to make excursions after game alone, though I
should much have liked to have had a turn with Stephen in some of the
hills through which I passed.  You would have been delighted with the
country in some places, something like Scotland with fewer trees and
more sun, but comparatively cool for India.  The only disagreeable
thing about it is the general want of water and the number of poisonous
snakes.  Water is found only in certain streams and in single springs,
and is very valuable.  Of course, any good road which is {68} required
has to follow the line of water, but the rivers commence to flow at any
point in the river-bed, and after becoming a rushing torrent, disappear
as suddenly as they arose, into the ground and are seen no more; where
they go to no one knows, but you may seek in vain further down the bed
of the river and not find water.  In some cases the water reappears in
the stream ten miles lower down, and disappears again as before.  The
snakes are everywhere, and it was a few days before I left Khur that a
young engineer named Hackman was bitten.  I saw his death in
yesterday's paper.  I killed several cobras while marching, I am glad
to say."


In November of the same year he was sent on a similar mission to
Sikkim.  It was discovered that a private treaty had been signed by
which the Rajah had declared that Sikkim was subject only to China and
Tibet, thus repudiating the British suzerainty.  By way of preparation
for an expedition to settle this question Gatacre was sent up to report
upon the road over the Jelap-La along which troops would move on to
Lingtu, the capital of Sikkim.  Though it was at that time held by a
hostile force of Tibetans, he approached near enough to sketch the fort
at Lingtu.  His report and his sketches were afterwards incorporated
with other matter in a blue-book dealing with the affairs of Sikkim.
Sir Thomas Graham asserts that the information set down was of great
value to him when in the following spring he led a force into Lingtu
and brought the incident to a satisfactory conclusion.

{69}

[Sidenote: At Simla]

In a letter to his father from Simla of September 1887 Gatacre relates
the following story:


"Did I tell you I was nearly polished off by a madman with a revolver?
He shot two men he came across, then got on to a rock and defied the
crowd, but I got a stick and went for him, to prevent his doing more
mischief.  He warned me not to come near him, but I spoke to him in his
own language, and never took my eyes off him, and when he was going to
have a shot at me he suddenly changed his mind and blew a hole in his
breast about three or four inches in diameter.  The fact was he was not
quite sure whether he had a spare round for himself, and these
fanatical fellows always destroy themselves after doing as much
mischief as they are able; when he shot himself I was just within reach
of him, but too late to knock the pistol out of his hands."


This incident attracted a good deal of attention at the time, as the
murderer was the personal servant of a resident member of the United
Service Club.  He had begun by shooting at another servant, and
inflicted a mortal wound; the next shot struck the chowkidar, or
caretaker, in the arm.  Gatacre then appeared on the scene and played
the part he describes.


There is another story told of him that belongs to this same year.

On September 27 Lady Dufferin gave a ball at Government House; all the
world was there and Gatacre among them.  As was his invariable habit,
he stayed to the end, and early in the {70} morning told a friend that
he was just starting for a ride to Umballa, but would be back in office
the next day.  To accomplish this design he had arranged for ponies to
be in readiness at the various stages along the Old Road from Simla to
Umballa, which is a distance of ninety-seven miles, descending about
6,000 ft. from the mountains to the plains.  As far as Kalka they were
hired ponies, from there to Umballa he had borrowed mounts from a
friend, using nine ponies each way.  Leaving Simla at 5.15 a.m., he
reached Umballa at 2.30 that afternoon.  At 4 o'clock he started back
and dismounted at Simla again at 3.5 a.m.  That is to say, after
dancing till daybreak, he covered little short of two hundred miles in
twenty-two hours, and turned up again at 10 o'clock ready and fit for
his office work as usual.

It is unnecessary to seek for any pretext for such exertion; the fun of
the rapid ride, the desire to excel, were quite sufficient stimulus for
him.  He told the newspapers at the time that he wanted to show what
office men could do.

But before very long he was to have an opportunity of putting these
powers to more practical uses.  In September 1888 Gatacre and two of
his colleagues on the Headquarter Staff were given posts on the Hazara
Field Force, then concentrating near Abbottabad.

[Sidenote: Hazara border]

After the Mutiny the Hazara and Peshawur borders became "a
rallying-point for mutinous Sepoys and traitors in arms who had to flee
from British justice."  There was in particular {71} a sect known as
the Sittana Fanatics, who continued to stir up coalitions against our
power, as they had previously done against our Sikh predecessors in the
Punjab.  An expedition under Sir Sydney Cotton in 1858 advanced into
the mountains, drove the Hindustani fanatics from Sittana, destroyed
their forts, razed their dwellings to the ground, and extorted an
undertaking from the neighbouring tribes that the rebels should not be
allowed a passage through their territory.

[Sidenote: 1888]

Although the centre of disturbance was thus forced back at the point of
the sword to Malka, it was not long before numerous raids on unarmed
traders, and other outrages, brought the peace of the frontier again
into question.  Our allies were either unable or unwilling to carry out
their pledges, and in 1863 Sir Neville Chamberlain led a force through
the Ambeyla Defile.  This expedition differed from the others in that
all the contiguous tribes were in a state of disaffection, and on this
account there was more fighting than in the previous punitive
expeditions.  The story of the repeated capture and loss of the Eagle's
Nest and Crag Picquet still makes brave reading, and afforded moreover
most satisfactory proof of the loyalty of our reorganised Native Army.
It was noted with satisfaction in 1888 that very few of the Hindustani
fanatics were to be found in the ranks of the enemy, showing that the
lesson of 1863 was more lasting in its effect than the others had been.
The policy of the Government {72} had never altered; in every case the
tribe was informed--


"That the British Government did not covet their possessions, nor those
of other neighbouring tribes, with whom it desired to be at peace; but
that it expected tribes would restrain individual members from
committing unprovoked outrages on British subjects, and afford redress
when they are committed; that when a whole tribe, instead of affording
redress, seeks to screen the individual offenders, the British
Government has no alternative but to hold the whole tribe
responsible."[2]


[2] _A Record of the Expeditions against the North-West Frontier
Tribes_, by Paget and Mason (1884), p. 41.


The enforcing of this principle has led to the numerous little wars
that have afforded the opportunities for distinction to all ranks of
which the personnel of an army is so quick to avail itself.  Each
expedition has usually been of a few weeks' duration only; sometimes
there was very little actual fighting; sometimes there was very little
political gain; but always there has been a story of hardship and
valour.

The Hazara Field Force of 1888 was mobilised for the punishment of
certain tribes inhabiting the slopes of the Black Mountain, a region
lying on the left bank of the Indus, north of Abbottabad.  It was some
years since we had had a reckoning with Hassanzais and Akazais in
particular, and they had been showing increased insolence in their
attitude and daring in their raids.

{73}

[Sidenote: Battye killed]

A sufficient occasion was all that was needed to bring about open
hostility, and this was afforded by the tribesmen themselves on June
18, 1888.  On that day Colonel Battye and Captain Urmston conducted a
route-march with some three score Goorkhas from the frontier post at
Oghi; they had gone perhaps a little nearer to the frontier than was
quite expedient, but it was afterwards shown that they had never
actually left British territory.  When about ten miles from Oghi, they
were fired at from two points simultaneously.  Colonel Battye ordered
the Goorkhas to rush a ridge just ahead on which they could make a
stand.  The ridge was secured, but, unfortunately, the two British
officers turned back to help a wounded man, and, while they were thus
separated from the troops, both were cut down with swords.  The Subadar
(native officer) at once took command, though one arm had been disabled
by a blow from a stone, and a bullet had gone through his thigh, and
his head was streaming with blood.  He collected the party, and marched
back to the spot where the two officers had fallen.  Keeping up a
spirited fire to drive back the tribesmen, he succeeded in recovering
both bodies, and brought the whole party back into camp at 8.30 that
night.  This man, Subadar Kishnbir Nagar Koti, had already gained the
Order of Merit three times in the Kabul Campaign.[3]


[3] See _Civil and Military Gazette_, June 1888.


As the Headman of the tribe refused to hand over the offenders, the
Government was driven {74} to avenge this outrage by sending an armed
force into the country of the Hassenzais and Akazais, who were held
responsible.

[Sidenote: Hazara Field Force]

This force, which numbered about 8,000 men, was organised in four
columns, each formed of one British and two native regiments.  A
peculiar feature of this force was that no regiment was allowed to send
more than six hundred men, which was a device to ensure the selection
of a picked body of men.  The late Sir John McQueen, who was then
commanding the Punjab Frontier Force, was given command of the
expedition, and Colonel W. F. Gatacre was appointed his Chief Staff
Officer.  This was naturally a moment of the liveliest satisfaction and
anticipation for him.  At last he found himself on active service; at
last he was to face the ordeal for which he had been training for
twenty-six years.

Three of the columns marched out of Oghi on October 2, twenty-four
hours' grace having been allowed beyond the time named in the ultimatum
sent to the Maliks of the tribes.  No. 4 Column, under
Brigadier-General Galbraith,[4] had assembled at Derband on the River
Indus, and was known throughout the campaign as the River Column; its
function was to prevent any trans-Indus tribes moving eastwards across
the river to join their neighbours, and it was hoped that the area of
hostilities could thus be confined to those spurs of the Black Mountain
where lay the heart of the disaffection.


[4] The late Sir William Galbraith, K.C.B.]


[Illustration: COLONEL W. F. GATACRE, D.S.O., 1888.]

{75}

The main mass of the Black Mountain lies in a curve of the River Indus
between Thakot and Arab.  To the north and west its slopes are cut into
ridges which descend precipitously into the deep gorge of the river; to
the east the eye rests on a bewildering succession of pine-clad
mountain ranges, till, stretching over the vale of Kashmir, it reaches
the line of eternal snows.

The three mountain columns met with little opposition as they made
their way up the spurs overlooking the Agror Valley.  The Headquarter
Camp was established at Khaim Gali, near the summit of the range, and
from that point General McQueen directed the movements against the
various villages.  After about a fortnight General Channer, commanding
No. 1 Column, was able to open up communication with General Galbraith
in the valley below, at Kunhar.  The latter at the outset had met with
some slight opposition at Kotkai, resulting in the loss of two officers
and five men, but had since made considerable progress up the river,
and had moreover come to an understanding with the tribes in his
immediate neighbourhood.  The mountainous nature of the country made it
extremely difficult to secure unity of action in the two regions.  It
became imperative that General McQueen should know what General
Galbraith had done and had promised.  To effect this purpose Gatacre
offered to make his way down on foot to Kunhar, where the River Column
had its headquarters.

{76}

[Sidenote: Visits Galbraith]

By this time he was fairly well acquainted with the lie of the country,
for he had been out daily with the columns, and, according to his
colleague, Major Elles,[5] "had worked harder than any man in the
force."  He must have known that the direct descent from the ridge on
which the Headquarter Camp at Khaim Gali was situated was a series of
precipices.  Taking the figures given on a map compiled for the
expedition of 1891, the elevation of Khaim Gali is 8,680 ft., while the
camp at Kunhar in the Indus valley is 1,560 ft., which means a clear
descent of 7,120 ft. in a horizontal distance of less than five miles,
though the distance actually marched worked out at fourteen miles.
Major Elles accompanied Colonel Gatacre, and they took an escort of
fifty Khybari Rifles.  The party left camp at 6 a.m., and reached
Kunhar at noon.  Although it was then October, the sun had great power
in the middle of the day; the narrow valleys down which they crept were
very stuffy, and as they approached the end of the journey the air
became very close and oppressive.  Major Elles confesses that he felt
the sun very much, was tired out, and "could not have attempted the
climb back again that day.  But nothing," he says, "seemed to tire
Gatacre, who was the hardest man I ever met.  He neither drank nor
smoked, and ate very little."


[5] Now Lieut.-General Sir Edmond Elles, G.C.I.E., K.C.B.


After settling the business that was the motif of the journey, and
partaking of the hospitality of the River Column headquarter mess,
Gatacre {77} announced his intention of starting back at 2 o'clock.
The men who acted as escort were dismayed at the Colonel Sahib's
startling decision; indeed, only half of them were capable of setting
off at once, but these insisted on being allowed to do so.  Half-way up
the mountain they were dead-beat; and as a small party able to take
their place had been accidentally met with, the services of the
newcomers were impressed, and Gatacre proceeded.  It is a question for
mountaineers whether the descent or the ascent was the more trying to a
man's muscular system, and a question for Anglo-Indians whether the sun
is hotter in the forenoon or the afternoon; anyhow, it must have been
fairly fierce at 2 p.m. in the deep gorge of the Indus, and to have
reached Khaim Gali again the same evening was an achievement worthy of
mention in despatches.  We are told that the first part of the ascent
was very precipitous for about 2,500 ft., and impracticable even for
mule carriage; the next 1,500 ft. was nothing but a succession of
steps.  Farther on, the line lay across terraced cultivation, which
involved climbing up the walls supporting the fields, and walking
across the soft plough which they enclosed, while throughout the march
there were "passages which were impossible for anything but a goat."

At 11 p.m. that same night Gatacre marched into the Headquarter Camp at
Khaim Gali, the only man who had completed the double journey.  The two
marches had occupied six hours and nine hours respectively, and two
hours only had {78} been spent in the triple business of negotiation,
refreshment, and repose.

This feat did not pass unnoticed at the time.  The editor of the _Broad
Arrow_ of October 20, 1888, says:


"The story is suggestive of physical endurance and courage, and may be
read with profit by fireside warriors and cynical philosophers upon the
decline of the British officer."


[Sidenote: Active service]

Such an exchange of views between a confidential messenger from
Headquarters and the officer commanding a column operating
independently must always have great military value to the commander of
an expedition, and it is evident that the consultation in this case was
not without result, for in despatches we read that the first phase of
the operations reached its conclusion on October 20.  The Akazais and
Hassanzais made complete submission, and by the end of the month had
paid their fines in full.  The object of the second phase was the
coercion on similar lines of the Parari Saiads and Tikariwals.  In the
same way this involved much marching and counter-marching over the same
"exigeant" class of country.  Although there was scarcely any fighting,
doubtless all those who took part in these operations learned many of
the supplementary lessons of war which no manoeuvres can ever teach.  A
British officer in a Goorkha regiment tells us how he learned one of
these lessons from Gatacre himself.

The Brigade had just reached its {79} camping-ground: there had been a
very arduous and hot march, finishing with a stiff climb up-hill.  The
Goorkha officer had flung himself on the ground, feeling dead-beat,
when Gatacre rode up, and began making inquiry as to the water supply
of the camp.

"Who is the Quarter-Master of this regiment?" he asked.

"I am, sir," said the officer, struggling to his feet.

"What has been done to secure the water supply from contamination?"

"Nothing, sir."

"I must have a guard put over it at once.  Where is the spring?"

The spring was a thousand feet below.  The commanding officer of the
regiment, coming upon the scene, protested that his officer had only
just come up.

"Never mind," said Gatacre.  "It is of the utmost importance.  I order
you as Quarter-Master to go down and see that a sufficient guard is put
round the spring, and that the animals are kept at a proper distance."

Much against his inclination the officer set about carrying out this
injunction.  On his arrival at the spring he saw the urgency of the
order he was sent down to execute, and confessed the justice of the
call upon his further exertions.  Soldiers, bheesties, and animals were
crowding round the pool, which, fed by a small spring, was the only
water supply for the Brigade.  He quickly restored order, made
arrangements for {80} the watering of the different units, and, by thus
securing the purity of the head-water, eliminated the chance of fever
to thousands of men.

[Sidenote: 1888-9]

On October 28 General Channer occupied Thakot without resistance; on
November 7 a deputation from the Parari Saiads came in and made full
submission, as the Tikariwals had done already.  On November 12 the
Hazara Field Force began to disperse, having been under arms for six
weeks.  The casualties to the whole force amounted to twenty-seven men
killed, fifty-nine wounded, and eight who had died of disease, showing
that, from a military point of view, it was essentially a minor
campaign.  Moreover, politically, the results were inconclusive, but to
Gatacre it was the field on which he had won his spurs: "the loyal
support and valuable aid" that he had afforded his Chief were now for
ever recorded; his initiative, energy, and physical powers had been
proved in the field; his possession of military ability and soldierly
qualities in a marked degree was now established.

It is difficult to understand why he was awarded the Distinguished
Service Order, which had been newly created as a recognition of the
services of junior officers in the field, while his rank as substantive
colonel in the army fully qualified him for a Companionship of the
Bath; but so it was.  Seven years had yet to run before the latter
decoration was awarded, after the Chitral Campaign.

[Sidenote: Safe home]

Colonel Gatacre and Major Elles did not return {81} direct to
Headquarters on the disbanding of the force, but made an extended march
down the Indus, and reached Calcutta early in December.  When writing
his Christmas greeting to his father, Gatacre says:


"We are all returned safely from the Black Mountain, and I must say I
for one thoroughly enjoyed myself; it was rough going, of course, but
the climate was good, and there was plenty of outdoor exercise--such a
pleasant change after the office life."


After another summer spent at Simla, Gatacre was sent in October 1889
to act for Sir George Wolseley, who was then commanding the Mandalay
Brigade.  Throughout the three and a half years that he had served with
the Headquarter Staff, much of the work in the Quarter-Master-General's
office had had reference to the welfare of the troops which since
November 1885 had been operating in Upper Burma.  Gatacre had taken
moreover a personal interest in the success and well-being of the Army
of Occupation, for his brother John had been serving there in command
of his regiment, the 23rd Bombay Infantry.

The events which had occurred since Gatacre first visited Mandalay in
1883 will be dealt with in the next chapter.



{82}

CHAPTER VI

1889-1890

MANDALAY

It was with difficulty that the British Government had lived so long at
peace with Theebaw, King of Burma.  In 1883 he sent a mission to
Europe, ostensibly to study western civilisation, but it was recognised
that in reality he was making advances to the French Government, who
were of course our neighbours on the east, in Siam.  There was also
friction over the demarcation of the Manipur frontier on the west, but
the actual ground for the outbreak of hostilities arose over a
commercial question.  An English trading company found that King
Theebaw had sold over again to the French the rights over some forest
lands for which the company had paid seven years' tolls in advance.
The High Court of Mandalay upheld their sovereign's proceedings, so
that the corporation were driven to appeal to the British Government to
vindicate their claims.  King Theebaw, however, flatly refused to
discuss the matter with the Chief Commissioner of Lower Burma.  The
British Government welcomed the occasion to {83} send an ultimatum to
King Theebaw "which aimed at a settlement of all the main matters in
dispute between the two Governments,"[1] and simultaneously instructed
Sir Harry Prendergast to prepare a force to march on Mandalay.


[1] _Parliamentary Papers_ (Burma), 1886.


A defiant answer having been returned by the King, orders for the
advance were issued.  A fleet of transports was escorted by a few
vessels from the Royal Navy up the Irrawaddy.  On November 14, 1885, at
a point about twenty-eight miles beyond our frontier post at Thayetmyo,
the forts at Minhla barred the passage of the river.  Our naval guns
then opened fire with good effect, and when the troops landed there was
no resistance.

[Sidenote: Theebaw surrenders]

The advance continued, and ten days later a similar engagement took
place about seven miles from Ava.  After the naval guns had silenced
the enemy's artillery, the Hampshire Regiment was landed, and drove the
defenders from their entrenchments.  At 4 p.m. on November 24 a royal
state barge appeared bearing a flag of truce, and a message that the
King "was well disposed in mind and heart."[2]  To this a reply was
sent that nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the King and
his capital would satisfy the British Government, and that the response
must be received within twelve hours.


[2] Despatch dated January 13, 1886.


The picturesqueness of the scene was so irresistible that even the
official despatch breaks into description of the "far-famed city of
Ava, {84} with its mouldering monasteries and decaying walls.  On the
banks are batteries bristling with guns, and parapets alive with
scarlet-clad soldiers," etc., etc.

King Theebaw's reply was received by the time specified, and when
translated was found to express a frame of mind that was acceptable to
the invaders.  The subsequent advance from Ava was therefore unopposed,
and on November 28 British troops made their way peacefully through the
streets of Mandalay.  In the afternoon of the next day the King and his
Queens and a suitable retinue were conveyed on board a steamer and
transported to Rangoon, _en route_ to India.  As a compliment to their
former estate, the escort was detailed from the Royal Navy.  It is said
that Supya-lat offered violent resistance to this deportation, saying
that she would prefer death or any fate at the hands of the Englishmen
to life as a state prisoner with her husband.  But she had to conform.

By Proclamation on January 1, 1886, Upper Burma was declared a part of
the British Empire, and the Chief Commissioner, Sir Charles Bernard,
transferred his headquarters from Rangoon to Mandalay.

[Sidenote: Dacoity]

Sir Harry Prendergast had completed his task in the occupation of the
capital, but the subjugation of the vast province of Upper Burma,
covering about 100,000 square miles, was a very different matter.  The
collapse of the Civil Government and the disbanding of the native army
led to a state of anarchy.  Pretenders sprang {85} up who were
exploited by enterprising ex-officers, and became leaders of the
various bands of dacoits that infested the land.  These armed bands
were a terror to the people, for they lived on the country and robbed
and looted freely but it was not till we had won the confidence of the
peaceable peasants that they would venture to give us information as to
the whereabouts of their enemies.  The fact that there was no cohesion
or community of interest between these marauders made them the more
troublesome to suppress, as each one had to be dealt with separately.
The pacification of the country was entrusted to Sir George White with
a force of three infantry brigades.  But as there was no national party
in arms against him, so there was no organised resistance; the enemy
were not soldiers, but a lawless rabble led by brigands.

In his report of this work in a country which he describes as "one vast
military obstacle," he says:


"The actual resistance offered to our troops was not very trying to
disciplined well-armed soldiers, but small bodies of these soldiers
have often had to stand up against bands whose numbers were estimated
in thousands.  Between April 1 and July 31 over one hundred affairs
took place, and few days elapsed without the occurrence of fighting in
some part of the newly acquired province."[3]


[3] See _Despatch_, July 17, 1886.


After a time it was found possible partially {86} to replace the
soldiers by specially recruited armed military police, who were thickly
distributed in all the disturbed districts; and gradually the more
peaceable inhabitants realised that every time a military raid was
organised there would be a smaller number of thieves and robbers left
in the land.

When the bulk of Sir George White's expeditionary force was withdrawn,
Brigadier-General George Wolseley, who had been commanding the Mandalay
Brigade, assumed the command of the permanent garrison.  It was as his
substitute that Gatacre held the post from October 1889 to October
1890, with a few weeks' interval in the spring.  Gatacre had been
nearly four years in the same office on the Headquarter Staff, and his
letters show that after the departure of General Chapman in April 1889
he was anxiously watching for some new opening for himself.  The change
to an independent command was very welcome, and not less so was the
change from the social life of Headquarters to the wild simplicity of
Upper Burma.  The military direction of such a vast and unsettled
province would provide scope for administration and opportunity for
personal exertion--would, in short, afford all the arduous duties in
which Gatacre found his delight.

[Sidenote: Fort Dufferin]

The ancient citadel of Mandalay is now called Fort Dufferin.  It
consists of a vast quadrilateral enclosure, in the centre of which
stands the palace, surrounded by gardens and a high teak-wood stockade.
The walls are 10 ft. thick {87} and 29 ft. high; each side of the
square is a mile and a quarter in length; at regular intervals there
are gates leading to bridges over a moat that is more than 200 ft.
wide.  Along the walls are numerous picturesque watch-houses with
little seven-roofed pagodas over each gate.  These buildings provided
quarters and offices for both the civil and military departments.

Sir Charles Crosthwaite, who was Chief Commissioner of Burma when
Gatacre took up the command, writes:


"I lived in one of the pagoda erections over a gate in the Mandalay
wall, and there was a long flight of steps leading up to my rooms.  I
can see Sir William now flying up the steps and rushing down them,
after he had seen me, and vaulting on to his horse.  He was
indefatigable."[4]


[4] August 18, 1909.


The reception rooms in the palace itself were fitted up as a club for
the officers of the garrison.  Some men were playing whist there one
evening in November 1889, when Gatacre came in, and going up to one of
the players asked him if he knew anything about transport.  The
officer, busy with his cards, replied "Not a damn!" which elicited the
unexpected response:

"Will you be my transport officer?"

When the hand was finished the subaltern turned round, and for the
first time perceived who was speaking to him.

"I am afraid you are chaffing me, sir."

{88}

"Not at all.  The last two transport officers I have had knew
everything--one could not teach them anything.  Are you willing to
learn?"

That officer did his best to learn, and remained Gatacre's transport
officer till his regiment left the station.  He remembers especially
his General's friendly manner, tells us how the dignity and power of
his personality enabled him to dispense with the formalities of his
position, and to do things which in other men might have resulted in
undue familiarity.  There was an arrangement by which the other staff
officer carried on the work in the office, while the transport officer
accompanied the General on all his tours.  It is to this officer that
we are indebted for the following story.

[Sidenote: Maymyo]

About forty miles from Mandalay there is a little hill-station called
Maymyo, at an elevation of 3,500 ft.  It is now full of red-brick
buildings, and is the headquarters of the Lieutenant-General commanding
the Burma Division, and there is a railway up from Mandalay which runs
on to Lashio.  But in 1889 Maymyo was but a collection of huts and
tents, and the road that led thither was not only execrable to travel
on, but infested with robbers.  However, it served as a sanatorium, and
the sick folk from Mandalay had to brave the dangers of the road.  The
transport officer had been spending a month at Maymyo with his wife,
and, having met with exceptional difficulties in making his journey
down, was very much alive to its discomforts.  Only two days before
another party had been {89} attacked, their native driver killed, and
their kit dacoited.

When they met next morning the General told the officer to lay a dak to
Maymyo, as he intended going there next day.  The thought of doing that
journey again so soon was most distasteful, but the officer only asked:

"What time do we start?"

"There is no 'we' in it.  You don't go.  I am going alone."

"That's ridiculous!" followed on, with such simplicity and directness
that both broke into laughter.

The idea was ridiculous, but it was carried out.  The subaltern's pride
of office was wounded by his being thus set on one side, but when he
realised that it was done out of consideration to himself, and that no
one else was taken, he could not but be satisfied.  Risk and exertion
were like magnets to draw Gatacre; he went alone, dispensing even with
an orderly.  The fastest and most active ponies were always sent out
for the General's use, and it would have been difficult to find man and
beast to keep up with him when on such an excursion.  He must have made
a very early start, for he rode forty miles up into the mountains,
inspected the detachment of the Madras Native Infantry quartered there,
and returned in time to dine with the Chief Commissioner.  There he met
Sir Frederick Fryer, to whom he related his day's work.  It afterwards
transpired that two of the ponies were broken down by the journey, but
{90} even for such a mishap the General found a cheerful use.  When
rallied by one of his commanding officers on this point, he replied:

"Hard on the ponies!  Not at all.  Why, my dear fellow, it is really a
good thing, for the useless ones get weeded out."

In 1886 Sir George White wrote that it would be a "long time before
dacoity died of inanition."[5]  But British methods, worked with
British perseverance, had triumphed over Burmese institutions.  In 1889
Sir Charles Crosthwaite could write that "disorder and lawlessness had
been put down, and the power of the Government firmly established and
fully acknowledged."[6]  It was, however, reserved for Gatacre to equip
a little expedition which was to penetrate into the Kachin Hills, where
a leader known as Kan Hlaing was harassing the country.  The General
sent the following telegram to Calcutta on November 25, 1889:


[5] _Despatch_, August 18, 1886.

[6] _Report of Administration_, August 1887 to August 1889.


"Chief Commissioner has applied for services of troops to operate from
Bhamo against Lwe Saing Tonhon Kachins, in Meteilaing, to effect
capture or surrender of Kan Hlaing and reduction of Tonhon, the chief
town.  After effecting this, to march southwards in Binhong and attack
pretender Sairyawuiniz.  A column to co-operate from Ruby Mines
district, marching on Momeit.  Bhamo Column to consist of 75 rifles
Hants, two guns No. 2 Bombay, 100 rifles 17th Bengal Infantry, and 250
rifles Mogoung Levy.  Momeit {91} Column to consist of 50 rifles Hants,
150 Bengal Native Infantry from Mandalay.  Have complied with his
wishes, made all necessary arrangements.  Column will start from Bhamo
Dec. 1.  The Momeit Column will reach Momeit about Dec. 10.  Solicits
Army's approval."

[Illustration: Kachin Bridge over which five hundred men crossed in one
day]

The Bhamo Column was under Major Blundell's command, and the Momeit
Column under Major Greenway.  Lwe Saing was captured on December 23,
and Tonhon on the 24th, after sharp fighting.  Early in January the
force crossed the Shweli River, which was a fierce mountain torrent, so
strong that the rafts were swept away, and a man drowned.  The passage
over the various rocky streams was a great difficulty; in one place a
swinging bridge was rigged up with transport ropes and timber; on
another occasion the whole column of five to six hundred men with their
stores were passed over the Kachin Bridge shown in the picture.  A
report arrived that the rebel Prince Sawanai and the dacoit leader, Kan
Hlaing, were strongly stockaded at Manton, three marches farther on,
and that he had a following of 2,000 men.  The two columns met as
arranged, and captured the village, though it was fiercely defended.
Before the force left Manton, Brigadier-General Gatacre and Colonel
Strover, the Commissioner, joined the column.

The following letters give the General's own impressions of the country.


{92}

[Sidenote: 1890]

IN THE DEFILE JUST BELOW BHAMO,

_February_ 8, 1890.

"We expect a first-class trip, and should be away about six weeks.  We
take a month's provisions with us, and a fortnight's follow us.  There
is a great charm to me in going into quite an unknown country, full of
wild beasts and savages; there is nearly every animal under the sun
said to be in these jungles, and the place has every appearance of it:
tracks of all sorts along the river-banks.  But we shall soon see for
ourselves.  I fancy the scenery will be grand, and we shall probably
get many beautiful orchids."


BERNARDMYO, _March_ 20, 1890.

"I have only a moment for a line to say I've 'come out alive' at this
end of the country, which is fortunate.  It is one of the roughest
journeys I have ever done, and we have been wet through for days, with
no change possible; great mountains, with only goat tracks to move by,
had to be climbed two or three times in the day, which made going most
tedious.  By marching from 5 a.m. to 6 and sometimes 7 p.m. we could
only do thirty miles a day; this was for a ten days' movement, so you
may imagine the country is rough.  It's a magnificent land,
however--wild elephants, lots of tigers, and beasts of every
description everywhere, and the inhabitants perfect savages, but clever
beyond measure at agriculture in their valleys, and on the hill-sides
at weaving, knitting, basket-work, etc., of all kinds.  I went to find
the column I sent out some three months ago, and found it about 150
miles off; they had had a good deal of fighting, and lost a matter of
thirty men, which was unfortunate, but it might have been {93} more.  I
have ordered them all back, except 100 men to hold a post at Mantone,
for if the rains commence I should never get them back at all, owing to
the impossibility of the roads.  I never saw such a desperate country
for roads, as they call them; a goat would be puzzled with some of them.

"I hope the Squire and all of you are well.  How I should like to see
you all, and have a dinner at Gatacre!  I have not had any real good
food for about two months, but, though rough, we enjoy what we do get."


[Sidenote: A rough journey]

Though the leader Kan Hlaing succeeded in effecting his escape, the
expedition had good effect, for his following was dispersed and his
prestige broken.  To all those who had taken part in this "rough
journey" it brought another clasp to their medal.

On March 27 Brigadier-General Wolseley reached Mandalay on his return
from leave, and took over the command next day.  But before two months
were out, he was wanted to officiate elsewhere, and Gatacre was sent
back to Mandalay.  He had been very sorry to "give up charge," and was
proportionately pleased to resume the command.  In his letters he
speaks of having initiated many experiments which interested him very
much.  Writing to his sister in July 1890, he says:


"I have commenced a Government farm here on a large scale, about eight
hundred acres at present, but will run up to four or five thousand
acres.  I have started elephant ploughs, as the ground is so hard owing
to want of rain that the {94} ordinary bullock plough is not strong
enough, and if we do not plough now the season will be too far gone to
enable us to get a crop off the ground this year.  The elephant plough
has to be specially made, or the brute will pull it to pieces;
sometimes they get frightened, and then it is best to clear out, for
though the plough weighs half a ton, it is nothing to a frightened
elephant, who goes straight home with it through everything.  I hope to
send you a report on the working of the farm just now; the Squire would
like to read it.  I wish I had that big plough here that we used to
have at Coton; it would be just the thing for this land.  I forget how
many horses it took, but I should put a couple of elephants in."


[Sidenote: Down with fever]

During these summer months he suffered repeatedly from fever.


THE PALACE, MANDALAY,

_July_ 22, 1890.

"I have got influenza, which is a great nuisance, as it keeps me from
my work, and the doctor warns me solemnly not to go in draughts and to
keep out of the sun; but as my present abode is merely a large gilt
shed, about thirty yards square, with looking-glass panels open to the
four winds of heaven, it is rather difficult to follow his advice.
Fortunately the open air always agreed with me, and I feel better
to-day, so I hope I may soon be all right again.  The rain keeps off,
and I am afraid we shall have a famine if we do not get heavy rain
soon, for the rice will fail.  I wish I could hear somewhat of my
future; it is a nuisance being left in doubt as to what I am going to
do.

{95}

"I wish I had the services of Payne for a bit in the palace gardens; I
would make them so pretty.  We have rocks, grass, water, everything
that one could wish to work upon, but have no artistic people who
understand gardening.  I am working at it, and getting seeds, and hope
to make it a pretty place by-and-by."


MYINGYAN, IRRAWADDY,

_August_ 30, 1890.

"When I last wrote I was in full steam down the Irrawaddy with the
Chief Commissioner, but I got a bad go of fever, and the doctor put me
ashore, as he thought I would have a better chance.  I was rather bad,
but the cool breeze on the bank has made a wonderful change, and has
quite pulled me round.  I've had no fever since I came, and am
beginning to feel all right again.  Of course, I haven't much walk in
me, but that soon comes back with food--that's of course the difficulty
in a place like this, but I've managed to get hold of a few chickens
and cook them with my servant.  Some of them have turned out a success,
others smell of kerosine oil, but they all have to be eaten, so it
doesn't much matter.  I mean to go back to Mandalay in three or four
days, and shall be glad to get on my horse again, for it doesn't suit
me to be on my back.  I have lots to do, and have a man to write from
dictation, which saves me writing out long official letters, but still
I'm anxious about many things which are being carried out at Mandalay.
This place is just opposite Pakoko, where John commanded for a long
time, and is very pretty, especially now the river is in full flood,
miles across (five or six at least)."


{96}

S.S. "GEORGE," ON THE IRRAWADDY ABOVE MANDALAY,

_September_ 22, 1890.

"I'm off on my travels again, you see.  We started this morning on
inspection duty at Bhamo and Shwebo.  We should arrive at the former
place on 26th.  We stay there two days, and then come down to Shwebo on
right bank of river; the trip will do me good, I think, and will give
me some relaxation while on board.  I'm better, but not up to much yet.

"I heard from the C.-in-C. Bombay, Sir George Greaves, to the effect
that he was applying for my services as A.G. of Bombay Army.  If I get
this it will be nice, and I should see a good deal of John.  It's a
long time since I've seen him now.

"The quail here have been abundant, and the snipe are coming in, but no
bags have been made yet.  I only speak from hearsay, as I have been
unable to go out myself, as you will understand.

"I wish you could all run up the river with me on this steamer; you
would enjoy the voyage--such beautiful scenery, and such a river."

[Sidenote: A new post]

In October the "rightful owner" returned to the command at Mandalay,
and Gatacre handed over finally.  He brought away many specimens of
Burmese art and handicraft.  His own artistic faculties enabled him to
appreciate all that was quaint or interesting in every locality that he
visited.  In later life he took great pleasure in showing his friends
the objects of value or beauty that he had collected, and {97}
evidently looked back on these years of strenuous service with real
delight.

From Mandalay he brought away a teak-wood drum that had belonged to
King Theebaw.  It is cut out of a solid trunk, and stands about three
feet from the ground, weighs about a ton, and is covered with the most
exquisite carving.  He took special pleasure in this piece of
furniture, and in a beautiful silver plate from the Shan States.

In November 1890 Gatacre relinquished his substantive post at
Headquarters, on his appointment as Adjutant-General to the Bombay
Army, with the temporary and local rank of Brigadier-General.



{98}

CHAPTER VII

1890-1894

POONA

Brigadier-General Gatacre took over the duties of Adjutant-General to
the Bombay Army on November 25, 1890, under Sir George Greaves as
Commander-in-Chief.

His deputy in the office was surprised to find that Gatacre was not so
regular in his attendance as might have been expected, and noticed
other signs that suggested that he was unhappy and had something on his
mind.  His colleague was quite right.  Gatacre was indeed passing
through a severe and prolonged trial, one about which he could take no
one into his confidence.  To his highly strung nature, in which the
loftiest integrity was allied to the tenderest human feelings, a blow
such as had fallen upon him must have wrung every fibre, and there is
no doubt that he writhed under it.

[Sidenote: In adversity]

It was about this time that the General was bitten in the hand by a
jackal that was said to be mad.  His nerves being already unduly
strained, the poison (or the thought of it) got such a hold on him that
the howling of the {99} jackals kept him awake at night, and a terror
even possessed him of their coming in through the open windows.  So
real was this obsession that he ordered iron railings to be fixed
outside, and by thus convincing himself of the impossibility of such a
thing, he gradually conquered the fantasies of his sick brain,
triumphed over his sleeplessness, and reaped the benefit to his general
health.

What was really preying on his mind was not generally known till his
friends read of the dissolution of his marriage.  Gatacre was the
petitioner, and there was no defence.  This news gave rise to a strong
feeling of sympathy with a man whose probity was unquestioned, and
whose attractive appearance and genial manners had already made him a
favourite in Poona.  There was in Gatacre a depth of faithful affection
which nothing could kill; the generosity and kindliness of his judgment
forbad his harbouring any thought of blame, and he clung with unaltered
loyalty to memories of the past.

            Love is not love
  Which alters when it alteration finds,
  Or bends with the remover to remove.


It is from this time that we find him working with an _acharnement_,
with a restless and passionate self-obliteration that became an
unconquerable habit.  Ambition stepped in to revive his interest in his
profession, and the service of his neighbour provided occupation for
his leisure hours.

{100}

[Sidenote: 1890-4]

Poona is not only the Headquarters of the Bombay Army, but for a good
part of the year it is the residence of the Governor of the Bombay
Presidency.  In the hot weather both civil and military officials
retire to the country life of Mahabuleshwar, and in the cold weather
spend a few weeks in Bombay City.  Thus all the year round there was a
succession of official and social engagements; every one had rather
more to do than there was time for in office hours, and every one
wanted to put in an appearance at such social functions as appealed to
his particular tastes.  Gatacre not only took part in all these events,
but was the prime mover and organiser of everything that went on--no
committee of management, no horse-show, gymkhana, or display was
complete without his name.  Amongst other details the programmes
engaged his particular attention.  He had a special chalk which, when
used on prepared paper, could be reproduced as a lithograph by a very
simple process.  He rapidly gained great facility in the use of this
medium, and there is now quite a remarkable series of exquisite
drawings that were thus reproduced.  A lively sense of humour animates
some of these efforts, more especially those that did duty as
hunt-cards.  The card was the size of foolscap paper; each season had a
new drawing, but all were variations of the study of foxes, while words
were put into their mouths expressing the sentiments of the quarry
towards Doctor Bull's hounds.

[Sidenote: A.G.]

The position of Adjutant-General is one of great {101} influence, and
this influence Gatacre invariably used to promote the cause of
uprightness and true benevolence.  There was no red-tape about him; he
was always accessible to all ranks, and instantly ready to deal with
any emergency.

On one occasion the friends of a young officer wanted to get him out of
the way of temptation--the Adjutant-General detailed him to some
outlying station.  On the other hand, a young cavalry officer from
Mhow, who was engaged to a lady in Poona, found himself unexpectedly
detained at Headquarters by the A.G.  If an officer and his family on
their arrival were unable to find quarters, the A.G. would take the
whole party in, regardless of any previous acquaintance.  In the club
one day Gatacre noticed the name of a young officer on the Headquarter
Staff posted up as having failed to pay his club account.  He sent for
the officer and paid his bill, choosing to come himself to the rescue
rather than that a young fellow in an honourable post should suffer
disgrace.  Thus many an unrecorded kindness, many a deed of silent
sacrifice, showed the natural generosity of his heart, showed his
freedom from any taint of bitterness.  Instinctively and deliberately
he endeavoured to obliterate his own sorrow by adding to the happiness
of others, and in this way surrounded himself with an atmosphere of
esteem and gratitude which reacted powerfully for his own benefit.  The
officer who succeeded him as Adjutant-General had worked in his office
for some time, and he {102} now writes that the thought of him revives
the "deep impression of what a dear, good fellow he was, and how
hospitable and kind."

[Sidenote: 1891]

Gatacre's efforts at hospitality once gave rise to much amusement on
the one part and dismay on the other.  He usually kept but a small
staff of servants, and dined at the club of Western India; but when
there was some special gaiety going on, he would fill his house with
guests from the outlying stations, and instruct his bearer to engage a
good cook and other servants for the necessary period.  At the Poona
Race Week one year Gatacre's friends were complimenting him on the
excellence of his arrangements, and stories were related as to the
enormities of which native cooks are sometimes guilty in the
preparation of the Sahib's food, and of their troublesome ways in
general.  One lady was particularly eloquent on the annoyance of having
had to part with her khansama only a few days before in order that he
might go and nurse his wife, who was dying.  Some one suggested a tour
of inspection round Gatacre's house, which he had held up as a model
establishment.  When the party reached the cook-house, I leave you to
imagine the lady's surprise and amusement at finding her own truant
cook installed for the nonce in her host's kitchen!

His easy camaraderie of manner was so remarkable that a friend once
asked Gatacre whether he had ever found that people took advantage of
it, and treated him with undue familiarity, to which he replied that he
had {103} never known them try.  He defended himself with a dry and
subtle humour.  Assuming an impenetrable blandness of manner, he would
on occasion utter sarcasms so veiled that some men could scarcely tell
whether he was in earnest or not.  He was never angry, but he had a
command of quiet language that made his remarks as stinging as they
were humorous.  The man on the pillory would feel the sting, and the
onlooker would see the humour.

When another friend asked him why he was taking so much trouble over a
matter that appeared outside the sphere of his interests, and scarcely
worthy of the attention that he was lavishing on it, his reply seemed
weighted with reproof as he said: "I don't think I ever knew what the
meaning of the word trouble was."

[Sidenote: Goes on tour]

In the province of Bombay the inspections take place in the cold
weather between November and March; a spell of hot weather then
precedes the break of the monsoon early in June.  The rains last till
September, and are followed by another spell of hot weather, till the
air cools down again to quite a pleasant temperature in November.  The
first inspection tour arranged for the end of 1891 included a visit to
the regiments quartered at Kamptee in the Central Provinces.  Kamptee
was the Headquarters of the Nagpur District, to the command of which
Brigadier-General John Gatacre, C.B., had been recently gazetted.  To
those who have heard of "inspection fever" (and even the best officers
{104} are not always immune), it will be obvious that the station must
have been in rather a commotion at the idea of a visit from the
Commander-in-chief only four days after the arrival of a new General
Officer Commanding.  But the new General was well known and trusted in
Kamptee, for he had already been in the station for three years while
in command of his regiment.

[Sidenote: A railway accident]

Between 6 and 7 a.m. on November 5 the General was on the platform of
Nagpur Station awaiting the arrival of the train, when a telegraphic
message came in, saying that there had been a serious railway accident
to the Chief's train about nine miles away.  A message was sent back
for medical assistance, and as soon as possible a break-down gang was
got together, but it was nearly 11 o'clock before the relief train
reached the spot.  General John tells us that the sight that greeted
him was more shocking than any battlefield.  Eight men of the North
Lancashire Regiment were killed outright, twenty-four were severely
injured; a European guard, both drivers and both firemen were killed;
five native passengers were also killed and eight wounded.  Beyond this
total of eighteen deaths, four soldiers died within the next few days
in hospital.  The framework of the carriages, the iron rails, and the
men's rifles--everything was amazingly crumpled up and distorted.

The permanent way at this spot runs along a thirty-foot embankment.
The whole train was derailed, both engines with their tenders, a
horse-box, and five or six coaches had rolled {105} to the bottom of
the slope; the next carriage, in which Sir George Greaves had been
travelling, was suspended half-way down the bank at an angle of 45°,
the body having been completely wrenched away from the platform; and
the last coach, which had been occupied by the staff officers--Gatacre,
Hogg, and Leach--was hanging in the most precarious position over the
edge.

It turned out that the train was unusually long and heavy that day, as
it was bringing some fifty men of the North Lancashire Regiment back
from Chi-Kulda, a civil hill-station in the Berars, where a few sickly
men had been sent as an experiment.  When the railway officials at
Budnari Junction found that the three coaches set aside for the use of
the Headquarter Staff had also to be attached, they feared that the
engine would not be powerful enough to pull the train up a certain
incline, and gave directions that a spare engine (which was meant only
for local shunting work) should be put on in front.  This supplementary
engine was the cause of the misfortune, for the tyres of its wheels,
having been mended, gave way under the unusual strain of a long
journey.  The front engine left the metals, and, rolling over, pulled
the whole train along with it.

The great majority of the fatal cases were of course in the first two
coaches, in which the soldiers were unfortunately travelling.  Some (of
the poor fellows suffered fearfully from scalding, over and above
terrible fractures and injuries; some were so inextricably wedged in
amongst {106} the wreckage that it was not till the relief train came
up with jacks and crowbars that anything could be done to relieve their
excruciating sufferings.  None of the staff officers were hurt, but
Colonel Hogg had a narrow escape, for the end compartment, in which he
had been shaving a few minutes earlier, was completely staved in by
impact with the Chief's coach in front.

In the official report forwarded by Sir George Greaves we read:


"I desire to record with pleasure that the officers of the Headquarter
Staff were conspicuous in their efforts to release the injured from the
wreck of the train, especially Brigadier-General Gatacre, A.G.,
Lieutenant-Colonel Leach, Military Secretary, and Captain Peyton,
A.D.C., all of whom, at considerable personal risk, worked in under the
overturned engines and carriages to get at the wounded."


There were also miraculous escapes.  A gymnastic sergeant was
travelling in the first coach with two small dogs on his knees.  Owing
apparently to his trained activity, he was able to leap through the
window, and thus escaped without injury from a compartment where all
his companions were killed.

As soon as possible the wounded were sent on into Kamptee under the
charge of their companions, and it was three o'clock before the train
got back again to pick up the staff officers.

[Sidenote: "Such good sons"]

On his arrival in Kamptee a telegram was handed to Gatacre, informing
him of his father's {107} death.  This was not unexpected, but for both
brothers it must have added a more profound and personal sadness to the
horrors with which the day had begun; and as next day they listened to
the Service read over the poor young fellows who had been so suddenly
struck down, their hearts must have been at Gatacre, where the same
words would soon be read over the old man of eighty-six whom they had
so sincerely loved and reverenced.  Only a few days earlier they had
sent a telegram of farewell in their joint names; and in due course had
the satisfaction of hearing that it had arrived just in time to please
the dying man, who murmured in response, "I thank God for such good
sons."

On April 1, 1893, Lieutenant-General Sir John Hudson took over command
of the Bombay Army; only two months later he was killed by a fall from
his horse.  The Commander-in-Chief was taking his usual ride with
Colonel Leach, his Military Secretary, before breakfast on the morning
of June 9, when his horse stumbled heavily, throwing Sir John forward
on his head.  Six weeks earlier Sir James Dormer, Commander-in-Chief in
Madras, had met with his death while out tiger-shooting, so that this
further catastrophe came with added force to the sister Presidency.

Gatacre had written home a few days before, saying how genial and
kindly he found his new chief, with whom he was already on intimate
terms.  It was always a great satisfaction to him to think that the
horse which had made {108} the blunder was not one of his choosing, for
Sir John had already sought his advice in the matter of getting himself
provided with chargers.  As chief staff officer it fell to him to make
all the arrangements for the imposing ceremony that took place at 8.30
a.m. on the day following the tragedy.  Lord Harris, the Governor, came
down from Panchguni for the occasion.  By special instructions he
placed a wreath on the coffin in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, and
numberless similar tributes showed the respectful sympathy of the whole
army.  The Guard of Honour was furnished by the 2nd Battalion
Lancashire Fusiliers; all the troops in garrison, both in Poona and
Kirkee, accompanied by massed bands, took part in the solemn
procession.  It is said that five thousand men attended the funeral,
and that the whole was so admirably thought out and arranged in the
short space of time that no confusion or difficulty arose at any point.

[Sidenote: Hands over]

In due course Sir Charles Nairne, R.A., became Commander-in-Chief of
the Bombay Army.  He was the last of the race, for during his tenure of
the office its name was changed, and he handed over as
Lieutenant-General Commanding the Bombay Army Corps.  The office of
Adjutant-General was also renamed, but that was not until after Gatacre
had been succeeded by General Reginald Curteis.  Sir Charles was the
third Chief under whom Gatacre had served in this capacity in less than
three years.  But as these changes made no difference to Gatacre's
{109} loyal service, so there seems to have been no difference in the
high esteem in which his seniors held him.  When he relinquished his
post, some eighteen months later, the same cordial regard had grown up
which he always contrived to win from all those with whom he was
associated either officially or socially.  When I came to live in the
command, about two years later, there was no household from whom I
received a more genuine welcome than from Sir Charles and Lady Nairne
and their personal staff.

Early in 1894 the Adjutant-General was appointed to the command of the
military district that had its headquarters at Bombay.



{110}

CHAPTER VIII

1894-1895

BOMBAY

[Sidenote: Colara]

Although the climate of Bombay, which is situated on the nineteenth
parallel, did not offer the attractions of Poona, and although the
appointment brought no promotion in army rank, still Gatacre welcomed
the change of work, and the accession of dignity and opportunity
afforded by an independent command.  On January 30, 1894, his selection
for the command of the Bombay District was gazetted, and shortly
afterwards he moved into the bungalow in the Marine Lines, which then
formed the official residence.  Of this quaint building he was the last
tenant, for three years later this relic of Old Bombay and its naval
neighbour disappeared under the consuming flame of the Plague
Commission.

This house and the adjacent one which sheltered the Admiral were
historic erections, being survivals of the days when the Englishman
first pitched his moving tent in these regions.  For the original
canvas covering of the tent, "jaffray-work," or plaited palm-leaves,
had {111} been substituted, which had to be renewed each year just
before the monsoon broke; this roof was supported on wooden columns
that were the successors of the original tent-poles, and made a quaint
feature in all the rooms.  The canvas walls of the tent had been
replaced by Venetian shutters; the doors were made of cotton stuff
stretched on a frame, which left a large space above and below the
eye-line.  The deep verandah, on which greenhouse creepers sprawled
luxuriantly, covered a space wide enough to allow of dining and
sleeping out-of-doors.

The weather is warm all the year round, and becomes exceedingly damp
and oppressive in the spring and autumn, while in the summer the
monsoon winds bring a rainfall of nearly 300 inches in three months.
White uniform is worn throughout the year, even on full-dress
occasions.  At the extreme point of the island, in the breeziest and
healthiest situation, there are barracks for one British regiment, and
hard by is the beautiful chapel raised as a memorial to those who fell
in the Afghan Campaign of 1849.  It was an exceedingly pretty sight to
see a regiment of men all clad in spotless white file into their places
on a Sunday morning.  The rifle regiments wear their black buttons and
ornaments, and one would say that nothing could be smarter, until the
reliefs bring another corps, who with their gold buttons and belts
produce a more brilliant effect.

According to the military classification, {112} Bombay is a
Second-class District, held by a Brigadier-General, who is not really a
General Officer, but a full colonel with temporary rank.  A First-class
District is held by a Major-General, whose importance is further marked
by the presence of an A.D.C.  There is, however, so much ceremonial
work peculiar to Bombay that the General often wished that he had been
granted the services of such a young officer, as a way of saving his
regular staff.

[Sidenote: Transports]

Gatacre held this command for more than three years--from January 1894
to July 1897--but for eight months in the summer of the second year,
1895, he was on active service in Chitral, and for the same period in
1896 he was officiating at Quetta.  Owing to the difference in climate
he thus served for five drill seasons in succession.  Although these
two short episodes will be dealt with separately, the fact that he did
duty through the cold weather for three seasons in Bombay seems to
justify also a study of the conditions peculiar to that command.

So far as the passenger traffic is concerned, Bombay is the port of
India.  It is the quickest route to all the provinces, even as far east
as Calcutta.  All the transports between England and India call at
Bombay, and the vast majority of troops are there embarked and
disembarked.  In consideration of the work entailed in arranging the
transport service, an extra Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General was
allowed on the staff; practically this department of the staff office
was the shipping agency for all the reliefs {113} throughout India.
Not only had the transhipping and railway arrangements to be made for
every regiment on its arrival and departure, and for drafts of men from
every branch of the service, but privilege passages had to be allotted
to the innumerable officers and their families who, when going home on
leave, hoped to avail themselves of the chance of a vacancy on a
transport.  The rule in allotting these passages was that the junior
officer should take precedence, Government having apparently in mind
that their scale of pay gave them the first title to consideration.  At
the same time, senior officers were often needed to take command of a
ship full of details, and sometimes had to be searched for, Army
nursing sisters, too, had special claims.

All these conflicting interests gave rise to almost as many private
letters as there were official applications.  Ladies and children would
come and live in Bombay in the hope of securing a vacancy at the
eleventh hour--a device which was often successful.  There were
numberless hard cases and jealousies over these passages, and many
funny stories were told.  It was whispered that if an applicant called
in person on the General, her chances would be in direct proportion to
her personal attractions.  The amount of baggage allowed was also a
source of infinite vexation.  Once a nursing sister, who had recently
married an army surgeon, asked to be allowed to send her effects under
her maiden name, as the scale of baggage allowed in her professional
capacity {114} was slightly higher than that considered sufficient for
a captain's wife.

During the loading and unloading of these transports an officer of the
General's staff had to be continuously on duty to attend to any matter
that might arise, and to check the freight, live and dead.  This was a
tedious and very irksome duty, and, considering the amount of work
going on in the office during the winter months, the time thus spent
could be ill spared.  The General made a practice of calling in person
on all transports immediately before their departure, at whatever hour
it might be, and soon after their arrival.  If a homeward-bound vessel
was starting on a midnight tide, he would dine in his picturesque white
mess-dress, and thus be ready to go and pay his official visit of
farewell.  The house was a long way from the Bunder, so that this duty
involved a drive of more than a mile, and a run across the harbour in
the Government launch, which was always at his disposal.  In that
intensely Oriental setting the thrill of living (as it were) in the
exchange, and seeing the great ships that go down to the sea carrying
their load of joyful anticipations, was irresistibly moving.  Gatacre
was thus on terms of personal friendship with all the captains, and
used to ask them to his own house.  As a Christmas recognition of such
attentions, the captain of the _Victoria_ sent up a specially selected
sirloin of English beef one year on the morning of December 25.  All
who have tasted Indian beef will know that this was a rare delicacy.

{115}

[Sidenote: The Navy]

But transports were not the only vessels in Bombay Harbour.  There were
ships from the Royal Navy, ships from the foreign navies, and
Peninsular and Oriental weekly mails, outward and homeward bound.

Between the navy and the army there was a strict etiquette regarding
the exchange of visits.  Writing from Bombay on November 3, 1909,
General Swann tells us that--


"The procedure in the matter of ceremonial calling was for a staff
officer to go on board within twenty-four hours of a ship's arrival and
arrange for the exchange of visits between the captain and the general;
the first visit was made by whichever was the junior of the two, and
both visits were supposed to be over within the twenty-four hours."


Such official visiting had also to be attended to with great
punctuality in the case of foreign warships, and on these occasions a
bottle of champagne would be produced at any hour, and the health of
the respective sovereigns ceremoniously toasted.  The General
particularly exerted himself to entertain these foreign guests.  When a
Russian vessel was in the harbour he asked the captain and three or
four officers to breakfast at his house, inviting some ladies who could
talk French to come and entertain them.  On another occasion, when an
Italian vessel lay at anchor, the General writes:


"I got up in the middle of the night last night to take the Duke of
Savoy and his staff out {116} hunting to-day.  He thoroughly enjoyed
himself, galloped to his heart's content, made himself very sore at the
knees, and came home perfectly happy.  I got back just in time to dress
for parade service, but could not get time for breakfast.  Went to
church, and got back to luncheon at 2.30."


[Sidenote: 1894-7]

The hunting days in Bombay were Thursday and Sunday mornings; horses
were sent on overnight.  The meet was at daybreak at a place reached
after about forty minutes in a train that left the station at 4.30 a.m.
Hounds moved off as soon as the light allowed.  It was a sporting
country, for there were plenty of jackals, and the ground varied from
soft ricefields, enclosed by Irish banks, to hard rock and heavy sand
in which prickly-pear hedges were disagreeably abundant.  The hunt
usually returned to the Jackal Club Camp in time for the 8.30 train,
and all the men got back in time to be at their offices by 10 o'clock.
Every one in Bombay has an office of some sort, for no one would live
there unless forced thereto by the necessity of fulfilling their
vocation.

Another feature of the Bombay command was the constant semi-official
attendances at the railway station and elsewhere.  Whenever His
Excellency the Governor, or His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, or
His Excellency the Admiral Commanding the East Indian Squadron passed
through the station, the General Officer Commanding was there to
receive him, or to see him off as the occasion demanded.

{117}

[Sidenote: Guests]

It was also his pleasure to meet any friends, official or private, who
might be arriving or departing by the mail.  There was hardly a week
when his launch was not in attendance on the mail-boats.  These usually
arrived at daybreak, but for Gatacre no hour was too early.  One
morning the mail was to bring a general officer who was on his way to
take over a command up-country.  His son, already appointed as A.D.C.,
had come down to Bombay to meet his father, and had called at the Staff
Office on the previous day.  The General offered to take him on board
in his launch, as he was himself going to fetch his guest home to
breakfast, and named the hour.  But when the General stepped into the
launch next morning the A.D.C. was nowhere visible on the Bunder.
Afterwards the young man turned up, and his father said with a
carelessnesss of speech which Gatacre was quick to detect: "May I
introduce you to my son?"  To which Gatacre replied: "You may bring him
up to me if you like."

It was one of the paradoxes of Gatacre's character that he was
sometimes as punctilious about fine shades of etiquette as he was on
other occasions kindly when such subtleties interfered with his mood or
his purpose.

All through the cold weather the General's house was full.  There were
the friends going by the mail to whom an invitation would be of the
greatest convenience; there were the friends arriving by the mail who
must stay one night to clear their baggage before starting up-country;
{118} there were the friends who had entertained him when inspecting at
their station, and whose daughters would enjoy the gaiety of the city.
He was very fond of ladies, and minutely thoughtful for every detail
which might contribute to their comfort or pleasure while in his house.

Over and above all these calls on his time there was still the
soldiering.  The district covered a considerable area, extending
northward as far as Cutch-Bhuj in Kathywarj and including many inland
stations such as Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat, and Khandalla.  There was
also a detachment of the Marine Battalion in the Persian Gulf.  All the
arrangements had been made for an official visit to Bushire in the
spring of 1896, and it was with great reluctance that the General gave
up this trip when he found himself under orders for Quetta.

It was the soldiering that he loved, and it was for this love of the
soldiering that he deliberately overworked himself.  No personal
considerations had any weight.  Having no one at home to watch over
him, he became recklessly irregular at his meals, and would sit up to
all hours of the night writing--endlessly writing.  What kept him going
were the trips up-country to inspect the outlying regiments and
detachments; for in the train he would make up his arrears of sleep,
and the rules of politeness secured his punctual attendance at
meal-time.  The uncertainty of his hours was a matter of some comment
at the office, where no doubt it {119} gave rise to considerable
inconvenience, and probably not less troublesome was his habit of
utterly disregarding the usual luncheon interval.  The General was
playfully conscious of all these misdemeanours, for on bidding good-bye
to his chief staff officer on his departure for Quetta, he said:

[Sidenote: Office hours]

"Now you will be all right--with a brand-new General whom you can
educate to attend the office regularly at eleven, and go home to tiffin
at two."

This officer, however, bore him no grudge for his vagaries, and now
writes with great affection of his old Chief.


POONA, _September_ 17, 1909.

"As his staff officer there were two points he used to impress on
me--'No difficulty' and 'No finality.'  Difficulties, like hills, were
useful for the exercise they give in surmounting them.  There is no
difficulty that cannot be overcome somehow.  No finality is the
watch-word of progress.  What may seem best to-day can be improved upon
to-morrow, but that is no reason for deferring action indefinitely:
'The best is the enemy of the good.'  Act on what seems good at the
moment, and trust to time and opportunity to find something better to
act on later.  But act, and act promptly.  This, I think, sums up the
principles he tried to instil into me, and his example illustrates his
teaching.

"I never served under a chief who thought more quickly, decided more
readily, or acted more promptly."


During the last week of November 1894 the {120} Viceroy, Lord Elgin,
arranged to hold a Durbar at Lahore.  There was to be a great gathering
of the native princes of the Punjab, and a concentration of British,
Native, and Imperial Service troops.  The Viceroy and the
Commander-in-Chief both had large camps, to which they invited guests
from all parts of India.  Having received the offer of a tent and the
hospitality of his camp from Sir George White, Gatacre selected the two
best-looking chargers in his stable and repaired to Lahore in the
highest spirits.

[Sidenote: 1894]

In a letter written a little later, however, he confesses that it was
not the attractions of the Durbar that took him so far out of his
command at such a busy time of the year, but the expectation of seeing
some one again whom he had recently met as she passed through Bombay.
For the guests a Durbar week is a holiday; the General was a free
man--he had only to look on and enjoy himself.  There were many
official functions where every one was gloriously apparelled, but he
looked as splendid as any in that brilliant company; and there were
many social festivities which afforded opportunity for daily
intercourse.  It was during the picturesque pageants of the Lahore Week
that I came under the spell of the General's charm.  To know him was to
love him, as many another has since said to me.  During that week we
learnt to know one another, and at the end of it he wrote a frank manly
letter to my father, Lord Davey, begging him to sanction the idea of
our marriage.  {121} I regret that the kindly reply to his honest
exposition of the whole matter has not been preserved; its purport
being in accordance with our hopes, the engagement was made known, and
I had the gratification of hearing my General's praises on all sides.

In some letters of December 1894 he intentionally writes about himself,
and supplies us with the incentives which inspired him.


"I am always thinking of how I can get on, not for the sake of the
money it brings, but for soldiering itself."


And again:

[Sidenote: Soldiering first]

"I hope you will not mind my love of soldiering and work; it has such a
fascination for me, I am inclined to put it first always.  But my love
for you will stand out first, and your love for me will enable me to
carry out my work at personal inconvenience to ourselves, won't it?
You see I am cunningly trying to get you to overlook my endeavours to
think of soldiering as the first thing, but, dear, you will always be
in my heart all the time."


Perhaps it was by contrast with the slackness natural to the soft
climate of Bombay that Gatacre's indomitable spirit attracted so much
attention.  Colonel James Arnott writes:


"Working, as I did, in the Civil Department, I had no official
association with your husband, and it was only when he commanded the
Bombay District that I got to know him at all well.  I was much
impressed by his keen interest in his {122} profession, his strong
_esprit de corps_, his enthusiasm for work, and the activity and
strength which enabled him to carry it on in a way to stimulate others.
I have a clear recollection of his active figure and his first-rate
horsemanship, riding, as he often used to do, bare-backed, an
indication of character and of those qualities so necessary in a
soldier.

"General Gatacre took his share in everything of public interest in
Bombay, but I shall only refer to the very successful Assault-at-Arms
which he organised--the first and best thing of the kind that I saw in
my long residence in Bombay."[1]


[1] September 13, 1909.


[Sidenote: The first tournament]

This tournament was a great event.  The large grass-covered enclosure
known as the Oval was borrowed from the Municipality for the purpose of
a Grand Naval and Military Display and Assault-at-Arms.  This space,
flanked on one side by the Town Hall, and on the other open to the sea,
offered every facility for such an undertaking.  Admiral Kennedy, who
was in residence for Christmas, willingly co-operated; his handy men
rendered most valuable assistance, the naval element lending a
distinction of which only a Bombay Assault-at-Arms could boast.  An
attractive programme was made out and entries were invited from all the
stations in India.

It was of course necessary to get subscriptions and guarantees; but the
General was already personally acquainted with all the leading men in
Bombay, and had no difficulty in {123} getting what he wanted.  The
Governor and the resident native princes gave their support and
patronage, and many wealthy merchants, realising the great local
expenditure that such a tamasha must involve, contributed generously.
In the friendly relations established with the citizens of Bombay over
the multifarious business of this tournament lay the secret of the
facility with which Gatacre two years later won them to accept his
views about segregation.

Every detail of the entertainment had the General's personal attention;
his fertile brain organised and perfected the whole and every part, his
hands painted the scenery of the Soudan Village, his horse carried the
officer's daughter who, in the gay uniform of the Royal Horse
Artillery, opened the proceedings by presenting His Excellency the
Governor with a programme in a silver case.  The incessant labour
entailed by this vast undertaking, and the strain necessary to honour
all its calls upon him while carrying on simultaneously the routine of
his official life, can be best expressed in his own words.

Writing on the Thursday before the tournament, which was to open on
Monday, December 17, he says:


"Before I met you I thought there was only one thing in the world, and
that was soldiering; now I think there are two, but the soldiering is
at present the only one I have got.  I have been busy to-day, and in a
fever about the whole thing.  I have been calling on the Italian ship,
drinking 'The King and Italy,' again very bad {124} when one has fever,
I should say; but no matter, the champagne was very good.  The levee is
just over, the whole world pouring before Lord Harris, and now I am
going to paint till about 3 a.m. to-morrow.  I have half a town to do,
and no one seems able to originate anything."


On the 18th, after the first day's performance, he writes:


"What will you say to me, not writing to you yesterday?  But if you
only knew the sort of day I have had!  First I was busy in the office,
could not move from my chair till 4 o'clock p.m.; then I had to dress
and meet H.E. the C.-in-C. at the station at 4.45, then to meet the
Admiral at the Apollo Bunder a mile away at 5 o'clock--all official
receptions; then to go to the Tournament to see all was right, finish
painting scenery, entertain the Governor's party at dinner, go to the
Tournament, watch it till 1 a.m., then drink 'the King and Italy' with
the Italian officers, who remained till the last.  Finally, at 2 a.m.,
commence to count with an enormous staff of clerks 10,000 tickets, to
see if the money was right.  You see, I am responsible, and I like to
be sure what we are doing.  Well, dearest, the thing was a tremendous
success.  We sold 10,000 Rs. worth of tickets last night, shall sell
probably 11,000 Rs. to-night, and so on.

[Sidenote: Tent-pegging]

"Everything went well.  The light was not as good as I should wish, but
it was fair.  We had no accident in the ring, but got a horse killed
afterwards, his leg being broken by a kick....  Well, I finished these
beastly tickets at 4 a.m., and at 7 had to go tent-pegging for an hour,
and since then have never sat down, so you see why I did not write.
Now it is 5.30 {125} p.m., and I am so tired--or at least my eyes are;
and I shall not have a chance to rest till 5 a.m. to-morrow; it will
take us all that time to check the takings."


On the 21st, when it was all over except for the prize-giving and the
congratulations, he writes:


"I have fever this morning; have not had any sleep for days, and had to
run in the Open Competition for Officers' Tent-pegging, which I won
easily, taking both pegs and then touching two more turned on edge.  I
was rather pleased, as no one else touched one sideways at all, and all
were about twenty years younger than I!  My team ran fourth for the
Duke of Savoy's Cup; my men could not ride well enough; I got both mine.

"To-day is the final ceremony.  You have never seen such an
extraordinary multitude; tens of thousands of children, who pay one
anna each, crowding round the place endeavouring to get an entrance.  I
do wish you were here to see the unusual activity reigning in the town
and the excitement we have caused."


It was the novelty of the thing that gave importance to this
tournament; the idea has since been carried out in many stations with
marked success.  It is interesting to note that such a gathering has
also an indirect value; it promotes camaraderie between different
branches of the service, and shows how much pleasure may be provided to
both competitors and on-lookers by what was essentially "soldiering" in
its inception.

{126}

In _The Times of India_ we read:


"At the close of the Commander-in-Chief's speech three ringing cheers
were given for His Excellency and a similar number for
Brigadier-General Gatacre.  The Commander-in-Chief having then left the
arena, the troops left the ground with bands playing, the men-of-war's
men as a special and well-deserved honour being escorted to the Apollo
Bunder by a regimental band, and followed by a large crowd of
civilians.  Several of the troops in camp on the Oval visited the
flagship H.M.S. _Bonaventure_, and the turret-ship _Magdala_ yesterday
morning, while others were taken for a cruise in the harbour, a number
of the up-country native troops being taken on a visit to inspect the
local cotton mills.

"The work of demolishing the enclosure and removing the plant has
already begun, and to-day the majority of the troops will be _en route_
for their up-country stations, many of them taking back prizes and
other mementoes of the well-organised, well-managed, and finest
military display and gathering of its kind ever held in the East."


As soon as it was all over Gatacre took ten days' leave to Calcutta,
where he was welcomed with surprise and pleasure by his friends of the
other side.



{127}

CHAPTER IX

1895

CHITRAL

The annual inspections in the Bombay District for the season 1894-5 had
all been carried out, confidential reports were rapidly being filled
in, and got ready to forward to Headquarters, the arrangements for the
sailing of the last transport were all settled, and all work was
beginning to slacken in Bombay with the approach of the hot weather.
Gatacre was making a push to conclude the season's work with a view to
taking eight months' leave to England.  In theory this long leave can
be secured once in every five-year command; but Gatacre had now
completed two such appointments without availing himself of this
privilege, having been content with the sixty days' leave allowed each
year.

But whatever might be the special reasons which drew him homewards in
1895, a better thing still was in prospect for him: in whole-hearted
joy he writes on March 15:


"I am so pleased: have got a telegram from {128} Sir George White
saying, 'Have nominated you to command Third Brigade in Division to be
mobilised for possible service Chitral.'  This is a first-class
business, for though it will prevent my coming home so soon, still it
is a step onwards, and that is what we want, isn't it, dear?  I am so
pleased at getting this chance, and will do my best for your sake and
my own."


[Sidenote: The Third Brigade]

The Chitral Relief Force was under the command of Sir Robert Low; the
expedition was organised to effect the relief of Surgeon-Major
Robertson, I.C.S., and some half-dozen officers who were shut up with a
small garrison in the fort at Chitral.  We are not concerned here with
the internal events which had culminated in the siege of the fort by a
hostile faction; suffice it to say that the Government of India
regarded the matter as very urgent, and were sending a strong division
of both British and Native troops to their assistance.

Sir Robert Low's force was to approach from the south over the Malakand
Pass, and to make its way up the valley of the Chitral River.  This was
a route which had not hitherto been used by the Indian Government, and
covered about 185 miles.  Communications with Chitral had previously
been maintained from the north-east, via Gilgit.  During the winter
months this latter route was closed, as the road lay over snow-covered
passes; the distance was about 160 miles from Gilgit, and this was the
recognised access and the base of supplies for the little garrison.
And so it came about that, {129} in response to messages from Major
Robertson, Colonel Kelly was endeavouring to reach him from Gilgit,
undismayed by almost impassable winter snows, at the same time that the
Indian Relief Force was advancing with similar intention from Peshawur.

In a letter from Mian Mir, March 24, 1895, Gatacre writes:


"I leave to-morrow to take command of my Brigade at Hoti Mardan, about
twenty-five miles north-east of Peshawur, and we shall march from there
on April 1, right away for Chitral; but without doubt we shall have
some rough work and some fighting.  Umra Khan knows he will have no
mercy after destroying Captain Ross's detachment, and will do his best
to raise the whole border against us.

"I have four first-class regiments--the Seaforth Highlanders, the
Buffs, the 25th Punjab Infantry, the Second 4th Ghoorkas, and we are
all sound and prepared to go anywhere, so I hope we shall all come well
out of it.

      *      *      *      *      *

"I think myself we shall have to drop our tents, small as they are, and
march without them.  Our difficulty will be crossing deep rivers; we
shall have no boats, and must trust to making rafts of skins and
floating the men across; but it is always a shaky business when there
are bullets flying about."


On March 30, in drenching rain, the first troops marched out of Hoti
Mardan; on April 2 they met the enemy, who were lying in wait for them
on the slopes of the Malakand Pass.  But {130} in this and the
subsequent engagements on the banks of the Swat and the Panjkora
Rivers, the Third Brigade took no part, being held in reserve.  A
stirring account of the fighting is given by Colonel Younghusband in
his _Story of the Guides_.

A bridge of rafts was thrown across the Panjkora River; the Guides
Cavalry and Infantry were passed over on the afternoon of April 15,
with orders to reconnoitre certain villages early the next morning.
But in the night a flood arose, huge trees crashed down on the swollen
stream, completely wrecking the bridge.  Two miles below this point,
the Sappers were rigging up a suspension bridge; and in the meantime an
attempt was made to float the men across on rafts supported by
mussocks, or inflated goat-skins, and navigated by native boatmen.

[Sidenote: A rescue]

Gatacre, whose brigade was still in the rear, had pushed forward to see
what was going on, and stood by the river's edge watching this "shaky
business."  Suddenly a raft on which four men were seated got out of
control, broke away from the guiding rope, and was immediately caught
by the current, and swirled down the turbulent stream.  In an instant
Gatacre jumped on his pony, and dashed at full gallop over the rocky
ground in the wild hope of reaching the spot where the bridge was being
made in time to warn the Sappers, and attempt a rescue.  The bend of
the river gave him time; with equal promptitude Major Aylmer got into a
sling-cradle, and was lowered in mid-stream {131} just as the raft came
in sight.  Two men only were still on it, one of whom saw his chance
and grasped the extended hand.  As the river had narrowed from 200
yards to ninety feet, the raft was travelling at a tremendous pace.
There was a moment of thrilling strain on the ropes; the cradle was
submerged by the sudden pull; but all held on heroically, and Aylmer
had the satisfaction of bringing Private Hall safely to land.  The
other man, together with the two comrades who had been thrown off in
the wild descent, were hopelessly lost.[1]


[1] See Sir Robert Low's _Despatch_, April 18, 1895, par. 18.


Early on April 17, the bridge being completed, the advance was resumed.
It was here that the Third Brigade got its chance.  An officer writes:


"I can well recall our intense joy when we found ourselves going over
the Panjkora Bridge in front of the Second Brigade, which had been
leading since we left the Malakand.  With feverish haste we packed our
mules, having moved our camp the night before, so as to be as close as
possible to the bridge."


By 10.45 the Third Brigade, accompanied by the Guides Cavalry and the
11th Bengal Lancers, were all across, and orders were received for a
general advance on Miankalai, which was being held against us.  Sir
Robert Low's despatch runs:


"I pushed on to Ghobani with the Third Brigade, arriving there soon
after noon.  The enemy had then collected on a bluff in two villages
west of Mamugai.  The battery came into action {132} about 12.30 p.m.,
and the enemy soon fell back under cover.  The Seaforth Highlanders and
4th Goorkhas moved up to the south side of the valley, and then
advanced against the enemy in a westerly direction, driving them back
from spur to spur, and eventually arrived at the bluff mentioned about
4 p.m., which they occupied for the night.

"The enemy on this occasion did not show the bold front of previous
days, but retired as the infantry advanced; and though the guns were
sent forward about 1,000 yards to hasten their retreat, the loss of the
enemy was not great.  Throughout the action the troops were well
handled by Brigadier-General Gatacre, D.S.O.

      *      *      *      *      *

"The same afternoon Brigadier-General Gatacre with the Buffs, the 4th
Goorkhas, half of No. 4 Company Bengal Sappers and Miners, No. 2
Derajat Mountain Battery, and the Maxim guns of the Devonshire Regiment
pushed on to Barwa, _en route_ for Dir and Chitral, with twenty days'
supplies.

      *      *      *      *      *

"On the afternoon of April 20 Brigadier-General Gatacre sent a message
back to me that Major Deane, chief political officer, had received news
that the garrison of Chitral was reduced to great straits, and that the
mines of the enemy had reached to within ten yards of the fort, and he
suggested that he should advance rapidly with a small body of five
hundred men.

"To this I consented, as being the only way of passing quickly through
the intricate country we were now traversing, and the only chance of
rescuing the garrison."[2]


[2] See Sir Robert Low's _Despatch_, April 19, 1895.


{133}

[Sidenote: The Flying Column]

The excitement and joyful anticipation amongst those who were to
compose the Flying Column were intense.  One of them writes:


"We had intended pushing on over the Lowari Pass without baggage
animals, the paths being unfit for even mules without much tedious and
lengthy preparation.  Every officer and man was to have carried ten
days' supplies on his back, and I had already broken up the General's
mess stores into suitable 40-lb. loads for hillmen to carry for us.  In
order to do this I only got to bed at our Janbatai camp at 1 a.m. and
had to be up at 3 a.m.; so you can imagine it was impressed on my mind.

"The dear General was, I fancy, awake all night, partly on account of
the painful abscess that had been lanced that evening; but in spite of
this he marched with us all next day, standing in his stirrups, because
of the pain of sitting; and indefatigably urged on our bridging and
road-making parties.  After our arrival at Dir, having marched twenty
miles and made the road and bridged the streams _en route_, the General
would not rest or dine till the last of the transport mules had been
piloted with lamps over a very difficult and rocky part of the path,
just outside Dir.  I fancy we dined at about 9.30 p.m.; but this was no
unusual thing, for the General always insisted on seeing to the comfort
of his brigade before his own, and I hardly ever managed to induce him
to sit down to dinner till some time between 9 and 10 p.m."

But much to the chagrin of the five hundred they were a flying column
for twenty-four hours only, for on the 22nd news was received that the
siege, which had lasted forty-six days, had {134} been raised.  It was
afterwards ascertained that Colonel Kelly had reached the fort at 2
p.m. on the 20th, and that Sher Afzul and his supporters had fled the
previous day.  The General says nothing of his personal disappointment
in the letters of this date, but when he was in the fort a month later,
he writes:


"I wish they had let me loose as I wished, when we reached the Swat
River.  I should have been in Chitral before Kelly, though he had only
half the distance to go that I had.  But G.O.C. wanted to move with a
united force.  Of course we all hold different views regarding the best
way of doing these things, but had I had the doing of it, I would have
moved by separate lines, one brigade in advance; one would have got on
quicker, and more effectively.  But this is only between you and me."


[Illustration: Goorkhas crossing the Lowari Pass]

The campaign now entered into the second phase; the fighting was over,
but not so the work.  The Government decided that the Third Brigade
should proceed to Chitral.  Having already reached Dir, they had
covered nearly two-thirds of the distance according to the map, but the
most difficult part of the journey was ahead of them.  The Lowari Pass,
10,450 ft. high, was covered with deep snow, and the valleys leading up
to it on both sides were known to present almost insurmountable
obstacles to the passage of a large body of men and animals.

The following extract from _Trans-frontier Wars_ (vol. i. p. 544) gives
a good idea of the physical features of the country to be traversed.


{135}

"Throughout its entire length from Dir to Ashreth, the road was a mere
goat-track, offering extraordinary difficulties to the passage of
troops, and requiring extensive improvements before laden animals could
follow it.

"The route to Gujar, at the foot of the pass, lay for eleven miles up
the Dir Valley beside the tumbling snow-fed torrent that streams from
the south side of the pass.  The track was in general extremely
difficult, frequently losing itself among the boulders that choked the
bed of the stream, and rising steeply to traverse the face of a rocky
bluff, only to fall again with equal abruptness on the other side.
This portion of the road had to be realigned and reconstructed
throughout, the river had to be bridged in three or four places, and
stone staircase ramps had to be built in the water at more than one
point, to enable laden animals to pass where the stream washed the foot
of a precipitous cliff.  From Gujar, 8,450 ft., to the summit of the
pass, a distance of three miles, the track lay over frozen and often
treacherous snow, at first at a fairly easy gradient, but growing
steeper and more slippery as the pass was approached.  Beyond the crest
a great snow cornice, 15 ft. in height, overhung the head of the glen,
down which the track descended for about 1,000 yards at a gradient of
one in three or four, over vast drifts of avalanche snow, in which
great rocks and the uprooted trunks of gigantic trees lay deeply
embedded.  From the foot of this descent the route lay down a steep and
rocky gorge, now following the tangled bed of the torrent, now winding
through fine forests of pine and cedar, or traversing open grassy
glades clogged with the drainage of melting snows."


{136}

[Sidenote: The advance]

In such a struggle with the forces of nature Gatacre was at his best.
No difficulty dismayed him; his own passionate belief in the power of
goodwill and hard work to overcome every obstacle inspired the whole
force.  The men learnt to work hard because he expected it of them and
seemed always present to appreciate their efforts.  They learnt to
endure every hardship because he endured physical discomforts as great
as theirs.  Some few men were attacked with frost-bite, and the General
was amongst the number; it caught him across the knuckles, and put him
to great inconvenience.  They saw him daily riding up and down the
road, ministering to their comfort and their safety; and they realised
that as a master he was one whom all good workmen delight to serve,
because he made himself their servant.

An officer who is now a Brevet-Colonel and has since served in Egypt,
in East Africa, and in Natal, writes thus:


"I have seen a good deal of active service, but nowhere have I met any
officer, either of high or low rank, who more completely gave himself
up to ensure the comfort of the troops under his command than the dear
General.  Nothing escaped his eagle eye: at one moment we were
arranging that some picket should protect itself better against the
wind and rain; at the next the General was showing how a shelter should
be run up over the tent of some sick officer, to protect him from the
heat of the or describing how better troughs could be for watering
horses or mules.

{137}

"As to road-making, the General was unsurpassed.  From the very
commencement of the expedition he realised that good communications
must be ensured; and made our brigade work as I have never seen any
troops work, except Egyptian troops on the railway in the Soudan.
Morning, noon, and night did every available man slave away at
bettering the wild mountain paths which were our only link with our
supplies and civilisation.  The country supplied absolutely nothing but
a little hill grass obtainable in some districts, which meant that
every grain of food had to be laboriously carried up."


It is evident that the care of 3,000 men in such a country was no light
work; and Gatacre, who never took his work lightly even at home,
certainly did not spare himself on service.  His own letters give such
a good idea of the routine of camp life, and of the spirit of genuine
pleasure in it all that was so characteristic of him, that they shall
tell their own tale.


"We are marching all day over the most impossible ground.  Our food
comes up at about 10 o'clock at night.  Last night, owing to the
badness of the track, it never came in at all, and this morning I hear
it is still four miles off, the other side of the pass: this means
another eight hours!  Talk about roads, you never saw such a country!
You approach a range of hills 10,000 ft. high, you have to cut a road
for the animals before you attempt to bring them up, and this means
time.  Every now and then they have to stop and clear away these
creatures who stalk us and shoot from behind rocks.  We have {138} been
very fortunate in losing no men, though we have knocked over a good
many of them."

      *      *      *      *      *

"Yesterday we were soaked with rain twice, had difficulty about wood
for cooking, all green and soaked with wet; but everybody got in by 10
p.m. except about fifty mules and a company of Goorkhas who were
stopped by the road falling away and some mules falling through about
300 yards down the khud.  This of course stopped the remainder there
for the night, but we got them some food, and they had to bivouac the
night there without fire or blankets.  We got them on this morning.

"Is it not marvellous?  Out of my whole force of four regiments, a
battery, and a company of Sappers, I have no sick men; they march all
day, making roads, constantly get wet through, often have to sleep at
great elevations.  We were 8,700 ft. the night before last, without
blankets, and yet they are all quite fit: no sick officer or man.  Of
course we take all the care we can of them.

"Yesterday after passing over the pass we found on the hills along
which the road ran all English flowers--narcissus, iris, lilies (they
plant them on their graves), may, hawthorn, hyacinths, tulips, in great
profusion.  The country is magnificent, soil very rich, would grow
anything; we must take the country and improve it.  It is another
Kashmir."

      *      *      *      *      *

"We had a thunderstorm with lightning last night, a grand sight.  I was
coming back from Ashreth after nightfall, and stopped several times to
watch the lightning light the snow peaks--quite beautiful!

[Illustration: On the road to Chitral.]

"I had a hard day the day before yesterday.  {139} My orderly officer
and I had to go from Dir to Janbatai and back, about fifty-six miles
over a difficult road; we started at 5 a.m. and did not get back till 1
a.m. yesterday.  For we were delayed on the road so long inspecting
that night overtook us, and we had to walk along a most impossible
track leading our ponies; we literally had to feel our way with our
feet.  We all got falls over rocks and stones, but beyond breaking our
skin and clothes we were none the worse.  The river was running under
us nearly all the way about 300 ft. straight down, so you may imagine
we had to be careful.  I lost my helmet, but fortunately it rolled down
the track instead of over the khudside."

      *      *      *      *      *

"Though I get up at daybreak and go to bed at 11 p.m. daily, I assure
you that I never have a moment; it seems strange, but if you saw the
country you would understand it.  I have a long line of troops
scattered over some forty miles of country connected by a single road
along which only one man and one animal can pass at a time; sixteen
bridges which may be washed away at any moment, causing many hours'
delay in replacement; a snow pass, in the centre exactly, over which
every ounce of food has to come; a terrific road along river-beds at
one moment, running nearly up to the sky the next; 4,000 mules and
donkeys working in stages from place to place, with supplies, guards,
escorts, regiments, all of which have to be carefully watched to see
that they have food and that nothing goes wrong.  All this takes time,
for it is a country one cannot gallop in, hardly go off a walk, but we
are improving the roads and cutting new ones."

      *      *      *      *      *

{140}

"Then the snow pass stops us; we have to carry all our loads and
supplies over the pass by hand.  This makes us slow, but it is very
sure; now the snow is melting and avalanches falling in every
direction.  Such an interesting country, and so beautiful!  I have
never seen such scenery, such mountains, trees, and rivers--simply
magnificent!  The spot I am now encamped in is about 2,000 ft. below
the top of the pass, covered with gigantic cedars and pine-trees, eight
and nine feet in diameter; I have never seen such trees.  It is
impossible to imagine anything more beautiful.  There are high snow
mountains all around us, a snow torrent from the avalanches rushing
some hundreds of feet below us, carrying trees, rocks, etc., along with
it; one can hardly hear oneself speak.  Below in the valley one finds
every English flower almost, chiefly in blossom, white peonies,
honeysuckle--all sorts.

"Well, we are getting on all right.  I have been halted here for seven
days owing to want of supplies; one of our bridges broke and stopped
them.  But we are moving on to-day; this refers to the troops only--of
course I move up and down the line every day.

"One of my officers was shot at yesterday, but up to date I have been
unable to discover the man.  I always have a duffedar (Native Cavalry
N.C.O.) with a carbine behind me whenever I ride, and two Goorkhas
whenever I walk; but I am out all day and most of the night, and I
wonder they have not had a shot at me yet, for it is a wild country,
full of trees, stones, and jungle.

"Yesterday I caught thirty drivers stealing stores from their loads.
There has been a great deal of this all along the road, causing us much
{141} loss; so I had them all thrashed.  There was much howling, but I
do not think there will be any more thieving; we have to be summary
here."


[Sidenote: The fort]

On May 15 the Third Brigade marched into Chitral.  Sir Robert Low and
the Headquarter Staff followed a few days later; their arrival was made
the occasion for a political durbar, and a grand review of all the
troops, including the garrison of the fort, and Colonel Kelly's
triumphant little band.  Sir Robert Low made a speech in which he
complimented all ranks on the good work that each contingent had
performed, and more particularly thanked the Third Brigade and their
Brigadier for their share in the success of his expedition.

At the first opportunity Gatacre himself read the Funeral Service over
the grave where Captain Baird, who fell in the sortie of March 3, had
been hastily buried during the siege.  He gave orders for the erection
of a wooden cross, and had photographs taken of this and the country
round, which he sent with a sympathetic letter to the young officer's
mother.  On his arrival in England in the autumn he regarded it as one
of his first duties to fulfil his promise to call on Mrs. Baird, a
widow lamenting her only son.

On the approach of the hot weather, the troops were withdrawn from the
fort, and disposed in suitable camps along the road, pending the
decision of Government on the question of {142} occupation.  The long
line of communications was divided into sections, the most advanced,
from Dir northwards to Chitral, being held by the Third Brigade, the
section from Dir southwards to Janbatai by the Second, and the Swat
Valley by the First.  Road-making and mending was still the principal
occupation, for the General was never satisfied with his roads; and all
through the summer months the men were kept, happy, and well by
improving the roadway which is still used by the column of troops which
every two years relieves the garrison of Chitral.

It was probably at this time that the following incident took place.
The General one day passed a supply convoy on the road, in charge of a
transport officer with whose appearance he was dissatisfied, though he
said nothing at the time.  Next day he sent for the senior officer, and
after a short talk with him told him to smarten up his subaltern.

"Certainly, sir, certainly," said the officer, and a look of pride and
relief stole over his face that he had himself escaped unfriendly
criticism.  The General, reading the man's expression, added, "And
smarten yourself up, too."

The officer who supplies this tale concludes: "I can see and hear the
General's chuckle after administering this little pill."

[Sidenote: Snipers]

Colonel Ronald Brooke,[3] who proved himself an orderly officer after
his General's own heart, tells us how the Ashreth Valley became
infested by a band of hillmen who cut up stragglers from {143} the
convoys, and finally one night attacked a band of Chitrali traders
(under the impression that they were our transport followers) who had
incautiously spent the night at the foot of the pass.  Twelve out of
thirteen were killed; one only escaped, badly wounded, to carry the
news to the nearest military post.  The story goes on:


[3] Brevet-Lieutenant-Colonel R. G. Brooke, D.S.O.


"The General and I at once hurried to the spot, which looked just like
a shambles, and he immediately ordered a beat on a huge scale.  Troops
silently surrounded the Ashreth Valley from every side; and on August
12, instead of a grouse drive, we indulged in the far more exciting
experience of a Kafristan robber drive.  A band of fifteen were flushed
on the hillside, of whom five were captured, the others escaping, never
to return to so dangerous a spot.  Of the five prisoners, three were
sentenced to death, and the other two were set free on account of their
youth."


[Illustration: General Gatacre and his favourite pony.]

Having thus cleared his own valley of snipers, Gatacre longed to do the
same on the Dir-Janbatai section, where the troops on escort-duty had
been constantly fired on, several soldiers having been mortally
wounded.  At last he secured from the Major-General Commanding
permission to take over this dangerous section as well as his own.  A
picked lot of Pathan Sepoys were sent down under an excellent native
non-commissioned officer, with instructions to patrol the hillsides far
above the position that snipers might take up, just when convoys {144}
were on the move, and thus literally to stalk the stalkers.  This idea
was crowned with success.  In a few days' time the Pathans spotted a
party of three hillmen lying up for the convoy.  With extraordinary
skill they succeeded in capturing two of the party; the third man
escaped, although so severely wounded that he was tracked by his
blood-marks for nine miles.  The two prisoners turned out to be Afghans
who had come over the frontier bent on doing as much harm as possible.
Both were hanged, and thenceforward there was no more sniping on that
section.

The General's interest in the scenery and flowers was very genuine.
During the three months that the troops were scattered in various camps
in these beautiful valleys, he found time to make a large collection of
flowers and ferns, and himself attended to the drying and packing of
the specimens.  When these were eventually handed over to the Forest
Department at Calcutta, the botanists found one fern which was
pronounced a new variety, and named it after the General in the records
of the Department.

In due course orders arrived for the withdrawal of the Relief Force.
Early in September Gatacre conducted his Brigade over the frontier, and
bade them farewell amidst the heartiest expressions of affection and
goodwill on the part of all ranks, British and Native.



{145}

CHAPTER X

1896

QUETTA

On November 10, 1895, a few familiar words were read once more in a
village church in Sussex, the old-world troth was given and plighted,
and the face of the earth was changed thereby for the two persons most
concerned.

The General had been unable to take more than ninety days' privilege
leave, and therefore had to be back in Bombay early in January.  The
drill season was already far advanced, the programme for the inspection
of the various regiments in the outlying stations included in the
Bombay Command was already laid out, and trips to Baroda, Ahmedabad,
Surat, and Cutch-Bhuj followed one another in close succession.

These trips, which made a welcome respite from the heavy office-work
and town-life at Headquarters, sometimes included a day's sport and
recreation.

On Friday, February 21, the General, his staff officer, and the writer
disembarked from the S.S. _Kola_ at Mandvi, in the Gulf of Cutch.  This
coast is so shallow that the steamers have to lie a long way out, and
the process of {146} disembarkation includes transfer from the
mail-boat to a steam-launch, thence to a rowing-boat, which runs
aground alongside some bullock-drawn waggons.  Across the highest
timbers of these carts nets are stretched, on which the passengers seat
themselves, while the final stage is a chair borne by four natives who
are waist-deep in water as they cross the pools in the interminable
stretch of sea and sand.  A forty-mile drive in a carriage provided by
the Rao Saheb of Cutch brought us to the capital where the 17th Bombay
Infantry were then quartered.  The Resident, whose guests we were, the
Commandant of the regiment, four other officers, the doctor, and four
ladies made up the whole British contingent.

The inspection went off without memorable incident.  The real interest
of the trip lay in the native races and the pig-sticking camp, which
the Rao Saheb had arranged to fill in the blank days while waiting for
the weekly mail-boat.

The Rao Saheb was a man of about thirty, who, together with his younger
brother, Karloba, had taken kindly to English ways; they played
lawn-tennis on even terms with the officers and their wives, and when
on horseback their costume was entirely English except for the
brilliant puggri.  The camp and all its accessories were furnished by
the hospitality of the Rao Saheb; he was our companion throughout the
day, dinner alone excepted, and nothing was omitted for the comfort of
his guests.

[Sidenote: Pig-sticking]

We reached Wanoti Camp early in the {147} morning, and the seven men
who were carrying spears were soon on horseback.  The country was flat
and sandy, and bare except where patches of low scrub provided
excellent cover.  A few beaters were sent forward to drive out the
game, and before long you could see some very solid-looking bodies,
very low on the ground, moving amongst the bushes at a surprising pace:
these were a "sounder" of pigs.  The Rao Saheb selected one, the
General another, and, being mounted on a capital white pony, I was
close at his heels.  This boar, which was scored to the General's
spear, turned out to be the biggest of the seven which was the total
for the day.  But he was no sooner dispatched than we were off after
another.  Again the same spear was the first to touch him; then we lost
sight of him as he crashed through a thick hedge.  When we emerged
through the nearest gap we found that the Resident had picked up his
line, but while taking a thrust at him the pig jinked and tripped up
the horse, so that both he and his rider rolled in the sand, while the
pig went off with the eight-foot spear stuck in his body like a pin in
a pin-cushion.  If we had not been close at hand the savage creature
would have turned and rent the fallen man, who, though unhurt, would
have been defenceless.

In the afternoon the beaters started on the other side of the camp, and
a most thrilling incident occurred.  After a chase of about two miles
our pig disappeared over the edge of a forty-foot precipice, which was
the cliff-like side of a dry nullah; we had to look for a chine, and
{148} after a scrambling descent found him again, rather winded, hiding
in a ditch about five feet deep and six to eight feet wide.  The
General had broken his spear in a previous conflict, and was therefore
unarmed.  There were two officers only with us, one of whom cried out,
"If you do not know how to tackle him yourself, give your spear to the
General, and let him try."

He took the proffered spear, and, handing over his pony, stepped down
into the nullah, just opposite the boar, and with the lance under his
elbow stood facing the fierce creature for some four or five minutes,
till the latter suddenly rose up and plunged forward; but the spear was
in readiness, the charge was stayed, and the animal fell back, run
right through the throat.

While at Bhuj the following telegram reached the General:


"From Military Secretary, Chief, Calcutta: Chief proposes to select you
to officiate in command Quetta District during absence of General
Galbraith proceeding on leave to England.  Please wire if agreeable to
you."


It was followed two days later by another, from Sir Charles Nairne,
Commander-in-Chief Bombay Army:


"I congratulate you both on going to Quetta.  You will have a wide
enough field there."


Throughout the month of March the General was kept busy with the
preparation and execution of some extensive manoeuvres which took place
on the hills near Khandalla.  There was {149} also a Horse Show in
Bombay to attend to; this was on a bigger scale than had hitherto been
attempted.  The General rode in several classes, and won the first
prize for Arab chargers, and also for the best turn-out in the driving
classes.  The cheers that greeted him as he appeared in the
prize-winners' parade were significant of the public appreciation of
the energy that, as chairman of the committee, he had thrown into the
undertaking.

[Sidenote: Leaves Bombay]

On the evening of April 7, as the General Officer Commanding sailed in
the transport _Warren Hastings_ for Karachi, _en route_ for Quetta, the
nine-gun salute boomed out its farewell greeting in the summer night.

This First-class District, with its headquarters on the lofty plateau
known as Quetta, about 6,000 ft. high, was a command wholly congenial
to Gatacre's temperament.  The office-work was very light; there was a
garrison of two battalions of British infantry, one regiment of Native
cavalry, and two of Native infantry, besides a complement of artillery,
equipped both with oxen and mules, a splendid transport train, and
other details.  The outposts are on the actual frontier of the British
Empire; their very distance and inaccessibility exercised a great
attraction for him, so that the official visit to each station became a
picnic pleasure-party in a very literal sense.  Nothing was wanting,
not even battle, murder, and sudden death, to create that sense of
danger and adventure that casts its fascinating shadow over this wild
frontier land.

{150}

As the season in which marching could be accomplished in comfort was
already advanced, and the days were fast growing hot and long, it was
decided to start very soon after our arrival on a tour of inspection to
Fort Sandeman, Lorelai, and other outlying posts.  Fort Sandeman lies
to the north-east of Quetta, and is in the Lower Zhob Valley; it is 180
miles from Khanai station on the Quetta Railway.  A squadron of the 5th
Sind Horse, under Captain Sherard, furnished the escort.  No supplies
could be reckoned on by the way, so that transport had to be drawn to
carry six weeks' food for five mounted officers, their servants and
horses, and also for the hundred Sowars and their horses, and for the
transport animals themselves.  This made quite a long line of horses,
camels, and mules on the march, and one of the duties of our daily
routine was a walk down the transport lines at sunset.

There is not space here to do justice to this delightful ride.  We
covered between six and seven hundred miles in the six weeks we were
out.  The early starts while the moon shone brilliantly, the long
leisurely days in camp, the evening scramble over the nearest hills,
and the nights passed under the clear stars, with no sound but the
steady tramp of the sentries; the puzzling alternation of sandy desert
and rocky rift, dry nullahs and roaring torrents,--all make up memories
of strange and delightful doings never to be spoilt, even by the
counter recollections of sun and dust.

In the autumn of the same year Fort Sandeman {151} was the scene of a
shocking tragedy.  A Sepoy of the 40th Pathans ran amok while on sentry
duty one evening outside the officers' mess.  According to his
deposition later, he had been waiting to get all the five officers into
line as they wandered round the billiard-table, so that he might strike
them all with one bullet.  But the finesse of his idea was defeated by
his own impatience; he fired his shot when only three men were covered.
Two young officers were so seriously wounded that they fell
immediately, and died a few hours later.  With great presence of mind
and courage, and undismayed by a severe wound in the arm, Mr.
Maclachlan gave chase to the murderer, and by raising the alarm and
calling out the guard contributed to his capture, though unfortunately
this was not effected till the tehsildar and two native clerks had been
shot dead.

It was the custom to make the last afternoon of an inspection visit the
occasion for a social gathering; sports and trials of skill would be
arranged, the native regiments would perform feats of horsemanship, and
organize a display of national dancing and wrestling.  One peculiarly
striking effect was worked out by an officer in the 15th Bengal Lancers
at Lorelai.  Thirty-two Sowars in their white undress uniform, mounted
on white or grey horses, cantered past doing sword-practice, their
curved blades flashing in the sun; but the ghostly effect of these
white horsemen was enhanced when they were followed by another group
mounted entirely on chestnuts, doing {152} lance-practice, the red and
white pennons and scarlet cummerbunds adding to the colour scheme.

Lorelai also contributed its note of tragedy, for very shortly after
our departure from Beluchistan, Colonel Gaisford (soldier and civilian)
was treacherously assassinated in the very dak-bungalow in which we had
resided.

The object of a short tour planned for September was formally to take
over a strip of land known as the Toba Plateau, which had been recently
ceded to the Government of India under an arrangement effected by a
Frontier Delimitation Commission.  As this was a desolate land with few
inhabitants, the General planned to combine this political object with
military training in the way of practice in field-firing.  He arranged
that detachments of the 1st Bombay Grenadiers and of the 26th Beluchis
should take part in the manoeuvres, and that the 25th Bombay Rifles
should meet him at the camping-ground.  It was the first time a white
man had been seen in the country.  The march abounded with picturesque
and amusing incidents.  For instance, there was the day when the camel
transport lost their way.  Their pace being a little slower than that
of the mules, and the country that day with its low round sandhills
being peculiarly puzzling, they lost touch with the tail of the column.
A transport duffedar was sent back to look for the string of camels,
but came not again; a corporal was sent on a mule to look for the
duffedar, and he came not again.  It was now getting late, and darkness
would soon fall, so the {153} General himself started on a pony to look
for the corporal.  It was six o'clock before the camels, who were
carrying our tents, mess kit, and clothing, reached the camp, from a
point exactly opposite to the direction whence they were expected.

[Sidenote: Field-firing]

When the rendezvous on Toba Plateau was reached, after about three
days' march from Chaman, we settled down for a week, and field-firing
in the miniature valleys took place daily.  The day before the proposed
attack newspapers are spread out with the help of stones in the
positions where tribesmen defending their homes would be likely to
erect sangars and make a stand.  The attacking column, being supplied
with ball cartridges, shoot at these targets till they disappear, and
then advance till a bend of the valley discloses another imaginary
concentration of the enemy.  This device presents a very realistic
counterfeit of hill warfare.

It seems to me now that all our time at Quetta was spent in such mimic
fighting.  The wild and desolate country, in which the cantonments lay
like an oasis, lent itself admirably to military training; the
garrison, complete in all its units, provided the necessary troops of
all arms, so that a succession of field-officers were sent up for
tactical examination, the practical side of which meant a series of
field-days.  The General's A.D.C., when called upon for reminiscences,
sends the following anecdote:


"His good temper and quiet way of rebuking people was, I have always
thought, remarkable.  {154} I remember a field-day when an officer had
got a company in a very badly chosen spot.  The General, in his usual
innocent sort of way, went up to him to gather, as it were,
information.  He always did that: he looked as if he was dying to
learn, while really he was leading on the man to talk and show what he
knew, or else to convict him out of his own mouth.  The Major had no
good reason for his dispositions, and when cornered began to quote the
drill-book.  The General quietly said: 'It's not very good form to
throw the drill-book at your General.'"


On a similar occasion, at an outpost parade, the captain in charge of
the picquet was unaccountably nervous, and had great difficulty in
explaining the "idea."  With two words the General put him out of his
pain and signalised his incompetence: "You're shot," he said.  "Who is
next in command?"

On the Sind-Pishin Railway, as the branch line is called that runs from
Ruk Junction on the Indus through Quetta and on to Chaman, there is
only one train in each direction in the twenty-four hours.  The
railroad runs for miles over the wildest and most desolate tracts.  It
is 150 miles from Quetta to Sibi, and Sibi is 100 miles north of
Jacobabad.  The roadside stations consist merely of a few planks as
platform, a hut for the station-master, who is commonly an Eurasian,
and a standpipe; sometimes there is a second hut, in which a bunnia
does business in food-stuffs and other simple trading.

[Sidenote: A massacre]

Sunari Station, lying about 100 miles east of Quetta, must have been a
place of slightly more {155} importance, for when the Marris fell upon
it they found fifteen persons to murder.  Unfortunately for him, a
European youth, named Canning, a sub-inspector of the line, and son of
the station-master at Sibi, happened to be there that fatal morning.
As the daily train approached the station between 9 and 10 a.m., the
engine-driver was puzzled at not receiving the customary greeting on
the signals, but decided to crawl on carefully into the station.  It
was only too clear that a wholesale slaughter with swords had been
perpetrated; the place was strewn with dead bodies, terribly slashed
about, and the bunnia's shop had been set on fire.  The terrified
driver and guard found the station-master with his arm cut off, but
still breathing, and carefully laid him on the train, but even this
sole survivor of this unparalleled outrage died before the next station
was reached.  In the meantime the pointsman had fled on foot to the
next station, and telegraphed the startling news from there to Quetta.

Very shortly after the arrival of the news the telegraph wires were
found to be cut; to imaginative minds a rising of the whole powerful
tribe of Marris was imminent.  The railroad, which ran for miles
through the Marris' country, might be destroyed, the telegraph lines
were already severed, all communication with India would thus be cut
off, and Quetta isolated might have added another picturesque story to
the romantic series of frontier annals.

Very naturally a panic took place at the {156} adjoining
railway-stations, some of the station-masters actually constructing
amateur wire entanglements with the telegraph stores.  A new staff was
established at Sunari with a strong guard, and detachments of the 25th
Bombay Rifles were posted all along the line.  The Political Department
offered the very handsome reward of 2,500 rupees for the capture of the
three ringleaders, and Gatacre, who had been on short leave at Simla,
hurried back to take a hand in the search.

Early in the morning of October 23 the following letter was sent back
to Quetta:


"To-day I am going out with some of the Pathans to look over the ground
where we hear some of these men have been, possibly are now.  I do not
think we shall get back to-night, as the ground is said to be very bad,
but we have taken our blankets and some food.  I should much like to
catch these Ghazis; it would be highly satisfactory.  The Marris
promise Gaisford much, but I think they are humbugging him."


The party left Dalujal Station at 5.30 a.m.  The troops were drawn from
the 24th Beluchistan Regiment.  At nightfall they bivouacked near Dirgi
Springs; and next morning, with a view to scouring the hills, the party
was divided into four groups.  Besides the General there were two
British officers, two Native officers, and forty-four Pathans.  One
British officer was allotted to each party, and a subadar took charge
of the fourth; the rendezvous was to be a well-marked peak in the range
in front of them.  {157} The General, with five Sepoys and a Marri whom
he had impressed as guide, took a middle line and made straight for the
summit, instructing the other parties to take a wider sweep.  He had
regarded this peak as a likely place, because he had heard that there
was a musjid or small shrine built there, to which the murderers might
have resorted for purification after contact with the Feringhi.

As the handful of men crept up the rocky slope a sangar came into view,
which was suggestive.  The leading Pathan signalled with his hand that
all should go silently, and crouch; a few more yards were covered in
this way, and then the sangar was rushed.  The Sepoys flung themselves
upon the two men who were found sleeping behind the rocks with such
splendid dash that they all rolled together as the enemy made frantic
efforts to get at their knives.  But no one was hurt, and in an instant
the prisoners were securely bound with the puggris of their captors.

The other search-parties now appeared on the scene, and very soon
discovered the third Ghazi, who, being also asleep in fancied security,
had no chance to get away.  Three others, who had been sent away to
draw water, were now seen approaching, but they turned and fled.  The
nature of the ground made it impossible to follow them on their own
mountains with any chance of success.

At noon the little force started back.  On this return journey the
General shifted his position from leading to bringing up the rear;
{158} for he anticipated that a stampede might be made on the part of
the prisoners with the intention of knocking him down the khud, while
in the scuffle and panic they would hope to effect their escape.  This
reasoned caution in protecting his life against obvious and purposeless
dangers was as habitual and spontaneous with the General as was his
forwardness in disregarding the risks when occasion demanded.  He was
punctilious in protecting himself against sunstroke, and wore a pad
down his spine as well as the universal topee, and by such personal
heedfulness safeguarded his life and general health.

However, on this particular occasion his precaution nearly proved
disastrous.  As the string of men crept down the mountain-side a
jemadar noticed that one of the Sepoys had failed to uncock his rifle,
and gave the necessary order.  A shot rang out.  The General's helmet
was blown off his head, and was picked up blackened with the smoke of
the charge.  He is said to have smiled, as he rescued the Sepoy from
the jemadar's wrath and secured the empty cartridge as a memento.

[Illustration: Beluchi murderers.]

When the party reached Sunari Station, after a march of seventeen
miles, the General discovered that there was no political officer there
to whom he could hand over the prisoners, so that there was no choice
but to march another six miles to Dalujal.  Here the murderers were
taken over by the Civil Department.  The irons with which they were
immediately loaded seemed fantastically medieval in their weight {159}
and simplicity.  But on the other hand, nothing could have been more
fantastic than the proceedings of the Englishman who had effected their
capture.  This was the view taken by Sir George White, the
Commander-in-Chief, though he little guessed when he wrote how very
nearly his words had come true.


"I congratulate you on the way in which you managed and executed the
capture.  I am also very glad to know we have General Officers
commanding first-class districts who take to the hills for amusement,
but I must also say that I don't think the job was quite one for the
G.O.C. to conduct personally.  If they had managed to get a bullet into
you it would have made the affair one of very sinister importance.
However, from that point of view, 'all is well that ends well.'"


[Sidenote: A death sentence]

A few days later the headmen of the Marri tribe handed over the other
three men implicated, and at Sibi, on November 2, the three Ghazis,
Fakir Kala Khan, Jalamb, and Rahim Ali, atoned for their misdeeds.  The
sentence was death by hanging followed by public cremation.[1]


[1] Compare _Beluchistan Gazette_, October 29, November 5, 1896, and
_Civil and Military Gazette_, November 12, 1896.


On the return of the troops to Quetta great excitement prevailed when,
through the presence of a strong guard at the station, it became known
that the promised treasure was on the same train.  Of course this was
divided amongst the Sepoys only; all those who went to the mountain had
a share, with extra money to those {160} who actually took a hand in
the fray.  It was evening when the train came in, so that it was not
till we reached the house that I noticed the blackened helmet, and saw
the rent cut by the bullet.  When called upon for an explanation, the
emotion of that moment took possession of him again: it was the only
time that I heard his voice break.

Throughout that summer Mr. Curry and the railway engineers had been
busy over the new railroad that was to connect Sibi and Quetta via the
Bolan Pass.  This line is shorter than the Hurnai route by fifty miles,
but it had hitherto presented insuperable difficulties to the engineer.
Two previous attempts had been made; but the floods rise so high in the
gorges and had twice so completely wrecked the permanent way, that this
route had been discarded by Sir James Browne, who preferred to tackle
the Chupper Rift with his magnificent suspension bridge.  But owing to
the unreliability of the shifting sands at Mud Gorge it was imperative
for military purposes to have an alternative line.  The new
Bolan-Mushkaf railroad was completed in November 1896.  To give the
General an opportunity of seeing this triumph of construction, Mr.
Curry decided to initiate the new service on the day of our departure
from Quetta.  The eight months' acting appointment reached its
conclusion on November 30, 1896, and the first mail train left Quetta
for Sibi on that day at 10 a.m., carrying Gatacre back to resume his
substantive appointment at Bombay.



{161}

CHAPTER XI

1897

THE PLAGUE

In the Report issued by the Bombay Plague Committee of 1897 it is shown
that 27,597 persons died of that disease between August 8, 1896, and
June 30, 1897; while the total mortality from all causes for the same
period was 45,886.  This is more than one-twentieth of the normal
average population given as 850,000.[1]


[1] See Chart 3, issued with the _Report on the Bubonic Plague_, by
Brigadier-General W. F. Gatacre, C.B., D.S.O., 1897.


When the disease first declared itself, the Press and its volunteer
correspondents showed extraordinary ingenuity in denying its existence,
in attempting to discount the seriousness of the situation and
inventing euphemisms by which to describe the "glandular fever."  But
the authorities responsible for the health of the city appreciated the
gravity of the prospect.  The Municipality appointed a special
sub-committee to investigate the causes of the epidemic and to carry
out measures for its suppression; and Mr. Haffkine, the bacteriologist,
was requisitioned from Calcutta to identify the bacillus.  By the {162}
end of October the accommodation available in the Municipal Hospital
for infectious diseases was lamentably inadequate.  Customs officers in
foreign ports took alarm and imposed quarantine on all vessels from
Bombay Port.  Natives of all classes were terror-stricken, and many
families fled up-country.  Thousands daily streamed over the two
causeways that connect the Island of Bombay with the mainland; vast
crowds assembled at the Bunders and the railway-stations in their haste
to get away by sea and rail.  Before January was out, half the
inhabitants had escaped, for it has been shown that the population fell
from 797,000 on December 8 to 437,000 on February 8.  At the same time
the mortality reached alarming figures, showing 4,559 in December and
6,189 in January in excess of the normal death-rate duly corrected.
Although January is the coolest and pleasantest month of the year, it
proved the most disastrous; the outbreak reached its climax on the 15th
and 16th, on which days 344 and 345 fatal attacks were recorded.

The fires that burn inside the high walls that bound the Charni Road
sent up a thicker smoke and a more suggestive stench than ever before.
The price of wood for funeral pyres went up; in some cases Hindus
consented to bury their dead, because they could not afford to buy the
necessary timber.  On January 18, 1897, an article appeared in _The
Times of India_ seriously discussing the supply of vultures then
inhabiting the Towers of Silence.  The writer concludes {163} with the
quaint phrase: "There are now nearly 400, the number being ample, even
with the high death-rate now existing in the Parsee Community."

[Illustration: Hindu burning-ghat]


The General Officer Commanding was fully alive to the dangerous and
insanitary condition of some of the older parts of the town.  For the
greater security of his household he took an airy house on Malabar
Hill, instead of inhabiting the official residence in the Marine Lines.
He further arranged for the Marine Battalion, which forms the permanent
garrison of Bombay, to leave their antiquated huts in the same road and
go out under canvas.  Two English ladies living in the Marine Lines
caught the plague, but fortunately both recovered.

[Sidenote: A white man dies]

The European colony were profoundly distressed on hearing of the death
of Surgeon-Major Robert Manser on January 6, 1897.  He was First
Physician of the Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy Hospital, and Professor at the
Grant Medical College.  It was said at first that pneumonia was the
cause; but when Nurse Joyce, who had been attending him, died on the
following day, suspicions were aroused, and the bacteriological
examination established the connection between plague and pneumonia.

Early in February, under a pseudonym, the General published two
carefully reasoned and suggestive articles in _The Times of India_.  In
the first he pointed put that the existence of the plague and the
consequent exodus of the {164} population afforded an excellent
opportunity of carrying out extensive improvements in the housing and
sanitation of the worst parts of the city, and in acquiring official
control over the disposal of the dead.  In the second he called
attention to the inadequacy of the hospital accommodation to meet even
the present demand, and boldly handles the question of finance, saying:


"What is a lakh or ten lakhs of rupees where the prosperity of Bombay
is concerned?  The question is not one for Bombay to haggle over.  The
plague has become a thing of Imperial importance, Her Majesty takes a
deep interest in it, and the necessary funds must be found.  But the
Government of India will want to see some exhaustive efforts on our
part; they will expect an amount of thoroughness in combating the
disease which up to the present we have not shown."


After this appeal the writer goes on to suggest that a hospital should
be established in Government House, Parel, a large mansion which had
been the Governor's residence in the time of Sir James Fergusson, and
had since been discarded in favour of a more breezy site on Malabar
Point.

[Sidenote: Official thanks]

The municipality took the hint and voted funds.  Lord Sandhurst
responded readily and offered his "country seat" for the purposes of a
Special Plague Hospital, and the General came forward officially, and
promised to see to the equipment of the wards, and to provide doctors,
orderlies, attendants, etc., from the troops under his command.  His
call for volunteers met with {165} the same ready response; for nurses
he applied to the various Roman Catholic Convents in the neighbourhood;
and expended a special donation from Lady Sandhurst in making the
Sisters' quarters as comfortable as possible, and in fitting up a
little Oratory for them.  In ten days 150 beds were ready, and by the
erection of matting huts in the large compound accommodation could be
quickly provided for several hundred more.

The following paragraphs, taken from a letter from the Government of
Bombay to the Government of India, dated February 23, 1897, foreshadow
the policy which was adopted a few days later:

"3.  To General Gatacre the thanks of His Excellency the Governor in
Council are in a special degree due, both for the offer of assistance
and for the energy he has thrown into the undertaking.  He has spared
himself no trouble, and the result will be an unquestionable benefit to
the city.

"5.  I may add that His Excellency the Governor in Council anticipates
great indirect benefit from a measure which brings the Military in
touch with the Civil authorities in organising measures for preventing
the spread of the plague, for it is not improbable that the Civil
authorities may before long be driven to seek considerable assistance
at the hands of the Military."[2]


[2] Government Orders: General Department No. 1481/934 P. Bombay
Castle, March 16, 1897.


It was evident that the Governor regarded the situation as one which
called for combined effort and extraordinary measures.  He also {166}
realised that if such an undertaking as stamping out the plague before
the monsoon broke was to have any chance of success, there must be
central control and central responsibility.  He wanted a man endowed
equally with the administrative capacity to conceive a comprehensive
plan of action, and the executive sagacity to carry it out with success.

[Sidenote: The Gatacre Committee]

Lord Sandhurst, having decided to execute what amounted to a "coup" in
its startling supersession of all the traditions of the civil,
municipal, and military services, sent for Gatacre as the strongest man
whose services he could command, asked him to name his own committee,
and to frame in his own words the instructions under which he was to
act, and the powers with which he was to be invested.  There can be no
doubt that the Governor himself contributed enormously to the good
results achieved by the Plague Committee by the splendid freedom from
control which he allowed its Chairman, and the manner in which he put
every department of Government--civil and municipal--at his disposal,
and then let him work out his own system unhampered by any question of
custom or finance.

Gatacre realised to the full that he was making himself personally
responsible for the success of the undertaking.  In a confidential
letter he writes:


"The Government of Bombay has given me its thanks, and I have been
appointed chairman {167} of the committee to stamp out the plague.
Lord Sandhurst sent for me, and asked me whom I would like to assist
me, and I took Snow, Municipal Commissioner--he is the head of an
enormous department and controls the municipality, which thus falls
under me--James, an executive engineer of the municipality, an
energetic man with an enormous staff of engineers and workmen--Dr.
Dimmock, who is a sound man and has energy.  I have made Cahusac
secretary.  I have been told that money is no object, but that I am to
stamp out the plague.  They have passed an Act directing all to carry
out _any order_ I like to issue, so if I fail it will be my own fault;
but I do not intend to fail.  We shall have much opposition, as this
gives me powers over all except the Governor and his Councillors.

      *      *      *      *      *

"I wish they had handed me over this business in December, when I first
came down; it would never have got out of Bombay.  It has now become a
most serious question, and has extended to the whole of India."


We have to thank Dr. Dimmock[3] for an account of the first meeting of
the Committee.


[3] Lieut.-Colonel H. P. Dimmock, M.D., I.M.S.


"We began at once to decide on sites for plague hospitals.  One
question that was asked was, What sort of disease was plague?  In those
days one knew very little about it, for the bacillus had not been
discovered.  I tried to explain as much as was known, and finished my
remarks with words to the effect that whatever the special infection
might be, it seemed to be deadly and certainly contagious, and that we
need none of us expect 'to come out alive.'  'Well,' said the {168}
General, with a smile, 'we can't think about that; we've only got to
stop it, so let's get to work.'

"One must consider that at the time plague was such an appalling and
mysterious disease that even the doctors feared for their lives each
day, though it was their business to face it.  How much more awful the
invisible foe must have seemed to a layman, and still more to one who
had to lead the attack on it as he did most cheerfully and
energetically without experience of the ways of infectious diseases!"


The first step was to surround the city with a cordon to put a stop to
the spread of the infection up-country.  This could be the more easily
and effectually carried out because Bombay City is built on an island.
A police guard was posted on the Sion and the Mahim Causeways, where
the road is carried over the water by long bridges, and at a ford
available at low water; a foot-track along the main water-supply was
boarded up; and the two railway-stations and all the Bunders were
watched by inspection parties.

[Sidenote: Special hospitals]

Within the city the principle was laid down that all persons suffering
from the plague must be brought into hospital.  This involved two
departments of labour; the first was to provide hospital accommodation,
the second to enforce the handing over of the patients.

To meet one of the manifold objections put forward by the population to
the use of hospitals, a system was started by which each community
should have its own building or camp.  This disposed of many
insuperable difficulties as to {169} the attendance on the sick, the
preparation of food, etc.; and so much did this concession to their
peculiar prejudices please the more enlightened communities, that their
leaders came in person to the General and offered to run hospitals for
their respective brotherhoods at their own expense.  Such offers were
willingly accepted, but control over these locations was rigidly
maintained in the hands of the Committee.  Indeed, so rapid was this
demand for special accommodation for each sect, that--


"A scheme of hospital organisation was designed, a special equipment of
staff, stores, furniture, and appliances being drawn on a ready basis,
suitable to any pressing demands....  So that on an order being issued
by the Committee for the institution of a hospital of any proportion,
the District Medical Officer had merely to follow the orders laid down
for a hospital of the size indicated....  Copies of the plan and
equipment of a one-section hospital (twenty beds) was accordingly
issued to the various executive departments of the Committee, and to
all contractors, with directions to regulate the constructions of
buildings and the supply of stores, medicines, and furniture
accordingly."[4]


[4] _Report_, p. 22.


Within one month of its creation the Committee were running forty-three
hospitals, of which fifteen were Government and twenty-eight were
special private institutions such as have been described.  In every
detail of the internal management of these private {170} institutions
the will of the Dictator prevailed.  He was always a welcome visitor;
he took the keenest interest in the symptoms as they developed in any
exceptional cases, and he made sure that those peculiarly Christian
principles should be upheld which decree that there should be no
distinction of caste in any one "jamat," no difference made between
high and low, rich and poor, and that all the sick should receive equal
attention.

But it was one thing to provide model buildings and the best of
attendance, and another to persuade the relatives of the sick to bring
in the patients.  At the same time the segregation of the sick was the
basis of the whole policy, and it was to secure this end that the
house-to-house visitation was instituted.

While the mere idea of such a thing inflamed the minds of the writers
in the Native Press, in practice the people soon found out that every
consideration was shown.  An appeal was made to the native gentlemen
who were Justices of the Peace to attend at such visitations, and this
had an excellent effect.  White men did not enter the houses unless
opposition was made; in the street a small body of troops was employed
as a show of authority, but these were mostly drawn from the Native
regiments.  In no case was violence needed; the only pressure used was
the personal presence of the General, the force of his will and
character, the persuasion of his words uttered in their own tongue; the
people grew to have faith in his promises, to {171} appreciate his
devotion to their interests, and to respect his methods.

[Sidenote: Drives the brake]

The Fire Brigade brake was commandeered to carry the search-parties.
The rendezvous was at daybreak; every one had to be punctual, for the
General waited for no one.  The Committee was accompanied by officials
with special knowledge of the quarter to be visited, and there were
always a few lady-doctors present.

Supplies were taken in tiffin-baskets, but, says Dr. Dimmock, "the
General's spare diet was a subject of wondering comment; some bread and
dried fruit and a bottle of soda water was his usual breakfast, and his
untiring energy on such diet was marvellous."

The General himself drove the brake, and one or other of the Plague
Committee staff would sit on the box in order to give him an
opportunity of discussing urgent matters.

On one occasion in April such a search-party was organised for an
essentially Mahommedan quarter, where some opposition might be
expected.  The locality was occupied by Memons, Sunni Mahommedans, and
opulent merchants hailing from Cutch.  The usual military precautions
were taken, and house-to-house visitation was in full swing.  In a
five-storied building in Kambekar Street occupied by rich Memons a
plague case was discovered on the third floor.  The patient was a Memon
boy aged twenty, belonging to the rich family of Noorani, who were also
the "Patels of the Moholla," _i.e._ leaders of the neighbourhood.  The
usual {172} certificate was made out, in the name of the patient, Haji
Ayub Haji Abdul Rahim Noorani, by the sub-divisional medical officer,
and the family were informed that the young man would be removed to the
hospital.  To this they objected, and already a sullen crowd had
assembled outside.  In Mahommedan quarters the crowd is essentially
male, with an admixture of children; the women, being "Purdah Nashins,"
do not show themselves.

On being informed of the trouble, the General, who was a little farther
up the street, immediately repaired to the spot, speaking conciliatory
words to the crowd as he made his way to the third floor and entered
the room.  Here he selected the oldest member of the family and "very
courteously" discussed with him the necessity for the removal of the
youth to hospital.  In the meantime the new hand ambulance (which was a
litter on a pair of bicycle wheels, worked out on an idea of the
General's) reached the door; but the sight of it upset the parents so
much that they withdrew their reluctant consent to Haji's removal.
Recollecting that he was dealing with a wealthy family, the General
suggested that they should send for one of their own carriages.
Impervious to any notions of infection, but highly conscious of their
local standing, the family readily consented to this compromise.
Having won his point, the General made his way down to the street,
where the crowd was now very dense: he whispered to a native inspector,
slipping a few rupees into his {173} hand.  In a few minutes there was
a vast scramble for sweets which were flying in every direction; under
cover of this bombardment the patient was successfully carried off in
an English brougham drawn by richly caparisoned white horses.[5]


[5] Recollections furnished by Mr. Louis Godniho, Deputy Officer; see
also _Advocate of India_, April 3, 1897.


[Sidenote: The Seedee king]

On another occasion the quarter known as Kazipura was selected for the
morning's search work.  Kazipura is inhabited by all classes of
Mahommedans, including the African Negroes or Seedees.  On the arrival
of the brake the party broke up and entered various dwellings.  One
party, consisting of two members of the Committee and Dr. Sorab
Hormusjee (to whom I am indebted for this story, and who held the
appointment of Lady Assistant to the Health Officer), came across a
Seedee boy aged eighteen years, whom they declared to be suffering from
the plague.  The mother denied this, saying her son was only tired,
having been dancing all night, and, supported by some male relatives,
angrily asserted that she would not allow his removal.

[Illustration: House-to=house visitation.]

Within a few minutes the streets and alleys were swarming with Seedees
armed with sticks, and a serious riot seemed inevitable.  But
fortunately the Chairman was on the spot; he instructed Mr. Vincent,
the Police Commissioner, to send for the Seedee King Makanda.  The
arrival of the Great Man and his Queen Sophie had a magic effect; a few
words of explanation {174} from the Chairman, a few words from the King
to the sick man's mother, won the day for the cause of law and order.

The third story that I have selected is told by Miss Remy, a nursing
sister of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.  As her contribution
describes the horrible dens that were daily visited I give her
recollections in her own words:


"When plague broke out in Bombay I gave up my post for a time (as
Matron of a Maternity Hospital attached to a College School) and was
selected by the Plague Committee to organise and take charge of the
Grant Road Hospital till such time as the Roman Catholic Sisters of the
Order of Jesus and Mary were able to take up the work as they had
promised.  From this hospital--the Police Hospital, where I afterwards
worked--I was taken out on several occasions by the Plague Committee in
their house-to-house visitation.  The people have strong prejudices
against natives of another caste, and especially Europeans, approaching
too near their places, so that in examining the houses it was necessary
to respect the feelings of the owners in this regard.  The rooms are
usually 10 ft. by 10 ft.; the floor sometimes is of clay beaten down
till it is firm and smooth and covered with a layer of liquid cow-dung,
which quickly dries, forming a clean and neat surface; this is renewed
at short intervals of a week or so.  The internal arrangements are very
simple; the cooking-place, usually surrounded by shining brass and
copper pots, occupies a corner of the room, a low charpoy or cot in
another, bundles of firewood, cow-dung cakes used as fuel, are stocked
in odd recesses with a collection of dried fish and grain.  General
{175} Gatacre, always courteous and tactful, was most careful in
observing their prejudices.  He always asked me to go in first and
report if any of the occupants were suffering from plague or other
causes, and also as to the condition of their room.  The General would
follow closely, and as the door opened to admit me he would look into
the room.  If it was particularly clean and cared-for, he invariably
rewarded the occupants with a rupee or so as encouragement.  He was
quick to see things, patient with details, and possessed of a tact and
eloquence which smoothed over many difficulties that came in the way of
our work.  He was particularly fond of little children, and I have
often seen him pat their heads and slip some coppers into their hands
as we went along visiting the different tenements.  One incident I
remember very well.  On leaving the neighbourhood of Ripon Road, after
visiting a long row of _chawls_, we were followed by a crowd of
children, about fifty or more.  Suddenly on turning a corner we came
upon a sweet shop.  The General went up to the stall and, to the utter
amazement and indignation of the owner, seized several trays of the
sweets and scattered them on the pavement, when there was a general
scramble and loud hurrahs.  Before the man could remonstrate Sir
William took a handful of loose silver from his pocket and placed it on
the counter.  This more than compensated the man for the sweets, and he
smiled and salaamed."


During this systematic visitation hovels were discovered where white
men had never before penetrated; scores of houses were boarded up and
labelled "U.H.H.," which stood for "Unfit for human habitation."

{176}

In _The Times of India_ of March 31, 1897, we have a graphic but, alas!
lengthy account of the visit of the Committee to a Mahommedan quarter
to sanction buildings selected for use as hospitals.  We read: "When
the General's brake was sighted they lustily cheered him."  On this
occasion a feast and a vote of thanks was part of the programme.


"Tea and coffee were provided by the members of the party.  When all
were seated, Khan Bahadur Cassum Mitha rose and said in Hindustani:

"'General Gatacre,--We have been much honoured by your visit to this
place to-day.  Since you have assumed the command of affairs relating
to this dire pestilence, we have learnt to assure ourselves of our
safety.  We are convinced that you honour our religious feelings, and
we believe that what you do is for our own good.  You have perhaps no
idea of the esteem and respect you command among us.  You have won over
our hearts by your noble demeanour, and on the altar of your popularity
we are ready to sacrifice everything....  In you, General, we find a
saviour, and we thank Lord Sandhurst for sending you among us.  You may
count on our assistance at any and every moment.  Our lives and our
money will be always at your command.'"[6]


[6] See _Bombay Gazette_, March 31, 1897.


[Sidenote: Opposition]

As if in protest against the compliance of the great majority to the
wishes of Government, one sect of Mahommedans, the Sunnis, showed
themselves very refractory.  After much elaborate {177} letter-writing
the Headmen sent a Mr. Raikes to lay before the Plague Committee the
objections to their proceedings.  At the conference that was arranged
the delegate was heckled into expressing himself clearly: "'It really
comes to this,' he said; 'they ask you to minimise as far as you
possibly can the great objections they have to the removal of the sick
by not doing it at all.'"[7]  To which the Chairman seems to have
rapped out: "That is absolute nonsense!"--to the great amusement of his
supporters.  But though his words were pointed, his conduct was
deliberate, and his patience faultless, for in a leading article we
read:


[7] See _Advocate of India_, March 31, 1897.


"The correspondence between General Gatacre and the representatives of
the Sunni Mahommedans will satisfy every one that the community has
been treated with extraordinary patience.  The Chairman of the
Committee has given two long interviews to the Sunni leaders, who have
had professional assistance in placing their views before him.  He has
listened patiently and respectfully to every argument and objection
that has been put before him; they have gone to the Governor with a
letter which put their case at its strongest; and once again they have
gone back to General Gatacre, who once more, in replying to their
solicitors, treats them with a kindness and a consideration which sheer
stubbornness seldom meets with in this world."[8]


[8] See _Times of India_, April 7, 1897.


The show of troops was slightly increased {178} when the recalcitrant
quarter was visited, but this precaution had due effect, and no
violence took place.

After about six weeks of unsparing toil and incredible devotion, it was
becoming clear that the labours of all those concerned were not in
vain: the returns were showing a steady and unmistakable decline.  But
this had not been accomplished without very great persistence on every
side.  The General writes:


"I hope I shall hold out all right, but the strain is pretty severe;
some of my Committee are feeling it, but have not broken down yet.  We
are working from fourteen to eighteen hours in the day, which does not
give me much time for writing."


That he won the loyal support of all his colleagues is clear from the
following letter:


"... The General is keeping very well; the amount of work he gets
through is tremendous.  There is one thing about him that has struck me
very much, and that is the extraordinary personal influence he quite
unconsciously exerts over the men working under him.  A Surgeon-Colonel
H---- has been sent down from Chitral for plague duty here, and he
dislikes the whole thing.  He had congenial work up there, a lovely
climate, snow and frost, a nice house with a lovely garden; and he has
come down to work in the slums of Bombay at the hottest time of the
year, with no friends in the place, and a most enervating climate.  He
says that if any one else but General Gatacre was at the head of
affairs, he would resign to-morrow.  {179} Major B---- is the same.
His staff appointment will be up in October; he has eight months' leave
due to him, and would have taken it if there had been any other General
here.  But he knows how busy General Gatacre is with the plague, and
feels that it would be hard on him to get a new A.A.G. just now.  And
Major B---- is a hard-headed man, with, one would think, little
sentiment about him.  But I could give you many instances.  Captain
C---- of the Bombay Infantry, who is working as a secretary in the
office, is only staying because General Gatacre is the Chief....  The
General had a great dinner last month for all the medical men in
Bombay, and as they refrained from discussing the plague, or their
methods of treating it, it went off very well.  Last week we had
another dinner of twenty-four, to which all the Russian, German, and
Austrian scientists and all the foreign consuls were invited; it was a
decidedly interesting evening."


On April 30 the General writes:


"... We are still struggling with the plague, and though it is milder
in Bombay it is still dreadfully severe in the provinces all around.
We have now been put on to take up the provinces, and it is like paying
the labourers of an enormous town when our pay-day comes on....  The
work and worry here is unceasing, and I really don't know when we shall
be out of the wood."


And again a fortnight later:


"The climate, though good for Bombay, is beastly, and there is still
much sickness about.  {180} We lost a nurse, Miss Horne, ten days ago,
of plague.  In Bombay the mortality has come down to nearly normal, but
in Cutch-Mandvi it is still very bad; at the latter place, with a
population of 10,000 actually present, they have lost 2,000 in the last
fortnight!  I am just beginning to write the Report; it will take about
two months, I think.  We trust the disease will not break out again
during the rains, but people know so little about it that it is
impossible to say."


Writing on May 21, 1897, he says:


"... Our work has not lightened much here yet, although the disease is
under control.  You see the same organisation must exist to prevent the
plague breaking out again as up to date has existed for controlling it.
There is much plague in the districts, and people are trying to get
back to Bombay.  Many come in with the disease on them, but we catch
them all at the stations and Bunders, and put them in hospital.  Now we
are stopping every one coming in and detaining them eight days, to make
sure they have not got the disease."


In India that year the Queen's birthday was to be celebrated on June
22.  Lord Sandhurst invited the General to his official dinner on the
occasion, and urged him to come to Poona for a few days' change; but
the latter declined the kind invitation, being fearful lest
disturbances should occur in Bombay owing to the general holiday.

[Sidenote: A murderous assault]

That very night, at Poona, as the guests were returning after the
dinner, a horrible outrage was {181} perpetrated.  In the darkness
armed men climbed on to the back of two open carriages and shot the
officers riding in them.  Mr. Ayerst, who with his wife was in the
first carriage attacked, died on the spot, being shot through the head.
It was afterwards shown that there was no ill-feeling against this
young officer, and that he was the victim of a mistake.  In the
carriage immediately following, Mr. Rand, a political officer who had
been acting as Chairman of the Poona Plague Committee, was driving
alone; he was shot through the lungs, and though at one time there
seemed some hope of his recovery, he succumbed about ten days later.

It was well known that Gatacre had been receiving threatening
letters[9]; violent language of this sort had even appeared in the
papers.  It was therefore natural that a very strong wave of sympathy
and resentment at such an outrage should have been felt in Bombay,
where the measures likely to provoke such personal retribution had
necessarily been more drastic.


[9] See _Advocate of India_, April 13, 1897.


The General writes on June 25:


"... Our dinner was a success, but the affair at Poona has rather upset
people; it appears that the people there have been determined to have
the blood of the Plague Committee, and accordingly arranged to
assassinate them.  Rand I fear must die; Ayerst, who was shot by
mistake, was killed at once; L----, who was on the Committee as
segregation officer, was wanted, but the assassin mistook Ayerst for
{182} him.  I trust the man will be discovered; we know who the
instigator is, but it will be difficult to prove it.  I wish I was on
the job.  I went to Poona yesterday, and saw the place, and had a long
talk with Brewin, head detective; he seems fairly confident he will
trace the murderers and bring the crime home to the suspected
instigators."


[Sidenote: Farewell]

Though telegrams conveying the welcome news had reached him a fortnight
earlier, it was not till the end of June that Bombay learnt that its
General Officer Commanding had been appointed to the command of a
Brigade at Aldershot, and would shortly be leaving the scene of his
labours.  The city had now been pronounced free from plague, hospitals
were being closed on all sides, and employés of all ranks were daily
dismissed.  The Gatacre Committee had succeeded in stamping out the
plague, and a chorus of gratitude arose towards the man to whose
courage and determination the success of the attempt was mainly
attributed.  Every community wished to present him with a token of its
recognition, while all combined to entertain him "on a very grand
scale."[10]  Leave was obtained from the Government of India to accept
five testimonials, which, being cased in the silver cylinders familiar
to the Anglo-Indian, are as beautiful as their contents are unique.
Two of these offerings were a source of special pride and pleasure to
their recipient.  The casket {183} presented by "The Citizens of
Bombay" contains a scroll of parchment on which sixty signatures
testify that all the representative men in the city, Christian,
Mussulman, and Hindu, all merged their differences in their unanimous
appreciation of the brilliant qualities and self-sacrificing devotion
of the Chairman of the Bombay Plague Committee.  A silver box presented
by the seven officers who had so loyally served on the Committee
throughout those four arduous months was also specially prized.  But I
am very sure that he would wish me not to omit a record of the offering
of the Plague Staff, native clerks, engineers, and workmen of all
classes; or of the touching farewell accorded him by the Sisters of the
Cross at the Bandora Convent.


[10] See _Bombay Gazette_, July 6, 1897, and _Times of India_, July 22,
1807.


On July 2, one week before he sailed for home, he writes:


"I am looking forward to getting back to life again; I have been buried
in a plague-pit for the last few months."



{184}

CHAPTER XII

1897-1898

FROM ALDERSHOT TO BERBER

[Sidenote: 1897]

When Gatacre reached Aldershot on Sunday, August 11, 1897, he found
that his Brigade was already engaged in manoeuvres.  The training was
so arranged that year that though a continuous scheme was carried on
from day to day, the troops returned each evening to their barracks.
His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, who commanded the Aldershot
District, sent a kind message of welcome to the new Brigadier, saying
that he would not expect to see him out for the first few days, but
hoped that he would soon be able to take up the command of his troops
in the field.

[Sidenote: Route-marching]

As the field-days all took place within easy reach of Aldershot, many
ladies used at first to ride out on their bicycles to see what was
going on.  This practice was, however, suddenly dropped after we learnt
that two of our friends had been taken prisoners one day.  They were
detained, and entertained, at the Headquarter Camp during the day's
operations, and were not liberated until the troops were on the march
{185} homewards.  It was thought that ladies thus prowling round until
they got in touch with their husbands' corps would quite innocently
carry information that would materially affect the execution of the
military scheme.

It was a great pleasure to Gatacre to find himself in England again.
His sociable and friendly instincts all came into play.  I remember his
getting hold of a list of the cadets at Sandhurst, and seeking out the
sons of his friends, and asking them over to such events as would
interest them.  He set about getting horses, and looked forward to a
hunting season at home.  The Brigade route-marching was positively an
enjoyment to him; he took so much interest in his new regiments that he
would get up early on the route-marching days and be on the barrack
square to see the first battalion march out, and sit there on his horse
until the last man of the last battalion had passed him.  Then
cantering on, he would work his way up to the head of the column and
see the first and the last company march in.  He found the most genuine
and unaffected pleasure in every phase of his work.  The conditions
under which it was carried out were much easier and less exacting than
they had been in India.  Indeed, the light work that goes on after
October 1 was so much of a holiday to him that all thought of long
leave was postponed till later in the season.

At Christmas he took ten days' leave, which we spent at my father's
house in Sussex.  The distance being only twenty-four miles, and the
{186} weather being open, we did the journey on horseback, and had a
few days' hunting with Lord Leconfield's hounds during our visit.  On
Monday, January 3, we rode back, and, arriving late, had just sat down
to luncheon when the A.D.C. suddenly turned up, bringing a telegram in
his hand.

[Sidenote: 1898]

"This seemed so important, sir," he said, "that I thought I ought to
bring it myself."

The telegram was from the War Office in London to the Aldershot
Divisional Office, and ran:


"Please send General Gatacre and Major Snow, Brigade-Major, here as
soon as possible; may be wanted for foreign service."


There had been a paragraph in the morning papers announcing the
movement of troops from Cairo up the Nile, and this news supplied us
with the true interpretation.  The General got away by the next train,
and in the afternoon sent back this telegram:


"Arrive 9.15; sail Wednesday next."


Having returned so recently from India, the General had all that he
wanted in the way of field-service uniform and camp kit.  Though
twenty-four hours seemed a short time in which to make preparations for
such a momentous journey, still he got away more comfortably than the
other men who had received the same short summons.  On Tuesday morning
he cleared up work in the office, and handed over {187} his Brigade; he
left Aldershot in the evening, and started from Charing Cross at 8.30
a.m. on Wednesday, January 5, 1898, for Egypt, via Marseilles.

There is no need to tell over again the long story of the gradual loss
of the Soudan to Egypt, with the encroachment of the Dervish Empire,
nor of the fall of Khartoum with the death of General Gordon ("my
brother dreamer in an iron race") on January 26, 1885, nor of the
patient preparation that had been going on in the thirteen years that
had passed.  This book is concerned only with the final act of the
drama, the defeat of the forces of the Khalifa Abdullahi, and the
recovery of the capital.

In 1898 Sir Herbert Kitchener was Sirdar of the Egyptian Army.  He had
organised his force for the purpose it was to fulfil, and had gradually
crept onwards up the Nile, until, on September 3, 1897, he reached and
occupied Berber.  At that point he was, as it were, within striking
distance of Khartoum.  This view seems also to have been held by the
enemy, for in December the Intelligence Department heard of warlike
preparations on his part.  This report precipitated the massing of the
forces on our side.  The Sirdar knew that he could call for the
assistance of British troops when the real struggle was to take place,
and he made his call in December.

Orders were immediately issued for the concentration of three
battalions at Wady Halfa.  The 1st Lincolnshire and the 1st Cameron
{188} Highlanders were already at Cairo, the 1st Warwickshire were
moved from Alexandria, while the 1st Seaforth Highlanders at Malta were
warned and shipped to Cairo in a very short space of time.  This
regiment was also pushed forward, as soon as others had been brought
from Crete and Gibraltar and Burma, to maintain the usual garrison in
Lower Egypt.  The command of this service Brigade was given to
Major-General W. F. Gatacre, C.B., D.S.O.  Major d'Oyly Snow
accompanied him as Brigade-Major, and Captain R. G. Brooke as A.D.C.

The General proceeded by train to Assouan, and by boat to Wady Halfa,
which he reached on Thursday, January 25.  It was here that he first
met the Sirdar.  But the troops had already passed on in front to
Railhead, which was then the other side of Abu Hamed.  From Wady Halfa
the new Desert Railway, which was still under construction, leaves the
Nile and strikes out to the south-east across the open country towards
Abu Hamed, a journey of about 250 miles.

Writing from Camp Guheish, about seventeen miles south of Abu Hamed, on
February 2, the General says:


"We arrived here last night about eight o'clock, after a long journey
across the desert from Halfa.  Such a desert--not a thing to be seen
but sand and a few low black rocks jutting out of the plain.  A few
straw-coloured birds, like stonechats, and a wagtail I saw at one
place; goodness knows what they live on.  At {189} one o'clock we were
within one mile of Abu Hamed, and were steaming steadily along, when,
in ploughing through a sand-drift, we went off the line, and had to
turn to and clear the line with the few shovels on the train and our
hands.  Fortunately we were only a mile from Abu Hamed, so I sent on a
messenger, and in fifty minutes a relief train came up, and, with the
help of jacks, the engine was got on to the line again in four hours.
It was fortunate we did not run off the line in the middle of the
Desert, or we should have been delayed at least a day, and would have
been put to inconvenience for food, though of course we had some.
Well, I found Snow waiting for us, and we detrained our horses safely,
and then, after going on another mile, we came to our camp, placed
between the Nile and the railway--a howling desert, with a tremendous
wind blowing night and day.  The dust fills everything, but the climate
up to date is magnificent, and I hope will continue so for a long time;
quite cold at night and in the morning, sufficient to make me put on my
great-coat, and at night, though of course I sleep in my clothes, I am
glad of all the blankets I can put on....  The Maxim guns I left at
Halfa temporarily, as we haven't got sufficient food for the mules yet,
but as soon as the train is running through we shall have them up."


A fortnight later the railway had grown longer, and as Railhead
advanced, so the British Brigade moved southwards and finally camped at
Abu Dis.

Gatacre used the three weeks that the troops were encamped by the
railway to get in touch with his Brigade--to feel and to improve their
{190} marching powers.  His methods excited some comment at the time,
but afterwards, when there was a real call for exceptional exertions,
it was frankly admitted that the previous training had been of great
value.  "It is impossible to deny that, while discipline and health
were successfully maintained, the general efficiency was greatly
increased."[1]


[1] _The River War_, by Winston Spencer Churchill, vol. i. p. 366.


There were, however, two directions in which efficiency was seriously
hampered--boots and bullets.  The General writes on February 2:


"The present-shaped bullet .303 Lee-Metford rifle has little stopping
power.  Well, we have only this class of ammunition, so I am altering
the shape of the bullet to that of the Dum-Dum bullet, which has a
rounded point.  I do this by filing the point off.  Before I left Cairo
I provided four hundred files and small gauges to test the length of
the altered bullet, and daily here we have 2,800 men engaged on this
work.  I borrowed fifty railway rails and mounted them flat side
uppermost, to form anvils on which to file.  We have a portion of men
unpacking, and another portion packing, so that the same men are always
at the same work.  The men are getting very sharp at it; it would make
a capital picture.  This is a terrible place for boots, and many of the
men whose boots were not new at starting have mere apologies for boots
on their feet.  Fortunately, we have time to rectify this, and I have
taken the necessary steps."


And again a week later:


"The men are working very well; we have {191} no drink, and therefore
no crime or sickness.  I am getting on well with altering our
ammunition.  We have 3,000,000 rounds to alter, but are making good
progress, altering about 80,000 rounds per day."


In the same letter we read:


"There are crocodiles in the river here, but not many.  A fisherman
caught one about three feet long, a most vicious little brute, who
snaps at everyone and everything; he is tied by the middle with a piece
of string, and swims about in a bath; he will probably be eaten when
his master gets hungry.  Three days ago a gazelle was trapped and sent
in to us by a native.  He was uninjured, and a beautiful little brute,
with large eyes like Lorna's.  We all decided to keep him as a pet, and
he got quite tame in a few hours.  But alas! we got hungry, and some
one suggested that he might escape--so we ate him.  Perhaps it was the
wisest course."

In a letter dated Abu Dis, February 24, we get the first word of the
forced march that was ordered on the following day:


"I am so frightfully busy that I cannot find time for anything, so I
think I may as well sit down and write to you for relaxation.
Yesterday we had a seventy-mile ride to a place called Bastinab and
back, looking out for future camping-grounds, for I have got a hint to
be ready to move on at once, as Mahmoud at Metemma has crossed over to
the east side of the Nile, and threatens to attack Atbara and
Berber....  We may have to move and stack our camp baggage, etc., by
the side of the line {192} in the desert, and march on in light order,
the same sort of thing as in Chitral--a most exciting business this
would be, wouldn't it?

"My Maxim Battery came in to-day; I am quite pleased to get it.  The
men are looking splendid, and we have only thirty or so sick out of a
total strength of nearly 3,000.  I have now got my camel transport,
something like 800 animals; this makes me more independent, and if I am
required to move I can do so."


Between February 22 and 25 a series of telegrams had been flying
between the Sirdar at Berber and the Brigadier at Abu Dis.  All the
details of the march which would be necessary to bring the British
troops forward were proposed on the one side and sanctioned on the
other, so that when on Friday, February 25, the following telegram was
received at midday, orders were immediately issued and the start was
made that evening.


"News has come in that enemy in ten rubs advancing.  You can therefore
move Brigade as arranged.--SIRDAR."


(A rub means any number between 500 and 1,500 men.)

To which this message was sent in reply:


"I shall arrive at Atbara Camp nine or ten o'clock on Wednesday second
with Maxims and 2,000 men; guns and cavalry will arrive on
first.--GATACRE."


I have found a rough draft of the official {193} report of the forced
march made by the British Brigade on Berber in accordance with the
order received, and have decided to print this narrative almost as it
stands.


"The 1st Lincolnshire and detachment 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment,
with the six guns Maxim Battery, Royal Engineer detachment, Army
Hospital Corps, and Army Service Corps, moved to Railhead, sixteen
miles, by an empty ballast train, thence by route march seven and a
half miles to camp at El Sherreik, which they reached at daylight on
the morning of Saturday, February 26, all well.  Remainder of Warwicks
moved at midnight, arriving at Sherreik 7.30 a.m.  The 1st Cameron
Highlanders bivouacked by the side of the railway, and on the arrival
of a train at 5 a.m. were railed to Railhead.  They reached camp at
9.30 a.m. all well.

"At El Sherreik the Brigade halted for the day, and at 10 p.m. started
on their march for Diveryah.  Tea was made at Nedi, and the troops left
again, after resting, at 2.30 a.m. on Sunday.  Bastinab was reached
shortly after daybreak.  Captain Bainbridge, Egyptian Army, supplied
firewood, and fires were lit, it being very cold.  Here sixty pairs of
fantasses were taken, as no water was available _en route_.  The road
onward proved rocky and sandy in places, and was very heavy going for
tired men, but Diveryah was reached at 3 p.m.  The stony nature of the
country completely wore out many of the boots.  The last three miles
were very trying, as the sun was hot; there was no shade, and the men
felt the weight of their equipment.  The bivouac was laid in a small
nullah, running at right angles to the Nile, and the men made
themselves very comfortable.  Finding that a {194} great number of men
had worn through the soles of their boots, I arranged with Captain
Strickland, Egyptian Army, to convey about 400 men, under the command
of Major Napier, Cameron Highlanders, by an Egyptian steamer to Berber.
They left Diveryah on Monday morning, February 28, and reached Berber
the same day, where they were refitted from the boot store of the
Egyptian Army, and rejoined the Brigade on arrival.

"At 2.30 a.m. on Monday, February 28, the Brigade moved from its
bivouac _en route_ to Um Hosheyo by the desert track, which, almost
immediately after leaving the bivouac, lay through brushwood and broken
ground.  Owing to touch being lost by the rear battalion, a delay of
three-quarters of an hour ensued, when the march was resumed over a
rough and stony piece of country.  After about five miles the track
improved, and at 6.15 a.m. the first man of the Brigade marched into Um
Hosheyo.  Continuing its march the advanced guard reached a grove of
Dom palms at Wady Hamar at 8.30 a.m., where a halt was made till 4.30
p.m. to enable the troops to cook and sleep.  At 4.30 p.m. the troops
again moved forward over a good level track, and continued marching
until 10.45 p.m., at which hour Genenetti was reached.  Total distance
from El Sherreik to Genenetti forty-five miles.  Here we dropped
another 122 men whose boots had completely gone.

"At 3 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1, the Brigade paraded and moved off along
a fairly good track, heavy in places, for Aboudyeh, twelve miles.
After a trying hot march the Brigade reached a point two miles north of
Aboudyeh at 9 a.m., where they rested till 4.30 p.m.  Three men were
reported missing, but it was subsequently {195} ascertained that they
had proceeded with other men who had worn out their boots from
Genenetti, under command of Major Snow, Brigade-Major, with spare
ammunition and commissariat supplies.  At 4.30 p.m. the troops left
Aboudyeh for El Hassa, thirteen miles, a very hot evening, over (at
first) a good hard plain, crossed here and there by heavy sandy khors;
there was little wind, and the column marched till 11 p.m. through
dense clouds of dust.  After marching about two miles the Brigade
halted to give the men water at Aboudyeh, where a certain number of
wells containing brackish water were found.  The inhabitants turned out
and provided _dilus_ (buckets) and ropes, willingly giving the men
water.  Company after company filed past, each man getting half a
canteen full of water.  After this halt no more water was obtainable,
as the route lay inland, and the men had to rely on their water-bottles.

"At 11 p.m. on Tuesday the Brigade filed on to the El Hassa
camping-ground, about three miles north of Berber, and bivouacked by
the side of the Nile.  Two miles before reaching El Hassa, the General
Officer Commanding received a letter by camel messenger from His
Excellency the Sirdar, directing that the column should halt for
twenty-four hours, and pass through Berber at 5.30 a.m. on the morning
of March 3.  The Brigade, therefore, remained halted till 3.30 a.m. on
the morning of Thursday the 3rd, when it marched for Berber.

"On arriving at the north end of the town of Berber, the column was
reinforced by the 400 men who had been refitted with boots from the
Egyptian Army stores.  The Sirdar met the column at about 5.30 a.m. on
the outskirts of the town, and was heartily cheered by the troops {196}
as they passed him.  The bands of the Soudanese battalions played in
the three regiments, and the men met with a great reception from all
ranks of the battalions in garrison, who turned out to a man, and
afterwards provided tea and cigarettes for the men, and breakfasts for
the officers, at the camping-ground.  The officers likewise received
much hospitality at the hands of the Sirdar and the various messes in
garrison.  At 4.30 p.m. the troops moved on again to Camp Dabeika,
eleven miles from Berber, along an excellent desert track, about a mile
from, and parallel to, the Nile.  The Brigade arrived with no sick man.
The conduct of the troops during the whole march was excellent; there
were no cases of difficulty between them and the natives of the
country, and there was no crime, which may be considered as highly
satisfactory and showing the state of discipline in which the
commanding officers hold their regiments."


The General marched the greater part of the way on foot, and made use
of his spare horses to mount footsore men.  When questioned on this
point, he gave the following reply in a letter:


"With regard to my doing our long march on foot, it was nothing to me;
troops necessarily march slowly, and it is pleasanter and less
fatiguing (not to speak of its being a better example) for me to walk
all the way.  I always had my horse with me, and I constantly had to
get on to go to the head of the column, or the tail, to see if all was
going right, and this made a nice change."


The distance from Railhead to El Hassa, just {197} short of Berber, was
sixty-five to seventy miles, and this journey was accomplished between
10 p.m. on Saturday and 11 p.m. on Tuesday--seventy-three hours.
Another fifteen miles on Thursday completed the march to Dabeika.

This concentration had its effect on the enemy, who gave up any idea of
attacking the Sirdar on the Nile, and the camp was unmolested for the
next three weeks.  Some critics have on this account made out that
Gatacre overtaxed his troops in bringing them along at an unnecessary
pace in such a climate; but surely the measure of the necessity for
rapidity lies in the danger which this junction averted rather than in
the security which it brought about.  Moreover, it was the Sirdar on
the spot who decided and gave orders: the General carried them out.  At
the time he wrote of it as a race between himself and Mahmoud.



{198}

CHAPTER XIII

1898

ATBARA AND OMDURMAN

[Sidenote: Combined force]

All through the winter every movement on the part of the Dervish
leaders was carefully watched by the gun-boats on the Nile and the
Egyptian cavalry on its banks.  The Intelligence Department had a
system of espionage by which the feeling inside Omdurman was made known
to them.  The Sirdar knew that the Khalifa was unwilling to turn out
his main army, but that a large force was preparing to move out of
Metemma under the combined command of the Emir Mahmoud and the cavalry
leader Osman Digna.  Before long the Sirdar knew that this force had
crossed to Shendy on the right bank of the Nile on February 28, and
that on March 13 they had reached Aliab, which is only twenty miles
south of Dakila, the Egyptian outpost.  But their subsequent designs
were not known.  It was doubtful whether their scheme was to attack the
Sirdar at Dakila, a fort which had recently been built on the right
bank of the Nile, where the large tributary stream of the Atbara flows
in from the south-east, or to make a dash {199} on Berber and sever the
railway communication lower down.  Eventually the Dervish leader found
himself unable to carry out either of these schemes, the fortress
appearing too formidable after the arrival of the British contingent,
and Berber proving too remote.  He decided therefore to threaten both
points, and took up a strong position on the banks of the Atbara, about
thirty miles above Dakila, which he fortified and entrenched
elaborately, and waited for his foes to take the initiative.

The force with which the Sirdar could meet the enemy was composed of
the British Brigade, which had now been completed to four battalions by
the arrival of the Seaforth Highlanders, and three Brigades of the
Egyptian Army, commanded respectively by Colonel Maxwell, Colonel
Macdonald, and Colonel Lewis.  There were also eight squadrons of
cavalry, and two Maxim guns under Colonel Broadwood, six companies of
the Camel Corps under Major Tudway, and some artillery, both heavy and
light, under Colonel Long.  The total ran up to nearly 14,000 men of
all arms.  This force was concentrated at Kenur on the Nile, and all
the officers seem genuinely to have held the opinion that contact with
the enemy might occur at any moment.  But as it turned out, it was not
till seventeen days after the Sirdar's force started on their march to
meet the enemy that the two armies met.

On Sunday, March 20, the whole force marched across the angle of the
desert to Da {200} Hudi, a camp on the Atbara River about twelve miles
south-east of Kenur.  They started as if only for a reconnaissance in
force, for we read: "We are taking only one day's supplies and what we
stand up in, one blanket being carried for us on camels."  The hospital
staff and transport was cut down to such narrow dimensions that it was
hardly adequate for the work when the big fight really took place.
Through all the next seventeen days the force lived on tinned beef and
biscuits, in daily anticipation of closing with the enemy.  But what
was privation, discomfort, and hardship to every man in the force was
vexation of spirit also to Gatacre.  Writing on March 30, he says:


"We may move to-morrow against Mahmoud, who is still in his entrenched
jungle position at Hilgi on the east bank of the Atbara, eighteen miles
south of this.  I have been urging the Sirdar to move forward and
attack him, as we have been inactive for some days, while Mahmoud is
merely sitting and waiting for us.  The inaction has a bad effect, both
on our men and on the enemy."


And again on April 3:


"We are leaving the camp to-morrow, and going on to one three and a
half to four miles south of Abadar.  I was in great hopes that the
Sirdar would attack Mahmoud at once.  I thought I had persuaded him,
but he wired my recommendation to Lord Cromer, and gave his own opinion
and that of General Hunter, which were for waiting.  To-day he got a
wire from Lord Cromer, deciding not to attack--a great {201} pity, I
think.  At present the situation is as under: Mahmoud is in a zariba
about ten miles from here, with about 20,000 men, very much crushed up
for space, exceedingly hard up for food, and so placed that they
cannot, in the event of a reverse, get away at all as an organised
force.  There never was such a chance, and we are missing it."


Continuing his letter on the following day, he says:


"Yesterday, after writing so far, I got a bad go of colic, or malaria,
or something, which made me feel very bad; but I am better to-day, and
hope to be all right to-morrow.  I hear that another telegram has come
from Lord Cromer, saying, on consideration he leaves the matter to the
Sirdar, so I presume he will now attack as soon as possible.  I hope
so.  We have moved to-day to Abadar, and are encamped in a shady belt
of trees, near the river, but it is getting very hot."


[Sidenote: A forward policy]

During this time there had been frequent reconnaissances in the
direction of the enemy's camp by the cavalry and Camel Corps and
artillery.  Three small actions had been fought; and with the help of
the information thus obtained, and from the tales of deserters, the
position, size, and strength of Mahmoud's camp were known with
considerable accuracy.

It was the responsibility which Gatacre had incurred by advocating an
early attack on this fortified position, against the advice of others
better acquainted with Soudan warfare, that {202} coloured all his
dispositions when the day arrived.  He did not, however, let his
natural forwardness of character deceive him as to the resistance to be
overcome.  The author of _The River War_ has already made this point,
although he did not know the true interpretation of the situation.


"It is impossible not to sympathise with General Gatacre's obvious
determination that, whatever happened to the other parts of the
assault, the British Brigade should burst into the enclosure at all
costs.[1]


[1] _The River War_, vol. i. p. 457.


This feeling of exaggerated personal responsibility led the General to
take up his position at the head of his Brigade.  In his letter written
four days later he anticipates the criticism that would be levelled
against him on this account, and shows that he had weighed the point,
and had deliberately forsaken the traditional place.  Scientific
soldiers may criticise his action, but, according to Mr. Churchill,
there was to a civilian a certain grim splendour in the spectacle.[2]


[2] _Ibid._, vol. i. p. 468.


In the General's last letter before the fight we find the following
words:


"My men are ready.  I have taught them all I know.  We shall do our
best, and I think my regiments will do all I expect of them; God bless
you."


[Sidenote: The assault]

The battle of the Atbara was fought on Good Friday, April 8, 1898.  It
was a brilliant victory, and resulted in the capture of Mahmoud and the
{203} total defeat of his army.  The enemy's losses were estimated at
40 Emirs and 3,000 Dervishes killed.  On our side the losses were 24
killed and 101 wounded in the British Brigade, and 56 killed and 371
wounded in the Egyptian Army.  It is interesting to note that the
casualties in the two Egyptian Brigades, which took part in the assault
on the zariba simultaneously with the British regiments, amount to 381,
which gives a higher ratio per Brigade than the figure for the British
troops, which is 125.  So that it is scarcely possible to maintain that
the formation adopted in Gatacre's brigade was peculiarly destructive.

The General's own letter of April 14 from Darmali furnishes a very
graphic account of the engagement and the return march:


"They all did very well, but I had to get a bit forward to watch that
all went well.  Between you and me, a General Officer should not get up
into the firing line of his Brigade without good reason; this I know,
but I had good reasons for going there.  When your whole Brigade only
covers a space of 200 yards by 200 yards, it is immaterial where you
are, so far as the penetration of bullets is concerned, but what is
important is that the G.O.C. should be where he can watch any important
point....  Well, our men started the ball, and we pushed straight on
over the stockade.  It was pretty hot when we were pulling away the
zariba fence; the ground was flying up as if it was being harrowed all
round me, with the fire of the riflemen, and I lost a terrible bunch of
men at that {204} spot.  Of course I saw the sooner we got to the
stockade the sooner we should stop the rifle fire, so we rushed it, and
as soon as we were in we soon killed all the riflemen and the spearmen
there, but we had a real good fight.  The general operations of the
day, however, were as follows: On evening of the 7th (Thursday) the
British Brigade and three Egyptian Brigades moved out from Abadar at 6
p.m., my Brigade leading; we moved in square about three miles, sat
down in the Desert, had some food and water, and slept in square till 1
o'clock a.m.  Of course we took no blankets or anything with us, merely
one day's food, ammunition, and water.  At one o'clock we moved on in
square, the other brigades following; it was moonlight, and a curious
sight to see these three enormous hollow squares moving solemnly on
with not a note or a whisper even--no smoking.  We went on till just
before dawn, then halted and deployed into line; a fine line it
was--the Camerons, Seaforths, and Lincolnshires, with the Warwicks in
column on the left flank at right angles.

"We then advanced a bit, till we could see the Dem (zariba), pulled up,
and commenced firing with our artillery, in hopes of drawing Mahmoud
out to fight, and secondly of pounding his army well before we
assaulted the position.  Our cavalry was on my left, watching the left
flank; the Dervishes made several attempts to get their cavalry out,
but failed.  Well, after hammering away for an hour, the order for
assault was given, and away we went, the, Camerons covering the front
of the assaulting column, and firing as they went; directly we got on
to the crest of the hill men began to tumble about, and I gave the
order to rush the zariba and stockade.

{205}

[Sidenote: The return march]

"We lost some very good officers and men killed, but that must always
be; we lost fewer than I expected.  Captain Findlay, Camerons, a nice
fellow, was killed getting over the zariba.  Captain Urquhart, of the
Camerons, too, was killed.  He had just come back from the Staff
College on purpose to take part in the expedition.  Gore was quite a
boy.  I was with Captain Findlay most of the march to the zariba, as
his was the company of direction, and as we were marching principally
by the stars, I had to be there or thereabouts.  After they were dead I
cut off a bit of hair from Findlay and Urquhart to send home; Gore had
had his hair cut so short that none was procurable.  We buried them all
in one grave, immediately after the fight.  A curious sight: the Pipers
and Buglers of a Soudanese battalion played the Dead March in Saul,
then the Pipers of the Camerons and Seaforths played a Lament, then we
filled in the grave.  We had amongst the four Brigades about 600 killed
and wounded, and we had, immediately we had buried the dead and dressed
the wounded, to carry all these men back about eight miles across the
desert.  We told off eight men to each stretcher, and moved slowly
homewards, leaving at 6 p.m.  The fight was over about 8.45 a.m. I
think, but it took us all day to dress the wounded and build sheds for
them (of bushes).  The sun, of course, is very hot, and we had all to
sit in the desert, as the bush and the river-bank was so full of dead
and dying Dervishes as to make it inadvisable for our men to lie there.

      *      *      *      *      *

"Now I suppose we shall be here for three months, to refit and prepare
for the next go-in at Khartoum, which will require careful doing."


{206}

The Sirdar was naturally very much gratified at the decisive nature of
his victory, and was overwhelmed with telegrams of congratulation.  The
following quotation from an article in _Blackwood's Magazine_ of
December 1902 tells us how the Sirdar expressed himself to his
colleague:


"Kitchener was dictating his dispatch to the Queen when there passed in
front of us a pony led by a syce, and laden with spoils selected from
that field of plenty with the praiseworthy discrimination of an art
connoisseur.  Kitchener hailed the man, and selecting the finest coat
of mail and the most beautifully finished spear, bade me take them to
General Gatacre with his warmest thanks for the splendid gallantry and
good judgment with which he had led his fine Brigade.  I seem now to
see the pleasant light that shone in that brave soldier's eyes as I
gave him the message word for word.  What a splendid fellow, and how
willingly any of us would have given our right hands to save him from
the fate that befell him--at the hands of his own chiefs--in South
Africa."[3]


[3] _Ex_ article, "Campaigning with Kitchener," December 1902, p. 738.


In the official dispatch the Sirdar wrote:


"The high state of efficiency to which the British Brigade was brought
is, I consider, in a large measure due to the untiring energy and
devotion to duty of Major-General Gatacre and the loyal support
rendered him by the commanding officers of his battalions, all of whom
he has brought to favourable notice.  During the engagement on the 8th
inst. General Gatacre showed a fine example of gallant leading.  The
{207} cordiality and good feeling existing between the British and
Egyptian troops, who have fought shoulder to shoulder, is to a great
extent due to the hearty co-operation of General Gatacre, and I cannot
speak too highly of the services rendered by him and the troops under
his command in the recent operations."[4]


[4] _The Times_, Wednesday, May 25, 1898.


All through May, June, and July the time hung heavily for the British
Brigade.  They were quartered in the villages of Darmali and El Sillem,
the General's headquarters being at the former.  The temperature ran up
to 106° and 108° in the shade, but he makes light of the heat and says,
"One does not feel it as one does in India."

One little incident of these weary days has survived, and is recorded
by an officer in his recollections.


"When the General was inspecting the Ordnance workshops at our camp on
the Nile, a non-commissioned officer was brought to his notice as
having done very good work.  Gatacre complimented him highly, and said:

"'Now, what can I do for you?  I'll tell you what, you shall carry my
flag when we advance to Omdurman.'

"I believe the man's face was a picture, and he did not see it at all
in the same light."[5]


[5] _With the 72nd Highlanders in the Sudan Campaign_, by Colonel
Granville Egerton.



For, as all the Brigade knew, the General's flag had been carried at
the battle of the Atbara by Staff-Sergeant Wyeth, who had been shot
through the knee and had subsequently died of his {208} wound, so that
the non-commissioned officer had good cause to look on it as an
undesirable honour.

This matter of carrying a flag into action has also aroused comment,
but it is recorded that the Sirdar was always accompanied by the red
Egyptian Flag, and it is probable that, in flying a little Union Jack
behind him, the General had merely adopted this practice to flatter the
nationality of his troops.

At the end of May he made a trip in a gunboat to Shendy and Metemma,
which he much enjoyed.  In June he took a fortnight's leave to
Alexandria and Cairo.  It was while staying there that he received
official intimation of his having been advanced to Major-General's
rank, for hitherto his name had appeared in the Army List as a Colonel
with the temporary and local rank of Major-General.  According to
regulations, a medical examination was necessary before this promotion
could be confirmed.  The idea that there could be any question about
his health amused Gatacre greatly, and he offered, as a test, to run a
hundred yards' race with the Principal Medical Officer.  The challenge
was politely declined, and an appointment made for the formal
examination.

[Sidenote: Promotion]

In August Gatacre had the great satisfaction of finding himself in
command of a Division in the field.  A second Brigade of British troops
was being sent up, and Colonel Wauchope[6] and Colonel Lyttelton[7]
arrived from England to take {209} over the First and Second Brigades
respectively.  But however gratifying this promotion might be, it
lifted him farther from the soldiers and the fighting, and it is owing
to this circumstance that his name was so little mentioned in the story
of the fight before Omdurman.  This elevation, however, made no
difference to his work or his activity.  On August 17 he writes from
Dakila:


[6] The late Major-General Andrew Wauchope, C.B.

[7] General the Hon. Sir Neville Lyttelton, G.C.B.


"We are very busy now with embarkations and detrainments of troops
arriving from the north; we are up nearly every night, as trains arrive
at most unearthly hours; this of course is unavoidable.  My first
Brigade has gone on, and the embarkation of the second commences at
daybreak to-morrow morning....  We move by steamers towing barges to
Wad Bishara, about 145 miles, and thence by route march."


Wad Bishara is just below the Sixth Cataract, and lies on the western
bank about fifty-five miles north of Omdurman.

The defeat of the Dervish army at the battle of Omdurman took place on
Sunday, September 2, 1898.  The story was told with much detail in the
newspapers at the time, and has since been elaborately set out in _The
River War_, but, notwithstanding the existence of many records, this
book would not be complete without some account of such an important
event.  Though far from being a comprehensive narrative, the General's
letter is interesting in itself:


"_September_ 7, 1898.

"On the morning of September 1 we marched twelve miles through jungle,
finding everywhere {210} traces of the flight of the Dervish
outposts--dead animals, men, etc., who had been killed by them,
probably people attempting to desert.

"We arrived at Kerreri about 12 noon, and found a village on the river
with much open ground to our front and south-west, with a conical hill
standing up in the plain about two miles to the south.  We settled down
to eat in the village, and in about an hour our cavalry sent in to say
that the Khalifa's army was on the march from Omdurman towards us in
three bodies, a centre and two wings.  As soon as we had had our food,
we set to work to get our troops into position in a kind of semicircle
round the village, and strengthened ourselves with a zariba and trench,
where zariba thorns were unprocurable; this we finished by dark, and
then sat down to eat and sleep.  The night passed quietly.  The Khalifa
missed a chance of doing us much damage by not attacking at night, but
luckily he did not disturb us.

"At 3.30 a.m. we stood to our arms, ready for an attack at dawn.  It
was a beautiful moonlight night, and I had been up most of the time,
watching my line and inspecting the patrols, etc.  About six in the
morning of the 2nd we got intelligence that the Khalifa's army was
coming on, and presently they began to pour across the open ground
about two miles off, yelling like demons, apparently an endless stream
of men and horses.  I have never seen anything like it--banners flying
all along the line, guns firing, etc.  For an hour they kept pouring
along in thousands, and suddenly the centre of the mass turned, and
came straight for us.  I made all my men lie down, so that nothing
could be seen of us except our zariba fence.  As soon as they got
within range, about 2,300 yds., we opened {211} fire with all our guns,
rifles, and Maxims, and a hail of lead fell on the army; but they were
impervious to any influences of this kind, and kept pressing on and on
till we literally mowed them down by hundreds.  After about
three-quarters of an hour, the ground was strewn with dead and dying,
and then, as our fire did not slacken, they began to turn and go, but
only at a walk, no running about it.

[Sidenote: The great fight]

"Then we advanced, and after we had moved on about one mile the centre
of the Dervish force returned to the charge and fell upon a Soudanese
Brigade, to whose assistance I sent a British Brigade (General
Wauchope's); this stayed the Dervish attack, which was driven back and
followed up.  The whole force advanced and poured a heavy fire into the
retreating Dervishes, who slowly withdrew, fighting.  We had now been
at work fighting and moving from 3.30 a.m. under a heavy sun without
water, and had still four miles to march over a very sandy country, so
we started in fighting formation, keeping ourselves ready at any moment
to face west again.  Well, they finally drew off to the hills, and we
moved slowly on-towards the water, which one Brigade reached at 2 p.m.
and the other at 3.30 p.m.; halted there till 4.30 p.m., and then
marched on again into Omdurman, about three and a half miles; this we
did not reach till dark, as we had to go carefully.  There were still a
lot of Dervishes in the town, and our gun-boats were shelling them, up
the river and in the town.  We had to bivouac out in the desert, as we
could not find a suitable place.  We could get no water that night, as
the river was too far to send to, and it was not safe to allow small
parties to go out.

{212}

"Next morning we marched down to the river and bivouacked on the
water's edge, and there we are now.

"The total dead counted were 10,324 as near as could be; the wounded it
would be impossible to count, as they all crowded away on to the
river-bank and into the town, but there were thousands of them,
possibly another 10,000 or more, some with the most fearful wounds.  I
went out the next afternoon and also the day following with water for
the wounded.  I sent out many mules laden entirely with water, and we
relieved many of these unfortunates, but no doubt many died from want
of water.

"Now the whole thing is over, except an excursion to Fashoda, which the
Sirdar is arranging; I think he goes up to-morrow with 100 men of the
Northumberland Fusiliers in a steamer.

"We had a nice day at Khartoum; we (800 men from various battalions),
two or three bands, nearly all the officers, and an equal number of
Egyptians steamed up on gun-boats to Khartoum, landed opposite Gordon's
Palace, hoisted the Union Jack and Egyptian flag simultaneously,
saluted them, and then held a Memorial Service for Gordon.  All our
clergymen were present; the Sirdar made me stand on his right hand,
thus paying a compliment to the British troops.  Afterwards we wandered
about and hunted among the ruins to find traces of Gordon."


[Sidenote: Friendly words]

There is no doubt that the General enhanced his reputation enormously
in this campaign.  Not only was his work done in the sight of Europe,
but it was done under the eyes of a very exacting master.  _The World_
wrote at the time: {213} "Perhaps the highest compliment that can be
paid him is that he has satisfied the Sirdar."  Another paper said:
"General Gatacre is a keen soldier--a workman 's'il y en a.'  His idea
of practising troops in the field during a campaign was an inspiration.
The conventional idea has been that in the field the only alternatives
were fighting and taking it easy.  Result when campaigning in a bad
climate, laziness in camp, rum, fever, and loss of condition generally."

In a letter of congratulation from a Civil Service friend in India, we
find the following generous appreciation:


"You yourself are becoming more famous every day, to the great delight
of your friends and well-wishers; and I was proud to see that at the
Atbara you gave them a touch of the same bravery and indifference to
danger that you delighted us with at the old club at Simla, when you
rushed across the open and disarmed that Pathan servant who, after
murdering the cook's mate, was firing 'promiscuous,' while we all
huddled in the next block.  Do you remember?"


One of his former Chiefs on the Bombay side wrote:


You ought to have been a K.C.B. long ago, but you are all right now,
and nothing can keep you back."



{214}

CHAPTER XIV

1898-1899

COLCHESTER

[Sidenote: Festivities]

On November 15, 1898, the Honours Gazette for the recent campaign was
published, and Gatacre found himself a Knight Commander of the Bath.
Having also been awarded the Second Class of the Imperial Order of the
Medjidieh by His Highness the Khedive, he was now in possession of two
stars as well as two additional war medals.  He had the honour of
receiving his knighthood at the hands of Her Majesty Queen Victoria at
Windsor on December 10, 1898.  Not long afterwards he received an
invitation to stay at Windsor Castle, and had the honour of dining with
Her Majesty.

[Sidenote: 1899]

In the following February it was notified that Her Majesty the Queen
had been graciously pleased to nominate Sir William as one of the
officers to receive a Reward for Distinguished and Meritorious Service.

The whole nation was delighted with the success of its representatives
in Egypt, and as all hearts had been wrung by the tragedy of 1885, so
now all rejoiced with the victors of 1898.  A {215} unanimous vote of
thanks was passed in both Houses of Parliament.  A large copy of these
gratifying words printed on vellum and bound in red and green covers
respectively was presented to each of the senior officers named
therein.  These were forwarded through Lord Kitchener, who added a few
words endorsing the appreciation of Sir William's good work.

The Lord Mayor of London gave a dinner at the Guildhall in the Sirdar's
honour.  The Lord Provost of Edinburgh invited Lord Dufferin and Lord
Kitchener to accept the Freedom of that ancient city.  Edinburgh had
reason to feel a special interest in the campaign, for one of the
brigadiers was a Midlothian man and there had been two Highland
regiments in his command.  Lord Dufferin was especially pleased to see
Gatacre again, for as Viceroy of India he remembered him well while
serving on the Headquarters Staff.

There were also two gala days when the General was the central figure;
for his native county of Shropshire was very proud of her son.  On
December 15 Sir William was enrolled a Freeman of the City of
Shrewsbury with much acclamation and many kindly speeches.  The county
town of Bridgnorth also entertained him handsomely, and reminded him
that he had signed their roll in the year 1860.  Sir William was not a
pretentious speaker, but when called upon for a speech on such
occasions his ideas were simple and his words fluent and appropriate.

The appointment he had held at Aldershot {216} having been cancelled on
his departure for Egypt, the General found himself unemployed for a
time after his return, but at the end of October he was informally
invited to say whether the Poona First-class District in India or the
command of the Eastern District with Headquarters at Colchester would
be the more agreeable to him.  It was without hesitation that he chose
the latter.  From August 1880, when he left Dover with his regiment, to
August 1897, when he had returned to take over his brigade at
Aldershot, he had served continuously in India, while (with a short
interval of five months) he had been working in the tropics for a
further ten months.  He had now nearly completed thirty-seven years'
service, of which twenty-three had been spent in India.  There was
therefore to him a most attractive novelty about serving at home, and
the independent provincial command that was offered to him would, he
knew, in many ways prove most congenial.  He took over the command from
General Burnett on December 8, 1898, and went into residence at
Colchester the next day.

The Eastern District at that time included the nine counties which lie
between Norfolk and London, and between Nottingham and the sea.  The
General Officer Commanding was directly responsible to the War Office
for the troops of all arms, regular, militia, and volunteers, within
this area.  During the training season the work was very heavy and
necessitated a great deal of touring.  His previous experience in
Bombay {217} had given the General a special interest in coast defence,
and it was therefore with pleasure that he again found himself in
command of a long sea-board.

In the last year of his command, 1903, the Army Reorganisation scheme
slightly changed his official position, but this was purely technical,
and only affected his last six months there.

[Sidenote: In Sussex]

Occasionally Sir William was called upon to take part in the training
outside his own district.  Early in the year 1899 he was detailed to
conduct one side of a staff-ride that took place in Sussex.  An
imaginary Blue Force was supposed to be concentrated at Eastbourne,
while the Defence held the heights to the north of Ashdown Forest.  The
wild and picturesque district over which the operations were conducted
added immensely to Gatacre's pleasure in the trip; he wrote with
enthusiasm of the miles of heather-land, and had in the end the further
satisfaction of finding that, as the Blue Invader, he had defeated his
Red Opponent by a night-march on Dorking.

Among other events of the London season Sir William was present at the
Royal Academy Dinner.  Invitations to all sorts of public functions and
city dinners followed throughout the summer.  As the journey from
Colchester only occupies one hour, it was possible for him to enjoy all
such London diversions without in any way neglecting his professional
duties.

Further evidence of his enhanced reputation was afforded by his
selection to command a Division on Salisbury Plain in the forthcoming
{218} manoeuvres.  Two Divisions were organised, under the general
direction of Sir Charles Mansfield Clarke.  One had its headquarters at
Perham Down and was commanded by Sir Leslie Rundle, the other by
Gatacre with headquarters on the Downs above Bulford.  This latter
Division consisted of two brigades under Colonel Ian Hamilton and
Colonel Clements; the staff remained in camp throughout the ten weeks'
training, but the troops (which included units from the militia and
volunteers as well as the regular army) took part in the training for
two or three weeks only.  This was the first occasion on which khaki
uniform was worn in England; a certain battalion having recently
returned from abroad, came into camp as it was, before refitting with
home clothing.  The camp lasted from June 25 to September 3; at the end
Sir William wrote that his stay had been most instructive, and that Sir
Charles Mansfield Clarke had expressed himself as much pleased with all
that had been done.

Throughout this summer the situation in South Africa, so far as it
could be known through the daily papers, was giving rise to great
anxiety, and the probability of an outbreak of hostilities before very
long became more and more apparent.  Early in October Gatacre was
warned that in the event of an Army Corps proceeding to South Africa he
had been selected for the post of Lieutenant-General commanding the
Third Division.  Sir George White had only a week before started to
take command of the forces in {219} Natal, and had borrowed Gatacre's
A.D.C.; and at the same time the 6th Company Army Service Corps had
been sent off from Colchester to the Cape.

Before the middle of the month Sir William's appointment and the
details of his command were gazetted, and he received orders to sail on
the Union-Castle Line mail steamer _Moor_ on Saturday, October 21, from
Southampton.  His departure from Colchester was fixed for Friday the
20th.  Although it was scarcely ten months since he had been resident
in the district, the General had, as usual, become very popular with
all classes.  The Mayor and Corporation insisted on being given an
opportunity of expressing their congratulations and good wishes.

"The Council," they said, "felt that they were parting not only with a
distinguished officer and an ornament to Her Majesty's service, but
with a brother citizen."

[Sidenote: Off to the Cape]

Crowds of friends were assembled on the platform that Friday afternoon,
every officer of the garrison was there in uniform, and there were many
persons who had come in by train to cry "God-speed," for not a few had
husbands, sons, and brothers already at the front.  Many people at that
time thought that the war would be a very short affair after the
arrival of the reinforcements, and it was in this spirit that a lady in
her farewell greeting said: "Good-bye, General--good luck to you; but I
fear it will all be over before you get out."  To which the General
replied so gravely that she felt reproved: {220} "Make no mistake.  We
have a long tough job before us."


In the evening papers that same day the news of the battle of Talana
Hill was published.  This was the first conflict of the three years'
war, and very naturally the account of it added fervour to the public
interest in the official departures.  Two troopships were leaving
Southampton that Saturday as well as the Union-Castle liner which was
to carry Sir Redvers Buller and his three divisional commanders.  The
public knew by what train the officers would travel, and both at
Waterloo and at Southampton the popular enthusiasm was expressed with
extraordinary vehemence.



{221}

CHAPTER XV

1899

CAPE COLONY

It was with great reluctance that Sir Redvers Buller had been persuaded
to give any forecast to the War Office in London of the disposition of
troops he intended to make on reaching Capetown.  But whatever these
may have been, he found on his arrival that the situation had so
materially changed that he had to rearrange his plans to suit the
emergency.

The Boers were bringing so much pressure to bear on Ladysmith, where
Sir George White had established his headquarters, and on Kimberley,
that he decided to send the First Division under Lord Methuen to the
relief of the latter place, and to employ in Natal the Second Division
and the two brigades of which the Third Division had been originally
composed.  It seemed at the same time so important to reassure the
loyal colonists in Eastern Cape Colony that he sent Gatacre there with
one battalion of infantry and a promise of speedy reinforcements.

Writing on board ship between Capetown and {222} East London, on
November 16, Sir William says:


"I am ordered to go to East London, and take command of the district up
to Bethulie Bridge.  Now, what does this mean?  Why, that with the
Royal Irish Rifles, which has never been on service before, together
with half-battalion Berkshire Regiment, and a few Volunteers, I become
responsible for the railway line and adjacent country up to the Orange
River, about 200 miles long--but the last 100 miles are much
disaffected.  I have no definite orders, except that I am to hold
Queenstown if possible, but East London at any rate, and am to raise as
many Volunteers as possible."


When the General reached East London he found that it could be left
under the care of a local Volunteer Corps, and so he proceeded by train
to Queenstown the same day.  Here he found the half-battalion named
above, a small detachment of Royal Garrison Artillery, and half a
company of Royal Engineers.  Besides these regular troops there were
229 men of the Frontier Mounted Rifles, and 285 of the Queenstown Rifle
Volunteers.

Sir Redvers Buller, who was the General Commanding-in-Chief, chose
Natal for his headquarters.  Sir F. Forestier-Walker was in command of
the Lines of Communication, with headquarters at Capetown.  Sometimes
Sir Redvers sent his messages direct to Gatacre, and sometimes they
came through Capetown.  There was no friction and no contradiction,
{223} but it may well have been that this duplication of important
telegrams created an atmosphere of unrest and added poignancy to
Gatacre's feeling of helplessness.

On November 18 a telegram was received from Sir Redvers Buller,
pointing out that "the great thing in this sort of warfare is to be
pretty certain that one position is safe before you advance to another,
and that we are not yet strong enough to play tricks."[1]


[1] See _Official History of the War in South Africa_, 1899-1902, vol.
i. pp. 286, 287.


[Sidenote: Conflicting messages]

Three days, later, however, the General Commanding-in-Chief strikes a
different note:


"I calculate it will be at least five days and probably a week before I
have a second battalion to send you, or a battery of field artillery,
but I am anxious to get into a position to protect the Indwe mines
better than we do.  Do you think it would be safe for you to advance
your force or part of it to Stormberg, and hold that instead of
Queenstown?  I am told it is a good position for a force the size of
yours.  Of course you will have no support."[2]


[2] From contemporary copy of telegram in W. F. G.'s own handwriting.


To this Sir William replied that he had not sufficient men as yet to
advance on Stormberg, but as soon as more troops arrived he intended to
occupy that junction and clear the country round it.

At the time this message was sent the Boers had not yet crossed the
Orange River {224} in strength, but by November 5 they had occupied
Aliwal North and Stormberg, and were advancing on Dordrecht.  The first
is an important town on the Orange River, near which there are good
bridges, both for the road and the railway; the second is a railway
junction fifty-five miles north-west of Queenstown, and Dordrecht is a
small town only thirty-five miles from Queenstown to the north-east.

[Illustration: Invasion of Cape Colony: the Boers marching south over
the Orange River at Aliwal North.]

On hearing of the occupation of Dordrecht, Sir Redvers grew anxious
lest his former suggestion should be taken too seriously, and
telegraphed to Sir F. Forestier-Walker:


"Caution Gatacre to be careful.  I think he is hardly strong enough to
advance beyond Putters Kraal before Methuen's return."[3]


[3] See _Official History_, vol. i. p. 288.


And on the following day he added instructions to reinforce Gatacre by
one, or if possible two battalions, and "any mounted men that can be
spared."[4]


[4] _Ibid._


Writing on November 24, Sir William says:


"I have not yet got any more troops, but am hoping for some directly.
Fancy what a predicament for a General Officer to be in--no troops, no
transport, no horses for his Mounted Infantry; but I trust all are
coming.  The only unfortunate thing is that our people in front,
police, civilian officers, etc., are obliged to fall back for want of
support.  I have been over a good deal of country the last few days,
round our outposts, and am delighted with it.  It is fine and open, and
the farmers are a nice set of people.  The sun is hot, but nothing like
India: {225} one can ride in it all day without inconvenience, and it
hardly ever gives you sunstroke."


[Sidenote: An anxious time]

And again on the 28th:


"I have had a terribly anxious time the last two days, the Boers
wrecking everything in my front, and no troops to drive them out.  I am
thankful to say that I hear to-day that a regiment, the 2nd
Northumberland Fusiliers, is arriving here to-morrow, ... and so I
shall be able to make some kind of show--but I am still badly off for
everything.  I am still praying for artillery, hospitals, etc.  The
whole country is seething with rebellion, and to put it down we require
a lot of men."


Immediately after the arrival of this reinforcement, Gatacre advanced
his Headquarters to Putters Kraal, twenty-five miles up the railway,
and placed outposts at Sterkstroom, Bushman's Hoek, and Penhoek.  The
cross railway line running from Stormberg westwards through Rosmead to
Naauwpoort was soon afterwards destroyed by the enemy, thus putting a
stop to any combined action between Sir William and Sir John French,
who was defending a parallel railway which runs up from Port Elizabeth
through Naauwpoort and Colesberg to Bloemfontein.

On November 30 Sir William writes:


"I fear this is a grumbling letter, but I am in a miserable state of
inefficiency.  I have only two regiments (one joined yesterday).  We
have waggons but no harness, and only {226} half the mules to draw
them--and are within a few miles of the enemy.  I have orders to raise
Mounted Volunteers, but have no saddlery, no equipment, no clothing to
supply them with: it would be laughable if it were not lamentable and
serious....

"The worst point about the whole thing is that I can hear nothing of
any more troops coming to me, that the Boers are eating up the country
in our front, and forcing the farmers to join them, because I cannot
move: and consequently they are getting stronger every day.  I assure
you that I am perfectly sick at such a display of inefficiency,
unpreparedness, and apathy.

"Yesterday I made a dash out to Molteno, some sixteen miles ahead of my
present position, and seized some 7,000 bags of food, meal, etc., and
brought it in on some trains which I took out."


On Saturday, December 2, Sir William sent the following message to Sir
Redvers Buller:


"Military situation here requires dealing with extreme carefulness.
Boers have occupied Dordrecht, and enemy is advancing in a southerly
direction, evidently pointing for Queenstown.  I have two British
regiments only, and I am thirty-three miles to the north of Queenstown.
I am holding Bushman's Hoek range, to endeavour to prevent descent into
Queenstown district, which would mean general state of rebellion of
Dutch.  Force will be strengthened at Queenstown by next British
regiment, which should arrive at Queenstown December 5, but Queenstown
is indefensible position.  Are there any orders, especially as regards
my movements?"[5]


[5] See _Official History_, vol. i. p. 288.


{227} To which this reply was returned:


"We have to make the best of the situation, and if the enemy is
advancing by Dordrecht, the importance of Bushman's Hoek is diminished.
You have a force which altogether is considerably stronger than the
enemy can now bring against you.  Cannot you close with him, or else
occupy a defensible position which will obstruct his advance?  You have
an absolutely free hand to do what you think best."[6]


[6] See _Official History_, vol. i. p. 288.


[Sidenote: Night attack suggested]

On the following day the message given below reached Gatacre through
Sir F. Forestier-Walker:


"General Buller inquires whether you can safely leave your present
position and advance to Henning's Station, or somewhere near where you
can get a safe position, and also institute a policy of worry.  He
thinks if you could occupy Henning's Station Boers would fall back on
Burghersdorp, or if you could get near enough to Burghersdorp to make
night attack, it would be the thing to stop anxiety (_sic_).  He adds
Hildyard with a battalion and half sent a column of seven thousand
Boers under Joubert himself flying.  The above was probably wired
before Buller read notification of the enemy's occupation of Dordrecht.
He wired last night as follows: tell Gatacre he will have to take care
of himself till 5th Division arrives.  A telegram just received says he
has given you a free hand."[7]


[7] From copy of telegram in A.D.C.'s handwriting.


Burghersdorp is about twenty-three miles north of Stormberg, and
Henning is a station about ten miles west of Stormberg on the cross
{228} line.  This telegram, therefore, sketched a far more arduous and
hazardous enterprise than that which Gatacre afterwards attempted.

Within the next few days the Third Division was strengthened by the
arrival of the 74th and 77th Batteries Royal Field Artillery, the First
Battalion Royal Scots, the 33rd Company Army Service Corps, and the
16th Field Hospital.  All these units were only just arrived from
England, so that, although the additional battalion of infantry was
very valuable, Gatacre was unable to employ the men on the raid that he
had been planning for some time past.  They would serve, however, to
protect the camp, and would thus set the other two battalions free for
use as a striking force.  Even these had only been two and three weeks
in the country respectively, and the General had had no opportunity of
getting them into the hard condition and fighting form that was reached
by his Brigade on the Nile.

On December 8 he writes:


"I am frightfully busy and worried.  The whole of this country is
seething with rebels, and as they are all mounted, and I have only a
few mounted infantry on half-fed ponies, it is very difficult to cope
with them.

"I have now three regiments of infantry, but have a long railway line
to guard, and every culvert has a couple of armed men in it.  Fancy
what an anxiety this is--their safety, their food, their overworked
condition.  If I had my Division I could really strike somewhere....

"I am hoping to move on a bit to-morrow or next day to recover some of
the country given {229} up prior to my arrival, as I think occupation
of a position in advance of this may tend to awe the Dutch behind me."


In the _Official History_ we read that--


"The General Officer Commanding considered that, in the existing
strategic situation, any further prolongation of the defensive attitude
he had hitherto been obliged to maintain would be injurious.  He
determined, therefore, to take advantage of the free hand left to him
by Sir Redvers Buller, and to follow the further suggestion that he
should close with the enemy."[8]


[8] See _Official History_, vol. i. p. 289.


The first week in December was spent in reconnoitring the Stormberg
position so far as wandering parties of Boers would permit.  The
general himself prepared a sketch of the hills surrounding it and the
roads leading thereto, which he carried with him on the march.  The
only map available was on too small a scale (twelve and a half miles to
the inch) to be useful for tactical purposes, but all possible
information was extracted from every man acquainted with the locality.
Their accounts of the features and the distances were often inexact,
and did not always agree, but eventually five local men, belonging to
the Cape Mounted Police, under Sergeant Morgan of the same corps, were
selected as guides.

The General's scheme was to attack the Boer laager on the Stormberg
Nek; by a night march of nine miles from Molteno he hoped to reach a
{230} position from which the enemy's camp could be assaulted at
daybreak.

The concentration was made at Molteno, on the afternoon of December 9,
the troops being brought from Putters Kraal by train, about sixteen
miles, and some from Bushman's Hoet, which was half the distance.  The
force consisted of the two field batteries, with an escort of Mounted
Infantry and two Infantry Battalions.  It should have been further
augmented by the detachment from Penhoek of 235 Cape Mounted Rifles,
but, owing to the miscarriage of a telegram, these men failed to appear.

Another circumstance that modified the original plan was a report that
was brought in at the last minute that the enemy had fortified and
entrenched the pass between the Kissieberg and Rooi Kop, over which
runs the main road and the railway to the junction.  The informant
affirmed that the Boer main laager was placed on the heights of the
Kissieberg, which could be easily ascended from the western side, where
there were no artificial defences.  The General was assured by all
those who should have known that to reach this hill on its western
flank would only add two miles to the projected march, and that they
could lead him to a favourable spot for such an attempt.

[Sidenote: The start]

A council was held in the station-master's room at Molteno, and all the
commanding officers were consulted as to their men's condition and
fitness for the expedition.  Although the train service had been most
carefully timed, a {231} delay of two hours had somehow crept in; the
railway was but a single line and the siding accommodation very
limited.  However, no one foresaw any difficulty, and so the start was
made at nine o'clock that evening by moonlight.  Indeed, so eager were
the men that they set out at an unusually brisk pace.

In the General's official report we read:


"The force marched, with the usual halts, for about eight miles by
moonlight, and halted near Roberts's farm at 12.30.  The chief guide
now reported that we were within one and a half miles of the enemy's
position, and, after a rest of about three-quarters of an hour, we
marched off again in the dark."[9]


[9] See _Despatches_ published March 17, 1900.


It was soon after this halt that the General realised that the guides
had not brought him along the road that he had indicated, but, as he
wrote, to turn back in consequence of this discovery did not commend
itself to him.  So the men tramped on, and at 4.20 a.m. found
themselves under a face of the Kissieberg.  A single shot from a Boer
picket precipitated the attack, and before long the enemy had located
the British column.


"Three companies of the Royal Irish Rifles formed to the left, and
occupied a kopje; the remainder of this battalion and the
Northumberland Fusiliers advanced up a steep hill against the enemy's
position."[10]


[10] _Ibid._


"There was no good position for the British {232} guns, except the
ridge 2,000 yards to the west of the Kissieberg.  But the infantry's
need of immediate support was too pressing to allow time for that
ridge's occupation.  Lieutenant-Colonel Jeffreys, by direction of
General Gatacre, caused the 77th Battery to come into action near the
kopje, the 74th unlimbering in the open veldt to the westward.  The
Mounted Infantry continued to escort the batteries....

[Sidenote: A fatal mischance]

"The Boers from the main laager had now manned the hill, but the
British artillery was bursting shells on the threatened crest, and a
Boer gun, which had come into action, was for a time silenced.

"The attack had lasted half an hour, and progress up the hill was being
slowly made by the British infantry, when five companies of the
Northumberlands, on the right of the line, were ordered to retire by
their commanding officer.  He considered that his battalion must leave
the hill.  The three foremost companies, who were nearly on the summit,
did not hear this order, and, under the command of Captain Wilmott,
remained with the Irish Rifles, clinging on as they were.  The fire of
the enemy appeared to be slackening, and for the moment the groups of
British officers were convinced that, if they were supported, they
could gain the crest.  But the withdrawal of a portion of the attacking
line had made further success impossible.  Nor was that all.  Seeing
the five companies of the Northumberland Fusiliers falling back to the
west, the batteries conceived that all the assailants were retreating,
and exerted themselves to the utmost to cover the movement by their
fire.  The sun was now rising behind the western face of the
Kissieberg, so that all the upper part presented to the British guns a
black target, on {233} which neither friend nor foe could be
distinguished.  Thus a fatal mischance came about.  A shell fused for
explosion just short of the Boer defensive line burst over the foremost
group of the Irish Rifles, and struck down Lieutenant-Colonel Eager,
Major H. J. Seton, the second-in-command, Major Welman, Captain Bell,
and three men.  A conference had a few moments before been held between
Colonel Eager and Captain Wilmott, as to the steps which should be
taken to protect the men from the shells of their own gunners.  The
former officer had stated that as the situation of the infantry was
evidently unknown to the batteries, and was masking their fire, it was
necessary to fall back.  Captain Wilmott, on the other hand, urged that
if the men were once ordered to withdraw, it would be very difficult to
get them up the hill again.  Colonel Eager replied that there was no
help for it.  Therefore a general retirement now began."[11]


[11] See _Official History_, vol. i. pp. 297-8.


An officer of the Royal Irish Rifles writes in his official report:


"At this time I did not think there was more than a piquet in front,
and a rush at the end of the kopje would have taken that part of the
position and the Boer gun.  Colonel Eager, Major Seton, Major Welman,
and Captain Bell were knocked over at this point by one of our shells,
otherwise I think they would have taken this portion of the Boer
position.  From subsequent conversation with one Voss, Secretary to
Swanepoel, Commandant Smithfield Laager there is no doubt that many of
the Boers were leaving the position."


{234}

It seems, therefore, clear that the day was almost won, for had our
shells fallen a little farther forward, so that the infantry could have
held on a quarter of an hour longer, they would doubtless have found
the defences evacuated.  If our victorious troops had been able to eat
the enemy's breakfast, we should have heard nothing of the fatigues of
the night march, nor of the missing telegram.

But, unfortunately, the morning ended differently.  We will close the
account with a quotation from a letter written by one of the
aides-de-camp:


"The General, as soon as he realised the state of things, arranged for
the retirement, quite cool under the hottest fire, encouraging the men
and moving over the position in every direction, not recklessly, but
with a fine courage, which did us all good to watch.  The retirement
was carried out in wonderful order, and, weary though the men were,
they hastened to join their units, and marched home in fair order....
Throughout the retirement he was the last man of the column, beating up
tired stragglers, and bringing in abandoned transport."


In all the accounts something is said about a secondary force of Boers
that came on to the scene soon after the general retirement had begun,
but according to the following extract from another officer's report,
they refrained from doing us as much damage as might have been effected
by a more experienced enemy.

{235}

"Just as we were moving off about 400 Boers appeared on the high
plateau on our right flank from the Steynsburg direction, but were at
once checked by the fire of our guns, and gave the infantry no further
trouble."


The advanced troops got back to Molteno at 11 a.m., and all were in by
12.30.  The casualties were officially returned as eight officers
wounded (one died of wounds) and thirteen missing; in other ranks there
were 25 killed, 102 wounded, and 548 missing.  The whole force employed
amounted to 3,035 of all ranks.

The main facts of this account are taken from the _History of the War
in South Africa_ recently published.  So little is said in the
General's despatch of the part played by the infantry that this
omission is a subject of comment in Lord Roberts's covering letter of
February 1900.[12]  It may therefore be concluded that the
Field-Marshal (who was commanding the forces in Ireland at the time
that the engagement was fought) was at the time of writing ignorant of
many incidents that have since been brought to light.


[12] See _Despatches_ published March 17, 1900.


[Sidenote: With an ace]

In Sir William's letter three days later he speaks of the action as "a
most lamentable failure, and yet within an ace of being the success I
anticipated," and goes on:


"The fault was mine, as I was responsible of course.  I went rather
against my better judgment in not resting the night at Molteno, but I
{236} was tempted by the shortness of the distance and the certainty of
success.  It was so near being a brilliant success."


Both in the articles published at the time, and in the _Official
History_ referred to above, the circumstances in which Sir William was
placed are held to have made some demonstration imperative.


"Sir William Gatacre's decision to advance on Stormberg was fully
justified by the strategical situation.  General Buller's telegram,
although it left him a free hand as to time and opportunity, had
suggested that operation.  The plan, though bold, was sound in its
design, and would have succeeded had not exceptional misfortune
attended its execution."[13]


[13] See _Official History_, vol. i. pp. 301, 302.


On the following day, Monday, the battle of Magersfontein was fought on
the north-west, and on Friday of the same week Sir Redvers Buller
delivered his unsuccessful attack on Colenso.  Owing to the proximity
of dates, the attempt to retake Stormberg is associated in the public
mind with the other engagements of that week; but in the numbers
employed, in the losses suffered, and in political importance it
shrinks into insignificance compared with them.  At Magersfontein, on
December 11, 14,964 troops of all ranks were engaged, the total killed
and wounded was returned as 885, with 63 missing; at Colenso, out of
19,378 men, the losses were 899, with 240 missing; while at Stormberg,
out {237} of 3,035 engaged, 135 were killed and wounded, and 571 taken
prisoners.[14]  From a political point of view, though no ground was
gained, still none was lost, and Sir William was actually able, the day
after, to establish his headquarters at Sterkstroom, which was five
miles farther up the railway than he had been at Putters Kraal.


[14] See _Official History_, vol. i. app. vi. pp. 468, 469, 470.


From the General Commanding-in-Chief Sir William received the following
telegram:


"Your telegram respecting your action and dispositions, I think you
were quite right to try the night attack and hope better luck next
time.  I don't think you will find them attack you when in position,
but it would be better to retire than run the risk of being surrounded;
as to this you must judge for yourself, but military considerations
should be held paramount.--BULLER."[15]


[15] See original text.  From Frere Camp, 2.17 p.m.; reached
Sterkstroom 4.4 p.m., December 11, 1899.


Writing on December 18, Sir William says:


"I have now three regiments--the Derbyshire, Royal Scots, and Royal
Irish Rifles.  I have been obliged to send the Northumberland Fusiliers
to East London to look after the base, as Sir Redvers Buller wished
this done.  My Howitzer Battery he has been obliged to send to Natal to
assist Clery.

"I have up here (Sterkstroom) a large camp with supplies, stores, etc.,
and have been ordered by Buller to entrench and endeavour with my
mounted troops to harry the district round me, but I have so few
trained troops, and these Boers {238} are so mobile (all mounted) that
it is a very difficult matter to catch them.

      *      *      *      *      *

"You must not expect to see much movement from my force: I have no
strength--cannot leave my line of communications, which are long.  All
the districts behind me are ready to rise, and I cannot separate my
regiments.  I have received orders to entrench my camp, and this I am
about to do.  This will, of course, free my mounted men a bit, as the
post, with provisions, will be safe for them to come back to.  As I am
writing I hear of a threatened rising in Alice and Seymour, two
districts south-west of Stutterheim, right away behind me, which makes
it difficult for me to retain my communications with the coast.  These
may be exaggerated reports, but I have had so many warnings that one
cannot afford to disregard them.  You may rest assured we shall fight
to the end anyhow, and my thoughts will be with you."



{239}

CHAPTER XVI

1900

ORANGE FREE STATE

The anxiety felt by the commanders of the three detached forces in
South Africa was shared by the nation at home.  The telegrams sent to
England by Sir Redvers Buller showed that the state of affairs in Natal
after the battle of Colenso was very critical, and that only prompt and
ample reinforcements would be of any avail.  Troops of all arms were
despatched to Capetown as fast as ships could be got ready to carry
them, and Field-Marshal Lord Roberts was appointed Commander-in-Chief,
with Lord Kitchener as his chief staff officer.

The Field-Marshal reached Capetown on January 10.  Four weeks were
necessary for the organisation of his new army, which amounted to
35,000 men when concentrated at Modder River on February 8.  A week
later General French at the head of a Cavalry Division rode into
Kimberley, and on the same day the Sixth Division got in touch with
General Cronje, and commenced the series of operations which led to his
surrender with all his army.  There {240} were yet, however, two
serious engagements to be fought, at Poplar Grove and Driefontein,
before the Commander-in-Chief entered Bloemfontein on Thursday, March
15, 1900.  By that time this advance in force into the enemy's country
had had its effect in the east and south.  The pressure in Natal was
relaxed, and on March 1 Sir Redvers Buller rode into Ladysmith and
greeted Sir George White and his gallant garrison.  In the meantime
Gatacre and Clements had been holding on to the railways, impatient to
move forward as soon as it was safe to do so.  Both these columns,
which had been marking time in the face of the enemy, had had
occasional conflicts, but these were, for the most part, outpost
affairs, or the result of reconnaissance.

Writing from Sterkstroom on February 24, Sir William says:


"Yesterday we had a fight just north of Molteno, and unfortunately lost
about seventy men, but we gained the information we required.
Montmorency is missing, and I fear he has been wounded or shot.  His
party got too far ahead of us, and it was with difficulty I extricated
them.  I was very nearly shot twice, once by a rifleman (Boer), once by
a shell--very near.  I have had marvellous luck on more than one
occasion.  The men all behaved very well.  I do not think that people
realise quite the extent of the country I am covering.  From Karn Nek
to Bird's River is thirty-five miles, and I have three and a half
regiments only to do it with.  I think I told you that Brabant, a
Colonial, {241} had been given a command under me of mounted troops.
He has a very mixed lot, and their procedure is sketchy, but Lord
Roberts wishes him to have a free hand.  He is to start to-day towards
Dordrecht, and I have told him what I want him to do, _i.e._ to cut in
between Dordrecht and Jamestown, which I think should have the effect
of making them fall back from Stormberg, in which case I could occupy
it, but, as you see, I cannot occupy it without evacuating some place
behind me."


[Sidenote: Across the river]

On March 5 the Third Division reoccupied Stormberg; on the 6th they
reached Burghersdorp; on the 9th the scouts chased the Boers to the
bridge over the Orange River at Bethulie, and entrenched themselves on
the southern bank.  The little band arrived just in time to see the
railway bridge blown up, but their advance saved the roadway.
Lieutenant Popham, of the Derbyshire Regiment, promptly cut the
electric wire that would have fused the dynamite, and at night Sir
William, accompanied by Lieutenant Grant, R.E., crept along the
parapet, and dropped the parcels of explosives into the river.  The
scouts of the Third Division were rather proud of having saved this
bridge, as at Norvals Pont both were destroyed.  The next day the
column occupied Bethulie in the enemy's country, and on the 15th took
possession of the railway junction at Springfontein.  Colonel Clements
had also crossed the Orange River, and made his way on to the junction
shortly after the Third Division had captured the place.

{242}

"The deliberation of Gatacre's movements surprised his younger
officers, who did not know that the Divisional General had received
orders from the Commander-in-Chief not to commit himself seriously
until reinforcements had reached him, and, if possible, to repair the
railway which connects Stormberg with Naauwpoort Junction."[1]


[1] See _Official History_, vol. ii. p. 247.


Colonel Clements had received orders in the same strain:


"Do not attempt to force passage of river until you hear from me, or
are certain that the enemy have considerably loosened their hold over
the heights on the north bank.  This they are sure to do when we reach
Bloemfontein, and it is better that the repair of the bridge be delayed
a few days than that lives be lost unnecessarily."[2]


[2] _Ibid._, vol. ii. p. 256.


On March 16 General Pole-Carew was sent down the line from Bloemfontein
to meet Gatacre and Clements.


"He found at Edenburg that he had just missed Grobler's contingent
proceeding north-east.  This was only the first of two parties escaping
from Colesberg, the second being under Lemmer, while Du Plessis and
Olivier were leading a third party in the same direction from Bethulie
and Aliwal North.  When the three parties united in the neighbourhood
of Ladybrand, they formed the imposing total of 5,500 Boers, 1,000
Kaffirs, 10,000 oxen and 800 waggons, covering a total extent of
twenty-four miles on the march.

{243}

"As soon as Pole-Carew heard of Grobler's movements on the 16th, he
urged upon the Commander-in-Chief the advisability of sending out a
strong force east of Bloemfontein, to intercept the Boer commandoes as
they came up from the south, and of bringing Brabant from Aliwal North
and Gatacre from Springfontein to close in upon their rear."[3]


[3] See _Times History_, vol. iv. p. 7.


[Sidenote: A pacific policy]

The Field-Marshal was not, however, ready to undertake such an
extensive movement; his force had only reached its goal the day before,
and neither his men nor his horses would have been equal to such a
chase.  Moreover the situation presented itself to him in quite a
different light.  The ready submission of the Boer farmers in the
vicinity of the main army led him to exaggerate the effect on the
nation at large of the capture of General Cronje and his four thousand
fighting men.  He was led to believe by reports from various outlying
districts that there was no fight left in the Boers, and in his desire
to win them without unnecessary blood-shed he decided to try a policy
of pacification.

On his arrival at Bloemfontein Lord Roberts issued a Proclamation by
which, in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, he offered pardon and
protection to all such burghers as would lay down their arms and swear
an oath of allegiance.[4]  A week later he telegraphed to the War
Office:


[4] For words of Proclamation see _Official History_, vol. ii. p. 260.


"So many burghers have expressed their {244} desire to surrender under
the terms of the last proclamation that I have sent small columns in
various directions to register the names and to take over arms."[5]


[5] See _Times History_, vol. iv. p. 8.


In pursuance of this policy the Field-Marshal on March 19 telegraphed
the following order to Sir William Gatacre, whose headquarters were at
Springfontein:


"Could you manage to take a small force, say two battalions, one
battery, and some mounted infantry, as far as Smithfield?  It is very
desirable British troops should be seen all over the country and
opportunity given to burghers to surrender and deliver up their arms
under the conditions of the Proclamation of March 15."[6]


[6] See _Official History_, vol. ii. p. 301.


Gatacre's command at this time had increased to four battalions of
infantry, with such mounted infantry as he had been able to raise from
their ranks, and this Brigade was now employed as line-of-communication
troops.  Two battalions were needed at Bethulie Bridge, where the men's
assistance was required in passing stores, etc., over the road-bridge
until the railway should be repaired; from the other two he had to
supply guards for 115 miles of railway from Bethulie to Bloemfontein.
The Colonial section of his force was acting more or less independently
under General Brabant, who had established his headquarters at Aliwal
North.

{245}

To the telegram given above Gatacre replied that he could not spare
more than one battalion (the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles), a field battery,
a company of the mounted infantry of the Royal Scots and a section of
that of the Royal Irish Rifles.  His suggested reduction was approved,
and the column started on its fifty-mile march to Smithfield on the
20th.

On the 21st Sir William rode about twenty miles west of the railway to
Philipolis, where he took over the keys from the Landrost without
opposition, returning the same evening to Springfontein.

In order to understand Sir William's part in the affairs of the next
ten days, it will be necessary to follow in detail the messages that
passed daily between the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief and the
Divisional General.

[Sidenote: Troops sent to Wepener]

On Monday, March 26, instructions were received directing that two
squadrons of Brabant's Mounted Colonials from Aliwal North, together
with the mounted infantry company of the Royal Scots already at
Smithfield, should push on to Wepener, which lies fifty miles to the
north-east of Smithfield.

On Tuesday, the 27th, the 1st Derbyshire Regiment and the 11th Brigade
Division of the Royal Field Artillery were called up to complete a
Division at headquarters, thus reducing Gatacre's small force by about
1,000 men.

On the same day Sir William telegraphed to Headquarters reporting a
rumoured concentration of the enemy at Modder Poort, expressing {246}
his anxiety for the detachment that was marching on Wepener, and
suggesting that he should reinforce the column.  In reply he was
informed that the Field-Marshal did not anticipate danger at Wepener,
but that he concurred in the strengthening of the party there.

On March 28 the following telegram was received from Headquarters:


"If you have enough troops at your disposal, I should wish you to
occupy Dewetsdorp will make road from here to Maseru safe preventing
enemy's forces from using telegraph lines to the south let me know what
you can do to this ends."[7]


[7] From _True Copy_, furnished by D.A.A.G. in 1900.


Now there are two versions of this telegram.  The above is the version
as it was received by General Gatacre at 9.40 a.m. on March 28.
Between the words "_Dewetsdorp_" and "will" he mentally supplied the
word "_I_" to fill in the sense.  When, however, this important
telegram was quoted by Lord Roberts in a despatch to the War Office
(dated April 16, 1900), the following verbal variations occur.  We find
"_I should like_" for "_I should wish_"; the words "_it would_" take
the place of "_will_"; "_and prevent enemy_" stands for "_preventing
enemy's forces_"; and the last word "_ends_" appears in the singular,
thus bringing it into the body of the message.[8]  These differences
will seem trifling to the reader, but the meaning of this telegram has
since been questioned.  Gatacre {247} read it as an order to send a
detachment to Dewetsdorp similar to the one already ordered to Wepener,
and the writer of the _Official History_ so reads it, even in the
secondary form.[9]


[8] See _Official History_, vol. ii. app. vii. p. 614.

[9] See marginal note, _Official History_, vol. ii. p. 302.


[Sidenote: Detachments]

Dewetsdorp lies on the main road that runs from Bloemfontein south-east
through Wepener into Basutoland; the distance from the capital to
Dewetsdorp is forty miles, and it is twenty-five miles on to Wepener.
A detachment sent there was therefore in far less danger than the post
at Wepener, and was a source of strength to the latter.  It was also
known to Gatacre that General French was operating with a mounted force
at Thaba'Nchu, so that he naturally concluded that the road
Bloemfontein--Thaba'Nchu--Ladybrand, or Maseru, was strongly held.  As
he himself said in evidence before the Royal Commission, he "never sent
them [the troops] there as an outpost, nor expected them to act as
such, but merely to hold a post on an interior road."[10]


[10] See _Report South African War Commission_, vol. iii. p. 276.


On the same day, March 28, Gatacre sent this reply to the disputed
telegram:


"Following moves are in progress, in view to covering whole country
east of railway.

"Three squadrons Brabant's Horse moving Rouxville to Wepener; two will
reach Wepener Sunday next (April 1), the third on Tuesday.

"One squadron Brabant's is moving to Bushman's Kop half-way between
Rouxville and Wepener.

{248}

"One company Royal Scots Mounted Infantry reaches Wepener Sunday.

"Two companies 2nd Royal Irish, Rifles reach Dewetsdorp Sunday.

"One company Royal Irish Rifles and one section Mounted Infantry Royal
Irish Rifles reach Helvetia to-morrow.

"Three companies Royal Irish Rifles at Smithfield with squadron
Brabant's Horse."[11]


[11] See Official History, vol. ii. p. 303.


As Gatacre received no reply to the above message he assumed that his
dispositions were approved.  In furtherance of Lord Roberts's wishes he
slightly strengthened the post at Dewetsdorp next day by sending there
some mounted infantry of the Northumberland Fusiliers.  These changes
were also telegraphed to Headquarters.

Although such detachment duty naturally fell to the Third Division as
line-of-communication troops, still it would seem that the Headquarters
Staff, in calling upon Gatacre to furnish these remote garrisons, had
overlooked the fact that his _Division_ had never numbered more than
four infantry battalions, and had not at any time ever possessed any
cavalry.  By thus scattering the few men at Gatacre's disposal, the
Commander-in-Chief reduced the numbers available for guarding the
hundred miles of railway.


"The railway was necessarily the first care; if that was seriously
broken, the army at Bloemfontein, if it did not actually starve, must
be injuriously affected."[12]


[12] _Ibid._ vol. ii. p. 306


That this question of the adequate protection {249} of the railway line
became a week later a great anxiety to Lord Roberts we know from his
urgent telegram of April 5, in which he tells Gatacre to satisfy
himself that the guards are properly placed, sufficiently entrenched,
and on the alert.

[Sidenote: Great distances]

There were at Headquarters in March 1900 three brigades of Cavalry, and
three divisions of Infantry, with their complement of Horse and Field
Artillery, which with other units made up a fighting force of 34,000
men.  As has been said, Dewetsdorp and Wepener were both nearer to
Bloemfontein than to Springfontein, the headquarters of the Third
Division.  From this place Gatacre had to arrange for the supplies for
posts which were eighty and ninety miles away, and that this could not
be done without difficulty we see in his letter to me, dated March 31,
1900:


"After reaching this we have been occupied in covering the whole
country from Wepener to Philipolis, and all the country between them
and the Orange River, with patrols and small parties, and it is such a
business getting supplies to all these scattered detachments.  We find
we can make them somewhat self-supporting by making the farmers supply
sheep, and they can get the farmers' wives to bake bread on payment.
The roads generally speaking are good, not metalled, of course, but
hard clay, which in dry weather are perfect to move upon; in wet
weather they become slippery."


[Illustration: Map of India and Burma]  (Transcriber's note: map
omitted from this etext because too large to scan)]

The same day the following telegram reached Gatacre from Bloemfontein:


{250}

"(With) Reference (to) telegram from Brabant to your Assistant
Adjutant-General Springfontein repeated to Intelligence here, what
reinforcement do you propose to send him?  Boers are active on that
side and have strong force between Ladybrand and Thabanchu.  Brabant
should be reinforced and supported."[13]


[13] From _True Copy_, furnished by D.A.A.G., 1900.


In response to this Gatacre ordered up troops from the Colonial Corps
at Aliwal North, and pushed forward the support at Bushman's Kop.

On that same Saturday, March 31, he was directed to arrange for a
battalion of infantry and a battery to be at Leeuwberg Kopje, eight
miles from Bloemfontein, at daybreak of April 1.  Three companies of
the Northumberland Fusiliers and five companies of the Royal Scots were
accordingly sent.  When replying to this order he adds that he has no
infantry left, and only one battalion from which to find guards for the
railway line.

A third message from Headquarters reached Gatacre at 10.47 that night
(the 31st), which informed him of the engagement near the Waterworks,
told him to exercise special caution on the railway, and to draw in all
outlying forces, adding that "it would appear that Dewetsdorp is too
far advanced for security."[14]


[14] _Ibid._


In response, Gatacre immediately sent off various telegrams by which he
hoped to get in touch with his detachments, and also started off a
despatch-rider; but the distance was eighty miles, as has been said.

{251}

[Sidenote: At Dewetsdorp]

It will be remembered that the troops from Smithfield and Helvetia that
were assembling at Dewetsdorp were due to reach their destination on
Sunday, April 1.  On his arrival the Officer Commanding the three
companies Royal Irish Fusiliers--

"was greeted with information from local sources that a Boer commando
was expected soon to appear before the village, and, selecting ground
which commanded the place, he began to strengthen his position, which
he covered by outposts.  In the evening a patrol to the north of
Dewetsdorp was fired upon.  He informed the Headquarters Third Division
of this by telegram, and also of the rumoured approach of the commando,
which, however, was not credited by the Intelligence Officer who
accompanied his detachment."[15]


[15] See _Official History_, vol. ii. p. 306.


At midnight Gatacre's telegram arrived directing him "that he should
immediately move his troops to Reddersburg," and closing with the words
"matter urgent."  At 3.30 a.m. next morning (April 2) the
despatch-rider appeared with the same instructions.

In the meantime the engagement known as Sannah's Post had taken place
on Saturday, March 31, only thirty miles away.  As this unfortunate
affair directly affected the Proclamation detachments, I hope it will
not seem out of place if I give a brief sketch of what had been taking
place a little farther north.

The main water-supply for the city of Bloemfontein was drawn from a
point on the Modder {252} River, where it is crossed by the high road
running due east to Thaba'Nchu.  This point, which is about twenty-one
miles from the capital, is known as Sannah's Post.  On March 15 the
"somewhat inadequate force of 300 mounted infantry" was sent out to
hold the Waterworks, and two days later a mounted column, 1,500 strong,
under General French, was pushed on to Thaba'Nchu, twenty-one miles
farther east.  From this force Colonel Pilcher was detached, and
through his operations definite news of the enemy's whereabouts was
obtained and duly forwarded to Bloemfontein.  General French was soon
after called back to Headquarters, and left Colonel Broadwood in
command of the column.  It is clear that--


"Broadwood, with his 1,500 men, had never been intended to fight
battles where he was, forty miles from any supporting force, but only
to publish Lord Roberts's proclamations, and to collect arms from any
Boers that might surrender."[16]


[16] See _Times History_, vol. iv. p. 33.


So that when he discovered that General Olivier was behind him with
5,000 men, he had no choice but to retire on the Waterworks.

After the death of Joubert the control of the Boer forces fell into the
hands of younger men, the most conspicuous amongst whom was Christian
de Wet.  Having conceived a plan for capturing the Waterworks guard, he
placed {253} his forces astride of the road, and hid them in the bed of
a stream about five miles west of the Modder River.  When the day
arrived for the execution of his plan, he found that the mounted column
was also delivered into his hand.

[Sidenote: Sannah's Post]

A messenger got through who carried news of Broadwood's plight between
Olivier and De Wet to Lord Roberts, and he sent out an infantry
division under General Colvile.  But the two forces failed to work
together, and the enemy triumphed.  This was on Saturday, March 31.


"The material result of De Wet's achievements at Sannah's Post was the
acquisition of seven guns, much ammunition, many horses and waggons,
and a large number of prisoners.  By occupying the Waterworks, which
did not again pass into Lord Roberts's hands until April 23, he
inflicted great injury on the health of the troops in Bloemfontein.
The moral effect of his success was enormous.  It confirmed the
resolution of those of the Free State burghers who still remained in
arms; it encouraged the waverers; it afforded De Wet the occasion for
putting strong pressure upon the considerable numbers of his fellow
countrymen who, declaring themselves tired of the war, had given in
their rifles to the British troops, and had been allowed to return to
their farms as peaceful non-combatants; and it gave those who followed
him good heart for his next stroke."[17]


[17] See _Official History_, vol. ii. pp. 298, 299.


On the Sunday following Gatacre was summoned to Headquarters, and had
interviews {254} with the Commander-in-Chief, of which he has left the
following memorandum:


"On Sunday, April 1, I proceeded to Bloemfontein by order to see Lord
Roberts, arriving late at night.  Early next morning (April 2) I saw
the Field-Marshal, and he told me he was placing me in command of the
Orange Free State territory held by us, and was giving me ten other
battalions, which were to be used as under, _i.e._ six Militia
battalions to be distributed along the railway south of Bloemfontein,
and in the country east and west of it; the four battalions were, with
the four I had already (the 2nd wing of the Berkshire was to be called
up from Cape Colony), to make up a Division with which I was to proceed
at once to Dewetsdorp and operate along the Basuto border through
Ladybrand, Clocolan, Ficksburg country, to clear Lord Roberts's right
flank, to enable him to advance northwards.  He directed me to draw up
for his approval a scheme of distribution for the six Militia
battalions through the country.  This I did, and submitted it on the
spot.  The Field-Marshal was anxious to know by what date I considered
I could concentrate my troops at Reddersburg, ready to move, after
relief by the Militia battalions.  I replied that, on the assumption
that I received the Militia battalions on the 6th, I could move on
April 17 (reliefs had to be effected, transport collected, supplies,
etc., etc.).  This date was considered satisfactory by Lord Roberts.
The same evening (April 2) about 9.30 p.m. Lord Roberts again explained
to me carefully what he wished, that he was anxious for me to move as
soon as possible, and that I was to proceed to Springfontein
immediately, and commence {255} preparations.  This I did, morning of
April 3, by first train."


It would appear that nothing was said during the Monday spent at
Bloemfontein about the detachment that was moving that very day from
Dewetsdorp through Reddersburg back to the railway at Bethanie.  No
anxiety seems to have been felt at Headquarters as to what De Wet would
do next.

[Sidenote: A relief column]

At about 7 o'clock on Tuesday evening, April 3, information was brought
into Edenburg that the Dewetsdorp detachment was surrounded at
Mostert's Hoek, a ridge three or four miles east of Reddersburg.  This
disquieting news was telegraphed to Lord Roberts, who sent an urgent
message to Gatacre directing him to prepare to move on Reddersburg, and
asking what troops he had available.  The reply stated that there were
forty scouts and about twenty-five mounted infantry at Springfontein, a
Brigade Division Field Artillery at Bethanie, and about two companies
mounted infantry at or near Edenburg.  A return message informed
Gatacre that the Field-Marshal was sending five companies of the
Cameron Highlanders by train to Bethanie, and told the General that he
was on no account to go without them.

The order to turn out reached the regiment just before midnight; they
had three miles to march to the station, and were entrained at 3.30 a.m.

{256}

That same morning, April 4, at about 6 o'clock, the scouts and some
mounted infantry started from Bethanie to reconnoitre towards
Reddersburg, which was about twelve miles distant, and an hour later
they sent in a message that they could hear the firing.

When the five companies of the Camerons and the mounted infantry from
Edenburg had joined him at Bethanie, Gatacre started at the head of the
column.  At 9.30 a.m. another message was sent back by the Officer
Commanding the scouts to say that firing had ceased for half an hour.
Gatacre pushed on till he reached a ridge west of the village, but he
was still five or six miles from the scene of the fight when he learnt
through a loyal colonial that two hours earlier the British had
surrendered to a force of Boers between two and three thousand strong.

[Sidenote: Too late]

It was then 11 o'clock, and the relief column was at least five miles
from the scene of the misfortune.

The General called a halt, and eventually decided that his troops,
being mainly infantry, could do nothing in the way of pursuit of a
mounted enemy.  After resting for an hour or so, Gatacre came to the
conclusion that the safer course would be to retire on the railway, for
it must be remembered that he had received the most precise orders "not
to move against the Boers until he had satisfied himself that their
strength and position warranted his doing so with success."[18]


[18] See _Official History_, vol. ii. p. 311.


{257}

About four miles had been accomplished on the return journey, when a
messenger arrived from the Chief Staff Officer ordering the column to
return and occupy Reddersburg.  Accordingly the men retraced their
steps and settled down for the night as best they could; but at
midnight a telegram reached the General containing very urgent
counter-orders:


"The C.-in-C. directs that you retire to Bethanie during this night so
as to reach Bethanie to-morrow morning, as our information leads us to
believe that the enemy are moving down in the Reddersburg direction and
you are not strong enough to oppose a large force."[19]


[19] From original text.


The column started off again at 2 a.m. April 5.[20]


[20] The movements of the Relief Column are taken from _The 79th News_,
special issue entitled "South African War Record," p. 17.  The hours
differ slightly from those given in the _Official History_.


We are not concerned here with the fatigues of the march from
Dewetsdorp, nor with the particular stress which led to capitulation.
It is enough to know that although a messenger had succeeded in getting
through the enemy's lines, and although the casualties numbered only
ten killed and thirty-five wounded out of 591 men of the regular army,
some one betrayed his comrades' honour, and the whole party was
captured.[21]  If this column had been able to hold on an hour or so
longer, there would have been no Reddersburg incident.  In the same
way, {258} if more prompt and more energetic measures had been taken
from Headquarters to rescue the column from the perilous situation
created by the defeat at Sannah's Post, the little force could easily
have been brought into Bloemfontein with the help of cavalry.  As a
matter of fact there were on April 2 three cavalry brigades camped at
Springfield, Rustfontein, and Bloemspruit respectively, all of which
lie just outside the capital to the south and east.


[21] NOTE.--The Officer Commanding was exonerated from all blame in
this matter.


In the meantime, what had become of the other detachments?  At Wepener,
four days later, a force of 1,898 men, composed almost entirely of
Colonial Corps, under the command of Colonel Dalgety of the Cape
Mounted Rifles, was attacked by De Wet and blockaded for fourteen days;
but so skilfully, under the guidance of Major Ronald Maxwell, R.E., did
the men entrench themselves, that the total casualties at the end of
the siege were only 169.

The other columns, at Smithfield, Helvetia, and Rouxville, were only
saved by the skilful handling of Major Allen of the Royal Irish Rifles,
who collected them all and withdrew on Aliwal North, and by the heroic
spirit of the men themselves.  The detachment from Helvetia marched
seventy-three miles in fifty-two hours, and that from Smithfield
forty-five miles in thirty-six hours.  General Brabant sent out some
empty waggons to meet the exhausted infantry, but, though almost
barefoot and reeling with fatigue, they refused to accept the lift,
saying that if they did so the good name of the regiment would suffer.

{259}

The story of all these detachments must be looked at as a whole, as a
policy.  It was the defeat at Sannah's Post which, coming "like a bolt
from the blue," changed the whole situation; "the dispositions of the
troops, designed to restore peace, were (now) not merely inadequate,
they were wholly inappropriate."[22]  It is difficult to see how the
position of the Dewetsdorp detachment differs from that of the others,
all of which were but the execution of the policy sketched in the
telegram from the Field-Marshal to the War Office of March 21, given on
page 243.


[22] See _Official History_, vol. ii. p. 305.


On April 9 Sir Herbert Chermside arrived at Springfontein to take over
the command of the Third Division, and the next day the following
letter reached Sir William Gatacre:


"_From Chief of the Staff, S.A.F.F._

"SIR,

"I am directed by the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief in South Africa
to inform you that his lordship has decided, though with much regret,
to relieve you of your present command.  You will therefore be good
enough to make over the command of the 3rd Division to Major-General
Sir Herbert Chermside, G.C.M.G., C.B., and proceed to England at an
early date.

"I have the honour to be, Sir, "Your obedient servant, "B. DUFF,
_Colonel, for Major-General,_ "_Chief of the Staff, S.A.F. Force._"


When the camp woke up on the morning of the 11th their ex-commander was
gone.  The {260} following letter reflects the spirit in which his
staff officers looked at the matter.


"REDDERSBURG, _April_ 12, 1900.

"It is with a heavy heart indeed that I write this.  Why, oh why did
they treat our General so hardly, so unfairly?  We know nothing except
the bare facts.  All are sorry and grieved, and many question the
fairness, the justice of the action taken.  No one worked harder than
he did.  I may say it would have been impossible to do so.  He never
spared himself.  Luck, cursed luck, has been all against him.  I heard
two days ago from England that they believed that he had attacked at
Stormberg with two battalions when he had eight at his command,--such a
gross mistake!  Now the luck having turned, as it appeared, the
unfortunate Royal Irish Rifles get caught again, although no possible
blame could be attached to him by reasonable men.  I worked out the
orders and telegrams he had given and received myself, and I know what
was done.  They seem to have attributed the blame of it to him--most
unfairly.  He was so good about it and so plucky, blaming no one and
taking the blow so courageously,--man could not be braver under any
circumstances.  All the interest of the campaign has gone for me, and
---- feels for him as much as I do.

"We shall never have a chief whom we can serve more loyally, who was
always considerate and even-tempered, and spared himself so little.
His faults, if I may use the expression, are his virtues, devotion and
loyalty and energy--to use all in the service of his country.  It has
been a great blow to us all.

"Believe me, we feel it as the loss of a personal and dear friend."



{261}

CHAPTER XVII

1900-1903

BACK TO COLCHESTER

Since the Book of Job was written steadfastness in adversity has ever
been considered as a virtue of high order.  Indeed, what need is there
in a Christian country to insist that want of success in the affairs of
this world is not incompatible with an unsullied conscience and a
stainless shield?

From Capetown Gatacre sent a telegram begging Lord Roberts to give some
reason for his action, and in reply received a letter which (while
declining to discuss the main issue) closes with the following sentence:


"This action, which Lord Roberts has felt it his duty to take, casts no
slur whatever upon your honour, your personal courage, your energy and
zeal, which are beyond all question."[1]


[1] For the reasons given by Lord Roberts to the War Office, see the
dispatch printed at the end of this volume, p. 286; reprinted from the
_Official History_, vol. ii. p. 614.


This was the spirit that welcomed Sir William on his arrival in
England; for he came straight home and calmly awaited the verdict of
the War Office in London.

The first to pour balm on her servant's {262} wounded spirit was Her
Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria.  Gatacre reached London on May 12, and
on the 24th, in the _Birthday Gazette_, his name appeared as a
recipient of the Gold Medal of a new Order, the Kaiser-i-Hind, which
the Queen had just created for the recognition of Public Service in
India.  This first distribution of the decoration had regard more
especially to services rendered in dealing with the plague and the
famine of 1897 and the following years.

Only five days after Gatacre's arrival the relief of Mafeking, after
217 days' siege, was celebrated in London with much popular rejoicing.
This uproarious joy jarred mercilessly on Sir William's mood, but the
whole country exulted, and there was no way of escape.  The daily
papers too were full of South African news, so that even this source of
idle distraction carried its sting.  And so it happened that when an
old friend came to call on the morning of May 24, and to inquire after
the General's health (which to most men seemed to provide an obvious
explanation of his return), he had the pleasure of informing us of the
new decoration.

On the following day Gatacre received instructions to resume command of
the Eastern District.

[Sidenote: A welcome home]

British hearts, ever loyal to brave men in distress, did not stop to
quibble over professional responsibilities; they remembered the years
of devoted service, they knew of his personal gallantry, and they
trusted time to prove their faith.  Colchester struck the first {263}
note: the townspeople turned out in their thousands to cheer one whom
they knew and loved.  During the drive from the station to the camp the
crowd massed in the streets was so great and so vociferous that the
wave of feeling was overwhelming, and it was with a sense of relief
that we reached our destination.

In the following June the Prince and Princess of Wales (as we then
spoke of Their present Majesties) honoured Norwich with a visit to open
the new buildings of the Jenny Lind Hospital.  The whole population of
the royal borough was in the streets that lovely summer day, and made
their loyalty known in the usual way; but they did not forget to keep a
sharp lookout for the man who had come from the war, for the man who
had so lately fought in their battles; and as the cheers died away
after the royal carriage had passed out of sight, they were renewed
with deafening insistence as each voice strained to make its message of
love and esteem reach the ears of one who with his own eyes had seen
the enemy.  For I believe that in those days of popular excitement over
the occupation of Pretoria, Gatacre was, to the man in the street, the
personification of a successful war that had just reached its
conclusion.

This burst of feeling, howsoever prompted, was very touching, but what
did more to encourage Sir William than any other single event was the
gracious and cordial greeting accorded to him by His Royal Highness
when, as in duty bound, the General had the honour of receiving {264}
him at Norwich Station.  Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales also
sent for me in the course of the afternoon and was pleased to use very
kindly and appreciative words about my husband's services to his
country, and her sympathy with his immediate trouble.

When in the round of annual inspections the General visited the Cadet
Corps of Bedford Grammar School, he had further evidence of his
personal popularity in the attentions showered upon him by all the boys
in the school, who insisted on dispensing with the usual mode of
traction and harnessing themselves to his carriage.  It was the same
thing at Clacton, when the Lord Mayor of London opened the Essex
Agricultural Show.  Sir William had been detained in his office, and
only reached the show-ground just before the luncheon assembly broke
up; the speaker within the tent was at a loss to account for an
untimely uproar.  It was the crowd outside who had recognised "General
Gatacre," and, as he entered, those inside the tent took up the strain.

However gratifying such popular outbursts may be in their spontaneity,
it is the reasoned judgment of his peers that a man ultimately values.
The following telegram was received by the senior officer in the
station on the day after our return to Colchester.


"The members of the Aldershot Conservative Club are delighted to read
of the deservedly enthusiastic welcome accorded to General Gatacre
yesterday, and wish to convey through you {265} to the General their
hearty greetings upon his safe return from the seat of war.  We do not
forget his services to the Empire, and we loyally reciprocate
Colchester's sentiment."


[Sidenote: Sympathy]

It was in the summer of 1900 that the call arose for more troops for
South Africa, which brought several new county Yeomanry Corps and the
Volunteer Service Companies into existence; it was Sir William's
business to promote the formation of all such corps within the nine
counties that made up the Eastern District, and to contribute in every
way to their efficiency.  This brought him into personal contact with
the leading men of all parts of his command, for it will be remembered
how much public spirit was shown in the revival of interest in the
Auxiliary Forces that marked the years 1900 and 1901.  I should like
here to record how helpful were the loyalty, the confidence, and I may
say the sympathy (if that word can stand for an unexpressed sentiment
where silence alone befitted the dignity of the personnel on both
sides) that he received on all sides; and how the cordial relations
established between the General and the county society of his district
encouraged him to tread patiently and hopefully the path he had traced
for himself.  In many cases the official visit to some great man's
house to inspect the corps encamped in his park led to shooting visits
in the following autumn--a delightful testimony to the undiminished
power of his personal charm.

{266}

On the other hand, those in daily converse with Sir William, both in
his office and outside, were not blind to the sustained effort on his
part that was necessary to carry him through those trying days of
eclipse.  One under whom he had served in India wrote, with the insight
of true affection, for the guidance and inspiration of another:


"I feel that it is very difficult for Gatacre to face all that he has
to bear; but I feel certain that through it all he has exhibited
soldierly qualities of a high order, that must be appreciated; but his
return home will be very difficult for him to accept, and I fear he
will have no opportunity of justifying himself.  You must, you know, be
in very good heart, and feel very brave for his coming."


It was very difficult for Gatacre to bear, and he never forgot

  The hopes by weakness foiled, or evil fate,
  The slander, the dumb heart-break, and the pain.

It was incontrovertibly the fiercest trial to which he could have been
subjected.

Those who have only known suffering when it comes shrouded in the
simple majesty of death can have no measure of the additional
bitterness of blows dealt by the hand of man, nor the torture endured
by a righteous man when his honour is affected.

Gatacre had known what it was to suffer in his private life, but then
his profession had come {267} to his assistance, and by flinging
himself with all his natural vigour into its arms for shelter and
comfort he had triumphed over his pain.  In this case he had been given
a second chance, he had been allowed to be happy again.  The laurels
that he had reaped doubled their value in his eyes in that there was
another to share them.  But his profession at all times had a far
larger share of his heart than anything that contributed to his
pleasure.  That was the way he was made; his profession was identified
with his duty, and for him there was nothing so enjoyable as those
duties which taxed his endurance and his energy.  His soldiering was
all in all to him; it was his record; all he had to show; the building
that he had built with the bricks that had been served out to him.  In
his own estimation he was nothing if not a soldier.

Now, recalled, rejected, the worldly hope on which he had set his heart
had turned to ashes in his hand: the ambition which had been his saving
grace in the days of tribulation was lost to him now.  Was this the
guerdon for all the years of loving toil?  Was this "the reward of it
all"?

Who shall say whence a man draws his reserves of strength?  It seemed
to some of us that in his own dauntless character Gatacre found
unquenchable inspiration: his independence of the opinion of men, his
own intimate knowledge of the facts of the case, his untarnished record
of loyal service, and his own "triumphant endurance and conquering
moral {268} energy"--these were things of which no one could deprive
him.

  I will be patient and proud, and soberly acquiesce.


[Sidenote: Hopes]

With a supreme effort of steadfastness and a resolute courage he forced
his faith in disinterested work to come to his rescue, but henceforth
he was working not to deaden the pain of outraged sensibilities, not
for his own advancement, but for the work's own sake--to forward the
cause of the army in South Africa, for the simple service of the
country.  Nothing but his accumulated powers of silent endurance, his
proud indifference to his own feelings, aided by the response that his
speechless loyalty won from his daily companions, could have sustained
him through those three and a half long years while he silently and
quietly did his duty.  Borrowing the words of another we may say that
"his military experience had intensified his natural horror of schism
and lukewarm co-operation, and magnanimity was a stronger force than
any personal consideration."

Now I contend that in achieving this triumph of discipline Gatacre
reached a loftier level in the sight of God and man than any to which
high appointments could have raised him; and I believe that his example
and his memory in this respect alone will outlive the story of many
battlefields, and that he will thus have transformed a story of
momentary defeat into an everlasting victory.

This attitude implied a rare simplicity and a {269} profound knowledge
of the world.  He preferred to accept misconstruction and
misrepresentation rather than betray the lofty promptings of his own
soul; and he was at the same time perfectly conscious that any attempt
(even though successful in the main) to set himself right in the eyes
of the world would alienate his friends and make enemies.  These words
are something more than a speculative analysis of what might have been
his frame of mind; for the latter argument was the ground of his
refusal to accept any of the several offers he received from writers
who asked his sanction for the preparation of articles throwing light
on the events in which he had taken part.

As the General recovered his balance and settled down to the routine of
his work, his natural buoyancy returned, and he once more took a
pleasure in all that went on around him.  Hopes that things might work
out all right in the end arose to cheer him, and there was much to
foster such an idea.

When the South African War Commission was initiated, he hoped that this
would give him a chance to explain matters, imagined that it would be a
confidential court of inquiry, a sort of hearing in camera, where,
without insubordination or disloyalty, he would be encouraged to speak.
In May 1903 he was summoned to give evidence.  On their arrival all the
witnesses are taken aside by one of the Commissioners and formally
cautioned not to say anything that might be used against them.  To
Gatacre these words carried a personal meaning, though the phraseology
completely puzzled {270} him.  He failed to see how anything that was
true could be so used, and could find no purpose in the warning.  The
Commissioners, however, confined their attention to questions of
efficiency and other generalities, and no interest was shown in his
personal affairs.  And thus this hope of salvation vanished.  One touch
of character showed itself: he tells the Commissioners how he raised
companies of mounted infantry from the battalions in his command, and
goes on to say that as soon as the men had learnt to ride and to
perform their special duties, he was ordered to send them forward to
Army Headquarters, so that his own force was constantly denuded of
mounted troops.  In the proof submitted for correction his reply to an
obvious question appeared as "I never complained."  He struck out the
past tense, and it stands as his motto: "I never complain."[2]


[2] _South African War Commission_, vol. iii. p. 277.


[Sidenote: Departure]

Another circumstance in the last year of his command revived his hopes
of re-employment.  This was a visit by the Commander-in-Chief to
Colchester and other places in the Eastern District.  Everything had
gone very well, the Commander-in-Chief had expressed himself highly
satisfied with all that he had seen, and on the last day, at a garden
party at Chelmsford, the Chief Staff Officer handed on the encouraging
message that Lord Roberts had been much pleased with his visit, and
that he had remarked a higher tone amongst officers and men at
Colchester than at any other camp.  This was, of {271} course, said in
private conversation, but it was taken as "inspired."

In August of the same year, 1903, when preparations were being made for
extensive manoeuvres to be held on Salisbury Plain, Gatacre was
appointed as Umpire-in-Chief of the Blue Army.  This was a good omen,
for it seemed incredible that a post of such importance in the training
of the troops engaged should be given to an officer who was likely soon
to be struck off the active list, who was, so to speak, already cast.

That he had a genuine belief that his services might yet be utilised by
the State in some capacity is shown by his decision to go on half pay.
In the summer of 1903 he called on the Secretary of State for the
Colonies and asked him to consider his name for any suitable post in
that Department.  I believe that he would have taken the Governorship
of any island, regardless of its size or climate, just for the love of
the service of the State--just for the pleasure of using powers that he
knew himself still to possess unimpaired.

The term of the command ran out on December 8, 1903.  That he should
vacate the post without immediate prospect of re-employment was in
itself a bitterness to him, and chilled the expectations that had
contributed to the harmony of his days.

His memory hung about Colchester for many years.  It was not merely
that his portrait hung in the Soldiers' Institute that he had opened,
{272} nor that he had won many extra comforts for both officers and men
in the new barracks that were built under his direction.  It was more
than this; it was the weight of his name, the tradition of love and
esteem that the name revived.  When the men were decorating their rooms
for Christmas 1906 they made a banner which carried these words: "To
the memory of Major-General Sir William Forbes Gatacre--one of the
best."  This spontaneous tribute was set up nearly a year after his
death, and four years after he had left Colchester, a time long enough
for the reliefs to have removed all the battalions that had known him
there; but there was scarcely a regiment in the service that had not
known him somewhere in his thirteen years' service as General Officer.



{273}

CHAPTER XVIII

1904-1906

ABYSSINIA

Although Gatacre undoubtedly indulged hopes of further employment, he
had not much confidence in such expectations.  While prepared to move
onwards should his desires be fulfilled, he was simultaneously
safeguarding his retreat.

During the manoeuvres he had made inquiries about the working of the
Remount Department in the counties, and had discovered that there was a
post open to him which would provide both congenial occupation and
reasonable remuneration, namely £500 a year in addition to pension.

He bought a little house in the Cotswold Hills, and for the first few
weeks enjoyed the leisure, as he had always enjoyed the leisure of his
sixty days' leave.

Although the post he coveted was vacant, and although similar posts
were being worked by retired officers of his rank, unaccountable
difficulties arose in securing it.  In the hope of wearing down these
obstacles, whatever might be their origin, Gatacre got permission to
hold the post for eight months, but the pay attached was withheld, the
arrangement being that he was to draw allowances only, {274} on the
scale fixed by Government for all such duty, which is calculated to
cover actual travelling expenses.  The work consisted mainly of
overhauling and replenishing the list of registered horses, over an
area of twenty-two counties.  These included Wales and Cornwall to the
west, while on the east a line drawn from Cheshire to Hampshire
inclusive of these two counties would form a rough boundary.  He very
soon got profoundly interested in his task.

He invented a new system of tabulating all sorts of information useful
to the Department.  He found that to complete what was properly a
year's work in eight months involved working under more pressure than
could justly be expected, more especially as his services were
voluntary; but the old incentive of reaching his own self-imposed
standard would not let him leave his work unfinished.  The facts he had
collected were useless, his labour would be in vain, unless he could
record them in a form that would be handy for reference.  His reports
were to be the _vade mecum_ of the Remount and Yeomanry Officer in each
county; there was one little volume for each county, and a General
Directory for use at Headquarters.  Permission was obtained from Sir
Evelyn Wood, commanding the Second Army Corps, to employ an army clerk
and two typewriting clerks (women) in an office in Salisbury, and there
Gatacre worked for six weeks in July and August 1904.  In order to
complete his task in the allotted time, he had to stick so closely to
his desk that he {275} grudged the loss of working hours which would be
the consequence of a Sunday at home.  But it occurred to him that as
the nights were short and cool he could save the time that would be
wasted in the train by doing the journey by night on his bicycle.  The
distance was sixty-four miles; the first time it worked very well and
he met with no mishap, but on the return journey he punctured at 2
a.m., and as it was too dark to do his own repairs, he had to complete
the last twenty-four miles on foot.

[Sidenote: On the road]

A fortnight later he was on the road again, but decided to come by day.
He telegraphed to me that he was leaving Salisbury at noon on Saturday.
Having remonstrated with him about making this journey in one stretch,
as he had done previously, I wired that I would meet him at Malmesbury
at 5 p.m., reckoning that he could not complete his forty-eight miles
in less than five hours, and that my presence would ensure a break in
the long spin.  He arrived five minutes before time, but we did not
start off again till six.  On another occasion he started at daybreak,
and we met at nine o'clock for breakfast at Malmesbury.  His age was
then sixty; the story is told in order to show not only that he still
possessed staying powers above the average, but that he still found the
highest delight in using such powers.

In September he was informed that the Remount Department had no longer
any use for his services.  Across the letter to this effect I find
written in his own hand "Disappointing, {276} very!"  Once more it
seemed to him that his devotion and exertion counted for naught; he had
done good work, but he had mysteriously failed to make it of any
account.

[Sidenote: 1905]

There was, however, an interpretation of the situation which, though
hidden from his eyes, can be read between the lines of the file of
correspondence.  He could see and could gauge the usefulness of his
services and ideas, but his humble-mindedness hid from him the fact
that it was his own value that stood in his way.  His highly trained
administrative faculties immediately grasped all the bearings and
possibilities of the problem before him, and he could not resist the
desire to improve upon existing methods.  This was not what the
Department wanted.  Although willing to admit the intrinsic merits of
his scheme, the authorities were not prepared to put in force such a
comprehensive measure of reorganisation; so that while they could
honestly say that his "work would serve as a model," they had no option
but to discontinue using a tool that was too powerful, too keen, for
their purpose.  His military rank and his administrative ability made
it impossible to employ him in the subordinate position that he coveted.

[Sidenote: Retired]

Yet another blow was hanging over him.  On March 22,1905, he went to
London to attend the Memorial Service to His Royal Highness the Duke of
Cambridge in Westminster Abbey.  At such a gathering he naturally found
many friends (more especially as the Duke had been Colonel-in-Chief of
the Middlesex Regiment), {277} and, according to one who was amongst
the number, it was a pleasure to see how many distinguished men came to
greet him, civilians as well as soldiers, and among them men of
political standing who knew him more by reputation than in person.
This was the last flicker of his public life, for when he returned to
the country that evening the intimation of his immediate retirement lay
among his correspondence.  By contrast to his mood when a few hours
earlier he had stood honoured among his peers, this letter seemed a
stinging blow, and I can confidently say that he did not expect it.
There were still eight months to run before he reached the age of
sixty-two, at which point he would (in the event of his not having been
promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General) have had to "retire" under
the regulations.

The one thing that we had vaguely dreaded had come to pass.  The thing
was unthinkable, but it was true--the words in his friend's letter had
become prophecy: he was to "have no opportunity of justifying himself,"
no chance of obliterating the slur that had been cast on his name.  His
career was at an end, and it had closed a dishonoured career, when to
have held one more appointment, however insignificant, would have
implied recognition of the facts of the case and compensation for the
hasty judgment.

It was some time in the summer of 1905 that the late Sir Lepel Griffin
invited Gatacre to sit on the board of the Kordofan Trading Company.
{278} We welcomed the new interest.  I thought that the pretext for
regular visits to London was a desirable thing; I liked to think of his
moving amongst busy men, and having something to occupy his mind.
There was no idea of making a fortune; we had very little spare
capital, and he only invested the small amount necessary to qualify as
a Director.

From the first he foresaw the opportunity that might arise of visiting
the territory specified in the concession.  The prospect attracted him
wildly.  As the season approached when such a proposition could be
seriously entertained, his spirits rose, and he revelled in the idea of
starting off for the desert; he took the keenest pleasure in preparing
every contrivance for his comfort that his experience of camp-life
could suggest; he set about getting books and pamphlets in which he
could learn the history of the trade in rubber and the chemical
processes of its manufacture.

A telegram which reached us on November 10, asking whether he could be
ready to start by the Peninsular and Oriental night mail of the 17th,
lifted him into the highest spirits: from that moment he talked of
nothing but tents, rifles, and such-like necessities, and thought of
nothing but the valuable report that he would prepare for his
co-Directors.

To those who have been inclined to blame me for letting him go, I would
reply that it still appears to me that any attempt to stop him would
have been dictated by selfish motives.  He was offered a delightful
trip, one that would {279} afford him all those arduous pleasures that
his soul loved.  Why should I stand in his way?  I did desire greatly
to accompany him, but in such a short space it would have been
impossible to wind up his affairs and so set me free to go.

[Sidenote: Up the Nile]

The rubber forests that were the objective of the trip lay in
Abyssinia, east and south of Addis Abeba.  The party consisted of the
General, in command; an experienced Syrian trader named Idlibi, who had
acted as his interpreter during the Egyptian Campaign of 1898; one or
two men of a similar class, and a suitable number of servants and
porters.  Amongst Sir William's three personal servants, one was a
Mahommedan bearer from India, with whom he could talk freely in
Hindustani, and who could therefore act as interpreter to the Arab
servants.  The route selected involved a trip in steamers of about 500
miles up the White Nile to Taufikia, and then, turning eastward, a
further 250 miles up the tributary river Sobat, which in its upper
reaches is called the Baro, to Gambela, from which it is 300 miles by a
good caravan track to Addis Abeba.

At Fashoda, which is now officially called Kodok, the party came across
an English missionary boat.  Gatacre went on board and had tea with the
five missionaries a few days before Christmas.

It was hoped that there would have been enough water in the river to
float the shallow craft right on to Gambela, but first one boat and
then the two smaller craft ran aground.  {280} It was therefore
necessary to open communications from Keg, where the last barge
stranded, to Gambela by road, a distance of about thirty-eight miles.
Leaving Idlibi in charge of the caravan, Sir William accomplished this
march on foot in three days, accompanied by his servants and a few
porters.

[Sidenote: 1906]

Gambela is an important trading centre, and was the first objective of
the journey.  Politically it is known as an Enclave--that is, a tract
of country leased by the King of Abyssinia to the Soudan Government.
It thus becomes a frontier post of the Soudan, and has a small
Soudanese garrison, which in January 1906 was under the command of the
Memour Mehined Riad Effendi.

The Memour was exceedingly hospitable to Sir William, receiving him as
a guest in his house, and doing everything in his power to facilitate
his journey.  Gatacre's letters speak most gratefully of the kindness
he received at this officer's hands.  At Gambela he discovered the
Company's agent, and arranged with him to procure three hundred
coolies, who should march to Keg, and then carry the merchandise from
the boats along the track by which Sir William himself had just
travelled.

[Sidenote: His death in the desert]

Having completed his business, Gatacre started back to join Idlibi, and
report progress.  On this return journey he was unfortunate in his
camping-grounds.  Tents being superfluous in such a climate, the party
just bivouacked where they halted when the sudden darkness of {281} the
tropics fell upon them.  In a small notebook of daily jottings, which
at his leisure Gatacre worked up into a more formal journal, I find the
following entry on January 11, 1906: "Camped in a swamp--horrible
water."  He reached Keg next day, and was pleased to find that Idlibi
had disembarked all the stuff and divided it into suitable loads for
the men to carry.  A few days later, being impatient at the non-arrival
of the coolies, Gatacre decided again to make his way to Gambela, but
was attacked with fever on the road, and died at a place known as
Iddeni.

His body was conveyed in a canoe to Gambela, where Mehined Riad Effendi
saw to its burial in the Abyssinian Christian Cemetery, with due
formality.

On Idlibi's arrival with the merchandise a court of inquiry was held,
at which the Memour presided.  The depositions of all the servants were
formally taken, and a translation of their words was forwarded through
the British Consul at Addis Abeba to the Foreign Office in London.  It
appears therein that there was another Englishman moving to and fro
during that week, and that he passed the General on the Tuesday
previous to his death, which took place on Thursday, January 18, 1906.
I mention this to show that the locality was not unknown to
civilisation, and that Gatacre was not the only one to brave the
climate.

It is clear that darkness overtook him on the 11th while on swampy
ground, so that he was {282} compelled to pass the night exposed to
dangerous miasmas.  I am convinced that had it not been for this
misfortune, or some similar accidental misadventure, he would have
returned with the rest of the mission on June 10 as young and
high-spirited as he was on his departure.

      *      *      *      *      *

  Lofty designs must close in like effects:
      Loftily lying,
  Leave him--still loftier than the world suspects,
      Living and dying.

      *      *      *      *      *

The key-note to Gatacre's character may be said to be willingness--an
eager and fearless willingness to follow the right, the best, an
unconditional spending of himself in carrying out the lofty conceptions
of duty and service with which he was gifted.  Everything he undertook,
everything he accomplished, was done with an eager gallantry and a
joyful zeal.  The effect of these qualities was enhanced by a proud
indifference to the cost to himself.

His soldierly heedlessness in risking his life had its moral
counterpart in his willingness to accept to the full all responsibility
for his actions.  How should one who feared not the Hand of God--"the
arrow that flieth by day, nor the pestilence that walketh in
darkness"--how should such a one fear the judgment of man?

It is to the remarkable association of an exalted sense of duty with
exceptional physical powers that Gatacre owes much of his distinction.
His {283} standard of efficiency and discipline was as far above the
average as were his powers of bodily endurance.  His lowliness of mind,
however, hid from him the true measure of his endowments, and led him
to try to inspire all men with his own lofty ideals.  During his long
services as staff officer he was always ready to show to his Chief the
enthusiastic co-operation that he expected from those who were serving
under him.  Though some officers may have smarted under his sarcasms,
though they may have thought that he overtaxed his troops, it is
admitted on all sides that his exactions were prompted solely by the
interests of the service, and that his life was the expression of the
precepts that he instilled.  In the final act of his military career
Gatacre proved that he was ready to do as he would be done by--to
submit himself without question to the word of authority.  Many a time
had he been face to face with death; when something more precious than
life itself was demanded he laid aside his reputation without a murmur.

[Sidenote: The broken arcs]

      *      *      *      *      *

  Therefore to whom do I turn but to Thee, the ineffable Name?
    Builder and Maker, Thou, of houses not made with hands!
  What, have fear of change from Thee who art ever the same?
    Doubt that Thy power can fill the heart that Thy power expands?
  There shall never be one lost good!  What was, shall live as before;
    The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;
  What was good, shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
    On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven a perfect round.

      *      *      *      *      *

{284}

[Sidenote: Finis]

In a sense Gatacre was but the fulfilment of an everlasting type.  It
is this quality in him, this spark of the eternal Quixotic, of the
eternal Heroic, of the eternal Tragic, that redeems his life from the
commonplace, that has made him an example to some of his own
generation, and may yet make him an example to some that are to come.
Death has put an end to controversy.  His fair fame remains; he is
crowned with the halo of the departed, and his name is written on the
long roll of true knights, _sans peur et sans reproche_.



{285}

In Memoriam

On Saturday, May 26, 1906, an alabaster tablet bearing the inscription
given below was dedicated by the Rev. H. Hensley Henson, Canon of
Westminster, in Claverley Church, Shropshire.

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

SIR WILLIAM FORBES GATACRE

MAJOR-GENERAL KNIGHT COMMANDER OF THE BATH A MEMBER OF THE
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER HOLDING THE KAISER-I-HIND GOLD MEDAL AND OF
THE ORDER OF THE MEDJIDIEH AND KNIGHT OF GRACE OF THE ORDER OF SAINT
JOHN OF JERUSALEM

THIRD SON OF EDWARD LLOYD GATACRE ESQ OF GATACRE IN THIS PARISH BORN AT
HERBERTSHIRE CASTLE 3 DECEMBER 1843 DIED NEAR GAMBELLA ABYSSINIA 18
JANUARY 1906

HE SERVED WITH DISTINCTION IN THE HAZARA CAMPAIGN 1888 IN THE TON-HON
EXPEDITION 1889-90 IN THE CHITRAL RELIEF FORCE 1895 HE COMMANDED THE
BRITISH DIVISION IN THE ADVANCE ON KHARTOUM 1898 AND THE THIRD DIVISION
OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN FIELD FORCE 1899-1900 NOT LESS MEMORABLE WAS HIS
SERVICE AS PRESIDENT OF THE BOMBAY PLAGUE COMMITTEE 1897

STRENUOUS IN ACTION AND GIFTED WITH AN EXALTED SENSE OF EFFICIENCY AND
DISCIPLINE HE TROD HIS PATH IN LIFE WITH AN UNSWERVING DEVOTION TO DUTY
HIS SIMPLICITY OF CHARACTER HIS GREAT COURAGE AND POWERS OF ENDURANCE
HIS MANLY TENDERNESS OF HEART WON HIM THE ADMIRATION AND AFFECTION OF
ALL WHO KNEW HIM

"WHOM GOD LOVETH HE CHASTENETH"



{286}

REASONS FOR THE REMOVAL OF LIEUT.-GENERAL GATACRE[1]


[1] See _Official History_, vol. ii. p. 614.


In a memorandum to the Secretary of State for War, dated April 16,
1900, Lord Roberts set forth his reasons for the step he had taken in
removing Lieut.-General Sir William Gatacre from the command of the 3rd
Division.

With reference to the defeat at Stormberg, Lord Roberts explained the
view he had taken as follows:


"In my opinion, Lieut.-General Gatacre on this occasion showed a want
of care, judgment, and even of ordinary military precautions, which
rendered it impossible for me, in justice to those who might be called
on to serve under him, to employ him in any position where serious
fighting might be looked for.  I was, however, most anxious to avoid,
if it were possible, the infliction on him of the slur which
necessarily attaches itself to a General who is removed from his
command while on active service.  I, therefore, refused to supersede
him at the time when I assumed the chief command in South Africa,
believing that I might safely employ him on the lines of communication
or in any position not actually in the front.

{287}

"On March 28 I telegraphed to Lieut.-General Gatacre as follows:


"'No. C. 696.  If you have enough troops at your disposal I should like
you to occupy Dewetsdorp.  It would make the road to Maseru safe, and
prevent the enemy from using the telegraph line to the south.  _Let me
know what you can do to this end._'


"To the question italicised above, Lieut.-General Gatacre gave me no
reply.  In answer to my telegram he sent a list of movements then in
progress in the southern part of the Orange Free State, east of the
railway, which included a movement of two companies Royal Irish Rifles
towards Dewetsdorp, where they were due to arrive on Sunday (April 1).

"On March 30 he wired that two companies mounted infantry and three
companies Royal Irish Rifles were moving on Dewetsdorp.

"On March 31 I wired to Lieut.-General Gatacre that I considered
Dewetsdorp too far advanced for security, and on April 1 he informed me
that he had sent a despatch rider to Dewetsdorp with orders for the
troops there to fall back on Reddersburg.

"The result of these movements was that in falling back these companies
were surrounded east of Reddersburg and, being without food or water,
were eventually compelled to surrender.  For this result I must hold
Lieut.-General Gatacre responsible.  Dewetsdorp is some forty-five
miles by road east of the railway on which the mass of the troops were
stationed, and is {288} therefore a position in which a small force is
much isolated and might be in great danger if attacked.  It appears,
however, that Lieut.-General Gatacre ordered two companies mounted
infantry and three companies Royal Irish Rifles to Dewetsdorp on his
own responsibility, and failed to give me the information I asked for
as to what he could do with the troops at his disposal as regards
holding the place, which, if supplied, would have enabled me to judge
of its adequacy or otherwise, and therefore whether Dewetsdorp should
or should not be occupied.  The small force he actually sent was
entirely incapable of holding its own so far from sufficient force, and
being partly composed of infantry was unable to move rapidly when a
retirement became necessary.  I consider that in thus isolating a small
detachment, Lieut.-General Gatacre has shown a grave want of judgment
which must necessarily shake the confidence of those under his orders
and have a bad effect on the _moral_ of his troops.  I am therefore
unable to retain him in command of his division and have given orders
for his relief and return to England.

"ROBERTS, Field-Marshal"

"BLOEMFONTEIN, "_April_ 16, 1900."



{289}

INDEX


Addis Abeba, Abyssinia: W. F. G. starts for, Nov. 1905, 278

Adjutant-General Bombay Army.  See Staff Services.

Aldershot: W. F. G. serves there as D.A.Q.M.G. in 1879-80, 37
  serves as G.O.C. Third Infantry Brigade, 1897-8, 184

Aldershot Conservative Club: telegram of welcome from, 1900, 264

Allahabad: W. F. G. quartered there, 1862-4, 14

Allen, Colonel E., R.I.R., withdraws detachments to Aliwal North, 258

Aliwal North, O.F.S.: headquarters of Colonial Corps, 1900, 244

Appointments held by W. F. G.  See Staff Services and War Services.

Arnott, Colonel James: recollections of 1894, 121

Assault-at-Arms, Bombay, 1894, 122-5

Atbara: events leading to engagement on banks of, 1898, 199-202
  battle of, April 8, 1898, 203-6

Aylmer, Maj.-Gen. F. J., V.C., C.B.: served with Royal
    Engineers on Chitral Relief Force, 1895, 131


Baird, Captain A. McD.: killed during siege of Chitral, 1895, 141

Bannu: letter written from, by W.F.G. while on tour, 1887, 67

Barnardiston, Col. N. W., M.V.O., adjutant to 77th Regt.:
      recollections of, 55-9

Battye, Col. L. R., 5th Goorkhas, killed near Oghi, 1888, 73

Beluohistan.  See Quetta, Fort Sandeman, etc.

Bengough, Maj.-Gen. Sir  Harcourt, K.C.B., late Middlesex Regt.:
      recollections of, 15

Bethulie Bridge: saved by scouts of Third Division, 241
  removal of explosives by W. F. G. and Lieut. Grant, R. E., March,
    1900, 241

Black Mountain Expedition, or Hazara Field Force, 1888, 72-81
  Tribes: historical sketch of, 71-2

Bloemfontein, O.F.S.: occupied by F.-M. Lord Roberts, March, 1900, 240
  garrison of, April 1900, 249
  W. F. G. proceeds to, for interview of, April 2, 1900, 254

Bolan-Mushkaf Railroad: first mail train Nov. 30, 1896, 160

Bombay: W. F. G. commands mil. district, 1894-7, 110-26
  testimonials by citizens of, 182

Boots: unsatisfactory nature of, Egypt, 1898, 190

Brabant, Maj.-Gen. Sir E. Y., K.C.B., commanding Colonial Corps,
      South Africa, 1899-1900, 240
  headquarters of, at Aliwal North, 244
  his detachment at Wepener to be reinforced, March 1900, 250
  sends waggons to meet infantry detachments, 258

Broadwood, Maj.-Gen. R. G., C.B., A.D.C.: operations near
      Thaba' Nchu, 252
  at Sannah's Post, 253

Brooke, Bt.-Lieut.-Col. R. G., D.S.O.: Orderly Officer
      Third Brigade, Chitral Relief Force, 1895, 142
  A.D.C. to W. F. G. in Egypt, 1898, 188

Brooke, Robert, of Madeley Court: effigy of, in Claverley Church, 4

Browne, Col. H. L., late 77th Regt, : recollections of, 29

Buffs, the, 1st Batt. East Kent Regt.: form part of Third
      Brigade Chitral Relief Force, 1895, 129

Buller, Gen. Sir Redvers, V.C., G.C.B., etc: sent to the Cape
      in command of Army Corps, Oct. 1899, 220
  dispositions made on arrival, 221
  telegrams sent for W. F. G.'s guidance, 223
    suggests night attack, 227
    approves unsuccessful attempt on Stormberg, 237
  anxious position of, Dec. 1899, 239
  relieves Ladysmith, March 1900, 240

Bullets: unsatisfactory nature of, Egypt 1898, 191

Burma, Lower: historical sketch of, 43-4
  Upper: under Mindon-min and King Theebaw, 44
  annexed by Proclamation, Jan. 1, 1886, 84


Cambridge, H.R.H. the Duke of, K.G., G.C.B., etc.: Memorial
      Service to, March 22, 1905, 276

Cameron Highlanders: 1st batt. in Egypt, 1898, 187
  march on Reddersburg, April 1900, 255

Camp of Exercise, at Bangalore, 1884, 53
  at Delhi, 1885-6, 63-4

Cape Colony: W. F. G. sent to reassure eastern portion of, Oct. 1899,
221
  invasion by Boers, Nov. 1899, 224

Channer, Lt.-Gen., V.C., C.B.; commanding No. 1 Column, Hazara Field
      Force, 1888, 75
  occupies Thakot, 80

Chapman, Gen. Sir Edward, K.C.B.: Q.M.G. India, 1885-9, 64

Chermside, Hon. Lt.-Gen. Sir H. C., G.C.M.G., K.C.B., takes over
      command, of Third Division, South Africa Field Force, 1900, 259

Chitral Relief Force: See Chapter IX., 127-44
  W. F. G. to command Third Brigade, March 1895, 128
  advance over the Lowari Pass, 134-40
  reaches Chitral Fort, 141

Churchill, the Right Hon. Winston Spencer, author of _The
      River War_, cited, 202, 209

Clarke, Gen. Sir Charles Mansfield, G.C.B., G.C.V.O.: Director
      of manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain, 1899, 218

Claverley: church of, ancient tombs therein, 4
  Manor of, mentioned in Domesday Book, 1

Clements, Maj.-Gen. R. A. P., C.B., D.S.O.: commanding brigade
      on Salisbury Plain, 1899, 218
  orders given to, _re_ Norval's Pont Bridge, 242

Colchester: headquarters of Eastern District; W. F. G. takes up
      command, Dec. 1898, 216
  departs for South Africa, Oct. 1899, 219
  resumes command, May 1900, 262
  hands over, Dec. 1903, 271

Colenso: battle of, Dec. 1899, compared with attempt on Stormberg, 236

Colville, Maj.-Gen. Sir Henry, K.C.B., 253

Connaught, H.R.H. the Duke of, K.G., G.C.B., etc.; at Aldershot, 1874,
34

Crosthwaite, Sir Charles, K.C.S.I.: Chief Commissioner,
      Burma, 1887-90, 87
  report on administration by, cited, 90


Dacoity: difficulties of suppression, 85

Decorations worn by W. F. G.:
  D.S.O., 1889
  C.B., 1895
  Jubilee, 1897
  K.C.B., 1898
  Order of the Medjidieh, 2nd class, 1898
  Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal, 1900
  Coronation Medal, 1902
  War Medals:
    Indian Frontier, 2 clasps.
    Chitral 1895, 1 clasp.
    British Soudan.
    South Africa, Queen's medal, 2 clasps.
    Egyptian Soudan, 2 clasps.

Delhi: Camp of Exercise at, 1884-5, 63-4

Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General, Aldershot, 1879-80.  See
      Staff Services.

Deputy Quartermaster-General, India, 1885-9.  See Staff Services

Derbyshire Regt.: with Third Division in South Africa, 1900, 237
  called up to headquarters, 245

Dewetsdorp: telegram regarding occupation of, March 1900, 246
  geographical position of, 247
  party of occupation strengthened, 248
  arrival of detachment, 251
  anxiety about safety of detachment, 255

Dimmock, Col. H. P., M.D., I.M.S.: recollections of, 1897, 167

Dufferin and Ava, First Marquess of, Viceroy of India, 1885, 63
  receives Freedom of the City of Edinburgh, 1898, 215


Eager, Lieut.-Col., R.I.R.; mortally wounded at Stormberg, 1899, 233

East London, C.C.: W. F. G. disembarks at, Nov. 1899, 222

Elles, Lieut.-Gen. Sir Edmond, G.C.I.E., K.C.B.: serves with Hazara
      Field Force, 1888, 76

Egypt: campaign of 1898.  See Chapters XII., XIII., 186-213

Eyton, R. W.: author of _Antiquities of Shropshire_, cited, 1-3


Forbes, William, Esq., of Callendar: maternal grandfather to W. F. G., 7
  William, son of above, M.P. for Stirlingshire, 7
  Jessie, sister to above: married Edward Lloyd Gatacre, Esq.;
      mother of W. F. G., 7

Forced march on Berber, Feb. 1898, 191-7

Forestier-Walker, Gen. Sir Frederick, G.C.M.G., K.C.B.: commanded
      Lines of Communication, South Africa, 1899, 222

Fort Sandeman: official visit to, 1896, 150
  murderous outrage at, 1896, 151

Franco-Prussian War: W. F. G. visits battlefields, 1870, 30

Free Lance, steeplechase pony, Rangoon, 1882-3, 50

French, Gen. Sir John, G.C.V.O., K.C.B., etc.: operations
      round Colesberg, C.C., 1899, 225
  operations round Thaba 'Nchu, O.F.S., 1900, 252

Fryer, Sir Frederick, K.C.S.I.; Financial Commissioner,
      Burma, 1888-92, 89


Galbraith, Maj.-Gen. Sir William, K.C.B.: commanding the River
      Column, Hazara Field Force, 1888, 74
  hands over Quetta District to W. F. G., while on leave for
      eight months, 1896, 148

Gambela, Abyssinia: visited by W. F. G., 1906, 280
  W. F. G. buried at, 1906, 281

Gatacre, feoffment held by royal grant, 2
  house at, curious specimen of domestic architecture, 5
  township of, 1

Gatacre, ancestors and others, as named in text, in chronological order:
  Sir William de, suit subject to Wager of Battle, 2
  Sir Robert de, sat on jury, Grand Assizes, 1200, 2
  Sir Thomas de, estate escheated unjustly, 1368, 3
  Alice, his wife, appeals to King in Chancery, 3
  John, Groom of the Body to Henry VI.: High Sheriff
      of Shropshire, 1409, 3
  John, son of above, M.P. for Bridgnorth, 12th year of Edward IV., 3
  William, died 1577, interesting monument in Claverley Church, 4
  Francis, died 1599, his son, similar tablet, 4
  Thomas, brother to above, died 1593, distinguished divine, 4
  Thomas, his son (1574-1654), member of Westminster Assembly, 4
  Colonel Edward (1768-1849), grandfather to W. F. G., 6
  Edward Lloyd, Esq., the Squire (1806-1891), father of W. F. G., 6
  he died, Nov. 1891, 107

Gatacre, Maj.-Gen. Sir John, K.C.B., late Indian Army: leaves home for
      India, 1867, 9
  serves in Burma, 1885-9, 81
  G.O.C. Nagpur District, 1891-6, 103

Gatacre, William Forbes: For career of, see Promotions, Staff Services,
      War Services, and Decorations

Ghazis: Marri outrage at Sunari Station, Beluchistan, 1896, 155
  W. F. G. conducts search-party, 156

Goorkhas, 2nd batt. 4th Goorkha Rifles, part of Third Brigade Chitral
      Relief Force, 1895, 129

Gordon, Gen. Charles, C.B.: fall of Khartoum, 1885, 187
  Memorial Service to, Sept. 1898, 212

Graham, Maj.-Gen. Sir Thomas, K.C.B.: _re_ Sikkim, 1888-9, 68

Grant, Major P. G., R.E.: removes explosives from Bethulie Bridge,
      1900, 241

Grant, Sir Francis, P.R.A., portrait by, 6

Greaves, Gen. Sir George, G.C.B., K.C.M.G.: C.-in-C. Bombay Army,
      1890-3, 96
  in railway accident, 1891, 105


Hamilton, Gen Sir Ian, K.C.B., D.S.O.: commanding a Brigade on
      Salisbury Plain, 1899, 218

Hardinge, Gen. the Hon. Sir Arthur, K.C.B.: C.-in-C. Bombay
      Army, 1881, 40
  visits W. F. G. in camp, 1884, 54

Harris, Lord, G.C.S.I., etc.; Governor of Bombay, 1890-5, 108

Hazara Field Force, 1888: W. F. G. as A.A. and Q.M.G., 70-81

Hazaribagh, Bengal: W. F. G. joins 77th Regt. at, 1862, 14

Hemis, monastery at.  See Kashmir

Herbertshire Castle, Stirlingshire: W. F. G. born at, Dec. 3, 1843, 7

Hudson, Gen. Sir John D., K.C.B.: his death while C.-in-C. Bombay
      Army, 107


Idlibi, Syrian trader and interpreter, with W. F. G. in Abyssinia,
      1905, 279
  gives evidence, 1906, 281
  returns to England, June 1906, 282

_Iolanthe_: performed by officers, 77th Regt., 1883, 51


Kamptee, headquarters of Nagpur District: railway accident
      near, 1891, 103

Kashmir: W. F. G. takes trip to, 1867, 17
  crosses the Zoji-La to Leh, 19
  visits Hemis, 20
  sees Burra Lama, 22
  visits Skardo, 25

Kelly, Col. J. G., C.B.: advances from Gilgit, 1895, 129
  raises the siege of Chitral, 1895, 134
  on parade at Chitral, 141

Kent, Gen. Henry, C.B., late 77th Regt.: at Allahabad, 1862, 14
  at Aldershot, 1874, 34

Keyes, Gen. Sir Charles, K.C.B.: commanding First Division,
      Bangalore Camp of Exercise, 1884, 53

Khaim Gali: headquarter camp on Black Mountain, 1888: W. F. G. marched
      from Khaim Gali to Indus and back, 75-8

Kitchener, Gen. Viscount, G.C.B., etc.: Sirdar of Egyptian
      Army, 1898, 187
  orders advance of British Brigade, 192
  sends trophies to W. F. G., 206
  receives Freedom of City of Edinburgh, 1898, 215
  appointed C.S.O. to F.-M. Lord Roberts, 1899, 239

Kunhar: headquarters of River Column, Hazara Field Force, 1888, 75


Ladak, Leh.  See Kashmir.

Lahore: Durbar at, 1894, 120

Leach, Col. H. P., C.B., D.S.O.: Mil. Sec. to C.-in-C., Bombay;
      in railway accident, 1891, 106
  with Sir John Hudson, 1893, 107

Leeuwberg Kopje, O.F.S.: batt. of infantry called up to, 1900, 250

Leir-Carleton, Maj.-Gen. R. L.: Master of Staff College Draghounds,
      1873-4, 35

Lincolnshire Regt., 1st Batt.: in Egypt, 1898, 193

Lorelai, Beluchistan: official visit to, 150
  display by 15th Bengal Lancers, 1896, 151
  assassination of Col. Gaisford, 152

Low, Gen. Sir Robert, G.C.B.: commanding Chitral Relief Force, 1895, 128
  dispatches quoted, 131-2
  parade at Chitral, 141

Lowari Pass: description of, 135

Lyttelton, Gen. Sir Neville, G.C.B., in Egypt, 1898, 208


Magersfontein, battle of: compared with attack on Stormberg, 1899, 236

Mahmoud, Dervish Emir: advance of, 1898, 197
  defeat and capture of, 202

Malakand Pass: action during advance on Chitral, 1895, 128

Mamugai: action during advance on Chitral, 1896, 131

Mandalay: visited by W. F. G. in 1882, 46
  W. F. G. officiates in command of brigade, 1889-90, 86-97

Manser, Surgeon-Major Robert: died of plague, 1897, 163

Marris: outrage at Sunari Station, 1896, 155

Maymyo, Upper Burma: W. F. G. makes flying visit to, 1890, 89-90

McQueen, Lieut.-Gen. Sir John, G.C.B.: commanding Hazara Field Force,
      1888, 74

Memour Mehined Riad Effendi: Egyptian officer at Gambela, 1906, 280
  holds court of inquiry there, 281

Methuen, Gen. Lord, G.C.B., etc.: marches to the relief of
      Kimberley, 221

Middlesex Regt.  See Seventy-seventh.

Military Secretary: W.F.G. as.  See Staff Services


Nairne, Gen. Sir Charles, G.C.B.: C.-in-C. Bombay Army, 1893-7, 109
  telegram of congratulation from, 1896, 148

Napier, Gen. Sir Robert, G.C.B., etc.: Mil. Member of Council, 1862:
      story of French Eagle, 14

Northumberland Fusiliers: at Stormberg, 1899, 232
  M.I. Company sent to Dewetsdorp, 1900, 248

Norval's Pont Bridge: telegram regarding tenure of, 1900, 242

Norwich: Royal visit to, 1900, 265


_Official History of the War in South Africa_, 1899-1902:
      quoted as under:
  account of attack on Stormberg, Dec. 1899, 231-3
  justification for ditto, 236
  _re_ deliberation of Gatacre's movements, 242
  telegram ordering occupation of Smithfield, 244
  telegram regarding occupation of Dewetsdorp, 246
  marginal note _re_ above cited, 247
  telegram _re_ movements of units of the Third Division, 248
  arrival of detachment at Dewetsdorp, 251
  results of action at Sannah's Post, March 31, 1900, 253
  cautionary telegram to W. F. G., 256
  situation subsequent to Sannah's Post, 259

Omdurman: capture of, Sept. 2, 1898, 209
  letter describing same, 209-12


Panjkora River: rescue of Private Hall, 1895, 131

Pembroke Dock: W. F. G. with Depot Batt. there, 1868, 29

Pig-sticking: while Mil. Sec., 1881, 41-2
  near Cutch-Bhuj, 1896, 146-8

Pilcher, Maj.-Gen. T. D., C.B.: operations round Ladybrand, 1900, 252

Plague, bubonic, at Bombay, 1897: See Chapter XI., 161-83
  total mortality from, 161
  cause of Surgeon-Major Manser's death, 163
  subject of two anonymous articles by W. F. G., 164
  appointment of Plague Committee, 166
  policy instituted by above, 168
  incidents of house-to-house visitation, 171-5
  opposition of Sunni Mahommedans, 177
  President of Poona Committee shot, 181

Pole-Carew, Lt.-Gen. Sir Reginald, K.C.B., C.V.O.: movements and
      recommendations of, March 1900, 242

Poona: W. F. G. as Adjutant-General there, 1890-4.  See
      Chapter VII., 98-109
  outrage after Queen's birthday dinner, 1897, 181-3

Prendergast, Gen. Sir H. N. D., V.C., G.C.B.: commanding Burmese
      Division, 1882, 43
  commanding Second Division Bangalore Camp of Exercise, 1884, 53
  asks for W. F. G. as Special Service Officer, 1885, 61
  account of his expedition to Mandalay, 1885, 82-4

Promotions: William Forbes Gatacre:
  gazetted Ensign 77th Foot, Feb. 18, 1862
  Lieutenant 77th Foot, Dec. 23, 1864
  Captain 77th Foot, Dec. 7, 1870
  Major Middlesex Regt., March 23, 1881
  Lieut.-Col. Middlesex Regt., April 23, 1884
  Colonel, April 29, 1886
  Colonel substantive, Nov. 25, 1890
  Major-General, June 25, 1898
  retired March, 1904

Punjab Infantry, 25th Regt.: part of Third Brigade Chitral
      Relief Force, 1895, 129

Putter's Kraal, C.C.: W. F. G. advances to, Nov. 1899, 225


Quetta: visits while on tour as D.Q.M.G., 1887, 66
  W. F. G. officiates in command of District, 1896, 145-60


Rangoon: history of occupation of, 43-4
  W. F. G. quartered there as A.Q.M.G., 1882, 43

Reddersburg, O.F.S.: surrender near, April 1900, 257

Remount Department: W. F. G. temporarily works for, 1903-4, 273-6

_River War, The_: by the Right Hon. W. S. Churchill, quoted as under:
  _re_ efficiency of British Brigade Egypt, 1898, 190
  _re_ assault of zariba by above, 202
  _re_ position of G. O. C., cited, 202

Roberts, Field-Marshal Earl, V.C., K.P., G.C.B., etc.;
  visits W. F. G. in camp at Bangalore, 54
  becomes C.-in-C. India, 1885, 63
  his covering letter to Dispatches (pubd. March 1900), cited, 235
  reaches Capetown as C.-in-C. South African Field Force, 239
  telegram to W.O. _re_ Proclamation, 243
  orders occupation of Smithfield, 244
  orders occupation of Wepener, 245
  telegram _re_ occupation of Dewetsdorp, 246
  summons W. F. G. to Bloemfontein, and forecasts his plans for
      the advance, 254
  expresses anxiety about the detachment at Dewetsdorp, 255
  sends 5 cos. Cameron Highlanders to Bethanie, 255
  orders the return of the Relief Column from Reddersburg, 257
  sends official letter instructing W. F. G. to proceed to
      England, April 1900, 259
  quotation from private letter _re_ recall, 263
  his official visit to the Eastern District, 1903, 270

Robertson, Sir George Scott, K.C.S.I., M.P.: defended the Fort at
      Chitral, 129

Royal Irish Rifles, 2nd Batt.: reaches Queenstown, C.C., 222
  quotation from officers' reports _re_ Stormberg, 233, 235
  sent to Smithfield, O.F.S., 245
  2 cos. pushed on to Dewetsdorp, 248
  the O.C. directed to retire on Reddersburg, 251
  column surrenders at Mostert's Hoek, 257
  splendid marching by detachments from Smithfield, Helvetia, and
      Rouxville, 258

Royal Military College, Sandhurst: W. F. G. there as cadet, 1860-1, 12
  W. F. G. there as professor, 1875-9, 36-7

"Run amok": W. F. G. attempts to disarm man with pistol at Simla,
      1887, 69
  letter _re_ above, 213

Rundle, Lieut.-Gen. Sir Leslie, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.: commanding a Division
      on Salisbury Plain, 1899, 218


Salisbury: W. F. G. works there on remount duty, 1904, 275
  bicycles to and fro, 275

Salisbury Plain: W. F. G. commands a Division, 1899, 217-18
  Chief Umpire, Blue Army, 1903, 271

Salt Lakes, Bupshu.  See Kashmir

Sandhurst.  See Royal Military College

Sandhurst, Lord, G.C.I.E. etc.: Governor of Bombay, 1895-9, 164, 166,
180

Sannah's Post, O.F.S.; engagement at, 1900, 251
  material results of engagement at, 253
  change brought about by engagement at, 259

Seaforth Highlanders: 1st Batt. in Egypt, 1898, 188
  2nd Batt. in Chitral, 1895, 129

Seton, Col. H. J.: wounded at Stormberg, 1899, 233

Seventy-seventh Regt., afterwards 2nd Batt. (D.C.O.) Middlesex Regt.:
  raised 1787, 13
  services and movements of, 14
  at Hazaribagh, Allahabad, Barreilly, and Peshawur, 14-17
  reaches Portsmouth, 1870, 29
  leaves Dover for Rangoon, 1880, 38
  moves to Secunderabad, 1883, 51
  W. F. G. in command, June 1884 to Dec. 1885, 55-61

Shaw, F. B., Esq.: Resident at Mandalay, 1879, 46

Sikkim: W. F. G. sketches Fort at Lingtu, 1887, 68

Simla: W. F. G. and the servant "run amok, " 1887, 69
  rapid ride to Umballa and back, 1887, 70

Sirdar, the: See Kitchener

Sniping: during advance on Chitral, 1895, 143-4

Snow, Brig.-Gen. T. D'O., C.B.: Brigade-Major, Egypt, 1898, 186

South African War Commission, Report of, quoted, 247
  and again, 270

Springfontein, O.F.S.: occupied by Third Division troops, 241
  troops at, April 3, 1900, 40
    scouts and 25 M.I., 255

Staff College, Camberley: W. F. G. admitted, 1873, 33
  Drag-hounds, W. F. G. as First Whip, 34

Staff Services, W. F. G.: Instructor in Surveying, B.M.C., 1875-9, 36
  D.A.A. and Q.M.G. Aldershot, 1879-80, 37
  A.A.G. (officiating) Secunderabad, 1880-1, 39
  Mil. Sec. (officiating) to C.-in-C. Bombay, 1881-82, 40
  A.Q.M.G. (officiating) Rangoon, 1882, 43
  D.Q.M.G., Bengal, 1885-90, 61-97
  G.O.C. (officiating), Mandalay, 81-96
  A.-G. Bombay, 1890-4, 98-109
  G.O.C. Bombay, 1894-97, 110-82
  G.O.C. (officiating), Quetta, 1896, 148-60
  G.O.C. Third Infantry Brigade, Aldershot, 1897-98, 184-6
  G.O.C. Eastern District, 1898-1903, 216-71

Stormberg, C.C.: Sir R. Buller suggests advance to, 223
  occupied by Boers, Nov. 1899, 224
  W. F. G. makes arrangements for the attack, 229
  description of the advance and assault, Dec. 10, 1899, 231-5
  casualties, 235
  compared with Magersfontein and Colenso, 236

Sunari Station, Beluchistan: outrage at, 1896, 155

Supya-lat, wife to King Theebaw, 45
  deported, 1885, 84

Swann, Brig.-Gen. J. C., C.B.: A.A.G. to W. F. G. while commanding
      Bombay district; letter _re_ procedure quoted, 115
  recollections of, 119


Thaba 'Nchu, O.F.S.: Sir John French's operations near, 247
  movements of troops preceding Sannah's Post, 251

Theebaw, King of Burma: succeeds Mindon-Min, 1879, 44
  as owner of "Free Lance" (?), 50
  surrender of Mandalay, 1885, 83

"_Times_" _History of the War_, quoted, as under:
  _re_ Col. Pole-Carew's movements, 1900, 243
  _re_ telegram about spreading proclamations, 244
  _re_ Col. Broadwood's position at Thaba 'Nchu, 252

Transport officer, the: at Mandalay, 88-89

Transport Service, the: P. and O. vessels, 122-5

Toba Plateau, Beluchistan: Camp of Exercise at, 1896, 153

Ton-Hon Expedition, 1889-90, 90-92

Tournament at Bombay, 1894, 122-5


Umballa: rapid ride from Simla, and back, 1887, 70


War Services, W. F. G.: Hazara Field Force, 1888, as A.A. and
      Q.M.G., 70-81
  Ton-Hon Expedition, 1889-90 as Brig.-Gen., 90-92
  Chitral Relief Force, 1895, G.O.C. Third Brigade, 128-44
  Egypt, advance on Khartoum, 1898, G.O.C. commanding British
      Brigade and (subsequently) Division, 186-213!
  South African Field Force 1899-1900, G.O.C. Third Division, 219-60

Warwickshire Regt. (Royal): 1st Batt. in Egypt, 1898

Wauchope, Maj.-Gen. Andrew. C.B., C.M.G.; commanding First Brigade,
      Egypt, 1898, 208
  his brigade sent forward, 211

Wepener, O.F.S.: telegram ordering occupation of, March 1900, 245
  W. F. G.'s anxiety as to safety of detachment, 246
  besieged by Boers, 258

de Wet, Christian, Boer General; lays his plans for capture of
      Waterworks guard, March 1900, 252
  value of his victory at Sannah's Post, 253

White, F.-M. Sir George, V.C., G.C.B., etc.: in Burma, 1885, 85
  entertains W. F. G. at Lahore, 1894, 120
  appoints W. F. G. to command Third Brigade, Chitral Relief Force,
      1894, 128
  letter from, _re_ Marri Raid, 1896, 159
  starts for Natal, Sept. 1899, 219
  at Ladysmith, 221
  relief of Ladysmith, 240

Wolseley, Gen. Sir George, G.C.B.: commanding Mandalay Brigade, 86
  returns to his command, 96



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before, we should undoubtedly choose the private letters of an officer
to his friends....  We advise the general reader to try William Warre's
letters.  They will find revealed in them a stout and loyal heart, and
a careful and intelligent mind which had a singular ability for
discerning the drift and significance of things."--Spectator.


A WEEK AT WATERLOO IN 1815.  Lady De Lancey's Narrative.  Being an
account of how she nursed her husband, Colonel Sir William H. De
Lancey, mortally wounded in the great battle.  With Photogravure
Portraits and other Illustrations.  Square crown 8vo.  6s. net.

"A vastly interesting human document....  We need not trouble to praise
where Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens have so fervently
belauded."--Daily Telegraph.

"Pages of writing of terrible beauty, subtlety, delicacy, and power
describe her nursing of him and his death.  It is not a jagged series
of poignant notes....  There is no heroine in English history or
literature more worshipful than Lady De Lancey."--World.


THE BOOK OF WAR.  Translated into English by Captain E. F. Calthrop,
R.A.  Crown 8vo.  2s. 6d. net.

This work, the writings of Suntzu and Wutzu, Chinese Strategists of
about the 5th century B.C., is the most famous work on the art of war
in the Far East.  It deals with operations of war, statecraft, moral
and training of troops, stratagem, the use of spies, etc., and for 25
centuries it has been the Bible of the Chinese or Japanese ruler.  The
book is distinguished alike by the poetry and grandeur of its language
and the modernity of its spirit.


THE LETTERS OF QUEEN VICTORIA.  A Selection from Her Majesty's
Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861.  Published by Authority
of His Majesty the King.  Edited by Arthur Christopher Benson, MLA.,
C.V.O., and Viscount Esher, G.C.V.O., K.C.B.  With numerous
Photogravures.  Medium 8vo.  Three Vols.  £3 3s. net.  Also Crown 8vo.
Three Vols.  6s. net.


FOURTEEN YEARS IN PARLIAMENT, 1892 TO 1906.  By A. S. T.
Griffith-Boscawen, formerly M.P. for the Tonbridge Division of Kent.
Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.


LIFE OF THE MARQUIS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA.  By Sir Alfred Lyall, P.C.
Third Impression.  With Portraits, etc.  Demy 8vo.  Two Vols.  36s. net.


THE DUKE OF ARGYLL, 1823-1900.  Comprising his Autobiography down to
1857, and his Life from that Date onwards, based on his Correspondence
and Diaries.  Edited by the Dowager Duchess of Argyll.  With Portraits
and other Illustrations.  Two Vols.  Medium 8vo.  36s. net.


LIFE OF SIR ROBERT PEEL.  Based on his Correspondence and Private
Documents.  Edited by Charles Stuart Parker.  With a Summary of Peel's
Life by his Grandson, the Hon. George Peel.  With Portraits.  Three
Vols.  Demy 8vo.

VOL. I.  FROM HIS BIRTH TO 1827.  16s.  VOLS. II. AND III.  FROM 1827
TO HIS DEATH IN 1852.  32s.


THE CREEVEY PAPERS.  A Selection from the Diaries and Correspondence of
Thomas Creevey (1768-1838) from Family Papers hitherto unpublished.
Edited by the Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell, Bart., M.P.  With
Portraits.  One Vol.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.


SIDNEY HERBERT (LORD HERBERT OF LEA).  A Memoir.  By Lord Stanmore.
With Portraits and other Illustrations.  Two Vols.  Demy 8vo.  24s.
net.  No Life of Sidney Herbert has hitherto been published.


THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF GEORG JOACHIM GOSCHEN, 1752-1829.  By Viscount
Goschen.  With Portraits and Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  36s. net.


NELSON AND OTHER NAVAL STUDIES.  By James R. Thursfield.  With
Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  12s.  net.

"Few other writers except Mahan possess Mr. Thursfield's faculty of
combining the romance of the sea with the science of naval warfare, and
in both alike the cult of Nelson gives life and warmth to their
studies....  The merit of Mr. Thursfield's writing is the firm hold
which he has of the central principles of a maritime defensive policy.
His writing is effective, and at times even brilliant; but this it is
which gives it force and lucidity."--Westminster Gazette.


A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CHIEF CAMPAIGNS IN EUROPE SINCE 1792.  By
General A. von Horsetzky, G.O.C. the 1st Austro-Hungarian Army Corps
and the Troops in Cracow.  Translated by Lieutenant K. B. Ferguson,
R.G.A.  With numerous Maps and Plans.  Demy Svo.  18s. net.

"We have nothing but praise for Gen. von Horsetzky's book.  It is a
valuable addition to military literature, for we do not know where
else, in such form, records of so many campaigns can be studied.  The
work of translation and condensation has been admirably done.  The
merit of the book is its extreme clearness and known accuracy ... those
who desire to gain a correct idea of modern military history will find
the book invaluable."--Army and Navy Gazette.


RASPLATA (The Reckoning).  By Commander Wladimir Semenoff.  His Diary
during the Blockade of Port Arthur and the Voyage of the Fleets under
Admiral Rojdestvensky.  With Maps.  Demy Svo.  10s. 6d. net.

"Commander Semenoff writes only of what he knows and has seen.  His
simple candour and cool intrepidity enable him to record his
experiences at the moment in the most appalling scenes of naval
conflict that modern times have known."--Times.

"An authentic record of the highest value, which is likely to become a
classic among naval annals."--Westminster Gazette.


THE RUSSIAN ARMY AND THE JAPANESE WAR.  Being Historical and Critical
Comments on the Military Policy and Power of Russia and on the Campaign
in the Far East.  By General Kuropatkin.  Translated by Captain A. B.
Lindsay.  Edited by Major E. D. Swinton, D.S.O., R.E.  With Maps and
Illustrations.  2 Vols.  Demy 8vo.  28s. net.

"... We doubt if a more virile or sincere document was ever put before
the public, and it says little for the official wisdom of General
Kuropatkin's fellow-countrymen that such a record should have been
suppressed in the land of its origin.  In England, at any rate, the
patent honesty and abundant good feeling of these measured criticisms
will be valued at their proper worth."--Daily Telegraph.


THE TRUTH ABOUT PORT ARTHUR.  By Monsieur E. K. Nojine, accredited
Russian War Correspondent during the Siege.  Translated and Abridged by
Captain A. B. Lindsay.  Edited by Major E. D. Swinton, D.S.O.  With Map
and Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  15s. net.

"M. Nojine is unusually well qualified to offer testimony on the long
beleaguerment.  He writes with vivacity and force, and the translation
is competent and spirited, both on account of its vivid narrative and
by reason of the extraordinary revelations it contains....  It is the
most remarkable book about the war yet issued."--Times.


OFFICIAL ACCOUNT OF THE SECOND AFGHAN WAR, 1878-1880.  Produced in the
Intelligence Branch, Army Headquarters, India.  Abridged Official
Account.  With numerous Maps and Illustrations.  Medium 8vo.  21s. net.

"An excellent compendium of the whole war, clearly written and amply
illustrated by photographs, maps, and diagrams....  It is a narrative
that will fascinate the many who love to read about war-like
movements....  It is a story of wise and patient preparation, carefully
arranged generalship, supreme daring, amazing tenacity.  Undoubtedly
the right thing has been done in giving to the world a stiring story,
which has remained too long, many will think, a secret record."--The
Sheffield Independent.


CAVALRY IN FUTURE WARS.  By His Excellency Lt.-General Frederick von
Bernhardi, Commander of the 7th Division of the German Army.
Translated by Charles Sydney Goldman, Editor of "The Empire and the
Century." With an Introduction by General Sir John French, K.C.M.G.,
K.C.B., G.C.V.O.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

"Here at last, in the English language, we have a really important work
on the German cavalry at first hand."--Broad Arrow.

"General Von Bernhardi most certainly knows what he is talking about,
and is equally at home when discussing matters of the highest import or
others of comparatively trifling details; he displays a sound knowledge
and judgment concerning all things of organization, strategy, tactics,
and training; and moreover, he thoroughly understands horses, so that
he is enabled to offer very valuable service on every subject connected
with them, from training of the remount to the economical use of
horseflesh in war."--Westminster Gazette.


THE GERMAN OFFICIAL ACCOUNT OF THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA.  Prepared in
the Historical Section of the Great General Staff, Berlin.  Translated
by Colonel W. H. H. Waters, R.A., C.V.O., and Colonel Hubert Du Cane,
R.A., M.V.O.  2 Vols.  With Maps and Plans.  Demy 8vo.  15s. net each.

"The most valuable work in which, since its close, the war has been
discussed.  It stands alone, because it is the only work in which the
war has been surveyed by trained and competent students of war, the
only one of which the judgments are based on a familiarity with the
modern theory of war.  The best book that has yet appeared on the South
African War."--The Morning Post.


FROM LIBAU TO TSU-SHIMA.  A Narrative of the Voyage of Admiral
Rojdestvensky's Squadron to the East, including a detailed Account of
the Dogger Bank Incident.  By the late Eugene Politovsky, Chief
Engineer of the Squadron.  Translated by Major F. R. Godfrey, R.M.L.I.
Crown 8vo.  6s.

"A painful book, but a deeply interesting and a really valuable one,
which will have a place of permanent value among the documents of the
Russo-Japanese war."--Daily Telegraph.


BEFORE PORT ARTHUR IN A DESTROYER.  The Personal Diary of a Japanese
Naval Officer.  Translated from the Spanish Edition by Captain R.
Grant, D.S.O., Rifle Brigade.  With Maps and Illustrations.  Cheap
Edition.  Square 8vo.  3s. 6d. net.

"It is pre-eminently a book to be read for enjoyment as well as
instruction; but it will fall short of its more immediate value if
measures are not devised for bringing it before the attention of those
responsible for the education of 'youngsters' in training for a sea
life."--Pall Mall Gazette.


THE BATTLE OF TSU-SHIMA.  Between the Japanese and Russian Fleets,
fought on the 27th May, 1905.  By Captain Vladimir Semenoff (one of the
survivors).  Translated by Captain A. B. Lindsay.  With a Preface by
Sir George Sydenham Clarke.  Crown 8vo.  3s. 6d. net.

"It is one of the most thrilling and touching records of naval warfare
that we have ever read."--The Westminster Gazette.


FORTIFICATION: Its Past Achievements, Recent Developments, Future
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Edition Enlarged.  With numerous Illustrations.  Medium 8vo.  18s. net.


ARTILLERY AND EXPLOSIVES.  Essays and Lectures written and delivered at
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numerous diagrams and Illustrations.  Medium 8vo.  21s. net.

"No one can speak on the subject of modern artillery and explosives
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THE ARMY IN 1906.  A Policy and a Vindication.  By the Rt. Hon. H. O.
Arnold-Forster, M.P.  Demy 8vo.  15s. net.

"Mr. Arnold-Forster's remarkable work will be read with the deepest
attention and respect by all who have the interest of the Army at
heart; and though many may differ from him, now as formerly, in
reference to matters of detail, few will be found to deny that the
principles he enunciates are in themselves absolutely sound....
However much any may disagree with Mr. Arnold-Forster's proposals, few
will deny that he has given very strong reasons in support of them
all."--Westminster Gazette.


IMPERIAL OUTPOSTS.  From a Strategical and Commercial Aspect.  With
Special Reference to the Japanese Alliance.  By Colonel A. M. Murray.
With a Preface by Field-Marshal The Earl Roberts, V.C., K.G.  With Maps
and Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  12s. net.

"We should like to see every officer in the British Army with the wide
vision and interest in the strategical and commercial organization of
the Empire which Colonel Murray displays."--Spectator.

"Colonel Murray deals with subjects of the highest interest.  If we
note those opinions from which we differ, it must be with the
preliminary remarks that there is still more in the book with which we
thoroughly agree, and that the whole of it is suggestive and worthy of
the most careful consideration."--Athenaum.


THE ART OF RECONNAISSANCE.  By Colonel David Henderson, D.S.O.  With
Diagrams.  Small crown 8vo.  5s. net.

PRINCIPLES AND METHODS--PROTECTION AND SECURITY--CONTACT--INDEPENDENT
RECONNAISSANCE--THE SCOUT--THE PATROL--RECONNAISSANCE OF
GROUND--TRANSMISSION OF INFORMATION.

This work is a guide to the study of reconnaissance in the field under
modern conditions of war, and deals with the practical details as well
as with the theoretical principles of the subject.  It has been printed
in clear type on special paper and so bound that it can be conveniently
carried in the pocket by military students.


IMPERIAL STRATEGY.  By the Military Correspondent of "The Times."  With
Maps.  Medium 8vo.  21s. net.

"The book is a most valuable and timely aid to the cause of national
security, and should be read by all those who are in a position to
influence the destinies of the Empire."--Morning Post.


A NATION IN ARMS.  Speeches on the Maintenance of the British Army.
Delivered by Field-Marshal The Earl Roberts, V.C., K.G.  Crown 8vo.
Cloth, 2s. 6d. net; paper, 1s. net.

The Spectator says:--"It is with no small satisfaction that we note the
republication, under the title of 'A Nation in Arms,' of the speeches
on the question of National Service delivered by Lord Roberts....  It
is not the creation of a military caste for which he pleads, but the
building up of the highest type of citizen--the citizen who is able to
protect his native land and his rights and liberties himself and
without external aid, and who believes that national safety is not to
be hired, but to be achieved by self-sacrifice....  It is hardly
necessary to say that Lord Roberts and those who agree with him ask for
national training such as is willingly and cheerfully undergone by the
citizens of Switzerland, not for that which is imposed on the German
population.  We have one more word to say--that is, to ask our readers
to study carefully Lord Roberts' book.  We would specially ask this of
those who dread, and, as we hold, are right in dreading, militarism,
and who look forward to universal peace as the ultimate goal for
mankind.  They will find that Lord Roberts has not a word to say in
praise of war....  What he does desire is that as long as war
continues--and no sane man can, unfortunately, doubt its continuance in
our generation--the British people shall, when it comes, be prepared to
meet it."


THE RISE AND EXPANSION OF THE BRITISH DOMINION IN INDIA.  By Sir Alfred
Lyall.  Fourth Edition, with a new Chapter bringing the History down to
1907.  With Maps.  Demy 8vo.  5s. net.


OVER-SEA BRITAIN.  A Descriptive Record of the Geography, the
Historical, Ethnological, and Political Development, and the Economic
Resources of the Empire.

THE NEARER EMPIRE.--The Mediterranean, British Africa, and British
America.  By E. F. Knight.  Author of "Where Three Empires Meet,"
"Small Boat Sailing," etc.  With 9 Coloured Maps.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

Mr. E. F. Knight, the well-known traveller and war correspondent, in
this volume gives a description of what he calls the Nearer
Empire--_i.e._, the British possessions in the Mediterranean, Africa,
and America.  The book is no mere collection of geographical facts.  It
seeks to show what the Empire is, how it came to be, and what is the
history of its growth.  It deals also with the political development
and the economic resources of the Colonies.  The descriptive parts have
an additional charm through being to a large extent a record of
personal observation.  To quote from the Preface:--"The author has
travelled in most of the countries over which the British flag flies.
He has witnessed, and on some occasions taken part in the making of
several portions of that Empire in times both of peace and war, and has
therefore been able to draw on his own personal experiences and
observations when writing this short account of Britain beyond the
seas."





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