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Title: Blue Shirt and Khaki a Comparison
Author: Archibald, James F. J.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Blue Shirt and Khaki a Comparison" ***


[Illustration: Blue Shirt and Khaki at Malta.]





  _BOSTON_, _CHICAGO_. 1901

  Copyright, 1901, by
  Silver, Burdett & Company

  Press of I. J. Little & Co.
  Astor Place, New York

  To the Memory of My Father,
  F. A. Archibald, D.D., LL.D.


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
     I. The New Soldier and His Equipment                             17

    II. British and American Recruits                                 38

   III. The Common Soldier in the Field                               60

    IV. The Officers                                                  90

     V. American and British Tactics                                 121

    VI. Feeding the Two Armies                                       147

   VII. The Railroad in Modern War                                   171

  VIII. Transportation of Troops by Sea                              194

    IX. The Last Days of the Boer Capital                            217

     X. The British in Pretoria                                      247

List of Illustrations

  A Guard at Pretoria                                                 17

  Captain Arthur Lee, R.A., _attaché_ with General Shafter in
    Cuba                                                              19

  Captain Slocum, U.S.A., _attaché_ with Lord Roberts in South
    Africa                                                            19

  British soldiers visiting the U.S. troop-ship _Sumner_, _en
  route_ to the Philippines                                           23

  British officers at Malta, watching the setting-up exercises
    of American soldiers                                              27

  A company of the Eighth U. S. Infantry in the field,
  Lieutenant M. B. Stuart                                             33

  A review of the Life Guards in London                               33

  Horse Guard on duty at headquarters, London                         38

  Possible candidates                                                 41

  Persuasion by sergeant-major                                        41

  British recruits at fencing practice                                45

  British recruits at bayonet practice                                45

  A musician of the Gordon Highlanders, age, seventeen                51

  A Boer fighting “man,” age, twelve. Twice distinguished for
    bravery in action. He fought at Spion Kop, Colenso, Dundee,
    and Ladysmith                                                     51

  Colonel Napier’s frame for recruit-drill at Aldershot               55

  One of the exercises in British recruit-drill                       55

  Setting-up exercises of American soldiers during their visit
    in Malta                                                          58

  Recruit drill in the British army                                   58

  American cow-boy with Canadians in South Africa                     60

  Dangebhoy hospital cart used in South Africa                        63

  The Twelfth Lancers in South Africa                                 67

  General French examining the enemy’s position during the
    battle of Diamond Hill                                            67

  Heliographing from Diamond Hill to Lord Roberts in Pretoria         71

  Burial at Arlington of 426 American soldiers who fell in Cuba       77

  Gathering the dead after the battle of Diamond Hill                 79

  American volunteer officer                                          90

  A cadet drill at the West Point Military Academy                    93

  Generals Chaffee, Brooke, and Lee reviewing the army in Cuba        93

  Major Eastwood, Twelfth Lancers                                     94

  Colonel Beech, Egyptian Cavalry                                     94

  Sir John Milbanke, V.C.                                             94

  Colonel Chamberlain, Military Secretary                             94

  A Canadian officer                                                  94

  British Colonel of Volunteers                                       96

  Colonel Peabody, U. S. Volunteers                                   96

  Staats Model Schoolhouse, Pretoria, where the British officers
    were first confined as prisoners of war                          101

  Barbed-wire prison, Pretoria, where the British officers were
    confined after their removal from the city                       101

  Released British officers in Pretoria after the entry of Lord
    Roberts                                                          105

  Native East Indian servants of British officers in South
   Africa                                                            105

  Lieutenant-General N. A. Miles, U. S. A.                           109

  General French and staff, South Africa                             113

  American officers of the Eighth Infantry _en route_ to the
    Philippines                                                      113

  General Ian Hamilton in South Africa                               115

  Brigadier-General Fitzhugh Lee, United States Army                 118

  Major-General J. R. Brooke, United States Army                     118

  American officer at Siboney                                        121

  Boer fighting men watching a British flanking movement
    during the battle of Pretoria, while building defenses           128

  British soldiers pulling army wagons across a drift                131

  Boer artillerists waiting under shell fire for the British
    advance                                                          133

  The battle of Pretoria, June 4, 1900; Boer guns in action;
  British advance along the first range of hills                     137

  The unpicturesqueness of modern war. In the range of this
  photograph of the battle of Diamond Hill the hardest fighting
  is going on. Twenty cannon and 3,000 rifles are firing, and
  two regiments are charging; but no more can be seen than is
  shown above                                                        145

  A difficult kopje; two hundred men are hiding behind the
    rocks                                                            145

  U. S. Officer providing for feeding the poor                       147

  Camp of a transport train in General French’s supply column        151

  A base of supplies at de Aar Junction                              155

  An improvised commissariat cart in South Africa                    162

  A soldier with three months’ provisions                            169

  Major Burnham, the American Chief of Scouts for Lord Roberts       171

  The old and the new military bridge at Modder River                174

  Defense of a line of communication in the Transvaal                176

  Canadian transport at a difficult drift                            181

  Cape carts with British officers’ personal luggage; nearly
    every officer had one of these carts                             182

  A British transport train on the veldt                             183

  Canadian transport at a difficult drift                            187

  The Guards and mounted infantry at Pretoria Station                191

  Armament on an American transport                                  194

  British soldiers leaving the _Sumner_ after having exchanged
    uniforms with Americans                                          199

  American transport _Sumner_ in the harbor at Malta                 205

  A British transport taken from the merchant marine                 205

  The Eighth United States Infantry going ashore for drill
    at Malta                                                         211

  Colonel Jocelyn and Captain Croxton, Eighth U. S. Infantry,
    at Malta                                                         211

  Mr. R. H. Davis in Pretoria                                        217

  Consul Hay and Vice-Consul Coolidge bidding good-by to
    Captain Slocum at Pretoria                                       222

  A. D. T. Messenger James Smith in front of President Krüger’s
    house, immediately after presenting the message from the
    American children                                                226

  The battle of Pretoria: Boers awaiting the British advance
    under artillery fire                                             229

  The battle of Pretoria: British naval guns shelling forts          229

  General De la Rey and staff at Pretoria; his nephew, twelve
    years old, is serving on the staff                               232

  Field cornets in Pretoria receiving orders from a general          233

  Boer women bidding good-by to their men off for the front          235

  Russian hospital corps with the Boers: the wounded man is
    Colonel Blake, formerly U. S. A.                                 235

  Boers under heavy shell fire, awaiting British advance
    behind their defenses                                            243

  Burghers’ horses during the battle of Pretoria                     243

  The Boer retreat from Pretoria                                     246

  One of the Guards at Pretoria                                      247

  General De la Rey and a group of his burghers while awaiting
    a British attack                                                 249

  Lord Roberts’s advance bodyguard approaching Pretoria              251

  British guns captured by the Boers                                 251

  Lord Roberts and staff approaching Pretoria (Lord Kitchener
    is on the white horse, Lord Roberts is the first leading
    figure at the right)                                             253

  Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener with staff entering Pretoria
    at the railway station, June 5, 1900. The two locomotives on
    the right, with Boer engineers, were started immediately
    afterwards in an attempt to escape to the Boer lines             255

  Gordon Highlanders entering Pretoria, June 5, 1900                 259

  Types of the crowd who watched the British entry                   259

  Lord Kitchener bidding good-by to the foreign _attachés_
    after the capture of Pretoria                                    265



The New Soldier and his Equipment

[Illustration: A Guard at Pretoria.]

When the Second Division under General Lawton swarmed up the fire-swept
hill of El Caney, through an unremitting storm of bullets, Colonel
Arthur Lee, of the British Royal Artillery, exclaimed, “I would not
have believed it!”

Two years later, when Lord Roberts’s army of ragged khaki poured into
Pretoria after their two thousand miles’ march from the Cape, Captain
Slocum, of the United States Infantry, said, “Tommy Atkins is certainly
a wonder.”

There is obvious reason for a detailed comparison between the fighting
men of the United States and Great Britain. They have more in common
than either army has with the soldiers of any other nation. They have
both during the last three years fought testing wars against other
civilized nations, in which they faced for the first time the new
conditions of modern warfare. The relative qualifications of the two
armies have a pressing bearing on the troublous questions of alliance
or disputes yet to be between them. When the soldiers of these two
nations meet now, each has a sense of their peculiar relation of
mutuality, which is made piquant by the uncertainty whether they will
continue to support one another, as in China, or whether there is an
evil day in store when they shall have to cut one another’s throats.
But whatever the uncertainty, and whatever the surface criticisms
which each passes upon the other, there is at bottom both respect and
fraternity on the part of each.

The American soldier to-day occupies a new place in the regard of the
world. Up to the campaigning of July and August, 1898, in Cuba, Porto
Rico, and Luzon, the military men of Europe were accustomed to think
of the fighting force of the United States as a thing too small to be
considered. They had forgotten the great Civil War, and they did not
comprehend our vast resources for a volunteer army. A standing army
of 25,000 men was insignificant to officers and statesmen who were
accustomed to estimate a national force in the terms of millions.
Consequently, the martial potency of the United States had fallen
into general contempt. This judgment, however, was wholly changed in
the space of a few months, and instead of considering our military
force on a level with that of some little South American republic,
Europe suddenly comprehended that there was a new military power in
the world which had not been taken into account. From the time that
over two million men responded to the President’s call for 200,000
volunteers--many of them fairly trained soldiers, and nearly all of
them skilled in the use of firearms--the sentiment of Europe was

[Illustration: Captain Arthur Lee, R. A., attaché with General Shafter
in Cuba.]

[Illustration: Captain Slocum, U.S.A., attaché with Lord Roberts in
South Africa.]

There was a more radical change in the public sentiment of England
than anywhere else. At the beginning of the Spanish-American War one
London paper said, “Now we will see the boastful Yankee go down before
the fighting Spaniard.” The general tone of the English press, if not
directly hostile, was not friendly. But a few exhibitions of American
arms changed the opinion to such a marked degree that soon there was
hardly a hostile paper in all England. This popular reaction in favor
of America is not, however, to be confused with the attitude of the
British Government, which had been friendly from the start, and which
had done our cause inestimable benefit through its forcible “hands
off!” communication to other European powers. Nevertheless, this
friendly disposition of the British Ministry was confirmed by its
perception of the increasing prestige of the American military force
both in England and on the Continent.

But if the American soldier seems only recently to have come to his
own in the appreciation of Europe, he has long been the same soldier
that he is to-day. To be sure, training and discipline have improved
him as a product; our officers have made the study of the soldier a
science, and each year has marked a finer adaptation of methods to
ends; Yankee ingenuity has had fewer traditional prejudices to overcome
than have prevailed abroad, and in the relations of officers and men,
in the development of each unit’s individuality as a self-reliant
intelligence, the later years have been a period of surprising
evolution. But, on the other hand, the American soldier’s native
quality is the same as in that Civil War which required four years of
more terrible slaughter than Europe ever knew before one side would
yield to the other. If we were always confident of him, our boasts were
founded on an experience of his fibre which Europe had not apprehended.
His valor, his quiet contempt of death, could not, in its most extreme
exhibition, surprise his own countrymen. The only thing that robbed the
gallant Hobson and his comrades of the highest distinction was that
several thousand others on the fleet were sick with disappointment that
they could not go in their place.

Nevertheless, the appreciation of Europe is agreeable, if belated.

The soldier of the Queen did not need a new opportunity to prove his
quality. From the time that Cromwell’s Ironsides made the chivalry of
the Continent to skip, Europe and America have had a steadfast respect
for the redoubtability of the British warrior. Moreover, he has been a
civilizing power throughout the world; wherever he has cleared a path,
commerce has followed. It has not always seemed like Christian justice
to hew a way for trade with a sword, or to subject an unwilling people
to a rule of might under which they chafe and fret; but there is always
one word of praise which can truthfully be said--the government that
reaches from London to the remotest quarters of the globe has made the
world better, happier, and securer, even through its conquests over
unwilling peoples. Redcoat and khaki have stood for order, and, in the
main and in the long run, for the largest justice to the largest number.

The time-honored phrase about the flag and trade is true. But few
pause to consider the cost that is paid by the men of the empire who
carry the flag forward that trade may follow. When the Queen issued
the proclamation of war against the two republics nestled in the heart
of South Africa, the world looked on and pitied the little States,
and averred that such a war could not last more than a few weeks; but
President Krüger said, “If England plants her flag on this land she
will pay a price in blood that will stagger humanity.” She has paid
that price for more than a year, and the payment is not yet complete.
Never before has she paid such cost in the blood of her own sons. This
is not the place to discuss the right and wrong of that struggle. Spite
of all protests, it became a ghastly fact of history; from apparently
impregnable kopjes, and their hillsides that were shambles, the
determined English soldiers drive the unawed burghers over the vast
veldts, fighting literally from rock to rock.

[Illustration: British soldiers visiting the U. S. troop-ship Sumner,
en route to the Philippines.]

It was my opportunity to be with both the Boer and British armies in
South Africa, and to observe the fighting qualities of the men on both
sides. After the Boers evacuated Pretoria, and I remained to witness
the British operations, I came to agree with Captain Slocum that “Tommy
Atkins is a wonder.” He certainly is. During two years spent in
Europe I saw the great manœuvres on Salisbury Plain and at Aldershot;
I have seen the British soldier on foreign garrison service and in the
field; and, last, I have seen him in Africa, confronted by new problems
and fighting against modern weapons in the hands of thinking men.
From the point of view of this experience I venture to draw certain
comparisons and contrasts between him and the American soldier, whose
fighting steps I have followed in half a dozen campaigns, against the
Indians in the West and also in the war with Spain.

The system of “crack” regiments in the British army has done much to
injure the service of that country, as it has developed the “spit
and polish” officer, as he is called in London--an imposing society
soldier, useless in war. The men of these regiments are the pick of the
nation, but unless there is an exceptional campaign they are not sent
out. The Guards are usually ordered to the front long enough to get
their medals, and then are sent home. During the last Soudan campaign
the battalion of Guards was away from England only a few weeks, and
were, as the late war correspondent, G. W. Steevens, said, “packed in
ice, shipped to the front, and then shipped back.” During the Boer War
the Guards have not had such an easy time, as it was necessary to use
the whole army in active operations; and they have proved themselves
good fighters when properly officered.

There is one exception to the rule of pampering the “crack” regiments
in the case of the Gordon Highlanders, for they have seen the hardest
service of every campaign since the organization of the regiment. Their
glory is in fighting rather than in polo and cricket, in campaigning
rather than in dancing.

The sturdy, practical soldiers have a large contempt for the youngster
of birth who has received his commission through favoritism, and they
never lose an opportunity of expressing it. While in Pretoria after
the British occupation, I installed myself in one of the best houses
in the city, having commandeered it when the owner, who was a British
subject, fled. To make my position more secure I hung out a small
American flag, so that I should not be disturbed. When the British
entered the capital, General French’s cavalry division occupied the
portion of the town in which my borrowed home stood, and I invited
two or three of the officers of his staff to share the house with me.
Some days after their acceptance an order was issued by the military
governor to seize all horses in Pretoria, and a battalion of Guards was
detailed to form a line across the city, making a clean sweep of every
horse not already in governmental possession. I rode up to my door
just as the line struck that vicinity, and the soldiers were leading
out some of the horses belonging to the cavalry staff officers living
with me. Lieutenant-Colonel Welsh, a thorough soldier, who has learned
his profession by hard campaigning, was at the moment expostulating
with a stupid officer of the Guards, who was just remarking, “Beastly
business, this horse-stealing, but--aw--I have to do it, don’t you

“Well, you can’t have my horse,” exclaimed Colonel Welsh, with an
emphasis that told the Guardsman he was some one of importance.

That officer screwed his glass into his eye, looked about, and seeing
the American flag, turned to Colonel Welsh, who was in full uniform,
and said, “Oh, I say--are you the American consul fellow?”

This was too much for the old soldier, who fairly exploded in his
indignation; but his pity for the poor Londoner prompted him to
explain, with an amusing manner, that he had the honor of holding the
Queen’s commission, and that foreign consuls were not in the habit of
wearing the British uniform.

When the Ninth Infantry marched into Santiago to act as a guard of
honor to General Shafter, and to participate in the raising of the flag
over the palace, a Spanish officer standing by me on the cathedral
steps asked if this was one of our “crack” regiments. I told him it was
not, and he looked rather surprised.

“You don’t mean to say you have any more like this, do you?” he

[Illustration: British officers at Malta, watching the setting-up
exercises of American soldiers.]

“Why, they are all the same out there in the trenches,” I replied; but
he evidently did not believe me, and then I realized that here was a
regiment of men the like of whom the Spaniards had never seen, its
smallest man taller than their tallest, its horses half a foot taller
than theirs, and I ceased to wonder that he thought it a “crack”
regiment. The army of the United States, when the Spanish War broke
out, was superlative in its personnel. The hard times of a few years
before had led hosts of men of exceptionally high grade to apply for
enlistment, and of these fine applicants not more than one in ten had
been taken; each regiment was a sifted remainder. But in our army it is
the rule that if there is one regiment more “crack” than another, that
is the one to have the honor of the hardest service.

In the use of government funds in the field the British army has a
great advantage over our own force, for their officers are allowed
much more freedom in expenditures for campaigning purposes. It is true
that they use much more money in consequence, but in many cases it is
essential that an army should have that freedom from red tape which is
enjoyed by the British.

In South Africa every officer who has any occasion to use money is
provided with a government check-book; when he wishes to buy stock,
provisions, or forage he appraises the value himself and gives a check
for the amount, or sometimes pays in gold on the spot. The British
army, in consequence, pays the top price for everything; but, as they
wish to conciliate the people as much as possible, it is a very good

On the contrary, when an American officer wishes to buy anything for
the government, he is obliged to have its value decided upon by a
board, and then the payment is made through the tortuous channels of
the paymaster’s department. Innumerable vouchers, receipts, affidavits,
and money orders pass back and forth before the party who is selling
receives the amount due him.

The right system is a mean between these two extremes; for the English
method is as much too loose as ours is too stringent. The British
government pays for its method every month thousands of pounds more
than necessary. I watched a remount officer buy horses in Pretoria,
and the prices he paid were staggering. The animals had been seized
by the government troops, but payment was made to any one who came to
the public square and laid claim to a horse. The officer in charge
of the work happened to be an exceedingly good-natured and agreeable
fellow, who said the people undoubtedly needed the money. He asked each
person presenting a claim what he thought his animal worth, and almost
invariably paid the full sum demanded, without a word of protest. He
paid as high as £60 for animals not worth a third of that amount. It
can well be imagined that the stock left in any of the towns by the
burghers when they evacuated was not of a very high order, as they
all went away mounted in the best possible style, and in many cases
leading an extra horse. Every man in the Boer army is mounted, and well
mounted, on native stock, that does not need to be fed with grain to
be kept in good condition, as the veldt grass on which these horses
live and thrive is similar to our prairie grass.

The equipment of the British army can in no way compare with that of
the American soldiers; it is heavier, badly slung, and is far less
useful. In the first place, the saddle used by both the cavalry and
mounted infantry is almost double the weight of the McClellan pattern
used by our army. The mounted infantry saddle is the flat seat known
in this country as an “English saddle,” one which should be used only
in the park or in racing. As it has no raised back it affords no rest
to a man while on long rides. The cavalry saddle, especially that
of the Lancers, has a slightly higher back and is somewhat easier;
nevertheless, it is much too flat according to the American idea. The
manner in which the mounted infantrymen ride is enough to show that the
saddle is a very bad one for use in the field, for the rider has no
command over his mount and no security of his seat; he keeps it merely
on the sufferance of a good-natured horse.

The Canadian troops in South Africa created much comment because of
their saddles, for the eastern contingent had the United States army
McClellan saddle, and the western force rode the regular Montana
“cowboy saddle.” About two thousand McClellan saddles had been
condemned by our government inspectors on account of being a fraction
of an inch too narrow across the withers; and the Canadian government,
needing some uniform saddle in a great hurry, bought them. They were
quite satisfactory for the Canadians, for their horses are smaller
than the American animals, and the slight defect in construction made
no difference. Henceforth, the McClellan saddle will be known as the
“Canadian saddle” in England.

The Boers equipped themselves fully in saddles, bridles, blankets, and
all other horse equipment from the stock they captured. There was not a
saddle to be seen that did not come from the English ordnance stores,
although in many cases the rider cut off all the extra flaps and threw
away the heavy bags and pouches, which encumber the horse and are of no

The cavalry equipment of the American army weighs a total of
ninety-eight pounds, including carbine and sabre; while that of the
English service is at least fifty or sixty pounds more. There is one
thing, however, in which their outfit is superior to ours--their
saddles are built of fair leather. A black saddle is much harder to
keep in good condition, and does not continue to look well nearly so
long after it has been cleaned as does the brown leather. Our ordnance
department is experimenting with fair leather equipments, and many have
already been issued. Our cavalrymen hope that soon there will be no
black saddles left in service.

The British infantry equipment is unpractical to an amazing degree; it
is heavy and cumbersome, and includes accouterments that are needless.
There is a heavy set of straps and cross-belts, suggesting the harness
of a dray-horse, and all that this antique framework is useful for
is to hold up the blanket, cartridge-box, and bayonet scabbard. The
cartridge-boxes are as heavy as the cartridges themselves. I had a full
kit such as is used in the American army, which I displayed one day to
an officer of General French’s staff. He remarked:

“Oh, well, we shall have that some day. In about thirty years, when
you have invented something much better, our War Office will adopt
something like this.”

Wide admiration was expressed for my American rubber poncho blanket
with its hole for the head, which adapts it for use as a coat, for the
British have nothing like that. I saw the poor Tommies sleeping out,
night after night, in a cold, pouring rain, with nothing over them but
a woolen blanket. They have no field protection like our shelter tent
to shield them from the weather, and it is surprising that there has
been so little fever.

Our knapsack, also, is greatly superior to the British haversack bag,
which must be carried in the hand when the troops are changing quarters
or are embarking for a voyage. The knapsack is a light trunk, which
will hold everything that a man needs for many weeks.

[Illustration: A company of the Eighth U. S. Infantry in the field,
Lieutenant M. B. Stuart.]

[Illustration: A review of the Life Guards in London.]

It is doubtful if the helmet sees the light of another campaign, for
it has been found to be more objectionable than ever when there is
fighting to be done. The front visor is so long that it prevents the
men from sighting their rifles, and if it is shoved back, the back
visor strikes the shoulders and the helmet falls off. The soldier
cannot keep it on his head when he is sleeping; he might as well go to
war in an opera-hat. The felt field-hat has been adopted by nearly all
the colonials and by some of the volunteers from England; and although
the English have a difficult task to overcome the tradition attached to
anything that has become a part of the service, and although the helmet
gives the men a uniform and very military appearance, its eventual
disappearance is inevitable.

There was a time when we learned much from England regarding military
affairs, but that period has passed, and it would be to her conspicuous
advantage to copy our excellent field equipment, as well as several
other things.

I cannot say that I fully share the sentiment which reproaches the
British government for the continued use of “dum-dum” bullets. At the
Peace Conference at The Hague it will be remembered that the British
representatives maintained the privilege of shooting with these bullets
when the War Office so chose, against the protest of the other powers;
and the Americans in this dispute stood with the British. Terrible as
is their wound as compared with the neat, needle-like thrust of the
Mauser bullet, for instance, in the long run they are the more merciful.

In South Africa both sides used these tearing projectiles to some
extent, although they were not supposed to be issued. I saw some
British prisoners brought into Pretoria who had a lot of “Mark IV”
ammunition, which is the deadliest “dum-dum” made. The steel jacket of
the bullet is split at the sides and at the nose, and when it strikes
a body, these sides of the jacket curl outward with a ghastly result.
It was afterwards stated by the British authorities that this “Mark IV”
ammunition had been issued at Natal by mistake, as the British contest
had always been that these bullets were intended solely for those
savage foes who did not mind perforation with the clean little modern

The Boers, on their side, had considerable ammunition known as the
“blue-nose bullet.” This projectile has no jacket at all over its
leaden nose, which spreads out like a mushroom on reaching its target.
The use of this was also the result of a mistake in issuance; it had
been bought by the Transvaal government long before war was thought
of, and was intended for sporting use, since the regular steel-jacket
bullet would not stop big game. But, on the other hand, in many
instances the burghers turned their regular jacket bullets into
“dum-dums” by simply scraping off the steel at the nose, leaving the
lead to flatten as it struck; when they had no file for this, they
rubbed them against a rock.

The humane theory of the small calibre steel bullet is that when it
strikes, unless it hits a vital spot, it does not mangle, but simply
puts a man out of action, and that two more men take him to the rear,
thus putting three out of action. But the theory does not work; for now
that the magazine gun has multiplied every man in the trenches ten or
twenty fold, no erect man of the attacking force can be spared to care
for wounded comrades; consequently the man who falls is left where he
is; no one can pay the slightest attention to him when every minute
is infinitely precious and every stalking man is needed for the final
instant. On the other hand, many of the wounds thus made are so slight
that, if promptly cared for after the battle, the wounded men are able
in a few days to be back with their regiments.

The little bullet darts through the soft part of leg or arm or body
like a sewing-machine needle, and if a vital spot is not struck, and
if no bones are shattered, the flesh closes up with beautiful repair;
and if antisepticized the recovery is surprisingly quick. The prompt
reappearance of these many slightly wounded men on the firing line is
equivalent to a perpetual reënforcement; thus the campaign is prolonged

The humane sentiment is neutral as to the victory of either side in
wars between civilized armies, and prays only that the slaughter and
destruction may cease as soon as possible. If in the early weeks of the
South African struggle each man hit had been wholly disabled, if not
killed outright, it is inconceivable that the British people would have
permitted the war to go on. If in the Philippines each native struck by
an American bullet had been unable to recover and soon appear in arms
again, that unhappy struggle would have ended long ago. Consequently,
there is much to be considered before making a wholesale condemnation
of the “dum-dum.” War cannot be anything but the most infernal thing
on earth, and the sooner a campaign is over the better. We have to
remind ourselves of the language of one of the generals in the Civil
War to his officers: “Gentlemen, war means fight, and fight means kill;
therefore the more you kill in any battle the sooner the misery of the
war will end.”


British and American Recruits

[Illustration: Horse Guard on duty at headquarters, London.]

The British soldier as he appears in the streets of London is the
finest thing to look at in the military world. Although to the unused
American eye most of these beings seem to be a little theatric in
appearance, they are all that could be desired in uniform, build,
and military bearing. In a nation of big men they have been chosen
primarily for their height and their chest measurement, and they can
scarcely be criticised for the somewhat exaggerated jauntiness which
betrays a consciousness of their superior looks.

On the other hand, the American soldier as he is seen in the streets
of a garrison city is not marked by either self-consciousness or
noticeable bigness. His uniform is not showy, although it fits well,
and the man inside of it is well set up; he is wiry, spry, and although
of soldierly bearing, is more to be remarked for his alertness of
movement. You would never think of calling him a magnificent creature;
the keen face under the visored cap might be that of a young mechanic,
business man, or student who had learned how to wear a uniform easily.

The recruit of the British army is chosen on physical grounds, and
his obvious proportions seem to have been particularly desired. The
American soldier, as we see him, talk with him, and hear what his
officers have to say of him, seems to have obtained his place because
he is a good all-around man, with no more muscle than intelligence, and
with soundness of teeth considered as important as extensiveness of

The recruiting of the British army is admirably managed by some of the
cleverest sergeants in the service. They must be able to tell at a
glance whether an applicant is likely to pass an examination, and then
they must paint the glories and possibilities of a soldier’s life in
sufficiently alluring colors to persuade the prospective recruit to
accept the “King’s shilling.”

The recruiting of the British army is always an interesting feature
of the military life of London, and one may see it any week-day
morning under the walls of the gallery opposite the church of
St.-Martin’s-in-the-Fields. This church is on the upper edge of
Trafalgar Square, in the busiest part of the city, and from nine
o’clock in the morning the work goes on all day. The various branches
of the service place signboards on the fence of the gallery court, upon
which are hung bills that set forth in glowing language the advantages
to be gained by enlisting in this or that service; also stating the
requirements, pay, and allowances. All these boards are hung side by
side, and there is an unwritten law that should a man be reading or
looking at one board, the sergeant representing another branch of the
service, or another regiment, is not permitted to speak to him until he
has passed on. As soon as he has left the board, any of the recruiting
officers is at liberty to speak to him.

There are from ten to twenty non-commissioned officers on duty at this
place every morning; they are the finest types of men in the British
service, and always appear in their best uniforms. They nearly all have
the rank of sergeant-major, consequently their uniforms glitter with
gold lace and attract the youth who have an eye for the military. One
old sergeant-major is a particularly conspicuous character, being a
veteran of the Crimea. He is a very old man, has been seen at this same
spot, on the same service, for many years, and has become as well known
to the Londoner as the very buildings themselves. His hair and beard
are snow-white, and the years of campaigning have left their mark on
his face; but his step is as youthful and elastic as that of any of the
younger men on the same duty, and on his breast are the medals of many
wars, most of them being ribbons one never sees except at Chelsea. He
is the most energetic man on the recruiting detail, and he very seldom
makes an error as to the eligibility of an applicant.

[Illustration: Possible candidates.]

[Illustration: Persuasion by sergeant-major.]

All day long the passers-by are scanned by these sharp old soldiers,
and are invited to join the forces of the empire and attain the glory
that, according to the “sar’-major,” is sure to be his portion. The
dignity with which the recruiting is done is very pleasing, for these
officers, uncommissioned though they be, wear their uniforms with the
grace of a major-general. When they approach a man, they do so with an
air of authority, in a straightforward manner, and although they depict
the attractions of the service beguilingly, they seldom attempt to
gain a recruit against his will. Most of those who loiter about the
boards come with their minds made up to enlist, and do not need any
great amount of persuasion. The grade of recruits taken in this manner
is said to be rather low, as they are generally of the class that does
not like to work, and has a mistaken idea that a soldier has an easy

Another method of recruiting the British army is by “recruiting
marches” through the rural districts. With their most attractive
uniforms, colors flying, and music piping, a battalion makes the entry
into a town on their march in such engaging style that many of the
youths of the place are sure to cast their lot with the army on the
impulse of the moment; and in this way some of the best men are found,
as in Great Britain the country lad seems to make the best soldier.

In the United States it has not been found necessary to resort to
these expedients to gain recruits. The recruiting offices in time of
peace show a small but steady stream of callers; they are not from
the degraded classes, nor are they ignorant men; they are young men
of various social grades who, in many cases, have been advised by
older men to enter the army, or who think they see in its discipline,
regularity of life, and opportunity for promotion a promising opening
for three years of trial.

The rigidity of the examinations is in itself an attraction to the
young American. There is no other line of work for which he must submit
to such searching competitive tests as he finds in the recruiting
office. Physically he must be perfect; unsoundness of eye, ear, lung,
heart, liver, skin, limbs, extremities, or any other defect, will debar
him no less than would his inability to read and write.

There is also in the United States a continual fostering of the
military spirit among the youth by means of the cadet corps in the
public and private schools. Again, the fact that so many boys in
America are taught to ride and shoot has its natural influence in
leading large numbers of them to think of the army. The patriotic
instruction and the devotion to the flag which are now so prominent a
feature in the public schools, have also an influence in turning the
minds of many young men to the national service.

Two exceedingly strong attractions which the American army presents,
and which are lacking in the British army, are the inducements of
good pay and of promotion. The English recruit enlists for a period
of twelve years, without the opportunity of ever becoming more than a
non-commissioned officer, and for the sum of twenty-four cents a day;
while the American enlists for three years, with the possibility of
becoming lieutenant-general commanding the army, and for pay which,
including ration and clothing allowance, a portion of which thrifty men
can commute into cash, amounts to at least one dollar a day, and from
that up to three dollars and a half a day, together with twenty per
cent. increase on all pay for active service. The American government
provides that the paymaster shall take charge of any funds that the
men do not wish to draw, and it pays a high rate of interest on these
deposits. Thus, large numbers of our men have saved several thousand
dollars out of their pay, and yet have lived well and had money to
spend all the time.

The chief spur, however, that acts on the enlisted man in the army
of the United States is not the money, but the possibility that some
day he may become an officer. To commission an officer from the ranks
in the British army is almost unheard of; while, on the contrary, a
large number of the American non-commissioned officers and men receive
their straps every year. The one thing that I could never make an
English officer understand was that it is possible for our government
to commission men from the ranks. They could appreciate how these men
might be fully qualified as to their military knowledge, but they
could not comprehend how it would be possible for the West Pointer to
associate with them or to meet them on an equal footing in society.
They could not understand that many of the men in the ranks are in
the same station in life as are the West Point graduates. That social
possibility is the result of different conditions. Many officers’ sons
who wish to follow in the footsteps of their fathers are not fortunate
enough to obtain an appointment to the Academy; these boys always
enlist, and, to the credit of our government, they rarely fail to get
a commission if they can qualify in the examinations.

[Illustration: British recruits at fencing practice.]

[Illustration: British recruits at bayonet practice.]

Moreover, the breeding as well as the intelligence of many of the men
accepted for enlistment is of the same kind that is required of the
applicants at West Point. In an army where every recruit must be able
at least to read and write, it is impossible to find, even among the
colored troops, any of that low-bred class of men which exists in large
numbers in the British army. Before the war with Spain, when the army
was on a peace footing, there were about five applicants for every
vacancy; consequently the recruiting officer could choose with care,
and an exceptionally high class of men entered the regular army.

It is a rare circumstance that puts a gentle-born Englishman into the
ranks, and the discredit he suffers for enlisting is deep indeed; for
soldiers and servants in England stand on the same footing. In the
continental nations of Europe soldiering, while it is disliked, is
considered as a matter of course, because it is compulsory upon all men
to serve. But in England, where the service is voluntary, the private
rank is not a nice place for the upper classes.

In New York, in Boston, in Chicago, it is not impossible to see the
private’s blouse at a tea function or across the table at dinner, in
the most refined society; after the instant’s surprise at seeing the
insignia of the common soldier, it is remembered that he is present
in his own right, irrespective of uniform, and he is admired for his
unostentatious service of the flag.

Once a charming Larchmont belle told me, with the greatest pride, that
she had a brother who was a soldier, and she showed me his picture.
There were no straps on the shoulders, and the collar of his blouse was
turned down.

“He is a private in the Seventh Artillery,” she said; “regulars, you
know; and some day he will be an officer.”

“Some day ... an officer” tells the whole story; it indicates one of
the vital differences between the British and the American soldier.
When the former enlists in the army, he knows he will never get beyond
a “non-com.;” while many of those who cast in their lot with the United
States forces, do so with the anticipation that eventually they may
hold the President’s commission.

At the outbreak of the South African War I met a young Englishman in
London who was bubbling over with patriotic enthusiasm, and whose fixed
idea was to go to the war, and to go quickly before it was over; but
he told me that he had almost given up all hope of getting there, as
he had exhausted every possible means of accomplishing his desire. He
had been to the War Office to see every one, from Sir Evelyn Wood down;
and although he was a relative of the Duke of Devonshire, and swung a
great deal of influence, he could not make it; and yet he said that he
“simply _must_ go.”

“If you really want to go so much, why do you not enlist?” I asked.

“What! go as a Tommy?” he exclaimed; “why, I could not do that.”
And, as a matter of fact, he could not, since the feeling against
such a course is so strong that even in time of war it would not be
countenanced by his social judges. I saw him again in the later months
of the war, and he had attained his desire by going to the Cape on his
own responsibility and recruiting a troop of colonials, afterwards
receiving a commission to command it.

There are instances where men of social standing have enlisted in the
British army, but they are very rare in comparison with those of the
same class who answered the President’s call to arms at the beginning
of the war with Spain; men who joined not only the volunteer branches
of the American army, but who enlisted in large number as privates in
the regular service.

General Hector Macdonald is an interesting exception in the British
system. He rose from the ranks, and is to-day one of the best officers
of the generals’ staff, and is loved, feared, and respected by his men.

For these various reasons it is easy to see why the personnel of
the rank and file of the American army is much higher than that of
the British. This is conspicuously true in the matter of mental
attainments. In our army it is rare to find a man who is not fairly
well educated, while the majority of the men in the ranks are
considerably enlightened. There is not one illiterate man in the whole
enlisted force.

On the other hand, the British army is dismally low in its standard of
literacy. In the official report published in 1899, the illiterateness
of the recruits receives scathing comment; only forty-five in one
thousand were fairly educated; eighteen per cent. were utterly

The same attractions tend to secure for the American army a larger
proportion of healthy applicants than apply for admission in the
British service. The official report which I have just quoted also
states that thirty-five per cent. of all applicants for enlistment in
the British army have to be rejected for physical disability.

In treating this subject before the United Service Institution in
London, in 1899, Colonel Douglas, of the Royal service, described the
recruits from the north, or country districts, as “sallow, downcast,
nondescript youths, mostly artisans.” Regarding the recruits in
general, he said: “It is significant that a good set of teeth is rare,
except among the agricultural recruits. The old recruiting sergeant
would have laughed at the recruits of to-day; the army of the past
had in it many blackguards, but few degenerates. These are depressing
conclusions, but it must be remembered that this refers to our peace
army, which is recruited from the half-starved offscourings of the
streets. The physique of the men who are offering themselves to-day,
in time of war, is very different from this. There are shoals of
Englishmen who cannot stand the drudgery and discipline of the ranks
in time of peace, but who flock to the standard as soon as there is a
chance of fighting. The recruiting sergeants say that nearly all of
the material they are getting at present is of a better class. These
men want to fight for the love of fighting, and not as a refuge from
starvation. A few weeks of training licks them into shape. As long as
the outbreak of war affords such a stimulus to recruiting as this,
there is no need to despair of the British race.”

But as conditions now exist in both countries, England has much more
difficulty in filling her ranks in time of peace than is encountered
here. Her army is vastly larger than ours, and its attractions are
vastly inferior. There is, accordingly, no ground for surprise that
both in mental attainments and soundness of body the American recruit
is measured by a higher standard; and it is not strange that the
British government has such trouble in persuading enough men to enter
the ranks that almost any sort of able-bodied man would be accepted.
Most of the field musicians of the British regiments are mere boys,
twelve to fifteen years of age; these youth are enlisted regularly into
the army. The American forces employ grown men for the same service,
but the difficulty in obtaining men makes such a force impossible in

Once a man has been enlisted, however, in the British army, no pains
are spared to make him as good as the best of soldiers--not only in a
physical sense, but also in the training of his brains.

[Illustration: 1. A musician of the Gordon Highlanders, age, seventeen.

2. A Boer fighting “man,” age, twelve. Twice distinguished for bravery
in action. He fought at Spion Kop, Colenso, Dundee, and Ladysmith.]

As soon as the British recruit is accepted he is turned over to the
drill sergeant, who proceeds to make a soldier of him; and in all the
world no better man exists than the British drill sergeant for the
special line of duty of whipping recruits into shape. He does nothing
else, and consequently becomes very proficient at his calling. These
drill masters are all alike; to see one is to see all. He is a species
of soldier by himself, and there is nothing like him that I have
ever seen. He does for the British army the work that is done by the
subaltern officer of the American army. He is by no means gentle,
but he is not unnecessarily severe, as is the German or French drill
master; he merely understands his men better than any other master, and
consequently gets better results from them in a shorter space of time.
He takes a slouching youth, of slovenly gait, from Whitechapel, and in
an incredibly short time turns him out into Hyde Park a dashing young
soldier, or sends him to the Cape in khaki, as willing a fighter as can
be found.

I have seen a German drill master strike a recruit for some trifling
mistake or inattention; I have heard a Frenchman curse his squad by all
the saints in the calendar; but I know of nothing half so effective as
the quiet sarcasm that the English or Irish drill sergeant can command
when he is completely out of patience with an awkward “rookie”; it is
more deadly than oaths or blows; it always accomplishes the end. Up to
the present, the British army has been almost built, trained, and run
by non-commissioned officers, many of whom are superior to the officers
over them in all but birth and breeding. These rankers are capable of
commanding in so far as capability depends upon understanding every
detail of their profession.

The majority of the English recruits are sent to the great camp at
Aldershot, which is a camp only in name; for in reality it is a
superb expanse of land, covered with perfectly appointed barracks and
well-laid parades. At this training station the work of the young
soldier begins in earnest, and for the better part of four months he
is drilled, trained, and instructed in all branches of soldiering.
The most interesting part of his work is that done in the gymnasium.
The average English recruit does not carry himself in the manner of a
soldier to the degree that an untrained American does, so that a more
rigid training than in the United States is necessary. Moreover, the
idea of the proper carriage of a soldier is so vastly different in the
two countries that it is difficult to draw a comparison which will be
understood by one who is not familiar with both armies. In the British
army the old-time conventional idea of soldierly appearance still
dominates the discipline; in the American army this idea is not absent,
and I hope it may never depart; but nevertheless, the prevailing aim is
to subordinate everything to simple effectiveness. Broadly speaking,
therefore, one is tempted to say that the British soldier is trained
for show, while the American is trained for comfort, for work, and for
general usefulness.

The gymnasium at Aldershot is the best-equipped establishment of its
kind that I have ever seen; there is nothing lacking that could add to
the physical training of the recruits sent there for their preliminary
teaching. For one hundred and ten days each recruit has one hour a
day devoted exclusively to athletics, and in that time he is made
to exercise in walking, running, climbing, boxing, fencing, and is
instructed in the use of the bayonet. The men scale high walls and
clamber over lofty scaffolding at double time; they go up and down
swinging ladders and hanging ropes.

The headquarters gymnasium is just outside of the little town of
Aldershot, among the miles of barracks that quarter so many thousands
of the British army.

It is a large brick building, recently put up, and contains every
appliance known to athletic training, most of the apparatus having
been imported from New York. The interior is bright and airy,
handsomely decorated with flags, stands of arms, and trophies, making
an attractive room in which to work. Just at the left is a smaller
building for instruction in the use of the sabre and foil. Surrounding
the buildings are large fields for out-of-door exercise, one side being
a turf parade for walking, running, jumping, and the many drills in
the use of the arms and legs. When the weather permits, the classes
in bayonet, single-stick, and dumb-bells are taken to this field. On
the other side of the buildings are all sorts of stationary apparatus
similar to that inside; on that side also there are walls to scale,
heights to climb, besides the ordinary bars and ladders. The best
apparatus that the recruits use is a great frame that looks as if some
one had started to build a house, and dropped the work as soon as the
scaffolding had been finished. It is a square framework about fifty
feet high and forty feet wide; from it hang ropes, ladders, poles,
sliding-boards, and all kinds of devices by which ascent and descent
can be made. The apparatus is of great value in training the eye as
well as the muscle, for the recruits are put over it at double time,
and the slightest false step would mean a bad fall and broken bones.
It was the invention of Colonel the Hon. J. S. Napier, who has been
in command at the gymnasium for some time, and to whose efforts are
due the perfection of the system of training given, not only to the
recruits, but also to all officers and men who care to continue their
physical training.

[Illustration: 1. Colonel Napier’s frame for recruit-drill at

[Illustration: 2. One of the exercises in British recruit-drill.]

The most useful drill given to recruits is the use of the “shelf.”
This, as the name indicates, is a huge shelf on the side of the
gymnasium wall. It is so high that a man cannot reach it as he stands
on the floor, and to mount it he must have the assistance of one or
more of his companions. The aim of the shelf drill is to train the men
to go over walls and obstacles where there is nothing for them to use
in pulling themselves up. In working together, one man makes a rest
of his hands and gives to his comrade a “boost”; then the man thus
assisted clambers up to the shelf, and turning, pulls up the man below

The American recruit is handed over to a subaltern officer, who is
usually not long from West Point, and is fresh with the athletic
enthusiasm and methods of the Academy. He takes the place of the
British drill sergeant. He tramps side by side with the awkward
recruit, and orders him to do nothing which he himself is not able to
do in a perfected manner. This fact of itself establishes a wholesome
and trusting relation between the enlisted man and his officer. The man
looks up to his superior as to an instructor and parent. He learns to
regard him not merely as his fugleman for parades and campaigns, but
also as his preceptor, who knows him thoroughly and takes an interest
in him. The motto of the American army is that the officer is the
father of his men.

The young recruit gains his first comprehension of this as he is worked
upon by his young superior in shoulder-straps. No familiarity is
permitted; the etiquette is as rigid and unremitting as in any European
army; the orders are stiff and stern; and yet the fact remains in the
soldier’s mind, through his entire service, that his officer labored
patiently over him for months, to impart to him from his own rich store
of self-command and high bearing, of physical cleverness and military
skill. The man never forgets his place, nor his officer’s either.

The American recruit receives a thorough course in all kinds of
athletic drill, riding, fencing, walking, running. Especial attention
is given to the “setting-up” exercises; these consist of a series
of movements of arms, legs, and body which involve all the motions
which are called for in any military action. The turning of the arms,
raising and lowering them, propulsive motions, the limbering of the
joints--every movement that can contribute to facility of action is a
part of this extraordinary discipline.

[Illustration: Setting-up exercises of American soldiers during their
visit in Malta.]

[Illustration: Recruit drill in the British army.]

Beyond this, and of most practical moment, is the American recruit’s
training in making temporary trenches with bayonet and tin plate; in
seizing and using temporary protections; in shooting from behind trees,
rocks, hillocks, while showing as little of his body as possible. The
consequence of this drill is that when in battle the American soldier
can manage himself without depending on orders, and is an expert

In South Africa the British regulars could not be asked to make even
temporary entrenchments; they had to wait for the engineer corps to
come up and lay them out and dig them. But a company of American
troops, with only the implements they carry, can scrape up a pile of
dirt in front of them in less than five minutes sufficient to serve as
their fort in an all-day battle.

The charge by rushes which the British had to learn on the battlefield
is the trick which the American recruit is taught before he leaves the
awkward squad. In this resourcefulness and practicality the colonial
troops in the South African campaign were by many points superior to
the British regulars, and showed that they had been trained to some
extent by the same methods that have been found so effective for the
American recruit.


The Common Soldier in the Field

[Illustration: American cow-boy with Canadians in South Africa.]

There is much in common between the life of a tramp and that of a
soldier in campaign. If the tramp had ever watched an army on the
march it might not be difficult for him to imagine himself surrounded
by all the pomp of war. He is dirty, unshaven, his clothes are ragged
and torn, and he presents a generally dilapidated and loose-jointed
appearance. His line of march is along the railroad; occasionally he
gets a ride in a box car, and at night he sleeps beside the track. If
he is lucky he gets a meal or so each day; he cooks the meal himself
over his own fire, the meat sizzling on the end of a stick, and the
coffee boiling in an old can. On and on he marches along the railroad,
he does not know where, he does not care--he just goes. Finally he
comes to a town and stands around in the switchyard, or at the station,
until some one comes along and orders him out. These conditions are
those of the life of the average tramp, but they fit that of the
soldier as well, the chief point of difference being that the tramp
does not have to work and the soldier does.

Fighting is what the soldier longs for and lives for; it does come
sometimes, although infrequently; and during the intervening routine
of work he almost forgets the fighting. The public at home reads of
battles, several of them perhaps occurring within a week; but those
actions cover the entire theatre of the war, and consequently one
command may rarely see two fights in succession. There is none of the
glitter that the romancers depict; the glory begins and ends with
the triumphal march through the streets to the transport. Up to the
time that the last line that connects with home is cast off, and the
great troop-ship turns her prow to the land of the enemy, the soldier
feels the true excitement and exhilaration of war; the cheers of the
crowd along the line of march still ring in his ears; the brave words
of speeding that were spoken by local officials, and the thoughtful
attentions of the ladies’ committees at the wharf are all bright
memories of the start towards fame and glory on the battlefield. But
about the time the jingling bell in the engine-room tells the official
at the throttle that the ship is clear of the harbor, and that she may
settle down to her long voyage, the soldier begins to realize that
war is no romance, but a stern reality that will take him away for a
long time from everything and everybody that he cares for, with the
possibility that he may never come back at all.

When he thinks of this, he pictures himself staggering back from the
crest of some hill that is to be taken, with a rifle-ball in his heart.
A few weeks later the cause of his not going home means some slow,
consuming fever, or other wasting disease, which gives him plenty of
time to repent the day he ever thought of going to war. Or instead of
that neat bullet through the heart, a ragged chunk of shell rips off
an arm or a leg, or tears its way through his side, dropping him in
the mud or dust, to lie until some one finds time to pick him up, and
take him in a springless wagon to a crowded field hospital, where a
surgeon gives but hasty attention to his needs. There is no “dying for
the flag” sentiment; no tender nurse, such as we see on the stage, to
take the last message home; instead, it is a helpless sort of death,
without any one near who has time to give even a drink of water. There
is no resemblance that would come so near my idea of a soldier killed
in battle as that of an unclean, sweating, and unshaven unfortunate of
a crowded city, struck by a street car, and thrown, bleeding and torn,
into the mud. Then, if no one had time to pick him up, and he should
lie there for hours, or perhaps days, the picture of a soldier’s death
would be complete.

After the first few weeks the whole idea of war becomes a dread, and
the one thought is, When shall we go home? After a few months have
passed, a helpless, “don’t care” feeling settles over every one, and
after that any change is highly welcome, no matter whether it be home,
the hospital, or the trench. The tedium of war is more telling upon the
volunteer than upon the regular, as the former soon begins to think of
his interests at home that are perhaps suffering. The volunteer never
thinks that his services will be needed more than two or three months
at the most; and when the service drags well on toward a year, it
becomes almost unbearable. The regular does not mind it so much, for
his apprenticeship of worry has been served with the early months of
the first enlistment, and any change from barrack life is an agreeable

[Illustration: Dangebhoy hospital cart used in South Africa.]

After a soldier has been in the field for a few months there is not
much of the military appearance left to him except his gun, and there
is not the slightest trace of the smart, well-kept man on home duty.
It does not matter about his appearance, however, for the man himself
is there, and of all sorts and conditions of men in all creation, the
true fighting man is the manliest. He works day after day like a galley
slave, endangers his life night and day, and yet he is but the tiniest
portion of a great machine, of whom no one has ever heard, and who will
be forgotten before the ink is dry on the treaty of peace. For a day
he may be carried on the shoulders of a victory-maddened crowd, and
compelled to drink rare wine from silver goblets; nothing is then good
enough for him--the victor. But let him ask a favor from sovereign or
subject, from Congress or people, a year after, and no one remembers
him. His days and nights in the field, suffering that the nation’s
honor may live, are all forgotten, and the fighting man is pushed to
one side to make room for the trade of peace that this same man has
made possible.

No honor is too great to render to the men who go out to fight, whether
they be regulars or volunteers. The wage they receive would not pay any
man at home to undertake half so hazardous a task. Within two years I
have had the opportunity of seeing the work of four different armies
in the field, fighting for what they thought was right. Among those
four--Spaniards, British, Boers, and Americans--can be found a curious
variety of methods of warfare, and there is much that has never been

The common soldiers of every land are brave; it is but a question of
leaders, methods, and numbers that decides which will be victorious;
for losing or winning, they show much the same valor. Nothing could be
more magnificent, nor reflect more credit on the men of Spain, than the
manner in which they met defeat at El Caney, at Santiago, and on the
seas in the conflicts with Sampson and Dewey. They went down in defeat
in a way that won the admiration of every soldier and sailor in the
American army and navy; they were brave, dignified, and courteous at
all times, even the rank and file.

The fighting methods of the Boers and the Americans are very similar,
and if the Boers were trained in military tactics their military
character would be almost identical with that of our troops. They
possess the same natural instinct of a hunter to keep under cover that
our men have, and their methods during an advance are the same. The
British army has just taken its first lesson in this sort of work, and
although it has been a costly one, it will pay in the end; and it is
England’s great good fortune that she did not have a powerful European
foe for a tutor, instead of the two little republics whose entire male
population would not make a good-sized army corps.

At the autumn manœuvres of the British army at Aldershot, just before
the South African war broke out, I was watching the attack and defense
of a hill by several battalions of infantry. Standing with me was an
officer of the Twelfth Lancers, and we watched the progress of the
action with alert interest. When the attacking force made its advance,
I noticed that neither the officers nor the men made any attempt at
keeping under the cover of the trees or rocks which were numerous in
the zone of fire. Of course the men were using only blank ammunition,
but in the same work our men would be compelled to crawl along from
tree to tree, or to keep under the shelter of the rocks. I remarked
to my companion that I should imagine the officers and men would take
greater interest in the work in hand if they went at it as though it
were real, and keeping to cover.

“Why, you do not mean to say that American officers and soldiers would
hide behind rocks and trees, do you?” he exclaimed in astonishment.

“Of course they would,” I replied. “They would not only get behind
rocks and trees, but behind the largest they could find. Don’t you do
the same?”

“No, indeed,” he said with emphasis, adding, “What would the men think
of an officer who would hide during a fight?” As it was not my first
visit in England, I did not continue the argument.

[Illustration: The Twelfth Lancers in South Africa.]

[Illustration: General French examining the enemy’s position during the
battle of Diamond Hill.]

It was, indeed, the general British opinion that to protect oneself
in a fight was to hide, and with this idea the men went to war in a
country where the enemy could find all the protection that he wanted,
and where he knew how to use it; and so these brave soldiers were
sent up in solid formation to be shot to bits by an invisible foe.
There could be no greater test of the valor of the British soldier than
the manner in which he faced death during the first months of the war.

The difference between the British and the American soldier is very
marked in the fact that the class feeling in England is so great. All
the middle and lower classes of England are taught to touch their
hats to birth in what is called a gentleman, and no matter where
they meet one, they show him deference. From these middle and lower
classes the army, of course, gathers its strength; consequently there
is a feeling of obedience even before the real lesson of the soldier
begins. This subservience is not always a good thing, for any one
who has the appearance of a gentleman has about as much influence or
authority with the men as an officer in uniform would have. An incident
which illustrates this occurred during the first days of the British
occupation of Pretoria. It was found that some of the Boer sympathizers
were communicating with their friends on commando during the night,
and, to prevent this, an order was issued that no one should pass
the sentries posted around the town after sundown or before sunrise,
without a pass from the military governor or from the field marshal
himself. The order was as imperative as could be made, for the danger
at that time was very great, and it was necessary that even the
smallest bits of information should be kept from the Boer forces. A
party of five Americans were dining at the house of a friend on the
opposite side of the line of sentries, and, when the order was issued,
it looked as though we would not get back until the next morning. One
of the party suggested that we bluff our way past the sentry at the
bridge over which we had to pass. The plan was adopted, and we walked
boldly up to the sentry post, and were promptly challenged. One of
the party stepped forward, and in a tone of authority said, “These
gentlemen are Americans, and are with me, sentry, and it will be all
right. Just pass them too.”

“You are sure it will be all right, sir?” inquired the sentry.

“Yes, quite sure,” was the answer, and the entire party was passed
without any further trouble, and for all the sentry knew they might
have gone straight to the Boer camp, which was only a few miles away;
but owing to the fact that the party was one apparently of gentlemen,
he did not see fit to refuse the permission to pass through the lines,
even though the field marshal had given his strictest order to the
contrary. This was not a single occurrence; any person could pass
through the lines at any time, providing he did not speak English with
a Dutch accent. To do that was to arouse immediate suspicion, and at
times our own “Yankee twang” was enough to cause the Tommy to ask
questions; but a few words of explanation invariably brought a polite

The Englishman makes a natural sailor, but he is not a natural
soldier, and it requires a great amount of training to make a good man
of him in the field; he may drill well, march well, and look well,
but he needs much training and good leadership to fight well. When
he has that, there is no better soldier to be found. It is in this
respect that the Americans, as well as the Boers, excel the English as
soldiers. They have been taught to hunt wild game in the wilderness of
the great plains and deep forests; they have been taught to shoot and
to ride in their childhood. The reason is obvious--they are a people of
a new country; both Americans and Boers have but recently fought back
the way for civilization, and, in fact, are still doing the same thing.
New York has forgotten the stress, Chicago is fast forgetting it; but
the great West has not forgotten it at all, and everywhere in America
the spirit of adaptability to rough conditions still pervades our life.
Each year every man, woman, and child who can get there seeks the
mountains or the woods for a few days or weeks, to satisfy the natural
American longing for the wild out-of-doors life that our forefathers
knew. But in England there is no open shooting as we know it, there
is no camping as we know it. It is true that the great estates have
excellent shooting, so far as their idea of hunting goes; but to our
point of view it is a senseless slaughter. Tame deer are driven up to
the guns to be shot, or domesticated wild birds are flushed by beaters
toward the hidden shooting party. The size of the day’s bag depends
merely on the supply of ammunition or the endurance of the trigger

[Illustration: Heliographing from Diamond Hill to Lord Roberts in

All this has to do with war only as it suggests one reason why the
British soldier has met his master in the art of war in South Africa.
The training that makes a fighting man, if not a soldier, is hunting
where the snapping of a twig or the approach on the wrong wind means
the loss of the prey. Guns and gunning are for the rich alone in
England, and the class that makes up the rank and file of the army
never have a firearm in their hands until they enlist. It cannot be
expected, therefore, that they can become sufficiently proficient
in its use to cope successfully in equal numbers with men who have
handled rifles since childhood. Not even the London police carry
firearms of any sort. The soldier is taught to load and shoot, and
learns his marksmanship at the target ranges; but he might as well be
taught pigeon-shooting in a street gallery with a .22 calibre rifle.
Target practice and firing in action are different games, and the
latter can be learned only by actual practice if the instinct is not

When the British forces were landing at Beira, in Portuguese East
Africa, to make their march into Rhodesia, there was a company of
volunteers belonging to “Carrington’s Horse,” already entrained and
ready to start for the front. In conversation with one of the men
I found that they were from Edinburgh, and that the name of their
company was the “Edinburgh Sharpshooters.” Merely from curiosity I
asked what qualifications were required to join their organization of
sharpshooters, and whether they had to make any particular score.

“Oh, no,” he said, “none of us have ever shot a gun at all yet, but
as soon as we get up here we are going to learn.” When they left home
they wanted a name, and they liked that of “sharpshooter,” so they
took it. That is the way in which many of the British soldiers are
made; they receive a uniform, a gun, and a farewell address, and then
it is thought that they are ready to meet any foe. In some cases our
own volunteers have been as unqualified as were these young Scotchmen,
and we have suffered for it; but our men have in general a better
fundamental training than those of most other nations. One mark of the
difference between Englishmen and Americans (and also Canadians) is to
be seen in the toy-shop windows. The American boy’s first plaything,
after he tires of tin soldiers, is a toy pistol with paper caps. The
boy then begins to “play Indian,” and to shoot and scalp his little
sisters. In a few years, if he is favored by fortune, he will have a
little rifle, and then the Winchester will follow. That boyish training
helped to make the Canadian and Australian volunteers superior to the
English troops, and it is also in boyhood that the Boer farmer learned
to be the great fighter that he is. That same mimic use of deadly arms
in childhood, and the constant use of guns against game in youth, has
made the North American Indian not only the most formidable fighter in
the world, but also the world’s tutor in modern warfare.

Switzerland has adopted the idea of the advantage of training in
the use of firearms, and every man is furnished with a rifle by the
government, and also with a certain amount of ammunition each year. The
people of that little republic could retire into the fastnesses of her
mountains and withstand the armies of Europe for months. If Austria,
for instance, should again attempt to invade the cantons, the Swiss
would show the world that they can do the same that the Boers have
done, and at least sell their land and liberty at a tremendous cost of
human life.

If the British common soldier is properly led, and if he has full
confidence in his leaders, he will go anywhere; but he must be led,
for he has no initiative and does not think for himself in the field
any more than he does at home. What would an American soldier think of
a special privilege created in a regiment because there came a time
when all the officers were killed or wounded, and the non-commissioned
officers took the regiment through the fight? There is an English
regiment in which the non-commissioned officers all wear their sashes
over the same shoulder as do the commissioned officers, because in a
long-ago battle they led the regiment when their superiors were put
out of action. In the American army this would have been done by the
non-commissioned officers as a matter of course, or by privates if the
sergeants and corporals were disabled; and in the terrible slaughters
of the Civil War more than once this happened, demonstrating the
resourcefulness of the American soldier. While talking with British
prisoners taken by the Boers, I asked them why they surrendered so
soon, when they had ammunition left and when so few had been hit. Some
of them said that it was much better to be a prisoner than it was to
be dead, and seemed to take it more as a joke on the rest of the army
that still had to fight while they were now in safety. Some of them
blamed their officers. But not one seemed to feel that it was at all
incumbent upon the privates to fight it out alone or to take the lead
when there was no officer near. In all the months of imprisonment in
Pretoria and in the vicinity, the soldiers did not make any attempt
to escape, although there were enough of them to have taken Pretoria
empty-handed. There were several thousand British soldiers in one field
enclosed in wire, yet they made no effort to regain their liberty. The
reason undoubtedly was that they had no leaders with them. In such an
attempt some of them, of course, would have been killed, and possibly a
great many of them; but there is no doubt that with the proper spirit
an escape could have been made.

The care of the dead is a problem to which the British government has
not given much attention. Certainly there is nothing in the field that
would indicate that it had been seriously considered. But in this act
of grace the American War Department maintains a system which is in the
highest degree praiseworthy and which commands the deference of the

It is purely a matter of sentiment that prompts any particular
disposition of the bodies of those who fall in a fight, or who succumb
to the ravages of fever; but to the fighting man in the field it is a
tender sentiment that means much. The body of every American soldier
who falls on a foreign shore is sooner or later brought home and
buried, with all the honors of war. If his family or friends want
his body for private burial, they are aided in securing it; but if
it is not so claimed, it is then taken to one of the great national
cemeteries and laid away with proper ceremonies. If one were to ask a
soldier in good health whether he wanted to be taken home to be buried,
he would probably reply that it did not matter at all what was done
with his body after he got through with it. But if the time came when
death seemed near, that same man would find sensible satisfaction in
thinking that some day his own family would stand beside the box that
served as the narrow cell of his last sleep. I have seen many a man die
soothed by the feeling that he would eventually be taken home. In a
severe campaign in a distant or foreign land, the idea of home finds a
meaning to matter-of-fact and apparently unimaginative soldiers which
they cannot express, but which stirs infinite pathos. When a soldier
lies weak from a burning fever, but with all his mental faculties more
than ever alert, or when he is on solitary outpost duty against an
active enemy, with time to turn the situation over in his mind, it is
then that he thinks of home as at no other time, and it is then that he
will appreciate all that he knows will be done for him should he happen
to be found by death.

Whenever an American soldier falls in action or dies of disease, he
receives as good a burial as the circumstances permit, and his grave
is distinctly marked, so that there will be no possibility of its not
being found when the time for removal comes. It may be months before
the day arrives, but it is sure to come at last, and then the bodies
are taken up and put in leaden-lined coffins and transported home.

[Illustration: Burial at Arlington of 426 American soldiers who fell in

The year after the Cuban campaign I attended the burial of four hundred
and twenty-six officers and men at Arlington, the great national
cemetery on the beautiful, sloping banks of the Potomac River, opposite
Washington. The President, the members of the cabinet, the commanding
general of the army, and other high officials of state were there to
pay their respect to the noble dead as they were laid to rest in the
company of the thousands of others who gave their lives for their
country in the Civil War. The long lines of coffins, each one draped
with a flag, resting beside the open graves, ready to be lowered, told
a heavy story of the breakage of war. Two chaplains, one Protestant and
the other Roman Catholic, read the service for the burial of the dead,
while a soldier stood at each grave and sprinkled the symbolic handful
of earth upon the coffin. At the end of the ceremony the artillery
boomed the last salute, and the trumpeters sounded the slow, mournful
notes of “taps.” The imposing funeral cost the government a great
amount of money. But each year the soldier dead are gathered home; the
dead of every war our country has waged have been brought together, a
silent army of heroic men. These graves will be cared for and the names
will be preserved so long as the nation lasts.

In South Africa the English forces buried their dead with the honors
of war whenever it was possible, but not with the intention of taking
the bodies home at any future date; and in hundreds of cases the graves
were not even marked. There was not that deserved attention paid to
the dead which seemed often feasible, and which in some cases I felt
that Americans would have made feasible. In one instance in Natal a
Boer general sent a flag of truce to the British general, whose forces
had just met with a severe defeat, and told him that a truce would be
allowed in which to bury the dead, and that if the British general
would send out a burial party it would be given safe conduct and every
assistance in the work. The answer went back to the Boer commander,
“Bury them yourself and send us the bill.” The Boers did bury them, and
read a Christian service over them, but they did not send in a bill.

[Illustration: Gathering the dead after the battle of Diamond Hill.]

When rightly led, there is no braver soldier on earth than the
“gentleman in khaki” who goes out to do his Sovereign’s bidding in
every part of the world. He is the finest specimen of the sturdy
soldier known in Europe. He is not unlike the American soldier, except
in the standard of education and self-reliance. He is the same happy,
careless, and kind-hearted man, who will fight an enemy all day, and,
when he has been defeated, feed him out of his own scanty store of
rations. The British soldier does not often become intoxicated; but
when he does chance to take too much, he is apt to be affected with a
bit more of dignity, or with an exaggerated straightness; he is rarely

The British soldier in the field is by far more attentive to his
personal and military appearance than is the American soldier when on a
hard campaign. All the men in South Africa wore their heavy cross-belts
and pouches when, had they been our men, it is quite likely they would
have been lost, for they were of no great importance to the comfort of
the soldier. The Britisher keeps well shaven at all times in the field,
and, although he is burned as only an African sun can burn, he looks
well groomed. It does not seem to be compulsory to shave, as some of
the men are whiskered, but the large majority of the men keep their
faces free from a beard. Naturally, however, their uniforms get very
dirty, especially as they do not have any shelter tents to protect them
from the rain, and frequently the regiments on the march look as though
they were uniformed in black or a dark brown.

One thing in which the British soldiers are far behind the American
is in ordinary entrenching work in the field; they do not seem to
understand the first principles of construction of trenches, either
temporary or permanent. The sappers or engineers are, of course,
proficient in the work, but the ordinary infantrymen or cavalrymen
do not go at the work with the same intelligence that the Americans
display. This is not because they lack the intelligence, but because
they have never been trained for that obviously necessary work, always
having been taught to rely upon the engineer corps. Nearly all the men
carry an entrenching tool, but they have not had the necessary practice
and instruction in its use to make it a useful implement in their
hands. The American soldiers can do more and better work in protecting
themselves in a temporary trench with the top of a mess tin than the
British soldiers can do with their special tools. This is not the fault
of the British soldiers, but that of the officers who have neglected
to train them in this most important self-protection in the field.
Dr. Conan Doyle calls the infantry especially to account for their
ignorance in digging trenches in the South African war, and says that
the work they did were mere rabbit-scratchings in comparison with the
work of the amateur soldiers opposed to them.

To compare the relative bravery of the American soldier and Tommy
Atkins is very difficult; there is a difference, but it is undoubtedly
due to the training and not to the actual courage of the men. There
could be no better or braver soldier desired than the British when he
knows what to do and when he is properly led; but the trouble is that
he has not been taught to think for himself, and the majority of his
officers do not take the trouble to think for him. The consequence has
been that the Boers took more prisoners than they could feed. There
are instances, shamefully numerous, where a greatly superior force
has surrendered to the Boers after very slight resistance. Howard C.
Hillegas gives a number of cases, in his book on the Boer war, where
from three to sixty men have been captured by one or two Boers, without
firing a shot in defense. It is true that they were surprised in a
mountainous or rocky place, where they could not tell how many of the
enemy were opposed to them, but even this would not excuse a bloodless
surrender. I know of one case where over seven hundred regular soldiers
surrendered to a few more than a hundred burghers, after a loss of
eight killed and twenty-three wounded, and with their belts half full
of ammunition. They were not in the open, but were well covered, and in
as good a position as were the Boers. General Methuen’s despatch to the
War Office after one of his first engagements, in which he described
it as “the bloodiest battle of the century,” after he had sustained a
ridiculously small loss, shows that to the British mind losses are more
disturbing than to the American.

The Fifth Army Corps never would have reached Santiago, and never
would have driven out the Spanish fleet, had they ever allowed
themselves to be checked as the British did in South Africa before
Lord Roberts came. At Guasimas the dismounted cavalry, under General
Young and Colonel Roosevelt, attacked more than four times their
number of Spaniards, who were carefully entrenched in perfectly
constructed works, in a mountainous pass that was thick with a tropical
undergrowth. The enemy’s fire was well directed and very heavy, and at
one time the cavalry attacking were fought almost to a standstill; in
order to save themselves they charged the works, with a loss of sixteen
killed and thirty-two wounded. At El Caney and San Juan the fighting
quality of soldiers was shown on both sides; and it was on those fields
that the American gained his first deep respect for the Spaniard as a
fighting man. All day long General Lawton’s division fought every inch
of the ground toward the little suburb of El Caney under the stone
fort, and General Kent’s division advanced steadily, until there came
the final rush up San Juan hill. At the latter place the Spaniards
waited and fought until the bayonet drove them out, and at the former
they stayed and gallantly died. Very few prisoners were taken at El
Caney, and almost every one of these was badly wounded. The scene
inside the stone fort was beyond description. Captain Capron’s battery
had hit it forty-eight times during the day, and the little force
inside was literally shot to pieces; the walls and roof had fallen in,
and the floor was strewn with the wreck, covering the bodies of the
dead and wounded. Blood was spattered over the walls that were still
standing, and the terrible tropical sun had caused a sickening odor.
There was not a man in the fort that was not hit, and only two or three
were still alive. Even after this fort was taken, which was late in the
afternoon, and we were busy burying the enemy’s dead and caring for the
wounded, the Spaniards were still fighting at the thatched fort on the
other side of the town. The thought of surrendering never seemed to
enter their minds.

I was reminded of their bravery at Santiago by Cronje’s noble stand at
Paardeburg, where he withstood the combined attack of forty thousand
British soldiers with many guns for twelve days. Although he was in
a defenseless position, and although the number of men and animals
killed caused a frightful condition within his lines, still he held out
until his ammunition was entirely expended. Both the Spaniards and the
Boers went to the opposite extreme from the British in the matter of
surrendering, for there is no doubt that in many instances the latter
gave up far too easily. So many of them surrendered during the latter
part of the war, that the Boers were compelled, after they had disarmed
them, to set them free, as they had no accommodations or means of
caring for the thousands captured.

There is a significant contrast in the action of the British and
American governments regarding men who are lost by capture. It is the
policy of the British government to make no effort to rescue them; all
the prisoners are made to pay allowances, and promotion ceases from
the date of their capture. On the contrary, whenever any handful of
American soldiers have been captured in the Philippines, no possible
efforts have been spared to release them; in the case of the capture of
Lieutenant-Commander Gilmore and his men, a force of cavalry followed
them for several hundred miles, until finally, when they overtook them,
the rescuing party were in almost as miserable a condition as were the
prisoners themselves. The circumstances in the Philippines and South
Africa are quite dissimilar, however, and it was possibly good strategy
on the part of Lord Roberts to allow the prisoners to remain in the
hands of the Boers, as the responsibility for them was necessarily a
serious embarrassment for a small force; and on this account he would
not exchange any prisoners.

It is astonishing that the death rate from disease among the men in
the British army while in the field is not greater, for, not having
a shelter tent of any description, the men are compelled to sleep in
the open unless they happen to be able to provide a temporary shelter
for themselves. I have frequently seen a rain storm of several days’
duration, where the men were wet day and night and had no opportunity
whatever of drying their clothes. The English army uses regular tents
as much as we do in our service, but in the actual field work, where
the company tents must be left at the base of supplies, they are

Not only are the British lacking in the giving of shelter and comfort
to the men while in the field, but all the other European armies are
also very backward in this respect--none of them using the shelter
tent as it is used by United States forces. This is a simple and light
portion of an equipment, which produces more comfort for the men than
anything else they could possibly carry, for it is used in other ways
than as a shelter. In light marching order it is wrapped around the
blanket, forming the blanket-roll, the sticks and pegs being wrapped
inside; two men, each carrying a half, sharing the tent.

In the out-of-door life of campaign, our men again have the advantage
of the training which is bound to come from a new country where
sleeping in the open is not unusual. In the German army the men are
billeted upon the various towns or cities near which they happen to
make their night’s halt. The German War Department has statistics
showing the capacity of every house in the empire, and wherever a body
of troops is moved, information is given to the officers regarding the
accommodations to be found. Consequently, when a command marches into
a village or town, they are told off into squads and sent to their
respective quarters as easily as though they were in their own barracks.

During the autumn manœuvres of the German army in 1899, after watching
the operations for the day, I was sitting in a hotel, talking with
some of the staff officers, when one of them said in a most mysterious
manner, “Ah, but you must wait until Thursday night!”

“What is to happen Thursday night?” I inquired.

“Wait,” he said; “wait until then. It will be wonderful.” And his
brother officers shared his mild excitement over the events promised
for this particular night. I had visions of all sorts of exciting
things--of night attacks, forced marches, or anything up to a real
declaration of war.

“But what is it?” I asked, growing intensely interested.

“Why,” he said, “the army is going to bivouac all night--in the open
air--on the ground;” and then he settled back to watch the effect of
his startling statement.

So unused to camping were they that the event was looked forward to as
children might look forward to Christmas morning. It was the event of
the campaign, and the effect of putting these soldiers into the field
where there were no houses to be used for shelter would be a problem.

The custom of the foreign governments of giving medals to their
soldiers for a campaign is an exceedingly good one, and might well be
copied to a degree in the United States. There is a certain aversion in
this country for the use of national medals, and yet there are quite as
many in the form of military orders, society orders, and decorations
issued by the various States, as are used in any European country. But
these all lack that distinguished origin and endorsement which makes
a man proud to wear them. The British government is far in advance in
the system it has adopted for military decorations. A war medal is
struck after every campaign, and given to every man who has shared in
it, the soldiers receiving a silver medal, and the camp-followers,
drivers, etc., a bronze one. They are worn with full dress, and the
ribbons are worn with fatigue dress or in the field. The higher orders
are the Victoria Cross, which corresponds to our Medal of Honor, and
the “distinguished service” order, given for the same kind of deeds for
which the men of our army would be mentioned in the order of that name,
issued each year by the Secretary of War.

It would be a very simple thing for our government to issue a war medal
after every campaign, to be given to every man who had served in it.
It is a trinket of no intrinsic value, but the men who have the right
to wear it have gained it through hard-fought battles and privations
without number; they prize these trophies superlatively, and their
families treasure them after they are dead. Our government now issues
several medals, and so the campaign medal would be no departure from
our custom. It is always a pleasure to see the respect paid to some old
pensioner who carries an empty sleeve, as he enters a room or climbs
into a ’bus in London, with the medal of the Crimea hanging to his coat.

The fighting man in the field commands respect, no matter from what
nation he may come, nor for what cause he is fighting. He is one atom
of a great body that acts under the head and brain of one man, and to
a certain extent he reflects the personality of his commander. But he
is directly dependent upon the officers over him, and it rests largely
with them whether he is to be considered a capable man or not. The
British soldier has been taught to rely absolutely upon the judgment of
his officers; and if he has been found wanting, the blame rests with
them and not with him. No better war material could be desired than the
khaki man fighting in South Africa, unless it be the man in the blue
shirt fighting in the Philippines.

This latter man represents the extreme of self-reliance in the field;
to that he has been trained by his officers; for that his original
intelligence and his Yankee inventiveness have peculiarly fitted him.
With that self-reliance goes an American objection to being dispirited
under failure. When he is down he does not stop regarding himself as
“game”; under awful odds he cannot see sense in surrender, and if he
does become a prisoner he schemes and frets and digs and plots to
escape. He is probably the best fighting soldier in the world.


The Officers

[Illustration: American volunteer officer.]

To strike a comparison between the British and the American officer, we
do not need to go further into their military career than their first
schooling at the government institutions. The fact that the English
cadet receives eighteen months’ training, ending with an indifferent
examination, while the West Pointer is given four years of the most
difficult work, both mental and physical, known to the military world,
indicates the whole story.

Yet, up to the time of the breaking out of the war in South Africa,
the British officers were generally considered to be at the head of
their profession. The colonies were taught to look up to them in
everything that pertained to the service; the European and American
War Departments considered them models to be studied. But six months’
campaigning against a practical and astute foe proved many of them as
clumsy of mind and as inefficient as the officers of King George III.
who surrendered to Gates and Washington. The modern British officer
has received the pin-prick of active duty against modern fighters; his
inflation has vanished.

The exposure was sure to come in his first meeting with a clever enemy.
It cannot be expected that a man can become proficient in the art of
war after eighteen months’ superficial training, or after a year’s
service in the militia. In times of peace he leaves all the duty
pertaining to his regiment to his competent non-commissioned staff,
and his sole duty has seemed to be to attend social functions, play
polo, cricket, or ride steeple-chases. The sergeant-majors knew the
work and did it; they attended to the tasks that should have been done
by the subaltern officers; and they performed that work so well that
the regimental business proceeded in a neat and harmonious manner, for
which the officers took the credit. Now comes the time when aptness
in society, polo, and cricket does not cut any figure in the problem
to be solved. Actual war with a keen-witted enemy stares the gorgeous
officers in the face, and they suffer from their own ignorance simply
because, with all their personal courage--and there are no braver in
the world than some of them--they have not learned their most obvious

In days gone by a couple of thousand pounds would purchase a commission
in almost any of the Royal regiments; but that practice has been
abolished for one that is equally pernicious in its effects. Now,
while a man cannot actually purchase a commission in the British
army, almost any young man of position who has sufficient income to
sustain his social rank can obtain the Royal warrant for the asking.
No British officer can support himself on the pay allowed, and he is
not expected to do so; it is largely a matter of income whether or
no a man receives his commission. An English officer is paid about
half as much as an American officer, and his expenses are many times
greater. He must support his clubs, and the stables for his polo,
driving, and riding stock; even the regimental band must be maintained
by a subscription from the officers, which of itself would nearly
exhaust his pay, since the British army does not include any but
field music in its enlistment. This fact alone would make promotion
from the ranks practically impossible, although it is permitted by
the army regulations; but the officer’s tale of necessary expenses
and subscriptions requires such a large private income that it is
absurd for the men in the ranks to dream of rising higher than the
non-commissioned staff.

[Illustration: 1. A Cadet Drill at the West Point Military Academy.

2. Generals Chaffee, Brooke, and Lee reviewing the army in Cuba.]

There is no finer man living than the British officer at home; his
politeness rivals that of the Latin races, and his hospitality could
not be excelled by a Virginian. He entertains in the most lavish
manner, and in time of peace he is an ideal soldier, and merits the
idolatry society gives him. His garrison duties do not require his
attention to the exclusion of any of his pleasures; consequently he
has time to devote to his guests, and he entertains them in a superb
manner. The regimental messes are the most splendid social institutions
of England, and the guest-night of a cavalry or Household regiment
is scarcely outdone in brilliancy at the royal court itself.

[Illustration: 1. Maj. Eastwood, 12th Lancers. 2. Col. Beech, Egyptian
Cavalry. 3. Sir John Milbanke, V. C. 4. Col. Chamberlain, Military
Secretary. 5. A Canadian officer.]

It was expected, however, that officers who devoted so much time to the
honor and appearance of their regiments would at least be proficient in
military science; but, when the supreme test arrived, they were found
lacking, and what the observer in England took for indifference to the
work was in reality ignorance. No one was half so surprised, however,
at the ignorance of the British officer as the British officer himself.
He was not able to realize that he did not understand his profession;
and to this day hundreds of officers do not realize their ignorance,
because so many have not yet had the fortune to be brought face to
face with a campaign crisis sufficiently grave to show them their own

It has been a popular idea that the effect of the South African war
will be to bind the colonies closer to the mother country. But the
ignorance that has been displayed by some of the leaders of the
imperial forces is bound to have its effect sooner or later upon the
colonial dependencies, which heretofore have looked upon the English
officer as a military idol.

For some days after Pretoria was taken, I was much in the company of
officers of the Canadian contingent, and their views of the South
African situation were refreshingly straightforward and enlightening.
I talked with a Toronto captain who wore the ribbon of the Northwest
Rebellion, and who had served with Roosevelt in Cuba merely for the fun
of fighting, and I asked him what he thought of the whole show. He was
a man whose judgment was sound, a man of the kind that we know as the
sound business man of this continent--a character with prestige almost
unknown in England.

[Illustration: British Colonel of Volunteers.]

“Well,” he said, “it isn’t the way we would do it, is it? We colonials
have been taught that nothing we could do could possibly be just right;
nothing we could say could just suit the point; and we are brought over
here and dumped into a country under a lot of officers who don’t know
as much as a child at home would know about the same game.”

[Illustration: Colonel Peabody, U. S. Volunteers.]

Throughout the colonial regiments that sentiment was manifest, for
both the Australian and Canadian forces were volunteers of the same
type that constitutes the United States volunteer army in time of
war. Business men, professional men, and society men--all sorts and
conditions--volunteered from purely patriotic feeling; they each went
from a new country, where every man is to some degree an adventurer.
The same spirit that had sent men to the colonies now sent men to the
war. They are men with intelligence and courage enough to better their
personal surroundings, and consequently are capable of approaching
a situation with daring and executing it with success. While the
colonials were in the field in South Africa, I think their opinions of
the imperial officer took the shape of amusement rather than contempt;
but when they have returned to their homes their derision is bound to
become scorn; for that great respect which they have been taught to
feel is broken, and they have suddenly awakened to the fact that they
of the New World have outstripped the mother country in practicality.

The imperial officer did not hesitate to show his contempt for the
colonial officer; not because he lacked intellect or bravery, or
anything that a soldier should have, but because his social position
was not equal to the English idea. It was the old-time prejudice
against “the man in trade;” for the British society man cannot
understand the spirit and life of a new country, where every man,
rich or poor, of high or low birth, is what they call “in trade.” The
colonial officers felt this treatment keenly, for they soon perceived
their own military superiority; although they did not make manifest
their sensitiveness, they resented the lofty manner of the imperial

There was a most unexpected disclosure of character in the conduct of
many of the British officers who were taken as prisoners of war by the
Boers. A great deal has been said on this subject, and although the
story has been told many times by those who witnessed the exhibitions,
it is flatly denied by nearly all Englishmen, especially by those who
stayed at home.

During the first months of the war the British officers who had been
captured were quartered in the Staats Model Schoolhouse, in the heart
of Pretoria. It is a handsome one-story brick building, built according
to the most approved plan of what a modern school should be. At the
rear is a spacious yard, which served as a place in which the officers
might exercise. It was through this yard and over the side fence that
the war correspondent, Winston Spencer Churchill, succeeded in making
his escape. Some of the officers who had been in the prison at the same
time were very bitter against Mr. Churchill, as they say he anticipated
a plot planned by many of the prisoners by which a large number could
escape. As he escaped sooner than the time agreed upon, it prevented
the others from making the attempt.

The Boer authorities were obliged to remove the officers from the Model
Schoolhouse to the open country, on account of the unbecoming conduct
that some of them displayed towards the ladies of Pretoria who lived in
the vicinity or who happened to be passing along the streets. It is the
extraordinary fact that some of the British officers made offensive
remarks to these ladies, and altogether acted in a disgraceful manner.
They defaced the walls of the building shamefully, cutting it and
drawing all sorts of pictures upon it. An exception to this vandalism
was the exceedingly clever topographical work of one of the officers in
drawing a huge map of the South African Republic and its surroundings.
It was, in fact, so cleverly done that, as the artist had not time
to finish it previous to the removal of the prisoners to their new
quarters, the Boer officials requested that he continue the work,
and allowed him to return each day until it was completed. When the
building was renovated and the interior defacings removed, this map was
allowed to remain, and it will be preserved.

There is absolutely no doubt of this disgraceful conduct of some of
the officers at the Model Schoolhouse, and there is no doubt that
this conduct was the cause of their removal to the outskirts of the
town. It is persistently denied, but it remains a fact, nevertheless,
for instance after instance in proof of it was narrated to me by the
Boers. Indeed, I myself had one remarkable occasion to witness the
discreditable conduct of certain of the officers.

On my way to South Africa I had occasion to stop at Cairo for about
two weeks, waiting for an East Coast steamer; and while at Shepherd’s
I was told that the commander of one of the Egyptian regiments, a
Colonel Kelly, had a son who was a prisoner in Pretoria, from whom
he had not heard for many months. He had been captured early in the
war, and all attempts to communicate with him had proved fruitless.
Colonel Kelly expressed the desire to meet me, as I was going directly
to the Transvaal capital. Consequently I had the honor of a call from
him. He is a magnificent type of the Irish soldier, a man who has
fought in every zone and in every quarter of the British Empire; one
of those men who has cut the pathway of civilization and progress for
the statesman to follow. Colonel Kelly requested me to take a letter
to his son and endeavor to deliver it to him by obtaining permission
from the Transvaal authorities. I took the letter, and the second day
after I reached Pretoria I asked Secretary of State Reitz what course
to pursue so as to obtain permission to deliver the letter. Although
all the officials were extremely considerate and glad to assist me in
what I desired to obtain, it took me several days to get the passes
required in order to see Lieutenant Kelly. Finally, having obtained the
necessary signatures to several papers giving permission to deliver the
letter, I drove out to the officers’ prison, which was about a mile
from Pretoria, on the first slope of the foothills.

[Illustration: 1. Staats Model Schoolhouse, Pretoria, where the British
officers were first confined as prisoners of war.]

[Illustration: 2. Barbed-wire prison, Pretoria, where the British
officers were confined after their removal from the city.]

The prison consisted of a long, corrugated-iron building, enclosed in a
barbed-wire barricade, the ground around the building covering several
acres, sufficiently large for the officers to play cricket, football,
or tennis. The barbed-wire entanglement was about six feet high and
fifteen feet broad, and was constructed as though three parallel fences
were interlaced with innumerable strands of loose wire. There was
never a very heavy guard at the prison, as the impenetrable character
of the enclosure made it unnecessary that there should be more than a
small body of men on watch. A line of electric-light poles followed
the run of the barricade all around the enclosure, and the lights were
kept burning throughout the entire night, making the surrounding area
as bright as day, to prevent escape under cover of darkness. Such a
construction would not have long restrained the type of officers who
were prisoners of war in Libby or Andersonville. The officers were fed
better than was to have been expected under the circumstances, since
for several months the food supply from the outer world had been cut
off from the Transvaal. They were, indeed, receiving every day better
rations than the officers of the Transvaal army themselves obtained.
Their quarters were comfortable, each officer having an iron cot in the
large room, with an ample supply of blankets and linen.

After obtaining permission to deliver the letter to Lieutenant Kelly, I
drove out to the prison. I had not been within speaking distance of the
enclosure three minutes when some of the officers began loud insults.
They did not wait to ascertain why I was there; to them I was merely a
“Yank,” coming there out of idle curiosity. A group gathered around the
entrance of the barricade and called out insultingly to me and to the
Boer officials who were with me, all of whom speak English with but a
slight trace of accent, if any at all. Some of the Englishmen even went
to the extreme of tossing sticks and stones at our party. I made some
comment on this behavior to the commandant in charge at the prison, and
he replied:

“Oh, do not mind them; they always do this sort of thing when any one
comes out.”

Their derisive remarks were particularly pointed towards Captain
von Losburg, a German-American who fought gallantly with the Boers,
commanding a battery of field artillery. Many of them knew him by name,
and among the English officers were a large number who had personally
surrendered to him, and whose lives he had literally spared when they
begged him to cease firing in battle; and yet they shouted insults to
him beyond the limit of endurance. Although his arm had been shattered
by a shell and he wore it in a sling, he told these officers that he
would gladly attempt to thrash any one of them for their language. He
had not brought it upon himself, for he had not said a word before they
began to vituperate him; in fact, the same thing had happened before,
so he came forewarned and endeavored not to heed their remarks. I was
thoroughly amazed, and could not believe that these shameless men held
the Queen’s commission; for in my estimation there is nothing more
unutterably mean than for a prisoner of war to insult the man from whom
he has begged his life. If it had been only myself upon whom they had
poured their torrent of abuse it would not have been so strange, for to
them I was an American who had cast my lot with their enemy; and they
did not know, for they did not stop to inquire, whether I was fighting
or not. It was almost beneath scorn, however, for them to abuse the man
who had so recently befriended them.

When I entered the prison enclosure to meet Lieutenant Kelly, I was
compelled to pass directly through a large crowd of officers who had
gathered about the gate; as I did so I brushed elbows with a number of
them, but their offensive remarks continued until I had passed into the
building and out of earshot. The commandant who was conducting me asked
some of the officers who were standing about for Lieutenant Kelly,
saying that there was a letter awaiting him. A moment later an officer
ran up to me and said, in a manner full of excitement and anticipation,
“I hear you have a letter for Kelly. For God’s sake give it to me, for
I haven’t had a line from home since I’ve been in this place.” I was
about to deliver the letter to him when the commandant stopped him,
saying gently, “I am sorry, Captain, but this is for Lieutenant Kelly.”

Never was keener disappointment pictured on a man’s face, and he
staggered as though he had been struck; but after an instant, making an
effort to recover himself, he half extended his hands with a gesture
denoting resignation, shrugged his shoulders, and simply said, “Oh, I’m
sorry!” and turned away.

[Illustration: 1. Released British officers in Pretoria after the entry
of Lord Roberts.

2. Native East Indian servants of British officers in South Africa.]

A few moments later I delivered the letter to Colonel Kelly’s son, who
was that day probably the happiest man in the prison. He courteously
invited me to remain for a time and meet some of his brother officers;
but after having witnessed the exhibition near the entrance I felt that
I wanted to get away from the place as soon as possible.

Not many days after, the boom of the British guns resounded in the
valley; shells shrieked over the prison and fell into the little
city; and on a day early in June a horde of khaki poured over every
mountain side, from every hill-top, and flowed through the valley from
every direction. Pretoria was in the hands of the British, and these
prisoners were released after many weary months of captivity. There was
a wild scene of rejoicing about the prison, and the captives embraced
their rescuers, fairly dancing for joy at the regaining of their
liberty. That afternoon, in the public square, when Lord Roberts raised
the Union Jack over the State House, five of the English officers
came up to me and apologized for the conduct of their companions in
captivity on the occasion of my visit to their prison.

“It was a shabby thing for them to do,” said one of them, “but then
you know there are bound to be cads in every lot.” I could not help
thinking, however, that there was a singularly large number of cads in
this particular lot, and also of the many tales that I had heard from
the Boers of similar conduct on the part of other English officers when
they were first captured.

My friend, Mr. Richard Harding Davis, went to South Africa in complete
sympathy with the British cause, and joined General Buller’s army,
seeing much of the hardest campaigning on the Natal side. He was fully
convinced as to the rights of the English cause, and equally firm in
his opinion that the Boers were all they had been depicted by the press
of Great Britain. A little later he had occasion to withdraw from the
British forces and transfer his observations to the opposite side. He
did so with the full consent of the British authorities, and without
unfriendly disagreement. He had not been with the Afrikanders very
long before he was persuaded of their cause, seeing how grossly they
had been misrepresented by men who wrote without knowledge of the true
state of affairs, or who wrote in revenge after having been crossed
in some manner by the Transvaal authorities. Mr. Davis saw that the
men of these two South African Republics were not the dirty, ignorant,
bewhiskered settlers that had been pictured, but that they were
clubmen, professional men, and business men of every description and
many nationalities, as well as the typical farmers of the veldt known
to illustrated papers, and they were all fighting in a just cause and
defending their rights against territorial aggression. This was also, I
am safe in saying, the impression of all the correspondents who had the
opportunity of observing the war from the Boer side, no matter how warm
had been their early prejudice in favor of Great Britain.

Mr. Davis went to the war as heartily prejudiced in favor of the
British officers as of the cause of England; but because he has had
sufficient strength of character and love of fair play to change
his sentiments and the tenor of his writing completely, he has been
malignantly attacked for making the same statement that I have
just made regarding the personal conduct of the British officers.
Nevertheless, this statement is a fact that remains absolutely true.
It seems incredible that such demeanor could have been manifested, and
I am free to confess that had I not been a witness I would not have
believed it.

[Illustration: Lieutenant-General N. A. Miles, U. S. A.]

I could not but think of the contrast shown between these captured
Englishmen and the Spanish officers who surrendered during the fighting
in the war with Spain. They were compelled by the fortunes of war to
put themselves in the keeping of the officers of a different nation, a
different race; men whom they had been taught to despise and for whom
they really had a bitter hatred. Yet they could not have been more
courteous had they been guests instead of prisoners. Admiral Cervera
and the officers of his fleet were for a time quartered at Annapolis,
and later in one of the New England sea-coast towns, where they enjoyed
many privileges of recreation and liberty. They met our American women
each day during their term of captivity, and their conduct showed most
conclusively their gentle breeding. When they came in direct meeting
with any of the ladies, they raised their caps with grave respect; in
many cases they were formally presented, and they invariably proved
themselves the gentlemen of refinement that officers are supposed to
be. When they met any of our officers, they never failed to give the
military salute, showing the respect in which they held their captors,
notwithstanding the bitterness in their hearts. Their demeanor, which
won the admiration of all our people, was in marked contrast to that of
some of the British officers towards their captors.

At the beginning of the South African War I was not without a wish
that our government might have arrived at an open understanding with
the British Ministry. After their gracious attitude towards us in the
latter part of the Spanish-American War, it looked as though Englishmen
might be sincere in their friendship. One of the titled staff officers
following Lord Roberts was, to put it very mildly, exceedingly
discourteous to one of the American correspondents whose papers were
of considerable influence upon public sentiment. In discussing the
incident with one of General French’s highest staff officers, I asked
if it would not have been better had this officer been a trifle more
diplomatic and, by a little courtesy, made a friend rather than an
enemy of a man whose writings reached so many American readers. This
officer’s answer struck the keynote of the British sentiment when he

“We do not care a tuppenny damn what any American on earth thinks of

Within fifteen minutes that same officer asked whether America would
not stand by England in the event of a European war.

There is no doubt that the English-speaking peoples should stand
together. But my recent experience at the seat of war, in London, and
at other European capitals, has convinced me, against my will, that
we must be slow in having faith that England is our friend. If the
occasion required she would not hesitate to point her guns towards us,
and her friendship would be turned to hostility in an hour. More true
friendliness towards America exists in Germany or Russia to-day than
in England. There is a serious fallacy in the premise that because
we speak the language of England we are more closely allied to that
country than to any other.

To return from the digression, the army officer of to-day, to be a
complete success, must be exceedingly versatile in his accomplishments.
He must not only be a careful student of the science of war, but he
must also be a thorough business man. He must not only understand
the tactics of attack and defense, but he must be able to tell the
quality of hay and of butter. He must understand weights and measures
as accurately as an ordinary shop-keeper. Real war of this day has a
great deal of everything except fighting. Hundreds of men and officers
go through an entire campaign and never hear a shot fired; instead,
they study columns of figures, great sheets of warehouse returns,
and manifold way-bills of freight shipments. They may worry over the
price of wheat or the weight of live stock on the hoof, but never over
bullets or bayonets. The only orders they give are written on little
slips of “flimsy,” such as you see the station agent hand into the
cab to the engineer just before the train pulls out. The only possible
difference between this sort of an officer and a regular business man
is that the officer wears a uniform and works much harder for less

During the Cuban campaign, and, in fact, ever since, the American
officers have been called upon to perform every duty that man could do;
and, greatly to their credit, they have in almost every case performed
their tasks creditably. When in Havana with General Ludlow’s staff,
for the first five months following the American occupation, I had an
excellent opportunity to see the real worth of the American officer
outside of his fighting qualities. Colonel Bliss was taken from his
regiment and made Collector of the Port, and has performed the duties
of that very peculiar and trying office, with raw clerks, incomparably
better than it had ever been done before. Captain Charles G. Treat
and Major Pitcher sat on the judicial bench and meted out justice in
the police and criminal courts. Colonel Black suddenly found himself
a superintendent of streets and of public works. Major Greble became
the custodian of the poor. In fact, every office, from that of the
governor-general down, in the entire government, was occupied by an
army officer, whose performance of the new duty was more thorough and
practical than could have been expected from most civilians. Not only
were these officers called upon to attend to all matters of ordinary
routine, but they were compelled to restore destroyed records, to
delve into the land titles of the island, and to handle problems of a
delicate nature which would seem to require the study of a lifetime.

[Illustration: 1. General French and staff, South Africa.]

[Illustration: 2. American officers of the Eighth Infantry en route to
the Philippines.]

Not only the officers of the army, but also the officers of the navy,
have had charge of an administration difficult and complicated; and
in every case they have met the requirements of their unmilitary
duty. The great majority of instances where this excellent work has
been accomplished are hidden away in the records of the departments,
and the men will never get the slightest notice for what they have
done--because they did it well.

On this executive side of the modern soldier’s duty the British
officers are also abundantly deserving of admiration for business-like
efficiency. The selections made for civil administration in captured
territory were, on the whole, fortunate. Especial credit belongs to the
Army Service Corps, through whose splendid management the stupendous
task of supply and transportation from the ends of the earth to the
interior of Africa was effected without breakdown. There is, however,
no comparison between the American and the British officers in the
knowledge of their strictly military profession. This is not to be
wondered at when their difference in training is considered. One has
been taught to be a social success, while the other has been trained to
be a man of tempered steel, being compelled to pass at each promotion
an examination of which not half the officers of the British army could
meet the requirements.

[Illustration: General Ian Hamilton in South Africa.]

Until it comes to the critical test, however, the British army gets
along just as well as though the officers worried themselves about the
fine principles of the art of war. It is astonishing how dependent the
officers are upon their men. One morning, while with General French’s
staff during the operations in South Africa, I was waiting for a man
to put the saddle on my horse; being rather impatient, as an action
was expected, I remarked to one of the staff officers standing by that
I would not wait, and so picked up my saddle, swung it on the horse,
and began to cinch it up. The officer watched me in an interested,
half-amused way for a moment, and then said, “My word! but you’re
clever!” I asked what he meant. “Why,” he answered, “you can saddle
your own horse.” “Most certainly,” I replied; “can’t you?” “Well,” said
he, “I suppose I could, although I have never tried, for my man always
does that.” And that man was a cavalry officer.

A signal difference between the English and American officer is that
the former cannot forget his Piccadilly manner when he is in the field;
while the latter, no matter whether he is a regular or a volunteer,
once in the field he is a soldier through and through. There are some
of this type in the British service, but they are few and far between.

One of the most typical soldiers I have ever seen in any service was
Colonel Beech, now a captain of the Reserve, who was for about ten
years commanding an Egyptian regiment of cavalry. He is still a young
man, but he has had more experience in war than usually comes to any
ten men. He has seven clasps to his Egyptian medal, having been in
every campaign waged about the Nile by the British in conquering the
country. He is a man of enormous force, and perfect knowledge of all
branches of military work, and is to-day a better soldier than the
majority of generals who are commanding. He is much the same type of
man that Kitchener is, and naturally, as he was trained in the same

Lord Roberts is also a splendid type of the fine soldier, who has
solved his problems, with all their difficulties, as a master genius
of war. His critics in London contended that he was not severe
enough in his handling of the people of the two Republics. But Lord
Roberts understood the people he was dealing with, and sought to use
conciliatory methods on that account. The present British army and the
present generation in England have been accustomed to exceedingly harsh
measures against their foes, who have usually been of half-civilized
races; measures which were absolutely necessary in order to make any
impression upon the sort of enemy they were fighting. The conditions
during the present war are entirely different, and Lord Roberts has
done all that he could--all any man could do--to bring matters to a
close. It is deplorable that such a magnificent soldier should be
unfairly criticised by those who keep at home. They do not realize that
the prolonging of the war is not the fault of their general, but is due
to the unconquerable spirit of the men whose country they are invading.

[Illustration: Brigadier-General Fitzhugh Lee, United States Army.]

The two wars of the last three years have overthrown a great many
traditions, suppositions, and theories regarding various branches of
military service, both in the navy and the army; and a new collection
of facts now stands in their stead. The American army has been hampered
by the uncertainty of the theory, while the army of the British Empire
has been bound to the traditions of past centuries to such a degree as
to cost immeasurably the lives of thousands of her bravest men, and to
cause a series of useless disasters and defeats, nearly all of which
can be laid almost directly to incompetent officers of the sort that
carry canes on active service and have tea served by body-servants
every afternoon.

[Illustration: Major-General J. R. Brooke, United States Army.]

An Australian war correspondent, Mr. Hales, has recently given his
opinion of the British army in the London _Daily News_. He says: “I
don’t suppose Australia will ever ask another Englishman to train
her volunteers. If there was one British institution your colonial
believed in more than another it was the British army. Their belief
in the British army is shattered. The idol is broken.” He describes
the officers as men “with their eye-glasses, their lisps, their
hee-haw manners, their cigarettes, their drawling speech, their
offensive arrogance, their astonishing ignorance, their supercilious
condescensions, their worship of dress, their love of luxury, their
appalling incompetence.

“Many a soldier I’ve asked why he scuttled. ‘Tommy, lad, why did you
run, or why did you throw up your hands?’ I’d say.

“‘What’s the use of being killed?’ he’d answer. ‘’E don’t know where ’e
are,’ meaning his officer. ‘I’d go anywheres if I’d a man to show me
the way.’

“I believe if Kitchener had been chief in command he’d have shot some
of those officers who surrendered. If the army is to be reformed it
is with this class of young man they will have to start. Let him
understand that soldiering is hard, stern business, and not play. The
average officer hasn’t a mind above golf or cricket. He knows nothing
of drill. He can’t ride. The mounted infantry is a farce. A Boer’s
horse is a part of him. If there is a body of them, and you watch them
through a glass, each man is off, has taken cover and led his horse
away before you can say ‘knife.’ But watch a body of British. They have
to wait for orders before they dismount; cover has to be pointed out
to them; they have no initiative. Napoleon got his officers from the
ranks. Who would make such a good officer as a sergeant-major? Instead
of glory when they come home--glory and guzzling--some of the officers
should get three years--you know where.”

This is what the colonials have begun to think of the imperial
officers, and it is a growing opinion. Let me not be understood to
infer that there are no worthy or intelligent officers; there are
hundreds of them who understand all the details of war thoroughly,
but they are tremendously hampered by the men of the other class.
The British Empire has not the advantage of the great reserve of
leaders, men who, like General Fitzhugh Lee, General Joseph Wheeler,
and hundreds of others, have had years of experience in actual war.
These are the men who are the mainstay of a nation while the younger
generation are getting their baptism of fire.


American and British Tactics

[Illustration: American Officer at Siboney.]

The Spaniards might have done better if they had not been so impressed
with the unknown in the tactics and strategy of the American invaders.
The Boers erred in having too much contempt for the British methods.
After their series of extraordinary victories over superior forces at
the beginning of the war, it was a common saying in Pretoria, “Fifteen
or twenty of you men come up here; a British regiment is coming.” The
echo of this jeer was at the evacuation, when a burgher said to me, as
he swung himself on his pony, “If we only had even terms, like fifteen
or twenty to one, we could lick them; but when they come forty to one
we can’t do anything.” It is a mortal mistake either to overestimate or
underestimate your enemy.

Tactics and strategy extend into technical military science, and can
be treated in nice detail only by expert students. The following
observations are offered accordingly, not from any technical point
of view, but as the witness of one who on the field has watched the
operations of a number of campaigns, and who has tried to see things
not merely as they seem at the hour, but also as they look afterwards.

Tactics are not to be confounded with strategy. Strategy, speaking
largely, is the planning of the thing which an army has to do; tactics
is the manner in which an army does it. The strategy of a campaign
may be carefully planned by the wise men of the War Department or by
the commanding general. It may be infallible on paper; but if the
tactics of the general officers in the field cannot follow the lines
thus laid down, the strategy is a drag anchor on the success of the
army. On the other hand, the tactics according to which the troops are
disposed, moved, and fought may be so unpractical, so poorly adapted to
the conditions of the country and of the hostile force, that the best
conceived strategy will be made foolish.

In strategy the conditions of the Cuban and African campaigns were so
dissimilar that a comparison is less significant than in tactics. The
American War Department planned an invasion of Cuba near Havana. The
spot actually selected was Mariel, a few miles west of Havana. Here,
under cover of the fleet, a fortified camp, as a base of operations,
was to be established, and Havana was to be invested. Admiral Cervera’s
fleet, however, was first to be destroyed, the equipment of the army
gathering at Tampa was to be completed, and the unhealthy summer season
was to be escaped as far as possible by the delay. There seemed to be
no other objective than Havana, for there were over 100,000 Spanish
troops behind fortifications, the strength of which was never known
until they were evacuated at last without a blow. Had those formidable
works been attempted, the carnage would have been more frightful than
the worst of the South African battles.

But the unexpected happened, and changed the entire strategy of the
campaign. Cervera sailed into Santiago Harbor and refused to come
out. To aid the navy in destroying him an army corps was despatched
to Santiago, and the capture of that stronghold, together with the
annihilation of the Spanish fleet, led Spain to acknowledge defeat.
Thus the first strategic plan, which was both correct and costly, was
abandoned in a sudden exigency for a diversion on a small scale, which
turned out to be decisive. In all this development of strategy there
was nothing histrionic; there was only an obvious common sense which
suggests the method of sound business men going at a problem with
determination and yet deliberation, with economy and yet quickness of
adaptation. The first blow of the war at Manila was dramatic enough,
but it was also plain, business-like strategy, which had been for
silent months in preparation; and the final blow in Porto Rico was
likewise very good business. Upon the whole, a survey of the problem
offered by the conditions of the Spanish war reveals a shrewd and
unerring strategy on the part of the United States. On the other hand,
while we came to respect the Spanish in the highest degree as brave
and dutiful men, we cannot regard the strategy of the Spanish War
Office as anything but puerile. Spain saw the war coming before we did,
and she might have put up a far better fight with no greater loss.

In overcoming the Boers Great Britain had a problem of appalling
magnitude. Her soldiers were to be transported from the ends of the
earth to the Cape, and then to march as far as from New York to
Denver before they could reach the enemy’s capital. Their line of
communication was to be guarded in force at every bridge, trestle,
and causeway for the whole of that immense distance. Cape Colony,
the base of operations, was itself almost a hostile country. Three
besieged British garrisons were to be relieved, and they required three
diverging armies of rescue. The keeping up of the soldiers’ spirits
over such a prodigious march, and the maintenance of the trains that
fed them, constituted a problem such as no other army of this century
has had to face. That the War Office in London did undertake it, and
did actually overcome the natural obstacles which were more formidable
than any fighting force that could meet the British in the field,
showed a mental comprehension and perspicacity, as well as a perfection
of organization, that has properly engaged the admiration of every
strategist in Europe. Whatever blunders of tactics in the field were
thrown up by incompetent officers, there was a big, clear brain behind
it all, that knew the immense business, kept it going, saw beyond the
diverging armies, effected a concentration, captured the capitals of
two states, and accomplished military results that seemed impossible.
The strategy accomplishing all this is of the very first order, and is
a power which the warrior nations of the world must take into account.

In the tactics displayed by the American and British armies there is
naturally a more proper ground for comparison than in the strategy of
the two recent campaigns. Strategy is necessarily the variable quantity
depending on combinations of conditions; but tactics, as the immediate
methods of accomplishing the requirements of strategy, are to be judged
by the invariable gauge of practicalness.

The tactics of the American soldier have been the outcome of
generations of Indian wars and of fighting in woods and mountains. Our
colonial forefathers established the general principles of our present
fighting methods when they learned the art of warfare from the natives
of the wilderness. When Colonel Washington saved General Braddock’s
defeated British regulars from annihilation by the Indians, he
employed, in the main, the same tactics we now use. Washington implored
the British general to dispose his men like the pioneer volunteers, as
individual fighters; but the Royal officer disdained to take lessons
from a colonial. The British stubbornness was in the end fortunate for
the colonies, for the American victories of the War of Independence
were won by the common-sense tactics natural to men who had handled
long rifles from their boyhood, and who had learned to hide first and
shoot afterwards. The slaughter of the retreat from Concord to Boston,
the terrible losses at Bunker Hill, the defeats at Bennington and
Saratoga, were the work of men who sighted their foe with the same
precision that they aimed at wildcats, and took as few chances as
possible themselves.

During that war an attempt was made by Washington to introduce the
Prussian tactics into the continental army. Baron Steuben drilled the
raw frontiersmen according to the rules of the Great Frederick, and
the result was unquestionably advantageous, as the men gained military
form and learned discipline. Had the Boers submitted themselves to
such discipline and obedience to commanders, had they been content to
do more “team work” and less determined to fight as individuals, they
might not have lost their positions. But the American continental,
with all his new-fangled discipline, never forgot that he was out to
kill rather than to drill; he was a hunter, and the pomp of volley
firing never led him to waste powder and ball. He kept his head, and
his finger stayed on the trigger until the sights on the rifle had a
perfect alignment on a red coat.

But while the colonial idea of war has ever been a persistent influence
upon the tactics of the army of the United States, the troops of King
George sailed back to England without an idea that their methods needed
mending. Their success against Napoleon was not due to reformed
tactics, but because in fighting quality, man for man, they were better
than the French, and because they had plenty of allies. Barring the
Crimea, the wars of Great Britain since Waterloo have not been against
white men until they attacked the Boers. Whatever adaptations of method
were made in fighting Asiatic tribesmen, the general tactics of the
army in the field seemed to experience no radical change until the
world was horrified to see General Buller charging up kopjes against
magazine rifles and machine guns in not far from the same formation in
which Howe had led his men to slaughter on Bunker Hill.

There was a vast difference between those South African frontal attacks
at the beginning of the war and the charges up the hill of El Caney
and San Juan in Cuba. The American assault was sanguinary enough, and
the resistance was more desperate than that offered by the Boers. But
had the blue shirts marched up in columns of fours, or swept up in the
old-fashioned line of battle of the Civil War, the carnage would have
turned to annihilation. They scattered, they abandoned all formation,
they crawled, they sprinted from one poor shelter to another; they
knew what the Mauser rifle would do, and they adapted their offensive
tactics to it.

On the other hand, the traditions of Waterloo and Balaklava prevailed
at Spion Kop, Colenso, and along the Tugela and Modder rivers. To “get
in with cold steel” seemed to be the ruling thought among the officers
during the terrible first months of the campaign.

[Illustration: Boer fighting men watching a British flanking movement
during the battle of Pretoria, while building defenses.]

But the lesson was learned, eventually, that the long-range rifle,
with its incessant fire and the Boer precision of aim, required a
complete change in offensive operations. After the disasters to Buller
and Methuen the tactics developed into operations more creditable from
a modern point of view. With the advent of Lord Roberts, flanking
became the feature of the British advance. The Boer forces have never
been of sufficient strength to withstand a flanking movement by the
British; they have always been compelled to withdraw whenever the
flanking columns reached a point that would menace their retreat. When
the British came into Pretoria, the officers and correspondents all
complained of what they called lack of pluck in the Boer as a fighter,
as shown in the operations north of Bloemfontein; but in no instance
at that part of the campaign did they have an opportunity to defend
themselves against purely frontal attack, like those in which General
Buller made himself conspicuous for his fatal old-fashioned tactics.
Lord Roberts’s army was in sufficient strength, so that he could employ
a main force of infantry and artillery of from 30,000 to 40,000, and
could send out flanking columns, of cavalry and mounted infantry with a
few horse batteries, of about 10,000 each.

Thus, when a Boer position was developed, the main advance took an
artillery position at long range and maintained an incessant shell
fire, while the mounted troops were sent out on either flank in an
attempt to cut off the retreat of the burghers. As soon as these
flanking columns reached a certain point from which a junction of the
two forces might be made, the Boers were compelled to withdraw, in
many cases without firing a shot. Sometimes this column of cavalry or
mounted infantry would be fifteen or twenty miles away on their flank;
but owing to their admirable signal service and their perfect scouting
they were able to keep informed as to the enemy’s whereabouts, and
at the last moment, just before a junction was made to cut off their
retreat, they would slip through. Cronje’s capture at Paardeburg was
due to the fact that he misjudged the movements of the troops on his
flank. His officers begged him to retire, but he insisted on holding
the position one day longer. That delay of one day proved to be fatal;
on the next morning he was surrounded by about 40,000 of the enemy,
with overwhelming batteries. After twelve days of the most heroic
defense, when his ammunition was expended, and the action of the heat
on the dead bodies in his laager made it intolerable, he was compelled
to surrender. That was the only time the British succeeded in capturing
any large number by the flanking movement, although they always
succeeded in preventing any serious opposition to their advance.

The country which has been the scene of operations in South Africa
seemed designed by nature for defensive operations. In the Orange Free
State the veldt stretches away for miles and miles, broken by single
kopjes and short ranges of mountains, from which a sentinel can note
the approach of a hostile force in the far distance. In the Transvaal,
although the country is more broken, it is easy to watch the enemy’s
approach; and with the excellent signal service of the Boers it has
been practically impossible for an advancing column to surprise the
defending force.

The drifts or fords of the rivers were the most serious difficulty
that had to be overcome by the British in transportation of their
wagon-trains and artillery. By long action of the water in the rivers
they have been cut deep, so that the descent from the ordinary level
of the country to the bed of the stream is at most places very sharp.
Strangely, there was no attempt, except at the railway bridges, to
improve in any manner these difficult fords, although in many cases an
hour’s work by a company of engineers, or by any kind of a company,
would have saved many hours’ delay in the transportation.

[Illustration: British soldiers pulling army wagons across a drift.]

I stood at one ford for over three hours, watching the passage of a
wagon-train which might have been taken over in a single hour had the
bed of the river been cleared of stones and rocks, as would have been
done by the first American officer to pass that way. The water was
not more than eighteen inches deep, and the obstructing rocks could
easily have been picked up by hand, and a way cleared by a dozen men.
Instead of that, a long wagon-train was taken over, with every wheel
in the train in jeopardy, and with a total wrecking of two wagons. At
some drifts the descent into the river and the ascent of the opposite
bank was so steep that the animals had to be assisted by a company of
men with a long rope attached to the wagon, to ease it down and haul
it out. This was the regular custom at a drift within twelve miles of
Pretoria, where there was every facility for bridging, and where a
company of sappers could have constructed a span in a few hours that
would have stood during the rest of the occupation of the district.

At the foot of San Juan hill, in Cuba, there was a ford of a river
where the bottom was perfectly hard and smooth, and after the barbed
wire entanglements laid by the Spaniards had been removed, it could
have been used without bridging and without any serious loss of time.
But as the river banks were steep the engineers quickly threw a span
across, using the thick bamboo which abounds in the jungle; and this
adequate bridge allowed the men to be sent forward on the advance in
better time and in better condition. Similar tactics could have been
employed at many passages in South Africa that would have greatly
assisted in the operations, but for some reason, and at great cost,
they were neglected.

In the use of the balloon the British showed high proficiency and
effectiveness throughout the entire campaign. The huge silken bag was
attached to a heavy wagon, and was drawn, fully inflated, by a span
of thirty or forty oxen. The successful use of this auxiliary was
facilitated by the open nature of the country. The information obtained
thus was exceedingly valuable to Lord Roberts during his advance
towards Pretoria. Not only, however, is it a material advantage to a
force to possess this direct method of getting information, it also
has a certain moral effect upon the enemy that is in itself powerful.
This is somewhat similar to the effect that a heavy artillery fire
has upon well-intrenched infantry; the shells are not apt to hurt
anybody--indeed, a heavy artillery bombardment of field intrenchments
is usually as harmless as a political pyrotechnic display, except for
the trying effect on the imagination and nerves of the men who are
being fired at. But the Boers were bothered more by the balloon than by
ballooning shells.

[Illustration: Boer artillerists waiting under shell fire for the
British advance.]

One day I was lying in the Boer trenches under an exceedingly heavy
artillery fire, which the burghers did not mind more than a hailstorm.
They were well under cover of the _schanzes_ which they had built along
the ridge of the kopje, and they were calmly awaiting the British
advance, smoking and chatting in nonchalant fashion, without a trace of
nervousness. Suddenly some one spied the balloon as it slowly rose in
front of us, and its apparition created a perceptible consternation for
some moments. This agitation was not fear, for the Boers knew perfectly
well that danger was no more imminent than before; but the thought that
the enemy from whom they were concealing themselves could see them as
perfectly as though the mountain were not there certainly got on their

The work of the balloon corps was valuable in that it could discover to
the artillery the position not only of the fighting line, but also of
the reserves and of the horses, and of the line of retreat. The mid-air
observer before Pretoria found and pointed out the range of the railway
line leading towards Middleburg, by which the retreat was being made,
so that the naval guns began to shell the line, hoping to break it
by a lucky shot, or to disable a train. As it happened, however, the
trajectories did not strike the narrow lines of rails, but they did
cause the American Consul, Mr. Hay, some inconvenience, as they filled
his consulate full of holes, though he kept on calmly at his work;
finally a sympathetic neighbor sent over his compliments and suggested
that they have tea together in the lee of his house; everybody else in
that vicinity had fled.

But if the balloon was an important feature of tactics in South Africa,
it cannot be said that the Americans in Cuba made a brilliant success
of it. The balloon before Santiago proved a boomerang, since the
officer in charge was a trifle too enthusiastic and too anxious to keep
his toy on the firing line. The advance towards San Juan hill was made
through a jungle through which only one road led by which the troops
could move forward. Just below the hill along the military crest of
which the Spanish trenches were built, the undergrowth stopped, leaving
an open area several hundred yards wide across which the final charge
was to be made. The regiments moved forward along this narrow road, and
deployed as best they could through the undergrowth. The reserves were
held at a fork of the river, about half a mile back, huddled together
in a very small space. Just in front of the reserves was an open
ground. Thinking only of the balloon’s convenience, but thoughtless
of the danger to the reserves, the signal-service men planted their
apparatus here and began to inflate the mounting bag.

As soon as the balloon was prepared it was ordered into the air, and
instantly it became the target of the Spanish artillerists. It was hit
several times, though without apparent effect; but the shells that
missed it broke into the crowds of the reserves. Shell after shell
found that unseen target, killing and wounding large numbers. Thus
the Spaniards inflicted their greatest injury upon our troops without
knowing they were doing so. Aides were rushed forward to get the
fatal thing somewhere else; but it was already winged and sinking to
the earth. After that melancholy fiasco it was folded away and not
used again. This unfortunate blunder should not, however, be permitted
to discredit the use of the balloon in our army. The notable success
of the British in operating it, and its helpfulness to them, amply
demonstrate its practicality.

[Illustration: The battle of Pretoria, June 4, 1900; Boer guns in
action; British advance along the first range of hills.]

The tactics of Lord Roberts at the capture of Pretoria were badly at
fault. The taking of that city was attended by a glaring military
blunder unexpected from that great leader. It seemed to be the
commander’s only idea to get into the town and to occupy it, rather
than to cut off the enemy’s retreat and capture him. The advance was
made along the road from Johannesburg, the main force being composed
almost entirely of infantry and artillery. The customary flanking
movements were commenced. Hutton’s division of mounted infantry swung
around one flank for a short distance. French’s cavalry division
started around the other flank, but did not get very far before the
fighting ceased. It happened that General Botha had not defended
Pretoria, and the action that lasted during the entire day of June 4th
was merely a rear-guard action, to cover the retirement of the main
force. Consequently, no matter what course Lord Roberts might have
pursued, he could not have captured more than 1,500 prisoners. But the
British commander did not know the state of affairs in Pretoria,
and was led to believe that he would be opposed by the concentrated
commandoes of General Botha and General de la Rey. Had such been the
case his tactics would have allowed the escape of the entire force,
as they did allow the slipping away of the rear guard. Had the field
marshal delayed the attack of the main body for another day, or even
two days, and allowed his mounted troops to get well into the rear, he
could have cut off the retreat of the burghers. Instead, his premature
frontal attack in force compelled them to retire under the cover of
darkness long before their flanks were even threatened.

The miscarriage seemed like another case of British superciliousness
towards their foe, which has repeatedly cost them so dear. After
Bloemfontein the Boers had been kept so on the run that, to some minds,
the employment of costly strategy on the part of the British might seem
needless. They were in such tremendous force compared to the number of
Boers opposing them that they rolled down over the veldt, a flood of
khaki, irresistible in power. If they were opposed at one point of the
advance, they merely kept on marching either side of the threatened
position, until the flanking movement compelled the Boers to withdraw.
The British did not seem to attempt actually surrounding and cutting
off the retreat of the Boers, but were content with merely driving
them back. The inadequacy of this plan was clearly manifest after
Pretoria had been reached, for the force of their enemy was not in the
least broken. On the contrary, the burghers showed conclusively that
they were the strategic masters of the situation. Nothing but their
masterly movements saved them from defeat and capture early in the
war; and after Pretoria, when the London press began to call the Boers
guerrillas, wandering brigands, and outlaws, there was just as clever
strategy shown in the manner in which the Transvaal and Orange Free
State leaders handled their men as though a mighty army had been at
their command.

I asked General Botha why he did not concentrate all the forces in the
field, so that he could make some decided stands. He answered: “We
have talked the matter well over, and have made a definite form of
campaign for the remaining portion of the war. Should we gather all our
fighting men together into one force we could undoubtedly make some
very pretty fights; but there would be only a few of them, for with the
overwhelming force against us they could soon surround any position we
could take, and there would be an end to our cause. As it is, we will
split up into four or five commands, continue operations independently
of each other, but keep absolutely in touch, and confer on the general
plan of campaign at all times. It took your colonial troops seven years
of that sort of work to gain independence against the same country,
and we can do the same thing. We can fight seven years without being
crushed, and should we gain our independence at the end of that time
we would consider the time well spent.”

General Botha pointed to the facts that his troops were in better
condition and had greater resources than Washington’s ever had; that
there was more accord among his burghers than there was among the
American colonial troops; and that, more important still, the entire
population of the country was in absolute sympathy with the cause. This
shows why a campaign can develop into what the British call guerrilla
warfare and still be a part of a splendid strategical plan. In my mind,
the operations in South Africa cannot be called guerrilla warfare
so long as the Boer commands of 3,000 or 4,000 men move on regular
marches, with heavy and light artillery, baggage-trains, and assisted
by signal corps. From these commands small detachments are sent out for
the various duties of blowing up a bridge or a culvert, attacking a
force sufficiently small in number, or capturing a supply train. All of
these operations are done under a system of regular order, and are not,
as the British reports would lead us to believe, the work of mere bands
of robbers or outlaws.

The strategy shown in these movements, and, in the main, the tactics
and their execution, have been of a superlative order, although not
developed from military text-books, but rather from the natural brain
of a lion-hunter. It is to be regretted that more of the movements
have not been chronicled, so that the military world might have been
benefited by a study of these operations.

The facts that at last the British overwhelmed the Boers with their
inexhaustible supplies of troops, and that the general strategy
of the campaign proved successful, do not justify their careless
tactics in the routine of the campaign. If matched against a larger
and more aggressive army than that of the Boers, this characteristic
carelessness might have been very fatal.

Here is a curious instance of this inexplicable heedlessness. The
first important engagement after the occupation of Pretoria was the
battle of Diamond Hill, about sixteen miles north of the capital, and
it was fought by Lieutenant-General French, who commanded the cavalry
division. His command had been very much weakened by drafts upon it
for duty about army headquarters in Pretoria, so that he did not have
more than 3,000 men at his call. This cavalry command, with a few guns,
went out to ascertain the position taken by the retreating burghers.
They found them strongly entrenched on a range of hills commanding the
valley through which the British were to advance. The battle lasted
three days, the fighting going on all that time. General French told
me, on the third night, when we were at dinner, that it had been the
hardest fight he had had during the campaign, and that he doubted
whether he could hold the position until noon the next day, when Lord
Roberts had promised him reënforcements.

General French was surrounded on three sides with what he said was
an overwhelming force of the enemy, _and yet he did not station any
pickets or outposts even on his headquarters camp_. Captain Beech
brought a wagon-train into the center of the camp, through the lines,
without so much as a challenge. The bitter cold of the high veldt
kept me awake that night, and about three o’clock in the morning I
heard horsemen riding through the lines. They took no especial care
to keep their movements secret, so I imagined them to be friends,
but lay waiting for the expected challenge. None came, and the party
of horse rode nearer and nearer until it came quite up to General
French’s headquarters, near a little farmhouse. Dawn was just breaking,
and in the gray light I recognized Captain Beech as he rode up to
headquarters. Captain Beech is an old campaigner in experience if not
in years, and such negligence of the most ordinary and primary needs
of campaigning seemed to him outrageous. He expressed himself with
highly-colored vehemence.

“Why,” he exclaimed, “the Boers could ride in here and take the whole
outfit, for there isn’t an outpost on the camp; and you are the only
one who heard me coming on with a whole wagon-train.”

It staggers an American to comprehend such a situation; and if the
Boers had had a little energy that night they might easily have taken
the whole command. It is an instinct of animals and birds to have
their pickets. When a herd of deer is grazing on the plains, a few
are always left on the outskirts to watch for danger; when a flock of
birds is feeding on the ground, sentries are left in the trees; but the
ordinary British officer does not seem to share that useful instinct.
I asked one of General French’s staff if it was the custom of all
commands to ignore the necessity of placing outposts, and he said:

“Oh, what’s the use? They never attack at night.”

The fact that they do not make night attacks and are not more keenly
alive to such possibilities does not justify the British neglect of
outposts and pickets. I have ridden in and out of Pretoria at all times
of day and night without once being challenged, although it was well
known at headquarters that the residents of the town were communicating
with the Boer commanders every day. A little Afrikander girl of sixteen
told me as a jolly joke that she had ridden out on her bicycle to see
her father, who had a command in the hills within five miles of the
center of Pretoria. She said that she rode part of the way with a
mounted picket, with whom she chatted as they rode along. An order was
issued by the military governor that every one who wished to ride a
bicycle or a horse, or to drive in a carriage, must get a permit to do
so; and the fair young patriot said that after this it was easier than
ever, for she used the permit as a pass, and none of the Tommies ever
knew the difference.

The conclusion of my observations is that in every-day tactics the
British officer still commits the radical error of taking too much
for granted. This is almost a racial error, for it has always been
his besetting sin to despise his foe and to be surprised by clever
tricks. Herein he is thoroughly unlike the American officer, as well as
unlike his own allies from Canada and Australia. The nimble wit of the
newer countries and the expert training of the West Pointer lead both
Americans and colonials to keep thinking what the enemy may be doing
and to take no bravado chances.

After these criticisms of certain features of British tactics it is a
pleasure to recall a piece of work by the Royal Horse Artillery on the
last day of that battle, which would win the respect and admiration
of every American soldier. Diamond Hill is a very high kopje, rising
directly out of a plain, and from the beginning of the rise it is fully
half a mile to the summit, the latter part of the ascent being very
steep. The sides of the kopje are covered with huge rocks, some of them
ten feet high, and standing in every conceivable position, just as they
rested at the time of a great upheaval that broke the earth’s strata.
It was almost impossible to walk over the rocks, they were so rough and
jagged, yet the officers and men of this battery brought their guns
to the very top of the kopje and commanded the entire valley. It was
a magnificent thing to do, and almost incredible; I never before saw
soldiers bring to pass such an apparently impossible attempt. But it
evidently was not an unusual achievement in that campaign of titanic
labors, for it occasioned no comment.

[Illustration: 1. The Unpicturesqueness of Modern War. In the range of
this photograph of the battle of Diamond Hill the hardest fighting is
going on. Twenty cannon and 3,000 rifles are firing, and two regiments
are charging; but no more could be seen than is shown above.

2. A difficult kopje; two hundred men are hiding behind the rocks.]

Perhaps no better illustration can be given of the new military
conditions which modern strategy and tactics have to meet than a
picture that shows how an actual battlefield looks. During the third
day the fighting had been very severe, and in one place in the line
the British had been compelled to charge a position several times in
order to prevent being completely surrounded. There were eight Maxim
one-pounder machine guns, several Colts’ machine guns, and a large
number of heavy guns in action during the entire day, and at one
time they were all concentrated at one point. I took a photograph,
which shows better than anything else how modern warfare has lost all
picturesque features. This picture shows nothing but a placid landscape
that might have been taken on any farm, instead of which thousands of
men were fighting desperately. At the time the photograph was taken
there was a charge going on, but the khaki clothing makes the men
invisible to the camera. Bullets were singing across the plain like
sheets of rain, and shells were screeching overhead; along the ridge
there was a constant crackling of small arms; but the landscape itself
was as quiet as that of a New England farm.


Feeding the Two Armies

[Illustration: U. S. Officer providing for feeding the poor.]

The most important work of an army is that of the commissary
department, which is the one division of labor that receives the least
credit and no glory. An army might get along without its engineer
corps, or its signal service; it could at least march without guns; but
it cannot move a foot without its full supply of food.

A few days before Santiago fell, General Shafter wired the War
Department that he thought it likely he would be compelled to withdraw.
The despatch was made public in the press; to withdraw meant a retreat,
and instantly a wave of indignation arose against General Shafter. He
was blamed for being weak; he was blamed for allowing himself to be
drawn into a trap; he was blamed for everything that the criticising
public could think of in their resentment. That the American army
should retreat was maddening to the people, for they could see no
reason for such action, except the power of the enemy against them. It
was not the enemy, however, that threatened to drive the Fifth Army
Corps back, nor was it the weakness of the commanding general--it was
a rain storm. The columns had pushed forward toward Santiago as fast
as possible, and so long as the line of communication between the
front and the base of supplies at Siboney was open all went well. But
suddenly it rained, and then all was different. The road was eight
miles of swimming mud, flanked by impossible jungle; a wheel could not
turn in it, and the pack animals could flounder through it but slowly.
Hence the supply of rations at the front began to dwindle away, and
General Shafter decided that he must move his army toward the food
supply, as the food supply could not move toward the army.

Lord Roberts was confronted by the same difficulty in South Africa,
and he met it in a masterly manner. The army supply corps that handles
the commissary department has been a marvel of efficiency. The work
of supplying the British army in the field in South Africa has been
done much better than the same work was done by the American force at
Tampa or in Cuba; and had it not been for the brilliant management
of Colonel (later General) John F. Weston, who was in command at the
base of supplies, General Shafter would certainly have been compelled
to withdraw from the positions that had been won after hard-fought
battles. Colonel Weston ignored all forms of the regular routine; his
one object was to feed the men on the fighting line, and feed them he

One day I heard one of his officers complaining that he could not
get some of his papers receipted, showing a delivery of rations to a
certain brigade, and Weston answered, in a characteristic manner, “Damn
the receipts! You give rations to anybody who wants them, and after
it’s all over I’ll receipt for the whole bunch; and if the government
doesn’t like it the government can have me--but the men won’t go

Every time I had an opportunity of going to the supply depot I secured
all the tobacco I could buy to give to the men at the front. It was an
article worth more than its weight in gold, and there was no greater
pleasure than to have the chance of making some of the men happy. There
was a regulation against allowing one person to purchase more than a
pound of tobacco at one time. I asked permission of Colonel Weston
to be allowed to buy more; but he was loth to sell it to me until I
explained that I did not use it myself, but wanted it for the men.
After my explanation he would not sell it at all, but gave me all I
could carry. During this time the government held his receipt for all
this tobacco, and it really was equivalent to so much money. Colonel
Weston’s contempt for governmental red tape saved hundreds of lives in
the Santiago campaign; and instead of asking for an accounting for the
lack of receipts, the Washington government made him the head of the
subsistence department, where he has done the best work in rationing
our army at home and in our island possessions that has ever been known.

Before the change in the head of the commissary department was made,
things were not so well done. We cannot do better than to look toward
England for some valuable points in the conduct of this department,
especially in the matter of army supplies for the warmer or tropical
countries. They have had more experience than we in feeding their
forces on foreign service, and consequently they have brought the
business to a state that borders on perfection. In strategy, fighting,
and the movement of troops they have been found lacking; but one of the
things they have done well is the feeding of their men.

It is a colossal business to supply over 200,000 healthy men, with
field and mountain appetites, when they are 7,000 miles away from
home, and where there is an active enemy seeking to destroy their
communications. It would be a great task to feed that number of men
at home, where there is no difficulty in transportation; but when a
month’s time must be occupied for the delivery of the food stuffs, the
problem becomes most serious.

[Illustration: Camp of a transport train in General French’s supply

The quartermaster’s department of the British army has to provide the
rations for the men and forage for the animals; besides this, it is
called upon to furnish the transportation of the food stuffs, as well
as of the army itself. The paymaster’s work is also included in this
department. After the quartermaster’s department has put the supplies
on the ground, it falls to the lot of the Army Service Corps to deliver
it to the various commands in the field.

The Army Service Corps is one of the features of the British army which
American authorities would do well to study. It is an armed and drilled
commissary corps, of about 4,000 officers and men, which handles the
entire work of that branch; but it is a fighting corps as well, when
occasion requires. This last feature is of great value, in that it does
away with the necessity of a detachment of men being drawn off as a
special guard for every wagon or two. The Army Service Corps acts as
its own convoy where only an ordinary one is required. When on home
duty, it presents a spirited appearance, with a military aspect fully
equal to that of the artillery. Its wagons and mounts are of the same
type as those of the artillery, and its general equipment is similar.

This corps is one of the few departments that has done well its entire
duty during the South African campaign. The reason is obvious--there
was no theory regarding the appetite of a robust soldier; it was a
solemn fact, just as evident at Aldershot or on Salisbury Plain as
in the field. It has been just as real in Egypt or India during the
past years of peace as at the present moment at the Cape. The British
soldier ate as heartily when he was fighting fanatic dervishes as when
he fights the Boer; consequently that department was not compelled
on the field to test antiquated methods or to experiment with new
theories, only to find them wrong.

The system that England works upon is the establishment of a base of
supplies at home, situated at Woolwich, where the government supply
depot was established for the especial purpose of meeting the demand
of an emergency in case of war. At this depot supplies have been kept
ready for shipment to the front at a moment’s notice. They are all
packed in cases, the heaviest of which weigh one hundred pounds, while
the majority weigh from thirty to eighty pounds. These cases are of
convenient size for rapid transportation in the field, and they are so
packed that it is not necessary to open them until they are issued to
the consumers.

Cape Town was made the secondary, or field base, where all supplies are
shipped as fast as they can be loaded on ships; and it is necessary
to keep an extra supply of rations and forage sufficient for the
consumption of every man and animal on the field for three months,
at least, and as much more as it is possible to accumulate above the
amount used. Should this reserve stock be called upon, the men would be
put on shorter rations until it was an assured fact that the delay in
the arrival of fresh supplies was overcome.

The reserve stock consists of 5,000 tons of canned beef, 5,000 tons of
white flour, 5,000 tons of hard bread, 90 tons of coffee, 50 tons of
tea, 780 tons of sugar, 150 tons of salt, 10 tons of pepper, 1,500
tons of jam, 500,000 gallons of rum, 40,000 tons of oats, 40,000
tons of corn and bran, 40,000 tons of hay. None of this may be used
unless it is absolutely necessary and all other supplies fail. Besides
this supply at the Cape, an intermediate depot was established at de
Aar junction, which is about half way to Pretoria; others were at
Bloemfontein and Johannesburg, and the last one was established at

My first idea when looking through these supply stations was of the
huge part America played in the South African war. One might well
imagine he was in the commissary department of the United States army,
as nearly all the supplies bear the mark of American production. While
I was at the German army manœuvres I observed the same thing--American
farmers were keeping the German army alive; and my first sight of
anything that pertained to war in the South African struggle was a
great pile of cases of the familiar Chicago canned beef, such as we
used in Cuba, on the wharf at Baira, in Portuguese South Africa. I
think the English army could be trailed from Cape Town to Middleburg by
empty cans of what they call “bully beef,” each one with the Chicago or
Kansas City label.

“I didn’t know America was so large,” said an officer to me one day,
“until I saw so much tinned meat down here.”

That same “tinned meat” from Chicago will do more to command the
respect of every European nation towards the United States than all the
battleships we can float. They have realized what it would mean to
attempt to feed an army without the assistance of America.

[Illustration: A base of supplies at de Aar Junction.]

Many shiploads of supplies came directly from American ports to the
Cape, not only of food stuffs, but also of horses, mules, and cattle.
It involves more to supply the animals of an army than to feed the
men themselves, for the quantity that is used by a mule, horse, or
ox is much greater than that required by a man. Each horse has to be
given twelve pounds of hay, twelve pounds of oats, and a pound of bran
every day. The mules receive ten pounds of oats, six pounds of hay,
and one pound of bran. The oxen are usually turned out to graze, and
find sufficient food in the veldt grass; when that is not abundant,
they receive about eight pounds of hay, but no grain. A large amount
of “mealies,” as American corn is called, is used in lieu of oats or
other grain, although in many cases the horses will not eat it, being
unaccustomed to it. It is always best to feed the animals on the
product of the country from which they come, if possible, as they do
not understand and will not eat strange grain. The native pony which
I rode in South Africa would not touch the plentiful oats, although at
one time he was without proper forage for several days.

The use of spirituous liquors has been established in the British army
many years, and the issuance is still carried on in the same manner
that it was years ago. I do not think there is as much tobacco used
in the British army as in ours, although I have nothing but personal
observation to judge by in the supposition; but the Britisher wants
his “grog” in the army quite the same as in the navy. The issue is
about half a gill of rum per day. The quality used is of the very best
known, and it comes from a stock bought by the government in Jamaica
about forty years ago. The last of that old supply is now being used.
The use of liquor as a part of the ration in the British army is
almost as old as the army itself, and although it has been fought by
the prohibitionists for several years, it still continues. There is
not enough issued to cause any intoxication, and the use of the amount
which the men receive undoubtedly works effectively against drinking
to excess. A man naturally wants what he cannot have, and if he is
denied the use of liquor he immediately craves it, and to satisfy that
craving he takes too much. While in the field or at Cape Town I saw but
one soldier under the influence of liquor; this occurred in Pretoria
on the day of the formal occupation; he had celebrated the event too

There has been a great outcry in the United States against the army
“canteen” as having a bad influence over the soldier. If the people who
rail at this establishment will look at it in a proper light they will
see that instead of increasing drunkenness it has a direct tendency
to decrease it. Some men drink to excess whenever they get a chance,
and such men always will do this, for alcoholism is a disease, and its
victims will always find the opportunity to get drink. Others are quite
satisfied with a single drink; but they want that one, and they will
have it. If they cannot find it at the post they will go where they can
obtain it, and that means in some saloon, where the temptation to take
more is far greater than at their own canteen. Not only is the desire
less in the post canteen, but should a man become intoxicated in the
least degree no more would be served him; while if he were in a public
house he might keep on drinking as long as he could stand up against
the bar, or as long as his money held out.

In the British army the use of large quantities of jam is supposed to
prevent, to a degree, the craving for liquor, and consequently it is
issued to the men regularly. Tea is also a part of the British ration
that is never used in the American army, as our men do not want it. The
American soldier laughs when he hears of British troops in the field
being served with afternoon tea; but its use is so universal in the
British Empire that the men crave it as our men crave coffee.

The British soldier in the field is better fed than the American, and
he has more variety; but to obtain that variety of food costs time, and
in consequence the troops move much slower than ours do.

The rations of the South African army were in marked contrast to those
of the Fifth Army Corps during the Santiago campaign. We got bacon,
hard bread, and coffee, and very seldom anything else. Occasionally
tomatoes in cans were issued to us, and sometimes sugar; but the three
staple articles just mentioned were all we were sure of, and all we
wanted. The volunteers suffered somewhat, because they did not know how
to cook these simple rations so as to make them acceptable; but the
regular, who had lived on them many times in the West, was satisfied
and asked nothing more. The tomatoes were issued in gallon cans, and
naturally were exceedingly difficult to carry if the regiment was
moving rapidly.

I recall that on the day when the battle of Guasimas opened, General
McKibbin’s brigade was encamped near Siboney, and we were ordered to
go into action on General Young’s right, as it was known the enemy
was in front of us in force, and it looked as though a general battle
would ensue. The brigade was ordered on the road just as some rations
had been issued, and in the issue were these large cans of tomatoes.
The men could not carry them, and so were compelled to abandon them. I
waited until the regiments had moved out, and then watched a crowd of
Cuban “soldiers” gathering up the cans, as well as a lot of blankets
that some of the men had thrown away. I allowed the Cubans to gather
a goodly lot, and then ordered them to carry the stuff on the march
forward, and later in the day, when the regiments had halted, our men
got their rations back. It is almost useless to issue food in large
packages to men on the march, for they cannot possibly carry them, and
the food is wasted. It is not the custom of our commissary department
to do this, but for that Cuban campaign the government bought all the
food supplies that could be found, regardless of the covering.

The further task of putting rations on the firing line, or at the
extreme front, is a prodigious difficulty. The railroad is used as far
as possible, and then wagons and pack animals are brought into play.
In South Africa the transportation was exceedingly crude. All sorts of
wagons and carts were brought into service; everything that rolled on
wheels was promptly commandeered. Ox-wagons, buckboards, Cape carts,
grocery wagons, and even private carriages were a part of the long line
of vehicles. The ox-carts and great trek-wagons were chiefly used for
commissary supplies, but they were so heavy as to be unsuitable for
the work. An ox-cart was drawn by a span of sixteen or twenty animals,
while the army wagon was drawn by ten mules. This was almost twice
the number necessary, and the superfluous stock greatly delayed the
operations, for it could not carry much more than its own feed. Those
mules were much smaller than our big army mules, but six would have
been ample for any ordinary load. When more are used, there is a great
amount of energy lost. Pack-mules were almost unknown, and they are
never used in South Africa as they are always used in the army of the
United States. One of our trains of forty mules can carry much more
than forty mules can pull, and with far greater ease. The pack-train,
moreover, can go anywhere, over any sort of roads or treks, even into
the firing line itself, with rations or ammunition; while a wagon must
have a good road or it will be compelled to turn back.

In our trains the mules are not bridled, but are taught to follow
the lead of a “bell-horse,” an animal with a bell around its neck,
and either led or ridden by one of the packers. Wherever that bell
goes, the other mules will follow, regardless of obstructions or
anything else. In my judgment, nothing can compare with the pack-mule
for transportation in the field. Wagons are useful as long as there
are good, hard roads to follow; but enemies have an unpleasant way
of going away from the roads into hills and mountains, or across
trackless plains, and there is where the mule is not merely valuable,
but absolutely essential. These pack animals can keep up, not only with
the infantry, but also with fast-moving bodies of mounted troops. The
“packers” of the American army are civilian _attachés_, but they are
a very essential part of the force. They are nearly all men from the
West, and are generally of the cow-puncher stamp, afraid of nothing,
not even of work. These packers did some of the most heroic work
during the Santiago campaign, although they never got any credit for
it, and are seldom mentioned in despatches. They are to the army what
the stokers are to the navy--the very means of life; yet bound to go
on doing that hard, undistinguished work, with no applause from the
great unthinking public. They are never seen in parades and reviews,
yet to them belongs a great portion of the credit for these displays.
The packers of the army are accustomed to go into the very firing line
to deliver ammunition. It is indeed a memorable sight to witness these
men in action, and to watch their indifference to the danger that is
singing about their heads. Very picturesque are these Western packers,
with their happy abandon and their oblivion to worry. They wear no
uniform, they have no regiment to be proud of; they are just plain,
good-natured, hard-working civilians of the great West. The only arms
they carry are their own Colts, just as they carried them in New Mexico
or Montana.

One day, when the fighting was at its height in front of Santiago, a
pack-train came up to the line with a welcome supply of rations and
ammunition; and after the boxes had been dumped on the ground, and the
men were prying the lids off with their bayonets, one of the packers
strolled up to the trenches and drawled, “I ain’t had a crack at a
greaser since I left the reservation, so here goes.” He stepped out on
the embankment, in full view of the enemy, and emptied his six-shooter
towards the little low city in front of us. As the Spanish trenches
at this point were fully a quarter of a mile away, his pistol did not
produce a panic among them, but he enjoyed his prank.

[Illustration: An improvised commissariat cart in South Africa.]

“Well, I reckon I must have got four out o’ that six,” he remarked, as
he began to reload.

“You’d better come down out of that, or one of the other two will get
you,” called a soldier.

“Get me!” he said contemptuously; “I never see a greaser yet that could
hit a bunch o’ steers in a corral.”

He was becoming the target of the entire Spanish line, and drawing
their fire; so an officer ordered him to get down, and told him at the
same time that if he wanted to shoot he might borrow a rifle.

“No,” he replied; “I ain’t got no time to monkey ‘round here, for I got
to get some grub up, or you-all don’t eat.” And off he went, telling
the other packers how he had “done up half a dozen greasers.”

If the British army had had a goodly number of Kentucky mules, the big
sixteen-hands sort, instead of the little donkey wagons they did have,
they would have saved several months of their campaigning. One of those
big mules can carry all day as heavy a load as he can stand under; then
if you remove the pack-saddle and let him have a roll, he is fresh
enough to keep going all night. Not only are they equal to heavy loads
and long hours, but they can go longer than a horse without forage.

The British army has an emergency ration that is said to be very useful
in case of extreme need. Each man and officer carries one in his
haversack, and the men are not allowed to open them, except by order
of an officer, or in case of absolute need when no officer is near.
This emergency ration consists of a tin can, shaped something like a
pocket-book, five inches long, two and a half inches wide, and an inch
and a half thick. It is divided into two compartments, one containing
four ounces of concentrated beef, known as pemmican. The whole weighs
about twelve ounces, and the label on the case informs the soldier
that the ration is calculated to maintain strength for thirty-six hours
if eaten in small quantities at a time. I never ate one of them, but I
have heard some of those who have say that they could eat half a dozen
of them and still feel empty. They do not satisfy hunger, but merely
sustain strength.

Another ration, prepared by a firm in England, consists of a species
of stew of beef, potatoes, carrots, and gravy; it makes an exceedingly
good dinner, one can being sufficient for two men for one meal. It may
be heated easily in the can in a few moments, as it is already cooked,
and it could, if occasion demanded, be eaten cold. General Weston has
been sending a similar ration to the soldiers in the Philippines, put
up in convenient shape, with rounded corners to the can so that it may
be carried in the pocket.

In many respects the usual rations of the British and American armies
are very similar, but the latter army uses much more bacon than the
former, which uses much more fresh beef.

The British military authorities always study out a ration for a
particular campaign, and then issue it according to the different
climates and zones. Major Louis L. Seamen, who has seen a great deal
of military service in every part of the world, has devoted much study
to this subject, and he claims that there is nothing more important in
army subsistence than this adapting the ration to the temperature.

The ration adopted for the campaign in South Africa is:

  1 lb. canned meat.
  4 oz. bacon, as a change from meat.
  2 oz. cheese.
  1 lb. hardtack instead of 1-1/4 lb. bread.
  1 oz. chocolate instead of tea or coffee.
  1/2 oz. coffee, 1/4 oz. tea.
  3 oz. sugar, 1/2 oz. salt, 1/3 oz. pepper.
  1/64 gal. rum, 4 oz. jam, three times each week.
  2 oz. condensed pea soup.
  2 oz. rice instead of 1 oz. dried vegetables.
  1 oz. dried vegetables.
  1 oz. lime juice.
  1 lb. fresh meat.
  1-1/4 lb. bread.

The ration of the United States army is:

  20 oz. fresh beef or mutton.
  12 oz. pork or bacon.
  22 oz. salt meat, when no fresh meat is issued.
  14 oz. dried fish, when no fresh meat is issued.
  18 oz. pickled or fresh fish instead of fresh meat.
  18 oz. soft bread, or
  18 oz. hard bread, or
  20 oz. corn meal.
  16/25 oz. baking powder, when necessary in field to bake bread.
  2/25 oz. beans or peas, or 1-3/5 oz. rice or hominy.
  16 oz. potatoes, or 12-4/5 oz. potatoes and 3-1/5 oz. onions; or
  11/15 oz. potatoes and 4-4/5 oz. canned tomatoes; or
  16 oz. fresh vegetables.
  1-3/5 oz. coffee, green; or 1-7/25 oz. coffee, roasted; or
  8/25 oz. tea.
  2-2/5 oz. sugar, or 16/25 gill molasses or cane syrup.
  8/25 gill vinegar.
  16/25 oz. salt.
  1/25 oz. (black) pepper.
  16/25 oz. soap.
  6/25 oz. candles, when oil is not furnished.

The American army also has what is called a travel ration, issued on
any transportation where it is impossible to cook more than coffee. It
is also often used on quick marches, as it is a short but sufficient
allowance. It consists of:

  1 lb. hard bread.
  3/4 lb. canned beef.
  1/3 lb. baked beans or tomatoes (canned).
  1/8 lb. coffee.
  1/15 lb. sugar.

It was this ration that we used throughout the Santiago campaign, save
that most of the time we had bacon, instead of canned beef, and we very
seldom got the beans or tomatoes. I found it adequate for the entire
time, even with all the hard work we went through. No one found fault
with it, except some of the volunteers, and they were dissatisfied with
the ration because they did not understand how to use it to advantage.
A regular soldier can make about fourteen distinct dishes with that
ration, each one very palatable.

There was considerable trouble over the complaints raised by the
volunteers, and it developed into the “meat scandal” that has furnished
jests for the comic papers ever since; but these difficulties are bound
to appear in every campaign. I did see some meat in Cuba that was not
fit to eat; but, on the whole, the meat supply was very good when one
considers the haste in which it was purchased and the climate where it
was used.

England has had her difficulties in the same form, but her people do
not make such an outcry as was raised in our newspapers. Early in the
South African war the troop-ship _Arawa_ sailed from Southampton,
and before she got to sea it was discovered that her cargo of meat
was spoiled. She put back, and the entire lot, amounting to fifteen
thousand pounds of English and colonial beef and mutton, was dumped
out on the dock--a “very unwholesome mess.” The mutton was green,
and in a bad condition; as soon as the port health officer saw it he
ordered it to be taken to sea and dumped, which was promptly done. Had
this occurred in America during the Spanish war the newspapers would
probably have demanded the instant removal of a few officials. In
England, however, the only comment in the papers was that “the incident
was the one topic of conversation at the docks yesterday, and military
men were highly indignant about it.”

Before closing the subject of rations it is necessary to speak of the
commissary department of the Boer forces, if I may use this phrase
regarding a department that does not exist. Among the Boers each man is
his own supply corps, finding his rations wherever he can, and in what
quantity he can. It is marvelous what a small amount these burghers
can subsist upon while carrying on active operations. During an action
near Pretoria I was lying on top of a kopje, watching the advance of
the British forces, while they kept up a heavy shell fire. About one
o’clock I felt hungry, so I opened my haversack and took out a loaf
of bread and a piece of beef weighing perhaps a couple of pounds.
Near me was an old, white-bearded Boer, who must have been at least
seventy-five. After I had been eating for a few moments I noticed that
he had no haversack, and so asked him if he would not have a bit of the

“Have you plenty?” he asked before accepting.

I said that I had, so he took the loaf and broke off a very small
piece, handing the remaining portion back. I told him that he might
keep it all, and also gave him some meat. As soon as he had assured
himself that I had more, he called to a couple of boys near by, and
they came over, accompanied by other boys. He divided the loaf and
meat, and it served for the full day’s rations for five fighting men.

“I had some bread yesterday,” said the old man, half apologetically,
“but I have not had time to get any to-day.”

“Will you have a drink?” I inquired, as I unslung my canteen.

“Water?” he queried, as though afraid I was going to offer him
something stronger.

The British people at home have taken comfort in assuming that, as no
supplies can get to the Boers, the war will be brought to a speedy end.
Deluded people! So long as there is a trek-ox and a sack of mealies
in the Transvaal the Boers will be sufficiently supplied to carry
on the war. They carry no store wagons, they issue no rations; but
occasionally an ox is slaughtered, and each man hangs up a piece of the
beef until it is dried. He sticks that into his pocket, with some bread
made of corn, if he cannot get better, and he is perfectly content.

I asked General de la Rey where he expected to get his supplies after
he left Pretoria, and he remarked quietly, as if without humorous
intention, “Oh, the English are bringing in enough for both armies.”

[Illustration: A soldier with three months’ provisions.]

He had warrant, too; for I know of many cases where, as the supplies of
a command were getting low, they went out and captured a wagon-train or
a supply-train on the railroad, and replenished their larders. General
de Wet has kept his commands for many months in rations, clothing, and
other necessaries of war from the supplies of the enemy.

When the Boers went into a town, they never commandeered anything
without paying cash for it, and in this matter they were far too
lenient. I was sitting in the Transvaal Hotel in Pretoria one evening
when a command of about forty men rode up. The commandant came into
the office and asked the proprietor if he would give the men a meal;
they had been marching since early morning without anything to eat. The
man in charge (the proprietor, being an Englishman, had fled at the
beginning of the war) asked if they could pay for the entertainment.
The officer replied that they did not have enough money to pay the
regular price, but that he would give all they had and would pay the
rest later. The hotel man told him roughly that he was not running his
place for fun, and that he could not feed the soldiers unless paid in
advance. The commandant walked slowly out and told his burghers what
had been said, and they wheeled their horses about and continued their
march through the town, supperless. I do not believe there is another
people on earth that would have done the same thing, and allowed that
money-grasping hotel man to go on serving meals to men who were too
cowardly to fight for their country, or to foreigners who had deserted
their cause, but who happened to have enough money to satisfy his
exorbitant demands.

Many of the burghers went out of Pretoria on the last days with
scarcely enough to keep them alive, simply because they had no money,
and they would not take by force even a portion of the stores piled
high in every shop. The forbearance of these simple people was almost
past belief.


The Railroad in Modern War

[Illustration: Major Burnham, the American Chief of Scouts for Lord

Railways are undoubtedly one of the most important factors in the
wars of to-day, and after some campaigning my first idea of war is a
railroad for a guide. Day after day the advancing columns follow the
broken iron pathway with the twisted rails and wrecked bridges as signs
on the trail they are following. At the same time the retreating force
rolls comfortably along in well-working trains, blowing up everything
behind them as soon as they are ready to evacuate a position.

After returning from South Africa I spent much time reading in the
London press of the various engagements that I had seen, or had learned
about from those who had seen them. Nearly every despatch said that
“the enemy was completely demoralized,” or “the enemy retreated in wild
confusion.” As a matter of fact, there was at no time any confusion
whatever on the part of the Boers, and the retreats were the most
orderly and methodical affairs that can be imagined. If there was no
railway for use, the men merely mounted their horses and rode away as
though there were no really pressing reason for their going and that
any time would do. Even when the British advance was within striking
distance, the same calmness was displayed. When there was a railway
communication, which was generally the case, trains were brought up,
and the burghers entrained their mounts and their guns; and when
everything was ready, they pulled out to the next place selected for a
stand. The women occupied the first-class carriages, and if they did
not fill the seats, the men shared them; but the men did not seem to
feel much preference between a passenger carriage and an open truck. It
was always an orderly, good-natured crowd, which apparently, except for
the Mauser slung across every shoulder, might have been returning from
a county fair.

The retreat from Pretoria was possibly an exception, as there was
then great excitement throughout the city; but even in this case the
agitation was among the people of the city, and not among the fighting
men. They continued in their usual quiet, indifferent manner, while
many of the non-combatants were almost panic-stricken. The commandoes
preferring to make the retreat towards Middleburg by rail gathered at
the station and attended to the entraining of their mounts as though it
were a matter of no importance whether they got away or not; and yet
at that time it was thought that the British were but a few miles away.

To be able to control the railway means everything to an army,
especially when it is operating in a hostile territory. All things must
be sacrificed to protect and maintain the line so as to allow the safe
transit of trains; and to that problem the British were compelled to
devote most of their attention; the burghers sought chiefly to destroy
their plans, as they were not of sufficient force to control any great
portion of the railways.

The defense of railroads did not enter into the Spanish-American War
on either side, as the territory covered by the operations in Cuba was
too small for them to be of vital importance; but owing to the vast
territory under military operation in South Africa they have been a
factor of prime importance. If the Boer commanders had had less respect
for property, and had destroyed every piece of rolling stock that they
could not use, they would have been more successful; but instead of
that they usually abandoned it all, and allowed the enemy to take it,
enabling him in every case to use it immediately for the transportation
of supplies and troops. A torch would have prevented this many times,
and would have been the proper and legitimate method to be used;
but, thinking of the loss to some of their own people, they allowed
the British to take everything. Some commandants even argued against
blowing up the bridges. The Spaniards knew the value of the fire-brand
at Daiquiri, for when General Shafter’s army was preparing to land
and begin the advance on Santiago, the invaders on the transports saw
the thick smoke of the burning buildings curling skywards; and when we
landed, about two hours later, we found the station and engine-house a
mass of smoking embers, surrounding the burned ruins of every engine at
that end of the line. Had the Boers shown more inclination to do as the
Spaniards did in this instance, they would have been far better off,
and would not have left miles of railroad and thousands of pieces of
rolling stock with which their enemies operated against them.

[Illustration: The old and the new military bridge at Modder River.]

The maintenance of the rail communication between the base of supplies
at Cape Town and the head of the army was the most difficult problem
that the British were called upon to solve during the South African
War; and there was nothing more essential to the successful operations
of the troops than the freedom of this line. It was the main artery
from the heart, through which the life-blood of the army flowed, and
to check it, even for a few hours, meant suffering and hardship to the
troops at the rail terminus, while to break it for a week or more would
have caused ruin to all plans of offensive campaign.

The guard to protect this communication must be strong enough at every
point to repel any attempt to destroy the line; and to maintain this
guard means the constant use of thousands of troops who may never hear
a shot fired, but who are more essential to the success of the campaign
than the soldiers who are doing the actual fighting. If this vigilance
should be relaxed for an hour, one of their enemies could do enough
damage with a single stick of dynamite to embarrass the troops very
seriously, perhaps cause a wreckage that would take a hundred men a day
to repair, even if it were merely on the ordinary line; but if they
should get at a bridge the damage could not be repaired in a week.

As the burghers retreated before the British advance they destroyed
all the bridges on the lines of retreat in a most effectual manner by
the use of high explosives, in many cases leaving hardly one stone
above another. On the line from Cape Town to Pretoria the spans over
the Orange, Riet, Modder, Vet, Vaal, and Zand rivers, besides many
others, were destroyed, so that it took weeks to repair them; and in
all cases the British were compelled to build deviations of the line
going around the banks of the rivers, and by gradual descent into
the bed of the river and then up the opposite bank. Nearly all the
river beds of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal are very deep,
with perpendicular sides. Their depth is so great that it is quite
impossible to cross at any point except by the railway bridges and the
regular fords and drifts. One may ride almost to the edge of the river
before realizing that there is a stream in the vicinity. The laborious
difficulty of spanning these deep gorge-like river cuts makes it
necessary that a large body of troops be detailed to guard each bridge
or line deviation. The railways must be maintained or the advance must

[Illustration: Defense of a line of communication in the Transvaal.]

There is a striking contrast between the methods of our government and
that of the various European powers in the treatment of practical
problems regarding the mobilization of troops in time of peace.
There is not a state of the Old World so small as to be without
its manœuvres, and as the great agency the railroad facilities are
carefully studied. It has been a huge military oversight on the part
of our government to fail to provide for an occasional mobilization
of troops, and for their operation in the field as one body. We have
never had an army of sufficient size to warrant any such manœuvres with
the regular force alone, but the National Guard regiments should be
included in this sort of work just as the militia regiments of England
are every year made a part of the Aldershot manœuvres. It has been
argued that our distances are too great to justify such an extensive
plan of peaceful operations, but that very reason should be the
incentive to our government to appropriate sufficient funds to carry on
the work. It would be a simple matter indeed were the operations of our
forces confined to as small a territory as those of England, France, or
Germany; but when the sudden call of troops means a mobilization from
many quarters and a journey of several days, to leave the problem to
the last moment before solving it is indeed a perilous hazard and one
that is incredibly irrational.

In France and Germany every goods carriage is marked on the outside,
showing the exact number of men or horses that it will accommodate for
military transportation; every division of the railroad accounts each
day to the Minister of War for the number of cars on the tracks that
may be used for military purposes. Such minuteness would be, of course,
an unnecessary extreme for this country; but we do need a practical
relation existing between the War Department and the railroads, by
which the brains, as well as the stock, of the various systems might
be drafted at any hour into strict military accountability. Moreover,
we need a national instruction for the National Guard. The States
should give to the War Department authority to mobilize and temporarily
control their militia in time of peace; and then the Department should
be provided with means to mobilize both State and Federal troops of
a certain territory, making the territory as large as possible, so
that the number of regiments would be sufficient to be of use in the
instruction regarding transportation. Such a mobilization would be of
most signal value, even though the encampment lasted only the briefest
time, as it would enable the officers to become accustomed to rail

Just before the war with Spain the First United States Infantry was
stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco; and when war seemed
inevitable, that regiment was ordered to Tampa. It was the first body
of troops to be moved, and although no great haste was necessary,
there was considerable difficulty in getting the command properly
entrained. This was due to no fault of the field officers; they knew
what should be done, but the staff department did not understand the
necessary office work which it entailed. When the men were finally put
on board, they found themselves in tourist day-coaches, without any
sleeping accommodations, although they were to cross the continent.
The time occupied by the journey was longer than necessary, because
it was necessary to stop twice a day long enough to give the men an
opportunity to cook rations. A portable cooking outfit, to be used
in an ordinary baggage or freight car, should be supplied to each
regiment; most of the stops could then be avoided, the trip be made
in nearly half the time, and the comfort of the men would be greatly

Just such an apparatus was attached to a troop and hospital train upon
which I made the journey from Pretoria to Cape Town, and it was quite
a successful arrangement, although it was merely an improvised one.
That was a journey of six to eight days at that time, and as every
delay meant a certain block in the traffic, stoppages were out of
the question; but with this rolling kitchen those on the train were
supplied with hot rations. The floor of the car was covered with thin
sheet iron or zinc, to prevent the car from catching fire, a large
water tank was fitted in one end, and next to it was a water boiler
of considerable capacity. The stove was an ordinary house range made
fast, and if, owing to the motion of the train, it was not a complete
success, it is another illustration of the value of preparedness before
the very moment of need arrives.

The carrying capacity of our railroads far exceeds that of England or
of any other European country; our cars are larger and our engines more
powerful. With better facilities at command, the problem is simple, but
we need practice in the work. The War Department already knows how many
cars each railroad carries, how many may be used for military purposes,
and just how many men and horses they will accommodate; but a military
use of some of them should be made occasionally as an essential
manœuvre. The regular officers know at least the ordinary management
of trains for soldiers, but that cannot be said of the officers of the
militia which is to be used in time of war, and they should be fully
instructed in these matters in time of peace.

Armored trains are little better than amusing until the inside of them
is spattered with the blood of good men sacrificed to a theory. Then
the amusement ends and the court of inquiry begins. The character of
the country in South Africa is all that could be desired for the use of
armored trains, especially in the Orange Free State, where the great
veldt makes a low horizon on all sides, and the level country is broken
only by an occasional kopje rising unexpectedly from the great plain.
An advance can be made with as much safety over this country as any
that could be chosen, and yet an armored train did not succeed at any
time to an extent that would make it advisable to continue its use.

[Illustration: Canadian transport at a difficult drift.]

Several of these trains were fitted out in Cape Town and at other
points, and none lacked anything in construction which could make
them a success. They consisted of an engine and two open trucks, one
in front and one behind, all very heavily armored with sheet steel or
iron, and in some cases hung with chains and heavy ropes as an extra
protection. The trucks were loopholed for small arms, and each train
carried one or more machine guns. The vitals of each engine were as
well protected as was possible, and the entire machine was painted
either khaki or battle-ship gray. As long as it was safely guarded
at Cape Town it was a remarkable invention; but when it attempted an
advance towards the enemy’s country, the trouble began. The keenest
watch failed to discover a trace of any foe, and mile after mile of
track they put in their rear without discovering a living being until
they concluded to retire. Back they went until suddenly they came to
a broken bit of track, a rail removed, by which the train was brought
to a sudden halt. Then from hidden foemen poured a storm of shot and
shell. There were but two alternatives, death or surrender.

[Illustration: Cape carts with British officers’ personal luggage;
nearly every officer had one of these carts.]

All that is required to capture the invading train is thus to allow
it to pass quietly on, then to remove a single rail or to place some
ordinary obstruction on the track, and wait for its return. A few
instances have occurred where the armored train has escaped when
flanked by columns of troops, but as a rule it has proved thus far a
useless and dangerous experiment, usually resulting in the death or
capture of all on board.

[Illustration: A British transport train on the veldt.]

No features of the campaign are more interesting than the attempts to
cut the lines of communication or to blow up a bridge or a culvert, and
one of the most daring deeds of the South African War was done by Major
Burnham, the Californian who acted as chief scout on Lord Roberts’s

Major Burnham received his training in the Apache country in the
Southwest from those Indians who are masters of the world in following
a trail or informing themselves as to the whereabouts of their enemies.
Twice was Burnham captured by the Boers and twice he made his escape.
In both cases he was wounded, the last time seriously. He worked night
and day for the army with which he had cast his lot, and when he was
ready to leave for home, he came away with a letter from the field
marshal, written with his own hand, in which he stated that Major
Burnham had done him greater service than any other one man in South

When the advance of the British forces came within striking distance
of Pretoria, Lord Roberts found it necessary to have the line cut just
east of the town in order to prevent the retreat towards Middleburg
by rail. Burnham started to do it, taking with him a small patrol of
men for assistance. They made a wide detour to avoid meeting any of
the commandoes, which were now moving in the same direction. All went
well with him until he had gone half way around and was about to turn
to the north to find the culvert which he intended to destroy, when
he suddenly met a large commando coming directly towards his party.
A running fight followed, in which his horse was hit, throwing him
heavily, and he was seriously injured. The rest of the party escaped,
but he was made a prisoner, and not being able to walk, he was put into
a wagon under a guard of four men, two riding in front and two behind.
The vehicle was one of the large trek-wagons, drawn by a span of
sixteen oxen and driven by a Kaffir boy, who divided his time between
the front seat of the wagon and walking beside the span. Major Burnham
had made up his mind to escape at all hazards, and so until night
he lay in the wagon making plans. The moon was almost full, and the
night was so bright that the difficulties of an attempt to escape were
greatly increased. During the early part of the night the Kaffir driver
kept his position on the front seat, thus preventing any experiments by
the captive. He was just considering an attack on the black boy when
something went wrong with one of the leaders, and the boy jumped down
to remedy it. Seizing the opportunity thus afforded, Major Burnham
climbed out over the seat, down on the disselboom or tongue of the
wagon, on which he stretched himself flat between the oxen of the first
span, swung himself under the disselboom, dropped into the road, and
allowed the wagon to pass over his body. As soon as it had passed he
rolled quickly over and over into the ditch, and lay perfectly quiet
while the rear guard passed by, wholly unconscious that their prisoner
had escaped. The khaki uniform which Major Burnham wore made this
little bit of strategy possible, for had he been in dark clothes his
body would probably have been seen by the guard, who rode along within
twenty-five feet of him.

As soon as the two Boer soldiers had passed to a distance which allowed
no chance of discovery, the Californian picked his way up through the
rocks to the side of an adjacent kopje, where he remained hidden for
some hours. For a well man to have accomplished this feat would perhaps
have been a simple matter, although it took a daring mind to conceive
it; but for a man in Major Burnham’s condition to go through the
mental strain and physical torture of such an escape was a remarkable
performance, and it received its proper praise from both Briton and
Boer. There is no man living who so admires true courage and pluck, or
who so despises a coward, as does this hardy farmer-fighter; nor does
he bear resentment towards a man who, like Major Burnham, fought only
for the love of war.

After spending several hours among the rocks, without food or water,
and in the bitterly cold night air of an African winter, the scout
began to drag himself towards the railroad to accomplish the task he
had first set out to do. Strangely enough, when he was captured he was
not searched, and he still carried in his tunic a dynamite cartridge
ready for use. During the entire campaign Major Burnham never carried
arms of any sort, and when he was taken, his captors, not seeing any
weapons about him, probably thought that he had nothing about him of a
dangerous character. For more than two miles he dragged himself over
the rocky veldt until he finally reached the railroad, along which he
crawled until he found a culvert. Upon this he placed the cartridge,
with a fuse of a sufficient length to allow him to crawl to a place of
safety. He destroyed the line, and accomplished the task he undertook,
although it nearly cost him his life. He was picked up by a British
patrol late that afternoon, almost dead from exposure and the effects
of his wound, and was taken to the hospital, where he was confined for
a fortnight before he could even walk.

[Illustration: Canadian transport at a difficult drift.]

This achievement is one of many performed by this same brave American
during the war. Major Burnham is without doubt an exceedingly clever
man on the trail; he does not know fear, and his one idea is to
accomplish his end. But that does not entirely indicate the reason
for his high place in the confidence of Lord Roberts; it rather comes
from the fact that Englishmen know nothing of the wonderful arts of
the men of the plains; and when a man is able to tell them the number
of cattle in a herd, and the number of men guarding it, or the number
of men in a commando, and the condition of their horses, merely by
examining the ground over which they have passed, they consider it
little short of a miracle. Neither the officer nor the private soldier
has had any of the training of the latent faculties which is so
thorough among the officers and men of our army.

The value of a stick of dynamite is sometimes more precious than that
of gold in war. As the Transvaal is a mining country, great quantities
of this explosive were easily obtained, and, accordingly, despite the
heavy guard, the line of communication was often broken; in fact, so
frequently was the railroad destroyed that Lord Roberts was heavily
embarrassed during his first month in Pretoria for provision and forage
for his troops. Hardly a day passed without the line being cut at some
point. Finally, in the hope of preventing further interruption of his
railroad line, Lord Roberts issued the following proclamation, the
terms of which were about as cruel as could be devised:


    Whereas, small parties of raiders have recently been doing wanton
    damage to public property in the Orange River Colony and South
    African Republic by destroying railway bridges and culverts, and
    cutting the telegraph wires; and, whereas, such damage cannot be
    done without the knowledge and connivance of the neighboring
    inhabitants and the principal civil residents in the districts

    Now, therefore, I, Frederick Sleigh, Baron Roberts of Kandahar
    and Waterford, K.P., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., V.C., Field
    Marshal, Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty’s Troops in South
    Africa, warn the said inhabitants and principal civil residents
    that, whenever public property is destroyed or injured in the
    manner specified above, they will be held responsible for aiding
    and abetting the offenders. The houses in the vicinity of the
    place where the damage is done will be burnt, and the principal
    civil residents will be made prisoners of war.

                    F. M.

A few days later it was followed by another proclamation, even more


    Referring to my proclamation dated Pretoria, 16th June, 1900,
    I, Frederick Sleigh, Baron Roberts of Kandahar and Waterford,
    K.P., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., V.C., Field Marshal,
    Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty’s Troops in South Africa, do
    hereby declare, proclaim, and make known that, should any damage
    be done to any of the lines of railway, or to any of the railway
    bridges, culverts, or buildings, or to any telegraph lines or
    other railway or public property in the Orange River Colony,
    or in that portion of the South African Republic for the time
    being within the sphere of my military operations, the following
    punishment will be inflicted:

    1. The principal residents of the towns and district will be
    held, jointly and severally, responsible for the amount of damage
    done in their district.

    2. In addition to the payment of the damage above mentioned, a
    penalty depending upon the circumstances of each case, but which
    in no event will be less than a sum of 2s. 6d. per morgen on the
    area of each farm, will be levied and recovered from each burgher
    of the district in which the damage is done, in respect of the
    land owned or occupied by him in such district. Furthermore,
    all receipts for goods requisitioned in such district on behalf
    of the military authorities will be cancelled, and no payment
    whatsoever will be made in respect of the same.

    3. As a further precautionary measure, the Director of Military
    Railways has been authorized to order that one or more of the
    residents, who will be selected by him from each district,
    shall from time to time personally accompany the trains while
    travelling through their district.

    4. The houses and farms in the vicinity of the place where the
    damage is done will be destroyed, and the residents of the
    neighborhood dealt with under martial law.

    5. The military authorities will render every facility to the
    principal residents to enable them to communicate the purport of
    this proclamation to the other residents in their district, so
    that all persons may become fully cognizant of the responsibility
    resting upon them.

            (Signed)   ROBERTS,
              F. M., Commander-in-Chief,
                           South Africa.

I say these proclamations were cruel, because they struck the innocent
for the doings of the guilty. War is essentially merciless, but these
orders made it unnecessarily infernal. The reason given for the
burning of farms near where the line was cut was that such work could
not have been done without the knowledge of those who lived in the
vicinity; but that reason was wholly untrue, for in some cases farms
were burned and destroyed several miles away from the railroad--in
fact, not even in sight. How could it be expected that the occupants
of a farm several miles away could know what was going on while they
slept? I know of cases where the same damage has been done to the
railroad under the very noses of British sentries put there to prevent
it, and yet Lord Roberts assumed that the occupants of the farmhouses
must know all that went on for miles about. On the majority of the
farms there were only women. They and hundreds of other innocent people
who had no hand in the railway destruction, although their hearts were
undoubtedly with the cause, were made homeless by the torch.

[Illustration: The Guards and mounted infantry at Pretoria Station.]

The drastic measures taken by the British have reacted against them.
One of the principal obstacles in the way of ending the war has been
that the homes and farms of the greater number of the burghers in the
field were destroyed, and there was nothing left for them to do but to
fight. Outside of this wholesale burning, the British policy has, in
most instances, been very liberal indeed towards the residents of the
territory occupied; they have in most cases paid high prices in cash
for everything that was needed for the use of the military, and the
people have not been annoyed any more than was absolutely necessary for
the good of the operations of the army; but these two orders stagger
belief. They were not mere threats, but were actually carried out to
the letter, and are still in operation. The one most damaging blow
that a force inferior in strength can strike is at the enemy’s line of
communication; therefore, so long as the fighting goes on, the railway
will be broken as often as possible. More homes will be burned and more
men will be forced into the field; few farms will be left undestroyed,
and the country is likely to be left desolate of inhabitants.

Thus it is that the railroad plays such an important part in the war
of to-day. The railroad reconquered the Soudan, and will eventually
conquer the entire continent of Africa. It is working down from the
north and up from the south, slowly but surely throwing out its network
of iron, from which nothing can escape. It has reclaimed the great
territory of Siberia as it did our Western plains. It is the mightiest
engine of civilization in peace; it is the very vitals of an army in


Transportation of Troops by Sea

[Illustration: Armament on an American transport.]

When rumors of war crowd upon one another until it seems inevitable,
the State Departments of the interested nations are not more anxious to
anticipate coming events than are the corps of war correspondents who
wish to follow the fate and fortunes of the armies. To be on the spot
when things happen is the secret of their success; but during the past
few years, when wars have been so frequent, it has been hard to decide
where to go. It is not always easy to get there after that decision is
reached, for in recent years war has been carried on in the most remote
and inaccessible places, and many weeks were often lost in anxious
travel before the scene of action was reached.

When I was leaving Havana, just after the American occupation, a young
officer there was ordered to proceed at once to the Philippines.
He packed all his belongings, arranged his departure, and caught a
steamer for Tampa in two hours, bidding only such friends good-by as
he happened to be able to hail from his cab on the way to the wharf.
I met him on the steamer, and all the way to Washington he fretted
and worried because steam could not drive the passenger coaches fast
enough. He feared the war would be over before he could reach the
Philippines; he counted the days until he could get there; he prayed
that Aguinaldo might not surrender until he arrived. I received a
letter from him a short time ago, and he is now praying that the
rebellious leader will surrender; and he added that it was the one
regret of his life that he did not miss that steamer at San Francisco,
as it would have given him two weeks more at home.

In London, last year, a young Guardsman told me almost tearfully that
he was ordered out to South Africa, but that he was sure Buller would
finish up the war before he could get there. More than six months later
I saw him in Pretoria, and he remarked hopelessly that he had come to
the conclusion that he was now a permanent resident of the Transvaal.

Having gone through similar anxieties myself several times during the
past few years, I had a little faith that the Boers would be able to
hold out until I got there, but I naturally studied the quickest way
to make the long journey. I was favored in that the new army transport
_Sumner_ was ordered from New York to Manila, and I secured a passage
direct to Suez. Not only was I helped along on that journey, but I had
an opportunity of studying the new American transport service.

The mystery and awe which always attend a great ship starting on a
voyage across the trackless ocean is intensified when the floating city
is filled with men of war, who are to face death in a far-off land for
their country’s honor; then the interest becomes appealing and tender.
Men who have left home for the front or the post many times before
now leave under new and more unknown conditions. Yet there seemed not
to be an officer on the _Sumner_ who doubted his return to his native
land after winning honor on the field. Already, however, several of
those officers who were my companions across the Atlantic and the
Mediterranean, and many of the men, have given up their lives in the
far East.

One of the most attractive and promising of the officers on the
_Sumner_ was Captain McIniston of the Fourth Infantry, over six feet
of man, and of powerful frame. He had won in Cuba several mentions for
conspicuous gallantry. But he had carried from Santiago the seeds of
tropic fever, which were going with him now. He was appointed, upon his
arrival at the Philippines, to command a little garrison, which the
insurgents immediately besieged in force. His fever developed rapidly
under the exposure and terrible strain of the siege, and at last, when
delirium had usurped his brain, he was shot dead, in a panic, by his
own soldiers--thus dying the most pitiful death a soldier can know.
The comment of the bulletin, “temporary insanity,” gave no hint of the
bravery, dutifulness, and suffering which had produced it, and which
called for a better fate.

The private soldier’s life while on a long ocean voyage is made as easy
and as pleasant as possible by the officers in charge, and the entire
trip is a rest from arduous duty. It is recognized that no serious work
can be done at sea by any man not accustomed to seafaring. A certain
number are detailed for assisting in the preparation and serving of
the meals, in keeping the quarters clean, and in a small guard detail;
but that is all. After the first few days out the men are put through
a regular amount of health exercise, which consists chiefly of walking
and running around the decks. When time hangs heavily, amusement is
ready. The army department of the Y. M. C. A. has been officially
recognized by the War Department, and men are detailed by the
Association to accompany the troops and furnish entertainment which may
occupy their minds. A variety of games, from tiddledy-winks to chess,
is provided, and the man in charge of this valuable work is active all
the day and evening in keeping the men amused. He arranges tournaments
and matches, and gives prizes for the winners. He suggests different
occupations for the idle men, and in this way does an immense amount
of good. The Association also provides reading matter sufficient to
occupy the minds of those who care to read.

An incident of peculiar interest was the visit we paid to the Spanish
garrison when the _Sumner_ stopped at Gibraltar. Crossing the neutral
strip, the American officers, in full uniform, drove into the little
Spanish military town. It was with a natural doubt as to our reception
that we made this invasion. At once the strange uniforms engaged
attention, and then it was whispered and finally shouted that _los
Americanos soldados_ were visiting the place, and the crowds grew
greater to gaze at their former enemies. The salutations were of the
most friendly nature, and there seemed no trace of Spanish animosity. A
bunch of officers invited us to remain for the morrow’s bull fight, and
appeared genuinely sorry that their invitation could not be accepted.
They discussed the Philippine situation with friendly candor, sent
messages to old acquaintances, and rejoiced that they were not going

[Illustration: British soldiers leaving the Sumner after having
exchanged uniforms with Americans.]

At Malta the _Sumner_ anchored only a couple of lengths from shore, and
her cable had hardly been paid out before several boat-loads of British
Tommies were alongside. Then followed an extraordinary exhibition of
fraternization. The soldiers of the two nations examined one another’s
equipment and uniforms and discussed their relative usefulness. They
finally began to exchange buttons from their blouses and tunics, and
before many minutes had passed the spirit of trade took their fancy.
A British soldier would admire the useful campaign hat of an American,
who in return would declare what a good souvenir the “dinky lid” of the
Britisher would make for his family at home, and the next moment they
would swap. Then the trading went into blouses, trousers, and shirts;
at least one entire boat-load of Tommies went back in the full field
uniform of the American army. What afterwards happened to them when
they encountered the strict sergeant the Americans conjectured with

The American colonel, however, put his foot down, and the amusing
episode had to end, for the regiment was going to land for parade the
next day, and there would not have been an entire uniform in the lot
had the men been allowed to keep on exchanging clothes.

The parade on British soil, in the presence of a British garrison, put
the men on their mettle. As the Philippine khaki had not then been
issued, they furbished up their worn blue suits until the uniforms made
an unusually good appearance.

Just before they landed, Captain McCoy stepped out to give them a final
word of advice. It was short, and it expressed what every man was
thinking already.

“Remember one thing, men,” he said; “you are going to be watched every
minute you are on shore by Britishers, so don’t forget that you are

Although the men were nearly all recruits who had never drilled
together, even as companies, they went ashore in a regimental formation
which did credit to our service. Every man marched and drilled as
though the eyes of all the British soldiers about were directed upon
him alone.

The British officers expressed much admiration for the men, and gave
our officers a good many hearty compliments. They were a different type
of soldiers from any they had ever seen; they had none of the fancy
steps or hackney carriage of the European soldier; they were, instead,
plain, solid men in uniform, nothing more; but they had the swing and
the soldierly alertness which stirs the blood with its promise. British
bands furnished the music for the American troops, and the old ground
of the Knights of Malta heard such tunes as “Marching Thro’ Georgia,”
“Rally ’Round the Flag,” and Sousa’s spirited marches, played for the
friendly tramp of the soldiers of the Republic in their first parade on
European soil.

The beautiful transport to which I bade good-by at Port Saïd is
as near perfection as a ship made on this earth can aspire. This
superlative has a right to be used. The people of the United States
have been made familiar with the details of their perfected warships;
they have even more reason to be proud of the superb completeness of
their ships which have been prepared for the comfort, health, and good
cheer of the American soldiers as they sail around the world. From
the dirty floating pens of fever and misery which brought our men up
from Santiago to Montauk, to the cleanly, shining spaciousness and
undreamed-of conveniences of such ships as the _Sumner_, is a far call;
it seems as if a century or two instead of a couple of years had gone

The _Sumner_ is a fair type of all the new army transports now in use.

To begin with, she is well armed with four rapid-firing guns, and
belongs in reality to one of the class of unprotected cruisers. She
would make a formidable foe in battle. Any distrust of the value of
such ships in time of war is dispelled when one remembers the record of
the American liners _St. Paul_ and _St. Louis_ when they were converted
into cruisers; of the dashing _Gloucester_, which won immortality on
a Sunday morning at Santiago--only a light-minded yacht a few days
before; of the stout _Hudson_, a conscript tug-boat, which, under the
command of Lieutenant Scott, participated in the engagement of Cardenas
Harbor, and finally rescued the torpedo-boat _Winslow_ after it was
disabled and helpless under the enemy’s guns.

The transports are, in appearance, regular merchant-built ships; they
are not only armed, but they are fitted with every known appointment
for the comfort, health, and general welfare of the troops. Each man
sleeps in a comfortable bunk built on iron standards, to which are
fastened the springs on which rests a mattress. The seating capacity of
the tables equals the conveying capacity of the ship; yet, as soon as
the meals are finished, the tables may be folded away, leaving a large
deck room for the enjoyment of the men. Bath appliances of the latest
pattern furnish opportunities for cleanliness and comfort not excelled
in garrison. A store gives the men an opportunity to buy almost any
article necessary to their comfort or pleasure. All sorts of food
supplies, of a better grade than are usually furnished, articles of
clothing, games, candy, fruit, and all the ordinary articles in demand,
are to be found in the ship’s store. The prices charged for these
articles are only their cost to the government; and, as the government
buys in large quantities, the shop makes a very economical place for
the men to trade.

The hospital and drug store hold all that is wanted by modern medical
science. There is an operating-room containing every known appliance
useful in surgery; the whole room is finished in marble tiling,
while all the metal work is shining nickel. Here is the electric
apparatus necessary to operations, a Roentgen ray apparatus, batteries
for treatment of certain diseases, and, in fact, all the devices
and mechanisms used in a city hospital. The hospital beds are as
comfortable as could be made on ship-board, all being supplied with
necessary supports, bridges for removing the weight of the bed-clothes,
and tables for the use of the reclining patient.

There is a system of cold storage and ice manufacture which makes it
possible to carry a five months’ supply of fresh food stuffs for a
full complement of troops, so that the transport can take on a supply
of rations at a home port and not be compelled to replenish until it
returns again to America. The kitchens, bakeries, and laundries might
belong to a Fifth Avenue hotel, so perfect are they in every detail.

One of the most important and useful features of this magnificent ship
is the arrangement for supplying a cold-air draft during hot weather.
The fresh-air supply is so forced over ammonia pipes that it is cooled
and then discharged throughout the entire ship. Each cabin, each deck,
and every part of the great vessel receives its supply of fresh air
in this manner, so that even in tropical weather the interior of the
transport is very comfortable. During winter weather the air supply may
be heated to a sufficient degree to create warmth throughout the vessel.

The officers’ quarters are the final model of comfort. On the _Sumner_
there are accommodations for more than sixty officers. Thirteen
bath-rooms belong to them. These baths are the most perfect made by
scientific plumbing; each has a great porcelain tub, with its spray and
shower; each room is done in white marble tiles, with nickel fittings
throughout. There is a large dining-saloon and also a comfortable
smoking-room. In short, every comfort that is known, afloat or ashore,
for both officers and men, is included in these new transports, which
are in all respects a distinguished honor to our government.

In her fleet of splendid transports, of which the _Sumner_ is a
fair example, the United States now leads the world. Indeed, ours
is the only government that has a complete transport service of its
own regularly equipped. The others have a continuous use of hired
transports. The British abandoned their governmental transport service
a few years ago as a failure.

[Illustration: American transport Sumner in the harbor at Malta.]

[Illustration: A British transport taken from the merchant marine.]

The American fleet of transports has been built up entirely since
the war with Spain by the purchase and reconstruction of a number of
vessels from the merchant marine. It grew out of sheer and alarming

When the war with Spain broke out, and it became necessary to transport
General Shafter’s army to Cuba, the government was compelled to use
every sort of vessel which the entire Atlantic seaboard could produce
to get a sufficient number flying the American flag to carry a little
army of 15,000 men a few hundred miles. So serious was the problem
that old side-wheelers were used, as well as a great number of ancient
craft that were barely seaworthy. This humiliating condition stands in
contrast with England’s readiness when the South African War called for
transports. She sent over 220,000 men several thousand miles by sea,
on British bottoms, without making so much as a ripple on the surface
of maritime commerce and traffic. The experience of Japan in her war
against China in 1895 might have taught us a lesson. After her first
army had sailed and landed and fought, operations were practically
suspended for months, as there were not enough ships available to
carry over the second army. But we do not learn our lessons that way,
and we required our own melancholy experience, both in the confusion
of the hired ships off Daiquiri and in their cruel inadequacy for the
broken-down soldiers on the return voyage, to teach us the need of
regular and model transports for our armies across the sea. In view
of this costly experience it seems like an unpatriotic thing for the
private lines now running to Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines to
be engineering a movement to have our proud little national fleet of
transports abolished.

Our transport service is adequate for our present needs, but in the
event of a new war, which might require us to send an enlarged army
over seas, we are practically no better prepared than in 1898; for
there are no more ships in the merchant marine carrying the United
States flag which could be drafted into service than were in commission
then. There are practically no American ships in trans-oceanic service
outside those of the government. During the past year I sailed entirely
around the continent of Africa, through the Mediterranean, touching at
many of the important ports on the route. In all that time I saw but
two vessels flying the American flag. One was a little lumber schooner
from Maine, lying in the harbor of Madeira; the other was a bark, at
Cape Town, over which there was an immense amount of trouble raised
because the crew refused to take her out to sea on account of her
unseaworthy condition. Consul-General Stow was making an investigation
to estimate whether the hulk would float long enough to get back to an
American port, not to be condemned, but to be painted over and sent out
again, a disgrace to the nation. American vessels do not carry five
per cent. of our exports abroad, for what American tonnage we have is
suitable chiefly for coastwise and lake navigation. While England’s
red ensign of the merchant marine is seen over the stern in every port
of the navigable world, to our shame, a ship flying the stars and
stripes is a stranger on the seas.

On the other hand, we pay out $165,000,000 each year to foreign ships
simply to carry our products abroad. We need our own ships for our own
traffic. We may suddenly need them some day for availability in war.

There seems to be but one way in which to build up an American merchant
marine without waiting for another generation. That is to permit ships
to become naturalized. There are to-day hundreds of foreign-built ships
plying to our ports, knocking at the door of the United States to be
admitted under American registry, so that they may fly the American
flag, but because they are foreign-built they are debarred. Men,
women, and children are allowed to become citizens of our country and
to enjoy our privileges; why, then, should we not allow ships to do
likewise? Protection to the home trade of ship-building is the reason
for debarring those who want American registry. We need make no quarrel
with the good principle of protection when we remind ourselves that our
ship-building does not need such drastic measures as that; we build
good ships, and foreign powers are ordering even their ships of war
from our yards. It will be a greater benefit to all our shipping to
allow the flag to be raised over as many vessels as will accept its
protection, and in building up our shipping our ship-building industry
will increase.

It is simply not possible for the United States to acquire, within a
reasonably short space of time, a sufficient shipping to occupy any
important position in the control of the merchant marine of the world
without admitting foreign-built ships. A large amount of American
capital has been invested for some time in foreign-built ships, the
desire of the owners of these vessels being to place them under the
American flag; but they have been prevented from doing so by our
government. It seems only fair that our citizens who have invested
their capital in this way should be in a position to realize the
benefits that would accrue by having them under the American flag,
provided they would agree within a reasonably short time to add to the
tonnage so admitted an equal amount of American-built tonnage, thus
building up a large American marine, and at the same time securing a
large amount of work to the American ship-building interests.

A Shipping Subsidy Bill, not unlike the one so long before Congress
would, if passed, materially help the merchant marine of this country.
It would make it possible for the United States to occupy a leading
position among the shipping interests of the world, instead of its
present insignificant place. To-day it is impossible for the United
States, with its scale of wages and larger amount of compensation to
seamen and officers, to compete with countries where there is absolute
freedom in the employment of help and in the scale of wages, without
some such assistance. In addition to this, the cost of ship-building
in the United States is so much greater than that of foreign countries
that the questions of interest, depreciation, and additional insurance
would make it impossible for the owner of American ships to compete
with foreign-built ships without assistance; and those countries which
have recently built up their merchant marine--notably Japan--have done
so by such help.

The matter of raising the American flag over every good ship that is
willing to fly it most immediately concerns the commercial world; but
there is another side of the question to be considered. So long as we
are friendly with Great Britain we shall undoubtedly be able to borrow
her ships with which to transport our troops or to use as hospital
ships; but if we should ever have any serious difficulty with that
country it would be very difficult for us to obtain a sufficient number
of ships to transport our troops without stopping all trade. We must
remember that most of the vessels of our new transport service formerly
flew the Union Jack of Great Britain. If it is thus necessary for the
United States to buy its ships of a foreign power for this service, our
lack of such material is conspicuous.

[Illustration: 1. The Eighth United States Infantry going ashore for
drill at Malta.]

[Illustration: 2. Colonel Jocelyn and Captain Croxton, Eighth U. S.
Infantry, at Malta.]

An excellent example of the advantage to our interests in offering
our flag to ships that desire it is afforded by the attitude of the
Atlantic Transport Line. That large fleet of steamships is owned and
governed by Americans. Ninety per cent. of the stock is held in this
country; more than half of the officers of the company are Americans.
The owners want the American flag to replace that of England, but
they are unable to accomplish their desire owing to the present laws.
This fleet would be a magnificent addition to the little shipping our
country has at present; not only would it be a valuable addition to
commerce, but it would be of inestimable value in time of war. In fact,
it would be almost like building fifteen or twenty extra transports,
for the line has proved its willingness to turn over its ships to the
government when necessary. The transports _Thomas_, _Sherman_, _Logan_,
_Sheridan_, _Grant_, _Buford_, _Kilpatrick_ were all formerly ships
of the Atlantic Transport Line, as were also the hospital ships, the
_Missouri_ and the _Maine_.

The two new ships built by this line, the _Minnehaha_ and the
_Minneapolis_, are undoubtedly better adapted for use as transports
than any other private ships afloat to-day. They are especially adapted
for the transportation of mounted troops, the most difficult problem
of ocean carriage. These two sister ships are among the largest
afloat, and have permanent accommodations for one thousand animals, so
arranged that a long voyage could be made without any serious loss of
stock. Their freeboard is exceptionally high, and their immense deck
room would allow transportation of many guns and troops. The cabin
accommodations are ample; in fact, if these ships had been especially
built for use as transports they could scarcely be constructed in
a more available manner. They are not as fast as some of the mail
steamers, but they are fast enough to keep up to any convoy, and
what they lack in speed they make up in steadiness. I crossed in the
_Minnehaha_ during the most violent part of the great storm that swept
across Galveston, and although the seas ran mountains high it was not
found necessary to put the racks on the tables save one day, and even
then they were not really needed. The steady running is due to the
broad bottom and the extra wide bilge-keels. If some heavy rapid-fire
guns were mounted on these ships, as they were put on the American
liners, the _St. Paul_ and the _St. Louis_, they would make the best
transports ever seen; they could go almost anywhere without convoy of
warships, and still take care of themselves.

Were it permitted by the laws of this country these ships, as well as
every other of the Atlantic Transport Line, would fly the American flag

Hospital ships have played an important part in the wars of the
past three years, and they have become a necessary adjunct to the
transportation department of the army. All of our new transports are
fitted out with hospital appliances; but separate vessels for nothing
but hospital work have been equipped, and have done excellent work in
both the Spanish-American and the South African wars.

When the negotiations were opened by the United States Government for
the purchase of ships to be used as transports, it was also determined
to fit out one as a hospital ship, to be used with the fleet or to be
stationed at any port which the operations might include. Mr. B. N.
Baker, president of the Atlantic Transport Line, tendered to the
government the choice of his ships for hospital service, fully manned
and free of expense to the government, and furthermore made his offer
to cover the indefinite period of “the continuance of the war.” The
_Missouri_ was chosen as the ship best suited to the work, and she was
found so valuable for this purpose that, after the war, the government
purchased her at an exceedingly low figure.

The _Missouri_ has had a romantic life ever since she has been afloat,
and has seemed destined to be a life saver and general benefactor to
mankind in distress. On April 5, 1889, the _Missouri_ overhauled the
_Denmark_, of Copenhagen, which was in a sinking condition, having
on board over seven hundred souls. The _Missouri_ stood by and threw
her entire cargo into the sea in order to take on this load of human
freight. Not a soul was lost, and the heroism of that day’s work was
rewarded by decorations and medals from nearly every kingdom of Europe.
The insurance companies offered to pay the loss of the cargo, as though
it had been lost by wreck; but the owners would not accept this,
taking the entire loss themselves. In 1892 the _Missouri_ carried the
gift of a load of flour to the famine-stricken people of Russia, the
company furnishing the crew, fuel, and cost of transportation. During
this year she picked up two more ships at sea--the _Delaware_ and the
_Bertha_--and towed them safely into port. There is thus a poetic
fitness that this ordinary freighter, which has been the cause of
saving thousands of lives, should have become a regular hospital ship
in the government service.

In recognition of this magnificent gift, prompted by true patriotism,
Congress passed the following resolution:

    “_Resolved_, by the Senate and the House of Representatives,
    That in recognition of the patriotism and generosity of Bernard
    N. Baker in donating the use of the steamship _Missouri_ to the
    United States, with the services of her captain and crew, during
    the war with Spain, the cordial thanks of Congress are hereby
    tendered to him, and Congress hereby authorizes and directs that
    a gold medal with appropriate design be prepared by the Director
    of the Mint, and that said medal be presented to him by the
    President of the United States at such time as he may determine.”

Mr. Baker repeated his generous offer when he gave the _Maine_ to the
American ladies in London to be fitted out as a hospital ship similar
to the _Missouri_. Lady Randolph Churchill (now Mrs. Cornwallis West,
Jr.) took the matter in charge and worked unremittingly until the ship
was sent to South Africa fully equipped. From October, 1899, to July,
1900, the _Maine_ ministered to the needs of the sick and wounded from
South Africa. Then she sailed for Chinese waters, there to undertake
the nursing of the British and American soldiers alike. All this time
she has been manned, coaled, and run by Mr. Baker entirely at his own

The transportation of troops at sea is a problem of the first
importance in war. The government of the United States has solved
it for the present by purchasing and equipping a fleet of model
transports. Great Britain has solved it by abandoning her former
fleet of government ships and using her immense merchant marine. Her
conspicuous success in carrying promptly and comfortably over 200,000
soldiers to South Africa shows that the resource was ample and that she
fully understands the work. The men in khaki fared well on their long
journey to the south, and the absence of any complaints speaks well for
the staff of the British army which had the task in hand. But the chief
secret of the success was in the fact that there were ships without
limit for selection, and only the best and largest and swiftest were
chosen. At the same time they did not find it necessary to disturb the
transatlantic commerce by drawing off the great liners.

It is not a pleasant comparison when one thinks that Great Britain sent
the greatest army she ever brought together to almost the remotest
quarter of the globe without any apparent effect on sea-going traffic,
while the United States in 1898 had to scrape together every hulk that
would float in order to transport a single army corps a few hundred


The Last Days of the Boer Capital

[Illustration: Mr. R. H. Davis in Pretoria.]

Before the British advance reached Johannesburg one would never have
known, by merely taking note of the life in Pretoria, that a fierce
war was being waged in the country. The ladies went on with their
calling and shopping, business houses carried on their work as usual,
and the hotels were crowded with a throng of men who looked more like
speculators in a new country than men fighting for their homes and

The night I arrived in Pretoria the train pulled into the station just
after dark, and the street lights gave the place an air of mystery. The
blackness of the night heightened one’s imagination of possible plots
and attempted escapes, of spies and sudden attacks. A big Scotchman,
who told me his name was “Jack,” shared the compartment with me; he
was returning from the front, where he had been fighting for his
adopted country. He carried a Mauser, and over his shoulder was slung
a bandolier of cartridges; these, with his belt and canteen, made up
his entire equipment. His pockets were his haversack, his big tweed
coat was his blanket. He gave me the first idea of the real bitterness
of the struggle, for he said he would rather die many times over than
give up to the British. He was fighting against men of his own blood,
perhaps his very relatives; but the spirit of liberty was in him, and
he was defending the home he had built in this faraway land.

As the train rolled around the curve into Pretoria, the Scotch burgher
pointed out a brilliant circle of lights on a far side of the great
group of flickering yellow lamps which showed the position of the town.
The effect of mystery deepened as I peered out at the station platform
and saw little groups of men huddled together in the radius of the
dazzling electric arcs. Here and there a solitary figure with a rifle
walked slowly about. The doors had been locked before we entered the
town, and no one was allowed to leave the train until an official with
a decidedly English air had examined all the passports. I wondered
whether I should be able to make myself understood, and whether, in
case I were mistaken for a British spy, I should be followed by some
secret agent of the Republic. Suddenly a sharp cry at my door broke in
upon my fanciful surmises.

“Free ’bus to the Transvaal Hotel,” shouted a voice from the figure
outlined against the bright light.

“Grand Hotel! The Grand! Grand Hotel!” and in another instant I was
wrestling against an unseen hand for the possession of my luggage.

“Cab, sir? Cab up-town, sir?”

My dream of war’s mysteries was shattered in an instant, and I found
myself on earth again, with the feeling that I was just arriving at the
San Francisco ferry from an overland train. In another moment I was in
a hotel omnibus illuminated with a dingy, smoking oil lamp at the front
end. Under the lamp there was a little sign imparting the information
that the vehicle had been built in Philadelphia. We rumbled along over
the rough streets, and the windows rattled in true hotel ’bus fashion.
We pulled up at a hotel, and a porter greeted us with a sixpence’s
worth of politeness and assistance. “Good evening, sir,” he remarked,
with a “Dooley” accent which was pleasantly reassuring.

The clerk at the desk cordially called me by name--after I had
registered--and informed me that he could give me a room at the top of
the house for five dollars a day. After depositing my belongings I took
a look at the crowd of men in the hotel office. I was reminded of the
gatherings in a California “boom town” hotel, or of a Colorado mining
camp. There were men of all nations and in all sorts of dress; but the
prevalence of top boots and leggins gave to the crowd a peculiarly
Western look. Rifles stood in the corners of the room, but except for
this item there was nothing about the men to denote their connection
with the war. They were nearly all speaking English. By that time I
began to feel that I had been cheated, for I wanted to hear some Dutch.
It is a fact, however, that in all my stay in the Transvaal I found
absolutely no use for any but my own tongue.

Mr. Thomas Leggett, the California mining engineer who, after twelve
years’ residence in South Africa, rose to be the leading engineer in
that country, told me that he did not know five words of Dutch even
after his long stay among the Boers, and, moreover, that he had had no
occasion whatever to use that language.

When I first met the family of Secretary Reitz, I asked a little boy of
about ten if he spoke English.

“No, sir,” he exclaimed with emphasis; “we don’t speak English down
here--we speak American.”

There was formerly a complaint that the English language was not taught
in the schools, but the assertion proved erroneous, and to-day it is
the common tongue of the towns and cities of South Africa.

Up to the time of the war but few Americans had lived in Pretoria,
consequently the official duties of our consul to that place had not
been onerous. When the war broke out, Mr. Macrum was the representative
of our government; but, owing to what appeared to be an excess of
desire to aid the burghers’ cause, he overstepped the diplomatic
reserve and was recalled. Several South African officials told me that
he had acted unwisely in endeavoring to do too much, and that had
he been more discreet he might have been of material assistance to
them. When Mr. Macrum was recalled, the Hon. Adelbert S. Hay, son of
Secretary of State Hay, was appointed to fill the position that had now
become a post of great importance. There was much speculation as to the
new American consul’s ability to fill the place, and he was received
with some misgivings by the statesmen of the Transvaal, for fear his
sentiments were in favor of their enemy. But his years of training in
affairs of state under his father, both at home and at the embassy in
London, had made him equal to the task. In a very few days he proved
himself to be a thorough diplomatist, and he came to be heartily liked
by all the burghers who were brought in contact with him.

Mr. Hay had the sole charge of all British interests, as well as the
care of the thousands of English prisoners who were in Pretoria, and
of the transmission of all letters and moneys. All these duties he
performed without arousing the slightest animosity on the part of
the Boers. No American of any class ever went to the consulate on
business, for a social call, or from idle curiosity, without receiving
a hearty welcome from the consul. And to please unanimously the crowd
of resident Americans, soldiers of fortune, correspondents, doctors,
and ne’er-do-wells, was in itself enough to show his worth as a
diplomatist. Mr. Gardner F. Coolidge, of Boston, was the vice-consul,
and in cordial service and discreetness he proved to be made of the
same stuff as his chief. They attended not only to their own official
affairs, as well as the British interests, but they were often called
upon to assist men of other nationalities, which they did as willingly
as though they had nothing else to do.

[Illustration: Consul Hay and Vice-Consul Coolidge bidding good-by to
Captain Slocum at Pretoria.]

During the few weeks before the British occupation there was hardly a
ripple of excitement among the people of Pretoria; in fact, there was
more South African war talk in Washington and New York when I left
the United States than I heard in the capital of the Republic most

President Krüger was the center of all interest, although when any of
the hundreds of foreigners that swarmed the place wanted anything, they
went to Secretary Reitz, who seemed to have more power than even the
President himself.

My last meeting with President Krüger was on the occasion of the
presentation of the celebrated message of sympathy from 30,000
Philadelphia schoolboys. The voluminous document was delivered by
James Smith, a New York American District Messenger boy, who was
accompanied by one of the editors of a Philadelphia newspaper, Mr.
Hugh Sutherland. This opportunity afforded an excellent chance to study
the wonderful old man who has piloted the Cape Dutch through so many
national storms.

If President Krüger had been a handsome, polished, and dignified man
the world’s opinion of the Transvaal burgher would have been entirely
different, for the descriptions of the typical Boer have had their
origin in his personality. He is far from prepossessing; he is entirely
lacking in polish or distinction of appearance. He wears a shabby frock
coat that looks as though it had never been brushed or cleaned since
the day it left a ready-made stock. His clothes, however, are not the
most notable nor the most repellent characteristic of the head of the
Transvaal government. Mr. Krüger smokes a pipe incessantly, and has
an unpleasant habit of expectorating in any place that pleases his
momentary fancy, and with very little accuracy of aim; even the front
of his clothes shows signs of this habit. His eyes are inflamed, and
are seemingly afflicted with some ophthalmic disease which causes the
lids to show lines of red under the eyeball. His hair and beard are
unkempt, except on state occasions and Sundays, when they are brushed
to an oiled nicety. His hands are heavy, as though from great toil; but
when he shook hands, he did so in the cordial manner of one who wished
to show a heartfelt welcome to his guest.

Secretary of State Reitz arranged this meeting at which Jimmie Smith
should present the message he had carried so far, and when the little
party arrived at the President’s house, he was waiting to receive them
in his library.

The house in which President Krüger lives is a little, low,
unpretentious cottage, such as might be owned by an ordinarily
prosperous mechanic or tradesman in a country village. It is a
one-story building, with a wide veranda along the front. On either side
of the entrance is a marble figure of a reclining lion, the gift of
Barney Barnato a few years ago, when he wished to gain favor in order
to further some of the great schemes which eventually were the direct
cause of the downfall of the two South African republics.

The library where the President met the party was a dark room with a
low ceiling. At the farther end of the apartment was a desk table,
at which the Chief Executive sat. The ornaments about the room were
tawdry and cheap, showing how little attention was paid to appearance;
nevertheless, everything was scrupulously clean. Books and papers were
scattered about in confusion; but, as we afterwards learned, this grand
disorder was due to the fact that the President was preparing for his
departure from the capital, a fugitive from the conquerors who were
even then just outside the city.

All thought of the peculiar personal appearance of President Krüger was
dispelled when he spoke, or even when he was listening to anything of
importance; for he conveyed the impression of being the possessor of
a great reserve force, and of a wonderful mental power which grasped a
subject instantly and with precision. Once in touch with the workings
of his great brain, his untidy appearance was forgotten, and you
thought of him as a magnificent relic of the noble Dutch blood, one
who had reclaimed a new continent from wild beasts and wilder savages;
a man who had fought his way, foot by foot, into the great veldt and
into the mountains, and had built a home for thousands of contented
followers, only to be driven out by a more powerful nation.

At the time when the messenger boy presented the greetings from the
young Americans, the President was visibly worried and his mind was
evidently occupied by other matters. Within a few hours he expected to
move once more from the place where he had settled, as he had done when
he was a young man. But this time he was to go he knew not where, a
fugitive from an overwhelming foe.

As Mr. Reitz translated the speech which little Jimmie Smith cleverly
delivered when he presented the documents he carried, the President
listened graciously and thanked the boy heartily for the expressions
of sympathy conveyed in the message. Coming at that time, it must have
given him some little hope that the first republic of the world would
do something towards saving to the list of nations these two republics
of South Africa.

A granddaughter of President Krüger told me that, after he left, Mrs.
Krüger, who stayed in Pretoria, spent much time reading the book of
American newspaper and magazine clippings regarding the Boer war which
accompanied the message from Philadelphia. She was deeply gratified
to note the sympathetic sentiments so strongly stated in the American

[Illustration: A. D. T. Messenger James Smith, in front of President
Krüger’s house, immediately after presenting the message from the
American children.]

As soon as the presentation took place the President shook hands with
every one present, and then dismissed them politely, saying, “You must
excuse me now, as matters of great importance concerning the state
occupy my mind.” That night, just before midnight, the President and
Secretary Reitz left Pretoria.

James Smith, A. D. T. Messenger, No. 1534, was well chosen for his
mission, and he proved himself to be worthy of the task. After the
message was delivered he stayed in Pretoria for several weeks during
the British occupation. During the battle of Pretoria he amused himself
by running about in the district near the American consulate, where the
shells were falling thickest, picking up chunks of the deadly missiles,
unmindful of the great danger he was incurring. Very few men have been
under a heavier fire than was this American messenger boy on the day
of the taking of Pretoria. That night he told of how he waited for the
shells to explode, and then ran and picked up the pieces wherever he
saw them kick up the dust.

“It was just like the Fourth,” was his comment on an all day’s battle
which did as much to reëstablish England’s prestige as any that has
been fought in many years. The fight itself lasted but one day, but the
effect of the occupation of the capital of the South African Republic
by the British army worked wonders in the opinion of the world as to
the progress of the war.

As Lord Roberts’s army came nearer and nearer to the doomed capital,
the excitement grew more intense and the air was filled with alarming
rumors. General Botha came back to Pretoria and established his
headquarters there in order to reconstruct his forces, which were badly
scattered, and to provision them from the government stores. Extra
calls for burghers to rally to the cause were issued every day and were
responded to by hundreds. Pretoria was the turning point of the war, at
which men were called on to decide for themselves whether they would
continue the struggle to the bitter end, or leave on the last trains
for Delagoa Bay and sail for Europe, or remain in the city and quietly
allow the British to overtake them, thus being possibly overlooked
among the hundreds of peaceable citizens.

Arms were issued from the arsenal to all those who wished to continue
the fight or who wished to cast their lot for the first time with the
army of the two states. There were arms and ammunition in abundance
for hundreds more men than came to take them, for the supply had been
laid in with the idea of eventually arming every man and boy in the
Transvaal. Many of the burghers exchanged their well-battered rifles
for new ones; all filled their ammunition belts, and took in other ways
all they could besides.

Hundreds responded to the final call to arms. Many burghers collected
their entire families and secured arms for them to assist in the
struggle. It is not possible for any one who has not seen that army
fighting in South Africa to realize how deadly is their earnestness.
Some of the men are so old as to appear incapable of sitting in a
saddle for a march of even a few miles, to say nothing of the marches
they often make, covering several days. There are young men in the
prime of life, strong and sturdy; there are boys in knee trousers,
who do not look old enough to have sufficient strength to endure the
hardships of war or to know how to do any real fighting. There are even
women who have followed their husbands or brothers through it all,
attending the wounded, and cooking when necessary, but often going into
the fighting line and matching the men with a rifle.

[Illustration: The battle of Pretoria: Boers awaiting the British
advance under artillery fire.]

[Illustration: The battle of Pretoria: British naval guns shelling

The Boer army entered the second year of the war a far more formidable
force than the one that fought through the first year, and especially
during the first months of the war. At that time the army was filled
with men who had been commandeered and who were compelled to go into
the field, but who were not obliged to fight, and often did not fight.
There were also many adventurers from other nations, seeking a little
fame, and perhaps fortune. But now there is not a man in the field who
is not there to fight, and when they went out of Pretoria they knew
they were burning their bridges behind them. It was for this reason
that fathers took their young sons with them, and it was for the same
reason that the women followed the men.

One day I was in General Botha’s headquarters, just before he was
leaving Pretoria for good, when an old gray-haired burgher came in to
see him. He waited some minutes, as the general was busy, but finally
stepped up to his desk. He did not give the regulation military salute,
but merely shook hands with General Botha and wished him health in the
Dutch fashion.

“What can I do for you?” asked the Boer leader, still looking over some
papers before him.

“I would like to get an order for a carbine from you,” answered the

“You cannot get a carbine, for they are very scarce just now, and every
one seems to want them; but I will give you an order on the commandant
at the arsenal for a rifle,” said the general, and he began to write
the order at once.

“Well, I’m sorry; but a rifle won’t do,” hesitated the man.

General Botha looked up quickly, and said with some sharpness:

“I’d like to know why a rifle won’t do; you will use a rifle or

The old burgher still hesitated; then finally said, “I’d just as soon
have a rifle, but I’m afraid my boy isn’t big enough to carry one.” He
turned and motioned to a little smooth-faced lad to come forward.

He was not yet ten years old--a bashful yet manly little fellow, ready
to follow his grandfather and to fight for the cause for which his
father had died. Not big enough to carry a rifle, he must needs fight
with a carbine. He got his carbine.

This incident is typical of the spirit that prevails among the Boers
who are now in the field, and it is that unconquerable spirit that will
fight on as long as there is a man still free on the wide veldt or in
the mountains.

It was thought at first that the capital would be defended to the last,
according to the intention when the forts were first built. But after
long debate it was decided that Pretoria should not be defended, and
two very excellent reasons were given for abandoning the capital to the
British without resistance. One was that the officials did not wish to
subject their families and the families of their men to the suffering
of a siege, or their buildings to the mercy of the British guns. The
principal reason, however, was that if they should defend the capital
it would be necessary to use all the troops of the Transvaal army
and would allow the English troops to surround them, cutting off all
possibility of escape or retreat. Thus their cause would be lost. But
with the removal of their forces to the high veldt or to the mountains
they could continue the struggle many months.

[Illustration: General De la Rey and staff at Pretoria; his nephew,
twelve years old, is serving on the staff.]

An air of suppressed excitement pervaded all Pretoria when the people
knew that the Volksraad was in session to decide the fate of the city.
It meant either a long period of suffering or British occupation within
a very few days. Little knots of men gathered here and there to discuss
the situation and to speculate on the result of the deliberations of
the few men who held the fate of all in their hands.

[Illustration: Field cornets in Pretoria receiving orders from a

Finally the word came--it was “Retreat.” Once more they were to retire
before the hordes of khaki that were steadily pouring in from all
directions. There were no noisy newsboys shouting “Extra!” There
were no bulletins placarded in public places. But the news seemed to
proclaim itself in the very air. From mouth to mouth it flew, carrying
with it feelings of terror, defiance, and sadness. The moment which
had been half expected and dreaded for years had come at last. Their
enemy was upon them in irresistible force, and they were to abandon
their homes and their chief city to the foe. The little groups of men
melted away as if by magic, and the streets were suddenly alive with a
hurrying mass of people, each person with but one thought--to escape
before the British arrived. The town was filled with rumors of the
movements of the enemy, and runners said that they would be upon us
within a few hours; that the advance was already on the outskirts of
the town; that Botha had been defeated; that Pretoria was completely
surrounded--every runner had some kind of unpleasant news to tell.

During the next hour or so men were obliged to decide quickly what was
to be done with their families and personal effects. It was the crucial
moment of the war, as it was then thought that it was but a matter of
minutes before the British would arrive.

I happened to be at the railway station on the night the President and
Secretary Reitz left with the State documents and moneys, removing
the capital and head of the government from Pretoria. About half-past
eleven a special train, consisting of three or four luggage vans, a
few passenger carriages, a few goods carriages, and, at the end, the
President’s private coach. Nothing had been said about the removal,
but from some remark coming from Mr. Reitz I imagined that something
unusual was about to happen, and therefore awaited developments. There
was no unwonted excitement about the station, and, with the exception
of a few burghers who were awaiting the departure of the train, there
was no one about except Mr. Sutherland and myself. In a few moments a
small wagon drove hurriedly up to the station, a couple of men jumped
out and gave orders to the driver to drive out on the platform near
the train; this being done, they began to transfer a load of books and
papers into the luggage van. Another cart arrived before the first one
was emptied, also containing huge bundles of papers and documents.
During the next half hour there came a stream of vehicles of every
description, loaded with bags of gold and silver. Even cabs had been
pressed into the service of transferring the treasure of the state from
the mint to the train. Bars of the precious metal were thrown out of
the cabs or wagons like so much rubbish.

[Illustration: Boer women bidding good-by to their men off for the

[Illustration: Russian hospital corps with the Boers: the wounded man
is Colonel Blake, formerly U. S. A.]

There was bustle and activity, but no noise and no excitement. A few
burghers on the platform crowded about in the glare of the electric
light, to watch the work; but there was hardly a word spoken, except
an occasional command from one of the clerks attending to the removal.
Cab after cab drove up to the station without any guard whatever; some
of them, containing as much as £20,000 in sovereigns, had been driven
by boys through the dark streets from the treasury to the station. The
cabs were hurriedly unloaded and sent back for another load, while the
men on the platform were busily throwing the bags and bars into the car.

One boy had driven away a hundred yards into the darkness when he
called out that there was a sack in his cab that had been overlooked.
An attendant went after it and brought it back--a sack containing
several thousand dollars’ worth of gold coin.

It was an extraordinary sight, under the glare of the electric lights,
to see this train being loaded with all that was left of the capital
of the Republic. It was done decently and rapidly. As soon as the
last sack of gold was transferred to the train the doors were closed.
Secretary Reitz alighted from a cab and walked towards the train. As
he passed under the light I saw an expression of sadness and anxiety
on his face that forbade my speaking, although I knew him well and
realized that I might not see him again. He entered the private car,
and in a few moments the train departed, President Krüger boarding it
a few blocks from the station, and for a few weeks the capital of the
South African Republic was on wheels.

Many have blamed President Krüger for running away, as they call it,
and for leaving the country and going to Europe. But there is no doubt
that he was pursuing the proper course. He was an old man, much too
feeble to follow the commands in their marches through the mountains.
Had he attempted to do this he would have been merely a hindrance to
the rapid movements of the army. He is charged with taking away gold
for his personal use; but if he took any of the state funds with him I
do not think they were for his own use. He is a very wealthy man. Money
was of no value to the burghers in the field, but it could be used in
Europe to their advantage. It would have availed nothing for Mr. Krüger
to remain in the Transvaal only to be captured and sent to St. Helena.
Such an event would have helped the British immensely, and would have
given a certain plausibility to the assertion that the war was over.
The criticism against the President because he left the country was
confined entirely to those who ran away themselves, for among the
loyalists in Pretoria there was not a word of complaint against his

One commandant reminded me that the capital of the United States of
America was for months wherever General Washington’s headquarters were,
and that even in the war of 1812 the capital was removed before the
advance of the British on the city of Washington. He asked if any one
had ever criticised the American President for not remaining to be
taken prisoner, or for not leaving the gold in the treasury to fall
into the hands of the enemy.

Following the departure of the President and other officials, on the
last of May, came a couple of days of panic, during which all sorts of
rumors flew about, while the lawless element of the town played havoc.
As soon as it was decided to abandon the capital, all the government
stores which had been gathered for the use of the army in the event of
a siege were turned over to the people for their own use. The stores,
which were in large warehouses, were broken open and rifled by a wild,
excited crowd from every station of society. Well-dressed men and women
jostled with half-naked Kaffirs in their efforts to secure a goodly
share of the stores. Every sort of vehicle was brought to carry away
their plunder. Not one in a hundred had any idea that the stores had
been turned over to the public by the officials in charge; they thought
they were looting without permission, and were correspondingly mad with

The doors of the warehouses proved too small to admit the immense
crowd; then they tore off sheets of the corrugated iron of which the
building was constructed, so that they could get at the contents more
quickly. At one door a big woman stood guard with an umbrella, beating
back any of the blacks who attempted to enter, but admitting any white
person. She plied her weapon on the heads of the blacks when they came
within reach, and it was not long before they abandoned the attempt to
go in at that entrance. The looters worked in squads, a few carrying
out the plunder of sugar, flour, coffee, and other stuffs, while some
stood guard over it until a means of carrying it away was found.
Wheelbarrows, carts, children’s wagons, and baby carriages were brought
into service to take the provisions to the homes of the people, and for
several hours the streets were alive with hurrying crowds. Cabs at last
could not be hired at any price, as the cabmen took a hand on their own
account in the general looting.

I was driving past the main warehouse when the scramble for plunder
began, and stopped to watch the wild scene. In a few moments my driver
caught the fever and asked permission to join the mob, saying he would
be back by the time I needed him. He carted away enough sugar, flour,
coffee, and candles to last him a year, and came back in such a happy
state of mind that he did not want to accept any fare for driving me

Very few of the burghers of the army took any hand in the looting,
although many of them looked on and shook their heads in disapproval
that so much of this good store should go to the stay-at-homes.

When Lord Roberts occupied the capital and heard of that day’s work,
he sent a large detail out to search for the plunder, and recovered a
considerable amount, which he turned over to the use of his army.

For some time it appeared as though there might be serious trouble, and
that the looting would be extended to shops and banks. Nearly all of
these barricaded their doors and windows and placed a guard inside. A
plot was hatched to break into the Union Bank, which was known to be
British in sentiment; consequently all the bank officials spent several
days and nights inside the building, armed with rifles, to protect the
property. The attack was not made, however, probably because the fact
of the guarding of the bank was known.

During all this time the burghers were retreating towards Middleburg,
and by the first of June there were not half a dozen of the army left
in the capital. Each day the British were expected to march in, but
they did not come; and each day the situation became more serious,
until finally a committee, appointed by a proclamation issued by
General Botha, formed a special police corps for the protection of
property until the British forces should arrive and take possession.
The corps was composed of all the foreign consuls and their _attachés_,
and such men as were not directly in the army. At the request of Mr.
Hay I was sworn in and received a white band for my arm, on which
was stenciled “P. C. No. 161,” and a pasteboard card imparting the
information to all lawless persons that I was authorized to take them
to jail. But an officer without the backing of the majesty of the law
is not impressive, and in my one official act I have not yet decided
who came out ahead--only the other fellow didn’t get the horse.

When the retreating burghers began to straggle through Pretoria towards
the north, they commandeered any horses that seemed better than the
ones they were riding. Cab horses and carriage horses were outspanned
on the street, and the vehicles and harnesses left lying on the ground.
Stables were entered and the best of the stock was taken for remounts.
As a war proceeding this was perfectly legitimate, although it was
rather hard on those who lost their horses. The American consul drove
a fine pair of large Kentucky animals, which were probably the finest
horses in the town, and he had considerable difficulty in keeping
them. Several times the burghers began to unharness them, but a word
telling them to whom they belonged stopped these orderly robbers in
their attempt. When it became known that many unscrupulous persons were
taking dishonest advantage of the fact that the commands were taking
remounts and state horses under the name of the government, an order
was issued against commandeering horses for any purpose.

After this state of unrest and terror had continued for three or four
days without an appearance of the British, the excitement wore off,
confidence was restored, and many of the burghers of General Botha’s
command who had retreated now returned to the city.

The last Sunday before the British came dawned quiet and peaceful as a
New England Sabbath; not a sign of war was to be seen; the streets were
thronged with men, women, and children on their way to church to pray
for their cause and their dead. The soldier laid aside his rifle and
bandolier for the day, and not one was to be seen throughout the crowds
which were moving towards their respective places of worship, while
the bells rang summons and welcome. The day was warm enough for the
women to wear white gowns, which served to make the many black ones the
more noticeable. The children were stiff and starched in their Sunday
cleanliness, and half the church-going crowd was composed of these
little ones. In many a pew there was no father or brother, but only a
sad-faced woman in sombre black.

The churches were crowded to the doors, and I tried two or three places
before I finally gained admittance to the church opposite President
Krüger’s house, where he had himself often occupied the pulpit. It
was a typical country church, such as may be seen in hundreds of our
smaller towns; the windows were open, and a soft breeze blew gently
through the room. The people entered deeply into their worship, and the
sadness that prevailed made it appear like a service over the dead who
had fallen in battle. Many families were worshiping together for the
last time, for on the morrow a battle was to be fought, and all who
were going to continue the fight were to be separated that night from
their loved ones.

[Illustration: Boers under heavy shell fire, awaiting British advance
behind their defenses.]

[Illustration: Burghers’ horses during battle of Pretoria.]

There was not one in the whole church who was not weeping. Near me
sat a young girl of about twenty, who sobbed aloud during the entire
service, as though her heart was broken beyond all comfort; and I
afterwards learned that her father and four brothers were all dead, and
that her one remaining brother was at St. Helena with Cronje. In the
pew in front of me sat an old grizzled burgher with a heavy gray beard;
he needed no rifle to show that he had been for months on command,
for his face was burned by wind and sun. His arm was around his wife,
whose head rested on his shoulder. She did not weep, but at frequent
intervals she huddled closer to him and grasped his arm more firmly, as
if afraid he would leave her. On his other side sat a little girl, who
looked around with big, frightened eyes, wondering at the scene.

The pastor preached from his heart a sermon of hope and encouragement,
his words being interrupted by the sound of sobbing. Hardly a man there
but had his arm supporting the woman at his side, or grasped her hand
in his. The text was from Ezekiel, xxxvii. 3-9:

    And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I
    answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.

    Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto
    them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.

    Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause
    breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:

    And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you,
    and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall
    live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

    So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there
    was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together,
    bone to his bone.

    And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon
    them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in

    Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of
    man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the
    four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may

Tender, with infinite pathos, yet manful, and with a virile faith
that seemed to make the impossible actual, the sermon went on. It was
a prophet’s opportunity, such as comes to but few preachers in all
history, to stand at the final threshold of a nation’s life, to bid
farewell to the men leaving for the forlorn hope of the last struggle,
and to embrace in one cry of faith both the heartbreak and the
resolution of a people. It was in the Dutch tongue, but the preacher
repeated it to me in English the next day, and I was the witness of the
effect of its simple eloquence on the people.

When the service was over, there was a solemn and tearful handshaking
before the congregation scattered for the last time to their homes;
the men to buckle on their bandoliers and rifles for the next day’s
battle, the women to pray for the safety of those brave hearts so dear
to them, or to weep alone with memories of those they had loved and

[Illustration: The Boer retreat from Pretoria.]


The British in Pretoria

[Illustration: One of the Guards at Pretoria.]

On the morning of the fourth of June, 1900, the British troops turned
their guns on Pretoria, after hundreds of miles of weary marching,
enlivened with only a few fights to break the monotony of the work.
There was not much defense, as it had been decided that there should be
no opposition to the enemy’s entrance; but as many of the burghers had
returned over Sunday, and the panic of a few days before had vanished,
they were taking away more stores than they had at first intended.
Train-loads of troops and refugees were leaving Pretoria every hour;
therefore General De la Rey, with a rear guard, was detailed to
obstruct the advance as long as possible, to cover the retreat that was
then being made in an orderly manner. He had but fifteen or eighteen
hundred men to oppose many thousands, but as he had the advantage of
the positions, and as the English commander did not know whether the
forts were occupied and armed, he was able to hold off the advance all

The fighting consisted almost entirely of an artillery bombardment by
the British naval guns until noon, when the right of the Boer line was
heavily engaged, and the rifle and machine-gun fire became very fast.

The burghers had but six guns with which to oppose the advance, and
they were small field pieces that could not be put into action until
the enemy advanced almost within rifle range. A little before dark the
fighting was heavy all along the line, and then the British became
fully convinced that there would be a determined defense at Pretoria.
They were very much disappointed when they discovered that the burghers
had waived the defense and had saved themselves for a struggle under
other conditions. All day long two of the guns shelled one of the forts
that had long since been abandoned, but as it was an advantageous
position from which to witness the fighting, some of the townspeople
had gone up there in the forenoon. They were seen by the British, and
were naturally mistaken for soldiers, consequently they were subjected
to a harmless shell fire. In the afternoon the invaders brought a large
number of their guns into action, and the shells flew thick and fast
over our position, occasionally striking and exploding at the crest
under which we were lying. Considering the number of shells, however,
very little damage was done.

[Illustration: General De la Rey and a group of his burghers while
awaiting a British attack.]

All through the day the two wings of Lord Roberts’s army kept extending
farther around the town, and just before dark the retreat from the
defenses began. As the entire force of burghers was compelled to take
one narrow road between the hills, this was crowded with horsemen, each
man trying to pass the others, although with no great excitement. There
was no talking in the procession; the men rode along looking like an
army of spirits in the white clouds of dust. Mingled with the horsemen
were men on bicycles, whose clothing showed that they had taken no part
in the campaign; men on foot, who had come out to witness the fight,
and even men in wagons. Occasionally a gun rumbled along. All were
bent on getting into Pretoria as soon as possible. Once there, however,
they seemed in no hurry to leave, many remaining until the next
morning, after the British had actually entered the town.

As I rode into Pretoria there were knots of people at every gatepost
and in every doorway, watching the retreating burghers, bidding good-by
to their friends, and asking all sorts of questions regarding the
advancing army.

I stopped at the Artillery Barracks, a fine large brick building,
and there saw Major Erasmus, a member of one of the famous fighting
families of the war; apparently he had not inherited the fighting
spirit, for he had taken off his bandolier, and he told me that he
was going to quit. Around him were a few more of the same mind, and
sitting on a horse near by was an old burgher talking to them in Dutch.
It needed no knowledge of the language to apprehend his meaning, for
he was evidently speaking with biting sarcasm, and its effect was
plainly seen in the faces of his hearers. Many others remained in
Pretoria and allowed themselves to be taken, afterwards taking the
oath of neutrality. Only those who wished to fight it out went on. The
faint-hearted ones who stayed behind were snubbed by all the women-folk
who knew them, and there is no doubt that many who broke their oath of
neutrality and again took to the field did so in order to escape the
taunts of the patriotic women.

[Illustration: Lord Roberts’s advance bodyguard approaching Pretoria.]

[Illustration: British guns captured by the Boers.]

At the Artillery Barracks were all of the British guns that had been
captured by the Boers, but which they could not use. None of them was
destroyed, however, and eventually they again fell into the hands of
the English. In a few cases the breech block was broken, but aside from
that they were in as good condition as on the day they were taken. It
seems strange that the Boers should have allowed them to go back to the
enemy uninjured after the battling which the possession of them had
cost; but one commandant said that he could not see why they should
uselessly destroy property.

It was said that a couple of English officers with a few men entered
Pretoria that night, but I did not see them. The first of the enemy
that I saw was an advance body next day, sent in to occupy the town
and to post a guard on all public buildings. I heard that Lord Roberts
and his staff were coming, and I rode out about a mile to meet them.
I then first beheld that wonderful leader, who is certainly one of
the greatest generals of modern times. His staff was preceded by an
advance bodyguard of about fifty men; twenty men rode on either side
of the road, flanking his staff by about one hundred yards. The staff
was so large that it looked like a regiment in itself. At the head I
recognized Lord Roberts, a small man on a large horse, sitting in his
saddle as though pretty well worn out by work. He was bundled up in a
khaki overcoat, as the morning was very cold. By his side rode Lord
Kitchener on a powerful white horse, the only white one in the staff.
That horse must have been a shining mark in action, but a little detail
of that sort would not trouble a man of Kitchener’s stamp.

[Illustration: Lord Roberts and staff approaching Pretoria (Lord
Kitchener is on the white horse, Lord Roberts is the first leading
figure at the right).]

Immediately behind the field marshal and his chief of staff rode
two Indian native servants, familiar figures in all Lord Roberts’s
campaign, for he never travels without them. It is said that one of
them saved his chief’s life in India, and that he is now retained in
his service forever.

Lord Roberts and his staff rode into the railway station, where they
dismounted and made arrangements for the formal entry and occupation,
which was to occur that afternoon. The hour set was two o’clock, but it
was twenty minutes past that hour when the flag was raised. The square
had been cleared long before that by a battalion of the Guards, and
finally the field marshal and his staff rode in and took a position
just opposite the entrance to the state building. Immediately after
his entry the drums and fifes and a few pieces of brass played the
national anthem, and every one saluted, but no flag was to be seen at
that moment. Finally a murmur started and circulated throughout the
ranks and the crowd. “There it is!” exclaimed some one. “Where?” asked
another. “On the staff; it’s up.” “No, that can’t be.” “Yes, it really
is.” And it was.

By looking very carefully we could discern a little something looking
like a stiff, colored table mat at the top of the high mast, but it was
not recognizable as the Union Jack. It was afterwards learned that this
little flag was made by Lady Roberts, and that as a matter of sentiment
Lord Roberts had caused it to be raised. But that bit of sentiment had
robbed the occasion of all the patriotic enthusiasm that would have
been awakened by the sight of a big, magnificent banner. The next day
a fifteen-foot Union Jack was hoisted, and the men who operated the
moving-picture apparatus waited until the second day before taking the
pictures of the raising of the British flag over the Transvaal which
were to be shown in the London theatres.

[Illustration: Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener with staff entering
Pretoria at the railway station, June 5, 1900. The two locomotives on
the right, with Boer engineers, were started immediately afterwards in
an attempt to escape to the Boer lines.]

I was reminded of General Shafter’s anxiety at Santiago on the morning
of July 17th, when he sent from one end of his army corps to another to
find a flag large enough to raise over the palace, and of how pleased
he was when one sufficiently large was finally found. He said that day
that the affair would not be a success unless the flag was large enough
to show that it was waving.

When the British troops entered Pretoria, their first thought was for
their unfortunate brother officers who were imprisoned there, and
their first questions were regarding them, as they feared they had
been removed by the Boers. While the preparations were being made for
the flag-raising, the imprisoned officers were released, and came down
town for the first time since their arrival. Many happy greetings were
exchanged, some of them showing an affection betokening relationship.
They were almost the only ones who did any cheering that day, as the
soldiers were too worn out and the townspeople were too sad.

As soon as the flag was raised the march past was begun, and thousands
of the magnificent-looking troops passed in review before Lord Roberts.
The British soldiers made a fine show, although they were evidently
pretty well worn out; their horses, too, were in bad condition. The
Colonials and the Gordon Highlanders were the most attractive part of
the review and made the best showing. The naval guns were drawn by many
spans of oxen, and looked tremendously business-like. Under ordinary
conditions the spectacle would have been a sight to fill a spectator
with enthusiasm and admiration; but, somehow, the scene seemed more an
occasion of sadness, awakening admiration and pity for that little
band of men who had marched out into the night only a few hours before.
An American business man of Pretoria watched the regiments tramp past,
and then remarked, “Well, I think the best way for the Boers to win out
is to come back to-day and march in review before this army. They would
not need to fight any more, for this whole lot would die of shame.”

There was not a very large crowd to witness the occupation, considering
the number of people in the city, for very few of the Boer sympathizers
came out, and in most cases the women went into their houses, closing
the front doors and windows tightly, and many did not open their
houses until they were forced to come out to attend to their household
marketing. Along the verandas of the Grand Hotel and in the street in
front of the hotel a few ladies were to be seen, but except for these
the crowd was composed of men, mostly blacks. This conspicuous absence
of the women served to show the bitter feeling and intense hatred that
prevailed among the people.

The Union Bank, however, a British institution, swung out two large
Union Jacks in honor of the event.

While the review was passing, a corporal’s guard brought in two
Boer prisoners, who were marched into the square, awaiting whatever
disposition was to be made of them. One was a man about fifty, the
other a boy about nine years old, in short trousers; but the little
fellow had a rifle, and was held as a prisoner of war. As they stood
there I could not but wonder what those British soldiers thought of
such a sight.

While the review was going on, I stood near the Burgomaster of
Pretoria, a man whom I had met with General Botha and Secretary Reitz.
He was a man who had held the highest municipal office under the Boer
government, but now he was fawning upon a major of staff, telling him
that he had always hated the Dutch government and everything connected
with it. To gain favor in the eyes of his new masters, he blackguarded
all the men who had made him what he was. It did not seem possible that
this pitiful personage could be the same man who a few days before was
an official of the Boer government.

As soon as the review was dismissed, officers and men began to explore
the town and to fill their pockets with souvenirs. Stamps and coins
were especially sought after, while copies of the extra _Volkstein_,
issued the night before, with news of Johannesburg’s fall and of the
coming battle, were sold for five pounds.

Although there was not much chance to get liquor, the men found what
they wanted, but there was a surprising absence of drunkenness. To my
surprise and admiration, I saw only one drunken soldier in that entire
army after the occupation.

[Illustration: Gordon Highlanders entering Pretoria, June 5, 1900.]

[Illustration: Types of the crowd who watched the British entry.]

During the first few days of the occupation Lord Roberts started the
machinery of his wonderful government, and in a very short time
everything was running smoothly. All stores and storehouses were put
under guard and the contents commandeered for military use; although,
when the stock was the property of private individuals, a good price
was paid for it. If the burghers had had sufficient presence of mind
or the inclination to destroy all the stores in Pretoria, the army
under Lord Roberts would have been not only seriously embarrassed,
but in a very critical condition. As it was, a sufficient quantity of
Boer rations was left to keep the British going until the railroad was
opened. In one building enough forage had been left by the Boers to
keep the stock supplied until more could arrive. A single match would
have prevented this, but one of the Boer commandants said regarding it,
“Oh, it would be such a wanton destruction of property!” They preferred
to allow it all to fall into the hands of their enemies than to burn
it. If they had destroyed it the horses would have had practically
nothing to eat, and all operations would necessarily have been stopped.

A corps of correspondents came in with Roberts’s army, and they were
all very anxious to hear of the events that had occurred on the Boer
side. Mr. Dinwiddie, of _Harper’s Weekly_, was one of the first in
Pretoria; he had but recently come over from the Philippines, where
he had been with General Lawton, but he had seen all the British
advance since Bloemfontein. I had last seen him during the Cuban
campaign. Another veteran of the Santiago campaign was Mr. Atkins, of
the Manchester _Guardian_. The famous war correspondent, Mr. Bennett
Burleigh, was also among the first to arrive. He is one of the oldest
in the profession, and before he began writing he fought with the
Confederacy during our Civil War. Mr. Barnes and Mr. Jenkins were two
more of the American correspondents, although they were representing
English papers.

Some of the wagons that were used by the correspondents and the
_attachés_ were grotesque affairs. One of them was a pie-wagon, with a
door in the back; its possessor had cut a hole in the roof and run a
stovepipe out so that he could cook in any kind of weather. There were
a good many grocers’ wagons, but the most common conveyance was the
two-wheeled Cape cart.

As soon as Lord Roberts took possession, he issued a conciliatory
proclamation, telling the burghers who wished to lay down their arms
and take the oath binding them to neutrality that they would not be
made prisoners of war. A number availed themselves of this offer, and
most of them kept their promises; but subsequent events made many of
them take up arms again.

The execution of young Cordua for conspiracy did much to help the Boer
cause by reviving fainting spirits with the spur of new indignation.
Everyone in Pretoria knew that there had been no plot whatever, and
that the rumors of the supposed conspiracy had been spread by the
agents of the British government. The young man was known to be
simple-minded, and therefore was not responsible for his actions, but
his death was a great stimulus to those fighting for the Boer cause.
The proclamation regarding the burning and destroying of all farms in
the vicinity of a railroad or telegraph line that was cut also sent
many men back into the field and made many new recruits. No matter
how loyal a feeling a farmer might have towards the English, he could
not prevent some one from coming down from the hills in the night and
blowing up the tracks or bridges somewhere within ten miles of his
home; but if this happened his house was burned, and almost invariably
the burghers who were thus deprived of their homesteads went on
commando to stay to the bitter end.

One proclamation was issued compelling every man and boy to register
his presence in Pretoria; and another, ordering that all firearms of
every description be turned in to the provost marshal; this included
sporting rifles, shotguns, gallery rifles, and, in fact, every arm that
called for powder. It was not permitted to any one to ride or drive a
horse, or ride a bicycle, without having obtained a special permit.
Most of these orders were quite necessary and did no one any great
harm. At times the restriction was troublesome, but that was all; and,
upon the whole, considering the fact that the town was under military
rule, the British government was lenient.

The women of Pretoria were intensely bitter against the British, and
did not scruple to show it. For several days not one was seen on
the streets. After a time they came out of their houses, but very
seldom would they have anything to say to the invaders. They showed
the same spirit said to have been shown by our colonial women towards
the British, the same that the women of the Southern States showed
towards the Northern soldiers, and the same that the French women felt
against the Germans. In their hearts was bitter hatred, but politeness
and gentle breeding toned their actions to suavity that was sometimes
mistaken for weakness by a race that has never been noted for its
subtle sense of discrimination.

Lord Roberts invited Mrs. Botha to dinner one night, soon after the
occupation of Pretoria, and she accepted the invitation. Immediately
the rumor was spread throughout the army, and was construed by the
British to mean that General Botha was going to surrender at once, and
that his wife was going to influence him to do so. On the contrary,
Mrs. Botha told me that if he did surrender as long as there was a
possible chance to fight, she would never speak to him again. Her
eyes flashed and her manner was very far from that of a woman who
was weakening because she had dined with the commander-in-chief. She
obviously had her reasons for doing it, and there is no doubt that
General Botha heard all that went on from herself the next morning. The
system of communication between the burghers in the field and their
families was facile and well conducted, and the women kept the men
informed of every move of the British.

One afternoon I was riding along the streets of Pretoria with an
English officer, and we passed General Botha’s little son. I pointed
him out to my companion, who pulled up to talk with him. He was a boy
of seven or eight, bright and good looking. The officer asked him what
he thought of the British soldiers now that he had seen them.

“Oh, they’re all right,” he answered evasively.

“Well, from now on you will live under the British flag,” said the
officer, trying to tease him in a good-natured way.

“Perhaps,” he replied, shrugging his shoulders.

“And you will become just as much an Englishman as any of us, and like
it,” continued the officer.

In an instant all the boy’s evasiveness was gone; his fists clenched
and his head came up sharply.

“I never will be English!” he exclaimed vehemently. “I hate you all!
You may make us live under that flag, but you’ll never make us like
it--never!” And he stamped his foot to emphasize his tirade against the
enemies who had driven his father away. This is the spirit shown on
every side in the Transvaal, the Orange Free State, and even in Cape
Colony itself. The people seem contented enough until they are stirred,
and then their liberty-loving blood makes them speak their real feeling.

[Illustration: Lord Kitchener bidding good-by to the foreign attachés
after the capture of Pretoria.]

A few days after the occupation a pretty young woman, tastefully
dressed in a white summer gown, appeared on the street with a large
bow of the national colors, red, white, blue, and green, pinned on
her shoulder. An officer stopped her and told her to take it off,
but she looked at him contemptuously and turned away. He stopped her
again, and finally removed the colors himself. The young lady made no
resistance, but passed on. Within half an hour she was out with another
equally large bow of the colors. Again it was taken away from her, and
again she put on another knot of ribbons. The matter was brought to
the attention of the military governor, and she was told that if it
happened again she would be put in jail; but it did happen again just
as fast as she could get the ribbon to put on. Whether she was arrested
or not I never knew, but I saw her on the street several days later
still wearing the colors of her country.

For some days before the British arrived, the prices in Pretoria
for provisions of all kinds had advanced to unheard-of figures.
There seemed to be a sufficient quantity of everything, except white
flour; but those who had stock on hand were making the best of their
opportunity. The flour seemed to have been “cornered” by the bakers,
for they were all furnishing bread regularly, and were charging from
fifteen to twenty-five cents a loaf, according to the size. This was
considered very cheap in comparison with the price asked for a sack
of flour a few days before, the lowest price then being five pounds.
“Mealies,” or common corn, sold at thirty to sixty shillings unground,
the regular price being six or eight shillings. As this corn was used
only to feed animals it made the expense of keeping a horse rather
high. Up to this time the English have not discovered the value of
Indian corn as a food product, although many attempts have been made
to introduce it into England. There was an abundance of canned goods
that sold at a fairly reasonable price, and also plenty of fresh beef,
although it was of the trek-ox variety, and almost impossible to eat.

When the British army entered the capital, with over forty thousand
hungry men, looking for anything as a change from the regular ration,
prices jumped higher still, and the stocks in the various stores
speedily vanished. One of the first official acts of the new government
was to place a guard over the various provision stores, allowing no one
to buy without an order from one in authority. This was done to prevent
some of the officers’ messes from buying up everything in sight.

Fresh vegetables were exceedingly scarce, although very early in the
mornings some came in from the country, and it was always a case of the
“early bird” as to who was fortunate enough to get hold of them. Butter
was a greater luxury than champagne, and if any was secured a dinner
party was sure to follow.

“Come up and dine with me to-night; I’ve got some butter,” was the
strongest invitation that could be issued, and one that was never

Consul Hay kept many men and women from going hungry, for he had laid
in a large stock of provisions against the expected siege of Pretoria;
consequently he had plenty of food stuffs to spare, and any one who
was known to be needy was welcome to a share. He also stabled several
horses for their owners when there was absolutely no forage to be
bought at any price.

When prices had reached an impossible mark, Lord Roberts took the
matter in hand and issued a proclamation giving a list of all necessary
articles and the legal prices to be charged for them, and any one
asking more was liable to severe punishment. Some found a way to evade
the order by giving short weight; but a few days later the first supply
train came in from the southern base of supplies, and then prices
resumed their natural scale.

It was an irremediable military blunder for the retreating burghers not
to destroy all supplies and forage in Pretoria. Even as it was, Lord
Roberts had made three attempts to advance his main force, and each
time was compelled to retire, not because of the force of the Boers
opposing him, but because of his inability to get rations up to his

It was not a glorious entry, and the occupation was not so satisfactory
to the British themselves that the word “Pretoria” on the regimental
standards will stir a soldier’s throb for many years to come. Some
day the blunders will be forgotten, the human wrongs will grow dim in
distance, and only the glory of effort and the benefit to civilization
will be thought of; but not until then will the British be proud of
their conquest.

The burghers in this the first city of their fair land are
conscientious and honest; they know they have the right on their side,
and they are willing to pray and die for it. The English do not
understand these plain folk as we would, for we have the same sort of
men and women. Instead of trying to understand them, the English are
prone to ridicule them.

Their devotion to the faith in which they believe has been a special
target for this ridicule, although I never saw the time when they made
that devotion obnoxious to even the lowest unbeliever. They worship in
their own way, believe in their own creed, which is very like that of
the great majority of the people of the United States. When I listened
to the Dutch pastor preach that last sermon before the British entered
Pretoria, I heard nothing that could offend any one; and yet, less
than two weeks later, at my own table, in the presence of half a dozen
British officers, an English chaplain told us as a great joke, over
his brandy and soda, that he had heard of a sermon that was preached
exhorting the Boers to fight, and that he had informed the provost
marshal and had the Dutch pastor thrown into jail. After a moment’s
pause he added, “I occupied his pulpit myself last Sunday.”

“Well,” said one of the British officers, “that is a method of getting
a pulpit that I never heard of before.”

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

The captions of illustrations were printed in italics. To improve
readability, those italics are not indicated in the Plain Text version
of this eBook. Italics elsewhere are indicated by _underscores_.

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