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.miles across an almost water- less desert, is what Lord Roberts less desert under a burning asked of the Army Service sun, had fought two actions suc- Corps; and he was not discessfully and avoided a third, appointed. Nor were the men all with comparatively slight disappointed : it is the soldiers loss. Mobility had changed who know all about these hands: that which the Boers quiet, business-like men who were wont to boast of had carry them and their baggage, the bottom knocked out of it who feed them with
with such by the endurance and march- regularity that of the 200,000 ing powers of British infantry; men in Africa how few have the brigade of Guards covered gone without their breakfast. thirty-eight miles in twenty- Whatever faults exist in our eight hours, and at the end army organisation, the Army marched with their heads up Service Corps stands out a into Bloemfontein, Not only marvel of hard work. So was the original conception of little preparation to supply the the move sound, but every blow troops had been made, that was followed up; blow suc- every ship-load which touched ceeded blow with regularity the coast during October and and pertinacity ; once hit, the November had to be bought up, enemy was given no time to provided that it contained anyrecover ;
no matter how ex- thing eatable by man or horse; hausted the striking of the yet so well did the Army blow left them, the men pulled Service Corps manage, that themselves together and were troops at the front have had ready to deal a second. Once fresh bread every day, there get the enemy on the run, and being hardly an instance where that you cannot keep him going they had to eat biscuit. These too fast, is sound common-sense things are better done now than tactics.
they were. I remember when But it was not the troops we marched up - country for alone to whom credit is due for Zululand the train turned us this historic march. There are out on the veldt, with only a other soldiers of whom we hear railwayman's shelter and very little but who do a great gang of naked Kaffirs in sight, deal, on whose shoulders de- and a nine-mile trudge in the pends the very life of the men dust, and latterly in the dark, who march and of the horses to camp. We were hung round who scatter abroad. Whatever with many objects which the faults have been found, none outfitters had told us were have been heard about the necessary in a campaign, were Army Service Corps. To feed tired, and very hungry; so we an army of perhaps 40,000 men pitched our tents and lay down and 5000 horses, and to carry in them. Then an orderly ca the belongings of these combat- round with the dinners, and he ants along 600 miles of a single put them down outside : it was line of rails, with 100 more to only a tin plate of flour, a junk follow across an almost track- of quivering beef, and a penny
worth of sticks. When we had to allow the horses three or looked at them a man of the four days to recover from the company came up, and he held effects of the voyage, and it out his plate of flour as if I was all done so secretly-inshould smell it: then he went valuable in a land swarming away, for I could not answer with spies. People at Cape his question and tell him what Town only heard of the arrival to do with it. The company of a regiment when they saw went hungry to bed that night : its name mentioned in we heard of a store three miles engagement at the front: it off, and dined upon sardines. had vanished in the unknown The arrival of a “ Winkler's country beyond De Aar, to waggon in those days was a
reappear unexpectedly at the joy; for he sold jam, which farther end of the colony. The was a change from trek-ox and Cape Government railway is biscuit, though it had to be manned almost entirely by Engpaid for at veldt prices. Now lishmen, and no praises can be jam is part of a soldier's ration, too high for the work done by and frozen meat has taken the them, or for the patriotism and place of herds of cattle and zeal of the whole staff. Everyall the unwholesome process of where along the line the stationslaughtering them.
masters stuck to their posts Without the railways the when every one else had fled Army Service Corps could not before the Boers ; while the have done what was done: guarding and patrolling of the transport did not exist or line required a very large staff shape itself into practical form of white and native patrols. till Lord Kitchener arrived and The possession of Bloemfontook it in hand, and without cor- tein is both a military and a dial co-operation the railways political advantage. In the could not have been counted first case, it gave Lord Roberts
Both the Cape and Natal a secondary base from which to lines are single and very nar- start afresh, in direct railway row,
with steep gradients, communication with his primwatering - stations scarce, and ary base on the coast at Port all the coal to be carried up Elizabeth or East London, 520 from the coast some hundreds or 400 miles respectively disof miles away.
Yet, until tant. From Bloemfontein to lately, troops and supplies have Pretoria is only 250 miles, with depended upon them. Soldiers a direct line of railway, which arriving from all parts of the crosses a level country, free world marched out of the ship from mountain-ranges, the only into trains standing on the obstacle being the Vaal river, other side of the quay, and crossed by the railway-bridge were run up to the front before and many drifts. An advance they could realise that they northwards will threaten the had landed in South Africa. communications of the Boer Cavalry were sent to the “rest army in Natal, which would be camp before they entrained, forced to retreat, the Natal
Field Force in rear hurrying hands means nothing, unless up its retreat, only to meet Lord the exchange extends laws to Roberts at the one drift across reach the boundaries of their the Vaal for forty miles. The farms, when they will say buildings and neighbourhood of they wish Kruger was back. Bloemfontein lend themselves The Boers, except those under to the accommodation of troops its direct influence, owe nothing and to the storage and forward- to Pretoria, which exists only ing of supplies : Harrismith, for the Dopper and his corrup190 miles north-east, is in direct tion. They know nothing about railway communication with Pretoria, but they do know a Durban. From a political point great deal about the field-corits occupation must go far to net: abolish him, and they will reconcile the Free Staters to think something of us. our rule.
They are more in- Men have been talked into telligent than the Boers, and this war because they had so have throughout retained con- much
time to think over tact with outside civilisation; what they heard at the last and their capital has become town or read in the latest
educational and social newspaper. In Africa manual centre, for which it is large- labour is thought derogatory ly indebted to the late Pres- to a white man: Kaffirs work, ident Brand, the esteemed head Whites look on; a Boer does of a patriarchal Government, not drive his own waggon, his almost classical in its simplicity. “boy” does that; at home he So the Free State farmer slouches round to smoke his recognises Bloemfontein as the pipe and order his Kaffirs; in home of much that is good, an up-country store the proand is proud of it in conse- prietor meets you at the door quence.
The transfer of the for a chat and a smoke; if you Government of this ideal centre step inside to make a purchase to another which would hold he saunters in and pushes the the reins justly, in accordance “square-face” across the counwith his instincts and tradi- ter—he may shove over the tions, would soon reconcile him water-jug; if you want anyto the change which would be thing else he calls a Kaffir; if in name only.
a troop of Kaffir girls steal in, The position of Pretoria is he will hand down some packdifferent: the Boers of the ets of beads—perhaps open one northern and eastern districts –trade in beads requires tact. are of the lowest class of In Australia or Canada, where intelligence, ignorant of the the climate is more suited to first tenets of civilised life, white men and coloured labour who rarely stray beyond the is scarce, the colonists do the limits of their farms. To these work themselves : they have no Pretoria is only a name, Lyden- time for talking politics. burg and Zeerust to them Freater: to these
were General ill of Pretoria into British Buller's troops across the Tu
gela than they found that the utmost confusion, leaving everyBoers had evacuated their posi- thing behind them strewn about tions round Ladysmith, leaving in their trenches. The road to a strong rear-guard to delay Ladysmith was now open, and the approach of the relieving that evening the Natal Caracolumn, so as to allow them to bineers with the Composite withdraw their guns and other Regiment rode through on the impedimenta. The original line west, without opposition, to of advance by the railway had convey the welcome news. The
. to be abandoned after four days' next day General Buller occuobstinate fighting, as it was pied Nelthorpe, riding into the still strongly held with line town during the afternoon to upon line of intrenchments, meet Sir G. White and the which could only be taken by relieved garrison. frontal attack; but to the west It is not too far back to reof the railway was Pieter's Hill, member the suspense, the catchwhich commanded the entire ing of the breath, when those line of the Boer defences and messages came in so quickly, formed the key to the position. following each other, on that General Buller determined to Sunday morning in January : capture it.
“Attack renewed, very hard On the 27th inst. the Engin- pressed;" and the dull void that eers succeeded in discovering a fell when the sun went down suitable passage about two miles and we were left to think of farther down-stream, where the those hard-pressed men. The banks were sufficiently hidden story has been already told of to allow the bridge to be re- that desperate fight, when the moved from its original posi- Boers in the early dawn crept tion and reconstructed, when up, barefooted, shouting, "Don't the troops making the flank- fire, we are the town guard;” attack could pass. At daylight when the few British on the General Barton, with three hill flung themselves on certain battalions, crept
down the death; when the higher heroism river's bank to the newly con- of each man stood out; when structed bridge, and, crossing Digby Jones, the young subby it, climbed an almost pre- altern of Engineers, as the three cipitous cliff, 100 feet high, Boer leaders stole up Surprise which led to the top of Pieter's Hill in the darkness after that Hill. This was carried by as- day of fighting, shot Von Wyk, sault, the enemy not waiting only to fall himself—the V.C., for for the bayonet. This turned which he was to be recommended, the Boer left, and opened the almost won. Six hundred dead, way to Sir C. Warren, with the as many more wounded, and 4th and 11th brigades, to assail four months' shelling and starvthe Boer main position, which ation—it was a brave sight was magnificently carried at that England showed the world the point of the bayonet by the when her people heard the news 1st South Lancashire Regiment, that Ladysmith had been rethe Boers flying wildly in the lieved. We saw that group
challenge the troopers, “Who fire from two or more strongly
of it, but not in it-clean out ing a determined, well-armed of the world. To your world foe at arm's length, and the you are every bit as good as strain of supporting upwards dead.”
of 15,000 human beings in order Is it any wonder that the and contentment. Men at a men who had endured needed distance read of the bursting a rest, or that Sir G. White shells, the savage attack, the longed to get away? In these daily sniping, of sudden death four months much had been by fire, or sword, or pestilence, done: the enemy to be kept off of nights passed in expectation his first care; the principal to of an attack, when the rustle construct works by which the of a leaf may be a footstep: but number of men required to these are not what try a man's hold the circumference were
There is excitement reduced to a minimum; the there; the din of battle is but points at which attack might an interlude to talk about next be expected, as Cæsar's Camp, day, a panorama of quick-movprotected by redoubts of su- ing objects. What kills is the perior profile, the gaps between monotony, the dreary dulness, under their fire, and that from one day as another—is there other works of lower profile, no end? nothing to think of, to so that any advance must cover laugh about, to hope for-only ground swept by a cross-fire. the dreary sameness. This would constitute the main The constant pop! pop! of line of defence, no doubt assisted the bullets irritates—it is so by similar works in rear as an senseless, so meaningless. Will interior line, should the outer they never stop ? Oh! for a line be forced. In front of all fight, an honest fight out there would be the pickets and sen- in the open—anything but to tries, sheltered by breastworks be cooped up here with those or rifle-pits: thus the enemy everlasting bullets. would have to force his way
An experience of three through three lines of defence, months, under much the same each planned to offer increased circumstances, recalls this inresistance, while the points tolerable monotony-pop! pop! which he might choose as his If they would only hit some one way in would be swept by the there would be method in the