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venient. A three judges armed with ample powers should be appointed. Only let them be summary and instant, to be exercised on the spot. A few test cases against prominent rebels would teach the rest that to take an oath of allegiance to deliver up a moiety of firearms and to bury the larger half for use against the conquerors, may be Dutch but it is not British custom.
The despatch of Lord Roberts enclosing those of Generals Buller and Warren is disagreeable reading, telling of muddle everywhere, and above all of the want of a head-the absence of "I will!" The first attribute of a great captain is the power of reading the character of his subordinates that he may know whom to trust, which of them it is that will carry out his orders to the death, who must be kept in the background or under his own eye. we have Sir C. Warren, with his orders for the turning movement, calling a council before he had gone two miles to acquiesce in his forsaking them for a scheme of his own; and General Buller across the river telegraphing over the head of one general on the top to another at the bottom of Spion Kop to tell off a junior to hold it, because he was a "hard-fighting" man, who promptly justified his chief's opinion of him by vacating it" errors of judgment and want of administrative capacity on the part of Sir C. Warrenwant of organisation and system which acted most unfavourably
on the defence-and the unwarrantable and needless assumption of responsibility by a subordinate officer."
But while Lord Roberts is doing justice against offenders in South Africa, the nation asks, Who is it that sent out so much incompetence when England's honour was at stake? At the Horse Guards are books and files and pigeon-holes crammed with histories of our soldiers : were they read and acted on? Where is the Promotion Board? Is the long reign of selection fallen? Rumours have been current of drawing-room influences and society magnates who had a word-many words-to say; of generals provided with a staff they knew nothing about; of officers on the medalhunt pitchforked into snug places. It was said that when Lord Wolseley became Commander-in-Chief all abuses would cease, and merit would come out and be rewarded: selection was to do it-selection, which to the earnest soldier meant rejection. Truly organisation is knocking loudly at our door.
A misfortune throughout is the meagre reward we have reaped after each victory. It is to the cavalry that we look for this, yet they can hardly be blamed. After Belmont the 9th Lancers could scarcely move out of a walk. At Poplar Grove the same cause prevented French getting round the Boer left. When Bloemfontein was reached, President Steyn would have been caught by fresher mounts. It must also be re
membered that most of the cavalry were only mounted infantry, who are not adapted to pursuit. Still, our cavalry have been wanting: as Colonel Albrecht expressed himself, "But your cavalry! We can see. We see a bush with a pole sticking up behind it, and we say, There is the cavalry. And they always go home at night to their bivouac. That is no good, we can see. Twice did I give up two of our guns for lost. We did hide them in a donga. But your cavalry did go home. They are no good.' no good." The fault is not all with the riders. English horses are not fitted for the country; they don't know it, and when they gallop their hearts are in their mouths; they are off their feed, fresh from a sea-voyage, and the high grooming of an English stable is a bad preparation for nights on the veldt, often frosty, with tropical sun next day. Cavalry Drill - Book is clear, practical, and concise, if officers would only read it; but how can you ask it when you tell the young fellows they must have £500 or £600 a-year of their own just to spell existence. Then a man who can't pass for the infantry is thought good enough for the cavalry, when the reverse should obtain.
The day on which Kimberley was relieved the Boer 100pounder was firing up to 2 P.M., just three hours before French rode in, yet in that three hours the 100-pounder and every other gun disappeared. It is not stated how many guns of
position were round Kimberley, but the case of the 100-pounder is typical. The nearest approach to it in our service is the 7-in., weighing 7 tons. If the Boer gun weighed anything like this, its removal must have been miraculous. No doubt the sudden appearance of the cavalry came as a surprise to Colonel Kekewich, who had not kept his eye on the gun, or it could hardly have escaped, for the garrison, acting on the interior of a circle against so slow-moving a load on the circumference towards the only line of escape, by the north, must have seen it.
But it is at Ladysmith, where guns, waggons, baggage, and ammunition were waiting, almost asking, to be taken, that the failure to reap the reward was most evident. The capture of Pieter's Hill was so sudden and so terribly in earnest that the wind was all out of the Boers, flying in ample disorder without looking back, but no effort was made to turn what was a bad defeat into a crushing disaster. It was common camp knowledge camp knowledge that Long Tom from Bulwana was stuck fast for eighteen hours in a drift four miles out, but the cavalry were not suffered to go after it; also that when he rode into Ladysmith Buller was pressed to push on with all speed to overtake the Boer convoy, guns, and ammunition, which were hopelessly stuck. The cavalry ought to have been fresh enough, and only three brigades of infantry had been fighting hard lately, out
a brigade went out after the flying Boers and did not catch them. But it was a glorious victory!
some 20,000 men north hands with Sir G. White, and of the Tugela. There must have been another brigade or two that would have roused up when they were told that the Boers were on the run, and have picked up enough strength to run after them.
There was only one road down Bulwana by which Long Tom could come: it was a road easy to find, newly made during the siege. Could not some 'department" or other have found it out, and, with a couple of companies, waited at the bottom for the Boers and their gun? There were at least thirteen guns of position round the town, and we let the Boers take them all away. Their terminus at Modder Spruit was only 13 miles from Nelthorpe, the sidings there crowded with Boer trains, yet we made no effort to get them, content to watch the last steam out and the culverts blown up.
There is no branch of military education which is crammed so persistently down our throats as the value of the pursuit after a defeat. Once on the run, let there be no delay, not instant push out the freshest troops-harry him-bustle him -give him no breathing timebring up every man-fling out the cavalry-gallop the guns ahead where they will threaten his line of retreat, regardless of risk-chance anything and everything to keep him on the run you can pick up the pieces at your leisure when you come back. But General Buller sat quietly at Nelthorpe: he rode in next afternoon to shake
That the army is at one with Lord Roberts the following letter from camp round Ladysmith shows :—
"Blundered through at last!' This was in substance the opinion in the bivouacs when, on the eventful 27th February, late at night, the news spread that some of our cavalry were in the besieged town. There was satisfaction in the relieving
force, but no enthusiasm. was felt that we had not done as well as we might have done; and, looking back at the series of events which has led from the Colenso disaster up to the storming of the kopjes above the Tugela Falls under cover of a fire of heavy guns such as has perhaps never been experienced before by troops holding an intrenched position, it is impossible not to admit that the first impression was the right one.
The battle of Colenso has been much criticised, and it admits of much criticism. Undue stress has perhaps been laid upon the ignorance as to the Boer strength and the Boer dispositions which prevailed in a camp only five miles from their line of defence. Kaffir intelligence has never in this war been trustworthy with regard to numbers. The river prevented reconnaissances from being pushed home. The ground favoured concealment at unlooked for points of resistance. But this
very uncertainty as to the force which a crafty mobile enemy was in a position to array against us makes the plan of attack the more inexplicable, its only justification indeed being the conviction generally entertained that any opposition offered by the Boers would certainly be of a perfunctory and harmless character.
The worst place to attempt to force the passage of a river is at a salient angle. Yet the first attack was made at a salient angle, across a bare, bullet-swept plain. If a position is to be attacked at two points, the attacks should be simultaneous. But at Colenso the second attack was only attempted after the first had failed. It would seem to be the first principle of tactics in attacking a river-line that the enemy should be driven across the river first, or at least that any hostile bodies on the near side should be too weak to seriously threaten the flanks of the assailant army. Yet Hlangwane Mountain, south of the Tugela and east of Colenso, was strongly held by the Boers, and seriously threatened our right throughout the day. On paper the plan of attack was indefensible. In actual practice it failed utterly and completely, with disastrous loss to the troops and grave damage to the prestige of the British army and its leaders.
in getting guns into such a perilous position, an equally grave blunder was committed in deliberately abandoning guns which had been merely silenced, and which the remnants of their personnel and the infantry hard by fully expected would be withdrawn under cover of night. The incident is almost inexplicable. Still it is only fair to say that no amount of tactical skill would have secured triumph on that unfortunate day. The enemy was too strong numerically, and was too well posted, for attack upon him to succeed with the available British force. Later experience has proved that the 15-pounder guns are practically useless for attack on the intrenched Boer positions; and early in December the howitzer battery and the heavy 5-inch battery had not arrived, nor was the navy so well represented as it was two months later. It was a hopeless enterprise from the first.
The second attempt to relieve Ladysmith was undertaken under far more favourable auspices. The British infantry force had been nearly doubled, while there is no reason to believe that the enemy had gained any appreciable accessions of strength. The howitzers and some additional naval guns, besides several field-batteries, had arrived. There had been ample time for the organisation of the The episode of the two field- line of communications and the batteries which came to such commissariat and transport serserious grief has been much vices. The Boers had, morecommented upon. But if a over, in the meantime made a grave blunder was committed bold attack upon Ladysmith,
and had been greatly shaken by the tremendous losses sustained in a venture reflecting credit upon the courage of the rank and file rather than upon the skill of their leaders. And for a time it looked as if the task set to the Natal Field Force was about to be accomplished.
Although reconnaissances of the mounted troops beyond Springfield might well have warned the Boer generals that a British move on that side was impending, it would seem to be the case that the seizure of the Waggon and Potgieter's drifts over the Tugela, twentyfive miles above Colenso, and the passage over the stream of our advanced troops, came upon them as a complete surprise. There were no trenches, and scarcely any Boers. A considerable part of the relieving army passed the river unopposed, and advanced a short distance. But then there came a pause most disastrous pause. The generals hung about the drifts directing transport waggons. The cavalry, which had managed to escape for once and to perform its proper role, was peremptorily recalled, after carrying dismay into the hostile camps far in rear of the river. And the enemy gathered in full force, intrenched himself at leisure, and defied us to come on.
Then followed the unfortunate affair of Spion Kop. A single brigade, unsupported by any other troops on its flanks or by artillery fire, captured part of a mountain, and after
holding on stubbornly to an indefensible position, was compelled to evacuate it by the concentrated fire of guns and infantry spread out around it, and in absolute security. The losses were very serious. And with this deplorable disaster ended the second attempt to relieve Ladysmith, which had at the outset carried with it so many elements of success. A mobile foe had been caught napping; but it had been subsequently dealt with as if the object was to allow the hostile forces to gather for a decisive trial of strength, instead of its being the relief of a beleaguered camp by a well-conceived operation of war. The reverse was most unfortunate, and it to a certain extent affected the morale of the army, inasmuch as all ranks were aware that the attempt had been made in full strength, that no appreciable reinforcements were to be expected, and that at the commencement of the venture we held the trumpcards.
The third attempt was doomed to failure at an early date. Whatever chance there was of success was thrown away by the enemy being allowed to see what was contemplated, and being given ample time to prepare for it. Guns were with great difficulty hauled to the top of the precipitous Schwartz Kop in full sight of the Boers, who met the move by insidiously mounting a 100-pounder gun on the Dorn Kop opposite, commanding the contemplated field of