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