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who flock to South Africa during a war on the chance of picking up something; they are furnished with introductions, and are resplendent in gold-lace and trappings, like military Christmas-trees. Soldiers call them aasvogels. They come to pick up what is left of the carcass, like the vultures.
which could be dealt with by the troops forming the right of his line, which stretched from Warrenton and Boshof on the west to Ladybrand on the east, distant apart about 160 miles, on which for attack perhaps 70,000 men were available. The country he must pass over, on his left and centre, is fairly easy, that on the right broken and difficult. The high veldt is reached about 100 miles north of Bloemfontein-a great, sandy plain covered with coarse grass, small kopjes here and there, with little or no water except after a thunderstorm, when it lies in the pans and vleis for a short time. South of this are many low hills and stony ridges, intersected by numerous water-courses, at this season mostly dry; the drifts heavy with deep sand, the principal obstacle the Zand river, a little south of Kroonstad. On the right the country is mountainous, the mass of Thabanchu rising out of the western slopes of the great Platberg, an extremely strong position overlooking Ladybrand, from which the road to Ficksburg crosses a hilly country till it gains the high veldt on which Harrismith, the terminus of the railway to Natal, is situate. The troops advancing on this line are, roughly on the left, at Fourteen Streams, Hunter's division, with Barton's brigade; Lord Methuen at Boshof, with On the 23rd April, after some about 1000 mounted men and six weeks' rest, Lord Roberts two infantry brigades, in reserve, found his army sufficiently at Kimberley; at the centre mobile to advance. His com- with Lord Roberts, following munications in rear were cleared with the exception of some scattered bands in the east,
was making a road between two camps when an aasvogel rode up: we wore the clothes we had been standing in and had slept in since we landed, and our rags made him haughty. The road was not to his liking, the gradients were wrong, the metalling-oh! there was no metalling; he would show me how to do it. He talked for a long time, then I dismissed him; he talked to the general afterwards, and he dismissed him too, and we heard no more of him. Is it any wonder that men who have lived on the veldt inside one suit of clothes for months, and know how to do it, should dislike aasvogels, who don't? There were flocks of them in South Africa, some provided with snug billets as soon as landed; others drifting, everywhere found wanting, nowhere of any use: some were shifted, others sliding downwards were glad to bring up anywhere, many to retire to the shady glades of Pall Mall. The vultures had to look elsewhere for a carcass.
the railway, French with the cavalry division, Ian Hamilton with the mounted infantry, and
four infantry divisions with the Guards' brigade; on the right, Brabant's mounted Colonial division and two infantry divisions.
The general idea was to drive a wedge into the centre of the enemy's line, the apex of the wedge consisting of infantry under the personal command of Lord Roberts, a mounted division on either flank; the infantry in the centre to be thrust out against any Boer position found across its road, when the mounted troops would ride round one or both flanks, aiming at the enemy's rear-a manœuvre which would be likely at once to put the enemy to flight and leave the central infantry to occupy the position without firing a shot.
On the 3rd May Lord Roberts pushed out to Brandfort, which was taken easily, the mounted troops moving on twenty miles to the Vet river, on the north bank of which the Boers were strongly posted in considerable numbers. A fierce artillery duel followed until sunset, ending in a turning movement, when the mounted Colonials made a dash at a kopje occupied by the Boers, and took it with the bayonet, the entire Boer force flying during the night. Our infantry bivouacked three miles south of the river, and moved on next day to Smaldeel, the junction of the branch line to Winburg. All along the Boers in retreat had considerably damaged the railway, the bridge over the Vet hopelessly so; while, not content with blowing up bridges, great and small, they had placed charges of explosives at intervals of
every hundred yards, fortunately discovered by a Colonial trooper. The repairs were rapidly completed by the engineers, in order that the forward movement should not be delayed by the want of stores. A halt of two days was called at Smaldeel, to allow the cavalry from Thabanchu to rejoin and to complete the repairs to the railway. So closely did the mounted troops follow up the Boers, that they were at Winburg before their transport was clear. Winburg was occupied on the 7th May by the Highland Brigade, which found there large quantities of grain and ammunition; General Ian Hamilton pushing on to the Zand river, where the enemy were found ready to dispute the passage.
All this time a great quarrel was proceeding between the Free Staters and Transvaalers, large numbers of the former coming in with their horses and Mausers, notwithstanding the frantic endeavours of Mr Steyn to spread reports of the invasion of England by the Russians after she had been made to grant peace and independence to the Republics, owing to the pressure of France and Russia.
Anticipating resistance the Zand river, Lord Roberts on the 9th inst. concentrated at Welgelegen most of the mounted force, four brigades of heavy naval and garrison artillery guns, and three infantry fantry divisions. The 2nd Cheshire Regiment pushed on to the drift, where they crossed, and intrenched themselves, followed in the early morning by
the entire force, the cavalry crossing some miles farther down, to threaten the Boer right. The mounted infantry crossed on the east, meeting with a continuous resistance; the infantry and guns at the railway drift. The Boers occupied a position twenty miles in length, necessitating a longer line to envelop it, which entailed some hard marching.
At 9 A.M. the passage had been forced, in face of an accurate shell-fire from the Boer
right, which soon collapsed when our artillery opened, and the position was taken. The Boers on the left still held on, sheltered by two rocky kopjes on which they had placed three guns. The advance across a plain was made by the 1st Sussex, supported by the C.I.V. and two batteries, till the former was within 500 yards, when the men fixed bayonets and charged, driving the Boers headlong before them. They were now in full retreat all along the line, alternately running and fighting for the rest of the day,— taking up positions in which to remount their guns and shell our advancing infantry, then limbering up and repeating the action in true rear-guard fashion, till the mounted infantry turned their left, sending them back a few miles, to extend again just as night fell. That night Lord Roberts bivouacked at Reitspruit, after, as he wired, "a most successful day." On the 11th he marched twenty miles to Geneva siding, the cavalry in touch with the retreating Boers, who were holding an entrenched position at Boschrand, which they evacu
ated the next day on the appearance of Lord Roberts. The cavalry seized a drift on the Valsch river just in time to prevent the enemy holding it, allowing Lord Roberts and his army to cross and enter Kroonstad unopposed at midday on the 12th May, completing the march of 120 miles from Bloemfontein, across a country admirably suited to Boer tactics, in ten days, with insignificant loss.
The feature of the success was the rapidity with which blow succeeded blow. No sooner were the Boers turned out of a position than the advance continued without a check, and a second blow was delivered before they had breathing - time to recover. It has been remarked before how this principle has been neglected in all previous actions. A success has been gained and the enemy in full retreat, but the victors sat down to refresh themselves, too much exhausted to pursue, forgetting that the beaten foe would be a good deal more exhausted; while, morally, as the spirits of the victors rise, so do those of the vanquished fall. Once get the enemy on the run, and it is sound tactics, certainly common-sense, to keep him going, and to allow him no rest till you have run him to ground. The effect on the Boers of this deliberate, unchecked advance was to paralyse their actionto take all the heart out of them. They waited for us in chosen positions, but we did not come on as they expected. It was not fair! They played the game quite correctly, and instead of the slow-going British
doing the same and flinging themselves against the kopjes, all of a sudden when they turned about there was that interfering cavalry riding up behind them, and it was all they could do to reach their own ponies and get safe away. No, it was not fair!
We ask, why was it left to Lord Roberts to play this game, so much against the Boers' cherished tactics? Every one in South Africa, many men in England, whoever had done a day's soldiering on the veldt, knew that their weak point was their ponies. Go for the ponies and the Boers would be out of their ironstone crannies and will gallop for it; but no one seemed to think of it, and so every kopje that the Boers' held is marked by a circle of graves, the evidence of those grand frontal attacks which we, at home, were called upon to applaud.
At Kroonstad, Lord Roberts found a convenient base for his further advance to the Vaal, eighty miles north, where the Boers might be expected to stand, in which case a rapid march and an unexpected appearance would again be expedient. To march rapidly through an enemy's country the flanks must be secure, and a sufficiency of supplies accumulated at the nearest base. So
a halt was called, as much for the urgent rest required for men and horses as to give time for stores to come up, hitherto delayed by the persistent destruction of the railway. Cavalry was pushed out right and left, riding north as far as Rhenoster spruit, where the
Ever since the investment of Mafeking by Cronje on the 15th October 1899 the more stirring events in the theatre of war, coupled with the scrappy news received, have overshadowed the doings of the brave little garrison confined in a village of mostly tin huts, scattered on the open veldt, in a corner of no strategical importance. To defend this were only about 500 irregulars, 300 police and volunteers, with two 7-pounders and six machine-guns,-a few hundreds of the townspeople and some natives joining later on, when an old ship's gun, christened "Nelson," was dug up and made use of. The whole was under command of Colonel Baden-Powell, an English cavalry officer who had been for some time on special service in South Africa. Early in the year news leaked through telling of the indomitable pluck and resources of men and leader. Excavations were made to shelter from the shells, a bell ringing to tell that one was
on its way. One day 80 men attacked, at night, Game Tree Fort, two miles outside, some of the officers fighting up to the sandbags and firing their revolvers through the loopholes; but it was found to be almost impregnable, roofed in with timber and galvanised iron, the loopholes too small to admit a man; so they had to retire, having lost half their number. Another time a trench was dug to within 900 yards of a big gun that had caused them annoyance, and was occupied for several nights, the men going out at dusk carrying food and water, till dusk again; their business to keep up an accurate fire on the gun and so make the gunners unable to load or train it.
So the days passed: continual fighting, continual hunger, but never disheartened; till news came of Colonel Plumer's advance from Gaberones, about ninety miles north, and that he was already in touch with the Boers. A movement in the enemy's laagers seemed to portend a trek-a hope which was rudely dispelled a few days afterwards. Colonel BadenPowell from the top of his house was watching for the arrival of the relieving force, whose guns were distinctly heard. But next morning Commandant Snyman forwarded a message that they might send out for the dead of Colonel Plumer's force who were lying on the battlefield-which, they heard afterwards, had been defeated fifteen miles north. In April the food question, always pressing, was met by a Scotsman, who contrived to
make oat-husks into an eatable porridge. Natives trying to rush cattle in were mercilessly shot down; and native women hoping to slip through the lines during daylight were stripped naked, flogged, and turned back; if by night, were shot down like dogs. Fever set in, and rations were reduced to 1 lb. of porridge and 1 lb. of horse-flesh, yet on the 200th day of the siege Colonel BadenPowell sent a message to Lord Roberts, "The patience of everybody in Mafeking in making the best of things, under the long strain of anxiety, hardship, and privation, is beyond all praise. The citizens are preparing to celebrate the 200th day of the siege by horse dinners.
Lord Roberts, at Modder river, had in a speech to the Highlanders promised that the relief of Mafeking was always present in his mind, later on fixing the 18th of May as the earliest date. Rumours of a flying column from Kimberley were rife, to be confirmed about the first week in May when General Hunter crossed the Vaal at Windsorton and defeated the Boers round Warrenton soon after. Then on the 10th of May a despatch from Pretoria brought news that a relief column of 3000 men was pushing rapidly along the railway, and was already at Vryburg, ninety-seven miles south of Mafeking. Half-way there, the report said, the Boers had defeated the advance-guard, but their general being killed, they were forced to retreat. The garrison was now reduced to eating brawn made from ox and horse hides,