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