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three hours with an enemy estimated to number 6000, in a practically impregnable position, and one which it was hopeless for a small attacking party to carry.

The question asked is, "Why was so small an attacking party detailed to attempt the assault of a practically impregnable position?" General Gatacre says, "The idea of attack on Stormberg seemed to promise certain success. But the two conditions essential to the success of a night - attack are to know thoroughly where you are going and the road that leads to that point; and to keep the enemy in absolute ignorance of your intention and movements. These two essentials General Gatacre had learned at the Staff College. Had he any personal knowledge of the road to be traversed? The best local information is very often misleading: there are turnings to be avoided; features of the landscape look quite different by day to the same when seen by night. Such matters local knowledge does not take into account. And was he quite sure that the Boers did not know that he was coming? Why, the country was a nest of spies; every other man was on the Boer side. How could 2500 soldiers, with their guns and waggons, get into a train at a country station, get out again at another, and march away, occupying some

two

miles in length of a country road for a good many hours, while every one was looking the other way? There is no

answer. General Gatacre attempted the impossible on an empty stomach, with the aid of a policeman.

On the 12th December General Buller decided to advance towards Ladysmith in order to effect its relief. On the morning of that day General Barton's Brigade, with some naval guns, pushed forward within four miles of Colenso, a movement which caused some activity in the Boer laager, but no firing.

At 4 A.M. on the 15th General Buller moved out of Chieveley in full strength, with the intention of forcing a passage of the Tugela by one of the two existing fords. These are about two miles apart, the intention being to force one or the other with one brigade, supported by a central brigade. It will be noticed these two drifts cross the river where bends occurthat on the east where the near bank is salient towards the enemy, that on the west where our bank faces the reentering bend which he sees in front of him. Thus the passage of the first would be disadvantageous, that on the west in our favour.

General Hart was told off to attack the western ford, and General Hildyard that on the east, General Lyttelton in the centre to support either. General Hart appears to have met with a stubborn resistance, and he was foiled, not being able to force a passage. The Irishmen, with the 1st Connaught Rangers in front,

struggled across the river, a few being drowned in the passage, and gained the enemy's bank. But the position was untenable, and they had to retire. It seems probable from this that our artillery was unable to keep down that of the enemy, which would concentrate itself on either or both of the points of passage. General Hildyard then attempted to force the eastern drift, the 2nd East Surrey regiment occupying the railway-station and the houses in Colenso near the bridge; and he was preparing to advance

to

the ford, when, by some terrible accident or mistake, the whole of the artillery which had been sent back to assist his attack was put out of action. The disaster seems to have been caused through Colonel Long, in command, desiring to be within effective range, and so advancing close to the river that was full of Boers, who surprised the guns by a galling fire at close range, killing all the horses. Brave efforts were made by officers and men to drag away the guns; several were wounded, and General Buller would not allow another attempt. They were a veritable shell - mark, and the troops were ordered to withdraw. The Boers in considerable force made several attempts against the right flank of the general movement, but were checked by the mounted troops and part of General Barton's brigade. The day was intensely hot and most trying to the troops, whose conduct was excellent. Ten guns were abandoned and one

lost by shell-fire. The losses in General Hart's brigade were very heavy, falling largely on the 1st Inniskilling Fusiliers and 1st Connaught Rangers, Colonel Brooke being dangerously wounded: the 2nd Devonshire regiment and the Artillery also suffered severely. The total loss in killed, wounded, and missing was over 1100

men.

The news of this fresh disaster dealt a severe and sudden shock, and for a moment we were as men stricken with an unexpected blow. It was but for the instant. Then with one accord we stood up to face it. The Cabinet Ministers held a meeting in the afternoon of the day when the intelligence was received, and on the next it was announced that, as the campaign in Natal was likely to require the presence and undivided attention of Sir Redvers Buller, it had been decided to send Lord Roberts to the Cape as Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, with Lord Kitchener as his Chief of the Staff. Acting on the advice of the military authorities, the Government also approved the employment of volunteers and yeomanry.

It is no figure of speech to say that as soon as the Government let out their long-pent-up energy the nation as one man sprang to arms. Before nightfall the offers of service had largely exceeded the requirements. The competition to go to the front was embarrassing. The feeling among the Volunteers was one of pure and un

alloyed delight, and commanding officers were besieged by a rush of applicants to be among the selected few.

we are beaten. So we are in small matters, and the croakers ask, "Why?" Tell them this. The Boers have invented a new system of warfare, and we have been trying to beat them with our old system. The Zulus did the same, and beat us at Isandhlwana; but we beat them out and out at Ulundi. They started with quite a new system, and we met it with our old one and they beat us. They were the best fighters in open order in the world: we sent out the 24th Regiment in skirmishing order and they killed every man; but they could not shoot, and could not attack troops in close order, so we formed square and they gave in.

The Boer can move ten miles to our two; he is a very good shot with his rifle, and lives and fights in a country where Nature has built a fortress at every mile. He has an ex

From distant parts of the empire came the demand, "Stand firm; carry the thing through!" Canada offered at once 1000 well-equipped men; Sydney was prepared to send a battery of 15-pounders with the complement of men; the Canadian Militia Department was flooded with offers to serve. Even the Continental papers recognised "the calm manner in which the British nation confronts all the strokes of destiny, and the dignity with which they abstain from branding their generals as traitors," and perceived in the appointment of Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener "the proof that the South African campaign will be carried out to the bitter end." The decision to send Lord Roberts as Commander-in-cellent pony, and carries no Chief to the Cape was not in impedimenta. any way meant as a reflection on General Buller's action on the Tugela: the Government and the nation had still the firmest confidence in him; but, considering the critical position in Natal, thought it unwise that he should be absent from Cape Town, several days' journey by sea, when his presence was so urgently needed on the spot. The enormous increase in the force in South Africa required that the command should be held by an officer of supreme rank.

Some men still hold down their heads and cry out that

His tactics are

to garrison a fortress with a few hundred men and induce us to attack; he shoots a couple of hundred of us, we shoot twenty, and he slips away on his pony, to repeat the operation at the next fortress. We bury our dead, take a couple of old waggons that he has left behind, and call it a victory. The tactics of the Peninsula are not the tactics for South Africa. We want artillery to shake him out of his fortress, and mounted infantry and cavalry to catch him when he is running to the next. We can leave the infantry behind to look after camps and communications; no Boer will touch

them. All the Boer army cannot take Ladysmith; and BadenPowell with 600 Colonials keeps them out of Mafeking. General French at Arundel is the only one of us who has learned how to "conform" to the Boer tactics, and he beats them.

as

of

A cloud of despondency lowered over England the mail brought news reverse after reverse. Men had watched Buller's initial strategy, and said it was the relief of Kimberley and and of of Ladysmith which made the subdivision of his army necessary they had waited patiently all the time he had placed himself on the Tugela, while the Boers were rendering themselves impregnable, and said the delay was only to make the blow more crushing when it came. They had watched Lord Methuen deal blow after blow with sledge hammer power, but with a display of display of tactics such as might be expected from a conscientious navvy; and lastly, to crown all, they saw the man whom all their trust reposed attempt to cross a river in the face of a strongly intrenched enemy, and

in

lose eleven guns in the attempt. Here was the sledge-hammer with a vengeance. To force a river-line in face of a strongly intrenched enemy is a very costly matter, if our men's lives are to count. To force a river is essentially a matter of tactics. The place of crossing is selected, the troops that are to pass, secretly, got into the neighbour

VOL. CLXVII.-NO. MXI.

hood; meanwhile false attacks are delivered along the river's course, to deceive as to the true point of crossing; a few men get across, and a footing is established at the opposite bank under cover of the guns, and the passage will be accomplished. If it cannot be done in this way, try another-don't try the sledge-hammer again. But the guns; we lost eleven!

At Modder river, when Colonel Codrington led his gallant score of Coldstreams across the river, was there no one on the general's staff who saw it and could have hinted to him the fact, and that if he could send some more to support them the Boers would not like it-they would begin to melt away, as they did when the Highlanders got across on the left? There were plenty of men lying close under cover: if he had sent some of these, the Guards need not have made that fatal rush for an impossible bridge, and he would have caught many Boers who got away to fight another day at Magersfontein.

Have we not tried this nightattack once too often? A burnt Boer dreads the fire, and he is on the look-out about dawn for the bayonets that have tried that game before. Sir Garnet Wolseley made a successful night-attack on Tel-el-Kebir, and caught Arabi napping. Would he have succeeded a second time if that Egyptian had taken up another position?

At breakfast when we read in our morning paper of yester

K

day's fight the whole scene is before us the stony koppje, the climbing dots of khaki in amongst the stones, the bearded men peering through the crannies up above, the puffs of smoke, and those tell-tale thuds when the men in khaki lie down suddenly; another scramble, a precipice in front, a fire in their faces like the blast of a furnace, one more rush, a catching of short breaths, a gasp, a yell, and the top is won with a wild cheer, and the black-bearded men are streaming down the other side. How brave! how glorious! what noble soldiers! and the glory of the men out there seems to reflect back on ourselves a little of it. But we do not see the afterpiece, the thunderstorm; when the soldieratoms lie crouching, cold and shivering, on the sodden ground, the rocks they cling to for some shelter, a blaze of unholy light, the lightning like steel knives that stab and glitter, the thunder crashing through the deluge and the darkness. Curl together, men! Get warmth somehow, for there is none here; cold and wet and soaked, with a junk of "bully beef" inside and death and deluge on the

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other. All the long night till the moon shines out to stare upon the tragedy; then the first streak of grey, with the inevitable bullet: there will be more soon, but they are better than the everlasting darkness. It will be one more day scored off towards home, and there will be a cup of coffee soonhot! All this is left out of the picture which we see at the breakfast-table.

Officers who are intrusted with the command of men would do well to remember that a soldier is a man as themselves: under his red coat beats the same heart, are the same hopes, the same fears, the same resolute will to succeed, the same lack of physical strength to endure after a given point. To push men into railway-trucks under a broiling sun for some hours, to crowd them along a mountain road in the darkness for many more, when they are carrying their arms with an extra supply of ammunition, and with little or no food to sustain themselves, is to reach that point: the fight that is to come is beyond it, and human endurance throws up the sponge.

Note. By an oversight in our account last month of the storming of Talana Hill, the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers were inadvertently omitted. The hill was stormed by 1st Royal Rifles, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, and 2nd Dublin Fusiliers, with the 1st Leicestershire Regiment in reserve.

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