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circumstances did not admit of and the campaign was won-it our striking promptly as soon was a big prize! as the blow was decided on, or General Buller disclosed his that we have never followed up intentions on the 11th January, the first by a second blow. but it was not till the 23rd that
The Boers knew, when Gen- Spion Kop was taken, giving eral Buller arrived at Frere on the enemy so long to strengthen the 25th November, that he his flank. It was known that, came to conduct the attack the Boers being mounted, a which was to lead to the relief turning movement was almost of Ladysmith; but it was not impossible: given less than a till the 15th of December that week, and a flank becomes their the blow was delivered, giving front. Would it have been posthem three weeks in which to sible, knowing this, to push out embellish their trenches. a flying column, carrying ab
General Methuen turned the solute necessaries only, to antiBoers out of Modder village on cipate this mobility ? In the 28th November; but a fort- absence of maps it might have night passed before he attacked been possible for a man with them at Magersfontein. Here an eye for country to get across the river was the obstacle; but the river with his horse, half-athe materials of the village dozen rifles hidden away on the were available for rafting or south bank to cover his retreat, for a rough bridge; some men and to have gained an idea of were already across when the the ground. Boers drove off: almost any It is not intended to suggest risk is legitimate when the what ought to have been done. enemy is in retreat and you The remarks are interrogative. want to catch him up. The Would any such action have next
the following day been possible under the circumMagersfontein should have stances ? To sit in an arm-chair fallen, like Belmont or Enslin; and to say how things ought barbed wire and trenches deep to have been done is to paint enough to hide a horse were a picture with your eyes shut. still to come. After our re- No doubt General Buller felt pulse there, most of the 9th that a further attempt must Brigade, a battalion of the be made, inadequate as was Guards, all the guns and cav- his force. The ways - in had alry, were fairly fresh; a second all been sealed - by Colenso, attack next morning, leaving by Acton Homes; while that the worked-out men to mind the by Weenen was a long way camp, might have got in. Our round, lending itself to Boer men were exhausted, but the mobility. The only road by Boers were more so, and a few Krantz Kloof still open was hours' shelling would have told; closed by tactical consideraour heavy guns must have had tions : it might just be possome fight left in them, ammu- sible to surprise it, and trust nition might have been brought to finding a secure position up with an effort; a little more overlooking the open country
south of Ladysmith, where he which can't catch up their would not be exposed to a con- rough ponies. Four months on verging fire from heavy guns the veldt hardens a man, and at a distance. But it was the the Boers from the first posway out again that required sessed excellent constitutions thinking of. He would be in for the hardening process. To a defile, commanding heights have been unsuccessful so long on either side in undisputed is not the only disadvantage occupation by the Boers, who our want of preparation has would be apt to squeeze in to- entailed. gether in his rear, and so form The road by Krantz Kloof a barrier between himself and was finally decided on: the his base, which must be the general scheme to make a feint pontoons across the Tugela : by Trichard's drift, on :
the thus a second Ladysmith would west, to draw off the Boers from be created.
the true crossing at Potgeiter's Before you enter a defile, the drift, five miles to the east. sides must be cleared of the Accordingly, some heavy guns enemy : this done, you were quietly moved to Zwart safely fight your way across Kop and secreted there in order the eight or ten miles in front to command the main point of to Waggon Hill. But here the crossing; these were followed containing heights were a long in the early morning of the way off-Doorn Kloof on the 5th February by Wynne's brieast, Spion Kop on the west, gade with five batteries Field two or three miles respectively; Artillery marching on Trichard's a valley of death between; drift, which they crossed, and broken, hilly ground; each advanced a short distance tokoppje and every donga to hide wards Brakfontein, - a mana Boer party, with "Long Toms cuvre which drew a large and automatic “Pom - poms” number of Boers from farther on the precipice above. Men east. After an hour and a half's cannot be asked to do so much. vigorous demonstration and The Boers they had to face are sharp skirmishing, General not what they were : hastily Wynne, having accomplished collected, without cohesion, the his object, withdrew over the slightest fancy for discipline, river in good order with slight and in face of artillery fire loss. That the trick succeeded for the first time : four months is learnt from Pretoria. The of victorious fighting - it is real attacking force bivouacked
painful to say so
- have con
the previous night under Alice verted a horde of stray units Kop on the right bank, and into a force of well - seasoned early on the 5th inst., under soldiers, confident in them- cover of the guns on Zwart Kop, selves, accustomed to stand up the Engineers with conspicuous to artillery fire, to repulse the gallantry promptly threw stoutest infantry attacks, and pontoon-bridge across the river to look with something like below Potgeiter's drift, when derision at the British cavalry, General Lyttelton's brigade, fol
lowed by General Hildyard's, between it and Brakfontein. crossed under a heavy fire They gained the advance trench, and advanced to a line of but were repulsed in about half koppjes which formed part an hour. of the Boer position farther But the level
which we north: these were prepared by occupied was cramped : there an overwhelming fire from 72 was no room for the guns, and guns, and at 4 P.M. the koppje little shelter against the crosscalled Vaal Kranz was taken fire which was continuous; a in a most brilliant fashion by 100-pounder had been hauled the 1st Durham. The Boers into position on Doorn Kloof, were completely surprised, and which all attempts failed to fled precipitately, leaving many silence; so General Buller was dead and several prisoners in compelled reluctantly to abanour hands.
On the 6th the don it. As he explained to Lord Boers made a most determined Roberts, “It was necessary after attempt to retake Vaal Kranz, seizing Vaal Kranz to intrench but were repulsed by the 1st it as the pivot of further operaRifle Brigade and 2nd Scottish tions; but I found, after trying Rifles, who had pushed on for for two days, that, owing to the the next koppje. The troops nature of the ground this was were now in occupation of a not practicable : it was also exlong ridge, on which they biv- posed to fire from heavy guns, ouacked. The whole time the which fired from positions by Boer guns on Spion Kop and which our artillery was domiDoorn Kloof were firing with- nated.” The retirement comout intermission. The shells menced at 9 P.M. on the 7th burst all around, but did little inst., the pontoons being taken damage. One of ours struck up after General Hildyard's an ammunition-waggon, which brigade had crossed the river. exploded and silenced the heavy In the morning the whole force Creuzot gun beside it. A second retired beyond the range of and third pontoon-bridge were the Boer guns, which continued constructed by the engineers, shelling them. who worked steadily under fire. In effect, though the attempt On the 6th inst. no further failed to relieve Ladysmith, it advance was made, the men had slackened the investment intrenching themselves against and given the garrison a short the heavy guns which the breathing-time, it had kept the enemy had mounted on the investing force moving, besides previous night in the gullies inflicting considerable losses on of Doorn Kloof and Spion Kop. it, and, perhaps most important Little damage was done, for of all, it had riveted the Boer Lyttelton's brigade held about main army to a strategically half a mile of ridge all day unimportant locality, preventunder their fire with slighting it from detaching any conloss. At 4 P.M., after a vigor- siderable help to the western ous shell-fire, the Boers made frontier, where it might expect another attack on the position, help would soon be urgently readvancing across a bare koppje quired.
There is no doubt that the writers of detective stories, who absence of maps of the country first imagine a crime and then north of the Tugela had much work back to the clue of the to do with the selection of an “ crooked sixpence." There advance by Spion Kop and by are a hundred positions, or Krantz Kloof and their subse- more, in northern Natal inquent abandonment.
viting defence or conversely Complaints have been made attack. We should certainly already that the troops have make maps beforehand of the not been supplied with maps, point we expected to assail, but for all strategical purposes —no doubt the Boers, having that published by Stanford, at all along intended to make a scale of 14 miles to 1 inch, is for Maritzburg by ample. It is when mancuvres Ladysmith, had mapped out happen in special localities that whatever country they foresaw a large-scale map is wanted, - might come into the fighting. a position, a hill like Spion Kop Had we known at the outbreak to be captured, the ground near of the war that Mr Rhodes a ford, buildings, or a village; would go to Kimberley and for these cases a mile of ground that Mr Kruger would go after may usefully be represented by him, we should have mapped out 4 inches on the map, or even by Magersfontein and the surround6. Maps on these scales show ing karoo on a gigantic scale. the contours of the ground, small streams, or at least the water-courses that hold them, Lord Roberts, on landing, the steepness of mountain-sides, found the strategy of the camthe presence of precipitous cliffs, paign altogether neglected, and the shape and extent of build- at once set to work to remedy ings, and all features important matters : transport was organin the attack or defence of that ised with marvellous energy by particular locality. But such his able and hard-working Chief maps to be useful must be reli- of the Staff, Lord Kitchener; able that is, accurate and a mounted brigade of local this can only be obtained by a Irregulars, under General Bracareful survey. The Ordnance bant, was formed; troops were maps, at 1 inch to the mile, of landed, provided with transthe United Kingdom, are too port, and despatched to unsmall for tactical purposes, and known destinations, and the have been constructed at a cost telegraph kept strictly under out of reach of most colonies, his own control, with the rewhile the time and skilled labour sult that on the 6th February expended would be equally great. he left for Modder river, to find Critics
it was not neces- himself there in command of a sary to survey the whole country. cavalry division, four infantry
Why not have mapped out on divisions, and a large artillery a large scale the neighbourhood force-probably, in all, 50,000 of Ladysmith ?” This is the argument born of wisdom-after- For the first time since the the-event, much affected by the commencement of the war
British general found himself the Highlanders out without in command of a field army so success : large reinforcements constituted as to be able to continued to arrive from Matake the offensive under condi- gersfontein while they were tions which the nature of the intrenching themselves, but on country and the mobility of the arrival of a cavalry force the Boers demand. General from Modder river the whole French, whose tactical resources dispersed with some loss. The against mounted enemy, object of the move being acthoroughly used to the features complished, General Macdonald of the ground and the habits of returned to Modder river. the country had pointed him out The turning movement which as specially fitted for the post, Lord Roberts had planned now was in command of the mounted began to develop. On the corps, consisting of three brig- morning of the 11th February ades of regular cavalry, three General French, with the or four batteries Horse Artil- Cavalry Division, left camp lery, together with mounted near Enslin for Ramdam, about infantry and Colonial forces, twelve miles east, within the numbering probably in all 6000 Free State border, and concen
This mounted corps was trated for the night, followed in
camp near Honey Nest on the next morning by the Kloof; two infantry divisions 6th Division, under General remained at Modder river Kelly - Kenny.
- . The cavalry camp, fronting Magersfontein, pushed on to De Kiel's drift, and the remaining two divi- on the Riet river, which was sions were echeloned along the seized after slight resistance, railway south of that camp. the troops camping on the
No doubt Commandant north bank. Here the 7th Cronje, in command of the Division and baggage came up, Boer forces round Kimberley, and a long delay took place :
, aware of the concentra- the transport parked on the tion at Modder river; and as south bank, while the waggons the success of the turning move- were passed over with great ment depended upon effecting difficulty owing to the steepa surprise, a false movement ness of the north bank, and it on the 3rd inst. was made on was not till 4 A.M. on the 13th Koodoosberg, a drift across the that the greater part was Modder about eighteen miles across. This delay was unforwest, by General Macdonald, tunate, as it might give Comwith the Highland Brigade, the mandant Cronje sufficient time 9th Lancers, and a battery of to get away most of his guns, artillery. After two days they which otherwise must have arrived at the drift and in- fallen into our hands. trenched themselves. Next day The 6th Division crossed the a large body of Boers ap- Riet river by Waterfal drift on proached : they mounted a gun the 14th, and continued on to on the north end of the ridge the Modder at Klip drift. On and shelled our position, making the same morning the cavalry a determined effort to drive division pushed on to Wegdraas,