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greater part the south But they had detected his inbank, which they had strongly tention, and were already in intrenched, the flanks resting retreat, which the fire of our on the inevitable kopje, that naval guns turned into a gento the south on a group called eral rout. The entire Boer the Seven Sisters, that army turned and ran helterthe north, across the river, on skelter across the plain, leaving a flat - topped kopje of some behind stores, waggons, their extent and well watered; the half-cooked dinners, and one space between strengthened by gun,-flying eastwards, and so fortifying a line of kopjes, and escaping our infantry, which a second line in rear, elaborately was moving up the Modder to prepared for defence, extending intercept them. Our cavalry to a formidable position on the tried to charge on several ocModder at Poplar Grove, the casions, but the horses were whole specially adapted to meet knocked up, and the Boers were a frontal attack.
allowed to escape.
Had the But the
the tactics of Lord cavalry division made a slightly Roberts were unwilling to lend more extended circle, it is probthemselves to those of the able that the general's plan Boers. His intention was to would have succeeded. turn their left flank with a Now that we have a cavalry cavalry division, while his in- division numbering some 6000 fantry would meet their line of horses, the question of where defence as it was rolled up they are to come from, and northwards, with the result
the result how we are to feed them when that their entire force would we have got them, becomes be enclosed, as was the case paramount, as it always is, in with Cronje. Accordingly, the South Africa. It is one of the 9th Division marched off along paradoxes of a country where the north bank at day break on every one rides, that neither the 7th March, followed by the hay nor oats is possible: the 6th and 7th Divisions on the nearest approach to the latter south bank, with the Guards is oat-hay, the oats in the brigade in the centre. General
many bundles a French, with five mounted bri- shilling, as if it were asparagus, gades and seven Horse Artillery - and the supply is not un
batteries, crossing the river the limited. Mealies, the only alprevious day, moved south-east, ternative, do not suit English till, when daylight came, he horses, who will not eat them, found himself opposite the Boer and if they do they are apt left flank. The enemy opened to droop. It was a sad and on him with shrapnel, which too frequent sight in the Zulu was ineffective, and turning war to see those big, 16-hand farther south, he passed over chargers of the 17th Lancers a grassy plain for some miles, and the King's Dragoon Guards when he again turned east stand, gaunt skeletons, with for three miles, and again their legs apart, and poor wistnorth to get behind the Boers. ful eyes watching the troop
trot by, only to totter where is a belt of “fly-country” forty they stood and die. The only miles across between, where pasture on the veldt is in every horse and mule would spring when the grass is green. have remained. Mr Kruger By midsummer all will be dead declared war when the grass stalks that rustle in the wind, was springing, and it has done knee-high, on every stalk a tick, . ever since, so his ponies Grass like this does not make could feed as they went: now hay—the farmers burn it just it is dying down for winter, where it grows, to manure the when there is no feed, and ground and kill the ticks. forage must be carried, of which
Then the climate is the Boers have none. Through deadly. Horse-sickness, pink- the winter the high-veldt, where eye, attack country - breds as the fighting now is, is deserted, well as imported. The worst the Boers driving their stock time is autumn. Day after down to the low-veldt, where day your horse has carried they can pick up a living. For you, feeds well, and has done a Boer to fight throughout an easy work: then no sooner is African winter is impossible the saddle off than he lies unless he leaves his pony bedown, foams at the mouth, hind, which he won't do. This swells like a cask, and is dead; difficulty with us is not so or he strays for food not fifty acute - it only means more yards away, lies down just transport. Winter will put where he feeds, and does the strategy and tactics on same—he has eaten tulip-grass. side. Riding with a troop of Hussars, To Lord Roberts is due the we off-saddled on a green bit of solution of the kopje: he disturf by the side of a brook that covered that that feature has a rippled --- a rare thing where flank, and he used his knowmost are sluggish, almost stag- ledge to the elimination of the nant; and the horses, enjoying South African bogey. There their liberty, started playing are kopjes and kopjes. Cronje's by its side, picking daintily as kopje is a savage thrusting up they did.
Then they came defiant from the flat; a load of back wearily, telling us they bricks shot in the road before a were not well, and lay down house that is building, every and died ; quite half the num- brick a block of stone, black or ber-tulip-grass again.
grey, often trickling with green There is the “fly," a small slime, in size varying from a bluebottle which settles only to wheel - barrow to a hay - rick, kill. Happily it cannot exist the space between springing in civilised parts-only a few with lank grass stems, once belts which it still haunts re- green, now brown, a neutralmain south of the Limpopo. tinted background for the An amateur strategist sug- tritomas, blazing up red - hot; gested that we should land round the base a patch of an army at Delagoa Bay and green, welcome in the march it on Pretoria. There rounding brown, where the
trickle has oozed down to make including those of position, on a marsh. Kopjes in the Free the enemy, but it is doubtful State are
often lower, flat if more than one or two guns topped, the slopes more gentle were disabled; while grass-covered; on one side steen “preparing "away the defendand weather-worn, sloping eas- ers from the point to be asily on the other to the veldt, saulted, they jumped up almost domesticated, as if they had to a man with their Mausers as been chained up in the farm- soon as our infantry appeared. yard that nestles under them Now the guns must be silenced and had got tame.
before the infantry attack is At the same time, with the launched : the failure to storm exit of the kopje, the Boer the Redan was owing to the tactics, which without excep- Russian guns remaining effection centre in that feature, are tive, and meeting the assault well worth studying: they reveal something like a revolu- It is difficult to understand tion in the struggle for the how the Boers have kept their mastery between guns and guns during this artillery atground. Ground has been tack. The huge blocks of irongaining in resisting power, no
stone of which the kopjes are matter what increase in shell- built give excellent shelter from power the guns may show- bullets, whether rifle or shrapthe flat trajectory of modern nel, and largely from common
the chief cause. shell, but against naval guns Thus howitzers have been and howitzers firing heavy again introduced, yet the kopje lyddite shells disjointed blocks holds its own.
of stone should add to the A tactical manoeuvre hitherto danger: earth is mostly wantplaced well to the front, known ing for head-cover, disappearing in military jargon as “prepara- carriages are only useful behind tion by fire,” has to confess it- thick earthern parapets, but self beaten. Before a position where is so much earth to come
be stormed it must be from? The balloon must have “prepared” by a concentrated seen such an enormous mass if artillery-fire, directed, first it were there. The Boer guns against the guns of the defence, did not reply to the "preparathen, these silenced, on the point tion” at Colenso and elsewhere; to be assaulted. Lord Methuen but they were always on the concentrated
great many spot as soon as it ceased-they guns-as many as he had, in- could not have been retired or cluding naval guns — against moved into recesses. If such every position he attacked on tactics in the case of heavy the march to Kimberley, with guns can be persevered with, the result that the Boer guns an infantry assault should be were not disclosed till they a thing of the past. were wanted at the next kopje. We get a glimpse of Boer At Vaal Kranz, General Buller infantry protecting themselves concentrated seventy-two guns, in trenches 6 feet deep, the side
field - guns
towards the enemy hollowed out to transfer the defence to a at the base to give shelter to threatened flank in time to the men standing in the trench, meet a turning movement has while its original width at the put the tactics of the past at a top was not increased, the disadvantage. At the whole partially roofed over as time, it is not an incident which protection against the weather, will forbid flank attacks. There
of sand - bags along is no flank which cannot be the front to afford head-cover turned, however mobile the deto the shooting line. No doubt fenders are, provided the attack extremely few men held them, gets round far enough, when the trenches communicating these miles of trenches are but with each other to allow rein- labour lost. Magersfontein and forcements to come up quickly Colenso cost incredible labour, to any threatened spot. This yet a well-directed movement deep trench some distance in forced them to be abandoned. advance of the position is new, The prodigal use of barbed and will account for the small wire as an entanglement was loss our fire inflicted on the possible to the Boers in South defenders, who were 100 yards Africa, where it could be approor more from the position which priated in vast lengths without was being "prepared. The payment.
We have read of advanced trench is nearer to six miles of such entanglement the attack than it expects, and round Magersfontein-probably so comes as a surprise, which an exaggeration, but still with is again an advantage. An a possibility of truth as to a American journalist writing mile or two. Now Chatham from Pretoria tells us " that tells us that the area to be the Boer new mode of fighting entangled is calculated by the is to put great numbers of their square foot, and barbed wire best shots, armed with Mausers being added, makes a plain and using smokeless powder, wire entanglement more effecout on the flat in rifle-shelters. tive at the cost of time; but On the sky-line of the hills Chatham never contemplated they post their Martini-Henry entanglements by the mile, and men with the old black-powder it is doubtful if such great cartridges. The latter are to lengths add much to security draw the artillery fire, while against assault. Troops are not the Mauser men in front are led against six miles of front. to shoot down the English The most tempting points are infantry and cavalry at close chosen where the attack is quarters.
intended to get in; the rest has The Boers no doubt have un- to be contented with demonlimited native labour, otherwise strations. We can safely conto dig miles of trenches, tier clude that both trenches and above tier, as they have round entanglements were excessive. Ladysmith and Magersfontein, The strategic movement on would be impossible to a Euro Bloemfontein was a masterly pean army; while their ability design, carefully calculated and
perfectly carried through. No in the waggon over the sides : doubt the attitude that Cronje thus a double tier of fire is might assume was an element brought on the level veldt outof doubt at the outset; but in side. dealing with it Lord Roberts Cronje surrendered on the followed a sound tactical prin- 27th February to an infantry ciple, "to bring the greatest force almost worked out by the force to bear on a given point forced march of thirty-five miles at a certain time”—the given from Modder river, followed by point being Cronje himself. a very warm engagement on Whether he fled north, or stood the 18th, and eight days' inhis ground, or decided on the vestment of a desperate enemy, course he adopted, he would the men on scanty rations owing find himself in face of a superior to the capture of a convoy which force. His disorganised flight was following; the cavalry was forced upon him by the skirting round many miles to sudden appearance of a cavalry the front to get touch with the division to isolate him on the Boers hurrying up to the relief Karroo in a position to which of Cronje, and who had to be the propinquity of water tied engaged and driven off in at him. Thus the initial success least two well-contested fights. of the move is due to the well- On the 1st of March, two ordered ride of those mounted days after the surrender, Genmen from the Riet.
eral Roberts commenced his The only cover available was march on the capital, to find in excavations made in the the
intrenched across banks of the Modder. Now his front. On the 7th inst. the a laager is to a Boer what a cavalry turned their position fort is to any one else : in all and drove them off in a diswars with the natives it had organised mob, to be caught been a feature, for it is proof up on the 10th inst. at Dreiagainst assegais and such guns fontein, when they were again as are supplied to Kaffirs. It defeated; and at last, when had beaten the natives, buu it they recovered fifteen miles could not save Cronje—it can- farther east, and were reported not stand against artillery. To to be holding the way with
. make a laager, the waggons as 12,000 and 18 guns, they come up form an open
General Roberts turned south square, each pushed end on and marched twenty-five miles against the one which to Venter's Vlei, where he was last, the desselboom under- in rear of them and only neath, so that the tail of the eighteen miles from Bloemfonlast touches the front of the tein, the cavalry reaching that preceding waggon; a trench is place at midnight. The next dug outside, and the earth day Lord Roberts took possesbanked up against the wheels sion of the town unopposed, till it reaches the body of the just a fortnight after Cronje waggon; the Boers lying down surrendered, during which the fire over this bank, and others infantry had marched ninety