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out of pigeon-holes carefully prepared schemes for the attack of the vulnerable points of the enemy and the defence of our most assailable possessions, and to telegraph orders accordingly; and last, but not least, wellauthenticated reports of the secret plans and designs of our foe. In relation to this point, it is satisfactory to note from the Civil Service Estimate that the grant for Secret Service has been increased this year from £30,000 to £65,000.
One word in conclusion regarding the information afforded by our Intelligence Department at home in connection
with the present war. From a letter written by the correspondent of the 'Standard' at Ladysmith, and which appeared in March, it would appear that, from some means or another, the actual text of the information and the advice given by the Department have become public. It is stated that when General Symons was mortally wounded these important papers were in his pocket, from which they were abstracted in hospital. At all events, the correspondent says that the "précis of the information has become common property to Boer and British," and he quotes the actual text, which apparently he has
The quotations fully bear out the conclusion arrived at, and mentioned in the commencement of this paper, that the Intelligence Department had been in no way misled, but had given full and accurate information on every point:
moreover, that the forecast which they made, that the Free State would inevitably throw in their lot with the Transvaal, was as clear and decided as subsequent events have justified. The only question now to be decided is, Why were preparations inadequate? The answer is simple: we have had many precedents for warnings being disregarded and information unheeded-none more remarkable than the manner in which the French Government treated the despatches of Stöffel before the '70 War. We have another parallel: it is stated that the French officers had admirable maps of Germany furnished to them, but none of their own country, in which they had to fight. Similarly, the country south of Ladysmith, which was the scene of so many terrible conflicts and so much loss of life during the last few months, was unmapped and unsurveyed, the explanation being that the home authorities considered that this should have been done by the Colonial Government, and would not incur the expense involved by such a survey.
The moral of the whole case is this a moral which recently I endeavoured to impress on the House of Commons (I may add in a very empty and a not very attentive House, as is nearly always the case when military matters are discussed) -our Intelligence Department wants strengthening and enlarging: it requires more officers and more money.
FRANK S. RUSSELL,
THE WAR OPERATIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA.-VI.
BY A MILITARY CONTRIBUTOR.
BLOEMFONTEIN-THE TACTICS OF TRIFLES-RESPONSIBILITY
-OUR LOST OPPORTUNITIES-THE LADYSMITH RELIEF OPERATIONS:
LORD ROBERTS found himself at Bloemfontein, with 30,000 men, a fixture: his march had taken the heart out of the Boers, the mass of their fighting strength had moved north and gave no sign, his communications had been restored and the Free State through which they ran had been visited, the farmers had given up their arms and had accepted his proclamation; but he was a fixture he could not move for want of remounts-horses for his cavalry, mules for his transport. The loss in horse-flesh, especially in those five days' march on Kimberley, had been exceptionally heavy: it is said that when Bloemfontein was reached not a battery could go into action faster than a walk, and that 120 horses was all that many cavalry regiments could muster. Without a strong mounted force no bold turning movement would be possible. So horses were called for: fit, or partially fit, they must come; many were in the remount camps recovering from from the voyage; as they landed they looked awful, yet they had to go forward as fast as they could be shod to undergo a railway journey of at least three days and three nights in rough cattle
trucks, seven or ten in each, every horse with his hind-shoes newly on, his nose-bag and his head- and heel-ropes round his neck.
To feed and water them in the trucks was not easy: no officer could be spared in charge, only a half-breed conductor and a few Cape Boys. It is safe to say that many horses never tasted food or water for the whole of those three days' exhausting journey. It is the distances which military operations in South Africa have against them.
So the army remained immovable day after day — not a sign of life to the Boers, who plucked up courage and began to look about them. President Steyn issued a counter - proclamation threatening the sternest penalties if his Boers put their faith in Lord Roberts. Kruger published lies about the Russians in London. Four Zarps scouting south across the Modder shot some colonels of the Guards. The colonels in question would be none the worse of a change home, if not for their own sakes, certainly for the sake of others. A commando, growing bolder, crept down to a line of kopjes a few miles south of Brandfort and required two Divisions to
turn them out, with 100 casualties on our side. Colonel Broadwood, who had been despatched to Thabanchu to watch Ladybrand and possibly intercept the Boers retreating north along the Basuto boundary, had remained there without anything to report, when on the 30th March the approach of two Boer commandoes from north and east determined him to retire on Bloemfontein, which he did, encamping early next morning at the Water-works, twenty miles east of that town, where two companies of mounted infantry had been left for their protection. The Boers followed him up and began to shell the camp from the rear, inducing him to send off a convoy with baggage, two batteries Royal Horse Artillery, and some mounted men to Bloemfontein-himself with the rest of the troops remaining as a rear-guard. After marching two miles the convoy struck an affluent of the Modder, called Koorn Spruit, in which during the night the Boers had concealed themselves in ambush. There appears to have been no advanced guard, not even a party in front of the guns; the waggons which were leading were allowed to enter the defile, being guided by armed Boers, right and left, so as to clear the road for the guns. When these were well involved the Boers opened fire: a scene of the wildest confusion ensued, men, guns, horses, cattle, and waggons were mixed up; many drivers and men were shot down at once, seven
guns, all the waggons, and about 350 men remaining in the hands of the Boers. It was said that a house on the far side belonged to Pretorius, a Free State commandant who had given up his arms. arms and taken the oath, and had then rejoined the Boers, his family after the action helping to loot the waggons. Pretorius then made off to the Boer army at Kroonstadt. Here at all events is a case which requires exemplary punishment.
But so disgraceful an exhibition of carelessness and neglect of orders reflects on the military education of our officers, and gives a handle to every illmeaning critic at our expense. One report says the escort was in rear, meaning probably the troops detailed to precede the guns. An escort is not required except when guns are in, or are going into, action. Another report says the waggons were at the head of the column when they were directed to turn aside by the Boers: the drivers would have been Kaffirs, but it is usual that a guard should be spread along the line, a man to every one or two waggons. If this had been done they would have met with the Boers giving orders, would have seen that something was wrong, and would have given the alarm. The blame attaches to the escort for not being in its proper place; to the officer commanding the guns for allowing it to fall in rear; to the guard for not keeping close to the waggons, and for not warning the column if they were
there; and, lastly, most of all, to the officer in command of the column for not issuing the proper orders, or, if issued, for not seeing that they were obeyed. Even with the scanty materials at hand it is plain, as the 'Times' says, "the disaster is an excellent subject for stern and indispensable military justice."
Only three days after this miserable exhibition another disaster befell our military assurance. General Gatacre sent out three companies of Irish Rifles and two of mounted infantry, in all about 400 men, to Reddersburg, a village twelve miles east of the railway at Bethanie, to collect arms. They appear to have reached Dewetsdorp, thirty miles farther east, when 2500 Boers, with three guns, managed at night to get between them and their base at Reddersburg. They took refuge in a kopje about eight miles east of that place, where they intrenched themselves, and held it during some twenty hours, without food or water. Then ammunition running out, they surrendered. General Gatacre, who had been telegraphed to by Lord Roberts, arrived an hour and a half too late. It seems strange again that the General of the line of communications in an enemy's country should have taken no precautions to ascertain that the intervening country was vacated by the enemy before detaching so small a force to his flank, and then not to arrange for constant communication with it. It was known
all along that the mobility of the Boers allowed detached bodies to move across country with extreme rapidity, as they were unburdened with waggons, and the country-people were all on their side. The force was infantry, which could only move at infantry pace, accompanied by some mounted men not sufficient in number to do any extended work. A force so constituted was unadapted to carry out duties at any distance from its base. As separate bodies each party might have held its own; joined together, the infantry clogged the mounted men, while they in turn were too few to cover the retreat of the infantry. General Gatacre seems to have thought the state of the country to be one of profound peace brought about by the surrender of a dozen old sporting rifles.
When will officers learn that tactics are not all heroic? Such can safely be left in care of that Staff College officer who threw a bridge over the canal at Aldershot, and threw it very well, but did not notice that an enemy's battery had helped him in the throwing. Soldiers, not altogether of the new school, are content to mess round the "tactics of trifles." The attack on Belmont was to be a surprise, so it was timed to commence at daybreak. As that silent column approached, a wire fence stretched across the way. A pioneer was called, and with two vigorous blows of his axe upon a supporting stake the wire was cut. The noise of those vigorous blows cost Lord
Methuen 100 soldiers' lives or more. A colonel inspected his regiment in the early dawn previous to a long day's scouting, the troopers sitting erect in their saddles. It took a good many pounds out of the horses, who could not go quite up to the donga where the enemy was, but that dirty button was discovered. At Stormberg the column took the wrong turn. A heap of stones with a stick in the middle would have saved 600 men and three guns. At Koorn Spruit, if a company had preceded the guns, as is most strictly laid down, the ambush would have failed, and we should have ambushed the Boers. At Reddersburg, if continual messages had been sent off to Gatacre by day, certainly by night, and not a shot fired till the Boers came close to, our men would not have run short of ammunition, and the relief column would not have been just ninety minutes late. Baden-Powell at Mafeking has expended as much commonsense as would have done for the whole campaign. Common-sense is not yet taught as a military subject.
The renewed activity of the Boers brought out the true character of the "simple farmer." Lord Roberts had treated him as a civilised being, but he is only a savage veneered. When he allowed them to go back to their farms on condition of giving up their arms, accompanied with an oath not to take them up again, he did what policy dictated, which in a civilised country would be
accepted in the spirit in which it was offered. As one who knows the Boers says, "He can scarcely be considered a civilised being. There is a suspicious look in his eyes, an indifference to the feelings of dumb animals, a disbelief in, and disregard of, truth and honour; while the Boer woman is one of the most narrow-minded and most animal-natured of the human race." After the retrocession of the Transvaal in 1882 the Afrikander Bond had been hatched in Bloemfontein, and had become an article of faith in the Free State, its avowed object the future confederation of all States and Colonies of South Africa. "There is just one hindrance to confederation, and that is the English flag. They must just have Simon's Bay as a naval and military station on the road to India, and give over all the rest of South Africa to the Afrikanders." With such a people to deal with, was it not rather optimistic to accept those two or three sporting rifles and the farmer's word that he had no more?
But to lay the burden of dealing with rebels on existing authority means delay: to be effective, punishment must be speedy-it is the instant certainty which deters. RomanDutch law is very good when there is no hurry; trial by jury is safe when the men on the jury are not bitter partisans: the rebels taken with arms in their hands on the 1st January at Sunnyside are still unconvicted. Martial law is incon