BY LOUIS CRESWICKE AUTHOR OF "ROXANE," ETC.
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS
IN SIX VOLUMES
VOL. II.—FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE WAR TO THE BATTLE OF COLENSO, 15TH DEC. 1899
EDINBURGH: T. C. & E. C. JACK 1900
PAGE CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE vii
THE CRISIS AT HOME 1
IN SOUTH AFRICA 2
THE OCCUPATION OF DUNDEE 7
THE BATTLE OF GLENCOE 14
THE RETREAT FROM DUNDEE 32
SIR W. PENN SYMONS—GLENCOE 35
THE BATTLE OF REITFONTEIN 36
THE BATTLE OF LOMBARD'S KOP 41
THE DISASTER OF NICHOLSON'S NEK 45
THE SIEGE OF LADYSMITH 51
THE SIEGE OF MAFEKING 55
THE INVASION OF CAPE COLONY 76
THE BATTLE OF BELMONT 86
THE BATTLE OF GRASPAN 92
THE BATTLE OF MODDER RIVER 97
AFTER THE FIGHT 108
THE INVESTMENT OF LADYSMITH 110
ARMOURED TRAIN DISASTER AT CHIEVELEY 121
THE FIGHT ON BEACON HILL 132
ESTCOURT AND FRERE 139
SURPRISES AT LADYSMITH 145
FRERE CAMP 151
ACTIVITY AT THE CAPE 154
WITH GENERAL GATACRE 159
THE REVERSE AT STORMBERG 163
AT THE MODDER RIVER 168
THE BATTLE OF MAJESFONTEIN 171
CHIEVELEY CAMP 187
THE BATTLE OF COLENSO 188
FACSIMILE OF MS. OF MR. RUDYARD KIPLING'S WAR POEM "THE ABSENT-MINDED BEGGAR" 203
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS—VOL. II.
CHART SHOWING STAFF APPOINTMENTS MADE AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE WAR At front
1. COLOURED PLATES
PAGE "ALL THAT WAS LEFT OF THEM." The Black Watch after the Battle of Majesfontein. By R. Caton Woodville Frontispiece
OFFICER OF THE 9TH LANCERS 38
SERGEANT, KING'S ROYAL RIFLES 80
PRIVATE AND CORPORAL OF THE GORDON HIGHLANDERS 96
SERGEANT AND PRIVATE OF THE DUBLIN FUSILIERS 102
SIGHTING A NAVAL FIELD GUN 128
SERGEANTS OF THE ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY WITH A 12-POUNDER 144
SERGEANT-MAJOR OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES LANCERS 154
2. FULL-PAGE PLATES
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR—THE DRAKENBERG MOUNTAINS 6
THE OUTBREAK OF THE WAR—TRANSPORT LEAVING ENGLAND FOR THE CAPE 16
THE BATTLE OF ELANDSLAAGTE 26
BEFORE LADYSMITH—HORSE ARTILLERY GALLOPING TO TAKE UP A NEW POSITION 42
LADYSMITH, NATAL 54
NIGHT SORTIE FROM MAFEKING 64
THE BATTLE OF BELMONT 90
THE BATTLE OF MODDER RIVER 106
SCENE ON THE TUGELA 112
REPELLING AN ATTACK FROM THE TRENCHES AROUND LADYSMITH 138
FROM FRERE TO CHIEVELEY 150
STORMBERG PASS 160
THE MODDER RIVER 172
THE BATTLE OF COLENSO—QUEEN'S (ROYAL WEST SURREY) REGIMENT LEADING THE CENTRAL ATTACK 188
THE BATTLE OF COLENSO—THE DUBLIN FUSILIERS ATTEMPT TO FORD THE TUGELA 192
THE BATTLE OF COLENSO—THE LAST DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO SAVE THE GUNS 198
3. FULL-PAGE PORTRAITS
LIEUT.-GENERAL J. D. P. FRENCH 22
MAJOR-GENERAL SIR W. PENN SYMONS, K.C.B. 32
GENERAL JOUBERT 48
COLONEL ROBERT S. S. BADEN-POWELL, the Defender of Mafeking 58
RIGHT HON. SIR REDVERS HENRY BULLER, K.C.B., V.C. 74
LIEUT.-GENERAL LORD METHUEN, C.B. 86
GENERAL SIR GEORGE STEWART WHITE, V.C., G.C.B., the Defender of Ladysmith 118
MAJOR-GENERAL ANDREW G. WAUCHOPE, C.B. 176
4. MAPS AND ENGRAVINGS IN THE TEXT
COLOURED MAP OF SEAT OF WAR At Front
MAP OF NORTHERN NATAL 9
POSITION OF FORCES BEFORE THE BATTLE OF GLENCOE 15
THE BATTLE OF GLENCOE 17
POSITION OF FORCES BEFORE THE BATTLE OF ELANDSLAAGTE, NOON 21
PLAN OF BATTLE OF ELANDSLAAGTE 25
MAP OF LADYSMITH AND SURROUNDING HEIGHTS 42
THE CREUSOT QUICK-FIRING FIELD GUN, OR "LONG TOM" 44
4.7-INCH NAVAL GUN ON IMPROVISED MOUNTING 52
12-POUNDER NAVAL GUN ON IMPROVISED CARRIAGE 52
15-POUNDER FIELD GUN 62
AN ARMOURED TRAIN 68
THE MAXIM GUN 79
LORD METHUEN'S LINE OF ADVANCE 87
PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF BELMONT 90
PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF MODDER RIVER 101
COMPLETE MACHINE GUN DETACHMENT OF MOUNTED INFANTRY 118
THE 5-INCH HOWITZER OR SIEGE GUN 127
FACSIMILE OF PAGE OF NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED IN LADYSMITH DURING THE SIEGE 137
TELEGRAPH SECTION OF THE ROYAL ENGINEERS 144
4.7 NAVAL GUN ON CAPT. PERCY SCOTT'S IMPROVISED CARRIAGE 154
MAP ILLUSTRATING THE OPERATIONS ON THE SOUTH OF THE ORANGE RIVER 164
BATTLE OF MAJESFONTEIN 174
SKETCH PLAN OF POSITIONS AT MAJESFONTEIN 176
SKETCH PLAN OF BATTLE OF COLENSO 191
MAP SHOWING THE ATTEMPTED PASSAGE OF THE RIVER BY GENERAL BULLER ON DECEMBER 15 194
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE—VOL. II.
11.—Boer Ultimatum time-limit expired. Great Britain commenced to be at war with Transvaal and Orange Free State.
12.—Text of Great Britain's reply to Boer Ultimatum issued. It stated that the conditions demanded were such as her Majesty's Government deemed it impossible to discuss.
Mr. Conyngham Greene recalled.
Armoured train captured by Boers near Mafeking.
Colonel Baden-Powell moved a large force outside Mafeking, and took up a strong defensive position.
14.—Sir R. Buller and Staff left England.
15.—Boers occupied Newcastle.
Successful sortie by Colonel Baden-Powell from Mafeking.
Armoured train in action near Kimberley during reconnaissance.
18.—Mr. Balfour announced that the Militia and Militia Reserves were to be called out.
19.—Transvaal flag hoisted at Vryburg.
20.—Boers repulsed by British at Talana Hill (Glencoe).
21.—General French, with about 2000 men, attacked a Boer force under General Kock at Elandslaagte.
22.—General Symons promoted to be Major-General.
General Yule retired from Dundee on Ladysmith.
23.—Death of General Symons.
Transvaal National Bank seized at Durban.
24.—Sir George White engaged Boers at Reitfontein.
Services accepted of Sir William M'Cormac, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, to attend the wounded.
26.—Generals Yule and White joined forces at Ladysmith.
Bombardment of Mafeking commenced.
28.—Boers were closing round Ladysmith.
Proclamation issued declaring the Boer "commandeering" of certain portions of Cape Colony null.
30.—Engagement at Lombard's Kop.
Sir George White sent out from Ladysmith to Nicholson's Nek a Mountain Battery, with the Irish Fusiliers and the Gloucesters, to turn the enemy's right flank. Mules, with guns and reserve ammunition, stampeded into enemy's lines. After gallantly defending their position for six hours, men's ammunition was exhausted, and about 800 were captured. Naval Brigade did excellent work.
31.—Sir Redvers Buller landed at Cape Town.
1.—Boers invaded Cape Colony.
2.—Free Staters' position at Besters brilliantly taken by cavalry. Boers lost heavily; our casualties slight. Boers treacherously used white flag.
Colenso evacuated by the British.
Arrangements for a supplementary Naval Brigade completed.
Orders issued for mobilising the Militia.
3.—Naauwpoort and Stormberg evacuated by the British garrisons.
5.—Death of Commander Egerton, of Powerful.
9.—Boers attacked Ladysmith, and repulsed with heavy loss.
Orders issued for mobilisation of a Fifth Division.
10.—Engagement of Belmont. Colonel Keith Falconer killed.
11.—Captain Percy Scott, of H.M.S. Terrible, appointed commandant of the forces defending Durban.
12.—Lord Methuen arrived at Orange River.
14.—Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren appointed to command the Fifth Division for service in South Africa.
15.—Armoured train wrecked by Boers near Frere. Mr. Winston Churchill and a number of Dublin Fusiliers and Volunteers captured.
Boers defeated at Estcourt.
16.—Fighting near Orange River.
17-22.—Transports arrived at Cape Town with 22,000 troops.
20.—Lord Methuen's force reached Witteputts.
23.—Lord Methuen attacked Boers at Belmont.
Boers routed at Willow Grange.
25.—Lord Methuen engaged the Boers at Graspan (Enslin), and after four hours' hard fighting carried position.
26.—Mooi River Column joined at Frere by General Hildyard.
28.—Lord Methuen engaged enemy, 8000 strong, at Modder River, and after ten hours' desperate fighting, drove them back.
30.—Sixth Division for South Africa notified.
2.—General Clery reached Frere.
3.—Transport Ismore wrecked 180 miles north of Cape Town—all troops landed.
6.—Sortie from Kimberley. Major Scott Turner killed.
7.—Arundel occupied by British.
8.—British sortie from Ladysmith, Lombard's Kop being carried.
9.—General Gatacre sustained serious reverse at Stormberg, having been misled by guides.
Lieutenant-Colonel Metcalfe, 2nd Rifle Brigade, with 500 men from Ladysmith, captured Surprise Hill, destroying a howitzer.
10.—General French drove the enemy from Vaal Kop.
11.—Lord Methuen attacked 12,000 Boers entrenched at Majesfontein, but attack failed, although British troops held their position. Major-General Wauchope, Major Lord Winchester, and Colonel Downman killed.
13.—General French defeated 1800 Boers between Arundel and Naauwpoort. British loss, 1 killed, 8 wounded.
14.—Orders given for the mobilisation of a Sixth Division, and a Seventh in reserve.
Sir Charles Warren and Staff arrived at the Cape.
15.—General Buller suffered a serious reverse at Colenso, troops having to retire to Chieveley, leaving behind 11 guns.
General Hector Macdonald appointed to succeed General Wauchope.
CHART OF STAFF APPOINTMENTS MADE AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE WAR, AS ISSUED BY THE WAR OFFICE, 7TH OCTOBER, 1899.
LINES OF COMMUNICATION.
The Lines of Communication will be under the general command and direction of Lieut.-General Sir F. W. E. F. Forestier-Walker, K.C.B., C.M.G.
The following Officers will be employed and will have the Staff position shown opposite their names:—
Names of Officers Selected. Staff Position.
Colonel H. H. Settle, C.B., Colonel on Staff. D.S.O., p.s.c.
Captain F. A. Molony, p.s.c., Staff Officer to Colonel on R.E. Staff.
Colonel J. W. Murray, p.s.c. Colonel on Staff.
Colonel W. D. Richardson, C.B. Deputy Adjutant-General for Supplies and Transport.
Lieut.-Colonel F. F. Johnson, Staff Officer to Deputy Army Service Corps Adjutant-General for Supplies and Transport.
Brevet-Colonel C. H. Bridge, Deputy Adjutant-General C.B., Army Service Corps for Transport.
Brevet-Major (local Director of Railways.[A] Lieut.-Colonel) E. P. C. Girouard, D.S.O., R.E.
Captain H. G. Joly de Staff Officer to Director of Lotbiniere, R.E. Railways.
Captain (local Major) J. H. Twiss, R.E. } Assistant Directors of Captain (local Major) V. } Railways.[B] Murray, R.E. /
Major J. E. Capper, R.E. Deputy-Assistant Directors Captain H. C. Manton, R.E. } of Railways. Capt. W. D. Waghorn, R.E. /
Major (local Lieut.-Colonel) A. E. Wrottesley, R.E. Director of Telegraphs.[A]
Colonel R. S. R. Fetherstonhaugh, h.p. } Brevet-Colonel C. P. Ridley, } 2nd Bn. Manchester Regt. } Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel P. T. } Rivett-Carnac, 1st Bn. } Station Commandants.[A] West Riding Regt. } Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel H. P. } Shekleton, p.s.c., 1st Bn. } South Lancashire Regt. /
Capt. J. G. Baldwin, Royal Garrison Artillery } Captain A. E. Lascelles, 2nd } Staff Officers to Station Bn. Norfolk Regt. } Commandants.[C] Captain C. R. Ballard, 1st } Bn. Norfolk Regt. } Captain C. V. C. Hobart, } D.S.O., 2nd Bn. Grenadier } Guards /
Brevet-Colonel E. W. D. Ward, C.B., Army Service Corps. } Assistant Col. J. K. Trotter, C.M.G., } Adjutant-Generals. p.s.c. } Lieut.-Col. F. W. Bennet, R.E. } Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel H. M. } Lawson, p.s.c., R.E. /
Lieut.-Colonel S. H. Winter, Army Service Corps } Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Winter, } Army Service Corps } Lieut.-Col. R. B. M'Comb, } Army Service Corps } Deputy-Assistant Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel F. W. B. } Adjutant-Generals. Landon, Army Service Corps } Major J. H. Poett, p.s.c., } 2nd Bn. Dorsetshire Regt. } Major C. Rawnsley, Army } Service Corps } Major R. B. Gaisford, p.s.c., } Royal Scots Fusiliers } Brevet-Major E. G. T. } Bainbridge, 2nd Bn. East Kent } Regt. } Major R. C. B. Haking, p.s.c., } Hampshire Regt. } Major A. W. Thorneycroft, } 2nd Bn. Royal Scots } Fusiliers } Captain E. H. Hughes, p.s.c., } 1st Bn. York and Lancaster } Regt. } Captain G. S. St Aubyn, King's } Royal Rifle Corps /
Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel J. Adye, p.s.c., Royal Garrison } Artillery } Major H. N. C. Heath, p.s.c., } Yorkshire Light Infantry } Brevet-Major C. J. Mackenzie, } 1st Bn. Seaforth Highlanders } Major R. L. Walter, 7th Hussars } Major E. F. Gosset, p.s.c., } 2nd Bn. East Yorkshire Regt. } Brevet-Major A. G. } Hunter-Weston, R.E. } Major G. D. Baker, p.s.c., } Royal Garrison Artillery } Major E. S. C. Kennedy, West } General Duty. India Regt. } Captain A. W. Elles, 2nd Bn. } Yorkshire Light Infantry } Captain E. St G. Pratt, 1st } Bn. Durham Light Infantry } Capt. C. B. Jervis-Edwards, } 1st Bn. Duke of Cornwall's } Light Infantry } Captain F. B. Maurice, } Derbyshire Regt. } Lieutenant W. M. C. Vandeleur, } 2nd Bn. Essex Regt. } Lieutenant G. P. Appleby, } 1st Bn. Bedfordshire Regt. } Lieutenant F. S. Reeves, 1st } Bn. East Kent Regt. /
COLERIDGE GROVE, M.S. WAR OFFICE, 4th October 1899.
Note.—The above list only shows the Officers employed on Staff duties on the Lines of Communication. It does not show those employed on medical, ordnance, clerical, supply, pay, &c., services.—C. G.
[A] Graded as Assistant Adjutant-Generals.
[B] Graded as Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-Generals.
[C] Graded as Staff Captains.
NATAL FIELD FORCE.
Staff Position. Names of Officers Selected.
General Officer Commanding Lieutenant-General Sir G. S. (Lieut.-General on Staff) White, V.C., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E.
Assistant Military Secretary Colonel B. Duff, C.I.E., p.s.c., Indian Staff Corps.
Aides-de-Camp (2) Captain R. G. Brooke, D.S.O., 7th Hussars. Captain F. Lyon, R.F.A.
Assistant Adjutant-General Colonel I. S. M. Hamilton, C.B., D.S.O.
Deputy-Assistant (a) Major F. Hammersley, Adjutant-Generals p.s.c., Lancashire Fusiliers. (b) Major E. R. O. Ludlow, p.s.c., Army Service Corps.
Officer Commanding Royal Lieut.-Colonel and Brevet-Col. Artillery C. J. Long, R.H.A.
Commanding Royal Engineer Lieut.-Colonel W. F. N. Noel, (Colonel on Staff) R.E.
Principal Medical Officer Lieut.-Colonel R. Exham, R.A.M.C.
Medical Officer Major J. F. Bateson, M.B., R.A.M.C.
Chaplains (2) Rev. L. J. Matthews (R.C.) Rev. E. G. Macpherson, B.A.
Assistant Provost-Marshal[D] Major A. G. Chichester, 1st Bn. Royal Irish Regt.
Signalling Officer Captain J. S. Cayzer, 7th Dragoon Guards.
[D] Graded as a Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General.
Staff Position. Names of Officers Selected.
General Officer Commanding Colonel (local Lieut.-General) (Lieut.-General on Staff) Sir W. P. Symons, K.C.B.
Assistant Adjutant-General Colonel C. E. Beckett, C.B., p.s.c.
Deputy-Assistant (a) Major and Adjutant-Generals Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel Sir H. S. Rawlinson, Bart., p.s.c., 2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards. (b) Captain T. D. Foster, Army Service Corps.
Major-General Colonel (local Major-General) F. Howard, C.B., C.M.G., A.D.C.
Aide-de-Camp Captain H. E. Vernon, D.S.O., 4th Bn. Rifle Brigade.
Brigade-Major Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel Hon. C. G. Fortescue, C.M.G., p.s.c., Rifle Brigade.
Major-General Aide-de-Camp } To be nominated locally. Brigade-Major /
3RD CAVALRY BRIGADE.
Major-General Colonel (local Major-General) J. F. Brocklehurst, M.V.O. Aide-de-Camp Lieutenant H. W. Viscount Crichton, Royal Horse Guards. Brigade-Major Captain G. P. Wyndham, p.s.c., 16th Lancers.
COLERIDGE GROVE, M.S. WAR OFFICE, 3rd October 1899.
STAFF OF 1ST ARMY CORPS.
Staff Position. Names of Officers Selected.
General Officer Commanding General Rt. Hon. Sir R. H. Army Corps (General Buller, V.C., G.C.B., Commanding-in-Chief) K.C.M.G.
Military Secretary Colonel Hon. F. W. Stopford, C.B., p.s.c.
Aides-de-Camp (4) Captain H. N. Schofield, R.A. Captain C. J. Sackville-West, King's Royal Rifle Corps. Lieutenant A. R. Trotter, 2nd Life Guards. 2nd Lieut. C. A. Howard, Shropshire Light Infantry.
Chief of the General Staff Major-General Sir A. Hunter, (Major-General on Staff) K.C.B., D.S.O.
Aide-de-Camp Brevet-Major A. J. Kings, Royal Lancaster Regt.
Deputy Adjutant-General Colonel A. S. Wynne, C.B.
Assistant Adjutant-Generals Colonel H. S. G. Miles, M.V.O., (2) p.s.c. Colonel C. W. H. Douglas, A.D.C.
Deputy-Assistant (a) Lieut.-Colonel C. a Adjutant-Generals (4) Court, p.s.c. (a) Major L. E. Kiggell, p.s.c., Royal Warwickshire Regt. (b) Major P. J. Lewis, Army Service Corps. (b) Major A. H. Thomas, Army Service Corps.
Commandant, Head-Quarters[E] Colonel R. Pole-Carew, C.B., h.p.
Principal Medical Officer Surgeon-General W. D. Wilson, M.B.
Medical Officers Major W. G. A. Bedford, M.B., R.A.M.C. Captain M. L. Hughes, R.A.M.C.
Provost Marshal[E] Major Hon. J. H. G. Byng, p.s.c., 10th Hussars.
Intelligence Duties— Assistant Adjutant-General Major E. A. Altham, p.s.c., (1) Royal Scots. Deputy-Assistant Major H. J. Evans, p.s.c., Adjutant-Generals (2) Liverpool Regiment. Captain Hon. F. Gordon, p.s.c., Gor. Highlanders.
Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General for Lieut.-Colonel W. W. C. Topography Verner, p.s.c.
Commanding Royal Artillery Colonel (local Major-Gen.) (Major-General on Staff) G. H. Marshall.
Staff Officer, Royal Artillery Major H. C. Sclater, R.A.
Aide-de-Camp, R.A. Captain A. D. Kirby, R.F.A.
Chief Engineer (Major-General Colonel (local Major-Gen.) E. on Staff) Wood, C.B.
Staff Officer, Royal Engineers Major E. H. Bethell, p.s.c., Royal Engineers.
Aide-de-Camp, Royal Engineers Brevet-Major R. S. Curtis, Royal Engineers.
Military Mounted Police[F] Brevet-Major R. M. Poore, 7th Hussars.
Press Censor[F] Major W. D. Jones, p.s.c., Wiltshire Regt.
Principal Chaplain Rev. E. H. Goodwin, B.A.
Director of Signalling[E] Major (local Lieut.-Colonel) E. Rhodes, D.S.O., Royal Berks Regt.
Chief Ordnance Officer Colonel R. F. N. Clarke, Army Ord. Department.
Principal Veterinary Officer Veterinary Lieut.-Colonel I. Matthews, Army Veterinary Department.
Orderly Veterinary Officer
Officer Commanding Corps Colonel C. M. H. Downing. Artillery (Colonel on Staff)
Adjutant Captain E. S. E. W. Russell, Royal Field Artillery.
Officer Commanding Royal Horse Lieut.-Colonel W. L. Davidson, Artillery Royal Horse Artillery.
Adjutant, R.H.A. Captain G. W. Biddulph, Royal Horse Artillery.
Officer Commanding F.A. (I.) Lieut.-Colonel J. S. S. Barker, p.s.c., R.F.A.
Adjutant Captain E. J. Duffus, R.F.A.
Officer Commanding Field Lieut.-Colonel P. C. E. Artillery (II.) Newbigging, R.F.A.
Adjutant Captain E. C. Cameron, Royal Field Artillery.
Officer Commanding Corps Lieut.-Colonel C. A. Troops, Royal Engineers Rochfort-Boyd, R.E.
Adjutant Lieut. S. D. Barrow, R.E.
[E] Graded as Assistant Adjutant-General.
[F] Graded as Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-Generals.
1ST ARMY CORPS—1ST DIVISION.
Staff Position. Names of Officers Selected.
General Officer Commanding Lieut.-General P. S. Lord (Lieut.-General on Staff) Methuen, K.C.V.O., C.B., C.M.G.
Aides-de-Camp (2) Major H. Streatfield, Grenadier Guards. Captain J. A. Bell-Smyth, 1st Dragoon Guards.
Assistant Adjutant-General Colonel R. B. Mainwaring, C.M.G.
Deputy-Assistant (a) Brevet Lieut.-Colonel Adjutant-Generals H. P. Northcott, C.B., p.s.c., Leinster Regt. (b) Major R. H. L. Warner, p.s.c., Army Service Corps.
Assistant-Provost-Marshall[G] Captain R. J. Ross, 1st Bn. Middlesex Regt.
Chaplains (2) Rev. T. F. Falkner, M.A. Rev. E. M. Morgan (R.C.)
Principal Medical Officer Colonel E. Townsend, C.B., M.D., R.A.M.C.
Medical Officer Major C. H. Burtchaell, M.B., R.A.M.C.
Divisional Signalling Officer Lieut. Hon. E. D. Loch, D.S.O., 1st Bn. Grenadier Guards.
Major-General Major-General Sir H. E. Colvile, K.C.M.G., C.B.
Aide-de-Camp Captain G. C. Nugent, Grenadier Guards.
Brigade-Major Captain H. G. Ruggles-Brise, p.s.c., Grenadier Guards.
Major-General Major-General H. J. T. Hildyard, C.B., p.s.c.
Aide-de-Camp Lieut. A. Blair, King's Own Scottish Borderers.
Brigade-Major Major L. Munro, p.s.c., Hampshire Regt.
[G] Graded as Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General.
1ST ARMY CORPS—2ND DIVISION.
Staff Position. Names of Officers Selected.
General Officer Commanding Major-General (Local (Lieut.-General on Staff) Lieut.-General) Sir C. F. Clery, K.C.B., p.s.c.
Aides-de-Camp (2) Major F. E. Cooper, Royal Artillery, p.s.c. Captain L. Parke, Durham Light Infantry.
Assistant Adjutant-General Major and Bt.-Colonel B. M. Hamilton, p.s.c., East Yorkshire Regiment.
Deputy-Assistant (a) Captain H. E. Gogarty, Adjutant-General p.s.c., Royal Scots Fusiliers. (b) Captain W. G. B. Boyce, Army Service Corps.
Assistant Provost-Marshal[H] Major G. F. Ellison, p.s.c., Royal Warwickshire Regt.
Chaplains (2) Rev. A. A. L. Gedge, B.A. Rev. J. Robertson (P.).
Principal Medical Officer Colonel T. J. Gallwey, M.D., C.B., R.A.M.C.
Medical Officer Major W. Babtie, M.B., C.M.B., R.A.M.C.
Divisional Signalling Officer Lieut. J. S. Cavendish, 1st Life Guards.
Major-General Maj.-Gen. A. G. Wauchope, C.B., C.M.G.
Aide-de-Camp Captain J. G. Rennie, R.H.
Brigade-Major Major and Bt.-Lieut.-Col. J. S. Ewart, p.s.c., Cameron Highlanders.
Major-General Major-General Hon. N. G. Lyttelton, C.B.
Aide-de-Camp Captain Hon. H. Yarde-Buller, Rifle Brigade.
Brigade-Major Captain H. H. Wilson, p.s.c., Rifle Brigade.
[H] Graded as a Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General.
1ST ARMY CORPS—3RD DIVISION.
Staff Position. Names of Officers Selected.
General Officer Commanding Major-General (local Lieut.-Gen.) (Lieut.-General on Staff) Sir W. F. Gatacre, K.C.B., D.S.O., p.s.c.
Aides-de-Camp (2) Lieutenant A. J. M'Neill, 1st Bn. Seaforth Highlanders.
Assistant Adjutant-General Colonel R. E. Allen, p.s.c.
Deputy-Assistant (a) Lieut.-Colonel W. H. H. Adjutant-Generals Waters, M.V.O., p.s.c. (b) Major P. E. F. Hobbs, Army Service Corps.
Assistant Provost-Marshal[I] Captain J. R. F. Sladen, p.s.c., East Yorkshire Regt.
Chaplains (2) Rev. E. Ryan (R.C.) Rev. R. Armitage, M.A.
Principal Medical Officer Lieut.-Colonel J. D. Edge, M.D., R.A.M.C.
Medical Officer Maj. G. E. Twiss, R.A.M.C.
Divisional Signalling Officer Captain S. Fitz G. Cox, 2nd Bn. Lincolnshire Regt.
Major-General Major-General A. Fitzroy Hart, C.B., p.s.c.
Aide-de-Camp Captain Hon. St L. H. Jervis, King's Royal Rifle Corps.
Brigade-Major Major C. R. R. MacGrigor, p.s.c., King's Royal Rifle Corps.
Major-General Major-General G. Barton, C.B., p.s.c.
Brigade-Major Captain J. A. E. MacBean, D.S.O., p.s.c., Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
[I] Graded as a Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General.
STAFF OF CAVALRY DIVISION.
Staff Position. Names of Officers Selected.
General Officer Commanding Col. (Lieut.-General) J. D. P. French. (Lieut.-General on Staff)
Aides-de-Camp (2) Lieutenant J. P. Milbanke, 10th Hussars.
Assistant Adjutant-General Colonel Hon. G. H. Gough, C.B., p.s.c.
Deputy-Assistant (a) Major D. Haig, p.s.c., 7th Adjutant-Generals Hussars. (b) Major G. O. Welch, Army Service Corps.
Officer Commanding, Royal Horse Lieut.-Colonel F. J. W. Artillery Eustace, R.H.A.
Adjutant, R.H.A. Capt. A. D'A. King, R.H.A.
Chaplain (1)[K] Rev. W. C. Haines
Principal Medical Officer Lieut.-Colonel W. Donovan, Royal Army Medical Corps.
Medical Officer Major H. G. Hathaway, Royal Army Med. Corps.
Assistant Provost-Marshal[L] Captain P. A. Kenna, V.C., 21st Lancers.
Intelligence Department— Deputy-Assistant Captain Hon. H. A. Lawrence, Adjutant-General p.s.c., 17th Lancers.
Major-General Col. (local Major-General) J. M. Babington.
Aide-de-Camp Lieutenant F. W. Wormald, 7th Hussars.
Brigade-Major Captain C. J. Briggs, 1st Dragoon Guards.
Officer Commanding Mounted Major and Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel Infantry[J] E. A. H. Alderson, p.s.c., Royal West Kent Regt.
Adjutant Mounted Infantry[L] Captain H. M'Micking, Royal Scots.
Major-General Colonel (local Major-Gen.) J. P. Brabazon, C.B., A.D.C.
Aide-de-Camp Major Hon. C. E. Bingham, 1st Life Guards.
Brigade-Major Captain Hon. T. W. Brand, 10th Hussars.
Officer Commanding Mounted Captain and Brevet-Lieut.-Colonel Infantry[J] R. J. Tudway, 2nd Bn. Essex Regt.
Adjutant Mounted Infantry[L] Captain H. L. Ruck-Keene, Oxford. Light Infantry.
[J] Graded as Assistant Adjutant-General.
[K] Will act for both Brigades.
[L] Graded as Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-Generals.
COLERIDGE GROVE, M.S. 2nd October 1899.
SOUTH AFRICA AND THE TRANSVAAL WAR
THE CRISIS AT HOME
"Patience, long sick to death, is dead. Too long Have sloth and doubt and treason bidden us be What Cromwell's England was not, when the sea To him bore witness, given of Blake, how strong She stood, a commonweal that brooked no wrong From foes less vile than men like wolves set free, Whose war is waged where none may fight or flee— With women and with weanlings. Speech and song Lack utterance now for loathing. Scarce we hear Foul tongues, that blacken God's dishonoured name With prayers turned curses and with praise found shame, Defy the truth whose witness now draws near To scourge these dogs, agape with jaws afoam, Down out of life. Strike, England, and strike home."
—ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE.
In the face of the insolent Ultimatum which had been addressed to Great Britain by the South African Republic, the nation closed its ranks and relegated party controversy to a more appropriate season. The British people were temporarily in accord. A wave of indignation surged over the country, and united men of different shades of politics and of varying religious creeds, making them forget their private feuds, and remember only the paramount fact that they were sons of the Empire. There were some, it is true, who remained afar off—a few exceptions to prove the rule of unanimity, beings with souls so dead that never to themselves had said, "This is my own, my native land," and who yet looked upon the Boer as an object of commiseration. But these were, first, men linked either by birth or family ties with the Afrikander cause; second, fractious Irishmen and political obstructionists who posed for notoriety at any price; and, third, eccentrics and originals, whose sense of opposition forbade them from floating at any time with the tide of public opinion. Every one else cried aloud for a chance to uphold Great Britain's prestige, and the War Office was so beset with applications from volunteers for the front that it was found almost impossible even to consider them. Nor was the excitement confined to officers alone. Recruiting went on apace, and not only did recruits pour in, but deserters, who had slunk away from regimental duty, now returned and gave themselves up, praying to be allowed to suffer any penalty and then march out to battle as soldiers of the Queen! Two Royal Proclamations having been issued—the one directing the continuance in army service, until discharged or transferred to the reserve, of soldiers whose term of service had expired or was about to expire; the other, ordering the army reserve to be called out on permanent service—some 25,000 men received notice to rejoin the colours. These in large numbers promptly appeared. The New South Wales Lancers, who had been going through a course of cavalry training at Aldershot, at once volunteered their services and started for the Cape amidst scenes of great enthusiasm. Other colonial troops were as eager to join, and the spirit of military rivalry throughout Her Majesty's dominions was both amazing and inspiriting.
Queensland had the honour of opening the ball. Her sympathy with the policy of Great Britain and her loyalty to the mother country was shown in practical form. She intimated, in the event of hostilities, her willingness to send 250 mounted infantry and a machine-gun to the front. New Zealand followed suit; she also offered two companies of mounted rifles fully equipped at the cost of the Colony. These offers were gratefully accepted. Not to be behind-hand, Western Australia and Tasmania made similar offers, and Her Majesty's Government gladly agreed to accept one unit of 125 men from each. The Parliament of Victoria voted the despatch of a contingent of 250 men to South Africa, and the Governments of New South Wales and South Australia actively discussed similar measures. This expression of Colonial public opinion, embodying as it did the independent judgments of so many free juries, uninfluenced by personal or direct interests, had a significance which, besides being politically important, was eminently satisfactory. All Her Majesty's dominions, on which the sun never sets, were at this critical moment holding hands in a wide circle that encompassed the earth, and the picture of the small mother country with all her big children gathered around her in her hour of need was not one that the romance of history can afford to disregard.
IN SOUTH AFRICA
Before hostilities had actually begun, refugees from Johannesburg began to pour down to Natal and the Cape, and there were daily reports of insults received by the Uitlanders at the hands of the Boers. Ladies were spat upon, and passengers suffered indignities sufficient to make an Englishman's blood boil. Fresh troops began to arrive from India, and Sir George White, in a chorus of farewell shouts, "Remember Majuba," went off from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. This was on the 7th of October 1899. At that time the troops were thus distributed:—
At Pietermaritzburg—1st Battalion Manchester Regiment and Mounted Infantry Company; 2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps.
At Estcourt—Detachment Natal Naval Volunteers; Natal Royal Rifles.
At Colenso—Durban Light Infantry.
At Ladysmith—5th Lancers; Detachment 19th Hussars; Brigade Division, Royal Artillery; 10th Mountain Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery; 23rd Company, Royal Engineers; 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment; 1st Battalion Liverpool Regiment, and Mounted Infantry Company; 26th (two sections) British Field Hospital, and Colonial troops.
At Glencoe—18th Hussars; Brigade Division, Royal Artillery; 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, and Mounted Infantry Company; 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps, and Mounted Infantry Company; 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and Mounted Infantry Company; 6th Veterinary Field Hospital.
There was also one Company 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps at Eshowe, and a detachment of the Umvoti Mounted Rifles at Helpmakaar.
Meanwhile, at Pretoria, the Boers, protesting at the notice taken of the "chimerical grievances of the so-called Uitlanders," made energetic efforts to appoint General Viljeon, a rabid anti-Briton, in place of General Joubert as Commander-in-Chief of the Transvaal forces.
The troops under Commandant Cronje, the hero of Potchefstroom, advanced nearer to the border, in the direction of Mafeking, and in the expectation of attack, this town was securely fortified, while all the women and children were advised to leave. The fortification of Kimberley was also commenced. The European exodus from all quarters continued, defenceless men and women alike being subjected to insult and ill-treatment by the Boers. Mr. Kruger's birthday was kept at Pretoria with general rejoicing, and on the following day a telegram was sent by President Kruger to the New York World saying:—
"Through the World I thank the people of the United States most sincerely for their sympathy. Last Monday the Republic gave Great Britain forty-eight hours' notice within which to give the Republic an assurance that the present dispute would be settled by arbitration or other peaceful means, and that the troops would be removed from the borders. This expires at five to-day. The British Agent has been recalled. War is certain. The Republics are determined, if they must belong to Great Britain, that a price will have to be paid which will stagger humanity. They have, however, full faith. The sun of liberty will arise in South Africa as it arose in North America."
From this letter it was patent that Mr. Kruger was either pursuing his policy of bluff, or had made long and elaborate preparations for war with the British. On the same date an announcement was published in the town of Pretoria:—
"GOVERNMENT HOUSE, October 11.
"Her Majesty's Agent at Pretoria was to-day instructed to make the following communication to the Government of the South African Republic: 'The Imperial Government have received with great regret the peremptory demands of the Government of the South African Republic conveyed in the telegram of October 9. You will inform the Government of the South African Republic that the conditions demanded by the Government of the South African Republic are such as Her Majesty's Government deem it impossible to discuss. With the delivery of the above,' the Imperial Government add, 'as the Transvaal Government stated in their Note that a refusal to comply with their demands would be regarded as a formal declaration of war, the British Agent is instructed to ask for his passports.'"
Of course, this news caused intense excitement, and all who had remained sanguine of peace now gave up hope. At Bloemfontein President Steyn simultaneously issued a Proclamation to the Burghers of the Free State. He said that "the sister Republic is about to be attacked by an unscrupulous enemy, who has long looked for a pretext to annihilate the Afrikanders."
He went on to say that the people of the Orange Free State were bound to the Transvaal by many ties, as well as by formal treaty, and solemnly declared, in the presence of the Almighty, that they are compelled to resist a powerful enemy owing to the injustice done to their kith and kin.
Solemn obligations, continued the Proclamation, have not protected the Transvaal against an annexation conspiracy. When its independence ceases, the existence of the Orange Free State as an independent State will be meaningless. Experience in the past has shown that no reliance can be placed on the solemn promises and obligations of Great Britain when the Administration at the helm is prepared to tread treaties under foot.
After giving a historical sketch of the wrongs which he alleged had been done to the Transvaal, President Steyn said: "The original Conventions have been twisted and turned by Great Britain into a means of exercising tyranny against the Transvaal, which has not returned the injustice done to it in the past. No gratitude has been shown for the indulgence which was granted to British subjects, who, according to law, had forfeited their lives and property. Compliance with the British demands would be equivalent to the loss of our independence, which has been gained by our blood and tears. For many years British troops have been concentrating on the borders of the Transvaal in order to compel it by terrorism to comply with British claims. The crafty plans of those with whom love of gold is the motive are now being realised. While acknowledging the honour of thousands of Englishmen who abhor deeds of robbery and violence, the Orange Free State execrates the wrongful deeds of a British statesman."
After expressing confidence that the Almighty would help and aid them, and counselling the Burghers to do nothing unworthy of Christians and Burghers of the Free State, the President concluded with the following words: "Burghers of the Free State, stand up as one man against the oppressor and violator of right."
Meanwhile Sir George White, accompanied by Colonel Ian Hamilton (Assistant Adjutant-General), Colonel Duff (Assistant Military Secretary), Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Rawlinson, and Captains Brooke and Lyon, aides-de-camp, was proceeding on his journey to Ladysmith. The principal British camps were situated near Glencoe Junction and Ladysmith, and around these some twelve or fifteen thousand Boers were reported to be stationed between Sandspruit, Volksrust, and Wakkerstroom, while on the western side the Natal border was threatened by the Orange Free State's forces, which were posted in the neighbourhood of Van Reenen's Pass.
A Proclamation, signed by Sir Alfred Milner and Mr. Schreiner, was issued in Cape Town, warning British subjects of their duty to the Queen, while at the same time the German Consul-General officially ordered his countrymen to remain neutral. A similar warning was given by the German Consul to Germans in Johannesburg. Preparations were made for the immediate landing of a Naval Brigade from the British battleships in Simon's Bay, and volunteers of all kinds hurried to tender their services for special corps. In Pretoria a further manifesto was issued, calling on Afrikanders to resist the British demands, and accusing Lord Salisbury, Mr. Chamberlain, and Sir Alfred Milner of pursuing a "criminal policy." It also declared that it was perfectly clear that the desire and object of Great Britain was to deprive the Transvaal Republic of its independence on account of the gold-mining industry on the Rand.
The manifesto went on to say that Great Britain had offered two alternatives—a five years' franchise or war. It pointed out that the difference between the two Governments of two years in the matter of the franchise had been considered as a sufficient justification for Her Majesty's Government to endeavour to swallow up the Republics, and it reminded the Afrikanders that God would assuredly defend the right.
The manifesto was signed "Francois Willem Reitz, Secretary of State." It created a profound sensation, and a million copies were printed in Dutch and English.
By this time General Viljoen, in command of the Free State artillery, was marching towards Albertina, and a party of Boers was encroaching on the Natal border near Berg. Newcastle was warned that a state of war had begun. It was abandoned by the British, and taken possession of by the Boers, while Mafeking held itself in readiness to withstand the enemy. At Sandspruit the Boers were scattered in various camps over a wide area, and on the Portuguese border the Barberton and Lydenburg commandoes were concentrating. Terrified refugees were still fleeing to the Cape in such large numbers that it was almost impossible to find accommodation for them, and large sums of money were being subscribed both there and in Great Britain for the relief of the unhappy exiles. Mr. Rhodes, as usual, gave munificently in aid of the sufferers, and Sir Alfred Milner exerted himself to save the unhappy victims of British and Boer disagreement from destitution. The treatment that these poor persons received from the Boers in the course of their journey caused intense indignation, and profound sympathy was felt for the homeless ones who thus suddenly had been cast adrift from domestic comfort to complete poverty.
It was now believed that, following the precedent of 1881, an attempt would be made to isolate Mafeking and Kimberley, and carry on irregular sieges at these places. The enemy's forces on the northern frontier of Natal were estimated at some 13,000 men, while at Mafeking and Kimberley they were supposed to number some three thousand each. On the east, the seaport of Lorenzo Marques now sprung into great importance, and the supposed neutralisation of the harbour was effected.
On the 11th of October Mr. Coningham Greene, the British Agent in Pretoria, left that place for Cape Town; and on the 14th General Sir Redvers Buller, as Commander-in-chief of the British forces engaged against the Boer Republics, started from England. The state of war had commenced in earnest. The Boers in hot haste began to issue further Proclamations, and President Steyn continued to call on his Burghers to "stand up as one man against the oppressor and violator of rights." Twenty-four hours later they were over the border, tearing up railway lines and severing telegraph wires, and thus cutting off communication between Mafeking, Vryburg, Rhodesia, and Cape Colony. The investment of Kimberley was imminent, but it was generally believed that the Diamond City was strong enough to hold its own till our troops should come to the rescue. The First Brigade of the Army Service Corps started on the 20th of October from Southampton, the second left on the following day, and the third sailed on Sunday the 22nd. About the same time the Canadian Government decided to contribute 1000 men for service in South Africa, and the New Zealand Contingent sailed for the Cape.
In spite of the energetic movements that were suddenly set on foot, a few pessimists ventured to declare that we would be bound to reap the results of our previous unpreparedness, and that in consequence of our procrastination and the weakness of the Government in not having taken the initiative and allowed us to mobilise earlier, the Boers would get a good six weeks' start—a loss it would be hard for the best tacticians or the finest fighting men in the world to retrieve. But the mouths of the grumblers were silenced. Every one was convinced that the fate of the nation was perfectly safe in the hands of Sir Redvers Buller and Mr. Thomas Atkins, and, so convinced, thousands upon thousands flocked to see them off, and roared their God-speed with cheery British lungs, albeit with sad and anxious hearts.
THE OCCUPATION OF DUNDEE
Late in September a force consisting of two battalions of infantry, a regiment of cavalry, and two field-batteries was hurriedly pushed forward to occupy Dundee. Affairs between the British and the Boers were nearing a crisis. It was beginning to be believed that the Dutchmen meant to take the initiative and strike a blow against our supremacy in South Africa, though some at home were still shilly-shallying with sentimental arguments as to the propriety of fighting our "brother Boer" at all. As we now know, it wanted but the smallest move on the part of the British to bring things to a head. Large commandoes were gathered together with a rapidity which would have been marvellous had the Boers not designedly brought about the issue of war, and the frontier of the northern angle of Natal was threatened. Dundee is an important coal-mining centre situated some forty-eight miles north-east of Ladysmith. Why it was chosen as our advance post is hard to decide. Its communications with Ladysmith were open to attack from either flank, and, in the light of after events, we see that the position there of a detached force was highly precarious. General Sir George White in an official despatch thus describes his action in the matter:—
"Since my arrival in the Colony I had been much impressed by the exposed situation of the garrison of Glencoe, and on the evening of October 10 I had an interview on the subject with his Excellency the Governor, at which I laid before him my reasons for considering it expedient, from a military point of view, to withdraw that garrison, and to concentrate all my available troops at Ladysmith. After full discussion his Excellency recorded his opinion that such a step would involve grave political results and possibilities of so serious a nature that I determined to accept the military risk of holding Dundee as the lesser of two evils. I proceeded in person to Ladysmith on October 11, sending on Lieutenant-General Sir William Penn Symons to take command at Glencoe.
"The Boers crossed the frontier both on the north and west on October 12, and next day the Transvaal flag was hoisted at Charlestown. My great inferiority in numbers necessarily confined me strategically to the defensive, but tactically my intention was, and is, to strike vigorously whenever opportunity offers."
Everything at this juncture depended on the rapidity with which our army at home could be mobilised and sent to the Cape, and though we took to ourselves some credit for the energy displayed by all concerned, we were really scarcely up to date in the matter of activity. For instance, in 1859 it took only thirty-seven days for France to collect on the river Po a force of 104,000 men, with 12,000 more in Italy, while in 1866 the Prussian army, numbering 220,000 men, were placed on the frontiers of Saxony and Silesia in a fortnight. But more expeditious still was Germany in 1870. In nine days she was able to mobilise her forces, and in eight more to send to the French frontier an army of 400,000 soldiers and 1200 guns! We had, it is true, to ship off our troops a distance of some 8000 miles, but, without counting this—a natural disadvantage—there were others—many others, the upshot of red-tapism—to be contended with. This Sir George White was beginning to feel, but his sufferings in regard to the initial delay were threefold later on.
To return to Dundee. It was maintained both by the Government and the people of Natal that the valuable coal supply should be protected, and an attempt was therefore made to guard it. The misfortune was that from the first Lieutenant-General Sir W. Penn Symons—who, before the arrival of Sir George White, commanded in Natal—seemed to be ill acquainted with the enormous forces that the Boers could bring to bear against him. It was true that he could not at that time be certain, any more than appeared to be the Government at home, that the Free Staters would join the Republicans; but to any one acquainted with the subject, the fact that President Steyn had pulled the strings of the Bloemfontein affair was sufficient evidence of a contemplated alliance. With the Free State neutral, the aspect of affairs might have been entirely changed, and Dundee, with Ladysmith to support it, might have held its own. As it was, these small places were from the first placed in the most unenviable quandary.
General Symons, on the arrival of Sir George White in Natal, took command of the forces in Dundee, and began active preparations for the reception of the Dutchmen.
The latter, immediately after the declaration of war, took possession of Newcastle, and our patrols soon came in touch with the enemy. In spite of their animated and aggressive movements, however, Sir W. Penn Symons was disinclined to believe that the enemy meant a serious attack upon Dundee, and though fully prepared for hostilities, he was somewhat amazed when really informed of the rapid advance of the united Republicans. But he lost no time. He made inquiries, and satisfied himself that he was in a position of some danger and that he must promptly leap to action. The chief difficulty of the situation lay in the number of passes through which the Boers with their easily mobilised forces could manage to pour in bodies of men, and the limited number of British troops at General Symons's disposal. From the movements of the Boers it was obvious that the plan of attack had long been cleverly and carefully arranged. The Free State Boers on the 12th of October seized Albertina Station, near the Natal frontier, and took possession of the key, the stationmaster having to make his way on a trolley to Ladysmith. There, as yet, all was externally peaceful, as though no enemy were near, but a suppressed anxiety to be "up and at 'em" prevailed among the troops. Their ardour was in nowise damped by the incessant rain that fell, and converted the surrounding country into a wide morass, nor by the snow that followed, which gave the Drakenberg Mountains an additionally impregnable aspect and rendered them at once picturesque and forbidding.
A steady increase of the commandoes in the neighbourhood of Doornberg continued, and an attack within a few days seemed imminent.
Thereupon a large number of troops left Ladysmith for Acton Homes, where a Boer commando of four miles long was reported to be laagered. But the Boers retreated, and the troops remained some ten miles from Ladysmith, the Dublin Fusiliers alone moving back to Glencoe, whence they had come by train by order of General Symons.
At Glencoe we had, as before stated, some 4000 men, but report said that General Viljeon had an enormous force, nearly double ours in number, which was lying at the foot of Botha's Pass, one and a half miles on the Natal side of the Border. Besides this, General Kock had a commando at Newcastle. The invasion of Natal by the Boers in three columns was formally announced by an official statement from the Governor:—
"PIETERMARITZBURG, October 16.
"Natal was invaded from the Transvaal early on the morning of the 12th inst., an advance being made by the enemy in three columns. On the right a mixed column of Transvaal and Free State Burghers with Hollander Volunteers marched through Botha's Pass. In the centre the main column, under General Joubert's personal command, crossed Lang's Nek and moved forward via Ingogo. On the left a large commando advanced from Wakkerstroom via Moll's Nek and Wool's Drift. The object of all three columns was Newcastle, which was occupied on the night of the 14th, the central column having slept the previous night at Mount Prospect, General Colley's old camping-place. On Sunday an advance party of 1500 Boers, with artillery, pushed south of Ingagane, but the greater portion of this commando retired later in the day on Newcastle. A Boer force which had been concentrating at De Jager's Drift captured six Natal policemen. A picket of the King's Royal Rifles Mounted Infantry has exchanged a few shots with the enemy. This has hitherto been the only fighting.
"A large force of Free State Boers, estimated at from 11,000 to 13,000, is watching the passes of the Drakensberg from Olivier's Hoek to Collins's Pass. They have pushed a few patrols down the berg, but hitherto the main force has not debouched from the actual passes, which are being intrenched."
As will be seen, the advance of the foe seemed to be converging on Sir George White's position from all directions, and threatening Glencoe from the north, east, and possibly west. Still the troops remained cheerful and looked forward to a brush with the enemy. On the 18th hostilities were begun by the Free State commando moving about ten miles down the Tintwa Pass. They opened fire with their artillery on some small cavalry patrols, but their shooting was distinctly inferior, and no one was injured. They retreated on the advance of the 5th Lancers. Several more commandoes were known to have advanced to join a force stationed at Doornberg, some twelve miles from Dundee, and the enemy's scouts having also been seen some seven miles off Glencoe, an engagement was expected at any moment. An interesting account of this interval of suspense was given by an officer writing on the 16th October from Dundee, interesting and pathetic, too, when, in reading it, we remember that the gallant fellow to whom the writer alluded is alive no longer. He said:—
"Hitherto there has been no fighting at all, but our patrols are in touch with the enemy. I was out on my first patrol the day before yesterday since the declaration of war. My orders were to start at 6 A.M., push on about twelve miles along the Newcastle road, and stay out till about 6 P.M. I went out to a small hill about four miles from the camp and reconnoitered, and then went on to a place called Hadding Spruit, where I found a few people at the station and the stationmaster. This is at present the terminus of the line, all the rolling stock north of this having been sent south, and all the wires cut and instruments removed by the railway people. There is a large coal-mine here, and the people are in a deadly funk about being blown up. I pushed on to a large kopje, a few miles this side and west of Dannhauser, and climbed to the top, where I spent an hour or so, as from there one can see as far as Ingagane Nek, four miles this side of Newcastle, the place I sketched. Just as I looked over the top of the hill I saw two men on ponies with guns. They were talking to a Kaffir. I at once put them down as Boers, and thought of firing at them, but decided not to disclose my position and watch them. This was lucky for them, as I caught them later, and found them to be refugees flying from the Boers, who I discovered were in occupation of Ingagane and Newcastle, and had their patrols out nearly to Dannhauser.
"I then went on to Dannhauser, which consists of a railway station, two farms, a store, a couple of coolie stores, a mine, and a few huts. We approached with magazines charged and expected to see a Boer every minute, but found that they were not expected to come down as far as that till next day. I then made my way slowly back by the main road, and reached camp about 5 P.M., when I found that the other patrol (six men and an officer is the strength of each) had proceeded to De Jager's Drift and had not returned. A telephonic communication from the police-station at De Jager's Drift said, 'A large force of forty Boers have crossed Buffalo to cut off your patrol. Am trying ...'—and then ended abruptly. It eventually transpired that the Boers rushed the police-station before the message could be completed. Thackwell, who was in command of the patrol, pursued twelve Boers up to the river. Then thirty-four crossed to our side, and twelve lower down, the twelve trying to cut him off behind. However, he retired on to a nek behind, and as they did not come on, he moved off in about half an hour by another road. This was lucky for him, as he saw the twelve men who had crossed by Landsman's Drift disconsolately coming down from a lot of rocks where they had been lying in wait for him on the road he had come by.
"There seems to have been something going on at Kimberley. I wish they would buck up here and do something. I am on picket to-night, which means no sleep and a lot of bother, as the picket is about seven miles from camp at the junction of the Vant's Drift and De Jager's Drift roads, where there is a chance of being plugged at. The picket on the Helmakaar road was shot at the other night.
"One of the armoured trains came up here yesterday—an ugly-looking beast with the engine in the middle, all covered with iron, so that only just the top of the funnel is visible. I do not believe in them. If any one puts a dynamite cartridge under a rail—pop! up goes the armoured train.
"I think this will be a very interesting war, as the railway will play such an important part in the tactics. Thus the other day we sent the Dublin Fusiliers down to Ladysmith to repel an expected attack at half-an-hour's notice, and brought them back the same night....
"We are under an awfully nice General—one Penn Symons—a real good chap."
On the 18th of October the Carabineers were in touch with the enemy in the neighbourhood of Bester's Farm a great part of the day, and Lieutenant Galway, son of the Chief-Justice of Natal, who remained to watch his troops off the kopje, was reported missing. The Carabineers were compelled to retire owing to being completely outnumbered by the Boer force, and had they not done so they would have run the risk of being cut off from their supports. There were some hair-breadth escapes, and Major Taunton, who was riding at the head of his squadron, came through a vigorous hail of bullets quite uninjured.
Major Rethman, in command of 300 Natal Mounted Rifles, also actively engaged the enemy near Acton Homes, but was also compelled to retire for fear of being cut off. Being quite conversant with Boer tactics, he refused to be drawn by the pretence of retreat made by the Dutchmen, knowing that concealed forces of the enemy in great numbers were waiting to entrap him. Major Rethman, believing in the old saw that brevity is the soul of wit, reported his loss as "one hat."
The Dutchmen now advanced. An armoured train, sent by Sir George White to bring in wounded from Bester's Farm, returned discomfited, as the rails over the bridge four miles off Ladysmith had been tampered with. It was found that a farm, which had been deserted earlier in the day, was now in the occupation of the Boers, but these, though established on the south side of the line, made no effort to attack the train and allowed it to return unmolested. Rumours of fighting were in the air, and skirmishes between advance parties of British troops and Boers were the order of the day. A report reached the Glencoe camp that the Boers had been seen some seven miles off, whereupon Major Laming with a squadron of the 18th Hussars rode out to reconnoitre. Lieutenant Cape, the advanced officer's patrol, discovered a strong advance party of the enemy, who delivered a heavy fire, but fortunately without result. This most probably was due to the swift and clever manoeuvring of the Hussars.
The Carabineers and Border Mounted Rifles, who were in action nearly the whole of the 18th of October, returned to camp at three in the morning of the 19th. They were quite worn out and famished, having been for twenty-four hours without food, and three days and two nights in the saddle. Considering the excitement and fatigue, they were in excellent spirits. Their experience was a novel one, for on this occasion the Boers, who usually prefer to skulk under cover, made incipient rushes at certain points. They gave way, however, before the pressing attentions of the Maxims, and fled helter-skelter to cover again; but their departure was on the principle of "those who fight and run away live to fight another day." They reserved themselves for a more decisive effort.
At midday on the 19th a mixed train running from Ladysmith to Dundee was captured by the enemy about a mile off Elandslaagte Station, which stands about fifteen miles from Ladysmith, and is the first station from thence on the line. A war correspondent was taken prisoner, four Carabineers were wounded, and some horses and cattle seized. Telegraphic communication in the north was cut off, and four trucks of stores in the Elandslaagte Station were captured.
THE BATTLE OF GLENCOE
On the night of the 19th, Sir W. Penn Symons discovered that he was surrounded by the enemy. Three of their columns were converging on his position—one from the north-west under General Erasmus by the Dannhauser-Hattingspruit road; one from Utrecht and Vryheid by Landsman's Drift from the east, under Commandant Lucas Meyer; and a third under General Viljoen from Waschbank on the south, this latter being the force which cut through the Ladysmith-Dundee railway.
The Boer plan was to deliver simultaneously different attacks from all sides of the Glencoe camp. The column under Erasmus was to open the attack from the north-west, and falling back, was to draw Symons in pursuit away from his camp. Then Viljoen and Meyer were to close on the pursuers from either flank and annihilate them.
Fortunately this skilfully-devised programme was not fulfilled. For this reason: The force under Lucas Meyer was the first to arrive, and its leader, impatient to secure the glories of war, decided on an independent course of action. Before the other columns could put in an appearance he opened the attack. On the hills round Glencoe the Boers had posted cannon, and from thence at daybreak on the 20th of October Meyer's gunners began to fire plugged shells into the camp. A flash—a puff of smoke—a whizz and a crash! Hostilities had begun! By 5 A.M. all General Symons's troops were under arms. It was evident that the enemy were in force, and that their guns were some half-a-dozen in number. Their range was 5000 yards, but, fortunately, their shots, though well directed, flew screaming overhead and buried themselves in the soft earth, doing no damage whatever. A few tents fell, a few marquees were torn up. That was all. Our artillery soon came into action, at first at too long a range, but afterwards—from a position south of Dundee—with greater success. They then replied to the enemy's challenge with considerable warmth and excellent effect; and, since our batteries numbered some three to one, by 11.30 o'clock the enemy's Krupps were silenced. In the meantime the infantry, the 1st King's Royal Rifles and the 2nd Dublin Fusiliers, formed for attack opposite the enemy's position, which was situated some two miles off at the top of an almost impregnable hill. Huge boulders margined the sides of it, and half-way up an encircling wall added to the impassability of the position. But the word impossible is not to be found in the dictionary of a soldier, and General Symons gave an order. The hill was to be taken. The bugles rang out; the infantry fixed bayonets. Then was enacted another, only a grander, Majuba, but now with the position of the contending forces inverted. Doubtless the memory of that historic defeat inspired our men, for they evidently decided that what the Boer had done, the Briton also could do, and, spurred by their officers, who showed an absolute disregard of the possibilities of danger, went ahead and carried the crest in magnificent style. No such brilliant achievement of British infantry has been recorded since Albuera. But this, as we shall see, was not accomplished in a moment. It involved tremendous exposure in crossing an open plain intersected with nullahs under a terrific fire, followed by a long spell of dogged climbing, finally on hand and knees, over more than a mile of broken, sometimes almost perpendicular, ground, and in the midst of an incessant and furious fusilade.
At 7.30 A.M. the head of the Hattingspruit column appeared; appeared but to vanish—for it was at once saluted by the 67th Field Battery, and being unprepared for this somewhat boisterous attention, made haste to beat a retreat. At 8.50 the infantry brigade was ordered to advance. Soon the Dublin Fusiliers and the Rifles, who had been reinforced by the Royal Irish Fusiliers, were steadily moving on, firing by sections, and using what cover the ground afforded. Overhead, from the hill described, and from another south of the road, the ever-active shells continued their grim music, while all around was the dense curtain of fine rain that drizzled down like wet needles from an opaque sky, making a screen between the opposing forces. But on and on, led by their gallant officers, our infantry continued to toil, their advance ever covered by the 13th and 67th Field Batteries—under the command respectively of Major Dawkins and Major Wing—while the enemy from above poured upon them volley after volley as hard as rifles would let them. When half-way up, where the kopje was girded by a flat terrace and a stone wall, the troops, scattered by the terrific fire, hot, drenched, and panting with their climb, made a halt. There, under the lea of the hill, it was necessary to get "a breather," and to gather themselves together for the supreme effort. The scene was not exhilarating. The grey mist falling—the scattered earth and mud rising and spluttering, the shrieking shells rending the air, already vibrant with the whirr of bullets—the closer sounds and sights of death and destruction—all these things were sufficient to stem the courage of stoutest hearts. Still the British band remained undaunted, still they prepared boldly for the final rush. Presently, with renewed energy the three gallant regiments, steadily and determinedly as ever, started off, scaled the wall, clambered up the steep acclivity, and finally, with a rush and a roar as of released pandemonium, charged the crest.
The rout of the enemy was complete. At the glint of the steel they turned and ran—ran like panic-stricken sheep, helter-skelter over the hill, in the direction of Landmann's and Vant's Drifts. Their retreat was harried by cavalry and mounted infantry, and, so far as it was possible, in view of the inaccessible position, by the field artillery. At this juncture the enemy displayed a white flag—without any intention of surrender, it appears—but our firing was stopped by order of the artillery commander. Two guns and several prisoners were captured, together with horses and various boxes of shells for Maxim, Nordenfeldt, and Krupp quick-firing guns. Our wounded were many, and some companies looked woefully attenuated as the remnant, when all was over, whistled themselves back to camp. Their gallant leader, General Penn Symons, who had taken no precautions to keep under cover, but, on the contrary, had made himself conspicuous in being accompanied by a lancer with a red flag, fell early in the fight, mortally wounded. His place was taken by Brigadier-General Yule, whose position at that time was far from enviable. A message had been brought in by scouts, stating that some 9000 Boers were marching with the intention of attacking the British in the rear, and that at the very moment the advancing multitude might be cloaked in a dark mist that was gathering round the hills. Fortunately the hovering hordes failed to appear, and the first big engagement of the war terminated in a glorious victory for British arms.
From all accounts the two hostile columns numbered respectively 4000 and 9000 men, and against these forces Sir Penn Symons had at his command in all about 4000. Among these were the 13th, 67th, and 69th Field Batteries, the 18th Hussars, the Natal Mounted Volunteers, the 8th Battalion Leicester Regiment, the 1st King's Royal Rifles, the 2nd Dublin Fusiliers, and several companies of mounted infantry. But on the Dublin Fusiliers, the King's Royal Rifles, and the Royal Irish Fusiliers fell the brunt of the work, the task of capturing the Boer position, and the magnificent dash and courage with which the almost impossible feat was accomplished brought a thrill to the heart of all who had the good fortune to witness it.
Though the fight was a successful one, a grievous incident occurred. The 18th Hussars had received orders at 5.40 A.M. to get round the enemy's right flank and be ready to cut off his retreat. They were accompanied by a portion of the mounted infantry and a machine-gun. Making a wide turning movement, they gained the eastern side of Talana Hill and there halted, while two squadrons were sent in pursuit of the enemy. From that time, though firing was heard at intervals throughout the day, Colonel Moeller, with a squadron of the 18th Hussars and four sections of mounted infantry, was lost to sight. The rain had increased and the mist covered the hills, and it was believed that in course of time this missing party would return. But the belief was vain. In a few days it was discovered that they were made prisoners and had been removed to Pretoria. The following is a list of the gallant officers who were so unluckily captured:—
Colonel Moeller, 18th Hussars; Major Greville, 18th Hussars; Captain Pollok, 18th Hussars; Captain Lonsdale, 2nd Battalion Dublin Fusiliers; Lieutenant Le Mesurier, 2nd Battalion Dublin Fusiliers; Lieutenant Garvice, 2nd Battalion Dublin Fusiliers; Lieutenant Grimshaw, 2nd Battalion Dublin Fusiliers; Lieutenant Majendie, 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps; Lieutenant Shore, Army Veterinary Department, attached to 18th Hussars.
An official account of the circumstances which led to the capture was supplied by Captain Hardy, R.A.M.C., who said: "After the battle, three squadrons of the 18th Hussars, with one Maxim, a company of the Dublin Fusiliers, a section of the 60th Rifles and Mounted Infantry, Colonel Moeller commanding, kept under cover of the ridge to the north of the camp, and at 6.30 moved down the Sand Spruit. On reaching the open the force was shelled by the enemy, but there were no casualties.
"Colonel Moeller took his men round Talana Hill in a south-easterly direction, crossed the Vant's Drift road, captured several Boers, and saw the Boer ambulances retiring. Colonel Moeller, with the B Squadron of the Hussars, a Maxim, and mounted infantry, crossed the Dundee-Vryheid railway, and got near a big force of the enemy, who opened a hot fire, and Lieutenant M'Lachlan was hit.
"The cavalry retired across Vant's Drift, 1500 Boers following. Colonel Moeller held the ridge for some time, but the enemy enveloping his right, he ordered the force to fall back across the Spruit. The Maxim got fixed in a donga (water-hole). Lieutenant Cape was wounded, three of his detachment were killed, and the horses of Major Greville and Captain Pollok were shot.
"The force re-formed on a ridge north of the Sand Spruit, and held it for a short time. While Captain Hardy was attending to Lieutenant Crum, who was wounded, Colonel Moeller retired his force into a defile, apparently with the intention of returning to camp round the Impati Mountain, and was not seen afterwards."
The following list of casualties shows how hardly the glory of victories may be earned:—
Divisional Staff.—General Sir William Penn Symons, mortally wounded in stomach; Colonel C. E. Beckett, A.A.G., seriously wounded, right shoulder; Major Frederick Hammersley, D.A.A.G., seriously wounded, leg. Brigade Staff.—Colonel John Sherston, D.S.O., Brigade Major, killed; Captain Frederick Lock Adam, Aide-de-Camp, seriously wounded, right shoulder. 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment.—Lieutenant B. de W. Weldon, wounded slightly, hand. 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.—Second Lieutenant A. H. M. Hill, killed; Major W. P. Davison, wounded; Captain and Adjutant F. H. B. Connor, wounded (since dead); Captain M. J. W. Pike, wounded; Lieutenant C. C. Southey, wounded; Second Lieutenant M. B. C. Carbery, wounded dangerously, face and shoulder; Second Lieutenant H. C. W. Wortham, wounded severely, both thighs. Royal Dublin Fusiliers.—Captain George Anthony Weldon, killed; Captain Maurice Lowndes, wounded dangerously, left leg; Captain Atherstone Dibley, wounded dangerously, head; Lieutenant Charles Noel Perreau, wounded; Lieutenant Charles Jervis Genge, wounded (since dead). 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifles.—Killed: Lieutenant-Colonel R. H. Gunning, Captain M. H. K. Pechell, Lieutenant J. Taylor, Lieutenant R. C. Barnett, Second Lieutenant N. J. Hambro.—Wounded: Major C. A. T. Boultbee, upper thigh, dangerously; Captain O. S. W. Nugent, Captain A. R. M. Stuart-Wortley, Lieutenant F. M. Crum, Lieutenant R. Johnstone, both thighs, severely; Second Lieutenant G. H. Martin, thigh and arm, severely. 18th Hussars.—Wounded: Second Lieutenant H. A. Cape, Second Lieutenant Albert C. M'Lachlan, Second Lieutenant E. H. Bayford.
The Boer force engaged in this action was computed at 4000 men, of whom about 500 were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners. Three of their guns were left dismounted on Talana Hill, but there was no opportunity of bringing them away.
Our own losses were severe, amounting to 10 officers and 31 non-commissioned officers and men killed, 20 officers and 165 non-commissioned officers and men wounded, and 9 officers and 211 non-commissioned officers and men missing.
Though General Symons was known to be at the point of death, his promotion was speedily gazetted, and it was some consolation to feel that the gallant and popular officer lasted long enough to read of the recognition of his worth by an appreciative country. The following is an extract from the Gazette:—
"The Queen has been pleased to approve of the promotion of Colonel (local Lieutenant-General) Sir W. P. Symons, K.C.B., commanding 4th Division Natal Field Force, to be Major-General, supernumerary to the establishment, for distinguished service in the field."
An officer who was taken prisoner by the enemy, writing home soon after this engagement, made touching reference to some of the killed and wounded: "Poor Jack Sherston! Several of the officers here saw him lying dead on the hill at Dundee. When he left with the message entrusted to him he said to me, 'I shall never return.' Poor Captain Pechell! He had a bullet through the neck. General Symons was wounded and thrown from his horse, but he remounted and was conducted to the hospital, where he learnt that the height had been taken by our troops. His health improved a little, but he died on the following Tuesday. What a list of losses already! It is terrible to think that our own cannon were fired by mistake on our men, killing a large number. I saw M'Lachlan when he was wounded with a bullet in his leg. He went about on horseback saying that it did not hurt him, but at last he had to go to the hospital. My bugler, such a pleasant fellow, was hit in the head, the body, and the throat, and killed on the spot.... From a wounded officer, who is a prisoner, I hear that poor Cape had a bullet in the throat and another in the leg. He emptied his revolver twice ere falling. He is progressing towards recovery.... He had the command of our Maxim gun which fell into the hands of the enemy. The entire detachment which worked the gun was killed or wounded. At that moment bullets were whistling all round us. Cape, I think, has been exchanged for one of the enemy's wounded. I suppose that he will be sent home invalided. I wonder what the future has in store for us? It is really heart-breaking to think that we are penned in here without being able to do anything but wait."
Amongst other things, it was known in Ladysmith on the 18th of October that General Koch's commando was moving to the Biggarsberg Pass on the way to Elandslaagte. The advanced guard of the Boers finding a train at the Elandslaagte station, attempted to seize it, but the driver with remarkable pluck turned on steam, and, though pelted with bullets, got safely to Dundee. The second train was captured, however, and with it its valuable cargo of live stock, and two newspaper correspondents, who were made prisoners. Finding that the enemy was gathered in force round Dundee, and that an attack there was hourly to be expected, and, moreover, that several Free State commandoes were shifting about round Ladysmith, the inhabitants of that town had an uneasy time. Major-General French, who had but recently arrived from England, was directed by Sir George White to make a reconnaissance in force in the neighbourhood of Elandslaagte. He moved his cavalry in the pouring rain some twelve miles along the Dundee road, but besides locating the enemy, and beyond the capture of two of their number, who seemed not ill-disposed to be made prisoners, little was done. On the following day, Saturday, another reconnaissance was made. General French with Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Chisholme and the Imperial Light Horse, the Natal Volunteer Artillery with six guns, supported by half a battalion of the Manchesters, with railway and telegraph construction companies, started in the direction occupied by the enemy on the preceding day. General French's orders were simple and explicit, namely, to clear the neighbourhood of Elandslaagte of the enemy and to cover the construction of the railway and telegraph lines. The troops slowly proceeded along a low tableland which terminated in a cliff. On a plain below this cliff lay the station and village of Elandslaagte, and round and about this settlement mounted Boers were swarming. These no sooner espied the British than they made off as fast as their nimble steeds could carry them, ascending in the direction of a high kopje some 5000 yards away. Those who remained in the station were fired on by our Volunteer Battery, while a squadron under Major Sampson moved round to the north of them.
The first two shells caused considerable consternation among the Dutchmen, but they were soon returned with interest. Though the enemy used smokeless explosives, their battery was revealed by the yellow flash of the guns in the purple shadow of the hill. These guns were worked with marvellous accuracy, but, fortunately, many of the shells—fired with percussion fuses—dug deep into the sand before bursting. The Volunteer Battery found their own guns so inferior to those of the enemy that there was little chance of silencing them, and General French, seeing there was no question of occupying Elandslaagte with the small force at his disposal, moved his guns back towards his armoured train, telephoned to Sir George White, and withdrew in the direction of Modder's Spruit. There he awaited reinforcements from Ladysmith. These at 11 o'clock began to appear: One squadron of the 5th Dragoon Guards, one squadron of the 5th Lancers under Colonel King, and two batteries of artillery, the latter having come out at a gallop with double teams. Then the infantry arrived under Colonel Ian Hamilton, the second half-battalion of the Manchester Regiment, a battalion of the Devonshire Regiment under Major Park, and five companies of the Gordon Highlanders under Lieutenant-Colonel Dick-Cunyngham, V.C.
At 3.30 P.M. General White arrived on the scene, but the executive command of the troops engaged remained in the hands of General French. The Boers were discovered to be magnificently posted on a horseshoe-shaped ridge about 800 feet above the level of the railway to north of the Ladysmith-Dundee road, standing almost at a right angle from the permanent way, though some 2000 yards removed from it. On the side nearing the railroad the ridge was crowned with a peaked kopje, which hill was connected by a nek with another eminence of the same kind. These hills were held by the enemy, while their laager was situated on the connecting ridge. The position was strewn on both flanks by very rough boulders which afforded excellent cover. On the main hill were three big guns strongly posted at three different points so as to command a wide expanse of country and leave a retreat open over the hills in the direction of Wessel's Nek. Facing the ridge was a wide expanse of veldt rising upwards in the direction of Ladysmith.
At four—an unusually late hour for the commencement of hostilities—the first gun boomed out; the range was 4400 yards. A few moments of furious cannonading, then the enemy's guns ceased to reply. The silence enabled the artillerymen to turn their attention on a party of the foe who were annoying them with a persistent rifle-fire on the right flank at a range of 2000 yards. It was an admirable corrective, and the Boer sharpshooters retired discomfited. Meanwhile the infantry had been brought up in preparatory battle formation of small columns covered by scouts. The position of the infantry was then as follows:—
The first battalion Devonshire Regiment, with a frontage of 500 yards and a depth of 1300 yards, was halted on the western extremity of a horseshoe-shaped ridge. The opposite end of this ridge, which was extremely rugged and broken, was held by the enemy in force. The first battalion Manchester Regiment had struck the ridge fully 1000 yards to the south-east, just at the point where it begins to bend round northwards. The second battalion Gordon Highlanders were one mile in rear.
Now, no sooner had the Devonshire Regiment commenced to move forward than they attracted the shell of the enemy, but owing to the loose formation adopted, the loss at this time was slight. In spite of the furious fire, the regiment still pushed on to within 900 yards of the position, and then opening fire, held the enemy in front of them till 6 P.M. The batteries also advanced and took up a position on a ridge between the Devonshire and Manchester Regiments, about 3200 yards from the enemy. Then began an animated artillery duel, the roar of guns mingling with the thunder of heaven, which at this juncture seemed to have attuned itself to suit the stormy state of the human tempest that was raging below. At this period considerable damage was done. Captain Campbell, R.A., was wounded, an ammunition waggon overturned, and many men and horses were killed or injured. For some time the interchange of deadly projectiles was pursued with vigour, then the 42nd Field Battery came into action. The Imperial Light Horse now moved left of the enemy's position; some mounted Boers at once pushed out and engaged them. Soon after this the guns from above ceasing firing, our gunners turned their attention to the mounted Boers, who rapidly fell back. Then, as the sun was setting and dark clouds were rolling over the heavens and screening the little light that remained, the infantry pressed forward. The plan was that while the Devonshire Regiment made a frontal attack, the Manchester Regiment, supported by the Gordons with the Imperial Light Horse on the right, were to advance along the sloping ridge, turn the enemy's flank and force him back on his main position. This movement was to be supported by the artillery, which was to close in as the attack developed.
The Devons, under Major Park, marched out, as said, leading the way across the plateau and into the valley coolly and deliberately, though under a terrific fire from above. The Boer guns, which were served with great courage, invariably gave tongue on the smallest provocation, and the ground was ploughed up in every direction with bursting shell. But fortunately few of the gallant Devons were hit. Later on they drew nearer the position, and the regiment, halted under cover of convenient ant-hills, and opened fire. The rifles of the enemy were not slow to reply. Their Mauser bullets whirred like swarms of bees around the heads of the plucky fellows, who, heedless of them, dauntlessly advanced to within some 350 yards of the summit of the hill. There they awaited the development of the flank attack.
Meanwhile the Manchesters, with the Imperial Light Horse and the Gordons, were winding round the lower steeps, the Gordons bearing to the right through a cutting in the hills. Here, ascending, they came under the artillery fire of the enemy, the Boers having moved their guns. Shells, and not only shells but huge boulders, dropped among the advancing troops, crushing and mutilating, and leaving behind a streak of mangled bodies. But though the ordeal was terrible, and the sound and sight of wounded and bleeding were enough to paralyse the stoutest heart, the ever "gay" Gordons plodded on, passing higher and higher, while their officers leading, cheered and roared them up the precipitous ascent. Thus they clambered and plodded, with men dropping dead at their elbows, with torn and fainting comrades by their sides. A storm of rain from the gathering thunderclouds drenched them through to the skin, but they heeded it not. A storm of bullets from the Boers sensibly diminished their numbers, but they never swerved. Then their gallant commander fell. Colonel Dick-Cunyngham, the honoured and beloved, was shot in two places. Several other dashing Scottish officers were wounded, but many still heroically stumbled and reeled over the boulders, some even waving their helmets to pretend they were unhurt, and to encourage their companions to the great, the final move....