[From Manx Quarterly, #2 June 1907]
[some bad scanning tbd]
[BY A MANXMAN.]
So many thousands of columns of matter have been written concerning the Anglo-Boer War, and everyone was so sickened of the whole affair, that it seems almost futile to add anything more to the agony. Nevertheless a few personal reminiscences of a Manxman, who went through the campaign, may not be void of interest to many who followed the ups and downs of this great war, which shook England to her very foundations. For several months before Oom Paul's historical ultimatum appeared, the English Press was almost daily dilating upon the power, ability, and resource of the British Army " The finest artillery in the world," "What they could do," etc. Among the many Jingo effusions and silly ideas, an illustrated article appeared in " Pearson's Magazine," entitled "How the army is to be fed on the field," containing snap-shot photos of huge traction engines and trucks attached, being tested at Aldershot. These schoolboy trials at Aldershot proved to be perfectly satisfactory in every way, and the article in question was full of eulogies for the originator of this splendid idea of transport, among other things, stating that, to a large extent; these traction engines would do away with animal transport, etc.
Eventually, after the outbreak of hostilities, and when Buller was operating around Spearmans and Spion Kop, a number of these huge army feeder traction engines arrived, and were duly detrained and fitted up at the Army railway base at that time, Frere. Being curious as to the practicability of these mechanical monsters on the veldt, I availed myself of a favourable opportunity to have a chat with one of the " officers in charge", and, to my surprise, he was very sanguine as to the advantages and suitability of this mode of transport for feeding the army from the base of operations, and concluding with the remark that once they got in full owing; half of the animal transport could be dispensed with.
In due course, one of the engines, with a light load, started off. Expressions of optimism ran high; and all went well until within about five miles out from Frere, when unfortunately the engine stuck fast in some boggy ground, and the more they tried to extricate her the deeper she sank in the earth; and, after several fruitless efforts to pull her out, she was finally abandoned, deeply submerged in the bog, a black and uncouth looking derelict, which unmistakeably told its own tale to the most verdant soldier a silent veldt monument of military misplaced confidence. A few men were left in charge of her, and the sarcasm and stinging flouts flung at these men by passing Tommies, one might fancy, were seriously taken, as the leviathan was deserted on the green veldt, not even a single man being left in charge to stand the brunt of Tommy's invectives. A palpable failure! Anyone approaching from a distance, and not actually knowing what it was, would certainly have done a considerable amount of reconnoitring before advancing to get a nearer view of the ungainly monster, owing to the fact that at a distance on the veldt it had a suspicious and uncanny appearance a "dangerous to approach" look about it. After this disastrous experiment, no further trials were necessary " to prove the worthlessness of the engines for the purpose intended, so they were gathered together and sent round to Capetown.
Until one gets used to them, to an ordinary civilian the ways of the military are dumbfounding to the last degree. Their methods are peculiar and often contradictory, causing no end of confusion and muddle. Through lack of experience, the most absurd orders are given and implicit obedience demanded. To the lay mind it is very often a puzzle to fathom the utility of the officers' military education, as unfortunately in too many cases during the war, blunders have been committed which in no small manner are traceable to the officers' military training or education, which appears to have a strong tendency to working in the theoretical grooves, with the accompanying state of crystallization of the mind, and hence nullification of individuality and initiative capacity of action, which are such essential factors for grasping the exigencies of local circumstances and environment. A number of the younger officers were a very trying lot lacking in experience, self-opinionated, full lot lacking conceit and emptiness, combined with pettish tempers, and shockingly barren of that ordinary commodity termed " common-sense." The officers possessing, more or less, these personal idiosyncrasies, were in many instances the cause of endless irritation and discord. Often in warfare has the fact been exemplified that it is not an essential element to success for a man to pass through a college in order to acquire the necessary acumen and ability to lead or command. It is also an erroneous conclusion to think for one moment that because an officer has passed successfully through the military staff college, he will be equally a success on the field. In practical test it does not always follow. In the late war, several noted writers and theorists of warfare proved themselves to be failures in the field. One might venture to conclude that their craniums are so full of such a mass of military strategy and tactical stuffing, that there is but scant room left for anything else; therefore necessitating the consultation of books of reference in order to fight according to the approved rule as laid down. Deficient intelligent observation of the topography of the country accounted for many mistakes. The fact of it is, that leaders of men are, like poets and painters, born, not made. The Army Intelligence was also lacking in efficiency according to modern conditions of warfare, as were the Imperial approved method of scouting, and the handling of infantry in methods totally unsuited to contemporary warfare, in defence and attack.
The Colonial i.e., the Colonial born and Uitlanders with colonial experience was at first despised by the Imperial military authorities; his ability and skill, however, were soon recognised, and in many instances, if it had not been for the Colonial's sagacity, there would in all probability have been a few more unpleasant incidents to chronicle. The Engineers, with their balloons, at Colenso, Vaal Krantz, Potgieter's Drift, and Spion Kop, were also unavailing, and only an encumbrance on the army. On the much over-rated and flaunted horse artillery being matched against the Boer weapon of similar calibre, the veil of illusion quickly fell, as the Boers easily demonstrated they were manipulating the superior weapon! The " pom-pom " was generally considered by the military experts to be a useless appendage to the implements of modern warfare; consequently Buller's army were not in possession of a single one prior to his first attempt to storm the Tugela heights, when he must have been painfully impressed with the terribly demoralising effect and destructiveness of this weapon, employed against an advance of infantry. The Boers fired from four to five shots at a time, with a few seconds' interval; the " pom-pom " itself was concealed behind the shoulder of a hill, and was difficult for the British to locate. The report of the gun echoed among the hills and deep ravines, and barked with a deep and sullen snappishness, as if some inhuman monster had been let loose from the bowels of the earth. On the hills not a Boer was to be seen moving, despite the fact that the' heights were known to be full of them. The Boer was lying low awaiting developments. After several days of hot, though apparently ineffectual artillery fire from our side, the infantry were ordered to advance across an open plain at the foot of the hills, and it was here that the "pom-pom," assisted by mauser rifles, committed such terrible havoc among our men. They were simply mowed down! A few soldiers who returned from this futile attempt at storming the hills, made the remark that they would just as soon "charge the devil himself "'as face the "pom-pom." It drove terror into them, and it was quite evident that these tactics would not prevail against an enemy so strongly and invisibly entrenched on the hills above. The impression enforced itself upon one that it was very much like experimenting in the grim reality of warfare with the lives of brave men !
Buller's next move was to try his hand on the Boers at Vaal Krantz, Potgieter's Drift, and around Spion Kop. In these movements it looked as if there was no one in command of the force, as a whole. The operations appeared to be spasmodic, fragmentary, and disjointed; the elements of cohesibility and concentration seemed wanting or held in abeyance, for the undertaking of forcing a passage through the Boer ranks right into Ladysmith. The Spion Kop affair, after so many hardships endured in rainy weather, was very sickening and destructive to the morale of the troops. The Boers were so convinced of the terrible havoc they had made at Spion Kop, that they felt almost positive they had inflicted such a tremendous blow to Buller's army that he would give up the idea of again attempting to relieve Ladysmith.
The retirement was a painful performance; yet, was a grand and awe-inspiring spectacle. An army of about twenty thousand men, with its heterogeneal paraphernalia a continuous line extending for a length of ten miles marching slowly along the flats, down the valleys, and over the hills. A huge moving conglomeration; a gigantic and formidable procession of mixed humanity, with innumerable death-dealing weapons, large and small. Truly a remarkable panorama.! What a number of brave comrades, who, only a few weeks before, traversed this same route full of life and spirit, were left behind, buried in the trenches a grave on the silent veldt!
Once more Buller's army assembled in front of the Tugela heights, determined to force a passage. A right flank concentrated attack commenced, masses of infantry crossed over the Tugela River, and desperate fighting ensued as they ascended the hills. The whole movement was covered and supported by a terrific hailstorm of artillery fire; at times the ieizh-s were literally white with bursting
':. which made it too hot for the Boer 'artillery, who were very soon practically " .silenced, as they had very little chance doing a great deal of damage owing to the mass and weight of artillery opposed to them.
Speaking of artillery practice, I witnessed a lively and vivid duel between two opposing twelve or fifteen pounders. The Boer gun was posted on a rugged projecting eminence near the south-western base of Thabas Inmamba, the rough nature of the country affording splendid protection. The English gun was posted in low-lying ground, directly opposite the Boer gun. The firing was at long range, and so they kept blazing away at each other for nigh upon two hours, with very few and short intervals. Towards the finish, this duel was particularly exciting, and waxed fast and furious, as the Boers were finding it too warm for them, and were attempting to limber up. The English were now firing with exceeding rapidity, and to their utmost capacity were they hurling projectile after projectile, overhead, to the right, to the left, a little short. At this stage of the proceedings the Boers would fire a number of shells in quick succession, and then make a rush to hitch the horses to the gun. Twice their efforts were frustrated in this move to escape, as the English shells were dropping around them in dangerous proximity. Momentarily I expected seeing a shell dropping right into them and finishing the battle. At this period the excitement was highest; the English made excellent shooting, and one shot particularly enveloped the Boer gun and their four horses in a cloud of sand. I thought the were finished. But no! they emerged from the scene with little, if any, damage. However, their position was a desperately hot one, and to the onlooker it appeared almost a miracle they were not blown to pieces! Notwithstanding the unsafe condition of affairs, the Boer gunners remained unrouted, and apparently determined to get out of range as quickly as possible. They finally bent all their efforts towards hitching the horses to their gun, and after a very lively time succeeded in doing so, and off they skedaddled as hard as the horses could go, and in a few minutes were lost to view, no doubt congratulating themselves on their remarkable escape from the fierce encounter. Whoever they were, they are deserving of praise for the plucky manner in which they handled their gun.
Mount Alice commands a beautiful and picturesque view of the surrounding country, and is situate immediately above Potgieter's Drift, on the Tugela River, and adjoining Spearmans. The depth of water in the drift at this season of the year generally reached up to the saddle girths, with a fairly strong current. About a mile beyond the drift, to the north, lay a long, low, semi-circular shaped number of kopjes, which were strongly entrenched by the Boers; beyond lay a stretch of gently undulating veldt, with a heavy fringe of kopjes on the right. Just below Mount Alice, on a flat elbow of ground abutting the Tugela River, a battery of six guns 12 and 15 pounders were placed in position, and on Mount Alice itself were placed two formidable 4.7 guns, in the very able hands of tars from H.M.S. Terrible.
Early one morning a tremendous fusilade began, the object point being all along the line of the Boer trenches. This bombardment did not elicit a single response from the Boer side; but the silence made no difference the combined eight guns kept up their fire with unflagging vigour, until a body of infantry emerged from the drift and slowly advanced towards the Boer position in extended formation, followed by an ox-waggon to which was fastened a large balloon. Presently up went the balloon to the full limit of the painter, the firing ceased, and all was serene. After remaining up for a few hours, the balloon returned to mother earth, the waggon recrossed the drift, closely followed by the infantry, who were employed as a protecting screen for the balloon. Again our eight guns belched forth their missiles, hurling them at the Boer lines, and at times raising great clouds of sand and dust. For quite a long time the fire was kept going with unremitting regularity. The effect was disappointing. The Boer was not to be drawn; he treated all our firing with contain pt, and did not reply by a single shot. He lay low, economising ammunition. At odd times a Boer might be seen passing hurriedly to and fro between the hills, or beating a hasty retreat out of the trenches.
In the pursuance of my duties one day, I was standing alongside the 4.7's on Mount Alice, when I happened to spy in the distant flat, a long way beyond the Boer lines, an ox-waggon with about half a dozen men accompanying it. I called the attention of the naval officer commanding the two guns to the waggon, which evidently was making for the Boer laager at the base of the Thaba Inmamba (i.e., Mountain of Snakes). In crossing a spruit it disappeared from view for a few moments, and on making its reappearance the naval officer levelled his powerful marine telescope on the trekkers for a few moments, and then expressed his opinion that the waggon was loaded with ammunition. The distance was four miles. He ordered his men to have a try at it. They fired a shot each, making excellent marksmanship. At the third shot there was a terrific explosion in the distance, and nothing was seen of the waggon but a number of splintered-looking objects flying in the air, and three or four Boers tearing away across the veldt, halter-skelter, as hard as ever their horses could go. This scene has left the impression on my mind that it was the finest and fastest piece of horse racing I have ever witnessed. It was undoubtedly a splendid shot, and the horse racing that followed was unquestionably superb. Any movement of the Boers in attempting to move from one position to another was immediately followed by a 4.7 shell landing on the spot, which must have been very irritating and annoying to them. Jack Tar was quite at home in the handling of the huge piece of ordinance, and manipulation was combined with ease and accuracy.
After many days of hard and desperate fighting and the loss of man lives, the Boers were dislodged from their strongholds on the Tugela heights, and at last the road lay open to Ladysmith Ladysmith was relieved ! This final and successful attempt to relieve Ladysmith from the beginning possessed the potential elements of success, which the former attempts appeared to be sadly lacking in -that is, concentration and determination ! Passing through one of the Boer laagers situate among the foothills, and quite near the Tugela River, the sight was most ghastly and sickening. Dead men and animals lay scattered about, and the stench was abominable.
At last Ladysmith was reached. What a relief indeed to the gaunt and bleached faces of the besieged, who appeared to be almost too weak to hold a rifle, far less to stand against any resemblance of an opposing force! I was just entering the town of Ladysmith, when a middle-aged officer rushed up to me and gave me a slap on the back with his open hand, gripped me by the hand and shook it lustily, accompanied by the remark
"Damned glad to see you! How are you P" For the moment I felt nonpluss'd, as I thought the officer had made a mistake, and I was quite positive that I had not the faintest idea of his identity. Then the solution of the situation dawned upon me. He had been one of the besieged, and this was only his enthusiastic manner of giving expression to his appreciation of relief. Many expressed surprise at Buller not sending a force of mounted men after the retreating Boers, as a considerable number of them, including a quantity of transport, could so easily have been captured. As it was, a few men went out to Modder Spruit, and brought into Ladysmith ten waggons of stuff, consisting of groceries, pom-pom shells, etc., which had been abandoned by the Boers in their hasty flight. The "Long Tom" got badly stuck in the Modder Spruit, and the Boers gave it up as lost, and abandoned it. Next day, however, as there were no English to be seen anywhere, they returned to dig it out, and after two days' of undisturbed working, succeeded in getting the gun clear, and walked away with it, delighted and yet astonished at the apathy of the English, for the Boers were prepared at a moment's notice, and on the first sign of the English approaching, to finally abandon it.
Everything in and around Ladysmith had a hard, dry, and blighted appearance. but what struck one forcibly en looking about was the' infinitesimal damage to the town itself by the "Long Tym" shells. After the relief, the army was split up into sections, and each section formed its own encampment within a radius of four or five miles, where the forces, after their arduous labour, enjoyed a breathing spell for a few days, when a general move was made to Sundays River, where a large camp was formed, embracing all the units of the Natal Field Force. We lay here for some time, in close proximity to the Biggarsberg hills, which the Boers were occupying in strong force. Shortly after daybreak one lovely calm morning, the whole camp was aroused into commotion and alarm by the fact of the Boers opening fire on our camp, their special object being the Jack Tar unit, upon whom shall after shell rained down in quick succession, several men being killed and wounded. ' It is an axiom that whenever Jack commences operations with his 4.;, something has got to shift, and within a few minutes the Boer fire was returned and expeditiously silenced.
Following this occurrence, a general advance commenced round by the eastern point of the Biggarsberg. Miles of trenches had been excavated by the Boers on the south-western slopes and hills in anticipation of the usual frontal attack by the British. As this did not take place, they were compelled to vacate their trenches without firing a single shot and rush pell-mell on through Newcastle. They did not stop until they reached the historical Laings Nek, a pass over the Drakensberg mountains and adjoining the famous Amajuba, where their preparations were complete for a further stand. As they retreated, every railway bridge and culvert was blown up. Laings Nek tunnel shared the same fate, both ends of the tunnel, consisting of masonry work, being blown up; but the tunnel itself was not seriously damaged. For an example of the terrific power of gun-cotton, the damage to the strong iron bridge crossing the Tugela River at Colenso would be hard to beat. The bridge was broken in several places, and thrown about into fantastic shapes, as if it had been a more toy. The pioneer bridge and railway builders did excellent work,' and were not long in filling up the gaps as the army moved onwards. It was fully expected the Boers would make a determined stand at Majuba and Laings Nek, as the position is a strong one. On getting within range, artillery fusilade was indulged in for a day or two.
About six miles due east of Majuba stands a very high and prominent mountain, named Pogwan, which runs to a comparatively small circular top, where the Boers made a roomy excavation and put down a solid cement flooring of considerable thickness and stability, with the necessary adjuncts for fixing in position a Long Tom. Leading up to this fort from the base of the mountain, on the northern side, an excellent winding road was cut, sufficiently large enough for the handling of Long Tom, the whole thing being a neat and clever piece of engineering workmanship. It must be remembered a Long Tom, with carriage included, weighs nearly ten tons, whereas an English 4.7 gun is only about five tons, mounted. The magnificent view to be obtained from the summit of this Pogwan mountain made a strong impression on the memory. Imagine lying beneath one's gaze a stretch of undulating country, with hills and valleys and winding streams, and luxuriantly rich and flowing grassy plain, with its endless variegated shades of colouring effect, extending for a distance of fully 60 miles, and some faint idea of the beauty and grandeur of the scene may be sensed. From this point of vantage t"e Boers manipulated their "Long Tom," but with very little effect. All along Laings Nek were posted guns of various calibre. An artillery duel was maintained for a day or two, and while this was in progress, the English were developing their main attack on Halleman's Pass, situate some little distance to the west of Majuba. The Boers, as usual, had a splendid position, but after stiff fighting the pass was taken and the Boers compelled to retreat. In doing so, they set the veldt grass alight, and the wind suddenly veering round, numbers of their own dead and wounded were roasted. A passage opened at Halleman's Pass of course invalidated the Boer position at Laings Nek, and they beat a hasty retreat. In their retreat from the former position they were hotly pursued by a force of Colonial troops at a hard pace, and had a lively time.
I must here make mention of another fine shot by the Naval men. On the eastern side of Majuba, in an indentation, a small piece, of what looked like a waggon sail, was now and again visible, but was very indistinct at the distance, owing to the bluish tinge of the mountain. Whatever it was, the sailors put a shot clean into it, and it disappeared. At such a long distance the accuracy of the shot was wonderful in fact, it could not possibly have been better.
On top of Laings Nek the weather was cold and sleety, and especially so at nights when it was freezing the cold was intense. The boundary line of the Transvaal and Natal lies just about half-way between Charlestown and Volksrust, and as we crossed the border a special army order was issued, strictly prohibiting looting, of which order the Colonial troops took no notice. When one is fed for a time on bully beef and biscuits, quite naturally the appetite has a leaning towards something more palatable; and then, again, why leave all the fresh meat for brother Boer, when our own men were weakening for the want of fresh meat? In passing odd farm houses along the line of march, never have I heard the beauties of fowldom so tenderly discussed, and with such unabated vigour! Many a sad and longing eye was cast upon the poor unsuspecting barnyard fowl strutting around the farmstead. Little did he know he was the object of so many eulogistic expressions of admiration! Provisions becoming a bit scarce, an occasional fowl found its way to our pot, and it need hardly be said, when the birds did put in an appearance, they were always assured of a downright hearty welcome. Shortly after dusk one evening, near a Boer house, I suddenly came on to a Tommy with a tremendous turkey in his arms. I said, " Halloa ! what have you there?" He answered, "I don't know, sir; I saw him coming towards me with his two eyes shining like balls of fire. I felt a bit scared, as I knew he was making right straight for me; but just as he came to close quarters I dodged him and slipped the bayonet into him, and kilt him on the spot !"
At a Boer farm, where there were two good dwelling-houses, and only women and children to be seen, the women declaring all the men were out on commando, it happened we were commandeering a quantity of forage, which was closely packed in a large barn. As the men reached near to the far end, they heard a rumbling sort of noise, and concluded there must be a nest of rats. They decided that two of them should stand ready with their bayonets, while the third man removed the sheaves of forage. They had not long to wait, when they were startled by a big, hairy face sticking up from behind the forage, and exclaiming, "Me don't do noddings!" It turned out to be a real live Boer, with Mauser rifle and two bandoliers packed full of ammunition. He strongly protested he was not fighting, but only lying there for safety. He was taken prisoner and marched off to camp.
During a stay at Greylingstad, we were for several days reduced to quarter rations awir g to the Boers blowing up a large iron bridge crossing Groot Spruit, near Greyfiegstad, which had been left unguarded in the night time. An incident occurred iere. in which Strathcona's Horse had the sympathy of the whole force. It appeared that while a squadron of the horse were out patrolling, they approached a Boer house, from the gable of which was displayed a huge white flag. Suddenly. and without the slightest warning, two shots were fired from the window by some person inside the house, with the amult of killing one and wounding another of Strathcona's men. When the asat-_er became known in camp, indignation ran high at the treachery, and 1!!fira _hcona's Horse vowed to have ven-
n-e on the morrow by going out and _ -k-no, the house. General Clery, who -n temporary command of the forces t.L= time, would not grant permission them to do so, and matters became strained; nevertheless, Strathcona's ,were resolutely determined to carry their project of revenge, and in a body rut and levelled the house to the d.
.after replenishing our supply of food-a: Greylingstad, we proceeded in an easterly direction until we reached the Vaal River, to the north of Standerton, about twenty miles, and then retraced our footsteps to Greylingstad. This expedition was cleped " Clery's Circus." The Boers were continually to be seen on the northern sky line; sniping at long range was indulged in on a few occasions, and we had some casualties. The Boers moved with us in a parallel line until Greylingstad was reached, when they disappeared among the mountains to the north, where they held a strong position. Our neat move was up the line as far as the Suikerboschrivier, and as we left the . hills surrounding Greylingstad and emerged into open country, which extends for miles in wavy undulations, quite a stretch of our route was commanded by a huge mountain occupied by the Boers, and for about four hours they kept up a continuous fire with " pom-poms " 12 and 15 pounders devoting their attention for some time to Strathcona's Horse. Luckily, not a single shell exploded, and the veldt being sandy, the shells disappeared noiselessly in the earth. The artillery that accompanied us on this trip was mostly armed with the obsolete pattern of guns, and the officer in com mand was of similar calibre. Several futile attempts were made at returning the Boer fire, but our firing was too short, and wretched, to touch anywhere near the Boers. A most laughable attempt was made with a howitzer of ours. The gunners appeared to be in desperate earnest, but the poor fellows would have had equally as good a chance of reaching the Boers if they had been firing from Aldershot Common. Near the finish of this mocking warfare, an officer who was in charge of a gun, after numerous vain attempts to reach the Boers, finally gave it up, ordered the men to limber up, and was proceeding to camp at a slow walk, when the Boers opened fire on this particular gun, firing rapidly and dropping shells in dangerous proximity around. Surprise was expressed at the officer not taking his gun out of the fire range; which only meant a few yards. But no! He held on, probably strengthened by a powerful armour of red tape, until a shell dropped right in among the gunners, killing one and wounding another, besides wounding a very fine horse. Then a stoppage was made, and while the rearranging of matters was going on, the Boers were firing faster than ever, and it just looked like a miracle that everyone, horses and all, connected with the gun were not blown to atoms. The escape appeared most extraordinary. A staff officer rode up at full speed, and addressing the officer in charge of the gun, "told him off" in language more forcible than polite, and ordered him to get out of range at once. It was one of the worst pieces of noodle-headedness I have witnessed, for this officer of artillery callously and unnecessarily endangered the lives of brave men.
After having paraded the neighbourhood for some time, we struck out in a northerly direction, where we were joined by several columns from Springs and Boksburg, and a united move was made for Amersfoort, a small township with a normal population of about 300, situate on the veldt twenty miles north of the railway line. The most striking and characteristic feature in these small Dutch towns is usually the Dutch church, standing out prominently far above all other buildings; and Amersfoort is no exception to the rule. The existence of one of these church buildings, I may say, is scarcely a reliable guide to gauge the spirituality of the people. On our way to this place, we had a few skirmishes with the Boers, and after sundry other little fights, we arrived at Ermelo, a rather important Boer town of close upon 1,000 inhabitants, containing the usual conspicuous church, Government offices, and
a good large hotel. Continuing our journey on through the Komati River, north-west of Carolina, where a veldt fire passed through our camp, and a number of mules were so severely burnt that they had to be shot, we arrived at a place called Geluk. We could distinctly hear the booming of big guns at Belfast, fifteen miles away, on the Delagoa Bay railway line, which eventually turned out to be Lord Roberts's army advancing to meet our force at the former place.
The Boers were in strong force on our right front, and it was quite evident we had yet some fighting to do before the two forces joined hands at Belfast. The roar of artillery was now to be heard all round; the infantry were deployed, and the mounted men were held in bunches scattered here and there, awaiting developments. If any evidence or proof of the efficient of the " pom-pom " were require there was sufficient here to convince the most sceptical as to the great utility of this piece of artillery. This " pom-pom " was intelligently placed in position in an indent on a high sloping hill, and was exceptionally well protected from the enemy's fire by a natural bulge in the hillside. Right in front, and extending towards Belfast, were a series of low-lying ridges, with steep sides, grown over with thick and heavy grass. At the foot of one of these ridges was a big donga, out of which the Boers were pouring, and cautiously wending their way in open order up the grassy slope, creeping on their hands and knees. This movement extended for a distance of over two miles in length, and in some places they were three or four in depth, or more. When the development assumed considerable proportions, and everything appeared to be working smoothly, they were unceremoniously shocked by the blazing fire of our gun, which "pom-pommed " right into and along their line of advance with telling effect. The scene that followed was wonderful; to a man they turned tail and started off down the hillside with marvellous alacrity. Some threw awatheir rifles and depended on their legs'; others were performing acrobatic feats, something between a slide and a somersault: while yet others were jumping about like springboks, and a few more, as if in an attempt to outdo their comrades, were leaping like kangaroos. The latter, however, were sadly lacking in agility, and their manoeuvres were clumsy and
ungainly. A few sprinters were well worthy of special notice and recognition, for every one of them appeared to be bent on breaking the record.
In.quick time this single pom-pom did as much work as an ordinary battery of 12-pounders it skinned the Boers clean out. A party of them attempted a flanking movement, with the idea of sniping at the pom-pom, but their scheme was promptly frustrated by the latter giving them too hot a reception While this was going on, a Long Tom and a smaller gun devoted their attention to placing this pom-pom out of action. The Boer fire was wild and wide off the mark;
I their Long Tom shrapnel shells were bursting at a very high altitude, and raining down showers of lead bullets similar in size to a pigeon's egg. The firing being done at lohrg range, the trajectory wars necessarily high, consequently there was less chance of accurate shooting.
The Boers fell back on to the ridges and mountains east of Belfast, and it was rumoured they intended making a final stand, and if beaten to give in and so end the war. Buller's forces, during desultory skirmishes, gradually worked their way onwards until a junction was formed with Lord Roberts' force at Belfast, and the corAted forces commenced active operations against the enemy under Botha, whose forces were also united;"among the mountains and rugged country east of Belfast, with the railway winding in between. The nearest Boer position was on a long, rocky ridge, which was strongly held; in a stretch of this ridge, named Bergendaal, were ensconced the Johannesburg Police. Under cover of artillery fire, which was fast and furious, a body of infantry advanced to storm this position; but on arrival they fõund the place vacated. The fact of the matter was that the concentrated artillery fire and splintering of the shells among the rocks made the position absolutely untenable, and all those who were able took to precipitate flight. Only a small remnant of the Police Force (Zarps) escaped annihilation. The position, though exceedingly strong, was only a death-trap for those holding it; against the artillery pandemonium nothing could live, for the shells were striking the rocks and bursting with terrific force, sending splinters of iron and lead in every direction imaginable. Frequently as many as six shells were bursting at the one time. Around this position for scores of yards the veldt was thickly strewn with lead, as if a shower of shrapnel bullets had fallen.
Despite rumour, the Boers did not capitulate, but fell back on Machadodorp and thence to Lydenberg. At Machadodorp, the writer was informed by a personal friend of General Botha's that he (Botha) did his utmost to stay behind; he even shut himself up in a private room of the hotel with the intention of keeping out of the way until the Boers had gone, with the intention on the arrival of the British force of surrendering himself, as he was sickened and disgusted with the whole affair, knowing full well the cause he had embraced was hopeless. It was of no use, and his little plan was not successful, for at the last moments a few of his fellow-officers returned and ferreted him out, and, very much against his will, he had to go with them. The burghers were recalcitrant and determined to keep on, for even had they lost Botha's services, there were numerous others ready to take his place.
At Machadodorp the main road branches off from the railway to Lydenburg through mountainous country, and Buller's force followed up the Boers along this route. On reaching Schoeman's Kloof, the road descends by a steep and circuitous cutting in the mountain side, into the low-lying Crocodile Valley, surrounded on all sides by precipitous mountains, the northern range especially being exceptionally rugged and grand in its massive proportions and sombreness. In the western extremity of this range, a waterfall, with a drop of eighty feet, relieves the monotony somewhat. To the south-west of the waterfall runs a deep and narrow valley, extending for miles in a westerly direction; the flanking mountains on either side are covered with bush and scrub, with an occasional deep indentation, as if cut out by one stroke of a monstrous sword. Here are the ideal habitations of snakes, wild cats, baboons, and tigers, and in fact the largest kloof is named " Tiger's Kloof."
At the entrance to this valley stood a Boer homestead, and the lady of the house, mounted on a scraggy Boer pony, one day paid a visit to our camp in search of coffee and sugar the Boers staple luxuries. Having received a generous supply of these and other edibles, she was charmed with her reception. Before she left our camp, I expressed a wish for not more than three of us to pay a visit to the homestead, if she thought it would be safe for us to do so. She frankly replied in the negative, but stated she would send her young son up the goat path leading to the Boer lager, situate in a hollow at the back of the mountains, and enquire of them if they would be good enough to allow three " khakis" to visit the homestead. As the lady left our camp for Lome, the ragged pony was actually staggering under the load he had to carry. The following day the son brought its the return megsage, written in Dutch and signed by Commandant Joubert, to the effect they would not fire on us, providing we went no further than the homestead... The distance from our camp was only four miles, and we were quickly in the saddle and cautiously picking our way, in case of any treachery. On arriving at the homestead, the lady was very friendly, and made us a good cup of coffee. Immediately behind the house a beautiful stream of water was pouring forth-out of the mountain side and flowed through a large, though neglected, garden in front of the house, containing a variety of fruit trees, vines, and sub-tropical plants. On paying a second visit, the lady was very uneasy, as she told us the commandant had sent word down that we were not to come again, or otherwise take the consequences. We cut our visit short and did not venture out again, as we could have been very easily ambushed.
At the eastern extremity of the Crocodile Valley, the egress was worse than the ingress, the ascent being very long and circuitous before the plateau was reached. Arrived at the top, a splendid view was obtained over a tremendous stretch of mountainous country. In the valley itself are located numerous Boer homesteads, and from one of these we lost one of our men, treacherously shot under the white flag. The house was promptly burnt down.
From the plateau the road gradually descends into Lydenberg, a pretty town of about 1,000 population. The streets are beautifully shaded by a variety of trees, and along several streets huge weeping willow trees meet high overhead, forming a lovely arch. From the mountains above the water is led in gutters throughout the town ;fruit and vegetables are abundant; the climate is mild and salubrious in winter, and hot in summer. The Boers had retired up a long mountain road leading to Barberton. From Lydenberg to the top of this mountain is a distance of about three miles.
When our troops arrived at Lydenberg no Boers were visible; camp was struck near the banks of the river flowing past the town, and numbers of the troops availed themselves of the opportunity to have a bath. All of a sudden, Long Tom opened a rapid fire, and shell after shell came tearing down from the heights above, the objective of the aim being a large pool in the river, which contained probably a hundred bathers or more, of whom several were killed and wounded. Instantly all was bustle in camp, and the bugles called " to arms." Regiments formed in quick order and advanced up the hillside; our artillery opened, and a big gun duel ensued, but before the infantry got half-way up the hill the Boers "scooted." Early the following morning we were after them, and as we descended a rocky, steep declivity, appropriately named the "Devil's Knuckles," we could see pieces of artillery, smashed to pieces, lying at the bottom of an inaccessible gorge two hundred feet below us. The Boer transport animals were knocked up, and so the enemy had been reluctantly compelled to abandon these guns. Near Pilgrim's Rest they were further pressed to let go wagons of flour and groceries, etc., which were left standing in the roadway, and of course fell into our hands. Vde passed down through the rich and fertile Oorigstadt Valley, containing numerous comfortable Boer homesteads. Our route formed a large semicircle round one side of Lydenberg.
Shortly after dusk one evening, our bivouac fires burning brightly, our camp was again quite unexpectedly thrown into commotion the Boers playing "the same old game" by dropping Long Tom shells right in our midst, and again killing and wounding several of our men. They did not suspend their fire until all our lights were extinguished, when all was quiet for the night. The following day we arrived at Lydenberg again.
In Lydenbera are still to be seen the remains of the old fort where the English residents took up their quarters and successfully held against the Boer attacks during the sham hostilities of 1879. They endured many hardships, and only surrendered when peace was proclaimed. The majority of them paid dearly for their loyalty, for their property was confiscated by the Boer Government, and the English Government ignored all their appeals for assistance.
We now come to the commencement of the guerilla warfare, and the consequent imperative necessity for the English to establish military posts throughout the country in order to keep their lines of communication open; and soon afterwards it was decided to bring in the burgher families and non-combatants, many of whom were in a deplorable state of destitution, and place them in refugee camps at the principal military stations, where everything was done for them that could possibly be done in a time of war. Everv consideration was shown them, and their comfort and welfare were studied in every respect.
Following the concentration of refugees, the Boers were very frequent in their treacherous use of the white flag, and very many of our men lost their lives as a result, which made us very cautious and suspicious whenever a white flag was displayed. The expedient adopted to  against this treachery was to say that those wishing to surrender had to advance for some distance in the open, unarmed. A common dodge was to hoist white flag on an empty house, then to wait in ambush awaiting the coming of the visiting Tommy, and at close quarters shoot as many as they could, and afterwards clear out.
The burning of homesteads was nowresorted to by our troops, and this had effect of raising a hue and cry in England and in some parts of the rest of Europe,by numerous busy-bodies seeking a cheap notoriety, while others again were well paid for their yapping of "British cruelties," etc. In any country except England these disloyal nonentities would have been at least placed in some safe and peaceful home where the terrors of warfare would not have affected their disorganised craniums. If they honestly wished to render any assistance to the Boer cause, why did they not come and join them and give practical proof of their earnestness? It is a very simple and easy matter to condemn your countrymen amidst the enjoyment of home comfort and luxuries; but on the veldt the scene is changed poor food and no luxuries; cold mother earth for a bed, and constant exposure to cold, heat, wind and rain, and frequent fighting. Most people agree that it is terribly cruel for man to, kill his fellow-man, yet it is warfare, and what is called "Civilised" warfare at that; and as long as the necessity remains for civilised warfare, the laying waste of the enemy's country must be the inevitable concomitant. It is absolutely necessary in war to drive home to the enemy that further resistance will mean the severest suffering, and that aimless guerilla operations will not be further tolerated. It must not be forgotten that "War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; the attempt to refine it is the greatest cruelty of all." During the American War Sheridan burned no less that 2,000 farms. He knew what war was !
The mobility of the Boer was everywhere in evidence. Block-houses and strong barbed wire in many districts somewhat confined his movements to a limited area, yet in spite of this he was to be found all over the country, alert as a weasel. At Lydenberg one of the captured Boers had on a blue serge jacket, which had down the back a conspicuously defined bandolier impression. He informed the writer that he looted the jacket in Natal, and that for a period extending over twelve months the jacket and bandolier had never left his body ' night and day be kept it on, excepting on rare occasions when necessitous circumstances compelled him to wash his shirt.
Not far from Lydenberg, the writer formed one of a party of three in an exhilarating adventure. We went out to explore the house and surroundings belonging to a well-known and intimate friend and upholder of Oom Paul's regime. The house had been quite recently built and was up-to-date in every respect; it was pleasantly situated, and surrounded by a large garden well-filled with choice plants, fruit trees, and flowers, with every appearance of being well looked after and cared for. At about 1,500 yards distance from the rear of the house ran a ridge of low-lying stony kopjes, with here and there a prominent one standing out in bold outline against the sky-line. Behind this ridge we observed several Boers moving between the kopjes, and perceived four of them making for a donga on our right, where they lay in wait for us. We kept a sharp watch on these, and for some distance retired on the same road as we approached the house; but to avoid the donga where the Boers lay concealed we were compelled to make a big detour down another valley, and, as we were leisurely going along, we were suddenly fired upon by a patrol of lancers, from the opposite side of the hill, who evidently had mistaken us for Boers. We did not stop to parley; fortunately for us, their shooting was very erratic, so we decided to run the gauntlet; and as we were mounted on first-class animals we started up the side of the valley opposite to them as hard as our horses could go, and were quickly out of the range of their fire. Owing to this happening, however, we were driven partially on towards the Boer donga, which we had to pass at a distance. On making our appearance, the Boers opened fire on us, but luckily their shots fell short, and we were not long in gaining the summit of the ridge, where we leisurely walked our horses again. To our amusement, we saw about twenty lancers coming towards us full helter-skelter. They were the same lot that had opened fire on us, and they thought they had a soft thing on to capture us, for they belived our horses were knocked up, and did not for a moment doubt but that we were Boers. On, on they came, their heads bobbing up and down, with the apparent determination of running us to earth. We could very easily judge the capabilities of their horses as they came tearing along, and we knew full well the abilities of our own mounts, which ranked among the best with the forces. We waited for them until they were within a decent distance, when we took off our slouch hats to them and started off at a moderate pace, which proved to be too fast for them, as we considerably increased the distance between us. On reaching the top of a slight rise, we walked our horses, and on seeing this the lancers renewed their efforts to urge on their steeds to the utmost speed possible, one of my friends remarking they must certainly be Death or Glory boys. This time we let them get quite near to us, as we had a good road in front, and, after giving them another display of. hat waving, we got away, and gave them a very practical demonstration of clean heels. Some time afterwards we were told about an exciting chase after three Boers by a patrol of lancers, who were mountec: on swift horses, and it was the general expression of opinion among the patrol that any one of the horses the three Boers rode could easily have won the Derby! At times, just according to the state of the atmosphere, khaki clothing appears to be quite black at a distance, and we wore big slouch hats, which intensified the Boer appearance; also, we carried no useless accoutrements to embarrass our movements.
Half-way between Machadodorp and Lydenberg, a strong post was established at Helvetia, a plateau commanding the country round for miles. A fort was built on a prominent kopje, and a 4.7 gun was placed in position within. The position gave one the impression of being almost impregnable; yet, strange to relate, a comparatively small number of farmers silently crept up in the night time, attacked, and captured the place, and at daybreak serenely walked away with the 4.7 gun, taking along with them a sufficient number of prisoners to form a circle round the gun, so that the English, from another'. position some distance away, dared not fire on them for fear of killing their oWn men. In this fashion the Boers marched off with the gun un-molested, and disappeared behind the hills to the north-west, where they dispensed with the services of the Tommies and blew up the gun to fragments.
Having to go from Machadodorp to Pretoria, I intended travelling by a train leaving the former place at 10 a.m., ãnd, hurrying up to catch this train, I was much annoyed to find it had taken its departure five minutes before the appointed time, and I was just in time to see it steaming out of the station. The station-master reassured me by stating he was despatching a " special " within twenty minutes: and in due course we started, and were not long before we sighted the first train. The driver of the special had instructions to keep five miles tie hind the first one, and so we travelled thout anything untoward happening until we reached Eerste Fabricken station. Our train pulled up some short distance from the station, and on alighting, judge my surprise on viewing the train I intended travelling by to be a heap of jumbled linters and debris, smashed to pieces. It appeared the brakes refused to act, and the consequence that the train l ed into a coal train standing at the station. The driver and stoker were dead, and all the other passengers were - ed or very seriously maimed.
The army was now being reorganised d split up into sections or columns with view of operating by themselves or in junction with other columns. The 'ter was attached to a column which rted operations from Greylingstad, and ved on to the Kaffir River, where we re joined by two other columns, our armed strength being about 3,500 men, mounted, forming what is termed a .n; column. The weather was showery the rain hampered our progress very h through the black turf for a day or . after which the weather brightened and we made good progress, travelling an easterly direction, the three columns moving in parallel lines, with ten to twelve miles distance between column. For nine days we actively nued scouring the country, and now again had some smart skirmishes with Boers is shifting them from some gable position which they occupied.
Eventually we arrived at Amersfoort, where all the inhabitants received immediate orders to prepare themselves for trekking, with as little luggage as possible. The following day ox wagons were drawn up throughout the town and loading commenced in real earnest. Till now the people would not believe that we really intended shifting them from their homes; some of them begged imploringly to be left, and others again, with tears in their eyes, pleaded to stay behind owing to have young and numerous families, etc. Five women of hard visage, who had gathered themselves together in defiant attitude, made a determined stand and absolutely refused to budge, declaring they would not be moved out of their tomes by Englishmen they would rather die first. Several of our men had been round trying to pacify them and persuade them to get a move on; but their efforts were met with torrents of abuse and insult, and they came away defeated. With power to exercise compulsion if necessary, the writer was called upon as a last resource, and, arriving on the scene of action, in a friendly and cordial manner shook hands with each of them. This appeared to create a favourable impression and a rather soothing effect, for a start; but after listening attentively, never less than two and frequently the whole five would burst forth at one and the same time. In extending to them my sympathy in their trouble, I followed up by a simple and concilatory discourse on the political situation. Tears began to flow, the meeting mutually dissolved, all was quiet and peaceful, the ladies were as meek as lambs, and availing ourselves, as the saying goes, of the "psychological moment," the ladies were successfully bundled upon the wagons without a hitch to mar the proceedings. The Dutch minister's wife, a lady of frail physique, completely broke down, for she thought terribly hard of leaving her nicely-appointed and well-furnished home; she was in a state of nervous collapse, having four young children with her. Every care and attention was bestowed on herself and family during the journey down to Sandspruit railway siding, where the refugees were entrained for Volkrust. Before embarking, as a token of gratitude, this lady presented the writer with a book in remembrance of the Boer War and containing a flattering inscription. Her husband at this time was out on commando with the Ermelo contingent, and a prisoner informed us he was one of the most active and virulent members among the burgher forces, strenuously advising the Boers to hold out and keep on fighting, as the Lord was on their side and they were bound to win France was coming to their aid, then Germany, and next time Russia. England was bound to go under, and was just on the verge of ruin. With such like stories, he deliberately and wilfully misled his own flock of sheep, the majority of whom were sickened of holding out any longer. The prisoner naively remarked " I knew he was telling lies." Soon afterwards, anxious no doubt to know how his wife and family were faring, this bellicose parson surrendered; and he certainly would not have given one the impression of being a fighter by any means. He was withered, meek, and mild; the only martial implement he carried was his tongue, which weapon he could use with dexterity, and when occasion demanded he slung it round in the most reckless and furious manner imaginable. As a prisoner of war, he was the most humble of men, and he must have still felt more humble when he returned to his native dorp, after peace was declared, and found remaining only the foundations of his once beautiful home. "A sermon in stone " with a vengeance! "Sic transit gloria mundi." Having handed over the refugees, we returned to our field of labour on the veldt again. The weather had completely broken, and thunderstorms were of frequent occurrence, the black turf roads were in a frightfully spongy state, and everything was sodden and sticky; through it all we kept pegging away, and for one stretch of forty-eight hours had but very little time for cooking any food, for we were pushing on night and day as hard as ever we could. The crossing of the Assegai River greatly retarded our progress, as the river was running high and the drift was dangerous. The banks of the river were steep and slippery, and the greatest care had to be exercised in crossing. There were many narrow escapes from drowning through the horses being unable to hold a footing, for on entering the drift the animals slipped and fell in every conceivable way. Near the drift stood a fine house occupied by a German and his family of grown-up sons and daughters. In front of the house was a long verandah, which was completely shut in by a clustering vine which extended its branches from one end to the other. The whole place had the appearance of affluence and prosperity, and inside the house one glance was sufficient to convince one that this was not the abode of an ordinary Boer. The furniture and fittings were of superior manufacture, and the sitting-room was handsomely furnished and commodious, and in the centre stood an iron spiral staircase which comunicated with the rooms above. The old German and his two sons were out on commando in the neighbourhood. A superior looking old lady and her two daughters were the sole occupiers at the moment. It can well be imagined how hard they thought of packing up a few things and trekking along with the column. Tears did not avail, for the stern realities of warfare had to be faced. After they had been deported from the house, a thorough search was made, and a considerable quantity of Mauser ammunition was discovered, along with a home-made heliograph and various other articles of warfare. Among a miscellaneous collection a box of fireworks was found, consisting of rockets and squibs, which proved to be a source of amusement to the troops. The night being calm and dark, with a slight drizzly rain, the pyrotechnic display was conceded to have been a great success. Thirty miles away, the Boers were watching the rockets going up, and fully believed they were signals to another column.
In a wearied and bedrdggled state our column finally reached Marienthal, a Roman Catholic missionary station conducted by Germans for Kaffirs, where man and beast rested after many days of arduous labour. Two other columns joined us here, as progression was simply impossible. The heavy rains continuing night and day, the veldt was streaming with water in every direction. Marienthal is situate on the summit of a long, rolling, high hill, and consists of a church capable of holding about fifty adults, the priest's house with plenty of accommodation, and a few Kaffir shanties. A fine view is obtained of the surrounding mountainous countrv the veldt is rich and fertile, and good for sheep farming. An irreligious Kaffir boy belonging to the mission station remarked to us that after the war was over he intended going back to the Kaffir kraal, as religion was too strong for him. No matter, he asserted, how hard he worked and got a bit of money together, he could not keep it for long, as the missionary was continually after him for money or sheep. He could not get on, and he was tired of it, saw nothing in it, and was going to give it up.
At the expiration of several days, the weather moderated, and another start was made; our progress was seriously impeded by the spongy state of the veldt and the swollen condition of the many spruits and rivers to be forded. Several lives were lost, horse and rider being washed away with the current. A temporary bridge was constructed and thrown across the rapid Assegai Spruit, which would otherwise have been impassable. By this time ice had accumulated the vast number of over 6,000 men, women, and children refugees, and no time was lost in handing them over to the care of another column, who escorted them down to Volksrust. They were a serious tax on our commissariat resources, which were during this " e erratic and doubtful, as everything pended on the ox wagon transport being le to get through with our food supplies. it was, we were on short rations.
The Intombi River was flowing full and iftlv, from fifteen to twenty feet deep, d was of course impassable. In this emma the resourcefulness and ability civilian mechanical skill came to the ue. It must be remembered our men had no appliances to tackle such huge undertaking as throwing a bridge this river, over 200 feet broad. A distance from the opposite bank of river, another German missionary-- :ime Protestant-had comfortably :: ed himself in a house snugly among a grove of beautiful rZ- trees-a haven of peacefulness and -- In the words used at missionary :::z:-. this missionary had "success-laboured laboured in the mission field for over twenty years." As for converts, there were none visible, and neither were there any to be found in the neighbourhood. Fringeing this missionary's garden were a number of giant blue gum trees one of them must have been fully five feet in diameter at its base. These were attacked with hatchet and saw and soon felled to the ground, and transported to the river side, where two of the leviathans were stood upright in the middle of the river, forming the principal support of the bridge. We, for lack of other means, were compelled to adopt the primitive mode of fastening the trees together with rope and iron trek chains, but in a few days the bridge was an established fact, and was quite a masterpiece of rough and ready, yet solid and strong workmanship, reflecting the highest credit on the builders. Hundreds of men, animals, and wagons crossed over this bridge, and it stood all the strain with equanimity.
Two miles further on was yet another German missionary establishment this time again Roman Catholic with a rather pretentious-looking church, capable of holding at least one hundred adults, a large missionary's house, and a few Kaffir huts. This place is called Luneberg, and owing to the continuous rain we were compelled to camp here for fourteen days, near the junction of the Pongola and Intombi rivers, both of them in flood. Near the drift on the Intombi River is a small stone-walled enclosure, containing the graves of the men of the 24th Regiment who were assegaied by the Zulus during the Zulu War. Our camping ground was protected on the south by mountains and on all other sides by water. Up amongst the mountains a large com-mando were, like ourselves, weather bound. After a few days of half, and then quarter rations, our foodstuffs were finished. Foraging parties secured a supply of mealier, and the ration allowed was half-a-pound per man per day. The natives were allowed to secure what foeJ they could in the surrounding youn mealie fields. Sheep being plentiful, we had a good supply of fresh mutton, which in some measure made up for the scanty rations of mealier. Other columns, knowing our foodstuffs were exhausted, did their utmost to reach us with supplies; but without success. The roads everywhere were impassable nothing but water, water everywhere; and relief did not arrive until the weather cleared up, after a continual rain of fourteen days. An old Zulu witch doctor declared the rain would never stop so long as we remained in this place.
When duty permitted, a crowd used to foregather in the Kaffir Church and hold extempore entertainments, not necessarily of a particularly orthodox or sectarian character. At one end of the church was a gallery of large pretensions and small dimensions, with an excellent American organ placed in a prominent position in the most approved style. Facing the gallery stood the pulpit, a long piece of white calico trailing over the front, with hand-painted hieroglyphics thereon. A member of our column, who was possessed of oratorical powers of no mean order, generally ascended the pulpit by the popular vote of the audience. The earnestness, fluency, pathos, and verbosity of this man were at times quite affecting. He took as a text at one of these meetings
" Brethren, why do the nations war together P" and his handling of this subject was an intellectual curiosity, and was listened to with rapt attention and drew forth much applause. The capabilities of the organ were also taxed to the utmost, and as the singing reverberated through hill and dale the natives living near agreed it was the most beautiful music and singing they ever had heard. An old Kaffir remarked that he never thought that soldiers were so religious, but now he was convinced. Alas! poor organ, it went the way of all flesh; firewood was scarce, and the instrument had to go; as likewise had the pulpit, doors, and window-sills.
During our enforced stay here, the Boers were in a similar plight to ourselves and were unable to move owing to the flooded state of the country. Immediately the weather moderated, supplies were hurried on to us, and we started off again. A pontoon bridge was thrown across the Pongola River, and after our column had passed over, the old pont was sunk and the wires cut, thereby preventing any further crossing, the river being very high in flood. As we passed beneath the spur of a mountain, a few Boers kept sniping at us, until our pom-pom threw a few shells and silenced them.
We did not meet with any Boers again until we reached Paulpietersburg, and as we gained the ridge overlooking this insignificant dorp, nestling at the foot of a large sugar loaf mountain, our 4.7 gun, now rn the hands of Imperial Army gunners, opened fire all round the dorp, the big mountain coming in for a good share. Not a sound was heard save the bang of our guns and the shells scudding through the light morning air. We pitched camp within half-a-mile of the dorp, and the inhabitants, about two hundred in number, consisting of Jews, Germans, Hollanders, Boers, and retired missionaries, received notice to prepare for trekking. Paulpietersburg was the converging point for no less than six columns, representing close upon 10,000 men, our column being the first to arrive on the scene. The objective of the combined columns was Vryheid, and we marched along, column after column, with a space between each. Vryheid is situate in a long valley, with a population of about 500 mostly Dutch. The town is nicely laid out, and the streets planted with blue gum trees. The inhabitants of the dorp had a splendid panoramic view of one of the finest sights they probably ever witnessed as the columns appeared on the crest of the hill and slowly descended the steep decline leading into the town, accompanied by the bellowings of nearly 10,000 oxen and the neighing of a miscellaneous collection of horses. Thousands of sheep had to be left behind, as it was impossible to move them along fast enough to keep up with the columns. These live stock were the gross results of the peregrinations of the different columns.
At Vryheid the columns separated again, each one going its own way. Ours struck out in an easterly direction until we reached the great Inkomo Bush Veldt, where we formed camp on a high knoll. Entrenchments were thrown up all round and pom-poms, maxims, and 12-pounders were placed in position at different points while our 4.7 gun was placed in a sod-built fort on the apex, and sharp outlooks were posted. Two Kaffir runners came in with the news that the Boers were going to make an attack on the camp, as they could plainly see there were not many men to hold it all the mounted men having disappeared, and only a small body of infantry being left. If they had made an attack, a very warm reception awaited them, as the dispositions of our men,were excellent, and special marksmen were posted in the most likely places of attack. Altogether our position was a strong one, the only jarring element being the excitability of a major of infantry, who had been placed in temporary command.
The Boers were under the impression that the mounted men had returned to Vryheid during the night, but, instead of that route being taken, quite another one was followed. The mounted men, numbering some 1,500, under the command of General Dartnell, quietly left camp after dusk, when their movements could not be observed, and doubled back on the road we had come for some short distance, and then swerved off to the right, amongst a mass of hills, where late in the evening a halt was called in a small valley at the foot of a mountain. Here we rested for a few hours, and were off again long before daylight set in. We were making a flank movement in order to circumvent"a strong commando, and close upon sundown we overtook the Boer transport wagons, of which we burnt and destroyed between forty and fifty. The Boers guarding the wagons were not many, and being taken by surprise, they decamped, leaving the wagons to their fate. The main body of the commando had gone elsewhere, and we did not get in touch with them. Having returned camp, we rested for a day, as the horses re completely exhausted by the heavy in put upon them.
In easy stages we returned to Vryheid, with odd sniping on the road, which did seriously interfere with progress. The country was very hilly and mountainous. and in a distance of fifteen miles grossed no less than fourteen spruits streams, and gangs of Kaffirs were kept repairing the drifts and washaways _-= the transport could cross over. roads were in a wretched condition, take with us the 4.7 gun, mounted its carriage, weighing five tons, and by twenty-four oxen, was indeed mmple task to perform over this rough One of these spruits was so ~, c that the carriage of the gun sank Rf sight. and it required the combined rs of forty-two oxen in front and 100 ---7-If en-50 on each side-with a long rope attached to the nave of each wheel, to pull the gun out of the slough, in which the carriage was firmly embedded. We passed through Vryheid, over Scheepers.Nek, and on to the Blood River, which is crossed by a handsome iron bridge. The river is named after a fearful massacre of men, women, and children by the Zulus, in the early days of the Voortrekkers. On through Utrecht, we arrived at Newcastle and rested for three days, and renewed our journey over some of the old fighting ground Ingogo, Laings Nek, Majuba, and Charlestown finally reaching Volksrust, which several other columns also made their rendezvous before starting out afresh. Here our column was broken up, and the different units were attached to others which were being reconstructed.
The writer was ordered to Pretoria, and after a short stay there received orders to proceed to Heilbron, in the Orange River Colony, which place was made the base of operations against De Wet, who was the cause of prolonging the misery and discomforts of the war to no purpose. In concluding, the writer must add his appreciation to the cool determination and tenacious courage of the British soldiers qualities which none can deny them. He must also acknowledge a debt of gratitude he owes to the noble animal that carried him throughout the war with sagacity and loyalty.
As a rule, wars originate not from a dispute as to any principle at stake, but from racial or religious prejudice, personal or party ambition, hunger for territory, or false antagonism labelled patriotism. An army is of necessity a despotic unit, and amidst the scenes of military operations men lose their individuality and become automatic units of the whole. Among war's lessons are vicariousness and race solidarity. In the broader study of human evolution, war is only incidental and educational. Every action contains an element of reaction. War, therefore, while ideally bad is provisionally good. Underlying the many points of view of war is the evolutionary significance. War is the necessary accompaniment of materialism, and will survive only as long as materialism needs a testing ground.
R. E. HENRY.