Black and White Budget, No. 25, Vol. II, March 31st 1900

March 31,1900 BLACK AND WHITE BUDGEj NOW WE AWAIT LITTLE The week following the occupation of Bloem­fontein has not seen any events of signal import­ ance,but it has been a period o f great activity and of concentration for the next phase of the cam­paign. Anxiety was felt early in the week for the fate of Mafeking. Its straits at onetime seemed to be desperate, but soon confident messages began to come through. Colonel Plumer got steadily nearer on the North, and General Methuen advanced from the South. An exciting race took place to relieve the plucky little garrison, and to remove the one anxiety which still weighed on the watchers at home. It is not yet over, as far as we know. But any day now may come the good news that“ B.-P.” and his gallant garrison are shaking hands with their relievers ,and, whether they come from the North or from the South, we maybe sure that they will be equally welcome. The Boers seem to have made some attempt to check General Methuen at Fourteen Streams near Warrenton— a place which gets its name, by the way, from Sir Charles Warren— but the gallantry of the Diamond Fields Horse, who were under fire for fourteen hours, forced them to retire. Forty-five miles of the road toM afe­ king were thus cleared of the enemy. A battery of the Royal Artillery did splendid work in shelling the Boers out of their positions. Lord Kitchener has been busy during this week in suppressing the rebellion of Cape Colonists in the West. From a military point of view, the affair was not a serious one. The rebels had no guns, and were badly armed. Very little opposition seems to have been offered to Lord Kitchener, who made a successful entry into Prieska, driving away or taking captive the Transvaalers who were helping the insurgents. There will not be many more such attempts. The clearing of the Boers from the North of Cape Colony and the South of the Orange Free State has been satisfactorily carried on, and has been accompanied by two acts of conspicuous gallantry, which should be placed on record. These were concerned with the saving of Bethulie Bridge, which crosses the Orange River between the Colony and the Free State. The Boers were determined to destroy the bridge, and made every effort soto do. Elabo­rate mines were laid, but they were rendered useless by the courageous behaviour of Lieu­tenant Popham, of the Derbyshires. This gallant officer, undercover of our guns, managed to cross the bridge unobserved by the enemy, and cut the connecting wires for firing the mines. This saved the bridge from immediate destruction, but all through the day the Derby­ shires had to hold the bridge against fierce attacks from the desperate Boers. When even­ing fell another officer, Captain Grant, of the Royal Engineers, emulated the brilliant deed of Lieutenant Popham. He succeeded undercover of darkness in taking the charges of dynamite out of the borings prepared by the enemy, and dropped them into the river. Again did he cut all the wires, and the bridge was saved. Soon afterwards the Boers were in full retreat north­wards. This skilful operation gave us the command of three passages over the Orange River. General Brabant held a position on the north bank at Aliwal North General Clements crossed some miles north of Van Z yl Siding, and General Gatacre held Bethulie. While these Generals worked northwards, General Pole-Carew worked south from Bloemfontein, and the railway from Bloemfontein to the Cape was speedily secured. Sir Alfred Milner is with Lord Roberts at Bloemfontein, discussing the policy oT the Orange Free State. When that is settled there will be no delay in the march northwards. O f General Buller at Ladysm ith we hear little, but we maybe sure he has much to do, both in taking measures for the health of the troops and of those left at Ladysm ith, and in preparing to co-operate in the great move towards the Trans­vaal, for which we are all now waiting. For this move everything seems now in readi­ness. With Mafeking relieved (or about to be relieved), rebellion putdown in Cape Colon}-, the Free State practically in the hands of Lord Roberts, and entrusted to remain there, and General Buller’s men rested from their magnifi­cent operations in Natal, the prospect is an easy one. Whether it will be on May 15th. as Lord W olseley predicts, that the British flag will be overflying Pretoria or not, we maybe pretty confident that the time is not far distant. We arc now on the road to Pretoria. May the journey abe successful one and a speed)'!
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