Feb. i 6 igoo. Cronjes Retreat. 363 operation effected that no sign of the Boer retreat was detected by Lord M ethuen's Division closely watching the enem y's trenches till the bird had flown. But as the day wore on the scouts and pickets noted that thc place look deserted and that there seemed to be no one about. They pushed carefully in examined the works more closely and as no shots were fired at them grew in audacity. Finally they entered the trenches and brought Lord Methuen word that the position had been abandoned. Heat once advanced to Magersfontein with his division and thus without striking a blow or firing a shot opened the way from the south to Kimberley. The state of the Boer trenches gave clear evidence of the haste with which the enemy had retreated. Mr. Ralph who examined them gives this interesting description :—“The Boers had gone away in such a hurry that they had no time to take their belongings with them. Evidently the order was ‘everyman for himself and no time must be lost. Consequently the position was littered with trunks saddles tin boxes bags of mealies of mealie flour and of rice. Cartridges were Photo by Ilaiicox Kimberley. GENERAL FRENCH S TROOPS BIVOUACKING IN THE BOER LAAGER OUTSIDE KIMBERLEY .as thickly strewn about as if they were as cheap as dead leaves in autumn. Blankets and clothing were also much in evidence. In places the frightened Boers had made an effort to hide their leavings by piling them in the trenches and then throwing skins or canvas over them and dirt and tree branches on top of all. In their trunks we found usually only clothing and letters. Much that they had been using was of British make largely taken from the British dead. Dozens and dozens of bullock hides were in use therefor shelters and for coverings. These had been taken fresh from the backs of thc cattle and the sun was making them fizzle and bubble frying the fat and tissue on the underside of each so that they exhaled a nauseating stench. But this formed the least part of the effluvia. A plague of flies helped to make the pest spot still more unendurable. From every shelter and pole and bush hung strips of biltong (jerked beef or venison) for they had not dared to stop even long enough to takeaway this main staff of their lives.”T o the north of Kimberley a considerable force of Boers with the great gun from Kam fers Dam ,was in full retreat though much troubled by the unwieldiness of this weapon. Anxious if possible to capture it General French had started out at 3.30 a.m .of the 16th with all ^hei^big^un °available men and guns. His horses were in such a state that rapid movement was out of the question. He rode due north followed by the infantry in the town who came on by rail and got as far Mas acfarlanes Siding two stations north. Continual skirmishing with the Boer rearguard was the chief feature of the day and the cavalry engaged suffered some casualties about a dozen men being killed or wounded. The horses were too outworn to get near the big gun and the Boers succeeded in carrying it off but they had to abandon
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