The Boer War diary of Colour Sgt John Thomas Pegum, 1st Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales Volunteers)

-4- We learned that our Division was to relieve Ladysmith. We got orders to take no notice of white flags or false words of commands or Bugle calls. We moved out on the 16th. January to flank the enemy left. This was about 6.30 p.m. making a night march we left our camp untouched so as to deceive the enemy. We marched till 2.30 next morning. We had then a little sleep on the grass and breakfast. Then the Divn. advanced towards the upper Tugela River. This time we fully expected to meet the enemy. We formed for attack. The enemy occupied hills some good distance off. Our artillery were first to fire. They got no reply. Our troops advanced under the artillery fire till they reached the river. The Engineers threw abridge across and soon our troops crossed the bridge. Whilst our troops were busy bridging our troops consisting of Engineers and Devon Regt. the Boers fired a volley killing one of the Devons and wounding two. My Company was detached to remain at this side of the river to assist to get the transport across during the day. Several accidents occurred. Two mules fell over the bridge and was drowned. About 8.30 p.m. we received an order to join our Regiment. We got about half-way and owing to darkness we could not find the Regt. so we lay down on the grass near a farm for the remainder of the night. I forgot to mention that the first tonight Tugela River we had a stampede. What was the cause of it is unknown. The Division seemed to spring up in a fright and commenced to rush about like madmen. Some men fixed bayonets. I think the noise from the Kaffirs and mules would cause this as the men were very tired and asleep. (Since learned it was three mules). I was sleeping with my hip on my haversack so as to keep me off the wet grass. The Boers have been very busy making intrenches their position on very high hills. Our artillery having seen them fired on them and put them out of their trenches. The 18th.of January General Warren was pleased at his success in crossing the Tugela River ashe fully expected to lose a lot of troops there.On the 19th we moved out on the enemy left not advancing as they thought we would. We formed for an attack we came within the enemy our artillery commencing on their left. My Regt. came under fire one man being wounded and two of the 13th. Hussars. I don't know anything of the enemy casualties. It has been a game of hide and seek. We are looking very black going days without awash and again lay down for the night without great-coats. It is very hot here during the day and at night it is very cold. We have not up to now (four days) had our boots off. Next day being Saturday the 20th January 1900 a good battle was fought near Acty Home. We went out in the morning about 3 a.m. to attack the enemy with fixed bayonets. We went to the hill that the Boers occupied the previous night but the enemy had gone to their left. We might have gone past them but Major Lamb caught sight of them so we halted and changed front. By this time it was daylight. We at once got undercover. About 5 a.m.our artillery opened fire but the Boers kept silent for about two hours. At their old
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