Under The Union Jack, No. 1, Vol. 1, November 11th 1899

Nov. 11,1899.] THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA. BATTLING FOR EMPIRE. HOW WE STAND IN SOUTH AFRICA THE war in South Africa is certainly the most important business Englishmen have been engaged in since the Indian Mutiny. Then we stood to lose India now we are fighting to hold South Africa, and, as Lord Rosebery said at Edinburgh, we have “got to seethe thing through.” That we shall be victorious in the end no Englishman doubts. W e have shed gallant blood officers and men have vied with one another in devotion to the Empire they have stormed positions almost impregnable they have stood out against outnumbering foes they have shown, as Napier said, “with what strength and majesty the British soldier fights” and some of them have surrendered, after spending their last cartridge, only when resistance would have been folly. Not everything has gone as we should have wished. There have been mistakes, and we have lost precious lives. W e shall lose more before we win our way. W e shall perhaps spend millions we do not dream of now. W e are onlooking at a tremendous drama that will group largely in the story of our imperial expansion. This is no “small war ”such as we have waged on the Indian Frontier and on the West Coast of Africa. It is the pulse of empire that is beating, and the future that beckons us forward. Such things are not to be underrated, for we are the heirs of our history, and it is the past that points the way. The hatred that we inspire abroad is no testimony to the discernment of foreigners, for wherever we have gone it has been to open a door for themas well as for ourselves. W e have encountered many foes in our national and imperial growth. W e broke the monopolies of Spain we tore asunder the restrictive bonds of the Dutch we laid low the ambitious schemes of France. It is such a task that awaits us now. Let us respect our brave enemies, who have shown personal courage and military capacity well worthy to be matched with our own but let us not forget that the selfish oligarchy under which they dwell represents the spirit of monopoly, and the sub­jection of our race. They began by trekking away from the Cape Colony because they cherished the right to enslave in their heroic fighting with the Matabele and the Zulu they were struggling to setup a state that was to become a menace to the unity of South Africa. The manner in which they have treated the Uitlander is monstrous in its injustice the administration of their government is scandalously corrupt and they ended by flouting us with an insolent ultimatum. The misfortune is that the Boers have learned to despise us. In their selfish arrogance they express contempt for the Englishman, and the doctrine of Boer invincibility is preached aloud. Our foolish magnanimity in the hour of our reverse was lost upon them. They could not value the motives that inspired us, and, when we gave them independence under our suzerainty, they ascribed our generosity to pusillanimity and our retirement to fear. It is this we have set about to reverse we are afield to vindicate our paramountcy, and there can never again abe parallel to Majuba Hill. What Preceded the League r of Lady smith .At the present time the eyes of Englishmen are rivetted upon the events that are happening at Ladysmith, where our forces are invested by the Transvaal and Free State Boers in great numerical superiority. When Brigadier-General Yule marched into Ladysmith with the column which had evacuated Dundee, die first chapter of the war ended, and when the Boers cut the communications of Ladysmith, the second maybe said to have come to a close. Let us look into these chapters, “TO SEETHE THING THROUGH.” as well as into that of the events on the Western Frontier, in order to understand how the present condition of affairs came to be. There is in these events as much of heroism, determination, and disciplined bravery as you will find any­ wherein English history. In the middle of last August we had in South Africa two cavalry regiments, one mountain and three field batteries, and six and a-half battalions of infantry, of which all abut battalion and a-half were in Natal but the breach with the Boers was foreseen, and successive reinforcements were sent out, so that by the end of October we had about 22,000 troops in South Africa, exclusive of colonial forces, of which by far the larger part were with Sir George White in Natal. Meanwhile the first Army Corps has been mobilised, and its troops arc beginning now to arrive, while Sir Redvers Buller, who is in chief command, has laid all his plans 011 the spot. The Boers never believed that there was any other way of settling the matter except by war, and they accordingly made full preparations. No sooner was Mr. Chamberlain’s despatch received than they began in earnest. The burghers were mustered, the field cornets’ offices were opened for the distribution of Mausers, the State Artillery was putin motion, and very soon the drafting of men to the front began. Most of the burghers are accustomed to outdoor life and to roughing it, and, as they know every inch of the country well, their transport arrangements were com­paratively few. They are men who can sit in the saddle all day and sleep on the open veldt all night, and they carry tied to their saddles provisions that will last them a week. There is nothing of tapered about their system of mobilisation. Just as the commandos are raised, after the manner of a militia, so are horses, mules, carts, saddlery, and provision stores “commandeered,” or seized, for the service. Rarely has there been quite so wonderful an army as that we are engaged with— long-bearded farmers, boys fresh from school, members of the Raad, Government clerks, lawyers, shopkeepers, all swept into the field cornets’ nets, with the veteran Commandant-General Joubert to direct the whole. The Western F ron tier .The position of the two Republics gave them what appeared to bethe strategic advantage known to soldiers as that of operating on “interior lines” they could strike onus one side or the other, menacing at once the Western Frontier and Natal, while they began an invasion of Cape Colony from across the Orange River as well. As we now know, they have elected to stake their main chance 011 their aggressive inaction Natal. But the war began with the destruction of the armoured train on the Kimberley and Mafeking railway at Kraaipan. It was an extremely interesting example of the method of warfare in which the Boers are past masters. The Cape and Bulawayo railway is flanked for avery long distance by the frontiers of the Transvaal and the Free State, and it was an easy thing for a raiding party to tear up the rails, which 'they did north of Maribogo station. The “Mosquito” armoured train, under command of Lieutenant Nesbitt, was proceeding towards Mafeking on October 12th, with two 7-pounders and ammuni­tion for Colonel Baden-Powell, and, though the gallant young officer learned that the Boers were in force, he determined to proceed, in view of the importance of his task. Nothing would dissuade him. It was agreed that Flowerday, the driver, should go ahead with the ammunition, the train pro­ceeding carefully, but it left the rails owing to the damage done. Time pressed, for the Boers were hovering near but
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