Under The Union Jack, No. 2, Vol. 1, November 18th 1899

Nov. 18,1899.] THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA. 27 BATTLING FOR EMPIRE. HOW WE STAND AT LADYSMITH. THERE is the best reason to believe that General Joubert h:is got a hard nut to crack at Ladysmith. Sir George White is cutoff by a military investment, but his bonds are not so tight that lie cannot send us pigeon messages telling us of his activity, and“ Kaffirgrams ”have come through with very stirring stories of what has been achieved. The Boer forces when they made a frontal attack on Lady­ smith were in overwhelming numbers abut military body is like apiece of elastic— the more it is stretched the thinner it becomes. And so, when Joubert stretched his ranks round Ladysmith, he left weak spots which we are surely discovering. He has got his position guns advantageously placed, with “Long Tom ”prominent among them, and all his guns seem to be well handled, presumably by German gunners but so far he has done little damage. It is the nature of bombard­ments to cause indiscriminate injury, sometimes of a serious nature, but more often of an inconsiderable character and they are chiefly invaluable striking moral terror into a beleaguered garrison. But the tough soldiers of General White are not the men to be cowed by the bursting of incidental shells, though these— according to Mr. Barnard, of the Railway Hotel, Ladysmith, who passed through the Boer lines to Estcourt— seem not to have been without effect upon the hotel proprietors and waiters of the place. “Long Tom,” he said, was avery annoying neighbour. Recent events seem to show, however, that our naval guns are equal to this formidable monster, and nothing better could be wished than that all the heavy ordnance from Pretoria and Johannesburg should be dragged out to Ladysmith and our other beleaguered garrisons. Let the Boers lay down concrete platforms at these places, and make secure mountings for their heavy guns. By the time that work is completed Sir Redvers Buller should be in a position to send up relieving columns. Thus, with 10,000 strongmen in Ladysmith, and a force of 6,000 or 7,000 men marching up from Estcourt, the Boers would either be caught between two fires, or otherwise their investment would be broken through, and there would be strength enough to bring on a general action, and to capture or destroy these redoubtable pieces. Indeed, from this point of view Ladysmith may perhaps become a trap for denuding Pretoria of some of its defences, and so, when we proceed to dictate terms of peace at the Transvaal capital, our difficulties may bethe fewer. Kept on the Ale r t.At least it is very clear that General Joubert will not be able to take the offensive, unless byway of demonstration. He is kept well 011 the alert. Very dramatic accounts reached Estcourt last week of the lighting on Thursday and Friday, November 2nd and 3rd. On the former day the Free State Boers near Tatham’s Farm, on the Besters side of Lady­ smith, were caught in the open aground, situation in which they are never willing to fight, and they hoisted the white flag. Our men advanced to receive their surrender without firing, when, at short range, the enemy fired a volley at them. Exasperated by such dastardly treachery, the Lancers, Hussars, and Dragoons, followed by the infantry with fixed bayonets, charged through and through them, doing great execution. Sir George White has since given an official account of like treachery 011 the par.t of the Boers. We know more of General Brocklelnirst’s reconnaissance in force on the^next day, and with greater certitude. It was intended to probe the Boer position at Grobler’s Kloof between Ladysmith and Colenso. The enemy was taken in part unaware, for the infantry crept up unseen, while the cavalry skirted the hill. The Kaffir eye-witness says the“ men-women,” by which he probably meant the gallant kilted Gordons, did terrible execution with the bayonet, while the cavalry played havoc with the fugitives. According to the natives, the slaughter was terrible, and the British went through the Boers “like water.” Colenso had been evacuated 011 the previous night. The Natal Volunteers were holding Fort Molineux at the time, and were hard pressed by the enemy abut detachment of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers came to their rescue, and they got away. One of their number, a well- known member of the Durban Swimming Club, escaped from the thick of the fight only by plunging, amid a shower of bullets, into the river Tulega and swimming to the other side, where he landed unscathed. Great credit was due to the efficient help of the Fusiliers but so long as the Empire lasts let it be remembered that in the war, as always, Natal and her gallant sons have suffered much, and dared much, in their loyalty. Many good soldiers of Natal are now in the field, and another corp a thousand strong is being organised at Durban. Certainly, when the day of reckoning comes with Oom Paul Natal must have her reward. The remark made above, that Joubert’s line round Lady­ smith is thin, is particularly true of the district to the south. There are rumours that the Borderers and other troops are about to move out from Estcourt, and the occupation of Colenso, under the threat, seems not to be in force. The armoured train, at any rate, was able, after the retirement, to make a splendid dash through to Colenso, the Dublins driving off the enemy with a well-directed fire. When it was seen that they were in full retreat a cautious advance was made, and the troops entered Fort Wylie, and brought back four waggon-loads of shell, provisions, and stores. It is impossible hereto record all the gallant deeds that have glorified the defence of Ladysmith and the fighting thereabout, but the effect upon the enemy has evidently been great. He now knows that he has a determined foe, whose advance is hard to withstand, and that is valuable for our campaign now about to begin in earnest. The Coming Blow. The time is not far distant when the Boers will be swept out of our South African dominions, although President Kruger is said by some still to smoke contentedly on the“ stoep” of his house at Pretoria. The time will come when the place will be battered about his ears— unless he should think better of his threat to “stagger humanity ”and should hoist the white flag— for our gunners are already preparing a siege train of 6in., 5m., and 4m. howitzers, with travelling carriages, and nearly a hundred carts and waggons, to carry about 15,000 rounds of shell and 25,000 rounds of small-arm ammunition to South Africa. The Eoslin Castle, conveying Major-General Hildyard and his staff, with the 2nd West Yorkshires and some details of other corps, was the first transport carrying troops of the Army Corps from England to arrive, and she has been followed by several more, so that there is now an accession of strength that will enable us to resume active operations as soon as the troops can move. Within a month we mobilised 53,000 men, and we have had at onetime about 45,000 men afloat. This is a thing to make Englishmen proud of their country and of themselves. And now another division is getting ready, and a whole Army Corps can be mobilised if need Abe. composite (Continued on page 3 5 .)CONTAINS PICTURES FROM THE TRANSVAAL.
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