Under The Union Jack, No. 7, Vol. 1, December 23rd 1899

UNDER THE UNION JACK. [Dec. 23,1899, On December 8th, a completely successful reconnaissance was made along the railway, though the enemy was found in an impregnable position to the number of some thousands, with a H otchkiss gun and 12-pounders. The troops suffered no casualties, and returned to Arundel, having sufficiently probed the position. On this occasion the New Zealanders were inaction, apparently for the first time. Lord M e thu en’s Advance. Enough was said last week of the battles which marked the fighting march of Lord M ethuen from the Orange River to theM odder. Since that time a further action has taken place, but has proved unfavourable to armour s,in that we attacked and fell back, having lost heavily, and with General W auchope, a good and valuable officer, commanding the Highland Brigade, among the dead. The Boers, to the number of more than 12,000, though their strength seem snot to have been known at the time of the attack, were entrenched 011 theM agersfontein Hills, north of theM odder River. I fie y were shelled from four o’clock until dusk on Sunday, December 10th, and at day­break on Monday the south end of the long, high kopje was attacked by the Highland Brigade, which was met by a deadly fire and obliged to fallback, while the Gordons went to its support. The Guards were protecting the right and rear of the Highlanders, and developing an attack on the enem y’s centre, while the cavalry, mounted infantry, and howitzers were on the left. On Tuesday Lord Methuen was holding his positions and entrenching himself, but we were unable to make any impression on the enem y’s position, and were finally obliged to fallback upon theM odder. This misfortune, although it is not a defeat, is the most serious event that has yet happened in the course of the cam­paign. Not only has that gallant officer General W auchope —one of “the bravest of the brave ”—fallen at the head of the Highland Brigade, but with him are dead about ten other officers of his force, including Lieutenant-Colonel Coode, commanding the 2nd Battalion of the Black Watch. In all the Brigade has lost, killed, wounded, and missing, over 700 officers and men, and when the Black Watch mustered after the catastrophe, the battalion could number only 160 men. But the tale of loss is not yet all told. There were casualties among the Gordon Highlanders, who went to the support of their comrades, and in the Brigade of Guard sand several regi­ments, upbringing the total list of casualties to considerably over 800. The Marquis of Winchester, major of the 2nd Coldstream s,is among the dead, and Lieutenant-Colonel Cod- rington, commanding the 1st Coldstream s,is wounded, with four other officers of the famous battalion. T h isis a gloomy story of misfortune, all the darker when we know how the gallant men met their fate. It was after along night march, through drenching rain, that the Highlanders were led by the guides within short range of the enemy’ s trenches, from which, while they were still marching in quarter column, a deadly fire was opened upon them. Hundreds of them fell dead or wounded where they stood, and all the efforts of the troops and the guns did not avail to retrieve the misfortune of the day. But the sons of E m p ire will gather with greater strength to crush the rebellious Boer. The decision tom obilise a Seventh Division came promptly upon the news of the disastrous repulse, and the response of the country and the colonies will not be tardy. While men can fight as these men have fought in South Africa, we need never fear that there will be any lack of others to take their place. An excellent man has been chosen to succeed General W auchope in command of the Highland Brigade in the person of Brigadier-General Hector M acdonald, whose good and gallant service has won for him the sobriquet of “Fighting M ac.”He leaves the command at Sirhind for the Cape, and will be accompanied by B rigadier-G eneral Tucker, from Secunder­ abad, who is also to have a command. Meanwhile, there seems to be no real danger of any misfortune at Kimberley itself. Colonel Cham ier made a successful reconnaissance and an arm oured train was inaction on December 8th. Communication has been opened between the forces in the town and those advancing for their relief by means of the flashing search-light, and Kimberley has given evidence of much ability to take care of itself. A forMs afeking, there is little reason to fear, though the place is making preparations to withstand along siege, and rations are accordingly being reduced. Moreover, the attack has lost a good deal of its force, since the assailants were reduced in number in order to strengthen the position outside Kim­berley. Relief is coming, apparently, from an unexpected quarter, for a mysterious force is marching southward from Rhodesia, with arm oured trains, which are repairing the railway as they come, and G aberones has already been occupied. With Colonel Baden wo-P ell in the place, and this unexpected force outside, there should be no danger for the town, which has held out so gallantly and so long. It may perhaps yet be asked why any force was established thereat all !The Relief of Lad ysm ith .It has seemed to those eagerly watching the progress of events that Sir Red vers B u lle r’s movements have been slow. But this would be avery imperfect appreciation of the serious work which the Comm ander-in-Chief in South Africa has in hand in Natal. H e has, under his orders, at least 25,000 men, and there are 10,000 more in Lady smith itself, so that the opportunity arises of dealing a disastrous blow at the Boers in this quarter. Sir Red vers B u lle r is not the man to lose any opportunities nor to do anything rash, and we maybe quite sure that he will bring about combinations by which the Boers, in all probability, will be involved in such a manner that large numbers of prisoners may fall into our hands, with every big siege gun which has been brought up for the bombardment of Lad ysm ith ,and that has not been already destroyed in the sorties of the gallant garrison. A t the present moment, so far as the movements are unveiled, we know that Sir R edvers B u ller has established his headquarters Fat rere, and that he has cleared the whole upcountry to the T ugela. The Fusilier Brigade and the guns were the first strong body advanced towards Colenso. The cavalry under Lord Dundonald have been doing very good work in sweeping away the flying parties of Boers, and in discovering the exact situation of affairs. Most encouraging news lias reached 11s from Ladysm ith itself. L a teat night 011 December 8th General Hunter made that brilliant sortie which was described last week. A similar brilliant episode took place on the night of December 10th, when Lieutenant-Colonel M etcalfe with 500 men of the 2nd R ifie Brigade made a sortie to capture Surprise Hill, where they blew up another 4*7 howitzer. Lieutenant D igby Jones, R.E .,was the officer who succeeded in this difficult operation. When our men marched back they found the way barred by the Boers, but they forced the road with the bayonet, and the brilliant and successful episode ended with little loss to us. General Barton ,who is in command of the advanced portion' of Sir Red vers B u lle r’s force in Natal, has com­menced shelling the Boer position at Colenso, according to news received as we togo press. The great battle in Natal is therefore imminent, and the railway and military roads have been completed for the advance. Vast preparations have been made to bring about a decisive operation, and English people are eager for tidings of victory. Much maybe expected from Sir Red vers B uller. The photographs used are owned by Messrs. Bourne and Shepherd, Bradley, Cummings, Ellis, Fuller, Fyne, Green, Gregory and Co. (London), Guthrie, Hands, Horsburgh, Knight, Mowlam, Nicholls, Roclie, Schwake, and Temple. THE CHRISTMAS NUMBER “NAVY AND ARMY ILLUSTRATED,” ONE SHILLING.
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