Under The Union Jack, No. 8, Vol. 1, December 30th 1899

17 *?UNDER THE UNION JACK. [Dec. 30,1899. The Position on the Orange River. After the repulse of General Gatacre’s attack on Storm- berg, the troops were brought back to Sterkstroom, and there has been a cessation of activity apparently on both sides. General French has established himself at Arundel, near which place the Boers appear to be inconsiderable strength. The Inniskilling Dragoons, the New South Wales Lancers, and the New Zealanders have been doing excellent work, and there has been a good deal of desultory fighting without very much result. M afeking. Colonel Baden-Powell has again been dealing heavy blows at the troops of General Snyman, who replaced Cronje at Mafeking. The Boers say that he has advised them togo home, and offered them protection when England overtakes the Transvaal. They certainly seem to have lost heart for the attack, and to be disposed to resort to waiting tactics, in the hope that hunger, thirst, and bombardment may cause the intrepid garrison to surrender. But Colonel Baden- Powell is not the man to surrender so long ashe can feed his troops, and he is able from time to time to acton the offensive, and to push forward trenches to compel his assailants to abandon those which they have dug. On December 3rd he attacked the Boers, and inflicted some loss upon them, causing them to evacuate strong and com­manding fortifications on the north-west side of the town. At that date he was pushing them back by advancing his military works towards their main siege battery. Reinforcements for the Field. The misfortunes of a great nation are the measure of its power, and are certainly not without their advantages. Our triple reverse has called forth all the best qualities of the country, and from every part of the Empire good men are hastening together. Never within the memory of the younger generation has such a wave of patriotic enthusiasm passed over England, and the Government finds an inspiring answer to its call. Here is a lesson lor foreigners. They have pictured us as at the end of our resources, and, lo!we are only at the beginning. The flood of the Empire’s manhood has broken the barrier, and will soon overspread every scene of the war. With Lord Roberts— the famous “Bobs ”of the soldier— to direct the stream, and with him the victor of Mahdism, and that fine soldier— notwithstanding that first failure —Sir Redvers Buller, commanding in Natal, victory is of course assured. Of that there can be no manner of doubt. No military organisation in Europe is adapted for the special work of infighting South Africa, and. none so nearly approaches the standard as our own. But even our splendid troops are not insufficient themselves. They need the particular qualities found in our colonial brothers to pursue the special tactics of the Boers and they now find the enthusiasm of the nation linked with their own. So splendid a thing has never happened for the Army and the Auxiliary Forces. Now, at last, they are bound together, and the result will be new strength for both. A difficulty presented itself to the Government. It was that of choice. The Department, as soon as the official notification was made, was inundated with offers by commanding officers to place the entire strength of their regiments, or some part of it, at the disposal of the War Office. Lord Chesham offered the Bucks Yeomanry, and some other Yeomanry regiments followed the example. The Honourable Artillery Company was at once engrossed in considering the applications of those who wished togo out. Almost immediately over 400 members of the 14th Middlesex (Inns of Court) Volunteers offered their services, which was the more remarkable as the corps consists of barristers and solicitors engaged in the daily practice of their profession. In every part of the country the same spirit was manifested, and there was not a district of England from which a quick response was not made. Before these lines appear the spirit will have been made still more manifest, and there is the encouraging evidence that English­men will certainly not fail, and that they are ready to serve either actively against the enemy orin the useful work of garrison duty. But the Government wisely proceeded carefully. It was necessary to send out well-selected men to South Africa, and to organise them carefully, and the plan devised is excellent. The “Imperial Yeomanry” are being enlisted and formed much upon the lines of some of the colonial corps. The force will probably number about 3,000, and is being recruited from the Yeomanry Cavalry, though civilians who possess the requisite qualities will not be excluded. The corps will thus have something of the qualities of the American Corps of Rough Riders raised in America during the war with Spain, but will have the advantage that by far the greater portion of its men will have military experience, and will know well the scouting and reconnaissance work of cavalry. The force is being organised in companies of 115 rank and file, with a captain and four subalterns, chosen preferably from the Yeomanry. The Imperial Yeomanry bring their own horses, saddlery, and accoutrements, but receive a capitation grant for them. Very wisely, indeed, no exact uniformity is enforced in the clothing. The requirement is a Norfolk jacket of woollen, neutral in colour, breeches and gaiters, lace boots and felt hats, and the men are to be between twenty and thirty-five years of age. Better qualifications could not exist than those which will be found in these men. Then the Volunteers are being used on a system not less excellent. The organisation of the existing units will not be broken up, while the regular forces will be strengthened. Each Line battalion orin about to proceed to South Africa will receive one Volunteer company, numbering n o rank and file, with a captain and three subalterns, drawn from the Volunteer battalions which are attached to it territorially. Here the territorial system is at last playing a promi­nent part. The men are to be selected by their own commanding officers, and the companies, as a general rule— the companies formed for the field— will take the place of the regimental company which is serving as mounted infantry. The Volunteer battalions are also to form waiting companies to be ready, but held in reserve, at home. doNor the proposals of the Government end here. Already many battalions of Militia have volunteered for foreign service, and the “old constitutional force ”is to be further utilised. Englishmen cannot but love the Militia. It is the living embodiment of their old enthusiasm, and, though it is now a volunteer force essentially, it still represents our nearest approach to conscription. For the old law of the Militia ballot is still operative, and at need the Government could call upon the local authorities to ballot men into the force. Nothing is more surprising than the great use which we do make of the Militia. Officers pass to the Line through it, and sometimes fully one-third of its men, and yet it is still recruited and still efficient, and now ready togo out for service door its devoir wherever it may. Thus in all our Auxiliary and Militia forces we have an ample reserve of strength, from which good men maybe drawn for the great necessity. To us this has been well known, and, while foreigners have marvelled that we showed no sign of panic, we have had a calm sense of security and the full confidence that we should yet impose the Pax Britannica upon South Africa. The photographs used are owned by Messrs. Bradley, Crockett, Cnminings, Elliott and Fry, Ellis, Eradelle and Young, Gregory and Co. (London), Guthrie. Kniglit, Nieholls, Ridley, Russell, Scliwake, Sharpe, Taylor, Thomson, Tricker, Wilson (Aberdeen), Winter, and Yeo. THE “NAVY AND ARMY ILLUSTRATED” CHRISTMA >NUMBER IS NOW READY.
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