Under the Union Jack, No. 10, Vol. 1, January 13th 1900

220 UNDER THE UNION JACK. [Jan. 13.1900. The Western F ron tier .The position in which Lord Methuen established himself on the Modder River has been made one ol extreme strength, and he is undoubtedly secure against any aggressive movement upon Cronje’s part. The water is excellent and provisions are plentiful, and a market has been established where our agents purchase fresh milk and vegetables selling to the farmers other articles they cannot purchase. The Boers are beginning to realise that their detestation of Mr. Rhodes has led to an unwise disposition of their forces, and has caused them to lose the opportunity of invading Cape Colony in force and rousing the Colonial Dutch. There are great signs of dis­quietude in their camp, for the Free Staters do not like the war, and are apprehensive that we shall attack. After Belmont some of them fled in haste to Bloemfontein but this nervousness is anew feature, illustrated by the fact that Cronje employs half his force to watch by day and the other half by night. The Boer trenches extend for something like fifteen miles, and since they have along line of communica­tion exposed to raids in their rear, their trepidation is not unnatural. It is grievous to learn that a deserter from the British Army, the traitor Greener, formerly a sergeant-major in the Royal Engineers’ balloon section at Aldershot, has been chief instructor of the Boers in the art of trench-making. This gentleman has fallen into our hands, and will doubtless meet his deserts. Unfortunately, we may not be able to mete out punishment to those treacherous Colonial Dutchmen who have made serious and successful attempts to lead our advancing columns into disaster. The latest intelligence issued from the War Office is that the situation on the Modder remains unchanged, but Lieutenant-Colonel Pilcher, of the Bedfordshire Regiment, marching from Belmont, had avery brilliant action on January ist at Sunnyside, a few miles from the Riet River, and on Lord Methuen’s extreme left. The Boer commando there was completely surprised, defeated, and driven out, its laager captured and forty prisoners taken, while Major- General Babington made a reconnaissance to distract the attention of the Boers from the operation. The colonials are to be sincerely congratulated on this excellent piece of work, which clears the country on that side, and has enabled Douglas once more to see our flag. The force consisted of 200 Queenslanders, under Colonel Ricardo ioo of the Ontario Company of Canadians, with two guns and a horse battery, under Major de Rougemont and detachments of the Munster Fusiliers and the Cornwall Light Infantry. The operation took the form of an attack on the enemy’s flanks, which compelled him to retreat hastily. Our casualties were three wounded and one missing. Kimberley is still successfully holding its own, and Colonel Plumer, in the north, is quite sure that all the Boers have retired far to the south of his position, except that a small detachment is in the vicinity of the Blauberg Range but there is reason to fear that the garrison of Mafeking maybe in some difficulty. All was reported well on December 12th, when the health and spirits of the garrison were very satisfactory, but Commandant Snyman reported to Pretoria on December 25th, that Colonel Baden-Powell had attacked one of his entrenched positions with guns, Maxims, and an armoured train, carrying the assault up to the very walls of the fort. Evidently the purpose was, if possible, to capture the Boer gun, but in this, according to the enemy’s account, our troops failed, and Snyman states that our loss was lifty- five, including one or more officers of Coionel Baden-Powell’s staff, while Lord Edward Cecil, Lord Charles Cavendish Bentinck, and Captain Wilson were wounded. Another Boer report gives our loss as ioy killed and wounded, and asserts that the Boers themselves had only nine casualties. The significance of the incident cannot be determined at the moment. On one hand Colonel Baden-Powell may have found it necessary to deliver this attack on the other, he may have merely considered the opportunity favourable for securing an advantage but in either case there is reason to fear that he partially failed, and that the loss was somewhat severe. The Cape F ron tier .It is not unlikely that Lord Roberts will make the Orange River the scene of his great advance, but, although our forces are yet inadequate there, there are some very satisfactory things to report. On December 31st General French made a brilliant night march from Rensburg with five squadrons of cavalry, halt of the 2nd Berkshire Regiment, eighty mounted infantry (in waggons), and ten guns, and at half-past three on the morning of New Year’s Day occupied a kopje on the west of Colesberg, which it overlooked. The enemy were com­pletely taken by surprise, for the kopje enfiladed their position, and their laager was under a heavy fire at daybreak. At the time of writing the effect of the action is not known, but large numbers of the enemy hastily retreated toward Norvals Pont, having lost heavily, while General French’s movement cuts the line of retreat for the rest to the road bridge across the Orange River. At the other end of the sphere of operations in the northern part of Cape Colony there is avery brilliant episode to record. On December 30th the enemy attacked Dordrecht, but were repulsed with a loss of eight men killed. Lieutenant de Montmorency, who had with him a small party, then went out to reconnoitre the Boer position, but at Labuschagne’s Nek, six miles north of Dordrecht, a party of mounted burghers managed to outflank and threaten a portion of his patrol. The colonials were not to be caught, however, and succeeded in establishing themselves on a kopje, where they were able to hold their own. Forty men, under Lieutenants Milford and Turner, of the Frontier Mounted Rifles, had refused to leave a wounded officer, Lieutenant Warren, of Brabant’s Horse, and defended themselves most gallantly against the repeated attacks of about 800 Boers. Their ammunition wr as becoming exhausted when Captain Golds­ worthy arrived from Dordrecht at 5.15 in the morning with 115 men and four guns, upon which the enemy fled to the hills as our guns opened fire. It appears that the Boers tried the white flag trick upon Liemenant Milford without effect, as his men waited undercover for the Boer volley which usually follows the display of the flag, and then poured a volley into the enemy. Del ago a Bay .During the lull in the lighting considerable attention has been directed to the port of Laurenco Marques, in Delagoa Bay, through which channel it is believed that the Boers are being supplied with material of war. The British Government has been urged to reize this territory which belongs to Portugal, and in this wr ay to put a stop to any such traffic. Such an heroic measure as this does not, however, commend itself to thinking men, as it would probably give rise to complications with European Powers, and to say the least would be of such a high-handed nature as might well give rise to criticism at home. On the other hand, international law provides us with a remedy, and the men-of-war on the Cape station are taking prompt steps to put it into effect. •Several ships have been already captured and some have been condemned, but the greatest interest attaches to a Swedish vessel, inasmuch as she was seized for carrying American foodstuffs for the Boer troops, and two German mail steamers, which are more than suspected of carrying men and arms. The photographs used are owned b y Messrs. Bennett and Sons. Boon, Crockett, Ellis (Malta), F yn e, Gregory (London), K n ig ht, Laurence, N ich o lls (Johannesburg), Sch wake, Sharpe, Steele, and Thomson. “UNDER THE UNION JACK ”HAS BEEN REPRINTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
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