Under the Union Jack, No. 14, Vol. 1, February 10th 1900

334 UNDER THE UNION JACK. [Feb. 10, 190C second the b lack hill w as forked w ith flam e, and bullets struck fire from the rocks around us. B u t our men pressed on unchecked. c F ix b a yo n ets! ’ shouted the com m ander of the L ig h t H orse. ‘ G ive them cold s te e l! ’ shouted some trooper. Cheering w ildly, C arbineers and L igh t H orse charged tow ards the enem y, but no enem y w as in sight. T he B o e rs had fled at the mere threat of cold steel.” O ver the disaster to “ L o n g Tom ” the letter continues: 4 < W hen the B oers ventured to ascend Gun H ill at dawn, and exam ined the m utilated artillery, their attitude w as that of men am azed and hum iliated. T h e y solem nly shook their heads over the ruins o f 1 L o n g T o m ,’ and handled the fragm ents o f the gun alm ost w ith suspicion. T o do them justice, they fran kly acknow ledge the courage and daring of the enterprise. 4 E v e r y man deserves the V ictoria C ro ss,’ said a B oer in the hearing of D r. D avis, who went to the enem y’s lines to make enquiries after the trooper who w as m ortally wounded in the assau lt. T h e younger B o e rs are less generous and polite. One of them, with a contem ptuous glance at the dead soldier, exclaim ed, ‘ T h an k G od I there’s another rooinek dead.’ B u t a w eather-beaten old burgher prom ptly knocked him dow n with the butt-end of his rifle.” On G un H ill a D utchm an’s letter w as found containing th e follow ing : “ It would be very dangerous to attack the tow n, as they h ave several breastw orks outside. T h e y have tw o of their naval guns close to the town, which give us a very w arm tim e—often unbearable on account of their excellence. I think a good deal of bloodshed will still be caused before the tim e com es for their surrender, as M r. E n glish m an fights hard and w ell, and w e burghers are a bit sh ak y .” A n interesting answ er to the query “ W h ere do the B oer bullets strike ? ” is supplied by a surgeon at the front in the follow ing an alysis of the wounds of officers and men at the battle of the T u g e la on D ecem ber 15th: H ead, 1 9 ; face, 7 ; neck, 3 ; back and spine, 20 ; upper extrem ity, 76 ! low er extrem ity, 1 1 8 ; other wounds, 6. T h u s it will be seen that wounds in the low er extrem ity greatly preponderate. O nly 8 o f the num ber w ere returned as shell wounds, the rest being caused by M auser rifle bullets. T h ese latter are d escribed as “ hum ane in the extrem e and haemorrhage was con sp icu ou s by its absence.” In a letter from F rere, a corporal in the S co ts Fusiliers, w ritin g to his brother in C o ven try, s a y s : “ Just before battle the Irish B rigad e with the B o e rs sent a note to our Dublin F u silie rs, sayin g they would be glad to get the opportunity to w ipe them off the face of the earth. T h e note was returned b y the D u b lin s, who said that they would w alk through tl: i Irish B rig a d e as the D evil wr alked through A thlone.” T h e Scotch gillies who h ave volunteered for active service ought to prove a ve ry useful lot of fellows for scouting purposes at the front. A H ighland gillie, it m ay be interesting to explain, is the general sporting servant of the Scottish laird. T rained from childhood to deer-stalking, the gillie has no objection to travel m iles on his hands and knees— not in parties, but alone. Such training, therefore, peculiarly fits him for spyin g upon the foe, without the foe spying upon him. M oreover, the rigours of the nights upon the A frican veldt will h ave no terrors for those used to Scotch hills and Scotch mist. Throughout South A frica generally, but especially in N orthern N atal, the sum m er storm s are so frequent as to be alm ost reliable in their occurrence. N early every afternoon, between three and four o’clock, from Decem ber to F eb ru ary, a thunder-storm of greater or less intensity m ay confidently be expected, and only those who know the country can realise the fearful grandeur and aw fulness of these storm s. Comin up rapidly against the w ind, a storm will turn a blue sky int inky blackness in a quarter of an hour. Then the celestu artillery opens w ith terrific effect, the lightning crackles lik titanic thorns under a pot, and the rain comes down in broke waterspouts. A storm usually follows the course of th mountain ranges, especially if their formation is ironstone which seem s to act as a conductor for the electric fluid. S much so is this the case that in the D rakensberg Rang huge rocks h ave been split up into all sorts of fantastic shapes as though they had been blasted b y dynam ite. A gentlem an, m any years resident in South A frica, an who speaks the D utch “ taal ” fluently, has m ade a ver careful com pilation of the reports circulated p rivately amongs the B oers of their losses during the w ar. And m any of hi item s h ave been verified by others who h ave lately arrive from the R epublics. T h e follow ing is the estim ated loss u; to, but not including, the operations around Spion Kop : Mafeking ... ... ... ... .... ... 500 Kimberley ... ... ... ... ... ... 300 Belmont ... ... ... ... ... ... 40a Enslin... ... ... ... ... ..* ... 250 Modder R iver... ... ... ... ... ... 400 Magersfontein... ... ... ... ... ... 700 Ivuruman ... ... ... ... ... ... 100 Douglas ... ... ... ... ... ... 75 Against General French ... ... * ... ... 300 Against General Gatacre ... ... ... ... 100 Glencoe ... ... ... ... ... ... 300 Elandslaagte ... ... ... ... ... ... 600 Ladysmith ... ... ... ... ... 2,000 Various ... ... ... ... ... ... 400 Total ... ... 6,425 Th ere is e very reason to believe that this list is no exaggerated, and it show s that if our own losses in the fielc have been severe, those of the enem y'are not much behind. Dates' to Remember. J anuary 26t h .— T h e following cable from General Bullei is received at the W a r O ffice: “ W arren ’s garrison, I an sorry to say, I find this m orning had in the night abandonee Spion K o p .” — A list of 209 losses sustained by Genera L y tte lto n ’s B rig a d e on the 24th is posted. J anuary 27TH.— W ritten despatches from S ir George W h ite, General B u ller, and L o rd M ethuen are published.— T h e third contingent of the C ity V olunteers sail for the Cape. J anuary 28t h .— A long despatch from G eneral B uller is issued, explaining why Spion K op w as abandoned, also w h j he w as com pelled to give up his flanking m ovem ent upon the B o er position, and retire across the R iv e r T u gela. J anu ary 29TH.— T h e W a r Office issues a list of casualties am ongst the officers at Spion K o p : K illed , 23 ; wounded, 2 1 ; m issing, 6. A lso details of losses am ongst non-commissioned officers and men of L y tte lto n ’s B rigad e on the 24th : K illed, 3 2 ; wounded, 120; m issing, 2. J anuary 30TH.— Parliam ent reassem bles.— L o rd Roberts reports on 29th : “ N o change in situation to-day.” J anu ary 31ST .— G eneral B u lle r tele g ra p h s: “ Colonel Thorneycroft w as the officer who ordered the retirem ent from Spion K op. It is due to him to say that, I believe, his personal gallantry saved a difficult situation early on the 24th, and that, under a loss of at least 40 per cent., he directed the defence with conspicuous courage and ability throughout the day. N o blam e w hatever for the w ithdraw al is in my opinion attributable to him, and 1 think his conduct throughout was adm irable.” — N ew s is received from L ad ysm ith that the garrison is disappointed, not despondent, the spirits of the men high, and the health of all fairly good. THE BACK NUMBERS OF “ UNDER THE UNION JA C K ” CAN BE HAD OF GEORGE NEWNES, LTD.
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