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.
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