Under the Union Jack, No. 15, Vol. 1, February 17th 1900

Feb. 17,1 COO .]UNDER THE UNION JACK, 3393 BATTLING FOR EMPIRE. WHAT IS HAPPENING IN NATAL. 0 change in the situation.” Such has been the nature of the intelligence which Lord Roberts has often transmitted from CapeTown, but, as these pages togo press, important things are happening. Sir Redvers Buller has again passed the Tugela, and severe fighting has occurred. All intelligence of his operations was suppressed, but it is known that he crossed the river ¦on February 5th. In our next issue we shall, no doubt, be able to describe fully the developments of this new activity, and all Englishmen now believe that we have at last reached the turning point of the campaign. It is not only in Natal that our forces are advancing, and Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener have themselves left CapeTown for the front. It maybe well hereto recur to some recent events still greatly in the public mind. The attack upon Spion Kop was undoubtedly brilliant both in conception and execution, and if the co-operation of forces had been better, and our guns could have got to the top, the place would probably have held the command over the district occupied by the Boers that Sir Charles Warren expected. It is not difficult to imagine the feelings with which those in Ladysm ith watched the course of the conflict. With anxious hearts they must have witnessed the struggle upon the height, many details of which w r ere visible from Observation Hill. Spion Kop is the chief elevation in the Taba Myama range, and, owing to the rarefaction of the air, Sir Charles Warren’s shells could be seen bursting in hundreds, while the vibration caused by the guns was dis­tinctly felt in Ladysm ith. Fortunately the garrison has been well provided with almost every necessity, and regarded the reverse with fortitude, so that there seemed to be no immediate reason to fear for the place, though the Boers gathered about it in greater numbers, opened a vigorous bombardment, and may even have contemplated another attack. The troops with Sir George White have been evidently as full of spirit as those endeavouring to relieve them and certainly we cannot but feel the highest admiration for the splendid military qualities which were displayed during the flank march and the week’s fighting on the north bank of the Tugela. No troops in the world could have stood more splendidly the strain of that operation, and discipline, pluck, and endurance were equally manifested. After the retirement of Sir Charles W'arren, a veil descended over the purposes of Sir Redvers Buller, and it would be idle to attempt in this place to penetrate his counsels, more especially as further operations are now in progress, of which intelligence must soon be received. The task before Sir Redvers Buller has been one of exceeding difficulty. The advance to the relief of Ladysm ith was so slow that the Boers had ample opportunity to prepare the position for our reception, and trenches were dug upon every hill and kopje about the place, so that if beaten from one position they had insecurity another. The approaches were, moreover, netted with lines of barbed wire, and preparations were made to breakup the roads before any advance we might contemplate. Among our enemies the Free Staters, at least, there has been growing discontent. Their “brother Boer ”has throwm upon them the brunt of the fighting, notably in the attack upon Caesar’s Camp on January 6th, and they have lost very heavily. Detailed accounts of that business have now been published, and it is very evident that the enemy had determined to make a desperate effort. They behaved with great gallantry, but nothing could have surpassed the magnificent conduct of the Gordons, the Devonshire men, and the colonial troops, to name more,no in the defence on that sanguinary day. On the Southern F ron tier .The same absence of complete intelligence w’hich renders it difficult to write about Natal enshrouds the course of operations in Cape Colony south of the Orange River. Lord Roberts, very properly, does not disclose his plans, but there can be no doubt that a great strategic movement is in preparation, with the primary purpose of clearing the Boers and their rebellious colonial allies out of Cape Colony, in anticipation of the general advance upon Bloemfontein. The Boers themselves are much alarmed, and it is said that President Steyn has made all ready to transfer the seat of his government to Pretoria. The President of the Free State Republic is a man of ideals, and his chief ideal is of a Dutch South Africa but ths troops in the field are not so thoroughly possessed with the necessity of such an institution, and there is much alarm among them in the districts of Herschel, Aliwal North, Band arkly. They still hold the Stormberg range of hills, but there seems little chance that they will now be able to overrun the lower country, though they attacked General Gatacre on February 7th. The occupation of Thebus, which is upon the east and west line between Rosmead and Stormberg Junctions, is a great menace to the right flank of Commandant Olivier, who is in command of the Boers in that quarter. The range of elevated island continued from Stormberg by the Zttur Berg and Kikvorsch Berg heights to Naauwpoort, which is the base of General French. At Thebus, General K elly-K enuy is in a position to advance by the railway line through Steynsburg, and to approach Stormberg Junction from the west. H e is already in touch with General Gatacre. The Boers who expected to capture Bushm an’s Hoek, which is on the line south from that place to Sterkstroom, are thus seriously menaced. Meamvhile about 100 miles further east they seem to anticipate that we shall attempt to force the B arkly Pass to the moun­tains, and thus take them on the other flank. In these circumstances Commandant Olivier left his camp at Stormberg for Lady Grey, in order to gather his forces for resistance. H e is said to have declared at the end of January that his men w'ere almost surrounded at Stormberg, and that unless recruits were forthcoming they would be compelled to abandon their schansjes. Accordingly, with Commandant Snyman from Dordrecht, he commandeered men and goods for the front, but many of the colonial residents refused to serve. The rebels are repenting ot their foily, and are said t :>have threatened to shoot DeW ett and Van Plitzen, who invited the Free State Boers into the B arkly district, ft appears that the principal sufferers at Dordrecht on December 30th and 31st were the Dordrecht and Aliwal rebels, who are understood to have lost forty-five killed and eighty wounded. In fact, we may see that in the ranks of our adversaries there is a practice among the men of the stronger factions to make those of the weaker pull the chestnuts out of the fire for them. General Gatacre is receiving additional forces, and the best spirit prevails among his troops. Brigadier-General Brabant, commanding the Colonial Division constituted by Lord Roberts, arrived at Queenstown, which, it will be remembered, is on the railway from East London to General Gatacre’s camp at Sterkstroom. Addressing a parade of his second regiment, he informed them that the time impatiently awraited had at length arrived. They have undergone a thorough preparation, which was creditable to all ranks, and THE BACK NUMBERS OF “UNDER THE UNION JACK ”CAN BE HAD OF GEORGE NEWNES. LTD.
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