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

340 UNDER THE UNION JACK. [Feb. 17,1900, they were to leave for the front on the next day, which was February 6th, and not to return, he hoped, until the task entrusted to him by Lord Roberts had been successfully accomplished. H e added that, though he could not disclose the plan of operations, he could assure them that, if his intentions were carried out, the greatest glutton for fighting— and there were many among them— would have his fill of it. Such men will abe valuable reinforcement for General Gatacre. The attack made upon him on February 7th, alluded to above, was a half-hearted business. A feint was made against Pen Hoek, where the Royal Scots and Colonial Infantry were posted, while the Boers commenced a .vigorous shelling of Bird’s River Siding, thirty-four miles from head­quarters. Our positions were held, and when the Cape Mounted Rifles and Montmorency’s Scouts arrived on the scene, they fled. In Lord Roberts’s scheme of operations, which has been suggested, General French at Colesberg will play a large part. It is for him to capture that place and to seize N orval’s Pont, whence there is a direct approach to Bloemfontein. Up to the present time he has been able to do moreno than gradually draw his forces round the Boer position at Colesberg, and the enemy is there virtually encompassed and also short of supplies. A good deal of skirmishing has occurred, and it was reported on February 7th that the enemy was showing a more aggressive spirit. On the Western Side .There is some activity to report upon the Modder River, and the men are in excellent spirits the sick have been removed to the base, and everything is ready for the next move. General Hector MacDonald had a splendid reception from the Highlanders when he arrived. The routine of bombarding the Boer position has become commonplace, and occurs chiefly in the afternoons. A s soon as we open fire the enemy's gunners run like rabbits to their burrows, and our gunners watch them with amusement mingled with vexation. The “Long Tom ”on this side is worked by a man said to be from the Emerald Isle, and a pugilist of some repute. H e wears a blue and white shirt, and leans upon his gun, pipe in mouth, until he sees a discharge of lyddite despatched from the muzzles of our howitzers, whereupon he walks down into his bomb-proof shelter to await the bursting of the shells, and then immediately reappears. There is reason to think that the bombardment does no considerable damage on either side. General MacDonald’s arrival at the Modder River was the signal for renewed activity. His flank movement to Koodoosberg, which is about fifteen miles west of Lord Methuen’s camp, was sudden and secret, and took Cronje by surprise. On February 3rd the Highland Brigade, with the gth Lancers and a battery, left the camp, bivouacked the same night Fat rase r’s Drift, reached Koodoosberg the next day, and entrenched themselves on both banks of the river. A strong position was occupied, and on February 5th the Boers, who irrd e a feeble attack, were driven off. There is a good appro:.-h from Koodoosberg to Kimberley, but the move mostly disconcerts the Boers, because they do not know whether it maybe a preliminary to the cutting of their communications on the other side. The bombardment of Kimberley seems to be very active, and the enemy’s guns search every part of the place, the fire being indiscriminately of plugged shell and shrapnel, quite regardless of the lives of non-combatants. On a single day the Boers fired nearly 400 shells. But Kimberley has received little damage, and there is not the smallest chance of the Boers making any impression upon the town. They never made a greater mistake than when they determined to attack it, for if Cronje’s forces had marched into Cape Colony before our reinforcements arrived, the condition of affairs would have been very serious there. No great change has occurred at Mafeking, and the Boers, though very active, have ventured no attack since we made our assault upon Game Tree. The town is now upon short commons in some respects, but the natives have success­fully raided the Boer cattle, and thus replenished the supplies Colonel Baden-Powell has pushed out his trenches towards the enemy’s big gun battery. On January 15th he got within effective range, and on the next day the Boer 94-pounder and. high-velocity Krupp were retired to a more respectful distance. The enemy has thus been driven back on three sides well out of rifle shot, and grazing ground for cattle has been secured, while Colonel Baden-Powell hoped to push back the two other positions of the enemy before long. The gallant garrison of this stronghold deserves to be relieved. It has added a glorious page to our military annals, and the fame of Colonel Baden-Powell is now world-wide. Colonel Plum er’s column is coming south to relieve him, and a rumour was spread that it had actually reached the place. This, unfortunately, was not true. The troops have, however, advanced a distance of quite 500 miles, from Tuli to Gaberones and the Rhodesian regiment was engaged with the Boers near Crocodile Pools, on January 23rd. They charged with the bayonet, but the enemy fled, leaving some horses and a couple of flags behind. Colonel Plum eris thus in touch with a force sent to oppose his advance, and the last 100 miles of his progress will probably be slower than he will like, for though the enemy does not relish a fight, he is well pro­vided with guns, and appears to have marked out the range to various points with great accuracy. It is not known what force Colonel Plum er has with him. Troops for the Front. Rather tardy orders were issued on January 30th for the embarkation of the 4th Cavalry Brigade, which is under the command of M ajor-General J. B . B .Dickson, C.B .,lately commanding the troops in the Straits Settlements. The 17th Lancers and the 7th Dragoon Guards have pro­ceeded from Southampton, while the 8th Hussars embark at Dublin. Many stirring scenes have been witnessed on the occasion of the departure of troops. Following the Imperial Yeomanry who outset from Liverpool, a fine body consisting of 240 men with 20 officers and 240 horses, drawn from the Hampshire and Suffolk Yeomanry, left Southampton on January 31st. The quick-firing battery of the City Imperial Volunteers, supplied and manned by the Honourable Artillery Company, has also left for the Cape, but there is no space hereto deal with all the movements of troops from this country. The first contingents of the C .I.V .had a warm welcome at CapeTown, but were hurried off to the front, so that a ceremonial reception could not take place. As Lord Roberts said to them, the officers who organised the Volunteer force in 1859 never dreamt that Volunteers would serve in South Africa. The enthusiasm in the Colonies is unabated, and the recruiting for the New South Wales Bush­ men’s Corps has been closed. It is estimated that the contingent will number over 1,200 men with 1,400 horses. The remainder of the New South W7 ales Lancers are also to embark, and there is to abe third contingent of 300 men from Queensland, with detachments of Bushmen from Western Australia, and further forces from New Zealand, while Canada is doing yeoman’s service to the Empire. W e ought, indeed, all to feel very proud of our kinsmen beyond the sea. There seems to bean urgent necessity that the Government should take instant steps to check the flow of soldiers of fortune who are entering the Boer ranks through Delagoa Bay. The photographs used are owned by Messrs. Bishop, Chancellor, Cockrane, Edwards, Ellis (Malta), W. Gregory (London), Knight, H. W.Nicholls (Johannesburg), Sharpe, and G. W. Wilson (Aberdeen). We are able this week to reproduce several pictures, taken principally 011 the Modder River, by special arrangement with the proprietors of the King. ‘‘UNDER THE UNION JACK ’’—PHOTOGRAPHS OF ALL THE GENERALS AT THE FRONT.
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