Under the Union Jack, No. 19, Vol. 2, March 17th 1900

UNDER THE UNION JACK. [March 17,1900. %and on March 2nd General B u ller made a formal entry at the head of his victorious forces, the Dublin Fusiliers, who had lost so terribly and fought so well, being placed at the head of the infantry line. There was a strange contrast between the sturdy men of the relieving column and the palefaces and thin figures of the lately beleaguered soldiers. General White, with his whole staff, surrounded by the Gordon Highlanders, sat by the battered tower of the Town Hall, and, as the regiments marched by, the soldiers cheered loudly, some breaking from their ranks and waving their rifles and their helmets in enthusiasm and the townspeople then presented an address of thanks to General White. The siege was started with 12,000 fighting men and over 2,000 civilians, besides K affirs and Indians. E nteric fever and dysentery appeared, and 8,000 fighting men passed through the hospitals, and towards the end the most distressing feature was that a man once down was lost. The privations were very great, and everyday thirty old horses and mules were slaughtered for food and converted into soup and sausages. In this way the guns lost their mobility and the cavalry the greater number of their horses. During the siege something like 15,000 shells had been thrown into the town, but, owing to the excellence of the precautions taken, only th irty-five men had been killed and 188 wounded. It is believed that no child or woman was hurt by shell-fire during the whole bombardment. T woof the Boer guns have fallen into our hands, and it is not unlikely that some may have been buried. The garrison captured some fat cattle which the Boers could not drive away, abut continuous stream of their waggons trekked towards the D rakensberg, and northward to their railway terminus, escaping by Lain g ’sN ek to the Tran sva al. A gallant attempt was made by the garrison to intercept the Boers who were entraining at Eland slaagte, and Colonel Knox formed a column of two batteries, three squadrons of the 19th Hussars, and detachments of the G ordons, M anchesters, and D evons, which marched out towards Pepw orth Station. A skirmish ensued, and some positions were captured, but it was found that horses and men were soon utterly exhausted, and the force returned. Sir R edvers B u ller has since formed a composite force to followup the Boers towards Van R eenen’s Pass, and an advance has already been made in »that direction as these pages togo press. The policy of General B u lle r has yet to be disclosed, but his further advance must certainly have an effect in retaining a large force of Boers in the D rakensberg region. The Capture o f C ron je .The capitulation of Cronje Mon ajuba Day had a great deal to do with the relief of Lad ysm ith .It was brought about by a strategic stroke of masterful character, which worked its end with surprising celerity. The immediate honour fell to the gallant Canadians, who, on that early dawn, covered the operations of the Engineers, who were entrenching very near to the enem y’s position, and the Canadians practically gave the coup de grace on that memorable occasion. Cronje and his party have been safely installed on board the Doris at Sim on’s Town, and his followers, to the number of more than 4,000, have been moved to the rear, heartily glad to escape from the deplorable plight into which they had been plunged by the precipitate retreat fromM agersibntein. When they came out from their trenches th ey.w ere filled with the greatest elation, and laughed and joked with what might have seemed inappropriate hilarity. They were men ranging in age from sixteen to sixty or more, and their aspect was absolutely deplorable. After the action Lords Robert's and Kitchener visited the relieved town of Kimberley, which is rapidly returning to prosperity, but were soon back again with the forces at Osfontein, to which place, a few miles east of Paardeberg, the headquarters had been lem oved. The Boers, to the number of 5,000 or 6,000, were located some miles in front of this position on both sides of the river, occupying certain kopjes, and General French shelled their trenches, which could be easily turned, 011 March 3rd, but the real resistance to our advance may perhaps be found at Abraham Kraal,’s about thirty miles east of Paard eb erg and as much .north-west of Bloemfontein. The whole situation is gradually developing, and the silence as to the actual movements of our troops implies that something is in progress, though many Free Staters are ready to throw up the sponge. A strong force has left Kimberley for the north, probably to relieve, or draw off pressure from, the long-tried garrison of M afeking, and it is supposed that on that side fighting may take place at Fourteen Streams. Such is the situation as these pages togo press, and concerning these matters we shall doubtless have much to say later on. The Southern F ron tier. In this theatre of operations, the effect of Lord Roberts’s .success has also been very marked. The Boers have altogether fled from Colesberg, where they resisted Generals French and Clements so stoutly, and the passage of the Orange Nat o rval’s Pont will doubtless soon be in our hands. W e have thus taken without a struggle what we were unable to accomplish by force. The extraordinary pains with ,which the Boers had constructed defences and elaborate wire entanglements at Colesberg, evidently with the intention of offering prolonged resistance there, is but another illustration of the wonder-working effect of Lord Rob erts’s strategic blow. On March 3rd thew aggon bridge across the Orange River was intact, and the Victorians and Tasman sian shelled the Boers on the other side of this fine structure. There is no knowledge that the railway bridge Nat o rva l’s Pont has been destroyed. Further to the east, in the region of Dordrecht, the Boers are wholly disheartened, and many rebel farmers are laying down their arms. General B rab ant’s vigorous move in capturing D ordrecht and Jamestown has struck terror into the hearts of the rebels, and as we write the Boers are in full retreat. It is not at all unlikely that the whole of northern Cape Colony will be restored to us without any serious blow being struck. General G atacre, after reconnoitring the position of the Boers at Storm berg, occupied that place on March 5th without a shot being fired, for the enemy had fled. General B rab ant’s operations had seriously imperilled their communi­cations. Since the formation of the colonial division, the situation about Dordrecht has wonderfully changed ’for the better, and the tide of Boer invasion has been very effectually turned back. Some disaffection, however, has been mani­fested in the P rieska and K enhardt districts, and the Boer agents have been inactive creating a disturbance but there is reason to believe that the farmers will soon recognise the hopelessness of the Boer cause. Wherever we look, therefore, we find the situation changed. The Boers, who entered upon the war with the idea, or perhaps the conviction, that they would drive us into the sea, as President Kruger said, by adopting measures which would “stagger humanity,” are being driven back at every point. The defence of Lad ysm ith checkmated all their plans on that side, and the foolish policy which led them to attack Kimberley operated most unfortunately for their cause. It was impossible, in any case, that they should win in the end, for the consolidated strength of the British Empire directed against them was bound to secure the result which can now be foreseen. The photographs used are owned by Messrs. Bayly, Chancellor, Crockett, Fvne, L. Jenks, Juritz, Mackey, and Webster. We are also able this week to reproduce several pictures, taken principally on the Modder River, by special arrangement with the proprietor of the King'. “UNDER THE UNION JACK” HAS BEEN REPRINTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
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