Under the Union Jack, No. 20, Vol. 2, March 24th 1900

460 UNDER THE UNION JACK. [March 24,1900. A great proportion of our losses on that occasion were the result of a flagrant and cowardly act of treachery on the part of the Boers. A large force was endeavouring to get out of our gunfire, and being in great peril, owing to a squadron of mounted infantry hovering on their flank, a large company of them hoisted a white flag, upheld their hands, and threw down their arms as a sign of surrender. The British there­upon advanced to accept the surrender, when another section of the enemy opened lire into our ranks. The incident was witnessed by Lord Roberts and several of his staff, and the dastardly outrage provoked from him a communication to Kruger and Steyn, drawing attention to it, and also to the use of three different kinds of explosive bullets by their forces. “Such breaches of the recognised usages of war, and of the Geneva Convention,” as Lord Roberts told the Boer Presidents, “are a disgrace to any civilised power,” and he has warned them that if another instance of the abuse of the white flag occurs, it will afterw beards disregarded entirely. On March nth the force made another move forward, and a rapid advance was effected to a place named V entersvlei, which is about eighteen miles from Bloemfontein. The Boers had mustered their forces to resist still further, and appear to have been about 12,000 strong, with eighteen guns in position on a range of kopjes commanding the direct road to the Free State capital, and apparently extending from B ain svlei on the north to Ilarteb eest H oek on the west, and some kopjes further south. The cavalry division, however, made a swift turning movement, and on the afternoon of the 12th was astride the railway, six miles south of Bloemfontein. Before night General French had seized two hills close to the railway station at that place and commanding the town. There had been hard fighting, and we had suffered a good deal, but the triumph was great, and perhaps in a measure decisive. The troops had shown splendid fighting and marching power, and the enem y’s position was completely turned. They had been completely surprised and out­ manoeuvred. A theses pages togo press we cannot report that our troops are in the Free State capital itself, but that announcement can scarcely be delayed many hours. The railway and telegraph to Pretoria have been cut, and we may hope that Lord Roberts will be able to seize the rolling stock, and to open communications, by the line running southward, with our troops advancing from the Orange. The Sit tau ion in Natal .The more we know of the condition that existed in Lady ­smith during the siege, the higher is our appreciation of the courage and steady endurance that caused the garrison to holdout and to hide from those outside the real hardships that were suffered. Prosperity will now slowly return to the place, and the railway is being repaired, but it does not appear that Northern Natal is so thoroughly cleared of IJoers as Sir R edvers B u ller supposed. They are believed to be entrenched in some strength in the B iggarsb erg Range, but there is little chance of their acting on the offensive, and their retention in that position will bean advantage to us. Continual streams of w aggons with stores have entered Lady ­smith, and confidence has been restored. The troops need time to recuperate, and a large body will probably be withdrawn. Sir George White, the gallant defender of L adysm ith ,left the scene of his achievement reduced in health by the hard­ships and by the fever from which he had suffered, but ready to uptake his new command in Cape Colony, where it is likely that he will have Sir Charles Warren’s division with him. His departure was the occasion of an affecting demon­stration on the part of the garrison. The Naval Brigade which, by upbringing its guns in “the imminent breach,” saved the situation, has been withdrawn and has reached Sim on’s Town, and those “Captains Courageous,” the Hon. H edworth Lam bton ,of the Powerful, and Percy Scott, of the Terrible, have received the C.B .for their splendid services, while Lieutenant Ogilvy, o f the T e rrib le, has been promoted to commander in recognition of what he has done. There has been some skirmishing in various parts o f Northern Natal, but no serious operations have been attempted as yet. W e may look back with pride, satisfaction, and unstinted admiration to the defence of Lad ysm ith ,which has been the greatest service rendered to theE m p ire for avery longtime. Ladysm ith was the key of the situation, and it is terrible to contemplate what would have been the consequences of its fall. One correspondent says truly :“It is impossible to depict or realise all that the besieged had to endure it is a record of the most noble endurance, heroic resistance, and uncomplaining self-devotion on the part o fall, of which theE m p ire should be proud.” The Southern F ron tier .We have here also a perfectly satisfactory record. General Bra ban t’s great success at Lab u sch agne’s N ek on March 5th, in which the Boers were driven out after making a dogged defence, was conclusive. Our men had attacked with the greatest gallantry, and the enemy retreated with precipitation. Jamestown was occupied, and General B rabant seized A liw al North on March n t h,and he was able to follow a force of goo Boers, under D e V illiers and Olivier, who had crossed the river, and to capture their camp four miles to the north. General G atacre has also advanced from Bui'ghersdorp, and on March nth the 74th Battery and mounted infantry with some Cape Police were hotly engaged near B ethulie Bridge across the Orange. W e command the road bridge, but the railway bridge has been partially destroyed. General Clements, further west, having seized the southern bridgehead Nat o rva l’s Pont, it maybe said that practically the Orange River frontier is in our hands, and when the Engineers have got to work we may soon expect to hear that the enemy has been driven from the other bank. Communications should soon be opened with Lord Roberts.On the Western Side .There has recently been grave anxiety in regard to the situation Mat afeking, though on March 6th the report was“ A ll well,” but quite possibly before these pages appear the gallant garrison may have been relieved. Colonel Plum eris at last able to resume his march, and is repairing the railway ashe comes south, while Colonel Peak man ,of the Diamond Fields Horse, left Kimberley at the beginning of March with a mobile force, accompanied by guns, to cover the distance of 222 miles toM afeking. News comes through slowly from that distant station, and we may hope, even as these lines are being written, that Colonel Baden wo-P ell has received the help he so greatly needs. Colonel Plum er reached Lobatsi on March 6th, 47 miles fromM afeking, and the railway has not been greatly damaged south of that point, it is believed. There is reason to think that the rising among the Cape Dutch in the districts of P rieska, Gordonia, K enhardt, and C alvinia will soon collapse when intelligence spreads among the ignorant and disaffected farmers. Lord Kitchener, more­over, as we write, has made final preparations for the various columns which are to quell the rising. It was the general collapse of the Boer resistance which marked Lord Rob erts’s march towards Bloemfontein that provoked the Boer Presidents’ appeal to Lord Salisbury. They referred to the fact that we had at last secured a success against their “sovereign and independent states.” Perhaps they maybe consoled for LordS alisb u ry’s deafness to their appeal by the despatch of Cronje and his chief associates to St. Helena. SOME of the photographs used here are owned by Messrs. W.M. Crockett, D’Arcy, Iierbst, Russell and Sons, W. L. H . Skeen, and V. Harris. By special arrangement with the proprietors of the King we. are also able to reproduce in this number four o f their photographs. “UNDER THE UNION JACK ”HAS BEEN REPRINTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN
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