Under the Union Jack, No. 21, Vol. 2, March 31st 1900

484 UNDER THE UNION JACK. [March 31, 19G0. to open the line and to overawe any still rebellious Boers who might be found south of Bloemfontein. His troops were conveyed in three trains, and proceeded as far as N o rval’s Pont, returning to Bloemfontein on March 17th .Opposition had entirely broken down in the neighbourhood of the Orange River, and the victorious columns of Generals Clements, G atacre, Band rab an tall crossed on March 15th. A t N orvaPs Pont, on the west, the Engineers threw a pontoon, 800ft. long, across the river in the course of a few hours, the cavalry and two batteries of Artillery immediately crossing to the north bank, where the train from Bloemfontein soon arrived. The railway bridge was found not to have been very seriously damaged, and Colonel G irouard, the Canadian railway officer, who, having done such good work in the Soudan, finds new scope in South Africa, reported that it would soon be open for traffic, and a good service of trains has now been opened. The Boers entirely disappeared from General G atacre’s front, and he pushed on from Burghersdorp towards the B ethu lie bridge, where several very exciting episodes took place. It had been discovered that the enemy were busily engaged in mining thew aggon bridge, with the intention of destroying it as soon as they should safely reach the other side. Our artillery came into inaction the effort to drive them off, and on the evening of March 12th Second- Lieutenant Popham performed a most gallant act. H e is a young officer gazetted abut few months ago to the Sherwood Foresters, and that regiment is very proud of his achievement. H e succeeded in getting across the bridge under a hail of shot and shell, and managed to cut the connecting wires for firing the mines, thus rendering the plans of the Boers abortive. H e also discovered several boxes filled with dynamite, and, returning to the British lines, took out a par y of his regiment, and again made his way towards the bridge. The party succeeded, in a most daring manner and under a hot fire, in bringing away the explosives and reaching camp with them. The Sherwood Foresters then occupied the bridge, the Boers retiring, and held it throughout the day until the main body arrived. The enemy had meanwhile disappeared, and General G atacre pushed onto Springfield Junction. Further to the east General B rab ant, who had driven the Bo^rs before him, crossed the river at A liw al North after some sharp fighting, and some of the burghers who were opposed to him seem to have taken refuge in Basutoland. Large numbers of them, and of the colonial farmers who took up arm s,have surrendered and returned to their homes. All along the Southern border, therefore, the resistance has completely broken down, and it is extremely unlikely that any formed body of the enemy can be found to resist us. As a measure of precaution Lord Roberts despatched a brigade of c.ivalry toT h ab a Ncrm , a place lying about forty miles east of Bloemfontein, to oppose an effectual barrier against any fugitive Boers who might attempt to fly northward toW inburg with the intention of joining ex-President Steyn in the neighbourhood of K roonstad. This brigade has also played an important part in pacifying the inhabitants of that country, and has distributed copies of Lord Roberts’s proclamation over a large area. O x the Western F ron tier. Meanwhile, the troops at Kimberley have not been idle. Upon them also has devolved an important work in settling a large country lying north of theM odder. Lord Methuen with a force of some strength proceeded to Boshof, about thirty miles north-east of Kimberley, where he left a garrison, and seized several guns and 70,000 rounds of ammunition. The country in the neighbourhood of Bark ly West is almost deserted, but it has been reported that the Boers are in some force in the region of K lipdam ,on the V aal River. Since his visit to Bosh of Lord M ethuen has proceeded to YVarrenton.a place lying on the V aal River opposite to Fourteen Stream s.He arrived on the 16th, in time to prevent the destruction of the deviation bridge which had been built there, and he secured a pont on the V aal. It appears, therefore, that an advance is being made in force in the direction of M afeking. It does not follow, how­ever, that General M ethuen is necessari'y proceeding to that place, for a demonstration in force will suffice to occupy the attention of the Boers and to takeoff the pressure from Colonel Baden wo-P eli’s long-suffering garrison. There is the best reason to hope that before these lines appear he will have been relieved, for Colonel Plum er, on March 14 th ,was at Lob atsi, and had restored railway and telegraphic com­munications as far south as Pitsan Hi. e was, therefore, within marching distance of the beleaguered place, and there seemed to be no great force opposing his advance. A t the last report the garrison was still holding its own with unflinching courage, but with diminishing resources. The Boers were hardworking on March 6th to approach by sapping to our trenches, band y concentrated shelling and rifle fire they made considerable progress, so that they broke into one of the trenches and were able for a time to fly their flag over it. Meanwhile, the garrison has been living upon horse and mule flesh, with bread made from horse forage, and dysentery and fever were rife, especially among the women and children. The gallantry and steadfastness with which the little town of M afeking, possessing no advantages what­ forever defence and dominated b y heavy guns, has resisted every attempt to reduce it has appealed to the Empire, and the services of Colonel Baden o-P welland his men will rank high in the history of the war. The Situation in Natal. aBut little time ago the situation in Natal occupied the foremost place in these pages, the eyes of every Englishman being fixed upon the great dram a being enacted about Lady ­smith. Now ,owing to the splendid development of Lord R oberts’s strategy, and the relief of the long-beleaguered town, Natal has for a time sunk to a secondary level in the events of the war. The forces with Sir Red vers Buller have needed sometime to recuperate, and there has been a considerable work in providing mounts for the cavalry and rehorsing the guns. It was intended to withdraw Sir Charles Warren’s division, but the collapse of opposition in the late Free State made this unnecessary, and the troops who had been sent to Durban to embark returned once more to Ladysm ith. It therefore appears that an advance from Natal at a later stage of the operations will probably be possible meanwhile, the cavalry have been reconnoitring the passes o f the D rakens­ berg, where the Boers are in position, though apparently not in great strength. These passes, however, are easy to defend, and it is not likely that Sir R edvers B u ller will make any hasty attack upon them. A t present the Boers are in position in the B iggarsb erg Mountains north of Lad ysm ith ,and have several guns mounted on the Newcastle Road and also on the road to Dundee. Evidently, therefore, they are p-eparing to impede, if not resist, an advance which they anticipate being made upon Lain g ’sN ek for the direct invasion of the Transvaal. It is not likely, however, that w e shall for sometime have any activity to record in this theatre of the war. and meanwhile the attention of the country is directed to the grand advance which Lord Roberts will be able to make from Bloemfontein when the columns of Generals Clements,. G atacre, Band rab ant join him from the south. It was intended that these should form a division under Sir George White, but, to the regret of everyone, the health of the brave defender of Lad ysm ith has not enabled him immediately to assume another command. SOME of the photographs used here are owned by Messrs. Cribb, J. A. Drage (Berea), Gillard, Gregory, Knight, Stephens, Underwood and Underwood, and Window and Grove. ‘We are indebted to the courtesy of the Graphic, Illustrated London News, Sphere, and Navy and Army Illustrated for some of the illustrations in this number. THE BACK NUMBERS OF “UNDER THE UNION JACK” CAN BE HAD OF GEORGE NEWNES, LTD.
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