Under the Union Jack, No. 23, Vol. 2, April 14th 1900

April 14, mo.] UNDER THE UNION JACK. BATTLING FOR EMPIRE. THE NEXT STAND OF THE BOERS. PRESIDENT K R U GER has been expressing amaze­ment, if the moon is inhabited, that John Bull has not already annexed it. In view of our steady advance, the grip that is circling round him, the despatch of Sir Frederick Carrington to prevent any predatory flight into Rhodesia, he would perhaps like to trek there. His appre­hension for the safety of the moon is not, however, com­parable to his dismay at what has happened in the Orange State. There all his plans have been defeated, and no brave words or valiant denunciations of his adversary, no wild statements as to the capture of London by Muscovites, can undo what has been done. The advance is steady and the gradua' settlement final, and though the Boer Press may emphasise the fighting ardour of the Boer army, refugees report that there are many burghers anxious to surrender and to return to their well-loved farms. There is, however, a strong and dogged force that will resist to the end, and that will succeed in keeping the timid and reluctant in the fighting line. General Louis Botha, who has succeeded General Joubert, is not the man to shrink, and the aggressive move­ment south of Brandfort, which brought about the action near Karree Siding, described later, was an indication of the quality that remains. We may cheerfully render high praise to the Boer. Never have our troops encountered a more resourceful or determined adversary. The “Brother Boer ”may not have the downright courage, dash, and elan that possess Tommy Atkins—though he is certainly not destitute of them in a considerable degree—but he is nearly always a good shot, with an excellent eye for cover and country, and has something of an instinctive sense for defensive positions. He has a “slimness ”which prevents him from falling into traps, and is quite an adept in digging trenches and building invisible schansjes, and he has mobility which has enabled the Boer forces to concentrate rapidly and to make the most of their inferior strength. They have surprised us by the way in which they have dragged heavy guns up almost inaccessible hills, and have used them to the utmost advantage, and they have shown the greatest tenacity in holding onto the places they have chosen. Moreover, they have individual intelli­gence, which is allowed full play. Every burgher knows the plan of campaign, and understands what his commandant is going to do, so that if anything should go wrong, or orders fail to reach him, he is able to acton his own responsibility and, is never at a loss. Still, the Boer is not a perfect soldier. There is not cohesion, in his forces the commandos are a congeries of semi-independent units discipline is wanting, and jealousy is rife and the disputes between Free Staters and Tran., vaalers have been avery carious danger. Moreover, he h now fighting at a disadvantage, and in a country that does not lend itself to his special tactics. There are groups of kopjes in certain places, but nowhere between Bloemfontein and -the Vaal are there defensive positions comparable to those.found in Northern Natal and in the ranges south of.the Orange River. All is rolling veldt, intersected here and thereby sluits, rapidly changing from slender streams to roaring torrents, little cultivated, and with the railway running right through the middle in a straight line from Bloemfontein to the Vaal. No such difficulties can confront our Engineers as were found when the bridges were destroyed at Frere, Colenso, and Modder River. Kroonstad, which appears to have been chosen as a position for a firm resistance to our advance, can be prepared for defence, but it can be turned, and must become untenable, since there is no range of heights such as enabled so strong a resistance to be offered on the Tugela. At Kroonstad, however, many commandos have gathered, and it is the place to which General Grobler and his forces flying by Ladybrand from the south are believed to be making their way. Mr. Steyn, the ex-President of the Orange State, has issued a proclamation to the burghers, in which he remarks that though the capital has fallen into our hands the battle is not lost, and th.it the need of fighting is greater than before. Therefore, though there is some disaffection in the Boer ranks, the resistance will certainly be prolonged. The Engagement near K arr e e Siding .Delay had been imposed upon Lord Roberts by the necessity of securing his newline of communications from the Orange River, of settling the conquered districts, of collecting supplies and warlike stores, of supplying the mounted forces with remounts, and making good the great losses caused among the transport animals by the long march to Bloemfontein, and, finally, of providing the troops with new boots and clothing suited to the South African winter. All these things occupied time and accounted for delay. The Boers, however, were not disposed to be inactive. They might, perhaps, impede our operations, but certainly they could outstretch a helping hand to their comrades Hying from the south, concerning whose movements something shall be said later on. Lord Roberts’s advanced position was at Glen, on the Modder River, about fifteen miles north of Bloemfontein, where cavalry under General French were stationed with other troops. There does not appear to have been any intention of beginning the advance immediately, but the cavalry were on the alert, and there was a skirmish in the direction of Brandfort (which is thirty-five miles from Bloemfontein) on March 25th. The activity of the enemy continued, and on the agtli Lord Roberts found it advisable to drive them off certain kopjes which they had occupied near Karree Siding, a few miles south of Brandfort. They had been dealing very harshly with burghers who w r ere willing to lay down arms to us, and it was only right that these should be reassured and protected. Avery pretty action—which resembled in its general features several other fights directed :by Lord Roberts—resulted. The enemy were in position on aline of kopjes in front of Brandfort, to the number of perhaps 3,000, commanding the railway, and had guns well placed. The attacking force consisted of General Tucker’s Division, two brigades of cavalry and Horse Artillery under General French, and a brigade of Mounted Infantry under Colonel Le Gallais. After a heavy bombardment of the position, General French’s cavalry (including the 6th Dragoon Guards, the Scots Greys,, and the lnniskillings, with the Australian Horse and New South Wales Lancers) proceeded to develop a threatening movement on the enemy’s left flank, while Colonel Le Gallais, whose force included 400 New South Wales Mounted Infantry, attacked on the other side. The infantry attack had mean­while begun in the centre. The 2nd Norfolks drove the enemy from their main kopje, and the 2nd South Wales Borderers, 1st East Lancashires, 2nd Lincolns, 2nd Cheshires, 2nd North Staffordshires, 2nd Hampshires, and 1st Scottish Borderers attacked the centre. The Boers opened lire when our infantry were within 800yds., and the firing all along the line was very severe, and the men began to drop fast. But the flanking movement, which threatened the rear of the Boers, “UNDER THE UNION JACK ”HAS BEEN REPRINTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
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