Under the Union Jack, No. 25, Vol. 2, April 28th 1900

April 28,1900.-] UNDER THE UNION JACK. 579 BATTLING FOR EMPIRE. LORD ROBERTS AT BLOEMFONTEIN. f I AH E somewhat abortive raid which has been made by the Boers into the south-eastern corner of the Orange State, and the general activity they have displayed, though it took us by surprise, and was punctuated by unfortunate incidents at the outset, did not in anyway disconcert Lord Roberts. His army is spread widely over the country, in camps conveniently situated, and as we write movements are in progress to deal with the raiders of which the character has been well concealed. Nothing more striking can be imagined than the scenes in and about Bloemfontein, which has become a great military centre resting upon com­munications which seem absolutely secure. Never since the Crimea have we had such a force gathered together, and there are miles upon miles of tents and of guns, while the railway is continually upbringing supplies and the horses that are so much needed. When we remember that Bloemfontein is 750 miles from CapeTown, and that CapeTown is 6,000 miles from England, we maybe proud as a nation that we have done what could have been accomplished by no other country in the world. There is still need for effort, for undoubtedly the Boers will fight on until the end. In Bloemfontein, however, everything is calm, and the incidents which have disturbed us in England have been received on the spot without any dismay, and the enemy have failed in their object of drawing Lord Roberts into complications they desired. What is supremely necessary is that the country should support the army to the end, and should recognise that there is avast operation before us, sur­passing in its magnitude anything that has yet taken place. The late capital of the Orange State is the centre of the activity. A great work had to be done there, and the troops, though they chafed under delay, have required time to recruit. The winter is on,coming and kits and boots have been a great necessity. Horses have been called for in vast numbers to supply the artillery and furnish remounts for the cavalry. There has also been the great operation of reorganising the forces and changing the commands, owing to the recall of General Gatacre, the formation of the corps of Mounted Infantry, and other causes. General HamiltonIan is in command of the Mounted Infantry, with Colonel Hutton and Colonel Ridley as his brigadiers, and as his force numbers something like 10,000 men, it will readily be imagined that the business of organising, equipping, and supplying it has been considerable. Meanwhile Bloemfontein itself has presented a gay and animated appearance. The streets have been crowded with officers of all nations, and the inhabitants have outcome to listen to the music of our bands, Lord Roberts himself sometimes walking amongst them. And under this appear­ance of rest the preparations to deal another staggering blow at tho Boers have gone on ceaselessly. Theys on ?heir part, seem not to have realised what force Lord Rob arts had at his command, for they even cherished the idea of so menacing his communications that he would be compelled t> withdraw forces to the -south, and would thus give them a chance of recapturing the late capital of the Orange Fr~• S^vlri. The Great Boer Raid .After the events at Sannah’s Post and Reddersburg a considerable force of the enemy went south, scattering, but concentrating again, raiding the country, and dealing harshly with those of the Orange State Boers who had surrendered under the terms of Lord Roberts’s proclamation. Many of these were commandeered again, so that a force, probably of from 7,000 to 10,000, was collected, and probably many more were distributed through the country. The enemy appeared at Rouxville, and advanced almost to the Orange River, while other parties passed through the country nearer the railway. The greatest effort, however, was made in the attack upon apart of General Brabant’s force under Colonel Dalgety, which took up a position near Jammersberg Drift, outside the village of Wepener, and close to the Basutoland border. The enemy appeared to be about 7,000 in number, and were under Commandants Odendaal, Swanepoel, and Jan Panze- grouw, General Olivier having temporarily gone to Kroonstad. Colonel Dalgety’s force consisted of the 1st and 2nd Kaffrarian Riiles, the Cape Mounted Rifles, and a company of the Royal Scots Mounted Infantry, with two 15-pounder guns, two naval 12-pounders, one Hotchkiss, and two 7-pounders. The position he had chosen was good, though he was completely surrounded by the Boers, who, however, had their backs to the Basutoland Frontier, and according to the latest intel­ligence seem to be retiring from a dangerous situation. Sir Godfrey Lagden and the paramount Basuto Chief, Lerothodi, organised a frontier guard to prevent any incursion into Basutoland, and to repress disorder. Colonel Dalgety handled his force admirably, the ammu­nition being carefully husbanded, and the guns being well served. The fighting began on April gth, when the Boers opened fire effectively with a Vickers-Maxim, and the fighting continued all day with pretty heavy casualties 011 both sides, the Boers being finally repulsed. They had suffered severe losses, ajid their big gun had been knocked over and damaged. The fighting was continued on the next day, and at night the British made a sortie and captured one Boer position, a gun, and some prisoners. Lord Roberts telegraphed on April 13th that the little garrison were still holding out well,and that troops were being moved to their assistance. On April 14th General Brabant, who was at Aliwal North with three companies of the Royal Irish Rifles, a squadron of Kaffrarian Rifles, a squadron of Brabant’s Horse, all the Border Horse, the Frontier Mounted Rifles, the Queenstown and Komgha-Xlanga Volunteers, a company of the Durham Light Infantry, and two guns, left for Roux­ ville, on his way to attack the Boers at Wepener and relieve Colonel Dalgety. He reoccupied Rouxville without opposition, and the Boers at Wepener slackened in their attack, and, as we write, are said to be in a state of great alarm, and to be disturbed by divided counsels. Meanwhile Lord Roberts had despatched the Third Division to Redders­ burg, apparently with the intention of cutting off or dispersing them. It was observed that in the course of this raid the Boers marched with little transport, and their proceedings have vividly recalled that raid which General Joubert directed into Southern Natal after the investment of Ladysmith. It will be remembered that our troops at Estcourt and at the Mooi River were expecting to be attacked, and were standing to arms in readiness, when the movement of tL_- Boers suddenly collapsed, and they fled northward, carrying along with them vast supplies ingathered the country, and sweeping before them great herds of oxen and many horses. The south­eastern portion of the Orange State is a rich agricultural district, and it is extremely likely that one object of the Boers has been to carry away supplies which they have probably needed for their main forces, which are somewhere between Bloemfontein and Kroonstad. They have a considerable body in front of our positions at Karee Siding, near Brandfort, and have bean inactive order to occupy our attention and to cover the defensive preparations which are on.going As these ‘‘UNDER THE UNION JACK” HAS BEEN REPRINTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
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