Under the Union Jack, No. 26, Vol. 2, May 5th 1900

MayS 1900.1 UNDER THE UNION JACK. 603 BATTLING FOR EMPIRE. INFIGHTING THE ORANGE STATE. LAST week we chronicled the events of the great Boer raid, and indicated the steps by which it had been marked, culminating in the attack on gallant Colonel Dalgety and his stout colonials at Wepener. The enemy were playing avery bold game, which could only be justified by success. They elected to attack a small and well-posted garrison on the very frontier of Basutoland, where, if they should be defeated, it seemed that all their much-vaunted mobility would scarcely suffice to save them from disaster. They had Lord Roberts with his great army in a position to threaten their flank and rear, with a railway for his supplies, and nothing wanting to the efficiency of his forces when once the horse difficulty had been got over. We in England, perhaps, expected events to move with great rapidity, but military movements are rarely rapid, and in all our wars there have been inevitable waits and pauses. The movements of the troops were greatly impeded by the weather. Deluges of rain descended upon the veldt, swelling the rivers and spruits to the volume of torrents, and making the roads almost impassable. The camps were flooded, and the greatest discomfort prevailed. Nothing is better testi­mony to the grand qualities of our troops than the cheerful­ness and spirit with which they have done then work amid the utmost disadvantages, and the wonder has been not at the events moving slowly, but that so much has been accomplished. It was reported that differences of opinion existed among the Boers as to whether they should continue their attack on Colonel Dalgety or not. They would undoubtedly gain much by snatching a victory at Wepener, where success would ado great deal to shake the confidence of the Orange State burghers in our power. On the other hand, the garrison in position at Jammersberg Drift was as tough even as that of Mafeking, while we were advancing along the roads from Rouxville and Reddersburg to the relief. The former force consisted of the remainder of General Brabant’s splendid colonials advancing to the help of their beleaguered comrades, followed by General Hart’s Brigade, which had shown such magnificent qualities in Natal. The column from Reddersburg under General Rundle made steady progress to Dewetsdorp. On April 20th the enemy were found in position athwart the road, and General Brabazon, by a clever turning movement with the cavalry, drove them back, while the Imperial Yeomanry seized an important hill, which they continued to hold. The force engaged was strong and mobile, but at night General Rundle encamped to await the arrival of his 16th Brigade, and the development of other operations. There was no real reason for hurry, for Colonel Dalgety, though heavily attacked, was holding out splendidly, and fresh forces were advancing to attack the Boers. General Rundle had with him the Third and Eighth Divisions, and General Pole-Carew was despatched from Bloemfontein, with two brigades of cavalry under General French, to his assistance. They marched 011 April 22nd, and the same night had advanced to Karreefontein without opposition, while Leeuw Kop, which the Boers had been holding, was captured. A beginning was thus well made 011 the march to Dewetsdorp, which is at a distance of about forty-five miles from Bloemfontein. The Strategical Plans. The object of these various movements was, of course, to encompass the Boers between Dewetsdorp and Wepener. Generals Brabant, Rundle, and Pole-Carew were advancing from three directions. General Brabant succeeded in out-w flanking the enemy at Bushman’s Kop, some miles south of Wepener, on April 22nd. It was a fine movement, anxiously watched by the Basutos from their hills beyond the border. Brabatft had advanced, keeping Basutoland close to his right Hank, and after a running fight, following upon a cautious movement, it was found that the enemy had abandoned their position 011 the Kop, and were in full retreat. The fighting was continued on the next day, but it was in a half-hearted fashion 011 the part of the Boers. The fact was that they had withdrawn apart of their force to meet General Rundle near Dewetsdorp, and that Wepener was practically relieved. But General Rundle was p'.aying a wailing game, remaining in the entrenched position 1 ij had chosen, and firing was continued on April 22nd and 23rd, little damage being done, and the Boer artillery being silenced. The enemy were in great force, and had evidently expected General Rundle to attack them. But the whole operation turned on the advance of Generals Pole-Carew and French from Bloemfontein. The force moved in two portions, General Stephenson, with the 18th Brigade, being on the left, and the Guards’ Brigade on the right, while General Dickson’s cavalry were making a wide sweep on General Stephenson’s left, and a corps of Mounted Infantry, under Colonel Alderson, was on the flank of the Guards. The first object was to drive the Boers from their line to the south of the Bloemfontein waterworks, and the operation was fully successful. General Stephenson was first in contact with the enemy on April 22nd, and the Welsh Regiment and the Warwickshires, advancing in gallant style, drove the enemy out of a strong position on a high kopje, which was abandoned by them with the loss of some ammu­nition. The Boers shelled the cavalry and mounted infantry, though with very bad aim, our 74th and 85th Batteries doing very good work against them. On the morning of April 23rd it was found that the height of Leeuw Kop had been evacuated, and that the enemy were trekking to the east. They were reported to be in strength at the waterworks, but had no force to resist the advance of General Rundle on the Dewets­ dorp road. General French sent the cavalry ahead, but the enemy seemed to be only in small numbers in that part of the country. Doubtless before these lines appear the effect of Lord Roberts’s combined movement will be known, and if the Boers escape him they will have accomplished one of the cleverest feats of the campaign. The war, however, has been fruitful in surprises, and to forecast the immediate future would be unwise. We may say that the soundest measures have been taken to ensure success,-and that a great victory would be of the utmost importance because of its effect upon the subsequent operations. These operations will take the form, no doubt, of a general advance 011 Kroonstad and Pretoria, and the advance will be fairly indirect character. The withdrawal of General Hart’s Brigade from Natal, with some other troops, and four batteries of artillery, would seem to show that the forces in the “Garden Colony,” which have suffered so much, are not destined to play a large part in the immediate movement. There has been no great activity on the part of the Boers in Natal since we wrote last. TheW ester nTh eatre of W ar.No immediate steps for the relief of Mafeking seem, as we write, possible. There was intense excitement in the place when Colonel Plumer was infighting the vicinity of Ramathlabama, for the garrison could hear the rattle of musketry and Maxims and the thunder of the guns. Great, “NAVY AND ARMY” IS FIRST AND FOREMOST AMONGST SIMILAR PUBLICATIONS.
Add Names

Disclaimer

We have sought to ensure that the content of this website complies with UK copyright law. Please note however, that we may have been unable to ascertain the rights holders of some items. Where we have digitised items, we have done so with items that to the best of our knowledge, following due investigations, are in the public domain. While the original works are in the public domain we reserve all rights to the usage of the digital works.

The document titled Under the Union Jack, No. 26, Vol. 2, May 5th 1900 is beneath this layer.

To view this document now, please sign up as a full access member.

Free Account Registration

Please enter your first name
Please enter your surname
Please enter a valid email address
Please enter your password
By creating an account you agree to us emailing you with newsletters and discounts, which you can switch off in your account at any time

Already a member? Log in now
Small Medium Large Landscape Portrait