Under the Union Jack, No. 28, Vol. 2, May 19th 1900

May 19,1900.} UNDER THE UNION JACK.- 65r BATTLING FOR EMPIRE. LORD ROBERTS’S ADVANCE. THE success which has attended the advance from Bloemfontein is new testimony to the military genius of Lord Roberts. H e waited until he was ready, and then acted with the same swiftness and power of command that marked his great advance upon Bloemfontein. Four distinct columns or bodies of troops have been operating, exclusive of those in Rhodesia and Natal, and their move­ments have all been co-ordinated to the same purpose, the initial movement culminating in the occupation of W inburg and Smaldeel. These are two extremely important places for the further advance upon Kroonstadt, one being the terminus of the branch railway to the east, the other the place where it joins the trunk line from Bloemfontein. Lord Roberts’s advance was so rapid and so well conceived that the flying Boers were unable to concentrate in our direct front, with the result that they have been broken up and have retired north­ward, showing very little stomach for fighting. It will bethe best plan here,in order to give an intelligent account of operations, to deal with the achievements of three of the columns individually. The advance of the centre, which brought about the capture of Brandfort, really began on the last day of April, when General W avell’s brigade marched out from Karee, Bruce Ham ilton’s from Glen, and M axwell’s from Krantz Kraal, while Broadwood with his cavalry and two-horse batteries was on the right at Holzhuisfontein, and, outstretching further in that direction, was very soon in touch with the column of HamiltonIan then advancing from Thaba Nchu, and helped him to complete the victory at Iloutnek, which will soon be referred to. The movement of the troops on Brandfort was rapid and decisive, and that place, which is about one-third of the distance from Bloemfontein to Kroonstad, was occupied without much opposition on May 3rd. The capture of the position resulted from the splendid combined movement, admirably executed. It had been the intention of the Boers to offer a strong resistance at Brand­ fort, where they appear to have concentrated about 4,000 Amen. precipitate retreat, however, followed. General Pole-Carew advanced in the centre, the brigade of Inigo Jones forming his right, and that of Stevenson his left. The left flank was covered by General Hutton’s brigade of mountry infantry, while the right wing of the advance was composed of the two brigades of General Tucker’s division, with Bruce Ham ilton’s mounted forces. While the mounted infantry on the right advanced along a series of kopjes, the first offensive operation was the attack of the 1st Scots Guards and the 1st Coldstreams. These expected sturdy opposition, but were disappointed, for the enemy withdrew. General Pole-Carew advanced in gallant style, and the sight of the great force moving across the open veldt seems to have appalled the Boers. They were evidently afraid of being taken in the rear, and therefore lost no time in getting away, our mounted infantry hotly pursuing, but scarcely gaining touch with them. They had been unable to withstand the tremendous shrapnel or the concentration of force, and though there were some attempts to delay us, the enemy had disappeared from Brandfort when our mounted infantry marched in at about 2 p.m. on May 3rd. General Tucker was more stoutly opposed, but nothing could withstand his advance, and Brand­ fort was secured. The Fight at the Vet River. The troops rested on the 4th, and on the next day pushed forward to the Vet River, Pole-Carew division’s leading the way. It had been along march for our men of nineteen miles, but shortly after midday the West Australians, who were scouting ahead of the troops, came in contact with the enemy, who were holding the river. A fierce artillery duel ensued. Later in the day the Naval 12-pounders and 47m .guns, with two 5m. siege-guns arrived, and the firing con­tinued until sunset. Meanwhile General Hutton had made a detour to the west, had found adrift, and had crossed, thus threatening the Boer right flank. At about this time also the Boers received intelligence of the successful movement of HamiltonIan on our right. When, therefore, General Hutton engaged them, and they were subjected to a tremendous bombardment, they made the best of their way to escape, and the whole of the advancing force subsequently crossed the river. The movement had been triumphantly successful, and the troops, after resting on the 6th at the Vet River, marched to Smaldeel. No opposition was offered, and a large quantity of railway material, forage, and corn was captured. The immediate purpose of the seizure of this railway junction, combined with the advance of HamiltonIan toW ynburg, was to cutoff the Boers in the Ladybrand and Ficksburg* districts from any chance of recreating by the railway. The bridge over the Vet River had been hopelessly destroyed and the railway damaged, but Colonel Girouard, with a construction train, has gone to the front, and the engineers were busy making good the damage done. One Maxim gun was captured. A further advance has since been made by General Hunter, who pushed forward to the Zand River and found the Boers prepared to resist the passage. Troops were being hurried up in support on May 8th and 9th. The Fig h ting March o f HamiltonIan .As we have said, Lord Roberts’s advance was indirect relation with the movements of the other columns, and his trojps worked hand in hand with those which HamiltonIan led victoriously from Thaba Nchu toW inburg. At the former place, Sir Leslie Rundle was engaging the attention of a large number of Boers, who were then manoeuvring to the east, and General Brabant reinforced him from the Wepener district, the Boers soon afterwards disappearing. W e recorded last week the action which HamiltonIan had some miles north of Thaba Nchu, at Houtnek, on May 1st. H mete with great success, and drove out the enemy with comparatively small loss to us. They fled to the east and north. Broadwood’s cavalry arrived on the scene to complete the victory by threatening the enemy’s rear, and HamiltonIan was also reinforced by Bruce Hamilton’s infantry brigade. A large number of foreigners were inaction against us, and Lieutenant Gunther, a German, was killed, while Maximoff, the Russian commander of the Foreign Legion, was wounded. The honour of giving the final stroke to the enemy fell to the gallant Gordons and to two companies of the Shropshire Light Infantry, who rushed forward cheering and drove out the laggards. On May 4th HamiltonIan made a further advance toward the Little Vet River, and had an important success in preventing the junction of the two Boer forces by a well- executed movement, carried out by some of the Household Cavalry, the 12th Lancers, and Kitchener’s Horse. These were able to charge home, as is believed for the first time in this war, and the enemy fled in terror, leaving their dead and wounded behind. The Black Watch also greatly distinguished themselves. On the next day General Hamilton pushed forward and occupied W inburg, thus coming into touch with General Tucker, and, though not directly outflanking the “UNDER THE UNION JACK’’—PHOTOS. OF ALL THE GENERALS AT THE FRONT.
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