Under the Union Jack, No. 30, Vol. 2, June 2nd 1900

BATTLING FOR EMPIRE. M A FE KING RELIEVED! June 2,1900.- ]UNDER THE UNION JACK. 699 THE delight of the Empire at the relief of Mafeking knew no bounds, and properly so. The staid citizen was as ready as the schoolboy to throw his hat into the air. The sound of jubilation was in every ear, and the whole land was gay with the fluttering of (lags in token of a people’s rejoicing. No one who has witnessed this outburst of patriotic thankfulness for the accomplishment of a work •well done, and for the relief of the beleaguered garrison of Mafeking, will ever forget it to his dying day. It is a memory that will inspire the young, and be treasured by generations yet to come. Englishmen have often done such deeds before. Lucknow leaps to the lips. W e think of Butler and Nasm yth at Silistria, of Fenwick William sat K ars, of Gordon at Khartoum, and of White at Ladysm ith. But there was something in the defence of that open town in the South African veldt by Baden-Powell that -appealed even more to the sympathies of his countrymen. It had ahvays been felt that if Mafeking fell there would be national humiliation, and the fortunes of the sturdy garrison were watched with the keenest and most anxious interest as the news of their hardships and their achievements filtered through. There was confidence that so long as food and ammunition existed the Boers would never subdue the men of Mafeking, but it was realised that there was a limit to human endurance, and that if relief did not come very soon the place must assuredly fall. At the end of February the garrison were reduced to horseflesh and to bread made from horse forage, while typhoid and dysentery were decimating them, and laying low many of the women whose courage and devotion it may truly be said made the defence of the place possible. As we write, the full story of how the defence was prolonged has not been told, and we are left to surmise how really severe was the strain. Nothing is so remarkable in this great siege as the unbroken military spirit manifested by the garrison. Major- General Baden-Powell, worthily promoted for the glorious service he had rendered, was the inspiring spirit. His was the cheery personality that gave life to the defence. Without such a man it could not have been prolonged, and it is worthy of note that the garrison did not consist of seasoned soldiers, but mostly of Colonial levies, and that the charge of a large native population rested in the hands of the officer commanding. Although, perhaps, it would be incorrect to describe the defence as a great military achievement, it was a marvellous example of fertility of resource, of fortitude, and of confidence. Only a most able officer could have done what was done by Major-General Baden-Powell. He not only sustained the spirits of the garrison, but he met the Boers upon their, own ground and defeated them with their own tactics, whenever they made a stroke was ready with a counter-stroke, and not seldom anticipated their action. His was no passive defence he was ever ready to harass them by some successful operation, and his latest achievements, on May 13th and 17th, were bright examples of his military skill. The flying column by which Mafeking was relieved was commanded by Colonel Mahon, and included the whole of the Imperial Light Horse, with the Kimberley Mounted Corps, certain other troops, and some Royal Horse Artillery, and had a number of light waggons for supplies. The greatest secresy attended its movements, and almost the whole of the information possessed by the public concerning it came through from the Boers. The column left Barkly Weston May 4th, and marched with great rapidity, covering about twenty-five miles a Everyday. point had been care­fully thought out, and nothing went wrong from start to finish. After passing west of Spitz Kop, it was at Taungs, 011 the Hart’s River, on May 7th. A rapid march was then made, leaving Pudimoe 011 the right. V ryburg was reached after hard marching, mostly in the night, on the gth or ioth, and at five o’clock on the ioth the column marched forward to Majana Mabili, about seventy-two miles south of Mafeking. Parties of Boers were about the country, but did not venture an attack. Colonel Mahon was somewhat seriously engaged with a party of the enemy in thick bush on May 13th. The action took place near K raai Pan, the scene of the destruc­tion of the armoured train at the beginning of the war last October. Five men were killed, two were missing, and twenty-four were wounded, among the latter being Major Mullens, Imperial Light Horse, Captain M axw ell, Kimberley Mounted Corps, and Mr. Hands, the correspondent of the Daily Mail, but the Boers lost more seriously. It was upon the same day that M ajor-General Baden- Powell achieved a great and striking success. The Boers at length emboldened themselves to make a desperate attack, and before dawn about 250 of them, led by Eloff, said to abe grand­son of President Kruger, rushed the picquets and got into the native stad, which they seton fire. They had advanced from the westward along the valley of the Molopo River, awhile strong demonstration was made from the other side. They soon found themselves in a trap. The Baralongs in,closed and the picquets rallied, with men from the forts, and the enemy’s advanced guard was cutoff and the main body repulsed. E lo ff then rushed for the Protectorate fort, and overpowered the garrison. In the dark his men had got separated, and a strong party of the defenders was pushed in between them. They were surrounded, and desperate fighting followed, which continued all day. One party in the native stad capitulated at noon, and at nightfall Eloff, after firing on his own men who deserted him, surrendered to Colonel More, whom he had made his prisoner, while another party was driven back under a heavy fire. Prisoners to the number of 108 were taken, including Eloff, nine officers, seventeen Frenchmen, and many Germans. On our side, six men were killed, and two officers and about nine men wounded. At this time, Colonel Mahon’s column was rapidly advancing. A Boer commando followed it from Maritsani Siding, and it turned westward to avoid an action, joining Colonel Plum er’s forces at Jam m assibi’s, about twenty-five miles west of M afeking, on May 15th. There was ‘heavy fighting nine miles from the town on the 17th, when the Boers were driven from a strong position after five hours’ fighting. The troops displayed splendid qualities, and the Canadian Artillery, which came down by forced marches from Beira, rendered valuable service. The game was up for the Boers at Mafeking, and they fled from the business that had occupied them for about 215 days, and the flying column marched in at 9 a.m. 011 May 17th. It is not difficult to imagine what were the feelings of the garrison and their relievers. It was a moving scene that must make a mark in the history of the Empire. The full extent of the sacrifice that had been imposed, the losses from disease and from bullets will soon be known. W e cannot measure the defence of Mafeking by the military advantages it gives us, though these may not be inconsiderable. It was essentially amoral victory, for the heroism and downright courage of M ajor-General Baden- Powell and his comrades were of a sort which everyone could understand, and the enthusiasm to which the relief has given rise is a healthy sign in the life of the Empire. The Boers were not to depart without having another taste of the gallant Baden-Pow eil’s qualities. Scarcely had the combined force marched in than it marched out again, and attacked the enem y’s head laager as they were about “UNDER THE UNION JACK” HAS BEEN REPRINTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
Add Names


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. 30, Vol. 2, June 2nd 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