Black and White Budget, Transvaal Special, No. 5

BLACK AND WHITE BUDGET 3 ADVENTURE AND MISADVENTURE In our last number we treated of the splendid British victories at Glencoe, at Elandslaagte, and at Rietfontein. Since then an unfortunate reverse has happened to the British arms, a reverse, however, which has only deepened the determination o f the Empire to outfight to the finish. O f course the little-hearted Little Englanders cried out,“ I told you so !”when the news came that two British battalions had been captured by the enemy. But then we never hear of those Little Englanders doing so much as join the Volunteers, so what they know of military things is not worth knowing. W e undoubtedly suffered a reverse on the 30th of October, but, then, the 30th of October is only one day, and Sir Rcdvers Buller has plenty of time before him to sweep the Boers before him on his impetuous march to Pretoria. The way in which the disaster •occurred needs abut few words. Sir George White determined to reconnoitre and, perhaps, attack Joubert’s forces, which were threatening his position at Ladysmith from the north and north-east. On the night before his advance (i.e., on the 29th) he sent out a small column, amounting to slightly over a thousand men, to hold some hills to the left of the overground which The burial-ground at Dundee, where lies the hero of Glencoe he meant to march next day. This column consisted of four and a half companies of the Gloucesters, six companies of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, and the 10th Mountain Battery, all under Lieut.-Colonel Carleton. These marched towards Nickolson’s Nek, which they hoped to seize. But some Boers who were prowling about sent a few rifle­ shots which frightened the mules, and, to the dismay of the column, both the battery mules and the infantry ammunition mules stampeded and broke away, leaving the men only such cartridges as they carried in their pouches. A position was at once occupied on a neighbouring hill, and the dawn was awaited. It seems difficult to understand nohow communications were ordered to be kept up with the base of operations, for this mistake resulted next day in the capture of the whole column. The men gallantly kept their ground with what ammunition they had against the overwhelming numbers that surrounded them but at three in the afternoon the position was captured, and a thousand good soldiers were lost to Ladysmith. Fortunately the main body under Sir George White himself had greater success. The enemy were driven back several miles, heavy losses were inflicted by our splendid artillery, a reinforcement of bluejackets, with new quick-firing naval guns from Her M ajesty’s ships at Durban, came up in time to smashup some of the Boer guns and gunners, and the British force returned to camp in excellent spirits. Unlike the French Generals in the Franco-Prussian War, Sir George was not the man to claim a victory when he had not got one, or to send home boastful dispatches
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