Black and White Budget, Transvaal Special, No. 12, Vol. 41, December 30th 1899

Dec 30,1899 BLACK AND WHITE BUDGET 3 IN THE GRIP- 5 r O'.**•-------------------->Ort ®—<----------------------The reverse of General Gatacre at Stormberg has been followed by a serious check to Lord Methuen north of the Modder River, an engagement in which we have lost, among other brave officers and men, one of our most honoured Generals, and the Premier Marquis of England. It is gloomy news to receive about Christmastime but as we read of the bravery of all engaged—“ the dead, who died for England, the living, who happier lived, if happier be to live we feel a thrill of satisfaction, and a certain knowledge that such men must ultimately carryall before them. The enemy were entrenched in the Magersfontein Hills, and their front extended for about six miles towards the Modder River. It was necessary to dislodge them before the column could advance any further to the relief of Kimberley. The advance oi Lord Methuen’s full division began at dawn on the nth. The Highlanders were marched up to the foot of the kopje, thereto wait till the guns had paved the way for their assault. Not that they would wait, if they saw anyway of occupying their time and an opportunity occurred before it was light, of which they were not slow to avail themselves. This resulted in the capture of a Boer rifle pit and the first point was scored by our troops. With daylight, our thirty-eight guns began to speak, and never stopped all day, firing superbly, and doing damage of which we, have yet to learn, but which must have been enormous. The Highland Brigade was supported 011 the right by the Guards, and the Mounted Infantry and the 12th Lancers patrolled to the north. The attack of the Highland Brigade is thus described in the pithy phrase of Lord Methuen’s telegram:—“ Attack properly timed. Attack failed.” But it was more than the failure of an attack, for gallant General Wauchope, who was commanding the Brigade, one of the stoutest fighters England has ever had, fell in the action. The Gordons were sent at 1.15 to support the Highland Brigade, and made an heroic attempt to retrieve the failure they advanced to within a hundred and fifty yards of the enemy, but their Colonel was mortally wounded, and the attempt had to bi abandoned. At dusk the enemy seemed out,worn but so were our men. Human effort could do They fell asleep on the battlefield, and many seem to have been shot as they slept. It was a great battle against a brave and desperate enemy. We have no fear that Lord Methuen, who was able to entrench his position next day, will get to Kimberley yet but the Boers have given us a good fight, for which we honour them. From the central column the news since the Stormberg disaster has been more satis­factory. No serious developments have taken place. General Gatacre has not had to fallback far, and many of the missing men upturn daily. The Boers are obviously unable or disinclined to leave the strong position from which we were unable to dislodge them. Ladysmith has net yet been relieved, and so the serious check at Magersfontein lacks neutralisation. Sir Redvers Buller has met a disastrous reverse at Colenso, losing many men and guns but the news that Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener are now to take the campaign in hand will restore confidence in our arms, and bring hope to the weary waiters in the field. They will, no doubt, initiate anew and more cautious plan of attack. May success attend their efforts 1 There is no real cause for anxiety, though there maybe much for sorrow at the necessary loss of life. For, whatever bethe cost, the victory must be ours. Pray God it come speedily, and bring relief to the anxious watchers at home, whose hearts, are beating high for fathers, husbands and sons, spending their Christmas on the field of battle.
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