Black and White Budget, Transvaal Special, No. 14, Vol. 41, January 13th 1900

JAN. 13,1900 BLACK AND WHITE BUD GET 3 THE TURN OF THE TIDE THOUGH we are still waiting for news of really important and critical operations in South Africa, which may come any minute, now that Sir Charles Warren’s Division has reinforced General Buller, there are yet signs to show that the swing of the pendulum has begun. These may, like by-elections, point to nothing in par­ticular but to those who have followed the war carefully they at least mean this—that we are learning the secrets of Boer strategy, and can,on occasion, beat them at their own game. General French may not have enough troops to reap the fruits of his successful manoeuvring, and Lieutenant -Colonel Pilcher’s successful engagement may not abe great victory but both officers deserve well of their country in having given an object-lesson of which few can doubt the significance. Early on the morning of New Year’s Day General French, who had left Rensburg the day before, defended by half the 1st Suffolk and a section of the Royal Horse Artillery, surprised the outposts of the Boers round Colesberg, and succeeded, after a three hours’ artillery duel, in driving them from their position. The troops with General French were five squadrons, half of the 2nd Berkshire, eighty mounted infantry, and ten guns. But the main attack on the Boer position was not the chief feature of the action. General French had determined to secure the fruits as well as the prestige of victory, and had sent Rimington’s Scouts to Auchterlang to cutoff the retreat eastward, while he himself blocked the roads to the north. The Boers wisely refrained from attempting to cut their throughway General French’s cordon, and have again reoccupied the heights of Colesberg, and shown by a renewed fire that their guns were not dis­abled, as seems to have been at first expected. General French is in such a splendid position now that— if the reinforcements he wants come up in time—he should secure a smashing victory, which will abe great boom to wavering loyalists in the North of Cape Colony. As it is, he has done much to restore confidence in the British arms in those parts. As for General Gatacre, he is in a strong position, and should be able to push forward soon. He has already regained command of the railway to Indwe. The reported move of the Boers on Molteno probably means nothing but if it is true it is to be welcomed. Lieutenant-Colonel Pilcher’s success at Sunny- side is most inspiriting, and is especially satis­factory as showing what splendid stuff the Colonial troops are made of. The troops which took part in it were 200 Queenslanders under Colonel Ricardo, 100 Canadians, with two guns and a horse-battery under Major de Rougement, 40 Mounted Infantry and 200 Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. The attack was a surprise for the Boers, as Colonel Pilcher had wisely taken the precaution of shutting up all natives, so that they could carry no news of his movements to the enemy, and its tactics were excellent, con­sisting of a carefully-planned combination of a flanking with a frontal movement. The Canadians did the flanking, and doubled into action with great satisfaction and numerous cries of “At last! ”The Queenslanders worked steadily from the front towards the Boer position, later in the engagement moving well to the left, and so enclosing the Boers between two fires. Their work was excellent, as they fired steadily and took advantage of every bit of cover, chatting and laughing merrily as they advanced. Their coolness was too much for the Boers, who abandoned their laager and forty prisoners, and *left six killed and twelve wounded on the field. Our casualties were three wounded and one missing. As a result of this most satisfactory action, Colonel Pilcher has occupied Douglas, and done much to restore confidence in Griqua- land West. General Methuen’s position on the Modder River is a strong one, and if, as seems likely, Kimberley can holdout, there is no need for him to move northwards just yet. Indeed, it would probably be of great help to General Gatacre if he turned his forces southwards. In Natal it is obviously incumbent on General Buller to push on, for Ladysmith seems to be suffering somewhat more than it did in the earlier stages of the siege. No doubt before this appears an important battle will have been fought. Everywhere things look more promising than they did a fortnight ago. Let us hope that the turn of the tide has come at last.
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