Black and White Budget, Transvaal Special, No. 15, Vol. 41, January 20th 1900

BLACK AND WHITE BUDGET Jan. 20,1900 NOTES O’ WAR The Staff College will not be opened this year after the usual vacation. Two-thirds of the “students" being' in South Africa, it is thought best to g'ive the remaining third a holiday. W e are inclined to agree with the card-player who thus expressed his view of the war “The Boers,” he said, “have been bluffing us all along. They have been playing poker, and we have been playing patience.” A cir eat deal is expected o f the corps o f gillies and stalkers from Highland Estates which Lord Lovat has organised. The Highlanders (150 in number) will be mounted on their sturdy little ponies, and will start immediately for South Africa. The ant-hills in South Africa cause serious annoy­ance not only to the soldier from home, but even to the experienced Colonial. In the dark they look exactly like men crouching down, andan unoffending ant-hill has frequently been ordered to “advance and give the countersign.” However, they have their compensa­tions, for they make excellent camp ovens for cooking Tommy’s dinner. The great amusement at Ladysmith is to setup straw figures for the Boers to waste their ammunition on. Once a Lancer of straw was seton a rock to draw the enemies’ lire. Its composure so exasperated the enemy that they even turned, one of their big guns onto it. Another time a bogus battery was run up in the night and the Boers blazed awav lor hours at lay figures and imitation 15-pounders before they found out that they were mistaken. I then case of soldiers serving in the field the opera­tion of the Wills Act of 1837 is suspended. In conse­quence of this it is open to a soldier to make his will on the battlefield byword of mouth, or he can write it on apiece of paper, in which case witnesses are not necessary. You will find many of these pathetic missives in Somerset House— dirty scraps of paper with a scrawl written in the agonies of death. One officer who died in India had merely written that he left all his property to his “dear sister,” but not all the judges and lawyers in the land could upset the will, even if they cared to try. Tommy does not often grumble publicly, but he cannot ‘altogether understand why the kilt regiments get all the credit of an action. We fear the naughty newspaper correspondents are to blame in some measure! D argai is a particularly sore spot, and probably nine out of every ten people imagine that it was quite a Scottish event, whereas the Derbyshire and other English regiments took part in the charge.“ B ut,” as a Derbyshire man wrote, “you can call your regiment the Queen’s Own Royal West Lincoln Regiment or some other name, and the kilts-will-put them in the dark.” Magersfontein, however, was a decided kilt affair, it will be admitted ?Only those who have had dealings with a cavalry regiment can realise the depth of affection that exists between the trooper and his horse. There are hundreds of horses being killed in the current war, and some­times it falls to the lot of the trooper to put his wounded horse out of misery. There are some men who can’t do it. After the charge at Omdurman of the 21st Lancers, some of the horses had to be shot. One man withstood a revolver for several moments beside his horse, which sniffed and tried to rub its nose against his sleeve. It was only after a great effort, and with con­siderable emotion, that the trooper raised his hand and fired the fatal but kindly shot. The Postal authorities have done well to allow Tommy to send his letters home with an English penny stamp on them. Some stamped envelopes would bean excellent present for the troops. W e have had a good deal to show us that the Boers are not nearly so behind the times as was once sup­posed. But the following sentence from a letter from Ladysmith is certainly an eye-opener :—“The Boers have stretched wires across the roads, which ring electric bells near the pickets when they are touched.” Cigarettes appear to be much in demand at the front. A Tommy is said to have bartered a horse he had just captured for one cigarette. People must not get tired of sending out presents because the war drags on. It would abe good idea to send tobacco to fill the thousand pipes a generous French firm has sent to our soldiers. A good illustration of the different methods adopted by the German army officials to what our War Office follows is the case of Colonel Baden-Powell’s book on. scouting. This was on sale to our soldiers at the pub­lished price, but immediately it came out it was trans­lated, published, and issued free of charge to every soldier in the German army. A coon deal of discomfort, and even worse, seems to have been caused the Highlanders at Magersfontein by reason of the hot sun beatingon their legs. A corporal in the Seaforths writes :—“We have a good number of men sick, especially with burnt legs. The sun fairly cooked the back of our legs 011 Monday, and I am afraid some of the men will be lamed for life.” Mrs .Han lon has been raised from the depths of despair to the height of rejoicing. She was recently notified by the War Office that her husband, James Hanlon, ot the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, had been killed at Stormberg on December ioth. Imagine her joy a few days later when she received a letter from her husband, dated December 12th, giving a list of killed and wounded in his regiment, and stating that he had escaped uninjured. I t is admitted that Sir George White made a great tactical mistake in not destroying all the bridges in his retreat to Ladysmith. If this had been done the Boers- would have never got any of their big guns into Natal, while their means of communication would have been much interrupted. As it is, they are running trains direct to Pretoria, while it is certain that they will themselves destroy the bridges in retreating. O f course, like other people, Sir George White thought the enemy would not be able to cross and hold the frontier. The stories of looting by British soldiers should not be credited till substantial evidence has been advanced. At Ladysmith the troops have been specially versed on the point, and every General, from Wellington downwards, has taken care to prevent crimes of that kind. The Duke was particularly severe, as an inci­dent of the Peninsular War illustrates. The soldiers began to “annex ”eatables from the Portuguese, and (some went“ pig-hunting” by moonlight, and accident­ally killed several of their comrades. Wellington was very angry, and he made it death for any soldier to steal. Soon after he happened to meet a soldier with a !sack of Hour. “Hallo, my son,” said the General, I “where have you got that ?”“Prom the mill yonder, my lord.” “Did you pay for it-'” “No, my lord,” j There was an instant’s pause, and Wellington said, j “ Provost-Marshal, do your duty.” The man was hanged on the spot, and there was moreno pilfering while Wellington commanded.
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