Black and White Budget, No. 17, Vol. II, February 3rd 1900

Feb. 3,1900 BLACK AND WHITE BUDGET 3 FORWARD! “We are going to the relief o four comrades in Lad ysm ith ,and there will be no turning back.” With these spirited words did Sir R edvers B uller steel the hearts o f his soldiers for the advance which, anxious yet hopeful, we are now following with eager anticipation. But it was not with words alone that the General prepared for the great move on which hangs the speedy termination o f the war, or long months o f horrible suspense. “Deeds and words ”must bethe motto o f a successful General. Last week we were able to get a glimpse o f thew ell-laid plans for develop­ing an attack on the western flank o f the enemy. This week, as we follow our gallant soldiers chasing the enemy from ridge to ridge, till the beleaguered garrison o f Lad ysm ith can hear the welcome roar o f friendly artillery, we are able to appreciate the excellence o f General B uller’s dispositions, and to see that his words were not vain boasting. The first success, after the initial achievement o f crossing the river, was Lord D undonald’s skirmish at Acton Holmes. It was more im­portant than appeared from the brief report sent home, for it gave anus established position in kopjes well on the enem y’s flank. The burden o f the fight was borne by the Imperial Light Horse and the Kin g’s Royal Rifles, awhile de­tachment o f the 1st Dragoons afforded a valuable reinforcement. The great obstacle, however, in the way o f the advance was the strong Boer outpost on Spion K op. Spion K o pis the topmost point o f a plateau whose average height is four thousand five hundred feet, and which is five or six miles long and about three wide, extending from a point about three miles north o f Wagon Drift to Acton Homes. The kop itself is about six hundred feet above the valley of'the Blaauw bank Spruit, through which runs the obvious road from Acton Homes to Lad ysm ith thus artillery in position on Spion K o p will be able to cover the main advance. On Tuesday, January 23rd, we heard that Sir R edvers Buller had determined that his left wing, under Sir Charles Warren, should capture this position. On Wednesday no news arrived, and the suspense was acutely felt. Watchers at the War Office wore strained and anxious faces. Next day, however, came the welcome news that Spion K o wasp ours. It has fallen easily, the Boers evidently hoping to make the place too hot for us by a bombardment from the hills to the East. They were not successful but they evidently gave us avery hard fight. Sir Charles Warren, who is to be trusted, says that he has rendered the enem y’s position untenable. I f this be so, the developments during the next few days are likely to be interesting and welcome. “The men are splendid.” S o says the official report o f the fight for Spion K o p .We can well believe it. Meanwhile, continual fighting has been ongoing all along the line o f advance. Trench after trench is being gained, often with regrettable loss— such as the death o f Major Childe, o f the South African Light Horse— but always with the grim determination born o f the knowledge that “there will be no going back.” W e must expect loss in this campaign in Natal. The crisis of the war lies between Lad ysm ith and sp earm an ’sCam op.T follow the advance clearly, the various position o f the troops in General B uller’s com­mand must be kept in mind. Where his reserves are, or whether he has any, we do not know, but, with the exception o fan unplaced three or four thousand men, the disposition is as follows C:—At hieveley— that is on the right wing— is General Barton, who has four or five thousand men another four or five thousand men arc with General Lyttleton in the centre, in front o f Pot- gieter’s Drift while the chief attack is developing on the left, where General Warren occupies the Spion K o p plateau with twelve to fifteen thousand men. These are the troops who are now busily, and apparently successfully, marching to the relief of Ladysm ith. Sir George White and his gallant garrison must bean xio u sly awaiting them, for the ravages o f disease are making themselves sadly felt. One o f the last victim sis Mr. G. W. Steevens— perhaps the best known o fall the war correspondents, a young oman f undoubted genius, whose death will remove a friend of many who never knew him, and o fall who did. Kimberley, where the D e Beers Company has done splendid work in helping to provision the garrison and improve the defences, and M afeking, where Colonel Baden-Pow ell still keeps his troops cheerful and contented, still holdout. In the North, Colonel Plum eris making useful reconnaissances. All operations now show a m aster-hand at the Whelm. e hear little that is ongoing but all we do hear is o f such a nature as to inspire con­fidence. Forward !is our watchword now but every step is carefully considered, that there need be no going back.
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