Black and White Budget, No. 18, Vol. II, February 10th 1900

Fe k .io, 1900 BLACK AND WHITE BUDGET• 4 J >“NO CHANGE IN OUR jubilation last week at the result o f the attack on Spion K o p received a rude shock almost as soon as it was written. The news that General Wood gate’s successor had had to abandon the position, and that in con­sequence the whole turning movement had to be given up and the T u gela re-crossed, came as an unwelcome surprise— yet not entirely unlooked for by those who wondered at the speedy retirement o f the Boers from their trenches on the hilltop. Yet we venture to think that the satisfaction o f “the man in the street,” on which we reflected last week, had really more reason than the despondency which pre­vailed fora few days after the news o four check. T o begin with, the fighting that took place between January 20th and 25th, though we have little detail o fit, must have been worthy o f the best annals o f the British Army. The storming o f the precipitous hillside by the 2nd Came- ronians and 3rd Kin g’s Royal Rifles was evidently a fine display, and the desperate attempt o f the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, the 2nd M iddlesex, and Thorneycroft’s Horse to hold the hill, won praise from commanding officer and enemy alike. The retirement, that most trying o fall military movements, was splendidly conducted. And General Buller seems, even from Boer reports, to have been right in his surmise that the enemy has been taught to respect our soldiers’ fighting powers. Besides the fighting, however, the gallantry of which we can generally take for granted, the total effect seem snot so unsatisfactory as it looked at first. General Buller, with a splendid moral courage which gave him strength to neglect his words, “there will be no turning back,” has by his prompt retirement saved awing o f his army from a grave disaster, and has drawn back for afresh assault on the Boers with added knowledge and equal determination. In the spirit o f the phrase, there will be 110 turning back. W e cannot predict the result against so brave, so determined, and so skilful an enemy as the Boers but we may say with certainty that Sir Redvers B uller is in abetter position than he was before he crossed the T ugcla, and may very well yet ca rryo u this hope o f relieving Lad ysm ith within the next fortnight. The relief o f that unfortunate garrison seems to become more a point o f honour for the British Arm yin South Africa, as the effort becomes more difficult and the hopeless keen. How ­ever trivial the Spion K o p affair may look when the whole history o f the war comes to be written, think what it meant for those poor fellows listening eagerly to the firing from the entrenchments of THE SITUATION.”*+------------- Ladysm ith. While disease and a consequent despondency, the twin enemies o f a beleaguered town, a thousand times more terrible than the shells and bullets o f the enemy, arc wasting the soldiers, and undermining their spirits, suddenly they arc uplifted b y hearing for the first time the sound o f friendly guns approaching. Addresses o f welcome are prepared for the advancing deliverers. Lad ysm ith rouses her­self with a bustle o f excitement to receive her guests. Officers and men crowd to the points o f vantage, and with fast-beating hearts scan the horizon. Who will be"the first to seethe men in khaki swinging down the Clydesdale Road, or rounding the hills o f Onderbrook Alas? !the firing sinks from a duet to a solo. There is no sign o f Boers fleeing to the North. Relief will not come to-day, nor yet to-morrow, and the old monotonous seige-life must continue. T h isis the picturesque and sentimental side o f the "natter. But the spirits o f the men are still good and the “Boers have not done with them yet,” and from a military point o f view, though the fall o f Lad ysm ith would abe o #^<disaster, its relief is not an immediate necessity. It keeps a large Boer Commando in Natal, and the Boers want men even more than we do. If Lord Roberts is able to advance now from the Cape in great force, as seems probable, the Boers in Natal will be placed in a dilemma. Develop­ments are taking place in the Colony although officially there is no change in the situation, and movements maybe expected which will be anxiously followed in the daily papers before this chronicle o f the situation appears. The forces in the North o f Cape Colony have been considerably strengthened by the arrival o f General Kelly -Kenny with the Sixth Division at Thebus, which lies between the positions of Generals French and Gatacre. News o f fighting outside Natal is scarce. Rum ours come from the North which show that Colonel Plum eris active, if he has not actually relieved M afeking. From R ensburg we hear o f a successful reconnaissance by General French near the Free State frontier. TheW iltshires were chosen to make an attack on the enem y’s position, and they acquitted themselves with credit in their baptism of fire. Our casualties were only half a dozen wounded, the Boers appearing to .be flurried and shooting wildly. The marching o four men was good, over forty miles being covered in two days. Thus, though “there is no change in the sLua- tion,” preparations for a change are everywhere apparent. Let us hope that the change, when it does come, will be for the better,
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