Black and White Budget, No. 19, Vol. II, February 17th 1900

Feb. i 7,1900 BLACK AND WHITE BUDGET “BLUE -LIGHT BOBS ”MORE details of the defcnce of, and retirement from, Spion Kop have come to hand since last week. It appears that it was Colonel Thorney- croft, of the Mounted Infantry, who succeeded General Woodgate in command of the force which had seized the hill-top, and that he defended the position, while it appeared tenable, with conspicuous gallantry and courage, and that he retired at the right moment, in the right manner, and with the approval of a General whose praise is worth having. Colonel Thorney- croft— or Major Thorneycroft, ashe still is officially— has added by this service to laurels won in the Zulu and previous Transvaal wars. The whole retreat south of the Tugela was conducted in the same masterly manner. There was no panic. The enemy, taught to respect us, were not allowed to press. General Lyttel­ ton, with the Light Brigade, held the head of the bridge, and, when all the troops had crossed, himself followed. The whole movement was carried out as if on the parade-ground. What is to bethe next move in Natal we cannot say. We can only hope that Sir Redvers Buller will be as good as his (reported) word. If he docs not succeed it will not be for want either of precaution or of skill. It will merely mean that the enemy are too many and in too good a position for us. The Intelligence Department in Natal, ably organised by Colonel Sandbach, has been providing us with some inte­resting information as to the strength and dis­position of the Boer forces. It appears that 7,coo men are watching Ladysm ith, and that the same number are occupying the trenches that lie across General Bullcr’s path while 5,coo are being kept in reserve. That is to say, 12.000 men will meet our army whenever it attacks on ground of their own choosing. To dislodge them would require— according to modern military theory— 36,000 men. Yet troops have ceased passing from CapeTown to Durban. Can it be that the relief of Ladysm ith —the comparatively trivial importance of which we pointed outlast week—has been abandoned in favour of some larger and colder plan? It looks like it. Yet there is no need to take it for granted that because Lord Roberts is planning a march to Bloemfontein General Buller need remain idle. He has 35,000 men with him, and there are 10.000 shut up in Ladysm ith. The Boers in Natal arc the flower of their army. It is obviously the cue of the British General to keep these men occupicd. A turning movement on the Fast might be as unsuccessful as the turning move­ment on the West, but it will not be action wasted if it is carried outwith the same dash and determination. A t the least the Boers will suffer and be chained to Natal, while they are itching to look after the unexpected movements about Colesberg and on the Free State Border. A t the most Ladysm ith will be relieved. Let us hope for the most. Whatever may bethe reason, the Boers in Natal are getting anxious. Every available bit of cannon from Pretoria has been sent to the front, and the forts in the Transvaal capital are said to be completely denuded. The Boers are also said to be removing guns from Magersfontein toN orval’s Pont. This bridge is on the line from Colesbe-g to Bloem­fontein. The Boers seem to be expecting an advance in that direction, and as far as we can see. they will not be disappointed. General Brabant, whom Lord Roberts has made a Brigadier-General, made a spccch the other day at Queenstown, the base for Sterkstroom and the Stormbcrg district, which made it clear that the north of the Cape was going to sec the develop­ment of a big attacking plan of the Field- Marshal. “The glutton for fighting,” he said, “will be amply satisfied.” Generals French, K clly-K en n andy Gatacre are in splendid positions to clear the way for an advance into the Free State. They ought to be able to command the Orange River at more points than one. “Bobs ”is evidently going to give the soldiers a big lead soon, and they will be glad to take it. the“’E’s Duke of g‘Ag y Chel,” theE’s man as done us well,And we’ll follow him to ’ell, Our Bobs.” No confirmation has come of the relief of Mafeking, but it appears that all is well with the “healthy and cheerful” garrison. Kimberley 'still stands, and may yet bethe first to be relieved, if it be true that “Fighting Mac ”is moving. Cronjc, like Joubcrt, seems uncertain I whether to keep all his men to hold Lord Methuen in check or tugo off to prevent the ,invasion of the Free State. Whatever move the Boers make, they will uncover aline of attack. B they 1st of March we shall have more than one hundred thourand men in South Africa. This number of men ought to be able to take advantage of such a dilemma, especially |under the direction of“ Blue-light Bobs.”
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