The siege of Ladysmith will long remain in the memories of the age. The annals of war furnish the record of many fierce struggles, in which men and women have undergone sufferings more terrible and possibly shown a devotion rising to sublimer heights. But the Boer War of 1899-1900 will mark an epoch, and throughout its opening stage of four months the minds of men, and the hopes and fears of the whole British race, centred upon the little town in mid-Natal where Sir George White with his army maintained a valiant resistance against a strenuous and determined foe without, and disease and hunger and death within, until, to use his own words, that slow-moving giant John Bull should pass from his slumber and bestir himself to take back his own. For that reason alone the story of Ladysmith will remain memorable. But it is a story which is brilliant in brave deeds, which tells of danger boldly faced, of noble self-sacrifice to duty, in calm endurance of many and growing evils—a story worth the telling. Yet so far it has been told only in the necessarily disjointed telegrams and letters of the press correspondents in the town. Native runners who were captured and otherwise went astray, and the ruthless pencil of the censor, were accountable for many gaps. Two or three of the letters contained in the following pages escaped these perils, and were published in the columns of the Daily News. The rest of the book now appears for the first time.
The volume consists of pages from the letters and diaries of Mr. Henry H.S. Pearse, the Special Correspondent of the Daily News. Mr. Pearse was in Natal when the war broke out, and he was in Ladysmith during the whole of the siege. He was fortunate enough to enjoy good health throughout, and though he had some narrow escapes he was never hit. His letters contain a complete story of the siege.