ON September 8th, 1899, the British Government announced that with 7,000 men from India our force in Natal would speedily be 10,000, under Major General Sir Wm. Penn Symons, K.C.B. General Sir George White, V.C., arrived at Durban on Oct. 7th, to assume command in Natal, and now came the first plan of campaign.
At Pittermaritzburg—1st Battalion Manchester Regiment, and Mounted Infantry Company, 2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps.
At Estcourt — Detachment Natal Naval Volunteers, Natal Royal Rifles.
At Colmso—Durham Light Infantry.
At Ladysmith—5th Lancers, Detachment 19th Hussars, Brigade Division, Royal Artillery; 10th Mountain Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery; 23rd Company, Royal Engineers; 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment; 1st Battalion Liverpool Regiment, and Mounted Infantry Company; 26th (two sections) British Field Hospital, and Colonial troops.
At Glencot—18th Hussars; Brigade Division, Royal Artillery, 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, and Mounted Infantry Company; 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps, and Mounted Infantry Company; 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and Mounted Infantry Company; 6th Veterinary Field Hospital.
With one company, 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps at Eshowe, and a Detachment of the Umvoti Mounted Rifles at Helpmakaar.
The enemy advanced in large numbers towards Glencoe in Natal in three columns, under General Joubert, and occupied Newcastle, a second column under Viljoen, crossing the lofty Biggersberg, took a position between Glencoe and Ladysmith, and on Oct. 19th arrived at Elandslaagte, cutting the railway behind the Dundee garrison. A third body, under Lukas Meyer, crossed the Buffalo river, and on Oct. 19, was within fighting distance of General Symons's position.
At home our military garrisons and depots were all astir, and the War Office was put on its trial. It seemed overwhelmed by the emergency, and hastened its mobilization and transports.
Fleets of transports soon dotted the ocean; large steamers took their freight of some thousand soldiers each.
A voyage to the Cape is enchanting or disappointing, just as the traveller takes it. It certainly is not without illusion and disappointment. The notion which does exist that it is a voyage all sunshine and blue water and equable climate may be dismissed. There are long intervals of cloudy sky and grey, turbulent sea. The heat between Grand Canary and for some distances south of Cape Verde is quite West African—moist, oppressive and swoony. Such wind as may blow in this pestilential region comes without instinct of life or invigoration. Old cases of West Coast malaria reassert themselves.
The temperature of the sea rises to 8odeg. Fahr., and this, coupled with the steam and fires and boiling water within the ship, makes life below the promenade deck akin to the interior of the tropical house in Kew Gardens. Up to the Equator these devitalising conditions continue with scarcely noticeable variations, but south of the Equator we fall into a current of colder water, and thence into the south-east trade wind, which carries ships up to the coast of South America, if not round the Horn. Again the weather changes; it becomes hot and " sticky" again, with head seas, closed port holes, and the sensations of a Turkish bath. Or it may remain severely cold.
We crossed the line (so-called) on Tuesday, the 10th of October, wrote one correspondent, but without the old historic ceremony. The steamer has run down the traditions of the Equator so much so that the Kinfauns Castle crossed the line without a dozen passengers being aware of the interesting circumstance. It was an ideal cross-channel morning, a grey-blue sea, crisped into a whiff here and there of white foam: the sky dappled with cloud, now fleecy and anon black enough for 'rain. There was nothing tropical in the scene. But what became interesting was the absence of shade. The sun was vertical, and you had to throw your head well back and your face upwards to see it at all. Everything perpendicular was the centre of its own orbit. There were none of the oblique shadows upon the deck to which we were accustomed in Europe.
" On our arrival at Cape Town we had been fourteen days beyond the reach alike of land and of news. But though I and some colleagues fretted at the uncertainty of what was before us, the military on board— and these formed by far the larger portion of the passengers—awaited the result with smiling nonchalance. Tommy attended parade, underwent inoculation for typhoid, slept on the forecastle deck, grew fat, and gave by far the best concerts of the voyage. The officers, after the wont of British officers, played cards, gambled on " sweeps," and coquetted with the lady passengers. So, whether it was to be peace or whether it was to be war, Her Majesty's red coats, blue coats, and khaki coats took it all philosophically."
Officers ordered to the Front at the opening of the War.
General Sir Redvers Buller, Commander-in-Chief, Natal.
Lieut.-Gen. Sir F. W. E. Forestier Walker, Commander-in-Chief at the Cape.
Lieut.-Gen. Lord Methuen, commanding First Division First Army Corps.
Lieut.-Gen. Sir Geo. S. White, V. C, commanding Natal Field Force.
Col. Sir W. P. Symons, commanding Fourth Division First Army Corps.
Major-Gen. Sir H. E. Colville, commanding 1st Brigade, 1st Div.
Major-Gen. A. G. Wauchope, commanding 3rd Brigade, 2nd Div.
Major-Gen. Hon. N. J. Lyttelton, commanding 4th Brigade, 2nd Div.
Gen. Sir W. F. Gatacre, K. C. B., D. S. 0., commanding 3rd Div. First Army Corps.
Major-Gen. A. Fitzroy Hart; commanding 5th Brigade, 3rd Div.
Col. J. D. P. French, commanding Cavalry Div. First Army Corps. Col. J. P. Brabazon, 2nd Cav. Brigade. Col. F. Howard, 7th Brigade, 4th Div. Col. J. F. Brocklehurst, 3rd Cav. Brigade.
Lord Roberts, Field Marshal, and Lord Kitchener, his Chief of Staff, arrived at Capetown on January 10th, 1900.
Stevens: Chapter VI - The gathering and progress of the storm.— a summary to Cronje's surrender
Sept. 1.—Portuguese authorities at Lourenco Marques (adjoining Cape Colony) receive orders to release ammunition destined for Transvaal.
Sep. 4.—Arrest of Mr. Pakeman and attempted arrest of Mr. Monypenny, journalists, for alleged sedition at Johannesburg. Volksraad declined Imperial conference and alternative proposals for settling grievances. Panic at Johannesburg and great exodus to Cape Colony begins. Bloemfontein (Orange Free State) burghers have 1,000 rifles given them in Market Place.
Sep. 5.—Mr. Pakeman released on bail. Exodus increases.
Sep. 6.—Volksraad discusses concentration of British troops on Transvaal border. General Sir F. Forestier Walker arrives in Cape Town and takes over duties of Commander-in-Chief.
Sept. 7. — Ammunition arrives in Transvaal from Lourenco Marques. Volksraad hostile to British troops coming to border.
Sep. 8.—War tribunal established at Johannesburg. Artillery reserves called out at Bloemfontein and burghers ordered to hold themselves ready for arms. British Cabinet discusses crisis, and sends 10,000 troops to Cape and Natal.
Sept. 9.—Transvaal accepts commission of delegates to ' arbitrate. Orders received at Simla for despatch of troops to South Africa.
Sept. 11.—British Government demand reasons for Mr. Pakeman's arrest. Great distress at Pretoria. Preparations at Bombay for dispatch of troops to South Africa.
Sept. 12.—British despatch to Transvaal Government causes great excitement at Pretoria. War preparations at Johannesburg proceed. Gen. Sir George White appointed to command British troops in Natal.
Sept. 13.—Transvaal publishes at Brussels British despatch. Dissension among burghers in Free State.
Sept. 14.—Orange Free State joins Transvaal in resisting the British.
Sept. 15.—Johannesburg trade collapsing.
Sept. 16.—Sir G. White and Staff, 1st battalion Northumberland Fusiliers and other troops, leave for Cape. Another message from Kruger. Encounter between police and public at Johannesburg. Indian contingent embarks for South Africa. Armed Boers leave for Volksrust and Komate Point.
Sept. 18.—Colonial Government publishes official text of Transvaal despatch.
Sept. 19.—Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and others leave Cape Town for the front. Town Guard formed at Kimberley for defence, 1st Bat. Manchester Regiment arrives at Durban and proceeds to Pietermaritzburg.
Sept. 20.—Sir W. Harcourt, like Mr. J. Morley, publicly condemns war with Transvaal.
Sept. 21.—More troops from Bombay for South Africa. Free State Raad advised by President Steyn to resist demands against the sister republic.
Sept. 22.—British Cabinet discusses Transvaal question. Boers concentrating to defend Limpopo river. Army Corps preparations at Woolwich.
Sept. 23.—Cape Parliament supports British policy, 1st Bat. Royal Irish Fusiliers leave Alexandria for the Cape. Boer warriors aggressive at Charlestown and Mafeking.
Sept. 25.—First meeting in Ireland in sympathy with Transvaal. Michael Davitt afterwards carried resolution to Pretoria. Ammunition delivered at night to Boer field cornet at Johannesburg. More troops from India sent to Africa.
Sept. 26.—Three batteries of Royal Field Artillery leave Birkenhead for South Africa. Afrikanders in Griqualand join in Boer demands. Free State joins Transvaal in resistance to Imperial policy.
Sept. 27.—War preparations active at Aldershot and other military centres.
Sept. 28.—New Zealand and Canada offer troops to England, which were accepted.
Sept. 29. — Cabinet Council sits. Boers massing. Refugees flying to British Colony.
Sept. 30.—All courts in Pretoria closed by proclamation. Indiscriminate commandeering becoming universal in the Transvaal and Free State. Burghers and ammunitions accumulating at borders. British and Colonial troops concentrate on Natal border.
Oct. 2.—2,000 Natal Volunteers encamp at Ladysmith. Boers massing on Bechuanaland border. United States decline President Steyn's appeal to intervene.
Oct. 3.—Troops from India disembark at Durban. Refugees suffer much en-route to British territory.
Oct. 4.—Mail train from Transvaal to Cape stopped at Vereeniging and the week's shipment of gold for England commandeered by Boers. Defensive works at Mafeking began. Free Staters mass at Harrismith and Boshof.
Oct. 5.—20,000 armed Boers at Volksrust.
Oct. 6.—Sir George White arrives at East London and proceeds to Durban. 3,000 native workmen quit unprotected mines at Johannesburg. Commandant Cronje made General to take charge of Western Frontier burghers. Castle liner Braemar Castle sails for seat of war with 1,500 officers and men.
Oct. 7.—Army Reserve summoned by royal proclamation. Sir George White and staff leave Durban for Pietermaritzburg. Disembarkation of Indian troops at Durban.
Oct. 9.—The "Guelph" at Lourenco Marques with cargo of ammunition for Boers seized and cargo brought to Durban. £30,000 taken from Barberton mine to Pretoria, now almost deserted of British subjects.
Oct. 10.—Kruger's ultimatum.
Oct. 11.—War opened at 3-10 p.m. (5 p.m. South African time.)
Oct. 12.—Mr. Conyngham Greene, British agent, leaves Pretoria, and Sir Alfred Milner, Lord Commissioner, issues proclamation declaring all persons who shall abet the enemy in time of war traitors to Great Britain. 1,500 refugees reach Durban from Delagoa Bay. Fund opened at the Cape and in London for suffering refugees, many of them penniless.
Oct. 13.—British troops open stores on line at De Aar. Armoured train from Cape to Mafeking wrecked by Boers at Kraaipan. 12,000 Boers invade Natal by Tintvva Pass.' A Red Cross train sent to Kraaipan fired on by Boers. Mafeking isolated by destruction of line.
Oct. 14.—General Buller leaves London for the front. Transvaal flag hoisted at Newcastle.
Oct. 15.—A fight near Mafeking, Boers worsted.
Oct. 16.—Boers occupy Ingagane and Dannhauser. A reconnoitring train from Kimberly attacked by Boers at Spysfontein.
Oct. 17.—Conflict at Acton Homes and Glencoe between the outposts. Bridges at Modder river and Fourteen Streams blown up by the "bearded Besoms."
Oct. 20.—Boers on the heights overlooking Glencoe, salute daybreak by blazing away at the foreigners, who are seen to turn to flight the army of the aliens.
Oct. 21.—British proceed northward from Ladysmith to make good railway communication with Glencoe, encounter Boers at Elandslaagte, and the latter are seen to scatter. Skirmish at Rhodes' Drift between patrols.
Oct. 22.—Skirmish at Krokodil Poort on the northern frontier and several slain on both sides.
Oct. 23.—Gen. Yule, removing from Dundee, makes a stand at Glencoe. Boers occupy Dundee.
Oct. 24.—Defeat of the Boers at Rietfontein, seven miles from the Natal Aldershot. Cape Colony, north of the River Vaal, " annexed" by President Steyn and Bechuanaland "added" to his kingdom by Oom Paul I Mafeking bombarded.
Oct. 25th.—An advanced guard halts at Sunday River when sent out to join Gen. Yule. A squadron of the Hussars made prisoners by the Boers on the 20th at Glencoe, taken to Pretoria.
Oct. 26.—Gen. Yule's forces reach Ladysmith in good order after two day's forced march. Basutoland chiefs meet and protest loyalty to Queen Victoria.
Oct. 27.—Boers massing on River Limpopo.
Oct. 28.—Siege of Ladysmith commmenced by 17,000 Boers, under Gen. Joubert.
Oct. 30.—Great excitement in Ladysmith owing to general engagement with enemy. A cut-off column capitulates to the Pretorians.
Oct. 31.—Buller "the Deliverer" lands at Cape Town, with acclamations lusty. Sir Redvers Buller next day goes to Durban for the front.
Nov. 4. — Boer attack on Kimberley repulsed at Carter's Farm. The garrison lost 1 killed and 1 wounded, and 6 Boers were killed. Colonel Wessels, the Boer Commandant, sent in word that he was going to bombard if Colonel Kekewich did not surrender.
Nov. 9.—Message received stating that bombardment had only killed a peacock and damaged a cooking pot. Major Scott-Turner made a second sortie to ascertain enemy's position.
Nov. 23.—Lord Methuen's relief column gained a victory at Belmont.
Nov. 24.—News received by garrison of the starting of the relief force.
Nov. 25.—Lord Methuen won his second victory at Gras Pan, in which the Naval Brigade distinguished itself. In a sortie from Kimberley twenty prisoners were taken at a cost on the British side of 5 killed and 23 wounded. Boer loss unknown.
Nov. 28.—Another successful sortie from Kimberley. Boer laager captured. Our losses: 22 killed (including Major Scott-Turner) and 42 wounded.
Nov. 28.—Lord Methuen attacked Boers at Modder River and gained third victory.
Dec. 1.—Garrison communicated with relief column.
Dec. 11.—Lord Methuen's Relief Column met with severe repulse at Magersfontein, in which the Highland Brigade suffered severely and General Wauchope was killed. Boers heliograped to Kimberley, " We have smashed up your column."
Jan. 6.—Great British victory at Ladysmith. an. 10.—Arrival of Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener at Cape Town. Beginning of second advance of General Buller's command. Cavalry brigade seized Potgieter's Drift on the Tugela.
Jan. 17.—Potgieter's Drift and Trichardt Drift crossed by the British in force.
Jan. 20.—British success at Venter's Spruit.
Jan. 23.—Capture of Spion Kop.
Jan. 25.—Evacuation of Spion Kop.
Jan. 26.—British retreat across the Tugela.
Jan. 30.—Opening of Parliament.
Feb. 9.—Mr. Labram killed by shell from big gun which had been bombarding Kimberley since January 7. Mr. Labram was the clever engineer who built the 4.1 gun which caused a panic among the besieging force. Lord Roberts arrived at Modder River.
Feb. 11.—General French moved with the Cavalry Division from the Modder to Ramdam.
Feb. 12.—Seizure of Dekiel's Drift by General French.
Feb. 13.—General French, with three brigades of cavalry and horse artillery and mounted infantry, left Dekiel's Drift, made a march of 25 miles, and seized Klip's Drift on the Modder, and occupied the hills on the north of the river, capturing three of the enemy's laagers with supplies.
Feb. 15.—Relief of Kimberley. General French, pushing on with his cavalry, traversed Cronje's communications and reached Kimberley.
Feb. 17.—Pursuit of Cronje by General Kelly-Kenny.
Feb. 16-18.—Severe fighting at Paardeberg, where Cronje was being gradually surrounded.
Feb. 19.—Bombardment of Cronje's position began. Boer reinforcements driven back.
Feb. 23.—More Boer reinforcements for Cronje from Natal beaten off, losing a great number killed and 87 prisoners.
Feb. 23.—The cordon round Cronje began to tighten.
Feb. 27.—Surrender of Cronje at Paardeberg on the anniversary of Majuba. Over 4,000 prisoners taken.