HAVING by his sweeping mobile columns persuaded large bodies of armed farmers to return home under an oath of neutrality, Lord Roberts dispensed with a considerable colonial force and hastened to England to succeed Lord Wolseley as Commander-in-chief of the British Army, and with the message that " the war was practically over." He mistook the temper of the Boer leaders, as did others in authority, for no sooner were the troops withdrawn than the hostile commandants, it is said, by misrepresentations, threats, and promises, induced the peaceful Burghers to rejoin their commandoes, and thus arose the Guerilla Campaign—and the futile invasion of Cape Colony, with more drastic clearing movements by command of Lord Kitchener, with a view to a speedy, peaceful, and just settlement of the country. We append a brief synopsis of the principal events up to negotiations for peace.
Nov. 22nd, 1900.—Oom Paul, accompanied by late officials, had an enthusiastic reception on arriving at Marseilles, and also at Paris, where, all shaven and shorn, and dressed a la modi, he was almost past recognition. After a little further effort to get assistance he subsided into a private gentleman—a recluse.
Dec. 2nd.—De Wet on his way to take the Cape, was met with near Bethulie, in Orange River Colony, our lines commanding twenty miles on the Smithfield road. The enemy numbered several thousands, in small bands usually.
Dec. 5th.—After some engagements he crossed the Caledon and made for Odendal. Knox led the chase, but was always too late.
Dec. 12th.—The elusive guerilla broke through a cordon, and made a dash for Springham Nek, 2,500 men marching through in open order, though Col. Thornycroft's artillery was on the crest of the hill; these were overcome by Commandant Prinsloo.
Steyn and Piet Fourie led the charge, and De Wet, as usual, defended the rear. Our incessant fire had no intimidation if a few saddles were emptied. Col. White was detached to follow up Haasbrock, (who made a feint against the pass) and scattered the commando at nightfall, the Welsh Yeomanry using their revolvers and the butt end of their rifles.
De Wet made for Ficksburg, with the loss of three guns, 50 killed and 100 taken prisoners, besides a great amount of ammunition (6,000 rounds), and some horses.
This Commandant Haasbrock a few weeks after met with a sad accident. With his wife, two daughters, and ten Boers, he was following the Dutch Napoleon when the dynamite in their waggon exploded, killing eight of the men, and injuring Mrs. Haasbrock, so that the husband got furlough to tend her.
Dec. 16th.—Encouraged by rebels, between 700 and 1000 Boers crossed the Orange River into Cape Colony at Rhenoster Hoek, and on the 18th they occupied Venterstad, fleeing thence to evade their pursuers, to Steynsburg and retiring to the Zuurberg range for safety.
Cape Colony was seething with sedition, became an unpleasant place for loyalists, and the Government was harassed with forebodings.
There was a preliminary invasion by three columns to prepare the way for the great advance of De Wet and Steyn. The leaders were the two Hertzogs, Brand and Wessels, who crossed the Orange River to the west and made for Calvinia and Clanwilliam. They would have occupied the Piquetberg, but for the prompt occupancy by the Cape Cyclists. A commando under Kritzinger made tracks for Murraysburg, and Scheeper, crossing near Aliwal North, pressed forward to the Steynsburg Hills. These leaders had orders to raise recruits, arrange depots, and procure remounts, and they secured a considerable amount of stock.
The British columns sent to meet them were—on the west, those of Brabant, Girouad, and Haig, and on the east Le Lisle's and Bethune's.
The Cape Dutch farmers were willing to sell their horses to the British or to feed the Boers on the sly, but they were not so enthusiastic in the cause of " freedom as to join the invaders openly, and small troops of these, disappointed, re-crossed the Orange River for home.
Dec. 17th.—Another invasion at Zanddrift, north of Colesberg, by 2,000 Boers. Our force made them diverge towards Philipstown, which they occupied on the 19th, and then went on to Houtkraal station, cutting the line. Subsequently other bodies entered the colony and matters there grew more serious.
Dec. 21st.—Lord Kitchener addressed a meeting of the Burghers who had assembled at Pretoria, convened by their Peace committee. Several other attempts were made for peace by sections of the Boers, and an unsuccessful appeal was made by them to the Bond.
Jan. 1st, 1901.—The Boer invaders to the west made a night attack on Witteputs station and were beaten off. Further north Delarey captured a convoy near Christiana. Vryburg was hot with rebellion, De Villiers finding it a good recruiting ground. A British convoy on the way to Kuruman, and worth £30,000 was captured. On the other hand Col. Hackett's column at Jagersfontein took a large quantity of stock and 1000 horses.
With martial law in the most disaffected parts, eventually extending to the whole of the Cape Peninsular, the Cape Government's appeal for the loyal to arm for defence against the invaders, (now half way to the capital) was met with enthusiasm, and thousands of irregular troopers were soon in the field with rifle and field glass to guard the passes, under General Brabant.
Jan. 13th.—Gen. Brabant assumed command of the Colonial Defence Field Force mobilised at Piquetberg Road, about a hundred miles from Capetown on the west, where Pickieners Kloof was held by the mounted infantry. The railway about Matjesfontein, a hundred miles to the right, was guarded by Col. Henniker and other leaders. Judge Hertzog's following of 700 Boers from Clanwilliam, Kritzinger's of 900 from Murraysburg and others from Bechuanaland were making for a rendezvous, at Hex River Mountain, (it was understood) where the flanks of. the opposing forces were resting.
Jan. 18th.—Col. Grey with New Zealanders and Bushmen routed 800 raiders from the neighbourhood of Ventersburg, Orange Colony, killing four. 1000 Boers, led by Bach, Spruyt, and Meyers attacked Colville's mobile column on the way to Vlaklaagte, north of Standerton, their design being to capture our baggage, for which purpose they used a pom-pom, while the cavalry in the van were attacked. The Rifle Brigade, with their bayonets, assised by 50 Standerton police, were too much for the thieves, who left many dead on the field.
A part of De Wet's force was engaged by Knox 40 miles north of Thaba N'Chu, near Welcome. We lost three and the enemy five men. The gold mines had to be defended by a thousand soldiers.
French gave battle to 2,000 Burghers in Wilge Valley, Ermelo district, and killed four. This was the first great movement for rounding the implacables by rapid marches to the blockhouses.
Gen. Smith Dorrien moved up from Middlelburg, Gen. Campbell from Erstefabrichen, Gen. Knox from Kaalfon-tein. Brigadier General Alderson (18th Huzzars,) concentrated at Baps-fontein; Lieut. Col. Allenby (6th Dragoons,) at Pulfontein, Brigadier General Dartwell (commanding Natal Volunteers,) at Springs. Ermelo became the centre of the line.
The desperadoes were now the scourge of the land, sometimes despoiling farmers of their horses and cattle, under threats of death, and their attacks on our posts also made strenuous and decisive measures imperative.
The result of this sweeping movement was thus given: 296 Boers killed and wounded; 177 Boers taken prisoners, 555 surrendered, 6 guns, and 754 rifles captured, besides nearly 200,000 rounds of ammunition, 1,747 waggons and carts, 6,289 horses, 126 mules, 5,621 trek oxen, 26,927 cattle, 175,514 sheep, with grain and forage in enormous quantities seized or destroyed.
The threatened invasion of Natal was completely frustrated, but, as usual a large portion of the commandoes got away. General Botha, with 3,000 men, passed through French's widely extended lines at night, crossing the railway in the direction for Rossenekal and the bush veldt.
Our casuulties in this enterprise were 5 officers and 41 men killed, 4 officers and 108 men wounded.
Jan. 31st.—Col. Pilcher and Major Crewe fell in with De Wet's force in the Tabaksberg mountains between Bloemfontein and Smaldeel. Crewe had a Colonial division of 700 and gave fight to a gang of Boers ambushed on one side of the hills, when De Wet's whole force came to the rescue and Crewe had to retreat, leaving his pom-pom, which was "jammed," in the hands of the enemy, after its thirteenth discharge.
Feb. 5th.—The Boers threatened to invade Marques Lorenzo to liberate their 2,000 comrades confined there, and to seize their arms. The Portuguese authorities took steps to frustrate this plot. Eventually the captives were sent to Lisbon.
200 British soldiers at Modderfontein were surprised on a dark and stormy night by over a thousand Boers. After we had lost 28 men killed and wounded, the little garrison had to capitulate. The Boers seized rifles and everything they wanted, and afterwards liberated their prisoners.
Feb. 6th.—Louis Botha, with 2,000 men, attacked Smith-Dorrien at Bothwell at 3 a.m. and was repulsed after severe fighting. Gen. Spruit was killed, another general wounded, two field cornets were among the slain, beside 20 others of the enemy left on the field. We lost 24 killed and 53 wounded.
General French (in charge of the Transvaal forward movement) drove 6,000 Boers towards Amsterdam, 12 miles from the Swaziland border. About 800 waggons, with families, passed through Ermelo, with large quantities of stock, and we entered the town after some opposition. 50 Boers surrendered. The trekkers were panic-stricken by our pursuit. What a lurid picture of misery, even for hardy burghers, is presented by such a caravan of homeless wanderers.
In their flight for the Pongolo Bush, the Boers even abandoned their wounded, and we captured a convoy of 55 waggons and 15 carts, with some cattle, near Lake Chrissie.
In the local Ermelo newspaper were found false charges of cruelty against British troops, copied from Irish and London journals. The wickedness of publishing such partizan libels was seen when their maddening effect on the ignorant Burghers provoked outrages on British prisoners.
Here is an instance of brutal brigandage on Feb. 7th. A Durban train, proceeding to Pretoria, was attacked between Greylingstad and Heidelberg, by a party of ambushed Boers who riddled the carriages with shots, and wounded six civilian passengers. The object was robbery, for as soon as the train was held up every passenger was searched, £25 being taken from a nurse, and all the luggage in the train was stolen.
Two other trains were wrecked on the same line that week, and one with supplies was only saved by an armoured train coming to the rescue. Similar outrages were often repeated on the Delagoa and other railways. At Taaibosch, C. C, railway passengers were robbed, train wrecked, and natives shot in a pit. Three of the Boer miscreants were punished by Court Martial, being sentenced to death, and two were imprisoned for five years. Mr. Kruger justified the plunder as a necessary act of war.
Feb. 12.—Meyer De Kock was shot by the Boers at Belfast, for taking papers from Gen. Smith-Dorrien to Botha in the interests of peace on Jan. 21st. He was arrested at Roossenekal and tried for treason. He wrote to his wife and children that he had done nothing wrong. He was one of the Peace Committee in the Orange River Colony.
To cope with the hunting down of the implacables, 36,000 men were embarked from England between January 1st and March 30th, of which 14,858 were Imperial yeomanry, (who formed an effective component of nearly every column,) 4,484 S. A. Constabulary, and 17,200 drafts to various regiments of militia and mounted infantry.
At the beginning of April, Boer commandants had furlough to attend a " Volksraad " at Boshof, when 40 Boers of all sorts and conditions re-elected Mr. Steyn President of the Orange River Free State! After which there was a banquet! This beats the record for bravado.
The great guerilla now went to Vredefort to refit for the assembly of forces at Doornberg, about 22 miles N.E. of Winburg. On Jan. 22nd, and the next day, he crossed the line near Holfontein making for the grand rendezvous. His laager included the commandoes of Froneman, Fourie, Haasbruck, and others.
De Wet crossed our Thaba N'Chu-Bloemfontein line near Israels poort. It was a good stroke of Lord Kitchener's to recal Knox and Hamilton to entrail their columns to Bethulie, as by this means the great Nimrod was headed off as he made for the Orange River, just as, after re-crossing the Caledon to Rouxville to Commissie Bridge, he had been dodged by his pursuers and had to return to the Lindley district early in December.
He had collected about 2,500 men in the Winburg district and though we held the Thaba N'Chu-Bloemfontein line with a chain of posts, its links permitted the enemy to get through on the night of Feb. nth. All that Gen. Bruce Hamilton's three flying columns could do was to slightly engage the rearguard. Then De Wet doubled back in the neighbourhood of Jagersfontein Road to seize a train of transport animals, and made Philippolis without hindrance as Brand and Hertzog had there supplanted our magistrates by Boer landdrosts.
Many-a farm had been stripped of its men-folk to constitute this horde of invaders, whose chief object was recruits. Among its leaders were a Cronje, De Vos, Brebar, Wessels, (Harrismith,) Haasbrock, Theron, Pretorius, Joubert, Steenekamp, Koetze and Kolbe; with two 15-pounders, a pom-pom, and a maxim, and many Cape carts conveying ammunition, provisions, &c. Piet Fourie decided to act independently with his following, declaring that De Wet was out of his mind.
The British arrangements to meet De Wet, on entering Cape Colony on Feb. nth, were as follows:—Gen. Lyttelton, an able officer, was entrusted with this work, and made Naauwpoort his base. Seeing that the invaders took the road to Calvinia the columns were echeloned, Plumer on the direct rear, Crabbe and Henniker moving west to make the next parallel, with De Aar and Britstown as their base. The Cape Cavalry Brigade under Bethune were the next parallel from the Richmond Road, on the Britstown and Prieska line; Col. Haig was stationed at Frureburg Road, while Thorneycroft was to form a southern line. Gen. Knox and Gen. Bruce Hamilton were to hold themselves ready to support Plumer if De Wet should be brought to a stand. Another column was ordered from Kimberley, to act if the Boers broke back to the Orange River from the Britstown district. De Lisle waited at Carnarvon ready to receive the hero of a hundred hunts, and Colonel Gorringe was to pay attention to Mr. Kritzinger.
Plumer entrained to Colesberg with Queensland M. I., Imperial Bushmen, and two squadrons of the First King's Dragoon Guards under Col. Owen, who came in touch with the enemy at Philipstown, on March 13th. De Wet moved westward, across the railway in the vicinity of Houtkraal, nipped by two armoured trains and the column under Col. E. Crabbe. It was here that the enemy lost a gun and a maxim, the whole of his ammunition transport, and many prisoners, but he managed to take away two pieces of ordnance.
Unfortunately a detachment of the King's Dragoons under Major S. B. Smith, fell into the enemy's hands and had to tramp after him, till thoroughly exhausted, on foot. Smith was sjamboked for complaining that they could go no further.
The Boers under Brand and the Hertzogs being reported as going northward upon Prieska, it was necessary to change the order of our operations. Plumer pressing the enemy so closely, the other columns could not assist, and all that was done was to confine the enemy for a time in a bend of the river.
At this juncture Rimington's Scouts encountered a commando coming from Houwater towards Britstown, and after a skirmish the foe vanished. De Wet recross-ed the railway near Pauwpan station, trekking for the Orange River. Thus the careful scheme to trap him had failed; and so had failed thus far the Boers' chance of recruiting.
The invasion of the Cape on Feb. nth and 12th, was a complete fiasco. De Wet, in a short jacket, with his lieutenant Steyn, in a blue suit, crossed the Orange River near Zand Drift, in several bodies, hotly pursued by Col. Plumer, who routed them from disloyal Phil-ipstown, capturing a gun. The swashbuckler's reverse here was due to the 60 Victorians under Captain Tivey, who galloped to the rescue of the Yeomanry Patrol holding the gaol. By reaching a commanding kopje the Colonials withstood the commando of 400 men under | Van de Merve, emptying some of their saddles. After a day's fight the Boers skedaddled when they spied more Victorians arriving (under Major Clarke and Major Granville-Smith). It caused the invader to turn back on his pursuers. He had made westward, crossing the Kimberley line north of De Aar, to join Hertzog, and on the way blew up two culverts. Our echeloned squadrons, miles apart, were after him, but hampered by too much luggage.
Feb. 16th.—Col. Crabbe moved out of Houtkraal at daybreak and got up with the enemy two miles from the station, making towards Britstown. Our two 15 pounders laid low 65 killed and wounded Boers, with the assistance of two naval 12 pounders brought up by Capt. Nanton's armoured train. The Boer leaders fled helter-skelter, and we captured 100 ox-waggons and carts, also a spring waggon and an ambulance waggon containing 100,000 rounds of rifle ammunition, 6,000 pom-pom shells, several boxes of 15 pounder ammunition, and 30 prisoners in a tattered state, some of them shoeless. Our casualties were two officers of the 3rd Dragoons, one officer of the Australian bushmen and one private wounded.
It was discovered that De Wet, finding himself headed in the chase, had bolted, leaving the fighting to his lieutenant Froneman, with a thousand men, a pom-pom and a 15 pounder, who had been sent against Hopetown on the Orange River colony border. Abandoned by his chief, this poor fellow lost all but a few carts, hundreds of his distressed horses being abandoned in the flight. He was glad to be rid of 65 yeomanry and some other troopers he had captured, and they were not sorry to have no longer to follow on foot the galloping invaders in their retreat, especially as the karoo was a wide expanse of deep mud through the frequent heavy showers.
Feb. 17th.—Lord Kitchener and staff had a narrow escape on their return to Pretoria from De Aar. At Klip River, 15 miles south of Johannesburg, his baggage train was attacked and the engine and four trucks blown off the line by dynamite. A pilot engine alarmed the passenger train that followed, and by an armoured train from Elandsfontein the raiders were scattered.
Having driven the invaders to the Orange River for the most part, they searched in vain for a ford in the swollen river near Bethulie and then returned to the Zuurberg Ranges, where they were found buck hunting.
No less than 17 columns, under Gen. Inigo Jones, joined in chasing Kritzinger's scattered commandos, with the object of a pitched battle on the banks of the Orange River, which was now 5 feet higher than at this time the year before. At Land Drift Col. Crabbe met with one party, seizing 300 horses, with arms and ammunition, the Boers escaping to the hills.
Feb. 21st.—Little had been heard of Lord Methuen's column of Imperial Yeomanry and Australian Bushmen since they started to clear the district between Vryburg and Klerksdorp, and yet they had done good work in many a skirmish. Passing through Scheizner Renecke to Wolmaranstadt they fell upon a laager and captured 54 Boers, 52 waggons, 20 cape carts, 3 sacks of small ammunition, 100 horses, 2000 head of cattle, 10,000 sheep and goats. The next day they moved on to Hartebrestfontein, where they had to contest for the passage of a nek. Our regiment of 1000 men had to reckon with 2000 Boers and luckily a reinforcement by the 10th I. Y. helped us to take the position, the enemy leaving behind them the remainder of their live stock. We sustained a heavy loss—50 killed and wounded, and 20 dead Boers were counted on the field, our guns having accounted for most of them. When our troops reached Klerksdorp our foray had yielded 60 prisoners, 25.000 sheep and goats, 5,000 cattle, 200 horses, 80 waggons and carts.
Feb. 24th.—De Wet suffered his worst defeat, barely escaped near the Orange River at Disselfontein, 20 miles N.W. of Orange River Station. When he entered the Cape Colony he had 1,500 men, four Maxims, and two Hotchkiss guns, according to James Smit, a captured Free Stater; when the guerilla chief attempted in vain to re-cross the swollen river (in some places 16J feet deep), he had no cannon and but 300 men.
Col. Owen, with detachments of King's Dragoons, Victoria Imperial Rifles, and Imperial Light Horse, came upon De Wet's laager near Read's Drift early in the morning, and at once seized the guns mounted on an adjacent farm—a 15 pounder and pom-pom. A shell among the boiling pots produced a stampede, some making for the farmer's boats, and we captured 50 men who were loiterers, and blankets, overcoats, saddles, &c, enough to fill three buck waggons. Some Boers swam across the torrent and others were drowned. It was a case of "save himself who can," as Steyn told them in a parting address.
Owing to the rains the river rose five feet by the next day, and the main body of the raiders, being balked as to a retreat through any drift, had no alternative than to double back in a westerly direction, recrossing the Kimberley line at Kranskaail on Sunday. Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry joined in the chase, and six columns got the signal to converge on the scattered burghers.
De Wet was driven into a corner, where the railway from De Aar admirably served our purpose in landing an army en masse within a few hours. As many as fifty trains a day were run, the officials working uninterruptedly for nineteen hours at a stretch.
In consequence of the heavy thunder-storms, producing torrents of rain, and our slow convoys, De Wet and Steyn were able to reach Petrusville, where the Boers .under Hertzog and Brand joined them, making a force of about 2,000. With five carts they passed South Kop, 20 miles south-east of Hopetown, on the 24th. On the following night they had reached Philipstown, 70 miles from the scene of the 23rd.
On passing through Strydenburg in their flight the Boers wreaked their vengeance on the Post Office and looted the Stores. De Wet's route was lined with dead and dying overwrought horses and mules.
Dodging his pursuers the enemy at length turned eastward for a ford. Now and again a patrol would stumble on a dozen or so of shoeless, shaggy Burghers, with an orange ribbon round their faded hats, and in one case 300 of them bolted at the sight of six khakis, leaving behind their picnic utensils.
March 1st.—De Wet at length found a drift at Lillie-fontein four miles west of Colesberg Road Bridge, and crossed into the Orange River Colony, pursued by Thorneycroft and others. On the way we captured 200 stragglers, while 80 daring men of Kitchener's Fighting Scouts, under Colenbrander, were taken by a superior body of Boers. The point of fording was 18 miles N. of Colesberg, and the running of the water was so strong, that five carts were left on the south side. Thirty Boers were drowned.
March 3rd.—De Wet headed for Philippolis, then finding British troops there, he turned for Fauresmith, 50 miles from the river crossing, and proceeded northward unmolested.
Haasbrock and Steenkamp, two of De Wet's adjutants, attended a council of war, in his absence, near Philippolis, when Steenkamp, declaring that he was sick of the hopeless raid, decided to return home with his commando.
Kritzinger, (a colonial,) who was located at Pearston, now became the object of our kharki Cape huntsmen. He had a small commando in the neighbourhood of his farm, and was easily moved on by the approach of our patrols.
March 3rd.—Delarey attacked our garrison of 480 men at Lichtenburg (40 miles S.E. of Mafeking,) and we lost two officers and nine men of the Northumberland Fusiliers and 16 wounded. Other regiments lost 2 killed and 10 wounded. The Boers numbered 1,500; commandants Smuts, Celliers, and Vemaas co-operating. Col. Money drove them out at the end of a hard day's fight. Seven Boers were captured and many slain, for their carts were carrying away the dead and wounded all night. Celliers was injured.
March 8th.—A brush at Jagersfontein cost us 3 killed, 10 wounded, and 3 missing.
Mistaking an armoured train for a horse train at Roodehoogte in Cape Colony, the Boers allowed it to approach within firing distance and 40 of them were killed.
March 10th.—Lord Methuen captured, afterwards released, wounded in thigh. Two trains were wrecked and looted between Belfast and Middleburg, and one derailed next day, making 21 such outrages since the British occupation of Komati Poort.
March nth.—Being routed at Aberdeen, Scheepers' commando made for Murraysburg, 80 miles south of De Aar, but were prevented entering the village by Colenbrander. Cols. Parsons and Scobell, with guns, did 59 miles under 25 hours for the same purpose. Leaving five corpses on the veldt the Boers trekked for Graat Reinet (the centre of their previous operations) before our supports came up. When the Burghers were here last the Dutch inhabitants received them with open arms.
A party left Colesberg to repair the telegraph at Philippolis, accompanied by a force of mounted infantry under Captain Taylor, of the Royal Lancaster Regiment. The next day they were surrounded by Boers and lost one man killed and six missing. Reinforcements under Major Tothill (Royal Garrison Artillery,) with guns and an ambulance, arrived in time to save the detachment.
On March nth the Boers attacked a train at Wilge River, near Balmoral, on the Delagoa line by blowing it up with dynamite, when 600 of them swooped down from their hiding place, and met with a warm reception from eight men in a stone blockhouse 300 yards from the scene of the explosion, who kept the enemy at bay for two hours. Eventually, however, some of the Boers reached the train and 40 of our men in it surrendered, but afterwards escaped. Three of our men were killed. A Boer was seen to shoot dead eight natives at close quarters.
Our reinforcements arriving the miscreants were chased and 15 killed.
On March 14th a column under Lieut. Col. Park, Devonshire Regiment, by a 12 miles night march from Lydenburg, assisted by a troop of Irish Fusiliers and some of the Royal Irish Rifles from stations on the Delogoa line, captured a Boer laager at Krugerspost. We had one killed, and four wounded; the Boers' loss was one killed, five wounded, 32 taken, with live stock and grain. The notorious Commandant Abel Erasmus with his family, was also brought into our camp.
March 15th.—Col. Gorringe had a fight with Kritz-inger's commando at Ransfontein Poort. The foe's 400 horses, arms, and clothing had all once belonged to the British, and it was no wonder that at Winterburg 24 of the Colonial Defence Guard mistook a Boer squad for comrades and were captured. At the end of the day Gorringe seized the defile for which he had fought. The Boers had nine killed and many wounded. Our losses were small.
March 20th.—Col. Scobell engaged Fouche, Malan, and Scheeper at Blaauwkrantz. The enemy had been driven from Graaf Reinet. Grenfell's column joined in the attack as well as Kitchener's Scouts. There was a night advance, and at 4 a.m. we took the foe by surprise. The main body had two guns under Capt. Donne and received a heavy fire, but ultimately the Boers skipped from kopje to kopje, the left section of K battery doing much execution among the enemy's horses. The Boers made off towards Jansenville on the Sunday River. We buried 4 Boers and found two others killed and 4 wounded. 100 horses were captured in good condition and 50 wounded ones were destroyed. We had 3 men killed and 4 slightly wounded.
In a fight at Doornberg with General Williams, Commandant Philip Botha (brother of Louis and Christian,) was killed and his two sons wounded. He had taken a prominent part in the war both in Natal and the Orange River Colony.
Severe fighting took place at Haartebeestfontein, 14 miles east of Klerksdorp, in the south-west of the Transvaal.
Gen. Babington sent out 200 men of the Imperial Light Horse with a gun to reconnoitre, and encountered Delarey. After holding a position for two hours and a half, the Boers made off on reinforcements appearing.
Col. Fred Meyrick with 5th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry, held on bravely till, at 3 p.m., we got through the pass, and entered the town. The Boers lost heavily, and we had 10 killed and 40 wounded.
March 23rd.—400 Boers wrecked part of a supply train at Vlaklaagte, and took away two waggons of food, besides several carts full. General Campbell's column arriving at Standerton, was able to protect the line better. He brought in some trophies of his campaign from Vrede.
Delarey, assisted by Smuts* commando, who had been a great trouble in the Potchefstroom district for some months, came to grief to-day. Babington, augmented by Shekleton, attacked 1,500 Boers to the south west of Ventersdorp, and after a stiff fight drove in the rearguard, with the result that we captured the convoy, including the guns, at Vaal Bank. The capture embraced two 15-pounders, one pom-pom, six maxims, 320 rounds of gun ammunition, 15,000 rounds of small arm, 160 rifles, 53 waggons, 24 carts with supplies, and 140 prisoners; 22 Boers were killed and 50 wounded, but our losses (including a brush on the 22nd,) were ten killed and 25 wounded.
While Sir A. Milner, assisted by an Executive Council for the Transvaal, was settling the municipal government of Johannesburg with a view to the working of the gold mines, the Orange River Colony was put under General Elliot, with Bethune, Beatson, Broadwood, and De Isle; C. Knox, with Pilcher and Thorney-croft; Lyttelton with Hickman, Haig, Bruce Hamilton, and Rundle; making columns of 20,000 men, in addition to Ridley's mounted police, in four military districts. By this means the several districts obtained a closer and more effective supervision. With certain general instructions, each district commander had a free hand as to his military movements.
When the O. R. F. S. Executive was captured, excepting Steyn, (who fled in deshabille on horseback) it was found by a letter that Secretary Reitz had suggested surrender. The treasury contained £12,000.
A rapid advance to Pietersburg, with a concentrated movement by half a dozen regiments, easily cleared the Northern Transvaal of hiding remnants of Boer commandos. It was a military pic-nic in romantic regions.
Eventually by armistice the Boer leaders came together, and on May 31st, 1902, the terms of surrender were signed, by which £3,000,000 was allowed for repatriation, and a representative government as soon as possible. At the surrender the Boer army numbered 17,661. The signatories at Vereeniging, were Lords Kitchener and Milner, Mr. Steyn, Generals Bremner and Christian De Wet, Judge Hertzof, Generals Schalk Burger, Reitz, Louis Botha and Delarey. The number of Boers captured or surrendered to May 12th, 1902, was 62,664. During 8 months Lord Kitchener reported the capture of 8,946 rifles, 789,869 rounds of ammunition, 3,138 waggons, 34,242 horses, and 167,578 cattle.
June 2nd.—Peace rejoicings universal.
June 8th.—Peace Thanksgiving Service at Pretoria; extraordinary enthusiasm.
Botha and other Boer generals aided in getting the surrenders, which amounted to 22,000 men since the armistice.
The total British force in the field at the close of the war, excluding local men, (which were about 25,000) was 202,000. Total number of our men engaged in the field during the war, 448,435. Total deaths in South Africa in our army, 21,942; missing, 105; invalids sent home who died, 508; invalided from further service, 5,879. Killed in action, 5,774, wounded, 22,829.
Boers killed in action, 3,700(50 far as published;) died in exile, 700; died in concentration camps, 19,000; total Boer deaths, 23,400.
As to the cost of the war. It was officially estimated at £223,000,000, when peace was signed. Since then the estimate has risen to nearly £300,000,000, through claims for compensation. £15,000,000 were paid for the resettlement of Boers, military receipts, and other compensations under proclamations,—so that the pacification of the country was rapid. In a short time 100,000 people had been put back upon their farms.
Mr. Chamberlain's flying visit did much to allay irritation, and inspire confidence. The tour, began in November, 1902, closed at the Cape on Feb. 17th, 1903. The Colonial Secretary travelled 2,281 miles by train, trekked 215 miles across country, visited twenty-four towns and villages, made thirty-two speeches, received fifty deputations, and partook of eighteen luncheons and banquets. His message was peace and that the colonies should pay the war bill.
He confessed to having made one mistake. He found that the Boers were not guilty of the ill-treatment of the Kaffirs and other natives, but that in the war, the Dutchmen had been able to leave their families in the care of the blacks.
The Pretoria Town Council, elected by our Government to represent various interests, gave notice of resigning in favour of an elective municipality so that the question of the commonages might be legally tested—the first sign of friction with the Dutch in our administration.
A thousand natives from British Central Africa were approved by the Government to work in the gold mines, under strict regulations, to test a difficult problem. The liquor traffic among the natives was prohibited. Having gone to war on behalf of the gold miners largely, we were now labour touts.
By the absorption of the new colonies British sovereignty over the whole South and Central Africa embraces an area of over a million and a half square miles, and a length of country, stretching in a continuous line from Northern Rhodesia to the south of Cape Colony, of 2,000 miles. The territory under British jurisdiction south of the Equator is thus almost exactly the size of India.
The following table shows roughly the extent of the South African British possessions:—
Cape Colony .................... 277,151
Natal and Zululand ............. 29,434
Basutoland ...................... 10,293
Bechuanaland ................... 386,200
Transvaal Colony ............... 119,139
Orange River Colony ........... 48,326
Rhodesia ....................... 600,000
Central Africa Protectorate ... 42,217