Message came sometime during night and given to Trotter which on opening was found to contain news that Dundonald and a few of his men had ridden into Ladysmith the evening before. I went back to get up our wagons and some champagne for Sir G. White and while waiting for them received order to say bring right on to Welthorpe from which I gathered Boers had cleared; got there about 4.30 and found General and staff had ridden into Ladysmith and lunched there; we bivouaced that night at Welthorpe and during dinner telegram came from the Queen saying "Thank God for news you have triumphed for me, Congratulations to you and all serving under you".
Rode into Ladysmith with Gordon (D.A.A.G.) to take over and fix up quarters at the Convent for us and to give message to Sir G.White to say Sir R. would arrive sometime during day to take up headquarters. The first man I saw whom I knew was Henderson (A + S.H. ) whom I last saw leaving by the Scot on July 1st with Mackenzie. May came and looked me up and I went and fed with him; saw Wing, Abdy and Tyler, none looking bad except Wing of the Gloucesters.
The troops marched in and. we "processed" thro' the town with the relieved garrison lining the streets, they looked very weak and sickly, poor chaps, and I don't think could have lasted another fortnight; had fed on a biscuit and a quarter a day, and horse flesh. Considering the number of shells fired into the town, about 10,000 or more, really very little damage has been done; this place has 3 rooms knocked to bits but I hear they fired at it a good deal. Long Tom on Bulwana fired some 2000 rounds 6".
Thanksgiving service, all relieved garrison attending, a monster church parade.
I never expected to get here and don't think we should but for Lord Roberts relieving Kimberley and surrounding Cronje which took Free Staters away. Hear that Long Tom's gunners were composed of all nationalities including English (deserters of old), in fact among the prisoners taken the other day was an Englishman. Such pleasure this peace at last, for a bit anyhow.
Got several letters from home the day before yesterday and most of them referred to Sir R. Bullerfs despatch on Colenso and recommendations for V.C's and my belongings. Very angry and I must confess the despatch astonishes me very much indeed, as Sir R. the day after Colenso called me into his tent and said "I've recommended you for the Victoria Cross, Schofield, on which I said "I hope you won't Sir," thinking I was being singled out for it and feeling not so deserving as Congreve and certainly no more so than Roberts, on which he said, "its done, I've done it", thereby leaving me to think he had, and when afterwards I found he had recommended Roberts (who was given it before he died) and the others. I felt easy in my own mind about it; so it to say the least of it, rather an "eye opener" to see his "differentiation" in the London Gazette which I see today for the first time.
The Governor arrived today with Pte Sect. Robinson; Sir C. Warren and his division leave for Port Elizabeth. The Intombi Hospital camp which is 3 miles out and was neutral, looks enormous and there are a very large number of cases of enteric there.
The Governor goes to Town Hall "in state" and makes a happy speech, followed by the Mayor; very few civilians.
Rode out nearly to Grobler's Hill to see Governor back to Colenso.
Sir. G.White left by train with some of his staff, all officers of garrison present; poor old White looked very infirm and ill. I went a couple of days ago and had a look at Wagon Hill and Caesars Camp (went over the former); this is where Boers made their determined attack on the 6th Jan. The place I hear was absolutely without defences then; and the right end, looking from here, had only a working party of Engineers and Gordons on it, making an emplacement. When attacked in the morning, who of course were driven off and some Boers occupied this end all day and did great damage as they got an enfilade fire on our men; they were dislodged in the evening by our men (the Devons) by bayonet. It appears to have been quite a touch and go business whether the Boers took the place or no.
Went up Bulwana Mountain with May but unfortunately a storm came on and we didn't see much; the Long Tom emplacement is about 14 ft thick of stone and sandbags. Many Boers appear to have been on the top and around Bulwana
Went round Nicholson's Nek way and saw the hill where the Gloster's and I.Fs and mountain battery got lost; I fancy there must have been something very wrong with the force to have surrendered like that.
Rode to Elandslaagte and back with General (32 miles) where Lyttleton's division is close to the battlefield; every culvert and bridge smashed up by Boers; they are about 6 miles further on. Kruger was down there the other day to rally them. Hear Veyheid Commando gone home. Kruger then went to Bloemfontein. to find his army retreating fast there too. Littleton's camp not far from where cavalry charged Boers in the evening when unluckily it got too dark to do much.
Lady R. Churchill and Miss Warrender came up to see Ladysmith from the Maine, their hospital ship, with young C, dined and stayed night.
Hear that Campbell who is in Intombi hospital got a wire to say he was promoted so I suppose I must be. Got a letter from Gorty which he had written at De Aar on 25th December.; it has. apparently been at Durban all this time. Sir C.Warren and his division by the way were stopped going to Cape on the 12th. Hear Lord Robert's force has got to Bloemfontein. Stifling hot last two days and this afternoon a tremendous hailstorm and then heavy rain.
Seedy, inside wrong; better on 18th but beastly weak. 19th got up but beastly weak, lost 6 pounds in weight. These are some prices paid in Ladysmith during siege.
Eggs per doz 48/-
Small plate grapes 25/-
1 vegetable marrow 28/-
1 tin marmalade 21/-
1 dozen matches 13/6
1 pkt cigarettes 25/- and probably very bad ones commonly sold at 6d
¼lh tin Capstan Navy Cut 60/-
Rode with West to Colenso about 15 miles by the Onderbrook road; about 4 miles out the place is one mass of trenches of the very strongest description, all along the road and at either side; the ground here too is dreadfully rocky and even to walk on it on foot would be difficult, quite impossible for horses except at a slow walk. Besides this there were trenches all along the river; Colenso no doubt was an absolutely impregnable position to our force and I wonder the Boers did. not let us over as there were no positions for our artillery this side and they absolutely dominated us with theirs. We rode back by Pieter's over our battle ground here and one cannot but keep admiring our infantry for taking such strong hills as they did. Had lunch at the 1/K.R.R. mess.
*Ref to remarks on this page, see end of book.
Hear poor Gen. Woodgate died at Mooi River Hospital, who was wounded at Spion Kop, part of his head and brain taken off by shell, it's a mercy but strange he lived so long.
Rode with May to the Brakfontein and had a good look at Boer position in front of Potgeiters; very strong tho' not so formidable as their position at Colenso. Mail came today; not had any letters for 3 mails.
Charles Howard arrived as extra-aide. Powell and Toby Talbot have also come up here. A good deal of enteric is going about.