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    Chapter 25

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    Chapter 26
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    IN the early days of May, when the season of the rains was past and
    the veldt was green, Lord Roberts's six weeks of enforced inaction
    came to an end. He had gathered himself once more for one of those
    tiger springs which should be as sure and as irresistible as that
    which had brought him from Belmont to Bloemfontein, or that other in
    olden days which had carried him from Cabul to Candahar. His army had
    been decimated by sickness, and eight thousand men had passed into the
    hospitals; but those who were with the colours were of high heart,
    longing eagerly for action. Any change which would carry them away
    from the pest-ridden, evils-melling capital which had revenged itself
    so terribly upon the invader must be a change for the
    better. Therefore it was with glad faces and brisk feet that the
    centre column left Bloemfontein on May 1st, and streamed, with bands
    playing, along the northern road.

    On May 3rd the main force was assembled at Karee, twenty miles upon
    their way. Two hundred and twenty separated them from Pretoria, but in
    little more than a month from the day of starting, in spite of broken
    railway, a succession of rivers, and the opposition of the enemy, this
    army was marching into the main street of the Transvaal capital. Had
    there been no enemy there at all, it would still have been a fine
    performance, the more so when one remembers that the army was moving
    upon a front of twenty miles or more, each part of which had to be
    co-ordinated to the rest. It is with the story of this great march
    that the present chapter deals.

    Roberts had prepared the way by clearing out the south-eastern corner
    of the State, and at the moment of his advance his forces covered a
    semicircular front of about forty miles, the right under Ian Hamilton
    near Thabanchu, and the left at Karee. This was the broad net which
    was to be swept from south to north across the Free State, gradually
    narrowing as it went. The conception was admirable, and appears to
    have been an adoption of the Boers' own strategy, which had in turn
    been borrowed from the Zulus. The solid centre could hold any force
    which faced it, while the mobile flanks, Hutton upon the left and
    Hamilton upon the right, could lap round and pin it, as Cronje was
    pinned at Paardeberg. It seems admirably simple when done upon a
    small scale. But when the scale is one of forty miles, since your
    front must be broad enough to envelop the front which is opposed to
    it, and when the scattered wings have to be fed with no railway line
    to help, it takes such a master of administrative detail as Lord
    Kitchener to bring the operations to complete success.

    On May 3rd, the day of the advance from our most northern post, Karee,
    the disposition uf Lord Roberts's army was briefly as follows. On his
    left was Hutton, with his mixed force of mounted infantry drawn from
    every quarter of the empire. This formidable and mobile body, with
    some batteries of horse artillery and of pom-poms, kept a line a few
    miles to the west of the railroad, moving northwards parallel with it.
    Roberts's main column kept on the railroad, which was mended with
    extraordinary speed by the Railway Pioneer regiment and the Engineers,
    under Girouard and the ill-fated Seymour. It was amazing to note the
    shattered culverts as one passed, and yet to be overtaken by trains
    within a day. This main column consisted of Pole-Carew's 11th
    Division, which contained the Guards, and Stephenson's Brigade
    (Warwicks, Essex, Welsh, and Yorkshires). With them were the 83rd,
    84th, and 85th R.F.A., with the heavy guns, and a small force of
    mounted infantry. Passing along the widespread British line one would
    then, after an interval of seven or eight miles, come upon Tucker's
    Division (the 7th), which consisted of Maxwell's Brigade (formerly
    Chermside's -- the Norfoiks, Lincolns, Hampshires, and Scottish
    Borderers) and Wavel's Brigade (North Staffords, Cheshires, East
    Lancashires, South Wales Borderers). To the right of these was
    Ridley's mounted infantry. Beyond them, extending over very many miles
    of country and with considerable spaces between, there came
    Broadwood's cavalry, Bruce Hamilton's Brigade (Derbyshires, Sussex,
    Camerons, and C.I.V.), and finally on the extreme right of all Ian
    Hamilton's force of Highlanders, Canadians, Shropshires, and
    Cornwalls, with cavalry and mounted infantry, starting forty miles
    from Lord Roberts, but edging westwards all the way, to merge with the
    troops next to it, and to occupy Winburg in the way already described.
    This was the army, between forty and fifty thousand strong, with which
    Lord Roberts advanced upon the Transvaal.

    In the meantime he had anticipated that his mobile and enterprising
    opponents would work round and strike at our rear. Ample means had
    been provided for dealing with any attempt of the kind. Rundle with
    the 8th Division aud Brabant's Colonial Division remained in rear of
    the right flank to confront any force which might turn it. At
    Bloemfontein were Kelly-Kenny's Division (the 6th) and Chermside's
    (the 3rd), with a force of cavalry and guns. Methuen, working from
    Kimberley towards Boshof, formed the extreme left wing of the main
    advance, though distant a hundred miles from it. With excellent
    judgment Lord Roberts saw that it was on our right flank that danger
    was to be feared, and here it was that every precaution had been taken
    to meet it.

    The objective of the first day's march was the little town of
    Brandfort, ten miles north of Karee. The head of the main column
    faced it, while the left arm swept round and drove the Boer force from
    their position. Tucker's Division upon the right encountered some
    opposition, but overbore it with artillery. May 4th was a day of rest
    for the infantry, but on the 5th they advanced, in the same order as
    before, for twenty miles, and found themselves to the south of the Vet
    River, where the enemy had prepared for an energetic resistance. A
    vigorous artillery duel ensued, the British guns in the open as usual
    against an invisible enemy. After three hours of a very hot fire the
    mounted infantry got across the river upon the left and turned the
    Boer flank, on which they hastily withdrew. The first lodgment was
    effected by two bodies of Canadians and New-Zealanders, who were
    energetically supported by Captain Anley's 3rd Mounted Infantry. The
    rushing of a kopje by twenty-three West Australians was another
    gallant incident which marked this engagement, in which our losses
    were insignificant. A maxim and twenty or thirty prisoners were taken
    by Hutton's men. The next day (May 6th) the army moved across the
    difficult drift of the Vet River, and halted that night at Smaldeel,
    some five miles to the north of it. At the same time Ian Hamilton had
    been able to advance to Winburg, so that the army had contracted its
    front by about half, but had preserved its relative positions.
    Hamilton, after his junction with his reinforcements at Jacobsrust,
    had under him so powerful a force that he overbore all resistance.
    His actions between Thabanchu and Winburg had cost the Boers heavy
    loss, and in one action the German legion had been overthrown. The
    informal warfare which was made upon us by citizens of many nations
    without rebuke from their own Governments is a matter of which pride,
    and possibly policy, have forbidden us to complain, but it will be
    surprising if it does not prove that their laxity has established a
    very dangerous precedent, and they will find it difficult to object
    when, in the next little war in which either France or Germany is
    engaged, they find a few hundred British adventurers carrying a rifle
    against them.

    The record of the army's advance is now rather geographical than
    military, for it rolled northwards with never a check save that which
    was caused by the construction of the railway diversions which atoned
    for the destruction of the larger bridges. The infantry now, as
    always in the campaign, marched excellently; for though twenty miles
    in the day may seem a moderate allowance to a healthy man upon an
    English road, it is a considerable performance under an African sun
    with a weight of between thirty and forty pounds to be carried. The
    good humour of the men was admirable, and they eagerly longed to close
    with the elusive enemy who flitted ever in front of them. Huge clouds
    of smoke veiled the northern sky, for the Boers had set fire to the
    dry grass, partly to cover their own retreat, and partly to show up
    our khaki upon the blackened surface. Far on the flanks the twinkling
    heliographs revealed the position of the wide-spread wings.

    On May 10th Lord Roberts's force, which had halted for three days at
    Smaldeel, moved onwards to Welgelegen. French's cavalry had come up
    by road, and quickly strengthened the centre and left wing of the
    army. On the morning of the 10th the invaders found themselves
    confronted by a formidable position which the Boers had taken up on
    the northern bank of the Sand River. Their army extended over twenty
    miles of country, the two Bothas were in command, and everything
    pointed to a pitched battle. Had the position been rushed from the
    front, there was every material for a second Colenso, but the British
    had learned that it was by brains rather than by blood that such
    battles may be won. French's cavalry turned the Boers on one side,
    and Bruce Hamilton's infantry on the other. Theoretically we never
    passed the Boer flanks, but practically their line was so over
    extended that we were able to pierce it at any point. There was never
    any severe fighting, but rather a steady advance upon the British side
    and a steady retirement upon that of the Boers. On the left the
    Sussex regiment distinguished itself by the dash with which it stormed
    an important kopje. The losses were slight, save among a detached
    body of cavalry which found itself suddenly cut off by a strong force
    of the enemy and lost Captain Elworthy killed, and Haig of the
    Inniskillings, Wilkinson of the Australian Horse, and twenty men
    prisoners. We also secured forty or fifty prisoners, and the enemy's
    casualties amounted to about as many more. The whole straggling
    action fought over a front as broad as from London to Woking cost the
    British at the most a couple of hundred casualties, and carried their
    army over the most formidable defensive position which they were to
    encounter. The war in its later phases certainly has the pleasing
    characteristic of being the most bloodless, considering the number of
    men engaged and the amount of powder burned, that has been known in
    history. It was at the expense of their boots and not of their lives
    that the infantry won their way.

    On May 11th Lord Roberts's army advanced twenty miles to Geneva
    Siding, and every preparation was made for a battle next day, as it
    was thought certain that the Boers would defend their new capital,
    Kroonstad. It proved, however, that even here they would not make a
    stand, and on May 12th, at one o'clock, Lord Roberts rode into the
    town. Steyn, Botha, and De Wet escaped, and it was announced that the
    village of Lindley had become the new seat of government. The British
    had now accomplished half their journey to Pretoria, and it was
    obvious that on the south side of the Vaal no serious resistance
    awaited them. Burghers were freely surrendering themselves with their
    arms, and returning to their farms. In the south-east Rundle and
    Brabant were slowly advancing, while the Boers who faced them fell
    back towards Lindley. On the west, Hunter had crossed the Vaal at
    Windsorton, and Barton's Fusiller Brigade had fought a sharp action at
    Rooidam, while Mahon's Mafeking relief column had slipped past their
    flank, escaping the observation of the British public, but certainly
    not that of the Boers. The casualties in the Rooidam action were nine
    killed and thirty wounded, but the advance of the Fusiliers was
    irresistible, and for once the Boer loss, as they were hustled from
    kopje to kopje, appears to have been greater than that of the British.
    The Yeomanry had an opportunity of showing once more that there are
    few more high-mettled troops in South Africa than these good sportsmen
    of the shires, who only showed a trace of their origin in their
    irresistible inclination to burst into a 'tally-ho!' when ordered to
    attack. The Boer forces fell back after the action along the line of
    the Vaal, making for Christiana and Bloemhof. Hunter entered into the
    Transvaal in pursuit of them, being the first to cross the border,
    with the exception of raiding Rhodesians early in the war. Methuen, in
    the meanwhile, was following a course parallel to Hunter but south of
    him, Hoopstad being his immediate objective. The little union jacks
    which were stuck in the war maps in so many British households were
    now moving swiftly upwards.

    Buller's force was also sweeping northwards, and the time had come
    when the Ladysmith garrison, restored at last to health and strength,
    should have a chance of striking back at those who had tormented them
    so long. Many of the best troops had been drafted away to other
    portions of the seat of war. Hart's Brigade and Barton's Fusilier
    Brigade had gone with Hunter to form the 10th Division upon the
    Kimberley side, and the Imperial Light Horse had been brought over for
    the relief of Mafeking. There remained, however, a formidable force,
    the regiments in which had been strengthened by the addition of drafts
    and volunteers from home. Not less than twenty thousand sabres and
    bayonets were ready and eager for the passage of the Biggarsberg

    This line of rugged hills is pierced by only three passes, each of
    which was held in strength by the enemy. Considerable losses must
    have ensued from any direct attempt to force them. Buller, however,
    with excellent judgment, demonstrated in front of them with Hildyard's
    men, while the rest of the army, marching round, outflanked the line
    of resistance, and on May 15th pounced upon Dundee. Much had happened
    since that October day when Penn Symons led his three gallant
    regiments up Talana Hill, but now at last, after seven weary months,
    the ground was reoccupied which he had gained. His old soldiers
    visited his grave, and the national flag was raised over the remains
    of as gallant a man as ever died for the sake of it.

    The Boers, whose force did not exceed a few thousands, were now rolled
    swiftly back through Northern Natal into their own country. The long
    strain at Ladysmith had told upon them, and the men whom we had to
    meet were very different from the warriors of Spion Kop and
    Nicholson's Nek. They had done magnificently, but there is a limit to
    human endurance, and no longer would these peasants face the bursting
    lyddite and the bayonets of angry soldiers. There is little enough for
    us to boast of in this. Some pride might be taken in the campaign
    when at a disadvantage we were facing superior numbers, but now we
    could but deplore the situation in which these poor valiant burghers
    found themselves, the victims of a rotten government and of their own
    delusions. Hofer's Tyrolese, Charette's Vendeans, or Bruce's
    Scotchmen never fought a finer fight than these children of the veldt,
    but in each case they combated a real and not an imaginary tyrant. It
    is heart-sickening to think of the butchery, the misery, the
    irreparable losses, the blood of men, and the bitter tears of women,
    all of which might have been spared had one obstinate and ignorant man
    been persuaded to allow the State which he ruled to conform to the
    customs of every other civilised State upon the earth.

    Buller was now moving with a rapidity and decision which contrast
    pleasantly with some of his earlier operations. Although Dundee was
    only occupied on May 15th, on May 18th his vanguard was in Newcastle,
    fifty miles to the north. In nine days he had covered 138 miles. On
    the 19th the army lay under the loom of that Majuba which had cast its
    sinister shadow for so long over South African politics. In front was
    the historical Laing's Nek, the pass which leads from Natal into the
    Transvaal, while through it runs the famous railway tunnel. Here the
    Boers had taken up that position which had proved nineteen years
    before to be too strong for British troops. The Rooineks had come
    back after many days to try again. A halt was called, for the ten
    days' supplies which had been taken with the troops were exhausted,
    and it was necessary to wait until the railway should be repaired.
    This gave time for Hildyard's 5th Division and Lyttelton's 4th
    Division to close up on Clery's 2nd Division, which with Dundonald's
    cavalry had formed our vanguard throughout. The only losses of any
    consequence during this fine march fell upon a single squadron of
    Bethune's mounted infantry, which being thrown out in the direction of
    Vryheid, in order to make sure that our flank was clear, fell into an
    ambuscade and was almost annihilated by a close-range fire. Sixty-six
    casualties, of which nearly half were killed, were the result of this
    action, which seems to have depended, like most of our reverses, upon
    defective scouting. Buller, having called up his two remaining
    divisions and having mended the railway behind him, proceeded now to
    manoeuvre the Boers out of Laing's Nek exactly as he had manceuvred
    them out of the Biggarsberg. At the end of May Hildyard and Lyttelton
    were despatched in an eastern direction, as if there were an intention
    of turning the pass from Utrecht.

    It was on May 12th that Lord Roberts occupied Kroonstad, and he halted
    there for eight days before he resumed his advance. At the end of
    that time his railway had been repaired, and enough supplies brought
    up to enable him to advance again without anxiety. The country through
    which he passed swarmed with herds and flocks, but, with as scrupulous
    a regard for the rights of property as Wellington showed in the south
    of France, no hungry soldier was allowed to take so much as a chicken
    as he passed. The punishment for looting was prompt and stern. It is
    true that farms were burned occasionally and the stock confiscated,
    but this was as a punishment for some particular offence and not part
    of a system. The limping Tommy looked askance at the fat geese which
    covered the dam by the roadside, but it was as much as his life was
    worth to allow his fingers to close round those tempting white necks.
    On foul water and bully beef he tramped through a land of plenty.

    Lord Roberts's eight days' halt was spent in consolidating the general
    military situation. We have already shown how Buller had crept
    upwards to the Natal Border. On the west Methuen reached Hoopstad and
    Hunter Christiana, settling the country and collecting arms as they
    went. Rundle in the south-east took possession of the rich grain
    lands, and on May 21st entered Ladybrand. In front of him lay that
    difilcult hilly country about Senekal, Ficksburg, and Bethlehem which
    was to delay him so long. Ian Hamilton was feeling his way northwards
    to the right of the railway line, and for the moment cleared the
    district between Lindley and Heilbron, passing through both towns and
    causing Steyn to again change his capital, which became Vrede, in the
    extreme north-east of the State. During these operations Hamilton had
    the two formidable De Wet brothers in front of him, and suffered
    nearly a hundred casualties in the continual skirmishing which
    accompanied his advance. His right flank and rear were continually
    attacked, and these signs of forces outside our direct line of advance
    were full of menace for the future.

    On May 22nd the main army resumed its advance, moving forward fifteen
    miles to Honing's Spruit. On the 23rd another march of twenty miles
    over a fine roiling prairie brought them to Rhenoster River. The
    enemy had made some preparations for a stand, but Hamilton was near
    Heilbron upon their left and French was upon their right flank. The
    river was crossed without opposition. On the 24th the army was at
    Vredefort Road, and on the 26th the vanguard crossed the Vaal River at
    Viljoen's Drift, the whole army following on the 27th. Hamilton's
    force had been cleverly swung across from the right to the left flank
    of the British, so that the Boers were massed on the wrong side.

    Preparations for resistance had been made on the line of the railway,
    but the wide turning movements on the flanks by the indefatigable
    French and Hamilton rendered all opposition of no avail. The British
    columns flowed over and onwards without a pause, tramping steadily
    northwards to their destination. The bulk of the Free State forces
    refused to leave their own country, and moved away to the eastern and
    northern portion of the State, where the British Generals thought --
    incorrectly, as the future was to prove -- that no further harm would
    come from them. The State which they were in arms to defend had really
    ceased to exist, for already it had been publicly proclaimed at
    Bloemfontein in the Queen's name that the country had been annexed to
    the Empire, and that its style henceforth was that of 'The Orange
    River Colony.' Those who think this measure unduly harsh must remember
    that every mile of land which the Freestaters had conquered in the
    early part of the war had been solemnly annexed by them. At the same
    time, those Englishmen who knew the history of this State, which had
    once been the model of all that a State should be, were saddened by
    the thought that it should have deliberately committed suicide for the
    sake of one of the most corrupt governments which have ever been
    known. Had the Transvaal been governed as the Orange Free State was,
    such an event as the second Boer war could never have occurred.

    Lord Roberts's tremendous march was now drawing to a close. On May
    28th the troops advanced twenty miles, and passed Klip River without
    fighting. It was observed with surprise that the Transvaalers were
    very much more careful of their own property than they had been of
    that of their allies, and that the railway was not damaged at all by
    the retreating forces. The country had become more populous, and far
    away upon the low curves of the hills were seen high chimneys and
    gaunt iron pumps which struck the north of England soldier with a pang
    of homesickness. This long distant hill was the famous Rand, and
    under its faded grasses lay such riches as Solomon never took from
    Ophir. It was the prize of victory; and yet the prize is not to the
    victor, for the dust-grimed officers and men looked with little
    personal interest at this treasure-house of the world. Not one penny
    the richer would they be for the fact that their blood and their
    energy had brought justice and freedom to the gold fields. They had
    opened up an industry for the world, men of all nations would be the
    better for their labours, the miner and the financier or the trader
    would equally profit by them, but the men in khaki would tramp on,
    unrewarded and uncomplaining, to India, to China, to any spot where
    the needs of their worldwide empire called them.

    The infantry, streaming up from the Vaal River to the famous ridge of
    gold, had met with no resistance upon the way, but great mist banks of
    cloud by day and huge twinkling areas of flame by night showed the
    handiwork of the enemy. Hamilton and French, moving upon the left
    flank, found Boers thick upon the hills, but cleared them off in a
    well-managed skirmish which cost us a dozen casualties. On May 29th,
    pushing swiftly along, French found the enemy posted very strongly
    with several guns at Doornkop, a point west of Klip River Berg. The
    cavalry leader had with him at this stage three horse batteries, four
    pom-poms, and 3,000 mounted men. The position being too strong for him
    to force, Hamilton's infantry (19th and 21st Brigades) were called up,
    and the Boers were driven out. That splendid corps, the Gordons, lost
    nearly a hundred men in their advance over the open, and the C.I.V.s
    on the other flank fought like a regiment of veterans. There had been
    an inclination to smile at these citizen soldiers when they first came
    out, but no one smiled now save the General who felt that he had them
    at his back. Hamilton's attack was assisted by the menace rather than
    the pressure of French's turning movement on the Boer right, but the
    actual advance was as purely frontal as any of those which had been
    carried through at the beginning of the war. The open formation of
    the troops, the powerful artillery behind them, and perhaps also the
    lowered morale of the enemy combined to make such a movement less
    dangerous than of old. In any case it was inevitable, as the state of
    Hamilton's commisariat rendered it necessary that at all hazards he
    should force his way through.

    Whilst this action of Doornkop was fought by the British left flank,
    Henry's mounted infantry in the centre moved straight upon the
    important junction of Germiston, which lies amid the huge white heaps
    of tailings from the mines. At this point, or near it, the lines from
    Johannesburg and from Natal join the line to Pretoria. Colonel
    Henry's advance was an extremely daring one, for the infantry were
    some distance behind; but after an irregular scrambling skirmish, in
    which the Boer snipers had to be driven off the mine heaps and from
    among the houses, the 8th mounted infantry got their grip of the
    railway and held it. The exploit was a very fine one, and stands out
    the more brilliantly as the conduct of the campaign cannot be said to
    afford many examples of that well-considered audacity which
    deliberately runs the risk of the minor loss for the sake of the
    greater gain. Henry was much assisted by J battery R.H.A., which was
    handled with energy and judgment.

    French was now on the west of the town, Henry had cut the railway on
    the east, and Roberts was coming up from the south. His infantry had
    covered 130 miles in seven days, but the thought that every step
    brought them nearer to Pretoria was as exhilarating as their fifes and
    drums. On May 30th the victorious troops camped outside the city
    while Botha retired with his army, abandoning without a battle the
    treasure-house of his country. Inside the town were chaos and
    confusion. The richest mines in the world lay for a day or more at
    the mercy of a lawless rabble drawn from all nations. The Boer
    officials were themselves divided in opinion, Krause standing for law
    and order while Judge Koch advocated violence. A spark would have set
    the town blazing, and the worst was feared when a crowd of mercenaries
    assembled in front of the Robinson mine with threats of violence. By
    the firmness and tact of Mr. Tucker, the manager, and by the strong
    attitude of Commissioner Krause, the situation was saved and the
    danger passed. Upon May 31st, without violence to life or destruction
    to property, that great town which British hands have done so much to
    build found itself at last under the British flag. May it wave there
    so long as it covers just laws, honest officials, and clean-handed
    administrators -- so long and no longer!

    And now the last stage of the great journey had been reached. Two
    days were spent at Johannesburg while supplies were brought up, and
    then a move was made upon Pretoria thirty miles to the north. Here was
    the Boer capital, the seat of government, the home of Kruger, the
    centre of all that was anti-British, crouching amid its hills, with
    costly forts guarding every face of it. Surely at last the place had
    been found where that great battle should be fought which should
    decide for all time whether it was with the Briton or with the
    Dutchman that the future of South Africa lay.

    On the last day of May two hundred Lancers under the command of Major
    Hunter Weston, with Charles of the Sappers and. Burnham the scout, a
    man who has played the part of a hero throughout the campaign, struck
    off from the main army and endeavoured to descend upon the
    Pretoria-Delagoa railway line with the intention of blowing up a bridge
    and cutting the Boer line of retreat. It was a most dashing attempt;
    but the small party had the misfortune to come into contact with a
    strong Boer commando, who headed them off. After a skirmish they were
    compelled to make their way back with a loss of five killed and
    fourteen wounded.

    The cavalry under French had waited for the issue of this enterprise
    at a point nine miles north of Johannesburg. On June 2nd it began its
    advance with orders to make a wide sweep round to the westward, and so
    skirt the capital, cutting the Pietersburg railway to the north of it.
    The country in the direct line between Johannesburg and Pretoria
    consists of a series of rolling downs which are admirably adapted for
    cavalry work, but the detour which French had to make carried him into
    the wild and broken district which lies to the north of the Little
    Crocodile River. Here he was fiercely attacked on ground where his
    troops could not deploy, but with extreme coolness and judgment beat
    off the enemy. To cover thirty-two miles in a day and fight a way out
    of an ambuscade in the evening is an ordeal for any leader and for any
    troops. Two killed and seven wounded were our trivial losses in a
    situation which might have been a serious one. The Boers appear to
    have been the escort of a strong convoy which had passed along the
    road some miles in front. Next morning both convoy and opposition had
    disappeared. The cavalry rode on amid a country of orange groves, the
    troopers standing up in their stirrups to pluck the golden fruit.
    There was no further fighting, and on June 4th French had establisbed
    himself upon the north of the town, where he learned that all
    resistance had ceased.

    Whilst the cavalry had performed this enveloping movement the main
    army had moved swiftly upon its objective, leaving one brigade behind
    to secure Johannesburg. Ian Hamilton advanced upon the left, while
    Lord Roberts's column kept the line of the railway, Colonel Henry's
    mounted infantry scouting in front. As the army topped the low curves
    of the veldt they saw in front of them two well-marked hills, each
    crowned by a low squat building. They were the famous southern forts
    of Pretoria. Between the hills was a narrow neck, and beyond the Boer

    For a time it appeared that the entry was to be an absolutely
    bloodless one, but the booming of cannon and the crash of Mauser fire
    soon showed that the enemy was in force upon the ridge. Botha had
    left a strong rearguard to hold off the British while his own stores
    and valuables were being withdrawn from the town. The silence of the
    forts showed that the guns had been removed and that no prolonged
    resistance was intended; but in the meanwhile fringes of determined
    riflemen, supported by cannon, held the approaches, and must be driven
    off before an entry could be effected. Each fresh corps as it came up
    reinforced the firing line. Henry's mounted infantrymen supported by
    the horse-guns of J battery and the guns of Tucker's division began
    the action. So hot was the answer, both from cannon and from rifle,
    that it seemed for a time as if a real battle were at last about to
    take place. The Guards' Brigade, Stephenson's Brigade, and Maxwell's
    Brigade streamed up and waited until Hamilton, who was on the enemy's
    right flank, should be able to make his presence felt. The heavy guns
    had also arrived, and a huge cloud of DEBRIS rising from the Pretorian
    forts told the accuracy of their fire.

    But either the burghers were half-hearted or there was no real
    intention to make a stand. About half-past two their fire slackened
    and Pole-Carew was directed to push on. That debonnaire soldier with
    his two veteran brigades obeyed the order with alacrity, and the
    infantry swept over the ridge, with some thirty or forty casualties,
    the majority of which fell to the Warwicks. The position was taken,
    and Hamilton, who came up late, was only able to send on De Lisle's
    mounted infantry, chiefly Australians, who ran down one of the Boer
    maxims in the open. The action had cost us altogether about seventy
    men. Among the injured was the Duke of Norfolk, who had shown a high
    sense of civic virtue in laying aside the duties and dignity of a
    Cabinet Minister in order to serve as a simple captain of
    volunteers. At the end of this one fight the capital lay at the mercy
    of Lord Roberts. Consider the fight which they made for their chief
    city, compare it with that which the British made for the village of
    Mafeking, and say on which side is that stern spirit of self-sacrifice
    and resolution which are the signs of the better cause.

    In the early morning of June 5th, the Coldstream Guards were mounting
    the hills which commanded the town. Beneath them in the clear African
    air lay the famous city, embowered in green, the fine central
    buildings rising grandly out of the wide circle of villas. Through the
    Nek part of the Guards' Brigade and Maxwell's Brigade had passed, and
    had taken over the station, from which at least one train laden with
    horses had steamed that morning. Two others, both ready to start,
    were only just stopped in time.

    The first thought was for the British prisoners, and a small party
    headed by the Duke of Marlborough rode to their rescue. Let it be
    said once for all that their treatment by the Boers was excellent and
    that their appearance would alone have proved it. One hundred and
    twenty-nine officers and thirty-nine soldiers were found in the Model
    Schools, which had been converted into a prison. A day later our
    cavalry arrived at Waterval, which is fourteen miles to the north of
    Pretoria. Here were confined three thousand soldiers, whose fare had
    certainly been of the scantiest, though in other respects they appear
    to have been well treated.[Footnote: Further information unfortunately
    shows that in the case of the sick and of the Colonial prisoners the
    treatment was by no meanu good.] Nine hundred of their comrades had
    been removed by the Boers, but Porter's cavalry was in time to release
    the others, under a brisk shell fire from a Boer gun upon the ridge.
    Many pieces of good luck we had in the campaign, but this recovery of
    our prisoners, which left the enemy without a dangerous lever for
    exacting conditions of peace, was the most fortunate of all.

    In the centre of the town there is a wide square decorated or
    disfigured by a bare pedestal upon which a statue of the President was
    to have been placed. Hard by is the bleak barnlike church in which he
    preached, and on either side are the Government offices and the Law
    Courts, buildings which would grace any European capital. Here, at
    two o'clock on the afternoon of June 5th, Lord Roberts sat his horse
    and saw pass in front of him the men who had followed him so far and
    so faithfully -- the Guards, the Essex, the Welsh, the Yorks, the
    Warwicks, the guns, the mounted infantry, the dashing irregulars, the
    Gordons, the Canadians, the Shropshires, the Cornwalls, the Camerons,
    the Derbys, the Sussex, and the London Volunteers. For over two hours
    the khaki waves with their crests of steel went sweeping by. High
    above their heads from the summit of the Raad-saal the broad Union
    Jack streamed for the first time. Through months of darkness we had
    struggled onwards to the light. Now at last the strange drama seemed
    to be drawing to its close. The God of battles had given the
    long-withheld verdict. But of all the hearts which throbbed high at
    that supreme moment there were few who felt one touch of bitterness
    towards the brave men who had been overborne. They had fought and
    died for their ideal. We had fought and died for ours. The hope for
    the future of South Africa is that they or their descendants may learn
    that that banner which has come to wave above Pretoria means no racial
    intolerance, no greed for gold, no paltering with injustice or
    corruption, but that it means one law for all and one freedom for all,
    as it does in every other continent in the whole broad earth. When
    that is learned it may happen that even they will come to date a
    happier life and a wider liberty from that 5th of June which saw the
    symbol of their nation pass for ever from among the ensigns of the
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