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    Chapter 28

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    Chapter 29
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    THE HALT AT PRETORIA

    Lord Roberts had now been six weeks in the capital, and British troops
    had overrun the greater part of the south and west of the Transvaal,
    but in spite of this there was continued Boer resistance, which flared
    suddenly up in places which had been nominally pacified and disarmed.
    It was found, as has often been shown in history, that it is easier to
    defeat a republican army than to conquer it. From Klerksdorp, from
    Ventersdorp, from Rustenburg, came news of risings against the newly
    imposed British authority. The concealed Mauser and the bandolier were
    dug up once more from the trampled corner of the cattle kraal, and the
    farmer was a warrior once again. Vague news of the exploits of De Wet
    stimulated the fighting burghers and shamed those who had submitted.
    A letter was intercepted from the guerilla chief to Cronje's son, who
    had surrendered near Rustenburg. De Wet stated that he had gained two
    great victories and had fifteen hundred captured rifles with which to
    replace those which the burghers had given up. Not only were the
    outlying districts in a state of revolt, but even round Pretoria the
    Boers were inclined to take the offensive, while both that town and
    Johannesburg were filled with malcontents who were ready to fly to
    their arms once more.

    Already at the end of June there were signs that the Boers realised
    how helpless Lord Roberts was until his remounts should arrive. The
    mosquitoes buzzed round the crippled lion. On June 29th there was an
    attack upon Springs near Johannesburg, which was easily beaten off by
    the Canadians. Early in July some of the cavalry and mounted infantry
    patrols were snapped up in the neighbourhood of the capital. Lord
    Roberts gave orders accordingly that Hutton and Mahon should sweep the
    Boers back upon his right, and push them as far as Bronkhorst Spruit.
    This was done on July 6th and 7th, the British advance meeting with
    considerable resistance from artillery as well as rifles. By this
    movement the pressure upon the right was relieved, which might have
    created a dangerous unrest in Johannesburg, and it was done at the
    moderate cost of thirty-four killed and wounded, half of whom belonged
    to the Imperial Light Horse. This famous corps, which had come across
    with Mahon from the relief of Mafeking, had, a few days before, ridden
    with mixed feelings through the streets of Johannesburg and past, in
    many instances, the deserted houses which had once been their
    homes. Many weary months were to pass before the survivors might
    occupy them. On July 9th the Boers again attacked, but were again
    pushed back to the eastward.

    It is probable that all these demonstrations of the enemy upon the
    right of Lord Roberts's extended position were really feints in order
    to cover the far-reaching plans which Botha had in his mind. The
    disposition of the Boer forces at this time appears to have been as
    follows: Botha with his army occupied a position along Delagoa railway
    line, further east than Diamond Hill, whence he detached the bodies
    which attacked Hutton upon the extreme right of the British position
    to the south-east of Pretoria. To the north of Pretoria a second
    force was acting under Grobler, while a third under Delarey had been
    despatched secretly across to the left wing of the British, north-west
    of Pretoria. While Botha engaged the attention of Lord Roberts by
    energetic demonstrations on his right, Grobler and Delarey were to
    make a sudden attack upon his centre and his left, each point being
    twelve or fifteen miles from the other. It was well devised and very
    well carried out; but the inherent defect of it was that, when
    subdivided in this way, the Boer force was no longer strong enough to
    gain more than a mere success of outposts.

    De la Rey's attack was delivered at break of day on July 11th at
    Uitval's Nek, a post some eighteen miles west of the capital. This
    position could not be said to be part of Lord Roberts's line, but
    rather to be a link to connect his army with Rustenburg. It was
    weakly held by three companies of the Lincolns with two others in
    support, one squadron of the Scots Greys, and two guns of 0 battery
    R.H.A. The attack came with the first grey light of dawn, and for
    many hours the small garrison bore up against a deadly fire, waiting
    for the help which never came. All day they held their assailants at
    bay, and it was not until evening that their ammunition ran short and
    they were forced to surrender. Nothing could have been better than the
    behaviour of the men, both infantry, cavalry, and gunners, but their
    position was a hopeless one. The casualties amounted to eighty killed
    and wounded. Nearly two hundred were made prisoners and the two guns
    were taken.

    On the same day that De la Rey made his COUP at Uitval's Nek, Grobler
    had shown his presence on the north side of the town by treating very
    roughly a couple of squadrons of the 7th Dragoon Guards which had
    attacked him. By the help of a section of the ubiquitous 0 battery and
    of the 14th Hussars, Colonel Lowe was able to disengage his cavalry
    from the trap into which they had fallen, but it was at the cost of
    between thirty and forty officers and men killed, wounded, or taken.
    The old 'Black Horse' sustained their historical reputation, and
    fought their way bravely out of an almost desperate situation, where
    they were exposed to the fire of a thousand riflemen and four guns.

    On this same day of skirmishes, July 11th, the Gordons had seen some
    hot work twenty miles or so to the south of Uitval's Nek. Orders had
    been given to the 19th Brigade (Smith-Dorrien's) to proceed to
    Krugersdorp, and thence to make their way north. The Scottish Yeomanry
    and a section of the 78th B.F.A. accompanied them. The idea seems to
    have been that they would be able to drive north any Boers in that
    district, who would then find the garrison of Uitval's Nek at their
    rear. The advance was checked, however, at a place called
    Dolverkrantz, which was strongly held by Boer riflemen. The two guns
    were insufficiently protected, and the enemy got within short range of
    them, killing or wounding many of the gunners. The lieutenant in
    charge, Mr. A. J. Turner, the famous Essex cricketer, worked the gun
    with his own hands until he also fell wounded in three places. The
    situation was now very serious, and became more so when news was
    flashed of the disaster at Uitval's Nek, and they were ordered to
    retire. They could not retire and abandon the guns, yet the fire was
    so hot that it was impossible to remove them. Gallant attempts were
    made by volunteers from the Gordons -- Captain Younger and other brave
    men throwing away their lives in the vain effort to reach and to
    limber up the guns. At last, under the cover of night, the teams were
    harnessed and the two field-pieces successfully removed, while the
    Boers who rushed in to seize them were scattered by a volley. The
    losses in the action were thirty-six and the gain nothing. Decidedly
    July 11th was not a lucky day for the British arms.

    It was well known to Botha that every train from the south was
    bringing horses for Lord Roberts's army, and that it had become
    increasingly difficult for De Wet and his men to hinder their arrival.
    The last horse must win, and the Empire had the world on which to
    draw. Any movement which the Boers would make must be made at once,
    for already both the cavalry and the mounted infantry were rapidly
    coming back to their full strength once more. This consideration must
    have urged Botha to deliver an attack on July 16th, which had some
    success at first, but was afterwards beaten off with heavy loss to the
    enemy. The fighting fell principally upon Pole-Carew and Hutton, the
    corps chiefly engaged being the Royal Irish Fusiliers, the
    New-Zealanders, the Shropshires, and the Canadian Mounted Infantry.
    The enemy tried repeatedly to assault the position, but were beaten
    back each time with a loss of nearly a hundred killed and wounded.
    The British loss was about sixty, and included two gallant young
    Canadian officers, Borden and Birch, the former being the only son of
    the minister of militia. So ended the last attempt made by Botha upon
    the British positions round Pretoria. The end of the war was not yet,
    but already its futility was abundantly evident. This had become more
    apparent since the junction of Hamilton and of Buller had cut off the
    Transvaal army from that of the Free State. Unable to send their
    prisoners away, and also unable to feed them, the Freestaters were
    compelled to deliver up in Natal the prisoners whom they had taken at
    Lindley and Roodeval. These men, a ragged and starving battalion,
    emerged at Ladysmith, having made their way through Van Reenen's
    Pass. It is a singular fact that no parole appears on these and
    similar occasions to have been exacted by the Boers.

    Lord Roberts, having remounted a large part of his cavalry, was ready
    now to advance eastward and give Botha battle. The first town of any
    consequence along the Delagoa Railway is Middelburg, some seventy
    miles from the capital. This became the British objective, and the
    forces of Mahon and Hamilton on the north, of. Pole-Carew in the
    centre, and of French and Hutton to the south, all converged upon
    There was no serious resistance, though the weather was abominable,
    and on July 27th the town was in the hands of the invaders. From that
    date until the final advance to the eastward French held this advanced
    post, while Pole-Carew guarded the railway line. Rumours of trouble
    in the west had convinced Roberts that it was not yet time to push his
    advantage to the east, and he recalled Ian Hamilton's force to act for
    a time upon the other side of the seat of the war. This excellent
    little army, consisting of Mahon's and Pilcher's mounted infantry, M
    battery R.H.A., the Elswick battery, two 5-in. and two 4.7 guns, with
    the Berkshires, the Border Regiment, the Argyle and Sutherlands, and
    the Scottish Borderers, put in as much hard work in marching and in
    fighting as any body of troops in the whole campaign.

    The renewal of the war in the west had begun some weeks before, but
    was much accelerated by the transference of De la Rey and his burghers
    to that side. There is no district in the Transvaal which is better
    worth fighting for, for it is a fair country side, studded with
    farmhouses and green with orange-groves, with many clear streams
    running through it. The first sign of activity appears to have been
    on July 7th, when a commando with guns appeared upon the hills above
    Rustenburg. Hanbury Tracy, commandant of Rustenburg, was suddenly
    confronted with a summons to surrender. He had only 120 men and one
    gun, but he showed a bold front. Colonel Houldsworth, at the first
    whisper of danger, had started from Zeerust with a small force of
    Australian bushmen, and arrived at Rustenburg in time to drive the
    enemy away in a very spirited action. On the evening of July 8th
    Baden-Powell took over the command, the garrison being reinforced by
    Plumer's command.

    The Boer commando was still in existence, however, and it was
    reinforced and reinvigorated by Delarey's success at Uitval's Nek. On
    July 18th they began to close in upon Rustenburg again, and a small
    skirmish took place between them and the Australians. Methuen's
    division, which had been doing very arduous service in the north of
    the Free State during the last six weeks, now received orders to
    proceed into the Transvaal and to pass northwards through the
    disturbed districts en route for Rustenburg, which appeared to be the
    storm centre. The division was transported by train from Kroonstad to
    Krugersdorp, and advanced on the evening of July 18th upon its
    mission, through a bare and fire-blackened country. On the 19th Lord
    Methuen manoeuvred the Boers out of a strong position, with little
    loss to either side. On the 21st he forced his way through Olifant's
    Nek, in the Magaliesberg range, and so established communication with
    Baden-Powell, whose valiant bushmen, under Colonel Airey, had held
    their own in a severe conflict near Magato Pass, in which they lost
    six killed, nineteen wounded, and nearly two hundred horses. The
    fortunate arrival of Captain FitzClarence with the Protectorate
    Regiment helped on this occasion to avert a disaster. The force, only
    300 strong, without guns, had walked into an ugly ambuscade, and only
    the tenacity and resource of the men enabled them ever to extricate
    themselves.

    Although Methuen came within reach of Rustenburg, he did not actually
    join hands with Baden-Powell. No doubt he saw and heard enough to
    convince him that that astute soldier was very well able to take care
    of himself. Learning of the existence of a Boer force in his rear,
    Methuen turned, and on July 29th he was back at Frederickstad on the
    Potchefstroom-Krugersdorp railway. The sudden change in his plans was
    caused doubtless by the desire to head off De Wet in case he should
    cross the Vaal River. Lord Roberts was still anxious to clear the
    neighbourhood of Rustenburg entirely of the enemy; and he therefore,
    since Methuen was needed to complete the cordon round De Wet, recalled
    Hamilton's force from the east and despatched it, as already
    described, to the west of Pretoria.

    Before going into the details of the great De Wet hunt, in which
    Methuen's force was to be engaged, I shall follow Hamilton's division
    across, and give some account of their services. On August 1st he set
    out from Pretoria for Rustenburg. On that day and on the next he had
    brisk skirmishes which brought him successfully through the
    Magaliesberg range with a loss of forty wounded, mostly of the
    Berkshires. On the 5th of August he had made his way to Rustenburg
    and drove off the investing force. A smaller siege had been going on
    to westward, where at Elands River another Mafeking man, Colonel Hore,
    had been held up by the burghers. For some days it was feared, and
    even officially announced, that the garrison had surrendered. It was
    known that an attempt by Carrington to relieve the place on August 5th
    had been beaten back, and that the state of the country appeared so
    threatening that he had been compelled, or had imagined himself to be
    compelled, to retreat as far as Mafeking, evacuating Zeerust and
    Otto's Hoop, abandoning the considerable stores which were collected
    at those places. In spite of all these sinister indications the
    garrison was still holding its own, and on August 16th it was relieved
    by Lord Kitchener.

    This stand at Brakfontein on the Elands River appears to have been one
    of the very finest deeds of arms of the war. The Australians have
    been so split up during the campaign, that though their valour and
    efficiency were universally recognised, they had no single exploit
    which they could call their own. But now they can point to Elands
    River as proudly as the Canadians can to Paardeberg. They were 500 in
    number, Victorians, New South Welshmen, and Queenslanders, the latter
    the larger unit, with a corps of Rhodesians. Under Hore were Major
    Hopper of the Rhodesians, and Major Toubridge of the Queenslanders.
    Two thousand five hundred Boers surrounded them, and most favourable
    terms of surrender were offered and scouted. Six guns were trained
    upon them, and during 11 days 1,800 shells fell within their
    lines. The river was half a mile off, and every drop of water for man
    or beast had to come from there. Nearly all their horses and 75 of
    the men were killed or wounded. With extraordinary energy and
    ingenuity the little band dug shelters which are said to have exceeded
    in depth and efficiency any which the Boers have devised. Neither the
    repulse of Carrington, nor the jamming of their only gun, nor the
    death of the gallant Annett, was sufficient to dishearten them. They
    were sworn to die before the white flag should wave above them. And so
    fortune yielded, as fortune will when brave men set their teeth, and
    Broadwood's troopers, filled with wonder and admiration, rode into the
    lines of the reduced and emaciated but indomitable garrison. When the
    ballad-makers of Australia seek for a subject, let them turn to Elands
    River, for there was no finer resistance in the war. They will not
    grudge a place in their record to the 130 gallant Rhodesians who
    shared with them the honours and the dangers of the exploit.

    On August 7th Ian Hamilton abandoned Rustenburg, taking Baden-Powell
    and his men with him. It was obviously unwise to scatter the British
    forces too widely by attempting to garrison every single town. For
    the instant the whole interest of the war centred upon De Wet and his
    dash into the Transvaal. One or two minor events, however, which
    cannot be fitted into any continuous narrative may be here introduced.

    One of these was the action at Faber's Put, by which Sir Charles
    Warren crushed the rebellion in Griqualand. In that sparsely
    inhabited country of vast distances it was a most difficult task to
    bring the revolt to a decisive ending. This Sir Charles Warren, with
    his special local knowledge and interest, was able to do, aud the
    success is doubly welcome as bringing additional honour to a man who,
    whatever view one may take of his action at Spion Kop, has grown grey
    in the service of the Empire. With a column consisting mainly of
    colonials and of yeomanry he had followed the rebels up to a point
    within twelve miles of Douglas. Here at the end of May they turned
    upon him and delivered a fierce night attack, so sudden and so
    strongly pressed that much credit is due both to General and to troops
    for having repelled it. The camp was attacked on all sides in the
    early dawn. The greater part of the horses were stampeded by the
    firing, and the enemy's riflemen were found to be at very close
    quarters. For an hour the action was warm, but at the end of that time
    the Boers fled, leaving a number of dead behind them. The troops
    engaged in this very creditable action, which might have tried the
    steadiness of veterans, were four hundred of the Duke of Edinburgh's
    volunteers, some of Paget's horse and of the 8th Regiment Imperial
    Yeomanry, four Canadian guns, and twenty-five of Warren's Scouts.
    Their losses were eighteen killed and thirty wounded. Colonel Spence,
    of the volunteers, died at the head of his regiment. A few days
    before, on May 27th, Colonel Adye had won a small engagement at Kheis,
    some distance to the westward, and the effect of the two actions was
    to put an end to open resistance. On June 20th De Villiers, the Boer
    leader, finally surrendered to Sir Charles Warren, handing over two
    hundred and twenty men with stores, rifles, and ammunition. The last
    sparks had for the time been stamped out in the colony.

    There remain to be mentioned those attacks upon trains and upon the
    railway which had spread from the Free State to the Transvaal. On
    July 19th a train was wrecked on the way from Potchefstroom to
    Krugersdorp without serious injury to the passengers. On July 31st,
    however, the same thing occurred with more murderous effect, the train
    running at full speed off the metals. Thirteen of the Shropshires
    were killed and thirty-seven injured in this deplorable affair, which
    cost us more than many an important engagement. On August 2nd a train
    coming up from Bloemfontein was derailed by Sarel Theron and his gang
    some miles south of Kroonstad. Thirty-five trucks of stores were
    burned, and six of the passengers (unarmed convalescent soldiers) were
    killed or wounded. A body of mounted infantry followed up the Boers,
    who numbered eighty, and succeeded in killing and wounding several of
    them.

    On July 21st the Boers made a determined attack upon the railhead at a
    point thirteen miles east of Heidelberg, where over a hundred Royal
    Engineers were engaged upon a bridge. They were protected by three
    hundred Dublin Fusiliers under Major English. For some hours the
    little party was hard pressed by the burghers, who had two
    field-pieces and a pom-pom. They could make no impression, however,
    upon the steady Irish infantry, and after some hours the arrival of
    General Hart with reinforcements scattered the assailants, who
    succeeded in getting their guns away in safety.

    At the beginning of August it must be confessed that the general
    situation in the Transvaal was not reassuring. Springs near
    Johannesburg had in some inexplicable way, without fighting, fallen
    into the hands of the enemy. Klerksdorp, an important place in the
    south-west, had also been reoccupied, and a handful of men who
    garrisoned it had been made prisoners without resistance. Rustenburg
    was about to be abandoned, and the British were known to be falling
    back from Zeerust and Otto's Hoop, concentrating upon Mafeking. The
    sequel proved however, that there was no cause for uneasiness in all
    this. Lord Roberts was concentrating his strength upon those objects
    which were vital, and letting the others drift for a time. At present
    the two obviously important things were to hunt down De Wet and to
    scatter the main Boer army under Botha. The latter enterprise must
    wait upon the former, so for a fortnight all operations were in
    abeyance while the flying columns of the British endeavoured to run
    down their extremely active and energetic antagonist.

    At the end of July De Wet had taken refuge in some exceedingly
    difficult country near Reitzburg, seven miles south of the Vaal
    River. The operations were proceeding vigorously at that time against
    the main army at Fouriesberg, and sufficient troops could not be
    spared to attack him, but he was closely observed by Kitchener and
    Broadwood with a force of cavalry and mounted infantry. With the
    surrender of Prinsloo a large army was disengaged, and it was obvious
    that if De Wet remained where he was he must soon be surrounded. On
    the other hand, there was no place of refuge to the south of him.
    With great audacity he determined to make a dash for the Transvaal, in
    the hope of joining hands with De la Rey's force, or else of making
    his way across the north of Pretoria, and so reaching Botha's army.
    President Steyn went with him, and a most singular experience it must
    have been for him to be harried like a mad dog through the country in
    which he had once been an honoured guest. De Wet's force was
    exceedingly mobile, each man having a led horse, and the ammunition
    being carried in light Cape carts.

    In the first week of August the British began to thicken round his
    lurking-place, and De Wet knew that it was time for him to go. He
    made a great show of fortifying a position, but it was only a ruse to
    deceive those who watched him. Travelling as lightly as possible, he
    made a dash on August 7th at the drift which bears his own name, and
    so won his way across the Vaal River, Kitchener thundering at his
    heels with his cavalry and mounted infantry. Methuen's force was at
    that time at Potchefstroom, and instant orders had been sent to him to
    block the drifts upon the northern side. It was found as he
    approached the river that the vanguard of the enemy was already across
    and that it was holding the spurs of the hills which would cover the
    crossing of their comrades. By the dash of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers
    and the exertions of the artillery ridge after ridge was carried, but
    before evening De Wet with supreme skill had got his convoy across,
    and had broken away, first to the eastward and then to the north. On
    the 9th Methuen was in touch with him again, and the two savage little
    armies, Methuen worrying at the haunch, and De Wet snapping back over
    his shoulder, swept northward over the huge plains. Wherever there was
    ridge or kopje the Boer riflemen staved off the eager pursuers. Where
    the ground lay flat and clear the British guns thundered onwards and
    fired into the lines of wagons. Mile after mile the running fight was
    sustained, but the other British columns, Broadwood's men and
    Kitchener's men, had for some reason not come up. Methuen alone was
    numerically inferior to the men he was chasing, but he held on with
    admirable energy and spirit. The Boers were hustled off the kopjes
    from which they tried to cover their rear. Twenty men of the
    Yorkshire Yeomanry carried one hill with the bayonet, though only
    twelve of them were left to reach the top.

    De Wet trekked onwards during the night of the 9th, shedding wagons
    and stores as he went. He was able to replace some .of his exhausted
    beasts from the farmhouses which he passed. Methuen on the morning of
    the 10th struck away to the west, sending messages back to Broadwood
    and Kitchener in the rear that they should bear to the east, and so
    nurse the Boer column between them. At the same time he sent on a
    messenger, who unfortunately never arrived, to warn Smith-Dorrien at
    Bank Station to throw himself across De Wet's path. On the 11th it was
    realised that De Wet had succeeded, in spite of great exertions upon
    the part of Smith-Dorrien's infantry, in crossing the railway line,
    and that he had left all his pursuers to the south of him. But across
    his front lay the Magaliesberg range. There are only three passes,
    the Magato Pass, Olifant's Nek, and Commando Nek. It was understood
    that all three were held by British troops. It was obvious,
    therefore, that if Methuen could advance in such a way as to cut De
    Wet off from slipping through to the west he would be unable to get
    away. Broadwood and Kitchener would be behind him, and Pretoria, with
    the main British army, to the east.

    Methuen continued to act with great energy and judgment. At three
    A.M. on the 12th be started from Fredericstadt, and by 5 P.M. on
    Tuesday he had done eighty miles in sixty hours. The force which
    accompanied him was all mounted, 1,200 of the Colonial Division (1st
    Brabant's, Cape Mounted Rifles, Kaifrarian Rifles, and Border Horse),
    and the Yeomanry with ten guns. Douglas with the infantry was to
    follow behind, and these brave fellows covered sixty-six miles in
    seventy-six hours in their eagerness to be in time. No men could have
    made greater efforts than did those of Methuen, for there was not one
    who did not appreciate the importance of the issue and long to come to
    close quarters with the wily leader who had baffled us so long.

    On the 12th Methuen's van again overtook De Wet's rear, and the old
    game of rearguard riflemen on one side, and a pushing artillery on the
    other, was once more resumed. All day the Boers streamed over the
    veldt with the guns and the horsemen at their heels. A shot from the
    78th battery struck one of De Wet's guns, which was abandoned and
    captured. Many stores were taken and much more, with the wagons which
    contained them, burned by the Boers. Fighting incessantly, both
    armies traversed thirty-five miles of ground that day.

    It was fully understood that Olifant's Nek was held by the British, so
    Methuen felt that if he could block the Magato Pass all would be
    well. He therefore left De Wet's direct track, knowing that other
    British forces were behind him, and he continued his swift advance
    until he had reached the desired position. It really appeared that at
    last the elusive raider was in a corner. But, alas for fallen hopes,
    and alas for the wasted efforts of gallant men! Olifant's Nek had
    been abandoned and De Wet had passed safely through it into the plains
    beyond, where De la Rey's force was still in possession. In vain
    Methuen's weary column forced the Magato Pass and descended into
    Rustenburg. The enemy was in a safe country once more. Whose the
    fault, or whether there was a fault at all, it is for the future to
    determine. At least unalloyed praise can be given to the Boer leader
    for the admirable way in which he had extricated himself from so many
    dangers. On the 17th,. moving along the northern side of the
    mountains, he appeared at Commando Nek on the Little Crocodile River,
    where he summoned Baden-Powell to surrender, and received some chaff
    in reply from that light-hearted commander. Then, swinging to the
    eastward, he endeavoured to cross to the north of Pretoria. On the
    19th he was heard of at Hebron. Baden-Powell and Paget had, however,
    already barred this path, and De Wet, having sent Steyn on with a
    small escort, turned back to the Free State. On the 22nd it was
    reported that, with only a handful of his followers, he had crossed
    the Magaliesberg range by a bridlepath and was riding southwards.
    Lord Roberts was at last free to turn his undivided attention upon
    Botha.

    Two Boer plots had been discovered during the first half of August,
    the one in Pretoria and the other in Johannesburg, each having for its
    object a rising against the British in the town. Of these the former,
    which was the more serious, involving as it did the kidnapping of Lord
    Roberts, was broken up by the arrest of the deviser, Hans Cordua, a
    German lieutenant in the Transvaal Artillery. On its merits it is
    unlikely that the crime would have been met by the extreme penalty,
    especially as it was a question whether the AGENT PROVOCATEUR had not
    played a part. But the repeated breaches of parole, by which our
    prisoners of one day were in the field against us on the next, called
    imperatively for an example, and it was probably rather for his broken
    faith than for his hare-brained scheme that Cordua died. At the same
    time it is impossible not to feel sorrow for this idealist of
    twenty-three who died for a cause which was not his own. He was shot
    in the garden of Pretoria Gaol upon August 24th. A fresh and more
    stringent proclamation from Lord Roberts showed that the British
    Commander was losing his patience in the face of the wholesale return
    of paroled men to the field, and announced that such perfidy would in
    future be severely punished. It was notorious that the same men had
    been taken and released more than once. One man killed in action was
    found to have nine signed passes in his pocket. It was against such
    abuses that the extra severity of the British was aimed.
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