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    Chapter 38

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    Chapter 39
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    DE LA REY'S CAMPAIGN OF 1902

    IT will be remembered that at the close of 1901 Lord Methuen and
    Colonel Kekewich had both come across to the eastern side of their
    district and made their base at the railway line in the Klerksdorp
    section. Their position was strengthened by the fact that a
    blockhouse cordon now ran from Klerksdorp to Ventersdorp, and from
    Ventersdorp to Potchefstroom, so that this triangle could be
    effectively controlled. There remained, however, a huge tract of
    difficult country which was practically in the occupation of the
    enemy. Several thousand stalwarts were known to be riding with De la
    Rey and his energetic lieutenant Kemp. The strenuous operations of
    the British in the Eastern Transvaal and in the Orauge River Colony
    had caused this district to be comparatively neglected, and so
    everything was in favour of an aggressive movement of the Boers.
    There was a long lull after the unsuccessful attack upon Kekewich's
    camp at Moedwill, but close observers of the war distrusted this
    ominous calm and expected a storm to follow.

    The new year found the British connecting Ventersdorp with Tafelkop by
    a blockhouse line. The latter place had been a centre of Boer
    activity. Colonel Hickie's column covered this operation. Meanwhile
    Methuen had struck across through Wolmaranstad as far as Vryburg.
    In these operations, which resulted in constant small captures, he was
    assisted by a column under Major Paris working from Kimberley. From
    Vryburg Lord Methuen made his way in the middle of January to
    Lichtenburg, meeting with a small rebuff in the neighbourhood of that
    town, for a detachment of Yeomanry was overwhelmed by General
    Celliers, who killed eight, wounded fifteen, and captured forty. From
    Lichtenburg Lord Methuen continued his enormous trek, and arrived on
    February 1st at Klerksdorp once more. Little rest was given to his
    hard-worked troops, and they were sent off again within the week under
    the command of Von Donop, with the result that on February 8th, near
    Wolmaranstad, they captured Potgieter's laager with forty Boer
    prisoners. Von Donop remained at Wolmaranstad until late in FebruaTy;
    On the 23rd he despatched an empty convoy back to Klerksdorp, the fate
    of which will be afterwards narrated.

    Kekewich and Hickie had combined their forces at the beginning of
    February. On February 4th an attempt was made by them to surprise
    General De la Rey. The mounted troops who were despatched under Major
    Leader failed in this enterprise, but they found and overwhelmed the
    laager of Sarel Alberts, capturing 132 prisoners. By stampeding the
    horses the Boer retreat was cut off, and the attack was so furiously
    driven home, especialy by the admirable Scottish Horse, that few of
    the enemy got away. Alberts himself with all his officers were among
    the prisoners. From this time until the end of February this column
    was not seriously engaged.

    It has been stated above that on February 23rd Von Donop sent in an
    empty convoy from Wolmaranstad to Klerksdorp, a distance of about
    fifty miles. Nothing bad been heard for some time of De la Rey, but he
    had called together his men and was waiting to bring off some coup.
    The convoy gave him the very opportunity for which he sought.

    The escort of the convoy consisted of the 5th Imperial Yeomanry, sixty
    of Paget's Horse, three companies of the ubiquitous Northumberland
    Fusiliers, two guns of the 4th R.F.A., and a pom-pom, amounting in all
    to 630 men. Colonel Anderson was in command. On the morning of
    Tuesday, February 25th, the convoy was within ten miles of its
    destination, and the sentries on the kopjes round the town could see
    the gleam of the long line of white-tilted wagons. Their hazardous
    voyage was nearly over, and yet they were destined to most complete
    and fatal wreck within sight of port. So confident were they that the
    detachment of Paget's Horse was permitted to ride on the night before
    into the town. It was as well, for such a handful would have shared
    and could not have averted the disaster.

    The night had been dark and wet, and the Boers under cover of it had
    crept between the sleeping convoy and the town. Some bushes which
    afford excellent cover lie within a few hundred yards of the road, and
    here the main ambush was laid. In the first grey of the morning the
    long line of the convoy, 130 wagons in all, came trailing past-guns
    and Yeomanry in front, Fusiliers upon the flanks and rear. Suddenly
    the black bank of scrub was outlined in flame, and a furious rifle
    fire was opened upon the head of the column. The troops behaved
    admirably under most difficult circumstances. A counter-attack by the
    Fusiliers and some of the Yeomanry, under cover of shrapnel from the
    guns, drove the enemy out of the scrub and silenced his fire at this
    point. It was evident, however, that he was present in force, for
    firing soon broke out along the whole left flank, and the rearguard
    found itself as warmly attacked as the van. Again, bowever, the
    assailants were driven off. It was now broad daylight, and the
    wagons, which had got into great confusion in the first turmoil of
    battle, had been remarshalled and arranged. It was Colonel Anderson's
    hope that he might be able to send them on into safety while he with
    the escort covered their retreat. His plan was certainly the best
    one, and if it did not succeed it was due to nothing which he could
    avert, but to the nature of the ground and the gallantry of the enemy.

    The physical obstacle consisted in a very deep and difficult spruit,
    the Jagd Spruit, which forms an ugly passage in times of peace, but
    which when crowded and choked with stampeding mules and splintering
    wagons, under their terrified conductors, soon became impassable. Here
    the head of the column was clubbed and the whole line came to a stand.
    Meanwhile the enemy, adopting their new tactics, came galloping in on
    the left flank I and on the rear. The first attack was repelled by
    the steady fire of the Fusiliers, but on the second occasion the
    horsemen got up to the wagons, and galloping down them were able to
    overwhelm in detail the little knots of soldiers who were scattered
    along the flank. The British, who were outnumbered by at least three
    to one, made a stout resistance, and it was not until seven o'clock
    that the last shot was fired. The result was a complete success to
    the burghers, but one which leaves no shadow of discredit on any
    officer or man among those who were engaged. Eleven officers and 176
    men fell out of about 550 actually engaged. The Boers, so the teams
    were shot and the wagons burned before they withdrew. The prisoners
    too, they were unable to retain, and their sole permanent trophies
    consisted of the two guns, the rifles, and the ammunition. Their own
    losses amounted to about fifty killed and wounded.

    A small force sallied out from Klerksdorp in the hope of helping
    Anderson, but on reaching the Jagd Drift it was found that the
    fighting was over and that the field was in possession of the
    Boers. De la Rey was seen in person among the burghers, and it is
    pleasant to add that he made himself conspicuous by his humanity to
    the wounded. His force drew off in the course of the morning, and was
    soon out of reach of immediate pursuit, though this was attempted by
    Kekewich, Von Donop, and Grenfell. It was important to regain the
    guns if possible, as they were always a menace to the blockhouse
    system, and for this purpose Grenfell with sixteen hundred horsemen
    was despatched to a point south of Lichtenburg, which was conjectured
    to be upon the Boer line of retreat. At the same time Lord Methuen
    was ordered up from Vryburg in order to cooperate in this movement,
    and to join his forces to those of Grenfell. It was obvious that with
    an energetic and resolute adversary like De la Rey there was great
    danger of these two forces being taken in detail, but it was hoped
    that each was strong enough to hold its own until the other could come
    to its aid. The result was to show that the danger was real and the
    hope fallacious.

    It was on March 2nd that Methuen left Vryburg. The column was not his
    old one, consisting of veterans of the trek, but was the Kimberley
    column under Major Paris, a body of men who bad seen much less service
    and were in every way less reliable. It included a curious mixture of
    units, the most solid of which were four guns (two of the 4th, and two
    of the 38th R.F.A.), 200 Northumberland Fusiliers, and 100 Loyal North
    Lancashires. The mounted men included 5th Imperial Yeomanry (184),
    Cape Police (233), Cullinan's Horse (64), 86th Imperial Yeomanry
    (110), Diamond Fields Horse (92), Dennison' s Scouts (58), Ashburner's
    Horse (126), and British South African Police (24). Such a collection
    of samples would be more in place, one would imagine, in a London
    procession than in an operation which called for discipline and
    cohesion. In warfare the half is often greater than the whole, and
    the presence of a proportion of halfhearted and inexperienced men may
    be a positive danger to their more capable companions.

    Upon March 6th Methuen, marching east towards Lichtenburg, came in
    touch near Leeuwspruit with Van Zyl's commando, and learned in the
    small skirmish which ensued that some of his Yeomanry were unreliable
    and ill-instructed. Having driven the enemy off by his artillery
    fire, Methuen moved to Tweebosch, where he laagered until next
    morning. At 3 A.M. of the 7th the ox-convoy was sent on, under escort
    of half of his little force. The other half followed at 4.20, 50 as
    to give the slow-moving oxen a chance of keeping ahead. It was
    evident, however, immediately after the column had got started that
    the enemy were all round in great numbers, and that an attack in force
    was to be expected. Lord Methuen gave orders therefore that the
    ox-wagons should be halted and that the mule-transport should close
    upon them so as to form one solid block, instead of a straggling line.
    At the same time he reinforced his rearguard with mounted men and with
    two guns, for it was in that quarter that the enemy appeared to be
    most numerous and aggressive. An attack was also developing upon the
    right flank, which was held off by the infantry and by the second
    section of the guns.

    It has been said that Methuen's horsemen were for the most part
    inexperienced irregulars. Such men become in time excellent soldiers,
    as all this campaign bears witness, but it is too much to expose them
    to a severe ordeal in the open field when they are still raw and
    untrained. As it happened, this particular ordeal was exceedingly
    severe, but nothing can excuse the absolute failure of the troops
    concerned to rise to the occasion. Had Methuen's rearguard consisted
    of Imperial Light Horse, or Scottish Horse, it is safe to say that the
    battle of Tweebosch would have had a very different ending.

    What happened was that a large body of Boers formed up in five lines
    and charged straight home at the rear screen and rearguard, firing
    from their saddles as they had done at Brakenlaagte. The sight of
    those wide-flung lines of determined men galloping over the plain
    seems to have been too much for the nerves of the unseasoned troopers.
    A panic spread through their ranks, and in an instant they had turned
    their horses' heads and were thundering to their rear, leaving the two
    guns uncovered and streaming in wild confusion past the left flank of
    the jeering infantry who were lying round the wagons. The limit of
    their flight seems to have been the wind of their horses, and most of
    them never drew rein until they had placed many miles between
    themselves and the comrades whom they had deserted. ' It was
    pitiable,' says an eye-witness, 'to see the grand old General begging
    them to stop, but they would not; a large body of them arrived in
    Kraaipan without firing a shot,' It was a South African 'Battle of the
    Spurs,'

    By this defection of the greater portion of the force the handful of
    brave men who remained were left in a hopeless position. The two guns
    of the 38th battery were overwhelmed and ridden over by the Boer
    horsemen, every man being killed or wounded, including Lieutenant
    Nesham, who acted up to the highest traditions of his corps.

    The battle, however, was not yet over. The infantry were few in
    number, but they were experienced troops, and they maintained the
    struggle for some hours in the face of overwhelming numbers. Two
    hundred of the Northumberland Fusiliers lay round the wagons and held
    the Boers off from their prey. With them were the two remaining guns,
    which were a mark for a thousand Boer riflemen. It was while
    encouraging by his presence and example the much-tried gunners of this
    section that the gallant Methuen was wounded by a bullet which broke
    the bone of his thigh. Lieutenant Venning and all the detachment fell
    with their General round the guns.

    An attempt had been made to rally some of the flying troopers at a
    neighbouring kraal, and a small body of Cape Police and Yeomanry under
    the command of Major Paris held out there for some hours. A hundred
    of the Lancashire Infantry aided them in their stout defence. But the
    guns taken by the Boers from Von Donop's convoy had free play now that
    the British guns were out of action, and they were brought to bear
    with crushing effect upon both the kraal and the wagons. Further
    resistance meant a useless slaughter, and orders were given for a
    surrender. Convoy, ammunition, guns, horses -- nothing was saved
    except the honour of the infantry and the gunners. The losses, 68
    killed and 121 wounded, fell chiefly upon these two branches of the
    service. There were 205 unwounded prisoners.

    This, the last Boer victory in the war, reflected equal credit upon
    their valour and humanity, qualities which had not always gone hand in
    hand in our experience of them. Courtesy and attention were extended
    to the British wounded, and Lord Methuen was sent under charge of his
    chief medical officer, Colonel Townsend (the doctor as severely
    wounded as the patient), into Klerksdorp. In De la Rey we have always
    found an opponent who was as chivalrous as he was formidable. The
    remainder of the force reached the Kimberley-Mafeking railway line in
    the direction of Kraaipan, the spot where the first bloodshed of the
    war had occurred some twenty-nine months before.

    On Lord Methuen himself no blame can rest for this unsuccessful
    action. If the workman's tool snaps in his hand he cannot be held
    responsible for the failure of his task. The troops who misbehaved
    were none of his training. 'If you hear anyone slang him,' says one
    of his men, 'you are to tell them that he is the finest General and
    the truest gentleman that ever fought in this war.' Such was the tone
    of his own troopers, and such also that of the spokesmen of the nation
    when they commented upon the disaster in the Houses of Parliament. It
    was a fine example of British justice and sense of fair play, even in
    that bitter moment, that to hear his eulogy one would have thought
    that the occasion had been one when thanks were being returned for a
    victory. It is a generous public with fine instincts, and Paul
    Methuen, wounded and broken, still remained in their eyes the heroic
    soldier and the chivalrous man of honour.

    The De Wet country had been pretty well cleared by the series of
    drives which have already been described, and Louis Botha's force in
    the Eastern Transvaal had been much diminished by the tactics of Bruce
    Hamilton and Wools-Sampson. Lord Kitchener was able, therefore, to
    concentrate his troops and his attention upon that wide-spread western
    area in which General De la Rey had dealt two such shrewd blows within
    a few weeks of each other. Troops were rapidly concentrated at
    Klerksdorp. Kekewich, Walter Kitchener, Rawlinson, and Rochfort, with
    a number of small columns, were ready in the third week of March to
    endeavour to avenge Lord Methuen.

    The problem with which Lord Kitchener was confronted was a very
    difficult one, and he has never shown more originality and audacity
    than in the fashion in which he handled it. De la Rey's force was
    scattered over a long tract of country, capable of rapidly
    concentrating for a blow, but otherwise as intangible and elusive as a
    phantom army. Were Lord Kitchener simply to launch ten thousand
    horsemen at him, the result would be a weary ride over illimitable
    plains without sight of a Boer, unless it were a distant scout upon
    the extreme horizon. Delarey and his men would have slipped away to
    his northern hiding-places beyond the Marico River. There was no
    solid obstacle here, as in the Orange River Colony, against which the
    flying enemy could be rounded up. One line of blockhouses there was,
    it is true -- the one called the Schoonspruit cordon, which flanked
    the De la Rey country. It flanked it, however, upon the same side as
    that on which the troops were assembled. If the troops were only on
    the other side, and De la Rey was between them and the blockhouse
    line, then, indeed, something might be done. But to place the troops
    there, and then bring them instantly back again, was to put such a
    strain upon men and horses as had never yet been done upon a large
    scale in the course of the war. Yet Lord Kitchener knew the mettle of
    the men whom he commanded, and he was aware that there were no
    exertions of which the human frame is capable which he might not
    confidently demand.

    The precise location of the Boer laagers does not appear to have been
    known, but it was certain that a considerable number of them were
    scattered about thirty miles or so to the west of Klerksdorp and the
    Shoonspruit line. The plan was to march a British force right through
    them, then spread out into a wide line and come straight back, driving
    the burghers on to the cordon of blockhouses, which had been
    strengthened by the arrival of three regiments of Highlanders. But to
    get to the o~her side of the Boers it was necessary to march the
    columns through by night. It was a hazardous operation, but the
    secret was well kept, and the movement was so well carried out that
    the enemy had no time to check it. On the night of Sunday, March
    23rd, the British horsemen passed stealthily in column through the
    Delarey country, and then, spreading out into a line, which from the
    left wing at Lichtenburg to the right wing at Commando Drift measured
    a good eighty miles, they proceeded to sweep back upon their traces.
    In order to reach their positions the columns had, of course, started
    at different points of the British blockhouse line, and some had a
    good deal farther to go than others, while the southern extension of
    the line was formed by Bochfort's troops, who had moved up from the
    Vaal. Above him from south to north came Walter Kitchener, Rawlinson,
    and Kekewich in the order named.

    On the morning of Monday, March 24th, a line of eighty miles of
    horsemen, without guns or transport, was sweeping back towards the
    blockhouses, while the country between was filled with scattered
    parties of Boers who were seeking for gaps by which to escape. It was
    soon learned from the first prisoners that De la Rey was not within
    the cordon. His laager had been some distance farther west. But the
    sight of fugitive horsemen rising and dipping over the rolling veldt
    assured the British that they had something within their net. The
    catch was, however, by no means as complete as might have been
    desired. Three hundred men in khaki slipped through between the two
    columns in the early morning. Another large party escaped to the south
    wards. Some of the Boers adopted extraordinary devices in order to
    escape from the ever-narrowing cordon. 'Three, in charge of some
    cattle, buried themselves, and left a small hole to breathe through
    with a tube. Some men began to probe with bayonets in the new.turned
    earth and got immediate and vociferous subterranean yells. Another
    man tried the same game and a horse stepped on him. He writhed and
    reared the horse, and practically the horse found the prisoner for
    us.' But the operations achieved one result, which must have lifted a
    load of anxiety from Lord Kitchener's mind. Three fifteen-pounders,
    two pom-poms, and a large amount of ammunition were taken. To
    Kekewich and the Scottish Horse fell the honour of the capture,
    Colonel Wools-Sampson and Captain Rice heading the charge and pursuit.
    By this means the constant menace to the blockhouses was lessened, if
    not entirely removed. One hundred and seventy-five Boers were disposed
    of, nearly all as prisoners, and a considerable quantity of transport
    was captured. In this operation the troops had averaged from seventy
    to eighty miles in twenty-six hours without change of horses. To such
    a point had the slow-moving ponderous British Army attained after two
    years' training of that stern drill-master, necessity.

    The operations had attained some success, but nothing commensurate
    with the daring of the plan or the exertions of the soldiers. Without
    an instant's delay, however, Lord Kitchener struck a second blow at
    his enemy. Before the end of March Kekewich, Rawlinson, and Walter
    Kitchener were all upon the trek once more. Their operations were
    pushed farther to the west than in the last drive, since it was known
    that on that occasion De la Rey and his main commando had been outside
    the cordon.

    It was to one of Walter Kitchener's lieutenants that the honour fell
    to come in direct contact with the main force of the burghers. This
    General had moved out to a point about forty miles west of Klerksdorp.
    Forming his laager there, he despatched Cookson on March 30th with
    seventeen hundred men to work further westward in the direction of the
    Harts River. Under Cookson's immediate command were the 2nd Canadian
    Mounted Infantry, Damant's Horse, and four guns of the 7th R.F.A. His
    lieutenant, Keir, commanded the 28th Mounted Infantry, the Artillery
    Mounted Rifles, and 2nd Kitchener's Fighting Scouts. The force was
    well mounted, and carried the minimum of baggage.

    It was not long before this mobile force found itself within touch of
    the enemy. The broad weal made by the passing of a convoy set them
    off at full cry, and they were soon encouraged by the distant cloud of
    dust which shrouded the Boer wagons. The advance guard of the column
    galloped at the top of their speed for eight miles, and closed in upon
    the convoy, but found themselves faced by an escort of five hundred
    Boers, who fought a clever rearguard action, and covered their charge
    with great skill. At the same time Cookson closed in upon his mounted
    infantry, while on the other side Delarey's main force fell back in
    order to reinforce the escort. British and Boers were both riding
    furiously to help their own comrades. The two forces were fairly face
    to face.

    Perceiving that he was in front of the whole Boer army, and knowing
    that he might expect reinforcements, Cookson decided to act upon the
    defensive. A position was rapidly taken up along the Brakspruit, and
    preparations made to resist the impending attack. The line of defence
    was roughly the line of the spruit, but for some reason, probably to
    establish a cross fire, one advanced position was occupied upon either
    flank. On the left flank was a farmhouse, which was held by two
    hundred men of the Artillery Rifles. On the extreme right was another
    outpost of twenty-four Canadians and forty-five Mounted Infantry.
    They occupied no defensible position, and their situation was
    evidently a most dangerous one, only to be justified by some strong
    military reason which is not explained by any account of the action.

    The Boer guns had opened fire, and considerable bodies of the enemy
    appeared upon the flanks and in front. Their first efforts were
    devoted towards getting possession of the farmhouse, which would give
    them a POINT D'APPUI from which they could turn the whole line. Some
    five hundred of them charged on horseback, but.were met by a very
    steady fire from the Artillery Rifles, while the guns raked them with
    shrapnel. They reached a point within five hundred yards of the
    building, but the fire was too hot, and they wheeled round in rapid
    retreat. Dismounting in a mealie-patch they skirmished up towards the
    farmhouse once more, but they were again checked by the fire of the
    defenders and by a pompom which Colonel Keir had brought up. No
    progress whatever was made by the attack in this quarter.

    In the meantime the fate which might have been foretold had befallen
    the isolated detachment of Canadians and 28th Mounted Infantry upon
    the extreme right. Bruce Carruthers, the Canadian officer in command,
    behaved with the utmost gallantry, and was splendidly seconded by his
    men. Overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers, amid a perfect hail of
    bullets they fought like heroes to the end. 'There have been few
    finer instances of heroism in the course of the campaign,' says the
    reticent Kitchener in his official despatch. Of the Canadians
    eighteen were hit out of twenty-one, and the Mounted Infantry hard by
    lost thirty out of forty-five before they surrendered.

    This advantage gained upon the right flank was of no assistance to the
    Boers in breaking the British line. The fact that it was so makes it
    the more difficult to understand why this outpost was so exposed. The
    burghers had practically surrounded Cookson's force, and De la Rey and
    Kemp urged on the attack; buL~ their artillery fire was dominated by
    the British guns, and no weak point could be found in the defence. At
    1 o'clock the attack had been begun, and at 5.30 it was finally
    abandoned, and Delarey was in full retreat. That he was in no sense
    routed is shown by the fact that Cookson did not attempt to follow him
    up or to capture his guns; but at least he had failed in his purpose,
    and had lost more heavily than in any engagement which he had yet
    fought. The moral effect of his previous victories had also been
    weakened, and his burghers had learned, if they had illusions upon the
    subject, that the men who fled at Tweebosch were not typical troopers
    of the British Army. Altogether, it was a well-fought and useful
    action, though it cost the British force some two hundred casualties,
    of which thirty-five were fatal. Cookson's force stood to arms all
    night mitil the arrival of Walter Kitchener's men in the morning.

    General Ian Hamilton, who had acted for some time as Chief of the
    Staff to Lord Kitchener, had arrived on April 8th at Klerksdorp to
    take supreme command of the whole operations against De la Rey. Early
    in April the three main British columns had made a rapid cast round
    without success. To the very end the better intelligence and the
    higher mobility seem to have remained upon the side of the Boers, who
    could always force a fight when Lhey wished and escape when they
    wished. Occasionally, however, they forced one at the wrong time, as
    in the instance which I am about to describe.

    Hamilton had planned a drive to cover the southern portion of
    Delarey's country, and for this purpose, with Hartebeestefontein for
    his centre, he was manoeuvring his columns so as to swing them into
    line and then sweep back towards Klerksdorp. Kekewich, Rawlinson, and
    Walter Kitchener were all manoeuvring for this purpose. The Boers,
    however, game to the last, although they were aware that their leaders
    had gone in to treat, and that peace was probably due within a few
    days, determined to have one last gallant fall with a British column.
    The forces of Kekewich were the farthest to the westward, and also, as
    the burghers thought, the most isolated, and it was upon them,
    accordingly, that the attack was made. In the morning of April 11th,
    at a place called Rooiwal, the enemy, who had moved up from
    Wolmaranstad, nineteen hundred strong, under Kemp and Vermaas, fell
    with the utmost impetuosity upon the British column. There was no
    preliminary skirmishing, and a single gallant charge by 1,500 Boers
    both opened and ended the engagement. 'I was just saying to the staff
    officer that there were no Boers within twenty miles,' says one who
    was present, 'when we heard a roar of musketry and saw a lot of men
    galloping down on us.' The British were surprised but not shaken by
    this unexpected apparition. 'I never saw a more splendid attack.
    They kept a distinct line,' says the eye-witness. Another spectator
    says, 'They came on in one long line four deep and knee to knee.' It
    was an old-fashioned cavalry charge, and the fact that it got as far
    as it did shows that we have over rated the stopping power of modern
    rifles. They came for a good five hundred yards under direct fire,
    and were only turned within a hundred of the British line. The
    Yeomanry, the Scottish Horse, and the Constabulary poured a steady
    fire upon the advancing wave of horsemen, and the guns opened with
    case at two hundred yards. The Boers were stopped, staggered, and
    turned. Their fire, or rather the covering fire of those who had not
    joined in the charge, had caused some fifty casualties, but their own
    losses were very much more severe. The fierce Potgieter fell just in
    front of the British guns. 'Thank goodness he is dead! ' cried one of
    his wounded burghers, 'for he sjamboked me into the firing line this
    morning.' Fifty dead and a great number of wounded were left upon the
    field of battle. Rawlinson's column came up on Kekewich's left, and
    the Boer flight became a rout, for they were chased for twenty miles,
    and their two guns were captured. It was a brisk and decisive little
    engagement, and it closed the Western campaign, leaving the last
    trick, as well as the game, to the credit of the British. From this
    time until the end there was a gleaning of prisoners but little
    fighting in De la Rey's country, the most noteworthy event being a
    surprise visit to Schweizer-Renecke by Rochfort, by which some sixty
    prisoners were taken, and afterwards the drive of Ian Hamilton's
    forces against the Mafeking railway line by which no fewer than 364
    prisoners were secured. In this difficult and well-managed operation
    the gaps between the British columns were concealed by the lighting of
    long veldt-fires and the discharge of rifles by scattered scouts. The
    newly arrived Australian Commonwealth Regiments gave a brilliant start
    to the military history of their united country by the energy of their
    marching and the thoroughness of their entrenching.

    Upon May 29th, only two days before the final declaration of peace, a
    raid was made by a few Boers upon the native cattle reserves near
    Fredericstad. A handful of horsemen pursued them, and were ambushed by
    a considerable body of the enemy in some hilly country ten miles from
    the British lines. Most of the pursuers got away in safety, but young
    Sutherland, second lieutenant of the Seaforths, and only a few months
    from Eton, found himself separated from his horse and in a hopeless
    position. Scorning to surrender, the lad actually fought his way upon
    foot for over a mile before he was shot down by the horsemen who
    circled round him. Well might the Boer commander declare that in the
    whole course of the war he had seen no finer example of British
    courage. It is indeed sad that at this last instant a young life
    should be thrown away, but Sutherland died in a noble fashion for a
    noble cause, and many inglorious years would be a poor substitute for
    the example and tradition which such a death will leave behind.
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