The History of Lumsden's Horse A Complete Record of the Corps from Its Formation to Its Disbandment by

Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects. Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

Errors, when reasonably attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details. Corrections made to the text are summarized there.

Footnotes have been resequenced to be unique across the book, and have been gathered at the end of each chapter.

The illustrations have been moved to avoid falling within a paragraph. The captions will appear here as [Illustration: ]. A large map and accompanying legend was bound as a fold-out inside the end cover. The Reference, included in that image is presented here, and contains a daily location of the unit.




[Illustration: D.M. Lumsden.]








[All rights reserved]


Although this History of Lumsden’s Horse embraces a period in the South African campaign that was crowded with great issues, it makes no pretence to rank among the many able and comprehensive works dealing with those events. Elaborate descriptions and criticisms of operations as a whole have been purposely avoided, except so far as they serve to explain and emphasise actions in which the corps took part.

First of all, the book is intended to be no more than a regimental record, enlivened by the personal experiences of men who helped to make history at a time when the whole British Empire was moved by one impulse. India’s part in that movement is the inspiring theme, and one object has been to show how the idea of organising an Indian Volunteer Contingent for service in South Africa passed from inception to accomplishment, through the efforts of a Committee in Calcutta which made itself responsible for every financial liability in connection with the corps from its formation to its disbandment.

The cost of publication is being defrayed out of a balance of funds remaining in the hands of the Committee, and each member of the corps will receive a copy as a souvenir of his interesting experiences and a proof that his services are still remembered. Publication, however, is not restricted to members of the corps, and the Editor ventures to think that this book will suggest to general readers many points worthy of consideration. It illustrates the facility with which British subjects in India are able to band themselves together, and affords yet another instance of many in which the Indian Government has shown itself capable of utilising instantly its resources for the Empire’s benefit. And, more than this, it will stand as a proof of the cordiality with which the Indian public—British and Native—came forward at a time of Imperial need with offers of personal service or liberal subscriptions, which enabled the Committee to raise and despatch a Mounted Contingent completely equipped in every detail.

Among those who have assisted the Editor with information that has enabled him to produce this History, he has especially to thank the Committee, the Adjutant of the Regiment (Major NEVILLE TAYLOR, 14th Bengal Lancers), whose sketch-map of the positions at Houtnek was made from personal reconnaissance, and Messrs. D.S. FRASER, GRAVES, BURN-MURDOCH, KIRWAN, and PRESTON. He is also indebted to Major Ross, C.B., Durham Light Infantry, for interesting material. Acknowledgment is due to Messrs. JOHNSTON & HOFFMANN, Messrs. F. KAPP & CO., Messrs. BOURNE & SHEPHERD, and Messrs. HARRINGTON & CO., of Calcutta, and others, who have kindly placed photographs at the Editor’s disposal; and to the proprietors of the ‘Englishman,’ ‘Pioneer,’ ‘Indian Daily News,’ ‘Statesman,’ ‘Times of India,’ and ‘Madras Daily Mail,’ for permission to reproduce from their columns the personal narratives that brighten many pages of this book.


ARTS CLUB, LONDON: _January 1903_.









































_From Drawings, and from Photographs by Messrs._ JOHNSTON & HOFFMANN, KAPP & CO., BOURNE & SHEPHERD, _and_ HARRINGTON & CO., _Calcutta_; _Messrs._ ELLIOTT & FRY, _London_, _and others_.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL D.M. LUMSDEN, C.B. _Frontispiece_ (_Photogravure_)

SIR PATRICK PLAYFAIR, C.I.E. _facing 1 page_









































































P.C. PRESTON, D.C.M. 244






J.A. GRAHAM, D.C.M. 278









J.S. COWEN 382




H. KELLY 417





_Photo: Elliott & Fry_ SIR PATRICK PLAYFAIR, C.I.E. ]




To Lumsden’s Horse belongs the high honour of having represented all India in a movement the magnitude and far-reaching effects of which we are only beginning to appreciate. While the stubborn struggle for supremacy in South Africa lasted, no true sons of the Empire allowed themselves to count the cost. Some were prepared to pay it in blood, others in treasure, to make success certain, and none allowed himself to harbour even the shadow of a thought that failure, with all its inevitable disasters, could befall us so long as the Mother Country and her offshoots held together. At the outset only those blessed with exceptional foresight could have believed in the completeness of a federation the elements of which were bound together by no other ties than sentiment. Selfish interests were merged in combined efforts for the common weal, and, while the necessity for action lasted, few cared to reckon the price they were paying for an idea.

Even the long-looked-for advent of Peace has hardly brought home to us a knowledge of all that War in South Africa meant, not only in a military sense, but also in its greater imperial significance. The men who fought and bled for the noble sentiment of British brotherhood never dreamed that they were doing more than duty demanded, though they had perhaps given up every chance of success in life to answer the call of patriotism; and among those who stayed at home there are millions untouched by the bitterness of personal bereavement who can have no conception of the sacrifices that were made to keep our Empire whole. Casualty lists, with all their details of killed and wounded, do not tell half the story. To know it all we must dip deep into the private records of every contingent, British and Colonial, that volunteered for active service, and deeper still to fathom the motives of men who, when their country seemed to need them, threw aside all other considerations and rallied to her standard.

Continental critics may sneer at us for making much of this idea, but none know better than they do the difference between loyalty expressed in such a noble form and the mere instinct of self-preservation that too often passes current for patriotism. They tell us that it is every citizen’s duty to be a soldier and every soldier’s duty to die, if necessary, for his country; but when they see self-governing nations from every quarter of the world coming into line by their own free will and all welded together by one sentiment, they have no better name for it than lust of empire. Nevertheless, they know it for what it is, a thing of which they had previously no conception, and they recognise in the impulses that led to this mighty manifestation the secret of Great Britain’s world-wide power. Let envious rivals say what they will. Let them magnify our reverses and minimise our triumphs, if the process pleases them. In spite of everything, the South African War stands a great epoch of an age that will some day come to be reckoned among the greatest in British History, and all who have helped towards the shaping of events at this memorable time can at least claim to have earned the gratitude of posterity.

And India may well be proud of her share in the work. Measured by the mere number of men whom she sent to the war, her contribution seems perhaps comparatively small; but when we remember the sources from which that contingent was drawn, the munificence of gifts from Europeans and natives alike for its equipment and maintenance, and all the sacrifices that war-service involved for every member of the little force, we cannot but admire the spirit that called it into being. A great crisis was not necessary to convince us that British residents in India would fight, if called upon, with all the valour that distinguished Outram’s Volunteers of old. Few, however, would have been bold enough to predict that for any conceivable cause hundreds of men would readily relinquish all that they had struggled for, give up the fruits of half a life’s labour, and calmly face the certainty of irreparable losses, without asking for anything in return, except the opportunity of serving their country on a soldier’s meagre pay. Still less could anybody have imagined that a time might come when Indian natives, debarred from the chance of proving their loyalty by personal service, would give without stint towards a fund for equipping a force to fight in a distant land against the enemies of the British Raj. If Indian princes had been permitted to raise troops for the war in South Africa, our Eastern contingent would have numbered thousands instead of hundreds. What natives were not allowed to give in men they gave in cash and in substance, according to their means, thereby showing that they were with us in a desire to defend the Empire against any assailant. In reality this meant more than an offer of armed forces, and to that extent it was worthy to rank with the self-sacrifice of Anglo-Indians who gave personal service, and thereby took upon themselves a burden the weight of which cannot be readily estimated. It must not be forgotten that raising a corps of Volunteers in India is a very different matter from the enrolment of a similar force at home, or wherever there are dense populations and ‘leisured classes’ to be drawn upon. There are no idle men in India, everyone having gone there to fill an appointment and earn his livelihood. When the call came, therefore, it could only be answered by sacrifices or not at all, and nobody is more conscious of this fact than the man whose laconic appeal for Volunteers brought three or four times more offers than he could possibly accept. In his opinion ‘the men who vacated appointments worth from 300 to 500 rupees a month and went to fight for their country on 1_s._ 2_d._ a day have given a much larger contribution to the War Fund than they could afford.’ As an instance he mentions three members of the medical profession, Doctors Charteris, Moorhouse, and Woollright, each of whom threw up a lucrative practice and joined the ranks as a trooper. These are not exceptional but simply typical cases. Scores of other men gave up equally remunerative appointments with the same noble unselfishness to enrol themselves in Lumsden’s Horse.

To Colonel Lumsden alone belongs the honour of having evoked this splendid manifestation of patriotic feeling. The idea of forming a corps of Indian Volunteers was his; and though similar thoughts may have been in many minds at the same moment, nobody had given a practical turn to them until his message—electric in every sense—startled all Anglo-Indians into active and cordial co-operation. How all that came about will be told with fuller circumstances in its proper place, but some reference must be made here to the man whose firm faith in the patriotism and soldierly qualities of Indian Volunteers led him to the inception of a scheme which events have so abundantly justified.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dugald McTavish Lumsden, C.B., needs no introduction to the East, where the best, and perhaps the happiest, years of his life have been spent. Without some details concerning him, however, completeness could not be claimed for any record of the corps which is now identified with his name. The eldest son of the late Mr. James Lumsden, of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, he was born in 1851. At the age of twenty-two he obtained an appointment on the Borelli Tea Estate, in the Tezpur District of Assam, and sailed for India. Consciously or unconsciously, he must have taken with him some military ambitions imbibed through intimate association with leaders of the Volunteer movement in Scotland. At any rate, he soon became known as a keen Volunteer in the land of his adoption, and when in 1887 the Durrung Mounted Rifles was formed, he was given a captaincy. A year later that corps lost its identity, as other local units did, in the territorial title of Assam Valley Light Horse, with Colonel Buckingham, C.I.E., as commandant, while Captain Lumsden got his majority and took command of F Squadron in the Durrung District. Subsequently he commanded the regiment for a time, and, though he left India in 1893, he did not lose touch with his old comrades. Every year he returned to spend the cold weather among his friends in Assam, showing always undiminished interest in the welfare of his old regiment. Thus, when the time came for a call to active service, he had no sort of doubt what the response would be from the hardy, sport-loving planters of Northern Bengal. Himself an enthusiastic _shikari_ and first-rate shot, he knew how to value the qualities that are developed in hunting and stalking wild game. And his experience of Indian Volunteers was not confined to his own district. He knew every corps in Bengal by reputation, and could thus gauge with an approach to accuracy the numbers on which he would be able to draw for the formation of an Indian contingent. Much travel in many lands had also made him a good judge of men, as evidenced by the first thing he did when the idea of calling upon India to take up her share of the Imperial burden came to him.

At that time he was travelling in Australia, and had no means of knowing how deeply the feelings of British residents and natives of the East had been stirred by news of the reverses to our arms in South Africa. The dark days of Stormberg and Magersfontein had thrown their shadow over Australia as over England, chilling the hearts of people who until then had refused to believe that British troops could be baulked by any foes, notwithstanding the stern lesson of Ladysmith’s investment. Through that darkness they were groping sullenly towards the light, and wondering what national sacrifices would have to be made before the humiliation could be wiped out. It is in such moments of emergency that natural leaders come to the front. Among the few in England or the Colonies who realised the military value of Volunteers was Colonel Lumsden. Though thousands of miles away from the scenes of early associations, his thoughts turned at once to the bold riders and skilful marksmen with whom he had so often shared the exciting incidents of the chase. He made up his mind at once that the planters, on whose spirit he could rely, were the very men wanted for South African fighting. On the parade ground they might not be all that soldiers whose minds are fettered by rules and traditions would desire, but he knew how long days of exercise in the open air at their ordinary avocations, varied by polo, pig-sticking, and big-game hunting, had toughened their fibre and hardened their nerves. He could count on every one of them also for keen intelligence, which he rightly regarded as more important than mere obedience to orders, where every man might be called upon to think and act for himself. Colonel Lumsden would be the last to depreciate Regular soldiers, or undervalue their discipline, but experience had taught him that men who can exercise self-restraint and develop powers of endurance for the mere pleasure of excelling in manly sports, adapt themselves readily enough to military duties. To them, at any rate, the prospect of hardships or privations would be no deterrent, the imminence of danger only an additional incentive. On December 15, 1899—a day to be afterwards borne in mournful memory—Colonel Lumsden made up his mind that the time for action had come to every Briton who could see his way to giving the Mother Country a helpful hand. He cabled at once to his friend Sir Patrick Playfair in Calcutta his proposal to raise a corps of European Mounted Infantry for service in South Africa, and backed it with an offer, not only to take the field himself, but to contribute a princely sum in aid of a fund for equipping any force the Government might sanction. Then, without waiting to know whether his services had been accepted, he took passage by the next steamer for India.


Offer Government fifty thousand rupees and my services any capacity towards raising European Mounted Infantry Contingent, India, service Cape. Wire Melbourne Club, Melbourne.—Leaving nineteenth, due Calcutta January 9. Do not divulge name until my arrival.—LUMSDEN.

These were the stirring words of Colonel Lumsden’s laconic message flashed by cable from Australia to Calcutta at a time when all India was ripe for any movement in aid of the Empire, and only waiting for a lead in the course it should take. No wonder that the spirit of a man whose enthusiastic confidence was expressed in an offer so munificent communicated itself to all whom Sir Patrick Playfair consulted on the subject. Still, official susceptibilities, ever prone to look askance at anything that seems like civilian interference with military prerogatives, had to be considered. Tact was necessary at the very outset to avoid all possibility of friction. Colonel Lumsden had evidently foreseen this when he selected as the recipient of his cable message an Anglo-Indian of diplomatic temperament, great social influence, and varied experience. Few men, if any, could have been better qualified for the delicate negotiations, or could have appealed to the Indian public, Native and European, with more certainty of success than Sir Patrick Playfair, whose services then and for months afterwards entitle him to a niche in India’s Walhalla beside the founder of Lumsden’s Horse. Even at the sacrifice of continuity, it is appropriate to quote here an appreciative comment by one who knew how much Sir Patrick Playfair did towards the formation and equipment of a thoroughly representative force. From the moment of receiving Colonel Lumsden’s telegram he displayed the keenest interest in its object, and endeavoured to ensure a successful issue with all the energy that has characterised him in his advocacy and support of many public enterprises during a brilliant career. He was the prime mover in every social function organised in honour of Lumsden’s Horse, and in everything done for their benefit apart from military details while they remained in India. After their departure for the front he never lost an opportunity of identifying himself with them in every way, and none would have been keener than he to share their dangers and hardships if his position had enabled him to accompany them. In this connection Sir Patrick had an entertaining dialogue one day with General Patterson, of the United States army, who said, ‘What I have been wondering about is why you did not go yourself, Sir Patrick.’ To this the knight replied, ‘Well, you know, I am a busy man. Of course I should have liked to go above all things, but with my engagements it was impossible.’ ‘Ah, yes!’ said the General; ‘I guess you’re like Artemus Ward’s friend, the Baldinsville editor, who would “delight to wade in gore,” but whose country bade him stay at home and announce week by week the measures taken by Government, or, like Artemus himself, who, having given two cousins to the war, was ready to sacrifice his wife’s brother and shed the blood of all his able-bodied relations “rather’n not see the rebellyin krusht.”’ As it was, Sir Patrick took the pains to publish every item of interest sent to him by the officer commanding throughout the campaign. When, after twelve months of honourable service, the corps turned homewards again, he took the initiative in preparing a welcome worthy of them, and after Lumsden’s Horse had been disbanded he showed a kindly interest in the men by endeavouring to procure appointments for all who needed assistance of that kind, and thereby won their gratitude as he had long before gained their esteem. This is anticipating events, but, like the prologue to a play, it may help to give some idea of a character whose influence on the whole story is potent though not often in evidence.


_Photo: Elliott & Fry_ CURZON ]

Sir Patrick Playfair’s first step was to approach General P.J. Maitland, C.B., Military Secretary to the Government of India, to whom he made known Colonel Lumsden’s offer and explained something of its probable scope. General Maitland, who warmly supported the proposal, said he would place it before His Excellency the Viceroy, but intimated that the matter would then have to be referred to the War Office, without whose consent the Government of India could do nothing in connection with the war. At that time Colonel Lumsden was on his way to Calcutta, and had telegraphed again from Albany to find out what progress was being made, but got no answer. Sir Patrick, knowing his man, had no misgivings that he might turn back discouraged by the prospect of an official cold shoulder. Lord Curzon was still absent from Calcutta on tour, and the Commander-in-Chief, the late Sir William Lockhart, had not returned from his official round of inspection in Burma, so that no immediate opportunity occurred for placing the proposal before either of them at a personal interview. General Maitland, however, did more than he had promised by so urging the case in a communication to the Viceroy that His Excellency took it up, and immediately on his arrival in Calcutta telegraphed to the Commander-in-Chief, who thereupon gave his approval promptly. The headquarters authorities asked how many men were to go, and Sir Patrick said he thought from two hundred and fifty to three hundred. That suggestion was embodied in a telegram to the War Office, which, as usual, took time to consider it. Again Colonel Lumsden, who had then reached Colombo, cabled for information as to the state of affairs, but again no reply was vouchsafed. So he came on, fully prepared to meet disappointment at the end of his journey. When he got within sight of land, however, all India knew of his splendid offer and its acceptance by the Home Government. The whole story had been published in every newspaper two days before Colonel Lumsden steamed up the Hooghly to find himself a hero. Crowds of his friends and admirers were there to welcome him as chief of a corps that had neither a local habitation nor a name, nor even a substantial existence at the moment. With characteristic abnegation of self, he had offered his services in any capacity, but nobody doubted from the hour of his arrival in Calcutta that whatever force India might send to the front would have Lumsden for its leader. The newspapers even began to give his name to the contingent before it had assumed bodily shape or anybody knew exactly how it was to be raised. Some days later the popular choice was confirmed by publication of a War Office order couched in the following words:

‘Her Majesty’s Government having accepted the offer of the Government of India to provide a force of Mounted Volunteers for service in South Africa, two companies of Mounted Infantry, to be called the Indian Mounted Infantry Corps (Lumsden’s Horse), will be raised immediately at Calcutta under the command of Lieut.-Colonel D. McT. Lumsden, of the Volunteer Force of India, Supernumerary List, Assam Valley Light Horse.’

With this order, giving unqualified approval of the project, came a mobilisation scheme in which the Government undertook to provide the necessary sea-kit for use on board ship only, the transport, the daily rations as for other soldiers, the weapons, the munitions of war, and pay at the rate of 1_s._ 2_d._ a day, but nothing else. The rest was left to private enterprise working on popular enthusiasm and the loyal sentiments of a great community. Towards the sum requisite for the complete equipment and maintenance of a mounted force in the field, even half a lakh of rupees would not go very far. The spirit that had prompted one man to offer that sum and his own services to boot proved contagious, however, and Colonel Lumsden had so little doubt what the result would be that he immediately announced his readiness to receive applications from men who might be willing to serve in South Africa for a year, or ‘for not less than the period of the war.’ That call was published by Indian newspapers on January 10, 1900, and in response Volunteers sent their names from every district far and near, until Colonel Lumsden might have enrolled a thousand as easily as the two or three hundred sanctioned by Government. His one difficulty, indeed, was that of selection, and there the experience he had gained from studying character closely under many different conditions came in. He was assisted by suggestions from officers commanding the Calcutta Light Horse, the Assam Valley Light Horse, the Surma Valley Light Horse, the Behar Light Horse, the Punjab, the Mysore, and the Rangoon Volunteer Corps. Authorities at home had by that time learned a very important lesson, the outcome of which was expressed in a phrase very different from the unlucky telegram that gave so much offence to Australians a few weeks earlier. Colonel Lumsden was told ‘preference will be given to Volunteers from mounted Volunteer Corps, but Volunteers belonging to Infantry corps who may possess the requisite qualifications will also be eligible.’ One of the qualifications laid down was that they should be ‘good riders’ before joining Lumsden’s Horse. Here the value of previous training in military duties and of something more than haphazard horsemanship was recognised; and happily Colonel Lumsden knew exactly the sort of men who would meet both requirements, especially as the limits of age (between twenty and forty) brought the best of those who had the riding and shooting experiences incidental to a planter’s life into the category. It is not surprising if he showed a partiality for them when rival claims had to be decided upon. The fact that many of them offered to bring their own horses weighed nothing with him, though he knew that the companies would have to be mounted somehow and that the Government had explicitly declined to provide horses for that purpose. Either by private contributions in kind or by public subscription toward the necessary funds for purchasing, a horse for each trooper had to be furnished; but this consideration did not weigh for a moment against the chances of a man who could only give himself to the Empire’s service, so long as he had in essential points better qualifications than other candidates could boast. The wife of a prominent and popular soldier—now a general—asked, as a great favour, that her brother might be allowed to serve as a trooper in the corps. To such a pleader Sir Patrick could not say ‘no,’ so he arranged a little dinner at which the fascinating lady was to sit beside Colonel Lumsden. Whether her gentle persuasions prevailed or the brother’s merits were too obvious to be disregarded, it is certain that he joined the ranks of Lumsden’s Horse, and so completely justified the choice that he is now an officer of the Regular army and a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order. Naturally, the selection of two hundred and fifty men to represent all India from among a thousand who were anxious for the opportunity of seeing active service gave rise to much jealousy and heart-burning on the part of the rejected. Reading some of their vituperations, one might imagine that they had been aspirants to posts of high distinction, or at least to lucrative sinecures, rather than candidates for the khaki jackets of privates in a regiment about to share the hardships of a perilous campaign. One disappointed applicant, whose martial ardour was not to be quenched by rejection, wrote angrily to the ‘Englishman,’ suggesting that there was gross favouritism in the preference shown for planters over townsmen. His letter is worth quoting at length as typical of the fighting spirit that had been aroused everywhere by Colonel Lumsden’s patriotic manifesto. Thus he wrote:

_To the Editor of the ‘Englishman.’_

SIR,—I hope I am in time to draw the attention of the Government to the _Bahadur_[1] style in which the selection to the ‘Indian Yeomanry Corps’ of Volunteers is being conducted. Because a man is the son of his father, and owns a few ponies and a few hundred rupees, is he to be given the preference as a fighting unit?

There are to-day in India, even in the city of Calcutta, men of unquestionable merit, men who are sons and the recipients of a heritage of blood shed in England’s and her Most Gracious Majesty’s cause from fathers who had bled and died for England and England’s prestige, and I beg to ask you, Sir, are these men to be shelved to suit the convenience of a few planters? I am not a planter, and, as an outsider, I put my claims forward as a test of merit. I am willing to shoot a match up the range with the best man selected from Behar, run him a given distance, ride him on strange nags (catch weights), and in the end with my weight and other recommendations beat him.



There is quite a ring of mediaeval chivalry about that challenge to ‘shoot up the range.’ One cannot mistake its blood-thirsty significance, and perhaps it is lucky for the Champion of Behar that he did not take up the gauntlet thus ruthlessly thrown down. It will be noticed that this duel, after the manner suggested by one of Bret Harte’s heroes, was to precede all other events in the prolonged ordeal; and imagination shudders at the picture of awful slaughter that would have been wrought, as the picked marksmen of Behar and Hyderabad and Oudh and Assam went down one by one, if they had dared to face the deadly rifle of that truculent citizen of Calcutta, without getting a chance to prove whether he could run or ride. Happily, the selected two hundred and fifty kept their heads, so that the trial by single combat never came off; but one must hope that a place was found in Lumsden’s Horse for the self-confident challenger, and that he proved as formidable on the field as in a printed column. Readers may scan the names of troopers, whose occupations before enlistment are all given in the Appendix, and yet be left speculating whether or not the writer of that letter was among the chosen after all. He will not be found in the first or second section of Company A, composed almost to a man of indigo-planters, or in the third section, whose tea-planters, mainly from Assam, have not a townsman among them; and the planters who make up an overwhelming majority of three sections in Company B would equally disclaim all knowledge of the fire-eating citizen. Can it be that he figures in the more casual fourth section of either company, under the vague designation of a ‘gentleman’ or a ‘journalist’? A little levity may be pardoned now in reference to a matter which, at the time, aroused some acrimony. All that, however, was swept away by the wave of enthusiasm, leaving no bitterness behind it, even in the minds of those who at first thought themselves humiliated by rejection. If Lumsden’s Horse were almost entirely a corps of planters, few questioned the care and discretion with which Colonel Lumsden had chosen his men, and none could deny that they made a goodly show at manœuvres on the Maidan, where their camp was pitched within easy reach of the city. Though quartered there for six weeks in circumstances that exposed them to many temptations, those troopers behaved in a manner that would have been considered exemplary for the best regiment of disciplined Regulars. This is not surprising when we consider that in civil life they had been accustomed to exercise, command, and to exact obedience from others, even at the risk of their own lives. At the outset Colonel Lumsden made it a condition that he would have none but unmarried men in the ranks, and to this rule there were few known exceptions, though some Benedicts crept in undeclared. As a regiment, Lumsden’s Horse had an _esprit de corps_ to maintain from the day of its birth under auspices that made the occasion imperial, and every man of it was tacitly pledged to prove himself a worthy recipient of the honour conferred upon him as one of India’s chosen representatives. How that feeling prevailed over all other considerations in the moment when Lumsden’s Horse played their manful part in battle for the first time, and how it held them together in a comradeship that was akin to brotherhood through after-months of hard campaigning, will appear as the narrative unfolds itself. It began to have an influence while the corps was as yet but an invertebrate skeleton, and it helps to explain the anxiety of Indian Volunteers to join the ranks of a force that was destined by the nature of things to become historical. One can understand, therefore, the alternations of hope and depression that passed over certain districts where men who had offered their services waited anxiously for the decision on which their chances of distinction hung. Some glimpses of this may be got through the letters received by Colonel Lumsden from all parts of India at that time, and from the diaries in which thoughts as well as actions are recorded by the men themselves. One begins his notes—two days after Colonel Lumsden’s call for Volunteers had been published—with the entry: ‘An express came from —— to say he had sent in the names of twenty men from C Company.’ After waiting impatiently several days for news that did not come, the diarist got his friend to send two telegrams, one to Colonel Lumsden, the other direct to the Adjutant-General at Calcutta, offering a complete company. The next day somebody turned up with news that they had been accepted. Jubilation on this score, however, lasted no longer than twenty-four hours, when it gave place to dejection caused by rumours that they ‘were not accepted after all.’ This wave of depression passed away as speedily in its turn, dispelled by the rays of hope that burst out radiantly on receipt of a chit from —— ‘asking me to come in at once.’ Under the next day’s date comes the crowning triumph of that anxious time, told very simply but in a way that makes one feel the nerves of those men throbbing through every word. ‘Started for Chick,’ runs the entry; ‘met ——, who told me we really were accepted. Then we met —— dashing along on his bike. He had already upset a woman.’ A week later, after many festive farewells, that contingent was on its way to Calcutta and foregathering with other contingents, whose experiences had all been the same, for every man of them was buoyant at the prospect of seeing active service, and would have regarded it as a personal slight, if not an indelible stigma on his reputation for courage, if he had been left behind.


So day by day the ranks of Lumsden’s Horse gained strength until their numbers were complete and recruiting had to be stopped; while many candidates whom the Colonel would gladly have taken tried in vain for admission. It was a regiment of which any commanding officer might be proud, whether judged by physical or mental standards. A corps of planters it might have been justly called, for they outnumbered all of other occupations; but it represented many classes, and nearly every district in India where sport-loving Britishers are to be found. In its ranks were fifty-five indigo-planters, sixty-one tea-planters, thirty-one coffee-planters, and five of similar occupation not specifically designated. Beside these, the sixteen Civil Service men of various grades, three bank assistants, twelve railway officials, including civil engineers, three medical men from the planting districts, one inspector of mounted police, a brewer, a tutor, a journalist, and a few others whose peaceful days until then had been devoted to commerce, form a comparatively small proportion. Thus considerably more than half the fighting strength were planters. Among the remainder, townsmen must have been fairly represented, to say nothing of artificers who formed the Maxim Gun detachment under command of Captain Bernard Willoughby Holmes, whose services had been placed at Colonel Lumsden’s disposal by consent of the East India Railway Company. The Mercantile Marine also furnished its quota in the persons of a captain, a chief officer, a second officer, and two engineers of the British India Steam Navigation Company’s fleet, and a chief officer of the Hajee Cassim Line. A veterinary surgeon, police inspectors, policemen, clerks in the Military Accounts Department, travelling agents, hotel assistants, a photographer, a theatrical agent, and a superintendent of the Rangoon Boating Club joined the Transport, from which two very smart fellows were drawn into the ranks as troopers during the campaign, and one of them was subsequently gazetted to the West India Regiment as second lieutenant. Counting all these, the enrolled strength was just 300.

Then came the difficult and delicate task of appointing company officers and section commanders—a difficulty enhanced by the fact that many Volunteer officers had enlisted as troopers. I have said that the Government had given its unqualified approval to Colonel Lumsden’s project. This statement, however, applies only to the general scheme. It must be remembered that he had made no stipulation as to his own rank, or the right of selecting officers, and it was not in the nature of a British War Office to let the prerogative of veto slip entirely out of its hands. Colonel Lumsden’s own appointment as commanding officer came directly from headquarters, on the suggestion probably of Lord Curzon. Two other conditions, not very irksome, the military authorities made at Colonel Lumsden’s urgent request. These were that captains commanding companies should be Regular officers on active service, and that the adjutant, who would also act as quartermaster, should be appointed from the Staff Corps or have graduated in it. These nominations were left to the Commander-in-Chief in India, and in the ordinary course of things they involved the appointment of Regular non-commissioned officers as quartermaster-sergeants and company sergeant-majors. Other subordinate posts for which military experience or special training is necessary were also filled by Regulars, who thus relieved the Volunteer troopers of some laborious duties. An officer second in command, four captains acting as senior subalterns, four lieutenants, a medical officer, and a veterinary surgeon had still to be selected, and the choice must have involved many anxious moments, seeing how much depended on the unknown qualities that are hidden in all men and may lie dormant for years, only to be developed for good or ill in the crisis of an emergency. How Colonel Lumsden succeeded in this, as in every other preliminary task that he imposed upon himself, is now a matter of history to be dealt with in proper sequence. The wisdom of his selections could only be proved by events, and to these, as narrated by men who were best able to judge, appeal may be confidently made. Naturally, some who had held commissioned rank previously, and thought their claims to consideration indisputable, felt sore at being passed over in favour of others who were junior to them in the Volunteer service. But this irritation was not allowed to show itself or interfere with loyal subordination in all military duties.

To the inviolable pages of his diary one, whose merits were not at the time so well known as they ought to have been, confides the pregnant sentence: ‘Heard to-day that —— was to be a _captain_, I a _corporal_.’ There the entry ends, leaving a blank more eloquent than any scathing comment could have been. For all that, the captain and the corporal remained on the best of terms, and, though they ceased for discipline’s sake to call each other by their Christian names, there is reason to believe that both soon came to the conclusion that no very serious mistake had been made in estimating their relative fitness for command. At any rate, after a little friction they shaped themselves like round pegs to round holes. But that is the habit of Britishers, who, however unaccustomed to discipline, are not slow in recognising its inevitable necessity and its inestimable value. They come to see that without it no concerted movement, whether big or small, is certain of success. You cannot conduct military operations to a definite end, any more than you can navigate a ship or rule a family, if individuality is allowed to take the form of insubordination. These lessons Colonel Lumsden began to inculcate in his peculiarly persuasive way directly he had got his men together and placed officers in authority over them.

Men and officers, however, are not the only things necessary to keep a fighting unit going when once it has been formed and organised. Sir Patrick Playfair found the full equipment of such a force no less costly than he had estimated. Fortunately, however, he had foreseen all difficulties in this connection and provided for them. After consultation with General Maitland, General Wace (Director-General of Ordnance), Sir Alfred Gaselee (then Quartermaster-General), Sir E.R. Elles (Adjutant-General), and the late Surgeon-General Harvey, it was decided that nearly a thousand rupees per man would be necessary for equipping the force, buying horses in addition to those brought in by troopers themselves, and establishing a reserve fund sufficient for all emergencies that might arise while the men remained on active service. This meant that a sum amounting to two and a half lakhs of rupees, or about sixteen thousand five hundred pounds sterling, would have to be got together by public subscription. Until this campaign proved the depth and sincerity of Imperial sentiments among nearly all classes of the community, few people, even in England, believed that such a sum would be given to send a mere handful of Volunteers on active service far from their home. And most people, having but a superficial knowledge of Indian affairs, would have ridiculed the suggestion that native princes or merchants would contribute in proportion little less than Johannesburg millionaires to uphold British supremacy in South Africa.

Sir Patrick Playfair, however, knowing by experience how liberal had been the response of those people to all calls on their generosity, and gauging with remarkable insight the genuineness of their loyal devotion in a time of possible peril to the Empire, had no doubt what the result would be. But even he was not prepared for anything like the unanimity of enthusiasm that his appeal evoked. It took simply the form of a general invitation to subscribe. The marvellous rapidity with which the subscription list filled may therefore be taken as a voluntary expression by Europeans and natives alike of staunch fidelity to the cause for which Lumsden’s Horse were being enrolled as a fighting unit. The contributors included His Excellency the Viceroy (Lord Curzon of Kedleston), His Excellency the Governor of Bombay (Lord Sandhurst), His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief in India (the late Sir William Lockhart), their Honours the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal (Sir John Woodburn), the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab (Sir W. Mackworth Young), the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Provinces and Oudh (the Bight Honourable Sir A.P. MacDonnell, P.C.), and the Lieutenant-Governor of Burma (Sir F.W.R. Fryer). Princes, rajahs, landowners, mercantile firms, and European residents almost without exception, came forward, subscribing munificently, until the sum of 227,000 rupees had been promised and received in cash, besides contributions from tradesmen in kind amounting to another 100,000 rupees.

No single subscription rivalled Colonel Lumsden’s splendid offer, or came anywhere near it in amount; but Sir Seymour King, K.C.I.E., M.P., on account of Messrs. Henry S. King & Co., London, and two allied firms in Bombay and Calcutta, gave a lump sum of 10,000 rupees, while Maharajah Sir Jotendro Mohun Tagore, K.C.S.I., Rajah Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore, Knt., C.I.E., Nawab Sir Sidi Ahmed Khan, K.C.S.I., Mr. F. Verner, Messrs. Apcar & Co., and Kumar Rada Prosad Roy sent 5,000 rupees each. The last named, a zemindar, or landed proprietor, was quite diffident and doubtful whether he ought to subscribe without being asked directly, but he expressed a hope that his contribution would be accepted. A great many merchants and others who were only known to Sir Patrick Playfair by name sent cheques for amounts varying from fifty to 2,500 rupees. No fewer than twenty-eight mercantile firms in Calcutta subscribed 1,000 rupees each, and among the most liberal donors were native princes of nearly every State in the three Presidencies.

His Highness the Maharajah of Bhownagar, whose palace is 2,500 miles distant from Calcutta, sent fifty Arab chargers and saddlery; the Maharani Regent of Mysore, twenty-two country-bred and Arab horses; and other potentates, like the Maharajah Bahadur of Soubarsa and the Rajah of Mearsa, gave handsome presents of a similar kind according to the resources of their studs. The natives of Aligarh, clubbing together, sent twenty-seven horses and one mule; while one, Mohammed Mazamullah Khan, gave two horses, a mule, a donkey, and two small sleeping tents, accompanied by a touchingly simple letter saying, ‘They are all I have to help to conquer the enemies of the Great White Queen.’ Other contributions in kind ranged from tents sufficient for the whole force presented by the Elgin cotton mills of Cawnpore, rough serge cloth for all coats requisite from the Egerton woollen mills at Cawnpore, puttees from Kashmir and Cawnpore, gaiters, Cardigan jackets, hats, horseshoes and nails, forage, tea, coffee, beer, whisky, and cigars, down to matches, of which no fewer than 7,000 boxes were sent by one thoughtful gentleman. The India General Steam Navigation Company, the River Steam Navigation Company, the East India Railway, and the Eastern Bengal State Railway combined to carry men and horses free of charge from all parts of India to Calcutta.

A small executive committee was formed by Colonel Lumsden to carry out the arrangements for the equipment and despatch of the corps. Its members were:


The work of organising naturally fell to Colonel Lumsden, who was also busily engaged in selecting officers and enrolling men; while Sir Patrick Playfair undertook the entire management of the collection of subscriptions in cash and in kind, assisted by Mr. Shirley Tremearne, Editor of ‘Capital,’ whose local knowledge enabled him to render valuable aid in appealing to the mercantile community where personal appeals were necessary, and in collecting the promised subscriptions for which personal application had to be made in accordance with traditional etiquette. Mr. Harry Stuart, formerly executive manager of the Bengal State Railway, took charge of all arrangements for receiving and messing the different detachments on their arrival in Calcutta from distant districts until a camp could be formed.


_Photo: Bourne & Shepherd_



Though the mobilisation scheme—drawn up by the Indian Headquarters Staff and sent to Colonel Lumsden after approval by the War Office in London—promised no more substantial assistance than the provision of arms, ammunition, rations, and transport to South Africa, it furnished many suggestions of the greatest importance, and, as a model for use on any similar occasion hereafter, it is reproduced at length in the Appendix. This document will be found of interest also as giving a comprehensive idea of the many requirements for which provision had to be made by Colonel Lumsden and his colleagues. Their labours were lightened by the cordial co-operation of military officials, who went out of their way to render every possible assistance. Without the advice and practical aid thus given by heads of departments of the Government of India, it would have been impossible for Colonel Lumsden, or any other commanding officer in his position, to have carried out all the War Office conditions economically. Major-General Wace, C.B., as head of the Ordnance Department, gave every facility for Colonel Lumsden to indent on Government stores for clothing and accoutrements at regulation prices, and not only so, but he and Colonel Buckland, the Superintendent of Army Clothing, with Major-General T.F. Hobday, Commissary-General, and Surgeon-General Robert Harvey, C.B., were ready to place the fruits of their long experience and special knowledge of various details at the service of Colonel Lumsden whenever he felt the need of advice in such matters; and Captain A.L. Phillips, an officer on the Staff of Sir Alfred Gaselee, Q.M.G., was untiring in his efforts to make the movement a success so far as his personal efforts and influence could avail. So everything went well from the beginning, thanks in great measure to the lively interest taken in the corps by Lord Curzon, who was pleased to become its Honorary Colonel, and by all officers of his personal Staff. Her Excellency Lady Curzon was equally zealous and lent her influence to every good work by which the ladies of Calcutta sought to express their admiration, and perhaps their tender regard, for the heroes who were going forth to fight. What form that expression should take was a subject much debated and long in doubt. Of course Sir Patrick Playfair had to be consulted by a deputation of charming damsels. He thought a bazaar might give them the opportunity they wanted. Yes! that was just the thing; but then—and then came a string of fatal objections. A smoking-concert was next suggested, and the young ladies thought that idea splendid, only—well, in short, it wouldn’t do. Then, as if it were the last resource to be thought of—a sort of forlorn hope—Sir Patrick hinted that a dance might meet the case. To that his fair interviewers demurred most effusively; but then and without any hypnotic suggestion, so Sir Patrick avers, they began to see that something might be urged in favour of it, and at last, with a unanimity that was wonderful, they decided that a dance was the only means of fitly celebrating the occasion. Having come to that conclusion, all their coy objections vanished in a moment. Sir Patrick saw his opportunity and seized it to persuade them that, as it was to be a ladies’ enterprise, they must manage it entirely themselves. Thereupon they formed a committee, of which Miss Pugh was elected Honorary Secretary, invited Lady Curzon of Kedleston to become patroness, and set to work with an energy which no mere man could hope to rival. They had of course to enlist masculine services for subordinate duties. This they did with a sweet despotism that made revolt impossible. The men had to accept without a murmur the positions assigned to them as stewards, and obeyed every mandate like the willing slaves we all should be in similar circumstances. The committee of ladies showed a business-like promptitude in settling every detail and a faculty for organisation which won from a military admirer the approving comment that they could conduct a campaign if they would only give their minds to it. This or some other feminine attribute had such an effect on the wine merchants of Calcutta that they sent champagne for the ball-supper and gallantly refused to accept payment. So the Calcutta Ball in honour of Lumsden’s Horse became an assured success almost from the moment of its happy inception. Brilliant beyond the dreams of a _débutante_, it left on many a susceptible heart impressions which neither time nor the changing scenes of warfare could dim, as the secret archives, to which an editor alone has access, attest; and in a less romantic way it proved the unselfish devotion of those ladies, who, after paying all expenses, handed over a balance of 6,000 rupees to the war-chest of Lumsden’s Horse.



_Photo: Harrington & Co._ ]


Such financial aids came not amiss at the moment. Government transports chartered by the Royal Indian Marine for taking troops to Natal were delayed on the return, and, one vessel having broken down, Colonel Lumsden found that he would have to encamp his men on the Maidan for two or three weeks longer than he had anticipated, and this entailed an additional expenditure of nearly 1,000_l._ for extra rations and comforts. To soldiers of Spartan mould, who pride themselves on discarding luxuries at the first call to arms, this might have seemed like pampering the Volunteer troopers; but it must be remembered that in India men cannot give up the habits of a lifetime all at once and come down to bare soldier’s rations without danger to their health. And Colonel Lumsden’s first object after getting his men was to keep them fit. His care in this respect was justified by events no less than his judgment in the selection of men for mental and physical attributes. At the end of a year’s campaigning he was able to boast that his losses from sickness were proportionately less than in any other regiment. This delay had its advantages in so far as it gave Colonel Lumsden and his officers a chance of training the troopers for their duties and accustoming them to their horses before the day of embarkation. The postponement, we may be sure, was no disappointment to the people of Calcutta, who felt that the Maidan would be a cheerless blank without Lumsden’s Horse. It will be well to give here a few details of organisation. By War Office order the corps was to consist of two companies, each commanded by a Regular officer, and the Government also appointed a Regular adjutant to assist Colonel Lumsden in executive work; while Colonel Eden C. Showers, Commandant of the Surma Valley Light Horse, offered to serve as Major, and was gazetted with that rank as second in command. When other officers had been selected, chiefly on the recommendation of commandants under whom they had served in Volunteer Corps, they were posted in the following order:

STAFF.—Lieutenant-Colonel Dugald McTavish Lumsden, Commandant.

Major Eden C. Showers, Second in Command.

Captain Neville C. Taylor, 14th Bengal Lancers, Adjutant and Quartermaster.

Captain Samuel Arthur Powell, Medical Officer.

Veterinary Captain William Stevenson, M.R.C.V.S., Veterinary Surgeon.

A COMPANY.—Captain James Hugh Brownlow Beresford, 3rd Sikhs (commanding), Captain John Brownley Rutherfoord, Lieutenants Charles Edward Crane and George Augustus Neville.

B COMPANY.—Captain Louis Hemington Noblett, Royal Irish Rifles (commanding), Captain Henry Chamney, Captain Frank Clifford, Lieutenants Charles Lyon Sidey and Herbert Owain Pugh.

MAXIM GUN DETACHMENT.—Captain Bernard Willoughby Holmes (commanding).

Each company had a Regular non-commissioned officer as Company Sergeant-Major and another Regular as Company Quartermaster-Sergeant for office duties under the Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant. Regulars from the Artillery, Cavalry, and Infantry were also attached as Farrier-Sergeants, Saddlers, and Signallers, and from the Indian Commissariat as Transport Sergeant. The Maxim Gun Contingent, under Captain Holmes was raised and equipped by the East India Railway Company, who offered its services to Colonel Lumsden. The Calcutta Committee had decided, with the sanction of the Government, that Lumsden’s Horse should not want for adequate regimental transport in the field, but, on the contrary, should leave India as a thoroughly organised unit in that respect, with a complete train of transport carts, ponies, and pack mules, all properly equipped. It is hardly necessary to say that the grant of transport, saddlery, and draught harness, for which provision was made in the mobilisation order, did not comprise all that the committee desired; but the inexhaustible Ordnance Stores were again open to be requisitioned ‘on payment,’ and carts of the Indian Army Transport pattern were drawn in a similar way from the Commissariat Department. The ponies and mules, however, had to be collected by agents in the hill districts of Assam and Thibet, a distance of 1,000 miles from Calcutta. When all this was done, the corps could justly be considered fit for active service, and it is certain that no contingent, Volunteer or Regular, landed in South Africa with a more efficient transport than Lumsden’s Horse. It came near being upset, however, by a War Office decision. Almost at the last minute Colonel Lumsden was told that the native drivers would not be permitted to accompany the corps, and that no natives could go except one personal servant for each officer and a limited number of syces, or grooms, in the proportion of one to each charger, as laid down in the mobilisation scheme. This allowance of three native attendants to every officer was on a sufficiently liberal scale, but it did not meet the requirements for transport purposes. Therefore Colonel Lumsden had to enlist European drivers, of whom twenty-six were needed for each company. In ordinary circumstances Anglo-Indian prejudices would have combined to make this an insuperable difficulty; but so keen was the anxiety of men to see war service in South Africa that they volunteered to go in any capacity not necessarily menial, and so Colonel Lumsden got the full complement of drivers together just as readily as lie had filled the ranks with fighting men. War Office conditions stipulated that officers and troopers of the corps must provide their own horses and saddlery, though nearly all of the latter might be drawn from Ordnance Stores at cost price. Naturally the supply of suitable animals for Mounted Infantry work had to be made a corps affair from the outset. Very few of the enlisted troopers owned horses of a class that they would have cared to ride through the rough work of a campaign, even if they could be always sure of having their own; and Colonel Lumsden was not likely to countenance any claims of private ownership when once horses were numbered as of the troop. He therefore informed every man who brought a horse with him that it must be considered corps property, and might not be appropriated by its owner without the commanding officer’s sanction. No other arrangement could have worked satisfactorily. In consideration of this understanding Colonel Lumsden promised that he would endeavour to obtain from Government a scale of compensation for horses thus appropriated, and in the event of being successful the sums obtained under this head would be returned _pro rata_ to the owners of horses. It may be mentioned in passing that Colonel Lumsden’s efforts to this end were ultimately successful, the Government consenting to allow an average of 30_l._ per horse to the corps, so that every man who brought his own charger was compensated at last.


_Photo: F. Kapp & Co._ MESSING AT CALCUTTA _Under the Shamiana_ ]

The men having drawn their Lee-Metford rifles with short bayonets and an abundant supply of ·303 ball cartridges, both for practice and the sterner work to come, were duly clothed and equipped, much to their satisfaction.

Not many of these things, in addition to rifles and ammunition, were free gifts from Government, whose contributions in kind had to be supplemented by purchases out of store at the cost of corps funds and by gifts from the appreciative public to whom no appeals were made in vain. The troopers, at any rate, were troubled not a whit about these things, being quite satisfied with the completeness of their personal outfit, even before Mrs. Pugh and the ladies of Calcutta bethought them to work woollen comforters for presentation to every man of Lumsden’s Horse on the day of embarkation. They did not, however, take so kindly at first to the Lee-Metford rifle. It was a new weapon to most of the men, who had never handled anything more complicated than the old Martini carbine. So batches of men went to the ranges every morning to practise and accustom themselves to the peculiarities of a firearm that made no more noise than the crack of a whip and ‘had no kick in it.’ This was a time of gradual but sometimes painful initiation to the hardships and discomforts inseparable from camp life. Lessons, however distasteful, had to be learned, and it must be said that Lumsden’s Horse took the rough with the smooth cheerily enough, enlivening their daily routine with many pleasantries. They were always ready to laugh at a comrade or with him in a merry jest at their own expense. Some literary contributions from the ranks to local papers were amusing in their fanciful exaggerations, which nobody enjoyed more than did the troopers whose foibles were thus humorously railed at. For sanitary reasons they were one day ordered, by medical authority, to strike their camp and pitch it on fresh ground, whereupon one of them wrote:

Like a bolt from the blue has fallen upon this camp the Æsculapian decree that we must go hence! It happened to-day that the medical eye of Lumsden’s Horse opened wide, and beheld strange sights. What the vision was has not been recorded owing to no ink being found in camp capable of expressing its blackness, but it is no secret that microbes as big as mastodons were observed freely gambolling in the immediate vicinity of the commissariat tent. The marvel is that a number of men can have lived on such a spot for ten days without coming to more serious harm.

The green sward on the banks of the Tolly’s Nullah has presented an animated appearance within the last few days, for every train arriving in Calcutta has brought its quota to swell the corps. A number of men from the Assam Valley Light Horse are now in camp. The Mysore contingent is also established, while the Behar lads are expected to-morrow by 10 o’clock. These will number a few over fifty, and will prove no doubt the _crème de la crème_ of the corps. In a day or two the Maxim gun will come into quarters, and Oakley, of Kooch Behar and Tirah fame, has gone to some up-country sequestered spot whence comes a particularly quiet _jat_ of pony, where he will choose animals of gentle temperament and so small that falling off them won’t hurt—for Maxim gun men scorn to ride.

This question of riding is no small one, and many gallant sportsmen may be seen tearing down the lines trying to get there before their horses. One like this was advised by a real Tommy Atkins to sit further back and so enjoy a longer ride. Not the least pleasurable sight in the camp is when bold Volunteers begin grooming their own horses. Some never do more than the neck, because of the risk attached to venturing within range of hind feet, with which country-bred horses are notoriously handy—if it may be so said of feet. Then saddling troubles others, because of the difficulty in distinguishing between cantle and pommel when a saddle hasn’t a horse inside to illustrate the difference.

There is a touch of boyish imagination about that sketch, but it is not altogether fanciful. Some of the Volunteers who joined first were by no means experienced horse-masters, and, to nearly all, the equipments for Mounted Infantry in full campaigning kit were not less strange than military technicalities. There was a rich fund of amusement for Lumsden’s Horse in the unauthorised version of ordinary commands as one trooper construed them. When sections in line were crowding too much upon him he would say, ‘Fall off, man! Fall off to the left.’ The comrade thus admonished would murmur, ‘Hang it all, man, that is just what I am trying not to do.’ Still, young Malaprop would repeat, in defiance of the Sergeant-Major’s peremptory request for silence in the ranks, ‘Fall off! fall off!’ meaning all the time ‘Ease off.’ These simple incidents of every day gave a piquancy to camp ‘gup,’ and were the cause of more mirth than the elaborate jokes concocted by literary troopers could arouse. One civilian, in a playfully prophetic mood, devised a new coat of arms for Lumsden’s Horse, which was published in the ‘Indian Daily News’ as a clever play upon the cant of Heraldry; though the Earl Marshal and all the Kings-at-Arms and all the learned pursuivants of Heralds’ College might have been puzzled if called upon to emblazon the quaint conceit with its complicated quarterings, its proper shield of pretence, and its lurid crest of augmentation.


Footnote 1:

Hindustani for ‘cavalier.’—ED.



Life in camp on the Maidan was becoming somewhat monotonous to men whose ardent spirits panted for opportunities of distinction in the Empire’s service, and for freer movement on the vast South African veldt. For traces of this yearning one may search in vain through pages of diaries, to which men do not commit all their secret thoughts. Perhaps they regarded a parade of warlike sentiments as bad form even in the written impressions that were intended only for private perusal. So they contented themselves with noting briefly the minor events of listless days and the mild excitements of evenings that passed swiftly enough in such social pleasures as dining, theatre-going, or listening to the latest London melodies at a smoking-concert organised in aid of the war fund. Even a flower-show was regarded by some as an amusement. We come across frequent references to baths at the Swimming Club, tiffin at Pelité’s, and luxurious little dinners at the Bristol, the Continental, or the Grand; but only by inference, from the sudden importance given to these everyday incidents of civilian life, can we gather what a contrast they were to the coarser fare and rougher surroundings of meals in camp. There is not a hint of discontent at being reduced for the first time in their lives to soldiers’ rations or at the hard fatigue work they were put to as a necessary part of the daily routine. These manly young troopers were beginning to learn the soldier’s lessons of subjection to discipline and endurance of discomforts that must have seemed sufficiently like hardships to most of them, but they had not acquired the habit of grumbling which is Tommy’s cherished privilege. The visits of crowds to that camp on the Maidan every Sunday were evidence enough of the great interest taken by all classes of citizens in Lumsden’s Horse, who were properly appreciative of those attentions, and not quite insensible to the sweet flattery of admiring glances from pretty eyes. The motto that ‘None but the brave deserve the fair’ is one in which gallant soldiers from all time have found encouragement, and Lumsden’s Horse were beginning to appropriate it with other soldierly attributes, for were they not all brave and resolved to prove it? Their only fear was that the chance of doing knightly deeds might not come to them, and that they would land in South Africa only in time to learn that the war had been finished before the tardy transports could get there. Nevertheless, we know that they relaxed no efforts to make themselves fit for the fray. From contributions by troopers to the Indian papers we may learn how zealous they were to master the least attractive duties of military life, and Staff officers bear witness to the sincerity and success of these endeavours. Mere forms of discipline might have been lacking, and one cannot wonder that men who had lived similar lives, sharing the same sports and social pleasures, found it difficult at first to fall into their relative positions, some as officers, others as troopers, and to keep each his own proper groove, ignoring old associations. But the right spirit of subordination was there, and a commander of Irregulars does not ask for more if he has the true capacity for leadership. The daily routine of duties in camp on the Maidan was designed to foster this spirit without making the yoke of essential discipline too galling. A description of it as given by one in the ranks will show that Lumsden’s Horse were by no means pampered Sybarites even at that early stage of their soldiering:

At 6 the ‘rouse’ sounds, and, some minutes later, men clad in khaki breeches, putti gaiters, and flannel shirts issue from the little bell tents into the clammy mist of early morning, and after obtaining a cup of tea at the mess, remove the jhools—which are a most necessary protection against the heavy dew—from their horses, and give them a rub down. At 7 we hear the bugle call ‘Saddle up,’ and at 7.30 the men are all fallen in on the Maidan in column of sections, and go through the various evolutions, special attention being given to mounting and dismounting on saddles packed with full kit, and the leading of horses, the correct and rapid performance of which is so important in Mounted Infantry work. The regiment is divided into two companies, each company consisting of 120 men formed into four sections, and these again divided into permanent sub-sections of four men each. As a rule the sections work independently, each under its own commander. Blank ammunition is liberally expended in order to accustom the horses to the rattle of musketry. Most of the men are mounted on country-breds; but several ride shapely walers averaging 14.2. Considering that 50 per cent. of the horses are quite untrained as chargers, they are astonishingly quiet and well-behaved; the C.B.s—with the exception of an occasional kicker, which plays havoc in the ranks, and is a source of some danger to his unfortunate companions, both men and horses—are quick, handy little brutes, and already they have learnt to lead steadily and well. There are, of course, a good number of trained horses in the ranks; the Mysore men, for instance, being almost without exception mounted on Silidar horses, which are proving most satisfactory chargers and are expected to do well in Africa. After parade the horses are watered, fed, and groomed by their respective owners, and then, as Mr. Pepys would have said, ‘to breakfast,’ under a large _shamiana_ placed at one end of the camp in the shade of sycamore-fig trees. The morning passes quickly while men are drawing and marking kit, cleaning rifles, or doing fatigue duty at pitching tents and other healthy exercises. At noon we water and feed the horses, and 1 o’clock is the tiffin hour. At 4.30 there is an afternoon parade, sometimes by companies, and sometimes the whole regiment parading under the Colonel or Major, after which water, feed and bed-down, and then dinner, and an early retirement to bed. But not for all is this happy rest. There are two guard tents, at opposite ends of the camp, each company providing a sergeant and three men for guard every twenty-four hours, while a man from each company is on sentry throughout the night, his duty being to see that the horses are properly secured—head and heel—and be on hand in case of sickness.



They were not all tyros in war. Burma ribbons on the breasts of some Surma Valley Volunteers who were at Manipur told of previous service in the field, though against enemies very different from the ‘slim,’ evasive Boer. Others who wore no badges of distinction were believed to have fought in more than one campaign; at least, the fair visitors declared that such a martial mien as some men bore could only have been acquired on active service: it bespoke a consciousness of great deeds gallantly done. The heroes of these flattering tributes lived up to their reputations by putting on an air of mystery, which the Colonel alone could have dispelled, for none but he knew the history of every man in the regiment. Still, nobody would have thought of looking for suspected Boers or Boer spies in the ranks of Lumsden’s Horse. A good story, however, is told in this connection at the expense of an officer who overheard two men in the uniform of Lumsden’s Horse talking, in a tongue that was not English, at one of the hotel bars. The officer, not recognising either of them, listened curiously, and caught a few phrases which he declared to be German by the sound (and he claimed familiarity with that, though he did not know enough of the language to repeat the words he had heard). ‘It was German, and no mistake,’ he said, ‘and those two men in our uniform were talking it fluently. What could they be but Boer spies?’ One had a distinctly Boer face, he thought, and, deciding that something ought to be done at once, he assumed his most nonchalant air and asked the two men politely for their names. In reply they gave names so common in England that he could only regard them as aliases. His suspicions being thus seemingly confirmed, he took into his confidence two brother-officers, who, when the two ‘spies’ were pointed out to them, saw the possibility of playing off a joke on the amateur detective, for they recognised in the one with a ‘distinctly Boer face’ a young planter from Behar whose fresh, boyish appearance had won for him the nickname of ‘Baby.’ He looked innocent enough to be capable of anything. Admitting that both these men had come with them from up country, the two mischievous friends added, ‘But we don’t know much about them.’ That was enough for the investigator, who rose at dawn next morning to prepare a circumstantial report for submission to the Colonel. He declared this to be ‘his duty,’ and announced a stern determination to go through with it in spite of pretended protestations from many comrades who had somehow got wind of the story. Their pleadings and wily persuasions only served to goad him on. The responsibility of silence, which they sought to impose upon him, was too much for one in his position to bear, so he hurried off towards the Colonel’s tent, eager to make his startling disclosures. On the way, however, he met a trooper, who unwittingly ‘gave the whole show away’; and the crestfallen officer learned that the men whom he was going to denounce as Boer spies had been coffee-planting for several years in Coorg, and that the language they talked when exchanging confidences in a public place was not German but Canarese. Such incidents as these helped to while away the tedium of life in camp when the iron hand of discipline was beginning to make itself felt lightly but firmly. A very little humour provokes much mirth when other entertainments are scarce. By that time even the sing-songs in camp were being cut short, and the only note of revolt that Lumsden’s Horse were ever known to have sounded arose on that account. It did not grow loud enough to reach the commanding officer’s ears, but is recorded in the diary of a trooper who, after describing a very pleasant little camp-fire concert, says: ‘We were all packed off to bed at 9.30 by the Sergeant-Major, to our indignation.’


_Photo: Bourne & Shepherd._ ON PARADE, CALCUTTA ]

Public efforts for their amusement, however, did not flag, nor were camp regulations always enforced so strictly. These facts we may gather from an entry that would have delighted the methodical Samuel Pepys. ‘After dinner drove to the Grand. Played snookers and won. Afterwards to the Biograph, to which we were invited for nothing. Rather a noise cheering for the Queen, Colonel Lumsden, &c. Marched back singing, though someone tried to stop us. The Colonel came too and bade us sing. Had supper and more songs, and three cheers for the Colonel, and to bed at two.’ These frank revelations are worth whole columns of detailed description as giving an insight into the character of the men who formed Lumsden’s Horse and their adaptability to circumstances that marked the later days of their camp life on the Maidan. The time for such festivities was drawing rapidly to a close, and none but Puritanical moralists would blame them for making the most of it after the manner of light-hearted youth. They had serious thoughts on occasion, however, and all their letters show how deeply impressed they were by one ceremony. The date of embarkation was still uncertain when on Wednesday, February 14, some two hundred officers and men under Colonel Lumsden’s command, headed by the band of the Royal Irish Rifles, marched from their camp to the Cathedral in Calcutta, where a special evening service of farewell was to be celebrated. The Viceroy and Lady Curzon, Sir John Woodburn, Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, nearly every officer of the Viceregal and District Staffs, with regimental commandants and representatives of other Presidencies, attended, and a sympathetic congregation filled every part of the building. Soldiers and civilians joined in singing the Processional hymn, ‘Onward, Christian soldiers,’ their voices mingling with an effect never to be forgotten by anybody who took part in that devotional service. The Lieutenant-Governor read the First Lesson and Colonel Lumsden the Second. The choir sang ‘Fight the good fight,’ and a deep silence fell on the congregation when Bishop Welldon began his address to the contingent that numbered in its ranks many men whose course in life had been guided by the high principles instilled by him when he was master and they schoolboys at Tonbridge and Harrow. In a clear strong voice, the ring of which they knew so well, he spoke to them and their comrades, saying:

This is a service of unique interest in the history of our city, and of our cathedral. It is one of those occasions which make us realise, amid many differences, the essential fact of our national spiritual unity. All who are loyal, all who are patriotic in Calcutta, are gathered or would have gladly gathered within this cathedral to-night. There is not in all this congregation—there is not, I think, in all Calcutta—a British heart that is not moved with sympathy and admiration for you, my brethren, who are going forth to the war in South Africa. And surely there is not a British heart but feels how just it is, how wise and how truly consonant with the best traditions of our race, that it should be your wish on the eve of your departure to seek the protection of, invite the benediction of, and to consecrate yourselves to the name and service of the Most High God. For if it has been possible at other times and in other places within the last few weeks to strike a note of felicity and festivity—I do not say that they have been unduly prominent, but who has not heard them?—if there has been excitement, merriment, and applause on your behalf, it is a note that I would not sound this evening. You are going, I know, with deep solemnity and resolution, and you are going as men who have undertaken a noble duty from which you might have held aloof without reproach, in the full consciousness of its cost and peril, and in the sure conviction that the part you are playing is not unworthy, as indeed it is not, of the British race and the British Empire. You are proud, then, of your self-chosen mission, but it may well be that someone who looks forward with eager anticipation to the future is yet, in his heart, possessed with the not ignoble anxiety that warfare is no child’s play. It is stern and awful. He who enters upon it with a light heart is no true soldier of God or man. You are assembled now within the sanctuary of religion. In a few hours or days you will set sail for a distant land. It is certain that you all will be exposed to the strain and danger of the battlefield, and it is by no means certain that all will return to their homes in safety. Some who hear me now will probably yield their lives for the Empire. Can I forget how, on the 24th day of last September, I shook hands at the Kidderpore Docks with the gallant officer commanding the Gloucestershire Regiment, and how within a few weeks from that day he had fallen—shot dead at the head of his regiment? As his fate was, so may be yours. That is the nobility and dignity of your service. The people of Calcutta would not throng into this cathedral to pray for you, with you, if it were not impressed upon their minds that you are inspired with the brave ambition that makes great Empires great. When they shall bid you farewell, as the troopship slowly passes into the distance, it will be with full hearts, and believing that you will be true even to death, that they will one and all say, ‘God bless you.’ You go for the conservation of the Empire. I look upon the British Empire as the highest of human institutions, and realise that the Empire appeals to the spirit of chivalry, magnanimity, unselfishness, and devotion in all its members. Nobly, indeed, has India, European and Native, responded of late to that inspiring appeal. Who is there that has not felt his pride of Empire to be quickened by the generous loyalty not of Englishmen only but of the princes and nobles of India to her Majesty the Queen-Empress? For that loyalty, unexampled as it is in the history of other peoples, is itself a witness to the beneficence of British rule. May I venture, if only in passing, to express the hope that such an exhibition of loyalty may bring comfort to the sick-bed of that illustrious soldier, the Commander-in-Chief, who in a retrospect of his life can recall many a battle in which Europeans and Indians have fought side by side for the Empire? But if to the princes and nobles—may I not add to the people of India?—the thought of the Empire makes a paramount appeal, how much more to every man and woman of us.

The Imperial spirit is in the air, it has passed from the chamber of philosophical thinkers to the common life of the nation. We are all Imperialists now, and it may be said in the sacred language, of our country in relation to her colonies and dependencies, that ‘her children have risen up and called her blessed.’ So in the hour of her stress and suffering there is not one colony that has failed to render her aid with the resources of its wealth, strength, and its armed men. Well is it, then, that Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen resident in India should take their stand with the colonists, not of South Africa only, but of Australia and Canada, in a cause which makes them one, for the Empire means not conquest alone. It means the principles upon which the modern Christian world is broadly based—justice, equality, freedom of thought and speech, intellectual progress, pure religion, and the sense of personal responsibility to God. You go forth, and by your going you assert that all the constituent members of the Empire are one. As the Apostle said of old, ‘We are members one of another’; and again, ‘If one member suffer all the members suffer with it.’ It is not nothing to you, and it is a matter which vitally and personally touches your interest, that to your fellow-subjects in South Africa should have been denied the elementary rights of citizenship and the common privileges of humanity. The injury that has been done to them is done to you. That you should go forth in a right and reverent spirit is the prayer of all who worship with you in this cathedral. Is it possible—I hardly like to suggest the reflection—but is it possible that we have lately thought too little of Almighty God? Is it possible that we have entered upon the war with something like levity in, the reliance upon our army and upon our pecuniary military resources rather than upon Him who has made and sanctified our Empire? Is it possible that we have forgotten that even if the ‘horse is prepared against the day of battle’ yet victory is of the Lord? If so, let us return to Him in penitence and prayer.

Let us, confess our many failings and shortcomings, our imperfect sense of responsibility to Providence, and our disloyalty, if such there has been, to His commands. May you go forth, brethren, as trusting in Him, for you believe that your cause is just. If it were not just, if it were the cause of oppression or aggrandisement, may He Himself forbid that it should prosper; but if it be His will to use you in His service, to make you the instrument of His providence in the subjugation and pacification of the country which has flouted the majesty of the British Empire, if He has called you, and you have responded to His call, then His blessing will abide with you always. It is in this spirit that we bid you an honourable farewell. It may be that when you are severed by thousands of miles of ocean from the country of your birth or of your adoption, the memory of this service shall not wholly fade from your hearts. Here, in India, where the majesty of the Empire was most fiercely assailed and most successfully vindicated—here in this cathedral, where many monuments eloquently remind you of the courage, faith, and heroism of your race down to the memorial of those young Englishmen who laid their lives down for their country saying that they were not the last English—here, in the presence of the Power which controls the destinies of nations, we invoke the Divine blessing upon your arms. One last word, one inspiring motto, we will offer you. It is the watchword of our race: it is ‘Duty.’ ‘I thank God,’ said Nelson to Captain Blackwood, on the morning of Trafalgar, ‘for this great opportunity of doing my duty.’ ‘Whatever happens, Uxbridge,’ said the Duke of Wellington on the morning of Waterloo, ‘you and I will do our duty.’ That the thought of ‘duty,’ inspired and sanctified by Heaven, may dwell in your hearts is our prayer for you all—the highest prayer that man may offer for man. May the God of our fathers be with you always, and help you to be brave, generous, and merciful, and vouchsafe to you safety; and if it be His will may victory and peace restore you to those who love you so well at home or in India, and grant you in life or in death to prove yourselves worthy citizens of the Empire, faithful servants and fellow soldiers of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

The choir next sang

‘Soldiers of Christ, arise, And put your armour on,’

and this was followed by two special prayers. Then came the National Anthem, in the singing of which the whole congregation joined, and then the Recessional hymn, ‘For all the saints who from their labours rest.’ The service over, Lumsden’s Horse marched back to camp through roads that were thronged with enthusiastic spectators.

The next ten days were crowded with necessary preparations that left the men little leisure for enjoyment of social entertainments arranged in their honour, yet they found time for a pleasant gathering as spectators at an amateur performance in the Calcutta Theatre, and possibly for some tender leave-takings of which no note was made. They were not, at any rate, allowed to go away without many manifestations of good-will from all classes and abundant proofs of appreciation and care for their welfare by the Government of India. It has already been said that his Excellency Lord Curzon accepted readily the rank of Honorary Colonel of the corps, while both he and Lady Curzon took every possible opportunity of identifying themselves with a force in which they continued to show the liveliest personal interest throughout its career of active service. Sir William Lockhart, then Commander-in-Chief, was lying in Fort William, Calcutta, dangerously ill of the malady from which he died not long afterwards, and was therefore unable to see the corps, but he sent to Colonel Lumsden and the executive committee several messages of kindly encouragement. The contingent was inspected on its parade-ground by General Leach, C.B., commanding the troops in the Presidency District. Sir John Woodburn, Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal and Honorary Colonel of the Behar Light Horse, also paid an official visit to Colonel Lumsden and made a farewell speech to the corps on parade the Sunday before its first company embarked.


_Photo: F. Kapp & Co._ TAKING HORSES ON BOARD TRANSPORT 28 _A Company_ ]

Orders for the front had come at last, but one of the transports had not. So it was necessary for Lumsden’s Horse to go off in detachments. The ‘Lindula’ was alongside the wharves in Kidderpore Docks, but she had no room to spare for more than a hundred and fifty troopers, with their officers and the necessary number of horses. Colonel Lumsden and the headquarters were to go in her with A Company and the Maxim Gun detachment, leaving B Company still camped on the Maidan, where Major Showers would take over the command. Delays and alterations of dates with regard to troopships, for which nobody in India was responsible, would have been still more serious but for the resourceful energy of Captain Goodridge, R.N., Director-General of Marine to the Government of India, and Captain Gwynne, R.N., the executive transport officer at Calcutta, who did all in their power to expedite matters and to meet the wishes of Colonel Lumsden, whose one anxiety was for the comfort and well-being of his men on the voyage.

Before daybreak on Monday, January 26, 1900, bugles were sounding the reveillé for A Company, and from that moment its camp was a scene of liveliest activity. Though the men whose turn to embark might not come for a week or two longer went about their ordinary duties with assumed unconcern, they cast many wistful glances at the busy preparations of their envied comrades. Life in Calcutta had been pleasant enough to make parting ‘such sweet sorrow’ for many that they would fain have prolonged it at the last, but none gave a thought to such things in the dawn of the day so long desired. For them all, South Africa was then the goal of hope, and naturally the troops to go first were deemed most fortunate. An old campaigner might have told them of the days to come, when, in the weariness of a realisation more hollow than their dreams, they would be haunted by the music of that last waltz in Calcutta, and longing to hear once more the rustle of palm fronds under soft Indian skies, to breathe the sweet fragrance of oleanders and roses. These thoughts, however, were unspoken, and if anybody had ventured to hint at them he would have been rightly scouted as a sickly sentimentalist by Lumsden’s Horse, who were going forth to do the work of men. Yes; but somehow they were not all adamant when they heard the cheers of thousands greeting them as they marched through streets crowded with Europeans and natives. The service company, in full campaigning kit, took the lead, proudly conscious that all this was meant as an enthusiastic farewell to them and for the gallant Colonel at their head; and B Company followed, wearing simple drill order, with becoming modesty. An escort of ladies and gentlemen on horseback accompanied the marching contingent. So uncontrollable did the excitement of spectators become that they broke in upon and mingled with the ranks, a confused mass from which it was difficult for Lumsden’s Horse to disentangle themselves and pass in any semblance of military formation through the dock gates, within which they dismounted. Embarkation of their horses would in ordinary circumstances have occupied a whole day if the slow system of hoisting by slings had been adhered to. Major Taylor, however, suggested the use of zig-zag gangways, ascending by easy inclines stage above stage. To this arrangement the broad wharves of Kidderpore Docks were admirably adapted. Captain Gwynne, with a seaman’s ready appreciation of common-sense proposals, consented to this departure from former methods. The gangways were rigged accordingly, and so the horses walked quietly up the slopes to their berths on different decks instead of being slung on board in the barbarous old fashion. The whole operation thus took an hour instead of a day, and not a single horse was injured or had its temper upset. While horses were being got on board the companies drew up to await the Viceroy’s coming, where burning sunlight fell full on the white helmets that were not to be worn again for many a day. All their march from the Maidan had been like a triumphal procession, to the accompaniment of cheers and waving handkerchiefs; but a scene even more inspiring awaited them at the docks, where a great crowd had assembled, making the grimy wharves bright with the colours of dainty costumes. People lined the parapets of surrounding houses in masses uncomfortably dense, and a multitude thronged the jetty, alongside which the transport ‘Lindula’ lay waiting to receive her full complement of troops. Enclosures reserved for favoured spectators were filled to overflowing, and at least 2,000 of the number assembled there had to stand, the 3,000 chairs being mostly occupied by ladies.


_Photo: F. Kapp & Co._ EMBARKATION AT CALCUTTA _Kidderpore Docks, February 26, 1900_ ]

Judges of the High Courts and senior officials of all departments were present. Lumsden’s Horse lined one side of a great quadrangle facing the flower-fringed daïs from which Lord Curzon was to deliver his farewell speech. Behind them, stretching from end to end of the line, were gay streamers bearing the time-honoured mottoes that served to inspire Roman legions when they set out in galleys to conquer the world. ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’ and ‘Fortes fortuna juvat’ are sentiments that have happily not lost their meaning or their power to influence the actions of men even in our unromantic age. The crowds had gathered there to bid ‘God speed’ to the first contingent of Volunteers that had ever left India to fight for their Queen and country. And each unit of that assemblage seemed eager to do or say something that might emphasise the heartiness of the farewell. So general and earnest was this desire that the police had great difficulty to keep the pressing spectators within bounds.

On arrival at the dock gates, their Excellencies the Viceroy and Lady Curzon were met by his Honour the Lieutenant-Governor and officers in attendance, who conducted them to the Viceregal platform, above which the royal standard was hoisted. Lord Curzon then inspected the ranks of Lumsden’s Horse, chatting with their Colonel the while. This inspection over, his Excellency returned to the daïs, and, in a voice that carried far among the silently attentive spectators, addressed the corps in these words:

Colonel Lumsden, Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and men of Lumsden’s Light Horse: In bidding you good-bye this afternoon, I feel that I may claim to speak for others besides myself. I do not appear here merely as the Honorary Colonel of your corps, proud as I am to fill that position. Nor am I merely the spokesman of the citizens of Calcutta, European and Native, among whom you have spent the past few weeks, and who desire to wish you all success in your patriotic enterprise. I feel that I am more than that, and that I may consider myself the mouthpiece of public opinion throughout India, which has watched the formation of this corps with admiration, which has contributed to its equipment and comfort with no illiberal hand, and which now sends you forth with an almost parental interest in your fortunes. At a time when the stress of a common anxiety has revealed to the British Empire its almost unsuspected unity, and its illimitable resources in loyalty and men, it would have been disappointing to all of us if India had lagged behind—India which, even if it is only peopled by a small minority of our own race, is yet the noblest field of British activity and energy and devotion that the world can show. Already the British regiments that we have sent from this country have helped to save Natal, and many a brave native follower has borne his part in the struggle. But as soon as the electric call for volunteer help to the mother land ran round, India responded to the summons. She has given us from the small civil population of British birth the 250 gallant men whom I am now addressing, and she would have given us as many more as Government would have been prepared to accept. I doubt not that had we been willing to enrol 1,000 instead of 250, they would have been forthcoming; and that had not one thousand but many thousand volunteers been called for from the native races, who vie with us in fervent loyalty to the same Sovereign, they would have sprung joyfully to arms, from the Hindu or Mussulman chief of ancient lineage and great possessions to the martial Sikh or the fighting Pathan.

You, however, are the 250 who have been chosen, the first body of Volunteers from India that have ever had the chance of fighting for the Queen outside their shores; and you, Colonel Lumsden, to whose patriotic initiative this corps owes its being, and from whom it most befittingly takes its name, are the officer who is privileged to command this pioneer body of Indian soldiers of the Empire. Officers and men, you carry a great responsibility with you; for it will fall to you in the face of great danger, perhaps even in the face of death, to sustain the honour of the country that is now sending you forth and of the race from which you are sprung. But you will have this consolation. You are engaged on a glorious, and as I believe a righteous, mission, not to aggrandise an Empire, not merely to repel an unscrupulous invasion of the Queen’s territories, but to plant liberty and justice and equal rights upon the soil of a South Africa henceforward to be united under the British and no other flag. You go out at a dramatic moment in the contest, when, owing to the skilful generalship of an old Indian soldier and Commander-in-Chief, and to the indomitable gallantry of our men, the tide of fortune, which has too long flowed against us, seems at last to have turned in our favour. May it carry you on its forward crest to Pretoria itself! All India applauds your bravery in going. We shall watch your deeds on the battlefield and on the march. We wish you God speed in your undertaking; and may Providence in His mercy protect you through the perils and vicissitudes of your first contact with the dread realities of war, and bring you safely back again to this country and to your homes.

Colonel Lumsden and men, on behalf of your fellow-countrymen and your fellow-subjects throughout India, I bid you farewell.


_Photo: F. Kapp & Co._ H.E. THE VICEROY ADDRESSING THE CORPS _February 26, 1900_ ]

There is ample evidence from the letters of troopers themselves to prove that Lord Curzon’s eloquent words inspired them with an ideal which they determined at all hazards to live up to, and perhaps it is not too much to say that the conspicuous gallantry everywhere and at all times displayed by all ranks of Lumsden’s Horse is directly traceable to the high conception of their duty breathed in every sentence of the Viceroy’s speech, though they paraphrased it in more homely language, taking for their regimental motto ‘Play the game.’ For a while after Lord Curzon had finished speaking the troops were silent. Then they raised lusty cheers for his Excellency and Lady Curzon and the people of Calcutta, who in their turn cheered Lumsden’s Horse again and again. The Viceroy and his suite, accompanied by Colonel Lumsden, Sir Patrick Playfair, and other members of the executive committee, then went on board the ‘Lindula’ for a final inspection of the arrangements made for the comfort of the corps, whose horses had already been shipped. Meanwhile Mrs. Pugh had presented each officer and trooper with a Prayer-book, and in giving it she said a few simple words that touched all hearts. Some tender scenes of leave-taking had been enacted, and men came back to their places in the ranks with faces not quite so hard as they thought. There may have been sobs in the sweet voices that whispered ‘Good-bye!’ but if so they were lost in the loud chorus that rang out from comrades cheering each other. Then the band struck up ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me,’ and the troopers of A Company marched on board the ‘Lindula.’ As she cast off from her moorings amid many touching demonstrations and more enthusiastic cheers, the strains of music changed to ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ The sun had set then, but crowds lingered, cheering still and waving handkerchiefs until the transport disappeared in the gathering darkness. She dropped down to her anchorage in Garden Reach that night, and when Calcutta awoke next morning she had gone, bearing the first contingent of Lumsden’s Horse towards South Africa. Colonel Lumsden’s appreciation of all that had been done for the corps was expressed in the following letter:

_To the Editor of the ‘Englishman.’_

SIR,—On the eve of leaving India for South Africa with the corps which I have the honour to command there is one pleasant duty which I have to fulfil. This is to convey, in the most public manner, to all who have helped me in raising ‘Lumsden’s Horse,’ my grateful thanks for their sympathy and support. To the Viceroy, who has accepted the Honorary Colonelcy of the corps, I owe more than can be stated in this letter, for his Excellency removed all difficulties which lay in the way of sending an Indian Volunteer Contingent to the seat of war. To his Honour the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal and his Excellency the Commander-in-Chief I am indebted for their support and sympathy. Sir Edwin Collen, Military Member; Sir Edmund Elles, Adjutant-General; Major-Generals Maitland and Wace; Surgeon-General Harvey; Brigadier-General Leach; Colonel Money and Captain Drake-Brockman; Colonels Buckland and Spenser, Army Clothing Department; Captain Gwyn, Royal Indian Marine; Captain Philipps; Colonel Mansfield, Commissariat Transport Department; the Commissariat Staff in the Presidency District; one and all gave me the benefit of their experience in military matters in addition to official assistance which was of the highest value. There were many occasions when their personal influence smoothed over difficulties connected with organisation and equipment, and made my task much easier than it would otherwise have been. I wish gratefully to acknowledge the special kindness of Major Pilgrim, I.M.S., who medically examined the members of the corps. To the executive committee—Sir Patrick Playfair, Colonel Buckingham, Colonel Money, Major Eddis, Major Dolby, and Mr. Harry Stuart—I am most deeply indebted, for they have all worked hard from first to last; to the general public who responded so handsomely to the appeal for subscriptions; to the Press, who gave full publication to the movement; to the donors of camp equipment, kit, and things in kind; to the railways for their assistance; and to the India General and River Steam Navigation Companies, who carried the Assam Volunteers free of cost; to these I must express the warmest thanks, not merely on my own part, but on behalf of every officer and man of the corps. They, indeed, rendered it possible for my scheme as a whole to be carried out. To Mrs. Pugh and the ladies of Calcutta we can only say that their labour of love will never be forgotten by ‘Lumsden’s Horse.’


February 26.


_Photo: F. Kapp & Co._ B COMPANY LUMSDEN’S HORSE LEAVING CALCUTTA _March 3, 1900_ ]

Four days later welcome orders came for B Company to be ready for embarkation, and, early in the morning of March 3, Major Showers, in command of all that remained of Lumsden’s Horse on the Maidan, marched out of camp, escorted by Europeans and natives principally on horseback. For them the enthusiasm that had marked the departure of their comrades was revived with even greater fervour, and though this second leave-taking was less ceremonious than the first, it lacked nothing of the heart-stirring eloquence that rings through the voices of people when they are moved by great impulses. The Viceroy, when he addressed Colonel Lumsden and A Company, had spoken his farewell to the whole regiment. This second demonstration, though accompanied by many signs of official interest, was in all essential characteristics a popular movement in which all classes joined with the more impressive warmth because it was the last tribute they could pay to Lumsden’s Horse before the corps might be called upon to take its place in the fighting line. The Lieutenant-Governor (Sir John Woodburn) and the Bishop of Calcutta made eloquent speeches that were emphasised by repeated cheering; and with many cordial words of farewell ringing in their ears, to the musical accompaniment of ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ Major Showers and his hundred troopers embarked on board the ‘Ujina.’ After she had steamed down the Hugli there was no more work to be done by the committee, whose members had laboured with patriotic self-sacrifice to raise and equip Lumsden’s Horse and send the contingent forth a perfectly organised force in all respects. The executive committee then practically handed over all its authority to Sir Patrick Playfair, who never ceased for a moment to watch over the interests of the Contingent, for which he had already done so much. The following letter shows how greatly Lumsden’s Horse were indebted for their rapid and complete organisation to the business capacity and indefatigable industry of Sir Patrick Playfair:

S.S. ‘Lindula,’ _en route_ for South Africa: March 12, 1900.

My dear Playfair,—I have felt ever since leaving Calcutta that I never half thanked you for what you did for Lumsden’s Horse, and no one knows so well as myself, or appreciates more to the full, the work you did on its behalf. Now, when I have time to think calmly over the events of the past two months, I can see plainly that the successful issue things were brought to, financially and otherwise, was entirely due to your energy and guidance; and this without in the slightest degree depreciating the valuable services of your fellow-workers on the committee, as I feel confident one and all of them would coincide heartily with my sentiments....

Yours always,



Life on board a troopship does not offer much material for graphic description, and none but a Kipling could give to its ordinary incidents an absorbing interest for general readers. Nevertheless, it has charms for those who look at it with eyes fresh to such scenes, and for Lumsden’s Horse, at any rate, there was a novelty in the situation not wholly unpleasant in spite of the many discomforts they had to endure and the distasteful duties necessarily imposed upon them. They were learning there a harder lesson than any of which their experiences in camp on the Maidan could have given the slightest conception. It is one thing to go a long voyage on board a liner as first-, second-, or even third-class passenger, but quite another to be penned up between decks in a crowded transport with native servants and Lascars, eating coarse Government rations served in the roughest fashion, doing the work of grooms and lackeys, and sleeping on bare planks in an atmosphere odorous with exhalations from stables and galleys. They had enlisted for a soldier’s life, however, prepared to take the rough with the smooth, and, being in for it, they made the best of their circumstances after the first rude shock of feeling what military service really means had worn off. Discipline may become a property of easiness anywhere else, but on board ship the line that separates rank from rank must be sharply drawn even in the case of a Volunteer company. Comradeship and interchange of friendly greetings between officers and men may still go on as of old; but they cannot make a trooper forget for a moment that certain privileges follow rank, and disabilities cling to those who have it not, while these facts are thrust upon him insistently at every turn and dinned into his ears by every bugle call to duty or to meals. It is well that we also should remember these things in estimating the sacrifices that Volunteers make when they give up the comforts, if not luxuries, of home life and go forth to fight for country and for empire as private soldiers. The privations, the rough fare, the hard marches in all weather, exposure to rapid alternations of heat and cold, fierce sunshine where there is no shelter by day, and pitiless rain from which there is no escape at night, hunger, wounds, and sickness—all these may be cheerfully borne because they are the lot of all ranks alike. Not so, however, with the petty humiliations and drudgery inseparable from many duties on board a transport, where the mere trooper finds that a soldier’s uniform is a badge of distinction truly, but the distinction at times brings with it something closely akin to a sense of humiliation. The company or regimental officers may do all they can to take the keen point off this goading sentiment, but it will wound where there is the least protection against it and rankle too. One must say to the credit of Lumsden’s Horse that they did not allow such considerations to trouble. There is no trace of discontent in their published contributions to Indian papers, of which some extracts from the ‘Englishman’ may be made by way of giving a picture of the voyage as troopers looked at it. We left the ‘Lindula’ steaming down the Hugli apparently well on her way towards South Africa. Though lost to the view of interested crowds who looked for her soon after dawn on the morning of February 27, she did not pursue an uninterrupted course. At this point a trooper of A Company takes up the story in a lively narrative, writing thus:

The absurd antics which the river Hugli thinks it necessary to go through ere flowing to rest in the bosom of its old mammy Ocean compel mariners to sail on it by day alone, and then to go as cannily as a cat on hot bricks. On Tuesday morning we dashed off letters and telegrams, and with a sigh of relief despatched them by the post boat, thinking we were fairly off for Afric’s sandy shores. But no! We had not reckoned with the lead line, which recorded much the same number of feet and inches that the good ship ‘Lindula’ drew, so with a Heave! Ho! Holly! the anchor fell overboard, and then we were stuck for a whole day.

Fancy getting up at 4.30 in the pitch dark! And no chance of shirking either, for the decks are swabbed down and clean as a child’s plate after a penny dinner by 5 A.M. of the clock. Five-thirty heralds a cup of tea, and 6 o’clock sets every nag aboard neighing and whinnying, for do they not know it to be feeding time, better even than the Sergeant-Major, who marches about with a little stick marking time? Then stables—a pleasant job for the deaf and dumb, but trying to a man who wishes to retain the lily-white unstained purity of his mind. Nine o’clock is the signal for the bugler to tootle ‘Mary! come to the cook-house door,’ and before he gets to the ‘y’ in Mary, A Company is tumbling head over heels down the fore companion.

Spinning down the river with the banks gradually receding from sight raises everybody’s spirits, and a merry lot we are when from the Sandheads comes a telegram announcing the capitulation of Cronjé—news greeted by loud and continuous cheers. A little way more and the pilot brig heaves in sight, and soon we lie to in her neighbourhood, listening to round after round of hoarse cheering from the white-hatted figures aboard. Our pilot drops over the side, accompanied by a great sheaf of our last messages to friends, and we get up steam, waving good-bye to India, and begin our voyage, never a man of us for whom the future does not loom big with adventurous hopes; never a man of us reckoning of the toil or peril. Young British blood, hot and eager, keen to flow more swiftly, keen to taste of the life that has given the world so many great names, so many great deeds. India, _au revoir_!

The gentle reader must not imagine that we have nothing to do. Breakfast finished at 10 o’clock, the bugles wax busy, and call after call resounds through the ship, summoning sections to various tasks. One of the earliest parades of the voyage was that to practise the fire alarm and ‘boats.’ Every man has his appointed place, and lest any should hurry unduly for the boats, sentries have been told off to guard these, having their rifles loaded with ball cartridges, and orders to shoot the first man who may attempt a rush. This extremely important matter has been thoroughly impressed on our minds by practice, and should the alarm be given in stern reality we all know where to make for.

Needless to say, rifle exercise is one of the chief things to which we must pay attention, and morning and afternoon the words of command ring through the ship as squad after squad is put through its facings. Fatigues are innumerable. Bringing forage and stores on deck is a daily task; oiling and packing away saddlery; cleaning spare arms; painting side arms; marking equipment and a dozen other things. Then a signalling class is terribly busy, and a row of otherwise intelligent-looking lads wave their arms wildly to the accompaniment of strange sounds bellowed by the signalling instructor.

When the rifle exercises have sunk into the minds of men, they are allowed to practise shooting. Every day, at 12 and 2, parties assemble on the quarter-deck and shoot at wine cases, biscuit boxes, bits of paper, anything that affords a mark. In spite of the rolling and pitching of the ship, and, what is worse, the vibration caused by the screw, wonderful practice is made. A bit of paper a few inches square is hit several times at 200 yards, and as the larger obstacles recede they are repeatedly struck. Men firing have to judge their own distances, and the practice on the whole has been marvellously good. The Maxim gun has had a turn, too, and a very terrible weapon it is. In spite of the extreme disadvantage under which it labours when placed on a moving platform, excellent shooting has been made with it. An ordinary beer barrel at 800 and 1,000 yards was douched with spray, and then struck after three or four shots had been fired. The noise is atrocious, but it is grand to see the bullets striking the water, one! two! three! four! ever nearing the mark, and then, five! Plump in.

Though we have lots of work to do we don’t forget to play, and many are the tasks indulged in. One of the favourite amusements is boxing, and morning and evening a ring is formed wherein all may enter for a round or two. A few matches have been got up, and desperate battles have been fought betwixt champions of the various sections. Naturally party feeling runs high on these occasions, and everybody in the ship, from the Colonel and the Captain down to Carpenter Chinaman John, takes up a place outside the ring, watching the fray with bated breath. The end is usually a black eye or blood drawn, neither of which temporary inconveniences prevents furious and friendly handshakings at the finish. Singlestick has supporters, but none so many as the gentle art of boxing. Cockfighting has many votaries, and wrestling a few, for both of these elegant diversions may be partaken of in the comparative dark. Duty and pleasure are combined in tubbing. A sail bath four feet deep and some six square is slung and filled with sea water. The bather, dressed ‘altogether,’ stands well back and runs at the bath, rolling in head over heels. Number one is followed quickly by more, one on top of the other, until the bath is nothing but a struggling mass of arms and legs. Then the hose is turned on, and every man must take his turn or pay the penalty of being thrust underneath.

On our first Saturday night at sea the skipper—Captain Steuart—was kind enough to permit a smoking-concert to be held on the quarter-deck, where the saloon piano had been comfortably ensconced on a raised stage ornamented with flags. Corporal Blair took the public fancy tremendously with some of the comic songs that soldiers delight in. Corporal Skelton’s recitation about the Volunteer Instructor who complains of his squad that ‘They Largifies,’ fairly brought the house down. Among others who gave us pleasure were the brothers Wright and Private Woods, who, _à trois_, drew much melody from the banjo. The following morning (Sunday) we had service on deck, the Colonel and the Captain reading the Lessons. The little book so thoughtfully presented to every man by Mrs. Pugh was used.

Crossing the line was a most unexciting experience, for no Father Neptune came on board, nor did any of the other time-honoured things befall us. Alas! for the merchant navy! We did not see Ceylon at all, but during the night we passed, in the distance, a light which shone out from somewhere on its coast. That was our last sight of the outside world until we had crossed the great Indian Ocean.

On the whole, the horses have had a good time, very different from that endured by shiploads coming over from Australia. Most of them get a grooming of sorts every day, and many get an hour’s walking exercise round a small circle once or twice in the week. It is wonderful to behold an animal with legs puffed out like tea cosies begin his little tour and finish up with extremities clean cut as those of a racehorse.

Still, there is a good deal of sickness among them in various forms of fever and colic. First, Private Case, from Behar, lost a very clever little horse. Since then two more have died, one a valuable mare, the property of Lieutenant Crane, of Behar, and the other the charger of Private Atkinson, from Mussoorie.

The fifth officer of the ship, a braw lad frae Glescae, finds it very trying to hear us miscall the different parts—‘pairts,’ he says—of his beloved she. ‘A ship’s no like a house, wi’ upstairs an’ doonstairs,’ he plaintively remonstrates. And when any of us join him in a cigar and throw the stump out of the ‘window’ instead of the ‘scuttle,’ the poor man almost cries. One continually finds him gravely pointing out to little knots of men the absurdity of referring to the back or the front of a ship. He explains how it ought to be ‘forrard’ and ‘aft,’ and ‘above’ and ‘below.’ Then someone will mildly query where ‘astarn’ comes in, and how it is possible to distinguish between port and starboard. And he tells. But, all the same, we continue to search for each other upstairs and down; we lie on the floor, forgetting it is deck, and it still passes our comprehension how ‘loo’ard’ can be at one side of the ship one day and the opposite to-morrow. This fifth officer is a bit of a humourist, too, and, finding an appreciative audience, plays off a rich fund of nautical yarns that have gathered raciness in the course of long centuries since they were translated from the Portuguese of Vasco da Gama. The narrator evidently thinks that Lumsden’s Horse are as credulous as ‘the Marines.’ Perhaps he takes them to be a mounted variety of that species, and, being a naturalist among other things, he has a scientific motive for studying their peculiarities.

Colonel Lumsden confirmed the following non-commissioned appointments in A Company, some of which were provisionally made before leaving Calcutta:

Regimental Sergeant-Major: C.M. Marsham (Behar L.H.); Company Sergeant-Major E.N. Mansfield (Punjaub L.H.); Sergeants: H. Fox (Behar L.H.), E.M.S. McNamara (Behar L.H.), R.S. Stowell (Poona V.R.), and W. Walker (Assam V.L.H.); Lance-Sergeants: F.L. Elliott (Assam V.L.H.), D.S. Fraser (Oudh L.H.), J. Lee Stewart (Coorg and Mysore R.), and R.E. Dale (E.I.R.V.C.); Corporals: Percy Jones (Behar L.H.), G. Lawrie (Oudh L.H.), E. Llewhellin (Behar L.H.), and H. Marsham (Behar L.H.); Lance-Corporals: A.M. Firth (Behar L.H.), A.C. Walker (Assam Valley L.H.), E.J. Ballard (Punjaub L.H.), H.F. Blair (Behar L.H.), D.J. Keating (Calcutta Port Defence), W.S. Lemon (Calcutta V.R.), A. Macgillivray (Behar L.H.), and J.W.A. Skelton (Assam V.L.H.).

Transport Establishment: Lance-Corporals R.P. Estabrook, C.T. Power, J. Charles, S.W. Cullen, and G.W. Palmer.

It could not be expected that 150 men would be together on board ship for three weeks without a certain proportion going sick. Lance-Sergeant Lee Stewart, of the Coorg and Mysore Rifles, was struck down with pneumonia. Shortly afterwards Private H.H.J. Hickley, of the Behar Light Horse, was attacked by the same illness aggravated by pleurisy. About this time a large number were bowled over. Blame was laid on the tinned provisions, but, probably, if men had worn the mufflers, so tenderly knitted for us by Calcutta ladies, about their waists instead of round their necks much pain and trouble would have been avoided. The decks at night were covered with sleeping figures, clad and unclad in every degree. At turning in, a gentle zephyr that wouldn’t disturb the ringlets on a fair lady’s neck might be blowing, and in an hour a sharp breeze laden with heavy rain would sweep down and drench the unconscious sleepers. Then one of the immediate results of an order for men to go about barefooted was that Private Clayton-Daubney, of the Behar Light Horse, took a fall when turning a slippery corner and broke his collar-bone.


_Photo: Bourne & Shepherd._ THE REGIMENT IN CALCUTTA _Part of A Company_ ]

To Sir Patrick Playfair Colonel Lumsden wrote while at sea a letter that is interesting as a proof of his interest in and care for the men under his command. They paid many glowing tributes to him afterwards, but none that gives a better key to the hold he had on their respect than his own simple words as they appear in the following extract:

I regret to say Hickley, from Behar, is in a very bad way. He had fever and pneumonia to start with, and has now gone clean ‘pāgāl,’[2] and, though quite quiet and harmless, has to have two men in close attendance day and night. I had him taken into the saloon yesterday, in a cabin near my own. I am intensely sorry for the poor chap, as, unless a sudden recovery takes place, we shall have to make arrangement for the authorities to look after him when we land. We have one more case on board, which I was in hopes it might not be necessary to mention. Stewart, the planter from Mysore, had an attack of pneumonia which has taken a chronic form, and I fear there is small chance of immediate recovery. He may have to go into hospital at Durban—whether we land there or not—and I much doubt his ever being able to join us again. You will remember my telling you about him, a man of independent means (married, with a family), who came for the love of the game. He was a most useful man, knowing a lot about horses, and was made an acting sergeant almost as soon as he arrived, and put on to help Veterinary-Captain Stevenson. He did excellent work on board until he got ill, and I shall miss him much. It is his own wish to land if he is not better.

Beyond this we have had a most delightful voyage, simply perfect weather, and a sea like glass. The men act up to our corps motto ‘_Play the game_’ like the good chaps they are. You should see them at stable work in the morning, with nothing on but trousers rolled up to their thighs, or pyjamas ditto, and later in the day, washing their kit or making up puddings and cakes of sorts—some of the latter are works of art! We have a lot of musical talent on board, and have had a couple of excellent concerts. Captain Steuart added to the enjoyment of the last by giving a magic-lantern show. He is a very good sort, and has done everything in his power to ensure the comfort of the men. After finishing our daily inspection to-day he confided to me that he had never seen a troopship better kept, as regards order and cleanliness. The men are being practised daily in the use of the rifle, dropping boxes and wisps of straw overboard for targets, and I am more than pleased with the way they are shooting, at a moving target from a moving ship. You might also mention to my friend General Wace that Holmes is making excellent practice with his Maxim gun.

[Illustration: C.V.S. DICKINS]

[Illustration: N.J. BOLST]

[Illustration: CAPT. HOLMES]

[Illustration: P.T. CORBETT]

[Illustration: SERGT. DALE]


This is one picture of life in a troopship under the happiest conditions. There is another side to the picture, of which we may get glimpses in the experiences of men in Company B, to whom Calcutta’s citizens gave a hearty ‘God speed’ when they embarked in the ‘Ujina’ at Kidderpore Docks on March 3. Before she had cast off from her moorings the troopers had been called to dinner, and that feast was a revelation to them of all they were leaving behind. One corporal described it as ‘a sort of stew in stable-buckets, too filthy for anything’; but that may have been merely a little ebullition of aristocratic prejudice. Nevertheless, he and two comrades hurried on shore, and drove as fast as they could to Madan’s in the town, where they invested 200 rupees in sundry things which they regarded as necessaries for their sustenance during the voyage. They were back in time to hear the Lieutenant-Governor’s and Bishop Welldon’s speeches, and then to join in a parting cheer for their old adjutant, Captain Martin, who only left them to go on shore as the ‘Ujina’ cast off. The subsequent proceedings of that day are not recorded in the corporal’s diary, who contents himself with noting that he ‘had some tea—no milk, and awfully sweet.’ When he awoke next morning, after a restless night on bare planks between decks, the thought of creature-comforts must have been uppermost still, for he was aware of ‘gnawing pains—result of nothing to eat,’ and his morning reflections begin with the disjointed phrases: ‘No knives and forks. No salt. Those who had penknives were lucky. Fortunately we all had fingers.’ Was there in those last words a prophetic suggestion that some of them might not even have fingers for such uses after a while? If so, the gloomy foreboding passed without record, giving place to action, for at 6 o’clock that morning the corporal whose notes throw a glimmer of light on much of the darker side that is too often ignored, found himself in charge of a stable fatigue, wading at the heels of the horses in a foul, dark, unventilated drain about thirty inches wide, from which nothing ran off. He mentions incidentally that the four unfortunate men who had to clear away this accumulated filth were ‘very indignant’; and from this we may gather that they used adjectives to express their opinion of that first stable fatigue on board ship. It does not read like the best possible means of promoting a healthy appetite, but when called to breakfast three hours later they looked with dismay at a loaf that was to last each of them the whole day, and when one small tin of brawn was put before them for division among sixteen men at a table, they came to the conclusion that it ‘seemed very short commons indeed.’ Some of the men found that their carefully-arranged kits had been thrown aside in a confused heap to make room for native followers, and they ventured on a mild remonstrance, but were told, ‘You must look after your own things; you don’t have your bearers here.’ That obvious truth had impressed itself upon them very forcibly some hours earlier, while they were doing stable fatigue, and it needed no rubbing in. Other trials followed, as we gather from a brief but expressive note: ‘Dinner at 1.0. Soup and a messy stew in buckets, as before. Tried to get some salt unsuccessfully, and, returning, found the stew all gone. Beer was served out, which I didn’t drink. Gave my bottle away and drank water, hot and cloudy, out of a bath-tin. No knives or forks yet. Through our mess-room, while we feed, files a long procession of syces, transport wallahs, servants, Candaharis; sometimes a herd of goats, and always Lascars, carrying ropes, hoses, or buckets. Now they have kicked us out from where we were making ourselves comfortable below, and I miss much a corner, even such as my horse has, where I could put my things in safety. At night we throw our straw mattresses wherever we can find a vacant space, and scramble in confusion for our kits out of a heap of exactly similar ones. We would gladly have paid our own expenses for a little more comfort. The last straw came at 7.30, when the “cook-house” bugle went again, but the _chef_ said, “No orders to cook anything more,” and shut the door in the faces of orderlies. The N.C.O.s then went in a body and complained. Result—bread and beer were served out. It was bread and water for me. Lay my mattress down among the horses, and was comfortable in spite of the stuffy smell and stamping about all night.’ Still, his thoughts seem to have dwelt on the idea that there was much to complain of—the coarse tin pots, the tea extremely sweet and without milk, the hot and dirty water—not even a dry canteen from which to supplement the scanty fare, and so on until he dropped into sweet sleep. That sleep must have been very refreshing, or a considerable change had come upon the ship by the next morning, when the food had improved greatly, and at supper the ‘men were merry enough, with great singing of songs.’ Later entries in this diary show that the first highly-coloured outbursts of discontent were due mainly, if not wholly, to a sudden change from the luxury and plenty of a planter’s _ménage_ to the comparative coarseness of a simple soldier’s fare—otherwise Government rations—in necessarily rough circumstances. The additional comforts thoughtfully provided by the Calcutta Committee for consumption on the voyage were by mistake stowed away with baggage and other stores below. Thenceforward matters mended day by day, and, though there were still some discomforts to be endured, they seem to have been relieved by more amusements than appear in the letters sent for publication to the Indian newspapers. On the whole, however, a fairly comprehensive idea of the way in which B Company passed its days on board the ‘Ujina’ may be formed from the following letter, parts of which were published in the ‘Indian Daily News’:



Hard work and plenty of it has been the order of the day ever since we came on board. The greater part of this is in connection with the horses. It is, of course, of very great importance that we should be in a position to move forward as soon as possible after landing, and, bearing this in mind, Major Showers and his officers are doing their utmost to keep the animals fit. For the first day or two bran mashes were given the horses, with as much hay as they could eat. This has been gradually augmented, until they are now getting a mixture of bran and gram or linseed three times a day. The watering and feeding are carried out with the greatest regularity, each section officer personally superintending the work. Our daily routine may prove interesting to the uninitiated in these matters. Awakened by reveillé at 4.30, we have time to put our kits in order before getting a cup of tea at 5.30. Half an hour later the bugle sounds ‘stables,’ and the men immediately assemble on the lower deck, each section separately, to answer the roll. Absentees who are not on the sick-list, or engaged in fatigue or other duties, have their names noted down, and are dealt with afterwards. Each horse is taken out of his stall and thoroughly groomed, and the stall itself cleaned and disinfected daily. The horses are then watered, a certain number of men being told off for this duty; the rest are occupied in drawing and mixing the feeds, which they place in tin troughs, one in front of each horse. As soon as word is passed that watering is completed, the command ‘Feed’ is given, and the troughs are immediately lifted and fixed on the breast-boards attached to each stall. The hay is then served out in bundles, each horse getting six. These are opened and put in the bags hung over the horses’ heads.

The stable picket, consisting of three men from each section, is posted at 7 o’clock in the evening, and is on duty for twenty-four hours—till seven the following evening. Each man takes his turn as stable sentry for eight hours altogether out of the twenty-four—two hours on and four hours off. A non-commissioned officer is in charge of all four section pickets, and he also is on duty for twenty-four hours until relieved when the guard is changed next evening. He is expected to go round the pickets two or three times during the night, and see that the sentries are at their posts all right. The orderly officer also visits the pickets twice during the night. The duties of each sentry are to see that the horses do not get loose, or injure themselves, or ‘savage’ each other, and that they are fed properly.

After breakfast, at 8 o’clock, the men’s time is generally taken up in cleaning rifles and accoutrements, and washing and dressing themselves for a general parade at half-past 10.

The men are then kept busy at the manual and firing exercise for about an hour, and also bayonet exercise occasionally. The inspection of the steamer by the Captain, accompanied by Major Showers and officers, including the doctor and veterinary officer, also takes place at this hour, and Major Showers afterwards inspects the company. For the next hour or two we have little to do bar fatigues until the time comes for watering and feeding horses at midday stables.

During the afternoon the men usually employ themselves in playing cricket, boxing, wrestling, football, and tugs-of-war, until the bugles sound for evening stables at 5.30. Sunday is a day of rest, as far as possible, only necessary work, such as ‘stables,’ being done, and church parade is held at 10.30, the service lasting about half an hour. There are almost daily calls for fatigue parties, a few men being taken from each section to bring up stores or forage from the hold, and this is pretty hot and dirty work. At 9 o’clock every night the ‘last post’ sounds, and half an hour later ‘lights out.’ After that ‘there is naught but the sound of the lone sentry’s tread’ or the squeal of an angry horse to disturb the peaceful slumbers of snoring troopers on board the ‘Ujina,’ until the notes of reveillé, shrill if not always clear, wake them at dawn to another day of similar routine.


Footnote 2:

Hindustani for ‘off his head.’



Though something went wrong with the ‘Ujina’s’ engines, which had to be stopped twice for repairs in the Bay of Bengal, she covered the remaining fifteen hundred leagues or so in very good time, and, passing Madagascar during the misty night of March 18, was within sight of the South African coast by daybreak of the 24th, and at midday she anchored off Durban, being unable to get nearer that port than the troubled roadstead two miles from shore. Thus her time from the Hugli to Port Natal was just three weeks, and those on board had the satisfaction of hearing that the ‘Lindula,’ with A Company, must be still at sea, having left Durban for Cape Town only three days before the ‘Ujina’s’ arrival. The man who brought that good news had evidently acquired a Kaffir or Oriental habit of saying the things that are pleasant whether true or not. In sober fact, the ‘Lindula’ had gone a week earlier, and was by that time landing her troops at Cape Town. As nobody was allowed to land, Lumsden’s Horse did not get the exciting experience of being lowered in a cage from the troopship’s gangway to a tug plunging and tossing and wriggling among the ‘rollers’ twenty feet below. But they had an opportunity of seeing how the thing was done when a Transport officer came on board that way with an order for the troops under Major Showers’s command to disembark at East London. This officer was accompanied by three of the Natal Carbineers, who had been with Sir Redvers Buller’s force to the relief of Ladysmith, and whose thrilling tales of adventure were as welcome as a newly-discovered series of Arabian Nights’ stories might have been to men who had heard no news for twenty-one days. The general situation was not quite as those Carbineers described it, but their account of Boer resistance in Natal did not by any means convey the idea that war was nearly at an end, although rumour magnified Lord Roberts’s successes to the extent of placing him within a march or so of Kroonstadt at a time when his troops were still hung up at Bloemfontein waiting for food and transport. As B Company had heard of Cronjé’s surrender and the relief of Ladysmith before leaving Calcutta, it would hardly have surprised them to learn that the Union Jack was floating over Pretoria. To them the mere occupation of Bloemfontein seemed a comparatively small matter, so they at once turned and began to rend with keen sarcasm the croakers who had predicted that B Company at least would be too late for anything. Too late! Why, their orders were to disembark at East London, and did not that mean an immediate start for the front? One sanguine trooper in the gladness of his heart wrote, ‘We go on shore at 11.30 to-day, leaving for Bloemfontein by train about the same hour to-night, and expect to arrive in forty-eight hours. We shall probably train to Bethulie and march from there to Bloemfontein, about 120 miles.’ His faith in the marching powers of Lumsden’s Horse must have been great indeed if he thought they could trek 120 miles across unknown veldt after travelling from East London to Bethulie by rail, and all in the space of forty-eight hours. There is something very fascinating about that picture of troopers so eager to be at the taking of Kroonstadt (‘which, it would seem, will be a big affair’) that they would perform superhuman feats to be there in time. No admirer of Lumsden’s Horse would venture to suggest that a march of forty leagues in less than two days was beyond the compass of their powers, but the man must be brimful of hope who could believe that there would be any time left for marching, or any inclination to march left in the men, after a South African railway, working under war pressure, had done with them. But in fact there was no such need for haste. B Company was quite in time for the ‘big affair’ at Kroonstadt, though it took more than twenty times forty-eight hours in the getting there. Colonel Lumsden, going ahead with A Company to land in Cape Town, had still more reason for entertaining sanguine views, though in his case they were modified by a fuller knowledge of events. When in sight of Table Mountain he added a postscript to his letter: ‘Off Cape. Just got orders. May be in for Pretoria. Hope so.’ The two companies, however, were not fortunate enough to come together under one command until nearly a month later. Their fortunes as separated units must therefore be dealt with in somewhat disjointed form still. How A Company fared after casting anchor off Durban may be told in the words of a special correspondent pf the ‘Englishman’ who had joined the corps for active service:

As we came in sight of Durban everybody was expecting that some official would dash on board directly he knew it was Lumsden’s Horse, to order us off down the coast, and that in a minute we should be steaming hard for our destination. But it happened otherwise. When fairly close in we signalled to the Coastguard station what ship we were and what she contained. Then a deep silence settled over things. Lots of shipping lay at anchor there, and every ship except ours had a steam launch calling upon it. But we, waiting with beating hearts, had no one to pay us a visit until a great puffing, rolling, important-looking tug bore alongside, churned up the blue water into white foam, dropped a tiny boat, and in a jiffy a blue-suited, gold-braided gentleman was on board and the tug had gone away over the waters. So we thought that meant orders to bring us ashore. But, alas! it was only a pilot come aboard to have a buck with the captain. Then, while we waited and waited, our signalling class set to work, and an energetic waving of arms and little flags elicited the reply from neighbouring ships that Ladysmith had been relieved. They also confirmed the news, which we had received at the Sandheads, of Cronjé’s surrender. Close by lay H.M.S. ‘Terrible,’ from which a naval contingent had been sent with her big guns to reinforce Sir Redvers Buller on the Tugela, and our first sight of one of the consequences of war was a launch full of wounded Bluejackets returning to their ship after relieving Ladysmith. While we lay peacefully swinging at anchor a great white ship flying the Stars and Stripes and Union Jack steamed slowly out of the harbour, and swung off to the left. As she passed a big transport the troops on board broke into ringing cheers, and when she neared us those with glasses read her name. It was the ‘Maine’ full of wounded soldiers from Sir George White’s gallant garrison. She went right round the harbour, visiting all the ships with troops. Last of all she came to us, and as she passed by, and we could see the white-aproned nurses and the bandaged figures with pale faces we gave them three times three, and still cheered again for the plucky ladies who had come all the way from America to care for our wounded. The poor chaps aboard did their best to answer our cheers, and then the ‘Maine’ steamed away down the coast on her way home to England.

However, the long-delayed _hookum_[3] came at last, and a great shout broke forth when it was announced that we were ordered to proceed to Cape Town. We sat down to dinner at 7.30, and as we toasted Ould Oireland because ’twas St. Patrick’s Day, the ‘Lindula’s’ anchor heaved, and the screw that for twenty days had toiled without ceasing began its unremitting task again. When morning broke we had steamed well down the coast, passing the lights of East London in the night. Ten miles away was the seashore, bare, and uninteresting, but still the Africa that we had come some six thousand miles to argue about with the redoubtable Boers. And now we had to reckon with a foe that used no weapons nor fought with hands. This was Mother Ocean, who must have been troubled in her mind, for her breast heaved and tossed, and our good ship rolled until—well, better change the subject. The coast slipped by, and on the forenoon of the 20th we sighted afar off the flat top of Table Mountain. Steaming across the wide mouth of Simon’s Bay we saw hundreds of sharks—brown brutes that scooted away, showing a black fin, as the steamer ploughed her way through the waves. Then rounding the Point we sailed into Table Bay, and dropped anchor with a grand feeling of satisfaction that the voyage had ended. Journeying by sea is pleasant enough when you do it first class by P. and O., but when you go no class at all, and sleep on the deck, and get turned out before 5, and spend a big part of the day clearing out horse stalls or cooking your own food, and enduring lots of other discomforts, it’s no catch at all; and it was with intense relief we took our place among the lines of troopships in Cape Town harbour. And what a sight it was! Ships! ships! ships! And everywhere more ships! And most of them transports. From great 10,000-ton White Star Atlantic liners down to little coasters like our own ‘Lindula.’ All around us were vessels full of troops. Every hour or two a new one came in, or one weighed her anchor and steamed slowly by into the dock to disembark her living freight. Other ships were crammed from stem to stern with cattle, sheep, horses, leaving barely enough room on deck to turn the wheel. Vessels were packed like herrings in the harbour: so thick did they lie in places you could hardly see the water for ships. There we waited, and next morning the Health Officer came on board and gave us _pratique_, which meant a clean bill of health and freedom to land. Another day of waiting for the pilot. Then after a great rush and scurry collecting kit we slowly slid into harbour. And, lo and behold! it was Cape Town—Africa at last.

Disembarking is not a pleasant pastime, especially when 150 men have had three weeks in a ship during which to lose and mix up their belongings. But the order to clear out and make room for another ship was given, and had to be obeyed in a hurry. So we said good-bye to the ‘Lindula.’ Poor thing, she had done her best for us, though in her we lost four of our chargers and two transport ponies, a big proportion of our total of 180 animals, but nothing like the number that died on some other ships. A transport lying near us with Imperial Yeomanry lost 39 out of 450 in a three weeks’ voyage—nearly all from pneumonia.

Our orders were to proceed to Maitland Camp, some four miles to the north of Cape Town, and thither we marched, leading the horses, which of course were hardly in a fit state to ride. However, the walk seemed to do them good, and after a week in camp, with good feeding and gentle exercise, they picked up condition rapidly.

The men have little that is good to say of Maitland Camp. It is a place stale, flat, unprofitable, and altogether accursed. When we arrived the wind blew a hurricane, and setting up the tents was a task to try a Stoic. Once they were up the sand crept in at every crevice and lay thickly on everything, especially butter and food of every sort. Men went to sleep, or tried to, with the feeling that the bit of the earth on which they lay must surely be swept into the next world ere morning broke. But day dawned and we were still in Maitland Camp, with the rain pouring in torrents and turning the sand and earth into mud puddings, which clogged and wetted and dirtied every scrap that belonged to us. However, the third day recompensed us, for the sun shone hot and bright, and a gentle breeze wafted delicious scents from the woods of eucalyptus and fir trees all around. Boys came to us with delicious grapes, great bunches weighing one to two pounds apiece, each grape being as large as a pigeon’s egg and as full of juice and flavour as fruit can be.

Of Cape Town we saw very little, but liked that little much; only the price of things is terrible, and it seems much more serious parting with shillings than with rupees. Lumsden’s Horse had many eyes for the beautiful, and while declining to play the part of Paris in deciding on rival charms, they wax eloquent when their theme is the sex which, as one gallant trooper says, has done much to make this world the habitable place it is. In Cape Town the ladies are charming to look at. They dress just as they do at home in summer, and their cheeks are rosy, and they are altogether delightful to look upon. But still it matters little whether the cheeks be pale or rosy, we are all ready to back our ladies of India against any in the wide world for kindness and every other feminine attribute.

Having inspected our transport, the Army Service Corps officers at Cape Town approved of our carts, and reported favourably on them to Lord Roberts; but at the same time stated that they considered a team of two ponies inadequate to draw the load we had designed through sandy tracts, and suggested two leaders to each cart, an increase of 200 lb. in the load, and a decrease in the number of carts. The Chief of the Staff having approved of this suggestion, we handed over to the military authorities twenty ponies (not our best) and ten carts, and harness complete, receiving in exchange seventy-six mules, with harness, and twelve Cape boys to assist as drivers, so that when B Company arrives our united transport establishment will consist of thirty-six carts and two water-carts, with two mules as wheelers and two ponies as leaders to each cart, and there is little doubt that we are as well provided with transport as any troops in the field—indeed, much better than most. The Remount Department in Cape Town were very good to us, and replaced not only our losses on the voyage, but a number of horses which on landing appeared unfit for service, giving us in all twenty-four chargers. The animals cast in Cape Town were old and unlikely to get into condition for a long time, if ever they did so. Our Calcutta purchases and horses brought by troopers themselves are nearly all doing well. In place of those we had lost on the voyage—six or seven altogether—Government gave us thirteen fine Australian cobs, which were told off as remounts for the Ceylon Contingent. But, the latter having been mounted in the meantime by the military authorities and sent to the front, their horses were very properly handed over to us. In Cape Town we found it necessary to make several purchases to supplement equipment and replace losses. These consisted of grass nets and picketing pegs for the horses, and _vel-schoen_ and canvas water-bags for the men; besides stores amounting in all to about 150_l._ worth.

Unfortunately, we have to leave four men in hospital. Sergeant Lee Stewart, whose illness was mentioned in the last letter, is much better, but greatly debilitated from the trying time he has had. He has hopes of joining us later. Another bad case is that of K. Boileau, from Behar, who was attacked with pneumonia and was very ill indeed at one time. However, we have good reports of him, and hope to hear in a few days that he is all right again. Shaw, of the Assam Contingent, and Doyle, of the Transport, are also in hospital from trifling ailments, and they ought soon to be able to join us. Many of the men are suffering from cuts and sores on hands and feet, which do not seem to heal up as fast as they ought. Hickley, who was pretty bad when the last letter went, is now all right again, but Daubney has still to be careful of his broken collar-bone. When we arrived at Cape Town we at once heard we were to proceed to Bloemfontein, to join Lord Roberts, as speedily as possible. But the movement of large bodies of troops with supplies caused a block on the railway, and we were delayed eight days. The wait, however, did the horses good, and they picked up hand over fist at Maitland Camp.

All these details, when looked at in the long perspective where more recent events show up sharply and perhaps a little out of focus, may seem insignificant as objects seen through the wrong end of a telescope. At the time of occurrence, however, they had an importance that impressed itself on the minds of men to whom nearly every incident of active service was then a novelty. And the historian’s duty in such a case is rather to reproduce impressions than to preserve an exact proportion. Moreover, some incidents that may appear trivial by comparison with great episodes, or with decisive actions on which the fate of an army hung, were potent in shaping the fortunes of Lumsden’s Horse as one small unit of a mighty whole, and in this respect, if for no other reason, they are worthy to be chronicled. It is the story of Voltaire’s miller and the King of Prussia. What a division is to the general in chief of an army corps a company is to the regimental commander, and, for Lumsden’s Horse, the smallest adventures of their own comrades had an interest which the civilian reader may perhaps begin to share when he comes to know more of them.

At Cape Town Colonel Lumsden got the first news of B Company since leaving Calcutta. They had been ordered to East London to disembark there, and entrain at once for Bethulie, ‘right in the Orange Free State,’ as Colonel Lumsden remarked, adding, ‘So they bade fair to get there before us, despite our week’s start. But our latest news of them is that they have stopped at Queen’s Town, and we know no more of them except that they had a most successful voyage.’

A corporal of the Surma Valley Light Horse, however, supplies the necessary information. He tells how he went with an ambulance fatigue party, to which, among others, Dr. Woollright had been told off as an orderly, in charge of Trooper Seymour Sladden, who was very bad and had to be taken on shore at East London before the company knew its probable destination. From a little jetty that juts out from the wooded banks of the Buffalo River they drove in an ambulance with the sick man up those steep winding roads past the luxuriant Queen’s Park, with its odorous gum-tree groves, to the hill top. There they carried Sladden ‘into a nice clean hospital and left him in charge of kindly nurses, where everything looked very comfortable.’ Then, somehow, they managed to miss their officer and made inquiries for him in vain at Deel’s Hotel, with the result that when the corporal and his comrades reached the landing-stage they found to their ‘extreme joy the crew gone and no way of getting off to the ship, so returned to the hotel and had dinner. Afterwards very sleepy and went straight to bed, and slept like a hog. First time in bed for many weeks, and found it comfortable indeed.’ Other non-commissioned officers and troopers of B Company carry on the narrative in notes that diverge frequently and wander off to alien topics, so that for the sake of coherence they must be dovetailed together here in proper order, each chronicler in turn taking up the story. When those troopers who had not begun to realise the enormity of breaking leave returned to their ship early in the morning of March 27, they met with quite an ovation, which does not seem to have been disinterested, seeing that they were supposed to have brought off with them fruit, cigarettes, and other delicacies much in request. What they had would not have gone far to satisfy the cravings of a whole company for some change from bare rations. News that orders had come for Lumsden’s Horse to disembark, however, put everybody in high spirits at the prospect of being allowed to go on shore with freedom to forage for himself. But they reckoned without their host—the military commander—whose instructions brooked no delay. Kits had to be packed in a hurry while the ‘Ujina’ was being towed on a flowing tide across the troubled bar into port, where she moored alongside the railway wharf. Horses were then got on shore, but only to exchange cramped stalls for cattle-trucks, where they had still less room for movement. At this task the troopers toiled and sweated all through the fiercest heat of a summer noon, learning another lesson and not liking it much. Unaccustomed to such work, many got their toes trodden on by horses rushing down the steep gangway or narrowly escaped more serious injury before every fretful animal could be coaxed or lifted into the crowded trucks. Then there were saddles, kits, heavy baggage, and ammunition to be landed, and so without leisure for a single meal the troopers worked on far into the night. It was nearly 11 o’clock before the last section took its place in the train. ‘Something attempted, something done, had earned a night’s repose’; but there was little chance of getting that, packed together as they were nine or ten in a carriage. Time must have softened the impressions of these discomforts on the mind of one trooper, who, some days later, wrote:

We left East London on March 28 by rail _en route_ for Bethulie, where it was intended we should quit the railway, mount our horses, and trek to Bloemfontein.

East London turned out in force to see us off. Little boys and girls (some of the latter not so very little, after all) were very keen to get hold of our shoulder badges as mementoes, and, needless to say, the susceptible ones of our corps were unable to resist the entreaties of the fair ones, and daylight showed a vacant place on many a shoulder-strap. This badge-collecting seems to be a great hobby out here just now; one boy showed me a belt simply covered with badges, which he had secured from the men of the different regiments that had passed through. We travelled in second- and third-class carriages, ten men in each, but it being quite cool we were not uncomfortable.

Another correspondent, whose experiences were evidently not so pleasant, takes a less roseate view. He says hard words about the South African war method of standing men, some forty-five or so in a cattle-truck, encumbered with heavy coats, rifles, and other baggage—a leaky roof, and no sides.

This may be economical, as the Major said, but on a wet blustry night, when buckets of rain, mixed with soot from the engine, are falling, it is not a style of travelling that conduces to comfort. Then there is still another African style—namely, ten men with rifles, &c., in a third-class carriage meant to hold eight only. Both of these methods we sampled on our way up to Bloemfontein. And right glad I was when we had done with it, and took to the saddle. Some, however, confessed to having slept very well that first night in such strange circumstances, tired out as they were by hours of previous toil, though they woke next morning very cold, with nothing to eat but one loaf, which ten men divided between them.

They had eyes for the picturesque as well as for the agricultural possibilities of a country where Nature does much and man apparently very little, except to stroll about watching the cattle graze and the crops grow, unless he happens to be a Kaffir, which makes all the difference. Chiefly, however, Lumsden’s Horse must have been struck by the barren, rocky kopjes that seemed to spring suddenly in the midst of fertility and rise range behind range, stretching away to the mountains, which looked so near that it was impossible for imagination to measure the breadth of intervening plains. As one of them wrote, acquaintance with this country for the first time ‘made us realise the fearful odds that Buller had to tackle’; and no doubt many other troopers went on fighting fanciful battles against a wily enemy who, driven from one position, would gallop off to occupy another kopje still more formidable, and so prolong that imaginary fight, while the train, like a British column, wound its slow way through tortuous defiles. Lumsden’s Horse, however, had eyes for other things also, as a candid chronicler admits in his simple narrative, which may now be allowed to run its uninterrupted course:

At several stations on our way there was the usual crowd of ‘loyal’ ladies of mature age, and the still larger crowd of schoolgirls. The people seemed very glad to see us. There was a lot of cheering and waving of handkerchiefs and pleasant greetings at every station. They gave us cigarettes and cheroots, and some men were seen to be sporting bows of red, white, and blue when we left—little attentions from some fair hands in return perhaps for Lumsden’s badges, of which many shoulder-straps were by that time bereft.

Early next morning saw us at Cathcart, where we stopped about two hours, and took the opportunity to water and feed our horses. There is a nice little inn here, and we went down in a body and indulged in delicious bread, butter, and milk. Oh, such a contrast to the same articles of diet in India! The weather at this time of the year is nearly perfect, the air being fine, dry, and invigorating; to the eye wearied by the flatness of the plains of India the undulating country, small hills and green valleys between, is very refreshing; but what strikes one, more especially in the Free State, which we marched through later, is the desolateness of the country, miles and miles of veldt dotted here and there with small houses. Cattle-farming seems to be the principal thing they go in for here, but the farmers say that, what with rinderpest and drought, it is very disheartening work. The cattle are very fine, and strike us especially coming from India, where one sees such miserable specimens. About midday we arrived at Queen’s Town, and were very much disgusted to hear that Lord Roberts had wired down that we were to detrain and go into camp, as he needed all the horse-waggons and cattle-trucks for carrying remounts (several thousands of which were collected at Queen’s Town) to troops at the front. The camp is situated about two miles from the railway station, but they have run a siding into it, so that the carriages containing ourselves and our horses were simply detached from the rest of the train and we were run into the camp. We did not take long in detraining and picketing our horses; the poor brutes were simply delighted to get on firm ground again, and when let loose indulged in all sorts of antics—rolling on the grass, kicking up their heels, and larking like colts, to show appreciation of their freedom. As our tents had not arrived yet, we were obliged to sleep out in the open; but, knowing this would be a matter of course sooner or later, we made no bones about it. Unfortunately it came on to rain at night, and this made things generally uncomfortable. The mufflers so kindly knitted for us by the ladies of Calcutta proved simply invaluable; with these, Balaclava caps, and greatcoats on, we made ourselves perfectly comfortable. There were about twelve men of the Army Service Corps stationed here, and, with the proverbial hospitality of Tommy Atkins, they very kindly supplied us with hot cocoa and coffee, and offered to put up as many as possible of us in their tents. We found several of the Queensland Mounted Volunteers encamped here, also a part of the Militia Battalion of the Cheshires awaiting marching orders like ourselves. Next day our tents arrived, and we were soon quite settled down, ten men in a tent—a bit of a squash, but all right when one gets accustomed to it.

There they may be left for a time chuckling over the good story of a Militia regiment whose officers complained to Major Showers that they could not stand the language of which Lumsden’s Horse made such free and frequent use at ‘stables’ and other daily duties. Of course that language was only the mildest of mild Hindustani put into terms of endearment with certain genealogical references that sounded mysterious to the uninitiated.


Footnote 3:

Hindustani for ‘order.’



At Maitland Camp and Queen’s Town the two companies of Lumsden’s Horse would probably have remained many weary weeks, eating their hearts out with the fever of impatience, but for circumstances which must necessarily be explained at some length in order to give a clear view of the general situation. With events leading up to that situation Lumsden’s Horse had nothing to do, but incidentally the crisis had a great deal to do with them as influencing their movements immediately afterwards. It will be remembered that Lord Roberts had found it necessary to halt at Bloemfontein a fortnight earlier, his victorious advance beyond that point being checked by the loss of a very valuable convoy which had fallen into the hands of the Boers at Waterval Drift. With characteristic cheerfulness he made light of a mishap that would have been regarded by many generals as almost disastrous in the circumstances, seeing that the convoy contained supplies without which no forward movement of troops beyond Bloemfontein would be possible pending the repair of railways and the opening up of communications with a secure base. In his despatches Lord Roberts makes but a passing reference to the Waterval Drift affair, as if it were of comparatively little importance, yet he knew perfectly well that its consequences would be a temporary paralysis of his whole force and heart-breaking delay at a time when energetic action might have brought the campaign to a decisive issue.

The relief of Ladysmith, far from improving matters in this respect, had simply set free a number of Boer commandos, whose leaders, baulked in their ambitious schemes for the conquest of Natal, were burning with desire to achieve successes in the Orange Free State. From their point of view it was still possible to retrieve the disaster of Paardeberg, and they knew that a severe blow struck at the British lines of communication would bring them many adherents from Cape Colony who were only waiting for such an opportunity. It would also inevitably prolong the campaign by cutting off sources of supply, on which Lord Roberts was dependent; and it might even turn the scale in their favour by bringing about European intervention. To that hope they clung always, as their State documents and correspondence prove abundantly. Therefore it was of the first importance that they should assume the offensive before Lord Roberts could strengthen his lines of communication and bring up ample supplies to form an advanced base at Bloemfontein. If circumstances had permitted him to push on at once, the moral effect on enemies already disorganised and disheartened would have been enormous. As it was, his inaction revived the drooping Spirits of Boers who were previously on the point of accepting defeat as inevitable. They saw the inherent weakness of a force that could not move far in any direction until the means of feeding itself had been secured, and their thoughts turned at once to the possibility of frustrating that object by vigorous raids at every vulnerable point. In such an emergency the presence of men like Louis Botha and Christian De Wet was worth more than a thousand rifles. They had the brain to plan and the intrepidity to attempt any enterprise that might bring them an advantage by embarrassing their adversaries, and every day’s delay on our side was an opportunity given to them for more complete concentration. This last word must not be misunderstood. When applied to Boer strategy or tactics it does not necessarily mean,a gathering of units into one great force, but rather a concentration of efforts on one object which they often secure while seeming to aim at something entirely different by a distribution of their commandos in many directions. Necessarily such distracting operations can never bring about decisive results, but they served the Boer purpose admirably then, and De Wet got the opportunity he wanted to prove himself an ideal leader for work of that kind.

From some points of view this may be regarded as the most important phase of the whole campaign; it taught the Boers how to harass our forces with the greatest effect while exposing themselves to comparatively little danger. First of all, however, they set themselves to the task of showing that there was life and power for mischief in them yet, their object evidently being to effect surprises that might create panic among our troops and so render raids less difficult of accomplishment. In the development of that idea we recognise the peculiar craft of Christian De Wet, who at that time had less respect for the courage of ‘rooineks’ than he began to entertain soon afterwards. Sanna’s Post was a lesson to him not less than to us. With the exaggeration which characterised a great deal that was written in those days some critics at home described this affair as a ‘black disaster,’ thereby meaning apparently that it was something rather disgraceful and a stain on our military reputation. A disaster it was in the literal sense, for the stars in their courses seemed to be turned against us; but they were certainly not blotted out, and they never shone on soldiers whose deeds could better bear the light. The story of Sanna’s Post or Koorn Spruit is worth telling again, not only because it marks emphatically the revival of Boer hopes, after Ladysmith and Paardeberg and Kimberley had done much to shatter their self-confidence, but because it furnishes a splendid example of British valour, defiant in the moment of defeat, and all the brighter by contrast with the gloom through which it shines. In details the following version of what happened may not be more accurate than others, and it lacks the completeness that subsequent access to official documents might have given; but at least it has the merit of having been written at the time, and of showing what was the impression conveyed to the minds of people who were in the midst of those stirring events and could gauge their significance without exaggeration. This description by the Editor, who, as War Correspondent of ‘The Daily News,’ was then at Bloemfontein, may be given almost in its original form.

We knew that Colonel Pilcher, in attacking Ladybrand, had roused a hornet’s nest, and that Brigadier-General Broadwood, in command of a small mixed column, was retiring along that road from Thaba ’Nchu, hard pressed by Boers, whom he could only keep at a distance by the skilful disposition of his forces in successive rearguard actions. His movements were hampered by the slow progress of a convoy. He was falling back on a post at Sauna’s near the waterworks from which Bloemfontein draws its main supply, and expected to be there some time during the night of Friday. He had made application for reinforcements when the Boers, gathering strength as they came, began to overlap him on each flank, in spite of anything that his men could do to check every move of that kind. Thereupon Lord Roberts sent General Colvile’s Division, with artillery, and Colonel Martyr’s brigade of Mounted Infantry and Irregular Horse eastward by a forced march. They left Bloemfontein hours before daybreak on Friday, but even then it was too late. Colonel Martyr, pushing on as fast as the condition of over-worked horses would permit, only reached Boesman’s (or Bushman’s) Kop with his leading troops about 7 o’clock. There was still six miles of veldt between him and the scene of disaster. Before he could cross that in force sufficient to be of any use, the worst had happened, and nothing remained for him but to cover the retreat of detachments that had already got through the Boer lines before going to help those who were still beset.

What were the causes leading to disaster we did not know then—we do not know with absolute certainty even now. No special correspondents were with General Broadwood’s column when sudden misfortune fell upon it. All details had to be gathered at second hand, and many of the combatants who were best qualified to give an impartial account of the trap in which our troops were caught were either dead or prisoners in the hands of the enemy. In the excitement following that swift surprise those who had to fight hard for their lives could not see much on either side of their immediate front. They were mainly concerned with the necessity for shooting quick and straight. It is therefore not surprising that stories of the fight, as seen from many different points of view, should vary so that it becomes a little difficult to follow the exact sequence of events.

Two or three points, however, seem tolerably clear. When Brigadier-General Broadwood halted his troops to bivouac at 4 o’clock on Saturday morning, March 31, after crossing the Modder River, they were worn out by a long night march that had entailed incessant watchfulness. He was then in touch with the small force of Mounted Infantry holding the waterworks, and, naturally supposing that their commander had taken all precautions to safeguard the drift across Koorn Spruit, he did not call upon his weary column to furnish additional patrols for duty in that direction, but formed a chain of outposts along ridges in rear towards the known enemy, who had been harassing his march all the way from Thaba ’Nchu.

It is known that the officer who was in command at Sanna’s Post did take more than ordinary precautions before dawn that morning by sending a company of Mounted Infantry westward across the drift near Pretorius’s Farm, and, if a Boer prisoner may be trusted, that very precaution contributed to the disaster. According to his story, a party of three hundred Boers, who had been cut off from the main Brandfort body by General French’s Cavalry, on Thursday, were making their way across country to join Grobelaar’s (or, rather, as it had then become, De Wet’s) command on the Ladybrand side. Hearing Koorn Spruit, this party saw the Mounted Infantry patrol, and, the first principle of Boers in warfare being to hide themselves from the enemy, they at once took shelter between the high banks of a water-course which is, in places, nearly as dry as a khor in the Soudan. Then they began to plan an ambush, with the object of cutting off that isolated Mounted Infantry company. Until that moment they had not thought of laying a trap for the convoy, about which, indeed, they knew nothing. Such is the story told by a Boer prisoner. If true, it proves that the capture of Broadwood’s convoy was by a force entirely independent of the one against which he had been fighting his rearguard actions, and therefore unpremeditated, or, at any rate, not the calculated result of skilful tactics.

At first it was hastily assumed that one of the ablest scouts in the British Army had been out-manœuvred, and allowed himself to be surrounded by Boers. That the officer who gained distinction for boldness, dash, and caution when reconnoitring successive Dervish positions in the Soudan, should allow himself to be caught in a trap by Boer farmers was almost inconceivable. It now seems as if the enemy had merely stumbled on an opportunity, of which they took advantage, not quite realising what it meant.

Against this, however, was the evidence of a civilian refugee who declared that there were many more than three hundred Boers concealed in Koorn Spruit, and believed that secret information must have been given to them of the fact that no force had been posted to guard the drift by which Broadwood’s column must cross. On Pretorius’s Farm he met a burgher who had given up his arms, and received a pass from our military authorities permitting him to return to his home and settle down in peace, secure from all fear of molestation at the hands of British troops. This disarmed burgher, who had been fighting against us up to the occupation of Bloemfontein by Lord Roberts, showed such an accurate knowledge of the Boer movements that he must have watched them very closely. He could tell the exact position from which every gun would open fire on the English, column before it came into action. This knowledge he imparted without reserve, and yet, apparently, he had no apprehensions of ill-treatment from his former comrades as the penalty for deserting them. The incident, whatever interpretation may be put upon it, is curious, and will, perhaps, help to explain many things that happened when submissions were accepted and passes granted with too lavish leniency.

It is more than probable that a Boer attack on the waterworks in order to destroy the pumping machinery there was part of a plan conceived directly after the occupation of Bloemfontein by our troops, but it could not be carried out before the column holding Thaba ’Nchu had been forced to retire. The artillery positions may therefore have been selected some time previously for the purpose of shelling out any force that might make a stand at the waterworks, and it is all consistent with the Boer prisoner’s statement that no deliberate attempt was made by General Broadwood’s pursuers to surround him until they found that his convoy had been accidentally headed off and partly destroyed at the drift across Koorn Spruit by a comparatively small body lying in ambush there for another purpose. Such a combination of accidents seems improbable, but certainly not more so than the assumption that a Boer commander, calculating all the chances to a nicety, had ventured to detach such a small force and send it round by a wide _détour_ across some miles of open plain with the object of intercepting, by an ambush, a column that had been able to hold its own against odds for some time. If so, he gave more hostages to fortune than the Boers have risked elsewhere.

Whatever may be the truth in this respect, it is clear that neither the officer in charge of communications, whose Mounted Infantry held Sanna’s Post, nor Brigadier-General Broadwood, had reason to suspect the presence of any hostile force in that immediate neighbourhood.

When the retiring column got touch of its friends near the waterworks, bivouac was immediately formed, and tired men no sooner lay down, with saddles for pillows, and rifles by their sides, than they were sound asleep, leaving the duty of watchfulness to their rearguard, which, in outpost line, occupied a range of rough hills southward, overlooking the road by which they had retired from Thaba ’Nchu. It was then 4 o’clock. Little time could be given to rest, for the column had to start again in two hours. Just before 6 o’clock the convoy of a hundred waggons with mule-teams began to move off towards Koorn Spruit Drift. Such was the false sense of security that no armed body went ahead. Some dismounted men, whose horses had been shot or otherwise used up, marched as a baggage-guard, but most of them had stowed their rifles on the waggons while helping to get the column in marching order. Nothing warned them that danger was near as they approached the drift. Not a movement was to be seen across the broad veldt but dark shadows of hills creeping backwards as the sun rose.

At that moment, from a distant hill in rear, overtopping the outpost ridge, darted the flash of a Boer gun, then another and another from different positions, followed by the shriek of shells and the crash of bursting charges. Every shot, well aimed, struck with a dull thud, and threw up columns of earth among or near the masses of men who were saddling up or inspanning teams for the march, but did no damage beyond frightening mules and increasing the confusion, where Cape boys, in their haste to obey a peremptory order, got harness entangled and themselves bewildered. Our Horse Artillery, being in a hollow, and masked by the movement of troops about them, did not reply, but limbered up and followed the transport waggons, which by that time had begun to cross the drift. Nearly half of them had cleared it, when from behind steep banks in the winding spruit on each side Boers galloped forward in dense troops, and, halting with rifles at the present, summoned everybody to surrender.

Some men of the baggage guard got to their arms, and, lying between waggon wheels, opened fire, but they were few, and the Boers many. The others, unarmed, could do nothing but obey the stern mandate: ‘Hold up your hands; come this way and give us your bandoliers.’

Then U Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery, following close upon the waggons, was surrounded before a gun could be wheeled about for ‘Action front,’ and the drivers were ordered to dismount and outspan. Gunners, however, do not yield without a struggle, even when their eyes look into the barrel of an enemy’s levelled rifle. Hands were on revolvers in an instant, but before these could be drawn shooting had begun, and many a gallant fellow fell. Horses, too, were shot down, or, being wounded, plunged madly over the traces. One team, startled by the din about it, stampeded, and galloped off with gun and limber, but no drivers. Thus one gun was saved. The other five fell into Boer hands, their gunners being either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners.

Sergeant-Major Martin escaped and ran back to warn Major Hornby, who, in command of Q Battery, was then scarcely a hundred yards from the scene of disaster. That officer gave the order to unlimber and come into action, but could not open fire while our men and the enemy were mixed up together among baggage-waggons, and at the same time his own gunners were being shot down. A small body of Remington’s Scouts made one plucky effort to get near the captured battery, but suffered heavily. Then two troops of Roberts’s Horse, acting as escort for the convoy, dashed forward to cross the spruit and take the Boers in flank, but they were confronted by enemies from another ambush, who, at a distance of only a few yards, had them covered and called upon them to surrender. Their only answer was ‘Fours about—gallop’; but it came too late, and before they could get out of range nearly every saddle was emptied. Only five men got away, and of these four were wounded. Among the missing, nine officers had either been killed or fallen into the enemy’s hands.

Emboldened by success, the Boers came into the open, as they had never done before. They galloped up to groups of men who were fighting shoulder to shoulder, reined in, and shot as they sat in the saddle, reckless of the bullets that whistled about them. One body charged close up to a Maxim gun that was pouring out a deadly torrent of bullets, and silenced it for a time by shooting down the detachment, but whether they got away or fell victims to their own bravery could not be seen as the struggle surged round them. Three New Zealanders whom I met coming out of the fight told the story, and spoke with admiration of the daring displayed by many of their foes, but still more enthusiastically of the splendid courage of our Horse Artillery. Of these three, one was a fine type of the half-caste Maori, the others hardy Colonists, who looked as if they had faced death more than once—cold-eyed and calm. They had evidently taken mental note of all that passed within sight of them, while they with others held a group of buildings, keeping the enemy in check by steady shooting.

Major Hornby, finding that he could not bring his guns to bear at short range without shooting down friend as well as foe, limbered up to get clear of the close _mêlée_. In wheeling round on rough ground one gun capsized, bringing all the team down with it—horses and drivers together in a confused mass. The Boers saw their chance, and brought a withering rifle fire to bear, so that every attempt to right the gun failed. Under this fire the two wheelers of another team fell. The leaders struggled on for a time, dragging their maimed comrades, then came to a standstill, and that gun also had to be left behind. Marksmen of the Durham Light Infantry did their best to keep down the enemy’s fire, while volunteers ran out to help the distressed gunners, who, managing to escape, went off for fresh horses.

Captain Gore Anley, commanding the Essex Regiment’s Mounted Infantry, aided by two of his men, brought a wounded gunner from under that terrific fire to safety, and then went out with a brother-officer to help at the guns. Time after time the artillerymen brought up fresh teams, which were shot down before they could be hooked to the limbers. One driver had nine horses killed or wounded before he gave up the attempt as hopeless.

Meanwhile Major Hornby, with four guns of his own command, and the only one remaining of U Battery, which had been recaptured after stampeding, moved southward to a position twelve hundred yards from Koorn Spruit Drift. There he brought them into action with a cool audacity and effect that paralysed the enemy. Though he could not save the guns that had been left behind, he could cover the retirement of Cavalry and Mounted Infantry of the rearguard, who, unable longer to hold the low ridge against heavy odds, were being forced back from the waterworks, fighting stubbornly, though threatened in flank by the force that had captured our convoy. Shelled at from right and left, smitten by storms of rifle bullets, the gunners of Q Battery never budged. Coolly, as if at target practice, they loaded and aimed. The shells burst among the Boers, checking more than one attempt at a rush, and then the remnants of a shattered brigade were enabled to retire upon their supports, who had rallied for a stand at the station buildings.

All the time officers and men of the Army Medical Corps were covering themselves with honour by brilliant services rendered to stricken soldiers, who lay helpless where the ground was torn by bullets. The coolest deed of all, however, was done by an American named Todd, a trooper in Roberts’s Horse. With a comrade he had first volunteered to go out and bring in some stray horses for the disabled guns. Before they had ridden fifty yards the second trooper was shot dead, but Todd galloped on straight towards the Boers, rounded up both horses, and had nearly brought them back when one was killed. When he rejoined his detachment Todd heard an officer asking for volunteers to go out in search of their doctor, who was lying wounded in a donga. Without waiting to hear more the trooper turned his horse’s head towards the Boer lines again and galloped off. Twenty minutes later he rode back slowly, bearing a heavy burden on his arms. ‘I couldn’t see the doctor anywhere,’ he said, ‘but I have brought back the only wounded man that I found alive there.’ If ever a man earned the right to wear the grim badge of Roberts’s Horse it is Trooper Todd. Deeds of heroism, however, were not rare that day. They could not avert disaster, but they shed a light upon it that dispels the shadow of humiliation.

Our men had still hard fighting to do before they could hope to extricate themselves. Brigadier-General Broadwood’s retirement upon the station buildings was not effected without difficulty, and it is wonderful that he should have been able to keep the remnants of so many broken squadrons in hand, while they were weakened by further losses every minute, and the on-coming enemy gathered strength. Several horsemen, escaping, got away across the veldt, and then, forming groups, headed towards Boesman’s Kop, Boers pursuing for some distance. But the main body made a stand at the station buildings, and fought it out for two weary hours, so fiercely that the enemy did not dare to come to closer quarters. The company of Burmese Mounted Infantry that had been on outpost duty west of Koorn Spruit, when they found themselves cut off by Boers in ambush, made an attempt to rejoin the main body, but were in turn surrounded. Having some advantage of ground, though outnumbered, they were enabled to hold their assailants off until 7 o’clock.

Then the scene changed. Troops appeared on Boesman’s Kop. They were the advanced guard of Colonel Martyr’s Mounted Infantry brigade, which had made a forced march to relieve the beleaguered column. Their commander halted only long enough to let the main body close up, and then ‘Queenslanders to the rescue’ came sweeping across the veldt as fast as their jaded horses could move. But the Boers were at their old tactics again, and the Queensland Mounted Infantry fell into a trap skilfully laid for them. Before the enemy could reap much advantage, however, Colonel Henry was at them with all his companies of Regular Mounted Infantry, which the astute Brigadier had ordered forward when he saw the Queensland men in difficulties. The young officer, who has spent many years with Egyptian Camel Corps, chasing Dervish raiders and scouting about their strongholds, was not to be caught by a Boer ambush. He advanced upon them in a formation too flexible even for their mobility, and gradually drove them before him until the Burmese and Queensland Mounted Infantry were enabled to fight their way through the weakened cordon.

This timely diversion gave General Broadwood his opportunity, Major Hornby’s battery fell back to another position, covering the retirement, and then the column, leaving its wounded under care of our own surgeons, retired slowly to join the welcome reinforcements. They had to turn again and again to face the foe, who still hung on their heels, and all the way they were shelled by Boer guns, until a final stand was made near the waterworks, where the enemy dared not attack, though the artillery fire continued for nearly two hours longer.

Late that afternoon the Highland Brigade, under General Hector MacDonald, passed Boesman’s Kop, and advanced to get touch of the enemy, near Modder River; but except for a few shells and sputtering rifle fire, no attempt was made by the Boers to resist this advance. When General Smith-Dorrien’s brigade, and other troops of the Ninth Division, joined MacDonald, the column that had fought so well after disaster fell upon it, dispersed into scattered remnants once more, each unit making for the appointed bivouac in any want of formation best adapted to the needs of weary men who had to walk because their horses were more tired than themselves.

What a roll-call it would have been if the Brigadier had not in mercy spared them that melancholy ordeal! When the losses came to be counted, they numbered, in dead, wounded, and prisoners, nearly a third of the force that had marched out of Thaba ’Nchu forty hours earlier. Of U Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, only a mere handful remained, and Q Battery had suffered heavily too. Seven out of twelve guns had been left in the enemy’s hands, with some eighty baggage waggons full of stores. Household Cavalry, 10th Hussars, and Mounted Infantry had losses to mourn, and Roberts’s Horse the most of all. Unhappily, it was too late to hope that either guns or convoy could be recaptured. They had all been taken off during the afternoon towards Thaba ’Nchu, and Boers were in possession of the waterworks, with artillery on heights behind, covering the road.

Next day a demonstration of the whole force under General Colvile’s command was made, as if to drive every Boer from the waterworks, where mischief had been done by the destruction of pumping engines; but it ended in nothing, and then we gradually drew in our forces. The Boers assumed the offensive again, and began to threaten our line of communications at several points.

These were the conditions that made Lord Roberts anxious to secure the services of every mounted corps on which he could rely for meeting the new Boer tactics by swift counter-strokes. Most of them he had foreseen when orders were sent for Lumsden’s Horse to be supplied with all the remounts necessary for repairing losses and pushed on to the front. Sanna’s Post with all its consequences had not been counted on; but it made the need for mounted troops all the more urgent in order that pressure round about Wepener might be relieved and lines of communication cleared. That action, lamentable because of the sacrifices it entailed, but glorious in its heroic incidents, gave to Lumsden’s Horse not only an opportunity, but an example; and we may be sure that, when the news reached them at Maitland Camp and at Queen’s Town, every trooper made up his mind to be a worthy comrade of the men who had risked their lives so nobly and fought with such stubborn valour in vain attempts to save the guns at Sanna’s Post.



A week was more than enough in which to exhaust all the charms that A Company could find round about its dusty camp at Maitland. The fragrance from woodland belts of pine and eucalyptus trees soon began to pall; there was little to refresh the eye in that changeless view across unbroken flats, where a grey haze hung morning, noon, and eve, veiling the distant mountains northward; the beauty of Table Mountain, as seen from there, with kloof-fretted steeps towering up to the clouds, is not a joy for ever; and Cape Town shows its least attractive side towards Maitland, which in itself is the embodiment of suburban dreariness, having but two places of entertainment—a swimming bath and an observatory. As admission to the latter can only be gained by a special permit from the Astronomer Royal, Lumsden’s Horse had few opportunities to appreciate the wild dissipation of ascending its quaint old tower, which, indeed, most of them mistook for a dismantled windmill. And the amusements that Cape Town offers to soldiers of less than commissioned rank had few temptations for troopers of Lumsden’s Horse. Mount Nelson, with its gay crowd of fair women and maimed heroes, was to them but a vision of the life that had been. How those dainty damsels would have been shocked to see a trooper in weather-stained khaki and ammunition boots treading the glades and terraced heights of that South African Olympus! But not more shocked than a man of Lumsden’s Horse would have felt at finding himself in such a situation. Ridiculous prejudice, of course, and to be condemned by all right-thinking people in whose opinion the soldier’s uniform is a badge of honour. Yes! but like many other badges it has to be worn with a difference; and nobody knows better than those who have tried the experiment of putting it on that a private soldier’s service kit is not the garb in which one would choose to appear where fashion and beauty congregate. A man may have served through a whole campaign in the lowest ranks, obedient to every command, however humiliating or distasteful, and not have felt the yoke gall him half so sorely as it does when he first realises the social inferiority that it implies. Let us have done with cant and confess at once that a man who puts on the common soldier’s uniform for active service, whether he be Volunteer or Regular, thereby renounces all claims to the rights and privileges of a gentleman. The gay haunts of a city are not for him then, if he cherishes his self-respect, and the troopers of Lumsden’s Horse had that truth impressed upon them long before their week of rest at Cape Town came to an end. They were no more squeamish than others, and their experiences in this direction have been shared by every Yeomanry corps and Volunteer detachment, after the first burst of enthusiasm on their account exhausted itself. Cheerful endurance of these things may be counted not least among the merits of men who gave up much to serve their country in her hour of need, and to ignore them would be to misunderstand the nature of many sacrifices made by the rank-and-file of a regiment like Lumsden’s Horse. In times more propitious they would have appreciated fully all the charms that Cape Town can offer; but, as it was, the parting had no great pang for them, and A Company hailed with unalloyed delight the order for an advance northward into the land of infinite possibilities. There was to be no route marching for that detachment, the Cape Colony lines being comparatively clear of troop traffic; so that the prospect of reaching Bloemfontein by rail without serious interruption seemed almost a certainty. It was on Friday, March 30, that Colonel Lumsden received, direct from headquarters, the welcome intimation that he and his two companies were wanted at the front. Colonel Lumsden naturally felt himself very fortunate in receiving orders by which his corps was chosen for active service while Regular regiments and Yeomanry companies waited impatiently at the base in Cape Town; but Lord Roberts needed mounted troops more than infantry just then. Everybody accepted this as the first real step of the great march on which their hearts were set, and its crowning triumph at Pretoria. They were not to be out of it after all. And we may be sure that they wanted no second call when the warning came for them to get their kits packed and be ready for a start by train the next morning. This was glad news for all except four unfortunate troopers who, much to their sorrow, had to be left in hospital at Cape Town. These were James Lee-Stewart, of whose case Colonel Lumsden wrote a week or so earlier; Knyvitt Boileau, of Tyrhoot; Hubert Noel Shaw, of Palumpur; and John Canute Doyle, of the Transport Detachment. Of others, who were invalids on the voyage, Howard Hickley had quite recovered, and Clayton-Daubeny, pleading hard that he was quite fit to ride and shoot, in spite of a broken collar-bone, got permission to rejoin his section for duty. So keen were the men to be near the fighting line that they have hardly recorded their impressions of the strange country through which they passed; and but for an incidental note here and there, like the opening paragraph of the following letter, we might almost imagine that profound peace reigned throughout the country. Yet the letter was dated only three days after our troops had suffered so heavily at Sanna’s Post. Writing on the morning of April 3, a trooper whose letters were sent to the ‘Englishman’ said:—

It is wonderful to think that this very afternoon we shall be in Bloemfontein, and may see the great old man whose masterly tactics have so completely turned the tide of war.

On Friday we heard the line was clear, and this news was quickly followed by a warning to hold ourselves in readiness. Immediately on top came the order to be at the railway station the following day by 1 o’clock. A mighty packing up of kit and piling up of supplies resulted in a successful transference of our goods and chattels to the station by the appointed time, and at 6 o’clock we steamed out of Cape Town in two trains, one following the other. When we left camp ammunition was served out, fifty rounds a man, and the weight of it has not added to our comfort.

The railway journey has proved very pleasant so far. However, some slight description of how we are packed aboard may be interesting. We heard, with no little misgiving, that we were to be eight in a compartment, for we expected nothing but the ordinary straight-backed wooden carriage, and no chance of lying down at all during the three days to be occupied in journeying to the Free State capital. So it was a pleasant surprise to find first-class corridor carriages comfortably upholstered in leather, with sleeping accommodation in each compartment for four men at a time. There were one or two second-class carriages equally comfortable, with the additional advantage of an extra tier of berths, accommodating six sleepers, one on the floor and one in the passage, and the whole boiling of us slept the sleep of the just the whole night through. Rations consisted of tinned corned beef and biscuits, suspiciously like dog biscuits, but good to eat nevertheless—for people with sharks’ teeth and stomachs of brass. But nearly everywhere we stopped there were coffee-shops, where you paid sixpence for everything, and an ordinary chota hazri sort of meal ran up to about half-a-crown. As we travel up country we find everything very dear, and we wonder Government does not make some effort to arrange that the troops should be supplied with tinned goods at reasonable prices. If private contractors can get stuff up, certainly Government, which has first call on the railways, can too.

The horses—poor devils!—are packed ten, eleven, and twelve in a cattle-truck, and the way they kick at times is a caution. All along the train the trucks are broken and splintered. Oh! for the luxury of our Indian horseboxes. However, three times a day we manage to feed and water the poor brutes, and though their meals are somewhat scratch they don’t do so badly. Forage is of the best—splendid compressed hay, and English oats and bran.

De Aar was the first place of real interest we came to, and there we beheld a battered armoured train, covered with bullet marks. Then we touched at Naauwpoort, which was crowded with soldiers. The train stopped just opposite Rensburg, so we got out and had a game of football, with an empty tin for ball and broken saddles for goal-posts, right on the place where the battle of Rensburg had been fought a few months previously. From there we could see the flat-topped broken cone of Cole’s Kop rising from a rock-roughened plain like a huge step-pyramid, with sheer escarpments, up which the Naval Brigade hauled two fifteen-pounders by means of a wire rope, and struck terror into the Boers at Colesberg when those guns opened fire from that apparently inaccessible height. Afterwards came Norval’s Pont, where we prepared to cross the Orange River. Unluckily, we crossed at 1 in the morning, when very little could be seen. It is wonderful how the Sappers have repaired the bridge. We spun across in pontoons with the water swirling within two feet of us. Shortly after crossing the river we were halted and ordered to draw another fifty rounds of ammunition per man, and to post two sentries to each carriage; every man to wear his bandolier, have his rifle handy, and be ready to turn out at a moment’s notice. Firing had been heard that evening, and there was no doubt Boers were in the vicinity. Later, some thirty miles south of Bloemfontein, we heard that the troops stationed to protect the railway line had been out in the surrounding kopjes during the night, and that a Boer commando, 600 strong, had been seen travelling south. So we are bang in the thick of it now, and ere many more hours have passed we shall be within sound of the firing, for we hear fighting is going on steadily to the north of Bloemfontein. The men are in splendid spirits and health, and wild to get a turn at the enemy. Altogether we have every reason to congratulate ourselves on the comfortable and speedy journey we have made to the front.

The man who could regard De Aar—sun-scorched, arid, dust-stifled De Aar—as the first place of interest on that long railway journey, simply because an armoured train ‘covered with bullet marks’ was standing in the station, must have been in a very warlike frame of mind indeed. But perhaps the comfortable railway travelling, so conducive to the ‘sleep of the just,’ may account for much. Probably the slumberous heat of afternoon had caused him to doze before the train slowed down at Stellenbosch, which was a place of much notoriety at the time; and picturesque, too, with its great oak avenues, dating from a day when Commandant Van der Stel, the planter of them, was there with his young wife in the very foreposts of Dutch civilisation, not much more than thirty miles from Cape Town; and more picturesque still because of its quaint thatched houses as old as the oaks. Stellenbosch is a great centre of education, and, according to the guide-books, it has a home for the training of a limited number of poor whites. We know the ‘poor whites’ for whose training a home was provided at Stellenbosch about the time when A Company of Lumsden’s Horse passed that way and afterwards. They were mostly officers of high rank who had not distinguished themselves, and for whom a refuge had to be found where they could do no greater mischief than send useless remounts from that depôt to the front. So Stellenbosch grew in repute, and visits to it (without return tickets) were so frequent, that an expressive verb had to be coined for use in everyday conversation. The phrase ‘I’ll be Stellenbosched if I do,’ became quite familiar, and many a gallant officer knew to his cost what it meant. Rustication in that old Dutch settlement under leafy arcades, where, in ordinary times, ‘the stillness of the cloisters reigns,’ was not the only penalty. These, however, were things not known to recent arrivals like Lumsden’s Horse, who might have met and hobnobbed with the latest candidate for Stellenbosch and have been none the wiser. So they went on their way thinking nothing of the old Dutch town and its new notoriety, and in the darkness of night, when the new moon showed no more than a crescent thread of silver, were winding by sharp curves and steep gradients up the kloofs of Hex River Mountains towards the Great Karroo. Lumsden’s troopers saw little of the glorious landscape that is opened up at that height. Those who were not asleep had no light to see it by but the cold light of the stars, and that seemed to be swallowed up in the depths of impenetrable shadow, except where the lamps of Worcester Town, in the plains 2,500 feet below, twinkled like feeble reflections on a wine-dark sea. Then the swift dawn came, and when the sun rose they were crossing the Great Karroo, which at that time of year—the true winter of Cape Colony—wore its least attractive garb. Bare patches of sandy soil gaped between scattered clumps of blue-green scrub, where a month or so later it would be glowing with the purple and gold and scarlet flowers of lilies and asters innumerable, and the gorgeous crowns of mesembryanthemums of every conceivable shade, from white through primrose and orange to the deepest crimson. In its winter state the Great Karroo brings back to travellers of wide African experience clear memories of the Northern Soudan. In all chief physical features the two regions, so widely separated, are curiously alike. Here are pyramidal mountains with flat-topped crowns rising wall-like above the conical base exactly resembling the ‘Jebels’ on which one has looked with weary eyes, day after day, through the rippling heat of the Soudan deserts. In some parts of the Karroo these mountains close upon narrow gorges, along which the railway winds, and its sudden turns round rocky buttresses seem so familiar to one who knows the old military line above Wady Halfa that he can imagine himself travelling once more through the desolate Batn el Hagar towards Khartoum. To men for whom the rugged Karroo had no such associations with the land of mysterious fascination, there may well have been a wearisome monotony in the unvarying repetition of similar forms—the vast plains whereon no tree bigger than the _Acacia horrida_ grows, and where the houses, if any, are so widely separated that they only serve to deepen the impression of melancholy solitude; the waterless rivers, the bare brown kops. For full appreciation of the Karroo one must have breathed its invigorating air from childhood, and seen it in seasons of beauty with all the glory of its summer raiment on. De Aar Junction is no more than a huge collection of railway sheds and equally hideous houses set in the most barren plain of the Great Karroo; but Lumsden’s Horse saw it busy with many signs of military preparation for a forward movement, and so it seemed to them the very gateway of the fateful future, in the shaping of which they were to have a hand. That night they crossed the Orange River at Norval’s Pont, where Railway Pioneers, mostly skilled artificers from the Johannesburg mines, under Major Seymour—‘the greatest of mechanical engineers,’ as Colonel Girouard styled him—were hard at work, night and day, repairing the broken bridge, while baggage was being transferred by the wire trolly high overhead. Lumsden’s Horse crossed the pontoon ‘deviation’ to a train on the farther side, and when morning dawned they were journeying slowly—with many precautions against possible surprises by marauding Boers—to the goal of their hopes. Bloemfontein was reached by A Company in the afternoon of April 3, when they went into camp at Rustfontein, two miles from the town, and became part of the 8th M.I. Regiment, under the command of that very able leader, Colonel ‘Watty’ Ross, whose portrait appears on the opposite page. Of him Colonel Lumsden writes: ‘No better man could have been chosen to command a body of Irregular Horse. Capable, tactful, with a keen eye for a country, and a man hard to beat in the saddle, he was in fact an ideal leader at the game he had to play. We were under his command from the time the 8th M.I. was formed at Bloemfontein, early in April 1900, taking part in every action of that eventful march to Pretoria, and the 8th M.I. had the honour of scouting in front of headquarters throughout.’ After the memorable June 5, when the capital of the South African Republic fell into our hands, Lumsden’s Horse were placed for some time on communications at Irene and Kalfontein, but their Colonel, tiring of this inaction, applied to General Smith-Dorrien for more congenial employment. His wish was shortly afterwards gratified, and Lumsden’s Horse, with mutual regrets on both sides, were transferred to another column, thus severing their connection with the 8th M.I. and the leader whose soldierly qualities had endeared him to all ranks. Their respect for him found appropriate expression long afterwards, when every man of the corps, from Colonel Lumsden downwards, subscribed for a badge, the regimental ‘LH’ in diamonds, and this they presented to Mrs. Ross in token of their admiration for her husband as a commander and in appreciation of the considerate kindness he had shown to all ranks while they served under him. That the admiration was not all on one side may be gathered from an incident that occurred some time after Lumsden’s Horse were embodied with the 8th Mounted Infantry Corps, and Colonel Lumsden thinks justly that no better proof could be given of the able and smart class of men he had in his command than the following remark from Colonel Ross: ‘Lumsden, whenever I ask you to send me an A.D.C. or galloper, never mind sending me one of your officers; your troopers are just the class I want.’


_Photo: Dickinson_ MAJOR (LOCAL COLONEL) W.C. ROSS, C.B. ]

Some months after the severance of associations that had been so pleasant for commander and commanded, when Lumsden’s Horse had seen their last of South African fighting, Colonel Ross had the lower part of his face shattered by a bullet while attacking a Boer position at Bothaville with the gallant dash which his old comrades remember so well. In that fight De Wet’s forces were completely routed, and lost nearly all their artillery; but the victory was not achieved without heavy sacrifices on our side. Colonel Le Gallais, who commanded the Mounted Infantry, and also Captain Williams, formerly Staff-Officer of the 8th M.I. Corps under Colonel Ross, were killed, while going to the assistance of their brother-officer; and, in the same fight, Lieutenant Percy Smith, who had gained honours as a trooper of Lumsden’s Horse at Ospruit when he went out with his Colonel to bring in a helpless comrade, was wounded in the performance of a gallant action by which he won the D.S.O.

For the sake of finishing a story events have been somewhat anticipated, and B Company may resent the interpolation, at this stage, of a flattering comment that belongs properly to a later period. In the actions from which Colonel Ross formed his high opinion of Lumsden’s troopers, B Company had taken its full share. Before resuming touch with the movements of that body, however, reference must be made to another incident in which A Company had the proud distinction of representing the whole corps. The occasion was a visit on April 4 by Lord Roberts, who, after inspecting the company, called out and shook hands with Trooper Hugh Blair, whose brother, an officer of the Royal Engineers, had been badly wounded in the Candahar campaign. The Commander-in-Chief then made a brief speech to Colonel Lumsden and his troopers. Of this no shorthand note or transcription from mental tablets seems to have been made, but its meaning is probably expressed in the following letter which Lord Roberts wrote to Sir P. Playfair, C.I.E., Chairman of the Executive Committee of Lumsden’s Horse: ‘Dear Sir Patrick,—Many thanks for your letter of February 26. A few evenings ago I had great pleasure in inspecting Lumsden’s Horse immediately after their arrival here. I sent a telegram to the Viceroy to inform him that I had done so. They are a workmanlike, useful lot. I am sure they will do splendidly in whatever position they may be placed. It is most gratifying to hear the way in which the corps was raised. The sum subscribed by the public generally is the proof of the patriotism of the subscribers, especially Colonel Lumsden himself. You will have seen in the papers that we are detained here for a while until we can refit, but when this is done we shall move northward. I am confident that during our advance Lumsden’s Horse will do credit to themselves and to India. Believe me, yours very truly, (Signed) ROBERTS.’

A few days after that inspection the Commander-in-Chief sent to Colonel Lumsden a telegram he had received from the Viceroy. Lord Roberts’s secretary wrote as follows: ‘Dear Colonel Lumsden,—The Field-Marshal asks me to send you the enclosed telegram from the Viceroy, and to say that he fully agrees with the last sentence of it.—Yours sincerely, H.V. Cowan, Colonel, Military Secretary.’ Lord Curzon’s telegram said: ‘Lord Roberts, Bloemfontein.—We are delighted to hear of your kind reception of our Indian Volunteer contingent, and hope that they may have a chance of going to the front, where we are confident of their ability to distinguish themselves.—VICEROY.’

Carrying on the narrative from this point, but leaving the lighter incidents of life in Bloemfontein for other pens to chronicle, Colonel Lumsden deals briefly in his diary with the remaining period of A Company’s isolation, and brings it down to the day when the corps was to be reunited under his command. With natural gratification at the position assigned to him, he says:

General Ian Hamilton is to command a division of 10,000 Mounted Infantry, of which Colonel Ridley’s brigade forms nearly a half, consisting of four corps of about 1,200 strong each. We are embodied with the 8th Mounted Infantry Corps, consisting of Loch’s Horse, ourselves, and various companies of Mounted Infantry from Regular battalions, under the command of Colonel Ross. Both Colonels Ridley and Ross are well known in India, and we are fortunate in being under their command and in having such a dashing divisional commander as General Ian Hamilton. Our first camp in Bloemfontein proved a sickly one, water being scarce owing to the Boers having blown up the waterworks and cut off the main supply. This, no doubt, has been the cause of numerous cases of dysentery, and our camp was shifted yesterday to a healthier locality, with a more plentiful water supply. Strange to say, we have had an attack of mumps among the men, emanating, we believe, from a native servant who developed that disease on board ship. I regret to say that Captain Beresford had to be taken to hospital yesterday, suffering from an acute attack of dysentery; but a few days of careful dieting will enable him to rejoin us, I hope. B Company, owing to the congested state of the railway traffic from Cape Town to Bloemfontein, was landed at East London, to proceed thence by rail to join us. Transport, however, was found to be equally difficult by that route, and in consequence the company had to march the greater part of the way.

What meanwhile had befallen that force under the command of Major Showers may be told in the words of a trooper whose lively contributions to the ‘Indian Daily News’ do not seem to have been regarded as an infringement of a rule laid down in the mobilisation scheme by which volunteers for Lumsden’s Horse were warned that they would on no account be allowed to act as special correspondents for newspapers. This regulation, like many others, seems to have been more honoured in the breach than the observance. Taking up the broken thread where it was dropped some pages back, he writes:

At Queen’s Town we had a fairly pleasant time, except on nights when it simply rained cats and dogs and hailed as well. Most of our tents leaked badly, so we were rendered thoroughly uncomfortable. The horses and the unfortunate stable pickets (I was one, and speak from personal experience) were in a wretched plight, without shelter of any kind. When the storms were at their worst, and picketing pegs would not hold in the soft ground, we may have used words that were not endearing to horses that got loose. On April 2 we were told that the company would start on the 4th, marching to Bethulie, waggons for our horses not being available then, but that we should probably entrain a few stations further up. We were informed that all superfluous clothing, &c., would have to be packed up and returned to East London, and each man would only be allowed to take one kit bag, weight not to exceed thirty pounds. We therefore set to work, and cudgelled our brains trying to decide what to take and what to leave behind—no easy task, I can tell you. However, the die was cast at last, and we were ready for kit-bag weighing next morning. Several of the men had evidently rather vague ideas on this point, and, after filling their bags to a weight of forty or fifty pounds each, had to repack them, much to their disgust. We left next day, our destination being Baileytown, a small place about thirteen miles distant. We were all, of course, in full marching order—supplied with water-bottles, haversacks, bandoliers, rifles, and corn-bag. The first three were hung round our shoulders, the rifles in the bucket on the off side of the saddle, and the corn-bag slung to the saddle. I was not accustomed to it; the strain on the shoulders is pretty severe; and we were all glad when Baileytown drew in sight. This march gave us a very good opportunity of examining the country, and as we passed kopje after kopje it was very easy to realise how difficult a task it is to dislodge the Boers from their veritable strongholds. Arriving at Baileytown about 5 p.m., and finding no tents there, we bivouacked, and found the bare veldt no such uncomfortable bed after all. We spent the whole of the next day there, and as very good grass was plentiful on the slope of the hills the opportunity was taken of knee-haltering and grazing the horses. Resumed our march next day; did about twenty-two miles by 3 o’clock in the afternoon, when a halt was made at a place called Sterkstroom. Here, to our delight, orders came for us to be sent off at once by train. We spent a very busy afternoon unloading kits from the transport carts and reloading them into railway waggons, and entraining horses. The animals seem to be getting reconciled to this constant training and detraining, and behaved very well indeed. By 8.30 we were all ready to board the train. No more luxurious second- and third-class carriages for us poor privates now. We were packed like sardines in a box into three covered trucks, about forty or fifty men in each. It was quite dark, and no lanterns were given us, or, rather, there was an apology for a lantern in our truck, but it hardly made darkness visible; kits and men all over the place, and little, if any, room to sleep—a very weary night indeed for most of us. We arrived at Burghersdorp at 11 A.M. next day, and stayed there about two hours. All sorts of rumours were current about the close proximity of the Boers. We were informed that fighting was expected at a station north of Bethulie. At this latter place the troops had slept in the trenches all night in momentary expectation of an attack. There were said to be three or four thousand Boers hovering round in the hills adjacent to these places, having been cut off in an attempt to retreat beyond Bloemfontein. We did not reach Bethulie till 8 o’clock that evening, having to wait at various sidings for down trains, of which there were a good many. Not expecting to detrain till the following morning, we had made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances permitted for the night when orders were issued to get out and encamp close by at once. In a moment all was excitement, orders ringing out constantly, and men hurriedly getting their kit together—an almost hopeless task in the darkness.

However, it was not long before all the men, horses, and kit were out and on their way to camp. Arrived there, we picketed the animals, and by 2 A.M. had quite settled down for the night. No peace for us, however, as orders went round that we must be ready saddled by 4.30, in case our services should be required. It turned out to be a false alarm, however, so after waiting till 8 o’clock we took the horses out to exercise. Bethulie, straggling along the northern bank of Orange River, is just on the borders of the Free State. The railway bridge, an eight-span one, has been completely destroyed by Boers, and I must say they have done their work very cleanly; five out of the eight spans have been cut right through by charges of dynamite. Fortunately, however, there is a waggon bridge here also, which reinforcements, coming up in time, were enabled to save from destruction, and, lines having been placed across this, one truck at a time is taken over. This important point of communication is now very strongly guarded by regiments of Infantry on each side of the river. Nearly all of us took the opportunity of having a glorious bath in the river, and did a little amateur clothes-washing. Practice will make perfect, no doubt, but at present we don’t take very kindly to it. At 3 in the afternoon we got orders to saddle up in readiness to march as an escort to 600 transport mules for Bloemfontein. The rearguard came on with our own transport, and, as the latter only move very slowly, they marched all night and did not arrive at Spytfontein—the halting-place, nineteen miles distant—till about 3 A.M. Fortunately, there was brilliant light from the new moon; otherwise the slow progress with refractory mules would have been dreary indeed. As it was, we marched along as silently as possible, and had the feeling that we might be attacked at any moment. The Kaffir drivers, however, could not be restrained from shouting in shrillest notes and cracking their long rhinoceros-hide thongs with sounds like rifle-shots as they ran to head off wayward stragglers. All night long the red dust rose from the hoofs of those 600 mules in stifling clouds.

This is a most desolate-looking country, miles beyond miles without passing a single human habitation. Towards the end of the march, whether through sheer exhaustion or from the effects of the moonbeams (one of our sages started this theory next day), half the men went to sleep in their saddles. I was one of the somnolent ones, and my horse took me several yards in front of the main body, and I awoke with a start to hear my companions silently chuckling at the situation. The only remedy was to get off and march alongside our horses, and several of us did this. Natives told us afterwards that Boers had been hanging on our flanks all through that march, and the only thing that saved us was our water-cart, which they mistook for a gun-carriage. The Boers must have changed a good deal since then if they could be so easily deceived.

We left Spytfontein about 7 o’clock that morning and arrived at Springfontein at 3 in the afternoon. Here the orders were for us to start again next morning, escorting a Maxim battery of four guns to Bloemfontein, in addition to the 600 mules we already had under convoy. I may mention that one section of our company always acted as advance guard, throwing out scouts in front and on the flanks; the duty of these scouts being to search the kopjes on either side of the road, and communicate with the main body by hand signals should any enemy appear in sight. Starting from Springfontein early on April 10, we did a march of fifteen miles to Jagersfontein. Here Jim, having pity for my lameness, took my horse to water while I, in return, prowled round and found a little house where the womenfolk agreed to let us have tea. I was shown into the drawing-room, which looked very cosy by comparison with the dreary veldt. Ordered tea for six and went to gather my pals for the feast. After I had groomed my horse, fed him, and put his _jhool_ on, we went off to the small house. But, alas! the tea was all gone. Six other men had been there and declared that I had ordered it for them. This is the first example of ‘slimness’ recorded to the credit or otherwise of Lumsden’s Horse. At 4 o’clock next morning a party of us went out on patrol duty among the surrounding hills. We had our magazines loaded and in the dim morning light it was rather exciting work marching silently along with the chance of meeting the enemy at any moment. We stayed out till about 7 o’clock, having thoroughly examined the surrounding country from the top of a high kopje, without discovering any traces of Boers. After half an hour for breakfast, we started on the day’s march, which it was intended would be a short one of fifteen miles; but it rained so heavily about noon, and for an hour or two afterwards, that on arrival at the camping-place we found it to be a mass of liquid mud and grass, and the Major decided to keep marching on for Edenburg, about eight miles distant, in the hope that it would be drier there. But it continued to pour steadily all the afternoon, and we arrived to find our camping ground at Edenburg inches deep in water. We had no tents, so simply wrapped ourselves in our blankets and slept where we could. Many of us woke an hour or two afterwards, and found ourselves wet to the bone, and in preference to trying to sleep again we made a good fire and sat round this all night. There were a few men of one of the New Zealand Volunteer regiments encamped here also, in charge of sick horses, and they very kindly supplied us with hot cocoa—a most grateful and comforting drink on such a night. They gave us very graphic descriptions of hard times in the field. They had seen lots of fighting, being used mainly, if not entirely, as scouts. They told us how difficult it was to find the enemy, who kept hidden among rocks on the kopjes and never fired till our men were within about a hundred yards. As soon as the first shot was fired, the scouts turned and galloped for their lives, and the artillery then began to shell the kopjes. Next morning we saw several Boer prisoners, among them being a lad of about eighteen, who had killed a Major in one of our regiments while coming towards him with a flag of truce in his hand. Near the place where we had bivouacked quantities of buried Boer ammunition and guns were discovered. We continued our march at about 1 A.M., and encamped in the afternoon at a small place called Bethany. Here a night attack was expected, a Boer commando of several thousand men being reported in the vicinity. The men of the Maxim battery stood to their guns all night on a kopje close by, and about thirty of us accompanied them as an extra precaution. Cossack posts were also thrown out. Locusts, of which we had already met several swarms on our march up, literally covered the hill-sides here, and, getting down our backs and up our sleeves, took some dislodging. No alarm was given, so we passed the night in peace. We resumed our march on Good Friday, and, reaching Kaffir River in the afternoon, encamped there for the night with Regular regiments—Guards, Highlanders, and several others. Camps were fairly far apart, and after picketing horses, drawing forage, and eating our frugal meals, we had no time for exchanging visits or getting any news from the various regiments we met at our stopping-places. However, there was consolation for us when we received our first budget of home and Indian letters, one of the men from A Company, then at Bloemfontein, having been sent down with them.

Up to this point the march had been across monotonous veldt, mostly flat, treeless, and uninteresting. Here and there, where the ground held moisture, little pink flowers of a wood sorrel showed, and nearly every mile one came across some fresh variety of aster or daisy-like flower with composite crown shining brightly in the coarse grass. Occasionally the ridges were rich with clumps of heath, scarlet, yellow, and white, but not enough to relieve the general dreariness of distances across which one often looked in vain for any sign of cultivation. Ant-hills and the burrows of ant-bears were on all the veldt, and we had to wind our way among them, following no well-defined road, but only a track, the general direction of which was marked by a browner thread running across the tawny veldt. Several horses blundered into the bear-holes and brought their riders to grief, much to the general amusement. One trooper who rode ahead waving his hand and warning those who followed by frequent cries of ‘’Ware hole! ’Ware hole!’ suddenly disappeared, and we heard him groan as his horse rolled over on top of him, ‘Here’s one, and I’m into it.’ It was nearly dark then; but dead horses, mules, and dying oxen marked the track by which other convoys had gone. We felt glad that our transport ponies were not to share their fate. They had proved quite useless for drawing the heavy loads in this country, so we left them behind at Sterkstroom, sending all our baggage-carts on by train, while we marched and bivouacked with only the blankets and supplies that could be carried on our own horses. It was at Edenburg, I think, that after a wet march we got leave to go into the town, hoping it might be possible to get something better than the perpetual ‘bully beef’ and biscuits, but the only room we could find in the only decent hotel was wanted for officers. However, a little man of the Derby Militia came and showed us a small Boer ‘Winkel,’ where we got excellent tea, bread, and jam. The Derby man said he knew where he could buy some butter, which was all we wanted to make us happy. C—— gave him 2_s._ to go and get it. We finished our meal without that butter, and the Derby man didn’t return. So we went back to find everything in camp wet, muddy, and beastly. To add to our misery, a thunderstorm came on, and while we wallowed in slush there were empty houses with roofs to them not half a mile off. From Kaffir River we might easily have done the distance to Bloemfontein in one march, as it was only nineteen miles; but there was apparently no reason for hurrying, so we spent one more night in bivouac at Kaalspruit, and on Easter Sunday, in the afternoon, marched through Bloemfontein to our camp, which was three miles beyond. We only got a glimpse of the town in passing through its central square and along the main street, but, considering it was the capital of the Free State, I don’t think any of us were very much struck with it at first sight. Colonel Lumsden and A Company welcomed us very warmly. Our tents were already pitched and food prepared, so we soon settled down in our new quarters, A Company’s men receiving us as their guests and treating us most hospitably.

There the trooper’s narrative ends, and Colonel Lumsden follows with a well-deserved tribute to Major Showers and the men of B Company, saying:

They made a very plucky march up, the officers and men carrying nothing but their greatcoats and blankets, and sleeping out every night in the rain. It was too much of a trial for the ponies to pull their carts over the hilly and heavy going; and, as I said before, this method of transport had to be abandoned, and their carts and baggage railed up.

Considering the long and trying marches they had undergone, I consider both men and horses looking wonderfully fit. A certain proportion of them, however, were not in condition to resume immediate work. Therefore, to replace these and in lieu of thirteen casualties on board ship and _en route_, I have procured from Prince Francis of Teck, the remount officer, twenty-six Argentine cobs, which, although not up to the standard of our Indian mounts, are nevertheless a boon to us in the circumstances, in a situation where horseflesh is at a premium. A certain amount of kit and necessaries had been lost by both companies during our journey here; but, it being our first demand on the military authorities for such, we had no difficulty in getting our requirements satisfied.

We are now (April 18) under orders to move to-morrow for Spytfontein, five miles to the east of Karree Siding station, halting for the night at Glen. There has been heavy rain for the past four days, and it will be bad travelling, especially crossing the drift at Modder River. I have been fortunate in being able to retain the whole of our transport, which privilege has not been granted to any other unit, and shall to-morrow be complete in every respect. The men are in keen spirits, as our post is to be an advanced one and within range of the Boer outposts.

I regret to say that Captain Beresford is no better, and will, I fear, have to be invalided home.


Long streets, ill-paved and deep in mud or dust; a low stoep-shaded cottage with vines trailing about its posts here and there between long rows of featureless shops; a large market square where no farm produce is displayed; a club frequented by British officers who have little time to lounge; several churches of the primmest Dutch type, with tall steeples that cut sharply against the clear sky in lines uncompromisingly straight; some public buildings, pretentious without grace or beauty; on one side a steep hill terraced with houses of which little but the corrugated iron roofs can be seen; on the other, roads that straggle off to level outskirts, where villas painfully new stand in the midst of flowerless gardens surrounded by barbed wire. These were the first impressions of Bloemfontein gathered by Lumsden’s Horse, and few troopers had any opportunity to modify these impressions in more favourable circumstances afterwards. The camp to which A Company went originally at Rietfontein was within two miles of the town, and might have been pleasant enough if thousands of hoofs had not cut up its turf, and the ground had not been used as a dumping-place for rubbish which Boer commandos could not turn to any use. Some of them had been there before Lumsden’s Horse, and several British regiments also. So many tens of thousands of soldiers were camped round about the town that they may have interrupted the currents of salubrious air which made Bloemfontein famous in other days as a resort for invalids. There were plenty of invalids to be seen there in the early weeks of April 1900, but they did not regard it as the best type of sanatorium, and men who had to sleep in small tents on the reeking ground of Rietfontein would not willingly go there again in search of health. They had hardly begun to realise how serious was the stoppage of a fresh water supply which the Boers had cut off from the main at Modder River. Hundreds of old wells existed in the town and its outskirts, and by opening these enough water could be drawn for immediate wants. But, alas! the water had been undisturbed since Bloemfontein began to draw its supply from the distant waterworks some six or seven years earlier. What impurities had drained into the wells during all that time nobody knew until hospitals filled rapidly with patients suffering from enteric and dysentery. Rietfontein was showing symptoms of an outbreak, and so, after a week under canvas there, Lumsden’s Horse got the welcome order to strike camp and form a new one some three miles farther north, by Deel’s Farm, where a clear spruit flows over its bed of white gravel between banks that are shaded by tall eucalyptus trees and drooping sallows.

After days on duty, in which they were not allowed to be slack, troopers felt little inclination for walking the four or five miles to Bloemfontein, which did not become more cheerful as the number of troops increased, except for the traders, who were rapidly getting back all they had lost by the war and a great deal more. Officers had always the chance, whenever they could get away from camp for an hour or two, of pleasant social meetings at the Bloemfontein Club, where generals, regimental commanders, and company officers from other brigades came together for a little while at lunch or afternoon tea and exchanged all the rumours that could be told in a few minutes—and they were many. It was a place of strange meetings. Men from the uttermost corners of the earth, who had perhaps not seen each other for years, foregathered there, only to separate a little later and go on their ways with different columns, none knew whither. Troopers had similar experiences in the streets and inns of Bloemfontein, where nearly every regimental badge of the British Army and every distinguishing plume adopted by Irregulars who had come to fight as ‘soldiers of the Queen’ were to be seen in a variety that seemed endless. Brothers whose paths in life had parted when they left school, one going east, another west or south, came face to face in the streets of that little Free State town or rubbed shoulders in a motley crowd of khaki-clad soldiers, sometimes without recognising each other, until accident gave them some clue. A rough word or two of careless greeting, a tight hand-grip, a steadfast look into eyes that remind the boys of father or mother, a light laugh on lips that might otherwise betray too much feeling, a drink together (if it is to be had), for ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ and then with a jaunty ‘So long, old chap,’ they part again. It is a superstition, or at any rate a recognised custom, not to say ‘Good-bye’ in such circumstances. But if men only thought of its literal meaning, what better wish could there be? Yet, for all its stir and bustle and dramatic incidents, Bloemfontein was a dull place in those days for any man who entered it and found no intimate friends there to greet him. Comrades they all were, but in a rough-and-ready sort of comradeship that needed the fire of the battlefield to try it and perchance anneal it into something stronger than the ties of mere kinship. But this is a thing which only soldiers understand, and seldom even they. Lumsden’s Horse knew it not then, but for some of them the secret was to be disclosed before many days had passed, and in a form that will never fade from their memory. Meanwhile, they went about their duties methodically enough in camp or took their pleasures sadly in streets where thousands of soldiers wandered daily, finding no entertainment, no place of resort except dingy bars, where liquors of more than alcoholic potency were sold, and very little change from campaign fare except at a price that made even the necessaries of life prohibited luxuries for a man who had no more than his shilling a day to spend. One of Lumsden’s Horse who was sent into Bloemfontein on orderly duty gives a vivid sketch of all this in a few touches that are the more graphic because they only pretend to note passing impressions. Writing a day after B Company’s arrival at Deel’s Farm, he shows how the men had to rub their horses down while standing inches deep in mud. So much rain was out of season, but South Africa is, like other places, occasionally fickle in this respect. To troopers it did not seem an ideal way of spending Easter Monday, and the whistle, of which officers made free use, must have been irritating to nerves already overstrained, for it is never mentioned without a forcible prefix. However, when rain ceased and sunshine appeared for an hour in the afternoon, these men were merry enough at a game of cricket, which, by violating all the higher rules, must have reminded them of similar sports in England when they were boys and welcomed Easter Monday as the day of all others appropriate to cricket. The next morning a great cheer rolled from camp to camp, and Lumsden’s Horse, responding lustily, passed it on to the next without asking what the unusual excitement meant. When they heard afterwards that troops were cheering because ‘Kruger had surrendered,’ a strange depression took hold of them. At that moment all the discomforts and drudgery of a soldier’s life were forgotten in the humiliating thought that the corps would have to go back to India without a chance of proving itself in battle. It turned out, however, to be all mere rumour, though not so baseless as some of which Lumsden’s Horse had after-experience. The Transvaal President’s offer to negotiate for peace on terms all in his own favour must have been known in England then, and in some mysterious way a reflex of it came to camps on the veldt, where troops, who had seen plenty of the fighting that Lumsden’s Horse were eager for, welcomed the illusive tidings with a cheer. In its train, however, came something nearly as good—a post bringing letters from ‘England, home, and beauty,’ and for one non-commissioned officer at least ‘a parcel full of excellent things.’ Before he had time to enjoy these he was under orders for Bloemfontein, and after a ride through pouring rain he got there in time to hear another disconcerting rumour, and to find some of his comrades selling their kit because ‘they had been ordered back.’ Wisely resolving not to act on anything but definite orders, and, taking the advice of a corporal in the City Imperial Volunteers, who persuaded him ‘to sit tight,’ he waited, making the best of circumstances that were by no means bright according to his own brief record, which runs, ‘No dinner to be had at the station. Got tea sixpence a cup, bread and jam sixpence.’ Hungry and dispirited, he turned in and went to bed at the station, which means something very different from the untravelled civilian’s idea of a bed. Then next morning ‘bought a bob’s worth of oat straw for horse—groomed and fed him. Put my wet things out to dry, and sallied forth to the station. Had an excellent breakfast: porridge, haddock, chops, and two cups of coffee, for three shillings. Went to the hospital to try and get my leg dressed, but couldn’t find anybody to speak to. Thence to a most pleasant chemist—a Dutchman. Went to the station for lunch—another three bob.’ Not a profitable day’s work for a corporal on Cavalry pay without ‘colonial allowances.’ After that came tea and dinner, so that he was evidently doing his best to prove the wisdom of Mark Tapley’s philosophy. Having found circumstances in which it was a credit to be jolly, he made the most of them. It is not every soldier, however, who, having indulged in a little extravagance of that kind, could write, ‘Afterwards to the bank, and had an agreeable interview with the manager’; nor every man, with a balance to his credit, who would have turned cheerfully again towards the rough life of a camp and the unknown hardships that were to follow. When orders came next day for all Lumsden’s Horse to rejoin their corps in readiness for an immediate advance, this non-commissioned officer paid another visit to his friend the chemist and asked how much he owed. ‘The chemist refused to take anything. Pretty good that for a Dutchman and evidently a pro-Boer.’ With that pleasant experience blotting out all unfavourable impressions of Bloemfontein, the corporal rode back to camp at Deel’s Farm to find all the tents being struck.

So they had to spend a miserable night by the bivouac fire and get what amusement they could out of good stories. One, suggested perhaps by talk of chemists and surgical operations, is worthy to be preserved. To appreciate the point of the joke you must know that a lieutenant-general’s badges of rank are a sword and bâton crossed, with the crown above them. A man of the —— Yeomanry, then quartered in Bloemfontein, was suffering agonies from toothache, and, like our friend the corporal, had searched every hospital in vain for a surgeon who might have leisure to extract it. As he crossed the Market Square, a general of division whose kindness of heart is as notorious as his strength of language, was coming out of the Club. To him the yeoman advanced, and, after a hesitating preface, asked the General whether he would mind drawing a tooth. For a moment the General was dumbfounded, but then his powers of expression came back to him. ‘What the devil do you mean?’ he roared, thinking the yeoman was unpardonably familiar. The man’s face fell. ‘I’m very sorry, sir,’ he said, ‘but our doctor’s on leave, and——’ ‘But,’ said the officer, smiling at the man’s mistake, ‘I’m not a doctor; I’m General ——’ The yeoman stammered, ‘But—but—your badge, sir!’ The General good-humouredly turned his shoulder to the abashed trooper. ‘Here you are, my lad; what’s the matter with the badge? “Crossed swords, bâton, and crown.”’ ‘Good heavens!’ said the man, ‘I hope you’ll forgive me, sir. I thought it was the skull and cross-bones!’



Before daybreak in the morning of April 21, Lumsden’s Horse were roused to pack kits and saddle up for their march. Impartial observers said they were very smart about it, but a story went round that the Colonel had expressed himself as much disappointed with B Company, saying that the others would have saddled up and walked round them three times. This was apparently only a playful invention, but it so angered one trooper that he could only express his feelings in choice Hindustani. He was mollified afterwards on learning that A Company had really admired the soldierly way in which B Company got ready, and then he excused his strong language by writing, ‘I understand now the expression “Swear like a trooper.” We hear and do more of it every day.‘ It was a painful confession for one of Lumsden’s Horse to make, but the incident, apparently trivial, shows that a wholesome spirit of emulation in deeds was animating the men, and that would always be regarded by soldiers as ample atonement for unnecessary rivalry in linguistic attainments. The time was close at hand, too, when Lumsden’s Horse would have more serious things to think about than these. Yet nobody knows better than old campaigners how little things occupy the thoughts of men even when they are doing great deeds. No opportunity for achieving greatness came to the corps during its first day’s march through a country where the enemy’s appearance might be looked for at any moment, but in another way the men showed their fitness for a soldier’s work—by helping the transport out of difficulties. It was in crossing a drift at the Little Modder River that carts stuck with wheels jammed tightly in deep holes between slippery boulders, and teams floundered in fruitless attempts to recover their footing. The Editor, having been in one of those holes, horse and all, has reason to remember the place and the swirl of water where it rashes over rocky ledges into a deeper pool. By dint of manful work, Lumsden’s Horse got their carts clear of the drift, only to find them axle deep in the treacherous soil of a neighbouring vlei some minutes later. Then ammunition had to be taken out and carried to firm ground and carts lifted bodily out of the mire. It was an experience by which the transport drivers learned not to trust appearances and to beware of grass that looked unusually green. Still, as Sergeant Stephens, of the Transport, wrote in relating his experiences, ‘If anything ever frightened our drivers it was the word “drift”; you should have seen the worried looks when they heard there was a drift ahead.’ That night the corps bivouacked beyond Glen, where General Tucker’s division had been in touch with the enemy for nearly a month and warding off frequent attempts to interfere with Engineers who were hard at work on a ‘deviation’ near the ruined railway bridge. There they had to bivouac with nothing but blankets to protect them from the bitterly cold wind, and they went to sleep supperless because the transport, delayed by many causes, had not come up. No alarms or excursions disturbed their rest that night, but their march next morning was to the accompaniment of distant pom-poms and heavier guns and the sounds of fighting not far off. They did not know the meaning of it all then. It seemed to them but a local skirmish, and not the penultimate phase of a great movement in which Ian Hamilton, French, and Rundle had been sweeping the Boers before them from Wepener to Thaba ’Nchu and thence eastward and northward, clearing the country for a still greater movement. No shots came near the marching column. The screen of outposts holding inquisitive Boers in check was miles away from the drift where Lumsden’s Horse crossed the main Modder River, and, for all they could see, it might have been still miles off when they marched up a steep track and bivouacked on the pleasant hillside, relieving some New South Wales Mounted Rifles, whose horses had been used up by incessant patrolling. They were, however, in the outpost line there as part of the 8th Mounted Infantry, commanded by Colonel Ross, to whom Colonel Lumsden reported himself that afternoon. Some officers of Regular regiments whose pickets were near at hand came to have a look at these Indian Volunteers, who were quite gratified afterwards to hear that the Colonel of the Norfolks thought them ‘a very fine set of men, but undisciplined.’ It was true enough they had not much discipline of the parade-ground type, but they were held together by bonds stronger than any rules or regulations can weld, and inspired by a sentiment that would have made them ‘play the game’ wherever fortune might place them. And part of that game was for them to be soldiers in deed as well as in spirit, though they might lack the mere outward show of subordination. Spytfontein, which formed the centre of a position held by Lumsden’s Horse, is an outwork of the rugged range that sweeps from east to west in an irregular curve just north of Karree Siding, and from which General Tucker’s division, aided by a turning movement of Cavalry and Mounted Infantry under General French, dislodged the Boers a month earlier. Though they had made several attempts to reoccupy that range in the hope of being able to shell us out of Glen, they lost ground each time, and finally retired to an entrenched position in front of Brandfort, to which Spytfontein was our nearest approach. Trooper Burn-Murdoch in one of his clever letters to the ‘Englishman’ gave an admirable sketch of outpost work when it was a new experience to Lumsden’s Horse:

Spytfontein consists of several kopjes with rocks between and, so far as I could see, only one farmhouse, so you will not find it marked on the map. We took the place of some Australians, as they had been pretty busy and their horses were all knocked up. To the north of us were Loch’s Horse about 500 yards off, and quite close to our southern flank were some companies of East Lancashire Mounted Infantry. What with outlying pickets, guards, horse pickets, and such like, we did not find time hang heavy on our hands. And, as our nearest neighbours over the kopjes were large bodies of Boers with heavy guns and other arms, we had, as the saying is, to sleep with one eye open, and that one well skinned. I have many a time steered my way by Old Crux away down south. But I found that gazing at it over the icy-cold muzzle of a Lee-Metford was, though possibly just as profitable and useful a job, very much less romantic.

One reads in Olive Schreiner and in other African authors’ books of the never-to-be-forgotten pleasure of sleeping out on the great South African veldt, the pale calm moon overhead, and only the shade of the waggon for covering, around which the trek oxen rest after their day’s toil, the monotonous crunch, crunch of their jaws as they chew the cud being the only sound that breaks the awe-inspiring silence. My personal experience was vile—cold winds, little or no moon, wet grass and rocks to lie upon, soaking wet feet and clothes, one wet blanket and ditto coat, the only change to this being two hours’ sentry-go every four hours.


OUTLYING PICKET TAKING UP POSITION (_From a sketch by J.S. Cowen_) ]

We were not allowed to walk about as on ordinary sentry-go, but had to keep quiet and sit or lie down for the most of the time, with our eyes straining out into the dark north, where every piece of scrub or large stone rapidly grew into a slouch-hatted Boer, as our brains became hypnotised with ceaseless gazing. And on our keen sense of hearing and sight depended the lives of all the corps!

One afternoon the alarm was given, and we promptly ‘stood to arms’ in excited expectation of an attack. But it proved to be a false alarm; and I was not surprised that it was so, as our valiant signaller standing on the sky-line of a neighbouring kopje flagged the news down to us, and of course all the Boers between our pickets and Kroonstad at once knew that Lumsden’s Horse were awake _and there_—so they thought better of it. Some few days afterwards we got orders to parade at 2.30 A.M. to take part in an attack on a Boer force which had been ‘located’ on some hills to the south-west of us and skirting the Modder River. I was horse sentry that night, so got practically no sleep. At 2.30, however, amid a thundercloud of English and Hindustani, Lumsden’s Horse awoke and managed to saddle up in the darkness; and then, by dint of shouting out each other’s names, we managed to wriggle into our proper subsections. As one man put it, ‘the bundabust was shocking.’

From the midst of this noisy dark chaos emerging, away we marched. Bitterly cold and cheerless was that morning, every second man’s teeth chattering like so many castanets, while one’s feet felt _en masse_ with the stirrup irons. In a short time we were joined by Loch’s Horse, the Victorian Mounted Rifles, the Artillery, and Lancashire Mounted Infantry, and silence was the strict order of the march; and silence it was pretty well, until one of Loch’s Horse, with his cut-off open, let bang two shots—phew! phew! went the two nickels over the lot of us, and half of us ‘bowed our heads’ reverently. I believe Mr. Loch got fourteen days’ for that, and served him jolly well right.

The sun coming out, our spirits rose somewhat, and our fingers became warm enough to pull out bits of biscuit from our haversacks and so have a sumptuous breakfast on horseback. An hour and a half’s march brought us to a deep creek with a good drift over it, and this we crossed in safety. On the other side we found a long and broad expanse of plain gradually sloping up to a ridge of high kopjes some four miles in front of us. On these kopjes our friends the Boers were supposed to be waiting for us, so we spread out into extended single ranks with about eleven yards interval. A kind friend having given me a cheroot, I lit up and enjoyed a peaceful smoke, while at the same time I could not help wondering how many more smokes the Boers would allow me to have. Shortly afterwards we got the order to advance at the canter, which we did; as our scouts were barely 1,500 yards ahead and had not had time to ‘search’ the kopjes properly, this was, in my opinion, a risky order. However, we got there.

Firing had meanwhile commenced on our left, and two of our Victorian scouts were bagged. Our pom-poms and guns then tuned up; boom! pom-pom-pom, pom-pom! boom—and after a little of this double-bass tune the Boers bolted and left us in possession. Skirting along the scrub-covered banks of the Modder River, we at length reached Waggon Bridge, over which my subsection took the lead as scouts; and about midday arrived at a Boer farm some two and a half miles further on. Here we stayed the night, camping out on some commanding kopjes. A strict watch was, of course, kept up all night. Next day we duly received some nice compliments from the General in command on our rapid march and successful capture of Waggon Bridge; and then, like the celebrated Duke of York’s Army, we marched back again to our camp.

An officer of the corps, writing to friends at Calcutta, adds some interesting details:

We are right up at the front now holding a line of kopjes overlooking a large plain all round. There is nothing in the plain except one or two small kopjes occupied by the Boers between here and Brandfort. They come close in every night, and often do a little sniping at our outposts, but they disappear at daybreak. The other morning four Australians went out to a farm about three miles off; there were supposed to be only women there, and they had a couple of white flags up; but as soon as the first man got into the yard several Boers jumped out of the pigsty, shot his horse, wounded him and took him prisoner—the others had to clear. They say about a dozen Boers come there every night. The Australians have a picket a mile off, but they have not succeeded in catching anybody. The General won’t allow firing into the farm, because he says the women can’t help the Boers coming for supplies and things. The farm where we get our milk and stuff is owned by a Boer who has given up his arms; he fought against us, and bucks that he shot a Gordon Highlander officer at ten paces at Magersfontein. This Boer was in an awful funk lest his old friends should reach his farm and shoot him; at least, he said so. The night before last our sentries on one of the pickets were quite certain they saw our Boer friend lamp-signalling, and our signallers on the kopje noticed it also. Twenty Boers were seen in the distance in the afternoon, and he was evidently signalling to them. To-day there was a quantity of ammunition found in one of his kraals, so he will probably find himself in chokee. The day before I rejoined from hospital we attacked, or, rather, the Boers attacked us, but were shelled out of their position. Two of our officers who were left in camp saw from one kopje a shell burst in the middle of five men, and saw them all go down.

On the 23rd, when our men were sent away to the right with some other M.I. and the Cheshires to seize a bridge and to drive Boer raiders from some kopjes, they did not apparently wait to be turned out, but cleared and trekked across the plain to Brandfort. Our men never fired a shot, though Loch’s Horse on their left had a little shooting and lost one man, an advance scout. The Boers let him walk right into their midst, and as he turned round to bolt his horse came down and they took him prisoner. Our position is about, as far as I can make out, the centre of a half circle from Karree Siding to the Glen. One quarter circle is held by the 7th Division, two batteries, and various M.I. The other afternoon some Boers started sniping at our signal-post, but came nowhere near hitting; we all stood to arms, and when thirty men were sent out they cleared. They generally amuse themselves sniping at our outposts at something like 2,000 yards with no effect. We have to furnish three night pickets—three officers, five non-commissioned, and sixty men every night; it falls rather hard on the section officers, as one is sick, and the company commanders and the staff, of course, don’t do it, so it means three of the seven are out every night. There is not very much to do on picket except post the sentries, visit them two or three times in the night, and get them in again a little before sunrise, when they return to camp. There is also a day outpost of twenty men and two non-commissioned officers, and generally a convoy of similar size into Karree Siding; so the men, too, have enough to do.

There was a fight expected to-day (29th), but it has not come off, only a few shots on our left. The order has just come for us to go out to-morrow, leaving a sufficient guard to strike our tents and bring them on if necessary. We hope it is the real advance this time.

Douglas Jones proved himself such an excellent Assistant-Quartermaster that, as B Company’s appointments were all probationary, he has been made Company Quartermaster-Sergeant. We lost poor old Roger at Kruger Siding on the way up. He had quite turned into a regimental dog, and on the march used generally to come along with the rearguard. We halted to feed there one march, and he may have stopped with the Royal Scots. It is quite possible he went back to Jagersfontein, and made up to the Gloucester Yeomanry. They are bringing in two of our lame horses, so if he did we may get him again.


_Photo: Bourne & Shepherd_ CAPTAIN NOBLETT (MAJOR ROYAL IRISH RIFLES) (Commanding B Company Lumsden’s Horse) ]

Another correspondent who was kept in camp by a slight ailment while his comrades were away on patrol or some more exciting expedition records how he got out kits and collected firewood, ‘a thing I never did before,’ and how when others of his section came back they lay by the dying embers to keep themselves warm and occasionally made the fire flicker up by throwing more wood on it, reckless of danger from snipers, who were always on the prowl. While the main body of Lumsden’s Horse were away on that dash for Waggon Bridge the Boers made a counter demonstration from Brandfort, supported by pom-poms, and got within a thousand yards of the Red House Farm, but did no damage beyond interfering with the domestic arrangements of a Regular regiment, whose officers, being too far from the point of attack to see what really happened, thought their position was being seriously threatened and wanted 28,000 rounds of ammunition brought up from Karree Siding for emergencies. The orderly corporal who sent that request on got jeered at as an alarmist, when nothing happened except a retirement of the Boers. The next day Lee Stewart, who had been left behind in hospital at Cape Town, rejoined, and got a cordial welcome from all his comrades when they marched back from their first little expedition. The section mess was enabled to regale him at dinner that night on ‘chicken cooked by N—— and beefsteaks,’ so that one hardly wonders to find in the next day’s record the melancholy note, ‘There little was to eat; sat round the cook-house—two tins on the open veldt—and talked.’

In his official report Colonel Lumsden sums up all this in a few brief sentences, having matters of more serious weight on his mind at the moment:

Our departure for Spytfontein was delayed from 19th to 21st ult.—on which date we left Bloemfontein, halting at the Glen _en route_, arriving at Spytfontein midday on the 22nd ult. There I reported to Colonel Ross, who commands our corps, consisting of the following units, of which the approximate strength is given:[4]

Lumsden’s Horse 240

Loch’s Horse (a squadron) 220

West Riding and Oxford L.I. Companies of 220 M.I.

8th Battalion M.I. 420


Total 1,100

Late that evening I received orders to hold myself in readiness at 4.30 A.M. for Kranz Kraal, whither we marched in company with the 14th Brigade, our object being to protect a bridge about eight miles distant on the main road to Bloemfontein, which the Boers intended to destroy. We were only just in time to prevent them carrying out their object, by getting there before them, with only a couple of casualties among the Australian contingent. We spent the night at the bridge, returning the next day to Spytfontein. While at the latter place we were fortunate in securing a few more Government remounts to replace several unfit horses. I may mention that at Spytfontein we were in easy sight of the Boer outposts, being only eight miles distant from Brandfort. A long flat plain separated the Boer boundary from our own, and their scouts were distinctly visible to us every morning. Nothing eventful occurred during the next few days, but on the 30th we received our baptism of fire as far as we are personally concerned.



Footnote 4:

The Suffolk Company M.I., numbering 120, joined later.—ED.



How often ignorant critics have sneered at that phrase ‘the baptism of fire,’ which expresses finely, with literary completeness and force, a truth of which men who have never been in the front line of battle can know nothing! However much the phrase may have been degraded by melodramatic application, it is a gem in its clearness of thought and perfection of finish. The soldier’s first fight is a plunge from which he emerges a new being. Whether the change may be for better or worse depends probably on temperament and previous associations. The fire of battle does not purify a sinner or sear the soul of a saint, but neither is quite the same after as he was before passing through it. He has seen things which, in some subtle way, unfelt, perhaps, and certainly unacknowledged, will influence the remaining years of his life. It is not only because he has looked death in the face—that is a common enough experience elsewhere and leaves no perceptible trace—but he has stood where dear comrades fell beside him in the midst of scenes that at other times would be heartrending, and, as if in a state of complete detachment from himself, he has passed callous through it all. The braver a man is, the more surely some consciousness of that strange state clings to him. To call it selfish indifference or the numbness of fear, as some insolent ignoramus might, would be to falsify the history of war. Selfish men and cowards do not walk with eyes open into the very jaws of death to help a wounded comrade, nor would dazed brains be capable of the swift thought that characterises soldiers in the direst danger. Yet men who at such times have done deeds worthy of the Cross for Valour will [Blank Page] not be able to tell you what sensations possessed them, simply because feeling in the ordinary sense was for a moment, or for an hour it may be, dead. The mental faculties were clear enough—so clear, indeed, that they took impressions, photographic in sharpness and detail, of every immediate surrounding, yet with no power of communicating those impressions in any sentient form. They knew, but did not feel. There are people who will tell you gravely that the Victoria Cross is an evil because it inspires men to do reckless things out of sheer desire for the glory of that decoration. It is all nonsense. I have known a great many Victoria Cross heroes, but not one who gained that high distinction because he tried to or was conscious at the moment of deserving it. There are soldiers of some countries in the world to whom glory and the lust of fame are incentives to valorous deeds. They love to think that the eyes of the world, and especially of its fairer half, are on them as they march to battle, and for the sake of these things they will volunteer to lead forlorn hopes; but once in the fight they behave as Nature or Fate decrees. The mere outward trappings of gallantry avail nothing then.


MAP OF HOUTNEK shewing positions of British and Boer troops on 30th. April.

Drawn by Major Neville C. Taylor, 14th. Bengal Lancers.

_Contours shewn at intervals of 10 feet._ ]

Of the curious duality that can only be described as detachment of mind from body, memory recalls two conspicuous examples which occurred within my knowledge, if not both within my actual range of vision, on the battlefield of Elandslaagte. One was when the Imperial Light Horse were rushing up the last slope to that wonderful rallying cry of theirs in an onslaught that rolled like a resistless wave across the shot-torn crest and crowned the day with victory. One trooper dropped out of the ranks as if a bullet had struck him, yet he knew that only his legs had given way, suddenly refusing to carry him any further. Speaking frankly of this incident afterwards, he said that at the moment no thought in his mind was so strong as the desire to be with those who were charging up the stony heights, waved on by their intrepid Colonel, Chisholm. He had no sensation that could be akin to fear, and yet he was powerless to move a limb. Then suddenly a strange thing happened. A Mauser bullet ploughed along his cheek and stung him. In another moment mind and body were leaping together up that hill, each striving to be first in the race, and behaving with a gallantry at which even brave men wondered. But for that accidental shot the trooper might have stopped where he fell and been branded as a coward. The other illustration occurred almost simultaneously, but in a different way. Some wounded men of the same dauntless corps were lying on an opposite slope exposed to a heavy fire from some Boers who had crept back to a rocky ledge from which they were raking the whole of that ground with a shower of nickel. John Stuart, of the ‘Morning Post,’ and I went to help two or three who were too badly hit to move, and succeeded in getting them from the bare veldt to comparative safety behind small boulders. One of them told me afterwards that his mind was full of nothing but profound gratitude and admiration when he saw us tucking a comrade into one little sheltered nook, and yet the words that his tongue all the while hurled at us for our folly in not taking cover were quite unfit for publication. No man can pass through experiences of that kind and be in all things the same again. The ‘baptism of fire’ has changed him, though he may never admit it to himself or betray it to his friends.

And the time was at hand when Lumsden’s Horse were to take their plunge and emerge from it with the reputation of soldiers in whom trust could be placed from that day forward. The share they had in operations that extended over a front of nearly thirty miles, from Thaba ’Nchu to Ospruit, was comparatively small. But for them it was the most eventful episode of the campaign—their first fight, their passing of the threshold beyond which was the secret of more of human life than they had ever known. In that one day they were to look death in the face, to see comrades, the friends of their youth, fall beside them, to have thoughts of sorrow in their minds but no pang in their hearts. Grief was to come days, perhaps months afterwards, when a chance word or the touch of a hand might set the pent-up currents flowing in channels that war had closed. Above all, they were to know the British soldier as he is in fight—a creature of strange impulses, of wonderful tenderness, when he might be expected to show the roughest qualities with which habit has endowed him, and of sublime endurance. Writing after the plunge, one of Lumsden’s Horse thanks God that he had seen it all:

For such is the British Tommy—taken from the lowest classes, so our sixth-class paper editors take care to blazen forth. Drunken louts in the streets, not allowed into a decent theatre, knocked about if a bit drunk by an officious policeman—everything that is bad, in fact. Change the scene, and what do we see? Mile after mile of ‘the thin red line,’ now changed to ‘the dirty khaki rag’; the battered khaki helmet, Tommy’s only pillow at night; the coarse, hard ammunition boots. Dirt and vermin cover him from head to foot—no water to drink, much less to wash with—a heavy marching kit, rifle, and cartridges, and as for food, why, not enough to feed a dog. Ay! Many and many are the dogs that would have refused Tommy’s South African _menu_ with turned-up noses. Overhead at times a scorching sun; at others a blinding, cold, blustering rain; and at night always the bleak, cold, north-west wind. March! March! March! On they go, bravely, truly, sturdily, hardly a grumble, while safely at home you have your collar-and-tie renegade telling us of the atrocities these brave men are committing. Lies! all lies, I say. I’ve met some of those people since I came back, and my one wish has been to have them out against a brick wall with six good brave Tommies to fire a volley. Yes. I am glad, ay, more than glad, spite of wounds and hardships, that I have seen our good brothers of the khaki as they ought to be seen—no swell uniforms there, no pipeclay, no shining cuirasses and polished helmets to ‘catch on’ with a non-military public. Ye gods, no! all khaki, khaki; all one great army, be it a Colonial, be it a London slum, or a Highland bracken born lot of men. They are all brothers in arms, one in object, one in deeds of bravery and devotion to an Empire.

That eloquent passage, written by Trooper Burn-Murdoch, gentleman and tea-planter, should be enough to silence the tongue of calumny and convince any unprejudiced mind that whatever war may do it does not brutalise. In illustration of that truth many other instances will have to be given before this narrative runs its course to an end.

Now, however, it is necessary to describe briefly the general scope of operations whereby Lumsden’s Horse were drawn, much sooner than they had any hope of, into their first fight. Attempts had been made by Generals Rundle, Ian Hamilton, and French to surround Boer forces that were retiring sullenly from their futile siege of Wepener. But De Wet was in command there, and his mobile ‘slimness,’ aided by secret information from Free State burghers, who, having taken the oath of neutrality, were allowed to live on their farms or to move about freely without any watch being kept on them, frustrated every attempt to hem in the commandos. General Brabant’s Colonial division, following Sir Leslie Rundle’s, was still some distance off, and General Pole-Carew’s retirement to Bloemfontein for fresh orders at this juncture unfortunately left a gap open between General French’s left and the force under Sir Ian Hamilton, which was by that time extended along the Modder valley near Sanna’s Post, facing north-east. Through this opening the Boers slipped back to the high ground round about Thaba ’Nchu. Pressed hard by French, they were driven from the southern and western spurs of these hills, but still clung to the commanding mountain itself, where they gathered reinforcements day by day. Then French ceased to press, and the turn came for Ian Hamilton to strike, in the hope that he might drive a wedge across the lower ridges between Thaba ’Nchu and Brandfort, which would not only tear the chain of Boer positions asunder, but also open the way for a combined movement by which their left wing, under De Wet, should be enveloped if he attempted to prolong his stand in the Thaba ’Nchu range. It was cleverly designed; but we all know what often happens with the best-laid plans, especially when there are spies free to move about without danger to themselves. It was at this phase of the extended operations that Sir Ian Hamilton began to advance towards Houtnek, where he found himself confronted by a formidable gathering of commandos under General Louis Botha, and they were being reinforced from all directions, the Boers having regained hope and courage from the presence of a leader whose reputation then stood incomparably high among them. Though the numerical strength and boldness of his enemies were something of a surprise to General Hamilton, he had in some measure prepared for the unforeseen by calling upon General Tucker to make a diversion by which the Boers under De la Rey’s command in Brandfort might be discouraged from sending reinforcements to Houtnek. With the Seventh Division, or rather in advance of it as a covering screen, the Mounted Infantry brigade under Colonel Henry was ordered to co-operate, supported by General Maxwell’s brigade of Infantry. Of the Mounted Infantry, to which a post of honour was thus assigned, the 8th Battalion, commanded by Colonel Ross, was to form the advance guard. Thus Lumsden’s Horse were destined in their first fight to bear the brunt of the attack if it should come; and, in high spirits at the prospect, they looked with an interest they had never felt before towards the rugged line of low kopjes far away across the broad plain with light from the setting sun full upon them. That the orders were thus made known to all ranks twelve hours before they could be acted on is a proof that they had not been drawn up on the spur of sudden emergency, and, indeed, Sir Ian Hamilton was only then feeling for his enemy in the direction of Houtnek. At this point the picturesque pen of the ‘Englishman’s’ correspondent goes on with the narrative:

On April 29 we got warning to be ready to take part in a general attack early the next morning. So we bustled round and got everything ready. At 5 P.M. I and two other men of my sub-section were ordered out on outlying picket, leaving Trooper Thelwall to saddle our three horses before daybreak as well as his own, when we were to march into camp again and get mounted and ready to start with the rest. So, just having time to get half a pint of tea and some dry bread, we hurried out on picket for the night. And that was, practically speaking, the last food I tasted until 8 o’clock the next night. Not what you could call ‘’igh livin’,’ is it? It was bitterly cold, and, what with the everlasting night wind and only one blanket, we pickets were not much troubled with sleep that night. However, at 5 o’clock in the morning of the 30th we rolled up our blankets and marched into camp, and at once set to work at tightening up girths, adjusting saddles and kits. I had just time to put some bread into my haversack, and half fill my horse’s nosebag with cartridges and also two or three priceless ‘smokes,’ when we had to mount. So away went all chances of breakfast that morning. Alas! some of us had no need for food and drink in the evening. Just as old Sol began to rise up over the kopjes we marched out of camp, up over the ridge, and down the other side towards the open veldt. Here we paused for a while to allow the other troops to join us. Taking advantage of this short halt, we got into our proper sub-sections, dismounted, and had a last look at our girths, and tightened up curbs, &c. Poor old mokes! How many of them, my own included, were fated never to see another day dawn! Colonel Lumsden now rode up to us and gave us a rough idea of what we were to do, and informed us that our B Troop was to have the place of honour, and that we were to take the lead. And, knowing us as he did, he had not the slightest doubt that we would not fail to distinguish ourselves, &c. To which our gallant ‘Oirish’ Captain Chamney began to reply in his usual Indian after-dinner style, that he felt proud of his troop, and fully conscious of the great honour that was bestowed upon us in being allowed to take the lead; and he sincerely hoped that we would do justice to the confidence bestowed on us. He would no doubt have continued in this style for some time had not our good old Major chipped in with his usual ‘down-in-his-boots’ aside: ‘Oh, that’s all right, Chamney; damn it, man, of course you will.’ And these were the last words I ever heard the good old man utter in this life.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN H. CHAMNEY]

Good old Showers, gruff as they make ’em, but a true white man’s heart inside for all that. Never afraid to jump on an officer for all you were worth if you thought he deserved it; and after those long hot Indian parades, how many times have we heard your hearty laugh at the head of the camp mess-table! For seven years our Colonel, and the man who made the Surma Valley Light Horse second to none in India.

All the attacking forces being now mustered, we made a start and away we marched. For some part of the time our route lay alongside a pretty little lagoon, and then the road gradually lost itself in the great open veldt. How peaceful it all seemed that morning! The few cattle and sheep that were quietly grazing here and there on the scanty tussocks would casually lift up their heads and gaze at us, and, seeing that there were no strange dogs with us, would go on cropping the grass, though possibly a sheep or two would scuttle out of the way with a contemptuous wriggle of their tails. Time of war! one says—humbug! one could not believe it on that quiet morning. The fresh ozonised air, the soft, steady breeze, now pleasantly tempered by the bright morning sun; and there, by the doorway of the quiet little farmhouse, the farmer’s wife standing with her milk-pails all ready, while she laughingly makes passing remarks to her departing ‘guests.’

The only signs of war, maybe, are those few fences with their wires cut down; and these you would suppose had been broken down by some restless calves or light-hearted foal. From our ranks could be seen and smelt the little clouds of tobacco-smoke which rose up in the clear air like so many stray wandering bits of cumulus clouds, while back in the rear could be heard the quaintly sad airs of ‘Bearer Ganga Dīn’ and ‘Who’s dat a-callin’?’ as some of our musically inclined troopers gave vent unconsciously to their feelings. What a lovely, jolly morning that was! All those dire hardships, cold, hunger, and wet, we had known only too well; but to-day—light, warmth, and the indescribable freshness of the open veldt, while under us were our plucky Indians, Arabs, and Walers, fresh as English daisies and keen as the air we breathed.

Some miles ahead of us—though seemingly quite close, owing to the intensely clear atmosphere—lay a long range of low-lying hills all lighted up with various shades of colouring, the hues of which kept ever changing from moment to moment as the sun rose higher in the heavens. Still further on, and filling up the whole background of this typically African landscape, lay the razor-backs and table-topped peaks of the Basuto hills, from the tops of which soft filmy wisps of cloud drifted silently away into that great blue ‘nothingness.’ All peace! Peace on earth, it seemed to us that fair morn. Nor could we poor troopers realise that ere God’s life-giving sun should set that night great Mars would look down on many of us poor mortals writhing in the agonies of cruel death-dealing wounds and the tortures of the surgeon’s knife and probe, while some poor souls, like these vanishing vapoury clouds, would have left this little world for the infinite beyond. Nor could the mind of our well-loved Major, as he rode at the head of those men he had known for long, long years, have realised that in a few short hours his true British heart would have ceased to beat, and his life’s blood would be mingled with the dust of that great continent where so many good men and true had already given up their lives for an Empire’s cause. Thank God for the impenetrable veil that He casts over our future! One scene especially struck me by its beauty, and that was when a battery of Artillery toiled over a tussocky ridge right into the blazing disc of the sun. As gun after gun topped the ridge the whole team, horses and men, were shut out from our sight by the powerful blaze of light in a most curious way; while here and there a khaki-clad helmeted Artilleryman stood silhouetted against the sky-line, over which the khaki gun-carriages disappeared into a glaring sea of gold.

As we were now approaching some suspicious-looking kopjes, we opened out into extended order as usual, and Lumsden’s Horse were told off to take, and _hold_, a certain line of kopjes some two miles off. So we promptly set to work, approaching them very ‘cannily,’ with scouts well out in advance.

Arriving at the base of the kopjes without opposition, we dismounted and skirmished up to the tops, but found that the Boers had cleared out, though, judging by the several ‘sangars’ built of rocks, these must have been held in force. Our scouts in the meantime had advanced along the plain on the other side of the kopjes, and just as we arrived on top the enemy opened on them with a continuous rattle of rifle fire, and I saw several of the poor beggars limping back over the plain pulling their wounded horses after them, while all around them, to use whaler’s language, the sandy plain kept ‘spouting’ as the deadly bullets struck and ricocheted. From where we were it was utterly impossible to tell from what direction the bullets were coming, so we could do little in the way of keeping down the Boer fire. However, we did our best. But as the enemy soon ceased firing we reserved our ammunition for later use.

Away to our left the Artillery were now having a great duel, while the pom-poms on both sides were making things generally cruel for the Mounted Infantry, and also for those who were holding their horses. Pom-pom-pom! pom-pom! and immediately whack, whack, whack! would echo the vile bursting shells. Then boo-m-m came the big hidden Creusot—and oh, the sound of its messenger, wo-o-o-o-ough! It would come soaring up with a dreadfully mournful sound, while the whole atmosphere seemed to vibrate with its spinning. Wugh! it would sound, as it burst far out of harm’s way, and then one could stand up in the ‘Who’s afraid?’ style, to lie down again promptly as No. 2 came along. How did I feel? you ask. Well, to be strictly honest, I didn’t like it. I don’t believe any man really does, if it comes to that. Afterwards a wounded man described his feelings very well to me; he said, ‘Do you know, I just felt as if I were outside the headmaster’s room, in for a dashed good caning.’ And I think that hits off the sensation exactly.

But now the picturesquely vague must give place to the explicit, and it would be impossible to summarise the position at this stage more clearly than in the terse words of Colonel Lumsden’s official despatch:

On the evening of the 29th Colonel Ross received orders that the corps was to make a demonstration next morning at daylight on the right flank of the Boer lines for the purpose of drawing them from their position and enabling the 14th Brigade, under General Maxwell, which was to have come up on our right, to get behind and cut them off.

The Mounted Infantry portion of General Tucker’s division, under Colonel Henry, joined hands with us at 5 A.M., half a mile from our camp. A portion of my corps was ordered to occupy Gun Kopje, a position believed to be held by the Boers, about four miles distant on our right front, the remainder extending and taking up positions on our left. I went forward with the right flank, Major Showers accompanying me. This portion consisted of the Adjutant, Captain Taylor, Captains Rutherfoord, Clifford, and Chamney, Lieutenants Sidey and Pugh, and four sections, the others having been detached by order of Colonel Ross to hold various points. Mr. Pugh was sent out in advance with the scouts, and it was when on this duty that Private Franks was shot. Mr. Pugh very pluckily assisted him in getting on his horse and endeavoured to take him out of the fire; but Franks was unable to stay on his horse, and, dropping to the ground, had to be left. Mr. Pugh and the remaining scouts were only just able to save themselves by galloping up and joining us on the kopje at the extreme right, to which we had just advanced, and which we held from 7 A.M. until ordered to retire at about 1 o’clock.

Early in the morning I ordered Corporal Chartres with eight men to occupy a kopje about 800 yards to our right and prevent the Boers turning our flank. There they held their ground until ordered to fall back. It was a small party for this important position, but in the circumstances no more could be spared, I having only about sixty men with me, twenty of whom, under Lieutenant Sidey, were detached by Colonel Ross to protect the Vickers-Maxim (commonly styled ‘pom-pom’) in the centre of the position.

The following was then the general disposition:

There were four ridges diverging northerly towards the enemy. The extreme spur of the right ridge was held by myself with four sections Lumsden’s Horse as described; the second held by Lieutenant Crane and one section, he being directed there at the outset by Colonel Ross; the third and fourth by the rest of the brigade, the two pom-poms and our Maxim being at the head of the re-entrant between the second and third ridges, with Captain Noblett and three sections on its left.

Shortly after our arrival the Boers took up a position on a kopje about 1,500 yards directly in front, and quickly opened rifle fire on our position. Fortunately the men had time to ensconce themselves behind rocks, and, consequently, though bullets fell fast about them, they were able to maintain a steady fire on the enemy without exposing themselves. It was here, I deeply regret to say, that Major Showers met his death. He was at the extreme right of the firing line and under a hot flanking fire from the Boers, who had moved a party into a donga some 300 or 400 yards to their left.


I personally begged him not to expose himself, as also did Captains Chamney and Rutherfoord; but he would stand erect, using his field glasses and presenting a most conspicuous mark for the enemy’s fire, which resulted fatally to him shortly after noon, a Mauser bullet entering his right side half way down and coming out through his left arm above the elbow. In risking his own life he had drawn a heavy fire on the spot where he fell, and it was with much danger and difficulty that Captain Powell, with Captain Chamney and others, succeeded in removing him from the summit of the hill to a place of safety about thirty yards down. I should like to take this opportunity of adding a few words by way of tribute to the memory of Major Showers. When he heard of the corps being raised, he was in command of the Surma Valley Light Horse in Cachar, with the rank of Colonel, and was looked upon as one of the smartest commanders of Volunteer Cavalry in India. He wrote me and said, ‘If you will take me as your second in command, I will gladly forfeit my rank and come as Major.’ I may have made many fortunate selections in choosing my officers, but I never made a wiser one than in selecting Colonel Showers. A better or a braver man never breathed, and his loss to me so early in the campaign was irreparable.

Shortly after the commencement of the Boer attack the whole of the left were forced to retire owing to their flank being turned, taking one pom-pom and our Maxim with them. Captain Noblett was consequently obliged, at about 11 A.M., to conform to this movement, having no support, and took his men out of the shell fire with great difficulty but had only a few casualties.

Lieutenant Crane, receiving no orders to retire, and being detached from me and unable to communicate with me or I with him, deemed it his duty to retain his position as long as possible, which resulted in close fighting and the loss of nearly half his section.

[Illustration: L.-SERGT. J.S. ELLIOTT]

[Illustration: R.U. CASE (KILLED)]

[Illustration: SERGT. F.S. McNAMARA]

[Illustration: C.A. WALTON]



[Illustration: J.S. SAUNDERS]

[Illustration: R.N. MACDONALD]

[Illustration: L. GWATKIN WILLIAMS]

[Illustration: CORPL. A. McGILLIVRAY]


One pom-pom and Lieutenant Sidey had been sent to the neck of the right ridge to support us, we having been instructed to hold our position until further orders. This pom-pom retired at about 12.30, and at 1 o’clock Lieutenant Sidey and I both received our orders to retire. This was carried out very deliberately, and the last of our men got out of a most trying position within twenty minutes of having received our orders, by moving away under cover of the ridge.

As we had kept up a decreasing fire until the men got mounted, the Boers, fortunately for us, did not discover our retirement before we were out of range, otherwise we should have suffered heavily. While retiring, Private Burn-Murdoch’s horse was brought down by a stray bullet, causing him a heavy fall and a nasty wound in his head. Captain Chamney, who was near by at the time, with some assistance got Murdoch on to his own horse and pluckily rode with him off the field.


_Photo: Hughes & Mullins_ H.C. LUMSDEN (KILLED IN ACTION, HOUTNEK, APRIL 30, 1900) ]

Captain Taylor, with much gallantry and coolness, remained with the led horses, and saw the last of the men mounted and clear away before he himself left, bringing up the rear with Captain Clifford and some late stragglers, including one man who would stay for a last shot.

The whole brigade rendezvoused at 2 P.M. behind a kopje about three miles in rear and waited till 3, when we returned to our various camps.

For some reason the main attack on our right under General Maxwell had not been delivered, and the object of the day was not achieved. My corps alone had the regrettable number of eighteen casualties out of about 180 engaged. This was mainly accounted for by the position we held. The Maxim under Captain Holmes did good service, coming into action at 1,000 yards at a critical moment and checking the Boer advance for some time. The enemy’s ‘Long Tom,’ however, soon found the Maxim out, and, as the shells were bursting among the men with the gun horses, they were ordered to retire only just in time, all the team being more or less wounded.

I cannot speak too highly of the gallant behaviour of my officers and men throughout the day. Individual instances of heroism were numerous, and I much fear that, especially in Mr. Crane’s section, many of the casualties were caused by men endeavouring to assist their wounded comrades. Mr. Crane himself was wounded in the groin, and I understand Private Daubney’s and Private Case’s deaths were due to their declining to leave their wounded officer. Judging from the number of empty cartridge cases found beside them, they must have kept up a fire on the advancing Boers to the last. Here Corporal Angus McGillivray, Privates Leslie Gwatkin Williams, Firth, and R.N. Macdonald were taken prisoners, along with Lieutenant Crane. Here fell Private H.C. Lumsden.

The same evening about 4 o’clock Dr. Powell, with the ambulance tonga, and Private Godden went out under the Red Cross flag to search for the wounded, but in the gathering darkness were only able to reach the body of Major Showers, who died previous to the retirement from our position on the right where he fell. Captain Powell, in endeavouring to return to camp, lost his way and had to remain during the night on the veldt, reaching camp soon after daylight next morning. Shortly after his arrival he returned with another search party, but found that the Boers had already buried the bodies of Privates Case, Daubney, and Lumsden, after having read the burial service over them. A stone had been put over the head of Private Lumsden with his name scratched on it. The reason for this, as narrated by Transport-Sergeant Stephens, is interesting. When drivers were sent out with carts the following day, they met several English-speaking Boers, ‘who would not talk much about the fight, but said they were sorry our Colonel was killed. They had found some papers in the pockets of young Lumsden, whom they took to be the Colonel.’ The remains of Major Showers, being found still unburied, were brought back and interred with military honours at the foot of the kopje behind our camp. Private Franks, whose wounds had been dressed by Captain Powell, had to be left on the hill near the body of Major Showers, where he was found by the Boers shortly afterwards and received every attention, but died during the night and was buried by them in the morning. The Boers, subsequent to the fight, were most courteous in their attentions, and returned papers, rings, watches, money, &c., found on the bodies.

I wish specially to mention a very plucky action done by Private C.A. Walton, who is wounded and a prisoner in Pretoria. He was one of the men in charge of the led horses in the No. 3 Section of A Company when Sergeant Walker took temporary command of the section in Lieutenant Neville’s absence on sick leave. On the order to retire Sergeant Walker had to run some distance to his horse, and came back much exhausted. The enemy being quite close on them, and Sergeant Walker’s horse having been lost, Private Walton insisted on giving up his own horse to the Sergeant, saying that he could run. While doing so he was shot twice, and had to be left on the ground, although Sergeant Walker did his utmost to take him along with him.

After our return to camp I was much gratified to receive from Colonel Ross, the Corps Commander, and Colonel Henry, the Brigade Commander, congratulations on the behaviour of my officers and men throughout the day, and on the morning following General Tucker, the Divisional Commander, came over in person for a similar purpose; but at the same time read me a lecture on the inadvisability of allowing my men to attempt to bring off their wounded comrades when under fire. He pointed out that it only drew fire on the wounded men and endangered their own lives for no adequate result, as the Boers were a very humane foe, who treated the wounded carefully. The troopers, he said, must remember that their first duty as soldiers was to their Queen and country.

With deep regret I append a list of the casualties:

Killed: Major Eden C. Showers—buried at Spytfontein; Privates R.J. Clayton Daubeny, H.C. Lumsden, R.N. Case, Alfred F. Franks—buried by the Boers.

Wounded: Lieutenant Crane; Paymaster David S. Fraser; Sergeant-Major Cyril M.C. Marsham, bullet wounds through shoulders and thigh; Lance-Sergeant J.S. Elliott, shell wound of right foot; Sergeant F.S. McNamara, bullet wound in thigh; Private J.H. Burn-Murdoch, fracture of frontal bone by fall from his horse, which was shot under him during retirement.

Of these Sergeant-Major Marsham, Lance-Sergeant Elliott, and Private Burn-Murdoch are in hospital at Karree Siding, and Sergeant McNamara rejoined for duty at Kroonstad.

Though General Tucker was constrained, by the wisest military considerations, to rebuke men who, while displaying magnificent qualities of courage and self-sacrifice in attempts to save their wounded comrades, might have endangered the lives of others, we may be sure that he made a mental reservation and wished in his heart that he might have regiments of such men to lead. If the records of his own gallant career have been truthfully kept, he won promotion in the Bhootan expedition of 1866 and in fights against the Zulus twelve years later, and paved the way to a Knight Commandership of the Bath, not so much by obeying the dictates of caution as by brilliant leadership and by conspicuous valour that was almost reckless in its disregard of personal danger. But he knew, with the intuition of a soldier’s quick sympathies, that the corps to whose Colonel his words were addressed wanted no incentive to boldness, but rather a lesson in self-restraint. He had seen a great deal of their gallantry in that action for himself, and his brigadiers had told him more. Lumsden’s Horse, at any rate, had no reason to be ashamed of the way in which they had taken their ‘baptism of fire.’

The devotion of Corporal Firth in sticking to his wounded officer, Lieutenant Crane, under a withering fire was a deed of valour that should be famous throughout the Empire.

[Illustration: LIEUTENANT C.E. CRANE]

All the men with Lieutenant Crane behaved very well. Two non-commissioned officers and eleven troopers went with him to hold the isolated kopje on the right flank. Of this gallant party of fourteen, three were killed, four were wounded and taken prisoners, four escaped with their clothes riddled with bullet-holes but otherwise unhurt; one, Corporal Firth, could have escaped, but preferred to remain with his wounded officer, to bind up his wounds if possible, to go with him into captivity perhaps, to share death with him if need be. Troopers Reginald Macdonald and Leslie Gwatkin Williams also performed deeds of splendid self-sacrifice. Of those who escaped, Sergeant-Major Marsham (wounded), Bugler McKenzie, Sergeant Walker, Lance-Sergeant J.S. Elliott (wounded), and Trooper Radford, whose parting shot while he sat in the saddle brought a Boer down, are deserving of the highest praise for the way in which they stuck to the led horses and rode off with them under heavy fire.

These men were not tried veterans; they were taking their parts in the first battle of their first campaign. But several of them had been friends from their youth up, and all of them were Anglo-Indians—men whose exile from the land of their birth serves but to intensify their love for England and her greatness. Loyalty to friend and country! This is the magic touchstone of the soldier’s discipline and heroism.


_Photo: J. Charlesworth_ J.H. BURN-MURDOCH ]

Should any cynic dare to say that the men who did these deeds were thirsting for glory, or inspired by a hope of winning the Cross for Valour, or even conscious of doing more than a common soldier’s duty demanded, let him read the narrative of their actions, as told by themselves or their comrades, and be answered! In the whole literature of war I know nothing more realistic than Trooper Burn-Murdoch’s description of the incident in which he was a half-unconscious participator; when lying wounded he was taken from under fire by Captain Chamney, and finally carried out of action on horseback in that officer’s arms. The story is too characteristic of the battlefield to bear mutilation. For the sake of space, though with reluctance, some picturesque passages must be sacrificed; but, for the rest, as Trooper Burn-Murdoch told it originally in his letters to the ‘Englishman,’ he shall tell it again here:

The kopje which we had to hold looked down on a sloping plain, and at a distance varying from 700 to 1,100 yards off, and running nearly parallel with our kopjes, was a deep dry river bed or donga. This donga ran right up towards the Boer position. In my humble opinion we should have done better to have placed some dismounted men in this donga, and so prevented the enemy using it as a zigzag trench or covered way towards our position. Instead of this, we literally stuck to the kopje. And in the early part of the fight I noticed, and drew my mates’ attention to the fact, that a lot of Boers were riding towards this river bed, but never seemed to cross it.

As the day wore on our position on these kopjes became somewhat too warm to be pleasant. And, judging by the whistle of the bullets, we seemed to have the enemy on our left flank as well as in front. It was about this time that our gallant Major, who scorned to take cover, got two mortal bullet wounds through his lungs; our doctor very pluckily set to and cut off his tunic and plugged the bullet-holes, quite regardless of the heavy fire he was subjected to. But it was of no use; in a few moments the brave old soldier breathed his last. All he said was, ‘Ah, well, I’m done for ... it’s not so bad as I should have expected.’ But there was no time now to think of him or any other poor wounded comrade.

On we went, blazing away for dear life at the well-hidden enemy. Flat on our empty stomachs, wriggling from one stone to another, never daring to raise one’s head above a few inches from the ground. Whish! whish! phew! phew! came those deadly nickels, then ping-r-r-r would sound the ricocheting shots as they struck the stones and rocks a few inches from our faces, and shot up into the clear blue sky behind us with a shriek of unquenched bloodthirstiness. Thicker and thicker they came—and now we saw that the enemy were straight in front of us, having, as I had expected, ridden up under the cover of the river bed. Orders now came for us to retreat slowly from the right. So as soon as my turn came I let blaze a few rapid parting shots, and then ‘sniped’ back over the ridge to where Trooper Ducat was holding my sub-section’s horses. I can tell you that was an exciting little bit of a sprint, and the bullets striking all around me did not tend to retard my movements. However, I got back all right, and a few seconds later Trooper Stevenson turned up. As Trooper Thelwall had not joined us, I waited a few minutes with his horse. And rather an anxious wait that was. As he did not, however, arrive, I presumed that some Boer bullet had found him out. But I tied his horse to a stump in case he did come, and then, mounting, I galloped after the rest. It was uncommonly lucky that I did tie up his horse, as he afterwards, during a slight lull in the firing, managed to make a bolt over the kopje and down to his horse. One often hears it said that Mounted Infantry do not need to be much of riders so long as they can shoot straight. All I can say is, let a bad rider try to mount a fresh horse, with a large kit on the saddle and a heavy rifle in his left hand, and bullets and pom-pom shells whistling and cracking around, and he will agree with me in saying that every Mounted Infantryman ought to be a very fair rider before he can be of much use in a fight.

Gathering up my reins, I kept up a good gallop towards our next kopje, and was just congratulating myself that I was too skinny a target for any Boer bullets when poor old Demon came down with a fearful crash, shot by a Mauser bullet. I suppose I must have been stunned by the fall, as I have no recollection of seeing him again. When I came to, I found that my neck was fearfully stiff and sore, likewise all the left side of my head. And pain—by Jove! pain was no word for it. I lay there cursing and crawling about for some time, and was momentarily expecting to have a ‘sighting shot’ into me, when, bang! and I remembered no more. I have since heard that after this two of our chaps came along and, dismounting, turned me over and left me as a ‘green ’un.’ I remember dimly wondering what time of day it was, as all things seemingly were so dim and dark that I could not see. I then thought of tying up my head with my field dressing; but whether I did so or not I could not swear, as I was more or less ‘silly.’ It must have been a pom-pom or some other kind of shell bursting near me that did the damage. Recovering a certain amount of sensibility, I was endeavouring to get under some cover when Captain Chamney rode up. He shouted out to me apparently from a long distance off, as I could just hear him, ‘Hello, Mud’ook, what the tivil are you doing here? Badly hurt are ye? Come on, then, get a hold of my stirrup an’ I’ll take ye along wi’ me; ye’r far and away too good a man to leave behind.’ I told him, of course, to go on, as I was all right and would get behind a rock and have a rest; but the good old ‘Oirishman’ told me to get up at once as he ordered. And a good job it was, too, he did _order_ me to do so, or I’d have been resting there now. Just then Trooper Ducat came galloping up, and the two of them got me between them and trotted me along some hundreds of yards—it seemed miles to me. At last I got nearly unconscious, merely rolling along in a sort of mechanical style. But, try as much as I could, what with loss of blood and giddiness I could go no further, and as I was a mere dead weight on my two companions they halted, and I next remember myself sitting behind Captain Chamney with my blood sopping down his neck and khaki tunic, my head resting on his shoulder, and my hands locked round his body. How I got there I don’t know. I suppose they lifted me up somehow. Anyhow, there I was, and the good old commandeered Free Stater carried us well. I don’t remember much of that ride. Somebody else rode up alongside of me—I think it was Trooper Stevenson—and he, being Scotch, and therefore ‘economical,’ had pluckily picked up my rifle. So, with Ducat on one side and Stevenson on the other, alternately digging me in the ribs, I managed to hold on until we got to cover; and here Ducat, who, luckily for me, was a doctor, bound me up and gave me a drink. Gad! I was thirsty. Shortly afterwards one of Danjeboy’s Nepaulese ambulance tongas, which we had brought over from India with us, galloped up, and I was put inside. I don’t think that worthy Ghoorka driver liked the sound of Mausers any better than I did, for he simply galloped the whole way. Over stones, over scrub, over ruts. I shall never forget that ride. However, I got to the camp all right, and willing hands carried me to my tent, where I lay till dark with only a greatcoat for a pillow and a good solid piece of natural veldt for a bed. Towards evening Ducat came in, and with great kindness went and made me some cornflour, which I was able to eat. This was the first food I had had, barring three or four mouthfuls of stale bread, since 5 o’clock the night before.

Dr. Powell came back from the fight later. He had been tending the wounded and dying there. Tired and weary as he was, he at once set to and tied my head up, first shaving off some of my hair. I don’t remember much after this. I remember Sergeant Elliott (of Edinburgh) was brought into the tent with his foot shattered by a pom-pom, and we groaned out a duet throughout that night. In the fight Elliott was holding some horses when a pom-pom shell burst in their midst, shattering Elliott’s foot and finishing off several horses, including his own. Managing to get hold of another mount, he rode up and reported himself to Captain Noblett, by whom he was of course ordered to the rear. So, badly wounded as he was, Elliott rode those five miles back to camp unaided. Next day or the day after—I do not remember exactly, as I was unconscious for two or three days, off and on—the ambulance waggons drove up, and into them we were shoved. Colonel Lumsden, Captain Noblett, Captain Chamney, and Sergeant Hewitt, I think, all were there, seeing us off and helping us to ‘keep our peckers up.’ My one complaint was that Captain Chamney wanted to shave off my moustache when he was doing the V.C. trick on the veldt. I asked him why he wanted to. He was much surprised at the question, and told me in answer that ‘there were too many Boers doing the shaving for him to think of it himself.’ I must have imagined the whole thing, I suppose, when I was lying ‘silly.’


_Photo: Harrington_ HERBERT N. BETTS, D.C.M. ]

Another incident which was referred to briefly by Colonel Lumsden, who for obvious reasons did not make much of it, is thus described in detail by Trooper Preston:

Lumsden’s Horse was to do the work of advance guard and scouts. No. 2 Section, B Company, was chosen for the scouting, and immediately sent out, and very soon the whole of the 8th Mounted Infantry was spread over the plain. One sub-section (Troopers Franks, Were, Powis, and myself) were scouting ahead of everyone else. For the first three or four miles the ground was fairly level, with a few small kopjes with trees on them. Then there was a ridge of kopjes with a steep valley behind, and then another ridge. The scouts got to the first ridge of kopjes before seeing anyone, then two shots were heard in the distance, and a man on a big roan horse was seen galloping away. As the scouts rode between two kopjes on the first ridge, about sixteen men were seen to come out from the top of the ridge; immediately the scouts halted, looked at them through their field-glasses, and saw they were dressed in khaki. Before the scouts started they had been told to look out for some of General French’s men on their right. One of the officers coming up then (Lieutenant H.O. Pugh) looked at them, and saw the same as the others—that they were dressed in khaki. The scouts then rode round the kopje, intending to meet them. By this time the sixteen men had got down into the valley, and were making up the steep hill on the other side to the top of the kopje. Trooper Franks and I then went down the valley, intending to see who they were, while the other two went on to the right. The men had by this time got on to the sky-line, some dismounting and others sitting still. We rode half way down the valley (which was about two hundred yards across), and then halted and looked through our glasses. The men on the top then shouted out something and began to fire at us, so we turned and galloped for our lives. Trooper Franks, after riding about three hundred yards, began reeling in his saddle and tumbled off. Lieutenant Pugh and a few men then galloped up to him and found he was shot through the back and stomach. The bullets meanwhile were raining about them. Franks begged us to leave him, saying that as soon as we were gone the Boers would stop firing; so Lieutenant Pugh gave the order to leave him and return to the others, who by this time were lining the ridge behind, Lumsden’s Horse having the highest kopje to hold. As soon as our Colonel heard Franks was wounded he started off on foot, with Troopers Betts, Percy Smith, and Chapman, to fetch him. The Boers immediately advanced down their side of the valley, and began firing at the Colonel and his party. However, they were prepared for this, and after a few shots the Boers retired, the Colonel bringing Franks in on his own horse and walking beside.[5] Then we got the word passed to retire from the right. Perfect order was maintained, the men retiring one by one, the others keeping up a continuous fire until their turn came. At last everyone had got away except Lieutenant Crane and three or four more, whom the order to retire never reached. The Colonel and Adjutant were among the last to go away. The behaviour of the men was just as if they had been accustomed to that kind of thing all their lives, smoking, and firing at the same time, others lying behind rocks and writing letters to their relations and sweethearts. The Boers did not follow us up, and we reached camp safely, but very sad for the losses we had sustained.

Another version of these incidents, with such minor differences as help to give a clear conception of the whole scene, is furnished by the Special Correspondent of the ‘Indian Daily News,’ who, after describing the lucky escape of one scout, writes:

Trooper A.F. Franks, of the same sub-section, the very best of fellows and liked by everyone, was not so lucky, poor fellow. He accompanied Lieutenant H.O. Pugh in advance, but, seeing nothing, Franks suggested that he should go forward to the top of the donga or nullah in which they were standing; but on reaching the top he was confronted by thirty or forty of the enemy about three hundred yards away. They beckoned to him and spoke to him in Dutch, presumably inquiring who he was; without waiting for a reply, however, they opened fire, and Franks then turned and retired. He had not gone far before he was struck, the bullet going through his back and coming out just below the heart. He managed to stick on his saddle till he reached Lieutenant Pugh, who caught his horse by the head and led him towards the kopje above mentioned as occupied by us. Franks was in such pain that he was unable to bear the jolting of the horse, and so he had to be laid down on the plain for the time being. Lieutenant Pugh and other men who had come up in the meantime then retired to the kopje to report the state of affairs to Colonel Lumsden. All this time, of course, the bullets were whistling about, and the wonder is that not more of us were shot. Two men were then sent in search of our doctor, and Colonel Lumsden, as soon as he heard what had happened, immediately ordered his horse and, accompanied by his orderly, Percy Smith, of A Company, and Private H.N. Betts, of B Company, on horseback—Private Chapman, of B Company, having previously gone down on foot on the same errand of mercy—rode forward to the spot. On reaching it our gallant Colonel insisted on dismounting and placing Franks on his horse, saying the animal was a quiet one, and, notwithstanding the urgent requests of the others that he would allow them to give up one of their horses to him, he insisted on walking the whole distance, quite regardless of the hail of bullets round him. Progress was naturally slow, as Franks complained of severe pain, but at last the kopje was reached, none of the party getting a scratch. They had a narrow escape; the Boers had evidently got the range to a nicety. They then started a brisk rifle fire on the kopje we were on, which we returned at every opportunity, but they kept themselves so well under cover that we had very poor chances of doing them any serious damage from our side. They gradually crept up closer and closer, coming down by twos and threes from a kopje about two thousand yards away, and taking up their position eventually behind a slope eight to nine hundred yards distant. A regular artillery duel, several of their shells bursting among the pom-poms and our own Maxim, but not doing much damage. I fancy our guns did a bit of killing, though the Boers afterwards acknowledged to four wounded only; our Maxim gave a very good account of itself. I understand our only casualties in this direction were two or three wounded horses. We were told afterwards that the day’s operations were only intended to be a reconnaissance in force to find out the enemy’s strength and position, after which large forces from the left and right would attempt to surround them. This being the case, at about 12 (we had been under fire for about four hours) a general retirement was ordered from the right. The Boers, seeing us retiring, were evidently emboldened to throw aside their usual cautious tactics, and advanced on us rapidly, very nearly rushing the kopje on which we were before we could get away. The writer’s horse, which had been tied to a tree, got away, and he would have been badly left, as in the hasty retreat we were obliged to make it was impossible to say who had gone on and who was left behind, but fortunately ‘Molly Riley,’ Mrs. Barrow’s well-known paper-chaser, was standing near a bush close by, and Private Were, who was just going off, stopped behind and helped to get hold of ‘Molly Riley.’ We then started to gallop off, but just then another man came running towards us much exhausted with scrambling down the kopje, and Were, saying he was quite fresh, pluckily got off and lent him his horse. Fortunately at that moment Captain Taylor, our Adjutant, galloped up with a spare horse, and, Were getting mounted, we all made away for our lives. We halted at a place some distance off, and it was only then we heard of our long tale of casualties. A Company suffered very heavily on the left flank, where part of them were lying in an exposed position. Besides this, there were several men missing, and it was not till we got into camp in the evening after roll-call was taken that the exact extent of our loss was known. Franks was left on the kopje with an orderly, as it was impossible to move him, and we heard next day that he was taken to the Boer hospital, and died there at 12 o’clock the same night. Among the wounded was Paymaster-Sergeant D.S. Fraser, well known in sporting circles in Calcutta. He had his horse shot under him, and was himself wounded in the thigh and captured by the Boers. Our ambulance went out next day and found that the Boers had buried all the dead, except Major Showers, whose body was brought back to camp and buried there. The service was a very impressive one, and was conducted by the Military Chaplain attached to the regiment camped close by. It was calculated to bring home to us all the stern realities of war.

Yet in a trooper’s diary immediately after the most pathetic entry we find it recorded that when rations were to be distributed by a process of division and subdivision ‘B—— argued at great length that one-fourth of two-thirds could not be the same as two-thirds of one-fourth,’ and the discussion took a heated turn. Such are the trifles that seem important to men who have just come out of a battle in which perhaps they were more than once close to the jaws of death. ‘Linesman,’ in those brilliant impressions of the war in Natal—always truthful in fact, but not invariably just in deduction—has recorded a very similar incident at Vaal Krantz, when, from a fire that was deafening, bewildering in its intensity of concentration on the British front,

some died, some were carried away on dripping stretchers before they could learn the full gamut. And the survivors? The few within the writer’s ken—quarrelled! During a lucid interval in the shelling, the regimental cooks had contrived to make and distribute tea to the men lying prone in their shelters. The distribution was not perhaps impartial. The menace of a 94-lb. shrapnel would make a liquor-measure uncertain with the eyes of a hundred Government inspectors glued upon it! So there arose a bickering. Tom down below must obviously have taken more than his share, else how came it that Mick above had to content himself with less? ‘Peace!’ yelled the monstrous shrapnel at the height of the argument; ‘Shut up!’ snapped the pom-pom shells; ‘Silence!’ boomed the far-off 40-pounder. Not a bit of it. No foreign-made projectile ever fired shall stop a Briton well under way with a grievance. That argument flourished amazingly under the shower, and only died away when the glaring sun overhead began to induce an unforgiving slumber.

Ridiculous, of course, such a scene must seem to civilians who have been fed on the heroics of a melodramatic school, or on the still falser ‘revelations’ of writers who, having never seen a battle, mix their own pusillanimous imaginings with so-called ‘psychological’ studies and ironically brand that mixture with the ‘red badge of courage’; but it is true to the nature of soldiers who are not always thinking great things while they do them, and who have often a laugh or an oath on their lips when their thoughts take a flight too serious for words. Burn-Murdoch has told us how, in the midst of a duel that was practically for life or death between some Boers and Lumsden’s Horse in this fight at Ospruit, men laughed outright at something that seemed to them ‘tearfully funny, coming as it did like the comedian’s joke in the middle of a tragedy.’ A soldier should make the best of valets because he is never a hero to himself. Yet he has a firm and never-to-be-shaken faith in the heroism of others. Lumsden’s Horse, many of them in imminent peril at the moment, watched their Colonel’s action in going out to bring the wounded Trooper Franks from a shot-withered slope to some place of comparative safety, and they afterwards declared it to be a valorous deed well worthy of the Victoria Cross. To that conclusion Sir Patrick Playfair also came when the story was told to him, and he said so. Thereupon Colonel Lumsden was much upset lest somebody might say that he, too, had been trying to win the coveted distinction. So he hastened to write a ‘disclaimer’ in these words:

What Sir Patrick really means, and heard about from some of my men, referred to the death of poor Franks, who was lying wounded on the veldt about 800 yards from the point we held on the extreme right of the fighting line. We could see him plainly through our glasses writhing evidently in great pain; and, as I asked for some volunteers to ride down and bring him in, I did not care to request them to do a thing I would not do myself, so rode down with my galloper, Trooper Percy Smith, now a captain in the Middlesex Regiment and a D.S.O., and Trooper Betts and Trooper Chapman, the latter of whom afterwards obtained a commission in the Johannesburg Police.

On reaching the spot we found Franks lying in great danger and pain. Having a quiet pony, ‘Harry Stuart,’ I dismounted, and we placed the wounded man on my horse, and while he was held by two of his comrades we walked back to camp under a pretty heavy fire from some Boers who were galloping on our left rear and firing at us. It was a foolish thing on my part to have done, but, as I said, we were all new to the game together, and I did not care to ask my men to risk their lives in an action in which I would not chance my own. That is all. There was nothing in it.

Yes, that is all! But let England, mother of nations, thank God for the sons who, doing such a deed, can say and think ‘there was nothing in it’!

Cold reason may bid us approve General Charles Tucker’s words of wise caution, but all the time our hearts will be beating time to a noble refrain, the notes of which have thrilled the nerves of British soldiers in all ages, urging them to risk their own lives rather than forsake a stricken comrade, and to die like gentlemen before they would let the stain of dishonour rest on them or their regiment. People who talk glibly of the necessity for encouraging initiative among junior officers may hold that Lieutenant Crane should have conformed to the general retirement, instead of holding his isolated post with untimely resolution, waiting for the orders that could not reach him, when the Boers began to close in on his front and flanks. Apparently no blame attaches to anybody for neglecting to recall Lieutenant Crane and his party at a time when they might have extricated themselves without serious loss. Colonel Ross says that the orderly whom he sent with the message was either killed or wounded, and so the recall never reached Lieutenant Crane. That it was sent both Colonel Ross and his Staff officer, Captain Williams (who has since been killed), were quite positive. In justice to Lieutenant Crane, it must be remembered that a company officer can know very little of what is going on at other points of a fighting line beyond the immediate limits assigned to him, and the privilege of initiative might be strained to a dangerous extent if every section-leader should consider it discreet to retire directly he found himself pressed sorely or somebody else giving way on either flank. In Colonel Lumsden’s words—so eloquent because of their undemonstrative simplicity—Lieutenant Crane ‘deemed it his duty to hold his position as long as possible.’ How many thousands of times in the course of our ‘rough island story’ has the Empire had cause to be thankful to the men who could thus interpret duty as a thing above all personal considerations, calling for self-sacrifice to the end! It was part of the white man’s burden which Lieutenant Crane and his comrades of No. 2 Section had taken upon them long ago, when they settled as indigo-planters in the wilds of Behar, Mozufferpore, and Saran, where Europeans are few and natives many. In such districts the Sahib’s lot may be to face a riotous multitude of frenzied fanatics at any moment, and he must fight it out single-handed, dying if need be under cruel torture, but never showing fear. That was the training-school from which No. 2 Section of A Company came. They were indigo-planters to a man, self-reliant and imbued with a high sense of the Sahib’s responsibility to the race from which he springs. Knowing this, we cannot wonder that the leader deemed it his duty to fight for the ground he had been ordered to hold rather than give way an inch, no matter what odds were against him; or that, when he fell wounded, with Clayton Daubney, Henry Lumsden, and Upton Case dead beside him, others chose to share his fate instead of leaving him to the tender mercies of their enemies. To such men no thought of surrender could have come. Corporal Firth had a chance of getting away, but he went back to where his wounded officer and some old comrades from Mozufferpore were lying under heavy fire, and elected to stay with them as they held the Boers in check until nearly every cartridge was expended. Not before Daubney, Case, and Lumsden had been killed, Cyril Marsham, Stewart McNamara, Helme Firth, Gwatkin Williams, McGillivray, and Macdonald wounded did the Boers succeed in making any prisoners among the little band of indigo-planters, whom they had by that time practically surrounded within point-blank range. No white flag was hoisted and there were no ‘hands up,’ but rifles dropped from the nerveless grip of men who had fought till they were faint with loss of blood and there was no power in the numb fingers to press a trigger. Others laid down the weapons that were useless when their last cartridge had been fired; and then the Boers, closing in upon them, made prisoners of all who survived. If anybody blundered, the mistake was nobly atoned for. It is a story of which Lumsden’s Horse and the whole Empire may be proud.

An early version of this incident, not quite accurate in some details, furnished a noble theme for the pen of Sir A. Conan Doyle, who, in his history of ‘The Great Boer War,’ writes, with a patriot’s enthusiasm and an enthusiast’s glorious disregard of fettering figures, as follows:

Before entering upon a description of that great and decisive movement (the advance on Pretoria), one small action calls for comment. This was the cutting off of twenty[6] men of Lumsden’s Horse in a reconnaissance at Karree. The small post under Lieutenant Crane found themselves by some misunderstanding isolated in the midst of the enemy. Refusing to hoist the flag of shame, they fought their way out, losing half[7] their number, while of the other half it is said that there was not one who could not show bullet marks upon his clothes or person. The men of this corps, Volunteer Anglo-Indians, had abandoned the ease and even luxury of Eastern life for the hard fare and rough fighting of this most trying campaign. In coming they had set the whole Empire an object-lesson in spirit, and now on their first field they set the Army an example of military virtue. The proud traditions of Outram’s Volunteers have been upheld by the men of Lumsden’s Horse.




Unsympathetic critics may discover a lack of due proportion in the space that has been devoted to this affair at Ospruit, seeing that it was but an episode in a long chain of operations, the whole of which are dealt with in a single paragraph of the Commander-in-Chief’s despatches. But the same argument might be urged against any enlargement in monograph on the official version of Brigadier-General Mahon’s brilliant march for relieving Mafeking, to which no writer has done full justice yet, though there is evidence that the Boers regarded it as the first ‘slim thing’ achieved by a British commander, and as a stroke of daring leadership by which they were completely outwitted. Many similar examples, not so conspicuous perhaps, but all material in their bearing on the greater issues of a campaign, and therefore worthy of elaborate treatment in detail, might be quoted. The Editor can at any rate plead that this is a history of Lumsden’s Horse, and not an essay in perspective. For that reason he has chosen to reproduce impressions of the different incidents, not as they might have presented themselves to the mind of a divisional general or an unemotional spectator, but as they burnt themselves in upon the brains of men actually fighting for their lives, and to use as nearly as possible each writer’s own words. It may seem strange that through all these narratives, from the Colonel’s purposely restrained and undemonstrative summary to the details that are told with most convincing force, we can trace no signs of depression resulting from the fact that Lumsden’s Horse in their first fight were forced to retire instead of taking part in a victorious advance. This is a touch happily characteristic of British soldiers. Conscious of having done their duty manfully, they were content to let the issue be what it might, so long as they had not lost confidence in themselves or in their leaders. There was nothing of the beaten soldier about them; no demoralisation, no sullen discontent, no sham heroics covering a sense of discomfiture. Whether they had to come back from their sacrifices because the enemy was in superior force, or simply because the object of a reconnaissance ‘had been achieved,’ mattered little to them. As Tommy would have phrased it in his expressive way, ‘it was all in the day’s work.’ Victory is sweet, no doubt, and men from whose lips that cup has been dashed cannot but feel a little bitterness in their hearts, but it is only the bitterness of a wholesome tonic. For soldiers who have suffered so there is always consolation in the knowledge that their sacrifices were not borne in vain. And Lumsden’s Horse may take satisfaction from the thought that their first fight, with all its sad and glorious consequence, was not brought about by any useless demonstration without plan or purpose. Though none of them could know it at the time, they had been engaged with De la Rey’s force, by which General Ian Hamilton’s left flank was being seriously threatened along the Brandfort ridges, and their action, which seemed to them indecisive, had so far relieved the pressure that Sir Ian was able the next day to deliver his attack on Houtnek and drive the Boers from it in some confusion. The apparent failure of General Maxwell’s brigade to carry out the mission assigned to it in the flanking movement mentioned by Colonel Lumsden may be accounted for by the fact that some of the Brandfort commandos, finding themselves in danger of being cut off, had drawn back from the contemplated movement against Ian Hamilton and thrown themselves into the fight that was then raging about the spurs and kopjes of the range from which Ospruit springs. Thus they outnumbered many times the mounted troops under Colonel Henry, who, having achieved his object, wisely retired from the left, leaving the Boers in occupation of the ground they had won, but leaving them also held firmly in check there by Infantry brigades, whose presence prevented any further demonstration from Brandfort against Ian Hamilton’s left. When Lumsden’s Horse marched back to their camp that night, therefore, they might have congratulated themselves—though they didn’t—on having done remarkably good service by something more than a reconnaissance in force. The immediate result may be summed up in a few words. General Hamilton, reinforced by another Infantry brigade and by General Broadwood’s Cavalry, who rejoined him from Thaba ’Nchu way during the night, was enabled to advance early on May 1 and strike a strong blow by which, as Lord Roberts said in his despatch, ‘the enemy was signally defeated at Houtnek with comparatively small loss on our side, thanks to the admirable dispositions made by Major-General Ian Hamilton.’ To this comment Lord Roberts adds an expression of regret that the troops employed at Dewetsdorp and Wepener had been unable to cut off the enemy’s retreat and capture his guns; but during these operations the Boers, being evidently prepared for retreat whenever their safety might be threatened, moved with very little baggage, each fighting man carrying his blankets and food on a led horse. It followed, therefore, that they could escape without suffering any loss beyond that inflicted by our troops in dislodging them from their positions. This was practically the official explanation, to which one may add that Cavalry alone could not follow up effectively the retreat of Mounted Infantry every man of which knew the country and how to utilise its peculiarities for checking pursuit. By his masterly stroke at Houtnek, however, General Hamilton had achieved something more than the capture of a Boer stronghold. At the end of that action his troops were astride of the most formidable defensive position between Bloemfontein and Vaal River, and an unopposed advance two days later to Isabellafontein not only took the enemy’s entrenchments on that side of Brandfort completely in reverse, but also effectually prevented De Wet from co-operating with De la Rey or Botha, and thus opened a way for the general movement towards Pretoria. Thus the fight at Ospruit, though it ended in a retirement against which some of the more adventurous spirits chafed, was a demonstration that helped materially towards the development of more important schemes; and to Lumsden’s Horse belongs the honour of having given to this affair an imperishable distinction by sacrifices that may have been unnecessary but were certainly not inglorious. The men who risked their lives and liberty, as Firth, Macdonald, and Williams did, in gallant efforts to rescue their wounded officer from a position which he had attempted to hold too long, are as worthy to be remembered as those who met their deaths in the fighting line. To the fallen, monuments have already been raised. Above the grave of young Harry Lumsden, who was buried beside Daubney and Case on the battlefield, a cross was put up by the Boers themselves, who, finding letters in his pocket, mistook him for the Colonel commanding Lumsden’s Horse, and buried him with the respect that they considered due to a brave enemy and leader of men. In the old camp at Spytfontein, to which the body of Major Showers was borne the next day, another simple memorial, pathetically distinguished by its loneliness, was raised by the comrades who paid their sorrowing tribute to him there, but brought away memories of his soldierly qualities, which they have honoured since by a more sumptuous monument in Bengal. The old soldier would probably have wished for no higher honour than the esteem of comrades whom he had trained in times of peace, and among whom he fell in their first fight. How sincere that esteem was may be gathered from simple narratives sent home by officers and men of Lumsden’s Horse, whose letters give incidental glimpses of heroic actions that might otherwise have passed into oblivion.

Lieutenant-Colonel W.R. Walker, officiating commandant, issued the following regimental order from the headquarters of the Surma Valley Light Horse, Silchar, dated July 10, 1900:

As everybody connected with the corps will no doubt wish to hear details of the death in action of our late Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel Eden C. Showers, I publish for information below particulars from a letter received by the Adjutant from Captain Chamney, of Lumsden’s Horse, written the day after the action in which Colonel Showers lost his life.

Captain Chamney says: Our corps were given the honour of the advance, the S.V.L.H. the honour of the first of that, and with Lumsden and old Showers at our head we occupied the kopje that was said to be the key of the whole position, but were instantly subjected to a heavy musketry fire. We lost one man and horse scouting, and then got settled down among some sangars, but the old Major scorned all cover, watching, absolutely regardless of the bullets, the enemy’s advance up a spruit on our right flank. Everyone had asked him to get down, but he always said, ‘Oh, I’m all right,’ and walked from one end of the line to the other. When all the rest had begun to retire, and we got no word, the Boers worked up closer and closer. I had only just said to him (he was but three or four yards behind me), ‘For God’s sake, Major, get under cover,’ when I heard the sing of bullets over my head and ‘plint,’ and, looking round, I saw he was hit. I said, ‘Are you hit, Major?’ and he replied, ‘Oh, nothing much, only my arm; send back for Dr. Powell.’ I crawled back on my belly to him and got his belts and things opened, and found also a big hole, just above the heart, which was bleeding copiously. Then Dr. Powell and two assistants came up, and we bandaged him as well as we could for bullets flying around, and, still on our bellies, pulled and lifted the old chap out of the range of fire. He was suffering evidently a good deal from suffocation; blood in his lungs, I suppose. I stayed with him as long as he was conscious—not many minutes—and had then to return to the men. I found him as we retired a little later there under the tree where we had laid him, and where we had to leave him and another man to the Boers. The ‘Retire’ came before he died, and Dr. Powell, making up his mind to stay with him, fixed his handkerchief to a stick to get what protection he could from it. However, the old chap dropped off, and, covering him with a blanket and closing his eyes, the Doctor left him to his rest and bolted, but, looking back, he saw the white flag, and saying, ‘What would the old man say if he knew he was taken, even dead, with a white flag over him?’ returned and took it down, and so we left him. The Boers took nothing but his spurs and badges. Dr. Powell returned at night under a Red Cross and got permission to remove the body to-day and we bury the old man this afternoon. It is a terrible loss to the corps, and all so utterly sad.

There is something almost Homeric in that incident of the white flag being taken from beside the dead warrior’s body under fire.

The ‘Times of India’ of May 9, 1900, contains the following appreciation of the gallant Major Showers:

Among those of Lumsden’s Horse killed in the fighting in the Orange Free State on the 30th ult. was Major Eden Showers. He was until recently the Commandant of the Surma Valley Light Horse, and by his example exercised a wonderful influence over all ranks. He was a son of General Showers, who did splendid work in the Mutiny days, and made his name famous by his courageous leading of the assault at Delhi on September 13, 1857. Major Showers was educated at Wellington College, and entered the Army through Sandhurst in 1865. He served in the Dublin Fusiliers, the two battalions of which are now in Natal, one having been in Ladysmith and the other with the relieving force under General Buller. After serving with the regiment for nearly seven years the deceased officer left it with the rank of Adjutant, and joined the 2nd Life Guards, with which he remained for three years. After ten years’ service he left the army to take up tea-planting. He worked for some years at Katalguri under Messrs. Macniell & Co., but at the close of the season 1881-82 joined Messrs. Octavius Steel & Co., and was Superintendent of their Cherra Gardens up to the time he resigned to join Lumsden’s Horse. He was elected by his brother planters to command the Surma Valley Light Horse in March 1895, in succession to Colonel Milne, C.I.E., and his nomination was ratified by the Government. The selection proved that the Government had put the right man in the right place. While in command he worked the Light Horse up to a high degree of efficiency, as was shown by the approval of General Sir George Luck, who at the inspection in December last gave them unstinted praise. Among other things, the General stated that he could honestly say that the regiment could hold its own with the best Yeomanry corps at home, which was saying a great deal. Shortly after his resignation of the command of the Surma Valley Light Horse, Colonel Showers joined Lumsden’s Horse as Second-in-Command, with the rank of Major, serving under his old friend and former subordinate, Colonel Lumsden. His death is a severe loss to the corps, and is deeply deplored by a very large circle of friends, who found in him a man of sterling merit, splendid character, and a credit to the military profession he was so keen in following.

The following appears in the ‘Assam Gazette’:

The Officiating Chief Commissioner expresses the general feeling of the Province in deploring the death in action of Major E.C. Showers, Second-in-Command of the Indian Mounted Infantry Corps (Lumsden’s Horse) now serving in South Africa. As Commandant of the Surma Valley Light Horse for nearly five years he brought that body to a high state of efficiency by his soldierly qualities, his untiring devotion to the interests of the corps, and by his personal popularity among its members. His untimely death is a serious loss to Assam, and will be mourned by the officers and men of the corps. He was loved by all who knew him.

The Hon. H.J.S. Cotton, Chief Commissioner of Assam (now Sir Henry Cotton, K.C.S.I.), presiding at the Assam Dinner in London in June 1900, paid the following tribute to Major Showers:

Another gentleman had been pathetically alluded to both by Colonel Kirwan and Colonel MacLaughlin, and the mention of his name recalled a recent public dinner at Cachar, given as a send-off to Colonel Showers and other Volunteers. The admiration which all the Volunteers of Assam had for Colonel Showers was, indeed, a thing to have witnessed. When he rose to propose Colonel Showers’s health the cheering was vociferous and so continuous that it was at least ten minutes before he could get any hearing. He had never been present at a scene of such extraordinary enthusiasm, and he believed it was thoroughly well deserved. Colonel Showers was an exceptional man; thoroughly straightforward and practical, and a born leader of men. What was said of Jim Bludso might with equal truth be said of Colonel Showers:

‘A keerless man in his talk was Jim, And an awkward hand in a row; But he never funked and he never lied: I reckon he never know’d how.’

That was the type of man that Colonel Showers was—a simple-minded Englishman, true and staunch as steel, and courageous to the backbone. As Colonel Kirwan had told them, he died, as he would have wished to die, a soldier’s death. He was a soldier in his youth and became a soldier in his prime, and died for Queen and country. They were all proud of Lumsden’s Horse and of Colonel Showers, who died at the head of his men in the first battle in which they were engaged.

From these extracts, and especially from the episode in which Dr. Powell played such a gallant part, we may know that the Surma Valley Light Horse were worthy of the Colonel who had volunteered to serve in a subordinate capacity that he might be with them in their first campaign and whose memory they still revere. That all Assam may bear in mind how he had endeared himself to those who served with him, the men of that corps have caused a handsome monument to be wrought in red Aberdeen granite for erection in the country where they first enlisted as Volunteers under his command. Its gabled base forms a Gothic cross surmounted by an octagonal spire, and in one panel under a cusped arch is the following inscription:





Erected by the Members of his Corps.

Before this monument was shipped from Glasgow to Calcutta in September 1902 a sketch of it was sent by Mr. Peters, who had taken charge of all arrangements, to Lord Roberts. In acknowledgment the Commander-in-Chief wrote:

I have received with much pleasure your letter of the 16th instant, enclosing a drawing of the obelisk that is being erected by the members of the Surma Valley Light Horse in memory of their late gallant commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel Showers, and I am much obliged to you for sending it to me. I am glad the memorial is being erected, as I feel sure it will go far towards preserving and promoting that _esprit de corps_ which is so important a factor in all units of the forces of the British Empire.

It was _esprit de corps_, as Colonel Lumsden expressed it in the regimental motto, ‘Play the Game,’ that brought officers and troopers with distinction through their first fight, and the firmness with which it had taken hold of all ranks may be traced in tributes that show the finest spirit of comradeship.

The following letter, received by Colonel A.W. Rendell, commanding the East Indian Railway Volunteer Rifles, from Captain B.W. Holmes, who went with the Maxim gun of the E.I.R.V. Rifles attached to Lumsden’s Horse, is full of the sentiment from which mutual confidence springs:

Spytfontein, May 1.

DEAR COLONEL RENDELL,—I am writing to give you an account of the first action the gun has been in, and to tell you how admirably the men behaved in what were really very trying circumstances. When we left Calcutta I had the gun arranged to go on pack saddles on horses; but when we arrived here we found this would not do, as our animals were not properly trained, and in jumping about they were always knocking pieces of skin off and otherwise damaging themselves. We therefore fitted up one of our transport carts as a carriage, and with two mules as wheelers and four horses in front we get along pretty well. The first day we went out to fight we saw nothing, although there was a little firing about two miles from us. On the way we came to a very nasty piece of ground, and we succeeded in turning the gun head over heels down the side of a kopje. By a miracle it was not injured in the least, and I felt sure it must be going to do some work. Yesterday we went out again, and had only gone about four miles when firing began all along the line. We were on the right, next to a pom-pom; the Boer guns very soon found out the latter, and it had to be moved out of action. In the meanwhile I had been having a go at the Boer gunners at about 3,000 yards. No sooner had the pom-pom gone than a shell missed my head by about a foot, fell twenty yards behind me and burst, wounding four of my horses slightly. This wasn’t quite good enough and I got out of action as soon as I could, but not before they had sent two more shells right among us, or too close to be pleasant; the last one killed two horses and blew a trooper’s foot to pieces.

The Boers outnumbered us by about four to one, and shortly after this we received an order to retire with the rest, which we did. We had gone about half a mile, with rifle bullets sprinkling around us, when I was ordered to come into action behind a few stones that were lying on the plain. There wasn’t an atom of cover for my horses or the men holding them, although the gun was partly protected. I opened fire on the Boers at 1,000 yards, had fired about 250 rounds of rapid traversing fire when they began to retire. I fired about another 230, when the gun jammed, and at the same moment an officer came dashing up to tell me to retire immediately. We did so under a perfect hail of bullets, and although I had six horses wounded out of ten, not one of them was so badly injured as to be unable to go on, and not a single man of us was touched. After going about half a mile I gave my horse to Corbett to lead, and got into the cart and managed to get the gun into action again. We lost three belts and boxes in our hasty retirement, but that of course could not be helped. The men with me were Sergeant Bale, of Jubbulpur; Private Booth, of Howrah; Privates Dowd, Dickens, Corbett, and Burnand, of Jamalpur; and Private Bolst, of Asonsole; Private Burnand is my driver. There was one other man of Lumsden’s Horse with me, named Mercer, who was helping to hold horses. Sergeant Dale, Privates Booth, Corbett, and Bolst, and myself were on the gun. Colonel Ross, who was in charge of our brigade, expressed pleasure at the work done by the gun, and said that we knocked over several of the enemy, which was distinctly satisfactory. Our casualties were heavy. We lost our Second-in-Command (Major Showers) killed, Lieutenant Crane missing and wounded, and one private known to be killed, and probably one or two others of the wounded have since died, our killed, wounded, and missing being seventeen in all.

How our team escaped injury is to me little short of a miracle. The men behaved splendidly, and if ever we get into as tight a place again I have perfect confidence in their standing by me and the gun. Our ambulance is out now looking for wounded, but the Boers have probably attended to them long ago—at any rate, I hope so. Our men have certainly had their baptism of fire, and I for one should not object if we never got it as hot again.

You would hardly recognise the gun now, I fancy; it is a dirty khaki colour, with the paint knocked off it in, places and smothered with dirt and stuff outside. But the inside is, I think, quite as clean as when at Jamalpur; anyhow, it still knows how to work.

Yours very sincerely,


From the personal experiences of a non-commissioned officer who was wounded and captured by the Boers we get side-lights that help more than anything else towards a clear understanding of the temper and actions of men on the battlefield. To some extent this story touches on ground that has already been covered by previous descriptions. Partly for that reason, but mainly because it is a complete picture of one incident the nobility of which would have been lost if woven into the continuous narrative, it has been kept distinct, so that the writer’s impressions may be reproduced here with all the minor touches and bits of local colour that made them vivid at the time of occurrence. He begins with the march out of camp at 3 o’clock that memorable morning:

We fell in punctually and moved off to the rendezvous, the moon shining brightly and making wonderful black shadows among the surrounding kopjes-pronounced ‘koppies,’ by the way. The cold was intense, and numbed our fingers so that our reins could scarce be felt; The order to trot was received with satisfaction, for we were all shivering, men and horses alike. A few minutes later we joined company with a pom-pom battery of two guns, and a body of Mounted Infantry composed of Australians and details from various regiments. Our strength in all was, we have since heard, some 800, while the opposing Boers numbered three or four thousand, with several big guns. When our little band was complete, the order was given to trot, and we proceeded at a sharp pace for about a mile. Daylight was then breaking and a halt was called, the order being given to dismount and charge magazines—a sign of business received with much satisfaction. Thereafter we moved forward in extended order, with scouts in advance for three or four miles, when stray shots in front showed us that we were coming into touch with the enemy.

Before us the country lay in ridges running parallel with each other, and at right angles to our line of advance. As we surmounted each rising we expected to view the enemy, but the order to dismount came without our being vouchsafed any visible sign of their presence. Before us lay some 800 yards of rising ground, and we swarmed up in a long open line, fully expecting a volley ere we reached the top. However, our hour of trial had not yet come, though the scattered shots heard to our front as we advanced had increased to a sharp fusillade on our left front. The order then came to extend away into a narrow valley running at right angles and crossing the ends of the succession of ridges we had covered. Thus, lying on the slope, we could see behind for a mile or so, and in the opposite direction, up the valley, right into the country which the enemy were known to occupy.

Shortly afterwards the music began in earnest. A mile up the valley a Boer big gun appeared and opened fire on troops advancing on the hill from our left rear. Then out came one of our pom-poms and, galloping into position, replied from the opposite end of the valley at a range of some 3,000 yards. The duel between the two lasted for about ten minutes, the pom-pom firing briskly as is its wont, the more ponderous Boer gun replying every two minutes. Lying on the slope as we were, in full view of the valley and within a hundred yards of the line of fire of the opposing guns, we had a splendid, not to say realistic, illustration of artillery fire. The singing of the big shells as they tore through the air was magnificent to our unaccustomed ears. It was curious, too, to observe the sequence in which indications of discharge and report reached us. The first sign that the Boer big gun had been fired was the little cloud of smoke floating near the muzzle. Next we heard the singing of the shell passing up the valley. This was followed by the dust raised by the explosion of the shell in bursting, and not until these evidences of a shot having been fired did we hear the actual report, which was closely followed by that of the bursting shell itself.

For some five minutes the duel proceeded, no evidence of the effect of the pom-pom fire being visible to our eyes, though it became evident that the Boers were finding the range, for each shell seemed to land nearer, until, as it seemed to us, one burst right in the middle of our gun. At that moment those of us on the slope heard rifle fire immediately behind. It proved to be our own regiment’s Maxim taking sighting shots at the Boer gun. This certainly made things livelier, but there was no comfort in realising that we lay right in the line of fire, and that replies from the enemy would probably land among us. However, the Boers took no notice of the Maxim, though it spat out bullets at a tremendous rate, but continued to devote their attention to the pom-pom. The greater weight of the Boer metal soon made matters too hot for Captain Rotton’s[8] little gun, and it shortly afterwards retired behind the hill, having lost several horses. Then our turn came, and the officious little Maxim, which had been kicking up a great shindy in our rear, drew the Boer fire. The first shot whizzed unpleasantly close to our heads and burst between us and the Maxim, which, undismayed, continued to pour out a hot fire. Number two was aimed slightly higher and travelled beyond the gun, killing two horses and wounding one man. The Maxim stuck it out pluckily for one more shell, but that fell so close that to have delayed any longer would have only been folly. On the retreat of our machine gun the Boer gun retired behind a kopje, and we were left in peace for a time, though the firing on our left had now greatly increased, and showed that a brisk fight was going on.

About 10 o’clock orders were received for part of my section to extend to the right, and six of us, in command of Sergeant Walter Walker, went right down into the valley. In our new position we were sheltered by a low rocky ridge on the left, but the ground was open in every other direction. The ridge referred to cut us off entirely from what was going on on our left, and this accounts for the misfortunes which followed.

Meanwhile the firing that had begun on our left earlier in the morning had increased tremendously. Bullets began to come our way very frequently, but as we were under the lee of a ridge they passed over our heads, evidently nearly spent, for the sharp ping of a newly-sped shot had changed with them into the melancholy wail of spirits that had lived and lived in vain. So great had the noise become that shouting to each other was ineffectual, not a word reaching even one’s next neighbour. So we lay and waited.

Suddenly it struck us that the chain of fire extending in a line to our left seemed to be swinging towards our left rear, and a few minutes’ attention confirmed an idea that the position of the opposing forces must have altered considerably. As we listened the firing seemed to increase in fierceness and sounded still further to the rear. The position had become uncomfortable, for our horses were 800 yards in our direct rear. To lose them would be fatal to our safety; the six of us, therefore, got up and began to retire slowly, wondering that no orders had reached us.

[Illustration: BUGLER R.H. MACKENZIE]

A shower of bullets swept past, singing in our ears with spiteful distinctness. Looking round I saw, barely fifty yards away, two-score Boers kneeling and firing away for all they were worth. A second look was unnecessary, and we ran like deer, the bullets whizzing by thick as hail. It was amazing that none of us was hit. Bullets seemed to me to be pouring between my legs and under my feet. A little rising gave us momentary protection, but the Boers came on again until within fifty yards, and poured a hot fire into us. Two hundred yards away we could see our horses and near them the rest of the section, which had got earlier notice of the repulse of our troops, galloping away. Each man got to his horse, but they shouted to me that mine had been killed by a shell. It was not a pleasant predicament, but before I had time to realise that the Boers must either shoot or capture me, Bugler Mackenzie galloped up and offered me a lift behind him. I was dead beat with running and quite unequal to violent effort. I put my foot in the stirrup he released, and tried to climb up. But my bandolier, haversack, and water-bottle all bunched in front and caught the blanket tied on at the pommel of the high military saddle. Back I flopped on to the ground. Another effort, and I nearly pulled Mackenzie, who was a light boy, out of the saddle. The firing all the time was very hot, and, fearing to bring disaster on all of us, I ordered Mackenzie off. But he would not budge until Saunders and Parkes between them helped me up behind the first-named. What a relief it was to feel the ground slipping past and to know we were getting out of such a desperate scrape! The Boer fire had slackened for a little, but the reason was that they had mounted and galloped up to within close range. Again they opened, and once more the ground all around was dusted up and the air alive with singing bullets. It was too much to hope for escape a second time, and sure enough, before we had gone a hundred yards, the gallant gee with his double load fell heavily to earth, a bullet having struck him. Being perched high up, I reached the ground first with a thud I hope never to experience again. Saunders then fell on top of me, and the horse crashed heavily across both of us, kicking me on the shoulder as he rolled over.

[Illustration: E.B. PARKES]

I must have been stunned for a moment, but soon recovered my senses and realised that I had broken nothing nor been hit by a bullet. Saunders lay very still within ten feet of me, and I feared he was dead. But cautious inquiry elicited a reply. He was all right, but complained of being unable to move one arm, and we assumed it was broken. All this time the firing continued, evidently directed at our retreating section. Judge of my astonishment, on looking up to see why it should suddenly have increased in our immediate neighbourhood, to observe Parkes riding back to us. He had pulled up as quickly as he could when he noticed our disaster. Seeing Saunders lying quiet, he offered to take me on his horse, but I shouted to him to clear off, as he was endangering his own life as well as drawing the fire on us. I could not have left Saunders after his having stopped to take me up, and for Parkes and myself to have helped him away in the midst of such a murderous fire would have been folly. Very reluctantly Parkes galloped off. His horse shortly afterwards was shot under him, but he managed to get away by running. As for myself, I was so shaken I could not have gone far on foot, besides which I was already exhausted by running. In any case, to have got up and attempted escape with the enemy in such force and at such close range would have been madness. I accordingly lay very still and called to Saunders to do likewise. Immediately afterwards a party of Boers some 300 strong swept past us on horseback, evidently in pursuit of our retiring troops, and then began a very trying part of our experience. The Boers were some hundreds of yards in front lying on the face of a slope, and we got the full benefit of a very hot fire directed against them. Three shells from our own guns burst all around, and the fire of a pom-pom sighted a little too high tore up the ground close on our left. Bullets fell all around us and between us; so embarrassing was the situation that I began to look about for cover. But turning round I saw a Boer some hundred yards away steadily looking at us from under the lee of a rock. Whenever he saw me turn he dropped on to his knee and levelled his rifle. Quickly I lay like one dead, and whispered hoarsely to Saunders not to move for his life. It was an anxious wait. No bullet came, and the Boer, seeing us remain still, stole cautiously up to where he could see our faces. Realising we were helpless, he dropped his rifle and came up, assuring us he would not harm us. He rolled Saunders round, took a valuable set of glasses from him, as well as belt, purse, knife, water-bottle, and everything worth having. He was about to commence operations on me, and I was wondering if it would be worth while to make a dash for his rifle, when he got up and cleared off. The cause was the approach of a Boer doctor, who came up and most kindly inquired if we were wounded. Finding nothing seriously the matter with us, he explained that he must move on to more dangerous cases, but promised to come back and attend to us later on. Then a large party of Boers suddenly surrounded us. They stripped me of my belt, to which was attached a fine knife and a good compass; also bandolier, ammunition, and water-bottle, the latter evidently a much appreciated prize. I begged to have my knife back, as it was a present from a dear friend. To my astonishment, it was handed back to me. Then one offered to buy it, but was quashed by the others, who said it was a shame to want from me what I valued so much. Then we were helped up and marched off towards the ambulance, Saunders suffering considerably from his arm, I feeling sound enough but very sick and giddy. Round the ambulance cart was a large crowd of Boers, evidently enjoying the shelter of the Red Cross. They looked curiously at us, and the bolder asked for our spurs and badges. We parted with these, but protested at a request to give up our leathern gaiters. A doctor bound up Saunders’s arm, and we were sent off in charge of three guards to the Boer laager which lay over the hill to the north. After a bit one of the Boers, observing me to move very groggily, put me on his horse. But Saunders, though his arm pained him a good deal, had to walk.

In their first fight, and on many occasions afterwards, Lumsden’s Horse bore testimony to the sportsmanlike qualities and humanity of their enemies, especially towards men who were lying wounded and helpless on the field. Writing many months afterwards, Colonel Lumsden gave some affecting instances by way of illustration, and several of these were connected with the affair at Houtnek, though their interesting sequels were not known in some cases until near the close of the campaign. These may be given in Colonel Lumsden’s words. He writes:

‘One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin.’ Many kindly actions on the part of the Boers have gone unrecorded in the present campaign. I cannot, however, allow one or two which came under my special notice to pass without mention.

On April 30, 1900, when we were engaged with that clever General De la Rey, my scouts, while reconnoitring under Lieutenant Pugh, far in advance of the main body, came suddenly upon a well-concealed Boer outpost, who opened fire on them, wounding poor Franks severely. Pugh stuck to him gallantly, making for where he considered our leading column would be. Franks, however, got so weak that Lieutenant Pugh and the other two scouts had to dismount him and leave him on the veldt. Later in the day, when the enemy’s fire slackened, some friends of Franks were able to go out and carry him in and place him in the hands of Dr. Powell, who did all that was possible for him in the circumstances. We were holding an untenable position, and when the order came to retire early in the afternoon, poor Franks had to be left until an ambulance might be got to carry him back to our headquarters camp at Spytfontein. Shortly after our retirement from the spot where he lay the Boers occupied the ground we had left, and, finding Franks, treated him with every kindness and attention. It was the last we saw of him. Some five days later, at the fight near Brandfort, a Boer ambulance containing several wounded Boers and with Doctor Everard in charge fell into our hands. On my riding up to interview the latter, he asked if we were not Lumsden’s Horse, and on my replying in the affirmative he said, ‘One of your men, named Franks, fell into our hands on April 30, and was under my care. I did all I could for him, but the poor fellow died.’ Then producing a small note-book from his pocket he said, ‘In this I have noted when and where he was buried. I also found on his person two sovereigns and two rings.’ These the doctor handed to me with a request that I would be good enough to forward them to the boy’s mother. I thanked him most gratefully for what he had done on behalf of my late comrade, and in due course was able to forward, through Trooper Preston, the relics handed to me to Mrs. Franks, of The Chase, Clapham Common, London.

On the same day (April 30), Lieutenant Crane, with a small detachment of my corps, was sent by Colonel Ross, our commanding officer, to occupy a low-lying kopje on our left front. They were attacked by an overwhelming number of the enemy, and nearly the whole of the little lot were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, as they maintained their position to the last. Lieutenant Crane himself, being badly shot in the groin, was lying in an exposed position unseen by us, and under fire of our own Maxim gun, which was playing on the kopje now occupied by the Boers, and in imminent risk of being killed by our own fire. Suddenly one of the Boers came forward amidst a hail of bullets, lifted up Lieutenant Crane, and carried him to a place of safety. Many a V.C. has been gained by doing a similar action. This story was subsequently corroborated by Lieutenant Crane, who told me that the man who behaved so gallantly towards him was named Meyers.

Strange to relate, in the following September when that ideal Cavalry leader, General French, made his brilliant dash on Barberton—a feature of the campaign on which I think too little has been said, and not sufficient credit given to the leadership and pluck of the gallant General—Lumsden’s Horse comprised his rearguard, under the command of General Mahon, of Mafeking fame. As we rode up the heights prior to following General French’s force into the Barberton Valley, we came across several Boer families living in tents and grazing their cattle on the veldt. I rode up to one of the tents and was chatting with a stalwart Boer and his family. He immediately spotted what corps we were and said, ‘Oh, we fought against you at Houtnek.’ I asked his name, and he said Meyers. I then shook hands with him gratefully and said, ‘You are the man who carried my subaltern, Crane, at the risk of your life into a place of safety on that day.’ He brought me a cup of coffee, and while I was chatting pleasantly with his wife and family he said, ‘Have you got a man with you of the name of McGillivray? I remember him well, a big Scotchman. We took him prisoner that day, and on our way to Pretoria I had the pleasure of dividing a couple of bottles of whisky between him and one or two of his comrades also in our hands.’ As this Boer was living quietly on the veldt, and not in the fighting line, I had the pleasure of getting a pass for himself and his family by way of showing some practical gratitude for his kind and plucky treatment of my comrades.


Footnote 5:

Franks was left afterwards on the kopje, where he had been placed by Colonel Lumsden, and the Boers took him to hospital, where he died at midnight.—ED.

Footnote 6:

Really fourteen.—ED.

Footnote 7:

More than two-thirds.—ED.

Footnote 8:

Now Brevet-Major.-ED.



To be carried off captive after the first hot skirmish into which one has gone full of confidence and hope is a trying experience for any soldier, and especially for those who are conscious of having done manful deeds deserving a better fate. In these circumstances, however, it implies no humiliation, but only a feeling of rebellious resentment against the fortunes of war that have, at one fell stroke, swept away all hopes of further distinction, dashed every ambitious plan, and severed for a time at least all pleasant associations with comrades whose friendship is never so truly appreciated under other conditions as it is amid the rough campaigning experiences that try the temper and the mettle of all men. The full sense of everything that has been lost comes upon war-prisoners in the first hours of their captivity with the crushing force of a hopeless defeat, so that they cannot even find it in their hearts to be thankful for the lives that have been spared to them. If this is so in the case of men to whom loss of liberty means no reproach and who have the proud consciousness that they did not purchase safety by unfaithfulness to their trust, how much sharper must the sting be to those who by pusillanimous surrender have brought the dark shadow of dishonour on themselves and stained the proud blazonry of regimental distinctions! Happily, British soldiers have not often gone into captivity with that stigma resting on them; and, though critics at home were ungenerously prone to assume that the ‘flag of shame’ had been hoisted too readily in some fights against the Boers, they would have told a different story if it had been their lot to lie on the bare veldt within rifle-range of hidden enemies under whose deadly fire it is even more dangerous to go back than to go forward. The idea of wresting victory by a rush or wriggling up to it through zone after zone of hailing bullets across four or five hundred yards of open ground could only have commended itself to tacticians comfortably ensconced in arm-chairs far from the buzz and boom of war. Hemmed in by a girdle of fire that cannot possibly be broken by a charge across such distances, men must either lie down like sheep to be slaughtered, or walk to their deaths with eyes open, making useless sacrifices, or surrender; and none but a braggart who had never been under fire would dare to hurl the poisoned arrows of reproach at brave men upon whom the last alternative has been forced. Every soldier knows how unjust is that journalistic phrase ‘an easy surrender.’ Nobody could have written it if he had thought for a moment of the bitterness that is in the hearts of men who have to yield under the white flag; yet it is not necessarily an emblem of shame for all that. Lumsden’s Horse did not hoist it in their direst extremity, but they would be the last to jeer at men who have passed through such an ordeal. If ever captives had the right to hold up their heads in the presence of triumphant enemies, those men were the troopers of Lumsden’s Horse who had sacrificed themselves rather than abandon a wounded comrade. One of them, Corporal Firth, a prisoner in the hands of the Boers, wrote to his parents from Waterval on May 7, 1900:

You will by this time have seen that I am now a prisoner of war from the published lists in the papers. I will just give you an outline of what happened on the 30th ult. An officer, two non-commissioned officers, and eleven men were told off to hold a hill as a guard against an attack on the right of a body advancing from our centre; this centre body had to retire, and we, receiving no orders, held on as long as possible until forced to retire, which we did, having five killed, our officer wounded, and four taken prisoners, leaving only four who escaped to tell the tale. I could have got away, only went back to the assistance of our officer, who was wounded about ten yards behind me. I bound him up under a heavy fire, and Providence must have watched over me that day, as bullets in hundreds were flying all round me. I am in good health and received very kind treatment from the hands of my captors, of which I will write more on another occasion, as I am not yet settled down in my new surroundings.

How he and his fellow-prisoners fared after they had fallen into the power of their enemies is a story told with graphic picturesqueness in the following letters from Sergeant Fraser, who was surrounded by Boers when he lay bruised by a heavy fall in company with Trooper Saunders, who had gallantly risked his own life in an attempt to bring Fraser out from under fire:


_Photo: Johnston and Hoffmann._ SERGEANT DAVID S. FRASER ]

We had imagined that our destination was comparatively close, but we covered mile after mile without any more satisfaction from our guards than that it was over the next kopje. The column wound in and out among many hills ere a halt was called. Though we had started about 11 in the morning, it was not until 4 o’clock in the afternoon that our escort stopped at an ambulance tent, which was in charge of a hospitable Swiss doctor. We had had nothing to eat all day. In the hurry of getting ready so early in the morning neither of us had time to think of food, and our day’s rations were in our saddles, now in the hands of the Boers. So the good Swiss fed us plentifully with soup, meat, and coffee. He examined me and found only bruises. Saunders’s arm was much swollen, and the surgeon could not ascertain what the damage was. It afterwards turned out that the muscles were lacerated and one of the bones in the forearm cracked.

In the doctor’s tent was a wounded officer, Lieutenant and Adjutant Lilley, of the Victorian Mounted Rifles. He, poor chap, had been shot through the head during the same engagement, and had been brought in a waggon from the field. He recognised us in so far as to repeat the name of our regiment, but seemed woefully wounded and repeatedly broke out in delirium. The doctor who had been so kind to us seemed assiduous in his attentions, and I am sure everything possible was done for the poor Australian. We heard afterwards that he had been left in hospital at Brandfort by the Boers, and found by our troops a few days afterwards, when they took possession of that place. He subsequently died from the wound, which was caused by a bullet passing through his brain. Marching for another mile we came to the Boer laager at dusk. Those in camp met us kindly, more particularly as the news given by our guards was that their own commando had apparently scored a victory. They gave us coffee at once, and a place to lie down and rest. And thus began our captivity.

While Saunders and myself were recovering from our exertions, discussing the events of the day, and generally commiserating each other upon our misfortunes, we were much cheered to perceive the approach of two men attired in khaki and helmets. These proved to be Sergeant-Major Healy, of the Victorian Rifles, and Private Simmons, of the Duke of Cornwall’s Regiment’s Mounted Infantry. Both had fearful things to relate of the morning’s action. They had been through all the heavy fighting preceding the occupation of Bloemfontein, and agreed that never had they experienced such hot fire as on this particular morning. About 8 o’clock our guards supplied us with bread and coffee, and pieces of biltong, stuck on a wire, that had been thrust into a fire. They then accommodated us with a tent, a blanket apiece, and an empty sack or two—for we had no coats, and the cold was intense. In such comfort as we could make for ourselves with these limited resources we lay down, and soon slept the sleep of the weary. It seemed but a few minutes since we had turned in when we were awakened with rough kindliness, and turned out of our tent. The bulk of the commando had returned to camp after a successful but wearisome day, and the owners of the tent wanted their own. So out we got into the bitter cold. They placed us between two tents, and we arranged ourselves a second time as best we could. Despite the lack of warmth and comfort, we slept heavily, and the sun was high in the heavens next morning ere we awoke.

Bread and coffee formed our breakfast, and this meagre meal was welcome enough. Our guards themselves had no more, so we could not complain. As the morning wore on, the sun became rather trying, and once again we were accommodated with a tent, wherein we discussed at length the events of yesterday. As this conversation turned inevitably to our own capture, needless to say we gradually began to despond. But we were shortly to have our hearts lightened by the discovery of fellow sufferers—how company in trouble eases one! In marched Firth, McGillivray, Macdonald, Petersen, and Williams, of our own corps, followed by Coghlan, of Sergeant-Major Healy’s regiment. Coghlan had a broken leg, done up in plaster of Paris, and lay on an ambulance pallet. Needless to say, we had much to tell each other, and Saunders and myself then heard how Franks, Case, Daubney, and H.C. Lumsden had been killed, and Lieutenant Crane wounded and a prisoner. It was not until afterwards we heard that Major Showers had been killed and several others wounded on the same day.

The frugal fare of the morning was repeated in the afternoon, except in the case of the bread. Of it the Boers had none, but they furnished us with a plentiful supply of a kind of rusk. This appeared to be simply broken bread dried in an oven. It made a very good meal, but tried those of us whose teeth had been somewhat worn down by eating _moorghis_[9] in India.

To march forth in the morning with a gun in your hand to fight your country’s battles; to endanger your life that you may return to your female relatives, decorated and a hero; to hear the vicious ping of bullets, the shrieking of shells, and know yourself alarmed but undismayed, are fine things. But to sit at night in the enemy’s laager with wings clipped, no gun, and a sinking stomach is so untoward a thing that a man who suffers it may well question the reason of his birth and entertain hopes that the world is about to end.

Six of us sat in the dusky light of a tent in a Boer laager near Brandfort, and our own mothers could not have comforted us. It wasn’t as if we had had a bellyful of fighting, like others who had begun the campaign in Cape Colony, or as if after a tremendous struggle we had been overpowered. Without practically a chance to retaliate, we had been deluged with bullets that went by in such numbers you could hear them rattle against each other in their flight. Then instead of the bullets came the Boers, and we were prisoners—hands up, pockets empty, hopes vanished!—this in our first fight!

When night had fallen, the sentries—there were two of them, with loaded rifles and revolvers—passed us in a big kettle in which had been boiled water and, they said, coffee.

One of us sadly asked if they had put in sugar as well, and on receiving a reply in the affirmative, murmured, ‘What good hot water!’ Then we munched away at rusks, of which light and tasteless provender they chucked us in a quantity in the bottom of a sack, and I wondered if the nourishment contained therein would compensate for the energy expended in chewing them. I know I registered a mental vow never to feed my horses on bran alone if ever I got back to India. A few of us had pipes, and there was no difficulty about Boer tobacco; but here, again, one was reminded of bran, for although the colour was not quite the same the taste was nearly identical with what I imagine bran would give if smoked. As it grew late the cold increased, and by 9 o’clock we were shivering. Those of us who had managed to retain their greatcoats were not so badly off, but others, who had nothing but thin khaki tunics, suffered considerably. On representing matters to the sentries, they procured for us a few blankets and empty sacks, and, huddled together, each man endeavoured to sleep to the chatter of his neighbour’s teeth.

The laager next morning showed signs of great activity. A large patrol was about to start in the direction of the British lines, and the two hundred or so composing this body shook hands, every man of them, with half a dozen of their comrades, who, it afterwards turned out, were to form our escort to Pretoria. According to our preconceived ideas of how troops should move out of camp the behaviour of the Boers seemed absurd. No word of command appeared to be given, but in a moment the aspect of the camp that had been full of men lolling about, talking and skylarking, was changed. Horses were saddled, bridled, and mounted in a matter of seconds, the ceremony of hand-shaking gone through, and in less than five minutes from the first impulse which set them getting ready the patrol had disappeared over the skyline. Some were trotting, some cantering, and there was no attempt at formation; but none the less their method, or want of it, was effective, and one could not help being impressed with the individual independence of each man, combined, as it was, with complete unanimity of object in the whole body.

Our turn came next, and we made our little preparations to start. These consisted mostly of buttoning up, and, indeed, there was a charming sense of irresponsibility in having no arrangements to make, no packing to do, no _hookums_[10] to give. For our conveyance was prepared a buck-waggon, with the appearance of which the illustrated papers have made all the world familiar. Twelve mules were stuck in front, the driver cracked his whip, and the caravan was ready. Down the centre of the waggon, on a mattress, and propped about with rolled-up blankets, was placed the wounded Victorian. The rest of us sat round, with our legs dangling over the side. A Kaffir held the reins from a raised seat in front, and two Boers sat alongside of him with loaded rifles on their knees. But they had their backs to the mules and the points of their guns towards poor us. At the tail end of the waggon sat two more Boers, also armed. A fifth Boer, unarmed, barring a whip as long as Chowringhi, marched alongside to curse the mules and pick holes in their hides when the cursing failed.

As we stood ready the Boers near shook hands all round with us, hoped the war would soon be over and we be back in our ain countrees and themselves restored to the bosoms of their families. We moved off with a jolt that made the poor Victorian groan, and they shouted good-byes after us and congratulations that we were going to that wonderful place Pretoria. Soon a rising hid the laager, and around we could see nothing but veldt—not a tree, not a house, not a Boer. And now, we thought, is our chance. We only had to lay hold of our guards by the throats, wrest their rifles away, and so turn the tables completely—a poor return for their hearty kindness, but then we did not cherish the same feelings for Pretoria that they did. These ideas of escape were rippling round cheerfully but guardedly, when our hopes flopped to the ground, for over the skyline came cantering a couple of Boers, and we soon found their business was to trot behind. We might easily overpower the guards in the waggon; but what profit would there be in that if one mounted man galloped for assistance while the other kept watch on our movements? Without the mounted men we might have bagged our guards and got clear away, as no warning of our escape could then have reached the Boer lines for at least twenty-four hours. But it was not to be, and we resigned ourselves to the inevitable.

When there’s nothing to see, almost as much to eat, and the Devil’s own pother to think about, travelling is wearisome. Add to these conditions a place to sit upon as hard as the heart of Pharaoh and the ever-present gun to keep you on it, and travelling becomes well-nigh unendurable.

If it wasn’t for the antics of Brother Boer we should have succumbed to jaundice, occasioned by nausea of the situation, or some other fell disease. But the Boer brother, to beguile the tedium of the way, showed us a thing or two in bullying, in quarrelling, and in shooting—the last named, to our disappointment, not being a consequence of the first two. Hanging on to a projection of our waggon was an attendant to look after the mules, a Kaffir boy about fifteen years old. His face was unadorned with beard, whisker, or moustache. One of the Boers snatched the boy’s cap from him, held him tight by the scruff of the neck, and then chucked the cap into the road. Meanwhile the waggon proceeded, and soon the cap was a dim speck half a mile behind. Then the owner of the cap was loosed off, and away he sped back to his lost property. When he reached it we were a clear mile away. Thereupon the Boers waxed mighty cheerful, and the waggoner, loudly chuckling, whipped up his mules into a fast trot, the little nigger running like a good ’un far in the rear. The going was too bad for continuous trotting, so in two or three miles the boy had overhauled us, and, though very blown, he showed his teeth with pleasure at catching us, apparently bearing no malice for the trick that had been played on him. But his troubles were not over. As he laid hold of the waggon to jump on, a great Boer hand was sprawled in his face and he went down on the road like a thousand of bricks at the unexpected assault. Loud guffaws from the brethren greeted this performance. It was repeated again and again till the poor devil was hopelessly beaten, and unable to continue the game. Then, when allowed to hang on again, he had to put up with brutal horseplay. His ears were pulled, his face contorted into extraordinary shapes, and tufts of wool, bleeding, jerked out of his head. At this point we deemed it our business to interfere, and, appealing to the man who appeared to be in command of our guard, and who spoke English well, we asked if it was usual for the Boers to treat Kaffirs in this way. And if so, we told him, it was high time every Boer in South Africa was shut up in St. Helena. This touched him up, and he ordered the two bullies to drop it. Then ensued a pretty quarrel. Some of us felt sure there were Hindustani words used—and dreadful they sounded in Dutch mouths. We fondly hoped there would be shooting, or at least fisticuffs. But the Boer is like the Bengali—a leviathan in words and a mouse in deeds. Behind a stone his heart is like that which protects him, and in the open his heart becomes just like the atmosphere which affords him no protection.

When cheerfulness was more or less restored somebody espied a herd of buck about a mile away. The keen sight of the Boers is astonishing, and the way they detected the movements of the buck at that distance was a revelation. Some of us could see nothing at all, but the keenest thought they could spot a little bit of colour which the Boers said was a herd of about twenty buck. In a minute three of them were blazing away with their Mausers, but the herd cleared without casualty. Throughout the rest of the way the Boers blazed away without intermission at anything and everything that suggested itself as a target. There certainly was no idea among them then that it would be well to husband ammunition. I see by the papers that their commandants are said to be exhorting the Boers now in the field to save their cartridges for officers, and not to waste any on the Tommies, but at the date of which I am writing they behaved as if their supply of ammunition was inexhaustible.

About midday a halt was called, the niggers did something to the harness, which dropped on the ground, and the mules, freed, were quickly up to their knees in an adjacent dam, and soon after that busily engaged with the veldt grass. Only once a day were they supposed to get a feed of corn, and from all we could hear that day only came round about once a week. In the meantime the Boers had fished out an empty wine case, smashed it up, lighted a fire, and placed a great kettle on top. While that was boiling the carcass of a sheep was produced from a sack, and all and sundry hacked a piece off. When the kettle had boiled and the coffee was made, the fire was heaped up afresh with wood, and every man had his bit of meat on the end of a stick, held it in the flames, where it fizzled and cracked and spurted as merrily as any steak on a grill in London town. There was a dish of salt to dip into when you judged the cooking complete. Our rusk sack was still partially filled, and wasn’t the dam full of water within a few yards of us? ‘What more could the —— Englishman want?’ said Brother Boer, as he lapped up all the coffee! In the newspapers the Boer is made to speak of the _verdomde rooinek_, but my experience of the Boer is that he prefers Tommy’s pet adjective before all others.

Our rustic repast over, the Kaffirs began to collect the mules. This they did not by running round them, but by sitting still and emitting sounds into the tenor of which God forbid that any civilised human being should inquire. Sufficient to say that they were weird enough to ‘kid’ the mules into leaving their feed and travelling half a mile to the waggon, there to be yoked again in slavery. Thereafter our journey was uneventful until we struck the railway, where we fondly hoped to find a train. But the advance of the British from Bloemfontein had begun, and the Boers, to prevent a sudden descent on the railway within their own lines, had taken the precaution of blowing up every bridge and culvert for many miles inside their own outposts. So we had to traverse six more weary miles, witnessing for diversion the destruction that dynamite can bring upon the handiwork of man. Great iron bridges broken and tossed aside, huge embankments shattered, railway stations annihilated. Cruel signs, but the inevitable consequences of war. At dark we reached Smaldeel, a little station sixty miles north of Bloemfontein, and at that time the southernmost depôt of the Boer forces on the railway. Three days later the British were in possession of Smaldeel and fired on the last Boer train steaming out of the station. But knowing that afterwards did not comfort us a bit when they locked us up that night.

Smaldeel is not an attractive place. We were dumped down in the most unattractive part of it! Imagine a four-roomed house built of wood and corrugated iron, one window per room and each one of them nailed down, as it had been for a long time. Imagine in one of these rooms Boer lumber—old clothes, empties, forgotten bedding; remember the boarded window, call for a glass of brandy, and think with sympathy of us poor sinners condemned to such a place for a livelong night.

What a ghastly night it was! They passed us in a small kettleful of coffee that ran to about half a mug per man. We were dreadfully thirsty, but the only water was a single water-bottleful between the crowd of us—they said there was no more available. For solids we had the remains of the rusks. On this slender nourishment we had to recoup our jaded bodies and revive our flagging spirits. Needless to say, in the morning we looked and felt but sorry representatives of Queen and country. At daylight we were cleared out of that room, the taste of which will remain with me until the day I die. The effect on us of the cold clean air outside was indescribable. We blew ourselves out with it like pouter pigeons, and nearly dropped down from shock to the system. We breathed the good air till we forgot to be hungry, thirsty, or even ashamed of our lamentable plight. The surging of it through our corrupted lungs was better than—but that would be departing from the plain unvarnished style with which the soldier man is allowed to embellish his narrative in lieu of literary grace.

We were popped into a waiting train the carriages of which for narrowness and hardness were like coffins without the compensating immunity from pain and trouble so characteristic of the ordinary coffin. That we might fit in easily they gave us nothing to eat or drink, and when the train started we rattled about our compartment like dried peas in a drum. To see us off the station was crowded with all sorts and conditions of the human race. It was astonishing to realise that the throat of man was so constituted that it could be used to emit sounds which were nothing like anything we had ever heard before. I heard a hundred High Court chaprassies hold the concert in which their champion sang a solo in so raucous a voice that it caused the great crack which now ornaments the Calcutta High Court building. But it was nothing to Smaldeel station! Take a Boer who has lived on the high veldt of the Transvaal with his next-door neighbour four miles off, and bring him into a space where his conversation has to carry for feet instead of miles, and you are overwhelmed by his voice.

Three hundred of that sort endeavoured to hold converse with us, wanting to know where we had come from, why we had come, and what we thought of our chances in the hereafter—no Boer thinks anybody who has taken up arms against the Lord’s anointed people has a million-to-one chance of salvation. We told them as much as we could, some of it with regard to the truth, but mostly without. They plainly said we were liars when we informed them we came from India. They knew all about Indian coolies, so weren’t to be taken in. They were of opinion that several of us who were clean-shaven were mere children, and deplored the sinfulness of a Government that could send such lambs to the slaughter. The clean-shaven ones cordially concurred, and ventured to hope the Boer Government would do the right thing and ship the little pets straight away to their mammas. That was another story, said they—one that Oom Paul would know how to deal equitably with. Pretoria! Pretoria! It was always Pretoria, as if that ghastly little village was the hub of the universe.

I may be allowed here to point out that the Dutch pronunciation of the name of the late President of the Transvaal differs slightly from that commonly used in India. Of course, our Indian way is the soundest, but it may give this feeble narrative a touch of realism to have included the fact that in South Africa ‘Kruger’ is pronounced ‘Cree-yer,’ with the accent on the ‘Cree.’ ‘Paul’ is pronounced like ‘towel,’ with a ‘p’ instead of a ‘t.’ The Burgher General Botha, in his native land, is called ‘Beau-ta,’ both syllables of equal value and spoken rather quickly—like our Indian word ‘lotah,’ with which word, in fact, ‘Botha’ rhymes. Many other words appertaining to South Africa are pronounced not at all in the way that we have accepted as fit and proper. Swears, however, find Boer and Briton unanimous both in pronunciation and frequency of use.

When we had left the babel of Smaldeel far behind we settled down to a critical examination of the country we were spinning through. We had to occupy ourselves with a subject of absorbing interest so as to divert our minds from dwelling on the vacuity of that part of our anatomies which it is not considered polite to mention out of a church or a nursery. But in the matter of country—we found it consoling to see nothing but rolling downs with never a kopje in sight, right or left, nearly all the way through the northern part of the Free State. Surely Bobs and his army would waltz along such easy going and speedily rescue us from the clutches of the wicked Boer! So far as Kroonstad there was nothing to stop the British. There a river forming a deep spruit meandered by, and would certainly give trouble were our troops to confine themselves to a frontal attack. But by this time the uses of flanking movements had been thoroughly grasped by our army, and it could only be a question of a day or two for our fellows to slip up on either side and squeeze the enemy out.

Steaming into Kroonstad it was comforting to think what a favourable country the British army would have to operate in, but the feeling was as naught compared with that aroused in us when we heard we were to be fed at Kroonstad. Psychologists evolve wonderful things from the mind of the intellectual man. But let them starve him. Then see how his inner consciousness changes its base of operations. Thoughts emanating from the brain lack the vigour and inventiveness of those prompted by the working of the more humble organ. The war in South Africa proves this conclusively. Wherever our troops and Generals have been well fed the tendency has been to make a mull of things. But they have never been starved without doing grand work: _vide_ the defence of Ladysmith, the relief of Kimberley, the brilliant marches of Lord Roberts’s army, where for days on end whole divisions had nothing but a biscuit or two to crunch per man.

We rushed into Kroonstad station with the familiar feeling of dashing importance that everybody knows about who travels by rail. We pulled up with the old jerk, only more so, that we so joyously used to anticipate when children. We sniffed the refreshment-room, caught a glimpse of the coloured papers in the bookstall, and everything seemed just the same as in old England—as if we were only waking up to pleasant reality after a horrid dream. But when we tried to get out the grimness of the truth was brought home to us: loaded rifles barred our way.

However, the grub came, and our sorrows were forgotten in the pleasure of exercising our fast stiffening jaws. It was great sandwiches of bully beef, no butter, no trimmings, but mighty good, and bowls of steaming coffee. There was a fair whack for each man, and none of us thought of giving half to the poor or saving up any for a rainy day. Every man ate up all he got and never emitted a sound, other than that of mastication, until the grunt of interrogation which denoted finished, and was there any more? There wasn’t, and we got no more that day, barring what we bought and paid for at extortionate rates.

At any game in the world the Briton can beat the Boer if the conditions are such that the Briton has any chance at all. This may seem a reckless statement in view of the fact that 16,000 Boers are still holding the field against ten times their number. But I make it with a knowledge of the circumstances, and am willing to demonstrate the truth of my statement to any unbeliever who has the pluck to call on me expressing his doubt. At any rate, by night time, when we crossed the Vaal River and had reached Vereeniging, the first station in the Transvaal, we had so ‘kidded’ our guards into a belief in our desire to reach Pretoria that they trusted us on to the platform, from which we gravitated into the refreshment-bar with a celerity that would have astonished Sir Isaac Newton. We found it crowded with people who didn’t seem to think we were particularly remarkable—at any rate, they did not offer us drinks: these we had to pay for at the rate of 2_s._ a peg—cheap enough, considering everything. Hard-boiled eggs 6_d._ each, sandwiches 1_s._, cigars none under 1_s._ The last-named we could not run to, so set about looking for pipes and ’bacca. Boer tobacco is sold in glazed paper bags, about the size of 14 lb. of sugar, for 1_s._ a time. You can use it either for smoking or as bedding for horses and cattle—they won’t eat it. Pipes like those you get at home for 4½_d._ were half a crown, so there is no need to dissert on the fiscal methods of the Boer: there’s no free trade about him. He represents McKinley at about two stone in the matter of Protection. I coveted a pipe for 3_s._ 6_d._ and told the barman I was very sorry I only had 2_s._ 6_d._, and wouldn’t he give it to a poor broken-hearted prisoner at a reduction? It was true about the 2_s._ 6_d._, for I was afraid to produce a sovereign lest some of them should take a fancy to it, as they had done to so many of our little valuables. The beast said he’d see me damned first, and I called him something in Hindustani which attracted more attention than I liked, when I felt a hand twitching my tunic and saw a little Jew man winking portentously. I put my hand down, and he slipped a coin into it—a shilling it was, to enable me buy the pipe. This is one of the few sporting things I have seen done in the Transvaal, and it was not a Boer who did it. I don’t think Boers understand sport. They never do anything until they have got six to four the best of their neighbour. Every Boer who plays billiards carries a bit of soap, and the few that are not afraid to play football are adepts at tripping. They have stopped playing cards entirely, for they invariably found after a few hands were dealt in a game that nothing but the rags of the pack remained to be played with, all the good cards having gone up the sleeves of the players.

However, I bought the pipe, and refunded the kindly little Jew his bob. Leaving the bar, I passed a little bunch of Boers who had rather enjoyed my rebuff at the hands of the barman.

I gravely congratulated the Boers on their brother behind the bar, and asked if they had many other Boers as good looking. Discretion may sometimes be a branch of valour, but there was very little valour about the discretion I exercised when I left that refreshment-bar.

The rest of the night in the train was tedious and uncomfortable to a degree, and cold beyond words. At 3 or 4 in the morning we landed at Pretoria, and our guards, all South African Republic Police—the hated Z.A.R.P.—belonging to Pretoria, instead of leaving us in the train until daylight, hauled us out and marched us off. After a mile or so we came to a building. We entered by a gate, and found ourselves in a courtyard with high walls. We were there delivered over to another lot of ruffians, the first lot clearing off to their homes in high jubilation at the prospect of rejoining wives and families after many months in the field. They had not been unkind to us on the whole, and we found them simple enough, but imbued with considerable contempt of the Britisher and an unchangeable belief in the ultimate success of their own cause.

Sitting on the cold stone pavement of the courtyard, chewing the cud of our misfortunes, we waited for the only friend we’d got—the sun. Meanwhile strange sounds came from the high walls surrounding us—heavy sighs, deep gruntings, weird moanings, harsh cries, and loud beatings. We wondered what manner of place we were in. Daylight revealed the truth. We were in the Pretoria Gaol, and all around us were the drunks and incapables, the vagrants and vagabonds, black and white, that had been scraped out of the gutter the night before. Mostly they were Kaffir women—huge, unwieldy, hideously ugly creatures, reminding one of those depicted by Hogarth in his scenes of low life in London nearly two centuries ago. When the sun rose the doors of the cells were opened and we saw strange sights. The gaoler prodded the sulky ones with a long stick and made them come out.

Standing about in the fresh morning light, dirty, frowzled, altogether abominable to look at, they seemed a blot on creation, and the knowledge of their mere existence hung heavily on one’s mind. It was not a pleasant awakening to the splendours of the Boer capital.

For about the tenth time we gave in our full names, and all we could think of in the way of description, down to red hair, for which the Boer has a peculiar regard. A Boer with red hair can be a Mormon a dozen times. Nearly all their clergymen have red hair. In among the drunks and incapables we found one cell containing representatives of the British Army, lately free fighting men, but now confined against their own wishes. One of these, to my astonishment—for his appearance did not suggest the soldier in the very least—addressed me by name, and I recognised in him a saddler sergeant who had built me a very excellent saddle some years before, when his regiment, the 18th Hussars, was in India. He and a pal had been taken prisoners at the very beginning of the war in Natal, and so had done six months in durance vile. They had been so bored with their experiences that they had escaped and endeavoured to get to Portuguese territory, but unluckily the ubiquitous Boer had been too many for them, and they were now being restored to their _status quo ante_, as political paragraphists describe it. Another was a Yeoman lad from county Notts, with a very much worn pair of boots to his feet, and it showed fine public spirit in him that he seemed to deplore this fact more than his being made prisoner.

In the corner of the courtyard was a tap, and we all did a bit of washing. The absence of silver-topped scent-bottles, ebony hair-brushes, Pears’ soap, &c., was rather a drawback, but it did not prevent us creating at least a zone of cleanliness. We were then paraded, and in as martial array as was possible, without guns or swords and incommoded with blankets and empty sacks, we marched forth with a loud cheer. To be a prisoner of war was a fate that might overcome the best soldier that ever stepped, but to be herded with police mud-scrapings injured the dignity of every one of us.

Half-an-hour’s walk past cottages, bakers’ shops, where smiling lassies stood at doorways, and all the signs of a little country town at home, we came to a great enclosed space at one corner of which was inscribed the legend ‘Polo Ground.’ We immediately began arguing about who was to play in the first chukker, and whether we’d have a ten-minute chukker, with a change of pony half-time, or chukkers of six minutes straight away. Two known cracks were agreed upon, and they, to save unseemly fighting, picked up sides. Then each side began backing itself for large sums (on the nod), while the unselected ones scoffed and offered 5 to 4 against either team. Needless to say, while diverting ourselves in this manner we were girt about by armed horsemen, who conducted themselves with much dignity and secret spurrings, especially when passing where comely lassies stood at the doors. In this respect I have observed the Boer does not differ from the Briton, nor has he any scruples about endeavouring to attract the admiration of another Boer’s girl as well as his own. Marching along one side of the enclosure, we came to a great entrance, and realised of a sudden that we had arrived at the racecourse, rendered classic by the experiences of our imprisoned troops within its gates. We entered and found all the offices so familiar to racegoers—grand stand, paddock, weighing-room, jockeys’ room, horse-boxes—but no equine wonders. It filled our hearts with sorrow to see such waste—not even a booky to trill forth the odds.

But there was a desolation over the scene very different from the stir and bustle of a racecourse. Our troops had been penned up in a barbed-wire enclosure that included the paddock, stands, and a bit of the course itself. Most of the buildings had been utilised as hospitals, and where or how the poor devils who hadn’t enteric or dysentery or pleurisy or rheumatic fever existed, Heaven alone knows. The N.C.O.s had the privilege of sleeping on the steps of the grand stand, and I suppose the others had to be content with the ground. Very quickly the accommodation at the racecourse had become inadequate, and the camp at Waterval was established, leaving only a hospital and a staff of orderlies. The result was a most woebegone place, littered with empty tins, rags, paper, and refuse of all sorts. We elected to occupy a row of horse-boxes facing the paddock. I’m sure no owner of racehorses would have allowed any of his string to enter these boxes, but we were only too glad to find a place wherein to lay our heads. After a long delay they brought us rations of sorts—the potatoes, I remember well, being little round things about the size of marbles and everyone gaily sprouting. For the rest we had ½ lb. of meat and a loaf of bread apiece, plenty of cold water, and the consolation of being told we had a great deal to be thankful for. While our troops had been confined at the racecourse some of the residents of Pretoria had been exceedingly kind in supplying them with what, to them, were great luxuries to help out the meagre fare allowed by the Boer Government. A much-appreciated but sticky delicacy was a considerable supply of golden syrup. In one little hut occupied by a mess of sergeants, twelve men used to sleep every night, packed as close as herrings. The morning following the day on which they had received their share of the golden syrup they found themselves all stuck together, and had to rise up in one piece like a row of toy soldiers.

Lieutenant Crane was taken off to the newly formed camp for prisoners on a barren hillside north of Pretoria, where nearly all officers had been confined within triple fences of barbed wire since their removal from the Model School. Non-commissioned officers and troopers of Lumsden’s Horse had to share the fate of other captive soldiers at Waterval on the high veldt outside the Magaliesberg, but luckily they were not among the number hurried away by retreating Boer commandos to distant Nooitgedacht when our troops entered Pretoria. At Waterval the daily rations were scanty enough, though luxurious by comparison with the meagre fare served out at a later date to prisoners in that place away eastwards with a name that bespeaks desolation. And by the kindness of the American Consul, Sergeant D.S. Fraser was able to obtain funds from India for himself and his fellow-sufferers. This enabled them to supplement the rough rations issued to them during their imprisonment at Waterval. To cover the advances made for this purpose Colonel Lumsden authorised a grant of 5_l._ each to the prisoners, being at the rate of 1_l._ per man per week for the period of their captivity. Thus the value of such a fund as had been raised in Calcutta before the corps left was demonstrated in an unforeseen way. By means of it Colonel Lumsden had been able to start with a treasure-chest of 1,000_l._ and a sufficient credit in the Standard Bank of South Africa to meet all emergencies.


Of the uneventful dulness of their life in the prisoners’ camp, where few visitors ever came, and none whose presence could be considered very cheerful, we may judge by the fact that hardly anything has been written about it. The poor fellows who had neither money nor friends to procure it for them must have fared ill indeed on nothing but Government rations issued according to the following scale, which cannot be impugned, seeing that the Editor found it written in choicest official Dutch among other documents at Pretoria bearing the seal of the Z.A.R. On this scale the officers were to receive 1 lb. of meat and an undefined ration of meal, rice, or peas, per head per day, with a weekly allowance of groceries amounting to 2 oz. of coffee, 2 oz. of tea, and one candle per head. In practice the meat ration dwindled down at times to as little as 1½ lb. a week for each officer, and the meal, rice, or peas being _à discrétion_, not of the consumer but of the burgher in charge, were occasionally off the bill of fare altogether. The rank-and-file were each to receive 7 lb. of flour, 3 lb. of meal, 3 lb. of rice, 3 lb. of dried French beans, 21 oz. of sugar, 2 oz. of salt, 3½ oz. of raw coffee beans, and 2 lbs. of meat _per week_, and had to see that they got it, as the Boers, being rather short of luxuries themselves, claimed the right to make reductions frequently on the plea that there had been an excessive issue for some previous day. Actually at one time the prisoners at Nooitgedacht, to whom the same scale applied, did not receive more than an average of 3 lb. of flour and ½ lb. of meat per head per week, and the beans, which formed their only vegetable diet, were useless. The captives among whom a few of Lumsden’s Horse found their lot cast at Waterval were not so badly off as that, but still there was so much monotony, both in food and in the featureless routine of daily life, that they must have been very glad to hear the booming of British guns outside Pretoria and to know that the hour of their deliverance from bondage was at hand. A few days after the entry of our troops into the capital, Colonel Lumsden had the gratification of writing:

Lieutenant Crane’s many friends in India will be pleased to hear that he is once more with us and in command of his section, looking stout and well, none the worse for his wound or his enforced stay in Pretoria.

Sergeant Fraser, Corporal Angus McGillivray, Privates R.N. Macdonald, Peterson and Leslie Williams are also back with us, all looking fit and strong.

Lance-Corporal Firth is at present employed in the Financial Adviser’s office in Pretoria, and has made himself so useful that I cannot persuade General Maxwell, the Military Governor, to dispense with his services.


Lord Roberts was so well satisfied with the results achieved by General Ian Hamilton’s division and the other columns operating south of Thaba ’Nchu on May 1 that he regarded all the strategical points in that direction as being securely held, and was therefore no longer anxious for the safety of the railway, on which future supplies for his army might be dependent after the exhaustion of those already collected at Bloemfontein. In these circumstances he determined on an immediate advance the day after Hamilton had cut the Boer chain in two at Houtnek. He accordingly sent General Pole-Carew’s division from Bloemfontein to Karree Siding, where their arrival was hailed by Lumsden’s Horse as significant of great things to follow, seeing that General Tucker’s brigade had been pushed forward to occupy the ground over which Mounted Infantry corps fought two days earlier. General Hutton’s brigade of mounted troops was ten miles west of the railway at Brakpan by Doorn Spruit, and General Ian Hamilton’s division had advanced from Houtnek to Isabellafontein, out-flanking the Brandfort range of kopjes. Thus, on the morning of May 3 De la Rey found his position seriously menaced, and after-events proved that he had no intention of making a stand there longer than was necessary for a rearguard action, by which he might delay the British advance and give his own main body time to withdraw all heavy artillery and stores. Threatened on the left by Ian Hamilton, and finding his right flank in danger of being turned by Hutton’s Mounted Infantry, De la Rey retired, and our troops entered Brandfort that afternoon. The Boers, however, had fallen back to a second position, being neither disorganised nor beaten, but only disinclined for close fighting, and until dusk they continued to show such a firm front that the mounted troops could do little against them. Colonel Lumsden sums up the situation briefly by the following entry in his official diary:

On the morning of the 3rd we left Spytfontein at daybreak with Colonel Henry’s brigade, and joined General Maxwell’s brigade (14th) at the foot of Gun Kopje, the place where Major Showers was killed. The Mounted Infantry, covering a front of some three miles, swept the country towards Brandfort, Infantry and guns following. A little desultory fighting occurred, driving in the enemy’s advance parties on to their first position, which we found at about 11 A.M. The guns and Infantry then came up and cleared the position in about an hour. During the action we were exposed to a good deal of shell fire, which fortunately did no harm, owing to the ground being soft and the shells burying themselves before bursting, if they burst at all.

At 12 the advance was made on their second and main position, about two miles off, and lying some five miles north-east of Brandfort. The enemy offered little resistance, confining themselves chiefly to long-range artillery fire. When the position was practically taken the Mounted Infantry were sent away to the right flank to make a wide turning movement with a view to cutting off the retreat of ‘Long Tom,’ who, however, catching them on a wide open plain, forced them to dismount for the attack. The dismounted men advanced some two miles in his direction, but dusk setting in it became evident that it was impossible to reach that position with daylight, and we were ordered to rejoin our horses and return to camp. This we reached about 8 P.M., having been in the saddle fifteen hours and covered quite forty miles. There had been no time during the day to feed the horses, which consequently felt the work very much. Our casualties were nil; but ten horses died from exhaustion.

To troopers in the ranks, however, it seemed a much more serious affair, as well it might, for on them fell the burden of an advance that tried their powers of endurance if it did not put a very severe strain on their nerves. One of them, writing rather for his own gratification than with the idea of helping to make history, gives a graphic picture of the movement out of camp in the darkest hour before dawn to join other troops, and then trot on through the ‘pitch blackness’ over ground on which stones seemed to have cropped up suddenly where no stones had been before, so that horses stumbled at every stride. Then, as it grew lighter, they saw that a whole army was with them, extending along a front that stretched for miles. Lumsden’s Horse halted under a hill near Ospruit, and British guns opened fire from its crest. At this point the trooper’s hasty notes become ruggedly picturesque as he describes the sequence of events:

The Boer artillery replied, and it became rather a hot corner. Shells burst all round us and over our heads. We were retired and lay down. Then moved to the right, gave over our horses to the even numbers, and moved forward on foot, extending to some ten paces apart. So we advanced, sometimes mounted, sometimes on foot—always extended. Then lay down, then advanced again, and lay down—all in long parallel lines, Lumsden’s Horse being on the extreme right, or nearly so. The Infantry marched in beautifully regular and even straight lines, apparently quite indifferent to the Boer guns that now opened on them and made good shooting too. The shell fell all amongst those Infantry, but when the dust cleared nobody seemed to be down, and the line went on unmoved. Then some shells came in our direction, but either fell short or whistled over our heads doing no harm; yet we were retired a bit. Then a pom-pom of ours came into action and silenced the Boer guns. This was all straight ahead. Meanwhile a gun opened across our front at some Boers, whom we could see plainly retreating on the right. They replied until the pom-poms behind us opened on them. Then they bolted and were chased by some Mounted Infantry who came up on our flank. Again we advanced on foot and got near the big kopje. Then Colonel Lumsden rode up, called for the horses, and ordered us to advance and join other corps of the 8th Mounted Infantry in a flank attack. Off we went at a trot, and then, extending to intervals of ten paces, advanced towards the kopje in front of us at a walk, but still mounted. Suddenly there was a bang, and a few seconds later a shell burst dead on for our centre, but some 200 yards short. After a brief pause a second shell burst 100 yards nearer, and then another, the fragments of which kicked up the dust all round us. This we discovered was what Cavalry called ‘being out to draw fire.’ Still we advanced. Bang went the gun again, and there was a cloud of dust followed by a tremendous report not twenty yards from Clifford, Cayley, and me. Iron whizzed over our heads, but nobody was hit. Our horses plunged and wheeled round, and, seeing everyone was off, we did not stop either. Halted and dismounted at a farmhouse lower down near a stream, where the company assembled. Then handed over our horses, and, advancing again, with lots of others on foot, trudged a weary two miles, when a Boer Maxim opened on us; but though the bullets swept ground between the front line and ourselves, they did no harm. When darkness began to fall the order came for us to retire, and, our horses being brought up, we rode back over dykes and sluits and boggy places in the pitch black. Nobody knew the way, but, seeing lights on our right, we made for them, and got into camp about 7 o’clock. Not a bad day’s work, having started at 3 A.M. with nothing whatever in the way of food to start on. Tied our nags up. Everybody too tired to boil a kettle, or even light a fire. Ate half a biscuit and some bully-beef and turned in. The left half-company having come back to camp comparatively early, got into a hen-roost and made great store of fowls, turkeys, and ducks. Heard that two foreign officers had been taken—one German and one Russian—who said it was useless going on, as the Boers would not stand and would not fight. So ended the Battle of Brandfort.


BRINGING HALF RATIONS UP TO NORMAL (_From a sketch by J.S. Cowen_) ]

Colonel Lumsden takes up the narrative at this point in an official report to the executive committee, and without attempting to describe the general operations he gives a clear outline of events in which his corps took a prominent part, leaving details to be filled in by troopers according to their various views, and they give some realistic sketches, not only of the actions but also of the men under fire. In Colonel Lumsden’s epitome of a day when the troops were supposed to rest and gain fresh vigour for a forward movement, there is a meaning that could not have been better expressed than it is in this short sentence:

On the 4th we halted, with no food for horses and only biscuit for the men.

On the 5th, when the enemy were driven from a strong position on the banks of Vet River, we had a long dragging day, most of the march being done on foot to ease our tired horses, and with little hope of finding any enemy in front of us, though away on our flank the artillery on both sides were hotly engaged. At about 2 P.M. we suddenly got the order to change direction to the left and head for Vet railway station, which the enemy held in force. We crossed the Vet river, where Boer commandos had been making a stubborn stand, and soon found ourselves among our Infantry. Shortly afterwards our guns opened fire and our Infantry came into action, while the Mounted Infantry were sent round by our right—northwards—to intercept, if possible, the retreating enemy. It was a race for the same drift again among the Mounted Infantry, and we got there first. Crossing the river, we were told to push forward as fast as possible and seize a kopje two miles off which commanded a somewhat deep valley on the left, up which the enemy were retiring. As it was supposed to be a race between us and the enemy for the kopje, we had not the time to make a thorough reconnaissance before approaching, with the result that our scouts arrived at the kopje only some 600 to 700 yards before us, and the enemy had a charge at us at 800 yards. We immediately opened out and took cover behind the bund of a tank fifty yards in rear, and, dismounting, opened fire on the kopje and silenced it. We were unable to stay there, as the enemy from the valley were galloping up on our left under the cover of the kopje, so I gave the order to my sixty men to mount and retire on our supports, who were now coming up a quarter-mile in rear. We were only just in time, for, as we were mounting, the Boer pom-pom treated us to a ‘belt’ the shells of which came fair into the middle of us.

The supports now opened fire with two pom-poms and 200 men, and the enemy retired, leaving us free to return to camp, which we reached at 7 P.M.—another long day of quite thirty miles. Our casualties were only one scout killed when reconnoitring this kopje. This was Private A.K. Meares, who was shot through the heart, and whom we buried the following morning.

One of the scouts who was with young Meares when they reconnoitred the kopje describes that episode with convincing directness, and incidentally records a very gallant action on the part of Lieutenant Pugh, as if it were the most commonplace occurrence. Following is his version of the affair given in extracts from a private letter:

By 2 in the afternoon we were fairly in touch with the enemy, and an artillery duel commenced. After some time our fire grew too hot for the Boers, and they retired with their guns. We had been sent forward to try to turn the Boer flank, and our section, No. 4 B, was ordered to seize a kopje which was supposed to be unoccupied. We, of the advanced party, cantered up to within 250 yards of the enemy’s sangar, and then they opened on us, but I must say they made very bad shooting; we had got within 200 yards of them before turning to retire, and yet only one man was hit. We were all in line, about twelve of us, in skirmishing order, when the Boers opened fire, and when the order to retire reached us we went back as fast as we could. Meares—the man who was killed—and I were going in the same direction, and as his horse was dead done, and had already fallen once during the day, I reined up so as to get near him in case of need. I was just a little ahead of him and kept glancing round to see how he was doing. In looking after him I quite forgot my own horse, and then I don’t know what happened. All I know is that half an hour afterwards I found myself breathless, holding one of our officer’s stirrup-leathers and running for dear life. My horse, it seems, got into a hole and came down an awful crash on top of me. The others thought both the horse and I had been shot. Almost immediately after this Meares went down, shot through the heart from the back. Both our horses righted themselves, and galloped back to the section. I lay stunned for half an hour, and then, as I have told you, I staggered up to No. 2 section, who were covering our retreat. I believe I was making straight for the Boer line of fire, when one of our officers shouted out to me and gave me his stirrup-leather to hold as I came up to him. I was so completely done after a short run that he got off his horse and gave me a lift on it. Lieutenant Pugh was the man. It was dark by this time, and as we had driven the Boers off we retired to our camp. I picked up my section again, and found my horse, who was badly cut about the head. My face was in a lovely condition—one eye closed, and my cheek, forehead, and nose one big bruise, and my head was splitting with pain. It was a providential escape, and if I had not fallen I should surely have shared Meares’s fate.

[Illustration: H.J. MOORHOUSE]



[Illustration: W.K. MEARES]

[Illustration: H.W. PUCKRIDGE]

[Illustration: R.G. DAGGE]

[Illustration: R.P. WILLIAMS]

[Illustration: R.C. NOLAN]

[Illustration: T.G. PETERSEN]

[Illustration: S. DUCAT]


In the simple phrases of another trooper who relates with more fulness the circumstances in which Trooper A.K. Meares met his death there are some pathetic touches:

We had several severe engagements, in one of which I am sorry to say young Meares was shot dead while his company (B) were retiring from a very large force of Boers with a few guns. It was altogether a sad affair, as his brother Willie was riding next him. Being in extended order, however, they were fifty yards or so apart, and Willie knew nothing about his brother being hit till he got into camp and found who was missing. It was then some men said they had seen him fall off his nag, but could tell no more. Willie went with a party next morning and found his brother dead. The bullet-wound was right over his heart. He was buried there. What makes it all the more pathetic is that young Meares was the only man hit that day, no one else getting a scratch.

Though the Boers made a brave show up to the last, disputing every position a hold of which gave them any advantage, the resistance offered by them to Lumsden’s Horse was only an expiring effort. Their right flank had by that time been turned by other corps of Mounted Infantry, among whom the Colonials vied with each other for distinction, and at nightfall, when Australians with a machine gun had come up to relieve Lumsden’s Horse, the enemy retired, leaving a Maxim gun and twenty-six prisoners in our hands. Again, however, they had carried off all their heavy artillery and equipage, although General Ian Hamilton had that afternoon got possession of Winburg and was threatening their rear. The events of following days are summarised briefly by Colonel Lumsden in his official report:

Next morning, the 6th, saw us away at daybreak back for the yesterday’s battlefield and towards the rising sun. We could see clearly how clever had been the Boer plan of attack and how nearly they had caught some of us. We followed up their tracks for many miles, halted at noon for an hour, continued scouring the country—this time north—and eventually headed west, arriving at dusk at our new camp near Smaldeel, having advanced only three and a half miles after marching thirty.

Away at dawn on the 7th, and, heading north, tramped many a mile on foot, striking the railway between Vet and Winburg a few miles from Vet, and continuing north some distance. We halted for two or three hours, and then retraced our steps to a camp near the railway, reaching it after dusk.

On the 8th our regiment did flank guard for the Infantry during a march of twenty miles, saw innumerable buck, and commandeered twenty remounts on payment.

With the incident thus delicately touched upon by Colonel Lumsden an irresponsible trooper deals more at large in a way that enables us to understand the troubles by which some commanding officers were beset when their men, unlike Lumsden’s Horse, did not think it necessary to go through the formality of paying for what they took. Writing from Smaldeel, the trooper says:

Yesterday we went fairly straight, but about two or three miles too far, and had to come back; but we caught a young Boer leaving his farm with a rifle and ammunition, and we got another at the farm. The farm was looted of all its live-stock. The Colonel stopped it when he came up, but all the poultry was taken. Our men paid for everything. Kruger has told all these people that their farms will be burned and all the women taken prisoners. I think they were rather relieved when we left. One woman said her husband had come back three weeks ago and died of wounds, and they said the Free-Staters had lost terribly. They never hear officially, as they keep the deaths dark, but almost every farm has lost at least one man. In one we passed there were three widows. They are rather nice people and can nearly all speak English, and are rather nice-looking. We have fifty-one horses sick—about half with pink-eye and the other half sore backs and lame—but we make it up by degrees. Yesterday we collected eleven and the day before about the same, but in the night they got away. We also brought along 200 sheep and some cows; the sheep we have given over to the brigade, except about twenty for our own use. We carry with us to-morrow two days’ rations and four on the carts in case the transport don’t come up. McMinn and Francis, of my section, got lost leading sick horses. McMinn has attached himself to another brigade, but nothing has been heard of Francis.

The self-restraint exercised by soldiers who left untouched the stores and paid for all the live-stock they took at every farm where women and children had been left by the retreating Boers will be appreciated by all who know what it is to march and fight day after day on short rations. Though Lumsden’s Horse laid in that store of supplies, it did not last them many days, as we gather from a continuation of the Colonel’s diary:

On the 9th the usual daybreak start, our men with two days’ biscuits and one day’s feed for horses, but the officers with only some chocolate, as we relied on our mess cart being up. We were with the main body this day, till we neared the crossing of the Zand River at the Virginia Siding railway bridge, which had been blown up the day before, and at this point our companies were detached on each side of the drift to prevent a surprise. We heard General Hamilton having an artillery duel with the foe some miles off on our right, while on the left we saw the Mounted Infantry dislodging the enemy’s advance parties, the war balloon with Lord Roberts and Staff being near the drift itself. We received orders to concentrate and move away to the left, and on the far side of the river to join our corps—the 8th Mounted Infantry—on doing which we were immediately sent into action dismounted, firing at 1,500 yards, while the enemy’s pom-pom shells flew whistling over our heads as they aimed at our guns behind us. Our corps here got its first definite order, and that was, ‘Keep touch with the enemy at any cost.’ As this came from Lord Roberts direct, we proceeded to obey it to the letter, with the result that we were under shell and rifle fire for the remainder of the day. Having got well ahead of the rest of our brigade, in following up ‘Long Tom,’ which halted and fired on us at intervals, we kept running into the enemy’s supporting Infantry, whom we only managed to discomfit thoroughly when we got at them with our Maxim on the open hillside. Our losses were only two horses wounded. We were severely shelled several times, but we escaped casualties through being widely extended and also through the faulty bursting of the enemy’s shells. On one occasion ten shells burst among us within five minutes. About 3 P.M., in company with Colonel Ross, I went to endeavour to get some support, and brought up one company of Loch’s Horse, one company Tasmanians, and one company South Australian Rifles, afterwards meeting General Hutton with a battery Field Artillery, which promptly went into action on our left flank and shelled the Boers, who were then retiring. Unfortunately, our force was much too weak to attempt to follow them in the open. Had it not been so it was the opinion of General Hutton and Colonel Ross that we might have captured the whole of them—some 1,500, with a couple of guns. Dusk had then drawn on, and, having lost touch with our brigade, we marched under General Hutton’s orders to a camping ground seven miles off in the direction of Kroonstad, arriving about 9 P.M., without food for men or horses, and there was no firewood within miles.

The troopers had each little else but dry biscuit, the officers faring hardly any better.

Another correspondent writes of this affair:

We had a very pretty fight at the Zand River, and were within an ace of taking two of the enemy’s big guns. To begin at the beginning. We had marched the previous day from our camp near Smaldeel to within about five miles of the Zand River. On our arrival there we heard that the Australians and Oxfords had been having a skirmish with some Boers at the bridge, and had seized a train of stores, but were forced to retire. Starting at daybreak in the second line of Mounted Infantry, we got across the drift all right, and drove the Boer outposts back. We sat on the further side of the river for about an hour, watching them bring up two big guns on to a kopje about three miles off, and wondering when we should be shelled. Presently we were ordered off on a flank movement, and after trotting some miles came in touch with the enemy. We dismounted, and moved up a valley with good cover, the pom-poms following. They drove back the Boer riflemen and presently silenced a gun, which had been amusing itself by shelling our led horses, but luckily without effect. We mounted again and started for a two-mile gallop to get up with their gun, but it had disappeared. Making a flank movement round the shoulder of the position they had occupied, and pushing on some distance, we found them again, or rather they found us first. Their gun got our range beautifully, but every shell seemed to fall and burst between the horses. Of course we were widely extended. Retiring, we dismounted and then advanced on foot, but their rifle fire and shell fire was too hot; so again we tried to out-flank their position. A Company and half of B Company advanced, and we climbed a small kopje with a deserted Kaffir kraal on top; Loch’s Horse, some of the Australians, and the West Riding Mounted Infantry went round and took up a position further along the ridge. We sat there for nearly two hours under a terrific shell fire, till it dawned on us to move below the brow. For the first half-hour they landed shell after shell (40-pounders) right into the middle of us; luckily, very few burst properly. If they had fired shrapnel, which bursts in the air, or lyddite, we should all have been blown off the top. They then let our horses have a few shots, and killed two and wounded three. In the meantime urgent messages were being sent for our artillery, or at least the pom-poms that generally come with us, but unfortunately they could get nothing but a walk out of their horses, and the Boers quietly trekked away. We ought to have had them with the greatest of ease, as we were well round them on two sides and a brigade was moving somewhere on the third. If the Artillery had got up in time we could easily have moved round the fourth side. We tried to keep in touch with the Boers when they retired, but it soon got dark and we had to stop.

No stirring episodes or dramatic incidents marked the army’s farther advance towards a stronghold which the Free State Boers had declared that they would defend to the last. Colonel Lumsden deals with this part of the operations briefly in the following notes:

Dawn on the 10th saw us in the saddle again on the move for Kroonstad. The leading sections were constantly in touch with the enemy, and sometimes under heavy shell fire, from which Corporal Kirwan received a scalp wound not very serious. After a long and weary march we halted at nightfall near a farm, where we were lucky enough to get some Indian corn for the horses and a few sheep for the men.

We made an early start on the 11th for the expected big fight at Kroonstad, it having been reported on the previous evening that the enemy were strongly posted five miles on our side of the town.

We advanced for ten miles with the utmost military precaution, only to find that the enemy had vacated the position, leaving Kroonstad undefended. Lord Roberts marched in at 3 P.M., followed by the Guards and the rest of the Infantry, the mounted troops flanking both sides of the town. We occupied heights on the left, and halted there for the night, changing ground next morning to our present camping ground, a mile distant, where, with the rest of the army, we are waiting for supplies for horses and men, before a forward movement towards Pretoria can be made.

The halt has been a welcome one, as our horses are fairly done, and I doubt if I could mount 150 men to-morrow, and a few more weeks’ work like that of the last would reduce the numbers to 100. We are leaving a dozen horses to-day as unfit to march, and shot six yesterday. Cast horses wander about all over the veldt and lie dead in the river or any other quiet place, and fatigue parties are ceaselessly at work burying the bodies.

You can form no idea of the condition of our horses, and, but for the fact that we have been able to commandeer and get remounts _en route_, we should have half our corps dismounted. We have lost quite seventy-five horses already. I have stated officially that we require immediately seventy-five remounts more, and these we expect to get this afternoon. Mrs. Barrow’s ‘Molly Riley’ looks like a bathing-machine horse, and I fear is on her last march.

The men are all very well and in good spirits, are most efficient cooks, and if allowed would rank high as looters; but orders against this are very strict, and our men pay liberally for anything in the shape of foodstuffs wherever procurable.

The office department has been rather upset by the loss of Sergeant Fraser, of the Bank of Bengal, who was Paymaster and Secretary, but I have replaced him by Graves, of the same bank, who is working up arrears as quickly as possible. He is a very willing and intelligent young fellow, and will soon have things straight again when he gets a few days’ halt, but it is impossible to do much on the line of march.

The troops were not all so punctilious as Lumsden’s Horse in the matter of prompt payment for things commandeered, and a good story was told of one brigade at Kroonstad, whose commander, in despair of being able to check irregularities, issued an order that loot was ‘not to be carried openly on the saddle.’ Our soldiers, however, had not then been reduced by hardships and scant fare to the necessity of providing for themselves at all costs. Some pitiful cases of unauthorised commandeering were reported in connection with later operations, when columns moving rapidly through several districts had to draw supplies from Boer farms and give receipts for them in lieu of cash payments. Detached parties driven to straits for want of food did not hesitate to adopt the means they had seen employed by responsible officers, but took care to leave no trace by which they could be identified. An officer who had to investigate these cases told me of one receipt given to a Boer widow. It ran thus: ‘Being without rations and hungry, we have taken all this poor woman had of live-stock and food. She asks for a receipt. I give it. God help her!—ALLY SLOPER.’ To the credit of British military administration, it must be said that this document, though irregular, was accepted as genuine, and duly honoured by payment in full.

Lumsden’s Horse had their share of the privations that made commandeering a necessity, and even looting pardonable; and it is not to be wondered at if some among them regarded campaigning in anything but the roseate light that imagination had shed upon it before they left India. Yet, even at this time, their conduct in circumstances that tried the character of men individually and collectively won approval from such a soldier as Colonel Ward, C.B. (now Sir Edward Ward, K.C.B., Permanent Under-Secretary of State for War). Singling them out on the line of march, he asked what regiment they were, and seemed astonished to learn that they were Volunteers. In a letter to the Editor he says: ‘I was much struck with Lumsden’s Horse. They were very keen and excellent soldiers.’ After an exceptionally hard day one of them wrote:

We were in the saddle at 5 A.M., and did not bivouac till 8 P.M., and were under shell fire the greater portion of the day. We had two men and several horses wounded; and two or three horses killed. It seemed to me that our task always was to find where the enemy’s guns were posted, as we invariably drew their fire on us. It was a fearfully long day, and after fighting for ten hours we had to march for five, and when we bivouacked we had nothing but a few dry biscuits and a little jam to eat, but we were making coffee till midnight. We were up again at 6 A.M., and did an easy march to Kroonstad, where we commandeered two fowls, and, having been served out with fresh mutton, we did ourselves very well indeed. Some potatoes had been left in the farmhouse garden, and these fried in dripping made a feast for epicures. Next day we marched again, and, after skirmishing about the hills above Kroonstad, camped outside the town. It had been evacuated by Boer commandos the day before, and surrendered without a shot being fired.

Lord Roberts received quite an ovation as he marched in, but we only heard the cheers, as our corps was not in the town, but above it. We have now marched right across the Orange State from Bethulie to Kroonstad, and are wondering how much farther we shall go. There are all sorts of rumours about camp—some say Lumsden’s Horse are to garrison Kroonstad, others that we go on east to Harrismith, and others, again, that we accompany Lord Roberts to Pretoria. There have been days when but two men were left in the lines; all the rest have been on fatigue or duty of some sort. Our horses, it is true, have been overworked and underfed, but you will be able to form some idea of the effects of ‘pink-eye’ and other African diseases when I tell you that of the thirty men in our section alone who were well mounted when we started from India there are about five of us riding our own horses now, all the others have remounts; and our section is not the worst in this respect. My horse is doing me splendidly; except for a sore back for a few days, he has never been sick or sorry.

We have learnt to cook now, and can serve up chops, steaks, stews, and curries as well as any cook—when we can get the meat. We have been lucky lately in bivouacking near farmhouses, as we can commandeer chickens and sheep, paying for them when we are caught! We have, for the last few days, been getting to our camps after sundown, and by the time the fires are lighted and the meat ready to cook it is quite 9 o’clock. It takes an hour or so to cook, and the eating lasts longer, as the meat stands a deal of masticating. We seldom get to bed before 12, and are always ready by 5 o’clock, so you can imagine how invigorating the climate of this place is. It is bitterly cold at night and hot in the day, yet very few of our men are down with fever. It is a fine climate, but a fearful country. For miles and miles you see nothing but immense, undulating, treeless, waterless tracts of poor pasture-land. Here and there you find small ponds of dirty water, but whether it is rain-water dammed up or whether these are springs I have not yet been able to ascertain. The farmers here make their living by breeding cattle, and not by cultivation at all. We have marched from one end of the Orange State to the other, and I don’t suppose all the cultivation I have seen would cover ten acres. A year of drought or disease, I should think, would tell very heavily on farmers here.

Queen’s Town is the only town in Africa that I can really say I have seen; we either camped outside the other towns or merely passed through without having time to see them. We rode through Bloemfontein, and from what I could see of it it seems to be a large town built on the slopes of two or three converging hills, and fairly dirty.

Several of the towns we have passed consisted of half-a-dozen zinc houses, two at least of which are bound to be churches; of the remaining four, one will be a store and the rest dwelling-houses. But each dwelling-house is a township in itself. Even the ‘mild Hindu’ marvels at the number of people who live in one house, no matter how small it may be. There was a farmhouse near our camp at Bloemfontein, where we used to go sometimes to get a cup of coffee. This house had two rooms, each one about twenty-five feet square. It contained the following permanent residents—they said, they had visitors sometimes too—one old woman and three young ones and three young men and six children of sorts and sizes. One of the rooms was used as a kitchen and larder, so there was only one for general use. Needless to say, these people were Boers!

One trooper of A Company, writing to friends in Calcutta, has nothing but expressions of admiration for the behaviour of British Bluejackets, to whom he pays appreciative tribute in the following extract:

At Zand River, on the 10th, I was with the naval guns in action. It was simply grand to see the sailors work them. They were drawn up a drift in the Zand River by teams of thirty bullocks per gun, and opened fire from the top of the left bank on the enemy’s position at 7,200 yards range, and in five shots had blown up one Boer gun and knocked the whole shoot down about their ears. When the first gun was fired I happened to be quite near, although at one side of it, and the force of the explosion made me stagger as if a man were in a strong north-wester trying to make headway.

Even the novelty of such things, however, soon began to wear off, and under the depressing influences of life in a rest camp outside Kroonstad the trooper took a more gloomy view of things military, writing:

This place is like most of the so-called towns in South Africa, a mere cluster of tin huts with hardly a stone building in the lot. We, as usual, are not within a mile and a half of the town, and only one man per section of twenty-eight is allowed into it at a time. When you do get there, there is nothing much to buy or see, and prices are extremely high. Thank goodness, the climate at this time of year is just grand; at night it is very cold, and in the day warm, but never too warm unless one happens to be very hard at work. We seldom have any time to ourselves; even now, though I am writing letters, I am on duty with forty other men grazing the horses, about a couple of miles from camp. We are in a bad way for nags now, and very few of the Calcutta horses are left. It’s fun going out to commandeer things from the Boer farms, and it would make a person roar to see the different things different people choose to take. We are generally in a bad way for firewood, as this is practically a treeless country; so we break up chairs, beds, floors, doors, posts, rafters, and every blessed piece of wood to be got. Here as I sit on the side of a kopje I have a loaded rifle and cartridge bandolier on, and we are warned to stand to arms at any moment, as there are some wandering Boers about on the war-path who have cut the wires and played Old Nick with the railway and Bridges. It’s wonderful what good health men keep, considering the hardships they go through; we have not got a tent among the lot of us, barring those small servants’ tents used by the officers. Many among us have not even a change of clothes, on account of a _golmal_[11] made in regard to our kit bags, which got left behind at a camp near Bloemfontein. Goodness knows if we shall ever see those bags again. At present I have only the clothes on my back and one extra pair of socks to my name. Many of us have started growing long beards, and I have a beauty, but it wants a little trimming. I had a bath about four days ago, the first for weeks, and please goodness I will have a swim before leaving this place, as there is a river here which, though rather full of dead mules and horses, is better than nothing at all. Yesterday three horses got stuck in the river and were drowned, and this morning when watering horses I saw three mules and another nag which belonged to our Maxim gun team _panklagged_, and I fear that they also have been lost. There is most awful ‘pank’ in some of the rivers and ponds, and on more than one occasion we have all but lost men when crossing or watering. I have had about enough of it, and so has everyone else. It does make a man feel creepy when he has shells bursting about all round, and Boer shells do burst, for all that is said otherwise. They make a noise in the air like a huge flock of ducks when they take a dive downwards in their flight; and the rifle bullets going past sound like a breeze playing in the branches of a tree. I have now been in three engagements, and I’m perfectly satisfied! I don’t mind it where there is some cover, and you can see your enemy; but when the bullets come from Lord knows where, it’s real tough bread and butter to chew. The day we lost so heavily the Boers were rifle firing at over 2,000 yards, and as they use smokeless powder it was impossible to see them.

In those closing sentences there is a realistic touch that tells of the weariness and heart-sickness from which soldiers invariably suffer in days of rest following a succession of hard marches and heavy fighting. When there is stern work to be done, or a foe to be faced, these men may succumb to sheer exhaustion without a word of complaint. It is only after a day or two of comparative inaction, when supposed, by a pleasant fiction, to be resting in camp, that they will confess to being tired of the whole thing, or, as Tommy expresses it, ‘fair fed up.’ A total change comes with the order for a fresh advance, and everybody welcomes it except, perhaps, the regimental commanding officer, who knows that his horses would be all the better if given more time to regain condition, and his men more happy if there were a chance of re-clothing them. But what do rags and tatters matter when days have to be spent in marching through clouds of red dust and night blots out all distinction between weather-stained khaki and the soil on which it is laid? Colonel Lumsden must have felt the care for such things heavy on him, but he gave no sign of it in the notes by which he summarised the renewal of operations and of hard work that was in inverse ratio to the number of words employed in describing it:

We halted at Kroonstad till the 22nd, and then moved out some four and a half miles to a fresh camp clear of the town ready to join Colonel Henry’s brigade, and to start marching early next morning. Nothing of interest occurred at Kroonstad, except that we were able to leave behind a number of worn-out horses. These were replaced by fifty-six Argentines, which arrived the day before we left in a sorry condition, suffering from the effects of forced marches made without food, except what they could pick up on the veldt.

The next three days were spent in long weary marches, reconnoitring the country in front of the main advance, for we had been transferred at Kroonstad from General Hamilton’s column to the troops selected to march with Lord Roberts. Just after the men had settled down in camp at sunset on the 24th, bugles sounded a single G, and, on hearing this signal, all troops joined in singing ‘God Save the Queen.’

We were expecting to be in action every day, but nothing was seen of the enemy till the 26th, when we came upon him at about 9 A.M. in the railway station near Viljoen’s Drift, half a mile from the Vaal River. There some time was spent in reconnoitring to find out the enemy’s strength, and when a few shells had been put into the station, turning out only a hundred Boers, we were too late to stop the train which had apparently been loading up there. It steamed unhurt over the Vaal bridge, which was immediately blown up.

A general advance of the 8th Corps was made dismounted, and the enemy driven back, so that at noon the whole brigade was over the Vaal, much to the delight of the manager of the mines, who had been in a state of great anxiety. He treated all officers to breakfast, and told us that the Boers had not expected our force for two days, and that the party just ejected by us had arrived that very morning with the intention of blowing up his mines. He estimated that one million sterling had been saved by our unexpected arrival.

Our only casualty during the day was Sergeant H.A. Campbell, slightly wounded.

At 5 P.M. we moved off to our new camp, guarding the Vaal bridge, with the promise of a sorely-needed halt next day.

From this brief chronicle nobody would suppose that the honour of reconnoitring and drawing Boers out from their hiding-places among the sheds and shanties of corrugated iron at Viljoen’s Drift Station had fallen to Lumsden’s Horse. Lieutenant Pugh, however, supplies the missing links in a private letter:


_Photo: Bassano_ SERGEANT PERCY JONES, D.C.M. ]

It was my section’s turn to do the scouting, and they did very well, getting information that there was a train and fifty men in the station this side of the Vaal. Two other regiments of Mounted Infantry each sent out an officer’s patrol of about fifty men, and each came back full split. One of their officers told my scouts that if they did not wish to be shot they had better clear, but Peddie thought this was not business; he, being in charge of the advanced scouts, went on till they were fired on and then halted. We had to wait for orders to advance for about half an hour, and saw the train steam out of the station and over the bridge and presently blow up one span. With a dash we could have caught the men and train, and probably saved the bridge, as we had two Maxims, and we could easily have driven the Boers off. We then crossed the river and drove their rearguard out of Vereeniging. They took the opportunity of burning a large store of mealies at the station. Our guns got into them well as they bolted across the plain. We had a very nice fight, and everyone is much pleased, even the Chief of the Staff.

Through all this advance, in which Lumsden’s Horse, with other corps of the 8th Mounted Infantry, reconnoitred ahead of the army, troopers who had been trained to field sports proved invaluable, and sometimes at least a match for the wily Boer. Nobody distinguished himself more by skill at this work than Corporal Percy Jones, whom Colonel Lumsden regarded as one of his best scouts, a man of great self-reliance, unfailing in resources, and with a very keen eye for a country, so that he never allowed the section of which he was leader to be entrapped or surprised. For repeated acts of daring enterprise he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and given the ‘Distinguished Conduct’ Medal. Others who, being selected for some specially difficult or dangerous duty, had on occasion distinguished themselves as scouts, or who, by actions of individual gallantry, won mention in despatches, with subsequent honours, were Trooper Preston (D.C.M.), Trooper H.N. Betts (D.C.M.), Trooper W.B. Dexter (D.C.M.), and Corporal G. Peddie. Trooper H.R. Parks, Sergeant Dale, Sergeant Llewhellin, and Corporal C.E. Turner also performed meritorious actions, for which they were mentioned in despatches.[12]

Though little has been said of the privations endured by our soldiers during their forced marches from Kroonstad to reach the Vaal River before its steep sandy banks could be made formidable by entrenchments, as the Modder was, some troops suffered severely from want of sufficient food, and nearly all were on short rations. It is certain, however, that not many could have been so near the ravenous stage of starvation as a private in one colonial corps, of whose act a trooper of Lumsden’s Horse writes:

The day we crossed the Vaal River a very interesting thing happened; we were very hungry, and when we got to Vereeniging a dog was seen running away with half a loaf of bread in his mouth. Immediately a private darted out of the ranks and rode the dog down, took the bread out of his mouth, and ate it.

At last Lumsden’s Horse were on Transvaal territory. Another vaunted stronghold, which the Boers had declared they would defend to the last extremity, was in our hands, without even the semblance of a struggle for it. Generals French and Hutton had crossed the Vaal at important strategic points west of Vereeniging. All the most important drifts were thus held by us, and the ways open for British columns to enter the Transvaal without opposition. On the following day Lord Roberts, with his headquarters, moved across Viljoen’s Drift and issued a proclamation declaring that the Orange Free State had ceased to exist, and had become from that moment an integral part of the British Empire, to be known henceforth as Orange River Colony.

[Illustration: J.S. CAMPBELL]

[Illustration: C.E. TURNER]

[Illustration: E.S. CHAPMAN]

[Illustration: G. INNES WATSON]

[Illustration: C.E. STUART]

[Illustration: C. CARY-BARNARD]

[Illustration: E.S. CLIFFORD]

[Illustration: CORPORAL KIRWAN]

[Illustration: H. GOUGH]



In all operations up to this point Lumsden’s Horse, with Loch’s Horse and companies of the West Riding and Oxfordshire Light Infantry, forming the 8th Mounted Infantry Regiment, under Colonel Ross, had, with other corps of Colonel Henry’s brigade, been so actively engaged scouting ahead of the main column with which Lord Roberts moved, that they had neither time nor opportunity to know what was being done by other divisions of the army. It is necessary, therefore, to explain briefly here the general dispositions for an advance on Pretoria at the moment when Lord Roberts crossed Vaal River into Transvaal territory. Since they marched out of Kroonstad the troops, whose advance was most direct—following the line of railway with slight divergences—had covered just a hundred miles in four days. Mounted troops, being employed to reconnoitre on each flank and keep up communications along their front, almost doubled that distance. In face of such a rapid advance the Boer commandos which had dispersed after their evacuation of Kroonstad found a difficulty in concentrating for the defence of any strategic points. They were evidently puzzled by the sudden mobility of British forces, and, what with Methuen marching for the west, French’s Cavalry making a dash for the drifts at Parys and Reitzburg, as if Potchefstroom were their objective, the main column pushing along beside the railway for Viljoen’s Drift, and Ian Hamilton marching as if for Engelbrecht’s Drift on the Heilbron-Heidelberg road, the Boer commandants could not agree as to which point would most likely be threatened first or at which they might make a stand with the greatest chance of success. Hasty preparations were made by them with a view to checking General Ian Hamilton, whom they credited with a design on Heidelberg and the Eastern railways. Possibly that, combined with a great movement in force upon the junctions outside Johannesburg, might have been the shortest way to end the war, because, as we know now, the Boer Generals attached very little importance to the defence of their big towns, while they realised fully all the strategical advantages of free communication between Pretoria and the eastern districts; and President Kruger especially was anxious to keep open a line by which prominent members of his Administration might be able to get away with a sufficient store of bullion for private and political uses at the last moment. The defenders of Engelbrecht’s Drift, however, waited in vain watching the trap they had laid for General Ian Hamilton. His line of march had been suddenly changed by orders from Lord Roberts, and, instead of crossing the Vaal where he was expected, east of Vereeniging, he had made a rapid march westward to strike the river between General French’s Cavalry and the main body, leaving our right flank to be guarded by General Gordon with the 3rd Cavalry Brigade. With regard to all this and the ceremony at Viljoen’s Drift, when Lord Roberts proclaimed the annexation of Orange Free State to the British Crown, Lumsden’s Horse knew nothing at the time. Content with their own share of the good work that had been accomplished, they were consoling themselves by the prospect of at least one day’s well-earned rest for men and horses. But that good fortune was not to be theirs after all. Colonel Lumsden, continuing his official record, explains how these pleasant hopes were dashed:

The 27th dawned, the horses were turned out to graze, leave was given for men to go into town, and general cleaning up began, when suddenly at 10.30 A.M. we had an order to move at once to help the 3rd Cavalry Brigade under General Gordon, who was reported to be in a tight corner to the north-east. Horses were caught, saddles put on, and we were away by 11, with no rations for man or horse. The rest of the brigade joined in four miles further on. All proceeded with every precaution through a difficult bit of trappy country, arriving about 4.30 P.M. at the drift where General Gordon was supposed to be stuck up. There no signs of him could be seen, so we made tracks back to a point four miles north of Vereeniging, where we were to have joined our column, when it camped there that night. We struggled on until, our horses giving out, the whole brigade bivouacked at 8 P.M., having put behind us some seven miles of our return journey, and having done quite twenty-five miles. Lieutenant Neville, with a guide, was sent in to headquarters for instructions, and returned at 3 A.M. with the order that our brigade was to come on at once and resume its position in front of the headquarters, leading the army. By 4 A.M. we were away again in the bitter frosty cold, leading our starved horses, the sun rising as we waded a nasty drift over the Klip. We reached our place in the advance guard at 7, in the nick of time, just as all had begun to move off, and were at once pushed on three miles at a trot ahead of everything, fighting being expected at the notorious Klip River position. No Boers, however, were seen. The country was ablaze with the burning veldt, which the Boers had set fire to systematically as they went, and the Klip River was gained without a shot. There were sounds of heavy fighting, however, in the hills on our left, where French and Hamilton were forcing back the enemy on Johannesburg.

[Illustration: LIEUTENANT G.A. NEVILLE.]

With an editorial desire to link the separate operations into one chain, I may here describe from personal experience what happened away on that left flank where French and Hamilton were hotly engaged with the outposts of a Boer force, whose object in holding the high kopjes between Gatsrand and Klipriviersberg was obviously to force upon us a wider flanking movement, by which the western columns would be further separated from the main body and thus unable to co-operate with it effectively. It is improbable that Louis Botha had any hope of being able to defeat the British forces in detail by delivering a counter-stroke on each column in turn. It is far more likely that his idea even at that period was to lengthen out the British line of communications as far as possible, thus weakening it by attenuation and making it more vulnerable to attacks by small raiding parties. Co-operating with him was Christian De Wet, to whom such a plan would have been sure to commend itself as offering a chance for numbers of Free-Staters to slip through the girdle that was gradually closing about them, re-cross the Vaal, and harass their enemies on ground where local knowledge would give them every advantage.

On this supposition the resistance offered to General French some twenty-five miles north-west of Vereeniging had peculiar interest for me, because I watched the operations there with some foreknowledge of the probable Boer tactics gained in a curious way. Four days earlier I had breakfasted at a farm next to Christian De Wet’s, not far from Rodewal station. The farmer invited myself and a companion into his house, above which a white flag was flying, and when told that this was our Queen’s birthday he produced a bottle of whisky with which to drink to Her Majesty’s health, which we did readily enough, although he declined to join us. There was no unfriendliness or want of hospitality in that, and, indeed, we should have mistrusted the man if he had put on a pretence of loyalty because he had been induced to hoist the white flag as an emblem of neutrality. There were no troops at that moment nearer than Lumsden’s Horse, who could be seen on the sky-line about four miles westward, moving towards Vredefort Road Station.

From that direction presently came a young Boer well mounted but unarmed. His wary movements at first seemed to indicate that he had no desire to be seen by our troops, but our host explained that the road took many turns and twists which might puzzle a stranger. The horseman was evidently not well pleased to find Englishmen at the farm, but this we, being somewhat vain, attributed to jealousy, seeing that the youth and our host’s comely daughter were exchanging glances in which there might have been a world of other meaning, though we suspected it not. We knew instinctively that they were not quite strangers, but there were no signs of friendly recognition in our presence. After a brief conversation, carried on between the young man and the farmer aside, though neither of us could have understood the taal they talked, our host came forward and explained that his neighbour was simply riding from one farm to another, where the family had all surrendered and obtained their permits to live in peace. There was nothing to be done then except shake hands and part, but the next day my Basuto servant, who, having lived in Johannesburg, had a wholesome dread of Boer sjamboks, gave me a full interpretation of what he had overheard the young man say in that neighbourly talk with our burgher friend. The burden of it was that this guileless youth, Ferreira by name, had been sent by Christian De Wet to let everybody know why the Free State commandos were retiring with Botha’s Transvaalers instead of defending their own homesteads. It was only to lure the English on to destruction, and Christian De Wet promised that he would slip back again in a day or two to Rodewal and play Old Harry with the invaders.

Up to the time of joining General French’s force in the afternoon of May 28 I had regarded this as a vain boast. A closer study of Boer tactics, however, was enough to show what they were playing for, and I watched with some apprehension our Cavalry moving westward in vain attempts to outflank the mobile Boers, who were galloping from kopje to kopje on one side of a vast dam fringed by treacherous mires which French’s squadrons could not cross. Ian Hamilton meanwhile conformed to this movement without getting touch of the enemy or drawing near to their stronghold, which was obviously on the frowning crest of Klipriviersberg (shortened by the Boers colloquially to Riviersberg).

Being alone, and far from my supplies, I slept supperless that night in a deserted Boer store, for the sake of such shelter as a wall and roof might give from a keen icy wind that swept in gusts through the broken windows. I had neither overcoat nor blanket, and saw nothing to lie on but a filthy floor or the bare laths of a rickety iron bedstead. I chose the latter. Having been in the saddle from 5 in the morning until 10 at night, with the exception of necessary halts for my horse to graze, I was soon oblivious to the discomfort of that rude couch, and, for all I knew, my pillow might have been softest down instead of hard saddle-flaps. But long before daybreak the cravings of a hunger that had only been tantalised by coffee and biscuit twenty-four hours earlier awoke me to a consciousness that my limbs were aching with cold and sore from the chafing of those sharp-edged laths. Striking a light, I looked at the little thermometer attached to my wallet, and found that it registered ten degrees of frost. More sleep was not to be thought of, so I groped through the darkness to a stall only less draughty than the store I had slept in, found my horse shivering there, rubbed him down with a wisp of straw, by way of restoring his circulation and my own, and waited for the dawn. Then I found my way across vleis and spruits to where General Ian Hamilton’s force was moving off through dense mists from Cyferfontein to attack the Boer position on Riviersberg. When the rising sun dispelled those mists the Gordons and City Imperial Volunteers were spread out in thin lines stretching fan-like across a segment of the veldt, and so they went on hour after hour without finding any sign of Boers. The pangs of hunger being all-potent, I rode off in search of a farm, hoping also to come across another British column within a few miles. After an hour or more I was gladdened by the sight of Haartebeestefontein Farm standing in the midst of green mealie-patches and belted about by eucalyptus trees—the very picture of peace. At that moment four Boers drove out from the farm-yard in a well-horsed Cape cart, but made no sign at sight of me except by driving the faster. They needn’t have been in such a hurry to get away from an unarmed and famished Englishman, who had not one comrade within miles. But luckily they didn’t know.

Though French’s Cavalry had been at the farm a day before me and ransacked the Veldt-Cornet’s deserted house, in search of any documents that might have been left there, ducks were swimming in a pond close by and fowls cackling about the sheds from which some Kaffirs presently appeared. To my request, for bread or eggs or milk they had but one answer, ‘Ikona.’ The sight of a loaded revolver might have produced some effect, but, having none, I dismounted and made a systematic search. If food in any shape was there it must have been very cleverly hidden. Finding not so much as a bundle of oat-hay for my horse to nibble at, I rode on across ridge and hollow another five miles or so, and then came upon a little dorp or hamlet, from which all the inhabitants except a Dutch schoolmaster and his wife had disappeared. They declared that not a scrap of food had been left behind. But the good vrau gave me a cup of excellent coffee, and with thanks for the best of hospitality, which gives all it can, I jogged along another league or two, following the straight road towards Johannesburg and expecting every minute to fall in with the rearguard of a column going that way. All the while I had not seen a single soldier or the trace of an iron-shod hoof that was not at least a day old. The unmistakable marks of ‘ammunition’ boots were not there, and neither horse nor man had left footprints on tracks where the morning’s thaw had softened them. At last from a rugged ridge I saw smoke curling up from houses among the trees that marked the course of a river some two miles ahead. Not caring much by that time whether Britons or Boers might be in those houses, I rode straight for the nearest of them, which turned out to be a farm in the barn of which I saw much forage.

Evidently none of our mounted troops had been there, but it was too late to think of turning back. That, in all probability, would have brought a Mauser bullet whistling about my ears. ‘Bluff’ was the only game to play in such circumstances, so I called to a Kaffir servant, told him to fetch forage for my horse, and then swaggered towards the house as if I had been a Staff officer with a whole regiment at my back. On the stoep a bearded Boer met me. He had been lying prone on ground where rhenoster bushes grew. Their burrs were still sticking to his serge jacket, the left elbow of which was stained by the red earth on which it had rested, and his right thumb was black with a coating of burnt melinite. I saw it all as he raised one hand in a sort of half-military salute, and extended the other to welcome me, and in that moment I knew he had just come down from Riviersberg heights for lunch in the intervals of fighting. So, still playing an assumed part, I asked what weapons he had, and he brought me a well-worn Martini-Henry; but that was not what I wanted. After some show of misunderstanding the Boer brought his wife, who talked English fluently enough, and when I had explained to her the awful consequences of concealing arms or ammunition from a British officer, holding plenary powers of punishment, there was no necessity for saying any more. Without even waiting for my words to be interpreted, her husband went out and came back with a Mauser rifle, the fouling of which was still moist round its breech-chamber, and a bandolier half full of cartridges. These I took charge of, not knowing what I should do with them if a Boer commando happened to come that way. As to British troops—well, at any rate, I had no hesitation in assuring the Boer that his household would be safe from them. I did not think it necessary to add that none would be likely to come anywhere near him. In return for my leniency (save the mark!) he suggested something that had been in my mind all the while, and thereupon his good wife brought a deliciously white loaf and milk that was fragrant in its freshness. She was sorry that they ‘had nothing better to offer.’ Nothing better! Heavens, how sweet it tasted! Yet I was restrained from eating or drinking much by the thought that any show of my famished state would give me away. It was difficult to parry all questions concerning the number of troops I had with me, so I said that my men must have found a lot of arms to collect or they would have been there sooner. Upon that the Boer volunteered information as to the number of rifles which could possibly be in farms or cottages round about. All this information I noted down ostentatiously, wondering as I did so how on earth I should get out of the hole into which circumstances were thrusting me deeper and deeper.

At that moment, as luck would have it, two West Australians of the 4th Regiment M.I. turned up, and, leaving them to collect the arms of which such careful note had been made, and to eat the remnants of my unfinished meal I mounted to ride off in quest of their main body, taking care, however, to command proper protection for the house in which I had been so hospitably entertained. ‘Well played,’ said one, with much outward show of respect, as he produced a bottle of brandy from the ample pocket of his ‘coat British warm,’ and offered me a nip. I saw that he, at any rate, understood the game. At Eikenhof Drift I found the main body which turned out to be no more than a patrol. Its appearance drew fire from the Boers, who were apparently holding that road into Johannesburg strongly. They began to show in groups of twenty and thirty on kopjes where no sign of them had been seen before, and were evidently meditating a movement by which the drift might have been outflanked. To prevent this Major Pilkington, who was in command, detached some men from his scanty force to hold two smaller fords, and in a short time there were several casualties from rifle fire at short range. Just then we could hear the roar of guns where General Ian Hamilton was attacking miles away on the left. Hard pressed, yet determined to hold on where he was, Major Pilkington had not a galloper whom he could send with a message to his divisional General, Pole-Carew. I volunteered to carry it, and started for a ride of twenty miles across unknown country, making sure that I should hit off some column within that distance. But all the troops under the immediate command of Lord Roberts had been following the line of railway—where their front was cleared by the 8th Mounted Infantry, with which were Lumsden’s Horse and other regiments of Colonel Henry’s brigade—in a turning movement, the extent of which will be appreciated after perusal of the preceding narrative. I had ridden a distance that would have measured nearly thirty miles from point to point without seeing more than a small patrol of British troops. That night, or early the next morning, when Major Pilkington had withdrawn his small force, a thousand Free State Boers crossed Eikenhof Drift and got in rear of the British columns to rejoin De Wet. Meanwhile, with French or Hamilton on the west, and in advance of the main body on the east, deeds were being done that sealed the fate of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Lumsden’s Horse took a full share of honours that day, though their Colonel does not descant upon these at great length in his official report, but contents himself with the following record:

On the 29th we marched at 5.30, expecting to arrive after ten miles at Natal Spruit, where fighting was certain. Our maps and information were, however, wrong, for we found ourselves most unexpectedly in sight of the place with the smoke of the train leaving the station.

We were sent to endeavour to cut it off as it wound about the kopjes, and had a very exciting gallop of three miles, blowing up the railway behind the train. Again we pushed on to try and cut her off at the next big bend, but again were too late, and ran into the fire of a party covering the retreat of the train.

We then took up a position commanding the railroad, while under Colonel Ross’s orders a party of five men was sent to block the line at any cost. This very dangerous task was given to Lieutenant Pugh and the undermentioned men, who carried it out with great determination and coolness: Privates Turner, Were, Dagge, and Parks.

An officer of high rank, whose opportunities of knowing what happened give especial value to his testimony, says:

On May 29 the 8th Mounted Infantry were ordered to move from Klip Drift to cut the Natal Railway line, the Springs line (the main line north of Elandsfontein), and the telegraph wires at important points. When near the junction of Natal and Free State lines we saw a train-load of burghers from Natal passing northwards to where, beyond the junction, the railway runs from a broad valley into one of several converging kopjes through a deep cutting in the steep and rugged hillside. With the object of heading off that train as it slackened speed on a stiff gradient, Lumsden’s Horse made a great gallop up the valley towards a point where it narrows to a neck, from which the hills rise abruptly on each side. Their course for two or three miles was over rough ground parallel to the railway and nearly midway between it and a branch of Natal Spruit. They were unable, however, to arrive in time, and the Boers, detraining, occupied a kopje just above the railway cutting, the gorge and banks of which they could command from the ridge above and from a ganger’s hut, which they also held in force. Thus they had the railway between them and Lumsden’s Horse, and seemed in a good position for sweeping all approaches to it by an effective rifle fire. Lumsden’s Horse dismounted in the hollow and advanced against that kopje.

It was, however, necessary to destroy the line, and the Engineer officer who accompanied the force for the purpose of blowing up the line was not handy. Lieutenant Pugh, with four men, then volunteered to get into the cutting at its deepest point and either block or break it. As the Boers were holding the ganger’s hut close to this point, it was a warm corner! However, Pugh and his party reached the line. The four men covered his further advance from the edge of the embankment whilst he descended into the cutting. Having nothing wherewith to break the line, he effectually blocked it with a number of huge boulders—quite sufficient to stop any train passing through. This occupied some time, and his covering party were pretty busy with the Boers at the hut, who were at first inclined to run in on him. But as one or two of them paid dearly for their temerity, their efforts ceased, so that Pugh and his party were enabled to retreat from their little picnic without loss. Pugh is now a D.S.O.

It was a long and hard day that 29th of May; the 8th Mounted Infantry were under fire from 7 A.M. till 9 P.M. Lumsden’s Horse were among the _few_ troops in at the finish on the hill north of Elandsfontein, where the parting duel was fought with the Boers as they retreated. All the lines were cut. The consequent bag was fourteen engines and over 400 waggons—not a bad day’s work. Even Lord Kitchener is reported to have ‘smiled’ when he heard the news.


_Photo: Harrington & Co._ LIEUTENANT H.O. PUGH, D.S.O. ]

This incident is described with further detail in a private letter by Lieutenant Pugh, who, modestly minimising his own share in a very hazardous enterprise, writes:

Yesterday our orders were to take Elandsfontein, cut the wires and blow up the railway, and to do the same at Germiston. The first excitement began at Elsburg, where we saw a train going out of the station. Seeing it was on the move, we sent some men to try to cut it off, but it went back up an angle like the Darjiling train. There was another angle, and we galloped about three miles to that part, but the train was too fast and went round a kopje, where its occupants evidently got out and opened fire on us. If we had known the line we would have got that train easily by going to the left instead of to the right. While we were dismounted and firing an order came for six men to rush for the line and try to block it. The Colonel passed on for the six men at the end to go. It happened to be partly my section and partly No. 4. One man could not find his horse, so I went off with four men and galloped right up to the railway and under the embankment. It was held by a fairly strong picket, who luckily did not fire till we were under cover. I put two men on to fire at that picket, of which three were hit—the range was only about fifty yards—and the other two on to about 100 on our left front 200 or 300 yards off. We were also fired at from a kopje on our right. The picket presently cleared, and I made a rush for the line: it was in a cutting and out of the fire. I rolled some boulders on the lines, and on getting back found a pretty hot fire had opened on us from behind: it turned out to be one of our own Maxims. We mounted and galloped back without a scratch.

Colonel Ross’s orders then were to push on and support the 4th Mounted Infantry, who held a kopje on our right. Here we lay for two hours, our position overlooking the Boksburg railway station, supported by two Colt guns from Ross’s Battery, which kept up a steady fire in answer to the enemy’s shells and bullets until their retirement. We then continued the turning movement to the right and took possession of the station, halting there for a few minutes to re-form, while the Royal Engineer Company attached to us for the purpose blew up the line at this point. One of our sailors, Private Dexter, swarming up the telegraph post, cut all communication with Springs. At the time we and a company of Compton’s Horse were the only troops up, and, being reinforced by two companies of the 4th Mounted Infantry, which were placed under my orders, we were told to proceed with all speed due west to blow up the Pretoria line, which we should find four miles on. We succeeded in doing this, but too late to cut off one train, which just evaded us, our horses being too done to go faster than a modest trot. We again halted a few minutes, facing a long kopje in front of us.


WALTER DEXTER, D.C.M., B Company, cutting the telegraph wires at Elandsfontein (_From a sketch by J.S. Cowen_) ]

Colonel Lumsden adds:

While the Royal Engineer Company were busy blowing up the railway at this point, Captain Rutherfoord on the left, with our scouts, with his usual keenness soon came in touch with those of the enemy, and a brisk fire ensued on both sides, Captain Rutherfoord holding his position until I was able to reinforce him on his right flank. Colonel Ross soon hurried up further reinforcements on his left, which enabled us to hold the kopje and forced the enemy to fall back on the convoy they were covering. As night was approaching, pursuit with our tired horses was utterly hopeless, and we were ordered to move to our left and encamp at Germiston, which lay in the hollow behind us. This, being the junction of railway lines that branch off in several directions, was the key of the Boer position. Our day’s movements had, however, been very successful, and Colonel Henry issued a brigade order next morning saying he had been congratulated by the Commander-in-Chief on the day’s work; while Colonel Ross was also congratulated on the prominent part taken by his corps, which resulted in the capture of fourteen engines and a large quantity of rolling-stock. This was very pleasant news to us, but the work was telling its tale on the horses, who were dead beat and fast tumbling to pieces from overwork and want of food. Our casualty was fortunately only one during the day—namely, Private J.D. Bewsher, who was shot through the knee while we were engaging the enemy opposite Boksburg.

Owing to the pace we had travelled and the hilly nature of the country, our Maxim gun under Captain Holmes, with its escort, had not come into camp when we retired to bed. The men, as on many previous occasions, had to turn in without food, and their horses were in the same plight.

In another action, on the 30th, north of Germiston, Trooper Elwes, son of the Archdeacon of Madras, was wounded by a bullet through the ankle and Trooper Radford had his horse shot in two places.


_Photo: D. Brownsworth_ P.C. PRESTON, D.C.M. ]

Describing Trooper Preston’s adventurous ride with despatches and his readiness of resource in a difficult situation, another correspondent writes:

Eight men of Lumsden’s Horse in charge of Sergeant Macnamara were sent out in a big patrol under Captain Harris, 1st West Riding M.I., with orders to take the Johannesburg Waterworks. Captain Harris paraded his sixty men, and chose two of Lumsden’s Horse as his orderlies. We then rode down the kopjes to the plain below, Compton’s Horse firing over our heads at the Boers all the time. As we went down we met Trooper Elwes, No. 2 Section, B Company, being brought in wounded through the ankle when on patrol with Lieutenant Pugh. About a mile away there was a farmhouse under the kopje which was held by the Boers; some Australians with us rushed the place, and captured three Boers and a waggon of ammunition. After marching about an hour, firing every now and then and being fired at, we got to the Waterworks on a hill towering above Johannesburg. The fort is on another hill half a mile away. It seemed as if trenches had been dug for us round the Waterworks, high banks of gravel perfectly protecting us. Trooper Preston, of Lumsden’s Horse, was sent back to Germiston with a despatch saying the Waterworks were occupied; he was to make the shortest possible cut, and gallop all the way. This orderly had a very exciting adventure. His shortest road lay through the outskirts of Johannesburg. When riding through these streets he saw several Boers peeping out of their houses, and at one place they actually tried to stop him. He galloped through them, however; they then shouted out to know if the English were in Johannesburg yet, and he answered that they were, knowing that if he said no he would as likely as not be shot at. They then asked where he was going to, and he said Pretoria. Thus it was that a man of Lumsden’s Horse was the first, or one of the first, to enter Johannesburg. A little further the orderly met two Kaffirs who could talk English, and who told him that among the rocks on a small kopje on the left of the road was an armed Boer waiting to shoot him. The orderly was puzzled what to do, as he could see no Boer behind the rocks; however, he dismounted and advanced on foot towards the kopje, leading his horse behind him. Having got within speaking distance of the rocks and still seeing no Boer, he put his rifle to his shoulder and pointed it at the biggest rock, shouting out, ‘Hands up, or I fire!’ Immediately two arms were seen above the rock, the order ‘Hold up your rifle’ was obeyed at once, and the orderly found he had captured the Boer. About a mile further on he met some Australians, and having to gallop with the despatch he handed the prisoner over to them, taking with him the rifle and ammunition. Alas! at the door of the Colonel’s tent whom should he meet but Lord Kitchener himself, who, seeing the orderly had two rifles, commandeered one. Meanwhile the Boers kept up a continuous fire at the Waterworks. However, several Englishmen and young ladies had climbed up the hill at the back and brought food and drink for the first of their countrymen whom they had seen—several of them, while Tommy ate and drank, firing away with the soldiers’ rifles at the fort. In the evening Preston brought the message to retire to camp, which was done in a very orderly fashion, the patrol arriving back soon after dark with the total casualties of three men wounded, having spent the most or one of the most exciting and agreeable days in the whole campaign.

Colonel Lumsden describes other incidents in the following passage:

A party of West Riding Regiment’s Mounted Infantry scouting on our left did not get off so easily, for seeing some men in khaki and helmets to their front they mistook them for friends, and, getting within speaking distance, were much surprised to find their morning’s greetings met with a summons to surrender. Their immediate attempt at flight resulted in two casualties—one wounded and taken prisoner, the other, although wounded, getting back to camp. Firing then became general on our right, where the 3rd Cavalry Brigade was on outpost duty, and we were hastily summoned to saddle up and reinforce them. We arrived in time to witness an artillery duel, the Boers retiring slowly under the fire of the Cavalry pom-poms. The morning’s work, however, resulted badly for them, they having had sixteen casualties, which were attended to by our medical officer, Captain Powell, who was luckily on the spot.

We then returned to camp, and shortly afterwards Captain Holmes came in with his Maxim gun, reporting that he had lost two of his scouting party, Privates Cary-Barnard and G.I. Watson, whom he had sent out in advance while journeying to rejoin us in the early morning. A few hours afterwards the missing men came into camp, stating that having been informed that our men were in front they had ridden confidingly into a body of about fifty men dressed like our own troops in khaki, thinking they were friends, but were suddenly disillusioned by being ordered to surrender. Under the conditions attempting to escape on their worn-out horses was out of the question, and they had no option but to deliver up their arms. They were cross-questioned as to our strength and the likely duration of the war. Private Watson, in reply to the latter question, told the General that he considered fighting would be over in a few days, a reply that seemed to cause much amusement. They were then offered the choice of remaining as prisoners or giving their word of honour that they would fight no more during this war. They chose the latter, thinking the end was very near.

Next morning, June 1, our orders were to march on Johannesburg, six miles distant, which we reached unopposed in time to see the Union Jack hoisted over the Fort, which had been divested of all its guns except a few rendered useless. We then marched some five miles north of the city, and camped for two days. On the morning of the 3rd we marched twelve miles towards Pretoria, meeting no resistance, but again losing touch with our Maxim, which, being unable to follow us across country, had to stick to the road, and which we were destined not to see for several days.

So Lumsden’s Horse had gratified one desire on which their hearts were set for many months. Their brigade had led the fighting line practically into Johannesburg, and when the Union Jack was hoisted over its public buildings they cared nothing for the ceremonial parades, but were only anxious to take the lead again in a march on Pretoria. With soldier-like brevity Colonel Lumsden’s chronicle sums up the operations of an eventful day:

On June 4 we advanced to Six Mile Spruit, again being the foremost corps of the leading brigade, all anticipating a heavy fight in front of us, as the spruit was said to be our enemy’s last position and likely therefore to be desperately contested. These prognostications were not, however, realised. Careful reconnaissance showed that there were no Boers at the spruit. We then proceeded leisurely up the chain of hills beyond it, concluding they were not held, but with every precaution against the unexpected. It was not until midday that we came in touch with the enemy, who opened on the 4th Mounted Infantry on our right with shell fire. We were then pushed forward to take a commanding kopje, and got a smart peppering from a few snipers hidden in the rocks on our left flank, but had no casualties, though the bullets were falling thickly among us as we crossed the open.

It now became evident that the enemy’s main position was on our left, and I was ordered to occupy a ridge about one mile distant in that direction, opposite a steep kopje about 1,000 yards off held by the Boers. Here they were beautifully entrenched and kept up a steady fire on our line, which we returned with interest, until aid arrived in the shape of three fifteen-pounders on the right, two pom-poms on our left, and three Colt guns in the centre. These searched the ridge for some hours without dislodging the Boers, whose trenches must have been admirably constructed, as a move on our part from one rock to another was sufficient to draw a hail of bullets, while we were unable to spot a single Boer.

Here Private Charles E. Stuart was wounded by a bullet through the ankle, but was unable to be removed from the firing line until the fire slackened late in the afternoon, when a kind friend carried him down on his back to the ambulance tonga at the foot of the hill.

At about 4 P.M. the enemy’s fire began to dwindle, and eventually ceased altogether, and just as we meditated leaving our ridge to cross over to theirs our Infantry became visible, advancing from westward along the ridge which the enemy had occupied, while to our right front, some two miles off, more British Infantry appeared on the sky line, showing that the Boer position had been quitted. At this period our Brigadier’s orders came for us to retire from the kopje and make our bivouac for the night somewhere on the plain below.

June 5 was the day on which we reached the goal we had been struggling for. Pretoria at last, not fighting our way in, as anticipated by everybody, but forming a peaceful procession, with our baggage behind us, news having arrived that the Governor had surrendered the town late the previous night.

We were not allowed to halt, but just passed through the city and out to Irene, a station ten miles south of Pretoria and on the Johannesburg line, which we at present occupy, the whole corps protecting the rail from Pretoria to Johannesburg.


Footnote 9:

Hindustani for ‘fowls.’—ED.

Footnote 10:

Hindustani for ‘orders.’—ED.

Footnote 11:

Hindustani for ‘blunder.’—ED.

Footnote 12:

See Appendix IV.—ED.



That march through Pretoria, marked by none of the pomp and pageantry which imagination conjures up as essential features of a great triumph, must have seemed a lame and impotent conclusion to the stirring drama of real life in which Lumsden’s Horse had played their manful part, cheered always by the prospect of a glorious reward for all their struggles, hardships, and sacrifices in the final downfall of Boer power when the Transvaal capital should be in our hands. They were not the only people who entertained such sanguine hopes and felt proportionally disappointed at the inadequate realisation. For nearly every soldier at that time in South Africa, from Lord Roberts downwards, Pretoria had been the goal, and its conquest the climax beyond which no operations of serious importance could possibly be called for. Few people, if any, realised then how little value Boers attach to great towns as strategical bases. With the capture of Johannesburg and Pretoria we had theoretically all their arsenals and main lines of communication in our hands, and according to all hard-and-fast rules of warfare the campaign should have ended then. That impression was certainly strong on the Commander-in-Chief’s mind shortly before dusk of June 4, when Colonel De Lisle, whose Mounted Infantry had followed the enemy to within 2,000 yards of Pretoria, sent an officer under a flag of truce to demand the surrender of the town. The end might possibly have come then, if, instead of waiting five hours for a reply to that summons and seven hours longer for the unconditional surrender which Lord Roberts insisted upon when Commandant-General Botha’s tardy message reached him, we had risked everything in a night attack on the town. But at dawn the next morning Botha sent a simple message to say that he was not prepared to defend Pretoria further, and therefore he entrusted the women, children, and property to his enemy’s protection. In other words, we were quite at liberty to march into a town from which every fighting commando, all treasure, and nearly every munition of war had by that time been safely removed. One big gun was still in the station on a train that waited to take British prisoners away, but they had risen in mutiny at the last moment and refused to go, wherefore the train went without them, its movements being hastened by the sight of British troops coming over the hills. To Colonel Henry’s Mounted Infantry, of which Lumsden’s Horse formed a part, was given the honour of being first to enter Pretoria by the Rustenburg Road, as the Guards Brigade of General Pole-Carew’s division marched in on another side, without firing a shot. So the goal was reached; but we found it to all intents and purposes a hollow triumph. There had been no surrender of the Boer army or of anything that could weaken its power for further resistance. The cage was in our hands, but the hawk had gone with wings unpinioned. Every soldier probably felt, as Lumsden’s Horse did, that any show of triumph would have been out of place in the circumstances. They took no part even in the ceremonial parade when Lord Roberts made his formal entry and the Union Jack was hoisted on the Raadzaal that afternoon, but had at least the satisfaction of knowing that their services of the previous day were appreciated by the Commander-in-Chief, who, in his despatches, wrote:

I marched with Henry’s Mounted Infantry, four companies Imperial Yeomanry, Pole-Carew’s division, Maxwell’s brigade, and the naval and siege guns, to Six-mile Spruit, both banks of which were occupied by the enemy. The Boers were quickly dislodged from the south bank by the Mounted Infantry and Imperial Yeomanry, and pursued for nearly a mile, when our troops came under artillery fire. The enemy then moved along a series of ridges parallel to our main line of advance, with the object of turning our left flank; but in this they were checked by the Mounted Infantry and Imperial Yeomanry, supported by Maxwell’s brigade.

[Illustration: J. SKELTON]

[Illustration: R.P. HAINES]

[Illustration: H.W. THELWALL]

[Illustration: C.K. MARTIN]

[Illustration: H.S. CHESHIRE]

[Illustration: H.B. OLDHAM]

[Illustration: M.H. LOGAN]

[Illustration: J.V. JAMESON]

[Illustration: H. HOWES]


Seeing that Louis Botha, with all the main body of Boers, had retired eastward, Lord Roberts realised the importance of making his line of communications secure in that direction, and he therefore paid a high compliment to the troops under Colonel Ross in selecting them for that duty. A few days after taking up the positions assigned to him, Colonel Lumsden wrote from Irene a letter in which he expressed his opinion of the work that had been done by all ranks in the corps under his command:

We have been told off to hold the line of communications from Pretoria to Johannesburg, A Company and Headquarters taking the first ten miles, B Company the second, and the remainder of the 8th Corps in detachments all down the line. We are here for an indefinite time, awaiting events.

Our Maxim gun under Captain Holmes has rejoined us here, having been with General French’s columns.

This is a much needed rest for all, and especially for our horses, as they are utterly unfit to do more than a couple of days’ hard marching, and I can only put ninety mounted men, including officers, into the field.

This, considering the corps landed with a full complement of 250 horses and has since received nearly 150 remounts, will give you an idea of what we have gone through, and the wear and tear our horses have had through hard marching and short feeding.

Taking it as a whole, officers and men have kept excellent health, the only prevalent disease being dysentery. The days are bright and sunny, without being hot; at times it is even cold. The nights, however, are always bitterly cold, and it is quite a usual occurrence, on awaking, to find the grass covered with frost and the water in the hand-basin frozen over. This will give you some idea of the pleasure of sleeping out with only the sky for a roof.

Our total casualties have amounted to twenty-five—just ten per cent. of the force we landed with, and a very large proportion of our ordinary fighting strength, considering that the most we have ever put in the field was 186, and we are now reduced to under a hundred mounted men.

We have heard of the release of our prisoners, and expect them to join us in a few days. Our only casualties in this shape were the seven taken on April 30 at Ospruit.

I cannot say too much in praise of the conduct of my officers and men from first to last, under many hardships and in very trying circumstances, and I feel sure they have gained a name for themselves which their many friends both in England and in India have just cause to be proud of.

I am confident that my meed of praise will be fully endorsed by those under whom I and my corps have had the honour to serve.

It is considered that the war is virtually over, and, at any rate, I fancy all Volunteer corps will be disbanded within a short time.

I have kept our accounts as nearly as possible up to date, but we are unaware if any pay already claimed has yet been placed to our credit in Cape Town, and in the meantime troopers are receiving advances through this office out of the funds brought by me from India. Fortunately, I have been able to cash cheques in the towns we have passed through, and I hope I may succeed in doing so at Pretoria to-morrow, as our cash in the box is reduced to four sovereigns.

We have received no mails, either from England or India, for the past six weeks, and we are all anxiously awaiting news.

The Special Correspondent of the ‘Englishman,’ whose close association with the corps in all circumstances can be traced through every letter, does not take his banishment to lines of communication with the Stoical philosophy that characterises Colonel Lumsden. After the freshness of it has gone he writes:

Irene—that’s where Lumsden’s Horse have been putting in time since Lord Roberts supplanted Paul Kruger in the jurisdiction of the town and in the hearts of the people of Pretoria. Irene is not so called because of any resemblance it bears to the Irene of the classics. For of all the forsaken places which it has pleased Providence to dot down on this earth of ours Irene is the most forsaken. Perhaps the Boers, in their cunning, calculated that by giving it a name like music its reproach in the land might be less. The predominating feature of the scenery in Irene is the railway. That, with rare persistence for a Transvaal railway, runs right through the place in a straight line. The late Government of this country knew a lot about railways. A crow might have done the distance between, say, Bloemfontein and Pretoria in 250 miles, but it takes the railway 500 miles. And each mile cost as many hundred pounds to build. The Government fell in with the contractor’s miscalculation. The railway is full of curves, elegant but unnecessary, and the Government—_garib admi, sahib! Huzoor, bucksheesh!_

Near the station stood a culvert so big that it deserved to be called a bridge. There the Boers had placed a charge of dynamite. The dynamite went off pop, and the bridge, the embankment, a section of the river, and a large slice of the scenery became as naught. Then as Lord Roberts swept north he dropped a Sapper or two—no orders, no need of any. But in three days trains as long as Chowringhee skipped over where the bridge had been, and only the two Sappers trembled for the safety of their bag o’ tricks. No Tommy ever doubts the inventions of a Sapper. And, despite the absent-mindedness attributed to him, Tommy is a man ever suspicious of the doings of his neighbour. But everybody knows about Sappers and their wonderful works.

Hence it was that Lumsden’s Horse went to Irene. The powers that had newly begun to be in Pretoria said we were to do steady Horatio, without any theatrical business, to that bridge, while the Sappers slung things about and made it _pucca_. After three weeks of guarding this babe of the Royal Engineers the truth dawned upon Lumsden’s Horse that they were on lines of communication. ’Twas no place for them, thought they, but the authorities had their own designs, and Lumsden’s Horse were spread out to such places as Zurfontein, Kalfontein, Oliphantfontein, Springs, &c., where the railway had been foolish enough to risk itself in the air and endanger its existence thereby, for the Boers are death and dynamite on everything in the shape of a bridge. However, while Lumsden’s Horse took care of those places no Boers ventured to disturb the peace, though they played the devil with them when we had gone.

Troopers who had not been spoilt by luxurious idleness as prisoners of war in Pretoria took a less cynical view of their situation at Irene until the monotony of it began to depress them. Notwithstanding their disappointment at having to leave Pretoria behind them before they had a chance of discovering how illusive was its outward show of plenty, they soon became reconciled to the fate that deprived them of a share in the garrison duties which would have seemed but a dull substitute for the festivities and celebrations that imagination had conjured up as a natural sequence of a triumphal entry into the Boer capital. On discovering that the surrender of Pretoria had not brought peace appreciably nearer, the correspondent of the ‘Indian Daily News’ wrote quite cheerfully:

We saw very little of the town, as, after waiting near the racecourse for about two hours, we were, much to our disgust, marched off to a station called Irene, about ten miles down the line, where we were to be put on lines of communication. Our hopes of a bit of a spin in the town after the toilsome march up were therefore blasted, and growling was more or less general, naturally enough. I think our tempers were not improved by the fact that the road out was a mass of dust, which kept going down our throats and into our eyes till one could hardly speak or see. Once in camp and settled down, things wore a very different appearance, however. Irene is a nicely wooded place, with a beautiful stream of water running just handy—in fact, a perfect camping ground; just close by is situated the model farm of the Transvaal. The grounds are very extensive, and fruit and vegetables of all sorts are grown. There is also a large fenced-in enclosure, where deer, hartebeeste, and other animals run wild. We stayed at Irene two days, and then the 8th Mounted Infantry, accompanied by three sections of B Company, went on to Kalfontein, a station about ten miles further south, leaving A Company and No. 3 Section B Company to garrison Irene. Arriving at Kalfontein late in the evening, we camped about a couple of miles from the railway station till next day, when our company moved into the station compound. We parted with the 8th Mounted Infantry here, they being sent to various stations down the line, and sorry we were to lose our old friends. Kaalfontein railway station is surrounded by nice trees, under which we kept our horses and made ourselves at home. Knowing that this would be our station for some time, we laid in a stock of pots and pans collected from the empty farmhouses, of which there were several in the vicinity, and did our cooking in _pucca_ style. Ducks, geese, and turkeys, to say nothing of cocks and hens, besides our rations of mutton and beef, kept us going merrily, and groceries, &c., were obtainable from a few storekeepers, who paid us visits once a week. It was not surprising, therefore, that after a month of this sort of thing, with comparatively light work, after the rough time we had been having on the march up, the appearance of the men all round improved considerably, chubby rosy cheeks and well-filled-out bodies taking the place of hollow sunken-in features and more or less meagre frames. The weather, though bitterly cold in the nights and early mornings, and very warm as a rule during the days, was thoroughly enjoyable, and accounted in a great measure, no doubt, for the improved state of most of the men’s health. Our work consists in patrolling the line south of Irene, and also the country round on every side, and we also supply men daily for observation posts in various directions.

The life we lead is, for the most part, a peaceful one, though in examining farms and scouring the country round, which we do in parties of six, under an officer as a rule, there is always the chance of being potted by the wily Boer. This has happened on three occasions during our stay, our men being fired upon at close range, and having to flee for their lives. None of us was touched, but the bullets came pretty close most times. These small patrols, by the way, are, I think, the most unsatisfactory part of one’s work, looked at from a personal point of view. One stands every chance of being shot, and knows that immediately one is fired at it is a case of turning and riding for dear life, without a chance of retaliation, or at any rate immediate retaliation, as the Boers always outnumber us and hold the positions on these occasions.

Most of the farms round about Kalfontein are unoccupied, the farmers and their families evidently having left in haste, only carrying away a few necessaries with them; but some of their houses have been left in charge of the Boer Memsahibs, the Sahibs having gone on a man-shooting expedition with the nearest commando, or, perhaps, being Commandants themselves. A case in point is that of Commandant Erasmus, who has a large farm about seven miles from here, where he has left his wife and five or six comely daughters. Needless to say, this is a favourite patrol, though the girls are shy and retiring, and the old lady waxes very wroth when approached with a view to doing a deal in sheep, saying she has only enough to keep herself and family going, doubtless including papa when he pays them his periodical visit by stealth during the night.

Another trooper takes up the narrative with a sigh of regret for the things that cannot be got at Boer farms for love or money:

We are all languishing for an iced whisky peg and a decent meal, and often wonder whether we shall enjoy either again. Our work has been no picnic, and, though we are all as enthusiastic over it as ever, I must admit our experiences have been many and hard. We have dwindled down in numbers, too, through casualties and sickness, and our clothing is showing signs of wear and tear. The spick-and-span stage has long since vanished, and a wash once a week is a luxury. Some had grown quite respectable—disrespectable I might say—beards, but the Colonel has a rooted antipathy to hirsute growth on the chin. We have also had some changes. Trooper Percy Smith has obtained a commission in the Berkshires, but _pro tem._ is doing duty with the 8th Mounted Infantry; Trooper Huddleston (a cousin of Lady Roberts and brother to the E.I.R. Traffic Manager) has been appointed Assistant-Commissioner of Police in Kroonstad, while Lieutenant Pugh fills a similar office at Heilbron.

We have been cut off from our mails for more than a month, and are very anxious to see the letters that have accumulated somewhere for us. Our doings, I expect, have been telegraphed to India as they occurred, for there is a plethora of newspaper correspondents following in the wake of the army and with Headquarters—Lionel James represents the ‘Times,’ and has been to see his Indian friends.

The Kaffir we have come in contact with here is a bad lot, and he has harassed the Boer farmers terribly during the war, being a perfect Pindaree in his depredations. He loots anything and everything he can lay hands on, and shifts his allegiance from Boer to British directly our troops enter his province. In this respect the excuse he makes is that since the outbreak of the war the Boers have not troubled to pay their native servants any wages, while keeping them at work as usual.

All the Volunteers (Colonial and Imperial) receive 5_s._ and as much as 7_s._ 6_d._ per day, while Kaffirs earn on an average 4_l._ 10_s._ per mensem in our employ. It comes a bit rough on us to find our remuneration fixed at 1_s._ 2_d._ _plus_ 3_d._ for rations per diem. Considering that we mainly exist on private purchases of stores, the want of ready money is a great hardship. Some of our troopers have spent from 10_l._ to 20_l._ a month on groceries and smokes since our arrival in Africa. Ten shillings for a packet of cigarettes has often been willingly given, while nobody would think two shillings for a loaf of bread exorbitant. The reason for these prices is always that the Boers have commandeered all they could lay hands on in their retreat. Since our departure from Bloemfontein we have not seen our tents. Our nightly shelter has been the frosty canopy of heaven, and our couch the African veldt (pronounced ‘felt’).

A letter to the ‘Indian Daily News’ gives some interesting personal details:

At Irene and Kaalfontein several of our men who had been prisoners at Pretoria and Waterval, and others who had been left behind at various places sick, rejoined, and we were very glad to have them back among us again. Some of our number have had their services requisitioned by Government, among them being Lieutenant H.O. Pugh, who has been appointed Assistant Commissioner at Heilbron; Sergeant P.P. Warburton, Secretary to the Irish Hospital at Pretoria; Sergeant W.C. Conduit to the Engineering Department of the railway near Johannesburg; Private J.E. Cubitt, Assistant Traffic Manager on the railway at Johannesburg; Private F.M. Clifford, Mounted Orderly to General Ian Hamilton; Private Huddleston, Assistant Commissioner at Kroonstad; and Private Firth, to the Financial Department at Pretoria. Sergeant D.S. Fraser was also appointed to the Financial Department at Pretoria, and worked there for about a month, but has now rejoined the regiment and resumed his duties as Paymaster; and Sergeant Thesiger and Privates Moir-Byres, Lytle, Thelwall, and Thornton worked in the Remount Department at Johannesburg until the Depôt there was closed.

Among those who had been prisoners from April 30 until our entry into Pretoria, and about whose fate some doubt existed for a time, was Trooper Clarence Walton. His gallantry in sacrificing himself while attempting to save a wounded comrade was mentioned by Colonel Lumsden as an act of conspicuous devotion on a day when the corps gained high credit and a reluctant rebuke for many brave deeds. Like others who fell into the hands of enemies that day, he experienced nothing but kindness from his captors. To this he bears willing testimony in the following letter:

Starting from the time of our first action of April 30, when I had the misfortune to be slightly wounded and taken prisoner, it might be interesting to add my experience of the treatment I received to that of the other prisoners. After our fighting line retired from my direction a Boer came down to me and asked if I was wounded. I told him I was hit in the foot, and he offered to take my boot and gaiter off for me, which I accepted. He then got a small pony and helped me on, and took me to a farm about half a mile distant, where an English doctor (on the Boer side) attended to my case immediately, and then gave me a jolly good meal, better than I had had for some time. The following night I was taken to Brandfort Hospital, where I received every kindness possible, the nurses being exceedingly attentive, and the Boers themselves, far from showing any ill-feeling, came and talked and gave me tobacco. One lady cycled to her home with the object of getting some books for me to read; but unfortunately she arrived back just too late, as we were being placed in the waggon to go to Smaldeel and entrain there for Pretoria. Lieutenant Crane, who was also a prisoner, travelled most of the way in the same waggons and train as myself. He was kind enough to allow me to share the little tobacco he had got, for which I was exceedingly grateful. After reaching Pretoria I was handed over to our own people at the hospital on the racecourse, where, although I did not have quite such a comfortable time as I had had with the Boer ambulances, I had nothing to complain of, as the British residents at Pretoria did everything they could for us, and we have to thank them for all the little luxuries they gave us. The food we received from the Boers was sufficient to keep one alive, and that is about all.

After Pretoria was taken I found myself a prisoner of the R.A.M.C., which I found to be very irksome, although at Pretoria the Major in charge allowed us our liberty to a great extent. When I got to Bloemfontein I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Roe, late doctor in Assam, who treated Saunders and myself with great kindness, and did everything he could to make us comfortable.

Life at Irene was not all unpleasant. Several lively incidents brightened existence there, and some reflex of them comes to us through the cheery words of Captain Neville Taylor, whose arduous duties as Adjutant did not prevent him from garnering a fund of merry anecdotes. Here is one:

After Pretoria had been taken A Company and Headquarters remained at Irene, and B Company went to Kalfontein, ten miles south on the line. The duties at both places were similar, in that they had to patrol the line and the neighbourhood. One of the Irene regular patrols was to Pretoria and back daily.

On one of the usual patrols into that town Captain Rutherfoord passed a German ambulance proceeding south, who explained that they had been allowed to do so, but carried no pass. Arriving at Pretoria, he reported the fact to the authorities, and also that he had stopped the ambulance until he could get orders concerning it. On inquiry, having ascertained that nothing was known about it, he obtained a letter to the Commandant at Irene, who was told to ascertain that the ambulance people were carrying no papers for the use of the enemy, and, if satisfied, to allow them to proceed. The Commandant, being a man of high ideals, did not see his way to thoroughly searching the ambulance, which contained four German nurses, in addition to the four doctors, and he therefore allowed them to pass on having taken the senior doctor’s word of honour that they had with them nothing of any use to the enemy in the way of papers. The ambulance then went on its way, but stopped the night at Kalfontein, ten miles beyond Irene. In the evening a wire came to us for an officer’s patrol to bring all those people back to Pretoria. Captain Rutherfoord was accordingly sent to Kalfontein for the purpose, and returned in the evening with the party.

Colonel Lumsden and all of us felt so sorry for the prisoners that we decided to ask them to dinner, which invitation being accepted, in due course we all sat down together in our little mess-house.

During our stay at Irene, as it was bitterly cold, we had run up a small hut: walls of piled-up stones, a tin roof, and a most cunningly contrived fireplace which did not smoke. We decorated the place with flowers, had a tip-top dinner, and drank _crème de menthe_ as our only beverage. The dinner went off in the wonderful way dinners do. None of us could talk German, and none of them English, and yet we conversed freely and had the greatest fun. The show concluded with songs, and the last remembrance I have of it was that the Colonel and the prettiest ‘sister’ were taking down one another’s addresses and betting gloves about something in the quietest corner. Rutherfoord had been hiding as much as possible, as he felt himself to blame for being the cause of all their trouble, but we gave him away at the end, and though they all pretended to be very angry with him, we unanimously allowed that he had beaten all but the Colonel in winning the favours of the fair sex.

At about 2 A.M. we escorted them back to their caravan and said good-night, first of all pointing out that a sentry was posted over them, with orders to shoot at sight if anyone left the waggons during the night. They started for Pretoria at daybreak, but most of the officers were there to see them off, while one met them a few miles up the road. The Colonel was late for breakfast that morning. We heard afterwards that on arrival at Pretoria they were searched, and the result was that the doctors went to gaol, and the dear ladies were sent under supervision out of the country. We all, however, are quite certain that they were innocent victims of Boer duplicity.

Another story is very characteristic of Tommy’s smartness:

At one of the camps—I think Elandsfontein—a party of us got leave to go into the town for dinner. We had come in late, and either had not been given or had forgotten the countersign. Near the town we came upon a sentry, who challenged in the usual way, and who let us through after making certain that we were officers of Lumsden’s Horse. After going a few yards we heard him say to his pal that it was all right, as we were only ‘some of those d——d Volunteers,’ this being meant in all politeness and only Tommy’s _patois_. One officer of ours, however, half-jokingly threatened to report him if he talked like that again. After a good dinner we were returning to camp and came upon the same sentry. ‘Halt! Who goes there?’ ‘Friend.’ ‘Advance one and give the countersign.’ One officer, advancing, said, ‘D——d Volunteer.’ Tommy shouldered with a slap and roared out, ‘Pass, D——d Volunteer, and all’s well!’ He had the best of us, and we laughed as much as the guard.

About this time the Boers in Pretoria were also making merry over an incident associated with countersigns in which one who played a sentry’s part had the laugh on his side at the expense of British officers. It happened at a crisis when Botha was known to have secret emissaries in the capital warning him of every preparation for a fresh movement, and it illustrates perfectly the aptitude of Boers as spies, and the easy-going inefficiency of our own precaution against traitors. A young Boer, speaking English fluently, came from Botha’s force just after Lord Roberts was supposed to have dispersed it in the neighbourhood of Diamond Hill. He reached our outposts not far from the limits patrolled by Lumsden’s Horse, and, being armed with one of the passes that have been lavishly distributed and frequently abused, he had no difficulty in getting through the British lines. Once inside them, he was free to move about anywhere and ascertain that nearly all available troops, except one division, had been withdrawn from Pretoria for concentration elsewhere. He even loitered about to hear the talk at a club frequented by officers and by ‘friendly’ civilians, whose privileges of membership nobody assumed the right to question. There and in hotel halls or billiard-rooms, where officers, regardless of attentive listeners, incautiously spoke of their own probable movements, this young Boer picked up much entertaining gossip and useful information. But he also learned, to his dismay, that nobody could move about the town or leave it after nightfall without the countersign. His idea was to get out again under cover of darkness, with all the news that he could gather for General Botha, but he heard that provisional police would by that time be patrolling all the streets, alert and zealous in the performance of their new duties, and also that every outlet by which a horseman could pass would have double sentries posted after sunset. A wary Boer never tries rash experiments if he can avoid them, and this young man, having no unpatriotic wish to run his head into a noose, adopted other measures.

Going to a friend’s house, in which some British uniforms were kept as trophies until the police discovered and appropriated them, he dressed in khaki, donned a greatcoat, and armed himself with a Mauser carbine. All this may seem impossible in a town under martial law, but arms and ammunition were found in private houses long after the date of this incident, and nobody ever heard of exemplary punishment being meted out to offenders, who generally got off scot free on a plea of ignorance. At any rate, the young Boer, thus equipped to counterfeit a provisional policeman, sallied forth at night, when a high collar, turned well up for protection against the icy north wind, and a hat slouched over the eyes, would not have attracted any attention. Making use of mental notes previously taken, he placed himself near the corner of a street so much frequented by officers on their way to or from the club that special police seldom troubled to look after it. There he had not long to wait for a chance of challenging, and in response the countersign was given as a matter of course without the least suspicion. Safe in the possession of this password, the ingenious young Boer mounted his horse, and, claiming to be the bearer of despatches, rode past our outlying pickets and off into the darkness on his way to the nearest Boer commando. Some officers of Lumsden’s Horse were in the Pretoria Club that night, but it was not they who gave away the countersign. Occasional visits to Pretoria in the vain hope of finding that some articles of luxury or much-needed outfit could be bought there became great events in the lives of both officers and men during their banishment to lines of communication. Somehow a goodly number of them, for whom sport was an irresistible attraction, managed to assemble on ground a mile outside the racecourse when three score of competitors started for the first military steeplechase ever ridden near Pretoria. After this event Colonel Lumsden wrote with pardonable pride:

Beharis will be pleased to hear that Captain Rutherfoord, of ours, won the first paper-chase in Pretoria. There were sixty starters over a stiff country, with the result that grief was plentiful.

But that view of the result, though entertained by nearly every spectator who was near enough to watch an exciting finish, did not commend itself to the official whose decision none could question. How it all came about may be told by an eye-witness, who was also a competitor until, finding himself hopelessly out of the race, he took to ‘skirting,’ and finally joined a crowd of onlookers at the winning-post.

The German Staff officer who said that English soldiers went into a fight as if it were sport and took their sport seriously as training for battle, must have been thinking of some scene like that in which British officers and Volunteers of all ranks figured on Pretoria Racecourse that last Saturday in June 1900. There we were in the midst of war with an active enemy not many miles off, yet nobody seemed to concern himself much about what the Boers might be doing at that moment. All were intent upon the important business in hand. A paper-chase had to be run, and every man meant to do his best, whether mounted on a Basuto pony that had never jumped any obstacle more formidable than a boggy spruit before, or on a raking Waler or clever English hunter. Lord Roberts had given permission for a paper-chase and theoretically the sport took that form. There were no prizes for winners, no clerk of the scales, no weighing-in, no penalties for infringement of Hunt Club rules. All who cared to start might enjoy that privilege. But practically the thing resolved itself into a steeple-chase under regulations that forbade riding from point to point at discretion; a course being marked by flags round which every starter was compelled to go or lose his chance of distinction. Paper-hunting would have been child’s play in a country like this unless it had led us over rough kopjes and away across the veldt, where there might have been a chance of Boer patrols chipping in. So to add some touch of excitement, and the spice of danger, without which no British sport is worthy of that name, artificial fences were made more difficult to negotiate than torrent-filled spruits or boggy water-courses. Two stone walls enclosing a mealie patch came handy, and suggested themselves as most appropriate for a start where spectators might see some fun at the outset if veldt ponies tried to tumble over, as they generally do, without jumping. A run without hound-music as an accompaniment did not commend itself to the immortal Jorrocks, whose eulogy of ‘’unting, the image of war without its guilt and only 25 per cent. of its danger,’ would have been considerably modified in application to such sport as ours of that day, if that genial M.F.H. could have seen the horses some men chose to risk their necks on. They were of all sizes, shapes, and breeds. As for the fences, an Irish hunter would have larked over every one in his stride; but it is quite another thing with horses that have never been trained to leap.


_Photo: Bourne & Shepherd_ CAPTAIN RUTHERFOORD, D.S.O. ]

Pretoria did not give itself away all at once to the temptations of a novel spectacle; but there were ladies in carriages among the little crowd of sightseers, and some stolid burghers looked on with approval, while others took part in the chase, for Boers have a bond of sympathy with us in love of horse-racing and field sports. The Commander-in-Chief came, sitting his shapely chestnut with a firmer and more workmanlike ease than half the horsemen present could boast of, and looking as if he could still show them all the way over a stiff hunting country. His appearance at the starting-point was a signal for marshalling the forces into line.

Then a Staff officer gave the word to go, and away went the motley field, more than half a hundred strong, spurring, hustling, charging like a Cavalry squadron for all they were worth. A light-weight, who served with distinction in Her Majesty’s Navy years ago, was quickest off, and led them over the two stone walls, closely followed by Captain Cox, of the New South Wales Lancers. Then came the second flight, riding for the walls knee to knee. Thanks to bold hearts and resolute riding, they all got over. A fall in that dense formation with another rank rushing close behind would have brought more than one rider to unutterable grief. But the ranks began to thin where a spruit had to be crossed, with steep banks into and out of the drift. There the ‘Skipper’s’ pony, with speed unchecked, gained a good lead, but he came down at the next made-up fence and gave his rider a nasty fall. The active light-weight, however, nipped into the saddle and went on cheery as ever. Then in clouds of dust, through which the fences could scarcely be seen, leggy horses and diminutive ponies rushed onward, jostling for a lead as before. Captain McNeil, of Montmorency’s Scouts, came down and broke his collar-bone, and Gibbs, of the Somerset Yeomanry, falling with his horse on top of him, had two ribs broken. But still ‘the chase went sweeping heedless by’ over a wide dug-out, with a hurdle to screen it and a trappy ditch where the road had to be crossed. Then they spread out to gallop over stony ground for the spruit, into which many floundered. The pace was beginning to tell on horses out of condition as they struggled up hill to go for a formidable bank of sandbags topped with loose earth that had been dug out of the ditch in front. Down-hill again to a hollow, where the little stream meandering between boggy ground had to be crossed three times. There several jaded steeds came to a standstill, having shot their bolts, and only a select few went up the next hill to the trappiest fence of all, where water flowed between deep banks. There the ‘Skipper’ got his third fall, but he mounted again and followed the leaders as they rounded the flag and rode for home. Captain Cox had also been left behind, and the running was taken up by Captain Rutherfoord, of Lumsden’s Horse, with Major Kenna, V.C., of the 21st Lancers, in close attendance. Flanks were heaving and pipes wheezing before the next boulder-strewn ridge had been crossed. ‘A run is nothing without music,’ said a subaltern as he roused his panting steed for another effort. He nearly blundered, as many others did, over the next little fence, and they were being left hopelessly behind. Kenna and Rutherfoord charged the last stone wall side by side, and rose together at it. Rutherfoord landed first, and had the race in hand, but, mistaking the post, eased his horse too soon. So Kenna, V.C., got a neck ahead in the straight run home, and thus won his right to claim the brush or whatever may be a substitute for it in paper-chasing. That was the official verdict, but Lumsden’s Horse still hold that their champion was first past the post.

One day a pleasant incident enlivened Colonel Lumsden’s ordinarily uneventful round of inspections. He had been visiting posts south of Irene, and was hurrying back to headquarters on an affair of urgent importance, when a train stopped at one of the sidings. Before he had time to realise that it was a special, or to make any inquiries, the train began to move again. So he jumped on to the nearest platform, and presently found himself in a corridor, cleaner and more carefully looked after than any he had seen on a Transvaal railway up to that time. Not knowing what to make of it, and half-expecting to meet an angry Chief of the Staff face to face, he refrained from exploring further. Presently a lady passed and said, ‘Won’t you come in?’ Colonel Lumsden was smoking at the time, and declined for that reason. ‘But mother wishes you to come,’ was the reply. So the gallant Colonel yielded with ready grace, and found himself in the presence of Lady Roberts, who, with her daughters, was on the way to Pretoria. They were just then nearing Irene, and Colonel Lumsden drew attention to the camp of his Indian Volunteers, in whom he thought Lady Roberts would naturally be much interested. To his surprise he saw a huge bonfire burning, and in silhouette against it were the words, ‘Welcome to Lady Roberts!’ Sergeant-Major Stephens had hit upon this happy idea, and put it into execution just at the right moment. One of the daughters, seeing it, said, ‘Oh, mother, there is a warm welcome for you, at any rate!’ Lady Roberts frequently referred to this impromptu welcome in conversation with Colonel Lumsden afterwards, and spoke appreciatively of the pleasure it had given her.

For nearly two months—from the fall of Pretoria on June 5 to July 29—Lumsden’s Horse were scattered up and down the railway lines between Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Colonel Lumsden gives the following official account of this period in a letter to the executive committee of his corps:

My headquarters are still at Irene, while my corps is stationed in detachments along the railway from here to Springs. I am daily expecting an order to concentrate either here or at the latter point, having received official information that we are to be relieved by Mounted Infantry from the Regulars.

Beyond living in a constant state of alarm, standing to arms at all hours of the night, and our patrols shooting and being shot at, there is little or nothing of interest to record.

Scouting parties have had several narrow escapes, but nothing of a serious nature occurred until yesterday (July 13), when I heard by wire from Captain Beresford at Springs that Private Claude F. Walton, of the Mysore detachment, had been wounded rather severely while out on patrol with Captain Clifford, but without, I understand, endangering his life. The shot was fired from a farmhouse, which has since, I am glad to say, been burnt to the ground. Two days previously, when I was on a visit to Springs, Captain Chamney and his patrol had rather a narrow squeak, but got safely away under a pelting fire.

The Boer outposts are within four to five miles of our position at Springs, where Colonel Ross and part of his corps are stationed, but they are too weak to take the initiative.

The weather is still bitterly cold at night, but the men have now had time to rig up temporary shelters of sorts, while the detachments at Zurfontein and Springs have been fortunate in obtaining iron-roofed shelters to live in.

I much regret to have to inform you of the death of Private M.B. Follett, of the Mysore detachment, from enteric fever in hospital at Johannesburg on the 7th inst., and that the undernamed have been left at various hospitals on the march up sick, or sent down from here.

Some may return to headquarters, but I anticipate that most of them will proceed to England or to India, invalided or convalescent.

Young Follett’s brother was fortunately with him at the last, and it is gratifying to note that the rites usually accorded to an officer were observed at his interment.

The men in the attached list have mostly received their regimental pay up to date, and I have done my best to see that any balance due to them in this respect will be paid before they leave Cape Town.

I have also given in such cases five pounds to each man for necessaries on the voyage. This responsibility I have taken on myself, having ample funds in hand, and I feel sure the committee will approve my action, more especially as many men are utterly unable to get into communication with their friends and are entirely without money.

I understand Government intends to grant this amount to each soldier as a war gratuity at the close of the campaign; the sums thus given will therefore be recoverable.

_List of Men in Hospital_ Private D.O. Allardice │ ” J.H.A. Burn-Murdoch

” E. Adlam │ ” R.G.H. Muskett

Lance-Corporal Hugh Blair │ ” C. McMinn

Private E.N. Bankes │ ” A. Martin

” H.C. Bennett │Sergeant-Major E.H. │Mansfield

” C.J.D. Bewsher │Private R.C. Nolan

” W.R. Birch │ ” H.B. Oldham

Lance-Corporal Butler (A.D.)│ ” H.W. Puckridge

Private W.B. Brown │ ” E.B. Parkes

” Baldwin │ ” P.W. Pryce

” J.S. Campbell │ ” N.J.V. Reid

” Cheshire │ ” J.W.A. Skelton

” H. Cooper │ ” J.S. Saunders

Sergeant E. Dawson │ ” S. Sladden

Lance-Sergeant J.S. Elliott │ ” B.C.A.A. Steuart

Private A.H. Francis │ ” H.W. Thelwall

” E.H. Gough │ ” W. Turnbull

” G.A. Gowenlock │ ” T. Thompson

” R.P. Haines │ ” A.N. Woods

” C.C. Harvey │ ” C.A. Walton

” W.H. Holme │ ” F.W. Wright

” J.V. Jameson │ ” C.F. Walton

” R. Tait Innes │ ” L.H. Zorab

” Jackman │ ” W.S. Lemon

” G.E. │ ” C.E. Stuart

” D.J. Keating │ ” A.C. Walker

” H.M. Logan │

Regimental Sergeant-Major Marsham’s friends in Behar will regret to hear that bad luck has again overtaken him. On the way up to rejoin after recovering from his wounds, he was so unfortunate as to be in company with the Derbyshire Militia when they met with their disaster, and is believed to have been taken prisoner with them. So far I have no official communication as to this, but, not having heard from or of him, conclude it is only too true.

Private Percy Smith and Lance-Corporal Hugh Blair have received commissions in the Regular forces and are no longer with the corps, although the former is for a time attached to the Oxford M.I.—part of our own regiment under Colonel Ross. Blair is among the sick men mentioned and at present in Cape Town.

Lord Roberts has also been good enough to grant commissions to Private Douglas Jones—in the Army Service Corps—Privates J.A. Fraser, Collins, T.B. Nicholson, J.S. Biscoe, and Corporal Bates. Several of the latter are for the West India Regiments. All these remain with me for the present.

Lieutenant Pugh and Private Huddleston have been appointed Assistant Commissioners at Heilbron and Kroonstad respectively.



The names of several other applicants are still before His Excellency, and I hope to advise you soon of their having received commissions also. At the same time I do not expect any of these will leave the corps until its disbandment. Young Maurice Clifford has been taken on by General Ian Hamilton as orderly, and is also likely to receive a commission, as well as Leslie Williams, son of the late popular Gwatkin Williams.

Captain Rutherfoord, Lieutenant Crane, and Sergeant Macnamara have been offered commissions in the Transvaal Mounted Police, and will probably remain in this country, as I believe will a good many others.

Captain Stevenson is likely to obtain an important veterinary appointment out here, and Dr. (Captain) Powell is also in the running for a high medical post should he prefer this to returning to India.

All the above, added to the continued requisitions for men of my corps for various offices, point to the esteem in which they are held by the authorities apart from their fighting qualities. In fact, were it not for strong remonstrances on my part to official requests, I should be in a fair way to lose a big percentage of my men before the work for which they came out has been completed.

In my previous letter I mentioned the sad plight to which our horses had been reduced, and that at the time of writing I doubted my ability to place ninety mounted men in the field fit for a two-days’ march. You will now be pleased to hear that in this respect things have improved, and that I can now mount 180 officers and men on fairly serviceable animals, few, however, remaining of our original Indian chargers. In this connection I may also mention that out of sixty Argentine remounts received at Kroonstad, only one is alive.

Now comes the important question of finance.

I have been spending various sums on comforts for the men, the largest item being 50_l._ for a much-needed supply of tobacco.

The men are very badly in want of clothes, especially breeches, tunics, and boots. I have indented on the Government Stores at Bloemfontein for a complete outfit, and hope to receive it shortly. This, of course, will be issued to us gratis. Nothing in the shape of clothing can be got for money.

I am enclosing a statement showing roughly the financial position of the corps. From this you will see that, provided the war is not prolonged beyond our present anticipations, there will be an ample balance left to admit of the payments estimated for in Calcutta.


_Photo: Johnston & Hoffmann_ SERGEANT ERNEST DAWSON ]


Lumsden’s Horse found their duties on lines of communication not all uneventful, and had on occasions some adventures more exciting than the incidents of a patrol to Pretoria or Elandsfontein or Johannesburg, though that had to be conducted with proper precautions against possible surprises from Boer raiders who were always on the prowl within a few miles of our outpost lines, but rarely to be seen. Emboldened by the inaction of British troops in Pretoria and by some successes which Christian De Wet had achieved down Rodewal way, where he captured and burnt a train containing mail-bags with precious letters for Lumsden’s Horse, the enemy began to press on every weak point they could find. They evinced especially a desire to get possession of the mines near Springs, being not only bent on wanton destruction, but also impelled thereto by the fact that Supply officers there had been gathering stores of forage from the country round about. Apart from its position in the centre of a district richly mineralised, Springs was of considerable strategic importance as a stronghold for the protection of the railway junction at Elandsfontein, to which its commanding kopjes, if strongly held, were a formidable flanking defence. Nothing but the belief that Botha’s forces had been so scattered and demoralised by defeat at Diamond Hill as to be incapable of great offensive movements could have induced the military authorities to neglect an adequate defence of Springs. The Boers seemed to realise its importance more than we did, and if they had brought artillery to bear upon it the safety of Johannesburg might have been seriously threatened. Fortunately, however, either Botha’s irresolution or divided counsels among his colleagues led to the abandonment of such enterprises after one or two attempts which were frustrated by General Hutton and Colonel Henry, whose Mounted Infantry reconnaissances at this juncture were characterised by great skill. Nevertheless, some strong Boer commandos were persistent in their attempts to get a footing at Springs, so that Lumsden’s Horse had to reinforce other corps of the 8th Mounted Infantry and take their full share of outpost work, in which they were frequently harassed by the enemy. Some interesting details of this phase are furnished by troopers whose letters were published in the Indian newspapers. One correspondent writes to the ‘Indian Daily News,’ dating from Springs, July 14:

You will see from the above that we have been moved again, and I fancy we shall be kept on the go now for some time to come, as both we and our horses have had a long rest and are quite fit again.

It was rather a bore getting shifted out of our comfortable quarters at Kalfontein, but now that the wrench is over I fancy most of us are glad to be on the march once more, as life there was beginning to get just a trifle monotonous and humdrum.

About a week previous to our leaving Kalfontein No. 3 Section B Company, who had been left at Irene with A Company, were sent to garrison Zurfontein, a few miles down the line, and we joined them there, the whole of us then marching to this place, which is the terminus of a branch of the main line running eastward, and is situated about twenty-five miles from Johannesburg. I should have mentioned that we left a few of our men at Kalfontein to help to garrison the place until further orders. We stayed at Elandsfontein and Boksburg on the way here, and the men who had been through such exciting scenes so recently in these places naturally took a great interest in them and ‘fought their battles o’er again.’

We have had rather an exciting time of it on two occasions since being quartered here. On the 11th inst. we sent out a patrol of six men under Captain Chamney, and just as they got to the top of a bit of rising ground they found themselves within a few hundred yards of an approaching body of the enemy, who no sooner saw our men than they let ’em have it with their Mausers. There was nothing for it but to turn and get away as quickly as possible, and this the patrol did, managing once again to elude the bullets. The Boers followed, but soon gave up the game, as it was only a few miles from the town, and they evidently did not consider it good enough to venture too close. On getting out of range and up to the next rise our patrol halted and sent a man back to report matters to Colonel Ross, and, after staying out about an hour to see if there were any more signs of the enemy, they returned to camp. A larger patrol was sent out during the day, but saw no signs of Boers, these gentry evidently having returned to the adjacent hills. A small farmhouse, from behind which our men were shot at, was burnt down; but this did not have much effect, as another of our patrols was fired on two days afterwards near the same place, and this time we were not so fortunate, as Private Walton, of No. 3 Section B Company, was shot through the right thigh and got another bullet through his hat, just shaving his skull. He managed to ride into camp with the others, but will have a long spell in hospital, I fancy. His wound was dressed as soon as he got into camp, and next day he was sent on to Johannesburg.

This is one of the coldest places we have struck so far, and early morning patrols and night pickets are consequently more unpopular than ever. There is one great consolation, however, and that is we can get good and cheap draught beer here; this is a luxury we have not indulged in for ages, so, needless to say, the thirsty ones are having a great time.

The special correspondent of the ‘Englishman’ treats one of the incidents above referred to in a lighter vein:

In the middle of July our detachment at Springs, where there had been a good deal of desultory fighting, had some fun for their money. They went out patrolling one day, a dozen or so strong. A farmhouse loomed in the distance, and as the magnetic pole draws the needle so did this innocent, nestling farm draw the patrol. If you live on biscuits for a month you develop a craving for bread. Same with everybody, from General down to mule-drivers. It would be side on the part of Lumsden’s Horse to hold aloof from any popular taste, and as one leary-nosed tea planter said he smelt dough, the patrol rode for that farmhouse, animated by the noble sentiment that the devil might take the hindmost. But this time the devil nearly copped the leader, for the Boers opened at short range from stone walls near the farmhouse. A patrol’s duty being to locate the enemy, and not to die valorously or otherwise, our men turned tail, thought of their misdeeds, and streaked for home. Unluckily C.F. Walton, of B Company, bestrode an Argentine which feared neither Boer nor bullet. The brute wouldn’t budge under the fire, and Walton received a hail of lead all to himself. One bullet struck his hat, cutting the bottom of the crack—our squashed Cashmere ones—clean away, shedding his hair in a way that no brushing will alter, for it shaved a line clean along his scalp. Just as he got his horse on the move he was struck again, in the thigh, but managed to gallop away without further mishap. Examination proved that the bullet had gone right through the upper part of his leg, inflicting a severe but not dangerous wound. Walton is now in hospital and doing well.

Fuller details and a more consecutive narrative of other events are given by a correspondent of the ‘Madras Daily Mail,’ who writes:

Our duties are not only to guard the station and railway line and patrol the country, but also to furnish observation posts, whose duty it is to report the movements of any bodies of men they may see; the patrols also demanding the production of passes from anyone—native or white man—whom they may meet. The Boers are not far off, and life is not without its excitement; for on two occasions our patrols have been fired on, once getting a particularly hot reception and being chased for a considerable distance. One man in particular had a narrow escape when the enemy—who were lying in wait for the patrol—suddenly charged down over the top of a neighbouring ridge. He was in the middle of a small copse ahead of his companions and did not see the Boers, who galloped round on each flank of the wood, and, dismounting just this side of it, commenced firing at the rest of the patrol. Hearing the rifles so close, he attempted to return, and found, on getting to the edge of the wood, that he was cut off by a line of men along a wire fence, who fortunately were so busy firing that they did not see him. He eventually made a dash for it from the upper end of the wood, coming out behind the Boers and making a long detour. Of course, directly he got clear of the wood he was seen and became a target for all their rifles, but he got safely away.

During a prolonged stay in a place like this we manage to make ourselves very comfortable. In the vicinity of Kaalfontein the farmhouses were for the most part deserted and had been left just as they stood. From these farmhouses we are always allowed to help ourselves to useful and non-valuable articles, such as cooking utensils and eatables; so what with chickens, ducks, &c., while the live-stock held out, and most excellent mutton issued as rations, not to mention an occasional porker (bought from the Kaffirs) or haunch of venison (shot by one of the officers), our larder was well stocked, while extras in the way of groceries could be obtained from an enterprising Jew storekeeper, who would drive round with his stores. Then, too, bivouacs and shelters of all sorts can be rigged up, and very welcome they were at the time, as during June and the beginning of July the cold was intense.

At Springs, the terminus of a branch line from Elandsfontein Junction through Boksburg, together with four companies of the 8th Mounted Infantry and the Canadians, we remained six days. Here the Boers were rather closer than they had been at Kaalfontein, and it was the rule rather than the exception for the patrols to be fired on. One morning our patrol was shot at from a farmhouse flying a white flag, the advance scouts being only 150 yards distant; one of them, Trooper Walton (Mysore and Coorg Rifles), received a bullet through his thigh and another right through the crown of his hat, actually cutting the hair along the top of his head, but he managed to get away without further injury. On receiving the news Colonel Ross immediately sent out a strong patrol with a pom-pom and burnt the house to the ground, but saw nothing of the enemy, who are always careful not to interfere with a strong patrol, their plan being to allow a small party to approach their ambush and then suddenly open fire, hoping to empty a few saddles. Fortunately, however, it is not easy to hit a man on horseback at an unknown range or else the Boers are uncommonly bad shots, for our patrols have now been fired upon on seven or eight different occasions at comparatively close range and only one man has been hit. One afternoon a party of Boers, about thirty in number, were seen by the look-out man coming down to a Kaffir kraal, about three miles out. Lumsden’s Horse were ordered to saddle up immediately and give chase. The Boers, however, did not wait. They had evidently come down to get mealies from the Kaffirs, as we found some bags they had dropped in their haste.


A TYPICAL BOER (_From a sketch by J.S. Cowen_) ]

In these operations Lumsden’s Horse learned a great deal about the tricks and methods of Boer scouts, and soon began to realise that these could best be met by bringing all a shikarri’s varied experiences into play. In reality the wily Boers do not send out patrols, according to our interpretation of that word. When any considerable number of them are seen together, it may be taken for granted that their scouts have previously done all the work expected of them, or that they are off somewhere in another direction, acting as a screen for some more important movement. When watching a hostile force, with a view to aggressive tactics or defensive measures, the Boers hardly ever show themselves. If caught by chance on the move, they either halt where they are and lie down or steal away one by one to the nearest cover, knowing perfectly well that any large body moving can be seen a long distance off, while separate figures become almost invisible dots on the vast plain and attract no attention from people whose eyesight is less keen than a Kaffir’s. Once concealed from view, they are careful not to show themselves again on the sky-line, or on a sunlit slope, where their shadows would betray them. From hunting wild game they have learned to pursue the tactics of an antelope or a haartebeeste in eluding a vigilant enemy. As a herd of deer, browsing peacefully in some hollow, leaves a trusty sentinel on the nearest hill to keep watch, so Boers tell off one of their number for a similar duty, and he, like the sentinel buck, remains motionless beside a tree or stone, invisible himself, but allowing no movement on the plain to escape his watchful eye. The man on whom this task falls is generally a veteran trained by long experience to a knowledge of the veldt and the habits of every being, man or beast, frequenting it. By the actions of horses or cattle on the pastures, not less than by the hurried movement of more timid wild animals or birds, he knows whether they have been disturbed by anything unusual. Then he stoops down to listen, and his ears are so sensitive by long practice that he can distinguish the rumble of wheels or tread of marching men miles off, though the sound comes to him no louder than the whisper of wind among dry grass. And a bird on the wing, or animal scuttling through the undergrowth, will warn him at once of approaching foes.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN CLIFFORD]

If the Boers want to lay an ambush they do not set about it in a clumsy fashion, but with due foresight, calculating all the chances. Far in advance of the trap thus prepared they will probably have posted some men among the rocks of a kopje, or preferably in a dry donga between high banks that effectually conceal any movement. These advanced scouts never show themselves or fire a shot when the prey for which their comrades are waiting approaches. They simply allow it to pass, and then perhaps will be heard a whistle like that of some wild bird, the lowing of cattle that cannot be seen, or other sound familiar enough but conveying no particular meaning at the moment. Yet in all probability it is a preconcerted signal from the foremost scouts to others within hearing, who pass on the message, so that every movement of the coming patrol or column is known to the Boers waiting in ambush for it. Thus many mishaps have occurred in a way that nobody could account for, and by practising similar methods Lumsden’s Horse at length became a match for their enemy at the same game. Other lessons than those learned at Springs were, however, needed to perfect them in the craft on which the safety of an army may sometimes depend. One such experience fell to their share in a reconnaissance towards Crocodile River, which Colonel Lumsden describes in a letter to the executive committee of Lumsden’s Horse:

A few days after the despatch of my previous letter, Colonel Ross, with a detachment of my own corps and the greater part of the 8th Mounted Infantry, collected at Irene under instructions to proceed to Pretoria. While we were still in camp there orders came from headquarters to patrol the country to the west and north-west as far as the Crocodile River. On receiving the above orders, Colonel Ross, accompanied by myself, Captain Taylor, and a small patrol of the Oxfords under Lieut. Percy Smith, went out to reconnoitre the country. Captain Clifford, of ours, had already proceeded early in the day (July 20) with a patrol of fifteen men in the same direction. Overtaking this party about noon, Colonel Ross ordered Captain Clifford to push on and ascertain that the ground was clear of the enemy as far as the river. Colonel Ross’s party then returned to Irene. Late in the evening Captain Clifford’s patrol came back and reported that his party had been ambuscaded before reaching the river, and had had to make the best of their way out of a tight place on jaded horses at the best speed they could, leaving two of their number, Privates Bearne and Cayley, in the hands of the enemy. Captain Clifford estimated the enemy’s strength at 300, and reported that as far as he could ascertain they were laagered in a strong natural position near Six Mile Spruit, commanding a perfect view of its valley. Not being quite satisfied with the information, Colonel Ross ordered him to proceed again next day with a patrol of thirty. Captain Sidey accompanied him. The task was a difficult and dangerous one, for, although the first twelve miles were clear of the enemy and comparatively open, the last eight miles of the journey led down the valley of Six Mile Spruit, with high hills to the right and lower ones to the left, the enemy’s laager being situated about half-way down on the right. The Boers had thus the option of stopping the patrol on the way down, or cutting it off on the return journey. The reconnoitring party could reach the Crocodile River in comparative safety by advancing along the higher ground to the left of the valley and holding the commanding posts as far as numbers permitted. But as this course failed to draw out the Boers, it was useless as a method of discovering their strength and whereabouts. Captain Clifford therefore effected a compromise, reached the river as above described, and when about half-way through the valley on the return journey turned off in the direction of the Boer laager, leaving Sergeant Mitchell and four men in observation on high ground to cover his advance. As soon as he and his party were well down to the Spruit, the Boers rushed out in large numbers, forcing them to retreat in haste towards the covering party, who were unable to fire, as they could not distinguish friend from foe. The whole patrol, being outnumbered by ten to one, with their line of retreat threatened, had no choice but to escape as best they could in an easterly direction. Three men were taken prisoners through their horses being exhausted. Sergeant Mitchell’s party, finding itself cut off, escaped in a southerly direction, and reached Johannesburg in safety next day. The patrol that night came back nine short. It turned out that three had been taken prisoners, and the remaining six arrived in camp from various directions the following day. The three prisoners returned three days later, having been treated with great kindness by the Boers, who only took their horses, rifles, and accoutrements, and were evidently much amused by the way in which our patrols were sent out every day to face almost certain capture or death in accordance with orders. They considered this patrol as very useful to supply them with the necessaries of warfare, and treated the whole thing as a huge joke. During the retreat on the first of these two patrols Private Graham did very good work. When Cayley’s horse had fallen and then run away, Graham made him hold his stirrup to expedite his flight on foot, and offered to take turn and turn about riding and running with him. It became evident that they could not both get away, so Graham, taking Cayley’s rifle and catching his horse afterwards, brought both animals and rifles out of action, saving them from the hands of the enemy and earning the commendation of the Colonel on his arrival in camp. On the 22nd Colonel Ross’s Irene command was ordered to start at two hours’ notice for Pretoria viâ Swartzkop. He complied, camping at Swartzkop for the night, and reaching the camp by the Pretoria Racecourse next day.


_Photo: Elliott & Fry_ J.A. GRAHAM, D.C.M. ]

Captain Clifford, in an official report of the incident to Colonel Lumsden, does full justice to Trooper Graham’s conduct in the following words:

When about two miles from Crocodile River, while I was questioning a farmer, the enemy suddenly opened fire on us from a ridge in front, between 300 and 400 yards distant. I was with the scouts when this happened. We galloped back to the rest of the patrol, which only consisted of a total of nine troopers, and before we could take up any position the fire began to come from three sides, so I gave the order to retire as fast as possible to avoid being surrounded. In the retreat, under a heavy fire, Trooper Cayley, one of the scouts, was thrown from his horse, whereupon Trooper Graham, with great gallantry, stayed behind and gave Cayley a ride on his own horse, running by his side, and then mounting and Cayley running. The rest of the patrol being scattered, and the ground much broken, these two were not missed for some time. After some distance had been traversed, the Boers were getting so close, and the fire so hot, that it would have been impossible for both to escape. Trooper Cayley thereupon flung himself into a small ditch and Trooper Graham made off, not, however, without bringing Cayley’s rifle. On the way to rejoin the patrol, and still under fire, he came across a riderless horse of another of the party, and brought it safely back with Cayley’s rifle. The patrol then, observing him coming, turned to his support, and the Boers discontinued the pursuit.

For his gallant behaviour on this occasion Trooper Graham was recommended by Colonel Lumsden for the Victoria Cross; but instead of that coveted decoration he subsequently received the Distinguished Conduct Medal.


_Photo: C.G. Brown_ BERNARD CAYLEY. ]

The talented correspondent of the ‘Englishman’ writes as follows of the same affair:

One morning a patrol set forth to spy the land, an officer and eleven men. They rode west for fifteen miles and entered the hills aforesaid, their object being to reach the junction of Six Mile Spruit with the Crocodile River. The way being purely cross-country it was a difficult matter to locate their destination, and seeing a farmhouse at the top of a valley the patrol made for it with the object of being directed. The valley traversed was some thousand yards wide from ridge to ridge. At the far end was the farmhouse, and beyond a low hill. Down the middle of the valley ran a spruit between high banks, forming a donga deep and wide enough to cover mounted men. The path running up the valley crossed the donga 600 yards from the farmhouse. Our fellows trotted up to the farmhouse, some tackling the lady of the house, and the others the Boer himself, who was spotted on the road a little way off. The good lady was a bit nervous, and rather hastily volunteered the information that the Boers had all gone away. Though never dreaming of their presence so near, this aroused the suspicions of the man to whom the remark was made, and he went up to the farmer, and roughly demanded where the Boers were. The question rather startled him, and from his manner it became evident that Boers were about, though he swore they had left the night before.

Thereupon the patrol, in open order, advanced across the rising to the right, with Bearne, Graham, and Cayley in front. A wire fence obstructed the way, and it was a moot point whether to go round by a gate to the left or to use the wire-cutters. This fence was eighty yards from the top of the ridge, to which it ran parallel. The cutting of the fence saved the lives of the men mentioned. Hardly were they through the opening than a heavy fire was opened on them at a range of fifty yards. The rest of the party being a hundred yards behind, not yet up to the fence, Cayley, Bearne, and Graham whipped round, and made for the cutting, which was luckily immediately behind them. If they had gone round by the gate to the left they would have had to stand fire getting to the gate, and then run the gauntlet all the way back. As it was they got safely through the cutting and legged it after the rest, the party making straight down the valley for the donga already described. As the distance between the Boers and the donga was only 800 yards, it can be imagined how hot the fire was. Extraordinary to relate, not a man was touched during the brief but dangerous interval which elapsed between leaving the wire fence and reaching the donga. Arrived there a new foe sprang upon the unlucky patrol.

[Illustration: L.C. BEARNE]

From the left of the hill behind the farmhouse, and at the point where the left ridge forming the valley joined this hill, another lot of Boers opened a heavy enfilade fire at a thousand yards’ range. Their sanctuary was a sanctuary no longer, and again the patrol fled, this time straight for the opening in the hills by which they had entered. Meantime the second lot of Boers kept up a brisk fusillade, many of them mounting horses and galloping along the ridge parallel with the flying patrol. As our men had travelled some twenty miles, their horses were pretty beaten, so that the Boers, in light order, had no difficulty in catching up and taking pot shots at short range. Shortly after leaving the donga, Cayley’s horse fell heavily, and got away from his fallen rider. Thereupon Graham pulled up, gave Cayley his stirrup, and the latter ran until exhausted. Graham then very gallantly insisted upon Cayley riding while Graham ran. When beaten, Graham mounted again and Cayley ran. At this point the Boers had got close up and were pouring in a hot fire, and, the situation endangering both men, Cayley, who was much exhausted, let go, insisting on Graham leaving him, hoping himself to escape the Boers by hiding among the rocks. Near the same place Bearne’s horse stopped, dead beat. Bearne got off and ran until done, when he, too, took cover from the Boers, who were close at his heels peppering for all they were worth.

By this time the remainder of the patrol, headed by Captain Clifford, who was in charge, had got well away, and they eventually returned to camp late at night, having had to walk most of the way back, as their horses were too done to carry them. But Cayley and Bearne never had a chance, for the Boers had never lost sight of them. They were quickly routed out of their cover, and having dropped their arms when running, defenceless, they had to surrender to overwhelming numbers. The Boers explained to them what had happened on their side, and it would seem to be only by a bit of luck that the whole patrol was not captured. Right behind the low hill at the back of the farmhouse was a laager, where a number of Boers were encamped. Five, _they_ said, though there must have been quadruple the number, Boers had gone over to the farmhouse already mentioned half an hour before the patrol appeared. Failing to find forage there, they had proceeded up the hill with the intention of crossing into the next valley to visit another farmhouse. When on the sky line they spotted our patrol advancing. The Boers immediately lay low to watch what happened. Realising that the patrol was riding into the lion’s mouth, they meant to keep doggo until the party was close up, and consequently far away from the only point of escape—viz., the road by which it had come. When close up they would open fire, warning at the same time their own camp over the hill scarce a mile away. Luckily for us, their camp proved slow to hear, else the main body of Boers would have rushed for the donga and regularly trapped the crowd. As it was our men had reached the donga before the laager had awakened to the situation.

Cayley and Bearne were kindly treated but marched about unmercifully, eventually reaching the main Boer laager at Commando Nek, where a short time previously the Lincolns and Scots Greys had come to such terrible grief. There the unhappy pair were released to struggle twenty miles into Pretoria as best they might.

Shortly after the adventurous descent on the Crocodile River fastnesses, which I have already described, a second and larger patrol, with Captain Clifford again in command, set forth to avenge the disasters of the first. As I have a particular regard for my personal safety, and believing the neighbourhood accursed, I found it convenient to be otherwise occupied at the moment when patrol No. 2 started. And subsequent events proved me wiser than my generation. Not being present at what happened, I cannot, of course, tell exactly how it came about. Nor could I piece the twenty different accounts given me into a satisfactory whole, for the very good reason that no two of the stories afterwards told me would fit in. However, it would appear that it happened somewhat thus.

The party started out at daybreak, and reached the scene of the previous disaster in good time in the morning. Needless to say, the Boers were on the look-out this time, and so soon as the patrol hove in sight made their dispositions. With a wariness born of experience there was no venturing into the valley. The party spread over the ridge along which the Boers had followed them on the first occasion, and advanced in skirmishing order with scouts in front smelling out every nook and cranny. And so they came, as they say in racing parlance, right along the ridge until close up to the farmhouse. All the time the Boers in force were happily contemplating these operations from the opposite ridge, which they had selected as being the one not likely to be scouted. As the ridge ran into the hill behind the farmhouse it became necessary, if any act of retribution was to be performed on the farmer, to diverge from that line of advance and make for the farmhouse. This was done, and of course brought the patrol into closer order. At the farmhouse one of its occupants handed a note to Captain Clifford. It was from the farmer, and ran, ‘Am going down the road to kill a pig for a neighbour. Will be back in a few minutes.’ And then the band began to play. From the hill in front and the ridge on the right the Mausers spoke out their unwelcome messages in a continuous stream, till it seemed as if the blue sky above must crack for the noise. Round whipped the patrol and in went the spurs, Captain Clifford leading his men down the valley that seemed as if it must spell death for the whole party. There were 200 Boers in all firing at an average range of 800 yards for a distance of two miles. Several horses were shot, several fell, some stopped from exhaustion; but there was no way of getting out except along the road which ran parallel to the ridge occupied by the enemy. The rocky going on the other ridge precluded a retreat over its inhospitable sides, besides which it was commanded on both slopes from the hill behind the farmhouse.

That night at Irene the return of the patrol was anxiously awaited. It seemed a strange thing, to many marvellous, that no man had a mark on him, and this shows again what extraordinarily bad shooting the Boers are capable of at moving bodies, and particularly when they are not certain if another and concealed movement is not being conducted on their rear. Of the party sent on the expedition one by one continued to arrive back, some late the same night, some during the next day, some even the day after, until at last the lot were accounted for. Three of the unlucky patrol had trekked for Johannesburg, and advised us by telegraph of their safety. Another struck the railway at Kaalfontein. And so they straggled in, weary, hungry, and dirty. Several were taken prisoners, but treated kindly enough, one attention in particular being much appreciated. That was a stomach warmer of peach brandy before they were set free for their march back to Irene. Rather an insulting message given the released ones was to the effect that the Boers would have coffee ready next time we came.

After these events Colonel Lumsden’s request for more active employment than his corps could find on lines of communication was granted, and the sequel is described by a correspondent of the ‘Madras Mail’:

We left Springs on July 16th, expecting to join General Hutton, who, we heard, had had a severe engagement with heavy casualties, and was in want of more mounted troops. However, after a night at Kaalfontein we moved on to Irene, which place is the headquarters of the 8th Mounted Infantry, now on communications between Johannesburg and Pretoria. We remained at Irene a week, during which time we had some half-dozen men taken prisoners owing to their horses giving out when being pursued by the Boers, who were always lying in wait for our patrols. We were exceedingly fortunate in having nobody hit on these occasions. The prisoners were in every case released, their rifles and horses, of course, being taken from them. Apparently the Boers now find prisoners an encumbrance.

On the 22nd we moved to Pretoria, camping three miles outside the town. Pretoria is prettily situated in a hollow surrounded by hills. These hills to the south-west, and about ten miles out, sheltered a number of Boers, and on the 27th we set out on a reconnaissance to find out something about them. The force, under Brigadier-General Hickman, consisted of the 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 8th Mounted Infantry Regiments, a battery of Field Artillery, and a battalion of Infantry (the Cornwalls). We saw nothing of the enemy until evening, when the advance guard came into touch and exchanged shots with the enemy’s scouts, who retired. The next morning we had scarcely started when we heard the now familiar double thud of the Mauser, and found that the Oxford Company of the 8th Mounted Infantry were engaged. It was a very different country from what we had been used to, and it did not suit us nearly so well. We were in a valley with steep hills on either side, the slopes of which were covered with loose stones and rocks of every size and shape, which made the going almost impossible for horses and very trying for the men. The pom-poms came into action close on our left and shelled a steep kopje opposite for some time; meanwhile, a brisk rifle fire was being kept up by the Mounted Infantry on our left. At the end of about an hour the General had apparently found out all he wanted to know, for the order to retire came, the 8th Mounted Infantry to act as rearguard. Lumsden’s were deputed to guard the left flank, which we did, retiring by alternate companies along the top of the range of kopjes, while the Infantry and guns moved along the valley. The enemy followed in a half-hearted way, but were easily kept in check by the pom-poms, which dropped shells into them whenever they showed themselves in any numbers. Beyond firing at a few of their scouts, we (_i.e._, Lumsden’s) saw nothing of them. The casualties had been slight, the Oxford Company 8th Mounted Infantry having one man killed and one wounded. An officer’s charger hit was all the damage done to Lumsden’s Horse.

On the 27th General Ian Hamilton’s division, consisting of General Bruce Hamilton’s, General Mahon’s, and General Hickman’s brigades, marched into Pretoria. Lord Roberts and his Staff, with General Ian Hamilton on his right and Lord Kitchener on his left, took up his position in the market square while the troops marched past, cheering him as they went. The same day we heard the good news that 5,000 of the enemy had surrendered to General Hunter.

More active service, however, meant for Lumsden’s Horse a transfer to some other column, and the time had thus come when they were to bid farewell to Colonel Ross, under whom they had served for four months, and from their comrades of the 8th Mounted Infantry, with whom they had marched and fought in many actions. Colonel Lumsden expressed the feeling of all ranks in his parting words to Colonel Ross, which were full of appreciation for the many kindnesses shown by that gallant commander towards Lumsden’s Horse. What Colonel Ross thought of the corps and its officers may be gathered from the regimental order acknowledging their services, and from a letter in which Colonel Ross writes as follows:

Lumsden’s Horse joined the 8th Corps M.I. about the middle of April 1900, and served with the corps till the end of July, when they were transferred to General Mahon’s command. This was probably the most completely equipped ‘unit’ that joined the forces in South Africa during the war—a well-organised regimental transport, of Indian pattern, a complete regimental hospital and veterinary establishment, and every ‘necessary’ of life for man and beast for a campaign in almost any country.

The _personnel_ of the corps was in keeping with everything else. Colonel Lumsden, though not an experienced campaigner when he first arrived on active service, was a capable organiser, and had the natural gift of commanding the respect and cheerful obedience of all who served under him, and he soon qualified as a competent leader under fire. He was ably supported by a well-selected body of officers and non-commissioned officers; and there was an evident determination among all ranks that the representatives of the Indian Auxiliary Forces should justify their selection by the Indian public. The ‘rank-and-file’ was composed of gentlemen who had been used to the comparative luxury of an Indian planter’s life, and who were untrained in cooking for themselves and attending to their horses. But they soon adapted themselves to the situation, and cheerfully took their share of all the work of Regular soldiers, and with such success that an experienced officer like General Hutton expressed his admiration of the manner in which they did it.

The ‘fighting’ capacity of Lumsden’s Horse cannot be entirely estimated from the gaps in their ranks. They were, as a result of their training in civil life, more ‘self-reliant’ than the rank-and-file of our Regular Army, and the looser formations they were consequently able to adopt account in a great measure for their comparatively small losses. The opinion formed of the corps by the Commander-in-Chief can be gathered from the great number of distinctions, promotions, and commissions in the Regular Army which were conferred on those who remained. The time-honoured maxim, ‘Blood will tell,’ was never better exemplified than in this corps, and, should it be my lot ever again to command troops in the field, I ask for no better fortune than to have a similar body to Lumsden’s Horse.

W. Ross,

Late Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding 8th Corps M.I.


To have served under two leaders of high reputation for ability in handling Irregular troops was a stroke of good fortune that did not fall to the lot of many Volunteer Corps in South Africa. Lumsden’s Horse had every reason to be thankful that the lot was theirs, and they appreciated it fully. In exchanging from the 8th Mounted Infantry Regiment to another column, of which Colonel Bryan Mahon was Brigadier, they did not forget the commander under whom they had served so long; but affection for him was happily consistent with out-and-out admiration for the officer to whose force they were transferred after leaving Irene. Both were thorough soldiers, having strong sympathies with Volunteers and a complete understanding of the peculiarities that distinguish them from Regulars. In other words, both were born leaders of men. Colonel Mahon, or General as he then was by local rank, had proved himself to be a commander of great dash and resourcefulness in his conduct of operations by which he won not only the affectionate confidence of his own troops, but also the respect of enemies who still speak with admiration of the young Cavalry officer who beat them at their own game by rapid flank movements on the way to Mafeking, and effected the relief of that beleaguered garrison in spite of all De la Rey could do to prevent him. In ten days he marched a distance of 230 miles through country destitute of supplies, where no other forces had disputed possession with the Boers since war began. He outwitted the cleverest of De la Rey’s lieutenants at Kraaipan by a night march which won his adversary’s admiration, and he took a great convoy of Cape carts and heavier transport full of provisions into Mafeking without having lost a single waggon. Describing that surprise at Kraaipan, when, after waiting in expectation of an attack by which Mahon should fall into the trap laid for him, the Boers suddenly realised that the British column had disappeared, one of their scouts said, ‘We did not get much rest, as somebody had to be on the look-out all night. Your laager was quite near to us, but we did not see or hear anything move. In the morning, however, the whole had vanished, and when it was too late to stop them we heard they were trekking away north-west towards a desert where nobody but Boers or natives would expect to find water. Your General must have had somebody with him who knew that country well or he would never have ventured there.’ The ‘somebody’ in this case may have been Colonel Frank Rhodes, the bearer of a name which is one to conjure with still among the native tribes of Bechuanaland. He was Mahon’s Intelligence officer, and information gleaned by him made the night march possible; but it was the young Brigadier who planned and carried it into execution at a time when his enemies thought they had him surely trapped. When a complete history of the campaign comes to be written, that march of Mahon’s for the relief of Mafeking will rank high among the most daring and successful operations. All this story was known weeks before the General himself arrived at Pretoria with the Imperial Light Horse, who had won fresh honours in that enterprise under a leader whose praises they never tired of singing. No expectation of being brigaded with such a famous corps under such a brigadier had occurred to Lumsden’s Horse when they left Irene. Indeed, they seem to have regarded themselves as an integral unit of the 8th Mounted Infantry up to the day when Colonel Ross, receiving orders for a movement southwards, went off with other corps of his command, leaving Lumsden’s Horse behind. Meanwhile, however, they had been placed for a time at the disposal of Colonel Hickman, under whom they took part in the brief operations already described towards Crocodile River, which were merely a reconnaissance for the more important enterprise to follow.

It will be remembered that Lord Roberts, about this time, had both hands fully occupied in keeping Botha at arm’s length in the east and stretching out his left with considerable force westward to ward off attacks by De la Rey and others who were causing General Baden-Powell much anxiety for the safety of Rustenburg, which he held with a very small number of troops. It would never have done to let the newly emancipated hero of Mafeking be subjected to another siege. Therefore, when he reported that a strong force was again threatening Rustenburg Lord Roberts determined to withdraw that garrison to Commando Nek, while the small force holding Lichtenburg was to retire upon Zeerust. Accordingly, General Ian Hamilton received orders to march to Rustenburg and bring Baden-Powell’s force back with him. At the same time Sir Frederick Carrington was directed to advance from Mafeking with his mounted troops to the assistance of Colonel Hore, who, with 140 Bushmen, 80 men of the Rhodesian Regiment, and 80 Rhodesian Volunteers, was at Eland’s River with a convoy of supplies for the Rustenburg garrison, and held up there by an intercepting body of Boers. This brief summary of the general situation is necessary to a clear understanding of the exigencies that necessitated General Ian Hamilton’s movement eastward along the Magaliesberg, and the reconnaissance immediately preceding it, in all of which important operations Lumsden’s Horse were actively engaged from start to finish. The force marched in three columns, Colonel Hickman’s being on the left, General Ian Hamilton’s in the centre, and Brigadier-General Mahon’s on the right, each being separated from the other by a rough range of hills which in places became quite mountainous.

All this range, sweeping round the hollow in which Pretoria lies, and then stretching away westward by irregular curves past Rustenburg to Eland’s River, is known as the Magaliesberg, and famed for the fertility of valleys that broaden out at its feet from many rugged kloofs. In peace-time it is the great tobacco-producing district of the Transvaal—a veritable garden, where orange groves, flourishing in wild luxuriance, sweeten the air with their fragrance, and brighten the landscape with the richness of their golden fruit. In war-time its commanding crests and narrow defiles formed a series of strongholds for the commandos that rallied round General De la Rey and by their daring raids gained a reputation as the best fighters of all Boers then in the field. Every Kaffir path by which scouts could move unseen was familiar to them. They knew every point from which wide views could be obtained in all directions, and every nook in which men might hide secure from observation, ready for a sudden attack if occasion should serve, yet having more than one way open for escape from any danger that might threaten them. General Baden-Powell with the relieved garrison from Mafeking had marched through a mountainous country and crossed the Magaliesberg to Rustenburg, meeting no opposition. The Boer forces belonging to that district had then more serious affairs to occupy them elsewhere. But after the fight at Diamond Hill, when General Botha retired to the Eastern Transvaal, De la Rey came back to his old haunts on the Magaliesberg, surprised a British post near Zilikat’s Nek, and began a series of operations by which he threatened to cut off all supplies from Rustenburg.

Colonel Lumsden continues his diary:

Two days after our return to Pretoria from the reconnaissance under Colonel Hickman the 8th Mounted Infantry received orders to entrain at 4 A.M. for Wolve Hoek, the station next south of Vereeniging; but at the station the order as far as we were concerned was countermanded, and we were told to return and report to General Mahon. His instructions were that we should remain in our present camp and fall in as rearguard when his column marched off for Rustenburg on August 1. The morning of that day, therefore, found us in rear of the baggage of his column, which was moving to Rustenburg, north of the Magaliesberg Range, to the relief of Baden-Powell, while General Hamilton proceeded up the valley south of the Magaliesberg. Mahon’s brigade was unique in its composition, consisting almost entirely of Volunteer Mounted Infantry—viz., Imperial Light Horse, Lumsden’s Horse, New Zealand Mounted Infantry, Queensland Mounted Infantry, a regiment of Yeomanry, two squadrons 18th Hussars (the squadrons that were captured after the battle of Talana), and the M Battery R.H.A.—in all about 1,500 strong.

Firing began two miles out of Pretoria, and pom-poms and guns played merrily all day, clearing the range which divided the two columns. We camped twelve miles out. The plan for next day subsequently transpired to have been that General Hamilton should make a frontal attack and drive the enemy off the high ground, where they had taken up a position, near Zilikat’s Nek, while our brigade, making a wide movement, to the right, was to cut off the retiring foe from the Schwartz and Roode Kopjes, to which they were expected to retreat. Apparently something went wrong with the arrangements, for Hamilton, attacking before we got into position, lost some twenty men and the Boers escaped.

The point at which General Hamilton made his attack was from the south side of the Magaliesberg range near Uitval Nek, which the enemy held strongly. As General Mahon’s brigade was moving along the north side of those precipitous ridges through a country thick with scrub, no communication could be kept up between the two forces, and Hamilton, whose march was unimpeded by natural difficulties, had not allowed sufficient time for his colleague to cover the treacherous ground through which many tributaries of the Crocodile River run their devious courses. On getting touch with the enemy, whose position he had located, Ian Hamilton went for them at once, a portion of Cunningham’s brigade making as if for a frontal attack, while two companies of the Berkshire Regiment, led by Major Elmhirst Rhodes, gallantly escaladed the steep cliff overlooking the pass from its eastern side. Hamilton’s losses in this fight amounted to forty killed and wounded before the Boers could be dislodged; but as soon as they found that their position was under fire from above, where the Berkshires had gained a footing, the enemy fled, abandoning their waggons and horses. Unfortunately, delayed by the obstacles already mentioned, Mahon’s mounted troops did not come up in time to take any part, otherwise but few of the enemy could have escaped. A correspondent of the ‘Times of India,’ taking up the story a day after this fight, when General Mahon’s force had got through the denser bush country into a more smiling region only to find that the enemy had disappeared, writes:

The valley we were passing through was well watered and cultivated, and in some places fairly thickly wooded; much pleasanter country for travelling through than the bare monotonous veldt of which we had seen so much in the Free State. We passed many snug farmhouses, also several flourishing orange groves. At one place there were acres of orange trees simply laden with fruit, and as they were going to waste we were allowed to help ourselves. The oranges were very fine and beautifully ripe; one man from each sub-section was allowed to go and gather them, and in a few minutes came back literally bulging with them—haversacks, nosebags, pockets, &c., overflowing, the little tangerines being especially appreciated. Some of the Australians were so enchanted by this valley that they doubted whether there could be another such in all the world. That night we were all aroused to assist in putting out a veldt fire, which had approached uncomfortably close to the camp; owing to a high wind and the fact that the grass was particularly long and dry, it was much fiercer than is usually the case. However, we set to work with blankets and beat it out where it was too threatening, and then burnt a ring round the camp, effectually stopping its progress. A Boer spy was caught in camp that night. He had a pass on him showing that he had taken the oath of neutrality, and he had expansive bullets in his bandolier. He was shot next morning.

Progress was naturally very slow, owing to the difficult nature of the country and the fact that the hills had to be very carefully scouted. We were rearguard that day and saw no fighting ourselves, but the scouts in front evidently soon put up the Boers, as we heard rifle shots being exchanged constantly, and every now and then our guns shelled the retreating enemy.

I may mention here that the Imperial Light Horse formed part of the Mounted Infantry in General Mahon’s brigade. This was the first time we had come across this famous corps, which had done such splendid work during the war, and a very fine body of men we thought them. Possessing a knowledge of the language and in many cases of the country, they are most useful as scouts, and General Mahon fully recognised that fact during the whole march, as he gave them plenty of work to do. Besides this, they were old friends of his, having been under his command with the Mafeking Relief Column, and they have been with him ever since. Ian Hamilton, we heard afterwards, had met with a pretty stubborn resistance from the Boers in his valley, where, as had been anticipated, their main body was opposed to him, and he had several casualties. We only advanced about twelve miles that day. Next day the driving process recommenced, Lumsden’s Horse during the greater part of the time occupying a very high kopje, from which we were ordered to keep a bright look-out and to hold it if attacked. It was a devil of a climb (the horses were kept below), but the view from the top almost compensated us for our trouble. This part of the country was certainly the best we had been through so far; beautifully wooded in many places, and dotted all over with farms and orange groves. The oranges were simply delicious, especially the tangerine variety, and we took full advantage of the opportunity afforded us of having our fill of them, each man eating as many as he could on the spot, and carrying away a nosebagful with him.

Evidently the Generals had orders to adopt strong measures in cases of farms harbouring Boers, or from which any sniping might be done, or in which ammunition might be stored, as it was a daily occurrence for two or three of them to be fired and rased to the ground. Looking into the next valley from our high perch we saw a huge camp below which we at first took to be a Boer laager, but we found out afterwards it was Ian Hamilton’s force, which had advanced quicker than we had, and had encamped for the day.

We had got to Commando Nek that night, and heard that the Boers from the centre valley had already slipped through. This was unfortunate, but could not be helped, as we could not push on farther than we did without risking the sacrifice of many valuable lives. I think we were informed that the enemy numbered about 600, and that their main body had got away some time before, leaving behind a few snipers to keep us in check. This is their usual method of proceeding, and a very sound one it is.

One has to see the country oneself to realise what an easy thing it is for a few men well placed to keep a large body back. We send out our scouts, and immediately they are fired on. We shell the places from which they have been shot at. After this has gone on for some little time we advance again, and so on. Progress is very slow, and meantime the bird has flown. As I say, one has to be out in the country to understand properly what difficulties the attacking party has to contend against. With the numberless examples before them of our men blundering into traps and being slaughtered and having to surrender through going at things baldheaded, as they say, our Generals have learned caution. Then, on the other hand, the slow progress enables the enemy to get away. ‘What can do?’ ‘Horns of dilemma!’ as our Babu friends would say.

Then, again, the Boers know the country thoroughly, and when hard pressed the Commandant simply tells his men to scatter and appoints some meeting place further on. His convoy scatters likewise, and all, travelling by three or four different routes, arrive at the rendezvous in due course. We, on the other hand, have to follow the beaten path, and are always being hung up for hours by our convoys getting stuck in drifts, &c. It is not to be wondered at that the Boers, possessing these advantages, so often elude us.

General Ian Hamilton’s column came through the Nek next day, and, joining hands with General Mahon, proceeded towards Rustenburg, in which direction the Boers had fled, and where Baden-Powell was said to be surrounded and unable to get away. Horses and men fared very well just then, the former getting plenty of oat-hay commandeered from the hostile farms we passed, and green barley and oat-grass in the fields at the midday halts; and the latter securing fowls, geese, sucking-pigs, &c., which were very plentiful in Kaffir kraals and farmhouses. During the two days it took us to reach Rustenburg we expected to get in touch with the enemy at any moment, but they did not come up to the scratch, and we entered the town unopposed on August 5.

It appears that, hearing of Ian Hamilton’s approach, the Boers abandoned the kopjes surrounding Rustenburg and relieved the pressure on Baden-Powell, who, having heard in the meantime that General Carrington, working with a small force in the country between Rustenburg and Mafeking, was in danger of losing his convoy, had moved out to his assistance.

The actual position was that Colonel Hore, marching with a convoy of supplies from Zeerust to Rustenburg, and, finding his way barred by a greater force than he could hope to cope with, and his retreat also cut off, had entrenched himself at Eland’s River. There he waited for the relieving force under General Carrington, which never came nearer than within sound of the Boer guns, and unfortunately the Rustenburg column also stopped short in its attempt to relieve Colonel Hore, who had to fight it out for a week or so longer against enormous odds that might have overwhelmed his force but for the magnificent determination displayed by Australian Bushmen and Rhodesian Volunteers. The failure of that attempt at relief is briefly described by Colonel Lumsden, whose diary also summarises subsequent operations in pursuit of De Wet in the following passages:

Next day we expected a well-earned rest, but Mahon’s brigade was lent to strengthen General Baden-Powell’s force, which was to move at daybreak next morning to assist Colonel Hore, who was known to be in difficulties in the direction of or beyond Eland’s River (one of the many streams bearing that name in the colony). This entailed a sharp ride of fifteen miles, which brought us to Eland’s River and within hearing of the cannonading, but no further. On the bank of the river was a small group of officers, prominent among them being General Baden-Powell, and by his side were Colonel Plumer and Major Baden-Powell. We found the great man seated on a rock, surrounded by his Staff, and sketching hard with both hands! Most of us had not seen him before, so it can be imagined how glad we were to have the opportunity of getting a good look at England’s popular hero at the moment. We were also delighted at the idea of being under his command, if only for a short time. We had a better view of him on the way back, and he appeared to be very fit and none the worse for his Mafeking experiences.

While waiting here to rest and water the horses we heard big guns firing in the direction in which Carrington’s force was situated, and expected momentarily to be ordered to advance; but after some time we were told that Baden-Powell had tapped the telegraph wire and learned from Carrington that he had repulsed the Boers and had got his convoy away safely, and that he did not require our assistance. I am afraid, however, that the wrong source must have been tapped, and that a false message, intended to deceive, must then have come, not from Carrington, but from the wily Boers. After two hours’ rest we returned to Rustenburg for the night, having apparently accomplished nothing in particular, except a march of thirty miles all told. Rustenburg was then evacuated, and the whole of General Hamilton’s division concentrated near Commando Nek, resting there one day. We then went to join the De Wet hunt with Mahon’s brigade in front, and in spite of only a little skirmishing advanced somewhat slowly. On the 15th we came into touch with the eight Generals who were pursuing De Wet on an organised plan from the south towards Oliphant’s Nek. We were supposed to have been in time to cut off De Wet and prevent him going north to Oliphant’s Nek, but were unfortunately too late, and all we could do was to join the others and follow him up. The next evening we were in touch with the rearguard and in sight of the Nek.

The following morning we escorted the big guns to within range of the Nek, took our position on the hills on the right, and watched the Infantry make the attack. It was a very pretty sight from our position, but the resistance was slight, so, going through the Nek, we reached Rustenburg for the third time and spent the night there, our laager being well supplied by way of a change with turkeys and fowls poached from local preserves. Away again next morning Pretoria-wards, reaching Sterkstroom at 4 P.M. the next day. Hardly had we off-saddled, with visions of a raid on a field of sweet potatoes in view, before we received orders to again saddle up and march at 5 P.M. after De Wet, who was reported just in front of us. From 5 till 11 our weary horses struggled on through the darkness. We bivouacked for the night within three miles of Commando Nek, hoping, as we had often hoped before, to get De Wet next morning. Long ere day broke we were up and away again, only to find that De Wet’s force had gone north along the river towards Roode Kopjes, which we reached at daybreak with still no signs of the enemy. On the right bank of the river and a mile off were some low rocky kopjes covered with scrub, on the left a series of high but broken hills. We, as advance guard, took up our position on the latter as the Boer convoy was trekking away in full view across the open from the shelter of the former, and just out of range of the twelve pom-poms. The temptation was great to push on in pursuit, but our General was luckily wiser and preferred to reconnoitre across the river before implicating the guns and main body in what turned out to be a most difficult drift. We from our position looked on while the New Zealanders on the right crossed the drift and, spreading out, advanced to the broken ground. We had just made up our mind that all was clear, and that the General had been culpably slow, when a frightful fusillade burst out on the unfortunate reconnoitrers from a range of fifty yards. There was nothing for it but to race back as hard as they could, leaving six casualties behind, two of which resulted fatally. The _coup_ having failed, and horse and man being incapable of more, we all returned to the previous night’s camp. At 6 A.M. on the 20th we reoccupied the same kopjes, forced the passage of the river, and with little further resistance got into the open country five miles beyond. We then marched through bushveldt to Zoutpans, Warmbaths, and Waterval, back to Pretoria, with very little to record in the ten days so occupied, the only interesting feature being the peculiar country known as bushveldt, best described as a sea of stunted thorn trees (familiarly known as toothpick trees), with an undergrowth of coarse grass, no roads, but tracks of heavy sand which delayed the Transport very much. Scouting was practically impossible, as it was very difficult to get horses through the formidable thorny scrub, while vision was limited to thirty yards.

The operations are described in fuller detail by correspondents of Indian papers, whose interesting records of events in which they took part need to be dovetailed together for the sake of a connected narrative. It is necessary, however, to say here by way of introduction that after accomplishing its mission in the relief of Rustenburg and the withdrawal of that garrison General Ian Hamilton’s column became involved by force of circumstances in a series of intricate operations with other columns moving from east, west, and south with the object of catching the wily De Wet between them. One correspondent thus describes the march out of Rustenburg:

It having been decided to abandon the town, the night was spent in destroying a lot of Boer ammunition and rifles of every description which had been stored in the gaol. There was a constant succession of reports as the cartridges exploded, and it sounded exactly as if a smart general engagement was taking place. The next day, the 7th, Rustenburg was completely evacuated, and the four brigades marched back on their way towards the Crocodile River. Those of the inhabitants who had claimed British protection also moved out with our convoy, in addition to whom were forty Boer prisoners, including Piet Kruger, Oom Paul’s son, under escort. As our progress was considerably retarded by the large convoy it was despatched at night on the 8th to a situation of safety. Each brigade was then operating separately, though supporting each other, with Mahon’s as a flying column. The next morning the Australians had a brush with some sixty Boer snipers, but the main body made a dash for Uitval Nek, only to find that the enemy had again anticipated our arrival and had bolted. Getting through Commando Nek on August 9, we rejoined Ian Hamilton, who was encamped on the other side. This was the largest camp we had been in so far. There must have been quite 15,000 men there, including troops from many parts of the world. All General Baden-Powell’s as well as General Mahon’s column were Irregulars, so that with General Ian Hamilton’s Regulars we were perhaps as representative a gathering as has ever camped together. Englishmen, Highlanders, Welshmen, and Irishmen, Australians (of all sorts), Canadians, New Zealanders, Tasmanians, Imperial Yeomanry, ‘Lumsden’s’ from India, and Colonials from all parts of South Africa, the Imperial Light Horse, the Rhodesian Regiment, some of Montmorency’s Scouts, &c., were present.

The New Zealanders gave a sing-song that night, the visitors sitting or standing round a huge log fire and the performers occupying the centre. It was an excellent show, several very good men taking the boards, or rather the veldt. The _finale_ was a march round by some of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders with pipes and drums playing. Our entertainers, I must not forget to mention, supplied the crowd liberally with rum, a much-appreciated drink among Tommies and Volunteers alike. Mixed with sugar and water and taken hot it is hard to beat, and has kept off many a fever, I am sure, in wet weather. I may mention that rum was only rationed out very occasionally, except in extremely bad weather, when we generally got it daily. Rum nights, needless to say, were hailed with delight, and shouts of ‘Roll up for your rum’ would be heard all round the camp.


NIGHT IN CAMP (_From a sketch by J.S. Cowen_) ]

Here the sequence of events may be appropriately interrupted for the sake of some amusing incidents and anecdotes told by another correspondent, who, in connection with this great gathering of troops in our camp near Commando Nek, writes:

After considerable practice the amateur cooks could make a savoury repast out of very little. If there was a garden about we grubbed up some vegetables, with which even the trek-ox served out in Government rations made an excellent stew. It was our fortune this night, however, to be better provided for by a lucky chance. While engaged in drawing the meagre rations and arguing with the Quartermaster-Sergeant over details of ounces and pennyweights, that had come to be regarded by us as very important matters, we suddenly espied a great scurry going on about a mile away, crowds of men rushing after what we at last made out to be a small deer. In and out it went among patrol tents, horses, saddles, carts, and guns. Frantic efforts were made in vain to catch it; men left whatever they were doing to join in the chase, rolling over in their endeavours to be first. Everybody threw something, and many dangerous missiles came hurtling through the air. But the deer ran on and suddenly turned our way. We also missed it by yards, and the shouting crowd swept by, losing sight of their quarry presently, and not knowing whither it had gone. A man of ours happened to be lying rolled up in his blanket asleep. The din roused him, and just as he was beginning to move the buck rose for a leap over his body. He caught it in the outspread blanket and kept it there. So the game came to our mess after all by sheer luck. On the strength of it we invited our very good friends and next-door neighbours, the Bushmen (Queensland Mounted Infantry) to dine with us that night, and soon after sunset they came round to our fire. Very good fellows they were, and a very genial dinner we had. Our guests brought their own stew, which was excellent, and their coffee too, with which to eke out our supplies. One of our men produced some good cheroots afterwards, and we sat on into the night, smoking, sipping coffee, and telling stories, the hills all around being lighted up with lines of veldt fires and the sky illuminated by a glorious full moon. Some of the Bushmen’s stories against themselves were most amusing. They had as good a name as anybody for horse-stealing and cattle-lifting. One of them told us gravely that when he was walking one day through another regiment’s lines a sergeant spotted him and gave the order ‘Stand to your horses.’ He said he was so overcome by the ‘compliment,’ that he could hardly acknowledge it. On another occasion, at a midday halt, when the ‘cow-gun’ teams were brought back from watering, the distracted officer in charge found one of the fattest and best oxen was missing. He only just discovered it in time to save its life and deprive the Bushmen of a feast. They told us many tricks for changing a horse’s marks, brands, colour, and general appearance, so that no man might know his own horse thus transformed, and I looked anxiously towards my own chestnut quite expecting to find that he had either been taken away to the camp of our neighbours or ‘faked’ practically before my own eyes. Others joined our circle as the moon rose higher. The whole camp seemed in excellent spirits. Sounds of revelry, wafted on the still night air, reached us from many a camp-fire; snatches of song, broken anon by outbursts of cheering; elsewhere uprose the strains of the Highland pipes. Rumour is busy that we are to join in the chase after De Wet, who is breaking away north. We wonder as we roll into our blankets when will be our next day of rest.

And the rumours were true for once. Not many hours elapsed before Mahon’s brigade, with the remainder of Hamilton’s force, was on the move southward and westward through Commando Nek into Rustenburg again, and then away north-east, still pursuing into the bushveldt the elusive force which they took to be De Wet’s. As a matter of fact, De Wet had already left this force. He, personally, did not quit the Magaliesberg range, but, doubling back with a small band of trusty followers the day after his passage of Oliphant’s Nek, he slipped through a neighbouring poort, and so got at once in rear of his pursuers. They were thenceforth on the heels of a fresh force, which De la Rey had detached to serve as a will-o’-the-wisp. All these facts the Editor has learned from the lips of General De la Rey himself recently. The next rest did not come for several weary days, owing to circumstances that are described by other correspondents in the following letters:

After a day’s rest (General Baden-Powell being left behind with a small force to guard Commando Nek) the division advanced again in a south-westerly direction to try to cut off De Wet, who was being driven north by Kitchener, Methuen, Smith-Dorrien, Hart, and Broadwood. We encountered a small body of fifty Boers, but a few shells sent among these soon dislodged them from the kopje on which they had taken up a position, and we did not see them again.

We got to a place called Hekpoort the next day, and here it was decided to convert Mahon’s brigade into a flying column, which meant that we were to travel without any Transport, each man being served out with three days’ rations, which he carried with him. This column was to work independently of the rest of the division and be ready to start in pursuit of De Wet at a moment’s notice, should we get news of him.

Leaving Ian Hamilton to follow on slowly by another route, Mahon’s brigade marched at daybreak on the 12th, we acting as advance scouts. The country hereabouts is very hilly, and affords excellent cover for the wily sniper, so scouting was not all ‘beer and skittles.’ Visions of grouse moors at home were naturally strong upon some of us that day, and one’s thoughts ran irresistibly to parallels between the driving of grouse and our attempts to round up De Wet. One was constantly on the qui vive, expecting to be shot at any moment, as the enemy were known to be about. Nothing happened, however, and the next few days were spent in loafing along, doing about ten miles or so, in momentary expectation of getting in touch with De Wet. But this gentleman’s movements were as erratic as usual, and it was evidently impossible to get any reliable information as to his exact whereabouts. It was known that he was being driven towards Oliphant’s Nek by Lord Methuen and the others mentioned above, and it would appear that the proper course to have pursued was to have held this pass, which was the only possible avenue of escape left to De Wet, and wait for him there, instead of wandering about more or less aimlessly, as we were doing. This could very easily have been done, one imagines, with a small portion of the large force at General Hamilton’s disposal, and why it was not tried is an unsolved mystery to a great many of us up to the present. As far as an outsider can see, a very serious blunder was committed here, and we apparently lost a chance of bringing the war to a speedy conclusion. Had De Wet been caught, Botha would probably have surrendered, and the other commandants would have followed suit.

As it was, however, we moved along slowly, the monotony being broken now and again by an exchange of shots between our scouts and scattered parties of Boers on the adjacent hills. About midday on August 13 Lumsden’s Horse were detached from the main body and sent off to the flank to reconnoitre, and on our way met a party of the Imperial Light Horse who had been sent out to burn a farm situated in a hollow among some hills from which the Boers had been sniping. The officer in charge of the Imperial Light Horse party requested Captain Noblett, under whose command we were, to keep us on the top of the hill to prevent surprise while he and his men went and destroyed the farm. This was done, but for some reason or another the Imperial Light Horse officer changed his mind and did not burn the farm. While on the hill we were told by some Kaffirs that the enemy (about eighty in number) had left a few moments before; seeing our scouts coming over the hill, they had fled precipitately. We went down to the farm after the Imperial Light Horse party had gone on, and had hardly left it to return to the main body again when we saw a small party of Boers on the hill on our right, and these were doubtless the men referred to by the Kaffirs we had spoken to. Instead of going by the road we took a short cut across the veldt, as it was rather late and we wanted to get back to the main body before nightfall. It turned out afterwards that it was as well we did so, as on the way we heard firing on our right, and on approaching to see what it was all about saw that the road led through a deep hollow among some low hills in which the Boers had taken up their position. Had we taken the road we should have walked right into the trap which they had evidently laid for us, and should have got slaughtered. The firing we heard was an exchange of compliments between these Boers and some dozen Australians who had also been sent out on reconnaissance duty, and who had posted themselves on a hill opposite. Finding that they did not want any assistance, we pushed on and joined the brigade again at about 5 o’clock, camping shortly afterwards. It is interesting to note that the spot we camped at was the one that heard the first shots fired during the Jameson Raid. The Boer _sangars_ still exist, and were occupied that night by Lumsden’s ‘outlying picket.’ Having no Transport, we had to depend on whatever we had in our saddle-bags, and were consequently on rather short commons; and the horses, too, fared badly, poor beasts, having to subsist mostly on what grass they could pick up on the veldt and on such oat-hay and mealies as we could get out of the farmhouses we passed. The latter were very few and far between in that part of the country. Next day we continued our march in the same direction, and both flanking parties engaged the enemy’s snipers on several occasions. The Imperial Light Horse reported having killed one Boer and wounded four others. On the 15th we acted as advance guard, and had not proceeded far when we found ourselves wound up with five brigades—viz., Lord Kitchener’s, Lord Methuen’s, General Hart’s, Smith-Dorrien’s, and a column under Colonel Pilcher—that had all been co-operating with us, bent on surrounding De Wet. But the Boer leader of a lost cause proved as slippery as ever, and had again escaped _viâ_ Oliphant’s Nek towards Rustenburg. The valley we had passed through was mainly occupied by English and German farmers, who complained bitterly at the constant visits of English and Boer troops, as sympathy of any kind with either cause got them into hot water with the other side, and the Boers are past masters as looters. The good people of Rustenburg were in a like predicament, hence its evacuation. We heard at a store here that De Wet had passed through the previous day with our men in close pursuit. Later we were informed that he had got through Oliphant’s Nek, which he had found unoccupied, and that now the place was strongly held by the Boers.

In the evening I understand the various Generals got into consultation, and it was decided that General Ian Hamilton should advance with his division to attack the Nek and continue the chase after De Wet, while Lord Kitchener and the others were, I believe, to proceed to the west of Rustenburg, where the Boers under De la Rey were again giving trouble.[13]

We joined General Ian Hamilton that evening, and next day the whole force marched in the direction of Oliphant’s Nek and got within a few miles of it by about 4 that afternoon. As it was so late, and the place was said to be so strongly held, General Ian Hamilton decided on deferring his attack till next day. Before we camped for the night the advance scouts got into touch with the enemy, and we heard several exchanges of shots going on in front. Shortly afterwards we were moved up in support, and stayed till dark, after which we went back to camp, which had been pitched about two miles off, leaving a strong mounted picket behind. Lumsden’s Horse alone supplied forty men. Writing about picket duty reminds me that it was particularly trying during this march. Since leaving Pretoria we had been supplying forty or fifty men nearly every night—_i.e._, about 50 per cent. of our number. This duty we hated more than any other. One did not mind hard work all day if one’s nights in camp were undisturbed; but to come in at dark and hardly have time to off-saddle before being ordered to fall in for outlying picket was simply ghastly. On some occasions we went out without any food or drink, and if, as often happens, the post was a long way off and difficult to find in the dark, one’s fellow messmen were unable to take anything out. Whenever possible, however, bully-beef or Army rations and biscuits were served out to the picket before it marched off, and when this was done things were not so bad.

The Boer camp fires were seen quite distinctly on the hills close to where our pickets were, and from the number of these we judged that the report that the Nek was strongly held was not an exaggerated one. It is naturally a grand place to defend, and could be made almost impregnable, I should think, with its high commanding kopjes on either side. Besides which, it was said to have been strongly fortified by Colonel Kekewich some time before. We naturally thought, therefore, that we should have a hard nut to crack next day. Just before dawn, however, a spy who had been sent into the Boer camp returned with the news that they had been on the move all night getting away their baggage, &c., and that they would not offer any very great resistance to our passage—probably just enough to allow their convoy ample time to get away. This man, by the way, while returning from the Boer camp ran into our outlying picket, and, not being prompt in replying to the sentry’s challenge ‘Who comes there?’ he very nearly got shot.

The report that most of the Boers had stolen away turned out to be correct, as after a few hours’ shelling to clear the way for our Infantry the latter advanced practically unopposed, the casualties on either side being very few, and we got through the Nek about 11 A.M. We saw some very pretty artillery practice, two 5-inch guns coming into action at a range of three or four miles quite close to where we stood.

As De Wet was said to have gone off in the direction of Rustenburg we pressed forward, got outside that town in the afternoon, and camped there for the night once more.

Evidently fresh news of the ‘wily’ one was received, as next day (August 18) we started back the way we had come and halted in the afternoon, as if for a long rest, at Sterkstroom, some miles west of Commando Nek. We had hardly been in camp an hour when the order came for Mahon’s brigade to saddle up and march at once, the object being to intercept De Wet, who was reported to have taken up a position near the Crocodile River. We did a long weary march, the weariness being accentuated by the fact that we were not allowed to smoke or speak above a whisper. We halted about 10.30 and camped at a place called Bokfontein, about five miles west of the Crocodile. I presume it was not thought advisable to advance any closer for fear of blundering into the enemy unawares, and thus giving them the chance of getting away under cover of darkness. With all these precautions and preparations we naturally thought we were really there or thereabouts this time. Once again, however, we were baffled of our prey, which we heard next evening had got away in a north-easterly direction.

We arrived at Commando Nek at 6 A.M. on the 19th, and it was then decided that Mahon’s brigade should reconnoitre the kopjes north of and directly opposite to the Nek, and this we proceeded to do. General Ian Hamilton had not come up then. On approaching the position we found that there were two ranges of kopjes lying east and west (each range being divided again into several little groups of hills), and through these there was a passage leading to the open country beyond.

A squadron of the Imperial Light Horse was sent out to scout, and they presently put up some Boers, but a few shells sent among these soon drove them back again. Lumsden’s Horse were then ordered to gallop forward and occupy the first group of kopjes on the western ranges. We had hardly got into position when we saw a large convoy of Boer waggons making its way, as fast as the oxen could be goaded to travel, from the kopje on the east to the plains beyond, and towards another range of kopjes further north. We immediately sent back word to General Mahon, and he at once ordered the guns to be brought up, and a few shells were sent after the convoy. Unfortunately, however, we only had a battery of 12-pounders with us, and by the time they got into position the convoy had a long start and our shells fell short. General Mahon reluctantly decided that it would be unsafe to follow the convoy with the small force at his disposal, as the Boers had no doubt left a sufficient number of men behind on the eastern and western ranges of kopjes to cover its retreat. These kopjes completely commanded the plains beyond, and had we gone on we should have been absolutely at their mercy and should have been very roughly handled indeed.

Besides which, I fancy General Mahon’s orders were merely to reconnoitre the position and not to run his neck into any kind of noose. Abandoning all idea of pursuit, therefore, General Mahon then proceeded to examine the eastern range of kopjes from which the convoy had started, and where he suspected there might be a Boer laager. To effect this purpose he sent out the New Zealanders as scouts. They were allowed to approach within fifty yards without molestation, when all of a sudden the klik-klok of Mausers was heard all along the ridge, and an officer and three men were seen to fall. The former died next day, poor fellow. After this the scouts returned. From our position on the kopjes on the left we saw the whole thing distinctly. A party of New Zealanders, before this happened, were examining a farmhouse, and while they were inside one of their horses got away. The farmhouse was quite close to the hill from which the Boers were firing, and when the retirement took place the unfortunate man who had lost his horse would have been left had not one of his comrades very pluckily ridden forward and caught the animal, which was grazing close by, and thus enabled its owner to get away. The plucky scout, however, stayed to take up, behind his saddle, another man, whose horse had been killed, and they also managed to get clear off, notwithstanding that they were being shot at all the while. Captain Taylor, our Adjutant, who was looking through his telescope at the time, said it was the neatest and coolest thing he had ever seen. It was now getting on in the afternoon, and, the purpose for which, as I presume, we were sent out being complete, the order to retire was given, Lumsden’s Horse being instructed to act as rearguard, and occupy the kopjes where they were posted, till the guns and the rest of the troops had got away. This we did, and we heard afterwards from the men in charge of the ambulance which was left behind to bring in the wounded that we had hardly left the kopjes we had been on all day when the Boers occupied them. We got back to our camp at Commando Nek late in the afternoon, and stayed there for the night. This was the most irritating action we have yet been in, for the Boer convoy was at our mercy, but we were not numerically strong enough to attack it. It thus slipped away under our very noses. Baden-Powell was at Commando Nek and Ian Hamilton a day’s march in rear.

It was arranged that next day General Mahon’s brigade should make an attack on the position reconnoitred that morning, supported by Ian Hamilton, who was to join us again with the rest of his division. Lumsden’s Horse were to take up the same position as they had done the day before. The brigade marched out at 6.30 A.M. and were soon on the scene of the previous action. As instructed, we posted ourselves on the kopjes occupied by us the day before, and in the meantime scouts were sent out to discover whether or not the Boers were still about. The crack of Mausers soon decided this question, and the kopjes in front and on both flanks were then shelled for several hours. We were then ordered to leave our rocky perches and advance in skirmishing order to the attack. We soon arrived on the kopjes previously held by the Boers, but found no trace of these gentry, who had evidently played their usual game of leaving a few snipers behind to hinder our advance while their main body got away in safety. This effected, the snipers themselves vanished into space. There were no casualties on our side that morning, and I do not fancy our shells did much damage, as I did not hear of any dead or wounded Boers being found. It was about here that De Wet was supposed to have broken up his commando, leaving some 1,500 dismounted men to take refuge in the bushveldt, while he went off south with only 200 men. Meantime General Ian Hamilton came up with his troops, and the whole of us then advanced north, the direction taken by the fleeing Boers into the bushveldt, expecting a fight at any time, which did not come off. The going was extremely difficult, the soil being impalpable sand with thorny bushes growing so close together that at twenty yards objects could not be discerned. Water was only encountered at one spot, a farm in a valley. The occupants of the farm were a Boer woman and two little children; she weepingly informed us that the Boers had commandeered her husband the day before, and, as he had objected, they had taken him away in handcuffs. We made Zoutpans by sundown, completely jaded and worn out. At Zoutpans are the salt-mines, now at a standstill, as the company owning them have gone into liquidation, and the only house is that in which the manager, an Englishman, lives. A pool highly impregnated with salt was the only water near at hand, and on this men and horses had to do. The salt itself from these mines is only fit for cattle, as soda predominates in it. We had marched more or less in a circle. Next day we heard that De Wet had doubled back with 200 picked men to the Free State, leaving the rest of his force to join Grobler, who was then operating north of Pretoria. We were told that General Paget was coming up with a small force along the line of rail, and Baden-Powell, who had left Commando Nek, would advance parallel with and ten miles west of Paget, and that Ian Hamilton’s Division, then about twelve miles further west, was to co-operate with these two columns and keep Grobler from breaking back if possible.

We were now in what is called the bushveldt—_i.e._, country covered with low scrubby bushes. These bushes form excellent screens for the enemy, and scouting, therefore, is ticklish work. ‘You dunno where you are,’ as they say. Water was a scarce article, too—in fact, it was about the driest country we had been in so far. Passing a place called Stinkwater, we reached Swartzkop late in the evening, and camped there for the night near a large settlement of the Barotse tribe. The Germans have a mission in these parts; their church is only a large mud hut, but the missionary in charge has a following of no fewer than 2,000. We were told that night that General Ian Hamilton was going with his Staff to Haaman’s Kraal, a railway station about fifteen miles east, coming back the same evening, and that Lumsden’s Horse were to act as his escort. This promised a nice break in the monotony of the everlasting march, march, march we had been having lately, so those of us who had fit horses were much elated, the unfortunate ones, who had not, being correspondingly downcast. As arranged, we started for Haaman’s Kraal at daybreak next day, and our advance scouts had got quite six miles out when we were ordered to turn back and return to camp. Trooper Philip Stanley writes of an incident that occurred at a farm near the German mission, and which may help to explain how some of the wonderful yarns we so often heard about De Wet’s capture commenced.


_Photo: Bourne & Shepherd_ PHILIP STANLEY ]

We were catching the fowls in the houses round the church, and one particular black-and-white cock evaded all our endeavours. So somebody called him De Wet, and presently yelled out, as the poor cock was hurt by a stick or stone, ‘_De Wet’s captured at last_.’ Curiously enough, just at that moment a mounted man, a Hussar I think, was riding close past us on the road and heard the shout ‘De Wet’s captured at last,’ and I think must have spread the report, as when we got into camp, four miles on, about an hour and a half afterwards, we were at once told De Wet was captured at last, and I think they might that evening have added, ‘and eaten.’ Fresh instructions had evidently come from headquarters, and General Ian Hamilton was not going to Haaman’s Kraal after all. When we got back to our place we found the division moving off in a northerly direction, and so, after a few minutes’ halt to water our horses, we had to follow on as quickly as possible to regain our place in the column—_i.e._, on the flank of the guns. It was a very hot and dirty march, and towards the afternoon our position was changed to rearguard, which meant that we had to wait behind till all the stragglers and the whole of the Transport got into camp. In consequence we did not get in till 8.30 that night, and even then our troubles were not ended, as several of us were immediately ordered out on outlying picket. The different corps take it in turn to do rearguard as a rule, and, needless to say, it is not a popular duty at all. Generally the rearguard gets off supplying outlying pickets, but when short-handed, or when there are more posts than usual, they too have to bear their share of the burden.

The next day’s march (August 24) brought us to Warmbaths. As its name indicates, there are natural springs here. Some of the enterprising ones of the earth, taking advantage of this, have erected long rows of bathing houses supplied with every convenience, hot and cold water taps, &c., &c., and before the war broke out I understand they were making a good thing out of it. It was a great resort for invalids, I was told, and, being on the line of rail from Pretoria, it was quite the thing to spend a few days out there and take the waters. When we came in we found the baths entirely deserted, no one being left in charge of them.

There were any number of troops in the place when we arrived, Paget’s and Baden-Powell’s lot having come in the day before. They had had several brushes with the enemy under Grobler, and had driven them on to the hills beyond the town. As can easily be imagined, there was a regular rush on the baths, each room being in most cases engaged six deep. Many of us, in consequence, had to defer tubbing till next day, which we spent resting in camp. I was one of these. Oh! I shall never forget the luxury of that bath. I think I spent a whole hour lying full length in a tub of hot water, with just my chin above the surface. When one only gets the opportunity of bathing on rare occasions it is perhaps not surprising that one should wax enthusiastic over one such as this was. That we hadn’t been used to luxuries was fully demonstrated by the number of men who were suffering with colds the next day. We started again with Ian Hamilton on the evening of the 26th, leaving Generals Paget and Baden-Powell behind to settle with Grobler and his merry band, whom, as I have written above, they had already harried considerably. Our march was in the direction of Pretoria, and everybody in the column then heard for the first time that we were merely going there to refit and get remounts, after which we should be sent out in the direction of Middelburg. Alas! for our hopes that this was to have been our last trek.

Twenty-five miles of bushveldt had to be traversed to reach the next camp, at Pienaar’s River—an eccentric stream, the meandering of which caused us considerable inconvenience in crossing and re-crossing it a dozen times during the march. We reached Pienaar’s River station that night and camped there. Starting again next day, we got to Haaman’s Kraal about midday, and halted there for two or three hours. We heard here that our mails (we hadn’t had any since leaving Pretoria at the beginning of the month, so expected a good pile) had been sent on from Pretoria to meet us, and they were a mile or two ahead. About a dozen of us were accordingly sent to get them. There were eight or ten bags for us, and we immediately ‘buckled to’ the pleasant task of sorting. It took us a good two hours’ hard work, and this will give some idea of the number of letters and parcels received.

Continuing our march, we reached Waterval station late in the afternoon and halted for the night. This, it will be remembered, was where the Boers kept our men whom they had taken prisoners, after they removed them from the racecourse at Pretoria. They were confined in long tin sheds placed in the middle of a large barbed wire enclosure, and this was lighted up by electric light all night, thus reducing the chances of escape to a minimum.

We marched at 4.30 next morning and at 10 o’clock arrived in Pretoria, where we camped on the racecourse. Shortly afterwards we were joined by Captain Clifford and the men (about twenty) who had been left behind at Irene owing to their having no horses, and also by several others who had been in hospital and were now convalescent. Among the latter was Regimental Sergeant-Major ‘Lump’ Marsham, who was looking remarkably well after all he had gone through. He had had some remarkable experiences; shot in two places (through the chest and right thigh), besides having a bullet through his haversack in our first fight at Houtnek, then being taken prisoner at Rhenoster River station, where he was on his way up to rejoin the regiment after leaving hospital, then having the pleasure of being present at the surrender of Prinsloo and three or four thousand of his men, and forming one of the guard which escorted them afterwards. We were all greatly pleased to have him back among us again.

We had had a trying time of it, and Veterinary-Captain Stevenson cast our horses wholesale, nearly two-thirds being cast in all. The men seem made of sterner stuff, and campaigning has only tended to make the majority fitter than ever, and only a very few are ill—a matter of the survival of the fittest. We have been working in co-operation with Baden-Powell’s brigade a good deal, and our desire to hear about him and to see him has been surfeited. The only hardship experienced on the march was want of good tobacco. Though the Magaliesberg tobacco is considered the best of Transvaal tobacco, and we could have obtained plenty of it, yet few among us have acquired a taste for it. It is positively vile, and an Indian cigar when smoked in a pipe is probably the nearest approach to it. Some more changes have taken place among us. Trooper Arathoon (Oudh Light Horse) has been granted a commission in the 3rd Dragoon Guards, Corporal Montagu-Bates one in the East Surrey Regiment, Trooper Partridge one in the Northumberland Fusiliers, and Trooper Douglas-Jones one in the Army Service Corps. Corporal Chartres has for some months been doing duty as Surgeon-Captain at one of our many hospitals. Trooper Follett died of enteric at Johannesburg, while quite twenty or twenty-five men have been invalided home. There is little doubt that a famine in the Transvaal will result from this war; foodstuffs are at a premium, while the expected crops have been all destroyed. In the large towns like Pretoria, Johannesburg, &c., bread is only baked from flour supplied by Government, and even then the prevailing price is a shilling for a pound loaf. Every-day necessities, such as tea, coffee, and sugar, are now hard to procure, while beet has risen to two shillings a pound; mealies (Indian-corn) for horses cannot be bought under threepence the pound. The beginning of a famine would thus be the precursor of the end of the war. Glancing at a map, one would be inclined to think places indicated in capitals and small capitals to be important towns; as a matter of fact each is but a cluster of houses, a store or two, the inevitable church, and an hotel. This is typical of places like Rustenburg, Heilbron, Middelburg, Carolina, &c. Kroonstad, Brandfort and Pretoria are but larger clusters, more hotels, and more churches. The latter certainly possess some really excellent public buildings; the private villas are charming, and suggest the _otium cum dignitate_, while the State artillery barracks are reputed to be the finest in the world. Johannesburg is the one town of the Transvaal, and can hold its own against the world. But it must not be forgotten that the Uitlander alone has made it what it is. As a sink of iniquity it has the unenviable distinction of ranking second only to San Francisco. Gambling saloons abut on to the streets, and at some gambling is restricted to gold alone. One can imagine what Johannesburg must have been under a corrupt Government, such as the one we have just displaced—the Rand, a succession of gold-mines, being practically suburban. Johannesburg sports a public-house at every fifty yards, and it is the refuse of the Rand that forms the nucleus of the band of outlaws and desperadoes known as the Irish Brigade _alias_ Blake’s Ruffians. The very antithesis of this contingent are known as the Imperial Light Horse, who have been so highly complimented by Sir George White as constituting the finest fighting men in the world.

Very characteristic of the dashing and humorous leader under whom Lumsden’s Horse served in this march is the following story told by Captain Beresford:

I remember one very wet cold day when we were attached to Mahon’s column. While on the march a sergeant and two men were told off to go and forage for some provisions. Coming across a Boer farm, they helped themselves to a turkey or two and some poultry. Now, it happened that General Ian Hamilton the day previous had paid for what his men took, so the Boer was loud in his protestation, but all the satisfaction he could get from our men was, ‘The General will pay.’ General Mahon passing shortly after, the man presented his bill, which amounted to fifteen shillings. On seeing it the General made inquiries as to which corps the foraging party belonged to, and being told, sent for an officer of the corps and requested _him_ to pay the bill; but as the officer had not fifteen shillings about him, the General very kindly lent him the money till he could obtain it from his brother-officers and men, who found out then that the General would not be universal provider.


Footnote 13:

Lord Kitchener’s force went to relieve Colonel Hore at Eland’s River.—ED.



After such a march, in which horses had become so emaciated by want of sufficient food to sustain them, and so leg-weary from incessant work under heavy burdens, that more than two-thirds of them were temporarily unfit for service, the corps naturally expected to get a long rest at Pretoria. Nearly every man needed it too, and welcomed the prospect of a little town life in touch with civilisation, where some luxuries might be enjoyed and experiences exchanged with comrades from other columns. Ragged and out at heels from being having marched long distances through tangled growth of rhenoster bushes and ‘wait-a-bit’ thorns to relieve their exhausted steeds, these troopers naturally looked forward to the chance of clothing themselves in comfort if the stores of Pretoria should be equal to that demand, or at any rate of waiting until articles of much-needed kit could be got up from the bases where these things had been left. Such expectations were natural enough in the case of men who began to think there would be no more need of their services, since Lord Roberts had expressed an opinion that regular warfare was nearly at an end. Circumstances seemed then to justify that view. Though De Wet was still at large, he did not count for much while his followers were scattered in all directions with little chance of coming together again. Botha’s forces, offering but a feeble resistance at any point, had been pushed further and further eastward by Generals French and Pole-Carew, operating in their front, and the army of Natal on their flank. Buller had fought his brilliant action at Bergendal, where Lord Roberts considered the success decisive, saying: ‘It was carried out in view of the main Boer position, and the effect of it was such that the enemy gave way at all points, flying in confusion to the north and east. Next morning Buller was able to occupy Machadodorp without opposition.’ Dundonald’s brigade of Irregular Cavalry had pushed on in pursuit of the Boers through mountainous country, where they made no stand against him. Buller, continuing his march, occupied Waterval Boven, where the prisoners released from Nooitgedacht joined him. President Kruger and other members of the late Transvaal Government were at Nelspruit preparing for flight across the Portuguese frontier; and General French was at Carolina, waiting only for reinforcements to make his swoop on Barberton by way of the last stronghold that remained in the enemy’s hands south of the Delagoa Bay Railway. It looked, indeed, as if Boer resistance on any organised scale must be near its final stage, and the thoughts of Lumsden’s Horse naturally turned towards home rather than to opportunities for gaining fresh distinction. Their hopes of immediate peace with honour were, however, doomed to disappointment. Before they had been in Pretoria many hours orders for a fresh move had reached them, and, instead of having leisure for relaxation or even a taste of civilisation’s comforts, they had to spend the next day in drawing from stores the outfit of which they were sorely in need and making other preparations for their march. Their Brigadier-General (Mahon) was to go in command of reinforcements for General French, and the troops placed at his disposal were M Battery Royal Horse Artillery, the 3rd Corps of Mounted Infantry, Queensland Mounted Infantry, New Zealand Mounted Rifles, 79th Company Imperial Yeomanry, the Imperial Light Horse, and Lumsden’s Horse. The order came to them in a form which left no doubt in any mind that there was still a man’s work to be done, and that they were about to take part in another important phase of the great Boer war. Therefore they put aside all vain regrets for the things that were just then out of reach. Disappointment gave place quickly to gratification at the thought that they were to see service under such a dashing leader as General French, who had never up to that time met the Boers without bringing them to action, and whose reputation rose higher after every enterprise undertaken by him, though he was not always allowed to take full advantage of a success by following up his beaten enemies. The Boers, who attributed every British success in the Free State and Transvaal to luck or to overwhelming numbers, had given to French the title of the ‘lucky General.’ They said it was by luck alone that he beat Commandant Koch at Elandslaagte before their reinforcements could come up. Luck, according to them, served him again in the hour of his secret withdrawal from Colesberg just before De la Rey’s plans for annihilation were complete, and yet again when he made his dash at interposing forces north of Modder River, and, striking at the very point where they were weakest, got through just in the nick of time, took their positions in reverse, and thus cleared a way for the relief of Kimberley. If all this can be called luck, then it is something to be a lucky general and goes a long way in justification of the faith that Napoleon placed in men who had that reputation. At any rate, no Boer commandos were very eager to get in the way of ‘lucky French,’ and whenever he was known to be operating on their flank they always thought it time to summon thither one of their own Generals most trusted for his ability to conduct a retreat. That luck fell more than once to De la Rey’s lot. In a recent conversation that redoubtable leader, the best fighting man of all on the Boer side, told the Editor of this History that it was he who opposed French at Driefontein after Cronjé’s surrender. He also had to fight all the rearguard actions up to the time of our crossing the Vaal, when he went off in hot haste for the purpose of intercepting Mahon’s column before it could reach Mafeking. Having been out-manœuvred there, he was called back to aid Botha outside Johannesburg, and entrusted again with the task of delaying French’s flanking movement by the defence of Klipriviersberg until the Boer guns and convoys could make good their retreat. Obviously they did not think it safe to trust anything to chance when our ‘lucky General’ was pressing them, but sent their wiliest tactician and most stubborn fighter to hold him in play while they cleared off. If any of them really believed in their capacity to beat French on equal terms—the advantage of ground being with them to counterbalance British superiority in numbers—an admirable opportunity offered in the mountainous ranges of the Devil’s Kantoor, where, Boer leaders had frequently declared, they would crush any force attempting to reach Barberton that way. If properly held, the positions there would have been almost impregnable. Few people to this day know the difficulties that French had before him when he concentrated his force at Carolina. The Boers knew all about these things. Every zig-zag track like a winding stair up the precipitous mountain-side was familiar to them. They knew also the object with which he was waiting to gather strength at Carolina, and they brought forces against him that were little inferior numerically to his own. Yet when at last he struck straight for almost inaccessible mountain passes, instead of making a wide detour to get round them, they were so paralysed by the ‘lucky General’s’ audacity that they let him have his way, which led by the nearest track to Barberton. This slight digression, however, anticipates events which may now be dealt with more fully in the narratives by Colonel Lumsden, his officers and troopers, whose experiences and observations are woven together in the following description of events in something like proper sequence:

We were by this time reduced to forty fit horses.

Our stay in Pretoria, as we had heard it would be, was only a short one. The day after arriving in camp we were served out with new kit, of which we were sadly in need, most of the men being in a very ragged condition indeed. General Mahon was to proceed to Carolina and join General French’s division there, leaving General Ian Hamilton’s division, to which we were no longer attached. It rained heavily the night before we started, and as we marched at daybreak there was no time to dry our blankets, which were simply sopping wet.

Our total muster on parade was—A Company 17, B Company 24; in all, 41 rank-and-file. The balance of nearly 100 men, under Captain Beresford, were to follow on receipt of remounts, and overtake us if possible. This hope was soon knocked on the head, for while headquarters started with General Mahon for Barberton, the remainder were sent to Machadodorp, which they reached without much adventure a fortnight later. Notwithstanding their repeated attempts to join us, their wishes were not acceded to, the country being considered too dangerous for a small party to move alone. On the 31st we reached Bronkhurst Spruit, memorable in the Transvaal as the spot where British troops, under Colonel Anstruther, were badly cut up in the last war, while marching, all unconscious that war had been declared against the Transvaal. On September 1 we passed Balmoral and camped at Elandsfontein. On the 2nd, near the Transvaal and Delagoa Bay coal-mines, a French gentleman was good enough to communicate the latest Boer lie. It was that China was sending a million of troops to invade England. The country about here is very treacherous, with many swamps which unwary troopers may not see until they are floundering in mire, where their horses sink to the girths. Our camp that night was at Reitspruit, six miles from Middelburg.

The next day we passed Middelburg, which proved a grievous disappointment, for there was absolutely nothing in the way of provisions procurable, and camped at Reitpan. The weather was very hot, the sun striking down with great force during the middle of the day. General Mahon had adopted the plan of off-saddling and halting for two or three hours during the heat of the day, instead of marching steadily from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. with short halts of ten minutes every now and then. This gave man and beast a thorough rest, and the opportunity was always taken of making tea and coffee, and partaking of this with the inevitable jam and biscuits. The horses, too, had a good feed of oats, which were served out in the morning and carried in our nosebags. Captain Noblett got a nasty touch of the sun two or three days before arriving at Middelburg, and the doctors decided that he ought to go into hospital there, being quite unfit to continue on the march. We were very sorry to lose him, as he was one of our most popular officers. Speaking for No. 2 Section B Company, anyhow, I know they swore by him to a man. We heard afterwards that he had gone to Durban for a change, and it is to be hoped he will soon be back again with us. The fourth day’s march brought us in contact with General Hutton’s line of communications, and we were apprised of the annexation of the Transvaal. With this good news we buoyed ourselves up, and brought a dreary march to a close at Wonderfontein. The Boers are whimsical at names, but have surpassed themselves with Wonderfontein, for the wonder of it is where to find the fountain? Speculation was rife, as the pools of water we saw were so putrid that the horses, though they had done thirteen miles from the last halting-place, would not drink till accident disclosed a tiny spring in a bed of sand, just deep enough to fill a coffee cup at a time. Here was the wonder, and, _eureka_! we had struck it. The 5th was an eventful day, for when we had marched eastward three miles a heliogram from a contingent of 90 Canadians on the line of communications solicited help, as they were hard pressed by 300 Boers near Pan station, where they had been fighting since daybreak. Files about and canter was the order, and we went back some six miles to their aid, but the enemy had beaten a retreat after capturing a small post, where they crept up through a dense fog and surprised the helpless picket. We returned to Wonderfontein, and General Mahon, in consideration of the call made on us, very generously ordered an issue of a quarter of a pound of bully-beef and a biscuit. ’Twas lunch _à la South Africa_, and much appreciated. Thus refreshed we continued on our march for some five or six miles, and camped for the night. Such a night we have never had. The wind blew a perfect hurricane, and it was bitterly cold. On the 6th the brigade reached Carolina, and we were in expectation of seeing a town where we could renew our diminished stock of provisions, but, alas! Carolina in Africa is very different from the Carolina of the song—

South Carolina is a sultry clime, Where the niggers work in the summer time, Massa in the shade would lay, While we poor niggers work all day.

With us it was not summer time, but Massa had to lie on the bleak veldt and pretty hungry too. We found General French in camp near by us, with two brigades. A foreign commando of Austrians and Italians was said to be in the neighbourhood, and we hoped to become better acquainted with it later on.

Carolina is a small uninteresting sort of place, more a village than anything else, the houses being small and built of corrugated iron. It is about the windiest place I have ever been in. We were there nearly a week, and it blew a hurricane almost all the time. One day it rained as well, and this made it horribly cold—the chilly blast cutting into one like a knife. Even the hardy Cape ponies, who had never before in their lives known what it was to be blanketed, had to be covered up that day.

Another of the charms of this delightful place is that it is most dangerous to send horses out grazing on the surrounding veldt, as there is a low poisonous bush which grows pretty plentifully on it, to eat which is almost certain death. We found this out by bitter experience, losing four or five horses before we left.

The first march from Carolina took us over a ridge by Nelspruit, where we witnessed a very pretty engagement. The enemy had taken up a position on top of a hill crossed by three deep ravines at right angles to our line of advance. This was stormed by the Suffolk Infantry while we acted as escort to the guns, which shelled the enemy severely as they left the shelter of the last ridge. When turned out of their last stronghold they retired by ones and twos under severe shrapnel fire at 1,500 yards’ range, which gave us an object-lesson in Mounted Infantry tactics. At Carolina, with General French and his Cavalry, we halted two days, and resumed our advance on Sunday the 9th. We had heard that the Boers were in the vicinity, and it was not long before we met them. For about six miles we marched across the absolutely flat veldt, and then with extraordinary suddenness the scene changed, and we found ourselves among steep and rugged hills. Here was ideal country for the Boers to fight in, and they speedily let us know of their presence. They had taken up a strong position among rocks and piled-up boulders on the further side of a hollow some 3,000 yards across. ‘Lumsden’s,’ together with a part of a squadron of the 18th Hussars who, like ourselves, had been unable to get remounts in Pretoria, so that their numbers were reduced about 60 per cent., were escorting the guns. M Battery R.H.A. swung ‘action front’ and had opened fire in next to no time, the whole battery and also two 15-pounders being placed in line along the ridge and all pounding away at the rocky kopje, or rather series of kopjes, from which the Boers were firing at our Infantry (the Suffolk Regiment), who now opened out, and, advancing to within good rifle range, took what cover they could find and engaged the enemy. It was a grand sight watching the play of the guns, and cheer after cheer rang through the lines as each shot fell in rapid succession right in among the Boers, scattering them like startled sheep. The guns did splendid work; the range was accurate, and the shells perfect. But a grander sight still was to watch Tommy advancing: he does it in a most casual way, with his rifle slung at ease over his shoulder. You see individuals in khaki stumbling over rocks and boulders, then a thin line of khaki in the distance, then nothing, for Tommy is resting; the thin khaki line again becomes visible as he proceeds in the coolest manner in the world, till the order to fire is given. Nothing is then visible, but the sounds of volley after volley and independent firing tell you the Infantry are in the thick of a fight. As the Mounted Infantry advance through the gaps in their lines, Tommy cheerily calls out, ‘Let ’em have it ’ot, mate.’ Having placed our horses in a nullah out of the way of stray bullets—one or two of which came whistling overhead—we had nothing to do but watch the progress of the fight, and a capital view we had, especially of our artillery in action; the enemy had no guns in position here, so our guns could devote themselves to shelling the rocks among which the Boers were lying; the boulders afforded them excellent cover, and they stuck to it exceedingly well. The weak point in their position lay in the fact that the cover of which they had taken advantage was half-way down the near side of the slope, so in the event of their being forced to retire they would have to ride (or run) up three or four hundred yards of bare hillside before they topped the ridge. For about five hours the fight continued. By this time our Infantry had got comparatively close, and the Boers decided not to wait for them. Suddenly they were seen issuing from the dip where their horses had been hidden in twos and threes and batches of various sizes, and scattering up the hillside. With the naked eye one could see little black dots streaming away in all directions; it looked for all the world like a disturbed ants’ nest. The guns now redoubled their exertions, loading and firing all they knew, the shells dropping in every direction among the retreating Boers. In retiring they had to go down to the bottom of the dip, where they had left their horses, and up the slope on the other side—a distance of about 300 yards, I should say. When once they got to the top of this slope they were more or less safe, as they could take cover among the rocks there and get away to the hilly country beyond. But while going up the slope they were quite exposed to the fire from our batteries. General Mahon was there in person, giving instructions to the officer in charge of the guns, which were kept playing on the spot as fast as the gunners could load and fire. Watching through glasses we could see three or four bowled over; they must have had an uncomfortable ride until they topped the ridge, though probably not many were hit, as we know from our own experience how ineffective even a well-directed shell fire often is. However, on crossing over we found where one dead Boer had been hastily buried, also a dead horse and other signs that our shell fire had not been without results. A long-range 15-pounder of the Boers now came into action, and for about an hour before sundown shelled our convoy at extreme range without doing any damage. Throughout the day the Cavalry had been engaged on our right and had suffered some casualties. Our brigade had had half-a-dozen or so; one of the Imperial Yeomanry was killed and two were wounded, and three of the Imperial Light Horse were wounded.

In the afternoon we advanced and occupied the position previously held by the Boers, who had retreated some distance. They had a long-range 15-pounder with them, and they treated us to a few shells; but these went high over our heads, and burst a long way behind without doing any damage. Shortly after this, as it was getting dark, we camped for the night. As we were preparing to camp the Boers shelled our convoy with a Long Tom they still possess, but their shells fell wide and were harmless. We camped for the night at Buffalo Spruit. The casualties were nine wounded Scots Greys, one wounded Imperial Horse; Boers about fifteen killed, wounded unknown. The 10th was an uneventful day, but on the 11th Lumsden’s Horse supplied an outlying picket consisting of our entire strength. Through some error the picket manned the wrong kopje, and as they could not be found next morning were reported as captured. We turned up, however, late in the day at the camp on the Komati River, and followed rapidly in the track of the advancing troops. We were now on half-rations, with De Kaap Mountains looming before us, the roadway being in places as steep as one in eight, and the enemy strongly posted along the summit. On the 12th the advance was made at 5.30 A.M., and by 9 A.M. M Battery was again pounding away.

[Illustration: T. HARE SCOTT]

[Illustration: H.G. PHILLIPS]

[Illustration: R.P. ESTABROOKE]

[Illustration: J. BRAINE]

[Illustration: R. PRINGLE]

[Illustration: W. BURNAND]


The road to Barberton slopes gradually up from the plains round Carolina for about 3,000 feet, if I remember right, when it takes a sudden upward turn for about a couple of miles before reaching the top of De Kaap Mountains, over which it winds, and then descends again about 2,000 to 3,000 feet, the town being situated in a hollow surrounded by hills on all sides. The last bit of a couple of miles or so is what is called the Devil’s Kantoor. The gradient is about one in four, as far as I could judge, and this will give some idea of the job our Generals had to tackle if the Boers elected to hold this place, as it was reported they were going to do. It was simply an ideal place to defend, and they were said to have a Long Tom in position—so things generally looked uncomfortable, to say the least of it. Scouting that day looked like being an even poorer game than usual. Anything but a demoralised force would have made a strong stand in such a position. The main advance was against its front, while the Cavalry executed a turning movement to the right, with such effect that the position was gained almost without a shot. The climb was terrific. So bad was it that 12-pounders only just managed to get up with double teams, and all the baggage had to be left at the foot of the hill. The troops, however, pushed on to the top, only to witness a heart-rending sight. On the range opposite, at about 8,000 yards, was a high laager half a mile square, a dense mass of cattle and waggons, out of which the latter were seen streaming away towards Swaziland. Between us and them lay a deep valley, while the road curving round to the left was commanded by three guns, rendering serious attack in that direction inadvisable. The Imperial Light Horse made a gallant attempt to get round, but were not strong enough. We all looked to see the 6-inch gun come up and play havoc with the laager, but the naval officer in command declared his oxen unable to bring the gun up the precipitous ascent, leaving us the mortification of seeing the enemy escape under our very eyes. It was some gratification, however, to eventually capture twenty-five of their ‘buck waggons,’ many thousand sheep, and some oxen.

By the time we had dragged up our guns and got them into position the fugitives were out of range, as a few shells sent in their direction proved; but the captured waggons contained stores of various kinds, sugar, flour, &c., and this made a welcome addition to our commissariat, which was running very short of supplies. It took four days to get the whole of the Transport up the Devil’s Kantoor. During this time the bulk of the division halted, as they could not move without supplies.

To form some estimate of the difficulties of transport up these mountains, I would mention that the Boers were confident that we could never get our convoy and guns up, for among them the steepest part is described as a place where, if a leading team of oxen come to a stop they are hurled back on to the waggon. To clear these mountains in four days reflects the greatest credit on that much-abused department, the Transport. Sergeant Power, of Lumsden’s Horse, excelled on the occasion, for, fearing he could not possibly get the troopers’ blanket-carts up that night, he unloaded the carts and used the mules with pack saddles, thus enabling Lumsden’s Horse to sleep with blankets when the rest of the brigade were blanketless, poor fellows! In such circumstances it needs no telling that we went to sleep supperless, as our rations were at the foot of the mountain and the troops on its summit. Directly the road was clear General French with two Cavalry brigades advanced rapidly, and, leaving the Boers, who were retreating southwards, alone, he pushed on to Barberton, some fifteen miles distant. Guided by one of the Imperial Light Horsemen, he avoided the road down into the plain in which Barberton is situated (which road—so it is said—the enemy were quite prepared to defend), and using a bridle-path across the hills, supposed to be impracticable for horses, he descended suddenly on the town and captured it without opposition. The enemy were completely surprised and fled, leaving fifty-seven engines with rolling-stock standing in the station, a large quantity of stores, and 10,000_l._ in specie. The day following General French’s occupation of the town a Boer convoy consisting of fifty waggons walked in under the impression that it was still in their hands! General Mahon’s brigade, with the Infantry, were left to guard Homolomo while the convoy came up. The gradient was something like one in four, so you can imagine what a business it was getting the heavy waggons up. Twelve and fourteen horses were required to get the lighter guns up, while the naval gun had eighty oxen harnessed to it, and many a poor beast fell out and died under the strain. On the third day we continued our march; all day we were descending, gradually leaving the hills behind, until we eventually came out into an enormous plain, the Kaap Valley. Here we halted and waited for the Transport, who had had another trying day. We had descended 3,000 feet during the day, and the difference in temperature was most noticeable. In this part of the country the hot weather is just beginning; the nights are quite mild and the sun at midday is scorching. On Sunday the 16th we marched to within a couple of miles of the town and camped. It is a straggling little place built close under and partly on the lower slopes of a spur of the Kaapsche Berg. This is a well watered part of the country, and fruit growing appears to be a paying industry, Pretoria and Johannesburg being markets where—in normal times—any quantity of fruit is easily disposed of. On the fruit farms here we noticed several old Indian friends—viz., plantains, pineapples, and papiya. When we got into Barberton we found that General French had gone on towards Komati Poort, on the Portuguese border, in which direction the Boers had fled, and we heard shortly afterwards that about 3,000 of them had taken refuge in Lourenço Marques, having given up their arms and destroyed a number of their big guns before crossing the border.

[Illustration: L. DAVIS]

[Illustration: LEO H. BRADFORD]

[Illustration: C.W. LOVEGROVE]

[Illustration: S.W. CULLEN]

[Illustration: F.C. MANVILLE]

[Illustration: F.C. THOMPSON]


Barberton is quite an Indian town in many respects. Not only is the Madrassi native common, but mango, banana, loquat, fig, and other Indian fruit trees abound. East Africa seems to my mind to be the Indian coolie’s Eldorado, for not only does he wax fat and opulent, but he abandons his Indian garb and struts about in that of Western civilisation. He does not get on well with the Kaffir, but has pushed himself forward, and now occupies a higher position among white men than he would presume to in India.

In all other respects, however, Barberton is a very English town, and owes its origin to the De Kaap Goldfields. It was here that the Boers housed the women and children who were sent to them from Johannesburg and Pretoria, and in consequence every house in the town is packed full of these refugees. It was also at Barberton that the Dorset Yeomanry and the remaining British prisoners were confined after their removal from Nooitgedacht; at present the improvised place of confinement is being used as a prison for the Boers themselves. The latest official bulletin announces the complete demoralisation of the Boer army, which is termed a rabble, and speculation is rife as to the probable date of our disbandment. Last night (22nd) it was announced in orders that anyone desirous of joining the Pretoria Police at 10_s._ a day could do so at once; the chances of a commission at the end of three months were held out, but only four names were given in. The majority intend going to England. A very few have decided to remain in Africa, while some twenty or thirty, chiefly coffee planters from Southern India, are returning to India. The summer is on us, and the days are very hot—102° in the shade. We have no tents, but the ingenious ones erect a bivouac of blankets supported on posts and rifles as a shelter from the sun. Yesterday a cricket match was played between French’s and Mahon’s brigades, resulting in an easy win for the latter. Sergeant Pratt represented Lumsden’s Horse in Mahon’s team.

Another correspondent writes:

Besides the usual camp duties, we had to supply outlying pickets and patrols turn about with the other Volunteers and Regular regiments. Twenty or thirty of us used to be sent out to a post five or six miles out in the morning. From these posts we sent out patrols, forage parties, &c., during the day, and outlying pickets at night. One of these posts was situated right on the top of one of the hills beyond the town. It was a tremendous climb, and took most of us at least an hour to get to it. Lugging blankets, coats, and rations up there was no joke, and I am glad to say we only had to do it once during our stay.

There was a beautiful wood, with a nice mountain stream running through it, about a mile and a half from camp, where we used to send our horses down to graze and water, and we always took the opportunity of having a delightful bathe or of washing clothes, at which we were by this time becoming experts. A daily bath was a luxury we had not been accustomed to before for months, so we appreciated it accordingly. After our bath we lounged under the shade of the trees till it was time to take the horses back to camp again. Grazing guard in these circumstances was rather a favourite duty, as up in camp it was fearfully hot, our only protection from the sun being small blanket shelter tents, which were not really much good. These tents were made out of two blankets, or a blanket and a waterproof sheet. The blankets and waterproof sheets served out to the Army have eyelet-holes on both sides and at the ends, so one can put up a tent very easily and quickly, all the materials required being a few pegs (easily cut from an old biscuit-box or from any other wood which may be obtainable), a little string, and a couple of rifles, these last forming the supports at either end.

Owing to the great heat, we move the position of our camps once a week. What with dead horses and cattle the air is absolutely putrid, and ’tis a precaution most imperative. On the march the foul smells encountered are terrible, owing to the number of dead horses and cattle lying on the highway. From Pretoria to Balmoral we passed as many as two or three hundred carcases in different stages of decomposition. The very water is often polluted, and considerable inconvenience is the consequence. In a previous letter I incidentally mentioned veldt fires, but at the Crocodile River camp it was our luck to be in the thick of one, and that at midnight. We had made the camp at sundown, and as darkness set in we were enraptured with the pyrotechnic display of the surrounding kopjes on fire. It was a magnificent sight, though awful. By 10 P.M. the camp was hushed in slumber except for stable pickets, when the wind shifted and blew the flames towards the camp. Gradually the veldt near us took fire, till at midnight we were completely surrounded. The roar was appalling, while myriads of insects filled the air. The situation was one needing immediate action, as every moment was precious. ‘Stand to your horses and saddle up,’ were the orders anxiously given. All was confusion—men hurriedly folding up blankets, &c., Kaffir boys running about conducting oxen to inspan, bodies of men running towards the fast approaching flames carrying blankets to beat them down. In the midst of all a patrol of the 18th Hussars were seen completely cut off from the camp and surrounded with flaming veldt. A rush was made, and hundreds of blankets soon cleared a space, and the patrol emerged, the horses showing every sign of terror. It was an anxious time, but in half an hour all was safe, and the flames had been successfully diverted from their course of destruction. Such a fire in the back veldt it would have been impossible to cope with. On the western veldt these fires destroy complete herds of cattle annually, and are much dreaded.


THE LAUNDRY (_From a sketch by J.S. Cowen_) ]

One day at Barberton four of us were on observation post when four Boers came along the road; they were immediately challenged and told to show their passes, which they did; they then sat down to rest alongside us. One of them, named Meyers, could talk English perfectly, and when he found we were of Lumsden’s Horse he said he had escorted one of our fellows from Ospruit to Pretoria a prisoner, and shared two bottles of whisky. He then told us the Boers knew exactly, when we were at Spytfontein, how many men went on picket every night, and how many we were all told. He also said on April 30 the brigade adjutant rode up within twenty yards of him. He shouted to Williams to surrender, and he shouted back, ‘I am damned if I do,’ and galloped off; Meyers fired all his magazine at the English officer, but missed him. Lieutenant Williams has since been killed at Bothaville.

Barberton was simply crammed with stores of all sorts, the Boers having used it as a supply depôt for some time past. It was a great treat being able to get luxuries in the shape of extra sugar, tea, coffee, sweets, &c., again after such an age, and at reasonable rates too. Pretoria was entirely denuded of these things, and I remember hunting without success round the whole town for sugar the day before we left on our last march. Matches were not to be had there at any price, whereas here we could buy them at sixpence a dozen boxes. I think we appreciated these more than anything else. We had felt the want of them tremendously during the past two or three months. English tobacco, unfortunately, was unobtainable, so we had to content ourselves with the Boer variety—a very poor substitute, I think most of us agreed, though I dare say when one got accustomed to it one would prefer it. Personally I never want to see or smell the beastly stuff again.

Barberton itself is a small gold-mining town situated at the bottom of De Kaap Mountains, and more or less surrounded by hills. On the hills forming its background are the various mines which were opened out when gold was first discovered here. Then came the rush of the Rand mines, and Barberton was left standing. The roads leading to these mines wind up and round the hillsides, and must have taken months and months of hard work to complete, I should think. The houses are built of wood and roofed with corrugated iron for the most part, and are very small. One wonders how people manage to exist in them in the summer months, when the temperature is almost if not quite as high as it is in India, and damp to boot.

It was getting very hot before we left early in October, and the old familiar limp feeling which began to pervade all ranks brought back memories of hot weather in India. Barberton is essentially a British town, and until lately, when the Boers used it as a city of refuge for their wives and families, the inhabitants were practically all British by blood if not by birth. The community must have been a fairly rough one in the old days, and one can imagine many wild orgies taking place among the miners, more or less cut off, as they were, from civilisation. Fruits of all sorts grow here, Indian as well as English—plantains, gooseberries, oranges, lemons, strawberries—and vegetables too. Beautiful oat-hay for our horses was obtainable in the fields for the first week or so that we were in Barberton.

You will be sorry to hear of the death from enteric fever at Johannesburg Hospital of Private M. Follett, the elder of the two brothers—planters—who joined with the Mysore contingent. Since then, I regret to say, we have had another death from disease—that of Private J.H. Maclaine (Surma Valley Light Horse), who died of acute pneumonia in Pretoria Hospital. Transport Driver Martyn some months ago was run over and badly injured. We are sorry to hear that he has since died of the injuries he then received. One way and another a good many have left the regiment. A certain number of those left behind, sick and wounded, have been unable to rejoin the regiment and have been invalided home, among them Privates Cooper and Butler, from Madras, both of whom were taken ill at Kroonstad, the former suffering from pneumonia and the latter from pleurisy; also Private Bewsher, from Mysore, who was wounded in the knee at Elandsfontein station two days before the surrender of Johannesburg.

Our ten days at Barberton gave a welcome rest after many weary marches. The time was enlivened with dances and hunting with buckhounds for the officers and cricket for whoever could be spared. It was here that Colonel Lumsden had his unfortunate accident. He was riding back in the dark from afternoon tea at a neighbouring camp, and, being deceived by the light of a picket fire, rode straight into a nullah. The picket, luckily for him, heard the noise of the fall, and by the light of a candle went in search, finding horse and man prostrate. The horse was dead and Colonel Lumsden insensible. The good fellows, however, did their best, and, taking him up to the fire, discovered by his badges that he belonged to Lumsden’s Horse. One of them came into our camp to report, bringing us the information about 11 P.M. The doctor and ambulance immediately proceeded to the scene of the accident, and, patching him up temporarily, took him away to the Boer hospital in Barberton. By the light of day it appeared wonderful that anyone could have escaped death from such an accident. The nullah may almost be described as a fissure in the ground some 15 feet wide and 29½(measured) deep. The only thing that saved our Colonel’s life was that the horse evidently alighted on his feet, taking the brunt of the fall himself and paying the penalty with his life; this was shown by the fact that the saddle was not injured in any way.

Colonel Lumsden writes of this incident in a letter from Barberton Hospital dated October 1, 1900:

Well, eight days ago I visited town, and was riding back to my camp at dusk when my charger, a splendid paced and mannered Cape horse, simply cantered right into a donga 30 feet deep, breaking his neck in the fall, while I lay by his side bruised and insensible.

Luckily for me, some pickets were close by and heard the smash. Recognising me by my badge, they went to my camp and brought our doctor and adjutant to the spot. They took me to our camp for treatment, and in a few hours’ time our doctor, with the assistance of troopers who volunteered to carry the stretcher, conveyed me into the Barberton Club, the temporary Boer hospital, ours being both full up. The Boer doctor and nurses have been kindness itself to me, and have done everything in their power to make me comfortable. How I escaped with my life my usual good luck only knows. I was bashed, cut, and bruised, but not a limb or a bone broken. Four days ago I nearly snuffed out from a flow of blood from my nose and mouth, but fortunately it was stopped in time, and I really believe did me good, as I had too much blood in my system. Now, more than enough about myself. I am on the right track, and hope to be with my men in a few days more. I follow on with the hospital train the day after to-morrow, and pick them up at Machadodorp, for which place they leave to-day. There we pick up Captain Beresford with 100 of my men. They stayed at Pretoria a day beyond us to get remounts, came on with my friend General Cunningham’s Infantry Division, and were never able to rejoin us, we being in advance with General Mahon’s Mounted Brigade.

Months afterwards, Colonel Lumsden, by the following tribute, showed that he had not forgotten those who had tended him with so much care:

To incidents which I have already related of kindly treatment at the hands of Boer doctors and nurses I may add another of which I was on this occasion the recipient. I awoke the morning after my serious accident feeling very stiff and sore, and found myself lying in the general ward amid wounded Tommies and Boers. I must have been insensible for nearly twelve hours. Next day Dr. Powell, our regimental doctor, wished to remove me to one of our own hospitals, but Dr. Bidenhamp, the Boer doctor, offered to give me a small room to myself if I remained, which I gratefully accepted, and could not have wished for better care or attention than I received at his hands and those of his assistant, Mr. E.E. Haumann. I have also to thank very gratefully Sister Alma Meyer, of Grosvenor House, Stellenbosch, for the kindly treatment she accorded me, as well as two Dutch sisters from Holland who were assisting her in the hospital and acting nobly to Briton and Boer alike; and I take this opportunity of acknowledging with sincere thanks their careful treatment and kindness to me during the ten days I was their patient.

Ruling passions are strong even when one is at death’s door, and I cannot help recalling a sporting bet I had with my kind friend Sister Alma. It took the usual shape of a bet with a woman—gloves—and I laid her a dozen pairs to nothing that the war would be over by Christmas, which not only I but many high in authority fully believed it would. We were passing Durban on our way back to India during the second week in December, and, taking the then situation, I looked upon my bet as lost and bailed up. One of my subalterns, who was landing there to return to the seat of war, kindly carried out my commission, and forwarded the gloves to the winner, from whom I received a prompt acknowledgment, with the usual remark that women are always right, and I believe they are! At least, I never attempt to contradict them, and yet I am a bachelor.

Colonel Lumsden being in hospital, and debarred, therefore, to his regret, from leading the corps in a march for which it had already been detailed, Major Chamney took temporary command, and a few days later received orders to hand over horses and proceed by train to rejoin the other detachment under Captain Beresford at Machadodorp. This uneventful stage of the campaign is thus described by the correspondent of an Indian paper serving with Lumsden’s Horse:

Prior to this the Imperial Light Horse had left Mahon’s brigade, and we heard that they too expected to be disbanded shortly. General Mahon made them a speech before they left, praising them highly for the good work they had done while with him, and saying how sorry he was to part with them.

On October 1 we handed over nearly all our horses to the New Zealanders, keeping only such of them—four or five, if I remember right—as had been brought from India and come right through the whole show. Four others also were kept for the doctor’s cart, the horses he had before being played out. But the experiment did not turn out a success, as the first time they were put into harness they bolted and there was a general smash-up. The leaders broke away and vanished into space, and were never seen by us again; and the wheelers got mixed up in the traces and upset the cart, damaging it hopelessly in their struggles to get free. The doctor was thenceforth cartless, I think, and the implements of his trade had to be carried in one of the Transport carts.

After giving over our horses we were marched into town, and camped close to the station for the night. The Transport, with the heavy luggage and led horses, were to leave next day by road for Machadodorp, for which place we too were bound. The rest of the regiment, under Captain Beresford, had been stationed there for some time. Next morning we proceeded to the station and loaded our saddle, baggage, and a few of our small Transport carts into open trucks, into which we ourselves afterwards scrambled, the train moving off immediately. There was not overmuch room, but we were not particular, and this did not very greatly bother us. After proceeding about sixteen miles we had to get out and walk to Avoca, a railway station about three miles further on, as, owing to the Boers having smashed up a bridge here, the train was unable to get across. Waggons were awaiting us, into which we loaded the baggage, &c., also making use of the Transport carts we had brought with us.

On arriving at Avoca we heard that an accident had occurred further up the line, and we should not therefore be able to go on till next day. We camped in the open, and spent a wretched night, as it rained incessantly, and by daybreak everything was sopping wet. Hearing next morning that we would not be leaving for some hours, several of us foraged round and found an empty hut, in which we took shelter, as the rain still continued, and made ourselves very fairly comfortable. There was any amount of firewood about, so we were able to semi-dry our blankets, &c. When the train came in at midday it was found that there was not room for more than about fifteen of us, besides the saddles, baggage, and Transport carts.

At Kaapmuiden we got on to the main line from Komati Poort to Pretoria. This junction presented a really woeful sight. The Boers had evacuated the place in great haste, throwing away stores, &c., galore, principally large quantities of flour, which had been rendered useless by sprinkling it with kerosine, making it smell horribly and totally unfitting it for consumption. Whole trains had been burned as they stood on the lines, and an idea of the terrible conflagration may be gathered from the fact that the rails under the wheels were buckled down by the terrific heat.

Captain Taylor, in one of his amusing reminiscences, pays a tribute to the work done by Infantry soldiers:

Tommy certainly is the most wonderful all-round man, and quite prepared to do anything he’s asked. A whole company of Infantry being converted into mounted troops by such an order as ‘A company of —— Regiment will be Mounted Infantry’ was at one time quite usual, but they were fair troops in a month. One saw him making bridges and diversions for the same with the old jokes and quaint oaths; or doing butcher, baker, slaughterer, tailor, bootmaker, farrier, and all the thousand-and-one things he is taught. But he fairly surprised me at Barberton.

There we had suddenly arrived with a division of Cavalry ‘in the air.’ Within a week we had sent our Cavalry as far as Kaapmuiden—the point where the Barberton branch line meets the main one from Pretoria to Komati Poort. Our Infantry had repaired the numerous bridges and culverts, and we were entrained and taken back to Machadodorp by train. Every station-master was a junior British officer, the pointsman Tommy, engine-driver Tommy, who also worked the telegraphs, was stoker, bridgemaker, platelayer, wheelgreaser, &c. There were a few accidents, but not many, and a smash was only a joke. No wonder we are hard to beat.

The trooper correspondent did not look at things quite in that light, but perhaps he was travelling less luxuriously, and the humorous side of the situation did not strike him so forcibly:

It was raining all the time, so things generally were not at all cheerful, and the prospect of travelling for several hours in open trucks under these conditions did not help to raise our spirits. However, it was not so bad after all, as we stretched a huge tarpaulin propped up with sticks, rifles, and boxes, over the truck we were in, which was piled up to the top with the baggage, and managed to keep the rain out in this way. The rest of us were to follow on by the next train. We even managed to get up a game of whist, and this, with the perusal of such literature as we had with us and occasional snoozes helped to pass the time. We stayed that night at Crocodile Poort station, it not being considered safe to travel after dark. It stopped raining at 10 P.M., so, getting out of the truck, we built a huge fire and dried our blankets and boiled the inevitable coffee. We slept in the open, as it was quite fine then; but the dew was so heavy during the night that everything got sopping wet again by the morning. We started again at 9, but made very slow progress, as we had long waits at various stations on the way.

From there to Machadodorp is a most interesting and beautiful country. The line runs between two precipitous ranges quite Swiss in their magnificence, with a river running between the hills. Then to Waterval Onder, where the ordinary rails gave place to a cogwheel line up a steep climb.

We left again at 8 A.M. the following day, and passed through very fair scenery between that place and the next station, Waterval Boven. High overhanging kopjes on one side, along the bases of which the line ran, with a deep sort of cañon between, the Crocodile River flowing along its bottom, and a large square turret-like rock looking commandingly from the other. In one place the train ran quite close to the ‘cliff,’ as in the Darjiling Himalayan Railway in India, and almost under a huge mass of overhanging rocks. There are deep fissures in these rocks in many places, and they look as if they might get loosened and overwhelm us at any moment. We were told that in the rains sentries are posted at this place night and day to give timely warning should there be any signs of the rocks shifting. The incline, too, is very steep here, and only a few trucks at a time can be taken up. In our case eleven trucks were sent up at first, two engines being put on, one in front and the other behind. To prevent slipping, the hindermost engine had the usual cog-wheel arrangement working on a centre rail. Shortly after leaving Waterval Onder you get into a tunnel about a hundred yards long, I think. It is absolutely unventilated, so it can be imagined that the smoke from the engines, which, seated as we were in open trucks, simply poured down our throats and up our noses, very nearly suffocated us.

We stayed at Waterval Boven till 5 P.M., and then went on to Machadodorp, where we found the rest of the regiment, which was encamped there, under Captain Beresford. They had marched to this place from Belfast, where Lord Roberts inspected them. Here we were greatly undeceived. Instead of going on down country for home, as we expected, we received orders to equip, and furthermore to leave the old brigade we were so fond of under General Mahon, and join General French’s column in General Dickson’s brigade.

The men of Lumsden’s Horse arrived in the midst of a very heavy hailstorm. Like all true soldiers, they were ready to make a jest of discomfort, and seeing the company commander, whose name happened to be Jim, as he crawled under the shelter of his _tente d’abri_, they struck up the then popular music-hall chorus:

O lucky Jim, How I envy him!

Colonel Lumsden was at this time speculating on the chances that his corps might soon be ordered home, and in a letter to Sir Patrick Playfair, written while still in hospital, he says:

Ever since we entered Pretoria on June 5 and marched through it to Irene it has been even betting that the war might end any day or keep on with this kind of guerilla fighting till Christmas. It looks very like the latter now. I have discussed the matter frequently, while lying in my bed here, with Colonel Wools-Sampson, commanding the Imperial Light Horse, and Colonel Craddock, commanding the Australian contingent, both in Mahon’s brigade with myself. They fully hold my opinion that, although this unexpected delay comes harder on the Volunteer personally than was anticipated when he joined, yet it was all in the bargain. I also assure the men that Government looks upon the Colonial Volunteer movement as much too big a factor in this crisis to be ignored or undervalued, and that not one day beyond what is actually necessary shall we be kept in harness in this country. There is no doubt that the complete pacification or subjugation of this huge Colony is a much bigger question than we soundly tackled at the start, or were prepared to face. De Wet and Botha are harder nuts to crack than we imagined. I am extremely proud of and pleased with the doings of the corps, and I feel sure it has been worthy of its Honorary Colonel and its many friends and supporters in the land we hail from. How kind Lord Roberts has been to us and to me personally I can hardly state here.

Our good fortune in the way of obtaining commissions in the Regular forces speaks volumes on this point, besides other civil appointments already granted, to say nothing, I hope, of others in store when we disband. As regards the Transvaal Police, which a number of my men were keen to join when it started in June, I distinctly said, ‘_No_, until we are disbanded. If Government would say “Disband,” then I’ll do my best for you with commissions, &c.; but until then, _No_.’ The terms were 10_s._ per diem, horse allowance, and rations. Of course these were tempting to men playing a hard game on 1_s._ 2_d._ per day, but Government soon stopped enrolment, the New Zealand Government having declined to let their Volunteers join. I hear it is being opened again to a small extent, mostly for mechanics, but these are not the class I’ve got. What they mean really to do is to make the Transvaal and Orange River Police the soldiers of the immediate future, and take all the suitable Volunteers they can to back it up. A right good plan too, and I fancy they are only waiting for the opportune moment to do so.

As regards funds, I feel sure we shall end up well. I never lose a chance of buying little extras for the men in the way of Boer tobacco and tinned milk.

Any quantity of the stores for officers went astray, and heaps were given away to the men, &c. I can truly assure you the officers will not make much out of the hunt!

I don’t know what my movements will be—Calcutta or London, depending on that of the corps. At one period our orders were the latter, to be in the Colonial Volunteer Inspection by the Queen, but I fear it is too late in the day for that to come off, and that it will now be Calcutta direct for all that remain of us. Well, as you know, it is hard to beat in the cold season, and always enjoyable to me, so I don’t mind.

So ended the experiences of Lumsden’s Horse under Brigadier-General Mahon’s command. They had been with him two months in circumstances that try the mettle of men, whether officers or privates, and their devotion to him had increased day by day. In camp or in action he was always the same, never worrying himself or harassing his men. On the contrary, he more than once gave up his own rough shelter in a deserted house or hut so that his troops might have firewood for cooking their scant rations of tough mutton or horseflesh. Their confidence in him was unbounded because they said he never got them into a tight place without knowing how to get them out again; and they would have followed him anywhere. That was the feeling of all ranks in the brigade for their General. His confidence in them was equally firm. In a letter which the Editor has permission to quote, that distinguished leader writes: ‘Lumsden’s Horse served with me for some months, and a better lot of men and officers could not be found.’




Before presenting as a connected whole the separate descriptions dealing with a movement which had for its object the disintegration of Boer forces that still held the high veldt and thus threatened both railway lines east of Johannesburg, it will be well to summarise briefly the experience of troopers under Captain Beresford’s command while separated from the headquarters of their corps. It will be remembered that when General Mahon set out from Pretoria to join General French in his dash on Barberton more than two-thirds of Lumsden’s Horse were left behind waiting for remounts, with instructions to follow as fast as possible, or as soon as General Cunningham, under whose orders they were placed for a time, might permit. What happened then is especially interesting as evidence of the class of horse that was being issued to mounted troops at that stage for operations against an exceedingly mobile enemy. The Boers were then practically nomads, having no fixed bases from which supplies were drawn, and therefore no lines of communication to be cut. Pursuit of them was therefore very much like hunting a fox that has been driven out of his own familiar country. If he runs the pack ‘out of scent,’ there is nothing to serve as a guide for the casts that may be made in hope of hitting off the line again, for nobody can say what the probable ‘point’ is; and unless he can be brought to hand by a pursuit that never tires and never goes wrong, we may be sure that there is no chance of running him to ground. Most of the Boer leaders at that time had their wives and families with them. Mrs. De la Rey had been living in an ox-waggon, without fixed abode, since the beginning of war, and accompanying her husband on every trek from Magersfontein to Colesberg, and thence in succession to Driefontein, Brandfort, Kroonstad, the Vaal River, then on to meet Mahon’s column south of Mafeking, back in haste for the defence of Johannesburg and Pretoria, from there to Diamond Hill (or Rietfontein as the Boers call it), then back northward through the bushveldt, and so to the Magaliesberg Range again. Against an enemy thus independent of railways or beaten tracks none but well-mounted troops with horses in the best of condition could hope to achieve much. For corps in the same plight as Lumsden’s Horse, however, nothing better could be found than under-bred Argentines or weedy Hungarians, gross from the combined effects of idleness and injudicious feeding, and soft from want of exercise, badly broken, and therefore ill-mannered. One trooper, whose comments are based on actual experience, as he was among the men to whom horses were issued for trial, only on the morning of the day when they marched from Pretoria, writes of the ‘strange exhibitions’ with this lot of remounts which, to put it mildly, had not been ridden much before. ‘They were just off the ship, fat and very soft, and full of beans. One fellow was bucked off, another dragged, and several very uncomfortable. The horses had no mouths; they wouldn’t answer to bit, rein, or spur, and it was impossible to get one away from the rest.’ When the corps returned from its long trek nearly everybody was in rags, and very unlike the ‘typical trooper’ of ten months earlier, whose smart turn-out had been a source of pride to the corps. Clothing, however, ran short, and many men had difficulty in replacing their tattered garments by new of any kind.


_Photo: Johnston & Hoffmann_ H.P. BROWN, A TYPICAL TROOPER ]

However, this detachment, under Captain Beresford, having cleared up its camp, marched out a day after the corps headquarters had gone and bivouacked that night ten or twelve miles east of Pretoria, near the pass known as Donker Hoek. Colonel Lumsden, having remained behind to see them off, went on a stage or two by train, hoping that they would overtake the leading company before it joined General French. The two detachments were, in fact, though they did not know it, within cannon sound of each other on September 5, when Mahon had turned back from Belfast to help the Canadians at Pan station; but, after that, every march took them further apart, the Colonel pushing on with what remained to him of A Company as part of Mahon’s brigade, while Captain Beresford’s hundred could make but slow progress on their leg-weary, spiritless horses. The latter troops, on arrival at Belfast, were inspected by Lord Roberts, who rode through their lines but made no speech to them. General Hutton, who was with the Headquarters Staff, cast longing eyes on Lumsden’s Horse, looked them over, and told Captain Clifford that he meant to take them on with him. Against such wholesale appropriation, however, Captain Beresford protested, saying that the men wanted to join their own corps and the horses were not fit yet. After appeal to Lord Roberts, Captain Beresford got his way. While at Belfast the detachment had unpleasant experience of winter temperature at an altitude of more than 6,500 feet above sea level. They tried to supply artificial fuel to the system by additional rations, but were not very successful, as the resources of Belfast at that time were low indeed, and certain restrictions had to be placed on traffic with the Dutch inhabitants, one of whom sold bread from the eating of which twelve or fourteen men of an Infantry regiment had been poisoned. So sentries were posted to warn all soldiers against buying provisions. To keep out the icy wind some men built themselves little huts of corrugated iron, in the construction of which we learn that Kingchurch and Cobb and the brothers Allardice distinguished themselves among one section of B Company. Captain Beresford came to have a look at them, and in notes of that time is the appreciative entry: ‘He is a very pleasant man and always polite to every one of us. He said our tin house was much better than the officers’ tents. He told us also that Lord Roberts had expressed himself very much pleased with the appearance of the men and horses.’ At Belfast also Lumsden’s Horse were visited by their former comrade Chartres—once a corporal in the corps, ‘who looked very smart as an Army doctor.’ Their last day at Belfast was devoted to the mild excitement of watching races, in one of which Captain Clifford came in about sixth on ‘The Mate,’ and a note is made of the fact that the Duke of Westminster, who won the long-distance steeplechase, ‘rode like a workman.’ On the whole, this brief stay at Belfast was more pleasant than first impressions of it promised, except for nightly excursions after loose Argentines, one of which drew his picket peg so persistently and got away on the open veldt so often that Robertson dubbed him Ulysses because he was such a wanderer! The next day (November 11) Captain Beresford’s detachment struck its camp on that breezy high veldt and marched across the battlefield of Bergendal on its way to Dalmanutha and Machadodorp as advance guard of General Cunningham’s brigade. No sooner had it got into camp once more than B Company was selected to furnish an escort the next morning for Lord Kitchener. The non-commissioned officer who was to be in command had no other uniform than the weather-stained and saddle-worn suit that had done service throughout most of the campaign. Luckily, however, one of the Hussars offered to sell sundry things. He was a Reservist, and knew his way about a military camp. From him a complete outfit was obtained, and the purchaser then discovered, much to his amusement, that he had been dealing with one who was a pushing commercial traveller in private life. So the non-commissioned officer was able to turn out a credit to the escort. But some mistake had been made about the rendezvous, which, however, the escort found at last by the lucky accident of meeting Major J.K. Watson, Lord Kitchener’s A.D.C. By that time the General had gone on. ‘So had to follow at a tremendous pace, galloped up every steep hill and down the other side over terrible ground, a mass of stones and such clouds of dust that you could not see the ground or whither you were going. Then caught up Lord Kitchener, who was riding with General Hamilton towards a big camp on the top of a hill, where they told us General Smith-Dorrien was in command. Very soon started back again. This time Lord Kitchener by himself, and a nice pace he led us, up hill and down, in clouds of dust. Got back before 1, having started at 10 and covered twelve miles altogether.’ During a month at Machadodorp, outpost duty and patrols towards Lydenburg or Helvetia, where Boers were often seen but never showed fight except by sniping at long range, formed the ordinary routine. This, however, was varied by football matches, for which Lumsden’s Horse furnished a strong team with Hickley in goal, Kirwan and Winder as backs, Courtenay, Brown, and G. Lawrie halves, Robertson, Luard, Holme, Tancred, and Lloyd-Jones forwards. Unfortunately, Robertson injured his knee in one of these matches and had to go into hospital. It was at Machadodorp that Sergeant Stephens, of the Indian Commissariat, who was attached to the Transport Staff of Lumsden’s Horse, distinguished himself by several solitary expeditions into the unexplored country round about. From one of these he came back with a pom-pom carriage which he had found at a farm and several ‘poor orphans,’ as he described pigs whose owners had deserted them. Once, however, he got caught himself, as narrated in Captain Taylor’s private collection of reminiscences:


We had an Indian Transport sergeant lent to us, and a very good useful man he was; but he always had a desire to kill a Boer with his own hand and to be able to swear to it. One day when he was out getting supplies he saw an armed Boer riding over an adjacent ridge, so he left his carts and cantered away to cut him off. On nearing the ridge he slipped off his horse and proceeded on foot. Topping the ridge, he saw the Boer coming towards him and had him dead practically. Suddenly something touched him. Looking up, he saw three rifle muzzles, and he was a prisoner with a party of Boers. They took his rifle and horse and told him to come along with them. He walked between them for a bit, and, being a very amusing Irishman, proceeded to explain that in his opinion it wasn’t entertaining him like a guest to make him tramp while they rode. They treated the subject at first as a joke, but he was so persistent that they at last grew angry, and threatened to shoot him if he didn’t be quiet. On this point also he was found to be so argumentative that at last in despair they told him to make himself scarce, which he did with alacrity, arriving in camp by evening none the worse for his adventure, and quite pleased, as he had only suffered to the extent of a walk, a Government rifle, and a comparatively useless pony.

[Illustration: CORPORAL G. LAWRIE]

[Illustration: F.G. BATEMAN]

[Illustration: L. KINGCHURCH]

[Illustration: IAN SINCLAIR]

[Illustration: SERGT. A.H. LUARD]

[Illustration: PERCY COBB]

[Illustration: HARVEY DAVIES]

[Illustration: A.E. CONSTERDINE]

[Illustration: D. ROBERTSON]


While Lord Roberts remained at Machadodorp, B Company was often called upon to furnish an escort of the smartest men, and for this duty Cobb, Kingchurch, David and Hugh Allardice, Ian Sinclair, Robertson, and Biscoe, or at least two or three of them, were generally selected. But the time for more active service had come again, and with the return of A Company from Barberton to Machadodorp Captain Beresford’s command ceased to have an independent existence.

It was on October 6 that Major Chamney’s force marched into camp without horses, and on the following day Colonel Lumsden passed through Machadodorp in the Princess Christian’s hospital train bound for Pretoria. Having received a sufficient number of remounts from among horses that had been left behind by the Imperial Light Horse and 18th Hussars, the corps was ready to take its place in General Dickson’s brigade for the sweeping movement by which it was hoped that General French would clear the country between De Kaap Mountains and Pretoria. Nobody at the time thought that it would be rather more like a rearguard action, continued from day to day, than a triumphal progress. We know that from morning to night the Boers followed every movement of French’s columns, potting at them almost incessantly. No matter at what hour the British troops began their march or halted in bivouac, or how often they changed direction, the enemy was always with them, and always close enough to see, though not often seen. A more harassing march has probably never been endured by any force of similar strength in that country. All these things we know, but men kept for the privacy of their own diaries a record of the physical sufferings that came to them through hunger and thirst where food, if not scarce, could seldom be cooked because of the thunderstorms night after night and the absence of firewood. Notwithstanding all these discomforts, we find a cheery strain running through the unprinted records of Lumsden’s Horse, and quite a joyful note when by chance the means of making a fire falls in their way. Then somebody is sure to be provided with meat to cook, and we are told how Kingchurch unexpectedly produced ‘chops done to a turn,’ or Cobb’s stew ‘was a triumph,’ or how ‘the indefatigable Hugh cooked chops while it still rained, and after dark he cooked mutton for to-morrow.’ The chronicler, in his gratitude, says: ‘Such men deserve to be remembered, and to have their honoured names handed down to posterity,’ and so they find a place in this History. One night, when rain was being driven in sheets by a howling wind across the bare hillside, some of Lumsden’s Horse could find no better shelter than an ant-heap, round the lee side of which they grouped themselves, huddling together for warmth. Kingchurch, finding them there, said in his whimsical way that they had selected the ‘most epithetally uncomfortable ant-heap in all South Africa.’

It is almost impossible to follow consecutively the movements of General French’s columns, which consisted of a nominal brigade under General Mahon (the 8th and 14th Hussars and M Battery R.H.A.), a second under General Gordon (7th Dragoon Guards, Scots Greys, and guns), and a third, which included Lumsden’s Horse, a half-battalion Suffolk Regiment, O Battery R.H.A., and pom-pom section, under General Dickson. Two Cavalry regiments, the Scots Greys and Carabiniers, with a battery of Artillery, were kept under General French’s personal direction on at least one occasion, and used by him with great effect when by marching out of Bethel he induced the Boers to come in, and then pounced on them. This, however, is general history. The operations in which Lumsden’s Horse took part are described by several correspondents in the following narrative:

At the beginning the original idea was to move on a wide front through Carolina, Ermelo, Bethel to Heidelberg, and in consequence we started in the afternoon of October 11 with Dickson’s brigade in the centre, its main duty being to escort and protect the reserve convoys of all three columns, Mahon being eight to nine miles off on our right and Gordon a similar distance on our left, these two columns taking with them only necessary supplies for a few days.

The very first day Mahon got a severe check, losing some five officers and fifty men, while the next day Gordon on the left was in turn hotly engaged. After this General French deemed it politic to bring in the flank columns closer, and thenceforth we proceeded with only half our former front, thus rendering mutual assistance more easy. Although the division consisted of three brigades, so called, Mahon’s was only about 500 strong, Gordon’s 600, and Dickson’s 700, amounting in all to only three regiments on full strength.

Our task was an extremely arduous and difficult one, for the first few marches were through hilly country, and the convoy advancing in a single string covered seven miles. To protect it from surprise we had but 400 mounted troops, the Infantry being kept more or less concentrated near the waggons. You can imagine, therefore, that our sphere of operations was a very extended one, much being evidently left to the initiative of individuals, as personal control by officers was well-nigh impossible. This was the kind of fighting that brought into prominence the good points of Irregular troops, of which every man is used to act on his own responsibility as occasion demands, wherein he differs from the trained soldier, who is educated to act on orders only. The nature of the convoy added greatly to the fatigue men had to endure. Oxen formed part of the convoy and, as they are unable apparently at this season of the year to march except in the cool of the morning and evening, the working day comprised twenty-four hours. The usual marching hour for ‘ox’ was 4 A.M., necessitating _réveille_ at 2.15 often in the rain, the ‘mule’ following an hour later. The convoy commenced packing at 8 o’clock, and a halt was observed till 2 or 3 in the afternoon. In the afternoon ‘mule’ led off, the ‘ox’ following. By this arrangement the ‘ox’ avoided all heat, but never got into camp till 9 P.M. or thereabouts. Mounted troops had far the worst of this, for while the Infantry could put in a long sleep and have a good meal, the mounted troops, broken up into small parties, were posted on hills all round, and the need to keep a sharp look-out left them few opportunities for sleeping or getting meals. This bit of country was particularly hard on the men, as it was with the greatest difficulty that one could obtain firewood and water by day; and as we often arrived in camp long after dark, it was still more difficult to get an evening camp fire. To add to the trials, half of the available men were on picket over night, and during the day we were surprised incessantly. Our picket duties brought us into constant little engagements in which the corps had the opportunity of acting on its own, and, being ably handled by Major Chamney, quite distinguished itself in a small way.


_Photo: Vandyk_ CAPTAIN C. LYON SIDEY ]

When General Dickson’s brigade, or rather huge convoy, to which we were attached as the only mounted troops, began its march _en route_ for Carolina, the Brigadier’s method was to make an early start, halt at 10 or 11 o’clock for three or four hours, and then make easy progress on to camp for the day. The veldt was changing into its spring coat of green, so that the cattle could graze during halts; in consequence, their condition was not so bad. On the morning of the 12th the camp was aroused by the sound of big guns booming to our right front, and though the brigade was booked to start at 6 A.M. it was not till 7.30 that the convoy got on the way. Later in the day the news was heliographed that the Boers had made a determined attack on General Mahon’s camp, had driven in the outposts, and had only been beaten back after severe fighting, Mahon’s casualties being as high as fifty. On the 13th the music of big guns was again heard at dawn, but to our left front, and the news came through that the Boers had attacked Gordon, but this time received a reception they were totally unprepared for, while Dickson with the convoy had camped by 1.30 P.M. outside Carolina. As Carolina had been in Boer occupation since the time General Mahon touched there on his way to Barberton, every precaution was taken against any surprise. Rumour said the Boers had sworn to trap French or take the convoy, and therefore our escort was augmented by the 7th Dragoon Guards, Scots Greys, and O Battery R.H.A. Our experience for the second time of Carolina was a bitter one; not only was the weather intensely cold, but the whole regiment was sent out on outlying picket for twenty-four hours. On the 15th a five-mile march was made, but on the 16th at 2.30 A.M. _réveille_ was whistled, and at 3.45 Lumsden’s had started at a gallop as advance guard, a dense fog prevailing. A midday halt of three hours was made at Krantzpan, but camp was pitched at Klipsteple after dark. Klipsteple is the highest point in the Transvaal, and a huge smooth-faced boulder stands on the highway. On this boulder visitors have engraved their names, so that it is almost covered with letters and dates, though the names, so familiar to all, of the leaders of the Boer cause are conspicuously absent. On the 17th we formed the rearguard, and were engaged in destroying a farm when a party of about 200 Boers reconnoitred our vicinity. We looked at one another, and they evidently decided against a fight, for Mahon had that morning beaten this same lot rather badly. They retired on Carolina, and we proceeded onward to camp. From this point our further progress was slow, as the Boers hugged the flanks and persistently attacked the rearguard. It was a new light to view the enemy in, and it came somewhat as a surprise. Hitherto the Boer had adopted the running game. It was very gratifying to hear that the enemy possessed neither guns nor big-gun ammunition. On the 18th A Company were doing advance guard, supported by B Company, when they suddenly encountered the fire of thirty Boers strongly entrenched at point-blank range. They fell back, and No. 4 Section, B Company, advanced and, opening volley fire under Captain Sidey’s orders, soon cleared the front, while O Battery sent shell after shell into the fleeing horsemen. Captain Kenna—well known in India—Dickson’s Brigade Major, was good enough to speak favourably of us. It was the first ‘scrap’ we had had under his leadership. During the cannonade a funny incident occurred. A rifle and bandolier were found in a farm where only women were to be seen. As this meant burning the farm and seizing all stock, the Boer’s wife, riding on a man’s saddle, sought out the General, who chivalrously acceded to her request, and the burning was countermanded. The next day passed quietly as far as we were concerned, though Mahon’s guns could be heard in rear from time to time. Hitherto the enemy had employed guns, but to-day the welcome intelligence was passed along that they were completely out of gun ammunition. The camp was pitched at Bethel, a town containing only some six families, three of them English. On the 20th (morning) the regiment paraded for inspection by General French, who took advantage of the day’s halt at Bethel to say a few words of encouragement to each regiment. Addressing Lumsden’s Horse, he said ‘that the reputation of the corps stood very high; their behaviour and gallantry were spoken of by everyone, and, though he had no personal knowledge of the corps, he had heard of their splendid work and the good service they had done. There was no doubt that everyone of all ranks was anxious for a rest, which was well deserved. There was no saying, however, what might happen, but he hoped the onward march to Heidelberg would be an easy one, and he trusted to Lumsden’s Horse maintaining to the end that reputation for gallantry they had worthily earned.’ At the conclusion of the address, Major Chamney called for three cheers for General French. As the Boers were hovering all round us, the entire regiment spent the night on outlying picket; and it was a night!—wet, cold, and miserable. At 3 A.M. on the 22nd the brigade stood to arms, and by 4.30 Bethel had been left behind. The Boers were most persistent, and tenaciously hung round us, losing no opportunity of sniping. About 2 P.M. we were caught in a terrific hailstorm, the hail lying an inch thick upon the veldt, when it ceased, leaving us shivering and drenched, though cheerful enough as we resumed our onward course at the gallop to restore circulation in men and horses. Before camping we did some distant shooting at the enemy, but gave it up as too long a range. The water at this camp was inky black, but in the absence of better had to be used for tea and coffee, though many decided to defer a wash till next day. The whole regiment were again put on duty as pickets, and in their exposed positions had a bitter experience of a typical South African hailstorm during that afternoon. The next day the _réveille_ whistle sounded at 2.30 A.M., and the different brigades were on the move by 4.15. The enemy kept up sniping systematically on the flanks, while the guns in rear were in action some half-a-dozen times during the day. During the afternoon a terrific hailstorm burst over us, saturating our garments and making everybody very miserable. The hail lay inches deep on the veldt. Prisoners were taken daily, and a few refugee women were under our protection. A singular incident occurred on this day. One of the prisoners who had surrendered handed in a Lee-Metford rifle belonging to Lumsden’s Horse, which has since been identified as belonging to Corporal Macgillivray, of A Company, who had been taken prisoner at Ospruit, our first fight. The 25th, however, was a great day. No. 4 Section B Company was rearguard left flank, the 7th Dragoon Guards in the centre-rear, and A Company right flank. Immediately we had taken up positions the Boers pressed home an attack on the left, and No. 3 Section B Company, acting as support, was engaged. The Carabiniers had retired some ten minutes when the left flankers rose from cover and moved towards their led horses. As they mounted, the Boers reached a ridge commanding our position and within range; they peppered us very smartly as we galloped out of range without a single casualty. In the meantime O Battery had come into action, doing excellent practice.


_Photo: Hana, Ltd._ D. MORISON ]

Startled by the firing, Captain Clifford’s horse took fright, and, galloping away, was lost in the distance, Clifford being then on foot controlling the firing. ‘General’ Parks gallantly offered to ride out and catch the beast, and was allowed to do so. He quickly vanished from sight, and nobody knew whither he had gone. As the convoy had moved on, orders came for the rearguard to do likewise, and our corps, together with the 7th Dragoon Guards, retired in extended line to the next ridge, an observation post, to endeavour to show Parks the way in. As there was no sign of him for a considerable time, Captain Taylor, the Adjutant, who had been indefatigable all the morning, exposing himself to encourage us while we were in a really tight corner, took out a subsection and scoured the country round searching for Parks, but without success. The sections (Nos. 4 and 2 of B Company) had to move on, but Corporal Graves and Troopers Morison, Maxwell, and Betts, on their own responsibility and in a Quixotic spirit of chivalry, resolving not to abandon Parks, stayed behind to assist him. There was danger in that decision, as it exposed those men to the risk of getting mixed up with, or, at any rate, mistaken, for the enemy. Captain Sidey noticed their absence, and, being certain they were in danger from our own guns, sent Trooper Behan to order the adventurous troopers back. In a sporting spirit, however, the men who had made up their minds to see Parks through refused to come in and remained on the observation post. Shortly after, another messenger was sent, with threats of instant arrest if orders were not obeyed. Just as this man arrived, Parks was seen through a glass leading the Captain’s horse about two miles away to the left rear and close to the flanks of the former position from which the Boers had been firing. He was making a very bad line to rejoin us, so Morison offered to gallop down and endeavour to show him the way, despite the half-company officer’s orders. This he did and succeeded in bringing in Parks, but directly our small party, retiring, crowned the rise, O Battery, from a distance of 4,600 yards, being informed that we were most certainly Boers, plumped a shell into the middle of us, the wind of the shell knocking off Graves’s hat and bursting a horse’s length behind the party, and, needless to say, we galloped in for all we were worth. Luckily for us, the gunner was informed who we were before sending a second shot along. He remarked, however, that he thought it was a jolly good shot.

Captain Taylor gives a slightly different version of the incident:

We were acting as rearguard to Dickson’s column, when Captain Clifford’s horse took fright and ran away while his master was dismounted. One of our sailors, Parks, went after it, and followed it for two miles at right angles to our line of advance. We saw him catch the horse and begin leading it back, and then saw him no more, though we waited half an hour. As messages were coming from the rearguard commander to us to follow more quickly, we had to leave, all fully convinced that our poor Parks had been ambushed.

[Illustration: CORPORAL J. GRAVES]

After a mile or so, our widely extended line came down a long, fairly steep incline, on the top of the opposite slope of which we saw our Battery O in position. As we neared the bottom of the intervening valley the battery opened fire with one round, which burst on the top of the slope we had just left, and looking round we saw a party of six men riding down at a gallop, waving a handkerchief. They turned out to be some of our own men, who, having at the last moment seen Parks coming in, waited for him. The battery had seen the heads of mounted men in slouch hats advance quickly, and, mistaking them for Boers following us, had ‘laid’ for them. The shot was such a good one that it knocked off the hat of Sergeant Graves, and the Adjutant’s office went near to losing its clerk, and the Bank of Bengal one of its rising staff.

Another correspondent continues the narrative:

On the 26th the united brigades reached Heidelberg by sundown, but sustained two casualties in the rearguard. The safe escort of the convoy is locally reported as a creditable performance, and there were no fewer than 150 casualties in the united brigades since leaving Machadodorp. It was a very trying march, as rain fell nearly every day in torrents. Sleep was out of the question in deep pools of water, and _réveille_ daily at 2.30 A.M. gave us little rest. We had taken 109 prisoners and brought on some twenty refugee families. Heidelberg is the prettiest town we have yet seen in the Transvaal, nestling as it does at the base of a rugged kopje in a perfect tope of eucalyptus, willow, peach, and oak trees. The majority of the houses are above the ordinary type—flowers abound in the gardens, and the surrounding veldt has donned its spring coat of green; the fruit trees are loaded with fruit, which in another month should sweeten our rations of dry biscuits. But—there is a ‘but’—the stores are absolutely barren. Foodstuffs and provisions of every kind are badly needed by the residents themselves. A Wesleyan clergyman informed the writer that he hadn’t tasted meat for a week.

Roses abounded in the gardens attached to the picturesque villas, and altogether a feeling of peace and security seemed to prevail. Our stay was a limited one, and on the 30th (morning) the trek was resumed through Nigel to Springs. The country we had to traverse is rich in mineral wealth, gold and coal mines being already in existence, while hundreds of claims are pegged out against the setting-in of peace and the advance of the capitalist. At Springs, on the return journey to Pretoria, we were saluted by Colt guns, which were repeatedly fired at us as we approached the trenches, manned by British troops. Our men were naturally very irate, and wanted very much to fire back. They considered it particularly hard lines, since we had been marching in the open and heliographing from a distance of ten miles. The 31st was a great day, as a parade before His Excellency Lord Roberts was fixed for 10.30 A.M. The Commander-in-Chief was punctual to time, and during the inspection addressed himself to the several companies as he met them. The various regiments then went past in order of brigades and returned to camp. Major Chamney, before dismissing Lumsden’s Horse, paraphrased what Lord Roberts had said to him for the benefit of the regiment. Briefly, it was to the effect that the disbandment of the corps was at the present time impossible, but Lord Roberts had telegraphed to His Excellency the Viceroy asking him to use his influence in keeping appointments open as far as possible.

Lumsden’s Horse had requested disbandment on the reasonable grounds of pressing business in India, and the fact of local Colonial and other Volunteer corps—notably the C.I.V., Loch’s Horse, and others—having been disintegrated. At first an abrupt refusal was given, but yesterday General French telegraphed to Lord Kitchener and strongly recommended our case. A reply has been received that only those having business of an urgent nature in India may return, but they must pay their own expenses back, only a railway ticket to port of embarkation being provided. Needless to say, many are going even on these conditions, but those who desire to go to England have to hang on for an indefinite period of time still. Only from Machadodorp three Surma Valley men were allowed to leave, as their appointments were in jeopardy. These men had free passages back given them. Again, a fortunate few have been given employment in South Africa, and they were permitted to leave as their appointments were secured. These number altogether about twenty. Colonel Lumsden is unfortunately still away from the regiment, sick at Pretoria. Major Chamney, officiating in command, finds his hands tied to some extent, and cannot do much for us in matters of such moment. But the feeling in the regiment is very strong, and the term ‘Volunteer’ is sneered at as a misnomer. If the war was not over it would be quite another matter; but it has been announced that the war is practically ended, and the duties now to be performed are in the nature of police work.

All round Springs was a hotbed of Boers, and patrols proceeding two or three miles from camp were invariably sniped at. Just outside Springs we had great luck in finding a brewery which, despite the war, had not ceased to brew, and we regaled ourselves with limited quantities of Colonial stout in a vain endeavour to keep out the eternal rain. The Boers, who were used to dealing with a garrison armed with carbines, were rather surprised one day when going to round up some cattle they ran into a small patrol of our corps, and Trooper Consterdine fetched one of them out of the saddle with a good shot at 1,800 yards, and thus gave them a lesson which will probably make them more careful.

The weather now became absolutely vile. There were hailstorms every afternoon, just late enough to spoil any chance of getting dry for the night. The roads were very heavy, and horses could not get on. We hoped and concluded the Boers were in the same fix. From Springs the Boers ceased to give trouble, but this was more than atoned for by the abominable weather and going. For forty-eight hours it poured torrents without ceasing, and there was not a dry skin or blanket in the division. To remove misapprehension, it is necessary to say men had seen no tents for practically eight months. Bad it was for us and the horses, but worse for the Transport, the animals dying daily to such an extent that it was all they could do to drag empty waggons into Pretoria. Pistol-shots every morning latterly had announced the death of animals that had dragged our carts for many miles, and to save the waggons from falling into the hands of the Boers there was nothing to do but burn them. It was no uncommon sight to see cattle lying in the last stages of exhaustion on the road, and ere death ensued being cut up and looked upon as a great treat by the local Kaffirs.

Everybody was struck by the formation of our Transport when out of hilly country; the waggons moved along in a dense mass with a frontage of about a quarter of a mile and depth of half a mile, the whole mass forcing its way over nullahs and obstacles irresistibly. It will be obvious to all that this formation of the convoy lent itself much more easily to protection than a stream of waggons seven miles long.

At 5 A.M. of November 1 the trek was resumed, the direction being Pretoria. A heavy drizzle of rain was falling, and without intermission it continued for three days, only ceasing when Pretoria was seen in the distance on the morning of the 3rd. Every garment, whether on the person or in the kit bags, was wet, and never was sunshine more welcome than on that morning. By 11 A.M. the regiment had camped on the far side of the racecourse, and for the first time since April experienced the shelter of tents.


Though they did not know it at the time, Lumsden’s Horse as a corps had done their last march in the Transvaal, and fired their last shot against the Boers. They had begun to think that others, with less chance of serving the Empire elsewhere and fewer interests calling them home, could very well do all the work that remained to be done in South Africa. Yet up to that time their expressions of a wish to be relieved, as other Volunteer contingents had been, from the fruitless pursuit of guerilla raiders, was productive of no result. It is hardly surprising, therefore, after the miserable experiences of a sweeping movement, by which nothing of any importance had been achieved, and from which nobody suffered much except the troops engaged in it, that a spirit of discontent should have begun to manifest itself among men who knew that every day they remained in South Africa might jeopardise all their future careers. They were running the risk of losing all and gaining no commensurate advantage either for themselves or for the Empire. It is little to be wondered at, therefore, that they should have envied the City Imperial Volunteers, the Canadians, and some other Colonial contingents which had been allowed to leave for home when Lord Roberts declared that regular warfare was at an end. Even the departure of some of their own comrades, whose plea of urgent private affairs had prevailed over military considerations, seemed to some extent a grievance, so that when Thesiger, Townsend-Smith, and Moir-Byres were allowed to go many others regretted that they also had not applied for passages to India instead of England. So far back as October 9, Army Orders had contained the following:


It has been brought to the notice of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief that many men of the Colonial contingents made arrangements before leaving their homes for only one year, which has now nearly expired. Though precise date cannot yet be fixed on which all will be free, commanding officers may submit names of any urgent cases at once, and the Field-Marshal hopes that within the next few weeks he may be able to dispense with their services, which have proved invaluable to the Empire.

But Lord Roberts, with every wish to meet the convenience of those who had sacrificed much for the sake of serving under him, found himself hampered by unforeseen circumstances, which were fully explained in one of his despatches about this date. ‘There still remained much for the Army in South Africa to do before the country could be said to be completely conquered. Certain Boer leaders, notably De Wet and De la Rey, had still to be dealt with, and the guerilla warfare carried on by them put a stop to.’ This state of affairs made it imperative that the Army should be broken up into several comparatively small columns of increased mobility. Mounted troops were therefore in more demand than ever.

Great difficulty was experienced in carrying out these necessary changes owing to the time having arrived for the withdrawal of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the Royal Canadian Regiment, the three batteries of Canadian Artillery, and the greater part of the first contingents furnished by Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania, and allowing the members of the second South African corps to return to their homes and employments after having been embodied for twelve months. It was impossible to disregard the urgent reasons given by our Colonial comrades for not being able to remain longer at the seat of war. They had done admirable service and shown themselves well fitted to take their places by the side of Her Majesty’s Regular troops, and I witnessed their departure with deep regret, not only on account of their many soldierly qualities, but because it materially impaired the mobility and efficiency of the Army in South Africa for the time being, a very critical time, too, until indeed a fresh body of Mounted Infantry could be formed from the nearest available Line battalions, and the several South African local corps could be again recruited up to their original strength.

[Illustration: SERGT. G.E. THESIGER]

[Illustration: E.B. MOIR-BYRES]

[Illustration: J.A. BROWN]

[Illustration: H. EVETTS]

[Illustration: SERGT. J.L. STEWART]

[Illustration: CORPL. W.T. SMITH]

[Illustration: H.N. SHAW]

[Illustration: E.S. CLARKE]

[Illustration: B.E. JONES]


Thus, the Commander-in-Chief, having declared that regular warfare was at an end, found himself unable to deal effectually with raiding guerilla bands for want of enough mobile troops. In this difficulty he kept faith with those who had completed the year of service for which they had enlisted by letting them go. Lumsden’s Horse did not come within that category, and, though Lord Roberts recognised the justice of their Colonel’s plea on behalf of men who were sacrificing much, he would promise nothing until fresh companies of Mounted Infantry could be formed to fill the places left vacant by Canadians, New Zealanders, and Australians who had gone. Colonel Lumsden’s ceaseless efforts, however, had so impressed the Commander-in-Chief that he sent a cable message to the Viceroy urging him, as Honorary Colonel of Lumsden’s Horse, to use all his influence with employers on behalf of members of the corps, so that their appointments in India might be kept open for them a little longer. Lord Roberts added: ‘I trust the war is nearly over, but it is essential that all shall hold together till the end, and it would be a hardship to members of a corps that has done such gallant service if they were to suffer for their devotion to the cause of the Empire.’ Several men whose cases were exceptionally urgent got permission to leave for India, and others who had accepted commissions in Regular regiments or civil appointments were necessarily taken off the strength of the corps, which consequently became reduced to little more than a full company. One of the Colonel’s Staff, therefore, thought it an opportune time to trace the whereabouts of men who had ceased to serve in the ranks of Lumsden’s Horse. He therefore prepared a record in tabulated form, which was at that time the most complete return available, though he prefaced it with an apology for incompleteness:

The corps has shifted about such a lot recently that it is difficult to know accurately what has happened to many men who were left sick at various points in the march. But the following is pretty correct so far as it goes.

Follett, M. } Died in hospital Maclaine } Adlam } Burnett } Bankes, E.N. } Bewsher } Birch } Burn-Murdoch } Campbell, H. A., Sergeant } Campbell, L. C. } Cheshire } Cooper } Dawson, Ernest } Elliott, Sergeant } Glascock } Hunter-Muskett } Invalided, Jameson, J.V. } England Keating } Logan } McMinn } Martin, A. } Martin, C.K. } Mitchell } Neville, Lieutenant (since rejoined) } Oldham } Saunders } Skelton } Thelwall, H.W. } Walton } A.N. Woods } Baldwin } Invalided Thompson, F.C. } India Turnbull } Howes—Invalided, Burma Follett, F.B. (convalescent) } Invalided, Gough, H. (convalescent) } Cape Noblett, Captain (since rejoined) } Town Bearne—Military Governor’s Office, Pretoria Booth—Corps Depôt, Pretoria Chartres, Corporal—Medical Office, Middelburg. Conduit—Pretoria Police Firth, Corporal—Military Governor’s Office, Pretoria Francis—Rest Camp, Cape Town Huddleston—Assistant-Commissioner of Police, Kroonstad Macgillivray—Corps Depôt, Pretoria Morris, Corporal—Remount Department, Johannesburg Pugh, Lieutenant—Assistant-Commissioner of Police, Bloemfontein Richey—Corps Depôt, Pretoria Stuart, C.E.—Military Governor’s Office, Pretoria Shaw, H.N.—Corps Depôt Watson, Remount Department, Johannesburg Warburton—Secretary, Irish Hospital,Pretoria Woollright—Medical Officer, Elandsfontein Anderson } P.W. Banks } H.K. Dawson } Evetts } Fuller } Transferred temporarily FitzGerald } to A.S. F.B. Johnstone } Corps, Pretoria Meares } Nightingale } Pringle } Rice } Waller }

Hayward } Regular signallers Longman } transferred to Lowe } Hamilton’s Division Lee }

Braine } Chapman, E.S. } Charles, J. } Hospital, Pretoria Clifford, F.M. (convalescent) } Wilkinson }

Clerk } Hospital, Forbes } Germiston Haines, R.P. }

Harvey, C.C. (convalescent) } Hospital, Kenny (convalescent) } Bloemfontein Puckeridge (convalescent) } Pryce (convalescent) } Hospital, Walker, Arthur (convalescent) } Bloemfontein Willis }

Jones, B.E.—Convalescent, Elandsfontein Sladden—Hospital, East London Walton, C.F.—Hospital, Johannesburg

Cayley } Granted discharge, England Cubitt }

Graham, J.A.—Granted leave, India

Of the above-named, Elliott, Burn-Murdoch, and C.A. Walton were invalided on account of wounds. J.S. Saunders cracked a bone in his arm when he took the fall at Spytfontein which cost him his liberty, and he has been sent home by the medical authorities as being incapacitated for further service. C.E. Stuart is also unfit for active service, as the wound in his foot sustained at the taking of Pretoria has left permanent effects. He moves about gingerly, and is buoyed up with the hope of a pension for life. Stuart wears spectacles, and he’ll need ’em badly when it comes to drawing his quarterly allowance.

Poor Maclaine, who died here of pneumonia on August 29, makes the eighth death in the regiment. Though most of us are enjoying splendid health and spirits, it is sad to reflect that to so many our campaign in South Africa has brought but sickness and broken constitutions.

Some record of those old comrades whose services have won well-merited recognition, and whose subsequent movements I have endeavoured to trace for the delectation of cousins, aunts, creditors, and insurance company secretaries, would not come amiss. The home authorities and Lord Roberts himself have treated the regiment most generously in the matter of commissions in the Regular Army, as the following list will show. Men named have been gazetted, as far as I can remember, to the regiments stated below:

W. Douglas Jones, A.S. Corps │J.A. Fraser, West India │ Regiment

Montagu Bates, East Surrey │Percy Smith, Oxfordshire L.I. Regiment │

J.S. Biscoe, West India │G.P.O. Springfield, 3rd Regiment │ Dragoon Guards

P.J. Partridge, │P. Strahan, South Northamptonshire Regiment │ Staffordshire Regiment

B.C.A. Steuart, Black Watch │F.W. Wright, A.S. Corps

Arathoon, 3rd Dragoon Guards │H.S.N. Wright, A.S. Corps

R.G. Collins, West India │T.B. Nicholson, West India Regiment │ Regiment

Fletcher, A.S. Corps │Norton, West India Regiment

C.R. Macdonald, Argyll and │Hugh Blair, Somersetshire L.I. Sutherland Highlanders │

Of the above, Macdonald’s, I think, has not yet been confirmed, but all the others have gone, some to their regiments in the country, and others to report at the War Office. Arathoon, who has been one of the best and cheeriest of the regiment, is, I am sorry to say, in the Irish Hospital here recovering from a bad go of rheumatic fever, which will prevent him from joining his new regiment for a long time.

Meanwhile it appears that Colonel Lumsden had been trying to secure for Calcutta one of the guns so gallantly captured by his men. He received the following letter:

Army Headquarters, Johannesburg: November 8, 1900.

DEAR COLONEL LUMSDEN,—With reference to your request to be permitted to take back to Calcutta one of the guns captured from the enemy, the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief desires me to inform you that he fears you must wait until he knows definitely what guns he has to dispose of.

Believe me, yours sincerely,

H.V. COWAN, Lieutenant-Colonel, Military Secretary.

That the corps were not so homesick as to have lost their zest for sport or for the simple pleasures that came in their way may be gathered from the following note furnished by their late Adjutant:

On the conclusion of the march from Machadodorp we were left to re-equip for ten days at Pretoria, and were one day asked to produce an officers’ polo team. We had some seven officers to choose from, and a few chargers which were small enough for the game; no sticks, and only parade saddles, and we had never played together. However, we produced a team and went to the fray. We found it was quite a big affair. There was a crowd of spectators, with a fair ground, umpires, whistles, &c., and we agreed to play ‘Hurlingham Rules,’ which none of us knew. They kindly lent us polo-sticks of sorts, and the game began. It was a really good game, and the chargers, rendered docile by work and starvation, played wonderfully. However, we were beaten by two goals to one, and in the return match we each got one goal. We were quite proud of the show, as our opponents represented the whole garrison, including one Cavalry division, and were in some practice.

[Illustration: H.S.N. WRIGHT]

[Illustration: J.D.L. ARATHOON]

[Illustration: S.L. LONG-INNES]

[Illustration: F.W. WRIGHT]

[Illustration: R.G. COLLINS]

[Illustration: A.E. NORTON]

[Illustration: CORPL. F.S.M. BATES]

[Illustration: W. DOUGLAS-JONES]

[Illustration: T.B. NICHOLSON]


One day about this time the Editor was present at a little scene which may be interesting as an example of the many strange meetings that characterised a campaign in which men from all parts of the world came together. His son, a lieutenant in the Army Service Corps, had just been transferred from an Irregular Cavalry regiment, and they were celebrating the first occasion of being together since the relief of Ladysmith. At another table Colonel Lumsden and some of his officers were dining. Introductions followed, when suddenly Captain Holmes and the young lieutenant greeted each other by familiar nicknames which neither had heard for some years. As students they had served together in the Artists’ Volunteers, of which Lord Leighton was then Honorary Colonel. They had been fighting through the campaign, one from Natal, the other from Bloemfontein. Their paths had crossed several times without either knowing it, and here at the end they met in Pretoria for the first time since boyhood. Such incidents occurred frequently until they ceased to be strange, and they illustrate the all-prevailing power of a sentiment that drew men from every quarter of the globe to South Africa, where the Empire’s interests centred. All were then beginning to think that there might be still a long spell of campaigning before them, and, in spite of a little natural grumbling, they took the prospect philosophically enough, as we may see by the following extract from a trooper’s letter:

At Pretoria we were joined by Captain Noblett and Captain Stevenson, who had been away on two months’ sick leave visiting Natal battlefields, and Lieutenant Neville, who had left us sick in June, been to England, and come back, and little expected to find any of us still there. We were overjoyed to hear we were to have ten days’ rest in tents, the first we had seen for many months. We were now living on the fat of the land, with—luxury of luxuries—a dry canteen where you could buy at half price those necessaries of life which had lately been considered luxuries, the balance being paid out of the funds provided by our kind friends in India. Here we waxed fat. Colonel Lumsden, in his absence from the corps, had not been idle, and had been putting before the highest authorities the real urgency in many cases to men for whom prolonged absence from India would mean absolute ruin. To such purpose did he work that a week after arrival we received the welcome news that seventy of the most urgent cases were permitted to go. We saw them off on November 15 under Major Chamney, and then returned to camp in full anticipation of another year of it. A week after this came the joyful news that the whole corps was also to return at once, and on the 22nd we entrained for Cape Town. Despite various alarms, railway accidents, and breaking up of the line in front of us, we arrived in Cape Town without mishap.

Alas! for the horses. Only four remained to come back with the corps. Some troopers hoped to have brought the regimental dog, who was quite a veteran and by distinguished service fully entitled to ease, with a pension for life. Trooper D. Morison gives the following sketch of him:

He first attached himself to the regiment at Irene in July 1900. He very soon became a popular character among us, and went by the name of Kruger, and from that time on he was always to be found with the regiment. His intelligence was almost human, and it is a mystery how he could always find the regiment when marching with other troops. On more than one occasion he has been the means of finding men in distant parts of the field owing to his white colour. That dog and Trooper Burgess seemed to understand each other perfectly. He started from Pretoria with the regiment _en route_ for India, but unfortunately got left behind one morning at a wayside station.

On November 21 Lord Roberts telegraphed to Colonel Adye, A.A.G. for Colonial Forces:

Please convey the following message to Colonel Lumsden. Am extremely sorry to be unable to see Colonel Lumsden’s regiment and say good-bye before they leave South Africa. I am telegraphing to the Viceroy, who is Honorary Colonel of the regiment, to express my appreciation of the admirable work done by all ranks during the present war. Colonel Lumsden and all serving under him have my best wishes for their future success.

Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden replied:

Kindly convey to Field-Marshal Lord Roberts the deep appreciation felt by my regiment and myself of the great kindness expressed in his telegram and shown to us throughout the period we have had the honour of serving under him.

That telegram was not known in Cape Town when, on November 22, Major Chamney, with the convalescents and those who had been allowed to leave the corps a week earlier, marched to the Docks, headed by the band of the Cheshire Regiment, and embarked for India on board the ‘Catalonia.’ They went off amid loud cheers from ship and shore, little thinking that the corps would so soon follow or that its departure would be marked by a great demonstration complimentary to every man in its ranks.

Sixteen of the corps embarked, under Major Chamney’s command, in the ‘Catalonia,’ and sailed from Table Bay in the company of 600 Boer prisoners. At Durban, finding measles on board the ‘Catalonia,’ they disembarked, and took the Clan steamer ‘Sinclair’ to Calcutta, calling at Galle by the way. They were Sergeants Stewart, Pratt, and Oakley; Corporal Horne, Lance-Corporal Phillips, Troopers Dalton, Clarke, Elsie, Biscoe, H. Allardice, Elwes, Hight, Lucas, Moore, Brown, and H.C. Wood. The last named was seized with measles and had to be left at Galle.

On November 23 Field-Marshal Lord Roberts telegraphed to His Excellency the Viceroy of India (Lord Curzon of Kedleston) as follows:

Lumsden’s Horse left Pretoria to-day for India, about 120 strong. I cannot allow the corps to leave South Africa without expressing to your Excellency, as their Honorary Colonel, my appreciation of the excellent services rendered throughout the war by officers, non-commissioned officers, and men. Many of them have received commissions in the Regular forces, and many are remaining in South Africa in various employments, to take their part in the settlement of that country which they have assisted to add to Her Majesty’s dominions. It has been a pride and a pleasure to me to have under my command a Volunteer contingent which has so well upheld the honour of the Indian Empire.

The Viceroy, on November 26, replied:

It is a great satisfaction to me, as Honorary Colonel of Lumsden’s Horse, to receive the message in which you have testified to their gallantry and services in the war. India will welcome those who are coming back with enthusiasm, and wish God-speed to those who stay and have served in such a campaign, and have earned the praises of such a commander.

Colonel Lumsden, with the remainder of the corps, embarked in the ‘Atlantian’ on December 5, at Cape Town, after a farewell speech from the Mayor of Cape Town, Mr. T.J. O’Reilly.

The following appeared in the ‘Cape Times’ of December 6:

About 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon His Worship the Mayor (Mr. T.J. O’Reilly), accompanied by the Town Clerk (Mr. C.J. Byworth) and the Mace Bearer, attended at the South Arm to say farewell to the Indian Volunteer contingent known as Lumsden’s Horse, under the command of Colonel Lumsden. The men were drawn up on the South Arm, alongside of which lay the huge transport ‘Atlantian,’ which was to convey them to India.

Colonel Lumsden, having called the men to attention, stated that it was very gratifying to him to know that His Worship the Mayor had so kindly come down to the Docks to say a few words to them before they sailed.



His Worship said: Colonel Lumsden, Officers, and Men of Lumsden’s Horse,—I am very pleased indeed to have the honour of saying a few words to you to-day before you leave South Africa. We are all very grateful to you for the noble services you have rendered in the field for us for upwards of twelve months. You are now going home covered with honour and glory, and I earnestly trust you will find all those you left behind you well and anxious to give you a hearty welcome, which I feel sure awaits you on your return. On the outbreak of hostilities in this country Colonel Lumsden at once offered his services, and also to organise a corps to proceed to South Africa to fight for Queen and country. Out of 1,000 men who eagerly offered themselves in response to the call for volunteers, 250 were accepted. This gratifying response is an eloquent testimony to the patriotic spirit by which the British race all over the world are animated. To the public of India and to Colonel Lumsden belong the credit for the equipment of your corps with everything needful excepting rifle and bandolier, and I can only characterise the action of your Colonel as patriotic in the highest degree, and deserving the hearty thanks of all, apart from the splendid services rendered in the field. I feel assured that if Lord Roberts were now to ask Colonel Lumsden to again return to the field, his request would be most willingly and promptly complied with by one and all of the contingent here to-day, who would be only too eager to follow their trusted and tried leader to further honour and glory. Some of your members have fallen in the field fighting bravely for the dear old flag and the honour and prestige of the Empire. Others, more fortunate, have secured civil and other appointments in the country in which they have acquitted themselves with so much credit to the corps and the country from which they hail. Out of the 250 men comprised in the corps as originally organised, twenty-five have received commissions, a most gratifying percentage, while fifteen men have received civil appointments and thirty have joined the constabulary force commanded by General Baden-Powell, so that on the whole your corps have done exceedingly well as regards employment in South Africa. It is also very pleasing to learn that the contingent holds a splendid record from Field-Marshal Lord Roberts downwards. I wish to impress upon you the fact that, after your Queen and the Empire, you were fighting for the vital principles of right and justice claimed by Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Alfred Milner, and if Mr. Kruger and Mr. Steyn had been willing to recognise the equity of such claim there would have been no necessity to have recourse to the sword. It is recognised that the only man who is capable of establishing permanent peace and settlement in South Africa is His Excellency Sir Alfred Milner, and by urging this fact, in season and out of season, whenever the opportunity occurs upon your return to India you will be rendering a further service to the country which you have already placed under a lasting debt of gratitude for services already performed. We are going to send you a little souvenir of your sojourn in South Africa, and as a slight token of our gratitude and appreciation for the great work you have done for us; and as the years roll on and your children and grandchildren gather around you, probably you may be asked by a son or a grandson as to the history of the souvenir from South Africa. In telling the story remember the refrain of the soldier’s song:

Roll drums merrily, march away, Soldiers glory famed in story. His laurels were green when his locks were grey, Hurrah for the life of a soldier.

When you look at the souvenir in after-years, when, perhaps, your locks are grey, you can always bear in mind that the laurels you have won in this country will remain ever green with us, and we hope ever green with you. Colonel Lumsden, officers, and men, I now bid you _bon voyage_, a safe return home, a happy Christmas on board the good ship ‘Atlantian,’ and a bright and prosperous New Year in your distant homes in India.

Colonel Lumsden said: Your Worship,—On behalf of Lumsden’s Horse and myself, I thank you most cordially for the eloquent speech you have made to-day, and I also thank you for coming down here, I feel sure at no little inconvenience, to bid us farewell on our departure from these shores. We shall ever think of the time we spent in South Africa, but I should like you to understand, Mr. Mayor, that in coming here we were only actuated by our duty to our Queen and to our country. I have again to thank you for the trouble you have been good enough to take in coming down to the Docks this afternoon, and to assure you that we greatly appreciate your courtesy and kindness.

Colonel Lumsden then called upon the officers and men to join with him in giving three hearty cheers for the Mayor, and the call was enthusiastically responded to. His Worship then shook hands with the Colonel and officers, and expressed the hope that the men would enjoy their voyage and have a happy Christmas.

So, amid cheers and many good wishes, Lumsden’s Horse took their farewell of South Africa, leaving behind them a reputation of which any regiment might have been proud. They had fought side by side with Regular soldiers of the British Army, and earned a character for courage among men whose self-sacrificing devotion they, in turn, regarded with admiration and strove to emulate. They had made many friends among all branches of the Service, Imperial and Colonial, and had won the respect even of their enemies. It had been their good fortune to serve under three at least of the ablest leaders who came to the front in the course of that long campaign, and from every one of these they won commendation as a body of troopers on whom reliance might be placed in any emergency. No better name need any soldiers want to take home with them and hand down to their children’s children.




On arrival at Cape Town, Colonel Lumsden was told that the accounts of his corps were the only pay-sheets of any Irregular contingent that had been kept up to date; and the men of Lumsden’s Horse left South Africa not only in possession of every shilling of pay then due to them, but just as they had left India ten months earlier, owing not a debt in the country, though the country owed them much in the form of obligations that can never be forgotten except by the men, who, conscious of duty nobly done, need no other reward. They were leaving South Africa assured by every testimony that high approval could give that they had done their duty and done it well. They had with other soldiers taken their full share of great hardships. The weariness of long marches, the trying ordeals of exposure to fierce heat by day and bitter cold at night, sometimes drenched to the skin when they lay down to rest on the bare veldt with no tent to shelter them and not always a blanket to cover them, at other times benumbed by the icy coldness of a wind that stiffened their wet khaki tunics with frost which the sluggish blood had not warmth enough to thaw—all these things they had borne with a manly fortitude that won the respect of war-hardened veterans; and they were going back with the knowledge that the Commander-in-Chief of such an army as Great Britain had never sent to war before in all the long course of her Empire-making history, had signified his approval of their conduct in that telegram to the Viceroy of India expressing recognition of the excellent service rendered by officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, of whom he said: ‘It has been a pride and a pleasure to me to have under my command a Volunteer contingent which has so well upheld the honour of the Indian Empire.’

With these words assuring them of a great soldier’s appreciation, they were going back to the certainty of an enthusiastic welcome from the people of India, to whose honour all the good deeds of Lumsden’s Horse redound. Of the warmth of that welcome His Excellency the Viceroy had given them a foretaste when, in his reply to the message received from Lord Roberts, he sent back by cable the inspiriting words: ‘India will welcome those who are coming back with enthusiasm and wish God-speed to those who stay.’

It was with knowledge of the deep interest taken by Lord Curzon in all things concerning Lumsden’s Horse that the Commander-in-Chief telegraphed to him something more than a formal recognition of their services. It was with characteristic intuition and tact that the Viceroy replied, giving voice to the wishes of a whole people and expressing those wishes in the choicest of phrases. In this telegram Lord Curzon epitomised the meaning of all that he had said or done for the welfare of Lumsden’s Horse since the corps was formed nearly a year earlier, and his desire that its services should be recognised both officially and publicly as a bond between India and the Mother Country—an epoch-making event in which all classes of the Empire might equally take pride. All this and more His Excellency continued to demonstrate by the share he took in welcoming the warriors home, when his eloquent words appealed alike to the quick sympathies and to the intelligence of those who heard him speak, or read what he had to say. And long after the flood of popular enthusiasm had reached its height he continued to manifest his interest in the corps by practical efforts to benefit its surviving members, and by a most graceful tribute to the memory of those whose lives had been sacrificed for the honour of the Empire. At his own cost, Lord Curzon erected a tablet in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Calcutta, on which was inscribed the name of every man of the corps who had died in South Africa, and himself wrote the touching lines that will through after-ages commemorate the services they rendered. Throughout, Lord Curzon’s great aim was to foster and encourage the spirit of volunteering, the importance of which to a world-wide Empire nobody realises more fully than he. As a proof of his conviction in this regard, he has succeeded in getting an Inspector-General of Volunteers appointed on the Staff in India, and the first holder of this office is Major-General Hill, of the Bombay Staff Corps.

[Illustration: SERGT. STOWELL]

[Illustration: SERGT. DONALD]

[Illustration: SERGT. RUTHERFOORD]

[Illustration: L.-CORPL. GODDEN]

[Illustration: SERGT. H.J. FOX]

[Illustration: S.C. GORDON]

[Illustration: E.A. THELWALL]

[Illustration: F.-SERGT. EDWARDS]

[Illustration: A.P. COURTENAY]


Directly it was known through the telegram sent by Lord Roberts from Irene that Lumsden’s Horse were actually on their way home, a committee met at the Chamber of Commerce and elected Sir Patrick Playfair as its chairman. This body was thoroughly representative of the mercantile community and all the complex elements that constitute the most influential sections of society in Calcutta. It included judges, barristers, doctors, solicitors, besides the most prominent native merchants and princes, and formed altogether one of the most typical assemblages ever known in the city. It was called to decide what sort of reception should be given to Lumsden’s Horse, and its deliberations closed with the unanimous resolve to make the occasion worthy alike of a great country and of those who had fought for its honour with a courage and devotion characteristic of British soldiers. The decision was telegraphed to His Excellency the Viceroy, who was at that time absent from Calcutta on tour. The Committee were very anxious that Lumsden’s Horse should arrive in time to take part in the New Year Proclamation Parade commemorating the Empress of India’s accession, when, according to custom, there is a great military concentration in Calcutta of Regular troops, Volunteers, and all branches of the Imperial Service to be reviewed by the Viceroy.

In reply to Sir Patrick Playfair’s message the following telegram was received:

_Copy of a Telegram from U.S.V. to Sir Patrick Playfair, dated Bangalore, December 8, 1900._

The Viceroy will be very glad to take part in any reception that it may be possible to organise for Lumsden’s Horse on their return to Calcutta, and would gladly entertain them to lunch or in some other way; he consulted military department upon the subject a fortnight ago, but has received no reply; difficulty seems to be, first, that force is coming back in separate batches; second, that all of these do not come to Calcutta, one batch being due at Bombay December 24; it is for consideration whether it would be possible to invite the whole force to Calcutta and give them public reception, but there may be difficulties in this course.

About this time the Executive Committee received a most gratifying tribute to the reputation that the contingent had made for itself in South Africa. This was an intimation that Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund had voted 500_l._, under the rules of the institution, towards the expenses of Lumsden’s Horse in acknowledgment of their services to the Empire. A cheque for this generous amount had been forwarded to the Government of India.


_Photo: A. Saché & Co._ J.S. COWEN ]

Taking up again the thread of events, Major Neville Taylor tells the story of the voyage from Cape Town to Bombay in his own cheery way:

We had no horses to look after and no drill; no saddles or rifles, but plenty of accommodation for the men. I think everyone enjoyed the rest immensely.

Proceeding to Durban, we picked up most of the men who had left on urgent private affairs in the ‘Catalonia,’ which had been unexpectedly stopped at Durban. After the rough living of the veldt, the good feeding on board ship was very welcome, and rapidly told its tale in the condition of the men. Before leaving Cape Town, the Colonel had authorised the purchase of extra stores for the men out of the corps funds. Two or three evenings every week were wiled away with sing-songs, and many hours of each day devoted to sport of some sort. These gave Trooper J.S. Cowen, the regimental artist, many opportunities of adding character sketches to the portfolio that was already well filled with subjects from the war. On Christmas Day the men had a really good dinner, and the officers were the guests of Captain Wallace, the kind veteran commander of our ship, the ‘Atlantian.’ After a very lively voyage, during which but one ship was sighted since the South African coast sank below the horizon, we drew near the land of Hindustan once more. A day or so before our arrival everyone was very busy putting things clean and straight. On the morning of December 31 we came in sight of the mark-boat, which was gaily dressed with flags in our honour and gave us a salute with her gun. This was the first hint we had of the enthusiastic reception awaiting us in India. As soon as anchor was dropped, we officers received an invitation from the General to lunch with him at the Yacht Club, and an intimation that the men were all to land at 5 P.M.

On December 26, Brigadier-General Ventris, Commanding at Bombay, had issued the following Garrison Order:

In connection with the expected arrival of Lumsden’s Horse from South Africa per transport ‘Atlantian’ on or about the 28th inst., the Officers commanding 2nd Bombay Grenadiers and 21st Bombay Infantry will be good enough to detail their bands to be in attendance at the Ballard Pier at 8 A.M. (on date to be hereafter notified).

All Officers of the Garrison, Regular and Volunteers, are invited to be present.

Dress.—Review order, summer clothing.

The following appeared in the District Orders for the next day:

On the arrival of Lumsden’s Horse they will be marched from the Ballard Pier to Victoria Terminus, _viâ_ Elphinstone Circle, Church Gate Street, and Hornby Road.

The troops and Volunteers in garrison will line each side of Hornby Road from the Floral Fountain to Victoria Terminus in the following order, on Friday, the 28th inst., commencing at the Floral Fountain: Royal Garrison Artillery; Norfolk Regiment (Detachment at Colaba); 2nd Bombay Grenadiers; 21st Bombay Infantry; Bombay Volunteer Artillery; Bombay Volunteer Rifles; and 1st B.B. & C.I. Railway Volunteer Rifle Corps.

The Bombay Light Horse will, if possible, furnish a mounted escort.

The Regular troops will rendezvous at the Floral Fountain and the Volunteers at the Victoria Terminus at 7.30 A.M. As Lumsden’s Horse pass, troops should shoulder arms. When they have reached Victoria Terminus troops may march to quarters.

Dress.—Review order, summer clothing.

The signal for the arrival of the transport ‘Atlantian’ with Lumsden’s Horse on board will be four guns to be fired from the Saluting Battery.

Officers commanding corps are requested to have someone at the Saluting Battery up to 6 A.M. on the 28th inst., to ascertain if the transport is signalled. Should the steamer be signalled after 6 A.M. the parade will not take place till the 29th inst. at the same hour.

The ‘Atlantian,’ however, did not reach Bombay Harbour until 7 A.M. on December 31, with the following officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of Lumsden’s Horse on board:

Colonel Lumsden, Captain and Adjutant Taylor, Captain Beresford, Captain Noblett, Captain Holmes, Surgeon-Captain Powell. Staff—Regimental Sergeant-Major Hewitt, Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant Dale, Staff-Sergeant Stephens, Farrier-Sergeant Marshall, Farrier-Sergeant Edwards, Pay-Sergeant Fraser, Orderly-Room Sergeant Graves, Sergeant Longman, Lance-Sergeant S.S. Cuthbert, Saddler Briggs, Privates Lowe, Lee, and Hayward. A Company—Company Sergeant-Major Mansfield, Company Quartermaster-Sergeant Booth, Sergeants Fox, Llewhellin, Stowell, Donald, and Rutherfoord, Corporal Macgillivray, Lance-Corporals Lemon and Godden, Privates E.S. Clifford, F.M. Clifford, C.H.M. Johnstone, Corbett, Dickens, Bradford, Cowen, Webbe, Kennedy, Courtenay, Zorab, Renny, Ritchie, Gordon, Atkinson, Watson, Brown, Henry, Allan, Aldis, John, Newton, Reid, Campbell, Bell, Macdonald, Haines, Smith, Hughes, Tancred, Bolst, Burnand, Dowd, and Palmer; Transport-Sergeant Power, Privates Lovegrove, Doyle, Manville, Paxton, Daly, and Scott; and Lance-Corporal Wheeler. B Company—Sergeant Conduit, Lance-Sergeant Warburton, Corporal Jackman, Privates Nicolay, Bagge, Innes, Williams, Nolan, Betts, Turner, Powis, Thelwall, Lytle, Spicer, Lungley, Winder, Dexter, Martin, Moorhouse, Maxwell, and Allardice; Transport-Sergeant Smith, Privates Rice, Crux, Meares, Rust, and Quartermaster-Sergeant Morris.

Before going on shore at Bombay, Colonel Lumsden received the following telegram from Sir Patrick Playfair, C.I.E., Chairman of the Calcutta Reception Committee:

The people of Calcutta bid you and your gallant corps welcome. They are proud of the way in which Lumsden’s Horse has represented India against Britain’s enemies. They wish to do you honour on arrival in Calcutta. You will be given a public reception, and the military bands will play you into your camp. It is proposed that your corps should take part in the Proclamation Parade on the morning of January 1, and then attend a special Divine Service at the Cathedral. His Excellency the Viceroy will entertain the corps at luncheon on Wednesday, January 2, and the reception committee are organising an evening party in the Town Hall for the night of the same day.

[Illustration: W.H. NICOLAY]

[Illustration: A. ATKINSON]

[Illustration: C.H. JOHNSTONE]

[Illustration: G. SMITH]

[Illustration: SERGT. J. BRENNAN]

[Illustration: N.V. REID]

[Illustration: W.R. WINDER]

[Illustration: R.M. CRUX]

[Illustration: L.K. ZORAB]


Sir Patrick Playfair supplemented his telegram by a characteristically cordial letter which Colonel Lumsden found also awaiting him when the ‘Atlantian’ reached Bombay two days later:

Calcutta: December 24, 1900.

MY DEAR LUMSDEN,—Welcome back to India! You and your gallant men have done splendid service, of which your countrymen in India, and your native friends here, are justly proud, and you will have a great reception. Owing to the numbers that wish to give you and the members of your corps a hearty welcome, it may not be possible to inaugurate a public banquet, and the alternative may be a reception in the Town Hall on the evening of the 1st if His Excellency the Viceroy can be present after the State dinner at Government House.

The Viceroy is taking the keenest interest in the return of the corps, and is considering what had best be done. He has expressed his wish to give the corps a luncheon at Government House.

It is suggested that you should arrive here on the evening of the 31st or at dawn of the 1st, and be accommodated in camp on the Maidan and take part in the Proclamation Parade on the morning of the 1st, attend a short service in the Cathedral, and have a reception in the Town Hall in the evening.

A meeting has been called, to be held in the rooms of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, the 26th, to form a Reception Committee.

You will be brought across at Government expense, and when in camp the corps will draw ration pay, and the Executive Committee of Lumsden’s Horse will arrange as formerly for your food while in camp.

It is to be hoped that all the members of your corps will come across; and the Viceroy is further desirous that members of the corps who have already returned to India and taken their discharge should be invited to come to Calcutta and take part in the parade and public demonstration. I am, therefore, communicating with those members who have already returned to India, so far as I am aware of their names and addresses.

The corps will be disbanded here, and the members will receive warrants for railway fare to their homes.

Expenses connected with the public reception of the corps will be met independently of the Lumsden’s Horse Fund. There is a balance here of about Rs. 14,000 at credit of the fund. From your telegram received from Durban—for which I thank you—we infer that you are returning with about Rs. 40,000. The settlement of account for horses originally contributed by troopers to the corps has yet to be made. This is rather a large item. If the above balances be left, there should be a fair sum at the disposal of the corps after liabilities are met.

Messrs. King, King, & Co. have kindly undertaken to have _sola topees_ waiting your arrival, as requested by telegram, and also to deliver letters on board.

I am asking King, King, & Co. to wire to me whenever the steamer is sighted, and again so soon as they ascertain how many of the corps are with you—officers and men—on board. This is necessary and desired, as there is some inconsistency between the military telegraphic information and that received by me from you with regard to your numbers.

Let me know the date and hour when you will leave Bombay, and the date and hour when you will reach Howrah; also where, and on what dates, telegrams will reach you when crossing India.

I shall not ascertain the programme and details of your reception until after the 27th, and I shall have to wire all this.

Bombay may wish to entertain you, and in accepting their hospitality be sure that their arrangements will bring you to Calcutta in time to take part in the Proclamation Parade on the Maidan on the morning of January 1.

It is doubtful if we can mount you. That remains to be seen. If we cannot do so, the corps must march past, and will probably be formed into a guard of honour to His Excellency thereafter.

Have you got your arms with you?

Is there anything in the matter of furnishing that the members of the corps require on arrival?

I shall be very glad to see you, old fellow, and join in the hurrahs that are waiting for you.

Please remember me to all your officers and to the members of the corps.

I may write to you again to-morrow, but I cannot delay a letter any longer in case my communication should miss you.

With the warmest greetings to you and your gallant officers and men, and wishing you all a Merry Christmas,

Believe me,

Yours sincerely,


Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden (Lumsden’s Horse), Bombay.

Colonel Lumsden replied, December 31, 1900:

On behalf my corps please offer my best thanks to people of Calcutta for promised reception. Much regret we have arrived too late to join in Proclamation Parade. Our numbers are seven officers and eighty-nine men. No arms. Our train leaves Bombay 7 to-night, timed arrive Calcutta 6 P.M. Wednesday.

The luncheon was a delightful success, as it always is at the Yacht Club. Then all officers went on board and the official disembarkation was got through.

The ‘Times of India’ of January 1, 1901, had the following:

Among those present at the Bunder when the troops arrived from the ‘Atlantian’ were: His Excellency Lord Northcote, Governor of Bombay; Brigadier-General F. Ventris, Commanding the Bombay District; Lieutenant-Colonel R. Owen, Military Secretary to Lord Northcote; Captain Greig, A.D.C.; Colonel Riddell, Assistant Adjutant-General; Major Butcher, Commanding R.A., Colaba; Captain Oldfield, R.A., Captain Edwardes, Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General; the Honourable Mr. Justice Crowe; the Honourable Mr. S.M. Moses; the Honourable Mr. John R. Greaves; Major A. Leslie, Bombay Volunteer Artillery; Major Soundy, V.D., Bombay Volunteer Rifles; Major Fowle, R.A.; Captain Browne; Lieutenant G.W. Moir, Bombay Light Horse; Captain Stoddart, B.V.A.; Lieutenant Robertson, R.A.; Captain J. Leash, Captain Savage, Captain Rogers, Lieutenant Deane, Lieutenant Sharp, Lieutenant Wilkinson, Lieutenant Moens, and Lieutenant Greaves, all of the Bombay Volunteer Rifles; Prince Samatsingji of Palitana, the Nawab of Radhanpore, and others.

Outside the Bunder shed were drawn up twenty men of the Governor’s Bodyguard, and a detachment of the Bombay Light Horse under the command of Lieutenant G.W. Moir.

The men belonging to Lumsden’s Horse left the ‘Atlantian’ in two Government troop-boats, and landed at the Ballard Pier at 5 P.M., where they were given a cordial welcome by the Bombay Volunteers and the general public, who had assembled at the pierhead in large numbers. They were loudly cheered, and, forming fours, were marched through the shed to the pavilion, in front of which stood the Governor, Lord Northcote. Brigadier-General Ventris presented Colonel Lumsden to His Excellency who cordially greeted him. The men took up their position outside the shed, where they were inspected by Lord Northcote.

The Governor then addressed the men in front of a large gathering of spectators. He said: The present opportunity is one that it gives me great pleasure to avail myself of to extend, on behalf of the Bombay Presidency, a most cordial welcome to you, members of the gallant band, some 281 strong, I believe, who left India some ten months ago to serve our Queen-Empress in South Africa. We have followed with the deepest interest the fortunes of your gallant corps, and we have read with pride and pleasure the testimony that has been borne to your valour and your service by Dr. Conan Doyle in his history of the war and from many other sources. We read with pride and pleasure how you gentlemen, sacrificing your ease and comforts and the luxuries of your Eastern life, went forth to do your duty to your country in South Africa—an object-lesson of patriotism to the Empire, and worthily maintaining the traditions of Outram’s Volunteers. Well indeed have the members of Lumsden’s Horse merited the warm eulogium which the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa paid to you. Most truly did the Viceroy say that the whole of India would greet your return with enthusiasm. You gave us in your first fight a taste of the stuff of which you were made when you cut your way through superior forces, one detachment of you having been surrounded; and you won our admiration by your return when, after losing a large percentage of your number, every member came back with marks of bullets on him. That was but one incident of your career of honour throughout the campaign. This is not the occasion for anything in the nature of a long speech. You are about to proceed to Calcutta, where you will receive a more formal, but not a more hearty, welcome than we in Bombay extend to you to-day. We in Bombay have seen too many valiant soldiers, both Native and European, go forth from time to time to serve the Queen-Empress, not to seize with pride and pleasure every opportunity of welcoming them back again. It is with interest that we learn that many of you remain to colonise and develop those countries which you have aided to enfranchise. Some of your comrades, alas! sleep their last, an honoured sleep, beneath the South African veldt. They were men who held their lives as naught when it came to sealing their loyalty with their life’s blood. To their memory be all honour and all gratitude paid by their fellows in India. You, gentlemen, I will repeat once more, have our heartiest congratulation and our warmest welcome.

Colonel Lumsden, in reply, said: On behalf of the corps which I have the honour to command, let me offer you our warmest thanks and gratitude for the very kind and cordial reception you have given us to-day. I believe the present war was the first which had the honour of calling out the Volunteers from across the seas, and we as the few who represented India feel with deep respect and gratitude the warm welcome you have given us on our return. Gentlemen (turning to his men), I cannot make a long speech, but I ask you all to give three cheers for the Governor and the residents of Bombay for having given us such a hearty welcome.

The members of the corps responded to the call lustily, and the crowd answered again with three cheers for Lumsden’s Horse.

A few brief orders, and the procession formed to march to the station. It was headed by the Bodyguard and the Governor’s carriage as far as the Floral Fountain. The band of the B.V.A. then led the way, followed by the Bombay Light Horse and Lumsden’s Horse. Behind these came numbers of carriages, and on either side pressed a crowd that seemed unable to show its enthusiasm sufficiently. From the offices of the Port Trust, by Elphinstone Circle and along Hornby Road, every window was occupied. Handkerchiefs were to be seen waving on all sides, until even the walls of the houses seemed to awake to the wonder of the scene. After all, it was one such as India has rarely witnessed. The Imperial instinct was aroused. The handful of men following the Colonel they had bravely followed through all the chances and changes of war, by whom they had stood for the sake of their country while the bullets whistled and carried death around, were the embodiment of a great idea, a noble sentiment. And the people saw and appreciated. The crowd that had assembled to await the arrival of the troops as they passed along joined in the march. Some pressed eagerly to speak to the warriors—most were content to realise what it meant, this wave of patriotism. The band in front changed the march tune. The music seemed to become more jubilant as the great mass of soldiers and people swung along in step. Bombay was rejoicing in very truth. The banners hung out from the buildings told of it. The spirit of gladness pervaded everything. Here was a grand ending of the old year. What would the new year bring? A detachment of the Bodyguard had formed a line outside the Victoria Terminus. The Bombay Light Horse took up a position alongside. The band of one of the Native regiments played a welcome, and under the portico Lumsden’s Horse tramped in, followed by an enormous crowd. The officers of the garrison had arranged to give the corps dinner in the refreshment-room. When the meal was over the guests were fairly besieged. In the station itself it seemed as if thousands of spectators had assembled. They shook hands with Lumsden’s men. ‘Welcome,’ ‘Good Luck,’ and ‘A Happy New Year’ were heard everywhere. It was a great day—one worth waiting for. As the train steamed out of the station the building resounded again and again with the cheering. On the line detonators sounded a parting salute, and the crowd, now hoarse with shouting, dispersed.

Major Taylor also deals with these incidents briefly, and then carries on a lively narrative up to the hour when Lumsden’s Horse, having made a record journey across India, arrived at Calcutta:

When the troops landed there was a great crowd with bands playing. The Governor (Lord Northcote) made us a speech full of kindly references and good wishes as he bade us welcome home. The corps then marched with the band and an enthusiastic throng—among which numbers of Parsees were particularly prominent—to the railway station. There all Lumsden’s Horse found themselves the honoured guests of the Bombay Garrison, officers of the Regulars and Volunteers having combined, with the most gratifying unanimity, to give us festive welcome. All the regimental and private baggage had been taken over by our kind hosts and put on the train, so that all the men had to do was just to march into the train. Great enthusiasm prevailed. The fine band of a Native regiment (the 21st Bombay Infantry) played us off, and so, amid much cheering, the train steamed out, firing a salute in our honour as it passed over lines on which detonating signals had been placed at regular intervals. About 10 o’clock at night we passed a Volunteer camp and stopped at the station, where bands were playing. The whole force from camp was paraded on the platform, a great honour at that time of night. Then we went on again at full speed, stopping only for meals at stations, which were dressed gaily with flags, and at each of these bands of sorts assembled, and we were entertained free of cost. One halt was called at a very small station, but even there we were escorted from the train to the dining-tent by the best band they had. It was native and local, its instruments being one big drum, two kettledrums, three flutes, two penny whistles. That was all they could do, but they did it. Their desire to honour us was evident, though their means were small—except the big drum—and this demonstration touched us perhaps even more than the most elaborate ceremonials prepared for our reception. Eventually, at about 7 o’clock, we reached Calcutta, having performed the journey in record time, which was due entirely to the skill, kindness, and courtesy of Mr. T.R. Wynne, manager of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway, who caused all other traffic to be shunted wherever necessary in order that Lumsden’s Horse might keep faith with the multitude of friends who were waiting to welcome them in the city from which they had set out.

The following orders were issued by the military authorities at Army Headquarters:

Lumsden’s Horse will be accorded a public reception on their arrival in Calcutta at about 4 P.M. on January 2.

The General Officer Commanding and Staff will meet Lumsden’s Horse at Howrah station; regimental and departmental officers not on duty are invited to attend. Dress: drill order, serge.

Lieutenant-Colonel Swaine, R.I.R., will command the troops; Staff Officers, Major Carpendale and Captain Hill.

The following arrangements will be made at Howrah:

On the arrival of Lumsden’s Horse a procession will be formed. The Calcutta Light Horse will form the advanced guard, followed by the 14th Bengal Lancers. Regimental bands will follow in the following order: 2nd Madras Infantry, 7th Bengal Infantry, Royal Irish Rifles Volunteers. Then will follow General Officer Commanding and Staff and Lumsden’s Horse. The several Volunteer corps will be formed up in line in the order hereinafter detailed, with ranks opened and facing inwards to form a lane, and as the procession passes they will in succession ‘shoulder arms.’ On Lumsden’s Horse passing the Calcutta Port Defence Volunteers, the several Volunteer corps will join in the procession in the order in which they are standing.

The units will be formed in the following order, commencing from Howrah station: E.I.R. Volunteers, E.B.S.R. Volunteers, 3rd Battalion C.V.R., 2nd Battalion C.V.R., 1st Battalion C.V.R., Cossipur Artillery Volunteers, C.P.D. Volunteers.

The procession will proceed along the following route: Hugli Bridge, Strand Road, Clive Ghat Street, Clive Street, Dalhousie Square North, Dalhousie Square East, Old Court House Street, the Lawrence Monument, to Lumsden’s Horse Camp pitched on the Maidan between Calcutta and Plassey Gates.

The Fort William Garrison will line the route from Government Place to the camp in the following order: 20th Bombay Infantry, 2nd Madras Infantry, Royal Irish Rifles, No. 9 Company E.O.R.G.A., 45th Battery R.F.A.

On Lumsden’s Horse reaching their camp, officers commanding corps will form up independently and march to quarters. Should the arrival of Lumsden’s Horse be delayed till after dark, torches will be provided, with reference to which subsidiary orders will be issued.

Definite information as to the time of arrival will be circulated at noon on January 2.

Corps should be in position twenty minutes before the train is due.

The Chief Commissariat Officer will provide transport for the baggage of Lumsden’s Horse, and the 7th Bengal Infantry will furnish an escort of a N.C.O. and twelve men to escort the baggage from Howrah to Camp.

By order,


Officiating Garrison Quartermaster.

In substitution of the memo, bearing the same date:

Officers attending the reception at the Town Hall in honour of Lumsden’s Horse on the evening of January 2 will wear mess dress.

Officers who have been invited as guests by His Excellency the Viceroy to luncheon on January 3, to meet Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden and officers and men of Lumsden’s Horse, will appear in drill order. (Mounted officers, undress overalls and Wellington boots.)

By order,

E.R. ELLES, Major-General,

Adjutant-General in India.

Army Headquarters, Fort William: December 31, 1900.

Major Carpendale, of the Bombay Cavalry, acting as Garrison Quartermaster, with great kindness took upon himself all arrangements for the camp. This was pitched on the glacis of Fort William, overlooking the broad Maidan, and provided with every necessary article of equipment, the mess tents and others being in all respects complete and comfortable. The following appeared in the ‘Englishman’ of January 3, 1901:

Punctually at 5.30 yesterday evening, the time previously announced for its arrival, the eagerly awaited train bringing Lumsden’s Horse from Bombay, drew up alongside the new arrival platform of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway Company at Howrah. The scene which the station presented to the returning Volunteers must have struck those who were not wrapt up in more important personal concerns as exceptionally bright and picturesque. The Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal (His Honour Sir John Woodburn) paid to the corps and its commanding officer the great compliment of coming with his Staff and a brilliant escort to receive them at the station. Outside, where the Bengal Lancers in their striking uniforms, with pennons flying, together with the Calcutta Light Horse, were drawn up, were long rows of tall Venetian masts, from which strings of gaily coloured flags fluttered. ‘Welcome’ in bold white letters on a groundwork of red appeared as the chief feature of an ornamental arch facing the entrance. The roof of the platform itself and the pillars were most tastefully decorated with festoons of evergreens and arrangements of bunting. When mention is also made of the ladies occupying specially erected stands on either side of the gateway, and of the large and representative assembly of officials, military and civilian, gathered, sufficient has been said to warrant the men of Lumsden’s Horse, as they looked out from the carriage windows, feeling that Calcutta was not unmindful of them and had prepared a fitting reception. As the coaches came to a standstill the friends of the ‘boys in khaki’ flocked round to bid them welcome by a hearty grip of the hand, to exchange greetings and news. There were no scenes. Britons do not, as a rule, make public parade of their deepest feelings. The occasion, moreover, was a gladsome one, and it did all present good to note the magnificently robust health of the men displayed in their sturdy figures and ruddy and bronzed faces; all looked remarkably fit, and none more so than the gallant Colonel himself, who was first to step from his carriage. He at once walked towards the group where the Lieutenant-Governor, Bishop Welldon, General Leach, and other distinguished personages were standing. After a course of hand-shaking, the Colonel directed his attention to the detraining of his men. Soon they were busily engaged in getting out their kits. When this task was accomplished, they were formed into line and His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor said:

Colonel Lumsden,—The citizens of Calcutta give you and your gallant men of the Indian contingent a very hearty and enthusiastic welcome. You have had a hard time abroad, and suffered great privations. But I should like you to know that your career has been followed by those left behind in Calcutta with the greatest admiration and pride. Gentlemen all, let us give Colonel Lumsden and his gallant men three hearty cheers.

Needless to say there was a quick and cheerful response to this request, and before it had quite subsided Sir John called for ‘one cheer more,’ which was given with equal heartiness. Colonel Lumsden, in a voice the huskiness of which betokened the depth of his feelings, called on the men of the Indian contingent to respond with ‘three cheers for the Lieutenant-Governor.’ Their effort emphasised the fact that in lung power and appreciation for Sir John Woodburn their trip to South Africa had effected no deteriorating influences, nor was there anything wanting in the worth of the response to the gallant Colonel’s call for ‘one more for the citizens of Calcutta.’ The men then formed fours and marched out to receive the welcome of the thousands collected round the approaches to the station and along the route.

Among those present on the platform were: The Hon. Mr. Cotton, Chief Commissioner of Assam (now Sir Henry Cotton, K.C.S.I.); General Leach, commanding Presidency District; the Most Rev. Dr. Welldon, Metropolitan of India and Lord Bishop of Calcutta; Major the Hon. E. Baring, Military Secretary to the Viceroy; Sir Patrick Playfair; Mr. R.T. Greer, Chairman of the Calcutta Corporation; Rev. Mr. Jackson; Mr. Harry Stuart; Mr. Apjohn, Vice-Chairman Port Commissioners; Major Harington, Commandant Artillery Company C.P.D.V.; Captain Bradshaw, Artillery Company C.P.D.V.; Major Churchill, commanding 9th E.D.G.R.A.; Captain Deverill; Lieutenant-Colonel Meade, Officiating Commandant Calcutta Volunteer Rifles; Dr. J. Neild Cook, Health Officer; Mr. Dring, Agent E.I. Railway; Major Cooper, C.V. Rifles; Colonel Master, Assistant Adjutant-General; Captain Iggulden, Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General; Mr. H.M. Rustomjee, and a host of others.

It was about a quarter to 6, the dusk just merging into dark, when the picturesque procession swung over the bridge. The Calcutta Light Horse, neat and trim, sitting firmly in their saddles, composed the van. The Native Cavalry from Alipur followed—great black-bearded men mounted on fretting horses; then the bands of four regiments, the 2nd Madrasis, the 20th Bombay Infantry, the Royal Irish Rifles, and the Calcutta Volunteers. Immediately behind were Lumsden’s Horse—on foot. The bridge and its approaches were packed with seething masses of people, who were with difficulty restrained from breaking through the ranks of the Calcutta Port Defence and the Rifle Volunteers who lined each side of the roadway and brought up the rear of the procession after Lumsden’s Horse had passed through.

On the Calcutta side of the bridge a novel element was introduced, the flanks of the column being illuminated by numbers of men carrying acetylene lamps on poles—a very efficient substitute for torches. The route taken was almost an historic one, for by it all our great Viceroys have entered Calcutta; but it may safely be said that never have the Strand Road, Clive Road, and that stretch flanked by magnificent buildings which leads direct to the Maidan, witnessed scenes of more moving enthusiasm than when Lumsden’s Horse, after perils oft and tribulations, came marching home again. From Howrah to the camp on the Maidan the roadway and buildings beside were lined with the densest masses of humanity the eye can conceive. The spectacle was a striking illustration of the variety and numbers of the population of Calcutta. Naturally the crowds were thickest in the northern part of the route, where the close-packed Native city contributed its thousands, but even in the more European part of the town one wondered whence the sightseers had come. It is probably no exaggeration to say that so large a multitude of civilian Europeans has never before been drawn together for a similar demonstration in the East.

The decorations were most tasteful, especially down Dalhousie Square South and Old Court House Street, where the larger shops were brilliantly lighted behind the groups of well-dressed people who thronged the verandahs and balconies. Partly because the Oriental is by nature averse to violent demonstration, and partly because there does not exist in India that class which ‘mafficks’ in London streets, there was never any real roar of sustained cheering, but there could be no mistaking the reality and fervour of the emotion that shook the crowd as the returning warriors marched along. Besides, no man of Lumsden’s Horse could have regretted the absence of that which made more touching felicitations possible. The repression of the masculine desire to express feelings by making a noise afforded the feminine element an opportunity of extending a pretty and graceful welcome by waving handkerchiefs and little flags, and uttering with each flutter some tiny cry of admiration and delight, which reached distinctly the ears of those for whom it was meant. The second part of the route was lined by the troops in garrison, including the battery from Barrackpur. Along the Maidan roads down to the camp the crowds were the least dense, but represented the most wealthy sections of the community. In dealing with them there was not the same necessity for police supervision, and if people broke through the line of soldiers, rushing forward to welcome their friends in the ranks, and escorted them to the camp, why, no harm was done. Indeed, unrehearsed incidents of this kind added the final touch to the heartiness and friendliness of India’s greeting to those who had fought for our Empire in a far country. When the long procession drew near Government House in the gathering darkness, H.E. the Viceroy and Lady Curzon, with their children and a large number of the Viceregal Staff, walked to the south-east gate, and, standing on the roadway, waved a welcome to the corps as it marched past. The roads on each side, and hence through the Maidan skirting Eden Gardens, were lined by companies of the Royal Irish Rifles. Of course, the appearance and bearing of the Volunteers whom all had assembled to honour were keenly watched. The men had grown leaner and browner than when they sailed away, and their marching was in strong contrast to the stiff upright gait of the Port Defence Volunteers behind them. It happens that in the stern, actual business of war men learn to grasp only essentials. These returning soldiers had plumbed the realities of life. Hunger they had known, and thirst, and heat, and cold, and wounds, and the ever-present risk of death. In such conditions the formalities that surround the British Army in peace time drop away. Soldiers learn—and their officers too—that, for instance, it matters not how one marches so long as one does march. Thus it is that Lumsden’s Horse came through the streets of Calcutta with bodies swinging carelessly forward, with eyes eager and roving instead of being fixed at ‘attention,’ with ranks loosened instead of being set in compact stiffness. It has sometimes been said that war spoils men for drill. But it is something that the Volunteer ranks in India have been leavened by men who know what campaigning is really like. The feeling of those Calcutta Volunteers who assisted in the procession was thus partly one of pride, for were not Lumsden’s Horse also of themselves, and partly of prospective gratitude, for had not the successes of their comrades in the great war opened the way for their own employment also? No longer can it be said that unless Volunteers attain an irreproachable precision in drill and smartness in bearing they are useless as fighting men.

Large crowds of well-dressed persons, natives, and equipages of all descriptions followed the corps up to the camp, where gunners of the 45th Field Battery lined the way. On arrival there three hearty cheers were given for the men of Lumsden’s Horse, the cheers being repeated over and over till the men were dismissed. In camp the scene was an animated one. Men of the corps, singly and in groups, were centres of attraction to friends and strangers alike. Conversation was free, eager questions being good-humouredly answered, and questions repeated and answered over and over again. The scene was well illuminated. A well-ordered little camp of twenty tents has been pitched on the old cricket ground of the Calcutta Cricket Club, exactly south of the Eden Gardens. The camp has been furnished in ordinary military style and is pitched in rows of three, with one tent for the officers of the corps, a large mess tent, a canteen, and the usual necessaries. Camp furniture only is allowed, consisting of a wooden folding-bed with a straw mattress and pillow, and a few zinc tubs and basins for lavatory purposes. The mess tent consists of four fly tents, open at the sides, with a long table, big enough to accommodate a hundred hungry men, running along its entire length.

After dinner, the men were formed up at 8.45 P.M. and marched into the Town Hall, where they arrived at 9 P.M. After a short stay downstairs they were ordered upstairs, where a most brilliant reception awaited them.

This evening reception at the Town Hall was an entire success. The decorations of the hall were most elaborate and characterised by great taste.

On the landing upstairs, in addition to greenery in profusion, a number of naval 9-pounders and a Hotchkiss machine gun, Nordenfeldts and Maxims were arranged to form a central group, all these being flanked by a number of small ancient ship’s brass cannons and howitzers.

A daïs was erected in the centre of the hall, facing the main entrance, which was occupied by His Excellency the Viceroy, Lady Curzon, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, the Commander-in-Chief, General Leach, Sir E. Buck, Bishop Welldon, Sir F. Maclean, Lady Jenkins, and others, while the space in front was roped off, and here stood in lines the members of Lumsden’s Horse, whose Colonel, as the Viceroy’s party passed through, presented to His Excellency every officer of the corps in turn. No time was lost, after the arrival of Lord and Lady Curzon, in proceeding with the object of the gathering.

His Excellency the Viceroy said:

Colonel Lumsden, Officers and Men of Lumsden’s Horse,—It is not yet a year since I was bidding you farewell at Kidderpur Docks. You had appointed me the Honorary Colonel of a corps of Volunteers that had never seen warfare, but that was starting out at the call of duty, and in many cases at great personal sacrifice, to fight for the Queen and the Empire. Now you have come back, the war-stained and laurel-crowned veterans of a long and arduous campaign; and we are all here this evening to welcome you home and to do you honour. I, your Honorary Colonel, am as proud of you as if I had been through the campaign at your side, which being a man of peace I am very glad to think that I was not called upon to do; and all of us here, the citizens of Calcutta who subscribed to your outgoing, and have kept a watch upon you ever since, feel a sort of parental glow at receiving back again our one corps of Indian Volunteers to South Africa, who have shown that the Englishman in India is not one whit behind his countrymen at home or his cousin in the Colonies in daring and risking and suffering for the flag that waves above us all.

For we know well through what hardships and experiences you have passed since you steamed away down the Hugli in February last. The one characteristic that has struck me most in this South African campaign has been the physical strain and suffering which it has imposed. We have robbed travel and sport and adventure nowadays of most of their roughness, but war, even when your enemy is out of sight, and you scarcely ever set eyes upon him, though it has lost in romance, has not lost, nay—I think it has gained—in peril and privation. We have followed you in your breathless marches across the dismal veldt, in your assaults upon those deadly kopjes, in your days of endurance and fighting, in your grim nights under the cold stars. We have commiserated you when some of your number were taken prisoners, but we were consoled when we heard that you were more frequently the pursuers than the pursued, that you captured far more of the enemy than the enemy did of you. We felt a thrill of pleasure when you were praised by the Generals and, above all, by the brave old Field-Marshal who knew what our men from India could do; and when you were publicly thanked in despatches we all of us felt as if our own names had appeared in the ‘Birthday Gazette.’ One thousand five hundred miles of marching, twenty-nine actions of one kind or another—and all this in the space of ten months. This is not a bad record for our pioneer body of Indian Volunteers.

I was delighted, Colonel Lumsden, that in one respect you most strictly obeyed the final instructions which as your Commanding Officer, in mufti, I ventured to address to you in February of last year. I urged you and your men to be there or thereabouts when the British forces entered Pretoria. Knowing your keen sense of discipline, it was with no surprise that I learned that on June 5 Lumsden’s Horse marched into that place in the van of Lord Roberts’s occupying force. I only regret that I did not issue a few more timely injunctions to you, such, for instance, as the capture of General De Wet, since I have little doubt that you would have carried them out to the letter.

There was one other remark that I made a year ago to which I must allude. I said that there were some among those whom I was addressing who might have to face the supreme peril without which war cannot be waged. You all of you carried your lives in your hands, and a few of your number have handed in your cheques at the great audit. But we rejoice that it was only a few—a brave and heroic fraction, but still only a fraction. You lost your second in command, the gallant Major Showers, whom Nature had intended for a soldier and whom destiny in his first encounter claimed as a hero. But besides him only five others were killed, while two only died of disease in the entire campaign. Indeed, the total casualties were fewer than twenty-four, which in a force of over 250 men is, I think, a very remarkable result. I doubt not that all the rest of you have often faced death, and that many have triumphed over disease. So much the more cause is there for satisfaction at coming back on your part and for rejoicing on ours.

Colonel Lumsden, I am only addressing less than one half of the force that mustered before me a year ago. Some have stayed behind in Africa to continue, in the Regular Army, in the police, or in civil appointments, the good service which they have rendered during the past ten months. Though they are far away, and have cut the painter from India, we include them in our gratitude and well-wishes to-night. Others have already gone back to their Indian homes, and have been unable to attend here to-day. We honour them in honouring you. In their distant plantations or in their employments, wherever they may be, possibly they will read of this gathering, and will know that they equally have their places in our reception. As for the rest of those here present, you, Colonel Lumsden, will always have the pride of recollecting that it was to your initiative and liberality that this corps owed its being, and that in the history of the war it bore your name with credit and without a stain; while you, officers and men, as you revert to your several avocations in civil life, and as the past year fades into a hazy dream, will never forget that at a critical moment in the fortunes of your country you came forward, and staked much, endured much, and wrought much for the honour of the greatest thing on earth—namely, the British name.

Officers and men, it was a pride to me to bid you God-speed nearly a year ago. It is an inexpressible pleasure to me to welcome you back this evening, and to thank you, in the name of India, for what you have done in the service of the Empire.

Colonel Lumsden said: Your Excellency, your Honour, Ladies and Gentlemen,—I feel it, though a pleasure, a hard task to endeavour to express the feelings of my men and myself for the very hearty welcome we have received and the very kind speech which our Honorary Colonel the Viceroy has given us this evening. Our Honorary Colonel mentions, and with truth, his words of advice in speaking to us on leaving. We no doubt did our best to act up to it in every way, and I am sure, speaking for myself as leader, there was no difficulty to do so when followed by such men as I had. It was not altogether a party of pleasure. There were rough things and hard times, and I often feared that the Indian man, accustomed as he always is to the well-known _kai-hae_, would not take to the labour of the veldt as well as he did. I can assure your Excellency that never at any moment when things were at their worst did I hear a word that was not cheerful and pleasant from my men. We have been a fortunate corps in more ways than one. We have been specially fortunate in our health. As our Honorary Colonel remarked, only two men in the whole corps died of sickness. This I think shows in a great measure how well the soldiers were treated. There have been many complaints, I believe, in several quarters as to the treatment of the soldiers there. But taking the class of men I had to deal with, the small percentage of deaths from disease shows we had not much to complain about in that respect. We were fortunate also in our list of casualties. We were all very much touched by the Viceroy’s allusions to those who have gone. No better man existed than Major Showers, no greater loss could be felt by the corps than in his death. He died, I believe, as he often thought he would. He was a soldier to the backbone, and nothing pleased him better than being in the field. Five died besides Major Showers, giving a total of six altogether. That out of 250 men may be looked upon as a small percentage. On the whole, in spite of the hardships the men have gone through, I think there is not one, if the call to arms were sounded to-morrow, who would not love to go back again. We were greatly honoured at having the Viceroy as our Honorary Colonel, and that pleasure was deeply felt by the men and remained in their memory throughout the campaign. When any meed of praise was bestowed upon us one and all felt sure our Honorary Colonel would be pleased to hear of it. I cannot make a long speech to-night. I think the Viceroy himself touched upon most of the points of interest connected with the corps. I can only say how pleased we are with the reception we have got. When we landed in Bombay the Governor said a few kindly words. The streets were lined by thousands of people, and we had a welcome such as we can never forget. Another thing I would wish to touch upon. I think all the corps are proud of the number of commissions our men have got. For this we have entirely to thank the Field-Marshal the Commander-in-Chief. From start to finish there is no doubt his love of India led Lord Roberts to take a keen interest in our Indian corps. Our welcome to Calcutta to-day will, I am sure, sink deeply into all our hearts and be long remembered. I can only say on behalf of my officers and comrades that I thank you all deeply and sincerely. In doing so I feel certain I am expressing the gratitude of us all, not only for what we have received, but what I am told we have yet to receive. I thank you, Sir, very heartily indeed on behalf of the whole corps for the extremely kind way in which you have spoken of us and our work.

The temporary barriers having been removed, the men were soon busily engaged in conversation with their many friends and acquaintances. The band discoursed a bright selection of music for the remainder of the evening.

The ‘Englishman’ of Friday, January 4, 1901, contained the following:

Yesterday afternoon His Excellency the Viceroy and Lady Curzon entertained Colonel Lumsden and the officers and men of the Indian contingent to luncheon at Government House. The function took place in the Marble Hall. The officers and men of Lumsden’s Horse, who were in khaki, occupied two long tables running down the centre of the room at right angles to that at which the Viceroy sat. The floral decorations of the tables were of an exceptionally chaste and artistic character. On the verandah the members of the Viceroy’s band were located, and the most appropriate selection of national and patriotic music which they rendered contributed largely to the success of the luncheon. Ninety-two officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of Lumsden’s Horse were present, and with the guests and Viceroy’s Staff the total number sitting down to luncheon was 169. A pleasing feature of the luncheon was the presence of Lady Curzon and the following ladies: Lady Woodburn, Lady Palmer, Mrs. Harrington, Mrs. Tyler, Mrs. Laurence, Miss Trevor, and Miss Law. The list of guests also included: His Honour Sir John Woodburn, Sir Power Palmer, Sir Francis Maclean, the Metropolitan, Sir Edwin Collen, Sir Arthur Trevor, Sir Edward Law, Hon. Mr. Raleigh, Hon. Mr. Rivaz, Hon. Sir Henry Cotton, Sir Edward Elles, General Luck, General Maitland, Surgeon-General Harvey, General Wace, General Henry, General Dyce, Colonel Buckingham, Sir Patrick Playfair, Mr. Justice Harington, Sir Henry Prinsep, Sir Allan Arthur, Captains Taylor, Beresford, Noblett, Holmes, and Powell of Lumsden’s Horse, Hon. Mr. Bourdillon, Colonel Masters, Colonel Meade, Colonel MacLaughlin, Major Churchill, Colonel O’Donoghue, Captain Wilson, Commander Petley, Colonel Swaine, Major Hoore, Captain Bradshaw, Colonel Wynne, Major Ferror, Captain Ayerst, Rev. J. Hatton, Messrs. Stuart, Sutherland, Elworthy, Kerr, Tremearne, Woodroffe, Turner, Greer, and Apcar.

At the conclusion of the luncheon the toasts of ‘The Queen,’ ‘Colonel Lumsden, Officers and Men of Lumsden’s Horse,’ and ‘The Viceroy’ were enthusiastically honoured.

The same evening the members of Lumsden’s Horse marched to the Cathedral to attend a special thanksgiving service for their safe return. The congregation was a large and most representative one, and included their Excellencies Lord and Lady Curzon, Sir John and Lady Woodburn. The service was brief and bright, the musical portion predominating. The hymns, being well known, were taken up heartily by the congregation, and a magnificent rendering was given by the choir of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ to which result the inclusion of a number of ladies in the choir and an orchestral accompaniment largely contributed. The clergy present were the Metropolitan, Canons Luckman and Cogan, Revs. Brown, Gee, Nansen, Kitchen, Clarke, Wickens, Otley, and Campbell, The men of Lumsden’s Horse occupied the front pews, and at the conclusion of the service filed out immediately behind the choir and the clergy.

The following was the address which the Metropolitan delivered:

It is my privilege, brethren, to offer you in the house of God the words of welcome which have been in all hearts, and upon all lips, since your landing in India—the last words perhaps that shall be addressed to you as a military force. It was here on the fourteenth day of February last that you sought God’s blessing at a special service before setting sail for the war, and it is here by a natural consequence that you come again to render Him thanks on your return.

Brethren, we have followed you with earnest prayers in your long absence. There has not been a Sunday when we have not entreated God to bless you, and keep you safe, and to give victory to your arms, and to bring you home in peace. You will not say or think those prayers have been unheard. The memory of the friends who were far away, of their care for you, and their sympathy in your perils must often have been present to your minds. It may even have happened that you felt strengthened and inspired, as others have felt by the consciousness, of their intercession in your behalf.

Brethren, you have fought, not in a light cause, but for the Empire, whose members and citizens you are. You have been the witnesses, and in part the authors, of a new solidarity between the widely severed forces of the Empire. That solidarity is the great fact, the permanent result, of the war in South Africa. Its influence upon the destiny of mankind will be more and more declared in the new-born century. A new spirit of confederation has dawned upon the Empire, and it is your spirit, and the spirit of men such as you.

May I remind you of a sentence spoken by a high authority on a critical occasion in modern European history? Goethe relates that after the battle of Valmy, at which he was present, he was asked by his comrades in camp to pronounce an opinion upon its significance. He said—and his language may have seemed extravagant when he used it—‘From this place, and from this day forth, commences a new era in the world’s history, and you can all say that you were present at its birth.’ Brethren, the birthday of Imperial solidarity is likewise an event fraught with issues of untold power and moment for mankind; but that solidarity has been born in South Africa, and you can all say that you were present at its birth.

Once more you have realised, and we too, how great and solemn is the cost of an Imperial destiny. It is not by mere child’s play, but by sorrow, pain, and death, that a wide-world Empire, like a Universal Church, is achieved and maintained. You have hazarded your lives, some of your comrades have laid theirs down, for that high cause; and the issue of your sacrifice and theirs has been a solemnisation of the Empire in the last year. It has been good for us that we have known the reverses and anxieties which ennoble the ultimate victory. We have felt the hand of God laid upon us. You who have come home, and we who bid you so glad a welcome, shall spend the residue of our lives with an enhanced moral seriousness, with a more profound apprehension of the Providence which regulates and determines human ends.

Brethren, I shall not detain you longer in this holy place. Only let your home-coming be worthy of your warfare. There are dangers in peace as well as in war. Let the spirit, then, of your future lives be grave, responsible, temperate, sublime, as befits your religion and your race.

May the God of our fathers bless you all, and bring you all to Heaven!

The ‘Englishman’ of Monday, January 7, 1901, gave the following report of another interesting scene:

Immediately after the Thanksgiving Service held at the Cathedral on Thursday, the officers and men of our pioneer corps celebrated the closing function of their active military career. It took its form in a dinner given expressly by Colonel Lumsden, and the guests included Sir Patrick Playfair, the Hon. Mr. Buckingham, Colonel MacLaughlin, Mr. Harry Stuart, and several friends of the non-commissioned officers and men. After an excellent dinner supplied by Mr. Wallace, of the Italian Restaurant, who also catered for the corps prior to their departure in February last, the toast of the Queen was proposed and received with enthusiasm.

Private Turner, in a very apt little speech, then asked the Colonel if he would very kindly consent to present, on behalf of the men, to Sergeant-Major Hewitt, Quartermaster-Sergeant Dale, and Sergeant-Major Brennan, souvenirs to mark their appreciation of the admirable work done by these three non-commissioned officers. They always had the knack of taking the men the proper way. To Quartermaster-Sergeant Dale, _alias_ ‘Daddy,’ or ‘Bobby’ Dale, was due the excellent form in which the men found themselves. They looked none the worse for their trying marches and watchful nights simply because the man in charge of the food arrangements was Dale. Colonel Lumsden said he had much pleasure in presenting, on behalf of the men, a silver flask to Sergeant-Major Hewitt, a silver flask to Quartermaster-Sergeant Dale, and a silver cigar-case to Sergeant-Major Brennan.

The Colonel then proposed the health of the Executive Committee, who, he said, had worked so indefatigably when the corps was being organised. Their labours did not end there, however, for always while the corps was in South Africa, and still on its return, they were all concerned in its well-being and interests. It was a pleasure to him and to his men to have been the recipients of so hearty a welcome as that which met them on their arrival at Howrah on the evening of the 2nd inst. The work which the raising of a force such as Lumsden’s Horse entails is extensive, complicated, and laborious, but thanks to the able committee formed on the inception of the corps, they were able to be equipped and despatched to the country they had just returned from with comparatively no delay. To Sir Patrick Playfair particularly he was deeply indebted for his energy in seeing things put through in such an efficient manner and without a hitch, and he was proud of now having an opportunity of asking his men to drink the health of the gentlemen of the Executive Committee, with three times three cheers for Sir Patrick Playfair.

Sir Patrick Playfair, in reply, said that he was sorry another very important public function required the presence of many of the Executive Committee who otherwise would have been present at this dinner, Colonel Lumsden, he thought, was too lavish in his praises of the work done by the Executive Committee. The work was a labour of love, in the execution of which every member of that Committee took a pleasure and a pride. He had met and known Colonel Lumsden very many years before a certain day in November 1899, when he received from Australia a cable from Colonel Lumsden intimating his willingness to raise and have equipped a suitable corps capable of giving a good account of themselves in South Africa. He had the fullest confidence in Colonel Lumsden, and knew that the class of men to whom Colonel Lumsden had particular recourse were the right sort. He, therefore, did his utmost to encourage Colonel Lumsden in accomplishing his noble object. Great obstacles for a time blocked the way, but in time, by virtue of the personal influence of His Excellency the Viceroy, the War Office sanctioned the raising of a corps which has now returned loaded with honours, complimented time after time by Generals and in official despatches for gallantry in the field. The Committee always followed with interest the operations of the corps in South Africa, and it was a pride and an honour to them to be in a position to say that they were so closely connected with its formation. He regretted that a few men should have found their appointments closed against them on their return, but he assured them that the Executive Committee, and particularly himself, would only be too glad to help any man in finding suitable employment. He said he had already made reference to the cases of men so placed to the Lieutenant-Governor, and had asked that, all things else being equal, the men who had served in Lumsden’s Horse should have the preference when appointments were vacant. Sir Patrick Playfair then thanked Colonel Lumsden, the officers, and men of the corps for the hearty way in which they had drunk the health of the Committee.

Sergeant Fraser then, in a very humorous speech, announced to the Colonel the intention of the men to present him with a sword of honour as a memento and a token of their respect and esteem. Within the last few days they had heard the Governor of Bombay, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, and the Viceroy himself, express warm admiration of Colonel Lumsden for the manner in which he had conceived, organised, and led the corps. But he ventured to consider that the men of Lumsden’s Horse were even in a better position than these exalted gentlemen to express an opinion upon Colonel Lumsden, for they had been with him in South Africa and seen with their own eyes what he had done. It was in consequence of what they had seen that they now asked Colonel Lumsden to accept from the men who had been his comrades a sword of honour as the highest compliment they knew how to pay him. He would remind them that Colonel Lumsden, during the action at Ospruit, had ridden out to the rescue of a wounded trooper, placed him on his own horse, and led the horse back at a walk a distance of 200 yards, all under heavy fire.[14] Colonel Lumsden had never asked his men to go where he did not lead himself, and it will be within the recollection of all of them, after climbing kopjes representing Kinchingjunga at six stone, that they invariably found the Colonel on top busy with his binoculars, whilst they themselves were helpless from loss of breath. His concern had always been for his men without regard to his own convenience, and it was because Colonel Lumsden had proved himself both gallant and unselfish, that they desired to present him with the sword. If they had a fault to find with Colonel Lumsden, it was that he was too lenient with misdemeanants. They had frequently seen men marched before him and sternly interrogated regarding their sins. But the end of such interviews was generally a private conversation regarding old times in Assam, or elsewhere, and no punishment. The result was that the men swore by their Colonel, even those he had been compelled to send to ‘cells’—there was one of these, half rear, at the present moment loudly applauding all he was saying. Colonel Lumsden was not only their commanding officer, but a personal friend to each man, a combination which had led to the maintenance of an extraordinary degree of discipline. They were all proud of the corps they had the honour to belong to, but they were prouder, if possible, of the officer whose name the corps bore. The only fault they ever found with Colonel Lumsden was that he was too lenient with the men, and in the goodness of his heart refrained from meting out punishment where it was perhaps well deserved. However, it is not every delinquent who would regard that as a fault. The men regretted that time had not given them an opportunity of providing the sword for presentation that night, but it would come in the fulness of time. The Colonel’s health was then drunk with musical honours, the men shouting themselves hoarse.

[Illustration: Ceremonial Sword]

Colonel Lumsden, in reply, said that this was truly and in every sense the proudest moment of his life. He had already had the pleasure of making a few speeches since the corps was raised, but he found it a difficult thing to hit on words to express at all adequately his appreciation of the eulogistic terms in which Sergeant Fraser, on behalf of his comrades, had referred to him. He always had the greatest confidence in his men and relied on their honour rather than on strict and rigid discipline for the execution of his orders. He knew his men thoroughly, and saw that they were prepared to play the game as it should be played, and he felt proud, as any officer must, of the men he commanded. The sword of honour proposed to be presented to him would be his most treasured possession—he would always be proud to refer to it and the happy associations it recalled. The past twelve months had been the happiest in his whole career, and nigh forty-eight summers had passed over his head. Turning to Sir Patrick Playfair’s remark, he said that he, too, would do his utmost to have the men without billets provided for. He was a believer in the great future in store for South Africa, and wished every success to those of the corps who had remained behind. He also said that Captain Petley had very kindly placed the ‘Koladyne’ at the disposal of those who had no friends to stay with in Calcutta, and that they only had to signify to Captain Petley, who had taken a deep interest in the corps, their wish to avail themselves of this kind offer. He would now say good-bye and God-speed with every good wish for their future welfare, requesting that, before breaking up camp, every man should promise to send his photo.

The men were visibly touched by Colonel Lumsden’s speech, and, after cheering him over and over again, chaired him and all the officers, and Sergeant-Major Stephens, at great risk to those chaired.

The Sword of Honour, exquisitely wrought by Messrs. Hamilton & Co., of Calcutta, and presented to Colonel Lumsden with such gratifying evidences of good-will from those whom he had commanded, was of silver with ring-mountings of gold, and bore upon its scabbard the following inscription:








Footnote 14:

Trooper Betts has since been awarded the D.C.M. for accompanying the Colonel on this occasion—to carry in Franks, who was mortally wounded.



On January 4, 1901, just one year after they had assembled on the Maidan full of high hopes and noble aspirations, these Indian Volunteers, who had made for themselves a name that will long be honoured among British soldiers, were disbanded. So the curtain fell on the war scene in which the two hundred and fifty men known to history as Lumsden’s Horse played their parts. They had been in the field ten months, marched from camp to camp over 1,500 miles, fought in thirty-nine actions, lost seven men killed in action, two from enteric, several at various times incapacitated by wounds; they had left nearly sixty of their number in South Africa, some as administrators, some in the Regular Army, and some in the Police; they had brought back to Calcutta only four of the horses with which they started, and had used up 750 remounts. They had been twice mentioned in despatches by the Field-Marshal, and had been praised by every General under whom they served. Out of a total of fifteen officers, one, Colonel Lumsden, was decorated by Her Majesty Queen Victoria with the C.B.; another, Major Chamney, received the C.M.G.; two others, Captain Rutherfoord and Lieutenant Pugh, obtained the D.S.O. The Adjutant and the two Regular officers who had commanded companies were promoted a step, to the rank of Brevet-Major. Trooper J.A. Graham, whose act of valour at Crocodile River has been recorded, received the Distinguished Conduct Medal; similar decorations were awarded to Corporal Percy Jones, Troopers P.C. Preston, H.N. Betts, W.E. Dexter, and Regimental Sergeant-Major Marsham; while seven other N.C.O.s and troopers were mentioned in despatches. It is a noteworthy fact that of all those whose names were brought forward by Colonel Lumsden not one failed to obtain recognition from the Commander-in-Chief, and only three received less honourable distinctions than their Colonel thought they were entitled to. All these things prove that nobody was recommended except for meritorious services of which clear and conclusive evidence could be given. All soldiers will appreciate what that means. And of twenty-three who obtained commissions in the Regular Army and others gazetted to Irregular corps, only two resigned subsequently. Colonel Lumsden was exceptionally fortunate in securing this number of commissions, and still more fortunate in selecting men worthy to retain them. It must not be forgotten, however, that the majority of those serving in the ranks of Lumsden’s Horse were Public School boys, some of whom may have failed in their examinations for Sandhurst, and gone out to fight their way in India as indigo, tea, and coffee planters, and who, when the occasion arose, were just the right men to fill the appointments they got. Their merits were recognised not only by our own military authorities, but also by the enemy. One Boer told the Rev. J.H. Siddons, of Great Berkhampstead, whose letter is quoted by permission, that Lumsden’s Horse were ‘exceptionally good both at scouting and shooting.’ The same authority also says that he had similar testimony to their merits from a corporal of one of the Cavalry regiments. This is not surprising, as Lumsden’s Horse and their comrades of the Line were always on good terms, and had a mutual admiration for each other. In a letter to the Colonel, Trooper D. Morison says:

I am afraid I cannot help you much with my personal experiences and views. No doubt everyone who writes you on the subject will be full of praise and admiration for Mr. Thomas Atkins as we found him on the veldt. But I should like to record what a splendid chap he is. Whether Scotch, Irish, Welsh, or from any other part of the country, he is all the same when it comes to a tight corner.



Though the records of active service with Lumsden’s Horse as a body closed when the corps left South Africa on December 6, 1900, many of its members fought on in the Transvaal with the same undaunted spirit that had quickened them and their comrades throughout, the same determination to be true to their old regimental motto, and ‘Play the Game.’ The following accounts of the affair at Benoni, in the Boksburg mining district, give a good idea of the fighting qualities of the Anglo-Indians who had won their spurs in Lumsden’s Horse:

At the beginning of December 1900 many of the gallant little band had enrolled themselves under Major-General Baden-Powell in the South African Constabulary, others again in the Rand Mounted Rifles under Mr. Henry, erstwhile Inspector-General of Police, Bengal, whose companies were then holding entrenched positions at different portions of the Rand. The one at Benoni for the protection of cattle, refugees, and the mines was deemed an important duty, as the neighbourhood had been in a very disturbed state for months past, and from time to time had been visited by small parties of Boers. These were always put to flight by the ordinary mounted patrols. But on Boxing Day at 4 A.M. the alarm was given that a strong force of Boers was in the vicinity. Immediate defensive measures were taken, and when a party of 100 of the enemy rode up to the Post Office, they were accorded a greeting very different from the Christmas one of ‘Peace and goodwill.’ They scuttled, but later a second party engaged the right flank of the police post. A second time they were compelled to retire, but poor dear old Sergeant Walker (Lumsden’s Horse) was killed outright, a bullet entering his head in the region of the temple. He was the senior non-commissioned officer, and died bearing his responsibility nobly. The command then devolved on Sergeant ‘Tim’ Lockhart, also of Lumsden’s Horse, who displayed great dash and courage, exposing himself at the most dangerous points, and thus inspiring his men to avenge poor Walker. In the meanwhile the Boers took up a very strong position on the left front, from which they harassed the gallant little body of defenders. Finding that rifle-fire was ineffective, the Boers brought a pom-pom and a Maxim to bear on the position, and considerable damage was done to the head-gear machinery of the mine. Lieutenant Evans, in command of a detachment of the Railway Pioneer Regiment, finding he could not relieve the brave fellows, despatched Trooper Tooley to Boksburg for reinforcements. The Boers, however, true to their traditions, were now effecting a hurried retirement, and to prevent a surprise Sergeant Lockhart sent out patrols (Troopers Granville, Kelly, and Lloyd-Jones—all of Lumsden’s Horse). Lloyd-Jones came to grief, falling from his horse and breaking his wrist, otherwise the movement was eminently successful. The Boers were retiring in very good order, and succeeded in doing considerable damage to the New Kleinfontein and the New Chimes mines, held by Lieutenant Evans and twenty-three men. Sergeant Lockhart had, all told, eleven men, and two officers of the Intelligence Department and Mrs. Hunter, the wife of one of these gentlemen. The post consisted of twenty-three of all ranks, principally men of Lumsden’s Horse. Among them were ‘Tim Lockhart’—now blossomed into a Sergeant of Mounted Police—Walter Walker, Kelly, Arthur Nicholson, Jones, Harris, Bradford, Kearsey, Petersen, Grenville, and Tooley; the remainder being Railway Pioneer men. Their duty was to protect the mines from raids by Boer patrols, and it was in the head-gear of the mine workings that the defenders ensconced themselves when the attack was made.

Pom-pom, Maxim, and the rifle-fire of 300 Boers under Viljoen and Erasmus played merrily on them from 4.20 A.M. till afternoon, the pom-pom shells playing havoc with the wood and iron work of the head-gear, but without hurting anybody.

[Illustration: A. NICHOLSON]

It has been definitely ascertained that the Boers were 400 strong, and possessed a pom-pom and Maxim gun. Trooper Harris (Lumsden’s Horse) was responsible for the work of ‘entrenching the position,’ and his comrades testify to the creditable manner in which he executed his duty. Of the 1,400 head of cattle in the British laager, not a single one was taken. Viljoen was in command of the Boers.

Poor Walker lies in the Johannesburg cemetery. He was accorded a military funeral that was attended very largely.

The reinforcements under Lieutenant Wynyard Battye (a cousin of the Indian fighting Battyes) came up too late to render any immediate aid, but they pursued the retreating Boers as far as Springs.

Between 2 and 3 in the afternoon relief came, but not until 300,000_l._ worth of damage had been done to machinery and buildings near. The telegram given below speaks for itself, and it is pleasant reading that those of our fellows who stayed behind are continuing to play the game so well.


To Officer Commanding Police, Boksburg, from Lord Kitchener, dated December 28, 1900.

‘Commander-in-Chief has heard with much pleasure of the successful defence of their post by the Police at Benoni against an attack by greatly superior numbers. He considers their gallant conduct does all ranks of their garrison the greatest credit. He much regrets the loss of their sergeant.’

This telegram, with flattering endorsements by the Military Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief and the Military Governor of Johannesburg, was ordered to be read to the men.

Another and fuller version is given in a letter to Colonel Lumsden by Trooper D. Morison, who writes:

Just to show how the reputation of the corps is being kept up and added to by those who remained in South Africa, I enclose an extract from a letter received a short while ago from Sergeant Renny, now serving in the Johannesburg M.M. Police. It gives an account of the heroic death of Sergeant Walker at Benoni last Boxing Day. Renny says: ‘On December 5, after a fortnight’s stay in Johannesburg, we were sent off in two parties to take up police duties. One company, consisting of nine men and Sergeant Walker, was sent to this place (Benoni), the other party going to Brakpan coal-mines, half-way between Boksburg and Springs. When we first came here there were four men of the Railway Pioneer Rifles, together with whom we formed the garrison. We are in charge of 1,300 head of cattle and sheep. We send out patrols every day and mount three guards every night. Our three guards are posted round the enclosure where the cattle are kept at night—one about 150 yards in front, one in an empty dynamite magazine about 250 yards in rear, and the third one is posted near where we sleep. We live in a corrugated iron room on the top of a gold dump, half-way up to heaven—that is, about 30 feet from the ground. A verandah runs round it which we have fortified with sandbags. We have also dug trenches all round the room, as a big body of Boers is reported to be in laager twenty miles from us—the same commando that paid us so much attention on French’s famous march. We had hardly settled down here before the Boers paid us a visit. On December 10 I was on guard with a Railway Pioneer Regiment man, and at 11.30 I suddenly heard the sound of whips, as if cattle were being driven out of the kraal. I immediately fired two shots in rapid succession. This had the desired effect of hurrying the Boers out of the kraal and at the same time of warning the other men. There was a small moon up and we could just distinguish a dark body of men. At this we fired as fast as we could load, and had the satisfaction of completely surprising the Boers, several of whom we hit. They had got all the cattle out of the kraal, but were in such a hurry to get away that they left these all behind. They exchanged a few shots when at a safe distance. But where their bullets went none of us know, as none came in our direction. After this they left us in peace till December 26.

[Illustration: G.D. NICOLAY]

Reinforced after the first attack, we mustered twenty-seven guns on the morning of the 26th, a day never to be forgotten by the little garrison at Benoni. The Boers attacked us at 4.30 A.M. in large force, numbering over three hundred men, with two pom-poms and a Maxim. Those not on guard were in bed, when Tooley, who was outside the room, shouted that the Boers were on us. We rushed out as quickly as we could, and had just time to get into the trenches before a body of about fifty Boers charged down upon us in regular cavalry fashion. We waited till they were within 200 yards and then we gave them a volley which cooled their ardour a bit and sent them back in hot haste with a few of their saddles emptied. They then took up positions on mounds right round us and began to pour in a hot rifle-fire from ranges varying from 200 to 800 yards, using rifles of every description, even fowling pieces, as we heard several charges of buckshot scatter over us. Poor Walker, whom we all liked, exposed himself, and was shot immediately. We returned their fire as well as we could, bowling over a good few, both horses and men. We exchanged rifle shots till 9 A.M., when, finding that they could not dislodge us, they brought their pom-poms and Maxim up, and for half an hour gave us as lively a time as we have ever had. Our room was riddled from top to bottom, any kit hanging on the walls being perforated. The noise of the shells going through the corrugated iron was most terrific and made us feel pretty queer. We had to lie low in our trenches, expecting shells to drop into the middle of us at any moment. The Boers crept closer under cover of the pom-poms, but luckily for us the supply of pom-pom ammunition gave out. Then rifle-fire recommenced and we soon drove them back to their original positions. They had fired whole belts of shells at us at a time. So you can imagine the lively time we had. Rifle-fire was kept up till 2 P.M., when the Boers decamped on seeing reinforcements arriving from Johannesburg and Boksburg. They burnt two mines and several dwelling-houses and looted the stores before they cleared out. We have had great praise for holding out so long—4.30 A.M. to 2 P.M.—and have received congratulatory telegrams from Lord Kitchener, Sir Alfred Milner, Colonel McKenzie, Governor of Johannesburg, and Colonel Davies, Military Commandant of Johannesburg. The Boers were led by Ben Viljoen, Hans Botha, and Erasmus.’ The names of men with Rennie were Nicholson, Kelly, G.D. Nicolay, Jones, Petersen, late of A Company; Harris, Grenville, Bradford, Kearsey, late of Transport; Tooley, of Loch’s horse.

Mr. E.R. Henry, lately commanding the Rand Mounted Rifles, writes thus to Sir P. Playfair, C.I.E.:

New Scotland Yard: July 31, 1901.

DEAR PLAYFAIR,—You asked me last night to note down briefly some details of the attack on the Chimes West mine. Here are the facts as well as I remember them.

We had a Police post at this mine on the Rand about nine miles from Boksburg, a place you will find on all maps. Our force consisted of sixteen Railway Pioneer Regiment and nine Lumsden’s Horse, the latter under Sergeant Walker.

On the morning of December 26 this small force—which, by-the-by, was located in what I may term the first floor of the head-gear of the Chimes West mine—was attacked by 300 Boers, who had with them two pom-poms.

[Illustration: H. KELLY]

The Boers fired volleys, and a good many pom-pom shells went through the quarters occupied by Lumsden’s Horse. I saw dozens of shell-holes, not only through the iron sheets which formed the walls of their quarters, but also through the great wooden beams or baulks of a foot or more in diameter. From one of the earliest of these volleys Sergeant Walker was killed as he was kneeling behind a sandbag.

Our men were under fire for several hours, and, seeing that we were so greatly outnumbered, Tolley volunteered to ride through the Boers into Boksburg, a distance of nine miles, and did so—a gallant feat. Kelly, Grenville, and Jones volunteered to make a dash for a tailings or dump-heap, so as to enfilade the Boers. Kelly and Grenville got home, Jones’s horse fell, and he fractured his arm and lay there. Kelly and Grenville did excellent work from the tailings heap, and made it so uncomfortable for the Boers that they had to shift their position. I was there next day and met General Barton on the ground. On receipt of his report the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Kitchener, wired us the following message: ‘Congratulate Police on gallant defence Benoni. Deplore loss of their sergeant.’ Lord Kitchener is temperate in praise, so I take it his commendation meant much. I understand that three of the men whose names I have given above have been since mentioned in despatches on account of their behaviour on December 26.

E.I. Lockhart, of Lumsden’s Horse, became senior sergeant on Walker’s death, and is a gallant old fellow. He is much younger than I, but everyone dubs him old. He behaved very well. His name should be mentioned in any account of this particular incident.

Our men saved the Chimes West mine. What this means you can infer from what the Boers did to the Modderfontein mine, close by, which our men could not defend. In less than half an hour the Boers did damage estimated at from 250,000_l._ to 300,000_l._

We buried poor Walker on December 27 at Boksburg, and a memorial has been subscribed for.

I hope this gives you the data you require.



List of Lumsden’s Horse who joined the Johannesburg Police in December 1900:


No. 63, Sergeant W.L. Walker │No. 4, Trooper I.A. Irwin ” 88, Trooper B.R. Lloyd-Jones│ ” 55, ” G.D. Nicolay ” 83, ” I.G. Petersen │ ” 10, ” A.J.H. Nicholson ” 72, ” L.H. Bell │ ” 11, ” H.R. Kelly ” 29, ” F.W.C. Lawrie │ ” 97, ” J.D.W. Holmes ” 30, ” A.H. Buskin │ ” 60, ” K. Boileau ” 274, Driver L.H. Bradford │ ” 272, Driver W.E. Harris ” 254, ” R.A. Grenville │ ” 270, ” P.W. Anderson


Sergeant Lockhart │Trooper Smith Lance-Sergeant Goodliffe │ ” Walton Corporal Campbell │Driver Fitzgerald Trooper Renny

[Illustration: K. BOILEAU]

Well may the names of men who fought that good fight at Benoni be enrolled with honour in the records of Lumsden’s Horse; and proud indeed must be the Colonel, who, commanding such a corps through all the vicissitudes of an arduous campaign, won the affectionate respect of all ranks serving under him. To this the officers have testified by combining to present him with a silver statuette that will be a gratifying memento to place beside the sword of honour given by his troopers.


SILVER STATUETTE OF COLONEL LUMSDEN _Manufactured by the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths’ Company, Limited, 112 Regent Street, London_ ]

A history of Lumsden’s Horse would be incomplete were the names of those noble sisters, the Misses Keyser, omitted. They nursed and looked after several officers of the corps who were invalided home, and on this account Colonel Lumsden thinks a tribute of admiration and an expression of grateful thanks are due to them. Miss Keyser and her sister Miss Agnes (Sister Agnes) have, since the commencement of the war, devoted their house, their money, and their time to nursing officers invalided home from wounds and sickness, and are still continuing their noble work. Their contribution to the War Fund has been one of which the nation may feel justly proud. King Edward’s Convalescent Home, which their house is now styled, has been indeed ‘sweet home’—a place of rest and unalloyed comfort—to over 300 officers who have been invalided from South Africa, and the self-sacrifice of ladies whose days have been devoted to the alleviation of suffering will be gratefully appreciated by all those who have received kind treatment at their hands, and by the British public.

Colonel Lumsden, on his return to London, applied to get pay for his men raised to the Colonial standard of 5_s._ per diem, but was told by Lord George Hamilton that as Indian taxpayers would not be asked to contribute to the cost either of the war in South Africa or of the war in China, it would be quite impossible to make up the difference between the British standard of pay and the Colonial standard. The Cape Colony and Natal Governments had, in special cases, defrayed the difference out of their own exchequers.

On applying to the Secretary of State for War, the Colonel was informed by Mr. Brodrick that, were his request granted, the whole of the Yeomanry who went out in 1900 would be entitled to a similar increase, and therefore he could not assist. Colonel Lumsden, in explanation, said the request had not been made by any of the men themselves, but by him on their account, and, although a sense of duty to them had impelled him to make this claim, he considered that they would be all the prouder for having served their country on 1_s._ 2_d._ a day.

For nearly eighteen months after the disbandment of the corps its former Colonel gave up his time to details connected with it. In the event of another Volunteer contingent being despatched from India, it is doubtful whether anyone of Colonel Lumsden’s position and resources would take such an interest in the force or would have the time to give to work that might be more properly undertaken by the War Office.

Colonel Lumsden endeavoured successfully to get employment for those of his troopers who had given up lucrative engagements to join the corps. There were certain men who could not obtain their former appointments, and their old commandant devoted his time and attention to further their interests. He found that, however willing the Government of India and the Government of Bengal were to find employment for these men in Government service as some recognition of what they had done for the Empire while serving with Lumsden’s Horse, neither the Viceroy nor the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal had appointments at his disposal owing to the system of competitive examination for all posts under their administration. Therefore Colonel Lumsden was greatly indebted to merchants, tea proprietors, and others for the help they gave him in obtaining situations for certain of his men. The fact that no appointments are reserved for the benefit of soldiers or sailors who have served their country well is a blot on the competitive system both in India and in England. It may prove to be a serious discouragement to the desire for volunteering in future emergencies.

Very few, even among Colonel Lumsden’s most intimate friends and old comrades, know that after all his hard work he went out to India again in the first week of December 1901 with instructions from the War Office to raise another corps of Indian Volunteers for service in South Africa, provided sufficient numbers of the right class of men were available. On arrival in Calcutta, and after consultation with His Excellency the Viceroy, Colonel Lumsden wrote to Officers Commanding the different Volunteer corps from whose ranks most of his previous contingent had been recruited. Their replies showed, however, that the three great industries, indigo, tea, and coffee, were not in a position to bear another strain so soon. The Colonel’s sporting offer therefore came to nothing. His efforts, however, were appreciated both by the Secretary of State for War and by the Commander-in-Chief, and duly recognised in a letter of thanks from the Adjutant-General.

Colonel Lumsden and Sir Patrick Playfair have hardly yet finished their labours in connection with the corps, of which all accounts have been carefully audited by Messrs. Lovelock & Lewes, the actuaries in Calcutta, and have been balanced to a point showing the expenditure in India to equip the corps, the remittances made to South Africa for urgent requirements, all disbursements in connection with the disbandment of the corps, and the balance that remains. These accounts[15] may be valuable in the future as guides to the probable expenditure in similar cases, and they are interesting now as proving the accuracy of calculations made at the outset, whereby the cost of equipping and maintaining such a force in the field for twelve months was estimated at 1,000 rupees per man, exclusive of gifts in kind. In dealing with accounts previous to disbandment of the corps, much valuable assistance was given by Major Ramsden, Controller of Military Accounts, Bengal; but for the completeness and accuracy of pay-sheets and other regimental documents, great credit is due to Mr. Fraser, of the Bank of Bengal, and to his assistant paymaster, Mr. Graves, of the same bank, both of whom did hard clerical work under difficulties in the office without neglecting their duties as soldiers. After all expenses are paid, there will probably be a balance of twenty or thirty thousand rupees in hand. Colonel Lumsden has suggested that it cannot be devoted to a better purpose than as a subsidy towards the maintenance of a paying ward for sick or disabled Volunteers in the New General Hospital in Calcutta. The general wish is that this should henceforth be known as the Lumsden’s Horse Ward in commemoration of men who did good service to their country at some personal sacrifice.

To the memory of those who fell in battle or passed through the portals of sickness to infinite peace in the midst of war Lord Curzon has paid tribute by the erection of a handsome mural tablet in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Calcutta. That monument was unveiled by the Viceroy on March 23, 1902, after Evensong, when a specially appropriate service was arranged by Canon Luckman. Members of the Corps were invited to assemble in full dress at the south transept door of St. Paul’s Cathedral at 6.15 o’clock that Sunday evening. They entered the Cathedral and passed in procession, following the choir and clergy, to seats provided for them in the aisle.

At the conclusion of the service His Excellency the Viceroy, Honorary Colonel of Lumsden’s Horse, unveiled the brass tablet he had personally presented to the Cathedral in memory of those members of the corps who died in South Africa. The tablet had been placed on the south wall of the entrance to the chancel, in front of the statue to Bishop Heber. After the singing of the Offertory hymn the procession was formed in the following order:

The Choir. The Clergy. His Excellency the Viceroy. Staff. The Executive Committee of Lumsden’s Horse. Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden, C.B. Members of Lumsden’s Horse.

The troopers then formed up in front of and facing the tablet. His Excellency took up a position in front of the tablet; Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden standing at the Viceroy’s left, and the Executive Committee and Staff to the right of His Excellency, while Canon Luckman offered up the prayers. His Excellency then unveiled the tablet. The choir sang the hymn ‘Fight the good fight,’ and the Blessing was pronounced by the Venerable the Archdeacon, Bishop’s Commissary in charge of the diocese.

That tribute to the honoured memory of gallant comrades was the last scene in which Lumsden’s Horse were to take part. Thenceforth they could lay aside the frayed and war-stained khaki and say, ‘I have done my duty.’ To the living as to the dead Lord Curzon’s eloquent words, with one slight change, apply:

Those sons of Britain in the East Fought not for praise or fame; They served for England, and the least Made greater her great name.


TABLET IN ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL, CALCUTTA (_From a photograph by Messrs. Bourne & Shepherd_) ]


Footnote 15:

Appendix X.



┌──────────────────┬────────────────────────┬────────────────────────┐ │Rank │Name │Occupation and Address │ ├──────────────────┼────────────────────────┼────────────────────────┤ │ │ OFFICERS │ │ │Lieut.-Colonel │Dugald Mactavish Lumsden│Gentleman, Oriental │ │ │ (Commandant) │ Club, Hanover │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ Square, London │ │Major │Eden C. Showers │Tea Planter, Surma │ │ │ │ Valley │ │Captain │Neville C. Taylor │14th Bengal Lancers, │ │ │ (Adjutant) │ Allahabad │ │ ” │James Hugh Brownlow │3rd Sikhs │ │ │ Beresford │ │ │ ” │John Brownley │Indigo Planter, Behar │ │ │ Rutherfoord │ │ │ ” │Louis Hemington Noblett │Royal Irish Rifles, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Henry Chamney[A] │Tea Planter, Surma │ │ │ │ Valley │ │ ” │Frank Clifford │Coffee Planter, Mysore │ │ ” │Samuel Arthur Powell │Medical Officer, Cachar │ │ ” │Bernard Willoughby │Medical Officer, E.I. │ │ │ Holmes │ Railway │ │Veterinary Captain│William Stevenson │Veterinary Surgeon, │ │ │ │ Rangoon │ │Lieutenant │George Augustus Neville │Tea Planter, Assam │ │ ” │Charles Edward Crane │Indigo Planter, Behar │ │ ” │Charles Lyon Sidey[A] │Tea Planter, Assam │ │ ” │Herbert Owain Pugh │Jute Broker, Calcutta │ │ │ │ │ │ │ A COMPANY │ │ │ │ NO. 1 SECTION │ │ │ │ │ │ │Company │James Brennan[A] │York and Lancaster │ │ Quartermaster- │ │ Regiment, Agra │ │ Sergeant │ │ │ │Farrier-Sergeant │William Marshall │54th Battery, R.F.A., │ │ │ │ Meerut │ │Sergeant │Herbert James Fox │Assistant Manager, │ │ │ │ Dumraon Raj, Shahabad │ │ │ │ District │ │Corporal │Percy Jones │Indigo Planter, Benipore│ │ │ │ Concern, Sakri, │ │ │ │ Durbunga │ │ ” │Herbert Wheeler Marsham │Indigo Planter, Motihari│ │ │ │ Concern, Motihari, │ │ │ │ Chumparan │ │Lance-Corporal │Hugh F. Blair │Indigo Planter, Lalouria│ │ │ │ Concern, Bettiah, │ │ │ │ Chumparan │ │Trooper │John Alexander Irwin │Indigo Planter, Dhroomra│ │ │ │ Concern, Mozufferpore,│ │ │ │ Tirhoot District │ │ ” │Arthur John Hampton │Indigo Planter, Thurma │ │ │ Nicholson │ Concern, Sitamari, │ │ │ │ Tirhoot District │ │ ” │Hector Rupert Kelly │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Bhagulpore │ │ ” │Leonard Kars Zorab │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Bhagulpore │ │ ” │John Stewart Campbell │Indigo Planter, Sunyat │ │ │ │ Concern, Mozufferpore,│ │ │ │ Tirhoot District │ │ ” │Claud Leonard Bell │Indigo Planter, Sunyat │ │ │ │ Concern, Mozufferpore,│ │ │ │ Tirhoot District │ │ ” │John Alexander Brown │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Jeetwarpore Concern, │ │ │ │ Durbunga │ │ ” │George Maxwell Smith │Indigo Planter, Begum │ │ │ │ Sarai Concern, │ │ │ │ Durbunga │ │ ” │Charles Reginald │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ Macdonald │ Dowlutpore Concern, │ │ │ │ Durbunga │ │ ” │George Patrick Osborn │Indigo Planter, Singhea │ │ │ Springfield │ Concern, Hajipore, │ │ │ │ Tirhoot │ │ ” │John Alexander Fraser │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Mozufferpore, Tirhoot │ │ ” │D.C. Percy Smith │Assistant Superintendent│ │ │ │ of Police, Dinapore │ │ ” │E. Harry Gough │Indigo Planter, Suddowat│ │ │ │ Concern, Sewan, Saran │ │ ” │Robert G. Collins │Indigo Planter, Singhea │ │ │ │ Concern, Hajipore, │ │ │ │ Tirhoot │ │ ” │Bruce Macgregor Allan │Indigo Planter, Begum │ │ │ │ Sarai Concern, │ │ │ │ Durbunga │ │ ” │John Henry │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Turcouleah Concern, │ │ │ │ Chumparan │ │ ” │Osborne Aldis │Indigo Planter, Dulsing │ │ │ │ Sarai, Durbunga │ │ ” │Henry George Newton │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Jaintpore Concern, │ │ │ │ Mozufferpore │ │ ” │Robert Pheydell Haines │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Mortipore Concern, │ │ │ │ Mozufferpore │ │ ” │Frederick William │Indigo Planter, Kahunia │ │ │ Charles Lawrie │ Concern, Gorukhpore │ │ ” │Allan Henry Buskin │Indigo Planter, Dooriah │ │ │ │ Concern, Mozufferpore │ │ │ │ │ │ NO. 2 SECTION │ │ │ │ │ │Regimental │Cyril Montagu Charles │Indigo Planter, Serryah │ │ Sergt.-Major │ Marsham │ Concern, Mozufferpore │ │Sergeant │Francis Stewart │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ McNamara[A] │ Burhoulie Concern, │ │ │ │ Sewan, Saran │ │Corporal │George Elliott Pollnitz │Indigo Planter, Burhoga │ │ │ Llewhellin │ Concern, Saran │ │Signr. │William Lee │York and Lancaster │ │ Lance-Corporal │ │ Regiment, Agra │ │Lance-Corporal │Arthur Helme Firth │Indigo Planter, Kanti │ │ │ │ Cour Concern, │ │ │ │ Mozufferpore, Tirhoot │ │ ” │Angus Macgillivray │Indigo Planter, Sohazra │ │ │ │ Concern, Sewan, Saran │ │Saddler │Richard James Lance │3rd (K.O.) Hussars, │ │ │ │ Lucknow │ │Trooper │R.J. Clayton Daubney │Indigo Planter, Belsund │ │ │ │ Concern, Durbunga │ │ ” │Selwyn Long-Innes │Indigo Planter, Peeprah │ │ │ │ Concern, Motihari, │ │ │ │ Chumparan │ │ ” │Howard Herbert Julian │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ Hickley[A] │ Bhicanpore Concern, │ │ │ │ Mozufferpore, Tirhoot │ │ ” │Leslie Gwatkin Williams │Indigo Planter, Rajkund │ │ │ │ Concern, Mozufferpore,│ │ │ │ Tirhoot │ │ ” │Burton Disney │Indigo Planter, Peeprah │ │ │ Rutherfoord[A] │ Concern, Motihari, │ │ │ │ Chumparan │ │ ” │Charles Bertram H. │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ Mansfield │ Ramcollah Concern, │ │ │ │ Saran │ │ ” │Philip Stanley │Indigo Planter, Bhamoo │ │ │ │ Concern, Saran, Chupra│ │ ” │Harry C. Lumsden │Indigo Planter, Chuckhea│ │ │ │ Concern, Sewan, Saran │ │ ” │Norman James Vaughan │Indigo Planter, Moniarah│ │ │ Reid │ Concern, Gopalgunje, │ │ │ │ Saran │ │ ” │Spencer Cochrane Gordon │Indigo Planter, Matihari│ │ │ │ Concern, Motihari, │ │ │ │ Chumparan │ │ ” │Christie West Fletcher │Indigo Planter, Dholi │ │ │ │ Concern, Mozufferpore,│ │ │ │ Tirhoot │ │ ” │William Gordon Watson │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Mozufferpore, Tirhoot │ │ ” │George Innes Watson │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Chitwarrah Concern, │ │ │ │ Mozufferpore, Tirhoot │ │ ” │Reginald N. Macdonald │Indigo Planter, Jogapore│ │ │ │ Concern, Sewan, Saran │ │ ” │Percy Strahan │Indigo Planter, Dulsing │ │ │ │ Sarai Concern, │ │ │ │ Durbunga │ │ ” │John Pringle Kennedy │Indigo Planter, Munjoul │ │ │ │ Concern, Monghyr │ │ ” │Gilbert Denis Nicolay │Indigo Planter, Durbunga│ │ ” │Cecil W. John │Indigo Planter, Peeprah │ │ │ │ Concern, Motihari, │ │ │ │ Chumparan │ │ ” │Cyril Darcy Vivian │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ Cary-Barnard │ Mozufferpore, Tirhoot │ │ ” │R. Upton Case │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Chumparan │ │ ” │Julian Victor Jameson │Indigo Planter, Ottur │ │ │ │ Concern, Mozufferpore,│ │ │ │ Tirhoot │ │ ” │Knyvett Boileau │Indigo Planter, │ │ │ │ Chitwarrah Concern, │ │ │ │ Mozufferpore, Tirhoot │ │ │ │ │ │ NO. 3 SECTION │ │ │ │ │ │Sergeant │Walter Larkins Walker │Tea Planter, Doom Dooma │ │ │ │ T.E., Assam │ │Vety. │James Lee Stewart │Coffee Planter, Thollol │ │ Lance-Sergeant │ │ Coffee Estate, Beber, │ │ │ │ Mysore │ │Paymaster-Sergeant│David Stewart Fraser │Assistant, Bank of │ │ │ │ Bengal, Agra │ │Lance-Sergeant │James Stemhurst Elliott │Tea Planter, Assam │ │ │ │ Company, Towkok │ │ │ │ Nazira, Assam │ │Lance-Corporal │Arthur Collier Walker │Tea Planter, Doom Dooma │ │ │ │ T.E., Assam │ │ ” │Denis J. Keating │Assistant, Calcutta Port│ │ │ │ Trust │ │Signaller │Arthur Thomas Hayward │3rd Hussars, Lucknow │ │Trooper │George E. Kenny │Tea Planter, Doom Dooma │ │ │ │ T.E., Assam │ │ ” │Arthur Leigh Godden[A] │Assistant, Messrs. │ │ │ │ Kilburn & Co., │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Edward Nugent Bankes │Tea Planter, Majuli Tea │ │ │ │ Co., Ltd., Behali, │ │ │ │ Darrang, Assam │ │ ” │Henry Cecil Charleton │Tea Planter, Darjeeling │ │ │ Bennett │ │ │ ” │Arnold Daniell Radford │Gentleman, Rose Cottage,│ │ │ │ Sonada, Darjeeling │ │ ” │Arthur Noel Woods │Tea Planter, Surmah │ │ │ │ Valley T.E., South │ │ │ │ Sylhet │ │ ” │Lionel Hugh Bell │Tea Planter, Badlipar, │ │ │ │ Sibsagar │ │ ” │Arthur Henry Luard[A] │Tea Planter, Kingsley │ │ │ │ Golaghat Tea Co., │ │ │ │ Jorhat, Assam │ │ ” │Clarence A. Walton │Tea Planter, Badlipar, │ │ │ │ Golaghat, Assam │ │ ” │Hugh Stanley Cheshire │Engineer, Assam-Bengal │ │ │ │ Railway, Hathikhola │ │ ” │Bertie Edward Jones │Tea Planter, Singh Tea │ │ │ │ Co., Jaboka, Sibsagar │ │ ” │Herbert Pearce Brown │Tea Planter, Khonjea │ │ │ │ T.E., Rajmai, Sibsagar│ │ ” │Charles Edward Stuart │Tea Planter, Assam │ │ ” │John W.A. Skelton │Tea Planter, Salonah Tea│ │ │ │ Co., Ltd., Nowgong, │ │ │ │ Assam │ │ ” │Rupert Henry Mackenzie │Tea Planter, Hattigor │ │ │ │ T.E., Mungledai, Assam│ │ ” │Edward Bayley Hadden │Tea Planter, │ │ │ Parkes │ Doolapudung, Assam │ │ ” │Johan Gottfried Petersen│Assistant, R.S.N. Co., │ │ │ │ Ltd., Garden Reach, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │John Stratford Saunders │Tea Planter, Jorhat Tea │ │ │ │ Co., Ltd., Nimaligarh,│ │ │ │ Sibsagar │ │ ” │John Francis Hughes │Tea Planter, Amalgamated│ │ │ │ Tea Estate, Dibrugarh,│ │ │ │ Assam │ │ ” │Frank Tancred │Gentleman, Lahore │ │ ” │Bertie Rhys Lloyd Jones │Survey Department, │ │ │ │ Lahore │ │ │ │ │ │ NO. 4 SECTION │ │ │ │ │ │Company │Edgar Hall Mansfield │Assistant Examiner, │ │ Sergeant-Major │ │ Milty. Accts. Dept., │ │ │ │ Punjab Command, Lahore│ │Sergeant │Robert Septimus Stowell │Brewer, Messrs. Meakin &│ │ │ │ Co., Kirkee │ │Corporal │George Lawrie │Photographer, Lucknow │ │Lance-Corporal │William Solomon Lemon │Travelling Agent, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Edward James Ballard │Planter, Peshawar │ │Trooper │Charles Frederick Hayes │Clerk, Calcutta │ │ ” │Ernest Phillip Sanders │Travelling Agent, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Ernest Stanley Clifford │Gentleman, Delhi │ │ ” │John David William │ │ │ │ Holmes │ │ │ ” │Harry Warren Puckridge │Bangalore │ │ ” │Arthur Edward │Inspector of Police │ │ │ Consterdine │ │ │ ” │Donald Robert Graham │Planter, Palumpur │ │ │ Glascock │ │ │ ” │Frederick Charles Warren│ │ │ │ Mercer │ │ │ ” │John Haviland Sperrin │ │ │ │ Richardson │ │ │ ” │Isambard Clarke Webbe │ │ │ ” │Frederick Maurice │Extra Assist. │ │ │ Clifford │ Commissioner, Delhi │ │ ” │James Sydney Cowen │Agent to the Amir of │ │ │ │ Afghanistan, Peshawar │ │ ” │Hubert Noel Shaw │Planter, Palumpur │ │ ” │Wilfred Herbert Holme │Planter, Palumpur │ │ ” │Arthur Patrick Courtenay│Gentleman, Umballa │ │ ” │Charles Henry Mortimer │Gentleman, Kalka │ │ │ Johnstone │ │ │ ” │Charles Hilliard Donald │Assistant, Messrs. │ │ │ │ Spedding & Co., │ │ │ │ Kashmir │ │ ” │Hugh Stopford Northcote │Plague Department, │ │ │ Wright │ Secunderabad, Deccan │ │ ” │Frank Graham Bateman │Planter, Mysore │ │ ” │Frederick Wilford Wright│Assistant, N.G.S. │ │ │ │ Railway, Secunderabad │ │ ” │Alexander Atkinson │Gentleman, Lahore │ │ ” │John Daly Lecky Arathoon│Assistant, Alliance Bank│ │ │ │ of Simla, Calcutta │ │ │ │ │ │ MAXIM-GUN DETACHMENT │ │ │ │ │ │Sergeant │Ephraim Robert Dale │Contractor, Jubbulpore, │ │ │ │ C.P. │ │Trooper │Patrick Terence Corbett │Loco. Dept., E.I. │ │ │ │ Railway, Jamalpore │ │ ” │Ivan Victor G. Dowd │Loco. Dept., E.I. │ │ │ │ Railway, Jamalpore │ │ ” │Noel Jocelyn Bolst │Loco. Dept., E.I. │ │ │ │ Railway, Asansol │ │ ” │Charles Vivian Scott │Loco. Dept., E.I. │ │ │ Dickens │ Railway Jamalpore │ │ ” │John Joseph Booth[A] │Traffic Dept., E.I. │ │ │ │ Railway, Howrah │ │ │ │ (formerly Royal │ │ │ │ Artillery) │ │ │ │ │ │ B COMPANY │ │ NO. 1 SECTION │ │ │ │ │ │Sergeant │Gerald Edward Pierson │Tea Planter, Tarapore │ │ │ Thesiger │ Tea Co., Cachar │ │Corporal │William Townsend Smith │Tea Planter, Tarapore │ │ │ │ Tea Co., Cachar │ │ ” │Edward A. Chartres │Doctor, Ballacherra │ │ │ │ T.E., Cachar │ │Lance-Corporal │John Maclaine │Tea Planter, Hatticherra│ │ │ │ T.E., Cachar │ │Bugler │Hugh Kirkwood F.A.H. │Custom House Officer, │ │ │ Dawson │ Calcutta │ │Trooper │Charles Alexander Forbes│Tea Planter, Vernerpore │ │ │ │ T.E., Hailakandi, │ │ │ │ Cachar │ │ ” │Cecil Wilfred Spicer │Tea Planter, Alyne T.E.,│ │ │ │ Lukipore, Cachar │ │ ” │William Reid │Tea Planter, Chargola │ │ │ │ T.E., Sylhet │ │ ” │William Edward Clifford │Tea Planter, Pathemara │ │ │ Johnson │ T.E., Cachar │ │ ” │Ian George Sinclair │Tea Planter, Kalline │ │ │ │ T.E., Cachar │ │ ” │Walter Reginald Winder │Tea Planter, Bhuberighat│ │ │ │ T.E., Sylhet │ │ ” │Archibald William │Tea Planter, Coombirgram│ │ │ Harrison │ T.E., Cachar │ │ ” │James Henry Archibald │Tea Planter, │ │ │ Burn-Murdoch │ Dullabcherra T.E., │ │ │ │ Sylhet │ │ ” │Ernest Adair Thelwall │Tea Planter, Lungla Tea │ │ │ │ Co., Sylhet │ │ ” │Stanley Ducat │Tea Planter, Chargola │ │ │ │ Tea Co., Sylhet │ │ ” │James Whyte Stevenson[A]│Tea Planter, Hattikhira │ │ │ │ T.E.,Sylhet │ │ ” │Arthur Philip Woollright│Medical Officer, Assam │ │ │ │ Bengal Railway │ │ ” │Frederick Vivian Clerk │Engineer, Assam-Bengal │ │ │ │ Railway │ │ ” │Richard Tait Innes │Tea Planter, Chandypore │ │ │ │ T.E., Hailakandi, │ │ │ │ Cachar │ │ ” │Arthur Ruthven Thornton │Journalist, Calcutta │ │ ” │Malcolm Hunter Logan │Engineer, Assam-Bengal │ │ │ │ Railway │ │ ” │Robert Brooke Lungley │Tea Planter, Deundi │ │ │ │ T.E., South Sylhet │ │ ” │Herbert Wallace Thelwall│Tea Planter, Dooars │ │ ” │Edmond Stewart Chapman │Tea Planter, Rema T.E., │ │ │ │ South Sylhet │ │ ” │Rawdon Graham Hunter │Tea Planter, Ballacherra│ │ │ │ T.E., Cachar │ │ ” │Alexander Lytle │Tea Planter, Alyne T.E.,│ │ │ │ Cachar │ │ ” │Edward B. Moir-Byres │Tea Planter, Tarrapore │ │ │ │ Tea Co., Cachar │ │ ” │Bernard Charles Albert │Tea Planter, Silcaorie │ │ │ │ T.E., Cachar │ │ ” │Philip Partridge │Tea Planter, Silcaorie │ │ │ │ T.E., Cachar │ │ ” │William Turnbull │Tea Planter, │ │ │ │ Pathecherra, T.E., │ │ │ │ Cachar │ │ ” │Oliver Charles John │Tea Planter, Jalinga │ │ │ Stevenson-Hamilton │ T.E., Cachar │ │ ” │Harvey Davies │Tea Planter, South │ │ │ │ Sylhet │ │ │ │ │ │ NO. 2 SECTION │ │ │ │ │ │Company │William Burrell │Royal Irish Rifles, │ │ Sergeant-Major │ Hewitt[A] │ Calcutta │ │Sergeant │Walter Arnold Conduit │Assistant Engineer, B.N.│ │ │ │ Railway │ │Lance-Sergeant │Philip Bunbury Warburton│Assistant, Bank of │ │ │ │ Bengal, Calcutta │ │Farrier-Sergeant │Frederick Edwards │15th Hussars, Meerut │ │Corporal │Francis Stuart Montagu │Merchant, Rangoon │ │ │ Bates │ │ │Lance-Corporal │Charles Maclean Jack │Assistant, Messrs. Shaw,│ │ │ │ Wallace, & Co., │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Graham Peddie[A] │Assistant District │ │ │ │ Traffic │ │ │ │ Superintendent, E.I. │ │ │ │ Railway │ │Saddler │Henry Briggs │15th Hussars, Meerut │ │Trooper │Harry Howes │Superintendent, Rangoon │ │ │ │ Boat Club │ │Trooper │Lewis Hills Cubitt │Broker, Calcutta │ │ ” │Herbert Nicholson Betts │Jute Broker, Calcutta │ │ ” │Walter Douglas Jones │Merchant, Calcutta │ │ ” │William Burton Elwes │Indo-European │ │ │ │ Telegraphs, Madras │ │ ” │Charles Edward Turner │Assistant, Messrs. │ │ │ │ Bullock │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ Brothers, │ │ │ │ Rangoon │ │ ” │Thomas Brinsley │Coffee Planter, Yercand │ │ │ Nicholson │ │ │ ” │Phillip Chamberlayne │Indigo Planter, Purneah │ │ │ Preston │ │ │ ” │Harry Bright Oldham │Tea Planter │ │ ” │George Alfred Gowenlock │Tea Planter, Darjeeling │ │ ” │Eian Ingram Lockhart │Indigo Planter, Behar │ │ ” │Reginald William Royds │Indigo Planter, Purneah │ │ │ Birch │ │ │ ” │Alfred Frederick Franks │Assistant Engineer, │ │ │ │ B.-N. Railway │ │ ” │Morris William Clifford │P.W.D. Accounts, Lahore │ │ ” │Cecil Grant Huddleston │Mining Engineer, │ │ │ │ Hyderabad State │ │ ” │John Graves[A] │Assistant, Bank of │ │ │ │ Bengal, Hyderabad │ │ ” │Alfred Holberton Francis│Assistant, Messrs. Thos.│ │ │ │ Cook │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ & Sons, Rangoon │ │ ” │Charles Henry McMinn │N.W.P. Police │ │ ” │William Harold Nicolay │N.W.P. Police │ │ ” │Harry Baden Powis │Tutor, Simla │ │ ” │Harold Cooper │Assistant Engineer, East│ │ │ │ Coast Railway │ │ ” │Henry Dawson Were │Gentleman, Broadclyst, │ │ │ │ S. Devon │ │ │ │ │ │ NO. 3 SECTION │ │ │ │ │ │Sergeant │Harry Alexander Campbell│Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Natroeull Estate, │ │ │ │ Koppa, Kadur Dist. │ │Corporal │Lionel Edward Kirwan │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Santaweri Estate, │ │ │ │ Birur, Kadur Dist. │ │Lance-Corporal │George Horne │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Bykarhully Estate, │ │ │ │ Sakluspur, Hassan │ │ │ │ Dist. │ │ ” │Talbot Cox │Coffee Planter, Santi │ │ │ │ Kappa Estate, North │ │ │ │ Coorg │ │Trooper │Bernard Cayley │Coffee Planter, Honpet │ │ │ │ Estate, Santaweri, │ │ │ │ Birur, Kadur Dist. │ │ ” │Lionel Kingchurch │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Balihonur Estate, │ │ │ │ Kadur Dist. │ │ ” │Francis Bere Follett │Coffee Planter, Bynekhan│ │ │ │ Estate, Chickamagloor,│ │ │ │ Kadur Dist. │ │ ” │Henry Percy Cobb │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Arabedicool Estate, │ │ │ │ Chickamagloor, Kadur │ │ │ │ Dist. │ │ ” │James Charles Dent │Coffee Planter, Bynekhan│ │ │ Bewsher │ Estate, Chickamagloor,│ │ │ │ Kadur Dist. │ │ ” │Arthur Ernest Norton │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Santaweri Estate, │ │ │ │ Birur, Kadur Dist. │ │ ” │Thomas Edward Marmaduke │Indigo Broker, Madras │ │ │ Lawson │ │ │ ” │Montagu Beadon Follett │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Nungangode Estate, │ │ │ │ Mysore │ │ ” │Crosbie Charles Harvey │Coffee Planter, Davekhan│ │ │ │ Estate, Koppa, Kadur │ │ │ │ Dist. │ │Trooper │Hugh Allardice │Coffee Planter, Burgode │ │ │ │ Estate, Chickamagloor,│ │ │ │ Kadur Dist. │ │ ” │Melville Seymour Biscoe │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Chickolly Estate, │ │ │ │ Chickamagloor, Kadur │ │ │ │ Dist. │ │ ” │Herbert Cecil Wood │Coffee Planter, Mercara,│ │ │ │ North Coorg │ │ ” │Thomas Lawrence Dalton │Coffee Planter, Huntrey │ │ │ │ Estate, Shanwara │ │ │ │ Santi, Mungerabad │ │ ” │John Arthur Graham │Coffee Planter, Halari │ │ │ │ Estate, Mercara, North│ │ │ │ Coorg │ │ ” │Claude Kennedy Martin │Coffee Planter, Palamado│ │ │ │ Estate, Mercara, North│ │ │ │ Coorg │ │ ” │Lewis Collingwood Bearne│Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Pollibetta Estate, │ │ │ │ South Coorg │ │ ” │Rex Johnston Smith │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Pollibetta Estate, │ │ │ │ South Coorg │ │ ” │Herbert Evetts │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Murguddi, Sullibile, │ │ │ │ Kadur Dist. │ │ ” │Claude Francis Walton │Police Inspector, Mysore│ │ │ │ Service, Mudigiri, │ │ │ │ Kadur Dist. │ │ ” │David Onslow Allardice │Coffee Planter, Gubcull │ │ │ │ Estate, Mudigiri, │ │ │ │ Kadur Dist. │ │ ” │Seymour Sladden │Coffee Planter, Badni │ │ │ │ Estate, Sudaspore, │ │ │ │ Hassan Dist. │ │ ” │Ernest Alfred Sydenham │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ Clarke │ Hitherhulli Estate, │ │ │ │ Shanwara Santi, │ │ │ │ Mungerabad │ │ ” │Charles Elsee │Coffee Planter, Shanwara│ │ │ │ Santi, Mungerabad, │ │ │ │ Hassan Dist. │ │ ” │Divie Robertson │Coffee Planter, Kerke │ │ │ │ Coondah Estate, │ │ │ │ Sullibile, Kadur Dist.│ │ ” │Francis Hannay │Coffee Planter, Could │ │ │ Cunningham │ Hilton Estate, Koppa, │ │ │ │ Kadur Dist. │ │ │ │ │ │ NO. 4 SECTION │ │ │ │ │ │Sergeant │Ernest Dawson │Uncovenanted Civil │ │ │ │ Service, Pagan, Burmah│ │Vety.-Sergeant │Lewis Joseph Orland │Superintendent of │ │ │ Oakley │ Stables, Maharajah of │ │ │ │ Cooch-Behar │ │ ” │Frank Deccan Sheriff │Tea Planter, Eastern │ │ │ Mitchell │ Assam Co., Balijan │ │Sig.-Sergeant │Albert John Longman │Sergeant Signaller, 3rd │ │ │ │ Hussars, Lucknow │ │Corporal │Alick Cyril Pratt[A] │D.I.S., B. & N.W. │ │ │ │ Railway, Somastipore │ │Lance-Corporal │Arthur D. Butler │Assistant, Messrs. Oakes│ │ │ │ & Co., Madras │ │ ” │Albert Hedley Jackman[A]│Traveller, Messrs. │ │ │ │ Wrenn, Bennett & Co., │ │ │ │ Madras │ │Signaller │William Lowe │3rd Hussars, Lucknow │ │Shoeing-Smith │Osborne Reginald │Shoeing Smith, 15th │ │ │ Cuthbert │ Hussars, Meerut │ │Trooper │William Kilner Brown │Assistant, Audit Office,│ │ │ │ E.I. Railway, Calcutta│ │ ” │Herbert James Moorhouse │P.O. Department, │ │ │ │ Bangalore │ │ ” │John Boyd Johnston │Assistant, Planters’ │ │ │ │ Stores and Agency Co.,│ │ │ │ Ltd., Calcutta │ │ ” │Charles W. Maxwell │Assistant, Messrs. │ │ │ │ William Watson & Co., │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Hugh James Renny │Tea Planter, Jalpaiguri │ │ ” │George Augustus │Secretary, Rampur Raj, │ │ │ Phillips[A] │ Rampur, N.W.P. │ │ ” │David Liddell │2nd Officer, B.I.S.N. │ │ │ Livingstone │ Co., Calcutta │ │ ” │James Moore │Cawnpore Woollen Mills, │ │ │ │ Cawnpore, N.W.P. │ │ ” │William Walter Hight │Coffee Planter, │ │ │ │ Valakadai Peak │ │ │ │ Estate,Yercand, Salem │ │ ” │Edward John Burgess │Assistant to the │ │ │ │ Secretary, Government │ │ │ │ of India, Home Dept. │ │ ” │Robert Pennington │Chief Officer, B.I.S.N. │ │ │ Williams │ Co., Calcutta │ │ ” │Richard Grant Dagge │Captain, B.I.S.N. Co., │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Arthur King Meares │Gentleman, Ranchi, Chota│ │ │ │ Nagpur │ │ ” │Willie King Meares │Gentleman, Ranchi, Chota│ │ │ │ Nagpur │ │ ” │Walter Ernest Dexter │Chief Officer, Hajee │ │ │ │ Cassim Line of │ │ │ │ Steamers, Bombay │ │ ” │Sydney Ward Circuitt │Jute Merchant, Pubna, │ │ │ Lucas │ Lower Bengal │ │ ” │Harry Rufus Parks │Asiatic Steam Navigation│ │ │ │ Co., Calcutta │ │ ” │Robert Charles Nolan │Mounted Police, Calcutta│ │ ” │Joseph Seymour Biscoe │Salt Revenue Dept., │ │ │ │ Northern Frontier, │ │ │ │ Singum │ │ ” │John Lewis Behan │Journalist, Calcutta │ │ ” │Douglas Morison │Tea Planter, Assam │ │ ” │Harry McGregor │Engineer, B.I.S.N. Co., │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ │ │ │ │ A COMPANY TRANSPORT │ │ │ │ │ │Sergeant │Fred. Stephens │Indian Commissariat │ │ │ │ Transport Department, │ │ │ │ Howrah │ │Driver │George Edward Wilkinson │Clerk, Medical College │ │ │ │ Hospital, Calcutta │ │ ” │Sydney Graham │Clerk, B.I.S.N. Company │ │ │ Nightingale │ │ │ ” │Leo. Davis │Tea Planter, Darjeeling │ │ ” │Herbert Gregory Phillips│Clerk, B.I.S.N. Company │ │ ” │Douglas Daly │Foot Police, Calcutta │ │ ” │Richard Arthur Grenville│Foot Police, Calcutta │ │ ” │Percy William Pryce │Assistant, Messrs. │ │ │ │ Peliti & Co., Calcutta│ │ ” │Percy Harrington Paxton │Custom House Officer, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Frederick Charles │Custom House Officer, │ │ │ Manville │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Richard Parker │Assistant, Grand Hotel, │ │ │ Estabrooke │ Darjeeling │ │ ” │George Johnston Shaw │Guard, E.I. Railway, │ │ │ │ Jamalpore │ │ ” │Edmond John Power │Travelling Agent, │ │ │ │ Messrs. Phelps & Co., │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │John Charles[A] │Rice Broker, Rangoon │ │ ” │Trewren Hare Scott │Rawalpindi │ │ ” │George William Harrison │Guard, E.I. Railway, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │John Canute Doyle │Reporter, ‘Englishman,’ │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │Driver │George William Palmer │Gentleman, Calcutta │ │ ” │William G. Arthurton │Assistant, Messrs. │ │ │ │ Whiteaway, Laidlaw, & │ │ │ │ Co., Calcutta │ │ ” │Lionel Willis │Theatrical Agent, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │John Frederick Richey │Audit Department, E.I. │ │ │ │ Railway, Jamalpore │ │ ” │Patrick W. Anderson │Assistant, Great Eastern│ │ │ │ Hotel, Calcutta │ │ ” │William Edward Harris │Clerk, E.I. Railway, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Charles William │Assistant, Messrs. │ │ │ Lovegrove │ Whiteaway, Laidlaw, & │ │ │ │ Co., Calcutta │ │ ” │Leo Horatio Bradford │Assistant, Messrs. Ball,│ │ │ │ Mudie, & Co., Lahore │ │ ” │Sherbrook William Cullen│Assistant, Messrs. │ │ │ │ Harman & Co., Calcutta│ │ ” │William Burnand │Clerk, E.I. Railway, │ │ │ │ Jamalpore │ │ │ │ │ │ B COMPANY TRANSPORT │ │ │ │ │ │Driver │John James Campbell │Assistant Tea Planter, │ │ │ │ Dibrugarh, Assam │ │ ” │Alfred Morris │Assistant, Adelphi │ │ │ │ Hotel, Calcutta │ │ ” │William B. Brown │Engineer, B.I.S.N. Co. │ │ ” │John Francis E. Morley │Assistant Tea Planter, │ │ │ │ Kandie, Ceylon │ │ ” │Francis Campbell │Clerk, E.I. Railway, │ │ │ Thompson │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Walter Henry Wheeler │Manager, Charing Cross │ │ │ │ Hotel, Lahore │ │ ” │Harry Archibald Campbell│Assistant, Messrs. │ │ │ │ Davis, Leech, & Co., │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Albert Martin │Custom House Officer, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Ernest Henry Waller │Coffee Planter │ │ ” │Henry Tomlinson Smith │Travelling Agent, Great │ │ │ │ Eastern Hotel, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Harry Richard Rice │Clerk, Custom House, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │George Goodliffe │Veterinary Surgeon, │ │ │ │ Messrs. Brown & Co., │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Richard Millett Crux │Military Accounts │ │ │ │ Office, Lahore │ │ ” │Sydney Herbert Bradford │Assistant, Messrs. Ball,│ │ │ │ Mudie, & Co., Lahore │ │ ” │Stephen Harry Kearsey │Military Accounts │ │ │ │ Office, Lahore │ │ ” │Edward Adlam │Railway Coolie │ │ │ │ Contractor, Lahore │ │ ” │Ormond Edward Fitzgerald│Tea Planter, Kangra │ │ │ │ Valley │ │ ” │Henry William Fuller │Coffee Planter │ │ ” │William Rust │Agent for the Maharajah │ │ │ │ of Nepal, Calcutta │ │ ” │John Braine │Tea Planter, Gauhati, │ │ │ │ Assam │ │ ” │Robert Wallace Hyde │Assistant, Bristol │ │ │ │ Hotel, Calcutta │ │ ” │Harry Macgregor │Engineer, B.I.S.N. Co., │ │ │ │ Wellington, New │ │ │ │ Zealand │ │ ” │Richard Pringle │Clerk, Custom House, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Fred Leslie Lowther │Clerk, Custom House, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ │ ” │Patrick William Banks │Guard, E.I. Railway, │ │ │ │ Jamalpore │ │ ” │Robert Henry Baldwin │Custom House Officer, │ │ │ │ Calcutta │ └──────────────────┴────────────────────────┴────────────────────────┘

Footnote A:

Subsequently promoted.



_Scheme for the despatch of Two Companies Mounted Volunteers to South Africa_

Her Majesty’s Government having accepted the offer of the Government of India to provide a force of Mounted Volunteers for service in South Africa, two companies of Mounted Infantry, to be called ‘The Indian Mounted Infantry Corps (Lumsden’s Horse),’ will be raised immediately at Calcutta under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel D. McT. Lumsden, of the Volunteer Force of India, Supernumerary List, Assam Valley Light Horse.

_Terms of Enlistment._—The term of enlistment for officers and men will be for one year, or for not less than the period of the war.

All members of the force will be entitled to free passages to India on discharge or completion of engagement.

Preference will be given to Volunteers from Mounted Volunteer corps, but Volunteers belonging to Infantry corps who may possess the requisite qualifications will also be eligible.

_Qualifications._—Candidates must be from twenty to forty years of age and of good character. Infantry Volunteers must show that they are good riders.

All candidates must obtain a medical certificate of fitness for active service. Civil surgeons will be asked to examine free of charge all candidates applying for enlistment.

_Pay._—The pay and allowances for officers and men will be at British Cavalry rates from date of enlistment.

_Allowances._—Particulars regarding wound pensions, gratuities, and family pensions will be given later.

_Rations._—All ranks will receive rations as for British soldiers from date of joining.

_Organisation._—_Establishment._—The corps will be organised in two companies as under:

───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Officers Sergeants Artificers Buglers R.&F. Total ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Staff— Lieutenant-Colonel 1 — — — — 1 Second in Command 1 — — — — 1 Adjutant and 1[B] — — — — 1 Quartermaster Medical Officer 1 — — — — 1 Quartermaster- — 1[B] — — — 1 Sergeant ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Total 4 1 — — — 5 ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Detail of one Company— Major (or Captain) 1[B] — — — — 1 Captain or 4 — — — — 4 Subalterns Company — 1[B] — — — 1 Sergeant-Major Company Quartermaster- Sergeant — 1[B] — — — 1 Sergeants — 4 — — — 4 Farrier-Sergeant — 1[B] — — — 1 Shoeing-Smiths — — 2[C] — — 2 Saddlers — — 1 — — 1 Signallers — 1 — — 1 2 Buglers — — — 2[C] — 2 Rank and File — — — — 104 104 ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Total of one Company 5 8 3 2 105 123 ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Total of two 10 16 6 4 210 246 Companies ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Total of Staff 4 1 — — — 5 ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── GRAND TOTAL OF UNIT 14 17 6 4 210 251 ─────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

─────────────────────────────────────────────── Horses Ponies Private or Mules Followers ─────────────────────────────────────────────── Staff— Lieutenant-Colonel 2 3 Second in Command 2 3 Adjutant and 2 3 Quartermaster Medical Officer 2 3 Quartermaster- 1 — Sergeant ─────────────────────────────────────────────── Total 9 12 ─────────────────────────────────────────────── Detail of one Company— Major (or Captain) 2 3 Captain or 8 12 Subalterns Company 1 — Sergeant-Major Company Quartermaster- Sergeant 1 — Sergeants 4 — Farrier-Sergeant 1 — Shoeing-Smiths 2 — Saddlers 1 — Signallers 2 — Buglers 2 — Rank and File 104 — ─────────────────────────────────────────────── Total of one Company 128 15 ─────────────────────────────────────────────── Total of two 256 30 Companies ─────────────────────────────────────────────── Total of Staff 9 12 ─────────────────────────────────────────────── GRAND TOTAL OF UNIT 265 42 ───────────────────────────────────────────────

Footnote B:

From Regular Army.

Footnote C:

One from Regular Army, the other a Volunteer.

The following officers, non-commissioned officers, and men will be drawn from the Regular Army:

Adjutant and Quartermaster 1 Company Commanders (Majors or Captains) 2

Total Officers 3 Quartermaster-Sergeant 1 Company Sergeant-Majors 2 Company Quartermaster-Sergeants 2 Farrier-Sergeants 2 Shoeing-Smiths 2 Saddlers 2 Signallers 4 Buglers 2 — Total 17

The force will be equipped and trained as Mounted Infantry.

Officers will be equipped and armed as far as possible like the men.

Officers and men will provide their own horses.

Officers’ Servants.—Officers will be allowed one personal native servant each and one syce for each charger. Total, three native servants per officer.

_Ordnance Department._—Arms, ammunition, accoutrements, and equipment will be issued _free_ by the Ordnance Department according to the scales given.

Officers and men will be armed with ·303 rifles and bayonets.

All members of Volunteer corps of Light Horse or Mounted Rifles joining the corps may, if they so wish it, bring with them the saddlery and equipment issued to them in their present corps.

Saddlery and camp equipment, according to the scales given, will be supplied under regimental arrangements. If required the Ordnance Department will supply saddlery and camp equipment on payment.

The Ordnance Department will supply _free_ transport saddlery and draught harness according to scale given.

Line gear including one knee halter per horse will be provided _free_ by the Ordnance Department.

Two horse loads of entrenching tools as for a British Cavalry regiment, together with complete equipment of saddlery, bridles, and entrenching tool bags for two horses, will be provided _free_ by Ordnance Department.

Artificers’ tools and stores and miscellaneous stores, including two light forges for pack saddles, will be issued _free_ by Ordnance Department.

_Signalling._—Signalling equipment will be issued _free_ on the field service scale for a British Cavalry regiment.

_Ammunition._—Small-arm ammunition will be issued at the rate of 650 rounds per rifle, calculated according to the following scale:

On soldier 100 rounds per rifles

1st Reserve (34 boxes) 132 ” ”

2nd ” (Ammunition Column and 268 ” ” Park)

Practice ammunition 150 ” ”

Mark II. ·303 ammunition only will be taken for use in South Africa. The practice ammunition may be black powder ammunition.

Revolver ammunition will be issued at the rate of 150 rounds per officer’s revolver calculated as under:

On person 24 rounds per revolver

1st Reserve 26 ” ”

2nd ” (Ammunition Column and 50 ” ” Park)

Practice ammunition 50 ” ”

Total 150

Two boxes of revolver ammunition will be carried with the 1st reserve rifle ammunition. All the above ammunition will be issued at Calcutta.

The 2nd reserve of rifle and revolver ammunition will on arrival of the corps in South Africa be handed over to the Ordnance Department as may be directed by the local military authorities.

_Cooking Utensils._—Cooking utensils will be provided _free_ by the Commissariat Department if required—viz., five sets of three oval camp kettles (with one gridiron, chopper, and ladle for each kettle) per company; one set weighs 39½ lb.

_Transport._—Transport mules or ponies will be provided by the corps for 1st reserve ammunition, medical equipment and signalling equipment. These animals should be trained to draught or pack work. Army transport _carts_ as required will be provided _free_ by the Commissariat Department.

_Clothing._—Sea kit, as prescribed for the Cape Route in Army Regulations, India, Volume V., Article 2166 (but without mattresses), will be issued _free_ to all non-commissioned officers and men by the Commissariat Transport Department.

Clothing will be provided under regimental arrangements, but field service and other clothing as required will be issued on payment indent by the Commissariat Transport Department.

_Supplies._—(_a_) Thirty days’ sea rations for men and animals will be placed on the transport by the Commissariat Department.

(_b_) In addition to the above sea rations, three months’ rations for men and one month’s crushed gram and compressed hay for animals will be provided and shipped by the Commissariat Department.

(_c_) Supplies will be packed in one-maund packages and in waterproof bags where necessary.

_Veterinary._—The Principal Veterinary Officer in India will arrange for the veterinary inspection of horses before embarkation and for the necessary veterinary arrangements for the voyage. The corps will be provided _free_ with two field veterinary chests and two veterinary wallets.

_Medical._—The Principal Medical Officer of her Majesty’s Forces in India will issue orders for the necessary medical arrangements for the voyage. The corps will be provided _free_ with medical equipment as for a British Cavalry regiment on field service, except that two field stretchers and four blanket stretchers will be provided.

_Office Stationery._—The Superintendent Government Stationery will issue _free_ such stationery as may be required for use in the regimental office.

The Superintendent Government Printing will supply _free_ such books and forms as may be required for use in the regimental office.

The officers in charge Mathematical Instrument Office will issue _free_ such instruments as may be required on a scale not exceeding that of a British Cavalry regiment on field service.

_Embarkation._—The force will be embarked at Calcutta. The Director of the Royal Indian Marine will arrange for the necessary sea transport for conveyance of the force, informing the General Officer Commanding Presidency District of the vessel or vessels he proposes to charter. The vessels will then be surveyed in accordance with Army Regulations, India, Volume X., and as soon as the date of sailing is known the General Officer Commanding the Presidency District will arrange for the embarkation of the force. Details regarding the transports engaged, date of sailing, and probable date of arrival at Durban should be sent to Army Headquarters and to the Bengal Command.

_Stores, Rest Camps._—The General Officer Commanding the Presidency District will make such arrangements as may be needed to facilitate the raising of the force, the provision of such storage accommodation as may be necessary, and for rest camps. He will be responsible for receiving stores for the force and for loading the transport.

_Telegrams._—The Lieutenant-General Commanding the Forces, Bengal, will authorise the despatch of telegrams on the ‘debit note’ system from such offices as may be concerned with the raising, equipment, and despatch of the force. He will communicate to the Director-General of Telegraphs the designations and head-quarters of officers whom he authorises to use the ‘debit note’ system, and any other offices from which such telegrams are likely to be despatched. ‘Debit note’ telegrams cannot be despatched from railway offices.

All telegrams will be endorsed, ‘Lumsden’s Horse. Debit cost to Military Department.’

_Report and Maps of Transvaal._—Copies of ‘A Short Military Report on the Transvaal,’ together with maps, will be supplied by the Intelligence Branch, Quartermaster-General’s Department, Simla.

_Press Correspondents._—No member of the corps will be permitted to act as a Press correspondent except with the special permission of the military authorities in South Africa.

_Expenditure Accounts._—The various departments of the Army are authorised to issue on ‘payment indents’ such supplies, stores, equipment, and clothing as may be required, in addition to the free issues referred to above. All such payment indents will be clearly marked ‘Lumsden’s Horse. On payment.’

All supplies, stores, equipment, and clothing issued from stock to the force should be replaced as soon as possible, and all charges connected with the raising, equipping, and despatching of the force other than those borne by the corps itself should be debited to the Government of India under the heading ‘Lumsden’s Horse.’

FORT WILLIAM: _January 1900_.


┌──────────────────────────────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐ │ —— │ Officers │ N.C.O. and │ │ │ │ Men │ ├──────────────────────────────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤ │ │ │ │ │ _On Person_ │ │ │ │Helmet with khaki cover, pagri, and chin │ 1 │ 1 │ │strap (or felt hat) │ │ │ │Khaki serge coat │ 1 │ 1 │ │Pantaloons, Bedford cord │ 1 │ 1 │ │Khaki putties or leather gaiters │ 1 │ 1 │ │Walking boots │ 1 │ 1 │ │Spurs, jack │ 1 │ 1 │ │Drawers │ 1 │ 1 │ │Flannel shirt │ 1 │ 1 │ │Socks, woollen pairs │ 1 │ 1 │ │Vest │ 1 │ 1 │ │Flannel belt │ 1 │ 1 │ │Braces │ 1 │ 1 │ │Pocket handkerchief │ 1 │ — │ │Sword │ 1 │ 1 │ │Revolver (and ammunition) │ 1 │ — │ │Belts set │ 1 │ 1 │ │Bandolier │ 1 │ 1 │ │Field glasses (if not on saddle) │ 1 │ 1 (N.C.O. │ │ │ │ only) │ │Compass │ 1 │1 (ditto)│ │Watch │ 1 │1 (ditto)│ │Note-book │ 1 │1 (ditto)│ │Water-bottle │ 1 │ 1 │ │Haversack, with knife, fork, and cup │ 1 │ 1 │ │Map, linen (if available) │ 1 │ 1 (N.C.O. │ │ │ │ only) │ │First field dressing (in special pocket) │ 1 │ 1 │ │Descriptive card (ditto) │ — │ 1 │ │Emergency ration (if available) │ 1 │ 1 │ │Pocket dressing-case │ 1 (Medical │ — │ │ │ Officer │ │ │ │ only) │ │ │ │ │ │ │ _Carried in Kit_ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │Khaki helmet cover, spare │ 1 │ 1 │ │Khaki drill coat │ 1 │ 1 │ │Khaki serge coat │ 1 │ 1 │ │Khaki trousers, serge │ 1 │ 1 │ │ ” ” drill │ 1 │ 1 │ │Pantaloons, Bedford cord │ 1 │ 1 │ │Field service cap │ 1 │ 1 │ │Walking boots (and spare laces) │ 1 │ 1 │ │Putties, khaki pair │ 1 │ 1 │ │Drawers │ 2 │ 1 │ │Flannel shirts │ 2 │ 1 │ │Socks, woollen pairs │ 3 │ 1 │ │Vests │ 2 │ 1 │ │Flannel belt │ 1 │ 1 │ │Pocket-handkerchiefs │ 5 │ 2 │ │Housewife │ 1 │ 1 │ │Holdall │ 1 │ 1 │ │Towels │ 2 │ 2 │ │Blankets │ 2 │ 2 │ │Wolseley valise │ 1 │ — │ │Waterproof sheet │ 1 │ 1 │ │Basin, canvas │ 1 │ — │ │Dubbing tin │ 1 │ 1 │ │Small book │ — │ 1 │ │Diary │ 1 │ — │ │Field Service Departmental Code, Medical │ 1 (Medical │ │ │ │ Officer │ │ │ │ only) │ │ │Writing-case │ 1 │ — │ │Lantern │ 1 │ — │ │Cardigan jacket │ 1 │ 1 │ │Warm coat │ 1 │ 1 │ │Mittens pair │ 1 │ 1 │ │Balaclava cap │ 1 │ 1 │ │Cooking utensils set │ 1 │ — │ │Enamelled tin plates, cups, &c. set │ 1 │ 1 │ │Logline for packing, 15 feet │ — │ 1 │ └──────────────────────────────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘

_Artificers’ Tools and Stores (to be supplied free by Government)_

Armourer’s tools and stores 80 lb.

Saddler’s tools and stores 160 ”

Materials for repairs of accoutrements, saddlery, 160 ” and line gear

Shoeing iron and charcoal 160 ”

Reserve of shoes with nails 160 ”

_Miscellaneous Stores (to be supplied free by Government)_

Handcuffs 2 pairs

Steelyards, with weights, complete 1 set

Scales, weights, with small stores, &c. 1

Light forges, Mark IV., pack saddle, I.P. 2

_Veterinary Stores (to be supplied free by Government)_

Universal field veterinary chests 2

Veterinary wallets 2

_Medical Stores (to be supplied free by Government)_

Medical field panniers 1 pair

Field medical companion 1

” surgical haversack 1

” ” Cavalry bag 1

” stretchers 2

Blanket stretchers 4

_Quartermaster’s Stores (to be supplied on payment by Government if required)._

Drawers, cotton 25 pairs

Coats, khaki serge 25

Trousers, serge, khaki 25 pairs

” drill ” 25 ”

Boots, ankle 25 ”

Socks, woollen 25 ”

Shirts, flannel 25

Caps, forage 10

Buttons, coat, small 6 doz.

” iron, trousers 2 gross

Cloth, serge, khaki 20 yds.

Chin, strapers, helmet, leather 10

Thread, black and coloured 5 lb.

” khaki 4 ”

Dubbing Soap, washing 30 ”

Scissors, tailor’s, 9” 1 pair

Oil, Rangoon (1 gallon per company) 2 cans

_Shoemakers’ Tools and Stores (to be supplied free by Government)_

Soles, half pairs 50

Lifts ” ” 50

Tips ” ” 50

Nails, tip 1 lb.

Rivets 7 ”

Feet, iron, 9” 2

Leather, spare Hemp balls, 24-lb. 1

Tools, shoemakers’ 10

_Entrenching Tools (to be supplied free by Government)_

Shovels, light 20

Pickaxes, ” 20

Felling axes 8

Bill-hooks 16

Hooks, reaping 32

Bags, entrenching tool 2 pairs

Carried on one horse per company.

_Maxim Equipment_

One Maxim gun. One tripod mounting, &c.

_Camp Equipment (to be supplied under regimental arrangements)_

Officers, 80-lb. tent each. Non-commissioned officers and men, 8 per 80-lb. G.S. tent. Office, 80-lb. tent. Surgery, 80-lb. tent. Quarter-guard, 80-lb. tent. Rearguard, 240-lb. tent.


Officers, 80 lb. each. Non-commissioned officers and men, 40 lb. each.

_Saddlery and Line Gear (to be supplied free by Government)_ _For each Horse_

One hay-net. │One set head and heel ropes. One nosebag, canvas. │One set heel-pegs. One watering-bridle. │One jhool. One horse-brush. │One blanket. One curry-comb. │One set spare shoes with nails. One knee-halter. │One horse rubber. One canvas water-bucket. │One waterproof harness wrapper. One numnah. │Water buckets, one to four horses. One eye-fringe. │Sponges, one to ten horses. One chagul. │Clipping machines, one to ten horses. One headstall. │Hoof-pickers, one to five horses.


Cooking utensils, five sets per company 10 sets Tables, office, 14 lb. each 2 Chairs ” 4 lb. each 2 Yakdans, office. Weight full 80 lb. each 1 pair

_Reserve Saddlery (to be supplied free by Government)_

Saddle. │Horse brush. │Headstall. Numnah. │Curry-comb. │Head-ropes. Bridle. │Knee-halter. │Heel-pegs. Reins. │Canvas water-bucket.│Jhool. Bit, complete. │Eye-fringe. │Blanket. Nosebags, canvas. │Chaguls. │ Watering bridle. │ │

Pay as for British Cavalry of the Line (_vide_ Article 780, Royal Warrant for Pay and Promotion):

┌────────────────────────────────────┬─────────────────┐ │Rank │ Per day │ │ │ _£._ _s._ _d._│ │Lieutenant-Colonel │ 1 1 6│ │Major │ 15 0│ │Captain │ 13 0│ │Lieutenant │ 7 8│ │Second-Lieutenant │ 6 8│ │Adjutant (and Quartermaster) │ 5 0[D]│ │Quartermaster-Sergeant │ 4 4│ │Company Sergeant-Major │ 4 4│ │Company Quartermaster-Sergeant │ 3 4│ │Sergeant │ 2 8│ │Farrier Sergeant │ 2 10│ │Shoeing Smith │ 1 8│ │Saddler │ 1 9½│ │Bugler │ 1 4│ │Corporal (if paid as Lance-Sergeant)│ 2 4│ │Corporal │ 2 0│ │Private (appointed Lance-Corporal) │ 1 6│ │Private │ 1 2│ └────────────────────────────────────┴─────────────────┘

Footnote D:

In addition to pay of rank.


Captain and Adjutant Taylor contributes the following notes and suggestions for consideration:

There were a certain number of points which struck me very forcibly during the campaign, and I should like to give them for what they are worth. There may be certain conditions to be considered, the importance of which outweighs all others, so that the following notes must be regarded only as an attempt to carry out the duty which every man owes to his profession, by showing things in the light in which he saw them. Higher authorities, busy about big affairs, fail sometimes to notice the important details with which juniors are brought in daily contact.

_Spare Horses._—The corps started from India with one horse per man and the necessary complement of transport animals. There were a few casualties on the journey, which were replaced at Cape Town, and the corps began work in good condition, but with no spare animals. The supposition apparently is that men fall out just as fast as the horses. This did not prove correct in South Africa, and it is hard to believe that it would be so elsewhere provided the work required was of an active mounted kind. Therefore true economy would seem to dictate the provision of spare horses. Very soon with us a few horses got slight sore backs, but as every mounted man available was required it was found impossible to ease these horses; the inevitable result being that after a few days they were unfit for work. Consequently a similar number of men had to be taken from the fighting strength and their saddles put into the carts. As the work continued, more horses gave out, and more loads were put into the carts. Hence, while the transport animals grew weaker their loads grew heavier. To take figures. The nominal strength of the mounted portion of the corps was 250 men; actually the largest number we ever had in action was 185. The average in the fighting line was under 150; of the remainder, fifty were short on account of sickness and casualties, and fifty on account of horses short. Had we had fifty spare horses, every available man could have been mounted. As a matter of fact, thirty spare horses would probably have sufficed, as, on the principle of ‘a stitch in time,’ the timely ‘easing’ of trivial cases—such as a slight sore back or temporary indisposition—would have saved many a horse’s usefulness or life. The further you go, the more necessary such reliefs become. The exact number of spare horses depends upon the class of work required. To my mind, this is one of the lessons we should learn from the Boers, who generally had two horses per man, and often five. These spare horses can conveniently march with the veterinary hospital and be taken care of by a small ‘native’ staff. Working on this principle, Lumsden’s Horse kept every man mounted during two months’ ceaseless trek, and the horses were practically all fit and well at the end of it. On the other system each man used up seven horses in as many months. To put it in brief. A corps of 250 men and 250 horses, with their baggage, would, at the end of a week’s hard marching and fighting, be less efficient than a corps of 200 men with 250 horses, in that they would have no more mounted men in the field, while their transport would have to carry food and kit for the extra fifty men, in addition to the fifty saddles of the dismounted men, weighing some five stones each, and also probably the fifty dismounted men themselves.

The same principles affect the question of the number of baggage animals.

_Method of Carrying Ammunition._—Our equipment for ammunition to be carried by the man took the shape of a belt with two cross braces. On the former were leather pouches to hold packets of cartridges, and on the latter bandolier attachments to take single cartridges. The disadvantages were many. (1) It necessitated the man carrying a heavy weight constantly on his body or else hiding packets of ammunition in his holsters, whence they were difficult to extract and where he often left them in the hurry of a dismount. (2) The pouches were a great discomfort to the men when lying down to snatch much-needed rest in the many short intervals at their disposal. (3) The whole weight of the ammunition came on to the saddle when the man was mounted, and went some way towards causing sore backs. (4) Marching on foot with this load of ammunition was so irksome that it soon tired the soldier and made him urge and take every possible excuse for remaining mounted.

_The proposed remedy_ is to give every man two bandoliers holding fifty rounds each and a bayonet-belt to take fifty rounds. The bandoliers to be habitually buckled round the horse’s neck, like collars. When going into action the man can transfer one or both bandoliers to his own shoulders even without dismounting. Should he have under-estimated the amount of ammunition required, and have left one or both of these bandoliers on his horse, they can be sent for and found with no difficulty, the distribution being also very simple. Taking the weight of this ammunition off the saddle helps to save sore back. The man will walk unencumbered, and consequently will walk more readily, and can do so for longer distances, besides being in a better state for duties when he gets to camp. On a similar principle the rifle should not be carried by the soldier when marching dismounted, as it is better to keep his weight, say eleven stone, off the horse’s back as long as possible, and it will be longer if you put the rifle-weight, seven pounds, on to the horse and not on to the man.

_Spare Ammunition._—Anything in excess of this 150 rounds per man should be, and was, carried on a led mule or horse, who could keep up with the mounted men.

_Picketing Gear_ caused us much trouble, as every kind of ground entailed a different stamp of peg—_e.g._, a small iron peg did not hold in sandy soil, wooden ones broke in rocky ground, while the bundle of rope and pegs was an extra weight on the horse, and caused the saddle to roll besides making the man less handy at getting on and off his horse. The remedy was to have no heel-ropes or pegs carried on the saddle horse, and to substitute three big iron pegs with fifty yards of ‘line rope’ and a heavy mallet to every fifty men, carried on a pack-animal with the ammunition mules. On arrival in camp these pegs were driven in, the line rope stretched between them, and the horses tied to each side of it by their head-ropes: heel-ropes were not found necessary. This worked perfectly except on detached duties, when perhaps ten men were separated for some ‘post,’ when they had to ‘ring’ their horses—i.e., tie them together by their head-ropes in a circle, heads inwards. They are unable to lie down in comfort, which is of course a weak point, but it does not often happen.

_Marching._—When the object to be attained was to cover as much ground as possible it was found best to trot long stages, with walking intervals between, when the men were made to dismount and lead. The man should never be on his horse except when going faster than a walk. It was found better to trot a good deal than to walk and lead even, because the time saved by the faster pace gave the men and horses time for an appreciable rest and for food while they were ‘off-saddled,’ which should always be done when the enemy’s movements in any way admit of it.

_Shoeing._—Each horse, in marching order, is supposed to carry one complete set of shoes. If every man were trained to see constantly that his horse’s shoes were on firm, a shoe ought seldom to be lost. If a farrier is present, and the man has the necessary nails, a doubtful or loose nail can be drawn and replaced, hence we made the rule that the men should not carry spare shoes, but should carry nails, and we had the farriers with us. Occasionally a horse lost a shoe when on detached duty, but only then; and, after all, if the rider is careful, no serious damage should result. In any case, it is not worth while for every horse to carry a complete set of shoes always, on the chance of one horse requiring one shoe occasionally.

_The Usefulness of Followers_ may be gathered to a certain extent from the fact that none of the officers had chargers killed by anything but bullets. Every officer had an Indian syce, and when a horse had had a hard time it was found that one day marching with the syce restored him. The follower has nothing to think about except to feed the horse when he can, and it is wonderful what good one hour in a field of green wheat or on a good bit of grass does for a tired and underfed animal; besides, the follower often chances on a bundle or two of oat-straw or some such luxury, and in any case the horse has plenty of time for grazing during the delays of the march. The men latterly employed Kaffir boys to a considerable extent, paying them wages out of their own pockets. These Kaffirs received no rations, living on their masters’ leavings and occasional steaks out of dead horses. Taking all considerations together, it would appear to be a saving to use the soldier as much as possible for fighting purposes _only_, and to use native followers for all work that does not entail fighting. Cooks and syces, even in small numbers, would to a great extent ease the fighting man of arduous labour which the follower could do just as well. We should have fewer cases of sickness from want of rest and lack of time to cook properly if a few native cooks accompanied each regiment. And a few syces might save the lives of many horses that have to be neglected by the men when, after a long march and perhaps a fight, they are ordered out on picket directly they arrive in camp. The native is cheaper to feed and more docile to manage, not minding things which Tommy hates—such as cutting grass, for instance. His food is simple, and he can eat it very comfortably going along the road, so that when he gets into camp he is quite fit to go to work. I was told by an officer of the Indian Transport train, who was with General Buller’s force in Natal, that he had taken his corps with his native followers right through to Belfast, and landed his animals there without a single casualty, and not only well, but fat. He attributed it solely to the fact that the servants understood their work and would unload without a murmur a dozen times a day, and cut a heap of grass for every animal when they got to camp. Why not employ the cheaper labourer, and save the dearer for work that suits him better and which the follower cannot do? The answer, I am aware, is that an armed transport man can help to defend the convoy. This is of course true to a limited extent. Our transport men never had a chance of firing a shot, and I think few had. All the ox-waggons and mule-waggons were driven by Kaffirs, on the same grounds as advocated, so why not apply the reasoning to other cases? The argument in favour of the armed transport reminds one of the sportsman who goes out armed with a gun, rifle, and pig-spear, ready for all emergencies, but never has the right weapon in his hand when the game springs up. The spare horse-shoes are another case of the same thing, and there are many others. It is impossible to provide for every contingency.

_Rations._—In a general way the men’s rations were very good, but one or two improvements suggest themselves. First, everyone who has tried it knows that when spirits are not available the body acquires a great craving for sugar, which is no doubt recognised, and hence the jam issue. Chocolate is cheap, by which I mean light to carry, and is enormously appreciated; but more important than anything appear to be the tea, coffee, or cocoa rations, because, in a great measure, on the plentifulness of these depends the amount or otherwise of many diseases, notably enteric. No man will boil water and let it cool simply because he knows it’s a healthy thing to do, but he will boil it to have a good drink of hot tea. If you give him enough, he will have his drink before he goes to bed, another in the morning, and he will also fill his water-bottle with it. Half an ounce per man will accomplish this. I believe the amount allowed per man in South Africa was ⅟16 oz. By the time this had been distributed in the dark, the ration became so small that half-a-dozen men used to toss for the lot, in the hope that one at least would get a good drink. Tea, moreover, is very light. An ox-waggon load is 4,000 lbs., which is 128,000 rations of ½ oz. each; which means that 4,000 men could be given ½ oz. of tea daily for a month, at the cost of one ox-waggon added to the convoy. On our trek from Machadodorp to Pretoria, we carried supplies for about 4,000 men for about a month, and the convoy was many _miles_ long, and I do not think that one ox-waggon added thereto would have given any trouble.

_Firing off Horseback._—The value of this practice on occasions is another of the lessons we might learn from the Boers. I do not pretend that the shooting is accurate, yet it has a great moral advantage in certain circumstances. Imagine yourself on a big rolling veldt doing rearguard. The slopes are easy, and the ridges about 1,000 yards from crest to crest. You hold one and the enemy the next. In order to keep your horses out of fire they must be 200 yards or so away. All is well till you begin to retire, but on rising you at once become visible to the Boer, who first of all shoots at you, and then follows you up at a gallop to have a shot at you before you can gain the next ridge. You retire in a hurry, run the risk of being shot, and have the demoralising feeling that the enemy is gaining rapidly on you and will ‘get at you’ before you gain the next ridge. _But_ leave near the ridge a few mounted men, place them back so far that while they can see the Boer’s ridge, the enemy can only possibly see their heads and shoulders, and order your dismounted men to retire, crawling at first, then stooping, and finally rising. They do this leisurely, as they can see the mounted sentinels watching and they are reassured. These sentinels have no fear, for they can at any time retire at a gallop, while the enemy, hearing the firing, do not like advancing on an unknown number. During the march from Machadodorp to Pretoria, this practice enabled us to do in perfect comfort a rearguard duty which was considered by all other corps very ‘nasty.’

_Suggestions with regard to raising Mounted Volunteer Corps in the future._—Besides the actual experiences of the fighting in South Africa, there were one or two points in connection with the raising of the corps itself, which came to my special notice in the course of my duties as Adjutant and Quartermaster, the knowledge of which would, I think, facilitate matters in the event of anyone raising another Volunteer corps in India for active service.

In my opinion the most important point of all is to make certain that secrecy is maintained. Before any steps are taken for enrolling men, the Adjutant and other officers from the Regular Army should be selected and apportioned their work in connection with the raising of the corps. The ‘Regular’ N.C.O.s should be chosen, and the official scheme drawn up. The first duty falls on the ‘office,’ and it should be properly organised in every detail. Three or four rooms, Quartermaster’s store accommodation, a shorthand writer, at least three or four competent clerks, as well as mounted orderlies, are necessary. A camp pitched complete in every detail should be ready to receive the men, especial attention being paid to the provision of a temporary mess for the men as well as ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ canteens, and of a native food-shop for followers. This can all be done ‘confidentially.’ When the arrangements are complete, the intention to raise the corps and the terms may be made public.

If the fact of the raising of the corps had not leaked out, Government would of course have made all the above suggested arrangements, and things would have gone smoothly from the outset. As it was, every Government official assisted Colonel Lumsden to his utmost power. As a sample of this I may mention that, at their own request, the one squadron of the 14th Bengal Lancers at Alipur supplied eight mounted orderlies daily for six weeks, rendering invaluable assistance in carrying letters. This same squadron marked out the camp for us, and lent their _bunniahs’_ (grain-sellers’) shops for the use of the swarm of servants who came in attendance on the Volunteers. Another difficulty which it would be good to avoid, if possible, was that under existing regulations it was found to be impossible to attest the men until the day before embarkation, so that for some weeks they were in camp and being trained without being under military law. Their good feeling alone preserved discipline.

_Regulars._—A certain number of men who were specialists in various lines, such as saddlers, farriers, signallers, and shoeing-smiths, together with a sprinkling of non-commissioned officers, were lent to the corps from the Regular Army, and they were of the greatest use to us. It is essential that the selection of these be made with great care. There is little doubt that the gentleman Volunteer is not always easy to get on with, so that the Regular should be a man of character and tact. When called upon for men, Commanding Officers send fully qualified men, but have a tendency to ‘give a man a chance’ in novel circumstances. Unless a Regular is a tactful, good fellow, he is unlikely to be of much use with Volunteers.

_Selection of Horses._—As far as we could learn from our experience in South Africa, the three main points in the selection of a horse are: (1) hardiness, (2) true action, (3) ‘good doing’; while for convenience in mounting and dismounting he should not be over fifteen hands high. Comparative slowness, light legs, and slight unsteadiness do not seem to matter, but he must be hardy, he must be clear of any suspicion whatever of brushing, and he must be the sort likely to ‘live on sticks and stones.’ The work is all very slow, but it is continuous. There were practically no cases of lameness from sprains, or indeed of anything except ‘brushing,’ and after a month’s work, the horse which could go the furthest and fastest was the one that kept the best condition. One of the horses that did the best work in the corps was a little Boer pony of Private Graham’s, which was only about twelve hands high. As transport animals, our little ‘Bhootia’ ponies did most excellently, and were better than mules, in that while they were quite as hardy, they were heavier and more game.

_Shipping Horses._—At Calcutta the quays are only a few feet above the water-level, and as the horses all have to be put on the upper and main decks, the custom is to ‘sling’ them on board by means of cranes and tackle attached to belly-bands. I saw a whole ship being laden with horses in this way. The operation took one entire day and cost five rupees per horse. One horse at least was dropped and had to be destroyed, a large proportion suffered injuries, and all were terrified. On meeting the officer in charge afterwards, I learnt that hardly any of the horses would feed at all for a day at least. For us the authorities erected a zigzag gangway by the aid of which 200 horses were put on board without accident in one hour and a half. Moreover, the gangway could not have cost 100_l_. Communication gangways between the decks were also fitted up, thus enabling us to transfer horses from one deck to another, and these proved very valuable in dealing with sick cases during the voyage.

_Horse Standings._—Once on the ship each horse had a stall in a row, each stall being just big enough for a horse to stand in, and surrounded by a four-foot rail. On the floor-boards were fixed four strong battens, two inches square in cross section, at intervals of eighteen inches. The horse’s fore feet fell naturally on to the first batten and his hind feet on to the last. He was thus forced to stand always in a constrained position. For my own horses I had the battens otherwise distributed, putting one six inches from either end and one in the middle. The fore feet came naturally behind the first batten and the hind feet before the rear one, while the middle one did not interfere with the horse’s position, and was only used by the horse when necessitated by bad weather. It was, I think, a great improvement. This was not my idea, but was what the Australian horse ‘shippers’ recommend and use.

_Shoes._—The orders in the Service are that all horses go on board shod, which is contrary to the custom of the big Australian shipping firms, who say that shod horses slip up when it is rough. We had no rough weather, and so could not prove this, but owing to the shoe keeping the foot off the constantly damp boards, the feet of our horses were, on arrival, in infinitely better condition than those of the horses brought over by Australian ‘shippers’ to India.

_Exercising Horses on Board Ship._—This is, I learn, never done, but we gave the idea a trial, and it turned out to be quite practicable. Our ship was a very small one, and we had some difficulty about space for exercise ground. However, we found three places in different parts of the ship where we could get a small circle. Matting was put down, to prevent slipping, and it was found that on each of these ten horses could be led at a time, one behind the other. In this manner we managed to give every horse half an hour a day of walking exercise. While these ten horses were out, the next ten had twice as much room to stand in, which enabled the men to give them half-an-hour’s grooming. It was very noticeable how the legs ‘fined’ with the exercise, and it must have been a great relief to the horse. Our horses landed in very good condition, and, except for being soft, they were fit to go to work at once. It is obviously only possible to exercise horses like this when you have a large number of hands as we had.




Colonel D.M. Lumsden, Assam Valley Light C.B. Horse

Major H. Chamney, Surma Valley Light C.M.G. Horse

Captain J.B. Rutherfoord, Behar Light D.S.O. Horse

Lieutenant H.O. Pugh, Calcutta Light D.S.O. Horse


Major H. Chamney District Commissioner, Potchefstroom

Lieutenant H.O. Pugh Assistant District Commissioner, Heilbron

Trooper C.G. Huddleston Assistant District Commissioner, Kroonstad


Driver P.W. Anderson Johannesburg Police Trooper J.D.L. Arathoon Gazetted to 3rd Dragoon Guards (resigned); returned to Calcutta Lance-Corporal E.J. Ballard Johannesburg Police Driver P.W. Banks Chief Warder, Barberton Gaol Corporal F.S. Montagu-Bates East Surrey Regiment (Commission)[E] Trooper L.H. Bell Johannesburg Police ” J.S. Biscoe 2nd Batt. W.I. Regiment (Commission)[E] ” H.F. Blair Northumberland Fusiliers (Commission) ” K. Boileau Johannesburg Police Driver L.H. Bradford Johannesburg Police ” J. Braine S.A. Constabulary Trooper A.H. Buskin Johannesburg Police Sergeant H.A. Campbell Imperial Yeomanry (Commission) Transport-Corpl. H.A. Campbell Johannesburg Police Trooper C.D.V. Cary-Barnard Wiltshire Regiment (Commission)[E] ” E.S. Chapman Johannesburg Police Corporal E.A. Chartres Royal Irish Fusiliers Medical Officer (Commission) Trooper R.G. Collins W.I. Regiment (Commission) Lance-Corporal S.W. Cullen S.A. Constabulary Driver O.E. Fitzgerald Johannesburg Police Trooper C.W. Fletcher Army Service Corps (Commission)[E] ” C.A. Forbes Re-enlisted in S.A. corps (not known) ” A.H. Francis Scottish Horse (re-enlisted November) ” J.A. Fraser W.I. Regiment (Commission)[E] Veterinary-Sergeant G. Goodliffe Johannesburg Police Driver R.A. Grenville Johannesburg Police ” W.E. Harris Johannesburg Police Trooper W.H. Holme Stated to be gazetted to Yeomanry (Commission) ” J.D.W. Holmes Johannesburg Police ” S.L. Innes Stated to be gazetted to Yeomanry ” B.R. Lloyd-Jones Johannesburg Police Quartermaster-Sergt. W.D. Jones Army Service Corps (Commission)[E] Driver S.H. Kearsey Johannesburg Police Trooper H.R. Kelly Johannesburg Police ” F.W.C. Lawrie Johannesburg Police ” E.I. Lockhart Johannesburg Police ” C.H. McMinn Gazetted to a Colonial corps (December 1900) ” C.B.H. Mansfield 19th Hussars (Commission)[E] Reg. Sgt.-Maj. C.M.C. Marsham S.A. Constabulary (Commission) Driver A. Martin Scottish Horse, South Africa Transport-Corporal A. Morris Re-enlisted in Yeomanry at Aldershot Trooper T.B. Nicholson W.I. Regiment (Commission)[E] ” G.D. Nicolay Johannesburg Police ” A.E. Norton W.I. Regiment (Commission)[E] ” G.W. Palmer W.I. Regiment (Commission)[E] ” P. Partridge Northampton Regiment (Commission)[E] ” J.G. Petersen Johannesburg Police Driver P.W. Pryce Scottish Horse Trooper H.J. Renny Johannesburg Police ” D.C. Percy Smith Middlesex Regiment (Commission)[E] ” R.J. Smith Johannesburg Police ” G.P.O. Springfield 3rd Dragoon Guards (Commission)[E] ” B.C.A. Steuart Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) (Commission)[E] ” P. Strahan South Staffordshire Regiment (Commission)[E] ” C.F. Walton Johannesburg Police Driver G.E. Wilkinson Brabant’s Horse Trooper L.G. Williams North Staffordshire Regiment (Commission)[E] ” A.N. Woods Royal Garrison Artillery (Commission)[E] ” A.P. Woollright Imperial Military Railway, Medical Officer (Commission) ” F.W. Wright Army Service Corps (Commission) ” H.S.N. Wright Army Service Corps (Commission)

Footnote E:

Verified by the Army list.


Following are the recommendations made by Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden, late commanding Lumsden’s Horse, in bringing the names of the undermentioned officers and men to the favourable notice of Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, the Commander-in-Chief, as having done special and meritorious work during the service of his corps in South Africa. The promotions or honours given subsequently are placed within parentheses.

Previous to the date of these recommendations, Major Chamney had been gazetted a Companion of St. Michael and St. George, while Captain Rutherfoord and Lieutenant Pugh had received the decoration of the Distinguished Service Order.


CAPTAIN N.C. TAYLOR, _14th Bengal Lancers_.

This gentleman filled the post of adjutant (difficult in a corps like mine) with great judgment, and fulfilled his arduous duties to my entire satisfaction. He behaved splendidly under fire on many trying occasions, displayed great coolness and self-reliance, and proved himself a dashing and able leader, and was of much service to me throughout the campaign. (Brevet Major.)

CAPTAIN L.H. NOBLETT, _Royal Irish Rifles_.

In command of B Company Lumsden’s Horse. I cannot speak too highly of this gentleman as a leader of Mounted Infantry. His services to me from the raising of the corps until its disbandment were invaluable—clear-headed and cool in any circumstances; and the way he handled his men in action won their unbounded confidence and mine. To raise or lead a corps of Mounted Infantry I know no one I would sooner select. (Brevet Major.)


Commanded A Company Lumsden’s Horse. This gentleman took immense trouble and interest in his company from start to finish, displaying much tact in handling his men, with whom he was a great favourite. As a soldier I can only say his long and honourable record added herewith speaks for itself. (Brevet Major.)

_Previous War Services_

Burmese Expedition, 1886-7 Medal with clasp. Hazara ” 1888 Clasp. Miranzai ” 1891 — Hazara ” 1891 Clasp. Waziristan ” 1894-5. Action at Wana Clasp.

North-West Frontier of India, 1897-8. Operations on the Samana and in the Kurram Valley during August and September 1897. Medal with two clasps.

Tirah, 1897-8. Action on Dargai and capture of the Sampagha Pass. Reconnaissance for the Saran Sar operations against the Khan Khel Chamkanis. Operations in the Bazar Valley, December 25 to 30, 1897. Clasp.



CAPTAIN B.W. HOLMES, _East India Railway Volunteers_.

This officer was in command of the Maxim-gun contingent sent by the East India Railway. He did excellent service with his Maxim gun, on many occasions displaying much coolness, especially in the action at the Zand River, when, by his accurate fire, he dislodged the enemy from Kopje Allien. In fact, throughout the campaign he and his Maxim-gun contingent were a most useful and reliable addition to my corps. (Mention in despatches.)


Commanded the contingent from the Coorg and Mysore Volunteer Rifles. This gentleman did good service on many occasions, and had some very trying duties to perform, especially while scouting on two occasions in the Crocodile Valley in July, while we were stationed at Irene, as well as on another occasion when his detachment was located at Springs. (Mention in despatches.)


Was badly wounded and taken prisoner at Houtnek on April 30. He behaved splendidly on that day in a very difficult position and in trying circumstances. He rejoined at Pretoria, and went through the remainder of the campaign with us with great credit to himself.

If possible I should like this gentleman to receive the D.S.O. (Mention in despatches.)

CAPTAIN C.L. SIDEY, _from the Surma Valley Light Horse Volunteers_.

This officer did _very_ good and consistent work throughout the campaign. Was most popular with his men, and was never off a single march during our stay in South Africa. (Mention in despatches.)

SURGEON-CAPTAIN S.A. POWELL, M.D., _Surma Valley Light Horse Volunteers_.

This gentleman carried out his duties on many occasions under much personal danger and difficulty, especially in assisting to carry Major Showers when wounded into a place of safety under heavy fire. On June 4, near Pretoria, as well as on the day prior to entering Johannesburg, he also displayed much coolness in attending to some cavalrymen who were wounded, also under fire. I consider him fully deserving of honourable mention. (Mention in despatches.)


Trooper J.A. Graham—as per my letter attached. I have wired to India for Trooper Caley’s statement of the case.

The above happened in the end of July, when we were stationed at Irene. Captain Clifford reported the matter to me on the evening of the event.

I consider Trooper Graham behaved with great gallantry, risking his life to endeavour to save that of Trooper Cayley, and, with exemplary coolness, bringing in Cayley’s rifle as well as capturing and bringing in under a heavy fire a horse which would otherwise have fallen into the hands of the enemy.

I strongly recommend him for the Victoria Cross. (Distinguished Conduct Medal.)