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Chapter 25

THE MARCH ON PRETORIA


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arthur Conan Doyle