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Chapter 35

THE GUERILLA OPERATIONS IN CAPE COLONY

In the account which has been given in a preceding chapter of the
invasion of Cape Colony by the Boer forces, it was shown that the
Western bands were almost entirely expelled, or at least that they
withdrew, at the time when De Wet was driven across the Orange
River. This was at the beginning of March 1901. It was also mentioned
that though the Boers evacuated the barren and unprofitable desert of
the Karoo, the Eastern bands which had come with Kritzinger did not
follow the same course, but continued to infest the mountainous
districts of the Central Colony, whence they struck again and again at
the railway ljiies, the small towns, British patrols, or any other
quarry which was within their reach and strength. From the
surrounding country they gathered a fair number of recruits, and they
were able through the sympathy and help of the Dutch farmers to keep
themselves well mounted and supplied. In small wandering bands they
spread themselves over a vast extent of country, and there were few
isolated farmhouses from the Orange River to the Oudtshoorn Mountains,
and from the Cape Town railroad in the west to the Fish River in the
east, which were not visited by their active and enterprising scouts.
The object of the whole movement was, no doubt, to stimulate a general
revolt in the Colony; and it must be acknowledged that if the powder
did not all explode it was not for want of the match being thoroughly
applied.

It might at first sight seem the simplest of military operations to
hunt down these scattered and insignificant bands; but as a matter of
fact nothing could be more difficult. Operating in a country which
was both vast and difficult, with excellent horses, the best of
information and supplies ready for them everywhere, it was impossible
for the slow-moving British columns with their guns and their wagons
to overtake them. Formidable even in flight, the Boers were always
ready to turn upon any force which exposed itself too rashly to
retaliation, and so amid the mountain passes the British chiefs had to
use an amount of caution which was incompatible with extreme speed.
Only when a commando was exactly localised so that two or three
converging British forces could be brought to bear upon it, was there
a reasonable chance of forcing a fight. Still, with all these heavy
odds against them, the various little columns continued month after
month to play hide-and-seek with the commandos, and the game was by no
means always on the one side. The varied fortunes of this scrambling
campaign can only be briefly indicated in these pages.

It has already been shown that Kritzinger's original force broke into
many bands, which were recruited partly from the Cape rebels and
partly from fresh bodies which passed over from the Orange River
Colony. The more severe the pressure in the north, the greater reason
was there for a trek to this land of plenty. The total number of
Boers who were wandering over the eastern and midland districts may
have been about two thousand, who were divided into bands which varied
from .fifty to three hundred. The chief leaders of separate commandos
were Kritzinger, Scheepers, Malan, Myburgh, Fouché, Lotter, Smuts, Van
Reenen, Lategan, Maritz, and Conroy, the two latter operating on the
western side of the country. To hunt down these numerous and active
bodies the British were compelled to put many similar detachments into
the field, known as the columns of Gorringe, Crabbe, Henniker,
Scobell, Doran, Kavanagh, Alexander, and others. These two sets of
miniature armies performed an intricate devil's dance over the Colony,
the main lines of which are indicated by the red lines upon the map.
The Zuurberg mountains to the north of Steynsburg, the Sneeuwberg
range to the south of Middelburg, the Oudtshoorn Mountains in the
south, the Cradock district, the Murraysburg district, and the
Graaf-Reinet district-these were the chief centres of Boer activity.

In April Kritzinger made his way north to the Orange River Colony, for
the purpose of consulting with De Wet, but he returned with a
following of 200 men about the end of May. Continual brushes
occurred during this month between the various columns, and much hard
marching was done upon either side, but there was nothing which could
be claimed as a positive success.

Early in May two passengers sailed for Europe, the journey of each
being in its way historical. The first was the weary and overworked
Pro-Consul who had the foresight to distinguish the danger and the
courage to meet it. Milner's worn face and prematurely grizzled hair
told of the crushing weight which had rested upon him during three
eventful years. A gentle scholar, he might have seemed more fitted for
a life of academic calm than for the stormy part which the discernment
of Mr. Chamberlain had assigned to him. The fine flower of an English
university, low-voiced and urbane, it was difficult to imagine what
impression he would produce upon those rugged types of which
South. Africa is so peculiarly prolific. But behind the reserve of a
gentleman there lay within him a lofty sense of duty, a singular
clearness of vision, and a moral courage which would brace him to
follow whither his reason pointed. His visit to England for three
months' rest was the occasion for a striking manifestation of loyalty
and regard from his fellow-countrymen. He returned in August as Lord
Milner to the scene of his labours, with the construction of a united
and loyal commonwealth of South Africa as the task of his life.

The second traveller who sailed within a few days of the Governor was
Mrs. Botha, the wife of the Boer General, who visited Europe for
private as well as political reasons. She bore to Kruger an exact
account of the state of the country and of the desperate condition of
the burghers. Her mission had no immediate or visible effect, and the
weary war, exhausting for the British but fatal for the Boers, went
steadily on.

To continue the survey of the operations in the Cape, the first point
scored was by the invaders, for Malan's commando succeeded upon May
13th in overwhelming a strong patrol of the Midland Mounted Rifles,
the local colonial corps, to the south of Maraisburg. Six killed,
eleven wounded, and forty~one prisoners were the fruits of his little
victory, which furnished him also with a fresh supply of rifles and
ammunition. On May 21st Crabbe's column was in touch with Lotter and
with Lategan, but no very positive result came from the skirmish.

The end of May showed considerable Boer activity in the Cape Colony,
that date corresponding with the return of Kritzinger from the
north. Haig had for the moment driven Scheepers back from the extreme
southerly point which he had reached, and he was now in the
Graaf-Reinet district; but on the other side of the colony Conroy had
appeared near Kenhart, and upon May 23rd he fought a sharp skirmish
with a party of Border Scouts. The main Boer force under Kritzinger
was in the midlands, however, and had concentrated to such an extent
in the Cradock district that it was clear that some larger enterprise
was on foot. This soon took shape, for on June 2nd, after a long and
rapid march, the Boer leader threw himself upon Jamestown, overwhelmed
the sixty townsmen who formed the guard, and looted the town, from
which he drew some welcome supplies and 100 horses. British columns
were full cry upon his heels, however, and the Boers after a few hours
left the gutted town and vanished into the hills once more. On June
6th the British had a little luck at last, for on that date Scobell
and Lukin in the Barkly East district surprised a laager and took
twenty prisoners, 166 horses, and much of the Jamestown loot. On the
same day Windham treated Van Reenen in a similar rough fashion near
Steynsburg, and took twenty-two prisoners.

On June 8th the supreme command of the operations in Cape Colony was
undertaken by General French, who from this time forward manoeuvred
his numerous columns upon a connected plan with the main idea of
pushing the enemy northwards. It was some time, however, before his
disposition bore fruit, for the commandos were still better mounted
and lighter than their pursuers. On Tune 13th the youthful and
dashing Scheepers, who commanded his own little force at an age when
he would have been a junior lieutenant of the British army, raided
Murraysburg and captured a patrol. On Tune 17th Monro with Lovat's
Scouts and Bethune's Mounted Infantry had some slight success near
Tarkastad, but three days later the ill-fated Midland Mounted Rifles
were surprised in the early morning by Kritzinger at Waterkloof, which
is thirty miles west of Cradock, and were badly mauled by him. They
lost ten killed, eleven wounded, and sixty-six prisoners in this
unfort unate affair. Again the myth that colonial alertness is
greater than that of regular troops seems to have been exposed.

At the end of Tune, Fouché, one of the most enterprising of the
guerilla chiefs, made a dash from Barkly East into the native reserves
of the Transkei in order to obtain horses and supplies. It was a
desperate measure, as it was vain to suppose that the warlike Kaffirs
would permit their property to be looted without resistance, and if
once the assegais were reddened no man could say how far the mischief
might go. With great loyalty the British Government, even in the
darkest days, had held back those martial races -- Zulus, Swazis, and
Basutos -- who all had old grudges against the Amaboon. Fouché's raid
was stopped, however, before it led to serious trouble. A handful of
Griqualand Mounted Rifles held it in front, while Dalgety and his
colonial veterans moving very swiftly drove him back northwards.

Though baulked, Fouché was still formidable, and on July 14th he made
a strong attack in the neighbourhood of Jamestown upon a column of
Connaught Rangers who were escorting a convoy. Major Moore offered a
determined resistance, and eventually after some hours of fighting
drove the enemy away and captured their laager. Seven killed and
seventeen wounded were the British losses in this spirited engagement.

On July 10th General French, surveying from a lofty mountain peak the
vast expanse of the field of operations, with his heliograph calling
up responsive twinkles over one hundred miles of country, gave the
order for the convergence of four columns upon the valley in which he
knew Scheepers to be lurking. We have it from one of his own letters
that his commando at the time consisted of 240 men, of whom forty were
Free Staters and the rest colonial rebels. Crewe, Windham, Doran, and
Scobell each answered to the call, but the young leader was a man of
resource, and a long kloof up the precipitous side of the hill gave
him a road to safety. Yet the operations showed a new mobility in the
British columns, which shed their guns and their baggage in order to
travel faster. The main commando escaped, but twenty-five laggards
were taken. The action took place among the hills thirty miles to the
west of Graaf-Reinet.

On July 21st Crabbe and Kritzinger had a skirmish in the mountains
near Cradock, in which the Boers were strong enough to hold their own;
but on the same date near Murraysburg, Lukin, the gallant colonial
gunner, with ninety men rode into 150 of Lategan's band and captured
ten of them, with a hundred horses. On July 27th a small party of
twenty-one Imperial Yeomanry was captured, after a gallant resistance,
by a large force of Boers at the Doorn River on the other side of the
Colony. The Kaffir scouts of the British were shot dead in cold blood
by their captors after the action. There seems to be no possible
excuse for the repeated murders of coloured men by the Boers, as they
had themselves from the beginning of the war used their Kaffirs for
every purpose short of actually fighting. The war had lost much of
the good humour which marked its outset. A fiercer feeling had been
engendered on both sides by the long strain, but the execution of
rebels by the British, though much to be deplored, is still recognised
as one of the rights of a belligerent. When one remembers the
condonation upon the part of the British of the use of their own
uniforms by the Boers, of the wholesale breaking of paroles, of the
continual use of expansive bullets, of the abuse of the pass system
and of the red cross, it is impossible to blame them for showing some
severity in the stamping out of armed rebellion within their own
Colony. If stern measures were eventually adopted it was only after
extreme leniency had been tried and failed. The loss of five years'
franchise as a penalty for firing upon their own flag is surely the
most gentle correction which an Empire ever laid upon a rebellious
people.

At the beginning of August the connected systematic work of French's
columns began to tell. In a huge semicircle the British were pushing
north, driving the guerillas in front of them. Scheepers in his usual
wayward fashion had broken away to the south, but the others had been
unable to penetrate the cordon and were herded over the
Stormberg-Naauwport line. The main body of the Boers was hustled
swiftly along from August 7th to August 10th, from Graaf-Reinet to
Thebus, and thrust over the railway line at that point with some loss
of men and a great shedding of horses. It was hoped that the
blockhouses on the railroad would have held the enemy, but they
slipped across by night and got into the Steynsburg district, where
Gorringe's colonials took up the running. On August 18th he followed
the commandos from Steynsburg to Venterstad, killing twenty of them
and taking several prisoners. On the 15th, Kritzinger with the main
body of the invaders passed the Orange River near Bethulie, and made
his way to the Wepener district of the Orange River Colony.
Scheepers, Lotter, Lategan, and a few small wandering bands were the
only Boers left in the Colony, and to these the British columns now
turned their attention, with the result that Lategan, towards the end
of the month, was also driven over the river. For the time, at least,
the situation seemed to have very much improved, but there was a drift
of Boers over the north-western frontier, and the long-continued
warfare at their own doors was undoubtedly having a dangerous effect
upon the Dutch farmers. Small successes from time to time, such as
the taking of sixty of French's Scouts by Theron's commando on August
10th, served to keep them from despair. Of the guerilla bands which
remained, the most important was that of Scheepers, which now numbered
300 men, well mounted and supplied. He had broken back through the
cordon, and made for his old haunts in the south-west. Theron, with a
smaller band, was also in the Uniondale and Willowmore district,
approaching close to the sea in the Mossel Bay direction, but being
headed off by Kavanagh. Scheepers turned in the direction of Cape
Town, but swerved aside at Montagu, and moved northwards towards Touws
River.

So far the British had succeeded in driving and injuring, but never in
destroying, the Boer bands. It was a new departure therefore when,
upon September 4th, the commando of Lotter was entirely destroyed by
the column of Scobell. This column consisted of some of the Cape
Mounted Rifles and of the indefatigable 9th Lancers. It marked the
enemy down in a valley to the west of Cradock and attacked them in the
morning, after having secured all the approaches, The result was a
complete success. The Boers threw themselves into a building and held
out valiantly, but their position was impossible, aud after enduring
considerable punishment they were forced to hoist the white
flag. Eleven had been killed, forty-six wounded, and fifty-six
surrendered -- figures which are in themselves a proof of the tenacity
of their defence. Lotter was among the prisoners, 260 horses were
taken, and a good supply of ammunition, with some dynamite. A few
days later, on September 10th, a similar blow, less final in its
character, was dealt by Colonel Crabbe to the commando of Van der
Merve, which was an offshoot of that of Scheepers. The action was
fought near Laingsburg, which is on the main line, just north of
Matjesfontein, and it ended in the scattering of the Boer band, the
death of their boy leader (he was only eighteen years of age), and the
capture of thirty-seven prisoners. Seventy of the Beers escaped by a
hidden road. To Colonials and Yeomanry belongs the honour of the
action, which cost the British force seven casualties. Colonel Crabbe
pushed on after the success, and on September 14th he was in touch
with Scheepers's commando near Ladismith (not to he confused with the
historical town of Natal), and endured and inflicted some losses. On
the 17th a patrol of Grenadier Guards was captured in the north of the
Colony, Rebow, the young lieutenant in charge of them, meeting with a
soldier's death.

On the same day a more serious engagement occurred near Tarkastad, a
place ~hich lies to the east of Cradock, a notorious centre of
disaffection in the midland &~stnct. Smuts's commando, some hundreds
strong, was marked down in this part, and several forces converged
upon it. One of the outlets, Elands River Poort, was guarded by a
single squadron of the 17th Lancers. Upon this the Boers made a
sudden and very fierce attack, their approach being facilitated partly
by the mist and partly by the use of khaki, a trick which seems never
to have grown too stale for successful use. The result was that they
were able to ride up to the British camp before any preparations had
been made for resistance, and to shoot down a number of the Lancers
before they could reach their horses. So terrible was the fire that
the single squadron lost thirty-four killed and thirty-six wounded.
But the regiment may console itself for the disaster by the fact that
the sorely stricken detachment remained true to the spirited motto of
the corps, and that no prisoners appear to have been lost.

After this one sharp engagement there ensued several weeks during
which the absence of historical events, or the presence of the
military censor, caused a singular lull in the account of the
operations. With so many small commandos and so many pursuing columns
it is extraordinary that there should not have been a constant
succession of actions. That there was not must indicate a
sluggishness upon the part of the pursuers, and this sluggishness can
only be explained by the condition of their horses. Every train of
thought brings the critic back always to the great horse question, and
encourages the conclusion that there, at all seasons of the war and in
all scenes of it, is to be found the most damning indictment against
British foresight, common-sense, and power of organisation. That the
third year of the war should dawn without the British forces having
yet got the legs of the Boers, after having penetrated every portion
of their country and having the horses of the world on which to draw,
is the most amazingly inexplicable point in the whole of this strange
campaign. From the telegram 'Infantry preferred' addressed to a nation
of rough-riders, down to the failure to secure the excellent horses on
the spot, while importing them unfit for use from the ends of the
earth, there has been nothing but one long series of blunders in this,
the most vital question of all. Even up to the end, in the Colony the
obvious lesson had not yet been learnt that it is better to give 1,000
men two horses each, and EO let them reach the enemy, than give 2,000
men one horse each, with which they can never attain their object. The
chase during two years of the man with two horses by the man with one
horse, has been a sight painful to ourselves and ludicrous to others.

In connection with this account of operations within the Colony, there
is one episode which occurred in the extreme north-west which will not
fit in with this connected narrative, but which will justify the
distraction of the reader's intelligence, for few finer deeds of arms
are recorded in the war. This was the heroic defence of a convoy by
the 14th Company of Irish Imperial Yeomanry. The convoy was taking
food to Griquatown, on the Kimberley side of the seat of war. The town
had been long invested by Conroy, and the inhabitants were in such
straits that it was highly necessary to relieve them. To this end a
convoy, two miles long, was despatched under Major Humby of the Irish
Yeomanry. The escort consisted of seventy-five Northumberland
Fusiliers, twenty-four local troops, and 100 of the 74th Irish
Yeomanry. Fifteen miles from Griquatown, at a place called Rooikopjes,
the convoy was attacked by the enemy several hundred in number. Two
companies of the Irishmen seized the ridge, however, which commanded
the wagons, and held it until they were almost exterminated. The
position was covered with bush, and the two parties came to the
closest of quarters, the Yeomen refusing to take a backward step,
though it was clear that they were vastly outnumbered. Encouraged by
the example of Madan and Ford, their gallant young leaders, they
deliberately sacrificed their lives in order to give time for the guns
to come up and for the convoy to pass. Oliffe, Bonynge, and Maclean,
who had been children together, were shot side by side on the ridge,
and afterwards buried in one grave. Of forty-three men in action,
fourteen were killed and twenty severely wounded. Their sacrifice was
not in vain, however. The Boers were beaten back, and the convoy, as
well as Griquatown, was saved. Some thirty or forty Boers were killed
or wounded in the skirmish, and Conroy, their leader, declared that it
was the stiffest fight of his life.

In the autumn and winter of 1901 General French had steadily pursued
the system of clearing certain districts, one at a time, and
endeavouring by his blockhouses and by the arrangement of his forces
to hold in strict quarantine those sections of the country which were
still infested by the commandos. In this manner he succeeded by the
November of this year in confining the active forces of the enemy to
the extreme northeast and to the south-west of the peninsula. It is
doubtful if the whole Boer force, three-quarters of whom were colonial
rebels, amounted to more than fifteen hundred men. When we learn that
at this period of the war they were indifferently armed, and that many
of them were mounted upon donkeys, it is impossible, after making
every allowance for the passive assistance of the farmers, and the
difficulties of the country, to believe that the pursuit was always
pushed with the spirit and vigour which was needful.

In the north-east, Myburgh, Wessels, and the truculent Fouché were
allowed almost a free hand for some months, while the roving bands
were rounded up in the' midlands and driven along until they were west
of the main railroad. Here, in the Calvinia district, several
commandos united in October 1901 under Maritz, Louw, Smit, and Theron.
Their united bands rode down into the rich grain-growing country round
Piquetberg and Malmesbury, pushing south until it seemed as if their
academic supporters at Paarl were actually to have a sight of the
rebellion which they had fanned to a flame. At one period their
patrols were within forty miles of Cape Town. The movement was
checked, however, by a small force of Lancers and district troops, and
towards the end of October, Maritz, who was chief in this quarter,
turned northwards, and on the 29th captured a small British convoy
which crossed his line of march. Early in November he doubled back and
attacked Piquetberg, but was beaten off with some loss. From that
time a steady pressure from the south and east drove these bands
farther and farther into the great barren lands of the west, until, in
the following April, they had got as far as Namaqualand, many hundred
miles away.

Upon October 9th, the second anniversary of the Ultimatum, the hands
of the military were strengthened by the proclamation of Cape Town and
all the seaport towns as being in a state of martial law. By this
means a possible source of supplies and recruits for the enemy was
effectually blocked. That it had not been done two years before is a
proof of how far local political considerations can be allowed to
over-ride the essentials of Imperial policy. Meanwhile treason courts
were sitting, and sentences, increasing rapidly from the most trivial
to the most tragic, were teaching the rebel that his danger did not
end upon the field of battle. The execution of Lotter and his
lieutenants was a sign that the patience of a long-suffering Empire
had at last reached an end.

The young Boer leader, Scheepers, had long been a thorn in the side of
the British. He had infested the southern districts for some months,
and he had distinguished himself both by the activity of his movements
and by the ruthless vigour of some of his actions. Early in October a
serious illness and consequent confinement to his bed brought him at
last within the range of British mobility. On his recovery he was
tried for repeated breaches of the laws of war, including the murder
of several natives. He was condemned to death, and was executed in
December. Much sympathy was excited by his gallantry and his youth --
he was only twenty-three. On the other hand, our word was pledged to
protect the natives, and if he whose hand had been so heavy upon them
escaped, all confidence would have been lost in our promises and our
justice. That British vengeance was not indiscriminate was shown soon
afterwards in the case of a more irnportant commander, Kritzinger, who
was the chief leader of the Boers within Cape Colony. Kritzinger was
wounded and captured while endeavouring to cross the line near Hanover
Road upon December 15th. He was put upon his trial, and his fate
turned upon how far he was responsible for the misdeeds of some of his
subordinates. It was clearly shown that he had endeavoured to hold
them within the bounds of civilised warfare, and with congratulations
and handshakings he was acquitted by the military court.

In the last two months of the year 1901, a new system was introduced
into the Cape Colony campaign by placing the Colonial and district
troops immediately under the command of Colonial officers and of the
Colonial Government. It had long been felt that some devolution was
necessary, and the change was justified by the result. Without any
dramatic incident, an inexorable process of attrition, caused by
continual pursuit and hardship, wore out the commandos. Large bands
had become small ones, and small ones had vanished. Only by the union
of several bodies could any enterprise higher than the looting of a
farmhouse be successfully attempted.

Such a union occurred, however, in the early days of February 1902,
when Smuts, Malan, and several other Boer leaders showed great
activity in the country round Calvinia. Their commandos seem to have
included a proportion of veteran Republicans from the north, who were
more formidable fighting material than the raw Colonial rebels. It
happened that several dangerously weak British columns were operating
within reach at that time, and it was only owing to the really
admirable conduct of the troops that a serious disaster was averted.
Two separate actions, each of them severe, were fought on the same
date, and in each case the Boers were able to bring very superior
numbers into the field.

The first of these was the fight in which Colonel Doran's column
extricated itself with severe loss from a most perilous plight. The
whole force under Doran consisted of 350 men with two guns, and this
handful was divided by an expedition which he, with 150 men, undertook
in order to search a distant farm. The remaining two hundred men,
under Captain Saunders, were left upon February 5th with the guns and
the convoy at a place called Middlepost, which lies about fifty miles
south-west of Calvinia. These men were of the 11th, 23rd, and 24th
Imperial Yeomanry, with a troop of Cape Police. The Boer Intelligence
was excellent, as might be expected in a country which is dotted with
farms. The weakened force at Middlepost was instantly attacked by
Smuts's commando. Saunders evacuated the camp and abandoned the
convoy, which was the only thing he could do, but he concentrated all
his efforts upon preserving his guns. The night was illuminated by
the blazing wagons, and made hideous by the whoops of the drunken
rebels who caroused among the captured stores. With the first light
of dawn the small British force was fiercely assailed on all sides,
but held its own in a manner which would have done credit to any
troops. The much criticised Yeomen fought like veterans. A
considerable position had to be covered, and only a handful of men
were available at the most important points. One ridge, from which
the guns would be enfiladed, was committed to the charge of
Lieutenants Tabor and Chichester with eleven men of the 11th Imperial
Yeomanry, their instructions being 'to hold it to the death.' The
order was obeyed with the utmost heroism. After a desperate defence
the ridge was only taken by the Boers when both officers had been
killed and nine out of eleven men were on the ground. In spite of the
loss of this position the fight was still sustained until shortly
after midday, when Doran with the patrol returned. The position was
still most dangerous, the losses had been severe, and the Boers were
increasing in strength. An immediate retreat was ordered, and the
small column, af~er ten days of hardship and anxiety, reached the
railway line in safety. The wounded were left to the care of Smuts,
who behaved with chivalry and humanity.

At about the same date a convoy proceeding from Beaufort West to
Fraserburg was attacked by Malan's commando. The escort, which
consisted of sixty Colonial Mounted Rifles and 100 of the West
Yorkshire militia, was overwhelmed after a good defence, in which
Major Crofton, their commander, was killed. The wagons were destroyed,
but the Boers were driven off by the arrival of Crabbe's column,
followed by those of Capper and Lund. The total losses of the British
in these two actions amounted to twenty-three killed and sixty-five
wounded.

The re-establishment of settled law and order was becoming more marked
every week in those southwestern districts, which had long been most
disturbed. Colonel Crewe in this region, and Colonel Lukin upon the
other side of the line, acting entirely with Colonial troops, were
pushing back the rebels, and holding, by a well-devised system of
district defence, all that they had gained. By the end of February
there were none of the enemy south of the Beaufort West and
Clanwilliam line. These results were not obtained without much hard
marching and a little hard fighting. Small columns under Crabbe,
Capper, Wyndham, Nickall, and Lund, were continually on the move, with
little to show for it save an ever-widening area of settled country in
their rear. In a skirmish on February 20th ludge Hugo, a well-known
Boer leader, was killed, and Vanheerden, a notorious rebel, was
captured. At the end of this month Fouché's tranquil occupation of the
north-east was at last disturbed, and he was driven out of it into the
midlands, where he took refuge with the remains of his commando in the
Camdeboo Mountains. Malan's men had already sought shelter in the same
natural fortresB. Malan was wounded and taken in a skirmish near
Somerset East a few days before the general Boer surrender. Fouché
gave himself up at Cradock on June 2nd.

The last incident of this scattered, scrambling, unsatisfactory
campaign in the Cape peninsula was the raid made by Smuts, the
Transvaal leader, into the Port Nolloth district of Namaqualand, best
known for its copper mines. A small railroad has been constructed from
the coast at this point, the terminus being the township of Ookiep.
The length of the line is about seventy miles. It is difficult to
imagine what the Boers expected to gain in this remote corner of the
seat of war, unless they had conceived the idea that they might
actually obtain possession of Port Nolloth itself, and so restore the
communications with their sympathisers and allies. At the end of
March the Boer horsemen appeared suddenly out of the desert, drove in
the British outposts, and summoned Ookiep to surrender. Colonel
Shelton, who commanded the small garrison, sent an uncompromising
reply, but he was unable to protect the railway in his rear, which was
wrecked, together with some of the blockhouses which had been erected
to guard it. The loyal population of the surrounding country had
flocked into Ookiep, and the Commandant found himself burdened with
the care of six thousand people. The enemy had succeeded in taking
the small post of Springbok, and Concordia, the mining centre, was
surrendered into their hands without resistance, giving them welcome
suplies of arms, ammunition, and dynamite. The latter was used by the
Boers in the shape of hand-bombs, and proved to be a very efficient
weapon when employed against blockhouses. Several of the British
defences were wrecked by them, with considerable loss to the garrison;
but in the course of a month's siege, in spite of several attacks, the
Boers were never able to carry the frail works which guarded the town.
Once more, at the end of the war as at the beginning of it, there was
shown the impotence of the Dutch riflemen against a British defence.
A relief column, under Colonel Cooper, was quickly organised at Port
Nolloth, and advanced along the railway line, forcing Smuts to raise
the siege in the first week of May. Immediately afterwards came the
news of the negotiations for peace, and the Boer general presented
himself at Port Nolloth, whence he was conveyed by ship to Cape Town,
and so north again to take part in the deliberations of his
fellow-countrymen. Throughout the war he had played a manly and
honourable part. It may be hoped that with youth and remarkable
experience, both of diplomacy and of war, he may now find a long and
briliant career awaiting him in a wider arena than that for which he
strove.

Arthur Conan Doyle