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Chapter 38

DE LA REY'S CAMPAIGN OF 1902


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arthur Conan Doyle