A Strange Editorial Adventure--Lord Roberts's New Government under Way--The Sin of Horse Theft.
Once, far along the Grand Canal in China, where the people were all afraid or hostile at the first sight of me, a beautiful girl of sixteen or seventeen ran along the bank of the canal after my boat, beckoning to me and to Mr. Weldon, the artist, who was with me, to disembark and visit her home. She was out walking with her mother. There was no doubt when one considered how far from any big town she was, and the fact that she was large-footed and willing to be seen of men, that she was a poor peasant girl, a farmer's daughter, either curious to see us strange men, or anxious to prove herself a Christian convert and to repay the hospitality and kindness she had received at the hands of Christian missionaries.
That was what I thought, at any rate, and in that view I told of the happening in Harper's Magazine. At once a cry arose, in the companies of men I met and even in some newspapers as well, against my introducing so risque a subject in my account of my adventures. Until then I had no idea how prone to evil-thinking is the world, how anxious to twist impurity out of innocence even though it required violence to do it.
Once again, and here, I am going to tell of an incident equally sweet to memory and the reflection of wholesome minds; equally delicate in the perfume of innocence which it exhales. After the second issue of THE FRIEND, Sunday gave us a day of rest. We had known and seen no women for months. They were to us as our homes were, as civilisation itself was--mere memories, vague and shadowy, beside the substantial realities of fighting, marching, thirsting, and going hungry in the company of men--of men by the tens of thousands, but of no women.
There was in Bloemfontein a very blond young woman of sixteen who served behind the counter of a shop in the main street--a slight, sunny-haired, blue-eyed miss, sparkling with fun and excited by the novelty of waiting upon British soldiers and living in the middle of what had changed from a dead-and-alive Boer village to a great armed British camp. The soldiers had noticed her as well. Generals and colonels compared notes of what gossip she and they had exchanged, and sent their friends to the shop to see her. The appearance of a few unattractive women among the soldiers in the village streets had made a mild sensation; but the discovery of a fair-haired, rosy-cheeked girl of English blood was the talk of the camp.
[Illustration: Julian Ralph.]
Among the first men in Bloemfontein and the first to make the acquaintance of this maiden was Mr. Gwynne, of THE FRIEND. Foreseeing Sunday, and scenting a chance to revive the best memories of civilised life, he proposed to gather two army friends if she would invite two of her feminine friends for a drive and a luncheon on the veldt on Sunday. He invited James Barnes, the talented American correspondent, and myself. In two Cape carts we called for the young ladies at their homes. They proved to be the very blond young woman, a fourteen-year-old friend, and a little girl of ten or eleven years of age.
I confess that I never would have asked mere children upon such an outing; but it is equally true that I could not have experienced either the same or as great and peculiar pleasure with others of older growth. They were frank and free, and merry as grigs. They came as near to having us killed or captured by the Boers as I wanted to be, and from them we learned most interesting and valuable information about the enemy and about the town as it was before we captured it. We proposed to visit the home of one of the girls, a farm which the girls said was "quite close." It proved to be miles beyond the British outposts in a country that seemed to us to be uncomfortably peopled with Boers and which proved afterwards to have been alive with them. Of the danger to us which lay in such a situation the girls took no account. They had been born there. They had seen nothing of war, and did not understand it. The Boers were their lifelong neighbours. And, in a word, they were going to visit friends and to have fun, and nothing else entered their minds.
When we were miles away and among some very suggestive little kopjes we discovered that our friends had lost their way and that we were adrift on the veldt. Boers dashed up to the crests of the hills, saw us and disappeared. Boers were on every hand. Why we were not gobbled up and sent to Pretoria none of us can explain. Eventually, with only one mishap--the overturning of one of the carts--which seemed for a moment more terrible than capture by the enemy--we reached the farm-house, and aided by several tiny boys and the farmer and his wife, spent a happy hour and a half. We made our way back to Bloemfontein in the evening, and within a day or two Colonels Crabbe and Codrington and Captain Trotter were wounded and the Honourable Edward Lygon was killed, at the Glen--a rifle shot from where we had picnicked!
The adventures and hairbreadth escapes in war are apt to take only three or four well-ordered forms. This adventure was in no way like those of the stereotyped kinds.
Monday came, and, with it, the third number of THE FRIEND. It was now of the enlarged size, which it retained to the end--a sheet 19 inches wide by 32 inches in length. We continued to do the editorial work in the old dustbin, as at first, but we had discovered that the Express works were more modern and capable of turning out a paper of the size we preferred. The Express works were two blocks away from our little den, in a side street behind the main thoroughfare of the town. They belonged to Frau Borckenhagen, but had been seized by order of Lord Roberts and sealed up. The printing office and engine and press rooms were afterward made over to us, the bindery was used by the military, and only the office of the departed editor, whence had proceeded the most mischievous reflections of Krugerism and the policy of the insidious Afrikander Bond, remained sealed. Frau Borckenhagen sent her agents to the military to ask leave to recover some of her husband's private papers. By this means she showed us that, like all other Boers, she put the very lowest valuation upon our intelligence. But in this case she only succeeded in turning the attention of the military to her husband's papers without getting the shading of a degree nearer to the possession of what must have been--and I think I have heard, really proved--of the utmost interest to us.
However, we were able by using the commandeered property of the Boer frau, to produce a newspaper of pretentious size and considerable importance.
THE FRIEND now began to bristle with proclamations, and their number appeared to be doubled because each one was repeated in the Taal language under the heading "Proclamatie." In one "I, Frederick Sleigh Baron Roberts of Kandahar, K.P., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., V.C., Field Marshal and Commanding-in-Chief the British forces in South Africa, appoint George Anosi Falck Administrator of the Civil Posts and Telegraphs in such portions of the Orange Free State as have been or may hereafter be occupied by British troops."
Another proclamation related to bills of exchange and promissory notes; and a third, by General Pretyman, appointed James Allison Collins as "Landdrost of Bloemfontein to administer the ordinary civil and criminal laws." In this proclamation the landdrost's court was ordered to resume its work on Monday, March 19th. A district surgeon, clerk, receiver, and second clerk to the landdrost's court were also appointed.
General Pretyman extended his original market proclamation so that it established the ruling prices of cattle, meat, breadstuffs, and groceries. In the Field Marshal's proclamation as translated into the Taal, Lord Roberts was declared to be "Ik (I), Frederick Sleigh Baron Roberts van Kandahar, K.P., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., V.C., Veld-maarschalk, Opperbevelhebber van de Britsche Krijgsmachten in Zuid-Afrika."
In a notice to the Army we said that our chief aim was to make the paper welcome to and supported by all ranks, and we invited all in the Army to write for us. It is true that when, in the previous day's issue we published a poetic contribution by a kind friend, who was the first to come to our assistance; we did not precisely encourage others to follow his example. On the contrary, we accompanied the verses with the remark to the writer, "Your verses are execrable. See for yourself in print." But this was merely one of the many interesting peculiarities of the paper. We published the fact that Miss Elliott, daughter of the General Manager of the Cape Government Railways, arrived with her father by special train on the previous night, and was the first lady to cross the Free State border and to visit Bloemfontein. The editorial of the day was by Mr. Buxton, and was entitled "Uitlander or Rebel, Subject or Burgher."
The most notable article was called "The Confession of a Horse-stealer," and was written by one of the editors. In the same number another member of the editorial quartette wrote a strong little article calling attention to the prevalence and brazenness of horse thieves, and deploring the facts in earnest and indignant language. I was now at work at a desk in the editorial room, and was forced to act as judge between the outraged virtue of my colleague who detested horse-stealing and the pained surprise of my other colleague who (shall I say pretended or) confessed in writing that he was an expert at the crime.
"Surely you agree with me that this thing has got to stop?" said the one editor.
"Surely you will not allow such canting nonsense to go into the paper?" said the other, "especially where the entire army has become adept at the practice of looting Boer horses or exchanging worn-out steeds for the fresher ones of friends."
Being a born diplomat I agreed with both my colleagues, praised both their articles, and voted that both should ornament the columns of THE FRIEND.
I was in a position to behave with this impartiality. My character and reputation at home forced me to the side of the indignant moralist, and yet, on the other hand, certain episodes in my recent experience inclined me to view the confessions of the horse-stealer with leniency. More than once I had been forced to choose between walking for days in the enemy's country or utilising horses that had been abandoned by the Boers. If I were again placed in such a position I would surrender myself a prisoner to the Boers rather than touch even a little thing like a horse that did not belong to me. I have had time to reflect, and I see how weak I was; but at that time I was in the Boer country where stealing is called "commandeering," and seems a trifling thing, rather creditable if practised successfully and with a high hand. In justification of my course in commending the high, moral view of my other colleague, I could say with pride that the horses I had taken were both dead, and with them also disappeared the former stain upon my character.
The happy combination of these points in common with both my colleagues, enabled me to publish both their articles and bring them back to the friendliest terms. So successful was I that we allowed our feelings to carry us beyond the bounds of reason--that is to say, we agreed to go to the Club and take a drink. It was a thing which no intelligent man would lightly agree to do. The only liquid refreshments then obtainable at the Club were enteric germs in water, gin, vermouth, and port wine. It required an occasion of the first importance to induce any of us to go to the Club, which was always as crowded as an egg is with meat. All day, and until late in the evening, the principal apartment barely afforded standing room. The porch was equally well filled, and horses in dozens were tethered before the house. It was the social exchange and rendezvous of the officers of something like 80,000 men, and I can hardly believe that anywhere in the world was there a club-house so constantly crowded.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
BLOEMFONTEIN, MONDAY, MARCH 19, 1900.
Whereas it is deemed expedient and necessary for the welfare of the Orange Free State that Postal and Telegraph Services shall be resumed in the aforesaid Republic, as far as circumstances permit,
I, FREDERICK SLEIGH BARON ROBERTS OF KHANDAHAR, K.P., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., V.C., Field Marshal and Commanding-in-Chief of the British Forces in South Africa, do hereby nominate and appoint David George Anosi Falck Administrator of the Civil Posts and Telegraphs in such portions of the Orange Free State as have been, or may hereafter be occupied by British troops. And I do hereby order that the Postal and Telegraph services shall be resumed in the portions of the aforesaid Republic already referred to, from the nineteenth day of March, 1900, under the existing Laws and Conventions of the Orange Free State, subject to such alterations as may from time to time be notified.
Given under my hand at Bloemfontein this Seventeenth Day of March, 1900.
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.
ROBERTS, Field-Marshal, Commanding-in-Chief British Forces, South Africa.
ARMY ORDERS--SOUTH AFRICA.
ARMY HEADQUARTERS, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, BLOEMFONTEIN, March 15, 1900.
I. Civil Population to be unmolested.
It being desirable and in the interest of both the British Government and the inhabitants of this country that all residents should be assured that, so long as they remain peaceably disposed, their civil rights and property will be respected, it is strictly forbidden that any private property should be compulsorily taken possession of by other than the authorised Supply Officers.
All articles required by the troops must be obtained and paid for in the ordinary way, and no trespassing or interference with the inhabitants will be permitted.
These instructions apply to detached bodies of troops as well as to the Force generally, and it is especially the duty of all officers to put a stop to all attempts to infringe them.
By order, J. W. KELLY, A.-G. for C. of Staff.
ARMY ORDERS--SOUTH AFRICA.
BLOEMFONTEIN, March 14, 1900.
It affords the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief the greatest pleasure in congratulating the Army in South Africa on the various events that have occurred during the past few weeks, and he would specially offer his sincere thanks to that portion of the Army which, under his immediate command, has taken part in the operations resulting yesterday in the capture of Bloemfontein.
On the 12th February this force crossed the boundary which divided the Orange Free State from British territory. Three days later Kimberley was relieved. On the 15th day the bulk of the Boer Army in this State, under one of their most trusted generals, were made prisoners. On the 17th day the news of the relief of Ladysmith was received, and on the 13th March, 29 days from the commencement of the operations, the capital of the Orange Free State was occupied.
This is a record of which any army may well be proud--a record which could not have been achieved except by earnest, well-disciplined men, determined to do their duty and to surmount whatever difficulties or dangers might be encountered.
Exposed to extreme heat by day, bivouacking under heavy rain, marching long distances (not infrequently with reduced rations), the endurance, cheerfulness, and gallantry displayed by all ranks are beyond praise, and Lord Roberts feels sure that neither Her Majesty the Queen nor the British nation will be unmindful of the effort made by this force to uphold the honour of their country.
The Field Marshal desires especially to refer to the fortitude and heroic spirit with which the wounded have borne their sufferings. Owing to the great extent of country over which modern battles have to be fought, it is not always possible to afford immediate aid to those who are struck down; many hours have, indeed, at times, elapsed before the wounded could be attended to, but not a word of murmur or complaint has been uttered; the anxiety of all, when succour came, was that their comrades should be cared for first.
In assuring every officer and man how much he appreciates their efforts in the past, Lord Roberts is confident that, in the future, they will continue to show the same resolution and soldierly qualities, and to lay down their lives, if need be (as so many brave men have already done), in order to ensure that the war in South Africa may be brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
By order, (Sd.) W. F. KELLY, Major-General, Deputy-Adjutant-General, for Chief of Staff.
ARMY ORDERS--SOUTH AFRICA.
ARMY HEADQUARTERS, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, BLOEMFONTEIN, March 16, 1900.
The Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief has great pleasure in publishing the following telegrams which have been received:--
(a) From Her Majesty the Queen: "Accept my warmest congratulations for yourself and those under you on your great success. Trust all wounded doing well."--V. R.
(b) From His Excellency the High Commissioner: "In a spirit of deep thankfulness I congratulate you and your gallant Army on the rapidity and completeness of success which has attended the recent operations--crowned by the occupation of the enemy's capital."--MILNER.
(c) From the Rear Admiral Commanding-in-Chief, Simonstown: "My personal and Navy's heartiest congratulations on your success."--ADMIRAL.
(d) From Chairman of the London County Council: "On behalf of Metropolis, whence many of your brave soldiers have been drawn, I congratulate your Lordship's having gloriously reached a point which brings you one step nearer towards final success and peace."--DICKINSON, Chairman of the London County Council.
(e) From the Lord Provost of Glasgow: "The Corporation of Glasgow in Council assembled offer you and Her Majesty's troops under your command their hearty congratulations on the success of your operations, culminating in your occupation in the Capital of the Free State, and their earnest hope for a speedy termination of the War."--LORD PROVOST.
Referring to Army Order (of March 11, 1900), it is notified for information that Her Majesty orders that all Irishmen, whether serving in Irish Regiments or not, shall be allowed to wear the Shamrock on St. Patrick's Day.
By order, W. KELLY, Major-General, Deputy-Adjutant-General.
The first hundred copies of our last issue--Saturday, March 17, were, by accident, wrongly dated under the title on the front page.
The Editors are willing to pay Five Shillings each for a few clean copies of this portion of the issue.
THE CONFESSIONS OF A HORSE-STEALER.
(N.B.--This article is privileged. The Provost Marshal cannot, therefore, take proceedings against the author.)
When somewhere about the beginning of December I arrived at Modder River, I think I may say I was as honest as the generality of mankind. I do not remember any incident in my early childhood and youth which could in any way have been cited as a proof that I had predatory instincts. At home I never stole, at schools I never stole, at Colleges I never stole, and during several years of wandering about the face of the globe I never stole. But since I accompanied Lord Roberts' force from Enslin to Bloemfontein I have stolen freely, and I as freely admit it. Why? Ah, the answer to that question involves deep ethical considerations, and cannot be answered right off. Let me tell my tale, and I fancy that I shall receive the sympathy of most members of the force, and even the Provost Marshal will no longer pine to hang me.
When I left Enslin I was the proud possessor of three fine saddle-horses and two decrepit-looking but sturdy cart-horses. Now I have to hire a man to repeat daily to me the number of my riding-horses, and I drive about Bloemfontein with a spanking team. I am aware that this confession will make the Provost Marshal's hair stand straight on his head; but let him have a little patience. Let him think what a glorious thing it is to find the one horse-thief in the army. I calculate that about 5,000 horses have illicitly changed hands during the advance from Modder River, and yet I have never found a man who has not most indignantly denied the merest, slenderest imputation of being concerned in a horse "transaction." Therefore--the army is honest, and there is only one horse-thief in it. The honour of the force is saved, and I am the only culprit. This is centralisation with a vengeance, and no longer need the Provost Marshal send his myrmidons galloping far and wide in search of horse-thieves. When next he hears of the loss of a horse, let him come to me--the only thief. I will let him know my address when Martial Law is replaced by the ordinary procedure of justice.
But let me recount, to what, I hope, will be a sympathetic public, how I fell from honesty into the blackest depths of dishonesty. At Jakobsdal, Messieurs les Boers shot my finest horse. I was grieved naturally, and hurt too, that a poor non-combatant should have been treated so cavalierly. But "à la guerre comme à la guerre," I whispered to myself, and hoped for better luck next time. I followed the force from Jacobsdal to Klipkraal and Paardeberg, and at the last-named camp I awoke one morning to find my sturdy black pony had been taken quietly from under my very nose. I raved and stamped and swore at the loss. My sympathetic black boy tried to console me. "If master like," he said, "I go catch another horse." But so high and pure was my morality at that time that I almost thrashed him on the spot for daring to make such a suggestion. I walked away disconsolate, and sought a friend whose ribboned breast showed that he had seen service in every quarter of the globe. His answer to my request was short and simple. "Go and see whether he is picketed with ---- Horse" (wild rhinoceri will not drag from me the name of that gallant regiment of M.I.). I went, and there conspicuously displayed in the front rank of the tethered horses was my black pony. I did not hesitate, but, blessing the members of ---- Horse for so kindly caring for my poor wandering pony, I began to untie the ream of the halter. But the watchful eye of one of the men was open, and I was startled to hear a noise at my side say, "Well, upon my soul, this beats cock-fighting. You come to the wrong shop if you think you can steal a horse from this regiment," and he roughly took the ream out of my hand.
I protested. "The horse is mine," I said, "I'd know him anywhere." "Get on," was the answer, "he belongs to my captain. Why, look at the brand." And, sure enough, on my poor pony's quarters were three big letters which represented, I suppose, his initials.
But I was in no way cast down. To go and explain to the officer that a little mistake had occurred was, after all, quite an easy matter, and I approached the gentleman who was sitting under a mimosa bush having breakfast. I explained the matter to him, and asked permission to lead my property home. But the captain roared with laughter. "Lead my horse home?" he shouted in another burst of laughter. "I like that. Why, do you know that the dam of that horse belonged to my Uncle Jim? He was the first man in that part of the country. Why," and again he laughed, "I remember when that black pony of mine was foaled. It was the 7th, no--the 10th of October. I remember quite well, for three weeks after we had a big garden party and all the ladies fell in love with the little beggar because he ate bread and butter from their hands and was the greediest beggar you ever saw after chocolate creams. Why, damme, if I didn't take that pony home again, I believe my old governor would cut me off with a shilling."
I stood aghast. What a fool, what a sanguinary fool I was to go and make such a mistake. My apologies were ample, humble and profuse. But as I passed the horse-lines again I could not help thinking how singularly like my lost pony was the animal which, as a foal, so amused the ladies at the garden party.
And then I did the foolishest thing I ever did in all my life. I bought a new horse. Twenty-four hours afterwards it was claimed by four different officers, and I narrowly escaped hanging at the hands of the Provost Marshal, who at once ordered me to return the animal to its rightful owner. I gave it up to the four claimants, and let them decide among themselves the question of ownership.
And now I had but one pony left--and I guarded it as the apple of my eye. But again the Fates were against me, and it went off--I do not for a moment suggest that it was taken off. Again I tried ----'s Horse and all the Regular and Irregular Corps in the force, and was indignantly rebuked for daring to look for a stray horse in their lines. And so I was reduced to walking to and fro at Paardeberg Camp. But one fine afternoon, returning across the huge endless plain, I was nearly ridden down by a subaltern, and as I glanced at the reckless rider I saw that he was riding my pony. I shouted and yelled to him to stop, which he did.
"You are riding my pony," said I.
"I'm not," was the laconic answer.
"But I'm sure of it."
"So am I."
"Well, you're wrong this time. That pony is mine. I've had him for three months and I know him as well as I know my own boots."
But there was never a blush on the face of the subaltern. The pony he rode was, he admitted, of a very common type as regards colour and height. And he discussed at great length the difficulty of recognising horses. He told us that one of the greatest horse-dealers in London failed to recognise a horse that he had himself ridden a whole year. And then he drowned me in dates. The pony he was riding was bought for the remount of December 13th, kept at Stellenbosch till January 4th, arrived at De Aar on January 6th, was used there by a staff officer who did not like him and sent him up to Orange River on February 1st. On February 5th he became the property of the subaltern, who appeared to have tethered the beast at night to his waist, so positive was he that "he had never lost sight of the pony since."
What could I say? I couldn't call him a liar, for he was a tall, well-made subaltern, and he might have knocked me down, so I let him ride my pony away, and I trudged home to my camp beside the river.
Early next morning I collected all the servants and I addressed them as follows: "I have not got a single riding-horse left, and I want some; go and get some."
It was a laconic speech, but wonderfully effective. By five o'clock that afternoon three grand beasts were standing under the shelter of the river bank close to my camp, undergoing the different processes of hogging, tail-cutting, dyeing and other forms of transformation used by horse-stealers. In ten days I could have mounted a whole troop of cavalry. I will confess that I was a bit frightened, when, at five o'clock one morning, they brought me two magnificent chargers, for I recognised them as the property of the Commander-in-Chief. But although I delayed His Excellency's departure to Kimberley for an hour, I succeeded in sending them back to his lines unperceived.
I now possess a splendid stud of saddle-horses. I find it so difficult to feed them all, however, that it is my intention to offer them for sale next Wednesday. The conditions of sale are the usual ones, but it is to be distinctly understood that if any person dares to claim one of the animals as his own he will be turned out of the enclosure with ignominy.
TO THE SOLDIERS' POET.
BY B. CHARLES TUCKER.
So you've come, Mynheer Kiplin', so you've come:
Wot a chap you are to foller up the drum!
S'pose yer's gwine to make some verse?
Well, there's lots wot does it worse,
You'd 'ave made a better Laurrytte than some.
We 'ave read your latest rimin' in the "FRIEND,"
But it's finished up too soon toward the end;
But the paper's raither small, Sure it's 'ardly none at all,
If 'twere larger now 'twould be the bigger friend.
Now I arsks yer, Mister Kiplin', ain't yer proud
Of the "absent-minded beggars," how they've ploughed
Through 'ard ground to "Bobsfontein,"
Dorp of late departed Steyn,
Ain't yer proud of this great ragged Kharki crowd?
Glad to see yer, Mister Kiplin' and the "boys."
Old Bloemfontein never knew such times--and noise,
There's paradin', drillin'--and
Every night we gets the band,
And there's nothin' now our 'appiness alloys.
A SERIOUS MATTER.
BY PERCEVAL LANDON.
Horse-stealing is becoming a grave scandal. It constitutes the one blemish upon the otherwise excellent military régime that has been firmly but unobtrusively imposed. From their grazing grounds, from the rail in front of the Club, from the actual hands of Cape boys leading them to or from their lines, horses have been stolen with as little compunction as though they had been found grazing on the veldt.
In some cases marks have been obliterated and manes and tails cropped by the thieves in the endeavour to conceal the identity of the animal, and it is our duty to ask that an example shall be made of any person found in the possession of a horse not his own, or from which such marks or brands have been recently obliterated, or upon which others have been recently imposed.
It must be apparent to any man of sense that a horse which is offered to him by any person, white or coloured, for a nominal sum, is a horse which that boy or person has no right whatever to possess or attempt to sell, and any man purchasing under these circumstances must be held to be an accomplice in the theft.
It is earnestly to be hoped that, in felling necessary timber for the use of the troops, all particularly fine or ornamental trees will be spared. This district is sufficiently well wooded to supply otherwise all requirements, and depends largely upon its timber for its attractiveness.
Mr. Kruger was being sped from the late Presidency when he recently visited the front near Gallaiskop and Osfontein, and President Steyn's parting remark was "Mind the British don't catch you, or you'll get a better place in St. Helena than I." It is hardly necessary now to remind the late President Steyn that many a true word is spoken in jest.
It is not a little offensive to the ordinary British sense of the fitness of things that a native should be parading the Market Square in the red tunic of the Soldiers of the Queen. Yet this was to be seen yesterday afternoon when the pipes were skirling their martial strains, to the delight of all and sundry. The name of the regiment--Shropshire--was plainly in evidence on the shoulder strap.
Lord Roberts's entry into Bloemfontein narrowly missed marking another of those historical, dramatic episodes such as Cronje's Day afforded. The British withdrawal from the Orange Sovereignty Territory actually took place on March 11, 1846, the proclamation being dated February 23rd of the same year. The Queen's soldiers re-entered this town on March 13th, only missing what would have been a wonderful coincidence by less than forty-eight hours.
TO THE BURGHERS OF THE ORANGE FREE STATE.
In continuation of the Proclamation which I issued when the British troops under my command entered the Orange Free State, in which I warned all burghers to desist from any further hostility, and undertook that those of them who might so desist, and were staying in their homes and quietly pursuing their ordinary occupations, would not be made to suffer in their persons or property on account of their having taken up arms in obedience to the order of their Government, I now make known to all burghers that I have been authorised by the Government of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen to offer the following terms to those of them who have been engaged in the present war:--
All burghers who have not taken a prominent part in the policy which has led to the war between Her Majesty and the Orange Free State, or commanded any forces of the Republic, or commandeered or used violence to any British subjects, and who are willing to lay down their arms at once, and to bind themselves by an oath to abstain from further participation in the war, will be given passes to allow them to return to their homes, and will not be made prisoners of war, nor will their property be taken from them.
ROBERTS, Field Marshal, Commanding-in-Chief Her Majesty's Forces in South Africa. Government House, Bloemfontein, 15th March, 1900.