The Thirteenth Number, produced by Mr. James Barnes of New York.
The last of the dinner was still in our mouths, the last words in answer to the toasts had not been spoken five hours when, at daybreak on the 29th, we were all, except Mr. James Barnes, on the way to the battle of the Glen (or of Karree Siding, as it is sometimes called). Mr. Barnes most kindly remained to take entire control of THE FRIEND, which is to say that he undertook the work of four men, and had as his only assistant a bright young American journalist from Philadelphia, Mr. Joseph W. Jenkins. This young gentleman had worked hard and gratuitously for us from the first as the gatherer of the news of the little capital, and very fertile and versatile he proved.
Mr. Bennet Burleigh took Mr. Kipling to the fight in his Cape-cart, and they started out with more style and comfort than an Oriental general swaying on the cushioned howdah of his elephant charger. But the course of a day in war is as uncertain as that of love or as the nature of the white men, and, early in the day, the Poet of the Empire was under a hot Mauser fire. Far from being nervous or regretting the experience, he seemed to feel only the tingle of the excitement. If you could get him to refer to it you saw that he rejoiced to have felt the breath and heard the weird, low song of the leaden rain.
For myself I had such an inglorious escapade as no man would care to dwell upon who was in a war to get the best or the worst, but not to be incapacitated by what could have happened at home. In a word, I went into a wire fence off the back of a frightened racehorse, and was obliged to go on to the battle, belated and with both fore-arms torn into strips, not to speak of injuries which must stay by me as mementoes of the day so long as I live.
Mr. Barnes's number of THE FRIEND was a good one. His editorial, "As to the Future," was very vigorous, and must have pleased Sir Alfred Milner, who did us the honour to say that he valued the paper as a most efficient arm of the effort to pacify and reconcile to their fate our neighbours of the Free State. He suggested to me that we should address ourselves more directly to the Boers, and always with a view to impressing them with our magnanimous intentions, and the benefits and advantages of enlightened British rule. It was his suggestion, also, that all articles calculated to encourage resignation on their part should be duplicated in the Taal language, and this wise plan we began at once to endeavour to follow. We succeeded but feebly, because we did not know the Taal ourselves, and we could not trust the majority of the sometimes "slim" ones among the few who were able to perform the work of translation creditably.
In this number of the paper Mr. Barnes published No. 4 of Mr. Kipling's "Fables for the Staff," and the poem by Mr. Kipling on Perceval Landon's birthday. "A Realistic Comedy," by an anonymous writer, the third of Mr. Gwynne's articles on the art of war, and a bit of a brief correspondence between the army telegraphists and Mr. Bennet Burleigh were also in this entertaining number.
Mr. Barnes was exceedingly well liked by all who knew him in the army, and was much sought as a companion, for his unvarying good humour and for such a fund of anecdotes, songs, and imitations as was possessed by no one else of our acquaintance. I think the best of his anecdotes of his own experiences in the war was concerning the Boer losses at Driefontein. The British had found more than sixty bodies, and knew that fifty other Boers had been killed. (I will not say that these are the exact figures, but they give a just idea of the actual losses of the Boers.) Nevertheless, when Barnes questioned a Boer prisoner taken at that battle, the man said that his force had suffered a loss of only eight killed.
"Then who is it that gets killed by our bullets in all these fights?" Barnes asked. "We fight you, and after each battle we see the dead being carried off; we find other dead on the field, and we see the loose mounds of earth under which you have hastily buried others. Who are these dead men?"
"I don't know," said the prisoner, "our commandant said we only had eight men killed at Abraham's Kraal (Driefontein)."
"I understand," said Barnes. "He must know how many you lost. But we saw over sixty dead bodies where you had been fighting. Whose bodies do you suppose they were? Not Boers, of course, but still, they belonged to some people who had been shot. There seems to be in South Africa a mysterious race of people who follow you around in this war and persist in getting in the way of our bullets. I should think you would warn them of their danger, or give orders for them to stop coming to all the battles. They may have wives and children who mourn them; at all events, they are not needed as filters in all the rivers, or for starting informal cemeteries all over the veldt as they have been doing ever since the fighting began. I wonder what people they are."
"I don't know. We only lost eight," said the Boer.
"And we buried sixty," said Barnes. "Really you ought to find out who these bullet-stoppers are, and warn them not to be always getting killed by us who have no quarrel with them and are only trying to shoot Boers."
Another of Mr. Barnes's tales is of that awful daybreak massacre at Maghersfontein. Mr. Barnes was forging ahead to learn what had happened when he met three men in kilts dashing over the veldt, away from the battle.
"Here," Mr. Barnes cried, "who are you? Where are you going?"
"Oh, mon," said one of the poor unnerved chaps, "we are a' that's left o' the ---- ----."
In defence of themselves against some inconvenience which Mr. Burleigh had complained, some telegraphers of the R.E. Corps declared that the staff in Bloemfontein "performed seventeen hours last Sunday in order to remove pressure produced to a great extent by work other than military. Whilst every other arm of the service had been enjoying a brief and well-earned rest, our portion has consisted of at least twelve hours' hard work at the instrument, cooped up in a room reeking with a pestilential atmosphere which has, in several cases, produced violent vomiting.
"After all, we can nurse to our breasts the satisfaction that our gallant Commander-in-Chief has been pleased to specially thank the much-despised corps for the indispensable services rendered by it."
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
No. 11.] BLOEMFONTEIN, THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 1900. [Price One Penny
By order of his Lordship the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief the British Forces in South Africa, it is notified that Quit Rents on Farms should now be paid in to the Receiver at the Landdrost's Office. Amounts not paid on or before the 31st May, 1900, are liable to be doubled.
JAMES A. COLLINS, Landdrost. Landdrost's Office, Bloemfontein, March 26, 1900.
FABLES FOR THE STAFF.
[Footnote 9: Copyrighted, used by the author's permission.]
BY RUDYARD KIPLING.
A Cavalry-horse of indubitable Valour, carrying a complete Wardrobe Office and Housekeeping Apparatus on his back, met by chance a Boer pony of unprepossessing Exterior.
"My ungroomed Friend," said the Horse, "let me draw your attention to my Master's portable Bath, Umbrella, Typewriter, Hair Brushes, Dressing-case, and complete Service of Plate; also to my own spare Shoes and cold Collation for the next Week. Few I opine enjoy such luxurious appointments."
"They are indeed fin de siècle and non-plus-ultra," remarked the ewe-necked Son of the Veldt, "but You must excuse Me for I see my Master approaching. He does not use Hair-brushes, and I have neither spare shoes nor curry combs."
"Then I must trouble you to return as my Prisoner," said the Horse.
"On the contrary," replied the Child of the ungrassed Kopje; "it is a condition and not a theory that confronts us. Let me draw your attention to my scintillatery heels."
So saying the Unkempt Equine departed in a neat cloud of Dust, from the Centre of which his Master scientifically shot the Cavalry Horse in the Abdomen.
A BIRTHDAY GREETING.
[Footnote 10: The birthday of Mr. Perceval Landon. Copyrighted, and used here by permission.]
BY RUDYARD KIPLING.
Tell the smiling Afric morn,
Let the stony kopje know,
Landon of the Times was born
One and thirty years ago.
Whisper greetings soft and low,
Pour the whisky, deal the bun,
Only Bell and Buckle know
All the evil he has done.
FOR WIDOWS AND ORPHANS.
In accordance with the public notice printed in this journal, a meeting of war correspondents was held yesterday afternoon at the Free State Hotel, Bloemfontein, when the arrangements for a concert to be given in the Town Hall "in aid of widows and orphans" were discussed. Messrs. Bennet Burleigh (Daily Telegraph), Pearse (Daily News), Maxwell (Standard), and Haarburgher, were appointed members of the Executive Committee with power to add to their number, and it was decided that the proceeds of the concert should be divided equally between the London and Bloemfontein funds. The date, which remains to be fixed, will probably be Friday of next week, and the prices of admission 5s., 3s., and 1s., the latter for soldiers in uniform.
A REALISTIC COMEDY.
I haven't often been really defeated, but I felt very like it that Black Monday.
My convoy consisted of self and Jimmy (my subaltern), two conductors, 100 native drivers, about 500 oxen, and 40 waggons. We were hundreds of miles from the front so had no escort, and were fifteen miles from anywhere. The country was simply a succession of kopjes as like each other as a pair of ammunition boots, the map was much too small a scale to be of any use, and our native guide had lost the way!
We ought to have struck water about dawn, after trekking all night, but there wasn't a sign of it. The heat was awful as we toiled our dusty way between those glaring kopjes, until about noon we sighted a stagnant dam, half full, and we went for it like savages, men, oxen and all.
It must have been absolute rank poison. In a couple of hours two men were writhing on the ground, a score more, blue and shivering, were feeling touched, and the whole lot were thoroughly funked. It was just like a native cholera camp in India, and to those who have experienced that I need say no more.
We sent out our most useful men on our best horses, to hunt the country, five miles round for a farm or well; we started fires to boil water and worked our wretched little filters for all they were worth. Jimmy and I had a bottle of chlorodyne apiece, but they were empty in an hour or so and our whisky was finished soon afterward. I had meant to trek again as soon as it got dark, but before the sun touched the horizon all our scouts were back--not a drop of water anywhere! Had there been any, I doubt if we could have got to it--half our oxen were incapable of moving and the blacks were simply off their heads. But I noticed that our chlorodyne, either by its own power, or by the belief they put in it, had really done good. So I made up my mind to a night there and called up one of the conductors.--"Take the native guide and bring me two of the best horses you can find--ride straight on for all you are worth--find a farm--offer them any sum to send on this note of mine to Viten Siding for a doctor and medicines--bring back any drugs they've got and brandy or spirits--come back as hard as you can."
Then we settled down to the most ghastly night I've ever spent; we walked the bed cases up and down--don't know what good this is but had seen it done in India--put on mustard poultices till we fairly took the black's skins off--and knocked down a few who were howling about the camp in sheer panic. I don't know what I should have done without Jimmy, but even his chaff couldn't keep the poor devils amused. About midnight I had a bad turn myself and Jimmy put me to bed, but it wore off, and I fell into a nightmared slumber. Just before dawn I awoke; Jimmy was brewing coffee and whistling: "When we are married."
"How do you feel?" he said.
"Perfectly fit again. Any dead?"
"Only two, but they were sick before. All the lot in blue funks still."
"No." Then we strained our eyes in the direction where he had disappeared.
I remember wondering dreamily why Jimmy whistled so damned out of tune, and whether any of us would ever get out of this death-trap, when we saw a speck far up the road. Jimmy stopped in the middle of "Dolly Day Dreams," spilt his coffee, and dashed off up the road.
The conductor had killed his own horse and the guide's; had found a farm ten miles away; had sent on my note but Doctor could not arrive till to-morrow; there were no drugs at the farm, but he'd brought us two bottles of Dop and four loaves of fresh bread done up in a brown parcel!
[Footnote 11: Cape Good Hope brandy.]
A crowd of niggers were hovering round as near my tent as they dared come, hoping to catch an inkling of the news, and I could tell from the tone of their low mutterings that they expected nothing good. For a moment I was badly defeated.
Then a Heaven-sent inspiration seized me--"Well, Brown," I said, raising my voice, "So that's the chlorodyne is it?"--I seized the big brown-paper parcel--"It's five o'clock now; tell every Jack man in camp he's to fall in here sharp at six for a dose of chlorodyne."
The conductor stared at me; I suppose he thought I was mad.
"Don't you hear," I cried; "go off at once, and don't let anybody interrupt us while we have breakfast." And I managed to give him the faintest wink--in another minute I heard him shouting my order through the camp.
"Jimmy, let's make chlorodyne." Jimmy grinned. "Collis Browne's is the best," he said; "twenty drops for an adult."
Then he started whistling again while we shut up the tent and went to work.
"Small bottles are no use," I said, "must have wholesale manufactory; we'll find that demi-john."
We started with two tins of condensed milk--to give it a bit of body--and a tin of Van Houten's cocoa made a grand colouring. Two big spoonfuls of red pepper, "to ginger it up." "Must mix our flavour," said Jimmy, "or they'll recognize the brand"--so in went Bengal chutney and strawberry jam. We were rummaging out our grocery box--"Sardines ain't much use, nor cheese, nor Danish butter; but here's a bottle of the nastiest pickles I ever tasted, let's give them the juice of that; they won't believe it's medicine unless it tastes bad."
"My tooth powder is nasty enough," said Jimmy, "Carbolic something, and warranted to do no harm--in it goes."
The two bottles of Dop were chucked in as a finish and the mixture was nasty enough for anybody--rich brown, creamy, and fiery hot.
Jimmy had entered heart and soul into the business.--"None's genuine without the label," he cried, and rushed at our small stationery box. "Hullo, sealing wax, here, you find a cork and seal it up; these cards will do for labels. Some of these niggers can read and write, so we must play the game right through. If they spot us we're done. Now, men--Genuine Chlorodyne--for coughs, colds, &c.--every three hours till the pain ceases; to be well shaken before taken. And another label--To O.C. No. 2, General Hospital, Viten Sideing,--On H.M. Service--free--franked. Dirty the paper a bit to show it's come a long way--then when we throw the jar away they'll see it's genuine."
"They don't have chlorodyne in our hospitals," I suggested.
"Go to blazes! the niggers aren't cute enough for that. But look here, old chap, you look a bit cheap; we'll resurrect you to start with. I'm afraid you'll have to take some, but I'll make it as small a dose as I can."
Then I lay down huddled up in a corner. The opening tableau was ready, and we rang up the curtain, or rather the tent-flap. Jimmy was as serious as a judge: "All present, conductor? All right; where's that medicine got to? Oh, there; now then, anybody got a corkscrew?" A hum went up from the figures squatting round. Jimmy held up his hand: "Quiet there, the captain is very bad; I must see to him first." He lifted my drooping head and forced a spoonful of the filth between my teeth.
I heaved a sigh, patted myself below the belt, rolled my eyes open, and stood up, fully recovered!
Astonishment mingled with applause!
We selected a hulking, big brute as the next victim. He was palpably shamming; he spluttered a bit over his dose, but took the cue from me: patted himself, rolled his eyes, and was recovered.
"Next," said Jimmy. It reminded me of the brimstone and treacle at Dotheboys Hall.
Applause gave way to regular hilarity, and the blacks were soon ragging each other on the faces they made.
"This is the biggest thing of modern times," said Jimmy as the last man went off grinning and spluttering. "Talk about faith-healing--well, either it's an absolute fact, or else we two are the leading medical stars of the new century."
Then Jimmy and I shook hands, and he tried to whistle "Dolly Day Dreams" again, but couldn't manage it for a minute or two.
There were a few real bad cases still, but they all pulled through.
Then we served out to the men the best rations we could raise and a bit of 'baccy apiece. They cooked away with a will, filled themselves out with breakfast, lay down beneath their wagons, and went to sleep.
Jimmy and I went to sleep too. At sunset we inspanned and made the 10 miles to the farm early. Our doctor met us there.
But I shall never hear "Dolly Day Dreams" again without thinking of bare veldt, black faces, and chlorodyne.
There's some one in the Army that I'd like to write about,
For it's seldom that he gets his share of praise;
He's as gallant as most lions and you can always hear him shout,
Through the rattle of the battle now-a-days.
When we read in all the papers of the Comp'ny officers killed,
We don't stop to think who has to take their place;
But if we knew, our hearts with admiration would be filled
For the N.C.O. with grim and grimy face.
His language on the barrack square, ain't quite what it should be,
And it's probable he likes his whack of beer,
But there's nothing like that voice of his, and never yet will be
To steady the young soldier when he's feeling "Bullet-queer."
He's ahead in all the rushes, he's the last one to retire,
And in battle's got a joke for every one;
He doesn't seem to mind a damn, when under Mauser fire,
And he don't forget the wounded when the day is fought and won.
Then, Mr. Rudyard Kipling, here's more work for you to do,
You've sung of gallant "Tommies" and their deeds,
Just write about their N.C.O.'s and give them all their due,
For good N.C.O.'s are what the Army needs.
IS THE ART OF WAR REVOLUTIONISED?
BY. H. A. GWYNNE.
The "Art of War," which, I must confess, is but a feeble equivalent for the art militaire of the French, covers strategy and tactics. In discussing the duties of any particular arm in warfare it is obvious that the discussion must necessarily deal with tactics rather than strategy, which, I take it, will not undergo any great change as long as human nature remains subject to its present limitations. But the arm which I am now discussing has been and will be in the future even more the chief instrument used by a general who wishes to carry out big strategic movements. Wherefore cavalry must, above all things, be mobile, ready to move at the shortest moment, prepared in every respect to carry out quickly the ideas of the commander.
The "strategic arm," as the cavalry has been styled, has been called upon, during the present campaign, to face difficulties which have been almost unknown in former campaigns. First and foremost it has had to operate against an army of mounted infantry, more mobile than itself. Waterless plains, heat, and short rations, have been difficulties which in Europe would be absent. Foreign criticisms on the operations of our cavalry in the present campaign are based on false premises, inasmuch that their authors assume a plentiful supply of water, an equable climate, an easy transport, and a fair amount of supplies. They have not taken into account the fact that our cavalry have had to cut themselves off from all supplies in what, for all practical purposes, is a howling desert, for the English horses have steadily refused to touch the veldt-grass. If there is one criticism on the operations of our cavalry which can in any sense be justified, it is that in many cases we have made it an objective of our movements to charge the enemy. By doing so, we have perhaps sacrificed opportunities of outflanking the Boers for the illusive chance of proving the efficiency of the arme blanche on an enemy, whose only weapon is a rifle. I once heard a distinguished cavalry officer declare that it was his conviction that in a two-mile race, starting fair, the Boer, mounted on his little African pony, would outpace our troopers riding a big English horse and carrying an equipment which reminded him of the picture of Father Christmas. But as over two million people have at different times criticised the weight of cavalry equipment, and nobody, except the Boer, has given us a remedy, we may leave this portion of our subject to lecturer--the U.S. Institute.
The great question which will have to be answered in the near future is whether the mounted force of an army is to be cavalry or mounted infantry. To my mind there can be no doubt about the answer. The mounted forces of the future will be cavalry, and in much greater proportion to infantry than at present. The great force of mounted infantry which we have raised in the present war is intended to cope with an army of Mounted Infantry opposed to us. Whether they will ever be used again is doubtful. But what certainly will be the case is that the cavalry of the future will have to know how to shoot, and must be provided with something better than a carbine to shoot with. And practically they will then be Mounted Infantry with an arme blanche. "Shock tactics" will have to give place to long-range firing, and the cavalrymen of the future will be seen digging and holding trenches, holding kopjes, and repelling with rifle fire the advance of the enemy's Cavalry. This indeed will be a revolution.