I declare the Original War ended and a New One begun--Enteric's ravages.
"The Friend" of April 4th contained a column of offers of a new name for the Orange Free State in response to our promise of a five guinea prize to the propounder of the most suitable new title for the country. We published a ballot form for use by our readers in voting for whichever five of the proposed names they preferred. All our readers were asked to vote, and it was to be our part to discover what person was the earliest to send in either the five most popular names or the greater number of them. This gave us such an addition to our labours that I suspect we were all as sorry as I know that one of us was for having gone into this gift enterprise.
I was the author of the "leader" of the day upon "The End of the War." In this I said that the war first planned by the Boers was already over and won by the British. That was a war of extermination of the British in Natal and the Cape, which two colonies were to be the scene of the fighting, and to be captured by the Dutch. "It was to be fought out on British soil to the damage of British property and the slaughter of such British as did not flee from their homes. That war ended quickly in a complete failure. Now," I continued, "another struggle is going on to settle whether the two races are to live in peace together, whether the Boers are to continue to obstruct modern progress, and whether white men who live in South Africa are to enjoy white men's rights and white men's liberty."
We published an interesting review of the life of the late Sir Donald Stewart, who had just died in England.
Mr. Landon wrote an editorial requesting the editors of the mischievous Capetown organ of the Bond, Ons Land, not to send their wretched paper to our office, and he added that if we could have our way no such publication would exist.
Mr. Gwynne was the author of the witty paragraph on "How History is Made."
Enteric, the ravages of which were assuming extraordinary proportions, now began to exact attention from our contributors. One of these wrote recommending the transfer of enteric patients to a building put up as a retreat for lepers six miles away, at Sydenham. He argued that it was "not fair" to mass the fever patients in the buildings of Bloemfontein. I cannot have seen this article at the time, or it would have been either left out or answered by me with a modest suggestion that the "unfairness" might possibly be in allowing those of us who were well and strong to remain in the hotels, all of which, together with as many dwellings as were needed, could, perhaps, be turned into hospitals. To leave the fever-stricken men out in rain-soaked tents set up on muddy ground, where the most ordinary demands of nature had to be met at a risk of death--if this could be avoided, this was the unfair thing. I would have proposed that the sick soldiers and the too vigorous pro-Boers of Bloemfontein change places, putting our enemies in the tents, if such a course were possible.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
No. 16.] BLOEMFONTEIN, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 1900.
[Price One Penny.
TO THE INHABITANTS OF BLOEMFONTEIN.
There is a great want of bedsteads for the use of the sick and wounded in the various hospitals here.
An appeal is hereby made to the charity of the general public. All who can possibly spare any single bedsteads with mattresses and pillows complete, are earnestly requested to communicate with Colonel Stevenson, Principal Medical Officer, Maitland Street, who will arrange to receive them. Labels, with name and address of owner, should be affixed to each bedstead lent, so as to ensure its return when no longer required.
G. T. PRETYMAN,
Major-General, Military Governor.
WHEREAS: it is deemed expedient and necessary for the welfare of the Orange Free State that the Railway Service shall be resumed in the aforesaid Republic as far as circumstances permit,
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 of the British forces in South Africa, do hereby appoint Lieutenant Colonel Edouard Percy Cranwill Girouard, D.S.O., Director of Railways, South African Field Force, Administrator of the State Railways 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 Railway and Railway 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, and to the requirements of the army.
Given under my hand at Bloemfontein, this Thirtieth Day of March, 1900.
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!
Commanding-in-Chief British Forces in South Africa.
"THE RUSSIANS CAPTURE LONDON."
BY H. A. GWYNNE.
BLOEMFONTEIN, Thursday, received Friday.
Kruger is reported to have proclaimed the annexation of the Free State to the Transvaal.
It is also reported that he is circulating a proclamation that England is in dire straits, the Russians have occupied London and proclaimed it Russian territory (Reuter).
It is painful to think that Lord Roberts is totally unaware that he is fighting for a country that has ceased to exist, that St. Paul's is now a Greek Chapel, that the Thames is called the Temsky River, that our beloved Queen is a prisoner at Moscow, and that Lord Salisbury is already trudging on the weary snow-bound way to the mines at Kara, in Siberia.
Why do you laugh?
To us it seems awful!
CAUGHT BY THE BOERS.
After three weeks spent in "bluffing" the Colesberg Boers, by holding various kopjes with a half company at the bottom, I found myself one fine February morning seized with a sudden attack of "Mauseritis," and so forced to watch the rest of a disastrous rear-guard action without taking part in it.
My company and one other, having spent a very cold night on a kopje N.W. of Rensburg, came down at 5 a.m. to find our other companies "not lost but gone before" to Arundel, and a sudden and unexpected Boer cross-fire brought on the aforesaid "attack." From 6 to 8 I lay watching little puffs of dust in the immediate vicinity, caused by our men returning the fire, as a lot of the Boers had followed us up and were lying down about 300 yards from me.
At 8 our fire stopped, and up galloped batches of the ragged ruffians, the first two pointing Mausers at me and asking, "Rooinek wounded?" My answer, "Yes," seemed to relieve them, and they jumped off their horses, and quickly relieving me of carbine and belt (the only things they took) galloped on. At intervals of ten minutes all sorts and conditions followed them with, "Good morning, old chap," and they seemed very sorry at seeing me wounded. At 10, four of them, under the guidance of a commandant, carried me in a bit of sacking a mile to Rensburg Station, to the "Station Commandant's" Room, and I spent a happy day till 5 p.m. with 11 of our men, all air prevented from coming in by our inquisitive friends, the enemy, who "held" both doors and windows with great success, making the place a regular Black Hole.
They seemed quite happy, just standing still, staring at us, and never uttering a syllable, though they would do anything we asked. At last, after hours of waiting, they moved us to a coachhouse close by and "dressed" us. We stayed there till 5 the next day, and had many interesting talks with them. One old man gave us a blessing, with "I wish Chamberlain was here to see you now." Their sole idea was that Jos. C. and Rhodes were entirely responsible for the war. Many such questions as "Were you compelled to fight?" &c., were asked you, and a small box of "sparklets" cartridges was a source of much wonder. My next move was to an empty store in Colesberg, where Hofman (of the Cape Parliament) had a Russian-German and Dutch Ambulance combined (one of his men had been fighting against us and now, covered with Red Crosses, helped to carry us about). I stayed there a week, having devoured more figs and grapes than ever before.
All the English ladies and the Dutch Minister in particular brought us fruit, and I should like to thank them personally. Only the Dutch people were allowed in to see us, and were very keen on getting our buttons and badges as keep-sakes.
They turned us out of the field hospital one night at 9, and we were jolted along in buck-waggons till 5 the next morning, then a halt of 5 hours, and at last we got to Norval's Pont at 5 p.m., after the worst journey I ever hope to have. It was quite a treat seeing trees again, as some of the country we passed through was really pretty. Our ambulance train consisted of layers of stretchers, one above the other, on a large "bogey" truck. At Springfontein, we were entrusted to a German ambulance, from Hamburg, covered with crosses, doctors, nurses and patient helps, but they were very kind to us.
We got news daily from the station telegraphist, Mr. Fryer, and Mr. Shipp, also employed on the station, till the escape from Pretoria put an end to our visitors. The hospital was half full of Boers, and they seemed perfectly happy sitting still the whole day long doing nothing, but smoking hard. Two engines were always left ready for emergency, the line being 100 yards away, so sleep at night was a matter of difficulty. Just when I was hoping we should be relieved, they moved us under the safe keeping of a Bloemfontein policeman in a gorgeous blue uniform to the Volks Hospital here, passing through hundreds of sleeping burghers in the station. Here we languished in the utmost comfort, till the famous Tuesday when little black specks on the veldt and the arrival here of "Bobs" made our scarce-believing eyes quite certain that we were no longer Boer prisoners.
BY AN ARMY SURGEON.
No disease causes such havoc in modern campaigns as typhoid or enteric fever, and it becomes the duty of every one having authority to impress this fact upon the men committed to their charge. More especially is this duty imperative when troops are on the march, for many a valuable life is thrown away by the want of the strong hand of a wise discipline. When thirsty, men will drink anything, and it is here that good may be done. It is reported that one regiment on the march recently made the use of water-bottles a matter of drill, the word of command being given every hour for a mouthful of water to be drunk. As a result, men arrived in many cases at their bivouac with some water still left from their morning supply, without being one whit more thirsty than their neighbours.
Typhoid in the vast majority of cases is waterborne, and hence the greatest care should be taken to avoid any dubious pan or pool. The only real preventative of this disease is to boil all water used, and although this may be impracticable on service, surely discipline will prevent the drinking of doubtful water. No medical observer can help wondering why more men were not inoculated on their way out from home. The inoculation does no harm, its pain is a small matter, and its utility in modifying the severity of the disease is now well established. Take a case in point: two officers in the same regiment, one aged 31 and the other 24, contracted the disease on the same day from the same source. On the usual lines, the younger man should have had the worst attack, and yet, although physically the weaker, he recovered and his senior died. The younger man had been inoculated but the other had not! Some will say that it was the senior's kismet, but let that pass. The campaign is now well begun, and it is not too late even now to furnish supplies of lymph to Medical Officers for use with their units.
The disease now so rife is marked by an absence of abdominal symptoms and may, in its early stage, be overlooked. It is during this period of uncertainty that harm may be done by a solid diet, and it is safer by far for any one suspecting himself to be suffering from influenza or other vague disease to restrict himself for a few days to a milk diet. Then if the febrile condition passes off, no harm is done, but it is to be feared that few will take this amount of trouble over themselves.