We try to Name the New Colony, and describe the Kornespruit Fight.
Our ten thousand readers had been invited to send in their suggestions for a new name for the Free State, and then to express their opinions upon the names thus suggested. The first person to have sent in the name preferred by the greater number of readers was to receive five guineas, and perhaps the honour of naming a new colony of the greater Empire. The names suggested by the Army and the Bloemfontein readers of THE FRIEND were as follows:--
Alexandra, Adamantia, Albertia, Altruria, Atkinsdom, Aurania, Brand State, Brandesia, British South Africa, Britannia, British Colonia, Brandsland, Buckland, Burghers' State, Central Colony, Centuria, Campania, Carnatia, Cameraria, Chamberlainia, Cecilia, Crucipatria, Colonia, Cisvaal, Closer Union, Conquered Territories, Crown State, Centralia, Capricornia, Cilionia, Concordia, Diamond Colony, Diadem State, Empire State, Esicia, Empressland, Frere State, Fonteinland, Fonteinia, Freer State, Frereland, Federalia, Filia State, Federaldom, Grassland, Gariep Sovereignty, Guelfland, Helenia, Immigratia, Imperial Orange Colony, Imperia, Jubileeland, Kandaharia, Khaki State, Khakiland, Kopjesia, Lanceria, Leonida, Marchland, Mimosaland, Malaria, Milneria, Midland, Middle Colony, Mid-South Africa, Modrieta, New Ireland, New Alexandria, New Victoria, North Cape Colony, New Albion, New Era, New Canada, New Colony, New Rietana, Northern Province, New Gualia, New Victoria, New Edward's Land, New Egypt, Orange State, Orange, Orangia, Orangeland, Orange Colony, Orange Sovereignty, Provincia, Pasturia, Pastoria, Queen's Free State, Robertsland, Rietania, Robertesia, Robertsin, Robertina, Robertonia, Robertshire, Roberterre, Roberton, Robertsdale, Robertsia, Robiana, Robermain, Reconquered Land, Regina Land, Stellaland, Stellarland, Sylvania, Suzerainia, Steyn's Folly, Salisbury, Tableland, Trans Garep, Transgarepian Territory, Trans Orange, Uitland, Union Era, United British Empire, Union State, U.S. South Africa, Victory, Victorialand, Victoria Robertsia, Victoriafontein, Veldtland, Veldt.
The voting closed on April 7th, and on April 9th we announced that the name Brandesia, honouring a late President of the State, an upright man and a friend of Great Britain, had secured by far the greater number of votes. Taking the whole vote, and separating from it the votes for those names which were formed upon or out of the name of Roberts, it was seen that the desire of the Army to honour its Chief was stronger than the expression of the Free Staters in remembrance of President Brand. But "Brandesia" secured the most votes, and Mr. P. Johnson, whom we were not able to discover afterwards, won the five guineas. Private W. Cooper, H Company, 5th Regiment of Mounted Infantry, won the two-guinea prize for guessing nearest to the five names that secured the greatest number of votes. Now that the Government has named the country "The Orange River Colony" we see that whoever sent in the name "Orange Colony" really deserved the most of whatever credit goes with guessing blindly.
Coming upon Mr. James' clear and accurate account of the Corne Drift (Kornespruit or Sanna's Post) ambuscade reminds me of how the heroic survivors of that red-hot fight drifted back to town, drifted into the hotel dining-rooms--actually drifted into my bedroom in the case of Colonel Pilcher--and I missed the chance at the time of looking at them with eyes that saw the hell they had been through; without the understanding by which I could measure their pluck.
There had been a fight at the Waterworks, and we had been beaten, and had suffered a shocking loss of men and guns--that was all that most of us knew on the Sunday that followed the fighting on Saturday, March 31st. Afterwards I saw a score of the dare-devils who had squeezed out between the fingers of Death's clenched hands, and I made the fight my most serious study in the war--but I missed the chance of seeing it for myself, and then I lost the glow of knowing what I looked at when I saw the survivors come in.
Mr. Gwynne went out to the scene and caught a glimpse of the end of it. As there are few living correspondents better equipped to judge events in war, and as it is the pride of more than one general to obtain his views and accounts of the actions he witnesses, I will quote a bit of his editorial of April 5th, in which he touches upon the Sanna's Post affair: "Perhaps never in the history of British campaigns have our soldiers shown more splendid courage, more dogged resistance and greater coolness. General Broadwood has covered himself with glory by the masterly way in which he extricated his little force from a veritable death-trap. And who is there who can pay adequate tribute to the behaviour of our gunners, and the gallant band of British soldiers who held off a greatly superior force under most difficult and trying circumstances?"
It was while Mr. Gwynne was at the scene that a Boer suddenly appeared and advanced toward him unarmed like himself; indeed, Mr. Gwynne believes the man was a war correspondent. The two talked of the fight: "Your people showed wonderful courage," said the Boer; "we thought we had bagged your whole force. I am bound to say that had the Boers been in such a tight place they would have surrendered."
BOER PLANS AND VIEWS.
"The following is a literal translation of a genuine Boer document recently discovered. It has been forwarded to us for publication by an officer of the Intelligence Department, to whom we tender our best thanks."
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRESENT WAR.
BY CAPTAIN I. D.
In order to form an opinion on the manner of operations of both hostile parties, at present or in the future, it is necessary, as far as possible, to endeavour to obtain an understanding of the different properties and conditions of both belligerents.
From a physical point of view, the Boer stands far above his enemy in respect to bodily strength and perseverance.
He inherits from his Teuton ancestor a quiet and patient nature, coupled with a strong frame, which makes him less liable to be affected by troubles and loss of spirit under the continued strains which are inseparable from the campaign, while the Huguenot blood which flows through his veins continually gives him fresh power and energy, which is much in his favour in a final attack; further he is filled with an unlimited faith in his God and the assurance of the righteousness of his cause, which fills him with superhuman strength and lion-like courage.
Open-air life has given him a clearness of sight, and perseverance which is probably without equal in the world's history, while his monotonous life is the cause that he, though a lower member of the force, can act independently. By lack of discipline and organisation, his movements are sometimes clumsy, which, however, tends to his benefit in an uneven field, and taken altogether are little to his detriment, as he is not bound by special rules respecting formation or otherwise. In contrast, the British troops are (notwithstanding there may be many brave soldiers found among them) on account of their organisation and equipment, &c., little adapted to keep up their heads against the mental and bodily strain of a continued and wearisome war.
They are mostly obtained out of cities and towns, which leaves much to be wished for in their clearness of sight, steadiness of arm, and power of self-reliance, while the discipline, organisation, rules and directions to which they must hold weaken them more, so that they are merely tools, standing under their officers' commands, of a fighting machine. The officers in many instances are young and without experience, and mentally and bodily unfit to fulfil their serious and responsible duties, chosen to be officers not for their ability, or natural talent, but because they are sons of the noble, or of the respected of the land.
It is, however, not intended here, by any means, to throw the blame on the valour of the officers or men.
When the nature of both armies is considered, one comes to the conclusion that the British troops all gain an advantage in an attack on equal ground, if a strong force is used in it, while the Boers will obtain one in case there are fewer attackers brought into the field. The English will benefit by defending, especially if time be given them to build defences, and also where towns and camps must be held.
Over hilly and uneven ground the Boer has by far the best chance to attack, while in an eventual defence he has everything in his favour, and is practically not to be got at.
The British authorities have apparently too much trust in the result of their Artillery. It is plain that they cherish the idea that it will have a demoralising effect on the Boers, and therein they have fortunately been mistaken. They did not calculate that the effect could not be so great on scattered troops, and that the result cannot be equal to the expenditure and difficulties of transport. On the other hand, the Artillery of the Boers necessarily has a powerful result on troops which, like the British, are formed in close order, notwithstanding, according to the ideas of the writer of this, enough use is not made of "black gunpowder" with a view to find the distances by trial shots with that powder, to be afterwards followed by burstable shells with "time fuse" to produce great destruction.
As the ground is mostly soft, shells which burst on impact, so-called percussion shells, cannot mostly be used with favourable results, except under special circumstances. To bombard camps or towns "cordite" or "melanite" should not be used, as both explosives contain no inflammable properties, which are so necessary to set houses, waggons, forage, &c., on fire.
The greatest care should be taken that the mounted Boers should not be exposed in the open plain to the attacks of the enemy's cavalry, unless they are protected by quick-firing Maxim-Vickers guns and shells, seeing that the British Cavalry have a great advantage at short distances in the use of lances, swords and pistols.
It is highly desirable that the Boer commandos should not be accompanied by many commissariat waggons laden with provision, tents and other things, as they tend to hinder them, and prevent their executing quick movements.
In calculating the chances in this war, it has always been considered that the Boers have their greatest advantage in being independent of commissariat transport, and although provision must be made to be in touch with certain points with the necessary provision for the commissariat, these, notwithstanding, must be viewed as items wherewith, considering the great interests at stake, too much care is not needed to be taken.
On this ground the British troops are far ahead of the Boers, on account of their proper organisation, and it is indeed to be regretted that a like department has not been established, especially as the Boers would be specially fitted for it, and have up to this time made so little use of their talent in this direction. Herein a serious instance is brought as an example, namely, the fact that the English troops could retreat in order from Dundee, without its being directly known. Also the disaster at Elandslaagte must be ascribed thereto, where small isolated troops, consisting of a mixed commando, were surrounded in positions not advantageous to their mode of warfare, and, even had our troops at that place been in a defensible position, they were "not in touch" with other troops, who could hasten to their assistance.
As to plans which are reckoned to be the best to obtain the victory for the Republican arms, it is an axiom that the deeper one penetrates into an enemy's country, the more one's power is weakened by the necessity for keeping up communication, but there is an exception to every rule, and this war at the present time makes the exception. The Boer forces strengthened their resources, instead of weakening them, by their invasion of Natal and of the Cape Colony. A great proportion of the inhabitants of these Colonies are friendly, and they will thus always keep communication open, even when they take no active part in warlike operations. Taking this as granted, the conclusion is arrived at that the whole design of the Republican commanders should be to push their troops as far as possible, until they reach a war basis or boundary line.
Our Governments employ too many troops for Bechuanaland and Rhodesia without obtaining benefit therefrom. A picked commando of 1,000 men would possibly be sufficient to keep control over Mashonaland, while 1,500 at Mafeking would suffice to cut off the Bulawayo division, and in that case the troops which are now occupied about Mafeking and Kimberley could be better employed and with likelihood of good results, by being pushed South. If a sufficient number of men are left behind to dispute an eventual sortie from Kimberley and Mafeking, there is little benefit obtainable in the investment of towns which probably can hold out six or eight months. As long as they are well watched they cannot do much harm.
Much more could have been gained in Natal immediately after the Imperial troops were surrounded at Ladysmith, by sending a strong commando at once to the "Town Hill" at Pietermaritzburg, and if that commando was not strong enough to offer resistance, on retirement it could have broken up the railway, and thereby the siege of Ladysmith, which is now being prosecuted, would have been a shorter and less troublesome task.
It appears that the Boer forces have not directed their attention to making a series of attacks in the night. For such a purpose their troops are specially adapted, and the result on the enemy would certainly be terrible, as the loss of sleep would weary them bodily as well as mentally. A certain number of men could be picked to trouble the enemy every night; for instance, 500 men at Ladysmith, 100 at Mafeking, and 250 at Kimberley, without doing that injury to the Republican troops which would tend to weaken the command of British officers, and make the men grumble and dissatisfied, even if the number in killed and wounded was not especially great. There should also be, when British troops are marching, a division of picked sharpshooters to be used in attacking them on the flanks, without much damage to the Republican troops, while doing much damage to the enemy. The killing of a mule or ox belonging to a waggon or gun necessitates delay and inconvenience.
Under ordinary circumstances, this war will necessarily continue some time, possibly even over a year, and seeing that there is such a number of burghers commandeered, it would be well if the authorities could arrange a plan to relieve them, say, for instance, ten in each month per hundred. Some men of every commando will be desirous to visit their relations in case of sickness, or to rest, or to attend to private matters. When not relieved it may be that the men may become listless and dissatisfied; while the force will not be appreciably weakened by the absence of 10 per cent., such a rule would be pleasing to the burghers, and in every sense satisfying to their officers.
BY LIONEL JAMES.
II. Corne Drift.
The outline of the history of Colonel Broadwood's column appears to be as follows: When Colonel Pilcher made his dash for Ladybrand, the place was found teeming with the enemy. In fact, when the Landdrost was carried away, fire was opened on the abducting cortège from the very garden gates of professed loyalists. The whole country-side was so disturbed that it was time for the little column holding Thaba 'Nchu to fall back upon Bloemfontein. Information was despatched to headquarters and reinforcements urgently asked for. When commenced, the march from Thaba 'Nchu became virtually a pursuit. The enemy were reported on the flanks and rear of the column all through Friday, March 30.
On Friday night the column arrived at a camp this side of the Modder, about two miles distant from the Waterworks. The actual rear-guard was not into camp until after 2 a.m. on Saturday. So anxious was Colonel Broadwood for the safety of his column that he determined upon a start before daylight. At 6 a.m. the enemy opened on the camp with rifle fire. The order was immediately given for the force to stand to their horses, and in a quarter of an hour the head of the transport column was leading out of camp. At 7 a.m. "U" and "Q" batteries R.H.A. moved off in battery column, following the transport. Roberts' Horse, in fours, moved parallel to them on their left.
About three miles from the camp the road crosses a drift known locally as Corne Drift. The approach to this drift is peculiar. The actual crossing practically lies in the apex of a triangle, the two sides of which are formed by a railway embankment under construction and a bush-grown donga. Opposite the drift is a farm-house and some rising ground commanding, not only the drift itself, but all the approaches. This drift the enemy had occupied before daylight, and here they lay in ambush for the advancing column.
Their dispositions were most perfect, as the head of the column marched right into their arms, and they were able to take possession of the transport without a warning shot being fired. When "U" Battery, which was leading, arrived at the drift it found that it was surrounded by dismounted enemy. The spokesman called upon the gunners to surrender. They told the drivers that they might dismount and keep their coats. The surprise was absolute. Major Taylor commanding the battery managed to warn "Q" Battery. Then the ruse was "up"--as soon as the enemy saw this they opened fire from all their points of vantage. From the rising ground, from the cover of the donga and from between the wheels of the captured guns and waggons. As soon as the firing opened, the teams of the captured battery stampeded and added to the general chaos of the moment.
Under a blaze of fire, four guns of "Q" Battery and one of "U" trotted clear, and came into action about a thousand yards away at the tin buildings which are destined to be the Corne Drift Railway Station. A few seconds later Roberts' Horse rallied upon them. But here the nucleus of the front was formed which saved the whole force from disaster.
The carnage was ghastly for a few minutes, but as the gunners stood devotedly to their pieces and Roberts' dismounted troopers commenced to keep down the fire, Broadwood was able to form dispositions by which to extricate the force. This was done--the British cavalry were sent to clear the flank of the donga and, covering each other, the mounted infantry corps were able to withdraw after the remnants of the batteries had fallen back.
The action of the gunners was magnificent. In the face of a bitter short-range fire they stood to their pieces until, of the five gun groups, there were only ten men and one officer left unscathed to serve the guns. Then with dilapidated teams and manual haulage they dragged the battery out of action, only to come into action again when Broadwood strained every nerve to regain the baggage and the guns. And even while this action was taking place the relieving division was only four miles distant. It was a sad yet brilliant affair. Sad that the column ever fell into the ambush--brilliant in the manner in which the force was extricated.
BY MARK THYME.
The man what writes a poem
In praise of our Tommy A.'s
Ain't got no call to study
Their manners, nor talk, nor ways,
'E's only to fake up something
What's Barracky--more or less--
And civilians don't know as it's rubbish and so
The Ballad's a big success.
Don't 'ave no truck with the drill-book--
You might get a bit at fault,
It's best to confine your attentions
To simple commands, like "'Alt";
For a 'aporth of 'Industanie
And a pennorth of Sergeants' mess
(Though the meanin's all wrong) is enough for a song
To make it a big success.
If you wants to say anything coarse-like,
Well, say it out plain, don't 'int,
And fill each line with expletives
As don't look pretty in print--
If you sneers at the "Widow of Windsor,"
And laughs at 'er soldiers' dress,
And connects the word "'Ell" with an orficer, well,
Your ballad's a big success.
Take the slang of the camp (What's easy to vamp)
And some delicate soldier wheeze, Call the Guard-room the "Clink," And describe any drink
As a "Fall in" or "Stand at ease"; Then you mix the 'ole lot And you serve it up 'ot;
From ingredients sich as these Form that singular salad A Barrack-room Ballad
THEY WANT MORE OF TOMMY.
BY W. T. R.
Being among a group of Australians the other day, I noticed them watching the Guards drill, and, as they seemed to be interested, I thought it a good opportunity of getting their ideas of Thomas Atkins. With the object in view, I engaged one of them in conversation. I ventured a remark on the drill.
"Oh, yes, they drill all right," said the Australian, "but you see they get a bit too much of it, I think; I mean as regards the goose-step business. You know, we Australians," he went on, "never have too much of that. It may give a man more steadiness in marching on parade, but we don't have many show parades during the year, Queen's Birthday being the most important."
"How often do you drill there?" I asked.
"Well, you see--of course I'm speaking of New South Wales. There we have about twenty-five half day drills during the year. These take place on a Saturday afternoon. Out of these they take sixteen and give us an encampment at Easter. It is at this encampment that we receive the most good as regards learning our work. I was almost forgetting the annual Musketry Course, when we get through our firing. Of course, we have plenty of firing practice on our other parades as well."
"How did you chaps come to be sent to Africa?" I asked.
"Oh! we all volunteered," he replied, "and a great job they had of it in selecting the men to come. So many wanted to come and so many were disappointed, and I can tell you that if they would only send them, there's thousands who would come. Why, to give you an idea of it, do you know there are men in the ranks who are worth thousands, and some of the highest families are represented in the war in the ranks?"
"How do you get on with the soldiers from home?"
"Oh, we get on first-class; but what we would like is more opportunity of mixing with them and becoming better acquainted. You see, there's so much work to be done that we don't get a chance to mix together. Down at the Modder where we did get a bit chummy, Tommy would have done anything for us. He would have given us the shirt off his back if we'd wanted it, and we can't help liking him, as the song used to say, because you can't beat him down. No matter in what circumstances you find him he's always in a good humour and ready for what's coming next. You can see him in rags that used to be in khaki, and you can see him just after he has received his kit-bag and he's always the same. He seems to have plenty of money and spends it just as readily as if he had the Bank of England behind him. But I think if you want to see him in one of his happiest moments, you want to look at him when he is carrying a bag of bread and other treasures out of Bloemfontein."
"Then you Australians rather like Tommy?" I said.
"Like him? Of course we do. We've fought alongside of him, and what we want is more of him--that's all. You know, we want to show the world that we are all one, no matter what part of the world we Britons come from, and we're going to do it, too."
I was very pleased with my new-found friend and his outspoken way, and glad to have got rid of an idea that the Colonials didn't take well to Tommy.