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Mafeking, May 13th, 1900.

From time to time intelligence has reached us from native sources that the Boers were still anxious to make a final attempt to capture the town. We have had this story repeated to us so frequently that there were many in our midst who had altogether ceased to pay any attention to it; but that there was some sincerity in the desire to attack us has now been proved to be true, and it would seem that the obstacle which existed, and which prevented an earlier realisation of the enemy's plans, was the absence of any leader sufficiently capable and enterprising to attempt the execution of so hazardous a venture. However, when General Cronje delegated full command to General Snyman, President Kruger sent from Pretoria his youthful but gallant nephew, Commandant Eloff, who had not only frequently expressed his desire to capture the town, but brought with him from Pretoria men whose special knowledge of our fortifications had been gained when serving as troopers in the Protectorate Regiment. It was these men who were destined to conceive and carry to a successful conclusion the work of projecting a body of the Boers within our interior lines. Weeks have elapsed since Commandant Eloff arrived from Pretoria, but he has bided his time, studying carefully our system of defence, our outlying earthworks, and collecting all scraps of information which would convey to him a more intimate knowledge of our position. For a time his plans matured, but, as he conned them well over, he began to make his preparations, recognising that, if he allowed many more days to pass, the relief column from the south would be an additional and important factor in his scheme of operations. Upon May 10th the relief column had reached Vryburg, and Vryburg is only ninety-six miles from Mafeking. Upon May 12th this southern column had advanced to Setlagoli, a point only forty-five miles distant from the town, and the receipt of this intelligence, which was brought to Commandant Eloff by his scouts, revealed to him the urgency and absolute necessity of carrying out his attack upon the town. It was a well-considered scheme, whose eventual success was only nullified by the lack of cohesion and estranged relations which existed between General Snyman and Commandant Eloff. It was a glorious day for Mafeking; it was a day of honourable misfortune for the Boers. Mafeking fell heavily upon Eloff, recapturing the fort which the Boers had surprised and taken in the early morning, and thereby effecting the release of the thirty-two prisoners whom the Boers had caught, and causing known casualties among the Boers of killed, wounded, and taken prisoners, 139.

Commandant Eloff had designed to pierce our western lines under cover of a well-organised feint upon the eastern front of the town. Upon the morning of May 12th and a little before 4 a.m., the bells sounded a general alarm and the bugles summoned a general assembly of available arms to all posts. As in the early days of the siege, I ran from my hotel to Musson's Fort, where, upon similar occasions, I have served as a volunteer. There was no sign of disturbance in the west, but very heavy firing was breaking over the town from the main position of the enemy in the east. Gradually this fire was extended until the flanking positions of the Boers north-east and south-east were also engaged. As we stood to our arms in the fort, it seemed that they were directing an attack upon the brickfields, when, just as it appeared to be the usual innocuous fusilade, streaks of fire were seen leaping to the sky towards the west; there was a lurid glow across the native stadt and dense clouds of smoke were drifting and piling heavily towards the north. There was instant commotion in the fort, everybody exclaiming at once that the stadt was ablaze. At that moment we did not realise that the conflagration which we saw was the deliberate work of the enemy, although there were many who, catching sight of the blaze, concluded that the attack upon our eastern front was the blind to a movement of much greater importance upon the west. Thoroughly aroused and anxious to learn the reasons of the fire, I returned to the hotel. By this time rifle fire had slackened upon the east of the town, but bullets were coming over from the west, the town being under this cross-fire. There were few people about the town, and, save for an occasional group of frightened women, one saw no one. My horse was already saddled, and, riding to the front of the town, I at once recognised that the Boers were in the stadt. Huts were burning in all directions, the separate fires blending into a sheet of flame; dense smoke overhung everything. There was the crackle of the burning huts, and showers of golden sparks tossed themselves into the air. It was still dark and the hour was about five; a lemon-coloured dawn, sheathed in the golden glory of the fire and obscured by the grey-black waves of smoke, was slowly breaking, following closely upon the heels of a flame-coloured night. It was the hour when confusion reigns supreme, when it is impossible to tell tree from man, an outcrop of stone from a recumbent beast. It was the very hour in which to attack, but the Boers secured an additional advantage from the dense and heavy smoke which filled the atmosphere, making the gloom more impenetrable than ever and screening effectually the rapidity of their progress. Heavy firing was proceeding from the direction of the stadt, and there was a confused babel of voices. Natives were running in all directions, and against the flames groups of figures were noticeable in silhouette.

There seemed little doubt that the situation at this moment was grave in the extreme. The Boers in the stadt, dividing rapidly, had advanced upon the British South Africa Police Fort, in which from the beginning of the siege the regimental headquarters of the Protectorate Regiment have been installed. At this moment Colonel Hore and the officers and men attached to the regimental headquarters staff, including four belonging to the British South Africa Police, numbered some twenty-three. Preparing to resist the invasion, Colonel Hore had already manned the earthwork, which from the days of the Warren expedition has been designated as a fort. The distance between the stadt and the fort is about four hundred yards, and around the regimental headquarters lie scattered numerous outbuildings. It is an impossible place to hold with a small number of men, while the outbuildings are so situated as to afford very excellent cover to any troops which may be advancing with the intention of surrounding the main buildings; and it was this manœuvre which Commandant Eloff was endeavouring to carry to a successful issue. Scattering quickly, and under the cover of the different houses, he advanced within a very short distance of the fort. In the dim light, obscured by smoke, and in part concealed by the native refugees, it was impossible to tell whether these men were the van of a Boer force or our own outposts in process of retirement upon Colonel Hore. Under the guidance of Trooper Hayes, a deserter from the Protectorate Regiment, seven hundred Boers had rushed the interior lines of the outposts, making their way along the bed of the Molopo and through Hidden Hollow into the stadt. The movement had been noticed by the outposts, who, unable to do anything against such overwhelming odds, had given the alarm and fallen back upon either flank, delivering a flanking fire when the Boers were discovered. Arriving in the stadt, Commandant Eloff had ignited the huts in various directions, in this manner giving to the main body of the Boers their signal to advance. Before the rush of Commandant Eloff's men the Baralongs separated, reforming behind the enemy, in order to co-operate with our advanced outposts in repelling the progress of the main body. From the moment that this was accomplished the Boers outside our lines and those who were within the stadt were cut off from one another; but, leaving half his force in the stadt, Commandant Eloff, with whom were Captain Von Weiss and Captain de Fremont, prepared to assault the fort, and, advancing rapidly upon it, had surrounded it with but little difficulty. When the little band of men saw the Boers emerging from stadt, fire was at once opened upon them, but, as they claimed to be friends, and as it was understood that they were our own outposts, the fire from the fort ceased until the enemy were within sixty yards of its front face, being at the same time, unknown to the inmates of the fort, in occupation of the buildings upon either flank and in the rear.

This, then, was the situation which had come to pass within three hundred yards of the railway and about seven hundred yards from the town. In the town itself the Town Guard, the Bechuanaland Rifles, and the entire strength of the Railway Division had been ordered at once to man the railway line. The men from the Hospital Redan and the establishment from Early's Corner Fort were detailed to the line in addition to the Bechuanaland Volunteers, while the Railway Division, screening their movements behind the corrugated iron fencing which encloses the railway yards, and perforating rifle holes in the sheeting of the fence, were given charge of the railway yards. Lieutenant Feltham and his troop of C Squadron supported Major Panzera and the artillery at the railway bridge, while, under orders from Colonel Baden-Powell, Lieutenant Montcrieff advanced a section of the Town Guard to occupy a house a little removed from the new line of defences which had been already taken up. The town itself, agog with excitement, had been reinforced by the Cape Police from the brickfields and the British South Africa Police from the kopje, and with these forces opposing them, the Boers at the fort found their further advance cut off, while, unless General Snyman forced the passage of the outposts and brought up his artillery, the entire body would be hemmed in.

In the meantime Commandant Eloff demanded the unconditional surrender of the twenty-three men who were established at the fort, an order which, had Colonel Hore refused, implied that every man with him would be shot. Then, in that moment, it was known that the cheering which had been heard in Hidden Hollow a few moments before was the triumphant chortle of the Boers as they stepped within the inmost lines of our defences. Around the fort there was silence—there was a terrible silence; there was a man who was weighing in his hand and in his heart the lives of twenty-two others, who was considering in a fleeting moment of time the flight of an honourable career which had brought to him a string of six medals, and who saw in one of two steps instant death for his little band and irrevocable and almost irretrievable ruin in the other. The pause was indeed death-like; there was the hallowed uncertainty of a future existence, but there was the moral certainty that no living future would fall to the lot of any of the twenty-three men upon whose ears the cry had fallen of surrender. The position was hopeless. With the Boers behind them, with the Boers flanking them, with the Boers in front of them, with three hundred of the enemy within a circumference of seventy yards, what more could an honourable man and a gallant officer do than accept the responsibility of his situation and save the lives of his men by complying unconditionally with the demand of the enemy? Thus did Colonel Hore surrender. It was impossible to withdraw to the town. Such a movement would have meant retirement over seven hundred yards of open, level ground without a particle of cover and with a force of three hundred of the enemy immediately in the rear; moreover the situation imperatively demanded this action in consequence of events over which he had no control. It was, perhaps, a moment as pathetic and great as any in his career. The surrender was effected at 5.25 a.m., and was not without incident, for with the garrison holding up their hands, their arms laid down, with five Boers within a few yards of the Colonel with their rifles at his breast, there was one man who went to his death. "I'll see you damned, you God forgotten——" said Trooper Maltuschek, and he went to his Maker the next moment. The news of such a catastrophe did not tend to relieve the gravity of the situation. With the Boers in the fort and in occupation of the stadt, it was necessary so to arrange our operations that any junction between the stadt and the fort would be impossible; at the same time we were compelled to prevent those Boers who were in the stadt from cutting their way through to the main body of the enemy. The situation was indeed complex, and throughout the remainder of the day the skirmishing in the stadt and the repulse of the feints of the enemy's main body, delivered in different directions against the outposts, were altogether apart from the siege, which we were conducting within our own investment. From the town very heavy rifle fire was directed upon the fort, which the Boers in that quarter returned with spirit and determination. But the position in the stadt had become acute, since, behind our outposts and our inner chain of forts, which are situated upon its exterior border, were a rollicking, roving band of four hundred Boers, who, for the time being, were indulging in pillage and destruction wherever it was possible.

Gradually, however, the situation changed. The rifle fire from the town had forced the Boers back from the limits of the stadt adjacent to the fort, enabling Inspector Murray and a troop of the Cape Police and Lieutenant Feltham with his troop of C Squadron to fight their way to this same border, affording to the town a definite and established barrier against any possible communication between the enemy in the fort and the Boers in the stadt. Skirmishing thenceforward progressed over the entire area of the stadt. Major Godley, with Captain Marsh and Captain Fitzclarence, and B and D Squadrons, effectively supported by the Baralongs, chevied and rounded up the Boers from point to point, until, shortly after noon, they took up a strong position in a mule kraal and upon the facings of some neighbouring kopjes. To dislodge these men was the work to which Major Godley now directed his attention, and, manœuvring carefully and with discretion, he surrounded the position upon three sides and emplaced a seven-pounder under Lieutenant Daniel, of the British South Africa Police, within two hundred yards of the kopje. The enemy were now compelled to fight or to surrender, and, refusing the request to surrender, they fought pluckily, and with such stubbornness that they kept Major Godley's men some time at bay. But, gradually drawing his circle closer, he poured in a few terrific volleys and charged the position at the point of the bayonet. There was a rapid volley from the Boers, but it was of no avail, and, as the glistening steel was poised for a moment over the walls of the kraal, a flutter of white from the interior betokened that at least this body of the enemy had surrendered. Major Godley then proceeded to shell the kopjes, but the Boers at this point were not proposing to increase by their numbers those of the twenty-five who had laid down their arms in the mule kraal. They scattered and broke into the stadt, fighting from hut to hut, from rock to rock, from snug hollows to the broken points of the many rugged mounds which characterise the configuration of the stadt. These skirmishes continued, and Major Godley contrived to drive the scattered Boers in the direction of Captain Lord Charles Bentinck, who, so conducting his operations, managed to hem the enemy in between the fire of Major Godley and that of his own men. It would have been impossible for the Boers to escape; but dusk was falling, our men were weak and hungry, and we already had a number of prisoners, and, after a sharp rally between the three squadrons, Major Godley instructed Captain Lord Charles Bentinck to withdraw C Squadron and assist in driving out the enemy.

These, then, were the events which were occurring in the stadt, and, if Major Godley had been successful in circumventing the Boer plan and checking any very definite occupation of the stadt, the outposts had also successfully repulsed the indifferent and weak-hearted attempts which General Synman had made to assist his colleague. There had been a definite plan of attack, and, although a portion of it was successful, its main features had failed because their execution had been left to a man who, faint-hearted and cowardly, was altogether unworthy of the command with which he had been entrusted. Upon General Synman must fall the responsibility of Commandant Eloff's capture, inasmuch as he failed to support his share of the operations. The Boer movement upon the town was carried out with remarkable precision and extraordinary dash, but, despite their splendid gallantry and enterprise in penetrating so far within our lines, the fatality which would seem to attend their attacks upon Mafeking rendered their present efforts again unprofitable, causing their assault to recoil upon their own heads. It had been the intention of the Boers to make the fort the key of a position from which they were proposing to shell the town with the guns which would have been brought up by the main body. But General Snyman did not fulfil his obligations to Commandant Eloff, and, as a consequence, when the siege of the fort had been effected the little which they could accomplish had been concluded, and they found themselves compelled to defend their newly-won position from the galling fire and spirited attacks of the townsmen. Their position, only seven hundred yards from the town, would have proved untenable much earlier in the day, had not the Boers secured the officers and staff of the regimental headquarters as their prisoners. We should have shelled them and in all probability caused tremendous carnage; as it was, however, killed and wounded upon either side were not numerous, although there is some ground to believe that the Boers were successful in carrying off a large proportion of their wounded. Upon the following morning, when the returns for the previous day were made up, it was found that 110 had been taken prisoners, ten had been killed, and nineteen had been wounded. Our own casualties were four killed and seven wounded, while there were five natives who had received slight wounds. These are the figures, correct, so far as we can ascertain, of this very remarkable day—a day which is almost without parallel in the history of war, inasmuch as the garrison, who in themselves had sustained a seven months' siege, were yet able once more to turn the tables upon their enemy, who, although penetrating into the heart of the invested town, failed to carry the position.

During the morning of the fight, after accompanying Lieutenant Montcrieff to Major Hepworth's house, where he was engaged in installing a section of the Town Guard, I thought that I would attach myself to Colonel Hore, since his headquarters appeared to be a central position in the engagement. It was only a short ride—a few hundred yards. The bullets whistled over from the stadt, and I scampered rapidly across in order to gain what I thought was protection from this fire. The light was not clear, and the smoke was still drifting across the line of vision. Men were standing about the regimental headquarters, some were scurrying, many were sitting upon the stoep facing the town. It did not seem to me possible that these could be Boers; but, as I galloped on, my horse was struck, and, swerving violently, I found myself pulled up short by a peremptory demand to surrender. They were Boers, or rather they were the enemy, for there were Germans, Italians, and Frenchmen, and a few Republicans.

They ordered me to hold my hands up, they ordered me to give up my revolver and to get off my horse; they asked me a dozen questions at the same time, speaking in Dutch, French, and English. As I sat upon my horse we conducted quite an animated conversation, but the bullets were coming from our men in town rather rapidly, and it seemed to strike the Boers that they had best take cover, advice which I pressed home upon them with much irony. In the meantime I had not dismounted, nor had I given up my revolver, nor were my arms thrust upwards in the air. "Will you hold your damned hands up?" said one, playfully thrusting a rifle into my ribs. "With pleasure, under the circumstances," I replied with alacrity. "Will you hand over that revolver?" said another. "What, and hold my hands up at the same time?" asked I, quibbling to gain a little time in which to think. "Get off your horse," said another, when, as they unstrapped my belt, I rolled to the ground. It was only then that I knew my horse had been shot in the shoulder, and as they dragged me to the shelter of the building, I asked them to shoot him. They refused. "Your men will do that soon enough," said they, and it seemed to me that this was the unkindest cut of all. The poor animal stood there looking at me. When I saw him again his throat had been cut, and there were seven bullet wounds in his body.

The fort had surrendered. Colonel Hore, Captain H. C. Singleton, Veterinary-Lieutenant Dunlop-Smith, with fifteen non-commissioned officers and men of the Protectorate Regiment, Captain Williams and three men of the British South Africa Police, and five native servants were prisoners in the hands of the enemy. Around them were numbers of the enemy talking rapidly in French, German, Italian, and Dutch, while there were also many who spoke English. They were all well armed, carrying some 250 rounds of ammunition with eight days' rations in their haversacks. Some were eating breakfast, many were drinking from bottles which they had looted from the regimental mess; occasionally the group around us was swelled by the numbers of those who, hitherto engaged in looting the quarters of the officers, were now mostly anxious to preserve their skins from the fire from the town and to enjoy an inspection of their plunder. In the short time which the enemy had been in possession of the fort many of them had ransacked the premises, breaking open boxes, cutting open bags, and generally appropriating all the effects which they found. It seemed to me at this moment that the men engaged in this work were Boers, as distinct from the foreign element in their force, and I thought that I caught a current of conversation which was passing in French between two of our captors, and which denounced the unnecessary and almost wanton destruction which was in progress.

From the remarks which were passing round us it seemed that the majority were discussing the precise treatment which should be dealt out to the prisoners. At this moment Trooper Hayes, deserter, swaggered towards the circle; he sported Colonel Hore's sword, and a gold chain and watch dangled from his belt. Hearing the subject of the conversation, he at once suggested that we should either be made to stand upon the verandah, a mark to the fire of our own men, or be given the opportunity of taking up arms and joining in the defence of the fort. "You cannot do that, I'm a war correspondent," said I in English to a Boer who was speaking fluent English to a friend. "You be damned!" said he, pleasantly enough, "we'll put you upon the roof." But at that moment Commandant Eloff approached and ordered our removal to a building in the centre of the fort, which hitherto had been used as the storeroom for the regimental mess. Into this they crowded us, together with three others who, visiting the fort in ignorance of the turn of affairs, had likewise been taken prisoners. We were thus thirty-two, and were confined for the day in a space which was not only short and narrow, but ill-ventilated, dirty, littered with rubbish, and already smelling horribly. Firing from town had now begun in earnest, and the bullets whistled and cracked and spat all round the fort. They struck upon the stones and spattered the roof with splinters of rock and lead, while we could detect from these signs how ably directed and how fierce was the rifle fire which was delivered from the town. When they had safely secured us in the storehouse the space in front of the building was at once occupied by some sixty-seven men, who crouched up against the walls of the house or lay within the lee of the exterior wall of the fort. From time to time these men moved to points whence the fire was hottest, seeming to take their share of the work in pleasing earnestness and with much keenness. Occasionally those who were without and around the door handed in fragments of dried meat and broken biscuits, but the quantity was not great, and there were many of us who had nothing to eat all day, while few Boers or prisoners had anything to drink. Early in the morning bullets from the town had perforated the water tanks, and as a consequence there was no water to drink, nor was there anything with which to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded. As the day wore on many casualties occurred among the Boers in the fort, and the absence of efficient medical aid among his men prompted Commandant Eloff to appeal to us for assistance, whereupon Veterinary-Lieutenant Dunlop-Smith, Farrier-Corporal Nichols and Forbes, the regimental canteen-keeper, offered and rendered valuable services to the wounded Boers, running the gauntlet of our own fire in the cause of a common humanity. Early in the fight the Boers took over the Children's Hospital, which was located some two hundred yards away from the fort, and in which those devoted nurses, Mrs. Buchan and her sister, Miss Crawfurd, remained the entire day, attending indiscriminately to the sick children, to the wounded Boers who were brought there, and bringing upon two occasions tea to the prisoners. During the progress of the fight we constantly caught glimpses of the Red Cross flag escorting one or other of these gallant ladies to points where wounded Boers were lying. Throughout the fight the Boers respected the conventions, repeatedly expressing their appreciation and their gratitude for the services of these ladies. For this courtesy Commandant Eloff was largely responsible, and indeed if there was any abuse of the Red Cross flag the blame of such disrespect cannot be charged against the enemy, since our side, I understand, issued orders that the men of the firing line were not to take notice of any white flags which the Boers displayed. The enemy respected its conventions, treated the prisoners humanely, and behaved throughout a situation almost maddening from the strain which it must have imposed upon them with conspicuous gallantry, coolness, and consideration.

In our prison the situation was more than uncomfortable, and when towards evening they locked the door the atmosphere became fetid, and was seriously aggravated by the condition of a man who was suffering acutely from the agonies of dysentery. In a recess, piled up, were the stores of the regimental mess, comprising principally cases of liquors—whisky, Beaunne, pommade, and lime-juice. In a big open crate were tinned provisions of an indefinite character—fruits, peas, and parsnips, and other canned luxuries. These were at once looted by the troopers, who in this respect and the indifferent manner in which they received the orders of their officers, did not set a particularly praiseworthy example. Within the storehouse, however, the prisoners mingled irrespective of rank, and mutually sympathetic in the face of common misfortune. At first every man seemed to be smoking, but gradually the atmosphere became so bad that it was absolutely necessary to desist, and all pipes, cigars, and cigarettes were ordered to be put out. Commandant Eloff returned constantly to the prisoners, chatting brightly with them and sympathising upon the fortunes of war. He sat within the door upon a case of Burgundy, his legs dangling, his accoutrements jingling, and the rowels of his spurs echoing the tick-tacking of the Mauser rifles. Herein and within our presence the drama of the situation was slowly passing; orderlies came and went, but the Commandant, still tapping with his spurs, continued to issue his instructions and his orders. He seemed to possess the complete mastery of the situation; his buoyant face was impressed with the confidence of youth, reflecting the happiness he felt in so much that his ambition seemed to be about to be realised. But as the situation became more critical, beneath the brightness of his manner he seemed to be feeling the gravity of his position. At times he lost control of himself and complained querulously in Dutch about the non-appearance of his reinforcements; at other moments he regaled the prisoners with scraps of information relating to the situation, and by this means we learnt that Limestone Fort had fallen, and that the trench beneath the railway bridge had surrendered. This news was, of course, not particularly pleasing, and it somewhat added to our dejection when we learnt that, when night arrived, we were to be marched to the south-western laager and thence to be conveyed to Pretoria. I never wished less to see a place than I did the Transvaal capital at this moment. Since Commandant Eloff made himself so agreeable I was moved to chat with him. We discussed the situation in China and the feeling which America was showing for the Boers. To this latter he did not attach much importance, shrugging his shoulders as he said, "Americans and the English——" The pause was eloquent, and I changed the conversation, requesting his courteous permission, should the fortunes of the day go with him, to communicate with the Times. He expressed surprise at my being a correspondent, and said that he thought the correspondents had more sense than to get themselves captured. Then he laughed and asked my name. I told him, upon which he replied, "I have heard of you, but I have not read any of your stuff; you have been writing unpleasant things about the Boers." I retired crestfallen to the darkest corner I could find and reflected upon the character of the punishment which General Snyman would mete out to a man who had been so iniquitous as to write "unpleasantly about the Boers." Night was coming on rapidly now, and we were rather glad, since it removed from us the horror of being with the enemy and watching while they fired upon our own men. It seems to me that the strain which emanates from such a sight is more awful than anything in the world.

As dusk settled down we prisoners, crowding in a small room, could hear echoes of desperate fighting outside. Bullets penetrated the wall, perforated the roofing, crashed through the windows, splintered the door. Ever and anon the fire would die away, breaking out again spasmodically within a few minutes. Through the grating of the windows we could see the enemy keeping an alert look-out; we could see them scurrying and scrambling to defend the points against which the firing was heaviest; we saw the limping figures of the wounded; we heard voices cursing us, threatening the prisoners, and urging Commandant Eloff to handcuff and march us out across the line of fire while the Boers used us as a screen to escape; while upon one occasion the door opened suddenly and three wounded Boers precipitated themselves violently into the room. The inside of the building was pitch dark by now, and lighted only by the fitful flashing of the rifles, which made almost a glow within. Straining eagerly at the windows, we caught glimpses of a number of Boers scrambling over the exterior walls of the fort, in order, we afterwards learnt, to make good their retreat. This movement to the rear surprised us and was followed by a terrible outburst of firing, caused by the order of Commandant Eloff to shoot down the fugitives. Then time dragged heavily, and we were hungry and tired and faint when there seemed signs of a rally among the Boers. After an interval of extraordinarily heavy firing, in which the noise from the snap of bullets and the reports of the rifles were deafening, there was a sudden silence. Commandant Eloff rushed to the door, and, summoning Colonel Hore, stated that if he could induce the town to cease fire the Boers would surrender. It was an altogether unexpected dénouement, and in that moment there was not one amongst us who did not think that each in his turn was about to be summoned to an instant execution. We feared a ruse, and whispered to Colonel Hore, as he advanced to meet the commandant, to be careful. Our momentary hesitation caused Commandant Eloff to surrender himself as a hostage until the cessation of fire could be arranged. The Boers, like ourselves, were unable to grasp the situation, and seeing their commandant in our midst, made an attempt to rescue him, which only helped to increase the confusion of the moment. Commandant Eloff called out, "Surrender, surrender," and endeavoured strenuously to pacify his men. We, upon our part, shouted to the town to cease fire; this was at once done, whereupon sixty-seven Boers laid down their arms, handing them to the prisoners, who piled them up within the storehouse. Those of us who were not engaged in this work seized rifles and bandoliers from the heap and manned the defences of the fort until the prisoners could be delivered into proper custody. The Boers were then marched off and were found accommodation in the Masonic Hall and in the gaol. As I retraced my steps to the town and was passing the stables of the British South Africa Police Fort, the groaning of a wounded man caught my ear. I ran to him to find that lying within the shelter of the stables, with a wound through his thigh, was the man to whom I had surrendered myself in the morning. We smiled as he handed over to me his rifle and bandolier. My revolver he had lost, but lying beside him, stiff and dead, with a bullet wound through his forehead, was, by one of those extraordinary coincidences which do happen, the man who had shot my horse. And thus this day of melodrama passed; dramatic in its beginning, dramatic in its conclusion, with enough bloodshed, firing, and animation to satisfy the cravings of the most dispassionate seeker after excitement. Commandant Eloff, Captain von Wiessmann, Captain Bremont, dined at Headquarters. The town came to greet the prisoners, drink was unearthed, and everybody seemed to be congratulating somebody upon their mutual good fortune. We who had been prisoners and were now free rejoiced in the liberty which was restored to us, yet it was difficult to restrain oneself from feeling compassionately upon the great misfortunes which had attended the extraordinary dash and gallantry of the men who were now our prisoners. They had done their best. They proved to us that they were indeed capable and that we should have kept a sharper look-out, while it was indeed deplorable to think that it was the treachery of their own general, in abandoning them to their fate, that had been mainly instrumental in procuring them their present predicament.

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Category: Angus-Hamilton: The siege of Mafeking
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