Critical position of Great Britain--Her prestige in
danger--Crass ignorance of military affairs--German
system--Responsibility of Statesmen and
Generals--Government unprepared--Necessity of
reorganisation--Former national crises--Measures taken
for defence--Change of Generals--Lord Roberts' military
career--Lord Kitchener in the Sudan--Embarkation for
South Africa--General Hector Macdonald--Offers of the
Colonies--Australian and Canadian contingents--Mr.
Seddon's loyal speech--Volunteers from Asiatic
[Illustration: S. Begg.] [By permission of the "Illustrated London
News," from the large photogravure published by them.
HER MAJESTY RECEIVING NEWS FROM THE SEAT OF WAR.]
[Sidenote: Critical position of Great Britain.]
[Sidenote: DEC. 1899.] The Empire in Peril.]
Thus three times within the space of a single week had the British
columns marched forth to defeat. The Army Corps, the much-trusted
Generals, had gone out to South Africa, and yet there was nothing of
that irresistible tide of success which, it was fondly hoped, would
sweep away the Boer oligarchy. The results of the week's battles were
2,600 British soldiers dead, wounded, or in the enemy's hands, and
complete checkmate in every field of the war. Kimberley, Mafeking, and
Ladysmith had not been relieved; far from it, the forces which were to
have achieved this eagerly desired result were themselves, it seemed,
in grave danger. Lord Methuen might at any time be cut off from his
base; General Gatacre might be driven back to the sea; even General
Buller, with 20,000 British troops on the line of the Tugela, might
be in peril, if only the Boers were equal to their opportunities. And
dangers even more terrible than these loomed upon the stormy horizon.
How if the Cape burst into rebellion and the Dutch there threw in their
lot with their victorious kinsmen? How if our enemies of the Continent
seized upon the occasion to overthrow the Empire? Nowhere had Britain
a friend. France, Russia, and Germany were equally outspoken in bitter
and contemptuous criticism. Not the Governments, but the nations of the
Continent hated and envied us in equal degree, and if only the signal
for attack had been given, would have rushed upon us with malignant
ardour. But the Governments, though they bore us no goodwill, waited
and hesitated. Much depended upon Russia, and the Czar, the young
Nicholas, played a part at this juncture which the British nation will
remember with gratitude. He set his face firmly against any treacherous
attack. He restrained his war party and declined to profit by our
troubles. He may have felt that war with England would have brought
our one friend, Japan, into the field with consequences not altogether
pleasant for Russia, but none the less we may honour him for his
[Sidenote: Her prestige in danger.]
And the most grievous feature of our defeats was that they were
inflicted by a people numerically weak, without an army in the true
sense;--by a number of peasants and farmers, upon the very flower of
the British Army. The strongest, the best appointed, and, it was hoped,
the best led force that had ever left our shores, equipped with all
the contrivances of modern war, with field telegraphs, war balloons,
howitzers, naval guns, and lyddite shells, had failed. It had failed
completely--almost beyond repair--and it could place to its credit not
a single great success. One or two battles in which we had gained the
day, with heavy loss and without inflicting proportionate damage upon
the enemy, had, indeed, been paraded as glorious victories, but their
very insignificance, in relation to the task to be accomplished, was a
sad commentary upon the depths to which we had fallen. It was not that
the British soldier had failed in courage. That "last validity of noble
veins" he still retained. Upon every field of the war his demeanour
had compelled the enemy's admiration. Our military annals, splendid
though these are, contain nothing finer than the advance of the Dublin
Fusiliers at Colenso, of the Guards at Belmont, and of the Marines at
Enslin, or the conduct of General Pole-Carew and his devoted band in
the anxious hours when the Modder River fight swayed to and fro and
the balance inclined against us. And yet, though hundreds of brave
men now lay festering in the sun or in their shallow graves on the
far-off veldt, and hundreds more filled those homes of silent agony,
the hospitals, nothing had been accomplished. The fame of the Army,
the prestige of the nation, the very existence of the Empire, were in
F. J. Waugh.]
WHY THE BOERS WERE ABLE TO HOLD US IN CHECK.
It is clear now that the earlier victories of the Boers were largely
due to their prudent habit of keeping out of sight.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 1899.]
Thus in a few short days had the British people been brought face
to face with the tragic realities of war. The scales fell from all
eyes; it was clear to every man that this was a struggle for life or
death, a struggle in which defeat must mean the loss of South Africa
and the shaking of the British Empire to its very foundations, and
in which victory at the best could never regain for us what we had
forfeited--our reputation before the world. Not yet did the nation
know, or it might well have shivered, the hesitation, the doubts, the
ignorance of the true meaning of events which marked its leading
men. Not yet did it fully comprehend the grave defects which had
characterised its army in the field. It had illusions still of which
two more months of unsuccess were at last to deprive it; it had yet
to learn how all precautions had been neglected; and blind animal
courage substituted for skilful leading. [Illustration: TWO OF THE GUNS
CAPTURED FROM DR. JAMESON, IN A FORT AT PRETORIA.
The photograph is almost the only one which has been taken within any
of these forts. Observe the loop-holed wall beyond the sheds.]
[Photo by Cribb.
A 6-IN. HOWITZER BATTERY.
The first two guns are shown elevated to an angle of thirty-five
degrees, which is the position in which they are usually fired.]
[Sidenote: Crass ignorance of military affairs.]
[Sidenote: DEC. 1899.] "Nobody to Blame."]
Terrible, indeed, is the price which a nation must pay for neglecting
the study of war. "Above all for empire and greatness," said our own
immortal Bacon, "it importeth most that a nation do profess arms as
their principal honour, study, and occupation." But the people had
never troubled about such things; it was taught and it knew nothing of
the conduct of war; its press gave space to the trivialities of sport,
none to the serious business of arms; its Parliament emptied as if by
magic when naval and military affairs were discussed; its Government
and Cabinet were composed without exception of men ignorant of war.
For generations attention had been riveted upon the question which of
two parties was to govern, regardless of the consideration that there
can be no country to rule unless there is an armed force prepared
to overcome the enemies who may assail that country's existence. We
had told one another that we were a great, a strong, an invincible
people. We had come to believe--or the less instructed of us had come
to believe--that an Englishman was far more than a match for any
foreigner. We had been ruled by "majorities of politicians, without the
knowledge requisite in the governors of a great empire, believing that
every interest should be subordinated to their preservation of place."
In the words of Lord Charles Beresford, in twenty years there had been
but three men in the House of Commons who understood the problem of
national defence. One of these--perhaps the ablest--Sir Charles Dilke,
had met the common fate of men who strive to warn their country; he
had been quietly brushed aside by the politicians as a mere alarmist.
Yet he had steadily predicted the breakdown of the Army in its first
serious war, and his prophecy had come true.
[Photo by Russell.
THE MOST HONOURABLE THE MARQUIS OF SALISBURY, K.G.,
Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.]
[Sidenote: German system.]
And now when defeat came no one was responsible. "In Germany," said
a German commentator, "had the Army failed as the British Army
has failed, had the War Minister organised defeat and been caught
unprepared, that minister would have been execrated as a traitor and
imprisoned in a fortress for the rest of his natural life." But, then,
though we had copied much from Germany--all the trifles which do not
go to make success--we had neglected the real virtues of the German
system--its magnificent education, its careful study of war, its
unceasing preparation, its constant manœuvres, its lofty sense of duty
to the nation, and its organisation by which there is a man to hang if
things go wrong.
[Sidenote: Responsibility of Statesmen and Generals.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 1899.]
The mistakes of generals in the field kill hundreds, the ignorance of
ministers in the Cabinet slays thousands. And for the terrible roll
of wasted lives, for the long-drawn agony of the heroic defenders of
Ladysmith and Mafeking, it is needful that someone should be hereafter
called to account. Our soldiers, we have seen, did their duty. They
faced death and mutilation because they had learnt in a noble school
to offer up the last and greatest sacrifice--life itself--sooner than
face dishonour. To men who bear themselves thus, both statesmen and the
nation owe a duty in their turn. They must provide the best weapons,
the best training, the best leadership, the best equipment, that the
sacrifice may not be made in vain; they are responsible in the sight
of posterity and of God, if they needlessly waste human lives or bring
sorrow and bereavement upon thousands of homes; they are not asked,
like our devoted reservists, private soldiers, and officers, to face
the scorching heat and the devouring thirst of the march, the chills
of the sodden bivouac, the blood and torture of battle; they have
not to confront death;--the one has only to be ready to resign place
and power, and the other to watch carefully and intelligently and to
be prepared to make pecuniary sacrifice. Yet how many statesmen have
resigned for the Army's sake, and how many of the public have troubled
about or interested themselves in the Army's efficiency?
[Illustration: THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR.
PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE WAR OFFICE.
[Copyright 1900 by Underwood & Underwood.
THE MARQUIS OF LANSDOWNE, K.G.
Secretary of State for War since 1895; was Under-Secretary for War,
1872-74, and Under-Secretary for India, 1880; Governor-General of
Canada, 1883-88; Viceroy of India, 1888-93.]
[Illustration: UNDER-SECRETARY FOR WAR.
[Copyright 1900 by Underwood & Underwood.
MR. GEORGE WYNDHAM, M.P.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War since October, 1898.
Born in London, 1863; educated at Eton and Sandhurst; entered the
Coldstream Guards in 1883, and served in the Suakin campaign and at
Cyprus, 1885; Private Secretary to the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour,
1887-92; Captain of Cheshire Yeomanry.]
[Sidenote: The Government unprepared.]
[Sidenote: DEC. 1899.] Shortcomings of the War Office.]
It was urged, indeed, as an excuse for our failures that other armies
had made deplorable mistakes--notably the German in the war of 1870.
This no one will deny. But the point is that in spite of these mistakes
the German Army won every battle, and that the German government and
nation had taken every step which science and the sense of duty could
suggest to prepare for war. Could as much be said of Britain? Those
who have followed the story will have marked the lack of transport
and of cavalry, the insufficient proportion of artillery, the want of
maps, and the delay in the preparation of troop-ships. They will have
noted that the reports of the Intelligence Department as to the enemy's
strength were put on one side and neglected. They will know that the
strenuous warnings of Sir Alfred Milner and of the Natal Government as
to the imminence of war were calmly disregarded. They will remember
that defects in the Army, pointed out year after year by critics in the
House of Commons and in the press, had remained unremedied. They should
reflect that the Army and its leaders had been denied the inestimably
valuable exercise of annual manœuvres until the last year before
the war. Even then the manœuvres were not of a nature to yield real
instruction. And the mere fact that in the gravest emergency ministers
turned to Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, showed that they had not
chosen, as they ought to have chosen, the generals who were believed by
all to be best qualified for a difficult campaign.
[Illustration: THE HEADS OF THE WAR OFFICE.
[Copyright 1900 by Underwood & Underwood.
FIELD-MARSHAL VISCOUNT WOLSELEY, K.P.
Commander-in-Chief of the Army since 1895. (See note to portrait on
[Copyright 1900 by Underwood & Underwood.
GENERAL SIR EVELYN WOOD, V.C.
Adjutant-General to the Forces since 1897. Born 1838; educated at
Marlborough; Barrister, 1874; entered the Navy, 1852; served with the
Naval Brigade in the Crimea, 1854-5; joined the 13th Light Dragoons,
1858; served with 17th Lancers in India, 1858; in the Ashanti, Kaffir,
Zulu, and Transvaal Wars, 1879-81; commanded at Chatham, 1882-3; raised
the Egyptian Army, 1883; and served with the Nile Expedition in 1894-5,
since which time he has held the command of the Eastern (1886-8) and
Aldershot (1889-93) Divisions.]
[Sidenote: Necessity of reorganisation.]
Nor are these small things, nor has their importance passed away. Far
greater conflicts may lie before us in the near future, and we may have
to encounter, not undisciplined peasants, but armies amply supplied
with cavalry and artillery--armies which can attack as well as defend.
The future safety of the Empire depends upon our so organising and
constituting our military system that we shall never again be taken by
surprise, and never again be found inferior in the field. Our Army,
our generals, had become the slaves of routine, as a wise foreign
officer wrote. They had failed to understand what the Boers had fully
grasped--the need of high intelligence as well as brute courage in the
fighting man, and the immense potentialities of modern weapons. It is
not the least unsatisfactory reflection that the fighting men whom we
recruited at the eleventh hour for war from the ranks of our Colonists,
proved themselves as good as our professional soldiers. That this
should be so illustrated the inefficiency of our military training. For
in what other profession could thousands of tyros hope to vie with the
[Copyright 1900 by Underwood & Underwood.
SIR R. H. KNOX, K.C.B.
Permanent Under-Secretary of State since 1897. Born 1836; entered the
War Office, 1856; Accountant-General to War Office, 1882-97.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 1899.]
"War is an affair of the immortal soul," it has been said. It is the
final test of the greatness of a nation. The Power which cannot hold
its own upon the field of battle has deserved humiliation, and has been
"weighed in the balance and found wanting." It is character which gives
victory in war; and the whole purpose of life is to create and refine
character. Character is required in the soldier to carry him through
the dangers of the battlefield and the hardships of campaigning; in
the nation to enable it to face temporary reverses with courage, and
to accept the loss of those near and dear with resignation; and in the
statesman to enable him to resist injudicious clamour for economy, and
to make sure that the preparations for war are adequate and complete.
The statesman must foresee and lead; if he does neither he is unfit for
his post of trust.
[Illustration: BIG GUNS IN PROCESS OF MANUFACTURE.
This is one of the workshops at Sir W. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co.'s
celebrated factory at Elswick. A large naval gun may be seen just
beneath the travelling crane.]
[Illustration: GIANT LATHES AT THE ELSWICK WORKS.
And some of the big guns which have just been turned upon them.]
[Sidenote: Former national crises.]
[Sidenote: DEC. 16, 1899.] Meeting of the Committee for National
Not since the far-off times of Trafalgar had the national danger been
so great. In the Crimea it could truthfully be said that the British
Army was uniformly successful, and that the horrors of the winter of
1854-5 were due simply and solely to a defective commissariat. Besides,
there we had been outnumbered by the enemy; here we outnumbered them.
Then we had had the alliance of France, Sardinia, and Turkey, the
friendship of Austria, and the not unfriendly neutrality of Prussia;
now we were assailed and vilified by the people of every great nation
in Europe. The Indian Mutiny as a crisis could not be compared with
this, for in India, when once reinforcements had arrived, there was a
continuous series of successes. Not since the time of the American War
of Independence, more than a hundred years back, had we encountered
such frequent reverses. Yet though it was accustomed to easy victories,
the English race did not quail under the blow. No voice outside the
ranks of the least of the Little Englanders was raised for a surrender.
With one accord men called upon the Government to take the fullest
measures to restore the fortunes of the war. Everything demanded would
be granted; nay, the press, with a wise foresight which deserves the
gratitude of the country, urged the Ministry to far greater armaments
than those which the Cabinet had in mind. It would have been well in
this matter if the press had had its way.
[Illustration: WARRIOR-FARMERS: COMMANDANT DE WET AND HIS SONS.]
[Photo by N. P. Edwards.
A PROSPEROUS BOER CATTLE-FARM.]
[Sidenote: Measures taken for defence.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 16, 1899.]
To take steps to meet the danger, the Committee of the Cabinet for
National Defence--a committee which had the radical defect of being
composed wholly of civilian ministers without military knowledge or
experience--was held on December 16, the morning after the final news
of General Buller's defeat at Colenso reached London. The members of
the committee were Lord Salisbury, Mr. Balfour, the Duke of Devonshire,
Lord Lansdowne, and Mr. Goschen. Their deliberations were secret; the
measures upon which they finally decided were in no way heroic--were,
indeed, hardly adequate to the perils of the situation. It had been
expected that they would call for 40,000 or 50,000 volunteers, place
under arms the Volunteers and Militia, and mobilise a good part of
the fleet, at the same time despatching to South Africa the largest
possible number of trained soldiers, and making the utmost use of the
zeal of the colonies.
[Illustration: A DISTINGUISHED GROUP.
This group, photographed on board the Carisbrooke Castle, which
arrived at Capetown, November 14, 1899, includes several men who have
distinguished themselves in the war. The foremost officer is Capt.
Manns; seated immediately behind him is the Earl of Dundonald, the
inventor of the "Dundonald Galloping Carriage" for light guns, and
grandson of Lord Cochrane, the naval hero of the beginning of the
century. Next to him, the end figure in the seated row, is Col. Martin,
who commanded the 21st Lancers in their celebrated charge at Omdurman.
Next to the Earl of Dundonald on the other side is Capt. French,
employed at the base drilling the South African Light Horse, and
sitting close beside, and a little behind him, is the Duke of Hamilton,
whilst the Hon. G. Saumarez sits with his face partly hidden behind the
chain. In the standing row the officer on the extreme right is Major
Hoare; next to him is Carlisle Carr, who swam the Tugela under fire
and brought over the ferry-boat. The gentleman standing with his hands
in his pockets is A. P. Bailey, of Johannesburg, who gave a complete
ambulance to the Government.]
[Sidenote: DEC. 16-23, 1899.] Lord Roberts to Command.]
Actually the steps taken were these: All the Reserves not yet embodied
were called out. The Fifth Division was already on its way out, and a
Sixth Division had been offered General Buller upon November 30. Now it
was definitely announced that both a Sixth and a Seventh Division would
as soon as possible proceed to the front, and be followed, probably,
by an Eighth Division. Strong reinforcements of artillery, including
five batteries of horse artillery, nine of field artillery, and three
batteries of the invaluable 5-inch howitzers were to be despatched as
fast as they could be mobilised, thus almost doubling our strength of
guns in the field, and adding 102 more field-guns to the 114 pieces
sent out with the Army Corps. Besides these, it was intimated that
more siege guns, including huge 6-inch howitzers and heavy weapons
of position, would be provided when they could be supplied by the
manufacturers and the Royal Arsenal. The Commander-in-Chief in South
Africa, whose action had hitherto, if report could be believed, been
restricted by the Treasury and financial considerations, was to be
given a free hand to raise as many colonial volunteers as possible
in the Cape and Natal. Of the Militia, two battalions had already
volunteered for service outside the British Isles, and were about
to embark for Malta, whilst a third was destined for service in the
Channel Islands; nine more battalions were to be asked to tender
their help for garrison purposes in our coaling stations and imperial
fortresses, and an additional number of battalions was to be called
up for home service to supply the places of those who, under this
arrangement, would be sent abroad. A corresponding number of regular
troops would thus be released for service in the field. And now at
last the Volunteers, whose patriotic self-sacrifice had hitherto
received such scant acknowledgment at the hands of the War Office,
were to be called upon to show what stuff they were made of. They were
to be asked to furnish contingents for more serious work than Easter
"reviews" or Hyde Park parades. Two distinct volunteer forces were to
be raised in England for work in South Africa: the first, to be known
as Imperial Yeomanry, was to provide 8,000 mounted infantry. It was to
be organised in battalions 464 strong, each composed of four companies
of 116 officers and men. The second force, recruited from the ranks
of the Volunteers, was to supply an infantry company for each regular
battalion in the field, or, in all, a total of about 9,000 men. The
City of London was itself to organise and equip a small force of four
guns of the Honourable Artillery Company, two companies of mounted
infantry, and a battalion of infantry. Finally it was announced that
the patriotic offers of our great colonies would no longer be declined.
[Photo by Bassano.
LIEUT.-GENERAL SIR CHARLES WARREN, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., R.E.
Born 1840; entered the army in 1857; conducted excavations in
Palestine, 1867-70; Commissioner for delimiting Griqualand West,
1876-7; commanded the Diamond Fields Horse in the Kaffir war of 1877-8;
served also in Griqualand, 1878; commanded an expedition into Arabia
Petræa for the punishment of the murderers of Professor Palmer, 1882,
and the Bechuanaland Expedition in 1884-5; Commissioner of Metropolitan
Police, 1886-8; commanded Straits Settlements, 1889-94, and Thames
District, 1895-8; appointed to the command of the Fifth Division of the
South Africa Field Force, November 13, 1899.]
[Sidenote: Change of Generals.]
But even more important than these additions to the material strength
of our forces in South Africa was the change in generals. Sir Redvers
Buller himself is believed to have suggested to the Home Government
after his Colenso defeat that it would be well to place Lord Roberts
in supreme command, and this step was now taken by the Committee of
Defence. If such advice were given, it was a fine, magnanimous and
disinterested action to General Buller's credit, and one for which
the nation may well honour him. As Lord Roberts' chief of the staff,
the ablest and the greatest of our younger generals was selected, the
Sirdar, Lord Kitchener of Khartoum. He was in the Sudan, but, when
asked by telegraph whether he would take this anxious and difficult
post under the new commander-in-chief, he replied, with alacrity:
"Delighted to serve in any capacity under Lord Roberts."
[Photo by Art Repro. Co.
A BUGLER OF THE CITY OF LONDON IMPERIAL VOLUNTEERS.]
[Photo by Gregory.
A SERGEANT OF THE IMPERIAL YEOMANRY.]
[Sidenote: Lord Roberts' military career.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 16-23, 1899.]
The new commander-in-chief, Field-Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar, was
in his sixty-eighth year, yet, despite his age, he had retained the
vigour and energy of youth. Nineteen years before, in 1881, he had gone
out to South Africa to avenge Majuba, and had been recalled when Mr.
Gladstone changed his mind and decided to make a humiliating compromise
with the Boers. Now he was to achieve the work which then Fortune had
withheld from him. No soldier was more beloved and venerated by the
nation, to which his name had long been a household word. The feeling
of admiration and respect for him was strengthened by the thought that
he went forth fresh from the bereavement caused by the loss of his only
son, the gallant and devoted Lieutenant Roberts, who had laid down his
young life in the desperate attempt to save the guns at Colenso. In
sacrificing his private sorrow at the public call, the Field-Marshal
set a heroic example of resignation under affliction. If he was popular
in the best sense with the nation, he was adored by the Army, which
knew him for an officer of the most remarkable personal courage,
strategic insight, and equability. In the Indian Mutiny he had won that
highest distinction our Army can give--the Victoria Cross--by attacking
two Sepoys and capturing from them a standard. His serenity of temper
and self-restraint were extraordinary. When at Poplar Grove he saw his
whole plan for the capture of the Boer army deranged by the hesitation
of a subordinate, though other great leaders would have stormed with
rage, he uttered not a complaint or a reproach. Closing his field
glass, he rode off in silence. As a leader of men, his sympathetic
Irish temperament enabled him always to win the enthusiasm of his
troops. They would have followed him anywhere. A few words from him at
once raised the courage of the shattered and decimated Highland Brigade
and restored to it the spirit which had marked it before Magersfontein.
A telegram in his magic style cheered Mafeking in its sore distress
and raised the spirit of its garrison to elation; his praise supported
his noble army through the trials of the weary march to Bloemfontein;
a speech from him renewed the flagging energy of thirsty, famished
men. His exquisite tact smoothed the ruffled Colonials, who had, in
the earlier stages of the war and by other commanders, been studiously
disregarded and snubbed. Small in stature as great in mind, he was
known among his men by one of those affectionate nicknames which
testify to a commander's popularity with his soldiers. Just as
Marlborough was christened by his troops "Corporal John," just as
Napoleon was to his men "the little Corporal," so Lord Roberts was
"Bobs" to his followers.
A. J. Gough.]
HOW LORD ROBERTS WON HIS V.C.
The Victoria Cross was awarded to Lieut. Frederick Sleigh Roberts,
Bengal Artillery, for distinguished bravery at Khodagunge on January 2,
1858. Two Sepoys were seen in the distance going away with a standard.
Lieut. Roberts went after them and engaged them both. They pointed
their muskets at him, and one of the men pulled his trigger, but the
cap did not explode, and Roberts immediately cut him down and seized
[Photo by the London Stereoscopic Co.
FIELD-MARSHAL LORD ROBERTS OF KANDAHAR AND WATERFORD, V.C., K.P.,
G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E.
This portrait, perhaps better than any other of the many which exist,
brings before one the true character of this great soldier. There is no
fencing with the steady, penetrating, and yet not unkindly gaze of the
eyes. The whole face speaks of that perfectly-balanced combination of
justice and mercy, vigour and refinement, inflexibility and consummate
tact, which have made Lord Roberts equally loved and feared. "His
army," says Mr. Julian Ralph with absolute truthfulness, "will do
anything for him; march longer, starve harder, go without tents,
blankets, and rum more days and weeks, and die in greater numbers for
him than for any other man alive."]
[Sidenote: DEC. 16-23, 1899.] Lord Roberts of Kandahar.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 16-23, 1899.]
In his character was that strength which simple faith and reliance upon
a Higher Power gives to the greatest among men. "Pray as if everything
depended upon God, act as if everything rested with yourself"--the
motto of the saint--was, it may be, one secret of his success. "He has
never been known to use an oath," writes Mr. Ralph in his exquisite
sketch of this noble figure. "And, indeed, there must be comparatively
few men whose religion influences them so deeply as does his in every
affair of life. He never parades his piety, never forces it upon
those around him. Yet on every Sunday since he joined his army he has
attended Divine service. Not a word has he ever spoken to his staff
suggesting or ordering their presence--yet he is certain to attend the
weekly service--an example to the army so modestly and so persistently
presented that it cannot help but be powerful. When he took the
sacrament at Driefontein, the other day, in the face, one might say,
of the whole army, it was without a hint of the parading of religion.
All saw in it an act of simple faith. It is almost as hard to reconcile
his gentleness and sympathy with the firm--sometimes stern--course
which a general so supreme in command, and at the head of so large an
army, must often have to follow. I have asked many of his friends how
he can be both sorts of men at once--how he can possess traits which we
imagine must war with one another. 'He does possess them, that's all,'
is the best answer I have had; 'I don't know how, but he does.'"
[Illustration: W. W. Ouless, R.A.] [By permission of Messrs. Graves.
LIEUT.-GENERAL SIR FREDERICK SLEIGH ROBERTS (NOW LORD ROBERTS).
In the bearskin coat which he wore in Afghanistan.]
As with Lord Nelson, to look upon him was to love him. "I have known
many great faces, but that of Lord Roberts is a face apart. I fancy
that, in the minds of their worshippers, some of the soberer gods of
the old mythologies had faces like his," wrote Mr. Ralph. And the face
portrayed the man, at once stern and gentle, noble and humble, patient
with the vast patience of one who knows men and their petty failings,
steadfast and strong.
[Sidenote: DEC. 16-23, 1899.] Lord Roberts' Generalship.]
For the command in South Africa Lord Roberts had many peculiar
qualifications. He was no stranger to the art of making war against
a brave, half-civilised enemy in difficult and mountainous country.
If in the Abyssinian War of 1868 he had seen nothing worth the name
of serious war, he had in the little wars with the hill tribes on
the Indian frontier, and especially in the second Afghan war, gained
valuable experience. In many ways the Afghans resembled the Boers.
Both peoples were soldiers by instinct and expert shots, with a talent
for taking cover. The Afghans in the war of 1877-8, the Boers in the
struggle of 1899-1900, were both for the first time acting in masses
with the help of artillery. Both could rely upon the great distance
to be traversed by the British troops and the comparative barrenness
of their country, which yielded scanty supplies of food and forage,
as their best auxiliaries. But of the two races the Boers were
incomparably the more formidable enemies.
[Photo by Gregory.
LORD ROBERTS GOING ON BOARD THE S.S. "DUNOTTAR CASTLE" AT SOUTHAMPTON.
Lady Roberts accompanying him to witness his departure, December 23,
Lord Roberts' generalship in the Afghan War had been of a very high
order. In command of the Kuram column he distinguished himself early
in 1879, so that in the autumn of that year he was appointed to lead
the army which was to avenge the murder of the British Resident at
Cabul. On October 1 his real advance began. It was made with startling
rapidity, and on the 13th he marched through the streets of Cabul. Here
his small army had to pause, as in March and April 1900 the British
Army had to halt at Bloemfontein, and the enemy rallied, inflicting
more than one minor reverse upon his troops. But it was his great march
from Cabul to Kandahar, in the summer of 1880, which best illustrated
his judgment and daring. Cutting loose from his base, living on the
land as General Sherman had done in the famous march to the sea, he
led his little column, 10,000 strong, on August 8, out of his camp
at Cabul. On the 31st he entered Kandahar, having covered in the
twenty-three days 320 miles, and this in sweltering heat. So rapid were
his movements that he everywhere forestalled his enemies and met with
no opposition on the march.
[Photo by E. Kennard.
LORD ROBERTS AT ADMIRALTY HOUSE, SIMON'S BAY.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 16-23, 1899.]
Not only was Lord Roberts great in war; in the quiet times of peace
he strove earnestly for military reform. He especially distinguished
himself during his Indian and Irish commands by the emphasis which
he placed upon good shooting and the development of the soldier's
intelligence. He did not want his men to be the soulless automata of
the eighteenth-century barrack square. It is admitted by all, that
under him the Indian Army was raised to a pitch of efficiency which
it had never possessed before, and which, perhaps, has not marked it
since. Some who did not know him may have feared that here was another
reputation, won in savage or barbarous warfare, going to be lost in
that land where the fair fame of so many had suffered swift eclipse.
They may have asked themselves, if he failed with Lord Kitchener, who
was left. Yet those who knew him and had served under him felt no such
concern. To them his success was certain.
[Illustration: SOUNDING THE "CHARGE."
A cavalry trumpeter carries both a bugle for field calls, and a trumpet
for the more elaborate camp and barrack calls.]
[Illustration: MAJOR-GENERAL LORD KITCHENER OF KHARTOUM, G.C.B.,
Chief of the Staff to Lord Roberts in South Africa since December
23, 1899. Horatio Herbert Kitchener was born in 1850, the son of the
late Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Kitchener. He was educated at the Royal
Military Academy at Woolwich, and entered the Royal Engineers in
1871. He was engaged in the Palestine Survey, 1874-8, and the Cyprus
Survey, 1878-82. Commanded the Egyptian Cavalry, 1882-4; served in
the Sudan Campaign, 1883-5; Governor of Suakin, 1886-8; Colonel,
1888; Adjutant-General of the Egyptian Army, 1888-92; Major-General,
1896; commanded Dongola Expeditionary Force, 1896; and the Khartoum
Expedition, 1898, in which campaign he finally overthrew the power of
[Sidenote: Dec. 1899.] Lord Kitchener in Egypt.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 1899.]
[Sidenote: Lord Kitchener in the Sudan.]
His chief-of-the-staff, Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, was in his fiftieth
year, but already, as the reconqueror of the Sudan, was by far the most
famous and trusted of the younger British generals. His earlier years
had passed uneventfully, but with that energy and intense earnestness
of purpose which distinguishes the genius from the common-place man,
he studied and learnt Arabic, while most of his fellow-officers
were amusing themselves. Present at the bombardment of Alexandria,
in spite of and not because of orders received, he was employed by
Lord Wolseley when that General came to Egypt for the Tel-el-Kebir
campaign. Thenceforward, Kitchener belonged to Egypt, and his career
is inseparably entwined with Egyptian history. He saw the sad tragedy
of the abandonment of the Sudan; he smarted with his countrymen at
the bitter shame of the betrayal of Gordon, and took part in the
expedition which came too late to save the martyred general. His eyes
must have fastened upon that prophetic page in Gordon's journals:--"I
like Baker's description of Kitchener. 'The man whom I have always
placed my hopes upon, Major Kitchener, R.E., who is one of the few
very superior British officers, with a cool and good head, and a hard
constitution combined with untiring energy.'"
[Illustration: R. Caton Woodville.] [By permission of Fishburn
& Jenkin, Doré Gallery, New Bond Street, publishers of the large
THE GORDON MEMORIAL SERVICE: THE SUPREME MOMENT OF LORD KITCHENER'S
CAREER AS SIRDAR, September 4, 1898.
The battle of Omdurman and the capture of Khartoum were followed by
a ceremony surely as touching as any in history. To the roar of a
salute from the gunboat on the Nile, the British and Egyptian flags
were run up side by side, and cheers for the Queen were led off by the
Sirdar himself. Then, amidst a silence broken only by the guns, "four
chaplains," says Mr. G. W. Steevens--"Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian,
and Methodist--came slowly forward and ranged themselves, with their
backs to the palace, just before the Sirdar. The Presbyterian read the
Fifteenth Psalm. The Anglican led the rustling whisper of the Lord's
Prayer. Snow-haired Father Brindle, best beloved of priests, laid his
helmet at his feet, and read a memorial prayer bareheaded in the sun.
Then came forward the pipers and wailed a dirge, and the Sudanese
played 'Abide with me.' Perhaps lips did twitch just a little to see
the ebony heathens fervently blowing out Gordon's favourite hymn; but
the most irresistible incongruity would hardly have made us laugh at
this moment. And there were those who said the cold Sirdar himself
could hardly speak or see, as General Hunter and the rest stepped out
according to their rank and shook his hand. What wonder? He has trodden
this road to Khartoum for fourteen years, and he stood at the goal at
[Sidenote: DEC. 1899.] Lord Kitchener as a General.]
His experience was wide and various. It was not only in the conduct
of war, but also in civil administration that he had made for himself
a name. Though he never courted popularity and had no influence of
any kind, his sheer ability carried him forward. That unerring judge
of men who trained Sir Alfred Milner, Lord Cromer, selected Kitchener
as Sirdar in 1892. The new Egyptian commander made of the army under
his charge a miracle of efficiency at an insignificant cost. Quietly,
methodically, he organised and prepared for the reconquest which, he
knew, must come in time, when the conscience of the British nation
awoke. He made no mistakes; he took the utmost pains to find out what
the enemy was doing, conscious that victory in war largely depends
upon perfect information. The Egyptian Intelligence Department was as
efficient as the Egyptian Army. And when at last the long-desired hour
struck and the British and Egyptian troops marched southward into the
desert "to avenge Gordon," everything was ready, everything went like
clockwork. Firket, the Atbara, and Omdurman followed in regular and
mechanical succession. The man "who had made himself a machine" did
his work surpassingly well. All that the nation heard about its new
general delighted it. The very gossip which was meant to discredit him
only increased his reputation. His dislike for triflers and idlers,
his aversion from all kinds of favouritism, his determination to
insist upon strict discipline, competence, and knowledge in those
whom he employed, might estrange from him the darlings of fortune,
but were a recommendation to the people of England. He was outwardly
cold and stern, like many deep natures, but no general is unpopular
with his troops if he always succeeds. With Lord Kitchener the men
felt instinctively that every thing would be foreseen, all precautions
taken, and nothing overlooked. They knew that everyone would do his
duty, or if not that the Sirdar would want to know the reason why.
[Illustration: THE REAL KRUGER.
Two Portraits taken on April 24, 1900.]
[Copyright of the "Review of Reviews."]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 1899.]
Lord Kitchener, then, took with him to Africa the prestige of a great
name, the reputation of continual success, and the habit of handling
large masses of troops. No living English general, not even Lord
Roberts, had ever had under him in war so many troops as Lord Kitchener
led into the field in 1898, when he marched to Omdurman 8,200 British
and 17,600 Egyptian soldiers, with sixty-four field guns and Maxims.
Last, but not least, Lord Kitchener had seen little of the mischievous
kind of fooling which at Aldershot, under the specious guise of Field
Days, served rather to render our generals inexpert and our soldiers
careless of the methods of war, than to familiarise them with something
approaching the real conditions of battle. His training had been that
of actual war, his power of organisation was undoubted, and even
his bitterest detractors had to confess that he was a successful
leader. But what, perhaps, most recommended him to his country was his
seriousness of purpose and his concentration of aim. His very face
bore in every line the look of iron resolution, of a spirit which
fears nothing and calculates everything. And that, perhaps, was why
the swift genius of Mr. Steevens christened him "the machine." For he
rose superior to the accidents of fortune and the tragedies of life;
nothing seemed to shake his coolness or weaken his purpose. Here was a
general who would never show the not ignoble weakness which wrecks so
many would-be leaders--the unwillingness to incur losses, the inward
rebellion against sending brave, devoted men to death. Yet that his
nature was not without a strain of sentiment was proved by that strange
commemoration service, held on the scene of Gordon's death, in sight
of the still reeking battlefield of Omdurman, which set the seal upon
the purpose of ten long years, and to some extent obliterated the shame
felt by his countrymen for the death of that noble man. The interest
which attached to Kitchener's personality was enhanced by the fact that
he was something of a riddle to his countrymen, who suspected that
under the outer veil of iciness which marked him, as it marked Moltke,
lay concealed the warmer qualities of the heart.
[Illustration: ARRIVAL OF LORDS ROBERTS AND KITCHENER AT CAPE TOWN,
January 4, 1900.]
[Sidenote: DEC. 23, 1899.] The New Generals hasten out.]
[Sidenote: Embarkation for South Africa.]
On Saturday, December 23, Lord Roberts left London to embark upon the
Dunottar Castle. A great popular demonstration marked his departure.
An immense crowd, in which were merged and lost members of the Royal
Family, Cabinet Ministers, guardsmen, soldiers who had in the already
far-off past marched with him to victory, and the great unwashed,
were impartially assembled upon the platform of Waterloo. It was
noticed that nearly all were in black--a sombre hue typical at once
of the nation's sorrow under its defeats and of its sympathy with the
general in his personal bereavement. Amidst a thunder of cheering the
new Commander-in-Chief stepped into the train, already in motion. The
cheers continued till he was lost to view. Thus, with the knowledge
that he bore with him the regard and devotion of his race, he went
forth to his work.
At Southampton the demonstration was repeated. Meantime Lord Kitchener
embarked in the cruiser Isis at Alexandria on the 22nd. The Isis
steamed her fastest--eighteen knots--to Malta, where she met the
Dido, and that good warship covered the rest of the distance to
Gibraltar, where the Dunottar Castle was to be met. The extreme haste
gave evidence of the seriousness of the emergency. From Gibraltar the
liner headed for the Cape by the usual route, and the time of the
voyage was used by the Field-Marshal and his Chief-of-the-Staff to
work out their strategic plans for the new campaign that was to change
disaster into triumph.
A. C. Ball.]
HECTOR MACDONALD AT MAJUBA.
When the Gordon Highlanders were beaten back on the disastrous day of
Majuba, Lieutenant Macdonald, still unwounded, rallied his men for a
last stand. He was disarmed, but met the onslaught of a group of Boers
with his fists, knocking down three of the enemy in succession. His
pluck was appreciated; a Boer who had felt the weight of his blows
called to one of his fellows, who was in the act of covering Macdonald
with his rifle, to "spare that brave man." He was spared, and of course
taken prisoner; but General Joubert treated him with consideration,
even returning to him his sword--the sword which had but recently been
presented to him by his fellow officers at Kandahar.]
[Sidenote: General Hector Macdonald.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 1899.]
Other changes and new appointments in the higher ranks of the Army were
made about this same time. From India General Hector Macdonald was
summoned to lead the Highland Brigade. He was an officer of extreme
popularity and with a remarkable history, which proves that in the
British Army, as in the hosts of Napoleon, "a career is open to
talent." Beginning life as a draper's assistant, he enlisted in the
ranks. Under Lord Roberts in Afghanistan he rose like a rocket, winning
by superb bravery step after step--corporal, sergeant, colour-sergeant,
and lieutenant in quick succession. He fought at Majuba, where his
splendid courage led the Boers to spare his life. With the Gordons he
held the kopje on the western face of the mountain to the very last,
and all but two of his men were killed or wounded. He was one of the
distinguished group of officers who, as time went on, found employment
in the Egyptian Army, where his great military aptitudes were given
full scope. He shared in all the Sirdar's victories, and at Omdurman,
in command of the First Egyptian Brigade, showed admirable generalship,
contributing in no small degree to that great success.
[Illustration: LORD ROBERTS AND HIS CHIEF-OF-STAFF, LORD KITCHENER.
This photograph was taken at Cape Town, when the two generals were on
the way to inspect the City Imperial Volunteers.]
[Illustration: GENERAL HECTOR MACDONALD AND HIS FORMER SUPERIOR.
On his way to the Modder River, General Hector Macdonald encountered
Col. Macbean of the 1st Gordon Highlanders, under whom he had served
as Colour-Sergeant of the 92nd, when Macbean was Captain of the same
[Sidenote: Offers of the Colonies.]
[Sidenote: DEC. 1899.] Magnificent Offers of the Australasian
The news of the British reverses was expected by all the enemies of
England--enemies within and without--to prove the final blow to the
British Empire. "The British Colonies," said one of the more moderate
French journals, "will certainly secede when disaster weakens the
Mother country's grasp upon them." Mr. John Morley in his famous
article, "On the Expansion of England," had argued before the war, in
much the same style, that at the first sign of peril the Australians
and Canadians would "cut the painter." "Is it possible to suppose," he
had asked, "that Canadian lumbermen or Australian sheep farmers would
contribute anything towards keeping Basutos and Zulus quiet?" The
question was answered, and answered speedily and dramatically, when
upon the top of the sad messages announcing from South Africa defeat
upon defeat, came telegram after telegram from the great self-governing
Colonies, offering far more than money--their own flesh and blood.
Then it was seen and realised at last that the Empire was one and
indivisible--that it was something which, like the Church, neither
distance nor climate could disunite. Never before in history had the
Colonies of a great state spontaneously offered for distant service
thousands of men. And thus were triumphantly justified the foresight
which had led England to concede to her settlers the largest measure
of self-government and the new spirit of pride in the Empire which
had first found definite expression in the celebrations of 1897. Then
Colonial troops had marched in all the pomp of peace through the
streets of the capital; now they were to march of their own free will
to the bloody work of a desperate war.
Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth, & Co.]
12-POUNDER GUN AND LIMBER.
This gun is one of a battery presented to Lord Roberts by Lady Meux,
manufactured at the Elswick Works and manned by Elswick Volunteers.]
[Copyright 1900 by Underwood & Underwood.
FOREIGN MILITARY ATTACHÉS.
Commissioned to accompany the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa.]
[Sidenote: Australian and Canadian contingents.]
[Sidenote: [NOV.-DEC. 1899.]
On December 14, before the news of Colenso was known, the Premier of
New South Wales had telegraphed to Mr. Chamberlain asking him whether
the Home Government would care for more men from New South Wales. A
statement to that effect in the Sydney Parliament was greeted with
the wildest enthusiasm, the members rising and singing "God save the
Queen." Mr. Chamberlain lost no time in replying. His answer ran:--"The
Imperial Government is prepared to entertain the offer of further
troops, mounted men preferred. It is indispensable that the men should
be trained and good shots, supplying their own horses." Victoria,
Queensland, South Australia, West Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania,
all agreed to contribute men. The total strength of the new contingent
was fixed at 1,000 mounted infantry, but this total was largely
exceeded. A field battery and a field hospital were despatched in
addition by the New South Wales Government, while New Zealand supplied
four Hotchkiss guns. The patriotism of the Colonial Parliaments was
equalled by the patriotism of the peoples who had to find the men and
money. Great landowners came forward with offerings of horses; citizens
subscribed thousands of money for the perfect equipment of the force
and the pensioning of dependents of the men who volunteered. Doctors in
good practice volunteered to accompany the troops, and the difficulty
was not to obtain men, but to settle who was to go and who to stay
behind. Ten thousand men could with ease have been enlisted in a week.
The Colonial Administrators were not content with sending help; they
sent it quickly, and their forces were the first of the new levies to
appear in the field. Moreover, they quietly assembled and drilled yet a
third contingent, to be ready for the worst. The total strength of the
second contingent was, as far as can be ascertained, as follows:--New
South Wales 900 men, Victoria 300, New Zealand 234, Queensland 150,
South Australia 100, West Australia 90, and Tasmania 45. From first to
last Australia placed over 8,000 men in the field, or nearly a complete
division. As an example of the general enthusiasm may be mentioned the
fact that an insurance company offered a pension of a pound a week for
life to the first Australian who won the Victoria Cross, an honour
which fell to Trooper Morris, of the New South Wales Lancers.
[Illustration: F. W. Burton.] [After a photo by J. B. Bawden.
FROM CANADA'S SNOWS TO AFRICA'S BAKING SANDS.
The farewell parade of D Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery, in Ottawa.]
Canada had offered a second contingent as far back as November 7, so
that her Government may claim the credit of first realising the danger.
The offer was not accepted till the December defeats had taught the
British Ministry the perils of the situation. On December 18, Sir
Wilfrid Laurier held a Cabinet Council and instructed the Militia
Department to prepare the new contingent with the utmost expedition.
Its strength was fixed at three squadrons of mounted rifles and three
batteries of artillery, mustering a total of 1,044 men. The Premier
of the North West Territories announced, even before the appeal was
made, that he would undertake to raise 1,000 expert horsemen and good
marksmen at twenty-four hours' notice in his territories alone. When
the call for volunteers came, here, as in Australia, many times as many
men offered themselves as could be accepted. Finally, the strength
of the second Canadian contingent was raised to 1,300 men with six
12-pounder guns, but even so, it was far below the wishes of the
people. The men who were picked were active and intelligent, accustomed
to an outdoor life, sitting their horses like centaurs. They speedily
showed in war that they were a full match for the Boers, man for man,
in marksmanship, the art of taking cover, and stubborn courage, while
they had that high spirit which preaches attack rather than defence,
and which the Boers, among their many fine qualities, altogether lacked.
[Sidenote: DEC. 1899.] Fighting Men, not Fault-finders, Wanted.]
Among Canada's most splendid contributions was Lord Strathcona's Corps.
At his own expense, over and above the contingent 1,300 strong, he
raised in the North West 400 "rough riders," armed them, and equipped
them for service. They were all unmarried men of fine physique, and,
like all the Canadians sent to the front, good horsemen and excellent
shots. Nor was the Canadian Agent-General content with this magnificent
gift. He conveyed the corps at his own cost to Capetown, so that the
400 men were landed in South Africa without the expenditure of a penny
by the British Government.
[Photo by Lafayette.
THE RIGHT HON. SIR WILFRID LAURIER,
The patriotic French-Canadian Premier of Canada.]
[Photo from Mrs. Craigmile, Banchory.
TROOPER TOM MORRIS,
Of the New South Wales Lancers; the first Colonial to be recommended
for the V.C.]
[Sidenote: Mr. Seddon's loyal speech.]
A speech of Mr. Seddon's, the Premier of New Zealand, made at this
time, perhaps best explains the enthusiasm of the colonies and proves
the fervour of their devotion, though he was himself speaking only
for New Zealand. "At the present time," he said, "fighting men, not
fault-finders, are required in the interests of the Empire. The war is
only nominally with the Boers; actually it is with all those who are
jealous of the growing power of the British Empire, and who, rejoicing
at our reverses, are aiding and abetting the Boers. The reverses
suffered are only temporary: they will be followed by the invariable,
inevitable success of British arms. The people of New Zealand are
determined that the prestige of the British Empire, to which they
belong, shall be maintained at all hazards. Though New Zealand is
Radical and Democratic, even termed by some Socialistic, there is in
the present emergency an amount of imperial patriotism in the country
not to be surpassed elsewhere in Her Majesty's dominions."
[Photo by Notman, Montreal.
This group consists of volunteers, all over six feet in height. Three
of them are bankers; several are members of the North-West Mounted
[Sidenote: Volunteers from Asiatic dependencies.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 1899.]
The feeling of Australasia and Canada was echoed wherever the British
flag flew. In India, native princes offered their purses, their armies,
and their swords. Native regiments voluntarily subscribed a day's pay
to the War Fund. In India, in Ceylon, and in the Straits Settlements,
small corps of mounted volunteers were raised and despatched to the
front. There would have been no difficulty in providing hundreds of men
in India alone, and that without drawing upon the garrisons, but the
Europeans could not well be spared from their posts. In South Africa
itself volunteering proceeded with the greatest alacrity, and some
thousands of men were raised in Cape Colony among the British and the
[Photo by Talma, Melbourne.
THE RIGHT HON. R. J. SEDDON,
Premier of New Zealand since 1893.]
[Photo by Elliott & Fry.
High Commissioner for Canada.]
At home the call for volunteers met with an eager response. On Monday,
December 18, the 3rd Durham Light Infantry (Militia) volunteered to
a man for foreign service. The 3rd York and Lancaster Regiment on
parade on the same day was addressed by the colonel, and those who
would volunteer ordered to slope arms, whereupon every man responded.
The Cornwall, East Surrey, West Surrey, Gordon Highlanders, Royal
Warwickshire, and Yorkshire Artillery Militia all followed suit. In
no case did any militia battalion when invited to give its services
show the smallest reluctance. The volunteers were equally eager
and enthusiastic. Thus the colonel of the 3rd Middlesex Volunteer
Artillery, when asked how many men would give their services, answered,
"The whole regiment will do so if required." It may be questioned
if sufficient use was made of this eagerness, and bitter complaints
were heard from the volunteers as to the unreasonable severity of the
medical examination of those finally selected.
[Illustration: INSPECTION OF LUMSDEN'S HORSE BY THE VICEROY OF INDIA,
In the photograph the Viceroy, Lord Curzon,* in light coat and hat, is
seen amidst the group on the left, on his way to the dais after the
[Sidenote: London's contribution.]
[Sidenote: DEC. 1899.] The Wives, Widows, and Children cared for.]
The City Council, at a meeting held on December 20, decided to select
detachments of twenty picked marksmen from volunteer regiments and
to form them into its battalion of City Imperial Volunteers, 1,000
strong. The sum of £25,000 was contributed to the equipment of this
force by the City Funds, and the freedom of the City was promised
to every volunteer in the organisation. Of this and other patriotic
movements in the Empire's capital we shall have more to say shortly.
Private individuals came forward with the most splendid generosity to
contribute to the fund raised to defray the cost of the force. Messrs.
Wilson, of Hull, the great shipowners, offered free of charge the use
of a fitted transport for three months--an offer which was, it was
calculated, equivalent to the gift of £15,000. Besides the infantry
battalion, the City provided a battery of four guns and a detachment of
mounted infantry. All ranks and all conditions showed equal alacrity
in helping the cause. Those who were of fighting age and physique were
ready to give their lives; the rest contributed money to the best of
their ability. Working men subscribed their pence and shillings to
keep in comfort the wives and children of their comrades who had gone
to the front. And unquestionably the manner in which the nation had
done its duty by raising hundreds of thousands for the wives, widows,
and children of the soldiers, and for the comfort of the wounded
contributed in no small degree to the alacrity with which the call to
arms was met. The soldier was everywhere what he should always have
been--a privileged and honoured man.
A wounded New South Wales Mounted Rifle.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 1899.]
[Sidenote: Imperial Yeomanry.]
For the raising and equipment of the Imperial Yeomanry, 8,000 strong,
private effort and subscription were entirely responsible. The work
of organisation was undertaken by Lord Chesham, and in every county
committees were formed to further the recruiting of the corps. The idea
was to enrol young men who were good riders and good shots, and it
was carried out with very fair success. There was no want of men; the
only difficulty was to find suitable men. The great nobles and wealthy
families of the country were forward in volunteering. The Duke of
Marlborough, Earl Dudley, Lord Alwyne Compton, the Marquis of Hertford,
the Hon. T. A. Brassey--a well-known writer upon naval matters--and
the Hon. Schomberg K. M'Donnell, private secretary to Lord Salisbury,
were a few typical names from the long list of those who sacrificed
comfort and ease for a life of pain and hardship in South Africa. Among
the various corps raised were companies of rough riders, composed of
"bachelor gentlemen" who provided their own arms, and several companies
the ranks of which were entirely filled by gentlemen. In all, nineteen
battalions were enlisted, in each case four companies strong, the
companies numbered consecutively from 1 to 76. More might have been
raised, but in March, 1900, enlistment was stopped by the Government.
[Photo by Surgeon-Major Beevor.
FROM FAR BURMA.
A volunteer, mounted on his little Burmese pony.]
[Photo by Skeene, Colombo.
VOLUNTEERS FROM CEYLON.
The contingent of Ceylon Mounted Infantry (mostly tea-planters, and
good riders and marksmen) leaving Colombo for the Cape, Feb. 1, 1900.]
R. Caton Woodville.]
FIRST ON THE TOP!
Some of London's Volunteers show their mettle.]
[Sidenote: Gloomy outlook.]
[Sidenote: [DEC. 1899.]
In this national uprising passed the last days of December and the
first weeks of January. It was a sad Christmas and a sad New Year, and
there was ample cause for gloom in the country. Yet the eagerness with
which England and the Colonies had replied to the call to arms was a
source of encouragement and hope, though the question might still be
asked, with some uneasiness, whether even now a sufficient force was
being prepared for the difficult work of a prolonged war of conquest.
Still, 50,000 men of the regular army or the volunteers, 15,000 of
the militia, and some 10,000 colonists were now preparing to take the
field in South Africa. The new generals who were to organise victory
by throwing this great force into the balance were already upon
their way to the scene of action. But weeks, if not months, must pass
before the new divisions and battalions could enter into line, and in
that time much might happen. Could Ladysmith, could Kimberley, could
Mafeking, protract their resistance through this period of delay? That
was the question which rendered this period one of such harassing
anxiety, for the fall of these places would unquestionably be followed
by the great insurrection of the Cape Dutch, which was the last and
crowning calamity to be feared. It is very clear that the Boers had all
along counted on this movement on the part of their blood relations
in British territory; and it is equally certain that they would not
have counted in vain had they themselves shown a more daring and
enterprising spirit. In every direction disloyal Afrikanders were doing
their utmost to assist the Boers and to hinder the British; their sons
were they "knew not where;" they had left their homes on mysterious,
or not mysterious, hunting expeditions, rifles in hand and good horses
beneath them. More rifles were only awaiting a safe opportunity for
producing them. The guarding of lines of communications had to be as
strenuous as if the Cape Colony had been an enemy's country. Much more,
therefore, than the fate of the garrisons themselves depended on the
power of the beleaguered towns to hold out until the British forces
could assume the offensive.
[Illustration: SOME NOBLEMEN AT THE FRONT.
[Photo by Elliott & Fry.
THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH.]
[Photo by Russell & Sons.
LORD ALWYNE COMPTON.]
[Photo by Elliott & Fry.
THE HON. T. A. BRASSEY.]
[Photo by Russell & Sons.
[Photo by Elliott & Fry.
THE HON. SCHOMBERG McDONNELL,
In the uniform of the City Imperial Volunteers.]
[Illustration: AMERICANS IN THE BOER ARMY BESIEGING LADYSMITH.
This photograph shows Mr. Webster Davis, rifle in hand, amidst the
American mercenaries serving with the Boer army. Mr. Davis was formerly
Assistant Secretary of the Interior Department of the United States
Government. He proceeded to South Africa during the course of the
war, and after following some of the Boer commandos into the field,
he returned to America, where he took a prominent part in a pro-Boer
agitation, making public speeches in favour of the independence of the