“ The tramp of Power, and its long trail of pain.”—William Watson.

AFTER Lord Roberts had arrived in South Africa and had assumed command, he issued early in February the well-known First Proclamation. The success of this document depended upon the power of the occupying army to hold and protect the country which it entered, and upon carefully distinguishing between the few individuals who abused its terms and the many who did not. It was a familiar topic in the Concentration Camps, where it was constantly quoted in a dreary, puzzled way by countless women, who, unconscious of having ever abused its leniency, could not understand why its promises were disregarded. The proclamation is given in full, as upon it hung so much for good or ill

First Proclamation of Lord Roberts to Burghers of Orange Free State.

"Feb. 1900.

“ The British troops under my command having entered the Orange Free State, I feel it my duty to make known to all Burghers the cause of our coming, as well as to do all in my power to put an end to the devastation caused by this war, so that, should they continue the war, the inhabitants of the Orange Free State may not do so ignorantly, but with full knowledge of their responsibility before God for the lives lost in the campaign.

“ Before the war began the British Government, which had always desired and cultivated peace and friendship with the people of the Orange Free State, gave a solemn assurance to President Steyn that, if the Orange Free State remained neutral, its territory would not be invaded, and its independence would be at all times fully respected by Her Majesty’s Government.

“ In spite of that declaration, the Government of the Orange Free State was guilty of a wanton and unjustifiable invasion of British territory.

“ The British Government believes that this act of aggression was not committed with the general approval and free will of a people with whom it has lived in complete amity for so many years. It believes that the responsibility rests wholly with the Government of the Orange Free State, acting, not in the interests of the country, but under mischievous influences from without. The British Government, therefore, wishes the people of the Orange Free State to understand that it bears them no ill-will, and, as far as is compatible with the successful conduct of the war, and the re-establishment of peace in South Africa, it is anxious to preserve them from the evils brought upon them by the wrongful action of their Government.

“ I therefore warn all Burghers to desist from any further hostility towards Her Majesty’s Government and the troops under my command, and I undertake that any of them who may so desist, and who are found staying in their homes and quietly pursuing their ordinary occupations, will not be made to suffer in their persons or property on account of their having taken up arms in obedience to the order of their Government. Those, however, who oppose the forces under my command, or furnish the enemy with supplies or information, will be dealt with according to the customs of war.

“ Requisitions for food, forage, fuel, or shelter, made on the authority of the Officers in command of Her Majesty’s troops, must be at once complied with ; but everything will be paid for on the spot, prices being regulated by the local market rates. If the inhabitants of any district refuse to comply with the demands made on them, the supplies will be taken by force, a full receipt being given.

“ Should any inhabitant of the country consider that he or any member of his household has been unjustly treated by any Officer, soldier, or civilian attached to the British Army, he should submit his complaint, either personally or in writing, to my Headquarters or to the Headquarters of the nearest General Officer. Should the complaint, on inquiry, be substantiated, redress will be given.

“ Orders have been issued by me, prohibiting soldiers from entering private houses, or molesting the civil population on any pretext whatever, and every precaution has been taken against injury to property on the part of any person belonging to, or connected with, the Army.”

But already, it appears, complaints had been made that soldiers had entered private houses and molested the civil population. A month earlier a Reuter’s telegram had stated that “ General Babington’s party, in a short excursion of twelve miles into the Free State, came upon three Boer farmsteads, and these they destroyed with dynamite and fire. The homesteads on Zwiegler’s Farm, and two belonging to Lubbe, the Commandant of the local commando, were burnt, having been used as camps by the enemy.” [Reuter’s Special Service, Jan. 11, 1900. From Pen Pictures of the War,p. 218.] Mr. Conan Doyle alluded to the same incident when he wrote: “ Methuen’s cavalry on January 9th made another raid over the Free State border, which is remarkable for the fact that, save in the case of Colonel Plumer’s Rhodesian Force, it was the first time that the enemy’s frontier had been violated. The expedition under Babington consisted of the same regiments and the same battery which had covered Pilcher’s advance. . . . With the aid of a party of the Victorian Mounted Rifles, a considerable tract of country was overrun and some farmhouses destroyed. The latter extreme measure may have been taken as a warning to the Boers that such depredations as they had carried out in parts of Natal could not pass with impunity, but both the policy and the humanity of such a course appear to be open to question, and there was some cause for the remonstrance which President Kruger shortly after addressed to us upon the subject.” [Great Boer War, chap. xii. p. 202]

This protest from the Presidents ran as follows :—

“ We learn from many sides that the British troops, contrary to the recognised usages of war, are guilty of the destruction by burning and blowing up with dynamite of farmhouses, of the devastation of farms and the goods therein, whereby unprotected women and children are often deprived of food and cover.

“This happens not only in the places where barbarians are encouraged by British officers, but even in the Cape Colony and in this State, where white brigands come out from the theatre of war with the evident intention of carrying out a general devastation, without any reason recognised by the customs of war, and without in any way furthering the operations.

“ We wish earnestly to protest against such acts.” [Cd. 582 (190). Bloemfontein, Feb. 3, 1900.]

It was during the last days of December 1899 and the first of January 1900 that the burning of farms began, Lubbes-bock, the residence of Commandant Lubbe, being one of the earliest destroyed. The Commander-in-Chief, who was still in Cape Town, and who had probably heard nothing of this preliminary destruction, replied two days later asking for particulars and referring to depredations in Cape Colony. In this despatch he emphasises the principle that it is barbarous to attempt to force men to take sides against their own Sovereign and country.

“ Cape Town, Feb. 5, 1900.

“ I beg to acknowledge your Honours’ telegram charging the British troops with the destruction of property contrary to the recognised usages of war, and with brigandage and devastation. These charges are made in vague and general terms. No specific case is mentioned and no evidence given.

“ I have seen such charges made before now in the Press, but in no case which has come under my notice have they been substantiated. The most stringent instructions have been issued to the British troops to respect private property, as far as is compatible with the conduct of military operations. All wanton destruction or injury to peaceful inhabitants is contrary to British practice and tradition, and will if necessary be rigorously repressed by me.

“ I regret that your Honours should have seen fit to repeat the untrue statement that ‘barbarians have been encouraged by British officers’ to commit depredations. In the only case in which a raid has been perpetrated by native subjects of the Queen, the act was contrary to the instructions of the British officer nearest to the spot, and entirely disconcerted his operations. The women and children taken prisoners by the natives were restored to their homes by the agency of the British officer in question.

“ I regret to say that it is the Republican forces which have in some cases been guilty of carrying on the war in a manner not in accordance with civilised usage. I refer especially to the expulsion of loyal subjects of Her Majesty from their homes in the invaded districts of this Colony, because they refused to be commandeered by the invader. It is barbarous to attempt to force men to take sides against their own Sovereign and country by threats of spoliation and expulsion. Men, women, and children have had to leave their homes owing to such compulsion, and many of those who were formerly in comfortable circumstances are now being maintained by charity.

“That a war should inflict hardships and injury on peaceful inhabitants is inevitable, but it is the desire of Her Majesty’s Government, and it is my intention, to conduct this war with as little injury as possible to peaceable inhabitants and to private property, and I hope your Honours will exercise your authority to ensure its being conducted in a similar spirit on your side.”

A few days later he added a postcript to this despatch—

“Feb. 12.

“ In continuation of my telegram of the 5th February, I beg to call your Honours’ attention to the wanton destruction of property by the Boer forces in Natal. They not only have helped themselves freely to the cattle and other property of farmers without payment, but they have utterly wrecked the contents of many farmhouses. As an instance I would specify Mr. Theodore Wood’s farm, ‘ Longwood,’ near Springfield. I point out how very different is the conduct of the British troops. It is reported to me from Modder River that farms within the actual area of the British Camp have never even been entered, the occupants are unmolested, and their houses, gardens, and crops remain absolutely untouched.”

In reply to these two telegrams a long despatch was sent by the Boer Presidents. For some reason, not explained, their telegram does not appear in the Blue Book from which the foregoing despatches are taken [Cd. 582 (1901).] I therefore give it in full Specific cases asked for by Lord Roberts are given, and it deals with other matters closely connected with the fate of women and children.


“ From State President Orange Free State, and State President of the South African Republic. Sent from Bloemfontein at 9.20. p.m. 19th February 1900. To His Excellency Lord Roberts, Cape Town, 19th February [Reply to Nos. 2 and 3 in Cd. 582 (1901), but not published there.] We have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency’s telegram of 5th inst. The specific cases of needless destruction of properties by British troops are so numerous that we consider, with all due deference, that on inquiry the accuracy of the complaint would at once become manifest.

“ To quote but a few cases out of many: several farmhouses have been destroyed near the Jacobsdal boundary, amongst others : Commandant Lubbe’s residence on his farm Lubbeshock, and those of his brothers and brothers-in-law on Weltevreden, Karulaagte, du Toitsheuvel, and Badenhorstoest were totally destroyed by British patrols late in December. On the farm Greuspan of D. Combrink the furniture was destroyed and a part burnt, and the dwelling-house was practically blown up by dynamite on the 4th January.

“ Altogether we received official information during December and January of eighteen houses wholly or partially burnt or destroyed, in the Jacobsdal district alone. At Bloemdraai, on Orange River, the dwelling-house was destroyed in December and everything carried away out of it by British patrols. In the beginning of this month still, the house of Klein Frans van der Merve was similarly burnt by one of your patrols coming from the direction of Ramah. These cases are far from being the only ones.

“ With regard to our complaints that barbarians are encouraged by British officers to make attacks on Republican burgher forces, your Excellency quotes one of the instances, but, as it seems to us, without having been properly informed about the facts by your subordinates. The correctness of the allegation can be substantiated by good witnesses in spite of the denial of the probably guilty parties.

“ We beg to state, moreover, that we have in custody as prisoners of war two natives, both caught with arms in their hands fighting amongst the British troops against us. The one was made prisoner at Stormberg on 10th December. He went on firing at our burghers and wounded one of them, named Adriaan Greyling of Smithfield, after the white flag had been put up by the troops in token of surrender, as he could well see. The other Kaffir is one of many who are fighting against our burghers in the vicinity of Dordrecht [It is stated that in their attack on Derdepoort, Nov. 25,1899, the Bakalhla captured seventeen women and children, and two women were murdered, viz. Mrs. Pieters, an American wife of the storekeeper, and Anna M. M. Fourie. See Boer Fight for Freedom, chap. xv. By M. Davitt.] Not only at the attack at Derdepoort, on the boundary of Rustenburg, did natives, led by British officers, fight against our burghers and commit terrible crimes against our non-combatant women and children, whereby two women were murdered and houses were destroyed and burnt in the South African Republic, but in many other instances also, as at Tuli, Selukwe, and Mafeking, natives were egged on and used by British officers to fight against our burghers or to take up arms, as will, amongst others, appear from the following official communication. The Mafeking Mail of ioth November states: ‘The following official despatch was issued on the 4th November. The Colonial contingent under Captain Goodyear has done splendid service to-day in occupying a position at the brick-fields. The contingent, though opposed to a withering fire, maintained its position, and was supported in a capital manner by the Fingo contingent under Mr. David Webster.’

“ It also appears most clearly from official telegrams found in the English camp at Dundee that strong endeavours have been made by the British Government to enlist Basutos, against payment of five shillings per day, for military purposes: endeavours which have been successful in many instances.

“ With regard to your Excellency’s counter accusations against our burgher forces, it may be permitted us to point out that they are so undefined and vague that we are thereby precluded from either being enabled to investigate the same or replying thereto and giving explanations, possibly, of the instances to which reference is made. We unhesitatingly accept your Excellency’s assurance as to your instructions issued to the British troops regarding the subject under discussion, and we cherish the hope that thereby the desired results may be attained for the future. We also wish to assure you that the like instructions have long ago already been issued on our side, and that if such should prove necessary will be stringently enforced.

“ With regard to the sending away of certain of Her Majesty’s subjects from their dwellings to beyond the lines of those parts of the country occupied by our burgher forces, we can affirm to your Excellency that the instances where such — and that only quite recently — has occurred, it was necessary in the interest of our military operations, as in all instances there was at least strong presumption existing that they did not behave themselves quietly and occupy themselves solely with their daily avocations, but either themselves acted as spies or assisted spies to make our movements and positions known to the enemy. We regret the inconvenience and loss suffered by them, but we feel convinced that they themselves were the cause of it by their conduct. If any case be brought to our notice where a peaceable inhabitant of the parts occupied by us has been hardly or unjustly dealt by, we shall at once see to it that the sufferer shall have justice done him, as happened in a case brought to our notice of a certain Mr. Diebel, whose flock of sheep was confiscated on suspicion of being intended for use of our enemy’s troops in Kimberley, and to whom, on reasonably acceptable explanation being forthcoming, rebutting the suspicion, full compensation was made.

“The foregoing communication was ready for transmission when we received your Excellency’s supplementary telegram of the 12 th inst. We have caused an investigation to be instituted on the allegations therein made, and will send further communication as soon as we shall have received report.”

To this despatch Lord Roberts sent a short reply on the 24th of February—

"Paardeburg Camp, 3.45 p.m. Feb. 24, 1900.

(Received Pretoria 8.39 a.m. Feb. 28.)

“ I beg to acknowledge receipt of your Honours’ telegram of the 19th February, in which you complain of certain acts alleged to have been committed by the British troops, and in reply to acquaint you that it is impossible to inquire into these cases in ' the field after the lapse of so long a time since they are said to have occurred. I, however, am fully convinced that no wilful destruction of property by Her Majesty’s forces has taken place except such as was absolutely necessary for military purposes. In some cases where the Republican forces have threatened or violated native territory under British protection it has been found necessary to arm the natives to defend themselves, but I feel sure in no case have armed natives been employed in military operations with the Imperial forces. I am of opinion that such complaints as these would be much more satisfactorily inquired into if made by the military commander on the spot to the military commander opposite to him.”

The destruction of property by the Boers in Natal, and especially of the contents of the farm “ Longwood,” to which Lord Roberts called attention, was not apparently inquired into as promised by the Boer officials, no doubt owing to the rapid advance of the English forces which immediately followed. That case, and others of a similar nature, though not so widely advertised, were, however, carefully investigated by Mr. Robertson during his visit to Natal, and clearly shown by him to have been mainly the work of natives, though begun by Boers and completed by British troops [See Wrecking the Empire, chap, lxvii. etc. By J. M. Robertson.]

The official return of estimated damage done by the Boers in eleven Natal districts amounts to £32,138, 13s. This is the joint claim of 285 Europeans [Cd. 979 (1902)] It does not appear that any farm was burnt by the commandoes during the first invasion of Natal.

From these despatches we learn that before February eighteen farms in the Jacobsdal district alone, besides two near Rustenburg, had been burnt An equal number of families were therefore homeless, and others, frightened at the thought of a similar fate, piled their waggons with goods and fled to the fastnesses of the hills. Here they formed small laagers, protected by old men and boys. During the months of February and March, after Lord Roberts had joined the army, there seems to have been a lull, and a more settled feeling ensued, consequent on his influence and on the effects of the First Proclamation.

The day after the occupation of Bloemfontein, a proclamation was issued to the rank and file of the fighting burghers [Proc. iii., Bloemfontein, March 15, 1900.]

“ All Burghers who have not taken a prominent part in the policy which has led to the war between Her Majesty and the Orange Free State, or commanded any forces of the Republic, or commandeered or used violence to any British subjects, and who are willing to lay down their arms at once, and to bind themselves to an oath to abstain from further participation in the war, will be given passes to allow them to return to their homes, and will not be made prisoners of war, nor will their property be taken from them.”

It is a matter of common knowledge that this system of giving and taking an oath failed in its accomplishment, and the results of its failure fell hard on the women and children [For form of oath see Cd. 426, xli. (1900).] The English forces could not effectively occupy the country, and returning commandoes exercised their legal rights to compel burghers to join their ranks or be considered traitors. The next step, on the reappearance of the English troops, was the eviction of the family and the burning of the house as that of a man who had broken his oath. Moreover, the oath, nominally one of neutrality, was not always so considered in practice, and here was wide opening for misunderstanding. The people interpreted the word literally as meaning giving no help to either side; but constantly they found themselves punished because they did not report to one side the presence of the other upon their farms. Such a case in one of its many ramifications is that of Mr. Gideon De Wet, who has in consequence been undergoing two years hard labour as a convict while his wife and family pined in Bloemfontein Camp. On this account many homes were destroyed and many families rendered destitute.

Very little was heard in England of the farm-buming till May, by which time the accounts of war correspondents and private soldiers began to fill the papers, showing how general it had become. A few examples are given. The first, a letter from Private Stanton, must have been written in the early spring, being reprinted from the Sydney Telegraph.

“ Within 800 yards of the farm we halted, and the infantry blazed a volley into the house. Then we marched up to it, and on arrival found it locked up and not a soul to be seen, so we broke open the place and went in. It was beautifully furnished, and the officers got several things they could make use of, such as bedding, etc. There was a lovely library—books of all descriptions printed in Dutch and English. I secured a Bible, also a Mauser rifle. . . . After getting all we wanted out of it, our men put a charge under the house and blew it up. It seemed such a pity. It was a lovely house with a nice garden round it.” [Reynolds' Newspaper, May 27, 1900. Letter from Private Stanton, N.S.W. Contingent.] The Times correspondent, writing from Bloemfontein April the 27 th, says—

“This column (General Carew’s) had started with definite instructions from Lord Roberts 1 to render untenable ’ the farms of such men who, having surrendered, were found to be still in league with the enemy, or were but making use of British magnanimity as a means to save their property, while they still actively favoured the enemy.” [Times, May 21, 1900.]

And that these orders were liberally interpreted seems clear from the account of Mr. E. W. Smith, correspondent of the Morning Leader, dated April 29—

“ General French and General Pole-Carew, at the head of the Guards and 18th Brigade, are marching in, burning practically everything on the road. The brigade is followed by about 3500 head of loot, cattle and sheep. Hundreds of tons of corn and forage have been destroyed. The troops engaged in the work are Roberts’ Horse, the Canadians and Australians. I hear today that General Rundle burnt his way up to Dewetsdorp. At one farm only women were left. Still rifles were found under the mattress. Orders were inexorable. The woman threw her arms round the officer’s neck, and begged that the homestead might be spared. When the flames burst from the doomed place, the poor woman threw herself on her knees, tore open her bodice, and bared her breasts, screaming, * Shoot me, shoot me! I’ve nothing more to live for, now that my husband is gone, and our farm is burnt, and our cattle taken! ’ ”

Mr. Filson Young, author of the Relief of Mafeking, describes an afternoon’s work of this nature, and questions the wisdom of such methods—

“ Dry Harts Siding, May 8.

“ The burning of houses that has gone on this afternoon has been a most unpleasant business. We have been marching through a part of the country where some mischievous person has been collecting and encouraging insurgents, and this afternoon, in the course of about ten miles, we have burned no fewer than six farmhouses. Care seems to have been taken that there was proper evidence against the absent owner, and in no case were people actually bumed-out of their homes; but in one most melancholy case the wife of an insurgent, who was lying sick at a friend’s farm, watched from her sick husband’s bedside the burning of her home a hundred yards away. I cannot think that punishment need take this wild form; it seems as though a kind of domestic murder were being committed while one watches the roof and the furniture of a house blazing. I stood till late last night before the red blaze, and saw the flames lick round each piece of the poor furniture—the chairs and tables, the baby’s cradle, the chest of drawers containing a world of treasure; and when I saw the poor housewife’s face pressed against the window of the neighbouring house, my own heart burned with a sense of outrage. The effect on those of the Colonial troops, who in carrying out these orders of destruction are gratifying their feelings of hatred and revenge, is very bad. Their discipline is far below that of the Imperial troops, and they soon get out of hand. They swarm into the house, looting and destroying and filling the air with high-sounding cries of vengeance, and yesterday they were complaining bitterly that a suspected house, against the owner of which there was not sufficient evidence, was not delivered into their hands. Further, if these farms are to be confiscated, as the more vindictive loyalists desire, and given over to settlers, why burn the houses ? The new occupant will only have to build another homestead, and building is a serious matter where wood and the means of dressing stone are so very scarce as here. The ends achieved are so small—simply an exhibition of power and punishment, which, if it be really necessary, could be otherwise inflicted; and the evils, as one sees them on the spot, are many.” [See Manchester Guardian.]

Reuter’s telegrams during the month of May are full of the destruction of farms for one reason or another. In many cases abuse of the white flag was the reason assigned. On this point there seems to have been continual misunderstanding on both sides. No doubt there were occasional instances of its abuse, but more often a shot coming from no one knew where, and fired by no one knew who, was enough, without investigation, to condemn the nearest farm where women and children were living under the protection of the white flag. Such a case appears to have been that of Christian Richter’s house referred to in subsequent despatches, and described by Mr. E. W. Smith of the Morning Leader, who was with General Pole-Carew and General French.

“ May 21.

“ Two white flags were displayed over the house of Christian Richter; a shot was fired at random.

“ The first sight which met my gaze was that of a score of men, some with their feet on. the necks of turkeys, ducks, and fowls. Quicker than it takes me to tell the story, the women and children had been discovered in an outhouse; several troopers were occupied pouring paraffin about the flooring and walls of the house. Within five minutes the dwelling was ablaze. Still the womenfolk rushed in and out, trying to save what they could.”

That hundreds of families were rendered homeless thus early in the war is certain, and the fact is implied in the pregnant sentence written at this time by the special correspondent of the Daily Chronicle: “From end to end the Orange River Colony now lies ruined and starving.” [Dated May 28] There were, however, some districts which did not suffer till later.

The Government Return on farm-burning only begins, it will be remembered, with the month of June, and does not include any of the destruction described above by so many pens. It was, however, sufficiently apparent to the enemy, for in the middle of May General De Wet addressed one of his brief despatches to Lord Roberts. [Cd. 582.]

“ 19th May. Your Excellency’s telegram C. 1575. Justice to his Honour the State President of the Orange Free State. I have the honour to reply to your Excellency’s proclamation of 26th March. I have noted contents. I trust that the troops under your Excellency’s command who have acted or will act in opposition to said Proclamation will be heavily punished.

For your Excellency’s information, I have been permitted to bring to your notice the following farms and others, which have been destroyed by troops under your Excellency’s command, ie Perzikfontein, belonging to Commandant P. Fourii; Paardi Kraal, farm of P. Fourii, junior; and Leeuw Kop, farm of Christian Richter, all in the District of Bloemfontein. Re the other farms your Excellency will know about.”

Lord Roberts’ reply gives reasons for the burning in these instances, though from Mr. Smith’s description of the destruction of Richter’s farm, which he witnessed, no time to investigate the charge of treachery seems to have been allowed.

“C. 1737, 20th May. Your Honour’s telegram of 19th instant. I have taken ample measures to ensure the protection of public and private property by the troops under my command. At Perzikfontein stores of forage were destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of marauding bands which infested the district, but the house was not damaged.

“ Paardi Kraal and Leeuw Kop farms were destroyed under my orders, because, while a white flag was flying from the houses, my troops were fired upon from the farmsteads. I have had two farms near Kroonstad destroyed for similar reasons, and shall continue to punish all such cases of treachery by the destruction of the farms where they occur.”

The Annexation of the Orange River Colony was formally announced on the 24th of May, and on the 31st it was placed under Martial Law, “ as a temporary measure and until further notice ... as such law is understood and administered in British territory and by British officers.” [Cd. 426] The following day it was announced that fighting burghers would be dealt with as rebels. “ I hereby warn all inhabitants thereof, who after fourteen days from the date of this Proclamation may be found in arms against Her Majesty within the said colony, that they will be liable to be dealt with as rebels and to suffer in person and property accordingly.” [Proclamation, Cd. 426, xv. Johannesburg, June 1, 1900.]

Almost immediately followed the order of punishment when public property was damaged, such as railways and telegraph wires.

“ Pretoria, June 16. I . . . warn the said inhabitants and principal civil residents that, whenever public property is destroyed or injured in the manner specified above, they will be held responsible for aiding and abetting the offenders. The houses in the vicinity of the place where the damage is done will be burnt and the principal civil residents will be made prisoners of war.”

Within three days, as we read in the Times, [See Times, June 25.]  De Wet’s Farm near Rhenoster was burnt, and his family evicted, in pursuance of this order issued by Lord Roberts to burn the nearest farm wherever the railway or telegraph were damaged. [Pretoria, June 19.] It became difficult to see how any farm could escape destruction or any family homelessness. If a house did not fall within the scope of any of the foregoing proclamations, it probably fell under the ban of fighting generals or local commandants. Reuter telegraphed from Maseru that “ the Boers who are fighting in the Ficksburg district have been informed by General Rundle that unless they surrender by the 15 th their farms and all their possessions will be confiscated.” [Times, June 15, 1900.]

Forgetting the principle laid down in Lord Roberts’ despatch of February 5, “ It is barbarous to attempt to force men to take sides against their own sovereign and their country by threats of spoliation and expulsion,” General Rundle issued a notice under date June 30, calling upon all farmers to discontinue harbouring fighting burghers at night, and to give information of their whereabouts under penalty of the confiscation of their farms, the cancelling of payments due, and a heavy fine on their property. [Trommel, July 1. Times, July 3, 1900.]

A proclamation of sentences passed upon individuals was now issued at Bloemfontein.

Notice. [South African News, Sept 5. Proclamation printed by Argus Company, No. 602, Bloemfontein.]

“ Whereas by Proclamation dated the 16th day of June 1900 of Lord Roberts, Field-Marshal, Commanding in Chief Her Majesty’s Forces in South Africa, it was notified to, and the inhabitants and principal civil residents of the Orange River Colony and the South African Republic were warned, that whatever wanton damage to public property, such as Railways, Bridges, Culverts, Telegraph Wires, etc., took place, the houses of persons living in the neighbourhood would be burned, inasmuch as such destruction could not take place without their knowledge and connivance.

“ Now, therefore, it is hereby notified for general information that the following sentences have been passed in connection with the destruction of Property, Railways, etc., in the Orange River Colony, and have been approved and confirmed by Field-Marshal Lord Roberts.

“ Sentence.

“ The following persons to have their farms burned: ”—

A list of nearly forty persons is given whose farms are to be burnt, while many of the same are also fined. [ See Appendix.] Not one of these appears in the Government Farm-burning Return which covers that period—unless indeed the Return is so carelessly prepared that initials and names of farms bear no significance.

Captain Ritchie’s notice, published July 9 and modified on the 16th, is already well known.


“Public Notice.

“It is hereby notified for information, that unless the men at present on commando belonging to families in the town and district of Krugersdorp surrender themselves and hand in their arms to the Imperial authorities by 20th July, the whole of their property will be confiscated and their families turned out destitute and homeless.

“ By order,

“ G. H. M. Ritchie,

Capt. K. Horse, Dist. Supt. Police.

“ Krugersdorp, 9th July 1900.”

“ V.R.

“ Public Notice.

“ Notice is hereby given, that unless those persons of the town and district of Krugersdorp who are now on commando surrender themselves and their arms and ammunition and take the oath of neutrality, add further declare stock and supplies in their possession, before the 20th July 1900, the whole of their stock and supplies is liable to be confiscated.

“ The previous notice in this matter is cancelled.

“ By order,

“ G. H. M. Ritchie,

Capt. K. Horse, Dist. Supt. Police.

“ Krugersdorp, 16th July 1900.”

As a result of these two notices, a nucleus was formed which developed later into the Krugersdorp Camp. A telegram in the Times indicates this.

“ Krugersdorp, Aug. 24.

“ A patrol under Sir R. Colleton of the Welsh Fusiliers came into touch with the enemy’s scouts to-day. There was no fighting. A farmhouse was burnt, the owner being away on commando. The women and children were brought in here for shelter and food. They are being well looked after.” [Times, Aug. 27]

Another local order shows that burning and consequent eviction might be the penalty for a case of sniping on farms which were often wide in extent as an English parish—

“ Bloemfontein, Oct. 24.

“ O.C. Section. [See South African News, Oct. 31.]

“ The General Officer Commanding orders the following to be made known to all farmers in the vicinity of your section :—

“ In consequence of a case of sniping which occurred last night, he looks to them to co-operate with us in preventing these outrages; they can themselves or through their servants (white or black) scour the neighbourhood of their farms any evening. It will be his unpleasant duty in the event of a recurrence of this sniping to take very strong measures. In no case will the nearest farmer be let off without a fine up to £200. The G.O.C. will decide the amount; if the fine has no effect in inducing the farmers, he will burn the farm nearest the place of sniping,

“ The G.O.C. looks on the failure of the farmer to help as a justification of the measures to be taken to prevent this sniping.

“ This should be widely made known.

“ By order,

“ A. H. Maundin,

Lieut. S.O. to O.C. Troops.”

Official notes in various places put great pressure on the people, and under it a certain proportion succumbed. How hard it was for them to withstand must not be forgotten in the future by those of their neighbours who took the opposite view. Here is an instance of a note given to a quiet woman alone on her farm in the Transvaal with three children, her husband a hundred miles distant on commando, and sick.

“ From the Commandant, Paardekop, to Field-Cornet Franz-Badenhorst.

" I wish to point out to you the strong advisability of surrendering without delay. If you surrender voluntarily now you will be treated with leniency, and probably will not be transported, and at the end of the war you will be allowed to return to your wife and farm. I warn you that if you do not surrender your farm will be burnt and your cattle taken within a fortnight.

(Signature) “V., Lieut. Camp-Adjutant.

“ Place, Paardekop, 2/10/1900.”

A similar note was left with the sister of this woman and another neighbour—their cattle were taken before the order] expired. Twelve days after the receipt of the order the place » was burnt. Several women from Heidelberg have said they had a notice in Dutch put on their houses, and a notice in English given them, as follows:—

“ The contents of this house—all the live stock and eatables of-----, who is on commando, is confiscated.

“ J. M. V., District Commander.

" Heidelberg, Oct. 31, 1900.”

One of the latest of these notices was that of General Bruce Hamilton of November 1.


“ The town of Ventersburg has been cleared of supplies and partly burnt, and the farms in the vicinity destroyed, on account of the frequent attacks on the railway line in the neighbourhood. The Boer women and children who are left behind should apply to the Boer commandants for food, who will supply them unless they wish to see them starve. No supplies will be sent from the railway to the town.

(Signed) “Bruce Hamilton, Major-General.

“ Nov. 1,1900.”

Only a few extracts can be given here from the writings of soldiers, war correspondents, and others, who draw a picture of the state of things brought about under these various proclamations and notices. Riding from Bloemfontein to Kimberley, the correspondent of the Manchester Guardian thus describes the country in July—

“ The way is a line of desolation; the farmhouses have not merely been sacked, they have been savagely destroyed. The mirrors have been smashed, the pianos wrecked, children’s toys and books wantonly destroyed. Even the buildings themselves have been burned and seriously damaged.”

“ Between Bloemfontein and Boshof,” says the Cape Argus,

“ some thirty or forty homesteads have been burnt down—utterly destroyed. That is only one route. Many others have been burnt down also. Their homes destroyed, women and children have been turned out on to the veld in the bitter South African winter."[Cape Argus, June 21]

“ Yesterday (September 21),” we read in the Natal Witness, “your correspondent went on a house-burning expedition (in O.R.C.) under Colonel H. B. Cumming of the Kaffrarians. During the day sixteen houses were destroyed. Many of the homesteads were occupied, and it was pitiful to see the women and children removing the furniture from the house before it was fired. The system of house-burning will probably have a good effect on the rebellious Boers ; but I regret to say that the system is not carried out in a consistent manner." [Natal Witness, Sept. 1900.]

The Cape Times correspondent at Winburg says—

“ Along the line of march General Campbell has practically denuded the country of live-stock and grain stores, whilst the sight of burning farmhouses and farm property is of daily occurrence. A number of old men, many sickly, who until recently held good-conduct passes, have been made prisoners, and accompany the column. There are cases where women and children, the families of prisoners of war either at Green Point or Ceylon, have been reduced to utter destitution, and are subsisting upon the charity of their neighbours, who, however, are but little better off than themselves.”

That the task assigned them was in most cases uncongenial, seems evident from the feeling often expressed in the rough descriptions of the soldiers. It would be tedious to insert here more than one or two samples of letters which dated from all parts of the two Republics, and reiterated the story of burning and pillage.

“ Bethlehem, July 8, 1900.

“ Since we are with Clements we have had plenty of work burning 'farms. It is very hard sometimes. Last Sunday six of us went out with an Imperial officer to a fine farmhouse, giving the occupants five minutes to clear out all their goods as well as themselves. There were an old grandmother, three married daughters, and several children, crying and asking for mercy, but no, when the time was up we burned it to the ground." [Trooper Morris, Brabant’s Horse, Morning Leader.]

" Bethlehem, Sept. 22.

" For the past month we have had some, although exciting, very unpleasant work—namely, that of burning farms of those still fighting—I assure you in some instances very heart-rending.

In one case twenty of our fellows rode up to a farm and told a woman and two daughters to take a few things and quit in ten minutes. We then cleared out everything and set the whole place on fire. The mother and two daughters dropped on their knees and prayed and sang, weeping bitterly all the time. One of the girls went to an organ and commenced singing some hymns. They sang ‘Rock of Ages,* and then commenced to laugh loud and long hysterically, muttering all the time. A doctor who saw her before we came away tried to soothe her, but the poor woman had then gone raving mad.—Yours, etc., [Received by Mr. C. A. Harrison, King’s Arms Hotel, Wood Green. Published in Tottenham Herald and South African News of Dec. 12. [Received by Mr. C. A. Harrison, King’s Arms Hotel, Wood Green. Published in Tottenham Herald and South African News of Dec. 12.]

“ Arthur.”

“ Senekal, Sept. 23.

“To-day we marched into Senekal, and the Boers retired towards Bethlehem. For the last four or five days we have been burning the farms of the men who are absent from home and who are suspected of being away fighting for the Boers. If the farmer was away, down the house had to come. No matter whatever the wife said to excuse her husband, the farm was destroyed. The farms burned well, there’s no mistake. But we gave the wives time to get everything out of the houses they wanted before setting fire to them. I must say that I felt very sorry for the poor little children who were turned out of their home. They had, I suppose, to sleep in the open. The women did not seem to care a bit; but it must have been all right to stand by and see their homes set on fire.”— ' Barnet Press. [Private H. Philpott, 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment. Morning Leader, Nov. 1, 1900.]

Mr. Hervey de Montmorency, writing later in the Daily News, gives his recollection of the period with which we are now dealing in these words—

“ When we retreated from Rustenburg in August of last year, after the evacuation of that town, every building in the neighbourhood of the northern-most road to Commando Nek was burned to the ground without discrimination. No single ' act of treachery on the part of the Boers occurred on the road.

It would be interesting to know what was the motive for the malignant destruction of these farms. I speak of things I know, * quteque ipse miserrima vidi."[Sec Daily News, June 22, 1901.]

Captain March Phillipps’ fuller story coincides with the above—

“ Hospital, Kroonstad, Sept. 6.

“ . . . The various columns that are now marching about the country are carrying on the work of destruction pretty indiscriminately, and we have burnt and destroyed by now many scores of farms. Ruin, with great hardships and want, which may ultimately border on starvation, must be the result to many families. ... I had to go myself the other day, at the General’s bidding, to burn a farm near the line of march. We got to the place, and I gave the inmates, three women and some children, ten minutes to clear their clothes and things out of the house, and my man then fetched bundles of straw and we proceeded to burn it down. The old grandmother was very angry. She told me though I was making a fine blaze now it was nothing compared to the flames that I myself should be consumed in hereafter. [With Rimington, Letter xxiii. p. 187, by L. March Phillipps.] Most of them, however, were too miserable to curse. The women cried, and the children stood by holding on to them and looking with large frightened eyes at the burning house. They won’t forget that sight, I’ll bet a sovereign, not even when they grow up. We rode away and left them, a forlorn little group, standing among their household goods—beds, furniture, and gimcracks strewn about the veld; the crackling of the fire in their ears, and smoke and flame streaming overhead. The worst moment is when you first come to the house. The people thought we had called for refreshments, and one of the women went to get milk. Then we had to tell them that we had come to burn the place down. I simply didn’t know which way to look. One of the women’s husbands had been killed at Magersfontein. There were others, men and boys, away fighting; whether dead or alive they did not know.

“I give you this as a sample of what is going on pretty generally. Our troops are everywhere at work burning and laying waste, and enormous reserves of famine and misery are being laid up for these countries in the future.”

Finally, we have the account of General Smuts given in his Report, [Report of General John Smuts to Mr. Steyn. Published by the New Age.] part of which refers to the months now before us—

“ I feel altogether incapable of giving a description, even a mere sketch, of the devastation brought about by the enemy; of the pains and troubles caused to us, which have touched the hearts of our women and children as if they had been pierced by steel.

“ Let me take as an example that part of the Krugersdorp district situated between the Magalies and Witwaters mountains; one of the most beautiful, most fertije, and best cultivated parts of South Africa, the so-called ‘fillet.* When I came to these parts in July 1900, the land was green with an uninterrupted series of cultivated fields, gardens, and charming houses and farmsteads, a delight to the eye, and a proof of what our people had been able to do with respect to agriculture in half a score of years. And now? It is now a withered, barren waste; all the fields have been destroyed, the trees of the gardens cut down or pulled up by the roots; the homesteads burnt down, the houses in many cases not only destroyed by fire but blown up by dynamite, so that not a stone was left unturned; a refuge only for the night-owl and the carrion-birds. Where, till lately, everything was life, prosperity, and cheerfulness, death now reigns. No living animal, no woman, no child, not even a Kaffir woman, is seen but with the traces of anxiety, misery, nay, even with starvation, distinctly visible in their faces.

“Oh! one needs the pen of Isaiah or Jeremiah to be able to describe these horrors of destruction. . . . But I want to give another example of the manner in which our dear country is being destroyed.

“In the afternoon, I went on a scouting tour along the Doornrivier (a tributary of the Elands River), which part had been visited by the army of General Douglas the day before. I was well acquainted with this neighbourhood, as our forces had encamped here when the camp of Colonel Hore on the Elands River had been besieged. It was night, but the moon was out, when I arrived there. My companion and myself came to the first farm, and found that everything had been destroyed and burnt down here. I came to the second farm, which had not been burned down, but plundered, and not a living soul was left in it; that same night I passed by some twelve or fourteen farms successively, which had all been burnt down or looted, and not a living being left behind in them. Truly, it rather resembled a haunted place than that magnificent thriving neighbourhood which I had left in all its glory about a month before. Late that night I lay down to sleep in the yard of one of these deserted places. Everything in that beautiful property (Doornkom) had been plundered and destroyed. The owner, Mr. Mostert, is a prisoner of war in St. Helena, his wife has died, and some little orphans were left behind alone, with some relations. But even their innocence and youth, and the exile of their father, could not satisfy the vindictiveness of the enemy. That night I reflected upon the fate of the many families of that district, and in the morning I found to my great surprise that they all appeared from the neighbouring hills like badgers from the ground. The women had fled with their children to those parts, thinking that they were safer with the wild beasts in the field than under the protection of the colours and armies of Her Majesty. . . . That afternoon I rode from Boksloot to Coster River, where I met with the same devastation and misery. No fewer than seven families, consisting of women and little children, were living under the trees in the open air, in spite of the heavy rains. Even the tents had been burnt.”

The document goes on to mention the Generals responsible for this devastation.

The condition of families in July was so serious as to evoke another protest from the Commandant General of the Boer forces—

“ To my regret I must again approach your Excellency with reference to the wanton destruction or damaging of private properties, and also the inhuman treatment and even assaults on helpless women and children by Her Britannic Majesty’s troops in the South African Republic.[General Botha to Lord Rolierts, July 4, 1900.]

“ Complaints are repeatedly reaching me that private dwellings are plundered, and in some cases totally destroyed, and all provisions taken from women and children, so that they are compelled to wander about without food or covering. To quote several instances:—It has just been brought to my notice by way of sworn affidavit that the house of Field-Comet S. Buys, on the farm Leeuwspruit, district Middelburg, was set on fire and destroyed on the 20th June last.[This is not included in the Government Return, Cd. 524.] His wife, who was at home, was given five minutes’ time to remove her bedding and clothing, and even what she took out was again taken from her. Her food, sugar, etc., was all taken, so that for herself and her children she had neither covering nor food for the following night. She was asked for the key of the safe, and after it was given up by her she was threatened with a sword, and money was demanded. All the money that was in the house was taken away, all the papers in the safe were tom up, and everything at the homestead that could not be taken away was destroyed. The house of Field-Comet Buys* son was also destroyed, the doors and windows broken, etc.

“ It has also been reported to me that my own buildings on the farm Varkenspruit, district Standerton, as well as the house of Field-Comet Badenhorst, on the adjoining farm, have been totally destroyed, and such of the stock as was not removed was shot dead on the farm. [These are not mentioned in the Government Return.]

“ Further, there is the sworn declaration of Mrs. Hendrik Badenhorst, which speaks for itself—

“ I cannot believe that such godless barbarities take place with your Excellency’s consent, and thus I deem it my solemn duty to protest most strongly against such destruction and vindictiveness as being entirely contrary to civilised warfare.

“ I trust that your Excellency will take all the necessary measures to punish the doers of such deeds, and in the interest of humanity I call on your Excellency to use all your power and authority to put an end to the devastation wrought by the troops under your Excellency’s command.”

A few days later General De Wet makes similar complaint in relation to the Free State, though he makes no mention of the destruction of his own farm or consequent eviction of his own family—

“ Field near Bethlehem, July 10

“ Your Excellency,—It is with a feeling of great indignation that I have from day to day noticed the reckless devastation of property in this State by the troops under your Excellency’s command. Houses and other property are under all manner of excuses destroyed and burnt, and defenceless women and children are treated with scorn, and driven on foot out of the houses to seek accommodation under the bare heavens. Through such action great unnecessary suffering is caused. Amongst many others, this has happened to the following, viz:—

“ Near Lindley: the farms of Hermanns Pieterse, Jacobus Pieterse, Christian Hattuigh, Roelof Fourie, Adriaan Cilliers, Daniel Momberg, and Gert Rautenbach. [None of these seem identical with any named in the Government Return.]

“Near Heilbron: of Hendrik Meyer, Mathys Lourens, and Jan Vosloo.

“ Everything belonging to these persons has been burnt and destroyed.

“ The wife of General Roux, at Senekal, has been driven out of the manse, while the wife of Mr. J. G. Luyt, at Heilbron, was treated very scornfully, and the wife of Commandant P. H. de Villiers has been driven from two houses at Ficksburg. There are many other cases which have been brought to my notice, but for my purpose it is not necessary to send your Excellency a complete list.

“ I trust that, in the name of our common civilisation and humanity, your Excellency will have the culprits punished, and prevent the perpetration of such acts in the future.

“ However, should the troops under your Excellency’s command continue to unnecessarily devastate the country in a manner contrary to the principles of civilised warfare, I shall feel obliged, however much against my own feelings, to take such reprisals on the houses and goods of British subjects in the Orange Free State, as well as of British subjects in the Cape Colony and in Natal, as I may think proper, in order to put a stop to these atrocities.

“Imbued with the desire to carry on this unfortunate struggle in terms of the dictates of humanity, I have felt obliged to write your Excellency this letter, trusting that your Excellency will receive and consider same in the same spirit in which it is written."

The following replies to the two Boer leaders were sent by Lord Roberts. He gives General Botha a detailed answer refuting the charge in the case of Mrs. Badenhorst, and goes on to say—

“ fu/y 28.

“ I have not yet received replies from General Officer Commanding Standerton, as to the alleged destruction of buildings on your Honour’s and the adjoining farm. I hope the reports may prove unfounded, as I have given most stringent orders that except in certain cases where railway or telegraph line has been cut, or our troops fired upon from farms, homesteads are not to be destroyed. As far as I know, up to the 4th July, the date of your letter, none of our troops were in the Middelburg district.”[Cd. 582.]

The despatch to General De Wet contains no detailed answer to the instances enumerated by him—

“ Pretoria, Aug. 3.

“ I have to-day received through General Sir A. Hunter your letter dated 10th July 1900.

“ As your Honour is well aware, the utmost consideration has invariably been shown to every class of inhabitant of the Orange River Colony since the British troops under my command entered the country.

“ Latterly, many of my soldiers have been shot from farmhouses over which the white flag has been flying, the railway and telegraph lines have been cut, and trains wrecked. I have therefore found it necessary, after warning your Honour, to take such steps as are sanctioned by the customs of war to put an end to these and similar acts, and have burned down the farmhouses at or near which such deeds have been perpetrated. This I shall continue to do whenever I consider the occasion demands it.

“ Women and children have thus been rendered homeless through the misdeeds of the burghers under your Honour’s command, but your Honour has been misinformed as to these poor people having been badly treated, as everything possible has invariably been done to lessen the discomforts inseparable from such evictions.

“ The remedy lies in your Honour’s own hands. The destruction of property is most distasteful to me, and I shall be greatly pleased when your Honour’s co-operation in the matter renders it no longer necessary.”

Not satisfied with the answer received from the Commander-in-Chief, General Botha wrote again—

“ Aug. 15.

“ On inquiry I have discovered that it is a fact, which I can have supported by affidavits, that well-disposed families living on farms are driven from their houses, and all their property taken away or destroyed. In every case the private conveyances are taken away, so that there are instances where women with their children who, deprived of their property in this manner, were obliged to walk for miles in order to seek for food, shelter, and protection from our burghers. I cannot here refrain from remai&ing that, in such cases, the action of the troops under your Excellency’s command very much exceeds the teachings of civilised warfare.

“ I bring these facts to your Excellency’s notice because I cannot believe that they are your Excellency’s instructions, and as it is done by the troops under your Excellency’s supreme command, I expect that your Excellency will make an end to these atrocious deeds and barbarous actions.

“ In this connection I wish to remark that everywhere small

bodies of troops are captured far from their main force, and who allege that they are scouts, but who in point of fact go about to rob, and that it cannot be expected that such robbers, when captured, be in future treated as prisoners of war.

“ The case of the house of Acting-Commandant Buys mentioned by me in my letter of the 4th July last was in the district of Heidelberg and not in the district of Middelburg, as your Excellency appears to think. This arbitrary destruction of houses still continues, and I must again most strongly protest against same.

“ I also wish to bring to your Excellency’s notice that in many cases houses in which are only women and children are now bombarded.”

This despatch evoked a short stern reply from Lord Roberts—

" Pretoria, Aug. 23, 1900.

“ Your Honour represents that well-disposed families living on their farms have been driven from their houses, and that their property has been taken away or destroyed. This no doubt is true, but not in the sense which your letter would imply. Burghers who are well-disposed towards the British Government, and anxious to submit to my authority, have had their property seized by the Boer commandoes, and have been threatened with death if they refused to take up arms against the British forces. Your Honour’s contention that a solemn oath of neutrality which the burghers have voluntarily taken in order to remain in unmolested occupation of their farms is null and void because you have not consented to it is hardly open to discussion. I shall punish those who violate their oath and confiscate their property, no burgher having been forced to take the oath against his will.”

The misunderstanding which was evident finds some explanation in this passage written from South Africa by Mr. J. M. Robertson—

“Capetown, Aug. 13, 1900.

“ I have already told how, according to trustworthy reports received up-country, there occurred in the Free State acts of blundering provocation of the sort that have abounded under martial law in the Colony. I now learn, on very high authority, that in addition to these there occurred wholesale provocation by some provosts-marshal, and acts of so-called vengeance which were really gross miscarriages of justice. Much has been said of Boers firing on British soldiers from farms which flew the white flag. What actually happened again and again was that women and non-combatants flew the white flag on a homestead, and that armed Boers carried on hostile operations on other parts of such farms without any regard to the doings of those in the farmhouse, which might be miles off—a Boer farm being often as large as an English parish.

“ But when farm-burning was once begun, it was not restricted to cases where the white flag could be pretended to have been misused. Many were burned on the sole ground that the owner was absent, presumably on commando. Even at this stage, different generals proceeded on different principles, just as has happened under martial law in the Colony. Some burned, and some spared. A concrete case, reported in a telegram, will serve to show how things are going in the Transvaal—

“4 Johannesburg, Aug. 17.—On Tuesday evening, Private Richards, of the Railway Pioneers, was mysteriously shot near Witpoorje, four miles from Krugersdorp. He was doing patrol duty, and when picked up yesterday he had five bullet wounds, including one through the head. As he was sniped by some resident in the vicinity, the people were called upon to produce the murderer. As they did not, some four houses were demolished, and the occupants sent to Johannesburg.’ ” [Morning Leader, Sept. 1900.]

The confusion in the minds of the burghers was not lessened when on August 14 another proclamation was issued repealing either the whole or important parts of previous promises. Under Section 6 of this, a man who had given and was keeping his oath of neutrality became guilty if he failed to “ acquaint Her Majesty’s Forces with the presence of the Enemy.” [No. 12 of 1900.] In a word, he must no longer be neutral. Commenting on this and other passages in this proclamation, under which concentration becomes almost inevitable, the St James's Gazette says—

“ We pointed out that it would be more business-like on our part to adopt the policy of General Weyler’s ‘reconcentration order’ in Cuba. After delays, Lord Roberts has come round to our way of thinking. We observe, not without some amusement, that this adaptation of the methods of General Weyler has met with general approval, and is only mildly condemned in quarters where it once would have caused able editors to fill the heavens with eloquence. There are reasons not unconnected with the sale of papers for the change of tone. Where the women and children give active help—then all are combatants. In any case we have undertaken to conquer the Transvaal, and if nothing will make that sure except the entire removal of the Dutch inhabitants, they must be removed—men, women, and children. They (the Dutch) would be justified in shooting every Englishman, in refusing to give quarter, and in killing the wounded.” [St James's Gazette, Aug. 20, 1900.]

Their correspondent in South Africa appeared to take a different view of the working of the same proclamation, for, writing from Ficksburg, he says—

“. . . On the night of September 6 General Campbell reached Generals Nek. . . . Generals Nek is three hours, or about twenty miles, from here. Colonel Oakes wished to send despatches to him, and I volunteered to ride there. On my arrival at Generals Nek I talked for some time with General Campbell, as, in addition to the despatches, there was much information to be given by word of mouth. On discovering that I knew the district and the inhabitants, through having worked for some two months under the District Commissioner, Major White, he requested, or rather ordered, me to remain in camp that night and to march with him the following day.

“ The General told me that he had received orders to * sweep ’ the country, and a view of his following soon made it obvious that he had not failed to carry out his orders. All farms on the line of march were cleared of horses, cattle, sheep, waggons, carts, etc., the forage being burnt, and the owners bidden to join the ranks of the prisoners, of whom there were already a goodly number. In several cases I ventured humbly to point out that many of these men, in fact most of them, had been paroled, and allowed to return to their farms, and had received a protection certificate for their property from the District Commissioner. Some of them were Britishers, who rather than take up arms against their country had sacrificed all and taken refuge in Basutoland. My pleas were of no avail. All who had once been on commando, in spite of having been paroled, were retaken prisoners. Britishers were allowed to remain at liberty, but their live stock was taken and their stacks burnt. I knew that in many cases our leniency had not been appreciated, and that such punishment was thoroughly deserved. But it was with mingled feelings of dismay and regret that I beheld the work of settlement on which we had been employed for more than two months all upset in a couple of days. I was afterwards given a copy of a proclamation issued by Lord Roberts on August 14, on which General Campbell based the justification of his action. The meeting between General Campbell and Captain Ward, Assistant Commissioner for the Lady Brand and Ficksburg Districts of the Orange River Colony, was anything but a pleasant one. Each had been carrying out a policy antagonistic to the other, and for a very simple reason. We had never received any notification of the proclamation of August 14, and we had consequently been working in accordance with those of earlier dates. Why we have never received any copy of the proclamation from the authorities at Bloemfontein is inexplicable. I observed that the proclamation was issued ‘to the inhabitants of the South African Republic.’ I am still wondering whether it is intended to be applied to the inhabitants of the Orange River Colony. General Campbell assured us that it was so intended.”[Ficksburg, Sept. 14, St, James's Gazette, Oct. 17, 1900.

Comparatively few people have read the correspondence which took place at this date between Lord Roberts and General Botha on the subject of the expulsion of the women. It was first published in the Handelsblad% subsequently in the Manchester Guardian—

Lord Roberts to General Botha.

“ Sept. 2, 1900.

“ Sir,—I beg to address your Honour in regard to the actions of the comparatively small bands of armed Boers who conceal themselves in the neighbourhood of our lines of communication, and who constantly endeavour to destroy the railroad, thereby endangering the lives of passengers, both combatants and non-combatants, travelling by the trains.

“ 2. I address your Honour on this subject because, with the exception of the districts occupied by the army under your Honour’s personal command, there are now no properly organised Boer armies in the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, and the war degenerates into the actions of irregular and irresponsible guerillas. This would be detrimental to the country, and so regrettable from every point of view that I feel compelled to do all in my power to prevent it.

“ 3. In order to put these views into practice, I have issued instructions that the Boer farmhouses near the spot where an effort has been made to destroy the railroad or to wreck the trains shall be burnt, and that from all farmhouses for a distance of ten miles around such a spot all provisions, cattle, etc., shall be removed.

“ 4. In connection with the foregoing, the time has also arrived when I must again refer to my despatch C. in C., 670 of August 5, 1900, which your Honour answered on August 15. I feel that when the war has once entered upon the stage of irregular or guerilla fighting, I should be neglecting my duty towards the national interests if I continued to allow the families of those who still fight against us to live in towns which are guarded by our forces. This is no longer a matter of commissariat, but rather of policy, and in order to protect ourselves against the transmission of news to our enemies. I would therefore consider it a favour if your Honour would warn all burghers on commando whose families are living in districts occupied by our troops, to make timely preparation for receiving and sheltering their families. The expulsion of these families will commence within a few days, a start being made with those now in Pretoria. They will travel by rail to the British outposts, to be then transferred to the person whom your Honour might appoint for their reception. I will keep your Honour informed of the number that may be expected from day to day, and I take this opportunity of informing your Honour that since nearly all the carriages of the Netherlands South African Railway Company have been removed eastwards, the families, to my regret, will mostly have to travel in open trucks. I will endeavour to provide Mrs. Kruger, Mrs. Botha, and as many of the other ladies as possible with closed carriages, but as I am not certain of succeeding in finding one, I desire to suggest to your Honour that you should forward suitable carriages for them. I need not tell you how repugnant these measures are to me, but I am obliged to resort to the same by the evidently firm resolve on the part of yourself and your burghers to continue the war, although any doubt as to the ultimate result thereof has now ceased to exist.—I have the honour to be your obedient servant.”

The answer to this letter was prompt—

General Botha to Lord Roberts.

“ Sept. 6, 1900,

“ Inasmuch as our entire armed force is only a small one in comparison with that of your Excellency, it cannot, of course, be expected that strong commandoes should be in the field everywhere, and it naturally follows that now, as during the war, what is incumbent upon us must be done by small forces. Moreover, we have been compelled to still further scatter our commandoes

in order to be able to check the looting patrols, under your Excellency’s chief command, who scour the country to carry off cattle and provisions from the different farms.

“ 2. As regards your contention that, with the exception of the burgher forces under my command, no other Boer forces should be in existence, I most strongly deny this, since our armed forces are still disposed and directed in the same manner as in the beginning of the war, and in accordance with the country’s laws.

“ 3. In paragraph 3 of your letter, with which I am now dealing, it is already known to me that barbarous actions of this kind are committed by your troops, under your command, not only alongside or near the railway, but also in places far removed from railways. Wherever your troops move, not only are houses burned down or bbwn up with dynamite, but defenceless women and children are ejected, robbed of all food and cover, and all this without any just cause existing for such proceedings.

“ 4. With regard to paragraph 4 of your Excellency’s letter, I extremely regret to learn that my burghers’ and my own determination to persevere in the struggle for our independence is to be visited on our wives and children, and this is the first instance of this kind known to me in the history of civilised warfare. I can only protest against your proposed measures as being in opposition to all principles of civilised warfare and excessively cruel toward the women and children, cruel especially towards elderly women, and above all towards the wife of His Honour the President of this State, who, as you must be well aware, is not able to travel without risk to her life, so that it would be simply murder to compel her to undertake such a journey. The pretext alleged by you, viz., that by so doing your Excellency desires to protect yourself against transmission of information to us, clearly lacks all substance, since such proceedings were not considered necessary at a time when our troops were encamped in the immediate neighbourhood of Pretoria. It is needless to state that we have never, by means of women and children, received information regarding operations of war.

“ 5. If your Excellency still intends to persevere in carrying out your Excellency’s plan, which I hope will not be the case, I request your Excellency to give me timely notice of the period and particulars of the expulsion, as I wish to arrange for the direct transport of the families to Europe. With regard to your Excellency’s remark about proper accommodation, I am prepared to send proper carriages to a place to be indicated, and also, if required, a cog-wheel engine for the track between Waterval

Boven and Waterval Onder, provided that your Excellency guarantees the safe return of such carriages and engine.

“ 6. In conclusion, I desire to give you the assurance that nothing you may do to our women and children will deter us in continuing the struggle for our independence.”

On September 7 Lord Roberts again urges his reasons for the rigorous metdods which appear to have increased throughout September and October—

Lord Roberts to General Botha.

“ Sept. 7, 1900.

“ I beg again to direct your Honour’s attention to paragraphs 2 and 3 of my letter dated 2nd September, in which I pointed out that, except in the districts occupied by the Army under your Honour’s personal command, the war is degenerating, and has degenerated, into operations carried on in an irregular and irresponsible manner by small and, in very many cases, insignificant bodies of men. Your Honour’s own statement that your commandoes are being more and more split up, bears this out, and I am convinced that, except within a district which is daily becoming more restricted, your Honour can exercise little or no control over these guerilla bodies.

“ I should be failing in my duty to Her Majesty’s Government and to Her Majesty’s Army in South Africa, if I neglected to use every means in my power to bring such irregular warfare to a conclusion. The measures which I am compelled to adopt are those which the customs of war prescribe as being applicable to such cases; they are ruinous to the country, entail endless suffering on your Honour’s fellow-countrymen, and must, I regret to inform your Honour, necessarily become more and more rigorous.”

General Botha replied from Warmbaths, Oct. 17—

“ I regret to note that the barbarous actions of your Excellency’s troops, such as the blowing up and destruction of private dwellings and the removal of all food from the families of the fighting burghers, against which I have already been obliged to protest, have not only met with your Excellency’s approval, but are done on your Excellency’s special instructions. This spirit of revenge against burghers who are merely doing their duty according to law, may be regarded as civilised warfare by your Excellency, but certainly not by me. I feel obliged to bring to your Excellency’s notice the fact that I have resolved to carry on the war in the same humane manner as hitherto, but should

I be compelled by your Excellency’s action to take reprisals, then the responsibility thereof will rest with your Excellency.”

So far as appears from the Blue Books, the correspondence between the two Generals ends with this announcement from Lord Roberts—

“ Pretoria, Oct. 22, 1900.

“ With regard to the remark of your Honour, as to the state of organisation which exists among the burgher forces at the present moment, I am compelled to point out to your Honour that their tactics are not those usually associated with organised forces, but have degenerated into a guerilla warfare which I shall be compelled to repress by those exceptional methods which civilised nations have at all times found it obligatory to use under like circumstances.”

It has been since recognised that the Boer warfare, though guerilla in some methods, was carried on throughout under an organised system, and at its remarkable close there was absolute order and discipline.

Meantime the families rendered homeless by all these military operations were seeking refuge, some in neighbouring farms, or even Kaffir kraals, others in laagers formed by the Boers; others, again, in hiding-places among the hills. A few fled to friends in Cape Colony, while a considerable number flocked into the towns, where it soon became necessary to provide them with food. In Lord Roberts’ report from Pretoria, July 2, he mentions that several families of men fighting against us were » being fed, and some of them were in a state of destitution.[See Times, July 4] From the middle of July it became evident that the women and children who were homeless had so swelled in number that it was becoming a serious problem how to deal with them. Far away near Mafeking a camp was formed in this month where some of the wanderers in the north-western districts were received, but no other was yet established, only laagers formed by the Boers for their protection. It was midwinter, and the cold at night very intense. Charitable people in some of the towns tried to stem the tide of distress by taking out waggon-loads of supplies to country districts, but military rigour soon made this impracticable. It was resolved that the responsibility of feeding these families should be shifted on to the shoulders of the burghers. Telegrams at that period speak of a proclamation calling upon the wives of Boers still fighting to report themselves [Pretoria, July 18. Reuter.] with a view to being sent into the enemy’s lines, and describe waggon loads of women and children leaving the town for that purpose.[Reuter, July 19. See also South African News, Aug. 22.] This eviction was carried out at Johannesburg, where, on the authority of the correspondent of the Daily Telegraphy we are told that “on August 10 and the following days trains left the town conveying 1550 children and 450 women.” We have seen in Lord Roberts’ letter to General Botha his proposal to carry out this plan at Pretoria on a large scale, including such ladies as Mrs. Kruger and Mrs. Louis Botha, who were not themselves amongst those receiving rations from the military authorities. In the end these ladies were not molested, and the eviction was, it is believed, confined to women of a class unable to support themselves.

Soon after the Proclamation of August 14 a new feature presented itself, in the voluntary arrival and submission of occasional refugees, who brought in their families and stock, hoping by this means to save themselves from the transportation or imprisonment threatened by Lord Roberts. With the exception of the Western District refugees already in July formed into the camp near Mafeking, the first intimation of these bond fide refugees seems to be in Lord Roberts’ report of September 3, where he speaks of an officer at Eerste Fabricken reporting that ten men, with several women and children, had come into camp, bringing with them their cattle, waggons, and carts.[Times, Sept. 3.]

In various localities a few of these men appeared and sought protection for themselves and their goods. It became an instant duty to provide for them, and on 22nd September General Maxwell issued the order which established the system of Refugee Camps.

“ Camps for Burghers who voluntarily surrender are being formed in Pretoria and at Bloemfontein.’’

“ J. G. Maxwell, Major-General, Military Governor.

“ Pretoria, Sept. 22, 1900.” [Government Notice No. iii. of 1900, Sec. 4.]

This is the first official notice of the formation of camps. They really were Refugee Camps in that they were established for that class of person. Had they been true to their name, and kept for refugees only, they would have remained small in size and few in number. Till about this period the people of the land had been as one body. But now a rift was formed which widened and deepened as the months rolled on. The individuals who feared transportation, imprisonment, or material loss [See Proclamation No. 12 of 1900. Cd. 426.] surrendered and came in as refugees, and a distinction was formed between them and the great mass of the people who remained patriots and were known as “undesirables.” From General Botha’s point of view, it became necessary to nullify the terrorizing effect of a proclamation which was weaning some of the people from allegiance to their country, and he issued a circular reminding the people of their duties and threatening punishment for those who laid down their arms. It was clear that from one side or the other suffering must come.

This Circular of the Boer Generals, dated Roos, Senekal, October 6, 1900, is the subject of an extraordinary error in the Blue Books. Lord Kitchener in his despatch of December 6, 1901 (Cd. 902), quotes General Botha as saying in this Circular : “Do everything in your power to prevent the burghers laying down their arms. I will be compelled, if they do not listen to this, to confiscate everything movable or immovable, and also to bum their houses.”

But the Circular referred to contained no such sentence. The words quoted are taken, as appears from the White Paper (Cd. 663, p. 5) published six months earlier, from a letter from General Botha to the Landdrost of Bethal, in which the Circular was enclosed. The Circular itself is given at length in Mr. Davitt’s recent book.[Boer Fight for Freedom, p. 462. By M. Davitt.] After informing the burghers that the Executive Council had given leave of absence to the State President to assist their deputation in Europe, and that the Government continued under Mr. Schalk Burger as Acting President, General Botha exhorts them to be true to their cause and their leaders, and in the final clause issues this warning—

“ The burghers are also warned against fine words used by the enemy to deceive them so as to make them put down their arms, because, according to the proclamation of Lord Roberts, they will all be transported to St. Helena or Ceylon as prisoners of war, and they put their property, as it were, between two dangers, for in future I will deal severely with all property of those who put down their arms.”

Two months later, in another Circular, dated Ermelo, December 3,1900, General Botha defines more carefully how this property of surrendered burghers is to be dealt with. Nothing is said of the burning of houses or of immovable property, because General Botha had no legal right to touch these things, but by a decision of the Kriegsraad the movable property of traitors was confiscate, and he was bound to seize it in obedience to that rule, under certain limitations.

“The movable property of [these] persons must be taken and a proper inventory made by the Field-Cornet concerned, in conjunction with his Commandant and his General of Division for commando purposes. Care must be taken in all cases that sufficient means of livelihood are left for the support of the wife and family.”[ Cd. 663. Enclosure 1. in No. 5.]

From these documents it is clear that the suggestion that the Boer Generals adopted the avowed policy of punishing desertion by burning farms is without foundation. By a strange oversight, Lord Kitchener has confused what is at most, if correctly translated, General Botha’s personal expression of opinion in a letter to an individual as to the mode of punishment which he may be driven to adopt, with an official announcement of a settled scheme of reprisals. The plea that concentration was rendered necessary by the burning of farms by the Boers themselves thus falls to the ground.

Lord Kitchener says that many surrendered burghers made complaints to him of ill-treatment received after they had laid down their arms, but no instances are given by him, nor is mention made of any farm being burnt. The only instance of eviction and devastation hitherto made public for the year 1900 is that of Mrs. Viviers, who published in the Bloemfontein Post an account of her ill-treatment. This happened shortly after the issue of Botha’s Circular. She does not say her farm was burnt—

“ After explaining that she is an Afrikander of Dutch-French extraction, whose son had gone out on commando and been wounded at Magersfontein, Mrs. M. E. O. Viviers states that after the British occupation of Bloemfontein and the submission of the burghers in her neighbourhood, peace and order were restored until the autumn of 1900, when Badenhorst’s commando arrived. ‘ On November 30 he sent twenty-one armed men to search my house and to loot it. I closed the doors and refused to open them. Lieutenant Jan Lubbe, of Aarpan, district of Boshoff, broke open the door, and shouted, “ We will fire,” and I flew with my daughter and “ bijwoonster ” and her children through the other door. Lubbe gave a man the order to see that we did not run away, and that man stood guard over us while the others were looting my house. When Lubbe (he had also taken the oath, although later on he became one of the greatest rebels) entered the door, he said, “ Burghers, take what you want.” They went through every room, and turned over everything; they even turned over the beds. They also took all saddles, halters, etc., which I had packed in my son’s room. They took all the watches, my daughter’s watch, and many more articles. The green fruit was taken from the trees, the young vegetables were destroyed, as well as my beehives. . . . After Badenhorst had taken the best of everything on my farm, he sent his brother Christoffel Badenhorst ... to let me know that I had to go into the enemy’s lines. On that day I was laid up. . .. My daughters asked Krause to give us time till I felt better. He replied, “ When I heard that your mother was sick I sent a message to Badenhorst. His reply was, * Give them an hour and a half.’ I must fulfil my orders, and if you refuse to go I will be obliged to use force.” I had to go in my spring waggon, inspanned with six oxen, some bedclothes and clothing, leaving behind all I had—the work of many years—to live a poor life amongst strangers. Under this escort of Piet Krause and .Casper Willemse, of Aranslaagte, district Hoopstad, who had also taken the oath, we had to pass the night on the veld. They had not given us time to prepare any food at home, and they fed us, once a day, on a piece of sandy meat, pumpkin boiled in water, and a cup of com coffee. When we arrived at Hagenstad we were handed over to Field-Comet Jan van Wijk and twelve armed men, to bring us on farther. They led us across the Modder River, and there gave our native the order to bring us into Bloemfontein. They then went back. I aip now temporarily in Bloemfontein, and my son, from whom I was separated for six months, was three months in the Refugee Camp at Norval’s Pont. He states that he had nothing to complain of there.’ " [See Times, Feb. 17, 1902, quoted from Bloemfontein Post of Jan. 24, 1902.]

A return of farms burnt or damage done by the Boers has been published, but refers only to destruction in British territory, and gives the few farms which were burnt in Cape Colony as reprisals.[Cd. 979] The cases enumerated by Mr. Tobias Smuts are mentioned in a later chapter.[8 See Part II. chap. i. p. 101.] It may be that more will come to light as time goes on, but this is doubtful, as it was not the Boer policy, and was against their principles.

On the other hand, homeless “undesirables,” or patriots, were so largely on the increase, that in the uncertain state of the line they could not all be sent away to Natal or the Coast, and it Was probably thought that their influence over the men in the field was too powerful to make it prudent to continue sending them to the commandoes, at any rate as regarded the women of the higher classes. Humanity forbade, at this stage, a continuance of the practice of their being left outside their ruined houses, and so it came to pass that they were brought in by convoys and placed in the small camps which had been formed for refugees. Those small handfuls of people were soon swamped by the inundation of new-comers, and large camps sprang into existence in 1900 at Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Irene, Potchefstroom, Norval’s Pont.^Kroonstad, Vereeniging, Heidelberg, and VVinburg, besides Port Elizabeth and Pietermaritzburg, which last were wholly for “ undesirables.” The severance of the people, which might have been avoided by a wise and equable treatment, was, on the contrary, aggravated by the primary administration of the camps, and became complete. Certain distinctions of food and various facilities were made in favour of the surrendered families, and these were often given paid employments and placed in positions over the patriots, acting in some cases as spies who carried trivial words and tales to those in authority. The patriots, on the other hand, felt and expressed contempt, often undeserved, for these neighbours, and nicknamed them “hands uppers.” The deportation of women and children had now become an event of daily occurrence, and it was a common sight to see whole train-loads of families packed into trucks passing the stations or shunted on to sidings. The following are samples of the telegrams which announced the same thing from many parts in the country:—

“ Oct. 19.

“... At Heidelberg the General Commanding has taken a wise step in bringing families known to have been harbouring the Boers into the town. The depleting of the farms round Vlakfon-tein of all food-stuffs continues.”[Reuter, Times, Oct. 22]

“ Ventersburg, Oct. 31.

“ Numbers of families with their goods and chattels have been sent by the railway.

“ The enemy plead they cannot trust the proclamations.

“ Numbers have taken their wives and families to a laager.” [Reuter, South African News.]

“ Durban, Saturday.

“ The work of deporting ‘ undesirables ’ from the Eastern districts of the Orange River Colony is proceeding with some vigour. Two hundred and fifty women and children from Harrismith and vicinity have been sent to Ladysmith, and one hundred and ninety men to Durban.”

“ Bloemfontein.

“ Some more women from Jagersfontein have reached Bloemfontein, and are encamped with the first batch a few miles outside the town. It is rumoured at Bloemfontein that strong punitive measures have been taken at Bothaville, and that the Dutch Church is the only building left standing there.”

“ Bloemfontein, Nov. 22.

“ Seven waggons with refugee Boer families arrived from Thaba ’Nchu this morning.” [South African News, Nov. 28]

“ Standbrton, Nov. 17.

“. . . One hundred Boer women and children have been sent to Natal.” [Times, Nov, 19]

“ Capetown, Tuesday.

“ The Rev. Colin Fraser, of the Dutch Church, Miss Fraser, and a number of other Dutch partisans, have been removed from Philippolis by the military authorities. Mr. Fraser has been sent to Bloemfontein.” [Reuter, Oct. 31.]

Mr. Fraser, here mentioned as having suffered deportation, is a venerable clergyman of Scotch parentage, and the father of Mrs. Steyn, the President’s wife. His brother, Mr. John George Fraser, obtained his release and he returned to Philippolis. Some months later he was with his wife deported to the camp at NorvaTs Pont, and thence sent down to East London. Miss Emmeline Fraser, his daughter, a girl of twenty-one, has herself told me how she was sent up in a coal-truck from her home, and then had to trudge from the station at Bloemfontein, some three miles, out to the camp, carrying her own things, beneath a burning sun and with armed soldiers behind her. The thoughtful act of a soldier who helped to carry her bundles alone redeemed the bitter humiliation of that day.

Many telegrams spoke of the exile of a large number of families from Jagersfontein and Fauresmith to Port Elizabeth.

When a batch of these unfortunates arrived in the south of Cape Colony, the sight aroused a storm of indignation; it brought to Cape Colonists the first realisation of how the brunt of the war was falling upon helpless women and children. Reuter’s message runs—

“ Port Elizabeth.

“ Yesterday I visited the Racecourse Encampment, where the Dutch women and children, who were sent down from Jagersfontein and Fauresmith are quartered. They are practically prisoners, as a military guard has been placed over them; but everything has been done that is possible to make their incarceration within the enclosure as comfortable as circumstances permit.

“ Many of the women and children have lived in affluent positions, and are now housed in tin cabins of circumscribed space. The wives of the Mayor of Fauresmith and the Dutch Reformed Minister, and the sister of the Resident Magistrate, are among them.”[South African News, Oct. 31, 1900.]

The supply of families for deportation, which seemed unending, was kept up by the devastation which increased rapidly in the latter months of the year. From October to December a series of telegrams from various districts echoed the news in sad refrain. Here are a few contributed by Reuter:—

“ Vryburg, Oct. 1.

“ General Settle’s Column, after relieving Schweizereineke, proceeded southward to Christiana, pacifying the country as they went along; . . . some farms were burnt, including that of Pretorius, formerly member of the Second Raad.” [Reuter. See Times, Oct. 5, 1900]

“ Kroonstah, Oct. 26.

“ The Column arrived at noon, destroying farms on its way.[South African News, Nov. 7.]

“ Not a single Boer house in the country between Dundee and Vryheid has been left standing. All have been burned by the British troops as a punishment for the treacherous acts of the resident Boers.

“ The British patrol sheds are affording shelter to the Boer women and children, and the British are also supporting them with the necessaries of life.” [Central News Telegram]

“Bloemfontein, Nov. 5, 1900.

“ It is stated that the village of Ventersburg has met with a fate similar to that of Bothaville, having been destroyed on account of its having been used as a Boer depot.” [Times, Nov. 7.]

“Belfast, Nov. 6.

“ . . . General Dorien Smith . . . determined to destroy every farm that had given cover or shelter to the Boers. . . . Farms were burnt or blown up as the force proceeded.” [Times, Dec. 6, 1900, from a Correspondent.]

“ Orange River, Nov, 23.

“ The farms belonging to Scholz, who destroyed the line near Belmont, have been destroyed.” [South African News, Nov. 28. Reuter]

“ Pietermaritzburg, Dec, 24.

“ A force from Heidelberg has destroyed 37 farms, sweeping off the live stock.” [Daily Mail, Dec. 25.]

As earlier in the year, the letters of soldiers fill up the bare outline of Reuter’s messages. Here are a few sentences from Lieutenant Morrison’s well-known letter—

“ Belfast, Nov. 21.

“ There were a number of very fine farms near by, and we saw the Boers leaving them and making off. The provost-marshal came up from the main body, removed the Boer women and children with their bedding, and proceeded to bum or blow up the houses. From that time on during the rest of the trek, which lasted four days, our progress was like the old-time forages in the Highlands of Scotland two centuries ago. . . . We moved on from valley to valley, ‘lifting’ cattle and sheep, burning, looting, and turning out the women and children to sit and cry beside the ruins of their once beautiful farmsteads. ... It was a terrible thing to see, and I don’t know that I want to see another trip of the sort, but we could not help approving the policy, though it rather revolted most of us to be the instruments. . . . We burned a track about six miles wide through these fertile valleys, and completely destroyed the village of Wilpoort and the town of Dullstroom.”

In similar language Captain March Phillipps continues the story from other parts—

“ Nov, 23.

“ Kroonstad,[With Rimington, Letter xxiv. p. 201.] Lindley, Heilbron, Frankfort, has been our round so far. We now turn westward along the south of the Vaal. Farm-burning goes merrily on, and our course through the country is marked, as in prehistoric ages, by pillars of smoke by day and fire by night. We usually bum from six to a dozen farms a day; these being about all that in this sparsely inhabited country we encounter. I do not gather that any special reason or cause is alleged or proved against the farms burnt. If Boers have used the farm; if the owner is on commando; if the line within a certain distance has been blown up; or even if there are Boers in the neighbourhood who persist in fighting—these are some of the reasons. Of course the people living in the

[p42 and p43 missing] 

“ 4- Mrs. Ferreira (aged seventy-five); farm, Onegegund, burned down; all sons prisoners of war, except J. Ferreira, of Destadefontein, district of Ladybrand, who was killed at Oliphantsfontein.

“ 5. Louis P. Venter; made prisoner May xo; farm, Doom-draai; district, Winburg; burnt down September 1900; only women and children on farm.

“ 6. Jacobus Coetzee; taken prisoner May 10; died at Green Point, July 1900; farm, Schilder Kranz; district, Winburg; burnt September 1900.

“ 7. Willem A. Venter; farm, Schilder Kranz; burnt in September 1900.

“ 8. Mrs. Elizabeth Venter (widow); house at Doorndraai; district, Winburg; burnt September 1900.

“ 9. Sarel van der Walt; house at Doorndraai; burnt September; said Van der Walt a blind man.

“ 10. Jacobus du Plessis; farm, Zronhuwfontein; district, Winburg; taken prisoner February 27; farm burnt September *9-

“ In support of what we have the honour to bring to your notice, we are able to refer to the accounts of the burning of houses and removing of stock which so often appear in the newspapers.

“ Trusting that your Excellency, as the representative of a powerful and Christian nation, will take into favourable consideration this communication, and trusting that your Excellency will express your disapproval of such actions, and that by your friendly intervention a stop will be put to the same, we have the honour to be, your Excellency’s obedient servants.

(Signed by all the Boer Officers.)

"Oct. 22, 1900.”

By November it was recognised that the burning of farms and villages had become indiscriminate, and the Commander-in-Chief issued an order defining its limitations—

“ As there appears to be some misunderstanding with reference to burning of farms and breaking of dams, Commander-in-Chief wishes following to be lines on which General Officers Commanding are to act:—No farm is to be burnt except for act of treachery, or when troops have been fired on from premises, or as punishment for breaking of telegraph or railway line, or when they have been used as bases of operations for raids, and then only with direct consent of General Officer Commanding, which is to be given in writing; the mere fact of

a burgher being absent on commando is on no account to be used as reason for burning the house. All cattle, waggons, and food-stuffs are to be removed from all farms; if that is found to be impossible, they are to be destroyed, whether owner be present or not.” [Order xl. Cd. 426, Nov. 18.]

On November 30th, Lord Kitchener succeeded Lord Roberts as Commander-in-Chief. ]

A committee of surrendered burghers had been formed, and / Lord Kitchener addressed these men at Pretoria, offering pro- \ tection to their families. A proclamation was issued embodying ) this offer, under which a certain number of small farmers, mostly Transvaalers, came in to save their goods, and formed waggon laagers in some of the camps. Their families thus secured comparative ease and comfort.

“ Pretoria, Dec. 20.

44 It is hereby notified to all burghers, that if after this date they voluntarily surrender they will be allowed to live with their families in Government laagers until such time as the guerilla warfare now being carried on will admit of their returning safely to their homes. All stock and property brought in at the time of the surrender of such burghers will be respected and paid for if requisitioned by the military authorities.[See Morning Leader, Dec. 28. Reuter.]

(Signed) "Kitchener.”