Camp Ryan’s,
2nd Juno, 1897.

The Secretary for Defence.

Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram No. 1 of June 1st, and to report that I am quite ready to attack with the force you mention, viz., 1,500 Europeans, and 500 Native contingent, and to do my utmost to finish the war as quickly as possible; but in the 1,500 Europeans, the Vryburg, Geluk and Gordonia Volunteers must not be included. Apparently the reports that I have forwarded for the information of Government on various occasions of late, with reference to these corps, have not been looked upon as serious, and in fact, from your telegram quoted above, have been misunderstoodbut the fact that none of them will remain in the field for more than a few days is, I regret to say, only too true, and Government will have to face this difficulty in addition to others.

I attach statements from the officers commanding the Vryburg, Geluk and Gordonia Volunteers for your information, and would once more point out, that the use of disaffected and discontented men in an attack on the mountain would in all probability be attended with disastrous results.

The full details which you ask for as regards the position are as follows:—

When the increased force arrives at the front, they will have to be encamped, for the few days previous to making the attack, at this station, which is 16 miles from the foot of the Langberg, and all horses here will, previous to this, have to be sent back to Khartu, on account of the limited supply of water in the pits at this camp. When the column moves forward from here every drop of water both for men and animals will have to be taken in water-carts; the men requiring 1| gallons per diem, and the few horses and the transport animals that will have to be kept at the front, about 4 gallons each per diem; making approximately a total daily consumption of 3,700 gallons. The transport animals, with the exception of oxen for guns and ambulance, and the horses for the Maxim, will at once have to be sent back, under escort, to Ryan’s for water, and a daily water convoy, also under escort, will have to be kept up between Ryan’s and the Langberg. For this purpose I have 17 water carts that can be used, capable of carrying 3,200 gallons, and I shall require, for the increased force, thirty-seven (37) more water-carts carrying 200 gallons each. Thus there will be at the Langberg, one day’s water supply in hand, one day’s carts empty, route for Ryan’s to be filled, and one day’s water in the carts en route to the Langberg.

The following is the actual strength of the B.F. Force to-day, excluding the Vryburg, Geluk and Gordonia Corps, but including sick and wounded.

C. M.R. Artillery, 16, P.A.O.C. Artillery 41, D.F.A, 21, E Squadron C.M.R. • 88, Dukes Mounted 109, 1st City 72, D.E.O.V.R. 130, C.T.H. 58, P.A. Guard 76, C.P. and Native Contingent 31, No. 13 M.R.C. 46, Mt. Temple Vrs. 37, thus making a total of 725; the number of reinforcements required will therefore amount to 775, of whom 500 would be required for lines of communication and base, convoys, &c., &c.

As the operations subsequent to the first attacks will principally have to be carried on in, and on the mountain, at least 1,000 large water bottles or small canvas bags will be required.

As regards the last portion of your telegram, am I to understand that it is the wish of the Prime Minister that I should attack the Langberg daily while waiting for the reinforcements to arrive, or whether the daily attack is to be made after the reinforcements and additional water carts have arrived. In conclusion I would request that I may he informed if it is the wish and intention of the Government that I should use force to prevent the Burghers leaving the front, as I am placed in a very awkward position as regards these Corps should they decide upon returning to their homes.

(Sgd.) E. H. DALGETY,
Lieut.-Col. Commanding B. F. Force.


Ryan’s, 2nd June, 1897.

Sir,—With reference to telegram received from Government, the contents of which you have just communicated to me, I have the honour to inform you that I am positive that the men under my command do not expect to remain here longer than Sunday next, the 6th instant.
I have, &c.,

(Sgd.) J. C. WESSELS, Commandant, Vryburg Mounted Volunteers.

The Officer Commanding
Bechuanaland Field Force, Ryan’s.


To the O.C., Ryan’s,
B.F. Force. 2nd June, 1897.

Sir,—I beg to inform you that I have just communicated the contents of the telegram, which you imparted to me verbally, to my men, and I have to report that none of them are willing under any consideration to stay here later than Sunday, the 6th instant.

The reason put forward by them is that their farms and homes are being neglected, and they are generally dissatisfied. I therefore beg you will be pleased to let the men get away as soon as possible.

I have, &c.,
(Sgd.) J. W. J. MEINTJES,
Capt. Commandant,
Geluk Volunteers,


Ryan’s Farm,
2nd June, 1897.

Sir,—In reference to the telegram from Government referring to the applications made by the various Burgher Corps at present serving under your command for discharge of various members thereof, the contents of which telegrams were communicated to commanding officers of Burgher Forces by you this day, I have the honour to report to you, with very much regret, that the members of the Gordonia Volunteers now under my command are anxious to return to their homes, and owing to letters from their wives and business connections arriving by every post, are so discontented with , their present position that, should you determine to detain them, many cases of desertion would occur.

Many of these men of my own knowledge are small agricultural farmers, and when they enrolled themselves as volunteers understood that they would only be required to serve for a much shorter period than they have already done. Should they be detained longer than another week or thereabouts, they will in many cases probably be deprived of what small holdings they have by storekeepers and others who have mortgages against them.

I have had for the last month considerable difficulty in keeping these men at their posts, and I would recommend, as an urgent matter, that, should any individual members of the Gordonia Volunteers give, in your opinion, any satisfactory reasons, his services should be dispensed with.

I have, &c.,
(Sgd.) E. C. COOMBS,
Capt. Commdg.
Gordonia Volunteers.