Details of the battle—Weakness of General Kock's position—Eight hundred against four thousand—Kock receives fatal wound— " The pig-sticking " boasts of the British—Confessions of brutality—Charges against the enemy—Boer vs. British treatment of their foes—Sketch of General Kock.
General Jan Kock and his Johannesburg commando, which comprised a Krugersdorp contingent, a Hollander corps, and a German brigade, in all about 800 strong, entered Natal through Botha's Pass at midnight on the 12th of October. The particular movement to be carried out by Kock and his column was not revealed in any order or instructions from Joubert. These 800 men were considered a crack force, and numbered some of the most daring spirits on the Boer side in the Band and district. Many of the leading burghers, men like Dr. Hermanus Coster, the State Prosecutor; Goldman, of the Bailway Commission; De Wit Hamer, the Town Clerk of Pretoria; Major Hall, an Englishman; Landrost Bodenstein, and several other equally prominent citizens, were also volunteers under Kock. The Hollander Corps, numbering 150 Dutch Uitlanders under Commandant Jan Lombard, member of the Second Baad, was a fighting body from which much was expected, while the German Uitlander Corps under Colonel Schiel, 100 strong, included many Band miners who had been trained to arms in the German army. Ben Viljoen, member of the Second Raad for the Band, was in command of the Johannesburg contingent, which made up the bulk of Kock's force, and the fire-eating reputation of the handsome Ben was looked to in the golden city as a pledge of brave deeds to be done when the enemy was encountered. The column was accompanied by 150 Free Staters, and its entire artillery equipment consisted of two Maxim-Nordenfelts.
On reaching Ingogo, General Kock wired to Joubert for reinforcements, owing to information he had received that the English were in strength at Newcastle. Kock was ordered not to engage the enemy until the Pretoria column, under Erasmus, then on its way towards Newcastle, should come up. It was found, however, that the English had fallen back on Dannhauser, and subsequently on Glencoe, whereupon Kock, pressed by the impatient spirits in his command, moved ahead in the path of the retiring enemy. He formed his laager near Sunday's River, upon the southern slopes of the Biggarsberg, and sent forward two patrols of fifty men each —one under Field Cornet Potgieter, of Schiel's command, and the other under Field Cornet Pienaar, of Viljoen's Rand Brigade—with strict injunctions to return to the laager, and to engage in no encounter. Potgieter captured a provision train and 800 cattle at Washbank on the 19th, and, emboldened by this success, he disregarded orders, and went further south in the direction of Ladysmith. He was joined by Pienaar on the 20th, near Elandslaagte railway station, twelve miles from the British camp, in the evening. While deliberating what to do next, a train was observed steaming towards them from Ladysmith, and the patrols resolved upon its capture. It turned out to be a provision train bound for Dundee, and carrying supplies and a band for Penn Symons' camp. The patrols took possession of the railway station, and on the train arriving it was surrounded, and captured with very little show of force. The station-master and the telegrapher were made prisoners; the latter being locked in a room in the railway station, but "It was the room containing the telegraph instrument!
The men of the patrols were soon busy ransacking the train, which they found well stocked with brandy, wine, and whisky, and what happened, in consequence, was the cause of the serious reverse which followed on the morrow. A large number of the patrols indulged in the dangerous booty, not wisely but too liberally, the result being that many became, according to report, intoxicated. While this was going on, the imprisoned telegraph clerk used his instrument with effect. He had wired to Ladysmith an account of what was occurring at Elandslaagte.
Colonel Schiel, who now arrived on the scene with part of his men, realized the seriousness of the situation, and was in the act of withdrawing Potgieter and his patrol from the station when two armored trains, carrying a large force of British and some guns, steamed from the direction of Ladysmith, and commenced to shell the station. After exchanging fire with the enemy, Schiel retired the patrols to a position a mile eastward from the station, and remained there during the night. A despatch was sent at once to General Kock and Commandant Viljoen, informing them of the situation. Kock was always a better fighter than a cool general, and, instead of ordering Schiel to fall back upon the main laager and refuse battle within two hours' march of 5,000 or 6,000
British, he gave instant orders to his men to saddle and go forward immediately to the support of the imprudent patrols. The motive was chivalrous, but the act was most unwise, and the result disastrous.
On reaching Elandslaagte on Saturday morning, General Kock found that Schiel had taken up the best position left for the Boers to occupy. This was a ridge gradually rising from the level veldt, and affording cover against the eight guns which General French had already brought into action. General Kock made a hasty disposition of his men, in conjunction with Schiel's position on the elevated, stony ridge, and immediately opened fire with his Maxim-Nordenfelts upon the enemy, who occupied a lower ridge some 4,000 yards southward, across an intervening stretch of rough ground. Kock's two guns were effectively handled, and soon compelled the British artillery to retire back in the direction of Modderspruit railway station. This easy repulse of the attacking force greatly elated the Johannesburg men. They were convinced that the battle was over, and that the English had retreated on Ladysmith, refusing to fight.
This over-sanguine view was not shared by either the general or Schiel, who rightly conjectured that the British officer had only been engaged in a reconnaissance, and had fallen back in order to wait the arrival of more guns and men. The obvious duty, however, was for Kock and Viljoen to have fallen back also, after having rescued Schiel and Potgieter from their dangerous situation. Ladysmith was only a dozen miles away, and both road and railway from that town would enable General White to rush forward an overwhelming force in a few hours' time. All this sane consideration was, however, lost upon the Rand fire-eaters. They could wipe out any number of English, and they were not going to run away, after having " chased " the enemy back to his camp, etc. It was therefore unwisely determined to remain in the position which the commando had taken up on its arrival, and to await the renewal of the fight.
It is of vital importance, in estimating the value of the victory gained by General French in this battle, to understand rightly the nature of the ground on which it was fought. All the English reports of the fight greatly exaggerate the natural strength of Kock's position; some war correspondents giving a pen-picture of a great hill, with steep and almost inaccessible sides, from the top of which batteries of Boer artillery were represented as shelling the dauntless, charging Tommies. The London illustrated papers presented the public with pictures of this imaginary veldt Gibraltar, as being stormed in face of numerous guns belching forth their death-dealing shells in vain efforts to stem the resistless tide of rushing, British valor.
General Kock had only two Maxim-Nordenfelts in this battle, and no other guns of any class or description.
Fortunately a real photograph of the battle-field of Elandslaagte is in existence, and the sun, as an unerring witness, can be placed in opposition to the artists in exaggeration, who have magnified the height and strength of the ridge on which the desperate battle was fought, so as to make greater the victory won by the English, and to lessen the credit due to the Boers for their splendid and unequal combat.
The ridge represented in the picture on page 137 rises from a green valley, about a mile and a half east of Elandslaagte railway station, with the open space in which the figure stands sloping down to the level ground towards Ladysmith. The man in the picture is looking in the direction from which the English advanced, and the ridge behind him is that on which the Boers made their chief stand against French's forces. Back of the ridge, at a distance of half a mile, there is a lower ridge, or small kopje, and the brief but heroic fight of Kock's body-guard when the day was lost was made near this place.
To the right of the scene in the picture the ridge continues, and slopes down in rough, stony ground to the level veldt, which ex-, tends for four or five miles southward, where another stony ridge crops up again from the plain. It was behind this rising ground that French massed his men and guns preparatory to the final advance upon the Boer position in the afternoon.
There was no military judgment exercised by Kock in the selection of this position for so small a force. Level ground lay to the right and left, while there was no higher or strong natural elevation immediately in the rear to which men and guns could retire for another stand in case the enemy's force should carry out a successful turning movement. There was likewise some open country at right angles to the ridge, across which the Boers would have to retreat in the event of failing to hold their ground, and where the enemy's cavalry would have the freest scope for a flanking attack. All these weak points in Kock's position were to be defended by 800 or 900 men and two guns, against a combined infantry and cavalry force of 4,000 troops with fifteen field pieces.
The falling back of French's cavalry and artillery in the morning enabled Kock to make a hasty preparation for the next encounter. His little force was spread out more or less over three positions; his center resting on the ridge represented in the picture, and comprising Ben Viljoen's Band commando and the Krugersdorp men; his left covered the southern part of the ridge, where the Hollander corps and Schiel's Germans extended down to where the rising ground merged into the veldt; while the right was made up of Free Staters and others, who covered the camp, baggage, and ambulance wagons, and took no active part in the fight. These divisions, however, only held good until the main English attack was delivered. The various corps and bodies then got mixed up, and fought as a disorganized unit to the finish. The two guns were placed first in the center, near the elevation in the picture of the field, where there was a strong natural rock protection for their safety, but they were moved to other positions during the latter ' part of the engagement.
Noon arrived, and there was still no sign of a returning enemy on the horizon. Two scouting parties of a hundred men each were sent forward under Field Cornets Potgieter and Pienaar to the ridge southwards across the plain, to feel for the foe. Shots were soon after heard, and Schiel, with most of his Germans, galloped across the veldt to the aid of Potgieter and his men. They found the enemy advancing in great force from Modderspruit, and Potgieter's fiery imprudence insisted upon a stand being made against the tide of foes sweeping down upon them. Schiel, unwilling to abandon the reckless Boer officer, took up position, and the enemy were fired upon by 300 men from the cover of the ridge.
The little force fell back at once upon their base, followed across the veldt by shells from the British guns. Schiel took his Germans one way, and Potgieter and Pienaar with their men made for the ridge held by Lombard and the Hollanders, at the extreme left of Kock's main position. The Germans wandered round by the railway to the north, and lost their way; finding it again only as darkness was coming on, and when the battle was virtually over, to be fired upon by the British, and by the Free Staters also in mistake, as Schiel and his followers cut into the battle-field in the midst of the Boer retreat.
General French's plan of attack was formed for him by the position of his adversary, isolated on a ridge, surrounded by level ground, and offering the freest play for a combined force of artillery, infantry, and cavalry.
His plan was to send a strong contingent of his best troops straight against Kock's left, composed mainly of the Hollanders, which was weakest in men and natural strength, and by cooperating artillery and rifle fire force those who held this end of the ridge back upon Kock's center, which could then be assaulted from the higher ground thus gained. French's guns with mounted protection were to form a flanking support for this attack, after shelling the Boer left from their position, while Lancers, Dragoons, and Natal cavalry were to move by the road from Ladysmith, parallel with the railway, on the left of the guns, to bar the retreat of the Boers after the delivery of the British assault on the center, and to deal the calculated crushing blow.
The English renewed the fight at about three o'clock with an artillery attack upon Kock's entire lines. The Boer guns replied in most accurate aim, and maintained the unequal contest for over an hour, when it became evident that French's batteries were searching every portion of the ridge with their shells. Kock's two guns were soon temporarily silenced, and immediately the enemy moved against the portion of the ridge held by the Hollanders. A force of mounted British advanced to the left of where Lombard clung to the rocks, as if bent upon a turning movement. The advance was a screen for a large force of infantry which French had sent to attack Lombard's right, which was being shelled by the English cannon, now firing within a range of 3,000 yards. Lombard's Hollanders clamored for a counter attack, which was unwisely ordered, and the Dutchmen gallantly sprang from their cover out into the plain, kneeling and aiming as they pressed forward to meet the enemy. They shot back with great intrepidity the mounted troops, who retired, but their Mausers failed effectively to find the Tommies who were moving on their right, as these were cautiously taking cover behind stones and ant-hills while creeping forward for the final spring upon the ridge. The enemy's guns were now trained upon the Hollanders, who were thus compelled to fall hack, pursued by Lancers, and losing many of their number. The Boer Nordenfelts here spoke again from a new position, and checked the further advance of this attack upon Lombard, enabling the Hollanders to retire from the extreme edge of the ridge, which could no longer be defended against the converging fire of both artillery and infantry upon it.
It was not, however, until near seven o'clock that French's force succeeded in fighting its way as far as Kock's left, so gallantly and so stubbornly had that part of the ridge been defended by the Krugersdorp men and the Hollanders.
Once that end of the ridge was taken, however, the other end became untenable. The entire commando now crowded upon the part of the ridge shown in the picture, while the British were mounting on to the corresponding bend of the horseshoe-shaped field. The fighting from this became hot and furious, as the combatants were nearing each other. The day, too, was fading into darkness, and the rain came down in torrents upon the drenched battle-field. It was realized about this hour from the center of the ridge that French's cavalry were advancing on the right to cut off retreat, while other mounted forces were working round to the east, and something akin to a panic set in among the Johannesburg Uitlanders. They broke away for their horses in the rear, seeing that with their two guns silenced, and the enemy on both the right and left of their position with his guns unopposed, it was humanly impossible for Kock to hold on to the center of the menaced ridge except to be exterminated. The Krugorsdorp men, with about fifty Hollanders and other Uitlanders, held on to the position round the two guns with grim resolve; firing steadily amidst the hail of shells and bullets which swept in upon them from all sides. Betrcat was almost cut off by the encircling British, whose artillery was now within a range of 1,500 yards. The first of the enemy to top the ridge nearest the guns were some Gordon Highlanders, who sprang over the boulders, against which the bullets of the Boers whistled their messages of menace and death. The kilted Tommies had only time to shout " Majuba avenged! " when they were instantly shot down by Kock and his bodyguard. The deadly fire which these poured across the field from their cover arrested for a time the final advance of the English over the level ground shown in the picture of the battle-field. During this pause Kock and Viljoen attempted to rally more of their men behind the ridge, near the camp, in a final effort to rescue the guns. The ridge, however, was by this time found to be almost surrounded by the enemy's troops, infantry and mounted, and the attempt had to be abandoned. Two bodies of the British were rushing for the abandoned Nordenfelts, in the belief that the fight was all but over, when there occurred the most striking act of heroism which the day had witnessed, and which afterwards extorted praise even from the enemy's officers. Seven of the fifty men who still remained fighting round General Kock, seeing the rush being made for the guns by the enemy, left their position and walked out deliberately, opening as they went, to fire on the advancing troopers. They stood in line, coolly aiming and bringing down riders at each volley; the men falling by return fire, until only one of the seven was left. He fell wounded, but not before he had spiked the two guns. His name was Smit, and he was the only one of the seven Krugersdorpers who was not killed in this heroic display of life-giving courage. These devoted men thus nobly gave their lives in a last attempt to save the guns, and to allow their general and his guard to escape.
The final stand of General Kock on the field, which his splendid bravery could not save from the faults of his generalship, was well and graphically described in a letter written shortly after the battle by the burgher-son of an Englishman, who fought by his general's side until the last moment. The letter relating what had occurred has the natural frankness and some of the boasting of a boy, and was addressed to his mother at Johannesburg. The writer's name is Vyvian Coghill, and his age was 19. He was one of Ben Viljoen's Rand commando.
His story is this:
" We kept firing till the infantry came on and looked like surrounding us; then some fled. In the flight the Germans suffered heaviest. Some fifty of us, however, stuck to our posts with the officers. Then the fire from the Maxims and the cannon became so hot that we retreated to the back of the kop, where Commandant Viljoen and General Kock rallied our men, and wre came forward again. Some of the others took the nearest horses and cleared off; but twelve of us stuck to the general and returned to the guns, while the balance went with Commandant Viljoen to the other side of the kop. When the English were about 500 yards away we mowed them down like sheep. It was terrible! I never felt a little bit of fear. I prayed to God, and fired like a soldier, taking aim every time. By this time we were only fifty men altogether left on the kop, and the English soldiers were climbing up and surrounding the kop. Some of the Highlanders were running after our men, when eight of us, including General Kock, opened fire on them at 50 yards, and not one escaped. Just then General Kock was shot down just at my side, and three others within five yards of me. I stood up and said ' God help me,' and van Niekerk (detective) got a shot in his wrist. As his hand dropped he took his gun to the left, threw it over his arm, and continued firing as if nothing had happened. General Kock lay half-dying at our feet, and we could not help him. Then the infantry came round the other side of the kop, and there was only a space of 200 yards to go through to get out, and only about live men standing on the kop, with bullets and shells flying round. None of us would put up the white flag, and we made a break for safety. The English turned a Maxim on us, and I never ran in all my life like I did then. When I got down my horse was gone, but I found another, and after just escaping a charge from the Lancers, got clean away."
Two among the many brave men who fell on the Boer side in the fight were Englishmen—Major Hall, and Mr. Richard Impey, of Johannesburg; both of whom took part in Lombard's charge across the veldt early in the engagement, and were shot dead in defending the freedom of their adopted country against the aggression of their native land. Many desperate hand-to-hand encounters took place in the final advance of the English over the open space to where it was thought the Boer guns would be found. The Germans came upon the field' when the fight was nearly over, having lost themselves in the retreat from the scouting encounter early in the afternoon, and having suffered heavily in collisions with the Dragoons. Colonel Schiel was wounded and taken prisoner. Many Germans and Boers whose horses had been taken or killed in the capture of Kock's camp shot Lancers from their horses and escaped on their enemies' mounts. The struggle continued until darkness came on, the Lancers and Dragoons pursuing the retreating Boer commando, which had left over one-third of its number on and around the ridge where the unequal fight had been waged.
A complete list of the Boer killed and wounded was published by Dr. Visser in the Johannesburg press of the 6th of November. The list gives the name, age, home address, nature of wound, and name of commando in which the dead and wounded had served. The publication of this list disposes of the Jingo fiction as to " the hundreds " of Boers who were declared to have been killed and wounded at that battle, but not accounted for. Dr. Visser was on the field while the engagement lasted, in charge of the Johannesburg ambulance.
The killing of wounded Boers by Lancers and others at this fight excited a widespread feeling of indignation throughout the civilized world. The American and Continental press were especially outspoken in condemnation of the brutality which disgraced the British soldiers in their treatment of beaten and wounded foes, after the fortunes of the fight had fallen to the side of the stronger combatant. On the very same day when an English general and two or three hundred wounded at Dundee had fallen into Boer hands, , and were humanely treated, on their own acknowledgment, the English victors at Elandslaagte were boasting of their " pig-sticking," and of the number of Boers to whom they had denied quarter.
Some of the worst reports penned by these brutal-minded Tommies were possibly exaggerated in the savagery of their boasting. The writers described themselves in the language of bravos as bigger ruffians in print than they probably were in act. Still, their shameless self-laudation for the number of Boers they had killed when asking for mercy or quarter found a ready publication in all the English papers, with few, if any, editorial protests against the inhumanity which was made the subject of self-praise by the writers. One searches in vain through any record of Boer fighting to find any moral or soldierly parallel to this disgusting spirit of British civilized savagery.
A British officer was quoted in the " Times " (15th of November, 1899) as saying:
" After the enemy were driven out one of our squadrons pursued and got right in among them in the twilight, and most excellent pig-sticking ensued for about ten minutes, the bag being about sixty. One of our men stuck his lance through two, killing them both at one thrust. Had it not been getting dark we should have killed many more."
In a score of other versions of the same performances, published in other papers, proof is piled upon proof that deeds were done at this fight by English soldiers which would do more credit to the banner of the Sultan of Turkey than to that of a professed Christian nation.
A Lancer writing home had his letter published by his admiring relative in the Brighton "Argus." This champion of Christian England said: " We got a charge at them; they asked for mercy, but we were told not to give them any, and I assure you they got none. .We went along sticking our lances through them—it was a terrible thing, but you have to do it in a case like this." Boers do not stand in a row to be stuck after a battle; neither do their horses wait patiently on the field for the approach of a galloping trooper. Clearly what the writer of this letter meant to convey was that he and his companions " went along sticking our lances " in men who lay wounded, or otherwise helpless, on the veldt. This view is supported by another warrior of equal chivalry, who relates:
" We charged them, and they went on their knees begging of us to shoot them rather than stab them with our lances, but in vain. The time had come for us to do our work, and we did it."
Another hero named Williams is his own historian of how he perpetrated the following deliberate murder: "I got hold of one Boer "—he had taken an enemy prisoner—" he did not know what I intended doing, so I made motions for him to run for his life. So he went, and I galloped after him with the sergeant's sword, and cut his head right off his body!"
A Lancer is reported as having said to the war correspondent of the "Daily Chronicle": "We just gave them a good dig as they lay. Next day most of the lances were bloody." Here, clearly, it was a boast of stabbing wounded foemen who were lying helpless on the ground.
There were British soldiers of a more practical turn of mind than the boastful Lancers at Elandslaagte, and equally creditable to the cause for which the war was provoked. They, too, were willing narrators of their own prowess on what used to be known as " the field of honor "; and their letters were also published in the model press of England as indicating what brave men were doing for the flag at the front. The " Liverpool Daily Post" found space for the following epistle from some local Bayard of the Jingo cult of English soldier chivalry:
"Many of our soldiers are quite rich with the loot that has fallen to them. The infantry regiments profited to the largest extent. One Tommy secured a pocket-book containing £270 in Transvaal money. Our boys are parading about now with gold watches, chains, and other trinkets."
All this may be revolting, infamous, cowardly. But if the authors of a war which was purposely provoked for the grabbing of the richest gold-reefs in the world are to be considered as standing high in English religious, social, and political esteem, despite the results of the disastrous conflict which their greed has caused, how could an English Tommy Atkins be expected to see either shame or dishonor in picking the pocket of a wounded Boer, or in lifting a watch from a dead foeman?
This inhumanity was not shown for the first time in the war on the field of Elandslaagte by the British. The example was given in the very first encounter with the Boers at Talana, and the spirit which prompted such unsoldierly conduct was the result of the calumnies circulated in the Rhodesian and Jingo press against the people of the Transvaal before war was declared. This malignant feeling was even extended to doctors and others who were attached to the Boer commandoes. The following specific and detailed instances of violations of the Bed Cross at Dundee were published in the Boer press at the time, and amply justified the protest which General Joubert addressed to the European Powers against such violations of the rules of civilized warfare by English troops:
"Dr. Adolf Vlaskamp, of Utrecht, states that in the Dundee battle, of the 20th of October, the Hussars attacked the horse ridden by Dr. van der Merwe (of Krugersdorp) in spite of the fact that its rider bore the insignia of the Bed Cross. Not content with killing the doctor's horse, an attack was made upon, its rider, but a British officer galloped up and ordered the troopers to cease dishonoring the Red Cross emblem.
" In the same way Dr. Watt, District Surgeon of Wakkerstroom, was taken prisoner, despite the fact that he explained his capacity and asked the protection of the Bed Cross. Dr. Watt was compelled to ride round the camp from noon till sundown, and was only liberated on the Saturday following the battle.
" Justus Dirks, Bevenue Officer at Volksrust, and Bantjes, Collector of Taxes at Wakkerstroom, were made prisoners by the English on that fateful Friday, while in the act of carrying the burgher wounded to the Bed Cross ambulance. Dirks and Bantjes both bore flags supplied to them by the field doctors.
"' Seventeen of our men,' said the doctor, concluding an interview with a representative, ' were tied to a wagon and marched, French fashion. They were told by the Britishers that if they resisted they would be shot; and, as a matter of fact, two men who were more troublesome than the rest were actually wounded. They were afterwards liberated when we took Dundee.' "
These instances of how the British acted towards Boer doctors and prisoners at Dundee show that the more reprehensible conduct of the Lancers and others at Elandslaagte was not accidental to the passions of that encounter; but is a proof that some of the English soldiers and officers were capable of a barbarity towards their foes which Kaffirs might hesitate to commit.
The treatment accorded to General Kock was especially revolting, he having been the Boer officer in command at Elandslaagte, and a man of striking presence whose identity could not be ignored, except by men unworthy to be his foes. The following facts, sworn to by his nephew after the general's death, gave the Africander nation the true moral measure of that superior civilization which it was England's mission to teach to the benighted Boer, through "the medium of its truest missionary, Mr. Thomas Atkins:
" I, the undersigned, Philip Rudolph Kock, responsible clerk at the Pass Office, Johannesburg, Witwatersrand Gold Fields, S. A. B., declare under oath and say :
" Early the same morning I again went with Dr. Visser to the battle-field. The first of the wounded I happened on was General Kock; he lay in a small tent, entirely naked. He told me that an English soldier had come to him and robbed him of all the money that was in his trousers pocket, of his watch, and of all his clothes, except one coat. He also informed me that this person stated that he belonged to the Indian troops. He (the General) was covered by a thin blanket, and lay on a small wet mattress.
" Not alone were General Kock and the persons mentioned above robbed of their clothes, watches, and money, but also others. On the battle-field I saw the remains of Assistant Commandant Boden-stein (Landrost of Krugersdorp). He had received a bullet in his left breast, which pierced his heart. He had been robbed of his telescope, his rings had been taken from his fingers, and all his money was gone.
" I also saw the remains of Piet Blignaut, sen. His boots, watch, money, and snuff-box were gone.
" From the body of Willie Pretorius (Revenue Collector at Johannesburg) were taken all his money, and his ring from off his finger.
" From Servaas De Wet, who was only wounded in the left leg, a ring and his money were taken. T hear that he has now been exchanged, and he will be able to testify to the same.
"J. A. Lepeltakkeeft was wounded by a Lancer; he threw his gun down, and, holding up his hand, surrendered himself as prisoner. He next gave up his revolver and bandolier. He was ordered to march ' voorwaarts,' and took a turn to the left. He did not do this quickly enough in the opinion of the English officer, and was then shot from behind by the officer with a revolver. The bullet entered the shoulders and the lungs, where it remained. I was subsequently called into the hospital to translate J. A. Lepeltakkeeft's narrative to an English officer, and this, in short, was the story he told. That same night he died. The reply of the English officer when the complaint was made was—' It is hard lines on the poor fellow, but I will report the matter.'"
Dr. Hermanus Coster, the Transvaal State Prosecutor, was likewise dishonored and robbed of his money and watch while lying where he had nobly died fighting for the freedom of his adopted country.
One short week after these bandit proceedings of British soldiers the following letter was addressed to the State Secretary at Pretoria, by Major Donegal, R.A.M.C:
" October 28th, Field Hospital, Glencoe.
" Sir—I wish to convey to you the thanks of all British officers and men of my hospital for the extreme kindness shown to them by officers and men of the Boer forces. Would you notify to the British authorities the death of Sir William Penn Symons, on the 23rd, and also state that all wounded officers and men are doing splendidly, and that none of the officers are likely to die?
" Will you kindly communicate the above to the British authorities?"
On the very same day that this letter was written the following reply (with the many letters of the alphabet duly attached) was forwarded in answer to a request sent in the name of General Kock by his brother and son (both wounded and prisoners) that the; wounded general might be taken to his home to be nursed by his family:
" From Lieut.-General Sir George White, V.C., G.C.B., G.C.S.I.J G.C.I.E., commanding the British Forces in Natal.
" To General J. H. M. Kock, " Ladysmith.
" Head Quarters, Ladysmith,
" 27th October, 1899. " Sir—I have the honor to acknowledge your letter of this date, and regret very much that I cannot consent that you or your staff should leave for Pretoria to-morrow, as the retention of a general officer of your rank and distinction as a prisoner of war is of considerable value to the State I represent.
" Personally I regret very much not being able to meet your wishes in this matter.—I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
" George S. White,
" Lieutenant-General, " Commanding the British Forces in Natal."
General Kock died in Ladysmith a few days later.
Ten days after Elandslaagte the battle of Modderspruit was fought and won by Joubert, and the following is the testimony willingly borne by no admirer of the Boer race or cause, the late Mr. G. W. Steevens, of the London " Daily Mail," to the chivalry and humanity of the Transvaal burghers, as shown to the British troops who had fallen as wounded and prisoners, into their hands:
"They gave the whole (unwounded) men the water out of their own bottles; they gave the wounded the blankets off their own saddles, and slept themselves on the naked veldt. They were short of transport, and they were mostly armed with Martinis; yet they gave captured mules for the hospital panniers, and captured Lee-Metfords for splints. A man was rubbing a hot sore on his head with half a crown; nobody offered to take it from him. Some of them asked soldiers for their embroidered waist-belts as mementos of the day. ' It's got my money in it’ replied Tommy—a little surly, no wonder—and the captor said no more."—(" From Cape Town to Ladysmith," G. W. Steevens, pp. 79, 80.)
The Boer casualties numbered over one-third of General Kock's commando; 45 killed, 110 wounded, and 185 taken prisoner. The British losses were reported to be 4 officers and 31 men killed, 31 officers and 175 men wounded, with 10 missing. The following names among the list of prisoners taken by General French show that many Uitlanders of English, Scotch, and Irish extraction deemed themselves to be so " oppressed " under the Kruger regime as to take up arms and risk their lives in its defense against Mr. Chamberlain's emancipating English army:
W. Smith, J. H. M'Kenzie, A. K. Hutchinson, W. Ashbrook, J. Quirk, H. Andrew, C. J. Smith, W. II. Dixon, N. D. Thompson, Z. Seymour, H. Martin, A. Brown, John Brown, M. Smith, G. T. Robertson, E. Devine, J. T. Young, G. W. Marsh, E. W. Holder, J. T. Webb, G. A. Jones, J. G. Smith, — Tindall, F. Dorey.
Johannes Hermanus Michael Kock was one of the most popular citizens of the Transvaal Republic. He was born of a fighting family, and took part at the age of 12 in the battle of Boomplaats in 1848. He figured prominently with his two brothers in the wars against both natives and British which occurred during his long career. He was 02 years of age when he received his death wound; or, rather, when he was stripped of his clothing and robbed of his money, and left for fourteen hours wounded and unaided, by his chivalrous captors on the unsheltered veldt. He succumbed to the joint effects of exposure and wounds. The imposing funeral procession which followed his coffin in Pretoria testified to his immense popularity, and to the sense of the public loss which his death created in the popular mind.
He was a man of noble presence, tall, handsome, and soldier-like, and was greatly esteemed in private as in laager life by all who knew him.
He filled the post of Minute Keeper to the Executive Government of the Transvaal, and enjoyed the confidence of President Kruger as no other burgher did, he being invariably the President's companion in the official and other visits paid by Mr. Kruger to the various districts of the country. No man in the Transvaal was a nobler type of burgher citizen in his record of patriotic service, his unblemished character, personal dignity, and sterling manly qualities. A son and two brothers fought by his side, and were wounded on the same field of battle.