November 27th to December 14th, 1899

Captain Edward P. Jones (Forte) was appointed senior naval officer of all naval forces in Natal, north of Durban, about to be employed with the Ladysmith Relief Column. Captain Bearcroft (Philomel) received a similar appointment in Cape Colony, succeeding Flag-Captain Prothero (Doris), severely wounded at Graspan.

The contingent now under orders for the front consisted of 130 officers and men from the Terrible under Commander Limpus. The unit officers were: Lieutenant England, No. 1 4'7 ; Lieutenant Hunt, No. 2 4'7; Lieutenant Richards, two 12-pounders ; Lieutenant Wilde, two 12-pounders. Also attached to each unit were Midshipmen Troupe, Sherrin, Down, and Ackland, respectively. The staff comprised Lieutenant Hunt (Forte), as staff-officer ; Staff-Surgeon Lilley (Forte), in charge of ambulance section ; Assistant-Engineer Roskruge, as engineer officer; and Midshipman Hutchinson, A.D.C. to Captain Jones.

Previous to entraining, the brigade was addressed by Captain Scott, whose animated speech partook somewhat of the nature of a lecture on artillery in the field. He especially enjoined the commanders of units and the captains of guns to remember the responsibilities vested in them as individuals, now vastly increased owing to the almost unique conditions the sudden change of field gun had enforced, and what a concentration of attention the heavy guns were certain of attracting from their critics. He laid great stress on the importance of straight and rapid shooting ; the confidence it would instil into the troops when the guns were covering attacks on intrenched positions. Moreover, they were to excel the standard of mobility attained by the enemy, who at present were enjoying a heavy gun monopoly.

About 6 p.m., November 27th, the heavy special train steamed out of Durban central station amidst the cheers of the assemblage gathered on the platforms, en route for the Frere concentration camp. Up the steep gradients the engine snorted and puffed, the train at times only moving at a walking-race pace. Pietermaritzburg was reached at midnight, and here orders were received directing the four 12-pounders to remain in the capital to await further instructions. This unexpected order naturally caused intense disappointment to those whom it affected; but orders are orders, and—that's enough. The trucks containing the 12-pounders were quickly detached from the train, which proceeded again on its journey northwards.

Mooi River station was reached at 6 a.m., where a brief stoppage for breakfast was made, and a cursory glance obtained of the camp which had recently sustained a shelling from the Free Stater commandoes. Proceeding, Estcourt was reached four hours later, where it was found the traffic system had become so dislocated owing to the Boers having wrecked the span girder bridge adjoining Frere station, as to necessitate detention here for an indefinite period. Tents were pitched close to the station, the guns, etc., remaining on the trucks, ready to move forward as soon as the congestion of traffic was relieved.

A straggling but prettily situated township, Estcourt appears to the eye as a thriving centre of a pastoral district— which it really is. The enemy's recent incursions in the neighbourhood had forced in cattle in such numbers from outlying farmsteads, that they gave the place the appearance of a cattle market in full swing; the farmers not yet feeling the district sufficiently quiescent to return safely with their stock. It was to-night that details of the Graspan fight were obtained and read out on parade, the exceptionally heavy losses of the Naval Brigade naturally appealing to the sympathies of this brigade, many of whom had lost personal friends.

Urgency having passed with the destruction of Frere bridge, orders to proceed did not arrive until the 30th. The short run to Frere—about ten miles—was interesting, as being part of the mountainous stretch of route traversed by the ill-fated armoured train. Frere evidently expected the naval train, as the platform was thronged with a large party of troops, sent to assist in unloading the British " Long Toms," besides spans of oxen in readiness to haul them away. The railway staff officer appeared to view our warlike cargo with apprehensive misgivings, the tenor of his conversation implying that however useful a 4'7 gun might be in the field, it was certainly, from his point of view, something of a " white elephant" on a railway truck. This opinion was excusable, especially when a little delay spelt confusion of the railway system for hours. The order to unload guns quickly sent the brigade to their previously allotted stations, and with the additional help of the troops present, the guns were soon trundling behind the spans of oxen on their way to camp, and the train steaming away south. Almost needless to add, the unloading evolution was appreciated by the hardworked responsible railway officials, upon whom much anxious and arduous duty had devolved throughout the war; the genial general manager, Mr. David Hunter (since knighted), having carved out a name for himself in the railway world for his high administrative abilities.

Next morning the white ensign fluttered in the breeze above the tents, conspicuously denoting the naval contingent's position in the huge camp, and, until reality should supersede drill, the intervening time was spent manoeuvring the guns and getting the transport into a perfect condition.

On Sunday, December 3rd, instructions were received for the guns to co-operate in a reconnaissance taking place that night towards Chieveley. Moving off at 10 p.m., the brigade made excellent headway towards the rendezvous, until the ridges over which the guns must go were reached, when unlimited ill-luck beset all further movements. To ascend these rugged kopjes during daylight would have required great care; but the night was pitch dark, a heavy rain falling, and the track unknown to any one except the guide, whose capacity for his task was, like our further progress, extremely limited in range. Troubles followed each other in rapid succession. First we failed to make contact with the infantry escort sent to guard the guns—or they did with us. Next the track—such as it was—disappeared and reappeared as if nature was playing tricks, while during the intervals the guns got into such difficulties that to extricate them it was necessary to multiply the traction power by employing all available manual and animal labour the brigade could provide; the pick and shovel also being much in evidence. Strenuous but futile efforts to carry out the instructions in time brought General Hildyard and his staff on the scene to ascertain the cause of detention; their presence increasing the already existent perturbation the misadventures had created. This contretemps, however, was not a tangible test for the guns. Their mobility, it must be confessed, did not produce a very favourable impression on this occasion, owing to their non-arrival at the rendezvous until near daybreak, the movement, in consequence, having to be abandoned, as darkness was very essential to success. Experientia docet. This nocturnal episode taught us enough to reduce to a minimum the danger of failure to perform a similar movement, and also the imprudence of placing implicit confidence in amateur night guides.

Two days afterwards, the mounted troops and two batteries of Field Artillery, under Lord Dundonald, penetrated the zone of the enemy's defence, drawing their fire, which, though well directed, did no damage.

Determined to obtain personal and topographical knowledge of routes likely to be traversed by the guns, Commander Limpus made daily expeditions abroad for that purpose.

On one of these rambles the commander and Lieutenant Wilde proceeded unarmed towards Chieveley station, some good distance beyond our occupied lines, with the intention of surveying the Boer positions and obtaining certain bearings and distances, the writer accompanying them. When we were about two miles distant from the station, and nearing the place selected for the survey, several horsemen suddenly appeared, coming over a rise of ground well away to the right flank, causing a few anxious moments of guessing who they might be. General Clery, his staff and escort, they luckily proved to be, who were also viewing the enemy's positions. The general considerately informed us that to proceed further would probably mean a continuation of the journey as far as Pretoria, for the enemy were then in occupation of the station. A trip to the Boer capital being just then an undesirable excursion, a retreat was made to the friendly cover afforded by the picquets' rifles, and a survey on a smaller scale made from thence.

General Sir Redvers Buller's arrival at Frere on December 6th was evidenced by the stimulation discernible throughout the entire camp. In the early forenoon an impressive funeral service was read over the victims of the armoured train at the spot where the catastrophe occurred. Representatives from all branches of the force attended, among whom were a few Dublin Fusilier survivors who had escaped both capture and injury. From these some personal details of the episode were obtained, the wrecked, war-torn trucks grimly corroborating the story of a fight which pen could scarcely over-magnify. In the afternoon another strong cavalry reconnaissance, conducted by General Buller in person, was successfully accomplished. It extended beyond Chieveley to the ridge afterwards known as Gun Hill, overlooking the undulating stretch of veldt that slopes towards Colenso and the Tugela. A week of inactivity followed to-day's programme—for the force generally, but not for the generals and their staffs, who were fully occupied elaborating the machinery of war.

Meanwhile, the strength of the Naval Brigade was almost daily increasing, either in personnel, guns, or transport. Such proportions did the strength of the brigade eventually assume, that few would assert the Navy had not received full recognition from General Buller for the various timely services already rendered elsewhere. The war, especially in Natal, had furnished a premonitory lesson on the value of long-range gunnery as a potent factor in this struggle, and naval guns were being largely requisitioned, pro tempore, so that nothing likely to assist in attaining the object of the relief force was being sentimentally withheld.

To follow closely the brigade's history, it will be necessary to revert for a time to Durban.

On 'the departure of the first contingent to the front, under Commander Limpus, the Claremont battery was withdrawn to the town camp (now styled the Town Hall Camp), Lieutenant Drummond commanding. Next day, November 28th, in response to a requisition for instructions as to any further dispositions necessary to be taken for the defence of the town, General Buller wired from 'Maritzburg to Captain Scott as follows :—

" I think you can now make yourself as snug as possible, parking your guns where most convenient for your men, and where giving them least duty. I cannot say for another week or ten days that Durban is absolutely safe, but it looks as if, at present, it was not in immediate danger."

Consequently, within the next few days, the "Fort Denison" battery and other outlying detachments were withdrawn into the town and reorganized. A plan was also drawn up for an emergency landing-party to be disembarked from the ships present in port, officers and men being detailed and held in readiness to comply with the confidential instructions issued on this subject.

Up to the present, news from Ladysmith was entirely conveyed by carrier pigeons, the birds having been patriotically lent by the Durban Homing Society to the military authorities. Messages were thus obtained from the beleaguered town, but none as yet could be transmitted back.

The one-sidedness of this intercourse, however, was soon to be remedied, Captain Scott having submitted a scheme to General Buller whereby news of any description could, with impunity and safety, reach the invested garrison. This scheme was a searchlight with a "Scott's Flasher" attachment.

Another evolution ! The general wired his acceptance of the proffered apparatus, whereupon Lieutenant Ogilvy and Engineer Murray, with their respective electrical and artificer staffs, were landed, and directed to carry out the constructive work with all despatch. The searchlight was borrowed from the Terrible, a dynamo was commandeered from a dredging vessel, a locomotive boiler (requiring considerable overhauling) was requisitioned from the railway authorities, and connections were extemporized, some having to be manufactured. Three railways trucks were furnished, on which the machinery and apparatus were secured in position. About noon, November 30th, within 48 hours of receiving the general's telegram, the searchlight train steamed out of Durban in charge of the aforementioned officers, and, in spite of great official opposition along the line of route, Estcourt was reached at 9 P.m., and Frere by midnight, a cypher message being transmitted to Ladysmith an hour later. This smart evolution could not have been so easily achieved had not Mr. David Hunter (general manager of the Natal Government Railway) placed his entire establishment and staff at the disposal of the commandant. Some of the methods adopted to break through (to use an hiber-nianism) the wire entanglements of military red tape on this journey north would, if seen in print, startle some of the higher authorities. The searchlight apparatus was also usefully employed to supply lighting power while damaged bridges were being repaired by night. Having concluded his mission, Lieutenant Ogilvy returned to Durban next day, leaving the train in charge of Sub-Lieutenant Newcome and Engineer Murray, with whom were Artificer Jones and Yeoman of Signals Arnold, as assistants.

A propos of the pigeon service, a few instances of their efficiency is worth recording. General White, wishing to send a plan of the situation at Ladysmith to General Buller, had it photographed down. Even then it was found too heavy, so it was cut into four sections, each of which was entrusted to a different bird. Presumably all four pigeons were despatched together, for they arrived at the commandant's office, Durban, with an interval of only 25 minutes between the first and last arrival. The distance was about 120 miles in direct line of flight; the time occupied during the passage averaged from six hours upwards. Another bird brought the following message :—

" From General Sir George White to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.

"The General Officer Commanding and the garrison of Ladysmith beg to congratulate Your Royal Highness on the anniversary of your birthday. A royal salute of 21 shells will be fired at the enemy at noon in honour of the occasion.

" Ladysmith, November 9th, 1899."

Ladysmith, like Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, owed much to the carrier-pigeon service.

Early on December 8th, Lieutenant Ogilvy left Durban in command of a second contingent for the front, consisting of 100 officers and men, with eight 12-pounder guns, drawn from the remnant defence force. Lieutenant Melville {Forte), Lieutenants Burne and Deas (Philomel), were the unit commanders. Gunners Wright and Williams, Midshipmen Willoughby, Boldero, Hallwright, and Hodson, were also attached to the battery; and Surgeon Macmillan was in charge of the ambulance section. A special train conveyed them direct to Frere, where they joined the naval headquarter camp, under Captain Jones, the same night.

Two days previously, the four 12-pounders detained at 'Maritzburg had also arrived at the front, the Naval Brigade arrangements being now completed.

The numerical strength of men and guns with the Natal Field Force and Ladysmith Relief Column at this period of the operations was as follows.   Inside Ladysmith, Captain Lambton had under his command 283 officers and men of the Powerful, two 4'7 platform-mounted guns, three 12-pounders mounted on extemporized carriages, one light 12-pounder field gun, and four Maxims. With the Relief Column under Captain Jones, actually at Frere, there were 285 officers and men, two mobile 4'7 guns, and fourteen long-range 12-pounders mounted on extemporized carriages. Of this number, 24 officers and 217 men belonged to the Terrible, who manned all the guns except two 12-pounders, the crews of which were Tartars.

In addition to the foregoing, Lieutenants Anderton and Chiazarri, with 53 petty officers and men of the Natal Naval Volunteers, a well-trained corps, had joined the brigade at Frere, being mainly attached throughout the relief operations to the 4'7 guns. On the lines of communication were four long-range 12-pounders: two at Estcourt, manned by 26 officers and men of the Philomel, under Lieutenant Halsey ; two at Mooi River, under Lieutenant Steele, manned by 25 officers and men of the Forte. These numbers give a grand total of 623 officers and men and 30 guns, landed to date for active service in northern Natal by the Royal Navy, exclusive of naval volunteers.

The naval transport with the Relief Column consisted of 10 colonial conductors, about 100 natives as drivers, etc., over 400 draught oxen for the guns and ammunition waggons, and 15 horses for the staff and unit commanders. More men and guns arrived at the front at a later period of the operations, which, of course, implied more transport; but these will receive due recognition in proper order later on.

The " Per mare, per terram," contingent is next to receive attention. After their return from Cape Colony side, the Royal Marine detachment were employed in and around Durban until all war alarms which threatened the town had ceased. On November 21st, Captain Mullins, Sergeants Peck and Roper, with 28 rank and file, relieved the Tartars from the armoured train. Three days later, and in consequence of the Boer incursions south previously related, a strong outpost was established for the protection of the Umlass waterworks (the Durban supply), some fifteen miles distant in the country. Commanded by Captain Mullins, this force consisted of Sergeants Peck and Stanbridge and 30 men, supported by a 12-pounder field gun manned by 18 bluejackets under Sub-Lieutenant Newcome. The position occupied was on an eminence about 200 feet high, overlooking the waterworks and ford across the Umlass River, three sides being precipitous, while an abattis was constructed to secure the fourth or open side from chance attack. To obtain water a thick tropical undergrowth, among which the python and other dangerous snakes abounded galore, had to be forced through to get at the river. On one water-carrying mission a bluejacket incautiously disturbed a huge python by treading on it. It showed no fight, but tried to glide off, when Sergeant Peck shot it in the head. Its length was exactly nineteen feet, its skin being preserved as a memento of a risky escapade. On November 30th, Sub-Lieutenant Newcome was recalled for service with the searchlight train, and Captain Mullins, then down with a severe dysentery attack, returned on board for treatment. Lieutenant Lawrie, who had previously relieved his captain in command of the armoured train, now replaced him as commanding officer at the waterworks. On December 9th, no further danger being apprehended in that quarter, the Umlass post was withdrawn, and the armoured train also dispensed with. From now the detachment was distributed. Captain Mullins (now convalescent), with two sergeants and 28 men, the 12-pounder field gun and crew, formed the new main guard established at the Town Hall camp. This small force was conspicuously placed in the centre of the town as the outward and visible symbol of martial law, to perform the variable duties the commandant frequently found it necessary to have executed under its powers. Sergeant Lester and nine men were detailed as guard for the hospital ship Nubia. Sergeant Roper, one corporal, and six men, manned one 12-pounder of Lieutenant Richard's unit at the front. Lieutenant Lawrie and the remainder of the detachment returned on board the Terrible for duty. Later, in February, Captain Mullins was appointed recruiting officer for the Colonial Corps, some 500 recruits passing through his hands.   This officer was also military adviser to the commandant.

Before reverting to the main subject—the front—a brief reference to current events which affect the situation as a whole appears necessary; in fact, it deals with two of those three memorable reverses to British arms which made so painful an impression throughout the Empire.

Early in December, General Gatacre moved from Queens-town with the bulk of his force to Sterkstroom, some 30 miles south of Stormberg.    Principally for strategic reasons, viz. to create a diversion of the enemy's attention towards his force while the Kimberley and Ladysmith relief columns were advancing, and also to reoccupy Stormberg, the general decided to drive the enemy from his front.   Consequently, a force about 2700 strong were taken by rail as far as Molteno, where they detrained late on the 9th inst., and from thence made a night march over broken country towards the enemy's positions.   The guides having blundered, dawn was breaking before the column reached their objective.   Continuing the march, now greatly retarded through fruitless travelling in« wrong directions, the British force suddenly became aware of the presence of the enemy from a heavy fusilade opened upon their advance.  Surprised perhaps, but nothing daunted, the intrepid general hurriedly made his dispositions for attacking the almost invulnerable Boer stronghold, bringing his field batteries into action to cover the advance.   The travel-worn troops made a brave attempt to storm the position, which hopelessly failed—Nature had already enervated them for this their baptism of battle.   Retreat followed the repulse, an evolution fraught with every conceivable difficulty, harassed as it was by a fresh and vigorous enemy flushed with success, the two British batteries playing an important and brilliant role during the retirement in preventing retreat becoming a rout.   Eighty-nine killed and wounded and 633 missing and prisoners was the price of this misadvcnturous enterprise.   Collecting the remnant of his force at Molteno, General Gatacre securely held that town for the present. The reverse, though a strategic failure, was insignificant in its effect upon the military situation elsewhere. Politically, however, it was a regrettable incident, occurring as it did in the most disaffected district of Cape Colony, now teeming with virulently disloyal Dutch colonists. The sequence of events now brings the Kimberley relief column to notice.

After the battle of Modder River on November 28th, Lord Methuen, finding his force inadequate to follow up the enemy, entrenched near the river to await reinforcements. These arriving in due course, the general moved forward on December 10th to attack the enemy, who had strongly fortified the Magersfontein kopjes, a few miles north of the river. In the late afternoon, the artillery began the preparative sweeping of the position, the naval guns—one mobile 4'7 and four long-range 12-pounders—assisting the field batteries in the bombardment. Shortly after midnight, Methuen sent the Highland brigade forward to carry out the preliminary plan of battle—a surprise attack ; the Guards brigade and artillery following later. To obviate the danger of dividing his brigade in the dark wet night that prevailed, General Wauchope advanced in close formation, intending to deploy at a certain point on the march previous to delivering the assault. Almost at the moment that the deployment was being effected, which was accidentally protracted until within a few score yards of the Boer trenches, premature disclosure occurred. The consequences were indeed momentous. A hurricane of bullets instantly swept into the unsuspicious Highlanders with withering exactitude, creating irretrievable confusion among their ranks ; the darkness rendering all attempts to regain military formation or disciplinary control utterly futile. Their brave brigadier was slain, and over 700 casualties had occurred within a few minutes. The mysterious night march —a disastrous surprisal—irreparable disorganization—loss of leaders—and an unseen foe dealing forth annihilation at close range, had followed each other in swift succession. Amidst such infernal surroundings there was no alternative but to fall back in face of the pitiless bullets. A panic had been averted, a fact which speaks volumes for the bravery of the Highlanders, whose indomitable pluck in battle is a cherished tradition. They had hastily retired, but with irrepressible clannishness had rallied round their regimental chieftains, had reformed, and were ready to retrieve their misfortune. But this could not done, for when dawn disclosed their location, the hurricane of lead burst forth afresh, compelling the eager brigade to observe the closest cover. With the arrival of the British batteries, succour to some extent was afforded them, but though compelled to abate its severity, the enemy never sufficiently slackened their fire to permit of any attempt to redeem the day. The field batteries went into action at close range, rendering exceptionally brilliant service throughout the fight; their own position at certain times becoming somewhat hazardous. The naval guns were also conspicuously in evidence for the amount of moral and material damage inflicted by them, and the suppression of fire they effected. Meanwhile, the general advanced his whole force in hopes of penetrating the Boer position, the enemy making counter flanking movements requiring exceptional leading and severe fighting to repel. Circumstances finally compelled the sorely tried Highlanders to be withdrawn from the fighting line, where they had been perilously exposed for many hours to a deadly rifle fire, and a scorching sun which had blistered their prostrate bodies and produced an intense thirst that could not be assuaged. Neither generalship or bravery, nor gun power, could depose the tenacious Boers from their rocky stronghold, which appeared to bristle everywhere with rifles. The enemy's position being thus unassailable in front, and a detour to outflank it being impossible with the resources available, Lord Methuen ordered the inevitable withdrawal beyond the range of the enemy's guns, which had been inexplicably silent throughout the fight until just prior to the retirement. Thus ended the battle of Magersfontein, the second of that trio of misfortunes which made December, 1899, a disastrously memorable month. Nevertheless, except for the moral and political benefits usually associated with victories, the Boers, as at Stormberg, had not gained the slightest military advantage. Both sides were in the peculiar position of check, the result of lack of strategical knowledge on the part of the Boer generals of how to make the most of the military situation, and absence of necessary strength to reassume the offensive on the part of the British. The enemy, however, did not enjoy complete immunity, for the ubiquitous General French was actively operating in the Colesberg district between the two British columns, keeping the enemy in a state of constant disquietude. His harassing operations prevented further invasion of the colony, and effectually checked any projected flanking designs directed against either British force.

Returning to Natal and the main subject, General Buller is found ready to strike his first blow for the relief of Ladysmith. The completion of the temporary trestle bridge at Frere had restored railway traffic towards the Tugela, thus providing the general with the desired mobility which would considerably lessen the difficulties of advance, and afford rapid communication with his base.

On December 12th Barton's Infantry Brigade moved from Frere and occupied Gun Hill, just beyond Chieveley station. Captain Jones, Commander Limpus, and the naval staff, with the two 4'7 guns and 12-pounder units of Lieutenants Richards, Burns, and Wilde, accompanied the advance.

Next day the naval guns heavily bombarded the Colenso positions at ranges varying from 7000 yards upwards to nearly double that distance. Much visible damage was done to the enemy's works, but little sign did the enemy vouchsafe that they were in strong tenancy of those rugged hills, among which the relief force were destined to wage so many a bitterly contested fight.

On the 14th the naval guns, protected by a strong escort, moved forward fo a low kopje (Shooters Hill) west of the railway, about 2000 yards nearer the enemy's central positions. Fort Wylie, a kopje terraced with intrenchments and honeycombed safety shelters in its rear, was especially singled out for shell practice. This position stood conspicuously forth as effectually commanding the railway and road bridges over the Tugela, the village of Colenso, and also overlooked the stretch of veldt country between the river and Chieveley. Although the 4'7 guns sent scores of shell crashing with thunderous force into their boulderous breastworks, and searched with lyddite all located trenches for quite two hours, the enemy maintained the exasperating equanimity of yesterday. The firing, however, was not altogether a futile expenditure of ammunition, for much verification of ranges, besides the location of hitherto unknown trenches and positions resulted, and the knowledge so obtained proved invaluable on the morrow.

An apt reminiscence of Fort Wylie, closely associated with our present comrades of the Natal Naval Volunteers, seems apropos to relate just here. On Ladysmith becoming invested, the Boers pressed south to secure this all-important position, then held by the Dublin Fusiliers and this particular detachment of naval volunteers. Supported by field guns, the Boers occupied the adjacent hills which dominated the British position, rendering it untenable, and necessitating a hasty retirement to avoid being cut off. The volunteers had two small prehistoric field guns with them, mounted on Fort Wylie's summit, and, when retreat became inevitable, received orders to disable their guns and leave them behind. Instead, however, of our sturdy colonial friends complying, Lieutenant Anderton held a hurried council of war with his merry men, whereat it was decided to take the venerated guns with them. Suiting their action to the decision arrived at, they first fired their ammunition at the advancing Boers as if stubborn resistance was intended. This stratagem had the desired effect, bringing the enemy to a standstill, and thus enabling the volunteers to carry out a successful manoeuvre. Over the hillside the guns were rolled, taken across the river, and dragged by hand over the veldt to the train in Colenso, which was only awaiting their arrival before steaming away south to safety. It was a fine evolution, which obtained high commendation for the performance, though official censure followed for the infraction of orders. Lieutenant Anderton was evidently emulating the Nelson incident at Copenhagen, when that naval hero applied the telescope to his blind eye, to avoid seeing the signal to cease the action.

The eve of battle had arrived. Towards the close of day the main body of the relief army had marched over from Frere camp. Lieutenant Ogilvy arrived with six 12-pounders, two having been left behind under Lieutenant Melville to support the military force remaining to guard Frere and the large reserve of military supplies collected there. That evening the General Orders were issued to the respective brigadiers and commanding officers of detached units for the planned attack on Colenso, which was to take place on the early morrow.

Assembling the brigade, Commander Limpus informed them of the main instructions received from headquarters and of the proposed methods for executing them, impressing on the officers and responsible individuals the necessity for implicitly following the orders he had carefully explained. Later, after dark, the guns were withdrawn from the top of the kopje, and, together with all our impedimenta, got ready for moving off at the appointed hour next morning, a few hours' rest occupying the brief space of time which intervened betwixt the calm of the camp and the storm of to-morrow's battle.

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