On reaching Pretoria, almost unopposed, our Guardsmen jumped to the hasty and quite unjustifiable conclusion that the campaign was closing, and that in the course of about another fortnight some of us would be on our homeward way. They forgot that after a candle has burned down into its socket it may still flare and flicker wearisomely long before it finally goes out. War lights just such a candle, and no extinguisher has yet been patented for the instant quenching of its flame just when our personal convenience chances to clamour for such quenching. Indeed, the "flare and flicker" period sometimes proves, where war is concerned, scarcely less prolonged, and much more harassing, than the period of the full-fed flame. So Norman William found after the battle of Hastings. So Cromwell proved when the fight at Worcester was over. So the Americans discovered when they had captured Manila. Our occupation of Bloemfontein by no means made us instant masters of the whole Free State, and our presence in Pretoria we had yet to learn was not at all the same thing as the undisputed possession of the entire Transvaal. Indeed, the period that actually interposed between the two, proved the longest "fortnight" ever recorded.
[Sidenote: Lord Milner's explanation.]
How that came about, however, is made quite clear by the following extract from the High Commissioner's despatches:--
If it had been possible for us to screen those portions of the conquered territory, which were fast returning to peaceful pursuits, from the incursions of the enemy still in the field, a great deal of what is now most deplorable in the condition of South Africa would never have been experienced. The vast extent of the country, the necessity of concentrating our forces for the long advance, first to Pretoria and then to Koomati Poort, resulted in the country already occupied being left open to raids, constantly growing in audacity, and fed by small successes, on the part of a few bold and skilful guerilla leaders who had nailed their colours to the mast.
The reappearance of these disturbers of the peace, first in the south-east of the Orange River Colony, then in the south-west of the Transvaal, and finally in every portion of the conquered territory, placed those of the inhabitants who wanted to settle down in a position of great difficulty. Instead of being made prisoners of war, they had been allowed to remain on their farms on taking the oath of neutrality, and many of them were really anxious to keep it. But they had not the strength of mind, nor from want of education, a sufficient appreciation of the sacredness of the obligation which they had undertaken, to resist the pressure of their old companions in arms when these reappeared among them appealing to their patriotism and to their fears. In a few weeks or months the very men whom we had spared and treated with exceptional leniency were up in arms again, justifying their breach of faith in many cases by the extraordinary argument that we had not preserved them from the temptation to commit it.
[Sidenote: The Boer way of saying "Bosh".]
Early in the long halt near Pretoria, at Silverton Camp, the Guards' Brigade was formally assembled to hear read a telegram from H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, congratulating them on the practical termination of the war; whereupon as though by positive prearrangement the Boers plumped a protesting shell in startlingly close proximity to where our cheering ranks not long before had stood. It was the Boer way of saying "bosh" to our ill-timed boast that the war was over.
Botha and his irreconcilables were at this time occupying a formidable position, with a frontage of fifteen miles, near Pienaar's Poort, where the Delagoa line runs through a gap in the hills, fifteen miles east of Pretoria; and this position Lord Roberts found it essential to attack with 17,000 men and seventy guns on Monday, June 11th, that is just a week after the neighbouring capital had surrendered. The fighting extended over three days; French attacking on our left, Hamilton on our right, and Pole Carew in the centre keenly watching the development of these flanking movements. In the course of this stubborn contest the invisible Boers did for one brief while become visible, as they galloped into the open in hope of capturing the Q Battery, which had already won for itself renown by redeeming Sanna's Post from complete disaster. Then it was Hamilton ordered the memorable cavalry charge of the 12th Lancers, which saved the guns, and scattered the Boers, but cost us the life of its gallant and God-fearing Colonel Lord Airlie, who before the war greatly helped me in my work at Aldershot. The death of such a man made the battle of Diamond Hill a mournfully memorable one; for Lord Airlie combined in his own martial character the hardness of the diamond with its lustrous pureness; and his last words just before the fatal bullet pierced his heart, were said to be a characteristic rebuke of an excited and perhaps profane sergeant: "Pray, moderate your language!" Wholesome advice, none too often given, and much too seldom heeded!
[Sidenote: News from a far Country.]
As the inevitable result of this further fighting, the men who had fondly hoped to be shortly on their way to Hyde Park Corner, suffered just then from a severe attack of heart-sickness, which was none other than a passing spasm of home-sickness! "Home, sweet home" sighed they, "and we never knew how sweet till now"! Meanwhile, however, we were wonderfully well supplied with home news, for within a single fortnight no less than 360 sacks of letters and various postal packets reached the Guards' Brigade, in spite of whole mails being captured by the Boers, and hosts of individual letters or parcels having gone hopelessly astray. Official reports declare that a weekly average of nearly 750,000 postal items were sent from England to the army in South Africa throughout the whole period covered by the war, so that it is quite clear we were not forgotten by loved ones far away, and the knowledge of that fact afforded solace, if not actual healing, even for those whose heart-sickness was most acute.
[Sidenote: Further fighting.]
Early in July, the commander-in-chief had accumulated sufficient supplies, and secured sufficient remounts, to make a further advance possible. On the 7th, the Boers were pushed back by Hutton to Bronkers Spruit, where as the sequel of the Diamond Hill fight on June 12th, the Australians had surprised and riddled a Boer laager. While however Botha was thus sullenly retreating eastward, he secretly despatched a strong detachment round our left wing to the north-west of Pretoria under the leadership of Delarey, who on the 11th flung himself like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky on a weak post at Nitral's Nek, and there captured two guns with 200 prisoners. On July 16th, Botha himself once more attacked our forces, but was again driven off by Generals Pole Carew and Hutton; and the surrender on the 29th of General Prinsloo, with over 4000 Boers and three guns in the Orange River Colony, secured our remoter lines of communication from a very formidable menace, so clearing the course for another onward move.
[Sidenote: Touch not, taste not, handle not.]
On Tuesday, July 24th, the Guards' Brigade said good-bye to Donkerhook, where their camp had become a fixture since the fight on Diamond Hill, and where their conduct once more won my warmest admiration. In the very midst of that camp, in which so many thousands of men tarried so long, were sundry farmhouses, and Kaffir homes, the occupants of which were never molested from first to last, nor any of their belongings touched, except as the result of a perfectly voluntary sale and purchase. Indeed, the identic day we left, turkeys, geese, ducks, and other "small deer," were still wandering round their native haunts, none daring to make them afraid. The owners had declined to sell; and our ever hungry men had honourably refrained from laying unpermitted hands on these greatly enjoyable dainties. Such honesty in a hostile land, in relation to the property of a hostile peasantry, made me marvel; and still more when maintained in places where unmistakable treachery had been practised as in this identic neighbourhood.
At Wolmaran's pleasant country house, close beside our camp, the white flag flew, and there our general took up his abode. Some members of this well-known family were still out on commando, but those that remained at home eagerly surrendered all arms, were profuse in professions of friendliness, and were duly pledged to formal neutrality. But a recent Transvaal law had reduced the wages of all Kaffirs from about twenty shillings to a uniform five shillings a week, and Wolmaran's unpaid or ill-paid negroes revenged themselves by revealing their master's secrets. Partly as the result of hints thus obtained, we found hidden in his garden over thirty rifles, the barrel of a Maxim gun, and about £10,000 in gold--presumably Government money; also a splendid supply of provisions was discovered--presumably Government stores; and in the family cemetery there was dug up a quantity of dynamite. The gentleman who thus gave up his arms, and in this fashion kept his oath, at once became our prisoner, but his house and its contents remained untouched. And when we left, some of his barndoor fowls were still there to see us off!
This is a notable but typical illustration of the way in which, with unwise leniency, surrendered burghers were allowed access to our camps, and recompensed our reliance on their honour by revealing our secrets to our foes, and, when they dared, unearthing their buried arms to level them once more at our too confiding troops.
[Sidenote: More treachery and still more.]
A march of fifteen or eighteen miles brought us to Bronkhorst Spruit, the scene of a dastardly massacre in December 1880, of the men of the Connaught Rangers, who, ere yet there was any declaration of war, were marching with their wives and children from Lydenburg to Pretoria. I stood bareheaded beside one of the mounds that hide their bones, close to the roadside where they fell, and bethought me of the strange Providence through which, nearly twenty years after the event, there was now marching past those very graves a vast avenging army on its way to those same mountain fastnesses whence our murdered comrades of the long ago set out on their fatal journey. Sowing and reaping are often far apart; but there is no sundering them!
At our mess dinner that same evening the conversation turned to the kindred, but still more shameful deed recently devised, though happily in vain, at Johannesburg. There Cordua had indeed been out-Corduad by a conspiracy to assassinate in cold blood all the military officers attending some sports about to be held under military patronage at the racecourse. About eighty of the conspirators were captured in the very act of completing their plans. Nearly three hundred more were said to be implicated, and being chiefly of foreign extraction were quietly sent out of the country. It was the biggest thing in plots, and the wildest, that recent years have seen outside Russia.
[Sidenote: The root of the matter.]
One often wonders how it comes to pass that people so demonstratively religious prove in so many cases conspicuously devoid of truth and honour and common honesty; but various explanations, each setting forth some partial contributory cause, may easily be conceived.
As among Britons, so among Boers, there are, as a matter of course, varying degrees of loyalty to the moral law, and of sincerity in religious profession. It is therefore manifestly unfair to condemn a whole people because of individual immoralities. The outrageous deeds just described may well have been in large part the work of "lewd fellows of the baser sort," a sort of which the Transvaal has unfortunately no monopoly, and of which the better type of Boer scorns to become the apologist. Moreover, Johannesburg drew to itself with a rush a huge number not only of honourable adventurers, but also of wastrels, representing every class and clime under heaven. Many of these were commandeered or volunteered for service on the Boer side when war broke out, and by their lawlessnesses proved almost as great a terror to their friends as to their foes. Young Cordua was of foreign birth, and there were few genuine Boers among the Johannesburg conspirators; but it was the Transvaal they blindly sought to serve; and so on the shoulders of the whole Transvaal community is laid, none too justly, the entire blame for such mistakes.
Then too, however mistakenly, I cannot but think the peculiar type of piety cherished by the Boers is largely responsible for the moral obliquity of which, justly or unjustly, I heard complaints continually from those who professed to know them well. These sons of the Huguenots and of the Dutch refugees who fled from the persecuting zeal of Alva have all sprung from an exceptionally religious stock, and with dogged conservatism still cling to the rigid traditions and narrow beliefs of a bygone age. The country-bred Boer resembles not remotely our own Puritans and Covenanters. He and his are God's Elect, and the Elect of the Lord have ever seemed prone to take liberties with the law of the Lord. They deem themselves a chosen race to whom a new Canaan has been divinely given, and in defence of whom Jehovah Himself is bound to fight. At the commencement of the campaign it was common talk that "they had commandeered the Almighty." Their piety and practice are largely modelled on Old Testament lines. They used God's name and quoted Scripture ad nauseam even in State correspondence. Their President was also their High Priest; yet in business transactions they were reputed to be as slim as Jacob in his dealings with Laban; and a lack of loyalty to the exact truth, some of their own clergy say, had become almost a national characteristic. "The bond-slave of my mere word I will never be" has often been quoted as a Boer proverb; and those that had lived long in the land assured me that proverb and practice too commonly keep company.
It is a perilous thing for men or nations to deem themselves in any exclusive sense Heaven's favourites. Such conceptions do not minister to heavenly-mindedness, or beget lives of ethic beauty. The ancient Hebrews, blinded by this very belief, became "worse than the heathen," and herein lies a solemn warning alike for the beaten Boer and the boastful Briton! There is no true religion where there is no all round righteousness; and wheresoever that is wanting the wrath of God cannot but abide.
[Sidenote: A tight fit.]
Our next day's march ended just as a heavy thunderstorm with still heavier rain broke upon us; so the Grenadier officers pitched their mess as close as they could get to the sheltering wall of a decidedly stenchful Kaffir cottage. There we stood in the drenching wet and ate our evening meal, which was lunch and dinner in one. In that one-roomed cottage, with a smoking fire on the floor and a heap of mealie corn-cobs in the corner, there slept that night two Kaffir men, one Kaffir woman, four Kaffir piccaninnies, four West Australian officers, one officer of the Guards on the corn-cobs, a quantity of live poultry, and a dead goat; its sleep, of course, being that from which there is no awaking. That they were not all stifled before morning is astonishing, but the fact remains that the goat alone failed to greet the dawn.
Nearly every man in the camp was that night soaked to the skin, and for once the Guards made no attempt to sing at or to sing down the storm. As they apologetically explained at breakfast time, they were really "too down on their luck" to try. But with my usual good fortune I managed to pass the night absolutely dry, and that too without borrowing a corner of that horrid Kaffir cottage. The next night found us at Brugspruit, close to a colliery, where we stayed a considerable while, and managed to house ourselves in comparative comfort, that gradually became near akin to luxury. Here the junior officers courteously assisted me to shovel up an earthen shelter, with a sheet of corrugated iron for a roof, and thus protected I envied no millionaire his marble halls, though my blankets were sometimes wet with evening dew, and the ground white with morning frost.
[Sidenote: Obstructives on the Rail.]
During the long halt of the Grenadiers at Brugspruit, the Scots Guards remained at Balmoral, moving thence to Middelburg, and one of the Coldstream battalions was detailed to guard the Oliphant River, station, and bridge, which I crossed when on my way to Middelburg to conduct a Sunday parade service there; but at the river station the train tarried too brief a while and the battalion was too completely hidden on the far side of a rough kopje to permit my gaining even a passing glance of their camp. In South Africa full often the so-called sheep and their appointed shepherd found themselves thus unwittingly forbidden to see each others' face.
A little later on we found the line in possession, not of the Boers, but of a big drove of horses which seemed bent on proving that they could outdo even the Boers themselves in the rapidity of their retreat before an advancing foe. Mile after mile they galloped, but mile after mile they kept to the track, just in front of our engine, which whistled piercingly and let off steam as though in frantic anger. Presently we slowed down almost to a walking pace, for we had no wish to spill the blood or crush the bones of even obstructive horses. But as we slowed our pace they provokingly slackened theirs, and when once more we put on steam they did the same. So in sheer desperation our guard dismounted and ran himself completely out of breath, while he pelted the nearest of the drove with stones, and sought to scare it with flourishes of his official cap. But that horse behaved like a dull-headed ass, and cared no more for the waving of official caps than for the wild screaming of our steam whistle. We were losing time horribly fast because our pace was thus made so horribly slow. Finally a pilot engine came down from Middelburg to ascertain what had become of our long belated train, and this unlooked for movement from the rear fortunately proved too much for the nerves of even such determined obstructionists. It scared them as effectually as a flanking movement scared the Boers. They broke in terror from the line and, Boerlike, vanished.
[Sidenote: Middelburg and the Doppers.]
Middelburg we found to be a thriving village, which will probably grow into an important town when the mineral wealth of the district is in due time developed. At present the principal building is as usual the Dutch Reformed Church, the pastor of which had forsaken the female portion of his flock to follow the fortunes of the fighting section. There are also two good-sized Dopper churches, which habitually remain void and empty all the year round, except on one Sunday in each quarter, when the farmer folk come from near and far to hold a fair, and to celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper--"The night meal," as they appropriately call it. These are the four great events of the Dopper year, and of this tiny city's business life.
The Dopper is the ultra Boer of South Africa, the Puritan of Puritans, the Covenanter of Covenanters, whose religious creed and conduct are compacted of manifold rigidities, and who would deem it as unpardonable a sin to shave off his beard, as it would have been for an early Methodist preacher to wear one. Formerly Doppers and Methodists both piously combed their hair over their foreheads, and clipped it in a straight line just above the eyebrows. But alas! in this as in many other directions, Methodists and Doppers have alike become "subject to vanity." In these degenerate days "the fringe" has flitted from the masculine to the feminine brow; and now that it is "crinkled" no longer claims to be a badge of superior sanctity. In one of these Dopper churches the Rev. W. Frost long conducted Wesleyan services, the crowding troops having made our own church far too small.
The other, on the occasion of my first visit, was occupied by Canon Knox Little, who there conducted the Anglican parade service, and preached with great fervour from the very pulpit whence, some months before, President Kruger had delivered a discourse presumably of a decidedly different type. But the Wesleyan church immediately adjoining the camping ground of the 2nd Coldstream battalion, which I had the privilege that day of reopening, was at a later period used for a brief while by the Roman Catholic chaplains. War is a strange revolutionist if not always a reformer.
[Sidenote: August Bank Holiday.]
The next day, which was August Bank Holiday, I returned in safety to Brugspruit, but only to discover that in those parts even railway travelling had become a thing of deadly peril. I there saw two trains just arrived from Pretoria, the trucks filled with remount horses and cavalry men on their way to join General French's force. The first engine bore three bullet holes in its encasing water tank, holes which the driver had hastily plugged with wood, so preventing the loss of all his water and the fatal stoppage of the train. Several of the trucks were riddled with bullet-holes, and in one I saw a dead horse, shot, lying under the feet of its comrades; while in another truck, splashed with great clots of blood, similarly lay yet another horse almost dead. Several more were wounded but still remained upon their feet, and still had before them a journey of many miles ere their wounds could receive attention, or the living be severed from the dead. For horses this has been a specially fagging and fatal war, and for them there are no well-earned medals!
The second engine bore kindred bullet holes in its water tank. A shot had smashed the glass in the window of the break-van in which some officers were travelling; and in one of the trucks I was shown a hole in the thick timber made by a bullet, which, after passing through two inches of wood, had pierced a lancer's breast and killed him, besides shattering the wrist of yet another lancer. Those trains had just been fired at by a mounted Boer patrol which had caught our men literally napping. Most of them were lying fast asleep in the bottom of the trucks, with their unloaded carbines beside or under them, so that not a solitary reply shot was fired as the trains sped past the point of peril.
After repeated disasters of this kind had occurred, orders were issued forbidding men to travel in such careless and unguarded fashion; while all journeying that was not indispensible was peremptorily stopped! My own contemplated visit to Pretoria next day was consequently postponed till there came some more urgent call or some more convenient season.
On this part of the line the troops had often to be their own stokers and drivers, with the result that sniping Boers were not the only peril a passenger had to fear. From Dalmanutha in those delightsome days a train was due to start as usual with one engine behind and one in front. The driver of the leading engine blew his whistle and opened his regulator. The driver of the back engine did the same, but somehow the train refused to move. It was supposed the breaks were on, but it was presently discovered that the rear engine had reversed its gear, and there had thus commenced a tug of war--the one engine pulling its hardest against the other and neither winning a prize. In those days railway life became rich in comedies and tragedies, especially the latter, whereof let one further illustration of much later date, as described by Mr Burgess, suffice:--
[Sidenote: Blowing up trains.]
At Heidelberg on Thursday, March 7th, at ten o'clock in the morning there was a loud report as of a gun firing from one of the forts; but it was soon known that it was an explosion of dynamite on the line about a mile and a half from the railway station. The Boers had evidently placed dynamite under the metals, and it is supposed that while they were doing this, a number of them came down and engaged the outposts, and that was the firing that was heard in the town. A flat trolley with a European ganger and seven coolies and natives went over the first mine without exploding it; but on reaching the second, about a mile beyond, an explosion took place. The ganger after being blown fifty feet, escaped most miraculously with only a few bruises. Sad to relate three Indians were blown to pieces so as hardly to be recognised, and two others were seriously hurt. Immediately after this first explosion, a construction train left the Heidelberg railway station, and exploded the mine which the trolley had failed to explode; but fortunately very little damage was done as they had taken the precaution to place a truck in front of the engine. The second explosion occurred about a mile from the station and was plainly visible to those standing on the platform.
[Sidenote: A peculiar Mothers' Meeting.]
On setting out a second time from Brugspruit for Middleburg to conduct the Sunday services there, I was astonished to find the train consisted of about a dozen trucks, some open, some closed, but all filled to overflowing with Dutch women and Dutch children of every sort and size. Flags were fluttering from almost every truck, no khaki man carrying arms was suffered to travel by that train, and when the Roman Catholic chaplain and myself entered the break-van we seemed to be taking charge of a gigantic Mothers' Meeting out for a holiday, babies and all, or else to be escorting a big Sunday School to "Happy Hampstead" for its annual treat. It was the second large consignment of the sort which General Botha had consented to receive, and of which we were anxious to be rid. They were some of the wives and offspring of his fighting men, and were in most cases foodless, friendless, dependent for their daily bread on British bounty. It was therefore more fitting their own folk should feed them, as they were abundantly able and willing to do. Moreover, among them were women who had acted as spies, while others had hidden arms in their homes, so that to us they had become a serious peril, as well as a serious expense. We were consequently glad to be quit of them, and sincerely regretted that the capture of Barberton later on made us again their custodians.
[Sidenote: Aggressive Ladies.]
Our first parade service next morning was held in the Wesleyan church, and was followed by open-air worship in the outlying encampment of the Scots Guards. The evening voluntary service was delightfully hearty and delightfully well attended. But most of the afternoon was spent at the railway station waiting for and watching the arrival of yet another train load of women and children on their way to realms beyond! Seven-and-twenty truck loads presently reached Middelburg in most defiant mood, for they waved their home-made Transvaal flags in our faces; they had bedecked themselves with Transvaal ribbons and Transvaal rosettes almost from head to foot. They shaded their faces with parasols in which the four Transvaal colours were combined; and they sang with every possible variety of discordancy Transvaal hymns, especially the Transvaal national anthem. But unless these gentle ladies can cook and stitch vastly better than they seemed able to sing, their husbands and brothers are much to be pitied.
Their patriotism was so pronounced and aggressive that they literally spat at the soldiers, and assured them that no money of theirs would ever suffice to purchase the paltriest flag they carried. The seeds of ill-will and hate for all things British had been planted in the mind and heart of almost every Boer child long before the war began, but those seeds ripened rapidly, and the reaping bids fair to be prolonged.
[Sidenote: A Dutch Deacon's Testimony.]
Before this weary conflict came to a close, nearly every Boer family was gathered in from the perils and privations of the war-wasted veldt; and so, while nearly 30,000 burghers were detained as prisoners of war at various points across the sea, their wives and children, to the number of over 100,000, were tenderly cared for in English laagers all along the line of rails or close to conveniently situated towns. Slanderous statements have been made as to the treatment meted out to these unfortunates, for which my visits revealed no warrant; but of more value is the testimony of one of their own church officials, who carefully inspected the women's refuge camp at Port Elizabeth, and reported the result to the local Intelligence Department. This deacon of the Dutch Reformed Church, Mr T. J. Ferreira, says:--
I came down here on hearing of the reports at Steytlerville of the bad treatment the women exiles are receiving from the military. I was determined to find out the truth, and publish same in the Dutch and English papers. I stayed in the camp all day, and dined with the exiles. The food was excellent--I had roast lamb, soup, potatoes, bread, coffee, and biscuits. All was well cooked and perfectly satisfactory; the soup and meat were especially well cooked. The women and children are happy, have no complaints, and are quite content to stay where they are until they can return to their homes. I shall return to Steytlerville and let everybody know how humane the treatment is. The statement that the women were ragged and barefooted and had to bathe within sight of the military is a shameful falsehood.
[Sidenote: A German Officer's Testimony.]
On August the 24th General Pole Carew with the Guards' Brigade occupied Belfast, and a few days later Roberts and Buller combined to drive Botha from the last position along the Delagoa Line that he made any serious attempt to defend; and among those taken prisoners by us at Dalmanutha was a German officer, who in due time was sent to Ceylon, and there acquired enough knowledge of English to express in it his views concerning the Boers he served, and the British he opposed. He says among other things that he was wounded five times and received no pay for all his pains. He declares concerning the Boers that "they often ran away from commando and kept quiet, and said to the English that they would not fight any more; but when the district was pacified they took up arms again and looted. They don't know anything about word of honour or oath. They put white flags upon their houses, and fired in the neighbourhood of them. The English were far too lenient at the beginning, and therefore they are now at the opposite extreme.
"You should have seen the flourishing Natal, how it was laid waste by the Boers. This looting instinct in them is far stronger than the fighting one. There were also lots of Boers who were praying the whole day instead of fighting; and their officers were perhaps the best prayers and preachers, but certainly the worst fighters; whereas I must confess that the English, although they were headed by very bad generals, very often behaved like good soldiers and finally defeated the greatest difficulties.
"The English infantry is splendidly brave and rather skilful; they are good shots too. Tommy Atkins is a wonderful, merry, good-hearted chap, always full of fun and good spirits, and he behaves very kind towards the prisoners.
"When I was captured, an English colonel who was rather haughty, asked me which English general I thought the best; whereupon I instantly answered 'Tommy Atkins!'"
That clever German critic merely put an old long ago discovered truth in new form! "If I blundered," said Wellington, "I could always rely on my soldiers to pull me through." General Pole Carew when, near the close of the war, he was presented with a sword of honour by my native city, Truro, repeated the remark of a distinguished continental soldier attached to his division, who said after seeing British soldiers marching bootless and fighting foodless, he placed the British army "foremost among European armies." So say they all! The German prisoner in Ceylon spoke words of truth and soberness when he said our private soldier is in some respects our best general.
General Tommy Atkins I salute you! You are a credit to your country!