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fontein, Bulfontein and Springs, with Lieutenant-General French in command. Meanwhile, the Pretoria-Middelburg line was reinforced and the country cleared so that other small columns could join in the sweeping movement. General French moved eastward on January 28 and forced Beyers' commando from strong positions commanding the valley of the Wilge River. Having encountered little further opposition he entered Ermelo on February 6 and learned that a determined attack had been made on General Smith-Dorrien moving down from Carolina, the British losing 23 killed and 52 wounded. Finally, General French drove the enemy into the corner south-east of Piet Retief. The result of the movement was that Botha's intended invasion of Natal was completely frustrated ; but Botha, with 3,000 men succeeded, by a night march, in passing through General French's lines, moving north across the railway into the Roos Senekal district. Though cooped up he had once more evaded capture. During the progress of General French's movements the Boers had, however, lost 296 in killed, 177 prisoners, 555 surrendered prisoners, 8 guns, 784 rifles, 199,300rounds rifle ammunition, and a very large number of horses, cattle, sheep and waggons, while an enormous quantity of grain and forage had been seized and destroyed. The British had lost 5 officers and 41 men killed, and 4 officers and 108 men wounded.
Meanwhile the men forming the commandoes which were to follow De Wet reassembled at Winburg, and on the 23rd were led across the railway line, making for the Doornberg, where there was a Boer stronghold. Lord Kitchener sent two columns against them under General Knox from Kroonstad, and General Bruce Hamilton from Leeuwkop; but De Wet broke up his laager, dashed between the two columns before they were in striking distance, and rushed southward for the Tabaksberg, with General Knox hot upon his heels. General Knox caught up the rearguard at the Tabaksberg and fought an action. During the chase Lord Kitchener had ordered Bruce Hamilton's troops to Winburg and entrained them for Bloemfontein, with the hope of intercepting De Wet on the BloemfonteinLadybrand line. Bad weather, however, was fatal to celerity of movement, and as De Wet was able to shake off Knox, who was hampered by transport movements, he crossed the Bloemfontein-Thabanchu line near Israel's Poort. Rapidly outpacing Knox and Bruce Hamilton, his commando (2,300 men with 2 guns) swept southward to Cape Colony.
A new disposition of troops then became necessary. Knox and Bruce Hamilton's forces were called back to Bloemfontein and entrained for Bethulie; the troops in the Aliwal district were reinforced ; and a strong mobile column placed at Naaupoort. Additional mounted infantry (900 men) had at this juncture arrived from England and were sent there, and Lieutenant-General Lyttelton was transferred from Middelburg to
1901.) South Africa.—De Wet in and out of Cape Colony. [379 Naaupoort to direct the operations against De Wet, who, after a rest in the De Wetsdorp district, marched towards the Orange River east of the railway. His object had been to cross at Norval's Pont; here he found his way blocked, but he turned towards Sand Drift. This was on February 4. Troops were sent from Naaupoort towards the drift, but they were too late, meeting the Boers coming south from the drift and driving them westward. Knox and Bruce Hamilton followed the Boers through the drift and a vigorous pursuit was made, in very bad weather and over sodden ground, which made transport most difficult. On the 14th Plumer got into touch with the enemy, who left large numbers of waggons and much ammunition behind him. He declined to fight and dashed on with the object of finding Hertzog; but the several British columns headed De Wet off to the Orange River again, west of Hopetown. The river was in flood. It seemed that at last De Wet was run down and cornered, but a portion of his force crossed the river notwithstanding the flood, while De Wet, with the remnants, dashed past Hopetown towards Petrusville, where he was joined by Hertzog's commando, and by a series of rapid marches and baffling changes of direction was “ lost ” between Britstown and Strydenburg, eventually crossing the Orange River again, without opposition, between Sand Drift and Colesberg Bridge. Hertzog, it appeared, had reached Lambert's Bay, but had found no ship. De Wet's invasion of Cape Colony had been thwarted; he had lost 200 prisoners (besides killed and wounded) and all his guns, ammunition and waggons. On the other hand, while he was being pursued northward and through the Orange River Colony again he had left Scheepers' and Kritzinger's commandoes in Cape Colony, and though they gained few recruits they had many sympathisers, who rendered them better service as guides and news-bearers than if they had actually joined their ranks.
In the early days of February Lord Methuen had been dealing with a determined incursion of the enemy from the south-western part of the Transvaal into Griqualand ; Generals Babington and Cunningham had been on the track of Delarey and other commandoes in the west ; on the Standerton-Heidelberg line there had been constant encounters with parties of railway-destroyers and train-wreckers; and on the Delagoa line Major-General Kitchener had been engaged with Boers in the Roos Senekal district. Meanwhile Lord Kitchener had been strengthening the chain of fortified posts along the railways, so as to release as many men as possible for the work of hunting down the enemy, and had established organised camps where surrendered burghers and their families could live under British protection, these places of concentration being eventually taken over by the civilian authorities.
We left De Wet flying northwards through the Orange River Colony with Lyttelton's columns in hot pursuit. Plumer
caught up his rearguard at Fauresmith on March 4. De Wet was then twenty-four hours ahead on the Petrusburg Road. But by the time Plumer reached the Modder on the 7th, De Wet's force had vanished, and whither De Wet himself had gone was unknown. During the progress of this pursuit General Lyttelton had crossed the country between the Orange River and the Thabanchu-Ladybrand line, the Boers keeping on the run and evading our pursuit, though losing 70 prisoners, over 4,000 horses and many cattle. Concurrently, also, Colonel Williams had conducted similar operations to the south-east of Heilbron, capturing large quantities of grain and ammunition. In the lull that followed the dispersal of De Wet's force Lord Kitchener reorganised the mobile troops in the Orange River Colony, dividing the Colony into four districts, each under the control of a general officer responsible for dealing with any concentration of the enemy, and for systematically clearing the country of horses, cattle and supplies. The southern district was given to General Lyttelton, the central to Major-General Knox, the northern to Major-General E. L. Elliot, and the eastern to Lieutenant-General Rundle. It is needless to follow the work done in these districts in detail during the latter part of March and in April. It is enough to say that steady progress was made in clearing the country,
In the Eastern Transvaal incessant rains, inaugurating the South African winter, which lasts from April to September, had made the general eastward movement under French, who had been sent thither again, extremely slow and difficult ; but as the country was traversed it had been well searched, and several buried guns and stores of ammunition had been discovered. The Luneburg-Utrecht route was, however, abandoned as a line of supply, and the troops fell back gradually towards Natal, a column being left to move down the Blood River Valley and clear the country to the right of General French's advance. At the same time columns under General Smith-Dorrien and Lieutenant-Colonels Campbell and Allenby were operating on the Swaziland border, where an organised force of Boers were attempting to break north. In one attempt they lost 2 guns
and several prisoners. Columns from Vryheid, where General Hildyard was in command, were sent down, and coming into contact with Grobelaar's commando drove it upon General Dartnell's column. An engagement resulted and some loss was inflicted on the enemy, who fled into the broken country eastward, being followed by light columns without wheeled transport. Parties of the enemy were caught up near the Zululand border, guns, waggons and stock being captured, and the enemy for the time being demoralised, 200 of them crossing into Zululand and surrendering to the local magistrates. By the end of March some of the troops were recalled, but the work of clearing the bush country around Vryheid was continued. On April 13 General French resumed his command at Johannesburg, and the columns
1901.] S. Africa.-Military Operations in South-west Transvaal. [381 were collected by General Smith-Dorrien for the return march to the Delagoa line, towards the end of the month entering Middelburg through the valley of the Klein Olifants River. The result of these operations since General French's movement from Piet Retief on February 16 was 51 Boer prisoners, 175 surrendered burghers, 4 guns, 496 rifles, 19,000 rounds of ammunition, 534 waggons and carts, 1,016 horses, 280 mules and many oxen taken. Killed and wounded Boers numbered 73.
In the south-west of the Transvaal Lord Methuen had been dealing with bands of the enemy in the triangle formed by Klerksdorp, Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp. The feature of these operations was the withdrawal of the endangered Hoopstadt garrison on April 3, and the concentration at Mafeking with a view to a movement against Delarey early in May. At Lichtenburg on
March 3 Lieutenant-Colonel Money had been heavily attacked by Delarey and 1,500 men, repulsing them and inflicting a loss of 60 killed and wounded and 7 prisoners, the garrison, however, losing 16 killed and 26 wounded. Bad weather prevented General Babington, who moved out from Mafeking, doing much more than keep the enemy on the move, but he took waggons and teams and 62 prisoners. On March 22, however, Delarey again attacked near Geldud, but was defeated, losing 11 killed and 13 wounded, Commandant Venter being found among the dead and Field-Cornet Wolmarans being captured. Babington drove Delarey north and the Boers broke up in confusion. His captures in this pursuit included 140 prisoners, 2 guns, 1 pom-pom, 6 Maxims, many rifles, waggons, carts and much ammunition ; 22 dead and 32 wounded Boers were found on the field. Our losses were 2 killed and 7 wounded. In the rush on the Boer convoy the New Zealanders and Bushmen did splendid service. Turning his attention to Smuts' commando, Babington was able, by a night march, to rush the laager on April 14, the enemy (500 or more) losing 6 killed, 10 wounded, 23 prisoners, 1 gun, 1 pom-pom and large quantities of ammunition and stock. Notwithstanding these losses, Delarey was able to concentrate 2,000 men in the hills about Hartebeestfontein, and with 700 personally directed an attack on a convoy near Klerksdorp. This, however, was repulsed. Lord Methuen had, towards the end of April, concentrated at Mafeking and in conjunction with Babington's troops was able to block any attempt by Delarey to break through to the north-east. The work of wearing Delarey down was then vigorously pursued, the enemy breaking up into small bodies.
Simultaneously Major-General Dixon was clearing the country south of the Magaliesberg, on the Krugersdorp-Potchefstroom line, and prisoners, arms, ammunition and supplies were captured. During April also Pietersburg was again occupied by General Plumer as part of the combined move in the north
east. During the advance he took 48 prisoners, and at Pietersburg, which the enemy evacuated on the 8th, secured 46 voluntary surrenders, 1 gun, 30 rifles, ammunition, etc.
On the night of the 24th Lieutenant Reid of the Bushmen Corps, who held a post at Commissu Drift, located, attacked and captured a Boer laager fifteen miles to the south-east, taking a Maxim and Commandant Shroeder and 41 Boer prisoners. Between April 14 and 28 General Plumer accounted for 91 prisoners, 20 voluntary surrenders, 1 Maxim and 20,360 rounds of ammunition.
We now come to the operation under General Sir Bindon Blood north of the eastern line-in the rough and difficult country of the Totesberg and Bothasberg, where the Boers had collected so as to be near their seat of Government at Roos Senekal. General Blood had six columns to work with, and moved from Pietersburg on April 14. We need not trace the combined movements of his force. The general result was that our troops swept through a portion of the Transvaal in which the enemy believed themselves to be secure from attack. Isolated parties of burghers escaped through the country east of the Steelpoort Valley, and thence across the railway to the south, but altogether the enemy lost 1,081 in prisoners or surrenders, 1 Krupp gun with 100 rounds of ammunition, 1 pom-pom, 540 rifles and 204,450 rounds, 247 horses and 611 waggons and carts, and to avoid capture they destroyed guns and Maxims to the number of 7. To the north and east of Pietersburg also Lieutenant-Colonel Grenfell, who had been left there when General Plumer moved out, fell upon a commando at Klipdam and again at Berg Plaats, among his captures being Commandant Marais. When he returned to Pietersburg on May 6 he had accounted for 7 Boers killed, 129 prisoners, 50 voluntary surrenders and 240,000 rounds of ammunition.
Reverting to the situation in Cape Colony since De Wet was ejected at the end of February, operations were continued in the Graaf Reinet, Cradock and Steynsburg districts; but the scattered bands under Kritzinger, Fouché, Scheepers and Malan clung to the mountainous country, and by persistently avoiding battle were able to keep the field. They undoubtedly received recruits from the Dutch population, who served them also with supplies and information of the movements of our pursuing columns-points which told heavily in their favour. In the midland districts the Boer raiders had been active, but bodies of them had recrossed the Orange River, and Lord Kitchener's view was that “the leaders were only able to retain in the field small bodies of desperate men who are prepared to adapt themselves to the vicissitudes of guerilla warfare and brigandage." Men of this stamp also gave some trouble to the posts in Namaqualand, without, however, being able to break towards the interior of the Colony,