On the morning of Tuesday, the 21st of November, at three o'clock, Lord Methuen's march to the relief of Kimberley definitely began. The force consisted of the Naval Brigade, the 9th Brigade under Colonel Featherstonhaugh, the Guards Brigade under General Sir H. Colvile, two batteries of Field Artillery, Rimington's Guides, and the 9th Lancers. The first halt was made at Fincham's Farm, some twelve miles oft; where the troops breakfasted, and whence the 9th Lancers and Rimington's Guides started on a reconnoitring expedition, which was not without its excitement. The Boers were reported to be somewhere in the vicinity, and soon they were espied, some three hundred of them, climbing a kopje with the evident intention of firing down on the party. This they did, and with such rapidity that only by sheer luck the men escaped. They went on to the farm of one Thomas, a supposed loyalist, for the purpose of watering their horses. This person had declared that there were no Boers in the neighbourhood; but no sooner had the tired beasts begun to dip their dusty noses in the cool and longed-
On the following day the division moved on to the said Thomas's Farm. The advance
party again came under fire-
On the night of the 22nd coffee was served out about twelve o'clock, and after this the whole force prepared to move.
The general orders were as follows: "At three A.M. Guards Brigade to advance from small white house near railway on Gun Kopje, supported by battery on right plus Naval Brigade ; 9th brigade on west side of Table Mountain; at same hour, bearing already taken, supported by battery on left, 9th Lancers, two squadrons, one company Mounted Infantry, marching north of Belmont Station, keeping one to two miles on left flank and advanced; Rimington's Guides, one squadron Lancers, one company Mounted Infantry from Witte Putt to east of Sugar Loaf; one company Mounted Infantry right of Naval Brigade, protecting right ; the force have got over open ground should arrive at daybreak on enemy; 9th Brigade having secured Table Mountain to swing round left and keep on high ground, and then advanced east to west on A (on plan not printed); Guards Brigade conform, being pivot; then Guards advance on east of Mount Blanc, guns cI mg entire advance with shrapnel; cavalry to get round rear of enemy, securing horses and laager."
The infantry tramped four miles in pitch darkness took up their position on a long
low hill facing the enemy. The Boers occupied a magnificent horseshoe shaped position
on a series of kopjes and ridges eastward of Belmont railway station. As usual,
they had utilised the boulders as screens, behind which they could safely blaze away
at the advancing ranks. Near daybreak, the hot summer morning dawned about four o'clock-
Now the Guards began to proceed. Steadily forward they went -
Scarcely had they reached the base of the hill than a fierce storm of lead poured
like a cascade from guns and rifles. It was useless now to attempt to return the
It was a sight to thrill the blood, to make the heart leap to the throat-
Their advance was grand-
Again the Boers made a hasty, a desperate retreat; again they sought a strongly-
A hurricane of bullets poured down. Death for the third time stared and gibbered; for the third time our gallant fellows, all in mass, again advanced to the attack. The Naval Brigade brought up four guns, and Captain Prothero got his cannon in position of 1800 yards and blazed out a chorus of distraction.
The enemy fled. The rout was now complete. Away went the 9th Lancers, away went the Mounted Infantry, both pursuing the fugitives for a good five miles. Thus the battle of Belmont was won. The whole of the camp waggons, filled with boxes of clothing, hundreds of horses and bullocks, were captured, and tons of ammunition were destroyed.
But this fight, that has taken so short a time to describe, and which was over in
less than four hours, was hardly won. Forms all bloodily dashed lay here and there
and everywhere, and the Scots Guards, who had stormed the kopje to inspiriting strains
of drums and pipes, were doomed later on to hear the wail of the pibroch for many
comrades mourned and buried. In all, our losses-
Three instances were reported of the despicable treachery of the Boers. Lieutenant
Willoughby was shot at from an ambush under cover of the white flag; a Boer holding
a white flag in his left hand murdered Lieutenant Brine with his right, and Lieutenant
The Boer losses were reported as very small, but no credence can be placed on their statements, for the very good reason that it has been President Kruger's policy to conceal from outsiders, and even from his own country, the extent of his losses. Whenever the Boer dies in battle, his body is weighted and cast into a river, or into a trench as quickly as possible. His family are left in ignorance as to his fate, and their only conclusion is to assume that he is dead. But Mr. Kruger's methods and his ruthless military oligarchy were disapproved even by his own countrymen, and more by his own countrywomen, who now began to mistrust especially the continual story of Boer victory, and asked pitifully for permission themselves to seek for fathers, sons, and brothers from whom they never heard. In some cases many of these were lying not an inch below their feet, for a British search party came upon a portion of the veldt that was literally mosaicked with dead Dutchmen whose bodies were scarcely more than peppered with earth!
Mr. Knight, the correspondent of the Morning Post who was a general favourite, was
wounded in a singularly treacherous manner. He was in the firing line of the Northamptons,
who were then attacking the Boers. Some of the enemy suddenly emerged from behind
rocks and displayed a handkerchief attached to a rifle. On this sign Mr. Knight with
two others rose, and all three were instantly shot with Dum-
During the heat of the fray Colonel Crabbe, commanding the Grenadier Guards, became detached from his regiment. He was instantly surrounded by Boers, and being wounded, might probably have been killed had not a private suddenly rushed to the rescue. The plucky fellow shot two of the enemy, silenced a third with his bayonet, and finally, amid a shower of bullets, carried off the Colonel to the shelter of an ambulance waggon. Colonel Crabbe sustained injuries to wrist and thigh, but was not dangerously wounded.
A curious experience befell the Hon. George Peel, who was trying to reach Kimberley, where his sister, the Hon. Mrs. Rochfort Maguire, was imprisoned. Roaming about after the battle of Belmont, he came by accident on a Boer camp. A Dutchman promptly emerged, and when he was preparing to meet a grim fate, deciding that all hope was lost, he found himself accosted and handed a Bible. He was in the very act of congratulating himself on his lucky escape when on the scene came two grenadiers, who seeing his battered condition and his Bible, mistook him for a Boer spy and carried him off as a prize. Fortunately he was recognised by a member of Lord Methuen's camp and liberated.
Very interesting are the following official particulars given by the General Officer
Comanding the 9th Brigade to the Chief Staff Officer of the 1st Division :-
"BELMONT, Nov. 23,1899.
Featherstonhaugh, EDWARD S. BULFIN,
Captain, Brigade Major, 9th Brgade."
The following is the list of officers killed and wounded at the battle of Belmont
3rd Grenadier Guards.-
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|Isandlwana, an hour by hour account|
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|The First Anglo Boer War|
|Between the Wars|
|The Fate of SGT Elliot|
|The Siege of Pretoria|
|The Reform Movement|
|The Critical Moment|
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