On leaving Poplar Grove, Lord Roberts' force, rearranged and divided into three, advanced on Bloemfontein via Driefontein, a place about six miles south-
On the right colonm Porter had now come in contact with the foe. General French's orders were to avoid imbroglio with the enemy and to keep in touch with the centre. On a message being sent by Colonel Porter to inform General French of the presence of the Dutchmen, the infantry division changed its course. They now marched twenty miles to the south, reaching the Position about one o'clock. The march was an achievement. Twenty miles across the blistering, blinding veldt, as a commencement to a fighting day six hours in length, was a feat of endurance of which the infantry division might well have been proud. The change of course had the effect of avoiding the necessity to attack Abraham's Kraal, though at the same time it unfortunately left open the enemy's line of retreat to the north, which, later on, he was not slow to make use of.
With the arrival of General French's force, Colonel Broadwood was free to continue
his movement to the left of the enemy's position, and working round it, found himself
assailed by the 9-
Meanwhile in the centre of the plateau hot fighting was taking place, General Kelly-
From the south now came the artillery, T Battery R.H.A. sweeping the way for the
infantry advance. But they had no easy task. Before they could get into action the
Now they crawled and now they wormed themselves along through the grass, dripping
with gore and covered with sweat, many of their officers gone, comrades dropping
to right and to left of them, while the fire of the enemy continued to rattle down
in their midst. Then, as the fusillade slackened, they leapt up and made for the
ridge, taking it, going over the crest with glittering steel and ringing cheer,
and finding not one single Boer had awaited their coming. The Dutchmen had vanished
into thin air! It was a magnificent deed-
At dusk a splendid sight was visible. In the last glimmer of day Lord Roberts and
his staff entered the central plateau, followed by degrees by all the troops-
Captain Eustace, the Buffs; Lieutenant Parsons and Second Lieutenant Coddingt9n,
Essex Regiment; Captain Lomax, Welsh RegiI Lieutenant-
The Australians came in for a heavy share of the fighting. The 1st Australian Horse, brigaded with the Scots Greys, were fiercely fired on by the enemy as they advanced to within 8oo yards of the wide bend of kopjes. The New South Wales Mounted Infantry, under Colonel Knight, and the Mounted Rifles, under Captain Antill, engaged in animated pursuit of the enemy as they fled towards the north, their fleet horses showing a marked contrast in condition to the jaded steeds of the English cavalry.
Lord Roberts expressed his satisfaction at the brilliant work performed by the Welsh
Regiment in the storming of Alexander Kopje, a feat in which they displayed consummate
skill as well as amazing pluck. Some heroic actions took place during the day, particularly
in connection with the supply of ammunition, which ran short owing to the necessity
of relieving the infantry for their heavy march, of fifty rounds apiece. Some dastardly
ones were also practised by the Boers, who, finding themselves in a perilous situation,
the artillery in front and a squadron of mounted infantry hovering on their flank,
hoisted a white flag and threw up their hands in token of surrender. Naturally the
British accepted the sign, and, while they were approaching the Dutchmen, some others
of their number hastened to pour a volley into the British ranks. Lord Roberts himself
having been a witness of this treacherous act, remonstrated with the Boer leaders,
and ordered that in future if such action were repeated the white flag should be
utterly disregarded. The following protest was made by the Commander-
"To their Honours the State Presidents of the Orange Free State and South African Republic.
"Another instance having occurred of a gross abuse of the white flag, and of the signal of holding up the hands in token of surrender, it is my duty to inform your Honours that if such abuse occurs again, I shall most reluctantly be comp~led to order my troops to disregard the white flag entirely.
"The instance occurred on the kopje east of Driefontein Farm yesterday evening, and
was witnessed by several of my own staff-
"A large quantity of explosive bullets of three different kinds was found in Cronje's laager, and after every engagement with your Honours' troops.
"Such breaches of the recognised usages of war and of the Geneva Convention are a disgrace to any civilised Power.
"A copy of this telegram has been sent to my Government, with a request that it may be communicated to all neutral Powers."
The Boers had now entirely disappeared. It was nevertheless hinted that they might be collecting in some new and unexpected region. The column, however, resumed its victorious march, proceeding twelve miles without coming upon the enemy. The beating of yesterday had produced a good effect, for the Dutchmen kept their distance, though in the kopjes all along the direct road to Bloemfontein, which lay due east, they were said to be swarming. It was also reported that Transvaalers and Free Staters had fallen out, and that the former, under Joubert, were determined to make a stand behind a magnificent entrenchment that they had built. The advance was supposed to come from the west, and consequently the Boer line of entrenchments extended some six or eight miles from the town facing towards Bam's Vlei; There were shelter trenches, made not on the kopjes, but about a hundred yards out on the plain beneath. They used sandbags, and had gun epaulements besides. In addition to all this, they had made sangars and piles of stones on the kopjes. Unfortunately for them, our troops made a cunning detour, which again dislocated the Dutchmen's programme, and forced them in their mountain fastnesses to sit inactive, while the cavalry was wheeling south to the outskirts of Bloemfontein! Here there were no fortifications and very few Boers.
Mr. Steyn now secretly left Bloemfontein for Kroonstad, as, in spite of Mr. Kruger's
representations, it had been decided to surrender the capital of the Free State.
Lord Roberts, who had sent in a formal demand for surrender, received no reply. General
Joubert made preparations, with some 3000 men, to avert the surrender, but his approach,
veritably at the eleventh hour, was barred by the clever manoeuvres of the British.
This splendid piece of work was executed by Major Hunter-
General French had also seized and destroyed some portions of the railway south
of Bloemfontein. His headquarters were made at the house of Mr. Steyn's brother-
Early on the 13th the 1st Cavalry Brigade moved slowly towards some kopjes to the
east of Bloemfontein and occupied them. All knew the great day was come when Lord
Roberts with Kelly-
|The Growth of the Transvaal|
|The Web Thickens|
|The Zulu War|
|Isandlwana, an hour by hour account|
|Affairs at Home|
|The First Anglo Boer War|
|Between the Wars|
|The Fate of SGT Elliot|
|The Siege of Pretoria|
|The Reform Movement|
|The Critical Moment|
|The Fate of the Raiders|