At six o'clock on the evening of the 28th of February all the suffering, suspense, and tension came to an end. The obstinate resistance, the heroic combats, the semi -
In the late afternoon those viewing the departure of the Boers from a vantage-
Grand gallant fellows of the Light Horse, Natal Carabineers, and Border Mounted Police, some three hundred of them, pounding across the open country as fast as horses would carry them.
In the twilight the troops sped along over boulder and rock, down donga and ravine,
reckless of every obstacle, and at last the melancholy perimeter was reached. Then
from out the gloom came a challenge. A British voice called "Halt! Who goes there?"
A British voice gave answer-
At the English church they were met by General White, the defender of Ladysmith,
fevered and thin and grey-
Yet the effect or them remained. As a consequence of the close confinement of some
20,000 persons, disease was stalking abroad, even attacking those who but an hour
ago had neared the place. Away at Intombi camp, too, where drugs were scarce, many
of the patients-
Outside the town, in a sheltered hollow below Waggon Hill, was a pathetic garden
of sleep. Here, under the shadow of cypress trees, lay the honoured remains of brave
fellows who had given themselves to save the town, and with the town the prestige
of their motherland. The earth barely covered them, but for all that their peace
was perfect. They had struggled to save Natal, and Natal through them and the survivors
was saved. If there is a loophole whence those who have passed on to the Invisible
can peer down and observe the issues of mortal deeds, surely in that great hour,
those splendid, those self-
The effect in England of the news of the relief was truly surprising. The spectacle
was unique in the annals of Victoria's reign. On Thursday the 1st of March the whole
City of London by one consent burst into jubilation. Every human being, however hard-
From north, south, east, and west the people flocked, springing as it were from
the very earth. The news came in at Jo A.M. By eleven the City was alive with drama.
Hats were being waved or flung into the air, regardless of the effect upon the nap;
flags from here, there. and everywhere fluttered-
Upon that the crowd roared itself hoarse, sung "For he's a jolly good fellow," and
never with better cause, for Sir A. 5. Newton had put the best of himself into the
launching of the glorious C.I.v.'5 By-
THE FORMAL ENTRY
It seemed but artistic that Lord Dundonald and his brave irregulars should have met the keen edge of joyous welcome, that the burst of enthusiasm which greeted them should have been the heartiest of which Ladysmith, after a siege of 118 days, was capable. it was right, almost beautiful, that the staunch Colonials, who so well had fought for the Empire, should be the ones to throw open the doors of the dolorous prison, and deliver those who had been not only victims to the devilish machinations of the Boer, but had suffered from the active ache of suspense and the passive one of starvation, from their hellish bondage. Their informal coming was part and parcel of the unrehearsed and the splendid that appeared at every corner in this absolutely incomprehensible war.
The next day things were more decorously done-
"A march of lions," said Mr. Churchill, who had played his part with Lord Dundonald's
force, and was now looked on as a critic. "A procession of giants," said some one
else, who watched the lines and lines of heroes greeting each other with wild huzzas!
Friends, kindred, comrades-
While all this was going forward, from the balcony of the gad a wondering crowd
of Doer prisoners looked on agape. They could barely believe the evidence of their
eyes: the town was free. Had their compatriots at last turned tail and bolted? They
stared down on the vast interminable avenue of men and guns winding through what
only the day before yesterday was a fiery concave-
"We, the Mayor and member's of the Town Council of the borough of Ladysmith, Natal,
and as such representing the inhabitants of the said borough, beg most respectfully
to welcome with great joy the arrival of yourself and your gallant soldiers at our
township, and to express to you our most sincere and heartfelt appreciation of your
noble and courageous efforts in the relief of this long-
The following telegrams were sent to Sir Redvers Buller and Sir George White by the Queen.
To Sir Redvers Buller
"Thank God for news you have telegraphed to me.
"Congratulate you and all under you with all my heart.
To Sir George White
"Thank God that you and all those with you are safe after your long and trying siege, borne with such heroism.
"I congratulate you and all under you from the bottom of my heart.
"Trust you are all not very much exhausted.
Reply from Sir George White to the Queen
"Your Majesty's most gracious message has been received by me with deepest gratitude and with enthusiasm by the troops.
"Any hardships and privations are a hundred times compensated for by the sympathy and appreciation of our Queen, and your Majesty's message will do more to restore both officers and men than anything else.
'GENERAL SIR GEORGE WHITE, Ladysmith."
The following telegram was received by the Queen from Sir Redvers Buller
"Troops much appreciate your Majesty's kind telegram.
"Your Majesty cannot know how much your sympathy has helped to inspire them.
An additional telegram was sent by the Queen to Sir Redvers Buller on the 2nd inst.:-
Later on a special Army Order was issued as follows
GALLANTRY OF IRISH REGIMENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA-
TO BE WORN ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY.
Her Majesty the Queen is pleased Co order that in future, upon St. Patrick's Day, all ranks in her Majesty's Irish regiments shall wear, as a distinction, a sprig of shamrock in their headdress, to commemorate the gallantry of her Irish soldiers during the recent battles in South Africa.
Soon after this came the transformation scene. Seventy-
Ladysmith at the commencement of the siege held some 13,496 fighting men and over
2000 civilians. Owing to sickness and hard fighting, the number had diminished to
10,164 men. There were about 2000 in hospital, but the death-
The following special Army Order was issued
"The relief of Ladysmith unites two forces which have striven with conspicuous gallantry
and splendid determination to maintain the honour of their Queen and country. The
garrison of Ladysmith for four months held the position against every attack with
complete success, and endured its privations with admirable fortitude. The relieving
force had to make its way through unknown country, across unfordable rivers, and
over almost inaccessible heights, in the face of a fully-
"The General Commanding congratulates both forces on their martial qualities, and thanks them for their determined efforts. He desires to offer his sincere sympathy to the relatives and friends of the good soldiers and gallant comrades who have fallen in the fight. BULLER."
Less formally and with more warmth the Chief addressed himself to his friends in England. He said
"We began fighting on the 14th February, and literally fought every day and nearly every night till the 27th. 1 am filled with admiration for the British soldiers; really, the manner in which they have worked, fought, and endured during the last fortnight has been something more than human. Broiled in a burning sun by day, drenched in rain by night, lying but 300 yards off an enemy who shoots you if you show as much as a finger; they could hardly eat or drink by day, and as they were usually attacked at night they got but little sleep; and through it a]l they were as cheery and Willing as could be."
Telegraphic wires and cables wore themselves out in repeating congratulation on the relief of Ladysmith. Veritably all the winds of heaven seemed to repeat them. From north, south, east, and west came the chorus of acclamation, a chorus most reviving to the magnificent multitude both inside and outside the place, who had been ready to offer up their heart's blood on the altar of patriotism. Though the haunted and worn look could not die out of the faces of the sufferers in a moment, they had already begun to mend; though the shrunken and emaciated forms could not at once be relieved from the starvation and disease which had wasted them, there was over all a soothing glow of hope that acted magically, beatifically, as the mists of sunrise over a squalid landscape.
On the 9th of March Sir George White, looking much worn, he having suffered from Indian lever brought on by the malarious surroundings, left with his staff. The General addressed the Gordon Highlanders who formed the guard of honour, and in few and affecting words bade them farewell.
|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|