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THE BATTLE OF PIETERS


On Wednesday  the 21st, as we know, our troops were back at. Colenso. The day was mainly devoted to "sniping," to bringing up heavy guns, and to getting the troops across the Tugela. But the 12-pounder Naval guns on Hlangwane, and the  61st Howitzer Battery in the open, indulged in a stupendous concert addressed to the enemy's position, in which they were assisted from below Monte Cristo on the right by more Naval guns. The enemy was not inactive. No sooner had a  pontoon been thrown across the river below Hlangwane than they began to drop shells in the neighbourhood of the troops who were attempting to cross. These, however, accomplished their intention without sustaining much loss.  Meanwhile, Corporal Adams, of the Telegraph. Brigade, distinguished himself by swimming across the Tugela, wire in mouth. The troops now advanced-General Coke's Brigade, followed by two battalions of General Wynne's and a  field-battery. The Somersets, Dorsets, Middlesex, cover by shell-fire from two field-batteries and the heavy gulls, moved across the plain to the foot of the hill, with the object of reconnoitring Grobler's Kloof. At first no signs  of the enemy were visible. the Dutchmen, though not entrencbed, being cunningly hidden in the dongas and thorn-bushes, which crowded the vicinity. But no sooner had the Sornersets, who had been the first across the pontoon,  approached the base of the hill, than a cataract from the rifles of the enemy suddenly burst over them. The Boers had withheld their fire till the troops were within point-blank range, and then rent the weird mystery of the dusk  with jets of flame. Nearly a hundred of the gallant fellows dropped and three officers were killed. Some said that they were fighting the enemy's rear-guard, but in reality a large portion of the whole Boer army was engaged. Though  it was the first time the regiment had been under fire, the admirable behaviour of the men in the face of overwhelming hostile numbers was remarkable. Nevertheless, the unpleasant discovery of the enemy's strength at last involved  the retreat of the troops, and decided the General that an advance in force must be made on the following day.

The following officers were killed and wounded in the operations of 20th and 21st February:-

1st Rifle  Brigade-Wounded, Lieutenant W. R. Wingfleld-Digby. 2nd Somersetshire Light Infantry-Killed, Captain S. L. V. Crealock, Lieutenant V.F. A. Keith-Falconer, Second Lieutenant J. C. Parr; wounded, Captain E.G. Elger. 2nd Dorsetshire  Regiment-Wounded, Second Lieutenant F.Middleton. 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers-Wounded, Colonel J. Reeves. Staff-Wounded, Captain H. G. C. Phillips. Royal Army Medical Corps-Died of wounds, Captain R. E. Holt.

On Thursday the 22nd,  part of General Wynne's Brigade began to advance. They were supported by Hildyard's Brigade from the region of Fort Wylie. (General Barton's Brigade and part of General Hart's were left on the south side of the river.) Progress was  slow and painful. The country-a strip some two miles broad and stretching out between high hills and the river-was richly veined with irritating dongas and covered with bushes and scrub. The position was commanded by the wooded  slopes of Grobler's Kloof, and enabled the Boers to worry the men in their advance with an enfilading fire. All around were steep kopjes such as the Boer soul delights in, and thorny tangles which afforded comfortable shelter for  the enemy's guns. The movement, therefore, was costly, as it was difficult to locate the guns, and the sharpshooters of the enemy, well hidden in their rocky fastnesses, maintamed a continuous fire on front and flanks of the  advancing force. With their usual wiliness, the Dutchmen had evidently suspended their contemplated retreat, and had gathered together, crept up, and taken up a strong position on the left flank, whence they were enabled to hamper  the troops considerably. Nevertheless the Royal Lancasters leading, the South Lancashire following, valiantly advanced towards their objective so resolutely that the Boers, who almost to the last stood their ground, pelted off to  the sheltering nooks and dongas in the shadow of Grobler's Kloof. Only one remained to face the bayonet. But the losses consequent on this smart day's work were many. Brigadier-General Wynne while conducting operations was slightly  wounded, and about a hundred and fifty more were put out of action.

The troops were now moving on a route along the line of river and rail to Ladysmith, half-way between Colensp and Pieters Hill, and with kopjes to be stormed at  intervals during the onward course. They had performed a species of zigzag movement, pointing from Chieveley north-east to Cingolo and Monte Cristo, and coming back in an acute line north-west to the river. Now the forward march  involved the capture of all the strong positions, beginning with the twin kopjes, Terrace and Railway Hill, and ending with the whole Pieters position, and possibly Bulwana.

On the three hills-Terrace Hill, Railway Hill, and  Pieters Hill-rested the Boers' second lin~of defence. The first hill, called Terrace Hill lay about a mile and a half to north-ea~t of the right flank. Farther east, divided by a valley, was Railway Hill, so called because on its  east came the railway line, on the other side of which was Pieters Hill. Sir Redvers Buller's plan was to advance the infantry beyond the angle of the river, and then stretch round the enemy's left from Railway Hill, and so go  straight to Ladysmith. The idea seemed a good one, as the Dutchmen were believed to be moving off; but it was afterwards discovered that they, seeing the assault was not to be made at once upon the weak, the left edge of their  position, had gathered courage and returned, reinforced by commandos from Ladysmith, to their well-known hunting-ground on Grobler's Kloof and elsewhere, preparing to give battle so long as there was safety for their extreme left.  Most of the night of the 22nd was spent in fighting of desperate character, the Howitzer Battery keeping up an incessant roar, explosion following explosion in the sombre blackness of midnight. The Boers, meanwhile, were attacking  with rifle fire all along the line, and so persistent were the Dutchmen in their effort to get rid of the troops, that some even were only repulsed by the bayonet.

Details of that dreadful night's work are scarce, but a faint,  yet tragic, outline was given by an officer of the 6oth Rifles, who was one of the survivors of the fatal fray. This regiment had moved on the left of Hildyard's Brigade, and were swinging along a boulder-strewn hillside, which,  surmounted by a series of uneven and indefinite crestlines, gave on to a plateau where they intended to take up a line of outposts for the night. It so happened that the Boers had ensconced themselves at the rear edge of the  position which the troops, in the belief that it was evacuated, were so incautiously approaching. Accordingly, in the gathering gloom a collision of amazing violence occurred - amazing to both Britons and Burghers, for the former  surprisedly plumped upon the Dutchmen, who as surprisedly gave way before them. In an instant the gallant 6oth were after the fugitives, charging and cheering, but assailed now by fierce volleys from undreamed-of trenches. This  sudden and furious attack forced them, unsupported as they were, to seek cover till reinforcements could arrive. But no help appeared. The plight of the unforttinate band, whose peril had been hidden in the grim density of the  night, was entirely unsuspected by the companion forces that fringed the crests in the vicinity, and there-fore the unhappy fellows lay all night clinging to the cover of the boulders, and rained on by showers of bullets that  traced a tale of agony along the ground. At dawn on the 23rd, no supports having arrived, and under the same fervid fusillade, they began to retire. In twos and threes they commenced to go back, finally covered in their retreat by  the East Surreys, who had grandly gone forward to the rescue. But the cost of splendid succour was dearly and almost instantaneously paid. Men fell thick and fast over the hilltop-the Colonel, second in command, and four oBicers of  the East Surrey Regiment dropping one after another, some wounded in many places. Captain the Hon. R. Cathcart, "the rearmost of his command, as he had been foremost of the night before," dropped dead, and round him  within a few moments fifty other noble fellows had passed to the unknown!

General Buller's orders on the 23rd were brief. Push for Ladysmith to-day, horse, foot, and artillery; both cavalry brigades to cross the river at once.  The advance, which had hitherto been slow, was now hurried on. At midday it was in full swing, the cavalry having crossed the Tugela and massed at Fort Wylie. Meanwhile the Boers had taken up a formidable position on the right-on  the well-entrenched height called by the gunners Three Knoll Hill, to describe the three hills, Terrace, Railway, and Pieters, that formed the entire position-while on the left they plied their activities from Grobler's Kloof. The  artillery in front of Railway Hill concentrated a brisk fire upon the Boers therein entrenched, who returned some animated replies, assisted by other Dutchmen from a hidden vantage point on the north-east of that eminence. General  Hart's Brigade, to whose valiant Irishmen the difficult task of capturing the position was entrusted, was ordered to advance. This advance from Onderbrook Spruit to the base of Terrace Hill, the companion of Railway Hill, was a  feat of cool courage that has seldom been equalled. The hill, triangular and standing some three hundred feet above the Tugela, was approached by a wide open space, which was commanded by the Boers, whose complicated position on  Railway Hill and its component ridges gave them every advantage. The correspondent of the Standard furnished a description of these precipitous steeps. "Railway Hill rises from the Tugela a mile from Platelayers' House. It is,  perhaps, best described as triangular in shape, with one angle pointing towards the river. It rises from the latter in a series of jagged, boulder-strewn kopjes, until three hundred feet or so above the Tugela. A kloof, through  which the railway passes upwards on its way to Pieters Station, separates the last jagged ledge from the hill proper. From the last kopje or ledge, and immediately on the other side of the line, the main part of the hill rises  abruptly, almost precipitdusly, with a sharp edge running back in a north-westerly direction for several hundred yards. The base of this north-westerly line of hill makes up a kloof thick with thorn trees, and this kloof recedes  round the left end of the hill to the rear, where the enemy's force, under Commandant Dupreez, had its quarters, while a little farther to the rear is still another kloof, in which the enemy's Creusots were mounted. Along the  beginning of the sharp edge referred to a long trench was cut out, and right ahead, as the hill ran still upwards on an incline for three hundred yardsor so, were other trenches, until the hill terminated in a crest crowded with  commanding fortifications." To assail this formidable stronghold the troops moved off in the following order~the Inniskilling Fusiliers leading, followed by the Connaught Rangers, the Dublin Fusiliers, and the Imperial Light  Infantry. Steadily marched the kharki-clad throng, advancing along the railroad in single file with rifles at the slope. At that time there was comparative silence save for the muffled drumming of artillery in the surrounding  kopjes. These apparently frowned free of human influence, the dark, dull frown that portends many evil things to the eye of the advancing soldier. But nevertheless the troops moved nearer and nearer to the hill over the open ground  by the railway bridge with a steady step and that air of consolidated distinction that marks acutely the difference between Briton and Boer armies. They had no sooner showed themselves in the open than the air grew alive, the  trenches on the frowning hill vomited furiously. A casual obseryer remarked that it reminded him of the pantomimes of his youth, of Ah Baba's cave, when, at a given signal, its jars opened and the forty thieves  suddenly-simultaneously~popped up their heads. Only now there were not forty but thousands of brigandish forms-forms that hastened to deal death from their Mausers on the advancing men. These were now coming on at a rush, a rush  through the hailstorm whose every shower meant disaster. But Hart the valiant had said, "That hill must be taken at all costs "-and that was enough! The hill was about to be seized and the payments had already begun.

One, two, three, four, six-more and yet more down, one after another. So the men began to fall. The ironwork of the bridge had now its fringe of fainting forms. Still the splendid fellows pushed on. Still the air reverberated with  the puissant pornpoming of the Boers' automatic gun. This they had turned on to the position they knew must be passed by the advancing warriors. Meanwhile the British artiJiery was saluting the hill,. throwing up to heaven dust and  splinter spouts that filled the whole atmosphere with blinding, choking debris, and causing the purple boulders far and wide to give forth rumbling echoes of the infernal rampage.

Gradually, in face of the deluge of shot and  shell, the Inniskillings, Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers, and one company each of the Dublin Fusiliers, had wound their way towards the eastern spurs of Railway Hill, and in the late afternoon were ready for the attack. General  Hart gave the word. Then, up the rugged stone-strewn heights the troops laboriously began to climb. Soon they reached a point, some hundred yards above, whence the Boers could pepper them with ease. At the same time from the  adjacent hill more bullets whizzed upon them. Yet, with this horrible fire on their flanks and the deadly fusillade from the front, they persevered, dropping one after another like ripe fruit in a gust of wind. Volley after volley  poured down on them, but up they went, cutting through wire, leaping boulders, and hurling themselves forward, and in such grand style, that the Boers, seeing the determined glitter of the bayonet, thought it wiser to retreat. They  receded some two hundred yards up the hill, while the troops occupied the first position. Then, in the growing dusk, the Dutchmen were seen taking a commanding place on a somewhat higher or parent peak of the hill. From this point  the Inniskillings, flushed with their first triumph, deemed it necessary to rout them. Fire streamed and spouted, the dim gloom of twilight came on ; still the Irishmen, through the mist of evening and flashings furious from every  side, advanced along the hill - a glorious, a tragic advance. One after another bit the dust. Men in mute or groaning agony lay prone in the gathering dusk. First went a major, afterwards another, and then two captains of this  gallant band. The Boers had known their business. Some of their kopjes are of the nature of spider-webs; the outer fringe involves entanglement; and this especial eminence was of that particular nature that the second Boer position  commanded the first. The' Dutchmen, even as they receded, were able to mow down the men as they advanced, by a converging fire, against which it was impossible to stand. It was now an almost hand-to-hand struggle between doughty  Dutchman and dashing Briton. The Inniskillings were close, but every inch was gained with appalling loss to their numbers-indeed, the charging companies might almost have been described as individual men!

Finally, some one gave  the order to retire. But how . Most of the valorous band were stricken down, or had perished. The wounded could not be removed. Yet those that remained were too few to hold the ground in the darkness. All that could be done was to  retire below the crest and wait till morning. A retirement was attempted, under the personal direction of the Colonel (Colonel Sitwell), but in the course of the movement he was hit, never to rise again. The troops at last got to  the cover of the hill, where they built schanzes and bivouaced. But from this point throughout the night firing continued, while the Boers above, between the intervals of dozing, peppered the bivouacs with bullets.

At 7 A.M.,  while cannonading had elsewhere assumed dangerous proportions, the Irish regiments were again assailed in their schanzes by the persistent Dutchmen. These had crept round the base of the hill and attacked the trenches from the  western side. Volleys poured from all directions on a scene that was already deplorable. Only four officers of the Inniskillings remained. Of the Connaught Rangers five officers were wounded. The Dublin Fusiliers had lost their  gallant Colonel (Colonel Sitwell), and also Captain Maitland of the Gordon Highlanders (attached). The picture at dawn and on throughout the day was truly appalling. The trenches of the Boers and those of the attacking force were  now only some three or four hundred yards apart, and between them was spread an arena of carnage heart-breaking as irremediable. It was impossible for any one to show a nose and live. Wounded lay here, there, and every-where,  heaped as they had fallen, drenched in their own gore and helpless, yet struggling pathetically to edge themselves with hands or Knees or heels nearer some place of safety. Dead, too, were entangled with the sinking, huddled  together in grievous ghastly comradeship.

For thirty-six hours some of these heroes lay in wretchedness, hanging between life and death. Mercifully the Boers brought the water, but all their acts were not equally generous.  Unfortunately, some misinterpretation regarding the Red Cross flag accentuated the misfortunes of the day.

The Boers, it appeared, had begun by producing one. This signal should have been responded to by our troops, who,  how-ever, were not prepared to show another Red Cross flag, which display would have been the signal for truce. This being' the case, the Boers, after carrying off their wounded and giving certain of the British wounded some water,  removed their rifles. Further, they rifled their pockets and despoiled dead and wounded of boots and other property. Naturally, those who saw them were so infuriated at this wanton behaviour that they began to fire. From this time  hostilities recommenced, and the innate cruelty of the Boers was evidenced in several cases. It was stated on the authority of an officer that many of the wounded in act of crawling away were deliberately shot. Let us hope that the  aggravation at the non-appearance of the British Red Cross flag was the cause of the ugly display of character on the part of the enemy.

During the late afternoon the worn-out troops in their trenches at the base of the hill were  fiercely attacked by the enemy's guns froni all quarters. No such effective shell fire had been experienced since Spion Kop. Indeed, with the assistance of Krupps, and Creusots, and Maxims, and other diabolical instruments, the  Boers managed to make a fitting concert for Beelzebub. Many of our positions on the ]ower slopes of the kopjes were enfiladed, and thus many gallant fellows in Hildyard's and Kitchener's brigades were killed. Several officers among  those who were fighting on the left also fell, among them Colonel Thorold, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

At this juncture, finding that the original passage of the river was commanded by entrenchments on every side, and that further  advance would be costly in the extreme, the General decided that he must reconnoitre for another passage across the Tugela. This was forthwith discovered. Meanwhile, the day being Sunday, there was an armistice for the interment of  the dead on both sides. Grievous were the sensations of those whose duty brought them to the awesome scene of. death, who spent the long hours surrounded by sights hideous and forms uncouth, the remains of heroes, discoloured from  days of exposure to the sun's scorching rays, to the damps and dews of night-lying limply rigid and rigidly limp in the unmistakable and undescribable abandonment of untenanted clay; or succouring still more pitiable wrecks, wrecks  joined perhaps by an invisible handclasp with comrades in the other world, but still here, making a last struggle for the dignity of manhood, or fainting slowly, peaceably, beyond all knowledge of pain as of the splendid heroism  that had placed them where they were!

One who was present contributed to Blackwood's Magazine a curious account of that armistice-that was not entirely an armistice-of Colonel Hamilton's approach with the flag of fraternity (so  often misused and abused by the Dutchmen), and of the strange apparitions that came forth suspiciously one by one from the depths of the hostile trenches. He said: "Seldom have I set eyes on a more magnificent specimen of male  humanity than the Commandant of the trenchful of Boers, Pristorius by name, a son of Anak by descent, and a gallant, golden-bearded fighting-man by present occupation; for in far-away Middleburg those mighty limbs-he told it  us~without any Qf that stupid deprecation which would probabry have charactensed a similar confession on the part of an Englishman-were wont to stretch themselves beneath a lawyer's desk. Close on his heels came what a perso~ who  had never seen Boers before would have thought the str~ngest band of warriors in the world-old men with flowing, tobacco-stained, white beards; middle-aged men with beards burnt black with the sun and sweat of their forty years;  young men, mostly clean shaven, exhibiting strongly the heavy Dutch moulding of the broad nose and cliin~; big boys in small suits, su~ts of all kinds and col6urs, tweed, velveteen, homespun, and 'shoddy,' all untidy in the  extreme, but mostly as serviceable as their wearers." These strange beings formed a strong contrast to the men who joined them, particularly in their attitude when (5on-fronted with the ghastly foreground of death which made  the prominent feature of the amicable picture. The eye-witness before quoted declared that "it was much more difficult f6r them to conceal the natural discomposure which all men feel in the presence of the silent dead than for  their more artificial opponents. From the airy and easy demeanour of the uniformed British officers, that dreadful plateau might have been the lobby of a London club. A Briton is at all times prone to conceal his emotions, and  certainly in this instance the idiosyncrasy gave him a great social advantage over the supe~titious Burghers, with their sidelong glances and uneasy shiftings." By-and-by, however, both parties grew even friendly, and the  writer went on to describe an animated dialogue between himself and " a deep-chested old oak-tree of a man, whose swarthy countenance was rendered more gipsy-like by the addition of ear-rings. The opening of the conversation  had its humours. 'Good-morning!' quoth I. 'Gumorghen, ' rumbled the oak-tree sourly. 'Surely we can be friends for five minutes,' I ventured, after a pause. The rugged countenance was suddenly, not to say startlingly, illumined  with a beaming smile. ' Why not, indeed! why not, officer! Have you any tobacco?' Out came my pouch, luckily filled to bursting that very morning, and the oak-tree proceeded to stuff a huge pipe to the very brim, gloating over the  fragrarice of the 'best gold flake, as he did so. The rumour of tobacco had the effect of dispelling the chill that still lingered on the outskirts of that little crowd, and many a grimy set df fingers claimed their share as the  price of the friendship of the owners, the Commandant himself not disdaining to accept a fill with a graceful word of thanks. They were out of tobacco in that trench, it appeared, and suffering acutely from the deprivation of What  to a Boer is more necessary than food."

Near to the place where they were stricken the Irish heroes were buried. Their last bed was made in a picturesque spot within the whisper of the spray of the river, and sheltered by  the low-spreading thorn-bushes. The rest of the day was unusually peaceful, but in the evening the crackle of musketry from left to right of the position taken up by the Durhams again showed that the enemy was on the alert, and it  was believed he was preparing for offensive operations during the night. It was discovered, however, that a gallant deed had put any effort to rush the British lines out of his power. Captain Phillips with eight Bluejackets had  effectually rendered their searchlight useless, and had, moreover, got safely away after the venturesome act had been perpetrated and discovered.

The new passage was found by Colonel Sandbach (Royal Engineers) at a point below  the waterfall on the east, and again guns, baggage, &c., were ordered to be removed to the south side of the Tugela. It may be advisable to note that the armistice mentidned was an informal one, which did not interfere with  military movements. Owing to the desperate straits of the wounded on Inniskilling Hill was the position, baptized in the blood of our heroes, had now been christened), the General had sent in a flag asking for an armistice. The  Boers had refused. On condition that we should not fire on their positions during the day, they only consented to allow the bearer companies to remove the wounded and bury the dead. The Boers meanwhile improved their entrenchments,  and the British troops, as stated, prepared for the operation of removal across the river. This they at first did with some misgivings, for they had tacked about so many times, but, on the whole, they bore the strain admirably.  What with the hammering of Maxims, Nordenfeldts, and the fluting of Mausers, the men had for twelve days past nin through the gamut of discomfort. They had been fed up with war. They were in the daytime fried, grilled, and toasted.  At night the cold with its contrast had bitten and numbed them. They had bivouacked now in keen chilly blasts, now in intermittent downpours of rain, which had drenched them and made existence a prolonged wretchedness. And nothing  had been achieved Lives only had been lost. But they still munched their bully beef and biscuit with an heroic cheerfulness and resignation that served to astonish and inspirit all who beheld it. There was no doubt about it that  the pluck and perseverance of the British Tommy had become subjects for wonder and veneration!

During the night the pontoon bridge was removed from its original position and relaid at the point indicated by Colonel Sandbach. The  Boers, watching the commencement of the move, were under the impression that a repetition of the retirements from Spion Kop and Vaal Krantz was to be enacted. They therefore deemed that the movement might be carried out with more  expedition did they start a magazine fire at long range at such troops as happened to be between Colenso and the.angle of the river. When they discovered, however, that only a portion of the troops had departed, they subsided and  reserved their ammunition till morning, when a brisk artillery duel commenced operations-a duel in which the. Briti~h in quantity and the Dutch in quality of practice distinguished them-selves.

General Buller's revised plan was  now to avoid the enemy's front, and work back again to the Hlangwane plateau, whence he would start again, having, as it were, made a redistribution of his troops, so that Hart's brigade in its expensively acquired position would  now, instead of being his extreme right; become his extreme left. To this end guns and cavalry were removed, Naval batteries being post&i on the Hlangwane and Monte Cristo positions, while H~rt's brigade was left holding to the  skirts, so to speak, of the enemy at I nniskilling Hill, and preventing him from congratulating himself on freedom.

The anniversary of Majuba began in clouds. Guns very early broke into an aubade, but awakened few. For there had  been. little. sleep that night. All had dozed in their boots, ready for the worst. The cavalry proceeded to range itself at the northern -point of~the Hlangwane position, in order that by their guns and long-range rifle fire they  might assist the advance of Barton's Brigade. This brigade was the first to start in the attack on the three hills on which the Boer left still rested. The disposition of the forces was as follows -General Barton's Fusilier Brigade  on the extreme right, with Colonel Kitchener's Lancashire Brigade--Colonel Kitchener ha~~ing taken over General Wynne's Brigade while that officer was wounded-on his left, this latter being on the right of Colonel Northcott's  Brigade. Colonel. Stuart, working with a composite regiment on the south bank of the Tugela, protected the crossing.

General Barton, with two battalions of the 6th Brigade and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, crept one and a half  miles down the banks of the river, the Scots Fusiliers leading. Here the Tugela flowed between high shelving banks', while above them frowne4 the three spurs of the great Pieter's position. As usual,. these eminences were well  ribbed with shelter trenches, and embedded everywhere were Boer sharpshooters, ready to pit cunning against courage, and sniggie at the victory of one over the other.. A hot fire commenced on the river-banks while Barton's Brigade  advanced gallantly towards its destination. The top of the hill was being raked noisily by the gunners. "Hell was dancing hompipes aloft," someone said. However, in the afternoon British bayonets glittered against the  skyline, and the thing was done. This, the most wondefful infantry in the world, had ascended precipitous cliffs 500 feet high, assaulted Pie ter's Hill, gained the crest, and turned the enemy's left.

This storming of the main  position, which was accomplished by the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the Royal Irish Fusiliers, was a remarkable achievement, though the enemy,. conscious 6f their weakness at this point, and knowing how completely they were dominated  by the Monte Cristo ridge, made no very prolonged opposition. No sooner had the brigade occupied the hill than the disheartened Boers removed in considerable strength to some dongas on the east, whence they continued to be  aggressive, and poured a heavy rifle fire on the Fusiliers, whose losses were considerable. They failed, however, to dislodge them. At this time a simultaneous attack was taking place in the region of the two other hills which  composed the Fieter's position. These the 4th Brigade under Colonel Northcott and the 11th Brigade under Colonel Kitchener were now assailing with magnificent courage. For two hours every spot on the kopjes had been searched,  painted with the noxious hues of lyddite, and ceamed with shrapnel, and few Dutchmen there were who cared to remain to welcome the bayonets of Kitchener's braves. Their preliminary advance was scarce!y recognisable, kharki and  kopje so smoothly blending themselves in one. Then on a sudden, as in the transformation scene when jars become forty thieves or shell-fish become fairies, the boulders took to themselves human shape and human tongue, and up flew a  surging, yelling mass of fierce warriors, rushing the hill in the red light of the setting sun. The crest was carried magnificently by the Royal Lancasters, men who had been in the thick of everything for a month past, and who yet  maintained their unconquerable British qualities without a flaw; and the Boers, recognising that the game was up, were seen skimming the distance like swallows in flight. Some magnificent service was done by the gunners of the  Royal Navy and the Natal Naval Volunteers, service that was especially eulogised by the General, who declared that the losses consequent on the taking of the position might have been far greater but for the efficient manner in  which the artillery was served. Be this as it may, an officer said what many echoed, namely, that how-ever deadly our shell fire was, and however instrumental in winning the battle, "No infantry in the world but ours would  have crowned such a victory with so much glory." For the Boers at first fought doggedly, relinquishing their hold of trench after trench only when artillery followed by the bayonets of the infantry made their positions  untenable. In turn three hills were stormed; in turn cheer on cheer rent the air and travelled along the funnel like banks of the river, and floated up to the rejoiced ears of those on Hlangwane and Monte Cristo, who had assisted  to bring about the devoutly wished fcr consummation. The song of victory seemed to be taken up by the clements, earth and air and water, and the last flare of the guns of the enemy repeated it. All now knew that the way to  Ladysmith was won; that the toil and tribulation, the perplexity and suspense, tbat had harassed them since the fatal day of Colenso had come to an end! There, right and left, were little black figures scudding away like ants  disturbed; here streams of prisoners who had thrown up hands at glint of bayonet; on all sides kopjes, kopjes, kopies ours, unchallengly ours!

Some idea of the situation may be gathered from the description of a sergeant in the  2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers

On the 27th we put the damper on them. . . You have read, no doubt, of Barton's Brigade deploying to the right early in the day. That deployment was made by crossing the pontoon bridge put up during the  night by the Engineers. Instead of climbing up the banks on the opposite side, we crept down the water's edge over huge rocks for about a couple of miles. In the meantime our Naval guns, artillery, Maxims, were all blazing away  overhead, and a terrible rifle fire was raging on the left As we struggled up the steep banks the beggars spotted us, and things began to get lively. We got under a little cover, and blazed away for alL we were worth.

"The  whole brigade gradually pushed forward from one. bit of cover to another, but still the Boers held their ground. Ab6ut five o'clock in the afternoon the staff passed the word round to charge them out of it. We left our cover, and  advanced by half-companies at the double. The company officers were given a point to make for, and as soon as we got in the open it was a case of every man for himself. It was a good 800 yards of open ground where my company had to  cross, and, of course, they fired at us for all they were worth. A good many dropped, including A_____ and the two subalterns. What with shells bursting and a front and cross fire, it was like a full-dress rehearsal for the lower  regions. We got on the hill, and made short work of our Brothers. Needless to say, they didn't all stand for the steel. They kept up a heavy fire on us until long after dark Orders were passed to hold our own until daylight. As  many of the wounded were. without water, a terrible night was put in. The shouts for water, mingled with the groans of the dying, the sparks from the Mauser, bullets as they struck the rocks, the blackness of the night, &c.,  fairly made me say my prayers. . . . The stretcher-bearers searching for the wounded carry lamps, and these lamps made a nice target for Brother Boer to snipe at. Daylight came at last, the night mist began to clear away, dead  Tommies grinning at dead Boers, wounded men of all sorts, everybody~ stiff, sore, dirty, and tired. The Boers scooted."

And the next day came the serene happiness of viewing the Boers in full retreat behind Bulwana and in  the direction of Acton Homes, the winding string of waggons trekking away from the scene of past triumphs. The misery, the lives, the pains, the doubts, the disappointments were well repaid by that vision of the departing foe, the  foe moving off for ever from the strongholds of Natal. All had been accomplished by a blend of pluck, obduracy, and perseverance that can scarcely find its match in the records of British prowess. They had suffered at Colenso, they  had tested the deadly summit of Spion Kop: They had backed out from that cruel region with their lives in their hands, and repeated the same process in the equally terrific area of Vaal Krantz. They had come forth smiling,  stalwart, staunch as ever, believing and trusting and determining to hew their way through the rocky wilderness sown with destruction and save the 8ooo odd of their fellows whose lives verily hung by a thread. And now for fourteen  days, each hour fraught with blood and broiling, they had moved on from one dangerous position to a second more dangerous position, till at last, after prdtracted torment and suspense, they had driven before them the whole horde of  adventurous Dutchmen-foes allowed to be the bravest of the brave, if the shiftiest of the shifty. Now they had their reward. The Boers were scrambling to be off-that much they could see of them. It was only in those fleeing moments  they saw them at all. At other times, when battle rage& warmest, all that was known of the Brother Boer was the shape and number of his bullet

The following officers were killed and wounded on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of February

Staff-Wounded, Major-General A. S. Wynne, C.B. 3rd King's Royal Rifle Corps-Killed, Lieutenant Hon. R. Cathcart; wounded, Lieutenant D.  H.Blundell-Hollinshead-BIundell and Lieutenant A. F. MacLachlan. 2nd Royal Lancaster Regiment-Killed; Lieutenant R. H. Coc and Second Lieutenant N. J. Parker; wounded, Major E. W. Yeatherd, Lieutenant A. R. S. Martin, Lieutenant F.  C. Davidson (since dead), and Lieutenant R. Q. D. Parker. 2nd East Surrey Regiment-Wounded, Lieutenant-Colonel R. H. W. H.Harris, Major H. L. Smith, Major H. P. Treeby, Captain F. L. A. Packman, Lieutenant C. H. Hinton, Second  Lieutenant J. P. Benson. 1st South Lancashire Regiment-Wounded, Captain B. R. Goren, Lieutenant H. R. Kane, Captain S. Upperton, Second Lieutenant C. H. Marsh. 2nd Devonshire Regiment-Wounded, Lieutenant E. J. F. Vaughan. 2nd Royal  West Surrey Regiment-Wounded, Lieutenants B. H. Hastie, H. C. Winfleld, and A. E. Mc'Namara. 1st Rifle Brigade-Wounded, Captain and Quarter-Master F. Stone and Second Lieutenant C. D A. Baker-Carr. 2nd King's Royal Rifle  Corps-Wounded, Lieutenant W. Wyndham and Second Lieutenant G. C. Kelly. 2nd Rifle Brigade-Wounded, Second Lieutenant H. C. Dumaresq. I st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers-Killed, Lieutenant-Colonel T. M. G.Thackeray, Mlajor F. A.  Sanders, Lieutenant W. 0. Stuart; wounded, Major C. J. L. Davidson, Captain R. M. Foot, Lieutenant J Evans, Lieutenant J. N. Crawford, Second Lieutenant C. Ridings, Second Lieutenant H. P. Pott, Second

Lieutenant J. G. Devenisli;  missing, Second Lieutenant T. A. D. Best. 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers-Killed, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel C. G. H. Sitwell, D.S.O.; wounded, Lieutenant A. V. Hill, Second Lieutenant A. BroadhurstHill, Second Lieutenant F. B. Lane,  Second Lieutenant J. T. Dennis. 2nd Gordon Highlanders~Killed, Captain S. C. Maitland. Imperial Light Infantry

-Wounded, Major Hay. 1st Connaught Rangers-Wounded, Lieutenant J. L. T. Conroy, Lieutenant R. W. Harling, Lieutenant  H. Moore Hutchinson, Lieutenant A. Wise, Second Lieutenant A. T. Lambert, Second Lieutenant J. M. B. Wratislaw, Captain E. M. Woulfe Flanagan (5th Battalion, attached).

Royal Welsh Fusiliers-Killed, Lieutenant-Colonel C. C. H.  Thorold, Lieutenant F. A. Stebbing;wounded, Second Lieutenant C. C. Norman and Second Lieutenant H. V. V. Kyrke. 2nd Royal Fusiliers~Wounded, Lieutenant R. H. Torkington.

The following casualties occurred on the 27th of February

Killed.- 1st South Lancashire Regiment~ Lieutenant-Colonel W. M'Carthy

O'Leary. 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers-Brevet-Major V. Lewis, Captain H. S. Sykes, Second Lieutenant F. J. T. U. Simpson. 1st Royal Warwickshire  Regiment~Lieutenant H. L. Mourilyan. Second Royal Irish Fusiliers-Second Lieutenant C. J. Daly.

Wounded.-Major - General Barton. 2nd Scots Fusiljers - Lieutenant-Colonel E. E. Carr, Captain C. P. A. Hull, Captain E. E. Blame,  Lieutenan C. H. I. Jackson, Second Lieutenant H. C. Fraser. 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers-Major F. F. Hill, Lieutenant A. G. Knocker, Second Lieutenant A. Hamilton, Second Li~utenant V. H. Kavanagh. 1st South Lancashire Regiment-Major  T. Lamb. 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment~Captain C. Mansel Jones, Captain C. C. B. Tew, Lieutenant L. H. Spry, Lieutenant A. M. Boyall. 2nd Derbyshire Regimen t-Lieutenant H. S. Pennell, V.C. 2nd Royal Lancaster Regiment-Captain G. L.  Palmes, Second Lieutenant C. W. Grover, Lieutenant E. A. P. Vaughan. 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers-Second Lieutenant G. R. V. Steward. 1st Rifle Brigade-Captain and Adjutant S. C. Long, Second Lieutenant J. L. Buxton. 2nd Royal  Fusiliers-Lieutenant H. B. G. Macartney. 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers-Lieutenant J. M'D. Hastard, Second Lieutenant De B. Bradford .