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but in spite of their discomfort the men manned their trenches as cheerily
Just as when we are happiest we are nearest sadness, so in the time of extreme danger, many amusing, even ludicrous sights are to be seen, but perhaps the most amusing was to see the way in which the Gordons relieved the Shrops on Thursday. The Boer sharpshooters were ever on the alert and a glimpse of khaki brought a bullet. Extreme caution was the price of safety, so the Highlanders wormed their way to the trenches on their stomachs, while over their prostrate bodies crept the men of the Shropshire regiment.
The day was marked by the triple repulse dealt to the reinforcements that had hurried to the help of Cronje. At daybreak a most determined effort to break the cordon was made by over 2,000 Boers. Part of these endeavoured to take up one position after another, but found each of the three coigns of vantage they attempted to Occupy were held by the British. They finally rode to a kopje that was unoccupied, but the "Borderers" who had hurled them back from each of the three positions, and whose regimental badge, covered with glorious names, shows it to be one of the finest regiments in the service, raced to the kopje and getting there before the enemy again drove them away. Botha, the general who came to Cronje's assistance, was forced to flee, pursued by our cavalry, which cut up his rear guard and took sixty prisoners with seven waggons.
On the 26th we knew the end was near. The rains, which had been prevailing for the last few days, had swollen the river, forcing the Boers from the security of the river bed. Upon the muddy bosom of the stream there floated dead horses and dead men. The stench arising from the dead bodies was horrid and the sight ghastly in the extreme.
And then Majuba day came, the day of all days to the Boer. The sun was not yet above the horizon. It was five minutes to three o'clock. Silence
reigned supreme. Two minutes to three and still all was quiet as the tomb. Then the hour of three was ushered in by a sharp rippling fire of rifle shots that broke the silence of the morning. The reports echoed along the river bank, sweeping up stream and down again, gaining in volume and then dying away as the sound rolled on. Thousands of bullets cut up the plain, the flash-lights were working like mad from kopje to kopje, and the rumour spread again that Cronje was trying to break through. Soon the crash of British volleys broke the rattle of the well-known report of the Mausers. Every man was awake. Then over the sound of the rifles came the blare of the bugle, "Cease fire," and, save for a few scattered shots, all was again silent. And once more dawn brought explanations.
The Canadians had again shown the fine fighting qualities exhibited on the 18th. Two companies with fixed bayonets advanced up the north bank, keeping touch with one another in the darkness by locking arms. Following them came others with picks and shovels and some Royal Engineers. On they went, 500 yards, 600 yards, 700 yards, 800 yards, and then began to entrench themselves. They were only 50 yards from the Boers. The sound of steel pick and shovel alarmed the Boers and at once the Mausers were at work. But the men, following instructions, threw themselves upon the ground and the leaden hail passed harmlessly overhead. harmlessly overhead. The Canadians were told not to return the fire. The Gordons in the river could not fire for fear of hitting their colonial comrades, but the Shrops, from their trench, poured in a destructive enfilading fire that formed a good cover. The Canadians succeeded in occupying the edge of the trenches along the river, completely enfilading the rest. Suddenly the first ray of the sun appeared over the treetops and the regiment stationed on the crest of the hill saw a white flag and burst into cheers. "Hurrah" after "Hurrah" burst from their throats. Cronje had surrendered!
Our wounded was still being brought in when General Colvile and Colonel Ewart, of his staff, arrived, and the rumour quickly spread that the rat had come out of his hole. But our men were too tired and weary to cheer at the time, yet hand met hand in friendly firm clasp as comrade turned to comrade without saying a word. Shortly afterwards a note arrived for Lord Roberts stating that General Cronje surrendered unconditionally, and General Prettyman was sent to take the surrender. At six o'clock Cronje came out of his retreat accompanied only by his secretary and in charge of General Prettyman. This small group crossed the plain toward headquarters. Lord Roberts, pacing silently to and fro near the cart in which he sleeps, ordered the guard of Seaforth Highlanders to form in line to receive the surrendering general.
The group of horsemen came nearer, and on the right of Prettyman rode an elderly man wearing a rough, short, dark overcoat, wide brimmed hat, much the worse of wear, ordinary tweed trousers, and shoes difficult to tell whether they were brown or black, so covered were they with the red dust. The face, shaded by the wide brim, was almost black from sun and exposure to all kinds of weather, and the thick beard was tinged with grey. This was the "Lion of the Transvaal," Cronje!
The face of the Boer was like a mask. Was he thinking of Potjesfontein then? Who can tell? The Field-Marshal's staff stood waiting.
"Commandant Cronje, sir," said Prettyman, addressing his chief. Cronje touched his hat in salute; Roberts returned it. The whole party dismounted; Roberts stepped forward a pace or two, shook hands with Cronje and said, "You made a gallant defence, sir." This was the first salutation of the Marshal to the conquered leader, who then entered the mess tent where he was entertained with food.
And over among the Boers were strange sights. The men stood up unarmed on the trench banks, and
white flags showed among the trees and along the red earth trenches. Men were wandering aimlessly to and fro, each carrying his blanket. They did not seem to be sorrowful at the surrender, but what troubled them was their ultimate destination, where would they be sent, or if they would be parolled. Over on the other bank were women and children, good, faithful hearts that had accompanied their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, to the field, not to fight against the hated "Rooineks," but to cook for their men. The women were red-eyed and crying and wringing their hands at the dread thought of being torn from those they loved. And little children clung piteously to their mothers' skirts and looked up pathetically, wondering what it was all about. Weeping, the women begged for something to give their children to All were hungry. Their oxen had perished, their horses stampeded; they were helpless, and this-this of all days was Majuba day!
Within the laager the sight was a doleful one. Burned waggons, red crooked pieces of iron, heaps of ashes, and everywhere great holes splashed with the pale yellowish green of the exploded lyddite. The foot crunched on shrapnel, shreds of steel lay all about, while a great 100-pound shell lay unexploded upon the sand. Death and destruction reigned supreme. The whole place stank with putrid flesh, notwithstanding the fact that thousands of Boers, horses and cattle had been thrown into the river in the vain endeavour to rid the place of the stench. It seemed impossible that human beings could have existed in such a noisome place. The trenches were constructed in a most marvellous manner, making it quite probable that our bombardment was not as deadly as might have been expected.
The wounded lay unattended under the trees or hid in holes in the river bank. Broken boxes, dead horses and men were everywhere. Further up the river three Krupps poked their black muzzles from a wall built with parapets of sand bags. Some artillery
men were hurrying about the guns. When we came to take possession the breech blocks were gone and doubtless rest in the mud at the bottom of the river.
Then the soldiers began to arrive, and order grew out of chaos. Sharp words of command were shouted, the confusion grew less; the mob sifted itself into queer-looking groups forming by commandos, just as we form by regiments. Squatting upon their rolled or folded blankets, they awaited further orders.
And these, this rabble, unkempt, dirty, ill-clad-these men with their old-fashioned faces and peasant clothes -these were the men who had hurled back the flower of the English army at bloody Maagersfontein, and there they sat or stood slouchily, prisoners of war. There was the old grey-beard of three score, the clean-lipped, keen-eyed youth of sixteen, the fathers and the sons, hard men all. They did not look like the men to roll back our British lines, or stand a bombardment that would have broken the morale of even the finest army. And they, with pardonable pride, looked pleased when told that they fought well, and gazed at the Mausers and at the ammunition that overflowed the trenches, at the munitions of war that alone linked them to modern times.
And then came the order to cross the river. In two ever-increasing heaps the rifles were thrown. Some cast their rifles aside as though glad to get
rid of them. Others among the greybeards placed their rifles slowly and tenderly upon the heap as though parting from some well-beloved child, and then went on with bowed head. The scene at the ford was one of the most marvellous ever witnessed. Each man took with him all he could carry-pots, pans, and blankets. The river had swollen and many of the prisoners took off their trousers to cross. The whole scene was that of a picnic rather than a scene from the tragedy, War. Laughing and splashing one another, the men crossed, appearing to look upon the surrender as a huge joke, but among them were serious faces, grim and old, which looked with anger or sorrow upon the sporting of the others. The women waved their hands in farewell. Loving words of parting were shouted from bank to bank. A young Boer stops, looks back. His mother is standing over there. One kiss, one more caress he must have. He starts back. A gleaming bayonet is lowered to his breast. But the mute look of appeal in his honest grey eyes touches the heart of "Tommie," who has a grey-haired old mother at home, and the boy is soon at his mother's side, only to be back in his place again before the section reaches the other bank. War is not all glory.
And so Cronje surrendered over 4,000 men and six guns, and the shotmarks on the surrendered pom-pom gun showed how fierce had been the leaden hail.
OUR course shall mark the way of progress plainly,
Who fights for progress can but grandly win.
CANADA AND BISLEY.
By Lieut. H. C. Blair.
THE National Rifle Association of
Great Britain was founded in the year 1860 for the purpose of giving permanence to volunteer corps, and for encouraging rifle shooting throughout the Queen's dominions. That it has succeeded is proved by the fact that, to-day it stands the strongest rifle association in the world, and its annual meeting is by far the greatest meeting of riflemen in existence.
It has a membership of nearly three thousand, and its assets are valued at over £70,000 stg. It has for its Patron Field-Marshal His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, K.G., and for its President Field-Marshal His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge. On its Council list appear the names of some of the most distinguished men in the United Kingdom.
Cash prizes are given annually to the amount of upwards of £12,000 stg., besides many handsome and valuable trophies.
In one of the most beautiful parts of the county of Surrey, in England, lies the famous Bisley common. For two weeks each year, commencing on the second Tuesday of July, it is a city of tents and the home of about two thousand riflemen. Over one thousand men are employed by the N.R.A. as rauge officers, markers, register keepers and assistants.
A number of very fine bungalows have been erected by different regiments; among these the Canadian bungalow is the largest and most elaborate. Next comes the Army and Navy, the Scottish Twenty Club, and the Members' Club. In addition a great many
private colleges have been erected. All are tastefully painted and surrounded by neat flower gardens. During the matches, trains run hourly to and from London, distant in a northeasterly direction about forty miles. For the first thirty years of its existence the matches of the Association were held at Wimbledon, near Putney.
On the left of the range are situated the long range targets, twenty-five in number. This is known as 66 Stickledown." The longest distance shot here is 1200 yards. On the centre is the main range. Here we find in an unbroken line 102 targets. Of these 12 are used as extra series, and the remaining 90, known as the "go Butt," for the regular matches. A miniature railway train, owned and operated by the Association, carries us a distance of one mile to the Wharncliffe range, where are twelve more targets also used exclusively for extra series matches.
The matches last year amounted in
BISLEY-THE MORNING GUN.
number to one hundred and twenty seven. The most important, the first week besides the skirmishing, were the 66 Kolapore" and the "Prince of Wales."
The Kolapore cups were presented in 1871 by H.H. the Rajah of Kolapore, and are to be competed for annually by teams of eight; one team from the Mother country and one team from the militia and volunteers of each British Colony or dependency. The ranges are 200, 500 and 600 yds., seven shots at each. Last year the
coveted trophies. Ever since, a team of twenty men, with a commandant and adjutant has been sent by the Dominion Rifle Association to compete in the annual matches of the N. R.A.
cups were won by the team from the Mother Country with a record score. Out of a possible 105, each man on the winning team averaged 96 points. The Canadian team won the second prize. £80, with an average of 95 points per man.
The first Canadian team was sent to Wimbledon in 1872, by the Dominion Rifle Association, assisted by the Militia Department of Canada, for the purpose of competing for the Kolapore cups. This team was successful, carrying back to Canada the much
In the years 1897 and 1898 teams of twelve men were in like manner sent from Australia. This Australian team was also, in its first venture, successful in winning the Indian's handsome prize, it being carried off by the Victorians with, up to that time, the record score of 751 points.
His Royal Highness the Prince of
Wales gives annually for competition the sum of one hundred pounds sterling; to this is added by the Association another hundred pounds. The first prize is £100 and the Prince of Wales' badge, and is of course, one of the plums of the meeting.
The ranges are two hundred and six hundred yards, ten shots at each; the match is open only to winners of the N. R.A. medal, which narrows the number of competitors down to about. four hundred. Last year the prize was won by Sergt. Wattleworth,