I do not consider myself able to criticise the manner in which our officers organized this battle. But it was easy to see that a great mistake had been made. We had much to be thankful for, but the result might have been more advantageous to us. The whole camp with all its cannon should have been taken with a smaller loss than eighty men killed and wounded.
I do not know the number of the enemy’s killed and wounded. If our first attack had been made unanimously and unexpectedly, we could easily have crushed the enemy. The prisoners, as usual, pretended that they knew all about our plans, but why, then, were their reinforcements too late, or, rather, why did they never arrive? When General De la Rey organizes an attack, and his instructions are well carried out, the burghers have so much confidence in him, and like him so well, in spite of, or perhaps because of his violent temper, that they never have any doubt as to his ultimate success.
The prisoners were released. In my presence they were always well treated, and I have seen many khaki prisoners who have never on any occasion been ill-treated.
PAARDEKRAAL DAY—BATTLE IN THE MOAT—ATTACK ON KAALFONTEIN STATION
From Onuapadnek our lagers went to the farm Rietfontein, near Witwatersrandjes, where we celebrated Paardekraal Day on December 16—under sad circumstances, alas!
Ds. Kriel, who constantly accompanied us in the most self-denying manner, in all our battles and on all our long journeys, led us in prayer that day. Halfway up the kopje, which we climbed in most solemn earnest, he offered up a prayer to God, and then impressed upon us the importance of the occasion. On the top of the kopje he held a short service. It reminded me of that which my own father held for the assembled burghers at Paardekraal in 1880. How true and faithful he was in his position as preacher to the fighting men, and how well he served his adopted country!
After General De la Rey, Smuts, Kemp, and Mr. Naude had all addressed us, Ds. Kriel read out a document in which was expressed, in a few words, the purpose each one of us should attach to his contribution of a stone towards the monument to be erected there. He exhorted the burghers not to add a stone to the pile unless they fully understood and were in earnest about its meaning. So the old covenant was renewed in a different place under different circumstances and in a different manner from the Paardekraal Day of former years, and when the burghers descended from the kopje they were strengthened by the renewing of an ancient pledge in their resolution to fight to the last for their country and their people.
The place where the monument was erected was called Ebenhaezer.