A Handbook of the Boer War eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 415 pages of information about A Handbook of the Boer War.

Norcott’s Brigade was nearer to its objective than either of the brigades which had preceded it, as it was lying south of Hart’s Hill between the railway and the river; and although deprived of a considerable portion of his command by a demand for help which purported to have come from Railway Hill, he finished his task in three hours.  He toiled up the dead ground to the apparent crest of Hart’s Hill, and then came face to face with the higher position, which three days before had so cruelly baffled the Irish Brigade.  But the Boers were not now in a mood to stay.  The shrapnel from the right bank, which they had not to meet when Hart charged across from the crest in the failing light, was now hailing on them.  All but a few stalwarts took to flight, and Hart’s Hill was taken before sunset on February 27.

The capture of the hills supervening on the bad news from Paardeberg shattered the Boer Armies in Natal.  Botha’s left had been defeated; and although his right had not been seriously attacked by Lyttelton, but only prevented from effectively reinforcing the hill positions, it fell away towards the north.  He was not able to stay the general retreat, but he hoped at least to join Joubert and cover it with the aid of the besieging force.  Joubert, however, had already raised the Siege and was retreating towards Elandslaagte.

Next morning Barton on Pieter’s Hill vainly appealed for permission to press forward, but Buller would only put the two mounted Brigades under Dundonald and Burn-Murdoch on to the enemy’s trail.  Dundonald made for Ladysmith, and Burn-Murdoch was instructed to act on the right front towards Bulwana, but was soon called upon to assist Dundonald in driving in a Boer rearguard.  He then resumed his advance, and from the east covered Dundonald, who being fired on from Bulwana thought it advisable to send his Brigade to a safer position in rear, and having done so, rode on at the head of a body of colonial troops, and as the sun was setting on February 28, marched into Ladysmith and ended the four months’ Siege.  It was a fitting exploit to be performed by the grandson of that Lord Cochrane who at Aix Roads nearly a century before had similarly chafed and strained at the leash of a superior officer’s reluctance.[30] Burn-Murdoch came into action with a rearguard covering Bulwana, which was evacuated during the night.  He bivouacked near the Klip River, and next morning proposed to pursue the enemy, but Buller whistled him to heel.  The relieving force advanced with deliberation, and on March 3, entered Ladysmith, and unravelled the Natal entanglement which at one time seemed likely to wreck the South African Campaign.

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A Handbook of the Boer War from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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