Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

20 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



ONE OF THE BATTLES OF HISTORY. The" Daily Chronicle" War Correspondent tele. •graphs:— Modder River Military Camp. Thursday, November 30th. The battle of the Modder River will be long re flQeiwbered as the most sanguinary and fiercely CO" 1t1:ed engagement that has so far occurred in the (present war. In their rKreat north after the actions of Belmont and Enlin Hill the enemy determined to offer a stubborn resistance to the advance of the Kimberley Relief column, and chose for this purpose a position on the Modder River. They could not have had a better. They were well upplÍl-d wit.h artillery, and the bridge over the Modder had been wrecked so as to make it im- passable. The Boer commandant, with t'he river between him and the relipf force, must have felt that it would require a whole Army Corps to drive Tiim out. But he did not reckon on the bravery of the British infantry and. the precision of its rifle fire, and that of our artillery. The Boer position can easily be described. On the south side of the Modder there is a vast plain stretching a-s far a-the eye can reach along the river. The north bank had beeen strongly fortified. On the east side of the bridge stands the Retail's Junction Hotel and the Farm Hotel, stone build- ings with a number of outhouses of galvanised iron, wholf surrounded by trees. This group of buiidii:g> was the centre of the Boer position. Here the main body of the enemy was ooncentrated. On the right the enemy's line extended two miles. On the reft from the bridge it extended three miles, reaching beyond the border into the Free State territory. The Boer left flank rested on a farmhouse jusb across the border. The farm was surrounded with •earthworks, on which two guns were mounted. There were also two guns on the extreme right, and others were distributed along the line. Ooaa 10 the bridge were several guns, including a Long om. The enemy was better equipped in thp way of heary ordnance than the British force. About 100 yards in advance of the centre the enemy had a small post. Along the whole of his front he had dug rifle pits strengthened with breastworks or sand riveted with galvanised iron plates, and with parapets of sand ■banks. Ihese works were admirably constructed, &nù gave the riflemen absolutely bullet-proof cover. W eave now ascertained that ever since Sunday 'the Boers from both the Free State and the Trans- vaal were pouring into the Modder River position. There must have been fully 10,000 present on the day of battle. Lord Methuen did not anticipate en- countering such a strong force here. Commandants Cronje and Delarey, of Kimberler, were in command. The enemy received a. very heavy Temforcement from Jaoobsdal on Sunday night. The British force, consisting of the Scots Guards, Grenadier* and Coldstroams, under Sir Henry Col- L- •N|'or,h"ml>erland Fusiliers and West York- shire Regiment, under General Pole-Carew • and *he 9th Lancers, the XeW South Wales Lancers, the Mounted Infantry, and >hree batteries of Royal Field Artillery, advanced from Gragspan on Monday, ■and camped five miles from the Modder River thafe ■alight. At daylight on Tuesday thev advanced to the attack. Our patrols of Lanoers and Mounted Infantry drew the enemy's fire all along the line The engagement hegan at five o'clock, one of our •batteries opening fire against the enemv's extreme deft, at a range of 4-.500 yards. At our third shot the enemy s guns at the farm-house on the left re- plied, sending several shells in quick succession into the midst of our battery and its cavalry escort. In a few minutes the artillery duel became general •along the line, our batteries engaging the Boer centre and right. The Boer shells fell fast. Their •range was excellent, but. happily, few exploded. Aft^r two hours of this artillery engagement, the infantry brigades deployed under cover of our artil- lery, and the line advanced. On the right were the ficots Guards, then the Grenadiers and Coldstream a, •nd then the West Yorkshires and the Northumber- tande. and half a battalion of the I^ancashires. The :1,.t Argyll and Si/therland Highlanders, under Col. -Crough arrived just in time to participate in the ■(light. But they were at first pushed forward to support the Guards on the right, but later on were Ataed to reinforce the 9th Brigade on our left. The enemy hailed shells on our infantry, but not e rifle shot was fired at the British until 'they were "within 300 yards of the Boer position. Then a fear- ful rifle fire broke out from the intrenchments, supplemented by that of several Nordenfeldts and "Maxim-. The bullets poured upon our advancing ihne. but all the time it was absolutely impossible to catch a glimpse of the enemy. Our men fired all best they oould. While under this withering fusilade they fell in scores. There was no cover procurable, so the order was given for the men to lie down. and for three hours it rained lead without inter- jrussion. I have never seen such a terrible fire as ♦he British were exposed to. It meant instant death 4.o and upright. By a series of short rushes our men sought to get 4o close quarters with the enemy. Bravely and weil they fought. Undismayed by the torrent of shot and •hell, the British strove to press forward, pouring ■volley after volley into the enemy's works. The jground was strewn with our dead. The British officers set a magnificent example to men, sacrificing themselves unhesitatingly. Thus fell Colonel Stopford, of the Coldstreams, and many others, till the ground was littered with our dead. At length the Scots Guards reached the bed of dried-up watercourse. They dashed into it, while the hail of the enemy's bullets swept over their ;h»>ads. Then up the slope of the opposite bank they climbed, rill they stood again on the level ground, fully exposed to the enemy's fire from across the river. The cover afforded by the watercourse n-as gone, and [hey were assailed in front and flank by a murderous fire. It simply rained bullets. No one could live under «hi> sweeping fire, and they lost heavily. Meanwhile, the Grenadiers and Coldstreams. and ithe Northurnberiands, the Highlanders, and the Test of the 9th Brigade, were pushing gallantly for- ward 011 both sides of the railwav which bisected our ^advancing line. The railway line is here higher Jthan the surrounding plain, and every one who tried to advance along it was hit. The whole of our line was now about 600 yards irom the south bank of the river, and taking advan- tage of the little cover procurable, our infantry lay for hours returning the Boer fire. Still not one of the enemy was to be seen. It was at best haphazard shooting. No soldiers save ritish could have endured such a trying experience. Several rushes were now made for the river at various points. A company of the Argyll and Suther- land Highlanders succeeded in getting across, but they heavily, and had to fall back to thesoirh bank. W" found five of their dead in the Boer intrench merits to-day. The Northumberland* and the Guards also attempted the desperate task, and the former surprised a number of the enemy, who •were an bayoneted. While the Argyll- were pushing across the river they were fired on from the house, and several fell, on which a dozen of the Highlanders -tormed the house, and, though the enemy hoisted the white flag, no quarter wa- iriven. They were all-hot. The enemy had acted most unscrupulously, -hpllinjt our field hospital, ,"0 that some of our wounded -were killed, and repeatedly firing on our stretcher parties. Col. Codrington. of the Coldstream-, with twenty f his men, and Colonel Seedheim. of the Queens- land Volunteer-, despite a terrible fire, swam across the river, and closely reconnoitred the enemy. They had to -wim back through the deep river and the strong current joining hand-. Two of the men ""pre swept away. and Codrinroll was rescued from the stream with difficulty. In the afternoon our artillery concentrated its fire on the centre of the Boer position, our Naval Battery on the left, making some very fine shooting. At three o'clock the 62nd Battery of the Royal Artillery, with a detachment of the Munster Fusi'lers, arrived by train from Orange River "tation. This was a very welcome reinforcement. The effect of our artillery fire was soon visible. That of the enemy slackened, and then ceased, ex- cept the Long Tom in the centre, which blazed 2I.way to the last. The Briti"h shelJ, werp setting fire to the buildings held by the enemy along the river bank, and drove him out. many of the houses collapsing. Our shells must have killed hundreds of the Boer' in the trenches. We ascertained to-day that the enemy were terri- fied by the effect of our shells. Xumhers of them 1hr"w.down their rifles and fled. The contingent headed hy Cronjp retreated about o'clock towards Lang-berg. Oilier- followed in quick succession, heading for .(acok-dal. The firing continued on both side- till darkn<> = closed in. About eight o'clock the main body of the enemv re- tired. taking the guns with In all, the fight .lasted fourtpplI houq. To-day the British again shelled the Boer position, and when there was no reply, a. cavalry patrol i ro-sspd rite river, and discovered ¡ har the enemy had fled. They visited the Boer entrenchments, and the dead Uring everywhere. There were a No numerous graves where the enemy had buried a. number of t h" slain. Thp buildings occupied hy the enemy were masses of smoking ruins. The column cros-sed to-da. and Í. now in filii posse-siou of both banks of the river. flnr cavalry pursued the enemy for some taking a number of prisoners. Lord Methuen has onsratulated the troops on the hardest-won victorv in our jum&la of war,

















Oysters and Civilization.