Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

5 erthygl ar y dudalen hon





-+- THE ATTACK ON LADYSMITH. FULL DETAILS. LADYSMITH, January 6th. The enemy to-day made a determined effort to capture two positions—Cassar's Camp and Wagon Hill, the latter a lofty eminence to the south-west —the possession of which would have brought them within rifle range of the town. Caesar's Camp was held by the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. The position was separated from that of the Boers by a rocky ravine. In the early hours of the morning, under cover of the darkness, the Heidelberg commando suc- ceeded in evading our pickets, making their way through the thorn-bush, and reaching the foot of the slope. At half-past two the alarm was raised by our sentries, but before the full extent of the danger could be realised, the outlying sangars had been rushed, and their defenders slain. Hearing the firing, two companies of the Gordon Highlanders went to the assistance of the Man- chester Regiment. It was at first thought that the Boers were concentrating on the southern slope, where they had already secured a footing on the plateau. Here, however, their advance was checked by the steady volleys of our Infantry and the deadly fire of an automatic gun. Lieutenant Hunt-Grubbe went out to see if any aid was needed by the troops stationed on the ridge near the town. He was unaware that the enemy had already captured the breastworks, and called out Sergeant!" He received the reply, Here I am, sir and then suddenly disappeared from sight. Captain Carnegie, suspecting a ruse, ordered the Gordons to fire a volley and charge. The enemy thereupon fell back precipitately, leaving behind them the officer whom they had captured with so much presence of mind. The Lieutenant was quite unhurt. By this time it was evident that the camp was being assailed both on the left flank and on the front. By daybreak reinforcements of the Gordon Highlanders and the Rifle Brigade had been harried up to the fighting line. Lieut. Colonel Dick- Cunyngham, who was leading the Gordons out of camp, fell mortally wounded, being hit by a stray bullet while still close to the town. The 53rd Battery of Field Artillery, under Major Abdy, crossed the Klip River, and shelled the ridge and the reverse slope of the front position, where the enemy were lying among the thorn bushes. The shrapnel, which flew over our heads, did terrible execution. It effectually I.eld the Boers in check, and rendeied it impossible for them to send reinforcements to their men through the ravine. The enemy fought throughout with the most stubborn courage, being evidently determined to take the camp or die in the attempt. Their six-inch gun on Umbulwana Mountain and its smaller satellites, threw over one hundred shells at Major Abdy's battery, and at the troops on the hill. Our men, howeyer, were not less gallant and resolved, and the enemy were pressed back step by step until, at length, those who were left of them broke and fled in utter disorder. A terrific storm of rain and hail, accompanied by peals of thunder, had burst over jthe camp during the fighting, and served to swell the streams into raging torrents. In their efforts to escape, numbers of the enemy flung themselves into the current, and were swept away. The struggle in this part of the field was now at an end. The final was a terrific fusillade all along the line, the crash of which almost drowned the incessant thunder above. Meanwhile, a more exciting contest was in pro- gress in the direction of Wagon Hill. At two o'clock a storming party furnished by the Harri- smith commando crept slowly and cautiously along a donga in the valley which diyides our posts from their (camp. A few well-aimed rifle shots killed our pickets. Taking advantage of every inch of cover, they then gradually reached the crest of the height. Here the Light Horse were posted, but were forced to retire before the Free Staters' advance, there being no breastworks for defence on the western shoulder of the hill. With little to impede their progress, the enemy came to an emplacement, where they surprised the working parties of the Gordon Highlanders, Sappers, and 60th Rifles. Lieutenant Digby Jones, R.E., collecting a hand- ful of men, made a gallant effort to hold the position but numbers were against them, and after a stubborn resistance, they were driven back, and the enemy got possession of the summit. Even then, however, the Free Staters were afraid to venture far, or to face the heavy fire from the sangar. It was here that Lieutenant Macnaghten and thirty of the Gordon Highlanders were taken prisoners, though not till every man of them was wounded. At five o'clock Colonel Edwards, with two squadrons of Light Horse, arrived on the scene, and the 21st Battery Royal Field Artillery, under Major Blowitt, came into action, preventing the storming party being reinforced from the Boer camp. At the same time the 18th Hussars and 5th Lancers checked the movement from the Spruit on our right flank. Nevertheless, our position at this point had be. come critical. Our men had retired for cover behind the northern slope, while the enemy had made their way into the pass dividing them from the hill. Major Bawen rallied a few of the Rifles, but fell while leading them to the charge. His example was at once followed by Lieutenant Tod, but he met with the same fate. The enemy were making good the footing they had already secured in the emplacement when Major M Wallnutt, calling the scattered Gordons together, charged in and drove them back. Having thus cleared the ground, he joined Lieutenant Digby Jones in the newly-prepared emplacement on the western shoulder. A pause ensued for the time, but the Boers were not finally beaten. Taking advantage of the storm that was now raging, they essayt d to capture the position by another rush. Three of their leaders Reached the parapet, but were shot down by Lieutenant Digby Joues and Major Wallnutt, the latter of whom also fell. The renewed check effectually discouraged the assailants, and the deadly duel was now practically at an end. Nevertheless, small parties of the braver spirits kept up a murderous fire on our men from behind the rocks. The moment had evidently arrived to strike the final blow, and Colonel Park quickly issued the necessary orders. Three Companies of the Devonshire Regiment, led by Captain Lafone, Lieutenant Field, and Lieu- tenant Masterson, made a brilliant charge across the open, under a terrific fire and fairly hurled the enemy down the hill at the point of the bayonet. In the course of the struggle Captain Lafone and Lieutenant Field were killed, and Lieutenant Mas- terson received no fewer than ten wounds. This was the fitting close to a struggle that had lasted sixteen hours, during which eveiy rifte and gun had been brought to bear. Our position was now secure. The attacks on the north and east had also been repulsed, and the grand assault had failed all along the line. The Boers lost heavily, and admit that the en- gagement was the most severe blow their arms had sustained since the opening of the Campaign. They were confident of their ability to capture the town, and had called up reinforcements from Colenso to assist at the expected victory. Our own losses are, I regret to report, also con- siderable. Lord Ava was mortally wounded early in the morning while accompanying Colonel Ian Hamilton to the scene of action. The garrison can now await the coming of relief with renewed confidence. DURBAN, January 16th. The list of casualties among the various corps of Natal Volunteers, in the fighting at Ladysmith on the 6th inst., has only just been published. The Imperial Light Horse suffered heavily, losing twenty-four killed and twenty-five wounded, while the Natal Volunteers lost six killed.