SVP. I’ll be only posting c. 3 blogs, and would require over a dozen more in order too cover a good portion of the letters, etc., from the South African War, some examples as fallows. —
492 Réal Huot, (3rd Field Battery, C.A.) B.D. RCA, ‘E’ Field Battery. — Writes to his brother in Montreal, from Cape-Town, 27th Feb., 1900. Note: Sailed on “SS Laurentain” arrived in Cap-Town, 17th Feb., 1900: — Dear Alphonse, I write you a few words to tell you that I am well and in good health. People here are very good to us, and I never ate so much fruit as I did this winter. My officers are good to me, so are the rest of the boys. Yesterday they made us put a paper in our valises with the names of our nearest relatives, to whom we would like to have news sent if we died on the field. I put your name and I gave your address. If I am fortunate enough to go back to Canada again I will have lots to tell you. We leave here to-morrow for Kimberley, about 700 miles from here. As you see, we are all disposed to die for our Queen. This country is very nice, but it’s very warm. I would like to give you a more complete letter, but you understand that I have no place and no time. Letters take a month to reach here, so before you get this letter and answer back it will be two months at least. I see about 3,000 to 4,000 soldiers daily from ail nationalities, and it is a nice sight. But a war like this isn’t a play, I tell you. I suppose that when I receive your answer our fighting will be over…Yours, Réal Huot.
405 Pte. W. H. Snyder, 2nd Canadian Contingent 1st Batt. Canadian Mounted Rifles, ‘B’ Squadron On board S.S. Milwaukee, Feb. 28th, 1900, to Principal L. D. Robinson: — My Dear Mr. Robinson,—I have a little leisure now, and will try to get a letter ready to send to you at the first opportunity. I have just come off a twenty-four hour continuous watch, so if my letter appears disconnected, please pardon on this account, as I naturally feel a little sleepy.We are now eight days out on our long voyage and have come about 1,900 miles. It is rumored that we will be at the Cape VerdeIslands by Saturday, and that we will be convoyed by a British Man O’War from there.The first three days out was very rough but since then the water has been as calm as a lake. I was quite sick for two days but am all right now.We are fairly comfortable but our sleeping quarters are pretty cramped. We sleep in hammocks, wedged in like sardines. We get up at a quarter to six and go at once to stables. The horses, poor creatures! Have the hardest time. Already some eight have died and been thrown overboard.The weather to-day is simply perfect, the sea is like a mill pond. A breeze, like one is accustomed to meet on a balmy day in June, is sweeping over the decks. I am writing this stretched out on the deck. All over the ship is hustle and bustle. Some are drilling, others at fatigue work, others at target practice, while many are reading or writing. We seem to be altogether out of the track of sailing craft. Occasionally a steamer can be discerned away off on the horizon but never near.
We have a sort of impromptu concert on board every night, consisting of Songs, Instrumental Music, Stump Speeches, &c. Occasionally a sportive whale, shark or porpoise pays us a close call. One of the prettiest, or at least one of the most impressive sights I ever saw, was the Parade Service last Sunday at 10 a.m. Imagine a large steamer steaming rapidly over a trackless sea. On her decks some 600 men assembled in a Service of Parade One of the old, familiar tunes is given out by Rev. Mr. Lane and as the organ strikes the first note the time is taken up by hundreds of voices. The strain of praise echoes and re-echoes far out over the waters and I feel as if it must reach even the little town in the dear home land where are all I hold dear. God bless and keep all! I hope once again in the future to meet you all, but if it is my lot to offer my unworthy life for my Queen and country, I promise, God helping me, to die like “a soldier and a man.”
The strange feature of our voyage seems to be the fact of being away from all news. I dare say stirring events are taking place. The general health of the men is good. Yesterday, and for two days before, we were being vaccinated. I was rather amused at the antics of some of the men when they bared their arms for the surgeon’s lancet. It took quite a while for some of them to get the proper courage. One fellow remarked to me that he always fainted at sight of blood. I wonder what he will do on the battlefield!
Today is wash day on board. Our troops have their turn this afternoon. I must close now. Will try to write you an interesting letter from South Africa. With kind regards to all Your old School Boy. W. H. Snyder. B. Squadron, 4th Troop, South African Field Service.
112 William J. Macdonald, B.D., R.C.F.A. ‘C’ Battery, Onboard S.S “Milwaukee” Mid Ocean 19th March, 1900, Letter To Geordie: — Dear Geordie…Soon after starting the captain told us we may have a chance to post some letters in case we met a mail vessel, so he gathered the letters written. I wrote you one, but now I’ll write you another one instead. In three more days we expect to land, and everything now is bustle is getting ready. We have had a splendid voyage, but now everybody is ready to go ashore, as we are very anxious to hear the news, we have been a month without hearing a whisper from the outside world, and I don’t suppose there is any body of men on the face of the globe today,, more anxious to hear the war news than we are if this morning Toronto Globe could mysteriously fall down on this ship it would bring one hundred times its value, but the time of waiting will now soon be over, and we will know all about the war. I am burnt completely brown, and taking us all through we are sunburnt lot of men. Going through the tropics. The heat has been intense, but now we are getting so far south it is beginning so far south it is beginning to get cooler again. The first Sunday out we had to spread awnings all over the vessel to protect us from the sun, and ever since that day a shady place has been at a premium. I am very sorry we didn’t call at Cape Verde Islands so that the folks at home would know we were all right, but we passed 5-6 miles to the west of them, so could not signal. A week later however we passed close to Ascension Island, and I expect we would be cabled from there. That would be the only news you would get of us until we land at Cape Town. Geordie, I wish you were along with us, you and I would have had a pretty good time together. We could have been together through the whole war, and many a time since we started I have wished you were along. We’ll have it ten times as rough and hard as we ever had it in the north west, but then we could stand that all right.
We had a rather bad scare one day, and it almost looked as though it was all up with us. The hold is packed full of hay, and it commenced wheat-, and so far that it was within one degree of taking fire and you might imagine we couldn’t get that hay out of there quick enough. If it had even taken fire we would never have seen land again, because there is two hundred tons of ammunition right beside it, and that would have exploded before we would have had time to get to the boats. The captain was trembling like a leaf, I suppose because he knew the danger more than we did, but happily we got the hay out and air circulating down there and then everything was all right.
We had one pretty bad storm a day or two after starting and from there right up until now we now had splendid weather, but today we are running into another and even now the waves are washing up over the bow of the vessel. The horses are suffering a great deal more than we are, and so far we have lost 37 since leaving Halifax. We have on board with us the Methodist Chaplain Rev Mr Lane, and he is a splendid fellow. He has been through our campaign himself, and has been wounded in action, so he thoroughly understands soldiers and a soldier’s life. Mr. Best, the representative of the Y.M.C.A. is also with us, and he is also well liked by everybody. You would scarcely believe the amount of gambling going on board unless you were here to see. Lots of young fellows whom I believe never gambled before are losing all their money every day, because they can never hope to win against old hands at the game it shows how very easily some young fellows are led astray. After we land I am going to write a good long letter to the Young Peoples society, so you be there the night it is read I can then write to all at once.
Well Geordie, how have things been going on around home since I left? Be sure to write after and keep me well posted in the news. I often think of home and wonder how you are all doing, and you don’t know how much letters from home are appreciated by me.
I have no idea how long I will be away, because I have not heard the news for so long, and don’t know how things are going in South Africa, but I think possibly all the Canadians will come home together when they do come. Oh say, did you take home my hat that I left at your place the day I came away? Kindly remember me to many and all the rest, and don’t forget to write often. Ever your true friend, Will This is my address W. J. Macdonald Capetown South Africa “C” Field Battery Royal Canadian Artillery.
Pte. John F. Wandlass, (Cpl. 71st York Battalion), Fredericton left Canada in March part of first contingent reinforcements on the transport SS Monlerey to South Africa, writes as follows of the Montreal boys on board: — We have a very fine class of men on board. In our company a great many of the non-commissioned officers and privates are from the best families in Canada. There is one fellow from Montreal here by the name of Barry; you may have seen his picture in the Montreal Star. His brother was killed in the battle of Paardeberg and he offered to take his place and pay his own expenses. He was offered the first vacancy in the Strathcona Horse, but he is attached to our mess and will likely remain with us.
Letter Printed In The Globe Toronto, May 1st, 1900, from Van Wyk’s Vlei, Cape Colony, April 4th, via London, April 30th: — The first death in the Second Canadian Contingent occurred to-day. Private Bradley (Ottawa) had ridden his horse to the river in order that the animal might drink. The horse suddenly threw him, and he sank into a deep hole. Bradley could not swim. Private Walters, of Ottawa, and a dozen others, jumped into the water to rescue him, and one of the number, Private Firns, a West Australian, brought him to the surface. Lieutenant Morrison threw a rope to the pair, who were then pulled ashore. Bradley was unconscious, but after prolonged effort, Dr. Stewart and Hospital Sergeant Whitton succeeded in restoring animation. The mud had, however, so injured his lungs that pneumonia set in and he died the same night. The body was buried here with military honors. Fearful rains, almost impassable roads, and a threatened shortage of provisions and forage are characterising the march. These hardships are beginning to tell. We left nineteen men in the hospital at Carnarvon, and another hospital has been established here.
Private Hopkins, of D Battery, accidentally discharged his revolver, the bullet taking effect in his knee. The wound is not serious.
Quartermaster-Sergeant Robert Hunt, of the Canadian Mounted Rifles, whose death is reported from South Africa, is none other than Sergeant-Instructor B. Hunt, of A Squadron, 1st Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles, as squadron quartermaster-sergeant, was stationed at Stanley’s Barracks, Toronto. ‘Barney,’ as he was familiarly known, was an old Québec boy, aged about 30 years, and from 17 years of age was attached to the cavalry school in tins city under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Turnbull, later known as the Royal Canadian Dragoons, joining as a trumpeter and rising to the second highest rank among non-commissioned officers. He was well and favourably known not alone in military but civilian life here, and Canada could boast of no braver soldier than the deceased, who was always ready at the call of duty and was one of the first to volunteer for service in South Africa. The news of his death will consequently be received with much regret by his numerous friends. His only living sister is Mrs. H. M. Bartlett, wife of the chief inspector of the Québec District Railway, while he leaves a wife with four children, the youngest born since he left for South Africa, to mourn his loss. They are still residing at Toronto. Mrs. Hunt was formerly a Miss Couillard, of L’Islet, and has been married for some ten years. It has been known in this city for some time that deceased was suffering from enteric fever at Kroonstad, to which he evidently finally succumbed, although full particulars are not yet to hand.
Kind To The Canadians. — Private E.T. Austen, of Belleville (now in the Canadian Mounted Rifles), tells this incident in a letter from Cape-Town: — A young lady came down to our camp the other day and they were ail out on drill and I was left on guard. She wanted to see the Canadians. I told her to come the next day about 4 o’clock, and she came with her mother, and they asked a Mr. Jackson, of Toronto, and myself, up to their house, and we went up and have been up twice. They are coming down tomorrow to get a pass for us to go up to tea. They are such nice people and they live in a lovely house. They brought us down a basket of grapes and some candies and books. I have seen some of the Canadians who were up at the front, that are wounded, and they don’t seem to mind being at the front very much.
Howell’s Brave Deed. — Recommended For The Victoria Cross. — Brantford, Ont., 30th, November. — The Expositor has received a letter from Captain J. S. Kingston, of the Imperial Light Horse, who is a Brantford boy, reporting that Reginald Howell, another Brantford lad, who enlisted in the South African Light Horse, distinguished himself at the Tugela River by swimming across to capture a ferry and also saving the life of a comrade who had become exhausted. Howell has received the Humane Society’s medal and has been recommended for the Victoria Cross. The young Canadian was personally thanked by General Buller and Lord Roberts.
Lieutenant Joseph Matthews, of Lindsay: — I think from the way they acted under fire for the first time, that Canada has no need to be ashamed of the regiment. When told to try an impossible charge of about six or seven hundred yards, against a hidden enemy, they showed no hesitation whatever, but charged like men. The Highlanders say that the fire they faced at Dargai and Magersfontein wasn’t a patch to this. Since then we have been under fire more or less all the time, but I don’t think we will be called upon to repeat Sunday’s performance, as the artillery are doing the work. We are up nearly every night, and only get about one meal a day, so we are having hardships in earnest. Will have to close now to get this away. Our regiment is going t o occupy a position on the left to check Boer reinforcements. I hope you can make this out, but I am afraid you can’t. Remember me to all my friends, and tell them that I am doing splendid so far.
Sight Of A lifetime. — ‘Chebucto,’ in the Halifax Herald, says: — Before leaving Dreifontein, Lord Roberts passed through us on horseback, accompanied by his staff. It was the sight of a lifetime, the small figure of the Field Marshal, beloved by ail, and closely following him three abreast, the bravest and cleverest men that could compose a General’s retinue. Staff officers, subadars and other native officers, and the broad rimmed straw hat of a bronzed face officer belonging to the naval brigade. This march of 11 miles was one of the worst we have experienced, and heaps of men fell out, specially amongst the Cornwalls and Shropshires. This stop (Sunday, March 11th), was known as Aasvogal Kop (Vulture Peak), and was a very pretty green spot for a camp, situated between three kopjes. We lay to over night, and the next morning continued our journey, reaching Venter Vallei, because at this spot I got in with the black kaffir camp followers, and paid five shillings and six pence for three biscuits (hard tack) a small piece of meat and a canteen full of hot coffee.
Private H. S. White, in the St. John, N.B., Sun, as fallows: — Meantime recruiting and looting go ahead merrily; the Dutch residents willingly accept the honor of service in the ranks of the Free State army — perhaps they do not realize at ail that they are risking themselves into rebels pure and simple. Steenekamp is there; the place has been annexed to the Free State, and they look upon themselves as burghers fairly and squarely. In this way the villages and intervening country from Van Wyk’s Vlei on the south to Upington on the north, and from Britstown on the east to Calvinia on the west, has been placed under the three-colored Republican flag. Almost every Dutch resident has taken up amis, everything of any value has been ‘commandered,’ and the consequence is that we have now the prospect of a pretty little ‘scrap’ with a fairly well equipped force of something between two and three thousand men, who call themselves burgher soldiers, and whom we call ‘rebels.’
Private H. Newell, 2nd Middlesex, writing to his brother at Richmond, as fallows: — 24th, January, 1900, will never be forgotten by the Middlesex Regiment. It is called the day of horrors by the regiment, and Spion Kop is called the Slaughter Hill, and such it was. English troops were slain as in a butcher’s shop. It was near 18 hours’ fighting as far as I was concerned. Our regiment (Middlesex) fought like lions the whole day long, with heavy casualties. On my right two men had their legs blown off; on my left men had arms and some had their heads blown off. To-day is the first day that I have had my boots off for about 16 day s, and as for sleep, we have had none, except with our eyes open.
Colonials At Work. — Business Acumen Of The Canadian Privets When Not Fighting. — London, April 21st, 1900. A despatch from Bloemfontein, commenting on the improvement in industrial prospects, which the System is likely to bring about, as fallows: — An instance of the business acumen of the colonial is the case of a Canadian private, who has a large interest in a soap business. During the present halt he has been pushing his wares with the same energy as he and his comrades rushed the trenches at Paardeberg.
Stories Of Canadians At The Front. — Shot — Didn’t Feel It. — One of the Canadian wounded, Private Angus McAuley, writing from Winberg Hospital, March 4th, says of the last fight: — All we had that morning was a drink of rum, went into the field at 8 a. m., and surrounded Cronje and his force. Then the bullets began to whiz. We crept for about a mile to get into the firing line, then sent volleys into the laager. You should have heard the women screaming. Of course the Boers take a lot of women along with them. They had no doctors with them, so they threw the wounded into the river. They hoisted the white flag a good many times and started to dig trenches at the same time, so Lord Roberts ordered the guns not to cease fire for the flag. It was then 4.45 and the Cornwalls were advancing. As they came up the word went along our lines to fix bayonets and charge. We all went and I had only run about 50 yards when down I came, with dozens falling around me. I didn’t feel the bullet going through. My leg just felt like a log. I stepped on it and down I fell. I lay there till dark when I was carried in. It took till 4 the next morning to get to the hospital. About 8 a.m. my leg was dressed.
Brave Stretcher-Bearers. — Corporal Cawdron, — of Hamilton, after describing the fight, relates the following incident of the battle: — The Cape Colony Volunteer stretcher-bearers deserve great praise for the way they worked with our wounded. Too much praise cannot be given them. One, a corporal, and Dick Thompson, of D Company, went 100 yards under fire for a poor fellow who was tossing about, but he died as they lifted him up. At 10 o’clock we marched on to the Boer laager and took possession of it, while prisoners were escorted along the other side of the river and looked like Coxey’s army, some with shawls, overcoats, umbrellas, etc. Of the congratulatory messages sent Corporal Cawdron says: — Sir Wilfrid Lauriers cable was read out in orders to-day, and Colonel Sherwood’s communication to members of the Forty-Third, and quite a few nice things were said by the Forty-Third as to the Colonel’s thoughtfulness.
188 Pte. Robert S. Robinson, Canadian Mounted Rifles ‘A’ Squadron 1st Batt. From Bloemfontein, Letter To Mr. Art Galoska, 27th, April, 1900: — Dear Art, — I received your letters and newspapers all OK and I assure you that the reading of them was the most pleasant pastime that I indulged in since leaving the Cape. I postponed writing until I had something interesting to write, but I must not delay longer as it is two weeks since receiving your first letter. I wrote Sandy Frazer a letter and mailed it before disembarking from the Milwaukee, and I got his about a week later. Well after nearly a month on the great ocean, you can imagine how glad I felt to be once more on land. On arriving at the Cape, we found Table Bay completely studded with transports and ships whose masts made the bay appear not unlike a thick forest. We stopped in Cape Town a short time during which we had the honor to be chosen to escort a large number of Boer prisoners to the transport which would carry them to St. Helena. B squadron left Cape Town a day before us, and C and D were already at the front. So A was alone since starting for Bloemfontein. Cape Town is a very clean and pretty city of one hundred thousand population. English money and language is used entirely. Our squadron took the train to Bethulie on the Orange River, and from there marched as an escort of a large transport of mules and goods to Bloemfontein. Our orders on march were to search all dwellings and shoot or take prisoners of all able-bodied men who carried arms or concealed ammunition, and those without papers or passes which allowed them to go home to their family or occupation.
I will give you a list of towns and sidings we pass so that you can map our route to the front. Cape Town, Stellenbosch on Durban Rd, Orange River in which I had a good swim, Bethulie, Springfontein, Karlsfontein, Jagersfontein, Krugers siding, Edenburg, Bethany, Kaffir River and Bloemfontein on April 22nd — so you were not far out in your guess. We have not joined our battalion as yet but I believe the whole of the colonial forces will be mobilized under one command, that of Lord Roberts, very shortly. Our squadron was inspected by the great “Bobs” yesterday and he told us in his speech after our marchpast, that he was proud to have the Canadians under his command. More countrymen of those whose distinguished conduct at Paredeburg and other places, could not have been better. Occasionally we can hear the boom of guns in the distance, and we hope to soon march forward with Lord Roberts’s command to forever crush the enemy of liberty and justice from South African soil. I hope to be able to meet your brother Jim, as I would like to know him. And no doubt, he would like to see someone from near his home. He has, no doubt, been under more fire than a veteran of many wars against uncivilized nations. I was shocked to hear of the club’s fire and it is a great pity our English four-oared shell was destroyed, as I don’t think its equal can be found in Canada. I am glad one of your banners was saved at least. It seems too bad that so little was saved. You might give me more particulars of any reorganization scheme afoot in your next letter. I see by the paper that the Ottawa men won most of the championships. Well I hope the Toronto crew got a fair show but I am a little skeptical in the case of Fred Russell. The mining news is very interesting and I expect to see a boom in prices that will eclipse all records.
405 Pte. W. H. Snyder, 1st BATT. C.M.R. ‘B’ Squadron, Green Point Camp, Cape Town, S. A., 1st, April , 1900: — My Dear Mr. Robinson: — It is rumored about camp that we are to leave for front on Thursday, so I am going to try and get off a letter to you, as it will be next to impossible the write from there. You doubtless know long ago that we arrived in Cape Town on March 21st, just exactly four weeks from the time we left Halifax. We met hardly any sailing craft while coming over, but once we entered Table Bay we found a perfect hive of steamers of all sizes – men of war transports. We heard of the capture of Cronje and of the relief of Ladysmith, shortly after our arrival, and cheer after cheer rent the air from six hundred of Canada’s sons. We did not know for a few hours about the gallant part our first Canadian Contingent had played in it, but when we did hear, cheer after cheer was given for our gallant comrades from the Land of the Maple Leaf.
I am wondering if you will be able to read this, for I am writing on the ground by the flickering candle. The camp where we are located along with the Regulars is about twenty minutes walk from the main part of the city. There are about 5000 men in camp. Last week we had our first experience of an African sand storm. The sand came down like hail stones, cutting one’s face and hands till it brought the blood. Our tent blew down and our horses got frightened and stampeded. Altogether it was quite an experience.
It seemed a great change to find when we arrived here that the trees were all leaved out and the weather like our summer. The winter or rainy season is about commencing. The houses are very pretty, with beautiful lawns and gardens attached. You will meet nearly all kinds of people in Cape Town. I was detailed, with about 150 more, to act escort to Boer prisoners yesterday. They were taken to St. Helena by the same boat that we came out in. There were about 400 of them. They took matters very philosophically and laughed and chatted. I was talking to one. He said the Boers didn’t blame Englishmen for fighting but thought that Canada had no business to get mixed up in it and that the Boers were laying for the Canadians particularly.
To-morrow we strike camp, just as if we were moving from place to place, and we have to hustle. The cars in Cape Town, both steam and electric, are different from ours. The electrics are double deckers; the upper passengers go by a winding staircase. The steam cars are lower than ours, with three compartments and the door opens on the side.
Every day pedlars bring apples, grapes, tomatoes, eggs, pomegranate and other fruits to sell. Grapes are sixpence a pound, apples one penny apiece, tomatoes sixpence a dozen. The apples are small and insignificant. Most of the vehicles are two wheeled and the mule is chiefly used. The natives get themselves up in very fantastic dresses. Tell the scholars if they take their geographies and look at that picture of Cape Town and Table Bay and Mountain they will see exactly where we are. We are nearly at the water’s edge, directly opposite Table Mountain. We are kept busy from 5 a.m., until night, continually on the go. We will be glad to get to the front. Two of our fellows have died since landing.
April 3rd. We go to the front to-morrow at 2 p.m. – to take part, if things turn out as anticipated, in what may be the deciding battle of the campaign. I am well and in the best of spirits, and will give a good account of my self. In haste, Your old School. Boy, W. H. Snyder.
Lieut. Harold L. Borden, CMR 1st Batt. ‘B’ Squadron 4th Troop — Major Harold L. Borden, formerly commanding officer of the King’s County Hussars, Kentville, N. S., who was killed in South Africa. The deceased officer left Canada as lieutenant of the fourth troop of B Squadron, Canadian Mounted Rifles, and previous to leaving was stationed in Quebec for a few days, having secured his discharger from B Field Battery, R.C.A. The young man was a particularly fine specimen of robust young Canadian manhood and had already won distinction by his bravery in swimming with some others the Sand River on the march from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg. He was only twenty-three years of age, stood six. feet three inches in his stockings and weighed 198 pounds. He was brought up in King’s County, Nova Scotia, and had studied at Mount Altison University in Sackville and later at McGill, in Montreal, where he was in his third year of medicine. In his despatch conveying the sad intelligence of the deaths of young Borden and Burch, Lord Roberts said: — “The two young Canadian officers were killed while gallantly leading their men in counter attack on enemy’s flank at critical juncture of assault upon our position. Lieutenant Borden had been twice before brought to my notice in despatches for gallant and intrepid conduct.”
Ottawa, 20th, July, 1900. — Hon. Joseph Chamberlain cables to Lord Minto to express to Dr. Borden his deep sympathy with him at the loss of his gallant son. The following cable was received addressed to the Minister of Militia: — Cape-Town, July 19th, 1900. — Hon. Mr. Borden, Minister of Militia, Deeply regret to inform you of the death of your son in action of Reitvler, 16th. Mrs. Borden and yourself have my sincerest sympathy at the sad loss of this gallant officer, whom I have twice had the honor to specially mention in despatches to the Commander-in-Chief for gallant and intrepid conduct. “HUTTON.”
The Premier’s Tribute. — Sir Wilfrid Laurier, in moving the adjournment of the House, referred to this sad event. He said: — This news I am sure has touched the heart of every member of this House. He was the only son of a prominent, old and popular member of this House. Whatever strife’s there may be I am sure that before such misfortune ail such have disappeared and on both sides of the House friend and foe will unite in offering to the bereaved father and bereaved mother that sympathy which will be their only consolation for such a loss on this side the grave.
Mr. Davin, on behalf of the Opposition, said: — I could wish, Sir, the leader of the Opposition were in his place in order that he might re-echo the sentiments so fittingly expressed by the Prime Minister. A great statesman, belonging to Athens said of a great man who died, ‘The whole earth seemed to be his mausoleum.’ I think it might be said of the humblest hero who fights now under modem conditions on the battle field that the whole earth seems to be his mausoleum, because the civilized world seems to be in evidence, watching what is going forward, and I am sure not a man in Canada but will have heard of the death of this young man, just twenty-three years, with the hopes of budding youth, with regret.
The Daily Telegraph unquestionably voices the unanimous sentiment of the Ancient Capital, when it extends to the Minister of Militia the most heartfelt commiseration. It deeply deplores the loss of the brave boy, who has fallen with his face to the foe and who has so patriotically given up his young life for the honor of his country’s flag.
Pro Patria. — “And how can man die better than fighting fearful odds; For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods.” — Gallant Borden! fit type of the band of brave and generous lads, who, with chivalrous hearts and unpolluted motives, went forth to die in their country’s cause! True apostles are ye all of freedom, and the equal rights of man — real missionaries of the gospel of democracy. No sham, garrulous sophists are ye, prating stale and windy platitudes of a liberty’ that enslaves; a ‘fraternity’ that matures the mind of Cain; and an ‘equality’ that widens more and more the social gulf that estranges man from a knowledge of his fellows. Noble boys, no enduring harm can come to a country with such a race of sons as you. Such men are not only their country’s shield against the aggressive arm of the alien; but its hope that everything is not quite encircled by the cold grasp of materialism; and that human beings exist who find something else to live for than the lust of gold. It is refreshing to hear the clatter of muskets as well as muckrakes. The example of our citizen soldiers inspires a hope that the reign of Mammon is not universal, and will not be eternal; that to heap up pelf is not the chief end of man; nor that its enjoyment, after the faculty for enjoyment is gone, will continue to be an everlasting sport and satire of the gods.
To the eye of the undiscerning, the whole world is prostrate before the golden calf. In act if not in speech, as plain as plain can be, the burden of the universal dedication is: ‘Gold, thou art my god; I will have no other gods before thee.’ In this melee of Mammon worship, how refreshing to discover that there is still a residue who have not bent the knee to the great metallic divinity whom the whole world doth worship. The example of our boys encourages the hope that society, like a spendthrift profligate, may yet return to some of its pristine virtues. Grant that it may so return, even if driven thither at the cost of chastisements and retribution, and sore visiting of Nemesis, which will make the ear tingle and the heart quake of him who hearth of them. Onward Christian soldiers I Spill your blood for your ideas. The precious drops thereof will, like the blood of the martyrs, become the seed of a regeneration that will redeem the effete morality of your time. Every drop will be ‘a stepping stone to higher things.’ Fear not; you will have your reward ; your names will be written in the book of the nation; and your deeds will live in the hearts of the best of your kind. Requiescat, gallant Borden; and rest also thy not less gallant comrades. Thou and they have been faithful unto death. Enter into the joy of the immortals. The laurel wreath will be kept green in our hearts, though its leaves wither on the graves of the veldt. “DOROTHY COUTTS.”
Gazette, 21st, July, 1900. — And now, let us kneel before the grave of Borden, Burch, Cotton, Arnold, Chalmers, Lord Roberts’ son, Count of Ava Dufferin, LaRue, Bradley, Thomas, Beattie, and ail those young heroes whose glorious blood moistened the roots of the victorious laurels in South Africa for the union, under the same crown, of England and Canada.
Lieut. John Edgar Burch, Attached For Special Duties, 1st Batt Canadian Mounted Rifles. — John Edgar Burch youngest son of Major F.O. Burch of the 2nd Dragoons, was born at St. Anns, Lincoln Co., Ont., February 8th, 1874. He attended Public School here; High School at Smithville, and also received some training in business principles in Hamilton Business College. When about eighteen years of age he enlisted with B Squadron of the 2nd Dragoons which drills annually at Niagara on-the-Lake. He from the first gave evidence of a military spirit. He attended Cavalry School one session as a Sergeant and three succeeding terms as a Lieutenant. Here he became very popular with the officers of Stanley Barracks, Toronto, and distinguished himself as a horseman, swords-man, and commanding officer. In the Dragoons he was considered one of the best officers of the regiment and from first Lieutenant of B Squadron was promoted to the Adjutancy of the regiment. When the Second Contingent was called for South Africa he volunteered his services; and was offered the position of Lieutenant in the Canadian Mounted Rifles which he promptly accepted. From the time that the Canadian Mounted Rifles landed in Africa they were in constant activity and Lieutenant Burch more than once showed himself a cool-headed, quick-witted and brave officer. His letters and the reports of those who fought and lived with him give sufficient evidence that he was a born soldier. On July 16th, 1900, Lieutenants Borden and Burch were sent to attack the Boers near Witpoort. Both officers led their men to within a few yards of the enemy but both met their deaths within a few minutes of each other. Lieutenant Burch’s last word was “advance” when an expanding bullet pierced his breast. He was twenty-six years of age. Lieutenant Burch has two brothers left in Canada, the one Captain Burch of 2nd Dragoons and the other Rev. A.L. Burch, B.A., of Knox College, Toronto.
Lieut. J.E. Burch, Canadian Mounted Rifles, Letter To His Father, dated 8th, May, 1900, South Africa. — The letter was read at the officers’ mess of the 2nd Dragoons and received with much interest. Dear father and mother: — We are now about 45 miles from Bloemfontein, and are fighting every inch of our advance. The Boers are strongly entrenched just in our front and a halt has been made for to-day to give our men and horses a rest. On the 3rd instant we ran up against the enemy entrenched on two kopjes on either side of a road which the transport must travel. I was sent forward with a troop belonging to A Squadron, Canadian Mounted Rifles, to draw their lire and determine their position. The Boers did not fire a shot until we were within 50 yards of them, and they were well concealed, then they let blaze at us. Just at that moment another troop on my left was compelled to retire leaving me under a cross fire. It did not take long to decide that it was best to get out of these close quarters. That was the first time any of us had been under fire, but the men conducted themselves wonderfully well. Our object had been attained and our cannon soon shelled the Boers from their position. It seemed remarkable that none of our troop was shot, although for about five minutes the bullets whizzed and whistled around us like hail stones. The next day we again met them in stronger force, but were compelled to stand fast for the day and wait for guns.
On the morning of the next day A Squadron, to which I am attached, made a reconnaissance and returned just in time to mix in the scrap of that day. That was the first time I smelled Boer shells and I prefer bullets every time, although bullets have been picked up which the Boers have dropped; some ‘dum-dums,’ and some poisoned. On Tuesday we marched and stopped at Winburg Road Station. Since last night the boys have been living well, as we are in advance of the regular line of transport, and the men are allowed to commander whatever they want to eat. The Y.M.C.A. representative and our chaplain do ail the swiping for the officers’ mess. My servant does not ride in the ranks and during the day uses his time foraging. Last night he came in with ail kinds of vegetables, and a bag of oranges and lemons.
The country is a marked improvement on Cape Colony. The land is fertile and here, perhaps, are some of the best grazing lands in the world. Cattle, sheep and horses are here by the hundred thousand. There are about 26,000 Boers just in front of us and we expect a scrap to-morrow. There will be some hard fighting before we arrive at Kroonstad, about 40 miles from here. Everyone has got as black as a negro and I seem the blackest. The lice too have found us out and have made interesting times for some of us. For two weeks we have had no tents and sleep on the open veldt. What is more we are not likely to have tents again soon. I have written this letter on my water bottle. The paper is too dirty for use but it is ail we have. I have just been called for duty and have no more time to write further. Good-bye. J. E. BURCH.
Mr. Richmond Smith, special correspondent of the “Star,” for mid May, 1900 as fallows: — “On they went, over ridges, through fields of mealies and ploughed ground galloped the cavalry, followed by the guns. It was a grand chase. Then as four butts or ridges were passed on a gallop, suddenly a pom-pom opened fire away to the left, then another and finally a third! Up over another grassy ridge at breakneck speed, and lo! the cause of the firing was apparent! Three or four thousand yards ahead, far below us was the Boer convoy crossing the spruit and slowly crawling up the opposite bank. The Royal Horse Artillery guns were quickly unlimbered and opened fire on the convoy. Shell after shell dropped among the waggons but still they trekked on. Suddenly there was a loud report and a shell dropped in the midst of our advancing cavalry. The enemy made a desperate attempt to protect their convoy but failed. Quick as lightning a gun was limbered up and galloped away out of our sight around the projecting kopje from which it came. A dozen wagons cut off from the rest left the road to escape our shell fire and trekked across the veldt. Two whole batteries were turned upon them and shells landed in half dozens at a time in front, behind and all about them. Our mounted infantry drove the enemy’s riflemen from the ridge overlooking and commanding the spruit and shell stormed convoy. The guns opened on our k ft away on the opposite side of the spruit, more mounted infantry with guns shelling the main convoy of the enemy as it trekked over the ridges beyond the drift. On galloped the guns in front! The tail of the convoy cannot escape us! Another hail of shells from a closer range and the wagons were deserted by their drivers as shells burst in a mass about them. They had stopped! They were ours. On galloped the cavalry across the drift and up the opposite slope. Galloping after, I found we had captured fifteen wagons loaded with all kinds of stores, and the whole of the enemy’s sick convoy of ambulances. It had been the most exciting chase imaginable, and differed from most fights inasmuch as the whole panorama was spread out before one. It was practically over, however, though the cavalry followed on for miles and succeeded in bringing back a couple more wagons unable to keep up with the Speedy trek of the Boer convoy! It bad been a great day! Seldom indeed is it that one gets a chance of seeing so pretty a fight.
As the sun peeped over the ridges in the east, the following morning, Monday, May 21st, the column moved out of bivouack at Karoo Spruit. Another hard day’s trekking without a fight of any kind brought us to Witpoort, about ten or twelve miles south of Helibron. Here the column bivouacked for the night. One could write for days on the humorous incidents of these awful days of hard trekking, for they have their humorous as well as their pathetic side. I had out spanned at Witpoort just before dark, tired out with a long and wearisome day in the saddle. A regiment of infantry crawled slowly up the incline to where my cart was. I was thinking in a tired sort of a way how much harder it was for the foot soldier with his awful burden of knapsack, belts, ammunition, pannikins and rifle to trudge wearily all day, than it was for one without belts and burdens to do the same distance in the saddle, when I was hailed in a cheerful manner. They were the Canadians! Tired, hungry, grimy and footsore, but still they were cheerful—facing the enemy on the battle-field was hard enough, but these weary marches from dawn till sunset were infinitely worse! How thin their ranks were! Scarce four hundred of the thousand who landed with me in Cape Town six weary months ago! Some had died like heroes, their faces to the foe, but by far the greater number had either passed away from fever, brought on by just such marches as the one we had done that day and the filthy water and insufficient food and clothing. Only the harder and more fortunate of the regiment had been able to endure the hardships of one of the most difficult campaigns any army has ever been called upon to endure. And yet they were cheerful. A cheerful voice asked permission to light his pipe at my fire. I looked up, wondering that any Tommy could be so cheerful after so hard a day! Never in my life did I see such a figure! Clad in thin khaki drill uniform, black and grimy and torn and tattered with much wear, stood a figure leaning heavily on his rifle. He had the usual compliment of belts, knapsack and ammunition belt, and in addition several tin cans tied to his belt, out of which were sticking ears of corn, or mealies as they are called here, carrots and beans. In one hand he carried a large pumpkin! Tied to his waist and cross belts was a motley collection of beet roots, squashes and other vegetables! He looked a veritable Father Christmas, and he must have been carrying close on to a hundred pounds with his belts and rifle. From his badge I saw at once that he was a Canadian! And he was cheerful! Asked if he was sick of the war, he replied that like everyone else he would be glad when it was over, but he quickly added: “I would not have missed the experience for all the money in the world.”
Letter from Pte Snyder, Guards Hospital, London, 15th, July, 1900: — Dear Mr. Robinson: — You know, no doubt, that I have been invalided to England with enteric and dysentery. For a few days after landing, I was quite “fit,” but to-day have had to re-enter hospital, very sick indeed, with dysentery and abscess of the liver. During the few days of my liberty I saw Her Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, at Buckingham Palace, also St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster, the Tower of London, Houses of Lords and Commons, War Office, Kensington Palace, Crystal Palace, British Museum, Madame Tussand’s Wax-works, etc. I have made the acquaintance of Mr. Murray, private Secretary to the Duke of Connaught. By his influence I was permitted to go into one of the Towers of Buckingham Palace, overlooking the grounds, where last Wednesday the Queen held a garden party. Glorious weather favored it, and afforded a grand opportunity for the display of exquisite toilettes, to which the beautiful garden of Buckingham Palace forms so fitting a background.
Long before Her Majesty’s appearance thousands of guests thronged the velvet lawns and shady alleys of the grounds, or floated in lazy enjoyment on the cool waters of the lake, in boats manned by the Queen’s bargemen wearing their picturesque scarlet coats and enormous black headgear, very much resembling a huntsman’s cap. Precisely at five the bands of the Royal Horse Guards, the Royal Artillery and the Irish Guards, which were stationed at different points in the gardens, struck up the National Anthem, and the Queen’s carriage, drawn by grey horses, made its appearance. I shall never forget my first impression of the Queen. She looks a good woman in every sense: – kind, motherly and sympathetic. With her was the Princess of Wales and her granddaughter. The Lord Chamberlain and Lord Steward walked on either side of the carriage which proceeded at a foot’s pace down the broad walk skirting the garden, between rows of guests standing ten deep to greet their royal hostess, who bowed and smiled. After driving twice around the grounds, during which the carriage was often stopped that her Majesty might speak to some of her more distinguished guests, the Queen entered the Royal pavilion, which was one mass of roses, orchids, lilies and ferns, and there received the diplomatic corps. Now, if I am fit, I shall have to return to South Africa on August 9th, but the doctor ridicules the idea. W.H. SNYDER.
Gaston P. Labat. — We shall also recall the death of the kindly Colonel Kennedy, of Winnipeg, who succumbed during the voyage, under the deadly influence of that terrible malady, even as did the regretted Captain Sutton, Sergeant Inglis, Private Deslauriers, and the half breed Henderson — all of whom found a last resting-place beneath the billows of the great ocean. And again, there are others: Lieutenant E. Carsley, who died in India; Reverend Mr. Leslie, a victim of Chinese barbarism; Major Boulanger and Alfred Bergevin, at present in China; James Welch, of Port Hope; Oscar Grégoire and Adjutor Vohl, of Québec, now in Manilla, and a great number of other Canadians of whom the press has largely spoken, and to whom references are still daily made.
Botha Evades Canadians: — Mounted Rifles Had Practically Surrounded Him. — Toronto, July 17th, 1900. A special cable despatch from Mr. John A. Ewan, to the Globe, dated Pretoria, June 13th, via London, July 16th, as fallows: — After marching through Pretoria the Canadian Mounted Rifles were selected to assist in the movement for rounding up General Botha’s force. We came up with the enemy soon after crossing Pinar River, on June nth, and immediately engaged under instructions to hold him there. The position occupied by the Boers was one of singular natural strength and the purpose was to cut off all their avenues of escape and compel them to surrender. The field in which the Canadian Rifles lay was very stony and the men built themselves shelters during the night so that on the following morning they were able to smoke their pipes and cook their meals in comparative comfort, while the enemy enveloped the position with shell and rifle fire. The programme of our lads was to hold their fire for the most part but occasionally give their antagonists a liberal dose of lead intimating that they were still on hand and proposed to stay and hold the position. During Monday and Tuesday, June 11th and 12th, the failure of General French’s ammunition waggons to come up caused serious inconvenience. When his artillery ceased operations on Monday night only 28 rounds of ammunition remained. It was thought that the waggons would come up during the night, but they did not. It was not deemed safe to use up the little remaining ammunition so not a shot was fired by our artillery until 4.30 in the afternoon. The absence of artillery fire naturally made the enemy bold and it was momentarily expected that they would attack our position. When the first boom of our guns was heard at 4.30 there was a general feeling of relief. During the night, however, the enemy had slipped away by the one uncovered avenue of escape. The only casualties among our men were Trooper Frost, of Calgary, mortally wounded, and Harry Baines, badly bruised by a flying stone. Captain McDonnell, D Squadron, was unfortunate enough to shoot himself with his own revolver by accidentally striking the hammer against a stone. The bullet entering his left side, passed through the liver. It was at first thought that the wound would prove fatal, but later accounts give good hopes of recovery. The Canadian Mounted Rifles acted magnificently during the two days’ fighting.
175 Pte. L.W.R. Mulloy, 1st Batt. Canadian Mounted Rifles, ‘A’ Squadron: — He was From Winchester, Ontario, had lost his sight and had to be guided through the streets by a comrade on each side of him. A mauser bullet passed through his head from temple to temple at Bronkhorst Spruit. Now he stood on the West Gallery overlooking the area crowded with mercantile men, and, when the cheering had 6ubsided, he said: — I am glad that I have the privilege of speaking to a portion of the people of our British Empire. I am not a regular soldier. A year ago I was a student studying in the University, and ought now to be in the University out there. But when Canada was called upon to send out men, she did not send her ‘corner boys,’ but the best she had to give. (Cheers.) I do not know how it came about, but I happened to be in that crowd (cheers), and I came because, like the cat, I could not stop away. (Cheers.) I could not attend to m y business. I have no regrets for the past, I think if a man decides that a course is right and has followed that course out he has no right to regret afterwards, whatever the consequences may be. (Cheers.) Of course, it looks rather unfortunate to see one’s hopes, aims, and aspirations all cut down at a swoop, sudden and irreparable, but there are conditions which alter circumstances to a certain extent, and I believe that the truly brave man and soldier will accept with manly fortitude the vicissitudes of fortune (cheers), and will not be over-whelmed by any circumstance, but will still, with a calm heart and serene mind, go bravely forward. (Loud cheers.) I thank you very much in the name of the Canadian soldiers for the reception you have given us. That is all I have to say. I will not take up your time any longer. I will now call for three cheers for the beloved Queen, whom we love quite as well as you do. (Loud and prolonged cheers.)’ As the men passed through the room, the cheering was maintained, and the merchants and others eagerly grasped their hands. The men had a like experience in the streets on the way to the ship.
413 Pte. B.R. Armstrong 1st Batt. Canadian Mounted Rifles, ‘B’ Squadron, A Wounded Warrior Lost His Leg: — minus a leg, hobbled on his crutches alongside his comrades, and the Queen immediately gave an order to have the wounded soldier presented later. The battalion formed in quarter-column and advanced towards the Royal carriage in review order. They swung up, a solid phalanx of strapping khaki-clad figures, with sun-tanned faces, crowned with a forest of glittering steel, and halted with the front company close to the carriage. A grand spectacle they presented, and seldom, if ever, has a more warlike body stood at attention before Royalty. Colonel Otter was presented, and commanded to dine, and the other officers were brought to Her Majesty’s notice. Her Majesty then addressed Colonel Otter as follows: — I am very glad to see you here to-day and to express my warm thanks for the admirable services rendered in the War by the Canadian Troops. I wish you ail a safe and happy return to your homes. Madam, ‘replied Colonel Otter,’ we are only too proud to fight for the flag under which we have been born, exist and hope to live.’ Corporal Armstrong next limped up to the carnage, and the Queen asked after his health. ‘I am quite well, madam,’ he said. Where did you lose your leg? inquired the Queen. At Olifanfontein, madam, replied the corporal, smiling with happiness at the situation. And where do you come from? continued her Majesty, tenderly. From St. John, New Brunswick, ‘he replied, then added,’ My father is Lieutenant-Colonel Armstrong in that town.’ You must be tired,’ said the Queen, sympathetically, and added a command that he might have a chair. Then, at the call of their gallant colonel of four Empire wars, the Canadians took off their helmets and ripped out three earsplitting salvoes of cheering, marched past the Queen again on their way out, dined in the riding school, saw the apartments, were photographed for the Royal album, and returned to Kensington Barracks from Windsor at three, radiant and happy with the special recognition which has distinctly been theirs.
188 Pte. Robert S. Robinson, Canadian Mounted Rifles 1st Batt. ‘A’ Squadron, From Bankfontein, Letter To Art Galoska: — 3rd August 1900. — Dear Art, I am just wondering how those predictions tallied that I made in my letter of July first regarding the regatta. I had five letters written on about July 9th. But I found when I took them from my pocket to mail, that I had lost two — one of which was for you, all sealed and addressed. I have not had the chance to write again until today. But if I can’t repay your letter through the mail, I can bring you a war souvenir from South Africa if I come through all right. I also lost one partly written for Bill Hedges, but I will write him today. I have some Boer arms and Kruger coins and pennies, which I may be able to bring back to Canada at some future time when the CMRifles go home. This seems very indefinite just now, as we are in much the same position as Moses when the light went out, as regards to the finish of the war. I am not giving you much description of our movements, as I expect you are sick of reading about the continual chase after the enemy, who must know their case is hopeless, but continue to fight and run. Our battalion doesn’t muster anything like one half of our original strength. Our squadron A only muster 50 men out of the150 that left Halifax; the balance are sick, wounded, and a few dead. And there were about 20 who joined the mounted police and the railway, which was voluntary to all colonials. The pay rate is at seventy shillings per week including rations and clothing — in fact, everything under the army system. You may think the pay large, but it is the regular wage in this country, which appears to be the finest money-making country in the world. The mines are nearly all working, and I believe the average wage is one pound per day.
The towns are small and have the appearance of having sprung up quickly. As regards to the country, it is a great pastureland with a few acres cultivated in the vicinity of the house. The land doesn’t require manuring and is easily worked. But the Dutch don’t cultivate the one one-hundredth part of their farm, being content with the fruit of the Kaffirs’ labour. These niggers don’t hurt themselves working. I expect they don’t do more than 3 months labour in a year. Their work is mostly driving the herds to the pasture and back. Most every Dutch farm has its Kaffir kraal or family of niggers on the farm who grow their own mealies.
Each Kaffir male is allowed two or three wives, and I don’t think the black population will run out for a year or two. They are not a fierce or wild race by any means; in fact, they appear to be the natural servant or slave of the whites who they look upon as a very superior being. And they seem to take pleasure in serving him. They haven’t adapted the custom of weaving clothing yet, with the exception of a blanket when the weather is cold. And when ‘old sol’ comes out strong, the family’s clothing could be put into a matchbox. Here and there, throughout the veldt, are villages of Kaffir kraals. These niggers live independently and own their own herds, etc. Almost every Dutch farm is deserted by the family, leaving all their stock, poultry, forage, furniture, and best of all, pigs, to take care of themselves. The army is allowed in written orders to commandeer all food or forage required from deserted farms, so that just at present, we are well-off as far as grub is concerned. You have read of our fight on the 16th of last month in which the Lieutenant of my troop, Mr. Birch, and Private Mulloy, a schoolteacher from Ottawa, also in 3rd troop, fell. And Lieut. Borden of B squadron and Private Brown of second troop A, were shot. Reveille was at half-past four in the morning, with march-off at six. We fed and saddled our horses, then had a quick breakfast and packed saddles. At six the column was moving; Colonel Lassond(?) in command of the Canadians. We soon got the order to escort a battery of artillery, and we moved off with the guns to the right.
It appears the Boers had driven in our outposts and were advancing in force to attack us. After riding a couple of hours, that old familiar boom was again heard to our front. They aimed a few fifteen-pound shells at us before we reached the shelter of a small rising of rocky ground ahead. One shell dropped between the first and second man on my left, throwing a complete cloud of dust which covered us from sight for a moment. And poor Mr. Birch said afterwards he thought he had lost a couple of his men that time. Our guns, the Royal Horse Artillery, were in action in a flash, and it was not long until the enemy ceased shelling us. The second battalion was then sent to the left with one troop of A, and the balance of the B squad were sent to support the Royal Irish Fusiliers who were being hard-pressed on a kopje to our right. We soon came under heavy rifle fire from a force of the enemy in a farm to the front. We dismounted, and going through the knick and around the front of the kopje, we had to face hot rifle fire. The Boers used explosive bullets mostly, and they were whistling and cracking like firecrackers in all directions. In a little while, Brown fell wounded through the chest. He may recover. Soon after, Lieut. Borden fell exclaiming, “I’m done for boys”, and expired. They were both behind me, a little higher up the kopje. The bullets must have gone over our heads (of third troop). Some Boers had advanced and were among the rocks at the foot of the kopje and were killed or taken prisoners. But not before Lieut. Birch of our troop was killed, and Mulloy fearfully wounded – the bullet entering the temple, tearing out one eye and part of his nose, and damaging the other eye. He may retain the sight of one eye, the doctor says, but is very doubtful. The Boer force on the farm retired, and our battalion received a letter from the commanding officer of the Royal Irish thanking us for saving them, etc. Our column has since moved to Middleberg without much resistance by the Boers, who I think have continued on to Laydenberg (??).
On account of being with the troop, it is almost impossible to write. Of course, those with the wagons and the hundred-and-one other jobs in the rear, have more time and opportunities to mail letters. There is a large number who never enter the hard fighting, but stay with the horseholders or in camp. And between you and me, there is a lot of shell fever or manseritus (??) especially among the non-coms from the RCD’s from Stanley barracks. In the fight on the kopje on the 16th, there was only one sergeant from the RCD’s, Sergeant Fuller. The other ten officers and Sergeants were either with the ammunition wagon, water cart, or with led horses. Most all the credit is done to the volunteers. I will have to write Sandy soon. I would like to know how the regatta came off, (I’ll bet there were two or three surprises), and how the club is doing. I hope Ernie Morissette’s(?) arm is all right again. I often think of what old Jack Clarke said to me about being foolish for volunteering — especially when I was seasick or when doing guard or outpost on a cold night. But it must agree with me, as I stand it all right and I weigh 165 lbs. — which is a lot more than I have ever done before. I am not sorry I came, but you can bet I’ll never do it again.
We don’t receive any papers now, and I’m sure a lot of our mail is lost and destroyed. Every man of the six that left Toronto for Montreal with me to make up the third troop of A, are still at the front. They have not missed a day. Out of 13 men from Ottawa in our troop, 6 have gone back sick; also 4 men from Montreal out of 5 went back sick. There is 1 man left to represent Peterborough district out of 8. All those men cut quite a figure with their braid and brass buttons and swords and spurs, while we 6 from Toronto were pure civilians, unattached. They were a nice lot of fellows alright, but they don’t cut any ice up here. I guess it’s too hot. How are all the boys doing? I can’t name them all. I would like to hear from them although I haven’t written them myself. How are all the old heads? I dreamed last night that I saw Mr. Meany, the ex-pres and I forget who the other man was, in South Africa working on the railway with greasy blue jeans on and bustling around as natural as life. But as dreams are contrary, I suppose they are doing well. Wherever the regatta was held I’ll bet the men did not enjoy themselves going and coming as they did to Brockville last year. I’ll leave it to the chairman. I haven’t come across the second Somersets yet. I can’t finish but I will write you again before leaving this camp as I think we will have to wait for remounts here…So good bye, Robert Ray Reg’l number 188 3rd troop A squad CMR.
Heroes In The Mounted Rifles. — Thrilling Story Of How Corporal Miles, Cpl. Morden And Trooper Kerr On Outpost Duty. — Held A Band Of Boers At Bay At An Important Point. Pretoria, 7th, August, 1900. — Our little camp, said Lieutenant Davidson, was situated about three miles north of Honingspruit Station and between two important bridges, which had to be guarded. The force consisted of a regiment of Imperial Yeomanry, two companies of the Shropshire Regiment, and troops one and four of D Squadron of Canadian Mounted Rifles. Our camp was on the west side of the railway, while three miles away to the east across the railway were two large kopjes, on the top of which we had two outposts. We had also an outpost north of the camp about two miles, and another south of the camp about the same distance away. At the time the attack was made the Canadians were doing the outpost duty. The order of the camp commandant was that ail these outposts should be manned during the daytime only. On the morning of the 22nd of June, I was returning from camp after having placed the north and south outposts. It was about 6 o’clock and just breaking dawn. Each of these outposts consisted of four men. Lieutenant Ingles left camp at the same time as I did to place the two eastern outposts on the top of the two high kopjes three miles east of the camp.
I had got within half a mile of the camp, after having placed the last of my two, the southern outposts, when a fusilade of musketry came from the top of the kopjes where Lieutenant Ingles had gone, about an hour before. I hurried back to the camp and found everything in confusion. The Boers had opened on us from the crest of both the kopjes in the east with two guns, and were landing shells in among the men who were at breakfast at the time. It did not take me long to realize what had happened. During the night the Boers had occupied the crests of the two kopjes where we were in the habit of placing our outposts during the day time, and had opened fire on Lieutenant Ingles and his eight men as soon as they reached the crest of the hills. Later 1 found out that Lieutenant Ingles and two men had been wounded and four men captured. From that time on we had a hard time of it. The Boers advanced upon the camp pouring in a hot fire and landing their shells with great precision. The infantry were extended in firing line and for a time managed to check the enemy’s advance. About noon the enemy made an effort to outflank us. A party of about 60 of them went round our right flank intending to attack the camp from the high ground in the rear. Had they been able to do this we would have been in an exceedingly awkward predicament, and the chances are ail of us would have been captured. In their advance around our flank, however, they encountered the southern outposts.
The Heroic Outpost. — When the Boers opened fire on them the four Canadians composing the outpost realized the importance of preventing the enemy from gaining the high ground to the rear of the camp. One of their number was immediately sent back to camp with the horses, and the other three quietly set to work to reply to the enemy’s fire. It was long odds, three men against sixty, but these Canadians from Pincher Creek were stout-hearted fellows who did not know the meaning of the word fear, and rattling good shots into the bargain. For eight hours they fought, the number of their opponents increasing as the hours went by until there were close to a 100 burghers pouring in a fusilade of rifle shots at the three men who held the crossing over the railway line. Shortly after noon Corporal Morden was seriously wounded with a bullet through the chest. He never gave up, however, but kept on firing until later on another mauser bullet crashed through his brain. About 2 o’clock another one of the little party, Trooper Kerr, was wounded. At that time the force consisted of two wounded men and Corporal Miles, who was in charge of the outpost. About half-past two Kerr was shot through the heart, and a little later Corporal Miles received a bullet wound in the shoulder. He did not give in though for ail that, but continued firing and used up the cartridges of his dead companion after his own had been exhausted. About 3 o’clock in the afternoon a train arrived at Honinspruit Station from the north and the Boers with-drew and attacked the train. The garrison, however, managed to keep them at bay until a train with troops arrived from Kroonstad, when the enemy, as usual, retired. Then it was that I had time to go back and see what had become of the little outpost on the railway line south of the camp, which I knew had been heavily engaged ail day. I found Corporal Miles lying behind a little mound of earth suffering from a severe wound in the shoulder, and a short distance from him the dead bodies of Corporal Morden and Trooper Kerr, both of whom had been first wounded and afterwards killed by second shots. Though serious, Miles’ wound was not by any means a fatal one, and he was at once taken to the hospital at Kroonstad, from where he was sent to Cape-Town later on. It is impossible to over estimate the importance of the gallant conduct of these three men. But for their splendid work our position would have been completely surrounded, and the chances are the whole garrison would either have been killed or captured…RICHMOND SMITH, Special correspondent of the Star in South Africa.
188 Pte. Robert S. Robinson, Canadian Mounted Rifles ‘A’ Squadron 1st Batt. From Wonderfontaine 14th September, 1900, to Art Galoska: — Dear Art, — At last we are having a good rest. After five months continually on the go we have been left to guard and patrol in the vicinity of Wonderfontaine and Belfast, the duty being very light and no night work, which is done by the infantry. We have been here for two weeks. One half of the squadron is at Belfast and the other half at Wonderfontaine. Our second battalion is holding a farm about seven or eight miles away to our left and our patrols connect with theirs. About a week ago the Boers attacked the second battalion but were repulsed, and since they have given no trouble in the vicinity. Of course we enjoy the rest, but it is very dull here and the time passes slowly. We have been nearly nine months in the service now and as Tommy says “We’re fed up on the job.” I continue to be in very good health. The weather is much warmer and very pleasant now in contrast to the cold months of July and August. The trees are in bloom and the grass fields are nearly all green again but I hope the rainy season which is expected shortly keeps off until the war is over, but I don’t suppose we will be home before next year.
How is everybody? Did Sandy and Bill Mathews or Joe Murphy row this year? Had the club any races or at-homes, etc.? How ever are Dave Burgess or Bobby Welsh? If it was not for homesickness I would stay in this country. A man could save easily fifty dollars per month at even labouring work such as mining etc. This is certainly a much better country than either Cape Colony or the Orange Free State. I have never come across the 2nd Somersets yet. I believe we were within a few miles of them at Belfast, but that was only for two days during the fighting and I don’t know where they are a present.
Wonderfontaine is the next station to Belfast and trainloads of goods and men are continually passing through to the front. It sounds pleasant to hear the noise from the engine as it shunts along. One can hardly believe the Boers are so close. I have had no mail from any source since I wrote you last but I expect it is detained for a while. How are stocks? Old Cariboo, Payne and Republic are still grinding out a dollar per month I see, which is good at the price. They beat the cheap ones all hollow. Well it looks as though I am going to come through the war all OK, and I am beginning to look forward to going home. As there is very little of interest to write of, you will please excuse this short letter…Yours truly, R. S. Robinson Wonderfontaine… P.S. Hang on to Minninnatsha. I once sold it as high as thirty and it is just as good today. If there is anything particular you want from South Africa let me know and I will bring it. R.
How Lieut. Chalmers Fell Gallant Canadian Died Leading His Men Out Of Tight Place. — Ottawa, December 17th, 1900. — Lieutenant-Colonel T. D. R. Evans, commanding the Canadian Mounted Rifles, sends the following report, dated at Belfast to the adjutant-general at Ottawa, of the death of Lieutenant Chalmers in action November 2nd: — On the 1st instant, at 7 p.m., a column under Major-General Smith-Dorrien marched from Belfast south towards Koomati Valley to co-operate with a similar column moving parallel and to the west. Rain was falling heavily, and the column halted at 12.30 a. m. until about 3.30 a. m. The advance guard on 2nd, instant consisted of sixty of my men under command of Major Saunders. The advanced party, 2nd, troop C Squadron, was commanded by Chalmers, and was accompanied by a guide who appears to have given them the wrong directions ; when the advanced party carne into touch with the enemy the main column had branched off to the right, and was nearly two miles away. About fifteen of the enemy were first seen emerging from a house in the valley, and thirty more came from a house about one mile west. These occupied a ridge to the west of our position. The advanced party moved up the slope to some trenches which had been constructed by the enemy. Other parties of the enemy now appeared from the east, and were engaged by the flankers of the support. Expecting early assistance from the main column, the advanced guard, although in a most dangerous position, held its place under severe rifle fire. At about 5 a. m. an order came from the G. O. C. to retire.
The retirement of the advanced party to the support was conducted by Lieutenant Chalmers in a most skilful manner under a very severe fire. During the further retirement which was carried out steadily by successive groups, Corporal Schell’s horse was killed and fell upon him, injuring his ankle. Sergeant Tryon gave him his horse, and Major Saunders, noticing Sergeant Tryon, dismounted, rode back to him and took him on his horse, and while rejoining the retiring line, the saddle turned and threw Major Saunders and Sergeant Tryon to the ground, the horse bolting. Major Saunders was slightly wounded in the left side, while taking cover, and, partially stunned by the fall from his horse. Lieutenant Chalmers then went to Major Saunders and endeavored to bring him back with him but was unable to do so. He then rejoined the firing and sent Private G. G. Smith back with a spare horse for Major Saunders, but the latter was unable to mount. Lieutenant Chalmers would not retire any further until he could bring Major Saunders with him, and while taking steps to secure men from the support to enable them to carry out this intention he was shot through the body and died a few minutes later. When Lieutenant Chalmers was shot he had just left good cover to warn an orderly who was coming towards him to dismount as it was too dangerous to come over the ridge mounted.’ Lieutenant-Colonel Evans pays high tribute to Lieutenant Chalmers’s excellent management of the troops in his last engagement, as well as to his splendid services throughout the campaign.
RETURN OF 2nd CONTINGENT. — From the Gazette, 9th, January, 1901. — When the booming of guns announced to those who had anxiously watched for some sign of the transport since Monday that the Roslyn Castle was sighted, the quarantine steamer and a tug raced down the harbor to meet her. On board the tug was a large party of ladies, some of whom were the wives of the returning officers. The moon was just rising, as the Roslyn Castte came within sight, and by its faint light the party on board the tug were enabled to see a flag flying at half-mast from the transport’s after peak. Long before the tug came within hailing distance of the steamer the doctor’s boat had reached it, and turned back to order the captain of the tug to put back to shore. The ladies on board piteously begged the doctor to tell them who was dead before they started back. On the doctor’s boat was the Reverend Father Sinnett, who gently broke the news to Mrs. Sutton, one of the ladies who made up the light hearted party aboard the tug, that her husband, Captain Sutton, had died two days before the transport reached port. She could not realize for a moment the full meaning of what she heard. When she did her grief was pitiful. Mrs. Sutton had been one of the gayest of the little party on board the tug and did not attempt to restrain the joy with which she looked forward to meeting her husband again. She had only been married eight years when her husband answered his country’s call to arms, and left her for South Africa. Some time ago Mrs. Sutton left for England, hoping to meet him on his arrived there, only to find that he was coming direct to Halifax, which she managed to reach just in time to welcome him.
The first boat to leave the transport was the Government tug Argus, bearing the remains of Captain Sutton. The remains were enclosed in a casket and the young wife, who had travelled eight thousand miles to welcome her husband, received his dead body at the landing stage. Captain Sutton contracted enteric fever in South Africa, but was apparently in fairly good health. Towards the latter part of the voyage, when cold weather was encountered he was taken with pneumonia, and, although every human effort was made to save him, he died on Saturday last. ‘The other officers’ wives on the tug that met the transport were Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Ogilvie, Mrs. Drury, Mrs. Eaton and Mrs. Randolph. The meetings with their husbands took place on the deck of the transport with great tears of joy. The death of Captain Sutton was not the only one. Two days out from St. Vincent, Sergeant Inglis died of enteric fever, and his body was consigned to the deep, one of the chaplains performing the last sad rites. His body was shot down a plank into the water.”
Captain Sutton was highly appreciated by his chiefs and his men, as a good soldier, hearthy comrade, and by society, for his noble and distinguished manners. He was at forty-nine engagements, and his last battle was with and for God, who gave him the reward promised to every good Christian.