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8c ,k It I", AT SMITH FIELD.



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THE FIGHTING AT DUNDEE. The following letter has been received, says the 1 Times, from an officer who took part in the battle and retreat described: Ladysmith, October 28, 1899. I will give an outline of our doings since arrival in this country, and as much in detail as I can from the 20th. The Avoca arrived at Durban early on the morning of the 12th, and, after anchoring for a short time, steamed into harbour and tied up. We began to disembark at once, and got on very well. My company was on baggage fatigue in the ship. We left in three trains, the one I went in being the last, and starting at about 2.30 p.m. Just as we started the news arrived that war was declared. We passed through the town, which was in a state of wild enthu- siasm, and our men returned the cheers; indeed, although they were packed 60 in an open truck with- out any protection, and it poured with rain nearly the whole night, they never stopped cheering. At one small station some ladies bad come miles to get tea ready for us, which was very acceptable, as it was cold. We stopped at Pietermaritzburg for the men to get something to eat. and the officers had dinner. We got to Ladysmith on the morning of the 13th, and had a very cold reception, nearly all the troops having gone to meet the Boers, and the camp, which was some distance from the town, expected to- be attacked. We marched up to camp very disappointed at having missed a chance of meeting the enemy. We were broken up and sent away on picket duty at once, H Company being sent to hold the ration post, where we stopped till the regiment left for Dundee on the night of the 15th, again in open trucks. We got to Dundee very early on the 16th, but kept in the train till daylight, when we marchad up to the camp, which we pitched next to the Dublin Fusiliers. Nothing of importance happened till the 20t.h, though there were any amount of reports as to the Boer doings. On the morning of the 20th the troops had just fallen out from the usual parade before daylight, and the men were beginning to cook and do fatigues, &c., when the Boers began to shell the camp from Talana Hill; the other side of the town their fire was accurate, nearly every shell falling into the camp, but fortunately they did not burst, so the effect was local. The troops immediately fell in under arms, half Company, which was on fatigue in the Army Service Corps, having a narrow escape from a shell as they doubled back to the camp. From here I can only tell the part that Company took in the day's proceed- ings. We formed up by sections behind the tents so as not to give a target to the Boers, and doubled dowpi into a watercourse east of the Camp while our artillery replied to the Boers' fire. When the whole battalion was under cover in the watercourse we received orders for the attack, — Company being told off as a reserve to the firing line. The regiments were a good deal mixed up at first, but as we got on evert thing worked smoothly. We passed through the outskirts of the town. consisting of small houses made of corrugated iron surrounded by small gnidens with wire fences, which had to be cut, and eveiifuivlly found ourselves in rear of the left of the tiring line, lying down ou a grassy slope opposite Talana Hill. gonie of the GOth were behind us. We lay here some time under cover of ant, lulls so far as possible. The colonel then came up and told us to move to our right and get under cover of some buildings in an old brick- yard on the banks of a spruit with steep banks. Wo moved at. once, —Company under Captain—— also going with us. Ail this time there was a heavy nrtillerv and rille fire going on. Just as we got to the buildings Major Davison and some others were carried .in wounded. We had not been more than a few minutes at the building when we got orders to move down into the bed of the stream, which had a Tery steep bank on the nearest side of the enemy; we and several other companies.gqt under this bank, and the meii were ordered to take off their great-coats, which they were currying strapped on to their belts. All the(olllpanies in the river bed then advanced by half-comp'Wiies in extended order. We had to cross a perfectly flat grass plain about 800 yards to a wood, winch was already occupied by our men. — Company was on the left of,;this advance. The rifle fire got pretty warm as we got near the wood. There was a crowd lying in and behing a small ditch on our side of the wQod. From here we again advanced by half-companies through the wood, which* con*- sis.ted of scattered trees with little or no under- Krowth. We could only get on a short way at a time, as we were now pretty close to the; firing line, and the firing was heavy. We got an order to pro, tect, the left Hank of the advance, and to do this the whole company wheeled to the left and lay down under the remains of a stone wall and some big trees. The whole Wood was swept by rifle fire, hut I fortunately most, of it went over our heads. We slopped here some little time firing at. a ridge from which m'o»t. of the bullets seemed to come. We hud just bee A joined by a half-company of the IWlcs, when General Symons rode up and said he wished us to go further forward and not. bother about the flanlc. We accordingly pushed up to the further edge of the wood, stili working by halt-companies. We were now at the left corner of tiie wood nearest the enemy, who had got the range from this corner. A ravine ran almost directly towards, and p,-trtly, up,,ttie hill. A small party of the Dublins iverei.iitliisrariiie. -Cciii- pany doubled, or rather scrambled, down into, this ravine, one man at a time. So soon as a complete section was down they were led forward to the next cover, their place being taken by the n::Ù section. In this way I he company made their way about half-way Liptlie ravine but we could not get further—at least-, we could not do so without suijering.considerable. Further losses without gaining any adequate advanr tage. The Boers had got the range and to be seen was to be hit. There were a large propor- tion of casualties in this ravine. A stone wall ran across our front following the contour of the hill, and about., half-way up it this wall was connected with Smith's Farm, on our right, by another wall running up the face of the hill; the junction of these two walls was near the foot of the steepest part of the hill, which could only be climbed by armed men with considerable difficulty. Tha walls were both lined by our men, and it was up this very steep and diffi-. cult, hillside that the assault was made by the Rifles and Irish tftistliers, not Dublin Fusiliers. We saw the assault made it was just, to our right front, and I afterwards saw Sergeant Burns lying dead on the crest. Just behind him lay young Hill, and on his left. Doctor Duncan (who before going into action had expressed hi^( intention of getting a V.C. or dying). Behind these three and close to them lay; several other men. There is no doubt whatever that the honour of the assault lies with the 87th and E ifles, but the reporters got mixed with the two Irish Fusilier regiments. Connor, Pike, Carbery, and Wortham were all wounded in tho assault, but in the ravine 1 was partially stunned by a bullet striking close to my head. We also saw General,Symons wounded. I He rode with his Staff to the corner of the wood from which we had come, and was hit imme- diately, like everyone else. — Company now reinforced us under Captain -— doubling up one man at a time. Corporal Philips, of B Company, lay down, as he thought, under cover, but 'not so and drew a heavy fire we shouted to him to come on; he got up to run and was shot through the left thigh. Sergeants Cross and Richard- son helped, to drag him to a place of safety. Our own artillery now came into action against the part of the hill'opposite to us. Great relief for us, as the fire slackened, and we were able to send the wounded to the rear, of whom there were a good many. When our artillef-y stopped firing the whole line advanced up the hill; It was hard climbing. When we got to the top of the hill the Boers had gone and the place was covered with ammunition, rifles, wounded, saddlery, &,C. 'i So soon as we were formed ffpi the company was sent to search the battlefield for wounded men and arms. We could see the Boers making off in great disorder, alnd in large numbers all over the plain east of the hill. Our artillery did not fire on them —there was some nonsense about an armistice. It came ori to rain heavily about 3.30 p.m., and we had great difficulty in getting the dtad and wounded down the steep hillside. They were all taken to Smith's Farm. When we had done all we could we started' back and came over the ground we had fought over and through the wood, and stopped to 9 shoot a poor horse that had been badly wounded and to pick up our great coats, or what remained of them, and got back to camp a littie before 5.50 p.m., having had nothing to eat all day, and had been six hours under fire. It was a grand day for the regi- ment, as they did splendidly, though they have not as yet got the credit for it—at least, from the papers but it was a very saa usiy. x oor Ltonnor died during the night, anxious to the last to know if we had licked the Boers. To make a frontal attack against an almost in- accessible h'ill, 1000ft. high, is as hard a task as any infantry could be asked to perform. This is very roughly what happened on the 20th, as far as an individual who took a small part in it could be cer- tain about.i We had some food and turned in, little thinking what was in store for us. On the 21st we were under arms as usual in the morning about one p.m. we were ordered to move out of camp, not knowing in the least that we were leaving behind all we possessed in the world. We carried the men's dinner, which was just ready in the kettles, and marched about IW miles to a coal mine and grassy ridge. A terrific thunderstorm burst over us. wetting everything to the! akin. We were placed in position on the hill, and proceeded to make shelter trenches. Whilst doing so the Boers began to shell us at about 3000 yards; their fire Was accurate, but again their shells, fortunately for us, did hot burst. Oqr. men behaved splendidly, simjply. lyin^ in open u^der the,shell f fire. When it was quite dark I was sent with a party I back to the camp to get the men's greatcoats, and to I get money from the regimental safe. It was pitch dark and raining and muddy, and we got into an awful mess. During the night we moved to a hill more to the east and got into position. At day- break, after a very wet, uncomfortable night, we got news of the victory of Elandslaagte, and this did a lot of good, and the men cheered. The 22nd was a dull, wet day. We marched down towards Glencoe, the railway junction, in hopes of getting a position there from which to defend our camp and secure stores, &c., but the railway line was cut, and the Boers already in possession, so we marched back to our hill. The night of the 22nd we evacuated our hill, and started on the march for Ladysmith, marching all night. I had five prisoners in my charge. By morning we had got a considerable distance, and apparently the Boers had not found it out. We had some breakfast, during which the Boers tried to call us up with a helio, but we took no notice, and pushed on. It was not pleasant for anybody, but less than ever for a poor man to know we were leaving literally all our worldly possessions. We moved on, and halted for the night at the head of a pass; my company was out on picket. There was a cold wind, but fortun- ately no rain. About 11.30 p.m. we marched again, and got out of the pass by daylight into a wide valley the men were tired, but they marched well. We crossed a spruit called Waohbank, and halted; this was most fortunate, as a very heavy thunder- storm came on, and turned the little stream into a foaming torrent—quite impossible; we were only wet and cold that night. About four a.m. on the 25th we again started, and afterabout six miles crossed the Sunday's River and had some breakfast. A lot of Kaffirs came round the eamp very like Zulus. At two p.m. we pushed on. and halted again for the night, but we met a patrol of the 5th Lancers, who were received with cheers, and brought orders to move again, so we got ready and started at nightfall. All these marches were beau- tifully arranged, and carried out without a hitch. The night of the 25th was the worst I ever spent. It I began to rain as we moved off, and was so dark that the whole column had to hold on to one another to keep on the ruad at all; the roads were only beaten tracks, and soon became ankle deep in thick tenacious mud. We struggled on all the night, and at daybreak we were about ten miles from Lady- smith., 1 i is not possible to describe the state of the regiment; most men had fallen in the mud, at least once during the niirht. A force had been sent out to meet us, and the Manchester Regiment gave us food, which was most welcome. After a short rest we reached Ladysmith. This march was a retreat, but it was not the troops' fault; they were in an unten- able position, -and throughout the operation was perfectly conducted. The men could not have behaved better, and it must be remembered that we were being followed, and liable to an attack at any moment,, and I do not think we ever got more than two hours' rest at a time.









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