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With the Boer Forces   By: (1872-1918)

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WITH THE BOER FORCES

BY

HOWARD C. HILLEGAS

AUTHOR OF "OOM PAUL'S PEOPLE," AND CORRESPONDENT OF "THE NEW YORK WORLD"

WITH TWENTY THREE ILLUSTRATIONS AND A PLAN

METHUEN & CO. 36 ESSEX STREET W.C. LONDON 1900

[Illustration: COMMANDANT GENERAL LOUIS BOTHA]

PREFACE

In the following pages I have endeavoured to present an accurate picture of the Boers in war time. My duties as a newspaper correspondent carried me to the Boer side, and herein I depict all that I saw. Some parts of my narrative may not be pleasing to the British reader; others may offend the sensibilities of the Boer sympathisers. I have written truthfully, but with a kindly spirit and with the intention of presenting an unbiased account of the struggle as it was unfolded to the view from the Boer side. I shall be criticised, no doubt, for extolling certain virtues of the Boers, but it must be noticed that their shortcomings are not neglected in these lines.

In referring to Boer deeds of bravery I do not mean to insinuate that all British soldiers were cowards any more than I mean to imply that all Boers were brave, but any man who has been with armies will acknowledge that bravery is not the exclusive property of the peoples of one nation. The Boers themselves had thousands of examples of the bravery of their opponents, and it was not an extraordinary matter to hear burghers express their admiration of deeds of valour by the soldiers of the Queen. The burghers, it may be added, were not bitter enemies of the British soldiers, and upon hundreds of occasions they displayed the most friendly feeling toward members of the Imperial forces. The Boer respected the British soldier's ability, but the same respect was not vouchsafed to the British officer, and it was not unreasonable that a burgher should form such an opinion of the leaders of his enemy, for the mistakes of many of the British officers were so frequent and costly that the most unmilitary man could easily discern them. On that account the Boers' respect for the British soldier was not without its mixture of pity.

There are those who will assert that there was no goodness in the Boers and that they conducted the war unfairly, but I shall make no attempt to deny any of the statements on those subjects. My sympathies were with the Boers, but they were not so strong that I should tell untruths in order to whiten the Boer character. There were thieves among them I had a horse and a pair of field glasses stolen from me on my first journey to the front but that does not prove that all the Boers were wicked. I spent many weeks with them, in their laagers, commandos, and homes, and I have none but the happiest recollections of my sojourn in the Boer country. The generals and burghers, from the late Commandant General Joubert to the veriest Takhaar, were extremely courteous and agreeable to me, and I have nothing but praise for their actions. In all my experiences with them I never saw one maltreat a prisoner or a wounded man, but, on the contrary, I observed many of their acts of kindness and mercy to their opponents.

I have sought to eliminate everything which might have had a bearing on the causes of the war, and in that I think I have succeeded. In my former book, dealing with the Boers in peaceful times, I gave my impressions of the political affairs of the country, and a closer study of the subject has not caused me to alter my opinions. Three years before the war began, I wrote what has been almost verified since

"The Boers will be able to resist and to prolong the campaign for perhaps eight months or a year, but they will finally be obliterated from among the nations of the earth. It will cost the British Empire much treasure and many lives, but it will satisfy those who caused it, the South African politicians and speculators."

The first part of the prediction has been realised, but at the present time there is no indication that the Boer nation will be extinguished so completely or so suddenly, unless the leaders of the burghers yield to their enemy's forces before all their powers and means of resistance have been exhausted... Continue reading book >>




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