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THE BOER REBELLION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 293, 15 March 1881
THE BOER REBELLION.
The Fight at Laingsnek. The Death of General Colley. Sympathy with the Boers. (Per Rotomahana at the Bluff. Natal, Feb. 7. At six in the morning of January 28, the order to advance was sounded. A mounted Squadron, composed of seventy men of the 60th, led up to the flat which lies in front of the “Neck,” followed by the Naval Brigade, with three rocket tubes, the 58th, and a body of artillery with two seven-pounders and four nine-pounders, mounted police bringing up the rear with the ambulances. The flat was reached without the enemy making any demonstration. The brigade with the rocket tubes then took up a position on the left front nearly facing the high road which runs through the “ Neck,” to the right two nine-pounders and seven-pounders unlimbered, and on the extreme right the other two nine-pounders. One company of Rifles (detachment of the 21st) and the Gatlings also left the camp, and at 9.55 the guns began shelling the “Neck.” By this time Boers had been seen on the top of the “ Neck,” but not a shot had been fired by them. Sir G. Colley commanded in person. He was aware of the strength of the enemy’s position, Majors Poole and Bukett having reconnoitred the place during the night. After three-quarters of an hour’s firing, during which the guns made excellent practice, it was thought practicable to carry the position 500 yards to the left of the Boers’ lines, at the point of the bayonet. Amounted Squadron was accordingly ordered to take the hill on the extreme right, and the 58th to carry the height. When the leading companies of the 58th got about half-way up the rise, the first troop of the mounted Squadron, led by Major Brownlow and Sergeant Major Limy, charged the kopje held by the enemy on our extreme right. The men rode close up to the place, but in about five seconds half the saddles were empty. As an instance of the valor shown by the mounted men, SergeantMajor Luny actually got into the trenches, but was there immediately shot dead, half a dozen rifles being fired at him, the Squadron retired after the first destructive volley, reformed, and a second time charged up the hill. Nothing, however, could live under the fire, and they fell back with seventeen men killed and wounded, and thirtytwo horses hors de combat. By the time the cavalry were in retreat, the 58th were attacking the hill. The first rush up the hill made the men blow hard, as the grass was long, and the previous day’s rain made a quick movement forward hard work. After two minutes’ rest they gained a slight ridge intervening between them and the position they were trying to reach, but before the be given to deploy to the right could be carried out, the moment the heads of our men were seen by the enemy over the ridge, and while they were somewhat crowded together, the front company received a terrific volley, the Boers enfilading them on the right flank. After about five minutes under this fire they returned as best they could. Colonel Deane called ‘‘ charge ” and immediately afterwards his horse was shot under him. He fell to the ground, but springing to his feet, reassured his men, calling out “I am all right.” The words were hardly out of his lips when he fell again, this time mortally wounded. When Colonel Deane called for a 'charge, Major Hingeston and other officers went well to the front, in order to encourage them for the desperate work before them. The Major was immediately shot down, and has since died. The Boers this time kept well within their entrenchments, and our men, lying on the ground, took a shot whenever an opponent was seen. When the British rose up to charge, the fire poured into them was described by everyone who came back as terrible to remember. Our men were actually within twenty yards of the trenches, and lying on the ground, kept up the fire. That of the Boers told with fearful effect, whilst ours was necessarily less destructive. Here Major Poole and Lieut. Dolphin were killed. Their bodies were found afterwards lying well in the front of their men. Captain Lovegrove was seriously wounded, and nearly all the non-commissioned officers were either killed or seriously wounded. Those who survived the fire say that in the Boer lines they saw colored men armed and fighting, but whether Hottentots or Kaffirs they cannot say. The only commissioned officers with the regiment who came out of it are Captain Lovegrove (wounded), Lieut. Jopp, Lieut. Bolton, the Hon. Monck, Acting-Adjutant O’Donnell (wounded), Morgan, Hill, Peel, Lacy, and Quarter-Master Wallace. Captain Hornby, of the 58th, who was in command of the mounted squadron, now commands the 58th.
Out of five staff officers only one (Major Essex) came out alive. He must bear a charmed life, being one of the survivors of Isandula. Returning to the details of the encounter, there is but one fact to add. When the 58th were compelled to retire, Lieut. Bailie, who carried the regimental colors, being mortally wounded, Lieut. Peel offered to assist him. “ Never mind me; save the colors, he said.” Peel, carrying the Queen’s colors, took both, but falling into a hole Sergt. Bridstock, thinking lie had been shot, took the colors and ran with them out of danger. Bailie’s body was recovered the following day, minus the boots, leggings, etc. This applies to the accoutrements of all the men, as the Dutch appropriated these articles. When the retreat commenced, the artillery began firing fast on the Boers, who now showed themselves and kept up a constant fusillade. The shells did good service, and kept the Boers from following the men, and but for the artillery, the loss of life on our side must have been greater than it was. The practice of the artillerywas really splendid. Upon reaching, the foot of the hill, the 58th Regiment refilled their pouches, and were prepared to make another attempt to storm the position, but they found that 73 had been killed and ioo wounded.; Having come up to the guns, the whole force then fell back towards .the- camp. A'flag of truce whs then sent foward td the enemy, and both parties engaged in 1
the work of burying the dead and removing the wounded. The offer of a surgeon to attend the wounded Boers was refused by them. They probably sent their wounded away, as waggons were seen later on Tuesday going in the direction of Wakkerstroom. London, Feb. 28. In the engagement 'at Spitzkoff General Colley was killed before the retreat of the British took place. His body has been recovered. In the United States and on the Continent a strong feeling of sympathy is expressed with the Boers, The Continental press .condemn the annexation of the Transvaal as arbitrary and uncalled for, and describe the Boers as a brave people fighting for their liberty.
THE BOER REBELLION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 293, 15 March 1881
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