He Was There As Adviser, But Cronje Was In Supreme
His dispositions had been both masterly and original.
the usual military practice in the defence of rivers, he had
concealed his men upon both banks, placing, as it is stated, those
in whose staunchness he had least confidence upon the British side
of the river, so that they could only retreat under the rifles of
their inexorable companions. The trenches had been so dug with such
a regard for the slopes of the ground that in some places a triple
line of fire was secured. His artillery, consisting of several
heavy pieces and a number of machine guns (including one of the
diabolical 'pompoms'), was cleverly placed upon the further side of
the stream, and was not only provided with shelter pits but had
rows of reserve pits, so that the guns could be readily shifted
when their range was found. Rows of trenches, a broadish river,
fresh rows of trenches, fortified houses, and a good artillery well
worked and well placed, it was a serious task which lay in front of
the gallant little army. The whole position covered between four
and five miles.
An obvious question must here occur to the mind of every
non-military reader - Why should this position be attacked at all?
Why should we not cross higher up where there were no such
formidable obstacles?' The answer, so far as one can answer it,
must be that so little was known of the dispositions of our enemy
that we were hopelessly involved in the action before we knew of
it, and that then it was more dangerous to extricate the army than
to push the attack.
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