The Rebel Prisoners Were Sent Down To Cape
Town For Trial.
The movement was covered by the advance of a force
under Babington from Methuen's force.
This detachment, consisting
of the 9th and 12th Lancers, with some mounted infantry and G troop
of Horse Artillery, prevented any interference with Pilcher's force
from the north. It is worthy of record that though the two bodies
of troops were operating at a distance of thirty miles, they
succeeded in preserving a telephonic connection, seventeen minutes
being the average time taken over question and reply.
Encouraged by this small success, Methuen's cavalry on January 9th
made another raid over the Free State border, which is remarkable
for the fact that, save in the case of Colonel Plumer's Rhodesian
Force, it was the first time that the enemy's frontier had been
violated. The expedition under Babington consisted of the same
regiments and the same battery which had covered Pilcher's advance.
The line taken was a south-easterly one, so as to get far round the
left flank of the Boer position. With the aid of a party of the
Victorian Mounted Rifles a considerable tract of country was
overrun, and some farmhouses destroyed. The latter extreme measure
may have been taken as a warning to the Boers that such
depredations as they had carried out in parts of Natal could not
pass with impunity, but both the policy and the humanity of such a
course appear to be open to question, and there was some cause for
the remonstrance which President Kruger shortly after addressed to
us upon the subject.
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