As Barton Had Now
More Than A Thousand Mounted Men Of Most Excellent Quality It Is
Difficult To Imagine Why He Did Not Pursue His Defeated Enemy.
seems to have underrated the effect which he had produced, for
instead of instantly assuming the offensive he busied himself in
strengthening his defences.
Yet the British losses in the whole
operations had not exceeded one hundred, so that there does not
appear to have been any reason why the force should be crippled. As
Barton was in direct and constant telegraphic communication with
Pretoria, it is possible that he was acting under superior orders
in the course which he adopted.
It was not destined, however, that De Wet should be allowed to
escape with his usual impunity. On the 27th, two days after his
retreat from Frederickstad he was overtaken - stumbled upon by pure
chance apparently - by the mounted infantry and cavalry of Charles
Knox and De Lisle. The Boers, a great disorganised cloud of
horsemen, swept swiftly along the northern bank of the Vaal,
seeking for a place to cross, while the British rode furiously
after them, spraying them with shrapnel at every opportunity.
Darkness and a violent storm gave De Wet his opportunity to cross,
but the closeness of the pursuit compelled him to abandon two of
his guns, one of them a Krupp and the other one of the British
twelve-pounders of Sanna's Post, which, to the delight of the
gunners, was regained by that very U battery to which it belonged.
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