The Great Boer War By Arthur Conan Doyle












 -  The
sight of those wide-flung lines of determined men galloping over
the plain seems to have been too much - Page 820
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The Sight Of Those Wide-Flung Lines Of Determined Men Galloping Over The Plain Seems To Have Been Too Much For The Nerves Of The Unseasoned Troopers.

A panic spread through their ranks, and in an instant they had turned their horses' heads and were thundering to their rear, leaving the two guns uncovered and streaming in wild confusion past the left flank of the jeering infantry who were lying round the wagons.

The limit of their flight seems to have been the wind of their horses, and most of them never drew rein until they had placed many miles between themselves and the comrades whom they had deserted. 'It was pitiable,' says an eye-witness, 'to see the grand old General begging them to stop, but they would not; a large body of them arrived in Kraaipan without firing a shot,' It was a South African 'Battle of the Spurs.'

By this defection of the greater portion of the force the handful of brave men who remained were left in a hopeless position. The two guns of the 38th battery were overwhelmed and ridden over by the Boer horsemen, every man being killed or wounded, including Lieutenant Nesham, who acted up to the highest traditions of his corps.

The battle, however, was not yet over. The infantry were few in number, but they were experienced troops, and they maintained the struggle for some hours in the face of overwhelming numbers. Two hundred of the Northumberland Fusiliers lay round the wagons and held the Boers off from their prey.

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