28 OCTOBER 1899
The British ‘routed’ the Boers at Glencoe on Friday, the next day they ‘routed’ them at Elandslaagte, and then the ‘victors’ abandoned their camp and raced back to Ladysmith.
Is it not strange? The victorious army was in such a hurry, too, that it left its wounded behind it, including its general—Symons—to die a prisoner in the hands of the Boers.
It was a ‘strategic movement,’ and, we are told, the British military staff is full of admiration for the masterly manner in which it was executed. It is not the first time in their wars with the Boers that the British have executed ‘strategic movements to the rear.’
The ‘rout’ of the Boers was so complete at Glencoe that they had merely time left to capture their pursuers and send them on to Pretoria.
General White moved out from Ladysmith to meet his ‘strategic’ brother-general and ‘defeated’ the Free State Boers. From his position he observed the Boers ‘fleeing westward.’ Perhaps they were trekking towards Ireland. It cost him, he admits, 109 men to behold the sight.
We will get nothing but accounts of British victories and strategic movements in South Africa for some time. The cables are in the hands of the British, and they are working them for all they are worth. The Irishman who swallows the stuff printed morning after morning in the daily papers without several grains of salt is a very simple fellow.
Let me draw attention to this one little fact. On Sunday the Boers attacked Glencoe Camp for the second time. What really occurred there the British War Office did not divulge, but the next piece of information the public received was that General Yule was in full retreat. Verb. sap.
Colonel Baden-Powell claims to have blown up a number of ‘the enemy’ with dynamite. The news has brought joy to the British heart. If the gallant Colonel were an Irishman, and blew a brick out of one of the enemies’ buildings with dynamite, the enemy would clap him into one of its prison-hells and torture him into insanity—if it did not hang him.
Since General Viljoen was taken prisoner some of the Britishers have set up a shout for his execution. They hate Ben, but they dare not carry out their threat. The hatred of the English for the General is simply fanatical, and one of the main reasons for it is the gallant Krugersdorpman’s friendliness to Ireland and the Irish.
Three years ago Viljoen, at the request of the Irishmen of Johannesburg and Pretoria, tried to induce the Transvaal Government to establish a regular Irish corps. The Government was sympathetic, but it could not, without repealing the Grondwet, establish anything in the nature of a regular army. Then the General gave every assistance in forming the Pretoria Irish Volunteers.
In his two papers, the Krugersdorp Sentinel and De Voortrekker, Viljoen supported the Irish cause vigorously, not the Irish ‘cause’ of Home Rule or anything of that ilk, but the cause of Tone and Mitchel. No Irish National movement was ever initiated in the Transvaal that did not receive his warm and disinterested support. The General took a keen interest in Irish affairs at home and in America, and was, I am glad to say, a constant reader of THE UNITED IRISHMAN.
‘When you drive out the Rooineks,’ said I to him on one occasion, ‘what will you do next?’ ‘Do,’ said Ben, ‘why I’ll take a thousand of my Boers and go over to help you fellows in Ireland.’
Yes, the Britishers would like to hang the gallant General, but they dare not. May his wound soon heal, his imprisonment be short, and his eyes be gladdened with the sight of the blood-red flag he hates being trampled in the earth.