Manual Charge!: A Story of Briton and Boer

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Once an excellent major, General Buller had been promoted far beyond his abilities. He had also been away from the action, having not commanded any troops between and He was put in charge of the British expeditionary force to put down the Boers. With little grasp of his mission, Buller failed to direct the officers beneath him, even promoting the terrible General Warren. There he failed to identify where the Boer troops were, despite hurling artillery shells against the hillsides to try to drive them out.

In this action, some field guns were abandoned. Becoming obsessed with retrieving a set of field guns, Buller lost track of the big picture. By the time he gave in and retreated at eleven in the morning he had lost 1, men, compared with around 40 casualties on the Boer side. Taking 2, men on a hard night march, he failed to bring the one man who knew the terrain, leading his troops to become hopelessly lost.

At dawn, Boer soldiers found themselves looking down a sheer cliff face at the lost British below. They opened fire, and those British soldiers brave enough to try climbing the rock face soon found it impossible. As his men fled, Gatacre ordered a retreat that descended into chaos. Surrounded by the Boers, these men surrendered, while Gatacre ran off to lick his wounds.

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Approaching a hill near Magersfontein, Lord Methuen concluded that it was defended by Boers and took the sensible decision to bombard it before advancing. Unfortunately, he failed to find out where the Boers were before putting his artillery into action. A rain of shells fell on the top of the hill while the Boers sat safely dug in in trenches at the bottom. Believing he had shaken the defenders, Methuen ordered an advance by the Black Watch through a moonless night of pouring rain.

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As dawn broke, the soaked Scots found themselves marching in close formation towards the bottom of the hill. From yards away the Boers opened fire.

The 6 Commanders Whose Incompetence Almost Lost Britain the Second Boer War

Most of the Highlanders leapt for the inadequate cover of bushes and anthills. The heat of the African sun and the bites of the insects added to their misery as they lay trapped. When the Light Infantry panicked and ran many of them were shot down from behind. All required fields must be filled out for us to be able to process your form. We help people distribute information and art spanning a wide range of subject matter while providing a safe, friendly, respectful, and serious site for all content creators.

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    2. General William “Backacher” Gatacre

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