The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

More After Christmas stuff

On December 26th, My son and I headed to Tennessee to visit my mom and pops near Sevierville,  I have been away from work for a week as a chemtrail technician and we have spent the week traveling.  Last week down in Florida, I was hoping to make a run to Pensacola to visit the museum where I can see the storied history of Navy Aviation and Old NFO. who have been in service together for a mighty looong time....and they let you touch the airplanes...Did I say that they let you touch the airplanes......?

We had picked up a little souvenir for my Brother, he and my sister in law are consummate pranksters and it always is good to see them.   The Flamingo just screamed Florida Christmas to me so we got it.
     We were down there and just before we left, I placed the gaudy flamingo in their immaculate rock garden.
My SIL embraced the tackiness, like I said, they are good people and have a warped sense of humor
Well anyway, we returned home Christmas Eve, had family come over from the Spousal units side of the family and on Christmas day we did the stuff I blogged about.  Then the day after Christmas, My son and I headed to Tennessee..While we were there, I visited my favorite place up there, the Smokey Mountain Knife works.  I wanted to pick up a couple of blades for work and I like browsing.  I did pick up a patch for Mack, since he is starting at a new place, and I figured he needed to be up to speed with the all the new tacticool gear so I got him a patch so he would blend in with the rest of the staff.
Mack's new patch

Man we are tired, a lot of traveling.  I am looking forward to work just to catch my breath.
Why they call it the "Smokey Mountains"
We drove back and it seemed that we spent a lot of time in the truck, My son learned a lot of patience and well how can I say ahh unique driving patterns driving during rush hours in Atlanta....I kept having flashbacks to driving in the Middle East.  Well we got home and this morning we had to go to visit my buddy Mack to pick up my new rifle.   
The Rifle on my chair.
 .357 caliber or .38 SPL
Henry Repeating Arms
.And the 
following quote from the company website.
"Back when the West was still wild and the rifle was the tool of choice for survival and frontier justice, the venerable .44-caliber put more meat on the table and outlaws in the ground than any other bullet.
The West may have been tamed and fenced long ago, but its unbridled spirit lives on in this line of traditional big-bore Henry rifles.
Choose from .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, and .327 Federal Magnum. All are SASS approved so Cowboy Action shooters who enjoy stepping back to that bygone era can use them in competition.
Don’t let the retro look fool you, these rifles are much more than shootin’ irons for today’s new breed of cowboy.
They’re also the unbeatable choice of big-game hunters who prefer the traditional look, feel, reliability and accuracy that comes from an authentic Henry rifle.
The traditional 20″ octagonal barrel is outfitted with a classic fully adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight with a reversible white diamond insert and a brass beaded front sight. The tubular magazine tops off at 10 rounds.
Both the straight-grip stock and forearm are crafted of select American walnut accented with a brass barrel band and Henry’s recognizable brass receiver. All have that crisp, smooth action that sets an authentic American-made Henry apart from other lever action rifles on the range and in the woods today.
The .44 Magnum rifle can shoot .44 special rounds, the .357 Magnum rifle can shoot .38 special rounds, and the .327 Federal Magnum rifle can also shoot .32 H&R."

    I picked up the rifle from Mack's Place and presented him with the new patch to start his new "tacticool" uniform at his soon to be new place of employment at the big city gun store, range and emporium.
He looks totally thrilled, LOL

We got ready to head out and I asked him if he was cool with a pic with my son and Mack said "Sure!", 
Harry and Mack
Just for funsies I decided to pull up a couple more pics of Harry and Mack...
 Harry and Mack on his last day as a "Professional Scouter"
and finally this pic...
Harry at the end and Mack at an "Order of the Arrow Function".a couple of years earlier..I kinda feel bad for Mack, he has had to put up with me for a long time...well actually I don't feel bad.

   We got home and since the day was much nicer than expected, Harry and I took the Outside Christmas decorations down and since the day was still nice, I took a quick motorcycle ride

   I enjoyed the time off, but I am ready to go to work, for no other reason than to get a break.

   I am totally looking forward to going to the range and shooting the rifle :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas and the Aftermath..

Well I was very busy visiting family this past week so blogging was light.  I for the first time in many years actually had Christmas day and Christmas eve off.  Normally as a chemtrail technician my schedule is set by the needs of my employer so I normally have to work.  Well this week the planets and stars lined up so I had a while week off and we traveled all over the place visiting family and my son and I are going to Tennessee to visit my mom again.

   Well this is my truck...
For Christmas my wife got me an accessory for my truck.
 I wasn't expecting it, so I was really surprised, and my son was really excited since he was the one that suggested the accessory.  Well we had a couple of hours to fill after coming back from "Waffle House" for Brunch, that my son suggested that we try to install it.   The Spousal unit wanted to go to the 4:50 movie, so  I was "Sure" we can try it.  So my son did most of the work with my talking him through it.  He was really excited about it, my brother has given him a tool set from "Husky" and a really cool wooden box that my brother and sister-in-law made for him.  We were using his tools mostly and he really enjoyed the experience.

 My Son was under the truck putting on the brackets and I was prepping the "Bull bar" on the table.  We had the truck on some ramps and my son really enjoyed using the creeper to zip from one end to the other.

The Truck looks different with the bull bar on the truck.  The Truck as seen a lot of love the past month.
     We then went to the movies and watch "Wreck it Ralph-Ralph Wrecks the internet.".  It is a cartoon and we have a tradition that we go to the movies on Christmas. and I happen to like cartoons..
My son and I will be headed to Tennessee in the morning and stopping at "Waffle House" on the way...of course.
    I was sending "Merry Christmas" Texts to many people and I kept getting the word "Garand" in my word selection....I wonder if Baby Jesus is telling me something...

Monday, December 24, 2018

Monday Music "Little Drummer Boy" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie

 I give Christmas Greetings to all my friends all over the world, May the joy of the season bring hope to your heart and a kindness to your soul for this is the reason for the season.  Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Well I figured I would run out a Christmas song for Monday Music and I always liked "little Drummer Boy with David Bowie and Bing Crosby.  To me this song plays well with their own music strength and is one of the best known and unusual duets in Music history...Think about it  Bing Crosby, the classic crooner and Ziggie Stardust.   Whodda thunk it?   But they played well together and  created in instant classic.  This song and one other are my favorite Christmas Songs.

"Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" (sometimes titled "The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth") is a Christmas song with an added counterpoint performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. "Little Drummer Boy" is a Christmas song written in 1941, while the "Peace on Earth" tune and lyrics, written by Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman, and Alan Kohan, were added to the song specially for Bowie and Crosby's recording.

The track was recorded on September 11, 1977 for Crosby's then-upcoming television special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas. The pair exchanged scripted dialogue about what they each do for their family Christmases, before singing "Little Drummer Boy" with a new counterpoint with original lyrics written for the special, "Peace on Earth".
Bowie's appearance has been described as a "surreal" event, undertaken at a time that he was "actively trying to normalise his career" He has since recalled that he only appeared on the show because "I just knew my mother liked him" Buz Kohan was not sure that Crosby knew who Bowie was, but Ian Fraser claimed, "I'm pretty sure he did. Bing was no idiot. If he didn't, his kids sure did."
According to co-writer Ian Fraser, Bowie balked at singing "Little Drummer Boy": "I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?", Fraser recalls Bowie telling him. Fraser, along with songwriter Larry Grossman and the special's scriptwriter, Buz Kohan, then wrote "Peace on Earth" as a counterpoint to "Little Drummer Boy". Crosby performed "Little Drummer Boy", while Bowie sang the new tune "Peace on Earth", which they reportedly performed after less than an hour of rehearsal.
Crosby died on October 14, nearly five weeks after recording the special at Elstree Studios near London; in the U.S., the show aired just over a month later, on November 30, 1977, on CBS. In the United Kingdom, the special first aired on December 24, 1977 on ITV.
The song was available for some years as a bootleg single backed with "Heroes", which Bowie had also performed on the TV special. In 1982, RCA issued the recording as an official single, complete with the dialogue, arbitrarily placing "Fantastic Voyage" from the Lodger album on the B-side. Bowie was unhappy with this move, which further soured his already strained relationship with RCA, and he left the label soon after. The single debuted on the UK singles chart in November 1982, and climbed to position number three on the chart, boosted by a 12" picture disc release. It has since become a perennial on British Christmas compilation albums, with the TV sequence also a regular on UK nostalgia shows.
In the United States, "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" became a staple on radio stations during the Christmas season.
On November 9, 2010, Collector's Choice Music released a 7-inch vinyl edition of "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" on red-colored vinyl in the United States. The flip-side of the single contained a Bing Crosby/Ella Fitzgerald duet of the song "White Christmas", recorded in 1953. The single was limited to 2,000 copies.

And my other favorite Christmas song is "Do they know it is Christmas" 

I decided to go with one of my favorite songs for Christmas for my Monday Music posting.  I decided to go with "Band-Aid"  Do they know it is Christmas?.  I remembered doing an posting last year on this so it is a duplicate post.  I don't normally do a music repeat except for this song and the Little Drummer boy.  I was in High School in my senior year and this was all over MTV and the news back then.  It was a totally new idea to do a charity this way.  I believe in giving...as long as it is people doing it...It is proper..and a Christian thing to do.  Not government  which I consider it wealth transference and it is wrong. for the force of government is used to take money by force from people to give to other people in the name of "giving". I call it "legal theft".  Giving is supposed to be voluntary, that is the nature and the magic of it.

The original 1984 Feed the world logo was designed by Phil Smee of Waldo's Design, who designed all the Ads prior to the event being announced. Geldof was so moved by the plight of starving children that he decided to try to raise money using his contacts in pop music. Geldof enlisted the help of Midge Ure, from the group Ultravox, to help produce a charity record. Ure took Geldof's lyrics, and created the melody and backing track for the record. Geldof called many of the most popular British and Irish performers of the time (Kool & The Gang and Jody Watley were the only Americans present at the original recording), persuading them to give their time free. His one criterion for selection was how famous they were, in order to maximise sales of the record. He then kept an appointment to appear on a show on BBC Radio 1, with Richard Skinner, but instead of promoting the new Boomtown Rats material as planned, he announced the plan for Band Aid. The recording studio gave Band Aid no more than 24 free hours to record and mix the record, on 25 November 1984. The recording took place at SARM Studios in Notting Hill between 11am and 7pm, and was filmed by director Nigel Dick to be released as the pop video though some basic tracks had been recorded the day before at Midge Ure's home studio. The first tracks to be recorded were the group / choir choruses which were filmed by the international press. The footage was rushed to newsrooms where it aired while the remainder of the recording process continued. Later, drums by Phil Collins were recorded. The introduction of the song features a slowed down sample from a Tears for Fears' track called "The Hurting", released in 1983. Tony Hadley, of Spandau Ballet, was the first to record his vocal, while a section sung by Status Quo was deemed unusable, and replaced with section comprising Paul Weller, Sting, and Glenn Gregory, from Heaven 17. Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran sang between contributions from George Michael and Sting. Paul Young has since admitted, in a documentary, that he knew his opening lines were written for David Bowie, who was not able to make the recording but made a contribution to the B-side (Bowie performed his lines at the Live Aid concert the following year). Boy George arrived last at 6pm, after Geldof woke him up by 'phone to have him flown over from New York on Concorde to record his solo part. (At the time, Culture Club was in the middle of a US tour.)
Feed The World logo designed by Markus Newman
The following morning, Geldof appeared on the Radio 1 breakfast show with Mike Read, to promote the record further and promise that every penny would go to the cause. This led to a stand-off with the British Government, who refused to waive the VAT on the sales of the single. Geldof made the headlines by publicly standing up to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and, sensing the strength of public feeling, the government backed down and donated the tax back to the charity.
The record was released on November 29, 1984, and went straight to No. 1 in the UK singles chart, outselling all the other records in the chart put together. It became the fastest- selling single of all time in the UK, selling a million copies in the first week alone. It stayed at No. 1 for five weeks, selling over three million copies and becoming easily the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK, thus beating the seven-year record held by Mull of Kintyre. It has since been surpassed by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" (his tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales) but it is likely to keep selling in different versions for many years to come. In 1986 the original music video from "Do They Know It's Christmas?" received Band Aid a Grammy Award nomination for Best Music Video, Short Form.
After Live Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was re-released in late 1985 in a set that included a special-edition 'picture disc' version, modelled after the Live Aid logo with 'Band' in place of 'Live'. An added bonus, "One Year On" (a statement from Geldof and Ure on the telephone) was available as a b-side. "One Year On" can also be found in transcript form in a booklet which was included in the DVD set of Live Aid, the first disc of which features the BBC news report, as well as the Band Aid video.


The original Band Aid ensemble consisted of (in sleeve order):
Also including:

Thursday, December 20, 2018

What the Boy Scouts got right.

I saw this article that was linked from a friend of mine in scouting that moved to California and helped start the new Boy Scout reservation.  This was linked from her facebook and it was a really good article about the issues with the possible bankruptcy of the Boy Scouts of America.  I agree with this person. The abuse happened long ago and now they are wanting to go after the organization.  Granted abuse of kids are not cool, I don't mean to sound mean, but what is powering this is pure vengeance and lawyers that want to notch a win by destroying an organization especially an organization that is responsible for instilling morals to a new generation. 

Opinion: What the Boy Scouts get right

A recent column of mine on the troubles besetting the Boy Scouts of America occasioned a considerable and thoughtful correspondence. A quick recap: Last week brought news that the Scouts are considering bankruptcy as they deal with lawsuits concerning alleged child abuse in the organization’s past. In my column, I argued that although the group should pay for wrongs that have happened on its watch, we shouldn’t let it die.
The concerned responses flooded in; and I am grateful for them.
Some correspondents asked me to make clear that the Boy Scouts of America is a legally separate entity from the individual troops that children join, most of which seem to be doing just fine. This is a clarification I am happy to make.
Others who got in touch hoped I might clarify that the allegations deal almost entirely with episodes several decades old. The possibility of bankruptcy arises largely because a number of states have changed their laws (or are considering doing so) to allow suits for abuse that previously would have been barred by the statute of limitations. A bankruptcy would allow a court to craft a way to pay out claims in an orderly manner.
But in the face of blaring headlines, perhaps the most important point to add is that the Boy Scouts some 30 years ago adopted rules that were intended to avoid any recurrence of the horrific episodes from decades ago - rules so well designed that other organizations have started to implement them.
The rules follow from the well-understood proposition that sexual abuse of children is a crime of opportunity. Key to the opportunity is privacy. Abuse usually takes place when a child is alone with an adult the child trusts. Given that scoutmasters, like others who work with kids, need the trust of those they teach, any practical solution must therefore eliminate the privacy.
Under principles adopted in 1988 and since updated, the basic rule is this: No adult should ever be alone with any child. Period. A child may meet with two adults or an adult may meet with two children, but nothing is one-on-one. If for some reason an adult leader must talk to a child out of the hearing of others, the conversation must nevertheless take place within view of others. Should an adult leader need to see a Scout outside of scouting activities, the same guidelines apply. If an adult talks to a Scout by telephone, another adult must listen in. Similar rules apply to email and other forms of digital communication.
Scouts and their parents are informed about the rules, so that they know when an adult volunteer is breaking them. During my time as a scoutmaster, we took the principles seriously indeed. Pretty much all Scoutmasters do. Indeed, it’s worth noting that the great majority of the charges of abuse against the Scouts took place before the guidelines were fully implemented. The organization may have allowed horrors to happen on its watch in the past, but deserves credit for doing its best over the last three decades to ensure that they won’t happen again.
My point has nothing to do with who should win any particular lawsuit. Nobody, I trust, is for letting child abusers or their protectors escape punishment. But let’s consider a simple comparison. There’s much talk about how unfair it is for the Scouts to “hide behind” the statute of limitations. Fair enough. Still, here the Scouts are hardly alone. For instance, try suing a school district where a child has been abused. Some states use sovereign immunity to restrict lawsuits against their schools. Others require plaintiffs to show recklessness rather than mere negligence in managing school personnel. And many cap the damages a jury can award against school districts.
We don’t know how many kids are sexually abused in public schools because there are few record-keeping requirements. An investigation by the Associated Press in 2017 found 17,000 reports over a four-year period, but conceded that it was only scratching the surface. A 2016 USA Today investigation discovered case after case in which school districts concealed abuse of children and even hired those who had abused elsewhere.
And yet we don’t condemn the schools wholesale, because we know that the children who attend them are overwhelmingly safe from abuse. The abusers are no more than a tiny fraction - by most estimates, well under 1 percent. Nearly all teachers are decent and caring individuals who would never dream of harming a child.
Let’s not forget, in our rush to judgment, that the same is true of the adults involved in scouting.
Steohen Carter is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Yale University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. His novels include “The Emperor of Ocean Park,” and his latest nonfiction book is “Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ethic Struggle for the leaders...

I have been super busy, I wanted to post something last night but after the 15 hour day I had, I wasn't feeling it at all.

This is from the Angry Staff Officer,  Ethics is a big thing, Old NFO has talked in the past about the Admirals in the Pacific that got wrapped up with the "Fixer" in the pacific for the fleet deployment schedules so the fixer can get the contracts to resupply the ships and make arrangements for shore leave for the crew at inflated prices and the people in charge were perfectly fine letting Uncle Sam and the crews get gouged as long as they got something out of it.  I knew of several field grade and command officers that got in trouble over "Strange" with usually lower enlisted and you throw in the charge of conduct unbecoming and fraternization and those are career killers.   I remember a joke that was said "you know how much funny jokes are when you hear the word General".  This is a constant struggle to do the right thing.  People start letting their ego override their common sense.  The bad thing is that if someone is a true straight arrow, the things they have to do to avoid any impressions of favoritism because the reputation of the organization is at stake because of the prior bad acts.

Ethics: the Leader’s Struggle

So. I’ve been thinking about how there seems to be problems within the general officer/flag officer ranks when it comes to ethics – as in, the violations of ethics, specifically. And for a long time I’ve wondered how that happens. Then I took command. Let’s talk for a sec about this.
So I’m currently just a company commander. The lowest level of actual command. I have, in all reality, very little authority/power. But it’s a position where people defer to you; look to make decisions; your time always belongs to someone else. You’re always going, going, going.
There have been times where I forget to eat, forget to grab a coffee, and my XO or some of the other officers will drop off a sandwich for me, or I’ll find a coffee at my desk when I get back in. I always try to track them down and pay them back, but…over time, it can feel…expected. Because you’re the boss, obviously, and people should take care of you. And you start to get an unconscious feeling of slight superiority. And you let your guard down. And then you have to catch yourself and remind yourself that you serve them.
It’s a constant self-correction that needs to happen as a leader, in order to get rid of this feeling of somehow being special. And this is just at the company level, mind you. Magnify this to the battalion level. Brigade. Division. Corps. Theater. Army.
Throw on some stars, and now you’ve got an aide or two, you’ve got a security detail, you’ve got units rearranging their schedules to accommodate you. You’ve got staffs that are there to brief you and give you all your information at a glance. The creeping ego must be absolutely terrifying to fight off. It must be a constant day to day struggle to remain conscious of the ego.
But as we can see, there are many who don’t take part in that struggle. They give up. They let the little things creep up on them, allowing the “I work hard, I deserve it” mentality to take hold. It starts small. And then it slips rapidly downhill into severe ethics breaches.
This is why introspection on the part of leaders is so important. The constant course correction. The constant moments of reality checks. Surrounding yourself with people who will provide honest feedback, without being sycophants. Always remembering that we serve. That’s when those trite sayings such as “leaders eat last” become a course correction that can be an automatic part of your day. Always pack your own ruck. Carry your own gear. Qualify on your weapon. Conduct your physical fitness test with your troops. The little things that ensure that you remember the basics of what you are: a service member.  Never lose sight of this.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday Music "Men of Harlech"

I decided to roll with something different this time, I got the idea from doing research for the post I did yesterday.  Normally I do songs from the 1980's with other songs mixed in with it.  I decided to heed the martial side of my nature and use this song.  It is still on my bucket list to attend a "tattoo",

NOT one of these...
Nooo...something like one of these...
The Squids did really good on this...This was TATTOO
Norway 2013, and one of my favorite routines and it is on my
bucket list to go to Edinburgh and attend one.

"Men of Harlech" or "The March of the Men of Harlech" (in Welsh: Rhyfelgyrch Gwŷr Harlech) is a song and military march which is traditionally said to describe events during the seven-year siege of Harlech Castle between 1461 and 1468. Commanded by Constable Dafydd ap Ieuan, the garrison withstood the longest known siege in the history of the British Isles. "Through Seven Years" is an alternative name for the song. The song has also been associated with the earlier, briefer siege of Harlech Castle about 1408, which pitted the forces of Owain Glyndŵr against the future Henry V of England.
"Men of Harlech" is important for Welsh national culture. The song gained international recognition when it was featured in the 1941 movie How Green Was My Valley and the 1964 film Zulu.

Men of Harlech is widely used as a regimental march, especially by British Army and Commonwealth regiments historically associated with Wales. Notably, it is the slow march of the Welsh Guards, the quick march of the Royal Welsh, and the march of the Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal), The Governor General's Horse Guards, and The Ontario Regiment, for which it is the slow march.
It was first used for cinema during the titles of How Green Was My Valley (1941) and has featured in a number of other films. It is best known for its prominent role in the 1964 film Zulu, although the version of lyrics sung in it were written specially for the film. It is sung twice, only once completely, in the film (the British begin shooting the charging Zulus before the start of the final couplet), in counterpoint to the Zulu war chants and the sounds of their shields. Film editor John Jympson cut the scene to the song so that on either side of cuts where the British soldiers cannot be heard, the song is in the correct relative position. The song is also heard in the film Zulu Dawn, which is about the battle that precedes Rorke's Drift, the Battle of Isandlwana.

Rick Rescorla, Chief of Security for Morgan Stanley's World Trade Center office, sang a Cornish adaptation of "Men of Harlech" with a bullhorn, along with other anthems, to keep employee spirits high while they evacuated during the September 11 attacks. After helping save more than 2,700 employees he returned to the towers to evacuate others until the towers collapsed on him.
"Men of Harlech" was used as part of the startup music for ITV television station Teledu Cymru during the early 1960s and, until April 2006, in Fritz Spiegl's BBC Radio 4 UK Theme.
From 1996 to 1999, HTV Wales used part of the song for Wales Tonight.
Adapted versions are sung by fans of several Welsh football clubs and as school or college songs around the world. There is a humorous parody known variously as "National Anthem of the Ancient Britons" and "Woad", written some time before 1914 by William Hope-Jones.
Bryn Terfel recorded "Men of Harlech" for his 2000 album We'll Keep a Welcome

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Battle of Spion Kop..The British and the Boer during the Boer War.

I have Blogged many times about the Boer War and the indifferent British commanders that were in the Army at the time.  I had commented that the British Soldiers were unmatched  but their commanders were with few exceptions unremarkable to put it politely. 
     I bought a book in the early 90's called "The Zulu Wars" and a bit later a book called "The khaki and the Red". These books were fascinating to read the different history and battles that the Victorian era British army faced in defending the empire and "PAX BRITANNIA".   Those books along with a book I used in college called "The Defense of Duffers Drift" which talked about small unit tactics during the Boer war.  Some of the stuff was no longer relevant but it encouraged critical thinking.  One of my favorite movies is "Zulu", having the British soldiers stand and fight the word I remember from the movie was "Get some good pikeman", for the use of the bayonet would be needed.

As I recall part of the British soldier to deal and adapt was part of the Victorian heritage that was prevalent at the time, the British soldiers and the culture believed that they were superior to everyone because they were British, it was part of the DNA.  For this reason they pushed the sphere of influence to a point where it was said that "The Sun never sets on the British Empire".  Also I remembered another movie with Michael Caine and Sean Connery "The man who would be King"
  The Movie "The Man who would be King" was written by Rutyard Kipling, the same person that wrote the "Jungle Book" and he wrote ""Tommie" and many other things.
     I ran across this article and I figured that it would tie on good with stuff that I had written.

BAL41670 #195 Spion Kop,1900 (chromolitho by Neuman) 13:Boer War: Battle of Spion Kop, 1900 (chromo-litho)
Africana Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa
copyright unknown

During the Second Boer War's Battle of Spion Kop, the British Empire came face to face with an indigenous enemy that easily matched it in ferocity.

by Herman T. Voelkner
The century of conflict that would introduce the concept of total war to the world had its bloody roots on an obscure hilltop in the remote South African veldt. The Boer War, the last imperial struggle of the British Empire, would serve as the dividing line between the era of small, localized wars fought largely at the speed of hoof and foot and the global, mechanized slaughter that would follow. It would also prefigure the dismaying pattern of conflicts to come—the use of barbed wire, the introduction of concentration camps to contain Boer prisoners and their families, and industrial-age innovations in human-killing weapons. “War, which was once cruel and glorious, has become cruel and sordid,” globetrotting adventurer Winston Churchill would complain after observing the short, sharp conflict between his nation and the Republic of South Africa. It was—literally and figuratively—the beginning of the 20th century.
The war had a golden pedigree. When the precious metal was discovered in enormous quantities in the Transvaal region of South Africa in the 1880s, it roiled an already troubled situation. The Boers, itinerant Dutch-descended farmers, already had voted with their feet 60 years earlier in the “Great Trek” northward away from the growing British presence in the south. Now they were growing increasingly restive. Fiercely independent, they wanted no part of British intrusion into their public and private affairs, particularly the accompanying moral lectures on the burghers’ need for kinder, gentler relations with their slaves and servants. In 1881, Boer militia had ended the first armed conflict with Great Britain by hacking to pieces a British force at Majuba Hill. Humiliated, the British government acceded to self-government in the Boer republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. (The South African colonies of Natal and Cape Colony continued to fly the Union Jack.) Two decades of uneasy peace followed.

Gold Rush Leads to War

The ensuing gold rush into the Witwatersrand upset the delicate political balance, bringing an unwanted influx of English prospectors into the heart of the Transvaal. These “Uitlanders,” as they were called, were close to forming a majority in the region. During an era when the world’s economy ran on gold, Great Britain saw in the large expatriate presence a heaven-sent opportunity for expanding its influence in its former territories. The Boers were well aware of the demographic danger. A clear indication of that danger came in the notorious Jameson Raid of 1895. Instigated by Cape Colony Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes—creator of the DeBeers diamond fortune—the raid began when Rhodes protégé Starr Z. Jameson led a force of Cape Colony volunteers into the Transvaal to coordinate an attack with restive Uitlanders in the boomtown of Johannesburg. The plan went disastrously awry when the rebellion did not spread as expected—opposition to Boer rule had been overestimated. Jameson and his men were quickly rounded up and handed over to British authorities, who gave them a mere slap on the wrist, further outraging Boer sensibilities.
General Sir Redvers Buller was the commander-in-chief of British forces in South Africa.
General Sir Redvers Buller was the commander-in-chief of British forces in South Africa.
Weapons and ammunition poured into the Boer republic from the Netherlands and Germany, which was eager to see Britain humbled again by the Boers. Old Martini-Henry rifles were replaced with modern German-made Mausers, and “God and the Mauser” quickly became the Boer war cry. Meanwhile, Transvaal President Paul Kruger roughly suppressed the Uitlanders, refusing them the right to vote and resisting intense British diplomatic pressure. Diplomatic entreaties might be ignored, but as Kruger and his countrymen gazed across the border, they saw something they could not control: shiploads of British Army reinforcements steadily disembarking in Cape Colony and Natal. The Boers must act or face a swelling tide of British soldiers. Kruger issued an ultimatum: Unless the British buildup ceased and its forces withdrew from the frontier, the Transvaal would fight. On October 11, 1899, the ultimatum expired, and war for control of the fabulously wealthy region began. The words Kruger had spoken to his countrymen after the discovery of Transvaal gold—“Instead of rejoicing you would do better to weep, for this gold will cause our country to be soaked in blood”—were now sadly prophetic.
The Natal-based garrison at Ladysmith, where colonial governor Sir George White was in residence, was one of the keys to the British defense; Kimberly and Mafeking were the others. The three cities ringed the perimeter of the Boer republics. The Boers understood this and took immediate steps to forestall any offensive moves by the British. Kimberly and Mafeking were surrounded. (In the latter township, Lord Baden Powell would organize the boys of the town into the first troops of Boy Scouts.) In the British cantonment at Ladysmith, White and 12,000 troops were under imminent threat of capture. A British general of great renown, Sir William Penn Symons, already had been killed by a Boer sniper; his infantry brigade, reeling back from the extreme north of Natal, was now retreating toward Ladysmith. Feeling that destiny was on their side, the Boer inhabitants of the two British colonies were now rising in rebellion, turning the preexisting political demographic on its head.
For the British, the news everywhere was grim. Winston Churchill, who sailed over to Cape Town from England with General Sir Redvers Buller, the commander-in-chief of British forces in South Africa, reported back caustically that the British could “for the moment, be sure of nothing beyond the gunshot of the Navy.” It was far from clear that Buller was the right man for the job. Although he had four decades of military experience behind him, as well as a Victoria Cross, Buller was unused to fighting any enemy with a level of sophistication higher than that of the Zulus. Engaging him now was a highly motivated mounted force both nimble and armed with modern weapons. In a moment of candid self-appraisal before the war, Buller had said, “I have always considered that I was better as second in command in a complex military affair that as an officer in chief command.” This was the man who now faced the daunting military task, defending the two British colonies in South Africa from a determined and resourceful enemy equally at home on the veldt or in the mountains.

Churchill Travels to the Front and Gets Caught

Winston Churchill in South Africa.
Winston Churchill in South Africa.
While Buller remained at Cape Town to sort things out, an impatient Churchill teamed with journalistic colleague John B. Atkins of the Manchester Guardian to go to the front at Ladysmith before other journalists could do so. The two took a 700-mile train ride on an undefended rail line that brushed against Boer strongpoints along the way. They then boarded a small steamer bound for Durban and immediately sailed into the teeth of an Indian Ocean storm. After several harrowing and wretchedly seasick days, the pair arrived at Durban to learn that Ladysmith was completely surrounded by Boers. Still determined to get to the fighting, Churchill and Atkins made another dangerous train ride of 60 miles that brought them to the end of the line at Estcourt. From there, they could hear the cannonfire at Ladysmith reverberating in the distance against tin-roofed shacks.
On November 14, Churchill was invited to participate in a reconnaissance by armored train, a dubious venture vulnerable to the simplest of countermeasures—a blocked track, a disturbed rail, or a blown bridge. The Boers, under their new commander, Louis Botha—two months earlier a Boer private—speedily obliged. A blockade sufficed; the train rammed boulders strewn along the track. Heavy rifle fire and shrapnel rained down from the hills. For over an hour the train was under fire as Churchill assisted in the defense and attempted escape. “I was very lucky in the hour that followed not to be hit,” he recounted later. “It was necessary for me to be almost continuously moving up and down the train or standing in the open, telling the engine-driver what to do.”
Churchill personally directed the recoupling of the cars in an attempt to ram the blockade, and when that failed, he led a group of wounded soldiers to relative safety beyond a nearby trestle. He was returning to lead more away from danger when he met some figures clad in slouched hats—Boers, he realized—leveling their rifles at him from a hundred yards away. He turned and ran in the other direction, bullets striking all around him. Minutes later a horseman appeared and pointed his rifle at the Englishman, who automatically reached for his pistol, only to find that he had left it on the train. He was taken prisoner after managing at the last second to discard two magazines of prohibited dum-dum bullets. With that, England’s preeminent warrior-journalist was led away to prison, his slyly discarded magazines very likely saving him from drumhead execution.

‘Black Week’ for the British Forces

While Churchill languished in Boer custody, depressing news filled the grim dispatches from South Africa to England. In the space of one week—December 10-15—the British suffered consecutive defeats at Stormberg, Magersfontein, and Colenso. From Buckingham Palace, a vexed Queen Victoria announced, “We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist.” But bold pronouncements could not obscure the truth arriving from the outer reaches of the Empire. The British had suffered their worst losses since the Crimean War a half-century earlier. All too clearly, the innate conservatism of the British military establishment had begun to take its toll. The cavalry had hitherto despised the carbine in favor of the sword—this in the dawning age of magazine-fed rifles and quick-firing guns. Few senior British officers realized that the old ways of open-order drill and carrying the day with regimental discipline and esprit de corps alone were now a prescription for outright slaughter.
At Stormberg, an attempt to wrest control of a railway junction from the Boers miscarried when the British forces were purposely misled by a native guide during a night march. Seven hundred British soldiers were missing or captured. Magersfontein was even worse. The much-vaunted Highland Brigade made an assault across an open plain in virtual parade formation against an enemy whose positions were hidden behind undiscovered barbed wire. The Boers had devised a new battlefield tactic: digging trenches dug down the front of a hill, known as the military crest, rather than at the top. By the time the attempt at Magersfontein to relieve the garrison at Kimberley was called off, 900 dead and wounded members of the Black Watch littered the battlefield.
Lt. Gen. Charles Warren wanted to bombard Boer positions on Tabanyama Ridge before launching his main assault. He was overruled by General Sir Redvers Buller who was stationed several miles to the rear.
Lt. Gen. Charles Warren wanted to bombard Boer positions on Tabanyama Ridge before launching his main assault. He was overruled by General Sir Redvers Buller who was stationed several miles to the rear.
At Colenso, Buller’s attempt to relieve Ladysmith also failed. The Irish Brigade, which was to have crossed the Tugela (“Terrible”) River three miles away, was misled by another guide, this time into a bend of the river where they were enfiladed from all sides by Boer riflemen. To make matters worse, Buller had deployed 12 field guns at Colenso without an infantry screen. In the face of withering rifle fire, the guns had to be abandoned. A handful of heroic British volunteers tried to recover them, but only two guns were brought back successfully. Casualties were relatively light, in comparison to the earlier two battles—only 150 killed. Meanwhile, Ladysmith remained under siege, and the hard-pressed British troops encircled there had begun to eat their horses and mules.
Until “Black Week,” as the English newspapers dubbed the six terrible days in mid-December, the worst of Britain’s casualties in the region had been suffered at Majuba nearly 20 years earlier, when fewer than 100 of her soldiers were killed. Now they were dying by the hundreds in battle after futile battle. These were not the usual native combatants on the fringes of the Empire—the Zulus, Pathans, or Dervishes. The Boers knew the ground far better than their foe, and they also knew the value of entrenching themselves within it. “Dig now, or they’ll dig your grave later” was their watchword. They were fiercely determined and well armed. A heavy Maxim gun firing one-inch shells, dubbed the “Pom-pom,” ranked alongside German-built Krupp howitzers, 75mm field guns, 155mm “Long Toms” firing 40-pound shrapnel shells, and the ubiquitous Mausers, effectively shredding the serried British ranks. Slowly, it dawned on the British that this was to be no “splendid little war” such as the United States had enjoyed against Spain the year before, but a grinding fight to the death against a seriously underestimated enemy.

Buller Demoted; Roberts Takes Charge

Buller was badly shaken, wiring home the despairing judgment that “I ought to let Ladysmith go.” He then sent a message to the encircled White, ordering him to burn his ciphers, fire off his ammunition, and seek whatever terms he could with the enemy “after giving me time to fortify myself.” What happened instead was a change in leadership. Buller was demoted, although he continued to command the forces in Natal, and he was told to persist in trying to lift the siege at Ladysmith. The new British commander-in-chief was retired Field Marshal Lord Frederick Roberts, 67 years old when he was recalled to active duty. Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener—“Kitchener of Khartoum”—would serve as Roberts’ chief of staff. Roberts had already had at least one communication from Buller before he departed from London for his South African command: “Your gallant son died today. Condolences, Buller.” Such was the epistolary epitaph of the younger Roberts, who had been killed trying to save Buller’s guns at Colenso.
While Roberts and Kitchener were taking charge of the overall situation, Buller was reinforced in Natal by Lt. Gen. Charles Warren and the 5th Infantry Division. Warren was an odd choice to aid Buller—the older general despised him from Warren’s days as a commander in Malaya, when he had bombarded Buller with demands and complaints while Buller was serving as British adjutant general. (“For heaven’s sake, leave us alone,” Buller had finally told Warren, in utter exasperation.) Now he gave Warren the task of crossing the Tugela River and moving on the Boer right at Tabanyama Ridge, 12 miles southwest of Ladysmith. Meanwhile, Buller would attack the enemy center at Potgeiter’s Drift. Once through the hills beyond the river, the two English columns would reunite for a last-ditch drive across the open plains to Ladysmith.
Warren, who had spent much of his career excavating historical sites in Palestine, had grown accustomed to the painstaking pace of archaeology. Given two-thirds of Buller’s ponderous army to command—11,000 infantrymen, 2,200 cavalry, and 36 field guns—he took the better part of nine days to reach Trichardt’s Drift on the Tugela, the jumping-off point for the coordinated attack. Another day was wasted ferrying guns and supplies across the river.
A Boer commando unit poses for a photo in front of Spion Kop. Aside from being skilled fighters, they also had intimate knowledge of South African terrain.
A Boer commando unit poses for a photo in front of Spion Kop. Aside from being skilled fighters, they also had intimate knowledge of South African terrain.
The Boers, with their crack contingent of scouts, knew every move the British were making. They responded by strengthening their defenses and shifting troops from the siege of Ladysmith to the line of hills overlooking the Tugela. Louis Botha was dispatched to take command of the burghers’ defense. Reasoning correctly that the British always attacked head-on, Botha paid particular attention to the large hill in the center of his line—Spion Kop. Aptly named, the boulder-bedecked “Spy Hill” rose to a height of over 1,400 feet, the centerpiece of several hills that commanded the veldt and the approaches to Ladysmith north of the river. Sixty years earlier, the first hardy voortrekkers had climbed its prominence during the Great Trek northward. Then, as now, they were fleeing the British, but this time they were better armed and better fortified. When the time came, they would be ready.
On January 20, Warren finally attacked the Boer positions on Tabanyama Ridge. The khaki-clad British troops managed to carry a hill or two before halting amid a cyclone of Mauser fire. Ahead of them lay a thousand yards of open grassland, more than enough distance to give them pause, particularly in the face of the quick-firing Boers. Warren wanted to conduct a leisurely bombardment before making another attack, but he was overruled by Buller, who ordered him to attack again immediately. The order came with an explicit “or else.” Buller threatened to call off the entire campaign if Warren did not do as he was told. Thinking quickly—or at least as quickly as he was capable of thinking—Warren suggested an alternative plan. Instead of renewing his attack on the Boer right, he would move on Spion Kop. Buller was not appeased. “Of course you must take Spion Kop,” he told his hated subordinate, but he neglected to supply him with any new troops or ideas on how to accomplish it. It was going to be left to Warren alone, much to the detriment of the men he commanded.

British Take Spion Kop

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Thorneycroft, commanding a contingent of mounted infantry, was selected to spearhead Warren’s attack. On the evening of January 23, Thorneycroft and his men surreptitiously climbed the slope on the near side of Spion Kop and seized the sere moonscape of the summit, a flash of Lee-Enfields and total surprise winning them the strategic position with very few casualties. Three cheers went up for Queen Victoria—the prearranged signal for success—and the way to Ladysmith lay before them at last. But first they must hold on to their prize. Maj. Gen. Edward Woodgate, senior commander on the hill, quickly got the men busy digging trenches in the moonlight, before the eagle-eyed Boers could zero in on their position. He sent a note to Warren informing him of the success, adding that he expected that Spion Kop could be “held till Doomsday against all comers.”
After taking Spion Kop, British forces made the ghastly discovery that they were sitting ducks for the Boer sharpshooters above them.
After taking Spion Kop, British forces made the ghastly discovery that they were sitting ducks for the Boer sharpshooters above them.
The hill had been shrouded in fog, and when the mists slowly cleared with the dawn it became all too evident to the British that they did not hold the hilltop at all, but only a small, acre-wide plateau ringed on three sides by higher hills that afforded the enemy perfectly sited, boulder-protected firing positions. The Boers, who had watched the leisurely progress of the British with tight-lipped satisfaction, were even now creeping into those positions. Botha ordered his men to retake the position before the British had time to move up their own heavy guns. His burghers quickly poured devastating salvos into the densely packed British troops. The Englishmen, hunkering down in shallow trenches in a confined space comparable in size and dimension to Trafalgar Square, had little cover. The Boers’ artillery, signaled by heliograph, directed intense fire at Spion Kop from the surrounding hills. Shells rained down on the British position at the rate of 10 per minute. Meanwhile, the British heliograph had been knocked out, and they had no comparable artillery support from their own crack gunners. The soldiers atop Spion Kop were on their own.

The Massacre Begins

Responding to Botha’s call for reinforcements, Commandant Henrik Prinsloo led his 88-man Carolina Commando onto Aloe Knoll, 400 yards east of the British position. From there, Prinsloo’s marksmen unleashed a deadly fire on the unsuspecting men of the Lancashire Fusiliers, who were on the extreme right flank of the British trench. The Khakis, as the Boers called them, never knew what hit them. Seventy were later found lying dead with bullet holes in the right side of their heads—they had not even had time to turn around. Also struck dead was their commanding general, Woodgate, who fell mortally wounded with a shell splinter above his right eye. His replacement, Colonel Malby Crofton, sent a hasty message down the hill to Warren: “Reinforce at once or all lost. General dead.” Warren, unhelpful as always, signaled back: “You must hold on to the last. No surrender.” His entire career depended on it.
Grimly, the British held on to the 400-yard-wide battlefield. No one on the British side had given much thought to what to do after seizing Spion Kop; asked what his force should do next, Buller had answered dogmatically, “It has got to stay there.” It stayed there all right, stolid and immobile, absorbing a horrific beating. Many of the officers were killed, victims of the Victorian-era code that prohibited a gentleman from taking cover under fire. The men in the ranks, less hidebound and conventional, squirmed into every square inch of cover they could find in the rocky topsoil. It did little good. Boer artillery shells dismembered entire files of soldiers where they lay, while those foolish enough to raise their heads off the ground were immediately shot dead by enemy snipers.

On the morning after the bloody fighting at Spion Kop, a large trench serves as a makeshift grave for some 400 dead soldiers who perished there.
On the morning after the bloody fighting at Spion Kop, a large trench serves as a makeshift grave for some 400 dead soldiers who perished there.
On the command level, all was chaos. At one time or another, four separate senior British officers believed themselves to be in command. In his only direct action of the day, Buller recommended to Warren that he “put some really good hard fighting man in command on the top. I suggest Thorneycroft.” Warren, glad for any assistance, promoted Throneycroft to brigadier general and gave him operational control of the battle. Thorneycroft’s first move was to countermand an attempt by the Lancashire Fusiliers to surrender to the Boers who were bedeviling them. “Take your men back to hell, sir!” Thorneycroft roared at the Boer officer who had approached to accept the surrender under a white flag. “I allow no surrender.” Shamefaced, some of the Fusiliers skulked back to their own lines; others, having no wish to commit state-sanctioned suicide, dashed into the Boer lines and surrendered.
Returning to the forefront now was Winston Churchill, who besides bearing journalist’s credentials also carried a new commission in the South African Light Horse given to him by Buller after Churchill’s extraordinary escape from a Boer prison (see sidebar). Churchill climbed Spion Kop and assayed the scene for himself, conveying it later in words that would find their echo on the Western Front in Europe 15 years later: “Corpses lay here and there. Many of the wounds were of a horrible nature. The splinters and fragments of the shells had torn and mutilated them. The shallow trenches were choked with dead and wounded.” As Churchill climbed and re-climbed the hill, ferrying messages from Buller’s camp, he was “continually under shell and rifle fire and once the feather in my hat was cut through by a bullet. But in then end I came serenely through.”
Little else was serene on the bloody hilltop. Boers and Britons faced each other across a landscape of butchered bodies and heaped wreckage. Battalions were hopelessly intermixed. Messages between the hilltop and Buller, four miles away, were sporadic and confused, and several messengers fell dead with vital information unread in their hands. No one below knew the situation above. Some officers thought the hilltop overcrowded, while others thought there was a vital need for reinforcements. Thorneycroft, for his part, seemed dazed and utterly exhausted. He sent another message to Warren, from whom he had not heard in five long hours. “The troops which marched up here last night are quite done in,” he reported. “They have had no water, and ammunition is running short. It is impossible to permanently hold this place so long as the enemy’s guns can play on the hill. It is all I can do to hold my own. If casualties go on at the present rate I shall barely hold out the night.”

Thorneycroft Orders a Total Wthdrawal

After a hurried conference with Crofton and Lt. Col. Ernest Cooke of the newly arrived Scottish Rifles, Thorneycroft ordered a total withdrawal. A last-second message from Warren promising that help was on the way fell on deaf ears. “Better six good battalions safely down the hill than a bloody mop-up in the morning,” Thorneycroft said. “I’ve done all I can, and I’m not going back.” In vain, the upstart Lieutenant Churchill argued the point, and the retreat began. Abandoning the hard-won hill, the British survivors met their reinforcements massing at the bottom, en route to assist them in consolidating their position. It was too late—surely the Boers had already retaken the hilltop—and Thorneycroft turned these troops around as well. Survivors and reinforcements alike trudged back down the hillside.
Unknown to the British, the Boers had also lost the will to fight, and they too had begun to melt away, in part because they were startled by a sudden move across the Tugela by the King’s Royal Rifle Corps east of Spion Kop at Acton Homes. Barely a handful of Boers remained on hand to threaten the British. The hilltop so fiercely contested at such human cost was discovered by two joyful Boer scouts to be empty. After the British had spent 16 days and suffered almost 2,000 casualties on the campaign, Botha’s burghers were atop Spion Kop once more as if nothing had happened. Only the three-deep piles of British dead remained to dispel that illusion. In soldierly admiration, a Boer doctor examined the human carnage and said, “We Boers would not, could not, suffer like this.”
Botha, returning to the hilltop the next morning, beheld “a gruesome, sickening, hideous picture.” Some 400 dead British soldiers lay sprawled in a shallow trench that would serve double-duty as their grave; another 1,400 were wounded or in captivity. Boer losses were considerably lower—58 dead and 140 wounded, including 55 of Prinsloo’s 88 hard-fighting Carolina Commando. Botha sent a humble telegram back to President Kruger: “Battle over and by the grace of a God a magnificent victory for us. The enemy driven out of their positions and their losses are great. It breaks my heart to say that so many of our gallant heroes have also been killed or wounded. It is incredible that such a small handful of men, with the help of the Most High, could fight and withstand the mighty Britain.”

British Numbers Finally Prevail

Finally, with his artillery in full support, Buller managed to throw a pontoon bridge across the Tugela, and overwhelming British infantry turned the key in the Ladysmith lock, seizing the last remaining hilltop barring their way. The siege of the British forces there had lasted 118 days. It was lifted on February 27, 1900, ironically the anniversary of the defeat the British had suffered at Majuba 19 years earlier.
Lord Roberts now took center stage as overall commander after the protracted drama of Ladysmith. His forces totaled over 200,000 against 88,000 Boers. The latter began to abandon the Transvaal, retreating into the hinterland in another Great Trek. Churchill, as ever marching to the sound of the guns, carried by bicycle a crucial dispatch to Roberts through a Johannesburg still occupied by Boers; the slightest challenge by a wary burgher might have caused him to be executed as a spy. His audacity endeared him to yet another commander-in-chief. As the Boers withdrew to the east, yielding large parts of the Transvaal, Roberts allowed Churchill to enter Pretoria at the front of the column. One of Churchill’s singular pleasures was to hoist the Union Jack over the place where he had been held as a prisoner of war.
In a still taken from a newsreel of the fighting at Spion Kop, Buller's shellshocked columns retreat over the Tugela River via pontoon bridge after losing the Battle of Spion Kop.
In a still taken from a newsreel of the fighting at Spion Kop, Buller’s shellshocked columns retreat over the Tugela River via pontoon bridge after losing the Battle of Spion Kop.
Other combat followed in the form of desultory running fights with the Boers who, despite having been defeated in the field, refused to capitulate. Raiding deep into British territory, the Boers fought for two more years in the newly developed irregular fashion called guerrilla warfare—another dubious innovation bestowed on the newborn century. Buller, for his part, had managed no such innovative thinking. He could have followed up the British cavalry’s success at Acton Homes and exploited its mobility to outflank the Boers and open the road to Ladysmith, but he could not get his main force there quickly enough, and thus had to fight a battle that grossly favored the enemy. Churchill’s biting description of Buller’s traveling camp was apt: “Within striking distance of a mobile enemy whom we wish to circumvent, every soldier has canvas shelter. Rapidity of movement is out of the question. It is poor economy to let a soldier live well for three days at the expense of killing him on the fourth.”
The laborious and cumbersome movements doomed hundreds of regular British soldiers to a Mauser bullet in the head at Spion Kop, and the hidebound conventions of the Victorian era—sneering at the use of cover and demanding an unflappable hauteur in the presence of the enemy—left their bloody epitaph stitched across the chests of their gentlemanly commanders. Few British survivors of Spion Kop would have disputed the mordant words of Manchester Guardian correspondent John Atkins, who was there that day and later summed up the battle as “that acre of massacre, that complete shambles.” Indeed it was.