CHAPTER 15. SPION KOP.

Whilst Methuen and Gatacre were content to hold their own at the Modder and at Sterkstroom, and whilst the mobile and energetic French was herding the Boers into Colesberg, Sir Redvers Buller, the heavy, obdurate, inexplicable man, was gathering and organising his forces for another advance upon Ladysmith. Nearly a month had elapsed since the evil day when his infantry had retired, and his ten guns had not, from the frontal attack upon Colenso. Since then Sir Charles Warren's division of infantry and a considerable reinforcement of artillery had come to him. And yet in view of the terrible nature of the ground in front of him, of the fighting power of the Boers, and of the fact that they were always acting upon internal lines, his force even now was, in the opinion of competent judges, too weak for the matter in hand.

There remained, however, several points in his favour. His excellent infantry were full of zeal and of confidence in their chief. It cannot be denied, however much we may criticise some incidents in his campaign, that he possessed the gift of impressing and encouraging his followers, and, in spite of Colenso, the sight of his square figure and heavy impassive face conveyed an assurance of ultimate victory to those around him. In artillery he was very much stronger than before, especially in weight of metal. His cavalry was still weak in proportion to his other arms. When at last he moved out on January 10th to attempt to outflank the Boers, he took with him nineteen thousand infantry, three thousand cavalry, and sixty guns, which included six howitzers capable of throwing a 50-pound lyddite shell, and ten long-range naval pieces. Barton's Brigade and other troops were left behind to hold the base and line of communications.

An analysis of Buller's force shows that its details were as follows: -

   Clery's Division. 
      Hildyard's Brigade. 
      2nd West Surrey. 
      2nd Devonshire. 
      2nd West Yorkshire. 
      2nd East Surrey. 
   Hart's Brigade. 
      1st Inniskilling Fusiliers. 
      1st Border Regiment. 
      1st Connaught Rangers. 
      2nd Dublin Fusiliers. 
   Field Artillery, three batteries, 19th, 28th, 63rd; one squadron 
      13th Hussars; Royal Engineers.

   Warren's Division. 
      Lyttelton's Brigade. 
      2nd Cameronians. 
      3rd King's Royal Rifles. 
      1st Durham Light Infantry. 
      1st Rifle Brigade. 
      Woodgate's Brigade. 
      2nd Royal Lancaster. 
      2nd Lancashire Fusiliers. 
      1st South Lancashire. 
      York and Lancasters. 
   Field Artillery, three batteries, 7th, 78th, 73rd; one squadron 
      13th Hussars.

   Corps Troops. 
      Coke's Brigade. 
      Imperial Light Infantry. 
      2nd Somersets. 
      2nd Dorsets. 
      2nd Middlesex. 
   61st Howitzer Battery; two 4.7 naval guns; eight naval 12-pounder guns; 
      one squadron 13th Hussars; Royal Engineers.