CHAPTER 19. PAARDEBERG.

Lord Roberts's operations, prepared with admirable secrecy and carried out with extreme energy, aimed at two different results, each of which he was fortunate enough to attain. The first was that an overpowering force of cavalry should ride round the Boer position and raise the siege of Kimberley: the fate of this expedition has already been described. The second was that the infantry, following hard on the heels of the cavalry, and holding all that they had gained, should establish itself upon Cronje's left flank and cut his connection with Bloemfontein. It is this portion of the operations which has now to be described.

The infantry force which General Roberts had assembled was a very formidable one. The Guards he had left under Methuen in front of the lines of Magersfontein to contain the Boer force. With them he had also left those regiments which had fought in the 9th Brigade in all Methuen's actions. These, as will be remembered, were the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers, the 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, the 2nd Northamptons, and one wing of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. These stayed to hold Cronje in his position.

There remained three divisions of infantry, one of which, the ninth, was made up on the spot. These were constituted in this way:

   Sixth Division (Kelly-Kenny). 
      12th Brigade (Knox). 
      Oxford Light Infantry. 
      Gloucesters (2nd). 
         West Riding. 
      Buffs. 
         18th Brigade (Stephenson). 
      Essex. 
         Welsh. 
   Warwicks. 
      Yorks Seventh Division (Tucker). 
      14th Brigade (Chermside). 
      Scots Borderers. 
   Lincolns. 
      Hampshires. 
   Norfolks. 
      15th Brigade (Wavell). 
   North Staffords. 
      Cheshires. 
   S. Wales Borderers. 
   East Lancashires Ninth Division (Colvile). 
      Highland Brigade (Macdonald). 
      Black Watch. 
      Argyll and Sutherlands. 
   Seaforths. 
      Highland Light Infantry. 
   19th Brigade (Smith-Dorrien). 
      Gordons. 
      Canadians. 
      Shropshire Light Infantry. 
      Cornwall Light Infantry.

With these were two brigade divisions of artillery under General Marshall, the first containing the 18th, 62nd, and 75th batteries (Colonel Hall), the other the 76th, 81st, and 82nd (Colonel McDonnell). Besides these there were a howitzer battery, a naval contingent of four 4.7 guns and four 12-pounders under Captain Bearcroft of the 'Philomel.' The force was soon increased by the transfer of the Guards and the arrival of more artillery; but the numbers which started on Monday, February 12th, amounted roughly to twenty-five thousand foot and eight thousand horse with 98 guns - a considerable army to handle in a foodless and almost waterless country. Seven hundred wagons drawn by eleven thousand mules and oxen, all collected by the genius for preparation and organisation which characterises Lord Kitchener, groaned and creaked behind the columns.