NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
29th February, 1900 : In late afternoon a detachment of cavalry, appearing on the hills above the town and being called on by a sentry to identify itself, responds with a triumphant cry: “The Ladysmith relief column.” So, after 118 days, the siege of this garrison town and rail junction is over. General Redvers Buller has received a telegram from the Queen “Thank God for news you have telegraphed to me. Congratulate you and all under you with all my heart VRI”.
In his dispatch to the Secretary of State for War, General Buller says the victory has been more complete than he had dared to hope. The Boers packed their wagons and retreated, taking most of their guns, but leaving behind quantities of ammunition. For General Buller the victory is particularly gratifying. After defeats at Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso, all in one week in December, he failed again at Spion Kop, leaving 1,200 casualties in the hills seven miles from Ladysmith. Though accused of indecisiveness, failing to gather adequate intelligence of enemy positions and fatally dividing his forces, Buller was allowed to stay as field commander in Natal.
[ Who remembers the Siege of Ladysmith today? However, “military” commanders of Buller’s ilk are still in charge of what is left of the Western military. Political correctness will beat ability any time. ]