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Saturday, 29 November 2003
"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 7 January 1900
Topic: BW - NSW - NSWMR_A

A Sqn NSWMR

"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles

Antill Letter, 7 January 1900

 

Antill Letter, 7 January 1900

 

The following transcript is of a letter written by Captain John Macquarie Antill, Officer Commanding the New South Wales Mounted Rifles contingent to South Africa to the New South Wales Chief Staff Officer and Assistant Adjutant General Colonel Henry Douglas Mackenzie.

 
Prieska, Orange Free State
7 January 1900

The AA General
NSW Forces

Sir

Since my last I have to report the following. On the 29th Ultima a force consisting of a Company of Infantry, 2 Maxim Guns and the Squadron under my command and also 20 Remmington Guides, were ordered to march at once for this town to protect it from the rebel Boers who were reported to be rising on the northern side of the Orange River in Grequaland. The march was less than 130 miles was done in 3 days, and excepting some few horses which knocked up and had to be left on the road and without casualty at 3 am, 2nd Instant. Lieutenant Colonel Alderson who was in command directed me to at once take up position under cover on the River's bank and attack any Boers who might show themselves upon the other side. It appears that a Commando of about 20 had seized a farm commanding the punt crossing and not believing  that the British would sent a force from De Aar were in the habit of coming down to the water's edge in the early morning to water horses etc. The inhabitants were in great fear as the Boers were seizing and destroying their property daily. The Boers showed out of their cover at 5 am but excepting 2 troops of 15 on whom I would not fire, did not approach nearer as it seemed to me that there was no chance of their approaching I opened fire with some twenty other ranks on some seven of them which fire they returned by a few rounds and they cleared out precipitously. Three of them were wounded and one native who I sent over afterwards from in four places. Crossing the river in a boat we cleared the country for some distance and returning to their laager captured a quantity of their guns and ammunition. Colonel Alerson returned to De Aar same evening leaving me with my Squadron and a troop of Remmington Guides. The Orange River is about 200 yards wide and passable at 5 drifts extending over 5 miles of frontage all of which was quickly secured and hold. Yesterday with a party of 40 crossed the river and proceeded quickly to a farm 16 miles north where I believed several of them were rising - reaching there at 5 am. Imprisoned seven rebels who gave themselves up. Secured quantity of arms and ammunition and retired to Prieska by 11 am. Inhabitants much impressed by this capture. The position here is difficult one as only about 10% of those living in the town can be counted loyal. Expect to be here for a week or two longer and to be reinforced by a troop of Scots Greys from Marth’s Drift 100 miles east. The Boers are a dirty lot of men and women - religion - good riders and mounted on country bred ponies very good of their kind. They are armed with all sort of weapons chiefly Martinis - Sporting rifles - old Henrys and some kings I have never seen before - I have a collection of some 40 some of them very good ones.

Have lost 3 horses, one from pneumonia one broken leg and one dropped dead from heart disease yesterday. Men in splendid spirits and very keen. British Officers much pleased with the way they work. Received a telegram from General Officer Commanding Orange River yesterday saying he was very pleased with the activity of the troops here. Officers all doing well. Rations difficult to get and very expensive. Climate like our own in summer. It is generally thought that the war will be a protracted one - the defensive positions occupied by the Rebels being almost impregnable. They are very difficult to see among the rocks and cover and the country is most difficult to get about on, even on the flat parts as the surface is generally rough and scrubby and very hard on the horses' feet.

I have the honour to be
Sir
Your obedient servant
JM Antill, Captain
Commanding New South Wales Mounted Rifles and Troops
Prieska, Orange River

Chief Staff Officer
Received 5 February 1900

 

 

Previous:  Antill Letter, 26 December 1899

Next:  Antill Letter, 16 January 1900

 

War Diaries and Letters

All War Diaries and letters cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy 

 

 

Further Reading:

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron, Roll of Honour

Boer War, 1899 - 1902

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: "A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 7 January 1900

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 3 May 2011 1:29 PM EADT
"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 16 January 1900
Topic: BW - NSW - NSWMR_A

A Sqn NSWMR

"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles

Antill Letter, 16 January 1900

 

Antill Letter, 16 January 1900

 

The following transcript is of a letter written by Captain John Macquarie Antill, Officer Commanding the New South Wales Mounted Rifles contingent to South Africa to the New South Wales Chief Staff Officer and Assistant Adjutant General Colonel Henry Douglas Mackenzie.

 
Houwater, 2 miles north of Britstown
16 January 1900

The Assistant Adjutant General
Victoria Barracks, Sydney

Sir
My last letter advised the departure from De Aar through Britstown to Prieska on the 30th Ultimo. The Column consisted of 80 Mounted Rifles, 1 Company Mounted Infantry, 1 Troop Remmington Guides and 2 Maxim Guns. The march (135 to 140 miles) was done in 3 days. The water is scarce in this district necessitating fixed stages: arrived within 15 miles of Prieska on the Orange River on the evening of the 3rd the end of the march being completed by 4 am the next day. Lieutenant Colonel Alderson (in Command) directed me to at once occupy the Southern Bank, the northern being in possession of the rebels and to attack immediately they made their appearance, which was expected to be at sunrise, 5 am: at 5am some 20 of them showed and after a smart fire for some 20 minutes in which 5 of them were wounded, they all decamped over the mountainous country toward Grequa Town. I crossed over in two boats and pursued them on foot with a Troop for some little distance but could not get near them. Returning to the tents occupied by them, secured a quantity of arms, ammunition, saddlery etc and found a Kaffir who was on the party badly wounded - one bullet passed through the back of his head coming out at an inch from the eye, 4 fingers were taken off by another, a 3rd passed through his thigh and the 4th through the calf. The man is still alive and doing well. Colonel Alderson then decided to return same evening, leaving me in Command with the Mounted Rifles and Guides. The following day one of the rebels gave himself up and on the next morning accompanied by him as a guide, crossed the Orange River at 3 am and at 5 am about 16 miles north surrounded and surprised a party of Boers, capturing the lot (7) with 12 rifles, ammunition, 8 horses, 1,000 sheep and 2 Cape Carts, returning to Prieska without casualty by 11 am; having reported to General Wood was directed to remain on the defence and hold the river if possible but to retire on this place (one of Sir Cecil Rhodes' farms) if opposed by superior fire, there being every chance our being cut off and no reinforcement available closer than De Aar. Held the 6 Drifts for a frontage of 8 miles for several days, and on learning that the place was to be attacked on 12th by 1,000 Boers from Grequa Town was directed to retire. This succeeded in doing, leaving Prieska at 3 am on 13th inst reaching Houwater at 10 pm on the 15th inst (75 miles). I am now covering Britstown which is held by 2 Companies Warwicks entrenched and awaiting orders. Received a telegram from General Woods, Commander of Orange River District saying "he was very pleased without vigilance and activity". Within two hours of our retirement there were some hundreds of Boers on the northern bank and at midday 800 with a Landrust has entered the town and taken possession. Strangely IU was allowed to get away without opposition, probably on account of our numbers being not known. The town was reclaimed I believe yesterday. The health of the men is good; their behaviour and spirits of the very best, and all are hard and fit: Provisions hard to procure and poor. Start today to make our own dampers from wheat, bread unprocurable. The men however are getting as much mutton as they can eat. I regret having to report that horses are a difficulty. Local horse sicknesses and very tough country has wrought great havoc. I have had 3 die of pneumonia and about 30 unfit for work. Colonel Alerdon was good enough to say the Scouting was exceptional. He was very pleased with the work of the Mounted Rifles. The Officers are doing their work well and my NCOs are a splendid lot of men, only one or two not up to the work. I make all ranks march one third of the distance and find it has done them much good. The roads being very rough cuts the boots up very quickly. There seems to be a general opinion that the Colonial Mounted men are the very class required. They appear to be better able to fight the Boer with his own weapons. The Boers will not come into the open and have a straight fight. He chooses a position under cover and sits down and smokes and waits. When forced out of it he retires independently to another the range of which he has fixed. It is common opinion that the war will be a long and protracted one. Our horses having a bad effect. Many doubtfuls are now joining the rebels: I will be glad if you will inform the relations of the men that all are in good health.

I am Sir
Your obedient servant
JM Antill, Captain
Commander, Mounted Rifles
16 January 1900  

 

 

Previous:  Antill Letter, 7 January 1900

Next:  Antill Letter, 22 January 1900

 

War Diaries and Letters

All War Diaries and letters cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy 

 

 

Further Reading:

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron, Roll of Honour

Boer War, 1899 - 1902

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: "A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 16 January 1900

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 3 May 2011 1:33 PM EADT
Friday, 28 November 2003
"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 22 January 1900
Topic: BW - NSW - NSWMR_A

A Sqn NSWMR

"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles

Antill Letter, 22 January 1900

 

Antill Letter, 22 January 1900

 

The following transcript is of a letter written by Captain John Macquarie Antill, Officer Commanding the New South Wales Mounted Rifles contingent to South Africa to the New South Wales Chief Staff Officer and Assistant Adjutant General Colonel Henry Douglas Mackenzie.

 
Omdraais Vlei
22 January 1900

The Assistant Adjutant
Sydney

Sir,

Since my last advice nothing of importance has transpired. In accordance with instructions. Priesk has been attacked by 800 rebels on the 13th I returned on this place almost 40 miles south and awaiting reinforcements which arrive tomorrow from De Aar when it is intended to re-enter the town and I surmise march on Grequa Town and thus relieve the pressure on Kimberley. Our relief consists of a battery Royal Artillery, one Squadron of Imperial Light Horse, 2 Companies Infantry and 2 Companies Mounted Infantry was fortunately able to effect retirement without loss or mishap but only evacuated Prieska 1½ hours before it was occupied by the Boers in large numbers. Also got my prisoners away to De Aar with 1,000 sheep. The 9 horses we took are a valuable addition to the Squadron as it just fills our casualties. The men are in splendid health two only being exempt from work Private Symonds (slight fever) and Private Maxwell (pneumonia) I am very pleased to state that the discipline is all that can be derived and that the Commanding Officer Colonel Alderson has expressed his very great satisfaction with the work done by the Squadron. Lieutenant McLean and Onslow are of great assistance and Lieutenant Tooth who has had charge of the Transport has given every satisfaction. The Transport at first was a difficulty as it meant leaving De Aar with 40 mules only about 10 of which had been in harness: Warrant Officer Holeman, Staff Sergeant Wasson and all NCOs are doing good work. The duties are arduous for so small a unit there being 20 miles of front to watch. This means only about 2 nights out of bed per week. There are also 3 roads diverging from here to patrol. Greatly miss veterinary assistance having had none whatever. There is a dearth of Veterinary Officers and this country teems with horse sickness. Lieutenant McDonnell is here with us and will have medical charge of this column: Will you kindly have it promulgated that to date there has been no casualty as the men find a difficulty in procuring writing materials and the mails are very disjointed. I will be glad if you will ask General French if he has noted the papers which I arranged to have sent to him from Cape Town.

Your obedient servant
JM Antill, Captain
Commander Mounted Rifles.


Chief Staff Officer
15 February 1900  

 

 

Previous:  Antill Letter, 16 January 1900

Next:  Antill Letter, 8 February 1900

 

War Diaries and Letters

All War Diaries and letters cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy 

 

 

Further Reading:

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron, Roll of Honour

Boer War, 1899 - 1902

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: "A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 22 January 1900

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 3 May 2011 1:36 PM EADT
"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 8 February 1900
Topic: BW - NSW - NSWMR_A

A Sqn NSWMR

"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles

Antill Letter, 8 February 1900

 

Antill Letter, 8 February 1900

 

The following transcript is of a letter written by Captain John Macquarie Antill, Officer Commanding the New South Wales Mounted Rifles contingent to South Africa to the New South Wales Chief Staff Officer and Assistant Adjutant General Colonel Henry Douglas Mackenzie.

 
From Captain Antill
Commanding New South Wales Mounted Rifles
To the Assistant Adjutant General
New South Wales Forces

Ramah (12 miles East Orange River Station)
8 February 1900

Sir
My last advice to you was from Houwater from which place I returned to Prieska on January 27th with a mounted column under Colonel Alderman command from De Aar consisting of the 20th Battery Royal Horse Artillery, 2 Companies (The Eastern and York) Mounted Infantry 2 companies South African (now changed to "Roberts Horse") Horse and 1 mounted section machine guns. The large number of the enemy which occupied the town on my departure we found had recrossed the river which had suddenly risen and the place was found empty. The column again left Priesker for Orange River by route march on January 30th at 2 am a distance of 100 miles where it arrived on February 2nd. The major part of it proceeded to Modder on the 4th and my Squadron to Ramah a post 12 miles east on the Orange River, having the Queensland Mounted Infantry 7 miles north west at Reit Fontein and the 14th Hussars (1 Squadron) and two 15 pounders at the drift at Zoutpaier 7 miles further east. These three posts to clear the vicinity of the enemy and guard against the advance of the enemy who are supposed to be occupying several strong laagers on our front.

On the 6th I made a reconnaissance to a cluster of Copjies 10 miles north east east of Ramah across a large plain and there surprised a small outpost of 12 Boers who retired precipitously on our approach to a laager which was very strongly occupied about 1 mile further east: was unable to get within range although shots were exchanged at long range with what result is no known on their side. Our casualties nil. Burned the post and two large houses belonging to the enemy and took 42 horses and 12 cattle, returning to camp after a long day of 12 hours. These horses of which 20 were suitable were mostly good sorts and I am now engaged in breaking them to fill casualties in the way of sick and unfit. The General Officer Commanding Orange River yesterday informed me by messenger that he is very pleased with the result of the reconnaissance. It is very difficult to secure prisoners. The Boers imbeds in very strong positions with good cover retire very quickly from Copje to Copje and with the small force under my command, it is unsafe to follow unless the country here is fairly open. Most of the Squadrons and Companies have Maxims or one or two guns to assist and find these adjuncts very useful. Am therefore at a disadvantage in this respect. I anticipate being left here for a week or so and then moved to the front at Modder. Our Colonial horses cut up a good deal as previously reported on the very rough country and those taken from the Boers though small are admittedly adapted to this work.

One of my men (Waterson) has contracted enteric which is very prevalent just now and in hospital in Cape Town there are also 5 other men in hospital chiefly slight attacks of fever and one sunstroke but nothing serious.

The discipline of the unit is everything which can be desired and in my opinion, from observation, is far before that of others than Colonial troops. As a case in point en route Colonel Alderson placed the towns in which liquor could be procured, out of bounds to the remainder of the column: allowing me to use my own discretion: I have had no trouble at all: And this officer on more than one occasion complemented the unit on its exemplary conduct and on the manner in which the field duties were carried out: Infantry seem of little use and are not used except in occupying fixed positions and the Imperial Mounted Infantry appear to be not used to the bush work. Occasionally one comes a man or 2 who has lost himself quite close to his own Troop: Our clothing is mostly in rags, and it is difficult to procure any out of stores there being, with unexpected demand a great drain upon all stores: We have had lots of fresh meat from the looted stock and as the Imperial ration is small have done well: The horses however cannot do on the scale and I have had to ask for additional. All that is allowed is 6lb mealies 6lb chaff (straw). Mules can do on this also country horses but our larger horses must have 50% more to work upon.

The sick are:

Sergeant Gilfillan - Sun (slight)
Private McGregor - Epileptic 
Private Waterson - Enteric
Private Maples - Fever (slight)
Corporal Bateup - Dysentery

Your obedient servant
JM Antill, Captain
Commanding Mounted Rifles Unit.  

 

 

Previous:  Antill Letter, 22 January 1900

Next:  Antill Letter, 22 March 1900

 

War Diaries and Letters

All War Diaries and letters cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy 

 

 

Further Reading:

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron, Roll of Honour

Boer War, 1899 - 1902

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: "A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 8 February 1900

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 3 May 2011 1:41 PM EADT
Thursday, 27 November 2003
"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 22 March 1900
Topic: BW - NSW - NSWMR_A

A Sqn NSWMR

"A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles

Antill Letter, 22 March 1900

 

Antill Letter, 22 March 1900

 

The following transcript is of a letter written by Captain John Macquarie Antill, Officer Commanding the New South Wales Mounted Rifles contingent to South Africa to the New South Wales Chief Staff Officer and Assistant Adjutant General Colonel Henry Douglas Mackenzie.

 
Bloemfontein
22 March 1900

The Assistant Adjutant General
Sydney

Sir

My last was written from Abraham's Kraal from which place we moved by two night marches to our present camp 4 miles west of the town, where it is understood we remain for 2 or 3 weeks for remounts and to rest the horses, which are in the lowest condition from the little or no rations available for the past month. Yesterday full rations were issued for man and beast for the first time, but the horses are in such a reduced state, that with the cold weather coming on that it is doubtful whether they will show much improvement for some time. The following men, Privates Spearing, Sharpe H, Pearse, Miller and Kirkland have gone to hospital it is feared suffering from Enteric, the result no doubt of the polluted water at Paardeberg. These dropped en route sick, viz, Symonds, Bateup, Gosper, Trevitt and Potts have not yet reported so I am unable to say if yet discharged. The six wounded are also in the lines of communication but doing well. The discipline of all ranks is excellent and their work everything which can be desired. Captain Osborne (late Queanbeyan)) has been serving as a Captain in the Irregular Horse, Natal, this corps is mustering out and he was asking for a commission with me. As Lieutenant Lee has gone to the Mounted Infantry and Lieutenant Tooth hears from England of his early appointment to the Imperial Service, I will be glad to have this Officer's services and ask for approval of his appointment as Lieutenant. My officers Lieutenant Maclean and Onslow give me every assistance and I am glad to be able to give the very best reports of them. A lot of sickness such as enteric and dysentery is showing amongst all troops, the latter being very common. I cabled the death of Abrahams last week to General Officer Commanding.

Your Obedient Servant
JM Antill
Commanding NSWMR   

 

 

Previous:  Antill Letter, 12 March 1900

Next:  Antill Letter, 15 April 1900

 

War Diaries and Letters

All War Diaries and letters cited on this site should be read in conjunction with the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy which may be accessed at:

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, War Diaries and Letters, Site Transcription Policy 

 

 

Further Reading:

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron

New South Wales Mounted Rifles, "A" Squadron, Roll of Honour

Boer War, 1899 - 1902

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: "A" Squadron, NSW Mounted Rifles, Antill Letter, 22 March 1900

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 3 May 2011 1:52 PM EADT

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