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''Go little Booke, God graunt thou none offende, 
For so meant hee which sought to set thee foorth, 
And when thou commest where souldiours seem to wend. 
Submit thyselfe as writte but little woorth: 
Confesse withall, that thou hast bene too bolde, 
To speake so plaine of Haughtie hartes in place. 
And say that he which wrote thee coulde haue tolde 
Full many a tale, of blouds that were not base. 

My meaning is no more but to declare. 

That Haughtie hartes do spend their time in vaine, 

Which follow wan-es and bring themselues in snare 

Of sundrie ylls, and many a pinching paine, 

Whiles if they list to occupie their braine 

In other feates with lesser toile ygot, 

They might haue &me, whenas they haue it not. 

As first [percase] you skipt Philosophie, 

That noble skill which doth surmount the rest, 

Wherto if you had tied your memorie, 

Then bruntes of warre had never bruzde your brest. 

Yet had our name bene blazde, and you bene blest. 

Aske Aristotle if I speake amis, 

Fewe souldiours' &me can greater be than his.'' 









Introduction . . . . . . . . xv 

PART I— 1900 


Consequent Eviction of Families, told by Proclamations, Official 
Notices, Despatches, Soldiers' and Officers' Letters, War Corre- 
spondents, showing State of the Country . . . . i 


WOMEN IN 1900 

Sketch of their Experiences early in the War, told chiefly in their 

Letters and by Friends — Mrs. Hertzc^s Story . . .46 



Feeling aroused and expressed in Cape Colony— Relief started there 

and in England . . . . ■ • • • 9^ 



PART II— 1901 




Described from the same Sources as above — Reprisals of Boers 
threatened — Kitchener determines to sweep the entire Country — 
His Success ........ 95 



January to June 1901 — Sketch of Work, and Reasons for Return Home 1 14 



June to December — Agitation and Opposition — Mr. Brodrick's Con- 
cessions — Commission appointed — Increased Mortality — Mr. 
Chamberlain's Reforms ...... 126 



Described by Friends (UnofiElcially) — Endorsed by Passages from Blue 

Books — Lizzie Van Zyl's Story , . . . . 165 


WOMEN IN 1 901 

Told by Themselves in Letters and Petitions — Captures, Evictions, 
Convoy Travelling, Destitution, and Life in Camps — Supported by 
Blue Books ........ 216 


PART III— 1902 



Debates — Official Reasons — Issue of Ladies' Report — Decreasing 

Death-Rate — Condition of Women on the Veld — Peace . . 286 


WOMEN IN 1902 

Letters showing Appreciation of Reforms effected . . . 296 



Outline of Character and Temperament — Present Need . • 313 


A. Rations ........ 319 

B. Mortality Lists ....... 327 

C. Lists of Farms Burnt ...... 347 

D. Native Camps ....... 350 

£. Date of Establishment of Camps, shown by a Map . 356 



Occupants and Furniture of One Cell Tent soon after 


Camp Huts, 1901 ....... 164 

The Last of Seven. Irene, 1901 . . . . .166 

**We are Orphans and Fatherless, our Mothers are as 

Widows" (Lam. v. 3) . . . . . .173 

Johanna van Warmelo, one of the Devoted Band of 

Pretoria Volunteer Nurses . . . .179 

Feeling the Brunt of the War, 1901 . . . ,186 

School Children at Irene, Nov. 1901 .... 284 

Cooking in Camp, 1901 . ... . . . 297 

A Camp Garden bordered with Milk Tins . . . 298 



Art. XLIV, — Any compulsion of the population of occupied 

territory to take part in military operations 
against its own country is prohibited. 

Art. XLV. — ^Any pressure on the population of occupied 

territory to take the oath to the hostile 
power is prohibited. 

Art. XLVI, — Family honour and rights, individual Uves and 

property, as well as religious convictions and 
liberty, must be respected. Private property 
cannot be confiscated. 

Art. XLVII. — Pillage is formally prohibited. 

Art. L. — No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, can 

be inflicted on the population, on account 
of the acts of individuals for which it cannot 
be r^;arded as collectively responsible. 


"As the object of war is confined to disabling the enemy, the infliction of 
any injuries beyond that which is required to produce disability is needless 

''The general principle is that in the mode of carrying on war no greater 
harm shall be done to the enemy than necessity requires for the purpose of 
bringing him to terms. This principle excludes gratuitous barbarities, and 
every description of cruelty and insult, which serves only to exasperate the 
sofferings or to increase the hatred of the enemy without weakening his 
strength or tending to procure his submission.' 




THIS book is designed to give an outline of the recent war, 
from the standpoint of the women and children. There 
is no fear of aggravating a controversy amongst the Boers 
by its publication, for it will add nothing to their knowledge; 
these facts and many more are already well known in South 
Africa. But, so far, little has been heard in England of the farm- 
burning and the camps, from the side of those most concerned. 
The story is therefore largely told in the letters of women and in 
descriptions written by their friends. On them fell the brunt of 
the war. More adult Boers perished in the camps than fell in the 
field of battle, and over four times as many children. A sketch is 
given of the history and extent of farm-burning, to demonstrate 
how wide was the eviction of families, and how powerless they 
were in the grasp of circumstances. The comments put forward 
by all parties on its policy and on that of concentration are 
recorded. My own connection with the movement is shortly 
described, as well as the opposition aroused by my efforts to 
lessen the hardships and save the lives of the women and 
children. \ 

I take also this opportunity of publicly den3dng the accusation, 
so widely made in the Press and elsewhere, that I have slandered 
the British troops. No one has yet substantiated this accusation 
from my words or writings.^ I have, on the contrary, done my 
utmost to uphold the honour of the army. It is true that as long 
as war exists the honour of a country is confided to its soldiers, 

^ See Blue Book, Cd. 1163, 1902, p. 109. " Mr. G. H. Turvey expressed 
astonishment at persons like Sir H. Campbell Bannerman and Miss Uobhouse 
slandering, without foundation, men fighting for the honour of old England." — 
Public Meeting at Ladybrand, " On Vile Fabrications and Slanders." 



who will never cease to shield it ; but is not the converse also 
true, and is it not often forgotten ? viz. that the honour of the 
soldiers is confided to the country ? If advantage is taken of the 
necessary obedience of soldiers to demand of them services out- 
side the recognised rules of warfare, or in performance of which 
their moral duty must clash with their professional duty, the 
blame lies on the country and its Government but not upon the 

In these pages it is no part of my object to cast blame on 
any individual, but I have striven simply to portray the sufferings 
of the weak and the young with truth and moderation. 

To the plain man and woman, outside the political and 
military worlds, it seems as though in war an arbitrary line is 
drawn, one side of which is counted barbarism, the other civilisa- 
tion. May it not be that, in reality, all war is barbarous, varying 
only in degree ? History shows that as nations have advanced in 
civilisation this line has gradually been raised, and watchful care 
is needed lest it slip back. None of us can daim to be wholly 
civilised till we have drawn the line above war itself and 
established universal arbitration in place of universal armaments. 

The deaths of the Boer children will not have been in vain if 
their blood shall prove to be the seed of this higher rule of nations. 
Their innocent histories ought to become fully known and widely 
understood, and so implant a hatred of war and a shrinking from 
its horrors, which shall issue in a ripened determination amongst 
the kingdoms of the world to settle future differences by methods 
more worthy of civilised men. 

My thanks are due to Mr. Alfred Marks, for a detailed and 
careful compilation of the rates of mortality. 


PART I.— 1900 


" The tramp of Power, and its long trail of pain/' — ^William Watson. 

AFTER Lord Roberts had arrived in South Africa and had 
assumed command, he issued early in February the 
well-known First Proclamation. The success of this 
document depended upon the power of the occupying army 
to hold and protect the country which it entered, and upon 
carefully distinguishing between the few individuals who abused 
its terms and the many who did not. It was a familiar topic in 
the Concentration Camps, where it was constantly quoted in a 
dreary, puzzled way by countless women, who, unconscious of 
having ever abused its leniency, could not understand why its 
promises were disregarded. The proclamation is given in full, 
as upon it hung so much for good or ill 

First Proclamation of Lord Roberts to Burghers 

OF Orange Free State. 

*^ Feb, 1900. 

" The British troops under my command having entered the 
Orange Free State, I feel it my duty to make known to all 
Burghers the cause of our coming, as well as to do all in my 
power to put an end to the devastation caused by this war, 
so that, should they continue the war, the inhabitants of the 
Orange Free State may not do so ignorantly, but with full 
knowledge of their responsibility before God for the lives lost 
in the campaign. 

" Before the war began the British Government, which had 
always desired and cultivated peace and friendship with the 
people of the Orange Free State, gave a solemn assurance to 
President Steyn that, if the Orange Free State remained 
neutral, its territory would not be invaded, and its independ- 
ence would be at all times fully respected by Her Majesty's 

" In spite of that declaration, the Government of the Orange 
Free State was guilty of a wanton and unjustifiable invasion of 
British territory. 

"The British Government believes that this act of aggression 
was not committed with the general approval and free will of a 
people with whom it has lived in complete amity for so many 
years. It believes that the responsibility rests wholly with the 
Government of the Orange Free State, acting, not in the interests 
of the country, but under mischievous influences from without. 
The British Government, therefore, wishes the people of the 
Orange Free State to understand that it bears them no ill-will, 
and, as far as is compatible with the successful conduct of the 
war, and the re-establishment of peace in South Africa, it is 
anxious to preserve them from the evils brought upon them by 
the wrongful action of their Government. 

"I therefore warn all Burghers to desist from any further 
hostihty towards Her Majesty's Government and the troops 
under my command, and I undertake that any of them who 
may so desist, and who are found staying in their homes and 
quietly pursuing their ordinary occupations, will not be made 
to suffer in their persons or property on account of their having 
taken up arms in obedience to the order of their Government. 
Those, however, who oppose the forces under my command, or 
furnish the enemy with supplies or information, will be dealt with 
according to the customs of war, 

" Requisitions for food, forage, fuel, or shelter, made on the 
authority of the Officers in command of Her Majesty's troops, 
must be at once complied with ; but everything will be paid for 
on the spot, prices being regulated by the local market rates. 
If the inhabitants of any district refuse to comply with the 
demands made on them, the supplies will be taken by force, 
a full receipt being given. 

" Should any inhabitant of the country consider that he 
or any member of his household has been unjustly treated by 
any Officer, soldier, or civilian attached to the British Army, he 
should submit his complaint, either personally or in writing, to 
my Headquarters or to the Headquarters of the nearest General 


Officer. Should the complaint, on mquiryy be substantiated, 
redress will be given. 

" Orders have been issued by me, prohibiting soldiers from 
entering private houses, or molesting the civil population on any 
pretext whatever, and every precaution has been taken against 
injury to property on the part of any person belonging to, or 
connected with, the Army." 

But already, it appears, complaints had been made that 
soldiers had entered private houses and molested the civil 
population. A month earlier a Reuter's telegram had stated 
that "General Babington's party, in a short excursion of twelve 
miles into the Free State, came upon three Boer farmsteads, 
and these they destroyed with dynamite and fire. The home- 
steads on Zwiegler's Farm, and two belonging to Lubbe, the 
Commandant of the local commando, were burnt, having been 
used as camps by the enemy." ^ Mr. Conan Doyle alluded to 
the same incident when he wrote : " Methuen's cavalry on January 
9th made another raid over the Free State border, which is 
remarkable for the fact that, save in the case of Colonel Plumer's 
Rhodesian Force, it was the first time that the enemy's frontier 
had been violated. The expedition under Babington consisted 
of the same regiments and the same battery which had covered 
Pilcher's advance. . . . With the aid of a party of the Victorian 
Mounted Rifles, a considerable tract of country was overrun and 
some farmhouses destroyed. The latter extreme measure may 
have been taken as a warning to the Boers that such depredations 
as they had carried out in parts of Natal could not pass with 
impunity, but both the policy and the humanity of such a course 
appear to be open to question, and there was some cause for the 
remonstrance which President Kruger shortly after addressed to 
us upon the subject." ^ 

This protest from the Presidents ran as follows : — 

" We learn from many sides that the British troops, contrary 
to the recognised usages of war, are guilty of the destruction by 
burning and blowing up with dynamite of farmhouses, of the 
devastation of farms and the goods therein, whereby unprotected 
women and children are often deprived of food and cover. 

" This happens not only in the places where barbarians are 
encouraged by British officers, but even in the Cape Colony and 
in this State, where white brigands come out from the theatre 

^ Reuter's Special Service, Jan. ii, 1900. From Pen Pictures of the 
War, p. 218. 

* Great Boer War, chap. xii. p. 202. 


of war with the evident intention of carrying out a genera! 
devastation, without any reason recognised by the customs of 
war, and without in any way furthering the operations. 
■ " We wish earnestly to protest against such acts." ^ 

It was during the last days of December 1899 and the 
first of January 1900 that the burning of farms began, Lubbes- 
bock, the residence of Commandant Lubhe, being one of the 
earliest destroyed. The Commander-in-Chief, who was still in 
Cape Town, and who had probably heard nothing of this pre- 
liminary destiuction, replied two days later asking for particulars 
and referring to depredations in Cape Colony, In this despatch 
he emphasises the principle that it is barbarous to attempt to 
force men to take sides against their own Sovereign and country. 
"Cape Town, Feb. 5, 1900. 

"I beg to acknowledge your Honours' telegram charging 
the British troops with the destruction of property contrary to 
the recognised usages of war, and with brigandage and devasta- 
tion. These chaises are made in vague and general terms. No 
Specific case is mentioned and no evidence given. 

" I have seen such chaises made before now in the Press, but 
in no case which has come under my notice have they been 
substantiated. The most stringent instructions have been 
issued to the British troops to respect private property, as far as 
is compatible with the conduct of military operations. All 
wanton destruction or mjury to peaceful inhabitants is contrary 
to British practice and tradition, and will if necessary be rigorously 
repressed by me. 

"I regret that your Honours should have seen fit to repeat 
the untrue statement that 'barbarians have been encouraged 
by British otKcers' to commit depredations. In the only case 
in which a raid has been perpetrated by native subjects of the 
Queen, the act was contrary to the instructions of the British 
officer nearest to the spot, and entirely disconcerted his opera- 
tions. The women and children taken prisoners by the natives 
were restored to their homes by the agency of the British oflScer 
in question. 

" I regret to say that it is the Republican forces which have 
in some cases been guilty of carrying on the war in a manner 
not in accordance with civilised usage. I refer especially to the 
expulsion of loyal subjects of Her Majesty from their homes in 
the invaded districts of this Colony, because they refused to be 
commandeered by the invader. It is barbarous to attempt to 
' Cd. 583 (190). Bloemfontein, Feb, 3, 19CX). 


force men to take sides against their own Sovereign and country 
by threats of spoliation and expulsion. Men, women, and children 
have had to leave their homes owing to such compulsion, and 
many of those who were formerly in comfortable circumstances 
are now being maintained by charity. 

" That a war should inflict hardships and injury on peaceful 
inhabitants is inevitable, but it is the desire of Her Majesty's 
Government, and it is my intention, to conduct this war with as 
little injury as possible to peaceable inhabitants and to private 
property, and I hope your Honours will exercise your authority 
to ensure its being conducted in a similar spirit on your side." 

A few days later he added a postcript to this despatch — 

''Feb, 12. 
" In continuation of my telegram of the 5th February, I beg 
to call your Honours* attention to the wanton destruction of 
property by the Boer forces in Natal. They not only have 
helped themselves freely to the cattle and other property of 
farmers without payment, but they have utterly wrecked the 
contents of many farmhouses. As an instance I would specify 
Mr. Theodore Wood's farm, *Longwood,' near Springfield. I 
point out how very different is the conduct of the British troops. 
It is reported to me from Modder River that farms within the 
actual area of the British Camp have never even been entered, 
the occupants are unmolested, and their houses, gardens, and 
crops remain absolutely untouched." 

In reply to these two telegrams a long despatch was sent by 
the Boer Presidents. For some reason, not explained, their 
telegram does not appear in the Blue Book from which the 
foregoing despatches are taken.^ I therefore give it in full 
Specific cases asked for by Lord Roberts are given, and it deals 
with other matters closely connected with the fate of women 
and children. 


" From State President Orange Free State, and State President 
of the South African Republic. Sent from Bloemfontein at 
9.20. p.m. 19th February 1900. To His Excellency Lord 
Roberts, Cape Town, 19th February.^ We have the honour to 
acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's telegram of 5 th 
inst. The specific cases of needless destruction of properties ^' 
by British troops are so numerous that we consider, with all due 

^^Cd. 582(1901). 
' ' Reply to Nos. 2 and 3 in Cd« 582 (1901), but not published there. 


deference, that on inquiry the accuracy of the complaint would 
at once become manifest. 

"To quote but a few cases out of many : several farmhouses 
have been destroyed near the Jacobsdal boundary, amongst 
others : Commandant Luhbe's residence on his farm Lubbeshoclt, 
and those of his brothers and brothers-in-law on \Veltevreden, 
Karulaagte, du Toitsheuvel, and Badenhorstoest vpere totally 
destroyed by British patrols late in December. On the farm 
Gteuspan of D. Combrink the furniture was destroyed and a 
part burnt, and the dwelling-house was practically blown up by 
dynamite on the 4th January. 

", Altogether we received official information during December 
and January of eighteen houses wholly or partially burnt or 
destroyed, in the Jacobsdal district alone. At Bloemdraai, on 
Orange River, the dwelling-house was destroyed in December 
and everything carried away out of it by British patrols. In the 
beginning of this month stili, the house of Klein Frans van der 
Merve was similarly burnt by one of your patrols coming from 
the direction of Ramah. These cases are far from being the 
only ones. 

" With regard to our complaints that barbaria ns are encouraged 
by British officers to make attacks on Republican burgher forces, 
your Excellency quotes one of the instances, but, as it seems to 
us, without having been properly informed about the facts by 
your subordinates. The correctness of the allegation can he 
substantiated by good witnesses in spite of the denial of the 
probably guilty parties, 

" We beg to state, moreover, that we have in custody as 
prisoners of war two natives, both caught with arms in their 
hands fighting amongst the British troops against us. The 
one was made prisoner at Stormberg on loth December. He 
went on firing at our burghers and wounded one of them, 
named Adriaan Greyling of Smithfield, after the white flag had 
been put up by the troops in token of surrender, as he could 
, well see. The other Kaffir is one of many who are fighting 
against our burghers in the vicinity of Dordrecht.^ Not only 
at the attack at Derdepoort, on the boundary of Rustenburg, 
did natives, led by British officers, fight against our burghers 
and commit terrible crimes against our non-combatant women 
and children, whereby two women were murdered and houses 

' It is slated that in theiratlack on DerdepooTt, Nov. 25, 1899, ihe Baliathla 
captured seventeen women and cliildren, and two women were murdered, \iz. 
Mrs. Pielers, an American wife of the storekeeper, and Anna M. M. Fourie. 
See Bxr Ftghtfor Freedom, chap. xv. By M, Dovitt. 


were destroyed and burnt in the South African Republic, but in 
many other instances also, as at Tuli, Selukwe, and Mafeking, 
natives were egged on and used by British officers to fight against 
our burghers or to take up arms, as will, amongst others, appear 
from the following official communication. The Mafeking Mail 
of loth November states: *The following official despatch was 
issued on the 4th November. The Colonial contingent under 
Captain Goodyear has done splendid service to-day in occupying 
a position at the brick-fields. The contingent, though opposed 
to a withering fire, maintained its position, and was supported in a 
capital manner by the Fingo contingent under Mr. David Webster.' 

" It also appears most clearly from official telegrams found in 
the English camp at Dundee that strong endeavours have been 
made by the British Government to enlist Basutos, against 
payment of five shillings per day, for military purposes : en- 
deavours which have been successful in many instances. 

" With regard to your Excellency's counter accusations 
against our burgher forces, it may be permitted us to point 
out that they are so undefined and vague that we are thereby 
precluded from either being enabled to investigate the same 
or replying thereto and giving explanations, possibly, of the 
instances to which reference is made. We unhesitatingly accept 
your Excellency's assurance as to your instructions issued to the 
British troops regarding the subject under discussion, and we 
cherish the hope that thereby the desired results may be attained 
for the future. We also wish to assure you that the like instruc- 
tions have long ago already been issued on our side, and that if 
such should prove necessary will be stringently enforced. 

"With regard to the sending away of certain of Her 
Majesty's subjects from their dwellings to beyond the lines 
of those parts of the country occupied by our burgher forces, 
we can affirm to your Excellency that the instances where 
such — and that only quite recently — has occurred, it was 
necessary in the interest of our military operations, as in all 
instances there was at least strong presumption existing that 
they did not behave themselves quietly and occupy themselves 
solely with their daily avocations, but either themselves acted 
as spies or assisted spies to make our movements and positions 
known to the enemy. We regret the inconvenience and loss 
suffered by them, but we feel convinced that they themselves 
were the cause of it by their conduct. If any case be brought 
to our notice where a peaceable inhabitant of the parts occupied 
by us has been hardly or unjustly dealt by, we shall at once see 
to it that the sufferer shall have justice done him, as happened 


in a case brought to our notice of a certain Mr. Diebel, whose 
Sock of sheep was conHscated on suspicion of being intended 
for use of our enemy's troops in Kimberley, and to whom, on 
reasonably acceptable explanation being forthcoming, rebutting 
the suspicion, full compensation was made. 

"The foregoing communication was ready for transmission 
when we received your Excellency's supplementary telegram of 
the 1 2th inst. We have caused an investigation to be instituted 
on the allegations therein made, and will send further communi- 
cation as soon as we shall have received report." 

To this despatch Lord Roberts sent t 
a4th of February — 

short reply c 


"Paardbburg Camp, 3.45 p.m. Fit. 24, 1900, 
(Received Pretoria 8.39a.m. Fti. iS.) 

" I beg to acknowledge receipt of your Honours' telegram of 
the iglh February, in which you complain of certain acts alleged 
to have been committed by the British troops, and in reply to 
acquaint you that it is impossible to inquire into these cases in 
I the field after the lapse of so long a time since they are said to 
have occurred. I, however, am fully convinced that no wilful 
destruction of property by Her Majesty's forces has taken place 
except such as was absolutely necessary for mihtary purposes. 
In some cases where the Republican forces have threatened or 
violated native territory under British protection it has been 
found necessary to arm the natives to defend themselves, but I 
feel sure in no case have armed natives been employed in military 
operations with the Imperial forces. I am of opinion that such 
complaints as these would be much more satisfactorily inquired 
mto if made by the military commander on the spot to the 
military commander opposite to him." 

The destruction of property by the Boers in Natal, and 
especially of the contents of the farm " Longwood," to which 
Lord Roberts called attention, was not apparently inquired into 
as promised by the Boer officials, no doubt owing to the rapid 
advance of the English forces which immediately followed. 
That case, and others of a similar nature, though not so widely 
advertised, were, however, carefully investigated by Mr. Robertson 
during his visit to Natal, and clearly shown by him to have been 
mainly the work of natives, though begun by Boers and completed 
by British troops. '^ 

The otBcial return of estimated damage done by the Boers in 

' Sec Wricking the Empire, cbap. Ixvii. etc. By J, M, Robertson, 


eleven Natal districts amounts to ;^32,i38, 13s. This is the joint 
claim of 285 Europeans.^ It does not appear that any farm was 
burnt by the commandoes during the first invasion of Natal. 

From these despatches we learn that before February 
eighteen farms in the Jacobsdal district alone, besides two near 
Rustenburg, had been burnt An equal number of families were 
therefore homeless, and others, frightened at the thought of a 
similar fate, piled their waggons with goods and fled to the fast- 
nesses of the hills. Here they formed small laagers, protected 
by old men and boys. During the months of February and 
March, after Lord Roberts had joined the army, there seems to 
have been a lull, and a more settled feeling ensued, consequent 
on his influence and on the effects of the First Proclamation. 

The day after the occupation of Bloemfontein, a proclamation 
was issued to the rank and file of the fighting burghers.^ 

" All Burghers who have not taken a prominent part in the 
policy which has led to the war between Her Majesty and the 
Orange Free State, or commanded any forces of the Republic, 
or commandeered or used violence to any British subjects, and 
who are willing to lay down their arms at once, and to bind them- 
selves to an oath to abstain from further participation in the war, 
will be given passes to allow them to return to their homes, and 
will not be made prisoners of war, nor will their property be 
taken from them." 

It is a matter of common knowledge that this system of 
giving and taking an oath failed in its accomplishment and the 
results of its failure fell hard on the women and children.^ The 
English forces could not effectively occupy the country, and 
returning commandoes exercised their legal rights to compel 
burghers to join their ranks or be considered traitors. The 
next step, on the reappearance of the English troops, was 
the eviction of the family and the burning of the house as 
that of a man who had broken his oath. Moreover, the oath, 
nominally one of neutrality, was not always so considered in 
practice, and here was wide opening for misunderstanding. 
The people interpreted the word literally as meaning giving 
no help to either side; but constantly they found themselves 
punished because they did not report to one side the presence 
of the other upon their farms. Such a case in one of its many 
ramifications is that of Mr. Gideon De Wet, who has in conse- 
quence been undergoing two years hard labour as a convict 

* Cd. 979 (1902). 2 Pjoc^ iii^^ Bloemfontein, March 15, I9cx>. 

• For form of oath see Cd. 426, xli. (1900). 



while his wife and family pined in Bloemfontein Camp. On 
this account nia.ny homes were destroyed and many families 
rendered destitute. 

Very little was heard in England of the farm-burning till 
May, by which time the accounts of war correspondents and 
private soldiers began to fill the papers, showing how general it 
had become. A few examples are given. The first, a letter 
from Private Slanton, must have been written in the early spring, 
being reprinted from the Sydney Telegraph. 

" Within 800 yards of the farm we halted, and the infantry 
blazed a volley into the house. Then we marched up to it, 
and on arrival found it locked up and not a soul to be seen, 
so we broke open the place and went in. It was beautifully 
furnished, and the officers got several things they could make 
use of, such as bedding, etc. There was a lovely library- — books of 
all descriptions printed in Dutch and English. I secured a Bible, 
also a Mauser rifle. . . . After getting all we wanted out of it, 
our men put a charge under the house and blew it up. It seemed 
such a pity. It was a lovely house with a nice garden round it," ' 

The Times correspondent, writing from Bloemfontein April 
the 27th, says — 

" This column (General Carew's) had started with definite 
instructions from Lord Roberts 'to render untenable' the farms 
of such men who, having surrendered, were found to be still in 
league with the enemy, or were but making use of British 
magnanimity as a means to save their property, while they still 
actively favoured the enemy." ^ 

And that these orders were liberally interpreted seems clear 
firom the account of Mr. E. W. Smith, correspondent oiih&Morning 
Leader, dated April 29 — 

" General French and General Pole-Carew, at the head of the 
Guards and 18th Brigade, are marching in, burning practically 
everything on the road. The brigade is followed by about 3500 
head of loot, cattle and sheep. Hundreds of tons of corn and 
forage have been destroyed. The troops engaged in the work 
are Roberts' Horse, the Canadians and Australians. I hear to- 
day that General Rundle burnt his way up to Dewetsdorp. At 
one farm only women were left. Still rifles were found under 
the mattress. Orders were inexorable. The woman threw her 
arms round the officer's neck, and begged that the homestead 
might be spared. When the flames burst from the doomed 
place, the poor woman threw herself on her knees, lore open her 

' Riyueld^ Newspaper, May 27, 1900, Letter from Frigate Stanlon, 
N.S.W. Contingent, " rivms, Mayzi, 1900. 


bodice, and bared her breasts, screatoing, ' Shoot me, shoot me ! 
I've nothing more to live for, now that my husband is gone, and 
our fJEirm is burnt, and our cattle taken ! ' " 

Mr. Filson Young, author of the Relief of Mafeking^ describes 
an afternoon's work of this nature, and questions the wisdom of 
such methods — 

** Dry Harts Siding, May 8. 

" The burning of houses that has gone on this afternoon has 
been a most unpleasant business. We have been marching 
through a part of the country where some mischievous person 
has been collecting and encouraging insurgents, and this after- 
noon, in the course of about ten miles, we have burned no fewer 
than six farmhouses. Care seems to have been taken that there 
was proper evidence against the absent owner, and in no case 
were people actually burned-out of their homes ; but in one most 
melancholy case the wife of an insurgent, who was lying sick at 
a friend's farm, watched from her sick husband's bedside the 
burning of her home a hundred yards away. I cannot think that 
punishment need take this wild form ; it seems as though a kind 
of domestic murder were being committed while one watches 
the roof and the furniture of a house blazing. I stood till late 
last night before the red blaze, and saw the flames lick round 
each piece of the poor furniture — ^the chairs and tables, the baby's 
cradle, the chest of drawers containing a world of treasure ; and 
when I saw the poor housewife's face pressed against the window 
of the neighbouring house, my own heart burned with a sense of 
outrage. The effect on those of the Colonial troops, who in ^ 
carrying out these orders of destruction are gratifying their feel- \ 
ings of hatred and revenge, is very bad. Their discipline is far 
below that of the Imperial troops, and they soon get out of hand. 
They swarm into the house, looting and destroying and filling 
the air with high-sounding cries of vengeance, and yesterday 
they were complaining bitterly that a suspected house, against 
the owner of which there was not sufficient evidence, was not 
delivered into their hands. Further, if these farms are to be 
confiscated, as the more vindictive loyalists desire, and given 
over to settlers, why burn the houses ? The new occupant will 
only have to build another homestead, and building is a serious 
matter where wood and the means of dressing stone are so very 
scarce as here. The ends achieved are so small — simply an 
exhibition of power and punishment, which, if it be really 
necessary, could be otherwise inflicted; and the evils, as one 
sees them on the spot, are many." ^ 

^ See Manchester Guardian. 



Reuter's tel^rams during the moiitli of May are full of the 
destruction of farms for one reason or another. In many cases 
abuse of the white flag was the reason assigned. On this point 
there seems to have been continual misunderstanding on both 
sides. No doubt there were occasional instances of its abuse, 
but more often a shot coming from no one knew where, and 
fired by no one knew who, was enough, without investigation, to 
condemn the nearest farm where women and children were living 
under the protection of the white flag. Such a case appears to 
have been that of Christian Richter's house referred to in 
subsequent despatches, and described by Mr. E. W. Smith of 
the Morning Leader, who was with General Pole-Carew and 
General French. 

"Two white flags were displayed over the house of Christian 
Richter; a shot was fired at random. 

"The first sight which met my gaze was that of a score of 
men, some with their feet on^the necks of turkeys, ducks, and 
fowls. Quicker than it takes me to tell the story, the women 
and children had been discovered in an outhouse; several 
troopers were occupied pouring paraffin about the flooring and 
walls of the house. Within five minutes the dwelling was ablaze. 
Still the womenfolk rushed in and out, trying to save what they 

That hundreds of families were rendered homeless thus early 
in the war is certain, and the fact is implied in the pregnant 
sentence written at this time by the special correspondent of 
the Daily Chronick : "From end to end the Orange River 
Colony now lies ruined and starving." ' There were, however, 
some districts which did not suffer till later. 

The Government Return on farm-burning only begins, it 
will be remembered, with the month of June, and does not 
include any of the destruction described above by so many 
pens. It was, however, sufficiently apparent to the enemy, 
for in the middle of May General De Wet addressed one of 
his brief despatches to Lord Roberts.^ 

"19th May. Your Excellency's telegram C. 1575. Justice 
to his Honour the Stale President of the Orange Free State. I 
have the honour to reply to your Excellency's proclamation of 
26th March. I have noted contents. I trust that the troops 
under your Excellency's command who have acted or will act 
in opposition to said Proclamation will be heavily punished. 
> Dated May 28. = Cd. 582. 


For your Excellencjr's information, I have been permitted to 
bring to your notice the following farms and others, which have 
been destroyed by troops under your Excellency's command, 
i.e., Perzikfontein, belonging to Commandant P. Fourii ; Paardi 
Kiaal, farm of P. Fourii, junior; and Leeuw Kop, farm of 
Christian Richter, all in the District of Bloemfontein. Re the 
other farms your Excellency will know about." 

Lord Roberts' reply gives reasons for the burning in these 
instances, though from Mr. Smith's description of the destruction 
of Richter's farm, which he witnessed, no time to investigate the 
charge of treachery seems to have been allowed. 

"C. 1737, 20th May. Your Honour's telegram of 19th 
instant. I have taken ample measures to ensure the protection 
of public and private property by the troops under my command. 
At Perzikfontein stores of forage were destroyed to prevent 
them falling into the hands of marauding bands which infested 
the district, but the house was not damaged. 

" PaarcU Kraal and Leeuw Kop farms were destroyed under my 
orders, because, while a white flag was flying from the houses, my 
troops were fired upon from the farmsteads. I have had two 
farms near Kroonstad destroyed for similar reasons, and shall 
continue to punish all such cases of treachery by the destruction 
of the farms where they occur." 

The Annexation of the Orange River Colony was formally 
announced on the 24th of May, and on the 31st it was placed 
under Martial Law, " as a temporary measure and until further 
notice ... as such law is understood and administered in British 
territory and by British officers."^ The following day it was 
announced that fighting burghers would be dealt with as rebels. 
" I hereby warn all inhabitants thereof, who after fourteen days 
from the date of this Proclamation may be found in arms against 
Her Majesty within the said colony, that they will be liable to 
be dealt with as rebels and to suffer in person and property 
accordingly." ^ 

Almost immediately followed the order of punishment when | 
public property was damaged, such as railways and telegraph wires. 

"Pretoria, June 16. I . . . warn the said inhabitants and 
principal civil residents that, whenever public property is 
destroyed or injured in the manner specified above, they will be 
held responsible for aiding and abetting the offenders. The 
houses in the vicinity of the place where the damage is done 

^ Cd. 426. ' Proclamation, Cd. 426, xv. Johannesburg, June i, 1900. 

will be buTDt and the principal civil residents will be made 
prisonera of war," 

Within three days, as we read in the Times,^ De Wet's Farm 
near Rhetiosler was burnt, and his family evicted, in pursuance 
of this order issued by Lord Roberts to burn the nearest farm 
wherever the railway or telegraph were damaged.^ It became 
difficult to see how any farm could escape destruction or any 
family homelessness. If a house did not fall within the scope 
of any of the foregoing proclamations, it probably fell under 
the ban of fighting generals or local commandants. Renter 
telegraphed from Maseru that " the Boers who are fighting in the 
Ficksburg district have been informed by General Rundle that 
unless they surrender by the 15th their farms and all their 
possessions will be confiscated."^ 

Foigetting the principle laid down in Lord Roberts' despatch 
of February 5, "It is baibatgus to attempt to force men to 
take sides against their own sovereign and their country by threats 
of spoliation and expulsion," Genera! Rundle issued a notice 
under date June 30, calling upon all farmers to discontinue 
harbouring fighting burghers at night, and to give information 
of their whereabouts under penalty of the confiscation of their 
farms, the cancelUng of payments due, and a heavy fine on 
their property.^ 

A proclamation of sentences passed upon individuals was 
now issued at Eloemfontein. 


"Whereas by Proclamation dated the i6th day of June rgoo of 
Lord Roberts, Field-Marshal, Commanding in Chief Her Majesty's 
Forces in South Africa, it was notified to, and the inhabitants 
and principal civil residents of the Orange River Colony and 
the South African Republic were warned, that whatever wanton 
damage to public property, such as Railways, Bridges, Culverts, 
Telegraph Wires, etc., took place, the houses of persons living in 
the neighbourhood would be burned, inasmuch as such destruction 
could not take place without their knowledge and connivance. 

" Now, therefore, it is hereby notified for general information 
that the following sentences have been passed in connection 
with the destruction of Property, Railways, etc., in the Orange 

" See r<m«, June 25. = Pretoiia, June 19. 

' Times, June 15, 1900. 
* Trommtl, July I. Times, July 3, igoo. 

' South Afrxcaa Nceis, Sepl 5. Ptockmation printed by Argus Company, 
No. 6o2, Bloemfontein. 


River Colony, and have been approved and confirmed by 
Field-Marshal Lord Roberts. 

"The following persons to have their farms burned : " — 

A list of nearly forty persons is given whose farms are to be 
burnt, while many of the same are also fined.^ Not one of these 
appears in the Government Farm-burning Return which covers 
that period — unless indeed the Return is so carelessly prepared 
that initials and names of farms bear no significance. 

Captain Ritchie's notice, published July 9 and modified 
on the 1 6 th, is already well known. 

"Public Notice. 

"It is hereby notified for information, that unless the men at 
present on commando belonging to families in the town and 
district of Krugersdorp surrender themselves and hand in their 
arms to the Imperial authorities by 20th July, the whole of their 
property will be confiscated and their families turned out destitute 
and homeless. 

" By order, 

" G. H. M. Ritchie, 
Capt. K. Horse, Dist. Supt. Police. 
''Krugersdorp, ^hjuly 1900." 


"Public Notice. 

"Notice is hereby given, that unless those persons of the 
town and district of Krugersdorp who are now on commando 
surrender themselves and their arms and ammunition and take 
the oath of neutrality, and further declare stock and supplies in 
their possession, before the 20th July 1900, the whole of their 
stock and supplies is liable to be confiscated. 

" The previous notice in this matter is cancelled. 

" By order, 

" G. H. M. Ritchie, 
Capt. K. Horse, Dist. Supt. Police. 
"Krugersdorp, i6M/«-5k 1900." 

As a result of these two notices, a nucleus was formed which 
developed later into the Krugersdorp Camp. A telegram in the 
Times indicates this. 

^ See Appendix. 

" Keugbrsdorp, Aag. 24. 
" A patrol under Sir R. Colleton of the Welsh Fusiliers came 
into touch with the enemy's scouts to-day. There was no fight- 
ing, h fannltouse was burnt, the owner being away on commando. 
The women and children were brought in here for shelter and 
food. They are being well looked after," • 

Another local order shows that burning and consequent 
eviction might be the penalty for a case of sniping on farms 
which were often wide in extent as an English parish — 

" Bloehfontsin, Oci, 24. 
"O.C, Section.' 
"The General Officer Commanding orders the following to be 
made known to all farmers in the vicinity of your section : — 

" In consequence of a case of sniping which occurred last 
night, he looks to them to co-operate with us in preventing these 
outrages ; they can themselves or through their servants (white 
or black) scour the neighbourhood of their farms any evening. 
It will be his unpleasant duty in the event of a recurrence of 
this sniping to take very strong measures. In no case will the 
nearest farmer be let off without a fine up to ;£'2oo. The 
G.O.C, will decide the amount ; if the fine has no effect in inducing 
the farmers, he will burn the farm nearest the place of sniping, 

"The G.O.C, looks on the failure of the farmer to help as a 
justification of the measures to be taken to prevent this sniping. 
" This should be widely made known. 
"By order, 

" A, H, Maundin, 
Lieut. S.0, to 0,C. Troops," 

Official notes in various places put great pressure on the 
people, and under it a certain proportion succumbed. How hard 
it was for them to withstand must not be forgotten in the future 
by those of their neighbours who took the opposite view. Here 
is an instance of a note given to a quiet woman alone on her 
farm in the Transvaal with three children, her husband a hundred 
miles distant on commando, and sick. 

" From the Commandant, Paardekop, to Field-Cornet Franz- 

" I wish to point out to you the strong advisability of sur- 
rendering without delay. If you surrender voluntarily now you 

' Times, Aug. 27. • See SbhIH African News, Oct, 31. 


will be treated with leniency, and probably will not be trans- 
ported, and at the end of the war you will be allowed to 
return to your wife and farm. I warn you that if you do not 
surrender your farm will be burnt and your cattle taken within a 

(Signature) "V., Lieut. Camp- Adjutant. 
"Place, Paardekop, 2/10/1900." 


A similar note was left with the sister of this woman and 
another neighbour — their cattle were taken before the order] 
expired. Twelve days after the receipt of the order the place \ 
was burnt. Several women from Heidelberg have said they had 
a notice in Dutch put on their houses, and a notice in English 
given them, as follows : — 

" The contents of this house — ^all the live stock and eatables 

of , who is on commando, is confiscated. 

"J. M. v.. District Commander. 
"Heidelberg, Oc^. 31, 1900." 

One of the latest of these notices was that of General 
Bruce Hamilton of November i. 


" The town of Ventersburg has been cleared of supplies and 
partly burnt, and the farms in the vicinity destroyed, on account 
of the frequent attacks on the railway line in the neighbourhood. 
The Boer women and children who are left behind should apply 
to the Boer commandants for food, who will supply them unless 
they wish to see them starve. No supplies will be sent from the 
railway to the town. 

(Signed) "Bruce Hamilton, Major-General. 

'*JVov, I, 1900.*' 

Only a few extracts can be given here from the writings of 
soldiers, war correspondents, and others, who draw a picture of 
the state of things brought about under these various proclama- 
tions and notices. Riding from Bloemfontein to Kimberley, the 
correspondent of the Manchester Guardian thus describes the 
country in July — 

" The way is a line of desolation ; the farmhouses have not 
merely been sacked, they have been savagely destroyed. The 
mirrors have been smashed, the pianos wrecked, children's toys 
and books wantonly destroyed. Even the buildings themselves 
have been burned and seriously damaged." 


" Between Bloemfontein and Boshof," says the Cape Argus, 
" some thirty or forty homesteads have been burnt down — utterly 
destroyed. That is only one route. Many others liave been 
burnt down also. Their homes destroyed, women and children 
have been turned out on to the veld in the bitter South African 

" Yesterday (September 31)," we read in the Natai Witness, 
"your correspondent went on a house-burning expedition (in 
O.R.C.) under Colonel H. B. Gumming of the Kaffrarians, 
During the day sixteen houses were destroyed. Many of the 
homesteads were occupied, and it was pitiful to see the women 
and children removing the furniture from the house before it was 
fired. The system of iiouse-buming will probably have a good 
effect on the rebellious Boers ; but I regret to say that the system 
is not carried out in a consistent manner."^ 

The Cape TYpks correspondent at Winbuig says — 
"Along the line of march General Campbell has practically 
denuded the country of live-stock and grain stores, whilst the sight 
of burning farmhouses and farm property is of daily occurrence. 
A number of old men, many sickly, who until recently held 
good-conduct passes, have been made prisoners, and accompany 
the column. There are cases where women and children, the 
families of prisoners of war either at Green Point or Ceylon, 
have been reduced to utter destitution, and are subsisting upon 
the charity of their neighbours, who, however, are but little 
better off than themselves." 

That the task assigned them was in most cases uncongenial, 
seems evident from the feeling often expressed in the rough 
descriptions of the soldiers. It would be tedious to insert here 
more than one or two samples of letters which dated from all 
parts of the two Republics, and reiterated the story of burning 
and pillage. 

" Bethlehem, y«^ 8, 1900. 

"Since we are with Clements we have had plenty of work 
burning 'farms. It is very hard sometimes. Last Sunday 
six of us went out with an Imperial officer to a fine farm- 
bouse, giving the occupants five minutes to clear out all their 
goods as well as themselves. There were an old grandmother, 
three married daughters, and several children, crying and asking 
for mercy, but no, when the time was up we burned it to the 
ground." ' 


« Bethlehem, Sept. 22. 
" For the past month we have had some, although exciting, 
very unpleasant work — ^namely, that of burning farms of those 
still fighting — I assure you in some instances very heart-rending. 
In one case twenty of our fellows rode up to a farm and told a 
woman and two daughters to take a few things and quit in ten 
minutes. We then cleared out everything and set the whole 
place on fire. The mother and two daughters dropped on their 
knees and prayed and sang, weeping bitterly all the time. One 
of the girls went to an organ and commenced singing some 
hymns. They sang 'Rock of Ages,' and then commenced to 
laugh loud and long hysterically, muttering all the time. A 
doctor who saw her before we came away tried to soothe her, but 
the poor woman had then gone raving mad. — ^Yours, etc.,^ 

" Arthur." 

" Senekal, Sept. 23. 
"To-day we marched into Senekal, and the Boers retired 
towards Bethlehem. For the last four or five days we have been 
burning the farms of the men who are absent from home and 
who are suspected of being away fighting for the Boers. If the 
farmer was away, down the house had to come. No matter 
whatever the wife said to excuse her husband, the farm was 
destroyed. The farms burned well, there's no mistake. But we 
gave the wives time to get everything out of the houses they 
wanted before setting fire to them. I must say that I felt very 
sorry for the poor little children who were turned out of their 
home. They had, I suppose, to sleep in the open. The 
women did not seem to care a bit; but it must have been 
all right to stand by and see their homes set on fire." — 
Barnet Press.^ 

Mr. Hervey de Montmorency, writing later in the Daily News^ 
gives his recollection of the period with which we are now dealing 
in these words — 

" When we retreated from Rustenburg in August of last 
year, after the evacuation of that town, every building in the 
neighbourhood of the northern-most road to Commando Nek 
was burned to the ground without discrimination. No single 
act of treachery on the part of the Boers occurred on the road. 
It would be interesting to know what was the motive for the 

* Received by Mr. C. A. Harrison, King's Arms Hotel, Wood Green. 
Published in Tottenham Herald 2JidL South African News of Dec. 12. 

* Private H. Philpott, 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment. Morning Leader^ 
Nov. I, 1900. 



malignant destruction of these farms. I speak of things I know, 
' quteque ipse miserrima vidi.' " ^ 

Captain March Phillipps' fuller story coincides with the 
above — 

" Hospital, Kbookstad, Stpi, 6. 

"... The various columns that are now marching about the 
country are carrying on the work of destruction pretty indis- 
criminately, and we have burnt and destroyed by now many 
scores of farms. Ruin, with great hardships and want, which 
may ultimately border on starvation, must be the result to many 
families. ... I had to go myself the other day, at the General's 
bidding, to burn a farm near the line of march. ^Ve got to the 
place, and I gave the inmates, three women and some children, 
ten mmutes to clear their clothes and things out of the house, 
and my man then fetched bundles of straw and we proceeded to 
bum it down. The old grandmother was very angry. She told 
me though I was making a fme blaze now it was nothing com- 
pared to the flames that I myself should be consumed in here- 
after.' Most of them, however, were too miserable to ctirse. 
The women cried, and the children stood by holding on to them 
and looking with large frightened eyes at the burning house. They 
won't forget that sight, I'll bet a sovereign, not even when they 
grow up. We rode away and left them, a forlorn little group, 
standing among their household goods — beds, furniture, and 
gimcracks strewn about the veld ; the crackling of the fire in 
their ears, and smoke and flame streaming overhead. The 
worst moment is when you first come to the house. The 
fKople thought we had called for refreshments, and one of the 
women went to get milk. Then we had to tell them that we 
had come to burn the place down. I simply didn't know which 
way to look. One of the women's husbands had been killed 
at Magersfontein. There were others, men and boys, away 
fighting ; whether dead or alive they did not know. 

"I give you this as a sample of what is going on pretty 
generally. Our troops are everywhere at work burning and 
laying waste, and enormous reserves of famine and misery are 
being laid up for these countries in the future." 

Finally, we have the account of General Smuts given in his 
Report," part of which refers to the months now before us — 

' See Daily News, June 22, igoi. 

= Unth EimiHgton, Lcltcr sxiit. p. 1S7, by L. March Phillipps. 

' Report of General John Smuts la Mr. Slcyn, Puhiished by the New 


" I feel altogether incapable of giving a description, even a 
mere sketch, of the devastation brought about by the enemy; 
of the pains and troubles caused to us, which have touched the 
hearts of our women and children as if they had been pierced 
by steel. 

" Let me take as an example that part of the Krugersdorp 
district situated between the Magalies and Witwaters mountains ; 
one of the most beautiful, most fertije, and best cultivated parts 
of South Africa, the so-called * fillet.' When I came to these 
parts in July 1900, the land was green with an uninterrupted 
series of cultivated fields, gardens, and charming houses and 
fermsteads, a delight to the eye, and a proof of what our people 
had been able to do with respect to agriculture in half a score 
of years. And now ? It is now a withered, barren waste ; all 
the fields have been destroyed, the trees of the gardens cut 
down or pulled up by the roots ; the homesteads burnt down, 
the houses in many cases not only destroyed by fire but blown 
up by dynamite, so that not a stone was left unturned ; a refuge 
only for the night-owl and the carrion-birds. Where, till lately, 
everything was life, prosperity, and cheerfulness, death now 
reigns. No Hving animal, no woman, no child, not even a 
Kaffir woman, is seen but with the traces of anxiety, misery, 1 
nay, even with starvation, distinctly visible in their faces. 

" Oh 1 one needs the pen of Isaiah or Jeremiah to be able 
to describe these horrors of destruction. . . . But I want to 
give another example of the manner in which our dear country 
is being destroyed. 

"In the afternoon, I went on a scouting tour along the 
Doornrivier (a tributary of the Elands River), which part had 
been visited by the army of General Douglas the day before. 
I was well acquainted with this neighbourhood, as our forces 
had encamped here when the camp of Colonel Hore on the 
Elands River had been besieged. It was night, but the moon 
was out, when I arrived there. My companion and myself 
came to the first farm, and found that everything had been 
destroyed and burnt down here. I came to the second farm, 
which had not been burned down, but plundered, and not a 
living soul was left in it; that same night I passed by some 
twelve or fourteen farms successively, which had all been 
burnt down or looted, and not a living being left behind in 
them. Truly, it rather resembled a haunted place than that 
magnificent thriving neighbourhood which I had left in all 
its glory about a month before. Late that night I lay down 
to sleep in the yard of one of these deserted places. Every- 


thing in that beautiful property (Doornkom) had been plundered 
and destroyed. The owner, Mr, Mostert, is a prisoner of war in 
St. Helena, his wife has died, and some little orphans were left 
behind alone, with some relations. But even their innocence 
and youth, and the exile of their father, could not satisfy the 
vindictiveness of the enemy. That night I reflected upon the 
fate of the many families of that district, and in the morning I found 
to my great surprise that they all appeared from the neighbouring 
hills like badgers from the ground. The women had fled with 
their children to those parts, thinking tliat they were safer with 
the wild beasts in the field than under the protection of the 
colours and armies of Her Majesty. . . . That afternoon I rode 
from Boksloot to Coster River, where I met with the same de- 
vastation and misery. No fewer than seven families, consisting of 
women and little children, were living under the trees in the open 
air, in spite of the heavy rains. Even the tents had been burnt." 
The document goes on to mention the Generals responsible 
for this devastation. 

The condition of families in July was so serious as to evoke 
another protest from the Commandant General of the Boer 
forces — 

"To my regret I must again approach your Excellency 
with reference to the wanton destruction or damaging of private 
properties, and also the inhuman treatment and even assaults 
on helpless women and children by Her Britannic Majesty's 
troops in the South African Republic.' 

" Complaints are repeatedly reaching me that private 
dwellings are plundered, and in some cases totally destroyed, 
and all provisions taken from women and children, so that 
they are compelled to wander about without food or covering. 
To quote several instances ; — It has just been brought to my 
notice by way of sworn afliidavit that the house of Field-Comet 
S. Buys, on the farm Leeuwspruit, district Middelburg, was set 
on fire and destroyed on the 20th June last,^ His wife, who was 
at home, was given five minutes' time to remove her bedding 
and clothing, and even what she took out was again taken from 
her. Her food, sugar, etc., was all taken, so that for herself and 
her children she had neither covering nor food for the following 
night. She was asked for the key of the safe, and after it was 
given up by her she was threatened with a sword, and money 
was demanded. All the money that was in the house was taken 


away, all the papers in the safe were torn up, and everything at 
the homestead that could not be taken away was destroyed. 
The house of Field-Comet Buys* son was also destroyed, the 
doors and windows broken, etc. 

" It has also been reported to me that my own buildings on 
the farm Varkenspruit, district Standerton, as well as the house 
of Field-Comet Badenhorst, on the adjoining farm, have been 
totally destroyed, and such of the stock as was not removed was 
shot dead on the farm.^ 

"Further, there is the swom declaration of Mrs. Hendrik 
Badenhorst, which speaks for itself — 

"I cannot believe that such godless barbarities take place 
vrith your Excellency's consent, and thus I deem it my solemn 
duty to protest most strongly against such destruction and 
vindictiveness as being entirely contrary to civilised warfare. 

"I tmst that your Excellency will take all the necessary 
measures to punish the doers of such deeds, and in the 
interest of humanity I call on your Excellency to use all your 
power and authority to put an end to the devastation wrought 
by the troops under your Excellency's command." 

A few days later General De Wet makes similar complaint in 

relation to the Free State, though he makes no mention of the 

destraction of his own farm or consequent eviction of his own 

family — 

"Field near Bethlehem, /w-jy lo. 

" Your Excellency, — It is with a feeling of great indignation 
that I have from day to day noticed the reckless devastation of 
property in this State by the troops imder your Excellency's 
command. Houses and other property are under all manner 
of excuses destroyed and burnt, and defenceless women and 
children are treated with scom, and driven on foot out of 
the houses to seek accommodation under the bare heavens. 
Through such action great unnecessary suffering is caused. 
Amongst many others, this has happened to the following, 
viz : — 

" Near Lindley : the farms of Hermanns Pieterse, Jacobus 
Pieterse, Christian Hattuigh, Roelof Fourie, Adriaan Cilliers, 
Daniel Momberg, and Gert Rautenbach.^ 

" Near Heilbron : of Hendrik Meyer, Mathys Lourens, and 
Jan Vosloo. 

" Everything belonging to these persons has been bumt and 

^ These are not mentioned in the Government Return. 

' None of these seem identical with any named in the Government Return. 



" The wife of General Roux, at Senekal, has been driven out 
of the manse, while the wife of Mr. J. G. Luyt, at Heilbron, was 
treated very scornfully, and the wife of Commandant P. H. de 
Villiers has been driven from two houses at Ficksburg. There 
are many other cases which have been brought to my notice, 
but for my purpose it is not necessary to send your Excellency 
a complete list. 

" I trust that, in the name of our common civilisation and 
humanity, your Excellency will have the culprits punished, and 
prevent the perpetration of such acts in the future. 

"However, should the troops under your Excellency's 
command continue to unnecessarily devastate the country in 
a manner contrary to the principles of civiUsed warfare, I shall 
feel obliged, however much against my own feelings, to take 
such reprisals on the houses and goods of British subjects in 
the Orange Free State, as well as of British subjects in the 
Cape Colony and in Natal, as I may think proper, in order 
to put a stop to these atrocities, 

" Imbued with the desire to carry on this unfortunate 
struggle in terms of the dictates of humanity, I have felt 
obliged to write your Excellency this letter, trusting that 
your Excellency will receive and consider same in the same 
spirit in which it is written." 

The following replies to the two Boer leaders were sent by 
Lord Roberts. He gives General Botha a detailed answer refuting 
the charge in the case of Mrs. Badenhorst, and goes on to say — 


" I have not yet received replies from General Officer Com- 
manding Standerton, as to the alleged destruction of buildings 
on your Honour's and the adjoining farm. I hope the reports 
may prove unfounded, as I have given most stringent orders that 
except in certain cases where railway or telegraph line has been 
cut, or our troops fired upon from farms, homesteads are not to 
be destroyed. As far as I know, up to the 4th July, the date of 
your letter, none of our troops were in the Middelbut^ district." ' 

The despatch to General De Wet contains no detailed 
answer to the instances enumerated by him — 

" Prktohia, Aug. 3, 
" I have to-day received through General Sir A. Hunter your 
letter dated loth July 1900. 

' Cd. 582. 


" As your Honour is well aware, the utmost consideration has 
invariably been shown to every class of inhabitant of the Orange 
River Colony since the British troops under my command 
entered the country. 

"Latterly, many of my soldiers have been shot from farm- 
houses over which the white flag has been flying, the railway 
and telegraph lines have been cut, and trains wrecked. I have 
therefore found it necessary, after warning your Honour, to take 
such steps as are sanctioned by the customs of war to put an 
end to these and similar acts, and have burned down the farm- 
houses at or near which such deeds have been perpetrated. 
This I shall continue to do whenever I consider the occasion 
demands it. 

"Women and children have thus been rendered homeless 
through the misdeeds of the burghers under your Honour's 
command, but your Honour has been misinformed as to these 
poor people having been badly treated, as everything possible 
has invariably been done to lessen the discomforts inseparable 
from such evictions. 

" The remedy lies in your Honour's own hands. The destruc- 
tion of property is most distasteful to me, and I shall be greatly 
pleased when your Honour's co-operation in the matter renders 
it no longer necessary." 

Not satisfied with the answer received from the Commander- 
in-Chief, General Botha wrote again — 

''Aug, 15. 

" On inquiry I have discovered that it is a fact, which I can 
have supported by affidavits, that well-disposed families living 
on farms are driven from their houses, and all their property 
taken away or destroyed. In every case the private conveyances 
are taken away, so that there are instances where women with 
their children who, deprived of their property in this manner, 
were obliged to walk for miles in order to seek for food, shelter, 
and protection from our burghers. I cannot here refrain from 
remau^ing that, in such cases, the action of the troops under 
your Excellenc3^s command very much exceeds the teachings 
of civilised warfare. 

"I bring these facts to your Excellencjr's notice because I 
cannot believe that they are your Excellency's instructions, and 
as it is done by the troops under your Excellency's supreme 
command, I expect that your Excellency will make an end to 
these atrocious deeds and barbarous actions. 

" In this connection I wish to remark that everywhere small 



bodies of troops are captured far from their main force, and who 
aUege that they are scouts, but who in point of fact go about to 
rob, and that it cannot be expected that such robbers, when 
captured, be in future treated as prisoners of war. 

"The case of the house of Acting-Comraandant Buys men- 
tioned by me in my letter of the 4th July last was in the district 
of Heidelberg and not in the district of Middelburg, as your 
Excellency appears to think. This arbitrary destruction of 
houses still continues, and I must again most strongly protest 
against same. 

" I also wish to bring to your Excellency's notice that in many 
cases houses in which are only women and children are now 

This despatch evoked a short stern reply from Lord Roberts — 

"Pretoria, Aii^. 23, 1900. 
"Your Honour represents that well-disposed families living 
on their farms have been driven from their houses, and that their 
property has been taken away or destroyed. This no doubt 
is true, but not in the sense which your letter would imply. 
Burghers who are well-disposed towards the British Government, 
and anxious to submit to my authority, have had their property 
seized by the Boer commandoes, and have been threatened with 
death if they refused to take up anns against the British forces. 
Your Honour's contention that a solemn oath of neutrality which 
the butchers have voluntarily taken in order to remain in un- 
molested occupation of their farms is null and void because you 
I have not consented to it is hardly open to discussion, I shall 
I punish those who violate their oath and confiscate their property, 
i no burgher having been forced to take the oath against his will," 

The misunderstanding which was evident finds some explan- 
ation in this passage written from South Africa by Mr. J. M. 
Robertson — 

"Cape Town, Wwf. 13, 1900. 

" I have already told how, according to trustworthy reports 
received up-country, there occurred in the Free State acts of 
blundering provocation of the sort that have abounded under 
martial law in the Colony. I now learn, on very high authority, 
that in addition to these there occurred wholesale provocation 
by some provosts- marshal, and acts of so-called vengeance which 
were really gross miscarriages of justice. Much has been said 
of Boers firing on British soldiers from farms which flew the 


white flag. What actually happened again and again was that 
women and non-combatants flew the white flag on a homestead, 
and that armed Boers carried on hostile operations on other parts 
of such farms without any regard to the doings of those in the 
farmhouse, which might be miles off — a Boer farm being often 
as large as an English parish. 

" But when farm-burning was once begun, it was not restricted 
to cases where the white flag could be pretended to have been 
misused. Many were burned on the sole ground that the owner 
was absent, presumably on commando. Even at this stage, 
different generals proceeded on different principles, just as has 
happened under martial law in the Colony. Some burned, and 
some spared. A concrete case, reported in a telegram, will 
serve to show how things are going in the Transvaal — 
. "'Johannesburg, Aug. 17. — ^On Tuesday evening, Private ^ 
Richards, of the Railway Pioneers, was mysteriously shot near 
Witpoorje, four miles from Krugersdorp. He was doing patrol 
duty, and when picked up yesterday he had five bullet wounds, 
including one through the head. As he was sniped by some 
resident in the vicinity, the people were called upon to produce 
the murderer. As they did not, some four houses were de- 
molished, and the occupants sent to Johannesburg.' " ^ 

The confusion in the minds of the burghers was not lessened 
when on August 14 another proclamation was issued repealing 
either the whole or important parts of previous promises. Under 
Section 6 of this, a man who had given and was keeping his 
oath of neutrality became guilty if he failed to " acquaint Her | 
Majesty's Forces with the presence of the Enemy." ^ In a word, 
he must no longer be neutral. Commenting on this and other 
passages in this proclamation, under which concentration be- 
comes almost inevitable, the St. Jameses Gazette says — 

" We pointed out that it would be more business-like on our 
part to adopt the policy of General Weyler's * reconcentration 
order' in Cuba. After delays. Lord Roberts has come round 
to our way of thinking. We observe, not without some amuse- 
ment, that this adaptation of the methods of General Weyler 
has met with general approval, and is only mildly condemned 
in quarters where it once would have caused able editors to fill 
the heavens with eloquence. There are reasons not unconnected 
with the sale of papers for the change of tone. Where the 
women and children give active help — then all are combatants. 
In any case we have undertaken to conquer the Transvaal, and if 

* Morning LeadeTy Sept. 1900. ^ No. 12 of 1900. 


nothing will make that sure except the entire removal of the Dutch 
inhabitants, they must be removed — men, women, and children. 
They (the Dutch) would be justified in shooting every English- ' 
man, in refusiiig to give quarter, and in killing the wounded." ^ 

Their correspondent in South Africa appeared to take a 
different view of the working of the same proclamation, for, 
writing from Ficksburg, he says — 

"... Onthenightof September 6 General Campbell reached 
Generals Nek. . . . Generals Nek is three hours, or about 
twenty miles, from here. Colonel Oakes wished to send de- 
spatches to him, and I volunteered to ride there. On my arrival 
at Generals Nek I talked for some lime with General Campbell, 
as, in addition to the despatches, there was much information to 
be given by word of mouth. On discovering that I knew the 
district and the inhabitants, through having worked for some two 
months under the District Commissioner, Major White, he 
requested, or rather ordered, me to remain in camp that night 
and to march with him the following day. 

" The General told me that he had received orders to ' sweep ' 
the country, and a view of his following soon made it obvious 
that he had not failed to carry out his orders. All farms on the 
line of march were cleared of horses, cattle, sheep, waggons, 
carts, etc., the forage being burnt, and the owners bidden to 
join the ranks of the prisoners, of whom there were already a 
goodly number. In several cases I ventured humbly to point 
out that many of these men, in fact most of them, had been 
paroled, and allowed to return to their farms, and had received 
a protection certificate for their property from the District 
Commissioner. Some of them were Britishers, who rather than 
lake up arms against their country had sacrificed all and taken 
refuge in Basutoland, My pleas were of no avail. All who had 
once been on commando, in spite of having been paroled, were 
retaken prisoners. Britishers were allowed to remain at liberty, 
but their live stock was taken and their stacks burnt. I 
knew that in many cases our leniency had not been appreciated, 
and that such punishment was thoroughly deserved. But it 
was with mingled feelings of dismay and regret that I beheld 
the work of settlement on which we had been employed for 
more than two months all upset in a couple of days. I was 
afterwards given a copy of a proclamation issued by Lord 
Roberts on August 14, on which General Campbell based the 
justification of his action. The meeting between General 
> Si /amts's Gmette, Aug. so, 1900, 


Campbell and Captain Ward, Assistant Commissioner for the 
Lady Brand and Ficksburg Districts of the Orange River Colony, 
was anything but a pleasant one. Each had been carrying out 
a policy antagonistic to the other, and for a very simple reason. 
We had never received any notification of the proclamation of 
August 14, and we had consequently been working in accord- 
ance with those of earlier dates. Why we have never received 
any copy of the proclamation from the authorities at Bloemfontein 
is inexplicable. I observed that the proclamation was issued 
*to the inhabitants of the South African Republic' I am still 
wondering whether it is intended to be applied to the inhabitants 
of the Orange River Colony. General Campbell assured us 
that it was so intended." ^ 

Comparatively few people have read the correspondence 
which took place at this date between Lord Roberts and General 
Botha on the subject of the expulsion of the women. It was 
first published in the Handelsblady subsequently in the 
Manchester Guardian — 

Lord Roberts to General Botha. 

" Sept, 2, 1900. 

" Sir, — I beg to address your Honour in regard to the actions 
of the comparatively small bands of armed Boers who conceal 
themselves in the neighbourhood of our lines of communication, 
and who constantly endeavour to destroy the railroad, thereby 
endangering the lives of passengers, both combatants and non- 
combatants, travelling by the trains. 

" 2. I address your Honour on this subject because, with the 
exception of the districts occupied by the army under your 
Honour's personal command, there are now no properly 
organised Boer armies in the Transvaal and the Orange River 
Colony, and the war degenerates into the actions of irregular 
and irresponsible guerillas. This would be detrimental to the 
country, and so regrettable from every point of view that I feel 
compelled to do all in my power to prevent it. 

" 3. In order to put these views into practice, I have issued 
instructions that the Boer farmhouses near the spot where an 
effort has been made to destroy the railroad or to wreck the 
trains shall be burnt, and that from all farmhouses for a distance 
of ten miles around such a spot all provisions, cattle, etc., shall 
be removed. 

^Ficksburg, Sept. 14. St.Jameis Gazette^ Oct. 17, 1900. 



" 4. In connection with the foregoing, the time has also 
arrived when I must again refer to my despatch C. in C, 670 
of August 5, 1900, which your Honour answered on August 15. 
I feel that when the war has once entered upon the stage of 
irregular or guerilla fighting, I should be neglecting my duty 
towards the national interests if I continued to allow the famihes 
of those who still fight against us to live in towns which are 
guarded by our forces. This is no longer a matter of com- 
missariat, but rather of policy, and in order to protect ourselves 
against the transmission of news to our enemies. I would there- 
fore consider it a favour if your Honour would warn all burghers 
on commando whose families are living in districts occupied by our 
troops, to make timely preparation for receiving and sheltering 
their famiUes, The expulsion of these families will commence 
within a few days, a start being made with those now in Pretoria. 
They will travel by rail to the British outposts, to be then 
transferred to the person whom your Honour might appoint 
for their reception. I will keep your Honour informed of the 
number that may be expected from day to day, and I take this 
opportunity of informing your Honour that since nearly all the 
carriages of the Netherlands South African Railway Company 
have been removed eastwards, the families, to my regret, will 
mostly have to travel in open trucks. I will endeavour to 
provide Mrs. Kruger, Mrs. Botha, and as many of the other 
ladies as possible with closed carriages, but as I am not certain 
of succeeding in finding one, I desire to suggest to your Honour 
that you should forward suitable carriages for them. 1 need not 
tell you how repugnant these measures are to me, but I am 
obliged to resort to the same by the evidently firm resolve 
on the part of yourself and your burghers to continue the 
war, although any doubl as to the ultimate result thereof has 
now ceased to exist — I have the honour to he your obedient 

The answer to this letter was prompt — 

General Botha to Lord Roberts. 

"Sepi. 6, 1900. 
" Inasmuch as our entire armed force is only a small one in 
comparison with that of your Excellency, it cannot, of course, be 
expected that strong commandoes should be in the field every- 
where, and it naturally follows that now, as during the war, what 
is incumbent upon us must be done by small forces. Moreover, 
we have been compelled to still further scatter our commandoes 


in order to be able to check the looting patrols, under your 
Excellency*s chief command, who scour the country to carry off 
cattle and provisions from the different farms. 

" 2. As regards your contention that, with the exception of 
the burgher forces under my command, no other Boer forces 
should be in existence, I most strongly deny this, since our 
armed forces are still disposed and directed in the same manner 
as in the beginning of the war, and in accordance with the 
country's laws. 

"3. In paragraph 3 of your letter, with which I am now 
dealing, it is already known to me that barbarous actions of this 
kind are committed by your troops, under your command, not 
only alongside or near the railway, but also in places far removed 
from railways. Wherever your troops move, not only are houses 
burned down or b^own up with dynamite, but defenceless women 
and children are ejected, robbed of all food and cover, and all 
this without any just cause existing for such proceedings. 

" 4. With regard to paragraph 4 of your Excellency's letter, I 
extremely regret to learn that my burghers* and my own determi- 
nation to persevere in the struggle for our independence is to be 
visited on our wives and children, and this is the first instance 
of this kind known to me in the history of civilised warfare. I 
can only protest against your proposed measures as being in 
opposition to all principles of civilised warfare and excessively 
cruel toward the women and children, cruel especially towards 
elderly women, and above all towards the wife of His Honour 
the President of this State, who, as you must be well aware, is 
not able to travel without risk to her life, so that it would be 
simply murder to compel her to undertake such a journey. The 
pretext alleged by you, viz., that by so doing your Excellency 
desires to protect yourself against transmission of information to 
us, clearly lacks all substance, since such proceedings were not 
considered necessary at a time when our troops were encamped 
in the immediate neighbourhood of Pretoria. It is needless to 
state that we have never, by means of women and children, 
received information regarding operations of war. 

" 5. If your Excellency still intends to persevere in carrying 
out your Excellency's plan, which I hope will not be the case, 
I request your Excellency to give me timely notice of the period 
and particulars of the expulsion, as I wish to arrange for the 
direct transport of the families to Europe. With regard to your 
Excellency's remark about proper accommodation, I am prepared 
to send proper carriages to a place to be indicated, and also, if 
required, a cog-wheel engine for the track between Waterval 


Boven and Waterval Onder, provided that your Excellency 
guarantees the safe return of such carriages and engine, 

" 6. In conclusion, I desire to give you the assurance that 
nothing you may do to our women and children will deter us in 
continuing the struggle for our independence." 

On September 7 Lord Roberts again ui^es his reasons for the 
rigorous metdods which appear to have increased throughout 
September and October — 

Lord Roberts to General Botha, 

" Stfit. 7, 1900. 

" I beg again to direct your Honour's attention to paragraphs 2 
and 3 of my letter dated and September, in which I pointed out that, 
except in the districts occupied by the Army under your Honour's 
personal command, the war is degenerating, and has degenerated, 
into operations carried on in an irregular and irresponsible 
manner by small and, in very many cases, insignificant bodies of 
men. Your Honour's own statement that your commandoes 
are being more and more split up, bears this oul, and I am 
convinced that, except within a district which is daily becoming 
more restricted, your Honour can exercise little or no control 
over these guerilla bodies, 

" I should be failing in my duty to Her Majesty's Govern- 
ment and lo Her Majesty's Army in South Africa, if I neglected 
to use every means in my power to bring such irregular warfare 
to a conclusion. The measures which I am compelled to adopt 
are those which the customs of war prescribe as being applicable 
to such cases; they are ruinous to the country, entail endless 
suffering on your Honour's fellow-countrymen, and must, I 
regret to inform your Honour, necessarily become more and 
more rigorous." 

General Botha replied from Warmbaths, Oct. 17 — 
" I regret to note that the barbarous actions of your Excel- 
lency's troops, such as the blowing up and destruction of private 
dwellings and the removal of ail food from the famihes of the 
fighting burghers, against which I have already been obliged to 
protest, have not only met with your Excellency's approval, but 
are done on your Excellency's special instructions. This spirit 
of revenge against burghers who are merely doing their duty 
according Co law, may be regarded as civilised warfare by your 
Excellency, but certainly not by me. I feel obliged to bring 
to your Excellency's notice the fact that I have resolved to carry 
on the war in the same humane manner as hitherto, but should 


I be compelled by your Excellency*s action to take reprisals, 

then the responsibility thereof will rest with your Excellency." 

So far as appears from the Blue Books, the correspondence 

between the two Generals ends with this announcement from 

Lord Roberts — 

** Pretoria, Oct, 22, 1900. 

" With regard to the remark of your Honour, as to the state 
of organisation which exists among the burgher forces at the 
present moment, I am compelled to point out to your Honour 
that their tactics are not those usually associated with organised 
forces, but have degenerated into a guerilla warfare which I 
shall be compelled to repress by those exceptional methods 
which civilised nations have at all times found it obligatory to 
use under like circumstances." 

It has been since recognised that the Boer warfare, though 
guerilla in some methods, was carried on throughout under an 
organised system, and at its remarkable close there was absolute 
order and discipline. 

Meantime the families rendered homeless by all these mili- 
tary operations were seeking refuge, some in neighbouring farms, 
or even Kaffir kraals, others in laagers formed by the Boers; 
others, again, in hiding-places among the hills. A few fled to 
friends in Cape Colony, while a considerable number flocked 
into the towns, where it soon became necessary to provide them 
with food. In Lord Roberts' report from Pretoria, July 2, he 
mentions that several families of men fighting against us were 
being fed, and some of them were in a state of destitution.^ 
From the middle of July it became evident that the women and 
children who were homeless had so swelled in number that it 
was becoming a serious problem how to deal with them. Far 
away near Mafeking a camp was formed in this month where 
some of the wanderers in the north-western districts were received, 
but no other was yet established, only laagers formed by the Boers 
for their protection. It was midwinter, and the cold at night 
very intense. Charitable people in some of the towns tried to 
stem the tide of distress by taking out waggon-loads of supplies 
to country districts, but military rigour soon made this impractic- 
able. It was resolved that the responsibility of feeding these 
families should be shifted on to the shoulders of the burghers. 
Telegrams at that period speak of a proclamation calling upon 
the wives of Boers still fighting to report themselves ^ with a 
view to being sent into the enemy's lines, and describe waggon- 

* See Times t July 4. ' Pretoria, July 18. Reuter. 

. 4 


loads of women and children leaving the town for that purpose,* 
This eviction was carried out at Johannesburg, where, on the 
authority of the correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, we are told 
that "on August lo and the following days trains left the town 
conveying 1550 children and 450 women." We have seen in 
Lord Roberts' letter to General Botha his proposal to carry out 
this plan at Pretoria on a large scale, including such ladies as 
Mrs. Kruger and Mrs. Louis Botha, who were not themselves 
amongst those receiving rations from the military authorities. 
In the end these ladies were not molested, and the eviction was, 
it is believed, confined to women of a class unable to support 

Soon after the Proclamation of August 14 a new feature 
presented itself, in the voluntaiy arrival and submission of occa- 
sional refugees, who brought in their families and stock, hoping 
by this means to save themselves from the transportation or 
imprisonment threatened by Lord Roberts. With the exception 
of the Western District refugees already in July formed into the 
camp near Mafeking, the first intimation of these bond, fide 
refugees seems to be in Lord Roberts' report of September 3, 
where he speaks of an officer at Eerste Fabricken reporting that 
ten men, with several women and children, had come into camp, 
bringing with them their cattle, waggons, and carts.^ 

In various localities a few of these men apgeared and sought 
protection for themselves and their goods, It oecame an instant 
duty to provide for them, and on zznd September General 
Maxwell issued the order which established the system of 
Refugee Camps. 

"Camps for Burghers who voluntarily surrender are being 
formed in Pretoria and at Bloemfontein." 

" J. G. Maxwell, Major-Gen eral, 
Military Governor. 
"Prktoria, Sept. 22, 1900."'' 

This is the first official notice of the formation of camps. 
They really were Refugee Camps in that they were established 
for that class of person. Had they been true to their name, and 
kept for refugees only, they would have remained small in size 
and few in number. Till about this period the people of the 
land had been as one body. But now a rift was formed which 
widened and deepened as the months rolled on. The individuals 

' Renter, July 19. Sec also SdiiiA African Ncths, Aug. 23. 

' Times, Sept. 3. 

■ " It Noliec No. iii. of 1900, Sec 


who feared transportation, imprisonment, or material loss^ 
surrendered and came in as refugees, and a distinction was 
formed between them and the great mass of the people who 
remained patriots and were known as "undesirables." From 
General Botha's point of view, it became necessary to nullify the 
terrorizing effect of a proclamation which was weaning some of 
the people from allegiance to their country, and he issued a 
circular reminding the people of their duties and threatening 
punishment for those who laid down their arms. It was clear 
that from one side or the other suffering must come. 

This Circular of the Boer Generds, dated Roos, Senekal, 
October 6, 1900, is the subject of an extraordinary error in 
the Blue Books. Lord Kitchener in his despatch of December 6, 
1 90 1 (Cd. 902), quotes General Botha as saying in this Circular: 
"Do everything in your power to prevent the burghers laying 
down their arms. I wH be compelled, if they do not listen to 
this, to confiscate everything movable or immovable, and also 
to bum their houses." 

But the Circular referred to contained no such sentence. The 
words quoted are taken, as appears from the White Paper (Cd. 
663, p. 5) published six months earlier, from a letter from General 
Botha to the Landdrost of Bethal, in which the Circular was 
enclosed. The Circular itself is given at length in Mr. Davitt's 
recent book.^ After informing the burghers that the Executive 
Council had given leave of absence to the State President to 
assist their deputation in Europe, and that the Government 
continued under Mr. Schalk Burger as Acting President, General 
Botha exhorts them to be true to their cause and their leaders, 
and in the final clause issues this warning — 

" The burghers are also warned against fine words used by 
the enemy to deceive them so as to make them put down their 
arms, because, according to the proclamation of Lord Roberts, 
they will all be transported to St. Helena or Ceylon as prisoners 
of war, and they put their property, as it were, between two \ 
dangers, for in future I will deal severely with all property of V 
those who put down their arms." \ 

Two months later, in another Circular, dated Ermelo, 
December 3, 1900, General Botha defines more carefully how this 
property of surrendered burghers is to be dealt with. Nothing 
is said of the burning of houses or of immovable property, 
because General Botha had no legal right to touch these things, 
but by a decision of the Kriegsraad the movable property of 

1 See Proclamation No. 12 of 1900. Cd. 426. 
' Boer Fight for Freedom^ p. 462. By ^f . Davitt. 

J traitors was confiscate, and he was bound to seiae it Ji 
to that rule, under certain limitations. 

"The movable property of [these] persons must be taken 
and a proper inventory made by the Field-Comet concerned, in 
conjunction with his Commandant and his General of Division 
for commando purposes. Care must be taken in all cases that 
aufficient means of livelihood are left for the support of the wife 
and family."' 

From these documents it is clear that the suggestion that the 
Boer Generals adopted the avowed policy of punishing desertion 
by burning farms is without foundation. By a strange oversight, 
Lord Kitchener has confused what is at most, if correctly trans- 
lated, General Botha's persona! expression of opinion in a letter 
to an individual as to the mode of punishment which he may be 
driven to adopt, with an official announcement of a settled scheme 
of reprisals. The plea that concentration was rendered necessary 
by the burning of farms by the Boers themselves thus falls to the 

Lord Kitchener says that many surrendered burghers made com- 
plaints to him of ilj-treatment received after they had laid down 
their arms, but no instances are given by him, nor is mention 
made of any farm being burnt, The only instance of eviction and 
devastation hitherto made public for the year 1900 is that of 
Mrs. Viviers, who published in the Bloemfonttin Post an accoimt 
of her ill-treatment. This happened shortly after the issue of 
Botha's Circular. She does not say her farm was burnt — 

"After explaining that she is an Afrikander of Dutch-French 
extraction, whose son had gone out on commando and been 
wounded at Magersfontein, Mrs. M. E. O. Viviers states that 
after the British occupation of Bloenifontein and the submission 
of the burghers in her neighbourhood, peace and order were 
restored until the autumn of 1900, when Badenhorst's commando 
arrived. ' On November 30 he sent twenty-one armed men to 
search my house and to loot it. I closed the doors and refused 
to open them. Lieutenant Jan Lubbe, of Aarpan, district of 
Boshoff, broke open the door, and shouted, " We will fire," and I 
flew with my daughter and " bijwoonster " and her children 
through the other door. Lubbe gave a man the order to see 
that we did not run away, and that man stood guard over us 
while the others were looting my house. When Lubbe (he had 
also taken the oath, although later on he became one of the 
greatest rebels) entered the door, he said, " Buighers, take what 
' Cd. 663. Enclosure I. in No. 5. 


you want." They went through every room, and turned over 
everything; they even turned over the beds. They also took 
all saddles, halters, etc., which I had packed in my son's room. 
They took all the watches, my daughter's watch, and many more 
articles. The green fruit was taken from the trees, the young 
vegetables were destroyed, as well as my beehives. . . . After 
Badenhorst had taken the best of everything on my farm, he sent 
his brother Christoffel Badenhorst ... to let me know that I 
had to go into the enemy's lines. On that day I was laid up. . . . 
My daughters asked Krause to give us time till I felt better. 
He replied, " When I heard that your mother was sick I sent a 
message to Badenhorst. His reply was, * Give them an hour and 
a half.' I must fulfil my orders, and if you refuse to go I will 
be obliged to use force." I had to go in my spring waggon, 
inspanned with six oxen, some bedclothes and clothing, leaving 
behind all I had — the work of many years — to live a poor life 
amongst strangers. Under this escort of Piet Krause and .Casper 
WiUemse, of Aranslaagte, district Hoopstad, who had also taken 
the oath, we had to pass the night on the veld. They had not 
given us time to prepare any food at home, and they fed us, 
once a day, on a piece of sandy meat, pumpkin boiled in water, 
and a cup of com coffee. When we arrived at Hagenstad we 
were handed over to Field-Comet Jan van Wijk and twelve 
armed men, to bring us on farther. They led us across the 
Modder River, and there gave our native the order to bring 
us into Bloemfontein. They then went back. I an^ now tempor- 
arily in Bloemfontein, and my son, from whom I was separated 
for six months, was three months in the Refugee Camp at Nerval's 
Pont. He states that he had nothing to complain of there.' " ^ 

A return of farms bumt or damage done by the Boers has 
been published, but refers only to destruction in British territory, 
and gives the few farms which were bumt in Cape Colony as 
reprisals.^ The cases enumerated by Mr. Tobias Smuts are 
mentioned in a later chapter.® It may be that more will come 
to light as time goes on, but this is doubtful, as it was not the 
Boer policy, and was against their principles. 

On the other hand, homeless "undesirables," or patriots, were 
so largely on the increase, that in the uncertain state of the line 
they could not all be sent away to Natal or the Coast, and it Was 
probably thought that their influence over the men in the field 

*See Times ^ Feb. 17, 1902, quoted hom Bloemfontein Post of Jan. 24, 

' Cd. 979. ' See Part II. chap. i. p. loi. 

was too powerful to make it prudent to continue sending them 
to the commandoes, at any rate as regarded the women of the 
higher classes. Humanity forbade, at this stage, a continuance of 
the practice of their being left outside their ruined houses, and 
so it came to pass that they were brought in by convoys and 
placed in the small camps which had been formed for refugees. 
Those small handfuls of people were soon swamped by the 
inundation of new-comers, and large camps sprang into existence 
in 1500 at Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Irene, Potchefstroom, 
Norval's Pont,;Kroonstad, Vereeniging, Heidelberg, and Winbufg, 
besides Port Elizabeth and Pietermaritzburg, which last were 
wholly for " undesirables." The severance of the people, which 
might have been avoided by a wise and equable treatment, was, 
on the contrary, aggravated by the primary administration of the 
camps, and became complete. Certain distinctions of food and 
various faciUties were made in favour of the surrendered families, 
and these were often given paid employments and placed in 
positions over the patriots, acting in some cases as spies who 
carried trivial words and tales to those in authority. The patriots, 
on the other hand, felt and expressed contempt, often undeserved, 
for these neighbours, and nicknamed them "hands uppers." 
The deportation of women and children had now become an 
event of daily occurrence, and it was a common sight to see 
whole train-loads of families packed into trucks passing the 
stations or shunted on lo sidings. The following are samples 
of the telegrams which announced the same thing from many 
parts in the country :— 

" Oct. 19. 

". . .At Heidelberg the General Commanding has taken a 
wise step in bringing families known to have been harbouring the 
Boers into the town. The depleting of the farms round Vlakfon- 
tein of all food-stuffs continues." ^ 

" Ventbrsburg, Oct. 31. 

"Numbers of families with their goods and chattels have 
been sent by the railway. 

" The enemy plead they cannot trust the proclamations. 

" Numbers have taken their wives and families to a laager." - 

" Durban, Saturday. 
"The work of deporting 'undesirables' from the Eastern 
districts of the Orange River Colony is proceeding with some 
vigour. Two hundred and fifty women and children from 
' Reuler, Times, Oct. Z2. " Keuter, South African News. 


Harrismith and vicinity have been sent to Ladysmith, and one 
hundred and ninety men to Durban." 

" Bloemfontein. 

" Some more women from Jagersfontein have reached Bloem- 
fontein, and are encamped with the first batch a few miles outside 
the town. It is rumoured at Bloemfontein that strong punitive 
measures have been taken at Bothaville, and that the Dutch 
Church is the only building left standing there." 

" Bloemfontein, Nod, 22. 

"Seven waggons with refugee Boer families arrived from 
Thaba *Nchu this morning."^ 

" Standerton, Nov. 17. 

"... One hundred Boer women and children have been 
sent to Natal." 2 

** Cape Town, Tuesday. 

"The Rev. Colin Fraser, of the Dutch Church, Miss Fraser, 
and a number of other Dutch partisans, have been removed from 
Philippolis by the military authorities. Mr. Fraser has been sent 
to Bloemfontein," ® 

Mr. Fraser, here mentioned as having suffered deportation, 
is a venerable clergyman of Scotch parentage, and the father of 
Mrs. Steyn, the President's wife. His brother, Mr. John George 
Fraser, obtained his release and he returned to Philippolis. Some 
months later he was with his wife deported to the camp at Norval's 
Pont, and thence sent down to East London. Miss Emmeline 
Fraser, his daughter, a girl of twenty-one, has herself told me how 
she was sent up in a coal-truck from her home, and then had to 
trudge from the station at Bloemfontein, some three miles, out 
to the camp, carrying her own things, beneath a burning sun 
and with armed soldiers behind her. The thoughtful act of a 
soldier who helped to carry her bundles alone redeemed the 
bitter humiliation of that day. 

Many telegrams spoke of the exile of a large number of 
families from' Jagersfontein and Fauresmith to Port Elizabeth. 

When a batch of these unfortunates arrived in the south of 

Cape Colony, the sight aroused a storm of indignation; it 

brought to Cape Colonists the first realisation of how the 

brunt of the war was falling upon helpless women and children. 

Reuter's message runs — 

" Port Elizabeth. 

" Yesterday I visited the Racecourse Encampment, where the 

Dutch women and children, who were sent down from Jagersfontein 

* S<mth African News^ Nov. 28, ^ finies^ Nov, 19, ' Reuter, Oct. 31. 


; WAK 

and Fauresmith are quartered. They are practically prisoners, as 
a military guard has been placed over them ; but everything has 
been done that is possible to make their incarceration within the 
enclosure as comfortable as circumstances permit. 

" Many of the women and children have lived in affluent 
positions, and are now housed in tin cabins of circumscribed 
space. The wives of the Mayor of Fauresmith and the Dutch 
Reformed Minister, and the sister of the Resident Magistrate, 
are among them," ' 

The supply of families for deportation, which seemed un- 
ending, was kept up by the devastation which increased rapidly 
in the latter months of the year. From October to December a 
series of telegrams from various districts echoed the news in sad 
refrain. Here are a few contributed by Renter :— 

"General Settle's Column, after relieving Schweizereineke, 
proceeded southward to Christiana, pacifying the country as 
they went along; . . . some farms were burnt, including that 
of Pretorius, formerly member of the Second Raad."^ 

" Kroonstad, Ott. 26. 

" The Column arrived at noon, destroying farms on its way,^ 

" Not a single Boer house in the country between Dundee 
and Vryheid has been left standing. All have been burned by 
the British troops as a punishment for the treacherous acts of the 
resident Boers, 

"The British patrol sheds are affording shelter to the Boer 
women and children, and the British are also supporting them 
with the necessaries of life." ' 

"Bloemfontein, ^CT'. s, 1900- 

" It is stated that the village of Ventersburg has met with a 
fate similar to that of Bothaville, having been destroyed on 
account of its having been used as a Boer depot." ^ 

"Belfast, Nov. 6. 
"... Geneml Dorien Smith , . , determined to destroy 
every farm that had given cover or shelter to the Boers. . . . 
Farms were burnt or blown up as the force proceeded." * 

' Soulh African /fiurs, Oct. 31, 1900. 

" Reuter, See Times, Oct. 5, 1900. ' SeMA Afrimn News, Nov. 7. 

* Central Newi Tele£rain, " Ttnus, Nov. 7. 

* Timts, Dec. G, 1900, from a Correspondent. 


" Orange River, Nov, 23. 

" The farms belonging to Scholz, who destroyed the line near 
Belmont, have been destroyed." ^ 


"A force from Heidelberg has destroyed 37 farms, sweeping 
off the live stock." 2 

As earlier in the year, the letters of soldiers fill up the bare 
outline of Reuter's messages. Here are a few sentences from 
Lieutenant Morrison's well-known letter — 

"Belfast, Nov, 21. 

" There were a number of very fine farms near by, and we 
saw the Boers leaving them and making off. The provost- 
marshal came up from the main body, removed the Boer 
women and children with their bedding, and proceeded to 
bum or blow up the houses. From that time on during the 
rest of the trek, which lasted four days, our progress was like 
the old-time forages in the Highlands of Scotland two centuries 
ago. . . . We moved on from valley to valley, 'lifting' cattle 
and sheep, burning, looting, and turning out the women and 
children to sit and cry beside the ruins of their once beautiful 
farmsteads. ... It was a terrible thing to see, and I don't 
know that I want to see another trip of the sort, but we could 
not help approving the policy, though it rather revolted most of 
us to be the instruments. . . . We burned a track about six 
miles wide through these fertile valleys, and completely destroyed 
the village of Wilpoort and the town of Dullstroom." 

In similar language Captain March Phillipps continues the 

story from other parts — 

^^ Nov, 23. 

"Kroonstad,^ Lindley, Heilbron, Frankfort, has been our 
round so far. We now turn westward along the south of the 
Vaal. Farm-burning goes merrily on, and our course through 
the country is marked, as in prehistoric ages, by pillars of smoke 
by day and fire by night. We usually bum from six to a dozen 
farms a day ; these being about all that in this sparsely inhabited 
country we encounter. I do not gather that any special reason 
or cause is alleged or proved against the farms burnt. If Boers 
have used the farm ; if the owner is on commando ; if the line 
within a certain distance has been blown up ; or even if there 
are Boers in the neighbourhood who persist in fighting — these 
are some of the reasons. Of course the people living in the 

* South African News, Nov. 28. Reuter. * Daily Mail, Dec. 25. 
' With Himingtonf Letter xxiv. p. 201, 


"4, Mrs. Ferreira (aged seventy-five); farm, Onegegund, 
burned down; all sons prisoners of war, except J, Ferreira, of 
Destadefontein, district of Lady brand, who was killed at 

"5. Louis P. Venter; made prisoner May 10; farm, Doom- 
draai ; district, Winburg; burnt down September 1900; only 
women and children on farm. 

" 6. Jacobus Coetzee ; taken prisoner May 10 ; died at Green 
Point, July 1900; farm, Schilder Kranz; district, Winburg; 
burnt September igoo. 

" 7. Willem A. Venter ; farm, Schilder Kranz ; burnt in 
September 1900, 

"8. Mrs. Elizabeth Venter (widow); house at Doorndraai; 
district, Winburg; burnt September 1900. 

" 9. Sarel van der Walt ; house at Doorndraai ; burnt 
September; said Van der Walt a blind man. 

" 10, Jacobus du Plessis ; farm, Zronhuwfontein ; district, 
Winburg; taken prisoner February 27; farm burnt September 

" In support of what we have the honour to bring to your 
notice, we are able to refer to the accounts of the burning of 
houses and removing of stock which so often appear in the 

" Trusting that your Excellency, as the representative of a 
powerful and Christian nation, will take into favourable con- 
sideration this communication, and trusting that your Excellency 
will express your disapproval of such actions, and that by your 
friendly intervention a stop will be put to the same, we have the 
honour to be, your Excellency's obedient servants. 

(Signed fay all the Boer Officers.) 

By November it was recognised that the burning of farms 
and villages had become indiscriminate, and the Commander- 
in-Chief issued an order defining its limitations — 

"As there appears to be some misunderstanding with 
reference to burning of farms and breaking of dams, Commander- 
in-Chief wishes following to be lines on which General Officers 
Commanding are to act ;^No farm is to be burnt except for 
act of treachery, or when troops have been fired on from 
premises, or as punishment for breaking of telegraph or railway 
line, or when they have been used as bases of operations for 
raids, and then only with direct consent of Genera! Officer 
Commanding, which is to be given in writing ; the mere fact of 


a burgher being absent on commando is on no account to be 
used as reason for burning the house. All cattle, waggons, and 
food-stufFs are to be removed from all farms; if that is found 
to be impossible, they are to be destroyed, whether owner be 
present or not."^ 

On November 30th, Lord Kitchener succeeded Lord Roberts 
as Commander-in-Chief. • 

A committee of surrendered burghers had been formed, and / 

Lord Kitchener addressed these men at Pretoria, offering pro-\ 

tection to their families. A proclamation was issued embodying ; 

this offer, under which a certain number of small farmers, mostly 

Transvaalers, came in to save their goods, and formed waggon 

laagers in some of the camps. Their families thus secured 

comparative ease and comfort. 

** Pretoria, Dec 20. 

" It is hereby notified to all burghers, that if after this date 
they voluntarily surrender they will be allowed to live with their 
families in Government laagers until such time as the guerilla 
warfare now being carried on will admit of their returning safely 
to their homes. All stock and property brought in at the time 
of the surrender of such burghers will be respected and paid for 
if requisitioned by the military authorities.^ 

(Signed) " Kitchener." 

1 Order xl. Cd. 426, Nov. 18. 

* See Morning Leader ^ Dec. 28. Reuter. 

" The wife, whose babe first smiled that day, 
The fair fond bride of yeslei eve, 
And aged sire and matron grey. 
Saw the loved warriots haste away, 
And deemed it sin to etieve." 

William Cullbn Bryant. 

THE preceding chapter will have made it clear that the 
year 1900 had seen almost the whole of the two Re- 
publics reduced to chaos. From January onwards 
helpless families had been wandering homeless, captured, exiled, 
deported hither and thither on foot, in trucks, trolleys, waggons, 
and trains. It may be long before they can fully speak or write 
the story of that twelve months. Some women here and there 
wrote cautiously to friends, intimating rather than dwelling upon 
their experiences. It is my object in this chapter to give a few 
of these letters, written as they were unconsciously, and with no 
view to publication, so that by this means the story may be told 
in their own words by themselves. To these are added accounts 
from a few people who occupied no official position, but gave 
them help in their troubles. Space forbids including all the 
letters which came from one district after another in gloomy 
succession. In nearly every case I hold the originals of these 
letters, though some of them have already been published 
separately. The name of the writer where withheld is known to 
myself, but prudence in some cases forbids its publication for 
the present. 

The spirit in which the bulk of the Boer women faced their 
troubles is well conveyed in this anecdote — 

" In Che beginning of Ibis year, when the cause of the Boers 
began to look uncertain, their leaders appointed a council to 
consider the dangers of the situation. On that occasion, 
General Smuts, in the presence of his men, of whom many had 
their wives with them, addressed his own wife in these words : — 

WOMEN IN 1900 47 

" * The moment is come in which we must choose between 
surrender and war to the utmost, war without end. I have 
duties to you, wife, and to our children. I must fulfil these 
duties. I must not hesitate. I must surrender and sacrifice 
the independence of the people. But you, I, and our children, 
we have also duties towards the country. And if we are true to 
these duties, then we must sacrifice ourselves.' 

"The General's wife opened her mouth to speak, but her 
husband checked her with a sign, and continued: 'First you 
must know all, and then answer. If we choose the country, the 
sacrifices we must make are immense. Listen to me well I 
must expose my life day by day, hour by hour, as long as the 
aim is not yet reached. In other words, I must forget all those 
I love — and you, wife, you and your children, you must foi^et 
every claim that you have upon me. Let us say good-bye 
to each other as if we were already stepping into the valley 
of death, and then go away as far as possible, that no tempta- 
tion come over us to see each other again and to falter in 
the face of the enemy. Choose now between ourselves and our 

"The woman answered these three words: *Go, John — 
farewell ! ' And all the women said even so." ^ 

For the first few months of the year little was heard of the 
privations of the women and children, though it was known that 
their troubles had begun. As early as May 4 the correspondent 
of the Manchester Guardian^ describing his stay at Brandfort, 
dwells upon the sorrowing families there, and calls it " the town 
of miserable women." 

An Englishwoman who lived at Potchefstroom wrote to me 
about the state of that town in June and the succeeding months. 
She says — 

"I^t June, and through the ensuing months, there were 
several families whose relations were fighting and had done much 
harm turned out ; their goods were confiscated and used by the 
English officers, and in many cases sold by auction on the open 
veld. Naturally on the English evacuating Potchefstroom the 
Boers endeavoured to give these families back their property, but 
much was either destroyed or stolen. On the English again 
coming they took the same measures as before. In September last 
the wife and family of Commandant Francis were treated shame- 
fully ; they were turned out of the house, some of the children 
being sick, and would have died had it not been for kind friends 
who fed and kept them from starvation. The mother herself was 
« Wives of the Boers,'* Upright Harlem Newspaper^ 1900. 

I. ■* i 


compelled to go with the English. At this time, too, there were 
in the town many from Griqualand West, who had sought refuge 
and had been living on the kindness of us all. (I gave them an 
empty house, and my husband helped them wilh a few bits of 
furniture and food, as most of them had nothing, not even a bed.) 
These people, who had been living under the English flag, had 
been terrified by reports that the English would kill or treat 
them even worse, so that many of them tried to get away to 
Boer laagers for protection. Those who were left in Potchef- 
stroom were disgracefully handled by rude soldiers, forced to 
climb into waggons, some poor women on the eve of confinement, 
and were taken away. I heard as a fact that two poor women of 
this latter class died from the effects. . . . The English evacuated 
Potchefstroom August 9. The next date of their coming was 
September 10, when they arrested my husband, and sent Kaffirs 
into town all round to arrest Hollanders, Boers, and those who 
were not allowed to remain. They all left on the i6th. Captain 
Maxwell {the only officer who treated women in a kind manner) 
wrote to me very kindly the morning my husband was taken. . . . 
The English did not return till October 29. One night some 
sniping commenced at 7, while we were at supper, myself and my 
little boys, and we ran into the front room, laid flat on the floor, 
and there had to remain till the smaU hours of the morning. 
This sniping occurring rather oftener than was pleasant, we took 
to sleeping in town, and on our return about a week after were 
ordered to remove. Some of my belongings, such as beds, books, 
etc., which stood in the outside room, were stolen, and when I 
asked for the bed, which I wanted to sell, I was told I could not 
have it. . . . 

" One more word about the women and children, who are now 
the chief sufferers in this sad war. I think there are between 
two and three hundred brought away from their homes round 
Potchefstroom, no proper provision whatever having previously 
been made for them,' mostly all deposited on the veld, or given 
such asylum as can be got quite irrespective of numbers and sex ; 
these poor souls, before being able to obtain food, had to stand 
hours outside an office door waiting each her turn for admission 
to ask permit to get her ' daily bread.' When the permit is 
procured, she, with her fellow-sufferers, trudge ofl"to another office, 
and there stand again and wait till her turn comes to receive 
perhaps one or more slips of paper permitting her to obtain a 
few meagre groceries and milk, for which each must send at a 
stated hour. I have heard myself the ofllicer telling women to 
' Sfpt. and Oct. 1900. Birth of Potche&tioom Camp. 

WOMEN IN 1900 49 

come at 7.30 a.m. to receive their food, and having come were 
told to come back again at ten. 

" I could fill many pages with the sufferings that well-to-do 
people are at present enduring. I will tell you anything you 
wish to know, as this subject lies very near my woman's heart." 

Mrs. George Moll, the wife of a prisoner of war, tells her own 
story in writing to Mrs. Steytler of Cape Town. In this instance 
publication was asked for — 

"Durban, 1900. 

" You will no doubt be surprised to get a letter from me, who 
am quite a stranger to you, but I feel as if I must make our case 
known to you noble women of the Cape, so that you can publish 
it in one of the Cape papers. What I intend telling you I 
declare before God is the solemn and honest truth. 

'*My husband was taken prisoner at Elandslaagte thirteen 
months ago. I had to manage alone with my two children, 
which I did very well until the British came to Vrede the 23rd 
August. We lived about an hour from the town. At the time 
when they came I was staying in town, as I had just had a baby 
which was a month old. The British went out to the farm and 
destroyed all my furniture and clothing. From there they went 
to the veld and took all the cattle belonging to me. The herds- 
man told them that the owner of the cattle had been captured 
and that I was in town ; but the answer was * she ought to have 
been here on the farm,' and that they would take everything ; 
so I was left without anything. The second time the British 
occupied Vrede (a month later), they first went to my sister's 
house (Mrs. Cornelius Moll) and drove her and her children 
out of the house without anything, so she fled to my house. A 
little later they came and told us to keep ourselves in readiness 
to go to Standerton. We had only a few hours to get ready, 
when they sent a bullock waggon to load us up for the journey. 
We didn't go very far when the side of the waggon gave way. 
We almost fell between the wheels. They shifted us into 
another old waggon a very little better. So we had to travel to 
Standerton. When we got there we were locked up in a dirty 
old schoolroom. The door was guarded by armed men. They 
brought us food after we were almost starved, which consisted 
of six tins of bully-beef and some biscuits (klinkers) in a dirty 
grain-bag, which was thrown down in front of us; the poor 
children could not eat the biscuits as they were too hard. Next 
morning early we were marched to the station, and ten of us 
were packed into a third-class compartment and the door was 
locked. We had to sit up straight for two whole days and a 



night without being allowed to go out once. Our poor children 
wanted to get out but they could not. They were almost 
starved. They would not allow me to get food for my baby, 
who was then little more than two months old. She had to 
travel all the way, you may say, without anything. Miss Marie 
le Roux (who is now in Caledon) and I warmed some water over 
a candle {as I wasn't allowed to buy spirits or anything) to mix 
a little condensed milk for the child. Along the road they told 
the Kaffirs to drive us nicely as they were going to marry us 
when we got to Natal. When we got here we had to stand for 
ever so long with our tired, hungry children, not knowing where 
to go. After a lot of bother we were marched off to a private 
boarding-house, and we were kept there for a week, when we got 
notice that we would have to pay our own expenses in the 
future. We had no money. We only left with a few pounds 
in our pockets. You can never imagine what we had to go 
through. We managed to hire a cottage, so we took in a few 
of our people who are on parole here — Mr. Enslin, our Dutch 
minister from Vrede, and a few others, so we have to manage 
along. We can hardly make ends meet. We heard from some 
of the inhabitants of Durban that the military say we asked them 
for protection, which is a falsehood — we never did anything of 
the kind. That's why they say we were sent down here. , We 
have to report ourselves every day like the men. My sister was 
very ill just before we left Vrede. She was taken away sick and 
has been sick ever since. She asked the doctor here for a certifi- 
cate to show the military that the heat was too much for her. 

" Mrs. Homan has just come from Harrismith. She says a 
few days before she left the British brought in a lot of families 
from different farms. One poor lady was sick and had to rush 
into the first house she could gel, and a few minutes after that 
she was confined. 

" It is most heartbreaking if you hear all these things, knowing 
how we had and have to suffer." 

Mrs. Van Vuuren, deported from her home in the Free State, 
wrote to Mrs. Koopmans de Wet in gratitude for help given 
when destitute — 

"Capb Town, Sept. i8, 1900. 

"How shall I thank you for helping me in my great need — 
and one who is a perfect stranger to you ? Was it not good of 
our Heavenly Father to have given it in the heart of the lady in 
England to send you the money ? 

"I started cutting out at once, and now we have finished 

WOMEN IN 1900 61 

several under-garments. My costume is also finished. Thank 
you so very much for the great gifts. 

'* If any one had said to me a year ago that I would befdre 
the end oFiqco be homeless and penniless in a strange country, 
I would have said, *It can never be.' Ah, how many of my 
dear countrywomen are in the same condition ; and, alas, many 
are worse off than myself . . . 

" You know so little about my sad experience, as I was here 
only two days when your loving heart found its way to a poor 
and lonely stranger, that I must tell you how I came here. 

" My dear husband and three sons left me last October 1899. 
My eldest boy, twenty-one years, was killed in January. How I 
felt the hand of the cruel war — yet not once have I regretted that 
he went out to fight for his dear country. Yes, for his own 
country, bought with the blood of forefathers, which the cruel 
money-seekers want to take from us. 

"The next blow was that my husband and two sons were 
sent to Ceylon. 

" How terrible the news was to us to hear that our dear ones 
must go so far away. Here in Cape Town we knew were many 
Christian hearts who did for our people what they could to 
sweeten the bitter cup. It is so hard to know that we are 
separated from our dear ones by a vast expanse of water. I was 
then left alone with my only little girl of nine years, and my 
darling boy of thirteen years. 

" AH that last week of August last the report was that * General 
De Wet was in the vicinity of Wepener.' Our hearts rejoiced to 
think that once more would we poor women be protected. We 
were always in fear and trembling while the soldiers were about. 
They would open our doors, march in, search every room, and 
take whatever they fancied. Not once, but time after time. 

" Each Dutch woman had to sleep in her own house, and we 
were never allowed to get another friend in to sleep with us, 
whether alone with a Kaffir boy or otherwise. I have heart 
disease very badly, and have often tried to have some friend with 
me for the night, but could not get permission. 

"On Friday, August 31, another dark cloud was near. My 
little boy was busy giving the horses water, when two policemen 
took him away. I ran out and asked what was wrong, one 
turned round and said — *We have orders from the Major to 
put him across the border (that is Basutoland) for some days.' 
I asked for permission to bid him good-bye, but was not allowed. 
I felt my heart would break. My heart got a fearful shock. I 
was quite sick. We sent for the doctor. I thought my cup oC 


sorrow was filled to tlie brim, and that if anything else came I 
would be crushed. But my cup was not yet fuU, for on the 
Sunday evening, when I was already in my room for the night, 
there came a loud and harsh knock, I at once felt it could 
bring no good news. My little girl at once said — ' Oh, mother, 
it is surely a soldier. What shall wc do ? Don't open the door, 
mother.' I knew I had to open the door or else they would burst 
it. I called out to wait for a moment. While putting on my 
bodice it was one long question : 'Oh, what can it be? Is my 
cup not yet full?' I opened the door. There were two 
policemen and a cart. 'You have five minutes to get ready. 
You must go away by this carl for a few days. On Wednesday 
you will be back again.' I asked if they would ask my neigh- 
bour to come over so that I might leave directions re my 
property. Of course that was refused. I asked why they were 
sending us away — they did not know, were only carrying out 
orders. I was told that I may not take a single thing with me. 
I asked if I might take a rug since it was a cold night. That 
the hearts of stone did not refuse. We travelled all that night 
to Eloemfontein — my little girl and I in a post-cart, and only one 
rug to cover us with, The next morning we were put on the 
train. A ticket was given us but nothing said. A few minutes 
later the train steamed out of the station. I was so taken aback, 
and everything came upon me so unexpectedly, that I had no 
time before for reflection. My last thought was Cape Town. 
But BO it was, as the ticket said so. Imagine how I felt on 
seeing that. No money, no food or rugs. Neither did the 
kind, civilised Major think of seeing to the needs of a poor, 
barbarous Boer woman. If only he had told me to provide for 
a long journey. But our God, who has so wonderfully helped 
us in this unrighteous war, was with me even on the train. The 
wife of a Dutch minister travelled part of the way with me, and 
she helped us. 

" Never shall I forget the awful feeling of loneliness which got 
hold of me on arriving in this great and strange city. Where 
should I go? Who is there to help me? Alone and without 
money. May the Major's wife never have a similar experience. 
At last some one took me to the Refugee Relief Committee. On 
hearing that I was a Boer woman, was told—' No, we cannot 
help you, your people are fighting against our people. Go to 
the Dutch ministers to help you.* They gave me the address 
of the Rev. Van Heerden, He then brought me to this Home, 
where I was most kindly received. I at once felt easier. I waa 
then amongst my own people. I immediately wrote to Colonel 

WOMEN IN 1900 53 

Heyman at the Castle, saying the military sent me down here and 
they were to provide for me. His reply was — * We know nothing 
about you and can have nothing to do with you.' If only I 
could go back to my home. Then I would be nearer my 
darling little boy. It is so terribly hard to be torn away from 
kith and kin like this. And what is so hard is that mine is not 
an isolated case, but there are hundreds of such cases. Never 
can you people down here know what we, women and young 
innocent girls, have to suffer. Do you wonder that we cannot 
bow down to English rule ? Not if you knew everything. We 
are willing to suffer more, and for another year, if only, we get our 
independence back. That is all we want. No gold or silver. 
Will our faithful God then not hear us ? 

" I must write no more, as I feel it is exciting me. 

"May our dear Heavenly Father crown you and the dear 
unknown English lady with His richest blessing, and spare you 
both to be a bright and cheerful ray of light to many a sorrowing 
heart. Once more thanking you very much, — I remain, yours 
gratefully, Gertruida Van Vuuren." 

This was written in those far-off days when as yet it was not 
held credible that women should be turned penniless from their 
homes, and deported at the will of the military. A lady in Cape 
Town thinking, therefore, that there must be some mistake, wired \ 
to the Officer Commanding Wepener — 

" Cannot Mrs. Van Vuuren return to her home ? At whose 
expense is she here ? " 

The reply received was as follows : — 

" I cannot have Mrs. Van Vuuren here. She is on her own 
expense so far as I am concerned. She may live where she likes 
except in the districts of Moroka and Wepener. 

" Major Wright, 
Officer Commanding Wepener." 

The next letter is from Miss EUie Cronje to Miss ,'. 

" Wellington, Cape Colony, Nov, 6, 1900. 

" No doubt you will be very surprised to hear from me, and 
wonder why we are at Wellington. 

"My mother, a lady friend, and I were sent here by the 
military authority. 

" Knowing what an interest you take in our people, I would 
like to give you an account of my experience during this war. I 
hope you will understand, after having read my story, how much 


tbe homeless women really do suffer in the Free State. My 
story is quite true. Our farm lies three hours from \Vinburg. 

" My father, General Cronje, who served in Natal, and later 
on in the Free State, and four brothers, joined the commandoes in 
the beginning of October, the fifth brother left for the front on 
the 8th of January. One of the four who went first, being ill, 
came home, but for a short time only. Two of my brothers were 
taken prisoners, one with General Cronje in February, and one 
after being wounded at Koedoo's Rand was taken prisoner at 
Bloemfontein. On the loth of May we had our last visit from 
my father, since then we have not seen him. 

" My mother, a lady teacher from a neighbouring village, and 
myself, with our servants, were alone on the farm after May loth. 
A week after that date Genera! Macdonald camped for the night 
on the farm. Nextdaywe received our passes from two policemen 
sent out to the farm by order of the provost-marshal. General 
ColvUle with his force passed a few days later, they also camped 
on the farm for the night ; the General sending up a night- 
watch to guard the house, only a few of the soldiers called 
at the house to buy food. On July 6 General Brabant camped 
about half an hour's distance from the house, remaining for a few 
days. Lieutenant Morris came to the house, with his men and 
other soldiers ; they bought food, some paying for what they got 
and others not. They poured into every room in the house 
except my mother's bedroom ; they took many things from the 
sitting, dining, and bedrooms. The house was a fairly lai^e one, 
containing drawing-room, dining-room, six bedrooms, kitchen, 
and pantries, a verandah and stoep run round three sides. 
There was a poster on the door of the waggon-house, given by 
order of the provost-marshal, saying that nothing was to be 
removed without his orders; of this they took no notice, and 
took our buUock-wa^on, horse-waggon, mealies, harness, and 
vegetables, also a load of forage, 12 oxen, poultry, and other things. 
We asked Lieutenant Morris for a receipt, he said we should get 
one from his men, but they said they had no right to give receipts, 
so we got nothing for all these things. Our oxen were sent to 
Ficksburg by one of our native servants, who on his return 
showed us — gave us — his pass, which stated that he was not to be 
interfered with as he had been sent in charge of 'Captured 
Stock' ; ibis pass we kept for future use, but after a little while 
the 'boy' demanded it, and for fear of annoyance we gave it lo 
him. After this troops passed several times, but gave us no 
trouble. A force again passed in September; we asked a captain 
who the General was, and be told us General Colville ; this was not 

WOMEN IN 1900 56 

so, for we soon found that it was some one else. A few officers 
with their soldiers (Highlanders) called at the house to buy 
eggs, butter, and ham, which they payed for. They were very 
nice. Then some other officers and men came, who were very 
uncivil. They took the cart, etc., and cleared the waggon- 
house, leaving us no means of getting about. They took dried 
fruit and blankets, and from the loft even servants' clothing 
was taken. An officer marched into the kitchen, and asked 
all sorts of silly questions — did we do any work ? who killed our 
pigs and sheep for us? He went into the pantry and said, * I'd 
better take all the things (canned fruit, etc.) or else you will give and 
make nice things for the Boers when they come again.' In the 
dining-room he told me he was going to bum the house, and asked 
what reasons could I give that he should not do so. I said, ' In 
the first place it is cruel to treat families as you are treating them, 
and in the second place what is to become of my poor mother ? ' 
He said, * Oh, you must not think of your old mother now, when 
the house is burnt you must go and live with the Kaffirs ; you 
will like that, won't you?' To my mother he said, *Go and 
fetch your old man by his beard and fasten him to the table and 
tell him to plough his lands.' He also said we would not get an 
inch of ground even if my father did come back, and, further, 
that we were the most cunning, slyest, cleverest people he had 
ever had to do with. * You send the Boers nice things, have 
news of your father, and when we come and ask where the Boers 
are you pretend to be quite innocent, and say " We have not 
seen them for months." ' He left, and sent two waggons for forage, 

" On September i6 a small fight took place close to the farm. 
On the 1 7th six English came to the house to ask where the Boers 
were. On the morning of the i8th two men came to the house 
and asked who the owner of the farm was, whether he was still 
fighting, who my mother was, and whether any of my brothers 
were still fighting. I answered these questions. They then asked 
if the Boers called at the house when passing, and whether any 
of them actually entered the house, and who these were. We 
told them the Boers did call when they passed ; how could we 
prevent them, our own people, when we could not keep the 
soldiers out? Mother said she never asked their names, and 
added, * I do not ask you what your name is ; you go away and 
I never know to whom I have been speaking.' Then they tried 
to find out about the Boers from the Kaffir boys. Just before 
riding away they called the boy aside, and told him to tell mother 
to carry out her furniture because tiiey were coming back with 

Colonel White's men to burn the house. We had about an 
hour to cairy out furniture from the drawing and bedrooms, 
our piano and sideboard. While we were busy the troops came. 
They poured something over the floors to make them bum, and 
soon the dwelling-house and outside buildings were in flames, 
and soon our comfortable home was gone. My mother, our 
lady friend, and I remained outside amongst the furniture we 
had removed and watched the burning. One of the men asked 
where we intended sleeping that night. I said, ' If I had burned 
the house I would have known where to have gone and what to 
have done.' Others said, ' You have to thank Presidents Steyn 
and Kruger for this. Why do they not come and give in, why do 
they go about lite robbers?' So we said, 'They will never, 
never give in ; they are fighting for their country, and you are 
fighting women because you know they will not shoot back.' 
We also asked would they give in if we were fighting them and 
started burning their houses and sending women into the open 
veld without a morsel of food because their husbands and 
fathers and brothers would not give in? While we were still 
carrying out things the cutlery was taken from the sideboard 
drawers, along with a lot of things from the kitchen. A soldier 
helped himself from our butter-barrel with his hands, and when 
we asked him to leave that alone be replied we might be thankful 
we had saved something, by rights everything should have gone. 
That night we Slept out among the furniture standing on the 
'werf,' the wind carrying sparks over our heads. Twice during 
the night the stables caught fire, and we got up to put it out so 
that we might have some shelter for the next night. Nest day 
we had the stables cleaned and our goods carried in there, and 
there we slept the second night. They now took our remaining 
horses, cattle, and other things, and were going to send to gather 
the sheep. I asked for one cow to be left. The reply was, ' Not 
one — not one.' Thirteen waggons were sent to take all the 
homeless women to the town. On that day seventeen other 
families had been made homeless. Most of these are very poor 
and have a lot of Uttle children. We did not want to go to the 
town, and asked to be left on the farm, hoping to be allowed to 
remain in the stables ; there was no help for it, we had to go. 
We have our own house in the town, and were promised we 
might go into that. On this (Thursday) morning we were just 
going to have our breakfast in the ruined kitchen when a major 
came in and hurried us out of it to get our bags of clothes, etc, 
on the waggon. While we were doing this a soldier told me this 
Major was eating our breakfast ; I went in and asked was be not 

WOMEN IN 1900 57 

ashamed of himself seeing this was all the food we had? he 
appeared to be, and then tried to get us something. At ten we 
were put in an open bullock-waggon and were sent in to town, 
which we reached at half-past seven that night, after having been 
exposed to the hot sun all day. The Major calmly said, * You 
are only common working people and used to such a rough life.' 
When we got to town they refused to give us our house and sent 
us to the hotel — paying for us. This was on September 20. On 
the 23rd the Commandant came to see us, and said we were to 
go either to Bloemfontein or to the Colony ; should we refuse 
we should be sent later on with the other women in open trucks 
to Bloemfontein and placed in tents there — these were his orders. 
He further promised that if we went to Cape Town we would see 
our prisoner brothers at Green Point every afternoon. An officer 
standing by said, * No, my dear girl, you will never see them ; you 
might see them through the bars but won't be allowed to speak 
to them.' 

" At Winburg there were a number of families less fortunate 
than ourselves, who were obliged to crowd together ; they received 
food from the military, but were without any comforts for the 
little children, the sick, and the old women. These people had 
been able to bring nothing with them. One of these women, in 
my presence, told the military that when she tried to save some 
of her children's clothing the soldiers threw these back into the 
flames. Another woman had with her twins of five months old, 
children of her daughter, who had died soon after their birth — 
when sent in she had asked for milk for these children, but it was 
not given her. 

" These are only a few instances out of many cases of equal 
suffering. These unfortunate women were told by the Com- 
mandant that on no account would they be allowed to remain 
where they were, they would be sent to a women's camp at 
Bloemfontein. Can any one imagine, without indignation, the 
misery of such a place — no privacy, the herding together of 
young and old, and barely the necessaries of life ? 

" I did not think my story would be so long, but I only hope 
this will give you some idea of what the poor homeless families 
must suffer in the Free State. My statements are all true. — 
Yours sincerely, Ellie Cronje." 

The. above is that letter from Miss Cronje which was 
published by Mr. John Morley in the Times of November 1 7, 1900, 
and which caused such a wave of feeling throughout the country. 
The farm is amongst those mentioned in the Government 


Retuni ' (Welgelegen, Dist, Winburg) as having been burnt on 
September i8, 1900, and the reason given is an "order to lay 
waste the Doornberg district" The Return gives seventeen 
farms as having been destroyed that same day, which agrees 
with Miss Cronje's statement that seventeen families had been 
made homeless. 

When 1 saw Miss Ellie Cronje she was living in exile with 
her mother in Cape Colony. She received me very civilly, and 
seemed relieved to tell me her story. There was not a trace of 
self-pity in the way she dwelt upon her sufferings — on the 
contrary, she gloried in them ; it was a source of strength and 
comfort to the girl to feel that she too had suffered for her 
country — but she is anxious the world should know how they 
have suffered and what hard things they have endured. She 
was delicately careful not to hurt my feelings, and there was not 
a shade of bitterness expressed either by the girl or her mother 
' towards the English people or the Queen. 

Mrs. Cronje, who spoke only Dutch, is a quiet, dignified 
woman, tier first remark was to express sorrow for the many 
English soldiers who had faUen. "Both sides have suffered 
much," she said, "and neither English nor Boer is to blame ; it 
is the fault of the millionaires." She made no allusion to her 
own losses, Miss Cronje said five farms in their family had 
, been burnt ; their own, those of her two married sisters and of 
her two married brothers. In her sister's case the soldiers came 
when it was early and she was but partially dressed, with her 
hair all down her back. In this state the poor thing had to watch 
her house burnt, while Kaffirs tore the rings off her fingers. Then, 
as all vehicles had been taken, she and her five children had to 
trudge into the town, a two hours' walk. Miss Cronje spoke with 
gratitude of General Colville's conduct towards them. " We all 
loved him," she said. At one time he sent up a guard to protect 
their house at night. On the other hand, the women shrank 
from some of the officers. One of them said to her, in answer to 
her question why the houses should be burnt, " We bum them 
because your men won't give in, and if that won't do we'll bum 
the women next," " Then why not begin with me ? " she replied ; 
" I am here, and quite ready to suffer for my country." 

" But there are bad Boers too," wound up Miss Cronje, " and 
there are good English. I was very grateful to an Imperial 
Yeoman who, seeing our condition, most considerately offered me 
money or any assistance, and said he felt ashamed of the things 
done and said." 

' Cd. SH- 

WOMEN IN 1900 59 

The next letter describes the eviction of Mrs. John Murray, 
wife of the missionary in the district of Waterberg, Transvaal. 
The mission station, which appears to have been burnt in Septem- 
ber or October, is not mentioned in the Government Return — 

Mrs. John Murray to a Relative. 

(Received Dec, 17, 1900.) 

" At last I am able to write you a few lines. I took ill the 
very day I arrived here, and have been three weeks in bed. I 
only got up for the first time this morning. . . . During the past 
year of war I tried in various ways to write letter after letter to 
you, but after some months all our letters were returned to us 
again. You can imagine how disappointed [we] were. We re- 
ceived some of your letters, but not all. We had always food 
in the house, although we had sometimes to pay tremendous 
prices for it. But last month our provisions were getting so low, 
and there was no way of getting anything, so on the 17th J. left 
me by cart for Delagoa Bay to telegraph to Mr. R. for his salary 
that he might buy provisions. The day after J. left, W. H. drove 
out to our mission station to fetch me to spend a few days with 
them. J. had asked him to take care of me. 

"I had only left a few days when the British came. We 
were then on the fighting line, and our people with General 
Grobelaar were about a mile from the house we were in, on the 
mountains, and the tremendous English camp about ten minutes 
from us. 

"We had cannon and rifle firing over the house for more 
than two weeks ; we never hardly put our heads out of our doors 
during the day; and it was dreadful to see the dead and 
wounded being carried forth. The English took all the food 
we had, leaving us hardly enough for a fortnight. It was terribly 
hard when we had no more bread for the little children. Then 
I applied to the British for food, but they said they could do 
nothing. Then they gave us two hours' notice to leave for 
Pretoria ; Mr. and Mrs. A. and their children, Mr. and Mrs. H. 
and child, and myself and three children. We were all put into 
cattle-trucks. I was not even allowed to send home to fetch 
aome.dothes for the journey. 

all sent away because the officer said every home- 

* e burned down, so you can imagine with what 

\s we U es. I told the officer that our 

was ( I property, but he said it made 

no difference ! It is hard to think we have perhaps lost every- 
thing. I expected J. the week before we left, but the officer 
said he would not be allowed to get through, so I cannot think 
what has become of him. The officer said if J. had been in the 
station he would have been taken prisoner and sent to Ceyion, 
adding that ministers, missionaries, and Boers are all treated 
alike ! I feel very anxious about J., but I know the dear Lord 
will take care of him. Oh 1 you cannot think what poverty and 
misery there is in the Transvaal, not so much in towns as in 
farms. It is dreadful to see the homes burned down, and not a 
living thing about." 

Mrs. Murray gives further particulars upon another occasion. 
I The officers said to her, " You women are the cause of this war, 
if you were to give in your husbands would give in too. You 
must go and tell your uncle Louis Botha to surrender." " Louis 
Botha will care nothing what I say," she replied. Mrs. Murray 
asked an officer why the British were burning all the farms, and 
he replied, " Oh, because when you are all poor we can buy your 
farms for pretty well nothing, and then your husbands will be our 
servants and you women will serve our wives." 

When the troops came they were ordered to give up all their 
supplies— the meal, the rice, etc., which, with the milk of the cow, 
Mrs. Murray and the children had managed to live on up to 
then. " But what is to become of us ? " she asked. " If any one 
is to suffer you must be the ones to suffer, not we," they said, and 
gave her two bags of hard mealies. "But the baby cannot live 
on these," she exclaimed in horror. " It is all you will get," 
they replied. If she had not previously secreted a little meal 
under a mattress the baby must have died, as she was not nursing 
him herself- 

When the order came to bum down the house, Mrs. Murray 
protested, on the score of Jhe house not being her own but 
Church property, but they turned a deaf ear to ail she said. She 
hurriedly put together a few parcels of clothes, and placed them 
. on the stoep for putting on the waggon, but the soldiers tossed 
them all away. She was obliged to come away in the old dress 
she was wearing about the house, and all she carried was a small 
hand-parcel of a few necessaries for the baby. They were placed 
on the waggon and driven through the British camp towards 
Warmbaths. Soldiers guarded the waggon with fixed bayonets 
both in front and behind. At Warmbaths they were put into a 
dirty cattle-truck which had carried cattle the day before and 
not been cleaned out, and sat there exposed to the cold without 

WOMEN IN 1900 61 

wraps from lo a.m. to lo p.m., when they arrived at Pretoria. 
She asked to be allowed to go to her aunt, Mrs. Louis Botha, 
but this was refused. Mrs. Murray argued that her children 
would perish of cold if they sat all night long in the cattle-truck. 
Upon this they were allowed to go into the ladies' waiting-room, 
and locked in. Every scrap of furniture had been removed from 
this room, even to the carpet, and there was nothing on which to 
sit or lie but the bare floor. It was lighted above by a skylight, 
which was out of order and would not shut, and the night was 
bitterly cold. She lay down on the floor with her maid and the 
children, and the wind streamed down from the skylight and 
they could not sleep. She took off her own skirt and wrapped 
one child in that, and the other was wrapped in the maid's skirt. 
The baby screamed all night from cold and hunger. In the 
morning Mrs. Murray called out to the soldiers from the 
window, " If you do not let us out this child will die." At first 
they said she must stay were she was, for she was to be taken 
down to the Women's Camp at Port Elizabeth, but finally they 
allowed her to go and see her aunt. Mrs. Botha took her at 
once to Governor Maxwell, and through her influence Mrs. 
Murray was allowed to proceed to her parents in NataL Her 
health, however, was severely, and it is to be feared permanently, 
injured by all she had undergone. In Natal she was three 
weeks in bed, and on coming to Cape Colony to live with 
relations she was four months in bed, and had to undergo a 
bad operation. The doctor said had she gone to a camp she 
must have died. 

At Green Point, prisoners were beginning to learn from letters 
and also from new-comers of the capture of their wives and 

To A Prisoner of War from his Wife. 

" Natal, Sept. 1900. 

" Dear , I received your letter ; I had just written to 

Ceylon and St. Helena to hear if you were there when your 
letter came ; you cannot think how thankful I was. We cannot 
find out why we are taken prisoners. We left Vrede in two buck- 
waggons, and had only two hours to get all ready. From Standerton 
we went in third-class carriages, ten of us in one compartment. For 
two days and one night we were locked up in these carriages 
almost without food. Baby takes a bottle, but I was not allowed 
to make food for her ; I had a little spirit stove, but they would 
not let me buy spirits for it At first they paid our expenses, but 
now we must manage for ourselves or go to the Refugee Camp, 


where we should get 7 Jd. a day, We thanked them, and preferred 
to pay our own expenses. We have hired a nice house, food 
is cheap, so we are comfortable. We must report ourselves 
daily at the office. Our home is totally ruined, everything 
smashed in it and all our cattle taken except a few goats. Myrtle 
is grown a great deal, so has Eric ; baby [bom while the father 
was in prison] is very like him. What shall I call her ? She is not 
yet christened. Willem is prisoner here on a ship. Yours, etc." 

To A Prisoner of War from his Wife. 

"Durban, Sept. 12, 
"Much Beloved, — You will be surprised to hear that I 
and our children have all been taken prisoners and are here in 
Durban. The Utfle one [only four months old] is such a strong, 
healthy, and pretty child." 

To A Prisoner of War from his Mother, giving earliest 


" Eloemfontkin, Oct. 17. 
" We were taken out of our house and the house was burnt 
It is to-day a week since we arrived here [Bioemfontein]. We 
were 15 days at Winbut^ and had a comfortable house belonging 

lo Mr. , who was willing to do everything for us, but to 

punish us we were sent to this place. We were not allowed to 
Lake anything with us but our clothes ; we get rations (chilled 
meat and baker's bread). It is very hard to be beggars, but I 
hope everything will come right. We are half an hour from 
Bloemfontein, in a camp ; they call it the Refugee Camp. 
There are 13 families in the camp, We are placed 12 in one 
tent, and your mother is cook, for we were forbidden to bring 
servants. You can imagine what it is to wash clothes, etc., in 
a small bath. They cart the water here in two vats for the use 
of all the people. You can fancy what things look like ; and we 
must gather for ourselves and chop the green bushes to make 
a fire. There are no cattle here, and we have to use mule dung 
to light the fire with. Your loving mother." 

To A Friend in Cape Town, 
" Blobmfontbin F&malb Prisoners' Camp, Nov. 30. 

" Dear , Only a few lines to tel! you that I was taken 

[caught] last Sunday and sent to Sanna's Post. I then asked 

WOMEN IN 1900 68 

that my children [aged $ years, 3 years, and 18 months] might be 
sent for to be sent along with me, as I could not think of them 
alone on the farm. Now we are all here in a tent ; old Aunt 
N. and my sister also. The latter they brought here with 
her three little sons. They would not even allow her to bring 
her baby. Oh ! unless God come to help us, I do not know 
what is going to become of us. I must perish in my misery 
with my chilcken. I entreated them to let me go into a boarding- 
house, but it was positively refused me. I had to go to a camp. 
No mercy ! I am hoping and trusting in God. He will hear 
us and send us deliverance. If I have to endure ever so much 
I shall remain an Afrikander. Do, dear, pray much for us all. 
God alone knows what we have to suffer. I may not write or 
I would tell you all. Christie and John are both ill, as they 
sent us in an open cart six hours' distance in the glowing hot 
sun. And now here in the tent it is very hot. No animal can 
live in it. Here are many people we know from different places. 
Uncle P. T. and his aged wife. Do write soon. I am longing 
to hear from you. The oats that I got sown are now standing 
beautiful on the field. When I went away I sent C. [the Kaffir 
servant] to reap it, but I do not believe they will allow it. 
" Loving greetings from myself and the children." 

Mrs. J. R. Green who, as is well known, visited the prisoners ^ 
of war in St. Helena, has kindly supplied from her notes a I 
few anecdotes which show clearly the anxiety felt by the men ! 
for the safety of their families in the unsettled state of the 
country — 

** Wednesday f Oct, lo, 1900. 

"... Among the new prisoners there are, I am told, about 
sixty farmers taken up on their farms and sent off without any 
reason given. . . . One told me his wife and three children 
were now left alone on the farm — the eldest girl 13, the eldest 
boy 1 1 — three miles from the nearest neighbour. There were 
others in the same distress. The country unsettled, prowlers, 
and men stealing what they could get, and the like. The father 
of the three children, when his arms were taken some time ago, 
had begged to keep one Mauser, given him by Joubert, to protect 
his farm. When the English came to his farm first they took 
the black boy and asked him where he had buried his arms. 
The boy did not know. *They beat him badly. Still he did 
not know. *You must know,' they said; 'you were the boy 
who drove and went everywhere with him.' 'That was my 
brother,' said the boy, *and he went away many weeks ago.' 

The Kaffirs were frightened at all this, and left the farm, all but 

" I asked if he was charged with concealing ammunition. 
'No, thiire was no charge,' he said. 'I was a Progressive 
member of the Raad ' (he was a very educated and superior 
man), 'and for ten years I have been struggling to av-ert this 
war.' 'Your sorrow must be great?' I said. 'Oh, Mrs, 
Green, I cannot tell it. I am like a son mourning for his 
mother ; and what I fear is that now there will begin a set 
of horrible murders, such as history has never told of before. 
I used to hear that if you burned a man's house you turned 
him into a soldier. Now I have seen it all round me, and 
I know that if you burn a man's house down you turn a coward 
into a hero. When a man has seen his wife and children 
turned out of doors with nothing but what they have on, and 
the house blown up, that man does not care from that time 
what he does.' The men out now are desperate men." 

Mrs. Green continues — 

"Then I was fetched to Roos's tent. ... A very young- 
looking boy was brought, Du Toit. I thought him about 
17. He was zi. . . , He was taken on September 10 
at Polchefstroom. ... On the 15th his mother was taken 
as 'prisoner of war' and put in prison. At eight in the 
evening he was sent out with a guard to fetch the baby to her. 
There were five other children, the eldest girl 16, the 
youngest 3 — and these were left alone. He does not know 
where they are. His mother and the baby were sent to prison 
in Johannesburg. No reason was given for the arrest. He has 
no idea why she was taken, (Waldeck said he heard the mother 
had been out on the farm some little time before to drive in the 
horses, and found a wounded Boer lying in the field, and had 
carried him not to her own bouse, but to some other shelter. 
He thinks that may have been the charge.) Of the ten mothers 
he thinks eight were sent to Naauwpoort ; thirty-one women and 
children taken in all. The whole house was sacked ; everything 
taken out of it but the mattresses, and the farm wasted, and 
every beast or fowl on it cleared off, and then these five children 
- were left. . . . 

" . . , . They cannot tell why women are seized. Some say 
to keep the Boers from firing on the troops with prisoners. 
Some think it is to force the husbands to come and give them- 
selves up and set the wives free. Zinn, in the hospital, had been 
also on the journey with the women prisoners. He said it was 

WOMEN IN 1900 65 

a pitiable sight. The number of children, many in arms, not a 
year old, wailing and crying. His anger is very, very hot. 

"Oct. 12, 1900. Friday. — Commandant Wolmarans . . . 
asked me to lunch in tent. Commandant Viljoen with him. . . . 
Talked of the women and children turned out. * God knows, 
no one else knows, how they can live.' Old white-haired 
Viljoen never spoke. . . . Wolmarans asked me to stay, and 
poured out his story with vehement animation. His wife 
died seven years ago. His house was shut up, he being away. 
One son of 14 was living near with a married sister. The 
soldiers came (these new prisoners report), tore the roof off the 
house, wrecked it, and took everything away. They drove off 
his cattle, every single thing on the farm. The boy of 14 ran 
after the cattle to try and drive them back. They took him 
prisoner of war to Johannesburg with another boy, and kept them 
in gaol some days. Then had them out, gave them ten strokes 
with a stick, and turned them out. One boy shrieked and cried. 
Wolmarans' son said not a word nor dropped a tear. When it 
was over he said, * Now I will shoot the English.' Wolmarans 
tells that these blows, which must have been given by an official's 
order, are worse to him than the destruction of all his property. 
To all of them it was a horrible insult. This story and others 
have given all the camp a new fear as to what may have happened 
to their families. They had expected under Roberts' proclama- 
tion that the farms of surrendered men would be protected from 
the English soldiers. They still think they ought to be." 

Mrs. p. J. Botha to a Sister in Cape Town. 

«»Bloemfontein Camp, Dec. 20. 
" This is just to let you know our whereabouts. I and my 
family were sent here eight days ago with thirty other families from 
Philippolis. You can well imagine how longing we are to hear 
from our dear ones — it was in September we had the last letters. 
Communication has been cut off since then, and now we are 
here. I need not tell what camp life is like, being placed with 
all classes and all conditions in one place; it is too rough to 
describe to any one, I never knew tent life was so hard. I have 
a bell-tent, with all my children [5] ; in dry weather it is very hot^ 
but don't speak of wet weather, when the water nms in under one 
and wets all one's bedding, and water leaking from above. You 
would be amused and sad to see your poor old sister trotting 
after the water-cart to get a water supply, then up the kopjes to 
gather wood ; we have to find it all ourselves. We get Govern- 


ment rations, meat, bread, sugar, coffee, no luxuries. Still we 
are satisfied, it might have been worse. We are not allowed lo 

go into town or else I could go and see A [brother], and they 

are not allowed to come to camp or send ai:y eatables, but he sent 
me a mattress and chairs and waterproof to make our lent a bit 
comfortable. ... I tried to get a permit lo go to Cape Town, 
but was refused. Mind, Hessie dear, in a way I feel proud to 
suffer with my people, for one can never really sympathise before 
being placed in the same circumstances, and now I assure you I 
can in full sympathise with all. ... I have very much to be 
thankful for, it might have been worse. I hear our dear boy has 
been sent to Ceylon — from my husband I have not heard for 
months. ... I will never be dissatisfied with anything again, for 
I have had it too hard ; all my things 1 have lost. When I was 
driven out of my house and home and went into Susan's house, 
I stored all my things in a room of a Mr. Gertenbach, and that 
has all been destroyed, so we have nothing to lose more. 
Naked we came into the world and naked we will have to leave 
it. I have much to write, but for the present we must be 
satisfied, I find it very dilEcult to write as we have no table to 
write on, . , . " 

From a Free State Lady, describing thk Early Camp 


"Oct. 29, 

" Oh ! it is so wearying, and one looks forward fearfully. 
Boers are brought in dailyj some as prisoners and others who 
have laid down their arms. The wives and children of many of 
our well-to-do farmers, whose farms have been burnt out and 
everything taken, are dumped down in tents in the direction of 
Spitz Kop on the dusty veld. The bread supplied them by the 
military authorities is so bitter they cannot eat it, and there is 
much sickness." 

From the same Lady. 

"Bloemfontbin, AW 14, 

" Only yesterday more women and children were brought 
from the camp to be sent to Norval's Pont, scarcity of water 
being the reason given ; and along the street some insolent 
natives chaffed the native drivers, shouting, 'Where did you 
pick up that lot?' Poor weeping women and children, and 
the guard not manly enough to protect them from insult J I 
could fill pages. Misery and suffering are everywhere, and 
poverty gaunt. Yesterday was a terrific day — a fierce wind 

WOMEN IN 1900 67 

n^ed, and about two o'clock the clouds gathered and we 
hoped rain was really coming, but dust storm upon storm 
raged all the afternoon, and at sunset it blew madly and the 
whole western sky was vermilion. I thought of those poor 
women in camp with the little babes. The weather is truly 
awful, and natives say, *It can never rain again, there is too 
much blood in the land ! ' What is before us ? God only 
knows. The poverty is overwhelming — no ploughing, no sowing, 
people depressed beyond telling — depressed but dogged." 

A British subject who resided in Bethlehem wrote me a 
description of her deportation to Natal. She gives an account, 
which is the earliest we have, of the camp at Pietermaritzburg, 
where food and necessaries were always comparatively abundant. 
It would be a mistake to suppose that the large tents and 
furniture she describes were provided in all camps, or indeed in 
any after the very first weeks. The people were brought to bell- 
tents really bare. 

"Cape Colony. 

"In October 1900 (26th) we were taken away from 
Bethlehem. We were stopped by a fight with the Boers on 
Mr. Van der Merwe's farm, Mooihoek, about two hours from 
Bethlehem. The Boers were on the rand and kopje at the 
back of the house ; there were none in the house or garden. 

" The English bombarded the house, where the women and 
children were, at intervals from about nine in the morning until 
five in the afternoon. One bomb fell on the schoolroom where 
the women and children were sitting ; they escaped only just in 
time. Owing to the bombs falling on the house they had at last 
to take refuge behind the garden wall ; the bombs and bullets 
were falling thickly around them all the time. 

" When the General came to the house he told Mrs. Van der 
Merwe and Mrs. Pretorius to take out what they wanted quickly 
as the house was to be burnt ; as quickly as they brought them 
out some of the soldiers carried back the things, so that in the 
end they had very little besides what they had on. They were 
brought into camp late that night, having had to walk quite a 
long distance to reach it. 

" In speaking about the matter to Captain Webber, I told him 
that Mrs. Van der Merwe had told me that there were no Boers in 
the house or garden, and that she had not even known that they 
were on the farm. He said that Mrs. Van der Merwe was telling 
a lie. I know Mrs. Van der Merwe to be thoroughly truthful. 

" Our waggons were just at the back of the cannon, and we 
saw the Boers on the rand but none in the garden. There were 
three generals with their forces at this place, but I believe that it 
was General Rundle who took Mrs. Van der Merwe and Mrs, 
Pretorius away. The husbands of these two ladies had both 
been taken prisoners in August. There were about 150 women 
and children in our company, Each family had a waggon, with a 
small tent at the one end; at night each family was provided 
with a small bell-tent ; the tents and waggons then formed the 
sides of a small square in which the women and children could 
walk about when encamped. The corporal and his men who 
had charge of the women did all they could for their comfort. 
The party arrived at Harrismith on the 30th, and remained there 
for a week ; then half of them were sent by train to Maritzburg; 
the first part of the way they were put into second-class carriages, 
at Ladysmith they were put into third-class. 

" On arrival at Maritzbui^ they found tents ready for them, 
but nothing else ; before evening, however, blankets and food 
were supplied. The tents were the large oblong tents with 
double canvas, one for each family. The furniture consisted of 
iron stretchers with straw mattresses, five blankets to each person, 
a table and two benches, a tin basin, a bucket, and a camp-kettle. 
The food was prepared by the women themselves ; a fair amount 
was'given. The women did their own washing ; a shed with good 
water had been put up for the purpose. The great drawback was 
the intense heat, and there was no shade for the children to 
play outside. The women were allowed to go out visiting 
their friends in the town or to go shopping. 

" After spending a fortnight in the camp, I was allowed to go 
home to my friends in Cape Colony." 

From i 

I Friend at 


"My dear Mrs. Louw, — You will no doubt be surprised 
to receive a letter from me from this place. I am now also 
experiencing camp life, and do not find it very convenient. Last 
Sunday I was still at Heidelberg, getting ready to come away. 
Mrs. O. and I were sent off together. When I last saw her 
she was still in a hotel and not on parole yet I was at once 
put on parole, and stayed in an hotel one night, but could not 
stay longer as the room I had was engaged for the next; day. I 
tried to find another place, but that was unprocurable,' as it is 

WOMEN IN 1900 69 

holiday time, and between that and the exiles every vacant place 
was already occupied, so I had no alternative but to come to the 
camp on the understanding that as soon as I could get a moderate 
boarding-place that I would be allowed to go out. I am here 
with the two youngest children ; my boy had to remain behind 
as witness in his cousin's case, which had to come off last week, 
but I was so undesirable that it was impossible to leave me a few 
days longer. My daughter and the boys will come on later. A 
certain colonel is to go into my house ; he means to get his wife 
out. I doubt if I shall ever see any of my things again. This 
is a very large camp. I hear some 500 families are here. I 
daily find people I know. Life would not be so hard if one 
could get a marquee tent for a family, but now there are so 
many in one small tent.^ Part of the camp will be removed to 
Howick sometime next week. 

" The women really behave splendidly, making the best of all 
the hard jobs, chopping wood, carrying water, cooking outside, 
etc I should like to see a lot of Englishwomen placed in these 
circumstances, you would not be safe to come near for all the 
quarrelling there would be. Last night we witnessed a sad sight, 
about 130 persons, women and children, were marched out to 
this place from the railway station (three miles off). Just as they 
arrived a heavy shower of hail aiid rain came on, and before 
every one had a tent they were soaking wet ; to see wee little 
children drenched to the skin was so sad, and the tents were as 
wet as they themselves. All the luggage was still behind, and they 
had to turn in for the night as they were. We fortunately 
had heard in the afternoon that some eatables were sent for the 
camp from some good people at Greytown, I believe, so Miss 
B. and I went to find out the Committee and asked for some 
bread for the new arrivals (as they had hardly had any food all 
the way down here), which they willingly gave us, so although 
the poor little things were wet they could be fed. 

" Some of the women who arrived were very ill and wanted 
medical attendance at once, especially one woman who had 
sickened on the road for her confinement. I have not yet 
heard what became of her. The tents are so alike that it is 
hard to find a person here. Two other women arrived, one 
with a baby five days old, the other is seven days old ; imagine 
them arriving in a thunder and hailstorm. One of these women 
was taken away by ambulance-waggon this morning, so I make 
out that she has been taken worse, as they only take away those 
that are seriously ill. . . . New arrivals tell us they had tidings 
' See previous account a month earlier ; over-crowding had now begun. 

of our people as stii] in excellent health and spirits ; ihey wish 
us all to be of good cheer and as confident as they are." 

From Rev. N. P, Rousseau to the Committee in 
Cape Town. 


"There are more than looo men, women, and children 
together in the camp. They have pretty large comfortable tents, 
but complain bitterly of not getting enough of meat and bread 
and of being without any clothing whatever. I am not sure of 
this being the case with the women from Heidelberg, but of 
most of the others I know that after a moment's notice, in many 
bstances, their houses, with all in them, were burnt down before 
their eyes, while they were not allowed even to take an extra bit 
of clothing with them. Some are in a terrible plight. . . , 
have been to the Commandant about their food supplies. . 
We are doing what we can. We have a Ladies' Committee 
which cares foe the clothing and shoes for the most needy. The 
military authorities have oftered help in this respect also ; but 
there is so much of red-tapeism about it, and they want each one 
to sign for what he or she gets so as to pay back after the war 
that they do not wish to avail themselves of this help.' . , . O 
course every penny is welcome. . . . There is a talk of some o 
them being removed. . . ." 

A Clergyman to Helpers at Stelleneosch, 

"I have received your note re the Boer women and 
children in the so-called Refugee Camp here. . . . With regard 
to the hundreds of our poor women and children here, I am 
sorry to say that the most of them are sadly in want of clothing ; 
our Ladies' Committee here has received a list from the Committee 
in the camp, from which it appears that there are hundreds who 
need help, and the account will certainly amount to more than 
^loo sterling. Many of the women and children arc almost 
naked. Some have no underclothing whatever. They say they 
were driven out of their homes just with the old things they had 
on at the time, and that they were not allowed to take anything 
with them however much they begged to do so, while their houses 
were burning even before they had fully left Others just had 
time to take a single box of clothing with them and some 
' It is well to note this prapoeed repayment for clothes Eupplied. 

WOMEN IN 1900 71 

bedding. Others, again, did save some of their furniture even, 
but had to leave all behind, as they were driven away by the 
soldiers. Some have money with them, but the majority of them 
have not a penny. I cannot describe to you the misery these 
poor people are in. Here some of them arrived while it was pour- 
ing with rain, and were just put into those small round bell-tents, 
sometimes ten in one of tiiese tents, where they are almost burned to 
death in these hot summer days when the sun shines. I was in 
several of these tents yesterday but could not endure the heat in 
them for a few moments, and yet in these very tents there are 
sick women and children of a few days old. In one tent I found 
a mother who was confined on the way to this — she lay there 
with her baby of a few days old in the burning heat. She was 
taken out of her comfortable home, where she was already ill in 
bed, and carried out, while her house was set fire to. The only 
crime of these women seems to have been that their husbands 
are away with the Boer commandoes. 

" The food these people receive is so little that they cannot 
exist from it I have complained to the Commandant about all 
this, but as yet we have had no redress. 

" I gave some money to the most needy families so as to buy 
some more food for themselves. I got some money firom the Com- 
mittee in Cape Town, and to-day ;£4o has been wired me again. 

" The Greytown and Maritzburg people are doing what they 
can to relieve this distress, but many are in great want. I visit 
them regularly and preach for them at stated times. We need 
help, but as the camp is to be shifted to Howick, or at least a 
part of the camp, I have not yet decided what steps to take for 
securing the help of a brother minister. There are those who 
have plenty of money amongst them, and others, alas, who cause 
us a deal of sorrow by their conduct. . . . But we certainly do 
need help and much of help. We dare not write, and I am afraid 
even what I have written now might do harm." 

Turning to the Transvaal, we find a lady occupied in 
mission work writes at this time — 

" Near Johannesburg, Nov, 1900. 

" If we look around us at the needs of others, we feel that we 
dare not open our mouths, our privileges have been great We 
are hard up, but we can manage with the little our Church gives 
to procure food and clothing. We had a very terrible experience 
about a fortnight ago. Four men entered our house at ten 
o'clock in the evening and would not be persuaded to go out 

We did not know what to do ; but as always the way to the 
throne of grace was open, we knelt down and cried to God. 
Even then they hardened their hearts and took not the slightest 
notice of what we were doing, They stood talking to us as if 
nothing was happening ; I just felt I could not let the Lord go 
before He heard us and answered, and when they saw we were 
determined not to give them their way they stepped out and 
closed the door behind them. You will hear more about this 
later on. M. and S.'s nerves were so shattered that they were 
obliged to be sent away for a fortnight's rest." 

"Johannesburg, Dee. 8, 1900. 
" Words 1 cannot express," writes a friend, " the extent of 
misery which is meted out to our womenfolk here in this country. 
To-day about fifty families were brought in from the 
I'otchefstroom District, al! past my door, and they were all 
dumped down on the Robinson Deep men's quarters. I then 
went down to see, but my heart wept within me when I saw the 
misery. Children were crying with hunger, and mothers the 
same, and had nothing to give them to eat. They had not had 
anything to eat since yesterday. They have been removed from 
their farms, I took as much milk and bread as we had and 
divided it among them. 1 sent Johannes with money into the 
town to try and buy bread, but he could not get a single loaf, 
so they will have to hold out until they get something from the 
relief. You can never form an idea of what it is, and we can't 
realise what the end will be. Food is so scarce that even money 
can't buy it ; . . . but there are, you may say, thousands whom 
starvation is staring in the face, I hear all, or most, of the 
women in the two Republics are to be brought here. 
Ophirton is as full as it can be, so is the Racecourse, and now 
I hear they are to be put in the compounds." 

The letter continues— 

"Dtc. \%. 

"I have written about the treatment of the women here, but 
the worst I have not told you. 

"A certain train arrived from Potchefstroom full of females 
all loaded in open trucks, and three women confined in 
the open trucks in the midst of children. On arrival at 
Braamfontein Station it was found that one had died under 
confinement, together with the baby. Others on alighting at 
the station fainted from sheer exhaustion. We have arranged 
' Soiilh African tfcvas, January 9, 1901. 

WOMEN IN 1900 73 

with the authorities and got permission to send refreshments to 
the station when the trains arrive, as the poor people are without 
anything to eat for days." 

Rev. Mr. Meiring of Johannesburg wrote also to Mends in 
Cape Colony describing the early want in Johannesburg Camp — 

"Johannesburg, Dec, 1900. 

"There is much sickness amongst the people, ascribable 
very largely to want of sufficient and proper food, the promised 
improvement in the rations not coming up to our expectation. 
The whole matter both of feeding and clofliing our poor people 
is causing us much anxiety. We are resolved, if we can get no 
satisfaction with the local authorities, to appeal to the Commander- 
in-Chief, and if need be to higher officials. The people have, 
very many of them, no change of raiment, and without soap, as a 
result cannot cleanse themselves. We cannot of course supply 
all this from our own wardrobes, although some seven waggon- 
loads of old clothes have been sent out there by us from 
time to time. We cannot clothe 2000 or 3000 women and 
children. These poor sisters were in many cases brought away 
from their homes with nothing but what they had on, or what 
they could gather in the few minutes allowed them ; and while 
they have till now been accustomed to food and respectable 
living, they are at present as the ofF-scouring of the country. 

" We have asked for another interview with the Governor to 
discuss this matter and to ask for immediate improvement. It is 
heartrending to move among these sisters and witness their 
silent sufferings." 

Very important, with its detailed information, is this letter / 
published first in the Algemeen Handelsblad oi February 21,/ 
1 90 1, and in the Daily News of March i, 1901 — 

** Johannesburg, Dec, 2, 1900. 

"During my stay in Johannesburg I|had the opportunity of 
attending the public meetings which were held in December by 
a Committee charged with the distribution of the * Dutch Church 
funds for the relief of prisoners of war and captured women and 
children at Johannesburg,* and, being a prisoner on parole myself, 
I naturally took a great interest in all that was being done for 
these poor people. I state nothing but that of which I have 
immediate personal knowledge. On December 2 a deputation 
from the above-named Committee had a meeting with the 

military Governor of Johannesburg with a view of seeing what 
could be done to provide for the lodging and feeding of the 
captured women and children who were to be sent there. The 
deputation, as the result of this meeting, was referred to the 
architect Mr. Nicholson, and to Major Cavaye, the officer charged 
with the distribution of the Imperial Relief Fund. The architect 
exhibited the plans for the buildings which were to be erected 
for the reception of the prisoners. Three sheds were to be 
erected, each aoo ft. long by 25 ft. wide. In each of these 
sheds 400 adults were to be lodged ; wooden cribs would be 
supplied, but the prisoners must supply their own bedding. 
Major Cavaye informed the deputation that, in accordance with 
a new ration scale which he had received from Lord Kitchener 
in Pretoria, only 7 lbs. of maize meal, 4 ozs. of coffee, 4 ozs. of 
salt, and 8 ozs. of sugar would be provided weekly for each 
adult. The children would receive the same quantity of sugar, 
and half rations of the other articles. The Major admitted that 
this diet was not sufficient to keep body and soul together, and 
stated that he had on his own authority allowed 2 lbs. of flour 
and s lbs, of maize meal to be given instead of 7 lbs, of the 
latter. In face of these facts, it is needless to say that the lot 
of the prisoners of war in St. Helena and Ceylon is infinitely 
better than that of their wives and children left behind. On 
the 19th December the Chief Medical Officer addressed the 
following letter to the mihtary Governor of Johannesburg : — 

"'Sir,— In my capacity as Chief Medical Officer of the 
Boer camp, I have to report that I consider the rations served 
out to the refugees to be insufficient to keep them in health. 
The great majority of these people are women and children who 
are not in a condition of health to withstand the sudden change 
in their diet, for, as is well known, most of them have been 
accustomed to ,a diet consisting largely of meal. The con- 
sequence of this sudden change is that much sickness has 
broken out amongst them. Most of the women, and almost all 
the children, are suffering from a more or less acute form of 
diarrhcea. In this state of things the supply of drugs and 
medical comforts forms a very large item in the expenses of the 
camp. I would suggest that in addition to the present ration 
of maize meal, flour, coffee, sugar and salt, meat and fresh 
vegetables should be supplied at least three times a week to 
those who are not in a position to purchase them for themselves, 
(Signed) " ' R, P. Mackenzie, 
District Medical Officer.' 

WOMEN IN 1900 76 

" On December 9 also the Secretary of the Committee wrote to 
Major Cavaye, pointing out that the 282 women and old men, 
and the 547 children, confined on the grounds of the Robinson 
Deep, Mainreef, and Ferreira Mines, were obliged to procure 
their rations at the Racecourse, three-quarters of an hour's walk 
away. As they had no means of transport, they were obliged to 
walk there and back in the burning sun, a terrible hardship in 
the case of people nearly all of whom were suffering and ill. 
The Committee prayed, therefore, that a depdt might be established 
at the Robinson Deep Mine to lessen in some measure the 
hardships for the women, old men, and children. The lot of 
these unfortunate people here is thus, it may be seen, a terrible 
one, but the treatment they undergo on their way from their 
homes to Johannesburg was no less cruel. A letter addressed 
by the Committee to the Military Governor on December 27 throws 
some light on the matter. In this letter the Committee speak of 
an interview they had had with the Governor, in which he had 
consented to their supplying the women and children who were 
arriving at Johannesburg by trainsful with coffee and biscuits 
on their arrival ; for the poor creatures were given no food or 
drink on the journey, and arrived in an almost starving condition. 
They go on to state that the military shops refused to sell them 
the coffee and biscuits for this purpose, and pray that he will 
give orders that the goods shall be sold. I will now show how 
far, up to the 15th of January, the requests of the Committee had 
been acceded to, and the promises of the authorities fulfilled. 
The promised buildings on the Racecourse have not been erected, 
and the women and children have to sleep 16 together in rooms 
12 by 14 feet 626 of them are lodged in the workmen's 
quarters of the Robinson and village Mainreef Mines, and the 
remaining 2300 are packed in tents under the blazing sun. 
The suggestion that meat and vegetables shall be supplied three 
times a week has not been carried out, but a portion of meat is 
supplied once a week. No depot has been erected on the 
Robinson Deep Mine, so that the prisoners still have to take 
their trying walk for their scanty rations. Nothing has been 
done for the women and children arriving by train ; only on one 
occasion have we been able to supply them with a little maize 
gruel and coffee. One must have seen one of these trains arrive 
in order to form any conception of what the poor unfortunates 
have to undergo. The crying of the starving children, the 
moaning of the suffering women, are enough to melt a heart of 
stone. On one occasion when I was present the soldiers them- 
selves could stand it no longer, and divided their rations among 



the poor wretches. I heard one of them say, ' I am a father of 
a family myself, and I know what it is when the children cry 
for bread.' 1 was often present at the arrival of the trains, 
and could not wonder at the feeling of bitter hatred with which 
the sight filled those present, making them more than ever 
determined to continue the struggle till death. 

" In conclusion, let me give a letter addressed by the Secretary 
of the Committee to Major-General French at Johannesburg 
The letter is dated December 15 — 

"'Sir, — with reference to a conversation held last Friday 
between a deputation from my Committee and a member of 
your staff, I have now the honour to bring the following matters 
before you in writmg : — 

"'{a) . . . (hardly relevant). 

'"(d) Failure to inform the local authorities of the 
of trains containing women and children to Johannesburg. 

" ' The deputation begs to inform you that on various occasions 
trains full of women and children have been despatched from or 
have arrived at Johannesburg without notice having been given 
to the local officials, with the result that the prisoners have had 
to wait for a very long time on arrival oi: before departure in the 
goods' sheds. They have even been kept from 24 to 30 hours 
in open trucks standing on the Ime, without any attention being 
paid to them, and exposed to much unnecessary inconvenience 
owing to the lack of lavatory accommodation on the train. The 
deputation wish, therefore, respectfully to request that the station- 
masters be instructed to notify the officials of the station at which 
a train is to arrive of its departure from their own stations — and 
that the railway officials shall give immediate notice to the 
officer in charge of the arrival of all trains containing captured 
women and children. 

" ' {/:) The short notice these people receive of the intention of 
the military authorities to deport them, leaves the women and 
children frequently only a few minutes in which to prepare for 
their journey, so that they have no opportunity to get together 
the food, clothing, and bedding they require. Only in ex- 
ceptional cases are they allowed to bring provisions with them, 
but articles such as flour are brought outside by the soldiers, 
the sacks cut open, and the contents strewn on the ground, 
quantities of fresh potatoes, newly harvested mai^e and other 
food-stuffs, destroyed and burnt, articles which in almost every 
case the women and children themselves have sown and reaped, 
working late into the night, as their cattle have been taken from 

WOMEN IN 1900 77 

them. And these women and children who have worked so 
hard to save themselves from want, are carried off into the 
towns and fed on starvation diet. The deputation would 
respectfully request that wherever possible these unfortunate 
people — in cases where their removal from their farms to prison 
camps be still considered necessary by the military authorities — 
be allowed to bring with them provisions, cattle, and clothing for 
their own use. 

(Signed) "*Van Os (Secretary).* 

" To this letter General French vouchsafed no answer, and up 
to the middle of January no improvement had taken place in 
the lot of the unfortunate women and children." 

From the neighbourhood of Kimberley came similar stories. 
The account given here by Mrs. Hurdus of the women brought 
from Potchefstroom coincides with that given in an earlier 

'^KlMBBRLBY, Oct, I9OO. 

" I proceeded to Modder River with a few pounds given by 
kindly colonists, which, although it gave some relief, seemed 
like a drop in the ocean when distributed amongst the destitute 
families. I was sadly impressed with the desolate appearance 
of the once pretty spot, the only green spot to go to from 
Kimberley, the general picnicking place. 

" The second farmhouse I came to belonged to Mr. J. Fourie, 
and was one of the best houses on the river. To my surprise 
I found a heap of sand where the house stood. Mrs. Fourie and 
children were in an outside building, put up by her husband 
shortly before his death. The husband was arrested on suspicion 
— ^no evidence against him. After being kept in gaol for months, 
without trial, he was released, to return to a heap of ruins. 

" We have several such cases. Another sad thing is the con- 
dition of two old people, about 80 years of age, whose earnings 
have been stolen. They are old, destitute, and helpless, and 
there is no workhouse in South Africa to send them to. 

" The suffering and wrongs endured by women and children 
in the martial law districts would move the hardest to tears. A 
lady named Cotzee, at Modder River, gave birth to a baby just 
after the arrival of the British troops. The poor creature was 
turned out of her bed and made to walk a great distance. 
The baby died a few minutes after, through neglect and 

"One old woman said to me, *If our Queen, who is a 
mother herself, who has also lost husband and children, could 

know how her Dutch subjects are treated, and what terrible 
suffering is caused by this war, she would never allow the war to 

" This simple soul did not understand that our Queen does 
not govern, and that the real state of things never reach her. I, 
too, believe that if the Queen was able to hear and see the facts, 
and could be made acquainted with the truth of this war, she 
would see that justice is done, even though at the loss of fame 
and worldly honour, 

" About two weeks ago, six mothers, with 20 children from one 
month to r5 years, from Potchefstroom, were brought into 
Kimberley by the military. These women were taken from 
their homes, and mounted Kaffirs conducted them through the 
streets to the gaol. They were kept there a night and day 
without food and bedding, with their children. The next day 
these women refused to go into the railway trucks, not knowing 
where they were to be sent to, and refusing to leave behind 
children, as two of these unhappy mothers had a child sick in 
bed. These mothers do not know what has become of their 
children. They were then taken by force and put into trucks 
for Johannesburg. They showed me their clothing, torn by 
soldiers who took them out of the cell. When I visited these 
poor women in their tents, they were sitting down in the bare 
sand, and one woman was very ill. 

" They were treated with kindness and respect by the officer 
that took chai^ of them from Joharmesbu^, and also received 
all attention from the otBcer in command at Kimberley, who 
gave all assistance possible to provide for them, and is not able 
to say why these women were sent here at all. By the aid of 
friends we succeeded in making them as comfortable as possible 
under the circumstances, 

" Mr. Truter deserves all praise for his self-sacrificing deeds. 
He gave a house free of rent, as did Mr. Lingefield. As house 
rents are high, and those gentlemen both suffered heavy losses 
during the war, they deserve all praise for their charitable and 
unselfish conduct. 

"The names of the women are as follows : — Mrs. Van Wyk 
and family, Mrs. Myburgh and baby, Mrs. Marais and child, 
Mrs, Grobbelaar and children, Mrs. Benade and family, Mrs. 
Kruger and family. I give these names as somebody may hear 
of a lost wife, mother, sister, or friend, and by giving these names 
I may afford some trace of a lost one. These women are 
originally from Grjqualand West Their husbands were com- 
mandeered by the Boers at the commencement of the Kimberley 

WOMEN IN 1900 79 

siege, and some taken prisoners. The wives followed, but lost 
all trace of their husbands." 

State- Attorney Smuts in his Report to President Steyn, issued I 
in the beginning of the year 1902, describes the lamentable state { 
of homeless women in the Western Districts of the Transvaal — ' 

"During the month of July 1900 I was ordered by my 
Government on a mission to the Western Districts, which had 
been cut off from communication, and from Balmoral Station 
set out for these districts, but on arriving at Elandsrivier I was 
recalled by the Government on pressing business, and returned 
by way of Bronkhorstspruit Station. I arrived here late in the 
afternoon, and on that high table-land and in the middle of 
winter it was so fearfully cold that I could hardly bear it, and 
(according to official reports) many English soldiers had 
succumbed there with starvation. 

" Hardly had I arrived there when I saw in a cart two women 
and some little children. One of the two women was an old 
widow, Mrs. Neethling of Tierpoort, the mother of the magistrate 
(landdrost) of Klerksdorp, and a relation of the much-respected 
clergyman of Stellenbosch ; the other woman was her daughter, 
Mrs. Du Toit, and her children. Their condition in that bitterly 
cold climate was most heartrending, without any food, without 
any covering, with nothing else about them than the clothes 
on their backs. That old mother, over 70 years old, told me 
the following things. Tierpoort some weeks before had been 
lying in the field of battle during the skirmishes which preceded 
and followed upon the great battle of Donkerhoek, and from the 
fields behind her dwelling our men had repeatedly fired at the 
patrols of the enemy. At one time some Boers had ventured as 
far as the house, and she had given them a loaf of bread ; when 
one evening, a short time afterwards, an English officer came to 
the house with a strong patrol, and gave her notice to leave her 
house that same night, as the place was to be burnt down next 
day. She called his attention to the fact that this would be 
impossible, as all the cattle and the carts had been taken away 
by the English, and that she was too old to walk so far to the 
Boer lines. He remained inexorable, and was so impudent that 
the grown-up daughter of Mrs. Du Toit, who was her interpreter, 
told him that he ought to feel ashamed of persecuting defence- 
less women and children in this way, instead of fighting the 
Boers ; upon which he in so far forgot who he was that he gave y 
her a slap in her face. As he would not give in, a messenger 
was sent to the Boer forces that same evening to fetch an 



ox-cart. When the cart had arrived, this knightly officer (aii 
Australian Colonist) refused to allow that some food, clothes, or 
bedclothes were put in the cart, and in this wretched condition 
these poor people had to be sent out into the wide, wide world. 

" Her youngest son, Johannes Neethling, was with me at the 
time, to her immense joy, and whatever I could spate I gave her 
to take along with her on her journey to the Boschveld. Having 
only in the world her daughter and grand-daughter, she was 
however full of courage and strong in faith, and even succeeded 
in cheering us up. I do not mention this as a rare case, but as a 
typical example of what happened in hundreds of other places." 

Mr. Smuts passes on to speak of the formation of Boer 
laagers for the women as a protection from the natives, and of 
the sickness and misery there endured. No statistics as to the 
death-rate in these laagers are yet forthcoming. 

" I shall therefore speak of another subject, namely, how the 
enemy avails himself of the help of Kaffirs to make our women 
and children suffer greater pains. I do not intend to speak 
about the old story, how natives were enlisted and imported by 
the English officers along the Western and Northern borders of 
the land, which, as your Honour knows, has been proved by 
documents now in possession of the Government. The massacres 
at Derdepoort and at other places on the Western border have 
been surpassed by what has happened since May last. The 
Kaffir chiefs having joined the enemy, crossed the Western 
border and committed murders and cruelties from which even 
English soldiers shrank back. The consequences were that the 
greater part of the Western and Northern Districts had to be 
abandoned by us, because the women and children were 
constantly exposed to being murdered. Camps for the women 
were then made in the central parts of the Western Districts, and 
the women provided with carts, tents, food, and placed under the 
protection of old men who were less fit for military service. It 
was expected that the enemy from a sense of pity, which is 
even found with animals, would have left these camps for 
women alone. But not at all I he repeatedly marched upon 
them, burnt the carts, tents, and the food, seized the aged guards 
who had not been able to fly, and caused so much misery as 
camiot be described. And when he did not appear himself, the 
enemy sent the Kaffirs, or rather the hordes of Kaffirs always 
formed a wing of the British forces, and completed the work of 
destruction which had been undertaken by the English troops. 
Many a time it was my task to visit these women-camps, and I 

WOMEN IN 1900 81 

cannot help saying that I had never expected to be a witness of 
such scenes of misery. The women and children, suffering 
almost every one of them from malaria, fever, and other diseases, 
in consequence of privations and bad food, without physicians, 
without medicine, without any consolation in this world, almost 
without any clothes, and, after hostile raids, without any food at 
all. And all these women did not belong to the poorer and 
lower classes, but some of them belonged to the richest families 
of our country. But privation could not curb the spirit of these 
noble martyrs, and by one consent they advised me and the 
burghers to persevere to the bitter end." 

At Port Elizabeth Camp the number of persons affected was 
comparatively small, hundreds in place of the thousands in the 
north. Undoubtedly their preliminary sufferings were great, but 
with no martial law in the town public opinion could and did ^ 
make itself felt. Many friends came forward with help^ and as 
a consequence the conditions of life were soon made healthy 
and tolerable. Many accounts exist of this one little camp, 
numbering only about 380 people, for the horrors of war were 
first vividly depicted in these poor women when they arrived 
carrying their bundles and their babies ; there is, however, little 
space here for letters which filled the Cape papers at the close of 
the year 1900. Soon after the arrival of the exiled women, a 
lady at Port Elizabeth wrote to her friends in Cape Town as 
follows : — 

**PoRT Elizabeth, Nov, 12. 

"... I have been with them twice, but now the authorities 
have become more severe. Yes, it is quite true that nearly all 
the farms are burnt I do not think Piet Visser's is, though 
Groenkloof, the Rabie's, is burnt, Vlakfontein and Huctelspoort. 
Poor old Mrs. Coetzee of Vlakfontein is also here. Old Mrs. 
Hertzog's house was blown up a quarter of an hour after she 
quitted it. It is too pitiful to see all the misery and suffering. 
Poor old Mrs. Hertzog said to me, * Ach, myn kind, stuur toch 
voor my een ketelje en een wenig goede koffe.' ^ Fancy, they 
have no tables, chairs, or bedstead, they are just on the floor — 
on mattresses — sometimes ten in a room, or rather hut. 

"It is so awful to see the soldiers with fixed bayonets 
guarding defenceless women and children. . . but one must not 
say many things." 

^ "Ah, my child, send me a little kettle and a little good coffee." The 
story of the Mrs. Hertzogs Is appended to this chapter. 


In November ihe Cape Town Relief Committee took the 
sensible step of applying to the military authorities for the 
release of those in the camp ' who had friends to receive them, 
or whose expenses could be paid for by subscription ; and some 
Dutch ministers, Mr. Rabie and Mr. Pienaar, who were asked to 
visit and report on the camp, also advocated this course as the 
most sensible and best calculated to allay unnecessary feeling.* 
To this application Colonel Trotter sent an answer in the 

To the appointment of Miss Hauptfleisch as matron was 
largely due the rapid improvement in the organisation of this 
little camp, and when the primary discomforts had abated Mrs. 
Leroux was able to report favourably of the progress made in a 
letter to the South African News. 

"Da. 14. 
"SiR,^ — Requested by Miss Nellie Hauptfleisch to give a 
report of our visit to the exiled women, I will try to do so in 
a few words. 

" We spent two days (Saturday and Sunday) in the camp, and 
had two meetings for children in the camp. I am glad to be 
able to give a more favourable report now than last time. The 
women find a decided improvement in the cooking of the food. 
The quality of the food now sent out is better than before. Mr. 
Smith has promised not to give any more ' bully ' beef. If the 
dinner is always (with a variety in the preparation of the meat) 
as it was on the Sth inst., there is not much room for complaint 
in that respect. The way the meals are served out is, I daresay, 
the best under the circumstances. We cherish the hope when 
the unfortunate exiles are in their new quarters (which promise 
to be an improvement on the present) things may be 
arranged more to the taste of civilised people. I am happy to 
report thai there are bedsteads now in all the tents and huts. 
In the medical line, too, there is an improvement. Dr. Casey 
pays more attention to his patients than did his predecessor. 

"Tlie military have given Miss Hauptfleisch every opportunity 
to visit the camp and see what was wrong. They have taken 
most of her suggestions into kind consideration. Colonel 
Salmond is very kind to all the exiles, and is respected by all. 

" All the improvements do not alter the fact that the women 
are still in pole-tents and kept as prisoners. Why are they so 

'Letter to Military Authorities, Nov. 19. Sec SoulA African Nevis of 
Dec. 12. 

WOMEN IN 1900 88 

jealously^ guarded if they must not be considered prisoners of 
war but exiles ? Call a spade a spade. Your readers can form 
their own opinion. I give facts as I found them, — I am, etc., 

" M. H. Leroux, Railway Missioner." 

Thus the year ended with some relief at the thought of the 
reform effected in the camp at Port Elizabeth, but at the same 
moment away in the north far greater sufferings and privations 
were being endured, and these were preparing the ground and 
sowing the seed of diseases which must inevitably yield a rich - 
harvest for the Reaper Death. 

Mrs. Hertzog. 

« Women 1 who shall one day bear 
Sons to breathe New England air, 
If ye hear without a blush 
Deeds to make the roused blood rush 
Like red lava through your veins 
For your sisters now in chains — 
Answer! Are ye fit to be 
Mothers of the brave and free? "—J. R. Lowkll. 

In Port Elizabeth Camp there were three ladies of the name 
of Hertzog, the mother of the Commandant Judge Hertzog, his 
wife Mrs. Barry Hertzog, and his sister-in-law Mrs. James Hertzog. 
These two ladies were sisters, daughters of Mrs. Neethling of 
Evergreen, Stellenbosch, and British subjects born. Mr. James 
Hertzog had been taken prisoner early in the war, and his wife 
being alone in her house at Jagersfontein, her sister Mrs. Barry 
Hertzog came from Bloemfontein to visit her. While there, 
measles broke out, and both the Mrs. Hertzogs* children were 
down with it when the military authorities seized the mothers 
with their sick children and sent them to Edenburg Station, 
exposed in open waggons for two days. [By post-cart this place 
is only five hours distant] The Hertzogs' house was then laid 
waste, blown to dust with dynamite. Arrived at Edenburg, the 
children were pronounced too ill to travel farther. Hearing this, 
their relatives at Stellenbosch at once applied for a permit for 
the two Mrs. Hertzogs to come on parole to their father's house, 
and after considerable trouble this permit was granted. But in 
the meanwhile the families had been removed to Port Elizabeth, 
notwithstanding the condition of the children, and this though 
they prayed to be sent to Stellenbosch. When the authorities 

heard that they had been removed to Port Elizabeth, they with 
drew the permit. No necessary comforts could be procured or 
the journey or on arrival in the camp, and the consequence! 
were fatal. The first death notice from the camps appeared ir 
the papers when Mrs. James Hertzog's boy died. 

" Hertzog.— On the i2th November 1900, Prisoner of Wai 
in the camp at Port Elizabeth, Charles Neethling Hertzog, in th( 
8th year of his age. — The sorrowing grandparents, 

" Charles M. Neethling. 
" W. Neethling. S 

" Evergreen, Stbllenbosch," j 

Sixteen thousand children have followed him to the grave. 

After this sad event a lady wrote thus to Miss NeethUng 
urging her to come to the help of her married sisters. She show; 
how rough and unsuitable the arrangements were to which thesi 
ladies were at first subjected — 

"Port Elizabeth, A'lii'. 17. 

" Have you heard anything agab from your two sisters a 
Port Elizabeth except that they are there as prisoners ? It make. 
one's blood boil to think of the poor people there — it is a cryin| 
shame. Mrs. Jordaan, with whom I am here, returned fron 
Port Elizabeth this morning ; she saw both the Mrs. HertzogE 
so I'll be able to give you more particulars than they may writi 
from the camp. Mrs. Jordaan and anotlier lady from Cradocl 
were sent to Port Elizabeth by their ' Dames Comite ' to go am 
see what they could do for the women prisoners there. She say 
she can never tell and make us understand how miserable am 
uncomfortable the state of things is at the camp. When sh' 
speaks of what she saw there the tears run down her face. Mrs 
Jordaan thinks it urgently necessary that some of you shouli 
come to Port Elizabeth and try and get the Mrs. Hertzogs ou 
on parole. She thinks perhaps you might be successful ; it seem 
impossible that any one can survive in those miserable iron shed 
and tents for many days longer. But if you could not gel th 
mothers out you might at least take the children with you. Th 
military officers say that they are awaiting further orders firor 
headquarters, and they expect to have things improved in a fc 
days' time. (Still it would be much better to get the childre 
away.) Mrs. J. came to the camp just after Charles (Mrs. Jame 
Hertzog's son) was buried. She thinks Mrs. Hertzog wonderfull 
calm under the sad circumstances — probably through the man 
prayers sent up for her at Stellenbosch, Mrs. J. says. 

WOMEN IN 1900 86 

"There are no chairs, no beds! the bedclothes lie on the 
ground in the dust, and the people must either sit on the 
ground or stand about. The military had the decency to give 
Mrs. (Rev.) Malherbe a chair to sit on as she watches by the 
side of her child down with fever (that was the only chair to be 
seen). One of the officers said to Mrs. J. : * You must under- 
stand that the less you speak about the state of things here, and 
the less fuss you make about it, the better it will be for the 
prisoners.* (The better it will be for them, the military, he 
meant to say.) They are afraid of having things brought to 
light. Mrs. J. told the Intelligence Officer that she will not 
promise to keep quiet ; but the sooner they let the women out 
the better it would be for them, and that it would lessen the 
strain on the colonists." 

Miss Neethling visited the camp as requested, but did not 
succeed in obtaining the release of her sisters. After many 
applications and much red-tapeism, however, she was successful 
in securing the release of Mrs. Barry Hertzog's baby boy, aged 
then about 17 months. The child was weak and pining, and 
she took it back to the home at Stellenbosch without its mother. 
From that day to the end of the war repeated efforts were made 
to secure the release of the two sisters, but in vain. I give a 
copy of the refusal received by Mr. Neethling, who, on hearing 
of the concession made by Mr. Brodrick in June 1901, that all 
women separated from their children, or having friends ready 
to receive them, might be allowed to go, made instant applica- 
tion on behalf of his daughters. 

"B. 3795, 17A. 

** The Castle, Cape Town, Aug, 4, 1901. 

"Sir, — I am directed to inform you that your application 
to Lord Kitchener, dated July 1 2, with reference to Mrs. Hertzog 
and fiamily, now at Port Elizabeth, has been noted ; but that the 
G.O.C. regrets that in the present state of affairs in the Colony 
he cannot yet sanction their removal to Stellenbosch. — I am. Sir, 
yours faithfully, 

" L. Hevman, 
Lieutenant-Colonel S.O. Prisoners of War. 

** Mr. C. M. Neethling, Evergreen, Stellenbosch, C.C." 

After the formation of the camp at Merebank, specially set 
apart for women whose husband^ failed to surrender on 
September 15, 1901, Mrs. Barry Hertzog was suddenly trans- 


ferred thither, and this in spite of the fact that Port Elizabeth 
was a. small and healthy camp, while Merebank was very 
crowded, and condemned as marshy and unhealthy. Thus from 
December 1900 till June 1902 Mrs. Hert/og was separated from 
her only child, and no chivalrous voice was upraised in England 
strong enough to insist upon the release of this lady, or to con- 
demn a system of warfare which included the wholesale imprison- " 
ment of women, and, in this case, necessitated separation from a 
young child, if that child's life was to be saved. Exposure and 
tough camp life have seriously affected Mrs. Hertzog's health. 


By Mjjnie Hertzog. 

On the evening of i ith March 1900, my husband left Bloemfon- 
tein. When the British came on the 13th several officers came to 
requisition my house. I protested, and eventually they desisted, 
resting satisfied with some bedding and furniture. On July 3 I 
left for Jagersfontein to visit my sister. On September 30 I re- 
quested permission from the military authorities to return to Bloem- 
fontcin, receiving from them the answer, that as my husband 
was Acting President it could not be granted before inquiring 
from Bloemfontein whether my return was desirable. It was 
found not, and I had to stay. On the day of my asking for 
the permit, Major Hall, Sitting in an adjoining room, yelled out, 
"She shall not go," whereat another officer, a lieutenant, jeer- 
ingly asked me if I did not feel proud of the distinction conferred 
upon my husband. 

At 4.30 a.m. on October 16, the burghers attacked and entered 
the town. After releasing the burgher prisoners from gao!, a 
party of them came up to my sister's house, where 1 was informed 
by them that my husband was in command. About 9 a.m. the 
burghers left the town, and at 10 a.m. there appeared at our door 
Lieutenant Rudledge with a party of soldiers in search of Boers. 
Finding none, he turned his men loose on our pantry, telling them 
to take all eatables they could get. At my instance he seemed 
to relent, and stopped the soldiers from further depredations. 

Before sunrise on the igth of October we were roused by a 
sergeant, with orders that I and my sister with our sick children 
were to leave within 15 minutes for another house. Dressing 

WOMEN IN 1900 87 

hurriedly, we did as ordered, shifting our children, 3 in number 
and all ill of me^^sles, as best we could, without any aid, and 
taking nothing with us but a few blankets and pillows. The 
house assigned us contained 5 rooms, and we were 13 families 
to occupy it. To myself, sister, and sister-in-law with 5 children 
was allotted half the parlour. Under strict guard we were kept 
here until Sunday with no food, except a little milk for our sick 
children, which after much trouble we obtained from a com- 
passionate townsman. 

On the morning of our arrival here, an officer coming up to 
us had declared in angry tone that we could starve here, a threat 
which they now seemed to be executing. On Sunday morning 
the townsman referred to again came to our assistance, sending 
us a bag of bones. While still rejoicing over the prospects of 
having soup, orders came that we were immediately to start for 
Port Elizabeth. I was allowed to run over under guard to fetch 
some clothes. My house, however, had been plundered, and all 
my belongings gone. Famished, I returned and had our children 
examined. Two doctors declared that they were unfit to travel. 
Orders came, however, that we had to go. About 11 a.m. 
Sunday morning the convoy started. We arrived at Edenburg 
Monday evening at 7, having had nothing to eat all the time 
barring a small crust begged at a farmhouse on Sunday, and 
again a few mouthftils at another place on Monday. On my 
arrival at Edenburg, my child, whose temperature on the day 
of removal registered 102°, was now, through exposure and 
privation, a mere skeleton. Also my sister's children had a 
relapse. In consequence of the illness of our children, we were 
the following day left behind, a tent being erected for our 
accommodation. No permission was granted to leave our 
premises, and having no food we were left unsupplied until 
the following Sunday. The stationm aster's wife having in 
the meanwhile learned of our distress, kindly provided us with 
necessaries. On Sunday, Dr. Johnson from Bloemfontein hear- 
ing that we were subsisting on charity, interceded for us. 
Thenceforth we were regularly supplied. 

After 13 days' stay at Edenburg, our children then being 
convalescent, we were sent on to Port Elizabeth. Arriving 
there, we were placed in a small iron shanty about 7 x 10 ft, 
having to share this with 5 other persons. In order to find 
sleeping accommodation, we ten had to be packed like sardines. 
Thus we lived about 2 months, my sister's little boy 8 years 
old dying 12 days after our arrival About the same time I 
was taken ill of fever, while my child was growing worse every 


day. Later on 1 was removed from this dingy hole to the English 
Refugee Hospital, a favour granted me after much supplication. 
After a fortnight 1 was obliged to leave the hospital because of 
the conduct of the matron, who seemed to grudge me even the 
little food I got, My sister. Miss Neethling, having come from 
Stellenbosch to inquire into our state, and finding how weak i 
was, took hack with her my child, then a mere skeleton. I never 
saw him again until peace was declared, though I had frequently 
requested to be allowed to proceed to Stellenbosch where my 
parents were living, who were desirous to have me with them. 
Our food, which was as bad as our accommodation, was prepared 
and distributed to us by a very inferior and insulting class of 
Johannesburg Refugees, who treated us alternately to boiled 
bully -beef and maggoty salt fish, which they did not scruple 
to ladle with their hands. Finding that we were starving for 
want of nutritive food, I complained, saying that if the food 
were not improved we should be forced to try and escape, a 
threat which probably gave colour to the absurd story published 
later that I had tried to run away. 

We were later on shifted to a new camp, where both food and 
accommodation were substantially improved. 

After a year at Port Elizabeth, in November 1901 I suddenly 
got notice to leave for Durban. At East London the boat 
slopped for 3 days, but I was not allowed to go on land. After 
8 days I arrived in Durban. The following morning I was by 
my guard taken to Merebank Camp, a marshy hole, later on 
condemned by the Commission of Inspection from England. 
Separated from all my relatives and acquaintances, for reasons 
unknown to me, I arrived here a forlorn stranger with only a 
few pounds in my purse, for the money deposited by my 
husband in the bank for me I had never received. The 
rations obtained from the authorities being both insufficient 
and unfit for my constitution, I found it necessary to obtain 
additional supplies, I therefore tried to earn a little money by 
giving lessons in music. My provisions I had to fetch from the 
commissariat store, having at times to wait hours before obtaining 
them. My wood, in large blocks, I had likewise to fetch thence 
once a week, and chop up as best I could. Being insufficient, I 
had to supplement it from the fields, that is to say when the 
authorities could be induced to grant a permit. More than 
once I was on my way back deprived of my little bundle, 
collected trader the greatest difficulties. Cooking had to be 
done in the open air. 

One day His Excellency the Governor visited us for the 

WOMEN IN 1900 89 

object of hearing and inquiring into complaints. He heard 
them, but postponed the inquiry indefinitely. We asked for 
the erection of soup kitchens for the convalescent, better bread, 
more soap, and an increase of food in general, etc. Suffice it 
to say that, after treating some of us with scant courtesy, he 
dismissed all with an increase of, as far as I can remember, 
half an ounce of soap to our weekly supply. 

On the 3rd of June 1902 I was set at liberty, and granted a 
free pass to Bloemfontein. 


" Are we pledged lo craven silence? O fling [t lo the wind ! 
The parchment wall ihat bms us from the least of human kind — 
That makes us Cringe and temporise, and dumbly stand at (est. 
While fily's burning flood of words is red-hot in the breast !" 

James Russell Lowkll. 

THOSE to whom the social structure of South Africa is 
familiar, will at once untderstand the eRect producetl in 
Cape Colony by the events of 1900. Family and 
religious ties bound the people of the old colony to those of 
their race in the younger States. This was not only the case 
along the borders, where constantly members of the same family 
were found living on either side of the boundary, but throughout 
the Cape Colony there was hardly a family without blood 
relations who had settled in the north, and become full burghers 
of one or other of the two Republics, As family after family 
became tiestitute, anxiety deepened. It was the anxiety of those 
whose kith and kin were suffering. News was hard to get, and 
the strain was intense. A stray letter, a traveller from the north, 
or a soldier's story—these brought bits and scraps of news, worse 
in their effects than a whole knowledge of the truth would have 
been. As the months rolled on, feeling couid no longer be 
restrained, and the women of Cape Colony were driven to break 
through their usual domestic habits, to organise meetings, and 
speak their mind. From June to August sixteen meetings were 
held, and more followed. Letters which came from the Cape 
at that time indicate the depth of the feeling aroused. 

"In the balance," wrote one lady,^ "hangs— no/ whether the 
Republics will preserve their independence— in the balance hangs 
whether England shall continue to be a great nation. Just as 
personal acts of dishonour and dishonesty shut out individuals 
from the society of the honourable, so with nations. England 
will pronounce her own doom by ibe behaviour she shows to 
^ Avis;- 29. 1900. 


the Republics. She is at a turning-point of her political exist- \ 
ence. May the good and true and noble prevail, the preserving i ;/ 
salt to save the nation from ruin. . . • And now you have us ! 
to think of in the Cape Colony. England kills our brothers, ' 
and now she is on the point of killing our respect for her. From 
Zoutpansberg to the Cape Town docks there will be a solid 
phalanx of men and women and children — the women the 
bitterest because we feel our loved ones have been treated } 
needlessly hard. It is not thus that a Boer is subdued. At ; 
such acts one's anger against England for the moment vanishes / 
and one begins to pity her. 

"Do you not feel how almost impossible it becomes for 
colonists to keep calm ? . . . We look to the good amongst you ^ 
women whose influence is boundless, for if there is a force } -V 
against which even the devil is in the long run powerless it is J. 
a good woman." 

And in the same strain writes another^ — 

" I cannot tell you what a real drop of comfort it is to us 
who have been brought up to love and honour England, and 
who have had such a rude awakening, to feel that she still holds 
women who will work for justice and England's honour. I am 
a South African of Dutch and French Huguenot descent, and 
have never left this country, but my education and ideals were 
based on an almost entirely English foundation. Judge what , 
it means to have all that swept away. Not only have our eyes j 
been opened to England's present policy of injustice, but we feel ? 
compeUed to lift the veil behind us as well, and we see there i 
former acts of wrong. Ireland's years of oppression, the seizure 
of the Kimberley Diamond Fields, the Jameson Raid — Our 
blindness was the blindness of love; our children will not be 

The debate in the Cape Parliament gave an opportunity, 
embraced by several prominent members, for strong protest 
against the devastation proceeding in the north. But it was 
not until November ^ that the profound sorrow and disapproba- 
tion of the bulk of Cape Colony found expression if not relief 
in a remarkable gathering held at the Paarl. This was a Women's . 
Congress, and upwards of 1500 women of Dutch and English 
race were present ; while from far and wide letters and telegrams | 
expressed the regret of those who could not attend. The con- ; 
dition and treatment of the women who were their kindred ; 
formed the subject of the Resolutions which were carried ^ 
unanimously : — 

* Sept. i9c». ' Nov. 10, 1900. 


» 1" 


"I. This meeting of South African women desires to «nter 
its solemn protest against the imprisonment and deportation of 
unprotected women and children without investigation, in defiance 
of all the laws and usages of modem warfare. 

"II. This meeting earnestly protests against the burning, 
plunder, and destruction of private properly, whereby women 
and children are rendered destitute, and claims that this is in 
contravention of the resolutions of the Peace Conference at the 
Hague — resolutions which England supported, and lo which 
she subscribed." 

The Congress will be long remembered. It was held in the 
open air beneath the great oak trees of the Paarl. The speeches, 
delivered though they were by women wholly unversed in public 
speaking, had the unconscious eloquence which is born of deep 
feeling. It was a solemn protest, solemnly recorded. 

The following month ' a great People's Congress gathered at 
Worcester, and here beneath the mouths of English guns another 
protest was made against the treatment to which women and 
children were subjected, which would " leave a lasting heritage 
of bitterness and hatred, while seriously endangering the future 
relations between civilisation and barbarism in South Africa," 

But the feelings of the Colonial women were not satisfied 
with empty words. Relief was active. The Prisoners of War 
Fund, started in the previous April, now extended its work to aid 
the wives and children homeless and alone. In November 
twenty-seven cases of clothing were despatched to Port Elizabeth, 
and in December twenty cases to Norval's Pont, and forty-one 
cases to Eloemfontein. Feeling it impossible to stem the tide 
of distress from the overtaxed resources of the Cape Colony, the 
^ Committee issued an appeal^ to the women of the civilised 
world. European countries and the United States responded 
generously lo this appeal. In various Colonial centres small 
local societies were formed to collect funds. At Kimberley, 
where there were destitute families scattered on each side of the 
boundary, the difficulties of relief work were thus described in 
October.^ The Committee went out with waggon -loads of 
supplies wherever possible — 

" It is," they wrote, " the only way in which we can reach 
the people whose farmhouses have been burnt and everything 
taken from them by the British. . . . We must go to Ihem 
personally, and this means traversing whole districts which have 
been simply devastated of everything. The farms are so 
' Dec, 6, 1900. ' Ocl. 12. 

' Ocl. 19, 1900. SoLilh African Molhers' Ciirislian Union. 


scattered that people (colonists) cannot get to assistance. They 
simply watch their houses being burnt, and are then left on the 
veld. . . . We had a permit from the military authorities a 
month ago to go over the border and traverse the districts, but 
the country round here is in such an unsettled state just at 
present, that the military authorities have given strict orders not 
to allow any person to go out of the town." 

In England the year was well advanced before relief work '\ 
was begun. So little news relative to farm-burning was per- = 
mitted in the Press, and so little sympathetic imagination was . 
brought to bear upon what was known, that only the few who \ 
had followed the fortunes of the South Africans with appreciative [ 
intelligence had formed any conception of the straits to which ; 
women and children were reduced. Very quietly a few local j 
collections were made and forwarded to the Holland or Cape 
Town Funds, but no public subscription list had been set on foot. | 

In the late summer I read of the hundreds of Boer women \ 
who, having been made homeless by our military operations, were V 
deported from the towns we occupied, where they had collected 
for sustenance, and sent to the Boer lines. A picture of 
wretchedness lay beneath the bald telegraphic words! That 
these poor families, bandied from pillar to post, must need pro- >j" 
tection and organised relief, was certain, and from that moment 
I determined to go to South Africa in order to help them. Late 
in September I tried to start a fund on the broad grounds of 
pure and simple benevolence towards those made homeless by 
the war."" ToFsonie weeks it was difficult to persuade even those 
most interested either that there was any real need, or if so, that 
any considerable sum could be collected, or if collected could 
be administered. Mr. Stephen Gladstone in a kind letter^ was^ 
the first to give real encouragement — a name that ensured 
success. Lord Lansdowne was approached and asked whether, 
in the event of the formation of a fund, facilities for distribution 
could be given. The application was transferred to the Colonial 
Office as more properly belonging to that department. At that 
moment the war was considered at an end, and the people we 
desired to help were our fellow - subjects of two annexed 


A small Provisional Committee met and agreed to adopt the 
following outline as a basis for their proposed fund, and this was 
forwarded to the Colonial Office. The South African Women I 
and Children's Distress Fund, as it was named, was purely \ 
benevole nt and non-political. Its objects were — 


" To feed, clothe, shelter and rescue women and children, 
Boer, British, or others, who had been rendered destitute and 
homeless by the destruction of property, deportation, or other 
incidents of the military operations." Its distribution was to 
be placed in the hands of persons deputed by the Committee, 
and not to run counter to the requirements of the local, civil, 
and military authorities. 

The reply from the Colonial Office informed us that Mr. 
Chamberlain " sympathised with the object in view," and a later 
letter communicated Sir Alfred Milner's message that such a 
fund might he useful, as though the people [received military 
rations they were "in want of everything beyond the bare 
necessities of life." 

A large number of influential people of all shades of thought, 
who it was hoped would unite in a work of mercy, were invited 
to be signatories or to join the Committee of such a fund. 
I The replies received were most discouraging. Practically all 
irefused to give their names or help the cause unless they 
'happened to belong to the party who had been in opposition 
1 to the war throughout. It was most unfortunate, for the move- 
i mentwas entirely outside of politics, had no political aims, and has 
I m^ntained a purely philanthropic attitude from the beginning. 
■ The refusals were, however, characteristic of English sentimoit 
at that date. One prominent clergyman thought that to keep 
Boer women and children alive might "prolong the war." 
' Another eminent preacher was apprehensive lest such a charit- 
able fund would reflect on the "honour of our soldiers," and 
had not Lord Roberts said they were all gentlemen ? Such was 
the tenour of the replies received. 

Privately, many people sent me sums for the assistance of 
the women and children whom I might reach, and a 
wish lo go to South Africa in a private capacity, and independent 
of any body of people, I did not wait for the complete formation 
of the Executive Committee, but left England in the first days 
of December. 

The Society of Friends started their fund about this time, and 
work parties were also organised by a separate Committee which 
dealt only with clothing. Though the charitable help of England 
has fallen far short of that from other countries, yet from that time 
lo this hardly a ship has left the docks which did not carry one 
or more bales of material and clothing for the victims of the 

PART II.— 1901 


" Waste are those pleasant fiurms, and the farmers for ever departed ! 
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October 
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.'' 


A DEBATE, upon the issues of which depended the lives 
and well-being of thousands of women and children, took 
place on the opening of the new Parliament.^ The 
Opposition then questioned the success of the severer policy of 
the last half of the year, but Mr. Chamberlain's and Mr. 
Brodrick's speeches were reassuring.? The Colonial Secretary 
thought the destruction would, when statistics were forthcoming, 
be found to have been brought about by the Boers more than by 
the English troops. He said they had treated their countrymen 
barbarously. Moreover, he thought the extent of the farm- , 
burning had been greatly exaggerated, and from an economic 
standpoint would be found unimportant, as the houses were little 
better than labourers' cottages.^ He said this particular punish- 
ment, which both Government and Generals thought should " be 
used as sparingly as possible," would be still less employed in ^ 
the future. The deportation of women, which " sounded like 
something serious," would be found, he was sure, to be done 
only for their protection both from marauding bands of Boers 
and from natives. Mr. Brodrick dwelt on the fresh orders 
recently issued by Lord Roberts, carefully defining the limits of 
farm-burning, and said that in the humane conduct of the war 
there was every reason to believe the new Commander-in-Chief 
was entirely at one with the Government.* 

^ Dec. 7, 1900. ' See TtPtgs, Dec. 8, 1901. 

' Mr. Chamberlain, it is believed, has not yet visited South Africa. 
* TimeSy Dec. 13, and TimeSi Dec 17. See also Part I. chap. i. p. 44. 



^I^^^^^HE BRUNT OF T] 

The year 1901, however, opened with a renewal of the 
devastation so widely practised in 1900. Sweeping movements 
were carried out in many districts. "The country round 
Kimbcrley is being cleared, and women and children are being 
brought in by waggon and train." ' So telegraphed Reuter. The 
destructive work of January is also described by Private 
M'Cormick, who found leisure to write from the hospital at 
PotcheFs troom — 

" I suppose you have read about Kitchener's proclamation 
telling the Boers to lay down their arms and go to their farms. 
Well, I have travelled through the Free State and the Transvaal, 
and I can say for a fact that there is not a farmhouse fit for 
habitation in the Free State or Transvaal, They are nearly all 
burnt, and those that are not burnt are deprived of all woodwork, 
such as window- frames, doors, and beams. Wood is very scarce 
here. As for pigs and fowls, there won't be one left in the 
two countries when the war is over. Every one who has a fowl 
has to get wood to cook it, and they go to farmhouses and 
wreck them for wood. In January ^ we were a month burning 

Some of the Warwickshire Yeomen who returned about April 
igoi gave similar accounts of their experiences. One in particular 
spoke very freely during an interview with a journalist.^ He had 
been attached to Paget's column, and since Christmas had been 
chiefly occupied with the burning of farms. 

" ' What farms did you burn ? ' this Yeoman was asked. 
Not understanding the question, it had to be explained to him 
that the English at home had been told that only those farms on 
which concealed Boers or arms had been found had been 
subjected to this unpleasant treatment. He was surprised at 
these statements, and, as his reply shows, failed to acknowledge 
their accuracy. 'I don't know," he says, 'about finding Boers 
or arms. All I know is this, that some days we would start off 
early in the morning and try, during the whole day, to bum as 
many farms as we could. I never saw one in some districts that 
was spared. We used to ride up — half a dozen of us — to the 
farm door, dismount, and rap loudly with our rifles on the wood. 
We didn't wait for an invitation. In we went with a rush, and 
said to the woman, "Come on, pack up, missus; there's a 
cart waiting for you," And we gave her ten minutes to get 

' Jan, S, 1901. Sautk Afrkan Nrjis, Jio. 16. Reuter. 
'Private M'Connick to Mr. W. E. Jones, Branch Sec. Nat. Union of 
Dock Labouceis, 17th March. Quoled in Mtthods of Barbarinn, p. 59. 
• WarvnckshireAii»irtiitr,}\iT,t. igoi. 


a few things together, and then, with the youngsters, she was 
packed into the open waggon and driven off to the nearest 

" * Did you ever find Boers or ammunition hidden away ? ' 
* Never, during the whole time, except a few loose bullets lying 
about in different rooms.' 

" * Then why did you burn the farms ? ' * By the General's 
orders. We used to have plenty of fun. All the rooms were 
ransacked. You can't imagine what beautiful things there were 
there— copper kettles, handsome chairs and couches, lovely 
chests of drawers, and all sorts of books. I've smashed dozens 
of pianos. Half a dozen of us would go up to as fine a grand 
piano as ever I've seen. Some would commence playing on the 
keys with the butts of their rifles. Others would smash off the 
l^s and panels, and, finally, completely wreck it. Pictures 
would be turned into targets, and the piano panels would be 
taken outside and used as fuel to boil our tea or coffee. And 
then we could enjoy ourselves if it was cold ; but,' he added 
ruefully, *it was generally hot — boiling hot. After this we 
would set the building on fire, and as we left, riding together or 
detached over the sandy waste, we could see the flames rising up, 
and soon there would be nothing left but black smouldering 
embers. We would do the same with the next farm we came 

" The speaker then went on to describe how news of their 
approach had often been carried to the inhabitants of the farm, 
and before the punitive party arrived the house had been 
deserted, and all the cattle and valuables carried off. On these 
occasions they undertook the task of making a bonfire of the 
building with even greater relish than on ordinary occasions. 

"*How did the families take this farm burning?' *Well,' 
he replied, the smile on his face abruptly dying away, * to tell 
you the truth, we had to shut our eyes to a great many sights. 
The mothers would implore us with the little English they could 
muster to leave them in peace, and then, as we would not listen 
to them, they would dry their tears and curse and swear at us. 
We were the * verdommte rooineks ' (red-necks), and often they 
would say, 'You kill my father or brother at the war,' and 
straightway fall to heaping all sorts of bad names upon us. It 
was not always pleasant. I have often seen a mother in this 
situation, with a two months' old baby at the breast, and little 
ones around her, with a number of Kaffir women howling in 
sympathy. But we had to do our duty.' " 

Mr. Cowley, whose letter is written April 17th, describes 


the events of his various treks in the previous weeks from 

" Perhaps you will be interested in a brief account of our 
doings. The first day out from here was quiet, but we burned 
all farms, native ktaals, out-buildings, and other places that 
might afford shelter for the Boers in bad weather; we also 
kiUed all fowls, ducks, geese and pigs, turkeys, or any kind of 
poultry, and collected all horses, cattle, and sheep into herds, 
and drove them along with us, and I could not he!p thinking 
what a waste it was to kill good things for the sake of killing, 
after we had halted ; but it was grand sport chasing young 
cockerels and chopping geese's heads off, hearing pianos play 
as they were rolled upside down on to a fire lit in the middle 
of a room, piling pictures and brackets, etc., on a deal table 
and then putting a straw mattress underneath to start the blaze, 
Well, it was a go and no mistake, but all the fun is spoiled 
when you are tired out at the end of the day, and you have to 
go on outpost, instead of having a sleep, and particularly if the 
rain sets in. On the second day we had over twenty fires on 
the go before nine in the morning, and had got about six or 
seven miles from our last halting-place when we got a check for 
a couple of hours. We destroyed the nicest residence I have 
seen in the country. I forget his name that used to live at it, 
but he was next in position to the President of the late Orange 
Free State Republic. It took us all the afternoon to get it 
all destroyed. The threshing machines made the best fire, 
but the most interesting part for me was to see the explosion 
of a traction engine that worked all the farm machinery. It 
was built in England, because it bore the makers' name-pUite 
— Clayton and Suttleworth, Lincoln — and it was over an hour 
from the time the fire was lit before the boiler burst 

"The work we get now has very little interest for a soldier, 
and the sooner the Colonial Office is prepared to start its work 
the sooner we can leave." 

By mid-January the burghers were so incensed by the 
sufferings of their women and children, consequent upon the 
devastation, that President Steyn and General De Wet issued a 
letter to their commandoes announcing their resolve to invade 
the Cape Colony a second time, in order to make reprisals 
on the property of British subjects. Here was a prospect of 
more bnocent people being made to feel the pressure of the war, 
. From Private G. Cowley, Keservist, 


though the women and children were to be excepted from 
molestation. "But," said these leaders in their circular,^ "the 
burghers would be less than men if they allowed the enemy 
to go unpunished after ill-treating their wives and destroying 
their houses from sheer lust of destruction. Therefore a portion 
of our burghers have again been sent into Cape Colony, not 
only to wage war but to be in a position to make reprisals . . . 
but at the same time, to avoid being misunderstood, we hereby 
openly declare that the women and chUdren^ will always remain un- 
molested, despite anything done to ours by Her Majesty's troops." 
As a result of the clearing movements of January, families 
brought in from the country to the various centres were largely - 
on the increase. From Johannesburg we learn that a "large 
number of families of Boers still on commando are being fed 
and housed by the military authorities j " ^ while from Standerton 
large numbers were reported as being sent to Ladysmith daily, 
where there were then fully 500 families of " surrendered " people 
already encamped.* The intimations of continued devastation 
indicated by the telegrams at that period were sufficient to 
occasion further debate in the House of Commons.^ Mr. 
Bryn Roberts brought forward the Notice already alluded to 
signed by General Bruce-Hamilton, by order of which the 
women and children of the burnt village of Ventersburg were 
to be abandoned to starvation, asking if it could be true, and 
what did happen to the families so threatened.^ Mr. Brodrick 
at once explained that the Commander-in-Chief had indeed 
directed the burning of the village, but had not approved the 
wording of the Notice, which was withdrawn and the families 
given rations from the Army Stores. . : u 

. "J Mr. Dillon persevered in an attempt to present the whole 
question of the dealing with non-combatants in its moral 
light, and deprecated the imprisonment of women and their 
guardianship by armed sentries.^ But the debate failed to 
have any good effects as far as releasing the imprisoned women 
was concerned, or preventing the capture and deportation of 
thousands more. 

^ Proclamation of Steyn and De Wet, Jan. 14, 1901. See also Sequence of 
Events, p. 36, by F. Mackamess. 

' " Verklaren wy hier openlyk, dat wy nooit de vrouwen en kinderen 
lastig zuUen vallen, wat 00k de Engelsche troepen de onzen aangedaan 
mocen hebben." 

' neuter's Service, Feb. 13. 

* Reuter, Feb. 15. South African JVews, Feb. 20. 

<» Feb. 25. Ttmes^ Feb* 26* « See Part I. chap. i. p. 17, 

7 Ttt/tes, Feb. 26. 

Just two days after this debate Cook place the 
interview between Lord Kitchener and General Botha at 
Middelburg.i Lord Kitchener, who describes this meeting in 
the Blue Book,' says he took occasion to bring before General 
Botha the numerous complaints made to him in the early part 
of the year by surrendered burghers, who had stated that after 
they laid down their arms their families were ill-treated and 
their stock and property confiscated by order of the Com- 
mandants-General of the Transvaal and Orange Free State. He 
thought the acta were in consequence of General Botha's circular, 
already commented on, of the preceding October.' 

" I told him," writes Lord Kitchener, " that if he continued 
such acts I should he forced to bring in all women and children, 
and as much property as possible, to protect them from the acts 
of his burghers. I further inquired if he would agree to spare 
the farms and families of neutral or surrendered burghers, in 
which case I expressed my willingness to leave undisturbed the 
farms and families of burghers who were on commando, provided 
that they did not actively assist their relatives. The Com- 
mandant-General emphatically refused even to consider such 
an arrangen>ent. He said, ' I am entitled by law to force 
every man to join, and if they do not do so to confiscate their 
property and leave their families] on the veld.' I asked him 
what course I could pursue to protect surrendered bui^hers and 
iheir families, and he then said : 'The only thing you can do is 
to send them out of the country, as if 1 catch them they must 
suEfer.' After this there was nothing more to be said, and as 
military operations do not permit of the protection of individuals, 
I had practically no choice but to continue my system of 
sweeping certain areas into the protection of our lines. My 
decision was conveyed to the Commandant-General in my 
official letter dated Pretoria, April i6, 1901, from which the 
following is an extract : — 

" ' As I informed your Honour at Middelburg, owing to the 
irregular manner in which you have conducted and continue to 
conduct hostilities, by forcing unwilling and peaceful inhabitants 
to join your commandoes, a proceeding totally unauthorised by 
the recognised customs of war, I have no other course open to 
me, and am forced to take the very unpleasant and repugnant 
step of bringing in the women and children. 

" ' I have the greatest sympathy with the sufferings of these 
poor people, which I have done my best to alleviate, and it is 

' Feb, 28, 1901. 

* Oct. 5, 1900. Hat Part I. chap. i. p. 35. 

= Cd. go?, p. 119. 


a matter of surprise to me and to the whole civilised world that 
your Honour considers yourself justified in still causing so much 
suffering to the people of the Transvaal, by carrying on a hope- 
less and useless struggle.' " 

From this date, April i6, 1901, it became the avowed policy 
of the Commander-in-Chief to adopt the clearing process which 
had already been so widely practised. A bargain had been pro- 
posed by which, if surrendered burghers were unmolested by 
Botha, the families of those on commando should also be left 
alone by British troops, provided they did not actively assist the 
enemy. Was this a tacit avowal that till then proof of active 
assistance of the enemy had not been required? The bargain 
failed ;«for General Botha argued that the law of the land justified 
his orders, and his punishment of those who disobeyed. This 
law, however, limited his control so far as goods were concerned, 
to movable property, which he was bound to confiscate. Im- 
movable property he had no legal right to touch, and he there- 
fore refrained from all destruction of homesteads, as did also the 
other Boer Generals. 

It is difficult at present to find instances of families who have 
suffered punishment from Boer hands. That of Mrs. Viviers has 
been given.^ The letter of Mr. Tobias Smuts, published as a 
Parliamentary paper, mentions three farms which he affirms were 
burnt by General Chris. Botha. Mr. Smuts had himself burnt 
the village of Bremersdorp in Swaziland, and had been told 
by General Botha that this act was "against their principles." 
Unable to give reasons for his action satisfactory to the Com- 
mandant-General, Mr. Smuts was suspended, and subsequently 
discharged from his command. In his letter he protests against 
this dismissal, and urges that the "principle" of not burning 
houses had been already broken.^ He says — 

" Already, several months ago. General Chris. Botha burned 
houses in Sambaansland, which is not neutral territory. About 
the same time Bremersdorp was burned, the farm of Mr. 
Bemardus Johnstone, District Wakkerstroom, was burned, or 
partly burned, by General Chris. (Botha), and also the house of 
Franck Johnstone, and I have not heard yet that his Honour 
has been suspended or dismissed for it. When we were at 
Pietretief the house of Van Brandis was burned, and I was told 
that this happened by * High Order.' It is, in my opinion, not 
the number of houses that breaks the * principle.' 

" Also in connection with the transport of women, we took 

MPart I. chap. i. p. 36. 

*Dept. 2, 1901, from District Ennclo. 




up the same standpoint as a principle, but still I got the order 
from you to send the women away against their wish, and when 
I asked you what to do if the EngUsh refused to take the women, 
your answer was that in that case I had to load them off within 
the lines of the enemy." ' 

With regard to these burnings, General Meyer supplied the 
information that they were not burned by General Chris. Botha, 
who is son-in-law of the owner, Mr. Johnstone, but that Lieutenant 
Von VVicbmann burnt the waggon-house only, which he found 
stored with forage for military use, Mr. Johnstone having sur- 
rendered. The house of Van Brandis was burned, but not by 
"High Order." It was the act of a burgher whose name is 
uncertain, and said to have been done privately as an act of 

From the date of the Middelburg Conference the Boers 
washed their hands, as it were, more completely of the families of 
surrendered burghers, and, regarding them as English subjects, 
sent them into the English lines. One of these cases is alluded 
to by Mr. Conan Doyle.^ He mentions that Commandant 
Albert communicated to the English officer at Krugersdorp his 
desire to send several of those families w^se husbands had 
surrendered to their righthil protectors. Mr. Conan Doyle 
adduces this as a proof that the Boer families had no objection 
to the Concentration Camps. 

From the one side or the other it was clear that the Boer 
women with their little ones must suffer. They were between 
the devil and the deep sea. 

On June the loth, Mr. Ellis had asked in the House of 
Commons whether the policy and practice of burning farm 
buildings in South Africa for mihtary reasons had been dis- 
continued, and if so, at what date and on whose instructions. 

Mr. Brodrick had repUed — 

" I informed the House some time ago that, except in cases 
of treachery and certain recognised military offences, farmhouses 
would not be burned. Specific orders to this effect were given 
by Lord Kitchener on 7th December iqoo, and I have every 
reason to think they have been observed." ^ 

' See Cd. 933. It musl be remembered thit Ihis lelter of Mr. Tcsbias 
SmWs {who must not be confused with General J. C. Smuts) was hut one of 
a correspondence, all of which must be read to understand its due piopottions. 
The women whom he was told to send away a||;siDst tfaeir wish were a Certain 
few who had \xen discovered gi'ing regular information to the enemy. 

' See The War: lis Came and Caiiduci, p. 102. By A. Conan Doyle 
(now Sir A. Conin Doyle), 

* Hansard, vol. xciv. p. 


This statement indicated that the discussion of December 6 
in Parliament had not been fruitless, but had resulted in fresh 
orders by Lord Kitchener for more careful discrimination in the 
work of burning, and it would have been eminently satisfactory 
had it but tallied with other accounts. In a letter to his friends. 
Trooper Victor Swift describes his work in the first fortnight of 

** We bum every farm we come across, and are living like 
fighting-cocks. We think it a bad day if we haven't a couple of 
chickens and a suckling pig apiece. It's funny to see us with 
fixed bayonets chasing the pigs round the farmyard. I have an 
appetite like a wolf. 

" We went to Vrede next, and after a day's rest left that place 
in a shocking state. We killed thousands of sheep, and put them 
in every house. The stench in a week will be horrible. It is to 
prevent the Boers firom returning." ^ 

Soldiers' accounts are liable to exaggeration, but this one 
agrees with that contributed by the Rev. Samuel Thompson of 
Rivington, Bolton, Lanes., who writes — 

" It is popularly believed that the farm-burning in South Africa 
is now a thing of the past, but I send you an extract from a letter 
written by a soldier at the firont which shows that it still goes 
cruelly on. The letter is dated July 5, 1901. * It is very cold out 
here, especially at night-time : that is the reason that I want a 
woollen scarf, so be sure and send me one as quick as you can. 
... I have trekked hundreds of miles. I have been out with a 
column, and it is sickening work. We bum every farm we come to, 
and bring the women and children to the Refugee Camps. No 
matter where we go we bum the crop, leaving nothing but a 
waste of country behind us.' " ^ 

It mattered little, -however, from the point of view here 
taken, that of the women and children, whether a farm was 
actually burnt or otherwise destroyed. The immediate effects 
for them were the same. Large numbers of houses, not bumt, 
were destroyed, all the woodwork taken, and the fumiture broken 
up for firewood. From the scarcity of fuel it is hard to see how 
otherwise the troops could have cooked their food. The results 
of the clearing movements were seen in the great increase of the 
size and number of the camps. Telegrams came from many 
quarters announcing the arrival of convoys with women and 

^ 53rd Company, East Kent Imperial Yeomanry. 

' Daily News^ Aug. 17, 1901. Trooper Victor Swift. 

^ New Age, Aug. 1901, 



Early in August (the 7th) was issued Lord Kitchener's pro- 
clamation calling on all burghers to surrender before September 1 5, 
under pain of banishment ; and about the same date notices were 
sent out by the Boer leaders appointing two days for Thanksgiving 
and Humiliation.^ They met for this purpose on the estate of 
Willem Pretorius, in the Heidelberg District. The spirit shown 
by the women formed one of the subjects of thanksgiving. 
A force was sent to break up the meeting, but it was already 
over; there was no one left when the soldiers came but a 
number of women and children on the farm, who were carried 
off, and the building was burnt. 

These were the subjects of thanksgiving and confession : ^ — 

" I. For the greater and smaller victories gained over the 
enemy, not only in the beginning of the war but even in recent 

" a. For the miraculous preservation and glorious deliverance 
from the hands of our enemy and his superior powers. 

"3. For God's paternal care to provide us with our daily 
wants as to food, clothing, and ammunition, 

"4. For the enemy's failing in his, endeavours to rob our 
country altogether of cattle and grain, and thus to starve us. 

" 5. For the glorious spirit of perseverance and courage, to 
be found especially with our women and children, who even do 
not lose courage in captivity and the misery attending it ; in one 
word, for the maintenance of us as a nation during a violent 
struggle of iieariy two years, which distinctly shows us that 
God takes no delight in our fall, but desires us to return to Him 
and to live." 

Day of Humiliation, August 9. 

"We wish to confess before the Lord that though He 
repeatedly delivered us since we have existed as a nation, when 
we were in distress and called upon Him ; we, however, turned 
from Him and served other gods; and then ask the Lord to 
deliver our people ; and we wish not only to confess our sins so 
that is only mouth honour which is an abominarion in the eyes 
of God, but beseech the Lord to teach us that we may rightly 
know what sins we have commitled ; and to make us willing, 
without considering to what rank or station in the nation we 
belong, to leave off sinning, and confess sins of various kinds, 

' AToniing Liadtr, Sept. lo, I901, 

* Proclamalion : Thuisda)', Aug. 8, Thanksgiving Dhj' ; Friday, Aug. 9, 
Day of HumiUation. 


such as: sins for breaking the Lord's Sabbath, drunkenness, 
unbelief, lip-devotion, infidelity towards each other, laying down 
arms, cupidity, theft, slander, etc. etc. But the names of other 
sins we dare not mention, as their name is ' Legion.' 

" Let us, the Government and the people, seriously beseech 
the Lord on the day of humiliation to give us strength to have 
ever and exclusively before our eyes in future, as well in our 
Government as in our legislation, the honour and glorification of 
our Lord. 

(Signed) "Schalk Burger, M.. T. Steyn, Christian 

De Wet, Louis Botha, J. A. Smuts." 

Lord Kitchener's proclamation evoked replies from all the 
Generals. Some took the form of counter-proclamations, and 
the following passage in that of General De la Rey deals with 
the fate of the women and children, and the cost of their 
maintenance : — 

"Contrary to the laws and customs observed in waging 
civilised war. His Majesty has removed our wives and children 
like criminals, burned their homes, and now keeps them as 
prisoners of war ; and to recover the cost of maintaining them 
there. Lord Kitchener now threatens to confiscate our landed 
property. One finds it nowhere stated in God's Word or in 
Civil Law that any person is guilty and punishable because he 
in self-defence protects his life and property." ^ 

Towards the end of September General Louis Botha's house 
on his farm at Vryheid was blown up with dynamite. 

A list has been forwarded to me of 58 farms burnt or 
destroyed in September and early October. The families were 
brought in to Irene Camp, where the affidavits were taken. I 
am not at present allowed to make known the name of the 
person who collected and vouches for the reliability of this 
information. But it is a responsible person, known to several 
people of high authority. The list is given in Appendix C. 

In Cape Colony a Reuter message of August speaks of anxiety 
on the part of families in certain districts from the actions of the 
Boers, and lack of adequate protection from the British — 

"Waterkloof, Cape Colony, Aug. 6. 

"The families who are being removed from Waterkloof 
express eagerness to leave that place^ as their position is intoler- 
able. During the absence of the British columns the Boers 

^ Proclamation of De la Rey, Aug, 16, 1901. 


constantly live on them, while at the same time they fall under 
suspicion of the authorities." 

The account given by Mr. Cloete, Magistrate of Steytlerville, 
shows there was justification for their alarm. The threatened 
reprisals had begun. This gentleman, who was a prisoner with 
Scheepers' commando for fifteen days, and was then released, 
said that the commando consisted of about 300 men, most of 
whom were young rebels from Cape Colony, Scheepers having 
brought only 70 men with him from Orange River Colony. AH 
were well clad, equipped, and fed. They were strongly mounted, 
and led remounts. They had no transport or pack-horses, and 
lived solely on the country through which they passed, keeping 
in touch with every farm, and looting freely whatever they required. 
Scheepers issued orders to destroy the homesttads of alt men 
known to be serving with tlie District mottnted force. Mr. Cloete 
reports that many houses were accordingly burnt. The inmates 
were allowed to remove a few blankets and some bedding, and 
the premises were then fired. Mr. Cloete, durmg his captivity, 
travelled nearly 300 miles, He was kindly treated throughout 
None of the commando are older than Scheepers himself, who 
was about twenty-four years of age. 

Earlier in the year the Marquis de Kersauson tells of the 
burning of a farm in the Colony by Scheepers. In bis diary, 
under date March rg, rgoi, he writes : '^ — 

"Our object was to reach the nearest little village, Jansen- 
ville, which we would gain by following the course of the Sunday 
River. On the way, at Uitkomst, we met Scheepers' commando. 
He had just been setting fire to a farm in the district. This 
farm, of which the proprietor and his son were English, had 
been turned into a regular military post, working against the 
Boers; and the farmer bad recruited and amied 12 Kaffirs, and 
sent them in pursuit of us. In the interior of the house 
Scheepers had seized several Lee Metford rifles, and two belong- 
ing to the Kaffirs in question, whom he had shot, following the 
terms of the proclamation, interdicting the natives from taking 
up arms on pain of death. Then he made the farmers leave 
their house, and set it on fire," 

In November, Mr. Schalk Burger and Mr. Reitz, representing 

[he Transvaal Government, forwarded through Lord Kitchener 

a long letter to I.^rd Salisbury,* This appears in the Blue Bookj 

and bearing, as it does, almost entirely on the case of the womer 

' French edition, published in the Ulil Bleu, 

'Nov. 21, 1901, Cd. 902. 


and children, is here given in full. The protest was no doubt \ 
prompted by the tidings which must have penetrated to the 1 
commandoes, of the appalling figure which the October mortality j 
in the Concentration Camps had reached — 34672 per 1000 for / 
the aggregate. 

" In the Field, Nov. 21, 1901. 

"Excellency, — The handling of affairs with reference to 
the removal of families of the burghers of the South African 
Republic by British troops was hitherto left erttirely in the 
hands of his Honour the Commandant-General, who has from 
time to time directed protests to his Excellency Lord Kitchener, 
but as these protests have led to nothing, and the request of the 
Commandant-General to appoint a Commission — ^among whom 
a medical man — to make a thorough investigation into the state 
of health in the women's camps, was refused by Lord Kitchener, 
as will appear from the correspondence carried on with him, 
this Government feels herself called upon to bring the facts of 
this question direct to the notice of the Government of His 
Britannic Majesty. With indignation the Government and the 
people were surprised with the policy followed by the British 
military authorities in removing families of burghers from their 
dwellings. This removal took place in the most uncivilised and 
barbarous manner, while such action is moreover in conflict with 
all up to the present acknowledged rules of civilised warfare. 
The families were put out of their houses under compulsion, and 
in many instances by means of force, which [the houses] were 
destroyed and burnt with everything in them — such as bedding, 
clothes, furniture, and food; and these families, among whom 
were many aged ones, pregnant women, and children of very 
tender years, were removed in open trolleys [exposed] for weeks 
to rain, severe cold wind, and terrible heat — privations to which 
they were not accustomed — with the result that many of them 
became very ill, and some of them died shortly after their arrival 
in the women's camps. Many of the conveyances were also very 
rickety, and loaded with more persons than they had accommo- 
dation for, so that accidents necessarily took place, whereby 
more than one was killed. Besides these dangers, they were 
also exposed to insults and ill-treatment by Kaffirs in the service 
of your troops as well as by soldiers. 

" As a variation to the above treatment, families have lately 
been compelled to go out of their houses; the houses, with 
everything in them, burnt and destroyed, and the women and 
children left under the open sky without food or covering, 



whereby some were obliged to accompany the enemy, in order 
not to succumb to hunger, and to being exposed to storm and 
wind, as their natural protectors, who would in some way have 
been able to provide for them, are either on commando, or have 
been taken prisoners, or killed. And, be it further noticed, 
that when Lord Kitchener circulated his proclamation of the 
7th August last, a number of women were granted passes to 
betake themselves to our lines for an unhmited period. It may 
be asked why these women have returned. The reply is simply 
because their children are kept in the camps as hostages — ^this 
is calculated to give the British Government and public the false 
impression that such families have voluntarily placed themselves 
under the protection of your troops. 

"Such cruelties are almost unbelievable, and might indeed 
be sought for in the histories of former centuries, but not in the 
enlightened twentieth century. 

"And they have gone still further. British mounted troops 
have not hesitated in driving on foot for miles before their 
horses, old women, little children, and mothers with sucklings 
to their breast. 

" But still more pitiable was and is the lot of these families in 
the women's camps — several of which camps are situated in the 
coldest winter {sic) and most stormy places in our land, namely, 
at Belfast, Middelburg, Standerton, and Volksrust. The great 
majority of these families are property owners, and were in a 
well-to-do position until they were totally robbed and exposed, 
as lias already been described. They were taken away from 
their comfortable homes, where they had every comfort, and were 
well provided for with good food for themselves and their 
children, and were able to get sufficient servants. From these 
places they were transfened to packed and uncomfortable tents, 
and which moreover did not give sufficient shelter from storm 
and wind, while the majority of them have been deprived of 
the help of their servants. On account of the stingy supply 
of fuel which is allowed, women of the most noble families of 
South Africa have been obliged to gather with their own hands 
fuel consisting of dry cow-dung in order to prepare food for 
themselves and their children. At the same time they are 
obliged personally to wash their clothes and other linen besides, 
because, as has already been stated, they have been deprived of 
the help of their servants. Besides this, according to information 
given to this Government, the food is not sufficient, nor 
sufficiently varied, and the class of food not nourishing enough, 
especially for children, 


" The abnormal and terrible number of deaths in these camps 
must be put down to what has been said above, and very likely 
is increased by insufficient medical help. One of the facts in 
connection with this case is that very young children, as soon 
as they become ill, are separated from their mothers, and all this 
on medical orders. The mothers are only now and then allowed 
to visit their children. That such treatment must injure the 
health of the child speaks for itself. 

" It was alleged as a reason for the removal of the families, 
that if they were left on their farms they would act as a com- 
missariat for the commandoes. It therefore surprised us to 
see that later, in the English Parliament, it was alleged as a 
reason for such removal, that the families would succumb to 
hunger if not removed in this way. These two reasons are 
directly in conflict with each other, and neither of the two is 
the truth. That the wives of the burghers have not acted as 
a codimissariat for the commandoes, is apparent from the fact 
that the burghers in the field have still been continually pro- 
vided with the necessary food. From the above it must there- 
fore be clear to every one that the * Refugee Camps ' is an unjust 
and misleading representation. 

"This Government therefore most strongly protests against 
all the aforementioned actions employed by the British military 
authorities in connection with the removal of the families, and 
insists on improvement (or amendment), also because of the 
houses from which these families have been forcibly removed, 
hardly a single house now stands on the whole area of the two 
Republics — not, as was lately alleged in the British Parliament, 
five hundred (500), but at least thirty thousand (30,000) dwell- 
ings having been burnt and destroyed by orders of your military 
authorities, and to say nothing of the villages that have been 
totally destroyed. 

"At the same time, this Government repeats the request 

already made by his Honour the Commandant-General, that a 

Commission from our side, of whom at least one member will 

^e a medical man, shall be allowed to visit the women's camps 

to render a report to her (the Government). 

"We have the honour to be your Excellency's obedient 
servants, " S. W. Burger, Acting State President, 

F. W. Reitz, State Secretary." 

Lord Kitchener, in forwarding this despatch to the Home 
Government, enclosed also a copy of the reply he had made 
to the Boer leaders. The communication was brief— 

" I observe from your Honour's communication, which you 
have asked mc to Forward to Lord Salisbury, and which I have 
so forwarded, that you complain of the treatment of your women 
and children, and the camps which we have established for their 

" Everything has been done which the conditions of a state 
of war allowed to provide for the well-being of the women and 
children, but as your Honour complains of that treatment, and 
must therefore be in a position to provide for them, 1 have the 
honour to inform you that all women and children at present in 
our camps who are willing to leave will be sent to the care of 
your Honour, and I shall be happy to be informed where you 
desire they shall be handed over to you." 

Commenting on the foregoing correspondence, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief wrote explabing that in his opinion it was 
clear that the responsibility for the condition and sufferings 
endured by the women and children lay with Generals Botha 
and De \Vet rather than with himself. However that may be, 
it is probable that Mr. Schalk Burger's letter resulted in a 
change of policy, for an order was given in December to bring 
in no more families. The statistics of the camps show that on 
the whole this order was carried out. The populations remained 
stationary, or rather showed only a decrease consequent upon 
the high mortality. 

The despatch of Lord Kitchener ran as follows ; ' — 

"It will, I believe, be perfectly clear that the responsibility 
for the action complained of by Mr. Schalk Burger in his letter 
of 2ist November igor rests rather with the Commandants- 
General of the Transvaal and Orange Free State than with the 
Commander-in-Chief in South Africa. 

" It is not the case that every area has been cleared of the 
families of burghers, although this might be inferred from the 
despatch under discussion. On the contrary, very large numbers 
of women and children are still out, either in Boer camps or on 
their own farras,"^ and my column commanders have orders to 
leave them alone unless it is clear that they must starve if they 
are left on the veld. 

"In addition to the families of surrendered burghers who 
either came in of their own accord, or were brought in solely 

' Cd, go2. Dec 6, 1901. 

' " lunts received since peace was declared speak of so 
ti the care of commandoes. See I'ait III. cbap. i. 


to save them from the reprisals of the enemy, there are three 
other classes represented in our Refugee Camps: — 

" {a) Families who were reported to be engaged in a regular 
system of passing information to the enemy. 

" {b) Families from farms which were constantly used by the 
enemy as places from which to snipe at our troops. 

"(^) Families from farms which were used as commissariat 
depots by the enemy. 

"(a) and {b) speak for themselves. Mr. Schalk Burger 
seems to consider that {c) is in conflict with the statement that 
such families would have succumbed to hunger if not removed. 
If, however, a Boer commissariat dep6t is found with perhaps 
regular messing arrangements for thirty men and thousands of 
pounds of flour and mealies, of course these supplies have to be 
withdrawn, leaving only a margin of a few weeks' food for the 
resident inmates of the farm. At the close of a few weeks the 
family runs in danger of starvation and has to be brought in, so 
that the want of logic complained of is merely an attempt on the 
part of Mr. Burger to make a clever point on paper. 

"The majority of the women and children in the Refugee 
Camps are those of surrendered burghers,^ but neither they nor 
the wives of prisoners of war, nor of men on commando, make 
any serious complaint, although they are constantly being invited 
by commissions, inspectors, etc., however little it may be, against 
the arrangements made for their comfort, recreation, and 

" Mr. Burger is anxious that a Boer Commission should be 
permitted to visit the women's camps and render a report upon 
them. Indeed, this is the one practical suggestion contained in 
his letter. It is strange, to say the least of it, that no mention is 
made by Mr. Burger of the fact that I have already told the 
Commandant-General I would permit a representative appointed 
by him to visit the Refugee Camps in order that an independent 
report might be furnished on the subject Nor is there any 
reference to the inspection of these camps which was actually 
carried out by Captain Malan. It will be remembered that I 
immediately acceded to General B. Viljoen's request that he 
might depute an officer for this purpose. He selected Captain 
Malan,2 who went around asking if there were any complaints, 
and who afterwards expressed his entire satisfaction with the 
arrangements which had been made on behalf of the Boer 

^ Lord Kitchener seems to have been totally misinformed on this point. 
' He does not appear to have been allowed to visit more than one camp, 
viz, Middelburg. See p. 149. 

women and children. I take this opportunity of stating that 
I would make no objection to Commandant-Gcnetal Botha 
himself, accompanied if he likes by Genera] De la Rey and Mr. 
Steyn, visiting these camps, provided they undertake to speak 
no politics to the inmates, who as a rule appreciate the general 
situation much better than their husbands or brothers on 

" Finally, I indignantly and entirely deny the accusations of 
rough and cruel treatment to women and children who were 
being brought in from their farms to the camps. Hardships may 
have been sometimes inseparable from the process, but the Boer 
women in our hands themselves bear the most eloquent testimony 
to the kindness and consideration shown to them by our soldiers 
on all such occasions. 

" 1 enclose copy of letters which I have just despatched on 
this subject to Mr. Burger, Mr. Steyn, and to General de Wet, 
offering to return to them any women who may be willing to join 
the Boer commandoes in the field." 

No information has yet been received as to how this ofifer 
was met by the Boer officers, and we do not know if the 
permission was made known to the women in the camps. 

Late in December 190T, General De la Rey sent his official 
report to Mr. Kruger and the Boer representatives in Europe. 
This, published in England and on the Continent, gives the 
following picture of the country as it appeared at the close of the 
year : — 

" Our land is one heap of ruins. 

" Nothing remains but the walls of buildings, except where 
even these were blown up with dynamite. Nothing has escaped 
this destruction. The properties of neutrals as well as of 
burghers killed in battle, and of those who are now prisoners 
of war, and of the widows and orphans — everything has been 

" Neither churches nor parsonages nor schools have been 

" In my division the villages of Wolmaransstad, Bloemhof, 
Schweizer-Reineke, and Hartebeestfontein, which have not been 
occupied by the enemy, have been totally burnt. 

" It is exactly the same in the Eastern Districts of the South 
African Republic, where General Botha is at present, 

" The treatment of women and children, defenceless creatures, 
is really the darkest p^e among the many dark pages of this sad 
war. At first hundreds of our women who were living in the 
villages were taken prisoners and sent to the commandoes. We 


formed women's camps at several places, where our women and 
children were taken care of. But soon the enemy changed his 
conduct Our women who had been taken prisoners after the 
homesteads had been burned, were sometimes carried along with 
the columns on trolleys for weeks. At night the women were 
placed around the laagers as a protection against a night attack 
from our side. When the women realised what was the object 
of the enemy, they tried to escape, but were pursued. They were 
even fired upon. Sometimes they were caught again, and then 
they were removed to greater distances, and placed in tents. But 
from the camps hundreds of sweet messages reach us, telling us 
not to worry about them, but to continue the struggle for our 

"Many women have already lost their lives either from 
wounds or from the misery they have endured. My own wife wds 
ordered by Lord Methuen to leave her home and everything she 
possessed. She has been wandering about the countiy for over 
twelve months with six small children. My mother, an old woman 
of eighty-three, who has been a widow for nine years, has been 
carried away as a prisoner. All her cattle have been taken away, 
and her house burnt. She has been removed to Klerksdorp." 




I REACHED Cape Town the S7th of December, in time to 
see the opening of the New Year and the New Century. 
It was my first visit to the country, but whatever my 
ignorance of South Africa, her language and her people, at least 
. I knew that thousands of women, no matter what their u 
J condition, were at that moment undergoing great privation and 
: sorrow, and I believe that suffering and the desire to relieve it 
know a common tongue, which cannot be misunderstood.^ 

How to approach these sufferers, or exactly where all the 
existing camps were situated, I did not know when 1 landed. 
Port Elizabeth was the only camp known of in England when 
I left, but in Cape Town I heard at once of the laige camps at 
Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Potchefstroom, Norval's Pont, 
Kroonstad, Irene, and other places. Unfortunately, a few days 
before I landed, martial law had been declared ^ over a number 
of fresh districts of Cape Colony, and now extended nearly to 
the coast. Hence moving about with freedom was impossible 
even for purposes of relief. Permission from the highest 

^ Tht War: Itt Cause ami Csttda^l, cha^. vii, By A. Conan Doyle, 
Conan Doyle has said that in consequence of complete ignorance in these- 
particulars my " conclusions " concerning the camps are "untrustworthy." 
notice Mr. Doyle has put foiwaid conclusions on the camps withont ever 
having visited them at all. But he and the critics of whom he is a sample 
forget that Concentmtion Camps are not the normal condition of life in Soulli 
Africa, and it is only indirectly that the normal life of the people bore upon 
the conclusions formed in respect to life in those camps, i may remark that 
I had taken a course of lessons in Dutch, read books relative to the lives and 
customs of the Boeis, and was iatioiate with many South Africans, who supplied 
me with detailed information. 

• Dec, 20, 1900. 


authorities was essential. I therefore took my introduction to 
Sir Alfred Milner, and had at his invitation the opportunity of 
putting before him my objects, and of asking his help to reach 
the destitute women. From him I received every kindness and « 
promise of assistance, subject only to Lord Kitchener's military 
decision. He was himself agreeable to my visiting every camp 
both in the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, but Lord 
Kitchener's telegram when it arrived limited my permit to 
Bloemfontein. The High Commissioner also suggested I should 
be accompanied by a Dutch lady, but Lord Kitchener thought 
this unnecessary, and refused permission. Sir Alfred Milner 
was aware of the uneasy feeling prevailing amongst the Cape 
Colonists with respect to the women in the north, and he felt 
it fitting that a representative of their Relief Committee should 
help in the work. Lord Kitchener, on the other hand, was right 
in supposing that I should find assistance wherever I went, but 
he failed to perceive what a great victory might have been won 
over the hearts of the Dutch by allowing their anxiety and 
wounded feeling this reasonable outlet. Clearly also he did not • 
understand the vastness of the need, the wide scope of a work 
in which such help would have been invaluable. I carried his 
permit, together with the High Commissioner's letter which 
follows, to ail the camps I visited.. 

Letter of Authority from Sir A. Milner. 


" Dear Miss Hobhouse, — I have written to General Prety- 
man, the Military Governor of the Orange River Colony, asking 
him to give you any assistance in his power. 

"Personally I am quite willing that you should visit any 
refugee camp in either T, V, or 0,R, C, if the military authorities 
will allow it. As you are aware. Lord Kitchener is not prepared 
at present to approve of your going farther than Bloemfontein. 
But as he has expressly approved of your going as far as that, I 
do not think that there can be any difficulty about your visiting 
the camps either there or at any place on the railway south of it. 
In any case, you can show this letter as evidence that as far 
as I am concerned such visits are authorised and approved 
of. — Yours very truly, 

" A. Milner (High Commissioner)." 

I accepted gratefully Lord Kitchener's limited permission, 
trusting that the future would bring opportunity for getting 


forward to the more northern camps, such as Kroonstad, Winburg, 
and Johannesburg, of which at that time I heard very sad accounts. 
Sir Alfred Milner further helped me by providing a large truck, 
in which I was able to pack several hundred pounds' worth of 
groceries, clothes, and hospital necessaries. With this I left 
Cape Town January the iind, and reached Bloemfontein the 
afternoon of the 24th. My first duty was to call on General 
PreCyman at Government Buildings, who received me very 
kindly. He gave me a permanent pass to the camp, introduced 
me to the superintendent, with an intimation that any suggestions 
I should make should be considered, and asked rae to let him 
know later what I thought of the camp, and from time to time 
I did so. 

I could form no scheme of work till I had seen the camp 
and the people. Thus a few days were spent talking to the 
officials and to the women, learning the conditions of camp life 
in general and that one in particular. It was a time of war. 
There was pressure on the lines of communication, pressure on 
the supplies, pressure on the transports, on the exchequer — 
pressure everywhere, unless we except the time and brains of, 
subordinate officials. Obviously, then, the lowest possible 
standard of comfort compatible with health and life itself must 
be the one adopted as the standard to attain to in the camps. 
And here I may remark that to this standard 1 sternly adhered 
during my sojourn in South Africa, So definitely did I draw 
the line, that I even regarded candles as luxuries except in cases 
of sickness. It was a hardship to sU in the dark, but it could 
be endured by those who could not buy, and I saw my 
funds must be spent on what would nourish, cleanse, or give 

Soon from a crowd of minor details certain facts loomed 
large. I realised that the barest necessities of life were lacking or 
inadequately supplied. I had come to give little extras or com- 
forts or garments, such as the authorities could not at the moment 
be expected to provide, and I found what really lacked were bare 

The shelter was totally insufficient. When the 8, 10, or la 
persons who occupied a bell-tent were all packed into it, either to 
escape from the fierceness of the sun or dust or rain storms, there 
was no room to move, and the atmosphere was indescribable, 
even with duly lifted flaps. There was no soap provided. The 
water supplied would not go round. No kartels or mattresses 
were to be had. Those, and they were the majority, who could 
not buy these things must go without. Fuel was scanty, and had 


at that time to be cut by the people from the green scrub on the 
kopjes. The earliest ration lists then in vogue ran thus ; — 

"Scale of Rations. 


Jib. fresh meat, 
lb. either meal, rice, samp, 
or potatoes, 
i^ oz. coffee. 
3 oz. sugar. 
I oz. salt. 
Y^^ tin of condensed milk. 


lb. fresh meat. 

lb. either meal, rice, or 
\ oz. coffee. 
I oz. sugar. 
I oz. salt, 
y^ tin of condensed milk. 

"Assistant Provost-Marshal, O.R.C." 

The above scale is undated, but was, I believe, the earliest, 
and superseded by this one, dated January i6, 1901 : — 

"Line of Communication Orders by Lieutenant-General 
Sir A. Hunter, K.C.B., D.S.O., Commanding Line of 
Communication from Norval's Pont to Wolverhoek. 

** Bloemfontein, Wednesday i fan, i6, 1 901. 

"Scale of Rations for Refugees. 


Families who have members on 

Adults and Children over 6 years of age. 

Flour or meal 
Meat . . 
Coffee . . 
Sugar . . 
Salt . . . 

Flour or meal 
Meat . . 
Milk. . . 
Sugar . . , 
Salt . . . , 

I lb. daily, 

1 oz. 

2 oz. 

Children under 6 years of age. 

Mealie meal 3 lbs. daily. 
Meat. . . I lb. twice weekly. 
Coffee . . I oz. daily. 
Sugar . . 2 oz. 
Salt . . . ^ oz. 


. \ lb. daily. 
. lib. 
. itin 
. I oz. 

Salt . 

\ lb. daily. 

lb. twice weekly. 

tin daily. 
I oz. 

Either of these was sufficiently small, but when, as I con- 
stantly found, the actual amount given did not come up to the 



scale, it became a starvation rate. Yet, marvellously enough, 
there was little or no complaint on the score of food. This i 
was due partly to the fact that many still had private means by ] 
which to augment the rations, and partly that probably the people ] 
themselves did not realise how impoverished the system would | 
become on food at once so meagre and so monotonous. I 
certainly did not fully realise it, and said little on this bead, 
except to suggest rice as an occasional alternative, and milk 
for the hospital and young children ; and the good sense of the 
women was most striking, an ordinary remark being, " We know 
it is war-time, and we cannot expect much." Periodically a. 
consignment of coffee or sugar would be bad in quality, or 
the meat would he putrid and then the results were serious. 
Mr, Methuen has called attention to the doctor's analysis of 
the food given in Johannesburg Camp at one period,' and I have 
coSee and sugar in my possession which a London analyst has 
pronounced in the first case to be 66 per cent, adulteration, and 
in the second the sweepings of the warehouse. 

As their money became exhausted, it was so hard to live, 
that many women were driven to borrow from friends or store- 
keepers or business men in town at high percentage, 

In January there were 1800 people in Bloemfontein Camp, 
and many other large camps awaited my visit. To provide the 
hare necessaries urgently wanted in this camp alone would have 
swallowed up the resources then at my command. It seemed 
clearly the duty of the Government to provide the actual 
necessaries for the people whose own means they had destroyed, 
and who were prisoners of war, as well as for the few who had 
come for their protection. The sura committed to my care was 
intended to give the people small extras to alleviate their lot 
But my hand was stayed, for while necessaries are lacking 
comforts cannot be considered. Acting therefore on General'l 
Pretyman's instructions, I laid before the superintendent these. I 
several needs. Unfortunately for the camp, there was a continual I 
change of authority at this period, which made consistent and f 
organised work impossible. My request for soap was met with I 
the reply, "Soap is a luxury," and the further argument that 1 
soldiers do not receive soap in their rations. I urged that that I 
was a matter which lay between them and the War Office, J 
but did not affect the question of its necessity for women and J 
children. Finally it was requisitioned for, also forage — more 1 
tents — boilers to boil the drinking water — water to be laid on J 
from the town — and 3 matron for the camp. Candles, matches, T 
' Pcoit or War in SeulA Africa. A. M. S. Methuen. p. 99. 


and such like I did not aspire to. It was about three weeks 
before the answer to the requisition came, and in the interim I 
gave away soap. Then we advanced a step. Soap was to be 
given, though so sparingly as to be almost useless — ^forage was too 
precious — brick boilers might be built — but to lay on a supply 
of water was negatived, as " the price was prohibitive." Later on, 
after I had visited other camps, and came back to find people 
being brought in by the hundred and the population rapidly 
doubling, I called repeated attention to the insufficient sanitary 
accommodation, and still more to the negligence of the camp 
authorities in attending to the latrines. I had seen in other 
camps that under proper administrative organisation all could 
be kept sweet and clean. But week after week went by, and 
daily unemptied pails stood till a late hour in the boiling sun,^ 
and the tent homes of the near section of the camp were 
rendered unbearable by the resulting effluvia. 

With regard to the outlay of the fund with which I was 
entrusted, it was too responsible a matter to give other people's 
money at haphazard, and it would, I felt, be necessary to get 
some broad idea of how and where it was most needed. To 
obtain this, I determined to proceed by a methodical system of 
investigation. By getting answers to a certain simple set of 
questions,* I was able to learn quickly what had been the position 
of a given family, what was now its condition and what its 
prospects. Having obtained this simple information, the answers 
could be easily tabulated, and an idea arrived at as to the kind 
of help most widely needed — amongst whom — and what pro- 
portion of the funds should be kept to give on the return home 
of each family. At that date few thought either that the war 
would last so long or that the camp system would grow to such 
proportions. Sufficient advance was made with this plan to gain 
for myself a clear general view of the situation, when I found the 
people being brought in on all sides in such great numbers as to 
render the scheme quite impracticable. Had the camps remained 
stationary at the size I first found them, a good system of relief 
could soon have been organised. It was evident they were to 
attain far larger proportions, and with such a mass of impoverished 
people it took all the time and the money to find out and deal 
with instant cases of necessity. Every day made it more evident 
that camp matrons were essential to do work which could not be 
done by a man, nor by those nurses whose time should be wholly 

^ See also Cd. 819, p. 94, Dr. Becker's ''Report on Bloemfontein in 
June 1901." 

' See my Report, p. 18. 


occupied in hospital work, nor indeed spasmodically by any one, I 
bat only by a capable head with a large staff of regular workers. 
As far as Bloemfontein was concerned, and in other towns where | 
such existed, the local committee of ladies were most anxious I 
to help in every way, and had it not been for their efforts in I 
providing clothing, sad indeed would have been the condition of I 
Ihe helpless people. But here as elsewhere they laboured under ' 
. a disadvant^e. It became clear to my astonished mind that 
both the censorship and system of espionage were not merely 
military in character, but political and almost personal, so that 
even to feel, much more to show, sympathy to the people was to 
render yourself a suspect. Hence many a charitable scheme in | 
Bloemfontein and in other places was nipped in the bud by the 
chill of disapprobation, Such schemes which had no aim but the 
bettering of hardships would have saved many a valued life if 
freer scope had been allowed to the workers. Life and work in 
the camps was made intolerable by the presence of spies who 
carried tales founded on nothing. Every one knows what class 
of men accept the work which means spying upon neighbours, 
aod can draw their own conclusions as to the value of such 
reports. The subject is alluded to simply to show the difBculties 
of voluntary helpers, whose unstinted work has been so unfairly 
criticised and condemned. One can neither initiate, oi^anise, or 
work one's best when conscious that suspicion is in the very air 
one breathes. If ladies not only in Bloemfontein but elsewhere 
had not been baulked at every turn, and made timid fay censorial 
methods, their womanly common-sense and ready help would 
have averted much of the tragedy we all deplore. 

I made a tour to visit other camps, and found that though ii 
some respects they were superior to Bloemfontein, yet broadly 1 
the same needs prevailed in each, varying according to loc^ [ 
circumstances, such as are enumerated in my Report.' I saw 
Nerval's Pont, Aliwal North, Springfontein, Kimberley, Mafeking, 
and Orange River, in some cases paying repeated visits. On 
returning to Bloemfontein, I found Major Goold-Adams had just 
arrived to take up the position and work of Deputy Admini- 
strator, Hitherto the camps had been under mihtary control, 
now they were to pass under civil administration. Undoubtedly 
in the long run Ibis has proved for the best, but at the moment, 
with sickness rife in the camps, with a constant influx, with a 
crude organisation, the change from one authority to another 
caused great friction and enhanced the difficulties of the situa- 
tion. Moreover, civil superintendents rarely possessed such 
' Sea my Report, p. to. 


knowledge of organisation and discipline as. pertain to military 

men. In some ways, however, the military still retained control, 

and an endeavour to get anything done was met with continual 

shunting of the responsibility from one authority to the other. 

In addition, expense was a continual difficulty. This may seem 

strange to those who have formed their ideas of the camps on 

Mr. Conan Doyle's description. In the fairyland of his fertile u 

imagination, " no money was spared," and " every child under six 

had a bottle of milk a day";^ but we are dealing with facts. 

Major Goold-Adams entered with interest into the condition of 

the camps. He discussed the question of mattresses, and I 

drew up and sent him a memorandum of the cost of covers 

and making to provide one for each tent. It seemed to me of 

paramount importance to lift the people off the ground at 

night I volunteered to manage the whole supply, and even to 

undertake the entire cost, if the Government would provide forage 

of some kind for stuffing. The military refused this, as too precious, 

and no sufficient quantity of anything else could be procured. 

The veld was bare of grass, which might otherwise have afforded 

good material. 

The only bright spot in the camp life at this period was 

the little schools; these the wisdom and energy of Mr. 

Sargant were gradually creating out of chaos. They were 

gladly welcomed, and recognised as an improvement upon the 

many little classes which had been inaugurated and carried on 

here and there in the camps by energetic Boer teachers under 

the most adverse circumstances. Good administration, too, 

where met with, brought more cheerful elements in its train. 

This was the case in the very earliest days of Aliwal North 

under Major Apthorpe, and I have frequently in public meetings 

and elsewhere dwelt upon the superiority of the camp at 

NorvaFs Pont, which passed in March under the administration 

of Mr. Cole Bowen. This camp had been from the beginning 

fortunate in its commandants. The first to organise it was, if 

I am correctly informed. Lieutenant Wynne of the Imperial 

Yeomanry, whose conduct won for him the title of " Father of 

the Camp," and the affection of the people committed to his 

care. I do not know who he is, but I mention this thinking 

he may like to know that long after he had left the place his 

memory was treasured with love and respect. After a spell of 

the firm military discipline of Major Du Plat Taylor, the camp 

passed into the hands of Mr. Cole Bowen. This gentleman 

^ See War: Its Cause attd Cotiduct, pp. 95, 96. By A. Conan Doyle 
(now Sir A. Conan Doyle). 


'" showed marked administrative powers ; his rule was firm, just, 
and kind, and he seemed possessed of unlimited resources. 
Such a management brought more alleviation than any outside 
help could do, to the privations which were the lot of all. As 
a consequence, the entire spirit of the camp was on a higher 

It was my wish and suggestion that Mr. Cole Bowen should 
be asked to visit other camps, in order to inaugurate his superior 
methods, and so obviate needless suffering. The idea, however, 
was not adopted until in the last months of the year the Ladies' 
Commission made the same proposal, and Mr. Bowen became 
travelling mspector, with effects for which in Bethulie alone that 
ill-fated camp can never be too grateful. 

Some weeks elapsed during my second tour before I returned 
to Bloemfontein. In the interval, all through March and part of 
April, fresh sweeping movements had resulted in the advent of 
crowds of families into the camps. In all directions I had 
witnessed this, and read of it as happening elsewhere. I had 
seen families swept close to the railway line near Warrenton and 
Fourteen Streams ; I had seen a crowded train crawl the whole 
long day into Kimberley — the people, old and young, packed in 
open trucks beneath a cruel sun — kept at the station without 
food until late at night, brought up at midnight to bare tents, 
where, groping in the dark, they sought their bundles and lay 
down, finding no preparation, no food or drink. I had seen 
them in crowds by railway sides in bitter cold, in streaming rain, 
hungry, sick, dying, and dead. I have seen these patient people 
packed in train-loads for BethuHe and elsewhere, and I never 
doubted but that every countrywoman of mine, had they seen 
and known, would have felt as I did, great sympathy with their 
forlorn condition and a desire to alleviate it. I believe most of 
■ the soldiers round me shared my thoughts. 

My first visit to the camp at Bloemfontein after the lapse 
of a few weeks was a great shock. The population had doubled, 
and had swamped the effect of improvements which could not 
keep pace with the numbers to be accommodated. Sickness 
was increasing, and the aspect of the people was forlorn in the 
extreme. Disease and death were stamped upon their faces. 
Many whom I had left hale and hearty, full in figure and face, 
had undergone such a change that I could not recognise them. 
I realised how camp life under these imperfect conditions was 
telling upon them, and no impartial observer could have failed 
to see what must ensue, unless nurses, doctors, workers, and 
above all extra food, clothing, and bedding, could be poured out 


in abundance and without delay. I sought the Deputy Admini- 
strator, and represented to him the death-rate already worked 
out in the adjoining camp at 20 per cent, and asked if nothing 
could be done to stop the influx of people. He replied that he 
believed that all the people in the entire country, with the excep- 
tion of towns on the line, were to be brought in. His kindness'^ 
and courtesy often encouraged me to put before him not only / 
the bodily needs of the women, but other troubles or punish- 1 
ments which weighed upon them, which seemed unnecessarily / 
severe, and appeared to be creating sores which even time would ; 
not have power to heal. His policy was no doubt dictated from ■ 
higher sources, his humanity too evidently crippled by lack of 
means. My fund was but a drop in the ocean of such a need. ^ 

There were two courses open to me. To stay among the 
people, doling out small gifts of clothes, which could only touch 
the surface of the need, or to return home with the hope of 
inducing both the Government and the public to give so promptly 
and abundantly that the lives of the people, or at least the 
children, might be saved. It seemed certain that in South Africa 
itself adequate expenditure would never be authorised. 

But I first determined to make the effort to visit and take 
relief to Kroonstad, where I had been repeatedly invited by the 
superintendent of that camp.^ As Lord Kitchener reiterated 
his refusal to allow me a permit north of Bloemfontein, I referred 
the matter to the High Commissioner, who telegraphed his regret 
that it was impossible. I next laid the facts before Major Goold- 
Adams, asking if his aid was sufficient to help me at least to 
Kroonstad. His reply was in the negative, and at the same time 
he dwelt a little upon what were evidently the real reasons of-, 
the refusal given me to go farther on. It was said that I was 
showing "personal sympathy" to the people. I replied with 
astonishment that that was just what I came to do, to give 
personal sympathy and help in personal troubles. He believed 
that gifts could be dealt out in a machine-like routine. I said 
I could not work like that, I must treat the people like fellow- 
creatures, and share their troubles. He believed this unnecessary. 

It had also been brought to his notice from Pretoria thaf " 
letters from me had been read at a meeting in London which ' 
he understood to be a political meeting. As I had that day had ' 
similar news by post, I was able to tell him that it was 2i private • 

^ It is worth remarking that the incessant getting of permits and passes 
increased very materiaUy the difficulties and fatigues of the work^ It swallowed 
up hours, and even days, involving not only waste of time, but also severe 
trial both of physical strength and of patience. 

meeting of subscribers to the fund, which had met in my uncle's 
house, and was not a political meeting. Naturally people desiied 
some account of what was being done with their money. 

By this conversation the situation was made clear to me. 

It was no question of political sympathy. On that score I 
always maintained a negative attitude. Personal sympathy was 
to be discouraged. This wholly imexpected policy accoimted 
for much of what had struck me as peculiarly painful in the 
camps in the general attitude and tone adopted by many of the 
officials towards the women in their care, whatever their social 
standing might be. This sympathy, so needed by a sick and 
bereaved womanhood, was to be denied them, not only when 
offered by people of their own race, as the local committees, but 
even when offered them by an Englishwoman, who believed that 
I whatever might be the issue of the war every friend so made 
would be a link with England. I had come amongst them as a 
. woman to women, and talked to them on no other ground. 
After all, one individual whose methods were thus unconsciously 
in antagonism to the professed attitude of the authorities, could 
do next to nothing, faced also by the enormous populations of 
the camps. Disease and death were already let loose in their 
midst, and if adequate help was to come in money, kind, and 
working staff, if an immense death-roll was to be averted, it could 
only be done by a strong warning to the Government of the 
serious state of affairs, and a mandate from England to lift the 
entire system on to a higher level. 

The arrival of occasional English newspapers confirmed me 
in the fear that the facts as they existed were wholly misunder- 
stood at home. It was true that efforts made in the House of 
Commons had brought about a discontinuance of the half-ration 
system, though treatment of the " undesirables " in other ways 
still remained different from that of refugees ; but I read with 
dismay Lord Kitchener's message, communicated by Mr, Brodrick, 
that the people had " a sufficient allowance, and were all com- 
fortable and happy," ^ I saw, too, that the Secretary for War, 
relying no doubt on the scanty information contained in telegrams, 
told the House that the people came to the camps for protection 
{true only of a minority), and that those who came might go.* 
I knew they were miserable and under-fed, sick and dying. It 
was clear that there was a misunderstanding, and the country as 
a whole was ignorant of the truu position of affairs. Vet this 
was what the Boer women so often asked me : " Do the English 
people know what we suffer ? " 
' Times, Mir. 2, 1901. ' Feb. 25, 1901. Hansard, vol, Ixulix. p. 1021. 


" Let us not," said the Colonel Commanding one of the 
towns to whom I went for help in my work, "let us not call 
it the Refugee Camp. These people are not refugees." I 
willingly agreed, feeling with him it is always best to ^ce facts 
as they are. 

Shocked at the misery I had seen, and conscious that equal 
suffering prevailed in some thirty other camps, certain that with 
right administration much of it could be removed, and strong in 
the faith that English humanity if made aware would not tolerate 
such conditions, I formed my determination to return home, and \ 
I left South Africa with poignant regret but with no delay. 

It was clear that reform to be effectual and life-saving must 
come from England, must be on a large scale, and at all cost^ 
must be instant. 



Section A 

" Milton t ihou should'st be living at this hour : 

England hatii need of thee ; she is a fen 

Of stagnant waters : altar, sword, and pen, 

Fitesick, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, 

Have forfeited their encient English dowei 

Of inward happiness. We are selfish men ; 

Oh ! raise US up, return to us again," — Wobdsworth. 

IN the last chapter a sketch has been given of the predominant 
impressions regarding the camps, so far as the country 
had any impression at all; and with but few exceptions 
no more was known. As illustration of the general vagueness 
about this great movement, I may mention that the editor of 
a prominent London paper was under the impression that there 
was only one women's camp, and that one somewhere in the 
vicinity of Cape Town. My advisers in England were anxious 
to facilitate the collection of funds for the relief of the camps 
by the publication of a few extracts from my letters, descriptions 
written on the spot to my family and friends. Before deciding 
to appeal to a wider circle by means of these letters, I desired 
as my first step to lay my information before the Secretary of 
State for War. A recent speech ^ he had made in the House 
increased this desire, for he had then spoken of the " women 
coming for food and protection against the Kaffirs" — of 
" 20,000, 30,000, or 40,000 women who had placed themselves 
in our charge "—of " no occasion in which in these camps food 
ran short," and of " immense improvement," etc. 

I wrote, therefore, to Mr, Brodrick, asking if an interview 
would he agreeable to him,^ and I mentioned that though my 
first duty was towards the Committee whose funds I had been 
administering, yet I wished to lay all information before the 

' Tillies, May 25, 190I. ' May 3I. 


Government before any publicity was given to my statements, in 
the event of that course being decided upon. 

In reply, I was invited to see Mr. Brodrick;^ and so far 
as could be done in a short hour, I explained the condition of 
the camps — the insufficient supplies — attempted improvements 
swamped by increased numbers — the great sickness and heavy 
mortality — that the great majority were there by compulsion, 
and were prisoners not allowed to leave, though health and life 
itself were endangered. 

I was listened to with kindness and attention, and requested 
to send my suggestions in writing. This was done the same 
day, and they were subsequently embodied in the Report ^ which 
the Committee of the Distress Fund issued a fortnight after- 
wards. This Report drew general attention to the Concentration 
Camps. Meagre as it was, it aroused considerable sympathy, 
creating, as Lord^Spencer put it, "a profound feeling of com- 
passion througBxSut the country." Previous to its issue there 
had been a debate on the Concentration Camps in the House 
of Commons on Mr. Lloyd George's motion of adjournment.* 
He first graphically described the situation, and, supported by 
Mr. Ellis, appealed to the humanity and Christianity of the 
House to take immediate steps to alleviate the sufferings of the 
women and children. 

Mr. Brodrick adopted the apologetic attitude,* and asserted 
that the fault of these women being in camps at all lay with their 
own men, who did not "recognise their own responsibilities in 
the matter." It was even, he said, "owing to the action of 
their own friends." He urged the difficulty, which has always 
been obvious, that in war-time it is hard to keep 63,000 people 
(the numbers at that date) sheltered and fed in addition to a 
great army. So obvious is this fact, that mosk people would 
have thought that some preparation would have been made for 
it before entering upon so vast a military movement Mr. 
Brodrick assured the House that those who had been out there 
to distribute gifts, and had since returned and spoken to him, 
had told him " that things, so far from going from bad to worse, 
have been steadily ameliorating." My own effort had been 
to impress Mr. Brodrick with the view that such improvements 
as had been effected, and they were few, were nullified by the 
increasing number of families brought in. 

Very clearly in my remembrance of that debate stands out 
Mr. Herbert Lewis's attempt to fix the jlttention of the Hoyse 

■■ V Mune 4» > * See my Report, p. 14. 

* June 18, * See Times, June 19. 



on the humanitaTian side of the question. The House was 

unsympathetic, and neither knew nor cared to hear. Humanity ■ 
was appealed to in vain, and Mr. Lewis was literally howled down 
by continual noise and wearied shout of "Divide" from the 
crowded Ministerial benches. The picture thus exhibited of 
callousness and impatience, not willing even to listen to sufferings 
innocently endured, contrasted badly with scenes fresh in my 
._/\ mind in South Afiica. In common with the Boer women, I had 
felt sure that English humanity would not fail to respond instantly 
if the facts were clearly understood. I was wrong ; no barbarisms 
I in South Africa could equal the cold cruelty of that indiflferent 
\ House. 

The first part of Mr. Brodrick's speech on this occasion was 
answered by President Steyn in bis despatch to Lord Kitchener, 
and may be interesting in this connection — 

' "To say that they are in camps of their own free will is 
altogether opposed to facts, and to assert that these women were 
brought to the camps because the Boers refused to provide for 
their families {as the Minister of War is said to have done 
recently in Parliament), is a slander which wounds us less than 
the slanderer, and which I feel sure will never bear away your 
Excellency's approval M. T. Steyn." 

A few days after the issue of my Report, the Secretary for War 
sent me the following answer to the Recommendations which had 
been forwarded by me at his request : — 

"War. Office, /uiu aj, 1901. 
" Dear Miss Hobhouse, — The Recommendations contained 
in your letter of June 4 on the subject of the Concentration 
Camps have been most carefully considered, and I am now in a 
position to give you the opinions which have been formed on 
them by the Government, and which, I think you will agree, 
generally speaking meet with your wishes. As regards — 



I. We have coTnmunicated to Loid 
Kitchener our view that any women 
coming under these four headings 
should be allowed to go, unless there 
is some military objection. The 
question of refugees going to Cape 


Qfustiam. Answers, 

(b) Those who have means and Colony in large numbers is open to 

could support themselves in Cape grave objections, and is one on which 

Colony or in towns on the line ; m any case the wishes of the Cape 

{c) Those who have houses in Government would have to be con- 
town to which the^ could go ; suited. 

{d) Those divided from their 
children who wish to find and 
rejoin them. 

2. Free passes into all towns near 2. We understand this to be 
by for all wishing to find work already the practice in most camps, 

3. In view of the size of the camps, 3. Lord Kitchener has tel^raphed 
the sickness and mortality, a resident that ministers are resident in or near 
minister in each camp, or free*access all Refiigee Camps, and regular 
to any minister livinp; close by. services are held. 

4. That, considenng the countless 4. We believe that every care is 
difficulties ahead and the already being taken to check overcrowding, 
overcrowded state of the camps, no We cannot undertake to limit the 
fiirther women or children be brought numbers who, for military reasons, 
in. may be brought into Concentration 


5. That, considering the mass of 5. Every camp now has a trained 
the people are women and children, matron, with a lady assistant, and 
and seeing the successful oj^anisation also a qualified medical officer and 
of the matron at Port Elizabeth, superintendent, with efficient staff, 
a matron conversant with both The nurses include women selected 
languages be appointed in every from the refiigees, who receive 
camp. Many women would under- payment for their services. The 
take this voluntarily. whole staff is chosen with a special 

view to their knowledge of the Dutch 

6. That, considering the congested 6. Direful attention will be paid 
state of the line and the ever- to these points in selecting the site of 
increasing lack of fuel, any new any fresh camps. 

camp formed should be in a healthy 
spot in Cape Colony, nearer supplies 
and charitable aid. 

7. That because all the above, and 7* ^^ think it more desirable to 
much more not mentioned, including work through local committees and 
the economical distribution of cloth- persons sent out by the Government 
ing, demands much careful organisa- to act with them, and shall shortly 
tion, detailed work, and devoted send out certain persons to aid the 
attention, ^^^ access should be given committees in distributing charitable 
to a band of at least six accredited re- funds. 

presentatives of English philanthropic 
societies, who should be provided 
with permanent passes, have the 
authority of the High Commissioner 
for their work, and be responsible to 
the Government as well as to those 
they represent. Their mother -wit 
and womanly resource would set 
righ many of the existing evils. 

8. That the doctors" report on ihe 
condition of the children in Bloein- 
he called for and acted 

g. That the women whose applica- 
tions are appended be at once alloweil 
to leave the camp. They are good 
women, and Iheir health and strength 
are tailing under Ihe long si 

"All the above Recommendations have been forwardeil to 
Lord Kitchener, who will no doubt act upon them, except in any 
case where military necessity may preclude him from doing so, 
though I (3o not foresee any difSculty of that kind. Meanwhile, 
the Goyernment has accepted with pleasure a suggestion that 
funds should be raised to provide comforts in the camps beyond 
the actual necessaries which the Government can properly 
supply, and is willing — through the local committees or persons 
sent out from England by the Government, to act in co-operation 
with the local committees — to be responsible for the distribution 
of any such funds, whether intended for the Concentration 
Camps or for loyal subjects of the Crown who have suffered 
through the war. You will doubtless have seen a letter by me 
to Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton on this subject which appears in the 
press to-day. I have every hope that within the necessary 
limitations imposed by camp life ail reasonable provision will be 
found to have been already made in the Concentration Camps, 
for adequate food and the necessaries of life, with proper 
medical treatment, schools of instruction, religious ministration, 
various forms of labour, and amusements for the inmates. No 
doubt the assistance received from the funds referred to above 
will help to make the lot of those who are suffering from the 
effects of the war as comfortable as the circumstances of war 
and the difficulties of the country will permit. — Yours faithfullyj 
"St. John Brodrjck." 

Any one familiar with the Recommendations as sent to the 
War Office will observe in this reply the omission of the word 
" equally," from No z and the entire omission of the original 
No. 3. These ran ; — 

" 2. Free passes into towns for all equally wishing to find work 

" 3. Equality of treatment, whether the men of the family 
are fighting, imprisoned, dead, or surrendered." 


My reply will show that I feared that the first important 
concession would prove a dead letter unless friends were at hand 
to make it known and smooth away the difficulties, and indeed 
events have proved it to be no more than a paper concession, v^- 
Had it been acted upon, the lives of many would have been 
spared. I wrote : — 

" Dear Mr. Brodrick, — I feel greatly indebted to you for your 
letter to me containing the opinions of the Government on my 
Recommendations concerning the Concentration Camps. Every 
one will share a feeling of relief and thankfulness at hearing that 
all women coming under the four headings a, ^, c, d will be 
allowed' to go. The clause * unless there is some military 
objection ' appears to me, who have seen the complexities in the 
working of martial law, to give ground for some apprehension 
lest the above permission be rendered nugatory. I will hereafter ^ 
venture to make a suggestion on this point. I may be allowed 
to express my entire concurrence with your suggestion that the 
Cape Government should be consulted with regard to the 
question of large numbers going south to form new camps, and I 
trust that their opinion may be sought without delay. The initial 
difficulty of removal would be considerable, but it would surely 
prove of advantage in the end, especially if, as I gather from your 
reply to No. 4, there is every probability that the numbers in the 
camps will be augmented, and I know from experience that it is 
already impossible to prevent overcrowding in the existing camps, 
owing to the impossibility of obtaining enough tents so far from 
the coast. The supplies would be easier and cheaper, the line 
proportionately relieved for military use, and I cannot doubt that 
the effect universally desired, of arresting the abnormal mortality, 
would be in large measure obtained. (If the co-operation of the 
Cape Government can be obtained, I have the permission of my 
Committee to place my services at your disposal for the personal 
supervision of such a removal ; whilst the funds of the Committee 
could be usefully employed in supplementing the Government 
supplies with things necessary to women and children in such 

" With regard to Recommendation 2, 1 am fully aware that it 
is, as you have understood, already to some extent the practice in 
most camps to grant passes, *but I desired to point out, by the use 
of the word * equally ' in my first letter to you, tha^ the passes 
are at present granted or withheld for reasons not easily under- 
stood and often apparently capricious, and I would urge that the 
rule should be laid down that passes should be freely granted 


unless there were sorae clear and unmistakable i 
denying them in a. special case. 

" No. 3. With regard to ministers, what is u^ently needed is 
not so much the holding of regular services as ministrations to the 
sick and dying and the burial of the dead. These functions can 
clearly not be performed for large bodies of people by clergy 
resident in neighbouring towns in addition to their own parochial 
duty. Could not Dr, Andrew Murray's suggestion, that ministers 
from Cape Colony already British subjects should be invited to 
take up their residence in the camps, he more widely acted 
upon ? This has been already successfully arranged at Norval's 

" No. 5. 1 feat that I cannot have made plain that my suggestion 
with regard to matrons had reference to the necessity of matrons 
for the camps as well as for the hospitals. The hospital matron, 
often the only trained nurse, is fully occupied in her own sphere. 
What is needed is a lady in each camp, holding the position 
occupied by Miss Hauptfleisch at Port Elizabeth, who has 
enjoyed the entire confidence of the military, and whose womanly 
tact and power of organisation has had a success attested by all 
who have seen the camp under her control. I believe that a 
sufficient number of competent ladies, both English and Colonial, 
are at this moment forthcoming who would undertake the work 
without remuneration, so that if it were thought necessary to 
retain the present superintendents at high salaries, little if any extra 
expense would he incurred. I will further venture to make here 
the suggestion alluded to earlier, that the camp matrons should be 
authorised to act as intermediaries in cases in which women were 
applying to quit the camp, and should be allowed to investigate 
and represent the circumstances of the applicants, especially 
when any objection was felt in the first instance by the military 
authorities. In such cases that came under my notice I have 
felt sure that the military objections must have rested on a 
misunderstanding or the incompleteness of the evidence presented, 
and this might have been removed by the kind of assistance 
which might be rendered by a responsible person on the spot. 

" In respect to the distribution of charitable funds through 
the medium of the local committees (some of which I myself 
helped to set on foot, and of whose work I had considerable 
experience), I feel sure that the work will be done most 
satisfactorily if some of the persons whom you propose shall be 
sent by the Government to act with them, were persons 
nominated by the committees of the several funds raised in 
England and submitted to the Government for approval. I am 


not in a position to speak for the other funds, but with regard to 
the South African Distress Fund I am authorised to state that 
such a mode of distribution would meet the approval of the 
Committee. For obvious reasons they would not fed justified in 
delegating to others the entire responsibility of distribution. 

" In conclusion, bearing in mind the great extent of country, 
the masses of people, the gigantic responsibilities of the whole 
undertaking, the pressure of work resting on all local officials, it 
will at once be apparent to any one who has worked at this 
subject on the spot, that the successful carrying out of the 
instructions of the Government, as well as the desires of the 
English charitable public, will practically depend upon full 
facilities being accorded to a sufficient number of voluntary but 
accredited workers. — I am, etc., 

"Emily Hobhouse." 

Early in July, Lord Ripon, as acting Chairman of the Distress 
Fund, had approached the War Office with a suggestion that 
ladies should at once be sent out to the camps, and had given 
my name as one prepared to go on this mission. 

On the 9th of July the reply came — 

"... I am directed to assure you that His Majesty's 
Government view with satisfaction the readiness of various 
philanthropic associations to supply funds and give service for 
the amelioration of the condition of those suffering by the war ; 
though they would regret that such efforts should be confined 
to ^ one psut only of those who have been rendered homeless 
or penniless by the course of hostilities. But these proposals, by 
their number alone, make it impossible for the Government to 
accede to them. The Secretary of State for War has three such 
proposals before him at this moment, and it is obvious that it 
would be impossible to introduce a variety of authorities into 
camps organised and regulated by the Government" 

Thus there were three proposals to send helpers, and nearly 
40 great camps to divide them amongst, and all would have 
been willing to work under the Government; none proposed 
"to introduce a variety of authorities." The help so sorely 
needed was offered and refused. Months later it had to be sent. 

The letter proceeded — 

"The Secretary of State has every reason to believe that, 

allowing for the obvious difficulty of temporarily accommodating 

so large a population as is now congregated in the camps, all 

proper arrangements have been made for the food, clothing, 

^ The Distress Fund gave irrespective of nationality. 


medical attendance, and spiritual supervision of those in the 
camps. Schools have been established, and a properly quahfied 
matron > has been appointed in each camp. Beyond this the 
Government will shortly send out certain ladies to visit the 
camps and co-operate with the local committees ia the dis- 
tribution of comforts or gifts of money which may be entrusted 
to them." 

From this rosy description of the camps it was evident to 
me that I had failed to present the matter in its most urgent 
and serious light to Mr. Brodrick. The long delay before 
sending workers and the rise in the death-rate combined to 
make me seek and obtain a further interview with the Secretary 
of State.^ 

The conversation was confidential in character, but the 
refusal of the Government to let me return to the camps was 
reiterated, and as it was confidently expected by the pubUc in 
many parts of England that I should so return, 1 asked for and 
was promised a letter containing the Government's reasons 
for this refusal. Not having received this letter by the a6th 
July, I wrote as follows, and received an immediate reply : — 

"/»!)' 26, 1901. 

"Dear Mr. Brodrick, — When we parted on the i8th you 
promised to send me a letter giving the reasons why you could 
not allow me to return to my work in South Africa. Such a 
letter has not reached me, and I hope you will forgive me if I 
rather urgently press that it should be immediately sent. I am 
continually asked on all sides when I am going out again. It 
is generally expected I shall soon start, which is, indeed, my 
own desire. Since you have adopted, in principle, almost aU 
my recommendations, I can scarcely think any ground of 
objection can be regarded as tenable against a proposal to re- 
sume work the results of which have been accepted by yourself. 
It has occurred to me that you might say that any help on my 
part was unnecessary, because you have yourself selected certain 
ladies to visit and report upon the Concentration Camps. In 
relation to this, may I be permitted to urge that the number 
you have sent is really quite insufficient for the work entrusted 
to them, considering the largely increased number of refugees 
now found in the camps, unless they have supplementary 
assistance ; that they must spend much time and labour before 
they will have acquired the preliminary knowledge necessary for 
useful action ; and, if I may speak of myself, that ffly experience 

' It was numy months before this was done. "July i3. ) 


in the camps, my acquaintance with the^people, and to some 
extent with their language, ought to enable me, and I trust would 
enable me, to be a useful auxiliary to them in the discharge of 
their duties ? I would fain hope that the delay in sending your 
letter may mean a disposition to reconsider my appeal for leave 
to revisit the camps in South Africa, In spite of improvements 
that have been made, there is much suffering and misery still 
wanting alleviation, and I do most earnestly press you to grant 
me permission to return at the earliest possible moment to the 
work in which I have become so deeply interested. — I have, etc." 

"War OvvicE,/ufy 27, 1901. 
" Dear Miss Hobhouse, — I am sorry if there has been any 
delay in writing you a letter on the subject which, with others, 
you mentioned when I saw you on the i8th, but as I was 
forced to refer to the matter publicly in reply to questions in 
the House of Commons, I hoped I had done what was necessary 
to explain the action of the Government The only con- *. 
siderations which have guided the Government in their selection / 
of ladies to visit the Concentration Camps, beyond their special f 
capacity for such work, was that they should be, so far as is ' 
possible, removed from the suspicion of partiality to the system ■ 
adopted or the reverse. I pointed out to you that for this ; 
reason the Government had been forced to decline the services 
of ladies representing various philanthropic agencies, whose 
presence in an unofficial capacity would be a difficulty in camps 
controlled by Government organisation. It would have been^ 
impossible for the Government to accept your services in this 
capacity while declining others, the more so as your reports and 
speeches have been made the subject of so much controversy ; 
and I regret, therefore, we caiihof alFer the decision which I 
conveyed to you on the i8th instant. — Yours, etc., 

"St. John Brodrick." 

Thus the principle laid down as a guide in the choice of the 
ladies for this Commission was that " they should be removed 
from the suspicion of partiality to the system or the reverse." 
This good rule was unfortunately not followed, because two of 
the women selected had already expressed themselves with some 
warmth in the public Press. Mrs. Fawcett, who was made, 
principal of the Commission, had written a criticism of my Report, 
which was in substance a defence of the concentration system.^ 
In one phrase she had spoken of the formation of the Concen- 

^ Westminster Gazette^ July 4, 1901. / 


tration Camps as "part of the fortune of war." One wonders in 
what war Mrs. Fawcett had read of such a system, unless it was 
the Spanish action in Cuba, which was condemned by every 
civilised nation. Or did she refer to the wars of Shalmaneser 
and Nebuchadnezzar to find precedents for the wholesale up- 
rooting, capturing, deporting, imprisoning, or exiling of the whole 
□on-combatant portion of a country. In that case more wisdom 
was displayed, as we are expressly told that the husbandmen and 
poorest of the land were left to till the soil. 

Dr. Jane Waterston, on her part, was inspired by the tidings 
of English efforts to improve the camps, to write at some length 
in the Cape papers.' Here are a few of her sentences, written 
before she herself became engaged in ameliorating the camps — 

"Judging by some of the hysterical whining ^oing on in 
England at the present time, it would seem as if we might 
neglect or half starve our faithful soldiers, and keep our civilian 
population eating their hearts out here as long as we fed and 
pampered people who have not even the grace to say thank you 
for the care bestowed on them. 

" At present there is the danger that the Boers will waken up 
to have a care for their womenfolk, and will go on fighting for 
some time, so as to keep them in comfortable winter quarters at 
our expense, and thus our women and children will lose a few 
more of their husbands and fathers." 

After reading this, one wonders how Dr. Waterston could 
be so cruel to our soldiers as to accept a post on the Com- 
mission, and it is to her credit that, as we learn, she at first 
declined to serve. 

It was tragic to feel that instead of a great number of good 
nurses, and, above all, voluntary workers as camp matrons, being 
at once despatched in early June, only six ladies started' in a 

' Cape Times, July 2Z, igot, 

° The Cominission sailed without eitiet Mrs. Fawcett or her companions 
making any effort to ^ee me with a view In obtaining information, which 
might save lime, when time was all-important. Mis. Fawcett was invited 
to meet me, l>ut declined on domestic grounds, and did not delegate a 
colleague to do so. She recently stated in a. London meeting (Times, 
March 24, 1902) that she could get no help whatever from onr Committee, 
and in a subsequent letter to the Times eicused herself by saying that she 
had asked me through a relative for information in writing. It was a pity 
that she did not choose the far simpler method of approaching me diiect, 
instead of employing a medium. I never saw the letter to which she alludes, 
but the impression made by it at the time and conveyed to me, was that she 
evidently did not desire any help I might be able to give her. 


leisurely way towards the end of July, not themselves to work, v 
but to make more inquuy. 

The death-rate rose, and after the August mortality list had | 
been published,^ I made one more appeal to Mr. Brodrick, ! 
entreating immediate action. A few weeks after, the control of ' 
the camps passed into the hands of Mr. Chamberlain. ^ ' 

Open Letter. 

^^ Sept, 29, 1901. 

" Dear Mr. Brodrick, — ^Three months have passed since 
I approached you on the subject of the Concentration Camps in 
South Africa, three terrible months in the history of those camps. 
Can the appalling figures just shown in the Government returns 
for August and the preceding month pass unnoticed by the 
Government and by the great mass of the English people? 
Will you bear with me for a moment if I approach you again 
on this sad topic, and with these latest figures before us make 
one more appeal to your clemency, and through you to the 
humanity of the country? 

" If we leave for the present the coloured camps and speak 
only of the white people, the returns show that the population 
of the camps has increased gradually during June, July, and 
August from 85,000 to 105,000 souls. In the past month of 
August 1,878 deaths occurred among the whites, of which 1,545 
were children. The total number of deaths for the three months 
for which we have returns is 4,067, of which 3,245 were children. 
We have no account of the hundreds who passed away in the 
first six months of this year and part of last year. What is there 
to indicate the probability of any abatement in this fearful 
mortality? The cold winter nights are happily passing away, 
but rains are falling in many parts, and the increasing heat will 
bring sicknesses of other kinds. Scurvy has appearai. Daily 
the children are dying, and unless the rate be checked a few 
months will suffice to see the extermination of the majority. 

" Will nothing be done ? Will no prompt measures be taken 
to deal with this terrible evil? Three months ago I tried to 
place the matter strongly before you, and begged permission to 
organise immediate alleviatory measures, based on the experience 
I had acquired, in order thus to avert a mortality I had plainly 
seen was increasing. My request was refused, and thus experi- 
ence which I could not pass on to others rendered useless. 
The repulse to myself would have mattered nothing, had only a 

^ See Appendix. 



lajge band of kindly workers been instantly despatched with f 
powers to deal with each individual camp as its needs TequireoL 
The necessity was instant if innocent human lives were to \ 
saved. Instead, we had to wait a month while six ladies werol 
chosen. During that month 576 children died. The prepaiarW 
tion and journey of these ladies occupied yet another month, ( 
and in that interval 1,124 more children succumbed. In place 
of at once proceeding to the great centres of high mortality, the 
bulk of yet a third month seems to have been spent in their 
long journey to Mafeking, and in passing a few days at some of. 
the healthier camps. Meanwhile, 1,545 more children died. 
This was not immediate action ; it was very deliberate inquiry^ 
and that, too, at a time when death, which is unanswerable, waj 
at work ; nay, when the demands of death, instead of diminish-* 
ing, were increasing. Will you not now, with the thought beforS: 
you of those 3.245 children who have closed their eyes for eveP 
since last I saw you, on their behalf, will you not now take 
instant action, and endeavour thus to avert the evil results oC 
facts patent to all, and suspend further inquiry into the truth a 
what the whole world knows? 

" In the name of the httle children whom I have watched 
suffer and die, and whom I cannot for a moment forget, 1 mal 
bold to plead with you once more. In the name of our commoq 
humanity 1 urge that immediate steps may be taken by those 
qualified and empowered to act, lest one day we are bowed dowB 
.by the humiliating and grievous thought that we have sat still 
' and watched caimly the extermination of a race brave and stronf, 
enough to have kept the British Empire at bay for two long 
years. I need not recapitulate the proposals which I made t . 
you, some of which you seemed to adopt, though, alas, even 
your adoption has appeared to be powerless to secure tha 
effectual employment of the most important. I ask at least fcs 
effectual amelioration. 

"Yet is it not conceivable that we might go further? 1 
men cannot end the war. The women will not end the v 
Cannot the children help to bring about that peace which botll 
sides so earnestly desire ? Thousands have given their innoce 
lives. Thousands more are sick and Uke to die. Is it not 
enough? What the children need of proper food, clothing, and 
shelter cannot be brought to them; transport is too difficult 
supplies too scarce. They must die, die where we have placet 
them, in their hundreds and their thousands, unless the war end4 
and sets them free. 'The cry of the children' comes to us ooK 
not from our own mines and factories, but from across the seas 


Will it be heard and answered? Will not your own and every > 
parent's heart in England respond to their cry, and beat in 
sympathy with those mothers who have bravely borne the loss^ 
of homes and possessions, but stand aghast and enduringly 
resentful as they witness their children swept away ? There are 
cases where women have entered camps with eight and ten 
children, and death has claimed them all Do we want 
' unconditional surrender ' at the cost of so much child-life ? 
Is it worth the price ? For the men of either side I say nothing. 
They have chosen their part and must abide by it. For the 
women also I do not now plead; they are always strong to 
endure. But I do ask, in the name of the innocent and helpless ' 
children, that England's humanity may triumph over her policy, . 
so that the sacrifice of the children may be stayed. Is there a r 
nation that will not honour her the more ? In die earnest hope 
that you will listen to my appeal, — I have the honour to be, 
yours faithfully, Emily Hobhouse." _^ 

Appeals for relief for the camps had been periodically made 
throughout the spring by the Committee of the Distress Fund, 
and in April had appeared a letter firom Lady Maxwell, wife of 
the Military Governor of Pretoria, who appealed to the American 
public through the JVew York Herald.^ She is herself an 
American, and gave as her reason for turning to American 
charity, that England was too exhausted by other claims to 
give in this direction. We have never heard it hinted before 
that England has not money enough and to spare for destitute 
women and children, taken either willingly or unwillingly under 
her protection. Such a letter as Lady Maxwell's, coming straight 
from Pretoria, and from the wife of an officer, would, if it had 
been addressed to the English public, have reaped a harvest of 
ready subscriptions. At any rate, we who are English feel it 
was our duty as well as our privilege to provide for the health 
and comfort of these victims of the war, likely also to become 
our fellow-subjects. " It is in the name of the little children," 
she wrote, "who are living in open tents without fires, and 
possessing only the scantiest of clothes, that I ask for help." 
Lord Hobhouse's eloquent appeal had been issued simul- ^^ 
taneously in England. It was addressed, he said, "to all 
English people who have hearts to feel for the sufferings of 
fellow men and women, and to all who are thinking what 
course of action at the present moment is most likely to bring 
honour and permanent rest to our country." ^ 

^ New York fferaldy April i6, 1901. ' Speaker^ April 20, 1901. 


He went on to describe something of the conditions ( 
camp life, and touched on the mental suffering, which was a 
all times the deepest — 

"Numbers crowded into small tents : some sick, : 
dying, occasionally a dead one among them ; scanty ra 
dealt out raw ; lack of fuel to cook them ; lack of water foB 
drinking, for cooking, for washing ; lack of soap, brashes. 
Other instruments of personal cleanliness ; lack of bedding or o 
beds to keep the body off the bare earth ; lack of clothing fi 
warmth, and in many cases even for decency; no needles or 
thread to mend tatters ; shelter only in tents of single canvas, 
now scorched by a very hot sun, and now drenched by rain, 
and very slender appliances to meet the maladies consequent 
on such exposure. 

" We do not dwell on wounded feelings, the anguish of 
separation, the despair of watching the children, unable to 
help while they waste away. These are griefs which money 
can alleviate but little. But every kind of physical affliction 
seems to be accumulated in these camps, or at least in some of 
them, containing thousands of people : hunger, thirst, naked- 
ness, weariness, dirt, disease ; and money judiciously applied 
may alleviate these things. 

"We add that our proposal is to give help wherever sufferings 
and a chance of alleviating them are found ; all without reference 
to the national character of the recipients." 

About the end of June another group of people became at 
last aware of the want which had been so long distressing the 
women and children in South African camps, and a new fund 
was formed under the auspices of the Victoria League.' This' 
fund, like the South African Women arid "Children's DistresB: 
Fund which had been so long at work, was non-political i 
intention, though not sufficiently withdrawn from partisanship 
to work in concert with the existing Committee. Some ( " 
those instrumental in forming this fresh fund had been asked! 
but had refused to join the Committee which had pioneered, 
the work of relief. They also received the approbation of thS 
Government, and their collection was administered by the Com- 
mission, the members composing which were some weeks after 
announced by Mr. Brodrick. 

The Committee of the Distress Fund, anxious to add tt* 

their resources by a wider dissemination of facts, arranged to- 

hold a meeting for that purpose in the Queen's Hall, Langham 

' Times, June 25, 1901. 


Place, wha!e I could plead the cause of the sufferers in the 
camps. The Bishop of Hereford promised to preside. During 
the voyage home I had had some conversation with Lord Milner 
with regard to permission either for myself or for other women 
to go to the camps, and he had promised me a speedy decision. 
As this had not reached me, I wrote,^ with the sanction of the 
Committee, to tell him of the proposed meeting, adding that it 
would give great satisfaction if he could enable me to announce 
to the audience that we had his permission to bear their gifts to 
the destitute people. A fortnight later, the day of the proposed 
meeting, the reply came,^ saying that the matter having now 
passed into the hands of the Government, it would be better 
to learn from them direct what decision had been arrived at 
Feeling the delay serious, I wrote again to Lord Milner, begging 
no more time might be lost if the dying children were to be 
saved. The arrangements for the projected meeting in the 
Queen's HaU had continued, the hall was hired and the meeting 
advertised. Suddenly, three days before the appointed time, 
the lessee of the hall, Mr. Robert Newman, withdrew his 
consent, breaking the contract The excuse offered was that 
a political meeting had been held by other people in his 
hall during the previous week, and some roughs, outsiders 
not connected with the meeting, had made a disturbance; 
therefore Mr. Newman suddenly resolved to refuse the hall for 
a philanthropic meeting with a bishop in the chair. The 
secretary of the Committee had been making final arrangements 
with the lessee on the Saturday morning, and in the afternoon 
received word of this change of mind. The expenses incurred 
in advertising the meeting on the strength of Mr. Newman's 
agreement were never made good. The minister of Westminster 
Chapel, hearing of this incident, offered the use of his large 
church, and pkms were in train for holding the meeting there. 
But the timidity which possessed the metropolitan police and 
Mr. Newman infected four out of the six deacons of this chapel, 
and neither would they allow a cause to be publicly pleaded, 
funds for which had the open sanction of the Government.' 
The meeting was perforce abandoned, and the Bishop of 
Hereford sent the following letter to the Times : — 

'*/une 24. 

" Sir, — As the meeting on behalf of the South African Women 
and Children's Distress Fund, at which I had promised to preside 
to-night, has been unavoidably postponed, I desire to appeal to 
your readers for subscriptions to the fund. 

* June 7. • June 24. 



"Every humane person who reads Miss Hobhouse's report, 
must feel a desire to alleviate the misery described, and nould 
be sorry if what has occurred should stop the supplies which Miss' 
Hobhouse and her friends have been using so well and so kindly.' 
" While making this appeal, and to avoid misunderstanding, 
I dusire to add that the proposed meeting was not intended to 
be in any sense a political or party meeting. 

"The object of its promoters was purely philanthropic and 
, charitable. Their work is a work of mercy. Lord Roberts 
J might take the chair at such a meeting, and it would accord 
\ with his well-known kindness to do so, Lord Milner could do 
I no better service in the cause of peace and goodwill between 
Dutch and English in South Africa than to preside at one of 
Miss Hobhouse's meetings. 

" It is a comparatively new phenomenon in English life for 
such meetings to be rendered dangerous or impossible by a 
portion of the Press and the lawless and brutal element in the 
community. Let us hope, for our national credit's sake, that 
it may soon disappear. 

"The natural instinct of the English people is to give very 
generously in relief of such a pitiable lot as that of those poor 
women and children, and I hope the fountain of charity may 
flow freely on this occasion ; for those who give to this good 
work will not only be joining in a work of mercy and Christian 
benevolence, but will also be helping to sow in the hearts of 
the sufferers seeds of pity and loving-kindness which can hardly 
fail sooner or later to bear good fruit and to come back to us in 
grateful memories and consequent goodwill." ^ 

Unable for the moment to help the cause in any other way 
than by the collection of money, I proceeded to accept invitations 
to address meetings of a non-party character for that purpose; 
Owing to the interest awakened by the issue of my Report, these 
invitations were numerous ; but evil communications corrupt 
good manners, and the example set in London by Mr. Newman 
and the four deacons spread to the provinces, and several hall« 
already engaged shut their doors at my approach. These meet- 
ings, at which I appealed only to the sympathy and humanity trf 
my audience, aroused in a certain section of the Press and the 
people a most intolerant resistance. Various facts which came to 
ray knowledge combined to show that the opposition to my 
lectures was not spontaneous, but oiganised by people who did 
not appear. In several places the police allowed themselves to 
' Tiiiu!, June 25, 1901. 


be made the instruments of this opposition, affecting fear that they 
would not be able to keep order. The spectacle of the Press and 
police force of the country affecting alarm at the quiet gatherings 
in which I described suffering women and sick children would 
have been ludicrous, had it not been the outward sign of an 
inward intolerance, inhumanity and pseudo-patriotism, lament- 
able to all who hold their country's true honour and dignity at 
heart. The Society of Friends, whose ears are always open to I 
the cry of the distressed, came to my assistance, and offered the j 
use of their meeting-houses. Having no intention of abandoning \ 
my projected tour because of this foolish agitation, I publicly 
stated that the more I was opposed the more determinate^ I 
should continue to carry out my plans, and it would be for the 
benefit of the agitators to desist from further interference. This, 
combined with the fact that those from whom it is probable the 
opposition emanated began to see that the agitation was ridiculous, 
and merely served as an advertisement, had its effect, and I 
proceeded quietly with my work. I spoke at forty, public meetings 
in the course of the summer, and with three exceptions every 
one was peaceful and orderly. Cheltenham excepted, a deep 
interest was evinced in each place, and marked enthusiasm in 
some towns. The three disturbed meetings were Bristol, New i 
Southgate, and Darlington. At Darlington the audience itself 
was large and orderly, the disturbance being entirely due to 
some ten roughs who sat together under a leader, evidently 
engaged to obstruct by singing songs the whole evening. The 
meeting reassembled in a private house next day. Bristol and 
New Southgate were attended by a good many rowdies, who 
made quiet presentation of the subject impossible, and were 
unamenable to reason. They deemed it patriotic to end their 
proceedings by throwing sticks and stones, with more injury to ^ 
themselves than to me. 

Efforts to nullify the effect of my story, lest public sentiment 
should be aroused, took two forms, viz. criticism of myself and 
justification of the camps. I was labelled " political agitator," 
a " disseminator of inaccurate and blood-curdling stories." ^ A 
discredited South African wrote insinuating that my mission 
had been a political propaganda.^ My Report was described as 
a " weapon " * used " wherever the name of England was hated." 
I was " deficient as an investigator," and had not the competence 
to compile " charges against us." * This last remark brings to 

* Times, June 19, 1901. 

* Hansard, vol. xc. p. 1 543 ; Daily News, June 27 ; Times, June 25. 

* Times^ Aug. 27. * Und, Aug. 27. 


mind a similar fault found with Mr. Gurdett-Coutts, During S 
debate on the Hospitals Coaimission, he said — 

"I consider it an attack upon my motives to convert th* 
Statement of facts I made into an attack upon Lord Roberts. 
(Opposition cheers.) 

" Mr. Balfour : You did criticise somebody, and who that 
person can be if not the responsible officer we have been unablft 
to discover. 

" Mr. BURDETT-COOTTS : I critised nobody ; I criticised a 
state of things. (Opposition cheers.) 

" Mr. Balfour : There is no such thing as criticising a state 
of things. (Ixiud cries of Oh ! oh ! ') You may describe a slate 
of things, but not criticise it. (Cries of ' Oh ! ' and Opposition 

" Mr. BuRDETT-CouTTS : I am extremely sorry to interrapt 
E^ain, but I ask the right honourable gentleman in what words, 
where, and when I criticised any person and who that person was. 
(Opposition cheers.) 

" Mr. Balfour replied that the honourable gentleman's 
criticisms were of a vague and obscure character. (Oppositi' 
laughter, and cries of: "Then why appoint a Commission?") 

Finally I was "hysterical" and put "implicit belief" in all 
that was told me.^ Mr. Conan Doyle has gone still further on this 
point, distinctly saying, in misquotation of words used at Derby by 
my liiend and cousin Mr. Charles Hobhouse, that " some of my 
statements would not bear examination."^ Mr. Doyle's attention 
was repeatedly called to this error, which had gone out into thi 
world in a quarter of a million copies, but he let months elapstT 
before making any public withdrawal of his words, and then did 
BO in such scant fashion that I am obliged Co make the correction 
myself. Drawing my cousin's attention to the misrepresentatioi 
of his words at Derby, I received the following reply, which hi 
gave me leave to publish. I do so with my answer — 

Letter from Mr, Charles Hobhouse, M.P. 
"I had already seen the reference in Dr. Conan Doyle's book 
to which you allude. I wrote to him pointing out that I was in 
no position to admit that some of your statements would not 
bear examination, that I had never slated anything of the kind^ 
and that as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of your Report I could 
say nothing because I did not know. 


" The meaning of my words at Derby was clear to myself if not 
to others. Your Report purports to be a careful review not only 
of the state of the Concentration Camps, but also of the condi- 
tions under which persons were brought into those camps. The 
extracts which you give from statements made to you impugn 
not only the want of foresight by the authorities, but the 
individual humanity of officers and soldiers ordered to carry out 
what was, I believe, an uncongenial task. If such accusations are to 
be made at all, and are, moreover, to carry conviction to those who 
can only judge of events at second-hand, I am strongly of opinion 
that they should only be made upon the evidence of persons 
whose names are given in full, and whose assertions are verified 
and corroborated by others, and not upon the ex-parte statements 
of people whose identity is veiled behind initials and blanks." 

From this it is plain that Mr. Hobhouse did not say " my 
statements would not bear examination," ^ but that he wished 
other people's statements made to me could have been examined. 
This I also wish and hope it will one day be done. I replied to 
him as follows : — 

" My dear Cousin, — I am much obliged for your letter. I 
now understand that by an unverified statement you mean one 
taken down from the lips of one or more eye-witnesses, and 
published precisely as taJcen. If you had made this clear in 
your speech (at Derby), I think you would have avoided some 
misunderstanding. On p. 36 of my Report I particularly 
mention that the individual name of the person making the 
statement is in each case known to me and the Committee. 
I have withheld the names of these witnesses for reasons which 
will be apparent to all who have lived under martial law. You 
will have noticed that the name of the farm is given in each case. 
It was an essential part of my work with a view to relief to clear 
up the question whether the women came into the camps 
voluntarily or otherwise. This could only be determined by 
their own narratives, and if the narratives were to be given at 
all, they had to be given word for word as received. I may 
remark that for your private information I am willing to give 
you any name you may desire, but without the consent of the 
women concerned I cannot at present make them public. 

" In investigation work, when a number of people from wholly 
different places and quite independently of each other make 
statements which are found to be in agreement on certain main 

^ Vide Dr. Doyle, now Sir A. Conan Doyle. 
10 ^^ 

points, such statements are, I believe, looked upon as in a 
sense corrobative evidence. . . . Perhaps a stronger testimony 
is offered by letters and books written by soldiers, and accounts 
given me in South Africa by soldiers themselves were the strongest 
of all. Naturally, amongst so many men, characters and manners 
varied infinitely. I quite agree that cousinly considerations 
should not interfere with one's public work, but Dr. Doyle's 
grave misrepresentation of your words, which I had previously 
determined to ignore, has made it necessary to defend myself 
in the interests of my cause." 

The existence of the camps was justified by sundry reasons 
self-contradictory in nature,'— e,^. " The camps are an absolute 
military necessity";^ ag^-'^i "We have voluntarily and out of 
humanity gone out of our way to undertake certain obligations 
in regard to the families of our foes." Later, it was asserted 
that they were formed as reprisals. The mortality was explained 
as due to the habits of the Boer women, and their inferiority 
as careful mothers.^ Attempt was also made to minimise It by 

' Since peace was prQclaimcd, reasons for the camps have been more folly 
dwelt upon by the Tirnti special correspondent (Tiwii, July IZ, 1902) .- — 

" Lord Kitchener's first intention undoubtedly was definitely to cleai the 
country of slock and inhabitants by mobile columns operating from Ibe tail- 
way. The impression generally prevailed in South Africa, that the Boers, 
on account of their pioveibial domesticity, could not long endure separation 
from their wives and families. 

" Also for military reasons it was necessary to remove the occupants from 
their farms. . . . We had promised ptolection to such buighers as sur- 
rendered and retnmed to their estates — a promise which ought never to have 
been made, and which, in but few instances, could be fulfilled. . . . Partly 
lo meet the apparent breach of faith to the sunendered burghers, consequent 
upon the withdrawal from the occupation of oudying townships, and in the 
main to further the ' clearance ' scheme, the Concentration Camps organisation 
was conceived. It is possible that the conception of the Concentration 
Camps and the inordinate haste in which Lord Kitchener pushed hurriedly- 
recruited mounted troops into the field, arc the only two serious blots upon 
the handling of a campaign fraught with difficulties. . . . The fonnation of 
the Concentration C^mps did not bring about the desired results. In fact it 
rather increased the difficulties of the situation. The undesired interference 
of inquisitive and notoriety-seeking persona brought the Concentration Camps 
into public notice, so that they became a lever in the Pro-Boer campaign al 
borne and on the Continent, which has been the most nauseating circumstance 
of the whole war. But that was a lesser evil in comparison with the effect 
which the camps had upon the mititaiy situation. The scheme, lakich zeai 
tUsigiud te bring fressun upon the Boers in the field, instead of goading them 
into lurratder, was welcomed by them as a means by which lo rid themselves 
of imped imenta'" 

On p. I02 it is shown that the Boers sent no families into the British 
lines Mcept those of surrendered burghers. — E. H. 

* Tiiae!, Aug. 30. ' Times, June so and July 20. 


proof that the normal death-rate in South Africa was high and 
the population consequently slow in increasing. 

Mr. Letherby of Plymouth contributed a letter on the death- 
rate in the Cape Colony village of Middelburg ^ (which has no 
connection with the camp of that name). Others writing in the 
same strain induced a leading article from the Times full of 
unverified and ill-digested facts — 

"The death-rates in the camps look enormous to people 
accustomed to the rates obtaining in English towns. But heavy 
as they are, they are not enormous judged by South African 
peace standards, for our correspondent mentions that the rate in 
Middelburg, Cape Colony, before the war was 150 per 1,000. 
He also observes that the increase in the popiilation of the 
Orange Free State between 1896 and 1900 was only ii per 1,000 
per annum, and this among a proverbially prolific race. Obvi- 
ously the normal death-rate must have been appalling, judged by 
English standards."^ 

Mr. Brailsford's answer^ to this muddle of figures and facts 
was complete — 

'^ You suggest that a death-rate which seems high, if judged 
by English standards, would not appear so by 'South African 
peace standards.' 

'* I find that the death-rate among the European population 
of Cape Colony has varied during die period 1896-98 from a 
fraction over 15 to a fraction over 16 per 1,000. As the English 
rate is a fraction over 19, it seems dear that there is no such 
contrast between English and South African standards as you 

"You further cite the increase of the Free State population 
between 1896 and 1900. The reference in your correspondent's 
letter is to 1886 and 1890, and the figures in the leading article 
appear there, no doubt, by an oversight How your corre- 
spondent obtained his figures I do not know, as the census in 
the Free State is taken decennially. The white population in 
1880 was 61,022, in 1890 it was 77,716. There was, therefore, 
an annual increase per 1,000 of 27*4, which is, I think, more 
than three times the rate in the United Kingdom. How your 
correspondent reached his figure 11, I am at a loss to guess." 

Mr. Brailsford goes on to show that the mortality of Middel- 
burg in 1899 brought forward by Mr. Letherby was so exceptional 
that a special report on it was presented to Parliament. The 
population there, which consists largely of English consumptives 

^ Times, Sept. i6. ' TimeSy Oct. 19, 1901. — Leading article. 

' Times^ Oct. 25, and Morning Leader, Oct. 24, IQOI* 

and natives officially described as dirty, filthy, and lazy, was 
1,666 persons, and there were 125 deaths in the year, giving a 
death-rate of about 75, not 150. The normal death-rate in 
South Africa (something over 15) appears to be lower than that 
of the United Kingdom. In relation to this, a doctor who has 
long practised in the Free State, told me recently that he thought 
it would be quite easy to get a return of the deaths in thai 
country when the war is over. Deaths were not formally 
registered, but each little town had its one undertaker — the town 
of Bloemfontein possessing two. They did all the necessary 
business, and their books and those of the practising doctors would 
give all deaths and the information needed to compile returns, 

During the summer white papers were issued which showed 
the rapid increase of the mortality. Yet in the midst of this a 
telegram from Lord Kitchener was published, which said — 

" Goold-Adams has made tour of inspection Refugee Camps, 
Orange River Colony, and reports people well looked after and 
completely satisfied with all we are doing for them." ' 

It was constantly affirmed that the people were thus "com- 
pletely satisfied," and this was relied upon by men who do not 
seem to have made any effort to understand their attitude, 
Mr. Chamberlain dwelt upon it in his speech of August 14.^ 
He said, too, that the women could all escape if they wished 
to do so, and the fact that they did not do so (with perhaps half 
a dozen young children) was proof, iil his opinion, that they had 
no complaint. Evidently Mr. Chamberlain has never known 
what it is to be shut up, as many of these people were, in an 
enclosure of barbed wire S feet high — curiously enlaced, nor to 
find himself ringed by armed sentries and military camps. In 
spite of these preventions, women in some camps did escape with 
the help and connivance of soft-hearted English soldiers, who 
often objected to being the armed guardians of women and 
children. On the same occasion Mr. Chamberlain alluded to 
the su^estion of the Natal ministers, of chafing the maintenance 
of the Boer families to the fighting burghers.^ As was revealed 
in an earlier chapter, subordinate officials had already made this 
idea familiar to the women of Pietermaritzbui^ in the matter of 
clothing. Mr, Chamberlain limited the proposal to a charge 
only upon those to whom the families belonged. 

In September public opinion on the camps was further 

' Lord Kiichenct 10 Secretaiy of War, Aug. 3. See Morning Leadirt 
Aug. 6, 190:. 
' See Timei, Aug. 15, 1901. ° Part I. chap. ij. p. 70, 


consoled by an account of an inspection of Middelburg by the 
burgher Lieutenant Malan,^ a young unmarried officer in the 
artillery. This was permitted by General Blood, and Malan was 
said to be " agreeably surprised," " satisfied," " finding the people 
content." In his despatch Lord Kitchener alluded to this visit 
in the plural, as if Malan had visited several camps. It was, 
however, only Middelburg. Judgment must be reserved until 
we have seen Malan's own signed account of this visit From""* 
the manner in which the Ttmes has transformed my own opinions, j 
I should hesitate to accept as accurate any one else's presented t 
in its pages. Supposing, however, Malan's opinion is correctly J 
given, what does it prove ? It was said this fighting Boer's verdict 
would be worth more than any report drafted by a commission 
sent from England.^ We ought then to tear up the report of the 
Ladies' Commission on that camp, and condemn them for 
dismissing its superintendent In the face of the death-roll of 
those weeks at Middelburg Camp — of the various accounts of it 
in the Blue Books — of many a woman's letter received from 
there — Lieutenant Malan's reported opinion is of little worth. 
He may be a good soldier, but is evidently a bad investigator. 
Possibly he ju^ed from the superficial aspect of the camp, as 
many, Dutch and English, have done before him, notably the 
2%'mes special correspondent and sundry members of the 
^jQEien's^ .Lpxal Guild ; but that the women did not, as 
asserted, complain to him is no criterion that they had nothing 
to complain of. I do not know the Boer woman who would by 
complaints of her own sufferings weaken the arm of her country- 
men in the field, while I do know that women of all nations can, \ 
if they choose, easily deceive a man about what they personally J 

The arrival of my Report in South Africa, and the news of 
the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, occasioned an 
outburst of the most "loyal" Colonial opinion. Owing to 
martial law, opinion could only be expressed by one party, with 
one or two vdiant exceptions. Dr. Jane Waterston's long letter 
of indignation has been alluded to. Mr. Victor Sampson, M.L. A., 
and Colonel Harris describe how they walked up to Kimberley 
Camp one afternoon * and found everything satisfactory, all the 
children plump and well fed.* Yet in July, 59 died out of 3,624 ® 

* Times, Sept 13. Seep. iii. ' Times, Sept 13, 1901. 

' Since writing the above, I have heard that the medical inspection asked 
for by the Boers was distinctly refused by Lord Kitchener, and that Malan's 
visit was not authoritative. Happening to come in with despatches, he was 
conducted bv General Blood through the camp. 

* July 28, * TimeSf Aug. 27, 1901. • Cd. 819, p. 209. 


persons, and in August 163 out of 3,701 ' in that camp. Canon 
Orford writes from Bloemfontein that " the families of those 
fighting us are being better fed and cared for than our own 
people." A batch of letters were published by Mrs. K. H. R. 
. Stuart, chiefly from members of the Guild of women she represents.* 
Most of the writers had not seen a camp, and the others had 
only paid a passing visit if one happened to be near at hand. 
The upshot of their remarks is, that if the women in the camps 
are not very comfortable they ought to be. They show also a 
tendency to rash into comparison of the camp prisoners with 
those loyalist refugees who came south early in the war. If the 
Committees who distributed relief to this set of war victims 
allowed them to want they are surely to blame, but Chat is no 
reason why another class of war victims should also be neglected. 
It was a surprise to me to learn that any of these loyalist 
refugees were still in want, when so large a sum as ;£240,ooo 
had been expended on their behalf. I had therefore determined 
on my second visit to South Africa to investigate their needs in 
the coast towns side by side with those of destitute exiles de- 
ported from the north. The result will he remembered. I was 
prevented from even landing at Cape Town, and forced to make 
the return voyage when physically unfit, in a way greatly to the 
discredit of those official servants of the country who conceived 
the plan and carried it into practice. Mrs. Stuart published 
morelettersas "protests" against my "misleading Report."^ Does 
. she consider the whole group of Blue Books also misleading, and 
. will she continue to protest? The Cape year ended with the 
self-congratulations of the Cape Times, based on some Christmas 
amusements wisely prepared for the children in the camps — 

" It is a consoling thought at this festival of the Christian 
year, that no war that was ever waged has been so tempered and 
civilised by the influence of Christian sentiment, as this in South 
Africa. The British people is supporting at this moment, in all 
the comfort that can possibly be extended to them, 120,000 of 
the helpless dependents of our enemies. We are glad to know 
that Christmas time is not to be allowed to pass in the Concentra- 
tion Camps without some effort at a suitable celebration. The 
superintendents of all these camps are authorised to incur some 
expense for this object. Sports, Christmas trees, and treats of 
all kinds are being arranged, and everybody will wish these 
people as merry a Christmas as is possible under the circum- 
stances, Next Christmas, let us hope, they will all be restored 

' Cd. 819, p. 292. ' Timis, Aug. 20. 

^ Times, Sept. 7, 1901. 


to their homes, with memories not altogether unpleasant of their 
prolonged Feast of Tabernacles." ^ 

Section B 

Turning from the comfortable assurances of the Times znd the 
anger of Cape Colonists, we find expression freely given to many 
weightier views on the camps both on one side and the other, 
only a few of which can be cited. 

^^ Lord Hugh. Cecil's letter to the Times,^ which that oi^an 
eulogised as "vigorous and entertaining," is a plea for the 
justness and rightness of their existence, and seems to be called 
out by Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman's well-known phrase 
"methods of barbarism." "Since the Generals think so, we 
must take it," argues Lord Hugh, "that these measures are 
military necessities. This raises the issue, however necessary, 
can they be justified? Are they not morally intolerable for 
whatsoever purpose they are taken ? If any one has his misgivings 
on this point, let me ask him to consider a single argument. 
Would not all the suffering involved in devastating and concen- 
trating be considered quite allowable if inflicted not on dwellers 
in the open, but on the inhabitants of a besieged town ? . . . 
Morality cannot depend upon fortifications. . . . But the 
example of a siege plainly shows that all that has been done and 
very much more — ^is justifiable if it be necessary to achieve the 
object of the campaign. And that it is necessary we must accept 
on the authority of the best military advice at our disposal." 

~y Lord Crewe at once replied to this,^ "as far as Lord Hugh 
Cecil argues it seriously." " Lord Hugh's propositions are two — 
first, that responsibility rests in the main not on the Government, 
but on the military commanders; and, secondly, that suffering 
undergone in one of these camps may properly be compared 
with the hardships endured in a besieged fortress. He regards 
the conditions as strictly analogous if not identical . . . Lord 
Hugh seems to ignore the essential fact that the difference is 
dot between fortifications and no fortifications, but between the 
results involved by active resistance on the one hand and passive 
submission on the other. A scheme of defence applied to a 
particular place . . . will involve certain consequences, familiar 
since war has existed, upon non-combatants who remain there. 
Similarly, if a farmhouse on the veld is held by armed Boers, 
women and children who are there must take their chance of 

* Cape Times, Dec. 25, 1901, 'June 24, 1901. 

• Times, June 26. 


being shot, or of having nothing to eat so long as resistance 
lasts. ... In the one case it is impossible to distinguish parts 
played by individuals in maintaining the resistance, except by 
showing respect to the Geneva Flag ; in the other case there is 
no resistance, and the 'devastation and concentration' are the 
acts of a Stronger Power alone. These people are in fact . , . 
'prisoners in Refugee Camps,' and they have a claim to be 
treated with the consideration due to prisoners at any rate. In 
fact, Lord Hugh's fallacy, like so many of its kind, breaks down 
by proving too much. He would be the last to suggest that 
these women and children ought to undergo the privations of 
most sieges. 

"The other argument which fixes responsibility on the 
Generals is an old friend. ... It is not courageous . . . but a 
pusillanimous plea may be technically sound. This plea, how- 
ever, is not even thus sound. Those who abhor the method 
entirely will condemn the Government only ; but let it be granted 
that 'devastation and concentration' may in extreme cases be 
admissible military acts. I say "in extreme cases," because the 
method is new, risky, and open to grave abuse; but I am wilting 
to admit the possibility. Now there are three stages in the 
business — devastation, deportation, and detention. In the case 
of each cleared district these three may be humanely carried out, 
so far as humanity is possible ; or there may be shortcomings, 
with a ghastly result, in any or all of them. Can it be conceived 
that a commander-in-chief, holding the tangled skein of enormous 
operations, can supervise in person the triple process in each 
case? Of course not. Public opinion will not so burden Lord 
Kitchener, but it certainly will lay heavy responsibility on the 
Government for any proved failure to meet the plain needs of 
the case. The whole question, indeed, is one of degree. A 
proved military exigency — its results foreseen, its processes 
carried through with every possible precaution — such is the case 
the Government has to make for itself. It may be right to suspend 
judgment until all the facts are known ; personally, I think it is. 

"The real mischief, however, of such a contention as Lord 
Hugh's is the unintended encouragement it gives to a certain 
sinister sentiment, which can be traced between the lines of not 
a few articles, public letters, and speeches nowadays. The war 
is terribly costly and tedious, it is whispered ; let us finish it as 
best we can, and not ask too many questions about the means. 
Even the mortality in Concentration Camps may (under Provi- 
dence) have its use, by convincing the Boers of the futility of 
further resistance. To Lord Hugh himself such pernicious 


views would, of course, be absolutely abhorrent They would 
be equally odious to Lord Milner and to Lord Kitchener, in 
whose humanity the country at large has complete confidence. 
It is all the more to be regretted that Lord Hugh Cecil's unfor- 
tunate letter should be open to a misinterpretation which nobody 
would deplore more entirely than he himself." 

Speaking at Southampton early in July, Sir Henry Campbell 
Bannerman put the subject strongly before the country on the 
grounds of humanity, morality, and policy. He reiterated boldly 
the phrase " methods of barbarism." He said — 

" I wish to say a few words on some of the methods pursued 
in the conduct of the war. I take strong exception to those 
measures. I do so not merely on the grounds of humanity and 
morality, but on the ground of policy, because our objects being 
what I have described them to be, namely, to bring the war to 
an early close, and establish good relations and kindly feelings 
after the war, these practices seem to me to be specially designed 
to defeat both these objects. I have called them methods of 
barbarism. So they are. . . . Between 60,000 and 70,000 
women and tender children are imprisoned in camps, huddled 
together in tents under blazing sun and icy winter winds. Every- 
thing has been done by the Commandants of these camps that 
was in their power to modify the hardship of existence, but such 
has been the want of proper food and other necessaries, and 
such the dangers, that the average death-rate over all the camps 
has been 116 in the thousand. I do not know what the death- 
rate in Southampton is, say 13 or 14, and in these camps it is 
n6. The deati-rate is an unerring test which knows nothing 
of prejudice or sentiment." ^ 

Sir Henry was supported not only by Liberal politicians, but 
by many of the ablest thinkers of the country, some of whom 
wrote or spoke from time to time. Mr. Frederic Harrison 
lectured and wrote indefatigably, Mr. William Watson and Mr. 
Herbert Spencer were not silent. 

> Mr. Goldwin Smith wrote : ^ " Things are being done which 
may bring a lasting stain upon the honour of the country. . . . 
The Boers were regular belligerents. What right have we now to 
veer round and treat them as rebels, deport them to Ceylon, bum 
their farms, and turn their women and children out to starve ? " 

No opinions carried so much weight, and none were more 
striking, than those of the veteran soldier, Field-Marshal Sir 
Neville Chamberlain. Mr. Herbert Spencer has told in his latest 
*^ * Times^ July 3. * Manchesicr Guardian, 


book • the difficulty which Sir Neville Chamberlain had in getting ' 
his opinions made public, how the Daily Chroniclt delayed and , 
demurred ; and he has himself complained to me how, after his 
letter was published by the Manchester Guardian, the rest of 
the Press boycotted all allusion to it. Vet few opinions on the 
miUtary side could have more value. 

"The necessity," he wrote,^ "has never been made clear to 
the nation to justify a departure from the recognised laws of \ 
international warfare. I mean the frequent injudicious if not 
reckless burning or sacking of farmsteads or homes of the Boers, 
the removal or destruction of the food stored in their houses for 
the maintenance of their families, the sweeping away of all cattle 
and sheep, the destruction of mills and implements of agricuhure, 
as also the forcible removal into camps of ail the women and 
children, and there being kept in bondage. I do not wish to 
imply that extreme measures are never justified during war, but 
I do assert Chat the daily reports which have appeared in the 
Press during the past seven or eight months indicate that a great 
wave of destruction has been spread over the Orange and Vaal 
States, such as has never before been enacted by our armies. . . . 
In times past British Generals have earned an honourable repute 
for moderation and humanity in their dealings with the people 
of the country in which they had to operate, and the history of 
our nation tells us that war can be carried on with safety to the 
troops and with brilliant success without resorting to methods of 
oppression, and the more especially against the families of the 
combatants and non-combatants. . . . The conditions and the 
suffering of which Miss Hobhouse assures us she was a witness 
ought to be enough to make it impossible for them ever to be 
repeated. It surely can never become a recognised episode in 
war for wives to be forcibly lorn from their homes and to know 
not what had become of their children ; for women about to 
become mothers to be forced into railway trucks and to have to 
travel tedious journeys and then remain in camp devoid of the 
comforts needed for maternity; for women and children to be 
sent to live in bare tents, and often exposed to sleeping on the 
bare ground or to be drenched under leaky tents ; or for mothers 
to see their little ones dwindle and die for the want of suitable 
nourishment. , . , What would be the indignation in the United 
Kingdom if anything approaching to such miseries were enacted 
by an invading army in our own country, where even the nests of 
the birds are under the protection of the law ? Admitted that 
measures have lately been taken to remedy many of the evils 
' Fact! and Cammfnli. ' Mamhtslf Gtiardian, Aug. 5, 1901. 


that formerly beset the Concentration Camps, still the suffering 
and the indignity have had to be endured and cannot now be 
whitewashed. . . . Finally, let me add that wh^n the war is 
ended, the nation will, I believe, be made to realise the truth of 
the saying of Sir Philip Sidney — ' Cruelty in war buyeth conquest . 
at the dearest price.' " 

A few weeks later, Sir Neville Chamberlain was again con- 
strained to express his view. 

The Swiss Branch of the Evangelical Alliance had issued an 
appeal on the subject of the war to the Christians of Great 
Britain. It appeared to them that unnecessary suffering was 
being meted out to innocent people. To this appeal the Bishop 
of Liverpool replied on behalJf of the Evangelical Church. Dr. 
Chavasse spoke through the medium of the Record^ and 
expressed "distress" and "dismay" at the charges they had 
formulated, but acknowledged that if they were true. Great 
Britain would deserve the condemnation of the civilised world.^ 

" That our Government have made mistakes we admit, but 
that we have been inhuman, oppressive, and unrighteous, we '^ 
emphatically and indignantly deny. . . . Terrible as the farm 
burning has been, it was only ordered when absolutely necessary 
by a British General whose character for humanity and godliness 
is beyond dispute." " The Boer women and children," continued 
the Bishop, " were crowded into camps because they could not 
be kept alive in any other way. Their own friends could not 
help them, and starvation stared them in the face. No doubt 
they have suffered hardships, but so have our own soldiers and 
civilians. No doubt the death-rate in the Concentration Camps 
has been lamentably high, especially among children, but so has 
it been in our own camps amongst strong, seasoned men. . . . 
The best answer to your unhappy charge of cruelty to women 
and children is that the Boers themselves sent their families for 
protection to British territory, and that Mr. Kruger left his wife 
behind in Pretoria under British rule.* . . . The great mass of i 
Evangelical Christians," the Bishop was sure, "would support * 
the Government policy, because it involves the complete civilisa- 
tion of South Africa and the evangelisation of the native races." ^ 

Dr. Chavasse concluded by saying he felt sure the Swiss 
Alliance had acted on " seriously defective information." 

^ Aug. 19, 1901. See Manchester Guardian^ Aug. 22, 1901. 

*Dr. Chavasse omits to state that this was only done by "surrendered" 
Boers, whose families had special facilities. Mrs. Klruger remained in her 
own house, not in a camp. These had not then been thought of. 

' The Bishop may be unaware of the Dutch activity in missions to the 
coloured races. 

* - 



It was to this letter of the Bishop of Liverpool that Sir 
Neville Chamberlain, with his wide knowledge of miiitaTy affairs, 
replied in words which perhaps few people in the country have 
yet had an opportunity of reading — 

" ' He (a Commander) is held responsible to his own nation 
for conforming to the dictates of humanity, and further, any 
departure therefrom deserves, in the words of Dr. Chavasse, 
. the condemnation of the civilised world. The right reverend 
prelate emphatically and indignantly denies that any measures 
taken during the war have been 'inhuman, oppressive, and 
unrighteous.' I am unable to concur in that conclusion- . . . 
We have the assurance of Dr. Chavasse that he read the appeal 
of the Swiss Alliance with 'distress and dismay.' What then 
must have been the distress and dismay of the simple Swiss 
Protestant ministers to discover that a prelate of the Church of 
England could view as unavoidable the horrors that had already 
devastated and are still devastating the two Boer States? 
Never before has anything approaching to such wholesale 
destruction or abduction of families been enacted by a British 
army. . . . The existence of Concentration Camps is justified 
by the reverend prelate on the plea that starvation stared the 
women and children in the face. It was so because their homes 
were burnt over their heads and the food they contained carried 
away or destroyed. Further, where is any analogy to be found, 
as referred to by the Bishop, between helpless females and 
mfants suffering rigorous treatment, and the condition of the 
troops, who are only discharging their duties as soldiers employed 
on active service ? So ignorant of facts, or so blunted have become 
the minds of our people on the subject of the women and 
children, that they have come to believe that the Press is justified 
in extolling the great kindness and liberality which have been 
shown to these poor prisoners. Perhaps the best way of giving 
some idea of the loss of life that has taken place among the 
women and children in the Concentration Camps during the past 
month of July, is to give the following figures which are tdten 
from the Government's return ; ^ — 

Women in camp 
Children in camp 







'^Manchester Guardian, Aug. zg. Letter from Field- Marsha! Sir N. 
Chsmbetluin to the Bishop of Liverpool. 

^ Subsequently this rate was much increaaed. 


These figures, reduced to a few simple words, imply that 
about ten women and children have died in the Concentration 
Camps in July, as compared to one who would have died in 
London. Who is guilty for the excess of the nine? 

" My letter may be ended by calling to mind the humanising 
words of the Scotch peasant poet Burns — 

'These movin' things ca'd wives and weans 
Wad move the very heart of stanes.' " 

} }} 

Twice during the autumn Dr. Haldane wrote ^ drawing 
attention to the death-rates of the camps, and also to the scale 
of rations as affecting it 

The months following those upon which his calculations were 
based were, of course, still more disastrous to life. He says — 

" I venture to think that the apparent apathy with which 
these returns are received depends largely on the fact that to 
most persons the significance of a high death-rate is not easy to 
grasp. The following analysis of the figures for the last three 
months may therefore be of service, as showing roughly the 
deaths among Boer women and children which may be put 
down to insanitary surroundings, as compared with deaths which 
might be expected under normal conditions : — 

. . Deaths under Deaths due to 

H ^ih>f normal insanitary 

aeatns. conditions. surroundings. 

Women . . 606 96 510 

Children . . 3245 272 2973 

"The deaths under normal conditions are calculated from 
the last decennial return for England and Wales, children being 
taken as under fifteen years, and women as averaging about forty 
years old. The actual normal death-rates are not, of course, 
available ; but the figures given are more likely to be too high 
than too low." ^ 

Dr. Haldane's second letter is of importance, showing as it 
also does the insufiicient food allowed the soldiers, on the basis 
of which ration the women's allowance appears to have been 
drawn up. In addition, it must be remembered that not 
infrequently the supply ran short of the allowed weights, and 
the quality was inferior. He writes — 

^ Westminster Gazette^ Sept. 29 and Dec. 4. 

' Letter to Westminster Gazette^ by Mr. T. S. Haldane, M.D.F.R.S. 


"On November zS, I addressed to the Editor of the Times 
a letter;( which has not yet appeared) on the Concentration -Camp 
statistics, and at the end I referred to the inadequacy of the 
rations specified in the recent Blue Book. As the question of 
diet in these camps is one of immediate importance, I venture 
to write to you more fuUy on the same subject. 

'* In any diet the most elementary condition which requires 
to be fulfilled is that the food should contain a sutlScient amount 
of available potential energy to support the activities which are 
indissolubly bound up with life. The actual requirements of 
the body, as regards potential energy, have for long been clearly 
established by numerous experiments ; and it is generally 
admitted that for an adult the energy required is equivalent to 
about 3,000 calories (units of heat), For children the amount is, 
of course, a good deal less ; but in proportion to its weight a child 
requires far more food than an adult. If the food is insufficient, 
the body supplies the deficient material at the expense of its own 
tissues. When the insuflSciency is only a sUght one, the balance 
is gradually re-established at a lower level of nutrition. If the 
insufficiency is great, death occurs — usually from intercurrent 
disease — after a period which varies from a few weeks in the case 
of absolute starvation, to many months, or even years, in partial 
starvation. In children this period is shorter. 

" On looking over the diets specified in the Blue Book, I have 
been able to come to no other conclusion than that grave mis- 
takes have been made as regards their sufficiency. Nor can I 
find any evidence that these mistakes have been clearly 
recognised or more than partially rectified. The supposition 
that any British officer would deliberately underfeed women and 
children under his care is out of the question. The mistakes 
have undoubtedly been made in complete ignorance, for which 
it will probably be found that the combatant officers are in no 
way responsible. After discussing the subject with others who 
are more familiar with military matters, I feel little doubt that 
the miscalculations have had their origin in oflScial ideals as to 
the amount of food required by a soldier. The diets of the 
Concentration Camps seem to have been calculated by,, com- 
parison with the food allowance which still constitutes the 
so-called " daily ration " of a British soldier on a peace footing. 
In the case of the inmates of the Concentration Camps, a certain 
addition has even been made to this 'daily rations,' in order, 
apparently, to leave no doubt as to the sufficiency of the 


''The normal energy requirements of the body at the 
respective ages referred to being taken as equal to loo, the 
actual energy supplied in the British soldier's ' daily ration ' and 
the Concentration Camp rations are stated approximately in the 
following table. The references are to pages in the Blue Book. 
In the case of children's rations the probable mean age of the 
children is stated : — 

Percentajie supplied 
of what IS required. 

British soldier's *' daily ration" 48^ 

Class 2 (p. 21). / 

Families of prisoners I Adults .... 57 

and men on commando, < 

December, 1900 — | Children, mean age 6) . 65 

March, 1 901, Transvaal. V. 
Class I (p. 21). r Adults .... 63 

And all "refugees" -{ 

after March i, 1 901. ( Children, mean age 6^ . 75 
" Amended " ration (pp. / Adults .... 50 

37, loi). O. R. Colony. 1 Children, mean age 8 (?) . 97 

"Amended" ration (pp. J ^njli^ ^.o«:««o' ' ^tl 

194, 225). Transvaal" 1 S^^"*"' ™*" ^ ^l ' '2^ 
ly^, AA^/. Atouavaai. I Children, mean agc 3i . 81 

KafiBrration(p.37). O.R.r Adults .... 85 
Colony. \ Children, mean age, 6*5 . 122 


The table speaks for itself. Nothing but seething dis- 
content, an enormous death-rate, and very great expenditure 
in hospitals, doctors, nurses, * medical comforts,' etc., can be 
expected in Concentration Camps with a dietary calculated on 
the same scale as the miserable official allowance to the British 
soldier. A soldier can supplement his ration out of his scanty 
pay, but a ' refugee ' in a Concentration Camp, and without 
money, is in a very different position." 

An article in the British Medical Journal^ quoted in the 
73fiw^j,*^thus summarised the probable causes of mortality and 
suggested remedies: — 

"The camps appeared to be a military necessity, and it was 
doubtless regarded as more humane thus to mass the women 
and children than to leave them on their half-ruined homesteads. 
The results have been calamitous. . . . The conditions of life 
in these camps are doubtless responsible for the greater part of 
the evil. Dysentery and diarrhoea, enteric fever, and pneumonia, 

^ This figure is, in my own opinion, an overestimate of what is supplied 
as compared with what a young soldier absolutely requires if he is to become 
really ^dent 

' Times^ Nov. 8, 1901. 


as well as measles, probably prevail in them. The habits of the 
Boers probably make matters worse. But this is simply a 
further reason for not permitting the continuance of the concen- 
tration of persons under such unsatisfactory conditions. . . , But 
the whole matter is really one of sanitary administration, and 
we should like to have an assurance that the direction of these 
camps has been placed in the hands of experienced sanitary 
administrators, with authority and power to carry out the changes 
necessitated by the proved facts as to the unhealthy condition of 
the people detained in the camps. The important point for the 
moment is what can be done immediately ? The one essential 
thing is to split up the camps into a number of much smaller 
camps on new and unpolluted soils. Lai^e numbers of cases 
of measles cannot be safely treated together, unless imder the 
most favourable hygienic conditions. Failing these conditions, 
the aggregation of patients must be stopped. 

" What are the causes which are likely to have been productive 
of the present excessive mortality in the Concentration Camps ? 

" I, Almost certainly measles and complicating pneumonia 
are not entirely the cause. When the stoiy is completely told, 
it will most probably be found that diarrhtea and enteric fever 
have also been prevalent, 

" a. Some importance must be attached to the fact that a 
large proportion of the Boer children have probably never been 
previously exposed to measles, and have now been exposed 
under conditions which ensure concentration of the poison of 
this disease. The conditions are analogous to those of a 
workhouse into the babies' ward of which measles is accidentally 
introduced. Those who have experienced how fatal measles is 
under such circumstances will have little difficulty in partially 
realising the state of matters in the Boer camps. 

" 3. The Boers are stated to be dirty in their personal habits, 
and difficult to control in regard to the elementary rules of 
sanitation necessary to- maintain a large camp in a wholesome 
condition. Probably this is true. It is one of the strongest 
reasons for not permitting dense aggregations of people pos- 
sessed of habits which are only safe in detached and lonely 

"4. Possibly unsuitable food and deficient clothing, although 
every effort has doubtless been made to remedy these defects, 
greatly aided tn producing the resuh, 

"5. In view of the excessive mortality from enteric fever 
among our own troops, to which we have repeatedly drawn 
attention, we are bound to suspect that the same unreadiness 


to make provision for probable contingencies has characterised 
the action of the responsible Army authorities in this as in 
other health matters. The sanitary control of the large camps, 
whether for soldiers or for Boers, has been most unsatisfactory. 
One of the most important recommendations of the recent South 
African Hospitals Commission was as to the necessity for 
appointing special sanitary officers, whose duty it would be 
to organise and control the sanitary arrangements of all large 
camps. The sanitary, as distinguished from the medic^, 
organisation of the South African Army has been attended by 
calamities for which the War Office must be held responsible. 

"What remedies are practicable? 

" I. The immediate organisation of sanitary control of the 
camps on a scale sufficient to meet all requirements. 

" 2. Splitting up of the camps into a much larger number of 
units, each having a separate organisation, visits from camp 
to camp being strictly prohibited. . . . Uncomplicated measles 
needs to be treated in a separate building from measles 
associated with broncho-pneumonia; and if disinfection is not 
required for measles, it is desirable for its complications. Such 
methods may not be practicable under the conditions of camp 
life. The alternative is that no considerable number of suscept- 
ible children must be grouped together. The camps must be 
split up and to some extent scattered. This point is clearly 
brought out by Sir Walter Foster in a letter to the Times^ and he 
also lays stress on the importance of placing the camps on non- 
polluted soils." 

Imperceptibly, by the force of facts, opinion was changing in^ 
England, and a desire to have the camps reorganised was forming. / 
Warning notes of the serious position began also to filter through/ 
from South Africa. One of the first of these to write was Mr./ 
Dewdney Drew.^ ^ 

" There are just two points," he says, " on which I feel impelled 
to write to you, and they both relate to an essential mistake 
which we are making about the Boer people. They are not a 
people to be cowed, nor are they a people to forget. This bears, 
for one thing, very relevantly on our conduct of the war. Every 
piece of terrorism, every * severe measure,' has so far recoiled on 
ourselves. This burning and pillaging committed by our troops, 
and to which I can testify (having ridden hundreds of miles in 
their track), has merely put the very devil into the Boers. I have 

^ Letter from Rev. Dewdney Drew to Secretaiy of Colonial Mission, 
dated Cape Town, July 24. See Daily News, Aug. 1901. 


heard from their own lips aiid from the lips of their women how it 
has affected them. To give names, I was dining one day last month 
with the mother and two sisters of the Commandant Kritzinger, 
now invading the Colony, and with the Miss Olivier (daughter of 
the Commandant of that name) whom he is engaged to marry. 
These ladies are refugees in Basutoland, where I met them. 
They were unanimous in ascribing the continued resistance of 
their relatives and countrymen to the ahove-mentioned cause. 
At Thaba 'Nchu, where my brother-in-law's farm is situated, 
there lives a Mrs. Adams, whom 1 have known for years. She is 
an English lady and ministers to the sick in hospital, showing 
them charity regardless of their nationality. She told me, too, 
as I travelled homewards from Basutoland, that the wounded 
Boers were giving the same explanation. From what I have 
personally seen of the ravages inflicted by our troops on the Free 
Stale by fire and pilfering, there are revelations yet to be made 
to the British public which will fulfil Mr. Kruger's forecast and 
indeed ' stagger humanity.' 

" I know nothing personally about ' Concentration Camps,' 
having never visited one. However, I have, when riding on the 
veld, met convoys of women and children, and have also seen 
them huddled by scores in open trucks which stood by the hour 
at Springfontein railway station until the line could be cleared for 
forwarding them to the Bethulie Camp. The last-mentioned 
contingent had come in the same day from Fauresmith owing to 
' clearing ' operations in that district. There were, of course, 
inevitable discomforts, let such removals be planned as wisely as 
possible, but I do not think the Boer women would make much 
of these. What will never die from the memory of the survivors 
is the horrors which we have allowed to fall upon them, not, of 
course, intentionally, but through sheer muddlement The 
Government returns as to the mortality in these camps furnish 
only too convincing proof, and I venture to predict that Miss 
Hobhouse's findings will be virtually endorsed by the Ladies' 
Commission which has now sailed. It is the same kind of 
neglect which caused the hospital scandals, and which I have 
with my own eyes witnessed going on in the fighting districts and 
in the near presence of the enemy. A General sets out to 
'clear' a given stretch of country. He is going to scoop human 
lives wholesale into his net, hut has no notion of what he will do 
with them when caught. The capture effected, he dumps the 
unfortunates down on the nearest camp, whose officer is at his 
wits' end to provide for them. Then the troubles begin : children 
die for lack of milk, women are untended in child-birth, and the 


Government have to compile a set of * returns * which make ah 
Englishman's ears tingle as he reads." 

This tingling of the ears does not appear to have communi- 
cated itself to the Daily Maiiy Its correspondent wrote opti- 
mistically and reported that " the Commission was well satisfied 
with the condition of the camps generally." The more observant 
agent of the Central News Service spoke in strong terms, distinctly 
asserting that the death-rate had become so formidable as to 
become quite the most important question of the day.^ A change 
of some kind, he argued, must be made at once, as '* we are not 
warring against women and children." He considered "the 
extraordinary increase of disease due to the heavy rainfall which 
has converted the tent cities into veritable death-traps. The 
most feasible plan would be to allow them to choose some village 
not occupied by us, to allow them doctors, nurses, food, and 
liberty " ; or, as an alternative, distribution in Cape Colony. 

On the Continent and in America, where interest in and in- 
formation about the camps had all along been more general than 
at home, philanthropic feeling was deeply moved, and on several 
occasions found public expression. At midsummer, Madame 
Waszkl^wicz, President of the Women's League for the Promotion 
of International Disarmament, had addressed a letter to Mr. 
Brodrick pleading for the Boer women in the name of the women 
of Europe and America.^ She offered to relieve the military 
authorities of all burden by forming an International Committee, 
on which Englishwomen should be represented, to deal with the 
care of the Boer families, and she suggested that the example of 
Sir George White at Ladysmith should be followed on a large 
scale, and all the women handed over to a piece of neutral ground. 
Her offer was refused. 

The appeal of the Swiss Evangelical Alliance has already been\ 
alluded to ; at Christmas the women of Switzerland published an } 
open letter to the women of England, and the women of Germany \ 
made a strong appeal in the same month. Numerous meetings ( 
were held and resolutions passed in America and elsewhere. J 

The mortality of September had been so high * that details 
were anxiously expectec^ and these were given for the Transvaal 
Camps in the first Blue Book issued in November. With the 
exception of Bloemfontein for one month only, no monthly 

^ Daily Mail^ Dec. 27. 

^ Central News Special Service, Pretoria, Dec. 6. See Manchester 
Guardian, Dec. 30, 1901. 

' The Hague, June 23. See Algemeen ffandelsblad, 
^ See Appendix B, also Cd. 819. 



reports have been provided for the Orange River Colony 

It was realised that the country was getting roused ; niimerous 
letters were written to the papers, and the city of Manchester sent 
up a largely signed petition to the Government, headed by the 
Lord Mayor and the Bishop. The issue of the second Blue 
Boole ^ showed that the Colonial Office had already assumed 
control, and that Mr. Chamberlain was applying his enei^ and 
business faculties to the remodelling of the camps. Some of 
the suggestions urged by the Ladies' Commission were also being 
carried out. The telegraphic correspondence reveals some im- 
patience on the part of Lord Milner and others in South Africa 
at the importance attached to this work, and the attention required 
for its details, but Mr. Chamberlain rightly insisted ; the order was 
at last given that no expense was to be spared,* and Lord Onslow, 
speaking at Crewe in December, assured the country that "the 
civil authority under the Colonial Office had now taken over all 
the Concentration Camps from the military authorities. No pains 
and no money would be spared to put the camps in the most 
efficient and healthy condition possible." 

Thus the gloom of the year 1901 was lightened at its close 
with the hope that substantial reforms were really inaugurated 
and would work speedy and effective amelioration. 

' Cd. S53, Dec. 1901. = C<]. S53, p. 12S. 

» • 






" Life may change, but it may fly not ; 
Hope may vanish, but can die not; 
Truth be veiled, but still it bumeth ; 
Love repulsed, but it retumeth. 
Yet were life a chamel where 
Hope lay coffined with despair; 
Yet were truth a sacred lie ; 
Love were lust — ^if Liberty 
Lent not life its soul of light, 
Hope its iris of delight. 
Truth its prophet's robe to wear, 
Love its power to give and bear." — Shelley. 

EARLY in the year (Feb. 7, 1901), Mr. Rowntree thus 
describes the more highly blessed camps of Cape 
Colony and Natal. In a former chapter it has been 
shown how Port Elizabeth Camp was brought under excellent 
conditions in the end of 1900. Mrs. Fawcett has spoken of 
this camp as a " show camp." Mr. Rowntree writes — 

" I was given a pass by Mr. Hess, who remarked he wished 
us to see the camp so that we could assure people m England 
how well its occupants were treated. He put a note in the 
margin of the letter he gave me to the Captain at the head of 
the military organisation of the town, to the effect that it would 
have its use in England. There was barbed-wire fencing to a 
considerable height all round, and sentries with their rifles on at 
least three sides of the square. 
A sensible Afrikander woman "^^he conduct of the inmates is 

. ^ ou^i excellent; they have a great regard 

came to greet us. She took fo^ the matron. Miss HauptfleSch, 
us mto a hut. The iron walls of whom I cannot speak too highly, 
were bare, and the room re- She has managed the camp and 

sounded with the voices of the ^^% ^""J^^^^ "^'^ » wonderful tact 

• r *.« : -u j» • • u 1*. arid skiU, and the present etncient 

infants in the adjoming shelters, s^^te of the camp is entirely due to 

Chairs are scarce, but neighbours her exertions and sacrifice of her 



lend willingly, and boxes are 
gracefully tendered also. 

"There are 330 souls within 
the wire fence, 80 of them a 

mothers, 1 

" There is a good deal of crowding 
some of ihe looms, as many as 
and fourteen person* 

> of them are persons lining in one room togelher, 

"Charles P. Piers, Captain. 
' March i-j,iffai," Cd.8l9,p.43. 

of culture and means, the rest 
being absolutely destitute. The 
needs for the body are fairly 
met. They have clothing for the present, but the problem is, 
and will be, to keep the mind healthy and occupied and free from 
self-brooding in this life of enforced idleness. In the hospital 
lo-day there were only two mothers and two newly-arrived infants. 
Any news we could give was drunk in most eagerly. One 
person with whom we conversed had heard nothing of her 
husband for many months, and evidently yearned for tidings." 

"We came later," continues Mr. Rowntree, "to Pietermaritz- 
bui^ (February r4), and learnt that of the 1,800 persons in the 
camp here at Christmas, some 5°° persons have been taken to 
Howick. This camp became unmanageably large. I fancy 
several children died, and that changes were needed. The 
Colonel is evidently a humane man, desirous to act for the best 
on the limited means allowed him. The food, said to have been 
insufficient, is now said to be improved, but is not apparently 
always up to the mark, and barely sufScient. 

" We have spent the afternoon at the camp. The ther- 
mometer was 9S' in the shade. It is a vast space, almost like a 
deer park, on a slope, with much long coarse grass. The 
Rev. Mr, Rousseau, who is able to go into and come from the 
camp as he pleases, drove us right in without challenge. We saw 
many boys about, and feared we should miss the school, but 
soon came on a biggish tent, bursting with boys and girls. The 
head teacher is a young man, a British subject who did not fight, 
but it was thought best for the Empire that he should live in a 
gaol, and so he did for eight months. He still thinks, poor man, 
that he should have been charged with some offence and tried, 
but this is a vain thought, and he is perhaps hardly suiBciently 
thankful that he is now moved to a camp. We visited several 
tents. One old man had got a protection order for his farm, but 
some dynamite was found on the line about six miles away. He 
knew nothing whatever about it, but he and his wife were called 
out, and the house fired. They were very quietly sad. Many of 
the women had had their furniture, indeed practically all their 
goods except a little clothing, confiscated, without any receipt or 
attempt at remuneration, because their husbands or sons were on 

WOMEN IN 1901 167 

commando. In some cases this has been done to women whose 
husbands or sons are in Ceylon. One of them burst into tears 
when she said they took a lamp which her son had made 
for her, though she pleaded for it. Speaking generally, such 
statements were never proffered, only given in answer to 
questions, and often with remarkable absence of colouring. One 
lady said she would gladly shake hands with English soldiers, 
they often shared their rations with the hungry, but she would 
not with the officers, who sent them away hungry and cold on 
long journeys. One had come, with thirty-six others, in an 
open truck, in cold weather, for a day and a night 

" To one tent the news was brought us that more prisoners 
were coming. Their quick eyes caught them detraining when I 
could not distinguish them at all. In an hour the new prisoners 
came. A few soldiers first, who looked good-natured, and as if 
not particularly relishing their work, then a long straggling pro- 
cession, broken often into clumps. Mostly modier and children, 
many babies in arms, many toddling alongside, clutching gown or 
hand, most of them weary, sad, grave, a look of destitution im- 
printed on faces and clothing alike. One little lad of seven or 
eight was so tired that he lay down twice on the grass, and was 
made to go on. All, down to the infants, had some little thing, 
presumably the most precious or'necessary, in one hand, a water- 
bottle, a kettle, a small bundle of clothing ; here and there a bag 
with a few provisions; one lone woman was cherishing a cat 
One old woman, with a little child by her side, came in a ricksha ; 
the rest were all on foot and with no umbrellas against the sun. 
The general effect was very sombre and infinitely sad. I saw 
^Htwo or three in tears, and one had to move away by one's self for a 
^Btime. My wife followed them to see if anything could be done 
^Hin the way of food, but a cordon of soldiers was formed, and all 
^fcthers were kept away. We could not well object, but out of 
^■heir penury the older prisoners were evidently very anxious to 
^pipply the new-comers with coffee, and share what they had." 

^^ February 2*j, 

" What is to be the future ? The past is mainly very sad — 
the 200 persons we saw ten days ago had been slowly collected. 
One woman, with a good face, told me to-day that she and her 
children had been driven for two days to Standerton, where they 
stopped nine days. Then they were a day and a night in open 
trucks, coming here, with no rations, and only the bare tent when 
they got here at sundown ; no bedstead, no bedding. They are 
many of them fine people, very much like Lowland Scotch. 


Their hearts unlock quickly, even to kind looks. Your head 
may soon swim with quietly told experiences, and now and then 
you may get tired of one or two interposing loo often, but as a 
whole they have the true strength and dignity of self-restraint." 

Mr. Rowntree continues — 

" Large numbers of homeless women and children are being 
drafted down continually. There are about 3000 bereft of 
almost everything but a bundle of bedding and a box of 
some sort. The authorities begrudge rations to those who 

have any means. Mrs. showed me a formal notice she 

had received from the Camp Commandant stating he was 
ordered to discontinue rations to her, understanding thai she 
had means of her own. . . . The British Government has 
confiscated most of these people's effects. Is it intended that 
they should become pauperised ? As it is they have to beg of 
a Dutch Reformed minister for a postage stamp or a needle." 

There was something indescribably sad, as Mr. Rowntree 
shows, in watching the passing group of exiled women. 

" Oh ! " cries a lady of Thaba 'Nchu, writing io her sister on 
the igth of May, " how weary I am of it all ! The never-ending 
stream of poor women and children still continues to flow through 
here on the way to that awful camp in Bloemfonlein, where they 
are dying off like sick sheep. About a month ago all the women 
from just round about Prynnaberg— about 230— were brought 
here and ' plumped ' down. They were crowded into the Dutch 
Reformed Church, schoohoom and hall, and left here in the greatest 
discomfort for three weeks ; many got il!, one woman and one 
child died here — the woman was Mrs. "Van Wijk, Aunt Maria 
Sephton's mother. She was 77 years old, weak and ill, and not 
fit to be carted over the country in all sorts of weather in 
an old jolty buck-waggon. 

"The Van Niekerks and Boschmans and all the women 
you knew round here were of the lot. I used to go and see 
them and ' hold their hands ' for them, there is so very little 
one can do for these poor women. If you see what they have 
to put up with, it just makes one ' boil.' , , . How I do boil, 
and one has to keep it all bottled in and ' keep smiling.' 

"Well, these poor women show one how to take things 
bravely ; they laugh, and seem to get as much fun out of their 
misfortunes as they can ; I do admire them. But there is the 
other picture too ; lots of them just used to come and sit and 

WOMEN IN 1901 169 

weep out their miseries to me in my room, because I was your 

" Well, last week they were all packed into more buck-waggons 
to be taken to the * camp ' ; when they got to the waterworks, 
the order came for no oxen to cross the river on account of 
the rinderpest having broken out here. So these poor women 
are stranded on the flats with hardly any food and next to no 
shelter. They had been there for days when I heard from 
them, and I can't say if they have been taken on to Bloem- 
fontein yet Some of them said they would let me know what 
became of them eventually if they survive it all, poor souls. 
The sick (about six families) are still here." 

Mrs. P. Maritz Botha writes — 

*' April l^l, 
" On presenting my ticket for admittance " to the camp at 
Johannesburg, " the guard informed me that there were two or 
three thousand women there, also that he had just come from 
Potchefstroom District, where he had spent five or six months, 
being one of a column employed in destroying homesteads and 
farms in that district, and bringing in the women and children 
into the camp there. He condemned the practice, saying that 
retribution was sure to follow on the English. 

" In the camp I found a lot 
of sick lying about in the , "iSr^wV^.— This leaves much tobc 
;»^^ *.u^rir. ;ii *N«;.^^:»xr.ii., «.:«.u desired. There is no provision for 
iron sheds— ill pnncipally with p^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ less*^ suitable for 

measles — though other diseases families could well be conceived. I 

were rife. These people were leave out of the question such objec- 
of the superior class of Boers. ^^^^ ^ the want of privacy. . . . 

In the small space allotted to JtSo'S. '"^ ""^ '"'''^ '^"°''' 

each family were to be seen ** The buildings are very draughty, 

sick, dying, and dead. and in winter will be very cold. The 

" I found one poor woman earth between the floors will soon 

with her face turned to the ^^^'^^ ^^^^ ^"""^''f dr Turner " 

wall, weeping bitterly. On my cd. 819, p. 30. 
questioning her as to the cause 

of her grief, she turned round «« Month ending 31st May, 

and said that she had just lost jwpulation . . . 3379 

her sixth and last child, all During May, deaths . . 79 

having died in camp. " The health of the Burgher Camp, 

" A great and righteous com- Johannesburg, during the month of 

plaint amongst the women was, ^^ ^,^ generally been exceedingly 

that for all the divers diseases ^®^« dr. Crook (Medical Officer).' 
and illnesses rife in camp, from Cd. 819, pp. 54-56. 



General SupermtcDdent. 

enteric and measles to a broken "Dr. CroUier - Durham entirely 
leg, only two kinds of medi- f=>'=^ '° ^°P? *'■'' |^= situation, anS 
c?nes were used, and these were I'Xtt^i^^t.^: XWd, 
served from two separate ves- an improvement is noticeable in the 
sels. This treatment naturally general health and appearance of 
caused suspicion, and the result "•* wom=n and children, owing 
«, th., the wo„e„ took to r^'j^^S.S t^.i?,'. SS 
what are called home remedies, membersof the local Dutch Reformed 

"As far as rations are con- Church, who have provided m 
Cerned, thanks to Governor some medical comforts for the invalids.^ 
Mackenzie.justatthistimethere Report^of G. W. Goodwik. 

were no complaints about the _, „ 
food, which a little while back ^ ' '^' P' '^' 
had been practically unfit for consumption. Also at this time 
the D.R.C. ministers were allowed to supply small sums of 
money, which helped to build small ovens. 

" The method of taking these women from their homes waa 
truly conspicuous for its barbarity. They were literally robbed 
of everything they had before being sent away ; and 1 know 
women, once well off, who were carted about the country for 
months without once being able to change their dress. Some 
were made to give up their rings, others even their precious, 
heirloom Bibles. 

" One woman told me that, having hidden ^^35 in her breast 
for safety and to feed her children with, she was approached 
by an officer, who snatched open her dress and took the money 
from her. 

" I personally, on visiting some of the poor families at night. 
who were brought into Pretoria, have seen a father, mother, and 
eight children huddled together in two tiny zinc rooms, with 
nothing either above or below them for warmth and protection j 
and I have given bedding from my son's bed just to aid these. 
people who were left in this neglected state for weeks at a time." 

Mr, H. A. Comelissen and Mr. F. Smits Verburg, now ii 
Europe, were both in the Concentration Camp at Irene as 
prisoners, and had therefore good opportunities for describing the 
life of the camp. Mr. Comelissen was a war correspondent with 
the Boer forces, and, after being six months in the two camps o" 
Irene and Pietersburg, was allowed to leave for Europe in October 
igoi. He attributes the high mortality to various causes- 
First, the exhausted condition of the women and chUdren oa 
their arrival at the camps ; secondly, the fact of the inmates being 
housed in tents — no Boer would ever think of living in a tent 

WOMEN IN 1901 171 

with his family in winter on the South African veld ; thirdly, the 
inadequate medical aid. His most serious complaint is about 
the bad quality and insufficiency of the food supplied. The 
meat generally had to be thrown 
away. He says that but for ^ "J^'^, ^Jj^ep supplied have un- 

^^J»4-^ r.u»^i*.,/*.u^ ^^r^^r> »^A doubtedly been in very poor condi- 

pnvate charity the women and ^ion. . . . On the wholerihe ration 

children would have perished satisfies the people, especially since 

with the cold. His story is children were sdlowed i lb. of flour 

endorsed by Mr. Verburg l— tM,' instead of J lb. as formerly. 

iir%^ 4.kL «,«,f r.f A«^i loef The flour supphed has been of very 

"On the 2lSt of April last good quality on the whole. 

I amved at the Concentration ««n. J. Schotz, Supt., Irene." 
Camp at Irene. It was a Sunday cd. 814, pp. 58, 59. 
afternoon. There was to be 

no distribution of rations before Monday morning at eight. We 
had to live meanwhile as best we could manage. On Monday 
morning we received 7 lbs. of Australian flour, 4 English ozs. of 
coffee (roasted maize), 7 English ozs. of sugar (black and tart), 
and half an oz. of rough salt. Every Wednesday and Saturday 
was served out, besides the above, an English pound of mutton, 
the sheep being so lean that they much resembled greyhounds. 

"What they got too little in meat was made up for by the 
living things which the flour contained — black corn-weevils and 
beetles. And hundreds of women I saw sifting such flour, 
without complaining, to free it from living animals and mouldy 
clots. I myself took it back for Mrs. Aart van Wijk, Renoster- 
poort, Zoutpansberg, and after a deal of talking and flattery 

managed to get for her as much ,,_, ., , i, ,. , 

., ^fl a.u ij 1 «. " The weather has been extremely 

Other flour as the mouldy clots ^.^Id at night, and on some days the 

and weevils weighed which she wind extremely cold. I have done 

had sifted from her flour. all in my power to assist the people 

"One round tent was as- «>d minimise then: hardships, by 

«:^^^^ 4.^ ^.,^«. 4.«r^i„^. •.^•.«rv«« issumg to them blankets, shccpskms, 

Signed to every twelve persons ^^^ ^^ coverings. On the whole 

to live m, without considenng they are feirly comfortable. Com- 

whether they belonged to the plamts are inevitable in a camp with 

same family, so that they lay 4Soo people. ... The scarcity of 

„^«, r*ir>«,^ /^«^«.u^- f.i^r^/t- 4.V.I wood has been the cause of consider- 
very close together, almost the ^^j^ ^^^^^^ ^„^ ^3 ^„^ ^^ ^y^^ ^^^^^^^ 

one on the other ; which, how- hardships of the people. . . . There 
ever, had one advantage, that the is more than enough work for another 
want of a sufficient quantity of medical officer to do in the camp, as 

nights of that time, as otherwise Dr. Green's Report, 

would have been the case. Cd. 819, p. 61. 

1 Mr. Smits Verburg. See De Telegraaf, Amsterdam. 



" When I arrived there was one doctor to look after the patients; 
afterwards there were two, but this number cannot be considere 
sufficient for a camp of 4000 souls. The number of funeral 
was every day ominously great." 

Mrs. Bodde, an English lady whom I have the pleasure 
knowing, wrote thus about Irene Camp. Parts of her letter wer 
published last summer — - 

" Alay 13, 190J. 

" When I left Pretoria there were 5000 men and children inl 
the camp at Irene, and 1000 were reported to be sick, 
camp itself is on the site of a camp previously occupied by th(fl 
British soldiers when they were prisoners in Pretoria, 
ground is high and slopbg. The camp is surrounded by a fenc^ 
of barbed wire, and guarded by sentries, who refuse to permit arq' 
entrance or egress excepting under military pass. There is nm 
truth in the statement, which to my surprise I find repeated i 
London, that the women and children went to the camps 1 
their own consent, or are willing to remain there. In 
every case, these women, with their little ones, have been takeai 
by force from their homes at a moment's notice. They have not 
even been allowed to take with them a morsel of food, or to t ' 
removed in their own carts. They were taken by the soldier 
and put into open cattle trucks and waggons, while their owi 
beautiful waggons, carts, and vehicles were burnt before their eyes 

" The work of the destruction of the goods of these unforlunat^ 
people was not by any means confined to food-stuffs or to housed 
that might shelter the enemy. Thousands of bales of valuabl^ 
wool, in the Standerton and Ermelo districts, were destroyed b 
first saturating them with paraffin oil, and then setting them oin 
fire. Bales of wool cannot be used for food. 

"The impression seems to prevail in this country that t 
work of farm-burning has ceased. Nothing could be further frort 
the truth, When a sweeping operation takes place, and a columd 
goes out for the purpose of denuding the country of supplies, t* 
farmhouses are uniformly first gutted and usually set on fi; 
When Mrs. Botha received permission from Lord Kitchener ti. 
visit her husband, she crossed the country in a Cape cart, anffl 
stayed each night at a farmhouse en route, After staying fivT 
days with her husband, she set out to return to Pretoria, 
could not come back the way she went, because all the house 
which had given her shelter bad been burnt to the ground in 
brief interval. The work of destruction is usually done i 
desperate hurry, for the soldiers are afraid that they may I 

WOMEN IN 1901 178 

surprised by the Boers in the midst of their woric. They there- 
fore usually set a house on fire, or blow up the walls with dynamite 
if it is strongly built. The crops are destroyed, hundreds of bags 
c^ grain are ripped open and trampled under foot, fruit trees are 
cut down, and all this has to be done in a few hours. In most 
of these houses which have been destroyed are stored excellent 
tents, used by the young people of the Boers when they go out 
into the veld to pasture their cattle. If they had been permitted 
to remove them they would at least have had shelter over their 
heads, but no woman was allowed to bring with her a tent to 
protect her from the sun by day or the cold by n^ht. The 
tents were burnt with all the other furniture of the household ; 
and, thus b^gared and homeless, they were carted off across the 
veld, and consigned to the camps, in which they remain prisoners 
to this day. 

" When I left Pretoria it was already very cold, even inside 
my own home. What it must have been outside in the tents on 
the bleak hillside I shudder to think. Yet that was only the 
beginning of winter. The number of deaths occurring among 
the children is appalling. Unless the death-rate is checked 
there will be no children left in the camp when the winter is 
over. The women and children sleep on straw mattresses, on 
the bare ground. The tents are ¥dthout lining, atid they afford 
hardly any protection against wind, nor have the women 
adequate clothing. Some were allowed to snatch a blanket from 
the bonfire which was made of all their goods and possessions, 
but if they had only been allowed to bring their bedding they 
would at least have been saved some of the intense misery to 
which they are at present doomed. As a rule, they were 
allowed to bring nothing with them but the clothes which were 
on their backs. There is also hardly any fuel in the camps, it 
being exceedingly scarce. 

" While the shelter is miserably inadequate, the rations are 
very bad. The military authorities have entered into an arrange- 
ment with a contractor, by which he supplies the camp with food 
for adults. No special food is supplied for children. The rations 
supplied by the contractor, which are by no means the regular 
Army rations, consist of fiour that is often bitter and unfit to be 
eaten. Even if it were good, the women are not accustomed to 
white flour, and do not like it They have always used either 
whole ground meal or Boer meal, but white flour many of them 
touched for the first time when their day's ration was handed to 
them. The coffee is hardly deserving of the name, and appears 
to be made largely of roasted acorns. The sugar is the result of 



the skimmings of the sugar boiler. The food is quite inadequab 
for adults, and the poor children simply starve and die. Th^ 
mortality among children is really terrible. From one farm. 
alone ten children have died, and there are cases in which every 
child in the family has perished. How can it be otherwise? 
Children under seven years of i^e require to have some kind 
of milk diet. Of course, I am well aware that milk freslf 
from the cow is impossible. Every milch cow is com* 
mandeered for the use of the sick in the military hospital, bu( 
that is no reason why children should not be supplied * ' ' 
condensed milk and Mellin's food. The statement that it is{ 
impossible to supply condensed milk to the prison camps majr 
be made here, but I never heard of any such excuse in Pretoria. 
1 know of my own certain knowledge that there is any amount o! 
condensed milk in Fretoria. I brought my own baby up on if 
for Che last two years, and never had any difficulty in procuring 
as much as was wanted, with the exception of the first foil 
months after the occupation of Pretoria. Not only is there anj 
amount of condensed milk in Pretoria, but a Hollander CharitablS 
Committee, which was formed for the purpose of relieving tlu 
distressed women and children, actually kept many children i 
the camp alive by distributing condensed milk and other foo(ft 
to the little ones j but for some reason or other— I think it w 
about the month of April — the military authorities withdrew the 
licence by virtue of which the Hollander Committee had been 
able to distribute these necessaries of life to the children, wit! 
the result that the children are dying like fiies, Why they shoul( 
be deprived of condensed milk and other food necessary to kee 
them alive I do not know. But you can hardly be surprised 
if it is misinterpreted by the Dutch. They are aware that tb« 
authorities did, as a matter of policy, order that the women a 
families of the men still fighting should only receive half ratioiU 
and no meat whatever,' Since I came to this country I hear ths 
the rescinding of this inhuman order was attributed to pressuJ 
brought to bear on Ministers in the House of Commons. W 
knew nothing about that in Pretoria, All that we knew was thi 
the foreign Consuls protested against the refusal of full ration 
to the women and children whose husbands were still i 
commando, and the distinction was blocked in deference — so i 
always understood — to the representations of the Consuls, 
few nurses are allowed in the camp, but the doctors do nO 
understand the language of many of their patients, and obstacle 
have been placed in the way of the granting of a licence to thi 
' See Appendix A. 

WOMEN IN 1901 176 

Hollander Society, which undertook to supply medical relief to 
the sufferers. 

" It is merely human nature that the Dutch should take a 
rather sinister view of these proceedings." 

The desire to improve the conditions of the unfortunate^^, 
inmates of this camp took the form of an ajppeal to the foreign 
Consuls for their intercession with the military authorities — J 


"To his Excellency D. Cinatti, Consul-General of Portugal, 
and the other Representatives of Foreign Powers. 

** Pretoria, May 25, 1901. 

" Excellencies, — The condition of the women and children 
of our burghers, especially of those whose men are still fighting, is 
of such a nature that we, the undersigned women, consider it 
highly necessary to call in the aid of the Consuls. These poor 
helpless beings suffer indescribably ; they have been so weakened 
by bad and insufficient food that they cannot possibly withstand 
the ravages of disease and cold. Already the cold is intense at 
Irene, considered to be a warm climate. We dread to think 
what it must be on the high veld, at Middelburg, Standerton, 
and Vereeniging, etc. Only very few families were allowed to 
bring clothing with them, the others having nothing but what 
they were clad in when forced to leave their homes, and those 
are worn and soiled. A few were also allowed to take bedding, 
but the majority have insufficient or none, and are compelled to 
lie on the cold earth, only sheltered from the bitterly cold 
weather by canvas. Their food is mostly unfit for consumption. 
We know of a case where the mother saw three children carried 
away within sixteen days. They died from diarrhoea, caused by 
bad meat, fiour, coffee, and sugar; no other food is dealt out 
to the imprisoned women and children. Another daughter, 13 
years of age, is still lying dangerously ill. Neither soap nor 
candles have been given to them ; these are called * articles of 
luxury.' Our African nation cannot exist on flour, even when of 
the best quality ; the poorest are used to plenty of milk, and plain, 
but nutritious, food. 

" We are convinced that (this) pitiful state of affairs is aggra- 
vated by rough and heartless men such as Superintendent Scholtz 
at Irene. The women prefer to starve and suffer with their 
children, even when twenty are herded together in one tent, almost 
without bedding, rather dian expose themselves to insults when 
they approach with their needs. 


"Is it considered such a crime in these present days to fight 
for home and independence, that it is wreaked on defencelesi 
women and helpless children, in order to compel the brave littW 
handful of lion-heatted men to surrendet ? We earnestly beseech 
you to take steps without delay to relieve the sufferings of these: 
unfortunate beings. Our little nation is being exterminated, 
Already many prisoners at Ceylon and elsewhere, and burghers 
still in the field, are, without knowing it, wifeless and childless. 

" With the approaching winter in view there is no time to bo; 
lost. Help us, in God's name and in the name of humanity. He 
will bless you, and you will have our eternal gratitude. 

" We have the honour to be, Excellencies, your obedient and 
sorrowing," (Nine Signatures.) 

The appeal of May 3$, after due deliberation by the Con- 
suls, was handed to Lord Kitchener, who, however, did not 
acknowledge it. After waiting nearly five weeks, the s 
signatories sent in the following petition — 

"To his Excellency D. Cinatti, Consul- General of Portugal, 
and the other Representatives of Foreign Powers. 

" Pretorla, yH/ji I, igot. 

"Excellencies, — The undersignedCommitlee of Boer ladies, 
in name of the Boer ladies in South Africa, having taken into 
consideration the serious condition of the various camps of the 
imprisoned women and children, of the appalling death-rates in 
consequence of disease brought on by cold and starvation, seeing 
the danger our brave htlle nation is running — unless speedily 
relieved — of being totally exterminated, are turning to you once 
j^ain as our only earthly help in our great and bitter need. 
We earnestly beseech you without loss of time to request your 
Governments, for the sake of humanity, to use their friendly good 
offices before the Government of Great Britain in favour of help- 
less women and tender children. 

" For our men we ask nothing^they are men, and well able to 
bear all that it has pleased Providence to lay upon theni^ — but 
for their imprisoned families we demand, in common justice, 
from mighty and wealthy England, sufficient and better food, 
warm clothing and bedding ; also that no obstacles be laid in our 
way to visit the different camps for the purpose of aiding as far 
as we possibly can. 

WOMEN IN 1901 177 

" They have been dragged by force from their homes, their 
food and clothing destroyed by fire, and are now dying by 
hundreds weekly for want of these necessities. To compel our 
brave men to surrender, their families are tortured and on the 
way of being rooted out. Although not much is known about 
the many other camps scattered all over the land, you are suffi- 
ciently aware of what is taking place at Irene Camp, considered 
to be the best, and thus enabled to give an account thereupon to 
your Government. 

"We pray to God that your endeavours may meet with 
success, so that relief may speedily come to these unfortunate 
victims of a cruel and unjust war. 

" We have the honour to be. Excellencies, gratefully," etc., 


Substantially the same as Mrs. Bodde's account is this one 
sent to England by a leading Transvaal lady — 

" Pretoria, May 1901. 

"In almost every case they (the women) have been taken 
from their comfortable homes at a moment's notice, and not 
even allowed to take a morsel of food with them. They were, 
and still are, thrust into open cattle trucks and waggons, while 
their own beautiful waggons, carts, and vehicles are being burnt 
before their eyes, their homes set on fire, or blown up if too 
strongly built. . . . 

" The crops must be destroyed, hundreds of bags of grain 
ripped open and trampled under foot, trees cut down, in many 
instances below the grafts, all this being done in a few hours. 
I could mention hundreds of people I know by name and 
personally. In the sheep-farming districts, Standerton, Ermelo, 
etc., thousands of bales of wool were destroyed by first saturating 
them with paraffin. It is said no food-stuffs must be left on the 
farms to prevent the burghers on commando from taking them. 
But bales of wool cannot be used z&food. Then they say only 
the farms in the neighbourhood of railway lines are destroyed. 
This is an untruth. 

" Two-thirds of the Republics, with the exception of the towns 
and farms of those who have surrendered, have been destroyed. 
The blacks of the Cape, bastards especially, take an active part 
in the destruction and looting of properties before the eyes of the 
helpless women, insulting and sometimes outraging them. We 
have been told — ^and I hope it is true — ^that the Australian volun- 
teers have refused to fight because ' they did not come to fight 

against women and children, but men.' The condition of thj 
women and children prisoners is terrible, too awful for words. 

■"I am only speaking of Irene — we know nothing of i 
happens in the other places, but it is admitted that some of tl 
camps are very bad. Irene Camp is on a hill, very hot durii 
ihe day and intensely cold at night. Already the deaths dailfl 
are appalling. . . . 

"One of my relatives, a widow withlfive children, had 1 
misfortune to stay a few days at Irene ; they tell me the tent 
are without lining, the women and children sleep on the bar 
ground on straw mattresses with little covering ; she had pleat) 
of her own, but even then the cold was unbearable. They a 
wet with dew in summer, and now with a piercing wind blowi 
they might just as weli be on the open veld ; when the beds a 
lifted in the morning the ground is perfectly wet underneath, 
these poor helpless ones had only been allowed to bring their o 
bedding and their own tents they would have been comfortable. I 

" Every Boer has an excellent tent ; they are used to the lifel 
at least the younger ones pass months in tents pasturing theii 
cattle in winter, but they stand in the bush, well sheltered v "' 
trees, with plenty of fuel and every other comfort. But here they 
are half-starved, brought away by force from their homes with 
only the clothes they stood in ; one woman told me — widow of one 
of our first Volksraad members (who was killed at Derdepoort 
by the harpies, viz. Kaffirs, commanded by English officers)— tha 
she was made to lake off her shoes, also her daughter and littii 
children, and to walk with bare feet to the nearest camp. 

"The flour portioned out to these prisoners, women am 
children of every age, is rotten very often, unfit for dogs ; coffee 
some poisonous stuff mixed with acorns ; sugar, the scum of suga 
boilers. I have seen samples of all these, and was assured tha 
■they prefer to starve rather than to eat or drink such stuff. 

"We are being rooted out as a nation. 

"I know of several cases where the husbands are eithfl 
prisoners or fighting, the wife dead with her three children, or i 
mother lost all six children. One woman told me her husbam 
was at St. Helena, some sons fighting, her daughter's husban 
killed, and that since she was brought into Pretoria, from he 
farm alone ten children had died. 

"Believe, as God is my judge, I am not exaggerating. N 
one cart maJce things out worse than they are. Our land i 
desolate, but we can build it up again. What we cannot do is 4 
give back to our poor prisoners when they return some day thd 
wives and children, their relatives and friends. . . . 

WOMEN IN 1901 179 

" They say we are worse than the men, but what have the 
little innocent children done to starve them and in consequence 
to kill them with disease and cold ? 

" This is only May, and the night is bitter cold in Pretoria ; 
what it is on the high veld and cold districts, and what it will be 
in July, no one who knows can bear to think. I belong to the 
unfortunates who cannot put their thoughts on paper. It 
would require the pen of an Olive Schreiner (God bless her !) to 
describe the sufferings of our women and children. . . ." 

Very interesting is Miss Malherbe's short review of the 
work done by the volunteer nurses from Pretoria. These ladies, 
who had borne the burden and heat of the day for five long 
months, were dismissed by the Ladies' Commission. 

"I went out on 7th April 1901, together with Mrs. Arm- 
strong, Mrs. Stiemens, Mrs. 

Vlok, Mrs. Enslin, Miss Find- " Six ladies from Pretcma, who a« 
1 kjT' IT III- 1 -Kjr' . voluntaiy workers, visit in the camp 

lay. Miss Van Warmelo, Miss ^^ y^/i^ ^^^^^ E^^h lady takes a 

Celhers, and the Misses Durr. ward, and visits every tent in the 

We all went out voluntarily, morning, and then reports to the 

and at the request of the women medicaf officer the serious cases, and 

;** 4.u^ ^«^.. . ^^A ^f v,^,,^^ ;^ "ocs what nursing for the sick that 

m the camp ; and of course in ^^^ ^^ ThesTkdies do their work 

receipt of no salary, m fact we well, and it would be difficult and 
paid the majority of railway impossible for the present medical 
fares from and to Pretoria. As staflf to do their work without them." 

far as our mess was concerned ^d. 819, p 6^1 . '''''' ' ^^''' 
we drew officers' rations, also 

the Hollander Relief Fund gave ''Six (Pretoria ladies) are per- 
£S per month towards our manently resident in camp. They 
ir^^ draw rations, have a large marquee 

« tir 1 J • T ^ ^^^ ^^^^ mess-room, and four bell- 

We worked m Irene Camp tents. They do not encourage the 

for six months, being dismissed people to send their sick to hospital ; 

on the loth October : there was Mr. Esselen does, but the sick remain 

no reason whatever given for j? ^^^' *^^ ^ F'^f^ ISfg^' ^^°^^' 

w 7r^. TTxx«.i,v,T^,* 6*^v^» ^ than IS Wise or right. They gave us 

this dismissal. to understand that they drew the same 

" We were more than sorry ration as the camp, but we found they 

to leave the camp, and the 'eally drew staff rations— a double 

women also showed their regret ^.^'^rLrn'thaT^Z lol/o'f 
by drawing up a petition pray- their joint ration (8 lbs.) only yielded 
ing for us to be allowed to i lb. of meat when separated from 

remain. Even General Maxwell the bone."— Cd. 893, p. 119. Report 

expressed to one of us his regret ^^ ^adibs Commission. 

that we should be removed from ccj^ jg the opinion of the Com- 

the useful work we were doing, mission that the ladies from Pretoria 

X ladies from Pretoria who 
the Red Cross . . . stay 
ne month at a time, when 
relieved by others ftom 
Pretoria. They are of great assist- 
ance to the medical oDicer, and are 
untiring in their visits and rounds in 
ihe camps amongst the sick, 

"G. F. ESSBLBN, Supt." 
Cd. 819, p. 236. 

It did seem as if we were far are » dangerous element in eamr 

more suited to attend our '^''=>' lepfesent an antagonism to Ih 

„ 1 - .1 1 autlionty of the supermlendent (Mi 

women, knowuig them and e^|„}; ^^^ act^as carriers an 

understanding them as we did, < go-betweens ' between the camp an 

than English nurses, who could the town."— Cd. 893, p. 119. 
not understand a word of their "t 
language; and seeing that we bclom 
even had to interpret for the here ! 
doctor himself. 

"The routine of the day 
began at 8 a.m. and consisted 
of visiting the two hundred or 
one hundred and fifty tents 
allotted to each of us, and there 
making notes of the sick, taking temperatures, and giving medical 
comforts (these were obtained by the patients presenting a card 
given by us to the doctor in charge), as well as applying what 
medical remedies were necessary. All the tents under the charge 
of each person had to be visited 

by one o'clock p.m. each day, " On the whole, their lone was to 

. 11 .1: .-. r weep and bewail, but take no active 

so naturally the quantity _ of s,epS to help the «ople to help them- 
work debarred us from domg selves, or make the best of things." 
as much as ought to have been 

done to each patient, seeing that in the case of epidemic we 
had as many as 500 patients. The visits of the doctors to the 
tents under our respective charges were divided between the 
morning and afternoon, half the sick being visited at a time. 

" In the afternoon we again visited the sick -tents to see if 
patients had what they required for the night; before leaving 
them late in the afternoon, their temperatures were again taken, 
this being the last attendance of the day. 

" I have seen it mentioned in a Blue Book that the Committee 
of ladies (sent out to inspect the camps) stated that they found 
us crocheting ; this may be so, if it was it could only have been 
between the hours of one and 

three o'clock p.m.— these being ^ " ^^^^ '^"■^'^ «" ^^ about 3.30 in 
r J- J the aflcmoon, and found them in 

given us for our dmner and ,h^j, ^^^^^ d^jng ^^^^^i^ ^j 
rest; and anybody knowing crochet."— p. 119. 
anything about South African 

life is aware that it is impossible for women to work outside 
between these hours ; also all the crocheting done by us was 
for the use of the women and children in the tents. 

" In the Blue Book also is stated a deliberate falsehood, i.e. 
that we neither tried nor did start either a soup kitchen or a 

WOMEN IN 1901 181 

tannery ; Mrs. Armstrong made "Some of the ladies have been in 

repeated requests to the super- camp five months. We asked them 

intendent for facilities to start |f they thought a soup kitchen would 

..,,.. be useful ; they replied m the affinna- 

either, but evasive answers were tive, but they had done nothing to 

always given her, and certainly start one."— Cd. 893, p. 119. 
no ^cilities to start them. In 

one other camp visited, V. D. Hovens', near Pretoria, a soup 
kitchen was started by some Boer ladies, and was put a stop to 
by the military authorities. 

" Another thing, home medicines were not encouraged by us, 
but when home remedies were used they were first obtained 
from the store set up by military authority for the use of the 
camp; the selling of these home remedies was afterwards 
stopped, but this is how they 

were obtained and used in the " T^^f f^l fJ^'^^t J"^T-?? ^ 
. , ^, 1 i_ • prohibited, but the 'Pretoria ladies' 

camp. As to the people bemg £ri„g them out."— Cd. 893, p. 118. 
poisoned by these home reme- 
dies, the idea is ridiculous. They consist of the simplest ingre- 
dients of the chemist art, and have been used since Boers became 
Boers ; why they should die of these remedies the first time they 
were used under the English Rag is inexplicable. In my five 
months of work in the camp neither did I attend or did I hear 
of any patient dying of poison from home remedies. 

" The hospital consists of one brick building with two large 
wards, and seven marquees. There are about sixty beds in 
all. There are three doctors, one dispenser with two assistants, 
two trained nurses, three untrained nurses, and several camp 
assistants. As far as I could judge, the hospital was in excellent 

" So far as complaints are concerned I might fill a book, but 

to shorten them as far as possible. They were as follows : — 

There was in vogue an extra- «mi. • . j • 1 r 
^^/i:r«A^, «,»«* ^f ^„,,:«u:..« «.u^ " There is a wued-m enclosure for 
ordinary way of punishing the „„^i women.»-p. 119. 

women and children ; they were 

for most petty offences — such as washing clothes in a wrong place 

— sent off to a wire enclosure, where they had to remain for 

hours at a time under a small tent. 

"Again, the supply of fuel „-,, . ^ « •* /: , «.. . 
«,«« ^^ u Ji J i.u 4. T " There IS no definite fuel ration m 

was so badly arranged, that I this camp. In the week previous to 

have known at times that for that of our visit the want had been 

days together the people had specially acute, 

no fuel at all, and practically "There were m^iy compl^nts in 

«^«.^« u»^4.uJI.^^ .U4. u camp from lack of fuel, and Mr. 

never had they enough to bum -g^^^ ,,^^ to experience ^eat 

for their wants. difficulty in supplying it. Irene is as 


" As far as the schools were well placed gec^aphically for the 
concerned tbey were very much ^IJPP'J' °! '^°°^ ^ Johannesbuig or 
app,.ci..ed, but, a. a.ual, with SSgr'tS' oSpTg, %'£ ^i 
that persistent annoyance which ihan either of the Iwo lailer camps." 
was always put upon the people —p. 117, 
of the camps, the Dutch- 
speaking teachers were in a short time removed ; this, as may 
be imagined, could only be a source of great discontent to the 
people and a slackening of interest in school work, 

"Now for the rations of the people in the camp. Before we 
arrived, I believe, from the tales I heard from the women in the 
camp, things were considerably worse, but the quantity and 
quality of the food they received while we were there will speak 
for itself, I may mention in passing that the chief food of our 
countrymen consists of meat, as is natural from the herds of 
cattle and sheep they possess; in fact, they are used to have 
meat once a day at least, and the richer two and three times, as 
well as an unlimited supply of milk and eggs. Now for such 
I>eople suddenly to be put on 2^ lbs. of meat a week for grown 
people, and i lb. for children, and this meat to consist of 
thin, hardly-driven sheep or tinned bully-beef, the result may 
well be imagined, the terrible mortality in the camps. 

" Again and again have I heard the people complain of the 
insufficiency of food, as this bad meat was only augmented by 
1 lb. of meal a day for grown and J lb, for children, and a little 
coffee and sugar a day for each ; rice was given once a week. 

"The question of beds is another sore point; there are only 
beds in the proportion of one to four, so that the large majori^ 
of women and children sleep on the ground; in fact, an in- 
teresting parallel might be drawn between the present lives of 
these unhappy people and the Kaffirs of the country. Another 
great grievance was the treatment of the women in the camps 
whose husbands were still fighting at the front. In several 
instances I personally know of, such women were subjected to 
every kind of annoyance ; requests which were granted to others 
were refused to them ; in fact, they were made to feel that thar 
husbands were considered criminals." 

Another of the Pretoria lady nurses, Miss Van Warmelo, 
gives a description of Irene Camp and her work there — 

" iRanB./uly 10, 1901, 
" During the first week of my stay at Irene," she says (May 
1S-19), "the total number of deaths was 12. This increased 

WOMEN IN 1901 188 

steadily, and in the middle of June it was 27 ; then the following 
week, to our horror, it was 47, and since then it has been over 
45 every week. 

"There was an epidemic of , ''\^^^^ j* would be much better 

j.*A^.x^ TTCM «M* ^.^/wA^iix^ V* ^Q gg^ jjj^yg ladies or nurses to work 
measles raging through the m the hospital, and thus reUeve the 
camp at the time, and the trained nurses of a great deal ctfwony 
children died in hundreds of ^^ oveistrain. 
the complications which fol- cd, 810 o 61 "^^•^^""^•" 
lowed — bronchitis, pleurisy, and 

bronchial pneumonia. For the month of June we had no less 
than 137 deaths, an appalling death-rate for a population of not 
quite 5,000 people, and of these quite 100 were of children under 
5 years of age. Now that pneumonia has set in, I am afraid the 
death-rate will increase. 

"The following is an extract from the doctor's report for the 
month of June 1901 — 

" * For the month there has been a high death-rate, due — 

" * I. To the very severe epidemic of measles. 

"*2. To the great difference between temperatures in the 
tents during day and night. This is especially detrimental to 
the chances of measle cases. 

"•3. To the superstition and aversion many have to fresh 
air and water. 

" * 4. Camp life, to which the people are unaccustomed. 

" * 5. Diet is spare and fresh milk absent, the meat very often 
being unfit for consumption. 

" * 6. No fresh vegetables obtainable. 

" * 7. Orders for drugs and medical comforts take a long time 
in being executed, and then are not fully executed according to 
order — this resulting in our running short of necessary foods and 
important medicines. 

" * Sanitary arrangements are well carried out on the whole. 
The water supplied from one source to six tanks in the camp, 
and is fairly good after analysis.' 

" There is one thing they forgot to mention, a very important 
item, the over-crowding of the tents. During the whole of May 
I had 20 people in one of my 

tents— 3 famiUes : Bronkhorst, . "J^^''''!'^^''''^l^tr^'^^i^ ' V 

■o '^^i^J: J fr^ i. 'J in the ward under Miss Van Warmelo 

Pnnsloo, and Venter, 3 mamed ... was much worse than any other 

women with 17 children, and portion of the camp. In some of the 

though I reported it frequently, tents there is distinct over-crowding. 

I could not get another tent ^^ ^'^^ *«"*» ^^', instance, there are 

fry^ ^u^^ AA^^ j« — u^« two women — Mrs. Bronkhurst and 

for them. Afterwards, when Mrs. Prinsloo-and nine children. 

measles broke out amongst Someofthe children are insufficiently 


them, there were 1 1 people clad ; all poorly. In another tent 

down at the same time, 2 '^^"^, "'^ ^^'f9 ^"''l'^^ (Venters, 

women and 9 children packed ^^T^Tn ^i^r^^j:^% T^ 

in rows like herrmgs, with measles. Two children died last 

hardly standing room for any- week. One is still very ill and not 

one else between them. They ''^^'^ '" ',^5?"^^^' ,. 

all recovered from the measles' "^Km p.'';6^"'°'"' '' 

but 2 of the children have 

died from complications that followed afterwards. In another 

tent I had 19 people, 5 women and 14 children; and in dozens 

of others I had from tz to 15. 

"Some of my tents were the oblong ones, lined, but the 
majority were bell-shaped and unlined, bitterly cold at night and 
intensely warm during the day. Even in the winter the heal 
during the day is almost unbearable in those bell-tents, what 
will it be like in our tropical summer ? I slept in one of them 
myself two nights, and know what it means. I made many 
complaints about the overcrowding, and earned for myself the 
name of ' Agitator.' Once I appealed directly to the Governor, 
General Maxwell, but he said there was nothing to be done, and 
that the empty tents would be required for new arrivals. The 
General has always been most courteous and kind, and I believe 
has done all he could to improve matters, but his power is limited 
apparently, and I find that in most cases it is quite useless to 
appeal to him. 

" In the Johannesburg Camp not more than 4 are allowed 
to sleep in a tent, and there they have large public ovens where 
the women can bake, and boilers always full of boiling water, 
and public baths where the women can bathe. \Vhy then should 
there be made so much difference at Irene ? We have none of 
those comforts, and when I spoke to the Superintendent Scholtz 
about it, he said that the Irene people were of the worst sort, 
a class utterly unused to any of the comforts of life ; that they 
were far better ofT in the camp than they could ever have been 
in their own homes, 

" // is not true. Some of them are undoubtedly quite without 
education, but the majority of them are the families of rich 
farmers, accustomed to every comfort and even luxury of civilisa- 
tion, to food of the most wholesome and nourishing description, 
to fine homes and warm clothing. The reason why so many of 
them reached the camp in a state of utter destitution is because 
they were torn from their homes in great haste, with nothing but 
the clothes they had on. A few were allowed to take some 
bedding and a few bits of furniture, but these are exceptional 

WOMEN IN 1901 186 

cases. Many of these people were poverty-stricken through 
having been cut off from all communication with the world 
nearly a year, since the occupation of Pretoria. They were out 
of clothing, but never knew what it meant to be hungry, for they 
have always had more than enough to eat and drink. 

" The absence of their men on commando made no difference 
to them, sowing and ploughing and reaping went on as usual, 
under the superintendence of the women, who were better off 
for native servants during the war than in times of peace, because 
the Kaffirs were afraid of the Boers, and eager to remain on 
friendly terms with them, and there was no difficulty whatever 
in procuring as much labour as was required. 

"Throughout the whole war the attitude of the natives has 
been most favourable, and it is only in the districts occupied by 
British troops that they became insolent and aggressive. 

" The censorship is very severe, and we know next to nothing 
of what takes place in the outside world, but now and then some 
paper comes in — no one knows how — ^and in this way I have 
found out that the general opinion in England is that these 
families have voluntarily placed themselves under British pro- 
tection, and left their homes for fear of the natives. Nothing 
can be more untrue. There- were only a few families in lonely 
districts who had anything to fear from the Kaffirs, and they may 
have fled to the towns for safety; but not one woman that I 
know of — and I have had to do with hundreds — asked to be 
placed in a camp in a tent without proper food and clothing. 

" I see also that there is a great cry that these people should 
be sent back to their farms without delay. That is quite im- 
possible. Their homes have been burnt down to the ground, 
their crops ruined, their trees cut down; all is desolation and 
blackness throughout the land. 

" No ; England must go through what she has undertaken, 
and what we demand now is proper and sufficient food. Our 
people were well able to support themselves, they asked for 
nothings but now that they have been ruined and deprived of 
all their worldly possessions, the least they can have a right to 
expect is that their life in camp is made bearable. 

" It is terrible to think of the poverty in store for them after 
the war. Many women told me that they saw the natives carry- 
ing away their furniture, wantonly destroying what they could 
not remove, ripping up eiderdowns, bolsters, and feather mat- 
tresses, and scattering their contents to the winds, slaughtering 
pigs and fowls, and generally carrying on the work of destruction 
begun by the troops. . . . Albums were cut up, pianos, stoves. 


etc., hammered to a thousand pieces under their very eyes; 
all the treasured relics of a lifetime were trampled in the 

"But more than all, the women and children suffered in 
their journey to the camps, Exposed, in some cases, for twenty 
days to all the inclemencies of the weather, often for days with- 
out food or water, insulted and bullied . . . objects of scorn 
and derision to every chance passer-by, is it any wonder that they 
are broken-spirited, broken in constitution, crushed and dull with 
the apathy of despair and of helpless misery ? And yet, in my 
dealings with them, I was continually impressed by their patience 
and fortitude, their willingness to suffer and die with their 
children, rather than say one word to induce their husbands to 

"So much has been said about the rations they receive, that 
I doubt whether I can give you any information on the subject. 
I know that a few improvements have been made at Irene lately, 
but still things are very bad. No child can thrive on a diet con- 
sisting of J lb. flour and one bottle of watery milk daily, and that 
is what all children under five get ; and then no salt, no fat is 
provided, flour baked with water and nolkiHg else. Their elders 
get I lb, flour daily and 2 lbs. meat weekly, as well as a little coffee 
and sugar. Lately the meat has always been unfit for use, and is 
getting worse every day. They cannot even make soup of it, 
even if they had something to put into the soup. We were 
always allowed to write orders for rice, sago, barley, maizena, soap 
and candles, as ' medical comforts ' in case of sickness, but when 
the dispensary was generally out of everything it was no use 
whatever writing orders. And we were for three weeks without 
a grain of rice or barley. Some- 
times for a week or ten days ■■ :„ aU ihcse tents, poverty, diit, 
there was not a drop of castor and ignorance reign supreme. ... To 
or cod-liver oil to be had, and ^^^ ^^^ *•"" (°f ^^^ ^^^^ chUdren) it 
the people had ,o go without. -""' &.SS1£'°3n",,?.' S 

" 1 hat clause in the doctors wonder is not that so many die, but 
report about want of cleanliness that any recover. . . . The high 
is absurd. I can believe that death-r;- 
enteric and malaria are caused 
by dirt and neglect, but cer- 
tainly not pneumonia, pleurisy, 
and bronchitis — and that is 
what they are dying of. In all 
the time that I was at Irene I 
did not have a single death 

. is in DO way due t< 

or dereliction of duty 

on the pait of those responsible for 

this camp. It is in my opinion due 

lo the people themselves, lo theii 

dirty habits , . . to their rooted 

objection 10 soap and Water, etc. etc. 

" Dr. Kential Franks," 

(After a seven hours' inspection.) 

Cd. 819, p. 166. 

WOMEN IN 1901 187 

from typhoid, but I am afraid that when summer comes and no 
'alterations have been made, there will be an epidemic of fever. 
Most of my tents are very clean, as clean as can be expected 
where the people live in pulverised dust, when all they possess is 
on the ground, and they have no soap to wash with. When the 
dispensary is out of candles the sick have to lie in the dark. I 
know of a woman in my ward, Mrs. Pretorius, who had five 
children down with dysentery, and she was up all night with 
them without light, and she had not a bit of soap with which 
she could cleanse their soiled linen, until I was able to help her 
out of a private store sent to us by kind friends in Pretoria. 
Our appeal for help met with so much success, that we were 
obliged afterwards to get a separate tent for our stores, with 
which we were enabled to relieve a great deal of the misery, but 
it would require a million of money to make life in camp 
endurable for women and children. 

" The hospital, which is situated on a site a little way from 
the camp, is under the charge of English nurses and an English 
doctor, and is consequently in very little favour with the Boers. 
We seldom succeeded in persuading the women to allow their 
children to be sent there, which was a great pity, because the 
hospital patients have every care and comfort. Wlien there are 
quite 500 serious cases in camp, there are from 15 to 20 
in hospital, never more, and many of these are brought in by 
force or after much persuasion. 

"We six volunteers had nothing whatever to do with the 
hospital — our work lay in the camp, and was unique in its way, 
for it brought us into daily contact with the people in their 
home-life. Every morning I went from tent to tent in my ward, 
one row up and another row down, issuing orders for milk, 
medicine, and food where necessary, making notes of the serious 
cases, to which I had to bring the doctor in the afternoon, 
encouraging, comforting, advising — no wonder the people 
regarded our daily visit as the one bright spot in their dreary 

" I had at least 150 tents in my ward, over 700 people ; and 
in one week I had 107 measles cases to report. It seems 
impossible for one person to undertake such a task, but of 
course the patients are much neglected and the nurses terribly 
over-worked, and yet we cannot get permission for more than 
six volunteers at a time. We relieve one another as frequently 
as possible. I hear on reliable authority that scurvy has broken 
out at some of the camps, and I dread to think what the condition 
of the people will be after another month or two of this life." 


Miss Antoinette Van Brockhuizen relates an incident, 
one of many, which shows how unwillingly the women were 
brought in. The letter is dated Pretoria, September 14, 

" Yesterday I visited the women's camp close to Pretoria, 

to bring some necessaries. While there some women from 

Zwartru^ies were brought in. Mrs. Vorster, a young women of 

twenty-three years, with two children, the wife of one of our 

Volksraad members, was among them, She told me they had 

fled for three days trying to escape from being captured At last 

the English surrounded them and opened fire on them. She 

got a bullet through her arm. She had lost an enormous lot 

of blood, and when she told me this she was as pale as a 


f After the expulsion of the volunteer nurses by the Ladies' 

} Commission, it became increasingly difficult to obtain leave to 

L see Irene Camp or to take relief to the people. Disquieted by 

I rumours of the great sickness of October, Mrs, Joubert, widow 

^ of the General, made various efforts, and after obtaining a permit 

wrote thus — 

"Till now not a soul has been allowed to visit the camps; 
but yesterday, after much trouble and innumerable applications, 
I at last obtained admission to the Irene Camp. I was desirous 
lo see and hear for myself, after the frightful reports we were 
continually getting from there. And, indeed, it is awful, this 
distress in every degree and kind. Infinitely more terrible than 
it had been painted, and more awful than the wildest imaginings 
can picture ! The people are dying like flies, of starvation, 
exposure, and disease. It is impossible to reahse the condition 
and the sufferings of the women and children. Typhus is raging 
everywhere. We are having an exceptionally wet summer, and 
heavy rains fall frequently in the evening, and again at midnight 
All who know the Transvaal know these fierce storms. As the 
camps are generally situated on sloping ground, the water beats 
with the force of a torrent against the sides of the tents, flooding 
the whole place. Standing in deep water, the imfottunate 
creatures have to clutch their poor belongings, bedclothes, etc., 
to prevent their being carried away in the storm. Afterwards, 
they have to lie down to rest in several inches of mud. If the 
war lasts another year, not a woman or child will be left. The 
world knows this, and yet the mighty ones of the earth look 
on at these cruels murders, this barbarous slaughter, , . . The 
conditions in the Transvaal camps are worse than anywhere else; 

WOMEN IN 1901 189 

for everything we are at the mercy of these barbarians. No one 
is allowed to tend the sick except the willing tools of the officials. 
The men are fighting a heroic fight, and will never give in; 
the only result of all they hear about the awful mortality 
among their families is to strengthen them in endurance, 
determination, and courage. The burning of farms still con- 
tinues. Armed Kaffirs in thousands are fighting in the English 

On this same occasion, and with Mrs. Joubert, went the 
Australian lady, Mrs. Dickenson, whose account follows, re- 
printed from the South Australian Advertiser : — 

"The day before yesterday I visited the burgher camp at 
Irene, about half an hour by train from Pretoria, having first 
obtained a permit from the Governor-General. Previously I had 
been introduced to a Mrs. Honey, whose niece was formerly one 
of the voluntary nurses in the camp, and she promised to act as 
my interpreter. She told me that old Mrs. Joubert, the widow 
of the General, was also going down. Irene had been described 
to me as one of the worst camps so far as the mortality of the 
children was concerned, but as I had found that Miss Hobhouse's 
suggestion as to allowing them tinned milk had been adopted at 
Merebank, Maritzburg, and Howick, I was astonished to find 
that at Irene the rations were on a much lower scale. No con- 
densed milk is allowed here as a regulation ration for a child 
unless it is ill ; and then, instead of giving the mother a tin and 
allowing her to mix it, it is served out diluted, and of course 
quickly becomes sour. I saw some terrible instances of emacia- 
tion among children which could only be matched by the famine- 
stricken people of India. One photograph I took of a child of 
five years, the skin hardly covers the bones. It was not in 
hospital and had no disease ; it was simply wasting from improper 
food. After taking this child's photograph, I was told another 
mother would like to have her child photographed, as she thought 
it could not live long, but on reaching the tent I found the poor 
little thing had died. 

" The rations for a woman and three children for a week (I 
saw them) are two small tins of bully-beef, i lb. of unroasted 
coffee, 7 lbs. of flour, and 3^ lbs. of mealies (Indian com). At 
Irene coals instead of wood (two buckets a week) are supplied, 
and the women have built clay ovens for baking their bread. 
No soap, candles, or matches are allowed as rations. Those 
families who have any money buy them, but the destitute go 
without Mrs. Joubert, who allowed me to take a photograph 

of her in the camp, is very kind to the poor families at Irene, 
but with 4000 people it would take a larger income than hera 
to supply them with what they require. The Dutch Govern- 
ment have sent out a Relief Committee. (I was introduced to the 
secretary yesterday.) He told me the young Queen of Holland 
was personally much interested in it. The stipulation made is 
that they are to give no relief in camp unless to individual 
cases. Clothes, etc., are not to be handed over to the superin- 
tendent. This has debarred them from several camps where 
distribution to families except through the superintendent is 
forbidden. Colonel Pickwood, Commanding the military camp 
adjoining Irene burgher camp, told me that a couple of nights 
before, under cover of a dark stormy night, a party of fighting 
Boers broke into the burgher camp, but some of the Boer police, 
who have been organised to watch, gave him notice, and the 
troops were sent to dear them out. The soldiers fired on them, 
but apparently without effect. This incident shows how daring 
they are, and what constant supervision is needed. So far as 
their moral conduct is concerned, Colonel Pickwood gives a very 
good accountof the Boer women. He says they behave in a quiet, 
dignified manner, and he has no difficulty in regard to the 

A friend has forwarded to mc an extract from the letter ot 
a young officer's wife, the latest unofficial description of that 
camp — 

"Pretohta, Da. 1901. 

"No one can realise till they have seen a camp what a 
wonderful work this is of ours. The letters of protest that appear 
in the Enghsh papers seem so wholly irrelevant. 'Tis such a 
huge and magnificent undertaking, this housing and feeding of 
all our new subjects, that the petty holes that are picked in the 
system seem nothing. As to the mortabty, it is proved over and 
over again that if only the Boers would consent to be doctored 
by the first-rate doctors provided for them, instead of waiting till 
they are at death's door for their own remedies, and then coming 
to the doctors and giving them the blame, it would be a very 
different thing." 

Quite early in the year the mortality at Johannesburg had 
aroused attention. A lady who signs her name was moved to 
write thus to the superintendent, suggesting the reason for the 
state of affairs. Camps differed widely, but in many there 
lacked the sympathitic service she questions as existing in 

WOMEN IN 19»1 in 

Letter to Mr. W. K. Tucker, General Superintendent.^ 

<< Johannesburg, yiKM^ 6, 1901. 

"The information, sent by you from time to time to the 
local Gazette^ about the cases of death which happen in the 
camp is of a sad and heart-rending nature, so sad, indeed, that 
one feels shocked and is overwhelmed widi profound sadness, 
which makes it altogether impossible to look on quiedy ahd 
passively when things are in such a horrible condition. 

" Any one looking over these lists carefully, and considering 
the causes of death, can draw no other conclusion from them 
than that there is something quite wrong here. 

" Is it owing to the sanitary condition ? No, it is not. The 
active, energetic superintendent did what was possible in this case. 

"Is it want of proper food? No, it is not I repeat that 
the superintendent, according to his duty and conscience, tried 
to make an improvement in the miserable food, such as it was, 
before he took upon himself the government of the place. 

"Is it owing to bad housing or insufficient clothing? On 
this head much can be said for the superintendent, who did his 
best to arrange everything. In this respect he met with many 
difficulties, owing to the state of affairs as it was under a former 

" There is, however, another and more serious question yet 
to answer — 

" Is it owing to a want of qualified medical assistance, or a 
want of sympathetic service of doctors and nurses ? 

"It is rather difficult to answer this question, considering 
there is but one doctor to look after the whole camp, consisting 
of between 3,000 and 3,500 persons, the greater part of them 
being children; considering that this doctor declares that he 
carmot treat all the cases of illness ; that the greater number of 
cases is of such a nature that they need not end in death, or of 
a nature that, reasonably, patients can and may be expected 
to recover; that one knows that this doctor had only a small 
number of patients where he practised last, and employed his 
time in diamond washing ; that this doctor is not only imsym- 
pathetic, but also rude to the wretches imder his supervision; 
that one further learns that patients are beaten in the hospital, 
that the treatment of these people is hostile, and that there is no 
compassion or pity shown them; that the medical assistance 
to be given to old people, weak ones, and convalescents is 
restricted; that he scoffs at the religion of the burghers and 

^ From the Daily News. 


their public worship; that he does not isolate serious cases of 
contagious diseases, as he should do, and as was to be expected 
that he should do, after the warning he lately got by experience. 

" If, moreover, we consider that the greater number of deaths 
were owing to trifling indispositions, not dangerous in themselves, 
which people consider at home so trifling that they will cure 
themselves, then certainly the time has come that a change be 
brought about in the camp. 

"Under these circumstances, dear Sir, I appeal to your 
feelings of humanity and justice, and beg you to taie into serious 
consideration the condition of the women and children, who have 
been dragged from their homes without any reason but that they 
greatly love their native country ; who are now obliged to live 
together under such circumstances, while at least a kind and 
sympathetic treatment by doctors and nurses might be expected. 
I kindly request you at the same time to carefully examine into 
this affair, as a death-rate of 170 persons a week, in the $,S°° 
people, is a condition which certainly should not exist. — I am, 
your obedient servant, Jessie Brandon." 

One of the most diligent workers from the beginning of 
troubles for the relief of the women was the minister at 
Johannesburg, the Rev. G. P. Meiring, who, writing to the 
Committee in Holland, says — 

"July 2s. 

" To answer your question about the condition of the camp 
is rather difficult if I do not want this letter to be kept back. 
I can, however, say this much, that, owing to the ardent zeal and 
liberal assistance received from hospitable Holland in the first 
place, and no less so from Germany and Switzerland, and even 
from England, the sufferings of our people have been much 
relieved, but the camps, considering they are ever on the increase, 
are We a grave., ever crying : Give 1 Give ! 

" There is much want, nay, crying want, in some camps, The 
money is spent in providing for real want. An influential 
English lady (the wife of Professor Rendel Harris, Cambridge), in 
whose company I visited several camps in the land, was re- 
peatedly much affected by the critical condition of some camps, 
especially when Death swept away his prey in such lar^e numbers. 
It is such an agreeable task to be able to do something for 
these poor sufferers." 

Nurse Geijer and Nurse Broers, two of the ladies who 
went from Holland to nurse in the camps, wrote home to 

WOMEN IN 1901 198 

their Committee at the Hague from Kimberley and Norval's 

Nurse Geijer writes — 

« KiMBBRLBY, May 1901. 

" The way in which the measles are raging here is terrible, 
whereas almost all the children suffer from lung disease on 
account of cold, bad food and bedding. Warm clothing is 
much needed here. 

" The cold is intense here ; every evening I suffer much fh)m 
cold, and then think what these poor little fellows, with hardly 
any stockings on their feet or clothes on their backs, must suffer. 

"I live on rations, and receive a cupful of ground coffee 
and a cupful of sugar once a week ; it is understood that I get 
some meat every day, but they often forget to give it me. The 
Major one day asked me how I had got here, and I told him that 
I had been sent by a Committee. He asked me whether I 
received any salary from the Committee. I said, *No.' He 
said, 'Shall we give you some salary?* I said, *No; our work 
is done disinterestedly.* Some three or four days afterwards 
he came back, and says, * Sister, I have received orders to pay 
you 5s. a day for food, as the rations are not sufficient for you.' 

" I shall be very glad to learn from the Committee whether 
they have any objection to my accepting this money, for the 
rations are not sufficient at all. 

"The disease is spreading here day by day, and I should 
like to have another nurse with me. To-day a girl was sent to 
help me. How much I should like to see God put an end to all 
this misery, for it is as bad as bad can be to have neither hearth 
nor house. 

"There is an excellent German doctor here who feels very 
much for his patients.** 

A few weeks later she continues — 

''July 19. 

" The condition of the camps here is sad in the highest degree ; 
the number of people is now about 4,000. Want is greatly felt, and 
increases daily. In my first letter I requested that another skilful 
nurse should be sent, as more help is really wanted here. Last 
week we had nineteen deaths, so that you will understand that I am 
sorely tasked. Some toys sent for recovering children would be 
received with great gratitude. This morning at four o'clock a 
large tent was burned down, into which a number of women and 
diildren had moved at midnight A little boy of five years was 
burned, and the shoulders and cheeks of the mother weie injured 



by the fire. Two boys got seriously wounded. One of these 
two is not likely to recover. Whatever they had been able to 
carry off from the farm, as beds, blankets, and some money, was 
also lost. So one sad event here succeeds another. Not to be 
affected by what is suffered here one's heart must be of stone." 

After improvements had been inaugurated, Miss Monkhouse;, 
acting for the South African Distress Fund in Kimberley, writes 
(October 31) — 

" As far as I can judge, no effort is spared by the author- 
ities here to ameliorate the condition of the inmates of this 

" From the time we arrived up till now, things have been 
steadily improving. We did not set these improvements going, 
we came to find them begun— and they have been continued ever 
since, so that the condition of this camp has been steadily 
improving during the last three months. The terrible epidemic 
which was raging when we came is over. Soup kitchens have 
been started to give soup, with vegetables in, to the children who 
are at al! weakly, and 1 believe about ninety children are now 
receiving soup. A tennis and cricket set are the latest additions 
to the camp from Government, We have a minister resident here 
whose sole duty is lo attend to the spiritual needs of the camp, 

" We have fenced in a small piece of ground just round our 
tents for a garden, but it is only small, and can in no way meet 
the needs of the camp. Still it may be of a little use, and possibly 
can help to supply a need for the sick people. 

" The hospital accommodation here is, I consider, good under 
the circumstances, and will probably be even more extended .... 
The sand-storms are the worst. We had a terrible one yesterday, 
the worst yet." 

Nurse Broers had the more comfortable conditions of Nerval's 
Pont to describe — 

"June 8, igoi. 

"On Saturday last, in the midst of a terrible storm and 
shower of sand, five hundred new-comers arrived in the ramp, 
among whom an old lady. The lower part of her body is lame, 
so that she has missed tiie use of her legs for the last thirteen 
years. She had brought with her her Kaffir girt, who, however, 
had stolen all the things and money the old lady had with her, 
and had then turned her back upon her mistress. 

" The Commander did not know what to do with her, and 
sent for me. It was a terrible thing to see her when I entered 
the bare, empty tent in which they had set her down. With hardly 

WOMEN IN 1901 195 

any clothes on, she had been fastened upon an old cart. I took her 
with me to the hospital tents, but one can hardly believe what the 
old lady, once so rich, has had to suffer. 

"We rise in the morning at six, and the first thing I do is to 
note down the temperature of my patients ; then I help them to 
wash themselves, etc., and do whatever else there is to be done 
for patients suffering from typhus, measles, and lung-disease. At 
eight o'clock they get their breakfasts, which, in the case of most 
patients, consist of warm milk with an egg. Those who may have 
more food I give first a plateful of gruel, and then some bread, 
coffee, and an egg, which is quite a sufficient meal for these. At 
eleven they get a tumbler of milk, and at one, soup, rice, meat, and 
pudding ; at three o'clock, once more a glass of milk ; and at six, 
the same as at breakfast. 

"You'll understand that the patients get sufficient food, 
though the way in which the other people in the camp (there 
are 2,900 of them now) are treated is quite different 

"The number of deaths is large, principally among the 
children. If I were allowed to write down everything, I would 
have a strange story to tell. The want of warm clothing, 
stockings, and shoes grows daily upon us, and among the persons 
of this camp there are those who have been prisoners here for 
about six months, and were not allowed to take any clothing with 
them but what they were wearing at the time when they were 
picked up." 

When the camp increased in size it was not so comfortable. 
Miss Broers continues — 


" It is a hard life we lead here at present. The necessary food 
is hardly for sale here, and whatever you can get is difficult to 
digest. Of late my hospital has been quite full, and as the 
camp now numbers over 3,000 persons, five large tents with 
thirty beds will presently be added to the others. What you hear 
here is complaints ; what you see, misery. Much of the money I 
received has been spent on poor sufferers, who are ill and have 
hardly clothes upon their backs ; everything, however, is as bad 
as it is expensive." 

Letter from Minister of Aliwal North Camp. 

''Sept. 1901. 
"When I arrived here I found a large outstretched camp, 
containing about 5,000 souls, and still ox-waggons bringing in 
more were constantly arriving. 


** The awakening desire to hear God's Word is great. Scarcely 
b early prayer on Sundays concluded ere the people bqg;in to 
carry their stools, and so make sure of places at the lo o'clock 
service. The church is quite too small for the congregation. 
Two hours before the time the stream churchward begins; an 
hour before service an elder announces that every seat is already 
occupied ; half an hour later there is no chance of even getting 
near the door, and the churchwarden comes to say, * You may 
safely begin, sir ; there is no room for even a mouse ! ' 

" I r^et to say that during this month my health has been 
far from good, and has sorely hindered me in my work. Thank 
God, the sore sickness that raged amongst the children during July 
and August has almost entirdy ceased. . . . There is still much 
sickness, and the minister is in continual request at sickbeds and 
deathbeds. Here is a girl of about eleven years old, who wants 
*so sorely to see the minister.' But the minister himself is ill, 
and forbidden to leave his tent Presently he sees a sick person 
on a stretcher who is being carried to the hospital He finds out 
it is the same little girl who so greatly desired to see him. The 
bearers bring her first to the tent of the Dominie ; he says a few 
words to her, and she is carried away content to the hospital 
Then there is a father sufifering from a deadly complaint firom 
whom it can no longer be hidden that his end is approaching. 
He must be taught and helped and comforted. In the next 
tent lies a little sick child; the mother relates with streaming 
eyes how she has already lost two children, and now a third is 
hovering between life and death. Her husband — ^her stay — is 
away in far Ceylon. Under such circumstances the minister can 
with difficulty restrain his tears. Here it is almost literally true 
* there was not a house where there was not one dead.' Most 
people are clad in black — the hearse passes constantly." 

A few lines from Bloemfontein show the improvements in 
that camp effected in June and July. It is a letter to myself 
from Miss Fleck, of the local committee at Bloemfontein. In 
company with Mrs. Blignaut and others, this lady's self-denyii^ 
work will be long remembered by women of that camp. Like 
the Pretoria ladies, this committee's work and visits were 

" Bloemfontein, Au^^. 22. 

" The camp has been divided into two now ; the one part is 
situated ovtt the kopje behind the commandant's tent, and the 
other over the donga to the li^t of the tent, a very nice, dear 
sweep of ground. 

WOMEN IN 1901 197 

" The camp is a gem to what it was when you were here. 

"The present superintendent and his assistant take great 
interest in the welfare of the people. . . 

"The death-rate has been high in this camp, and as it is 
thought that most die from measles, the lower hut has been 
knocked into one, and six large stoves set in to heat it. I 
believe it is now quite full with patients; the women are as 
willing to send their children to this hospital as they were 
unwilling to send them to the other. The material for the 
wash-house has arrived, and the men have started it. 

" I go to the camp about once a weeL" 

Water supply was always a prime difficulty in this camp, 
but "now," writes one of the ministers, "pipes have been laid 
on to the camp. Just now, however, it is brought in water- 
carts from the station 2\ miles away, and about half is spilt 
in the bringing. Yesterday a terrific hailstorm passed over 
the camp — one hailstone weighed 2 J lbs. Some tents were 
blown down, and others were blown away by a tremendous 
gust of wind. This sad fate also befell my tent, and my books 
were much damaged." 

Another vivid sketch of his work and his people is supplied 
by the Dominie of a more northern camp. 

"Vredefort Road, 5'<f//. 1901. 
" I find the work overwhelmingly great. Happily the Lord 
has put it into the hearts of some of the brothers to stand by 
me, both to assist me in the services and in visiting the sick and 
bedridden. As you can imagine, in a camp of 2,000 souls one 
finds a great variety of character. The majority show a spirit of 
patient endurance, but some have grown careless and indiffer- 
ent, and are hardened under the chastisement of the Lord. It 
greatly distresses me to find that while four or five corpses are being 
committed to the earth, at a short distance from the burial- 
place a crowd of people will have gathered for sports. But 
while there is much to sadden there is much also to gladden. 
I have stood beside many a deathbed where in almost every 
case the language of the dying was the triumph-cry of the 
Apostle Paul, * Death, where is thy sting ? ' Thus I have seen 
the promise fulfilled that for the dying death has indeed lost 
its sting. The Sunday services are very well attended, and 
there is great need of a roomy church. There are also very 
few seats, and the effect is strange and primitive to see each 
person stepping along with Bible and Psdm-book in hand, and 
in many cases a queer little stool on the back. At the con- 


elusion of the service each departs with his little load, doubtless 
fearing some mischievous lad may carry off the rare and much 
prized article . . . The camp is neat and clean under the wise 
care of the superintendent, who does all in his power to soften 
and improve the lot of the people. The streets are regularly 
laid out, and the camp is under the charge of corporals — they 
being our own people. The health of the camp might be 
better than it is, and there are deaths daily. Yesterday soup 
kitchens for the sick and weak were started, and this will doubt- 
less do much to improve the health of the people, for there is 
great need of softer and more suitable food for the sick. There 
is a sufficiency of bread and meat, but vegetables are sorely 
needed, and it will be easily understood that there is much 
sickness owing to the monotony of the food." 

Ladies sent out by the Society of Friends thus write of their 
religious work at VolksrusL I quote from Tht Friend of August 
30, 1901— 

"This morning (Sunday) we all went to the Concentration 
Camp at 10,30, and found a crowd of about 3,000 persons 
assembled for the service. There were quite too many for the 
building to contain, which does duty as a church and school, so 

they assembled in the open air, Mr, began by giving out 

a hymn, which was most heartily joined in by the great crowd, 
and he then read some portions of Scripture which had been 
selected by Mrs. H. It was most impressive to hear them sing 
in their slow, measured way the old Dutch Psalms. Then in a 
few words he introduced her to the assembly, and told them also 
about us and our being members of the Society of Friends, 
'sometimes called Quakers,' and that we had come amongst 
them in the love of God to tell them how much we felt for them, 
and to bring them what comfort and help we could in their time 
of great sorrow. Then Mrs. H. spoke to them most beautifully 
and tenderly of that great love which broke down all divisions, 
in which, as the Apostie said, there was neither Jew nor Greek, 
and she might say to them there was neither British nor Boer, 
we were all one in Christ. And down those rugged cheeks the 
tears simply poured as she spoke to them of the great love of 
Christ which had constrained Him to leave His throne in heaven 
and suffer cold and hunger and anguish as no human being 
ever suffered, and die that we might live, and being acquainted 
with human sorrow and grief He could comfort as no one else 
could do, and then she pleaded with them to come in all their 
sorrow and their trials to Him, the God of all comfort. 

WOMEN IN 1901 199 

" It was one of the most touching scenes I have ever wit- 
nessed. Miss T. spoke for % short time when Mrs. H. had 
finished, then there was another hymn. A service was announced 
for children at 2.30, to which older children might come if they 
wished, the benediction was pronounced, and then that vast 
crowd came up and shook hands with each of us, murmuring 
* God bless you,' * Thank you.' Some were completely broken 
down. One woman said to me, * I have been Uving for myself, 
now I will live for God.' I never witnessed anything to compare 

with this, and feel quite unable to describe it. Mr. told 

me afterwards that a man had said to him, 'I never thought 
there was any one in England cared for us as these ladies do.' 

"... At 2.30 Miss T. went back to the camp. A still 
greater crowd had gathered. The children were all in the front 
and centre, such a mass of them, and the older people all round. 
I have never seen such good children, or any who stood and sat 
so quietly as these. . . . 

"The nights are extremely cold. We sleep in our thick 
sleeping-bags, with warm wraps over the bed as well, and yet 
it is cold. Oh, what must the poor people in the tents 
suffer! ..." 

Mrs. Dickenson relates an incident at Volksrust, which, she 
says, rather surprised her — 

" A smart young woman in a Panama hat, but a nurse's cape, 
began to talk to one of the passengers in my carriage while the 
train was waiting, and told him she was a nurse at the Concentra- 
tion Camp there. She remarked in a loud tone, ' I don't know 
one little bit about nursing — never did it in my life.' *How 
did you get in ? ' said her friend. * Oh, I just spoke nicely to 
the doctors, so they engaged me, and I haven't killed anybody 
yet' This, combined with an account I read to-day in a paper 
here of the trial of a dispenser in a camp near Bloemfontein for 
killing three children by giving them an overdose of strychnine, 
accounts for some of the mortality among the people in these 

There was, no doubt, often carelessness as well as great ignor- 
ance amongst the staff of a camp, but in the instance referred 
to by Mrs. Dickenson it should be mentioned that the accused 
was discharged. 

"The trial has just been concluded by the Criminal Court 
at Bloemfontein of the chief dispenser to the Bloemfontein 
Refugee Camp» who was accused of improperly dispensing a 
preparation of strychnine so as to cause the death of three 


children of refugees. After a most minute inquiry, lasting a 
week, the accused was discharged. The most stringent regula- 
tions are in force in reference to medicines, doctors, and nurses, 
to prevent any mistake."— Through LafTan's Agency.^ 

Of many far-off camps there is no unofficial description — only 
sometimes a few tines like this from Mr. Theunissen, the 
clergyman who distributed relief for the Holland Committee : — 

Extracts from Letters to Committee in Holland. 
" Standerton, Oct. i8. 

" As I informed you by letter, I have already received from 
you ;^i75. A considerable part of the money I spent on 
medicine. Death has ravaged the camps fearfully. During 
the last six months people died here at the rale of thirty-two 
per hundred a year. We hope and trust that some improvement 
will set in, though the minimum of deaths during the last 
fortnight was ten persons a day, whereas the number of 
inhabitants of the camp is now only 1,850, 

"The camp at Pietersburg was opened about May of this 
year. Only little by little the number of persons sent there 
reached the number of 4,000. And from May till the latter part 
of October already about 500 persons had died there." 

One of the saddest of all the camps has been Bethulie,* of 
which a lady, who visited a sick relation there, tells the following 
incidents, forwarded to me by the Committee at Cape Town : — 

" A man who had been rich before the war sent for the doctor, 
told him of how he had been weakened by privations and ex- 
posure, and begged for a little brandy ; he was sure that that 
would make him all right, The doctor gave the certificate for 
the brandy, which the man took to the otRce, and was curtly 
ordered to be gone. Nest day, when the doctor visited him, 
he was surprised that the man had not received the brandy, 
and went with him to the office, where both were ordered to 
leave at once, 'But,' pleaded the doctor, 'the man will die 
if he does not get a Ottle brandy.' ' Oh, let him die, he is only 
a Boer!' And he died. 

" When the people came begging for a candle in order to 
have a light with their sick ones, they were ordered off, even when 
there were boxes of candles which had been sent by the 

^ Manchisler Guardian, Dec, 14, 1901. 

'Compare Cd. 902, p, 127. "IJec. 10, I have dismissed the super- 
intendent fM apathy." — Depu^ AdminiBlrator. 

WOMEN IN 1901 


Committee from Cape Town, and when the Ladies' Local 
Committee begged for a few to distribute, they were refused as 
often as not, or given a little 

"The village was out of bounds 
for the camp, and there was said to 
be no going backwards and forwards 
without passes." — Cd. 893, p. 6a 

'* The supply of coffins at one time 
had been short, and the dead had 
been buried in blankets, the same as 
soldiers who die in military hospitals. 
The people feel this very much, and 
the supply of coffins was obtained 
again as soon as possible. "^-Gi. 8931 
p. 58. 

bit, or made to pay. (Of course 
nothing was allowed from Beth- 
ulie town to the camp.) 

"When the people had to 
make coffins for their dead, 
no arrangements were made 
for an adequate supply of 
wood. As often as not, there 
was nothing to be had ; many 
a wealthy man or woman had 
a coffin knocked together from 
bits of candle and soap boxes bought at exorbitant prices, 
but *most of our beloved dead,' a lady told me, 'had to be 
consigned to the earth wrapped in khaki blankets,^ oh, it hurt 
us terribly ! ' . . . The two clerks, a De Villiers and a Percival, 
were inhuman, and made fun of the jsuflferings. They are both dead. 

"Of course the head-superintendent was horrified over all 
this, and since his visit things have, thank God, been better. 
But picture yourself standing with me and a few others as we 
stood in the graveyard there. Mr. Otto said, *Lookl here I 
laid my son in August; from then, this whole place has been 
filled — 1,300 in six months out of a population of 5,000 ! ! ' Tears 
would not come; it was just an *0 Lord, how long?' . . . 
Then to hear of how people, who had a little money with them, 
died because those in authority would not or could not give 
them a Uttle food. A lady told me of how she visited a wealthy 
woman who had had every com- 
fort and convenience before the 
but now in a wretched 

" The shop was very bare compared 
to others. The chief things noted 
were tinned salmon, men's shirts, 
women's skirts, concertinas, and 
cigarettes. The whole of Bethulie 
village and district is very short of 
supplies." — p. 59. 

"Mr. Deare, in reply to inauiry, 
said he thought at least four-fiftns of 
the people in Bethulie Camp slept on 
the ground. We strongly and re- 
peatedly urged on him the desirability 
of furnishing the camp with a larger 
supply of bedsteads, of however 

* See also. Ladies' Report on Vredefort Road and private letter firom 
Middelburg, p. 269. 


bell-tent, just kept calling, 
* Hungry, hungry ! When I am 
dead, publish in the papers that 
I and my two daughters have 
all died of hunger.' It was just 
the same in tent after tent, day 
after day, that this same cry 
went on : * Hungry, hungry ! I 
am dying of hunger.' Lying 
on the floors, on the bare 

earth with only a blanket — simple a description. He repre- 
those who had been accus- «=nt';d i-he difficuUy of E«aDg suiubk 

, . , J. , mfltenal.'— Cd. 893, p. 58. 

lomed to every luxury — died. " '^ ^ 

" The people speak with the greatest contempt of the Ladies* 
Commission who came out. They would, for instance, ask such 
a question as this : ' But has any one in this camp been 
accustomed to such a thing as a bedstead in their homes?' 
The sanitary arrangements 

Sanitulion, — On the treoch sfi- 
, and very rough. No proper 
£ (excepl in the school latrine) Ibr 
~ children, but siinply 
■OSS trenches. Tha 
ai the fouling of the ground is 
and around the ca.inp involves seiioni 
clanger lo the health of the inmtLtes. 
It is only fair lo add that, with the 
cKceplion of ihe school latrine, the 
latrine accommodation is so extremely 
bad that there is much excuse foe 
fouling the ground."— p. 57. 

"All meat is supplied by con- 
traclDr."-Cd. 893, p. 58. 

were certainly improved after 
they left, but then they had 
been simply indescribable be- 
fore. During the days of their logs thrown 
visit the people got beautiful "'"" 

beef, but before and after it has 
often been perfectly uneatable. 
The meat was kept in rooms 
where carbolic had been used, 
which so got into the meat that 
the smell was unbearable in 
lifting the lids off the pots while 

"I mostly came in contact with people from Dewetsdorp, 
They all tell the one tale of how their husbands and sons were 
ordered to the Magistrate's office to have their passes renewed, 
they might return home at once, instead of which they were sent 
off by rail to Cape Town for Green Point, and during their 
absence it was that the women were forced from their homes, 
' Vou need take nothing, you will find everything in the camp,' 
that was the usual promise. On their arrival there was not even 
a camp ! They had no food along the way, and suffered 
dreadful privations. There were floods of rain. But the 
spirit of quiet endurance and resignation to God's will made 
me time and again thank God for such women. I felt proud 
of my race, and assured that they would come forth out of all 
this the better, the nobler, the stronger, 

" But their sufferings have been great, and still are ; the tent- 
life, the constant worry of orders and counter-orders, the rumours, 
the constraint on a people accustomed to a free life, all this tells 
upon them. Whole families have died out. Mr. Venter has 
lost 26 of his children and grandchildren there. Mrs. Van der 
Heever has lost iS relations in a little while. Mrs. Fourie 
has lost her husband and eight children. The baby died 94 
hours after its birth; the nurse (?) placed the baby next the 
unconscious mother, and it died of cold that night, she said. 

WOMEN IN 1901 203 

Another said, *Do you suffer through the war in the Cape 
Colony?' I assured her of it *I have lost,' she said, * three 
little children, and my husband has been for eight months no 
one knows where, and I have nothing on earth left to me — every- 
thing gone, everything dead. But Christ is filling my empty 
arms and my empty heart as never before, and I can praise 
Him through my tears.' Another, very ill in the hospital, such 
a pretty young woman: 'I feel how God has been dealing 
personally with me. In the days of our prosperity I forgot Him, 
but now He has taken everything from me and brought me 
back to Him ; husband and seven children) all dead.' Then we 
asked, 'And are you going to lead this new life in your own 
strength?' *0h no,' she replied; *God has taken everything 
away — emptied me, and I shall just remain at His feet as a poor 
sinner, with nothing but His glorious strength.' 

'' I sat with a good number making them tell me the stories 
of their deportation, etc. One said, * You see, I was so totally 
unprepared to go, because I was so sure I would not be taken 
away. God's Word says, " If ye ask anything in My name, / will 
do itr And I prayed God to spare us from being taken, and I 
felt that I wanted to honour Him by a perfect faith, trusting 
utterly that what I had asked in His name would be done 
to me. I laughed at the other women who were afraid, so sure 
was I. Then, when it came, and I had to go at ten minutes* 
notice, I could not do anything. I only felt as if the foundations 
of the earth were giving way.' And then I asked, * Did you 
lose faith?' *Did I lose faith? Oh no; I had received the 
grace to see that I had asked unwisely, like a little child, and 
God could not answer me, but had something far better in store 
for me.' That woman has lost three children ; a fourth, formerly 
a strong young man, pining away in hospital for three months 
already; a fifth just sickening for fever while we were there; 
truly it was grand faith which could say 'God had something 
better in store * for her 1 

" I made inquiries about Mrs. and Mrs. ; I could 

not see them, as they with their 

famines were in the wire en- ''DiscipHneandmorah^^^om^m^^ 

y . mt- 1- J ^nd women had been sent to gaol, and 

closure — prison. They had sentenced to hard labour."— p. 6o.i 
gone to do some washmg, and 

not having heard the new regulations, had washed in the usual 
spot in the river, which that day happened to be a forbidden place, 
and were punished thus. A large number of men, over one 

^ These quotations are all from the Report of the Ladies' Commission. 
Cd. 893. 


hundred, have already slipped away from the camp and joined 
the Boers, who have a laager not far off. A young man who got 
away in that way has not been retaken, nor was any effort made 
to get him back, but his parents and brothers and sisters have 
been placed in the wire enclosure ; the old father and brothers 
have to do convict's work from 6 in the morning till dusk (during 
summer), with quarter-hour meals three times during the day on 
half-ration. They are of our best people. 

" The children under six receive condensed milk, maizena and 
oatmeal, but less meat. One sick woman told us she got butter 
and jam. But what of that, when they eat and drink in sorrow 
and sadness ! 

" God help us and our people, we see no ray of light away 
from Him who makes no mistake. These camps are one huge 
' mistake ' ; they cry aloud to God, and He will hearken ; and 
these graves will stand as a monument of . . ." 

This extract gives a sad little reminder of the anxiety felt by 
prisoners of war about their homeless and often separated 
families, separated even in death. It is from Mr. H. J. J. 
Heytmayer, prisoner of war, to Mr. Emous, Chairman of the 
Holland Committee — 

"Bbbmuda, Nmi, 21, 1901. 

" Last Sunday I received a letter from my wife, informing me 
that on the 14th of September last she had been sent lo Durban, 
so that she is now in a Refugee Camp at Merebank Station, 
Durban, Natal. 

" She further tells me : ' Our youngest child was left behind 
at Pretoria with the nurses of the Red Cross. It was then 
almost dead, and could not open its eyes any more. The officers, 
however, would not allow me to stay. I was forced to leave for 
Durban, and so our little one had to die in the hands of strangers.' 

"I need not tel! you that ray heart is broken. I cannot 
even give you an idea of what passes in my inmost soul. The 
said child was born about a month after I had been taken 
prisoner, and was about three months old when my wife had to 
leave it behind at Pretoria. 

" My wife has now three children left, the eldest being six 
years old. We have lost all our property," 

About a month after the formation of the new camp at 
Merebank, Mrs, Dickenson visited and thus describes it : — 

" Yesterday I obtained a permit from the Commandant to 
visit the so-called Refugee Camp at Merebank, about an hour's 

WOMEN IN 1901 805 


journey from Durban by the South Coast Railway. The site was 
selected by the P.M.O., Major M'Cormack, because it was 
supplied from the Durban main, ^ 

and consequently pure water J' ?r''''^ i.^^lL '' ,^**^'^°Sg^ 

J* rr.i/ -1 • J should not have been chosen, 

was ensured. The soil is sandy, « j^ecammendatum.'^ln spite of the 

but unfortunately a marsh lies great expense that has been incurred 

in the depression between • • • we strongly recommend that the 

Camps I and 2. There is one ^P,?^°;ji^c^ shifted to a better 

J- 1 I. u- place. — Cd. 893, pp. 34, 37. 

medical man, who goes his *^ ^.^. -This wi not done! 
rounds with an interpreter at 

present, but in view of the illness which already prevails another 
surgeon will shortly be appointed. This camp has been formed 
to contain ten thousand persons, but at present its inhabitants 
number two thousand. It has only been inhabited three weeks, 
and consequently is not in full working order. Merebank is a 
siding, with not even a railway station, and trains only stop there 
for the camp — Canvas Town, as it is called. 

" The day was showery (in Natal rainy weather has now set 
in), and the green tropical-looking foliage and thick rank grass 
glistened with moisture — a country much resembling Ceylon in 
its v^etation, which flourishes, but white humanity languishes. 
At Merebank I climbed from the train, which did not stop at a 
platform, and, picking my way through seas of mud, entered the 
camp, whose white tents stretched far away to the slope of a 
rising ground. They were arranged in rows, leaving a broad 
road down the centre. Close to the entrance was the Command- 
ant's office, which was besieged by women, mostly dressed in 
black, with the * kapje ' or sunbonnet generally used on Dutch 
farms, also of the same sombre colour. Barelegged children 
paddled through the mud and pools of water, carrying some a 
loaf of bread, others a bag of potatoes or a bundle of firewood. 
Turning to the right, I passed up the principal street, if one may 
so term it, and came upon the store, which has been established 
to enable those refugees who have money to buy extra food and 
clothing. Of course things are dear ; biscuits which I purchased 
costing double as much as in Durban. Still, it is a boon to those 
who can afford it. The Commandant of the camp, who wore no 
uniform, and looked quite unofficial, called after me to ask if I 
had a pass. I showed him the one I had. He offered to send 
a man round to show me everything, but I thanked him, and told 
him I would pursue my investigations alone, trusting to finding 
some people who spoke English to translate for those who did 

" From my experience of last year among the Dutch farmers 



of Cape Colony, I knew almost at once those who would be 
lik«ly to be able to understand me. One of the first people I 
met was the doctor, going round with an interpreter. He was 
in the usual khaki uniform, his black goigets alone distinguishing 
bim from the combatant officers. Asking him as to illness, he 
told me the camp was, as he expressed it, ' riddled with a very 
bad form of measles.' Soon sad evidence was brought before 
me. Four boys carrying a stretcher passed and stopped at a 
tent. A woman, sobbing bitterly, stepped out and laid a little 
bundle ivrapped in a railway rug on it. As the boys returned I 
met them, and saw that their burden was that of a young child, 
perhaps about five years old, who had just died — the second the 
poor mother had lost in a fortnight. There is no minister here, 
and no chance of any form of Christian burial. A small grave is 
dug, and the liny wasted body placed in it. By dint of inquiring 
amongst the women who seemed likely to give me information, I 
was directed to a tent of the larger description, occupied by the 
wife and daughter of the landdrost, i.e. chief magistrate of Pretoria, 
Mr. Schiittet. 

" On explaining to the daughter, who spoke excellent English, 
that I wanted to get a report on the camp to send to an 
Australian paper, they asked me to come inside. This was the 
only tent I saw which was in the least what one would call 
furnished. It was pathetic to see the remains of a pretty 
drawing-room— the Lares and Penates of a vanished home — 
in a squalid tent. The chairs were covered with velvet or 
morocco. A gilt dock ticked on a packing-case. A valuable 
old china vase, a cherished heirloom, stood in another comer. 
Everything showed people accustomed to refined surroundings. 
Mrs. Schiitter the elder spoke no English. She was a tSl, 
dignified-looking woman, looking deeply depressed, and she 
hardly lifted her eyes. Her daughter-in-law, who had with her 
a baby of six months, talked freely, and told me that after the 
occupation of Pretoria they were allowed to live in their own 
house, Lord Roberts promising that they should not be 

"Since Lord Kitchener's proclamation, however, they were 
suddenly told they must leave, being given only one night to 
make the necessary preparations. They have brought down all 
they could, but are daily finding out how much was left behind 
that might have been of the greatest use. An oil cooking-stove 
is one of their most valued possessions, as it obviates the 
hardship of cooking out of doors, which in the rainy weather is 
most trying work. The lot of the Schutters is that of the upper class 

WOMEN IN 1901 «07 


of prisoners, and may be taken as typical They have a certain 
amount of comfort purchased with flieir own money, but they 
feel the degradation of camp life more than the poorer people. 
For instance, they are watched by Kaffir police, and obliged to 
carry their rations and firewood in some cases three-quarters of 
a mile under the eyes of a lot of lazy blacks, who hugely enjoy 
seeing white people made to work while they idle. The sanitary 
arrangements are also of the roughest and most primitive kind, 
and at present quite insufficient for the requirements of the 
people. But building is going on, so it is hardly fair to judge 
what the completed condition of the camp will be. 

"The Misses Schiitters and a Mrs. Erasmus and her 
daughters have organised a sort of * district ' of the most destitute 
families, and they took me to see some of them. The idea 
spread amongst these poor people that I could help them in 
some way with their sick childten, and they crowded roMnd, 
holding them in their arms and explaining their condition, which 
in many cases seemed hopeless. One pale, haggard woman sat 
at the entrance of her bell-tent holding a child just at its last 
gasp, and wanted her photographed ; but I told Mrs. Erasmus to 
explain how sorry I felt for her, but that the photograph would 
have been such a painful one she would never have liked to look 
at it. This woman had two 
sick boys lying on oil -cloth "The Commission feel very strongly 

^, ' •' J ° '^u LI 14. that in this camp no one at all should 
on the ground, with a blanket sleep on the ground."— p. 35. 

between them. One of her 

children died last week, and one the week before. 

" A hospital is in course of erection, which will give the sick a 
better chance. This is a wooden shed, with galvanised iron roof; 
but some cubicles are partitioned off as a maternity ward. Mrs. 
Erasmus kindly interpreted my questions to the women of her 
* district,' and their replies in all cases were much the same. 
Their rations in the camp were sufficient, though they would be 
thankful for a little treacle for the children, or something to eat 
with their bread. The firewood was not enough unless they 
picked some up or burned turf. They were not allowed to get 
through the barbed wire which surrounds the camp. If they did, 
their coffee was cut off for three days. 

"Asked if they came voluntarily, or if they were taken 
forcibly, all declared that they never asked for anything but to be 
left alone, and most had friends who would take care of them, 
were they allowed their Uberty. 

" ' Refugee Camps ' is a misnomer ; they are really prisons. A 
few of the prisoners are allowed out on parole once a week, but 


the monotony of the life must be terribly wearisome. The tents 
are so dose together that sitting outside is impossible. 

" To visit No. 2 Camp, a walk through a brickfield and then 
a flounder of half a mife antcle deep in black slush are 
necessary. Once I lost my shoe, so thick and sticky was the 
mud ; but I struggled on, and found this camp more unfinished 
than the first, and with a great many empty tents. Mrs. Schiitter 
had advised me to find a Mrs. Kniger, a doctor's wife, which I 
did after some time. She was living in the same tent as a 
Mrs, Kleynaus, wife of the landdrost of Ermelo. At first they had 
another family put into their tent, but they remonstrated, and had 
them removed, as they had a boy of i6 who was supposed to 
occupy it with them as well as the Kleynaus' Kaflir servant-girL 
This girl had remained with Mrs. Kleynaus through all their 
troubles, The latter, who looked very fragile, was taken out of a 
sickbed at Ermelo, and brought along in her nightdress, with her' 
little boy. She pleaded that one room might be left to her till 
she got better, but the officer said his orders were to burn the. 
house. She saved two blankets and a box of clothes. While. 
she lay in the waggon, she could see her piano and all her 
cherished possessions being smashed to pieces, and the house set 
fire to. Her jewellery was stolen from the waggon on the 
journey down. Mrs. Kruger said her husband was not f^hting, 
but attending to the wounded. 'Your men as well as ours,' 
she added, ' so I don't see why I should be kept here.' Had it 
not been for the kindness of Mrs. Schiitter, who asked me to havS' 
some luncheon, I should have fared badly, as there was no place. 
to get refreshments at Merebank. Nothing was ' rations ' but 
bread. It was their own coffee and fried fish, as it was not a 
meat day. The appointments of the table showed people o( 
refined surroundings, good table linen and silver forks. 1 related! 
my ' camping out ' experiences in Australia, but, as they sadly 
remarked) 'you had a home, and were not a prisoner.' 

" The great want in the camp is blankets, boots, and under- 
clothes for those who have no money. Miss Schiitter suggested 
a bazaar, to which they could contribute work to be sold to the 
Durban people, for a fund to provide these things. The idea si 
a very good one, and I hope they will succeed in carrying it out.'* 

Mrs. Dickenson goes on to tell her readers about MaritzbuiJ 
in the same simple fashion — 


"This camp differs from that of Merebank, described in mj 
previous article, in several particulars. At the entrance is a son 

WOMEN IN 1901 209 

of guard-house, and soldiers come out and demand a pass, 
whereas at Merebank there is no actual entrance into the camp 
at all. The tents at Maritzburg are mostly square, instead of the 
wretched, insanitary bell-tent. It is in a much drier and hes^thier 
situation also, on the slope of a hillside, overlooking the town. 
As before, the first people I met looked at me with doubt and 
suspicion, and only shook their heads uncomprehendingly when 
addressed. Presently a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church 
passed, and I stopped him as he was entering a tent, and inquired 
if he could give me any information as to the health of the people, 
etc. *No,' he replied very cautiously, *I am sorry to say I 
cannot I am not allowed to give information.' * At all events, 
you can tell me of some English-speaking people who will be able 
to answer my questions ? ' I inquired. He advised me to go to the 
little iron store (also a post-office) to ascertain the names of these 
people, so careful was the reverend gentleman to keep on the 
safe side. I inquired for a daughter-in-law of Mrs. Schiitter 
whom I had met at Merebank^ but found she had been removed 
to Howick Camp. Mrs. Fourie, the storekeeper said, would give 
me information, as she spoke English well. She was a pleasant- 
looking person, busy ironing, but put her work aside and asked 
me to come in, and soon, in the hospitable way that reminds 
one of Australians, was preparing coffee for me. * The children 
had had measles and pneumonia, but, thank God, were now well. 
She had her man with her too, and all her boys, so she 
had no anxiety. Her boys went to the Government school in 
Maritzburg, and were learning well. Her husband, too, was 
allowed out to work. When she knew the English were coming, 
she packed her waggon full of stores and locked it up, so they 
brought her and her family down in their own waggon. She had 
an oil cooking-stove, and they were not obliged to cook out of 
doors when it rained.' Mrs. Fourie seemed so cheerful and 
contented, that I began to think Maritzburg Camp must be 
singularly well managed ; but it occurred to me to ask if she and 
her husband were taken prisoners or surrendered. * Oh, I made 
my husband surrender,' she said. * As we had to lose the home, 
we might as well take all we could.' 

" This was the secret. These people were actually refugees, 
but the first I had seen. There is, however, no doubt that the 
refugees or surrendered people constitute a very small minority 
in these camps. The next tent I visited belonged to a Mrs. 
Vanyder. It was beautifully clean, with a large pile of clothes 
freshly ironed in a comer. Her two daughters are working as 
dressmakers in Maritzburg. Her husband is on commando* 



The allowance of bread was too small, she said, and a little gijl 
of 4l years was supposed to live entirely on four tins of condensed 
milk a week, and to taste neither meat nor bread. Afrikander 
children, like Australians, are brought up to eat a great deal of 
meat, so that they miss it much more than the English child 
would do. The ration card, showing exactly what each family 
receives, is hung up in each tent. I noticed that Mrs. Vanyder's 
allowance was much less in proportion than the Fouries. Mrs. 
Fourie, who came in with me, explained this by saying that her 
family consisted of boys, and Mrs, Vanyder's were girls, who 
were not supposed to eat as much. The prevalent disease now 
in this camp is enteric fever, ,.„,., ,, ^, c 

b„. in Augu,. las. 69 children ^^S^Sj-SL^i jl"-"'' 
died of measles. It must be 

remembered that these children are taken from farms where 
they lead the free, healthy life of Australian bush children, with 
any amount of good milk, eggs, and meal. The change of diet 
alone, without the closeness and damp of the vile tents, would 
account for the mortality. 

" In the Natal Witntss to-day I noticed a quotation from a 
letter by a nurse in Pretoria, attributing the death-n 
the children in the burgher camps to want of cleanliness. This 
I consider perfectly untrue. 1 was speaking only this morning 
to the wife of the English doctor of the Boer Camp here (Howick), 
and she tells me that her husband does not find them dirty. 
She has taken a girl as nursemaid, who, although she does not 
know a word of English, is very clean and tidy, and anxious to 
learn. The next tent I visited was that of Mrs. Davis Van 
Niekirk, who was quite destitute. Her husband and sons were 
on commando, and she had six young children. All her bedding 
and furniture had been burnt, and they had very little ready 
money, which was now all spent. There was nothing in the tent 
but two or three blankets and a packing-case. 

" A nice-iooking young woman in deep mourning beckoned 
me to come into her tent. She was a widow — a Mrs. Venter. 
Her husband was commandeered early in the war, when they 
had only been married eleven months, and her baby just bom. 
He was killed six months ago, and the baby died of croup three 
months after in this camp. However, she has a bhnd father- 
in-law, who took up much of her time. She was of English 
parentage, and spoke English fluently. The old man could 
speak no English, so Mrs, Venter acted as interpreter. 'The 
old man says,' she began, 'that he wishes you to know how he 
was taken. He was in his (arm with his sister, who was also ' 

WOMEN IN 1901 211 

blind, when the Khakis {ue. British) arrived; he begged them 
to leave him one cow and a pound of coffee, but they refused, 
and he was for a day and night without food, till some Boers 
passed, and took him to another farm. A few weeks after, that 
farm was burnt, and then he was taken along with the convoy, 
and finally reached this camp, when his daughter-in-law joined 
him.' The blind man's story I give verbatim, but cannot vouch 
for its actual truth. His favourite dog had managed to follow 
the waggons in spite of all efforts to drive him back, and the 
faithful creature came up wagging his tail when he was mentioned. 
I inquired how they fed so large an animal, but Mrs. Venter 
told me he got the bones from ration meat, and the soldiers fed 
him too. The blind man was not at all satisfied with his treat- 
ment. Only 19 lbs. of meat for five grown-up people weekly he 
considered too little. It certainly was not so much as the 
allowance to some other families. It was written on the card, 
so there was no doubt on this point. Firewood, also supposed 
to be 10 lbs. per diem, often did not amount to the same quantity 
per week, and they had to bum rags for fuel. 

" When people are fed by contract against their will, of course 
there is generally dissatisfaction ; but I think a more varied diet 
without greater expenditure might be given. A little treacle and 
butter, instead of so much bread to be eaten dry, for instance. 
Mrs. Venter said she had to 

pay £h SS. for the coffin of ''Pr(n;isum5 of Coffins, Shrot^, etc. 
r ^ iiM J / : r 4.\ J — Everything is provided free of 

her child (a mere mfant), and ^ost ; A, los. is piad for each adult's 

m future the charge was to be funeral."— Cd. 893, p. 33. 

;£4 for each funeral. Those 

who had no money are obliged to borrow from neighbours to 

make up the amount. 

" I visited a good many other tents, and heard some pitiful 
stories. One young woman was on a farm with her old mother 
and two children, aged 4 and 5. When taken away by a convoy 
of soldiers about a couple of days* journey, the officer in com- 
mand gave orders to leave the old mother at a farm in passing. 
. The children cried to go with their grandmother, and they were 
left also. The mother, however, was forced to go on, and was 
promised she should see her children soon ; but she has never 
done so, though seven months had elapsed, nor could she 
discover their whereabouts. A young woman in the tent next 
to her had been brought down a week before the birth of her 
first baby. The husband had begged a Mrs. Bartmen to look 
after her when he was commandeered, but the latter lost sight of 
her, and only called down to find she had died in her confine- 

ment ; but the baby was adopted by the woman, who had lost 
her own two. 

" Every one here, especially military men, acknowledges that 
these camps were a mistake, and the money spent on them 
would have been far better applied in helping the British 

Voluntary helpers write to the Cape Colony committees with 
the first note of improvement towards the end of the year — 

"Del, I a, 

" Ac Maritzburg Camp there are about two thousand men, 
women, and children. In the Sunday school there are six 
hundred children. The health is now so good that during some 
weeks not even one death has taken place." 

"HowicK, Dtc. 1901. 

" At Howick the stale of things is not so satisfactory. There 
are about four thousand people in the camp, and there is much 
sickness. Four to five funerals take place daily. The reason of 
all this sickness is the frequent arrival of new-comers from the 
Transvaal (Potchefstroom, Pretoria, etc.), who all bring 
diseases with them. Here, as at Maritzburg and Merebank, 
large schools are to be built, The military are going to take 
over all schools. It will be a great blessing when the hundreds 
of children who are now running about idle, because there is no 
room for them in the present schools, can be provided for." 

Here follows one of the more cheerful letters, speaking of 
education, books, and trades. It is from Ds. Burger, Vereenig^ng. 

Letters like these, written by cleigymen to relief committees, 
were composed with a recollection of the censor's eye — 

" The goods from Cape Town have come, and been received 
with great joy. A great work is going on amongst the children. 
The Government has opened a day school, and makes more 
or less provision for its needs. The teaching is free. Three 
hundred and sixty children attend Sunday school. Twice a 
week we go to the banks of the Vaa! River, about five hundred 
paces from the camp, and the children are taught to sing there. 
On such occasions we divide the dates, etc., and every one gets 3 
share. The leather is most welcome. We have started shoe- 
making, and the young fellows are being taught the trade. We 
want also to give some young fellows instruction in carpentering 
and blacksmith's work. The camp superintendent gives his fuU 

WOMEN IN 1901 218 

approval A case of books was also sent ; they were mostly old 
books, but have enabled us to begin a library." 

Lizzie Van Zyl. 

'* The children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They 
say to their mothers. Where is com and wine ? when they swooned as the 
wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their 
mother's bosom." — Lam. ii. ii, 12. 

Lizzie Van Zyl died in May 1901. 

This little child has been made the subject of controversy 
painful to those who knew her and the circumstances imder 
which she died. 

It has been alleged that her mother starved her. Mr. 
Chamberlain has alluded to her in the House of Commons, and 
Dr. Conan Doyle in his book on the war. Both gentlemen, from 
lack of accurate information, have misrepresented the facts. 

Mrs. Van Zyl and her family were amongst the earliest of 
those brought into Bloemfontein Camp in November 1900. 
Lizzie was seven years old and delicate. Being an " undesirable " 
child, she was amongst those receiving the lowest scale of rations. 
From the paper given me in the office at Bloemfontein I copy 
the scale for adults. I do not know if previous to the New Year 
children had less than grown people, though it is probable. 

^ lb. meat. 

lb. either meal, rice, or samp. 

oz. coffee. 
I oz. sugar. 
I oz. salt. 
tV tin of condensed milk. 

The child did not thrive on the diet, and, like many others, 
wasted rapidly in the great heat Having no money to buy extra 
food for her children, and having a bare tent, without bed, 
mattress, chair, or table, Mrs. Van Zyl strove hard, by washing for 
people of better means, to earn something to keep her family alive. 
Sufficient water was not brought into the camp for washuig, so, 
like others, she had to take the linen to the dam, some half-mile 
distant. In the stagnant water of this pool the clothes of the 
entire camp were washed for many months. While the mother 
thus worked, the younger children were left in the tent in charge 
of the eldest, a child of twelve or thirteen years of age. In 


December Lizzie was taken into the hospital A lady, also a 
prisoner, who was brought into camp on December 14, saw her 
there at that date. Here she had such comfort as the rough 
Uttle hospital possessed, under the immediate eye of the one , 
trained nurse. Later the children's ward passed into untrained 
hands, and many mothers besides Mrs. Van Zyl were anxious 
about the attention given to their children. 

A neighbour, Mrs. Botha, tells me she was in the hospital 
one day when Lizzie began to cry very sadly, " Mother, mother, I 
want to go to mother." Mrs. Botha stepped to het to comfort 
her and try to stop her heart-broken wailing, and was just 
beginning to tell her she should soon see her mother, when a 
nurse in charge of that ward broke in very crossly, telling her 
not to trouble about the child, as she was a nuisance. 

It was this tone prevalent in the camps in early months 
which gave the Boer women their horror of the hospitals ; but 
their dislike passed away when nurses of good standing took the 
place of loyahst refugees. 

Mrs. Van Zyl felt it right to take her child away, and did 
so in the month of April. I used to see her in her bare tent, 
lying on a tiny mattress which had been given her, trying to get 
air from beneath the raised flap, gasping her life out in the 
heated tent. Her mother tended her, and I got some friends 
in town to make her a little muslin cap to keep the flies from 
her bare head. I was arranging to get a little cart made to draw 
her into the air in the cooler hours, but before wood could be 
procured, the cold nights came on, and she died. She received 
no doctor's visit after her return to her tent, and the mother has 
since sent me word that she was never called up to give any 
account of her child's death. Dr, Doyle, though asked to do so, 
has not yet brought forward his " credible " informant who he 
says alleged that this mother was criminally tried for the ill-usage 
of her child. ^ 

It was in the end of January that I made acquaintance 
with Lizzie Van Zyl, then in the hospital. She was a curiously 
winsome little thing, and she was able to sit up and play with the 
doll I brought her. She had as much attention as was possible 
under the supervision of the trained nurse. This nurse told me 
that the child's emaciation was caused by the carelessness and 
neglect of her mother, who "had starved her." I have no doubt 
the nurse believed this story, and it was not her business to 
inquire. But, feeling incredulous, I asked for proof of so serious 
an accusarion, and was told that "the neighbours said so." 

' See Tilt WartWs Cause and Cenduct, chap. vii. By A. Conan Doyle. 

WOMEN IN 1901 816 

Beyond gossip there seemed no evidence. I determined to 
inquire into the case, as the accusation appeared to me one of 
a class and of a tone which had widely prevailed in speaking 
about the Boers, and which was painfully common amongst the 
officials of the camps at that time. I found nothing to show , 
neglect on the mother's part ; on the contrary, she was toiling to 
earn something for the support of her family. The story against ; 
her, believed honestly enough, no doubt, by the doctor and the 
nurse, who did not visit her tent, rested solely on the word of 
the Swanepoel family, refugees and political enemies ; other neigh- 
bours entirely denied it In addition, I foimd both in that camp 
and elsewhere numbers of children in every stage of emaciation. 

The photograph alleged by Mr. Chamberlain -^ to have been 
taken by the doctor to show the condition in which children 
were brought into the camps, was not taken till after the child 
had been more than two months in camp, so of itself it establishes 
nothing as to her condition on entering. It was, I believe, taken 
by a Mr. De Klerk.2 

It does, however, exemplify, as I hoped it would when I sent 
it home, the effects of under-nourishment in the camps upon 
countless homeless children, and it did, I hope and believe, make 
some people realise where the brunt of the war was most heavily 
falling. In her short life Lizzie Van Zyl had experienced its '' 
bitter hardships ; she had been made homeless, and deprived of 
everything necessary for a delicate child, and she being dead yet 
speaketh in South Africa. 

^ See Mr. Chamberlain's speech, Times, March 5, 1902. 

' The intention had been to add this poor childrs portrait in illustration 
of her story. It was, however, considered "too painful for reproduction." 
This raises the (question how far it is right to shrink from a typical representa- 
tion, however distressing, of suffering which others have to endure, and which 
has been brought about by a sequence of events for which we are partly v 



"They that be skin with Che sword aie bettei than ]hsy that be slain 
with hunger : for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of 
the field. —Lam. iv. 9. 

"All her people sigh, they seelc bread; they have given their pleasant 
things for meat to relieve the soui ; see, O Lord, and consider; for I nn 
become vile." — Lam. i. ti. 

" Arise, cry out in the night : in the Itegiiming of the watches pour out 
thine heart like water before the face of the Lord : lift up thy hands toward 
Him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in (he top of 
every street." — Lam. ii. 19, 

" The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for 
thiret : the youi^ children ask btead, and no man breaketb it unto ihem. 
They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets : they that were 
brought up in scarlet embrace dunEhili5."^LAM. iv, 4, S- 

THIS chapter must be read with the tecollecrion that most 
of those who write do so under the shadow of the 
censor and martial law. Very few have dared to 
write at all, and even then only a Httle that has been felt dares 
find expression. In the days to come they will reveal the 
fulness of what they have experienced in mind and body. 
At present those who have not mingled with them must be 
content with the outline presented in these pages. 

Letter from a Young Girl to her Former Teacher, 

" PJETEEMAHITKBURG CaMP, JViiv Vear'l Day, 1901, 

" How strange to write to you the first evening of the New 
Year under these circumstances ! Every one tries to make the 
best of everything. I cannot tell how hard life is in a camp. 
Just imagine eleven people in one tent; it is very crammed. But 

WOMEN IN 1901 217 

I think this is just what we need, for if we should be here and 
have everything comfortable and nice, life would be imbearable ; 
now we scarcely have time to think, for we have no sooner 
finished carrying water than we have to pull the ropes of the 
tents, or something is always to be done. We are so many in 
tent, and yet each has a great deal to do, and when evening comes 
we are all just tired of the day's work, and so our days pass. I 
almost forgot to tell you that last night from ii till 12 o'clock 
we went round the camp singing hymns (gezangen). Just at 
12 o'clock we sang the Nieuwjaar's hymn in the middle of the 
camp ; it was a quiet evening, and we could hold a candle as 
we went. It was a night never to be forgotten, for amid all our 
sorrow and trouble we sang * Prys am Heer ' and many others. 
We were quite a multitude together. — ^Yours lovingly, 

" Maggie." 

Early in the New Year the women of Klerksdorp drew up a 
petition to the President of the Worcester Congress, and for- 
warded it to him by the hand of Mr. J. L. Van der Merwe^ who ^ 
has embodied it in General De la Re3r's recent Report to Mr. 
Kruger, published in London and Holland. In February the 
women of Kimberley Camp signed a petition addressed to the 
Commandant, and in April the women of Johannesburg forwarded 
one to Lord Kitchener. It will probably be found some day 
that other camps did the same thing. The Klerksdorp petition 
differs from the others in that it deals principally with sufferings 
endured before entering the camp. 

"Klerksdorp, Women's Laager, /an. 5, 1901. 

" To the President of the Great Congress, held at Worcester, 
Cape Colony, on the 6th of December 1900. 

" Honoured Sir and Brother, — In the name of the under- 
signed sisters and of us all, resident in the South African 
Republic and the Orange Free State, we beg you and all those 
who took part in the Congress to accept our heartfelt thanks for 
all you have done in our most holy cause. 

" It was to us a great joy, comfort, and consolation to hear 
our brethren express themselves so freely against this unjust 
war. Be assured that all of us are still animated with undaunted 
courage, and that we are determined to fight to the bitter end, 
whatever happens. For ours is a just cause, and we know that 
the God of our fathers will not allow the triumph of Mammon. 


THE ] 

This conviction gives us the strength to bear whatever our enemy 
thinks fit to make us endure. 

"Tlie sympathy which you liave shown us gives us confidence 
in placing before you the facta which show the cruel and bar- 
barous manner in which defenceless women and children are 
being treated by British ofificers and men. 

"Wherever the enemy passed, destruction and misery 
followed in his steps. At first the enemy thought that this cruel 
oppression of women and children and the destruction of 
property would be sufficient to discourage our fighting burghers, 
and would force them to lay down their artns. But he soon 
found out his mistake. 

"The enemy commenced by burning down our homesteads 
and destroymg other property. We were questioned by the 
ofiicers in a rude manner as to our husbands and rides. Rough 
soldiers visited our houses. All the necessaries of life were taken 
from us, and all the things which could not be conveniently 
carried away, such as flour, corn, etc, were scattered over the 
veld. All vehicles of every kind which they could not take 
with them were also burnt. Pictures, furniture, and household 
utensils were first broken to pieces and then set fire to, together 
with our homes. We were not even allowed to take some 
blankets and clothes with us for ourselves and our children. 
Everything was thrown into the flames. The clothes of our men 
were taken away for the British troops. In some cases even the 
children were left naked. 

"In this condition we stood under the bare sky, without 
shelter, without food, exposed to the rain, the cold, or burning 
heat. This, however, did not yet satisfy the enemy. The crops, 
which, in the absence of the male population with the com- 
mandoes, we had sown ourselves, were to be destroyed or burnt. 
All the implements of agriculture, such as ploughs, harrows, and 
others, wherewith we could have again provided for our existence, 
were carried away or destroyed. All the poultry was killed 
and the cattle removed. In one word, the whole country was 
turned into a desert. Ah ! we find no words to describe these 
horrors ! 

"The barbarity of the enemy went further still : they carried 
the women and children off as prisoners. Even old, grey-haired, 
and impotent women did not escape from their ill-treatment, 
We will state a few cases. 

" A certain number of women had been taken prisoners in 
and around Potchefstroom, and conducted to Welverdiend 
Station, a distance of about four hours' ride on horseback. The' 

WOMEN IN 1901 819 

troops were accompanied on this march by some coloured women. 
The latter were allowed to sit on the waggons, but the Boer 
women had to go on foot, and were driven on by the Kaffirs. 
The consequence was that some fell down dead by the road, and 
that one woman gave birth to a child. On this occasion Kaffirs 
were used, and they equalled the English soldiers in cruelty and 

" The women knelt before these Kaffirs and begged for mercy, 
but they were roughly shaken off, and had to endure even more 
impudent language and rude behaviour. Their clothes were 
even torn from their bodies. In some cases they had to suffer a 
harder lot still. The mothers were taken away from their chil- 
dren. The very small children were left behind, because some were 
ill in bed. The mothers were not even allowed to take leave of 
their dear treasures. When they begged the soldiers to take pity 
on their children, the reply was, * Get along ; they must all come 
to an end.' Luckily, some women who were left behind took 
pity on the infants and nursed them. When the mothers were 
driven like cattle through the streets of Potchefstroom by the 
Kaffirs, the cries and lamentations of the children filled the air. 
The Kaffirs then jeered and cried, 'Move on: till now you 
were the masters ; but now we will make your women our wives.* 
In this fearful state were the women obliged to march for four 

" About six miles north of Potchefstroom lived the wife of 
Thomas Van Graan, who since February 1900 had been in 
exile with General Cronje. At first she had received permission 
to remain with her children on the farm. Quite unexpectedly, a 
British force arrived in the neighbourhood and at the farm. The 
soldiers kicked open the doors, and broke the furniture to pieces. 
In a violent thunderstorm, Mrs. Van Graan was placed with her 
little children in an uncovered waggon. These unwarranted 
proceedings were taken because it was supposed that Chief-Com- 
mandant De Wet had spent a night at the farm. 

" A great number of women along the Mooi River were also 
victims of the cruelty of the English. A woman whose child 
was dying was removed by force, notwithstanding her heart- 
rending entreaties. At a farm on the banks of the Vaal a 
woman refused to follow the soldiers. She was dragged along 
for a considerable distance over the veld, until at last they were 
obliged to leave her behind. Two young girls — this was also 
along the banks of the Vaal River — ^whose mother had already 
been carried away, were in danger of being violated, but 
managed to take shelter with a neighbour. The soldiers followed 

in pursuit, but the girls refused to open the door, Tliey were in 
great danger, but the saving hand of God protected theni) and 
they escaped this ignominy ; one of the girls made her escape^ 
and walked a distance of six hours' ride. The sufferings of these 
women must have been excruciating : words are failing us to 
describe them, 

" On the Witwatersrand there was another fearful attempt at 
violation. In the struggle the woman's neck was twisted in such 
a manner that it will never come right again. Her daughter rushed 
to her assistance, but the ruffian drew bis sabre and cut open her 

" We could add many other instances to these, but we think 
you will now have an idea of the cruel and barbarous manner in 
which the British officers and soldiers behave towards defenceless 
women and children. 

"We therefore implore your further assistance and your 
prayers for us to God. 

"Relying upon these, we remain," etc, 

(Here follow the signatures.) 

Petition of Women to Major Wright, 

" KiMBBRLBy Camp, Feb. 1901. 

" We, the undersigned, respectfully wish to address you with 
the following request : — 

"I. As we are separated from our husbands, and thus left 
without help, it is impossible, in the circumstances in which we 
are placed, to live. 

"II. On account of carelessness, bad management, and ill- 
treatment, it is now the second time that we are drenched 
through and through by rain, which caused our children, already 
sick with measles, whooping - cough, and fever, to become 
dangerously ill. 

" III. Being without money, it is impossible for us to provide 
or obtain soap, candles, or other necessaries. It is now ahnost 
three weeks that most of us have been unable to do any washing. 
It is more than we can stand to be satisfied under all this. 
These are our griefs. This our humble request is — ^to look into 
our case with all reasonableness, and to have compassion on our 
position, and to give us our liberty by allowing us to return to 
our respective homes. 

" We hope and trust that you will take our humble request in 

WOMEN IN 1901 


favourable consideration, and tneet us in this our request as soon 
as possible. — ^We are, dear sir, your humble servants. 

A. S. Earle. 
Annie Earle. 


R. Du ToiT. 
A. J. Brits. 
S. Botha. 
E. Botha. 
M. De Klerk. 
A. Serfontein. 
H. Brits. 
M. Brits. 
M. J. Roodt. 
E. M. RooDT. 


S. Du ToiT. 


M. Botha. 
J. C. Matthee. 

« Newton Refugee Camp, Kimbbrley. 

C. E. Louw. 
J. Van Niekerk. 
M. Britz. 
C. RooDT. 
C. Du ToiT. 
Hermina Van 




A. Botha. 
C. Botha. 
A. De Klerk. 
W. Wessels. 
M. Serfontein. 
S. Brits. 
M. C. Roodt. 
J. J. Roodt. 
M. Herbst. 

"P.S. — Major-Commandant and others in authority, — With 
God there is mercy. Is there, then, no mercy with you for us 
poor innocent women and children ? Our request is to allow us 
to leave the loth March 1901." 

Women's Petition to Lord Kitchener. 

<< Johannesburg (Racecourse), April 19, 1901. 

" The undersigned, all of whom are women and children, who 
have been deported to and are at present kept in the Race- 
course, Johannesburg, respectfully submit — 

" I. That all of them are Afrikander women, whose husbands 
have either been killed or captured, or are still struggling for 
their beloved country. 

"II. That they have been forcibly taken from their farms 
and brought here against their will and desire by H.M.'s military 

"III. That in many instances the troops of H.M. have in a 
barbarous manner burnt and devastated their farms, and have 
stolen and destroyed other properties, so that we are now almost 
bereft of everything. 

" IV. That since their arrival here they have been forced to* 
iive on the Racecourse crowded together, and only in a feat, 
cases were they allowed to live in houses in Johannesburg. 

" V. That in all cases without exception they have been 
deprived of the free, fresh, open air, and the healthy and sufficient 
nourishment to which they have been accustomed since the days 
of their birth. 

" VI. That, in consequence of this overcrowding and this 
change in their surroundings and manner of life, their health has 
been greatly impaired. In proof hereof they can assure your 
Lordship that, up to the week ending on Monday, April 15, at 
I J noon, fifteen (15) deaths have occurred in that one week, out 
of 2,789 souls on the Racecourse; whilst on the i6th and lyth 
of April ten (10} of us were buried. 

"VII. That this rate of mortaUty exceeds by far that of the 
whole world or any portion thereof. 

"VIII. That, in short, this condition of things, as we have 
experienced the same since our arrival here, is indescribable and 
no longer to be tolerated. 

" Wherefore we request permission to return to our respective 
dwelling-places at the expense of H.M. Government, and that 
H.M. Government shall provide for our maintenance for at least 
the first six (6) months, we being of opinion that we have a right 
to demand this, because we have been brought hither against 
our will, and have never asked any one for protection nor for 
maintenance. We have taken no active part in this war, but in 
spite of this we have been treated as prisoners of war ever since 
our banishment from our homes. — We are," etc. 

Early in this year hundreds of families were going thtougfit 
the preliminary experiences which led to the Concentration 
Camps. Mrs. Uys of Braklaagte, District Bloemhof, says — 

"Colonel Miine came to my place and asked for Mr. Uys. 
I answered and said, ' My husband is on commando.' " Oa 
hearing this, he ordered his men to put paraffin on the furniture 
and things indoors, and told her to leave the house. She did not 
want to leave the house ; he pulled her out into the dining-roonj 
while her bedroom was in a roaring fire, so she had to leave. 
When she got outside, she found her children on a waggon by 
order of the Colonel, and then she was taken to Vryburg. Sha 
was kept in Vryburg for a month, and then sent to Kimberley 

The widow, Mrs. Roodt, from Ebenezer District, Schweizer* 
Reyneke, states — 

WOMEN IN 1901 223 

" Lord Methuen came to my place on February 19, and took 
all my cattle and sheep. I told him I am a widow for three 
years, and asked why he does it. He told me to keep still, and 
get ready to get on the waggon. I was taken to Vryburg, and 
sent to Kimberley Camp. What became of my house is unknown 
to me." 

Mrs. George Kalkenbrand, living at Lanstesta, District 
Bloemhof, Transvaal, states — 

" Lord Methuen came to our farm and asked me where the 
men are. I told him, *0n commando.' So he told me, 'I 
give you half an hour's time to leave the house, for it is to be 
burned down.' I cried, and could hardly do anything. I ran to 
the officers and pleaded for mercy ; in turning round from them 
my house was all in a flame. I saved nothing but my clothes I 
had on. My nearest neighbour is Mrs. Dazel — where my children 
ran to, and where I also went — who gave clothes and food. 
The next morning the column came and took both Mrs. Dazel's 
and my stock, and sent us to Vryburg. What became of Mrs. 
Dazel's house, I can't say. I was sent to Kimberley Camp, and 
Mrs. Dazel is still in Vryburg." 

Mrs. Abram Coetzee, living at Faurie's Graf, District 
Bloemhof, Transvaal, says — 

" My husband was on commando. When I saw the column 
coming, I got frightened, and fled into the garden with my 
children. They came to my house, and I saw them breaking 
the doors and windows, so I w.ent home and pleaded for mercy. 
I told them that I got frightened, and that the officer must please 
have mercy on me. He told me to hold my tongue, and so they 
burned my house in my presence, and what has not been burned 
or destroyed they took, with live stock, and sent me to Vryburg, 
kept me there for a month, and then sent me to Kimberley Camp." 

Mr. and Mrs. Snyman write — 

" We lived in Jagersfontein, Orange Free State, formerly, and 
left for Bechuanaland in 1894, where we lived on the border of 
the Kalahari Desert, occupying some farms from a company in 
the Orange Free State, close to the grounds of which Captain 
O. R. Styles, Lee, and Gammon were agents and managers for a 
company in England. Through all the difficulties we struggled, 
made a home, took out water, and cultivated the ground. In 
1899 we were so far on as to have a garden, and got to grow 
some vegetables. That was the first time, after all the long years 
of cultivating the ground, that we expected to reap something. 

"In October 1899 ^^^ war broke out, and all the Cape Police 
left, so we were left without protection whatsoever. We remained 


on our farm, and some seven or nine families also on their farms, 
being over loo miles from Vryburg. About a week before Christ- 
mas, one of our old boys, Aging, came to us and told us that 
the chiefs son, Jantje Montchus, has gone to visit Major Baden- 
Powell in Mafeking, and has returned and given orders to loot 
the Dutch and take whatsoever they have, and if there is any 
opposition, to put out their eyes and take the Dutch women 
as spouses for the chiefs. We were all very frightened, as the 
natives did just as they pleased ; every time they kept on stealing, 
and then sent word to the owners to follow them up if they 
dare. In the beginning of March they stole a lot of stock from 
Barend Breedenkamp from his place Dulfontein. The man 
being a haughty spirit, followed them up, when he was attacked 
by the thieves, who took his rifle and knocked his head full oE 
holes. He walked home all bleeding. His rifle, horse, saddle, 
and bridle were taken to the chief Montchus. 

"The next morning, on Sunday, my brother-in-law brought 
us the report that by all appearance the Kailirs were intent on 
murder. We fled that day with just our clothes to the nearest 
neighbour, and left the house only locked, with everything in it. 
At our neighbour's farm all the families came together, and we 
left for safety for Vryburg. About three weeks later we went 
back with a Boers' patrol to get the remainder of our goods left 
behind, but found nothing — everything taken out of the houses 
and the doors and windows destroyed. 

" In May the relief column came from Kimberley and Mafe- 
king, and on a proclamation from Lord Roberts all the men at 
home gave up their weapons. In June I was imprisoned till 
September. During my imprisonment my wife bought some 
cattle, which the military under Colonel Galway took and sold 
for the Imperial Government, for which I sent in my claim for 
compensation, but was told that the rebels do not gel any com- 
pensation, but they get disfranchisement for five years. 

" Having lost everything, I offered my services to the Muni- 
cipal Council of Vryburg to deliver them a supply of flowing 
water, which will pass through a nine-inch pipe, so as to put the 
whole township under water, which was accepted on my terms : 
'No water — no pay.' The military allowed me to work only 
to see the water ciphering a little, when I was stopped and sent 
as an undesirable to Kimberley Camp; after I defied Colonel 
Milne with the intelligence in a letter to bring any evidence 
against me, and why such steps are taken ag^nst me. From 
Vryburg we, with a batch of t jo, were packed in cattle, coal, and 
sheep trucks for Kimberley." 

WOMEN IN 1901 226 

This narrative, supplied by a clergyman's wife, was taken 
down from her lips by an English lady in Cape Town. As my 
object is to put the case of the sufferings of the women generally 
before the world, and not to bring trouble or obloquy upon any 
individual concerned in their treatment, I purpose in this case to 
suppress names and even substitute false initials in order to avoid 
identification. By this means the story can be told with perfect 
freedom, which is desirable, as it presents a good picture of the life- 
of the camps at that period, before the voice of public opinion had in- 
sisted on their reform, and a better class of persons formed the staff. 

"Mrs. Z. is Colonial bom, and her parents live at a farm'' 
near Wellington. Her husband was the minister of the little 

town of X , in the Orange Free State. Here they lived in great 

comfort until the occupation of Pretoria. For four months after 
this the British convoys were coming and going, and during this 
time Mrs. Z. showed many kindnesses to the British. She would 
send down loaves of nice white bread to the officers, and never 
turned away the poor hungry Tommies who came to her door 
begging for bread. She once sent down some nice tarts she had 
baked to the officer who had arrived with a convoy, who said 
he almost went * mad with joy ' at the sight of pastry, for he had 
not seen it for months. Poultry the officers had, turkeys, 
ducks, and fowls, but white bread and pastry they never got. 
She often had them at her house and gave them tea. There 
was one officer who came through the town off and on, whom 
she particularly liked. He was Colonel R., of some Staffordshire 
Regiment; he would often drop in for a friendly chat. She 
told a story to show how you could thoroughly depend upon his 
word. A doctor had called, attached to one of the British 
convoys. * I am sorry for you,' he said ; * the burghers have had 
a fine licking to-day. They actually tried to take one of our 
guns, but we gave them a drubbing, and they left forty dead on 
the field.* This made their household very sad, and when Colonel 
R. came in and sat down by the fire for a chat, he noticed it, 
and said, * What is the matter, Mrs. Z. ? You don't look as bright 
as usual to-day.' *Well,' she replied, *I hear you have been 
fighting the burghers.' * Yes,* he said, * plucky fellows ! They 
came on tremendously to-day, and as near as possible got our 
gun. They inflicted considerable loss, too, and suffered none 

themselves, except one man wounded. At least, I hear D is 

wounded, and he is a fellow worth removing.* * There you had 
it,* said Mrs. Z. * Out of one man's mouth came the truth, and 
out of another's a lie. If all the British officers were like Colonel 
R., this war would have been over long ago.' 



"At last the change came, and the clearing and farm-burning 

policy began, and reached quiet little X . At once the whole 

tone of things changed. A permanent garrison was established 
in the town, and the old friendly relations ceased between the 
inhabitants and the troops. There was nothing but suspicion 
and tyranny. One day an order went forth that before 4 o'clock 
the people must take everything they wanted out of their gardens. 
They obeyed, but did not take much, not knowing what the 
order meant At 4 p.m. exactly the troops were let loose, pulling 
up and destroying everything in the gardens. Vegetables only 
just forming were pulled up, peach trees without a peach on 
them knocked about and shaken, and in a short time the flourish- 
ing and pretty gardens were a desert. In future, whenever a 
convoy came through the town, the soldiers were so rude and 
overhearing that Mrs, Z. said she was generally ill for days after- 
wards. On one occasion an officer when going through the 
house actually made his way into her bedroom. ' Excuse me,' 
she said, 'these are my private quarters.' 'Private quarters?' 
he exclaimed ; ' there are no private quarters now.' And indeed 
there was scarcely anything you could call your own. They had 
a trap wliich the congregation had given to them, and which they 
therefore greatly valued. They had the greatest difficulty in 
keeping the trap. Three times it was commandeered by the 
miUtary, and three times she had to exert her own pereonal in- 
fluence to get it back. During these months of trial a certain 
Scotch chaplain, the Rev. Mr. McV., was a great help to her. 
He saved her ducks and fowls from the rapacity of the military, 
and interfered to prevent her husband from being sent away. 

"At last the blow fell which she had been dreading. Her 
house was searched by the military. The provost-marshal, Mr. 
Q., with four rough pohcemen, came to her house and said they 
were going over it to search for arms and ammunition. 

"She said, 'I will go round with you and show you every- 
thing. You will find nothing, because there is nothing to find.' 
So they all tramped into the house, and she opened everything 
for their inspection, and thereby saved her property in some 
measure from their rough handling. Mr. Q. seemed satisfied. 
'I see,' he said, 'you have no arms or ammunition — you're 
much too cool.' 'Mr. Q.,' said Mrs. Z., 'this time you've 
come as a tyrant ; next time I hope you'll come as a friend.' 

" Far worse than this was the day when the final blow came, 

and the town of X was to be destroyed. Major W carried 

out the order, and in the roughest, harshest way imaginable. 

"This took place early in 1901. The people were told to 

WOMEN IN 1901 227 

get ready to be taken away to the camp, and their homes were 
then overrun by the military. Mr. Z. was made prisoner, and 
carried ofif to a tent on the top of a hill outside the town ; 
his books, to the value of ;^Soo, were all burnt and destroyed ; 
flooring, window-frames, doors, were all pulled out by the soldiers 
and burnt for firewood. The comfortable home was a desert. 

* Where is your heart to do such things ? ' she exclaimed to Major 

W . * Heart ! ' he cried harshly, * heart ! we haven't got such 

a thing any more.' He went about the house like the Tommies, 
seeking for something to pick up for himself; but when she 
actually saw him opening her private drawer and taking the 
money which was now the sole barrier between herself and ruin, 
she snatched it out of his hand, and said, * You thief! you shall 
not have that That money is for me and my children ! ' She 
said he spoke to them all as if they were dirt, and before she 
left she had one more outburst. * Some day or other,' she said, 

* Major W , you will see your name written in capital letters 

for all the world to see ! ' * I know it,' he replied savagely, * and 
that is why I'm treating you like this now.' 

"The journey to the camp was not so wretched as that 
which many others had to endure, seeing that they were allowed 
to take with them a certain amount of clothing and bedding and 
food for the journey. Still, it was a miserable time for the 140 
people thus suddenly torn from their homes. One poor lady 
was very delicate, and the doctor said she could not stand the 
journey. He was justified in this opinion, for she died on her 
arrival in camp. They were travelling from Monday till Thursday, 
and it rained hard all the way. The sails of the waggon were 
all old and worn, and the rain came through, making them all 
sopping wet. Mr. Z. tried to fix up his mackintosh to shelter 
them, but the holes were too many, and the only result was that 
he got wet himself without making them any better ofi*. The 
last day they had no morsel of food after 1 1 o'clock. 

" On their arrival they found a few small bell-tents, but not 
half enough for the people to be accommodated. The conse- 
quence was that half of the people were thrown out on the bare 
veld for a fortnight, to fend for themselves as best they could. 
One lady, own cousin to the Rev. Mr. Steytler of Cape Town, 
had to do her best with two little babies on the damp ground. 
One of the forlorn party was an old gentleman of over eighty. 
These poor people had to make shelters of sticks and leaves, 
under which they crawled at night. It was wet on the top of 
them, wet at the bottom, wet all round. 

" After ten or twelve days Mrs. Z.'s husband was taken away 

from her. Her servants were being bribed to leave her; she 
herself lay sick, and there she was, left alone with her three little 
children, one of them an infant in arms. Her husband had no 
trial, nor was he treated like a gentleman, but abused and 
reviled. The only charge against him, apparently, was that he 
refused to take the oath of allegiance, or to ask the burghers to 
surrender. He had taken the oath of neutrality under Lord 
Robert's first proclamation, and had kept to it. But this was not 
enough, and he was condemned to be sent to India. 

"When Mrs. Z. heard this sentence, ill as she was she 
determined to protest. She went to the quarters of the Com- 
mandant and asked to see him. She was refused admittance, 
and told to go away. She asked again and yet again, and said 
that there she meant to stay until she saw the Captain. Still 
they replied that she could not see him, until in a kind of 
desperation she cried out loud, ' But why then ? Is he a kind 
of God, that he cannot see a woman asking about her own 
husband ? ' At this she heard a voice say, ' Let her come in 1 ' 
and she walked into the officer's presence. 

" ' I want to know,' she began, ' why my husband is being 
sent away. He is a gentleman, why have you not treated him 
as such ? What do your proclamations mean ? You have not 
kept to one of them. No wonder we all laugh at them. My 
husband obeyed your proclamation. What did he get for it? 
He was abused, robbed, half starved, and now he is sent away.' 
It was useless. The Commandant threatened her subsequently 
with the guard-house if she said such bitter things. Her reply 
was ready : ' I'm not a bit afraid of your guard-house, and I'm 
any day ready for your gallows.' 

" The camp was not enclosed, and they were free to come 
and go ; but this was not altogether an advantage, as it left the 
women exposed to the rudeness of the soldiers. They had to 
take care of themselves in every way. The tents were the 
ordinary bell-tents, and there were no huts or houses. The 
bell-tent, besides its confined space, has the sireat drawback that 
it entails constant stooping, the exact mi- 'i ■ only 

place where you can stand upright. No b . sscs 

were provided, and in some cases women ■ 
from day to day were ]y-~~. -n rV- '■■-'- ■ 
blanket under them, i ' 
feU in these small teiK 

with wet cloths on yc", ■ 

breath. In winter it \'. . 
the women sat up all [< 

WOMEN IN 1901 229 

fear of being frozen to death. When Mrs. Z. first went to 
the camp she was placed in the line of 'undesirables.' The 
position of this line of tents was bad, and the rations served out 
to them were on a different scale. They only had mealie-meal 
to eat, with meal twice a week. This went on till the commo- 
tion was raised in England about differentiation of rations, and 
finally all were served alike. But the quality of the food was 
never good. The flour was unfit to eat, the meat extremely 
poor, and the sugar a chocolate colour and very unpleasant to 
the taste. The military were not altogether to blame for the 
poor quality of the food, as the contractors were in some cases 
paid a good price. Some families arrived at the camp in so 
literally naked a condition that the military were forced to supply 

them with clothing. The contract was given to Messrs. Y 

& Y , who supplied perfectly useless moth-eaten cloth, and 

then boasted openly that they had now 'cleared their store of 
all their old rubbish.' The food contractors thought the women 
would blame the military and not them; but the women took 
the matter into their own hands. They took a quantity of flour, 
sifted it, made all the worms and weevils and creeping things 

into two neat packets, and sent one to * Messrs. Y & Y , 

contractors, with their compliments,' and another to the military. 

"After this the flour was better. The rations were served 
out weekly on a Monday ; but there was often irregularity, and on 
one occasion the whole week went by till Friday, and still no 
rations. Then twelve women went in a body to complain to 
the General. His answer was, * Well, it's lucky for you, you have 
any rations at all ; if we had left you on your farms, you would 
all have been starved to death.' But after this the rations were 
given out more regularly. The women in this camp were both 

outspoken and fearless. On one occasion, when Colonel R 

(Mrs. Z.'s friendly officer of former days) was passing through 
the town, he called to see Mrs. Z. in the camp. She gave 
him a cup of tea, or rather a little tin such as they used in the 
tents, and put into it a little white sugar which she kept by her 
for special occasions. The Commandant was passing by, and she 
also invited him to come in and take a cup of tea. * But,' she 
added maliciously, *you shall not have any of that nice white 
sugar, but the same black stuff" you give to us.' And she 
sweetened his tea with camp sugar. 

" On one occasion the camp was moved to a new site some 
distance away on the other side of the town. All the tents and 
goods were heaped on waggons, and such women and children 
as could not waUc were told to clamber up and sit on the top 


of the piles of goods. The ladies felt themselves in a difficult 
and undignified position, for they had to hold on for dear life 
as the oxen rattled through the sloots and dongas. One officer 
whom they met as they were crossing a sloot sang out, ' Rule 
Britannia, Britannia rules the waves.' ' But she will never rule 
the Boers,' sang back one of the women. 

" As they passed through the town, three or four officers were 
on the stoep of the cluh and made fun of them perched upon 
the wagons. Mrs, Z. could not refrain from trying to make 
them ashamed of themselves. ' Yes, look well at your deeds of 
heroism,' she cried as they passed. ' You can't catch De Wet, 
you can't catch Steyn, so you catch us helpless women and drive 
us through the town on waggons. Look well at us, the result of 
your deeds of heroism ! ' The officers left the sloep and went inside. 

" The women had to defend themselves sometimes in other 
ways than with their tongues. Sometimes soldiers got into the 
tents at night and gave them much trouble, One night a 
Tommy got into the camp, and entered four or five tents in 
succession, frightening the women. At last some thirty of 
them joined together and chased him out, pinching him black 
and blue. On the following night several women felt very 
nervous, and Mrs. Z. herself thought it better to have her light 
burning. There was a sort of camp policeman, but he was 
only a ' hands-upper,' and had never been of much service as far 
as the women were concerned, and they held him in small 
regard. 'That night, going the rounds, he saw her candle 
alight in the tent, and called out loudly, 'Put out that light.' 
She made no reply. ' Put out that light,' he called still louder, .. 
thumping on the ground. At last she called back, ' I skarit piit 
out my light. It isn't safe here, with soldiers prowling about' , 
' Why, I'm here to protect you,' he said. ' You ! what good are ' 
you ? ' she replied. ' Where were you last night when the Tommy 
got in ? ' ' Weil, put out your light,' he said, ' or I'll report you 
to the Captain.' ' Report if you please ; but I shall not put out 
my light.' She kept it alight, and the following day the guard 
reported the case to the Captain. But the military were not 
much more favourable to the hands-uppers than the women, and 
the Captain gave the man a snub for his pains. 'Would not put 
out her light, and treated you rudely, did she ? Well, considering 
what happened the night hefore, I expect Mrs. Z. was nervous, 
and if I had been in her place I wouldn't have put out my light' 

"This camp was much healthier than most, and com- 
paratively few children died. But they all got earache with the. 
damp and cold, and were always aihng more or less, and the. 

WOMEN IN 1901 231 

women too. Mrs. Z. never felt really well all the time she was 
there, and at last the doctor said if she remained any longer she 
would die. It was by no means pleasant to be ill in camp. 
The first doctor who was there was extremely harsh and cruel 
to his patients. He would scarcely glance at them as he went 
his rounds; and then if he did stop to speak to them, over- 
whelmed them with taunts and abuse. At last the women 
lodged a regular complaint against him, and asked him plainly, 

* Do you think we're dirt, that you treat us like this?' 

" A single case will serve to illustrate the methods of doctor 
and nurses in the camp. An old Mrs. K., from the Free State, 
a wealthy old lady and much respected, had been torn away 
from a comfortable and beautiful home to come and live in 
the camp. The change in her whole manner of living was too 
sudden, and she was unable to bear up against it. She had 
been used to every comfort and even luxury, and now had to 
suffer every hardship. She took to her bed. The nurse was 
summoned, but would not enter the tent, and would scarcely look 
at her. *0h, she's grumpy and full of pretence, like sll old 
people,' she said, and walked on. The second and third day 
she never came near the tent. On the fourth day it was clear 
that unless something was done the old lady would die, and the 
nurse was summoned again. Both the nurses were dressed to 
attend an officers' tea-party, and were extremely angry that they 
could not go because old Mrs. K. was dying. However, they came 
to the tent, saw that the old lady was sinking fast, and ordered 
everybody to leave the tent. Her sister refused flatly to go. 

* No,* she said ; * I've been nursing her all I could these days, 
when you would not come near her, and I am not going to 
leave her now.' That night she died. In the morning the 
nurse had said, when they asked her to call in the doctor, * I'm 
not going to bother the doctor j she's just grumpy.' 

"As sometimes happens, the chief nurse. Nurse O., was 
more intent upon amusing herself abroad than attending to her 
duties at home. But, in addition to this drawback, her temper 
was so violent that every one was in terror of her, and few dared 
ask her help. Even among the officers she was known as 

* Little Tyrant,' * Little Spitfire.' If you went to ask her for 
medicine, you must expect to get the door slammed in your 
face. On one occasion she left a little child of eight years old 
alone in the hospital tent all day, without food or medicine. 
Once, when Mrs. Z. herself went in, in the nurse's absence, — a 
daring thing to do, — all the patients started up in their beds and 
cried, * Give us food ! Give us food ! ' . . . 


"Mrs. Z. could not speak too highly of the way in which 
the women bore up under the severe strain put upon them. 
The military gave them a chance of iwo months in which 
to write to their husbands to beg them to surrender. Not a 
single one wrote, though every one knew what a difference it 
would make to their position. The hardships of the camp 
were so great that many times Mrs. Z. exclaimed, with tears 
in her eyes, ' If it had not been for the grace of God we could 
not have endured it.' The arrogance and selfishness of the 
officers were severely commented on by her, and she con- 
stantly held up Colonel R. as her idea of a true gentleman, and 
as being the only one she met. One officer said to her, ' This 
war is not going to end yet ; we're making too much money,'" 

Here is a little note I received from one of two sisters, 
who have been nearly two years prisoners of war. They 
had been several months in a camp, where they lived in great 
anxiety about their mother — 

"Feb. 15, 1901. 

" I could not answer your welcome note, which reached me 
safely, as I have been indisposed the last few days. Fancy, 
last Monday I sent in an application requesting to return home 
to my mother, who is so very lonely ; and on Tuesday I received 
a letter from her stating tliat she loo has been sent from homa 
She only lives half an hour from the village, and had of course 
to leave all her furniture and property unprotected, with only one 
native boy to look after it, and now has to live at her own expense 
in the village ; otherwise she had to go to a Refugee Camp too. 

"Oh, what a disappointment the news was to me and my 
sister ! for we both cherished the hope of receiving a favourable 
answer to our application. Oh, how this breaks my heart ! 
Excuse me for being so forward as to mention home affairs, but 
this means so much to me that I cannot refrain from saying 
something about it. 

"A new wash-bath was erected for the women, so that we 
have our bathing-place free again. Only two deaths occurred 
since you left." 

One of the two ladies who give the following account of their 
eviction from their homes is known to me, and herself told me 
the whole story as it appears here, only with amplified detail. 
The other, Mrs. Bosman, is a great invalid, and her husband is 
a prisoner of war — 

" Our farm," said Mrs. Bosman, " was six miles from S . 

About the middle of last March 1901, British troops arrived. 

WOMEN IN 1901 288 

under the command of Colonel Hickman, and took away the 
greater part of our cattle. For some time previously my 
daughter and I — she is a child of fourteen — ^had been deserted 
by all save one Kaffir boy. As you see, I am rather a helpless 
person, having lost my right arm, and having sustained an 
injury to one 1^ that causes me constant suffering, and leaves 
me with the power only to move about with difficulty on a 
crutch. When Colonel Hickman and his men took away our 
cattle, they also took away our boy to look after them. A few 
days later he returned to the farm, having escaped from the 
British. He and we lived in constant apprehension of another 
body of troops arriving to destroy our home. It was eight 
o'clock one morning when they came. I had not yet left my 
bedroom, but little Annie was working in the kitchen. When 
she saw the soldiers, she ran to the front door and tried to bar 
their progress, exclaiming that they should not come in. She 
was crying, — with anger, not fear, — and she said, 'You needn't 
think our men are so mean as to come in here and hide : they 
fight outside.' When the troops came into the house, she ran 
into my room, crying, * Oh, mother, the English are here ! ' 

" In all, I suppose there must have been two hundred soldiers. 
They surrounded a lot of our fowls and ducks, threw great pieces 
of wood into the midst of them to break their legs, and then 
picked them up and twisted their necks. The pigs they killed 
by sticking them with their bayonets. They also got together 
some of the horses, oxen, and sheep that Colonel Hickman's 
party had failed to capture. After wrecking everything inside 
the house, they b^an to smash up our carts. But two — a little 
fancy buggy that I used to drive about in, and a Cape cart — they 
set aside to take away. As a matter of fact I managed to save 
the cart. Just as they were moving off, the horses they had put 
in it proved obstinate. So I went up to the officer in command, 
Captain Robertson, and begged him to leave me the cart, as I 
was an invalid. He very kmdly consented, so the horses were 
taken out and the cart was left. 

" The boy fled to the hills on catching sight of the soldiers, 
and I saw no more of him. He was terribly afraid of what the 
British would do to him, because he had left them before. 

" In about an hour from their arrival the soldiers rode away. 
Captain Robertson politely saluting to me, and then my little girl 
and I were left alone in our ruined home. 

" We were obliged to walk over to my friend Miss Wessels* 
house. Just fancy ! six miles and terribly hot, and I a cripple 
who can hardly hobble with my crutch, and have to spend 


most of my time lying down. The journey did not take much 
more than three hours. My little girl helped me along a good 
deal We had to rest pretty often. But the worst part of the 
experience was to see the veld strewn with dead horses, sheep, 
and other animals. Next day I was driven back to my wrecked 
farm by one of Miss Wessels' servants. He put mules in my 
cart, and I drove it back again. I have learnt to use the reins 
with my left hand. Before saying a final good-bye to my house, 
I picked up some photographs and other things that the soldiers 
had dropped as they marched away." 

Miss Wessels, in whose house the invalid Mrs. Bosman had 
found shelter, said — 

"Our home was not broken up till some time afterwards. 

I lived in a house in S with my father — who is sixty years 

old and an invalid, and has been a member of the Volksraad 
for twenty years — and my sister. But passing columns of English 
soldiers had paid us occasional visits, but on each occasion they 
did Uttle besides insist on receiving our grain, which they 
scattered on the road. When they had left, we used to go and 
sweep it up and sift it, and then it was fit for use. They visited 
all the houses for this purpose, and often they threw the grain 
down in places where it was spoilt. In some cases they poured 
paraffin upon it, to be sure it would be useless. One day they 
came and took away my beautiful bicycle, that had come all 
the way from London and had cost me £s^' ^ made a great 
bother about having a receipt for it, and at last the officer 
gave me one for j^j. A few days afterwards we had notice 
that we should all have to leave in three hours. By good luck 
we had ample provisions left in our house, and so we sent a 
message round to our neighbours, who had also had notice to 
quit, telling them to come and share our supplies. For two 
and a half hours we were busy distributing our things among 
them. Then we asked them to go, and we spent the remaining 
half-hour in getting together bedding, clothes, a few cooking 
utensils, and other articles we proposed to take with us. The 
soldiers had removed all our vehicles except a little American 
spider, which had been stored away in pieces, and which the 
English had not known how to put together. We had that 
and Mrs. Bosman's cart, and the commanding, officer consented 
to our taking them with us, as we had two invalids — Mrs. 
Bosman and my father. The results were we were very much 
better off than our neighbours, many of whom started on their 
journey with next to nothing. We also had a great advantage 
in that my father had a sum of money to take with him. 

WOMEN IN 1901 «86 

'*At the end of the half-hour the soldiers came, our house 
was locked up, and we went off to the camp just outside the 
town, where we were to sleep that night At least, we didn't 
sleep. We all five lay on the ground under the waggon, and 
it was the first time I had passed a night in the open. Near 
us lay a poor old fellow, who kept muttering, being half- 
demented at what had occurred. At 3 a.m. I was up, and got 
permission to pay a last visit to my home to fetch something 
I had forgotten. When I drew near the place I saw three 
cows standing outside the gate. Those cows had twice been 
taken away by the English soldiers, but on both occasions 
they escaped and came back, because their calves had been 
left behind in our yard. I entered the house and struck a 
light, only to find that everything was smashed and topsy-turvy, 
the soldiers having ransacked the place since we left It was a 
touching last look at home — ^with the breakfast things still on the 
table amid the ruins, and the yeast on the stove. My sister came 
to call me back, as they were inspanning. We led the cows to the 
camp, and the Commandant very kindly gave us permission to 
take them with us. The convoy started just at dawn. 

" But I must not forget to tell you about the two old ladies 
whom the English had decided to leave behind, because the ambul- 
ance doctor said they were too old and feeble to be moved. 

"When we heard they were not to be disturbed, we took 
some of our pictures and other valuables round to their house 
for safe custody. But what happened was this — ^just before the 
convoy started, their house was visited and ransacked, and the 
old ladies were carried out and put on one of the waggons. 

"Day was dawning when the convoy started from S . 

There were about 250 carts and waggons, the former filled 
with English infantry, the latter with our women and children. 
We five, — my father, my sister, Mrs. Bosman and her daughter 
and myself, — with two servants, shared a waggon with three 
other families, making twenty-two persons in all. We were all 
squeezed together, and of course horribly uncomfortable. We 
had no covering, and the sun soon became terribly hot Mrs. 
Bosman's c^, with our belongings, was tied behind. The 
bellowing of the cattle and the crying of the children made a 
never-ending din. The sufferings of our two invalids became 
so intense that I made representations to Captain Robertson, 
who very kindly found us a waggon with a cover, and during 
the remainder of the journey we had it to ourselves. The Boers 
were in the neighbouring kopjes, and shots were heard every 
now and then. They were skirmishing about, and every now 


and then getting hold of some of the cattle that accompanied 

the convoy. At the river, that is seven miles from S , we 

were delayed a long time by more serious fighting. The Boers 
were firing from the opposite bank, and the little Tommies took 
up positions in front of the waggons, so that our people could 
not fire on them without endangering us. But I saw the dust 
thrown up hy huUets that went into the ground a few yards off. 
A good few were killed and wounded, as we found afterwards 
when the convoy restarted, and additional ambulance waggons 
were wanted. One of the waggons selected for the purpose was 
that which contained the two old ladies I spoke about before. 
They afterwards told me how they were hoisted out and deposited 
in the road, where they feared they would be left But at last 
some compassionate people came along, who lifted them into 
another waggon. On the first day we only got about ten miles. 
The fighting delayed us a lot, and, besides, it was very slow 
work getting along with a number of waggons going abreast 
Of course a formation in single file would have made a long linej 
and one very difficult to guard. I forgot to mention one very 
exdting moment in the fighting at the river. A burgher on the 
other bank rode right out into the open, killing several horses, 
Oh, such a lot of httle Tommies fired at him, and I made sure he 
would be killed ; but not one of them hit him, and he got away 
all right with the horses. 

" At night we had a very rough time ; the soldiers weren't 
kept separate from us. As to food, our ;little party had nothing 
to complain of. You see, unlike most of the others, we had 
brought ample supplies in our cart. That night we cooked a 
fine turkey, and I made some coffee on an oil-stove included 
among our belongings. It was pitiful to see the sufferings of 
other people. Water and fuel were terribly difficult to get. We 
helped as far as we could ; but of course, on occasions of that 
sort, every family has to look after itself, and we had two invalids 
on our hands. Rations were served out to all every day ; but 
I don't know what they consisted of, as we never applied for any, 
having no need to. Yes, we did have one thing— a little pot of 
jam that Mrs. Bosman managed to get ! Seeing an officer with 
a pot of jam, Mrs. Bosman asked for it, and he said, ' All right ; 
you shall have it.' I think he was sorry for her because she is a 
cripple. But none of us were allowed to retain our own meal. 
Officers kept riding along and asking the people in every waggon 
if they had meal, as it must be given up. One little girl be^ed 
very hard to be allowed to keep a cupful, to make her invalid 
grandmother some soup ; but she wasn't allowed to. 

WOMEN IN 1901 287 

" After the first night, the camping arrangements were so far 
improved that the troops were kept apart from us. On the third 
day it rained in torrents, and you can imagine the sufferings of the 
poor creatures, huddled together, with no shelter overhead. There 
was a long halt at Orange River Bridge, where there were a lot of 
horrid men, — the scum of South Africa, — who jeered at us and said 
all the insulting things they could think of. 

" We arrived at Aliwal North Camp on the fourth day. Here 
we had another stroke of good luck, as compared with our poor 
neighbours. A friend of ours who had been there for some time 
came to meet us, and gave us useful hints as to which was the 
healthiest part to pitch our tents, 
where we could obtain them. Remarks from Ladies' 

J Ai: ^1 ^r^^ • Commission Report. 

and so on. Aliwal, of course, is 

the best of all the Concentration ^ " ^f'^^'^'^''^^^' - ^^""T!^ ^^^ 

^ Ti . ' n *. Superintendent, and thoroughly re- 

Camps. But we saw an infinite o^ise the caAip.»-Cd. 8^, p. 56. 
amount of suffering there. Every 

night a lot of respectable people had to sleep in the open. It 
was pitiful to see them shivering in their blankets, which were 
often saturated with rain, and sometimes stiff with frost. We 
enjoyed the tremendous advantage of having money. It enabled 
us to procure a little house made of wood and canvas, — a great 
improvement as a sleeping apartment on the tents, which let the 
rain come streaming in upon you. The rations were very poor, 
and included coffee that made the children ill. Half a tin of 
condensed milk was supposed to last each person a week. We 
supplemented our rations by 
purchasing food at the store, ^^^^93; See Rcui^, p. 52. 

*^, i-u" u I "The thnving and well -stocked 

where everything was about shops were also indicative of a toly 
twice the usual price. We well-to-do population.— p. 56. 
still had one of our cows to 

supply us with milk. We paid people to bake our bread and 
wash our clothes — so that they should have some money to 

buy food with. There was a « /r«,/._At the first interview with 

great deal of sickness m the Mr. Greathead (Superintendent) he 

camp, and several deaths OC- was asked what the fuel ration was. 

curred every day He'replied, ' As much coal as they can 

"During the 'six weeks that X'^l^^^t'^^'^.e. ?o" t 

I was in camp we received coal inaccurate. ... One loyal English 

only twice, and then only enough woman said, *You get very little 

to cook one meal. coal, and no wood, unless you are 

"When we went to the cheeky."'-pp. 53, 54. 
Commandant and asked permission to go, he said we certainly 
might do so. But he made the condition that we should wire 

to the Commandant of the place we were bound for and get his 
permission. We wired to Cape Town, but received no reply. 
This, we found, was the general 
experience. An answer was 
never sent, and so the peoplehad 
to remain in the camp. But I took the matter energetically in 
hand, explaining that we wanted to get to Cape Town in order 
to sjul for England ; and at last, on the ground that Mrs, Bosman 
was an invalid, the Commandant gave us a free railway pass to 
Cape Town — a pass, that is, for Mrs. Bosman, her daughter, 
and myself. We left little Annie at a school in Cape Town, 
and took the first ship to Southampton. 

" When we left, my father and sister were trying very hard to 
get permission to leave, but we have not yet learnt whether they 
have succeeded. By the by, my father nearly got into trouble 
with the authorities. He had been to hear the Dutch Reformed 
minister, and came away disgusted, remarking, ' Why, he talks 
nothing but politics.' This being reported to the officials, next 
day they sent for my father, who repeated that the minister's 
discourse was entirely political. The minister, who was present, 
said that was not true, whereupon my father replied, ' Well, surely I 
ought to know politics when I hear them, after all the years I have 
been in the VoUcsraad." ' Then it is God's politics I am preaching,* 
the minister said ; and they let my father off with a warning. 

"Most of our own ministers had been sent away as un- 
desirables early in the war. Some people are led to suppose 
that the undesirables were bad characters. As a matter of fact 
they are some of our best and most influential people." 

Miss Cameron's story of the long journey of her family and 
herself by convoy to Volksrust and Pie term aritzburg Camps is 
written in diary form — 

" Amsterdam, New Scotland, Thursday, February 14, 1901. — 
This morning, about eight o'clock, the cavalry of the enemy 
entered the town by the Glen Aggie road. They soon spread all 
over the town, the infantry following. In a short time every 
garden and tree was stripped of everything ; not even a green 
peach remained. All the live stock was taken ; the cattle and 
horses were collected by natives and driven off, while the poultry, 
pigs, etc., the soldiers made off with. We locked up all the 
doors and remained in the house, looking on. At about 
II a.m. two intelligence officers came to search the house; 
they went through every room searching for arms and ammuni- 
tion, and took away a revolver and cartridges we had. After 

WOMEN IN 1901 289 

some talk they left, saying another officer would come in the 
afternoon, from whom we would get our instructions. About 
3 p.m. General Campbell arrived, with his staff; he was very 
abrupt, and the reverse of pleasant in his bearing. He said 
they, the English, had come to give us food and protection. 
Mother replied that he could not give us what we had not asked 
for, and that we were quite satisfied with the food and protection 
our own people afforded us. Then he said we were to be ready 
to leave the following day (Friday) at lo a.m. ; and after a deal 
of talk and argument he left, highly offended. 

"Friday. — Worse than ever. Another column has come 
through Sweede Poort, has just passed the house, and one can truly 
see the place is over-ridden. ... At about 1 1 p.m. the provost- 
marshal. Captain Daniels, with four others, entered the house 
and began searching the place again. Mother was absent when 
they came. It would be impossible to describe how they 
rummaged and pulled everything about; the mattresses and 
pillows were felt, doubled up, and patted ; every box, great or 
small, was thoroughly overhauled and searched to the very 
bottom; the fireplaces, bookshelf, kitchen, pantry, loft, every 
nook and corner was ransacked, and they took what they wanted 
— soap, candles, mealies, etc., even to white sewing cotton. 
When mother came in, an officer turned to her, and said, 
* Those devils of Boers have been sniping at us again, and your 
two sons among them, I suppose. If I catch them they will hang.' 

"Saturday, i6th. — The place has been in a whirl all day. 
People never stop coming. A fight is going on out Swaziland 
way. We hear the cannon and saw the I.L.H. with large guns, 
and later another lot of troops go out to reinforce, we suppose. 

" Sunday. — At dawn Captain Ballantyne came, and said that 
a waggon would arrive in a few minutes, and we would be 
allowed a quarter of an hour to load, and only to take the most 
necessary things, as fifteen were to go on one waggon, and once 
in the English camps we would be supplied with everything that 
we required — food, medical comforts, etc. So we were one of 
three families in the waggon. The MuUers, from Middelburg 
district, living in Mrs. DaveFs bam, sixteen in all, including an 
old woman over eighty years of age and a baby not three months 
old, were put on to a trolley, with a half tent fixed at the back. 
There was not even room for them all to sit. We — that is, all 
the people — were taken across the spruit to the English camp, 
about half a mile out from the town. The waggons were drawn 
in rows, and each one thoroughly searched by a party of men, 
everything taken off, and eadi box and bag carefully looked 

through. Not a thing, however small, escaped inspection ; e 
housewives' needlecases were opened and looked through, What 
the men considered you did not need was taken. Feather beds, 
clothing, mattresses, chairs, chests, etc, odds and ends of all 
kinds, were piled in heaps and burnt. Foodstuff — flour, sugar, 
tea, etc. — was also taken. In the afternoon at s o'clock we 
went on from there, the oxen never being outspanned, and 
trekked about twelve miles. There were over 400 waggons. 
We would trek a few yards, when there would be a blockj and 
one would have to wait for the waggons to straighten out, so 
that most of the time was spent in waiting for a way 10 clear. 
It rained all day, and almost without exception eveiy waggon 
leaked. Many people had not a dry thread in their waggons by 
the evening. No halt was made, no food partaken of since 6 a.m. 
At 9 p.m. we outspanned at the top of a bult in a hard rain ; no 
food to eat, and not even a drink of water to be had. It was 
pitiful to hear the children crying all night in the wet wagons for 
water and food and not be able to get a thing for them. The 
oxen were just tied to the yoke in the mud — no grazing. At 
dawn the next day the oxen were inspanned as they stood from 
the yoke, and we trekked past Volve Koppies and outsparmed at 
about g a-m. Here we found out that we had to furnish the 
driver and leader of our waggon with food from what had been 
left us. We received no rations at all, no food of any kind, no 
wood or water. The driver had to walk fully a mile to fetch 
water, and we had some planks thai we made fire of It rained 
all day. This evening Lieutenant Pratt came and told mother 
he had had instructions to remove our waggon from the others, 
and that a guard was to be placed over us to prevent speaking to 
other people. So we were drawn away from our trek, and four 
armed soldiers were put by the waggon. 

"Tuesday, 19th, — We reached Piet Relief to-day. The 
English have a large troop of cattle and horses, which are driven 
into every mealie field or cultivated ground as we pass, — generally 
Kaffir lands, — and in a few minutes everything is totally destroyed. 
Also the cattle, goats, etc., are taken, as they might furnish food 
for the Boers. At Volve Koppies we saw a Kaffir hut on fire, 
and the troopers warming their hands in the blaze. This 
evening we received a leg of mutton, the first food of any kind 
supplied to us since leaving on Sunday morning. We are, of 
course, on one side with our guard. The roads are bad beyond 
description — mud and slush everywhere ; one is not able to 
obtain a clean standing-place. The ruts and holes are awful. 
I did not think it possible for a waggon to go over such places, 

WOMEN IN 1901 241 

but we just bang in and out, over anywhere. If you capsize, 
stick fast, or come over, it is all right ; every waggon must take 
its chance. The drivers and leaders are natives, many unfaans 
who have never driven before, with a few white men as con- 
ductors. Our guard have pitched their tent beside the waggon ; 
there is always one on guard at night. During the day, while 
we trek, one is by the waggon, and at the outspan all four. 

" Wednesday. — Arrived at a mission station — Bergen, I think; 
Johannes the name of the clergyman in charge, a German. 
It is raining heavily, and has been wet all day. Surrounded by 
a ring of English camps. 

" Sunday. — We are on a very dirty spot. Heaps of sheep, 
the only food we get, are killed every day by the people and 
Kaffirs, and the skins and insides are left all over the place, just ^ 
where the sheep are killed. The stench is almost unbearable. 
We have been here several days, and are in a ring of English 
camps. No convenience of any kind is put up for the women 
or children, and it is impossible to go out in the daytime without 
being seen. This morning there is no rain, so the people are 
taking the things out of the waggons. I saw a woman wring 
out her pillows and blankets and the corners of her mattress, 
all soaking wet, and she is but one of the many. 

"Monday. — We have moved on about two miles to a new 

"Wednesday. — Came through a very bad drift to-day. Are 
still in Bei^en, at Martin's farm. 

"Thursday. — Trekked all day long. The roads and drifts 
are something cruel — so bad, and the poor oxen are not allowed 
time enough to rest during the short outspan. At 7 p.m. we 
outspanned just by a river. At 11 p.m. came the order we were 
to go on. It was pitch dark. Our waggon was one of the 
front ones; so on we went in the dark over very bad roads, 
slippery with rain, and cut up with traffic. We crossed four 
dreadful drifts ; and if our driver had not been a very good one, 
I do not know what would have happened. We outspanned 
at 2 a.m. Only a few waggons were with us. Several 
accidents happened, which blocked the road ; a Mrs. Brodrick 
was hurt on her chest by a box falling on her when the waggon 

"Friday. — ^We have outspanned all day by the Pongola, 
waiting for the other waggons to come out On Saturday we 
took the whole day to make a short trek. This afternoon we 
started again in the pouring rain. At ten p.m. we stuck fast 
and almost overturned in the mud. As we were near the camp, 



the guard went for help; and we had 36 oxen on, and tried 
until 2 a.m. to get out, without success. Next morning we wi 
pulled out. 

"Sunday. — We trekked as far as the Red Paths, where we 
slept. The Red Paths is one of the worst bits of road on oni 
of the worst roads in the Transvaal, Monday : We went up thi 
Red Paths to-day. The waggon only had bedding and clotheJ 
on, and it took three spans to take our waggon up ; the trek-tow 
broke four times ; the mud is dreadful ; it is all the oxen can dd 
to drag themselves along. Outspanned other side of Bovian*i 
river. Tuesday : Raining all day. Standing over waiting for thi 
Other waggons to come up. The road in front blocked by tt 
convoy. Annie very sick. Must be the food, as we have onl] 
meat, and mealies when we can pick them ; no bread, na 
even meal for porridge, and not able to get anything for love 01 
money. Our guard was removed to-day by Captain MacStead,* 
East Yorkshire Regiment. We have had men from the Suffolk- 
R^ment, 5th Lancers, Dublin Fusiliers, East Yorkshire, and 
Gordon H^hlanders. They were always willing to help in any 
way, and we had nothing at all to complain of from the men 
they were good to us. 

"Wednesday. — Annie been very ill all day. A driving, misty 
rain. We are about ao miles from Utrecht, unable to obtain 
anything in the shape of food, not even meat, as the sheep hav& 
been left behind on entering this district There is a lot of 
sickness, owing to the wet weather and lack of food. The road 
is one mud-hole ; waggons stick fast in the mud going downhill ; 
it is worse than any we have yet come over. We have three 
spans of oxen on, and one ox fell down from exhaustion, and was 
beaten and dragged out of the road in a dying condition. Oxen 
with lung sickness are made to pull until they fall down in the 
yoke to die. 

"Thursday. — Cold, misty rain. Mother and Annie very ilL 
Nothing whatever to give them. Entered Utrecht to-day. 
Unable to buy bread, as the people have either given or sold 
what they had. Ordered to go through the town at 9 p.m. ; 
raining, and very dark. Were kept over an hour at the oiBce, 
then ordered to cross the river to the camp. Earlier in the 
evening a wa^on capsized in crossing, but this did not prevent 
them taking all the remaining families over in the dark. 

" Friday. — Had to go at 3 a.m. for rations, the first we have 
received since leaving, February 17 — flour i lb., sugar i oz., 
coffee I oz., salt J oz., per adult. Made a very long trek u 
4 p.m. ; outspanned in the pouring rain ; no fuel. 

WOMEN IN 1901 248 

"Saturday. — At the Umbana Camp; received three days* 
rations — 3 lbs. mealie meal, i^ oz. sugar, ditto coffee. Came on 
to Newcastle ; sent the boy with money and note to buy bread. 
The guard refused to allow the boy to pass the bridge. It is 
raining, and we have no fuel. 

"Simday. — Refused to allow boy to go over to the 
town to buy bread,, though mother went down to the bridge 
and asked the guard to allow boy to get bread for us. 
Later a soldier volunteered to go and buy bread for us, which 
he did. 

" Monday. — Left Newcastle yesterday afternoon ; arrived here 
(Volksrust) 9.30, in the rain. The station a sea of mud and 
slush. No provision of any kind made for the women and 
children, over 300. We bought what we required at the refresh- 
ment-room, but many had no money. The rooms formerly used 
by the Z.A.R. as customs offices were thrown open, and the 
women and children herded in until there was scarce standing- 
place. Those left out, ourselves among them, were loaded on 
to two trolleys and taken to what was formerly the Volksrust 
Hotel, where fourteen of us spent the night in a small single 
bedroom. It contained nothing but a table. One of our party 
brought two rugs with her, which we spread on the floor and sat 
down until morning. 

" Monday. — A pitiless downpour. Had to go to the station 
to see about our few possessions ; we had not even a rug with 
us. The goods in the luggage vans had been off-loaded on to 
the station in a heap in the rain, and all the women and children 
in one struggling mass, each trying to separate their belongings 
from the heap. The trucks containing the bulk of the goods 
had been left behind at the reversing station at Majuba, or rather 
Boscobella. Our things were in the trucks, so we had to wait 
about in the rain and slush until that afternoon, late, when the 
trucks came in and were off-loaded, not on to the platform, but 
on to the bank on the other side, into pools of water and soft 
slush. It would be impossible to describe the confusion of 
the scene — ^natives on the trucks off-loading, just pitching off 
everything pell-mell. I saw a bag of meal burst open from 
end to end when it reached the ground, and the same with 
boxes — they stood in the water and mud until loaded on to a 
trolley. Everybody had to claim their goods as they came 
off the truck. The bank was lined with women, shouting and 
gesticulating as their things were tumbled off, so that the uproar 
was deafening. 

"Sunday, March 17. — A week of rain and misery. We are 


still at the Volksrust Hotel — eleven of us in a small vers 
room ; barely room to sleep ; we eat and live outside, 
camp is quite close to us in the town, among the houses. Mar^ 
of the tents are standing in mud poois j the only concern of tb 
laager Commandant seems to be that the tents should be pu 
up nicely in rows — where, does not matter; two bell-tent 
between three families. Mother would not take those showi 
to her, one single, one lined, standing in mud pools ; the raiq 
had washed right through, in one side, out at the other. S 
told Superintendent Nixon they were not fit for even a dog, a 
declined to move into them. 

"Monday, i8th.— Went to-day to receive rations. We hav( 
to stand in a lump in front of a window and give in the radorip 
ticket — lib. dour, i oz, sugarand coffee, ^oz. salt per day,and 2 lbs. 
meat per week for an adult ; children under twelve, half-rations. 
The flour was all right; sugar and coffee very bad; the meat 
simply vile. The sheep killed are very poor ; then the meat iS' 
piled up in a tent for the night, and very often, when served out 
next day, still quite warm and going sour. 

" Friday, April 19th. — At past eight last night, just as mother 

was going to bed, came vrith message that Major - ■- wanted 

to see her at once. Mother replied, ' Impossible ; she would come 
in the morning.' The man said be did not dare to take such a 
message, mother must come ; so eventually mother, Aimie, and 
Polly Coltzer went with the policeman, who took them to tha 
Major's house, where they were shown into his bedroom. As 
mother passed through, the soldier put his arm across the door to 
prevent Aimie from entering, but she lifted up his arm, saying, ' I 
am her daughter,' and with Polly entered the room, The Majoi 
was in a dreadful rage. ' You are Mrs. Cameron?' 'Yes.' 'You 
are a most dangerous woman. It has come to our ears that you 
have been speakmg against the British Government, What do 
you think your puny personality can do against the mighty British 
Government ? You will not be treated as a woman, but as s 
man. You are an Englishwoman.' ' All my sympathies are with 
the Boers.' ' Policeman, make a note of that.' When mother 
tried to speak, the Major said, ' Silence ; you are under our 
thumb, and we will keep you there.' 'That remains to be 
proved.' ' You dare to say that again ! You will be taken to 
prison at once. You understand?' 'I understand.' 'AH the 
concessions we intended making you, will be withdrawn. You 
will not be allowed to receive any parcels. You hear?' 'Am 
I not to be allowed to defend myself?' 'Policeman, a. guard 
is to be placed over this woman to-night, and she is to come up 

WOMEN IN 1901 246 

to the office to-morrow at lo a.m., under escort.' * If you wish 
to see me to-morrow morning, I give you my word to appear. 
An escort will be unnecessary.' * Your word ! ' * Yes, my word. 
I refer you to the whole of Ermelo district and half of Piet Retief 
as to whether I keep my word or not.' The Major then repeated 
his former instructions to the policeman about the escort and 
guard. Mother bowed and said 'Thank you,' and walked out, 
and was escorted back by the policeman. A guard was posted 
at the room that night, and next morning mother and my sister 
were escorted by a policeman through the street to the office. 
Arrived there they were informed that the Major was too 
unwell to attend his office, so had to return. Later on a police- 
man was sent to inform them to appear before the Magistrate ; 
they were again escorted to the office. The sum of what he 
said was that it had come to their knowledge that mother was 
stirring up the camp and encouraging the Boers in their resist- 
ance by saying that they would win, and if he had occasion to 
reprimand again, * he would come down on her most severely.' 
Some days later the two families in the room with us — Mrs. 
Strauss and Mrs. Coltzer — ^were removed to the new camp beyond 
the railway station, outside of the town. Mother, my sister, and 
self went to the office and inquired if we might not also go to the 
camp, as the superintendent told us he had received orders that 
we were to remain where we were. The Major asked if we 
meant to live there. Mother said yes. *Then,' he said, *you 
will not be allowed to live in the camp. You are fortimate in 
having a room.' Mother said the room did not suit ; she wished 
to change, if possible ; and he replied she could do so. 

"Thursday, April 25th. — Late this afternoon we received the 
following : — 

" * From Assistant District Commander to Mrs. 


***VoLKSRUST Hotel, Volksrust, 4^'^ 25, 1901. 
" * I beg to inform you that you are to proceed to Maritzburg 
to-morrow, 26th inst., by the 11 p.m. train. A waggon shall 
convey your luggage to the station.' 

"We did not leave until the following Sunday evening, as 
no waggon was sent to convey our luggage to the station until 
then. We arrived here on the 29th April, and are at present 
still here. B. R. Cameron, Prisoner of War. 

"Green Point, Pibtbrmaritzburg, Natal, 

May 31, 1901," 

"April i6, igor, 

" We were in the camp at Vredefort Road for two months, 
and we got let out at last at the request of an aunt who is 
a Jingo. We had suffered much anxiety at our home before 
we were taken prisoners. Still we did not want, as the Boer 
commandoes used to give us supplies of meat and meal.^ 

" When the British came to Vredefort, a trooper whom we 
questioned told us we should have to go as our name was on the 
list, but that we should be given plenty of time to prepare, 
began at once to prepare ; it was well we did, for at three o 
we were told that we must leave in half an hour's time. Then 
there was a scene of great confusion. We worked as hard as wb; 
could, and some soldiers came in to help us, but as fast as they; 
helped with one hand they stole with the other. The officersi 
grumbled at the amount we got together, and the waggons were 
piled up high, for most of the inhabitants of Vredefort were 
turned out at the same time. 

" Our party consisted of my old grandfather, my mother, and 
a brother — a boy of eighteen. After we had started we soon 
stopped, and spent the night only about half an hour's distance 
from the town, in sight of our own homes. Here we were in the 
open wagons — no shelter — and many people without food, 
had fortunately brought a good supply. The children kept 
on crying through the night. 

"The camp at the station is only three hours from Vredefor^, 
but we took two days to reach it, because we made zig-zags all the 
way to guard against surprise. The second night we also slept 
in the open, and we feared for grandfather's life in the bitter 
cold. When we reached the station towards evening, we were 
ordered to cross to the other side, then to recross, then to 
cross back again, and it was late into the night when we could 
settle do^Ti, and again the poor, hungry, tired children were cr^ng 
and fretting. 

" Our camp was a real prison. There were entanglements 
all round it, and then fences, and sentries were placed at thff 
entrances. The superintendent was nice, but the Commandant 
was a terrible man, every one, even the Tommies, trembled at the' 
sound of his voice. He had a lock-up or guard-room for womeA,' 

' This [Emark is interesting as showing that families were in lii 
a drain upon the commandoes. 

WOMEN IN 1901 247 

who offended him. I have known women to be dragged from 
theu: beds at night to be put into this guard-room. A spirited 
woman, who hung her washing 

onthe iron fence, wasimprisoned . "^«>/^*«f.--No me^ of dis- 
, ^ 'J . .vT 4. apline except fining." — Cd. 893, p. 

because she said to the sentry j^ r •& ^o* v 

who ordered her to take it off: 

" ' Well, tell the Commandant then that he must make another 
wire fence for the washing, for we can't spread it on the bare 

"Another woman got into trouble because the officer 
complained to her about the Boers pulling up railway lines. 
She replied: 

" * Well, it is their own railway j; can they not do what they like 
with their own?' 

" She was ordered out of her bed and put into the guard-room, 
and asked for her two little children and a mattress. It was so 
draughty that she lay all night on the flap to keep the wind from 
the children on the mattress. Both these women were removed as 
undesirables ; no one in the camp knew where they were taken. 

"Every one received suffi- 
cient meal, but not meat. Those " Meat ration is issued daily, and 
who had not money to buy the usual difficulty arising out of the 
rjri.i_ 1 ^1- thinness of the meat has been ex- 

food for themselves must have penenced. Bully-beef had on two 
gone very short. The washing occasions to be issued instead of fresh 
had to be done by themselves meat, when the latter was too bad 

in a stagnant pool, which be- i^.f*- No reserve of rations is kept 

u J r . . m the camp." — C^d. 893, p. loi. 

came very bad from constant ^ ^^ ^ 

use. The confinement and " JrarA/«^.— Clothes are washed 
want of exercise w^ very much j^^faS^a^^e&^ri^! 

felt, for firewood was very The women are only allowed to go 
scarce, and it was impossible out and wash their clothes at 7 a.m. in 
to keep warm. Every one slept parties of from seventy to one hundred 

on the floor, and the wind blew ^ ^^7' "^''^ ^ .P^ljf ^ ^^^,7*- '^^f 

, ^, . ? c .^ . . washing place is thoroughly unsuit- 

m at the sides of the tent. ^ble in every respect, but no other is 

" The four of us shared a available."— p. 100. 
tent, and grandfather was ill all "The lack of water makes cleanli- 

the while, and never got over ^^^ ^^'^y impossible, "-p. 103. 
the first two nights in the veld. " Fuel.— At one time the people 

One morning I said to him: were dependent on /mist,' which 

< n^^A^^ .;^„ «,.,«4. ^^<- «^ they collected, but owmg to mihtary 

'Grandpa, you must get up, regulations this had to be stopped." 
the sun is shmmg nice and „ , , ,. ^ 

warm outside.' He said: «I ■^'],^±,r1!S':r^^^^J. 

cannot move a limb, I have crowdmg. More tents are needed at 

gone stiff with the cold.' And it once to abate serious overcrowding. 

was truL-, he could not move at More kartels are ureently required, 

all. Then inflammation of the P,"*J,""f.;''i^„^*'J^*'" '*"'" 

lungs came on, and he said we "' "" "" """ " "" 
had better take him to the hos- 

pital. He had a bed to lie on 

any bed frames. 
" Ctmilcry. — Very roughly kcptr 
and unenclosed." ~ — 

"Mortuary. — Very unsatis&ctary ; 

at the hospital, but the doctor did near Ihe mule kraal. Very ra^ed 
not go near him until we asked bell-tent without trestles. Corpsei 
him to look at him. Then he '""PPed in bUnkeU only lay «1 
, , , . , - > stretchers on the ground. No laeanHi 

ju5t glanced at him, and said : „f ^^^^-^^ animlls and idlen oau. 
' Oh I hes past my help ! and On the recommendation of the Com. 
went away. Next day grandpa "littee it was removed at once to tfai 
died. He was a strong man hospital enclosure, and trestlra pm. 
,_ r . ] f vided. The superintendent also in- 

before we were taken from our ^^^.^ f„, ^.^ ^^ simn.ds."-' 
home. His body was put into p. 102. Ladies' Report. 
a packing-case, and he was See Mrs. Fawceii. Report of meet- 
buried beside the railway line, ing and letter to the rfmej, March 24, 
Where the many others who '902, where the need of calico '=--' 
J. J u ■ J 111 J shrouds IS characterised as ' foolii 

died were buried. Wood can- ^-nsational and wickedly misleadii 
not be used to mark the graves. See also Eethulie Camp, 
because it would be carried 

off for firewood. Every day there was one funeral, and sor 
times there were as many as six. 

" I never felt well all the time I was in the camp, It was' 
very dull, for no one dared to speak much, as the camp 
full of spies who carried the least word to the Commandant. 
But none of the women wanted their husbands to give in. The, 
Commandant was very rude to us when we went away. Whei 
we were standing on the platform, he came up to us and said 
' What business have you to be going when your husbands aii< 
brothers and sons are still fighting ? Why don't you tell them to 
give in ? ' Then he turned to me, and poked out his finger ani' 
thrust it into my face, and said : ' And what are you doing here? 
Writing, writing, always writing ! What business have you lo be 
complaining, and then leaving the camp?'" 

This story is told by a widow, who regards herself 
Englishwoman, though born in the Orange Free State — 

"On the i6th April 1901, a British column arrived at our 
vills^e under General Elliot, on the afternoon of which day 
large number of the inhabitants of the place got notice to get. 
ready to proceed with the column to the railway camp, Vredefort 
Koad. The people were allowed to take some clothing and 
bedding, which were packed in open waggons, on which they 
had to sit in the boiling heat in daytii 

WOMEN IN 1901 249 

" Although the distance to be travelled was only sixteen miles, 
they had to submit to the torture of two days and nights on the 
veld. A start was made about four o'clock p.m., but the first 
halt was made within sight of the village. No tents were pro- 
vided, and no other provision had been made for shelter 
against the cold nights, and they had to sleep on the open 
veld. The officers in charge of the convoy never troubled 
themselves about the people, and the women had to see how 
best to get on. 

"The second evening's halt was within sight of the camp 
and railway, and yet again they had to sleep in the open without 
shelter, old men and children suffering greatly. 

"The camp is surrounded by two barbed-wire fences, 
with wire entanglements between the fences, and a fort behind 
the camp; at each entrance sentries are placed to prevent 

" But for that the women would soon be at large, the more 
as the Boers, notwithstanding the fort and searchlight, frequently 
approach the place, writing warnings on the watertanks to the 
military to treat their women 
prisoners better and to give *''?^'^ >.'''', ^^'i'r'iV^ ^^• 

fu u 4.4. r J rr.1. r j The Commission found that the new 
them better food. The food, ^ce ration was much appreciated. "- 
as usual, is poor and scanty, Cd. 893, p. loi. (Six months later.) 
without vegetables or variation. 

"Not infrequently the women are brought before the 
Commandant, for the purpose of trying to extract information 
from them. A few instances will be given — 

"Mrs. Badenhorst, of the Farm Wit Koppies, Kroonstad 
District, was brought before the Commandant, and was told to 
state where ammunition had been buried on her husband's farm. 
In reply, she stated that she was not aware that any ammuni- 
tion had been buried there. Whereupon she was sentenced to 
twenty-four hours' solitary confinement in the guard tent, which 
is situated some distance away from the camp. At nightfall 
she claimed to have her two youngest children with her, and 
some bedding. As the tent had no proper fastenings and pegs, 
she had to lie on the side of the tent's canvas to shelter her 
two little ones from cold. The next day the poor woman 
was once more interrogated and cross-examined by this officer, 
with no better result, and another sentence of thirty-six hours' 
guard tent and solitary confinement. I should have mentioned 
that the day before the first charge was made, Mrs. Badenhorst 
committed the heinous crime of hanging her washed clothes on 
the inner barbed-wire fence to dry, and when told by one of 


ihe sentries to remove the same, she replied: 'You tell the 
Commandant that if he objects lo the washing being hung here 
to dry, he should provide some wire in the camp whereon we 
can dry our clothes. Surely he cannot expect the washing to 
dry on the dusty ground.' This was loo much for the dignified 
Major, and hence the persecution that followed. Mrs. Badeii' 
borst and her family were deported from this camp, no one 
knew where to. Her husband was at the lime prisoner of 
war in Green Point, Cape Town, but now at Bermudas. 

"Mrs. Barend Pretorious, of Rietspruit District, Kroonstad, 
was similarly chained and sentenced, and deported no one knows 
where. Mr. Pretorious was confined in another guard-lent for 
the same offence of not being able to state where ammunition is 
buried, ajid when his sentence expired he found his wife and 
children deported ; he is still inquiring in vain what had become 
of them. 

"Another woman had the audacity to tell the Commandant, 
on being told by him to let their husbands know that they would 
be shot for tampering with the line of railway — ' That she would 
not inform her husband not to do so, as the line had been built 
out of their pockets, and that they were at liberty again tO' 
destroy the same if they think fit to do so.' The sentence of 
guard-tent solitary confinement had no effect on her. When 
she returned to the camp, she came with a smile on her face; 
in charge of the guard, and said aloud to her fellow -camp 
prisoners : ' I gladly suffered for the sake of our fighting men 
and brothers. I have done no wrong for which I need bo 
ashamed. If I had been a man, I would not treat women and 
children as we are treated. Then I would hang my head and 
be ashamed. I glory in the suffering I have undergone.' Hw 
boldness (it is presumed) will contaminate the camp ; she 
sent away." 

The lady says that she was informed by one of the 
wounded soldiers that her house and everytliing in it, and 
several other houses of camp prisoners, were destroyed by fire 
after they left the village (that was the latter half of April). Ha 
son is a prisoner of war, and was not there when the removali 
took place. 

Mrs. Christian De Wet, wife of the well-known General, was; 

captured some time after her farm was burnt, and eventually taken 

with her family to Johannesbui^. She was enabled to live 

.■without English help, owing to the charity of the G^rooa 

' community. Her protest, which has since been followed hf 

WOMEN IN 1901 261 

another,^ was addressed to the Daily News^ which paper had 
previously published her portrait 

"Johannesburg, April 2^ 1901. 

"Sir, — Having been informed that besides the appearance of 
my portrait you also published that I was now living in Johannes- 
burg "under the protection" of H.M. Government, I hereby 
wish most strongly to protest against the use of such 

" After our farm had been devastated by H.M. troops, and all 
our other possessions destroyed and taken, I roamed about with 
our children for some months, in order not to fall into the hands 
of the enemy of our nation, up to the 20th November 1900, when 
I was taken a prisoner and conveyed to Johannesburg in a cattle 
truck, notwithstanding they were well aware of the fact that I was 
the wife of General De Wet. Seeing that I was captured and 
conveyed hither against my wish and will, after having been 
robbed of everything, I demanded from the military authorities 
here sufficient food, and of good quality. 

" First this was promised me, but a few days later I was in- 
formed in writing that I would only be supplied with food in case 
I signed a document, and therein declared " that I was without 
means of subsistence and was entirely dependent on Her Majesty's 
Government." (The Queen of England was then still living.) 

" The authorities further reserved to themselves the right to 
publish such document. To have done this would have been 
very humiliating to me, and I could not expose myself to it, 
especially not to the enemy of our nation. 

" I have asked no favour from the enemy, and I have no 
intention of ever doing so. It is true I live at Johannesburg, 
but against my will. From the English I receive nothing, and 
do not want anything from them. What I require I hope to 
receive through the intervention of humane friends, not from the 
English. — I am, etc., 

(Signed) " C. M. De Wet 

(Wife of General De Wet)." 

" I arrived," writes Mrs. Roux, " at Winburg on the 3rd of 
May, and was first sent to the Refugee Camp. Afterwards I was 
transferred to the Show-yard camp, where the * undesirables ' were 
kept, and where I had to remain about a fortnight. In the 
Show-yard camp the number of men, women, and children 
varied between 400 and 275. I cannot exactly say how large its 

1 See P^t III. p. 306. 


Extracts from Report or 
Ladies' Coumission. — Cd, 893. 

" A small number, called the un- 
ssirables, are living jn the town 
■p. 83. 

The Show-yard hod farty-eight 
'^'-e maximum number in the 

Show-yard. " 

area is, but it is certainly under 
200 paces by 300. It is sur- 
rounded by a fence of galvanised 
iron, 7 to 8 ft. high, so that 
one can look over it. We were 
not allowed to leave the camp, 
and were treated as prisoners, h^^' 
In the camp are huts of gal- 
vanised iron, in which the women had to live. A watch was 
set over us, and there was but one gate, through which we were 
not allowed to pass. When I entered the camp it contained 
women and children who had been there for more than four 
months, without ever having been outside the gate. The doctor 
of the camp. Dr. Schneehagen, told me that he had drawn up 
a report about the sanitary condition of the camp, and would 
have sent it to the Board of Health at Bloemfontein, but he 
was not allowed to do so. He declared that all the ground was 
defiled, so that the camp was altogether unfit to live in. The 
sanitary arrangements are such 

as do not allow of discussion 
public. In a fortnight there 
were seven deaths. Every one, 
without any exception, got meat, 
flour, and condensed milk, also 
sugar and coiiee. We got ^ lb. 
of meat a day. The 

" Show-yard Latritus. — There is no 
special provision for children, and the 
large women's latrines should have 
more partitions," — p. S4. 

" Mtal. — The people grumbled 
more about food and especially about 
meat than at any other place. The 
Segregation Camps had refiised tbist 

however, told me that before back to ihe contractor and sold 

: in the town. Tine ration-house 
1 the Segi^ation Camp was very 
dirty ami ill kept." 

"Coal is issued (r IL. per head 
r day only) weekly. The people 
need more fuel." 

I entered the camp they had 

not had fresh meat for 

teen days. We got our water 

in carts, which are sent to the 

camp, but were not allowed to 

take as much water as we like. 

We also get firewood, but must make our fires outside, at a place 

appointed for it. Sometimes it was raining, and though the place 

was slushy and dirty we still had to make our fires there. The 

children had nothing to do ; as a rule, they would chop wood. 

They did not go to school, and had to remain inside the camp. 

Once a day they were allowed to play outside the camp. The 

play hour — -only one hour was allowed them to be outside the 

camp in the playground, and only children under twelve were 

permitted to go outside the camp — was at three in the afternoon. 

This hour, as a great favour, was allowed them, after they had 

been for four months inside the camp, by the advice of the 

WOMEN IN 1901 268 

doctor and Nurse Bakkes. The women in the tents were obliged 
to sleep on the ground, though some of them who had bedding 
were allowed to bring it with them. When Nurse Bakkes 
arrived, twenty-two patients in the hospital got only two bottles of 
milk a day. The condition in which she foimd the camp was 
such that she directly went to the Commissioner, and begged him 
to go with her to the camp to see the children, who had not had 
proper food for three days, die with hunger, as the women had 
not received any firewood with which to prepare food for the 
children. He accompanied her, and sent three cart-loads of fire- 
wood to the camp. 

"Considering everything I have seen and heard, I cannot 
think but we are prisoners. There were two cases to prove this. 
One Mrs. Scot and seven children came to the camp. When 
there, one of her children, a girl, became ill, and was taken to 
the Show-yard hospital outside the camp, but the mother was not 
allowed to accompany her. When the child was dying, a permit 
was refused her to go to the hospital, and the child died without 
seeing her mother again. Afterwards two more children of hers 
fell il^ and were also taken to the hospital. In two months' time 
she lost four children, who died of fever; the latter she was 
allowed to visit One Mrs. Esterhuizen, of Brandfort, repeatedly 
sent in a request to be allowed to stay at the village of Winburg 
at her own expense, which was refused her. She was taken ill 
with fever, and died while I was in the camp. The Commissioner 
at Winburg seems to be too young and inexperienced. 
When Nurse Bakkes begged him to send more articles to the 
camp and hospital, he answered that if they were to manage things 
in that way they would almost make England a bankrupt. The 
way in which the women are treated is not all that can be desired. 
They are removed from their farms by Kaffirs and taken to the 
camp. Sometimes these Kaffirs are most insolent. A watch is 
set over the camp. Some of the Boers who surrendered — 
we call them 'hands uppers' — do the general work of the 
camps ; fetch the water, carry the wood, and remove the dirt. 
Mr. Koenbrink told me to keep 
calm and quiet, or they would J'^^'iT" t ^^''^ Commtitee.-- 

^ , r i.'ij We would rather have an English- 

take me away from my children, ^^ ^^ ^^e head of aU departments in 

and send me to another camp, the camp."— p. 87. 
The women, too, were threat- 
ened with smaller rations if they would not keep calm and 
quiet. They were not aUowed „ ^^^^ ^^ ^^1 ^^^ food-stuflfe 
to buy any food, though some jn ^wn by order of the Magistrate." 
of them had some money. I —p. 85. 


know Nurse Bakkes personally. "SlslerBakkestmatrontknowshet 

Sheislike a ray of liglU for the ""'I'.anjiis^eserTedlylrusled bythe 

J J „ ui doctors. —Cd. 893, p. 86. 

camp, and does some noble ^" ^ 

work ; she is heartily beloved by ail the women and children in 
the camp. The nurses who have been sent to us by Our friends 
we thank very much, they do the work of angels." 

Another lady, whose husband is too well known for her to 
pve her name at present, writes her account of Winburg Show- 
yard, which amplifies while it substantiates that of the last writer — 

" My sister and I lived quietly in Senekal Town to the end of 
April 1901. Up to that date everything had gone on as usual in 
that district. Women were living unmolested on their farms, and 
farming operations went on undisturbed though the men were away 
on commando. At times the British came through and occupied 
the place, and once a wounded British officer was left in my care. 
My sister and I nursed him tenderly for two months, and great 
was our pride and joy when at last he seemed on the mend and 
could get about a little with the aid of a stick. But the British 
came in again, and the officers occupied our house, and, greatly to 
our distress, insisted that the wounded officer must be sent to the 
military hospital to undergo an operation. We knew well what 
that would mean, and my sister bravely stood up before the 
Enghsh Commandant, as he sat at table, and protested. It was 
in vain, the officer was sent away, and in a day or two was dead. 
Our house was occupied by the mihtary, we ourselves were sent 
away to Winburg Camp. This is really two camps, the ordinary 
Concentration Camp, and that for ' undesirables ' on the race- 
course. We were at first placed in the former, where the usual 
regulations prevailed. We were indeed allowed to walk into 
Winburg, but we were not allowed to add in any way to the 
rations, ' not by so much as a clove to flavour our soup.' ' 
Af^er a short time in this camp we were with some other women 
removed to that for 'undesirables.' It seemed in our case to be 
a punishment for holding the prayer meetings which are usual 
among the Dutch people at that particular season. In the race- 
course camp there were at that time, during the month of May, 
about 400 people. These were veritable prisoners, surrounded 
by a high corrugated iron fence, and guarded night and day by 
armed sentries. The huts or sheds were packed closely together, 
and the only view was that of the sky. The sanitary arrangenienta 
were very bad, being quite close on the tents, and the smell waa 

' II will be remembered that the Commission visited this camp %H months 


horrible. Typhoid of course was rampant. The women were 
packed into long sheds, each family having a right to a space 8 ft. 
by lo ft., but there were no partitions between, save the sheets or 
blankets that the women themselves might choose to rig up. 
You might have fever on the one side of you and fever on the 
other, for the air was common to alL 

"In spite of the terrible sickness, and the great monotony 
and confinement, the women were calm and cheerful. One poor 
woman had been brought to the camp with her seven children in 
an open waggon. It rained heavily, and for a day and a night the 
party sat huddled in mud and water. The consequence was that 
they arrived in a state which left them a prey to sickness, though they 
were strong children when they left home. One after another 
they died of typhoid. But the mother was quite calm ; she said 
that death did not matter if only the country got its independence. 

"The children felt the imprisonment very severely; they 
moped and looked ' like little old men and women.' At last the 
military said they might go outside the camp to a certain space to 
play, but were threatened with punishment if they dared go beyond 
the bounds assigned them. The poor little things, instead of 
playing, sank down in a huddled heap together on the ground, and 
remained there till the play hour was over. Of course afterwards 
they made more use of their liberty, but were still sad-faced and 
grave. Not so the women, who were all bright and cheerful, and 
determined not to seem depressed, cowed, or down-trodden, what- 
ever the pressure put upon them. Papers were brought them 
more than once to sign, in which their men on commando were to 
be implored to give in. Not one woman would sign, nor have 
anything to do with the ' Peace Commission.' Later on a more 
subtle temptation was presented to them. They were asked 
simply to sign their names to a petition to leave that camp for a 
better place. The paper was apparently blank ; merely the names 
were to be collected of such as wished to leave. The women 
were puzzled for a time, and wanted to know what to do. Finally, 
they all refused * for fear the burghers should get to know.' One 
poor woman was sadly tempted by her little children, who climg to 
her skirts and cried and b^ged her to take them to a nicer place." 

"I had five minutes," Mrs. Carstens tells us, "in April to 
pack up and get into the open w£^on ; two English farmers I 
knew were acting as guides to the column, and helped me to 
collect some bedding, etc., so I was better off than most. When 
we got to the train, I refiised to get into the open trucks, as I 
had my daughter's child with me, of three years old, just recovered 


from pneumonia, and the weather looked threatening. Then 
they got a carriage for me, in which I sheltered as many as could 
be crowded into it for the night. I was amongst those who were 
sent in from Springfontein to Bethulie, where I thought some 
provision would have been made for us ; but when we airived we 
remained again for two days in the train. At the end of that 
time they said the train was needed, and we were all left on the 
platform, where some of us remained for three weeks waiting till 
our turn came to be removed to the camp as the tents arrived, 
We just slept on the open platform, cooking our food as well as 
we could, gathering sticks and mists. It was a sad night when we 
arrived there, all wet and cold, the poor children crying because 
they could not eat the hard biscuit and bully-beef. The doctors 
with the column were very kind and nice, but when we got to 
Bethulie, the doctor there, a German, was sent for to see two 
children who were dying. My little one had a boil on its neck 
which needed to be lanced, so I took it to the doctor, and there 
were other mothers also bringing their children to him, but he said 
very roughly, ' I was sent for to see two and I won't see a hundred,' 
and went off leaving many of the poor women in tears, most for- 
lorn. The Commandant of the camp, Mr. Deare, was a kind, con- 
siderate man, which was a great consolation to us in our trouble." 
An anxious mother, with five children, writes pathetically to 
friends, when the camp life is still new and strange to her — 


" I was very much pleased to receive a letter from you, and 
thank you heartily for what you do for my dear husband, whom 
I love so much. 

" I did not receive a letter from my husband since April of last 
year, when in the month of June they said that he was dead. From 
other people I learned afterwards that my husband was a prisoner 
of war, and now, dear madam, they have taken me prisoner on 
the 1 2th of May. On Sunday morning, as we were breakfasting, 
we received notice to be ready to move by four in the afternoon. 
" I spoke to the General, but it was of no use. I said to him : 
' Oh, I pray you shoot me dead now, for it is all the same whether 
1 die here or in camp.' My children cried piteously. The 
officer came to me. He clasped his hands on seeing my beautiful 
house and the beautiful furniture, saying that it was a pity that I 
had to be taken prisoner. He kissed my children, and thought 
them so nice that he gave them some jam. May God grant me 
to keep them ; so many grown-up people and children die here 
in the camp; sometimes seven in \ day. The doctor says it is 

WOMEN IN 1901 267 

because the quantity of food is insufficient, and the quality of 

what is given is bad. If my uxhe superintendent has been 

husband knew all this he cer- issuing corned beef lately owing to 

tainly could not live. I trust, the ordinary meat being' so thin and 

my kind friends, that if you poor."-Cd. 893, p. 129. 
can be of any assistance to me you are willing to give it 

" Is it possible that if I come to you at the Cape, either that 
you have got a room for me, or that you took a little house for 
me ? I have got four bags of com left, and other food to last me 
for some time. 

"It would be for me and my children, as well as for my 
husband, a terrible thing to die here. Oh ! do take some trouble, 
please, before it is too late. 

" The parson's wife is going to the Cape too ; it is impossible 
for her to stay here. I have been allowed to take with me some 
beds, bedsteads, and clothes. Do write an answer to this letter 
as soon as you can. I hope God will be with us. He alone can 
help. There is written in the Bible : * Take a delight in the Lord : 
He shall give thee what thy heart desires.' Oh ! if we only relied 
on God at all times, and trusted in Him. I must finish now. I 
hope you will help me. May God bless you all. — Ever, your friend. 

"P.S. — I had already finished this letter, and we are now 
going to sleep. In a tent on one side, however, we hear a child 
coughing; in another, one or 
two groaning and wailing ; then " Dr. Dixon's report for May 

another again vomiting. Oh ! I ^^TV^^ ^^^ health of the women 
J r i_ r J aiid children was anything but satis- 

do fear so much for my dear fo^tory, and the mortality amongst 
children ; they are accustomed children had been very great— due to 
to live in a new, well-built house, a very severe epidemic of measles, 
and now we must sleep in an accompanied with diest complaints, 
4. i. i^u I J u 1 ^4.^ caused by a very cold wmd from the 
open tent. Oh ! do help me to go^th, together with exposure to cold 
get the Cape, I beseech you. My by tent-living." 
husband .will afterwards repay 

you. Do exert yourselves in my behalf. The tents have been 
pitched here side by side, and are bad for our health. I will do 
anything for you if you will help me. Once more, do send 
me an answer at your earliest convenience whether I can come, 
for I long so much for it now that I can stay no longer here. 
" Expecting your kind answer very soon." 

Mr5. G.'s narrative was taken down from her lips in December 
last, the 1 6th. Being the wife of a prominent Free Stater, her 
name cannot be given without special permission, and it is not 
at present possible to communicate with her. 



"Mrs. G. and her husband lived on a beautiful farm at P, 
Mr. G. had been staying quietly on his farm as a prisoner oq 
parole from March 1900 to January 1901, but in the lat 
month he was suddenly taken away and put in gaol, althougl 
he had in no way broken his parole, and had surrendered on tl 
express understanding that he should live quietly on his 
For four months longer Mrs. G. continued to live on the fari 
unmolested by the various columns which passed through tl; 
district, except that of course they took sheep as they wante 

"On the i8th of June 1901, a large sweeping column, und( 
Colonel Williams, was encamped at her sister's house, tweni 
minutes away. It was engaged in sweeping or clearing th 
district. This was about the eighth column that had pas! 
through the district since her husband had been taken away, ant 
the one immediately previous to this, commanded by Colone 
Williams, had started the practice of burning grain, forage, storei 
of food, etc., and bad collected as much as it could in the way o 
cattle. Colonel Williams' column seemed to be sweeping thi 
country bare in a circular fashion, round the central point of her 
sister's farm, where he lay encamped for a little over a week. It| 
was the ninth day after his arrival, being the ist of June, when the 
soldiers arrived at Mrs. G.'s farm. The women never minded 
the regular soldiers so much ; it was the patrols of armed natives 
who were sent to do the worst sort of work, and it was these 
armed natives who gave the first alarm. It was a bitterly cold 
morning, the snow falling fast, and about sunrise, or 7 a-m., when 
they came. She was already up and dressed, had finished' 
breakfast, and had got the dinner on the fire, when she saw armed 
natives had come, and were collecting stock, and behaving 
impudently to her servants. They were driving away all the- 
cows and calves, and one little servant boy in distress cried outj 
'Leave me one cow with her calf, just one,' But the armed 
natives replied insolently. By this time the whole house 
surrounded by armed khakis, and when she went out the 
verandah was full of them. By the deference paid him Mrs. 
G. soon discovered which was the Captam of the troop. He 
had a pleasant face and spoke very politely to her. He said he 
fretted to say he had instructions to clear the country, and she 
must therefore get ready to leave home. She replied that she 
was not fit to travel. Outside there was a whole convoy of 
wagons, fiJl of other families of the district who had been turned 
out of tiieir homes, and many of whom she knew. ' Oh, do. 
make haste and pack,' cried many of these poor women. 'Yes, 

WOMEN IN 1901 269 

we know how you fed ; we said we could not leave our homes. 
Look at our faces and see how we have cried. But it was no use ; 
we had to go, and you'll have to go too. Oh, do begin to pack.' 
*No,' said Mrs. G. ; *you can pack for me if you like, and you, 
and you ; but as for me, I will lie on this sofa, and if they want 
me they will have to carry me away.' 

"*How would you live,' asked the Captain, *when you are 
all alone, and the coimtry is devastated of food?' *0h,' she 
answered wildly, * there are the doves. I have fifty doves flying 
about overhead ; I can kill them one a day and live on them, and 
grow vegetables; I shall manage, I shall manage.' Then, when 
she saw this was of no avail, she pleaded that her lungs were 
weak and she had hurt her side ; but the army doctor came and 
examined her, and said that her heart was sound. Then she went 
almost frantic, fell down on her knees before the officer, and took 
hold of his hands, and cried : * Oh, look at your soldiers carrying 
out my beautiful furniture. See what they are doing.' For they 
had made a big fire, and were heaping on to it her pillows and 
feather-beds; and out of the house the soldiers came nmning, 
carrying her silver candlesticks, and all sorts of things — tables, 
chairs, clocks, etc. 'What are you doing?' she cried out; 

* What are you doing with my things ? ' * Oh ! we are just taking 
away with us the things we want,' was the answer. 

" The officer was very distressed when she knelt before him and 
pleaded so hard to be allowed to remain in her own house, and 
said at last : * Well, I'm awfully sorry, and I tell you what you had 
better do. Go to Colonel Williams, and plead your cause with 
him. He is on the next farm ; just go with the convoy as far as 
that.' Mrs. G. again refused, and he said in despair to her little 
niece, * Do go and speak to your mother and tell her she must 
come away at once.' * Auntie,' said the little girl earnestly, * do 
come, or the Kaffirs will come and carry you out ; don't let the 
Kaffirs touch you, do come.' * For God's sake,' replied Mrs. G., 

* go away and leave me to myself, and leave everything to destruc- 
tion.' * Don't say that,' said the officer, distressed. * We won't 
destroy anything, only come away.' 

"She got up at last, and through the midst of her tears 
surveyed the waggon which stood ready to take her away. * I 
can't get into that stinking thing,' she said, looking at the ill- 
smelling floor of the vehicle. But they forced her in, heart- 
broken as she was, and they moved slowly away, leaving the 
dinner cooking on the stove. They broke up the stove, they 
broke her husband's beautiful carpenter's shop, they smashed 
his ploughs and machinery brought latdy from America, even 


down to the spades. The light furniture, also from America^ 
the soldiers went on smashing before her very eyes. Before she 
went away the two old Kaffir servant -giris, who had been with 
her for years and years, clung lo her crying, and said, ' Oh, missis, 
missis, they've shot the baas's beautiful stallion in the stable ! ' 
This stallion had cost Mr. G. over ^£200. He was standing in 
the stable with an inflamed foot, so, as the soldiers could not 
take him away, they shot him dead. These two poor Kaffir 
women did not escape ; their huts were burned, and they clung 
weeping and terrified to their mistress, crying ' Myn huis is 
verbrannt, myn huis is verbrannt,' 

" The sad procession moved on. There were dozens of 
families filling up waggon after waggon. The wind was blowing 
gustily, cold and piercing, and the dust raised was so great that 
you could not see the waggons nor how far they extended. They 
were driven by Kaffirs, some of whom were very rude and 
insulting. Although her sister's farm was only twenty minutes 
distant, it was sundown when they got there. There was nothing 
but the bare ground to sleep upon. The house had been 
seized for the use of Colonel Williams and his staff, and there was 
no room for any one else. They made a sort of camp out on the 
veld, trying to shelter neat the waggons, but the snow was falling, 
the wind bitter cold, and the children were crying with misery. 
With Mrs. G. were her husband's aged parents, his mother of 75 
and father of 77. She could bear their piteous looks no longer, 
and went indoors to find her sister. 'Look here, sister,' she 
said, ' old father and mother can't sleep out in the cold.' Her 
sister looked at her in a dazed, frightened way. ' What am I to 
do ? ' she said. ' I have not a bed in my own house ; for a week 
I have lain in the pantry.' Mrs. G. saw she was bewildered and 
broken, and on her own responsibility she brought in the old 
father to sit by the kitchen fire; he was starved and pinched 
with the cold, and every instant was coughing a hard, dry little 
cough. Colonel Williams appeared, and Mrs. G. obtained from 
him the concession that the old couple should sleep that night 
under the roof; but she could give them nothing to eat. The 
Colonel had commandeered all the provisions in the house, and 
all that week the mistress of the farm had been rationed, scantily 
enough, out of her own food. 

" At that moment, looking out of the window, Mrs. G. ex- 
claimed, 'Oh, father, they are burning your carriage!' The 
soldiers outside were breaking it up for firewood. Then she' 
went out lo the rest of the party sitting in the snow in the 
gathering darkness of the veld. Her fiends had, happily, packed' 

WOMEN IN 1901 861 

a few things out of the house before she left, but the blankets and 
pillows were stored away in the waggons and hard to get at 
She managed to get out one or two, but the poor little party were 
almost frozen to death. All night the children's incessant cry was, 
*0h, auntie, give us another blanket! Oh, auntie, give us 
something to eat ! ' until she was almost distracted, for she could 
do neither, and felt as if she were freezing to death herself. It 
was joy next morning to see the sun after that endless night of 
wind and darkness, cold and hunger. 

" The wind had fallen towards morning, and the snow ceased, 
and they were able to make a fire and cook some breakfast. 
The order was soon given to move on, but a thought struck Mrs. 
G. She felt as if she and the old couple could not again stand 
the jolting of the dirty waggon, and there in the yard stood her 
own spider. She went to the Colonel and asked permission to tie 
the spider behind the waggon. This was granted, and the old 
father and mother sat up in the spider and she sat with them. 
Thousands and thousands of sheep were driven along with the 
waggons on either side of the road, and they raised such a dust 
that there was no seeing the sun. The whole of that day they 
jolted slowly, slowly in the clouds of dust, their vision bounded 
on either side by the toiling, frightened sheep, and in front 
and behind by the waggons full of women and children and house- 
hold goods. All day long the old mother was murmuring, * Oh, 
my child, it is the day of judgment, it is the day of judgment ! ' 

" Although the station was only one hour distant by ordinary 
travelling from Mr. G.'s farm, they did not get there till the 
evening. All the goods were then flung out of the waggons, 
and the people were left to shelter for the night as best they 
could. They were just put down along the railway line, with 
no shelter provided of any sort whatever. The people huddled 
together behind the waggons, and now the dust was still, one 
could see hundreds of them. The soldiers made their rough 
jokes as they passed along the crouching, silent, huddled lines. 
What a night! The cold was intense, and the icy wind blew 
round the waggons. As the sun set and the people realised 
that another winter night without food or fire was to be spent 
on the bare veld, some of them became terrified. Young girls 
took knives and began chopping bits of wood from the sides 
of the waggons to make a fire, but of course they were soon 
ordered to desist. There was nothing else to make a fire of 
on all the wide veld, bare of tree or shrub or plant. 

"The children cried aloud from hunger, terror, and cold, 
but the women uttered no sound. They sat huddled up in 



the dumb patience of despair. What was most pitiful was to 
see the old people, sitting silent, without a word of com- 
pkunt, with the tears rolling quietly down their worn cheeks. 
Mrs. G. looked at her old father with the icy wind blowing 
about him till she could bear it no longer. She went up to 
the guard and spoke to him sharply and decidedly : ' Guard, 
see here, you must find us food and you must find us fire. 
Can't you hear the children crying P Can't you hear the old men 
moaning? Are you going to let us die here on your hands?' 

"The guard was moved by this appeal, and brought her old 
candle-boxes, and things of that sort, with which the women made 
three httle fires, enough each to boil a kettle and make a little 
cocoa, though what was that among so many? Still the very 
effort kept them going. At last the long night wore away, and 
the sun shone out again. Then the trucks began to come up 
in relays, and the people were carted off, some to SpringfonteJn, 
some to Norval's Pont, and some elsewhere. Great was the 
noise and confusion over the luggage. The people crowded 
round the trucks while the goods were being tossed in, and had 
to shout, 'That's mine, that's mine,' or, 'No, that's Mrs. So-and- 
So's, and she's on the other truck.' Mrs. G. got on to a 
dirty coal-truck with her party, her old father, mother, sister, 
nieces, nephew, the two old Kaffir girls, and two little orphan 
Kaffirs, and all their belongings. All along the servants had 
clung to her with desperate eagerness. 'Ah, missis, give me 
a bit of food,' they would say, as if she still had the household 
under her command. 

" But at Norval's Pont the litde party was separated. The 
Kaffirs had to go into one camp and the white people into 
another. There was a strict rule against keeping any servanta 
in the white camp, but they ventured to keep the two little 
orphan girls, as they had been brought up in the house and 
were like their own. However, they did not keep them long, 
for the police were sent to take away the two little girls, greatly 
to their distress. Mrs. G, thereupon stated her case to the 
Commandant, saying, ' They are orphans ; I have had them 
ever since they were babies, and I am bringing them up as 
my own.' He was very kind, and said he would give her a 
permit As Mrs. G. said, he was a gentleman, and had some 
common sense. The only stipulation he made was that they 
should go biack to the Kaffir camp at night. What became 
of the two old girls she never knew. At Norval's Pont there 
was not the same misery at starting as in many other camps. 
There seemed plenty of tents for new-comers, and the burghers 

WOMEN IN 1901 868 

in the place brought these for the party and helped to put 
them up. Being a combination of three families, they at 
once applied for a marquee, which was granted. They then 
made the floor for themselves, got in tiieir belongings, and 
settled for the night. It was sundown of the third day since 
they were torn from their farms. 

" Pitiful were the tales the neighbours told her of the way in 
which they had been driven into camp. Mrs. G.'s own two 
nieces, girls of about twenty, had been driven along in front of the 
soldiers' horses. They said they did not want to leave their 
home, and refused to climb into the waggons, for which they were 
told to run for their lives, and had to run for half an hour, panting 
and terrified at the coarse jokes of the soldiers, in front of the 
horses. A Mrs. Marais was marched for three hours in front of 
the horses. A Mrs. Traichel was driven along by mounted 
natives for four hours, carrying her child. When at last she 
arrived at Philippolis with her three children, she was soaked to 
the skin by the rain and sleet. In this condition she was locked 
for the night into a room without food or fire. Mrs. G. said 
it was the use of the natives which all the people felt they could 
never forgive. She herself, a month or two before her deporta- 
tion, had escaped to the mountains for four days in sheer dread 
of the native scouts. She had put the horses into the spider 
and driven off alone with her little niece ; they walked their feet 
sore in the hills, and wore away her skirt into rags up to her 
knees among the rough stones, but this was preferable to facing 
a column with its native scouts, or being driven into a camp. 
Mrs. G. said she never dreaded the regular troops, it was the 
irregulars and the blacks who were so terrible. 

" About a fortnight after their arrival in camp, an old neigh- 
bour came in who described the present condition of her house. 
She told Mrs. G. : * There is only one chair left. Your curtains, 
piano, tables, bedsteads, everything is gone. It is just a desola- 
tion.' This was not the last she heard of the beautiful home. 

"Mrs. G. never recovered those two terrible nights in the 
open. She got a cough and a weakness of the chest which camp 
life made ever worse and worse. The ground was incessantly 
damp ; everything taken from the floor in the morning was heavy 
with cold damp. She worked, too, for the even greater sufferers 
around her, and the consequence was a severe illness and a com- 
plete breakdown of her health. Her husband heard of her state 
of health, and, being a prisoner on parole, he obtained with great 
difficulty permission to see her in the camp. It was a great shock, 
for he would scarcely have known her. The doctor was kind and 

considerate, and made out a certificate to the effect that if she 
remained longer in camp she would certainly die. By this means, 
though with great difficulty, Mr. G. got his wife out of the camp 
after three months' residence there. From Notval's Pont they 
went up to Bloemfontein, and here she had her second chance of 
hearing about the state of her farm. Two young nieces from that 
neighbourhood had lately been put in the camp, and, knowing chat 
their aunt was passing by, obtained permission from the Com- 
mandant to station themselves at a spot where they could have 
a few minutes' talk with her. At the sight of their aunt the girls 
burst into tears, and Betty said, ' Oh, auntie, your farm is buml 
down to the ground, the trees are all cut down, the dam is blown 
up with dynamite, the walls are razed to the ground ! ' 

" Mrs. G. said the rations in camp were not sufficient. They 
could never make them do. If you rolled tvio days' rations into 
one you could just manage to make it do for one day. She found 
camp an extremely expensive place, for you not only had to supply 
your own wants but you had to help along your poorer ndgh- 
bours. For the poor who had no money it was veritable starva- 
tion diet. The women were always busy from morning till night, 
baking, cooking, washing, and keeping their tents clean and tidy. 
Their spare time went in looking after the sick, of which there 
were always plenty, making poultices, sitting up at night, and so 
on. Mrs. G. shuddered at the thought of those dark times ; the 
deathbed scenes in camp, she said, would remain with her to her 
dying day. The old father died shortly after he was brought in." 

One night in the middle of May a patrol of British soldiers 
came to Tweefontein, the farm of Mrs. G. Jacobs, Her husband 
was at the time a prisoner of war in Green Point, and her sons 
either prisoners or on commando. 

" I myself," she says, " with five children, the eldest a girl of 
eighteen, a Miss Rahl, and two other women, were taken by the 
soldiers to the British camp. I was in very delicate health, but 
as we had to proceed on foot we could not take anything with 
us. We started at eight o'clock p.m., and only reached the 
soldiers' camp at midnight. On the way we had to wade 
through a spruit, so that we were wet up to our knees. Owing to 
fatigue, one of the children was not able to proceed farther, and 
was Uken on horseback by one of the soldiers. Thoroughly 
knocked up and wet, we arrived at the camp, where we had to sit 
waiting till the next morning. Then we were put on a waggon 
and brought to the Refugee Camp at Springfontein." 

Very touching is the translation given below of a letter asking 

WOMEN IN 1901 «65 

for help. It was written to a lady, an acquaintance of mine, who 
happened to owe the prisoner some money — 

Mrs. Bosman to Mrs. N. 

'* Bloemfontein QAMVjJun^ 1901, 

" Ah ! what shall I say to you ? We are all taken out of our 
beloved homes, which we now value rightly for the first time, and 
are placed in roimd tents in this camp. We came here on the 29th of 
May with a lot of others, nearly all our neighbours and acquaintance. 
Oh ! it is wonderful to see what we have to endure. We women 
have to do more than what Basuto girls ever have to do at home 
with us. And yet we are satisfied and submissive. Each under- 
stands well that it is God's will that we should suffer for our dearly 
beloved country, and outside of His will can no great thing 
happen to us ; the Lord has promised us in His holy word never 
to leave us or forsake us. 

" Dear madam, I must now share with you my bitter experi- 
ence, that the dear Lord has thought well to take my dear — yes, 
my very dearest son ; the 8th of February he was wounded, and 
on the loth he died. Although the wound in my heart is deep 
and the place sore, I will bow and say what God does is well 
done. Oh, this time of proving has taught us much ; dark clouds 
have gone over our heads, and still the end is not. 

"My son John is in Ceylon; my husband and son Pieter 
were in Simon's Town, but now I understand are sent to 
India. I have now only my 

three daughters and one son ''Ins^gkiefU Food Supply -l^^^^ 

. 1 ° J lb. of meat for an adult not suffi- 

witn me. cient. Fresh milk and vegetables 

" Ah, dear madam, I am (even though compressed or pre- 
compelled to ask you to send served) should be supplied two or 
me some money, and I trust ^"^^ ^^m^s^ w«jk," etc. 

vt- _^ • i. ^i_ J -11 i. DR' Becker s Report, 

with certamty that you will grant ^d. 819, p. 94. 

my request if you understand ^^ Bhemfontein Camp, -It is un- 
the suffering we have. I shall healthy, and very bleak and much 

be deeply obliged if you can exposed to the cold winds." 
send me ;£20. We get bare ^^ ^Report^of Superintendent. 

food here, no vegetables - nor . insufficfent housing and covering, 
anythmg else, so you can well absence of warmth. The tents are 
understand that our need is not giving sufficient warmth to people 

great — for our very lives. who have been suddenly removed 

"/>5.— It is bitterly cold fron^^^^ses. Some of the tents are 

. ,,7^ ^ « ^xti-v^xjr ^wi« useless as a covenng. 

m the tents, neither have we "Dr. Becker." 

any proper place to write." Cd. 819, p. 94. 


Mrs. Botha, who had applied many times during my stay in 
Bioemfontein to be released in order to join her relations in 
Cape Colony, was as often refused. I represented to the authorities- 
that six months in carap had told seriously upon her, and that 
her strength was failing. If she was riol allowed to go she would 
certainly be ill, and perhaps die. 

Permission was refused ; a long and serious illness was the 
result. Three months later she wrote to me — 

Mrs. Botha to Myself. 

"July 1901. 

" You will be surprised to receive a letter from me from thS' 
Cape. I would have written to you long ere this, but as our' 
letters were censored at the camp one felt no inclination for 
writing. I daresay you will have heard that I was brought out 
of the camp last May. I took the fever, and was taken to 
Bioemfontein, to the Volks Hospital, where I was close upon 
two months, I had a complication with the fever. . . . The 
doctor gave a certificate that I was unable to return to the 
camji with such broken health, and advised me to go to the Cape, 
where I am once more enjoying home comfort after spending so 
many months of hardship in the carap, where I have lost my 
health entirely. . . . You have no idea how many deaths we 
have had since you visited the camps, so many of the old faces 
we will not see on earth again. The bathrooms have not been 
erected as yet, not through the fault of the military though, as 
they could not get the timber through. We see in the news- 
papers that they are sending out a Commission from England to 
the camps. I am trying to go and meet them if I can get a 
chance, to tell them that I have just recently come from there, and 
tell them of all the good you have done to our people, and all the 
improvements, and [ask them] please to visit all the tents as yott! 
did and not the marquees alone. 

"The camp they have divided into four parts, the iroQi' 
buildings they have turned into hospitals ; removed all the lower 
tents up on to the opposite rise. ' 

"Miss F, asked me to ask you please to send more shoe- 
leather, as it is very much needed in the camp. We highly aj^ 
predate your statements and pleading for us women of the camps.. 

" Well, the last but not the least that fills my heart and mind 
is to thank you and alt the kind English friends for their great 
kindness in sending clothes, etc., to our poor women and children 
in trouble. It has comforted many a sorrowful heart and clothed 
many a naked body from the cold winter." 

WOMEN IN 1901 «nr 

Every improvement that alleviated the hard life in camp, and 
every act of kindness that assuaged its bitterness, was not^ and 
appreciated — 

"Blobmfontiin,/«^ i8. 

"I am glad to say," writes Miss Ferreira, "our room-mates 
are all well stilL 

"We have so much sickness in camp, over five hundred 
people have died since December. 

"A new hospital has been erected since you left ; it is fitted 
up well with stoves. All the measles, pneumonia, and bronchitis 
patients are nursed there. Miss M^Leod, an American lady, is 
matron, she is a dear^ dear person, she is liked by all patients. 
I have learned to know her well, as I have been sixteen days in 
hospital nursing my aunt, Mrs. Van Rooyen. I am sorry 
to inform you that Mrs. Van Rooyen died 6th inst of pneumonia. 
She will be missed by many in camp. 

" My time is very occupied in giving out candles, barley, soap, 
etc., to the sick, and taking up names of the poor for clothing. 

" I must thank you most heartily for what you have done to 
my fellow-sufferers. I can assure you it was a sweet drop in the 
bitter cup that we have to empty. Every kind act or word from 
some one is very much appreciated nowadays. 

" I will always be happy to hear that you are well." 

But sickness and death were the prevailing themes throughout 
the year, and from every tent-home of which we have a glimpse — 

Letter to a Friend in Cape Town. 

" HowicK Camp, Jutu 6, 1901. 

" Poor Fanie is ill with fever. I feel so sad and downhearted 
sometimes, and think why must I have so much trouble ? The 
Rev. Mr. Rousseau preached for us here this afternoon from the 
text in Job, * Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall 
we not receive evil ? ' 

" It has greatly consoled me, I must say, and I find that amidst 
all my trouble I have much to be thankful for stilL The doctor 
says it is not enteric that Janie and Fanie have, so he has left 
them in the tent for me to nurse, for which I am thankful The 
R.'s have gone into another tent, so I have plenty of room for 
them here. Isabel has also returned home from the hospital, so 
you see I have them all together again. She is getting strong 
already, but Janie remains so weak she can with difficulty walk 
from her bed to a chair, and she is up almost a week now. Fanie 

ftE BRUNT OF Tlife" W5CK 

is still very ill, and his fever runs as high as 103*, but he lool 
strong, and I hope he will soon be over it too. 

" The ' hands uppers ' here in the camp, with the exception of 
three, have turned British subjects now by promising lo take the 
oath of allegiance ; I always bore an ill-feeling towards them, but 
now I simply loathe them. They all have sons, brothers, and 
fathers still fighting, and how can they face Ihem after this? Br 
I believe the women here gave them a good bit of their mint 
and the result is that they shun us, and simply stick to thei 
tents. Mr. C. and two other Heidelbergers have also taken the oall 
and have returned to Heidelberg. I hear several others at Ladysmit 
are taking the same oath, and then they are allowed to go homi_ 
But one can hardly expect anything better of ' hands uppers ' | " ' 

Another prisoner in Howick, one who has spent her til 
in helping the poor amongst her people there, says — 

" Howick, Se^, zg, 

"The washhouse, which has till now been our church, is b 
far too small, and will not seat a quarter of us. . . , Most of th« 
new arrivals are in a very poor condition, some really ir 
and such a lot of sickness amongst them ; the little 01 
pinched and hungry looking ; they are an advertisement for thi 
camps whence they came ! We have taken up names of thoa 
who are most needy, and from to-morrow {£>.V.) we intend t( 
commence distributing. The authorities are also making 1 
move to supply clothing. But some of the poor are afraid to g< 
in for this ; they are supposed to pay some day, and they saj 
they do not like to accumulate debts. 

" With the new arrivals measles and whooping-cough madi 
their appearance. In making the rounds of the tents last vreel^ 
we came across sad things; in nearly every third tent there i 
sickness, measles, measles and measles again ; in two tents « 
found all laid up except the mother. . . . they seem to ge 
through the measles belter here, I think. A lot depends on IhA 
medical treatment." 

Letters from women in Irene Camp have been very scarce 
Yet one was received which says — 

"/"» I. 190: 

"There have been as many as eleven sick with measles 
one tent in K.'s ward. Two and three have died in one tenf 
within twenty-four hours. Last week the deaths at Irene w 
forty-six, mostly in two wards. Nearly all measles and debilitjl 
And yet new arrivals are added daily to the sick wards — I mes 

WOMEN IN 1901 S69 

healthy people from other districts are brought in« The con- 
sequence is in less than a week they are all down. Whooping- 
cough has made an appearance also. There will be no chance 
for the convalescent measles patients. Food they have not to 
give the poor hungry sick ones. 
The mothers say: 'My chil- " "^^ jr^°i\*^°? ^^^P^' ^3) ^is 

J 4.4.' u^«.4.^ u 4. served with i J lbs. of meat per adult, 

dren are gettmg better, but ^^ i lb. each child (undir twelve 
they are so hungry, and if I years) twice a week. This ration 
give them the only thing I includes bone. The meat was ex- 
have— bread and black coflfee ^«°^«lj tlun (the sheep only weighed 
«.Uz*„ «,;ii *%r>4. v.«„^ ;<■ » VrN„ 1 5 ^^^ lo lbs. each) and the ration 
—they wiU not have it. You certainly looked veiy scanty."-Cd. 
must remember for many 893, p. 116. 
months they have had nothing 

but bread. Children under eight (it used to be under twelve 
about three weeks ago) still receive half rations — ^ lb. of 
flour per day, no meat — and you know the Boer children live 
on meat from infancy, good bread, meat, and milk. The flour 
is better now, but the meat is unfit to be eaten even by a dog. 
I have seen it with my own eyes, and was told that the sheep 
were carried to be slaughtered — they could not walk." 

** MiDDELBURG Camv, July 7, 1901. 

"It was very pleasant,** writes a lady, "to receive letters 
from you, and then, too, such a sum of money. I did not think 
you could in these bad times get so much together. It was a 
pleasant surprise. The money is in the hands of Mrs. Burger. 
She knows the needy ones better than I do. Please thank 
the charitable givers, and tell 

them the poor in camp thank ," Shrouds and coffins had invari- 
.1 ^^ 4.^^ *^ ably been provided for all corpses." 

^^^A '^1 -Cd. 893, p. 151. [Whethw by 

"Candles were very scarce, Govemmentorcharityisnotindicated. 

so that an invalid had fre- — E.H.] 

quently to be attended to by **The task of inspection was 

the light of a matdu Now ^Sl'^^S^e^TS; ^^^ 

many a mother will have a bit of obtaming accurate statements as to 

of calico again in which to matters of &ct from the superinten- 

wrap the corpse of her little dent."— p. 145. See also description 

rhilH °^ Mortuary requirements at Vrede- 

tt\ c J > ^- ^i. fort Road and Bethulie. I can from 

" In four days* time there ^y own experience confirm the ac- 

were fifty-two burials. Sad, is curacy of the particular need aUuded 

it not? Now whooping-cough to in this letter. See also p. 201. 

is raging, so that many a child rP?^^°' "°°^JiOT'^-'' 

^ ^\c_ 1 ' J. — Cd. 819, p. 253, Medical Report 

recovered from measles now dies •« pg^ths for Jdy, 4i3.*'--cr893, 
of this terrible cough. p. 151. 


" Vegetables we seldom see here. For the animals there 
oothing in the veld, and with great trouble do we now and' 
again get a bag of mealies for j£j, 7s. The Lord holds His 
hand over us, otherwise we had long ago perished. Wheii 
shall there be peace? At night when I sit londy, then tha 
tears roll down my cheeks. 

" Boys' suits are scarce, so I make everything myself, and 
am always busy." 

Much the same account of the sorrow of Middelburg Camp is 
given in the following short diary written by one or another ot 
a large family to friends in Europe. There was the mother, 
grandmother, and six children : — 

"9th of July, — All of us suffer much from a sev»e 
The number of deaths is very laige. Seventeen or more a 6a.j 
Oh t the misery suffered is in- 
describable. We may not write " f' j'^' "^^Pl '* ""e of the ma 

, ,, , ^ J ■" ,. - unsalisfactory we have seen. . . 

letters, but one day everythmg There U c/mplele want of ord« 
will be disclosed. Henry Van- melhod, and organisation, and thei 
den Berg, his wife, and their last 's hardly one department of cam 
child, are now dead, so are a '"'^ *•?'=*> ■==■} ,"« ■epoited on « 
... f beinff in a satismctorv condition. - 

great many others of our ac- cd.lga.p. 145. 
quaintances and neighbours. 

" 16th of July (by the same). — There is much news to writ 
but we dare not to do so. Oh ! the misery that is suffered in tl 
camps is so great But I am not shaken in my belief that w 
shall regain our independence. Oh dear ! how much there will b 
then to tel! each other. On Sunday I was in a tent. Two c 
our old people were lying there, the old father, 7 7 years of a^t 
was on the point of death, the old mother of 79 years was si 
weak that she could turn round no more. They were lying to 
gether on the ground on a blanket 

"The day before yesterday a new cemetery was laid o 
Yesterday thirty people were buried there, and this morning thi 
are another twenty people lymg in the hospital, and how ma 
more in the camp I do not know. God, however, comes at I 
when we think He is farthest off, and I believe that relief and 
deliverance are at hand. 

"17th of July (by the mother), — Our men who are witi 
their commandoes were put hard to it of late. The Englisl 
about ua say that they have got no clothes left That some wea 
trousers maJie of skins. And are, then, our husbands and son 
belter than our ancestors, who succeeded though they won 

WOMEN IN 1901 271 

trousers made of skins, had no eicpensive dothes, but made us 

"24th of July (by the same). — Oh, God be thanked, our 
men in the field are doing well They look well. Our Heavenly 
Father takes care of them. We dare not write everything, but 
are full of hope. 

" 24th of July (by the daughter). — I have just come from the 
hospital. Five of our burghers who were wounded have been 
left behind there. One of them is a young burgher of fourteen. 
He had ridden up against the barbed wire, and was then carried 
to the hospital. 

" 25th of July (by the mother). — Another batch of women 
from Utrecht have arrived here, escorted by a strong column of 
English soldiers. They were in carts on the road during sixteen 

" Nurse Jacobs is again here. She has been carried all about 
the world. To Carolina, Ermelo, Standerton. Back again to 
Barberton, and then to Middelburg. Ah, who can believe it ! 
The misery we suffer in these camps is so great Yesterday 570 
people had died here since March. What will be the end of all 
these sufferings ? 

"25th of July (by the grandmother, aged 79). — Dear child, it 
is a sad thing to see and hear everything. But everything is kept 
a secret from us, and we dare not write the truth. But the day 
is near when the curtain will be drawn aside and everything will 
come to light. My children are dispersed to different parts. 
Those of Johannes are here, so are Annie and her children. Oh, 
my dear child, so many people die here, 20, 22, 39, and even 
more in one day. 

" 30th of July (by the mother). — I am under the necessity of 
sending you sad news. Brother Stefenus has been brought in 
here a prisoner. He told us that brother Piet had died of an 
illness. We have learned that their wives are at Balmoral 
Great is the distress suffered here by women and children. The 
mothers themselves are obliged to carry their children to the 
cemetery if others do not do it for them. Sometimes they them- 
selves draw the cart in which the body had been placed, to the 
cemetery, which is at an hour's distance from the camp. There 
is a hearse, but if they wish to employ it they have to pay j£^ for 
the use of it. And we have even no money to buy food for our 

'' Old Mrs. Janson of Suikerboschkop is also with her children 
in one of those dreadful tents. The youngest boy has already 
died with misery. 


"This place Middelbut^ ought to be given another name and 
be called ' Weenen,' for people weep and shed tears here by day 
and by night ; there is nothing else but weeping and sheddmg of 

From Nerval's Pont, where comparatively there was much to 
bring alleviation, a well-bom woman writes to ask temporary help 
from the clergyman of the parish, a stranger known only to her by 
name — 


"July I, 1901. 
"You will certainly wonder at receiving a letter from such an 
unknown person ; I must introduce myself. I am the wife of 
P. Faure who lived once at Stellenbosch. He, my husband, en- 
treated rae to write to you to ask „,..,„ _,, 

^'Ladies Refer!. — The supennten. 
dent's temark was, " They want vege- 
tables badly,' and scurvy wQuld come 
unless they got them. He also would 
like eiery one to sleep on bedsteads, 
not as a matter ot luxury, but of 
health."— Cd, 893, p. 50. 

you to get for us a little vegetable 

such as potatoes or onions, and 

also butter or !ard, and to send 

them here to us ; we will make 

it all right with you after the 

war. Forgive me for being so 

presumptuous, but believe me, dear Sir, that it goes hard here 

in the camp. I am quite sickly with all my children, and I 

believe you feel for us. V^etables we never see here. Oh, it 

is bitter to have had every good thing and now to possess 

nothing. The tents are so frightfully cold in the nights, and 

so warm in the day. There is a terrible amount of sickness 

here, such as inflammation, measles, and also fever; many die 


" Pardon, dear Sir, once more for my presumption, but the 
need is great, 

" P^. — Should anything be sent to Nerval's Pont Camp, 
forget me not, even in such things as clothes. 

" We have a worthy minister here in Mr. Van der Merwe of 
Beaufort West ; it is certain that his work will bear much fruit. 
Pardon my writing, but I write on a packmg^ase, and the wind 
blows terribly." 

One of the difficulties experienced by the nurses was bow to 
keep the children patients amused, especially in the convalescent 
stages. Passing through the wards, I myself used to see one 
child's head after another look up from the pillow, and the word 
"poppie" would echo down the row of beds, when I had only 
perhaps one doll amongst twenty or thirty applicants. So a 

WOMEN IN 1901 273 

kind-hearted woman, Nurse Strachan of Kroonstad Hospital, 
writes — 

''July 14. 

" Your generosity gives me courage to apply to you for * dolls.' 
You may think my request a strange one, but to me it is heart- 
breaking to hear a wee dying girlie craving for a doll and not 
have one to give her. I have girlies of my own and have to 
keep them at school, or I could myself supply, but under circum- 
stances, and being a war refugee myself, I cannot aflford to buy, 
much as I would like to. I think I will manage to dress, if you 
can manage to supply the artificial baby. Poor wee girlies ! lots 
of them have lost father and mother too ; to me it is hard to bear 
the cry for a * poppie.* 

" If you can send something to amuse my wee boys, I shall 
be doubly grateful. You yourself must think of what would be 
best for them." 

From Mrs. Isaak Meyer to her Mother. 

" V0LKSRUST,/«-^ 26. 

"I had no chance of writing before, poor wee Memory 
(daughter) was so dangerously ill. She has the measles. 

" Measles are raging in this camp. 

" You will be very sorry to hear that Jannie's little Marthe is 
so ill from inflammation of the lungs. The doctor has no hope 
of her recovery. Mrs. B. Lombardo's youngest sonnie is also ill 
of inflammation. 

" Yesterday, Mrs. Bothusa died, Mrs. Frans van Deventer's 
baby of about two summers died last week. To-day, Mrs. 
Brijtenbach's girl of about seventeen died. 

" The camp has been enlarged, and we are (on this comer) 
very close to the British for- 
tresses. There is hardly a tent '' Recommtnd^im.-^^ urge that 

ViPrP that fhprP k nnt a «;irt ^^ ^"^P ^^^l^t to be reduced m 
nere tnat mere is not a sick numbers. The present camping 

child or woman m, and good- ground is not sufficiently larg:e for 

ness alone knows what the end the numbers congregated upon it."— 

will be. C^- ^3, P- 198. Nov. 25. 

Letter to her Sister, Mrs. Louis Botha. From 

Mrs. Meyer. 

" VoLKSRusT, Aug, 1901. 

" I can never describe the life we had in camp, bitter was not 
the name for it. 




" The most essentUI was our food, which, though the Brit 
supplied us, was so little, that we often and often retired with 
empty stomach. Shall I ever 
forget the death scenes, they 
are so depicted on my mind ; 
never in idl my life have I seen 
such hardships, heard so much 
wailing, as in the segregation 
camp of Volksrust; daily lo, 
la, 14, 16 and even 20 children 
and people died, daily that same 
number of coffins carried out 
to be rested for ever in the 
paupers' graves ; no wonder my 
head is like that of an old 
woman of 50, so grey; for 
who, that had a spark of sym- 
pathy, could be otherwise, to see 
friends carted away on buck- 
waggons, one day used for bring- 39;'}aly,A.^; Aueust, '348— ' 
ing rations, the next for bearing 366. It will be observed that 
the dead to their resting-places. ™"'"'^ "^ ^"^^^^ '" '*"* '^'™°' 

" The food we got was iad; 
flour, coffee, and sugar for the the deaths of May and June, 

week which only lasted about '----■-'- ' • " ■ 

two d?.ya, and the meat was 
so dreadful because they killed 
brand-sick sheep and rams for us. 

" So many of our people have died in camp ; during the foi, 
months 1 was in the Volksrust Camp 587 people died. Is thi 
not a terrible number in four months ? This I was told by oi 
superintendent, Mr. Carter. 

Letter from Mrs. Klazinga, taken to Mafeking C&mv. 
"Aug. 1901. 

"... I will tell you all from the beginning, but sole] 
what I personally have seen and imdeigone. 

"On the ist of August I was made prisoner at WelverdierK 
District Wolmaransslad. In the morning of that day tfi 

English under Colonel H approached my house. The fln 

thing they did was to capture and slaughter all the poultry (abot 
a hundred fowls) and the pigs. They even took a small monke 
which had belonged to my httle boy who had died a short tini 

"The refugees, as a rule, nbser 
clcan habits. ... As a geneial rul 
it is not presumed that cheU life 
tents is B very greil hardship. "- 
Cd. 819, Supt. Report, p. 273. 

"The smallest meat ration whii 
we have seen in any camp. R 
commendation vii. Bring up tl 
meat ration to ihe level of oth_^^^ 
camps," — Cd. 893, Ladies' Repot! 
p. 195. 

In this camp, a^ in many others, tl 
real numbers of deaths arc very bsi 
to obtain. This lady, writing i 
August, gives 5S7 as the number Ihi 
died in 4 months on the word of fl 
superintendent. The Blue Book, Cd 
819, gives 4 months : May, 30 ; Junt 

of deaths i 

WOMEN IN 1901' 276 

before, and to which I therefore told them I was much attached. 
When they had looted aU outside, they went to the house — ^but 
I would not let them in, because the head officer was not yet 
with them. I locked all the doors, and went to the verandah 
with the children and the servants. There were hundreds of 
soldiers round the house. Suddenly I heard a great noise 
inside : they had broken the window of my husband's surgery, 
and were there, looting. Well, when the Commanding Officer 
arrived, they had searched the whole house. The first officer 
who came was a respectable and polite man, and he said I 
should be allowed to remain in my house ; but the second was 
stem and rough, and only said : * Pack up your things and get 
ready to go, the waggon will be here directly.' 

" And so it was, they hardly left me ten minutes to get my 
things together. Though I cried, and told them my husband 
was a Hollander arid had remained neutral,^ and had an appoint- 
ment as medical helper to the Boers, it availed nothing. I was 
obliged to go. 

" The chief officer himself promised to give me a cheque for 
the medicines out of my husband's well-filled shop, but I have 
never heard any more about it since, and I never received the 
cheque. The officers took all my plate and smashed all that 
was breakable before my eyes, and burned the very valuable, 
books (mostly medical works, and in costly bindings) belonging 
to my husband. They also took away more than three hundred 
sheep and silk-goats, and beat them to death with sticks. They 
took possession of the shepherd with a couple of mules and a 
horse, and armed our Kaffir boy. 

" In the evening, as we were encamped at an hour's distance 
from my house, this Kaffir came to me, and said : * Oh ! my dear 
missis, now I must shoot my own master, or the English will 
shoot me down.' I asked him what he had been told to do. 
He answered that at night he was to be a spy with the English, 
and search for and capture Boers. 

"When we left the house they had poured paraffin oil all 
over it and the other houses in the place, and had set fire to 
them and burned them with all they contained. 

" They pull down the churches and bum the pastors' houses. 

" We were transported to Taungs through District Bloemhof, 
and wherever the convoy passed, the English burned, destroyed, 
and captured all and everything ; they even took the Kaffirs and 
servants and burned their straw huts. The food on our road to 

^ Her husband had left a signed document to be shown to every column 
that passed. It b appended. 

Taungs was scarce. Sometimes we were left without food or 
driak for twenty-four hours. They halted in the eveoit^ at 
places where neither wood nor water was to be had, and left 
before daybreak next morning, to drive on till late in the- 
afternoon. In this way we and the children suffered from 
privation, and the poor dumb animals died of hunger and 
fatigue. All along the road we saw them lying about, dead or 

" Wherever the English pass they bum the grass, hoping by 
so doing to starve the Boer horses ; but the Lord is a righteous 
God, and suffereth no unrighteousness, tor when the grass is 
burned up, He sends rain, and in a few days the grass is hi^ 
enough for the horses and the sheep. 

"Altogether the treatment we receive is far from what it 
should be. Our escorts act in an arbitrary way. They who 
laugh and joke with them receive their rations, but those who 
will not, often have to wait three days for a little meal and coffee. 
Our escort was named Hamilton (a Colonial), a boy of nineteen 
or twenty, who lorded it over us. When we arrived at Taungs, 
our luggage, consisting of bedding and a few clothes, was simply 
thrown out of the waggons on to the dirty soil, and had to be 
left there till the afternoon, when each had to get their own 
things on the railway tracks. 

" These were exceedingly foul, some covered with coal-dust, 
others with manure, none of them had even been swept. But 
for us poor women they were good enough. The dirtier th^ 
make us, the truer their reports about us seem to be. But the 
fact is that no Boer or Boer woman is naturally dirty ; they 
always are glad to clean themselves if they have the oppor- 
tuni^ — and soap 1 But the Tommies are careful that thia' 
should not be the case. We had not even sufSdent water for' 
drinking I 

" In that way we had to spend three nights and two and 
a half days. On some of the trucks were more than fifty women, 
children, and old men, There was no space for sleeping ; some 
had stiffened legs when they arrived at Mafeking, and all were 
ill from the wind, the sun, and the cold. My eldest child was 
two years, the youngest two months old; you can understand 
the state I was in. Happily I nursed the baby, or it would 
have died from privation j the eldest sometimes cried for some 
hard biscuit, so-called ' stomach -bombs,' saltless things made of^ 
coarse meal and as hard as stone. But the English consldM' 
them fit for food. 

"As the train left Taungs, we were told not to speak to the 

WOMEN IN 1901 277 

Kaffirs along the line; later on we understood why; wherever 
we came, they called us names and threw dirt at us — which 
seemed rather to amuse the Khakis. 

"A few of the English pitied us heartily, and gave us as 
much help as they could, as for instance getting us some 
boiling water from tl)e engine to make coffee, but most of them 
enjoyed the sight of us, and laughed all the time. When we 
reached Mafekmg, after eleven at night, and the little children 
were sound asleep, warmly wrapped up on our knees, we begged 
to be allowed to remain where we were till morning, to prevent 
the little ones from getting cold and ilL But we were not listened 
to; our things were again thrown ^^he superintendent attributed 
out of the trucks, and we were the introduction of the sickness to 
forced to sit and wait till we the arrival of a large number of 
should be taken to the camp, peop^e on isth August. They were 

Atlasta donkeys ^me for \^^ ^^^^, ^^^^ ,PZ 

US, and I was conveyed to the ni^ht, and in consequence were 

camp at 2 o'clock a.m. The neither examined nor isolated on 

children cried with misery ; at their arrival ; they were temporarily 

home they had been accustomed ^°?^^o*!^,*^ ^f"^ ^'^^ "* ^^°"'- 
to soft warm beds-my mother's "^^^ ^^3, p. i7S. 
heart bleeds to think of such a treatment. When we reached the 
camp, we were set down in front of the so-called schoolroom 
without a roof over our heads, and had to wait till the gentlemen 
were pleased to provide us with a tent. Some have lain out 
there two whole days in sunshine and rain. 

" All our things were soon too much soiled to touch. Those 
women in the camp who had been there for some time, and 
were acquainted with all the horrors, brought us bread and 
coffee now and again. Some of them had been treated in 
the same way, and some even more inhumanly. 

" As for the camp life, it is, « it will need a sustained strong 
in a word, * slow starvation and effort to pull this camp out of the 
defilement.* I cannot thank deplorable condition into which it 
God enough for having been has been allowed to smk. 
enabled to leave it so soon, and come out alive with my two 

"Medical assistance is to be had in the camp. There 
is one Dr. Limpert, and another whose name I have for- 
gotten. There also are a 
couple of nurses; but this is " A request to headquarters for an 

far too little for a population fff ^^^^^T^^'L^^M^^^ JJ'^^X' n*^ 
- ^ , J • 1 been quickly attended to, «nd Dr. 

of 6,000 people, and sickness Limpert arrived on 6th August. He 
in every tent Consequently was found to be useless. . . . Medi- 


cine 13 deplorably deficient Muc 
aniemia amgng women and chitdiei 
and no iron. Much diarrhoia, yet n 
bismuth nor chalt nor catechu wit 
which lo cure it. Many deaths a 
no mortuary. One of the cemelee 
only 20 feet from the eamp boiindani 
and graves onty 3i feet deep. Vfi 
Eaw liitte children engiiged in fillinj 
ibem in." — LJidies' Keport, p. 175. 

the mortality was very great. 

It has happened that mothers 

with small children have had 

lo wait three days before being 

able to speali to the doctor; 

and when at last their turn 

came, simply were told to go 

away, for ' Did they not know 

all children under the age of five 

must dief* Such a one would return lo her lent with tears in 

her eyes, and an undying and implacable hatred Cowards the 

enemy in her heart. 

" The rations are very small. In six weeks I was three times 

given a pound and a half of almost uneatable meat. The doctov 

himself said, 'You can eat, but 

" I>uring the last two monlhi) 
weeks have passed with only a 
of fresh meal at intervals, 
suRiciency for the hosfulal 

don't come lo me for medicine 
then ! ' Luckily I 

i money of my own, and 

was able to buy myself some staff only is obtainable. 'Biillyberf 
and bread form a quite unsuitabt 
diet tor children, who will certainl' 
die in numbers if so fed." — Ladioi 
Keport, p. 176. 

food ; but most of the 

either had nothing when they 

were captured, or were robbed 

of what they possessed by the 

troops, and these are obliged to live solely on the scant ratioi 


"The day after I arrived they received meat, but when they 
wished lo go and complain about the quality to the Colonel a 
Mafeking, and show him that 

the meat was not fit for food, ''The Commission are ummimousli 
the camp s„p=ri„,e„de„t, H.c- IUT^'^.J^! SiiSTSS"" 
Cowat, would not grant them a greatly to blame." 
pass. This made the women 

so furious that they took hold of him and poshed the rai 
meat into his mouth, saying, 'Eat that yourself; we are u! " 

to better meat.' 

" I have been in the camp 
for six weeks. During that time 
clothes have been distributed 
once. But just those women 
whose husbands, sons, or 

" Two Boer women said senuHtelif 
that if English ladies sent gifts thq 
ought to distribute Ihem themselve* 
if left to local committees of cl 
camp people, they gave to their QW 
friends rather than those most i 
want."— p. 172- 

' " Alle kinder onder (yf moet frelc." " Frek " is nsed of the death 
animals. It is quite probable that the overworked and under-staffed doclH 
meant by this that he could not, had not, the means to keep them alivCi 
while to people unfamiliar with English it would sound deliberate. 

WOMEN IN 1901 279 

brothers have taken the oath of loyalty were given any ; those 
whose husbands are still fighting receive nothing, and some of 
them with their children go barefoot. 

" It is not true that tliMS Boer women beg to be taken to the 
camp — all of them would rather have stayed in their own house 
and their own place, even though they were not amply provided 
with stores. I, for instance, need never have gone ; my house 
was filled with com, meal, and clothes, and I have always had 
plenty to give away to the needy in our village. I was carried 
off illegally, since my husband is * volunteer ' or * dilettant ' doctor 
with the Boers, has a certificate as such, and moreover is neutral, 
and both of us are Hollanders. 

"... You must know that in the camp we may not show 
our true colours, or our rations are decreased. The wisest is to 
suffer in silence. . . ." 

Paper left by Mr. Klazinga as a Protection for 

HIS Wife. 

The Hon. Officer in Command of His Majesty's Forces acting 
in the District of Wolmaransstad, and visiting this farm 

" Herewith I take the liberty to bring to your knowledge the 
following facts and circumstances about me and my family : — 

" I. That I am an Uitlander^ staying in the Transvaal for 
about two years and a half before the war ; no burgher of the 
South African Republic, but still a subject of a neutral State 

" 2. That I am the acting chief of the Wolmaransstad field- 
ambulance since the beginning of the war, in which position I 
had already in several cases the pleasure to render important 
services to the British forces in taking care and giving every help 
needed to wounded, or on the battlefield follow officers and 
troops from His Majesty's army, or otherwise. 

" Considering in this way to be in a quite neutral position, 
as well by my being a certificated Red Cross officer, as my being 
a subject of Her Majesty Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands ; 

" I request humbly, but most determinately, 

"(a) That my wife and children will be left in this house, 
if there should be any intention on your side to take them away. 

" {b) That my family may be kept safe from any molestation, 
as well as the few properties I possess here. No guns or cart- 
ridges will be found in my house. 

" {c) So that I am treated just as, for example, the neutral 



Uittander storekeepers in this and other districts, whose persons, 
families, and possessions are fully respected in every way. 

" Further, I beg you to assist my wife, if possible, with some 
corn flour, cojfee, etc, and a pair of cows, as I am informed has 
been granted at other places to women wanting these articles. 

" Giving my hearty thanks for all the kindness and help you 
will grant to jiiy family, believe me to remain, Honourable Sir, 
yours most faithfully, A. H. Klazinga, 

Acting-Chief, Wolmaransstad Ambulance. 
" Welvkbdiend, March igor," 

A woman who ran away from Mafeking Camp told her story 
on oath before General Celliers : it agrees with all which comes- 
from other sources — 

"On this day, the i6th of November 1901, appeared before 
me at Veigenoegd, District ZeerusI, South African Republic, 
Petronella Jehanna Van Staden, who declares on oath ' — 

" 1 am the wife of Adriaan Van Staden, a resident of this place. 
On the nth of June last I was taken prisoner here, together with 
other women, and conducted to Mafeking, On arrival there we 
were placed in the women's camp in tents. We received the 
following daily rations : meat, rice, flour, and jam ; also coSee 
and sugar. We were satisfied with our food. This lasted for 
two months. First our meat rations were reduced to 2 lbs. per 
week, Later on the coffee and sugar ; and so it went on until the 
first of this month, when I escaped, and our rations were 
then for eight days as follows : a plateful of flour, z lbs. of ricCi 
\ lb. of coffee, and i lb. of sugar; meat, a lbs. pet week for 
every adult. Children under la years of age got half rations. 
The doctors treated us very roughly. Sometimes they as- 
saulted us when we applied for medicines. Many a time we 
were told: 'If all those in camp perished it would not 
matter." As for firewood, they allowed us 30 lbs. of green wood 
per week. We were obliged to dig for roots in order to enable 
us to make fires. They did not give us any clothes, unless we 
were in the direst want of them, viz., when we were almost naked. 
Clothes that had been collected for us by our minister. Rev. Van 
der Spuy, in Cape Colony, were not given to us, but to the families 
of those bu^hers who had surrendered to the enemy. The 
same happened with the victuals sent for us. By ' us ' I mean the 
wives of those burghers who are still in the field. The cases of 
mortality in the camp were very numerous. Last month we 
' See Report of General De la Key, p. %1. 

WOMEN IN 1901 281 

had 580 deaths, mostly children. "Going carefully through the camp, 

I have these statistics from my we could not but feel uiat little or 

brother, Johamies Smit, who has nothing had been done by the 

^ist«i in making the coffins. ST^ons!" oTSe Z^] 

The Bntish authorities supply the conditions had in some respects 

the coffins, and cause the graves deteriorated since our visit, and it 

to be dug, but we ourselves was plain that until iflie arrival of 

must attend to the funeral. The I^'- M<>rrow no real effort had been 
niuac au^v^iivA tv/ w*iv, iiiiiv.ic*x. x iiv* niadc to prcvcnt or to cope with the 

cases of mortality vaned from sickness. This had steadily increased, 

20 to 30 a day. With the ex- until 2,000 cases of disease were 

ception of the distribution of feristered at one time : 29 deaths 

clothes, no distinction is made ^ J^'^'^'i^ ,!L T .^^^^'- ^^iT' 

wvri.*xv.o, xxxj vui9i.xxiv.uwii x^ ^'^^^ 500 lives had been lost dunng the ten 
between us and the wives of the weeks since we had left."— Cd. 893, 
'hands-uppers.* Whenever we p. i74« Ladies' Report, 
go to make a complaint, we are 

roughly treated, and most of the time we are told to go to H . 

Our complaints were never investigated. We were told that the 
women that had escaped had been murdered by the Kaffirs, and 
further that our own officers did not want us any more, and also 
that General De la Rey had said that he would shoot all women 
that ever escaped. Before I escaped, several other women had 
done so, and it was reported that they had been murdered by 
Kaffirs. However, I decided to run away. Myself and Aletta 
Smart escaped from the camp on the 7th inst., at night. We 
arrived here after wandering about for two nights and two days. 
But for the reports that are being circulated, as to the murdering 
of escaped women by Kaffirs, many more women would try to 
escape. All of them are very dissatisfied as to their treatment. 
We got nothing but tinned meat. At first it was good, but after- 
wards it was very bad. Once we were warned not to eat the meat, 
as the animals had died from lung disease. The tinned meat is 
very unhealthy, and causes diarrhoea. Before I escaped, two 
women from Lichtenburg ran away, who were, however, arrested 
and brought back by Kaffirs. They were then punished, with 
eight days* rice-water. They got no other food, and were moreover 
put in a separate camp. I had a child when I was taken a 
prisoner ; it died in camp. Most of the children die of measles. 
The food is supplied and distributed in camp. Many a time we 
have to wait from early in the morning till late in the afternoon 
before they give us anything, and many a time they tell us that 

we are no better than . P. J. Van Staden. 

" Sworn before me on the date and at the place aforesaid. 

"J. G. Celliers, 
Fighting General for Lichtenburg and Marico." 


Terrible as Mrs. Klazinga's description is, every word is 
endoised by the various official reports relating to Mafeking 

A young girl also wrote from there — 

"Your letter and ^^s "o'*^ 'o hand, for which accept my 
heartiest thanks. 1 also received the same amount from Miss 
Monkhouse, so bought thirteeii boxes of soap and candles, and 
distributed it among the needy, for which they were very thaiikful 
Here are over 5,000 people now, and we expect 400 more to-day. 
Miss Monkhouse and Mellor did not reach here yet. I hope 
theyll turn up one of these days. Here were six other ladies,^ 
but I haven't had the pleasure of meeting thera. Nurse Crawfurd 
was ill for a time, but am glad to say she is enjoying good health. 
again ; there are about four nurses besides her now. Two of my 
sisters are laid up ; one has fever, I think. N. Hartman." 

A member of the Cape Town Committee writes — 

"Jan, 28, igoa, 

"A girl called to see me who has been let out of one of 
the camps. She was so ill that they consented to let her go to 
save her life. She has been a month in bed, and is still very pale 
and shaky. Her spirit is extraordinarj-. She is bound by a sort 
of promise not to detail stories about the camps, on pain of being 
had up before a court-martial and ' dealt with like a man, without 
respect of age or sex." She could therefore only speak quite gener. 
ally, but she is on fire witli suppressed fury. She is pretty, 
slight, and graceful, of the highly -organised, nervous, dark-haired 
type of Transvaal woman, not like the calm, slow-spoken Cape 

"She says, speaking of the Natal camps in 1901, that these 
have been fairly healthy, but will be so no longer, for they are 
being crowded with thousands of new-comers from the north, 
who arrive wretched in the last degree, and bring disease with 
them. Howick has now a high mortality, though death was 
infrequent there before. She described the advent of some 
hundreds of poor people lately from KSerksdorp. They had 
been travelling for many days, but had no food whatever by the 
way. They arrived at the camp like wild animals raging with' 
hunger — a pitiful sight — the children and women alike worn 
down to literal skin and bone. 

" The children were screaming in an appalling way, and when 

at last hot porridge was put before them, they fell upon it and 

' Namely, the Ladies' Commissian. 

WOMEN IN 1«01 98S 

literally devoured it, though it was scalding hot. A man who saw 
the sight felt as if years had been added to his life. The poor 
creatures looked scarcely like human beings at all. They had 
not been allowed out of the vehicles in which they were con- 
veyed, even for ordinary needs. 

" One baby had died of starvation on the way ; the mother 
had to hand the little body down to be buried. At night they 
were guarded by bayonetted soldiers, and could not move. 
Their torments were unspeakable." 

Mrs. Strassheim, likewise a distributor of relief in her camp, 
writes gratefully from Klerksdorp — 

To THE Honorary Sbcrbtarv, Reuef Committee, 

Cape Town. 

'*Sepf.s, 1901. 

" It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge the goods 
received by us for the relief of women and children in the 
camp here. 

" I need hardly tell you how welcome your gift is : we have 
very many needy ones to whom all this will come as a God-send. 
I shall try and do what I can in connection with the distribution. 
It is a great pleasure for me to be able to do anything for our 
poor people, and I hope I shall be worthy of the confidence you 
have placed in me. 

" What pleases us very much are the boxes with contributions 
from friends who, it seems, have personally prepared the work. 
It is touching to notice how lovingly the little garments have 
been got up. Will you tell the donors how much we appreciate 
their thoughtfulness and kindness? I want also specially to 
mention the boots, stockings, and also the leather, which will go a 
long way in supplying a great need. 

"There are 1,733 women over sixty-two years in the camp, 
and 2,352 children, so you can understand that everything will come 
in very handy, and that many hearts will be made glad. 

" We have had an epidemic of measles here, which I am sorry 
to say has carried off many of the children. There is still a good 
deal of sickness, but much is being done to alleviate the suffer- 
ing. They are fortunate in having in the superintendent a real 
friend — one who feels for them, and who has their welfare at 

" The rice, maizena, peas, etc, will be used for soups for the sick. 
I just want to say that only three out of the eight bags of rice 
have reached us. . . ." 

This lady, whose husband was a chaplain with Ihe Boer 
forces, was amongst those exiled to Natal, ten days after writing 
the above. On isth September 1901, the deportation was described 
by General De la Rey — 

" In virtue of Lord Kitchener's proclamation, on the evening 
of 15th September 1901, at Klerksdorp, 500 women and childien 
of burghers still on commando were driven in oi>en cattle trucks ; 
tiie night was rough and stormy. Among the women was the 
wife of General Liebenberg with her children, the wife of Mr, 
Pienaar (Mining Commissioner), the wife of the Rev, Strassheim, 
and many others of the prominent inhabitants of Klerksdorp and 
the neighbourhood, with their children. Next morning the train 
started ; the whole company, including the people who had come 
to bid them good-bye, first sang a psalm, whereupon the eldest 
daughter of General Liebenbei^ displayed a Transvaal flag, which 
she herself had made. An English officer advanced and tore the 
flag from her hands, amid loud protests of the women. As soon 
as the train had started, the same young lady brought out another 
flag, which she waved, while all the women and children in the 
cattle trucks sang the National Anthem, until the station of 
Klerksdorp was lost to sight. ^ " 

On the Death of a Brother. 

"WiNBURii Camp, Noo. 16. 

"Many thanks," wrote a young teacher, "for your most wel- 
come letter of condolence. I was indeed very pleased to hear 
from you, for I did not know what had become of you. It is 
very hard to have parted with such a dear brother, He was 
indeed so much to us— a dear brother and a father to us, I can't 
tell you how terribly I miss him. But we have a very great com- 
fort : he was prepared to meet his God, and what more do we 
want ! We can only submit and say, ' Thy will be done.' And 
how beautiful to know God has done it all out of love to us, for 
those He lovetli He chasteneth. 

" Poor Mary is at Harrismith Camp with Mrs. L, The camp 
is large now ; there are about 3,000 people. There were up to 
eight corpses a day. Several school friends are here. Sarah, 
Maria, Maggie, Stinie, and others. We have a school here : I am 
helping in it. We have about 300 children that attend. I should 
be glad if you could send me a few nice stories that would do for 
my Sunday-school class." 

' See Report of De U Rey and Smuts, p. 3a. 

WOMEN IN 1901 286 

In the same quiet tone writes another to Miss Murray — 

" Blobmfontbin Camp, Dec, lo. 

" I was so glad to hear from you again. It is such a comfort 
to hear from friends in this miserable camp. I do wish you could 
stand on the randje and watch it for a few minutes. Your 
thoughts seem to overwhelm you, and you have to turn away. 
What is God's will ? For what purpose has He brought us so 
far? These are thoughts which often puzzle us. Of our treat- 
ment we cannot complain, although the heat is sometimes so bad 
that we cannot endure it, yet God gives us strength even in this. 
We do miss our comfortable homes, our butter and milk, and 
vegetables and fruit gardens; we can only sing, 'Oh wait and 
murmur not.' What I have experienced sdnce I saw you last 
cannot be written on paper. We have gone through deep waters 
and many trials, and even had shells over our head^. I speak of 
home, but in reality we have no homes now, only farms. My 
piano and harmonium are utterly destroyed. 

" The death-angel has also entered our home and taken away 
our blessed brother* He had no illness, but fell on the battle- 
field. Particulars are not known to us, for he fell since we are 
in camp. I know he is safe, for his life showed plainly Whose 
he was and Whom he served. I am also longing to lead such a 
life. My aunt also died here in camp, and her little orphans were 
left to our care. The hospitals are quite crowded with sick 
people ; so many deaths I never heard of in my life." 



PART HL— 1902 



" Did we think Victory great? 
So it is — ^but now it seems to me, 
When it cannot be helped, that defeat is great, 
And that death and dismay are great" — ^Walt Whitman. 

THE year 1902 opened in anxiety for watchers over 
the welfare of the camps, and small relief came with 
the publication of the December death -rate. It was 
lower than the previous months, but still stood at 261.09 for 
camps in the aggregate. The two first Blue Books ^ had revealed 
a state of things far worse and more widespread in ill effects than 
the little Report, which had occasioned such indignation six 
months earlier. 

But in spite of Blue Books, debates, and publication of facts, 

ignorance still prevailed about the Boer women and children, 

only it was now a wilful ignorance. The women of England 

seemed in the state described by Ruskin, they "shut out the 

death cries, and are happy and talk wittily among themselves. 

That is the utter literal fact of what our ladies do in their pleasant 

lives." They are reached, he goes on to say, " only at intervals by 

a half-heard cry and a murmur as of the wind's sighing when 

I myriads of souls expire." ^ in a word, the majority did not heed 

f or did not care, while others were glad to avail themselves of the 

I new reasons given for the origin of the camps by Mr. Chamberlain 

\ in the House of Commons.^ He assured the country that the 

" whole responsibility for such misery as has been caused rested 

upon the shoulders of the Boer Commandant*' * He referred the 

House to the correspondence between Lord Kitchener and 

1 Cd. 819 and Cd. 853, 1901. « Crown of Wild Olive. 

* Jan. 19, 1902. ^ Times ^ Jan. 20, 1902. 


General Botha, which is given elsewhere, and which he affirmed 
was the origin of the camps.^ 

If Mr. Chamberlain's plea had been in accordance with fiicts, ' 
it could only have served to strengthen the case against the^'- 
concentration system. It entirely cut the ground from imder 
the argument that concentration was a work of unparalleled 
humanity undertaken to save women and children from starva- 
tion, and turned it into a mere act of reprisal. No ingenuity 
could call an act of reprisal humane which caused 20,000 deaths, 
chiefly among children. But Mr. Chamberlain's plea was not 
in accordance with facts. We have seen already that the cor- 
respondence on which he rested his case was vitiated by a 
misquotation on a vital point, and that the documents 
referred to by Lord Kitchener contain no evidence that the 
burning of farms was adopted as a method of punishment by 
the Boer Generals, but rather prove the contrary. 

It must be added that the correspondence between Lord 
Kitchener and General Botha did not take place until many 
camps had been in existence for many months — and already 
contained thousands of people. Mr. Chamberlain, however, 
thought, and doubtless many were glad to think with him, that 
with " a humanity absolutely unprecedented in the history of war, 
we, upon whom these women and children have been forced, have 
executed the duty and responsibility in the name of humanity." ^ 
Further, the Colonial Secretary thought there had been "gross 
exaggeration" as to the deaths in the camps. There is, he 
said, an enormous child mortality in norm^ times, and that 
mortality must be deducted. " With such a people the death-rate 
could not be expected to fall below 100 per 1,000." ' During this 
last May (1902) we have seen, since Mr. Chamberlain's thorough 
reforms, the rate fall to 20 ! 

Every week telegrams now appeared announcing some im- 
provement in the camp system. New schemes for supplying 
water in Bloemfontein, Kroonstad, and Winburg — new arrange- 
ments for housing in huts instead of tents — the issue of vegetables, 
and so forth. Particularly pleasing was it to learn that 200 boys 
were learning woodwork in Irene Camp, and that Miss Pughe 
Jones is teaching knitting at Kroonstad, and Miss Wilson, sister I 
of the Secretary to the Administration, is teaching knitting and the 
making of point and Flemish lace to the girls in the Bloemfontein 
Camp. Her labours have been so successful that teachers from 
other camps are coming to learn the work during their holidays. 

^ Part I. chap. i. p. 35, and Part II. chap. i. p. 100. 

' TitneSi Jan. 20 ; see also p. 146, note. ' Times^ Jan. 20. 


" The total number of children in the Government schools 
the Orange River Colony is now 13,409, as compared with a total 
8,900 in the Government and private schools under the oldrSgime.' 

Indeed, the work of the Education Department advanced 
rapidly as sickness decreased, and a hundred teachers were 
selected by the English and Scotch Education Departments for 
South Africa. "It has been most gratifying," wrote Mr, 
Sargant,^ " to observe how quickly friendly relations were estab- 
lished between the o!d teachers and the new. . . . The English 
teachers report that they find the children intelligent, docile, and 
eager to learn. They speak highly also of the results the Dutch 
teachers had achieved before their arrival." By these and other 
means the life of the camps was made bearable, and for the 
children, even interesting, while the greater suffering passed to 
those famihes who, it vrill be seen, were still in the various districts 
where military operations continued. 

In March 3 Mr. Humphreys Owen moved the following 
amendment — "This House deplores the great mortality in the 
Concentration Camps formed in the execution of the policy of 
clearing the country." To his remarks Mr. Chamberlain replied 
in a speech which showed he had been misinformed on many 
points. He denied that farm-burning was the origin of the 
camps, for he believed only some 600 were burnt, and that 
figure multiplied by five, taking five as an average family, would 
not account for the large number in the camps.* This shows 
that Mr. Chamberlain still believed that the handful of farms 
returned as burnt in Cd. 524 was the sum-total destroyed. He 
went on to say that when the guerilla warfare began " it was 
found that from one cause or another vast numbers of Boer 
women and children would be left unprotected on the veld. 
As a Christian nation we could not leave them there." ' One 
' does not know what date Mr. Chamberlain fixes as the beginning 
I of guerilla warfare, but the eviction by our troops of Boer 
families, and their deportation, exile, and concentration, began,, 
as we have seen, many months before Lord Roberts left South 
Africa. The remark is puzzling, because inconsistent with his 
previous explanation. Mr. Chamberlain does not offer any reason 
why British columns " captured " women and children living quietly 
in towns, and also those who were not unprotected, but had been 

LalTan, Afaiuhaler Guardian, April I, 1902; see also Cd. 1 163 (1908), 

p. 14?. 

_ _. 1 163 ( 1902), p. 14?. Report of Mr. E. B. SafEant. 

Match 4, [902. * .See Time!, Match 5, 1902. 

See end of chapter. 


placed in laagers by the Boers, who supplied them with food, and 
left them in the care of old men past fighting. He repudiated 
the complaint that there had been delay in making improvements 
in the camps after attention had been called to the need of it ; yet, 
if Mr. Chamberlain had done in June what he did in December, 
thousands of lives might have been spared. The Colonial 
Secretarjr's figures were arrived at by quoting infantile mortality 
against a child mortality, which was reckoned to twelve years in 
the Transvaal, and to fifteen years in the Orange River Colony. 
Finally, he said he did not know that the women were unwilling 
to come into the camps, though "it is fair to say they were 
brought in." He thought very few wanted to go to fiiends, and 
the people were allowed to go when it was quite certain they 
would be well taken care of. 

This statement does not agree with facts which have re- ^ .,^- 
peatedly come before public notice. A well-known instance 
is that of Mrs. De Wet, who had written openly to Mr. Brodrick 
about her detention, and about wh6m the War Secretary was 
questioned as recently as May.^ Mr., MacNeill extracted the 
information on that occasion that Mrs. De Wet might only 
leave the camp to go out of South Africa, and that in the 
opinion of the Secretary for War exaggerated importance had 
been attached to the lady. Consequently, Mrs. De Wet was 
kept a prisoner in Pietermaritzburg Camp till the cessation of 
hostilities. Mrs. Neethling, who died in Balmoral Camp, is 
another instance, and a very sad one. Repeated applications 
by her relations failed to secure her release. These cases could 
be easily multiplied. 

The Report of the Ladies' Commission was issued in February. 
To comment upon it in detail would be outside the scope of this 
book, but a few words may be usefully said. The book is divided 
into two parts, the General Report, and reports on separate camps. 
Considerable care has been shown in dealing with some of the 
twenty-two points examined in each camp, especially the Sanitary 
and Hospital Departments, and the issue of rations. Other im- 
portant branches, such as the orphans, the local helpers, applica- 
tions to leave, and the mortality lists, received scant attention. 
The whole was, of course, a rather s uperficial y iew, as the Com- 
mission rarely spent more than the inside of two days in a camp. 
This precluded them from entering at all into the life of the 
camps as felt by the people, for the Boers are not a race inclined 
to open their hearts to strangers of a day's acquaintance. The 
Commission reiterated the facts, and urged the recommendations 

^ Manchester Guardian^ May 14, 1902. 
19 i 


made months before, and madi^ some useful unprovemeDts which 
they had power to do. One of their best pieces of work was 
securing the appointment as Inspector, of Mr. Cole Bowen, an 
idea proposed months previously. The mortality figures given 
by the Commission are unreliable. They disagree with the Blue 
Books, and are misleading, as they begin and end according to 
fancy. Neither are the dates given for the establishment of camps 
always conecl. For instance, February 1901 is given as the 
commencement of Johannesburg Camp, whereas it was a large 
camp in November igoo.' 

The regrettable feature of the book is the tone of the General 
Report, which does not bear out the separate reports. Particu- 
larly unfortunate is the endeavour to cast a large part of the 
responsibility for their children's deaths upon the Boer mothers. 
However constantly and unchivalrously ministers, hard up for 
excuses, have sheltered themselves behind the supposed stupidi^ 
and carelessness of Boer mothers, one hoped that Englishwomen 
would have been above such accusations. They have only suc- 
ceeded in collectbg a few isolated cases — such as one woman who 
used green oil paint— one who used vermilion paint — one who 
used varnish — one who ate a poultice. These are not many 
out of some 40,000 or 50,000 women. For the rest, their error 
seems to have been the use of old-fashioned remedies, many of a 
like kind to which can be studied in Nicholas Culpeper, and all can 
be capped in English villages in the twentieth century, with parish 
doctors everywhere. To-day one hears of mouse-pie in certain 
parts of England, of snails to cure consumption, those found 
creeping up a churchyard wall, those crawling down are of no 
avail, and in a northern county blacklead is used to anoint wounds 
in sore legs. A jelly of black slugs, stewed in water, is mentioned 
by a recent writer in the Spectator as obtaining still in villages 
known to him, and we are all familiar with a potato carried in 
the pocket for rheumatism, and a dead spider tied in a bag for 
measles. But does one ever hear of deaths arising from these 
remedies ? 

The case of the green oil paint seems to have occurred in 
Krugersdorp Camp. It was said to have been used externally by 
one mother, and two children died from its effects, or perhaps 
from the ailments from which they were suffering. Dr. Kendal 
Franks tells us the name of these children was 'Smith.' (Cd. 
815, p. 193.) This instance, like the story of the raw carrot, was 
bandied from camp to camp, published far and wide, quoted in 
Parliament and Press, till people believed it was a common usage 
' See Part I. chap. ii. 


of the Boer mothers. The American leather, spoken of as being 
a medical trophy brought home by the Commission, is, doctors 
tell me, quite a common and not a bad foundation for a plaster 
in South Africa. The vermilion oil paint, which so alarmed a 
nurse, is doubtless Rooie poeder or Rooie minie, which is a pre- 
paration of red lead. A doctor, with twenty years' practice belund 
him in the Free State, says it is constantly used by Boer women, 
in the same way as we use iodine, to paint extemdly where there 
is some inflammation. He says it is absolutely harmless. Some- 
times they mix it with linseed poultices, but it is never used to 
paint sores or open wounds. Mrs. Louis Botha told me she 
has used it with success on her children. Apart from traditional 
remedies, the Dutch medicines were prohibited by the Commission, 
who believed that to them "many a child has fallen victim."^ 
They are prepared by a Cape Town firm, in a convenient little 
case called a * Huis Apothek.' There is hardly a coimtry house 
in the whole extent of South Africa which does not possess one 
of these little boxes. The doctor previously mentioned told me 
that every one of the medicines in this little chest is absolutely 
harmless, and that one might take the whole lot ^t once without 
being any the worse. They are, he said, a kind of homoeopathic 
medicine, quite innocuous; and during his long experience he 
has never known any harm accruing from their use, though his 
patients frequently took them, while following also his prescrip- 
tions. Mrs. Dicienson, before quoted, noted also that the 
women much prefer their own medicines, some of which, she 
says, "are made of herbs gathered on the veld, others are 
what we generally use under different names. I endeavoured," 
she say, "to reconcile them to the use of ours, as the Dutch 
medicines are forbidden, and a doctor (one of the prisoners) was 
arrested at Bethulie and sent to Bloemfontein for prescribing 
them ! " 

Individual acts of carelessness or stupidity or ignorance, which 
result in death, are to be met with daily in every community, and 
these only mar the impartial character of an official report. One 
feels sorry at this raking up of trivialities, calculated to transfer to 
the sufferers the blame for our ineffectual carrying out of our self- 
made responsibilities. The Commission stand on firmer ground 
when they deal with the two other reasons they assign for the 
high mortality, viz. the imhealthy state of the country consequent 
on the war, and causes within the control of the Administration. 
. But, leaving the General Report, the Commission in the various 
camps make admissions, and conduct sweeping reforms, which are 

^ Cd. 893, p. 16. 


the more significant considering the spirit in which they write 
about the women. They do not shrink from condemning iU- 
cliosen sites, dismissing incompetent superinlendenls, reforming 
entire hospitals, urging various improvements in food, fuel, and 
water, recommending beds and amelioriating sanitation. 

But nowhere do we find in the pages of this Report any con- 
demnation of the custom of detaining women well able to 1* 
or orphans to whom welcome is offered in Cape Colony, or of the 
punishments meted out to women of good character — such i 
wired enclosures and solitary guard tents for breaking petty rules 
not clearly understood, or perhaps simply because pride was 
expressed in the persistence of their husbands in the field. The 
Commission glide over these things with some short paragraphs 
on "discipline and morals." 

Meanwhile, during the last months of the war, after the camps 
had been improved, the condition of the families not brought 
in called for the greatest pity. Speaking on March 4, Mr. 
Chamberiain had said that as a Christian nation we could not 
leave numbers of Boer women and children unprotected on the 
veld-' Yet during the last five months of the war that was 
what was done. 

In December igoi. Lord Kitchener had said he had given 
orders that "no more women and children were to be brought 
into the camps unless it was clear that they must starve upon the 
veld." Side by side with this order it appears that destruction of 
houses continued. General Lukas Meyer stated that in February 
of this year (1902) he saw the smoke of burning houses rise in the 
Pretoria district between White Nek and Rhenoster Kop, and 
Generals Hertzog and Smuts say also that the destruction of 
houses and food -stuffs was persisted in after the order was 
issued to bring no more women into the camps, Indeed, the 
destruction of homes continued right up to the beginnings of 
peace, and I learn on high authority that even during the 
negotiations a house was burnt in the district of Heilbron. 

It must not be forgotten that not merely solitary farms had 
been burnt, but whole villages laid waste, in many cases even 
to the churches. The villages of Piet Retief, Bethel, Ermelo, 
Dullstroom, Amsterdam, Paul - Pietersberg, Roos Senekal, 
Bloemhof, Schweizer-Reineke, H arte bees tfontein, Wolmarans- 
stad, Lindley, Ventersburg, and Bothaville were thus demol- 
ished, together with parts of Reitz, Frankfort, Dewetsdorp, 
Jacobsdal, Fouriesberg and others. It was just at the period 
when at length the camps had been properly organised and 
' Timet, Match S, 1902. 


supplied with necessaries that women were refused admittance, 
unless they brought their husbands with them, while at the 
same time suffering loss, of their own shelter and means of 
subsistence. The number of people thus suffering, and the 
fuD facts concerning them, were not known until the Burghers* 
Conference took place at Vereeniging, and each Commandant 
laid the report of affairs in his district before the Assembly. 

The following information was given to a Cape lady by some 
of the Generals : — 

"The Conference discovered that there were still 10,000 
women and children who were not in camps. These women 
were in a shocking condition — their homes and all food supplies 
were destroyed Their men were able to supply them with food, 
but the British sent out at once to rob them of these fresh 
supplies, and did this by means of bodies of armed natives, who 
took away all food and clothing, and broke up the women's 
cooking utensils. The women were then entirely at the mercy 
of these natives, with results that one dare not dwell upon. . . . 
Many women were almost naked when their men arrived, some 
had on only blouses. Many of the women were found in Kaffir 

This description is supported by General Hertzog, who, 
writes Mr. Drew, " tells me flie necessity for surrendering came 
upon the Free State burghers as an unexpected shock. It 
was the state of things which Louis Botha disclosed in the 
Eastern Transvaal, which left no option but to give in. Some 
10,000 Boer women and children were being fed principally in 
that district, but only enough provision remained for another six 
weeks. The British had for many months stopped the practice 
of gathering families into the Concentration Camps, though the 
work of destroying both the houses and the food-stuffs was still 
persisted in. Families would be left in the bare veld by the 
side of the blackened, roofless walls of their houses, and with 
not so much as a peck of flour left them for bread. The meal 
would be either removed or emptied out on the ground, and 
anything else fit for food would also be destroyed. Twas useless 
to appeal to the General to receive into the camps the women 
and children thus left to starve, and admission was even refused 
to the families of surrendered burghers, who were already 
prisoners in Ceylon or elsewhere. To worsen matters, Kaffirs 
were being armed by the thousand and sent forth over the 
country, sometimes in separate corps, and sometimes attached as 
scouts to the British columns. . . . The natural consequences 
of rape and murder did not fail to ensue." 



The account given me by General Lukas Meyer of the 
women's condition coincided with the above. 

Finding remonstrance was useless, the Boer Generals felt 
they must review the whole position, and the sufferings of the 
women outside the camps, together with the mortality in the 
camps, and the arming of the Kaffirs, which endangered life and 
honour, were embodied in the first three resolutions drawn up at 
■ the Vereeniging Conference, and form the main reasons for the 
surrender which followed. It was a surrender as fine as the 
struggle so long persevered in ; the object of that struggle was 
manfully set aside when it was clear that the price in innocent 
life would be so terrible. The three first reasons given in 
the document handed to Lord Milner and Lord Kitchener ran 
as follows : ' — 

" I. That the plan of campaign followed by the British 
military authorities has led to the utter devastation of the territory 
of both Republics, and the burning of farms and villages, and the 
destruction of means of subsistence has exhausted a!l sources of 
food supply necessary for the maintenance of our families and 
the existence of our army, 

" 2. That the placing of our captured families in Concen- 
centration Camps has led to an unparalleled condition of suffering 
and sickness, so that in a comparatively brief period about 
ao,ooo of our near and dear ones have died in the camps, and 
we have to face the terrible prospect that by the further prolonga- 
tion of the war our people may die out altogether. 

"3. That the Kaffir tribes within and outside the borders 
of the Republics are almost all armed and take part in the war 
against us (by the committal of murders and other atrocities), 
thus causing an intolerable state of things in many districts of 
both Republics — as, for example, in the district of Vryheid, 
where fifty-six burghers were cruelly murdered and mutilated by 
natives," etc. etc 

Thus Peace was brought about and proclaimed, and the news 
came to the women whose spirit had never failed. As their lot 
had been far harder than that of the men prisoners of war, so Che 
measure of their relief is greater. 

"Strange scenes were witnessed at the Irene Concentration 
Camp yesterday when the conclusion of peace was announced. 
The occupants assembled and gave expression to their joy by 
praying and singing psalms. Many of the people shed tears." ^ 


" Blobmfontbin Camt, /une 3. 
*'This morning a party of Boer representatives arrived from 
Vereeniging. They were followed by a great crowd, but there 
was no cheering or other demonstration. Later, several of them 
rode into the Refugee Camp, where they were received with an 
extravagant demonstration of joy, men and women weeping and 
laughing at the same time. Crowds of refugees surrounded the 
horsemen, talking together and all asking for news of relatives 
and friends." 

WOMEN IN 1902 

" Oh cease ! must hate and death return ?i 
Cease ! must men kill and die ? 
Cease ! drain not to its dregs the urn 

Of bitter prophecy ! 
The world is weary of tlie past, 
Oh might it die or rest at last ! "— Shellby. 

Letter from the Clergyman's Wife. 

"Harrismith Camt, /an, 3, 1902. 

" T AM afraid we will all die of fever if we remain much 
I longer in this crowded and closed camp. The wire 
•*• fencing is quite close to the tents, and there is no 
chance for a walk in order to get a little fresh air ; we can't even 
go into town any more. Measles, whooping-cough, and fever 
have been raging most furiously among old and young. Oh ! to 
see the dear Httle children wasting away like tender plants before 
the hot rays of the sun. Every day there are two, three, up to 
eight, to be buried. We cannot live in these single bell-shaped 
tents ; they are too hot in the daytime ; even though the lower 
part is rolled it is so hot on the beds that Mr. T. and I have 
often left our parasols over the head of a sick baby to give it a 
little more shade. All of a sudden a thick cloud comes from the 
Natal mountains ; it rains, and you turn in for the night with a 
very cold and damp wind playing on you all night. Often these 
tents leak, for some of them are old and thin. Many a measles 
patient gets wet all over, and consequently dies of inflammation in 
the lungs. And even though they don't leak, still your bed and 
clothes, everything, get quite damp on rainy nights. We have 
to fasten up the openings on rainy days and creep underneath 
through the mud. Oh, it is a horrid life ; there are broken hearts 
in almost every tent. 'Rachel weeping for her children, and 
would not be comforted, because they are not* 


WOMEN IN 1908 297 

" Poor Mrs. L. is no more. She got measles ; her tent was 
near mine, so I watched over her and brought her food. She did 
not seem bad at first, but her tent got wet, and she got in- 
flammation of the lungs. I went immediately for the doctor, 
but he had his hands so full that he could only come three days 
later; he took her to the hospital, where she died the same day. 
They are well cared for in the hospital, and the superintendent 
does everything to keep the camp healthy. To-day we got some 
onions and potatoes, a present ; but I don't know how we will live 
through the summer without v^etables and fruit When I see 
the dear, innocent little children passing away, it reminds me of a 
children's sermon your father had on the text, * The streets of the 
city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in them.' 

" We have had very hot weather and great scarcity of water 
for the last three days. We cannot wash our clothes or take 
our baths ; we can scarcely cook our food. We are hard up for 
fuel, and often have to go without dinner because we have no 
firewood. Everything is done by our Commissioner to improve 
the health and comfort of our camp. The sweets and cakes 
sent by our friends firom the Colony arrived here in time to give 
the children a treat on New Year's Day. 

" Even should peace be declared and people allowed to go 
back to their homes, they will have no houses to live in and no 
food. The only consolation is that our future is in God's hands. 
I should be glad to see my children safe in the Colony, but 
prefer staying here myself to be a help to Mr. T. and to my 
fellow-suffering people. May the coming year bring us together 
again, to work with fresh courage. May we be enabled to sing 
'Peace on earth,' for now it is hell in South Africa, and oh, I 
can't stand it any longer. — With much love to all inquiring 
friends, your loving friend, C. T. 

"P.S. — Mrs. de L. and family have all had measles, and so 
has Mrs. du P. The latter has lost her dear little baby, with 
its pretty little dove's eyes. When whooping-cough and measles 
come together they can't pull through, and even when they get 
through the measles they seem to get a sort of consumption, 
which puts an end to their life. When you have once seen them 
cry, you can never forget their pitiful littie faces." 

A second letter says — 

"/an, 24. 

" There is no news here, only that the people all die of the 
fever. It is a wonder when one recovers, and such a one 
resembles a skeleton more than anything else." 


Another f)oint of view is presented by a young prisoner wh 
writes from his gaol, where he says he is allowed cigarettes, whib 
help pass the time, to Miss Martha Meyer, his cousin — 

" Centum, Gaol, Jan 
"My brother and sister are with Aunt Pretorius for tfad 
holidays. Poor little Lenie had a rough time of it with this WT 
She has faced what I have not, namely, a sword. I suppose 
I were to say much about the matter this letter would nev 
reach you. Lettie and Hattie came down to see us two weelb 
ago. We had a jolly time together. Aunt Engela is in th 
so-called Refugee Camp. They were well drenched through and 
through by a thunderstorm which passed over the unlucky prison 
carap. Their tent was blown all to pieces. She was captured 
after being shelled the whole day. Oh, Martha ! how can we 
forgive? ... I have not much to write abtmt, as the kx lod 
does not pennit the use of facts, but I have volumes to talk 
about . . ." 

A young girl with patriotic fervour still unquenched writes— m 

" HowicK Camp,/.!!*. ■ 
"We have just had a wire saying that my father and eldest 
brother (19 years) have been captured. It is difficult for me 
under the circumstances to write fully. But it is too painful even 
to think about, that after not having seen them for twenty months, 
now they have to be sent across the waters and we not evajj 
allowed to greet them. Do pray for my youngest brotha 
(17 years), who is still on commando, that he may not only ^3 
spared, but be also kept from taking any wrong step as repi^. 
surrendering. Mother and we two sisters are trying to make the 
best of this life in exile ; and only wish to be fully sanctified 
through this sore affliction. We do sometimes long so intensely 
to go back to our homes and be with our dear ones again ; but 
we do not wish to return if thereby our independence shall be 
forfeited, We women in the camp still keep up courage and are 
in no way desponding." 

The sickness described by Mrs. Dickenson at Merebank ana 
prophesied by the Ladies' Commission did not fail to gai^ 
ground. A woman experienced in camp life wrote thence on* 
January 7 — 

" At Howick, they say, the death-rate is slightly decreasing. 
Here I am afraid it is still on the increase. . . . Opposite ray 


• •• 

WOMEN IN 1902 299 

small canvas room I can see the workshop where the coffins are 
being made daily. It is too saddening to see the little coffins 
being carried out continually. Last night four little ones died in 
our immediate neighbourhood." 

From other parts, as January advanced, reassuring news began 
to arrive, and it was clear that improved conditions were bringing 
improved health. 

Rev, W, p. Rousseau, Pietermaritzburg, to Committee 

AT Amsterdam. 

"/^«, 8, 1902. 

"... I have great satisfaction in informing you that the 
mortality in the camps (in this country at least) has greatly 
decreased. There are but few sick here in the camp. Some 
are ill with enteric in hospital. At Howick also, where some time 
ago as many as four or five were buried in a day, it is much less 
now. The military always help with clothes, etc., but there are 
many complaints that the help is not timely and often not as was 
desired. In all urgent cases the Committee help." 

Again — 

Mr. W. F. Hollard to Committee at Amsterdam. 

*' Pretoria, fan, 9. 

" I have much pleasure in informing you that I have heard that 
the mortality in general, and in particular amongst the children, has 
greatly decreased as the hospital arrangements have been improved. 

" We have in most cases been able to provide the women and 
children with stretchers, so that they are no longer obliged to lie 
on the ground, and we were able to provide restoratives. I 
believe I need hardly remark that, notwithstanding all our efforts 
added to the important aid we have received from friends, such as 
you in Holland, Paris, Germany, etc. etc., want is still very great, 
which you will understand when I say that the camps are daily 
enlarged and still more women and children are brought in." 

With the decrease of sickness and death, the monotony and 
weariness of the life became more apparent. It pressed sadly 
upon the old, as appears from what is written to her daughter in 
Cape Town by an old Dutch lady — 

** VoLKSRusT, fan. 27, 1902. 

" I must do everything for myself and for . We can get 

no assistance. In our tents we sit on the bare ground. During 


continuous winds we are enveloped in a wliirlwind of black dusi 
and during the continuous rains we have now, it is a mess of mud. 
I cannot possibly describe our life in the tents and in the camp, 
but since the New Year it has proved too much for me ; with my 
last remaining strength I have also lost my courage- . . , 
may this sad war speedily draw to a close ! I am at this moment 

sitting in T 's tent, for she is lucky enough to have a table and 

a seat, which I have not. For night-table I have two boxes 
placed on the top of each other. My bed was only the frame of 

an iron bedstead laid on a couple of chests. B and the 

child slept for months on the bare ground, but now at last they 
have got an iron bedstead. You cannot possibly realise how we 
have suffered, at first from the cold and wet, and now from the 
heat and heavy thunderstorms. God alone knows what is still in 

store for us. T has been ill since the 5th of December, 

When the heat gets too great in her tent, she comes over to mine, 
for since my illness I have got an over-tent, as I could not stand 
the wet and the cold. It is not possible to write about everything 
as I should wish, for one does not know if the letters will be passed, 
if one gives too exact a description of our position. ... I could 
write no further, being over-tired, and I trembled so that writii^ 

was out of the question. B has been eight days 11 

hospital with enteric fever ; he is now getting better, but many 
have died from it, — Now I will tell you something about 

H 's wounds. One bullet entered his chin and stuck in his 

jaw. This had to be extracted. Another shot went dean through 
his knee. A third bullet passed over his foot through his big" toe. 
Besides, he has many small wounds about the face, probably from 
the bursting of a shell. We do not know where we shall see each 
other again. All we possessed has been destroyed and swept 
from the face of the earth. Send us some money, for without it 
we can get absolutely nothing. There are four of us, and these 
are our weekly rations : sufficient flour and rice, a little coffee^ 
scarcely any sugar, this lasts us about three days. Once a week 
we get some meat, mostly bones; and every fortnight every 
person a piece of soap the length of my hand to do all our 
washing with. On this we are supposed to keep alive and 

No time was lost by those who began to experience thsf 
improvements now really being effected in some camps, 
giving expression to their relief. The two next letters are full 
of appreciation. The first is from the clei^man's wife who had 
written so despondingly a few weeks previously — 

WOMEN IN 1902 301 

" Ladysmith Camp» Feh, 17, 1902. 

" I am happy to say your prayers for us are heard : sickness 
and death have decreased to a great extent in all the camps. 
We arrived here on the 8th ; about 900 of our camp have been 
removed to this place. It is so glorious to live in a house again. 
They are large iron buildings, lined with wood, boarded floors, 
and big windows, and though we are five or six families in one 
building, with only blankets for partition walls, still we consider it 
a great comfort compared to the horrid little round tents. 

" When we see the dust-storms and rain coming we need not 
run to fasten up our tents and fix down the pins, nor need we 
crawl on all-fours through the mud through the small openings 
of our tents in order to get backwards and forwards to our 
wooden kitchens. For the present we still cook outside here, but 
they intend giving us sheds later. . . . The water and bathrooms 
are near by. We also get our drinking water boiled in big tanks. 

" The meat is beautifully firesh, and we may buy v^etables 
and fruit. . . . Though our camp is closed, still we are allowed 
to go into town with passes three times a week. We have a nice 

comfortable hospital, good nurse, and old Dr. for camp 

doctor. So you see how much there is to be thankful for. . . . 
Lottie seems to feel the heat and the rough camp life i^ore than 
any of us. She is always complaining of weakness, and has grown 
thm. My brother-in-law has 
sent her journey money to Cape , " ^9 ^'^^ is allowed to leave who 

rrs i: i. i^'/l _*. 1 J "^ relatives still on commaDdo. — 

Town, but hitherto we could cd. 893, p. 108. 
not get her a pass. M. F. is in 

Winburg Camp, and has lost her four youngest children, including 
her only little girl ; she has only the two eldest living. Mr. P. T. 
is in Bloemfontein Camp, and has lost his wife and youngest 
child. He has three little children to care for with him, and only 
one hand to fulfil a mother's duties. The histories of some 
people are too sad to relate." 

From a Young Girl to a Former Teacher. 

" Tin To^;^, Ladysmith, Feb, 17. 

" You'll doubtless be surprised to see that we have again been 

" We arrived at this place on the 2nd of February. I suppose 
the whole of the Harrismith Camp is to be sent here, but as yet 
there are many of our friends there still. 

"We have certainly made a great change for the better, inas- 
much as we are now in nice comfortable houses, with decent 


windows and floors. One feels quite another b 
walk and sit straight again in a nice high room. 

" Some of the Harrismith townspeople have been sent h 
too. Here are quite a number of our old Seminary girls in cam] 
Bessie and Helena are both in Harrismith Hospital with feve 
The death-rate in that camp was fr^htful during the last mont 
of our stay there. - - . Five of us were confirmed the day befor 
we left the camp at Harrismith. There were more than f 
' catechisanten,' and so the little building used as a church bein 
too small, Ds. Theron had the service in the open air. 
certainly was the most imposing scene I had ever been prese 
at. It was a beautiful afternoon, and nearly the whole camp « 
assembled there. Mr. Theron said he thought it certainly w 
the first time since the days of the ' Voortrekkers ' that confimu 
lion was held in the open air. 

" It is with something of a shock that I realised I am real 
and truly eighteen years already, and oh ! how very far I am sti 
from that rung of the ladder where I've always determined t 
stand at that age. However, God knows ifs through no fault c 
mine. It is so very hard to understand why I should have 1: 
so completely checked in the course of my studies just when 
was all growing so immensely interesting. However, I have n 
at all given up hope yet, and am going to apply again. I suppoi 
you know that Lottie also wishes to go to Stellenbosch. Perh^ 
we may be allowed to go together. The last answer I had froi 
the ' Powers that be ' was that they have nothing against i 
going, but, only could not allow me to go at present. . , , You' 
answer me soon, won't you ? " 

From Miss Lottie Rossouw to a Friend. 

*' Refugbb Camp, Kkoonstao, Feb. 2. igoa, 
"A few weeks ago I received your kind letter and parce 
Mother is very glad to have the papers to read, for we get r 
reading of any kind unless it is an old newsjiaper. . . . I bs 
a disappointment about your letter ; when I had just opened it, 
whirlwind came through our tent and carried away the first ha 
and I have been unable to find it again, . . . We are all still i 
very good health and daily picking up lost strength. The hei 
is unlike anything we have ever felt even in Natal, and it : 
responsible for much of the illness and debility of the peopl 
We have been able to fare pretty well lately, for grandfather si 
us two laige cases of vegetables with a promise of more, and w 
shall soon be able to have potatoes and beans from papa's we 

WOMEN IN 1902 308 

garden. Our Choral Union has changed conductors, and last 
night we gave a very successful entertainment, which was 
thoroughly enjoyed by all, including several townspeople and 
the whole hospital staff not on duty. 

" I have not been teaching since the Christmas holidays, and 
I think several other teachers will have to leave now, because 
four or five teachers arrived from England yesterday to take 
charge of the Camp School. I am quite anxious to hear how 
they will get on with these children. One of our teachers is 
dangerously ill with enteric fever. . . . 

" Here there is hardly any grass and no flowers ; on all sides 
you have nothing but tents in long rows ; all is so monotonous 
and every street just like the other, strangers seldom find their 
way. The streets, and even the tents, are numbered, ours being 
E. i8 and 19, Section V. Some name their tents, and one of 
our neighbours called theirs Bellevue Tent, so Ella promptly 
christened ours Bell-Tent View ! 

" They have sisters and nurses now for the out-patients, and 
the hospital accommodation is very large. Altogether there 
have been various small improvements and some fresh restric- 
tions. Last Monday, two girls, sisters, were drowned whilst 
bathing, and now no one except grown-up men is allowed to 
bathe at all. This is very awkward, for very few people have 
baths, and the banks of the river being terribly steep it is no 
joke to carry up sufficient water for a bath. No bathing arrange- 
ment is made, and I pity too the women who have to do their 
washing outside in the sun, and carry the wet linen up the banks 
to dry. ..." 

A Colonial lady's picture of the improvements in Bethulie 
after Mr. Cole Bowen*s visit and reforms cannot fail to interest — 

"We visited Springfontein Camp on the 25th of February. 
The even streets, the clean tents, the whitewashed stones placed 
to mark different squares and streets, made the impression on the 
stranger of order and prosperity. Now I can understand how a 
stranger coming for a peep at the camps can leave well satisfied 
with all that is done in such a place for its inmates. He natur- 
ally does not see behind the scenes, the heartache, the oppression, 
the indignities often heaped upon these patient, silent Boers. 
On the 27 th we were in Bethulie, and during that and the 
following weeks saw something of what happens there in the 
camp with its 5,000 inmates. A pleasing sight was the soup- 
kitchen, with its rows of huge soup-pots. Mrs. Du Preez, the 
matron, told us that she received 150 lbs. of meat every day, and 

from that made soup for 3,000 persons. Every school-child W^ 
entitled to a cupful of soup with a little piece of meat in it. Tbi 
soups were as varied as possible from day to day. They wtt), 
busy erecting baking-ovens for people to bake their bread. TlA 
we believe, will save much labour and trouble. We went a 
different times to the so-called Orphanage. It broke my heart i 
see the state of those 40 children there ; the others at that titB 
were ill in hospital. Ill-kept, ill-clad, a disgrace to the Christian (( 
nation who will not let them be given over to us, who would t 
least treat them with love and pity. The hospitals are, I d 
Bs good as possible under such circumstances ; I am not able t 
say much about them. But the feeling is that if the people had beo 
properly fed there would have been much less need of such places 

Shortly before this Mrs. Dickenson had been writing froo 
Bethulie Camp — 

'"The Inspector of Burgher Camps, Mr. Bowen, has h^_ 
here for a fortnight, trying to ascertain the cause of the tenibl 
mortality in Bethulie Camp, On his arrival he at once dismissa 
the superintendent, who seemed to have been entirely unfittei 
for his position. In fact, I was told that his qualifications fi3 
the post consisted in being a great sportsman, and having he& 
the means of recovering some officer's valuable dog which hai 
been lost. He was supposed to live in the camp, but spent hi 
time at the hotel, while the 4,000 people under his charge diei 
by hundreds {1,200 in six or seven months). The overworkei 
doctors either fell ill, and sometimes died themselves, or resignej 
their hopeless task. The camp had every fault possible, Mfi 
Bowen told me — overcrowding, tents too near together, an^ 
never moved for months ; bad sanitary arrangements, insufficient 
water supply, and a poor, scanty dietary. Under his directiott 
^le tents are being spread out so as to cover a much larger areil 
on the new ground, the dietary is improved, and already the deaths 
rate is lowered. Epidemics of measles and whooping-cough arC, 
responsible for many deaths, but at present debility and atrophy 
among the mothers, and a sort of marasmus among the childrei% 
are what the doctors have to contend with. Some of the peopS 
are really mere skeletons. ' Only a course of port wine, jeliy, aiU 
change of air would be ordered for them,' as the superintended 
quietly remarked to me, ' were they in a position to get either. 
He says he has just obtained from the Government permission ttf 
allow tinned milk for young children, which has hitherto not best 
given except in case of sickness. 

" Bethulie, which has always been a most healthy little v 
' ExUocC from Advtrlistr ol South AostiBlia, 

WOMEN IN 1902 965 

has a good deal of enteric, — a disease unknown here before the 
war, — and this is the case all over the Orange River Colony. 
The cause is the contamination of water supplies by the presence 
of large bodies of troops, or tliose hotbeds of disease, the Concen- 
tration Camps. The thousands of slaughtered cattle lying all 
over the farms add to the insanitary condition of the country, 
and I strongly suspect that cholera will break out when the 
farms are again inhabited. 

" Of Bethulie, a Mr. Grant, of whom I asked the question, 
replied, * Undoubtedly their owners will be allowed to return to 
them, whether they are in Ceylon, St. Helena, or India. They 
will be sent back, and allowed to resume possession of their land. 
English law recognises the right of private individuals to their 
own property, even in a conquered country.' The first question I 
am asked by die women in the Concentration Camps is, * When will 
this terrible war be over, and we be able to return to our homes ? ' 

" I have met none of that belligerent spirit I was led to expect 
among them." 

Mrs. Dickenson informs me that a good deal of this letter 
was cut out before it reached the Australian Advertiser, 

She had mentioned that the sub-superintendent had been, 
getting tobacco from Government at is. 6d. and selling the same 
to the men in camp at 4s. per pound. Also that the people 
complained that their letters posted in camp were never received 
by their friends unless they were registered, and that people 
making complaints in letters were forbidden to write at all. 
These items the censor deemed dangerous to the military position 
if published in Australia, and they were suppressed. 

" I was about three weeks in Bethulie," continues Mrs. 
Dickenson, " and during that time " (after the reforms of the 
Inspector, Mr. Bowen) " the health of the people improved, and 
the death-rate lessened considerably. Speaking to the medical 
men and dispensers, they told me about September and October, 
when things were at their worst, the death-rate averaged about 
120 a week out of 4,000 people ! One day 27 funerals took place 
(they are always buried on the day of death). About August 
some very bad meat was sent into the camp, and the doctors 
condemned it as being the flesh of cattle that had died of disease. 
A dispenser told me it was full of yellowish spots. However, the 
meat was returned, and the superintendent was told that they 
must make it do. After this, dysentery and enteric broke out. 
When I was there, the deaths were mostly owing to debility and 
prostration. Children, who reminded one of the famine-stricken 



people of India, and who were gradually wasting away. Women, 
whose only chance would be sea air and a generous diet. But 
most of the patients had gone too far for any human aid." 

Mrs. De Wet, who had on previous occasions expostulated on 
our methods of treating a general's wife, now wTote direct to Mr. 
Brodrick. She had been supported in the town of Johannesburg 
without expense to the English Government, but when her 
husband did not surrender she was exiled to Natal, and placed 
in ihe camp at Pietermaritzburg, though able and willing to 
support herself elsewhere. 

"March 13, igoa. 

"Sir, — This is to acquaint you that I protest against the 
treatment accorded me by the British Government. 

" I was living m Johannesburg, in a comfortable house, at my 
own expense, and was deported from there against my expressed 
wish and inclination by order of the military authorities, July 26, 
1901, and put in the Concentration Camp here, into a canvas 
house consisting of two rooms, with my family, eight souls in all. 
One of the rooms had been occupied by an enteric patient until 
within a few days of ray arrival. The floors are so wet after heavy 
rains as to be positively unhealthy. 1 was told when I was sent 
from Johannesbui^ that a furnished house would be given me at 
Pietermaritzbuig, and that I and my family would be both well 
treated and provided for ; instead of which I was put into a two- 
roomed canvas house, without furniture or conveniences of any 
kind, not even a kitchen, so had to cook outside in all weathers, 
until friends kindly put up a verandah and shelter for me to cook 
in. The ordinary rations are served to me, 'upon which no one 
can live unless supplemented by vegetables, fruit, milk, butter, and 
eggs. The fuel allowed is insufl5cient to cook the food, the soap 
is also insufficient for washing and cleanliness, and three and a half 
candles per week are not enough to light one room, let alone more, 

"Shortly after my arrival here I applied to return to Johannes- 
burg, at my own expense. Reply received: 'Your husband is 
fighting.' I have made applications at different times to leave 
the camp and live elsewhere, but that has been denied me. I 
also asked the British Government to provide me with a furnished 
house and funds to live in Pietermaritzburg, as my application to 
go to Vredefort Weg was refused. On receiving answer from the 
authorities here that I was receiving the same good treatment in 
the camp as the other commandants' wives, my request for a 
furnished house in Pietermaritzburg could not be entertained, I 
then wrote to Lord Kitchener, asking him to allow me to leave 

WOMEN IN 1902 307 

the camp and to reside in Fietermaritzburg at my own expense. 
Up to the present time I have received no answer. 

" I fail to understand yrhere the good treatment comes in, as 
I have been treated with scant courtesy. The British have 
destroyed my home and property, placed me in a Concentration 
Camp in a shanty such as my servants on my farm would have 
scorned to occupy. 

" C. M. De Wet." 

The mental suffering of the people, all along more intense than "^ 
their physical sufferings, became more prominent as these last 
were alleviated. A lady who has laboured for months among the 
camps has entered fully into this, and her views are expressed in 
the following letter : — 

" She says that literally it is now a case of no money being 
spared to make the camp life as healthy as possible. But though 
now food and clothing are supplied, she says the deadly monotony 
of the life remains, and she thinks that now the suffering is more 
mental than physical, and that suffering she never can forget. . . . 
She thinks that many are so wretched, have suffered so much, 
and lost so many of their relatives, that when illness attacks them 
they make no great fight to live. Even many young girls die 
because they are broken-hearted at having lost their lovers. The 
little she said gave me a more awful impression of the substratum 
of agony on which these camps rest than anything else I have 
heard. A people are being tortured to death. Of course one 
knows it all, but the talk with her brought it all very vividly 
before one. . . . The women are convinced that their cause 
will ultimately triumph. She says she tells them that if the camps 
were to last ten years longer England will continue the war for 
that length of time, so that to continue to fight is absolutely 
useless as far as the Republicans are concerned. She assures 
them that they will never get back their country. But the suffer- 
ing and agony weigh her down, and her eyes are always full of 
tears, as it were, and she looks as if they had shed floods of tears. 
It is awful to meet so compassionate a woman and to find her at 
bottom determined on victory for her country, whatever it may 
cost to those who are to be conquered." 

The following little note from a minister, with its application 
for books, gives a timely hint of the large sums that will be 
required to replace the endless losses of so many families — 
things which the Government fund is not likely to provide. 
Every household article, from a saucepan to a piano, will be 
lacking : — 


From Rkv. C. G. Jocste. 

"Bkandkort Camp, Aprils, 1902, 

" Send me, if you please, three Dutch Bibles and three hynu 
books. They must not be very dear, nor very laige, but ^ 
usual convenient size. They are for old people in the Refugi 
Camp who have lost almost everything. Elderly people who a 
more than 5o or 70 years of age, so that a good clear print : 
needed. The hymn-books as soon as possible, with full note 
that is, with notes to each verse. The people are so poor in ll 
camp, they have lost so much, that it would be difficult for tJ 
to pay anything out even for books. Our Colonial people 
the camp may be assured that they are really needed. They a 
so very poor here, but they must at least have Bibles. May til 
Lord bless us in this work. I have written to Dominie Mai 
guard about these books, but have not yet heard from him. 
must have these books for the camp." 

The improvements are nowhere more gladly recognised thi 
by the President's wife, who had suffered deeply in sympathy 
her people. Mrs. Steyn writes to Lady Farrer — 

" BloEMFONTBIN, March 3, 1902. 

"You will no doubt be surprised to hear from roe, but a 
you are Treasurer of the ' Women and Children's Distress Fund, 
and one who has done so much for our women and children, \ 
feel as if I would like to write and tell you how our hearts haw 
been gladdened lately by the very marked improvement whid 
has taken place in the different camps. 

" I will, of course, write more particularly about the one her& 
as I am in a position to judge a little for myself. In Decembei 
I was as a favour allowed to drive out to visit the camp hospitalj 
and the sight was indeed most touching. To see ward after w 
crowded with sick women and children could not but make on$ 
feel very sad. i went from bed to bed, spoke a few words to 
those who were well enough, and they all seemed delighted to 
see me. 

"One woman in particular, a wealthy farmer's wife, and a 
very good creature, I found very, very ill; her big strappi 
daughter of about nineteen stood beside the bed. I said to her. 
'Whisper to your mother, "Mrs. Steyn is here."' Thegirldid 
the poor woman opened her eyes, stretched out her band for 
mine, pressed it to her heart for some minutes, and all she could 

WOMEN IN 1902 809 

say was : * Thank you, thank you.' My eyes were dim with tears. 
I turned and left the bedside, with the fervent prayer that God 
would restore her to health — but — both she and her daughter 
are * no more.' It was an afternoon of many touching incidents, 
and I shall never forget it. 

" The wards, I must confess, looked very neat, and the patients 
clean and comfortable, and I could not understand why our 
women, one and all, so strongly objected to the hospitals, when 
to my mind they were infinitely preferable to the hot tents. On 
inquiry afterwards, I found the food, and in many cases the young 
inexperienced nurses taken to assist the trained nurses, were the 
great objections. Just passing through the hospital, it was difl5- 
cult for me to judge about these matters. The death-rate at that 
time was high, and I felt very cast down. I knew, however, that 
the authorities were doing everything in their power to improve 
things, and that was a great comfort. In January the soup 
kitchens were started, better meat was supplied, the rations in- 
creased, and in addition a fair amount of vegetables allowed for 
each family. We had lovely rains, cooler weather set in, and in 
a marvellously short time the improvement was so great it seemed 
almost incredible. The health of the camp improved with rapid 
strides, and the death-rate decreased accordingly, so that just 
lately for four days the mortuary was empty. 

" You may imagine how great our rejoicings were, and how 
many prayers of thanksgiving were offered up to God. 

" Only this morning I had a woman with me, an old inhabit- 
ant of the camp, she had lost two children last year, and once 
before called to see me ; wept so bitterly then, and said : * Oh, 
Mrs. Steyn, how I hate the hospital, and how hard it is to have 
our loved ones taken to it ! ' Last month her only surviving 
child took ill, and soon after herself also. She begged not to 
have either of them removed, but the doctor spoke kindly, and at 
last she consented. Her words to me were : * Mrs. Steyn, I am 
so thankful I went, both my child and self recovered in no time. 
We were treated very well, had plenty of good food, and the 
improvement in the hospital is very great.' She spoke so nicely, 
and I most earnestly hope the improvement may continue; I 
have such confidence myself that it will. 

"You must understand, to very many of our people, even 
under the most favourable circumstances, the life in a camp 
and a tent is a hard one ; but they are all more satisfied and 
contented with their treatment, and that is a very great comfort 
to me. I daresay you will have heard that I was all packed and 
ready to leave for Europe in November, and at the eleventh hour 



my departure was cancelled. It was a terrible thought to me 
to have to leave South Africa while my husband was still 
exposed to so many dangers, and I was delighted when unfore- 
seen circumstances arose which prevented my departure. 

" Mrs, Blignaut, though not visiting the camp, still does a 
great deal for our people, and is often kept very busy. We 
gratefully remember our kind friends, and will always deeply 
appreciate what is being done for us . . ," 

Letter from Mrs. Geldenhuis to Mvself. 

"Blokmfontbin Camp, Afrilii, 190a, 

" I am glad to say, through the merciful grace of Providence, 
myself and mine have so far been all spared, all enjoying 
fairly good health. My little Sarah has been in hospital 
some time, but is quite well again, and has grown to quite a 
big young lady since you saw her. 

" Our life in camp has greatly improved of late. Medical 
arrangements too are on a far better scale than some time 
back. Our hospitals are almost empty ; last month there were 
only z8 deaths, while this month up to date only three, 

" I am sorry to say, after you left, for some or other small 
reason, I was placed in the prisoners' camp, where I had 
been, so to say, forgotten by every one outside. I cannot now 
give you full details of how I have been kept in the dark. 

" I am making up a httle parcel of curios I intend to 
send you with a friend of mine. Hoping the time is near 
when we can correspond more freely," 

Quite recently a friend of mine sent to the Nev) Age these 
few lines, the substance of her conversation with a Dutch woman, 
a relative of General De la Rey — 

" April 21}, 190a. 

"My acquaintance with their language, and expressions of 
sympathy for the sufferings of the women in the camps, soon 
gained their confidence. The principal speaker was a very tall, 
finely-built woman, with eyes that were capable of a great variety 
of expression ; generally they were only half opened, while the 
speaker's soul veiled itself under an appearance of calm and 
indifference — very typical of this land of peace and basking 
sunshine and violent and tremendous storm. I inquired as to 
whether there was an improvement in the general condition of 
things in the camp she had just come from. Most assuredly 
there was — the food was better, the aged and infirm and delicate 
were dead. She attributed the terribly high death-rate of the 

WOMEN IN 1902 811 

past to the way in which the people had been dragged from their 
homes, and exposed without food or shelter to the inclement 
weather. On arrival there was, as a rule, neither shelter nor 
food, and the continued exposure and exhaustion led to severe 
outbreaks of sickness, with the result that numbers died. * Are 
the women losing heart? — are they willing that their husbands 
should surrender ? ' I asked. A light spread over her face, and 
welled up in her eyes, as she said : * There are some Afrikanders 
— ^hounck I call them — that have given in; but there are 
numbers of women in our camp that will never give in; that 
will never bid their husbands give in. I say my husband must 
fight to the last ; if only two men are left, he must fight on ; if 
he is left alone, while he can hold a gun he must fight on. It 
is a sore thing to part with your husband — to know that he is 
fighting ; but I would rather he lay dead on the battle-field than 
gave in.' * And what about the women themselves — about their 
sufferings ? ' I asked. She threw back her fine head and said : * I 
have never had anything the matter with me ; the harder I get 
it, the stronger I seem to get — strength comes as you need it. 
It is true I have seen whole families die out in camp; but 
there are also others who have lost none, who are still all 
together. But if I die — I die — it matters not; never, never 
will I give in. It is my light,' she continued, * that every one 
must do what they can for their own land. I cannot do other- 
wise. I cannot understand those who do give in. I do not hate 
the British. I have no hate in my heart, but I can never forget 
nor forgive what we have gone through. We have had it too 
bitter. We have suffered too much — too many have died — too 
many tears have been shed. I can't cry any more — there are no 
more tears left in me. I have to laugh sometimes. There is no 
one to help us, so we have to keep each other's spirits up. But 
the poor " Tommies," ' she went on — * I will always do all I can 
for a Tommy. They get it too bitter — they get it as we do. It 
was awful to see them when they first came into our town. They 
were starving. They crowded round our ovens when the bread 
came out, to get a morsel. They ate all the green fruit off the 
trees. One poor " Tommy " was found dead at his post. His 
body was opened — he had filled himself with green mealies.' I 
asked whether the negotiations that were going on would lead 
to peace. She replied : * There will be no peace unless we get 
what we want — unless we get what is right.' Then the same 
strange, beautiful light again spread over her face, and filled her 
eyes, as she said : ' We may get it still more bitter, still more 
hard ; I may be without a petticoat at last. But if everything is 

gone — that day that we get our independence I will dance and 
play like a little child.' " 

Nothing can more fitly close this slight outline of the tale of 
the women's sufferings than the passages which follow, culled 
from the Report of General J. C. Smuts, late State Attorney' — 

"Never can pen describe what the heroines of our people 
have suffered and endured since the spring of 1900. Fleeing 
before the enemy into the woods and mountains of Rustenburg, 
Waterburg, Lou^ansburg, Lydenburg, Swaziland, and Zululand, 
where skeletons now cry to Heaven against the barbarous KafGr 
. , . hiding with their little ones knee-deep in water in the reeds 
of Schoonspruit and Mooi River, where they were fired at by 
the enemy with Lee-Metfords and Maxims and driven into 
towns ; then after months of useless fleeing dumped at last 
into the prison camps of the enemy, where, sick unto death 
themselves, they saw their children buried, and where they 
went hungry because they could not eat the had meat and the 
still worse meal, and had no firewood for cooking — week after 
week, month after month, year after year, they sit meditating 
and longing and brooding over their husbands and sons who 
have perhaps already been shot. Has such a picture of suffering 
ever been unfolded to the world before ? The life of the man on 
the veld, although hard, is comfortable compared with the slow 
death of their imprisoned loved ones. 

" And still the women keep up marvellously ; nearly all the 
letters which are smuggled out of these prison camps encourage 
the men to hold out to the death and never to bring shame on 
their name and family by surrender. ... I do not beheve that 
there was ever a more noble spectacle among men, and one 
of which humanity may more rightly be proud, than that of 
the Boer wife. Her quiet suffering points out the way to our 
independence ; her noble and heroic character is the guarantee 
for the greatness of our future." 

The terms signed on the ist of June will not alter or quench 
this fine spirit. The question remains : Will it, under the guid- 
ance of a wise and understanding statesmanship, be incorporated 
with the best English feeling, or will it smoulder beneath repres- 
sion, petty tyranny, and narrow intolerance till it kindle anew 
the abandoned resistance of the men ? 

It is there, and it is a factor to be dealt with in the problem 
J of the South African future. 

' New Hepuri of GenerjJ J. C. Smuts lo I' 


*' The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away : blessed be the name 
of the Lord."— JOB i. 22. 

TO draw in outline the character and disposition of the Boer 
women would have been comparatively easy, if they had 
not been so systematically reviled. Imputations made 
in heated moments have come to be widely believed, and must 
be stripped off to judge them impartially. The Boers themselves, \ 
formerly brutal brigands, marauders, robbers, murderers, and 
rebels, are now better understood as brave and gallant men, . 
dignified and sensible, with very proper views of self-defence. 
It may be found that their wives, those dirty, lazy, lying women, 
so heedless of their children as to neglect or even to poison them 
deliberately, are after all a civilised, industrious set of people, as } 
truthful as the rest of the world, and capable of bringing up large/ 
families with love and care. It may come to be acknowledged! 
that they are more than this ; that they are capable of unflinching! ; 
loyalty at whatever personal cost; that they understand selft" 
restraint, endurance, and other fine qualities which belong toil 
high breeding. 

To stigmatise them as dirty, is both unfair and untrue. It 
is unfair, because we had placed them in conditions where all the 
things that go to help cleanliness were scarce or altogether 
lacking. Water, soap, towels, brooms, utensils, all were hard to 
obtain or unobtainable in camp. For many months there was 
no soap at ally except what the women made from the fat of their 
rations. It is imtrue, because, in spite of these drawbacks, the 
bulk of the women were quite wonderfully neat and clean. I 
remember Mr. Selous, who perhaps knows the Boer people more 
intimately than any other Englishman, telling me that he did not 
consider them a dirty people in normal times. He has stayed 
with them on their farms continually during many years. Two 

doctors who have worked in the late Free State, one for twenty, 


the other for ten years, both supported this view, the older man 
saying he thought it would be hard lo find a cleaner community. 
Probably the back veld Transvaalers ranked lower in this respect. 
In the abnormal circumstances in which they were living, their 
cleanliness was striking. There were in each camp, as would be 
found in every town of equal size in all countries, a few thriftless 
and dirty families. These have been quoted as if their habits 
were universal. 

This view is endorsed by Mrs. Dickenson, who has been 
already quoted. She remarks — 

" Having last year stayed at farms and visited others occupied 
by Cape Colonial Dutch, I was able to judge of the way they 
lived, and their habits and modes of thought. In the first plac^ 
I am often asked, 'Are they not so extremely dirty, that sitting 
in a tent with them would be most unpleasant?' To this I can 
certainly emphatically answer, ' No ; they are as dean as any 
average Australian or English working-woman would be under 
the same circumstances.' There are, of course, great differences 
in education and position among the families in the various 
camps. From the back veld Boer, who is really a peasant 
farmer, to the wealthy inhabitant of the luxurious and beautiful 
homes in Pretoria, there is a great gulf. Of course, it is the 
actual Boer of the remote country districts of whom it has been 
said that the mortality amongst their children is caused by their 
dirty habits. All I can say is, that had their tents been infested 
with insect life, I should certainly have carried away some 
specimens, as I have often done in visitbg cottages in England I " 

The Boer view of English cleanliness would be dangerous to 
depict. Their horror at the frightful sanitary arrangements of 
many of the camps, and at the ill-kept condition of latrines in 
other camps, was very real. Above all did they shrink from the 
habit which frequently prevailed, of packing men, women, and 
children into trucks and carriages, and absolutely forbidding them 
to leave these^/- any purpose whatever. 

Of the carelessness of their children of which they are accused, 
I saw nothing, for there was no sign of it. The accusation 
resolves itself into this, that, mother-like, they thought they knew 
and understood better how to deal with their children than 
strangers, who for long months had but the very roughest hospitals, 
doctoring, and nursing to offer in place of the mother's care. 

The preliminary state of those hospitals and that nursing 
was such as wholly to justify the people in retaining their sick. 
They had no right to send their little ones where the wants they 
expressed could not even be understood. With the 


ment of the hospitals and staff, and the certainty that their sick 
would have personal attention, the objection to the hospitals 
gradually waned. It was fatal to their success that many nurses, 
generally half trained, were deliberately chosen from the political 
enemies of the people, and supplemented by wholly untrained 
Boer girls, most of whom were drawn from the surrendered and 
distrusted class amongst themselves. Had the authorities been i 
able to take a large view of the situation, and to be guided by ! 
common sense and humanity only, instead of politics, these : 
added difficulties need never have arisen. Lord Milner has \ 
complained of the want of personnel. Of this there was never \ 
any lack. What he meant was oi political personnel. Abimdant J 
persons were forthcoming who would voluntarily have nursed 
in, and re-organised the camps, and have stemmed the great tide 
of distress; but they were refused. Kindness was what was i 
wanted. Every one was too ill to care for politics. Such kind- \ 
ness, given unstintingly by people who had a wider grasp than j 
that possessed by half-educated loyalist refugees, of the real j 
breadth of English generosity and humanity, would have had an j 
indirect but wholesome political effect. 

It would be hard to find a people more true or more reliable 
in their dealings with those who have won their respect and 
their trust. But it must first be won. Towards all others they 
maintain an attitude of uncertainty and suspicion. Lately their 
position was fraught with difficulty, for they were made rebels in 
their own country. Unfortunately, those with whom English 
officials were mostly brought in contact, were those weaker ) 
vessels, the surrendered burghers, who generally obtained the 
plums of the camps, in the shape of paid employments. Men 
who are untrue to their own kith and kin, as some of these had 
been, are likely to be found untrue also in other relations of 

Stripping off these and other accusations, and approaching 
the Boer women with unbiassed mind, we find a very simple 
wonianhood, calm and composed in manner, but always brimming ^ 
over with hospitable impulses. They possess shrewdness and 
mother-wit in abundance, and they are wrapped in suspicion 
like a coat of mail. Once succeed in piercing that armour, and 
the trustfulness below is complete as a child's. Betray that 
trust, and it will never be forgotten; win it, and you will be 
accepted and confided in as a fiiend. The women have a natural 
and homely dignity, which becomes them well, and commands 
respect Beneath all, one is conscious of underlying depths 
stored with reserved power, which will one day express itself in 



various ways. In these dark days that reserve has been 
largely drawn upon to furnish endurance for their own trials, and 
endless encouragement for their men in the field. Now and 
again strange flashes light up the calm, unruffled surface, and 
reveal those hidden depths with their reserve of unknown power. 
They love their country passionately. 

Of their conduct smce they have been massed together in 

camps or scattered in exile over many lands, it is difficult to 

speak, for there is no comparison at hand to help in forming 

a judgment. Their experience is unique. Never before has 

' the entire womanhood of a wRire" naiton been uprooted and 

I placed in circumstances of such difficulty. We do not know 

\ how we should have stood the test of such a trial. We can 

only ask in what spirit and temper it is borne by them, and 

what its effect upon their character. Should not a nation be 

judged by its best rather than by its worst ? Because the few 

have been outspoken and bitter ; because the few have been 

dirty, thriftless, or unruly, therefore the whole people have been 

libelled. The great mass have borne their unprecendented 

trials with a silent heroism which has astonished many who have 

witnessed it Two things have united to produce this endurance. 

First, the depth of their religious feeling, which took all as from 

a Higher Power, refusing to blame the human instrument ; and 

secondly, that proper pride which forbade any exhibition of 

feeling before their enemy. Thus, often they welcomed with 

hymns of praise every opportunity of suffering for their country, 

' Their quiet endurance is an intimation of strength of character 

I and resolution with which we shall have to reckon. 

" The people do not complain," " There are no complaints," 
" They are satisfied and happy," ate remarks reiterated from the 
camps. It was often just there where no complaint issued that 
the suffering was keenest. Endurance, theirs by inheritance, 
developed with the demand made upon it, and theu' idealism 
increased under the influence of an enforced detachment from 
all material advantages. Their minds were set free to dwell upon 
the spiritual and immaterial, and centred upon the longing for 
'. freedom, independence, and the right of self-development. In a. 
very practical way they had teamt that life consisteth not in the 
abundance of the things possessed. The effect of their attitude 
was to nerve their men to greater efforts. De Wet told a lady 
now in exile, that where ten men had encouraged him by their 
conduct, twenty-five women had done so. 

It will probably be found when the women come to speak 
or write their own tale of the camps, and never yet have 


we heard their side, that harder to them than the physical suffer- 
ing were the punishments and political treatment meted out to '^ 
them. Official curtness and rudeness, borne outwardly in silence, 
was resented inwardly by women of good positions. Punishments 
were inflicted, without due investigation, on the accusation of some 
ignorant or embittered spy ; women of high character were shut 
into wired-enclosed prisons for trivial or imagined offences; 
solitary guard-tents, denied passes, docked rations, all kinds of 
irritating and humiliating treatment, reserved chiefly for the 
women who were regarded as rebels, because husband or son was 
on commando. This was the sole reason advanced in numerous 
cases for refusal to such women to leave the imhealthy camps and . 
maintain themselves elsewhere. This policy accentuated resist- '. 
ance and created an abhorrence of English rule, which wiser ( 
methods might have obviated. >• 

To Mr. E. B. Sargant the country owes its gratitude for 
creating what has been the redeeming feature of camp life — the 
schools — where already many children have learnt a higher side of v ■ 
English character and thought than that which the war seemed to 
have taught them. Much, very much, may develop from the be- 
ginning made in these camp schools. 

It is true that some of the people have sunk; the more 
ignorant, deprived of all those outward trappings which help to 
maintain self-respect, even of sufficient clothing, abandoned hope 
and courage, and fell an easy prey to the peculiar temptations of 
the life. 

There have been many dark spots in the fate that has befallen 
some of the women during the two years and eight months of the 
war, barely touched upon in these pages, because not yet investi- 
gated, but which would look black even against the sombre back- 
ground of this book. Maybe such things occur in every war. If ^ 
that is so, there is all the stronger reason for abolishing war, and > -^ 
adopting International Arbitration. 

As a whole, the great body of Boer women have come finely 
out of the ordeal to which we have subjected them. But that is 
no justification of their having been so subjected. Never before 
have Yioms^xi aud.jchildrfiQ. bem. jso warred against England, by 
the hands of Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, adopted the 
policy of Spain, while improving upon her methods. She has 
placed her seal upon an odious system. Is it to be a precedent 
for future wars, or is it to be denounced not merely by one party, \ 
but by every humane person of every creed and every tongue, ; 
denounced as a * method of barbarism ' which must never be re- j 
sorted to again — the whole cruel sequence of the burning, the ' 


eviction, the rendering destitute, the deporting, and finally the n 
concentrating of the non-combatants of the country, with DO 
previous preparation for their sustenance? 

It ought to become a fixed principle with the English people' 
that no General acting in their name should ever again resort 
to measures of such a nature. " It is a question," wrote Lord 
Ripon.i " of the fair fame of our country, and of the reputation for 
manliness, to say nothing of chivalry of our people ... for thcf 
system no condemnation is too strong. It is cruel in t he present ^ 
and inconceivably foolish in regard to the fuliife-" 
allow if to continue, the full responsibility will be ours. One 
strong word from the British people will sweep the whole thing 
away, Have we the courage to speak it ? " 

But the British people had not the courage to speak that! 
noble word. The camps went on and the graves filled till 16,004 
children ^ perished, and over 4000 adults. These are official 
figures, and they do not account for all. 

Now the time is drawing near when these women shall gradu- 
ally be released and drafted back to their desolate homes. The 
three millions provided under the terms of settlement may give 
them shelter and some stock, and implements of labour, but hoW 
far will that go? That sum cannot cover the great extent of tho 
loss, which the Generals estimate at 50 millions. Each house w'" 
be empty of furniture. One way of confessing the great mistake 
that we have made is humbly to help them to begin their simple 
lives again. Thank-offerings that the war is over, and peaco- 
offerings too, can be fitly made for this object. It will take many 
thousands of such offerings to meet the needs of a homeless and 
ruined people. " We are paupers now, and it is terrible," 
one woman ; and another, " Can you form an idea of what it is tS 
have nothing — literally nothing V 

' 7l'm«, June 19, 1901.' 

' Up to twelve years in the Transvaal, and up to fifteen years 11 

N.B. — Any profits arising from tht sale of this book will ^ 
the "Jit-furnishing Fund" for Beer Homes. 
Talloikss, Juiu I, 1902. 




Undated, but before January i6, 1901. Handed to me in 
the office at Bloemfontein. 



* lb. Fresh Meat. 

^ lb. Fresh Meat 

\ lb. either Meal, Rice, Samp, \ lb. either Meal, Rice, or 

or Potatoes. Samp, 

i^ oz. Coffee. \ oz. Coffee. 

3 oz. Sugar. i oz. Sugar. 

I oz. Salt. I oz. Salt, 

y^ tin of Condensed Milk. ^ tin of Condensed Milk. 


Assistant Prcvost^Marshal^ 
O. R.C 





" Economy is as essential in the management of your camp as the welfare 
of your charges. " ' 


L. of C. No. 129. 

By Lieut.-General Sir A. Hunter, K.C.B., D.S.O., Commanding 
L. of C. from Norval's Pont to Wolverhoek. 

Blobmfontbin, Wednesday i January 16, 1901. 


Adults, and Children over Six Years of age. 


Flour or Meal 
Meat . 
Coffee . 
Sugar . 

Families who have Members 
on Commando, 

I lb. daily. Mealie Meal 3 lb. daily. 

J lb. „ Meat . i lb. twice weekly. 

1 oz. 

2 oz. 




Salt . 

1 oz. daily. 

2 oz. 




Children under Six Years of age. 

Flour or Meal 

. \ lb. daily. 


. \ lb. daily. 

Meat . 

^Ib. „ 


. \ lb. twice weekly. 

Milk . 

. \ tm „ 


. \ tin daily. 

Sugar . 

I oz. „ 


. I oz. „ 

Salt . 


. ^ oz. „ 

Salt . 
1 » 

. jf oz. „ 

^ Cd. 819, p. 9, General Instructions. 



March 8, 1901. 

To ALL White Refugees. 

\ lb. Fresh Meat (or tinned when fresh unobtainable), 
f lb. either Meal or Rice, Samp or Potatoes, upon due 

notice being given. 
I oz. Coffee. 

1 oz. Salt. 

2 oz. Sugar. 

Y^ part of tin of Condensed Milk. 


This scale continued till September, when \ lb. Rice daily 
was added, oh the recommendation of the Ladies' Commission. 


January 1902. 

Children of Five Years and under. 

44.7 oz. Meal. \ oz. Coffee. 

44.7 oz. Oatmeal or Rolled 2 oz. Sugar (white). 

Oats. \ oz. Salt. 

44.7 oz. Rice and Maizena. 1.7 tin Jam. 

2.7 tin Milk (Condensed). 1.7 of i oz. Lime Juice. 

In addition, one plate of Soup (of Meat, V^etables, and 
Pearl Barley) per head per diem to all children. 

» Cd. 819, p. 37. 
' Cd. 934, p. 98. 




I lb. Meat, 
f lb. Meal. 

1 oz. Coffee. 

2 oz. Sugar. 
I oz. Salt. 

^\ tin Milk (Condensed). 

I oz. Butterine per diem. 
I lb. Rice per week. 
4 oz. Lime Juice per week. 
I lb. Jam per fortnight. 
Fresh Vegetables, as obtain- 




7 lb. Meal or Flour weekly. 
I lb. Meat twice a week. 
4 oz. Salt weekly. 
6 oz. Coffee 
12 oz. Sugar 



Pretoria, December i, 1900. 


7 lb. Flour weekly. 
No Meat 

4 oz. Salt weekly. 
4 oz. Coffee 

8 oz. Sugar 

Refugee Children under 

3^ lb. Meal or Flour weekly. 
J lb. Meat twice a week. 

2 oz. Salt weekly. 

3 oz. Coffee „ 
12 oz. Sugar „ 

Undesirable Children under 

3^ lb. Meal or Flour weekly. 

No Meat, 
2 oz. Salt weekly. 
2 oz. Coffee „ 
8 oz. Sugar „ 


Scale raised,^ February 27, 1901. All indigent Refugees to 
receive, in future, Meat rations, in terms of Class I. 

^ Cd. 819, p. 21. 
» Cd. 819, p. 21. 



January 13, 1902, after Visit of Commission. 
Children under Two Years. Weekly. 

14 quarts Milk. 2 oz. Salt. 

2^ lb. Flour or Boer Meal. 8 oz. Soap. 

6 oz. Sugar. Soup and Vegetables as sup- 

6 oz. Syrup. plied by Matron. 

4 oz. Butter. 

Children over Two and under Five Years.^ 


14 quarts Milk. 4 oz. Butter. 

6 oz. Syrup. 2 oz. Salt. 

3^ lb. Flour, Boer Meal, or 8 oz. Soap. 

Oatmeal. 2 lb. Meat and Soup. 

6 oz. Sugar. 

Children over Five and under Twelve Years. 


7 quarts Milk. 4 oz. Salt. 

5 lb. Flour, Boer Meal, or Oat- 4 oz. Butter. 

meal. 4 oz. Coffee, 

6 oz. Sugar. 3 lb. Meat. 
6 oz. Syrup. 8 oz. Soap. 

8 oz. Rice, Beans, or Samp. 24 oz. Vegetables. 

» Cd. 934 (1902), p. 96. 
* Cd. 934 (1902), p. 96. 




7 lb. Hour or Boer Meal. 
12 oz. Sugar. 
7 oz. Coffee. 
4 lb. Meat. 
4 oz. Salt. 

I tin Milk. 
8 oz. Soap. 

I lb. Samp, Rice, or Beans. 
24 oz. Vegetables. 

I am indebted to Mr. Alfred Marks for the subjoined Table, 
in which he has worked out the cost of food per head per diem 
in the year 1901. 

I may add that in the camps with which I was familiar, the 
supply often came short of the notified allowance. Mafeking 
stood alone at the date of my visit in having a more generous 
scale than other camps. 


For the months of May, June, July, October, and November 
1901, calculated from the Government Returns (these are 
the only months for which full data for each Camp are 
given). The cost of " Rations Issued " is alone taken, all 
other charges, " Medical Comforts, Wages, Clothing," etc., 
are excluded. 

For the Transvaal Camps, generally, the figures given in the 
Returns (including all charges) are as follows ; the corrected 
figures (excluding all but rations) are given where data exist. 
All sums are stated in pence : — 


Figures of 






















• • « 

• ■ • 

• • « 











Balmoral . 
Barberton . 
Johannesburg Town 
Do. Camp 

Mafeking . 
Volksrust . 
Vryheid . 
Waterval, North 
Vryburg . 
V. D. Hoven's Drift 
Pretoria Relief 



• • • 




• • • 


• • • 





I. SO 





I. SO 


4. IS 




• • • 

































1. 16 






1. 81 













• • • 

• • • 


• • • 

• • « 

• • • 

• • • 


• • • 

• • • 





* May 4, 4.37d. Excluding a sum wrongly brought into the Barberton 
account for this month (Cd. 819, p. 175) the amount is 4.ood. The corre- 
sponding correction is made in ** Corrected Figures,'* and in the Barberton 

^ The lowest amount to be found in the Table is that for Klerksdorp for 
June, viz. o.34d. The cost of the ration at Port Elizabeth has been 13. Sod. 
(is. ijd.). 







1901 9.00 pence. 





Cd. 819, p. 36. For food only by contract, 
p. 109.^ 
p. 211. 


„ p. 294. 

Cd. 853, p. 20. 

„ p. 127. 

Cd. 934, p. 36. 

Cd. 936, p. 5. 

No definite statement. 

March 1901 
December „ 


8.71 pence. Cd. 819, p. 40. 
5-57 » Cd. 902, p. 129. 

Apparently for food only. 
For food only. 


March 1901 13.50 pence. Cd. 819, p. 42. For food only. 

This camp has been spoken of by Mrs. Fawcett as "a show camp.^ 



In these Tables, wherever practicable, the mean population 
has been taken. Therefore the population at the end of the 
month will not be found in agreement with that on which the 
death-rate is calculated. Summary I. shows the actual popula- 
tion; Summaries II. and III. the mean, when this could be 
ascertained. No two persons working on the returns would bring 
out precisely the same results ; but, as near as possible, this is 
a correct presentation of the facts, so far as revealed. The 
references cited make it easy to consult the returns. To get 
the mean, the population is taken on the first of the month, 
adding half the arrivals and births, and deducting half the 
departures. For the sake of clearness the rates are stated in 
dark figures. 

Summary III. and Table I. relate to children's deaths. 
The highest general death-rate for children is in the O. R. C. 
Camps. The highest single rate for children for one month is 
that at Brandfort, in October, 1891, of 1,951 per thousand per 

There is grave reason to fear that many more deaths have 
taken place than appear in these official returns. 







M M d 


: N M M 









■^vO ■^^O »0 ^ t^ 

00 *o 



O N 0\\r%\r%\r%f^ ^ t^ rf- *•* O 
1.4 M to fovo t-i i-i to ro W 













O 00 O »^ »^ O^vO •-< o 
: -^ fo »o<b t^vo "2 w ^ 
: « tot>.o ^fovo »oo 

\0 C< 



w o »ooo •-« »o 

vo ^ W Q t^ W 

vo »nM '5-00 "-I 

•% •» M •% «« m 

« t^ vo 00 »>• t>. 

Q H4 IM N4 »4 N4 

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o , ^ 

« O »o rooo O 
^^ *>• OnOO t^oo 

VO ^ 









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«\ tf^ «« •« ^ ^ M 

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fN too* 
M Ni4 IM 



ro ■^ONNNVOfO"^ 

VO ON^Mr«^Oobto 

"^: :voooo»oroot>» 

•-I •-«r«^«'!l-ii^toro 

•-» fOro -^ ^ -^ -^ -^ 

O fO 


On O^ O^ 

Q ■* r** toi^ 
O «-" O N VO 






tON 1 



OvvO ■^ to ro b* ro Ov 




«S Wk «s 

^ ^ m m^ mi. 



rot** tON 

lo to ro N •-» 





ro ■^vo VO VO VO VO VO 




«S 2 o ^ 

-"^ J- ^ 



g «.5 S.rt'g-l^^g-tS o 5 

















Ski < 

^ O 


c ^ 

< o 

Q o 

< w 






o ti o o 

O M 


_rt o <y o 


'^ '^ .2 • 
^ etf o <»^ 

•i E to* «^ ^ 

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c3 2 «^ »-' 1) 

-3 S S 9 w 

p z: > o 

S '=' S 

rt r! ^. 




0) O 


*^ -» C ^ 

-J «* cJ O 

<J Ci ITS "-a 

4-> •«-> «• O 











*^ W N cow W 

fO O N ^ Qn*0 
iH C4 00 VO OQO 
N 00 ^00 •-« 0\ 

^ •« ^ «k •% •% 

N r^ •-• w •H 

O O '-' "^ >^ 


00 •-' 





09 o o n 9 lo do 00 

\0 TfvO u^ ^ *>• 

00 tn 

9 C 

00 •-• ro»ovO W 
VOOO ^t^OO •-« 

C4 C4 














TfvO N •-< rom toco 






ONtN> N NO rom 
^ O t-^OOO "^ 
O t-i tnfO O t^ 

•« #^ v^ ^ ^ •% 

cO'<t ^ ^ ^ ^ 


00 04 09^ 


o to 




•^ 2. 


o «>• 

►H O N ro ro »-< JN^OO 

►H rOOO W 00 N On M 

M to »-4 tOOO 00 M r«^ 

^ 9* 9^ 0S 9^ ^ ^W* 

O 1^00 OnvO VO »O00 

IT) in u-> lo lo VO u^ ^ 

bi u 


;: >s 






S B 
C O 



rt — 

U M 











• • 

• • 

• • 




to 00 

xn ■ IX 

M ^ On On to On 

•X M 

5 5 




Number of 

• • 

• • 

• • 

|5 8 S R ? 5 

«^ to to vo >H t^ to 

0^ 0^ 0^ m 0^ ^ ^^ 

t>. Q to ^ to ^ to 
IX e« M N M M ei 

t^ ix^ 

00 oo" 

N4 IX 

Number of Death 
nnum (May 1902). 

Cd. 853, 121 
Cd. 853, 121 

Cd. 819, 105 ; 853, 121 
Cd. 819,208; 853, 121 
Cd. 819, 290 ; 853, 121 
Cd. 853, 17, 121 
Cd. 853, 130, 121 
Cd. 853, 131 ; 934, 36 
Cd. 936, 2, 3 



to to 


• 0k 90k 

to ^ 


On On 

IN Camps. 




January to) 
April i 




August . 


October . 



January . 
February . 

PER ] 






55 S 

.RY III. — Number of Chil 

(in black figures] 

00 ^0 On M On Q <A 
to 00 •-••-« M N t>. 

M M M >X 


Number of 




to ^ VO ON IX to 

On r^ N to 00 "x r^ 
to ON w t^ to vo to 

m 0>* 0\ 0^ 0\ 0^ 0^ 

ON N VO NO VO ^ ^ 
IX N N N W t« t« 

K 1 
# 8 







to to IX 

IX M IX ^ ^ Tf r>. 

IX M ro to ^ to IX 

^ dl On to W ^ VO* 

IX IX IX to d to to 

00 00 00 00 ON On On 

^3 *t3 *© no no ^3 *t3 

u u u u 

10 NO 

to to 


^ s 





July . 
August . 
October . 

January . 
February . 










o •• 

Number of 

. . t^ r^ 2f '^ ^^92 !^ !^ 



Cd. 819, 183 

• • • 

Cd. 819, 207 
Cd. 819, 287 
Cd. 853, 8 
Cd. 853, 130 
Cd. 853, 131 
Cd. 934, 93 

Cd. 936, 24 
Cd. 939 



Prior to July . 

• • • 


August • 
October . 

January . 


^< w CT ^^ C4 ^^ 


^:vo>hu^cimo ovo 


Number of 

t^^f^vQ CNN tnr>» 

.^^u^mu^Mfo 0000 
M M M d fO»n*o inoo 



Cd. 608 

Cd. 819, 188/9 

Cd. 819, 203/5 ; 694 

Cd. 819, 283/5 ; 789 

Cd. 853, 27/9 ; 793 
Cd. 853, 130 
Cd. 853, 131 
Cd. 902, 134 

Cd. 934, 103 
Cd. 936, 32 



Prior to July . 

uly . . 
August . 
October . 
January . 






w^ » ^ *r# mm 

<So *{^ 






Highest Rates of Mortality among Children in the 
Concentration Camps (Whites). 



Middelburg . 







(end of 




Rate of 


per 1000 




July . . 



1 150 


Kroonstad . 

• • • 





Nylstroom . 


• • • 




Pietersburg . 


• • • 



October . 

Brandfort . 

• • • 




fj • 


• • • 





Mafeking . 


• • • 



» • 

Standerton . 


• • • 




Vryburg . . 


• • • 




Klerksdorp . 

• • • 





Nylstroom . 

• • • 





Mafeking . 

• • • 





Bethulie . . 

• • • 





Transvaal Camps. 

.OP^ATIO. ! 




Off. R»i. M 
Cd.819, 16 g 









Mai. 22 




Apr. 30 

Cd. 819, 47 3 






May 31 

Cd.819, SI 6 









June 30 

Cd.819, 113 8 








July 3' 

Cd. 819, 223 10 









Aug. 31 

Cd.819, 311 10 




65. 500 j S3 




Sept. 30 

Cd.853,34 II 




65.3 '4 ; 74 




Ocl. 31 

Cd.902,44 11 









Nov. 30 

Cd.934, S4 .10 









Dec. 31 

Cd.936, 17 10 









Jan. 3i 

Cd.939 10 









Feb. a8 

Cd.939 10 












*« = SssSf=5S| 



«R«I1^ ^ ISS f 1 

1 s 



s- » 




% ■s, 





1 1 

» 3- 




: , : , : 1 a 8 5 1 8 S 

i. s 

5 «- 



= ■ ■ ■ ■ <> - «- rfl J ^ ^ 

3 g 


- i - 1 1 111 1 1 







a' as, 



1 1 

SI p 

" " Is 





« t>. t>. t** ^ OO \r% 








NO vo 







fo m 







IT) \0 


I " 

O M 




o •- 






d 00 
vo t^ 



d t^ 

CO ^ 

00 d 

^ to 

d 00 

IT) lO 













to OO 



lO fO 

d ^ 
d to 

CO 5 













00 to 

U^ ON 

00 vo 
d vo 
O d 

vo ^ 

00 d 

ro vO 

•-« d 




S "S 

2^5 2*5^ 

00 vo 00 t>. 


foro fO ro d 
xTiO^ iTi IT) ri 

00 t^ 00 


S SS Su S3 Su cj S S. 


O d 

f* ro 

ro ro 

Ov 0\ 

• • 

•^ e« 















January 31 









































































• p4 




















































































































00 v5 










• • 




























»0 CO 



CO ^ 

<J C/3 














0\ •-< 
>H ro 








Concentration Camps of the Transvaal. 

TABLE showing (so far as recorded) the Population of each Camp at the 
end of each month, Deaths and Death-Rate (in black figures) 
per I, GOO per annum. Where data exist for its calculation, the mean 
Population for the month is shown in italic figures ^ and the Death- 
Rate is calculated on this mean. (June 1902.) 

1901 ... . 













Barberton . . 










Balmoral . . 

• • 

• ■ 

• • 

• • 

• • 

■ • 

• • 

■ • 

• • 

Belfast . . . 

■ ■ 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 




Heidelberg . 











Irene . . . 






















Klerksdorp . 










Krugersdorp . 


• • 

• • 









• • 

• ■ 

• • 

m m 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

Middelburg . 










Mafeking . . 










Nylstroom . . 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 






Pietersburg . 

• • 

• ■ 

• • 




























Vereeniging . 










Volksrust . . 










Vryburg . . 

• • 

• • 

■ ■ 

• • 

• ■ 

• • 

m m 

• • 

• • 

V. D. Hoven's 

Drift . . . 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

m m 

• • 

• • 

Relief and Mil- 

itary Posts . 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 


• • 




• • 



• • 




• • 




TABLE SV— Continued. 

1901 . . . .1 

"" "I 















Barberton . . 











Ffalmoral . . 

• • 

• • 

• • 







Belfast. . . ' 










Heidelberg . 










Iiene . . . 










Johannesburg | 










Klerksdorp . 











Krugersdorp . 











• • 


• • 

• « 

• • 

» • 


• • 

• • 

Middelburg . 










Mafeking . . 





















Pietersburg . 





















Standerton . 










Vereeniging . 










Volkirust . . 










Vryburg . . 

• • 

• * 

« • 

m • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

■ • 

* • 

V. D. Hoven's 

Drift . . . 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

■ • 

Reliefand Mil- 

itary Posts . 


• • 

• • 


• • 


• ■ 


• • 









TABLE Yl.— Continued. 

1901. . . . 















Barberton . . 










Balmoral . . 










Belfast . . . 











Heidelberg . 










Irene . . . 





















Klerksdorp . 









Krugersdorp . 











• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

« • 

■ • 

• ■ 

• • 

• • 

Middelburg . 










Mafeking . . 










Nylstroom . 










Pietersburg . 




















Standerton . 










Vcreeniging . 












Volksrust . . 










Vryburg . . 










V. D. Hoven's 

Drift. . . 

• • 

• • 

• • 







Relief and Mil- 

itary Posts . 



• • 

• • 






• • 


• • 




TABLE VI.— Continued. 

1902. .. . 














Barberton . . 









Balmoral . . 










Belfast . . . 










Heidelberg . 










Irene . . . 




















Klerksdorp . 










Krugersdorp . 











• • 

• ■ 

• • 


• ■ 

• • 


■ • 

• • 

Middelburg . 










Mafeking . . 










Nylstroom . 










Pietersburg . 




• • 

• ■ 

• • 

• • 

• • 

■ ■ 











Standerton . 










Vereeniging . 










Volksrust . . 










Vryburg . . 










V. D. Hoven's 
Drift . . . 

• • 


■ ■ 

• • 

• • 

■ • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

Relief and Mil- 
itary Posts . 


• • 

• • 



• • 

• • 


• • 

• • 


• • 




■ • 

1 In the Government Return, Cd. 939, 6, there is a wrong addition. 




Concentration Camps of the Orange Free State. 

TABLE showing (so far as recorded) the Population of each Camp at the 
end of each month, Deaths and Dbath-Ratb (in dark figures) per 
1,000 per annum. 

1901 .. . 













Aliwal North 

• • 


• • 















. 102 


Brandfort . . 

• ■ 








Bethulie . . 

• • 








Heilbron . . 

■ • 








Harrismith . 

■ • 

■ • 








• • 








Kimberley . 

• • 








Ladybrand . 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

Nerval's Pont 

• • 









■ • 









• • 








Winburg . . 

■ • 








Orange River 

• • 

• • 

a • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 


• • 

* • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 


• • 



• • 

36,140 1 


• • 

For July to October the Population is given from Cd. 853, 1x9. It will be found that the 
totals do not agree with those given in Summaries I., II., and III., and the Table from 
which those Summaries are compiled. In those cases the Returns of Population taken are 
those given in Cd. 8x9^ 209 and 290 ; Cd. 853> X7 and X30. There is no apparent reason for 
attributing greater weight to either set of Returns. 

June xfjio2. 



TABLE Wll.—ConHnued. 

1901 .. . 













Aliwal North 


















Brandfort . . 










Betbulie . . 










Heilbron . . 










Harrismith . 










Kroonstad . 










Kimberley . 










Ladybrand . 

a • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• ■ 

• • 

Nerval's Pont 






























Winburg . . 










Orange River 











• t 


• • 


• • 

• • 


• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 



• • 



• • 

1 Cd. 853, 17, States Pop., 19. 



TABLE V\l.— Continued. 

1901 .. . 
















AHwal North 




















Brandfort . . 










Bethulie . . 










Heilbron . . 










Harrismith . 




















Kimberley . 










Ladybrand . 


• • 

• • 

• ■ 

• • 

• • 

• « 

• t 

• • 

Nerval's Pont 






























Winburg . . 










Orange River 












• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 



• • 



• • 



• • 


TABLE yil.—Cmliniiid. 

1901 . . 









Allwul North 


















Delhulie . 







Hiilh™ . 










































d isn 












Onngc River 














Concentration Camps of Natal. 

TABLE showing for each Camp (so far as recorded) the Population at 
the end of each month, Deaths and Death- Rate (in dark figures) 
per 1,000 per annum. Where data exist for its calculation, the mean 
Population for the month is shown in italic figures^ and the Death- 
Rate is calculated on this mean. 

1901 .. . 













Ladysmith . 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• ■ 

• • 

Colenso . . 

• • 

• ■ 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

■ • 

■ • 

Howick . . 
Jacobs . . . 


• • 

■ ■ 
• • 





• • 


• • 


• • 





m • 

• • 


• • 

• • 


• • 

Wentworth . 

• • 

• » 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

Merebank. . 

■ • 

• • 

■ • 

• ■ 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• ■ 

Eshowe . . 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• ■ 

■ « 

a • 


• • 



• • 



• • 

1901 .. . 













Deaths Rate. 

Ladysmith . 

• • 

« • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 


Colenso . . 

• • 

■ • 

■ • 

• • 

• ■ 

• • 

Howick . . 
Jacobs . . . 





• • 


• • 


• • 




• • 


• • 


• • 



• • 

Wentworth . 

• • 

■ • 

• • 

• ■ 

• ■ 

• • 

Merebank . . 
Eshowe . . 

■ ■ 
• • 

• • 

• ■ 

■ • 
• • 


m m 


• ■ 


• • 




• • 



• • 



TABLE yilh—Omtiitued. 

1001 .. . 





! 1 

Deaths | Rate. ; Pop'n. Deaths 

Rate. ! Pop'n. 1 

: 1 

Deaths; Ratrt. 



• • 


. . 

Colenso . . { 



• . 

• . 

Howkk . . 1 

! 8828 



Jacobs . . . 




• • 



.. " 

i 2266 



• ■ 


• • 

Wentworth . 




• • 

« • 

Merebank . . 




Ethowe . . 





• • 

• • 


• ■ 

IWiZ . . . 





Deaths Kate. 

1 1 11 








• • 

Colensio . . 







Howick . . 














Jacobs . . . 







Wentworth . 

• • 

• • 

• ■ 


• • 

• • 

Merebank . . 







BsLowe . . 








• • 

■ • 



■ • 



Ordered to be Burnt, under Notice 602, Bloemfontein. 

S. W., A. W., and H. A. C 

J. P. Meintjes . 

G. C. Erasmus . 

M. and P. J. Meintjes 

S. W. Meintjes . 

H. A. Meintjes . 

P. J. Meintjes . 

A. W. Meintjes . 

J. A. Meintjes . 

A. Labuschagne 

O. Botha . 

C. Labuschagne 

— Letter . 

A. Keeve . 

P. Delport. 

W. Botha . 

C. F. Le Roux . 

E. P. Serfontein 

A. Meyer and H. Serfontein 
M. S. W. Combrinck 
E. P. Serfontein 
Prinsloo (several) 

B. J. Van Niekerk 
H. Klopper and others 
D. Kleynhaus . 
G. Vosloo . 
H. Vosloo . 
(H.) Steyn . 
(H.) Loggenberg 
— Labuschagne . 

D. C, H. P., and W. Serfontein 

J. Besters (several) 
















Gast Vryheid. 



Eerste Geluk. 











Kopje Alleen. 
• • • 
f Liverpool and 
( Schwirepoort. 




The following is a list of some farms burned and destroyed 
by British troops, during September and part of October 1901 ; 
the families have been brought into Irene Camp — loth October 
1901 — and affidavits were taken there : — 

September 1901. 


Destroyed or 



Michael Adriaan v. d. 






Piet. Gert. Labuschs^e. 





W. J. A. van Schalkwyk. 

3 houses. 




T. J. Barnard. 

I house. 




J. G. Erasmus. 

2 houses. 




J. J. H. Engelbrecht. 

7 houses. 




J. H. du Plessis. 

I house. 




L. A. S. van Wyk. 





W. J. Jacobs. 

2 houses. 




J. C. Barnard. 

2 » 




W. C. Barnard. 

4 n 




D. J. C. Riekert. 

I house. 




S. C. le Roux. 





A. G. Riekert (widow). 





P. J. Viljoen. 

4 houses. 




J. Coetzee. 

3 u 




M. W. Jacobse, 

• • • 




J. J. Uys. 

I house. 




A. J. Kleinsmit. 

3 houses. 

• • • 



C. C. Minnaar (widow). 

I house. 

English at 
Eerste Fabr. 



J. A. Bosman. 

I house. 




W. B. Prinsloo. 

2 houses. 




C. J. de Waal. 





J. A. Liedenberg. 

I house. 




M. Opperman. 

3 houses. 




D. J. Steenkamp. 

2 „ 




J. F. P. Erasmus. 







October 1901. 


Destroyed or 



M. J. Jacobs. 

2 houses. 

English at 
Eerste Fabr. 


J. J. Maret. 



V. Dykspruit, 


M. C. M. Fourie 

3 », 


De Kroonspruit, 



P. J. L. de Beer. 





J. H. Botha (widow). 

I house. 




W. J. J. Buckley 

3 houses. 





H. J. Botha. 

I house. 




J. A. Benkes. 

4 houses. 




J. H. Botha. 

2 „ 




S. S. Dreyer. 

I house. 


V, Dykspruit, 


J. L. J. Erasmus. 

4 houses. 




L. J. Erasmus. 

2 „ 


V. Dykspruit, 


B. J. Geldenhuis. 

2 „ 




S. J. C. Jansen (widow). 

I house. 




R. J. van Jaarsveld. 

3 houses. 


V. Dykspruit, 


G. S. Koekemoer. 

4 u 




E. Gesyn (unmarried). 

3 » 




M. J. J. Minnaar 

I house. 





A. L. Oosthuysen (widow). 

3 n 


V. Dykspruit, 


J. J. Pieterse. 

t • • 




M. J. Prinsloo (widow). 

2 houses. 


V. Dykspruit, 


S. J. L. Prinsloo. 





C. J. H. Steenkamp. 

3 »» 




W. L. Steenkamp. 

2 „ 

• • • 



C. J. S. Vermaak 

I house. 





S. J. de Wet (spinster). 

I „ 

• • • 



M. J. J. de Waal (widow). 





F. J. Wolmarans. 

• • • 




M. C. V. d. Westhuisen 

3 houses. 

• • • 




C. M. de Waal (orphans). 

2 ,, 




P. J. J. Swarts {sur- 

7 „ 






Unable myself, from lack of time and strength, to investigate 
the conditions or personally carry relief to the native camps, 
I confidently expected that the Ladies' Commission would have 
made it part of their work to do so. After the issue of their 
Report, which showed that they had not touched this important 
branch of the concentration system, I called upon Mr. Fox 
Bourne, and laid before him facts which had come to my 
knowledge when in South Africa. Clergymen, who worked 
among the coloured people in these camps, and others, told me 
sad tales of the sickness and mortality, which was then very 
high. Beyond giving a little relief for the sick, I was not able 
to do anything. Subsequently, Mr. Fox Bourne addressed the 
following letter to Mr. Chamberlain, whose reply is appended. 
The mortality list, compiled from official sources, is obviously 
incomplete, and only commences in June. To my knowledge, 
deaths had been numerous during the previous months. 

Mr. Fox Bourne to Mr. Chamberlain. 

" Broadway Chambers, Westminster, S.W. 

" Sir, — I have the honour, by direction of the Committee of 
the Aborigines Protection Society, to address you with reference 
to the native refuge camps in South Africa. 

" From the very scanty information as to these camps which 
is incidentally furnished in the papers relating to the working of 
the refuge camps which have been laid before Parliament (Cd. 
7^9> 793> ^S3> ^54> 9°^, and 936), it appears that, in addition 
to the white refugees, there were under Government control, in 



August 190 1, 32,272 coloured persons, about five-sixths of whom 
were women and children, and all but about a sixteenth in the 
Orange River Colony; and that the number had risen to 43,594 
in the Orange River Colony alone on isth November last, with 
which date the information as regards that Colony ceases. It 
further appears that the death-rate in the Orange River Colony 
native camps, which, according to the returns, was about 170 
per 1,000 in August, and about 91 per 1,000 in September, rose 
from 137 per 1,000 in the first fortnight of October to 363 per 
1,000 in the first fortnight of November. 

" In the Transvaal, moreover, it is shown by the returns that 
the number of natives in the refuge camps had risen from 1,829 
in August to 39,323 in November, the latest month accounted 
for, and the death-rate, which was about 242 per 1,000 in August, 
exceeded 291 in November. 

" If statements that have reached our Committee from private 
sources are accurate, the death-rate at some of the native camps, 
including those at Bloemfontein, Edenberg, Springfontein, and 
Klerksdorp, greatly exceeds those appalling figures ; and though 
the diet appointed and paid for by the authorities may be 
adequate, the actual supply of food is often very unsatisfactory, 
especially in the case of young children. 

" Our Committee is aware that the conditions of native life 
inevitably render the concentration of large numbers within 
limited areas extremely insanitary, and it offers no opinion as to 
the policy of thus disposing of the wives and children of male 
natives employed for the most part in services connected with 
the war. But it asks that such inquiries may be instituted by 
His Majesty's Government as should secure for the natives who 
are detained no less care and humanity than are now prescribed 
for the Boer refuge camps. 

" As a preliminary to any further steps that may be deemed 
proper, I am to suggest the expediency of a report being called 
for, giving much fuller information as to the condition of these 
camps, the accommodation and treatment provided in each, 
and other details, than are contained in the Parliamentary 
papers; also to ask that this information, while including 
reference to the earlier state of affairs in the Transvaal, Cape 
Colony, and Natal, as well as in the Orange River Colony, shall 
be continued for the period subsequent to November, when the 
increased death-rate was so startling. 

" I am also to respectfully suggest to you the appointment of 
a Ladies' Committee, the members of which might be satis- 
factorily selected from residents in South Africa, to be entrusted 


with a mission for the benefit of the natives, similar to that 
which has been so useful in the case of the Boer women and 

" I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient Servant, 

"H. R. Fox Bourne. 

** March 24, 1902." 

Mr. Chamberlain's reply, dated May 2, contained the 
following passages, and enclosed the report of the Superintendent 
of the Department : — 

«'. • • . • • . 

'"^ "2. I enclose a copy of the latest report on the working of 
the native camps in the Orange River Colony which has been 
received in this Department. It has since been ascertained by 
telegraph^ that in the native camps in the Transvaal, with a 
population of 40,000, the deaths in January were about 880, in 
February 550, and in March 400. 

"3. In the Orange River Colony, with a population of about 
45,000 in native locations, the deaths were in January about 
1400, in February about 800, and in March about 470. 

"4. The figures given above appear to show that the 
conditions of life in the native camps have improved con- 
siderably, and Mr. Chamberlain has no doubt that Lord Milner 
will not fail to exercise all proper care in dealing with the natives 
who are dependent on the Government. 

" I am, Sir, your obedient servant, 

"Fred. Graham. 

**The Secretary to the Aborigines Protection Society." 

"Native Refugee Department, 

Bloemfontein, 2nd January 1902. 

"Sir, — I have the honour to forward herewith a copy of 
the November return for the native refugee camps in the 
Orange River Colony. . . . 

"The several reports by the camp superintendent have 
been of a very satisfactory nature. 

"Discipline in the camps has been uniformly good, and 
the natives seem generally contented, and are readily turning 
out for work both with the Government and on the lands round 
the camps, which are being cultivated for their own benefit. 


The death-rate appears high, but, under the circumstances, I 
think it can scarcely be called excessive. Food has been scarce, 
and in many cases the natives have had to put up with con- 
siderable privations before they were brought into the camps, 
and, in addition, must be taken into consideration the invariable 
increase in the death-rate in this country during the hot weather 
before the breaking of the rains, especially so in the case of 
young children. Every effort is being made to deal with this 
matter. Large supplies of comforts, such as milk, sugar, 
medicine, etc., are being distributed, and I am glad to say that 
at present there is every sign of a steady decrease of the sick 
list. ... 

"To sum up, I consider the report to show a very satis- 
factory state of affairs generally. The Department is now 
organised on a sound footing, and the natives themselves appear 
to thoroughly understand the present condition of things, and to 
appreciate the efforts that are being made by His Majesty's 
Government on their behalf. 

"I. have, etc., 

(Sd.) "F. Wilson Fox, Capt, 

Supt. Native Refugee DepartmcDt, O. R. C." 
















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38 Messrs. Methuen's Catalogue 

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With Illu5tratious by B. Q Woorwiu* 



TTbe flew &e %i3 tlof els 

Crown Svo, 3;. 6d, 

Messrs. Methuen are now publishing popular Novels in a new and most 
charming style of binding. Ultimatelyi this Series will contain the following 
books: — 

Andrew Balfour. 


Vengeance is Mine. 

M. C. Balfour. 

The Fall of the sparrow. 

Jane Barlow. 

The land of the shamrock. 
A Creel of Irish Stories. 
From the east Unto the West. 

J. A. Barry. 


E. F. Benson. 

The Capsina. 

Dodo : A Detail of the Day. 

The Vintage. 

J. Blonndelle-Burton. 

In the Day of adversity. 


The clash of Arms. 

Across the Salt Seasl 

Servants op Sin. 

Mrs. Caflyn (Iota). 


Ada Cambridge. 

Path and Goal. 

Mrs. W. K Clifford. 

A Woman Alone. 
A Flash of Summer. 

J. Maclaren Cobban. 

The Angel of the covenant. 

Julian Corbett. 

A Business in Great Waters. 

L. Cope Comford. 

SONS OF Adversity. 

Stephen Crane. 

Wounds in the Rain. 

B. M. Croker. 

A STATE Secret. 



A Secretary of Legation. 

A. J. Dawson. 

Daniel White. 

Evelyn Dickinson. 

A Vicar's Wife. 
THE Sin of Angels. 

Harris Dickson. 


Menie Muriel Dowie. 

THE Crook of the bough. 

Mrs. Dndeney. 

the Third Floor. 

Sara Jeannette Duncan. 


THE Path of a Star, 

G. Manyille Fenn. 

The Star Gazers. 
Eli's Children. 
A Double Knot. 

Jane H. Findlater. 


Mary Findlater. 

Betty Musgrave. 

Jane H. and Mary Findlater. 

Tales that are told. 

J. S. Fletcher. 

The Paths of the Prudent. 
The Builders. 

M. E Francis. 

Miss Erin. 

Mary Gaunt 

Kirkham's Find. 


The Moving Finger.' 

Dorothea Gerard. 

Things that have Happened. 

B. Murray Gilchrist 


George Gissing. 

The Crown of Life. 

Charles Gleig: 

BUNTBR's Cruise. 

S. Gordon. 


C. F. Goss. 

The Redemption of David Corson. 

B. M'Queen Gray. 

MY Stewardship. 


Bobert Hichens. 


I. Hooper. 

THE Singer of Marly. 

Emily Lawless. 


Norma Lorimer. 


josiah's wife. 

Edna I^ralL 


Hannah t^nch. 

An Odd Experiment. 

Bichard Marsh. 

THE Seen and the unseen. 
Marvels and Mysteries. 

W. E. Norris. 

Matthew Austin. 

His Grace. 

The Despotic Lady. 

Clarissa Furiosa. 

giles ingilby. 

an octave. 

Jack's Father. 

A Deplorable Affair. 

Mrs. Oliphant 

Sir Robert's fortune. 
The Two Marys. 
The Lady's Walk. 
THE Prodigals. 

Mary A. Owen. 

The Daughter of Alouette, 

Mary L. Pondered. 
An Englishman.