Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club
QSAMIKE

THE FOUNDING OF A REGIMENT - MODERATORS' AWARD CERTIFICATE

Recommended Posts

HALIFAX HARBOUR

March 16th. 1900

The Rt. Hon. Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal, G.C.M.G.

17, Victoria Street, London, ENGLAND

My Lord,

My last report was principally confined to the organization of your Corps up to the time of the concentration in Ottawa.

I have now the honour to report on the after events, bringing it up to the time when we are standing out in Halifax Harbour, ready to sail for South Africa.

On the date of my last report only a portion of the regiment had arrived in Ottawa, and I have now the honour to state that the Corps is at full strength -- Officers and men. But notwithstanding this fact it might be well to give your lordship a brief summary of the events which have occurred during the time we were quartered at Ottawa, and also, on the trip to Halifax.

Clothing and Stores.

When the stores were received at the Barracks at Ottawa, in accordance with Military Regulations, a board of officers, comprised of members of your own Corps, was appointed and sat upon the clothing and stores issued by the Department of Militia and Defence. The Board took expert evidence upon everything issued with the exception of the so-called Stetson hats, all the clothing, saddlery and equipment were found to be suitable for the campaign.

With regards to the hats, I may say that after a thorough test it was ascertained that they were not such as would resist the slightest moisture, and also, that they were not the hat used in the West.

When the finding of the Board was communicated to me I immediately took steps to replace the hats for a quality with which I was familiar in the West, but unfortunately, owing to the shortness of the time, I was unable to collect sufficient number, and consequently the original pattern was retained in the absence of something better. However, I understand Mr. Taylor is arranging to have a better hat forwarded to the Corps at Cape Town.

Horses.

Since arriving in Halifax, I am in receipt of your despatch regarding the horses. In reply to the same, I stated that they were satisfactory, and I have now only to add that in my opinion they are perfectly suitable to the work expected of them.

During our stay in Ottawa, Mr. Beith, M.P., one of the best judges of horse flesh in Canada had a look over all the stables, and he expressed to me his opinion that they were best horses of the kind that could be found.

Parades.

Although the regiment had been doing drill every day since it arrived in Ottawa, it was not until the 6th. inst., that I was able to have a full mounted parade which proved satisfactory in every particular. The horses behaved well, and the men showed an interest in the work which was encouraging. During the course of the parade we were visited, informally, be His Excellency the Governor General, who expressed himself as being well pleased. On this occasion we were presented, through Mr. Klock, M.P., with a beautiful flag, together with an address, a copy of which I herewith enclose.

On the following Thursday (8th March) the regiment paraded mounted - nearly full strength - and proceeded to Parliament Square where it was met by His Excellency the Governor General, the Members of the Senate and the House of Commons, the Mayor and Council of the City of Ottawa, together with thousands of citizens.

The regiment was presented by the Ladies of the Civil Service with four Guidons, exquisitely worked in silk and which show on them your lordship's crest and motto. I may say that the Guidons have been the admiration of people all along the line and the generous donation to the Corps by the Ladies of the Civil Service is very much appreciated by both the officers and men.

On Sunday the llth. inst. in accordance with orders issued by the Officer commanding the Ottawa Brigade, the regiment proceeded to church, full strength. I was exceedingly well pleased with the appearance of the men on this occasion. There was a steadiness and interest shown which was encouraging considering the limited time they had to pick up foot drill. But all along the men have shown a business front, fully realizing that they are on serious duty.

We commenced our departure for Montreal on Sunday, the above date, that is we entrained the horses, 539 in number, including three for General Hutton, in two trains, per C.P.R. for Montreal. A sufficient guard was detailed under the Veterinary Officer, and on the morning following we proceeded to Montreal. On Monday morning the 12th. inst. - after turning over the quarters occupied in Ottawa in a perfectly satisfactory condition your Corps entrained in two trains for Montreal . You have doubtless read in the newspapers a description of the enthusiasm with which we were received there but I do think it possible to adequately describe the demonstration beyond the fact that there was a cheering multitude, beautifully decorated streets, and everything to indicate the esteem with which you are held in the estimation of the people of that city, and the interest which they take in your Corps. A banquet was given by the City of Montreal at which eloquent and patriotic speeches were delivered.

The regiment entrained in three trains for Halifax at 9.30 on Monday evening, but owing to the heavy trains our progress was slow. This, however, did not prevent us from getting an enthusiastic reception everywhere along the line. At Campbellton, N.B., at 3 o'clock a.m., we were met by a large crowd and presented on behalf of the town with a fine silk flag. The same thing happened at Monckton (sic), and at Truro, N.S., late at night, an address was presented.

The Corps arrived at Halifax early Thursday morning and the work of

embarking the horses was immediately commenced and successfully accomplished by evening.

The men were quartered for the night, one squadron at the Armoury and two squadrons at the Exhibition Grounds. A smoking concert was given in the evening by the City, and a dinner to the Field Officers at the Halifax Club. The same enthusiasm displayed in other places was shown here. A march of four miles was made through the city yesterday, previous to which Her Majesty's message was read to the regiment in thee Armoury. The regiment was also inspected by General Seymore.

The embarkation at Halifax was completed half-an-hour after the Corps reached the dock, and we are now ready to sail.

I shall let you have a report from Cape Verde should we call there.

I have the honour to be my Lord,

Your obedient servant

(Signed) S.B. Steele, Lt. Col.

Commanding Strathcona's Horse

(Note: Cape Verde report missing.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

STEAMSHIP "MONTEREY"

16th. March 1900

Dear Lord Strathcona,

I am sending you to-day an official report of events since my last. The Regiment left Ottawa on the 12th. and arrived here yesterday. I hurried the embarkation of the horses as there was no place for them on shore. Dr. McEachran gave me every assistance and inspected each horse personally before it was placed on board. On our arrival in Montreal the men were detrained and we marched about four miles through both the French and English portions of the city receiving the greatest ovation that has ever been given a corps in our time. The streets were packed from one end to another with the houses and other buildings decorated in the most tasteful manner. Laval had the whole buildings (sic) decorated and the balcony and windows full of cheering students. McGill cheered the Laval men, and good feeling is the result. After the march we were given a luncheon in the Windsor Hall. It was attended by the majority of the leading citizens of Montreal, and the gallery packed with ladies. The Mayor and many of the gentlemen present made speeches, all of them eulogizing your patriotism and praising the efforts made by the Government and myself to carry out your wishes. I had the honor to reply to these giving a short account of the organization. The men, although treated with lavish hospitality behaved with the greatest sobriety and common sense, showing plainly my endeavours to fill the corps with a fine respectable lot of men had not been in vain. I left Montreal in the evening after a stay of six hours.

To-day the whole garrison of Halifax was represented in a triumphal march through the city. In the armoury speeches of a patriotic character were made by Lord William Seymore, Governor Daly, Dr. Borden and others. We then marched (headed by the Leinsters (Old Hundredth) through the whole city for four miles at least, the route being lined by an enthusiastic crowd of people. We embarked in an orderly way in twenty-five minutes from the time we went to the pier. I immediately published all the orders required by the Queen's Regulations and after consulting with the Captain made necessary regulations all of which will be strictly and I hope tactfully enforced. The men will be lectured on musketry, and drilled to stand to their boats, and are told off in crews.

The horses are first class and a great credit to Dr. McEachran. The draught animals were purchased in Montreal and are splendid ones. All have been shod as directed by the Queen's Regulations.

The men all through, since I took them to Ottawa, have behaved well. Lord William Seymore and all others admit that no finer, if as fine, a body could be found. All bronzed, hardy looking Fellows.

I am proud of the honor you have done me, and so are all concerned. I may add further that Lord William Seymore spoke highly of my brother officers saying that they went about their work in a most satisfactory manner with out a fuss.

Colonel Cotton of the Militia Department who commands in Ottawa, and the whole staff, treated me well and assisted me in every way. I am satisfied with the results.

The regiment was presented with four beautiful guidons. The people of Sudbury, Ont., of Campbellton, N.B., and Monckton (sic), N.B., gave us beautiful flags which I hope we may be able to hand over to your Lordship some of these days with credit. Every flag is of beautiful silk hand worked by the ladies of the Civil Service of Canada.

Dr. Borden, Lord William and many prominent persons saw us off to-day.

I cannot say too much of Dr. Borden's treatment of me. He left nothing undone and the Military Store Officer, Lieut. Col. Macdonald worked hard for us and has expressed himself pleased with the way in which our quartermaster pushed the work of his department.

Hoping that you are quite well again, I am,

Yours Respectfully,

(Signed) S. B. Steele

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

March 17th. 1900:

Telegram from General Lord William Seymore, Halifax to Lord Strathcona:-

"After inspecting Strathcona Horse can congratulate your Lordship and Colonel Steele on smart solderlike appearance, combined with orderly embarkation. Queen's message received with enthusiasm."

March 17th. 1900:

Following telegram from Dr. Duncan McEachran:-

"596 horses embarked good condition. Steele greatly pleased with them. Best ranch horses. Cannot be excelled mounted infantry scouts Transvaal. Congratulate you general excellence and efficiency of force

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

March (Date Unknown) 1900:

Canadian Horses for South Africa:

The following is an extract from a letter from Dr. Duncan McEachran, Dean of the Faculty of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Science, McGill University, respecting the horses purchased by him for Lord Strathcona's Corps:-

"I am glad to be able to report that I have secured 536 horses about 15 to 15-2; a few of them are about 14-3. 95 percent of them are thoroughly broken to cow-boy work. Taught to rein by the neck, stop suddenly, turn on the hind feet as a pivot, stand with the reins over their head on the prairie, ford and swim rivers, and go at a rapid pace up or down steep hills. They are stout animals with good short legs and strong quarters; good bone and as active as cats -- horses which know nothing of stables or grooms; accustomed to be ridden half a day or more, and at night are simply stripped of saddle and bridle and turned loose to find their feed. Except 24 head bought by police officers I bought every one myself - the riding horses and pack ponies in Macleod, Pincher Creek, on the range along the Foot Hills from there to Calgary, High River, Maple Creek, Regina and Lethbridge. The wagon horses I bought in Montreal - mostly Ontario bred - but there are a good number of Quebec Province horses. They are 15 to 15-3, stout, short legged horses, good movers and weighing 1200 to 1300 Ibs. In conclusion, I would say that hitherto it was not considered possible to purchase horses in Canada for army purposes. There are thousands suitable for mounted infantry - not all broken, it is true, but they are being broken now, and I have quite a number of letters and telegrams offering me horses. I feel convinced that the mounts will be so approved of by the Generals at the front that the question will be asked "Can more like them be bought quickly?", they can."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

March 19th. 1900:

Extract from letter from the Minister of Militia to Lord Strathcona:-

" I have just returned from Halifax where I have had the great pleasure of taking part in the embarkation ceremonies of Strathcona Horse.

I think you have every reason to be satisfied with the work that has been done. I examined the steamship most carefully on two different occasions, and of all the five transports despatched by Canada the "Monterey" is the facile princeps. The Steamship Company deserves the greatest credit for their work.

In this connection I should like to mention the name of Mr. Paul Weatherbe, the Chief Engineer of the Department of Militia, who has remained at Halifax practically in charge of the fitting up of the "Monterey". Mr. Weatherbe is a most efficient officer, and has been engaged in and out of season with the work of fitting up all our transports including the "Monterey".

In beginning to mention names of officers who have distinguished themselves in this work, I scarcely know where to stop. I may, however, add the name of Lieut. Colonel D. A. Macdonald, our Chief Superintendent of Stores, who has done such splendid work in connection with the out-fitting of all the contingents, and who has worked no less faithfully for your force than for those for which we were more directly responsible. I should also mention our worthy Deputy Minister, Lieut. Col. L. F. Pinault, who has given his time and energy to the work. In my own office I take the liberty of mentioning my own Private Secretary, Mr. W. Brown, who has given his time to the work without regard to hours, holidays or Sundays. In the Military branch, Colonels Aylmer and Foster, and Lieut. Col. Cotton have all assisted most assiduously. Lieut. Col. Cotton being in command of this district has had much to do with the work of housing and feeding the force here, and has done it admirably. I should also like to mention the name of Mr. E. F. Jarvis, a First Class Clerk in the Military Branch, who has done his work most efficiently and zealously, and has not spared himself. I have already referred to the work done by Mr. F. W. Taylor, of the Bank of Montreal. I have seen a good deal of Mr. Taylor, and can assure you that he has done his work thoroughly.

I am sure you would be greatly pleased to have witnessed the enthusiastic send off your force received in Halifax. I have had the honor and pleasure of making you aware of it through the cablegram I sent to you. The whole city seemed to have turned out and the enthusiasm was wonderful for Halifax, which is rather a sedate old town ordinarily! The Province was largely represented, and, in fact, all the Provinces. I had the pleasure of taking down with me in my official car representatives of the West, so that the demonstration was of a national character.

There is but one feeling throughout Canada, and that is of admiration of your noble generosity and pride in being citizens of a country which has the honor to claim your Lordship as its adopted son."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

March 20th. 1900:

Letter from Miss Geraldine FitzGerald, the Secretary of the Committee of Ladies of The Civil Service, to Lord Strathcona, giving the following description of the guidons presented to the Strathcona's Horse:-

"The guidons were made of red silk with a broad band of white silk down the centre, with the words "Strathcona Horse" worked in red silk. The rest is a maple leaf embroidered in shades of green, upon which is a beaver in shades of brown, the whole being surrounded by a garter, oval in shape, worked in white, outlined in gold, with a gold buckle, surmounted by a Baron's coronet, embroidered in coloured silks. Lord Strathcona's motto "Perseverance" is worked in crimson letters upon the white ground of the garter. In the lower corner of each of the three of the guidon's is a letter designating the respective squadrons, "A", "B", "C", and the fourth guidon has the letters "C.O." representing Commanding Officer. Each guidon is attached to a lance by crimson ribbons."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

March 23rd. 1900:

Copy of letter from Lord Strathcona to Lord Roberts:-

"I beg to send you herewith a copy of a letter I have addressed to-day to Sir Evelyn Wood (with whom I was placed in communication by the Secretary of State) respecting the departure from Halifax on Saturday last of the corps raised in my name. It was a great disappointment to me not to be able to see the men off personally, but I have had one or two bad colds recently, and the Doctors advised my postponing my visit to Canada for a couple of months. I may say, however, that I have had many kind letters from Canada, among others from the Governor General, speaking in high terms of the men and of the horses. The men are typical Westerners, accustomed to life on the prairies of the great North West, good shots and fine horsemen. The horses have been raised in the same parts of the Dominion which are, I imagine, in some respects similar to the veldt in South Africa. The corps will probably arrive in Cape Town the second week in April. I commend them to your consideration and hope that you will be able to give them an opportunity of seeing some service in the campaign which is progressing so favourably under your brilliant and skilful direction.

Those who are connected with the outlaying countries which form part of the British Empire and are associated with the Motherland in the struggle in South Africa gratefully appreciate all that you have been doing to strengthen the Imperial sentiment amid the multitudinous matters that must demand your attention; and we all expect great results from your wise and tactful handling of this great part of a great subject. I venture to send you herewith a copy of the letter I received from the Queen's Private Secretary, and I may add that Her Majesty's message was read to my corps on the occasion of its embarkation at Halifax.

Edited by QSAMIKE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

April 5th. 1900:

Telegram from Lord Strathcona to Minister of Militia and Defence: -

"Authorized to select fifty men and one subaltern with personal and horse equipment, but without horses, to be sent to Cape Town to replace possible vacancies in force. Men to be forwarded to Liverpool whence they will be sent on by Government transport. Same conditions to be recognised as with regard main body."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CAPE TOWN

10th. April 1900

Dear Lord Strathcona,

The regiment arrived here to-day after a good passage as far as the officers and men are concerned, but very unlucky as to the horses. The weather for the first two or three days out of Halifax was very raw with the result that although the ship was free from serious draughts the great majority of the horses showed signs of pneumonia, and if it had not been for the great care and skill displayed by the Veterinary Surgeon we would have lost more than we have.

The weather between the tropics was very trying on the horses; but I caused wind sails to be used to the full capacity of the holds, and was assisted in everyway by the master of the ship, Captain Parry. 162 horses died in spite of all we could do which is nearly one third. Ten percent over the full number required were purchased to cover casualties and I was sure that would be ample, but as it turned out 100 remounts will be required. I am informed that there are plenty and that we can be ready to march in a few days.

The officers and men have taken the greatest interest in their work particularly the care of the horses. I have kept them at work every day, except that between the tropics I caused the drill to be early in the morning. They have, as reported to you officially, made great progress. The Staff Officer in Charge of the disembarkation appeared to-day as soon as we arrived, and it has been arranged that we go under canvas for ten days, the same as the other Canadian Corps, and then go to the front. We are to camp about a mile from the town proper out in the suburbs.

I intend to keep our work up so that when we get to the front all will be quite at home at their work such as the drill, which is simple but necessary to enable them to be moved. They are, as I wrote you before, very efficient already and very anxious to prove to you that they appreciate, as we all do, your kindness in every way.

The officers of the ship have done all in their power to help me. The First Officer was struck off all other duty to enable him to see that everything required by the regiment was attended to at once. In fact, I think that no better man could be found than Captain Parry and his officers and other staff.

I assure you, my Lord, that I have experienced the greatest pain in seeing the bad luck we have had through the death of so many horses, but I hope that it is the last of it. I have, as I am sure you know, done my best and so have all the rest.

I will write fully later.

Yours respectfully

(Signed) S. B. Steele

Part 2

CAPE TOWN

April 10, 1900

From The Officer Commanding "Strathcona*s Horse",

To the Right Honourable Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, G.C.M.G.

17 Victoria Street,

London, England.

My Lord,

I have the honour to submit this my report on the voyage from Halifax to Capetown.

As already cabled the Regiment arrived here this morning. The voyage as far as the Officers and Men are concerned has been pleasant. Everything to conduce to their comfort has been done by Captain Parry on the ship. But I was very unfortunate with my horses. For some days after we left Halifax there was a heavy swell which caused the ship to roll to a very considerable extent giving the horses much discomfort and some of them seasickness. On the 19th March the Veterinary Surgeon discovered that owing to the change from the dry atmosphere of Ottawa to that of the damp of the North Atlantic Ocean the horses had contracted pneumonia to a frightful extent, no less than 80% of them showing signs of it, and from that date until our arrival here nearly every day has been marked by the deaths of several. The Veterinary Officer, Lieut. Stevenson, the Farrier Quarter Master Sergeant and the Officers and Men of the corps have been unremitting in their attention. Everything has been done that experience could suggest without avail. Up to the present date the deaths have numbered 161.

On the 7th instant I assembled a Board of Officers to report upon the horses dead and submit herewith copy of the same. You will observe from the evidence that everything in our power has been done to bring the horses around. In addition Mr. Gunn, who owing to his experience in the shipment of horses, was sent along to give the Veterinary Officer all the assistance in his power. I placed him, together with every goodman that could be selected out of the Regiment at the disposal of the Veterinary Officer.

The forage provided for the horses has been of a very good quality, but owing to the seasickness and the novelty of the surroundings it was some time before they would eat it with relish.

When the ship arrived in the Tropics the heat between decks was most intense, the thermometer going as high as 93 degrees. Fortunately for a part of the time there was a good breeze and as soon as the weather began to get warm, wind sails were put up in every hatch and everything done to cause a draught of air to go down, but in spite of this position of the horses was most trying.

The surviving horses number 383 saddle and 52 transport, which will enable two Squadrons to take the front complete.

I am not aware at present whether remounts can be obtained to replace the horses lost. I can hardly express to you my sorrow at the circumstances under which we have been placed owing to the death rate among the horses. For my part I have done my very best to see that all care was taken. In fact I have taken great personal interest in this matter and was ably seconded by Major Belcher, who is a man of great experience and ability.

I may say further regarding the horses that from the commencement I was anxious to have them in a fit state to undertake this long journey and also that no chances should be in the way of contracting contagious diseases. I therefore issued instructions in Ottawa to have all sick horses isolated, and the following appeared in the orders of the Regiment.

"R.O. 119. Horses arriving from the West with any visible discharge from the nose, must immediately be isolated. A stable must be provided for this purpose. The Acting Quarter Master Farrier Sergeant will inspect the horses on arrival."

Drills.

The following drills were carried out during the voyage: -

Musketry, Manual of Firing and Revolver.

As soon as we got on board the men were told off in the boats upon which they would fall in were it necessary to abandon ship. As far as possible everything laid down in the Queen's Regulations was carried out strictly and I must say that I am very much pleased with the manner in which Officers and Men exerted themselves to help in my efforts to maintain order on the ship.

In drilling it has been found that the men showed interest and steadiness. It is something new for a body of men to drill at the Manual and firing exercises on board ship, and the fact that the vessel has been rolling more or less during the whole voyage the smartness of the men is simply marvellous.

Lectures.

During the voyage lectures were delivered to the Sergeants, among the subjects touched upon were Scouting, Outposts, Advance and Rear Guards, Screening and Enemy, etc.

Guards and Piquets.

The following guards were put on the horses: • A Major three troops with troop officers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and a Captain, three troops, with troop officers from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

The ship was patrolled by Regimental Police and sentries placed all over the ship.

Feed and Rations.

The rations supplied to the Regiment have been very satisfactory. A few complaints were made but they were owing, no doubt, to the fact that the ship was not originally intended for this purpose. All these things were rectified in a very short time. The ship was inspected regularly according to order and anything found wrong was immediately set right.

Health.

Surgeon-Lieutenant Keenan vaccinated all the men on the 23rd.

Some of them were a little sore after it and a number were off duty for a short time on that account. There has been considerable seasickness as well but not as much as I expected. I enclose the report of Dr. Keenan by which you will see that five noncommissioned officers and men are suffering from complaints which will unfit them for service duty. I also enclose you a copy of the Veterinary Officers report.

Canteen.

In accordance with regulations a canteen was opened under the supervision of a non-commissioned officer, who was on duty daily.

Conduct.

The conduct of all ranks has been quite satisfactory. Any cases brought to my notice were simply the result of inexperience and not likely to occur again in the same individuals.

Studies.

I distributed the different works on Patrols, Scouting, Advance and Rear Guards, Screening the Army, etc., and I am pleased to say that everyone has taken a great interest in the work and no doubt with the experience the men already have in a wild country they will give a good account of themselves.

A fire occurred on the evening of the 27th March at 7.50 when the officers were at dinner. On the alarm being sounded the men paraded in order and in perfect silence. The fire, which was confined to the troop galley, was not of a very serious character, but it gave one a good idea of how the Corps would behave under such circumstances.

The Regiment was paid on the 31st of March and 7th of April, Lieut. Ketchen acting as Paymaster for me.

Amusements.

With the ample supply of books and periodicals and the articles given by you for the comfort of the men, they have been able to spend their spare time very pleasantly. Your generosity in this regard will never be forgotten.

There were two concerts held on board which were greatly enjoyed. When we crossed the Equator on the 31st instant I gave all not on duty a half holiday to celebrate the event. A funny representation of a visit to the ship by Neptune was given much to the delight of everyone.

Captain Carpenter, two officers and 104 men of the Royal Regiment Canadian Infantry were, as you know, on board. Owing to the great pressure of work in connection with your Corps it was found necessary to call upon this detail to furnish the night guard. Their duties of course were not nearly so severe as those of "Strathcona's Horse" but considering the inexperience of the men their work was well performed.

I wish to assure you in conclusion that every officer, noncommissioned officer and man considers it a very treat honor to serve in the Regiment raised by you. In fact when we left Halifax we were the envy of the whole Dominion of Canada.

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

 

Your obedient servant,

S. B. STEELE, Lt. Col.

Commanding "Strathcona's Horse'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Telegram To Lord Strathcona....

April 10th, 1900:

Commissions signed by Her Majesty for officers of the corps forwarded to Colonel Steele in South Africa.

Edited by QSAMIKE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

April llth. 1900:

Telegram: -

"Monterey" arrived Cape Town, April 10th. 163 horses died on the way."

Telegram from Colonel Steele to Lord Strathcona: -

"Arrived to-day. Lost 162 horses from pneumonia in spite of every care taken. Only five men on sick list."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Telegran to Lord Strathcona......

April 17th. 1900:

In reply to enquiry, Dr. McEachran attributed the loss of the horses to cold, draughty sheds in Ottawa, and stormy trip to Halifax. Horses contracted colds before being put on board.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

S T R A T H C O N A ' S H O R S E

Green Point Camp

Cape Town, April 18th, 1900

From Lieut-Colonel Steele,

Commanding "Strathcona's Horse",

To

The Right Honourable Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal G.C.M.C.

7 Victoria Street,

London, England.

My Lord,

I have the honour to submit this my report on the disembarkation of your Corps and also as to the work carried on daily since we went into camp at Green Point, Cape Town.

As cabled the "Monterey" arrived at Cape Town in the 10th instant at 11 a.m. but stood at anchor in the harbour until the necessary arrangements were made for the disembarkation, which commenced the day following.

The Traction Transport provided at the Base, together with our own transport arrangements made the task an easy one, and the Regiment encamped at Green Point on the night of the 11th instant. It required the next day, however to complete the unloading of the stores, etc. and when this was done, the work of getting the camp straightened up was commenced.

The camp ground is very far from being a good one, but it might be worse. The great trouble is that there is not sufficient room for the Regiment on parade, and that it is rough and stony.

The harness and saddlery were fitted and the men's kits distributed and everything calculated to contribute to the comfort of the horses and men done.

On the 13th instant I called on Lieut. General Forestier-Walker, and was informed that Lord Roberts was very anxious to have us at the front as soon as possible, but that I must not be disappointed at not being ordered to Bloemfontein as he had important and special work for us in another quarter. It will require about ten days longer before we will be in a position to proceed to the front and by that time our horses will be sufficiently rested and the remounts taken on the strength.

Drills

Drills were commenced on the 14th inst. and continued for four hours daily since. The men are improving every day. A mounted parade was ordered for this morning, every available man attending. I was perfectly satisfied with the manner in which it was carried out.

Horses.

A marked improvement was shown in the condition of the horses from the first day on land. Unfortunately, however, four cases of glanders developed, and it was necessary to destroy the horses affected. Every precaution has been taken to prevent an epidemic and it looks as though we have stamped it out.

There are plenty of remounts available, but from my observation of the horses in the remounting station adjacent to this camp, none of them are to be compared to those of your Corps, being smaller and lighter in bone.

Rations.

The food supplied to the men is wholesome and there is plenty of it. I have not heard a single complaint so far. Fresh meat is served with every meal, together with plenty of vegetables and things of that kind.

The forage consists of a good ration of hay and oats of good quality.

Condition of the Men.

The weather so far has been fine and this, no doubt, has helped the men to become accustomed to the change of air and climate. Very little sickness has developed. Four of the men enlisted will be permanently unfitted for duty suffering from abscess, rupture and one with a weak arm. Some others are troubled with minor complaints but in the opinion of the Lieut. Surgeon, all with the exception of the four mentioned above, will be able to go forward with the Regiment.

I will let you know by cable when the Regiment leaves Cape Town and will forward to you a weekly report afterwards.

I have the honour to be,

My Lord

Your obedient servant,

 

 

 

 

S. B. STEELE,

Lt. Col.

Commanding "Strathcona's Horse"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

April 21st. 1900:

Following letter from General Sir Evelyn Wood:-

"We have sent following telegram to the General Officer commanding lines of communication, Cape Town:-

"Understood that Strathcona corps had serious loss of horses on "Monterey". These may be replaced from army remounts as soon as you are in a position to provide them."

Lord Lansdowne quite appreciates your consistent generosity in offering to make good loss which arose from want of experience in the amount of air necessary for horses on board ship. It is one of the most difficult questions on board all horse and cattle ships. I am glad that we are not accepting your generous offer and that the horses will be made good from army funds."

April 25th. 1900:

Following letter from Lord Strathcona to Sir Evelyn Wood:-

"I am much obliged for your letter of the 21st. inst., in which you make me acquainted with the terms of the telegram sent to the General Officer commanding lines of communication, Cape Town, authorising him to replace from army remounts the horses lost in the "Monterey" on her passage to Cape Town.

Kindly convey my acknowledgments to the Marquis of Lansdowne for the consideration he has extended to the matter, and my appreciation of the generous action which his lordship has sanctioned. At the same time, however, I was quite prepared to pay the value of the horses, if my proposal had been approved. My difficulty, having no direct communication with Cape Town, was to know how to purchase additional horses in South Africa in time to be of any use.

I do not like to think the loss occurred through the cause you apprehend, but you may have more information that is in my possession. We shall, however, know more shortly, when I receive a report from the Veterinary Surgeon on the ship. As a matter of fact, however, there are few countries in which more experience has been obtained of the shipment of cattle and horses than in Canada."

April 26th. 1900:

Extract from proceedings of a Board of Officers on board S.S. "Monterey" to report upon the loss of horses dated April 7th. 1900:-

"Veterinary Surgeon, George T. Stevenson:- I am Lieutenant and Veterinary Surgeon in Strathcona"s Horse. The horses shown on the attached schedule marked "A" died on the dates and from the diseases shown against their respective numbers.

Ninety percent of the horses mentioned in the schedule were purchased by Dr. McEachran and myself in the North West Territories, and a few in Montreal. They were all sound and in a healthy condition when purchased.

While in Ottawa ten percent developed colds, but recovered from the colds after treatment.

On Monday, 12th March, they were shipped from Ottawa, arriving at Halifax 16th March and immediately shipped on board S.S. "Monterey".

A number of horses were sent to the Veterinary Hospital by order of Dr. McEachran to be steamed. After having done this they were taken and put on board, and practically isolated from other horses.

After careful examination by Dr, McEachran and myself we found hardly anything wrong with them.

During the 18th and 19th. March a considerable number were attacked by seasickness on account of the rolling of the vessel.

Several died, as per numbers in attached schedule.

On the 19th. March pneumonia developed in a transport horse purchased in Montreal, Reg. No. 566, and on 20th. March it died. No doubt death was hastened by the rolling of the vessel.

My opinion was, and is, that the sudden change from a very dry climate to a damp moist atmosphere was the cause of the disease.

The ventilation was as good as could be had on board ship, and every possible care and attention was bestowed on the animals during the trip.

I has associated with me in care of the horses Quartermaster Farrier Sergeant McMillan, a certified Veterinary Surgeon as my assistant, and with him several practical horsemen who thoroughly understood the care and handling of horses.

These troopers, with their officers, were in constant attendance in the stable, feeding and caring for the horses during the voyage.

In addition to above, ten men and one non-commissioned officer were detailed daily to assist me."

Quartermaster Farrier Sergeant McMullin in his evidence stated that:-

"There was sufficient draught to cause pneumonia on the ship, but it was impossible to close this draught and secure sufficient air for the horses. Another cause, no doubt, was the horses having undergone the sudden change from a cold and dry climate to a warmer and moist climate. We have had all the assistance necessary for the proper feeding and care of the horses since they were put on board. I do not think it was possible to do more for the horses than was done. The conditions on board ship render it very difficult to treat horses from pneumonia properly. About eighty-five or ninety per cent of the horses were in my opinion affected with pneumonia. The stables were properly cleaned and disinfected daily."

W. W. Gunn, a Trooper in the force in his evidence stated that:-

"The hay and oats supplied to those horses was of good quality and a sufficient number of men were on duty to see that they were properly fed and watered".

April 26th. 1900:

Telegram from Montreal, stating that draft would sail from Montreal by S.S. 'Vancouver" on the first of May.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GREEN POINT CAMP

 

April 25th, 1900

 

Dear Lord Strathcona,

 

As I informed you last week I commenced the mounted drills, but owing to the condition of the horses and the fact that our parade ground is so close to the remounting station of this base, the Chief Staff Officer thought it best to discontinue them for the present. The drills have therefore been on foot this week, four hours per day being devoted to them. The time is divided between physical drill, manual and firing exercise, extended and squadron drills, as well as skirmishing.

On thursday last I received a request from General Hutton for scouts to be sent from this Regiment, and the following day the Chief Staff Officer enquired if we had any professional scouts in the ranks. I replied to the effect that there were no professional scouts in the Regiment, but that the majority of the men had spent years of their lives on the plains and were capable of taking care of themselves anywhere; [I did not approve of General Hutton making such a request or of meddling with the corps in any way, but] For my own information I asked for volunteers. When the men understood the question none of them volunteered. At first it was supposed that it was simply a number of special scouts that were going out to the front and that they would still belong to the regiment, but upon hearing that they would be transferred they refused to leave. This is a very good spirit and I am very glad that it turned out so.

There are 100 horses yet to be tested for glanders. So far ten cases have reacted to the test and were destroyed. By tomorrow night the testing will be completed and the remounts will be brought in without delay.

There is a considerable amount of sickness amongst the men, this morning's sick report showing 63 cases all told. Of course many of these are minor complaints and will not prevent them from going to the front. The change of water, and, in spite of strict warnings, the liberal use of fruit has caused many to go off duty with small complaints. As a matter of fact the majority are quite fit to go on.

In a conversation with the Base Commandant the day before yesterday he informed me that he was quite convinced that the other Canadian Mounted Regiments were sent up country much too soon, and I believe that such is the case as their horses are suffering very much. Ours are improving every day and are looking very well indeed.

The men's active service kits have been picked out, and they have been instructed as to how to fit them on the horse. Ammunition has been issued and as soon as the test for glanders is completed we will be ready to move. I am informed that a gentleman from Alberta stated in Liverpool to an agent of one of the officers here that the "Monterey" had glanders on board a short time before we embarked, and that he himself had lost several horses from this cause. I would suggest that an enquiry be made as if there was glanders on board this ship, there is no doubt that our horses caught it there.

The wagons provided in Canada for military purposes do not suit very well here. The other Canadian Regiments have handed theirs over to the Army Service Corps. It is my opinion that the military men should study the methods of civilians in the carriage and transport of large quantities of supplies -- such as the C.P.R. construction, etc. [- they would not be quite so quiet so far behind the age]. There is no doubt in my mind that the whole of the English carriages are too heavy. [and that the Canadian Militia Department is too eager to imitate them in this respect. The wagons supplied to us are at least 800-lbs. each too heavy. Ours were made in Woodstock and I sent an Officer down to inspect them, but he made no report, and before we arrived at Halifax they were packed away in the hold of the ship out of reach altogether. However they will be used here and we are being provided with substitutes.

 

I am,

Yours respectfully,

 

 

(Signed) S. B. STEELE, Lt. Col.

Commanding "Strathcona's Horse.

----------//----------

Note:

The report on the "Monterey" found not to be true. Notation in margin in Steele's own hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GREEN POINT CAMP

May 2nd. 1900

 

Dear Lord Strathcona,

 

The horses have been tested by the Veterinary Officers, and 47 have been destroyed. The balance are in splendid condition with the exception of 30, which will be turned into the Remounting Department and others taken in their place for the present.

"C" Squadron was sent out yesterday to Maitland and will select out of a large number of remounts necessary for the regiment. The Remounting Officer at Green Point wished to hand over 150 of the remounts, but upon examination it was found that they were small and in poor condition. I reported it to the Base Commandant with the result that we are to select from a large number of good horses which have been sent to Maitland.

With regards to the loss at sea. Two ships have come in within the last week, one which started with 500 horses lost 171 on the voyage. The other with something less than 500 lost 150 from pneumonia. It seems that the danger of catching it is very great.

"A" and "B" Squadrons are ready to start at a moments notice, but the column which we are to join is not ready to start. I am looking carefully after that, and will not permit of any delay if I can help it.

I see on reading some extracts from the Canadian and other papers, that we are spoken of as Mounted Infantry. We are not in any sense that. Very few of the men ever had any infantry drill, but were selected by your order for the purpose of scouting and doing any important work that experienced horsemen and good shots can do. I am well satisfied with them and believe that if they get an opportunity will give a good account of themselves. They are hard worked even here; from Reveille in the morning to dark, between drills, guards, picquets, attention to their horses and other duties they have not a moment to themselves. With a very few exceptions the conduct of the men has been most exemplary, and their appearance has excited the admiration of many experienced soldiers.

A steady improvement has been shown in the health of the men during the week. The number of cases of sickness have decreased by half. However, it has been found necessary to invalid two of the men, and they will be sent back to Canada probably on Friday next. Five cases more are now under consideration, and it is not at all unlikely that they will be pronounced unfit for active duty.

I regret to inform you that one of the men whom I mentioned in a previous report as suffering from an abscess on the neck, died at Woodstock Hospital on Wednesday last. The man showed symptoms of the trouble on the ship and on arrival here was placed in Hospital and operated upon, but it was of no avail and I received notification of his death as above stated. The immediate cause of his death was Pyaemia. The deceased was buried at Fort Knocknee Cemetery with full military honours on Thursday last.

I am,

Yours respectfully,

 

 

(Signed) S. B. STEELE, Lt. Col.

 

 

 

 

CAPE TOWN

May 2nd. 1900.

 

Dear Lord Strathcona,

In accordance with your cable transmitted to me through His Excellency the Governor, I beg to forward herewith the report of Lieut. Stevenson, Veterinary Officer, as to the mortality amongst the horses on the ship, and as to the accommodation on board.

I am,

Yours very respectfully,

(Signed) S. B. STEELE.

----------//----------

S T R A T H C O N A ' S H O R S E

May 2nd. 1900.

From The Veterinary Officer,

Strathcona's Horse

To The Commanding Officer.

Sir, -

I have the honour to make the following report regarding the horses on board the Transport Monterey.

I accompanied Dr. McEachran when he purchased the horses for Strathcona's Horse, and thoroughly inspected each and every one, and although they were not in a fat condition, they were fit for riding on the range, and in my opinion fit for shipping.

The horses were shipped to Ottawa where they remained until the 12th of March and the re-shipped to Halifax and loaded onto the ship on arrival of the trains. They were all loaded on the 16th of March and we sailed on the 17th. At the loading Dr. McEachran was present and I called his attention to several horses which he sent away for treatment. When they returned they were re-examined by Dr, McEachran and loaded in a part of the vessel set aside for that purpose with the exception of one which left behind on account of it being affected with Perpura.

The first few days the ship rolled considerably and several horses died of seasickness; following the seasickness an epidemic of pneumonia affected the horses and from this disease we lost a great number. Although every precaution was taken the disease seemed to spread until nearly every horse on the ship was affected -- at least from 85 to 90%.

The isolated ones were not the cause of the disease as they showed no symptoms, nor were they affected with the disease until the voyage was about half over. I held several post mortems and in every instance found the lungs very badly affected. In my opinion this disease was caused by the horses being brought, as they were, off the range where the mercury stood 35 to 40 degrees below zero, and dry climate to a damp and warmer one.

The ventilation on board ship was as good as could be had. There were several wind sails put in at different hatches, and this helped to keep the air pure below. Where the horses were the mercury stood for several days from 88 to 90 degrees above -- which was from one extreme to another. It was impossible to have all the horses at the wind sails, but they were being constantly moved and several were saved simply by moving them where they could get more air. This with stimulants and unremitting care saved a great number. I received all assistance that I required there being three officers with their men on duty night and day.

I was among the horses from morning till night and most every night till 12 or 2 o'clock. The rest of the time two or more of my assistants were constantly in attendance and if anything unusual occurred I was Immediately notified.

I have the honour to be,

Sir.

Your obedient servant.

(Signed) G. W. Stevenson, Lieut.

Veterinary Officer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GREEN POINT CAMP

May 9th. 1900

Dear Lord Strathcona,

I have very little to report this week further than the preparation of the 321 remounts is being carried along at Maitland. All the horses at Green Point are ready and in good condition, and "A" and "B" Squadrons parade mounted every day. The whole staff of Farriers and Shoeing smiths are employed at Maitland and the work is progressing as rapidly as circumstances will permit.

There seems to be some delay in the matter of transport. It has been decided that we are to carry with us 380 mules for pack purposes, and up to the present time there has been a scarcity of the animal at this base. I was advised last night that there are 1400 on ship board lying in the Basin ready to disembark, and that we are to have our mules from this lot.

In addition to the three Maxim guns furnished by you we are to have a Vicker-Maxim "Pompom" as well. Lieut. Magee and 8 men have been at Stellenbosch for two or three days getting instruction in the working of the gun. There are only 26 of these guns at the front and all in charge of experienced artillery men. The officer in charge of the depot was delighted with the smartness and intelligence of the men and stated that it was by far the best detachment that had yet received instruction from him.

Yesterday, in accordance with a Base Order, we proceeded to Beach House on a "Time March" in company with a regiment of Infantry and a Mule Battery. Other troops had gone by different routes and several regiments were on parade there. We were inspected by General Forestier-Walker and Staff and afterwards covered the retreat of the Infantry in a sham engagement. I was well satisfied with the conduct of the men.

 

I am.

Yours Respectfully

(Signed) S. B. STEELE, Lt. Col.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

S T R A T H C O N A ' S H O R S E

The Right Honourable,

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, G.C.M.G.,

17 Victoria Street, London

Green Point Camp

Cape Town, 16th May, 1900

Dear Lord Strathcona,

We are in a state of great suspense owing to the inaction of the authorities in sending us to the front. So far as we are concerned we have been in a position to send two Squadrons for the last three weeks. The whole regiment could have moved two weeks ago. The wait is very trying on the men who think, owing to the rapid advance of Lord Roberts, that we will not see the real service.

However, we are doing the best we can. The different drills and garrison duties the Regiment is called upon to perform are done willingly and well. During the week I instructed "A" and "B" Squadrons in "Advance" and Rear" guards. This necessitated a march out to the country suitable for the exercise. The men were delighted with the change. Os Saturday last, under orders from Base, "A" and "B" Squadrons joined "C" at Maitland, and there, under the Staff was put through different movements. The Regiment presented a fine appearance, and was favourably commented upon by the Officers present.

"C" Squadron is still at Maitland in charge of the remounts, and will remain there until we move to the front.

Yesterday the Transport Department handed over to us 21 waggons, 126 mules with a Conductor and Native drivers, together with the harness and equipment. In addition to this we are to get an ammunition pack train for the Maxim and Pom-Pom guns, but these will be given to us when it is decided to move.

The men on the whole are well, and the horses in first class condition.

I am,

Yours respectfully,

(Signed) S. B. STEELE

Lt. Col.

Commanding, Strathcona's Horse

CAPE TOWN

Cape Colony

16th. May 1900.

Dear Lord Strathcona,

I do not have muct to write about, but what little I have to say may be of interest. The Regiment has been, I find, detained here for a special operation in which no other will take part, and if successful no regiment can occupy a high place than Yours. If this is carried out we have at least the honour of having been selected for one of the most difficult operations in war. Ere you get this you will have a cable to the effect that we are off somewhere, but no news of what this is can get to you until we are off. No one but Lord Roberts and his Chief of Staff know what the duty is.

The Regiment is in first class order and holds a high place in the estimation of the army officers and citizens here. The new horses are very good but not quite equal to the Canadian. The latter are admitted to be the best in the country.

Hoping that we shall soon do credit to you, I am, dear Lord Strathcona,

Yours respectfully,

(Signed) S. B. STEELE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CAPE TOWN

22nd. May 1900.

Dear Lord Strathcona,

After weeks of inaction we are now under orders to start. We leave by sea for Natal as far as we know at present. We will not go at the same time. "A" and "C" Squadrons will leave on Thursday the 24th. by two ships. Major Belcher will be with "C" Squadron; Major Snider with "A". One Vickers Maxim (a Pom-Pom) and three other Maxims will go with those squadrons. When they land Major Belcher will take command and march up country. His force, consisting of 320 men 21 ten-mule wagons, 200 pack mules with packs, and 126 mules with guns - 536 mules in all, and 360 horses. Later on say, about the 28th. I will leave with "B" Squadron which is for the purpose made up of 200 Officers, N.C.O. an men, with the same number of horses, 200 pack mules and 100 pack ponies. No wagons or Maxims we will land and be joined by the others. Major Belcher's Command should be at its destination in 15 days after landing, and my Command meet his about the same date. I hope we shall do good work. We have been ready for a long time but have been held for this. We should on my humble opinion been sent before instead of being kept. There is no better corps in South Africa at the present time admitted by all of the people. Two Squadrons were ready as soon as the test for glanders was over.

I suppose I must not complain as it appears that we have been kept for special work.

There are about 16 men sick - one of them, dangerously ill, (dysentery). I am looking well after them, the Officers visiting every day permitted. One of these may die as he does not appear to bear up against it. Although we go on the 25th. I have to furnish men and squadrons for all parades and duties. We are well treated, but the "red tape" makes prompt work difficult. I had to purchase a complete lot of wire cutters, as ours were lost through falling overboard on being handed out by the Kaffirs. I have also got a supply of lassos as I find that the country through which we will go is of such a character that we may have to picket the horses our way and the men will need lessons. The horses too have broken away very often and had to be captured that way. In fact, I am sending men out all the time to catch mules and horses for the others; consequently I bought a supply for the regiment. I have has to get 200 pairs of La Crosse shoes for my party, for we have to move without noise if possible. They were 2/9 per pair and very suitable.

We are all anxious to do something, and give you cause for pleasure. In this cause you will, I hope, be gratified at the way we will do our work. The task will be the most difficult laid out for a party of scouts for a long time past.

Hoping that I will be able to give you good news, I am,

Yours respectfully,

(Signed) S. B. STEELE, Lt. Col.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

S T R A T H C O N A ' S H O R S E

Green Point Camp

Cape Town, 27th, May, 1900.

Dear Lord Strathcona,

On Tuesday last I received orders to move the Regiment to the front and in accordance there with "A" and "C" Squadrons, under Major Belcher embarked on Thursday on the S.S.'s "Chicago", "Mohawk" and "Maplemore", with all the transport and baggage.

Sufficient men were taken from "A" and "C" Squadrons to make up "B" up to a strength of 200 officers and men, and this Squadron will leave tomorrow morning on the S.S.'s "Wakool" and "Columbia".

Everything connected with this movement has been done with so much secrecy that it is impossible for me to tell you what our destination is, but it looks as though we will disembark somewhere in Natal.

The authorities here have given us a great amount of transport, consisting of 350 mules with 30 wagons, carts and a sufficient number of drivers. These went with the column under Major Belcher. Then there are 300 pack animals which will go with me tomorrow.

"B" Squadron has been fitted out for speed, carrying nothing but what can be carried on the saddle and person - the pack animals being for the ammunition. You will see by this that we have some special and important work at hand.

The men and horses are in excellent condition to undertake anything. The long delay here has been particularly trying on them. Lord Roberts' rapid advance has made them think that they would not see any real active service. But the delay has not been our fault. I am convinced that a plan for us was under consideration even before we arrived here but only matured a day or two ago when we got our orders to move. Whatever it is the whole Regiment will do its duty not only from patriotic moves but to do honour to yourself and Canada.

On Friday we furnished a party of 80 Officers and Men to take part in the Review in honour of Her Majesty's birthday. Over 2,000 troops were on parade and I was more than pleased with the splendid appearance of Strathcona's Horse. They marched past His Excellency the Governor like a wall and received a tremendous ovation, far grater than any of the other Regiments.

I will cable you tomorrow and will send you a full report frequently as we proceed.

I am,

Yours respectfully,

(Signed) S. B. STEELE, Lt. Col.

 

The Right Honourable Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.

 

S T R A T H C O N A ' S H O R S E

Durban

Natal

4th, June, 1900

Dear Lord Strathcona.

 

Since I last wrote we sailed for Kosi Bay on the East coast of the country. Escort of all the fleet was there when we arrived the day before yesterday. It was practicable to land, but a ship of war brought a message from the Consul General at Lorenzo Marquess to the effect that our expedition must have been blown upon for the enemy had strengthened themselves very much at several points. I made up my mind that it was impossible to carry out the object in view, secrecy being an important point and the Admiral and originator of the idea quite agreed with me. The object of the expedition was to surprise the party of the enemy at Komati Poort, blow up the bridge and maintain the position until Major Belcher and the rest of the Regiment could arrive to support us; it having turned out that our two hundred would have to face five hundred entrenched with wire entanglements and with 500 on our right and 500 on our left rear made it too risky - Lord Roberts thought it was a very difficult thing in the first instance but worse than impossible since it has been exposed. [It is really lamentable to think of the stupidity of some of the staff. Nothing can be secret.] It is not our fault, not an officer of mine knew from me where we were going. I am sending a telegram to the High Commr., suggesting that we go on some other useful service and expect to land to-day. We are in good order - the horses stand it well and are quite at home - The ship is much steadier than the "Monterey". We are sorry not to have yet done your honour, but hope to do so yet. The regt. is in fine condition.

Hoping that your Lordship is quite well,

I am,

Yours faithfully,

 

(Signed) S. B. STEELE.

The Rt. Hon. Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal,

17, Victoria Street, London.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

S T R A T H C O N A ' S H O R S E

TUGELA, Zululand

7th, June 1900.

Dear Lord Strathcona,

We could not land at Kosi Bay and came to Durban, disembarked with celerity and after some delay owing to Sir. R. Buller wanting to have us and Lord Roberts preferring that we should make an attempt to carry out the original scheme which is now one requiring great endurance, caution and dash or it cannot succeed. Lord Roberts thinks it very difficult, and we will have to prove that we deserve his confidence. The transport in this country is the great trouble; everything is run by negroes and basutos are the drivers, and are a great nuisance. The numbers of animals used in the wagons far too many; ten mules required to haul the load of a Canadian four horse team and very much slower. The oxen, wretched inbred brutes, I must leave them behind and push on as best I can and trust to getting them again.

We are all sorry that we have not been employed but the jealousy of civilians shewn by some of the military kept the affairs have kept the regt. in abeyance until it will be ten times more difficult and dangerous than ever.

I have good guides who are well known loyal Englishmen, so I fear nothing on that score.

You will excuse this scrawl as have no table.

Respectfully yours,

(Signed) S. B. STEELE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

S T R A T H C O N A ' S H O R S E

ESHOWE, Zululand.

12th. June 1900.

Dear Lord Strathcona,

Since writing you this a.m. I have at last received definite orders to join Sir R. Buller who has still got fighting to do, and has been so anxious to get us. I have to send the wagons and mules to Tugela there to take the train to Newcastle, while I march with the Regiment to Durban by road, and entrain there for the same place. The pack transport to go with us. The distance is about 90 miles and we make Tugela our first day. The horses have been grazing to-day for the first time since they left Canada and enjoyed it very much. The march here, even if a mistake, has done us all good, and the one to Durban will do us no harm.

My letters to you must be confusing to you for we have been moved in so many directions. So many things have happened and so many have been ordered and not taken place that I fear you may have been wearied. I have impressed upon Major Belcher that in the event of anything happening to me, he will be in command and must keep you well informed of the movements of the regiment which I feel so honoured in commanding.

The sick in Durban and Cape Town, most of them through falls from their horses, some of which ere very fresh indeed, have careful attention.

I hope that the draft coming out to join us at once so that we make as strong a front as possible. We are 513 strong at present, which is as we are all mounted, more than any regiment of cavalry as they have so many dismounted men.

Lieut. Ketchen is acting Paymaster, and has all of the accounts of funds sent by you to Cape Town. Part of it is in the Standard Bank in Durban, and the rest in Cape Town. All accounts are correct.

I will not weary you any longer, further than to say that I hope we shall do honour to your corps.

Yours respectfully,

(Signed) S. B. STEELE

S T R A T H C O N A ' S H O R S E

ESHOWE, Zululand

12th. June 1900.

Dear Lord Strathcona,

I made this place in two good marches in half a day less than expected. The regiment in excellent condition. The country is very like the foot hills of the Rockies, but higher with deep ravines, and lots of Zulu kraals on all sides. All the natives cheered us.

When I got here I was much disgusted to find that a telegram had followed me ordering the suspension of the operation until further orders. [and I am waiting to see what other thing they will do with us while shop boys and inferior horsemen are sent to the front].

The men are in fine spirits. [and it will be a shame not to let them go on. It is all military jealousy. Lord Roberts wants it done, but others throw obstacles in the way]. Sir R. Buller wants us with him. [but between them we will go nowhere at all]. I have worked hard to bring the Regiment into a good state of discipline, and am sure I have succeeded. Harmony exists to the most extent.

I will not weary you with any more, and will cable if anything new.

Hoping that you are well, I am,

Yours, sincerely,

(Signed) S. B. STEELE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Standerton

Transvaal,

June 26th, 1900.

The Right Honourable Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

High Commissioner for Canada

17, Victoria Street, London

Dear Lord Strathcona,

I reported on my return to Durban from Kossi Bay.

We disembarked on the 7th and the following day entrained for Lower Tugela and joined "A" and "C" Squadrons there on the 10th. The next day under orders from Lord Roberts the whole Regiment marched for Eshowe reaching there early in the afternoon of the second day. I immediately commenced to re-arrange my transport to suit the rough country after leaving the waggon trails, and while doing so received orders on the 12th to return to Durban, the transport train from the Tugela and the Regiment by road took three days march. I started early on the morning of the 13th, and reached Durban on the evening of the 15th. There I found orders to entrain the next day for Newcastle which place we reached on Sunday evening. On Tuesday morning we marched for Zand Spruit to join Lord Dundonald's 3rd Mounted Brigade - General Buller's advance. We joined him on Wednesday, the 20th. The next day the column made a short march, remaining at Paardekop over night, leaving for Standerton on Friday.

So far the Regiment has not fired a single shot but from the look of things it will not be long before we have an action.

General Wolfe-Murray at Newcastle and General Buller on the march from Zand Spruit expressed themselves well pleased by the looks of the Regiment, noticing particularly the physique of the men and the splendid appearance of the Canadian Horses. The horses have stood the long marches and indifferent fodder remarkably well.

General Cleary's Corps is here, and under orders from him the Regiment is out on patrol to-day, some 15 miles to the South called Katspruit, where the enemy was reported to be at 11 o'clock last night.

I have the honor to be,

Sir,

Your obedient servant

(Signed) S. B. STEELE, Lt. Col.

Commanding "Strathcona's Horse"

Edited by QSAMIKE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike - post 46 should be compulsory reading for anyone travelling in Africa.

The Basuto drivers' are a great nuisance.

The oxen - are wretched inbred brutes

The military were jealous of the civilians.

Oh ! and his final note - no table to write-on

I congratulate you on persevering with this splendid series of reports and observations. Brian and I have left it pinned,

the interest from Members is growing as they realise that this day by day report of a Canadian Regiment in a foreign

and difficult Country like South Africa - is an almost unique account. Mervyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank You Mervyn.....

Will keep posting all that I have...... There are some gaps, even the regiment does not know where they are......

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×