April 27, 1900
I received your letters and newspapers all OK and I assure you that the reading of them was the most pleasant pastime that I indulged in since leaving the Cape. I postponed writing until I had something interesting to write, but I must not delay longer as it is two weeks since receiving your first letter. I wrote Sandy Frazer a letter and mailed it before disembarking from the Milwaukee, and I got his about a week later.
Well after nearly a month on the great ocean, you can imagine how glad I felt to be once more on land. On arriving at the Cape, we found Table(?) Bay completely studded with transports and ships whose masts made the bay appear not unlike a thick forest.
We stopped in Cape Town a short time during which we had the honor to be chosen to escort a large number of Boer prisoners to the transport which would carry them to St. Helena. B squadron left Cape Town a day before us, and C and D were already at the front. So A was alone since starting for Bloemfontein.
Cape Town is a very clean and pretty city of one hundred thousand population. English money and language is used entirely. Our squadron took the train to Bethulie on the Orange River, and from there marched as an escort of a large transport of mules and goods to Bloemfontein. Our orders on march were to search all dwellings and shoot or take prisoners of all able-bodied men who carried arms or concealed ammunition, and those without papers or passes which allowed them to go home to their family or occupation.
I will give you a list of towns and sidings we pass so that you can map our route to the front. Cape Town, Stellenbosch on Durban Rd, Orange River in which I had a good swim, Bethulie, Springfontein, Karlsfontein, Jagersfontein, Krugers siding, Edenburg, Bethany, Kaffir(?) River and Bloemfontein on April 22nd -- so you were not far out in your guess.
We have not joined our battalion as yet but I believe the whole of the colonial forces will be mobilized under one command, that of Lord Roberts, very shortly. Our squadron was inspected by the great "Bobs" yesterday and he told us in his speech after our marchpast, that he was proud to have the Canadians under his command. More countrymen of those whose distinguished conduct at Paredeburg (?) and other places, could not have been better.
Occasionally we can hear the boom of guns in the distance, and we hope to soon march forward with Lord Roberts's command to forever crush the enemy of liberty and justice from South African soil.
I hope to be able to meet your brother Jim, as I would like to know him. And no doubt, he would like to see someone from near his home. He has, no doubt, been under more fire than a veteran of many wars against uncivilized nations.
I was shocked to hear of the club's fire and it is a great pity our English four-oared shell was destroyed, as I don't think its equal can be found in Canada. I am glad one of your banners was saved at least. It seems too bad that so little was saved. You might give me more particulars of any reorganization scheme afoot in your next letter. I see by the paper that the Ottawa men won most of the championships. Well I hope the Toronto crew got a fair show but I am a little skeptical in the case of Fred Russell. The mining news is very interesting and I expect to see a boom in prices that will eclipse all records.