Dec. 8, 1899.
Editor Courier -
Dear Sir, - Although I am writing now the mail does not leave until next Wednesday. We left De Aar about 5.30 a.m. yesterday arrived here at 11.45. We lay around in the sand until about 8 p.m. waiting for tents. While the tents were being put up a terrible thunderstorm broke over here and we were all soaked to the skin. The Brantford boys are all well and the troops in general are in good spirits. While writing I am sitting close to the burying ground where General Joubent's son and nephew are buried. One of the Gordon Highlanders shot at Modder river was buried with military honors at 6 o'clock this morning. The band of the Shropshire regiment played the funeral march. It was a very impressive scene. The few band instruments I had were left at Capetown and I am doing bugle-major's duty. The officers are carrying rifles some as the men. In fact, there is no distinction whatever. All badges of rank have to be torn off. We may advance at any moment. Two of the Shropshire regiment were shot by their own sentry last night because they did not give the proper countersign. We are existing on biscuits and canned meat. The drinking water is very muddy and looks like soap-suds, but we must drink it or go thirsty. All the clothing we have is one shirt, one pair socks and an overcoat. Everything else was left at the base - Capetown. The Australians left here a few hours before we arrived and the Gordons left a couple of hours after we arrived. We have scouts out for about 10 miles all round and it is expected a battle will take place to-day or to-morrow. There is practically no sickness among our boys and we are anxious to get at the enemy and the opportunity may come at any moment. The sun is intensely hot and we should not object to a little Canadian snow. One of our companies is going out by rail for fifteen miles, provisioned for three days. It is supposed they are going to some point to guard a bridge. the track was torn up a few miles from here yesterday, otherwise I think we should have gone to Modder River. There are all kinds of reptiles here. One of our men has just killed a snake fully four feet in length and they are exhibiting it around the camp. There are lizards by the thousands. There are also a number of ostriches and some of our boys got close enough yesterday to pluck some feathers. Everything is very dear here. We have 131 mules and twelve wagons and carts for our transport - 165,000 rounds of ammunition and the men are carrying 120 rounds each. The baboon [?] section left here this morning.
Saturday, December 9
We received orders at 5 a.m. to proceed to Belmont and we arrived here by rail at 11.45. We are now on the ground where the battle of Belmont was fought. There are lots of dead Boers and horses around that have not been buried. The Gordons left here just before we arrived and the Australians are here and will leave to-morrow. we shall probably follow. The station here is riddled with bullets and there are many indications of the recent battle. We left a lot of mail at Orange river as we had to pull out before it was distributed. Will write again at first opportunity. We do not get much time for writing.