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2 corrections, most recently by peter-macinnis - Show corrections

Letters from Tasmanians.

TROOPER R. M'INNES.

Another interesting letter has been re- ceived from Trooper R. M'Innes, of Nook, by his relatives, The following are ex- tracts:     Zeerust. August 28. — I wrote my last

letter under fire, for in our first fight with General Carrington it was a bit monoto nous shooting at Boers we could not see and who could not hit a house at close range if they tried, so I got behind a rock and wrote letters. There are a few Boers who can shoot pretty straight, but they are very few indeed; my experience has   been that tho stray shots fired at random do as much damage as any others. We had about 10 days at Ottoshoop, and there was a bit of shooting every day. On the first day after reaching there from Mafeking there was a general engage- ment, and the Boers suffered heavily, as they did on two other occasions when the big guns took part in the 'scraps.' Our   last fight was about four days ago, and one of our men, Jacson, a married man and about the oldest man in the contin- gent, was shot through the head, dying instantly; another, named Douglas, is missing since the fight, ind it is supposed he was taken prisoner. We left the day after the fight with several guns and about 500 men to escort 40 wagons loaded with stores for Lord Methuen, who is at Zeerust with about 10,000 troops. We

took a by-road and got through without any fighting, reaching Zeerust at midday yesterday, after a forced march of about 25 miles, travelling all night. About 50 of us are on outpost duty on a big kopje near the town, and the rest of our troops left this morning. I think they are on their way back. There are a lot of Boers between here and Mafeking under De La Rey and Lemart. We killed one of their leaders, supposed to be named Botha, in our first fight at Ottoshoop. I think we accounted for about 150 casualties on the Boer side, while we lost barely a dozen killed, perhaps 20 wounded, and about half a dozen taken by the Boers, most of whom were released by Lord Methuen when he entered Zeerust. The Boers are using poisoned and explosive bullets as well as dum-dums, and make, liberal use of the white flag ; we have samples of them now that we got out of a Boer's kit. They don't bother about taking the Tom- mies captive, generally letting them go again if taken in small numbers, as they say they can catch Tommy just when they like, and I don't doubt it, for a great   many of them get lost if they leave the main road and are just as likely as not to wander into the Boer camp as their own. But the Boers say that the men with the ostrich feathers (emu feathers) and the men with kangaroo feathers are the ones they want; they are frightened of the   Australians, who can beat them at their own game, and they will show us little mercy if they catch us. Some of our leaders hamper us very much, for a great many of them are not bushmen, and others have no more brains than rabbits, and only harrass the men; and when it   comes to fighting, some of them lose their   head, and, I am sorry to say, act the coward. A strong party went out about six miles last night with big guns to Botha's farm,: where the Boers are en- trenched, shelling their position; this morning I can hear, the guns as I write. We are using severe measures now, wiping off everything as we go— cattle, sheep, horses, and everything movable — as it seems to be the only way to stop the war, for the Boers get their supplies from these places as they go along. After the war is   over the Boers will suffer more, for famine will set in ; there will be no crops and no stock, and the game is nearly all done in the Transvaal. We are all well and fit for anything, and in the last 'scrap' Captain Riggall was given great praise for himself and men for their good pluck and showing they know how to fight. I think we will wipe these Boers out soon, and then we will be off out. of this darned place. ?Later— A little bit more, for I could not post the letter at Zeerust, as the Boers werp between us and Mafeking. We aro

now :;oaoK as unosnnop, ana uora me thuen and his army have gone to Mafe king to refit, a few hundreds of us being kept here till he comes back, and then we we will most likely join Ih'iti and march through to Pretoria. Tbe war is prac tioally over, and the Boers are scattered and broken up. A column of Lord Mothuen's is chasing them up and we can hear artillery fire away to the south, where I think another column is giving them a stirring up. Our left flanking party, partly Tassies, camo into contact with about 100 Boers about three miles from here as we were coming in last night, and one horse -was -killed and Bob^law son's horse wounded for the second time ; no men wero hit, 'and Captain Riggoll acted .very coolly while a lieutenant, in company with another, lad' a retreat ia Melbaurno Cap style', coming in an easy winner by sevirnl lengths. We have little chance of making a name for our selves with such Ieaders. The big guns then got into position and placed a few shalls among tho Boors, Ecittoring thorn in all directions, and I think a few lost the number of -? their magi. Doug'as, tho missing man of our troop, was brought in here while we wero at Zeerust badly wounded, a Mauser bullet having entered his shoulder and gono.tho cntiro length of his body, coming out at the hip ; ht was very close to the Boers when shot. They looked after him -well for a few days, and thensent into Otto3hoop for an ambulance; ht'is likely to recover, while the other mon, J. Coleinan. (of Sheffield) and two others, aro doing well at Kimberley. This is a fearfully dirty place, wind, dust, and no shelter moling it anything but a Paradise ; you should sen us aftor a road march 1 A convoy' is going into' Mafe king to-night, and I must try and get this posted there.

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