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16 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 15 Jun 1900

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The copyright of this material belongs to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. It is available for reuse under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial license.

[FS/2/2/4/2/16] (1)

15 June 1900

[[1]] [First half of page missing]

A few days ago Grierson (Kitchener’s right hand man) told me he was going suddenly to commandeer the whole town for horses & to help this by supply V/O’s etc for examining them.

It was done suddenly at 1 o’Clock[sic] every horse ridden or driven was stopped, soldiers at

[[2]] [Continuation of page missing] not think it can be overlooked & it possibly [sentence continuation obstructed by pasted corner] promotion — but suppose that promotion took me to India! In that case we would be worse off than ever. However it might take me home through where I have no idea excepting it be Dublin in which case joy & rapture. I would put in my Three

[FS/2/2/4/2/16] (2)

[[1]] land for the purpose lent willing help to take them out of harness etc & tie them up in spite of all remonstrance. Fares were left sitting in their cabs unable to proceed, carts left in the streets without horses, even a hearse was commandeered on its way back from a funeral & both horses taken, by night we secured about 200, but we do not steal them we give receipt for their value & this not being done at the time owing to the hurry[.] for three days I held a pandemonium of enraged owners asking for receipts, others unable to find their horse & so on. I was glad when it was over but I had one little ex-perience[sic], two enraged ladies turned up with a written order from Lord Roberts to return their horses, one was Mrs Commander General Botha[1] the other Mrs General Lucas Meyer[2]. To make matters worse we could only find one horse belonging to Mrs Meyer, whereas we had taken two. I shall never forget the look of scorn & disdain with which she put Lord Roberts order into my hand, remarking that her position as

[[2]] a defenceless woman had been taken advantage of to take her horses away & so on, I did not pay too much attention for she was not the first woman by many who had visited me that day but most of them were quiet & in tears, she was furious & showed it. When I learned who my distinguished visitors were I unbent, of course we apologised for our soldiers having taken the property of two such distinguished Generals, that no stone should be left unturned to find the horse etc etc & the hope she would accept the assurances of my profound considerations. But after a long search it became evident that only one of the horses could be found & I had to break the news to her, at the same moment a happy thought struck me & that was to offer her another & I did so, asking whether there was any other horse she would select in its place, for the first time her face relaxed & looking at me she said in a half incredulous manner, Yes I should like that one — Then, I said, Madam please regard him as yours! But do you really mean it she said smiling sweetly

[[3]] I never was more serious in my life I replied, & in case he does not suit you take another, in fact I will send you up two & you can take your choice.

The victory was won, we talked chatted she came & sat down in a tent with us we sent for her carriage & parted the best of friends.

To day[sic] I made my offered call to know which horse she preferred, she hesitated to ask me in & I chatted to her in the verandah, she then apologised & said what would the people of Pretoria say if she the wife of a Republican General was seen entertaining a British Officer against whom her husband was fighting! I said that but for that remark I had intended paying both Mrs Botha & herself  a formal visit but that for the present I must postpone the pleasure & in this way we chatted for the best part of half an hour, during which time Roberts with Baden Powel[3] rode past (B.P. had just that moment arrived from Mafeking[)]. He returned my salute with it possible extra courtesy knowing not only a lady was there, but who she was for her house is next to his. So all is well that

[[4]] ends well Mrs L Meyer had found at least one British officer who treats her with consideration her idea was that we are all brutes & full of condescension .

There is a little boy by her husbands previous marriage, she told him to repeat his creed to me, it was to the effect that he would wage war against & shoot all Englishmen until his country was free again I told him the sentiment was excellent & in return I would come & play with him at horses in the garden the first spare day I had. She is as bitter as gall & would have liked to enter into a long discussion on the war, she said you are simply fighting for the gold & the Capitalists, I replied no Mrs Meyer the question is a much narrower one that[sic] that, we are fighting to decide who is to be the ruling race in South Africa the English or the Dutch. Still in spite of our differences in political faith we shall get on well together I am sure & I hope to see more of her & Mrs Botha before I leave Pretoria, they are certainly very interesting people to meet. She complained that Black & White[4]

[FS/2/2/4/2/16] (3)

[[1]] Had described her husband as a Hungarian Jew & over this she was most indignant. Still when I come to look at her she in not Dutch, she is spare & tall with a good figure which no Dutch woman has, they have fat round faces big bust & tummy, she has a long narrow face & a suggestively long nose. On the whole though she impressed upon me that she was born in the colony & was therefore originally a British subject she is somewhat Jewish in appearance & her hair is black

 

[Continuation of page missing]

[[2]] fate would put him under me especially as I was on the Natal side & he on the colony show.

We have a big hospital here being badly run by young [Name redacted] lately a prisoner, he tries but has no sense or go [3 lines redacted]. I hear Rayment is sick at Wynberg with dysentery. I am sorry to learn it. Matthews is still at Bloemfontein I keep him posted up as well as possible, but only got my wire off to him to night[sic] relative to Pretoria affairs owing to [Continuation of page missing]

[No Valediction]

(Please note that work on this transcript is ongoing. Users are advised to study the electronic images of this document where possible)

(https://rcvsvethistory.org//archive-collection/fs-working-papers/)

[1] Annie Emmett, wife of General Louis Botha (1862-1919), commander-in-chief of the Transvaal Boers, and leader of a guerrilla campaign against British forces

[2] Petronella Burger, wife of Lucas Johannes Meyer (1846-1902), President of the Nieuwe Republiek from 1884 to 1888

[3] Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, (1857 – 1941), was a British Army officer, writer, author of Scouting for Boys, founder and first Chief Scout of The Boy Scouts Association and founder of the Girl Guides.

[4] Black and White: A Weekly Illustrated Record and Review was a British periodical founded in 1891. It merged with The Sphere in 1912.

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17 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 15 Jul 1900

Terms of Use
The copyright of this material belongs to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. It is available for reuse under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial license.

[FS/2/2/4/2/17]

15 July 1900[1]

Pretoria

1900

[No Salutation]

[[1]] They told me some curious stories last night of life in Pretoria before we arrived. They had the life of the devil, there were all sorts of secret societies formed for the purpose of finding out the political opinions of people even the women formed a detective society & gave information to the State. They related then an account of the meeting held by the Amazons of Pretoria before we came in. The women met & demanded to be armed the meeting was at 4pm  & most of the ladies were in evening dress & generally very low. They would allow no men to be present as they laughed at them, Mrs Meyer[2] & Mrs Botha[3] (pronounced Bota) were present

They tell me Mrs [1 word illeg] Meyer is a very disappointed woman, she is most ambitious & hoped one day to be Mrs President when she openly gave out she would [1 word struck through, illeg.] lead the fashion & show them how to dress. Poor thing! so long as we are here (& we have come to stay) she will take a back seat. It is rather curious how the extremes meet, the other day a hospital was opened the Palace of Justice having been converted into one. Lord R[4] opened it & signed his name in the book, then Lady R (who is here) did the same, then Mrs Botha & then Mrs Meyer. At the same moment firing was going on

[[2]] to the north of town & Botha & Meyer were giving us a hiding.

in[sic] that engagement Connelly of the Greys[5] & Pilkington of the Royals[6] were killed. I knew them both. Pilkington had been at my Field hospital only a day or two before for over a week looking after men. He had been captured in Natal & had been a prisoner for months. He reminded me that we watched together the first days fight on Spion Kop or where he lent me his telescope. Poor fellow he was very young barely 20 I should think. I told you of a similar case last week in Hobb’s brother.

You once spoke of Mrs Paul at W/wich[7] being well turned out. Paul is here, lives in a tent in the next compound to ours — he is a very good looking man & I think you said she was a handsome woman.

I forgot to send you [words redacted] picture, but I will do by this mail. I have carried it for you for weeks. Plenty of Cattle disease here. Pleuro-pneumonia has broken out again & I am busy inoculating some 4000 cattle. I hope they will do well. I have met the V.S to the Transvaal Govt. but I think I told you of this in my last[8]. He is a Swiss we have engaged him on the Police[?] & I think he will be true to him self[sic]. He is a very decent fellow & a scientist.

[No Valediction]

 

 

(Please note that work on this transcript is ongoing. Users are advised to study the electronic images of this document where possible. (https://rcvsvethistory.org//archive-collection/fs-working-papers/)

[1] Annotation in pencil – possibly added at a later date

[2] Petronella Burger, wife of Lucas Johannes Meyer (1846-1902), President of the Nieuwe Republiek from 1884 to 1888

[3] Annie Emmett, wife of General Louis Botha (1862-1919), commander-in-chief of the Transvaal Boers, and leader of a guerrilla campaign against British forces

[4] Lord Roberts {1832-1914), Field Marshal and overall commander of the British forces in the Second Boer War

[5] Possibly Royal Scots Greys cavalry regiment

[6] Possibly First Royal Dragoons

[7] Woolwich, where the Royal Artillery Barracks were located.

[8] Arnold Theiler (1867-1936)

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18 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, Aug 1900

Terms of Use
The copyright of this material belongs to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. It is available for reuse under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial license.

[FS/2/2/4/2/18]

Kroonstad

1900

[No Salutation]

[[1]] I see Churchill is home, & other correspondents & men I knew out here. I cannot tell you how envious it makes one. Watson Cheyne[1] the surgeon practically lived in  our mess at Pretoria & by this time he has been home some weeks & living on the fat of the land. What would I not give to exchange places with him for a week. In one of the service papers I saw a letter from an old officer complaining that men in rude health were walking about London playing polo etc after being invalided from S. Africa & suggesting that they had better return & give others an opportunity for a change who had never missed a day’s duty. I quite agree with the old gentleman

I have bought a soldiers suit of Khaki serge from the Ordnance price 18/- most excellent. Hallet & I are putting on it a roll collar, outside pockets & cuffs to make it look an officers serge. At first he said it could not be done, but having got a bit of serge I cut out paper patterns finally got it right & to day[sic] we have put the roll collar on & it looks ripping, to morrow[sic] the pockets go on. I told Hallet to bring out his sewing

[[2]] machine & to my surprise he said Oh it wont[sic]  work. I told him I would soon make it. He then produced a thing which must have come out of the Ark, no handle & delightfully rusty. I had no idea he possessed a machine, so he must have thought me the very devil incarnate to have divined one was in his possession. It is a bit of loot he found in this house.

Well he worked for the best part of a week to get the thing going & failed. With great luck I had it going in less than ten minutes after starting with it, I fancy he thinks I am “terrible clever”. Well about the jacket, you shall see what excellent pockets & collar I have cut. I always told you that if I had a pattern I could make a dress. I am now positive of it. I laboured in paper until I got the thing right & then cut out my stuff. Its great luck getting the serge to make the Collar etc with, & this serge has a history. My clerk ‘save the mark’ the ‘Orish’[sic] gentleman who poses as my clerk but does nothing more clerkly than grease

[[3]] my boots & go to the telegraph office with messages was a short time ago taken prisoner with a convoy. The Boers robbed the convoy & carted the prisoners over the Free State, but before leaving the waggon[sic] which contained clothing my faithful boot greaser helped himself to a bale of serge cloth the sort of useful thing a soldier loots & having carried it for scores of miles  & subsequently being recaptured by us plus the serge, he gave it to another man for a pillow — Hearing I wanted serge he went for the pillow & I have a lovely bale of the stuff the exact colour of my coat & overalls. I am also using it as a pillow, for I have no intention of parting with that serge. Oh my boot greaser is a ripper I think I told you he was copying a report for me in which I used the expression [“]We cannot make Bricks without straw[“]. He copied it “We cannot make drinks without shame”. I think this is quite capable of capturing the historic biscuit! Its the unconscious nature of Irish humour which is so delightful.

[[4]] 30 Augst. Well it poured with rain for hours. This morning is fine, but the hospital is a sight, tents blown down mud over a foot in thickness & everything as miserable as possible the — dry bed of the river I cross every day is a rushing torrent — I find I cant cross water moving quickly across one’s front without getting giddy — I could feel my horse going round & round in a circle, the horses in front of me were doing the same & though I did not feel sick in the least I felt very uncomfortable. Had the water been deep it would be very risky.

The rain has washed the railway away in several places & traffic is quite suspended. I have just copied poor D’s letter. I have left out two words for obvious reasons. How strange his last sentence now reads “Farewell — till we meet again”. I met General Sir A. Hunter[2] to night[sic], I went there to have some tea with King. He is a man of very few words. Absurdly young looking for a Lt General. Looking through the illustrated papers he said as he came to the Adverts “When this campaign is over I think I’ll stand myself a dressing bag”. Strange a man in his position & a bachelor not having one!

[No Valediction]

 

 

(Please note that work on this transcript is ongoing. Users are advised to study the electronic images of this document where possible. (https://rcvsvethistory.org//archive-collection/fs-working-papers/)

[1] Sir William Watson Cheyne, 1st Baronet, (1852 –1932) was a Scottish surgeon and bacteriologist, served during the Boer War as a consulting surgeon for the British military in South Africa from 1900 to 1901.

[2] General Sir Archibald Hunter, GCB, GCVO, DSO, TD (1856 – 1936) was a senior officer in the British Army who distinguished himself during the Boer War

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