Whether this would be a prudent plan for the Boers depends upon their numbers, and if they are strong enough they might combine both plans. It is, however, by no means certain that Lord Dundonald is unable to prevent the Boers from crossing the Blaauwbank Spruit.
The object of that movement was generally believed to be an attack oh Blaauwbank, or Rifleman's Hill, as it is officially called, and the capture of a Boer battery there, from which our defensive lines between King's Post and Cove Redoubt had been repeatedly enfiladed.
Major Marling may have begun to take that view too when he saw a white flag showing above the serrated crest of Rifleman's Ridge, which is generally but too vaguely described as Blaauwbank, where the Boers have at least one powerful field-gun mounted.
The damage, whatever it may have been, inflicted on "Long Tom," or his crew, having been made good under cover of a white flag, which the Boers seem to think they are at liberty to use whenever it suits them, Rietfontein called to Bulwaan, and Blaauwbank in the west echoed the dull boom that came from the distant flat-topped hill in the east.
Near the northern apex rises the Blaauwbank River, which flows eastward towards Ladysmith along the foot of an east and west range, a spur from the Drakensberg mountains jutting out so as to separate the Van Reenen's road and valley from the valley followed by the Acton Homes Ladysmith road. When Warren crossed the river he found the western half of the crescent held by the enemy.
This incident showed clearly enough that no news had come from Colenso to give our enemies confidence. Few of us, however, were prepared for the sight that met our eyes as we looked from Observation Hill across the broad plain towards Blaauwbank when the mists of morning cleared. There we saw Boer convoys trekking northward from the Tugela past Spion Kop in columns miles long.
As the sun was setting in clouded splendour behind Mount Tinwa's noble crags and peaks, throwing their dark shadows across the lower hills near us, a flash so quick, that it could hardly be seen, darted from out the gloom there, and with the crashing report that followed came a shell plump into one of our most crowded camps. This was evidently from a gun newly mounted on Blaauwbank.
The ridge, however, was being shelled by the enemy's guns from Middle Hill and Blaauwbank with such accuracy that many of our men were wounded by that fire, but not a Boer was hit, though the fighting lines were less than 100 yards apart.
General Hamilton, however, seeing that risks must be taken, or the Gordons would be in perilous plight, sent two companies of Rifles forward in succession, but smitten in front by artillery fire from Middle Hill and Blaauwbank, while their flanks were raked by rifle bullets, they halted and took such cover as could be found among small stones.
His big guns opened again presently from Blaauwbank and Rietfontein to the west and north. A smaller battery on Long Hill echoed the deep boom from "Long Tom," who was carrying on a duel with our naval gun, and throwing shells over the town, to burst very near Sir George White's headquarters.