Two of our most valiant field-cornets, P. Myburgh and J. Cevonia, an Italian Afrikander, were sent to the left, past Helvetia, with 120 men, to attack Zwartkoppies the moment we were to storm Helvetia, while I kept in reserve the State Artillerists and a field-cornet's posse of Lydenburgers to the right of the latter place, near Machadodorp, which would enable me to stop any reinforcements sent to the other side from that place or from Belfast.
On the whole, the Field-cornet's life is not a happy one; and although he has numerous opportunities of making himself objectionable and disagreeable, he usually prefers to perform his onerous duties in a humble and unassuming spirit. In times of peace those duties are few.
They could only fire one or two shots, for our burghers soon put out of action the artillerists who were serving them. Towards the afternoon some of my burghers began to run short of ammunition, I had a field-cornet's force in reserve, from which five to ten men were sent to the position from time to time, and this cheered the burghers up again.
It is however stipulated that children born in the country shall take the status of their fathers. The naturalized subject after having been qualified to vote in this manner for two years becomes eligible for a seat in the Second Volksraad i.e., four years after the registration of his name in the Field-cornet's books. This was the coping-stone to Mr. Kruger's Chinese wall.
They had moulded a new set of balls of harder material, solder it should have been, but they had none. They chanced, however, to be in possession of what served the purpose equally well the old "plate" that had often graced the field-cornet's table in his better byegone days of the Graaf Reinet.
But the wagon was almost as good as ever it had been, almost as good as when it used to be the envy of the field-cornet's neighbours, the boers of Graaf Reinet. Nothing was broken. Everything was in its place, "voor-kist," and "achter-kist," and side-chests.
It began with a night attack on a field-cornet's force posted at Kruger's Post, north of Lydenburg, and here the enemy succeeded in capturing 35 men and a quantity of "impedimenta;" the field-cornet in question, although warned in time, having taken no proper precautions. By the middle of April the enemy's forward movement was in full swing.
Upon the "karoos" of Africa there are crack shots and sterling hunters, as well as in the backwoods or on the prairies of America. Curving round under the field-cornet's left arm, and resting against his side, was an immense powder-horn of such size as could only be produced upon the head of an African ox.
The Field-Cornets as much as possible settle the differences between the inhabitants of their districts, and prevent the bringing of processes. For this end every one is entitled to summon for this purpose the person with whom he is at variance at a time to be fixed by the Field-Cornet. The Field-Cornet's costs shall be paid by the parties according to a tariff.
If the Field-Cornet and Landrost and Commandant refuse to grant such certificate or to sign it, the applicant may appeal to the Executive Council. If the Field-Cornet's books are destroyed or lost the applicant shall prove to the satisfaction of the State Secretary and State Attorney, by means of affidavits, that he was registered.