The Orange Free State was almost entirely in your hands, not only as regards the principal townships, railway lines and villages, but also the whole country, except where Commandant Hasebroek was, with his commando. And in the South African Republic the situation was very similar.
As the commandos were now so scattered there was enough work for each of us in his own district, and I had much more riding to do than formerly. I found Commandant Hasebroek and his men at Doornberg a few days later.
I crossed the railway line between Smaldeel and Ventersburg Road Station, and after paying Commandant Hasebroek a short visit, I came back to the Heilbron commando.
They proved to be burghers sent by General Piet Fourie, who was with Prinsloo at the time of his surrender. These burghers brought from Generals Fourie, Froneman, and from Commandant Hasebroek and others, a fuller report of the surrender of Prinsloo. We learnt from the report that not all of the burghers had surrendered, but that, on the contrary, some two thousand had escaped.
Of Major Massey, who was in command, and his force, consisting of parts of the Gloucestershire regiment, the Highland Light Infantry, and the Irish Rifles, five hundred all told, I have only to say that both commanding officer and men displayed the greatest valour. Although Commandants Hasebroek and Prinsloo had not arrived, nevertheless I had as many as nine hundred men.
Here I left Commandant Hasebroek behind with three hundred men, till the following morning, with orders to watch the enemy and hold them back if necessary. This would give my burghers who were on foot, or whose horses were exhausted, a chance of getting away. I might here explain to the uninitiated our methods of checking the advance of the enemy.
Commandant Hasebroek held the enemy in check whilst we continued our march to a place called Vrouwpan. On the following day we struck the Brak River at a point ten miles south-east of its confluence with the Orange River, to the east of Prieska. It was not fordable, and we had to off-saddle.
Although, as I have already said, the English were passionately devoted to President Steyn and myself, I was deprived of their endearments for the space of two whole days, during which I was at Wilgeboomspruit. Here I was joined by Commandant Hasebroek with his commando, and all of us horses as well as men enjoyed a little rest.
I did not think that I should have any difficulty in convincing the commanders of Harrismith and Vrede that the best thing would be to do away with these unnecessary impediments, because, shortly before, the English themselves had given me a text to preach from, by taking away a great number of waggons from Commandant Hasebroek at Winburg and at Vet River.
All of these were under Vice-Commander-in-Chief Wessel Wessels. The district of Winburg: the men under Commandant Hasebroek. The sub-district of Ladybrand: the men under Commandant Koen. The sub-district of Ficksburg: the men under Commandant Steyn. The sub-district of Bethlehem: the men under Commandant Michal Prinsloo. All of these men were under Vice-Commander-in-Chief C.C. Froneman.