General Crowther was given the command over the third division, which consisted of the burghers from Ficksburg, under Commandant P. De Villiers; from Ladybrand, under Commandant Ferreira; from Winburg, under Commandant Sarel Harebroek; and from Senekal, under Commandant Van der Merve.
Only a minority of the members had remained faithful to our cause, and these did not constitute a quorum; and so no sitting could take place. We marched from Doornberg on the 26th of January to Commandant Sarel Hasebroek's farm, which is eight miles to the north of Winburg.
Among the other Boer generals who took active part in the campaign in other parts of the Republics were J. Du P. De Beer, a Raad member, who defended the northern border of the Transvaal; Sarel Du Toit, whose defence at Fourteen Streams was admirably conducted; Snyman, the old Marico farmer, who besieged Mafeking; Hendrik Schoeman, who operated in Cape Colony; Jan Kock, killed at the Elandslaagte battle early in the campaign; and the three generals, Lemmer, Grobler, and Olivier, whose greatest success was their retreat from Cape Colony.
After hostilities commenced, and it became necessary to have more generals, six other names were added to the list of assistants of Commandant-General Joubert those chosen being Sarel Du Toit, Hendrik Schoeman, John De la Rey, Hendrik Snyman, and Herman R. Lemmer.
The "reorganisation" of our depleted commandos proceeded very well; about 95 per cent. of the fighting Boers rejoined, and speedily the commandos in the western districts had grown to about 7,000 men. But just a few weeks after his arrival in the West Krugersdorp district, poor, plucky Sarel Oosthuizen was severely wounded in the battle of Dwarsvlei, and died of his wounds some time after.
Generals Sarel Oosthuizen and H. L. Lemmer, both now deceased, were sent to the north of Pretoria, to collect the burghers from the western districts, and to generally rehabilitate their commandos. It was at this point, indeed, that the supreme command of the western districts was assumed by General De la Rey, who, on his way to the north, attacked and defeated an English garrison at Selatsnek.
Among the dead was the renowned Sarel Cilliers, grandson of the worthy "voortrekker" of the same name. Veldtcornet Jurie Wessels was the most distinguished of the prisoners. It was a miserable affair altogether: General Froneman ought to have called his men back when he saw that General Liebenberg had not sent his contingent.
No doubt it was organised because there were fears among the Boers that they would be invaded from the north. When it was understood that the British intended no large aggressive movement in that quarter, these burghers joined other commandos. Sarel Eloff, who was one of the leaders of this northern force, was afterwards taken at Mafeking.
On July 31st, however, the same thing occurred with more murderous effect, the train running at full speed off the metals. Thirteen of the Shropshires were killed and thirty-seven injured in this deplorable affair, which cost us more than many an important engagement. On August 2nd a train coming up from Bloemfontein was derailed by Sarel Theron and his gang some miles south of Kroonstad.
The mounted troops who were despatched under Major Leader failed in this enterprise, but they found and overwhelmed the laager of Sarel Alberts, capturing 132 prisoners. By stampeding the horses the Boer retreat was cut off, and the attack was so furiously driven home, especially by the admirable Scottish Horse, that few of the enemy got away.