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    Strathcona Horse War Diary / Daily Routine Orders / Letters and Diary

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    qsamike
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    Strathcona Horse War Diary / Daily Routine Orders / Letters and Diary

    Post by qsamike on Sat Aug 21, 2010 8:21 pm

    Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen.....

    I read with interest that Robcooper is transcribing a war diary.....

    I was laid up from work for a number of months some years ago, before I could afford a computer and to keep myself busy I transcribed the Daily Routine Orders and Diary of Lord Strathcona's Horse from their founding to their disbandment after return to Canada by typwriter.......

    At the same time I also transcribed the weekly letters between Steele and Lord Strathcona including all the edited parts that Steele wanted removed......

    Finally I also transcribed the personal diary of 446 TROOPER GEORGE ALEXANDER BOWERS, "C" SQUADRON, #4 TROOP, LORD STRATHCONA'S CORPS, SOUTH AFRICA, JUNE 16th, 1900 TO MARCH 2nd 1901......


    Here is a sample from the Letters:

    STRATHCONA'S HORSE

    Ottawa, 17th February, 1900

    From: Lt. Col. S. B. Steele, Commanding "Strathcona's Horse"

    To: The Right Honorable Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, G.C.M.G.
    17, Victoria Street,
    London, S.W., England

    My Lord,

    As requested by your Lordship I have the honor to submit this my report upon all matters in connection with the organization of "Strathcona's Horse".

    When I was in Halifax on my way to South Africa with the Second Contingent from Canada, I received a telegram from the Honorable the Minister of Militia offering me the command of your Corps, namely: "Strathcona's Horse". I accepted, and proceeded to Ottawa forthwith. At Ottawa the Minister, Major General Hutton, and I discussed the organization of the Corps and selected some officers from names presented, for your approval.

    Personnel - Officers

    Major Belcher: 2nd in Command, was 5 years in the 9th Lancers where he won prizes as the best swordsman and lancer the year he left. He joined the N. W. M. P. when the force was established and is still in the prime of life. He has great force of character and tact.

    Major Snyder: is 36 years of age. He has been an Inspector of the N. W. M. P. for fifteen years, passing through the schools of instruction, and is well qualified.

    Major Jarvis: is 36 years of age. He has been an Inspector of N. W. M. P. for 19 years, having risen from the ranks. He belongs to a well-known family in Toronto, and has had a very varied service in the Force.

    These Officers stand high in the estimation of the N.W.M.P. Department.

    Major Laurie is 38 years of age. He is a graduate of the R.M. College, Kingston, from which he passed at the head of his class and was offered a commission in the Royal Engineers, which he did not accept. He took part in the suppression of the rebellion of 1885, and was engaged in the actions at Fish Creek and Batoche.

    Captain Hughes is Lt. Colonel in Command of the 45th "Victoria" Battalion of Infantry and is on leave at the present time in South Africa. Captain Hughes will join the regiment at Cape Town. He holds R. S. Infantry certificates.

    Captain Howard is an Inspector in the N. W. M. P. of 10 years standing. He was engaged in the action at Batoche in 1885, serving with the 10th Royal Grenadiers.

    Lieut. Cameron is 35 years of age. Has been Major in the 5th Battalion, "Royal Scots of Canada" stationed at Montreal, since March 1897. He has a 1st class grade "A" certificate of the Royal School of Infantry, also equitation. He is at present Senior Major of his Battalion.

    Lieut. Cartwright is 27 years of age. Inspector of N. W. M. P., in which Corps he has served for four years. He was a Captain in the 14th Battalion Rifles, and has taken a first class long course certificate.

    Lieut. Mackie joined the 90th Battalion of Rifles in May, 1893, was gazetted in 1896, and was appointed Adjutant in 1898. He holds 1st and 2nd class grade "A" Infantry certificates and 1st and 2nd class grade "A" Cavalry certification.

    Lieut. Parker is an ex-Captain of the 15th Regt. of Foot. He retired on gratuity, and has resided for some years in British Columbia. He is a capital shot, and horseman, and has served on the staff of General Sir Charles Reid in India.

    Lieut. Courtney is a graduate of the R. M. College. He has served in the West and taken part in surveys in the Northern part of Canada. He was also attached to the 6th Fusiliers for upwards of 5 years.

    Lieut. Leckie is a graduate of the Royal Military College and has had experience in Western life. He is now a resident of British Columbia. He has served in the 72nd Battalion since 1895.

    Lieut. Magee is a graduate of the R. M. College and has served in the Imperial Army. For the past two years he has been attached to the 14th Battalion, Kingston. (Hythe Officers Extra -7th April, 1896).

    Lieut. Christie served with the Midland Battalion in the suppression of the Rebellion in 1885. He is at present a resident of Moosomin, Assa. This officer is late of the 38th Battalion and holds 2nd class "A" R. S. I. certificate.

    Lieut. Falls is a qualified officer in the Manitoba Dragoons and at present a resident of Oak Lake, Man. He served with the 75th Gordon Highlanders, the Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry Cavalry, and was also in the North West Rebellion of 1885. He holds a 2nd class grade "A" Royal School of Cavalry certificate.

    Lieut. Pooley is a qualified officer in the Garrison Artillery, Victoria, and was gazetted in 1897. He holds 1st and 2nd Class Infantry and Artillery certificates from the Royal School of Instruction, England. He has also won Public School Rifle Competition prizes.

    Lieut. Strange is a graduate of the School of Gunnery, Kingston, and is a son of Major General Strange. He has had experience in the Western Provinces, having resided on his Ranch, near Calgary, for a number of years. He also served in the suppression of the Rebellion of 1885.

    Lieut. Parker. Quartermaster is 46 years of age, and has served in the N. W. M. P. since 1874. He took part in the suppression of the rebellion of 1885 in General Strange's column, and was present at Frenchman's Butte.

    Surgeon Keenan is the medical officer selected by Dr. Stewart of Montreal, and he reported for duty on the 16th February.

    The Captaincy of "C" Squadron is still vacant and Transport and Veterinary Officers are yet to be obtained.

    Personnel-Men

    The men enlisted are composed of the very pick of the cowboy, cowpuncher, rancher, policeman and ex-policeman of the Territories and British Columbia, the balance are westerners of varied experience, especially qualified with rifle and horse.

    Notes Preliminary to Organization.

    Doctor McEachran proceeded me to the North-West for the purpose of purchasing horses.

    Clothing.

    I arranged with Mr. Clouston to have some necessary improvements made in the uniform. Unfortunately there was a considerable portion of the clothing being made when I arrived at Ottawa from Halifax. This fact made it difficult for me to make any changes, or to have and distinguishing badge inserted (with your approval) but I believe it has been arranged to have a representative badge attached to the collar and hat.

    Rifles.

    The very long range rifle is not in use, to any extent, in the Territories, but for all that the men, as a body, can shoot well at ranges at which objects can be seen with the naked eye.

    Recruiting and Medical Examinations.

    In the Territories the men were examined by the Surgeons, and Assistant Surgeons of the N. W. M. Police, and Officers of the same force were employed to superintend the recruiting in their respective localities.

    In British Columbia, Inspector Morris of the N. W. M. Police Force recruited for me at Nelson, Captain Parker recruited at Fort Steele and Cranbrooke while Inspector Wilson of the N. W. M. Police did the recruiting at Golden, Revelstoke, Kamloops, Vernon; and Major Laurie carried out, in like manner, the enlisting of recruits in Victoria and Vancouver.

    Other Surgeons than those of the Force were employed in British Columbia, but great care was taken that the recruits were of fine physique, good shots, and capable horsemen, the latter quality especially was looked after. To make assurance doubly sure I have directed, since I returned to Ottawa, Surgeon Keenan of "Strathcona's Horse" to make another very strict medical examination of the men.

    With your permission, My Lord, I will now proceed to report the following detail of my work in organizing your Corps, and to enclose herewith a Nominal Roll of all ranks, showing the places in Manitoba, the North West and British Columbia, where the men enlisted, date of enlistment, and the names of Officers chosen to command each troop from the different districts.

    Organization and Recruiting Officers

    I left Ottawa en-route west on Tuesday, the 30th, January, and upon my arrival in Winnipeg I immediately notified the different districts that recruiting for the corps would commence on the 5th, February. I then appointed Lieut. Mackie, (late Captain and Adjutant of the 90th Rifles, Winnipeg) to undertake the recruiting for Manitoba under the supervision of Inspector Snyder of the N. W. M. Police, who is to be Major in command of "A" Squadron "Strathcona's Horse" and who was on his way to Halifax, arriving in Winnipeg shortly after my departure. Proceeding west the same day (2nd) I appointed Lieut. Christie to recruit at Moosomin under Major Snyder, and arrived at Regina on the 3rd, where I stayed over that day. I regret to say that, here, I found Major Belcher, N. W. M. Police, who is to be 2nd in command, ill in bed, where he has had to remain for the last ten days, but word received today is to the effect that he has greatly improved. This left me single handed in the command so far as he was concerned, but I arranged with the Assistant Commissioner (N. W. M. Police) so that the Regina District got their full share of good men recruited, also under Inspector Snyder, who completed his work to that point on the 8th inst.

    Quartermaster Parker, (Late N. W. M. Police) was very careful with the recruiting at Prince Albert and selected first class all round men. Battleford only furnished one qualified recruit, the first contingent having stripped that district of those who were qualified.

    Inspector Morris of the N. W. M. Police was detailed to accompany me west and I directed him to proceed via the Crows Nest to Nelson where in conjunction with Lieut. Leckie of "Strathcona's Horse," he soon obtained the number allotted and entrained for the east with 52 men on the 9th instant, picking up Lieutenant Parker and troop (42) of Fort Steele at Cranbrooke.

    I left Regina on the morning of the 4th and proceeded to Calgary, appointing Inspector Harper recruiting Officer at Maple Creek, en-route. He completed his work on the evening of the 6th, Medicine Hat District furnishing 10 out of the 20 allotted the two places. I arrived at Calgary on the night of the 5th, and made this point my temporary headquarters. Inspector Wilson, who was advised beforehand, proceeded to British Columbia on the same train that I got off, and Major Laurie, who accompanied me from Regina, went to the Coast. I had to perform Inspector Wilson's duties at Calgary as there was no other Officer doing duty at that post, but this did not interfere with my work and I am pleased to inform you that with constant instructions sent, and answers received, I was enabled to close the enlistment on the night of the 10th, making up the necessary compliment in five days. Of course changes had to be made where districts were under the number allotted, and in such cases I arranged to have the shortage made up by qualified men from other points. Many of these places had three and four times the number of volunteers required; as instances, Victoria and Vancouver, Vernon, Nelson, Calgary, Golden, Kamloops, Edmonton, Moosomin, and even Winnipeg. I believe a Brigade could have been formed with ease; however, the best men were selected in each case.

    Inspector Morris having reached Medicine Hat with the Nelson and Fort Steele contingents on the morning of the llth. instant, I sent him full instructions from Calgary and he proceeded east from Medicine Hat the same morning at eight, in command, picking up enroute. Medicine Hat, Maple Creek, Regina, Prince Albert, Moosomin, Virden, Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg Troops which made up the first train consisting of 7 officers and 286 men. The railway people provided the following equipment for our use: 6 Tourists cars, 50 men per car, 2 sergeants to a berth, others 4 to a berth. Rear half of a 1st class car for Officers, front half for non-commissioned officers. 1 sleeper and 1 commissariat attached.

    The train is well handled, the commissariat being equally appreciated by both Officers and Men.

    A banquet given at Winnipeg was successfully carried out, the train being delayed there about two hours only (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.). The men were marched to and from the drill shed and entrained without difficulty.

    I left Calgary for Ottawa on the morning of the 12th being forced to come east sooner than I expected owing to Major Belcher's illness. Under the circumstances, I left instructions with Inspector Wilson N. W. M. Police and Lieut. Strange of "Strathcona's Horse" to assist Dr. McEachran who has been furnished with the necessary men to bring the horses east.

    The first train arrived in Ottawa on the morning of the 15th. inst., and took up their quarters at the Exhibition Grounds where everything is now in shape, and drill and order carried on.

    The second train carrying 3 Officers, 140 men and 96 horses left Calgary at 6:30 a.m. of the 14th. for Ottawa. They are expected to arrive Monday. Every provision has been made for them.

    With the exception of Major Jarvis, Lieutenant Cartwright, en-route from Yukon, and a few who were granted passes to visit their homes, the establishment of your Corps is about complete.

    My Lord, in concluding my report on the recruiting of your corps I have the honour to state that a better class of men, from a moral, physical, shooting and horsemanship point of view could not have been selected, and as a proof of such our Surgeon (Keenan) who has already examined one-half of the command, since I arrived, states that he was greatly surprised at their physique and intelligence. As I mentioned before Surgeon Keenan is to medically examine each man, although the western doctors recommended them all before leaving.

    Horses.

    As I already reported I left the west sooner than I would have liked to on account of my 2nd in command being seriously ill — (at the time of writing he has greatly improved and I well know his capabilities of endurance, should he be fit for service in time). This necessitated co-operations with Doctor McEachran by wire, but fortunately he arrived in Calgary in time to discuss the further purchases to be made. The doctor reported that the horses already purchased were all broken, of the proper standard in size, etc. He had purchased at MacLeod, Pincher Creek and High River, starting in at Calgary the next day after I left, where it is likely that he would have his pick of 200 at least. Medicine Hat, Maple Creek, Moose Jaw, Regina, Qu'Appelle, Red Deer were all prepared to exhibit their horses for his inspection.

    About 300 horses are now en-route and the probabilities are that Dr. McEachran will have little trouble in selecting the balance. 14 hands 2 to 15 hands 2 is the standard worked upon, but only the very best 14-2, which are well known to be hard in the west, are being taken.

    The Palace Horse Cars provided by the Company are excellent in comparison with the old stock cars and in every way the Canadian Pacific Railway people have met our wishes and carried out their part effectively

    Machine Guns.

    The officers have not been appointed, and the men have not yet been selected who are to compose the machine gun detachment, but I hold documents of qualification from a number of good men, and I intend having them parade, at once, so that I amy judge of their experience.

    My Lord, in conclusion this my first report upon the organization of your Corps, I beg to state that the two days, that I have been in Ottawa, I have devoted to completing the organization, and seeing the men properly instructed by competent instructors of the force and you will not be surprised when I tell you that the westerner has again proved himself to be a likely learner.

    The clothing may delay us, but everything is being rushed by competent hands and I am pleased to inform you that the organization is so far very satisfactory.

    I have the honour to be,

    Sir, Your obedient servant,

    (Signed) S. B. STEELE,

    Lieut. Col. Commanding
    Strathcona's Horse.


    DIARY OF 446 TROOPER GEORGE ALEXANDER BOWERS

    October 8th, 1900

    Clear during the night but very cold. Left Helvetia at 7 and made camp at Machadodorp at noon. 3 trains in station. Large camp here. Gen. French is here with his brigade. General Buller came up and said goodbye. Great cheering. The 3rd Mounted Brigade are disbanded and the S.A.L.H. will go as escort to Gen. Buller. S.H. joining Police were paraded before Col. Steele today. About 20 are going. They leave tomorrow. We march across country with Gen. French to whose brigade we are now attached. Took report of Gen. Bullers address. We are able to buy some butter here 4 shillings/pound.

    October 9th, 1900

    Paraded for remounts. Did not get turn. Those of us who turned our saddles in on the march have been issued with English saddles. 28 of our men who volunteered for the S.A. Police left today for Pretoria. Gen. Dundonald in bidding them goodbye said that he was very sorry to part with them and that Col. Steele would be proud of them with more to the same effect. We gave three cheers for the General with a tiger and the men marched off. Reveille 6 a.m. Bread issued.

    October 10th, 1900

    Our horses were picked over yesterday and all unfit were taken to the heard which is here. It leaves us pretty short of horses and we may be taken away from Machadodorp by rail. Some of the S.A.L.H. went away today. There are a lot of trains running and it is impossible to get enough train hands or they would have many more. There are over 50 engines idle. We heard the bugles blow "Reveille at 6 a.m. for the first time since leaving the boat at Durban. Bread issued. There is very little wood here and great difficulty is found in getting anything cooked. Wrote and posted letters to Mother and Maude also Annie.

    October 11th, 1900

    The battery (A), Royal Horse Artillery went away during the night. All S.A.L.H. went away with the exception of 1 squadron. Cheered off in style. The 20th Hussars who are with Gen. French took over our horses today. The Princess Christian Hospital Train came through. 7 cars all painted white with a red cross near each end. It looks pretty. Had a good swim. Arms inspection. Some of our piquets were driven in today. Nice weather but hot during the day. Everybody happy and showing disposition to cheer all the time. Very glad to get rid of horses. Our sick started for Pretoria tonight. Have turned in all our saddlery etc. in to the Q.M. only reserving 50 rounds of rifle cartridges and our blankets. Held a concert in S.A.L.H. lines tonight by the light of a big bonfire. Big time, about 30 prisoners were brought in by the Gordon Highlanders and Rifle Brigade. Plenty of empty transport waggons coming in every day.

    October 12th, 1900

    Reveille at 5.30. Packed up our outfit and moved to station. "B" Squadron and remainder of S.A.L.H. went off at 1:30. It is a very hot day. Everybody busy. There are a lot of prisoners here. They look first rate. "A.P.C." did not succeed in getting away. Some of the boys got hold of a lot of liquor and proceeded to celebrate by shouting, singing, firing revolvers and generally distinguishing themselves. It went all right until the Provost-Marshall came up with guard and all hands had to fall in and troops 1, 2, 3 "C" were placed under arrest and all their arms taken away. There was a fearful thunder storm on at the time and the continual flashes of lightening added to the effect. We are consequently in disgrace. Just because 2 or 3 men or rather N.C.O.'s did not know how to behave themselves. There will be an investigation. The prisoners were frightened they were going to be killed and no doubt will be glad when the S.H. move camp. A dust storm struck camp and made things lively for a time. It was impossible to see anything.

    October 13th, 1900

    A nice bunch of N.C.O.'s are under arrest this morning. They look a little worse for wear. Can hear firing out to the west, not very far distant. Did not have much rain last night but very bad thunder and lightning. The S.H. arms which were taken from the troops arrested last night are a picturesque looking sight. There is about 1/2 cord of rifles, revolvers and bandoliers lying behind a cart with a sentry on it. Did not get away. Had to move camp out of town. Had another beautiful dust storm followed by rain. General French's column had a fight at Dalmanutha, 67 casualties.
    October 14th, 1900

    Slept in a building last night for the first time since leaving Halifax. Enjoyed it first rate. Pretty heavy rain. Clear this a.m. Left Machadodorp at 6.45 after a rather hasty breakfast and are travelling with a company of Suffolks who are going to rejoin their regiment, they have been left behind to look after the regimental stores. Our car is an iron one and there is just standing room. It will not be very comfortable. There is 20 miles of very heavy grade and our progress is slow. We have two locomotives and they have all they can do. Passed Birkendale Farm where we had a big battle on the 27th August. Belfast where we are at present is a fair sized village. There is a larger camp here. We had to fill the boiler with pails at Dalmanutha. Could see Gen. French's column camped out to the south of the station. Just beginning to feel that we are on the way home. Arrived at Belfast about 11 a.m. but did not leave until 5 p.m. Could see monument erected in memory of Independence Day at highest point of land in Transvaal. We met some of the C.M.R. here for the first time. When we arrived at Pan it was after dark so as trains do not run at night east of Middleburg we stayed on the siding all night.

    October 15th, 1900

    Had to get up at 4 this a.m. and go into trenches as an attack was expected. Met another lot of C.M.R's. Has a long chat. They expected to be kept another month or so. There is a small camp here (Pan) 100 infantry and 1 section of artillery. Just before the train reached Middleburg a party of 6 Boers did a little firing. A patrol left town in pursuit. Middleburg is only a small place but has a good station. We were not delayed long. Merely changing engines. There is a refreshment room where it is possible to get a cup of alleged coffee and stale sandwich at a price which would frighten any one accustomed to Canadian Railway dining halls. Left Middleburg At about 7 a.m. and reached Groot Olifant's River a muddy sluggish looking stream about 7:30 passing several British patrols and camps on the way. Leaving Olifant's River we soon came to Nitjik, Balmoral and Witbank insignificant stations except that at them as at all other stations and commanding positions along the line there is a British post. Arriving at Wilge River we see the bridge which was blown up by the Boers. They made a good job of it making an utter wreck of piers, abutments and iron work. There is a large force of negroes at work repairing the bridge. The place is garrisoned by some of the Royal Fusiliers and is well entrenched. The next station is Bronkhurst Spruit which is reached after about 30 min. run up a nice smooth valley dotted here and there with substantial looking farm houses. The bridge at this place which was a long one is also wrecked but in the course of repair. The troops stationed here are not camped in town as is the case at most other places we have passed but are out about a mile with the exception of a few tents. Elands River the next station of any importance is also garrisoned and entrenched. Arrived at 1:30 but had to wait about 3/4 hour for train to cross. After leaving this station the country had a different appearance. Although the land continued hilly it was dotted here and there with bunches of trees, most of them being of the variety known as Rhenoster bush with a few Eucalyptus which had evidently been planted by some early settler. Just before arriving at Vandermerwe we passed another wrecked bridge. There is another British Camp here and there is a game of foot ball on as we pass. At our next stop, Pienaarspoort there is another British Camp. We here saw a beautiful fruit farm all young trees and covering about 10 acres. There is a high rocky ridge directly in front of the station. The rocks are perpendicular and would be a difficult position to take. Another 1/2 hour run brings us to Eerstkabricken a larger town than Middleburg. Rather nice looking place. We met here one of the boys who came out on the "Monteray". He told us the remainder of the 1st contingent draft were at the next station Silverton. We had a short talk with them as we passed. The British camp outside Pretoria is a sight worth seeing. There is a larger number of men in it. The Hospital is also pretty. All the tents of dazzling whiteness and convalescents going about in clean white shirt and bright blue flannel trousers add a dash of colour to the view. We saw and talked with some of the S.H. who are here. All are getting on well and hope to rejoin the regiment very soon. Pretoria at last. A pretty looking town beautifully decorated with shade trees, flowers of every conceivable kind and profusion. The houses also look pretty and tasteful. Had the Boers undertaken to defend the town their forts on the surrounding high hills would have proven a formidable obstacle in the path of the British. At one time it looked doubtful if we were to see the capital but at last our hopes are realized. I would have been very sorry to go home without setting foot in the city after such a long trip. So we are fairly satisfied at last. Stayed around station until wagon came down after our baggage then we marched up to the rest camp where we made a cup of tea and turned in.



    Hope you enjoy......

    Mike

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    mk1rceme
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    Re: Strathcona Horse War Diary / Daily Routine Orders / Letters and Diary

    Post by mk1rceme on Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:40 am

    Great read! Thanks for sharing.


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