2 DECEMBER 1899, Page 28




Silk—Does not your article under the above bead in the Spec- tator of November 25th absolutely ignore all considerations except the purely military, treating the matter as if time, dis- tances, positions, and numbers were the only factors in the problem ? If I am correct in thinking that it does so, surely considerations of the most essential importance have been entirely put aside. If the places named and many others had been deliberately abandoned for the sake of concentrations in force at some points on each line nearer to the sea, the whole of the loyal civil population would have had to retire, abandon- ing vast quantities of private property of all kinds to the enemy. That fact taken by itself might be got over for the sake of military advantages, but what would have been the political and moral effects of this wholesale retirement (1) on the Boers; (2) on the waverers and semi-sympathisers in our own Colonies ; (3) on other European Powers; (4) on our own people in England ? The whole of the abandoned country would have been stripped naked, and possibly every bridge and important building destroyed, beginning with those nearest to the points of concentration. I do not question the sonndness of the conclusions of the writer from the military aspect alone, e., if all movements in war could be solved by diagrams in connection with the factors I have named. But, surely, in war, and especially in semi-civil war, it is impossible to narrow the outlook in this way; it is not only statesmen or politicians, but the soldiers in chief command who have to pay attention and give due weight to political and moral influences, so far as these affect, or may affect, their plans and operations, and the people with whom they have to deal. The maximum of concentration could be got either at the chief sea-ports, or not far from them, but surely that would not justify the abandonment of all positions farther inland. The complete recovery of these positions would then be necessary in addition to achieving the original objects of the war. To apply the word " blunder " repeatedly to a non- concentration for which there spay be the strongest reasons is, I think, unwarrantably severe criticism.—I am, Sir, &c., ED. HARVEY, Lieut.-Colonel. Farnham, .tVovember 29th.