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The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, June 10, 1900, Image 1

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1900-06-10/ed-1/seq-1/

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ditlonary army, wanted a quartermaster
general, and who could better fill this post
than Major Roberts! Hl3 services at tha
landing place on the Red Sea were too ur
gently required to permit of his going In-
land. But whether at the front or tha
rear, Roberta never failed to bear away
the bell of energy and successful activity,
and at the close of the campaign he was
sent to London with the dispatches which
contained an ardent eulogy of his own
merits.
It had fretted the heart of the ardent
Roberts that he had not been able to go
to the front in Abyssinia and shara In
any fighting that befell; but now ho had
not' long to wait for one of those "Uttla
wars" which are to Indian soldiers what
the grand autumn, maneuvers are to con
tinental armies. Having organized, ha
was* appointed senior staff officer of ths
expedition which, about the time that
France and Germany were stripping foe
a ' fall, was sent to chastise and subju
gate the turbulent Looshai tribes on tho
southeastern confines of the Indian Em
pire toward Burmah. But staff service,
pure and simple, would not content him.
and we find him "leading the advanc*
against a stockade" in a very difficult
and dangerous country. The taking ot
Taikoom. -which ended the campaign, -was
mainly duo to the fact that the attack-
Ing column was led in person by Roberts
—the trst time he had commanded in, ac
tion. "Lieutenant-Colonel Roberts' nn
tlring energy and sagacity." wrote tha
commanding general, "are beyond all
praise. He worked without guides, even
without map or geography, and thwarted
the Looshais, whose game was to delay,
our progress. He never seemed at a
loss."
When he was mftdo Q. M. G. in India,
and on his shoulders rented most of the
responsibility for the preparation of tha
camps and durbars necessitated aa well
by the 'Prince of Wales* vtsit to India
<'75-'"6) as by the proclamation, of the
Queen as Kalser-1-Hlnd, he wa3 no Ie33
useful and energetic in the field of fight
ing than in the field of famine ('73-'74>.
where this was how he appeared to Arch
ibald Forbes, the brilliant war corre
spondent: "Short and slight, square, how
ever, of shoulder., and of a distinctly mill-
tary carriage. hi3 whole aspect denoting
alertness and a wiry endurance. He nad,
the air of quiet command one sometimes
discerns In men who have seen much ser
vice when as yet they have not attained
high leadership. His face was almost as
cetic in its attenuation, hollow temples
Indented and narrow, th- lofty forehead
that rose above the keen, quick eyes; thw
lower section of the face was long, gaunt
and sallow, ending In a chin every lino
and contour of which betokened force o2
resolution."
So much for Forbes. One Little-wood,
orderly, says: " 'E's a little man about
as little a, man as ever drew a sword—
not more than 3 feet T\ should say— but
*ecan ride! 'Ow'e can ride! Any 'ors«
that ever, was born! 'E can ride 'orses
, that I couldn't think of ridln*. and my
legs U twice as Ions as 'Is. And 'e can
'andle any sword, no matter *ow "eavy.
I saw *lm do it.
"*E*s quiet. Is Roberts, and *e doesn't
stomp about and curse as some of "ero
ry+ TOMMY ATKrNS In our own
j I town — one of Bob's own Tommy
I I Atkinses — who knew It?
V, I ••3obs: <Jod • Mess him!" says
X every British soMier.
"Bobs! God bless h'ra!" says one Alfred
Liitlewood. steward en the Bay City that
plies between here and Alameda. He says
It for the simple reason that he was a
PritJsh soMlor before be was steward,
and. as orderly in the service of b!g Lit
tle Bobs, he knew him at three-foot
ra nge.
These are rrrpat days for Alfred Little
wood. His general— his Little Bobs— is
adding more medals to his coat anl
glories to his name. In the quiet chug
chug hours of ferry-boat travel. Alfred
LIttlewood thinks of the new fame hia
eld-time commander is winning, and
¦warms himself brer tho recollections of
far-away India days, when Bobs fed the
hungry soldiers ender him as they had
not been fed since they left home, and
when be looked after .his sick lying in the
Nilgirl Hills country, and when he tilted
the rings with the privates who loved
him.
"There's nobody like him— like Bobs,"
says his orderly.
It was In 'S2 and '83 that he served be
hind the little fighting man. It was dur
ing the quiet period that followed the re
lief cf Kandaliar. The marching out
Ftrencth of his relieving force. Including
a splendid Highland brigade 'of the "Gay
Gordons" and the Rosshlre Buffs, had
h«ren about 10,000 — just the number whom
Xenophon led back from the plains of
C^naxa to the banks of the Euxine. On
August X 1273. the immortal column be
fran its march of 302 miles, and it had cov
ered the distance In twenty days. Includ
ing one of rest, which gave an average of
over fifteen miles per day. On Septem
ber 1 — the anniversary of Sedan — Roberts
gave battle to and utterly . defeated
Ayoob. After a brief rest he rode to the
various regiments in succession, begir
nfcxg i3.HJi.tiie Gordons., whose list of xas
uaHi^P was the longest, to thank them
for the successes they had achieved for
him; and he was everywhere received
with deafening cheers — cheers Which wer^
repeated, so to speak, when, after the
war was over, Roberts came to England
and received the thanks of t>oth houses
of Parliament, a peerage from the Queen
and other honors innumerable.
When. a few years later, Mandalay was
captured and Xing Thebaw deposed from
the throne of Burmah, Roberts took com
mand, arid soon, as usual, brought the
operations to a successful issue. Again,
when the cry went up to wipe out the
reverse of Majuba, Roberts was selected
as the avenging an^el. and lucky it was
for the Boers that peace had been con
cluded before the conqueror of Kandahar
had time to rearh tholr plains.
Then came times that were more quiet.
Roberts was able to return to India, hl3
birth land, and he held his post until 1SS5
as commander «">f ihe Madras army. "I
¦was with 'itn at B&r.galoa — that's in the
Madras presidency." says the Yorkshire
Littlewood. "I w&sn't with 'lm In action,
but I saw 'lm ard knew 'im when the time
vras quiet, and it takes a good man to look
aft«r regiments when they're doin'
noth!n.' Bobs knows 'ow to keep 'era
'appy-
"And lie kept, us busy. too. If we
weren't fightin'. we musn't forget *ow to
f.ght. £<-i he "made 'a little war. Just for
practice, between the English cavalry and
the natives who were in the service. And
•we took sides r.nd made attacks and de
fenses, and tried to 'oM out against each
eth'rVike in real war, and if a man was
caught 'e 'ad to be shut up for a day — for
practice, you know. Eut the men liked it.
There's r.othin' Bobs could order that they
wouldn't like.
"I was in the cavalry then— in the
Twelfth lancers. I "ad enlisted for twelve
years because I was tired cf 'ome. and I
was pretty sick of the army before those
years were over. 1 never 'ad fever, but
India ate wp my 'ealth for all that. It's
the beastly climate. It saps the life out
cf a man, and 'e don't care much what
'jfppen*. ro 'c can only get away and ret
'onie-th.-t Ik. If 'fC» got a 'omc to go to.
But w'n»n men pet feelfn* like that sud
denly there's bOjnethJng goin' on that
mskes 'em forptt their squeamishness.
They >zr that there's some sports goin'
on that day— lilting the rings, most likely.
—and if they ask they ilnd out that Bobs
Is at the :>ottom of it."
It has Iktcd always the same. At his
desk, in time* of waiting, in time of war,
Y.ti has been the same true Bobs.
Whes: he was restored <o his administra
tlve work Cnrir.g li'.s early life in India in
the quartermaster general's department
he compiled a masterly "Route Book" for
the P-ensal Presidency; for the peace du
tifS of a st;il? officer are quite as Import
ent as his functions in war. It was a cruel
dispensation which condemned a "flghtlijg
devil" like Roberta to the drudgery of a
bureati.;i)ut he was a singular compound
of a yicVMp.PTMl a Bluchrr, and could
adapt \)\v?ft" to dosk w ork or to field
work a? occasion demanded.
For tl>e Jatter an upportunlty again oc
curred when General Napier, as Dizzy
finely plxased !t. was sent "with the artil
lery of Europe, borne by the elephapts of
Aela ac*oss the mountains of rtasselas Jn
Abyssinfr" to tihow King Theodore that
there was no place Jn all the wide world
to whlc> the .punitive arrn of England
could net reach. Donald Stewart^ after
ward his fellow champion in Afghanistan,
who commanded a brigade of this expo-
Continued on Page Thre«.
My Experience
as Orderiy to
Field Marshal
Roberts

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