Taken from "In South Africa with Buller"
by George Musgrave, written and published in 1900
"The ground leading to Colenso from Chieveley is very opened and traversed by dongas (gullies). The veldt slopes gently down to the immediate river bank, which is steep and covered with long coarse grass and scrub. You will thus see that a force advancing from Chieveley toward Ladysmith must cross the open in face of a terrific rifle and artillery fire from well - screened positions. Still exposed, the advance across the river would be retarded by barbed wire and the artificial flood of the drifts, and if a command could live to force a passage, row after row of kopjes (a small hill) must be stormed in succession on the opposite bank; the direct opposition supported by the heavy guns and reserve riflemen on the eminences in the rear.
In these days of modern warfare (i.e. 1900) the impregnable position certainly seems to exist, and with resolution a handful of men at Colenso could stay the advance of an army corps. Imagine two miles of successive positions like San Juan in Cuba, but seven times longer, covered with rocks, steeper and a hundred-fold more difficult to assail. Throw in front of them a broad, unfordable river, with an open, unprotected advance in place of the El Paso woods that covered the advance to within 600 yards of the Spanish blockhouses. Place in the position a foe a hundred times more resolute and thirty time more numerous than Toral's advanced forces in Cuba. Advance your column, but one brigade larger than Shafter's army, across the open, force a passage over the river under the belching of 15,000 rifles, tear your way through the entanglements on the banks, carry these twenty San Juans in succession while the commanding eminences in the rear sustain a terrific fire on your advancing forces, storm those final heights, capture the enemy's guns, and you have won the Battle of Colenso.
The wonder is not so much that the British failed but that they accomplished so much without a greater loss. Before you attempt to criticise Buller, study a map of Natal and read Bloch.*"