General Joubert's Piety
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IN a conversation with Mr. Rudolph DeWet, a young Boer, about his people, their country, conflict, and future, I asked him about some of his great military leaders, whose skill, courage and devotion secured world-wide fame. He replied:
"General Piet Joubert, under whom I first fought, was probably the most beloved of the Boer leaders. He had permitted the women and children to go out of the beleaguered Ladysmith, and had been thanked by General White for his humanity.
" I was with Joubert one day on the battlefield, under a flag of truce, burying the dead. Dead British and Boers were being thrown into shallow ditches, often side by side. We were in a hurry, for it was approaching the time for the termination of the truce and our work was far from being completed. Night was coming rapidly on. General Joubert went to General White and said : ` I wish you would agree to an extension of the truce for another hour. I desire to read the burial service over my dead. If you have no objection, I should like to read it over your dead too, for I see you have no chaplain present.'
" General White agreed to an extension of the truce. General Joubert, as night came down, repeated in a firm voice the burial service of the Dutch Reformed Church. It was a wonderful picture, and the British looked as solemn as we did while the service was going on.
" Not long after this General Joubert was taken down with enteric fever, and when at the point of death, he expressed a wish to have his mattress taken out into the open air, where he could see his men and bid them farewell. It was a most pathetic sight, this vast body of rude undisciplined men huddled about their dying chief, whom they had so often followed to victory. His last words abjured them not to be disheartened, but to put their faith in God. He expressed the conviction that everything would come out right some day, if not in the immediate future. I shall never forget the scene ; he died as he had fought, with the Bible in his hand, the veritable Bible upon which he often drew his plans and from which he derived his inspiration.
" Piet Joubert was a wonderful man, the most accomplished soldier we had, and the greatest in some respects."
With a few exceptions the great military leaders of modern times have been those whose hearts have been as tender as their wills have been strong. There is true greatness where the Bible is in the hand and the spirit of Christ in the heart.