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The Armored Train and Motor Car.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Automotive Africa

The Armored Train and Motor Car.

The New York Times
January 14, 1900


From Collier's Weekly

The constant references to reconnoitring of the enemy's position by the British armored trains have created considerble discussion among military engineers and officers as to the actual value of these new engines of war. The first test of the armored train was made by the British in 1882. In the attack on Alexandria, a British naval officer, Capt. (Now Admiral) Fisher covered an engine and also a train of cars with boiler plates. These were loaded with sharpshooters and heavy field and Maxim guns. When everything was ready the armored train steamed out of the British camp and plunged down upon the Egyptians, who, unused to such engines of war, were completely routed.

Since then regular armored trains have been built by the engineers of the British Army, and they have rendered some conspicuous service in South Africa. The destruction of one of these trains by the Boer artillery early in the war displays some of the weak points of the otherwise dangerous invention. The Boers tore up a few sections of the rail in the rear of the train, and it was then put completely at their mercy when the artillery was brought up.

Several armored motor-cars have also been sent to South Africa for experimental work. These iron-clad motor-cars are proof against the bullets of the enemy, and as they can constantly change their position it would be impossible to get range on them with artillery. They are not dependent upon railroad tracks for a retreat. But at least fair roads are considered essential to their successful travel over the country, and among the mountains they would be of no use whatsoever. On the veldt they may settle the disputed points as to the relative merits of army bicycles, motors, and similar inventions, the names of which are legion.



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