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Boer War

The following is a diary of events which outline the main events of the Boer War

A Diary of the War

Date: October 1899

11th: The Boer Republic declared war. The Free State annexed a Natal train

12th: The Boers invade Natal.

13th: The first shot fired by the Boers, who destroyed an armoured train at Kraaipan siding, near Vryburg, taking Lieutenant Nesbitt and 13 men prisoners. The Boers occupied Newcastle.

14th: Kimberley isolated. An engagement was fought outside Mafeking, the Boers being repulsed with heavy loss.

15th: An armoured train from Kimberley was attacked at Spyfontein by Freestaters. Five Boers were killed and several wounded. Our loss nil. Seven hundred Boers attacked fifteen Cape Police at Riverton-road. Two policemen were taken prisoners. Cape Police evacuate Vryburg at the request of the residents.

16th: Boers entered Vryburg, hoisted Transvaal flag, and issued a proclamation declaring Bechuanaland a part of the Republics. Cape Volunteers called out for active service.

2oth: The enemy attacked Glencoe in force. Their guns were silenced, position carried, and four of five guns captured, a complete Boer rout following. General Penn Symons was wounded, dying on the 25th, the British loss being 41 killed and 187 wounded. The Boers lost over 100 killed; 300 prisoners were taken by the British.

21st: A force under General French attacked the enemy’s entrenched position at Elandslaagte, which was carried, the Boer guns, waggons, and camp equipment being taken. The enemy’s loss was very heavy; on our side 30 officers and men were killed, including Colonel Scott Chisholme, 162 wounded, and two missing. Over 300 Boers were taken prisoners and 100 were killed. Boers occupied Vryburg.

22nd: Skirmish on the Crocodile River. British losses: Two killed, four wounded. Boer losses: Eight killed, many wounded.

24th: The British achieved their third victory over the Boers, who were attacked by Sir G. White, an action lasting six hours, taking place at Reitfontein farm.-Our casualties were: Fourteen killed and 112 wounded. The enemy suffered severely. Martial law proclaimed throughout Natal. A Kimberley detachment had a hot engagement with

the Boers near Riverton, the enemy being compelled to retreat, British losses: 3 killed 21 w ounded. Boers lost heavily, Commandant Botha being amongst the killed. The defenders of Mafeking made a successful night attack on the enemy’s advanced trenches, getting in with the bayonet. The British loss was six killed and nine wounded.

25th: General Yule evacuated Dundee, falling back on Ladysmith.

27th: Proclamation by the High Commissioner declaring Boer proclamation of October 16 invalid, and warning colonists of their duty as British subjects. Tasmanian First Contingent (Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron) 80 officers and men, left for South Africa.

29th: Strong force of Boers under Joubert advanced to neighbourhood of Ladysmith, taking up strong entrenched position.

3oth: Boers began shelling Ladysmith at 5:30 a.m., but their guns were quickly silenced. A detached British force, under Lieutenant-Colonel Carleton, got into difficulties outside Ladysmith owing to a stampede of its mules. It occupied a position two miles from Nicholson’s Vlei, where it was attacked by a greatly superior force of the’ enemy, and having suffered severe loss, it surrendered. The British fought till their ammunition

was exhausted. The position was captured, and the survivors of the column fell into the enemy’s hands. Arrival of General Buller. The Boer forces under General Joubert commenced shelling Ladysmith with two 40 pounders. Their fire was, however, quickly silenced by our guns.

31st: The Boers attempted an assault on Cannon Kopje, Mafeking. The south-east corner of the town was attacked most gallantly, notwithstanding a hot shell fire. The British casualties were six killed and five wounded. In both engagements the enemy lost heavily.

November 1899

1st: A force of 60 Boers from the Free State crossed the bridge at Norval’s Pont, seized the station and telegraph office, and took prisoners some six police. The Boers subsequently occupied Colesberg.

2nd: The British artillery at Ladysmith opened fire at very long range on the Boer guns. Intermittent firing continued till 1o a.m. Communication then cut off. Boers in force near Colenso. Colenso evacuated by Colonel Cooper, the garrison retiring to Estcourt.

6th: Boers commenced the bombardment of Kimberley by firing two shells in the direction of the Premier mine. Boers resumed bombardment of Mafeking, but did no damage.

9th: A British reconnaissance party from Orange River discovered the enemy amongst a row of kopjes five miles east of Belmont, along the western border. The enemy used cannon, but the shells did not explode. Our artillery fired ten shots, and a few shrapnel fell among the enemy, causing great havoc. The object of the reconnaissance was fulfilled. Colonel Keith Falconer and Lieutenant Wood, 9th Lancers, were killed. Heavy fighting between British and Boers outside Ladysmith. The enemy, who were in great force, fought with the utmost stubbornness, but were repulsed with the loss of 700 or 800 men. “Roslin Castle” with first detachment of the Army Corps arrived at Cape Town.

10th: Two companies of British mounted troops engaged about 300 of the enemy eight miles from Estcourt. The Boers occupied a strong position, and were driven back with great loss. One trooper on British side wounded.

11th: Sharp skirmishers with the Boers at Kimberley Major Scott Turner, while reconnoitring with a small body of mounted troops near Otto’s Kopje, was attacked by Boers under cover of artillery fire. The British force carried off the honours of the day, about a dozen Boers being shot, while the only casualties on the British side were two men wounded. Boers resumed the bombardment of Kimberley, only one casualty resulting, an old coloured woman being killed by a shell.

13th: Boers entered Aliwal North, hoisted the Boer flag, and declared the town Republican territory. British subjects given 14 days’ notice to quit.

14th: Burghersdorp occupied by Free State Boers. British flying column made a sortie on Boer position outside Ladysmith, driving the enemy from their guns. Five Boers were killed and two wounded. No loss on British side. British cavalry and artillery engaged the enemy outside Ladysmith, to the right of New Colenso-road, driving them back on their main position. The Boer loss was heavy. The only casualty on the British side was one man wounded.

15th: Boers entered Colesburg and hoisted Free State flag. General Joubert attacked the British at the north end of Ladysmith. Fighting commenced early in the morning, and continued until 2 p.m., when the Boers were repulsed with great loss. The enemy retired 12 miles. British armoured train left Estcourt for a reconnaissance. When near Chievely one of the trucks was derailed, the enemy having tampered with the line. British hotly attacked by a big force of Boers. The Boers being in overwhelming force, the line was cleared, and the train steamed back to Estcourt. The British loss was one man killed, about 18 wounded, and about 60 officers and men missing.

16th: Boers concentrating outside Kimberley at Spyfontein. Small body Diamond Fields Horse and Kimberley Light Horse reconnoitred from Kimberley, and encountered the enemy. Artillery came up to support the patrol, and sharp fighting took place for some time. The enemy being in overwhelming force, Colonel Scott Turner ordered the force to retire on Kimberley. British losses, one killed and ten wounded. Boer losses 19, killed or wounded.

17th: Boers under Joubert arrive at Weenen. Strong mounted patrol left Kimberley, and found enemy in force in neighbourhood of Alexandersfontein. Some very heavy firing followed, but the enemy declined to be drawn from their position, and the patrol returned to Kimberley, with one man wounded.

18th: Boers advanced on Estcourt, but one shell from a naval gun caused them to retire. Weenen looted.

19th: Seven hundred Boers at Highlands were engaged by Thorneycroft’s men and Carbineers. Two Boers killed. Naauwpoort reoccupied by the British. Boers take Lady Grey.

21th: Communication with Estcourt by telegraph and rail cut off by Boers.

22nd: Van Rensburg, a reported rebel, arrested by the military authorities at Colesburg. Boers shelled British camp at Mooi River, but retired after our artillery had fired a few shots.

25th: Great battle near Belmont. Kimberley relief force under Lieutenant- General Lord Methuen, comprising 7000 men of various arms, engaged between 4000 and 5ooo Boers drawn from the Boshof, Fauresmith, and Jacobsdal districts. Attack commenced about seven o’clock in the morning, and the battle raged with great fury for several hours, resulting in a decisive victory for British arms. General Buller and staff leave Cape Town. Destination unknown. A British patrol, 200 strong, reconnoitred in the direction of Arundel, near Naauwpoort, and found the enemy in force. The Boers attempted to cut off the train in which the force had reconnoitred, but our cavalry compelled them to retire, and the patrol returned to Naauwpoort with four men slightly wounded. Artillery engagement at Mooi River. British camp ineffectually shelled by the enemy. Umvoti Mounted Rifles attacked by Boers at Tugela Drift. Enemy retired. Shelling at Mooi River. Force from Estcourt attacked enemy at Willow Grange, and carried the position, afterwards retiring. Big battle at Belmont, Lord Methuen’s force defeated large force of Boers and captured their camp.

Boers retreat from Mooi River. Communications with Highlands restored. Barkly East evacuated. Lord Methuen’s column engaged the enemy at Grasspan, and gained another decisive victory. Cronje and a number of the Boer force withdrew from Mafeking. A successful sortie made from Kimberley.

26th: Telegraphic and railway communication with Estcourt re-opened. British force under Lord Dundonald reaches Estcourt. Stormberg occupied by Boers.

27th: Mooi River forces marched to Estcourt. Troops bivouacked at Frere. Bridge discovered blown up. Boer commandoes move towards Colenso.

28th: Big fight at Modder River. Methuen’s column again defeat the enemy after ten hours’ fighting. Lord Methuen wounded. Sortie from Kimberley; severe fighting; our loss, twenty-two killed, including Major Scott Turner, twenty-eight wounded.

30th: Boers fell back on Colesburg.

December 1899

4th: Communication established with Kimberley.

7th: General Gatacre’s column fired the first shot at Carnarvon, the occasion being an affair of outposts. General Hunter, with 500 Natal Volunteers and 100 Imperial Light Horse, made a night sortie from Ladysmith, and destroyed two Boer big guns, and captured a Maxim. Modder River bridge completed.

8th: Temporary bridge at Frere completed, and the first train with material passed over. Arundel occupied by our forces without serious opposition.

10th: General Gatacre’s column met with a severe reverse at Stormberg, being surprised by the Boers and forced to retire. Six hundred British taken prisoners. Indecisive battle at Magersfontein. Lord Methuen’s full force engaging a large Dutch commando.

11th: Fighting at Magersfontein continued. The Highland Brigade suffered severely, their casualties numbering 620. General Wauchope was killed.

12th: Part of Ladysmith relief column advanced to Colenso without opposition.

13th: Sir Charles Warren arrived at Cape Town. Troops moved forward from Frere, and took up a position overlooking the Tugela. Enemy endeavoured to outflank General French’s column at Arundel, but, after a hard day’s fighting, were compelled to retire.

15th: General Buller attempted to force the passage of the Tugela. A fierce and bloody battle ensued, the British retiring after losing ten guns and over 1000 men killed, wounded, and captured.

17th: Lord Roberts appointed Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, with Lord Kitchener as chief of the staff. Large reinforcements ordered out.

18th: General Joubert reported to have resumed command of the Boer force north of the Tugela.

22nd: Casualties reported from Ladysmith; 9 killed and 18 wounded. Total casualties of the siege up to date : 70 killed and 236 wounded.

26th: Unsuccessful sortie from Mafeking. An effort was made to push the Boer cordon back northward, but failed. Our losses were 21 killed, 15 wounded, and 18 prisoners.

28th: H.M.S. “Magicienne” captured the German liner “Bundesrath” near Delagoa Bay, with contraband of war on board.

30th: Skirmish near Dordrecht. Forty men of the British force were cut off in a donga, owing to their refusal to leave a wounded officer. They were relieved next day. The British loss was only two wounded.

January 1900

1st: The enemy round Ladysmith celebrated the New Year and the anniversary of the Jameson Raid with a nocturnal salute, all the guns firing into the town . Fall of Kurman . This place, after a stout resistance, fell into the hands of the Boers ; 12 officers and 129 police were captured. Colonel Plumer and Colonel Mouldsworth, from Rhodesia, with 2000 men, began their march south to the relief of Mafeking.

4th: The Boers retired from Molteno. Further fighting near Colesberg.

6th: The Boers made most determined attack on Ladysmith. Fighting lasted from dawn until 7.30 p.m. The enemy suffered severely, and were repulsed on all sides. The First Suffolk attempted the capture near Rensburg at night . Owing to a false cry of “Retire ” the regiment fell back. Our losses: 40 officers and 43 men killed , and 5 officers and 54 men wounded, and 2 officers and 78 men prisoners.

10th: Lord Roberts and his staff arrived at Cape Town.

15th: Boers attacked an outpost near Colesberg, and were repulsed with a loss of 20 killed and 50 wounded. New Zealanders particularly distinguished themselves.

16th: Boers forced to remove the position of their big guns before Mafeking.

17th: A body of New South Wales Lancers caught in ambush at Rensburg.

18th: Second Tasmanian Contingent (Captain A. H. Riggall) 47 officers and men, left for South Africa.

20th: Action at Venter’s Spruit. Lasted 13 hours, and was warmly contested. General Clery captured ridge after ridge, and bivouacked on the ground he had gained. Our losses: Two officers killed and 11 wounded, and 290 men killed and wounded.

23rd: Capture of Spion Kop. The Boer position was attacked at night,and the garrison fled.

24th: Abandonment of Spion Kop. At dawn the Boers began heavily to shell our men, causing considerable losses. At night the position was found untenable, and a retirement was ordered. Casualties : Killed, 27 officers, 177 N.C.O.’s and men; wounded, 33 officers and 670 men; 191 returned as missing.

25th: Sir Charles Warren’s forces re-crossed the Tugela without any losses.

27th: Message from the Mayor of Mafeking to the Queen upon the hundredth day of the siege.

30th: Prieska, on the Orange River, occupied by a mixed force of all British arms.

February 1900

2nd: Reconnaisance from Rensburg. Several hills the Boers had been holding rushed and taken, the enemy offering very little resistance.

5th: The Tuegala crossed again. The heights of Vaal Krantz were captured at the point of the bayonet.

6th: The difficulty of our position on Vaal Krantz became apparent. The enemy made a desperate effort to recover their position, but were driven off.

7th: Evacuation of Vaal Krantz. The number of guns brought to bear on our position at Vaal Krantz, and the revelation through the operation of a balloon that the position was a veritable death-trap, enforced the wisdom of a retreat.

9th: The Tugela re-crossed again. By this date all our troops had recrossed to the south side of the river. Disaster to the Tasmanian Contingent at Jasfontein, near Rensburg. Two killed and nine taken prisoners.

10th: Lord Roberts arrived at Modder River.

11th: After some hard fighting at Ramdan the Boers retired and General French then moved forward.

12th: Skirmish near Rustenburg. The Boers were again driven back. Cole’s Kop abandoned. The Boers showed in great force west of Rensburg, and compelled a retirement of British troops from Cole’s Kop. Seizure of Dekiel’s Drift, the Boers being shelled by General French out of their position.

13th: General French made a march of 25 miles and seized Klip Drift, on the Modder, capturing three of the enemy’s laagers, with supplies. Rensburg occupied by the enemy. General Clements fell back on Arundel.

14th: British convoy on the way to Kimberley captured by the Boers.

15th: Relief of Kimberley. General French dispersed the enemy from the southern side of the town, capturing their laager, store, depot of supplies, and ammunition. Magersfontein and Spyfontein were evacuated by the enemy on the same day. The enemy retreated to Koodoosrand Drift.

16th: Capture of Cingolo Hill. Rear-guard of the Boers attacked at Drieput, and a portion of their convoy captured.

17th: General Brabant engaged the Boers near Dordrecht, and cleared the country between the town and Penhoek. Pursuit of Cronje continued by General Kelly-Kenny. Successful reconnaissance by Colonel Henderson from Arundel.

18th: Severe fighting at Paardeberg, where Cronje was being gradually surrounded. Capture of Monte Cristo by General Lyttelton’s Division.

19th: Capture of Hlangwane. The success of the previous day rendered the Boer position untenable, and it was captured by the Fusilier Brigade. Re-occupation of Dordrecht by General Brabant, the Boers taking to flight.

20th: Re-occupation of Colenso by General Hart, after slight resistance.

21st: The 5th Division crossed the Tugela at Colenso, and drew back the enemy’s rearguard. The Somersets lost 100 killed and wounded.

23rd: Advance on Ladysmith continued. The Boer position on Grobbelaar’s Kloof attacked.

24th: Heavy shell fire from the enemy on Grobbelaar’s Kloof, described as the most effective since the battle of Spion Kop.

26th: Colesberg and Rensburg, having been evacuated by the Boers, were occupied by General Clements. Jamestown occupied by General Brabant.

27th: Assault on Pieter’s Hill. The enemy were scattered in all directions. Our casualties, 2000. Surrender of Cronje at Paardeberg on the anniversary of Majuba. About 4000 prisoners taken.

28th: Ladysmith reached. Lord Dundonald, with Natal Carbineers and a composite regiment, entered Ladysmith at night.

March 1900

1st: Sir Redvers Buller visited Ladysmith. Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener visited Kimberley.

2nd: Cronje and his staff, having been sent down to Simon’s Town, were put on board H.M.S. “Doris.” Total casualties during the siege of Ladysmith announced. The deaths in action or from wounds were 24 officers and 235 men ; and from disease, six officers and 340 men. The wounded numbered 70 officers and 520 men, exclusive of civilians.

4th: General Brabant advanced from Dordrecht against Labuschagni, and was completely successful.

5th: General Gatacre occupied Stormberg without opposition. The enemy in full retreat were pursued by our troops. Tasmanian Bushmen (Sergeant-Major Goucher) 52 officers and men, left for South Africa.

6th: Natal reported by Sir Redvers Buller to be clear of the enemy.

7th: Battle of Poplar Grove. The enemy took to flight, closely followed by the cavalry, horse artillery, and mounted infantry. Lord Roberts made Poplar Grove his headquarters in the evening. Casualties : Two officers killed and three wounded and two men killed, four wounded, and one missing. President Kruger and Steyn were both present at the battle, and tried ineffectually to rally their troops. The Boer force retreated to Abraham’s Kraal, where their flight was arrested by the Bloemfontein police.

8th: Message from Lord Roberts stating that General Clements had occupied Norval’s Pont. Fighting at the Lower Tugela. Colonel Bethune retired to the south of the river.

10th: Battle of Drietfontein. Lord Roberts fought another battle in his advance on Bloemfontein. The enemy retreated under cover of darkness, leaving 173 of their dead on the field, and 20 prisoners were taken. Lord Roberts addressed a vigorous protest to the Boer presidents on the abuse of the white flag and the use of explosive bullets.

12th: Lord Roberts, continuing his march on Bloemfontein, reached Aasvogel Kop in the morning, and by night arrived at Venter’s Vlei, 17 miles from the Free State capital. His march was unopposed. News received in Ladysmith that Newcastle had been looted by the Boers.

13th: Bloemfontein occupied. Lord Roberts was cordially welcomed by the inhabitants, and the British flag was hoisted over the Presidency. Mr. Steyn and the majority of the fighting Boers fled. The railway to the north of the town was broken up by the British, thus cutting off about a dozen locomotives for the Transvaal.

16th: President Kruger issued a proclamation to the effect that he had annexed the Free State, making Kroonstadt the capital.

17th: Hundreds of rebels surrendering in the Orange River districts, 2500 rifles being handed in. The British cavalry holding Thaban’chu, midway between Bloemfontein and Ladybrand. Lord Methuen arrived at Warrenton, resisted the Boers, and secured a fort on the Vaal River.

18th: Lord Roberts censured Major-General Sir Wm. Gatacre for the British disaster at Stormberg.

20th: Lord Kitchener arrived at Prieska, on the Orange River, without any opposition from the Boers. On arrival he took 33 prisoners and captured 200 stands of arms, supplies, and explosives, but the Transvaalers escaped along the river.

21st: A reconnaissance from Fourteen Streams resulted in the artillery being engaged in a duel the whole of the morning, the Boer guns eventually being silenced.

22nd: The Boers in Natal sending all their women and children back to the Transvaal.

24th: The enemy reported to be massing at Kroonstad with enormous supplies.

26th: Philoppolis occupied by the Tasmanians and the Remington Brigade.

27th: General Joubert, Commander-in-Chief of the Transvaal army, died unexpectedly of an internal complaint. Major-General Clements occupied Jagersfontein and Fauresmith, to the south-west of Bloemfontein, without opposition. Lord Roberts still detained at Bloemfontein, preparing for his advance northwards.

28th: A strong Boer force sharply, but fruitlessly, attacked a relief column for Mafeking at Warrenton.

30th: General French, with a portion of French’s cavalry, had a smart engagement with the Boers at Karee. The enemy were unable to withstand a combined attack, and abandoned their trenches. They were forced back, and saved from disaster by reinforcements from the direction of Brandfort. The British losses were: Killed, 1 officer, 19 men; wounded, 7 officers, 159 men. Among the Boer prisoners captured was a brother of Mr. Steyn, the ex-President of the Free State.

31st: A British convoy and seven guns caught in ambush at Koorn Spruit, near Bloemfontein. The British losses were heavy, the total number being 350, including 200 reported missing.

April 1900

1st: General Louis Botha succeeded the late General Joubert as Commander-in-Chief of the Boer forces . A party of 90 Dragoons charged the Boers near the waterworks at Bloemfontein, and re-captured 91 of the British prisoners , including 11 officers.

4th: The British forces met with another disaster at Reddersburg, near Bloemfontein . Five companies were outnumbered, and, although holding out for 21 hours, had to surrender . Our casualties were: Killed, 10; wounded , 35; prisoners, 546.

9th: Sharp fighting at Wepener between the Cape Mounted Rifles and a large body of Boers. The struggle lasted throughout the day, but the enemy was kept in check.

10th: A sortie was made from Wepener , and the garrison succeeded in capturing one of the Boer guns.

13th: The enemy poured a terrific fire into the British trenches at Warrenton, but without doing any damage . A determined attack was made by 200 Transvaal Boers on a party of Orpen ‘ s Horse at Daaspoort. The British had two killed and one wounded , but the Boer losses were heavy.

18th: Lord Roberts, in publishing despatches , censured Sir Charles Warren for not having personally visited Spion Kop at the time of the crisis, and Sir Redvers Buller for having shown a disinclination to assert his authority, and to see for himself what was the best to be done under the circumstances.

21st: Artillery duel between Sir Redvers Buller ‘s advance post at Elandslaagte and the Boers were driven back across the river.

23rd: Lord Roberts commenced his march northward.

25th: The siege of Wepener raised. Mainly through General French’s brilliant cavalry tactics the Boers were compelled to abandon De Wet’s Dorp, to raise the seige of Wepener, and to retreat northwards as fast as possible. Our casualties at Wepener were 33 killed and 132 wounded.

26th: Tasmanian unit Imperial Contingent (Captain R. C. Lewis) 122 officers and men, left for South Africa.

27th: General Hamilton junctioned with General French, and the latter followed up the retreat of the Boers.

29th: The enemy made a persistent attack in the neighbourhood of Thaban’chu. The Boers were compelled to abandon that position and fall northwards.

May 1900

3rd: Brandfort, a Boer stronghold, 30 miles north of Bloemfontein, captured after a stubborn resistance, by General Hamilton. Lord Roberts personally directed the operations.

4th: The colonial troop, had a determined fight with the Boers on the Vet River, and captured a Maxim gun and took 25 prisoners.

6th: General Hamilton occupied Winburg. A brilliant engagement fought by Sir Archibald Hunter at Windsorton, where he found a large force of Boers strongly entrenched.

10th: Lord Roberts advanced his headquarters to the north of the Zand River, the Boers being routed in all directions.

12th: Lord Roberts made a victorious entry into Kroonstad. Steyn, the ex-President, fled during the previous night. The Boers vigorously attacked Mafeking, and the native quarter of the town was destroyed.

17th: Relief of Mafeking, after a siege of 215 days, accomplished by Colonel Mahon’s column. The total casualties during the siege were is follow : Whites : Combatants, 4 killed, 5 wounded ; natives attached to the garrison and non-combatants, killed and wounded, 704.

18th: Lord Roberts commenced his advance northwards from Kroonstad.

21st: Lord Roberts continuing his advance with such marvelous rapidity and admirable strategic combination as to completely demoralise the Boers.

22nd: General Hamilton occupied Helibron.

24th: Lord Robert’s vanguard crossed the Vaal River, the enemy being continually in the rear.

28th: Lord Roberts reached Klip River, within 18 miles of Johannesburg. His column suffered no casualties. The enemy did not expect him till the following day, and therefore did not remove the rolling stock.

29th: Sir Leslie Rundle junctioned with General Clements, fought a desperate battle at Senekal against 4000 Boers. The Grenadier Guards were most conspicuous in the face of a hail of bullets. British casualities : Killed, 40; wounded, 120.

30th: Surrender of Johannesburg. Dr. Krause, formerly State prosecutor, waited upon Lord Roberts and formally surrendered the goldfields capital . General Hamilton occupied Florida, eight miles to the west of Johannesburg, on the way to Krugersdorp.

31st: Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal, abandoned, the garrison dismissed, and President Kruger runs away.

June 1900

2nd: The Boers reported to be massing to resist the British advance on the city. Residents furious at the desertion of Kruger with all the available bullion, leaving the officials unpaid.

5th: Pretoria occupied by the British, and officially entered by Lord Roberts.

6th: Unconditional surrender at Pretoria by General Botha.

10th: Laing’s Nek and Majuba evacuated by the Boers. Almond’s Nek, the last defile to the Charleston flats splendidly carried by the Dorsets.

14th: Major-General Powell, in the Western Transvaal, assumed control of Zeerust district, and occupied Rustenburg. Lord Kitchener narrowly escaped capture by De Wet.

July 1900

4th: The armies of Lord Roberts and General Buller joined hands at Vlakfontein, where forces under Generals Clery and Hart met.

7th: General Buller arrived at Pretoria, and had a lengthy interview with Lord Roberts.

11th: A force at Nitral’s Nek, 18 miles from Pretoria, consisting of five companies of the Lincolnshire Regiment, two guns of the Royal Horse Artillery, and a squadron of Scots’ Greys, overpowered; all the guns, and most of the men captured.

21st: A force of 2000 Boers under De Wet broke through Hunter’s and Rundle’ s forces between Bethlehem and Ficksburg, and captured a supply train with 100 men of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

23rd: Lord Roberts began a general advance from the position east of Pretoria, which he had held since June 12.

30th: General Hunter, with the aid of other generals , drove the Boers to the south of Bethlehem into the hills, and got them hemmed in, in the Caledon Valley. General Prinsloo surrendered with 4140 men , the same number of horse, and 3 guns. Olivier, with 1500 broke away, though he and his three sons were afterwards captured.

August 1900

4th: Harrismith surrendered to General Macdonald, and railway communication with Natal was secured.

16th: A garrison at Eland’s River attacked by Boers relieved by Lord Kitchener.

24th: General Pole-Carew occupied Belfast.

27th: General Buller forced the Boers’ position at Bergendal, and, making skilful use of his artillery, occupied Machadodorp.

28th: Release by the enemy of the British prisoners at Nooitgedacht, 1800 in number.

September 1900

1st: Lord Roberts issued a proclamation, annexing the Transvaal to her Majesty’s dominions.

6th: A combined advance made on Lydenburg, and the town occupied. General Botha made a stand at the heights overlooking the town, but was driven there, and pursued through moumtainous and difficult country

11th: The disorganization of the Boers was complete, and Mr Kruger recognizing this, fled to Lorenzo Marques.

13th: Lord Roberts declared that the war had degenerated into irregular warfare, and that he would vigorously and severely repress such guerrilla operations. General French seized 43 locomotives, stores, and ammunition, and (17th) 50 more locomotives were seized at the Avoca station.

23rd: About 3000 Boers under General Pienaar destroyed their guns and surrendered to the Portuguese authorities.

October 1900

6th: General Buller left for England.

25th: De Wet attacked by General Bartan at Frederickstadt and driven from his position with heavy loss.

27th: De Wet engaged at Rensburg Drift, and two guns recaptured from him, he again losing heavily. Casualties on the British side up to the end of October; Total deaths in South Africa, 553 officers and 10,145 N.C.O.’s and men; sent home as invalids, 1422 officers and 33,077 N.C.O.’s and men; missing and prisoners, 7 officers and 822 N.C.O.’s and men; total, 982 officers and 44,044 N.C.O.’s and men.

November 1900

30th: Transfer of the command of the British forces from Lord Roberts to Lord Kitchener, and return of Lord Roberts to England. The grand total of the force at his command estimated at 210,000. De Wet defeated at Bothaville, but with Commandant Hertzog threatening a raid in Cape Colony.

December 1900

3-4th: General Knox engaged De Wit, and forced him to retire to the north-east of the Caledon.

7th: First and Second Tasmanian contingents feted and disbanded at Launceston.

11th: General Knox, pursuing De Wet, captured from him a 15-pounder Krupp gun, a pom-pom, and large quantities of ammunition, transport, etc…

13th: Four companies of the Northumberland Fusiliers captured by Dela Rey at Nooitgedacht.

29th: British post at Helvetia captured, 50 being killed and wounded and 200 taken prisoners.

January 1901

1st: Reported that good effects were following Lord Kitchener’s proclamation protecting burghers who voluntarily surrendered.

3rd: Boer leaders commenced grand coup for invasion of Cape Colony in the hope of being joined by large numbers of Dutch colonists.

28th: Lord Kitchener determined to sweep the country between the Natal and Delagoa Bay railways, and commenced the movement by driving Commandant Beyers from his position in the Wilge Valley.

February 1901

6th: Other bodies of the enemy driven before the converging columns, with heavy loss in many cases , and Ermelo occupied. General Smith-Dorrien attacked by Botha at Bothaville, but drove the enemy off after hard fighting. The concentration under Botha was broken up, and he slipped away with about 3000 men, and De Wet fared no better. The blockhouse system commenced, it being estimated that 14,700 square miles of the Transvaal and 17,000 square miles of the Orange River Colony had been shut in.

22nd: Peace negotiations initiated through Mrs. Botha, who informed Lord Kitchener that General Botha was willing to meet him to discuss means of bringing the war to an end.

28th: At a meeting at Middleburg General Botha said he was afraid peace could not be secured without independence. Certain terms were offered by the British, but refused.

March 1901

3rd: General Lyttelton directed a combined movement to clear the country east of the railway between the Orange River and the Thaban’chu-Ladybrand line.

24th: Great loss inflicted on the enemy by Sir Binon Blood’s column, which captured over 1000 Boers, and several guns.

27th: Sixth Tasmanian Contingent, two companies (Lieutenant-Colonel Watchhorn) 259 officers and men, left for South Africa.

May 1901

5th: Lord Methuen and General Babington engaged the enemy between Kaffir’s Kraal and Brakpan, and captured a 12-pounder.

10th: Leave granted to General Botha to send a private telegram to Mr. Kruger, laying before him the condition of the country and the Boer cause.

June 1901

10th: Messrs . Burger and Steyn issued a notice pointing out that the state of affairs was fully described and intentionally put in the worse light. A conference took place between Botha, De Wet, and De la Rey and the so called Governments of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony, at which it was decided to vigorously prosecute the war . Lord Ktchener gradually sent home the whole of the original force of the Imperial Yeomanry with several of the Australian contingents , and they were replaced with 16,000 Imperial Yeomanry , and other contingents from the colonies . Nine newlyenrolled militia battalions were sent from England to enable a similar number of units to return from South Africa. Small fights and skirmishes were of continual occurrence , and captures steadily diminished the number of the Boers.

July 1901

Large refugee camps were established in various districts, and the number of persons in camps in July was given as 93,940.
August 1901

8th: Commandant De Villiers and two field cornets surrendered at Warmbaths.

12th: For the week ending this date , 825 of the enemy were captured or surrendered , with 754 wagons, 5580 horses, and 33,000 cattle. Commandant Wolmarans, ex-chairman of the First Volksraad , captured.
September 1901

17th: A force of mounted infantry under Maior Gough surprised and taken by the Boers, who were reported to be 1000 strong, under Botha.

26th: Botha moved to the Zulu border, and attacked Forts Itala and Prospect, but was beaten off aften ten hours’ severe fighting. Three Boer commandants were killed.

29th: Lord Kitchener issued a proclamation providing for the sale of the properties of the Boers still in the field.

30th: De la Rey made a night attack on a camp at Moedwill, but was driven off after heavy loss on both sides.

October 1901

Fierce attack on a column under Colonel Benson near Bethel. Colonels Benson and Guinness and other officers were killed. Stubborn fighting followed, till a relief column approached , and both sides lost heavily.
November 1901

De Wet began to concentrate his forces on the north-east of the Orange River Colony.

4th: Chris Botha, cousin of General Botha, captured.

13th: The total casualties from the beginning of the war till the end of October were: Deaths, 855 officers and 16,989 N.C.O.’s and men ; sent home as invalided, 2504 officers, and 57,130 N.C.O.’s and men.

14th: Boer leaders banished, including Kopper, ex-chairman of the Volksraad. Commandant Maritz captured a British convoy at Boendon, after a sharp fight, disabling 14 out of an escort of 35•

19th: Mrs. Steyn, wife of the ex -President of the Orange River Free State, departed from South Africa. Lieutenant Hall chased and captured 20 Boers at Vlakfontein.

December 1901

3rd: Boers hustled in the Ermelo district, two commandos suffering heavily.

4th: 250 Boers were captured owing to temporary fixed bases.

11th: De Wet, with 2000 Boers, surrounded Colonel Wilson’s column near Helibron, but was repulsed.

12th: Shocking brutality reported to British wounded by the enemy, prisoners being robbed and stripped nearly naked, and the dead mutilated.

17th: A plot to take Johannesburg frustrated, and numerous arrests made. De Wet engaged by the Imperial Light Horse and Yeomanry; 5 killed, 20 wounded.

24th: Severe fighting at Tafelkop, the enemy being mistaken for Yeomanry; 20 Britsh killed, 35 wounded, 27 Boers killed.

26th: De Wet successfully rushed a camp at Tweefontein ; 6 officers, and 52 men killed.

January 1902

6th: Scots Greys had an encounter at Bronhorst Spruit ; 6 killed, 13 wounded.

7th: The Boer losses for the past six months : 1162 killed, 876 wounded, 7593 prisoners , 1912 surrendered.

15th: Botha’s command engaged ; Botha, after being chased for seven miles, escaping in a Cape cart . Disaster at Amersfontein, in which the Australians showed great bravery. Major Vallentin, with 250, was sent out to hustle the Boers . The enemy suddenly sprang up from all directions and fired in volleys. Several officers were killed.

21st: Seasoned Indian troops, totalling 6000, sent out to exchange places with the young soldiers in South Africa.

23rd: 300 Boer prisoners at Bermuda offered to swear allegiance to the throne , and the rest willing to swear neutrality.

28th: Lord Methuen , at Boschport, captured 136 waggons , 19,011 cattle, 28,750 sheep , and 35 Boer families. Twelve Yeomanry captured at Western Transvaal by 150 Boers . De Wet again dispersed at Leeuwspruit after a sharp engagement with Colonel Garrett ‘s column.

February 1902

6th: Scottish Horse killed 7 and captured 131 De la Rey’s command.

7th: Great drive of De Wet’s 2000 men finished, about 800 Boers being killed, wounded, or taken prisoners.

16th: A Battalion of Malta Mounted Infantry engaged four commandoes in difficult country at Zwickerboschrand. Ten men were killed, and 54 wounded, but the enemy was repulsed.

18th: Officially announced that Pretoria will remain the seat of the Government of the annexed Republics.

23rd: Colonels Parks and Williams surprised three laagers at Armston, and captured 164 Boers.

27th: In an engagement with 700 Boers by Colonel Garrett’s New Zealanders, 20 men were killed and 38 wounded. The Boers cleared, leaving 100 horses and 6000 cattle.

March 1902

3rd: Lord Methuen set out from Wynberg to Lichtenburg to meet General Grenfell, when his column was surprised by De la Rey’s command. Forty British were killed, 77 wounded, and 200 missing; .30 Boers killed, and 28 wounded. Lord Methuen, who was wounded, and several British officers were captured.

14th: Lord Methuen released by De la Rey.

26th: Further extensive operations carried out, the troops covering 80 miles in 24 hours, and capturing 89 Boers.

27th: Lieutenants Handcock and Morant shot by order of a British court martial. Lieutenant Witton ordered to be imprisoned for life.

April 1902

8th: Tasmanian “E” Company (Captain Morrisby) 121 officers and men, left for South Africa.

14th: General Ian Hamilton’s column killed 44 Boers, including Commandant Potgieter, and captured 54 others.

24th: Statistics issued at Pretoria show that this year 457 Boers were killed, 186 wounded, 4202 captured, and 1030 surrendered. Peace negotiations continued throughout the month.

May 1902

1st: Theaters and places of amusement re-opened at Johannesburg.

3rd: Steyn summoned his wife and children from Holland. Announced in House of Commons that one-third of Johannesburg refugees had returned.

7th: General Botha and seven other leaders leave Harrismith to attend a peace conference at Vereeniging on 15th inst.

8th: Major-General Elliott in a drive killed 10 and captured 200 Boers. Lord Kitchener arranged not to attack the commandoes represented at the conference.

13th: A British column moved north from Lindley, and captured 127 Boers. 18.-Members of two Governments, with De la Rey, arrived at Pretoria.

21st: Tasmanian “C” squadron of 8th battalion (Major Osborne) 125 officers and men, left for South Africa.

22nd: A practical ultimatum presented by Great Britain, with the intimation that in the event of refusal Lord Kitchener was ready to strike.

23rd: Conference at Vereeniging suspended pending the consultation of delegates at Pretoria.

25th: Commandant Visage and his commando surrendered at Balmoral.

26th: Boer generals remaining at Pretoria, but peace delegates have returned.

28th: Prisoners at St. Helena insist that peace has been proclaimed, and are packing up in readiness to return to South Africa. A field cornet and 200 Boers surrendered at Frankfort.

June 1902



Excerpt From:

  • Tasmanians in the Transvaal War (1905) Ref. AU6007 ISBN: 978 1 921081 41 5

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