Battle of Blood River Poort

Last updated
Battle of Blood River Poort
Part of Second Boer War
Date17 September 1901
Location
27°46′S30°32′E / 27.767°S 30.533°E / -27.767; 30.533 (Battle of Blood River Poort) Coordinates: 27°46′S30°32′E / 27.767°S 30.533°E / -27.767; 30.533 (Battle of Blood River Poort)
Result Boer victory
Belligerents
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Flag of Transvaal.svg  South African Republic
Commanders and leaders
Hubert Gough Louis Botha
Strength
c. 750 1,000
Casualties and losses
23 killed, 21 wounded, 241 men and 2 field guns captured Light

In the Battle of Blood River Poort or Scheeper's Nek [1] on 17 September 1901 a Boer commando led by Louis Botha crushed a British force commanded by Major Hubert Gough during the Second Boer War.

Louis Botha South African politician

Louis Botha was a South African politician who was the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa—the forerunner of the modern South African state. A Boer war hero during the Second Boer War, he would eventually fight to have South Africa become a British Dominion.

Hubert Gough British Army general

General Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough was a senior officer in the British Army in the First World War. A favourite of the British Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, he experienced a meteoric rise through the ranks during the war and commanded the British Fifth Army from 1916 to 1918.

Second Boer War War between two Boer Republics and the United Kingdom

The Second Boer War was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is also known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, and although British reinforcements later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought the Boers to terms.

Contents

Background

In August 1901, the Boer leaders determined to send forces south into Natal and the Cape Colony hoping to cause an uprising in the Dutch-majority Cape Colony or at least to gain recruits for their armies. Accordingly, a commando under Botha moved southeast toward Natal while another commando under Jan Smuts raided south into the Cape Colony.

Jan Smuts Military leader, politician and statesman from South Africa

Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts was a South African statesman, military leader, and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948. Although Smuts had originally advocated racial segregation and opposed the enfranchisement of black Africans, his views changed and he backed the Fagan Commission's findings that complete segregation was impossible. Smuts subsequently lost the 1948 election to hard-line nationalists who institutionalised apartheid. He continued to work for reconciliation and emphasised the British Commonwealth's positive role until his death in 1950.

British Intelligence detected the plan, but Botha evaded the British intercepting columns. The cold spring rains made the march especially difficult for the Boers' horses. On 14 September, Botha let his 1,000-man commando camp near Utrecht to permit the horses to recover. Meanwhile, Gough's 24th Mounted Infantry (MI) made a 500-mile (800 km) move by train from Kroonstad in the Orange Free State to Dundee in Natal. Gough received intelligence that Botha and 700 Boers were nearby. [2]

Kroonstad Place in Free State, South Africa

Kroonstad is the third largest town in the Free State and lies two hours drive on the N1 from Gauteng. Maokeng is an area within Kroonstad, and is occasionally used as a synonym of the town itself. It is the second-largest commercial and urban centre in the Northern Free State, and an important railway junction on the main line from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Maokeng is Sesotho and means "place of the thorn trees ".

Orange Free State independent Boer sovereign republic in southern Africa between 1854–1902

The Orange Free State was an independent Boer sovereign republic in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist after it was defeated and surrendered to the British Empire at the end of the Second Boer War in 1902. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province. Extending between the Orange and Vaal rivers, its borders were determined by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1848 when the region was proclaimed as the Orange River Sovereignty, with a British Resident based in Bloemfontein. Bloemfontein and the southern parts of the Sovereignty had previously been settled by Griqua and by Trekboere from the Cape Colony.

Battle

Gough led his MI from Dundee to De Jaeger's Drift, a ford on the Buffalo River. Dismissing the intelligence report as exaggerated, he led three companies on a reconnaissance across the river. Through his field glasses, he spotted 300 Boers who dismounted at a farm near Blood River Poort. Leaving his colleague Lieutenant-Colonel H. K. Stewart with 450 MI in the rear, Gough moved forward into a plain in the early afternoon, planning to surprise the Boers at the farm. Unknown to Gough, Botha was moving around his right flank with 700 men. [3]

Botha's mounted attack completely swamped Gough's outnumbered force. Lieutenant Llewellyn Price-Davies of the King's Royal Rifle Corps won the Victoria Cross for valiantly defending the field guns. Gough was captured, escaped, captured again and finally escaped on foot in the darkness. On the British side, four officers and 19 other ranks were killed or mortally wounded, 2 officers and 19 men wounded, and 6 officers and 235 men captured. According to Boer policy, the captured were stripped of their weapons and any useful gear, and most of their clothing, and were allowed to walk to the nearest British post. The Boers seized two field guns, 180 rifles and a large quantity of small arms ammunition. The 200 captured horses turned out to be in poor condition and of little use to the raiders. Boer losses were light. [3]

Kings Royal Rifle Corps infantry rifle regiment of the British Army

The King's Royal Rifle Corps was an infantry rifle regiment of the British Army that was originally raised in British North America as the Royal American Regiment during the phase of the Seven Years' War in North America known as 'The French and Indian War.' Subsequently numbered the 60th Regiment of Foot, the regiment served for more than 200 years throughout the British Empire. In 1958, the regiment joined the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and the Rifle Brigade in the Green Jackets Brigade and in 1966 the three regiments were formally amalgamated to become the Royal Green Jackets. The KRRC became the 2nd Battalion, Royal Green Jackets. On the disbandment of the 1st Battalion, Royal Green Jackets in 1992, the RGJ's KRRC battalion was redesignated as the 1st Battalion, Royal Green Jackets, eventually becoming 2nd Battalion, The Rifles in 2007.

Victoria Cross Highest military decoration awarded for valour in armed forces of various Commonwealth countries

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for valour "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces. It may be awarded posthumously. It was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been personally presented by the British monarch. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.

Aftermath

Botha was unable to exploit his victory because he found all the crossings of the Buffalo River blocked by the British. The Boers moved to the southeast, hoping to find a place to cross into Natal. On the Zululand border, Botha attacked a British camp named Fort Itala, believing it to be weakly defended. Instead, the Boers received a bloody nose when 56 of their men were killed or wounded. When Botha realized that British forces were approaching in overwhelming strength, he turned back into the Transvaal, his raid a failure. [4]

Sources

Footnotes

  1. Badsey, p. 128
  2. Pakenham, p. 562
  3. 1 2 Pakenham, p 563
  4. Pakenham, p. 564

Related Research Articles

First Boer War war between the South African Republic and the United Kingdom

The First Boer War, also known as the First Anglo-Boer War, the Transvaal War or the Transvaal Rebellion, was a war fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881 between the United Kingdom and Boers of the Transvaal. The war resulted in Britain’s accession to the establishment of the Second Republic.

Siege of Ladysmith Engagement in the Second Boer War

The Siege of Ladysmith was a protracted engagement in the Second Boer War, taking place between 2 November 1899 and 28 February 1900 at Ladysmith, Natal.

Colenso, KwaZulu-Natal Place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Colenso is a town in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is located on the southern bank of the Tugela River. The original settlement was contained within a loop on the river, but it subsequently expanded southwards and eastwards. It lies on the main Durban - Johannesburg railway line some 190 km (118 mi) north-west of Durban.

The Maritz rebellion, also known as the Boer revolt or Five Shilling rebellion was an armed insurrection which occurred in South Africa in 1914 at the start of World War I, led by Boers who supported the reestablishment of the South African Republic in the Transvaal. Many members of the South African government were themselves former Boers who had fought with the Maritz rebels against the British in the Second Boer War, which had ended twelve years earlier. The rebellion failed, and the ringleaders received heavy fines and terms of imprisonment.

The following lists events that happened during 1901 in South Africa.

Christiaan de Wet Boer general

Christiaan Rudolf de Wet was a Boer general, rebel leader and politician.

Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM was a prominent South African and Commonwealth statesman and military leader. He served as a Boer General during the Boer War, a British General during the First World War and was appointed Field Marshal during the Second World War. In addition to various Cabinet appointments, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 to 1924 and from 1939 to 1948. He played a leading part in the post war settlements at the end of both world wars, making significant contributions towards the creation of both the League of Nations and the United Nations.

Battle of Colenso A battle between British and Boer forces, South Africa on 15 December 1899

The battle of Colenso was the third and final battle fought during the Black Week of the Second Boer War. It was fought between British and Boer forces from the independent South African Republic and Orange Free State in and around Colenso, Natal, South Africa on 15 December 1899.

Battle of Magersfontein Battle of the Second Boer War

The Battle of Magersfontein was fought on 11 December 1899, at Magersfontein near Kimberley, South Africa, on the borders of the Cape Colony and the independent republic of the Orange Free State. British forces under Lieutenant General Lord Methuen were advancing north along the railway line from the Cape in order to relieve the Siege of Kimberley, but their path was blocked at Magersfontein by a Boer force that was entrenched in the surrounding hills. The British had already fought a series of battles with the Boers, most recently at Modder River, where the advance was temporarily halted.

Battle of Elandslaagte battle

The Battle of Elandslaagte was a battle of the Second Boer War, and one of the few clear-cut tactical victories won by the British during the conflict. However, the British force retreated afterwards, throwing away their advantage.

Battle of Bergendal

The Battle of Berg-en-dal took place in South Africa during the Second Anglo-Boer War.

Marshall's Horse was a South African cavalry unit formed in 1899 at the start of the Second Boer War to provide military support for the British campaign. The unit was created from the Uitenhage and Grahamstown Volunteers. They formed in Grahamstown, initially comprising 244 members before rising to 500 in late 1899. The unit's commanding officer was Major George Marshall CMG.

The Battle of Bothaville (Doornkraal) on 6 November 1900 was a rare defeat of Christiaan de Wet's Boer commando at the hands of a force of British Mounted Infantry (MI).

Relief of Ladysmith

When the Second Boer War broke out on 11 October 1899, the Boers had a numeric superiority within Southern Africa. They quickly invaded the British territory and laid siege to Ladysmith, Kimberley and Mafeking. Britain meanwhile transported thousands of troops both from the United Kingdom itself and from elsewhere in the Empire and by the time the siege of Ladysmith had been lifted, had a huge numeric superiority.

Battle of Elands River (1901)

The Battle of Elands River took place near the Elands River Poort mountain pass on 17 September 1901 during the Second Boer War. During the battle a Boer raiding force under Jan Smuts destroyed a British cavalry squadron led by Captain Sandeman, a cousin of Winston Churchill, on the Modderfontein farm. This battle is therefore also known as the Battle of Modderfontein.

The Battle of Ladysmith was one of the early engagements of the Second Boer War. A large British force which had concentrated at the garrison town of Ladysmith launched a sortie on 30 October 1899, against Boer armies which were slowly surrounding the town. The result was a disaster for the British. The main body was driven back into the town, and an isolated detachment of 800 men was forced to surrender to Commandant De Wet. The Boers did not follow up their advantage by proceeding towards the strategically important port of Durban, and instead began a Siege of Ladysmith, which was relieved after 118 days.

In the Battle of Groenkloof on 5 September 1901, a British column under Colonel Harry Scobell defeated and captured a small Boer commando led by Commandant Lötter in the Cape Colony during the Second Boer War.

The Battle of Tugela Heights, consisted of a series of military actions lasting from the 14 February through to the 27 February 1900 in which General Sir Redvers Buller's British army forced Louis Botha's Boer army to lift the Siege of Ladysmith during the Second Boer War.

Penn Symons British Army officer

Major-General Sir William Penn Symons KCB was a British Army officer who was mortally wounded as he commanded his forces at the Battle of Talana Hill during the Second Boer War. While his forces won the battle, they had to abandon their position and fall back to Ladysmith. Symons and the more severely wounded were left to the Boers; he died three days later as a prisoner of war. A monument to his valour was raised in Victoria Park, Saltash, Cornwall, UK.