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.
After a year of guerrilla war, the Boer leaders decided to send significant raiding forces into the Cape Colony and Natal. About 1000 Boers in six commandos already operated in the Cape Colony. The Boer leaders hoped to cause an uprising in that Dutch-majority territory or at least to widen the theater of war beyond the Boer republics of Orange Free State and South African Republic. Smuts led a commando south into the Cape Colony, while Louis Botha attempted to cross into Natal.
Earlier Boer raids into the Cape Colony proved unsuccessful. All had been eventually hounded out by British mounted columns and had suffered painful losses. Smuts believed he could do better.
During the trek south to the Orange River, Smuts' commando lost 36 men. He finally crossed into the eastern Cape at Kiba Drift on 3 September.Major General Fitzroy Hart's British force had been guarding the ford, but General Herbert Kitchener mistakenly sent them away on another mission. The Basotho attacked the Boers on 4 September near Wittenberg Mission, killing three and wounding seven with spears and ancient guns before being driven off with serious losses. On 7 September, Smuts went on a scout near Moordenaarspoort (Murderer's Gorge), near Bethulie, when they were ambushed. All three of his companions were shot by the British and Smuts barely escaped.
The cold spring rains tormented both men and horses as British pursuing columns under the overall command of Major General Sir John French closed in on Smuts' raiders. On 13 September, the Boers were cornered atop the Stormberg Mountains () and escaped only when a friendly guide in the form of Hans Kleynhans appeared and led them down a precipitous route to safety. The night of 15 September nearly finished the raiders as freezing rain killed over 60 ponies and fourteen men went missing. In front of the Boers, every mountain pass was reportedly held by the British.
On 17 September, as Smuts' commando threaded through a gorge that opened out into the Elands River valley, a 17-year-old farmer named Jan Coetzer informed them that a British force held the pass at Elands River Poort in the next valley. Smuts commented, "If we don't get those horses and a supply of ammunition, we're done for".The British were C Squadron of the 17th Lancers. The Boers took advantage of a mist to encircle the British camp. When Smuts' vanguard ran head on into a Lancer patrol, the British hesitated to fire because many of the Boers wore captured British uniforms. The Boers immediately opened fire and attacked in front while Smuts led the remainder of his force to attack the British camp from the rear. The British party suffered further casualties at a closed gate that slowed them down. All six British officers were hit and four were killed, only Captain Sandeman, the commander, and his lieutenant Lord Vivian surviving. The 17th Lancers lost 29 killed and 41 wounded before surrendering. Boer losses were only one killed and six wounded.
One Boer noted, "We all had fresh horses, fresh rifles, clothing, saddlery, boots and more ammunition than we could carry away, as well as supplies for every man".In his book Commando, Deneys Reitz, one of the Boers, recounts how George Vivian pointed out his bivouac tent and told him it would be worth his while to take a look at it. Soon, Reitz, who had been wearing a grain-bag and using an old Mauser rifle with only two rounds of ammunition left, was dressed in a cavalry tunic and riding breeches and armed with a Lee-Metford sporting rifle. Reitz reports that he met Lord Vivian in London in 1935, on excellent terms. (Thomas Pakenham reports a more elaborate story. In this touching account, Lord Vivian overcame Reitz's reluctance to take the spoils of victory, and presented Reitz's original rifle to him in London in 1943. As Vivian died in 1940 this is impossible. )
The Boers destroyed a field gun that they captured, while two maxim guns were dumped in a dam after they proved to be too much trouble.
Smuts and some 250 men of his commando were able to operate for many months in the Cape Colony, but could not win the war. By this time, the Dutch in the Cape Colony were mostly convinced that the Boer republics were losing the war.Though the commando received generous help from Dutch civilians, and indeed commandeered their requirements from people of every background, the British refrained from burning Dutch farms in the Cape Colony as a matter of policy.
While Boers captured in the republics were well-treated as prisoners of war,Boer fighters native to the Cape Colony and captured there were sometimes treated as rebellious subjects and executed by the British. During the campaign, Smuts' commando, replaced worn out cloths with pieces of British khaki uniforms, and Lord Kitchener gave orders that all Boer fighters taken in British uniform were to be executed. Several members of the commando were shot on this basis, others for being treasonous subjects of the Cape Colony. When the remaining members found out about this order, they dressed themselves in civilian clothes as soon as they could.
The Second Boer War was fought between the British Empire and two independent Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. The trigger to the war was the discovering of diamonds and gold in the Boer states. 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 including a scorched earth policy brought the Boers to terms.
The 17th Lancers was a cavalry regiment of the British Army, raised in 1759 and notable for its participation in the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. The regiment was amalgamated with the 21st Lancers to form the 17th/21st Lancers in 1922.
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, a township founded in 1850.
Deneys Reitz (1882—1944), son of Francis William Reitz, was a Boer warrior who fought in the Second Boer War for the South African Republic against the British Empire. After a period of exile in Madagascar he returned to South Africa, where he became a lawyer and founded a major South African law firm. In the First World War he fought for the Union of South Africa against the German Empire, and then was an officer in the British Army, commanding several battalions. In later life he was a politician. Deneys Reitz was educated at Grey College in Bloemfontein.
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.
Francis William Reitz, Jr. was a South African lawyer, politician, statesman, publicist, and poet who was a member of parliament of the Cape Colony, Chief Justice and fifth State President of the Orange Free State, State Secretary of the South African Republic at the time of the Second Boer War, and the first president of the Senate of the Union of South Africa.
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.
Tarkastad is a Karoo semi-urban settlement situated on the banks Tarka River in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Tarkastad is on a plain to the north of the Winterberg mountain range on the R61 between Cradock and Queenstown and only three hours from Port Elizabeth. The name Tarkastad is believed to come from the Khoi-Khoi word Traka or the Celtic word Tarka and the Afrikaans word Stad. The fact that the town is overlooked by Martha and Mary; two peaks which look like two women resting after a hard day's work, also lends to the name.
Daniël Johannes Stephanus "Danie" Theron, was a Boer Army military leader. Born in Tulbagh, Cape Colony, he was raised in Bethlehem, Orange Free State. He is best known as the driving force behind the formation of a military bicycle corps used by the Boer Army for scouting and relaying messages. Originally trained as a school teacher, he became a lawyer and notary with his own law firm in Krugersdorp, Transvaal Republic, and was made a Captain in the Boer Army when the Second Boer War began. During the war, he was put in charge of a significant scouting unit, the Theron se Verkenningskorps (TVK). He fought at the Battle of Spion Kop and one of his most famous feats occurred at the Battle of Paardeberg. The British Commander in Chief, Lord Roberts, called Theron: "the hardest thorn in the flesh of the British advance", put a reward of £1,000 on his head – dead or alive – and dispatched 4,000 soldiers to find and eliminate the TVK.
In the Battle of Blood River Poort or Scheeper's Nek 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.
In the Battle of Groenkop on 25 December 1901, Head Commandant Christiaan de Wet's Boer commando surprised and defeated a force of Imperial Yeomanry under the command of Major Williams.
In the Battle of Nooitgedacht on 13 December 1900, Boer commandos led by Generals Koos de la Rey and Christiaan Beyers combined to deal a defeat to a British brigade under the command of Major General R. A. P. Clements during the Second Boer War.
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.
George Crespigny Brabazon Vivian, 4th Baron Vivian was a British soldier from the Vivian family who served with distinction in both the Second Anglo-Boer War and World War I.
Essendon is a village and civil parish in Hertfordshire 6 miles (10 km), south-west of Hertford.
The Leliefontein massacre occurred on 31 January 1902 during the South African War at the Leliefontein Methodist mission station in the Northern Cape, South Africa.
Manie Maritz (1876–1940), also known as Gerrit Maritz, was a Boer officer during the Second Boer War and a leading rebel of the 1914 Maritz Rebellion.
Encephalartos longifolius is a low-growing palm-like cycad in the family Zamiaceae. It is endemic to South Africa and is commonly known as Thunberg's cycad, breadpalm or broodboom. This cycad is listed as near threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The Battle of Elands River was an engagement of the Second Boer War that took place between 4 and 16 August 1900 in western Transvaal. The battle was fought at Brakfontein Drift near the Elands River between a force of 2,000 to 3,000 Boers and a garrison of 500 Australian, Rhodesian, Canadian and British soldiers, who were stationed there to protect a British supply dump that had been established along the route between Mafeking and Pretoria. The Boer force, which consisted of several commandos under the overall leadership of Koos de la Rey, were in desperate need of provisions after earlier fighting had cut them off from their support base. As a result, they decided to attack the garrison along the Elands River in an effort to capture the supplies located there.