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ID #4835

Anglo-Boer War Battlefields: Belfast Dullstroom and Lydenburg, Mpumalanga

Boers were well-entrenched over a wide front along the Dalmanutha Plateau and the Steenkampsberg in their final bid to outwit the British.  French and Pole-Carew had preceded Roberts to Belfast, meeting constant opposition along the way. Roberts reached Belfast on August 25 1900, where he set up his headquarters.  After Bergendal, Hamilton had been left at Belfast to guard the railway line. Hearing of Buller’s predicament, Roberts dispatched Hamilton to go to Buller's assistance. Small groups of Boers were still in the hills as Hamilton set out for Lydenburg via Dullstroom and he was harassed along the way. As the British were entering Dullstroom, the Boers were disappearing over the hills on the other side. Dullstroom was described as having “nice houses, a kirk and mill, many fruit trees and a jolly little river full of small fish”.

Hamilton rested his troops before continuing towards Weimershoek.  At Zwagershoek the route narrowed and the British were “sitting ducks” for Boer snipers on the top of the hill.   The Royal Scots drew the short straw and the task of dislodging the Boers fell to them. The attack was successful and Hamilton’s troops advanced on Witklip from where Botha had retreated to Lydenburg.  There was much rejoicing as the first and second battalions of the Gordon Highlanders met up before entering Lydenburg.

Buller was recalled to England upon his return to Lydenburg in October 1900. Walter Kitchener was in command for a short time, but Colonel Park’s column at Lydenburg was the only one to be permanently established north of the Delagoa railway line during the guerrilla war. The task of rounding up the Boers began in earnest. “Sweeps” were undertaken with troops converging on the Steenkampsberg/Tautesberg from Middelburg, Belfast and Lydenburg. Colonel Urmston was sent from Belfast and Colonel Park from Lydenburg to capture the Boer Government camped at Windhoek (west of Dullstroom).  Muller attacked the Manchester Regiment under Major Hudson at Elandspruit (Kleinsuikerboskop – on the R540 northwest of Dullstroom). Heavy losses were suffered on both sides. The Boers withdrew under cover of a heavy fog.  The graves and a memorial are close to the battlefield.  The Boer Government escaped, but Park and Urmston captured Muller’s wagons three days later. 

National scouts, “handsuppers”, spies, the scorched earth policy and concentration camps made it more difficult for the Boers to evade the British. General Viljoen was captured by the Royal Irish outside Lydenburg, his two adjutants being killed in the action.  By May 1902, when peace was declared, the last remaining flicker of resistance in the Eastern Transvaal was from Muller. But what of the “agterryers”, Indian stretcher-bearers and black wagon leaders?  Sadly, little of their role has been recorded. For those interested to learn more about the role of Smith-Dorrien and the night attacks on Steenkampsberg and Verraaiersnek, as well as other skirmishes, contact details are provided below. AVAngboer

Contct:            Alastair and Marion Moir
Box 236 Lydenburg 1120
+27 (13) 235 3771 telephone and fax
e-mail: enquiries@cottonwood.co.za
web: www.cottonwood.co.za



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Last update: 2014-02-28 16:02
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.1

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