Elandslaagte Battlefield

The monument marks the site of the Battle of Elandslaagte which occurred on 21 October 1899, shortly after the outbreak of the Anglo Boer war and the invasion of Natal by the Boers on 18 October. The Battle of Talana had been won by the British on 20th October and their forces in Ladysmith were not expecting any more trouble from the Boers. A cavalry force led by General French was reconnoitering north of Ladysmith when it encountered the Johannesburg Commando under Kommandant Kock.

British reinforcements were rushed to the scene by train and moved to attack the Boers who were encamped behind a horseshoe-shaped ring of hills near Elandslaagte station. Under heavy fire, British infantry assaulted the Boer positions and drove them off the crests of the hills. The Boers attempted to escape on their ponies, which had been placed on the reverse slopes of the hills, but an unexpected charge by the 5th Lancers ensured that they took heavy casualties before they could get away.

The British victory was nullified shortly afterwards when Sir George White received incorrect intelligence to the effect that a vastly superior force of Boers under General Joubert was approaching, and gave the order to fall back on Ladysmith. The scene was set for the siege of Ladysmith which began shortly afterwards.

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