This battle marks the third attempt by the British forces to break through the Boer lines to relieve Ladysmith. General Buller decided to attack at Vaalkrans, which was to the east of Spioenkop. On the morning of the 5 February 1900 the British instigated an attack with a feint movement upstream from General Buller, who thought that he was in the best position at the time.
With the Boers distracted the British built a pontoon across the Thukela River and by 2pm they had crossed and held a position on the northern bank.
Further along the river 66 British guns rained shells on the Boers, this was the heaviest bombardment of the entire war. As night fell both sides held their positions.
The following day the Boers managed to regain some ground as the fighting continued. On 7 February, the third day of the battle, Buller decided to withdraw his men as he felt a concerted attack further east would be more successful. Many felt that he had, "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory". By the end of the day all of the British forces were once again on the southern bank of the Thukela River.
Despite the heavy fighting, just 33 British soldiers were killed while the Boers lost around 40 men.