The Battle Of Elandslaagte 21 October 1899, by Pam McFadden
Pam McFadden details the background of the Battle Of Elandslaagte 21 October 1899: Even before the Boers attacked Dundee, some of their forces were moving southwards to seize and destroy the railway line at Elandslaagte, to prevent supplies or reinforcements reaching Dundee and to establish contact with the Free State commandos.
Two Boer forward patrols under command of Field-Cornets Potgieter and Pienaar were the first to reach Elandslaagte on 19 October 1899. They were able to harass, but could not stop a train travelling northwards with supplies. The station master at Elandslaagte described what happened: 'Pick up the mails and go for all you're worth,' I said to the driver. There was hardly time, however. Loud cries, rattling hoofs, cracking reports of Mauser rifles, and the pattering of bullets all round. The Boers were upon us. Driver Cutbush did not wait. He put on full steam, and amid a shower of bullets went ahead. At the moment the van passed me several Boers rode on to the platform and fired over our heads at the train. Others galloped at breakneck speed firing after the train. Two shots from the train killed a horse and wounded his rider, but the train got off with no other injury than broken glass. That was the last British train, heading northwards to Dundee, to pass through the station until after the relief of Ladysmith in February 1900. Shortly after this incident the rest of the Boer forces, under command of General Kock, arrived. These included Commandant Adolf Schiel, in command of the German Corps, Commandant Ben Viljoen and the Johannesburg Commando and Commandant Jan Lombard with the Hollander Corps. The day was spent unloading supplies from the train held up by the Boers and prevented from continuing on its journey, setting up defences and that evening having a rip-roaring party in the Elandslaagte hotel. A number of the Boers were so drunk the following morning that Schiel gave orders for bottles of alcohol to be destroyed. The captured train personnel and the station master were invited and a good time was had by all. News of the Elandslaagte attack soon reached Lady smith. Lieutenant-General Sir George White V.C. therefore dispatched Major-General JDP French at 11:00 with the 5th Lancers, Natal Mounted Rifles, Natal Carbineers and the Natal Field Artillery to ascertain the situation at Elandslaagte. An infantry brigade under Colonel Ian Hamilton moved out in support. Later, when information on the battle of Talana and the position of the Boer forces in northern Natal was received, Elandslaagte's strategic importance became evident. It was an essential part of the retreat route from Dundee to Ladysmith. The Boer forces occupying the area would have to be dislodged. French's orders were to scout the area to test the Boer strength and, if necessary, to restore the lines of communication with Dundee. An advance guard of the 5th Lancers captured two members of the German Corps and, after they had been interrogated, French felt that the Boer force at Elandslaagte was weak enough to be defeated. White, however, received information that the Free Staters were planning to launch an attack on Ladysmith, and so he recalled French. Upon French's return to Ladysmith, White again called him to his headquarters, and somewhat buoyed by initial news of the outcome of the battle of Talana (Dundee), he issued orders for French's cavalry to clear the Boers from the Elandslaagte area, and cover the reconstruction of the railway and telegraph lines. The Boers had positioned themselves on the eastern arm of a horseshoe-shaped range of hills, facing southeast about one and a half kilometers from the station. [...]
This is an excerpt from: The Battle Of Elandslaagte 21 October 1899, by Pam McFadden.
Title: The Battle Of Elandslaagte
Author: Pam McFadden
Series: The Anglo-Boer War Battle Series
Publisher: 30 Degrees South Publishers (Pty) Ltd.
2nd edition. Johannesburg, South Africa 2014
ISBN 9781928211402 / ISBN 978-1-928211-40-2
Softcover, 15 x 21 cm, 48 pages, 25 b/w photos and maps
McFadden, Pam im Namibiana-Buchangebot
The Battle Of Elandslaagte on 21 October 1899 was one of the few tactical victories won by the British during the Second Boer War.
The Battle of Talana, taking place on the 20th October 1899, was the first major engagement of the Anglo-Boer War.