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Battle of Elandslaagte

Location: Between Dundee and the N11 turnoff between Newcastle and Ladysmith.

On 18th October 1899, with the expiry of President Kruger’s ultimatum to the British, the Boer forces from the Transvaal and the Orange Free State invaded the British colony of Natal along its north western border. In breach of General Buller’s advice from England, the outnumbered British contingent was deployed to the North of the Tugela River.

The British force at Ladysmith further south expected little trouble from the Boers for a time, but Major General French who was reconnoitering with his cavalry north of the town, encountered a further stray Boer commando, the Johannesburg Commando under Commandant Kock. Kock and his men were far in advance of the main Boer lines and in breach of General Joubert’s overall strategy. Kock and his men lay encamped behind a horse shoe shaped line of hills to the north of the British position.

Commanded by General French, but under the general supervision of Major General Ian Hamilton, the British infantry moved forward to the attack. Using his experience of the North West Frontier of India Hamilton directed the infantry to adopt an open formation, in contrast to the close order used by Symons at Talana.

The battle began with a bombardment from three of the Boer’s modern and highly effective Creusot French made guns, carefully positioned on the peak of the ridge.