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Ladysmith Wagon Hill

Location: Off the N11 just south of the town of Ladysmith

During the siege of Ladysmith that drew the world’s attention to this hot, dusty town in Natal Major General Hamilton was in charge of the southern sector around Ladysmith, containing the vital Wagon Hill and Caesar’s Camp. Hamilton, however, seems to have had little time for his responsibilities, preferring to stay in the headquarters in the centre of Ladysmith.

President Kruger constantly urged the Boer leaders around Ladysmith to take the town by storm: a course of action they finally agreed to attempt. On 6th January 1900 the Boers launched an attack on Ladysmith designed to overwhelm the garrison.

Attacks were launched around the Ladysmith perimeter. The main Boer attack fell on the crescent shaped hill on the southern perimeter, known as Caesar’s Camp, the western pinnacle of which was called Wagon Hill.

Due to the indolence of White and Hamilton, whose sector this was, the area was largely bereft of entrenchments. The Boers approached the brow of the hill in two columns. Finally challenged the Boers rushed the British posts. A confused fight took place in the dark.

Colonel Ian Hamilton brought up reinforcements. Fierce fighting took place along Wagon Hill and Caesar’s Camp. The Boers were finally driven back by a renewed attack and finally a charge over the crest of the hill managed to drive the Boers back.

The garrison did nothing further to assist Buller’s advance to relieve Ladysmith, other than listen anxiously to the sounds of the fighting on Spion Kop.