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Battle: Battle of Paardeberg

February 18 - 7, 1900

Campaign: Advance on Pretoria  
War: Boer War 1899-1902
 
Where: Paardeberg Drift
Orange Free State
South Africa
 
 

Opponents

Belligerents: Canada Transvaal
Britain Orange Free State
 
Commanders:
Field Marshal Roberts
General Kitchener
Major-General Sir John French
 
Forces: 15,000 Men 7,000 Men
 
Result:

British Victory

 
Casualties: Canada & Allies Opponents
Killed - 348 Killed - 350
Wounded - 1,213 Wounded
Captured Captured - 4,500
Missing - 59 Missing

This was an important battle during the Boer war which occurred because of Lord Methuen's drives to relieve the besieged cities of Mafeking and Kimberley from Boer forces. The first stages of the event were initiated by Sir John French, the British Calvary commander whose horsemen had outflanked the Boers by driving around them to Kimberley. This forced the Boer commander General Piet Cronje to retreat from his positions at Magersfontein in order to reopen his lines of communication. As the retreat took place he was intercepted by French's forces at Paardeberg and he was forced to defend his position. 

The battle began on February 18th with the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry, composed of 866 men and 31 officers, among the attacking forces. A direct attack was made by the Imperial forces on the Boers on that first day with the result that the Boers pushed back the attacking forces resulting in 18 Canadian dead and 60 wounded which was the highest causality rate for a single day during the entire Boer war for the Canadians. It was decide by the British commanders that a more considered approach would be used rather then the deadly  frontal attack. The Boer forces were surrounded and a process of tightening the lines began. It was decided that on the night of the 26th-27th a surprise attack would take place to test the Boer positions. In the early morning the Canadian forces quietly advanced on the Boer positions and were just about on their lines when the Boers realized that the enemy was approaching and opened fire. The resulting confusion in the Canadian ranks saw men trying to dig in, some trying to mount an attack and yet others starting to retreat back to their jumping off spots. Eventually someone called out an order to retreat which most of the Canadian troops did. G and H companies from the Maritimes however held firm and continued firing into the Boer ranks at a furious pace. This sustained pressure convinced the Boer commander, General Cronje, that his position was hopeless and that he had done what he could and that it was time to surrender.

The Boer prisoners represented about 10% of all of the Boer forces (4000 men) and the battle seemed to be the starting point on the road to victory for the Imperial forces with much of the credit for the action's results going to the Canadian forces which had forced the action and won the battle.

Read Sir Arthur Conan Doyles exciting account of the Battle

 


Article/Document/Material Source:
Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/war/war.html