So soon as General Rundle entered Senekal-
They were in the awkward position of having missed General Colvile and lost a pied-
In this dilemma a message was sent to General Rundle informing him of the desperate quandary.
The General, instantly reviewing the critical state of affairs, devised a strategical
plan which, he thought, would serve -
While the battle was proceeding, General Rundle received a communication from Lord Roberts ordering him to go to the assistance of General Brabant, who also was in difflculties. It became necessary, therefore, to effect the retirement. The manceuvre had, however, produced the desired effect, for the Boers had been somewhat hard hit, and had given up their aggressive operations, leaving the n;eighbourhood of Lindley open to our. force. On Wednesday the 3oth General Rundle was informed that De Villiers, the Boer Commandant, was seriously wounded, and that fifty Dutchmen had been killed, and many injured, whereupon a doctor and champagne were sent to the late enemy; this in spite of the fact that very early in the proceedings of Monday the Boers had commencect the battle with their customary treacherous tricks. From an adjacent homestead 'they had flown a white flag, taking care that directly the scouts went forward to accept their surrender they should be pelted liberally as a reward for their confidence. As a result, one of the British party was wounded mortally, and another severely. Fortunately, the next day (Tuesday) the ruffians received their deserts, for the farmhouse was liberally pounded by the 2nd Battery of Artillery. Nor was this the sole barbaric act of the day. A West Kent Yeoman, while scouting, had passed a Dutch farmhouse, and was invited in to coffee, being assured by the Dutchwoman, who desired to play the hostess, that no Boers had been near the place for days. Happily the wary yeoman refused, for he had no sooner turned to ride off than he was pelted with bullets from a party of Boers who had immediately rushed from the homestead to fire at him. His marvellous escape was merely due to the nature of the ground round the farm, which afforded him cover.
Still General Rundle's sense of humanity overcame the instinct of reprisal; for after the battle he offered shelter to the Boer wounded, even promising to tend them without considering them prisoners of war.
In the engagement at Biddulph's Berg thirty of the Bntish were killed and 150 wounded. Among the wounded officers were
On Thursday, May 31st, the troops proceeded to Ficksburg to the assistance of General Brabant, who had engaged the enemy near the Basuto Border on the Tuesday, and was sti]l fighting.
In spite of General Rundle's desperate fight, the 13th Battalion (Irish) Imperial
Yeomanry, on whose account the battle was under-
The Cape Times gave its version of the affair :-
"The story was told by Corporal Marks, who, with Trooper Brian, alone escaped capture. The force in question consisted of about 500 men, under the command of Colonel Spragge, and was comprised of the Duke of Cambridge's Own and the Irish and Belfast Yeomanry. The Duke's were I25 strong. With this force was a convoy of waggons, while the scouts, of whom our informant, Corporal Marks, was in command, numbered five.
"The little battalion left Kroonstad on May 25, under hurried orders to reinforce General Colvile at Lindley without delay. On their way they captured and disarmed a troop of sixteen Boers whom they found in possession of a quantity of ammunition. Taking their prisoners with them, they hurried on at full speed, arriving at Lindley on Sunday, May 27, about noon. As they entered the town a number of horsemen were seen galloping out at the other end in the direction of Heilbron. Much to their disappointment our men found that General Colvile had left at daylight that day, after some severe fighting, for Heilbron.
"On Wednesday night, after the gallant little band had been fighting against enormous odds for three days, Colonel Spragge decided to send one scout (C. Smith), in company of a Kaffir guide, in search of General Rundle, who was supposed to be in the neighbourhood of Senekal, with an urgent message for help. Corporal Marks and Trooper Brian were instructed to leave at the same time with a similar message for General Colvile. A close Boer line had been drawn round the position of the devoted garrison, and it was necessary to pierce the cordon to reach Heilbron. The scouts left unarmed, and after a terrible night of it, Marks and Brian got through the enemy's lines. The night was bitterly cold, and the Boers had lighted camp fires, which proved serviceable guides to the two men. They passed so close to the pickets that they could hear them talking and laughing perfectly distinctly. Taking a circuitous route, they kept the Heilbron road some distance on their right, and by rapid marching reached Colvile's camp at seven o'clock on Thursday morning. The message was delivered to the General, whose reply was that he could do nothing. Unhappily, Smith and the Kaffir were captured by Boers, and Smith was shot on the spot.
"The following is a copy of the despatch given to Corporal Marks for delivery to
Colonel Spragge :-
'Your message received 7 A.M. I am eighteen miles from Lindley and twenty-
"General Colvile appears to have believed that the little force could make a dash
for it and cut their way through to Kroonstad. In any case, he did not see his way
to go to the help of the men who had been marching to reinforce himself. Knowing
that this message could be of no possible service to Colonel Spragge, and realising
th~ urgency of the case, Corporal Marks decided to take the responsibility of not
wasting time by returning to deliver this message, and he and Brian made for Kroonstad
as hard as their horses would gallop. About eight miles north-
Another account said :-
In regard to the loss of the Duke of Cambridge's Yeomanry,. there was a good deal of criticism, and accounts dealing with the raison d~etre of the disaster vary. Mr. Winston Churchill, in support of Sir H. Colvile, declared that it was sent out with the absurdly inadequate escort by the fiat of a higher authority, with the full knowledge that Heilbron was surrounded by a force of Boers estimated at from 4000 to 5000 men. It was also despatched without warning, being sent, or at any rate received at Heilbron, so that it was impossible to operate from the latter place to assist its passage, especially as it was actually captured almost immediately after leaving Kroonstad, and fourteen miles from Heilbron.
"In the case of the Yeomanry, the message giving notice of the change of place, where it was to join the 9th Division from Ventersburg to Lindley, was by error addressed to the 9th Brigade, and this was not received by Sir H. Colvile till the 21st of June. The first intimation of their position was given by a messenger to General Colvile's camp when twenty miles out of Lindley from the Yeomanry, then five miles on the other side on the Kroonstad road. The messenger asked for reinforcement and supplies, but did not represent the situation as very serious, as, in fact, at that time it was not. But at this juncture General Colvile was surrounded by a large force of Boers on his flank and rear, and short of supplies himself, and on a time march under orders to rcach Heilbron on the 29th. He therefore advised Colonel Spragge to retire on the Kroonstad road, and authorised him, if necessary, to abandon his baggage, &c."
Lord Methuen, who at the time was on the march to Kroonstad, was ordered off, as
we already know, to the rescue. Within half-
The official list of prisoners of war showed 22 officers and 863 non-
Among the officers were the following
13th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry-
The following officers were also wounded on June I and 2
3rd Battalion Imperial Yeomanry-
Soon after this time the 9th Division was split up, owing to the necessity of detaching
small forces: Generals Smith-
|The Growth of the Transvaal|
|The Web Thickens|
|The Zulu War|
|Isandlwana, an hour by hour account|
|Affairs at Home|
|The First Anglo Boer War|
|Between the Wars|
|The Fate of SGT Elliot|
|The Siege of Pretoria|
|The Reform Movement|
|The Critical Moment|
|The Fate of the Raiders|