The Boers were now threatening the line between the Orange and Modder Rivers, and in consequence of various reports regarding their movements Colonel Broadwood proceeded to Sunnyside with the Royal Horse Artillery, Mounted Infantry, and Roberts's Horse, the newly-
On the 3rd of February General Macdonald with the Highland Brigade,. 9th Lancers,
9th and 62nd Batteries Royal Field Artillery, moved out in a westerly direction with
a view to blocking the main drift at Koodoesberg, and thus preventing a force reported
to be coming from Griqualand West from joining that coming from the north for the
purpose of cutting Lord Methuen's line of communica-
The General at once set himself to construct breastworks to protect the drift and
secure his positions on north and south of the river, while the 9th Lancers and their
scouts reconnoitred the surrounding country to ascertain the strength and disposition
of the enemv. They came on a sm~l picket of Boers-
On Monday both sides of the river were taken possession of. A large body of mounted Boers were seen advancing about 2000 yards off, but beyond firing a few shots at the British force no serious conflict took place. On Tuesday there was a smart race between our men and a large force of Boers advancing from their laagers. Both parties made for a big kopje, which was cleverly gained by the British after a breathless scramble. The enemy, worsted, galloped oft; pursued by the Lancers.
At nine o'clock on Wednesday, the 7th, the Boers, who had engaged themselves in dragging
a heavy gun to the scene of action, began to blaze out upon the Seaforth Highlanders.
These, with alacrity, sprang to action. As a private said, "It was not a Majesfontein
affair this time, and a holy joy filled our hearts at the prospect of having a little
bit of our own back." The enemy was established at the north end of Koodoesberg,
whence they shelled the works that were being constructed to protect the drift.
At the drift were seven companies of Highland Light Infantry. On the left bank were
the Argyll and Sutherland Highianders, half a battalion of Seaforths, two guns,
and the 9th Lancers observing both flanks. Holding the south end of Koodoesberg on
the right bank of the river were the Black Watch, half a battalion of Seaforths,
Meanwhile, at the request of General Macdonald, General Babington, with his own regiment of cavalry (12th Lancers) and two batteries of Horse Artillery, had been despatched from Modder River. They started at 11.30 A.M. on the 7th, and had they arrived. In time might have cut off the retreat of the enemy and entirly hemmed them in.
As it was, they marched along the north side of the Modder, and only arrived at four o'clock, in time, however, to quickly pursue the. foe in his retreat northwards, which retreat had been begun with all speed on the first hint of the coming of an additional force. The sufferings end~red by some of the cavalry were intense, and one man. expired through exposure and thirst. Others were in pitiable plight, but finally recovered.
While the great struggle was taking place it was discovered that. the enemy was intrenched at a small drift on the west. Whereupon two companies of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders became engaged in a smart skirmish, and gave the Federals so warm a time that by nightfall, after being shelled in their trenches, they were glad. enough to slink off. By morning the enemy had entirely evacuated their position, and not a vestige of them was to be seen. Had the cavalry not been utterly worn Out on reaching the scene of action, the Dutchmen would have been caught before they had time to seek refuge ill flight.
The troops then, under orders from Lord Methuen, retired to Modder River. They started from Koodoesberg on the evening of Thursday, made a moonlight march to Fraser's Drift, returning to camp footsore and dilapidated on Friday. But before leaving, the officers and men who fell in the action were buried on the south bank of the river. Among them was Captain Blair, who, after having been previously struck by a bullet, had been mortally wounded by a shell. Lieutenant Tait, a very gallant officer, a notable golfer, and a general favourite, also fell, and Captain Evlyn eventually died of his injuries.
General Macdonald's reconnaissance at Koodoesberg Drift was entirely satisfactory. The position there was important, as it prevented Boer reinforcements from passing vza the chief drift from Douglas to Majesfontein, and the movement served to confound thc enemy, and protect the operations of the Belmont garrison in the direction of Douglas, not to speak of its value in keeping Boer activities to the west of Majesfontein at the time when Lord Roberts was developing his plans in regard to the east of that place. The enemy had been kept amused and out of mischief, and been wholesomely trounced into the bargain!
The casualties, which were comparatively few, were as follows
|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|