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The Battle of Sesmylspruit

Rob Milne
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4th June 1900 - The Second Battle for Pretoria

The day after the Battle of Kalkheuwel, Lord Roberts’s main army attacked the Boer defensive line in the ridges south of Pretoria along the Six Mile Spruit (Sesmylspruit). Comandant du Toit, on the Boer right, had withdrawn from Kalheuwel and had crossed Silkaatsnek into the bushveld. General Koos de la Rey and his men occupied the hills directly south of Pretoria, supported by a six-gun battery under Von Lossberg. Comandant Lemmer manned the main Boer defensive line along the Six Mile Spruit from Irene to a point opposite Quaggaspoort. The second Boer defensive line extended from Fort Skanskop to the Krugersdorp road in the west, under the command of Generals de la Rey and Botha.

Henry’s Mounted Infantry spearheaded the attack on the bridge and drift in the Boer centre and crossed the Six Mile Spruit, occupying Zwartkop directly to the north. The 7th and 11th Infantry Divisions then crossed the bridge followed by seven batteries of Royal Field Artillery (42 guns). The Boers responded with heavy artillery fire from the guns of Pretorius and Von Lossberg.

General Broadwood’s 2nd Cavalry Brigade moved to the west to find the Boer right flank (in the area of the present-day Hennops Picnic Spot). Ian Hamilton marched towards the Ridge and noticed a gap in the Boer defences to his left front. It was too late to recall Broadwood, so he ordered De Lisle’s Corps of Mounted Infantry to dismount and take the Ridge (the Skurweberg Range). Remounting on the other side of the Ridge he quickly captured a Maxim gun and two wagon loads of ammunition. Having been outflanked, the Boer defensive line was abandoned, and they fled towards Pretoria which surrendered the next day.

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Lieutenant-Colonel (later General) Sir Beauvoir de Lisle

 

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The Skurweberg: de Lisle broke through over the kloof on the left; the British guns were deployed on the flat ground on the right


Tour Highlights

  • View the rough terrain of the Skurweberg where General Broadwood found the Boer right flank
  • Stand where the Royal Field Artillery batteries deployed during the final stage of the Battle.
  • See the route of De Lile’s Mounted Infantry attack.
  • Stand next to the Drift where General Hamilton’s 21st Infantry Brigade crossed Six Mile Spruit.
  • Enjoy refreshments on the lawn overlooking the Drift from which the first successful British attack was made.

Fitness required: minimal walking.

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Rob Milne

Rob Milne robmilne.com

Rob Milne was born in Johannesburg and educated at St. David's Marist College and the University of the Witwatersrand. From an early age he spent most of his free time in the veld exploring South African battlefields and historic places, developing a keen interest in both South African Wars, archaeology and geology.

Rob Milne
Writer/Tour Guide

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