The Battle of Modder River
(known in Afrikaans
as Slag van die Twee Riviere
, which translates as "Battle of the two rivers") was an engagement in the Boer War
, fought at Modder River
, on 28 November 1899. A British
column under Lord Methuen
, that was attempting to relieve the besieged town of Kimberley
, forced Boers under General Piet Cronje
to retreat to Magersfontein
, but suffered heavy casualties themselves.
Situation in November 1899
When the war broke out, one of the Boers' early targets was the diamond-mining centre of Kimberley
, which stood not far from the point where the borders of the Boer republics of the Transvaal
and the Orange Free State
, and the British-controlled Cape Colony
met. Although their forces surrounded the town, they did not press home any immediate assault. Nor did they attempt to cross the Orange River
on this front to invade Cape Colony.
Meanwhile, British reinforcements were on their way to South Africa. Their commander, General Sir Redvers Buller
detached the 1st Division
under Lieutenant General Lord Methuen to relieve the Siege of Kimberley
. This decision was made partly for reasons of prestige, as the capture of Kimberley (which contained the famous Imperialist and former Prime Minister of Cape Colony, Cecil Rhodes
) would be a major propaganda victory for the British.
During November, Methuen's force advanced north along the Western Cape Railway. They fought and won two engagements against Boers from the Orange Free State under... Read More