The Battle of Stormberg
was the first British defeat of Black Week
, in which three successive British forces were defeated by Boer irregulars
in the Second Boer War
When the British first drew up a plan of campaign against the Boer republics, it was intended that the 3rd Division
commanded by Major General William Forbes Gatacre
would secure the area known as the Cape Midlands, immediately south of the Orange Free State
, in preparation for an advance along the railway running from Cape Town
. In the event, many of the division's troops had to be diverted to Natal
after disasters there, and Gatacre's reduced force arrived late. By the time they were ready to take the field, Boers from the Orange Free State had already seized the important railway junction of Stormberg.
Gatacre heard of the loss of Stormberg on 8 December at Graaff Reinet
. He determined to make an immediate counterattack to recover the place. A force of 3,000 was to be taken by train to Molteno
, the nearest railway station to Stormberg still in British hands, and march by night to attack a hill known as the Kissieberg which dominated the Boers' position. The force consisted of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
(960 men), the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Irish Rifles
, (840 men), the 74th and 77th batteries of the Royal Field Artillery
and 250 mounted infantry detached from various infantry battalions. Other detachments (including the 1st Battalion, the Royal Berkshire......