Topic: BatzB - Coetzees Drift
South African (Second Boer) War
The Battle of Coetzee Drift, South Africa, 5 May 1900
The Times Account, 7 May 1900
The account is transcribed below.
The Times, 7 May 1900, p. 7.
THE CAPTURE OF BRANDFORT.
(THROUGH REUTER'S AGENCY.)
BRANDFORT, May 4.
The capture of Brandfort was the result of a great combined movement, admirably conceived and well executed. The night before our advance 4,000 Boors moved here, taking up a line of strong defences with the avowed object of opposing our force to the bitter end. As a result of Lord Roberts's strategy, however, the enemy were forced to retreat hastily, nearly losing a convoy with guns and entirely relinquishing the defence of the town.
Lord Roberts was present on a kopje north of Karee, from which he was in heliographic communication with each column.
On the right, General Bruce Hamilton's Brigade moved east along a line of kopjes. East of the line of communications, and close in touch with Bruce Hamilton, followed Maxwell's Brigade, with Wavell on the left, these forming General Tucker's Division. In the centre, General PoleCarew's Division advanced, with Inigo Jones on the right and Stevenson on the left, while Hutton's Mounted Infantry Corps, consisting mainly of Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders, made a wide detour to the east and arrived on the east side of the town, where they were totally unexpected by the enemy.
The advance in force had been preceded by the occupation the night before of two small kopjes commanding a deep ugly-looking spruit, where it was known that the enemy daily held the passage. Two battalions of Guards were detailed by General Pole-Carew for this purpose. They moved silently after nightfall and occupied the kopjes without opposition. This step greatly facilitated our advance, since the Boers wisely relinquished the spruit, thus allowing the passage of our whole force unopposed.
About three hours after the march had started heavy artillery fire was heard on the right. General Maxwell, finding two of the enemy's guns posted on a good position, had set his artillery to engage them. This it did at a range of 1,500 yards. Both sides fired furiously for a short time, but the Boer guns were silenced completely.
Soon afterwards gun fire was heard on the left. General Hutton had come into touch with the enemy, who were holding a strong position, but, his arrival being totally unexpected, they had left several small kopjes unoccupied. Seizing these, General Hutton opened fire with No. 9 Field Battery and sent Colonel Alderson to try to outflank the enemy on the left. The Boers were unable to withstand the raking shrapnel fire, and, evacuating the kopjes, streamed away across the plain towards a small hill immediately above and commanding the town. As they left No. 9 Battery placed several shells in their midst. As soon as the retreat of the Boers was perceived General Hutton ordered a portion of his troops to advance in pursuit. Major Riming ton seized the hill, and the enemy retired, leaving the town at our mercy.
Colonel Alderson, meanwhile, in trying to outflank the enemy, found their main position. His galloping Maxim received a heavy "Pom-Pom" fire, and he was obliged to retire to the other side. General Maxwell forced the enemy's position, and about 2 o'clock the whole of the eastern force was observed four miles away trekking north.
Several prisoners were taken, one of them being the commandant of the town, who had returned in order to destroy the instruments at the telegraph office.
Among the defending force was the IrishAmerican contingent. The townspeople declare that the behaviour of this corps was riotous. When the 'fighting began, they say, the Irish-Americans refused to take part in it, only manning a kopje close to the town.The foreign military attaches with the Boer: were assembled on the kopjes north of the town 'with maps and glasses, and it appears that while watching our advance in front they failed to perceive General Hutton's Brigade, whose arrival caused them all to retreat precipitately.
The Battle of Coetzee Drift, South Africa, 5 May 1900, Roll of Honour
Citation: The Battle of Coetzee Drift, South Africa, 5 May 1900, The Times Account, 7 May 1900