"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess
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The Battle of Wolvekuil Kopjes, South Africa, February 14, 1901 Topic: BatzB - Wolvekuil
The Battle of Wolvekuil Kopjes
South Africa, 14 February 1901
Wolvekuil Kopjes, an action fought on 14 February 1901, during the guerrilla phase of the Second South African War, as a result of British attempts to capture the 1,400 - strong Boer commando led by General Christiaan de Wet into central Cape Colony from the south of the Orange Free State. On 12 February de Wet failed in an attempt to obtain supplies by raiding Philipstown, 68 kilometres north-west of Colesberg. He was subsequently pursued by a column of nearly 1,100 mounted troops - mainly Australians (from Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia) and New Zealanders - with eight guns and a pom-pom gun, formed into two corps with the whole commanded by Brigadier-General Herbert Plumer, which had been sent south from the Transvaal to help deal with the incursion.
Plumer's force followed de Wet in torrential rain until able to force the Boers to fight a rearguard action at Wolvekuil Kopjes, 32 kilometres north of Philipstown, two days later. The British attack began at 8.45 a.m. with an advance by two squadrons of King's Dragoon Guards against a salient hill in the Boer's left centre. This movement was unsupported, and resulted in the party being surrounded and captured. The corps led by Lieut.-Colonel Cradock, composed almost entirely of Australians and New Zealanders, was next sent to attack the enemy right. After a ‘very dashing assault', during which 23 casualties were sustained, the Boer flank was turned and de Wet forced to abandon the position. Further rainstorms hindered the British effort to bring his flight to a standstill.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 88-89.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
L.S. Amery, (ed.) The Times History of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, Vol. 5 (1907), London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
R.L. Wallace (1976) The Australians at the Boer War, Canberra: Australian War Memorial & Australian Government Publishing Service.
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