Altogether, It Was A Well-Fought And Useful Action,
Though It Cost The British Force Some Two Hundred Casualties, Of
Which Thirty-Five Were Fatal.
Cookson's force stood to arms all
night until the arrival of Walter Kitchener's men in the morning.
General Ian Hamilton, who had acted for some time as Chief of the
Staff to Lord Kitchener, had arrived on April 8th at Klerksdorp to
take supreme command of the whole operations against De la Rey.
Early in April the three main British columns had made a rapid cast
round without success. To the very end the better intelligence and
the higher mobility seem to have remained upon the side of the
Boers, who could always force a fight when they wished and escape
when they wished. Occasionally, however, they forced one at the
wrong time, as in the instance which I am about to describe.
Hamilton had planned a drive to cover the southern portion of De la
Rey's country, and for this purpose, with Hartebeestefontein for
his centre, he was manoeuvring his columns so as to swing them into
line and then sweep back towards Klerksdorp. Kekewich, Rawlinson,
and Walter Kitchener were all manoeuvring for this purpose. The
Boers, however, game to the last, although they were aware that
their leaders had gone in to treat, and that peace was probably due
within a few days, determined to have one last gallant fall with a
British column. The forces of Kekewich were the farthest to the
westward, and also, as the burghers thought, the most isolated, and
it was upon them, accordingly, that the attack was made.
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