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    Posted (edited)

    On 13 June the newly appointed General (Rev) Paul Roux with the Senekal Commando, another 200 men of the Ladybrand Commando, Capt John Hassell with his American Scouts, two pom-poms and a field gun advanced towards the British post at Virginia to destroy the important railway bridge over the Sand River.


    Lt -Col Capper, RE, in command of 730 men (mainly Railway Pioneer Regiment and Royal Lancaster Militia), had been warned of the impending Boer action by a “hensopper” and the British positions on both banks of the river which had been well entrenched. 

    Early on the 14th the Boers advanced, chiefly under cover of dongas and scrub on the east and west and initially wasted time and ammunition firing on empty tents left by Capper when he shifted camp. Although the nature of the ground gave them excellent cover and a potential advantage, the Boers retreated by noon, after some hours fighting, when a body of some 170 Yeomanry appeared on the scene.

    Major L.I. Seymour, Rly. Pnr. Rgt. 

    Louis Irving Seymour was born in Whitney Point, New York in the USA in 1860 and came to South Africa in 1889 to work as a Mechanical Engineer with De Beers in Kimberley. In 1896 he was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer to Rand Mines and other companies in the Eckstein Group.


    He left Johannesburg via Delagoa Bay on 14 October 1899. Arriving in Cape Town he was instrumental in the formation of the Railway Pioneer Regiment which recruited mainly from engineers and mechanics of all kinds from the Rand.


    Major Seymour was killed in the 14 June action at Sand River. Lt Col Capper, in his despatch of 15 June 1900 (LG 8 Feb 1901, p904), stated:
    “I especially deplore the death of Major Seymour, whose loss will not only be felt by us as a regiment, but by the whole of South Africa. He was killed while advancing with the extended line through the bush, to clear out the snipers.”

    His memorial stone stands in the small military cemetery near the old railway station at Virginia. In July 1900 his friends and colleagues decided to establish a technical library in his memory. A sum of £11 477 was collected and the Seymour Memorial Library was opened in 1905. It is now one of the special libraries falling under the Johannesburg Public Library

    Edited by archie777
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