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    On 20 October 1900 the combined commandos of De Wet and Liebenberg, numbering some 1500 men with two Krupps and two pom-poms, take up positions adjoining General Barton’s camp at Frederikstad (20 km north of Potchefstroom). Barton immediately signals for reinforcements and recalls his patrols.


    The burghers press closer, complete the encirclement and sustain a constant long-range fusillade until twilight. During the night of 21 October Barton abandons his camp at the railway station, leaving only his hospital, and disperses his troops on two hills, virtually splitting his force in two.


    He places the Royal Welsh Fusiliers with  five guns on Gun Hill, north-east of the station, the Royall Scots Fusiliers on a long hill to the south-west with the rest of his men thinly spread out in between. Barton, under the impression that De Wet is being pursued by a British force, resigns himself to taking defensive positions and waits for reinforcements.

    On 23 October the burghers push their ramparts to within 400m of South Hill. De Wet realises that Barton’s reinforcements are approaching and on 24 October he and General Liebenberg decide to force the issue. Having noticed that the besieged force relies on water from a small dam near the railway bridge, De Wet orders Liebenberg and Froneman to furnish 200 volunteers to occupy positions dominating the dam.


    He is convinced that, if the British can be denied water, they will surrender. The intended positions are about 1000m from the Boer lines, meaning that the men will be without support and will only be able to fall back safely after dark.


    In the early hours of 25 October only about half of the burghers ordered to occupy the exposed position at the railway bridge between Frederikstad and Gun Hill muster. They move out under cover of darkness and, leaving their horses about 2km away, they make their way to the bridge where they dig in.


    At daybreak some black attendants lead horses and mules to water. One turns and runs when ordered to surrender and is shot down. Barton initially thinks that only a few snipers are involved and sends ten ILH men to deal with them. However, when they are repeatedly repulsed, he launches a full-scale two-pronged attack, using five companies, against the isolated burghers.


    Elsewhere De Wet directs his attack at Barton’s main positions. Barton comes under fierce fire and is hard pressed until reinforcements led by Colonel H T Hicks  start arriving from Welverdiend Station, where they have detrained.


    The burghers near the railway bridge put up a stubborn resistance, but with their ammunition running low, they are forced to make a fast retreat over open veld towards the river and are mown down by artillery firing from high ground. In the confusion some burghers put up white flags while others continue firing. Liebenberg retires towards Klerksdorp while De Wet heads back to the Free State. 

    The burghers suffer heavily – losing about 80 killed, wounded and captured. In retaliation for the alleged abuse of the white flag the British deny a Boer doctor access to the wounded

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