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    The British disaster at Bronkhorstspruit was the opening action of this conflict. Based at Lydenburg in the Eastern Transvaal Colonel Anstruther had received orders towards the end of November 1880 to move to Pretoria with two companies of the 94th Regiment and its Headquarters and Commissariat and Transport components.


    Needlessly delaying his movements he set forth with his force of approximately 250 all ranks on 5 December. His column reached Middelburg on 15 December and, although now specifically warned that caution should be exercised, he unwittingly rode into a pre-set Boer position at Bronkhorstspruit.


    He was approached by a Boer fighter under a flag of truce and handed an instruction to withdraw. Being given just two minutes to do so, he replied that “I have my order to proceed with all possible despatch to Pretoria, and to Pretoria I am going, but tell the Commandant I have no wish to meet him in a hostile spirit”.


    Firing started soon thereafter. The British casualties were high with at least 77 killed or died of wounds and more than 80 wounded. Lt. Colonel Anstruther and 3 other officers were all killed. The remainder of his force were taken prisoner. 

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