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    Immediately on receiving the news of the disaster at Bronkhorstspruit Sir Owen Lanyon, the British Administrator of the Transvaal, proclaimed Martial Law.


    Despatches were immediately sent to Sir George Pomeroy-Colley in Pietermaritzburg, the Governor and High Commissioner and Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in Natal advising that Potchefstroom had also been attacked and that the available forces in Pretoria were too weak to respond to the Boer aggression. 

    It is clear that Sir George Pomeroy-Colley had no wish to extend this conflict however, as a trained soldier, he considered that it was beholden on him to send reinforcements to Pretoria. 

    Accordingly he assembled a force consisting of the 5 companies of each the 58th Foot and the 3rd Battalion of the 60th Regiment together with nearly 100 members of the 2/21st Regiment, a Naval Detachment and about 100 Officers and men of the Royal Artillery with a variety of guns. 


    Mounted infantry men were drawn from the 58th and the 60th and together with some 70 members of the Natal Police his total force numbered about 1 400 all ranks. 

    On the 26th January Colley, having crossed the Natal/Transvaal border, established camp at Mount Prospect, still some distance from Laingsnek. 

    Fully aware of the cumbersome movements of the British force General Piet Joubert moved his force of some 2 000 burghers to the area immediately north of Laingsnek where three laagers were established. 

    Although Colley’s reconnaissance scouts reported on the Boer positions on 27 January he decided never the less to push his way through the Boer positions.


    Intending to capture and occupy Engelbrecht’s Kop, a feature which commanded both the Nek and the left Boer laager, Colley entrusted his attack to the 58th Foot and his 70 mounted infantrymen under Major Brownlow.


    Foolishly he did not call on the experienced local men of the Natal Mounted Police. The British attack was a disaster and although only a small number (less than a 100) of the Boer force occupied the heights of Engelbrecht’s Kop they were well prepared and routed the attacking British force. 


    Colonel Deane, who led the attack, was quickly killed – the total British casualties amounting to nearly 200 killed and wounded. 


    It was a stunning victory for the Boers and as Colonel Duxbury wrote: “there was far worse to come.” 

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