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    2037 C/Sgt. Joseph Hardwick was slightly wounded during the capture of a Boer laager at Swart Kopjes on 6 January 1881.


    Colour Sergeant Joseph Hardwick is recorded as having served with his Regiment during the Zulu War qualifying for the clasp “1879”.


    He is recorded as having been slightly wounded during the capture of the Boer laager at Swartkoppies on 6 January 1881. 

    The action at Swartkoppies took place during the Siege of Pretoria. During the last days of December 1880 British forces under Colonel Gildea had attacked a Boer laager some 10 miles south of Pretoria but their advance, which naively assumed that the Boers had run away, was checked by concealed Boer marksmen and four of the British attackers were wounded before they hurriedly withdrew. 


    An article by Rob Jordan (ref: The South African Military History Society Journal) records: 


    “A week later, on 5 January 1881, a foraging party to a farm nine miles east of the town (Pretoria) spotted another Boer laager three miles further off amongst the Zwartkoppies in a bend of the Pienaars river.


    Bellairs again decided to attack and the following morning 462 men set off under  cover of darkness. The Pretoria Carbineers under Captain Sanctuary and guided by Corporal W. Struben performed a remarkable feat in riding round the laager undetected and taking up position behind it to cut off the Boer retreat, but at first light they foolishly betrayed their presence and drew fire.


    Gildea pushed ahead hurriedly with the main attack but the forty Boer defenders under Veldkornet Hans Botha held their ground tenaciously until overwhelmed. Two Boers were killed, three wounded and fifteen were taken prisoner; the rest had ridden away while a flag of truce was flying.


    Gildea wasted no time in withdrawing to camp as more Boers were riding in from other laagers to investigate. This was the only time during the siege (of Pretoria) that an attack was pushed to a successful conclusion but the cost to the garrison had been high – six men dead, twelve wounded – and the Boers had inflicted more than three times their own losses on the attackers, a grim warning for the future.


    Assistant Commandant General Erasmus was criticized after the defeat and replaced by Hendrik Schoeman.


    It appears that Schoeman inculcated greater alertness among the besiegers and set up a system for distant laagers to communicate by means of signal fires but the records of the Boer command are so meagre it is difficult to assess his contribution accurately.


    He certainly did nothing to change the essentially defensive tactics.” 

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