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Drakensberg Experience, Battlefields and Midlands Meander

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Central Drakensberg Battlefields

The battlefields in the Central Drakensberg area have always been very much worth a days trip reliving the past.

spionkop battlefield central DrakensbergThe battlefields in the Central Drakensberg area have always been very much worth a days trip reliving the past. The Drakensberg and Natal Midlands offer many opportunities to re-discover British, Zulu and Boer clashes on the battlefield. Infactthe central Drakensberg is now part of the Battlefield Route, an experience that is a South Africa tour highlight.

Names such as Winston Churchill, Generall Sir Redvers Buller, Mohandas Ghandi, Jan Smuts and Louis Botha are part of the rich tapestry of the war, which records the triumph and tragedy of famous battles and engagements such as Talana, Spionkop, the Armoured Train incident, Colenso Heights and the 118 days Siege of Ladysmith.

spionkop battlefield central DrakensbergMAJOR WARS The first involved the continuing clash between the Voortrekkers and the Zulu nation during the period 1836-1852. Refusing to be subjected to British rule in the Cape Colony, the Voortrekkers headed for the hinterland. They wished to govern themselves and maintain their cultural identity and language, but after crossing the Drakensberg mountains, the trekking groups came into contact with the Zulu in Natal, leading to disputes over land and other issues.

After trekker leader Piet Retief and 101 of his group were killed by King Dingane, there followed a series of battles, particularly around present day Estcourt.

Central Drakensberg Battlefields

  • The Siege of Ladysmith - Along with its attendant battles, this tragic chain of events remains a bleak epic in Britain's long history of imperialism. The deliberate massing of regiments in an area encircled by hills offered Boer field-commanders the perfect opportunity to isolate and harass their foe with impunity. To prevent a disaster of humiliating proportions, British officers were directed from the highest quarter to relieve the town at all costs.
  • The battle of Spionkop - The Battle of Spion Kopwas fought about 38 km (21 miles) west-south-west of Ladysmith on the hilltop of Spioenkop(1) along the Tugela River, Natal in South Africa from 23–24 January 1900. It was fought between the South African Republic and the Orange Free State on the one hand and British forces during the Second Boer War during the campaign to relieve Ladysmith and resulted in a British defeat.
  • The Battle of Colenso - The Battle of Colenso was the third and final battle fought during the Black Week of the Second Boer War. It was fought between British and Boer forces from the independent South African Republic and Orange Free State in and around Colenso, Natal, South Africa on 15 December 1899. Inadequate preparation and reconnaissance, and uninspired leadership led to a heavy, and in some respects humiliating, British defeat.
  • The capture of Winston Churchill - During the Boer War, Winston Churchill, then a war-correspondent, was travelling aboard an armoured train on 15 November 1899, when it was ambushed by Boer commandos. Churchill and many of the train's contingent were captured, many others escaped, including wounded soldiers who had been carried on the train's engine.
  • the battle of Willow Grange- the Battle field site of Willow Grange (Nov. 23rd 1899) is the furtherest point east on the Battlefield route.