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Soek Colesberg
Akkommodasie

 

Akkommodasie tiepe.

Prys per persoon deel.
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Lees in Afrikaans

Die geskiedenis van Colesberg.

 

Moontlik doen jy ’n bespreking vir 'n paar ekstra nagte se akkommodasie met die doel om meer van ons Colesberg se ryk geskiedenis te ervaar.

 

Colesberg is vernoem na Sir Lowry Cole - goewerneur van die Kaap van Goede Hoop 1828-1833.

Die eerste mense die Colesberg distrik was uit die Kliptydperk jagters en versamelaars. Hulle is in die vroeë 19de eeu gevolg deur trekboere, boere en sendelinge.

 

Teen 1814 het 'n sendingstasie gevestig in die hoop om vrede in 'n uiters oproerige grensgebied van die Kaapkolonie te bewerk.

 

Vinnig daarna het 'n tweede sendingstasie Hepzibah daar naby gestig en kort voor lank het die twee stasies meer as 1 700 / Xam San (Boesmans) gehad. Dit het 'n groot sekuriteit gevaar onder grens setlaars veroorsaak wat ervaar het dat hul veiligheid bedreig was. Hulle het 'n beroep op die goewerneur gedoen om hul veiligheid te verseker, maar daar was min verbetering en in 1818 die Kaapse koloniale se regering ingetree en 'n einde aan die sendingwerk gemaak.

 

Teen 1820 het verskeie groot plase in die distrik gevestig en in 1822 die boere 'n versoekskrif vir die vestiging van 'n dorp gerug. Die Regering het 18 138 morg grond aan die Nederlandse Gereformeerde Kerk toegestaan op 27 Januarie 1830 en so is Colesberg, vernoem na Sir Lowry Cole, (Goewerneur 1828-1833) gestig.

 

Vir baie jare was dit steeds een van die mees afgeleë buiteposte van Europese nedersetting aan die Kaap en as gevolg daarvan, het dit 'n groot basis gevorm vir kommersiële jagters, ontdekkers en koloniste in die Suider-Afrikaanse binneland.

 

Die distrik van Colesberg is op 8 Februarie 1837 geproklameer. Dit het 'n munisipaliteit in 1840 geword en oor die volgende 52 jaar het verskeie gedeeltes van sy grondgebied verdeel met nuwe afdelings by Albert en Richmond in 1848, Middelburg in 1858, Hannover in 1876 en Philipstown en Steynsburg in 1889.

 

Die nedersetting is deur 'n sentrale oorheersende Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk gelei. Wonings was gekenmerk deur hul vierkantige vorm en plat dak konstruksies. Hierdie vorm van residensiële argitektuur het later die sentrale, droë gebiede van die Kaapse alomteenwoordige styl geword. Inwoners is bedien deur die Die Colesberg tweetalige weekblad wat plaaslik in 1861 gestig was.

 

Die gedeelte is op 'n verhoogde plato geleë met plat koppies wat in pre-koloniale tye, deur groot troppe bokke bewoon was. Die streek het ’n tekort aan natuurlike hout gehad, maar sy uitgestrekte vlaktes was geskik vir skaapboerdery.

 

Colesberg se rol in die Anglo-Boere-oorlog

  • Op 14 November 1899 het Boeremagte van 700 mense onder die gesamentlike leiding van die Hoof kommandant ER Grobler en Generaal HJ Schoeman Colesberg ongehinderd ingekom.
  • Op 1 Januarie 1900 het Britse troepe onder leiding van majoor generaal John French Boeremagte in en om Colesberg aangeval.
  • Op 11 Januarie het hulle daarin geslaag om 'n 15 - pond Armstrong geweer te sleep na die top van Coleskop, wat oor die dorp uitkyk, en die volgende dag het hulle op die dorp begin skied.
  • Op 14 Februarie het die Britte onttrek uit hul posisies rondom Colesberg en by Arundel spoor hergroepeer.
  • Op 20 Februarie het die Boere begin om uit Colesberg te onttrek en op 28 Februarie het die Britse magte onder majoor generaal RAP Clements die dorp ongehinderd binne geloop.
  • Die spoorlyn na Colesberg verlegging is op 2 Maart 1900 heropen.
  • Maar Boeremagte het voortgegaan om die Oranje-Vrystaat oewer van die Gariep te beheer en op 2 Maart 1900 het hul die Colesberg pad se brug opgeblaas.
  • Hulle het uiteindelik onttrek uit die gebied op 7 Maart 1900.

 

Die Towerberg. (Magic Mountain.)

 

Die dorp lê in 'n tipiese Karoo veld en word omring deur koppies. Die bekende Coleskop kan gesien word op 'n afstand van meer as 40 km. Vroeë reisigers het dit "Towerberg" ("Magic Mountain") genoem. Die snaakse ding oor hierdie koppie is dat as jy nader kom het dit nooit nader gelyk nie. Aan die voet van die berg was 'n vlei waar reisigers hulle diere laat suip het en daar het wild ook gereeld die plek besoek.

 

Colesberg het 'n ryk geskiedenis ook naby verbind met die legendariese karakters van Suid-Afrika se diamantbedryf.

 

John O'Reiley wat die eerste diamant wat in Suid Afrika gevind was van sy eienaar Schalk van Niekerk gekoop het, het dit na Colesberg gebring om getoets te word. Dit is gebruik om die voorletters "DP” van Draper en Plewman, 'n winkel wat nog bestaan, op die winkelvenster te krap. Nadat die klip getoets was, was dit na Dr Guybourne Atherstone 'n bekende geoloog gestuur. Hy het bevestig dat dit 'n diamant was en so het die "Die Diamond Rush " begin.

 

SENSUS:

 

Die volgende sensus syfers beskikbaar is vir die indeling:

 

1841 sensus: 9,026 inwoners
1865 sensus: 8,115 inwoners, waarvan 2,127 geletterd was
1875 sensus: 10,368 inwoners, waarvan 2,798 geletterd was
1891 sensus: 8,288 inwoners, waarvan 2,574 geletterd was
1904 sensus: 11,716 inwoners, waarvan 4,496 geletterd was

 

 

Krediet - Baie dankie aan Belinda Gordon vir inligting wat sy verskaf het vir hierdie tuisblad. (belinda@mjvn.co.za)

Die Van Rensburg van "Rensburg Siding", Colesberg, Kaap.

Tydens die Anglo Boereoorlog 1899 - 1902 het 16.000 Australiërs gedien met amptelike kommissies en 'n verdere 8000 by onreëlmatige Suid-Afrikaanse eenhede. Die eerste Australiese slagoffers het naby die dorp Colesberg en op 'n verlate stilhou plek vir treine, genoem Rensburg Siding gesneuwel. Die spoor is natuurlik vernoem na lede van 'n Van Rensburg gesin wat tot nou toe nie geïdentifiseer is deur die geskiedkundiges nie. 'n Poging sal nou aangewend word om hul agtergrond te verken en 'n feitelike weergawe van die verskillende skermutselings wat by Renburg Siding, Arundel, Australiese Hill, Nieu-Seeland Hill, Slingerfontein en plekke rondom Colesberg plaasgevind het te gee.

Om mee te begin moet ons 'n generasie terug gaan. Nicolaas Albertus Jansen van Rensburg is in Mosselbaai getroud in 1850 met Margaretha Isabella Rautenbach (dogter van Georg Frederik Rautenbach en Elsje Catharina Roelofse). Hy was van die plaas Rietfontein in die distrik Colesberg en sy was van die plaas Brakfontein, naby Mosselbaai. Nicloaas en Catharina se lidmaatskap van die Nederduitse Hervormde Kerk is op 10 Augustus 1878 van Mosselbaai oorgeplaas na Colesberg, waarskynlik om by die kinders wat vroeër sontoe geskuif het aan te sluit.

Hulle het die volgende kinders:
g1 Nicolaas Albertus gedoop op 21 Desember 1851 by Mosselbaai, getroud Catharina Adriana van Schalkwyk
g2 Elsje Catharina gebore 2 Apr 1853, gedoop 15 May 1853, getroud 10 Jan 1870 Petrus Jacobus Venter (In 1883 het hy op die plaas Vaalkop gebly)
g3 George Frederik (Frikkie) gedoop 9 Dec 1855, word ’n lid by Colesberg 9 Aug 1875. Hy trou toe op 21 Apr 1890 met Amerentia Margaretha du Preez, toe weer getroud met Magdalena Johanna Swanepoel
g4 Hester Catharina Susanna gedoop 10 Jan 1858. Sy het ’n lidmaat in Colesberg geword op 4 Aug 1873. Sy is in Colesberg getroud met, Izak Jacobus de Villiers, weer getroud in Oct 1886 met Johan Frederik Botha (volgens hul kinders se doop inskrywings het hulle op die plaas Vaalkop gewoon in 1887 en 1889)
g5 Louisa Jacobus gedoop 12 Feb 1860
g5 Louisa Jacobus gedoop 12 Feb 1860 g6 Johannes Andries, getroud met Catharine Ann (Katie) Goedhals g7 Margaretha Isabella (Grieta) gedoop 15 May 1864, getroud in 16 Feb 1891 met Jacobus Philippus Bezuidenhout
g8 Dirk de Wet
g9 Louis Josephus gebore 16 Sept 1867, gedoop 24 Nov 1867, getroud met Adriana Josine Meyer (getuies by sy doop sluit in: Louis Jacobus Janse van Rensburg, Susanna Lamberta Zaayman, Josefus Rudolphus Janse van Rensburg, Susanna Fourie)
g 10 Cornelis Johannes (John) gebore 31 May 1870, gedoop Colesberg 18 Sept 1870, getroud met Hester Cornelia de Plessis (getuies by sy doop sluit in: Petrus Venter, Eljse Catharina Janse van Rensburg, Cornelis Johannes Janse van Rensburg, Louisa Janse van Rensburg)

Drie van hierdie seuns en hul plase staan uit in die Anglo-Boereoorlog. Wonderbaarlik twee van die plase was die hoofkwartier van die Engelse en Boere-magte, en een van die plase was die hoofkwartier vir beide kante op verskillende tye.


Die oudste seun is op 5 Augustus 1851 gebore en hulle het hom ook Nicolaas Albertus Jansen van Rensburg (b1 c1 d6 e1 f2 g1) genoem. Hierdie kind is op 21 Desember 1851 gedoop in Mosselbaai. Die gesin het n geruime tyd ná 1855 getrek en hul gevestig op die plaas Taaiboslaagte, Colesberg. Dit word ook verder bevestig in persoonlike korrespondensie met Jean G le Roux, wat genoem het dat geen Van Rensburgs enige plase in die Colesberg omgewing besit het voor 1855 nie. Die pa is oorlede op 24 Julie 1897 en die ma is dood op15 Augustus 1915.

Die seun Nicolaas Albertus Jansen van Rensburg (b1 c1 d6 e1 f2 g1) is aanvaar in Nederduitse Gereformeerde kerk op Colesberg toe hy 17 jaar oud was en op 8 Februarie 1869 het sy suster Elsje Catharina saam met hom op dieselfde dag 'n lid geword. Hy is getroud in Philippolis op 7 April 1875 met Anna Catharina Adriana van Schalkwyk. Hierdie egpaar het op die plaas Rietfontein, Arundel, 'n paar kilometer suid van Colesberg gewoon.

Hulle het die volgende kinders:
h1 Anna Adriana Margaretha (Attie) gebore 8 April 1877, gedoop 21 Jan 1878 Colesberg, getoud Colesberg 22 Jan 1901 Johannes Christian Rabie
h2 Margaretha Isabella gebore 20 Aug 1878, gedoop Colesberg 1 Dec 1878, getroud 16 April 1902 James Charles Norval
h3 Esther Maria Violette gebore 30 May 1880 gedoop Colesberg 1 Aug 1880 (getuies: George Frederik J v Rensburg), getroud 8 July 1903 Nicolaas Albertus Venter
h4 Nicholina Albertina gebore 14 Jan 1882, gedoop Colesberg 5 March 1882, getroud Colesberg 22 Apr 1912 Charl Jacob du Plessis, weer getrou Colesberg 4 Feb 1925 Ockert Jacobus Venter
h5 Nicolaas Albertus gebore 10 Oct 1884 gedoop Colesberg 25 Jan 1884 (Dit word gestel dat sy ouers van Taaiboschlaagte was), getroud Rachel Susanna Elizabeth Henning

Tydens die ABW was hierdie seun in die tronk toe hy 16 jaar oud was. Die Engelse het hom gevang by die plaaslike tennisbaan by Colesberg. Hy was gevang as gevolg van 'n brief wat hy aan sy vader geskryf het, wat 'n Boere-agent in die tronk in Tokai, Cape was. Die jong Nicolaas was na Port Alfred gestuur as 'n 'ongewenste'.
h6 Maria Monica born 20 Apr 1892, gedoop Colesberg 5 Jun 1892 (Parents van Rietfontein) getuies sluit in: George Fredrik Janse van Rensburg, Emarensia Janse van Rensburg, Johan Janse van Rensburg, Gertruida Maria de Villiers.

Die seun Johannes Andries van Rensburg (b1 c1 d6 e1 f2 g6) is getroud met Catharine Ann Goedhals. Die plaas Vaalkop het aan hom behoort.

Van hulle kinders was:
Jessie Cameron gebore 15 Aug 1908, gedoop Colesberg 25 Sept 1908 (getuies sluit in: Cornelis Janse van Rensburg en Hester Cornelia Janse van Rensburg). Ten tye van die doop het die familie op die plaas Vaalkop gewoon.

Margaretha Isabella Rautenbach gebore 8 Feb 1910, gedoop Colesberg 1 May 1910 (getuies sluit in Anna Catherina Goedhals, Nicolaas Albertus Janse van Rensburg, Violet van Rensburg

Die ander seun Cornelis Johannes (John) van Rensburg (b1 c1 d6 e1 f2 g10) gebore 31 May 1870 en gedoop in Colesberg 19 September 1870. Hy trou toe met Hester Cornelia du Plessis en het op die plaas Taaiboslaagte(vandag bekend as Hugoslaagte) gebly. Rensburg Siding was op sy plaas. Die treinspoor tussen Colesberg en Rosmead was op 17th December 1890 geopen. John van Rensburg was 'n sogenaamde "Rebel" volgens die Cape Times.

Van hulle kinders:
Anna Catharina gebore 7 Aug 1903, gedoop 20 Sept 1903 (getuies sluit in: Esther Maria Violetta Janse van Rensburg, Nicolaas Albertus Venter)
Johanna Albertus gebore 28 Sept 1906, gedoop 2 Dec 1906 (getuies sluit in: Johan Andries Janse van Rensburg)
Petrus du Plessis gebore 31 Dec 1907, gedoop 17 Feb 1908.


Aan die begin van die Anglo-Boereoorlog, het Boere-magte van die twee Republieke die noordelike dele van die Kaap binnegeval en die gebied beset. Colesberg was vasgevang in 13 November 1899 onder die leierskap van generaal Hendrik Jacobus Schoeman (11 Julie 1840 - 26 Mei 1901) en kommandant Esias Reinier Grobler (3 Januarie 1861 - 31 Aug 1937). Die aankoms van die Boere het baie ondersteuning van die plaaslikes en 'n aantal van die burgers by die kommando's gevind. Op 14 November 1899 het 'n komitee ses plaaslike lede verkies om die Boere kommando's te help met benodighede en enige iets anders wat hulle ook mag nodig kry. Een van die lede was Nicolaas Albertus Janse van Rensburg, wat op Rietfontein, Arundel gewoon het. Hy was 'n baie bekende en baie invloedryke burger in die gebied gewees.


Generaal French gebruik die taktiek om die indruk te skep dat sy magte veel groter was as wat hulle werklik was. Die Boere het dus nie die inisiatief geneem om aan te val nie.

Gedurende die Anglo-Boere-oorlog wou die Britte beheer van Naauwpoort neem. Dit was 'n strategiese posisie, aangesien die spoorweg verlegging van Kaapstad, Port Elizabeth en Bloemfontein hier geleë was. 'n Paar kilometer noord was Arundel. Tien kilometer noord van Arundel was Rensburg spoor. Tien kilometer noord van Rensburg Siding is die dorp Colesberg, sien kaart. Tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog het Australiërs en Nieu-Seelanders hier diens gedoen en 'n aantal van hulle is gedood in gevegte in hierdie gebied. Daar was dus nie 'n groot slag nie, maar eerder baie kleiner gevegte, die opteken van die Anglo-Boere-oorlog rondom Colesberg het nie soveel fokus gekry nie.

Die Britse magte het gevorder onder die bevel van generaal John DP Frans Naauwpoort. Op 21 November het French en sy soldate Arundel binee gekom en gevind dat dit leeg was. French het daarna na die plaas Rietfontein, wat aan Nicolaas Albertus Janse van Rensburg behoort het gegaan en Nicolaas Albertus Janse van Rensburg by die water kanaal vasgevang. Hy is baie min tyd gegee om totsiens te sê aan sy familie. Die Britte het hom geneem en het sy vrou en twee dogters alleen agter gelaat. Van Rensburg het te perd, vergesel deur vier Britse soldate te perde, een aan die voorkant en een agter, en een aan elke kant gery. Hulle ry toe suid totdat hulle by Tweedale uitgekom het waar hy verder met die trein vervoer is. Blykbaar was Van Rensburg een van die heel eerste Boere in die Colesberg omgewing wat in hegtenis geneem was.

Generaal French het sy hoofkwartier by Arundel gemaak en op 17 Desember 1899 het hy ingetrek by die Rietfontein plaashuis wat aan Nicolaas Albertus van Rensburg behoort het. Dit is nie bekend wat met die opstal se meubels gebeur het in die tyd van die besetting nie.

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Die huis van Nicolaas Albertus Jansen van Rensburg en Catharina Adriana van Schalkwyk op hul plaas Rietfontein, Arundel generaal John DP Franse het hierdie plek sy hoofkwartier gemaak.


Tydens al hierdie gebeure was die Boere steeds op Rensburg Siding gestasioneer dit is op die ander broer John van Rensburg se plaas, Taaiboslaagte.


29 Desember 1899 het Generaal Schoeman Rensburg Siding verlaat en teruggeval na Colesberg.

Die volgende dag 30 Desember 1899 het Generaal French die huis van Cornelis Johannes (John) van Rensburg en Hester Cornelia du Plessis by Rensburg Siding in besit geneem en dit sy hoofkwartier gemaak. Tot die ontsteltenis van die eienaars het hy daar vir 'n geruime tyd gebly. Ons moet nie vergeet dat Rensburg Siding op die plaas Taaiboslaagte was nie(vandag word dit Hugoslaagte genoem).

Toe die Boere die Engelse op 12 Februarie 1900 suksesvol aangeval het, is die Engelse soldate terug na Rensburg Siding gedwing. Vroeg op 13 Februarie het Generaal De la Rey die hoofkwartier aangeval by Rensburg Siding, terwyl hy op die 14 Februarie R.A.P Clements teruggeval het na die nabygeleë Arundel. Die Boere het toe Rensburg Siding gekry.

E J Murray skryf in sy verslag getiteld; "By die front - en hoe ons Nuwe Jaar spandeer het" (Geskryf aan die bokant van Coleskop): "Min of meer vanaf die 8ste Desember is ons voortdurend in skermutselings met die vyand betrokke. Generaal French, ('n baie strategiese Generaal), het hulle intimiderend van alle kante met artillerie aangeval. Vir onbekende redes aan ons het die vyand hul posisie ontruim by Arundel, en kolonel Porter, van die CARABINIERS het gaan verken. Hy bevind dat hulle op die koppies buite Plewman spoor was. Ek is geplaas met 'n telegraaf instrument en het gebly op Rensburg plaashuis. Alleen het hierdie Rensburg boer 'n rebel en “having cleared with the Dutch”, het ek my aandag aan sy pluimvee werf gedraai, waar ek vier ganse, twee henne en twee dosyn eiers opgekommandeer het. Ons het die twee henne in die nag toe die res van ons maats aangekom het vir aandete gehad. Ek het twee ganse weggegee en het aan die ontvangers gese om geen vrae te vra nie."

Uit 'n dagboek geskryf in Colesberg in Desember 1899 (Gehou by Colesberg Museum en inligting verskaf deur Belinda Gordon): "Die woede kant van die oorlog kan gesien word deur die Kerksaal as Tydelike Hospitaal te besoek van waar mans met verbinde koppe in verpleging gesien word, waar dit gesê te word dat hulle aan masels gely het. Na die skermutseling op Woensdag het mev Tuiskop? [die vrou van Cornelis Johannes van Rensburg] van Taaiboschlaagte so baie gewonde Boere in haar huis ontvang dat sy nie genoeg beddens vir almal gehad het nie en gestuur het na die Regering Skool koshuis departement vir 'n dos beddens. Die heuwels E & W van Colesberg is gesaai met die Boere en 'n spesiale mag van 600 is op die kruising gereed om voort te gaan op 'n oomblikke wanneer ‘n teken van bedreigin aan enige punt ervaar sou word. Die artillerie geskied kon rondom Arundel duidelik in Colesberg gehoor word ".

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Generaal French en sy personeel 30 Desember 1900
Nadat die Boere teruggeval het van Rensburg Siding.

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’n Foto van Generaal French

Nicolaas Albertus Janse van Rensburg was die hele 1900 in die polisie tronk op Colesberg gewees. Gelukkig vir hom, is hy toegelaat om ’n besoeke van sy vrou en kinders te ontvang. Gedurende Maart 1900 is 'n aantal van die ander mense in hegtenis geneem en hulle is in dieselfde tronksel saam met hom, Ds GA Scholtz en sy seun Dicke, Herman Sluiter (nie die prokureur), Tobias de Villiers, P Badenhorst, Jacobus Pienaar, F Jooste Isak van Zyl, Arnoldus Meiring, Jacobus Norval, Charl Norval. In die koue wintermaande het die ysige toestande die lewe in die selle baie ondraaglik gemaak. In die tronk het hulle skaars enige oefening ontvang en die kos was nie voldoende nie.

Op 10 Desember 1899 het Van Rensburg 'n besoek van Generaal Fouché ontvang wat hom meegedeel het dat die Engelse in besit was van Arundel. Hy het toe van Rensburg gevra of hy 'n paar van sy kamers by die plaashuis kon gebruik. Van Rensburg het geen besware teen hierdie versoek gehad nie en het sy toestemming dienooreenkomstig gegee.


Die volgende dag is Van Rensburg ook deur Kaptein Kenna ingelig dat sy plaas in geval is en dat al die meubels vernietig was. Van Rensburg het ook £ 300 in die huis gehad en het gevind dat die geld ewe geheimsinnig verdwyn het. Die volgende dag wou die Engelse skape koop en Van Rensburg het ingestem om dit te verkoop teen 25 sjielings elk. Die Engelse het gesê dat die prys te hoog was en het dit verminder met die helfte. Hulle het die skape gevat met die belofte om later te betaal, maar hy het nooit die geld van hulle ontvang nie. Kort daarna is 65 van sy beeste deur die Engelse troepe uit die nabygeleë Naauwpoort gesteel.

Wie was Kenna?
"Paul Aloysius Kenna (Oakfield Lanc 1862/08/16 -. Suvia, Gallipoli 1915/08/30). Hy het in die 2de Wes-Indiese Regt gedien. In 1889 hy is na die 21ste Hussars (later Lancers) geskuif. Gedurende die Anglo-Boere-oorlog het hy as Asst. Provost Maarschalk op Generaal French se personeel gedien. Hy het daarna gedien as 'n brigade majoor en in 1901 in bevel van ‘n beveel ruiter troepe. Kenna het tydens die Somaliland veldtog bevel oor die ruiter troepe gehad en is na luitenant-kolonel bevorder. Kenna was 'n uitstaande polo-speler. In 1905 het hy 'n kolonel geword en ADC van die Koning. In Augustus 1914 is Kenna tot brigadier-generaal in die Notts en Derby Regiment bevorder. Op Gallipoli terwyl hulle 'n toer in die voorste linies, is hy geskiet deur 'n skerpskitter en is dodelik gewond. Brigadier-generaal Kenna VC DSO is begrawe by Suvia Bay ". Ian Uys, South African Military Who’s who 1452 1992, p. 119.

Op 5 Desember 1900 is 'n spesiale hof in Colesberg gehou (die regter was Solomon). Sewe dae later, op 12 Desember, is Nicolaas Albertus Janse van Rensburg (dienend reeds 'n jaar) gevonnis om drie en 'n half jaar te dien, en is 'n boete van £ 500 opgelê. Op 17 Desember is hy om 08:00 in die oggend meegedeel om gereed te wees om daardie dag 02:00 te vertrek. Daar was nie tyd om sy familie te groet nie. Van die ou Colesberg Stasie is hulle in 'n oop trein trokke vervoer na die verlegging. Van daar is hulle gesit in toe beeste vragmotors. Op Naauwpoort is hulle op 'n passasierstrein geplaas en na Kaapstad geneem. Hy het Desember 1900op 22 aangekom by Tokai gevangenis, nou 'n man onder 628 ander gevangenes lede. Tokai was ook 'n deurgangsplek en 'n paar gevangenes is na Bermuda of elders gestuur. Die broer Andries van Rensburg van die plaas Vaalkop (die plaas is geleë wes van Rensburg Siding en Arundel), was ook in die tronk by Tokai (Hy was - G6 Johannes Andries).


Aan die einde van die Anglo-Boere-oorlog, onderteken op Vereeniging 31 Mei 1902 was John en Andries van Rensburg met baie ander POW's in Bermuda en India. Terwyl Nicolaas Albertus Janse van Rensburg nog in die gevangenis by Tokai was. Nicolaas Albertus is eers vrygelaat ses maande nadat vrede verklaar is - net om terug te keer na sy plaas wat vernietigwas deur die Engelse.

Na die oorlog het NAJ van Rensburg £ 3000 oorlog skade ontvang, maar hy beweer dat sy verliese £ 12.000 was.

Bronne
A big thanks to Tannie Nelie van Rensburg from Colesberg who made her late husbands NAJ van Rensburg’s research available on request.
NAJ van Rensburg, Die Tweede Vryheidsoorlog in en om Colesberg (Unpublished paper by
b1 c1 d6 e1 f2 g1 h5 i1 (deceased 1 March 1985) of his grandfather NAJ van Rensburg of the farm Rietfontein, Arundel). This author, N A J van Rensburg was an elder of the church at Colesberg when simultaneously he was the Chairman of the planning committee for the centenial anniversary of the Colesberg church in 1966, at which time they wrote and produced the book – Ons Kerk: Ned Geref Kerk Colesberg ingewy 1866. He was also a member of the building committee responsible for the renovations of the church and erection of the church tower, clock and weather cock. (See photo below where he is a member of the church council).
A big thanks to the assistance of Willem and Diana Loock from Platberg, Middelburg, Cape, South Africa who helped me obtain the primary information from Colesberg.
I also want to thank Anneli McClachlen (nee van Rensburg) living in Adelaide, she is a descendant of NAJ van Rensburg.
Special thanks to Mrs Belinda Gordon from the Colesberg Museum for her assistance. Refer also to their webpagehttp://www.mjvn.co.za/anglo-boer/
I want to thank Alwyn P Smit, the author ofGedenkboek van M.J. de Jager (1872 – 1939), Boerekryger, Staatsartilleris en militêr, in obtaining material dealing with the ABO at Colesberg and for his advise.
GJ Rautenbach, Van Rensburg family tree (unpublished paper, Jan 1992)
CN Robinson, With Roberts to the Transvaal, Part 2
Suid-Afrikaanse Geslagregister, Vol 9

Colesberg Dutch Reformed Church baptism and marriage records.



DIE GESKIEDENIS VAN ORTLEP HUIS


Ortlepp House wat in 2004 sy 160ste verjaardag gevier is, is een van die dorp se paar historiese geboue wat sedertdien noukeurig na sy destydse Victoriaanse prag herstel is.

Tipies van die ruwe en baanbrekerswerk dae is dit ook die geskiedenis van hoe die kleindogter van 'n rondreisende plaaslike immigrant smouse opgeeindig het as die vrou van 'n Randlord - deur middel van die diamantvelde van Kimberley.

Vir die mees bekende Adolf Ortlepp se afstammelinge was ongetwyfeld Dorothea Sarah Florence Alexandra (Florrie) Ortlepp wat later aangegaan in die geskiedenis as Lady Florence Philips, die vrou van die diamant en Rand pionier Sir Lionel Philips en as een van die oorspronklike skenkers van die Johannesburg Art Gallery. Alhoewel sy in Kaapstad op 14 Junie 1863 gebore is.

Sy is in Colesberg gedoop deur ds Richard Giddy en het ook hier grootgeword voor haar pa, Albert Frederick (tweede seun van Adolf Ortlepp) en sy vrou Sarah Walker en het verskuif na Kimberley tydens die diamantstormloop van 1869.

Haar oupa, Adolf Ortlepp, wat in Silesië (Duitsland / Pole) in 1807 gebore is, is in Colesberg in 1836 as 'n sendeling van die Berlynse Sendinggenootskap gevestig.

Hy koop ‘n dubbel-stoor Victoriaanse winkel en woonhuis op 30 Kerkstraat, later bekend geword as Ortlepp Huis van handelaars PJ Hugh en W Fleming in Desember 1849, en van waar Ortelepp later ook handel gedruif het in die verruil van dierevelle, horings , perde en wapens.

Hy is hier dood in 1879 en is begrawe in die ou begraafplaas oorkant die ou Colesberg Hotel (nou die Towerberg Hotel).

Die oorspronklike eienaars het op 1 September 1844 die huis gebou en geregistreer op 'n terrein, verkry van die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, net 14 jaar nadat Colesberg geproklameer was as 'n munisipaliteit.

Die gesin se historiese opstal en winkel met sy tipiese Victoriaanse "broekies '~ kant yster stoep is onlangs herstel tot ‘n gesogte sakeperseel.

Adolf getroud Dorothea Wilhelmine Florentienti Waldeck, die dogter van 'n plaaslike skrynwerker, by Colesberg in 1838.

Sy tweede seun, Albert Frederick (gebore 1840) het Kimberley toe vertrek toe Florrie byna sewe jaar oud was en haar broer, Albert James,net vyf.

Florrie het Miss Wilmot0s Skool vir die dames in Wynberg Gape Town bygewoon, voordat sy terugkeer het na Kiuiberley waar sy later haar toekomstige man Lionel Philipe by 'n piekniek in 1883 ontmoet het.

Hulle is twee jaar later getroud en daarna het hulle hoofsaaklik in Johannesburg,  Londen en Somerset Wes gewoon waar Lady Philips die farshoum by Vergelegen Somerset West liefdevol herstel het. Dit was oorspronklik in besit van Willem Adriaan van der Stel, seun van Gape Goewerneur Simon van der Stel was.

Op 22 Augustus 1940 het sy het gesterf, maar is saam met haar man en oudste seun Harold in Brixton Johannesburg begrawe.

RENPERDE GESKIEDENIS

'n Gebore Scot, Alex Robertson was 'n afrigter, eienaar en teler wat in 'n ou Kaapse familie ingetrou het. Vyf vroeë Suid-Afrikaanse Derby-wenners - Irene, Lammas, Diana, Blanche en Colesberg - is deur Robertson, wie se stoet, Stormfontein naby Colesberg geleë is geteel. Hy het ook 'n top Suid-Afrikaanse naelloper, Abelard en mede-eienaar van die 1895 Suid-Afrikaanse Derby wenner Rosekrans geteel. Hy het die invoer van die hings Uniform, van Nieu-Seeland, wat die Derby wenner Diana verwek het, en dan, in 1911, die ongeryde St. Simonson, Simontault, wat beseer is as 'n jaaroud, in 1911, maar die hings sterf vroeg in 1916, nie voor, hy Blanche en 'n paar ander goeie naelopers vir Stormfontein verwek het nie. Colesberg (1917), wat deur die ingevoerde Britse perd Wilfred en uit 'n eenvormige dogter, deur Robertson verkoop is 'n jaaroud vir 150 ghienies; wat bygedrae het tot die wen van die Derby, het hy die Guineas en die St Leger op Benoni gewen om Suid-Afrika se eerste "driedubbele kroon" wenner te word.


Robertson se seun, Allan het voortgegaan na’ sy pa en het 'n outoriteit in renperd teling en administrasie geword. Tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog (1899-1902),het die destydse tienjarige Allan en sy ma die stoet opgepas, terwyl Alex weg was op diensplig en is gedwing om na 'n Boere-kommando-eenheid se vier hingste en dertig merries om te sien. Almal was die volgende dag deur 'n Boere-generaal wat ingelig is dat sommige van die perde behoort het aan ‘n ryk Randlord Abe Bailey terug gebring. Stormfontein-geteelde perde gehardloop suksesvol in die 20ste eeu. Stormfontein se hoof hings was in die laat 20s en vroeë 30s, Kerasos (deur Kennymore, aJohn o 'Gaunt seun), die kampioen in 1935.

Na die Tweede Wêreldoorlog het Robertson die goed geteelde Mehrali (Mahmoud - Una, en 'n half-broer na Palestina ingevoer), dit was die oupa van Hawaii. Hy het ook die hoogs suksesvolle Abadan invoer, wat vir een seisoen in Ierland gestaan het voordat hy na Suid-Afrika toe gekom het. Sy oorwinning daar sluit in die Ierse 2000 Guineas wenner Jack Ketch (later 'n wenner in Australië) en My Pal, later 'n goeie wenner in Nieu-Seeland. In Suid-Afrika, was Abadan voorste wenner in 1960; Hy is later gerepatrieer te Engla


Ons vra verskoning vir die volginde teks wat nog nie in Afrikaans vertaal is nie.
Hawaii
(1964, by Utrillo) was bred by A.L. Dell at his Platberg Stud in Colesberg, where the Italian-bred Utrillo stood; his dam, Ethane, was a second generation South African-bred mare and an excellent producer of eleven winners of over 50 races. Purchased by New Jersey millionaire Charles Engelhard when a yearling for $12,642, Hawaii ‘s wins of fifteen races in South Africa made him the country’s champion racehorse, after which, in late 1968, Engelhard sent him to the U.S. to run , where he won six good races (five on the turf), including the the United Nations and Sunrise handicaps at Atlantic City, and the Man o’ War handicap at Belmont, where he set a new track record for 1-1/2 miles. He did not return to South Africa, instead syndicated for 1.12 million dollars and sent to Claiborne Farm, Kentucky, to stand at stud; one of his sons, Henbit, won the 1980 Epsom Derby.


Thelma Gutsche

Wrote the book: The Microcosm -

Gutsche (Thelma) THE MICROCOSM,
217 pp., colour frontis., d.j. badly rubbed & frayed & a little torn, illus, small quarto, black cloth a little rubbed, edges spotted, boards a little bent, Cape Town, 1968. R150

An acclaimed 19th Century history of Colesberg and district, and of thre Diamond Fields



Gutsche was a founding member of the Simon van der Stel Foundation and a trustee and life president of the Friends of the Johannesburg Art Gallery. She was also part of many other organisations and in 1966 won the Central News Agency (CNA) prize for her book No ordinary woman: The life and times of Florence Phillips. She wrote numerous other books, and was known as a feminist. Another of her very well known works was The history and social significance of motion pictures in South Africa. This book contains archival, social and cultural research on the history of film in South Africa. It does not only look at South African film, but also at international film and the influence and effect of these films on South Africa and on society. She actually tends to focus more on work from outside South Africa, and especially focusing on the European traditions and influence. The study was first written as a thesis, but only published much later after she had published other studies. Gutsche looks into the creation of order through society and the effect of film on this order, together with the rising modernism in South Africa and specifically in Johannesburg. She writes as a cultural historian rather than as a film historian, and the book is best understood together with her other works.

(Sources: E.J. Verwey (ed), New dictionary of South African biography. Pretoria, 1995, pp 88-89
R. Kriger & A. Zegeye (eds), After apartheid volume 2: Culture in the new South Africa, 2001, Pretoria & Cape Town.)

 

 

Indien daar iemand is wat met die vertaling wil help sal ons dit waardeer.

The Colesberg Operations

d

 


Of the four British armies in the field I have attempted to tell the story of the western one which advanced to help Kimberley, of the eastern one which was repulsed at Colenso, and of the central one which was checked at Stormberg. There remains one other central one, some account of which must now be given.

It was, as has already been pointed out, a long three weeks after the declaration of war before the forces of the Orange Free State began to invade Cape Colony. But for this most providential delay it is probable that the ultimate fighting would have been, not among the mountains and kopjes of Stormberg and Colesberg, but amid those formidable passes which lie in the Hex Valley, immediately to the north of Cape Town, and that the armies of the invader would have been doubled by their kinsmen of the Colony. The ultimate result of the war must have been the same, but the sight of all South Africa in flames might have brought about those Continental complications which have always been so grave a menace.

The invasion of the Colony was at two points along the line of the two railways which connect the countries, the one passing over the Orange River at Norval’s Pont and the other at Bethulie, about forty miles to the eastward. There were no British troops available (a fact to be considered by those, if any remain, who imagine that the British entertained any design against the Republics), and the Boers jogged slowly southward amid a Dutch population who hesitated between their unity of race and speech and their knowledge of just and generous treatment by the Empire. A large number were won over by the invaders, and, like all apostates, distinguished themselves by their virulence and harshness towards their loyal neighbours. Here and there in towns which were off the railway line, in Barkly East or Ladygrey, the farmers met together with rifle and bandolier, tied orange puggarees round their hats, and rode off to join the enemy. Possibly these ignorant and isolated men hardly recognised what it was that they were doing. They have found out since. In some of the border districts the rebels numbered ninety per cent of the Dutch population.

In the meanwhile, the British leaders had been strenuously endeavouring to scrape together a few troops with which to make some stand against the enemy. For this purpose two small forces were necessary – the one to oppose the advance through Bethulie and Stormberg, the other to meet the invaders, who, having passed the river at Norval’s Pont, had now occupied Colesberg. The former task was, as already shown, committed to General Gatacre. The latter was allotted to General French, the victor of Elandslaagte, who had escaped in the very last train from Ladysmith, and had taken over this new and important duty. French’s force assembled at Arundel and Gatacre’s at Sterkstroom. It is with the operations of the former that we have now to deal.

General French, for whom South Africa has for once proved not the grave but the cradle of a reputation, had before the war gained some name as a smart and energetic cavalry officer. There were some who, watching his handling of a considerable body of horse at the great Salisbury manoeuvres in 1898, conceived the highest opinion of his capacity, and it was due to the strong support of General Buller, who had commanded in these peaceful operations, that French received his appointment for South Africa. In person he is short and thick, with a pugnacious jaw. In character he is a man of cold persistence and of fiery energy, cautious and yet audacious, weighing his actions well, but carrying them out with the dash which befits a mounted leader. He is remarkable for the quickness of his decision – ‘can think at a gallop,’ as an admirer expressed it. Such was the man, alert, resourceful, and determined, to whom was entrusted the holding back of the Colesberg Boers.

Although the main advance of the invaders was along the lines of the two railways, they ventured, as they realised how weak the forces were which opposed them, to break off both to the east and west, occupying Dordrecht on one side and Steynsberg on the other. Nothing of importance accrued from the possession of these points, and our attention may be concentrated upon the main line of action.

French’s original force was a mere handful of men, scraped together from anywhere. Naauwpoort was his base, and thence he made a reconnaissance by rail on November 23rd towards Arundel, the next hamlet along the line, taking with him a company of the Black Watch, forty mounted infantry, and a troop of the New South Wales Lancers. Nothing resulted from the expedition save that the two forces came into touch with each other, a touch which was sustained for months under many vicissitudes, until the invaders were driven back once more over Norval’s Pont. Finding that Arundel was weakly held, French advanced up to it, and established his camp there towards the end of December, within six miles of the Boer lines at Rensburg, to the south of Colesberg. His mission – with his present forces – was to prevent the further advance of the enemy into the Colony, but he was not strong enough yet to make a serious attempt to drive them out.

Before the move to Arundel on December 13th his detachment had increased in size, and consisted largely of mounted men, so that it attained a mobility very unusual for a British force. On December 13th there was an attempt upon the part of the Boers to advance south, which was easily held by the British Cavalry and Horse Artillery. The country over which French was operating is dotted with those singular kopjes which the Boer loves – kopjes which are often so grotesque in shape that one feels as if they must be due to some error of refraction when one looks at them. But, on the other hand, between these hills there lie wide stretches of the green or russet savanna, the noblest field that a horseman or a horse gunner could wish. The riflemen clung to the hills, French’s troopers circled warily upon the plain, gradually contracting the Boer position by threatening to cut off this or that outlying kopje, and so the enemy was slowly herded into Colesberg. The small but mobile British force covered a very large area, and hardly a day passed that one or other part of it did not come in contact with the enemy. With one regiment of infantry (the Berkshires) to hold the centre, his hard-riding Tasmanians, New-Zealanders, and Australians, with the Scots Greys, the Inniskillings, and the Carabineers, formed an elastic but impenetrable screen to cover the Colony. They were aided by two batteries, 0 and R, of Horse Artillery. Every day General French rode out and made a close personal examination of the enemy’s position, while his scouts and outposts were instructed to maintain the closest possible touch.

On December 30th the enemy abandoned Rensburg, which had been their advanced post, and concentrated at Colesberg, upon which French moved his force up and seized Rensburg. The very next day, December 31st, he began a vigorous and long-continued series of operations. At five o’clock on Sunday evening he moved out of Rensburg camp, with R and half of 0 batteries R.H.A., the 10th Hussars, the Inniskillings, and the Berkshires, to take up a position on the west of Colesberg. At the same time Colonel Porter, with the half-battery of 0, his own regiment (the Carabineers), and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, left camp at two on the Monday morning and took a position on the enemy’s left flank. The Berkshires under Major McCracken seized hill, driving a Boer picket off it, and the Horse enfiladed the enemy’s right flank, and after a risk artillery duel succeeded in silencing his guns. Next morning, however (January 2nd, 1900), it was found that the Boers, strongly reinforced, were back near their old positions, and French had to be content to hold them and to wait for more troops.

These were not long in coming, for the Suffolk Regiment had arrived, followed by the Composite Regiment (chosen from the Household Cavalry) and the 4th Battery R.F.A. The Boers, however, had also been reinforced, and showed great energy in their effort to break the cordon which was being drawn round them. Upon the 4th a determined effort was made by about a thousand of them under General Shoemann to turn the left flank of the British, and at dawn it was actually found that they had eluded the vigilance of the outposts and had established themselves upon a hill to the rear of the position. They were shelled off of it, however, by the guns of 0 Battery, and in their retreat across the plain they were pursued by the 10th Hussars and by one squadron of the Inniskillings, who cut off some of the fugitives. At the same time, De Lisle with his mounted infantry carried the position which they had originally held. In this successful and well-managed action the Boer loss was ninety, and we took in addition twenty-one prisoners. Our own casualties amounted only to six killed, including Major Harvey of the 10th, and to fifteen wounded.

Encouraged by this success an attempt was made by the Suffolk Regiment to carry a hill which formed the key of the enemy’s position. The town of Colesberg lies in a basin surrounded by a ring of kopjes, and the possession by us of any one of them would have made the place untenable. The plan has been ascribed to Colonel Watson of the Suffolks, but it is time that some protest should be raised against this devolution of responsibility upon subordinates in the event of failure. When success has crowned our arms we have been delighted to honour our general; but when our efforts end in failure our attention is called to Colonel Watson, Colonel Long, or Colonel Thorneycroft. It is fairer to state that in this instance General French ordered Colonel Watson to make a night attack upon the hill.

The result was disastrous. At midnight four companies in canvas shoes or in their stocking feet set forth upon their venture, and just before dawn they found themselves upon the slope of the hill. They were in a formation of quarter column with files extended to two paces; H Company was leading. When half-way up a warm fire was opened upon them in the darkness. Colonel Watson gave the order to retire, intending, as it is believed, that the men should get under the shelter of the dead ground which they had just quitted, but his death immediately afterwards left matters in a confused condition. The night was black, the ground broken, a hail of bullets whizzing through the ranks. Companies got mixed in the darkness and contradictory orders were issued. The leading company held its ground, though each of the officers, Brett, Carey, and Butler, was struck down. The other companies had retired, however, and the dawn found this fringe of men, most of them wounded, lying under the very rifles of the Boers. Even then they held out for some time, but they could neither advance, retire, or stay where they were without losing lives to no purpose, so the survivors were compelled to surrender. There is better evidence here than at Magersfontein that the enemy were warned and ready. Every one of the officers engaged, from the Colonel to the boy subaltern, was killed, wounded, or taken. Eleven officers and one hundred and fifty men were our losses in this unfortunate but not discreditable affair, which proves once more how much accuracy and how much secrecy is necessary for a successful night attack. Four companies of the regiment were sent down to Port Elizabeth to re-officer, but the arrival of the 1st Essex enabled French to fill the gap which had been made in his force.

In spite of this annoying check, French continued to pursue his original design of holding the enemy in front and working round him on the east. On January 9th, Porter, of the Carabineers, with his own regiment, two squadrons of Household Cavalry, the New-Zealanders, the New South Wales Lancers, and four guns, took another step forward and, after a skirmish, occupied a position called Slingersfontein, still further to the north and east, so as to menace the main road of retreat to Norval’s Pont. Some skirmishing followed, but the position was maintained. On the 15th the Boers, thinking that this long extension must have weakened us, made a spirited attack upon a position held by New-Zealanders and a company of the 1st Yorkshires, this regiment having been sent up to reinforce French. The attempt was met by a volley and a bayonet charge. Captain Orr, of the Yorkshires, was struck down; but Captain Madocks, of the New-Zealanders, who behaved with conspicuous gallantry at a critical instant, took command, and the enemy was heavily repulsed. Madocks engaged in a point-blank rifle duel with the frock-coated top-hatted Boer leader, and had the good fortune to kill his formidable opponent. Twenty-one Boer dead and many wounded left upon the field made a small set-off to the disaster of the Suffolks.

The next day, however (January 16th), the scales of fortune, which swung alternately one way and the other, were again tipped against us. It is difficult to give an intelligible account of the details of these operations, because they were carried out by thin fringes of men covering on both sides a very large area, each kopje occupied as a fort, and the intervening plains patrolled by cavalry.

As French extended to the east and north the Boers extended also to prevent him from outflanking them, and so the little armies stretched and stretched until they were two long mobile skirmishing lines. The actions therefore resolve themselves into the encounters of small bodies and the snapping up of exposed patrols – a game in which the Boer aptitude for guerrilla tactics gave them some advantage, though our own cavalry quickly adapted themselves to the new conditions. On this occasion a patrol of sixteen men from the South Australian Horse and New South Wales Lancers fell into an ambush, and eleven were captured. Of the remainder, three made their way back to camp, while one was killed and one was wounded.

The duel between French on the one side and Schoeman and Lambert on the other was from this onwards one of maneuvering rather than of fighting. The dangerously extended line of the British at this period, over thirty miles long, was reinforced, as has been mentioned, by the 1st Yorkshire and later by the 2nd Wiltshire and a section of the 37th Howitzer Battery. There was probably no very great difference in numbers between the two little armies, but the Boers now, as always, were working upon internal lines. The monotony of the operations was broken by the remarkable feat of the Essex Regiment, which succeeded by hawsers and good-will in getting two 15-pounder guns of the 4th Field Battery on to the top of Coleskop, a hill which rises several hundred feet from the plain and is so precipitous that it is no small task for an unhampered man to climb it. From the summit a fire, which for some days could not be localised by the Boers, was opened upon their laagers, which had to be shifted in consequence. This energetic action upon the part of our gunners may be set off against those other examples where commanders of batteries have shown that they had not yet appreciated what strong tackle and stout arms can accomplish. The guns upon Coleskop not only dominated all the smaller kopjes for a range of 9,000 yards, but completely commanded the town of Colesberg, which could not however, for humanitarian and political reasons, be shelled.

By gradual reinforcements the force under French had by the end of January attained the respectable figure of ten thousand men, strung over a large extent of country. His infantry consisted of the 2nd Berkshires, 1st Royal Irish, 2nd Wiltshires, 2nd Worcesters, 1st Essex, and 1st Yorkshires; his cavalry, of the 10th Hussars, the 6th Dragoon Guards, the Inniskillings, the New-Zealanders, the N.S.W. Lancers, some Rimington Guides, and the composite Household Regiment; his artillery, the R and 0 batteries of R.H.A., the 4th R.F.A., and a section of the 37th Howitzer Battery. At the risk of tedium I have repeated the units of this force, because there are no operations during the war, with the exception perhaps of those of the Rhodesian Column, concerning which it is so difficult to get a clear impression. The fluctuating forces, the vast range of country covered, and the petty farms which give their names to positions, all tend to make the issue vague and the narrative obscure. The British still lay in a semicircle extending from Slingersfontein upon the right to Kloof Camp upon the left, and the general scheme of operations continued to be an enveloping movement upon the right. General Clements commanded this section of the forces, while the energetic Porter carried out the successive advances. The lines had gradually stretched until they were nearly fifty miles in length, and something of the obscurity in which the operations have been left is due to the impossibility of any single correspondent having a clear idea of what was occurring over so extended a front.

On January 25th French sent Stephenson and Brabazon to push a reconnaissance to the north of Colesberg, and found that the Boers were making a fresh position at Rietfontein, nine miles nearer their own border. A small action ensued, in which we lost ten or twelve of the Wiltshire Regiment, and gained some knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions. For the remainder of the month the two forces remained in a state of equilibrium, each keenly on its guard, and neither strong enough to penetrate the lines of the other. General French descended to Cape Town to aid General Roberts in the elaboration of that plan which was soon to change the whole military situation in South Africa.

Reinforcements were still dribbling into the British force, Hoad’s Australian Regiment, which had been changed from infantry to cavalry, and J battery R.H.A. from India, being the last arrivals. But very much stronger reinforcements had arrived for the Boers – so strong that they were able to take the offensive. De la Rey had left the Modder with three thousand men, and their presence infused new life into the defenders of Colesberg. At the moment, too, that the Modder Boers were coming to Colesberg, the British had begun to send cavalry reinforcements to the Modder in preparation for the march to Kimberley, so that Clements’s Force (as it had now become) was depleted at the very instant when that of the enemy was largely increased. The result was that it was all they could do not merely to hold their own, but to avoid a very serious disaster.

The movements of De la Rey were directed towards turning the right of the position. On February 9th and 10th the mounted patrols, principally the Tasmanians, the Australians, and the Inniskillings, came in contact with the Boers, and some skirmishing ensued, with no heavy loss upon either side. A British patrol was surrounded and lost eleven prisoners, Tasmanians and Guides. On the 12th the Boer turning movement developed itself, and our position on the right at Slingersfontein was strongly attacked.

The key of the British position at this point was a kopje held by three companies of the 2nd Worcester Regiment. Upon this the Boers made a fierce onslaught, but were as fiercely repelled. They came up in the dark between the set of moon and rise of sun, as they had done at the great assault of Ladysmith, and the first dim light saw them in the advanced sangars. The Boer generals do not favour night attacks, but they are exceedingly fond of using darkness for taking up a good position and pushing onwards as soon as it is possible to see. This is what they did upon this occasion, and the first intimation which the outposts had of their presence was the rush of feet and loom of figures in the cold misty light of dawn. The occupants of the sangars were killed to a man, and the assailants rushed onwards. As the sun topped the line of the veldt half the kopje was in their possession. Shouting and firing, they pressed onwards.

But the Worcester men were steady old soldiers, and the battalion contained no less than four hundred and fifty marksmen in its ranks. Of these the companies upon the hill had their due proportion, and their fire was so accurate that the Boers found themselves unable to advance any further. Through the long day a desperate duel was maintained between the two lines of riflemen. Colonel Cuningham and Major Stubbs were killed while endeavouring to recover the ground which had been lost. Hovel and Bartholomew continued to encourage their men, and the British fire became so deadly that that of the Boers was dominated. Under the direction of Hacket Pain, who commanded the nearest post, guns of J battery were brought out into the open and shelled the portion of the kopje which was held by the Boers. The latter were reinforced, but could make no advance against the accurate rifle fire with which they were met. The Bisley champion of the battalion, with a bullet through his thigh, expended a hundred rounds before sinking from loss of blood. It was an excellent defence, and a pleasing exception to those too frequent cases where an isolated force has lost heart in face of a numerous and persistent foe. With the coming of darkness the Boers withdrew with a loss of over two hundred killed and wounded. Orders had come from Clements that the whole right wing should be drawn in, and in obedience to them the remains of the victorious companies were called in by Hacket Pain, who moved his force by night in the direction of Rensburg. The British loss in the action was twenty-eight killed and nearly a hundred wounded or missing, most of which was incurred when the sangars were rushed in the early morning.

While this action was fought upon the extreme right of the British position another as severe had occurred with much the same result upon the extreme left, where the 2nd Wiltshire Regiment was stationed. Some companies of this regiment were isolated upon a kopje and surrounded by the Boer riflemen when the pressure upon them was relieved by a desperate attack by about a hundred of the Victorian Rifles. The gallant Australians lost Major Eddy and six officers out of seven, with a large proportion of their men, but they proved once for a]l that amid all the scattered nations who came from the same home there is not one with a more fiery courage and a higher sense of martial duty than the men from the great island continent. It is the misfortune of the historian when dealing with these contingents that, as a rule, by their very nature they were employed in detached parties in fulfilling the duties which fall to the lot of scouts and light cavalry – duties which fill the casualty lists but not the pages of the chronicler. Be it said, however, once for all that throughout the whole African army there was nothing but the utmost admiration for the dash and spirit of the hard-riding, straight, shooting sons of Australia and New Zealand. In a host which held many brave men there were none braver than they.

It was evident from this time onwards that the turning movement had failed, and that the enemy had developed such strength that we were ourselves in imminent danger of being turned. The situation was a most serious one: for if Clements’s force could be brushed aside there would be nothing to keep the enemy from cutting the communications of the army which Roberts had assembled for his march into the Free State. Clements drew in his wings hurriedly and concentrated his whole force at Rensburg. It was a difficult operation in the face of an aggressive enemy, but the movements were well timed and admirably carried out. There is always the possibility of a retreat degenerating into a panic, and a panic at that moment would have been a most serious matter. One misfortune occurred, through which two companies of the Wiltshire regiment were left without definite orders, and were cut off and captured after a resistance in which a third of then number was killed and wounded. No man in that trying time worked harder than Colonel Carter of the Wiltshires (the night of the retreat was the sixth which he had spent without sleep), and the loss of the two companies is to be set down to one of those accidents which may always occur in warfare. Some of the Inniskilling Dragoons and Victorian Mounted Rifles were also cut off in the retreat, but on the whole Clements was very fortunate in being able to concentrate his scattered army with so few mishaps. The withdrawal was heartbreaking to the soldiers who had worked so hard and so long in extending the lines, but it might be regarded with equanimity by the Generals, who understood that the greater strength the enemy developed at Colesberg the less they would have to oppose the critical movements which were about to be carried out in the west. Meanwhile Coleskop had also been abandoned, the guns removed, and the whole force on February 14th passed through Rensburg and felt back upon Arundel, the spot from which six weeks earlier French had started upon this stirring series of operations. It would not be fair, however, to suppose that they had failed because they ended where they began. Their primary object had been to prevent the further advance of the Freestaters into the colony, and, during the most critical period of the war, this had been accomplished with much success and little loss. At last the pressure had become so severe that the enemy had to weaken the most essential part of their general position in order to relieve it. The object of the operations had really been attained when Clements found himself back at Arundel once more. French, the stormy petrel of the war, had flitted on from Cape Town to Modder River, where a larger prize than Colesberg awaited him. Clements continued to cover Naauwport, the important railway junction, until the advance of Roberts’s army caused a complete reversal of the whole military situation.

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