Battle of Driefontein, 10 March 1900

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The battle of Driefontein (Boer War) was the last attempt to prevent the British under Lord Roberts from occupying Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State. The Boer position in the Orange Free State had collapsed very quickly. Only four weeks earlier their main army had been camped at Magersfontein, blocking the direct route to Kimberley. On 11 February Lord Roberts had begun his great flank march, which had seen Kimberley liberated on 15 March, and the army from Magersfontein captured at Paardeberg on 27 February. A first attempt to stop the British advance had failed with hardly any fighting at Poplar Grove (7 March).

In the aftermath of the rout at Poplar Grove, President Kruger had made valiant attempts to rally the fleeing burghers, but only 1,500 of the 6,000 men from Poplar Grove could be convinced to stay. Under the command of Christiaan De Wet, with assistance from De La Rey, the Boers organised a new defensive line at Dreifontein.

This time they fought, and fought well. Lord Roberts organised his men into three columns and attacked along the entire Boer line. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Boers managed to hold on all day, but as darkness fell the British had seized the northern end of the Boer line, and were threatening the southern flanks. Once again the burghers fled – De Wet described it as a panic. This time there was no stopping them. Three days later the British captured Bloemfontein without facing any more significant resistance. British losses at Driefontein had been 82 dead and 342 wounded. Boer losses were at least 102 dead and 22 captured. To the British it began to look as if the war would soon be won.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 March 2007), Battle of Driefontein, 10 March 1900, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_driefontein.html

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