Battle of Boschbult

Start Date End Date
1902-03-29 1902-04-04
Battle between forces of Col. Cookson, and Ber commandoes under Generals Lieberberg, Du Toit, and others

This battle occurred during the South African War on the 31 March 1902. Boschbult, also known as Hart's river, is situated 30 kilometres from Ottosdal, on the road to Delareyville. A division of the forces of Col. Cookson, under the command of Lord Kitchener, tracked a commando under General Liebenberg to the farm Boschbult. The opposing forces took up residence in different dwellings on the farm and a vigorus exchange of canon and gunfire ensued. A section of Cookson's force took up a position along the banks of the nearby Brakspruit river.
The Boer forces were reinforced by the arrival of three commandoes led by Generals Kemp, Du Toit and Celliers. Despite a numerical advantage, the Boers were unable to dislodge Cookson's men, partly due to poor communication between the commandoes. General de la Rey then intervened, ordering an immediate withdrawal, based on information that Kitchener himself was coming to Cookson's relief.
In fact the situation was a part comedy of misinformation. Cookson had failed to make contact with Kitchener, though the latter was aware of the battle. Kitchener, on his way to relieve Cookson, encountered a party of Africans, who created the impression that the Boer forces were overwhelming the British. Kitchener then reported back the his headquarters in Klerkdorp, requesting reinforcements. When these arrived, under the command of Col.Rawlinson, he proceeded to Boschbult only to find the Boers had withdrawn.
Losses on both sides were quite substantial. Forty of the Boers, and 178 British soldiers were either killed or wounded. Among the British casualties were twelve  Canadians. One of them who survived, Sergeant Major J.C Richards, won the Distinguished Service Medal.  A memorial has been erected at the site of the battle.        

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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