Battle of Derdepoort

Start Date End Date
1899-11-25 1899-11-25
Derdepoort was a Boer settlement on the South African Republic (or Transvaal) side of the border between British Bechuanaland (today Botswana) and the then South African Republic (or Transvaal). On 25 November 1899, British troops and three baKgatla regiments, left Mochudi to attack Derdepoort. The baKgatla were under their own commanders, Ramono, Segale and Modise. The combined baKgatla/British force numbering 120 men was under the overall command of Lieutenant-Colonel G. L. Holdsworth. Derdepoort had about 100 men under Commandants J. F. Kirsten and P. J. Hans Riekert.  
The baKgatla/British attack on Derdepoort began at dawn on 25 November 1899. However, to the surprise and disppointmentof the baKgatla troops, Holdsworth decided to withdraw his British troops completely and return to Gaborone, citing logistical problems as his explanation. With the British troops now completely off the scene, the baKgatla used the opportunity they had always wanted, to begin settling their long-standing grievances against the Boers. In the ensuing fight, the baKgatla suffered 14 dead and 16 wounded, while the Boers had 20 dead, including J. H. Barnard, a member of the first Volksraad for Rustenburg. The baKgatla also captured 100 oxen, 30 horses and 18 women and children. (The women and children were safely taken to Mochudi and later all handed back to their families.) In this attack, baKgatla military pressure was such that "15 Burgers deserted the laager" and Commandant Kirsten admitted, just after the war, that the baKgatla "shot wonderfully well, in the same manner as the Boers, and their aiming was excellent, infinitely better than that of the English ... " In order to ensure that the baKgatla would not pose any further danger, Boer commandos razed the baKgatla's border villages of Mathubudukwane, Malolwane, Sikwane and even threatened to attack Mochudi itself. Sikwane in particular was "thoroughly ravaged" by the Boers in case it would be used as a base against them as it was closest to Derdepoort.

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

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