Did you know?
British Lieutenant Hector Macdonald was freed after capture by the Boers because of his bravery.
Majuba Hill near Volksrust is the site of one of the greatest blunders in British military history.
In 1877 Britain annexed the Transvaal republic, which led to the start of the first South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War and by the Boers as the War of Independence) on 16 December 1880. After a number of battles the combatants met at Majuba Hill on 27 February 1881.
The British commander, Major-General Sir George Colley, had the previous day occupied the summit of the hill presumably to outflank the Boer positions at Laing's Nek. Nearly half his men were from the 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders.
Colley, who until then was highly regarded, took no artillery with him nor did he ask his troops to dig in. While he assumed the Boers would disperse when they became aware of his position, they instead organised a storming party led by Nicolas Smit.
Smit, for the first time in warfare, employed the fire and movement tactic to keep the British at bay while his 3 attack groups got into position. Just after midnight they reached the summit and engaged the enemy with tremendous fire while avoiding hand-to-hand combat.
In panic, the surviving British fell into disarray and fled down the hill, where many more were killed, injured or captured. They tried to mount a rearguard action but this had little impact on this major battle in the first South African War (formerly known as the Anglo-Boer War). The Battle of Majuba Hill led to the British signing a truce on 6 March and a peace treaty 2 weeks later.
Today, the summit provides wonderful vistas over northern KwaZulu-Natal. From the south summit you can see Ingogo where the film ‘Zulu' was shot. And to the east is Charlestown where Mahatma Gandhi was forced from the train because of the colour of his skin.
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Who to contact
League of Researchers of South African Battlefields
Tel: +27 (0) 12 355 6405