The Battle of Magersfontein
Did you know?
Scotland's Highland Brigade suffered the worst casualties during the Battle of Magersfontein.
The Battle of Magersfontein was a triumph for the Boer forces, a disaster for the British army, and came close to wiping out Scotland's proud Highland Brigade.
During the second Anglo-Boer War, the Boers had besieged Kimberley and its 50 000 inhabitants since November 1899. Supplies were scarce in the diamond-mining town and relief was imperative.
The British public and press were demanding action. British forces advanced north along the railway line in an attempt to relieve Kimberley, but a Boer force was in their way at Magersfontein.
The British mistakenly believed that the enemy was encamped on the slopes of the surrounding hills and were confident that their superior artillery would win the day. The troops advanced under cover of darkness and prepared to storm the Boer positions at daybreak. The plan proved horribly wrong.
The Boers had dug trenches at the base of the hills and the flat trajectory of their Mauser rifles raked the advancing British troops. The soldiers of Scotland's Highland Brigade who survived the rifle fire were pinned down on the battlefield in the heat of the day. Over 200 British were killed during the battle, many of them dying of sunstroke and exposure.
Today you can take a tour of the Magersfontein battlefield with an experienced guide and military historian to relive that grim day. You'll visit some Boer graves in the veld before stopping at the Burgher Monument.
Watch a short audio-visual account of the battle, and then it’s off to the hills where you might encounter a ghostly Boer burgher. Then on to the trenches: on moonlit nights they say you can see some of those Highlanders charging, and many visitors claim to have seen the lanterns of the stretcher-bearers.
It's also claimed that if you listen closely, you may well hear the mournful notes of a phantom Scottish piper.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Magersfontein Experience
Mobile: +27 (0) 83 732 3189
Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 222 4777