Magersfontein Read more [...]
About 31.5 km on the Modderriver Road past the airport. The Magersfontein battlefield is a must for any visitor to Kimberley. It is situated south of Kimberley and can be reached either via the airport road (31.5km) or via the N12 to Modder River (47,5km).
It was here that General P A Cronje and his Boer troops defeated the English forces of Lt Gen Lord Methuen who were on their way to relieve besieged Kimberley. Methuen planned to attack Magersfontein at dawn on 11 December 1899, using General A G Wauchope’s Highland Brigade as his main assault force. Methuen believed the Boers were positioned on high ground and ordered his artillery to shell Magersfontein during the afternoon of 10 December, thus sacrificing a possible surprise attack.
Wauchope’s Highlanders left Headquarters Hill at 00:30 the following morning. The plan required that they be in position below the Magersfontein hill by 02:30, but a dark, stormy night slowed their advance. The Highland Brigade only deployed at about 03:45 some 400 m from the unsuspected Boer trenches. In the dim pre-dawn the Boers opened fire, throwing the Highland Brigade into chaos. The Highland Brigade fought valiantly but was driven back by Boer rifle fire and its own shellfire. By midmorning the Brigade was pinned down and unable to move despite reinforcement by the Gordon Highlanders. The British were on the back foot for most of the battle. At about midday on the 12th Methuen withdrew his troops to Modder River station, where he remained for the following two months.
Kimberley would have to wait two more months before it was relieved. The Magersfontein Battlefield Museum was first opened in 1971 and renovated in 1999. Numerous artifacts from the battlefield can be seen, as well as an audio-visual presentation. With this display visitors can experience the battle as if from a darkened Boer trench with all the sights and sounds as the action unfolds. The museum has some examples of the uniforms worn by the leading role players and a selection of firearms used by the British and Boer forces.
A hilltop memorial located close to the museum commemorates the Scottish dead, while the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) monument honours the men of the 2nd battalion who died during the battle. Two more notable memorials are those of the Scandinavians who fought alongside the Boers and the imposing Burgher monument to the north-east of the main Magersfontein hill. Information on the battlefield and refreshments are available at the cafeteria. Recently a guesthouse, the Bagpipe Lodge, was also established at Magersfontein.
For further information contact Sunet Swanepoel. [Every effort has been made to accommodate people with disabilities. Wheelchair paths have been added so that everyone can experience the wonderful view from the observation post.]
For an excelent tour of Magersfontein and other local historical sites contact Steve Lunderstedt of Steve’s Tours
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