Another large mass grave can be found separate from those soldiers buried amongst the British trench. These men were mostly part of the Royal Lancaster Regiment. Losses were listed as about 343 British dead with another 563 wounded and 187 captured as opposed to 68 Boer dead and 134 wounded. Either way, it was a long ways from the Orange Free State...more
History is remembered in different ways by which outlook has. The British monument was put on the hill first - they lost the battle but won the war. But years after the war was won, Boers eventually reversed the results of the war. A second interpretation of the battle was given. Spion Kop entered into the Afrikaner mythology along with Blood River...more
Approximately 70 Boers died here in the fighting and of the Boer graves on Spion Kop, none of the men were identified. Identification of dead soldiers after a battle is a fairly recent phenomenom. For example, during the American Civil War, soldiers would put pieces of paper in their pockets with their names and addresses so they might be...more
These little peaks on the northeast side of Spion Kop allowed the Boers - riflemen on the Aloe Knoll and several field guns situated on the Twin Peaks - to lay a wicked fire down upon the British positions atop Spion Kop. Boer flanking attacks from the Knoll were beaten off. Late in the day, another British force not connected with those atop Spion...more
Effective Boer crossfire, Boer direct pressure, heat and lack of water forced the British slowly back from to their trench by noon. General Woodgate himself was mortally wounded and the British didn’t know who was in command for awhile. Heat and casualties began to wear on the British troops with nearly 200 Lancashire Fusiliers surrendering around...more
The British Monument is located near where General Woodgate had his headquarters. The monument commemorates the sacrifices of the different units and men who fought here on the Imperial side. It represents the first interpretation of the battle - the British version, a version of glory in sacrifice. Individual monuments can be erected by surviving...more
These mass graves are the final resting place for many from the Lancashire Fusiliers. After the battle, the dead were buried in what remained of the British trenches. Both Boer and Briton lie in unknown graves as there was little way the bodies could be identified after battle.more
Once atop the Kop, the British dug a trench of some 400 meters - noted on the battlefield by white paint splashed rocks - facing north. Little remains of the trench today though it is thought the trench was only 40 cm deep with a rampart of more rock and dirt that may have boosted its height to about one meter. Once the mists began to dissipate...more
A British bayonet assault skwered one of the Boer sentries - he is buried here - and the rest of the defenders fled to warn their comrades. Botha, in reply to the new British presence, repositioned field guns and rifles and sent an attack force of 400 up the northeast slopes to meet the British challenge head on.more
By 3 am the British were ready. Lines were formed and the mere 100 Boer defenders were chased quickly from the top of Spion Kop. Boer commander General Louis Botha had thought Spion Kop could be defended from surrounding lower hills which was one of the reasons there were so few defenders at the fight’s start. Still, early on, the days was looking...more
On the night of 23 Jan 1900, a British force of some 1700 men under the direct command of General Woodgate pushed up the southern slopes of Spion Kop in an attempt to turn the Boer defensive line along the Thukela River and relieve the Boer siege of nearby Ladysmith which was three months old by this point. You can see the terrain the British...more
The food here is typical to most BnB's in South Africa- Steak, Fish, Veal, etc. I had a very nice Fried hake with a great sauce and fries, and my companion had a smoked trout that she claimed was "Awesome". Overall it was very nice, and not crowded on Xmas ( WOW) Eve during lunch. The owner's wife came out and asked us how things were and even took...more
Outside of Bergville, we discoved the Waffle Hut situated next to the weaving & candle making factory shop. You have a choice of waffle's or pancakes here with various fillings. Some you would not expect to find on waffle's but hey try something new, it might just be very very nice. I had the pancakes filled with mince. Nice bite to it, but it...more
The shop stocks a variety of items from carpets to candles. They make the most interesting candles here, so I could not resist and had to buy a few. Very well priced.
I must say that I would rather explore a battlefield on my own with a little pre and post reading to guide my efforts. If you read the relevant chapter in Thomas Pakenham’s “The Boer War” and use the self-guided trail map you should be able to make sense of the dry grassy mountain top. I have read in some of the guidebooks that so little remains on the battlefields here in KwaZulu Natal - Majuba, Isandlwana, Spion Kop - just a few graves and a couple memorials. But one has to remember these battles were never large affairs on the scale of the horrors that were to occur a little latter in Europe. The emptiness of the battlefields speak volumes by themselves. Still, to make it easier for the visitor, just like in Europe and at American Civil War sites, experienced guides can be employed to give you more of a sense of what happened, where and why. Some of the guides dress up in military regalia leading to the theatrics of their tour. I imagine that being licensed, most guides are knowledgeable in the sites that they show you - I would still think if you want to go to the expense of hiring a guide you would want to study up on a site before going through. The only other people up on Spion Kop hired a guide to help them understand the battle better and with the little I overheard, they should have come off the site with a much better sense of the battlefield.
The approach road is some 6 kilometers of dirt that is badly eroded in parts. I made it up here with a Toyota Tazz, but just barely. It is bad enough to drive on the wrong side of the road with gear shift on the wrong side and the windshield wipers going on everytime I wanted to make a turn, but something with bigger tires and a little more ground clearance would have made things a lot easier. On my return I also had to drive very slowly … to make it through the flock of sheep who were also using the road.