This battle was one of the few tactical victories won by the British. There are two memorial sites on the reserve that commemorate the Boer and English troops who laid down their lives for their countries.
The Battle of Elandslaagte - 21 October 1899
On 19 October 1899, a Boer Commando, led by General Kock and aided by a detachment of German volunteers, occupied the Elandslaagte railway station. The Boers proceeded to cut communication between the main British force at Ladysmith and a detachment at Dundee. Major General French was sent to recapture the station. Arriving shortly after dawn on the 21 October, French came across a strong Boer presence with two field guns. He telegraphed to Ladysmith for reinforcements, which arrived shortly by train. While three batteries of British field guns bombarded the Boer position, the 1st Battalion advanced frontally in an open order. The main attack, commanded by Brigadier Ian Hamilton, moved around the Boers’ left flank. A thunderstorm broke as the British launched their assault. As the storm raged, the British infantry faced a barbed wire farm fence, in which several men became entangled and were shot. They cut and burst through the wire to capture the Boer position.
A few Boers raised the white flag of surrender, but General Kock led a counter-attack, driving the British infantry back. The British then rallied and re-charged, killing Kock and most of his men. The remaining Boer troops mounted their horses to retreat, but many of them were slain as two squadrons of British cavalry charged upon them with lances and sabres.
The exhausted British troops were ordered to fall back to Ladysmith as the invasion of the town by 10,000 Boers from the Orange Free State was imminent.
Some battles between the British and the Zulus also occurred in this area:
The Battle of Isandlwana - 22 January 1879
On 22 January 1879, Lt. Col. Pulleine was in command of 1,774 British troops that were encamped on the eastern slope of Isandlwana. At 10 am, he received an order to break camp and move his troops 13 miles south-east, to Lt. General Lord Chelmsford’s location.
At 12 noon, whilst still striking tents and hitching oxen to wagons, the camp was attacked by 12,000 Zulu Impis. Using their “horns-of-the-beast” strategy, the Impis surrounded the camp and killed 1,329 British soldiers.
The Battle of Rorke's Drift - 22-23 January 1879
The camp at Rorke’s Drift was a supply depot, which included a fortified hospital and store. At 4:30 pm on 22 January 1879 the camp, garrisoned by 139 British soldiers including 36 sick and wounded men, was attacked by 4,500 Zulu warriors. The ensuing battle had lasted for 11 and half hours before the Zulus were driven back.
Eleven Victoria Crosses, the most ever awarded in a single battle, and five Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded to the British soldiers for their bravery.