Siege of Lydenburg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Siege of Lydenburg
Part of First Boer War
Date 6 January 1881 - 30 March 1881[1][2]
Location Lydenburg, British-occupied Transvaal (Transvaal Colony) Coordinates: 25°05′46″S 30°26′46″E / 25.096°S 30.446°E / -25.096; 30.446
Result South African Republic victory; Lydenburg is captured[2]
Belligerents
 United Kingdom  South African Republic
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Second Lieutenant Walter Long[3][4][5][6] South African Republic Commandant Dietrich Muller[7]
South African Republic Commandant Piet Steyn[8][9]
Units involved
BritishArmyFlag2.svg 94th Regiment of Foot

Royal Engineers badge.png Royal Engineers

Strength
50-55 men of the 94th Regiment
7-8 Royal Engineers
8-10 volunteers and men from the Army Service Corps
Total: 60-70 men [10][11][12][13]
6 January 1880: 200-250 men;[8][1] following 6 January: 500-600 men.[1]
Casualties and losses
3-4 killed, 19 wounded[14][15]

The Siege of Lydenburg was a siege carried out by the Boer Republic of Transvaal on Lydenburg, modern day South Africa, between January and March 1881 during the First Boer War. Despite fierce British resistance, the town fell to the Boers following British defeat during the First Boer War. The siege lasted 84 days.[16][17]

Background[edit]

Lydenburg was controlled by the full force 94th Regiment.[18] On 5 December 1880, most of the regiment was withdrawn, under Lieutenant-Colonel Anstruther.[6][19] Less than 100 British forces were left to defend the city,[5] under the command of Second Lieutenant Walter Long,[3][4][5][6] son of the British politician with the same name.[20] On 20 December 1880, six officers and 246 men of the 94th Regiment, along with 12 men of the Army Service Corps and 4 men of the Army Hospital Corps, were attacked by 250 Boers at Bronkhorstspruit whilst marching from Lydenburg to Pretoria. They suffered 156 casualties.[21] This begun the First Boer War.

Preparations[edit]

Following the outbreak of the war, Long received orders from Pretoria to defend Lydenburg.[3] Long acted by building a fort and constructing stone walls around it to improve defences.[22][23] The fort, known as Fort Mary, consisted of eight thatched huts connected by stone walls.[24][25][26] Fort Mary provided cover for British forces and would allow Long to successfully fight off the Boers for three months.[24] The British stored 200,000 rounds of ammunition, left behind by the main force of the 94th Regiment under Anstruther, in preparation for a Boer siege.[27][13] The British had at their disposal three months' supply of meat, eight months' supply flour for bread making, and supplies of groceries and vegetables, in order to survive the siege.[27]

Siege[edit]

On 23 December 1880, Dietrich Muller entered Lydenburg and informed Long that his government had demanded the immediate surrender of Lydenburg. Long refused to capitulate, and the Boers prepared to besiege.[7] Commandos took positions two miles away from the road to Middelburg on 3 January 1881 and then advanced on Lydenburg on the 6th.[1] Over two hundred burghers breached the town and proclaimed their allegiance to the South African Republic, again requesting Long to surrender. Long refused, and the Boer contingent grew to about five hundred men.[1] As the Boers advanced through Lydenburg, they neared Fort Mary, and opened fire at 230 metres. The garrison was not harmed, despite sporadic firing for three hours. Two days later, on 8 December, a cannon was brought to bear, which also failed to impress the fort or inflict any casualties on Long's men. However, a second gun brought later damaged Fort Mary's defences.[28] On 23 January 1881, the garrison discovered a low water supply.[23][29] Water was temporarily rationed until rainfall on 8 February brought relief.[29]
On 4 March 1881, Boers successfully set fire to the thatched roofs of Fort Mary. British forces managed to put out the fire in twenty minutes, but came under heavy Boer fire whilst doing so.[30][31]
On 10 March, two Boers entered Lydenburg with a letter from Alfred Aylward, offering favourable terms of surrender to the British. Aylward stated Long should surrender due to the small size of his army and as there were no British troops in South Africa, close to Lydenburg, available to relieve the siege. Long replied that he would not surrender as long as he had men at his disposal or was told otherwise.[32][33]
On 23 March, Boers again entered Lydenburg, informing Long of the death of Major-General George Colley at Majuba Hill, and requesting British surrender. Still, the siege continued until 30 March 1881, when Lieutenant Baker, from the 60th regiment, agreed to peace terms with the Boers.[2] The siege lasted for 84 days.[16][17]

Aftermath[edit]

Following the capture of Lydenburg and other British forts in Transvaal, the South African Republic regained independence and control over its territories. British forces would again enter Lydenburg during the Second Boer War.

External sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "The Boers took up a position two miles off on the road to Middelburg on 3 January, 1881 and commenced their attack on the 6th. Two hundred and fifty men entered the town and proclaimed the Republic, again calling on Long to surrender, which he again refused to do. The Boer force was now estimated at between 500 and 600 men." 
  2. ^ a b c M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "On 23 March the Boer Commandant sent in under a flag of truce a copy of the Natal Mercury describing Sir George Colley's defeat and death, and the terms of the armistice, but hostilities continued until 30 March, when Lieutenant Baker of the 60th Regiment arrived with despatches confirming the terms of peace." 
  3. ^ a b c M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "Lieutenant Walter Long, a 24-year old junior officer of the 94th, was placed in command, and on receipt of instructions from Pretoria immediately set to work to strengthen the defences." 
  4. ^ a b John Laband. The Transvaal Rebellion: The First Boer War, 1880-1881. p. 91. "On earlier oders from Pretoria, Second Lieutenant Walter H.C. Long, the young 22-year-old officer in command, had already set about removing the government stores from hired premises in the town to the camp, about 1,000 yards distant." 
  5. ^ a b c "First Anglo-Boer War 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "After 5 December 1880 less than a hundred soldiers under 24 year-old Lieutenant Walter Long were left in Lydenburg." 
  6. ^ a b c Charles Norris-Newman. With the Boers in the Transvaal and the Orange free state in 1880-1. pp. 248, 249. Retrieved 17 December 2013. "After the departure of the 94th, under Colonel Anstruther, for Pretoria, on Sunday, December 5th, as rumours of the rising of the Boers were prevalent, application was made to Lieutenant Long, commanding the detachment left in the fort, to join the town in a system of general defence." 
  7. ^ a b M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "On 23 December Long was visited by Dietrich Muller who said he had been deputed by the Boer Government to demand the immediate surrender of the garrison which was refused by Long." 
  8. ^ a b John Laband. The Transvaal Rebellion: The First Boer War, 1880-1. p.114. Retrieved 16 December 2013. "Assistant Commandant-General J,P. Steyn's commando of about 200 men entered Lydenburg on 6 January and formally proclaimed the Republic at a flag-raising ceremony."
  9. ^ Charles Norris-Newman. With the Boers in the Transvaal and the Orange free state 1880-1. p. 249. Retrieved 17 December 2013. "They owe their safety from molestation, and the absence of looting stores or private property, to the Commandant of the Boers, Piet Steyn." 
  10. ^ M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "The remaining troops consisted of 54 non-commissioned officers and men of the 94th, a Sergeant and 7 Sappers, RE, eight NCOs and men of the Commissariat and Hospital Corps, with Surgeon Falvey in medical charge, and Conductor Parsons in charge of supplies." 
  11. ^ Charles Norris-Newman. With the Boers in the Transvaal and Orange Free State 1880-81. pp. 249, 250. Retrieved 15 December 2013. "Lieutenant Long's force consisted of fifty men and ten Volunteers." 
  12. ^ Charles Norris-Newman. With the Boers in the Transvaal and the Orange free state in 1880-1. p. 249. Retrieved 17 December 2013. "The fifty men left here are here, it is understood, simply for the protection of Government stores, not for the defence of the town." 
  13. ^ a b John Laband. The Transvaal Rebellion: The First Boer War, 1880-1881. p. 91. "In order to protect the large stocks of government stores and 200,000 rounds of ammunition being left behind in Lydenburg, Anstruther detailed a small force of 50 other ranks of the 94th Regiment (mostly the sick), 8 Royal Engineers, and a few men of the Army Service Corps and the Army Hospital Corps to guard them." 
  14. ^ M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "Casualties were four killed, including two volunteers, and nineteen wounded." 
  15. ^ Charles Norris-Newman. With the Boers in the Transvaal and Orange Free State in 1880-1. p. 251. Retrieved 15 December 2013. "The casualties during the siege were: killed, three; wounded, nineteen, between the 6th of January and 31st of March, 1881." 
  16. ^ a b M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "The siege lasted eighty-four days." 
  17. ^ a b "First Anglo-Boer War 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "Long rejected a peace offering from the Boers and the siege only came to an end after 84 days." 
  18. ^ M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "The garrison at Lydenburg originally consisted of the 94th Regiment, but with the exception of a small detachment, the regiment was withdrawn on 5 December 1880." 
  19. ^ Lady Bellairs. The Transvaal war, 1880-81. p. 300. Retrieved 17 January 2014. "THE garrison of Lydenburg - a village of some trading VII. importance, due to its vicinity to the Gold Fields, and lon ' similar in buildings and character to other small towns in the Transvaal - consisted of the 94th Regiment, until, as already related, at the instance of the Administrator, these troops were, with the exception of a small detachment left to guard military stores, withdrawn on the 5th December 1880." 
  20. ^ "Inquests". The Times. 23 February 1892. p. 11. 
  21. ^ Castle, Ian. Majuba 1881: The Hill of Destiny. Oxford, Osprey Publishing, 1996, ISBN 1-85532-503-9. p. 27.
  22. ^ M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "He constructed a fort by erecting stone walls between a number of thatched-roofed huts which were covered with tarpaulins." 
  23. ^ a b "First Anglo-Boer War 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "Although Long improved the fort's defences the water supply ran low by 23 January 1881." 
  24. ^ a b Francis Hugh De Souza. A Question Of Treason. p. 30. Retrieved 15 December 2013. "When Anstruther's men were decimated outside Bronkhorstspruit, 65 Long retired his men, including his wife and Father Walsh 66 into Fort Mary -- eight thatched huts connected by stone walls -- and for the next three-and-a-half months fought off attacking Boers." 
  25. ^ John Laband. The Transvaal Rebellion: The First Boer War, 1880-1881. p. 124. Retrieved 17 December 2013. "Long's report on the defence of Fort Mary, Lydenburg, n.d. [recd 10 April 1881]; Mrs Long, Fort Mary..." 
  26. ^ John Laband. The Transvaal Rebellion: The First Boer War, 1880-1881. Retrieved 15 January 2014. "The camp consisted of eight recently constructed stone-walled buildings, each 16 by 5 yards, set in two rows." 
  27. ^ a b M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "An underground magazine was constructed in which over 200 000 rounds of ammunition, left behind by the 94th, was stored. Three months supply of preserved meat, eight months' flour for bread making, and ample supplies of groceries and vegetables provided for a lengthy siege." 
  28. ^ M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "Approaching to within 250 yards (228 m) of the fort they opened fire, continuing for about 3 hours without harming the garrison. A cannon opened fire on the fort on 8 January but the shells passed harmlessly over. Later a second gun was used against the garrison which caused damage." 
  29. ^ a b M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "On 23 January the water supply was found to be running short and the garrison was placed on short ration until a heavy rainfall on 8 February afforded relief." 
  30. ^ M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "On 4 March the enemy successfully set fire to the thatched roofs of the fort." 
  31. ^ Charles Norris-Newman. With the Boers in the Transvaal and Orange Free State in 1880-1. p. 250. Retrieved 15 December 2013. "On the 4th of March the Boers managed to set fire to one of the buildings in the fort, it being a thatched roof; the troops put it out in twenty minutes, under a heavy fire from the Boers." 
  32. ^ Charles Norris-Newman. With the Boers in the Transvaal and the Orange free state in 1880-1. p. 249. Retrieved 17 December 2013. "Early in March Mr. A. Aylward arrived in Leydenberg, and under a flag of truce he interviewed Lieutenant Long, 94th Regiment, Dr. Falvay, and the Rev. Father Walsh ; he wanted Lieutenant Long to surrender, stating that it was madness in him showing further resistance, as there were no troops in the country to help him. Lieutenant Long replied that he would not surrender, he meant to fight and retain the fort as long as he had a man left him." 
  33. ^ M. Gough Palmer. "The Besieged Towns of the First Boer War, 1880-1881". Retrieved 15 December 2013. "On the morning of 10 March, two men appeared under a flag of truce bearing a letter from Alfred Aylward, formerly editor of the Natal Witness (who had joined the Boer forces), offering favourable terms of capitulation, to which Lieutenant Long replied that he would continue to defend the Fort until he received instructions to the contrary."