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The Battlefields


The following battle sites are located in the vicinity of Estcourt:

Bloukrans:
Many Voortrekker families were killed here following the murder of Piet Retief by the Zulus in February 1838.

Brynbella Hill - Willow Grange:
The Boers were highly motivated after their successful ambushing of the reconnaissance/armoured Train near Frere on the 15 November 1899. General Joubert decided to press further southwards and to occupy high ground, particularly Brynbella(now Harris) Hill, to the south of Estcourt.
The British engaged these forces on the 22 and 23 November. However they were forced back.
After this battle General Joubert was of the opinion that his force was too small to advance further into Natal. He thus decided to withdraw them behind the natural 'barricade' of the Thukela River.
This site is approx 5km from Old Beacon Hill. The stone wall used by both the Boer and British forces during the skirmish on 23 Nov 1899 is still visible, and is a national monument.

Winston Churchill Capture Site/ The Armoured Train Incident:
After Ladysmith had been effectively besieged in early November 1899, the Boer made a decision to invade further into Natal. The British used to send out reconnaissance trains from Estcourt to monitor the movements of the Boers. On the 15 November 1899, the twenty- five year old cavalryman and newspaper correspondent, Winston Churchill joined one of these missions. This train was derailed and ambushed by Boers. Churchill was captured and taken as a prisoner of war. This site is located between the station at Frere and the Chieveley Military Cemetery on the R103, between Estcourt and Colenso.

Rensburg Koppie:
Some 10 km from Estcourt. In 1838 Marthinus Oosthuizen saved a group of encamped Voortrekkers from Zulu attack.

Saailaer:

This battle was fought on 12 February 1838, as one of the battles fought during the Zulu attack on the Voortrekkers following the execution of Piet Retief. The zulus were successfully repelled by Andries Pretorius and his party, who occupied the site with about forty wagons from 12 January to 25 February 1838. A restored Voortrekker house is also on the site. It is located on the farm Zaai Lager; below Fort Durnford in the Estcourt area, at a bend in the Bushman's River.

Veghtlaager (Veglaer):
Originally known as Gatran, it was renamed Veghtlaager after withstanding an attack by Zulus in 1838. The site has been under water since the commissioning of the Wagendrift Dam.

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