Attractions & Things to Do
Battle of Majuba Hill



Majuba Hill was the scene of the most important battle of the first Boer Wart, on 27 February 1881. It was a resounding victory for the Boers and, sdignificantly, led to the signing of a peace treaty and later the Pretoria Convention, between the British and the newly created South African Republic, ending the First Boer War. Major-General Sir George Pomeroy Colley, leading 405 British soldiers of the 58th regiment and 92nd Highlanders, occupied the summit of the hill on the night of February 26-27, 1881. The Boers believed that he may have been attempting to outflank their positions at Laing's Nek. General Colley had brought no artillery up to the summit, nor did he order his men to dig in, expecting that the Boers would retreat, That did not happen. Under Nicolas Smit, the Boers formed storming parties (estimated at 450 men) to attack the hill. At daybreak, the 92nd Highlanders began to yell and shake their fists and the Boers,fearing an artillery attack, dispatched three storming groups of 100-200 men in a slow advance up the hill. The groups were led by Field Cornet Stephanus Roos, Commandant D.J.K. Malan and Commandant Joachim Ferreira. The Boers, being the better marksmen, kept their enemy on the slopes at bay while the groups crossed the open ground. Ferreira's men opened up a tremendous fire on the exposed knoll and captured it. Over the next hour, the Boers poured over the top of the British line and engaged the enemy at long range, refusing hand-to-hand combat action and picking off the British one by one. The Boers were able to take advantage of the scrub and long grass which covered the hill, something that the British were not trained to do. Panicking British troops began to desert their posts, unable to see their opponents. When more Boers were seen encircling the mountain, the British line collapsed and the Boers were able to launch an attack which shattered the already crumbling British line. In the confusion and rising casualties, Colley attempted a fighting retreat but was shot by Boer marksmen. The rest of the British force fled down the rear slopes of Majuba, straight into the fire of Boer marksmen. Two hundred and eighty Britons were killed, captured or wounded. Although small in scope, the battle is historically significant and marked the beginning of the now-famous fire and movement ('vuur en beweging') tactics. It also confirmed, in the minds of the British, the strength of the Boers. 'Remember Majuba' became a rallying cry.