The Battle of Ladysmith was fought between the Boer forces, commanded by Petrus J Joubert, and the British Army, under the command of Sir George Stuart White, on October 30, 1899, near Ladysmith, Colony of Natal, South Africa, during the Second Boer War. The result of this fiercely fought battle was a Boer victory.
The reinforced British garrison that took part in the battle was made up of the Devonshire Regiment’s 1st Battalion, the Rifle Brigade’s 2nd Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders, and the Manchester Regiment’s 2nd Battalion, totaling 13,000 men. The Boer army was composed of 20,000 men, who had been deployed on hilly terrain along a wide front, four miles away to the north of the town of Ladysmith. The battle began on the morning of October 30, 1899, when Sir George White ordered his troops to rapidly advance east of Ladysmith and then swing around to attack the Boer army’s left flank. Despite the massive commitment of troops and their rapid advance, the British attack floundered completely as the Boers had set up several other positions on top of hillocks during the night, taking the British by surprise. Thus, White’s battalions were routed and forced retreat back into town.
This military defeat cost White 1,250 men: 450 were killed in action and 800 taken prisoners. However, the Boers did not counter-attack immediately, giving the reeling British forces time to reorganize and set up defensive lines around the town.