Magaliesberg Association for Culture & Heritage: MACH

The Battle of Diamond Hill took place on the 11 and 12 June 1900 and MACH had planned to unveil a Blue Plaque at the battlefield on the 120th anniversary this year. Unfortunately, Covid-19 intervened. Sir Ian Hamilton, one of the generals who took part in the battle, described it as the turning point in the South African War, so in this Memoir we look at what happened and why it was so important.

Lord Roberts, Commander in Chief of the British forces, prepared to occupy Pretoria on 5 June 1900, General Louis Botha left to rally the remnants of the Boer army. Botha had been persuaded to continue the war by the Free State President Martinus Steyn and further encouragement now came with the news that Christiaan de Wet’s Free State commandos were wreaking havoc with the extended British line of communication between Pretoria and Cape Town. British columns had been defeated at Lindley and Heilbron and rail links were repeatedly being disrupted. The Transvaal commandos were despondent and exhausted after months of defeat and retreat and many had returned to their farms thinking that the war was over. But, encouraged by Botha’s revived determination and the news from the Free State, a core of about 5000  burghers were still willing to fight on. They assembled at Donkerhoek pass, which today carries the modern N4 highway through the Magaliesberg range about 30km east of Pretoria.

Ref: The Battle of Diamond Hill (from V. Carruthers. “The Magaliesberg”)

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