The British having just won the Battle of Talana on 20 October 1899 were not expecting any more trouble from the Boers. However a cavalry force led by General French encountered the Johannesburg Commando under Kommandant Kock just north of Ladysmith.
The British rushed reinforcements by train to the scene and attacked the Boers who were encamped behind a horseshoe-shaped ring of hills near Elandslaagte station. Under heavy fire the British infantry assaulted the Boer army and drove them off the crest of the hills.
In their attempt to escape on their ponies which were on the reverse slope of the hills the Boers suffered heavy casualties by an unexpected charge by the 5th Lancers.
Sir George White received incorrect information to the effect that a vastly superior force of Boers under General Joubert was fast approaching and gave an order to fall back on Ladysmith, thereby nullifying their victory.
This set the scene for the siege of Ladysmith which began shortly afterwards.
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