To relieve the besieged town of Ladysmith General Buller advanced on the lines of defence that had been set by General Louis Botha.
The British forces advanced on three fronts :
On the right flank towards Hlangwane Hill lead by Earl Douglas Hamilton, who was repulsed.
On the left flank lead by Major General Hart who was ambushed in a blind loop 7km upstream from Colenso with heavy casualties.
In the centre led by Colonel C. J. Long the heavy guns were advanced into the bend in the river where they came under heavy fire and the guns were abandoned.
General Buller gave the order to retrieve these guns and in the attempt Lieutenant Freddy Roberts, son of Field Marshall Lord Roberts, lost his life.
Only two of the twelve guns were successfully retrieved.
The British lost more than 1100 men at Colenso whilst the Boers suffered only 8 casualties with 30 wounded.
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