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Bronkhorst Spruit

Battle Name : Bronkhorst Spruit

Date(s) : 20 December 1880

Part of : British Victorian Colonial 'Small Wars' , The 1st Boer War, or Transvaal War of Independence ,

Outcome : A victory for Boer (Transvaal) forces over British Colonial forces

Type of battle : Land


A column of the 94th Foot were halted, ambushed and cut down by a Boer commando under Franz Joubert or their way to Pretoria.

The opening engagement of the 1st Boer war, this set the tone for the rest.


Bronkhorst Spruit (Watercress Ditch) on the wagon track from Lydenberg to Pretoria, approximately 2 days march from Pretoria. Transvaal, South Africa (South Africa)

More details

Colonel Anstruther in command of 2 companies of the 94th Foot, marching to Pretoria were approached by 150 Boers as they were about to encamp at Bronkhorst Spruit. The commandant, Franz Joubert sent a representative under a flag of truce to inform Col Anstruther that 4 days ago independence had been declared, and that the column would be required to halt where it was and place itself under the Boers while instructions were sent for. Anstruther replied that his orders were to proceed to Pretoria and that’s precisely what he would do. The delegation retired and the British were ordered into skirmishing lines.

The attack, when it came was unlike anything the British had experienced before. The Boers, in cover with accurate, hunting rifles poured devastating fire into the British who were attempting to reply with volley fire. The officers who stood forward of the infantrymen encouraging them with lofted sabre to form lines were cut down where they stood.

Within minutes, it was all over, and Anstruther gave the order to cease fire. Two thirds of his men were casualties. Joubert and the Boers rushed over to disarm and help the British. Medical aid was supplied and the wounded were well treated by the Boers. The unwounded prisoners and the captured supplies and weapons were marched to Heidelberg

Casualty figures

British Colonial forces

Number engaged :

Casualties :
257 (100.00%)

Boer (Transvaal) forces

Number engaged :

Casualties :