The Battle of Hart's Hill

The British View

Hart's Hill from a photograph that was taken probably a few years after the war. Hart's Hill was clearly an unenviable position to have to take, and no doubt General Hart and his men were selected for this task because of their particular bravery which they had displayed at the Battle of Colenso.

Hart's Hill as seen from the British positions in the South. The brown part of the ridge on the left horizon is a stone quarry which during the war, had been part of the hill. The Boer defences were situated along the entire crest of the hill and there were very few trees to provide cover. Apparently the grass was also short at the time.

The eastern slope of Hart's Hill. This is the view that the British soldiers had later on. The summit had to be carried, but advancing up across such open ground was very difficult, and Mauser fire greeted the soldiers every inch of the way.

The protected area near the foot of Hart's Hill. Here the soldiers encamped and rested before the next assault.

Memorial to the men killed of the Connaught Ranger, Irish Brigade, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Border Regiment, Royal Dublin Fusiliers on 15 December 1899.

The Boer Positions

View from one of the trenches on the summit of Hart's Hill. In the distance the cooling towers of Colenso's power stations can be seen, with Hlangwane more or less centre in the distance. This is the view that some of the Boers in the trenches would have had as they waited for their enemy to advance. This is also where they would have been pounded and hammered by British artillery which attempted to soften the Boer defences before the attack. The Boers had a Maxim-Nordenfeldt "Pom-Pom" gun more more or less here.

Horseshoe-shaped sangars on the eastern summit of Hart's Hill on a photograph taken a few years after the war. It is clear that the summit offered very little by way of protection for advancing attackers.

Main Boer monument on the crest of Hart's Hill.

The original photo caption suggests that these were Boer trenches on the summit of Hart's Hill. The picture comes from a stereograph, which implies that the two nearly identical pictures were taken from a slightly different angle. When combined in a special viewer, it produced a three-dimentional effect.

A paperbark tree (called "Camel Thorn trees" in Boer accounts), which ahd been hit by a British lyddite shell.


The lonely graves of two fallen British officers near a pond on the eastern slope of Hart's Hill.

Same graves, but photo taken from a different angle.

The graves of Hart's Hill are at times kept in reasonably neat order. At other times, however, they are entirely obscured by tamboekie grass, which stands six feet or more tall.

Black and white photographs: The South African National Archives.