Date: 12 October 1899 – 13 October 1899
Location: Kraaipan, Mafikeng, South Africa (26°17′49″S 25°18′23″E)
Result: Boer Victory
Belligerents: United Kingdom VS South African Republic and Orange Free State
The Battle of Kraaipan was the first engagement of the Second Anglo-Boer War, fought at Kraaipan, South Africa on 12 October 1899.
On 11 October 1899 President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic in alliance with the Orange Free State declared war on the British. That night 800 men of the Potchefstroom and Lichtenburg commandos under General Koos de la Rey (one of General Piet Cronjé's field generals) attacked and captured the British garrison and railway siding at Kraaipan between Vryburg and Mafikeng, some 60 kilometres (37 mi) south west of Mafikeng.
Oswald Frank and Neel Maartins, who slept in a cart next to the breach in the rail, only realised that the train was on its way when they heard the whistle. Someone gave the alarm and the Boers took up position on the left and the right of the rail.
At 22:45 Field-cornet Coetzee fired the first shot of the war. The other men immediately started shooting.
The armoured train, "Mosquito", carrying two 7-pounder cannons, rifles, ammunition and supplies was derailed and after a five-hour fight the British surrendered the next morning. The cannons, rifles, ammunition, supplies and prisoners were taken.
At the start of the war there were 22 104 British soldiers in South Africa or on their way to South Africa. Their ranks were supplemented by reinforcements from Britain, Natal, the Cape Colony, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Britain and the colonies of the British Empire had a collective army of 1 053 865 men in October 1899.
On the Boer side there were 54 667 able-bodied men between 16 and 60 years. 32 353 were from Transvaal and 22 314 from the Free State. They received support from Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, America, Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Montenegro and Switzerland.
Commanders and Leaders
- General Piet Cronje 1836 - 1911
- General Koos de la Rey 1847 - 1914
- Daniel Johannes Stephanus Theron 1872 - 1900
Troops under General Piet Cronje
Troops under General Koos de la Rey
- Jacobus Francois Joubert 1874 - 1979
Commanders and Leaders
Lieutenant RH Nesbitt