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Spion Kop, battle of

Spion Kop, battle of, 1900. A battle of the second Boer War (1899–1902), famous at the time for its slaughter. The battle arose from repeated British attempts to relieve the siege of Ladysmith. The highest point of the Tugela Heights, Spion Kop (‘Lookout Mountain’), is 1,470 feet high, and was defended by a Boer force of about 7,000 under Louis Botha. Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren ordered a night attack by 1,700 troops under Major-General E. R. P. Woodgate to capture the heights and dig in. As the fog lifted after dawn on 24 January the British found themselves in a position completely exposed to enemy fire. Amid much confusion some reinforcements were sent, until eventually 2,500 men held the position. After dark the British retreated, having lost about 250 dead including Woodgate, and 1,000 wounded. Boer casualties were about 300.

Stephen Badsey

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