1899 - General Yule starts the retirement from Dundee to Ladysmith.
1901 - Benson surprises Boer laager at Klippoortje.
The prognosis [about Yule's position at Dundee] was not good and one option kept recurring in his thoughts, that there was still a route, and only one, that would allow him to extricate his force, to escape the Boers and to add his not inconsiderable number of troops to the Ladysmith garrison and thereby bolster the overall defensive force in Natal. He would also have reflected on the fate of his cavalry who still had not returned from the previous day’s fight. These uncertainties, coupled with the lack of sleep, miserably cold and wet conditions and the anxiety of the command that had befallen him began to tell and pushed Yule to breaking point.
It was 18:00 and, twelve hours after the earlier decision, he was ready to send a messenger to White with his intention to retire on Ladysmith. Before it could be sent, he received a message from White in answer to his previous request for reinforcements. It said:
"I cannot reinforce you without sacrificing Ladysmith and the Colony behind. You must try and fall back on Ladysmith. I will do what I may to help you when nearer."
If Yule still had any doubts about retiring, White’s telegram banished them and he immediately made preparations to comply with White’s recommendation. If he was to retreat, what should he do with the base camp? It was still full of equipment and considerable supplies of ammunition and food. The decision to abandon the camp also meant leaving behind the wounded and necessitated keeping the plans from the remaining townspeople and Dundee Town Guard as the news would immediately be conveyed to the Boers, thus jeopardising the move. Not until the very last moment was the news passed to selected townspeople and it is not clear whether this was in the form of an invitation from the military or realisation of what was happening in the camp. It did result in several people from Dundee attaching themselves to the column with others following later when they learnt of the retreat.
1899 - From the diary of Trooper A J Crosby, Natal Carbineers
(same entry as the previous day)
In readiness to move off at a moment’s notice. Met Rev. Johnson of Zululand who had just arrived from home. Was only able to speak to him for a few minutes. He was returning to Durban to go home via Eshowe.