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Piet Scholtz - Skirmish at Jager's Drift 5 months 2 weeks ago #92610

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J.D. Opperman's report on the skirmish at Jagers Drift

I intended to contribute the attached document to the Generaal J.D. Opperman thread but, upon further research, I decided to make this a post dedicated to the lesser-known Boer War hero Kapitein Piet Scholtz. Reading about the exploits of this young man puts the current snowflake generation -wailing about the quality of the internet connection in an airplane or the gender indication on a public toilet door- into proper perspective. Piet Scholtz was just 21 when the war started. He joined the Vryheid commando as a burger but was promptly promoted by Generaal Emmet to the rank of Kapitein and put in charge of his own scouting corps (“Scholtz Verkenners Korps”). During his tenure, Scholtz was wounded a number of times, including a serious wound sustained at the battle of Graspan. The following report by General J.D. Opperman concerns the battle -referred to in the literature as “the skirmish at Jagersdrift”- which took place on October 1, 1900. It was Kapitein Scholtz’s initiative, against instructions from his superiors, to attack the British column with only 24 scouts (the literature mentions 16) which secured a swift Boer victory. Although briefly mentioned in van Zyl’s Die Helde Album, the details of this battle were hidden in Opperman’s report, written just 5 days after the battle and, to my knowledge, never published in full before. Salient fact, and probably the reason why Piet Scholtz remained largely under the Boer War researcher’s radar, is that the dapper man sadly died during that battle at Itala, less than a year later. Opperman himself didn’t even make it that far, he died from a headshot on January 4, 1901.

Generaal J.D. Opperman
Swazieland Laager, Scheepershoek Distr. Vryheid ZAR
6 October 1900

The Honorable Commissaris for Swazieland, Bellskop Lager

Sir, I have the honor to report about our operations and the positions of our commandos. The day I arrived at the honorable assistant General Chris Botha we took the decision to assemble 100 men from the various commandos and leave in the direction of Doornberg with a view to disrupt the enemy’s line of communication between Natal and Vryheid. We left on September 30 last with about 105 men drawn from various commandos, including 25 of the Swazieland commando. Early in the morning of the 1st of this month we came across a column of 33 enemy wagons on their way from Jagersdrift to Vryheid. We had split into two sections; Generaal Chris Botha and I, together with about 80 men, had moved in the direction of the farm of Mr. L. van Niekerk to the north of the road. Kapitein Scholtz went with 24 of the Vryheid Volunteers Corps in the direction of the farm owned by Mr. C. Human to spy and report to us as soon as the wagons left their lager at Rietspruit. However, Scholtz, fearing that the English spies would notice our presence in the neighborhood, decided to attack the column. As soon as the wagons reached Rietspruit we also had rushed forward. The enemy, engaged in battle with Scholtz and his men, noticed us when we came over a hill close by; the white flag went up and they surrendered. The whole battle lasted about 10 minutes. The enemy lost 8 killed (4 whites and 4 coloreds) 7 wounded and 32 taken prisoner. Nobody on our side was hurt. We made a magnificent loot of 33 wagons loaded with provisions and horse feed. We used 9 mule wagons to transport the booty and burned 18 goat carts and 5 mule wagons. We gave one mule wagon to the British to transport their wounded. In addition, we took 200 oxen, 135 mules over and above the harnessed mules, one “Hot Kiss” gun [Hotchkiss] with ammunition and about 30 or 40 horses. Since that day only 3 mule wagons have been spotted on the road between Vryheid and Dundee. We sent the prisoners back after they had been disarmed.
The current position of the commandos is as follows: Ward 3 and a part of Ward 4 of the Vryheid commando are positioned between Hlobane and Nyatiesberg, Ward 1 Vryheid is at Zoegiensnek. Swazieland Edward’s scouting corps and the Vryheid Volunteers are at Scheepershoek, Ward 1 and 2 Piet Retief is near Kambula, Ward 2 and a section of Ward 4 of the Vryheid commando is at Pervaan and from there it is the Utrecht command from the mountains (?) via Utrecht followed by the Wakkerstroom commando right up to Waterval.
Herewith I also acknowledge receipt of the funds that you sent with E.W. Krogh for which I herewith send you a duly signed proof.
I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant
Signed J.D. Opperman, acting assistant Kommandant Generaal.

Scheepershoek farm (Jeppe 375) is located some 35 miles South East of Vryheid. There are two farms with the name Waterval, one (Jeppe 85) on the east side of Hlobane Mountain and the other (214, not pictured here) west of Utrecht close to Laingsnek. Opperman referred to the latter. Bellskop is located on the Swazieland border approximately halfway between Amsterdam and Oshoek. Rietspruit farm I couldn’t locate but assume Opperman meant where the Dundee-Vryheid road crosses the small river. Egbert Willem Krogh was a member of the Swazieland commando and received the Lint voor Verwonden after the war.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Elmarie, Rory, RobCT, Neville_C, Moranthorse1, Sturgy

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