“Lord Roberts’ supply column cannot keep up with the infantry and is ordered to stay at Waterval Drift, 20 km south of Jacobsdal, and to follow the main force as soon as the oxen have recovered sufficiently. General Kelly-Kenny details about 500 troops to escort the convoy which stretches more than 10 to 12 kilometers.
As soon as the main force is out of sight, General De Wet attacks. His long-range shelling and rifle fire causes the draught animals to stampede and the escort commander realizes that there is now no way of preventing the wagons from falling into enemy hands. He retreats, abandoning the convoy.
De Wet takes 180 loaded wagons, about 2 800 oxen, a few horses and an enormous supply of food, as well as 58 prisoners. The loss of four days’ precious rations and almost a third of all the oxen brought together for the advance can jeopardize a massive operation in an inhospitable country, but Roberts is unfazed.”
“The Anglo-Boer War: A Chronicle” by Pieter G. Cloete.
“General Tobias Smuts, with a force of about 2600 men, and Lieutenant-Colonel S P E Trichardt with 11 field-guns are ordered to cover Chief Commandant De Wet’s secret expe¬dition to the Bloemfontein Waterworks near Sannaspost. Neither of them is familiar with the vicinity and they have to wait for guides before taking up their positions. Where they could have easily prevented it, the delay allows the British to cross the Modder River without opposition. In a desperate race for positions near Tafelkop, the burghers reach it first and the British cavalry is repulsed. They have to make a huge detour to work around the Boer flank while the infantry, supported by the artillery, occupy the enemy’s attention with assaults on their front.
General Chermside’s Scottish Borderers, convinced that the Boers have been cleared out by the overwhelming barrage, are rudely disillusioned when the burghers open up from invisible positions in their front and completely shocked when Trichardt’s shells land among them.
The British guns are pushed forward with every charge, but they remain inefficient in silencing either their counterparts or the enemy riflemen. On their flank Captain Danie Theron and seventeen of his scouts delay General Tucker’s vanguard, a unit of about 400 men, for most of the day – even taking the time to capture 100 oxen in the process. The action is inconclusive and General T Smuts returns to Brandfort when, at dusk, the British take heights west of the railway line and threaten their line of retreat.
The British lose 30 killed, 155 wounded and five missing in action. Boers lose three killed and 18 wounded.”
“The Anglo-Boer War: A Chronology” by Pieter G Cloete.
The battle was important, nonetheless, in opening the way for Roberts to resume his advance across the northern half of the Free State and on to the Transvaal.