The town was garrisoned by 25 men of Nesbitt’s Horse and a small Town Guard (white and coloured men). At dawn on 3 March 1901 Commandants Kritzinger and Lötter attacked and completely surprised the garrison.
22 men from Nesbitt’s Horse fled to Somerset East, leaving the Town Guard in badly positioned trenches and schanzes. They eventually surrendered and had to look on while the Boers helped themselves liberally to supplies (including liquor).
Two stores, whose owners were connected to the military, were completely looted.
In addition to 63 prisoners, the Boers took 80 horses, 60 rifles and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. 20 local men joined the Rebel commando.
Gorringe's Flying Column arrived in Pearston early on the 5th. He immediately instituted court-martial proceedings against the men of Nesbitt's Horse. Gorringe also arrested about 15 local citizens, mostly close relatives of those who had rebelled. They were suspected of having sympathized with or assisted the Boers.