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The following are the General Orders issued by Lieutenant General Sir F. Clery KCB on the night of December 14th 1899, in his role as Commander of the South Natal Field Force.

The map accompanying Part 1 of this article is repeated below to assist visualisation of these Orders.


Map of the Colenso battlefield

Map showing the battlefield positions taken up by the British Army on

15 December 1899. 



14 December 1899 - 10 p.m


1. The enemy is entrenched in the Kopjes north of Colenso bridge. One large camp is reported to be near the Ladysmith Road, about five miles northwest of Colenso. Another large camp is reported in the hills which lie north of the Tugela river in a northerly direction from Hlangwane Hill.


2. It is the intention of the general officer Commanding to force the passage of the Tugela tomorrow.


3. The 5th Brigade will move from its present camping-ground at 4. 30am and march towards the bridle Drift, immediately were of the junction of Dornkop Spruit and the Tugela. The Brigade will cross at this point, and after crossing, move along the left  bank of the river towards the kopjes north of the iron bridge.


4. The 2nd Brigade will move from its present camping-ground at 4.0 am and passing south of the present camping-ground of No1 and No2 Divisional troops, will march in the direction of the iron bridge at Colenso. The brigade will cross at this point and gain possession of the kopjes north of the iron bridge.


5. The 4th brigade will advance at 4.30am to a point between Bridle Drift and the railway, so that it can support either the 5th os the 2nd Brigade.


6. The 6th brigade (less a half-battalion escort to baggage) will move at 4.0 am east of the railway in the direction of Hlangwane Hill to a position where he can project the right flank of the 2nd Brigade and, if necessary, support  it or the mounted troops referred to later as moving towards Hlangwane Hill.


7. The officer commanding mounted brigade will move at 4.0am, with a force of 1000 men and one battery of No1 Brigade Division, in the direction of Hlangwane Hill, whence he will enfilade the kopjes north of the iron bridge.


The officer commanding mounted troops will also detail two forces of 300 and 500 men to cover the right and left flanks respectively and protect the baggage.


8. The 2nd brigade Division, Royal Field Artillery, will move at 4.30am following the 4th Brigade, and will take up a position whence it can enfilade the kopjes north of the iron bridge. This Brigade will act on any orders it receives from Major-General Hart.

The six naval guns (two 4.7 inch and four 12-pounders) now in position north of the 4th brigade, will advance on the right of the 2nd Brigade Division, Royal Field Artillery.

No 1 Brigade Division, Royal Field Artillery (less on battery detached with mounted Brigade) will move at 3. 30 am east of the railway and proceed under cover of the 6th brigade to a point from which it can prepare the crossing for the 2nd Brigade.

The six naval guns now encamped with No2 Divisional troops, will accompany and act with this Brigade Division.


9. As soon as the troops mentioned in the preceding paragraphs have moved to their positions, the remaining units and the  baggage will be parked in deep formation, facing north, in five separate lines, in rear of today's artillery position, the right of each line resting on the railway, but leaving a space of 100 yards between the railway and the right flank of the line.


In 1st Line (counting from the right)

Ammunition Column No 1 Divisional Troops

6th Brigade Field Hospital

4th Brigade Field Hospital

Pontoon Troop, Royal Engineers

5th Brigade Field Hospital

2nd Brigade Field Hospital

Ammuntion Column No 2 Divisional Troops

In 2nd Line (counting from the right)

Baggage of the 6th Brigade

Baggage of the 4th Brigade

Baggage of the 2nd Brigade

In 3rd Line (counting from the right)

Baggage of the Mounted brigade

Baggage of No 1 Divisional Troops

Baggage of No. 2 Divisional Troops

In 4th and 5th Lines (counting from the right)

Supply columns in the same order as the baggage columns in second and third lines.

Lieutenant-Colonel I. Reeves, Royal Irish Fusiliers, will command the whole of the above details.

10. The position of the general Officer Commanding will be near the 4.7 inch guns.

The Commanding Royal Engineer will send two sections 17th Company Royal Engineers with the 5th Brigade and one section and headquarters with the 2nd Brigade.


11. Each infantry soldier will carry 150 rounds on his person, the ammunition now carried in the ox-wagons of regimental transport being distributed. Infantry great-coats will be carried in two ox-wagons of regimental transport, if brigadiers so wish; other stores will not be placed in these wagons.


12. The General Officer commanding 6th Brigade will detail a half-battalion as baggage guard. The two naval guns now in position immediately south of the divisional headquarter camp will move at 5.0 am to the position now occupied by the 4.7 inch guns.



B. Hamilton, Colonel

Assistant Adjutant General

South Natal Field Force


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