Paardeberg, Battle of

The Battle of Paardeberg was the first major British success in the SOUTH AFRICAN WAR since "Black Week," 10-15 December 1899. Faced by a reorganized British offensive directed at their capitals, the Afrikaners made a stand at Paardeberg, a point on the Modder River some 130 km from Bloemfontein. Canada's 1st contingent fought first at Paardeberg Drift on 18 February 1900 where, after hours under fire in the scorching sun, they were ordered to make a suicidal assault. Their second engagement took place on February 27, 3 km from the Drift. The Canadians, attacking before dawn, faced withering Afrikaner rifle fire. Although the regiment was ordered to retreat, 2 companies from the Maritimes, who failed to hear or heed the order, maintained their position and returned the fire. Shortly thereafter Gen Piet Cronje and almost 4000 exhausted Afrikaners surrendered. The battle for Paardeberg cost Canada 31 men; another 92 were wounded.