Sanna's Post - Background


In early 1900, the British army, in overwhelming strength, had occupied Bloemfontein, capital of the Orange Free State, and were preparing to drive north to Pretoria, capital of the Transvaal. Field Marshal Lord Roberts, commander in chief of the British forces, believed that with the capture of the capitals of both republics, the war would be all but over. While the Burghers of the South African Republic prepared to defend their capital, with little prospect of success, the Free State Boers, inspired by President Martinus Steyn, the spiritual heart of the Boer resistance, and Christiaan de Wet, their foremost field general, regrouped and prepared to continue the conflict through unconventional means. Their action at Sanna’s Post was the first large-scale use of guerrilla tactics in this conflict.

On 30 March 1900 a 2,000-man Boer force led by Christiaan De Wet advanced in the direction of Bloemfontein. Reconnaissance indicated the presence of a small garrison of British troops at Sanna’s Post, 23 miles east of Bloemfontein, which held Bloemfontein's water works. A British mounted force under Brigadier General Robert George Broadwood which had earlier attacked other Boer positions at Thaba 'Nchu, was withdrawing there. Broadwood's force consisted of Q and U Batteries of the Royal Horse Artillery, a composite regiment of the Household Cavalry, the 10th Hussars, the New Zealand and Burma Mounted Infantry, and Roberts's Horse and Rimington's Guides (which were light horse units raised from English-speaking South Africans). De Wet sent 1600 of his men under his brother Piet to attack Broadwood from the north, while he himself occupied Sanna's Post to intercept their retreat.

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