The general idea for the right attack on the following day was a movement by Bruce Hamilton, reinforced by the Brigade of Guards from Pole-Carew’s command in the centre. Diamond Hill was taken without much difficulty early in the afternoon, and the Donkerhoek plateau was cleared. A gap was now made in the Boer line, the commandos driven off making for the Donkerpoort ridge on the one side, or the Rhenosterfontein heights on the other. From three positions a double rain of bullets poured upon Bruce Hamilton on the plateau, until the heights were reached by De Lisle’s mounted infantry from Broadwood’s brigade. Bruce Hamilton’s right flank was thus relieved, but between him and the enemy clustering on the ridge intervened the impassable ravine of the Donkerpoort. Night was approaching and nothing more could be done.
On the left, French held his own but no more during the day, and Pole-Carew in the centre had no opportunity of going into action. The capture of the Rhenosterfontein heights occurred at an opportune moment and perhaps averted a disaster. At Delarey’s request Botha was on the point of sending reinforcements to the Boer right to enable it to drive away French and fall upon the weak British centre, when De Lisle’s success vitally changed the situation.
Next morning, June 13, the British Army found that it had won a victory without knowing it. The Boers had faded away during the night and had abandoned the strongest position which they had ever held in the Free State or the Transvaal. French and Ian Hamilton went in pursuit with no results. Delarey succeeded in circling round towards the Western Transvaal, Botha retired to the east. The casualties on the British side were 176; the Boers professed to have lost but four burghers killed and twenty wounded.
Lord Kitchener was away in the Free State, and the battle was fought under the usual restrictive conditions, that no operation likely to entail serious loss of life was to be undertaken: and the enemy found that the ordeal of combat was not very dreadful.
With the occupation of Pretoria, which was not virtually effected until Botha’s retreat from Diamond Hill, the ranging phase of Lord Roberts’ campaign was nearly at an end. At the two capitals and at other towns already occupied, he had places of arms, from which without wide divagations of large bodies of troops, he could hope soon to control and eventually to dominate the Republics.
To see to the long and lonely furrow which he had ploughed across the veld from the Orange to the Magaliesberg, and to prevent its being obliterated by the wayward and shifting sand of the desert, was the present task before him.
[Footnote 43: Plumer raided across the Limpopo into the Transvaal as far back as December, 1899, and Hunter occupied Christiana on May 15.]
The New Colony