By February 1900, Louis Botha’s Boer irregulars had repulsed three attempts by General Sir Redvers Buller to cross the Tugela and relieve the besieged town of Ladysmith. The humiliation of these defeats led to Buller’s replacement as British Commander-in-Chief by Lord Roberts. Now, Buller returned to the scene of his first humiliation, Colenso, and on 18 February, launched twin assaults to capture the Boer positions on Green Hill and Monte Cristo, forcing them to abandon Hlangwani and evacuate north of the river. Buller then occupied Colenso and had a pontoon bridge set across the river below Hlangwani, springing a second assault on 23 February, which was repulsed with heavy casualties. The pontoon was then moved north into a sheltering gorge, and on 27 February, with heavy supporting artillery fire, Railway Hill was stormed with bayonets, and the British swept the Boers from the ridge. By the following evening, Ladysmith had been relieved.
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