Anglo Boer War - Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve
Last Updated: August 2019
Contact Steve Turner-Smith
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P.O. Box 515, Graaff-Reinet, 6280, South Africa
- Longitude: 24.920811
- Latitude: -32.333005
About Anglo Boer War - Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve
September marks the 110th anniversary of the Battle of Paardefontein which took place in the hills of Mount Camdeboo, bringing an to the pursuit of Commandant Johannes Lotter, believed to be one of the last Boer rebels. No visit at Mount Camdeboo is complete without a visit to this battle site and stirring account of this remarkable story.
It is the stuff legends are made of. Deep in the Camdeboo Valley, at a farm once known as Paardefontein, which today forms part of the much larger Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve, Anglo-Boer War hero Hannes Lotter’s luck finally ran out.
The year was 1901 and Lotter, then only 26 and a former barman from Nieu-Bethesda, had established himself as one of the Boers’ toughest commando leaders. This bitter, ugly war was nearing its end and Lotter’s was the last commando yet to be captured by the British, who had heard whispers of their elusive enemy’s activities for many months, but had repeatedly failed to engage Lotter and his men. It was a half-starved band of men, some mere boys, who found shelter in a sheep kraal on the farm on the fateful night of September 5 1901. Their clothes were reduced to rages and their shoes so worn that many only had sheepskins on their feet. And they might well have remained safe had it not been for the worst kind of bad luck – or so we believe.
The 9th Lancers ’A’ Squadron, having got wind of Lotter and his rebels were hiding out on the farm, presumed they would be stationed at the old farmhouse. It being a dark and miserable night, they rode right past the kraal, totally unaware of Lotter and his men’s presence. Then, after everyone had passed, one of the solders at the back dropped his rifle. The Boers woke up with a start and, believing the man to be a scout, shot him on the spot. This alerted the rest of the squadron, and a shoot-out ensued. Hopelessly outnumbered, many of the Boers lost their lives and the rest were captured, while the English too recorded several fatalities. Some of the injured were treated at farms in the areas, including at Camdeboo Manor, today one of Mount Camdeboo’s magnificently restored farm houses.
Lotter was captured and later killed by firing squad in Middelburg, where he is buried. He is still regarded as something of a hero by many Afrikaners. Lotter’s story has been well documented by Taffy Shearing, who did her Master’s degree on the Anglo-Boer wars some years ago. Shearing and her husband wrote Commandant Johannes Lotter and his Rebels, which is part of their Cape Commando series, and still a popular purchase by visitors to Mount Camdeboo and also the Graaff-Reinet region.
Please note that tours to the gravesite are available to overnight guests only.
Map and Directions to Anglo Boer War - Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve
From Port Elizabeth, take the N2 to Cape Town, turn right onto the R75 and then right onto the R63. Continue for 5 km and then turn left onto the Petersburg dirt road. Pass through 4 security gates, the 4th is the entrance to the reserve. Continue for a further 2.5 km.
Also inquire about pre-arranged Helicopter Charters through Mount Camdeboo Reservations.
Our GPS co-ordinates are: S 32 20.01, E 24 55.27