THE 2nd Battalion sailed on the Mongolian about 21st October 1899, and
arrived at the Cape about 16th November. Along with the 2nd Black Watch,
1st Highland Light Infantry, and 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,
they formed the 3rd or Highland Brigade, first under Major-General Wauchope
and after his death under Brigadier-General Hector Macdonald. The work
of the brigade is dealt with under the 2nd Black Watch.
At Magersfontein (see 2nd Black Watch) the Seaforths saw their first
fighting in the campaign. The regiment was not so severely cut up in
the first outburst of fire as the Black Watch, but during the day its
losses became very heavy, 5 officers and 53 men being killed or mortally
wounded, 7 officers and 136 men wounded, and about 14 taken prisoners.
The battalion moved to the right of the Black Watch after the firing
began, and pushed very close to the trenches at the south-east of the
hill , indeed it is recorded by 'The Times' historian that a party of
the Seaforths actually got round to the east of the hill and ascended
it from the rear. They were driven down, partly by the fire of the British
guns, and were all either killed or wounded.
Three officers and 1 non-commissioned officer were mentioned in Lord
Methuen's despatch of 15th February 1900 for great gallantry.
At Koodosberg in the beginning of February the battalion lost 1 officer
and 3 men killed and 17 men wounded.
At Paardeberg (see 2nd Black Watch) the losses of the battalion were
again appalling, 2 officers and 50 men being killed or dying of wounds,
and 5 officers and 95 men wounded. Their advance that day, like that
of the Black Watch and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, commanded
the admiration of all onlookers, some companies of the Seaforths being
specially praised for the way in which they pushed down to the river,
crossed it, and worked up the right bank along with some of the Black
Watch. In Lord Roberts' despatch of 31st March 1900, 3 officers, 2 of
whom were killed, and 6 men were mentioned for their good work at Paardeberg.
During General Colvile's march from the Bloemfontein Waterworks to Heilbron
some very severe fighting fell to the lot of the Seaforths, and they
always earned the highest commendation of the divisional commander.
At Roodepoort, 28th May 1900, the battalion had to hold a position on
the right. “They were heavily attacked from the right rear by
a force which far outnumbered them," but "held their own all
Colonel Hughes-Hallett was wounded, and the Seaforths had another officer
and 15 men wounded.
In the operations round the Brandwater basin, when the Highland Brigade
was acting as part of Sir A. Hunter's army, the Seaforths again gained
the encomiums of the general. In his despatch of 4th August 1900 Sir
Archibald describes the taking of Retief's Nek with some detail. He
remarks that on 24th July he ordered General Macdonald to bring up the
Seaforths by a wide turning mcvement on the left of the Black Watch.
The movement was completed successfully, "the Seaforths advancing
with quiet gallantry and seizing the ridge."
When the enemy moved south or Bloemfontein three companies of the Seaforths
were sent, about 13th October 1900, to occupy Jagersfontem and Fauresmith.
Both places were attacked before daybreak on the 16th. At the former
place the Boers got into the town in the darkness, indeed into the camp,
but were driven out. The Seaforths, however, lost 12 killed and 1 officer
and 5 men wounded. A portion of the battalion had fighting in the Reddersburg
district, and moving south to the Rouxville Aliwal district, they operated
there for a considerable time.
Twelve officers and 21 non - commissioned officers and men were mentioned
in Lord Roberts' final despatch.
About the middle of February 1901 the battalion was taken to Victoria
West, the enemy being active in Western Cape Colony at that time.2
In the summer of 1901 the battalion furnished two companies as part
of the infantry of a column working in the Eastern Transvaal under Major-General
Beatson and General Bindon Blood.3
In March 1902 the battalion was employed to strengthen the railway line
north of Kroonstad during General Elliot's great drives against the
and shortly afterwards they were moved to Klerksdorp to strengthen the
columns in the Western Transvaal in the efforts which were made to clear
that district after the two mishaps to Lord Methuen's forces. The battalion
furnished a guard to the Boer generals during the peace deliberations.
By a strange mischance Lieutenant E. M. Sutherland was killed near Frederickstad
on 29th May, two days before the terms of peace were formally signed.
One officer and 1 private were mentioned by Lord Kitchener during the
war, and in the final despatch the names of 6 officers and 8 non-commissioned
officers were added.
General Colvile's ' Work of the IXth Division,' p. 192.
2 Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th March 1901.
3 Ibid., 8th July 1901.
Lord Kitchener's despatch of 8th April 1902.