In an effort to halt the Boer offensive of October1899, Lt. General George White undertook a night march on 30 October. Troops led by Colonel Carleton were ambushed and 800 Prisoners of War were taken at Nicholson's Nek. Encounters at Tchrengula and Modderspruit, also known as the Battle of Farquhars Farm, followed. The British were also defeated in this battle. As a result on the 31st White finally withdrew to Ladysmith. The Boers were led by General Louis Botha.
The Boers then proceeded to surround Ladysmith and 'cut' the railway link to Durban. This town was then besieged for 118 days.General White, in command of the British forces in Ladysmith, defended the town but soon the water supply was cut off. Shortage of food and water became acute, resulting in rapid deterioration of general health conditions. This caused many deaths, mainly as a result of enteric fever. Attacks from both sides, in bids to break through each other's lines, claimed the lives of many men. The siege was finally raised on 28 February1900 after the British forces under General Sir Redvers Buller succeeded in breaking through.
A siege is a military blockade and assault of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by force or attrition.
A siege tower could also be used: a substantial structure built as high, or higher than the walls, it allowed the attackers to fire down upon the defenders and also advance troops to the wall with less danger than using ladders.
Although siege warfare had moved out from an urban setting because city walls had become ineffective against modern weapons, trench warfare was nonetheless able to utilize many of the techniques of siege warfare in its prosecution (sapping, mining, barrage and, of course, attrition) but on a much larger scale and on a greatly extended front.
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