On 15 December 1899, General Buller advanced on the lines of defence that had been set up by General Louis Botha along the Thukela river. The purpose of this offensive was to relieve the besieged town of Ladysmith. The British forces advanced on three fronts. On the right flank towards Hlangwane hill, led by the Earl Douglas Hamilton, who was repulsed. On the left flank by major general hart, who was ambushed in a blind loop 7km upstream from Colenso with heavy causalities. In the centre by Colonel C.J. Long. The heavy guns were advanced into the bend in the river. They came under heavy fire and as a result were abandoned. Buller then ordered an attempt to retrieve these guns. Only 2 of the 12 were recovered. One of those who died trying to save these guns, was Lieutenant Freddy Roberts, son of Field Marshall, Lord Roberts. Altogether Buller lost more than 1 100 men at Colenso, while 8 Boers lost their lives and 30 were wounded.