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Enter (Again) Pretorius
Pretorius, who at this time had moved from Natal and settled in the Magaliesberg was drawn into the uproar over the annexation. Feelings between himself and Potgieter were strained - Potgieter seeing Pretorius as a sucker-up to the British who now wanted to strut about the highveld and Pretorius remembering Potgieter's performance in the VlugKommando.
Pretorius set about mustering support for kicking the British out of Bloemfontein and soon, he was able to move into the 'Sovereignty' at the head of a thousand men and quietly move the perplexed Warden over the Orange River. Sir Harry Smith's ego swung into action again.
After posting a reward of £1,000 for Pretorius' capture, Smith led a force of one thousand soldiers across the Orange River. Pretorius decided to face Smith with 750 Boers, strung out across the road to Bloemfontein near a deserted farm called Boomplaats.
The Battle of Boomplaats
Although it was an excellent defensive position, the Boers fired far too early and eventually were driven back in disarray by British horsemen. The rout continued through Bloemfontein, through Winburg and across the Vaal.
It seemed to the Voortrekkers now that not only had Natal been lost but also Southern Transorangia and that it was only a matter of time before the British annexed the Transvaal.
The defeat at Boomplaats had however had one beneficial effect and that was to infuse the Voortrekkers with some degree of unity, particularly because Africans living within the Transvaal were becoming increasingly hostile.
Warden, for his part was also troubled by border disputes along the Caledon River but more importantly, a change of attitude had rolled over Whitehall.