THE HISTORY OF FORT SCHANSKOP

THE FORTIFICATION OF PRETORIA

After the unsuccessful Jameson raid in 1896, L. Grunberg, a former Frensh artillery officer, suggested to the government of the Zuid-Afrikaanseche Republiek that the defence system of Pretoria should be enhanced.

His suggestion was taken seriously, especially after a map of the ZAR with all the railway lines, roads and defence systems was found in possession for a British officer. Grunberg was responsible for the planning and building of Fort Daspoortrand while two German engineers, O.A. von Dewitz and H.H. Werner, were responsible for the planning of the other three forts, namely Fort Schanskop, Fort Wonderboompoort and Fort Klapperkop.

State President S.J.P. Kruger approved the plans on 16 March 1896 and a commission was appointed to supervise the erection process: they were Cmdt. Gen. P.J. Joubert, Lt.Col. H.P.N. Pretorius, Capt. P.E. Erasmus, Capt. F.J. Wolmarans, Lt. P.C. Paff and city engineer, E. Lutz.

BUILDING FORT SCHANSKOP

The German firm Krupp built Fort Schanskop, Fort Klapperkop and Fort Wonderboompoort. Fort Daspoort was built by the French firm Schneider, Gruberg and Leon.

SchanskopThe erection of Fort Schanskop by the contractor H.C. Werner commenced in May 1896. The labour force consisted of 400 white and black labourers who worked day and night. Even though the construction wasn’t completed, a lieutenant and 50 men could already man the fort in December 1896. Schanskop was strategically placed to guard against attacks, especially from the Johannesburg region. The fort was shaped in the form of a pentagon and had cannons placed on rotation platforms on the embankments to repel attacks from any direction.

Fort Schanskop was fficially handed over to the ZAR Government on 6 April 1897 and officially visited by President S.J.P. Kruger the next day.

ARMOURMENT AND COMMUNICATION

While the forts were still under construction the necessary artillery was ordered. Fort Schanskop possessed one 155mm Schnieder/Creusot siege cannon, also known as a Long Tom and tow 37mm Maxim-Noredenfelts or Pom-poms with 500 round of ammunition in 1899. The garrison consisted of one officer and 30 men from the Transvaal State Artillery. Initially, gunners from the Transvaal State Artillery occupied the forts, while a hundred new recruits were being trained in the use of garrison artillery.

Fort Schanskop was connected to the artillery camp in Pretoria by way of surface telegraph cables and was also linked telegraphically with Johannesburg. Communication between the forts took place by means of heliographs. One of the forts fortified bunkers was especially equipped for the Transvaal Field Telegraphy.

THE OCCUPATION OF PRETORIA

Lord Roberts invaded Pretoria on the 5th of June 1900 without resistance. Due to the earlier disarmament of the forts, not a single shot was fired from them to prevent the British from invading the city.

The first military train with a division of the state artillery left Pretoria for the Natal border on 28 September 1899. The division comprised of 60 men with 6 cannons, 8 ammunition wagons and 105 hourses. Later, on 11 October 1899, another 400 Artillerists under the command of Commandant-General Piet Joubert crossed the border to Natal.

The British forces bombarded the forts around Pretoria on 4 June 1900 and caused Havoc in the city. When the british forces finally nvaded the city, there was only one man in each fort to surrender. Fort Schanskop was disarmed due to the relocation of its Long Tom and the two Pom-poms to the Natal front. During the period of the British occupation the forts were the property of the crown and thoroughly manned and armed.

Reasearch: Estelle Pretorius
Voortrekker Monument Heritage Site
museum@voortrekkermon.org.za
Tel: 012 326 6770
Fax: 012 326 8374


DIE GESKIEDENIS VAN FORT SCHANSKOP

DIE FORTIFIKASIE VAN PRETORIA

Na die mislukte Jameson-inval van 1896 het L. Grunberg, ‘n voormalige Franse artillerie-offisier, by die regering van die Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek aanbeveel dat Pretoria met forte versterk moet word.

Sy aanbeveling is ter harte geneem, veral aangesien ‘n kaart met al die ZAR se toegangsroetes, spoorverbindings en verdelingsstellings in die besit van ‘n Britse offisier gevind is. Grunberg was verantwoordelik vir die beplanning en bou van Fort Daspoortrand en twee Duitse ingeniers, O.A. von Dewitz en H.C. Werner, het die planne vir drie ander forte opgestel, naamlik Fort Schanskop, Fort Klapperkop en Fort Wonderboompoort.

Staatspresident S.J.P. Kruger het die planne op 16 Maart 1896 goedgekeur en ‘n kommissie is benoem om toesig oor bouwerk te hou: kmdt.genl. P.J. Joubert, it.kol. H.P.N. Pretorius, kapt. P.E. Erasmus, kapt. F.J. Wolmarans, it. P.C. Paff en stadsingenieur E. Lutz.

FORT SCHANSKOP WORD GEBOU

Die Duitse firma Krupp het die drie forte van Schanskop, Klapperkop en Wonderboompoort gebou. Fort Daspoortrand is deur Franse firma Schneider, Grunberg en Leon gebou.

Schanskop-2In Mei 1896 het die kontrakteur H.C. Werner met die bouwerk aan die Fort Schanskop begin. Die arbeidsmarg het uit meer as 400 blankes en swartes bstaan wat dag en nag gewerk het. Dit verklaar da nook waarom die fort reeds in Desember 1896 beman kon word deur ‘n luitenant en bykans 50 maanskappe, al was die bouwerk nog nie heeltemal afgehandel nie.

Schanskop is strategies so geplaas dat veral aanvalle uit die rigting van Johannesburg daarvandaan afgeweer kon word. Hierdie vyfhoekige fort kon met geskud op daaiplatforms op die fortwalle ook aanvalle uit die ander rigtings afweer.

Fort Schanskop is amptelik op 6 April 1897 deur die regering van die Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek oorgeneem, en is die volgende dag deur president S.J.P. Kruger besoek.

BEWAPENING EN KOMMUNIKASIE

Terwyl die forte in aanbou was, is die nodige geskud bestel. Dit was bergartillerie, wat ‘n verstandige keuse was, want die kanonne sou later uitstekende diens op die oorlogsfront verrig. Vestinggeskut sous legs by die forte van nut kon wees.

In 1899 het Fort Schanskop oor een Schneider/Creusot 155mm beleeringskanon of Long Tom beskik en twee 37mm Maxim-Nordenfelts of Pom-poms met 500 rondtes ammunisie.

Die Garnisoen het uit ‘n offisier en 30 maanskappe van die Transvaalse Staatsartillerie bestaan. Voorlopig was dit gewone artilleriste wat die fort beman het, maar 100 artilleriste het spesiale opleiding in die hntering van vestingartillerie ontvang. Tog was die bemanning en geskud nooit werklik voldoende nie.

Fort Schanskop was d.m.v. bogrondse telegraafdrade met die artilleriekap in Pretoria verbind en ook telegrafies met Johannesburg. Die onderskeie forte kon heliografies met mekaar in verbinding tree. Een van die fort se kasematte (bombestande vertrek) was spesiaal vir die Transvaalse Veldtelegrafie ingerig.

DIE INNAME VAN PRETORIA

Lord Roberts het Pretoria op 5 Junie 1900 ingeneem, sonder dat enige teenstand ondervind is. Geen skoot is vanuit die forte op die Britse magte afgevuur nie, aangesien die forte reeds ontwapen was.

Die eerste millitere trein met ‘n afdeling van die Staatssartillerie het Pretoria reeds op 28 Septmeber 1899 verlaat en na die Natalse grens vertrek. Die afdeling het bestaan uit 60 manne met kanonne, 8 ammunisiewaens en 105 perde. Later, op 11 Oktober 1899, het ongeveer 400 Artilleriste onder bevel van commandant-generaal Piet Joubert, die Natalgrens oorgesteek.

Op 4 Junie 1900 het die Britse magte die hele middag lan die forte om Pretoria gebombardeer, wat konsternasie in die stad verrsaak het. Uiteindelik is net een man en elke fort aangetref om dit oor te gee. Fort Schanskop was ontwapen, aangesien die twee Maxims en die Long Tom intussen na die Natalse front verskuif is. Tydens die Britse besetting het die Brittedie forte as kroonbesit beskou en dit deeglik beman en bewapen.

Navorsing: Estelle Pretorius
Voortrekker Monument Heritage Site
museum@voortrekkermon.org.za
Tel: 012 326 6770
Fax: 012 326 8374

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