During the Second Boer War British commander Lieutenant General Sir George White made Ladysmith his centre of operations for the protection of Natal against the Boer forces.
Starting on 29 October 1899 a number of short lived battles were fought for control of the town, but after suffering heavy casualties the British forces retreated to Ladysmith and the Boer forces did not make use of the opportunity to follow up the attack and take control of the town.
Whilst British forces under Lieutenant General Sir George White were regrouping in the town, Boer forces surrounded Ladysmith. The siege lasted 118 days, from 2 November 1899 to 28 February 1900, during the most crucial stage of the war. Approximately 3,000 British soldiers died during the siege.