In Egypt, then concentrated the frontier field force at Firket, and attacked the main body of the enemy at Ginnis on the 30th of December 1885, completely defeating it and capturing two guns and twenty banners.
The spark was put to the powder by the action of the war minister, General Linares, in proposing to organize a new field force by calling out the Catalan reserves.
Botha meanwhile held his own in the northern Transvaal, both against forces from Pretoria, Middelburg and Lydenburg, and against the Rhodesian Field Force under Sir F.
From that day the role of the Natal Field Force was changed from that of a mobile field army into that of a garrison, and two days later it was completely isolated, but not before General French had succeeded in escaping south by train, and the naval authorities had been induced by Sir George White's urgent appeals to send into the town a naval brigade with a few guns of sufficient range and calibre to cope with the heavy position artillery which Joubert was now able to bring into action against the town.
The engagement was disastrous to the British, who had undertaken far too comprehensive an attack, and the Natal Field Force was obliged to fall back upon Ladysmith with the loss of 1500 men, including a large number of prisoners belonging to the left column under Lieut.-Colonel F.R.C. Carleton,who were cut off at Nicholson's Nek and forced to surrender by a mixed force of Transvaalers and Free Staters under Christian de Wet.
Exclusive of the garrison of Bayonne and other places, the available field force of Soult numbered about 41,000, while that of the Allies, deducting Hope's force observing Bayonne, was of much the same strength.
The same day the Natal Field Force under Buller moved up into the Biggarsberg and occupied Dundee.
On the 14th of November 1885 the British field force crossed the frontier, and advanced to Mandalay without incurring any serious resistance (see Burmese Wars).