Still persevering he moved on to the Modder, where he was seriously opposed by De la Rey and P. A.
It was a long and wearing fight, in which the British lost 485 killed and wounded, and what was more serious, Lord Methuen (himself wounded) found that his force had exhausted its forward momentum, and that he would have to collect supplies and reinforcements on the Modder before fighting his next battle.
On the following day Lord Methuen delivered an attack upon Cronje's position between the Upper Modder river and the Kimberley road, a line of kopjes called Spytfontein and Magersfontein.
On the 3rd of February he ordered a demonstration against the right of the Boer position at Spytfontein-Magersfontein to cover the withdrawal of General French and the cavalry from before Colesberg, and the concentration of his army at Modder River, disregarding another set-back in Natal to Sir Redvers Buller, who had against his advice made a third attempt to relieve Ladysmith on the 5th of February, and failed to make good the purchase which he secured across the Tugela.
Lord Roberts's plan was first to concentrate to his left, taking every measure to induce the Boers to believe that the original scheme of invasion by the centre would now be resumed, and in this purpose he succeeded so well that his field army with the necessary transport for a cross-country march was assembled between the Orange and the Modder without serious mishap. Cronje at the new centre of gravity was not reinforced, all available Boers drawing down towards Colesberg.