Ladysmith, town, part and seat of Emnambithi-Ladysmith local municipality, KwaZulu-Natal prov., E South Africa. The town has railroad yards and food-processing, textile, and tire factories. It is the distribution center for the surrounding agricultural and coal-mining region. Ladysmith was founded in 1851 by Boers (Afrikaners) who had been persuaded by British governor Sir Harry Smith to remain in Natal rather than join the Trek to other areas. The town, named for Smith's wife, grew after a railroad to Durban was opened in 1886. During the South African War, Sir George White's British forces at Ladysmith were under siege by Boers from Nov., 1899, to Feb., 1900, when British reinforcements arrived. Nearby battlefields associated with the siege include Wagon Hill, Nicholson's Nek, and Spion Kop.