Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Francis Cantwell took over command of the Cape Mounted Rifles during the defence of Wepener and was Mentioned in Despatches by Colonel Dalgety: 'Captain Cantwell, Cape Mounted Rifles, who, after Major Sprenger was killed and Major Waring wounded, on the 9th and 11th respectively, commanded the Cape Mounted Rifles in the advanced schanzen' (Dalgety's Despatch dated 24.9.1900 in London Gazette 8.2.1901 refers). Cantwell was also mentioned in Lord Roberts' Despatch of 29.11.1900 (London Gazette 2.4.1901 refers), promoted Major in October 1900 and substantive Lieutenant-Colonel in November 1901. His biography appeared in Men of the Times, Cape Colony:
'Lieut.-Colonel Robert Francis Cantwell, Acting Commandant-General of the Colonial Forces, is one of those intrepid Irishmen who have played so prominent a part in the military history of the Colony. Born and educated in Queen's County, Ireland, he enlisted in the Inniskilling Dragoons at an early age, and served in that famous regiment before he sailed for South Africa in search of adventure and fortune. Landing in 1877, he joined the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police, a corps which was raised on the border to resist the encroachments of the natives, and to afford protection to the settlers. This body, after a period of hard work, was disbanded and re-organised as the Cape Mounted Rifles, which became the finest corps of light cavalry ever recruited in this country, and one which has as proud a history as any other colonial corps. Since its inception it has constantly been employed on active service, and has participated in every campaign of note. Colonel Cantwell on re-organisation of the regiment was transferred as a trooper, and served with distinction, rising gradually to his present position. Shortly after his arrival in the Colony the Gaika and Galeka War of 1877-78 broke out and he served throughout the campaign. In 1879 he was present at the capture of Morosi's Mountain, and in the following year he distinguished himself in the Basuto rebellion, for which he holds the medal [He was Regimental Sergeant-Major of the Cape Mounted Rifles during this campaign, promoted Lieutenant in 1881 and appointed Adjutant in 1884].
On the outbreak of the late Anglo-Boer War he was in command of the detachment of the Cape Mounted Rifles at Wepener and was Mentioned in Despatches. The gallant Colonel served throughout the rest of the campaign and on peace being declared was appointed Chief Staff Officer to General Sir E.Y. Brabant. On his retirement he was promoted to the rank of Staff Officer to the Peninsular Volunteers. During Colonel Lukin's absence he was appointed Acting Commandant of the Colonial Forces.
Colonel Cantwell has always been an ardent sportsman, and now that he has settled down at King William's Town he is an active supporter of many of the athletic clubs in the town. He is universally popular and has the reputation of being a thorough soldier.
Amongst the various medals gained by Colonel Cantwell are the following: South Africa Medal, 1877-8-9; General Service Medal, 1 clasp; Queen's Medal and 4 clasps, and King's Medal and 2 clasps, Anglo-Boer War; and the Coronation Medal, for representing the Cape Colonial Forces at the Coronation.'