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The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, , 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
and the two Boer Republics (the
South African Republic The South African Republic ( nl, Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, abbreviated ZAR; af, Suid-Afrikaanse Republiek), also known as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent Boer Republic in Southern Africa which existed from 1852 to 1902, when i ...
and the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat; af, Oranje-Vrystaat;) was an independent Boer sovereign republic under British suzerainty in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist after it was defeate ...
) over the Empire's influence in
Southern Africa Southern Africa is the southernmost subregion of the African continent, south of Congo Basin, the Congo and Tanzania. The physical location is the large part of Africa to the south of the extensive Congo River basin. Southern Africa is home to ...
from 1899 to 1902. Following the discovery of
gold Gold is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Au (from la, aurum) and atomic number 79. This makes it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. It is a Brightness, bright, slightly orange-yellow, dense, s ...
deposits in the Boer republics, there was a large influx of "foreigners", mostly British from the Cape Colony. They were not permitted to have a vote, and were regarded as "unwelcome visitors", invaders, and they protested to the British authorities in the Cape. Negotiations failed and, in the opening stages of the war, the
Boers Boers ( ; af, Boere ()) are the descendants of the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers Free Burghers (Dutch language, Dutch: ''Vrijburgher'', Afrikaans: ''Vryburger'') were early Europeans, European settlers at the Cape of Good Hope in the 18 ...
launched successful attacks against British outposts before being pushed back by imperial reinforcements. Though the British swiftly occupied the Boer republics, numerous Boers refused to accept defeat and engaged in
guerrilla warfare Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or Irregular military, irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, Raid (military), raids ...
. Eventually, British
scorched earth A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, military vehicles, transport v ...
policies, and the poor conditions suffered in concentration camps by Boer women and children who had been displaced by these policies, brought the remaining Boer guerillas to the negotiating table, ending the war. The conflict broke out in 1899 after the failure of the Bloemfontein Conference when Boer
irregulars Irregular military is any non-standard military component that is distinct from a country's national armed forces. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military orga ...
and
militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Old French ''armee'', itself derived from the Latin verb ''armāre'', meaning "to arm", and related to the Latin noun ''arma'', meaning "arms" or "weapons"), ground force or land force is a f ...
attacked colonial settlements in nearby British colonies. Starting in October 1899, the Boers placed Ladysmith,
Kimberley Kimberly or Kimberley may refer to: Places and historical events Australia * Kimberley (Western Australia) ** Roman Catholic Diocese of Kimberley * Kimberley Warm Springs, Tasmania * Kimberley, Tasmania a small town * County of Kimberley, a c ...
, and Mafeking under siege, and won a string of victories at Colenso, Magersfontein and Stormberg. In response to these developments, increased numbers of
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western ...
soldiers were brought to Southern Africa, and mounted largely unsuccessful attacks against the Boers. However, British military fortunes changed when their commanding officer, General Redvers Buller was replaced by Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, who relieved the three besieged cities and invaded the two Boer Republics in early 1900 at the head of a 180,000-strong expeditionary force. The Boers, aware they were unable to resist such a large force, chose to refrain from fighting
pitched battle A pitched battle or set-piece battle is a battle in which opposing forces each anticipate the setting of the battle, and each chooses to commit to it. Either side may have the option to disengage before the battle starts or shortly thereafter. A ...
s, allowing the British to occupy both republics and their capitals,
Pretoria Pretoria () is South Africa's administrative capital, serving as the seat of the Executive (government), executive branch of government, and as the host to all foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria straddles the Apies River and extends ...
and
Bloemfontein Bloemfontein, ( ; , "fountain of flowers") also known as Bloem, is one of South Africa's three capital cities and the capital of the Free State (province), Free State province. It serves as the country's judicial capital, along with legisla ...
. Boer politicians, including President of the South African Republic
Paul Kruger Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (; 10 October 1825 – 14 July 1904) was a South African politician. He was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South African Republic, South Africa, and President of the So ...
either fled the region or went into hiding; the British Empire officially annexed the two republics in 1900. In Britain, the Conservative ministry led by
Lord Salisbury Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom three times for a ...
attempted to capitalise on British military successes by calling an early general election, which was dubbed by contemporary observers a "
khaki election In Westminster system, Westminster systems of government, a khaki election is any national election which is heavily influenced by wartime or postwar sentiment. In the 1900 United Kingdom general election, British general election of 1900, the Co ...
". However, numerous Boer fighters took to the hills and launched a guerrilla campaign against the British occupational forces, becoming known as ''
bittereinder The ''Bittereinders'' () or irreconcilables were a faction of Boer guerrilla fighters, resisting the forces of the British Empire in the later stages of the Second Boer War (1899–1902). By September 1900, the conventional forces of the Sou ...
s''. Led by prominent generals such as
Louis Botha Louis Botha (; 27 September 1862 – 27 August 1919) was a South African politician who was the first Prime Minister of South Africa, prime minister of the Union of South Africa – the forerunner of the modern South African state. A Boer war h ...
,
Jan Smuts Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, (24 May 1870 11 September 1950) was a South African statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various military and cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of South Africa, prime m ...
, Christiaan de Wet, and
Koos de la Rey Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey (22 October 1847 – 15 September 1914), better known as Koos de la Rey, was a South African military officer who served as a Boer general during the Second Boer War. also had a political career and was one of the l ...
, Boer guerrillas launched a campaign of hit-and-run attacks and
ambush An ambush is a long-established military tactics, military tactic in which a combatant uses an advantage of concealment or the element of surprise to attack unsuspecting enemy combatants from concealed positions, such as among dense underbru ...
es against the British, which would continue for two years. The Boer guerrilla campaign proved difficult for the British to defeat, due in part to British unfamiliarity with guerrilla tactics and extensive support for the guerrillas among the civilian population in the Boer Republics. In response to continued failures to defeat the Boer guerillas, British high command ordered several
scorched earth A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, military vehicles, transport v ...
policies to be implemented as part of a large scale and multi-pronged
counterinsurgency Counterinsurgency (COIN) is "the totality of actions aimed at defeating irregular military, irregular forces". The Oxford English Dictionary defines counterinsurgency as any "military or political action taken against the activities of guerril ...
campaign; a complex network of nets,
blockhouse A blockhouse is a small fortification, usually consisting of one or more rooms with Loophole (firearm), loopholes, allowing its defenders to fire in various directions. It is usually an isolated fort in the form of a single building, serving ...
s, strongpoints and
barbed wire file:Barbed Wire 1.JPG, A close-up view of a barbed wire file:Barbed Wire Roll.jpg, Roll of modern agricultural barbed wire Barbed wire, also known as barb wire, is a type of steel fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at ...
fences was constructed, virtually partitioning the occupied republics. British troops committed several war crimes and were ordered to destroy farms and slaughter livestock to deny them to Boer guerillas. Over a hundred thousand Boer civilians (mostly women and children) were forcibly relocated into
concentration camps Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without Criminal charge, charges or Indictment, intent to file charges. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects ...
, where 26,000 died of various causes, mostly starvation and disease. Black Africans in the same areas were also interned in concentration camps as well to prevent them from supplying the Boers; 20,000 died in the camps as well, largely due to the same causes as in the case of their Boer counterparts. In addition to these scorched earth policies, British
mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry who rode horses instead of marching. The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry. According to the 1911 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', "Mounted rifles are half cavalry, mounted infantry merely specially mo ...
units were deployed to track down and engage individual Boer guerilla units; by this stage of the war, all battles being fought were small-scale skirmishes. Few combatants on either side were killed in action, with most casualties coming via disease. Lord Kitchener began to offer generous terms of surrender to remaining Boer leaders in an effort to bring an end to the conflict. Eager to ensure their fellow Boers were released from the concentration camps, the majority of Boer commanders accepted the British terms in the
Treaty of Vereeniging The Treaty of Vereeniging was a peace treaty, signed on 31 May 1902, that ended the Second Boer War between the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, on the one side, and the United Kingdom on the other. This settlement provid ...
, formally surrendering in May 1902. The former republics were transformed into the British colonies of the Transvaal and
Orange River The Orange River (from Afrikaans/Dutch language, Dutch: ''Oranjerivier'') is a river in Southern Africa. It is the longest river in South Africa. With a total length of , the Orange River Basin extends from Lesotho into South Africa and Nami ...
, and in 1910 were merged with the Natal and Cape Colonies to form the
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day South Africa, Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Briti ...
, a
self-governing __NOTOC__ Self-governance, self-government, or self-rule is the ability of a person or group to exercise all necessary functions of regulation without intervention from an external authority (sociology), authority. It may refer to personal co ...
dominion The term ''Dominion'' is used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was first accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland, Newfoundland, Un ...
within the British Empire. British expeditionary efforts were aided significantly by colonial forces from the Cape Colony, the Natal,
Rhodesia Rhodesia (, ), officially from 1970 the Republic of Rhodesia, was an unrecognised state in Southern Africa from 1965 to 1979, equivalent in territory to modern Zimbabwe. Rhodesia was the ''de facto'' Succession of states, successor state to th ...
, as well as large numbers of volunteers from the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
worldwide, particularly
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
,
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world ...
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
and
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
. Later in the war, Black African recruits contributed increasingly to the British war effort. International public opinion was generally sympathetic to the Boers and hostile to the British. Even within the United Kingdom, there existed significant opposition to the war. As a result, the Boer cause attracted thousands of volunteers from neutral countries all over the world, including the German Empire, United States, Russia and even some parts of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
such as Australia and Ireland. Many consider the Boer War as marking the beginning of the questioning of the British Empire's veneer of impenetrable global dominance; this is due to the war's surprisingly long duration and the unforeseen, discouraging losses suffered by the British fighting the "cobbled-together army" of Boers.


Overview

The war had three phases. In the first phase, the Boers mounted preemptive strikes into British-held territory in Natal and the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope, which existed from 1795 to 1802, and again from 1806 to 1910, when i ...
, besieging the British garrisons of Ladysmith, Mafeking, and
Kimberley Kimberly or Kimberley may refer to: Places and historical events Australia * Kimberley (Western Australia) ** Roman Catholic Diocese of Kimberley * Kimberley Warm Springs, Tasmania * Kimberley, Tasmania a small town * County of Kimberley, a c ...
. The Boers then won a series of tactical victories at Stormberg, Magersfontein, Colenso and Spion Kop. In the second phase, after the number of British troops greatly increased under the command of Lord Roberts, the British launched another offensive in 1900 to relieve the sieges, this time achieving success. After Natal and the Cape Colony were secure, the British army was able to invade the Transvaal, and the republic's capital,
Pretoria Pretoria () is South Africa's administrative capital, serving as the seat of the Executive (government), executive branch of government, and as the host to all foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria straddles the Apies River and extends ...
, was ultimately captured in June 1900. In the third and final phase, beginning in March 1900 and lasting a further two years, the Boers conducted a hard-fought guerrilla war, attacking British troop columns, telegraph sites, railways, and storage depots. To deny supplies to the Boer guerrillas, the British, now under the leadership of Lord Kitchener, adopted a
scorched earth A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, military vehicles, transport v ...
policy. They cleared vast areas, destroying Boer farms and moving the civilians into concentration camps. Some parts of the British press and British government expected the campaign to be over within months, and the protracted war gradually became less popular, especially after revelations about the conditions in the concentration camps (where as many as 26,000 Afrikaner women and children died of disease and malnutrition). The Boer forces finally surrendered on Saturday, 31 May 1902, with 54 of the 60 delegates from the Transvaal and Orange Free State voting to accept the terms of the peace treaty.< This was known as the
Treaty of Vereeniging The Treaty of Vereeniging was a peace treaty, signed on 31 May 1902, that ended the Second Boer War between the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, on the one side, and the United Kingdom on the other. This settlement provid ...
, and under its provisions, the two republics were absorbed into the British Empire, with the promise of self-government in the future. This promise was fulfilled with the creation of the
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day South Africa, Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Briti ...
in 1910. The war had a lasting effect on the region and on British domestic politics. For Britain, the Second Boer War was the longest, the most expensive (£211 million, £202 billion at 2014 prices), and the bloodiest conflict between 1815 and 1914, lasting three months longer and resulting in more British combat casualties (see sidebar above) than the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was fought from October 1853 to February 1856 between Russian Empire, Russia and an ultimately victorious alliance of the Ottoman Empire, Second French Empire, France, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Uni ...
(1853–1856). (Disease took a greater toll in the Crimean War, claiming 17,580 British.)


Name

The conflict is commonly referred to simply as “the Boer War” because the
First Boer War The First Boer War ( af, Eerste Vryheidsoorlog, literally "First Freedom War"), 1880–1881, also known as the First Anglo–Boer War, the Transvaal War or the Transvaal Rebellion, was fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881 betwee ...
(December 1880 to March 1881) was a much smaller conflict. ''
Boer Boers ( ; af, Boere ()) are the descendants of the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers of the eastern Cape Colony, Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. From 1652 to 1795, the Dutch East India Company controll ...
'' (meaning "farmer") is the common name for
Afrikaans Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language that evolved in the Dutch Cape Colony from the Dutch vernacular of Holland proper (i.e., the Hollandic dialect) used by Dutch, French, and German settlers and their slaves. Afrikaans gradually b ...
-speaking
white South African White South Africans generally refers to South Africans of Demographics of Europe, European descent. In Natural language, linguistic, cultural, and historical terms, they are generally divided into the Afrikaans-speaking descendants of the Dutc ...
s descended from the
Dutch East India Company The United East India Company ( nl, Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the VOC) was a chartered company established on the 20th March 1602 by the States General of the Netherlands amalgamating existing companies into the first joint-stock ...
's original settlers at the
Cape of Good Hope The Cape of Good Hope ( af, Kaap die Goeie Hoop ) ;''Kaap'' in isolation: pt, Cabo da Boa Esperança is a rocky headland on the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. A common misconception is that the Cape o ...
. Among some South Africans, it is known as the (Second) Anglo–Boer War. In
Afrikaans Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language that evolved in the Dutch Cape Colony from the Dutch vernacular of Holland proper (i.e., the Hollandic dialect) used by Dutch, French, and German settlers and their slaves. Afrikaans gradually b ...
, it may be called (in order of frequency) the ' ("Second Freedom War"), ' ("Second Boer War"), ("Anglo–Boer War") or ("English War"). In
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the ...
, it is officially called the
South African War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, , 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two Boer Republics (the South ...
. In fact, according to a 2011
BBC #REDIRECT BBC
Here i going to introduce about the best teacher of my life b BALAJI sir. He is the precious gift that I got befor 2yrs . How has helped and thought all the concept and made my success in the 10th board exam. ...
report, "most scholars prefer to call the war of 1899–1902 the South African War, thereby acknowledging that all South Africans, white and black, were affected by the war and that many were participants".


Origins

The origins of the war were complex and stemmed from more than a century of conflict between the Boers and Britain. Of immediate importance, however, was the question of who would control and benefit most from the very lucrative Witwatersrand gold mines discovered by Jan Bantjes in June 1884. The first European settlement in South Africa was founded at the
Cape of Good Hope The Cape of Good Hope ( af, Kaap die Goeie Hoop ) ;''Kaap'' in isolation: pt, Cabo da Boa Esperança is a rocky headland on the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. A common misconception is that the Cape o ...
in 1652, and thereafter administered as part of the
Dutch Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie) was a Dutch East India Company, Dutch United East India Company (VOC) colony in Southern Africa, centered on the Cape of Good Hope, from where it derived its name. The original colony and its successive states ...
. The Cape was governed by the Dutch East India Company, until its bankruptcy in the late 18th century, and was thereafter governed directly by the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
. As a result of political turmoil in the Netherlands, the British occupied the Cape three times during the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic Wars, Europe ...
, and the occupation became permanent after British forces defeated the Dutch at the
Battle of Blaauwberg The Battle of Blaauwberg, also known as the Battle of Cape Town, fought near Cape Town on Wednesday 8 January 1806, was a small but significant military engagement. After a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, British victory, peace wa ...
in 1806. At the time, the colony was home to about 26,000 colonists settled under Dutch rule.Entry: Cape Colony. ''Encyclopædia Britannica Volume 4 Part 2: Brain to Casting''. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 1933. James Louis Garvin, editor. A relative majority represented old Dutch families brought to the Cape during the late 17th and early 18th centuries; however, close to one-fourth of this demographic was of German origin and one-sixth of French
Huguenot The Huguenots ( , also , ) were a Religious denomination, religious group of French people, French Protestants who held to the Reformed, or Calvinist, tradition of Protestantism. The term, which may be derived from the name of a Swiss politica ...
descent.Colenbrander, Herman. (1902). Kessinger Publishing 2010. . Cleavages were likelier to occur along socio-economic rather than ethnic lines. Broadly speaking, the colonists included a number of distinct subgroups, including the
Boers Boers ( ; af, Boere ()) are the descendants of the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers Free Burghers (Dutch language, Dutch: ''Vrijburgher'', Afrikaans: ''Vryburger'') were early Europeans, European settlers at the Cape of Good Hope in the 18 ...
. The Boers were itinerant farmers who lived on the colony's frontiers, seeking better pastures for their livestock. Many were dissatisfied with aspects of British administration, in particular with Britain's abolition of slavery on 1 December 1834. Boers who needed forced labor to care for their farms properly would have been unable to collect compensation for their slaves. Between 1836 and 1852, many elected to migrate away from British rule in what became known as the
Great Trek The Great Trek ( af, Die Groot Trek; nl, De Grote Trek) was a Northward migration of Dutch-speaking settlers who travelled by wagon trains from the Cape Colony into the interior of modern South Africa from 1836 onwards, seeking to live beyon ...
. Around 15,000 trekking Boers departed the Cape Colony and followed the eastern coast towards Natal. After Britain annexed Natal in 1843, they journeyed farther northwards into South Africa's vast eastern interior. There, they established two independent Boer republics: the South African Republic (1852; also known as the Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State (1854). Britain recognised the two Boer republics in 1852 and 1854, but attempted British annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 led to the
First Boer War The First Boer War ( af, Eerste Vryheidsoorlog, literally "First Freedom War"), 1880–1881, also known as the First Anglo–Boer War, the Transvaal War or the Transvaal Rebellion, was fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881 betwee ...
in 18801881. After Britain suffered defeats, particularly at the
Battle of Majuba Hill The Battle of Majuba Hill on 27 February 1881 was the final and decisive battle of the First Boer War that was a resounding victory for the Boers. The British Major General Sir George Pomeroy Colley occupied the summit of the hill on the night ...
(1881), the independence of the two republics was restored, subject to certain conditions. However, relations remained uneasy. In 1866, diamonds were discovered at
Kimberley Kimberly or Kimberley may refer to: Places and historical events Australia * Kimberley (Western Australia) ** Roman Catholic Diocese of Kimberley * Kimberley Warm Springs, Tasmania * Kimberley, Tasmania a small town * County of Kimberley, a c ...
, prompting a
diamond rush A diamond rush is a period of feverish migration of workers to an area where diamonds were newly discovered. Major diamond rushes took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in South Africa and South-West Africa. Diamond rushes by chrono ...
and a massive influx of foreigners to the borders of the Orange Free State. Then, in June 1884, gold was discovered in the
Witwatersrand The Witwatersrand () (locally the Rand or, less commonly, the Reef) is a , north-facing Escarpment, scarp in South Africa. It consists of a hard, erosion-resistant quartzite metamorphic rock, over which several north-flowing rivers form waterfa ...
area of the
South African Republic The South African Republic ( nl, Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, abbreviated ZAR; af, Suid-Afrikaanse Republiek), also known as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent Boer Republic in Southern Africa which existed from 1852 to 1902, when i ...
by Jan Gerritze Bantjes. Gold made the Transvaal the richest nation in southern Africa; however, the country had neither the manpower nor the industrial base to develop the resource on its own. As a result, the Transvaal reluctantly acquiesced to the immigration of ''
uitlander Uitlander, Afrikaans for "foreigner" (lit. "outlander"), was a foreign (mainly British) migrant worker during the Witwatersrand Gold Rush in the independent South African Republic, Transvaal Republic following the discovery of gold in 1886. The l ...
s'' (foreigners), mainly English-speaking men from Britain, who came to the Boer region in search of fortune and employment. As a result, the number of in the Transvaal threatened to exceed the number of Boers, precipitating confrontations between the Boer settlers and the newer, non-Boer arrivals. Britain's expansionist ideas (notably propagated by
Cecil Rhodes Cecil John Rhodes (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was a British mining business magnate, magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, R ...
) as well as disputes over uitlander political and economic rights led to the failed
Jameson Raid The Jameson Raid (29 December 1895 – 2 January 1896) was a botched Raid (military), raid against the South African Republic (commonly known as the Transvaal) carried out by British colonial administrator Leander Starr Jameson, under the emplo ...
of 1895. Dr.
Leander Starr Jameson Sir Leander Starr Jameson, 1st Baronet, (9 February 1853 – 26 November 1917), was a British people, British colonial politician, who was best known for his involvement in the ill-fated Jameson Raid. Early life and family He was born on 9 Fe ...
, who led the raid, intended to encourage an uprising of the uitlanders in
Johannesburg Johannesburg ( , , ; Zulu language, Zulu and xh, eGoli ), colloquially known as Jozi, Joburg, or "The City of Gold", is the largest city in South Africa, classified as a Megacity#List of megacities, megacity, and is List of urban areas by p ...
. However, the uitlanders did not take up arms in support, and Transvaal government forces surrounded the column and captured Jameson's men before they could reach
Johannesburg Johannesburg ( , , ; Zulu language, Zulu and xh, eGoli ), colloquially known as Jozi, Joburg, or "The City of Gold", is the largest city in South Africa, classified as a Megacity#List of megacities, megacity, and is List of urban areas by p ...
. As tensions escalated, political manoeuvrings and negotiations attempted to reach compromise on the issues of uitlanders' rights within the South African Republic, control of the gold mining industry, and Britain's desire to incorporate the Transvaal and the Orange Free State into a federation under British control. Given the British origins of the majority of uitlanders and the ongoing influx of new uitlanders into Johannesburg, the Boers recognised that granting full voting rights to the uitlanders would eventually result in the loss of ethnic Boer control in the South African Republic. The June 1899 negotiations in Bloemfontein failed, and in September 1899 British Colonial Secretary
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then a Liberal Unionist after opposing home rule for Ireland, and eventually served as a leading New Imperialism, i ...
demanded full voting rights and representation for the uitlanders residing in the Transvaal.
Paul Kruger Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (; 10 October 1825 – 14 July 1904) was a South African politician. He was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South African Republic, South Africa, and President of the So ...
, the President of the South African Republic, issued an ultimatum on 9 October 1899, giving the British government 48 hours to withdraw all their troops from the borders of both the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, failing which the Transvaal, allied to the Orange Free State, would declare war on the
British government ga, Rialtas a Shoilse gd, Riaghaltas a Mhòrachd , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size = 220px , image2 = Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg , image_size2 = 180px , caption = Royal coat of arms of t ...
. (In fact, Kruger had ordered Commandos to the Natal border in early September, and Britain had only troops in garrison towns far from the border.) The British government rejected the South African Republic's ultimatum, and the South African Republic and
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat; af, Oranje-Vrystaat;) was an independent Boer sovereign republic under British suzerainty in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist after it was defeate ...
declared war on Britain.


Historical background

The southern part of the African continent was dominated in the 19th century by a set of struggles to create within it a single unified state. In 1868, Britain annexed Basutoland in the
Drakensberg The Drakensberg (Afrikaans: Drakensberge, Zulu language, Zulu: uKhahlambha, Sotho language, Sotho: Maluti) is the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, Southern Africa, Great Escarpment, which encloses the central South Africa#Geography, Sou ...
Mountains, following an appeal from
Moshoeshoe I Moshoeshoe I () ( – 11 March 1870) was the first king of Lesotho. He was the first son of Mokhachane, a minor Tribal chief, chief of the Bamokoteli lineage, a branch of the Koena tribe, Koena (crocodile) clan. In his youth, he helped his fat ...
, the king of the
Sotho people The Sotho () people, also known as the Basuto or Basotho (), are a Bantu people, Bantu nation native to Lesotho, southern Africa. They split into different ethnic groups over time, due to regional conflicts and colonialism, which resulted in t ...
, who sought British protection against the Boers. While the
Berlin Conference The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, also known as the Congo Conference (, ) or West Africa Conference (, ), regulated European colonisation and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism period and coincided with German Empire, Germany's su ...
of 1884–1885 sought to draw boundaries between the European powers' African possessions, it also set the stage for further scrambles. Britain attempted to annex first the South African Republic in 1880, and then, in 1899, both the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. In the 1880s, Bechuanaland (modern
Botswana Botswana (, ), officially the Republic of Botswana ( tn, Lefatshe la Botswana, label= Setswana, ), is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Botswana is topographically flat, with approximately 70 percent of its territory being the Kal ...
) became the object of a dispute between the Germans to the west, the Boers to the east, and Britain's
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope, which existed from 1795 to 1802, and again from 1806 to 1910, when i ...
to the south. Although Bechuanaland had no economic value, the " Missionaries Road" passed through it towards territory farther north. After the Germans annexed
Damaraland Damaraland was a name given to the north-central part of what later became Namibia, inhabited by the Damara (people), Damaras. It was bounded roughly by Ovamboland in the north, the Namib Desert in the west, the Kalahari Desert in the east, a ...
and Namaqualand (modern
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and ea ...
) in 1884, Britain annexed Bechuanaland in 1885. In the
First Boer War The First Boer War ( af, Eerste Vryheidsoorlog, literally "First Freedom War"), 1880–1881, also known as the First Anglo–Boer War, the Transvaal War or the Transvaal Rebellion, was fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881 betwee ...
of 1880–1881 the Boers of the Transvaal Republic proved skilful fighters in resisting Britain's attempt at annexation, causing a series of British defeats. The British government of
William Ewart Gladstone William Ewart Gladstone ( ; 29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a British statesman and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician. In a career lasting over 60 years, he served for 12 years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, spread ...
was unwilling to become mired in a distant war, requiring substantial troop reinforcement and expense, for what was perceived at the time to be a minimal return. An armistice ended the war, and subsequently a peace treaty was signed with the Transvaal President
Paul Kruger Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (; 10 October 1825 – 14 July 1904) was a South African politician. He was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South African Republic, South Africa, and President of the So ...
. In 1886, British imperial interests were ignited by the discovery of what would prove to be the world's largest deposit of gold-bearing ore at an outcrop on a large ridge some south of the Boer capital at
Pretoria Pretoria () is South Africa's administrative capital, serving as the seat of the Executive (government), executive branch of government, and as the host to all foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria straddles the Apies River and extends ...
. The ridge was known locally as the "
Witwatersrand The Witwatersrand () (locally the Rand or, less commonly, the Reef) is a , north-facing Escarpment, scarp in South Africa. It consists of a hard, erosion-resistant quartzite metamorphic rock, over which several north-flowing rivers form waterfa ...
" (white water ridge, a watershed). A
gold rush A gold rush or gold fever is a discovery of gold—sometimes accompanied by other precious metals and rare-earth minerals—that brings an onrush of miners seeking their fortune. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, New Ze ...
to the Transvaal brought thousands of British and other prospectors and settlers from around the globe and over the border from the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope, which existed from 1795 to 1802, and again from 1806 to 1910, when i ...
, which had been under British control since 1806. The city of
Johannesburg Johannesburg ( , , ; Zulu language, Zulu and xh, eGoli ), colloquially known as Jozi, Joburg, or "The City of Gold", is the largest city in South Africa, classified as a Megacity#List of megacities, megacity, and is List of urban areas by p ...
sprang up nearly overnight as a shanty town. '' Uitlanders'' (foreigners, white outsiders) poured in and settled around the mines. The influx was so rapid that uitlanders quickly outnumbered the
Boer Boers ( ; af, Boere ()) are the descendants of the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers of the eastern Cape Colony, Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. From 1652 to 1795, the Dutch East India Company controll ...
s in Johannesburg and along the Rand, although they remained a minority in the Transvaal. The Boers, nervous and resentful of the uitlanders' growing presence, sought to contain their influence through requiring lengthy residential qualifying periods before voting rights could be obtained; by imposing taxes on the gold industry; and by introducing controls through licensing, tariffs and administrative requirements. Among the issues giving rise to tension between the Transvaal government on the one hand and the uitlanders and British interests on the other, were * Established uitlanders, including the mining magnates, wanted political, social, and economic control over their lives. These rights included a stable constitution, a fair franchise law, an independent judiciary and a better educational system. The Boers, for their part, recognised that the more concessions they made to the uitlanders the greater the likelihood—with approximately 30,000 white male Boer voters and potentially 60,000 white male uitlanders—that their independent control of the Transvaal would be lost and the territory absorbed into the British Empire. * The uitlanders resented the taxes levied by the Transvaal government, particularly when this money was not spent on Johannesburg or uitlander interests, but diverted to projects elsewhere in the Transvaal. For example, as the gold-bearing ore sloped away from the outcrop underground to the south, more and more blasting was necessary to extract it, and mines consumed vast quantities of explosives. A box of dynamite costing five pounds included five shillings tax. Not only was this tax perceived as exorbitant, but British interests were offended when President
Paul Kruger Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (; 10 October 1825 – 14 July 1904) was a South African politician. He was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South African Republic, South Africa, and President of the So ...
gave monopoly rights for the manufacture of the explosive to a non-British branch of the Nobel company, which infuriated Britain. The so-called "dynamite monopoly" became a
casus belli A (; ) is an act or an event that either provokes or is used to justify a war. A ''casus belli'' involves direct offenses or threats against the nation declaring the war, whereas a ' involves offenses or threats against its ally—usually one ...
. British imperial interests were alarmed when in 1894–1895 Kruger proposed building a railway through
Portuguese East Africa Portuguese Mozambique ( pt, Moçambique) or Portuguese East Africa (''África Oriental Portuguesa'') were the common terms by which Mozambique Mozambique (), officially the Republic of Mozambique ( pt, Moçambique or , ; ny, Mozambiki; s ...
to Delagoa Bay, bypassing British-controlled ports in Natal and Cape Town and avoiding British tariffs. At the time, the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony was
Cecil Rhodes Cecil John Rhodes (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was a British mining business magnate, magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, R ...
, a man driven by a vision of a British-controlled Africa extending from the Cape to Cairo. Certain self-appointed ''uitlanders representatives and British mine owners became increasingly frustrated and angered by their dealings with the Transvaal government. A Reform Committee (Transvaal) was formed to represent the uitlanders.


Jameson Raid

In 1895, a plan to take
Johannesburg Johannesburg ( , , ; Zulu language, Zulu and xh, eGoli ), colloquially known as Jozi, Joburg, or "The City of Gold", is the largest city in South Africa, classified as a Megacity#List of megacities, megacity, and is List of urban areas by p ...
and end the control of the Transvaal government was hatched with the connivance of the Cape Prime Minister
Cecil Rhodes Cecil John Rhodes (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was a British mining business magnate, magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, R ...
and Johannesburg gold magnate
Alfred Beit Alfred Beit (15 February 1853 – 16 July 1906) was a Anglo-German gold and diamond magnate in South Africa, and a major donor and Profiteering (business), profiteer of infrastructure development on the African continent. He also donated much ...
. A column of 600 armed men was led over the border from Bechuanaland towards Johannesburg by Dr
Leander Starr Jameson Sir Leander Starr Jameson, 1st Baronet, (9 February 1853 – 26 November 1917), was a British people, British colonial politician, who was best known for his involvement in the ill-fated Jameson Raid. Early life and family He was born on 9 Fe ...
, the Administrator in Rhodesia of the
British South Africa Company The British South Africa Company (BSAC or BSACo) was Chartered company, chartered in 1889 following the amalgamation of Cecil Rhodes' Central Search Association and the London-based Exploring Company Ltd, which had originally competed to capital ...
, of which Cecil Rhodes was the Chairman. The column, mainly made up of Rhodesian and Bechuanaland British South Africa Policemen, was equipped with Maxim machine guns and some artillery pieces. The plan was to make a three-day dash to Johannesburg and trigger an uprising by the primarily British expatriate uitlanders, organised by the Johannesburg Reform Committee, before the
Boer commando The Boer Commandos or "Kommandos" were volunteer military units of guerilla Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or Irregular military, irregu ...
s could mobilise. However, the Transvaal authorities had advance warning of the
Jameson Raid The Jameson Raid (29 December 1895 – 2 January 1896) was a botched Raid (military), raid against the South African Republic (commonly known as the Transvaal) carried out by British colonial administrator Leander Starr Jameson, under the emplo ...
and tracked it from the moment it crossed the border. Four days later, the weary and dispirited column was surrounded near
Krugersdorp Krugersdorp (Afrikaans Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language that evolved in the Dutch Cape Colony from the Dutch vernacular of Holland proper (i.e., the Hollandic dialect) used by Dutch, French, and German settlers and their slav ...
, within sight of Johannesburg. After a brief skirmish in which the column lost 65 killed and wounded—while the Boers lost but one man—Jameson's men surrendered and were arrested by the Boers. The botched raid had repercussions throughout southern Africa and in Europe. In Rhodesia, the departure of so many policemen enabled the Matabele and Mashona peoples' rising against the British South Africa Company. The rebellion, known as the
Second Matabele War The Second Matabele War, also known as the Matabeleland Rebellion or part of what is now known in Zimbabwe as the First ''Chimurenga'', was fought between 1896 and 1897 in the region later known as Southern Rhodesia, now modern-day Zimbabwe. ...
, was suppressed only at a great cost. A few days after the raid, the German Kaiser sent a telegram—known to history as “the Kruger telegram”—congratulating President Kruger and the government of the South African Republic on their success. When the text of this telegram was disclosed in the British press, it generated a storm of anti-German feeling. In the baggage of the raiding column, to the great embarrassment of Britain, the Boers found telegrams from Cecil Rhodes and the other plotters in Johannesburg. British Colonial Secretary
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then a Liberal Unionist after opposing home rule for Ireland, and eventually served as a leading New Imperialism, i ...
had approved Rhodes' plans to send armed assistance in the case of a Johannesburg uprising, but he quickly moved to condemn the raid. Rhodes was severely censured at the Cape inquiry and the London parliamentary inquiry and was forced to resign as Prime Minister of the Cape and as Chairman of the British South Africa Company, for having sponsored the failed ''coup d'état''. The Boer government handed their prisoners over to the British for trial. Jameson was tried in England, where the British press and London society, inflamed by anti-Boer and anti-German feeling and in a frenzy of jingoism, lionised him and treated him as a hero. Although sentenced to 15 months imprisonment (which he served in Holloway), Jameson was later rewarded by being named Prime Minister of the Cape Colony (1904–1908) and was ultimately anointed as one of the founders of the Union of South Africa. For conspiring with Jameson, the uitlander members of the Reform Committee (Transvaal) were tried in the Transvaal courts and found guilty of high treason. The four leaders were sentenced to death by hanging, but the next day this sentence was commuted to 15 years' imprisonment. In June 1896, the other members of the committee were released on payment of £2,000 each in fines, all of which were paid by Cecil Rhodes. One Reform Committee member, Frederick Gray, committed suicide while in Pretoria
gaol A prison, also known as a jail, gaol (dated, English language in England, standard English, Australian English, Australian, and Huron Historic Gaol, historically in Canada), penitentiary (American English and Canadian English), detention cen ...
, on 16 May. His death was a factor in softening the Transvaal government's attitude to the surviving prisoners. Jan C. Smuts wrote, in 1906,


Escalation

The Jameson Raid alienated many Cape Afrikaners from Britain and united the Transvaal Boers behind President Kruger and his government. It also had the effect of drawing the Transvaal and the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat; af, Oranje-Vrystaat;) was an independent Boer sovereign republic under British suzerainty in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist after it was defeate ...
(led by President
Martinus Theunis Steyn Martinus (or Marthinus) Theunis Steyn (; 2 October 1857 – 28 November 1916) was a South African lawyer, politician, and politician, statesman. He was the sixth and last president of the independent republic the Orange Free State from 1896 to ...
) together in opposition to perceived British imperialism. In 1897, the two republics concluded a military pact.


Arming the Boers

In earlier conflicts, the Boers' most common weapon was the British Westley Richards falling-block breech-loader. In his book ''The First Boer War'', Joseph Lehmann offers this comment: "Employing chiefly the very fine breech-loading Westley Richards – calibre 45; paper cartridge; percussion-cap replaced on the nipple manually—they made it exceedingly dangerous for the British to expose themselves on the skyline". President
Paul Kruger Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (; 10 October 1825 – 14 July 1904) was a South African politician. He was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South African Republic, South Africa, and President of the So ...
re-equipped the Transvaal army, importing 37,000 of the latest 7x57 mm
Mauser Model 1895 The Mauser Model 1895 is a bolt operated magazine fed rifle using the 7×57mm Mauser cartridge. It was exported to many overseas powers, including the Chilean Army, Chilean forces which adopted as the Fusil Mauser Chileno Mo 1895. It is the first ...
rifles supplied by Germany, and some 40 to 50 million rounds of ammunition. Some commandos used the Martini-Henry Mark III, because thousands of these had been purchased. Unfortunately, the large puff of white smoke after firing gave away the shooter's position. Roughly 7,000 Guedes 1885 rifles had also been purchased a few years earlier, and these were also used during the hostilities. As the war went on, some commandos relied on captured British rifles, such as the Lee-Metford and the Enfield. Indeed, when the ammunition for the Mausers ran out, the Boers relied primarily on the captured Lee-Metfords. Regardless of the rifle, few of the Boers used bayonets. The Boers also purchased the best modern European German Krupp artillery. By October 1899, the Transvaal State Artillery had 73 heavy guns, including four 155 mm Creusot fortress guns and 25 of the 37 mm Maxim Nordenfeldt guns. The Boers' Maxim, larger than the British Maxims, was a large calibre, belt-fed, water-cooled "auto cannon" that fired explosive rounds (smokeless ammunition) at 450 rounds per minute. It became known as the "Pom Pom". Aside from weaponry, the tactics used by the Boers were significant. As one modern source states, "Boer soldiers ... were adept at guerrilla warfare—something the British had difficulty countering". The Transvaal army was transformed: Approximately 25,000 men equipped with modern rifles and artillery could mobilise within two weeks. However, President Kruger's victory in the Jameson Raid incident did nothing to resolve the fundamental problem of finding a formula to conciliate the uitlanders, without surrendering the independence of the Transvaal.


British case for war

The failure to gain improved rights for uitlanders (notably the goldfields dynamite tax) became a pretext for war and a justification for a big military build-up in Cape Colony. The case for war was developed and espoused as far away as the Australian colonies. Cape Colony Governor Sir Alfred Milner; Cape Prime Minister
Cecil Rhodes Cecil John Rhodes (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was a British mining business magnate, magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, R ...
; Colonial Secretary
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then a Liberal Unionist after opposing home rule for Ireland, and eventually served as a leading New Imperialism, i ...
; and mining syndicate owners such as
Alfred Beit Alfred Beit (15 February 1853 – 16 July 1906) was a Anglo-German gold and diamond magnate in South Africa, and a major donor and Profiteering (business), profiteer of infrastructure development on the African continent. He also donated much ...
, Barney Barnato, and Lionel Phillips, favoured annexation of the Boer republics. Confident that the Boers would be quickly defeated, they planned and organised a short war, citing the uitlanders' grievances as the motivation for the conflict. In contrast, the influence of the war party within the British government was limited. UK Prime Minister,
Lord Salisbury Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom three times for a ...
, despised
jingoism Jingoism is nationalism in the form of aggressive and proactive foreign policy, such as a country's advocacy for the use of threats or actual force, as opposed to peaceful relations, in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national inter ...
and jingoists. He was also uncertain of the abilities of the British Army. Despite both his moral and practical reservations, Salisbury led the United Kingdom to war in order to preserve the British Empire's prestige, and feeling a sense of obligation to British South Africans. Salisbury also detested the Boers treatment of native Africans, referring to the London Convention of 1884, (following Britain's defeat in the first war), as an agreement "really in the interest of slavery". Salisbury was not alone in this concern.
Roger Casement Roger David Casement ( ga, Ruairí Dáithí Mac Easmainn; 1 September 1864 – 3 August 1916), known as Sir Roger Casement, Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, CMG, between 1911 and 1916, was a diplomat and Irish people, Irish I ...
, already well on the way to becoming an Irish Nationalist, was nevertheless happy to gather intelligence for the British against the Boers because of their cruelty to Africans. The British government went against the advice of its generals (including Wolseley) and declined to send substantial reinforcements to South Africa before war broke out. Secretary of State for War Lansdowne did not believe the Boers were preparing for war and that if Britain were to send large numbers of troops to the region it would strike too aggressive a posture and possibly derail a negotiated settlement—or even encourage a Boer attack.


Negotiations fail

President Steyn of the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat; af, Oranje-Vrystaat;) was an independent Boer sovereign republic under British suzerainty in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist after it was defeate ...
invited Milner and Kruger to attend a conference in
Bloemfontein Bloemfontein, ( ; , "fountain of flowers") also known as Bloem, is one of South Africa's three capital cities and the capital of the Free State (province), Free State province. It serves as the country's judicial capital, along with legisla ...
. The conference started on 30 May 1899, but negotiations quickly broke down, as Kruger had no intention of granting meaningful concessions, and Milner had no intention of accepting his normal delaying tactics.


Kruger's ultimatum and war

On the 9th of October 1899, after convincing the Orange Free State to join him and mobilising their forces, Kruger issued an ultimatum giving Britain 48 hours to withdraw all their troops from the border of Transvaal (despite the fact that the only regular British army troops anywhere near the border of either republic were 4 companies of the Loyal North Lancs, who had been deployed to defend
Kimberley Kimberly or Kimberley may refer to: Places and historical events Australia * Kimberley (Western Australia) ** Roman Catholic Diocese of Kimberley * Kimberley Warm Springs, Tasmania * Kimberley, Tasmania a small town * County of Kimberley, a c ...
). Otherwise, the Transvaal, allied with the Orange Free State, would declare war. News of the ultimatum reached London on the day it expired. Outrage and laughter were the main responses. The editor of the ''Times'' purportedly laughed out loud when he read it, saying 'an official document is seldom amusing and useful yet this was both'. ''The Times'' denounced the ultimatum as an 'extravagant farce' and ''The Globe'' denounced this 'trumpery little state'. Most editorials were similar to the ''Daily Telegraph's'', which declared: 'of course there can only be one answer to this grotesque challenge. Kruger has asked for war and war he must have!' Such views were far from those of the British government and from those in the army. To most sensible observers, army reform had been a matter of pressing concern since the 1870s, constantly put off because the British public did not want the expense of a larger, more professional army and because a large home army was not politically welcome.
Lord Salisbury Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom three times for a ...
, the Prime Minister, had to tell a surprised
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until Death and state funeral of Queen Victoria, her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 21 ...
that 'We have no army capable of meeting even a second-class Continental Power'.


First phase: The Boer offensive (October–December 1899)


British Army deployed

When war with the Boer republics was imminent in September 1899, a Field Force, referred to as the Army Corps (sometimes 1st Army Corps) was mobilised and sent to Cape Town. It was "about the equivalent of the I Army Corps of the existing mobilization scheme" and was placed under the command of Gen Sir
Redvers Buller General (United Kingdom), General Sir Redvers Henry Buller, (7 December 1839 – 2 June 1908) was a British Army officer and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to Bri ...
, GOC in C of
Aldershot Command Aldershot () is a town in Hampshire, England. It lies on heathland in the extreme northeast corner of the county, southwest of London. The area is administered by Rushmoor Borough Council. The town has a population of 37,131, while the Farnbo ...
. In South Africa the corps never operated as such and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd divisions were widely dispersed.


Boer organization and skills

War was declared on 11 October 1899 with a Boer offensive into the British-held Natal and Cape Colony areas. The Boers had about 33,000 soldiers, and decisively outnumbered the British, who could move only 13,000 troops to the front line. The Boers had no problems with mobilisation, since the fiercely independent Boers had no regular army units, apart from the ''Staatsartillerie'' (Dutch for 'State Artillery') of both republics. As with the First Boer War, since most of the Boers were members of civilian militias, none had adopted uniforms or insignia. Only the members of the ''Staatsartillerie'' wore light green uniforms. When danger loomed, all the ''burgers'' (citizens) in a district would form a military unit called a ''commando'' and would elect officers. A full-time official called a ''Veldkornet'' maintained muster rolls, but had no disciplinary powers. Each man brought his own weapon, usually a hunting rifle, and his own horse. Those who could not afford a gun were given one by the authorities. The Presidents of the Transvaal and Orange Free State simply signed decrees to concentrate within a week, and the Commandos could muster between 30,000 and 40,000 men. The average
Boer Boers ( ; af, Boere ()) are the descendants of the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers of the eastern Cape Colony, Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. From 1652 to 1795, the Dutch East India Company controll ...
nevertheless was not thirsty for war. Many did not look forward to fighting against fellow
Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...
and, by and large, fellow Christian Protestants. Many may have had an overly optimistic sense of what the war would involve, imagining that victory could be achieved as fast and easily as it had been in the First Anglo-Boer War. Many, including many generals, also had a sense that their cause was holy and just, and blessed by God. It rapidly became clear that the Boer forces presented the British forces with a severe tactical challenge. What the Boers presented was a mobile and innovative approach to warfare, drawing on their experiences from the First Boer War. The average Boers who made up their Commandos were farmers who had spent almost all their working life in the saddle, both as farmers and hunters. They depended on the pot, horse and rifle; they were also skilled stalkers and marksmen. As hunters, they had learned to fire from cover; from a
prone position Prone position () is a body position in which the person lies flat with the chest down and the back up. In anatomical terms of location, the dorsal side is up, and the ventral side is down. The supine position is the 180° contrast. Etymolog ...
and to make the first shot count, knowing that if they missed, the game would either be long gone or could charge and potentially kill them. At community gatherings, target shooting was a major sport; they practised shooting at targets, such as hens' eggs perched on posts away. They made expert
mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry who rode horses instead of marching. The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry. According to the 1911 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', "Mounted rifles are half cavalry, mounted infantry merely specially mo ...
, using every scrap of cover, from which they could pour in a destructive fire using modern, smokeless,
Mauser Mauser, originally Königlich Württembergische Gewehrfabrik ("Royal Württemberg Rifle Factory"), was a German arms manufacturer. Their line of bolt-action rifles and semi-automatic pistols has been produced since the 1870s for the German arme ...
rifles. In preparation for hostilities, the Boers had acquired around one hundred of the latest
Krupp The Krupp family (see #Pronunciation, pronunciation), a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, is notable for its production of steel, artillery, ammunition and other armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG (F ...
field guns, all horse-drawn and dispersed among the various Kommando groups and several
Le Creusot Le Creusot () is a Communes of France, commune and industrial town in the Saône-et-Loire Departments of France, department, Regions of France, region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, eastern France. The inhabitants are known as Creusotins. Formerl ...
" Long Tom" siege guns. The Boers' skill in adapting themselves to become first-rate artillerymen shows that they were a versatile adversary. The Transvaal also had an intelligence service that stretched across South Africa and of whose extent and efficiency the British were as yet unaware.


Boers besiege Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberley

The Boers struck first on 12 October at the Battle of Kraaipan, an attack that heralded the invasion of the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope, which existed from 1795 to 1802, and again from 1806 to 1910, when i ...
and
Colony of Natal The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on 4 May 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Natalia Republic, Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three o ...
between October 1899 and January 1900. With speed and surprise, the Boers drove quickly towards the British garrison at Ladysmith and the smaller ones at Mafeking and Kimberley. The quick Boer mobilisation resulted in early military successes against scattered British forces. Sir George Stuart White, commanding the British division at Ladysmith, unwisely allowed Major-General Penn Symons to throw a brigade forward to the coal-mining town of Dundee (also reported as Glencoe), which was surrounded by hills. This became the site of the first engagement of the war, the Battle of Talana Hill. Boer guns began shelling the British camp from the summit of Talana Hill at dawn on 20 October. Penn Symons immediately counter-attacked: His infantry drove the Boers from the hill, for the loss of 446 British casualties, including Penn Symons. Another Boer force occupied Elandslaagte, which lay between Ladysmith and Dundee. The British under Major General John French and Colonel Ian Hamilton attacked to clear the line of communications to Dundee. The resulting
Battle of Elandslaagte The Battle of Elandslaagte (21 October 1899) was a battle of the Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, , 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, w ...
was a clear-cut British tactical victory, but Sir George White feared that more Boers were about to attack his main position and so ordered a chaotic retreat from Elandslaagte, throwing away any advantage gained. The detachment from Dundee was compelled to make an exhausting cross-country retreat to rejoin White's main force. As Boers surrounded Ladysmith and opened fire on the town with siege guns, White ordered a major sortie against their positions. The result was a disaster, with 140 men killed and over 1,000 captured. The
Siege of Ladysmith The siege of Ladysmith was a protracted engagement in the Second Boer War, taking place between 2 November 1899 and 28 February 1900 at Ladysmith, Natal. Background As war with the Boer republics appeared likely in June 1899, the War Offi ...
began: It was to last several months. Meanwhile, to the north-west at Mafeking, on the border with Transvaal, Colonel
Robert Baden-Powell Lieutenant-general (United Kingdom), Lieutenant-General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, ( ; (Commonly pronounced by others as ) 22 February 1857 – 8 January 1941) was a British Army officer, writer, foun ...
had raised two regiments of local forces amounting to about 1,200 men in order to attack and create diversions if things went amiss further south. As a railway junction, Mafeking provided good supply facilities and was the obvious place for Baden-Powell to fortify in readiness for such attacks. However, instead of being the aggressor, Baden-Powell was forced to defend Mafeking when 6,000 Boer, commanded by Piet Cronjé, attempted a determined assault on the town. This quickly subsided into a desultory affair, with the Boers prepared to starve the stronghold into submission. So, on 13 October, the 217-day Siege of Mafeking began. Lastly, over to the south of Mafeking lay the diamond mining city of Kimberley, which was also subjected to a
siege A siege is a military blockade of a city, or fortress, with the intent of conquering by attrition warfare, attrition, or a well-prepared assault. This derives from la, sedere, lit=to sit. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity con ...
. Although not militarily significant, it nonetheless represented an enclave of British imperialism on the borders of the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat; af, Oranje-Vrystaat;) was an independent Boer sovereign republic under British suzerainty in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist after it was defeate ...
and was hence an important Boer objective. In early November, about 7,500 Boer began their siege, again content to starve the town into submission. Despite Boer shelling, the 40,000 inhabitants, of which only 5,000 were armed, were under little threat, because the town was well-stocked with provisions. The garrison was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kekewich, although
Cecil Rhodes Cecil John Rhodes (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was a British mining business magnate, magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, R ...
was also a prominent figure in the town's defences. Siege life took its toll on both the defending soldiers and the civilians in the cities of Mafeking, Ladysmith, and Kimberley as food began to grow scarce after a few weeks. In Mafeking, Sol Plaatje wrote, "I saw horseflesh for the first time being treated as a human foodstuff." The cities under siege also dealt with constant artillery bombardment, making the streets a dangerous place. Near the end of the siege of Kimberley, it was expected that the Boers would intensify their bombardment, so Rhodes displayed a notice encouraging people to go down into shafts of the Kimberley Mine for protection. The townspeople panicked, and people surged into the mine-shafts constantly for a 12-hour period. Although the bombardment never came, this did nothing to diminish the anxious civilians' distress. The most well-heeled of the townspeople, including Cecil Rhodes, sheltered in the Sanatorium, site of the present-day McGregor Museum; the poorer residents, notably the black population, did not have any shelter from shelling. In retrospect, the Boers' decision to commit themselves to sieges ('' Sitzkrieg'') was a mistake and one of the best illustrations of their lack of strategic vision. Historically, it had little in its favour. Of the seven sieges in the First Boer War, the Boers had prevailed in none. More importantly, it handed the initiative back to the British and allowed them time to recover, which they did. Generally speaking, throughout the campaign, the Boers were too defensive and passive, wasting the opportunities they had for victory. Yet that passiveness also testified to the fact that they had no desire to conquer British territory, but only to preserve their ability to rule in their own territory.


First British relief attempts

On the 31st October 1899, General Sir
Redvers Henry Buller General A general officer is an Officer (armed forces), officer of highest military ranks, high rank in the army, armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, and marines or naval infantry. In some usages the term "general offi ...
, a much respected commander, arrived in South Africa with the Army Corps, made up of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd divisions. Buller originally intended an offensive straight up the railway line leading from
Cape Town Cape Town ( af, Kaapstad; , xh, iKapa) is one of South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch ...
through
Bloemfontein Bloemfontein, ( ; , "fountain of flowers") also known as Bloem, is one of South Africa's three capital cities and the capital of the Free State (province), Free State province. It serves as the country's judicial capital, along with legisla ...
to
Pretoria Pretoria () is South Africa's administrative capital, serving as the seat of the Executive (government), executive branch of government, and as the host to all foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria straddles the Apies River and extends ...
. Finding on arrival that the British troops already in South Africa were under siege, he split his army corps into detachments to relieve the besieged garrisons. One division, led by Lieutenant General Lord Methuen, was to follow the Western Railway to the north and relieve Kimberley and Mafeking. A smaller force of about 3,000, led by Major General William Gatacre, was to push north towards the railway junction at Stormberg and secure the Cape Midlands District from Boer raids and local rebellions by Boer inhabitants. Buller led the major part of the army corps to relieve Ladysmith to the east. The initial results of this offensive were mixed, with Methuen winning several bloody skirmishes in the
Battle of Belmont The Battle of Belmont was fought on November 7, 1861 in Mississippi County, Missouri. It was the first combat test in the American Civil War The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 26, 1865; also known by Names of the Ame ...
on 23 November, the Battle of Graspan on 25 November, and at a larger engagement, the Battle of Modder River, on 28 November resulting in British losses of 71 dead and over 400 wounded. British commanders had been trained on the lessons of the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was fought from October 1853 to February 1856 between Russian Empire, Russia and an ultimately victorious alliance of the Ottoman Empire, Second French Empire, France, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Uni ...
and were adept at battalion and regimental set pieces, with columns manoeuvring in jungles, deserts and mountainous regions. What British generals failed to comprehend was the impact of destructive fire from trench positions and the mobility of cavalry raids. The British troops went to war with what would prove to be antiquated tactics—and in some cases antiquated weapons—against the mobile Boer forces with the destructive fire of their modern Mausers, the latest Krupp field guns and their novel tactics. The middle of December was disastrous for the British Army. In a period known as
Black Week Black Week refers to the week of 10–17 December 1899 during the Second Boer War, when the British Army suffered three devastating defeats by the Boer Republics at the battles of Battle of Stormberg, Stormberg, Battle of Magersfontein, Magersfon ...
(10–15 December 1899), the British suffered defeats on each of the three fronts. On 10 December, General Gatacre tried to recapture Stormberg railway junction about south of the
Orange River The Orange River (from Afrikaans/Dutch language, Dutch: ''Oranjerivier'') is a river in Southern Africa. It is the longest river in South Africa. With a total length of , the Orange River Basin extends from Lesotho into South Africa and Nami ...
. Gatacre's attack was marked by administrative and tactical blunders and the Battle of Stormberg ended in a British defeat, with 135 killed and wounded and two guns and over 600 troops captured. At the
Battle of Magersfontein The Battle of MagersfonteinSpelt incorrectly in various English texts as "Majersfontein", "Maaghersfontein" and "Maagersfontein". ( ) was fought on 11 December 1899, at Magersfontein, near Kimberley, Northern Cape, Kimberley, South Africa, on t ...
on 11 December, Methuen's 14,000 British troops attempted to capture a Boer position in a dawn attack to relieve Kimberley. This too turned into a disaster when the Highland Brigade became pinned down by accurate Boer fire. After suffering from intense heat and thirst for nine hours, they eventually broke in ill-disciplined retreat. The Boer commanders,
Koos de la Rey Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey (22 October 1847 – 15 September 1914), better known as Koos de la Rey, was a South African military officer who served as a Boer general during the Second Boer War. also had a political career and was one of the l ...
and Piet Cronjé, had ordered
trench A trench is a type of excavation or in the ground that is generally deeper than it is wide (as opposed to a wider gully, or ditch A ditch is a small to moderate divot created to channel water. A ditch can be used for drainage, to drain wa ...
es to be dug in an unconventional place to fool the British and to give their riflemen a greater firing range. The plan worked, and this tactic helped to write the doctrine of the supremacy of the defensive position, using modern small arms and trench fortifications. The British lost 120 killed and 690 wounded and were prevented from relieving Kimberley and Mafeking. A British soldier said of the defeat: The
nadir The nadir (, ; ar, نظير, naẓīr, counterpart) is the direction pointing directly ''below'' a particular location; that is, it is one of two vertical directions at a specified location, orthogonal to a horizontal flat surface. The direct ...
of
Black Week Black Week refers to the week of 10–17 December 1899 during the Second Boer War, when the British Army suffered three devastating defeats by the Boer Republics at the battles of Battle of Stormberg, Stormberg, Battle of Magersfontein, Magersfon ...
was the Battle of Colenso on 15 December, where 21,000 British troops, commanded by Buller, attempted to cross the
Tugela River The Tugela River ( zu, Thukela; af, Tugelarivier) is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. With a total length of , it is one of the most important rivers of the country. The river originates in Mont-aux-Sources of the Dra ...
to relieve Ladysmith, where 8,000 Transvaal Boers under the command of
Louis Botha Louis Botha (; 27 September 1862 – 27 August 1919) was a South African politician who was the first Prime Minister of South Africa, prime minister of the Union of South Africa – the forerunner of the modern South African state. A Boer war h ...
were waiting for them. Through a combination of artillery and accurate rifle fire and better use of the ground, the Boers repelled all British attempts to cross the river. After his first attacks failed, Buller broke off the battle and ordered a retreat, abandoning many wounded men, several isolated units and ten field guns to be captured by Botha's men. Buller's forces lost 145 men killed and 1,200 missing or wounded and the Boers suffered only 40 casualties, including 8 killed.


Second phase: The British offensive of January to September 1900

The British government took these defeats badly and with the sieges still continuing was compelled to send two more divisions plus large numbers of colonial volunteers. By January 1900 this would become the largest force Britain had ever sent overseas, amounting to some 180,000 men with further reinforcements being sought. While watching for these reinforcements, Buller made another bid to relieve Ladysmith by crossing the Tugela west of Colenso. Buller's subordinate, Major General
Charles Warren General (United Kingdom), General Sir Charles Warren, (7 February 1840 – 21 January 1927) was an officer in the British Royal Engineers. He was one of the earliest European archaeologists of the Biblical Holy Land, and particularly of the Te ...
, successfully crossed the river, but was then faced with a fresh defensive position centred on a prominent hill known as Spion Kop. In the resulting
Battle of Spion Kop The Battle of Spioen Kop ( nl, Slag bij Spionkop; af, Slag van Spioenkop) was a military engagement between British forces and two Boer Republics, the South African Republic The South African Republic ( nl, Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek ...
, British troops captured the summit by surprise during the early hours of 24 January 1900, but as the early morning fog lifted they realised too late that they were overlooked by Boer gun emplacements on the surrounding hills. The rest of the day resulted in a disaster caused by poor communication between Buller and his commanders. Between them they issued contradictory orders, on the one hand ordering men off the hill, while other officers ordered fresh reinforcements to defend it. The result was 350 men killed and nearly 1,000 wounded and a retreat across the Tugela River into British territory. There were nearly 300 Boer casualties. Buller attacked Louis Botha again on 5 February at Vaal Krantz and was again defeated. Buller withdrew early when it appeared that the British would be isolated in an exposed bridgehead across the Tugela, for which he was nicknamed "Sir Reverse" by some of his officers.


Buller replaced

By taking command in person in Natal, Buller had allowed the overall direction of the war to drift. Because of concerns about his performance and negative reports from the field, he was replaced as Commander in Chief by
Field Marshal Lord Roberts Field Marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually, it is the highest rank in an army and as such few persons are appointed to it. ...
. Roberts quickly assembled an entirely new team for headquarters staff and he chose military men from far and wide: Lord Kitchener (Chief of Staff) from the Sudan;
Frederick Russell Burnham Frederick Russell Burnham Distinguished Service Order, DSO (May 11, 1861 – September 1, 1947) was an American frontiersman, scout and world-traveling adventurer. He is known for his service to the British South Africa Company and to the Brit ...
(Chief of Scouts), the American scout, from the Klondike; George Henderson from the Staff College; Neville Bowles Chamberlain from Afghanistan; and William Nicholson (Military Secretary) from Calcutta. Like Buller, Roberts first intended to attack directly along the Cape Town–Pretoria railway but, again like Buller, was forced to relieve the beleaguered garrisons. Leaving Buller in command in Natal, Roberts massed his main force near the
Orange River The Orange River (from Afrikaans/Dutch language, Dutch: ''Oranjerivier'') is a river in Southern Africa. It is the longest river in South Africa. With a total length of , the Orange River Basin extends from Lesotho into South Africa and Nami ...
and along the Western Railway behind Methuen's force at the Modder River, and prepared to make a wide outflanking move to relieve Kimberley. Except in Natal, the war had stagnated. Other than a single attempt to storm Ladysmith, the Boers made no attempt to capture the besieged towns. In the Cape Midlands, the Boers did not exploit the British defeat at Stormberg, and were prevented from capturing the railway junction at
Colesberg Colesberg is a town with 17,354 inhabitants in the Northern Cape The Northern Cape is the largest and most sparsely populated Provinces of South Africa, province of South Africa. It was created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. ...
. In the dry summer, the grazing on the veld became parched, weakening the Boers' horses and draught oxen, and many Boer families joined their menfolk in the siege lines and ''laagers'' (encampments), fatally encumbering Cronjé's army.


Roberts relieves the sieges

Roberts launched his main attack on 10 February 1900 and although hampered by a long supply route, managed to outflank the Boers defending Magersfontein. On 14 February, a cavalry division under Major General John French launched a major attack to relieve Kimberley. Although encountering severe fire, a massed cavalry charge split the Boer defences on 15 February, opening the way for French to enter Kimberley that evening, ending its 124 days' siege. Meanwhile, Roberts pursued Piet Cronjé's 7,000-strong force, which had abandoned Magersfontein to head for Bloemfontein. General French's cavalry was ordered to assist in the pursuit by embarking on an epic drive towards Paardeberg where Cronjé was attempting to cross the Modder River. At the
Battle of Paardeberg The Battle of Paardeberg or Perdeberg ("Horse Mountain") was a major battle during the Second Anglo-Boer War. It was fought near ''Paardeberg Drift'' on the banks of the Modder River in the Orange Free State near Kimberley. Lord Methuen ...
from 18 to 27 February, Roberts then surrounded General Piet Cronjé's retreating Boer army. On 17 February, a pincer movement involving both French's cavalry and the main British force attempted to take the entrenched position, but the frontal attacks were uncoordinated and so were repulsed by the Boers. Finally, Roberts resorted to bombarding Cronjé into submission. It took ten days, and when the British troops used the polluted Modder River as water supply,
typhoid Typhoid fever, also known as typhoid, is a disease caused by ''Salmonella'' serotype Typhi bacteria. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, and usually begin six to 30 days after exposure. Often there is a gradual onset of a high fever over several d ...
killed many troops. General Cronjé was forced to surrender at Surrender Hill with 4,000 men. In Natal, the Battle of the Tugela Heights, which started on 14 February was Buller's fourth attempt to relieve Ladysmith. The losses Buller's troops had sustained convinced Buller to adopt Boer tactics "in the firing line—to advance in small rushes, covered by rifle fire from behind; to use the tactical support of artillery; and above all, to use the ground, making rock and earth work for them as it did for the enemy." Despite reinforcements his progress was painfully slow against stiff opposition. However, on 26 February, after much deliberation, Buller used all his forces in one all-out attack for the first time and at last succeeded in forcing a crossing of the Tugela to defeat Botha's outnumbered forces north of Colenso. After a siege lasting 118 days, the
Relief of Ladysmith When the Second Boer War broke out on 11 October 1899, the Boers had a numeric superiority within Southern Africa. They quickly invaded the British territory and laid siege to Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, Ladysmith, Kimberley, Northern Cape, Kimber ...
was effected, the day after Cronjé surrendered, but at a total cost of 7,000 British casualties. Buller's troops marched into Ladysmith on 28 February. After a succession of defeats, the Boers realised that against such overwhelming numbers of troops, they had little chance of defeating the British and so became demoralised. Roberts then advanced into the Orange Free State from the west, putting the Boers to flight at the Battle of Poplar Grove and capturing
Bloemfontein Bloemfontein, ( ; , "fountain of flowers") also known as Bloem, is one of South Africa's three capital cities and the capital of the Free State (province), Free State province. It serves as the country's judicial capital, along with legisla ...
, the capital, unopposed on 13 March with the Boer defenders escaping and scattering. Meanwhile, he detached a small force to relieve Baden-Powell. The
Relief of Mafeking The siege of Mafeking was a 217-day siege battle for the town of Mafeking (now called Mafikeng) in South Africa during the Second Boer War from October 1899 to May 1900. The siege received considerable attention as Lord Edward Cecil, the son of ...
on 18 May 1900 provoked riotous celebrations in Britain, the origin of the Edwardian slang word "mafficking". On 28 May, the Orange Free State was annexed and renamed the Orange River Colony.


Capture of Pretoria

After being forced to delay for several weeks at Bloemfontein by a shortage of supplies, an outbreak of typhoid at Paardeberg, and poor medical care, Roberts finally resumed his advance. He was forced to halt again at Kroonstad for 10 days, due once again to the collapse of his medical and supply systems, but finally captured Johannesburg on 31 May and the capital of the Transvaal,
Pretoria Pretoria () is South Africa's administrative capital, serving as the seat of the Executive (government), executive branch of government, and as the host to all foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria straddles the Apies River and extends ...
, on 5 June. The first into Pretoria was Lt. William Watson of the New South Wales Mounted Rifles, who persuaded the Boers to surrender the capital. Before the war, the Boers had constructed several forts south of Pretoria, but the artillery had been removed from the forts for use in the field, and in the event they abandoned Pretoria without a fight. Having won the principal cities, Roberts declared the war over on 3 September 1900; and the South African Republic was formally annexed. British observers believed the war to be all but over after the capture of the two capital cities. However, the Boers had earlier met at the temporary new capital of the Orange Free State,
Kroonstad Kroonstad (Afrikaans directly translated "Crown City") is the third largest city in the Free State (South African province), Free State (after Bloemfontein and Welkom) and lies two hours' drive on the N1 (South Africa), N1 from Gauteng. Maokeng ...
, and planned a guerrilla campaign to hit the British supply and communication lines. The first engagement of this new form of warfare was at Sanna's Post on 31 March where 1,500 Boers under the command of Christiaan de Wet attacked Bloemfontein's waterworks about east of the city, and ambushed a heavily escorted convoy, which caused 155 British casualties and the capture of seven guns, 117 wagons, and 428 British troops. After the fall of Pretoria, one of the last formal battles was at Diamond Hill on 11–12 June, where Roberts attempted to drive the remnants of the Boer field army under Botha beyond striking distance of Pretoria. Although Roberts drove the Boers from the hill, Botha did not regard it as a defeat, for he inflicted 162 casualties on the British while suffering only around 50 casualties.


Boers retreat

The set-piece period of the war now largely gave way to a mobile guerrilla war, but one final operation remained. President Kruger and what remained of the Transvaal government had retreated to eastern Transvaal. Roberts, joined by troops from Natal under Buller, advanced against them, and broke their last defensive position at Bergendal on 26 August. As Roberts and Buller followed up along the railway line to
Komatipoort Komatipoort is a town situated at the confluence of the Crocodile River (Mpumalanga), Crocodile and Komati Rivers in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. The town is 8 km from the Crocodile Bridge Gate into the Kruger Park, and just 5 km ...
, Kruger sought asylum in Portuguese East Africa (modern
Mozambique Mozambique (), officially the Republic of Mozambique ( pt, Moçambique or , ; ny, Mozambiki; sw, Msumbiji; ts, Muzambhiki), is a country located in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi ...
). Some dispirited Boers did likewise, and the British gathered up much war material. However, the core of the Boer fighters under Botha easily broke back through the
Drakensberg The Drakensberg (Afrikaans: Drakensberge, Zulu language, Zulu: uKhahlambha, Sotho language, Sotho: Maluti) is the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, Southern Africa, Great Escarpment, which encloses the central South Africa#Geography, Sou ...
Mountains into the Transvaal highveld after riding north through the bushveld. As Roberts's army occupied Pretoria, the Boer fighters in the Orange Free State retreated into the Brandwater Basin, a fertile area in the north-east of the Republic. This offered only temporary sanctuary, as the mountain passes leading to it could be occupied by the British, trapping the Boers. A force under General Archibald Hunter set out from Bloemfontein to achieve this in July 1900. The hard core of the Free State Boers under De Wet, accompanied by President Steyn, left the basin early. Those remaining fell into confusion and most failed to break out before Hunter trapped them. 4,500 Boers surrendered and much equipment was captured but as with Roberts's drive against Kruger at the same time, these losses were of relatively little consequence, as the hard core of the Boer armies and their most determined and active leaders remained at large. From the Basin, Christiaan de Wet headed west. Although hounded by British columns, he succeeded in crossing the Vaal into western Transvaal, to allow Steyn to travel to meet their leaders. There was much sympathy for the Boers on mainland Europe. In October, President Kruger and members of the Transvaal government left Portuguese East Africa on the Dutch warship '' De Gelderland'', sent by the Queen
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands Wilhelmina (; Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria; 31 August 1880 – 28 November 1962) was List of monarchs of the Netherlands, Queen of the Netherlands from 1890 until her abdication in 1948. She reigned for nearly 58 years, longer than any other D ...
. Paul Kruger's wife, however, was too ill to travel and remained in South Africa where she died on 20 July 1901 without seeing her husband again. President Kruger first went to Marseille and then on to the Netherlands, where he stayed for a while before moving finally to
Clarens, Switzerland Clarens-Montreux or Clarens is a neighborhood in the municipality of Montreux, in the canton of Vaud, in Switzerland. This neighborhood is the biggest and most populated of the city of Montreux. Clarens was made famous throughout Europe by the i ...
, where he died in exile on 14 July 1904.


Prisoners of war sent overseas

The first sizeable batch of Boer prisoners of war taken by the British consisted of those captured at the
Battle of Elandslaagte The Battle of Elandslaagte (21 October 1899) was a battle of the Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, , 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, w ...
on 21 October 1899. At first, many were put on ships, but as numbers grew, the British decided they did not want them kept locally. The capture of 400 POWs in February 1900 was a key event, which made the British realise they could not accommodate all POWs in South Africa. The British feared they could be freed by sympathetic locals. Moreover, they already had trouble supplying their own troops in South Africa, and did not want the added burden of sending supplies for the POWs. Britain therefore chose to send many POWs overseas. The first overseas (off African mainland) camps were opened in
Saint Helena Saint Helena () is a British overseas territory located in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is a remote volcanic tropical island west of the coast of south-western Africa, and east of Rio de Janeiro in South America. It is one of three constitu ...
, which ultimately received about 5,000 POWs. About 5,000 POWs were sent to
Ceylon Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...
. Other POWs were sent to
Bermuda ) , anthem = "God Save the King" , song_type = National song , song = "Hail to Bermuda" , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , mapsize2 = , map_caption2 = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = , es ...
and India. In all, nearly 26,000 POWs were sent overseas.


Oath of neutrality

On 15 March 1900, Lord Roberts proclaimed an amnesty for all burghers, except leaders, who took an oath of neutrality and returned quietly to their homes. It is estimated that between 12,000 and 14,000 burghers took this oath between March and June 1900.


Third phase: Guerrilla war (September 1900 – May 1902)

By September 1900, the British were nominally in control of both Republics, with the exception of the northern part of Transvaal. However, they soon discovered that they only controlled the territory their columns physically occupied. Despite the loss of their two capital cities and half of their army, the Boer commanders adopted
guerrilla warfare Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or Irregular military, irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, Raid (military), raids ...
tactics, primarily conducting raids against railways, resource and supply targets, all aimed at disrupting the operational capacity of the British Army. They avoided pitched battles and casualties were light. Each Boer commando unit was sent to the district from which its members had been recruited, which meant that they could rely on local support and personal knowledge of the terrain and the towns within the district thereby enabling them to live off the land. Their orders were simply to act against the British whenever possible. Their tactics were to strike fast and hard causing as much damage to the enemy as possible, and then to withdraw and vanish before enemy reinforcements could arrive. The vast distances of the Republics allowed the Boer commandos considerable freedom to move about and made it nearly impossible for the 250,000 British troops to control the territory effectively using columns alone. As soon as a British column left a town or district, British control of that area faded away. The Boer commandos were especially effective during the initial guerrilla phase of the war because Roberts had assumed that the war would end with the capture of the Boer capitals and the dispersal of the main Boer armies. Many British troops were therefore redeployed out of the area, and had been replaced by lower-quality contingents of
Imperial Yeomanry The Imperial Yeomanry was a volunteer mounted force of the British Army that mainly saw action during the Second Boer War. Created on 2 January 1900, the force was initially recruited from the middle classes and traditional yeomanry sources, but su ...
and locally raised irregular corps. From late May 1900, the first successes of the Boer guerrilla strategy were at Lindley (where 500 Yeomanry surrendered), and at Heilbron (where a large convoy and its escort were captured) and other skirmishes resulting in 1,500 British casualties in less than ten days. In December 1900, De la Rey and Christiaan Beyers attacked and mauled a British brigade at Nooitgedacht. As a result of these and other Boer successes, the British, led by Lord Kitchener, mounted three extensive searches for Christiaan de Wet, but without success. However, the very nature of the Boer guerrilla war and the Boer raids on British camps were sporadic, poorly planned, and had little overall long-term objective, with the exception to simply harass the British. This led to a disorganised pattern of scattered engagements between the British and the Boers throughout the region.


Use of Blockhouses

The British were forced to quickly revise their tactics. They concentrated on restricting the freedom of movement of the Boer commandos and depriving them of local support. The railway lines had provided vital lines of communication and supply, and as the British had advanced across South Africa, they had used
armoured train An armoured train is a railway train protected with vehicle armour, armour. Armoured trains usually include railway wagons armed with artillery, machine guns and autocannons. Some also had embrasures, slits used to fire small arms from the in ...
s and had established fortified
blockhouses A blockhouse is a small fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived fro ...
at key points. They now built additional blockhouses (each housing 6–8 soldiers) and fortified these to protect supply routes against Boer raiders. Eventually some 8,000 such blockhouses were built across the two South African republics, radiating from the larger towns along principal routes. Each blockhouse cost between £800 to £1,000 and took about three months to build. They proved very effective; not one bridge at which a blockhouse was sited and manned was blown. The blockhouse system required an enormous number of troops to garrison. Well over 50,000 British troops, or 50 battalions, were involved in blockhouse duty, greater than the approximately 30,000 Boers in the field during the guerrilla phase. In addition, up to 16,000 Africans were used both as armed guards and to patrol the line at night. The Army linked the blockhouses with barbed wire fences to parcel up the wide veld into smaller areas. "New Model" drives were mounted under which a continuous line of troops could sweep an area of veld bounded by blockhouse lines, unlike the earlier inefficient scouring of the countryside by scattered columns.


Scorched earth campaign against civilians

The British also implemented a "
scorched earth A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, military vehicles, transport v ...
" policy under which they targeted everything within the controlled areas that could give sustenance to the Boer guerrillas with a view to making it harder for the Boers to survive. As British troops swept the countryside, they systematically destroyed crops, burned homesteads and farms and interned Boer and African men, women, children and workers in concentration camps. Finally, the British also established their own mounted raiding columns in support of the sweeper columns. These were used to rapidly follow and relentlessly harass the Boers with a view to delaying them and cutting off escape, while the sweeper units caught up. Many of the 90 or so mobile columns formed by the British to participate in such drives were a mixture of British and colonial troops, but they also had a large minority of armed Africans. The total number of armed Africans serving with these columns has been estimated at approximately 20,000. The British Army also made use of Boer auxiliaries who had been persuaded to change sides and enlist as "National Scouts". Serving under the command of General Andries Cronjé, the National Scouts were despised as ''joiners'' but came to number a fifth of the fighting Afrikaners by the end of the War. The British utilised armoured trains throughout the war to deliver rapid reaction forces much more quickly to incidents (such as Boer attacks on blockhouses and columns) or to drop them off ahead of retreating Boer columns.


Peace committees

Among those Burghers who had stopped fighting, it was decided to form peace committees to persuade those who were still fighting to desist. In December 1900 Lord Kitchener gave permission that a central Burgher Peace Committee be inaugurated in Pretoria. By the end of 1900 some thirty envoys were sent out to the various districts to form local peace committees to persuade burghers to give up the fight. Previous leaders of the Boers, like Generals Piet de Wet and Andries Cronjé were involved in the organisation. Meyer de Kock was the only emissary of a peace committee to be convicted of high treason and executed by firing squad.


Joiners

Some burghers joined the British in their fight against the Boers. By the end of hostilities in May 1902, there were no fewer than 5,464 burghers working for the British.


Orange Free State

After having conferred with the Transvaal leaders, Christiaan de Wet returned to the Orange Free State, where he inspired a series of successful attacks and raids from the hitherto quiet western part of the country, though he suffered a rare defeat at Bothaville in November 1900. Many Boers who had earlier returned to their farms, sometimes giving formal parole to the British, took up arms again. In late January 1901, De Wet led a renewed invasion of
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope, which existed from 1795 to 1802, and again from 1806 to 1910, when i ...
. This was less successful, because there was no general uprising among the Cape Boers, and De Wet's men were hampered by bad weather and relentlessly pursued by British forces. They narrowly escaped across the
Orange River The Orange River (from Afrikaans/Dutch language, Dutch: ''Oranjerivier'') is a river in Southern Africa. It is the longest river in South Africa. With a total length of , the Orange River Basin extends from Lesotho into South Africa and Nami ...
. From then until the final days of the war, De Wet remained comparatively quiet, partly because the Orange Free State was effectively left desolate by British sweeps. In late 1901, De Wet overran an isolated British detachment at Groenkop, inflicting heavy casualties. This prompted Kitchener to launch the first of the "New Model" drives against him. De Wet escaped the first such drive, but lost 300 of his fighters. This was a severe loss, and a portent of further attrition, although the subsequent attempts to round up De Wet were badly handled, and De Wet's forces avoided capture.


Western Transvaal

The Boer commandos in the Western Transvaal were very active after September 1901. Several battles of importance were fought here between September 1901 and March 1902. At Moedwil on 30 September 1901 and again at Driefontein on 24 October, General
Koos De La Rey Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey (22 October 1847 – 15 September 1914), better known as Koos de la Rey, was a South African military officer who served as a Boer general during the Second Boer War. also had a political career and was one of the l ...
's forces attacked the British, but were forced to withdraw after the British offered strong resistance. A time of relative quiet descended thereafter on the western Transvaal. February 1902 saw the next major battle in that region. On 25 February,
Koos De La Rey Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey (22 October 1847 – 15 September 1914), better known as Koos de la Rey, was a South African military officer who served as a Boer general during the Second Boer War. also had a political career and was one of the l ...
attacked a British column under Lieutenant-Colonel S. B. von Donop at Ysterspruit near Wolmaransstad. De La Rey succeeded in capturing many men and a large amount of ammunition. The Boer attacks prompted Lord Methuen, the British second-in-command after Lord Kitchener, to move his column from Vryburg to Klerksdorp to deal with De La Rey. On the morning of 7 March 1902, the Boers attacked the rear guard of Methuen's moving column at Tweebosch. Confusion reigned in British ranks and Methuen was wounded and captured by the Boers. The Boer victories in the west led to stronger action by the British. In the second half of March 1902, large British reinforcements were sent to the Western Transvaal under the direction of Ian Hamilton. The opportunity the British were waiting for arose on 11 April 1902 at Rooiwal, where a commando led by General Jan Kemp and Commandant Potgieter attacked a superior force under Kekewich. The British soldiers were well positioned on the hillside and inflicted severe casualties on the Boers charging on horseback over a large distance, beating them back. This was the end of the war in the Western Transvaal and also the last major battle of the war.


Eastern Transvaal

Two Boer forces fought in this area, one under Botha in the south east and a second under Ben Viljoen in the north east around Lydenburg. Botha's forces were particularly active, raiding railways and British supply convoys, and even mounting a renewed invasion of Natal in September 1901. After defeating British mounted infantry in the Battle of Blood River Poort near
Dundee Dundee (; sco, Dundee; gd, Dùn Dè or ) is Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a ...
, Botha was forced to withdraw by heavy rains that made movement difficult and crippled his horses. Back on the Transvaal territory around his home district of Vryheid, Botha attacked a British raiding column at Bakenlaagte, using an effective mounted charge. One of the most active British units was effectively destroyed in this engagement. This made Botha's forces the target of increasingly large scorched earth drives by British forces, in which the British made particular use of native scouts and informers. Eventually, Botha had to abandon the high veld and retreat to a narrow enclave bordering
Swaziland Eswatini ( ; ss, eSwatini ), officially the Kingdom of Eswatini and formerly named Swaziland ( ; officially renamed in 2018), is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its no ...
. To the north, Ben Viljoen grew steadily less active. His forces mounted comparatively few attacks and as a result, the Boer enclave around
Lydenburg Lydenburg, officially known as Mashishing, is a town in Thaba Chweu Local Municipality, on the Mpumalanga highveld, South Africa. It is situated on the Sterkspruit/Dorps River tributary of the Lepelle/Letaba River, Lepelle River at the summit o ...
was largely unmolested. Viljoen was eventually captured.


Cape Colony

In parts of Cape Colony, particularly the Cape Midlands District where Boers formed a majority of the white inhabitants, the British had always feared a general uprising against them. In fact, no such uprising took place, even in the early days of the war when Boer armies had advanced across the Orange. The cautious conduct of some of the elderly Orange Free State generals had been one factor that discouraged the Cape Boers from siding with the Boer republics. Nevertheless, there was widespread pro-Boer sympathy. Some of the Cape Dutch volunteered to help the British, but a much larger number volunteered to help the other side. The political factor was more important than the military: the Cape Dutch, according to Milner 90 percent of whom favoured the rebels, controlled the provincial legislature, and it's authorities forbade the British Army to burn farms or to force Boer civilians into concentration camps. The British had more limited options to suppress the insurgency in the Cape Colony as result. After he escaped across the Orange in March 1901, Christiaan de Wet had left forces under Cape rebels Kritzinger and Gideon Scheepers to maintain a guerrilla campaign in the Cape Midlands. The campaign here was one of the least chivalrous of the war, with intimidation by both sides of each other's civilian sympathisers. In one of many skirmishes, Commandant Lotter's small commando was tracked down by a much-superior British column and wiped out at
Groenkloof Groenkloof (Afrikaans for 'Green ravine') is a residential suburb of Pretoria, South Africa. This wealthy suburb in Pretoria is famous for its white Jacaranda trees. It is close to the city centre, and to the well-known Brooklyn Square and Men ...
. Several captured rebels, including Lotter and Scheepers, who was captured when he fell ill with appendicitis, were executed by the British for treason or for capital crimes such as the murder of prisoners or of unarmed civilians. Some of the executions took place in public, to deter further disaffection. Fresh Boer forces under
Jan Christiaan Smuts Field Marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually, it is the highest rank in an army and as such few persons are appointed to it. ...
, joined by the surviving rebels under Kritzinger, made another attack on the Cape in September 1901. They suffered severe hardships and were hard pressed by British columns, but eventually rescued themselves by routing some of their pursuers at the Battle of Elands River and capturing their equipment. From then until the end of the war, Smuts increased his forces from among Cape rebels until they numbered 3,000. However, no general uprising took place, and the situation in the Cape remained stalemated. In January 1902, Boer leader Manie Maritz was implicated in the Leliefontein massacre in the far
Northern Cape The Northern Cape is the largest and most sparsely populated Provinces of South Africa, province of South Africa. It was created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. Its capital is Kimberley, South Africa, Kimberley. It includes the Kala ...
.


Boer foreign volunteers

While no other government actively supported the Boer cause, individuals from several countries volunteered and formed Foreign Volunteer Units. These primarily came from
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
, particularly the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
,
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
and
Sweden-Norway Sweden and Norway or Sweden–Norway ( sv, Svensk-norska unionen; no, Den svensk-norske union(en)), officially the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, and known as the United Kingdoms, was a personal union A personal union is the com ...
. Other countries such as
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
(then part of the United Kingdom), and restive areas of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the List of Russian monarchs, Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended th ...
, including
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called Voivodeships of Poland, voivodeships, covering an area of . Poland has a population of over 38 million and is ...
and Georgia, also formed smaller volunteer corps. Finns fought in the Scandinavian Corps. Two volunteers, George Henri Anne-Marie Victor de Villebois-Mareuil of France and Yevgeny Maximov of Russia, became ''veggeneraals'' (fighting generals) of the South African Republic.


Conclusion

Towards the end of the war, British tactics of containment, denial, and harassment began to yield results against the guerrillas. The sourcing and co-ordination of intelligence became increasingly efficient with regular reporting from observers in the blockhouses, from units patrolling the fences and conducting "sweeper" operations, and from native Africans in rural areas who increasingly supplied intelligence, as the Scorched Earth policy took effect and they found themselves competing with the Boers for food supplies. Kitchener's forces at last began to seriously affect the Boers' fighting strength and freedom of manoeuvre, and made it harder for the Boers and their families to survive. Despite this success, almost half the Boer fighting strength, 15,000 men were still in the field fighting. Kitchener's tactics were very costly: Britain was running out of time and money and needed to change tack. The British offered terms of peace on various occasions, notably in March 1901, but were rejected by Botha and the "Bitter-enders" among the Boers. They pledged to fight until the bitter end and rejected the demand for compromise made by the "Hands-uppers." Their reasons included hatred of the British, loyalty to their dead comrades, solidarity with fellow commandos, an intense desire for independence, religious arguments, and fear of captivity or punishment. On the other hand, their women and children were dying every day and independence seemed impossible. The last of the Boers finally surrendered in May 1902 and the war ended with the
Treaty of Vereeniging The Treaty of Vereeniging was a peace treaty, signed on 31 May 1902, that ended the Second Boer War between the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, on the one side, and the United Kingdom on the other. This settlement provid ...
signed on 31 May 1902. After a period of obstinacy, the British reneged and offered the Boers generous terms of conditional surrender in order to bring the war to a victorious conclusion. The Boers were given £3,000,000 for reconstruction and were promised eventual limited self-government, which was granted in 1906 and 1907. The treaty ended the existence of the Transvaal and Orange Free State as independent Boer republics and placed them within the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
. The
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day South Africa, Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Briti ...
was established as a
dominion The term ''Dominion'' is used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was first accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland, Newfoundland, Un ...
of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
in 1910.


Nonwhite roles

The policy on both sides was to minimise the role of nonwhites, but the need for manpower continuously stretched those resolves. At the battle of Spion Kop in Ladysmith, Mohandas K. Gandhi with 300 free burgher Indians and 800 indentured Indian labourers started the Ambulance Corps serving the British side. As the war raged across African farms and their homes were destroyed, many became refugees and they, like the Boers, moved to the towns where the British hastily created internment camps. Subsequently, the British scorched earth policies were applied to both Boers and Africans. Although most black Africans were not considered by the British to be hostile, many tens of thousands were also forcibly removed from Boer areas and also placed in concentration camps. Africans were held separately from Boer internees. Eventually there were a total of 64 tented camps for Africans. Conditions were as bad as in the camps for the Boers, but even though, after the Fawcett Commission report, conditions improved in the Boer camps, "improvements were much slower in coming to the black camps"; 20,000 died there. The Boers and the British both feared the consequences of arming Africans. The memories of the Zulu and other tribal conflicts were still fresh, and they recognised that whoever won would have to deal with the consequences of a mass militarisation of the tribes. There was therefore an unwritten agreement that this war would be a "white man's war." At the outset, British officials instructed all white magistrates in the Natal Colony to appeal to Zulu amakhosi (chiefs) to remain neutral, and President Kruger sent emissaries asking them to stay out of it. However, in some cases there were old scores to be settled, and some Africans, such as the Swazis, were eager to enter the war with the specific aim of reclaiming land won by the Boers. As the war went on there was greater involvement of Africans, and in particular large numbers became embroiled in the conflict on the British side, either voluntarily or involuntarily. By the end of the war, many Africans had been armed and had shown conspicuous gallantry in roles such as scouts, messengers, watchmen in blockhouses, and auxiliaries. And there were more flash-points outside of the war. On 6 May 1902 at Holkrantz in the southeastern Transvaal, a Zulu faction had their cattle stolen and their women and children tortured by the Boers as a punishment for assisting the British. The local Boer officer then sent an insulting message to the tribe, challenging them to take back their cattle. The Zulus attacked at night, and in a mutual bloodbath, the Boers lost 56 killed and 3 wounded, while the Africans suffered 52 killed and 48 wounded. About 10,000 black men were attached to Boer units where they performed camp duties; a handful unofficially fought in combat. The British Army employed over 14,000 Africans as wagon drivers. Even more had combatant roles as spies, guides, and eventually as soldiers. By 1902 there were about 30,000 armed Africans in the British Army.


Concentration camps

The term "
concentration camp Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without Criminal charge, charges or Indictment, intent to file charges. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects ...
" was used to describe camps operated by the British in South Africa during this conflict in the years 1900–1902, and the term grew in prominence during this period. The camps had originally been set up by the British Army as "
refugee camps A refugee camp is a temporary settlement built to receive refugee A refugee, conventionally speaking, is a forced displacement, displaced person who has crossed national borders and who cannot or is unwilling to return home due to well-fo ...
" to provide refuge for civilian families who had been forced to abandon their homes for whatever reason related to the war. However, when Kitchener took over in late 1900, he introduced new tactics in an attempt to break the guerrilla campaign and the influx of civilians grew dramatically as a result. Disease and starvation killed thousands. Kitchener initiated plans to
As Boer farms were destroyed by the British under their "
Scorched Earth A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, military vehicles, transport v ...
" policy—including the systematic destruction of crops and slaughtering of livestock, the burning down of homesteads and farms —to prevent the Boers from resupplying from a home base, many tens of thousands of women and children were forcibly moved into the concentration camps. This was not the first appearance of internment camps, as the Spanish had used internment in Cuba in the
Ten Years' War The Ten Years' War ( es, Guerra de los Diez Años; 1868–1878), also known as the Great War () and the War of '68, was part of Cuba's fight for independence from Spain. The uprising was led by Cuban-born planters and other wealthy natives. O ...
, but the Boer War concentration camp system was the first time that a whole nation had been systematically targeted, and the first in which whole regions had been depopulated. Eventually, there were a total of 45 tented camps built for Boer internees and 64 for black Africans. Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as
prisoners of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a person who is held Captivity, captive by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates back to 1610. Belligerents hold priso ...
, 25,630 were sent overseas to
prisoner-of-war camp A prisoner-of-war camp (often abbreviated as POW camp) is a site for the containment of enemy fighters captured by a belligerent power in time of war. There are significant differences among POW camps, internment camps, and military priso ...
s throughout the British Empire. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children. Around 26,370 Boer women and children were to perish in these concentration camps. Of the more than 120,000 Blacks (and
Coloureds Coloureds ( af, Kleurlinge or , ) refers to members of multiracial people, multiracial ethnic group, ethnic communities in Southern Africa who may have ancestry from more than one of the various populations inhabiting the region, including Af ...
) imprisoned too, around 20,000 died. The camps were poorly administered from the outset and became increasingly overcrowded when Kitchener's troops implemented the internment strategy on a vast scale. Conditions were terrible for the health of the internees, mainly due to neglect, poor hygiene and bad sanitation. The supply of all items was unreliable, partly because of the constant disruption of communication lines by the Boers. The food rations were meager and there was a two-tier allocation policy, whereby families of men who were still fighting were routinely given smaller rations than others. The inadequate shelter, poor diet, bad hygiene and overcrowding led to malnutrition and endemic contagious diseases such as
measles Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by Measles morbillivirus, measles virus. Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last 7–10 days. Initial symptoms typically include fever, often ...
,
typhoid Typhoid fever, also known as typhoid, is a disease caused by ''Salmonella'' serotype Typhi bacteria. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, and usually begin six to 30 days after exposure. Often there is a gradual onset of a high fever over several d ...
, and
dysentery Dysentery (UK pronunciation: , US: ), historically known as the bloody flux, is a type of gastroenteritis that results in bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms may include fever, abdominal pain, and a feeling of incomplete defecation. Complicati ...
, to which the children were particularly vulnerable. Coupled with a shortage of modern medical facilities, many of the internees died. While much of the British press, including ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'', played down the problems in the camps, Emily Hobhouse helped raise public awareness in Britain of the atrocious conditions, as well as being instrumental in bringing relief to the concentration camps.


Cost of the war

It is estimated that the total cost of the war to the British government was £211,156, 000 (equivalent to £19.9bn in 2022).


Aftermath and analysis

The Second Boer War cast long shadows over the history of the South African region. The predominantly agrarian society of the former
Boer Boers ( ; af, Boere ()) are the descendants of the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers of the eastern Cape Colony, Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. From 1652 to 1795, the Dutch East India Company controll ...
republics was profoundly and fundamentally affected by the
scorched earth A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, military vehicles, transport v ...
policy of Roberts and Kitchener. The devastation of both Boer and black African populations in the concentration camps and through war and exile were to have a lasting effect on the demography and quality of life in the region. Many exiles and prisoners were unable to return to their farms at all; others attempted to do so but were forced to abandon the farms as unworkable given the damage caused by farm burning in the course of the scorched earth policy. Destitute Boers and black Africans swelled the ranks of the unskilled urban poor competing with the "uitlanders" in the mines. The postwar reconstruction administration was presided over by Lord Milner and his largely Oxford trained Milner's Kindergarten. This small group of civil servants had a profound effect on the region, eventually leading to the
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day South Africa, Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Briti ...
. Some scholars, for good reasons, identify these new identities as partly underpinning the act of union that followed in 1910. Although challenged by a Boer rebellion only four years later, they did much to shape South African politics between the two world wars and right up to the present day. The counterinsurgency techniques and lessons (the restriction of movement, the containment of space, the ruthless targeting of anything, everything and anyone that could give sustenance to guerrillas, the relentless harassment through sweeper groups coupled with rapid reaction forces, the sourcing and co-ordination of intelligence, and the nurturing of native allies) learned during the Boer War were used by the British (and other forces) in future guerrilla campaigns including to counter Malayan communist rebels during the
Malayan Emergency The Malayan Emergency, also known as the Anti–British National Liberation War was a guerrilla warfare, guerrilla war fought in British Malaya between communist pro-independence fighters of the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA) and th ...
. In World War II the British also adopted some of the concepts of raiding from the Boer commandos when, after the
fall of France The Battle of France (french: bataille de France) (10 May – 25 June 1940), also known as the Western Campaign ('), the French Campaign (german: Frankreichfeldzug, ) and the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France France (), ...
, they set up their special raiding forces, and in acknowledgement of their erstwhile enemies, chose the name
British Commandos The Commandos, also known as the British Commandos, were formed during the Second World War in June 1940, following a request from Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British ...
. Many of the Boers referred to the war as the second of the ''Freedom Wars''. The most resistant of Boers wanted to continue the fight and were known as "''
Bittereinder The ''Bittereinders'' () or irreconcilables were a faction of Boer guerrilla fighters, resisting the forces of the British Empire in the later stages of the Second Boer War (1899–1902). By September 1900, the conventional forces of the Sou ...
s''" (or ''irreconcilables'') and at the end of the war a number of Boer fighters such as
Deneys Reitz Deneys Reitz (1882—1944), son of Francis William Reitz, was a Boer warrior who fought in the Second Boer War for the South African Republic against the British Empire. After a period of exile in French Madagascar he returned to South Afr ...
chose exile rather than sign an oath, such as the following, to pledge allegiance to Britain: Over the following decade, many returned to South Africa and never signed the pledge. Some, like Reitz, eventually reconciled themselves to the new ''status quo'', but others did not.


Union of South Africa

One of the most important events in the decade after the end of the war was the creation of the
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day South Africa, Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Briti ...
(later the
Republic of South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 ( ...
). It proved a key ally to Britain as a
Dominion The term ''Dominion'' is used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was first accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland, Newfoundland, Un ...
of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
during the World Wars. At the start of the First World War a crisis ensued when the South African government led by
Louis Botha Louis Botha (; 27 September 1862 – 27 August 1919) was a South African politician who was the first Prime Minister of South Africa, prime minister of the Union of South Africa – the forerunner of the modern South African state. A Boer war h ...
and other former Boer fighters, such as
Jan Smuts Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, (24 May 1870 11 September 1950) was a South African statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various military and cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of South Africa, prime m ...
, declared support for Britain and agreed to send troops to take over the German colony of
German South-West Africa German South West Africa (german: Deutsch-Südwestafrika) was a colony of the German Empire from 1884 until 1915, though Germany did not officially recognise its loss of this territory until the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. With a total area of ...
(Namibia). Many Boers were opposed to fighting for Britain, especially against Germany, which had been sympathetic to their struggle. A number of ''bittereinders'' and their allies took part in a revolt known as the Maritz Rebellion. This was quickly suppressed, and in 1916 the leading Boer rebels in the Maritz Rebellion escaped lightly (especially compared with the fate of leading Irish rebels of the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed Rebellion, insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week in April 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicanism, Irish republicans against Br ...
), with terms of imprisonment of six and seven years and heavy fines. Two years later, they were released from prison, as Louis Botha recognised the value of reconciliation. Thereafter the ''bittereinders'' concentrated on political organisation within the constitutional system and built up what later became the National Party, which took power in 1948 and dominated the politics of South Africa from the late 1940s until the early 1990s, under the
apartheid Apartheid (, especially South African English: , ; , "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the So ...
system.


Effect of the war on domestic British politics

Many
Irish nationalist Irish nationalism is a nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation should be congruent with the State (polity), state. As a movement, nationalism tends to promote the interests of a particular nation (a ...
s sympathised with the Boers, viewing them to be a people oppressed by British
imperialism Imperialism is the state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas, often through employing hard power (economic powe ...
, much like they viewed themselves. Irish miners already in the Transvaal at the start of the war formed the nucleus of two Irish commandos. The Second Irish Brigade was headed up by an Australian of Irish parents, Colonel Arthur Lynch. In addition, small groups of Irish volunteers went to South Africa to fight with the Boers—this despite the fact that there were many Irish troops fighting in the British army, including the
Royal Dublin Fusiliers The Royal Dublin Fusiliers was an Ireland, Irish infantry Regiment of the British Army created in 1881, one of eight Irish military diaspora#'Irish' named units of the British Army, Irish regiments raised and garrisoned in Ireland, with its home ...
. In Britain, the "Pro-Boer" campaign expanded, with writers often idealising the Boer society. The war also highlighted the dangers of Britain's policy of non-alignment and deepened her isolation. The 1900 UK general election, also known as the "
Khaki election In Westminster system, Westminster systems of government, a khaki election is any national election which is heavily influenced by wartime or postwar sentiment. In the 1900 United Kingdom general election, British general election of 1900, the Co ...
", was called by the Prime Minister,
Lord Salisbury Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom three times for a ...
, on the back of recent British victories. There was much enthusiasm for the war at this point, resulting in a victory for the
Conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
government. However, public support quickly waned as it became apparent that the war would not be easy and it dragged on, partially contributing to the Conservatives' spectacular defeat in 1906. There was public outrage at the use of scorched earth tactics and at the conditions in the concentration camps. It also became apparent that there were serious problems with public health in Britain since up to 40% of recruits in Britain were unfit for
military service Military service is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, air forces, and naval forces, whether as a chosen job (volunteer military, volunteer) or as a result of an involuntary draft (conscription). Some nations (e.g ...
and suffered from medical problems such as
rickets Rickets is a condition that results in weak or soft bones in children, and is caused by either dietary deficiency or genetic causes. Symptoms include bowed legs, stunted growth, bone pain, large forehead, and trouble sleeping. Complications may ...
and other poverty-related illnesses. That came at a time of increasing concern for the state of the poor in Britain. Having taken the country into a prolonged war, the Conservative government was rejected by the electorate at the first general election after the war was over. Balfour succeeded his uncle, Lord Salisbury in 1903, immediately after the war, took over a Conservative Party that had won two successive landslide majorities but led it to a landslide defeat in 1906. The 2nd Anglo-Boer War was a victory that costed British taxpayers more than £200m; 22,000 Empire troops, and more than 400,000 army horses, donkeys and mules were killed. Britain had expected a swift victory against a mostly unmilitarised and predominantly agricultural-based opponent. However, the conflict dragged on into the 20th century and the reign of a new monarch. At the time, Britain was world’s most technologically advanced military. The results caused many both domestically and internationally to question the dominance of the British Empire, especially as nations like the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
, and
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north ...
had started to become major powers.


Horses

The number of horses killed in the war was at the time unprecedented in modern warfare. For example, in the Relief of Kimberley, French's cavalry rode 500 horses to their deaths in a single day. The wastage was particularly heavy among British forces for several reasons: overloading of horses with unnecessary equipment and saddlery, failure to rest and acclimatise horses after long sea voyages and, later in the war, poor management by inexperienced mounted troops and distant control by unsympathetic staffs. The average life expectancy of a British horse, from the time of its arrival in Port Elizabeth, was around six weeks. Horses were slaughtered for their meat when needed. During the
Siege of Kimberley The siege of Kimberley took place during the Second Boer War at Kimberley, Northern Cape, Kimberley, Cape Colony (present-day South Africa), when Boer forces from the Orange Free State and the South African Republic, Transvaal besieged the diam ...
and
Siege of Ladysmith The siege of Ladysmith was a protracted engagement in the Second Boer War, taking place between 2 November 1899 and 28 February 1900 at Ladysmith, Natal. Background As war with the Boer republics appeared likely in June 1899, the War Offi ...
, horses were consumed as food once the regular sources of meat were depleted. The besieged British forces in Ladysmith also produced ''chevril'', a
Bovril Bovril is the trademarked name of a thick and salty meat extract paste similar to a yeast extract Yeast extracts consist of the cell contents of yeast without the cell walls; they are used as food additives or flavorings, or as nutrients f ...
-like paste, by boiling down the horse meat to a jelly paste and serving it like beef tea. The Horse Memorial in Port Elizabeth is a tribute to the 300,000 horses that died during the conflict.


Imperial involvement

The vast majority of troops fighting for the British army came from Great Britain. Yet a significant number came from other parts of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
. These countries had their own internal disputes over whether they should remain tied to London, or have full independence, which carried over into the debate around the sending of forces to assist the war. Though not fully independent on foreign affairs, these countries did have local say over how much support to provide, and the manner it was provided. Ultimately, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and British South African Company-administered Rhodesia all sent volunteers to aid the United Kingdom. Troops were also raised to fight with the British from the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope, which existed from 1795 to 1802, and again from 1806 to 1910, when i ...
and the
Colony of Natal The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on 4 May 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Natalia Republic, Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three o ...
. Some Boer fighters, such as
Jan Smuts Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, (24 May 1870 11 September 1950) was a South African statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various military and cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of South Africa, prime m ...
and Louis Botha, were technically British subjects as they came from the Cape Colony and Colony of Natal, respectively. There were also many volunteers from the Empire who were not selected for the official contingents from their countries and travelled privately to South Africa to form private units, such as the Canadian Scouts and Doyle's Australian Scouts. There were also some European volunteer units from
British India The provinces of India, earlier presidencies of British India and still earlier, presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance on the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one ...
and
British Ceylon British Ceylon ( si, බ්‍රිතාන්‍ය ලංකාව, Britānya Laṃkāva; ta, பிரித்தானிய இலங்கை, Biritthāṉiya Ilaṅkai) was the British Empire, British Crown colony of present-day Sri ...
, though the British Government refused offers of non-white troops from the Empire. Some
Cape Coloureds Cape Coloureds () are a South Africa, South African ethnic group consisted primarily of persons of multiracial, mixed race and Khoisan descent. Although Coloureds form a minority group within South Africa, they are the predominant population g ...
also volunteered early in the war, but later some of them were effectively conscripted and kept in segregated units. As a community, they received comparatively little reward for their services. In many ways, the war set the pattern for the Empire's later involvement in the two
World Wars A world war is an international conflict which involves all or most of the world's major powers. Conventionally, the term is reserved for two major international conflicts that occurred during the first half of the 20th century, World War I, Worl ...
. Specially raised units, consisting mainly of volunteers, were dispatched overseas to serve with forces from elsewhere in the British Empire. The United States stayed neutral in the conflict, but some American citizens were eager to participate. Early in the war Lord Roberts cabled the American
Frederick Russell Burnham Frederick Russell Burnham Distinguished Service Order, DSO (May 11, 1861 – September 1, 1947) was an American frontiersman, scout and world-traveling adventurer. He is known for his service to the British South Africa Company and to the Brit ...
, a veteran of both Matabele wars but at that very moment prospecting in the Klondike, to serve on his personal staff as Chief of Scouts. Burnham went on to receive the highest awards of any American who served in the war, but American mercenaries participated on both sides.


Australia

From 1899 to 1901 the six separate
self-governing colonies In the British Empire, a self-governing colony was a colony with an elected government in which elected rulers were able to make most decisions without referring to the colonial power with nominal control of the colony. This was in contrast to a ...
in Australia sent their own contingents to serve in the Boer War. That much of the population of the colonies had originated from
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island and the List of is ...
explains a general desire to support Britain during the conflict. After the colonies formed the
Commonwealth of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country b ...
in 1901, the new Government of Australia sent "Commonwealth" contingents to the war. The Boer War was thus the first war in which the Commonwealth of Australia fought. A few Australians fought on the Boer side. The most famous and colourful character was Colonel Arthur Alfred Lynch, formerly of
Ballarat Ballarat ( ) is a city in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia. At the 2021 Census, Ballarat had a population of 116,201, making it the third largest city in Victoria. Estimated resident population, 30 June 2018. Within months of Vi ...
, Victoria, who raised the Second Irish Brigade. The Australian
climate Climate is the long-term weather pattern in an area, typically averaged over 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables over a time spanning from months to millions of years. Some of the meteorologi ...
and
geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia''. Combination of Greek words ‘Geo’ (The Earth) and ‘Graphien’ (to describe), literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, i ...
were far closer to that of South Africa than most other parts of the empire, so Australians adapted quickly to the environment, with troops serving mostly among the army's "mounted rifles." Enlistment in all official Australian contingents totalled 16,463. Another five to seven thousand Australians served in "irregular" regiments raised in South Africa. Perhaps five hundred Australian irregulars were killed. In total 20,000 or more Australians served and about 1,000 were killed. A total of 267 died from disease, 251 were killed in action or died from wounds sustained in battle. A further 43 men were reported missing. When the war began some Australians, like some Britons, opposed it. As the war dragged on some Australians became disenchanted, in part because of the sufferings of Boer civilians reported in the press. In an interesting twist (for Australians), when the British missed capturing President Paul Kruger, as he escaped Pretoria during its fall in June 1900, a '' Melbourne Punch'', 21 June 1900, cartoon depicted how the War could be won, using the Kelly Gang. The convictions and executions of two Australian lieutenants, Harry Harbord Morant, colloquially known as 'The Breaker' for his skill with horses, and Peter Handcock in 1902, and the imprisonment of a third, George Witton, had minimal impact on the Australian public at the time despite later legend. The controversial
court-martial A court-martial or court martial (plural ''courts-martial'' or ''courts martial'', as "martial" is a postpositive adjective) is a military court or a trial conducted in such a court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of memb ...
saw the three convicted of executing
Boer Boers ( ; af, Boere ()) are the descendants of the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers of the eastern Cape Colony, Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. From 1652 to 1795, the Dutch East India Company controll ...
prisoners under their authority. After the war, though, Australians joined an empire-wide campaign that saw Witton released from jail. Much later, some Australians came to see the execution of Morant and Handcock as instances of wrongfully executed Australians, as illustrated in the 1980 Australian film ''Breaker Morant''. It is believed that up to 50
Aboriginal Australians Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples of the Mainland Australia, Australian mainland and many of its islands, such as Tasmania, Fraser Island, Hinchinbrook Island, the Tiwi Islands, and Groote Eylandt, but excluding the T ...
served in the Boer War as trackers. According to Dale Kerwin, an Indigenous research fellow at
Griffith University Griffith University is a public university, public research university in South East Queensland on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of Australia. Formally founded in 1971, Griffith opened its doors in 1975, introducing Australia's fi ...
, such is the lack of information that is available about the trackers it is even uncertain as to whether they returned to Australia at the end of the war. He has claimed that at the end of the war in 1902 when the Australian contingents returned the trackers may not have been allowed back to Australia due to the
White Australia Policy The White Australia policy is a term encapsulating a set of historical policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians (primarily Chinese people, Chinese) and Pacific Islanders, from immigration to Austral ...
.


Canada

A total of around 8000 Canadians arrived in South Africa to fight for Britain. These arrived in two contingents: the first on 30 October 1899, the second on 21 January 1900. A third contongent of cavalry ( Strathcona's Horse) embarked for South Africa on 16/17 March 1900. They remained until May 1902. With approximately 7,368 soldiers in a combat situation, the conflict became the largest military engagement involving
Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or all) of these connections exist and are collectively the source of ...
soldiers from the time of Confederation until the
Great War World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
. Eventually, 270 of these soldiers died in the course of the Boer War. The
Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or all) of these connections exist and are collectively the source of ...
public was initially divided on the decision to go to war as some citizens did not want Canada to become Britain's 'tool' for engaging in armed conflicts. Many
Anglophone Speakers of English language, English are also known as Anglophones, and the countries where English is natively spoken by the majority of the population are termed the ''Anglosphere''. Over two billion people speak English , making English the ...
citizens were pro-
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". The center of the empire (sometimes referred to as the metropole) ex ...
, and wanted the
prime minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, to support the British in their conflict. On the other hand, many
Francophone French became an international language in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical ...
citizens felt threatened by the continuation of British
imperialism Imperialism is the state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas, often through employing hard power (economic powe ...
to their national
sovereignty Sovereignty is the defining authority within individual consciousness, Social constructionism, social construct, or territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty i ...
. In the end, to appease the citizens who wanted war and to avoid angering those who oppose it, Laurier sent 1,000 volunteers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William Otter to aid the confederation in its war to 'liberate' the peoples of the Boer controlled states in South Africa. The volunteers were provided to the British if the latter paid costs of the battalion after it arrived in South Africa. The supporters of the war claimed that it "pitted British Freedom, justice and civilization against Boer backwardness". The French Canadians' opposition to the Canadian involvement in a British 'colonial venture' eventually led to a three-day riot in various areas of Quebec. Commonwealth involvement in the Boer War can be summarised into three parts. The first part (October 1899 – December 1899) was characterised by questionable decisions and blunders from the Commonwealth leadership which affected its soldiers greatly. The soldiers of the Commonwealth were shocked at the number of Afrikaner soldiers who were willing to oppose the British. The Afrikaner troops were very willing to fight for their country, and were armed with modern weaponry and were highly mobile soldiers. This was one of the best examples of Guerrilla style warfare, which would be employed throughout the twentieth century after set piece fighting was seen as a hindrance by certain groups. The Boer soldiers would evade capture and secure provisions from their enemies therefore they were able to exist as a fighting entity for an indeterminate period of time. The end of the First part was the period in mid-December, referred to as the "
Black Week Black Week refers to the week of 10–17 December 1899 during the Second Boer War, when the British Army suffered three devastating defeats by the Boer Republics at the battles of Battle of Stormberg, Stormberg, Battle of Magersfontein, Magersfon ...
". During the week of 10–17 December 1899, the British suffered three major defeats at the hands of the Boers at the battlefields of Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso. Afterwards, the British called upon more volunteers to take part in the war from the Commonwealth. The second part of the war (February–April 1900) was the opposite of the first. After the British reorganised and reinforced under new leadership, they began to experience success against the Boer soldiers. Commonwealth soldiers resorted to using blockhouses, farm burning and concentration camps to 'persuade' the resisting Boers into submission. The final phase of the war was the guerrilla phase in which many Boer soldiers turned to guerrilla tactics such as raiding infrastructure or communications lines. Many Canadian soldiers did not actually see combat after they had been shipped over to South Africa since many arrived around the time of the signing of the
Treaty of Vereeniging The Treaty of Vereeniging was a peace treaty, signed on 31 May 1902, that ended the Second Boer War between the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, on the one side, and the United Kingdom on the other. This settlement provid ...
on 31 May 1902.


India

British garrisons in India contributed 18,534 British officers and men, as well as an estimated 10,000 Indian auxiliaries deployed to assist them. India also sent 7,000 horses, ponies and mules. Indian auxiliaries were only employed in non-combatant roles. The Natal Indian Ambulance Corps, created by Mohandas K. Gandhi and financed by the local Indian community, served at Colenso and Spion Kop.


New Zealand

When the Second Boer War seemed imminent, New Zealand offered its support. On 28 September 1899, Prime Minister
Richard Seddon Richard John Seddon (22 June 1845 – 10 June 1906) was a New Zealand politician who served as the List of prime ministers of New Zealand, 15th Prime Minister of New Zealand, premier (prime minister) of New Zealand from 1893 until his death. ...
asked
Parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...
to approve the offer to the imperial government of a contingent of mounted rifles, thus becoming the first British Colony to send troops to the Boer War. The British position in the dispute with the Transvaal was "moderate and righteous," he maintained. He stressed the "crimson tie" of Empire that bound New Zealand to the mother-country and the importance of a strong British Empire for the colony's security. By the time peace was concluded two and a half years later, 10 contingents of volunteers, totalling nearly 6,500 men from New Zealand, with 8,000 horses had fought in the conflict, along with doctors, nurses, veterinary surgeons and a small number of school teachers. Some 70 New Zealanders died from enemy action, with another 158 killed accidentally or by disease. The first New Zealander to be killed was Farrier G.R. Bradford at Jasfontein Farm on 18 December 1899. The Boer War was greeted with extraordinary enthusiasm when the war was over, and peace was greeted with patriotism and national pride. This is best shown by the fact that the Third, Fourth and Fifth contingents from New Zealand were funded by public conscription.


Rhodesia

Rhodesian military units such as the British South Africa Police,
Rhodesia Regiment The Rhodesia Regiment (RR) was one of the oldest and largest regiments in the Rhodesian Army. It served on the side of the United Kingdom in the Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, , 11 October 189931 May 1902 ...
and Southern Rhodesian Volunteers served in the Second Boer War.


South Africa

During the war, the British army also included substantial contingents from South Africa itself. There were large communities of English-speaking immigrants and settlers in Natal and
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope, which existed from 1795 to 1802, and again from 1806 to 1910, when i ...
(especially around
Cape Town Cape Town ( af, Kaapstad; , xh, iKapa) is one of South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch ...
and
Grahamstown Makhanda, also known as Grahamstown, is a town of about 140,000 people in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated about northeast of Port Elizabeth and southwest of East London, Eastern Cape, East London. Makhanda is the lar ...
), which formed volunteer units that took the field, or local "town guards." At one stage of the war, a "Colonial Division," consisting of five light horse and infantry units under Brigadier General Edward Brabant, took part in the invasion of the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat; af, Oranje-Vrystaat;) was an independent Boer sovereign republic under British suzerainty in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist after it was defeate ...
. Part of it withstood a siege by Christiaan de Wet at Wepener on the borders of Basutoland. Another large source of volunteers was the ''
uitlander Uitlander, Afrikaans for "foreigner" (lit. "outlander"), was a foreign (mainly British) migrant worker during the Witwatersrand Gold Rush in the independent South African Republic, Transvaal Republic following the discovery of gold in 1886. The l ...
'' community, many of whom hastily left
Johannesburg Johannesburg ( , , ; Zulu language, Zulu and xh, eGoli ), colloquially known as Jozi, Joburg, or "The City of Gold", is the largest city in South Africa, classified as a Megacity#List of megacities, megacity, and is List of urban areas by p ...
in the days immediately preceding the war. Later during the war, Lord Kitchener attempted to form a Boer Police Force, as part of his efforts to pacify the occupied areas and effect a reconciliation with the Boer community. The members of this force were despised as traitors by the Boers still in the field. Those Boers who attempted to remain neutral after giving their parole to British forces were derided as ''"hensoppers"'' (hands-uppers) and were often coerced into giving support to the Boer guerrillas (which formed one of the reasons for the British decision to launch scorched earth campaigns throughout the countryside and detain Boers in concentration camps in order to deny anything of use to the Boer guerillas). Like the Canadian and particularly the Australian and New Zealand contingents, many of the volunteer units formed by South Africans were " light horse" or
mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry who rode horses instead of marching. The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry. According to the 1911 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', "Mounted rifles are half cavalry, mounted infantry merely specially mo ...
, well suited to the countryside and manner of warfare. Some regular British officers scorned their comparative lack of formal discipline, but the light horse units were hardier and more suited to the demands of campaigning than the overloaded British cavalry, who were still obsessed with the charge by lance or sabre. At their peak, 24,000 South Africans (including volunteers from the Empire) served in the field in various "colonial" units. Notable units (in addition to the Imperial Light Horse) were the South African Light Horse, Rimington's Guides, Kitchener's Horse and the Imperial Light Infantry.


Notable participants


Boer leaders

*
Louis Botha Louis Botha (; 27 September 1862 – 27 August 1919) was a South African politician who was the first Prime Minister of South Africa, prime minister of the Union of South Africa – the forerunner of the modern South African state. A Boer war h ...
*
Koos de la Rey Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey (22 October 1847 – 15 September 1914), better known as Koos de la Rey, was a South African military officer who served as a Boer general during the Second Boer War. also had a political career and was one of the l ...
*
Paul Kruger Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (; 10 October 1825 – 14 July 1904) was a South African politician. He was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South African Republic, South Africa, and President of the So ...
* Christiaan de Wet


United Kingdom and empire


Military leaders

*
Redvers Buller General (United Kingdom), General Sir Redvers Henry Buller, (7 December 1839 – 2 June 1908) was a British Army officer and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to Bri ...
*
Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell Lieutenant-general (United Kingdom), Lieutenant-General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, ( ; (Commonly pronounced by others as ) 22 February 1857 – 8 January 1941) was a British Army officer, writer, foun ...
*
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig Field marshal (United Kingdom), Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, (; 19 June 1861 – 29 January 1928) was a senior Officer (armed forces), officer of the British Army. During the First World War, he commanded the British Expeditionar ...
*
John French, 1st Earl of Ypres Field marshal (United Kingdom), Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, (28 September 1852 – 22 May 1925), known as Sir John French from 1901 to 1916, and as The Viscount French between 1916 and 1922, was a senior Briti ...
*
Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, (; 24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916) was a senior British Army officer and colonial administrator. Kitchener came to prominence for his imperial campaigns, his scorched earth policy against the Boers, h ...
*
Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts Field marshal (United Kingdom), Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, (30 September 1832 – 14 November 1914) was a British Victorian era general who became one of the most successful British military commanders of his tim ...


Civilains and other combatants

Harold Lothrop Borden – Only son of Canada's Canadian Minister of Defence and Militia, Frederick William Borden. Serving in the
Royal Canadian Dragoons The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) is the senior armoured regiment of the Canadian Army by precedence. It is one of three armoured regiments in the Regular Force and forms part of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps. The colonel-in-chief of The RCD ...
, he became the most famous Canadian casualty of the Second Boer War.
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until Death and state funeral of Queen Victoria, her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 21 ...
asked F. W. Borden for a photograph of his son,
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
Wilfrid Laurier Sir Henri Charles Wilfrid Laurier, ( ; ; November 20, 1841 – February 17, 1919) was a Canadian lawyer, statesman, and politician who served as the seventh prime minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911. The first French Canadians, French Can ...
praised his services, tributes arrived from across Canada, and in his home town Canning, Nova Scotia, there is a monument (by Hamilton MacCarthy) erected to his memory.
Sam Hughes Sir Samuel Hughes, (January 8, 1853 – August 23, 1921) was the Canadians, Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence during World War I. He was notable for being the last Liberal-Conservative cabinet minister, until he was dismissed from his c ...
– Senior Militia officer and later a Federally elected
cabinet minister A minister is a politician A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking an elected office in government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, gen ...
. As a very patriotic individual, Hughes became involved in the Boer war as a member of Brigadier-General Herbert Settle's expedition after Hughes unsuccessfully tried to raise his own brigade of soldiers. Hughes was noted by his colleagues for having a dislike of professional soldiers and he was noted for being an exceptional leader of irregular soldiers, whom he preferred to lead in combat. However, Hughes was dismissed and was sent home in the summer of 1900 for; sending letters back home which were published outlining British command incompetence, his impatience and boastfulness and his providing surrendering enemies favourable conditions. When he arrived back in Canada, Hughes became very active politically, and he would eventually start his political career with the
Conservatives Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
. When he became a
Member of Parliament (Canada) In Canada, member of Parliament (MP; ) is a term typically used to describe an elected politician in the House of Commons of Canada, House of Commons. The term can also less be used to refer to an appointed member of the Senate of Canada, Senat ...
(MP), Hughes would be in the position to become the Canadian Minister of Defence and Militia in 1911, just prior the outbreak of World War I. This was a position that Hughes would be dismissed from in 1916, due once again to his impatience, among other reasons. John McCrae – Best known as the author of the World War I poem
In Flanders Fields "In Flanders Fields" is a war poet, war poem in the form of a rondeau (forme fixe), rondeau, written during the World War I, First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel (Canada), Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. He was inspired to ...
, McCrae started his active military service in the Boer War as an artillery officer. After completing several major campaigns, McCrae's artillery unit was sent home to Canada in 1901 with what would be referred to today as an 'honourable discharge'. McCrae ended up becoming a special professor in the
University of Vermont The University of Vermont (UVM), officially the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, is a Public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in Burlington, Vermont. It was founded in 1791 and is amon ...
for
pathology Pathology is the study of the causal, causes and effects of disease or injury. The word ''pathology'' also refers to the study of disease in general, incorporating a wide range of biology research fields and medical practices. However, when us ...
and he would later serve in World War I as a Medical officer until his death from
pneumonia Pneumonia is an Inflammation, inflammatory condition of the lung primarily affecting the small air sacs known as Pulmonary alveolus, alveoli. Symptoms typically include some combination of phlegm, productive or dry cough, chest pain, fever, ...
while on active duty in 1918. Harry "Breaker" Morant – Australian soldier, bush-poet, and horse-breaker hence his nickname, who as a commanding officer is accused of participation in
summary execution A summary execution is an execution in which a person is accused of a crime and immediately killed without the benefit of a Right to a fair trial, full and fair trial. Executions as the result of summary offense, summary justice (such as a drumhea ...
s of Boer prisoners – under orders from Kitchener it was argued by Morant and co-accused during his court-martial, although this is still debated due to the lack of British military papers being released for examination by Australian military historians – and the killing of a German missionary who had been a witness to the shootings. Morant was found guilty along with Peter Handcock and George Witton at their court-martial, with the two former being executed and the latter's sentence commuted, and later released from British prison to return to Australia after sustained public pressure to do so. This entire affair is still extremely controversial in Australian military history, predominantly regarding Australian officers under the command of British officers being tried by the British instead of by fellow Australians, as Federation occurred during the Boer War.
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
– Best known as the prime minister of Britain during the main part of the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, Churchill worked as a war correspondent for ''
The Morning Post ''The Morning Post'' was a conservative daily newspaper published in London from 1772 to 1937, when it was acquired by ''The Daily Telegraph''. History The paper was founded by John Bell (publisher), John Bell. According to historian Robert Dar ...
''. At the age of twenty-six, he was captured and held prisoner in a camp in Pretoria from which he escaped and rejoined the British army. He received a commission in the South African Light Horse (still working as a correspondent) and witnessed the capture of Ladysmith and Pretoria.
Mahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; ; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948), popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist Quote: "... marks Gandhi as a hybrid cosmopolitan figure who transformed ... anti- ...
– Best known as the leader of the independence movement in India, he lived in South Africa 1893–1915 where he worked on behalf of Indians. He volunteered in 1900 to help the British by forming teams of ambulance drivers and raising 1100 Indian volunteer medics. At Spioenkop Gandhi and his bearers had to carry wounded soldiers for miles to a field hospital because the terrain was too rough for the ambulances. General Redvers Buller mentioned the courage of the Indians in his dispatch. Gandhi and thirty-seven other Indians received the War Medal.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for ''A Study in Scarlet'', the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Hol ...
– Author and creator of
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes () is a fictional detective created by British author Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "Private investigator, consulting detective" in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, deduction, f ...
. Served as a volunteer doctor in the Langman Field Hospital at Bloemfontein between March and June 1900. In his widely distributed and translated pamphlet 'The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct' he justified both the reasonings behind the war and handling of the conflict itself. In response to complaints about concentration camps he pointed out that over 14,000 British soldiers had died of disease during the conflict (as opposed to 8,000 killed in combat) and at the height of epidemics he was seeing 50–60 British soldiers dying each day in a single ill-equipped and overwhelmed military hospital.
James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, PC Privy Council of Northern Ireland, PC (NI) Deputy Lieutenant, DL (8 January 1871 – 24 November 1940), was a leading Unionists (Ireland), Irish unionist and a ...
– Future Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Served as a Captain in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles and as part of the 13th battalion of the
Imperial Yeomanry The Imperial Yeomanry was a volunteer mounted force of the British Army that mainly saw action during the Second Boer War. Created on 2 January 1900, the force was initially recruited from the middle classes and traditional yeomanry sources, but su ...
. He was captured in 1900 but released due to a perforated colon and served as a deputy assistant director of the Imperial Military Railways until being evacuated to the UK due to ill-health.


Canadian Victoria Cross recipients

The
Victoria Cross The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for valour "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces and may be awarded posthumously. It was previously ...
, is the highest military medal available to soldiers of the Brirush Empire, including those fighting for in Commonwealth armies and those of former British Territories. It is awarded based on exemplary bravery and valour in the presence of danger. Four Canadian soldiers who fought in the Second Boer War were awarded the Victoria Cross: * Sergeant Arthur Herbert Lindsay Richardson – of Lord Strathcona's Horse. Richardson rode a wounded horse, while wounded himself, back into enemy fire to retrieve a wounded comrade whose horse had been killed at Wolve Spruit on 5 July 1900. * Lieutenant Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn – of the
Royal Canadian Dragoons The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) is the senior armoured regiment of the Canadian Army by precedence. It is one of three armoured regiments in the Regular Force and forms part of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps. The colonel-in-chief of The RCD ...
, Cockburn received his Victoria Cross on 7 November 1900 when his unit was the rear guard at Leliefontein. Cockburn, along with fellow Victoria Cross recipient Lieutenant R.E.W. Turner, held off an advancing group of Boer soldiers in order to allow two Canadian Field guns to escape along with their crews. Cockburn was wounded and captured by the Boer soldiers. * Lieutenant Richard Ernest William Turner – of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. Turner received his Victoria Cross in the same engagement as Cockburn. Though wounded, Turner was still able to escape capture, unlike Cockburn. Turner would later become a high-ranking officer in the Canadian army in World War I. * Sergeant Edward James Gibson Holland – of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. Holland received the Victoria Cross for valor during a rear-guard action at the same battle as Cockburn and Turner. Holland held off the advancing Boers with a carriage-mounted Colt machine gun, despite the position's becoming increasingly dangerous due to the proximity of the enemy Holland remained at his position until his gun jammed. In order to prevent it from falling into enemy hands, Holland removed the Colt from the carriage and retreated on horseback, gun in hand.


Final overview

The Second Boer War was the harbinger of a new type of combat which would persevere throughout the twentieth century,
guerrilla warfare Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or Irregular military, irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, Raid (military), raids ...
. After the war was over, the entire British army underwent a period of reform which was focused on lessening the emphasis placed on mounted units in combat. It was determined that the traditional role of
cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were the most mobile of the combat arms, operating as light cavalr ...
was antiquated and improperly used on the battlefield in the modern warfare of the Boer War, and that the First World War was the final proof that mounted attacks had no place in twentieth century combat. Cavalry was put to better use after the reforms in the theatres of the Middle East and World War I, and the idea of
mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry who rode horses instead of marching. The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry. According to the 1911 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', "Mounted rifles are half cavalry, mounted infantry merely specially mo ...
was useful in the times when the war was more mobile. An example was during the First World War during the
Battle of Mons A battle is an occurrence of combat in warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or paramilitary groups such as Mercenary, mercenaries, Insurgency, insurgents, and mil ...
in which the British cavalry held the Belgian town against an initial German assault. Another was the use of mounted infantry at the
Battle of Megiddo (1918) The Battle of Megiddo ( tr, ), also known in Turkish as the ("Rout of Nablus") or the ("Breakthrough at Nablus"), was fought between 19 and 25 September 1918, on the Plain of Sharon, in front of Battle of Tulkarm (1918), Tulkarm, Battle of T ...
in which Allenby's force routed the enemy owing to speed and dexterity of arms. The Canadian units of the
Royal Canadian Dragoons The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) is the senior armoured regiment of the Canadian Army by precedence. It is one of three armoured regiments in the Regular Force and forms part of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps. The colonel-in-chief of The RCD ...
and the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles fought in the First World War in the same role as the Boer War. However, during, and after, the Second World War the regiments swapped their horses for mechanised vehicles. It was also the beginning of types of conflict involving machine guns, shrapnel and observation balloons which were all used extensively in the First World War. To the Canadians however, attrition was the leading cause of death in the second Boer war, with disease being the cause of approximately half of the Canadian deaths. Canadians ended the war with four
Victoria Cross The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for valour "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces and may be awarded posthumously. It was previously ...
es to its soldiers and two more Victoria Crosses were given to Canadian doctors attached to British Medical Corps units, Lieutenant H.E.M. Douglas (1899, Magersfontein) and Lieutenant W.H.S. Nickerson (1900, Wakkerstroom). Not all soldiers saw action since many landed in South Africa after the hostilities ended while others (including the 3rd Special Service Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment) performed garrison duty in Halifax, Nova Scotia so that their British counterparts could join at the front lines. Later on, contingents of Canadians served with the paramilitary South Africa Constabulary. Both sides used a
scorched Earth A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, military vehicles, transport v ...
policy to deprive the marching enemy of food. And both had to corral civilians into makeshift huts by 'concentrating' them into camps. For example, at Buffelspoort, British soldiers were held in captivity in Boer encampments after surrendering their arms, and civilians were often mixed in with service personnel because the Boers did not have the resources to do otherwise. A total of 116,000 women, children and Boer soldiers were confined to the Commonwealth concentration camps, of which at least 28,000, mainly women and children, would die. The lack of food, water, and sanitary provisions was a feature of 20th-century warfare for both civilians and armed services personnel, yet one consequence of the Boer War and investigative commissions was the implementation of The Hague Convention (1899) and Geneva Convention (1904); of which there were many further agreements thereafter.


Views on British tactics

The British saw their tactics of
scorched earth A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, military vehicles, transport v ...
and
concentration camp Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without Criminal charge, charges or Indictment, intent to file charges. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects ...
s as a legitimate way of depriving the Boer guerrillas of supplies and safe havens. The Boers saw them as a British attempt to coerce the Boers into surrender, with the camp inmates – mainly families of Boer fighters – seen as deliberately kept in poor conditions to encourage high death rates. Even in 2019, the controversy around the British tactics continued to make headlines.


Commemorations

The Australian National Boer War Memorial Committee organises events to mark the war on 31 May each year. In
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new nation, it is Australia's largest inland city and the List of citi ...
, a commemorative service is usually held at the Saint John the Baptist Anglican Church in Reid. Floral tributes are laid for the dead.


See also

* Bombardment in the Second Boer War *
British logistics in the Boer War The Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, , 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two Boer ...
*
First Italo–Ethiopian War The First Italo-Ethiopian War, lit. ''Abyssinian War'' was fought between Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Medit ...
* List of Second Boer War Victoria Cross recipients * '' London to Ladysmith via Pretoria'' * Military history of South Africa * Volkstaat


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * cites * * *
excerpt and text search
a standard scholarly history * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
excerpt
*


Historiography

* Krebs, Paula M. ''Gender, Race, and the Writing of Empire: Public Discourse and the Boer War'' (Cambridge UP, 1999
online
* Seibold, Birgit. ''Emily Hobhouse and the Reports on the Concentration Camps during the Boer War, 1899–1902: Two Different Perspectives'' (Columbia UP, 2011). * Van Hartesveldt, Fred R. ''The Boer War: Historiography and Annotated Bibliography'' (Greenwood, 2000
online


Further reading

* – an anthology frequently cited in this article. * Murray, Nicholas (2013). ''The Rocky Road to the Great War: the Evolution of Trench Warfare to 1914.'' Dulles, Virginia, Potomac Books. * – a Boer War bibliography of on-line books. * – detailed official British history *
volume 1maps volume 1
(1906) *
volume 2maps volume 2
(1907) *
volume 3maps volume 3
(1908) *
volume 4maps volume 4
(1910) * * –
Hansard ''Hansard'' is the traditional name of the transcripts of parliamentary debates in Britain and many Commonwealth countries. It is named after Thomas Curson Hansard (1776–1833), a London printer and publisher, who was the first official prin ...
,
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of We ...


External links


Americanhistoryprojects.com: links to books & articles on Second Boer War

Scrapbook of Boer War, MSS P 456
at L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library,
Brigham Young University Brigham Young University (BYU, sometimes referred to colloquially as The Y) is a private research university in Provo, Utah. It was founded in 1875 by religious leader Brigham Young and is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-da ...
{{Authority control 1899 in South Africa 1900 in South Africa 1901 in South Africa 1902 in South Africa 1890s in the South African Republic 1900s in the South African Republic 1890s in Transvaal 1900s in Transvaal Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 Boer War 2 1899 beginnings 1902 endings Canadian Army Canadian Militia