Second Boer War
Overview
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 and the Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

 republics, the South African Republic
South African Republic
The South African Republic , often informally known as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent Boer-ruled country in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century. Not to be confused with the present-day Republic of South Africa, it occupied the area later known as the South African...

 (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

. It ended with a British victory and the annexation of both republics to the British Empire; both would eventually be incorporated into the Union of South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

, a dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 of the British Empire, in 1910. The conflict is commonly referred to as The Boer War but is also known as the South African War outside South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, the Anglo-Boer War among most South Africans, and in Afrikaans as the Anglo-Boereoorlog or Tweede Vryheidsoorlog ("Second War of Liberation" or lit.
Encyclopedia
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 and the Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

 republics, the South African Republic
South African Republic
The South African Republic , often informally known as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent Boer-ruled country in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century. Not to be confused with the present-day Republic of South Africa, it occupied the area later known as the South African...

 (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

. It ended with a British victory and the annexation of both republics to the British Empire; both would eventually be incorporated into the Union of South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

, a dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 of the British Empire, in 1910. The conflict is commonly referred to as The Boer War but is also known as the South African War outside South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, the Anglo-Boer War among most South Africans, and in Afrikaans as the Anglo-Boereoorlog or Tweede Vryheidsoorlog ("Second War of Liberation" or lit. "Second Freedom War") or the Engelse oorlog (English War).

The Second Boer War and the earlier, much less well known, First Boer War
First Boer War
The First Boer War also known as the First Anglo-Boer War or the Transvaal War, was fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881-1877 annexation:...

 (December 1880 to March 1881) are collectively known as the Boer Wars.

Origins

The origins of the war were complex, resulting from over a century of conflict between the Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

s and the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. During the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, a British expedition landed in the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 and defeated the defending Dutch forces at the Battle of Blaauwberg
Battle of Blaauwberg
The Battle of Blaauwberg, also known as the Battle of Cape Town, fought near Cape Town on 8 January 1806, was a small but significant military engagement. It established British rule in South Africa, which was to have many ramifications during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries...

. After the wars, the British formally acquired the colony, and encouraged immigration by British settlers who were largely at odds with the Dutch settlers. Over subsequent decades, many Boers who were dissatisfied with aspects of the British administration elected to migrate away from British rule in what became known as the Great Trek
Great Trek
The Great Trek was an eastward and north-eastward migration away from British control in the Cape Colony during the 1830s and 1840s by Boers . The migrants were descended from settlers from western mainland Europe, most notably from the Netherlands, northwest Germany and French Huguenots...

. The migration was initially along the eastern coast towards Natal and then, after Natal
Colony of Natal
The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on May 4, 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its...

 was annexed in 1843, northwards towards the interior, where two independent Boer republics (the South African Republic, also known as the Transvaal Republic, and the Orange Free State) were established. The British recognised the two Boer republics in 1852 and 1854, but the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 led to the First Boer War
First Boer War
The First Boer War also known as the First Anglo-Boer War or the Transvaal War, was fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881-1877 annexation:...

 in 1880-81. After British defeats, most heavily at the Battle of Majuba Hill
Battle of Majuba Hill
The Battle of Majuba Hill on 27 February 1881 was the main battle of the First Boer War. It was a resounding victory for the Boers. Major-General Sir George Pomeroy Colley occupied the summit of the hill on the night of February 26–27, 1881. His motive for occupying the hill remains unclear...

, the independence of the two republics was restored subject to certain conditions, but relations were uneasy.

In 1871, diamonds had been discovered at Kimberley
Kimberley, Northern Cape
Kimberley is a city in South Africa, and the capital of the Northern Cape. It is located near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. The town has considerable historical significance due its diamond mining past and siege during the Second Boer War...

, prompting a diamond rush and a massive influx of foreigners to the borders of the Orange Free State. Then, gold was discovered in the South African Republic in 1886. Gold made the Transvaal the richest and potentially the most powerful 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 fresh waves of uitlanders (foreigners), mainly from Britain, who came to the Boer region in search of employment and fortune. This resulted in the number of uitlanders in the Transvaal eventually exceeding the number of Boers, and precipitated confrontations between the earlier-arrived Boer settlers and the newer, non-Boer arrivals.

British expansionist ideas (notably propagated by Cecil Rhodes) as well as disputes over uitlander political and economic rights resulted in the failed Jameson Raid
Jameson Raid
The Jameson Raid was a botched raid on Paul Kruger's Transvaal Republic carried out by a British colonial statesman Leander Starr Jameson and his Rhodesian and Bechuanaland policemen over the New Year weekend of 1895–96...

 of 1895. This raid, led by (and named after) Dr. Leander Starr Jameson
Leander Starr Jameson
Sir Leander Starr Jameson, 1st Baronet, KCMG, CB, , also known as "Doctor Jim", "The Doctor" or "Lanner", was a British colonial statesman who was best known for his involvement in the Jameson Raid....

, was intended to encourage an uprising of the uitlanders in Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

. However, the uitlanders did not take up arms to support the raid, and Transvaal government forces surrounded the column and captured Jameson's men before they could reach Johannesburg.

As tensions escalated from the local to the national level, there were political manoeuvrings and lengthy negotiations to reach a compromise over the issues of the rights of the uitlanders within the white community, the rights of the original non-white population, control of the gold mining industry, and the British desire to incorporate the Transvaal and the Orange Free State in a federation under British control. Given that the more recent arrivals (mostly of British origin) already represented a majority of the white community in Johannesburg, and that new uitlanders were continually arriving, the Boers recognised that granting full voting rights to the uitlanders would eventually result in the loss of ethnic Boer control over the South African Republic. The negotiations failed, and in September 1899 British Colonial Secretary
Secretary of State for the Colonies
The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various colonial dependencies....

 Joseph Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain was an influential British politician and statesman. Unlike most major politicians of the time, he was a self-made businessman and had not attended Oxford or Cambridge University....

 sent an ultimatum to the Boers, demanding full equality for those uitlanders resident in the Transvaal. Paul Kruger
Paul Kruger
Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger , better known as Paul Kruger and affectionately known as Uncle Paul was State President of the South African Republic...

, the President of the South African Republic, issued his own ultimatum, giving the British 48 hours to withdraw all their troops from the border of the Transvaal, failing which the Transvaal, allied with the Orange Free State, would declare war against the British. Both sides rejected the others' ultimatums, and the Transvaal and Orange Free State governments declared war.

Phases

The war had three distinct phases. In the first phase, the Boers mounted pre-emptive strikes into British-held territory in Natal and the Cape Colony, besieging
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 the British garrisons of Ladysmith
Siege of Ladysmith
The Siege of Ladysmith was a protracted engagement in the Second Boer War, taking place between 30 October 1899 and 28 February 1900 at Ladysmith, Natal.-Background:...

, Mafeking
Siege of Mafeking
The Siege of Mafeking was the most famous British action in the Second Boer War. It took place at the town of Mafeking in South Africa over a period of 217 days, from October 1899 to May 1900, and turned Robert Baden-Powell, who went on to found the Scouting Movement, into a national hero...

 and Kimberley
Siege of Kimberley
The Siege of Kimberley took place during the Second Boer War at Kimberley, Cape Colony , when Boer forces from the Orange Free State and the Transvaal besieged the diamond mining town. The Boers moved quickly to try to capture the British enclave when war broke out between the British and the two...

. The Boers then won a series of tactical victories at Colenso
Battle of Colenso
The Battle of Colenso was the third and final battle fought during the Black Week of the Second Boer War. It was fought between British and Boer forces from the independent South African Republic and Orange Free State in and around Colenso, Natal, South Africa on 15 December 1899.Inadequate...

, Magersfontein
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 on the borders of the Cape Colony and the independent republic of the Orange Free State...

 and Spionkop against a failed British counteroffensive to relieve the three sieges. In the second phase, after the introduction of greatly increased British troop numbers under the command of Lord Roberts
Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts
Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Bt, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, KStJ, PC was a distinguished Indian born British soldier who regarded himself as Anglo-Irish and one of the most successful British commanders of the 19th century.-Early life:Born at Cawnpore, India, on...

, 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 were able to invade the Transvaal, and the republic's capital, Pretoria
Pretoria
Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.Pretoria is...

, was ultimately captured in June 1900.

In the third and final phase, beginning in March 1900, the Boers launched a protracted hard-fought guerrilla war against the British forces, lasting a further two years, during which the Boers raided targets such as British troop columns, telegraph sites, railways and storage depots. In an effort to cut off supplies to the raiders, the British, now under the leadership of Lord Kitchener
Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener
Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC , was an Irish-born British Field Marshal and proconsul who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War, although he died halfway...

, responded with a scorched earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 policy of destroying Boer farms and moving 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 tens of thousands of 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
Treaty of Vereeniging
The Treaty of Vereeniging was the peace treaty, signed on 31 May 1902, that ended the South African War between the South African Republic and the Republic of the Orange Free State, on the one side, and the British Empire on the other.This settlement provided for the end of hostilities and...

, and under its provisions, the two republics were absorbed into the British Empire, with the promise of limited self-government in the future. This promise was fulfilled with the creation of the Union of South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

 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 (over £200 million), and the bloodiest conflict between 1815 and 1914, lasting three months longer and resulting in higher British casualties than the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 (1853–56).

Background

The southern part of the African continent
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 was dominated in the 19th century by a set of struggles to create within it a single unified state. While the Berlin Conference
Berlin Conference
The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 regulated European colonization and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism period, and coincided with Germany's sudden emergence as an imperial power...

 of 1884-5 sought to draw boundaries between the European powers' African possessions, it also set the stage for further scrambles. The British 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 1868, the British annexed Basutoland
History of Lesotho
The area now known as Lesotho goes back as many as 40,000 years. The present Lesotho emerged as a single polity under paramount chief Moshoeshoe I in 1822...

 in the Drakensberg Mountains
Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to in height. In Zulu, it is referred to as uKhahlamba , and in Sesotho as Maluti...

 following an appeal from Moshesh, the leader of a mixed group of African refugees from the Zulu
Zulu Kingdom
The Zulu Kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Zulu Empire or, rather imprecisely, Zululand, was a monarchy in Southern Africa that extended along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela River in the south to Pongola River in the north....

 wars, who sought British protection against the Boers. In the 1880s, Bechuanaland (modern Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

, located north of the Orange River) became the object of a dispute between the Germans to the west, the Boers to the east, and the British Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 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
Damaraland was a name given to the north-central part of what later became Namibia, inhabited by the Damaras. It was bounded roughly by Ovamboland in the north, the Namib Desert in the west, the Kalahari Desert in the east, and Windhoek in the south....

 and Namaqualand (modern Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

) in 1884, the British annexed Bechuanaland in 1885.

In the First Boer War
First Boer War
The First Boer War also known as the First Anglo-Boer War or the Transvaal War, was fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881-1877 annexation:...

 of 1880-81 the Boers of the Transvaal Republic had proved skillful fighters in resisting the British attempt at annexation, in causing in a series of British defeats. The British government of William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 had been unwilling to become bemired in a distant war, which required substantial troop reinforcement and expense, for what was at the time perceived to be a minimal return. An armistice followed, ending the war, and subsequently a peace treaty was signed with the Transvaal President Paul Kruger
Paul Kruger
Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger , better known as Paul Kruger and affectionately known as Uncle Paul was State President of the South African Republic...

.

However, when, in 1886, a major gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 field was discovered at an outcrop on a large ridge some sixty kilometers south of the Boer capital at Pretoria
Pretoria
Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.Pretoria is...

, it reignited British imperial interests. The ridge, known locally as the "Witwatersrand
Witwatersrand
The Witwatersrand is a low, sedimentary range of hills, at an elevation of 1700–1800 metres above sea-level, which runs in an east-west direction through Gauteng in South Africa. The word in Afrikaans means "the ridge of white waters". Geologically it is complex, but the principal formations...

" (literally "white water ridge"–a watershed) contained the world's largest deposit of gold-bearing ore. Although it was not as rich as gold finds in Canada and Australia, its consistency made it especially well-suited to industrial mining methods. With the 1886 discovery of gold in the Transvaal
South African Republic
The South African Republic , often informally known as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent Boer-ruled country in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century. Not to be confused with the present-day Republic of South Africa, it occupied the area later known as the South African...

, the resulting gold rush
Gold rush
A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers to an area that has had a dramatic discovery of gold. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and the United States, while smaller gold rushes took place elsewhere.In the 19th and early...

 brought thousands of British and other prospectors and settlers from across the globe and over the border from the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 (under British control since 1806).

The city of Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

 sprang up as a shanty town
Shanty town
A shanty town is a slum settlement of impoverished people who live in improvised dwellings made from scrap materials: often plywood, corrugated metal and sheets of plastic...

 nearly overnight as the uitlanders ("foreigners," meaning non-Boer whites) poured in and settled around the mines. The influx was such that the uitlanders quickly outnumbered the Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

s in Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

 and along the Rand, although they remained a minority in the Transvaal as a whole. The Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

s, 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

(a) the established uitlanders including the mining magnates wanted political, social and economic control over their lives and hence rights including a stable constitution, a fair franchise law, an independent judiciary, and a better educational system. The Boers for their part recognized 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;

(b) the uitlanders resented the taxes levied by the Transvaal government, particularly when the money raised was not expended on Johannesburg or uitlander interests but diverted to projects elsewhere in the Transvaal. By way of example, as the gold-bearing ore sloped away from the outcrop underground to the south, more and more blasting was necessary for extraction, 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
Paul Kruger
Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger , better known as Paul Kruger and affectionately known as Uncle Paul was State President of the South African Republic...

 gave monopoly rights for the manufacture of the explosive to a non-British branch of the Nobel company, which infuriated the British. The so-called "dynamite monopoly" became a major pretext for war.

(c) British imperial interests were alarmed when in 1894–95 Kruger proposed building a railway through Portuguese East Africa
Portuguese East Africa
Mozambique or Portuguese East Africa was the common name by which the Portuguese Empire's territorial expansion in East Africa was known across different periods of time...

 to Delagoa Bay
Maputo Bay
Maputo Bay , formerly Delagoa Bay, Baía da Lagoa is an inlet of the Indian Ocean on the coast of Mozambique, between 25° 40' and 26° 20' S, with a length from north to south of over 90 km long and 32 km wide....

, thereby 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, a man driven by a vision of a British controlled Africa extending from Cape to Cairo
Cape to Cairo Road
The Cape to Cairo Road or 'Pan-African Highway', sometimes called the Great North Road in sub-Saharan Africa, was an imperial dream envisioned by the British Empire that would see a road stretch the length of Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo, similar to the Pan-American Highway...

.

Certain self-appointed uitlanders representatives and British mine owners became increasingly angered and frustrated by their dealings with the Transvaal government. A Reform Committee (Transvaal) was formed to represent the uitlanders.

Jameson Raid

In 1895, a plan was hatched with the connivance of the Cape Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes, Johannesburg gold magnate Alfred Beit
Alfred Beit
Alfred Beit was a German, British South African, Jewish gold and diamond magnate, a supporter of British imperialism in Southern Africa and a major donor towards infrastructure development in central and Southern Africa, and to university education and research in several countries.- Life and...

, and Sir Alfred Milner (British High Commissioner for South Africa and Lieutenant Governor of the Cape) to liberate Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

 from the control of the Transvaal government. A column of 600 armed men (mainly made up of his Rhodesia
Rhodesia
Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...

n and Bechuanaland policemen) was led by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson
Leander Starr Jameson
Sir Leander Starr Jameson, 1st Baronet, KCMG, CB, , also known as "Doctor Jim", "The Doctor" or "Lanner", was a British colonial statesman who was best known for his involvement in the Jameson Raid....

 (the Administrator in Rhodesia of the Chartered Company of which Cecil Rhodes was the Chairman) over the border from Bechuanaland towards Johannesburg. The column was equipped with six Maxim machine guns, two 7-pounder mountain guns, and a 12½ pounder field piece. The plan was to make a three-day dash to Johannesburg before the Boer commando
Commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

s could mobilize, and once there, trigger an uprising by the primarily British expatriate workers (uitlanders) organized by the Reform Committee. However, the Transvaal authorities had advance warning of the Jameson Raid
Jameson Raid
The Jameson Raid was a botched raid on Paul Kruger's Transvaal Republic carried out by a British colonial statesman Leander Starr Jameson and his Rhodesian and Bechuanaland policemen over the New Year weekend of 1895–96...

 and tracked it from the moment it crossed the border. Four days later, the weary and dispirited column was surrounded near Krugersdorp 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 resulted in repercussions throughout southern Africa and in Europe. In Rhodesia, the departure of so many policemen enabled the Matabele and Mashona tribes to rise up against the Chartered Company, and the rebellion, known as the Second Matabele War
Second Matabele War
The Second Matabele War, also known as the Matabeleland Rebellion and in Zimbabwe as the First Chimurenga, was fought in 1896–97 between the British troops and the Ndebele people....

, was suppressed only at great cost. A few days after the raid, the German Kaiser sent a telegram ("Kruger telegram
Kruger telegram
The Kruger telegram was a message sent by Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II to Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, president of the Transvaal Republic, on 3 January 1896. The Kaiser congratulated the president on repelling the Jameson Raid, a sortie by 600 British irregulars from Cape Colony into the...

") congratulating President Kruger and the government of the South African Republic on their success, and 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 the British, the Boers found telegrams from Cecil Rhodes and the other plotters in Johannesburg. Joseph Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain was an influential British politician and statesman. Unlike most major politicians of the time, he was a self-made businessman and had not attended Oxford or Cambridge University....

, the British Colonial Secretary, quickly moved to condemn the raid, despite previously having approved Rhodes' plans to send armed assistance in the case of a Johannesburg uprising. Subsequently, Rhodes was severely censured at the Cape inquiry and the London parliamentary inquiry, and forced to resign as Prime Minister of the Cape and as Chairman of the Chartered Company for having sponsored the failed coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

.

The Boer government handed their raid prisoners over to the British for trial. Dr. Jameson was tried in England for leading the raid. However, the British press and London society inflamed by anti-Boer and anti-German feeling and in a frenzy of jingoism, lionized Dr. Jameson and treated him as a hero. Although sentenced to 15 months imprisonment (which he served in Holloway
Holloway (HM Prison)
HM Prison Holloway is a closed category prison for adult women and Young Offenders, located in the Holloway area of the London Borough of Islington, in north and Inner London, England...

), Jameson was later rewarded by being named Prime Minister of the Cape Colony (1904–08) and 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. They were sentenced to death by hanging, but this sentence was later commuted to 15 years' imprisonment, and in June 1896, all surviving members of the Committee were released on payment of some ₤300,000 in fines, all of which was paid by Cecil Rhodes.

Jan C. Smuts wrote in 1906, "The Jameson Raid was the real declaration of war. . . . And that is so in spite of the four years of truce that followed . . .[the] aggressors consolidated their alliance . . . the defenders on the other hand silently and grimly prepared for the inevitable."

Escalation and war

The Jameson Raid alienated many Cape Afrikaners from the British, 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
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

 (led by President Martinus Theunis Steyn
Martinus Theunis Steyn
Martinus Theunis Steyn was a South African lawyer, politician, and statesman, sixth and last president of the independent Orange Free State from 1896 to 1902....

) together in opposition to perceived British imperialism. In 1897, a military pact was concluded between the two republics. President Paul Kruger
Paul Kruger
Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger , better known as Paul Kruger and affectionately known as Uncle Paul was State President of the South African Republic...

 proceeded to re-equip the Transvaal army, and imported 37,000 of the latest magazine Mauser rifles, and some 40 to 50 million rounds of ammunition. The best modern European artillery was also purchased. By October 1899 the Transvaal State Artillery had 73 guns, 59 of them new, including four 155-mm Creusot fortress guns, and 25 37mm Maxim Nordenfeldt guns. The Transvaal army had been 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; the impossible dilemma continued, namely how to make concessions to the uitlanders without surrendering the independence of the Transvaal.

The failure to gain improved rights for uitlanders became a pretext for war and a justification for a major military buildup in the Cape Colony. The case for war was developed and espoused as far away as the Australian colonies. Several key British colonial leaders favored annexation of the independent Boer republics. These figures included Cape Colony Governor Sir Alfred Milner, Cape Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes, British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain was an influential British politician and statesman. Unlike most major politicians of the time, he was a self-made businessman and had not attended Oxford or Cambridge University....

, and mining syndicate owners or Randlord
Randlord
Randlord is a term used to denote the entrepreneurs who controlled the diamond and gold mining industries in South Africa in its pioneer phase from the 1870s up to World War I....

s (nicknamed the gold bugs), such as Alfred Beit
Alfred Beit
Alfred Beit was a German, British South African, Jewish gold and diamond magnate, a supporter of British imperialism in Southern Africa and a major donor towards infrastructure development in central and Southern Africa, and to university education and research in several countries.- Life and...

, Barney Barnato
Barney Barnato
Barney Barnato , born Barnet Isaacs, was a British Randlord, one of the entrepreneurs who gained control of diamond mining, and later gold mining, in South Africa from the 1870s.-Background:...

, and Lionel Phillips
Lionel Phillips
Sir Lionel Phillips, 1st Baronet was a South African mining magnate and politician.-Early life:Phillips was born in London on 6 August 1855 to a family of lower middle-class merchants, who formed part of a growing group of Jews set to play a major role in the commerce and politics of...

. Confident that the Boers would be quickly defeated, they planned and organized a short war, citing the uitlanders' grievances as the motivation for the conflict.

Their influence with the British government was, however, limited. Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister, despised jingoism and jingoists. He also distrusted the abilities of the British army. Yet he led Britain into war for three main reasons: because he believed the British government had an obligation to British South Africans; because he thought that the Transvaal, the Orange Free State, and the Cape Boers aspired to a Dutch South Africa, and that the achievement of such a state would damage Britain's imperial prestige around the world; and because of the Boers' treatment of black South Africans. (Salisbury had referred to the London Convention of 1884, after the British defeat, as an agreement 'really in the interest of slavery'.) Salisbury was not alone in this concern over the treatment of black South Africans; Roger Casement
Roger Casement
Roger David Casement —Sir Roger Casement CMG between 1911 and shortly before his execution for treason, when he was stripped of his British honours—was an Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary, and nationalist....

, 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 treatment of black Africans. These liberal concerns were essentially used as a bargaining chip in negotiating the Boers' surrender; in agreeing to the final peace terms, no account was given of the rights or obligations owed to the black Africans by the British.

Given this sense of caution among key members of the British cabinet and of the army, it is even harder to understand why the British government went against the advice of its generals (such as Wolsely) to send substantial reinforcements to South Africa before war broke out. One strong argument is that Lansdowne, Secretary of State for War, did not believe the Boers were preparing for war, and also believed that if Britain were to send large numbers of troops, it would strike too aggressive a posture and so prevent a negotiated settlement being reached or even encourage a Boer attack.

President Steyn of the Orange Free State invited Milner and Kruger to attend a conference in Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...

 which started on 30 May 1899, but negotiations quickly broke down, despite Kruger's offer of concessions. In September 1899, Chamberlain sent an ultimatum demanding full equality for British citizens resident in Transvaal. Kruger, seeing that war was inevitable, simultaneously issued his own ultimatum prior to receiving Chamberlain's. This gave the British 48 hours to withdraw all their troops from the border of Transvaal; otherwise the Transvaal, allied with the Orange Free State, would declare war.

News of the ultimatum reached London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 on the day it expired. Outrage and laughter were the main responses. The editor of the Times 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.' The Globe denounced this 'trumpery little state.' Most editorials were similar to the Daily Telegraph',' 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 from 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, the Prime Minister, had had to explain to a surprised Queen Victoria that: 'We have no army capable of meeting even a second-class Continental Power.'

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

War was declared on 11 October 1899 with a Boer offensive into the British-held Natal and Cape Colony areas. The Boers had no problems with mobilization, since the fiercely independent Boers had no regular army units, apart from the Staatsartillerie (Afrikaans for 'States Artillery') of both republics. As with the First Boer War, since the Boers were civilian militia, each man wore what he wished, usually his everyday dark-gray, light-gray, neutral-colored, or earthtone khaki farming clothes—often a jacket, trousers and slouch hat. Only the members of the Staatsartillerie wore light green uniforms. When danger loomed, all the burghers (citizens) in a district would form a military unit called a commando and would elect officers. A full-time official titled 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. (See also the arms procurement mentioned above.) The Presidents of the Transvaal and Orange Free State simply signed decrees to concentrate within a week and the Commandos could muster between 30,000-40,000 men.

The average Boer nevertheless was not thirsty for war. Many did not look forward to fighting against fellow Christians 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 won as easily as in the First South African 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 had to depend on the pot on their horse and their rifle and were skilled stalkers and marksmen. As hunters they had learned to fire from cover, from a prone position 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, and they practiced shooting at targets such as hens' eggs perched on posts 100 metres (109.4 yd) away. They made expert mounted infantry, using every scrap of cover, from which they could pour in a destructive fire using their modern, smokeless, Mauser
Mauser
Mauser was a German arms manufacturer of a line of bolt-action rifles and pistols from the 1870s to 1995. Mauser designs were built for the German armed forces...

 rifles. Furthermore, in preparation for hostilities, the Boers had acquired around one hundred of the latest Krupp
Krupp
The Krupp family , a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th...

 field guns, all horse-drawn and dispersed among the various Commando groups, and several Le Creusot
Le Creusot
Le Creusot is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France.The inhabitants are known as Creusotins. Formerly a mining town, its economy is now dominated by metallurgical companies such as ArcelorMittal, Schneider Electric, and Alstom.Since the 1990s, the...

 "Long Tom" siege guns. The Boers' skill in adapting themselves to becoming first-rate artillerymen shows them to have been a versatile adversary. The Transvaal also had an intelligence service that stretched across South Africa, and of whose extent and efficiency the British were unaware.

The Boers struck first on 12 October at Kraaipan
Battle of Kraaipan
The Battle of Kraaipan was the first engagement of the Second Anglo-Boer War, fought at Kraaipan, South Africa on 12 October 1899.On 12 October 1899 President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic in alliance with the Orange Free State declared war on the British...

, an attack that heralded the invasion of the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 and Colony of Natal
Colony of Natal
The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on May 4, 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its...

 between October 1899 and January 1900. With elements of both speed and surprise the Boer drove quickly towards the major British garrison at Ladysmith and the smaller ones at Mafeking and Kimberley. The quick Boer mobilization resulted in early military successes against the scattered British forces.

Sir George Stuart White, commanding the British division at Ladysmith, had unwisely allowed Major-General Penn Symons
Penn Symons
Major-General Sir William Penn Symons KCB was a British Army officer who was mortally wounded as he commanded his forces at the Battle of Talana Hill during the Second Boer War. Whilst his forces won the battle they had to abandon their position and fall back to Ladysmith. Symons and the more...

 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
Battle of Talana Hill
The Battle of Talana Hill, also known as the Battle of Glencoe, was the first major clash of the Second Boer War. A frontal attack by British infantry supported by artillery drove Boers from a hilltop position, but the British suffered heavy casualties in the process, including their commanding...

. 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, but at the cost of 446 British casualties including Penn-Symons himself.

Another Boer force had occupied Elandslaagte which lay between Ladysmith and Dundee. The British under Major General John French
John French, 1st Earl of Ypres
Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, KP, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCMG, ADC, PC , known as The Viscount French between 1916 and 1922, was a British and Anglo-Irish officer...

 and Colonel Ian Hamilton
Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton
General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton GCB GCMG DSO TD was a general in the British Army and is most notably for commanding the ill-fated Mediterranean Expeditionary Force during the Battle of Gallipoli....

 attacked to clear the line of communications to Dundee. The resulting Battle of Elandslaagte
Battle of Elandslaagte
The Battle of Elandslaagte was a battle of the Second Boer War, and one of the few clear-cut tactical victories won by the British during that conflict...

 was a clear-cut British tactical victory, but Sir George White feared that more Boers were about to attack his main position and 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 the Boer artillery positions. The result was a disaster, with 140 men killed and over 1,000 captured. The Siege of Ladysmith
Siege of Ladysmith
The Siege of Ladysmith was a protracted engagement in the Second Boer War, taking place between 30 October 1899 and 28 February 1900 at Ladysmith, Natal.-Background:...

 began, and was to last several months.

Meanwhile to the north-west at Mafeking, on the border with Transvaal, Colonel Robert Baden-Powell
Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell
Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, Bt, OM, GCMG, GCVO, KCB , also known as B-P or Lord Baden-Powell, was a lieutenant-general in the British Army, writer, and founder of the Scout Movement....

 had raised two regiments of local forces amounting to some 1,200 men in order to attack and create diversions if things further south went amiss. Mafeking, being a railway junction, 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 and Mafeking were forced to defend when 6,000 Boer, commanded by Piet Cronje, attempted a determined assault on the town. But this quickly subsided into a desultory affair with the Boers prepared to starve the stronghold into submission, and so, on 13 October, began the 217-day Siege of Mafeking
Siege of Mafeking
The Siege of Mafeking was the most famous British action in the Second Boer War. It took place at the town of Mafeking in South Africa over a period of 217 days, from October 1899 to May 1900, and turned Robert Baden-Powell, who went on to found the Scouting Movement, into a national hero...

.

Lastly, over 360 kilometres (223.7 mi) to the south of Mafeking lay the diamond mining city of Kimberley, which was also subjected to a siege
Siege of Kimberley
The Siege of Kimberley took place during the Second Boer War at Kimberley, Cape Colony , when Boer forces from the Orange Free State and the Transvaal besieged the diamond mining town. The Boers moved quickly to try to capture the British enclave when war broke out between the British and the two...

. Although not militarily significant, it nonetheless represented an enclave of British imperialism on the borders of the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

 and was hence an important Boer objective. From 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 as the town was well-stocked with provisions. The garrison was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kekewich
Robert Kekewich
Major General Robert George Kekewich CB was a Victorian era British Army officer.Kekewich was the second son of Trehawke Kekewich, of Peamore House, near Exeter, Devon, and the grandson of Samuel Trehawke Kekewich...

, although Cecil Rhodes was also a prominent figure in the defense.

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
Sol Plaatje
Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje was a South African intellectual, journalist, linguist, politician, translator, and writer. The Sol Plaatje Local Municipality, which includes the city of Kimberley, was named after him.-Early life:...

 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
Big Hole
The Big Hole, Open Mine or Kimberley Mine is an open-pit and underground mine in Kimberley, South Africa, and claimed to be the largest hole excavated by hand.-History:...

 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 distress of the civilians. The most well-heeled of the townspeople, such as Cecil Rhodes, sheltered in the Sanatorium, site of the present-day McGregor Museum
McGregor Museum
The McGregor Museum in Kimberley, South Africa, originally known as the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum, is a province-aided museum established in 1907.- Overview :...

; the poorer residents, notably the black population, did not have any shelter from the shelling.

In retrospect, the Boer decision to commit themselves to sieges (Sitzkrieg) was a mistake, and one of the best illustrations of the Boers' lack of strategic vision. Historically, it had little in its favor. Of the seven sieges in the First Boer War, the Boers had won none. More importantly, it handed the initiative back to the British and allowed them time to recover, which they then 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

It was at this point that General Sir Redvers Henry Buller, a much respected commander, arrived in South Africa with major British reinforcements (including an army corps of three divisions). Buller originally intended an offensive straight up the railway line leading from Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

 through Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...

 to Pretoria
Pretoria
Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.Pretoria is...

. Finding on arrival that the British troops already in South Africa were under siege, he split his army corps into several widely spread 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
William Forbes Gatacre
Lieutenant General Sir William Forbes Gatacre KCB, DSO was a British soldier, born near Stirling, and educated at Royal Military College Sandhurst. He entered the army in 1862 and retired in 1904, after serving in various conflicts....

, was to push north toward the railway junction at Stormberg, to secure the Cape Midlands district from Boer raids and local rebellions by Boer inhabitants. Finally, Buller himself would lead 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 at Belmont
Battle of Belmont (1899)
The Battle of Belmont is the name of an engagement of the Second Boer War near the town of Belmont, 23 November 1899, where the British under Lord Methuen assaulted a Boer position on a kopje....

 on 23 November, at Graspan on 25 November, and at a larger conflict, Modder River
Battle of Modder River
The Battle of Modder River was an engagement in the Boer War, fought at Modder River, on 28 November 1899...

 on 28 November resulting in British losses of 71 dead and over 400 wounded. British commanders had trained on the lessons of the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, and were adept at battalion and regimental set pieces with columns maneuvering in jungles, deserts and mountainous regions. What they entirely failed to comprehend, however, was both the impact of destructive fire from trench positions and the mobility of cavalry raids, both of which had been developed in the American Civil War. 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 innovative tactics.

The middle of December was disastrous for the British army. In a period known as Black Week
Black Week
In one disastrous week, dubbed Black Week, from 10-17 December 1899, the British Army suffered three devastating defeats by the Boer Republics at the battles of Stormberg , Magersfontein and Colenso , with 2,776 men killed, wounded and captured...

 (10 – 15 December 1899), the British suffered a series of losses on each of the three major fronts.

On 10 December, General Gatacre tried to recapture Stormberg railway junction about 50 miles (80 km) south of the Orange River
Orange River
The Orange River , Gariep River, Groote River or Senqu River is the longest river in South Africa. It rises in the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho, flowing westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean...

. Gatacre's attack was marked by administrative and tactical blunders, and the Battle of Stormberg
Battle of Stormberg
The Battle of Stormberg was the first British defeat of Black Week, in which three successive British forces were defeated by Boer irregulars in the Second Boer War.-Background:...

 ended in a British defeat, with 135 killed and wounded, and two guns and over 600 troops captured.

At the Battle of Magersfontein
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 on the borders of the Cape Colony and the independent republic of the Orange Free State...

 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
Highland Brigade (Scottish)
The Highland Brigade is a historical unit of the British Army, which has been formed a number of times. It recruited men from the Highlands of Scotland.-Crimean War:...

 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
Koos de la Rey
General Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey , known as Koos de la Rey, was a Boer general during the Second Boer War and is widely regarded as being one of the strongest military leaders during that conflict....

 and Piet Cronje
Piet Cronje
Pieter Arnoldus Cronjé, commonly known as Piet Cronjé was a general of the South African Republic's military forces during the Anglo-Boer wars of 1880-1881 and 1899-1902....

, had ordered trench
Trench
A trench is a type of excavation or depression in the ground. Trenches are generally defined by being deeper than they are wide , and by being narrow compared to their length ....

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 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 encapsulated the soldiers' view of the defeat:


"Such was the day for our regiment
Dread the revenge we will take.
Dearly we paid for the blunder -
A drawing-room General’s mistake.
Why weren’t we told of the trenches?
Why weren’t we told of the wire?
Why were we marched up in column,
May Tommy Atkins
Tommy Atkins
Tommy Atkins is a term for a common soldier in the British Army that was already well established in the 19th century, but is particularly associated with World War I. It can be used as a term of reference, or as a form of address. German soldiers would call out to "Tommy" across no man's land if...

 enquire…."


However, the nadir
Nadir
The nadir 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 there. Since the concept of being below is itself somewhat vague, scientists define the nadir in more rigorous...

 of Black Week
Black Week
In one disastrous week, dubbed Black Week, from 10-17 December 1899, the British Army suffered three devastating defeats by the Boer Republics at the battles of Stormberg , Magersfontein and Colenso , with 2,776 men killed, wounded and captured...

 was the Battle of Colenso
Battle of Colenso
The Battle of Colenso was the third and final battle fought during the Black Week of the Second Boer War. It was fought between British and Boer forces from the independent South African Republic and Orange Free State in and around Colenso, Natal, South Africa on 15 December 1899.Inadequate...

 on 15 December where 21,000 British troops commanded by Buller himself, attempted to cross the Tugela River
Tugela River
The Tugela River is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. The river originates in the Drakensberg Mountains, Mont-aux-Sources, and plunges 947 metres down the Tugela Falls...

 to relieve Ladysmith where 8,000 Transvaal Boers, under the command of Louis Botha
Louis Botha
Louis Botha was an Afrikaner and first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa—the forerunner of the modern South African state...

, were awaiting them. Through a combination of artillery and accurate rifle fire, and a 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. The Boers suffered 40 casualties, including only 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 waiting for these reinforcements, Buller made another bid to relieve Ladysmith by crossing the Tugela west of Colenso
Colenso, KwaZulu-Natal
Colenso is a town in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is located on the southern bank of the Tugela River. The original settlement was contained within a loop on the river, but it subsequently expanded southwards and eastwards...

. Buller's subordinate, Major General Charles Warren
Charles Warren
General Sir Charles Warren, GCMG, KCB, FRS was an officer in the British Royal Engineers. He was one of the earliest European archaeologists of Biblical Holy Land, and particularly of Temple Mount...

, successfully crossed the river, but was then faced with a fresh defensive position centered on a prominent hill known as Spion Kop. In the resulting Battle of Spion Kop
Battle of Spion Kop
The Battle of Spion Kop was fought about west-south-west of Ladysmith on the hilltop of Spioenkop along the Tugela River, Natal in South Africa from 23–24 January 1900...

, British troops captured the summit by surprise during the early hours of 24 January 1900, but as the early morning fog lifted they realized 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 back across the Tugela River into British territory. There were nearly 300 Boer casualties.

Buller attacked Louis Botha again on 5 February at Vaal Krantz
Battle of Vaal Krantz
The Battle of Vaal Krantz was the third failed attempt by General Redvers Buller's British army to fight its way past Louis Botha's army of Boer irregulars and lift the Siege of Ladysmith...

 and was again defeated. Buller withdrew early when it appeared that the British would be isolated in an exposed bridgehead across the Tugela, and was nicknamed "Sir Reverse" by some of his officers.

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
Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts
Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Bt, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, KStJ, PC was a distinguished Indian born British soldier who regarded himself as Anglo-Irish and one of the most successful British commanders of the 19th century.-Early life:Born at Cawnpore, India, on...

. 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
Orange River
The Orange River , Gariep River, Groote River or Senqu River is the longest river in South Africa. It rises in the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho, flowing westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean...

 and along the Western Railway behind Methuen's force at the Modder River
Modder River
The Modder River is a river in South Africa that forms part of the border between the Northern Cape and the Free State provinces.Modder River may also refer to:* Modder River, Northern Cape - A small town in the Northern Cape....

, 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
Colesberg is a town with 17,354 inhabitants in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, located on the main road from Cape Town to Johannesburg....

. 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 Cronje's army.

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
John French, 1st Earl of Ypres
Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, KP, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCMG, ADC, PC , known as The Viscount French between 1916 and 1922, was a British and Anglo-Irish officer...

 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 Cronje’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 30-mile drive towards Paardeberg where Cronje was attempting to cross the Modder River. At the Battle of Paardeberg
Battle of Paardeberg
The Battle of Paardeberg or Perdeberg 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....

 from 18 February to 27 February, Roberts then surrounded General Piet Cronje
Piet Cronje
Pieter Arnoldus Cronjé, commonly known as Piet Cronjé was a general of the South African Republic's military forces during the Anglo-Boer wars of 1880-1881 and 1899-1902....

'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 easily repulsed by the Boers. Finally, Roberts resorted to bombarding Cronje into submission, but it took a further ten precious days and with the British troops using the polluted Modder River as water supply, resulting in a typhoid epidemic killing many troops. General Cronje was forced to surrender at Surrender Hill with 4000 men.

In Natal, the Battle of the Tugela Heights
Battle of the Tugela Heights
The Battle of Tugela Heights, consisted of a series of military actions lasting from 14 February through 27 February 1900 in which General Sir Redvers Buller's British army forced Louis Botha's Boer army to lift the Siege of Ladysmith during the Second Boer War.-Background:Buller's army had made...

 which started on 14 February was Buller's fourth attempt to relieve Ladysmith. 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, and defeated Botha's outnumbered forces north of Colenso. After a siege lasting 118 days, the Relief of Ladysmith
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, Kimberley and Mafeking...

 was effected, the day after Cronje surrendered, but at a total cost of 7,000 British casualties.

After a succession of defeats, the Boers realized that against such overwhelming superiority of troops, they had little chance of defeating the British and so became demoralized. Roberts then advanced into the Orange Free State from the west, putting the Boers to flight at the Battle of Poplar Grove
Battle of Poplar Grove
The Battle of Poplar Grove on 7 March 1900 followed on from the Relief of Kimberley during the Second Boer War as the British army moved to take the Boer capital of Bloemfontein. The Boers were demoralised following the surrender of Piet Cronje at the Battle of Paardeberg...

 and capturing Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...

, the capital, unopposed on 13 March with the Boer defenders escaping and scattering. Meanwhile, he detached a small force to relieve Baden-Powell, and the Relief of Mafeking on 18 May 1900 provoked riotous celebrations in Britain.

On 28 May, the Orange Free State was annexed and renamed the Orange River Colony.

After being forced to delay for several weeks at Bloemfontein due to a shortage of supplies and enteric fever (caused by poor hygiene, drinking bad water at Paardeburg and appalling medical care), Roberts 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
Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.Pretoria is...

, 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 the Boers abandoned Pretoria without a fight).

This allowed the Roberts to declare the war over, having won the principal cities and so, on the 3 September 1900, 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
Kroonstad is the third-largest town in the Free State province of South Africa, and lies two hours drive from Gauteng. In the 1991 census it had a population of 110,963...

, and planned a guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 campaign to hit the British supply and communication lines. The first engagement of this new form of warfare was at Sanna's Post
Sanna's Post
-References:* Three Years War, by Christiaan Rudolf De Wet, 1st American Edition, published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1902* The Great Boer War, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, originally published in 1902; republished by IndyPublish.com in 2002, ISBN 1-4043-0472-X* Goodbye Dolly Gray: The Story of...

 on 31 March where 1,500 Boers under the command of Christiaan De Wet
Christiaan De Wet
Christiaan Rudolf de Wet was a Boer general, rebel leader and politician.He was born on the Leeuwkop farm, in the district of Smithfield in the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State...

 attacked Bloemfontein's waterworks about 23 miles (37 km) east of the city, and ambushed a heavily escorted convoy which resulted in 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
Battle of Diamond Hill
The Battle of Diamond Hill took place on 11 and 12 June 1900 during the Second Boer War. Fourteen thousand British soldiers squared up against four thousand Boers and forced them from their positions on the hill....

 on 11 – 12 June, where Roberts attempted to drive the remnants of the Boer field army beyond striking distance of Pretoria. Although Roberts drove the Boers from the hill, the Boer commander, Louis Botha, did not regard it as a defeat, for he inflicted more casualties on the British (totalling 162 men) while suffering around 50 casualties.

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
Battle of Bergendal
The Battle of Bergendal was the last set-piece battle of the Second Anglo-Boer War. It lasted from 21–27 August 1900 and took place on the farm Bergendal near the town of Belfast...

 on 26 August. As Roberts and Buller followed up along the railway line to Komatipoort
Komatipoort
Komatipoort is a town situated at the confluence of the Crocodile and Komati Rivers in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. The town is 8km from the Crocodile Bridge Gate into the Kruger Park, and just 5km from the Mozambique border and 65km from the Swazi border. It is a small, quiet town with some...

, Kruger sought asylum in Portuguese East Africa (modern Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

). 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
Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to in height. In Zulu, it is referred to as uKhahlamba , and in Sesotho as Maluti...

 mountains into the Transvaal highveld after riding north through the bushveld. Under the new conditions of the war, heavy equipment was no use to them, and therefore no great loss.

As Roberts's army occupied Pretoria
Pretoria
Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.Pretoria is...

, the Boer fighters in the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

 had been driven into a fertile area known as the Brandwater Basin 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
Archibald Hunter
General Sir Archibald Hunter GCB GCVO DSO was a General in the British Army who distinguished himself during the Boer War...

 set out from Bloemfontein to achieve this in July 1900. The hard core of the Free State Boers under Christiaan De Wet
Christiaan De Wet
Christiaan Rudolf de Wet was a Boer general, rebel leader and politician.He was born on the Leeuwkop farm, in the district of Smithfield in the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State...

, 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 Robert'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 the Transvaal leaders.

There was much sympathy for the Boers on mainland Europe and in October, President Kruger and members of the Transvaal government left Portuguese East Africa on the Dutch warship De Gelderland
De Gelderland
HNLMS Gelderland was a Dutch warship. During its career in the Dutch Navy it was most notable for being the ship Queen Wilhelmina sent to South Africa to rescue Paul Kruger during the Second Boer War. The ship was taken over by the Germans during World War II and renamed Niobe...

, sent by the Queen of the Netherlands Wilhelmina
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Wilhelmina was Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948. She ruled the Netherlands for fifty-eight years, longer than any other Dutch monarch. Her reign saw World War I and World War II, the economic crisis of 1933, and the decline of the Netherlands as a major colonial...

, who had simply ignored the British naval blockade of South Africa. 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
Clarens, Switzerland
Clarens is a small village in the municipality of Montreux, in the canton of Vaud, in Switzerland.Whilst in Clarens, the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky wrote his ballets The Rite of Spring and Pulcinella and in March 1878, Tchaikovsky wrote his Violin Concerto.Paul Kruger, hero of South African...

, Switzerland, where he died in exile on 14 July 1904.

POWs sent overseas

The first sizable batch of Boer prisoners of war taken by the British consisted of those captured at the Battle of Elandslaagte
Battle of Elandslaagte
The Battle of Elandslaagte was a battle of the Second Boer War, and one of the few clear-cut tactical victories won by the British during that conflict...

 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 realize 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
Saint Helena , named after St Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha which also includes Ascension Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha...

, which ultimately received about 5,000 POWs. About 5,000 POWs were sent to Ceylon
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. Other POWs were sent to Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

 and India. No evidence exists of Boer POWs being sent to the Dominions of the British Empire such as Australia, Canada or New Zealand.

In all, about 26,000 POWs were sent overseas.

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 which their columns physically occupied. The Boer commanders adopted guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 tactics, primarily conducting raids
Raid (military)
Raid, also known as depredation, is a military tactic or operational warfare mission which has a specific purpose and is not normally intended to capture and hold terrain, but instead finish with the raiding force quickly retreating to a previous defended position prior to the enemy forces being...

 against infrastructure, resource and supply targets, all aimed at disrupting the operational capacity of the British army.

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 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
Imperial Yeomanry
The Imperial Yeomanry was a British volunteer cavalry regiment that mainly saw action during the Second Boer War. Officially created on 24 December 1899, the regiment was based on members of standing Yeomanry regiments, but also contained a large contingent of mid-upper class English volunteers. In...

 and locally-raised irregular corps.

From late May 1900, the first successes of the Boer 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 mauled a British brigade at Nooitgedacht
Battle of Nooitgedacht
In the Battle of Nooitgedacht on 13 December 1900, Boer commandos led by Generals Koos de la Rey and Christiaan Beyers combined to deal a defeat to a British brigade under the command of Major General R. A. P. Clements during the Second Boer War.-Background:...

. As a result of these and other Boer successes, the British, led by Lord Kitchener, mounted three extensive searches for De Wet, but without success. However, by its very nature the guerrilla war was sporadic, poorly planned and with little overall objective in mind except to harass the British. This led to a disorganized pattern of scattered engagements throughout the region.

British response

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 armored trains and had established fortified blockhouses at key points. They now built additional blockhouses (each housing 6-8 soldiers) and fortified these to protect supply routes against Boer raiders
Raid (military)
Raid, also known as depredation, is a military tactic or operational warfare mission which has a specific purpose and is not normally intended to capture and hold terrain, but instead finish with the raiding force quickly retreating to a previous defended position prior to the enemy forces being...

. Eventually some 8,000 such blockhouses were built across the two South African republics, radiating from the larger towns. Each blockhouse cost between £800 to £1,000 and took about three months to build. However, they proved very effective. Not one bridge where one of these blockhouses was sited and manned was blown.

The blockhouse system required an enormous number of troops to maintain. 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.

The British also implemented a "scorched earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

" 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 and harder for the Boers to survive. As British troops swept the countryside, they systematically destroyed crops, burned homesteads and farms, poisoned wells, and interned Boer and African 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 Cronje, the National Scouts were despised as hensoppers (collaborators) but came to number a fifth of the fighting Afrikaners by the end of the War.

The British utilized armored 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.

The Orange Free State

After having conferred with the Transvaal leaders, 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
Battle of Bothaville
The Battle of Bothaville on 6 November 1900 was a rare defeat of Christiaan de Wet's Boer commando at the hands of a force of British Mounted Infantry .-Battle:...

 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
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

. 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
Orange River
The Orange River , Gariep River, Groote River or Senqu River is the longest river in South Africa. It rises in the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho, flowing westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean...

.

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
Battle of Groenkop
In the Battle of Groenkop on 25 December 1901, Head Commandant Christiaan de Wet's Boer commando surprised and defeated a force of Imperial Yeomanry under the command of Major Williams.-Background:...

, 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
Koos de la Rey
General Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey , known as Koos de la Rey, was a Boer general during the Second Boer War and is widely regarded as being one of the strongest military leaders during that conflict....

’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 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
Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener
Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC , was an Irish-born British Field Marshal and proconsul who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War, although he died halfway...

, 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
Battle of Tweebosch
In the Battle of Tweebosch or De Klipdrift on 7 March 1902, a Boer commando led by Koos de la Rey defeated a British column under the command of Lieutenant General Lord Methuen during the final months of the Second Boer War.-Background:...

. 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
Battle of Rooiwal
The Battle of Rooiwal was an engagement of the Second Boer War. It took place on 11 April 1902 and resulted in a victory by a British force commanded by Colonel Robert Kekewich over a Boer commando led by Generals Ferdinandus Jacobus Potgieter and Jan Kemp....

, where a commando led by General Jan Kemp
Jan Kemp (South African)
Jan Christoffel Greyling Kemp was a South African Boer officer, rebel general and South African politician.-Early life:...

 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
Battle of Blood River Poort
In the Battle of Blood River Poort or Scheeper's Nek on 17 September 1901 a Boer commando led by Louis Botha crushed a British force commanded by Major Hubert Gough during the Second Boer War.-Background:...

 near Dundee
Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal
The coal mining town of Dundee is situated in a valley of the Biggarsberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa . It is part of the Endumeni Local Municipality, Umzinyathi District. It is rich in coal deposits...

, Botha was forced to withdraw by heavy rains which 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
Battle of Bakenlaagte
The Battle of Bakenlaagte occurred on 30 October 1901 during the guerrilla phase of Anglo-Boer war of 1899–1902. The battle saw the Eastern Transvaal Boer commandos of Generals Grobler, Brits, Viljoen and Louis Botha attack the rear guard of Colonel Benson's much feared No 3 Flying Column while it...

, 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 and ruthless 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
Swaziland
Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Swaziland , and sometimes called Ngwane or Swatini, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique...

.

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
Lydenburg is a town in Mpumalanga, South Africa. The town is slated to be renamed Mashishing, according to an announcement made on June 30, 2006 by the South African Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan. Lydenburg is situated on the Sterkspruit/Dorps River tributary of the Olifants River at...

 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 which discouraged the Cape Boers from siding with the Boer republics. Nevertheless, there was widespread pro-Boer sympathy.

After he escaped across the Orange in March 1901, De Wet had left forces under Cape rebels Kritzinger
Pieter Hendrik Kritzinger
Pieter Hendrik Kritzinger , was a Boer general and guerrilla commander during the Second Boer War....

 and 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 sympathizers. In one of many skirmishes, Commandant Lotter's small commando was tracked down by a much-superior British column and wiped out at Groenkloof
Battle of Groenkloof
In the Battle of Groenkloof on 5 September 1901, a British column under Colonel Harry Scobell defeated and captured a small Boer commando led by Commandant Lotter in the Cape Colony during the Second Boer War.-Background:...

. 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. Since the Cape Colony was Imperial territory, its authorities forbade the British army to burn farms or to force Boers into concentration camps.

Fresh Boer forces under Jan Christiaan Smuts, 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
Battle of Elands River
In the Battle of Elands River or Modderfontein on 17 September 1901 during the Second Boer War, a Boer raiding force under Jan Smuts destroyed a British cavalry company led by Captain Sandeman, a cousin of Winston Churchill, on the farm Modderfontein.-Background:After a year of guerilla war, the...

 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
Manie Maritz
Manie Maritz was a Boer General during the Second Boer War and a leading rebel of the 1914 Boer Revolt.Maritz was born in Kimberly and christened Salmon Gerhardus Maritz and also known as Gerrit Maritz....

 was implicated in the Leliefontein massacre
Leliefontein massacre
The Leliefontein massacre occurred at the Leliefontein mission station in the Northern Cape, South Africa on 31 January 1902. Boer leader Manie Maritz executed 35 indigenous inhabitants of the settlement as punishment for attacking his party when he went to interview the European missionaries in...

 in the far Northern Cape
Northern Cape
The Northern Cape is the largest and most sparsely populated province of South Africa. It was created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. Its capital is Kimberley. It includes the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, part of an international park shared with Botswana...

.

Surgery and medicine during the war

More than half of British casualties during the war were caused by illness, especially typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

, rather than enemy action.

Concentration camps (1900 - 1902)

The term "concentration camp" was first used to describe camps operated by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in South Africa during this conflict.

The camps had originally been set up by the British army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 as "refugee camps" to provide refuge for civilian families who had been forced to abandon their homes for whatever reason related to the war. However, when Kitchener
Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener
Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC , was an Irish-born British Field Marshal and proconsul who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War, although he died halfway...

 succeeded Roberts as commander-in-chief in South Africa on 29 November 1900, the British army introduced new tactics in an attempt to break the guerrilla campaign and the influx of civilians grew dramatically as a result. Kitchener initiated plans to

flush out guerrillas in a series of systematic drives, organized like a sporting shoot, with success defined in a weekly 'bag' of killed, captured and wounded, and to sweep the country bare of everything that could give sustenance to the guerrillas, including women and children.... It was the clearance of civilians—uprooting a whole nation—that would come to dominate the last phase of the war.

As Boer farms were destroyed by the British under their "Scorched Earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

" policy—including the systematic destruction of crops and slaughtering of livestock, the burning down of homesteads and farms, and the poisoning of wells and salting of fields—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. The Spanish had used internment in the Ten Years' War
Ten Years' War
The Ten Years' War , also known as the Great War and the War of '68, began on October 10, 1868 when sugar mill owner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and his followers proclaimed Cuba's independence from Spain...

 that led to the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

, and the United States had used them to devastate guerrilla forces during the Philippine-American War
Philippine-American War
The Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection , was an armed conflict between a group of Filipino revolutionaries and the United States which arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following...

. But the Boer War concentration camp system was the first time that a whole nation had been systematically targeted, and the first in which some whole regions had been depopulated.

Eventually, there were a total of 45 tent
Tent
A tent is a shelter consisting of sheets of fabric or other material draped over or attached to a frame of poles or attached to a supporting rope. While smaller tents may be free-standing or attached to the ground, large tents are usually anchored using guy ropes tied to stakes or tent pegs...

ed camps built for Boer internees and 64 for black Africans. Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as prisoners of war, 25,630 were sent overseas. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children. Over 26,000 women and children were to perish in these concentration camps.

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
Hygiene
Hygiene refers to the set of practices perceived by a community to be associated with the preservation of health and healthy living. While in modern medical sciences there is a set of standards of hygiene recommended for different situations, what is considered hygienic or not can vary between...

 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, inadequate hygiene and overcrowding led to malnutrition and endemic contagious diseases such as measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

, typhoid and dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

 to which the children were particularly vulnerable. An additional problem was the Boers' use of traditional medicine
Traditional medicine
Traditional medicine comprises unscientific knowledge systems that developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine...

s like a cow-dung poultice
Poultice
A poultice, also called cataplasm, is a soft moist mass, often heated and medicated, that is spread on cloth over the skin to treat an aching, inflamed, or painful part of the body. It can be used on wounds such as cuts...

 for skin diseases and crushed insects for convulsions. Coupled with a shortage of modern medical facilities, many of the internees died.

As the war raged across their farms and their homes were destroyed, many Africans became refugees and they, like the Boers, moved to the towns where the British army hastily created internment camps. Subsequently, the "Scorched Earth" policy was ruthlessly 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." It is worth noting that Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse was a British welfare campaigner, who is primarily remembered for bringing to the attention of the British public, and working to change, the poor conditions inside the British concentration camps in South Africa built for Boer women and children during the Second Boer War.-Early...

 and the Fawcett Commission only ever concerned themselves with the camps that held Boer refugees. No one paid much attention to what was going on in the camps that held African refugees.

Public opinion and political opposition

Although the 1900 UK general election
United Kingdom general election, 1900
-Seats summary:-See also:*MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1900*The Parliamentary Franchise in the United Kingdom 1885-1918-External links:***-References:*F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987**...

, also known as the "Khaki election," had resulted in a victory for the Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 government on the back of recent British victories against the Boers, public support quickly waned as it became apparent that the war would not be easy and further unease developed following reports about the treatment by the British army of the Boer civilians. Public and political opposition to government policies in South Africa regarding Boer civilians was first expressed in Parliament in February, 1901 in the form of an attack on the policy, the government, and the army by the radical Liberal
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 MP David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

.
Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse was a British welfare campaigner, who is primarily remembered for bringing to the attention of the British public, and working to change, the poor conditions inside the British concentration camps in South Africa built for Boer women and children during the Second Boer War.-Early...

, a delegate of the South African Women and Children's Distress Fund, visited some of the camps in the Orange Free State from January, 1901, and in May, 1901 she returned to England on board the ship, the Saxon. Alfred Milner, High Commissioner in South Africa, also boarded the Saxon for holiday in England but, unfortunately for both the camp internees and the British government, he had no time for Miss Hobhouse, regarding her as a Boer sympathizer and "trouble maker." On her return, Emily Hobhouse did much to publicize the distress of the camp inmates. She managed to speak to the Liberal Party leader, Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman GCB was a British Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1905 to 1908 and Leader of the Liberal Party from 1899 to 1908. He also served as Secretary of State for War twice, in the Cabinets of Gladstone and Rosebery...

 who professed to be suitably outraged but was disinclined to press the matter, as his party was split between the imperialists and the pro-Boer factions.

The more radical Liberals however such as David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 and John Ellis
John Ellis (Liberal politician)
John Edward Ellis PC , was a British colliery owner and Liberal politician.Ellis was returned to Parliament for the newly created constituency of Rushcliffe in the 1880 general election...

 were prepared to raise the matter in Parliament and to harass the government on the issue, which they duly did. St John Brodrick
St John Brodrick, 1st Earl of Midleton
William St John Fremantle Brodrick, 1st Earl of Midleton, KP, PC , known as St John Brodrick until 1907 and as The Viscount Midleton between 1907 and 1920, was a British Conservative Party politician....

, the Conservative secretary of state for war, first defended the government's policy by arguing that the camps were purely "voluntary" and that the interned Boers were "contented and comfortable," but was somewhat undermined as he had no firm statistics to back up his argument, so when his "voluntary" argument proved untenable, he resorted to the "military necessity" argument and stated that everything possible was being done to ensure satisfactory conditions in the camps.

Hobhouse published a report in June, 1901 which contradicted Brodrick's claim, and Lloyd George then openly accused the government of "a policy of extermination" directed against the Boer population. In June, 1901, Liberal opposition party leader Campbell-Bannerman took up the assault and answered the rhetorical question "When is a war not a war?" with his own rhetorical answer "When it is carried on by methods of barbarism in South Africa," referring to those same camps and the policies that created them. The Hobhouse report caused uproar both domestically and in the international community. It should be noted however that there was very little public sympathy for the highly reactionary Boer president Kruger.

The Fawcett Commission

Although the government had comfortably won the parliamentary debate by a margin of 252 to 149, it was stung by the criticism and concerned by the escalating public outcry, and called on Kitchener
Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener
Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC , was an Irish-born British Field Marshal and proconsul who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War, although he died halfway...

 for a detailed report. In response, complete statistical returns from camps were sent in July, 1901. By August, 1901, it was clear to government and opposition alike that Miss Hobhouse's worst fears were being confirmed — 93,940 Boers and 24,457 black Africans were reported to be in "camps of refuge" and the crisis was becoming a catastrophe as the death rates appeared very high, especially among the children.

The government responded to the growing clamor by appointing a commission. The Fawcett Commission, as it became known was, uniquely for its time, an all-woman affair headed by Millicent Fawcett
Millicent Fawcett
Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, GBE was an English suffragist and an early feminist....

 who despite being the leader of the women's suffrage movement was a Liberal Unionist and thus a government supporter and considered a safe pair of hands. Between August and December, 1901, the Fawcett Commission conducted its own tour of the camps in South Africa. While it is probable that the British government expected the Commission to produce a report that could be used to fend off criticism, in the end it confirmed everything that Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse was a British welfare campaigner, who is primarily remembered for bringing to the attention of the British public, and working to change, the poor conditions inside the British concentration camps in South Africa built for Boer women and children during the Second Boer War.-Early...

 had said. Indeed, if anything the Commission's recommendations went even further. The Commission insisted that rations should be increased and that additional nurses be sent out immediately, and included a long list of other practical measures designed to improve conditions in the camp. Millicent Fawcett was quite blunt in expressing her opinion that much of the catastrophe was owed to a simple failure to observe elementary rules of hygiene
Hygiene
Hygiene refers to the set of practices perceived by a community to be associated with the preservation of health and healthy living. While in modern medical sciences there is a set of standards of hygiene recommended for different situations, what is considered hygienic or not can vary between...

.

Under pressure, the Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain was an influential British politician and statesman. Unlike most major politicians of the time, he was a self-made businessman and had not attended Oxford or Cambridge University....

 in November, 1901 ordered Alfred Milner to ensure that "all possible steps are being taken to reduce the rate of mortality." The civil authority took over the running of the camps from Kitchener and the British command and by February, 1902, the annual death-rate in the concentration camps for white inmates dropped to 6.9 percent and eventually to 2 percent, which was a lower rate than pertained in many British cities at the time.

However, by then the damage had been done. A report after the war concluded that 27,927 Boers (of whom 24,074 [50 percent of the Boer child population] were children under 16) had died of starvation
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

, disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

 and exposure
Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a condition in which core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions which is defined as . Body temperature is usually maintained near a constant level of through biologic homeostasis or thermoregulation...

 in the concentration camps. In all, about one in four (25 percent) of the Boer inmates, mostly children, died.

"Improvements [however] were much slower in coming to the black camps." It is thought that about 12 percent of black African inmates died (about 14,154) but the precise number of deaths of black Africans in concentration camps is unknown as little attempt was made to keep any records of the 107,000 black Africans who were interned.

The main decisions (or their absence) had been left to the soldiers, to whom the life or death of the 154,000 Boer and African civilians in the camps rated as an abysmally low priority. [It was only] ... ten months after the subject had first been raised in Parliament ... [and after public outcry and after the Fawcett Commission that remedial action was taken and] ... the terrible mortality figures were at last declining. In the interval, at least twenty thousand whites and twelve thousand colored people had died in the concentration camps, the majority from epidemics of measles and typhoid that could have been avoided.


Somewhat higher figures for total deaths in the concentration camps are given by S.B. Spies.

Kitchener's policy and the post-war debate

It has been argued that "this was not a deliberately genocidal policy; rather it was the result of [a] disastrous lack of foresight and rank incompetence on [the] part of the [British] military." British historian Niall Ferguson also argues that "Kitchener no more desired the deaths of women and children in the camps than of the wounded Dervishes after Omdurman
Omdurman
Omdurman is the second largest city in Sudan and Khartoum State, lying on the western banks of the River Nile, opposite the capital, Khartoum. Omdurman has a population of 2,395,159 and is the national centre of commerce...

, or of his own soldiers in the typhoid stricken hospitals of Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...

."

However, to Kitchener and the British Command "the life or death of the 154,000 Boer and African civilians in the camps rated as an abysmally low priority" against military objectives. As the Fawcett Commission was delivering its recommendations, Kitchener wrote to St John Brodrick
St John Brodrick, 1st Earl of Midleton
William St John Fremantle Brodrick, 1st Earl of Midleton, KP, PC , known as St John Brodrick until 1907 and as The Viscount Midleton between 1907 and 1920, was a British Conservative Party politician....

 defending his policy of sweeps, and emphasizing that no new Boer families were being brought in unless they were in danger of starving. This was disingenuous as the countryside had by then been devastated under the "Scorched Earth" policy (the Fawcett Commission in December 1901 in its recommendations commented that: "to turn 100,000 people now being held in the concentration camps out on the veldt to take care of themselves would be cruelty") and now that the New Model counter insurgency tactics were in full swing, it made cynical military sense to leave the Boer families in desperate conditions in the countryside.

According to writer S.B. Spies, "at [the Vereeniging negotiations in May, 1902] Boer leader Louis Botha stated that he had tried to send [Boer] families to the British, but they had refused to receive them." Spies quotes a Boer commandant referring to Boer women and children made refugees by Britain's scorched-earth policy as saying, "Our families are in a pitiable condition and the enemy uses those families to force us to surrender." Spies adds, "and there is little doubt that that was indeed the intention of Kitchener when he had issued instructions that no more families were to be brought into the concentration camps." Thomas Pakenham writes of Kichener's policy U-turn,

No doubt the continued 'hullabaloo' at the death-rate in these concentration camps, and Milner's belated agreement to take over their administration, helped change Kitchener's mind [some time at the end of 1901]. ... By mid-December at any rate, Kitchener was already circulating all column commanders with instructions not to bring in women and children when they cleared the country, but to leave them with the guerrillas. ... Viewed as a gesture to Liberals, on the eve of the new session of Parliament at Westminster, it was a shrewd political move. It also made excellent military sense, as it greatly handicapped the guerrillas, now that the drives were in full swing. ... It was effective precisely because, contrary to the Liberals' convictions, it was less humane than bringing them into camps, though this was of no great concern to Kitchener.

The end of the war

Towards the end of the war, British tactics of containment, denial, and harassment began to yield results against the guerrillas. The sourcing and coordination 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
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 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.

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 recognized that whoever won would have to deal with the consequences of a mass militarization 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 ama-khosi 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 which had been confiscated 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 blacks 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 people mistreated by the Boers as a punishment for helping 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.
The official statistics of blacks who had served as combatants or non-combatants or who died in the concentration camps are unreliable. Many black combatants were dumped in unmarked graves, and most of the superintendents of the concentration camps did not record the deaths of black inmates.

After the war the British government went to great lengths to attempt to conciliate Boer opinion to the extent of refusing to officially recognize the military contribution made by blacks by issuing campaign medals. It was felt that the Boers would already feel insecure and angry at the arming of blacks, and granting medals would have prejudiced the stability of the region. Boer insecurity and the British government’s favoring of Boer over African interests caused much bitterness, and did much to shape the racial politics of the region.

The British offered terms of peace on various occasions, notably in March, 1901, but were rejected by Botha. The last of the Boers surrendered in May, 1902 and the war ended with the Treaty of Vereeniging
Treaty of Vereeniging
The Treaty of Vereeniging was the peace treaty, signed on 31 May 1902, that ended the South African War between the South African Republic and the Republic of the Orange Free State, on the one side, and the British Empire on the other.This settlement provided for the end of hostilities and...

 signed on 31 May 1902. Although the British had won, this came at a cost; 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 South African Republic
South African Republic
The South African Republic , often informally known as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent Boer-ruled country in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century. Not to be confused with the present-day Republic of South Africa, it occupied the area later known as the South African...

 and the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

 as independent Boer republics and placed them within the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. The Union of South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

 was established as a member of the Commonwealth in 1910.

In all, the war had cost around 75,000 lives; 22,000 British soldiers (7,792 killed in battle, the rest through disease), between 6,000 and 7,000 Boer fighters, and, mainly in the concentration camps, between 20,000 to 28,000 Boer civilians (mainly women and children) and perhaps 20,000 black Africans (both on the battlefield and in the concentration camps). During the conflict, 78 Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

es (VC) — the highest and most prestigious award in the British armed forces for bravery in the face of the enemy — were awarded to British and colonial soldiers. See List of Boer War Victoria Cross recipients.

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
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

 republics was profoundly and fundamentally affected by the scorched earth 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 and salting of the fields 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
Milner's Kindergarten
Milner's Kindergarten is an informal reference to a group of Britons who served in the South African Civil Service under High Commissioner Alfred, Lord Milner, between the Second Boer War and the founding of the Union of South Africa. They were in favour of the South African union and, ultimately,...

. This small group of civil servants was to have a profound effect on the region, eventually leading to the Union of South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

. “In the aftermath of the war, an imperial administration freed from accountability to a domestic electorate set about reconstructing an economy that was by then predicated unambiguously on gold. At the same time, British civil servants, municipal officials, and their cultural adjuncts were hard at work in the heartland of the former Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

 Republics helping to forge new identities — first as 'British South Africans' and then, later still, as 'white South Africans'." 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
Maritz Rebellion
The Maritz Rebellion or the Boer Revolt or the Five Shilling Rebellion, occurred in South Africa in 1914 at the start of World War I, in which men who supported the recreation of the old Boer republics rose up against the government of the Union of South Africa...

 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 coordination 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
Federation of Malaya
The Federation of Malaya is the name given to a federation of 11 states that existed from 31 January 1948 until 16 September 1963. The Federation became independent on 31 August 1957...

 communist rebels during the Malayan Emergency
Malayan Emergency
The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army , the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960....

. In World War II the British also adopted some of the concepts of raiding from the Boer commandos when, after the fall of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, they set up their special raiding forces, and in acknowledgement of their erstwhile enemies, chose the name British Commandos
British Commandos
The British Commandos were formed during the Second World War in June 1940, following a request from the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, for a force that could carry out raids against German-occupied Europe...

.

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 "bittereinders" (or irreconcilables) and at the end of the war a number of Boer fighters such as Deneys Reitz
Deneys Reitz
Deneys Reitz , son of Francis William Reitz, was a Boer soldier, later a South African soldier in the First World War, and a politician....

 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 could 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
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

 (later the Republic of South Africa). It was to prove a key ally to Britain as a Dominion of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 during the World Wars. At the start of First World War a crisis ensued when the South African government led by Louis Botha
Louis Botha
Louis Botha was an Afrikaner and first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa—the forerunner of the modern South African state...

 and other former Boer fighters, such as Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, PC was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948...

, 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 South West Africa was a colony of Germany from 1884 until 1915, when it was taken over by South Africa and administered as South West Africa, finally becoming Namibia in 1990...

 (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
Maritz Rebellion
The Maritz Rebellion or the Boer Revolt or the Five Shilling Rebellion, occurred in South Africa in 1914 at the start of World War I, in which men who supported the recreation of the old Boer republics rose up against the government of the Union of South Africa...

. This was quickly suppressed and in 1916, the leading Boer rebels in the Maritz Rebellion got off lightly (especially compared with the fate of leading Irish rebels of the Easter Rising), with terms of imprisonment of six and seven years and heavy fines. Two years later, they were released from prison, as Louis Botha recognized the value of reconciliation. Thereafter the bittereinders concentrated on political organization within the constitutional system and built up what later became the National Party
National Party (South Africa)
The National Party is a former political party in South Africa. Founded in 1914, it was the governing party of the country from 4 June 1948 until 9 May 1994. Members of the National Party were sometimes known as Nationalists or Nats. Its policies included apartheid, the establishment of a...

 which took power in 1948 and dominated the politics of South Africa from the late 1940s until the early 1990s, under the apartheid system.
Gold Production on the Witwatersrand
1898 to 1910
Year No. of
Mines
Gold output
(fine ounces)
Value (GB£
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

)
Relative 2010 value
(GB£
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

)
1898 77 4,295,608 £15,141,376 £6,910,000,000
1899 (Jan-Oct) 85 3,946,545 £14,046,686 £6,300,000,000
1899 (Nov- 1901 Apr) 12 574,043 £2,024,278 £908,000,000
1901 (May-Dec) 12 238,994 £1,014,687 £441,000,000
1902 45 1,690,100 £7,179,074 £3,090,000,000
1903 56 2,859,482 £12,146,307 £5,220,000,000
1904 62 3,658,241 £15,539,219 £6,640,000,000
1905 68 4,706,433 £19,991,658 £8,490,000,000

Effect of the war on domestic British politics

Many Irish nationalists sympathized with the Boers, viewing them to be a people oppressed by British imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

, much like, in their opinion, themselves. Irish miners already in the Transvaal at the start of the war formed the nucleus of two Irish commandos
Irish commandos
Two units of Irish commandos fought alongside the Boers against the British forces during the Second Boer War -Irish Transvaal Brigade:John MacBride, a friend of Arthur Griffith's, organised the Irish Transvaal Brigade...

. The Second Irish Brigade was headed up by an Australian of Irish parents, Colonel Arthur Lynch
Arthur Alfred Lynch
Arthur Alfred Lynch was an Irish Australian civil engineer, physician, journalist, author, soldier, anti-imperialist and polymath. He served as MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland as member of the Irish Parliamentary Party, and represented Galway Borough...

. 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 with the British army. In Britain, the "Pro-Boer" campaign expanded, with writers often idealizing 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
United Kingdom general election, 1900
-Seats summary:-See also:*MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1900*The Parliamentary Franchise in the United Kingdom 1885-1918-External links:***-References:*F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987**...

, also known as the "Khaki election
Khaki Election
In British political history, a khaki election is any national election which is heavily influenced by wartime or postwar sentiment. In the British general election of 1900, the Conservative Party government of Lord Salisbury was returned to office with an increased majority over the Liberal Party...

," was called by the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

, Lord Salisbury
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, KG, GCVO, PC , styled Lord Robert Cecil before 1865 and Viscount Cranborne from June 1865 until April 1868, was a British Conservative statesman and thrice Prime Minister, serving for a total of over 13 years...

, on the back of recent British victories. There was much enthusiasm for the war at this point, resulting in a victory for the Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 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
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 tactics — the forced clearance of women and children, the destruction of the countryside, burning of Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

 homesteads and poisoning of wells, for example — and the conditions in the concentration camps. It also became apparent that there were serious problems with public health
Public health
Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals" . It is concerned with threats to health based on population health...

 in Britain: up to 40% of recruits in Britain were unfit for military service
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

, suffering from medical problems such as rickets
Rickets
Rickets is a softening of bones in children due to deficiency or impaired metabolism of vitamin D, magnesium , phosphorus or calcium, potentially leading to fractures and deformity. Rickets is among the most frequent childhood diseases in many developing countries...

 and other poverty-related illnesses. This 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, succeeding his uncle Lord Salisbury
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, KG, GCVO, PC , styled Lord Robert Cecil before 1865 and Viscount Cranborne from June 1865 until April 1868, was a British Conservative statesman and thrice Prime Minister, serving for a total of over 13 years...

 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 war and its aftermath reverberated across the Empire. The importing (to South Africa) and use (especially on the gold mines) of Chinese labor, known as Coolies, after the war by the governor of the new crown colonies
Crown colony
A Crown colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire....

, Lord Milner
Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner
Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner KG, GCB, GCMG, PC was a British statesman and colonial administrator who played an influential leadership role in the formulation of foreign and domestic policy between the mid-1890s and early 1920s...

 as cheap labor to repress local workers and break strikes, also caused much revulsion in the UK and Australia. The Chinese workers were themselves often kept in appalling conditions, receiving only a small wage and isolated from the local population — revelations of homosexual
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 acts between those forbidden contact with the local population and the services of prostitutes
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

 led to further public shock. Some believe the Chinese labor issue can be seen as the climax of public antipathy to the war.

Horses

The number of horses killed in the war was at the time unprecedented in modern warfare. For example, in the Relief of Kimberley
Siege of Kimberley
The Siege of Kimberley took place during the Second Boer War at Kimberley, Cape Colony , when Boer forces from the Orange Free State and the Transvaal besieged the diamond mining town. The Boers moved quickly to try to capture the British enclave when war broke out between the British and the two...

, 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 on occasion slaughtered for their meat
Horse meat
Horse meat is the culinary name for meat cut from a horse. It is a major meat in only a few countries, notably in Central Asia, but it forms a significant part of the culinary traditions of many others, from Europe to South America to Asia. The top eight countries consume about 4.7 million horses...

. During the Siege of Kimberley
Siege of Kimberley
The Siege of Kimberley took place during the Second Boer War at Kimberley, Cape Colony , when Boer forces from the Orange Free State and the Transvaal besieged the diamond mining town. The Boers moved quickly to try to capture the British enclave when war broke out between the British and the two...

 and Siege of Ladysmith
Siege of Ladysmith
The Siege of Ladysmith was a protracted engagement in the Second Boer War, taking place between 30 October 1899 and 28 February 1900 at Ladysmith, Natal.-Background:...

, 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
Bovril is the trademarked name of a thick, salty meat extract, developed in the 1870s by John Lawson Johnston and sold in a distinctive, bulbous jar. It is made in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, owned and distributed by Unilever UK....

-like paste, by boiling down the horse meat to a jelly paste and serving it like beef tea.

The Horse Memorial
Horse Memorial
The Horse Memorial is a provincial heritage site in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, in memory of the horses that served and died during the Second Boer War....

 in Port Elizabeth is a tribute to the 300,000 horses that died during the conflict.

Empire involvement

See also History of the British Army

The vast majority of troops fighting for the British army came from the United Kingdom. However, a large number did come from other parts of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. These countries had their own internal disputes over whether they should remain tied to the United Kingdom, or have full independence, which carried over into the debate around the sending of forces to assist the United Kingdom. Though not fully independent on foreign affairs, these countries did have local say over how much support to provide, and the manner in which it would be provided. Ultimately, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all sent volunteers to aid the United Kingdom. Australia provided the largest number of troops followed by Canada. Troops were also raised to fight with the British from the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 and the Colony of Natal
Colony of Natal
The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on May 4, 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its...

. Some Boer fighters, such as Jan Smuts 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 traveled 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
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 and British Ceylon
British Ceylon
British Ceylon refers to British rule prior to 1948 of the island territory now known as Sri Lanka.-From the Dutch to the British:Before the beginning of the Dutch governance, the island of Ceylon was divided between the Portuguese Empire and the Kingdom of Kandy, who were in the midst of a war for...

, though the British Government refused offers of non-white troops from the Empire. Some Cape Coloureds
Cape Coloureds
The Cape Coloureds form a minority group within South Africa, however they are the predominant population group in the Western Cape. They are generally bilingual, however subsets within the group can be exclusively Afrikaans speakers, whereas others primarily speak English...

 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
World war
A world war is a war affecting the majority of the world's most powerful and populous nations. World wars span multiple countries on multiple continents, with battles fought in multiple theaters....

. Specially raised units, consisting mainly of volunteers, were dispatched overseas to serve with forces from elsewhere in the British Empire.

Technically the United States stayed neutral in the conflict, but some American citizens were asked to participate. Early in the war Lord Roberts cabled the American Frederick Russell Burnham
Frederick Russell Burnham
Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO was an American scout and world traveling adventurer known for his service to the British Army in colonial Africa and for teaching woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell, thus becoming one of the inspirations for the founding of the international Scouting Movement.Burnham...

, a veteran of both Matabele wars but at that very moment prospecting in the Klondike
Klondike Gold Rush
The Klondike Gold Rush, also called the Yukon Gold Rush, the Alaska Gold Rush and the Last Great Gold Rush, was an attempt by an estimated 100,000 people to travel to the Klondike region the Yukon in north-western Canada between 1897 and 1899 in the hope of successfully prospecting for gold...

, 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

See also History of the Australian Army


From 1899 to 1901 the six separate self-governing colonies
Self-governing colony
A self-governing colony is a colony with an elected legislature, in which politicians are able to make most decisions without reference to the colonial power with formal or nominal control of the colony...

 in Australia sent their own contingents to serve in the Boer War. Much of the population of the colonies had originated from Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland) and the desire to support Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 during the conflict appealed to many. After the colonies formed the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, the new Government of Australia
Government of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 as a result of an agreement among six self-governing British colonies, which became the six states...

 sent "Commonwealth" contingents to the war. The Boer War was thus the first war in which the Commonwealth of Australia fought. However it must also be noted that a few Australians fought on the Boer side. The most famous and colourful character was Colonel Arthur Alfred Lynch
Arthur Alfred Lynch
Arthur Alfred Lynch was an Irish Australian civil engineer, physician, journalist, author, soldier, anti-imperialist and polymath. He served as MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland as member of the Irish Parliamentary Party, and represented Galway Borough...

, formerly of Ballarat, Victoria, who raised the Second Irish Brigade.

The Australian climate
Climate of Australia
The climate of Australia varies widely, but by far the largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid – 40% of the landmass is covered by sand dunes. Only the south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate and moderately fertile soil...

 and geography
Geography of Australia
The geography of Australia encompasses a wide variety of biogeographic regions being the world's smallest continent but the sixth-largest country in the world. The population of Australia is concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts...

 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 totaled 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
Melbourne Punch
Melbourne Punch was an Australian illustrated magazine founded by Edgar Ray and Frederick Sinnett, modelled closely on Punch of London which was founded just fifteen years earlier....

, 21 June 1900, cartoon depicted how the War could be won, using the Kelly Gang.

The convictions and executions of two Australian lieutenants, Breaker Morant
Breaker Morant
Harry 'Breaker' Harbord Morant was an Anglo-Australian drover, horseman, poet, soldier and convicted war criminal whose skill with horses earned him the nickname "The Breaker"...

 and Peter Handcock
Peter Handcock
Peter Joseph Handcock was a Veterinary Lieutenant in the Bushveldt Carbineers in the Boer War in South Africa. Handcock and Harry "Breaker" Morant were court martialed and executed by firing squad on 27 February 1902 on murder charges for shooting Boer prisoners and a German missionary, Jacob...

 in 1902, and the imprisonment of a third, George Witton, had little impact on the Australian public at the time despite later legend. The controversial court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

 saw the three convicted of executing Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

 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
Breaker Morant (film)
Breaker Morant is a 1980 Australian film about the court martial of Breaker Morant, directed by Bruce Beresford and starring British actor Edward Woodward as Harry "Breaker" Morant...

.

Canada

See also Military history of Canada

At first, Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier
Wilfrid Laurier
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, GCMG, PC, KC, baptized Henri-Charles-Wilfrid Laurier was the seventh Prime Minister of Canada from 11 July 1896 to 6 October 1911....

 tried to keep Canada out of the war. The Canadian government was divided between those, primarily French Canadian
French Canadian
French Canadian or Francophone Canadian, , generally refers to the descendents of French colonists who arrived in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries...

s, who wished to stay out of the war and others, primarily English Canadians, who wanted to fight. In the end, Laurier compromised by agreeing to support the British by providing only volunteers, equipment and transportation to the war. The United Kingdom would be responsible for paying the troops and returning them to Canada at the end of their service. The Boer War marked the first occasion in which large contingents of Canadian troops served abroad (individual Canadians had served in the Crimean War and a Canadian contingent was sent to the Nile Expedition
Nile Expedition
The Nile Expedition, sometimes called the Gordon Relief Expedition , was a British mission to relieve Major-General Charles George Gordon at Khartoum, Sudan. Gordon had been sent to the Sudan to help Egyptians evacuate from Sudan after Britain decided to abandon the country in the face of a...

). The 1st Canadian Contingent was composed of 1000 men recruited from the Canadian militia
Canadian Militia
The Canadian Militia was the traditional title for the land forces of Canada from before Confederation in 1867 to 1940 when it was renamed the Canadian Army.The Militia consisted of:* Permanent Active Militia* Non-Permanent Active Militia...

 to form the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry
The Royal Canadian Regiment
The Royal Canadian Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces. The regiment consists of four battalions, three in the Regular Force and one in the Primary Reserve...

. This contingent served under the command of the Permanent Force officer William Dillon Otter
William Dillon Otter
General Sir William Dillon Otter KCB, CVO, VD was a professional Canadian soldier who became the first Canadian-born Chief of the General Staff, the head of the Canadian Army.-Military career:...

. As a Major, and Lieutenant Colonel, Arthur Victor Seymour Williams
Arthur Victor Seymour Williams
General Arthur Victor Seymour Williams , was a Canadian general in the First World War and later the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police....

 commanded `B`Squadron, Canadian Mounted Rifles, South Africa in 1900. The Canadian Mounted Rifles/ Strathcona's Horse were recruited during "Black Week" were the British suffered a series of defeats and after the war would go on to help form part of the South African Police Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).. Some in the Canadian Military saw the failures of troops in the early stages of the war effort as the failure of the British leadership against very challenging Boer tactics, later termed Guerilla warfare. Canadian officers commended their troops as being brighter and better adapt at handling the Boer war tactics then the British command chain. More so, The first two battalions send to South Africa were Canadian Militia, "Battalions servicing under Canadian Officers, carrying their own designation and answered to Militia Headquarters in Ottawa". This helped to foster a sense of national pride within Canadians on the battle front and back home. Specifically at the Battle of Lieliefantein Canadian troops showed courage and bravery by holding the line when the British main forces retreated. This action and other conflicts throughout the war led Lord Kitchener to offer praise about the actions of Canadian forces, including the Strathcona Calvary and the Canadian Mounted Rifles.
The Battle of Paardeberg
Battle of Paardeberg
The Battle of Paardeberg or Perdeberg 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....

 in February 1900 represented the second time Canadian soldiers saw battle abroad, the first being the Canadian involvement in the Nile Expedition
Nile Expedition
The Nile Expedition, sometimes called the Gordon Relief Expedition , was a British mission to relieve Major-General Charles George Gordon at Khartoum, Sudan. Gordon had been sent to the Sudan to help Egyptians evacuate from Sudan after Britain decided to abandon the country in the face of a...

 of 1884-85. Canadians also saw action at the Battle of Faber's Put on 30 May 1900. On 7 November 1900, the Royal Canadian Dragoons engaged the Boers in the Battle of Leliefontein
Battle of Leliefontein
The Battle of Leliefontein was an engagement between Canadian/British and Boer forces during the Second Boer War on 7 November 1900, at the Komati River south of Belfast at the present day Nooitgedacht Dam....

, where they saved British guns from capture during a retreat from the banks of the Komati River
Komati River
The Komati River is a river in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. It is long, with a drainage basin in size. Its mean annual discharge is 111 m³/s at its mouth...

.

The Canadians had four Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 recipients in this war: Lieutenant Turner
Richard Ernest William Turner
Lieutenant General Sir Richard Ernest William Turner VC, KCB, KCMG, DSO was a Canadian army officer during the Boer War and World War I, and a recipient of the Victoria Cross...

, Lieutenant Cockburn
Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn
Major Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

, Sergeant Holland
Edward James Gibson Holland
Major Edward James Gibson Holland VC was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.- Early life :Holland was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and attended Lisgar...

 and Arthur Richardson
Arthur Herbert Lindsay Richardson
Arthur Herbert Lindsay Richardson VC was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

. Ultimately, over 8,600 Canadians volunteered to fight in the South African War. Lieutenant Harold Lothrop Borden
Harold Lothrop Borden
Lieutenant Harold Lothrop Borden, was from Canning, Nova Scotia and the only son of Canada's Minister of Militia and Defence, Frederick William Borden. He became the most famous Canadian casualty of the Second Boer War. Queen Victoria asked F. W...

, however, became the most famous Canadian casualty of the Second Boer War.

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
The Royal Canadian Regiment
The Royal Canadian Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces. The regiment consists of four battalions, three in the Regular Force and one in the Primary Reserve...

) performed garrison duty in Halifax
City of Halifax
Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 so that their British counterparts could join at the front. Later on, contingents of Canadians served with the paramilitary South Africa Constabulary. Approximately 267 Canadians died in the War. 89 men were killed in action, 135 died of disease, and the remainder died of accident or injury. 252 were wounded.

New Zealand

See also Military history of New Zealand


When the Second Boer War seemed imminent, New Zealand offered its support. On 28 September 1899, Prime Minister Richard Seddon
Richard Seddon
Richard John Seddon , sometimes known as King Dick, is to date the longest serving Prime Minister of New Zealand. He is regarded by some, including historian Keith Sinclair, as one of New Zealand's greatest political leaders....

 asked Parliament 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 which 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, totaling 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.

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
Colony of Natal
The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on May 4, 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its...

 and Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 (especially around Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

 and Grahamstown
Grahamstown
Grahamstown is a city in the Eastern Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa and is the seat of the Makana municipality. The population of greater Grahamstown, as of 2003, was 124,758. The population of the surrounding areas, including the actual city was 41,799 of which 77.4% were black,...

), which formed volunteer units which 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
Edward Brabant
Major-General Sir Edward Yewd Brabant, KCB, CMG, born 1839, was a South African colonial military commander. He served in the 9th Xhosa War , First Matabele War , and other campaigns. During the Second Boer War , he commanded the Colonial Division in 1900, and the Colonial Defence Force of Cape...

, took part in the invasion of the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

. Part of it withstood a siege by Christiaan De Wet at Wepener
Wepener
Wepener is a village in the Free State, South Africa, located on the border with Lesotho. The town is named after Louw Wepener, the leader of the Boers in their war with the Basotho chief Moshoeshoe I in 1865. It was founded in 1867 on the banks of Jammersbergspruit, a tributary of the Caledon...

 on the borders of Basutoland
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

. Another large source of volunteers was the uitlander
Uitlander
Uitlander, Afrikaans for "foreigner" , was the name given to expatriate migrant workers during the initial exploitation of the Witwatersrand gold fields in the Transvaal...

 community, many of whom hastily left Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

 in the days immediately preceding the war.

Later during the war, Lord Kitchener
Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener
Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC , was an Irish-born British Field Marshal and proconsul who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War, although he died halfway...

 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. (This was one of the reasons for the British ruthlessly scouring the countryside of people, livestock and anything else which the Boer commandos might find useful.)

Like the Canadian and particularly the Australian and New Zealand contingents, many of the volunteer units formed by South Africans were "light horse
Light cavalry
Light cavalry refers to lightly armed and lightly armored troops mounted on horses, as opposed to heavy cavalry, where the riders are heavily armored...

" or mounted infantry
Mounted infantry
Mounted infantry were soldiers who rode horses instead of marching, but actually fought on foot . The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry...

, 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 with lance or saber. 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
Rimington's Guides
Rimington's Guides were a unit of light horse in the British Army active in the Second Boer War. They were led by Major M. F. Rimington, later Colonel Rimington. He also led a column in the later stages of the war...

, Kitchener's Horse and the Imperial Light Infantry.

See also

  • :Category:People of the Second Boer War
  • Boer foreign volunteers
    Boer foreign volunteers
    Boer foreign volunteers were participants who volunteered their military services to the Boers in the Second Boer War.-Origin:Although there was a lot of sympathy for the Boer cause outside of the Commonwealth, there was little overt government support as few countries were willing to upset...

  • Bombardment in the Second Boer War
    Bombardment in the Second Boer War
    The Second Boer War saw attempted application of bombardment as an alternative to the use of ground forces. In most battles fought during the conflict this was proved not to be possible. There was competition from the other side’s ability to undertake evasive measures. The opponent was able to use...

  • British Logistics in the Boer War
  • History of South Africa
    History of South Africa
    South African history has been dominated by the interaction and conflict of several diverse ethnic groups. The aboriginal Khoisan people have lived in the region for millennia. Most of the population, however, trace their history to immigration since...

  • List of Second Boer War Victoria Cross recipients
  • London to Ladysmith via Pretoria
    London to Ladysmith via Pretoria
    London to Ladysmith via Pretoria is a book written by Winston Churchill. It is a personal record of Churchill's impressions during the first five months of the Second Boer War. It includes an account of the Relief of Ladysmith, and also the story of Churchill's capture and dramatic escape from the...

     account of the war by Winston Churchill
    Winston Churchill
    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

     as a newspaper correspondent accompanying the troops
  • Military history of South Africa
    Military history of South Africa
    The history of South Africa chronicles a vast time period and complex events from the dawn of history until the present time. It covers civil wars and wars of aggression and of self-defense both within South Africa and against it...

  • Opposition to the Second Boer War
    Opposition to the Second Boer War
    Opposition to the Second Boer War in Britain was modest when the war began on 11 October 1899 and was always less widespread than support for it, let alone prevailing indifference. However, influential groups formed immediately and ineffectually against the war, including the South African...

  • The Absent-Minded Beggar
    The Absent-Minded Beggar
    "The Absent-Minded Beggar" is an 1899 poem by Rudyard Kipling, set to music by Sir Arthur Sullivan and often accompanied by an illustration by Richard Caton Woodville. The song was written as part of an appeal by the Daily Mail to raise money for soldiers fighting in the South African War and...

  • Volkstaat
    Volkstaat
    Volkstaat is a proposal for the establishment of self determination for the Boer and Afrikaners minority in South Africa according to federal principles, alluding to full independence in the form of a homeland for Boer and Afrikaners....

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