South African War


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South African War

or

Boer War,

1899–1902, war of the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State against Great Britain.

Background

Beginning with the acquisition in 1814 of the Cape of Good Hope, Great Britain gradually increased its territorial possessions in S Africa and by the late 19th cent. it held Natal, Basutoland, Rhodesia, Bechuanaland, and other Bantu lands. The Boers (Dutch), already settled in some of these areas, strongly resented British incursions. Resentment was especially marked in the Transvaal (headed by the strongly anti-British Paul KrugerKruger, Paul
(Stephanas Johannes Paulus) , 1825–1904, South African Transvaal statesman, known as Oom Paul. As a child he accompanied (1836) his family northward from the Cape Colony in the Great Trek that was eventually to cross the Vaal River and establish the
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), which had actually been annexed (1877–81) to Great Britain.

Anti-British sentiment was further inflamed after the discovery (1886) of gold in the WitwatersrandWitwatersrand
[Afrik.,=white water ridge] or the Rand,
region, Gauteng prov. (formerly a part of Transvaal), South Africa. The area, which forms the watershed between the Vaal and Olifants rivers, is c.
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 brought a great influx of prospectors (mainly British) into the TransvaalTransvaal
, former province, NE South Africa. With the new constitution of 1994, it was divided into Eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga), Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo), Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Veereeniging (now Gauteng), and part of North West prov.
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. Soon almost all the newly established mines as well as much of the commerce passed into British hands. The Boer government, to protect itself from the growing number of foreigners, denied these Uitlanders [foreigners] citizenship and taxed them heavily, despite British objections. In 1895 the Jameson raid (see Jameson, Sir Leander StarrJameson, Sir Leander Starr,
1853–1917, British colonial administrator and statesman in South Africa. He went to Kimberley (1878) as a physician, became associated with Cecil Rhodes in his colonizing ventures, and was appointed (1891) administrator of Mashonaland. On Dec.
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), which Transvaalers considered an officially sponsored plot to seize their country, aggravated the situation, and in 1896 the Transvaal and the Orange Free State (see Free StateFree State,
formerly Orange Free State, province (2011 pop. 2,745,590), 50,126 sq mi (129,825 sq km), E central South Africa. It was renamed Free State shortly after the 1994 post-apartheid constitution went into effect.
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) formed a military alliance to protect their independence.

The War

The British, after the appointment (1897) of Sir Alfred Milner as high commissioner for their South African territories, determined upon a showdown in defense of what they considered their commercial rights. Troops were dispatched from Britain, and, after Boer protestations were refused, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State declared war (Oct. 12, 1899). The Boer forces, well equipped by Germany, were larger than those immediately available to the British, and they scored impressive victories in the areas adjacent to the Boer territories. In the Cape Colony, Mafeking (now Mahikeng) and Kimberley were besieged; in Natal, Ladysmith was placed under siege. Reinforcements under the command of Sir Redvers BullerBuller, Sir Redvers Henry
, 1839–1908, British general. His military career began in China, and he later took part in the suppression of the Red River Rebellion (1870) in Canada.
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 were sent from Britain.

Buller's failure to dislodge the Boers led to his replacement by Gen. Lord RobertsRoberts, Frederick Sleigh, 1st Earl Roberts of Kandahar
, 1832–1914, British field marshal. He joined the Bengal artillery in 1851 and fought with distinction in the Indian Mutiny (1857–58), earning the
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, with KitchenerKitchener, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl
, 1850–1916, British field marshal and statesman. Trained at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (1868–70), he had a brief period of service in the French army
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 as his chief of staff. They landed in 1900 with heavy reinforcements and soon won victories; Kimberley and Ladysmith were relieved, and General Cronje was forced to surrender. Roberts advanced into the Orange Free State, captured its capital, Bloemfontein, and occupied the entire territory by May. By the end of June, Mafeking had been relieved, the Transvaal invaded, and Johannesburg and Pretoria captured. The Boer states were formally annexed and Kruger, a fugitive in Europe, appealed in vain for help there.

Roberts, believing the war to be over, left South Africa and delegated the mopping up to Kitchener. The Boers, however, continued an extensive and coordinated guerrilla war. Under their leaders, including Smuts, De Wet, and Botha, they disrupted communications, attacked outposts and, with their intimate knowledge of the countryside, eluded capture. Kitchener decided that final victory lay only in the systematic destruction of these guerrilla units, and adopted a scorched-earth policy. Boer women and children were herded into concentration camps where unhealth conditions killed some 26,000 Boers, most of whom were children, and perhaps 20,000 or more black Africans also died. Thousands of farms were torched, some 40 towns destroyed, and untold livestock killed. Chains of blockhouses were erected that cut off large areas, and dragnets of troops went through the guerrilla country section by section. By 1902 the British force (about 450,000) had reduced to final submission the Boer troops (approximately 54,000). The Treaty of Vereeniging (May 31, 1902) ended hostilities; the military casualties included some 22,000 British troops, mainly from disease, and some 7,000 Boers.

The War's Aftermath

The Boers accepted British sovereignty in exchange for a promise of responsible government in the near future. Great Britain agreed to grant a £3 million indemnity for property destruction and promised not to assess taxes to cover the expenses of the war. Amnesty was granted to all who had not violated the rules of war and repatriation to those who accepted the British king. The war left much bitterness, which continued to affect the political life of South Africa throughout the 20th cent.

Bibliography

See L. Amery, ed., The Times History of the War in South Africa (7 vol., 1900–1909); D. Reitz, Commando: A Boer Journal of the Boer War (new ed. 1945, repr. 1970); E. Holt, The Boer War (1958); W. B. Pemberton, Battles of the Boer War (1964); T. C. Caldwell, ed., The Anglo-Boer War (1965); G. H. L. Le May, British Supremacy in South Africa (1965); J. M. Selby, The Boer War (1969); P. Warwick, Black People and the South African War, 1899–1902 (1983); M. Bossenbroek, The Boer War (2013, tr. 2018).

References in periodicals archive ?
(9) For example, Saul Dubow argues that historians have neglected the construction of white "South Africanism" in their examinations of the South African War and its impact on the modern state of South Africa.
Written by two Christchurch women Joan Woodward and Glenys Mitchell, the book provides an absorbing account of the life of a woman who was raised in comfort on a sheep farm on the South Island, who trained as a nurse in London in the 1890s and who then served as a nurse in the South African War and in Serbia and Egypt during World War 1.
The report, compiled by South African War Crimes Investigator Richard Goldstone said both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during Israel's 22-day war on Gaza in December and January.
This could be the South African War which was fought a hundred years ago or it could be more recent, like the anti-apartheid struggle.
Of his other three sons, Lieutenant William was killed fighting in the Sudan and Captain Ewan shot himself after the South African war.
Leopold Amery was chief correspondent for The Times during the Boer War and edited the seven volume The Times History of the South African War (1900-09).
It begins with the South African War and there are four papers on the Great War, the emergence of the war correspondent in the Second World War, Humphrey Jennings, the documentary film maker in WWII, Italy's image in Allied war propaganda from 1943 to 1945, the role of movies in the Cold War, Carl Rowan as Director of the U.S.
Yesterday the Earl of Coventry attended a special service at Bromsgrove Parish Church to unveil a memorial of the Bromsgrove soldiers who fell in the South African war. The memorial is a rectangular brass plate on a green marble slab.
The sequence of centenary anniversaries of the South African War spawned a plethora of conferences across the world together with their attendant published proceedings (I must declare an interest here, having convened one of the former and edited one of the latter).
John Crawford & Ian McGibbon (eds.), One flag, one Queen, one tongue: New Zealand, the British Empire and the South African War 1899-1902, Auckland University Press, New Zealand, 2003, xii + 225 pp., illustrations, tables, index, soft cover, rrp NZ$39.99 (approx A$34.80).

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