Boer War 1899 - 1902

Boer War 1899 - 1902

Introduction

The Anglo Boer War was fought by Britain and her Empire against the Boers.  The Boers were comprised of the combined forces of the South African Republic and the Republic of the Orange Free State.  The Boer Republics declared war on 11th October 1899 and the conflict ended on 31st May 1902, a duration of 2 years and 8 months.

There were three distinct phases to the War:

Stage 1 -  Boer offensive.  At first, the Boer republican fighters were successful in three major offensives.  Their commandos invaded northern Natal and besieged the town of Ladysmith, invaded Cape Colony to lay siege to the British garrisons in Kimberley and Mafeking.  While the British did achieve some tactical victories at Talana and Elandslaagte, there were serious defeats for the British at Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso which became known as 'Black Week' (10th - 15th December 1899).

Stage 2 - British response.  With heavy reinforcements and the assumption of overall command by Lord Roberts with Lord Kitchener as his Chief of Staff, the British turned the situation around.  Imperial troops eventually relieved the besieged towns of Ladysmith (28th February 1900), Kimberley (15 February 1900) and Mafeking (18th May 1900).  On 13th March 1900 Roberts occupied Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State, and on 28th May the province was annexed and renamed the Orange River Colony.  On 31st May, British troops entered Johannesburg and, on 5th June, Pretoria was taken. The Transvaal was annexed on 1st September 1900.  To many it seemed that the was was over.  At the end of November, Roberts made a triumphal return to England.

Stage 3 - Guerrilla war.  Under the leadership of Louis Botha, Christiaan de Wet, Jan Smuts and de la Rey, the Boers abandoned the British style of warfare and increased their reliance on small and mobile military units.  The mobility of these units enabled them to capture supplies, disrupt communications and undertake raids on the army of occupation.  They were very successful in evading capture.  In response, the British embarked on a scorched earth policy to deny supplies to the fighters.  Approximately 30,000 farms were burnt.  In March 1901 the need to restrict the movement of the Boers brought the development of 8,000 blockhouses and 3,700 miles of wire fencing guarded by 50,000 troops.   This was followed by a number of 'drives' which had the intention of cornering the Boers but the operations mainly produced large numbers of displaced Boer and African families.  These refugees were sent to concentration camps around South Africa.  These measures were largely responsible for bringing the Boers to the negotiation table to end the War.

 


Chronology

1899

October:  11th.-Time fixed by Boers' ultimatum expired at 5 p.m.  14th.-Boers march on Kimberley and Mafeking.  15th.-Kimberley isolated.  20th.-Talana Hill captured by British under Symons.  21st.-Boers routed at Elandslaagte.  22nd.-Yule retires from Dundee on Ladysmith.  23rd.-Death of Gen. Symons at Dundee.  30th.-Nicholson's Nek disaster.  31st.-Gen. Buller lands at Cape Town.

November:  1st.-Boers invade Cape Colony.  2nd.-Ladysmith isolated.  9th.-General attack on Ladysmith repulsed. 15th.-Armoured train wrecked near Chievely.  23rd.-Methuen successfully attacks Boers at Belmont.  25th.-Methuen successfully attacks Boers at Enslin.  28th.-Methuen defeats Boers at Modder River.

December:   10th.-Gatacre surprised in night attack on Stormberg.  11th.-Methuen repulsed at Magersfontein, Gen. Wauchope killed.  15th.-Buller's force repulsed at Colenso.  18th.-Lord Roberts appointed Com.-in-Chief in S. Africa.

1900

January:  6th.-Disaster to Suffolk Regt. near Rensburg.-Attack on Ladysmith repulsed.  10th.-Lords Roberts and Kitchener arrive at Capetown.-Movement for relief of Ladysmith resumed.  11th. –Dundonald seizes pont at Potgeiter's Drift.  18th.-Buller makes second attempt to relieve Ladysmith.  23rd-24th.-Spion Kop captured on 24th, but evacuated during night.-Gen. Woodgate fatally wounded.

February:  5th. -Buller's third attempt to relieve Ladysmith commenced.-Lyttlelton crosses Tugela, and captures Vaal Krantz.  9th.-Lord Roberts arrives at Modder River.  13th.-Lord Roberts at Dekiel's Drift.  15th.-Lord Roberts at Jacobsdal.-Relief of Kimberley.  17th.-Rearguard action between Kelly-Kenny and Cronje en route to Bloemfontein.-Fourth attempt to relieve Ladysmith.-Buller advances on Monte Cristo Hill.  19th.-Buller takes Hlangwane Hill.  20th.-Cronje bombarded by Lord Roberts near Paardeberg.  21st.-Fifth Division crosses Tugela.  23rd.-Buller unsuccessfully attacks Railway Hill.  26th.-Buller makes fresh passage of Tugela.  27th.-Cronje surrenders at Paardeberg.-Pieter's Hill carried by Hildyard.  28th.-Relief of Ladysmith.-Clements occupies Colesberg.

March:   5th.-Gatacre occupies Stormberg.-Brabant defeats and pursues Boers.  7th.-Lord Roberts routs Boers at Poplar Grove.  10th.-Lord Roberts defeats Boers at Driefontein.  13th.-Lord Roberts occupies Bloemfontein. 31st.-Broadwood attacked at Waterworks.-Artillery entrapped at Koorn Spruit.

April:  7th.-Col. Dalgety isolated near Wepener.  25th.-Dalgety relieved by Chermside.

May:   12th-Lord Roberts enters Kroonstad.-Attack on Mafeking repulsed, Commandant Eloff taken.  13th.-Mahon repulses attack at Koodoosrand.  15th.-Buller occupies Dundee.-Plumer joint hands with Mahon.  17th-18th.-Relief of Mafeking.  28th.-Annexetion of Orange Free State.  31st.-British flag hoisted at Johannesburg.-Surrender of Yeomanry at Lindley.

June:  5th.-Occupation of Pretoria.  8th.-Hildyard takes Botha's Pass.-Mishap to 4th Derbyshires at Roodeval.  11th.-Fight at Allemans Nek.  12th.-Boers evacuate Langs Nek.-Roberts defeats Botha at Diamond Hill.  14th.-Boer attack on Sand River repulsed.

July:   4th.-Roberts and Buller join hands at Vlakfontein.  11th.-Disaster to Scots Greys and Lincolns at Uitval Nek.  21st.-Advance towards Komati Poort begins.  30th.-Surrender of Prinsloo and 3,000 Boers to Hunter in Brandwater basin.

August:  16th.-Eland's River garrison relieved.  26th.27th.-Fighting at Dalmanutha.  30th.-Nooigedacht occupied and 2,000 prisoners released.

September:  6th.-Buller occupies Lydenburg.  13th.-Proclamation issued by Roberts calling on burghers to surrender.-French occupies Barberton.  25th.-British force occupies Komato Poort.

October:  9th.-De Wet driven across the Vaal.  24th.-Buller leaves Cape Town for England.  25th.-Formal annexation of S. African Republic.

November:  6th.-De Wet defeated at Bothaville.  23rd.-Garrison at Dewetsdorp captured by De Wet.  29th.-Lord Kitchener takes supreme command.

December:  5th.-De Wet’s attempt to enter Cape Colony frustrated by Knox. 11th.-Roberts leaves Cape Town for England.  13th.-Clements defeated by Delarey at Nooitgedacht.-Mishap to Brabant's Horse at Zastron.  14th.-De Wet and Steyn escape through Sprinkhaans Pass. 16th-20th.-Boer raid into Cape Colony.  28th.-De Wet fails to break back into Cape Colony.  29th.-Mishap to Liverpools at Helvetia.

1901

January:  7th.-Boer attack on Belfast.  18th.-Delarey's force defeated near Ventersburg.  28th.-French enters Ermelo.-Smith-Dorrien repels Botha.-Sweeping movement commences in S. E. Transvaal.

February:  10th.-De Wet enters Cape Colony.  28th.-De Wet recrosses Orange River, having lost his          guns.

March:  3rd.-Unsuccessful attack by Delarey on Lichtenburg.  22nd-23rd.-Babington routs Delarey at Ventersdorp.

April:  8th.-Plumer occupies Pietersburg.  14th.-Rawlinson captures laager at Klerksdorp.

May:   29th.-Delarey defeated by Dixon at Vlakfontein.

June:   2nd.-Kruitzinger captures James Town, Cape Colony.  6th.-Elliot captures De Wet's convoy near Reitz.  12th.-Disa.ster to Victorians near Wilmansrust.  26th.-Boers attack blockhouses on Delagoa Railway.

July:  13th.-Broadwood surprises Reitz.-Narrow escape of Steyn.

August:  6th.-Proclamation by Lord Kitchener of banishment of Boer leaders taken in arms after Sept. 15.  13th. -Kruitzinger's commandos routed near Steynsburg by Col. Gorringe.  17th.-Boer laager near Middelsburg captured by B.A.C.

September:  5th.-Lotter's commando captured by Col. Scobell.  10th.-Col. Crabbe routs Scheepers's commando at Laingsburg.  17th.-Major Gough surprised near Utrecht. Smut's commando surprises 17th Lancers at Elands River Poort.  26th.-Botha's attack upon Forts Itala and Prospect, on Zulu Border, repulsed.  30th.-Delarey's attack upon Kekewich's camp at Moedwill repulsed.

October:   16th.-Rhenoster River blockhouse line attacked.  20th.-Col. Dawkins captures three laagers, Nylstroom.  22nd.-Col. Benson surprises laager near Clipportje.  24th.-Kemp attacks Von Donop's convoy near Marico River.  25th.-Major Damant disperses Boers near Villiersdorp.  30th.-Col. Benson's column attacked at Brakenlaagte.

November:  1st.-Col. Kekewich captures Van Albert's laager.  7th.-Maritz attacks Picquetberg.  11th.-Major Pack Beresford, S.A.C., captures Dutoit's laager at Doornhoek.  14th.-De Wet attacks Col. Byng near Heilbron.  26th.-Gen. C. Knox captures Commandant Joubert.

December:   4th.-Gen. Bruce Hamilton captures laager near Ermelo.  10th.-Bruce Hamilton captures Bethel commando.  12th.-Bruce Hamilton captures Piet Viljoen's laager.  20th.-Majors Damant's and Bridgeford's columns severely handled by Boers.  23rd.-Kroonstad-Lindley blockhouse line completed. 24th.-De Wet captures Col. Firman's camp at Tweefontein.  29th.-Bruce Hamilton captures Gen. Erasmus east of Ermelo.

1902

January:  10th.-Bruce Hamilton captures Wolmaran's laager.  22nd.-Beyers enters Pietersburg concentration camp.  25th.-Gen. Ben Viljoen captured near Lydenburg.  28th.-Col. Du Moulin killed at Abraham's Kraal.  30th.-Col. Price takes Wessel's laager in Cape Colony.

February:  4th.-De Wet's last gun captured by Col. Hon. J. Byng.  5th.-Lord Kitchener commences Wolvehoek drive against De Wet.  8th.-British convoy captured near Fraserburg.  12th.-Mishap to 28th Co. Mounted Inf. at Klip River.  20th.-Col. Park captures commando in Bothasberg.  22nd.-Col. Mackenzie captures Hans Grobelaar's commando near Lake Chrissie.  24th.-Delarey captures Von Donop’s convoy near Wolmaranstad.

March:  7th.-Major Paris's column overwhelmed near Tweebosch by Delarey.-Methuen wounded and captured.  15th.-Bruce-Hamilton surprises Emmett's commando, captures Gen. Cherry Emmett. 31st.-W. Kitchener's column repulse Delarey.

April:  1st.-2nd Dragoons surprise laager at Boschman’s Kop.  8th.- Col. Colenbrander attacks Beyers near Pietersburg.  11th.-Kemp's men attack Kekewich's column at Rooiwal; repulsed with heavy loses.

May:  11th.-Col. Barker captures Manie Botha.-Rebels invest Ookiep.  7th.-Col. Cooper relieves Ookiep.-Serious accident to armoured train near Pretoria.  16th.-Conference at Vereeniging.-Jack Hindon, train wrecker, surrenders at Balmoral.  18th.-Aberdeen attacked by 120 Boers.  21st.-Lord Lovat captures Fouche's camp at Stapleford.  25th.-J. Hindon's corps surrenders at Balmoral.  27th.-Commandant Malan, mortally wounded, captured at Ripon Road, Cape Colony.  31st.-Conditions of surrender signed.

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