THE war has had far reaching results. It involved, not only the loss of many thousands of lives and many millions of pounds, ranking it as one of the direst campaigns in recent history, but it affected the destinies of many races in Africa.
The population of whites in the Transvaal is reckoned at 295,000; of Kaffirs, 620,000; and the war strength 26,500. In the Orange Free State—white population, 77,000; natives, 130,000; liable for military service, 20,000 men. Taking a wider survey; it is estimated that in British and Dutch South Africa there were, in 1899, 400,000 Englishmen or men of English descent, 500,000 Dutch, and 3,500,000 Indians, Malays, Hottentots, and members of Kaffir tribes. The Hollander element preponderates at the Cape and in the Orange Free State; in the Transvaal, Natal, and the district named Rhodesia the British are in a majority. Beyond are millions more of black races with whom we have been brought in conflict at different times, and for whose peace and settlement we have also assisted at great cost.
Up to the 1st of May, the seven months' campaign had cost the British Government 23.5 millions, a little over three millions a month and thereafter the cost was estimated to be over a million a week.
The casualties for the same period were:—
Killed in Action .......... 218 ........ 2,063
Died of Wounds ......... 53 ......... 492
Missing and Prisoners.. 171 ........ 3,925
Wounded ................ 664 ........ 9,225
Died of Disease ......... 64 ......... 2,028
Accidental Deaths......... — ........ 48
Invalids sent home
Wounded) ............... 345 ........ 4,958
Of the wounded a large percentage recovered and again responded to the bugle call.
The armed struggle has been protracted far beyond expectation, for the Republicans fought desperately as they said and felt, for liberty, for independence. Of their bravery there can be no question, though their military tactics often betrayed a low cunning and a lack of humanity. They defended their positions stoutly, and when repulsed sometimes returned to the attack.
The Boers often left their farms empty, taking their wives and children with them to the laager and even to the trench, showing a strong domestic affection. They took with them in their long, springless ox-waggons what cooking utensils, food, and ammunition they could. And leaving these at their base, the men on their shaggy ponies, with their rifles, were accustomed to make rapid marches for good distances to surprise the British.
It has been essentially a guerilla war—a war of ambush on the part of the Boers—not an open trial of strength, but a contest in strategic covert positions, and as the burghers usually had the choice of their defensive or attacking position, and ensconced themselves in deep ditches, on high hills, and shot from behind Kopjes, walls, or trees, the attacking Imperialists were at a great disadvantage. In the tricks of semi-savage warfare the enemy were adepts.
From an artist's point of view the eternal "khaki" and barren stony veldt, with an invisible enemy and smokeless powder, made picturesque sketches difficult to find or to invent. The war was devoid of the pomp and show of the historic pitched battles of Europe.
Yet never were the minutest details of a war so freely chronicled by the daily Press. Quite a corps of journalists followed the Imperial army, and many an officer also contributed sketches of the military movements. Never were so many Kodaks employed or every phase of a battlefield illustrated. In some cases, as at Mafeking, the war correspondents could only see the fight by taking part in it. At the capture of Bloemfontein some of them galloped in advance and heralded the approach of the victors, receiving an ovation by mistake.
The results of the war to trade, civilization, Christian missions, are far beyond imagination. However deplorable the means, thousands of miles of a country hitherto little known to us are now added to the British homeland as familiar suburbs for our surplus population.
We have not only added to our knowledge of the geography of South Africa, but we have a truer conception of who Mr. Boer is. We had been told he was a pious, peaceable pastoral Christian. We have discovered, alas, that the average Boer is " no better than he should be"—that the ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church—have to admit that the religion of their flock is more superficial than real. In order to remove a wrong impression on the subject, nine " Nonconformist " pastors at Kimberley, in a letter to the British Weekly, dated March 9th, 1900, stated that the Boers are as a rule "professing Christians," but they do not answer to the description that has been given of them, as God-fearing men, rich in Christian experience and holiness. " They have shown themselves unworthy of independence, especially in their relations to the native tribes, by oppression as to possessing land, as to legal marriage, and education."The reports as to the behaviour of the Boers towards their foemen varied—now they treated the wounded with kindness, now with barbarity, and there was the same contradiction as to their treatment of prisoners.