The Boer War
The Boer War of 1899 was a dirty little conflict. It started a result of cultural resentment between the Boers (Dutch settlers) and immigrating British. At first, the war was fought with the honor typically associated with the British, but, in the end, it turned nasty. South Africa\'s Cape of Good Hope was colonized in the 17th century by Dutch Boers (farmers). The Boers used African slaves on their farms. Britain occupied the Cape during the Napoleonic wars and took complete control after the Congress of Vienna. Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833. Many of the Boers then decided that they could no longer live under British rule. They began moving northward and soon established two independent republics the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. There was peace between British and Boers until the Boer republics were found to be rich in diamonds and gold. Fortune hunters, mostly British, poured in to stake claims. The Dutch farmers called these people uitlanders (outlanders) and bitterly resented their intrusion. In 1895 the outlanders in the Transvaal planned a revolt against the Boer government. The British Empire, seeing their subjects mistreated, decided to get involved. Leander Jameson, with a small British force, invaded the Transvaal to aid the uprising. The Jameson raid was a total failure. The angered Boers, led by their president, Paul Kruger, began to arm themselves.
Militarily, the conflict between Boer and British forces can be divided into two phases: first, a period of Boer commando successes, quickly reversed after the arrival of the main British force in January 1900, which captured the republican capitals between March and June. Then came a guerrilla phase when the Boer forces regrouped after the fall of Pretoria and carried on the conflict for two years before reluctantly accepting peace terms from the British in May 1902 in the Treaty of Pretoria. Though often called a \'white man\'s war\', this conflict involved the entire population of South Africa in one way or another. Boer women and children who were evicted from farms or villages put to the torch by the British, were either sent to concentration camps where many died from disease, or went to endure the exposure of commando life in the field. African ex-miners and farm laborers were also concentrated in camps, and drawn into labor tasks by the British Army. Boers raided the African reserves for food. Africans reasserted control over land and livestock previously taken by Boers, and on rare occasions attacked Boer commandos. Martial law was proclaimed step by step across the whole region, and the movements of people were drastically restricted. For African scouts on the British side, or Boers caught in captured British uniforms, punishments were swift and final, while of the 10 000 Cape Afrikaner rebels convicted of treason, a small proportion of those sentenced to death by military courts were indeed shot.
Under Gruger*s Republic, Natal and the Cape, two of Britain\'s colonies, were invaded in October 1899 by the Boers. They besieged a British force at Ladysmith. Other troops were pinned down at Kimberley and Mafeking. The second war, which lasted until 1902, was underway. Between September 1900 and the peace of Pretoria in May 1902, Boer commandos fought a prolonged guerrilla war against the British, who responded by putting Boer civilians in concentration camps. Then reinforcements came to the British from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In March 1900 Frederick Sleigh Roberts, the British commander who had been the hero of the Indian mutiny, captured Bloemfontein, capital of the Orange Free State. In June British forces reached Pretoria, capital of the Transvaal. The greatly outnumbered Boers continued to fight under Louis Botha, Christiaan de Wet, and Jan Smuts. Herbert Kitchener, the new British commander in chief, then decided and eventually proceeded to bring the war to an end. He advanced slowly, burning farms and establishing concentration camps for Boer civilians. The camps had a high death rate, due largely to lack of medical services.
The Treaty of Pretoria (May 31, 1902) ended the war. The Transvaal and the Orange Free State became British colonies. Both Dutch and English were made official languages. Britain then began to restore the devastated farms of the Boers. The Union of South Africa was established as a