Instructor name Date The Boer War The Boer War or Anglo-Boer War was a South African conflict between Dutch speaking farmers and the British Empire that began in 1899 and lasted until 1902. Though this event is officially known as the Second Boer War, it is more commonly referred to as simply “The Boer War” because it lasted three years while the first, less memorable clash between these two factions was a rebellion lasting about one year (1880-1881)…
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The Boer War was the first major military conflict of the 20th Century. The strategies employed by both sides set precedences for wars throughout the new century. The Boers used guerilla warfare tactics against the heavily favored British who herded many thousands of men, women and children into detention camps, both precursors of wars to come. Although the Boers eventually won their independence it came at a heavy cost to both sides. The Boers were the descendents of Dutch farmers of the Cape Colony in the nation of South Africa. Beginning in 1835, they began moving outside the region to establish the Transvaal and Orange Free State due to the constant border conflicts with the British overlords on one side of their territory and native tribes constantly encroaching on the other. Together these newly formed regions were known as the Boar Republic which included the town of Johannesburg. While the Boers considered themselves a sovereign, autonomous society, the British claimed all of South Africa as its own. The two factions held to a relative yet uneasy peace until gold was discovered in 1886 on Transvaal land. A gold rush ensued flooding the Boer’s lands with miners, speculators and adventurers, “outlanders” as they were called by the Boers. “The discovery of gold at Witwatersrand in the Transvaal ended Boer seclusion and brought a mortal threat to the young nation’s dream of freedom from alien rule. By 1896 the population of Johannesburg had grown to more than a hundred thousand.” (Weber, 2012). The Boers of the Transvaal were poor farmers. The discovery of gold was a great revenue producer but the newcomers producing this wealth were denied citizenship from the government. By 1896, the population of Johannesburg was about 100,000, half of which were white but only 6,200 were citizens, all Boers. Neither the British nor Boers allowed citizenship to the indigenous black population. Government officials received petitions, one with 18,000 and another with 35,000 signatures demanding it allow non-Boer whites citizenship. Neither was given serious consideration. The Transvaal and Orange Free State Boers formed an alliance as tensions between the groups worsened. British forces were dispatched to the Boer regions to help calm the situation but this move only made the situation worse. On October 10, 1899 the Boer government gave the British an ultimatum demanding that British forces be removed within 48 hours or war would be declared. (Chamberlain, Droogleever, 2003) Britain did not comply with the ultimatum to withdraw its troops. On October 11 the war began when the Boers attacked and took control of the towns of Ladysmith, Kimberley and Mafeking. While the British were struggling to relieve their besieged forces in these towns, the Boers achieved inspiring victories in other major British strongholds such as Colenso, Stormberg and Magersfontein in December 1899. The fortunes of war soon changed however. By February of the next year Kimberley and Ladysmith had been retaken by the British. The somewhat disorganized Boer troops were being scattered throughout the countryside. Soon the Boer front line, such as it was, collapsed. The next several months were a time of great uncertainty
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