Second Boer War
The Second Boer War (also South African War ; English also Second Anglo Boer War, " Second Anglo-Boer War ", Afrikaans : Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, "Second Freedom War") from 1899 to 1902 was a conflict between Great Britain and the two Boer republics of Orange Free State and South African Republic ( Transvaal ), which ended with their incorporation into the British Empire . The reasons were, on the one hand, Britain's striving for the region's mineral resources and a territorially closed colonial empire in Africa and, on the other, the xenophobic legislation of the Boer republics.
After the Cape Colony , which had been Dutch until then, was ceded to Great Britain in 1806, the Boers living there became increasingly a minority. With the abolition of slavery in 1836, they found themselves robbed of their economic basis. In order to preserve their identity and not to have to bow to British laws, around 12,000 Boers avoided the hinterland in the so-called Great Trek from 1835 to 1841. North of the Orange River , they founded the Orange Free State with the capital Bloemfontein in 1842 and the South African Republic (Transvaal) with the capital Pretoria north of the Vaal .
From the time they were founded, the two Boer republics stood in the way of British expansion. The annexation of the South African Republic by Great Britain in 1877 triggered the First Boer War in 1880/81 , in which the South African Republic regained its independence.
Gold, Diamonds and Uitlanders
The most important triggering motive for the Boer War was the discovery of the high-yielding diamond and gold deposits in 1869 in Kimberley and in 1886 in Witwatersrand around Johannesburg in the area of the Boer republics. The prospect of quick wealth attracted thousands of gold diggers from numerous countries, especially from the British-administered neighboring areas, the Cape Colony and Natal . Cecil Rhodes' plans to expand his private colonial area of interest ( British South Africa Company ), however, were hindered by the sovereignty of the Boer-ruled and economically up - and-coming South Africa republic . Mainly this landlocked country stood in the way of his great power ideas, also in his capacity as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. The Boers saw their peculiarity threatened again. Under the anti-British-minded, pragmatic President of the Transvaal, Paul Kruger (1825–1904), a Boer business elite with specially granted monopolies arose. This brought Kruger's policy increasingly into conflict with the large mining companies, which were mostly foreign-run.
Rhodes and the Cape Cairo Plan
Kruger's policies provided Great Britain with the pretext to make itself the advocate of foreigners in the Boer republics and again to crack down on their independence. The real interest of British politics was the control of natural resources and the implementation of the so-called Cape Cairo Plan , which provided for a united British colonial empire from Egypt to South Africa.
One of the protagonists of this plan was the imperialist politician Cecil Rhodes , an entrepreneur who had become rich in the diamond business and who had been a member of the Cape Colony Parliament since 1881. In order to encircle the Boer republics and cut them off from the influence of the German Empire over its new colony German South West Africa (1884-1915), he took possession of Bechuanaland , today's Botswana , in 1885 , and in 1889 that of the later - named after him - Rhodesia ( today Zambia and Zimbabwe ) operated by the British. Goshen and Stellaland were annexed by Stellaland as the United States and became part of British Bechuanaland .
The Jameson Raid
Rhodes was Prime Minister of the Cape Colony since 1890 and continued his encirclement policy. In 1895 he promoted the so-called Jameson Raid , an armed raid led by Leander Starr Jameson , a British general administrator of Rhodesia , which was supposed to overthrow President Kruger. Rhodes caused the government in London to transfer a strip of land to him on the western edge of the Transvaal, but on the territory of the British protectorate of Bechuanaland . Rhodes had indicated that they wanted to build a railroad to Rhodesia there. However, it was Jameson who, as a senior government official, had about 600 police officers gathered in the area. Rhodes tried at the last moment to avert the action, Jameson did not receive this message and finally failed with his troops at well-prepared Boer commands on January 2, 1896. The government of the South African Republic managed this plan and its political aftermath through the clever action of Fend off Paul Kruger. The consequences included u. a. a growing distrust of the Boers in the Cape Colony, who had been loyal to the British Crown up to that point. The polarization between the British and the Boers has increased noticeably since this event and has persisted over the long term.
The successful defense against this attack prompted Kaiser Wilhelm II to send a congratulatory telegram to President Kruger. The so-called Krüger dispatch triggered a wave of anti-German outrage in Great Britain.
The Jameson Raid made a significant contribution to Kruger's retention of power in the Transvaal, who significantly increased military spending and had modern weapons procured in France and Germany. He also had large fortifications built around Pretoria and Johannesburg, but these were not to play a role in the later war.
Furthermore, the British saw themselves provoked in 1897 by the military alliance between the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Lord Alfred Milner, as governor of the Cape Colony, turned down conciliatory offers from Kruger and, from 1897 onwards, switched his political agenda to war.
The way to war
The ongoing discrimination against (British) Uitlanders served as a justification for military rearmament in the Cape Province, all the more so since leading colonial politicians such as the Governor of the Cape Province and High Commissioner for South Africa Alfred Milner and the British Colonial Minister Joseph Chamberlain had already considered the annexation of the Boer republics. Convinced of a quick victory over the Boers, they pushed ahead with preparations for war.
The President of the Orange Free State Marthinus Theunis Steyn invited Milner and Kruger to a conference that took place in Bloemfontein on May 30, 1899 . It was soon canceled without any result by the British. Kruger's subsequent compromise proposals in July and August were deliberately thwarted by Milner and his allies, who instead called for 10,000 soldiers to be deployed to reinforce the British garrisons in Natal . In the event of war, these should be followed by an army corps of 50,000 men under General Redvers Buller . After Milner had convinced Chamberlain of the necessity of this step, he succeeded in winning the majority of the cabinet on his side. The first contingent under George Stuart White was embarked in early September , and on September 22, the press spread that the British government had also approved the deployment of the Army Corps. A little later the troops already in Natal were pushed forward by the local commander Penn Symons near the border to Dundee .
Contrary to Steyn's advice, Kruger ordered the mobilization of the Transvaal on September 28 and sent the commandos under Piet Joubert to the borders. At the same time, an exodus of the Uitlander des Witwatersrand began, who sought refuge in Natal and the Cape Colony. On October 2nd, Steyn also gave in and had the citizens of the Orange Free State mobilized. Kruger, convinced of the inevitability of the outbreak of war, issued an ultimatum on October 9th. He called on the British to withdraw all troops from the Transvaal border within 48 hours and to reverse their troops at sea; otherwise the Transvaal and the Orange Free State would consider this a declaration of war. This ultimatum was received with relief in Great Britain, as there was no longer any need to issue an ultimatum of its own, which would have weighed on the country's moral position. The months of tug-of-war had come to an end. On October 14th, the first of Buller's troops were embarked in Southampton .
Course of war
Organization of the Boer armed forces at the outbreak of war
The Boer armed forces were well armed and, thanks to their organization, as mainly mounted units, were highly mobile. At the beginning they numbered around 40,000, during the war up to 80,000 men (including members of European countries who joined voluntarily, as well as a German volunteer corps founded by Adolf Schiel ). Of the armed forces, however, there were rarely more than 40,000 men in the field at the same time. When the war broke out, the British had only 15,000 regular troops in the Cape Colony and in the Natal Colony . The fighting was therefore initially extremely favorable for the Boers.
The Boer states had only a few professional soldiers , namely the 350-strong Transvaalse State Artillery (TSA) and the Oranje Vrijstaat Artillery Corps (OVSAC), which had around 160 members. Both corps doubled their strength at the outbreak of war by calling up reservists . Various police units such as the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek Politie (ZARP) in the Transvaal were also assigned to serve in the war . The artillery was largely organized on the European model. In the Transvaal the artillery was commanded by a lieutenant colonel (later colonel), in the Orange Free State a captain (later major).
The majority of the troops consisted of militia units who went into the field in civilian clothing suitable for off-road use, well armed and often on their own horses. The militia was divided into several hundred men ( burgers ), mostly mounted commandos ( commandos ), each named after their home district (e.g. Pretoria commando ). The Boerekommando ( Boerekommando ) were each led by a commander ( commandant ). Subordinate were about two to four field cornets, which were organized according to constituencies or municipalities ( Wyk ) and which were commanded by a field cornet ( Veldkornet ). If the field cornet comprised more than 200 burgers , an assistant cornet could be added. To relieve the officers , corporals ( corporal ) were finally appointed, each of whom presided over about 15 men from their immediate neighborhood.
At the head of the army was the General-Kommandant ( Kommandant-generaal ) in the Transvaal and the President in the Orange Free State. In the Transvaal, the generals later added the ranks Assistant-Kommandant-Generaal and “Kampfgeneral” ( Veggeneraal ), in the Orange Free State Main Commandant ( Hoofkommandant ), Assistant-Hoofkommandat and Veggeneraal . In peacetime, all command and general posts were filled by electoral procedure and were limited in time, e.g. B. in the Transvaal for three (Feldkornett) to five years (General-Kommandant). An exception was the artillery and police, whose members - as usual in regular units - were permanently employed and promoted according to seniority and personal aptitude.
The command officers, like the common militiamen, always wore civilian clothes. Likewise, the generals renounced , at least in the field, on noticeable clothing. Christiaan de Wet , for example, also wore civilian clothes , since 1902 Hoofkommandant and military commander in chief of the Orange Armed Forces. Transvaal's commander-in-chief, Louis Botha, preferred a simple khaki uniform with metal buttons and a stand-up collar, but without a badge of rank. (His predecessor Petrus Jacobus Joubert had occasionally put on the blue TSA officer's uniform on official occasions.) However, the common external hallmark of the Boer Commands was the slouch hat, often with the metal coat of arms, and one or two ammunition belts worn over the shoulders .
The Jameson Raid prompted the Boer states to rapidly modernize their military equipment. The Orange Free State reorganized its artillery in 1896 and provided it with 14 Krupp, 3 Maxim and 1 rapid-fire cannons. In the Transvaal, President Paul Kruger bought 37,000 Mauser Model 95 rifles and modern artillery , partly from private funds and probably bypassing parliament ( Volksraad ). When hostilities broke out, the Transvaal had around 80 guns, including new 7.7 cm Krupp field cannons C96, 75 mm Creusot field cannons, 37 mm rapid fire cannons (Vickers) Maxim-Nordenfelt "Pom-Pom" and 12 -cm Krupp howitzers. In addition, there were four copies of the 155 mm Creusot fortress cannon ("Long Tom") in 1897, one of which was initially installed in the four forts built to protect the capital Pretoria ( Fort Daspoortrand , Fort Klapperkop , Fort Schanskop , Fort Wonderboompoort ) was placed. During the war, however, they were used in the field, including during the unsuccessful sieges of the British garrisons of Mafeking and Ladysmith .
The Boers' first successes up to the beginning of 1900
After the Kruger ultimatum had expired, fighting broke out on October 12, 1899. Under General Piet Joubert, about 10,000 Boers crossed the border to Natal at Volksrust on October 13 and began their advance to Dundee, which they reached around October 20. With the arrival of further contingents, Joubert's army later grew to around 20,000 men. Further Boer contingents under Piet Cronjé and Koos de la Rey began around this time with the siege of the British outpost Mafeking in the far northeast of the Cape Colony and Kimberley on the border with the Free State. The first major skirmishes of the war at Talana Hill and ElandslaAGEN on October 20 and 21 ended with tactical successes by the British, but they soon had to withdraw from Dundee. The British Commander in Chief in Natal, George Stuart White, faced the advancing Boers on October 30th, later called "Mornful Monday", in the Battle of Ladysmith , which ended in utter disaster. White and his 12,000 men were trapped in Ladysmith and the rest of Natal, including the capital Maritzburg and the port of Durban, were exposed to a Boer attack. The British strategy of putting up hold-out resistance until Buller's arrival had thus failed. The Boers then undertook a foray into the interior of Natal, which they soon had to break off. Joubert, who was injured in a fall from his horse, was replaced by the 37-year-old Louis Botha . This decided to build a defensive position on the River Tugela in order to be able to fend off the expected British attempt at relief for Ladysmith.
Buller arrived in Cape Town on October 30th and faced the difficult decision of either following his original campaign plan and using all of his troops to invade the Free State, or splitting them up to aid the three besieged garrisons. Under Milner's influence, he chose the latter and went to Natal himself to lead the expedition to liberate Ladysmith. A division under Lord Methuen was sent by him to the relief of Kimberley, another under William Gatacre to the Eastern Cape. The cavalry division under John French shielded the border to the Free State from a feared Boer invasion of the Cape Colony, which under certain circumstances could have sparked an uprising among the Boer majority population of the colony.
The second week of December, known as Black Week , saw a series of three major defeats for the British on all fronts that undermined their entire campaign plan. Gatacre's humiliating defeat at Stormberg on December 10 was followed the next day by Methuen's setback at Magersfontein and on December 15, the day before Dingaan's Day, Buller's failure to attempt to cross the Tugela at Colenso . As a consequence, the British government decided to send another army corps, for which all reserves and the troops of the Dominions (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) had to be used, the formation of a mounted volunteer force of 20,000 men (Imperial Yeomanry) and the replacement of Buller as Commander in Chief Field Marshal Lord Roberts , hero of the Second Afghan War and Commander in Chief in Ireland at the time, to which Lord Kitchener , the hero of Omdurman , was added as Chief of Staff . The war, which had hitherto been expected to end successfully within a few months, was now turned into a question of national prestige that justified any effort. This was also due to the fact that public opinion in Europe almost unanimously sympathized with the Boers and joint political intervention by the other European powers (France, Russia and Germany) in their favor seemed at least possible at this point in time. This ultimately failed due to Germany's lack of interest.
The Boers defeated on January 6, 1900 at Colesberg part of the division of Lieutenant General French; on the same day they also tried unsuccessfully to conquer Ladysmith. Buller suffered a heavy defeat at the Kop spy near Ladysmith, in which he lost around 2,300 men, but the Boers failed to take advantage of this victory and so the British units were able to retreat across the Tugela River and gather forces for new advances.
Turn in favor of the British
The tide turned for the British only when Buller was replaced on January 10, 1900 by Field Marshal Lord Roberts and his Chief of Staff General Lord Kitchener and 60,000 reinforcements arrived in South Africa. The Boers were defeated in February at Tugela, where Buller was still in command, and at Paardeberg , and the besieged cities were taken one after the other. Kimberley was detained by the French cavalry on February 15, Ladysmith was freed by Buller on February 27, and Mafeking, defended by Robert Baden-Powell , held out until May 17, when Herbert Plumer and Bryan Mahon arrived for relief.
Meanwhile Roberts had begun his march on the capitals of the Boer republics; on March 13, the capital of the Orange Free State, Bloemfontein, and on June 5, the capital of the Transvaal, Pretoria, fell. President Kruger then fled to Portuguese East Africa , from where he later traveled to Europe on board a Dutch warship. The war seemed to have been won for Great Britain, although the Boers' transition to guerrilla warfare had already begun and had shown initial successes, as with Sanna's Post in late March. British successes against the Boer commandos retreating into the vastness of the Veld could only be achieved with great effort due to their knowledge of the terrain and their speed. Roberts therefore tried to speed up the end of the war with a “carrot and stick” strategy. After the Boer republics were annexed as crown colonies , those Boers who surrendered their weapons and took an oath of loyalty were allowed to go home. On the other hand, Roberts burned the Boer farms that continued the war and eventually expanded this into a policy of collective punishment. Ultimately, this turned out to be fatal, as it only spurred the Boers on to increased resistance to the bitter end. In December 1900, Roberts returned to England, leaving Kitchener in command.
Guerrilla warfare, scorched earth and the creation of concentration camps
Now the Boers changed their tactics and started a guerrilla war that was extremely costly for the British . Under their leader, General Christiaan de Wet , they fought on for a full two years. In small squads they carried out surprise attacks - mostly on the communications links, supply and transport routes of the British - and then quickly withdrew.
Since an enemy operating in this way was hard to capture in the conventional way, Kitchener employed a “ scorched earth ” strategy : the farms in the guerrilla areas were destroyed and the crops destroyed to starve the enemy. Around 120,000 farm residents, mostly women and children, were interned in concentration camps . Of these, over 26,000 died of hunger and disease due to catastrophic living conditions. The British Emily Hobhouse visited several concentration camps and campaigned for the internees in her home country.
In addition, Kitchener continued to restrict the Boer guerrillas' freedom of movement. To do this, he first built a system of log houses along the railway lines and finally across the whole country , which were occupied by small garrisons.
At the time of the peace agreement, 250,000 British soldiers (out of a total of 450,000 deployed) faced around 30,000 fighters on the Boer side.
Dealing with the non-European population
During the war, the British in particular received voluntary support from groups of black and colored people. They served as technical assistants, paramedics, transporters or even as fighters. The Boers, on the other hand, tried to keep the non-European population out of direct warfare. Captured were non-Europeans, it came two warring parties involved for their mistreatment and shootings . Massive attacks on the indigenous civilian population occurred particularly on the Boer side . The future Prime Minister Barry Hertzog and other of his military leaders turned out to be war criminals . In captivity guessed black assistants of the British military were en masse without trial executed . The Boers also gave no punishment for unjustified attacks on black people. In the Cape Colony any cooperation or solidarity with the Boer side was viewed as high treason and severely punished.
On May 31, 1902, the Boer War ended with the Peace of Vereeniging . The treaty provided for the incorporation of the two Boer republics into the British Empire, but otherwise granted the Boers generous peace conditions: They received all the rights of British citizens, and Afrikaans was recognized as the official language.
Reconciliation after the war
Despite the extreme cruelty of the fighting, the reconciliation between the British and the Boers succeeded relatively quickly. As early as 1907, the Orange Free State and Transvaal were granted self-government and their own governments. In 1910 they formed the South African Union with the Cape Colony and Natal . This received the status of a Dominion within the British Empire and has been a de facto sovereign state since then . Three generals of the defeated Boer army - Louis Botha , Jan Christiaan Smuts and Barry Hertzog - served the Union as Prime Ministers in turn.
However, not all Boers came to terms with the situation: For example, the former guerrilla leader Christiaan de Wet tried to trigger a pro-German uprising at the beginning of the First World War , which, however, had no prospect of success due to the numerical weakness of the German protection force in German South West Africa .
Germany and the Boer War
When the Boer War had already begun, William II set off for London with his Foreign Minister and was received with extraordinary friendliness at Windsor Castle . Ohm Krüger, who was asking for support in Europe and was once the addressee of the Krüger dispatch, received no help from the Kaiser this time.
First use of barbed wire in a military conflict
The Boer War is the first conflict in which barbed wire was used on a large scale. Barbed wire development began in the United States around 1865 when it became increasingly necessary to protect valuable land from herds of cattle from freely grazing.
To restrict the Boers' freedom of movement, the British troops under General Lord Kitchener used barbed wire, among other things, in the second half of the Boer War. First along the railway lines and then across the whole country, they built a system of log houses that were occupied by small garrisons. Barbed wire walls not only protected the immediate vicinity of these log houses and the railway lines, but also extended to the next log house, which at the height of the Boer War was no more than half a mile away. As long as it was light it was impossible for the Boers to cut through these walls, as they were a static target for the guns of the garrisons of both log houses. Bells, which were hung in the barbed wire fences, made no night attempts to cut through the walls. A total of 8,000 log houses and 3,700 miles of barbed wire walls were built by the British during the Boer War. The cost of this system, which the British eventually took control of the Veld , was £ 300,000, a fraction of the British war cost of more than £ 200 million. Baden Baden-Powell , one of the British officers participating in the Second Boer War, stated as early as 1903, shortly after the end of the conflict:
"Barbed wire can be seen as a significant development in modern warfare and it is very likely that it will be used extensively in future wars."
It is also the first conflict in which barbed wire was used to restrict prisoners' freedom of movement. The concentration camps to which Boer women, children and old men were brought were initially not fenced off. In the course of the clashes, however, these were fenced in with barbed wire to prevent any escape.
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