the boer war and battle of paardeberg

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Information about the boer war and battle of paardeberg

Published on February 14, 2008

Author: Bruno


THE BOER WAR AND THE BATTLE OF PAARDEBERG:  THE BOER WAR AND THE BATTLE OF PAARDEBERG 1899-1901 Background to the Boer Wars:  Background to the Boer Wars The Cape was originally settled by the Dutch East India Company, but was occupied by the British at the turn of the 18/19th centuries. British rule was confirmed in 1815 and settlement began. The abolition of slavery throughout the Empire in 1834 and a growing Afrikander (Afrikaner) discontent with the 'biased' laws of the Cape provoked "The Great Trek" of 1838, ending north of the Orange River (though most Boers remained at the Cape). Background to the Boer Wars:  Background to the Boer Wars Boer (Boer translates as 'farmer') conflict with the Zulus ended for the most part after the victory of General Pretorius at the battle of Blood River in 1838. Boer settlement and concentration in Natal led to British annexation of the area in 1843. In 1848, the British defeated General Pretorius at Boomplatz. Soon after, the Transvaal (1852) and Orange Free State (1854) were confirmed as independent by the Sand River, and Bloemfontein Conventions, respectively. The Zulu War 1879:  The Zulu War 1879 The Zulu War:  The Zulu War After the defeat of the 24th Regt at Isandhlwana and the epic defence of Rorke's Drift, the British moved to extinguish the Zulus as a military force. Background to the Boer Wars:  Background to the Boer Wars Following the defeat of the Zulus, under Cetshwayo, at the Battle of ULUNDI in 1879, the British faced increased tension with the white Afrikaners (or Boers). Three Generations of Boers Slide9:  Britain sought the unification of whole of South Africa under the British flag. The existence of the two Boer republics namely the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State were therefore a stumbling block. The two republics on the other hand wanted to preserve their independence and to build their republics into regional forces. They were therefore not prepared to become part of a united South Africa under British authority. The First Boer War 1880 - 1881:  The First Boer War 1880 - 1881 The Boers subsequently rose under Kruger and struck against the British whose troop numbers to enforce British rule in the Transvaal were limited to 1,760. 20 Dec 1880 264 soldiers from the 94th Regt were sent against the Boers and defeated by a 1000 strong Commando. The 94th were decimated (77 killed and over 100 wounded). The First Boer War 1880 - 1881:  The First Boer War 1880 - 1881 The Boers now assembled 2,000 men at Laing’s Nek – controlling the route from Natal into the Transvaal. In 1881, General Sir George Pomeroy Colley led a force of 1,000 into the Transvaal. The First Boer War 1880 - 1881:  The First Boer War 1880 - 1881 Colley ordered the 58th Regt to charge up the steep slopes of the feature and seize the Boer positions. They advanced in their red tunics with their Colours flying – they were badly mauled. Out of the 480 who attacked – 160 were casualties. The Boers lost 41 men. The First Boer War 1880-1881:  The First Boer War 1880-1881 26 Feb - Colley ordered his force to occupy the top of Majuba Hill. The 6,000 ft high feature overlooked the Boer Camp at Laing’s Nek. The Boers were caught out and the feature was occupied by 500 British Infantry and Highlanders who jeered down on the Boers. The Battle of Majuba Hill:  The Battle of Majuba Hill 1,000 Boer riflemen got into position and opened fire to keep the British pinned down, whilst the assault party began its climb. The Boers immediately opened fire and at a range of 2000 yards managed to kill one of the British soldiers. Hundreds of Boers volunteered to climb the hill and chase off the British – only 180 were allowed to do so The Battle of Majuba Hill:  Despite the odds, the young Boers managed to reach the summit. Colley himself ignored the threat and even fell asleep. The Boers occupied a position from where they systematically began to pick off the Highlanders. Colley suddenly realised that all was not well and moved his reserve forward and fired a volley at the Boers – who simply ducked and returned a volley – killing 20 redcoats in the process. The Battle of Majuba Hill The Battle of Majuba Hill:  The Battle of Majuba Hill Panic broke out amongst the British and many began to stream down the hill. Colley tried to rally those remained – he was shot in the head by a 12 year old Boer. The British fled the feature in chaos. The Battle of Majuba Hill:  The British defeat at Majuba Hill had a profound effect on both sides. 554 British soldiers, under the army’s most brilliant commander, had been routed by a group of boys and irregulars. The British casualties amounted to 93 killed, 133 wounded and 58 taken prisoner. The Boers suffered 1 killed and 5 wounded. The Boers demonstrated that they could defeat the British in battle. The Battle of Majuba Hill The Pretoria Convention:  The Pretoria Convention The Pretoria Convention resulted and ended the war. Self-government was restored to the Transvaal and Orange Free State; though Britain reserved ultimate control over foreign affairs, as 'paramount power' in Southern Africa. Tension Returns:  Tension Returns The discovery of gold in the Transvaal, in 1886, once more raised the stakes. Tension Returns:  Tension Returns A large influx of English-speaking people (Uitlanders) attracted by the goldfields, worried the Boers who saw them as a threat to their way of life. A new era in the relations between the governments in Britain and the South African Republic began when Britain appointed Joseph Chamberlain to the Colonial Office in 1895. Joseph Chamberlain:  Joseph Chamberlain He was an avowed imperialist who wanted to press ahead with federating South Africa under a British flag. Victorian arrogance was also a factor which furthered resentment with the Boers The Jameson Raid:  The Jameson Raid Cecil John Rhodes, the Premier of the Cape (with the tacit approval of Chamberlain) organised what became known as the infamous Jameson Raid. It was an attempt to provoke an uprising of Uitlanders in Johannesburg to secure political rights, and thus out-vote the Boers in their own Republic. The Jameson Raid:  The Jameson Raid The 'raid' envisaged a three-day dash from Pisani & Mafeking, to Johannesburg before the Boers could organise to prevent it. The 'raiders' were 400 Rhodesian Police, & 120 volunteers - led by 'Dr Jim', (Leander Starr Jameson), Administrator of Rhodes' & Beit's Chartered Company (which ran Rhodesia for the Crown). The Jameson Raid:  The Jameson Raid No uprising took place in Johannesburg, and the raiders were captured at Doornkop, within a couple of hours ride of Johannesburg. Jameson took the blame, but Rhodes was forced to resign as Chairman of the Chartered Company, and as Cape Prime Minister. The Jameson Raid:  The Jameson Raid Kruger assumed hero status overnight, and was elected to a fourth term as President in 1898. Its failure was a humiliation for Britain and the supporters of confederation and led to further deterioration of the relationship between the British and Boer governments. The Road to War:  The Road to War In 1897, anxious to overcome the set-back and to give the British policy fresh impetus, Joseph Chamberlain, appointed an outspoken imperialist, Sir Alfred Milner, as High Commissioner for South Africa. The Road to War:  The Road to War For his part Kruger, was even more reluctant to permit the Uitlanders to enjoy political power. Milner negotiated for Uitlander rights on behalf of Chamberlain, with Kruger at Bloemfontein, (May/June 1899). Milner engineered the collapse of the talks, precipitating an ultimatum by the Boers. The Road to War:  The Road to War On 9 October the South African Republic issued the ultimatum - demanding the withdrawal not only of British troops from their borders, but of all reinforcements sent to South Africa since 1 June 1899, and the recall of troops then sailing to South Africa. The ultimatum was rejected and, on 12 October, Boers of the allied Republics invaded Cape Colony and Natal. The British Army in 1899:  The British Army in 1899 The British had waged war 'on the cheap' for fifty years. There had not been more than two engagements where they had lost more than 100 men since 1857. They had been, essentially, small wars against disunited and ill-armed African and Indian tribesmen. Often these had begun with shattering reverses; small bodies of men (Isandhlwana, Gordon in Khartoum), surrounded by tribal warriors who gave no quarter, and who had fought to the last cartridge. The British Army in 1899:  In due course the main British army had come on the scene, and inflicted a crushing and permanent defeat on the enemy. By European standards, such actions involved little tactical or strategic manoeuvring - Rifles against spears: 15000 dead at Omdurman, in 1898, (although Kitchener casting the bones of the Mahdi in the Nile, and speculating on the possibilities of using his skull as a drinking cup, had caused a political storm at home.) Khaki uniforms had by now replaced the Red Tunic. The British Army in 1899 The Boers in 1899:  The Boers in 1899 The Boers (Burghers) were not regarded (except by Sir Redvers Buller) as a serious military adversary, in spite of the British defeat at Majuba Hill (27 February, 1881). The Boers in 1899:  The Boers in 1899 There was no serious knowledge sought of the South African terrain and despite the fact that the War Office had consistently 'sniffed' at the military threat of the Boer Republics, by the outbreak of hostilities the Boers had thousands of modern, rapid-firing Mauser rifles (using smokeless charges), a number of field guns and 4 Creusot "Long Tom" cannons. They were to prove a formidable adversary The War:  The War British troops gathered from the United Kingdom, the Mediterranean and India, initially totalling 15,000. The initial force was placed under General Sir George White, to be followed by the main force under General Sir Redvers Buller. The British Plan:  The British Plan Buller had argued that the British forces should dig in on the Tugela River, and not advance into Northern Natal, in case it was cut off by a Boer invasion. Buller planned to concentrate the Army, sweeping north to Bloemfontein from the Cape. The expectation was that conflict would take the form of the set-pieces practiced at Aldershot - they were sadly mistaken. Initial British tactics relied on the transportation of troops and supplies by train, the use of armoured trains for reconnaissance and patrols. The Importance of Mobility:  The Importance of Mobility Troops for the first part of the war were limited to movement about 8 miles either side of the railway, since they were supplied with far too few horses, or oxen to match Boer mobility. There were also a number of Uitlander irregulars attached to the British Army. Boer tactics were to defend their territory through aggressive defence, using mounted infantry; inviting the British to storm hidden defensive positions (river banks, kopjes) at great cost. The spade was to become the Boers' secret weapon. The Boer Invasion of Natal:  The Boer Invasion of Natal The Boers invaded Natal with 4 columns, and met a British force at Dundee on 20 Oct . The primary object of the Boer command was to isolate or wipe out the British forces at Dundee and Ladysmith in Natal, and at Mafeking and Kimberley in the Cape, before the arrival of British reinforcements. Dundee . Initial Boer Set-backs:  Initial Boer Set-backs The Boers were defeated at Dundee. This was a tactical victory for the British (now wearing khaki) the price of some surrendered cavalry, and the death of the Boer Commander. The next day the British had further success at Elandslaagte , involving a cavalry charge by the 5th Lancers & 5th Dragoon Guards, which turned the veld into a butcher's shop: "Most excellent pig-sticking for about 10 minutes, the bag being about 60" (Officer quoted in Times, 13/12/1899). The Sieges Begin:  The Sieges Begin Notwithstanding this, White was forced to withdraw in a forced march to Ladysmith, the principal British base in Natal, to avoid being outflanked by the Boer columns. Having done so, he found himself surrounded and besieged on 2 Nov 1899 - as were Kekewich & Rhodes at Kimberley; and Baden-Powell at Mafeking. The Siege of Mafeking:  The Siege of Mafeking Colonel Robert Baden-Powell was later famous as the founder of the Scout Movement. At the outset of the siege he had at his disposal 750 locally-raised troops and a force of 400 irregulars formed from the townspeople. In addition, more than 600 black Africans were employed as cattle guards. The civilian population of the town numbered 650 Europeans and 7,000 Africans. The Siege of Mafeking:  The Siege of Mafeking In order to secure the best defensive positions Baden-Powell decided to defend a perimeter approximately 12km. long around the town. As the siege progressed the military role of the armed black population became increasingly important. Baden-Powell had an ambivalent attitude towards the black Africans in Mafeking, without whose assistance the town would quickly have fallen. The Siege of Mafeking:  The Siege of Mafeking 6,000 burghers under the command of General Piet Cronje were deployed immediately after the expiration of the SAR ultimatum on 11 October. The Boer bombardment began on 16 October. However, after Cronje left on 19 November and command devolved to General J Snyman, the investment became less energetic. The siege lasted 217 days, the longest of the War. By the time Mafeking was relieved on 17 May battle casualties on both sides had reached 463. Ladysmith:  Ladysmith Ladysmith took its name from the wife of Sir Harry Smith – a former Governor of the Cape. Sir Harry was a former officer of the Rifle Brigade and hero of the Peninsula War The Siege of Ladysmith:  The Siege of Ladysmith Some 13,500 troops, the vast majority British regulars, and 7,500 civilians, 2,500 of them Indians, were confined within a 22.5km perimeter by 17,000 burghers. As the investment proceeded the number of burghers in the trenches rarely exceeded 5,000. The Boers opened their bombardment on 2 November with seventeen guns, later increased to 22. The Siege of Ladysmith:  The Siege of Ladysmith Some 13,500 troops, the vast majority British regulars, and 7,500 civilians, 2,500 of them Indians, were confined within a 22.5km perimeter by 17,000 burghers. As the investment proceeded the number of burghers in the trenches rarely exceeded 5,000. The Boers opened their bombardment on 2 November with seventeen guns, later increased to 22. The Importance of Ladysmith:  The Importance of Ladysmith Buller's fears were confirmed. To rescue White (and then sack him) would require splitting the Army and crossing the Tugela, a natural defensive position from either side. Sacrificing Ladysmith was politically unacceptable (many in Britain felt that the fall of such a landmark British South African city might precipitate rebellion in other parts of the Empire, particularly India). The Garrison held on in hope. The British Move:  The British Move Meanwhile, the first British reinforcements had already arrived in South Africa. General Sir Redvers Buller, the British Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, soon after his arrival in South Africa on 31 October 1899, decided to relieve Ladysmith and Kimberley as soon as possible and to try and halt the Boer offensive in Natal and the Northern Cape. The British Move:  The British Move The British Move:  The British Move On 25 November Buller arrived in Natal. His reinforcements at Frere soon numbered more than 21,000 men and 46 guns. North of Colenso, Louis Botha and his 4 500 Transvalers and 5 guns blocked the way to Ladysmith. The Relief of Kimberley:  The Relief of Kimberley Meanwhile Methuen had received orders from Buller to go on to Kimberley as quickly as possible. With some 10,500 men (including 2 KOYLI), reinforced regularly, he managed to drive the Boers from their positions at Belmont (23 Nov 1899) and Graspan two days later. On 28 Nov 1899 Methuen, with 2 KOYLI under command, crossed swords with De la Rey at the Modder River. The Battle of Stormberg:  The Battle of Stormberg On the southern front many Cape colonists, who sympathised with the Boer cause, joined the ranks of the Boer army. The Battle of Stormberg:  The Battle of Stormberg The Battle of Magersfontein:  The Battle of Magersfontein The Boers now took up position at Magersfontein where Methuen attacked them on 11 December 1899. Here the Boers suffered some 225 casualties while the British lost some 971 men. The unsuspecting British troops, with the Highland Brigade in the lead, walked straight into the deadly fire from the Boer trenches. The Battle of Magersfontein:  The Battle of Magersfontein The Boers now took up position at Magersfontein where Methuen attacked them on 11 December 1899. Here the Boers suffered some 225 casualties while the British lost some 971 men. The unsuspecting British troops, with the Highland Brigade in the lead, walked straight into the deadly fire from the Boer trenches. Disaster at Colenso:  Disaster at Colenso On 15 December 1899, Buller's forces suffered a disastrous defeat at Colenso. Arrogance played a major role in the British defeat. While Buller watched in disbelief, his Infantry and Artillery over extended themselves and were cut to pieces by Boer marksmen Disaster at Colenso:  Disaster at Colenso When the British realised their predicament – it was too late. The British Horse Artillery had placed itself too far forward and was unable to extract itself due to the continued withering fire. The guns were about to be lost……. Disaster at Colenso:  Disaster at Colenso One of the volunteers was Freddie Roberts - the only son of Lord Roberts. The some of the guns were saved but at great cost. Roberts was killed – he was posthumously awarded the VC. “Black Week”:  “Black Week” British reverses at Stormberg (10 Dec), Magersfontein (11 Dec) and Colenso (15 Dec), became known as the “Black Week”. It came as a major shock to the British public who were used to hearing of British victories throughout the Empire. Tactics, which had generally proved successful against poorly armed opponents, turned out to be disastrous when used against the Boers, who were adept in field craft and the use of modern, rapid-fire small arms. The Siege of Ladysmith Continues:  The Siege of Ladysmith Continues Buller's first attempt to relieve Ladysmith thus ended in dismal failure. In an attempt to occupy Ladysmith the Boers launched an attack on Platrand on 6 January 1900. The lack of Boer leadership and cooperation and the valiant defence of the British troops caused the attack to fail. The Arrival of Lord Roberts:  The Arrival of Lord Roberts Buller's defeat at Colenso led to his replacement by Lord Roberts as supreme commander of the British forces in South Africa on 18 December 1899. However, before Roberts' arrival, Buller tried, once again, to break through to Ladysmith. The Relief Force Continues:  The Relief Force Continues Buller decided to cross the Tugela (with 2 DLI) a few kilometres west of Colenso and to go round the Boers' right flank. On 16 January Lieutenant General Sir Charles Warren crossed the river with the aim to take Spioenkop, to threaten the Boers on Tabanyama Hill. Disaster at Spioenkop:  Disaster at Spioenkop On 24 January 1900 the British column of 2,000 men, under Major-General ERP Woodgate, became pinned down by the Boers on the summit of Spioenkop. Disaster at Spioenkop:  Disaster at Spioenkop The British believed that if they could capture this flat-topped hill, they could place guns on top, and clear the way for the army to relieve Ladysmith some 30 km. beyond. "An Acre of Massacre" was how the battlefield on top of Spion Kop was described, after a battle in which hundreds of British soldiers were killed before the army retreated back across to this side of the Tugela River. Disaster at Spioenkop:  British fortunes took a turn for the worse behind this part of the British trenches, when General Woodgate was shot in the head by a Boer sniper. Disaster at Spioenkop Disaster at Spioenkop:  Disaster at Spioenkop The British attacked and in the process lost 225 men, 122 were missing, 550 were wounded and 178 were captured. Fifty-eight Boers were killed and 140 were wounded. A third attempt to relieve Ladysmith (5-7 February) came to nothing at Vaalkrans, where 1 DLI were heavily engaged. Enter Lord Roberts:  Enter Lord Roberts The new Commander-in-chief, Lord Roberts landed in South Africa on 10 January 1900 and was immediately informed of the death of his only son at Colenso. Roberts decided to conquer the Boer Republics from the Cape Colony, in keeping with the original strategy. His Chief of Staff was Lord Kitchener Slide66:  He decided to use the western railway line for his advance and saw the relief of Kimberley as his prime objective. After achieving this he would then leave the railway line and make an eastward attack on Bloemfontein and then advance on Pretoria. The Road to Paardeberg:  The Road to Paardeberg From January 1900 he gathered a force of some 50,000 men for the coming campaign. To relieve Kimberley, Roberts held the attention of General PA Cronje and CR De Wet with an Infantry division, while French’s Cavalry moved off in a wide arc, past Cronje’s left flank. Kimberley Relieved:  Kimberley Relieved After a 10-mile cavalry charge - killing most of the 5000 horses – (Britain's only large mobile force in Africa!) French entered Kimberley on 15 February 1900. The Road to Paardeberg:  The Road to Paardeberg General Piet Cronje left Magersfontein with his convoy of wagons and retreated to Paardeberg. On the 17th Feb the Boers prepared their defences. The Battle of Paardeberg:  The Battle of Paardeberg On 18 February 1900, British forces began to besiege the Boer army at Paardeberg Drift on the banks of the Modder River. 2 KSLI established themselves in a concentration area behind a feature known as Signal Hill along with the 9 Div Headquarters. At 7.30, February 18th, 2 DCLI received orders to parade. Shortly afterwards the battalion received orders to send one company on outpost duty, the remaining six companies being detailed as escort to the Divisional Baggage Column Slide71:  The river was shoulder deep. Engineers established ropes across the water and the soldiers linked arms to cross it. By 10.30 am the whole Brigade was over the River and the machine guns were ferried across. The Brigade formed up ready for their attack. The Advance to Gun Hill:  The Advance to Gun Hill Their battle drills must have been of the highest order to have been able to cover so much ground so quickly, in the face of enemy fire. Slide73:  By this stage the KSLI had lost 8 NCOs and men killed and 4 officers and 32 ORs wounded. The Role of Kitchener:  The Role of Kitchener Kitchener had made a poor reconnaissance of the Boer positions – underestimating their strength. He galloped around the battlefield issuing verbal order to unit commanders Slide75:  By early afternoon through exhaustion, lack of information and bad communications, the attacks had petered out. Relief came when a thunderstorm broke over the battlefield – quenching the thirst of the soldiers…but stopping communications by heliograph and making the river impassable. It was at this stage that Kitchener decided he would have one last attempt to dislodge the Boers from the donga. The Cornwall’s Charge:  The Cornwall’s Charge Kitchener decided to launch four companies of 2 DCLI, who had been guarding the transport, into battle. At 1.30 Sir Henry Colville, who was on a kopje about a mile ahead of the DCLI laager, sent for the CO - Col Aldworth. At 2 o’clock the CO returned and told the Battalion that were “elected to lead a rush on the Boers in a donga in the river bed”. The Cornwall’s Charge:  Lt Fife in his diary wrote: ‘The enemy had been reinforced in the direction of this "hole" all the forenoon and were reported to be 2,000 or 3,000 in number. The Colonel must have known that it was a forlorn hope we were detailed for, but he made a splendid address to the men. His words were: "This is to be a charge - a charge which shall live for all time to come; it is to be known as the "Cornish charge". I have a £5 note to hand to the first man who gets into the Boer trenches.’ The Cornwall’s Charge The Cornwall’s Charge:  Smith-Dorrien wrote: ‘We had a regular fusillade all day and were doing splendidly when Lord K, getting impatient, ordered half the Cornwall’s over the river to charge with the Canadians. I was horrified when I saw them moving forward to charge at about 3.30pm, as I could see that they had not the ghost of a chance’. The Cornwall’s Charge Slide79:  The CO was the first to cross, joining hands with Capt. Mander and about four men. They had a desperate struggle but gained the north bank. Eventually they reached the Canadian firing line, and the CO went up to tell the officers in charge there to support the charge. Almost immediately the CO returned (bayonets were fixed while he was away). He gave the order to "advance", "prepare to charge", "charge"! The Cornwall’s Charge:  The Cornwall’s Charge The men gave a tremendous shout and rushed pell-mell through the firing lines. They advanced about 300 yards amidst a most terrific hail of bullets, pom-pom shells, and shrapnel, men falling every yard. The Cornwall’s Charge:  They suffered severe casualties (27 dead and 74 wounded) – including the CO… "Suddenly the colonel fell on his face and sat up on one elbow, and yelled "Come on Dukes! Come on Cornwalls!" and then suddenly dropped again, and never moved. He was evidently hit through the chest, and then through the brain. He was buried, next to the long grass, in which about thirty of the Cornwalls and the Canadians lie.". The Cornwall’s Charge Lord Robert’s Takes Over:  Lord Robert’s Takes Over Roberts arrived the next morning and was appalled at the handling of the battle. The night before the Boers, who wreaked havoc on the Cornwall’s, withdrew about 1,500 yards. He decided not to attack again, but instead to invest the laager and shell and starve the Boers into surrender. Slide83:  Over the next few days, desultory firing was kept up on both sides. The Boers were principally sniping, while the British and Canadians returned fire when the opportunities occurred. Meanwhile the artillery constantly bombarded the Boer laager. By the 26th, the forward trenches of 19 Brigade had been extended further so that that another advance could be made towards the Boers’ final position. The Canadian’s Charge:  The Canadian’s Charge The attack was made on the night of the 27th, with Engineers in support. The Canadians got to within 80 yards of the Boers. 2 KSLI covered the attack with accurate long-range rifle fire. Cronje Surrenders:  Cronje Surrenders A quarter of an hour after daylight on the 27th a white flag was seen flying over the laager. The sight of the white flag brought cheers from the exhausted British and Canadians. Cronje Surrenders:  Cronje Surrenders 19 Brigade marched into the laager a little later to round up the prisoners. The smell was appalling. Casualties on both sides were heavy: British losses were 258 killed, 1,211 wounded and 68 taken prisoner. The Boers lost 100 killed, 250 wounded and 4,069 captured. Cronje Surrenders:  Cronje Surrenders The surrender of Cronje and his Boers resulted from the combination of British determination to defeat him and the psychological impact of the withering artillery fire. Cronje Surrenders:  Cronje Surrenders The date of the surrender was significant - 27th February 1900 – the anniversary of the British defeat at Majuba on the 27th February 1881 (Cronje was present at both) Lessons Learnt:  Lessons Learnt The lessons from Paardeberg were very apparent: The importance of recce A clear cut chain of command Clear orders and objectives Concentration of force The Aftermath of Paardeberg:  The Aftermath of Paardeberg Cronje's surrender was a severe blow to the Boers and many burghers fled in despair. On 7 March General De Wet tried in vain to check the British advance on Bloemfontein, at Poplar Grove. Three days later De la Rey's burghers defended at Driefontein but had to retreat, because they were in danger of being outflanked. On 13 March1900 Lord Roberts finally occupied Bloemfontein. Buller Marches On:  Buller Marches On In Natal Buller at last realised that the key to success at Ladysmith lay in capturing Hlangwane Hill and the surrounding hills, south of the Tugela River and northeast of Colenso. When Buller managed to capture these hills from 17-19 February the Boers' power of resistance crumbled and many dispirited burghers started leaving the front. Ladysmith Relieved:  Ladysmith Relieved Inspired by the news of Cronje's surrender, the British finally managed to break through the Boer lines surrounding Ladysmith, at Pietershoogte, on 27 February 1900. The Garrison waited for their arrival… Ladysmith Relieved:  Ladysmith Relieved The Boers now retreated towards the Biggarsberg and on 28 February Ladysmith was relieved. The Boers Change Tactics:  On 17 March, 1900 at a joint council of war at Kroonstad, the Boers decided among others to abolish the cumbersome wagon laagers. The Boers Change Tactics The Boers Change Tactics:  On 17 March, 1900 at a joint council of war at Kroonstad, the Boers decided among others to abolish the cumbersome wagon laagers. In future they would employ mobile mounted commandos which heralded a new method of fighting. After De Wet had granted the Free State burghers a brief leave of absence, they regrouped at the Sand River on 25 March 1900, inspired with new courage. De Wet harassed the British by frequently attacking from the rear. Isolated British columns were among his favourite targets. The Boers Change Tactics The Battle for Sannaspos:  The Battle for Sannaspos On 31 March 1900 he dealt the British a severe blow when he defeated Brigadier-General RG Broadwood's forces at Sannaspos, 28 km east of the Free State capital. This victory managed to raise the Boers' morale and many burghers who had gone home after the fall of Bloemfontein again took up their weapons. The Battle for Sannaspos:  The Battle for Sannaspos 2 DLI formed a mounted Infantry company and protected the guns of ‘Q’ Battery. The British losses amounted to 159 men while the Boers lost 13 men. De Wet also managed to capture a convoy of 116 wagons. Momentum is Lost:  Momentum is Lost At Mostertshoek near Reddersburg, (4 April 1900) he again met with success. De Wet now decided to lay siege to the British garrison at Wepener. After an unsuccessful siege of sixteen days the Boers' were forced to retire when British reinforcements arrived. The March to Pretoria:  The March to Pretoria On 3 May Roberts (including 2 DCLI) started his march to Pretoria. Near the Vet River and Sand River the Boers attempted to halt the British advance - without any success. On 12 May Roberts and his army were in Kroonstad and on 28 May he had already crossed the Vaal River. The March to Pretoria:  The March to Pretoria Although Lieutenant-General Ian Hamilton suffered heavy losses at the battle of Doornkop (29 May) the Boers could not prevent the Johannesburg and the gold mines from falling into British hands two days later. Pretoria Captured:  Pretoria Captured As the Transvaal leaders decided not to defend Pretoria, Roberts entered the capital unopposed on 5 June. 2 DCLI entered the Capital with Roberts and formed part of the massive parade that marked the occasion. The Boers Fall Back:  The Boers Fall Back At Donkerhoek (Diamond Hill) from 11-12 June 1900 and Bergendal (Dalmanutha) from 21-27 August 1900, Louis Botha failed to attain the same measure of success as in his earlier battles on the Natal front. He now fell back with the Transvaal forces eastwards along the railway line thus enabling French to occupy Middelburg on 27 July. The Boers Divided:  The Boers Divided The success of Roberts’ advance led to irresolution among the government, officers and burghers of the Transvaal. Kruger and Botha now informed their Free State counterparts that Transvaal regarded the continuation of the war as pointless. However, both Steyn and De Wet stood firm and insisted on continuing with the war. Boer Resistance Continues:  Boer Resistance Continues Roberts soon realised that although Pretoria had fallen into his hands the war was hardly at an end. There were still too many areas under Boer control and the lines of communication in the Free State were poorly guarded and vulnerable to Boer attacks. Boer Resistance Continues:  On 29 May 1900 General AJ de Villiers dealt General Sir Leslie Rundle a severe blow at Biddulphsberg near Senekal and two days later General Piet De Wet followed up the success at Lindley, where Pte C Ward KOYLI won the only Light Infantry VC of the War. Boer Resistance Continues The Final Phase of War – Guerrilla Tactics:  The Final Phase of War – Guerrilla Tactics The final phase of the war that Lord Kitchener saw as "insensate resistance" was to persist for nearly two years - from March 1900 to the end of the war. While the very mobile Boer riflemen could avoid capture and secure the necessary ammunition and basic foodstuffs - in most cases from the British army itself, they could exist indefinitely as the " gadfly of regular armies.” The Final Phase of War – Guerrilla Tactics:  The Final Phase of War – Guerrilla Tactics For the Boers in the veld it was a feat of endurance. All semblances of conventional military activity disappeared. Raids were common place and every British soldier was a potential target – no matter how far in the rear he was located. Boer Guerrilla Operations:  Boer Guerrilla Operations The Boers launched their extensive guerrilla campaign against the occupying British forces after a decisive military council meeting held at Kroonstad on 17 March 1900. Here they decided that one of their main objectives would be to try and destroy the British lines of communication. Railway depots and bridges were continually liable to destruction and assault. The Armoured Trains were a particularly prized target. Boer Guerrilla Operations:  Boer Guerrilla Operations They also regrouped their forces in small, mobile units that lived off the land. They achieved remarkable success in evading capture, seizing British supplies and disrupting railway communications. One hundred and thirty-five train-wrecking incidents were recorded between December 1900 and September 1901. Boer Attacks Continue:  Boer Attacks Continue In the eastern Transvaal a period of comparative calm followed the Battle of Bergendal. However in a night attack on 29/29 December 1900, General Ben Viljoen overwhelmed the British garrison at Helvetia. Boer Attacks Continue:  Boer Attacks Continue On 28 January 1901 Kitchener launched the first great drive. His target was the Transvaal highveld between the Delagoa Bay and Natal railway lines. Most of the commandos offered little or no resistance, since they knew they were outnumbered. Boer Attacks Continue:  Boer Attacks Continue However, they did manage to break through the British lines in smaller numbers. Behind the lines they were safe; though the destruction brought about by the advancing British, brought great shortages of food. Among those who broke through the lines was General Louis Botha, who attacked Major-General Smith Dorrien at Chrissiesmeer, on 6 February 1901, defeating the plan designed to capture him. The Final Stages:  The Final Stages The guerrilla phase not only prolonged the war a further eighteen months but escalated it until it spread across almost the whole of South Africa. During this period several incursions, led by various Boer generals, e.g. Generals CR de Wet, J C Smuts and JMB Hertzog, into the Cape Colony took place. The war was finally quelled only through the severe tactics of the new British commander in chief, Lord Kitchener. Concentration Camps:  Concentration Camps He exhausted the Boers by devastating the farms that had sustained the Boers with a so-called scorched earth policy and by placing women and children, both black and white in concentration camps. The Block Houses:  The Block Houses He also built a formidable line of blockhouses that bisected the countryside and started flushing out the guerrillas in a series of systematic drives, with success defined in a weekly “bag” of killed, wounded and captured. The Road to Peace:  The Road to Peace In March 1901, the first overtures for peace failed, mainly because the Boer leaders had refused to give up their countries` independence. In April 1902 the republican governments once again met at Klerksdorp and agreed to negotiate with Kitchener. The Vereenigning Conference:  The Vereenigning Conference The Boer leaders felt that elected representatives of the different commando's must duly make any detailed negotiations which may ultimately lead to the sacrifice of their independence. Accordingly a conference of sixty representatives was convened with British approval at Vereeniging to discuss further proposals. The Treaty of Vereeniging:  The Treaty of Vereeniging On 31 May 1902, a little before midnight, the two parties signed the peace treaty of Vereeniging at Melrose House in Pretoria. By 54 votes to six the representatives agreed to surrender their independence and to recognize the authority of Edward VII in return for: British Concessions:  British Concessions The repatriation of the prisoners of war. A general amnesty with a few exceptions. Limited protection of the Dutch language in the courts. Various economic safeguards such as the maintenance of property rights. Honouring of the republican war debt to a sum of £3 million. Generous relief for the victims of war. A promise of eventual self-government and an agreement that no decision would be taken regarding the franchise of black people until after the introduction of responsible government. “An Imperial Lesson”:  “An Imperial Lesson” Rudyard Kipling was to write, "We have had an imperial lesson." But the British Army learned from its defeats at the hands of the Boers. Reforms in tactics and administration were introduced with the result that when the British Expeditionary Force or BEF marched to war against Germany in 1914, it was the best equipped and trained army ever to leave British shores and was to play a role out of all proportion to its size in the ensuing clash of arms. THE BOER WAR AND THE BATTLE OF PAARDEBERG:  THE BOER WAR AND THE BATTLE OF PAARDEBERG 1899-1901

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