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Introduction to the War


Republican Strategy

Commandant-General Piet Joubert of the Transvaal (Philip Terblanche) - War Museum of the Boer Republics

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 before the arrival of British reinforcements.

In the first battle in Natal, Talana or Dundee, General Lucas Meyer failed in his objective namely to crush the British garrison. He also allowed the British to escape to Ladysmith. On 21 October, the British repulsed the Boer offensive against Lieutenant-General Sir George White's garrison at Elandslaagte. Boer losses, mainly among the Dutch Volunteer Corps, amounted to 46 dead. On Mournful Monday (30 October 1899) White failed to scatter the Transvaal and Free State forces at Modderspruit and Nicholson's Nek. With White's force isolated at Ladysmith Joubert undertook a reconnaissance as far as Estcourt in Natal. Their objective was to find defensive positions to block the march of British reinforcements. At the end of November, Joubert's expedition fell back on Colenso, taking up position on the northern bank of the Tugela (Thukela) River. Here Joubert prepared to resist the large British force marching from southern Natal. Several battalions had already arrived from overseas and were concentrated around Estcourt and Mooi River.

On the western front the Boers under General Koos de la Rey captured an armoured train at Kraaipan on 12 October during the very first battle of the war. A British force of some 1000 whites and 300 armed blacks acting as herdsmen, were stationed at Mafeking (Mafekeng) under Col RSS Baden-Powell. On 13 October 1899 Mafeking was completely encircled by Boer Forces. By 3 November some 4 800 Free State Burghers under Chief Commandant CJ Wessels and 2 200 Transvalers had also besieged Colonel Kekewich and his force of 2 600 men at Kimberley.


Burghers on commando

In the Northern Cape a Boer Force under Chief Commandant ER Grobler (OFS) and General HJ Schoeman occupied Colesberg while Commandant FJ du Plooy entered Burghersdorp on 15 November 1899. The Boers however failed to occupy the important railway junctions at De Aar and Naauwpoort leaving the railways in British hands.

Topics

Introduction to the War
Role Players and Figures
Concentration Camps
Prisoners of War
Chronology of the War


Introduction to the War
Republican Strategy
First British Offensive
Black Week of the British Army
Second British Offensive
The Mobile War Begins
The Guerrilla War
Concentration Camp System
Peace Treaty of Vereeniging


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