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Warfare in Independent Africa by William Reno | | Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
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Khaki was finally adopted in as service wear overseas, so the British soldier of the second Boer War was clad in khaki. Upon the outbreak of the first Boer War, the Boer commandos — as had been their custom in the wars against the black communities — lay siege to the British garrisons in the towns of Potchefstroom, Pretoria, Rustenburg, Standerton and Marabastad near Pietersburg, in an attempt to starve them into submission. The British were driven back with heavy losses. During the night of 26 February, Colley occupied Majuba Hill, which towered over the countryside on the Transvaal border, with men.
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These comprised two companies each of the 92nd Highlanders and 58th Regiment, and the Naval Brigade. The Boers stormed Majuba Hill, using dead ground to reach the top, and achieved a brilliant victory. Instead, early on 27 February, the Boers stormed the mountain using dead ground to reach the top, and achieved a brilliant victory. Seven officers and 50 men were taken prisoner.
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Colley was among the dead. The Boers lost one man killed and six wounded, one mortally. The Pretoria Convention of 3 August did not reinstate fully the independence of the Transvaal, but kept the state under British suzerainty.
This vague concept meant that Britain retained supervisory control of the foreign affairs of the Transvaal and of its internal legislation with regard to the black societies. However, the London Convention of 27 February conferred full internal independence on the Transvaal. The discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in made the Transvaal, until then a struggling Boer republic, potentially a political and economic threat to British supremacy in South Africa at a time when Britain was engaged in the scramble for African colonies with France and Germany.
The British believed that the Transvaal was pressing for a united South Africa under the Afrikaaners. When the scheme of Cecil Rhodes, Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, to overthrow the Transvaal government of President Kruger by means of the so-called Jameson Raid, failed in , Afrikaner nationalism again, like in , flared up all over South Africa. The Orange Free State concluded an alliance with the Transvaal.
Although Kruger was only interested in preserving the independence of the Transvaal, the British colonial secretary, Sir Joseph Chamberlain, and the British high commissioner in South Africa, Sir Alfred Milner, believed that the Transvaal was pressing for a united South Africa under the Afrikaaners. Milner, a self-acknowledged race patriot, resolved that if the Transvaal would not reform, war would be the only way to eliminate a Boer oligarchy threatening British supremacy and to facilitate the development of the gold mining industry.
In order to become involved in the domestic issues of the Transvaal, he agitated that the foreign mineworkers Uitlanders should get the vote. In the diplomatic tussle that followed, Kruger refused to budge, despite a meeting with Milner in Bloemfontein in May - June A complete political deadlock was reached.
The ultimatum had demanded that all disputes between the two states be settled by arbitration; that British troops on the borders be withdrawn; and that troops bound for South Africa by ship should not disembark. The Orange Free State joined the Transvaal in accordance with the alliance of Alarmed by the Jameson Raid, the governments of the Transvaal and the Free State started arming themselves.
Warfare in Independent Africa: New Approaches to African History
Alarmed by the Jameson Raid, the governments of the Transvaal and the Free State had started arming themselves. The burghers consequently went into the second Boer War with the British-made single shot. It compared favourably with the bolt-action. They had a greater magazine capacity than the Mauser — ten rounds — but had to be loaded one round at a time, while the Mauser could be loaded quickly from clips.
From their camouflaged positions, the Boers scored impressive victories at Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso in mid-December called 'Black Week' in Britain , and Spioenkop in January The relief of Mafeking caused tumultuous joy in Britain, making Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, commander of the garrison, an instant hero.
But by late February there was a definite change in their fortunes. All Boer fronts collapsed. The next six months was a period of great confusion for the Boers. Everywhere they were compelled to retreat. The relief of Mafeking on 17 May caused tumultuous joy in Britain, making the commander of the relieved garrison, Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, an instant hero throughout the British empire. Lured by British promises of peace and protection, many burghers surrendered. They were called hendsoppers having 'hands-upped' by the men remaining in the field.
By the end of the war they totalled 20, men — a third of the original Boer numbers. In the last six months of the war, 5, of them joined the British Army as collaborators 'joiners' , with General Piet de Wet becoming one of the leaders of the Orange River Colony Volunteers. Meanwhile, there was a revival in the Boer military effort.
In this way the resistance of about 20, Boer bitter-enders was to continue for almost two more years, in what is known as the guerrilla phase of the war. Lord Herbert Kitchener, who succeeded Roberts in November , adopted a three-fold strategy to end the war. Some towns and thousands of farmsteads were burnt or ravaged.
Warfare in Independent Africa
This onslaught on Boer survival was backed up by the destruction of food supplies. Herds of livestock were wiped out and crops were burnt. The bad administration of the camps led to poor quality of food, unhygienic conditions and inadequate medical arrangements.
Civilians suffered terribly. Black people, too, were gathered in concentration camps, partly to deprive the commandos of yet another means of getting to food producers, and to obtain black labour for the gold mines that had been re-opened by mid The British were not the first in the modern age to use the concentration camp system. Moreover, it should be emphasized that expansion policies and practices, while far from haphazard, were rarely the result of long-range and integrated planning. The drive for expansion was persistent, as were the pressures to get the greatest advantage possible out of the resulting opportunities.
But the expansions arose in the midst of intense rivalry among major powers that were concerned with the distribution of power on the continent of Europe itself as well as with ownership of overseas territories. Thus, the issues of national power, national wealth, and military strength shifted more and more to the world stage as commerce and territorial acquisitions spread over larger segments of the globe. In fact, colonies were themselves often levers of military power—sources of military supplies and of military manpower and bases for navies and merchant marines.
Stages of history rarely, if ever, come in neat packages: the roots of new historical periods begin to form in earlier eras, while many aspects of an older phase linger on and help shape the new. Nonetheless, there was a convergence of developments in the early s, which, despite many qualifications, delineates a new stage in European expansionism and especially in that of the most successful empire builder, Great Britain. As a result of the Treaty of Paris, France lost nearly all of its colonial empire, while Britain became, except for Spain , the largest colonial power in the world.