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The death toll from a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia hits on this day in By the time it ended, 5, people were dead. Yellow fever, or American plague as it was known at the time, is a viral disease that begins with fever and muscle pain. Three men blow up the mail car of a Southern Pacific train carrying passengers through southern Oregon in a botched robbery attempt. Just as the train entered a tunnel, two armed men jumped the engineer. A third man appeared with a bomb that the thieves intended to use to open Following up on their successful November summit meeting in Geneva, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Reykjavik, Iceland, to continue discussions about curbing their intermediate missile arsenals in Europe.

Just when it appeared that Confederate cavalry leader General J. Stuart loots Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on a daring raid in the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Antietam in Maryland. Stuart left Virginia on October 9 with 1, cavalrymen. At the time, the Union Army of the Potomac was still camped On this day in , a man from Belgium named Luc Costermans sets a new world speed record for blind drivers: Costermans set the record in a borrowed Lamborghini Gallardo on a long, straight stretch of airstrip near Marseilles, France.

This was the end of the war in the Western Transvaal and also the last major battle of the war. Two Boer forces fought in this area, one under Botha in the south east and a second under Ben Viljoen in the north east around Lydenburg. Botha's forces were particularly active, raiding railways and British supply convoys, and even mounting a renewed invasion of Natal in September After defeating British mounted infantry in the Battle of Blood River Poort near Dundee , Botha was forced to withdraw by heavy rains that made movement difficult and crippled his horses.

Back on the Transvaal territory around his home district of Vryheid, Botha attacked a British raiding column at Bakenlaagte , using an effective mounted charge. One of the most active British units was effectively destroyed in this engagement. This made Botha's forces the target of increasingly large and ruthless drives by British forces, in which the British made particular use of native scouts and informers.

Eventually, Botha had to abandon the high veld and retreat to a narrow enclave bordering Swaziland. To the north, Ben Viljoen grew steadily less active.

Boer War begins in South Africa

His forces mounted comparatively few attacks and as a result, the Boer enclave around Lydenburg was largely unmolested. Viljoen was eventually captured. In parts of Cape Colony, particularly the Cape Midlands district where Boers formed a majority of the white inhabitants, the British had always feared a general uprising against them. In fact, no such uprising took place, even in the early days of the war when Boer armies had advanced across the Orange. The cautious conduct of some of the elderly Orange Free State generals had been one factor that discouraged the Cape Boers from siding with the Boer republics.

Nevertheless, there was widespread pro-Boer sympathy.

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Some of the Cape Dutch volunteered to help the British, but a much larger number volunteered to help the other side. The political factor was more important than the military: Milner said 90 percent favoured the rebels. After he escaped across the Orange in March , De Wet had left forces under Cape rebels Kritzinger and Scheepers to maintain a guerrilla campaign in the Cape Midlands.

The campaign here was one of the least chivalrous of the war, with intimidation by both sides of each other's civilian sympathizers. In one of many skirmishes, Commandant Lotter's small commando was tracked down by a much-superior British column and wiped out at Groenkloof. Several captured rebels, including Lotter and Scheepers, who was captured when he fell ill with appendicitis, were executed by the British for treason or for capital crimes such as the murder of prisoners or of unarmed civilians. Some of the executions took place in public, to deter further disaffection.

Since the Cape Colony was Imperial territory, its authorities forbade the British Army to burn farms or to force Boers into concentration camps. Fresh Boer forces under Jan Christiaan Smuts , joined by the surviving rebels under Kritzinger, made another attack on the Cape in September They suffered severe hardships and were hard pressed by British columns, but eventually rescued themselves by routing some of their pursuers at the Battle of Elands River and capturing their equipment. From then until the end of the war, Smuts increased his forces from among Cape rebels until they numbered 3, However, no general uprising took place, and the situation in the Cape remained stalemated.

While no other government actively supported the Boer cause, individuals from several countries volunteered and formed Foreign Volunteer Units. Other countries such as France, Italy, Ireland then wholly part of the United Kingdom , and restive areas of the Russian Empire, including Poland and Georgia, also formed smaller volunteer corps. Finns fought in the Scandinavian Corps. The policy on both sides was to minimise the role of nonwhites but the need for manpower continuously stretched those resolves.

As the war raged across African farms and their homes were destroyed, many became refugees and they, like the Boers, moved to the towns where the British hastily created internment camps. Subsequently, the "Scorched Earth" policy was ruthlessly applied to both Boers and Africans. Although most black Africans were not considered by the British to be hostile, many tens of thousands were also forcibly removed from Boer areas and also placed in concentration camps. Africans were held separately from Boer internees.

Eventually there were a total of 64 tented camps for Africans. Conditions were as bad as in the camps for the Boers, but even though, after the Fawcett Commission report, conditions improved in the Boer camps, "improvements were much slower in coming to the black camps. About 10, black men were attached to Boer units where they performed camp duties; a handful unofficially fought in combat. The British Army employed over 14, Africans as wagon drivers.

Even more had combatant roles as spies, guides, and eventually as soldiers. By there were about 30, armed Africans in the British Army. The term " concentration camp " was used to describe camps operated by the British in South Africa during this conflict in the years —, and the term grew in prominence during this period. The camps had originally been set up by the British Army as " refugee camps " to provide refuge for civilian families who had been forced to abandon their homes for whatever reason related to the war.

However, when Kitchener took over in late , he introduced new tactics in an attempt to break the guerrilla campaign and the influx of civilians grew dramatically as a result. Disease and starvation killed thousands. It was the clearance of civilians—uprooting a whole nation—that would come to dominate the last phase of the war.

As Boer farms were destroyed by the British under their " Scorched Earth " policy—including the systematic destruction of crops and slaughtering of livestock, the burning down of homesteads and farms, and the poisoning of wells and salting of fields—to prevent the Boers from resupplying from a home base many tens of thousands of women and children were forcibly moved into the concentration camps. This was not the first appearance of internment camps, as the Spanish had used internment in Cuba in the Ten Years' War , but the Boer War concentration camp system was the first time that a whole nation had been systematically targeted, and the first in which some whole regions had been depopulated.

Eventually, there were a total of 45 tented camps built for Boer internees and 64 for black Africans. Of the 28, Boer men captured as prisoners of war , 25, were sent overseas. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children. Over 26, women and children were to perish in these concentration camps. The camps were poorly administered from the outset and became increasingly overcrowded when Kitchener's troops implemented the internment strategy on a vast scale.

Conditions were terrible for the health of the internees, mainly due to neglect, poor hygiene and bad sanitation. The supply of all items was unreliable, partly because of the constant disruption of communication lines by the Boers. The food rations were meager and there was a two-tier allocation policy, whereby families of men who were still fighting were routinely given smaller rations than others [73] The inadequate shelter, poor diet, bad hygiene and overcrowding led to malnutrition and endemic contagious diseases such as measles , typhoid and dysentery to which the children were particularly vulnerable.

Towards the end of the war, British tactics of containment, denial, and harassment began to yield results against the guerrillas. The sourcing and co-ordination of intelligence became increasingly efficient with regular reporting from observers in the blockhouses , from units patrolling the fences and conducting "sweeper" operations, and from native Africans in rural areas who increasingly supplied intelligence, as the Scorched Earth policy took effect and they found themselves competing with the Boers for food supplies.


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Kitchener's forces at last began to seriously affect the Boers' fighting strength and freedom of manoeuvre, and made it harder for the Boers and their families to survive. Despite this success, almost half the Boer fighting strength, 15, men were still in the field fighting.

Kitchener's tactics were very costly: Britain was running out of time and money and needed to change tack. The Boers and the British both feared the consequences of arming Africans. The memories of the Zulu and other tribal conflicts were still fresh, and they recognised that whoever won would have to deal with the consequences of a mass militarisation of the tribes. There was therefore an unwritten agreement that this war would be a "white man's war.

However, in some cases there were old scores to be settled, and some Africans, such as the Swazis , were eager to enter the war with the specific aim of reclaiming land confiscated by the Boers. As the war went on there was greater involvement of Africans, and in particular large numbers became embroiled in the conflict on the British side, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

By the end of the war, many blacks had been armed and had shown conspicuous gallantry in roles such as scouts, messengers, watchmen in blockhouses, and auxiliaries. And there were more flash-points outside of the war. On 6 May at Holkrantz in the southeastern Transvaal, a Zulu faction had their cattle stolen and their people mistreated by the Boers as a punishment for helping the British. The local Boer officer then sent an insulting message to the tribe, challenging them to take back their cattle. The Zulus attacked at night, and in a mutual bloodbath, the Boers lost 56 killed and 3 wounded, while the Africans suffered 52 killed and 48 wounded.

The British offered terms of peace on various occasions, notably in March , but were rejected by Botha and the "Bitter-enders" among the commandos. They pledged to fight until the bitter end and rejected the demand for compromise made by the "Hands-uppers. On the other hand, their women and children were dying every day and independence seemed impossible. The British had won and offered generous terms to regain the support of the Boers.

The predominantly agrarian society of the former Boer republics was profoundly and fundamentally affected by the scorched earth policy of Roberts and Kitchener. The devastation of both Boer and black African populations in the concentration camps and through war and exile were to have a lasting effect on the demography and quality of life in the region. Many exiles and prisoners were unable to return to their farms at all; others attempted to do so but were forced to abandon the farms as unworkable given the damage caused by farm burning and salting of the fields in the course of the scorched earth policy.

Destitute Boers and black Africans swelled the ranks of the unskilled urban poor competing with the "uitlanders" in the mines. The postwar reconstruction administration was presided over by Lord Milner and his largely Oxford trained Milner's Kindergarten.

This small group of civil servants had a profound effect on the region, eventually leading to the Union of South Africa. In the aftermath of the war, an imperial administration freed from accountability to a domestic electorate set about reconstructing an economy that was by then predicated unambiguously on gold. At the same time, British civil servants, municipal officials, and their cultural adjuncts were hard at work in the heartland of the former Boer Republics helping to forge new identities — first as 'British South Africans' and then, later still, as 'white South Africans'.

Some scholars, for good reasons, identify these new identities as partly underpinning the act of union that followed in Although challenged by a Boer rebellion only four years later, they did much to shape South African politics between the two world wars and right up to the present day". The counterinsurgency techniques and lessons the restriction of movement, the containment of space, the ruthless targeting of anything, everything and anyone that could give sustenance to guerrillas, the relentless harassment through sweeper groups coupled with rapid reaction forces, the sourcing and co-ordination of intelligence, and the nurturing of native allies learned during the Boer War were used by the British and other forces in future guerrilla campaigns including to counter Malayan communist rebels during the Malayan Emergency.

In World War II the British also adopted some of the concepts of raiding from the Boer commandos when, after the fall of France , they set up their special raiding forces, and in acknowledgement of their erstwhile enemies, chose the name British Commandos. Many of the Boers referred to the war as the second of the Freedom Wars. The most resistant of Boers wanted to continue the fight and were known as " Bittereinders " or irreconcilables and at the end of the war a number of Boer fighters such as Deneys Reitz chose exile rather than sign an oath, such as the following, to pledge allegiance to Britain: Over the following decade, many returned to South Africa and never signed the pledge.

Some, like Reitz, eventually reconciled themselves to the new status quo , but others could not. One of the most important events in the decade after the end of the war was the creation of the Union of South Africa later the Republic of South Africa. Many Boers were opposed to fighting for Britain, especially against Germany, which had been sympathetic to their struggle.

A number of bittereinders and their allies took part in a revolt known as the Maritz Rebellion. This was quickly suppressed and in , the leading Boer rebels in the Maritz Rebellion got off lightly especially compared with the fate of leading Irish rebels of the Easter Rising , with terms of imprisonment of six and seven years and heavy fines. Two years later, they were released from prison, as Louis Botha recognised the value of reconciliation. Thereafter the bittereinders concentrated on political organisation within the constitutional system and built up what later became the National Party , which took power in and dominated the politics of South Africa from the late s until the early s, under the apartheid system.

Many Irish nationalists sympathised with the Boers, viewing them to be a people oppressed by British imperialism , much like themselves. Irish miners already in the Transvaal at the start of the war formed the nucleus of two Irish commandos. In addition, small groups of Irish volunteers went to South Africa to fight with the Boers — this despite the fact that there were many Irish troops fighting in the British army, including the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

The war also highlighted the dangers of Britain's policy of non-alignment and deepened her isolation. The UK general election , also known as the " Khaki election ", was called by the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury , on the back of recent British victories. There was much enthusiasm for the war at this point, resulting in a victory for the Conservative government. However public support quickly waned as it became apparent that the war would not be easy and it dragged on, partially contributing to the Conservatives' spectacular defeat in There was public outrage at the use of scorched earth tactics — the forced clearance of women and children, the destruction of the countryside, burning of Boer homesteads and poisoning of wells, for example — and the conditions in the concentration camps.

It also became apparent that there were serious problems with public health in Britain: This came at a time of increasing concern for the state of the poor in Britain. Having taken the country into a prolonged war, the Conservative government was rejected by the electorate at the first general election after the war was over. Balfour, succeeding his uncle Lord Salisbury in immediately after the war, took over a Conservative party that had won two successive landslide majorities but led it to a landslide defeat in The number of horses killed in the war was at the time unprecedented in modern warfare.

For example, in the Relief of Kimberley , French's cavalry rode horses to their deaths in a single day. The wastage was particularly heavy among British forces for several reasons: Horses were slaughtered for their meat when needed. During the Siege of Kimberley and Siege of Ladysmith , horses were consumed as food once the regular sources of meat were depleted. The Horse Memorial in Port Elizabeth is a tribute to the , horses that died during the conflict. The vast majority of troops fighting for the British army came from Great Britain.

Yet a significant number came from other parts of the British Empire. These countries had their own internal disputes over whether they should remain tied to London, or have full independence, which carried over into the debate around the sending of forces to assist the war. Though not fully independent on foreign affairs, these countries did have local say over how much support to provide, and the manner it was provided. Canada provided the largest number of troops followed by Australia.

There were also many volunteers from the Empire who were not selected for the official contingents from their countries and travelled privately to South Africa to form private units, such as the Canadian Scouts and Doyle's Australian Scouts. There were also some European volunteer units from British India and British Ceylon , though the British Government refused offers of non-white troops from the Empire. Some Cape Coloureds also volunteered early in the war, but later some of them were effectively conscripted and kept in segregated units.

As a community, they received comparatively little reward for their services. In many ways, the war set the pattern for the Empire's later involvement in the two World Wars. Specially raised units, consisting mainly of volunteers, were dispatched overseas to serve with forces from elsewhere in the British Empire. The United States stayed neutral in the conflict, but some American citizens were eager to participate.

Early in the war Lord Roberts cabled the American Frederick Russell Burnham , a veteran of both Matabele wars but at that very moment prospecting in the Klondike , to serve on his personal staff as Chief of Scouts. Burnham went on to receive the highest awards of any American who served in the war, but American mercenaries participated on both sides. From to the six separate self-governing colonies in Australia sent their own contingents to serve in the Boer War. That much of the population of the colonies had originated from Great Britain explains a desire to support Britain during the conflict appealing to many.

After the colonies formed the Commonwealth of Australia in , the new Government of Australia sent "Commonwealth" contingents to the war. A few Australians fought on the Boer side. The Australian climate and geography were far closer to that of South Africa than most other parts of the empire, so Australians adapted quickly to the environment, with troops serving mostly among the army's "mounted rifles.

Perhaps five hundred Australian irregulars were killed. In total 20, or more Australians served and about 1, were killed. A total of died from disease, were killed in action or died from wounds sustained in battle. A further 43 men were reported missing. When the war began some Australians, like some Britons, opposed it. As the war dragged on some Australians became disenchanted, in part because of the sufferings of Boer civilians reported in the press. In an interesting twist for Australians , when the British missed capturing President Paul Kruger, as he escaped Pretoria during its fall in June , a Melbourne Punch , 21 June , cartoon depicted how the War could be won, using the Kelly Gang.

The convictions and executions of two Australian lieutenants, Harry Harbord Morant , colloquially known as 'The Breaker' for his skill with horses, and Peter Handcock in , and the imprisonment of a third, George Witton , had little impact on the Australian public at the time despite later legend.


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  4. The controversial court-martial saw the three convicted of executing Boer prisoners under their authority. After the war, though, Australians joined an empire-wide campaign that saw Witton released from jail. Much later, some Australians came to see the execution of Morant and Handcock as instances of wrongfully executed Australians, as illustrated in the Australian film Breaker Morant. Over 7, Canadian soldiers and support personnel were involved in the second Boer war from October to May On the other hand, many Francophone citizens felt threatened by the continuation of British Imperialism to their national sovereignty.

    In the end, in order to appease the citizens who wanted war and avoid angering those who didn't, Laurier sent 1, volunteers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William Otter to aid the confederation in its war to 'liberate' the peoples of the Boer controlled states in South Africa.

    The volunteers were provided to the British with the stipulation that the British pay costs of the battalion after it arrived in South Africa. The supporters of the war claimed that it "pitted British Freedom, justice and civilization against Boer backwardness". Commonwealth involvement in the Boer War can be summarised into three parts.

    The first part October — December was characterised by questionable decisions and blunders from the Commonwealth leadership which affected its soldiers greatly. The soldiers of the Commonwealth were shocked at the number of Afrikaner soldiers who were willing to oppose the British. The Afrikaner troops were very willing to fight for their country, and were armed with modern weaponry and were highly mobile soldiers. The end of the First part was the period in mid-December which is referred to as the "Black Week".

    During the week of 10—17 December , the British suffered three major defeats at the hands of the Boers at the battlefields of Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso. Afterwards, the British called upon more volunteers to take part in the war from the Commonwealth. The second part of the war February—April was the opposite of the first. After the British reorganised and reinforced under new leadership, they began to experience success against the Boer soldiers.

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    Commonwealth soldiers resorted to using blockhouses, farm burning and concentration camps to 'persuade' the resisting Boers into submission. The final phase of the war was the guerrilla phase where many Boer soldiers turned to Guerrilla tactics such as raiding infrastructure or communications lines. Many Canadian soldiers did not actually see combat after getting shipped over to South Africa as many arrived around the time of the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging on 31 May Since the Boers were mounting a heavy resistance to the advancing mounted units, the Commonwealth infantry units were tasked with holding the Boer units while the mounted units found another route across the river with less resistance.

    The Canadians suffered very minimal casualties and achieved their objective after the Boer soldiers retreated from their positions. On 28 September , Prime Minister Richard Seddon asked Parliament to approve the offer to the imperial government of a contingent of mounted rifles, thus becoming the first British Colony to send troops to the Boer War.

    The British position in the dispute with the Transvaal was "moderate and righteous," he maintained. He stressed the "crimson tie" of Empire that bound New Zealand to the mother-country and the importance of a strong British Empire for the colony's security. By the time peace was concluded two and a half years later, 10 contingents of volunteers, totalling nearly 6, men from New Zealand, with 8, horses had fought in the conflict, along with doctors, nurses, veterinary surgeons and a small number of school teachers.

    Bradford at Jasfontein Farm on 18 December During the war, the British army also included substantial contingents from South Africa itself. There were large communities of English-speaking immigrants and settlers in Natal and Cape Colony especially around Cape Town and Grahamstown , which formed volunteer units that took the field, or local "town guards. Another large source of volunteers was the uitlander community, many of whom hastily left Johannesburg in the days immediately preceding the war. Later during the war, Lord Kitchener attempted to form a Boer Police Force, as part of his efforts to pacify the occupied areas and effect a reconciliation with the Boer community.

    The members of this force were despised as traitors by the Boers still in the field. Those Boers who attempted to remain neutral after giving their parole to British forces were derided as "hensoppers" hands-uppers and were often coerced into giving support to the Boer guerrillas. This was one of the reasons for the British ruthlessly scouring the countryside of people, livestock and anything else the Boer commandos might find useful.

    Like the Canadian and particularly the Australian and New Zealand contingents, many of the volunteer units formed by South Africans were " light horse " or mounted infantry , well suited to the countryside and manner of warfare.

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    Some regular British officers scorned their comparative lack of formal discipline, but the light horse units were hardier and more suited to the demands of campaigning than the overloaded British cavalry, who were still obsessed with the charge by lance or sabre. Borden for a photograph of his son, Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier praised his services, tributes arrived from across Canada, and in his home town Canning, Nova Scotia , there is a monument by Hamilton MacCarthy erected to his memory.

    Sam Hughes — Senior Militia officer and later a Federally elected cabinet minister. As a very patriotic individual, Hughes became involved in the Boer war as a member of Brigadier-General Herbert Settle's expedition after Hughes unsuccessfully tried to raise his own brigade of soldiers. When he arrived back in Canada, Hughes became very active politically, and he would eventually start his political career with the Conservatives.

    When he became a member of parliament , Hughes would be in the position to become the Canadian Minister of Defence and Militia in , just prior the outbreak of World War I.

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    This was a position that Hughes would be dismissed from in , due once again to his impatience, among other reasons. After completing several major campaigns, McCrae's artillery unit was sent home to Canada in with what would be referred to today as an 'honourable discharge'. McCrae ended up becoming a special professor in the University of Vermont for pathology and he would later serve in World War I as a Medical officer until his death from pneumonia while on active duty in Harry "Breaker" Morant — Australian poet who participated in the summary execution of several Boer prisoners and the killing of a German missionary who had been a witness to the shootings.

    Morant was court-martialed and executed for murder. At the age of twenty-six, [] he was captured and held prisoner in a camp in Pretoria from which he escaped and rejoined the British army. The white settlers in Zoutpansberg had a long reputation of lawlessness, often being called typical "Back-veldt Boers". As a district in the Republic, they had the largest native population in the South African Republic. Located in an area of Bechuanaland, west of the Transvaal, the State of Goshen existed as an independent nation for a short period: Verenigde Staten van Stellaland from — States were also established by other population groups, most notably the Griqua , a subgroup of South Africa's heterogeneous and multiracial Coloured people.

    Most notable among these were Griqualand West and Griqualand East. However, later developments, including the discovery of diamonds and gold in these states, led to the Second Boer War. In this war, the Transvaal and Orange Free State were defeated and annexed by the overwhelmingly larger British forces, ceasing to exist on 31 May , with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging. The Boer Republics were predominately Calvinist Protestant due to their Dutch heritage, and this played a significant role in their culture.

    The ZAR national constitution did not provide separation between church and state [3] , disallowing the franchise citizenship to anyone not a member of the Dutch Reformed Church.

    In , these clauses were altered in the constitution to allow for the Volksraad to approve other Dutch Calvinist churches that separated from the Dutch Reformed Church in the wake of a number of splits. FN further states that the land was legally bought and paid for on 25 July as an ethnic group and not as individual landowners and was only in custodianship of the pre government as they were regarded as descendents of the ethnic group.

    There was therefore no legal right to hand this land over to a "foreign" government in April and away from the original ethnic group. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. History of South Africa. The Handbook of World Englishes. Archived February 10, , at the Wayback Machine. A Century of Injustice. Retrieved 16 June Archived from the original on 16 June Political history of South Africa.