The Boer War was a conflict that lasted from 1899 to 1902 in southern Africa between Great Britain and their allies, Transvaal (South African Republic) and Orange Free State, in what is now South Africa.
Throughout the 19th century, after Great Britain conquered the Cape of Good Hope in 1814 and expanded its territory in Southern Africa, there was tension between the British settlers and the Dutch-descended population which were called Afrikaners or Boers. This resulted in the Afrikaner migration called the Great Trek, which was from 1835 to 1843, and the establishment of the Afrikaner republics. These republics were called Natal, Orange Free State, and the South African Republic. Natal became a British colony in 1843, but the Transvaal territories were granted independence from Great Britain in 1852. In 1854, Orange Free State also got their independence. In the late 1850s, the Transvaal territories formed the South African Republic.Order now
In 1884, gold was discovered in the Witwatersrand, which lured thousands of British miners and prospectors to settle in the area. The Afrikaners, who were mainly farmers, didnt like the newcomers (Uitlanders), so they taxed them and denied them voting rights. The dislike of one another grew, which lead to a revolt by the Uitlanders in Johannesburg against the Afrikaner government. This revolt was instigated by the British colonial statesman and financier Cecil Rhodes, the premier of the Cape Colony, who wanted to bring all of Southern Africa into the British Empire. In December of 1895, Leander Starr Jameson, who was a friend of Rhodes, led a group of 600 armed British men in an attempt to support the Uitlanders in the South African Republic. This was called the Jameson Raid. It resulted in Jamesons capture and imprisonment, and in Rhodess resignation. Jameson later became the premier of the Cape Colony from 1904 to 1908.
Direct negotiations to solve the South African problem were unsuccessful, and hostility between the Afrikaners and the Uitlanders continued. The president of the South African Republic, Paul Kruger, would not back down from the Uitlanders. In 1899 the British governor of Cape Colony, Alfred Milner, who strongly disliked the Afrikaners treatment of British subjects, issued orders to build up the 12,000 man British army in Southern Africa. The British army eventually grew to 500,000 men. On October 9, 1899, Kruger demanded the removal of all British troops from the Transvaal frontiers within 48 hours. Their alternative was war.
The South African Republic and the Orange Free Stated made an alliance. They then declared war on the British on October 12, 1899 because they were uncooperative with Kurgers demands. The Afrikaner forces were successful in invading Natal and Cape Colony. In December the British commander in chief Sir Redvers H. Buller sent fresh troops to relieve the British forces in three war zones. These zones were Colenso, Natal, the hills of Magersfontein on the Orange Free State and Cape Colony borders, and the mountain range of Stormberge in the Cape Colony. Within a week, which is referred to as the Black Week by the British, each of the new units had been defeated by Afrikaner forces.
On January 10, 1900, the British general Frederick S. Roberts was sent to replace Buller as commander in chief. However, Buller remained to fight throughout the war. Early in February, Roberts ordered the British commander John D. P. French north to relieve the city of Kimberley. Roberts marched northeastward from Cape Colony into the Orange Free State. Attacked by the Afrikaner general Piet Cronje on February 27, Roberts fought back successfully and forced the surrender of Cronje and his troops. On March 13, Roberts entered Bloemfontein, which was the capital of the Orange Free State. Roberts captured Johannesburg on May 31 and Pretoria on June 5. After they won, President Kruger went to Europe and Roberts returned to England in January 1901 because he thought the war was over.
British satisfaction was short lived. Boer leaders attacked the British troops using guerrilla warfare. The fighting continued for the next year and was finally ended through the severe tactics of the new British commander in chief, Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener. He stopped the enemy by destroying the Afrikaner farms that sheltered the guerrillas. They placed black African