Chapter

Battling the Boers

Edward M. Spiers

in The Victorian Soldier in Africa

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780719061219
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700556 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719061219.003.0004
Battling the Boers

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Sir Garnet Wolseley utilized his powers as both high commissioner in southeastern Africa and governor of Natal and the Transvaal to attack Chelmsford as GOC, South Africa. He sought to impose a settlement upon both Zululand and the neighboring Transvaal. He resolved that Zululand should be ruled by thirteen minor chiefs. He then moved into the Transvaal to restore British prestige by overthrowing Sekhukhune, whom the Boers had failed to defeat in 1876. He assembled a formidable composite force, comprising the 2/21st and the 94th with two companies of the 80th, four guns, and a party of Royal Engineers with explosives to attack Sekhukhune. The sappers were ‘employed from dawn till dark’, cutting pathways, preparing drifts for ox-driven wagons, and organizing the construction of forts. The British forces in the Transvaal were reduced when Wolseley departed, and were cut again under Sir George Pomeroy Colley, Asante veteran, who replaced Wolseley, until he had only 1,800 men, with no cavalry and only four guns. The soldiers were also widely dispersed in six isolated posts.

Keywords: Royal Engineers; ox-driven wagons; siege warfare; British soldiers; Sir Garnet Wolseley; Sekhukhune

Chapter.  8779 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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