Re-engaging 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:
Re-engaging the Boers

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This chapter emphasizes on an unprecedented challenge posed by the South African War on the Victorian army. The war eventually involved the services of 448,435 British and colonial troops in a series of major battlefield engagements, sieges, relief operations and protracted counter-guerrilla campaigns. Soldiers were chosen from the different parts of the United Kingdom as they served in distinguished local regiments and other arms, and came from localities with strong military connections, ensuring coverage of their exploits in the provincial press. The Boers launched their invasions of Natal and Cape Colony and began the investment of the strategic border towns of Mafeking and Kimberley when the war began on 11 October 1899. The 2/Gordons, 1/Gloucesters and 1/Devonshires were among the reinforcements sent from India and already deployed in Natal. The Scots and west country units would serve in the 47,000-man army corps sent from Britain under the command of Sir Redvers Buller. British soldiers had to adapt to the rigors of campaigning in South African conditions even before they faced the new realities of warfare.

Keywords: South African War; Victorian army; counter-guerrilla campaigns; Natal and Cape Colony; colonial troops; British soldiers; Boers

Chapter.  10651 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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