The discovery of massive Gold reefs in South Africa’s Transvaal Region in the period 1884-1886 would lead to the Second Anglo Boer War as Britain sought to gain control of the Transvaal Boer Republic in order to control the Mining of Gold in the Region in the same manner it controlled the Diamond Mining in Kimberley through Cecil John Rhodes’ British South Africa Company.
Outbreak Of The Second Anglo Boer War
The series of events that would lead to the outbreak of the Second Anglo Boer War began on 11 October 1899 when Britain refused the ultimatum to settle all disputes with South Africa’s Transvaal Boer Republic by Arbitration.
By this stage, the British already had Troops stationed around the Borders of the Transvaal and a ship carrying Troops to South Africa had left Great Britain.
Following the earlier failure of the Jameson Raid in 1895 in which Cecil John Rhodes had attempted to sieze control of the Transvaal Gold Fields by force, the allied Governments of the Boer Republics of the Transvaal and the Free State had begun a process of massive rearmament utilising the profits from the Gold Trade.
The Boer sieges of the British towns of Ladysmith, Kimberley and Mafeking in 1899 are widely considered as marking the significant escalation of the Second Anglo-Boer War.
Whilst the Boer Republics initially scored impressive victories over the British as the British struggled to relieve the besieged towns, by February 1900 the tide had turned fimly in favour of the British.
In March and June 1900, the British took control of Bloemfontein and Pretoria, the Capital Cities of both Boer Republics which were renamed as the Orange River Colony the Transvaal respectively.
The siege of Mafikeng was the most difficult for the British to lift and their success in May 1900 caused widespread celebration in Great Britain and a virtual collapse of Boer resistance.
Some Boers surrendered, whilst others joined the British Army.
Nevertheless, a resurgence in Boer resistance would see about 20, 000 Boers engaged in a bitter guerilla conflict against the British for a period of two years.
The Guerilla Phase Of The Second Anglo Boer War
The British response to the Boer Guerilla war was to adopt a ‘scorched earth’ policy, which saw the Boer Republics decimated in order to limit the Boer guerrillas’ access to shelter and food.
This led to the destruction of entire farms and in some cases towns as livestock and food supplies were burnt.
In addition, a ‘concentration camp’ system was introduced in which Boer Women and Children and their Black Servants were confined in Camps so the Rebel Boer Commandos in the field would not be able to get food from their families on the Farms.
Catastrophic conditions in the Camps caused by bad hygiene and medical facilities as well as unsanitary water supplies led to massive numbers deaths from disease and starvation in the notorious Concentration Camps.
By 1902 any meaningful Boer Resistance had been crushed, and British control over the Transvaal and Orange Free State Provinces was firmly established and stregthened in 1910 when the Union Of South Africa was formally proclaimed in which the two formerly Boer Republics were integrated with the other British Colonies to form the modern Unitary State recognised as the Republic of South Africa today.
Legacy Of The Second Anglo Boer War
In the final analysis, the legacy of the Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa was the rise of Afrikaner Nationalism and the creation of South Africa’s Apartheid State as a response by the Afrikaner descendants of the Boers to the Trauma they endured at the hands of the British in the Concentration Camps.
As a result, the Second Anglo Boer War also led to the further dispossession of the Black Native inhabitants of South Africa who suffered both during and after the War with the creation of the Apartheid State which was eventually overthrown in 1994 when an independent democratic South Africa led by Nelson Mandela was established.