Boer War 1899 - 1902

Information on the Boer War for the sources paper (Edexcel)

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Attitudes of the British public and politicians to the British Empire in
general and South Africa in particular
The war followed the rejection by the British government of a Boer
ultimatum. The Boers had demanded withdrawal of British troops from
their borders. Two small states: Orange Free State & Transvaal Republic:
declared war on the world's mightiest imperial power: Britain.
Britain ruled a 5th of humanity and largely controlled the Earth's oceans
with her vast fleet. London was the financial capital of the world.
Britannia really did rule the waves.
In one sense: foolish of the Boers.
First Boer War: with the Zulu threat removed, Boers: demanded their
independence back. A new liberal government: reluctant to resist such
demands and conceded.
Paul Kruger: leader of the Boer militants.
Tension arose: discovery of gold deposits. Transvaal produced 27% of
the worlds gold and millions of mainly British capital had been invested.
Causing two problem:
o There were many foreigners which caused unrest
o These `foreigners':'Uitlanders', preferred Imperial rule and forced
Kruger to make reforms and concessions in civil rights.
In reality, Milner used this issue to justify the takeover.
Marxist historians argue: capitalist war waged for gold and the profits of
the mine owners.
Some say, it was to establish power and advance the unification of the
Structure of the British army in 1899:
Not vastly different to Crimea. Had slightly more numbers and
Cardwell's reforms had made it slightly more efficient.
However, it was much more expensive and smaller as many were
scattered amongst the Empire (i.e. India).
Numbers: In addition to regular army: militia of 65,000, which did 28
days training a year.
A large force of enthusiastic but poorly trained volunteers who
engaged in drill and shooting practice.
Tommy: Pay was not a lot, and social standing was normally low. Cases
of soldiers being excluded for social milieus. The term `tommy' derives
from a poem by Rudyard Kipling (famous and popular writer).
Not just Kipling, `Punch', attracted the working-class for its
sophisticated rather than rude humour and pointed out the labours of
soldiers. (pg. 66?)
Food: However, food allowance was generous with bread and meat
provided by her majesty, as was a gill of rum. This attracted many.

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Discipline: was severe, flogging was abandoned in 1881 and continued
in military prison until 1907.
Clothing: 1899: wore khaki (instead of red). This made him more
difficult to see.
Equipment: most had the Lee Enfield magazine rifle: which had an
excellent range.
Also the `Royal Army Medical Corps'.
Officer Corps: despite the abolishment of purchase, not much had
changed. Private income with still necessary of £100-150. Little
intellectual curiosity about the business of soldiering.
Extra: The course of the War
Boer/British armies were completely different.…read more

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Gradually, Boers were worn down and negotiations began in 1902.
Peace was agreed at Vereeniging:
o Transvaal and Orange Free state became part of the Empire
o Amnesty for Boers and a grant of £3,000,000 from government to
help repair damage
o Prospect of self-government was held out
Conclusion: lost the British £201 million. British casualties: high.…read more

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Suffering resulted from: overcrowding, supply problems etc. 34 camps.
Typhoid and other diseases broke out and many died, particularly
Emily Hobhouse & Mrs. Millicent Fawcett
EH: on her return from the camps, a report circulated among MPs and
was made public: outrage. Liberal leader: Bannerman gave a speech:
Government dispatched a female committee under MF. After touring,
her report confirmed EH claims and the camps were handed over to
civilian administration.…read more

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N.B. Richard Haldane: liberal MP who reformed the British army
to a point that he was named one of the greatest military
o British Expeditionary force (BEF): much stronger, efficient and
had more men.
Why make the changes? The Boer war had contributed to a growing
sense of pessimism about Britain's position in the world of the new
century. Concerns about industry, quality of education and the health of
people: which led to:
o Social reforms: by Asquith/Campbell-Bannerman:
1.…read more

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Press like to divide humanity into heroes and villains, rather than the
muddy mix of the two, which tends to be reality.
Recently: shift from military debate/moral debate (concentration
camps): more to the impact on the majority black population and how
they had to pay the price of trying to reconcile the two new states in
the Empire.…read more


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