was continued pressure on the Boers, as following the discovery
of gold in the Transvaal in 1885 at Witwatersrand Reef there
was a rush of non-Boer settlers, uitlanders. The new settlers
were poorly regarded by the Boers and in return there was
pressure to remove their government. In 1896 Cecil Rhodes
sponsored the ineffective coup d'etat of the Jameson Raid
and the failure to gain improved rights for Britons was used
as an excuse to justify a major military buildup in the Cape.
There was another reason for the British intention to take
control of the Boer Republics: there was at the time an attempt
made by the Transvaal Republic to link up with German South
West Africa, a possibility which the British, with an eye
to the coming clash with the Empire of the Germans, determined
Boers, under Paul Kruger, struck first. The Boers attacked
into Cape Colony and Natal between October 1899 and January
1900. The Boers were able to successfully besiege the British
garrisons in the towns of Ladysmith, Mafeking (defended by
troops headed by Robert Baden-Powell) and Kimberley and inflicted
three separate defeats on the British in one week, December
10 to 15, 1899. It was not until reinforcements arrived on
February 14, 1900 that British troops commanded by Lord Roberts
could launch counter-offences to relieve the garrisons (the
relief of Mafeking on May 18, 1900 provoked riotous celebrations
in England) and enabled the British to take Bloemfontein on
March 13 and the Boer capital, Pretoria, on June 5. Boer units
fought for two more years as guerrillas, the British, now
under the command of Lord Kitchener, responded by constructing
blockhouses, destroying farms and confiscating food to prevent
them from falling into Boer hands and placing Boer civilians
in concentration camps.
last of the Boers surrendered in May 1902 and the war ended
with the Treaty of Vereeniging in the same month. 22,000 British
troops had died and over 25,000 Boer civilians. The treaty
ended the existence of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State
as Boer republics and placed them within the British Empire.
But the Boers were given £3m in compensation and were
promised self-government in time (the Union of South Africa
was established in 1910).
Boers referred to the two wars as the Freedom Wars.