(South African War) 1899-1902

Anglo-Boer War (South African War) 1899-1902

The Anglo-Boer War can be divided into four phases and Battle Tours ZA conducts tours which cover all the phases and main battles of this war.

Phase 1

  • the initial pre-emptive invasion of the Boers into Natal – mainly the battles of Talana, Elandslaagte, Tchrengula and Willow Grange,
  • the capture of Winston Churchill, and
  • the sieges of the towns of Ladysmith, Kimberley and Mafeking.

Phase 2

The British advance into:

  • Natal – mainly the battles of Colenso, Spioenkop, Vaalkrans and Tugela Heights / Ladysmith,
  • the Central Cape (Stormberg), and
  • the Western Front (Modderfontein, Magersfontein, Paardekraal, etc.).

Phase 3

  • After massive reinforcement of British troops under the new overall command of Field Marshal Lord Roberts, in 1900 the British launched another offensive to relieve the sieges; this time achieving success.
  • Once Natal and the Cape Colony were secure, the British invaded the ZAR (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State. Bloemfontein was captured on 13 March 1900, Johannesburg on 31 May 1900 and finally Pretoria was captured on 5  June 1900.

Phase 4

  • This was the Guerrilla Phase, lasting from circa mid-1900 until the treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902. It was fought mainly in the Orange Free State, the Western Transvaal, the Transvaal and the Eastern Transvaal. It included Boer pre-emptive guerrilla attacks into the Cape Colony, the Orange Free State and Natal mainly by Generals Smuts, de Wet and Botha.
  • Although by June 1900, the British were nominally in control of both Boer Republics, except for the Northern Transvaal – they only controlled the territory they physically occupied. Despite the loss of their two capital cities and over half of their army, typical Boer guerrilla tactics, conducted against the British involved the Boers attacking military supply and communication lines (including railways), outlying British bases, troop columns and patrols. This was also the time of the British “scorched earth” tactics involving the destruction of Boer farmhouses, crops and livestock, plus the incarceration of mainly Boer women and children and black people in various British concentration camps in South Africa. It also included British cordon and sweep operations using thousands of troops and auxiliaries aimed at rounding up Boers in the vast tracts of country and the use of barbed wire and blockhouses to cordon off targeted areas.
  • The guerrilla war abated with time but continued until the Boers were forced to surrender on 31 May 1902.

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