Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa

The Natal Battlefields

The Second Boer War (1899) - the Epilogue.

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The war marked the first extensive use of smokeless ammunition, camouflage, trench warfare and concentration camps.

The Second Boer War The Second Boer War (1899) - the Epilogue.

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  • Tens of thousands of soldiers, Boer women and children and Africans died - as well as 500,000 horses.
  • 40,000 Boer farms were destroyed.
  • The scorched earth policy forced the Boers to the peace table at Vereeniging.

Epilogue

The 'six month war' lasted over two years, saw the first widespread use of smokeless ammunition (which cost the British dearly), the first widespread employment of trench warfare (by the Boers) and the first use of concentration camps (by the British and in which more than 26,000 Boer and African men, women and children died).

For more details of all the Boer concentration camps in KwaZulu-Natal, go here.

The war was watched closely by the European powers and many of the features first noted in the Anglo Boer War occurred again in future conflicts. This war could also be described as the first 'media war' in which not only many war correspondents but photographers and film makers were involved. It was also not just a war between the British and the Boers. Troops from Canada, New Zealand and Australia fought against Russians, Spanish, Germans and Americans on the Boer side.

The war was also not just between white people. Inevitably, black people were drawn into it. Some were actively involved and were pressed into service by both sides to tend wagons and horses, act as guides and dig trenches. Many Boer soldiers went into battle with their 'agterryer' ('behind rider') whose job it was to tend to his master.

Although it was not British policy to arm Africans, by the middle of the war, many had been armed and some provided with horses. Over twenty thousand served as guards in the blockhouses that the British erected across the country to restrict the mobility of the Boer commandos.

Many Africans however were passively involved. Over 30,000 Boer farmhouses were destroyed as part of the British 'scorched earth' policy and all the occupants - both black and white - were consigned to concentration camps. An estimated 20,000 blacks - mainly children - died in these camps.

The black people looked to the British who were regarded as liberal, to improve their lot, however, regulations controlling black people were tightened after the war and many thought that they would have been better off had the Boers won the war.

Next: The British Concentration Camps in Natal



   
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