Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa
The Natal Battlefields
An Introduction to the Battles fought in Natal.
An Introduction to the Natal Battlefields
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In the late 1880s, gold was discovered in the independent Boer republic of the Transvaal. As with all gold rushes, thousands of fortune seekers from around the world flocked to the mines in Johannesburg - vastly outnumbering the Boer ('farmer') residents.
The Boer Government was understandably reluctant to grant these 'uitlanders' (foreigners) any permanent rights lest they be overwhelmed and voted to restrict voting rights to those who had been naturalized for more than 14 years.
At the same time, Britain was feeling the increasing industrial weight of the USA and Germany, and with rapidly depleting gold reserves, enviously eyed the treasures that were so near but yet so far.
Lord Milner the Governor of the Cape together with big business such as Cecil Rhodes, stoked the fires of British imperialism with continual stories of the repression of uitlanders and of the money hungry, fractious, aggressive Boers.
Several compromises by the Transvaal Government on the central issue - that of uitlander franchise - frightened Milner into believing that the uitlanders might accept what was offered and there would be no reason for war.
British troops were moved to the border while the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, dithered over sending an ultimatum to President Paul Kruger.
Kruger by this time had realized that the British were bent on war whatever he did and issued his own ultimatum - that all demands by the British be withdrawn. Thus was Britain's conscience salved and as of October 11th 1899, it was at war once again with the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.
The Boers were excellent horsemen, adept shots and knew how to use the veld.