Alex Whitcomb, Andrew Havens, Joe Xiang
Period 8
IB History

Boer War


Over the span of centuries, wars have carved the history, and paved the way to the future of our globe. Even minor conflicts in remote areas of the world hold their place in history. These small wars are often long forgotten, even though they typically lead to bigger changes in the future. Today, the Boer War is considered to be a small insignificant war to most, but to those in the 20th century the Boer War proved to be a test to the notions of European superiority and imperialism around the globe. The Boer War’s biggest impact on the world did not come from its ultimate outcome, but the concepts it tested which resulted in changes worldwide.
To the small voluntary militia of guerilla-fighting farmers or “Boers” who were forced to contest one of the world’s greatest empires, Great Britain, the Boer War seemed to be an insurmountable task. However, the Boers proved to be a greater challenge than Great Britain anticipated. Throughout the Boer War, Great Britain’s vigor and determination was tested in ways the Empire had seldom encountered before.
Contrary to popular belief, the Boer War was not a revolutionary war, but rather, one that questioned the rationale of the Brits. When slavery was abolished throughout Great Britain and its colonies the Boers, Dutch farmers who depended on slave labor, moved north and established two independent republics. Great Britain recognized these two Boer republics, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal, to be separate of the British Empire.(1) [[#_edn1|1]] However, this separation caused tension between the Boers and the British and can be attributed to one of the short-term causes of the war. Great Britain’s long-standing imperialist policies were the underlying long-term cause of the Boer War. Following the discovery of gold and diamonds in the Witwatersrand region of the independent Boer republics, British colonists flocked to the area to reap the benefits.(2)[[#_edn2|2]] Once established in the Boer Republics, the British colonists plotted to overthrow the Boer government.(3)[[#_edn3|3]] The Boers saw this plot as a threat to their independence and way of life. They knew they had to suppress the British threat or all would be lost. This was the culmination of all previous tensions between the British Empire and the Boer Republics and ultimately resulted in war.
From the onset of the Boer War, the Boer military employed guerrilla warfare to take advantage of their familiarity with the terrain and compensate for their lack of trained soldiers. In an attempt to slow the British offensive the Boers also resorted to using the scorched earth policy.(4)[[#_edn4|4]] Unlike the Brits, the Boers also had to focus all their resources into the war effort to support their voluntary militia.(5)[[#_edn5|5]] On the other hand, the British, a significant world power at the time, could afford to use limited warfare because of their overwhelming troop advantage and their advanced economy. The British military used a more traditional type of warfare method, where lining up in formations when entering battle was applied.(6)[[#_edn6|6]] However after several unsuccessful skirmishes with the Boers, the British were forced to replace their traditional warfare techniques with guerilla warfare and reach out for reinforcements from nearby colonies like Australia.(7)[[#_edn7|7]] With these changes in place, Great Britain proceeded to wear down its opponent by forcing Boer citizens into concentration camps and cutting off Boer supply lines. Under this new offensive the British Empire was led to victory. However, the victory did not come without struggles, these struggles in turn questioned the true power of the British Empire.
Along with warfare tactics, South Africa’s unusual climate played an important role in how the Boer War was fought. South Africa is a dry, savanna area, which experiences considerable temperature change from day to night.(8)[[#_edn8|8 ]]The British troops were not prepared for these harsh conditions of South Africa’s days and nights, and had no time to acclimate themselves. This was a major advantage for the Boers, who were used to the weather patterns after having lived and farmed in the area for decades. The Boer’s familiarity with South Africa led to many key victories in the beginning of the war.
In order to compensate for the Boer’s guerrilla fighting techniques and the climate of South Africa, the British developed and implemented several technological advancements into their war strategy. To defend themselves against Boer ambushes and train raids, the British forces incorporated blockhouses and armored trains. The British military also used observation balloons to quickly expose where the Boers were hiding.
The Boer militia and the British military used twentieth century technological advancements in their war efforts. The Boer troops used Mauser rifles with smokeless charges, which made it possible for Boer forces to shoot from greater distance. These rifles aided in the Boer’s guerrilla fighting tactics. Both the British and the Boer used “Pom-Pom guns” which could fire 60 one-pound shells a minute. Medical technologies also advanced during the Boer war, which resulted in more effective antiseptics, surgical, medical, and nursing procedures, saving the lives of those who would have previously died from infections. X-rays were also used to find bullets in the body, and diagnose other war related injuries, such as shrapnel wounds and bone fractures.(9)[[#_edn9|9]]
The Boer War was settled following the Boer’s approval of the Vereeniging Peace. The treaty was signed in Pretoria on May 31, 1902 by representatives from the British and former Boer governments. The peace treaty released all Boer prisoners and granted all Boer soldiers amnesty for their part in the war in exchange for the end of Boer independence in South Africa. Both independent Boer republics and the economical resources that were located within them came under British colonial control. Under British Colonial rule, the Boers were granted self-government in the colony and given a £3,000,000 grant to rebuild the South African Republic.(10)[[#_edn10|10]] In the end, the British showed their strength and determination, outlasting the Boers’ small voluntary force. However, unlike before, the Boers’ inexperienced, poorly equipped militia gave the British an unexpected struggle, which in turn tested the age-old notions of imperialism and European supremacy.


[[#_ednref|1]](1). “Boer War.” SIRS Discoverer. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2009. <http://discoverer.prod.sirs.com/‌discoweb/‌disco/‌do/‌article?urn=urn%3Asirs%3AUS%3BARTICLE%3B0000221099>.

[[#_ednref|2]](2). Saunders, Christopher. “Anglo-Boer Wars.” World Book Advanced. World Book, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <http://www.worldbookonline.com/‌advanced/‌article?id=ar067580&st=Anglo-boer+Wars>.

[[#_ednref|3]](3). “The Boer War.” Australian Government Culture Portal. N.p., 8 Jan. 2008. Web. 24 Sept. 2009. <http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/‌articles/‌boerwar>.
This article written by the Australian Government explains aspects of the Boer War.

[[#_ednref|4]](4). Dennis, P., et al. “Australia and the Boer War, 1899-1902.” Australian War Memorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2009. <http://www.awm.gov.au/‌atwar/‌boer.asp>.
This article from the Australian War Memorial, written by the Australian Government by P. Dennis who wrote the The Oxford companion to Australian military history.

[[#_ednref|5]](5). “Scorched Earth Policy.” Def. 1. Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2009. <http://dictionary.reference.com/‌browse/‌scorched+earth+policy?fromAsk=true&o=100074>.
Scorched Earth Policy is a military practice of devastating the property and agriculture of an area before abandoning it to an advancing enemy.

[[#_ednref|6]](6). Dennis, P., et al. “Australia and the Boer War
[[#_ednref|7]](7). Dennis, P., et al. “Australia and the Boer War
[[#_ednref|8]](8). “Republic of South Africa: Land and Climate.” CultureGrams World Edition. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <http://online.culturegrams.com/‌world/‌world_country_sections.php?contid=1&wmn=Africa&cid=148&cn=South_Africa&sname=Land_and_Climate&snid=1>.

[[#_ednref|9]](9). “The Boer War.” Australian Government Culture Portal
[[#_ednref|10]](10). “Peace of Vereeniging.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2009. <http://www.school.eb.com/‌all/‌eb/‌article-9075091?query=peace%20of%20vereeniging&ct=null>.



Works Cited

“The Boer War.” Australian Governemtn Culture Portal. N.p., 8 Jan. 2008. Web. 24 Sept. 2009. <http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/‌articles/‌boerwar>.
“Boer War.” SIRS Discoverer. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2009. <http://discoverer.prod.sirs.com/‌discoweb/‌disco/‌do/‌article?urn=urn%3Asirs%3AUS%3BARTICLE%3B0000221099>.
Dennis, P., et al. “Australia and the Boer War, 1899-1902.” Australian War Memorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2009. <http://www.awm.gov.au/‌atwar/‌boer.asp>.
“Peace of Vereeniging.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2009. <http://www.school.eb.com/‌all/‌eb/‌article-9075091?query=peace%20of%20vereeniging&ct=null>.
“Republic of South Africa: Land and Climate.” CultureGrams World Edition. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <http://online.culturegrams.com/‌world/‌world_country_sections.php?contid=1&wmn=Africa&cid=148&cn=South_Africa&sname=Land_and_Climate&snid=1>.
Saunders, Christopher. “Anglo-Boer Wars.” World Book Advanced. World Book, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <http://www.worldbookonline.com/‌advanced/‌article?id=ar067580&st=Anglo-boer+Wars>.
“Scorched Earth Policy.” Def. 1. Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2009. <http://dictionary.reference.com/‌browse/‌scorched+earth+policy?fromAsk=true&o=100074>.