The Boer War of 1899-1902

In October 1899, the Boer War began. The South African Boer War started between the British Empire and the Boers of the Transvaal and Orange Free State.

Boer War: Causes  

The Boers (Afrikaners) were the descendants of the aboriginals of South Africa- the original Dutch settlers of southern Africa.

When Britain took possession of the Dutch Cape colony in 1806 during the Napoleonic wars, the independence-minded Boers resisted and rejected the possession. They saw this as an “Anglicization of South Africa and Britain’s anti-slavery policies.”

In 1833, the Boers began a heavy migration into African tribal territory, where they founded the republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

They both coexisted amicably with their British neighbours until 1867 when the discovery of diamonds and gold in the region resulted in a dispute between the Boer states and Britain.

Vintage engraving of a scene from the Anglo Boer War, British soldiers fixing bayonets to repel an attack from the trenches around Ladysmith, South Africa. Getty Image

A large number of English-speaking people, called Uitlanders (literally ‘Outlanders’) by the Afrikaners began to be invading South Africa because of the goldfields. This became a threat to the indigenous people.

Boer War: Course

Minor skirmishes ended in the 1890s, and full-scale war began in 1899. And by mid-1900, major Boer cities and formally annexed territories had been captured by the British forces. However, guerilla war continued by the Boers which further made the occupation uneasy for the British occupiers.

The Boers soon laid a very strong siege to the towns of Kimberley, Mafeking and Ladysmith and, in December 1899, humiliated and defeated the British attempts to relieve them in the battles of Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso.

Many guerrilla units of the Boers were destroyed by the British in early 1901 and many of the Boer soldiers met themselves in the concentration camps. Their resistance then became a failure by 1902. On May 31, 1902, the Peace of Vereeniging was signed, ending hostilities.

Peace of Vereeniging

Boer War ended with the peace treaty of Vereeniging. The treaty confirmed the British military administration over Transvaal and the Orange Free State and “authorized a general amnesty for Boer forces”.


In 1910, the British established the autonomous Union of South Africa which included “Transvaal, the Orange Free State, the Cape of Good Hope, and Natal as provinces.”

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About the author

Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.

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