The author has endeavoured in this Handbook to compile, for the use of students and others, a general account of the various phases of the Boer War of 1899-1902, in which he served for twenty-six months.
With some exceptions, every statement of fact relating to the military operations may be verified in one or more of the following publications—
The “Times” History of the War;
The War Office Official History of the War;
The Minutes of Evidence taken
before the Royal Commission of
Inquiry into the War.
To the two Histories, which have been but recently completed, the Author is much indebted. Other authorities have, however, been consulted.
The Sketch Maps and Plans of certain areas and battlefields are only intended to give, by means of a few hachures, contours, and form-lines, a general impression of topographical features.
The Author has from time to time in the course of the narrative indicated what he believes to have been the chief causes of the prolongation of the War:—
The inefficacy of modern Tactics
as a means of dealing with
The moral reinforcement derived
from a confident belief in the
justice of a cause, by which the enemy was continually
encouraged to persevere;
The reluctance of the British leaders to fight costly battles;
The constitutional inability
of the British Officer to take War
The waste of British horses due to inexpert Horsemastership.
I. THE ROUNDHEADS OF SOUTH AFRICA
History often reproduces without reference to nationality some particular human type or class which becomes active and predominant for a time, and fades away when its task is finished. It is, however, not utterly lost, for the germ of it lies dormant yet ready to re-appear when the exigencies of the moment recall it. The reserve forces of human nature are inexhaustible and inextinguishable.
It is probable that few of the Boers had ever heard of Oliver Cromwell, or that his life and times had ever been studied in the South African Republics, and had influenced the Boer action; yet the affinity of the South African burghers of the XIXth century with the Puritans and the Roundheads of the XVIIth is striking. It was not so much a parallelism of aims and hopes, for the struggle in England was political and not national as in South Africa, as of temperament, character, and method. There was hardly an individuity in the Boers of the War which might not have been found in the followers of Cromwell. Like these they were fanatically but sincerely religious,