The Boer War - A Struggle for Mastery in South Africa
Frank McDonough looks at recent thinking on the origins of the war of 1899-1902
The Anglo-Boer War which broke out in 1899 and ended in 1902 was a deeply significant event in the history of the British Empire. A British imperial army, which at one stage numbered 450,000 men and was drawn from all parts of the Empire, faced a Boer population of less than 100,000 who were mostly Protestant farmers. To defeat them the British resorted to extremely brutal tactics. Farms were burned down, crops destroyed, villages laid waste. The country was divided into war zones which were separated by barbed wire fences. The captured prisoners of war and women and children were put in concentration camps. The war led to the death of over 60,000 people and cost the British government £250 million. The origins of the Boer War has been the subject of fervent historical debate ever since.