Outline of the War

With the Flag to Pretoria

Gold was discovered on the Rand in 1887

“God be on the side, everywhere, of the brave people of Transvaal. – Freedom!”

Austrian view of the root of all the trouble.

“Net proceeds in aid of wounded Boers.”

Published by J.A. Jetzelsberger of Salzburg; artist M. Rappe.

Commercial and political interests were aroused under the pretext of better (i.e. imperial) government.

“Beloved Rhodes” (the diamond and gold magnate) and “Brave Joe” (Chamberlain, British Colonial Secretary).

Dutch card reproducing caricatures from the satirical magazines ‘Lustige Blatter’ (artist F.A. Jüttner) and ‘Le Rire’.

The Presidents of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State strove to maintain independence.

The Belgian people’s tribute to Martinus Theunis Steyn and Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, Presidents of Orange Free State and Transvaal.

By July 1900 Kruger had been driven out of his capital, Pretoria, and was soon to start his exile in Europe. Steyn, a younger man, was already on commando in the veldt.

Published by L. Beun-de Beer of Brussels.

Dutch map of the field of war.

Published by The Arcade Bookshop, The Hague, and postally used on 12.Jun.00

“In the year of the Peace Conference 1899 – The Anglo-Boer War”

Czar Nicholas II convened an International Peace Conference in 1898. After about a year, it broke up a few months before the outbreak of war.

In the summer of 1899 Steyn made a desperate attempt at mediation through a conference in Bloemfontein. But Sir Alfred Milner, Governor of Cape Colony, made demands that were impossible for Kruger to accept. The countdown to war began, although Commandant-General Joubert and Sir William Butler, British C-in-C in South Africa, both advised a peaceful settlement.

Published by Max Marcus of Berlin; unidentified artist (GSt?).

Tsar Nicholas’s and President Steyn’s efforts for peace during 1898 and 1899 came to nothing. Britain began moving troops from the UK and India. A Boer ultimatum, demanding that these forces should not land in South Africa, ran out on 11th October 1899 and their commandos crossed into northern and central Cape Colony and northern Natal.

Lieut-Col R.S.S. Baden-Powell had already published Aids to Scouting (in the military sense of reconnoitring) and had acted on the motto Be Prepared – Mafeking was very well stocked with supplies in anticipation of possible isolation.

This British card gives correct dates; an earlier version was published before the siege was raised.

Publisher: Geo. Stewart, Edinburgh; photograph by Elliott & Fry.


Lieut-Gen Sir George White, V.C., was sent to Natal, which the Boers had invaded with 20,000 men, to take command of about 12,000 troops, many of them brought from India just before the war began. He took most of these to Northern Natal and made his stand at Ladysmith. Here he was surrounded by most of the invading force, who were thus distracted from their original strategic plan of driving to the coast at Durban.

The siege lasted from 2.Nov.99 to 28.Feb.00 and was far more vital to both sides than that of Mafeking.

Published by C.W. Faulkner, London.

The value of Kimberley lay in its diamond mines. Cecil Rhodes had rushed there to look after his interests and was something of a pain to the military commander, Lieut-Col R.G. Kekewich. The siege lasted from 14.Oct.99 to 15.Feb.00.

Australian patriotic card posted from Adelaide to Cape Town in 1901.

At this stage they outnumbered the British and drove them back, laying siege to Mafeking, Kimberley and Ladysmith.

By December the British, reinforced, were ready to advance. In ‘Black Week’ they suffered three reverses: at Stormberg (10th), Magersfontein (11th) and Colenso (15th Dec.)

“The Boer Clean Sweep.”

On 10.Dec.99 at Stormberg, near Colesberg, Gatacre attempted a night action; he became lost and withdrew, forgetting over 600 officers and men, who were forced to surrender.

On the night of 11.Dec.99 Methuen sent the Highland Brigade ahead under Maj-Gen Andrew Wauchope ready for a dawn attack on the Boer lines at Magersfontein Hill, 14 miles south of Kimberley. They were still marching in close order when the Boers opened fire and decimated them.

On 15.Dec.99 at Colenso, 12 miles south of Ladysmith, Buller launched a frontal attack in broad daylight on the Boers entrenched on the opposite bank of the river Tugela. He was repulsed as smartly as Methuen and Gatacre had been.

Cartoon by Arth. Thiele; no publisher’s inscription but probably by Kunzli Frères, Paris.

“Greetings from the Theatre of War. The Play is over; the actors remove their masks.”

Lieut-Gen Lord Methuen, in command on the western front, had played the ass. General Sir Redvers Buller, V.C., appointed in September C-in-C in South Africa, decided to supervise personally the campaign in Natal to relieve Ladysmith. He charged like a bull at a gate.

Lieut-Gen Sir William Gatacre sent his men climbing hillsides like mountain goats.

From a series of 36 cards published by Dr Eysler of Berlin; unidentified artist. French and Dutch versions were also issued.

Following these defeats, Buller was replaced as C-in-C by Lord Roberts with Lord Kitchener as his Chief of Staff.

In great secrecy Roberts switched his line of attack and, by-passing the Boer defensive positions, relieved Kimberley (Feb 15) and captured 4000 Boers at Paardeburg (Feb 27, ‘Majuba Day’). Meanwhile Buller, after three unsuccessful attempts, forced a crossing of the river Tugela and relieved Ladysmith (Feb 28).

“Buller before and Buller after…..”

…his second attempt to cross the Tugela by an assault on Spion Kop (24.Jan.00).

Poor communications and a lack of water on the summit forced the British to call off the attack. His troops suffered more than a bloody nose.

Dutch version published by Diehl & Cnobloch, Amsterdam, of another cartoon by Thiele.

“The Theatre of War.”

His mount (a mule, of course – a standing joke amongst the cartoonists) gives Buller some advice: “Before crossing, why don’t we get a return ticket? It would be cheaper.”

French version of an Eysler card.

Roberts now advanced on the central front, captured both Boer capitals (Bloemfontein Mar 13 and Pretoria Jun 5) and believed the War was over. He was wrong – it lasted two more years.

“The solemn moment when the Union Flag was hoisted on the Parliament Building, Pretoria.”

The flag had been made by Lady Roberts ready for this occasion. But where exactly it flew is not clear in this photograph.

Anonymous Belgian publisher.

When the long-awaited news of the relief of Mafeking reached London, massive crowds gathered to rejoice; so much so that a new word ‘mafficking’ entered the language to describe boisterous celebrations.

Here a more sedate crowd is beginning to assemble in Victoria Street, Bristol.

Issued with the weekly magazine ‘Idle Moments’.

The siege of Mafeking, a strategically irrelevant side-show, was raised on May 17.

Next stage : After Pretoria – The Guerrilla War