The Boer War. It was the war that broke the imperial spirit. They got their gold and followed Cecil Rhodes financial intuition, dressed up some moral imperative, but in the end, after one colonial force defeated another on alien soil, the British victory closely resembled defeat and it marked the beginning of the end of their colossal empire and the first faltering of Victorian pride…
It was a bitter war, ending even more bitterly than it began, but like most wars it was bitterest away from the fighting. There were bigotries on both sides. Passions were crude, for this was a strident, vulgar time, and abuse was often elementary. Rudyard Kipling, the bard of empire, did not hesitate to attack Kruger, president of the Boer’s,personally; and the Boer publicists, for their part, were fond of portraying Queen Victoria as a bloated, bug-eyed, and probably dissolute old matron. Both sides were assidious in spreading atrocity stories about each other, generally untrue and often wildly improbable.
It was the very first of the propaganda wars. Every incident in the field, flashed across the world by electric telegraph, was magnified or distorted to prove a point or support an ideology. When, in Black Week, the British armies were disastrously defeated in three battles in a row, half the world laughed or cheered at their discomfiture; when, six months later, Mafeking was relieved at last, the other half indulged in such hysterical celebrations that the name of the little town went briefly into the English language: maffick, “to indulge in extravagant demonstrations of exultation on occasions of national rejoicing.”
But they mafficked far more boisterously in Picadilly than in Mafeking itself, and the Boers celebrated their victories only with thanksgivings to God. In the field, as always, a ad and incoherent sense of comradeship often linked the soldiers. British doctors regularly tended the Boer wounded, and British prisoners were generally treated with courtesy. When Koos de la Rey, the most brilliant of the Boer guerrilla leaders, left his home town of Lichtenburg to go to war, he gave instructions that a plot in the town cemetery should be reserved for the honorable burial of British soldiers killed in the area. His orders were obeyed, and today the wan lines of the British dead lie there beneath the kindly gaze of de la Rey himself, perpetuated in statuary on his own grave just behind.
(see link at end)… Every one of the Boer generals was a farmer who, before the war, paid more attention to his crops and cattle than he did to evolving ideas for application in a campaign, and the majority of them, in fact, never dreamed that they would be called upon to be military leaders until they were nominated for the positions a short time before hostilities were commenced. Joubert, Cronje, Ferreira, and Meyer were about the only men in the two Republics who were certain that they would be called upon to lead their countrymen, for all had had experience in former wars; but men like Botha, De Wet, De la Rey, and Snyman, who occupied responsible positions afterward, had no such assurance, and naturally gave little or no attention to the study of military matters. The men who became the Boer generals gained their military knowledge in the wilds and on the veld of South Africa where they were able to develop their natural genius in the hunting of lions and the tracking of game. The Boer principle of hunting was precisely the same as their method of warfare and consequently the man who, in times of peace, was a successful leader of shooting expeditions was none the less adept afterward as the leader of commandos. Read More:http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16462/16462-h/16462-h.htm