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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

August 21st, 1900 - The Battle of Bergendal

Conflict: Second Boer War

Combatants: Boers vs. British

Location: South Africa

Outcome: Boer victory

Boer hostility toward the British had simmered, and sometimes boiled over, ever since Great Britain had annexed the Transvaal in 1877 and First Boer War of 1880. The discovery of gold in the Transvaal in the 1890s brought a flood of more British settlers, further straining relations. Cecil Rhodes, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, openly sought to incorporate even more Boer territory. In 1899, the Orange Free State and the South African Republic allied with one another and went to war once again with the British Empire.

A Sudden Alarm - One of Buller's Patrols from Battles of the nineteenth century (1901) by an unknown artist (Cropped)

By July of 1900, much of the formal Boer resistance to the British had been defeated and that August, British General Sir Redvers Buller was advancing on Louis Botha's commando forces in Belfast. Between the 21st and 27th of that month, the Buller's troops engaged in a series of skirmishes with the Boers in and around the Bergendal farms. The battle was fought on foot, with mounted troops, and with artillery on both sides. A large portion of the defense was fought by ZARPs (Zuid-Afrikaansche Rijdende Politie), the police force of the Boer Republic. The Boers were finally defeated and driven off by an artillery bombardment and British charge on August 27th.

The British lost over 300 soldiers in the battle while the Boers lost less than 80, but the back of the South African resistance was broken.

British Soldiers Cooking Rations during the Second Boer War by an unknown photographer

Points of Interest:

  • Although the British had defeated the Boer armies, guerilla warfare continued for two more years. Lord Kitchener 'solved' the guerilla problem by placing 120,000 Boers in concentration camps.

  • Louis Botha would be elected Prime Minister of the new Union of South Africa in 1910.

General Sir Redvers Henry Buller (1839-1908) c.1882 by an unknown photographer

General Louis Botha, Führer der letzten Transvaalburen, 1900 by Rudolf Steger

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