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The Sieges of Ladysmith, Mafeking, and Kimberley

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The Sieges of Ladysmith, Mafeking, and Kimberley -Table of Contents- Title Page: 1 Table of Contents: 2 Introduction: 3-4 Part I: The Strategic and Psychological Importance of Mafeking, Kimberley, and Ladysmith: 4-11 Chapter I: Strategic and Psychological Importance of Mafeking for the British: 4-6 Chapter II: Strategic and Psychological Importance of Mafeking for the Boers: 6-7 Chapter III: Strategic and Psychological Importance of Kimberley for the British: 7-8 Chapter IV: Strategic and Psychological Importance of Kimberley for the Boers: 8-9 Chapter V: Strategic and Psychological Importance of Ladysmith for the British: 9-10 Chapter VI: Strategic and Psychological Importance of Ladysmith for the Boers: 10-11 Part II: The Strategic and Psychological Effects of the Sieges of Mafeking, Kimberley, and Ladysmith: 11-14 Chapter VII: Strategic and Psychological Effects of the Siege of Mafeking on Boers and British. 11-12 Chapter VIII: Strategic and Psychological Effects of the Siege of Kimberley on Boers and British: 12-13 Chapter IX: Strategic and Psychological Effects of the Siege of Ladysmith on Boers and British: 13-14 Conclusion: 14-15 Bibliography: 16 -INTRODUCTION- The Boer War (1899-1901), alternatively known as "The Anglo-Boer War" and "The South African War", was a revolution in warfare. Equipped with long range smokeless rifles1, the Boers used their knowledge of the veldt and their superior mobility to great effect, sustaining minimal losses while inflicting major casualties. However, in contrast with these tactics of mobility, the Boers laid siege to three cities: Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking. When Kruger's Ultimatum2 expired on the 11th of October 1899, Kimberley and Mafeking, commanded respectively by Lt-Col Kekewich and Colonel Baden-Powell, were laid siege to immediately, being well within the territory of the Orange Free State, an ally of Kruger's Transvaal State. Ladysmith soon followed when three Boer commando forces, lead by Generals Prinsloo, Kock, and Erasmus converged on the Natal Region. On the 30th of October, an unprepared General White was outmaneuvered by Joubert in the Battle of Ladysmith, withdrew, and locked himself into Ladysmith. ...read more.


Rhodes was intensely disliked by the Boers for multiple reasons, mostly his destructive mining. Though it was irrational thinking by the Boers, "Even in a phase of the war short on sense to make Rhodes the point of an assault on Kimberley was peculiar"10, this was indubitably part of it's importance for the Boers. Chapter V: Strategic and Psychological Importance of Ladysmith to the British. As one of the three major besieged towns in South Africa, Ladysmith was one of the aspects of the Boer War that the British Public never tired of hearing about. In fact it might be said that Ladysmith was the town that created the interest of the British Public in the siege towns. As an entire British field force had been locked into its own base by the Boers in the first big defeat of the war, known as "Mournful Monday". Britain was exposed to national humiliation: "All ashamed for England! Not of her-never that-but for her. Once more she was a source of laughter to her enemies."11 This defeat shocked the British Public out of its blind confidence in the strength of the Empire and they were forced to re-evaluate their views. The three imperial towns were the perfect symbol from which to re-evaluate one's opinions of the Empire: as the towns fell, so would the Empire. Ladysmith also happened to be the major town of the northern Natal and commanded the Ladysmith junction, important in terms of railway control. And of course, railway control was a critical factor in terms of strategy in the Boer War. For the British, to be deprived of the Natal Railway Line12 was to be deprived of mobility and supplies in the Natal: unthinkable. And control of the Ladysmith Junction effectively did this. Chapter VI: Strategic and Psychological Importance of Ladysmith to the Boers. The importance of Ladysmith to the Boers was purely strategic, though it was eventually to have a psychological effect on the Boers. ...read more.


The fact that Ladysmith was under siege effectively denied the British the use of the Natal Railway Line, thus hampering their mobility even further. Psychologically, Ladysmith represented for the British Public a symbol of the Empire after it was shocked out its complacency following "Mournful Monday". As such, when it was relieved the British Public was also relieved. -Conclusion- The sieges of Mafeking, Kimberley and Ladysmith were all of capital importance during the war, however their importance was not the same for both the Boers and British. To the British, the psychological value was the most important, due to the identification the B.P made with the towns and the state of the Empire, and the psychological shaped the British strategy during the war. For the Boers, besieging the towns was mainly for strategic reasons, such as control of railways or enclosing a strike force. However, one might ask why, if they wanted the towns for strategic reasons, did they fail to properly assault them and then dissipate into the veldt at the appearance of the relief? Simply speaking, because there was a rather drastic change of tactics. Under the leadership of old fashioned Generals such as Cronje, Boer tactics had been fairly conventional and unimaginative, with the guerilla traits only starting to show due to the commando's capacity to take the initiative. Only towards the end of the war did the guerilla fighting actually become a strategy recognized and approved of by the Boer High Command, mostly due to the younger generals such as Christiaan de Wet. When the Boers first besieged the towns they were following the conventional procedure, not the guerilla, in which case they would have used the hit and run raid. When the relief finally came, they had switched to guerilla warfare and therefore vanished into the veldt in accordance with that procedure. Thus is the seemingly irrational and indecisive comportment of the Boers explained, as well as the importance of the siege towns clarified. ...read more.

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