Boer guerrilla and British counter-guerrilla operations in South Africa, 1899 to 1902

  • A Wessels


In this article, a review of the guerrilla (i.e. fourth main) phase of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902 is provided; a phase that stretched from March 1900 until >May 1902. It is indicated how and why the war developed from a (semi-) conventional conflict to a full-scale guerrilla war, and what the consequences of those developments were. The way in which the Boers applied guerrilla tactics at, for example, the battles of Sannaspos, Bakenlaagte, Groenkop, Yzerspruit and Tweebosch/De Klipdrift, are briefly analysed, with special reference to the role played by prominent Boer guerrilla commanders such as Generals Christiaan de Wet, Koos de la Rey and Louis Botha. The British counter-guerrilla strategy is also analysed, with special reference to the scorched-earth policy, internment camps, “psychological warfare”, mobile columns, information/intelligence, blockhouses, armoured trains and drivers. The available sources that shed light on the guerrilla phase of the war will be briefly discussed, and this controversial phase of the war will be placed in the broader context of the history of twentieth-century South Africa.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0020
print ISSN: 1022-8136