Colesberg codswallop

While looking for some maps of French’s campaign around Colesberg, I came across this entertaining website:

This section of text caught my eye:

The Boer strategy

The Boers were fighting a primarily defensive war, occupying territory in Natal and the Cape Colony, and besieging British-held towns, to prevent the British from bringing the war to Republican soil. Colesberg was an important town – the last settlement in the Northern Cape before the railway crossed into the Free State…

The Boers’ next step was a major strategic one – the invasion of the Cape Colony itself, in order to stem the British advance far away from the Free State border. Another justification for the invasion was that the Cape Colony had betrayed its neutrality by hosting British troops. But neither Grobler nor Schoeman were keen to act aggressively – they just wanted to do a holding operation, to prevent British encroachment.

I am always amused by the frantic attempts to portray the Boer invasions of British territory as ‘defensive’, with this writer shamelessly using the word ‘defensive’ in the same sentence in which he explains how the Boers ‘occupied territory’ in Natal and Cape Colony… or, to put it another way: invading Natal and Cape Colony. I also love the way this fellow refers to Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberley, as ‘British-held towns’.

Would anyone say that, for example, the German invasion of Poland was ‘defensive’ and – despite all evidence to the contrary – all the poor old, misunderstood Germans were doing was ‘occupying territory’ in Poland, and besieging some ‘Polish-held towns’?

Then we are treated to some nonsense about the Cape Colony having ‘betrayed its neutrality by hosting British troops’ – Christ alone knows what that rubbish is meant to mean: British troops were based in the Cape Colony prior to Kruger’s lunatic invasion of the place because it was, well, part of the British Empire, not some ‘neutral’ nation.

And then, as a final dollop of codswallop, we are assured that Schoeman did not want to act aggressively, and only fought a holding operation… given that his ‘holding action’ was fought in someone else’s land which Schoeman’s men had invaded, that might strike the more open-minded reader as not being entirely altruistic behaviour. German troops fought plenty of ‘holding operations’ in Russia and France too… but I guess that’s somehow different?

1 Comment

  • Chris Posted November 11, 2018 7:24 am

    Hi Chris ,

    Please have a look at the linked websites
    I know where this comes from as well as the background
    The persons in question actually corressponded with Steve Watt and obtained some of his notes on these battles
    It would appear they got someone else to “construct” the history and write the notes
    I wonder if they ever got a “professional” to proof read and go over the content ?
    They are hoping to set-up a sort of Battlefield Tours of the Cape similar to the KZN variety

    Contact me for more info

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