On this day in 1895: The Jameson Raid

Some time back, there was a movement in South Africa against a patently unfair franchise system. This system kept the vast majority of people devoid of rights, stripped of the vote and treated in every way as second class citizens: obliged to pay tax and fight in wars as required, but not permitted any say in how the country was run. Peaceful protests and petitions to rectify this were treated with scorn by the ruling caste, and police violently broke up their rallies, arresting their ring-leaders on trumped charges to be tried in kangaroo courts. Their plight attracted attention and support from all over the world, and Johannesburg was a tinder box of potential revolution and civil war.

Sound familiar?

Of course, if this description had been written about the ANC’s struggle in the latter half of the 20th Century, then all manner of ‘right on’ types would be nodding their support for the cause, ‘tut-tut-ing’ at the blatant unfairness of it all from behind their red-rimmed glasses.

However, on learning that this paragraph is actually describes the plight of the (mainly) English-speaking Johannesburg Uitlanders in the last decade of the 19th Century, most of these self-proclaimed champions of ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ suddenly have a change of heart. With the trademark hypocrisy of the liberal left, the situation of the Uitlanders is somehow… ‘well… err… just… like… different, man’.

And it is this rank hypocrisy which has coloured the way that the Jameson Raid, launched in support of the Uitlanders, is perceived today. Logically, its leader, Dr Leander Starr Jameson, should be a darling of the left: a revolutionary to rank alongside the likes of their heroes Che Guevara, Castro and Mandela, a man who risked everything to bring democracy and rights to his people – people who were being oppressed by a distinctly unpleasant, racist and corrupt ruling oligarchy. And Jameson was certainly not some sort of cowardly armchair revolutionary: he personally led an armed struggle against this oppression, and was slung in gaol for his efforts… what’s not to admire, one wonders?

The Gold Reef City, c.1889

To understand the full story of the Jameson Raid, a little background is perhaps necessary. By the mid 1880’s the rulers of the independent Boer state of the Transvaal discovered their tiny nation was lucky enough to be situated on an enormous gold reef. Predictably enough, this prompted a gold rush, with tens of thousands of foreigners (‘Uitlanders’, to the disapproving Boers) settling in what was to become Johannesburg. Large numbers of these immigrants were of British stock, many coming from the Cornish or Australian mines, together with engineers, traders, speculators and the like. They were undoubtedly a rough and ready bunch, and the rather wild and hedonistic Gold Rush town of Johannesburg with viewed in a very dim light by Boers in their nearby sleepy little capital of Pretoria.

Knowing full well that to extend a fair franchise to these incomers would see he and his ilk never win another election, long-serving (self-serving?) President Paul Kruger stubbornly refused to give the Uitlanders the vote. As his opponents pointed out, Afrikaners in the British colonies of the Cape and Natal had the same voting rights as English-speakers and, what was more, the disenfranchised Uitlanders contributed virtually all the Transvaal’s tax. There was also the thorny issue of all schooling in the Transvaal being in Dutch, which was obviously not well received by those (relatively few) Uitlanders who had children.

To make matters worse, and artfully ignored by his modern-day cheerleaders, Kruger’s was a deeply corrupt and rather unstable state. Oom Paul paid himself an enormous salary, granted concessions to friends and relatives willy-nilly and surrounded himself with a clique of untouchable Hollanders.[1]

Kruger had won the 1893 election against the more relatively (and I really do mean ‘relatively’ – Joubert was a slave trader) more moderate and forward looking Joubert. There was plenty of evidence of skulduggery and Kruger’s victory was considered by almost everyone to be fraudulent. Four months of recounts followed but, still dissatisfied, Joubert’s more hot-headed supporters openly talked about starting (another) civil war.[2]

In fact, according to The Times History, Joubert’s clique approached Uitlander leaders with a view to providing arms and uniting to overthrow Kruger. Fearful to get involved, the Uitlanders turned a blind eye to these advances[3]– which is all rather ironic considering what happened a couple of years later.

Had Joubert won the 1893 election, there is little doubt that moves to enfranchise and accommodate the Uitlanders would – quite rightly – have followed. Alas, by returning Kruger to power, the Transvaal stuck to their hardline stance, leaving Kruger and his clique to bear responsibility for causing the war that duly followed.

As well as a somewhat cavalier attitude towards democracy, Oom Paul also had absolutely no interest in fair trade. Monopolies for the importation of dynamite and the running of railways were mysteriously handed to syndicates from Holland and (worse still, in the eyes of the British) Germany. When the Boers of the Transvaal were not squabbling and fighting among themselves, they could be found picking fights with neighbouring African chiefdoms. Much to their chagrin, the Uitlanders, while denied the vote, were eligible to be drafted to serve in these conflicts.

Towards the end of 1894, a British agent in Pretoria sent a report to his superiors, stating that the number of ‘Uitlanders’ was 78,068, against only 70,861 Boers. Even allowing for a degree of inaccuracy in these figures, it should be noted that 90% of the Uitlanders were young men of voting age, whereas the Boer figure included a goodly percentage of women and children – none of whom were eligible to vote. It was obvious to all (not least Oom Paul) that, if democracy was allowed to take its course, the Transvaal would naturally become dominated by non-Boers.
Unlike in the British territories of Natal and the Cape Colony, non-whites were also completely excluded from the vote – another factor never mentioned by modern-day Boer apologists.

Long before Rhodes and Jameson had thought of an insurrection, the British High Commissioner of the Cape, Sir Henry Loch, had begun to worry about his unstable neighbour. The Uitlanders bombarded Kruger with petitions and set up secret societies, rifle clubs and a ‘Reform Committee’. When Sir Henry visited Johannesburg he received a hero’s welcome, but also witnessed some ugly scenes as the Uitlanders heckled Kruger and one over-enthusiastic fellow even managed to drape a Union Flag over him. Trouble was brewing and the South African and British papers were full of it.

Reform Committee

A friend of F. Edmund Garrett, editor of the Cape Times, was up in Matabeleland when the story broke and told Garrett a remarkable tale. Jameson – who was the Administrator of Rhodesia – and some others were sitting on the veranda of the rather grandly named ‘Government House’ in Bulawayo, with the Doctor smoking endless cigarettes and reading the ‘Life of Clive’. Suddenly, Jameson looked up and stated: ‘I have a jolly good mind to march straight down off the plateau with the men I have here and settle the thing out of hand. The idea of South Africa going on being trodden upon by this Pretoria gang is absurd. I have a good mind to get the fellows together and start tomorrow, via Tati’. When Mr Garrett’s friend and several others pointed out that ‘the fellows’ amounted to just a couple of hundred men of the Matabeleland Mounted Police and other such details, Jameson retorted: ‘well, you may say what you like, but Clive would have done it’.[4]

By July 1894, Jameson was not the only one who spoke of the trouble ending in bloodshed.  Sir Henry Loch arranged for quantities of Martini-Henry rifles to be moved to Mafeking, and for the Bechuanaland Border Police to be ready to advance on Johannesburg ‘in case of a row’. To be fair to Sir Henry, he was aware of the storm of recriminations which had followed the massacres of Europeans during the 1882 riots in Alexandria and simply wished to be ready to act as policeman and arbitrator in case of trouble, rather than being the instigator.

John Hays Hammond

A hundred years earlier, the American colonies rightly rebelled against King George III, under the slogan “no taxation without representation”; appropriately enough, therefore, it was de Beers’ American engineer, John Hays Hammond, who first informed Rhodes of the possibility of an Uitlander uprising. Hammond, Rhodes and Jameson met in Matabeleland in mid-1894 and Jameson recalled that the American assured them that: ‘Unless a radical change was made, there would be a rising of the people in Johannesburg’.[5] As always, Rhodes’ interest in the potential rebellion was a mixture of pragmatism, patriotism and profit. Of course he longed for South Africa to be united under the Union Jack – in a secret letter to Alfred Beit,[6] written in August 1895, he described the plot as “… the big idea which makes England dominant in Africa, in fact gives England the African continent”.[7] But he also confided to another friend that there were other motives behind his interest in the uprising:

‘The Johannesburg people are bound to get their rights. With Joubert and Kotze [leaders of more moderate Boer factions], they will be overwhelmingly strong. The result will be a cosmopolitan republic, more dangerous to England than Kruger. I prefer Kruger to a Johannesburg financier or speculator. Either may call in Germany and Germany will come fast enough… if the Johannesburgers succeed without me, it’s all up for a South African Union. Now I fear those fellows may have a revolution and a successful revolution in spite of me. They will gravitate to Europe and away from South Africa… if I assume control, I can steer them into a South African union, which will include railways, customs, post office, telegraphs and, in fact, may extend to all federal questions’.[8]

Basically, if there was going to be an up-rising in Johannesburg, Rhodes wanted to be in on the act so he could control the result. Though a staunch advocate of British Imperialism, and despite the way history now portrays him, Rhodes was in no way anti-Boer – indeed, he was the leader of the pro-Boer party in the Cape. As Sir Graham Bower recalled: ‘nor was this the case of a sham alliance, it was, I believe, a case of genuine liking and sympathy. Rhodes often said to me: ‘I like these fellows, they are country gentlemen’.’

But Rhodes was certainly anti-Kruger, considering him a dinosaur standing in the way of progress – which was not in any way unfair. After a stormy meeting with Kruger about Rhodes’ idea of the Railway Union, Rhodes had given up all hope of attaining his ends through Kruger, angrily declaring: ‘He was absolutely hopeless and irreconcilable. There were ten years more of mischief in him. We cannot wait till he disappears; South Africa is developing too rapidly. Something must be done to place the control of the Transvaal in the hands of a more progressive ruler than Oom Paul’.[9]

His interest in the Uitlander’s rumblings in Johannesburg piqued, Rhodes sent Jameson, his trusted Lieutenant, to investigate matters further. Sure enough, the Doctor found the mood in Johannesburg to be as Hays Hammond had said. Kruger had recently waved away a petition signed by over 35000 Uitlanders and had then forced through a new law which made it even harder for the new-comers to get the vote. One of the leading Uitlanders, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (who would later write ‘Jock of the Bushveldt’), declared the new law essentially amounted to: ‘an ultimatum – a declaration of war to the knife’.[10]

Johannesburg Reformers

Three events occurring in 1895 nudged Rhodes’s interest in a rebellion from theoretical temper tantrums to active involvement.

The first was that Rhodes managed to engineer the return of his friend, Sir Hercules Robinson to replace Sir Henry Loch as Governor and High Commissioner of South Africa. Robinson was a director of several South African companies and owed this (and his fortune) to Rhodes. While Rhodes and Jameson were last in England, Robinson had met with them several times at the Burlington Hotel and made no secret of his desire to return to South Africa. Rhodes later told his friend, William Stead, the reason why he pushed for Robinson’s return: “The first indispensable thing was to have a High Commissioner who commanded the confidence of the Dutch – ‘For without the Dutch you can do nothing’. It was for that reason he so strenuously advocated the appointment of Sir Hercules Robinson – he had negotiated the Convention of 1884 and they [the Afrikaners] believed in him.”’[11]

Sure enough, Rhodes broached the issue with Lord Roseberry (Liberal Prime Minister and admirer of Rhodes) and agreement was quickly reached. Much to the fury of Rhodes’ enemies, who regarded Sir Hercules as little more than Rhodes’ puppet, Robinson took the post on the 18th of February. Such was the indignation surrounding the appointment that it was even the subject of questions in the House of Commons. Ironically enough, one of the most vocal critics was Joseph Chamberlain – Liberal-little-Englander-turned-born-again-Conservative-Imperialist – and sworn enemy of Robinson.[12]

Chamberlain’s tirade against the appointment of Sir Hercules had come from the opposition benches, but when Lord Roseberry’s Liberal government fell in July 1895, ‘Pushful Joe’ Chamberlain was appointed as Secretary of State for the Colonies in the new Conservative administration. The erstwhile Little Englander’s love for Imperial expansion had all the ardent passion that normally only a born-again Christian or reformed smoker can muster.

Chamberlain’s appointment was the second of the three stepping stones towards active intervention in the Transvaal. Dreading the prospect of working for Chamberlain, Sir Hercules Robinson seriously considered resignation but was talked out of it. Rhodes’ one time friend turned political sparring partner, John Xavier Merriman, prophetically remarked that über-Imperialist Chamberlain would ‘have this country in a blaze before the year was out’.[13]

The third event needed for conflict was supplied, surprisingly enough, by Kruger himself. Determined to block out British colonial competition for his state-owned railway monopolies, Kruger continued to raise tariffs until the Cape railways decided to offload their wagons at the border, and load the cargos onto wagons which would be driven into the Transvaal across the ‘drifts’ (fords) of the Vaal River. When Kruger then ordered these crossings be closed, he prompted what became known as the ‘Drifts Crisis’. Chamberlain seized on this disruption of free trade as an excuse to provoke a row with the Transvaal. Upping the ante still further, and against the advice of Sir Hercules, Chamberlain also sought to involve Great Britain in the Transvaal’s mistreatment of native prisoners taken in one of their numerous small wars. Tensions rose considerably, with Chamberlain even seeking (and gaining) assurance from the government of the Cape Colony that they would cover half the costs of the war that all were sure was looming. The Cape Colony was also to be responsible for the movement by railway of all troops and munitions up to the Transvaal battlefront. Chamberlain’s plotting was as dangerous as it was indefensible, for the British Army only had 3,500 soldiers in South Africa, compared to the 9,000 men the Transvaal could instantly muster. While the Orange Free State was expected to remain neutral, it had a further 6,000 men who could readily ride to the aid of their Afrikaans brethren. Oom Paul was not yet ready to be dragged into war with Britain, though. He backed down at the last moment and opened the drifts once more.[14]

Tensions remained at boiling point, and with a bellicose Colonial Secretary in London, and an easily manipulated High Commissioner in Cape Town, Rhodes began to put the rest of his plan in place. His brother, Colonel Frank Rhodes,[15] would be his man in Johannesburg, liaising with the Uitlander ‘Reform Committee’. Rifles, Maxim guns and ammunition were smuggled into the town in oil drums and hidden in mine shafts. Dr Jameson would be in charge of a ‘relief force’ of Light Horse, who would be stationed on the border of the Transvaal, ready to ride in to the rescue of British women and children from ‘Boer atrocities’.

The distance from the border of Rhodesia to Johannesburg was too far for a lightening raid though, so Rhodes arranged for Chamberlain to transfer a strip of Bechuanaland, which ran along the border of the Transvaal, to the Chartered Company. From this start point, Johannesburg was a mere 170 miles away – which everyone agreed would be close enough for a daring coup de main. Just in case, however, Rhodes also arranged for his agents to establish covert supply points along this intended line of march, where Jameson’s men would pick up food and fresh horses.

A cover story was put about that this strip of land was to be used to build a railway up to Rhodesia. When Jameson’s men later mustered there in their hundreds, the story was that they were there to protect the phantom builders of this phantom railway. As cover stories go, it was a fairly poor one; many years later, when the railway was indeed built, the builders were protected only by the dozen policemen who covered the entire Bechuanaland Protectorate.[16]

With no border to protect, the officers and men of the Bechuanaland Border Police were offered the chance to transfer into the Chartered Company’s police force, though this process was still on-going when the raid was launched.

On his way back to Rhodesia, Jameson had visited the Uitlander conspirators again in March 1895 and reported that pressure was building for rebellion. Up in Rhodes’ personal fiefdom, preparations began in earnest. In evidence to the select committee, Jameson later said that he ‘gave special attention to the formation of the Rhodesia Horse… and to the general efficiency of the Matabeleland Mounted Police’.[17] A steady supply of rifles, ammunition and other military apparel were brought up to equip the part time volunteers of the newly raised Rhodesia Horse. At the inauguration of the regiment, Jameson mentioned that, while in England, he had visited the Maxim factory and selected the most up-to-date machine guns and field pieces.[18] Jameson’s antipathy to all things military had not lessened, however, and in May, he wrote to his brother Sam:

‘…Tonight I have to talk to the Volunteers – not easy as I hate all the military paraphernalia, yet one must appear to like it all, and induce this crowd to like it… I am leaving next week to meet Willoughby and get Volunteers properly under way there and go through the usual crop of grievances. Get pretty sick of them all’.[19]

In a reference to the late Lobengula’s antics, Jameson was often asked ‘where he was going to throw his assegai’, but the Doctor either cultivated the rumours of an attack on Barotseland or implied his plan was to complete the replacement of the police with a burgher force. There was a general feeling that something was about to happen, but no one seemed to know what.[20]

Despite their later protestations, two people who certainly knew what was about to happen were Sir Hercules Robinson and Joseph Chamberlain. One must make a distinction between knowing the ‘Jameson Plan’ and knowing about the ‘Jameson Raid’, however. The Jameson Raid – which was what actually occurred – would seem to have been known only to the Doctor himself. There can be no doubt, however, that both Robinson and Chamber knew of the plan which called for Jameson to bring a mounted force into the Transvaal in the wake of a careful stage-managed uprising in Johannesburg.

Much – though by no means all – of the evidence for this complicity comes from the memoirs of Sir Graham Bower, which were only published after his death. He was a remarkable man, with a sense of duty, loyalty and patriotism utterly alien to the modern mind. As he put it himself, ‘since a scapegoat was wanted, I was willing to serve my country in that capacity’. Fearing the terrible consequences that would result if Chamberlain and Robinson’s involvement became known, he took all the blame to save his superiors. As he confided to his daughter years later: ‘When Sir Hercules and Chamberlain decided to deny all knowledge and all complicity, it was an undoubted fact that had they acted otherwise, war would have taken place (in South Africa and in Europe). I was urged by Sir Hercules to adopt his line, for he said: ‘No one who knows us will believe you kept me in ignorance’. The Rhodesians, including Rhodes, urged me not to be a fool, but all my training and all my instincts told me I could not adopt the attitude of my superiors. There remained then two alternatives: the role of a Judas, or the role of a scapegoat. I chose the latter’.

Rhodes was also clever enough to retain certain correspondence from Chamberlain, correspondence which became known as ‘the missing telegrams’. Rhodes’ possession of these damning communiqués was well known to Chamberlain and we shall come back to this later. But as for Pushful Joe’s involvement, Rhodes summed it up best to a friend: ‘he’s in it up to his neck’.

The strip of Bechuanaland was officially handed over to the Chartered Company on the 18th of October 1895 and Sir Hercules Robinson ordered that the transfer of the Bechuanaland Border Police to the Chartered Company commence. The BBP would remain at their camp outside Mafeking while this process was completed. Jameson started moving units of the Rhodesian Mounted Police[21] to their jumping off point at Pitsani in November and then began waiting impatiently. Though Kipling would later extol the virtues of a man who can ‘wait, but not be tired of waiting’, Jameson was not to display a great deal of patience in the run up to the Raid. The Doctor was a man of action, and even by his own standards, he was supremely confident of success. He claimed to one friend that: ‘Anyone could take the Transvaal with half a dozen revolvers!’ Another was casually assured: ‘I shall get through as easily as a knife cuts through butter!’.[22]

In the months prior to the Raid, the restless Jameson travelled constantly from Johannesburg, Pitsani, Bulawayo, Fort Salisbury and Cape Town. While in the Cape – and much to the chagrin of their Colonel – the Doctor had managed to secure the transfer of hundred men from Cape Town’s Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Volunteer Rifles.[23] These men travelled up to Pitsani to join with the Rhodesian Mounted Police, bringing the force there to around 370 officers and men. When those men of the BBP who wished to transfer were later added in, the fighting element of Jameson’s invasion force would ultimately consist of 478 men, eight Maxims, a pair of 7-pdrs and a single 12½-pdr. As in the recent Matabele War, Sir John Willoughby would serve as Jameson’s military commander, with the Doctor himself having a rather undefined role. On paper, it was a formidable force, but a far cry from the 800 men Rhodes’ plan had originally called for. The 1000-strong Rhodesian Horse (under the command of Jack Spreckley) remained up in Bulawayo in reserve.

Eckstein’s Building, c.1892

On the 19th of November, Jameson wrote to a friend, stating that: ‘the almost certain date will be December 26… unless some unforeseen blabbing occurs, when we might have to hurry things’.[24] The Doctor’s fears were well founded – the longer his force stayed on the Transvaal border, the greater the chance that the alarm being raised. Despite Jameson’s cover story that they were being mustered for a campaign against a minor chief called Linchwe, the men were talking a lot and rumours were flying.

While Jameson champed at the bit, the opposite was happening in Johannesburg. As the day of the uprising loomed, the Johannesburg Reformers began to get cold feet. It was far easier to talk about such things over a whisky and soda than it was to risk all and become a revolutionary. Many of the working class Uitlander miners had little interest in the vote in the first place and plenty cared even less what flag flew over Johannesburg. These were mainly men driven by money – while they might have been ready to revolt during a slump, they were happy enough to put up with Kruger’s dreadful government for as long as they were earning good cash. As the time for the revolt neared, the large numbers of Irish and American Uitlanders expressed that they had no wish to fight for the Union Jack and arguing about which flag would be hoisted became a convenient delaying tactic.

Many of the most prominent and outspoken Uitlanders were very wealthy men with a great deal to lose. As Sir Graham Bower put it when the Johannesburgers began to dither: ‘The bottom is knocked out of the revolution now. No one expects Rothschild to die waving a red flag on a barricade and our local Rothschilds are not built that way’. Similarly in 1994, 99% of white South Africans simply accepted the ANC coming to power and – whether they approved of the change or not – simply got on with making the best of it. When one has a BMW in the driveway and a nice house with a pool, taking to the hills as a ‘bitter-einder’ loses any romantic appeal.

More astounding was that even Rhodes’ own brother, Frank, seemed to struggle to take it all seriously. When Jameson travelled to Johannesburg to try and instil some steel and purpose into the wavering Reformers, Frank left a note explaining he was too busy chasing dolly birds to meet him: ‘Dear Jim-Jams, sorry I can’t see you this afternoon, have an appointment to teach Mrs X the bike’.

Despite his impressive military record, Frank Rhodes was not the right man to spark a revolution. As Elizabeth Longford notes in her book Jameson’s Raid, “Jameson should have been in charge of Johannesburg, Frank Rhodes of Pitsani. The Colonel would have waited patiently on the border until summoned. The Doctor would have used his inflammable personality to set the Golden City alight. Rhodes had got the right men in the wrong places.”[25]

She is undoubtedly correct and it was an uncharacteristic blunder by Rhodes. It is interesting to speculate how different South African history would have been had Jameson, with his magnetic leadership, iron resolution and boundless charisma, been in Johannesburg when he was most needed. If the wavering Uitlanders would have rallied behind anyone, it would have been Jameson – and Kruger’s God-awful government might well have fallen without a shot being fired.

With the date of the uprising approaching, Jameson travelled to Johannesburg again, this time to pick up a letter of invitation from the senior members of the Reform Committee. Signed by Charles Leonard, Colonel Frank Rhodes, Lionel Phillips and John Hays Hammond, the letter was intended to provide Jameson with a fig leaf of legality when he crossed the border to assist them in their uprising – the Doctor remarked that he did not wish to enter the Transvaal ‘as a brigand’.[26]

The letter contained suitably emotive language and an appeal to chivalry that no red-blooded Anglo-Saxon of the Victorian age could resist: ‘…Thousands of unarmed men, women and children of our race will be at the mercy of well-armed Boers, while property of enormous value will be in the greatest peril… we feel constrained to call upon you to come to our aid… the circumstances are so extreme that we cannot but believe that you and the men under you will not fail to come to the rescue…’ The letter was left undated, so the Doctor could fill this in as appropriate.
Belatedly realising that they had made a terrible mistake in putting their names to such a letter, the signatories contacted Jameson the following day and requested he send it back to them. Jameson’s ardent belief that the end justifies the means led to him responding in a less than honest fashion: ‘Awfully sorry, old man, but it has gone down to Cape Town by the last train’.[27]

 

Grand National Hotel, c.1892

 

While Jameson was completely committed to the uprising, the Reform Committee continued to think of reasons not to start it and were frantically exploring alternative courses of action. In late November the Reformers were involved in a flurry of diplomatic activity and were close contact with General Joubert, the commandant general of the Transvaal and the man thought by many to have been cheated out of the presidency by Kruger’s intrigues. Mr Kotze, the chief justice of the Transvaal was also in communication with them – both retained presidential aspirations and hoped to secure the vote of an enfranchised Johannesburg.[28]

While many Boer moderates – both in the Transvaal and the Cape – wished to see the back of Kruger’s corrupt, parochial and deeply racist regime, the Reformers had realised that none would look favourably on an armed incursion by ‘British’ forces.

Jameson returned to Pitsani but received a troubling telegram from Colonel Frank Rhodes on the 7th of December. Using the conspirator’s rather laughable ‘code’, Rhodes’ message was: ‘Tell Zahlbar [Dr Jameson] the polo tournament here postponed for one week or it would clash with race week’. Furious at this utterly frivolous excuse and yet more dithering, Jameson replied immediately, stating that ‘any delay would be most injurious’. Over the next few days, Jameson exchanged a veritable stream of telegrams with the Reformers, as well as firing off several to Rhodes down in Cape Town. While Jameson continued to push for action, the Reformers increasingly urged restraint and delay.[29]

Arch-rivals Chamberlain and Sir Hercules were also communicating. Chamberlain seems to have seen the reformers arguments over the flag for the excuse they were, and was worried the plans were unravelling. Marked ‘private and personal’ Chamberlain sent a cipher telegram to Robinson on the 6th of December, stating that if the Transvaalers would accept the Union Jack, they could elect their own governor. Tellingly, Chamberlain also warned that there must not be a fiasco.[30]

As nerves began to jangle, Rhodes told Sir Graham Bower: ‘If that scoundrel Chamberlain plays me false, I will ruin him’. Sir Graham did not feel that this meant Rhodes would necessarily betray Chamberlain, but it was ‘rather an expression of that doubt and distrust which Chamberlain’s character inspired in all who met him’.[31]

Rhodes was not the only one who confided his worries to Sir Graham. ‘About the 18th of December, Newton[32] came to Cape Town, and told me he was uneasy about Jameson, as he and his officers were talking in a bellicose way of marching into the Transvaal… I did not attach any importance to the tall talk of young soldiers. Moreover, Jameson was believed to be a hard headed man of undoubted loyalty to Rhodes, who had been his friend for many years’

‘I told Newton that the whole thing was piracy, but I feared we would not help ourselves as there seemed to be a conspiracy between Rhodes and Chamberlain. Chamberlain was obviously pushing Rhodes and we were all dirtying our hands when it was important to keep them clean. Newton wanted to resign – but I said that whilst I would wish to do so, I thought we could neither of us desert the old man [Hercules Robinson]. It would be cowardly to do so.’[33]

Sir Graham passed on Newton’s concerns to Rhodes but was told: ‘Jameson is all right. He will sit there for years if necessary.’ Sir Graham remembered: ‘which of course I fully believed as we all trusted Jameson. He (Rhodes) also said that in any case he thought he would keep the police at Pitsani. It was cheaper, healthier’.[34]

Was Rhodes already thinking of cancelling the plan?

Public Buildings, Johannesburg, c.1892

To add to Rhodes and Chamberlain’s worries was a problem many thousands of miles away in South America. A border dispute between the British colony of Guiana and neighbouring Venezuela had seen American President Cleveland threaten to invoke the Monroe Doctrine and, as ridiculous as this may sound to a modern reader, war between Great Britain and the USA was suddenly a real possibility. Chamberlain was thus keen to hurry along things in South Africa before any trouble erupted in South America, whereas the Reform Committee were by now dead against military action. Rhodes seems to have been somewhere in the middle, while Jameson was ready to saddle up and gallop over the border at a moment’s notice.
It was a rather confused mess.

Telegrams continued to fly between Jameson and Johannesburg throughout December. After a constant stream of messages requesting delays it seemed that the Reformers had finally found their backbones, when, on the 23rd of December, they telegraphed to Jameson: “Company will be floated next Saturday 28th. 12 o’clock at night”. Rhodes was always well aware of the power of the press, and the Times was very much in the loop – their special correspondent, Captain Francis Younghusband[35] was waiting in Johannesburg, ready to pick up the scoop. He had even been furnished with a special code to use when communicating with the newspaper.[36] Jameson must have thought that things were finally happening.

But the decisiveness of the Reformers vanished as soon as it appeared. On Christmas Day, the Uitlanders descended into another squabble over what would become of the Transvaal after the revolution. The long running argument between those who preferred a reformed republic and those who favoured British colonial rule had bubbled up yet again. The only thing that this gaggle of bickering back-biters could agree on was to delay everything until the New Year and thereafter set up some face-to-face meetings with Rhodes. Increasingly frustrated at the timid dithering of the Johannesburgers, Rhodes even asked Captain Younghusband of the Times if he would lead the revolution, but the reporter let it be known that he had no interest in so doing.[37]

To break the news of the latest delay, the conspirators called on Jameson’s brother Sam, who was in Johannesburg. On the 26th of December, he telegraphed to the Doctor: ‘Absolutely necessary to postpone flotation… you must not move until you have received instructions to’.[38]

Down in Cape Town, Rhodes seems to have begrudgingly accepted that the revolution was simply not going to happen and decided that Jameson’s force would be slowly reduced in size. He met with Sir Graham Bower on the 28th, telling him: ‘You will be glad to hear that the revolution has fizzled out like a damp squib. You can tell the Governor. He will be glad to hear of it’. Rhodes explained that ‘Younghusband… had attended a meeting of the reform committee, and had told the conspirators that Chamberlain insisted on the English flag… the Americans on the reform committee said they would have nothing more to do with the movement, and a good many of the others joined them. This was the ostensible cause of the collapse, but the real reason was they did not want to risk a fight’.[39]

Jameson, however, had no worries about risking a fight. He fired back a reply to Johannesburg saying that it was already too late, and that the parties he had already been despatched to cut various telegraph lines. The Reformers hammered back increasingly shrill telegrams, demanding that he not move. But by now the Doctor was utterly resolved to take matters into his own hands. If the men in Johannesburg lacked the courage of their convictions, he was determined to kick them into action.

In a last, desperate bid to stop Jameson, the Reformers dispatched two of his old friends to speak to him in person. Captain Harry Holden arrived on horseback, while the American, Major Maurice Heany, travelled to Mafeking by special train, then on up to Pitsani by coach. Holden’s arrival seems to have had little impact on the Doctor, while at least Heany’s prompted a splendidly Victorian exchange. After Heany had said his piece, he asked Jameson what he would do.

“I’m going”, replied the Doctor.

“Thought you would”, said Heany.

“What are you going to do?” asked Jameson.

“Going with you”, replied Heany.

“Thought you would”, remarked Jameson.[40]

Captain Holden was not to be left out, and also joined the invasion. Heany had never had any doubt that Jameson would advance on Johannesburg and had told the Reform Committee as much. Heany later stated in evidence before the enquiry that: ‘I know Dr Jameson very intimately, and I know that when he once makes up his mind to do a thing, he usually does it’.[41]

 

Dr Leander Starr Jameson

 

The delivery of Jameson’s final telegrams to Rhodes, telling him of his fateful decision, was delayed due to the weekend – which was either rather cunning of the Doctor or a simple mistake. Either way, when no reply was forthcoming, the die was cast and Jameson assembled the Rhodesian Mounted Police. With theatrical flourish, he told the troopers that the cover story of the railway was just that, and, pulling out the infamous ‘women and children’ letter (with the date filled in as the 20th of December) announced that they would instead ride to the relief of their kith and kin in Johannesburg. The news was greeted with lusty cheers and a loud rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’. Many of the Rhodesians might have been naïve teenagers – ‘green youths, raw young fellows, not trained or war-worn British soldiers’[42] – but no one could fault their courage, dash or loyalty to their magnetic leader. One of the mounted police later remarked: ‘we would have followed the Doctor to the gates of hell’.

Down at their camp outside Mafeking, the solid, no-nonsense men of the Bechuanaland Border Police were somewhat less forthcoming however. When their officers read their version of Jameson’s proclamation, a good number of the BBP refused to ride into the Transvaal on such a flimsy pretext, and asked some searching questions. Many were concerned that the invasion was not sanctioned by HM Government, and in the end only about 100 agreed to march. As many of the Rhodesian policemen up at Pitsani were very young and very green, the tough, experienced troopers of the BBP who refused to march would be sorely missed. To make matters worse, as the BBP moved out of their camp, an Inspector of the Cape Mounted Police (who was there to supervise their transfer to the BSACP) realised something was badly amiss and informed his superiors.

While the RMP and BBP had been preparing to move off, work parties had indeed been despatched to cut telegraph lines, both those to friendly forces in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and the Boer line to Pretoria. A myth was later put about by the Boers that the Rhodesians were so drunk that they cut a length of farmer’s fence rather than Kruger’s telegraph line – a completely ludicrous story. Someone so drunk as to make such a mistake would not have been able to ride a horse in the first place, but it suited the pious, holier-than-thou Boers to paint Jameson’s Raiders as a drunken, unruly rabble – rather than admit that their cause was a perfectly worthy one.

In reality, the direct telegraph line to Pretoria was indeed cut, but another line, which connected Pretoria in a roundabout way via Zeerust, was overlooked and the Boers were soon able to raise the alarm using this.[43]

But such things were of no concern to Jameson and his merry men as they moved out into the night. The invasion forces crossed into the Transvaal late on the 29th and pushed on through the night, the RMP and BBP rendezvousing at Malmani for breakfast at 0500 hours on the 30th.

Quite why the supremely level-headed Doctor acted so uncharacteristically has never been satisfactorily answered. Jameson refused to discuss his motives even with his closest friends, taking the secret to his grave and inspiring Kipling to write, ‘IF-’, his famous ode to stiff-upper-lipped stoicism. Perhaps the Doctor was moved by the Reuters report which arrived in his hands on the 28th, telling of ‘women and children leaving the Rand’ – could this have caused him to believe the uprising had indeed started? Maybe it really was just as simple as Jameson being gripped by a moment of madness – intoxicated with thoughts of ‘what Clive would have done’ and, according to one observer, drunk on ‘a mixture of Imperial idealism and swelled head’.

Others have suggested that rather than it being a moment of madness, the Doctor was actually acting on secret orders from Rhodes or even Chamberlain himself. Though Jameson took his secret to his grave, I think we can safely dismiss the idea of either Rhodes or Chamberlain ordering him into action. By all accounts, Rhodes greeted the news with horror, saying: ‘I will take the blame but I am ruined. I will resign tomorrow. But you know what this means. This means a race war’. (‘race’ at that time in South Africa meaning English or Dutch). Another witness recorded Rhodes as saying: ‘Old Jameson has upset my apple-cart… Poor old Jameson. Twenty years we have been friends and now he goes in and ruins me.’[44]

Such was the confusion and chaos that Sir Hercules Robinson briefly considered the possibility that the Colonial Office had secretly ordered the invasion be launched: ‘Perhaps Chamberlain has sent him in. He is such an extraordinary fellow it is possible that he may support Jameson’.[45] No evidence exists to support this theory, however. In fact, desperate to cover all tracks, Chamberlain instantly disowned the raiders.

Even as the BBP and RMP united at Malmani, it seems some men were having second thoughts and a few had dropped out during the night. The Boers later triumphantly claimed to have found bandoliers and rifles which these deserters had cast into the bush. As well as the mission’s dubious legality, some must have also had worries about the military planning of the expedition. Though there were about a dozen carts and 30 pack horses[46] carrying extra ammunition for the Maxims and field pieces, the raiders took precious little else. Each man carried only 120 rounds for his Lee Metford,[47] one day’s rations and a 50-pound sack of grain for his horse. There were no tents or other stores, as Jameson confidently trusted to the supply drops arranged by Rhodes’s agents along the route.[48]

Beside these depots, there was no provision for support after the start point. Even if there had been a logistical tail, Jameson’s force was not large enough to tell off-units to protect their lines of supply back to British territory. As a result, the force’s flanks were completely undefended, as was any potential line of retreat. Once they had embarked on their daring coup de main, the raiders’ only possible course of action was to push through and join hands with friendly forces in Johannesburg.

Raiders’ March

Their breakfasts having been consumed, the raiders saddled up and pushed on through the main street of Malmani just as a few early risers were getting up. Unarmed and making no effort to blend in, Jameson rode at the head of column as it clattered through the village, looking somewhat glamorous on a black stallion and wearing a long fawn coat. In their smart grey uniforms, the adventurers of the RMP also had a rather dashing appearance, their broad-brimmed ‘smasher’ hats rakishly pinned up on the left and proudly sporting a blue and white spotted puggaree[49] known as ‘guineafowl’ pattern.[50] Perhaps fittingly, the grim, professional hard-men of the BBP looked much more formal and business-like in their drab khaki uniforms.

One of the early risers of Malmani was an English cobbler who, seeing the long line of horsemen, machine-gun carriages and wagons, knew instantly what was happening. Gleefully waving his apron as the raiders trotted past, he shouted: ‘Good on ye, Lads! Good on ye!’[51]

Despite all the codes, cover stories and sabotaging of telegraph lines, rumours of Jameson riding to the support of an Uitlander uprising had begun reaching Kruger for days. A treacherous, but surprisingly well informed, Scottish Uitlander wrote to General Joubert as early as the 22nd of December, warning that: ‘The English part of the population hereabouts intend to rise on the last day of this year to try and overturn the Government. Rhodes is at the bottom of the whole business. Colonel Rhodes, his brother, is here to superintend the affair and Rhodes has a number of men on the Bechuanaland frontier ready to be sent in, also the C.M.R and Black Watch,[52] under the pretence that English are being killed. You must consider this matter as very grave …”[53]

Despite the rumours, Kruger was too cunning an old devil to react overtly however. Instead, he advised caution and, employing one of his eccentric maxims, told his advisors: ‘Wait until the time comes. Take a tortoise: if you want to kill it, you must wait until it puts out its head, and then you cut it off’.[54]

By lunchtime on the first day, Kruger was given definitive word that the Raiders had crossed into the Transvaal. The tortoise had stuck his head out, and Kruger began to marshal his forces. Rather than being scattered out on their distant farms as normal, many Boers had travelled to Pretoria and Krugersdorp to spend the Christmas period with families. As the Commandoes were mustered, they were reinforced by hundreds of these tough old country boys, many of whom were clad in their Sunday best. The Boers of the Orange Free State also rushed to the aid of their brethren, despatching a 1,600-strong Commando with 4 guns.[55]

Later, basking the warm glow of victory, Kruger was able to portray himself as having been ice-cool under pressure and always one step ahead of the Raiders. The reality was slightly different, however, and his servant later revealed that Kruger kept a getaway horse saddled throughout the crisis.[56] Rather as he did a few years later during the Boer war, Oom Paul was ready to flee at a moment’s notice, and no doubt planned on taking plenty of loot with him.[57] Tough, cunning and resolute Kruger certainly was, but he had no qualms about fleeing and leaving his people in their hour of need.

In Kimberley, where Jameson was still hugely respected, the news that he had ridden into the Transvaal was greeted with a mixture of disbelief and pride. As trainloads of refugees arrived from Johannesburg, the men of Kimberley tried to organise themselves into a volunteer unit to ride out in support the town’s favourite son. When a report prematurely claiming Jameson had surrendered was later announced as a mistake, the crowds gathered around the newspaper office went crazy, wildly singing ‘Rule Britannia’ and urging the plucky little Doctor on.[58]

During their ill-fated march, the Raiders received various messages, both from the Boers and the British colonial authorities. The first of these was from the local Boer Commandant and arrived in Jameson’s hand on the afternoon of the 30th. Jameson replied politely – if rather surreally and using a single, rather long sentence: ‘I intend proceeding with my original plans which have no hostile intention against the people of the Transvaal, but we are here in reply to an invitation from the principal residents of the Rand to assist them in their demand for justice and the ordinary rights of every citizen of a civilised state’.

Boer scouts began shadowing the Raiders but, no doubt fearful of Jameson’s Maxims and artillery, kept a respectful distance. Their presence meant, however, that Jameson’s pie-in-the-sky notion of getting through to Johannesburg without a shot being fired had been blown out of the water. The Raiders pressed on regardless throughout Monday the 30th, travelling more-or-less constantly for 24 hours. What breaks they did take were too short to allow time for men or beasts to sleep.

Meanwhile, in Johannesburg, the Reformers were in a state of utter pandemonium. Rumours had flown about that Jameson had ‘lost his head’ for a couple of days, but the first definitive word that the Raiders had actually crossed the border reached the Reformers at 1630 hours on Monday afternoon. A messenger burst into a meeting of the Reformers, carrying a telegram and declaring: ‘It is all up, boys. He has started in spite of everything!’.[59]

Ironically, Jameson’s attempt to prompt them into action actually made a successful uprising a good deal less likely. The plans for the revolution, such as they were, had relied on the Reformers seizing the Pretoria arsenal; as it was normally very lightly guarded, this was expected to be a relatively straightforward venture, but with the Boers called to arms to repel Jameson’s raiders, the arsenal’s garrison had been reinforced and it would be an infinitely tougher nut to crack. The capturing of the arsenal was critical both to deny to the Boers the weapons storied therein, but also because the Reformers had only managed to smuggle in about 2,000 rifles and three Maxim guns. The only way they could hope to arm their 20,000 supporters was to seize the arsenal’s thousands of rifles and twelve artillery pieces.

As well as adding to their military problems, Jameson’s impetuosity also torpedoed any international sympathy the Reformers had previously enjoyed. Their grievances had been genuine and their demands reasonable, but no one would remember that now.

For a few days, however, the Reformers did indeed control Johannesburg. Though no shots were ever fired, rifles were distributed and the Maxim guns dug in on commanding ground. Entrenchments were dug, earthworks thrown up and various Corps of Volunteers were mustered and drilled. Many of these were organised along national lines, with Australian, Scottish and American Corps forming for service, while a squadron of mounted infantry – Bettington’s Horse – clattered around the streets. A large iron pipe was placed in the back of a wagon, covered with a tarpaulin and driven around the town, the idea being to convince the numerous Boer spies that this was actually a formidable artillery piece.[60]

 

Johannesburg, c.1890

The Transvaal had withdrawn their police, the generally disliked ‘ZARPs’[61] from the town, so the Reformers put a tough, gritty Ulsterman called Andrew Trimble in charge of Law and Order. Trimble had been the Chief Detective of the Kimberley Police and everyone agreed that he and his men did a splendid job in Johannesburg. Indeed, had a few more of the Reformers been blessed with the resolve and courage of Andrew Trimble, the Raid might have ended rather differently.[62] For all that Jameson put them into a difficult spot, it is not easy to feel too much sympathy for the Reformers. They come across as a crowd of armchair warriors and two-pint revolutionaries who had second thoughts as soon as push came to shove – that Rhodes and Jameson each had a brother on the ground in Johannesburg during the crisis makes this even more remarkable. While the Doctor’s impatience and hot-headedness was inexcusable, the dithering and indecisiveness of the Reformers was just as much to blame for the fiasco.

With Jameson’s Raiders still advancing on the city, the Reformers shamelessly agreed to an armistice with the Transvaal – a separate peace, if you will. By hastily making various promises to address their grievances, Kruger craftily managed to divide his enemies. The Reformers, worried about their lack of rifles, the lukewarm support for their project and (most of all, it would seem) their own skins, grabbed this olive branch with alacrity.

A sort of phoney-war then followed, with the Reformers playing for time and hedging their bets. They retained control of Johannesburg and their units continued to drill and man their defences, but they gave no trouble to the Boers. It was the Vierkleur of the Transvaal, rather than the Union Flag that hung over the Reformer’s HQ[63] and there was constant, fairly amicable communication with Kruger’s government. Many Uitlanders hoped (and believed) that Jameson’s men would ride in and things might work out in their favour after all – but the Johannesburgers were going to do nothing whatsoever to assist him.

Unbeknown to the Doctor, the men who had talked and plotted rebellion for months had stabbed him in the back, then washed their hands of him and his men.

Unaware the dithering, chaos and betrayal in Johannesburg, Jameson’s men woke early on the 31st and pushed on again. Their first stop was a supply dump which was hidden on a farm belonging to a Mr Malan – who, rather amusingly, was a member of the Volksraad[64] and close friend of General Joubert. Needless to say, Mr Malan was furious at the sight of several hundred ‘Rooineks’ on his land and stormed up to the Doctor in a rage: ‘Jameson!’ he exclaimed, ‘what do you come bothering me like this for?’ The Doctor’s reply is not recorded, but one can imagine it was suitably cutting and pithy.[65]

After moving off again, Jameson’s men were soon caught up by a BBP galloper – one of those fellows who had refused to join the invasion force. The messenger had ridden through the night from Mafeking, covering 80 miles in his pursuit of the Raiders, and bore a message from Sir Hercules Robinson. Rather rudely, Jameson would not even take the communiqué from the exhausted messenger, instead telling him to report to Colonel Grey (late of the BBP). Grey in turn told the galloper to take the missive to Sir John Willoughby as he was in military command.[66]

When it was finally opened, the message was a copy of the telegram Sir Hercules had sent to his man on the ground in Mafeking: ‘There is a rumour that Dr. Jameson has entered the Transvaal with an armed force. Is this correct? If it is, send a special messenger on a fast horse, directing him to return at once. A copy of this telegram should be sent to the officers with him, and they should be told that Her Majesty’s Government repudiate their violation of the territory of a friendly State, and that they are rendering themselves liable to severe penalties’.[67]

Upon reading this, Jameson, Willoughby and the other senior officers debated their position for a full half hour. Their’s cannot have been a pleasant position to be in. Not only were they being officially and publicly disowned by one of the main architects of the plot, but as Willoughby noted in his diary: ‘behind us we knew was Joubert probably with a large force’.[68] The fact that the Boers had by then cut off their retreat was later confirmed by the galloper as he rode back to Mafeking.

Morally and legally, turning back might have been the sensible thing to do. Given that they were over halfway to Johannesburg and surrounded, militarily it was problematic to say the least. Even if Jameson and his men managed to fight their way back to British territory, they had no reason to believe the Colonial authorities would treat them any less severely than the Boers would. The only semi-honourable path left to them was to get to Johannesburg, unite with friendly forces and provoke the uprising. Besides, for all their protestations and feigned innocence, everyone could be sure that Sir Hercules and Chamberlain would quickly change their tunes if the coup was a success.

The message from Sir Hercules was thus ignored, the galloper sent back from whence he came and the Raiders pushed on. By mid-morning they had arrived at ‘Boon’s store’ where another of the secret supply caches was stashed. With admirable pluck and bristling with self-important bravado, a certain Lieutenant Saul Johannes Eloff of the Krugersdorp police rode in to Boon’s store and demanded to know what business Jameson’s men had in the Transvaal. This spirited young fellow turned out to be none other than Kruger’s grandson, but this did not stop Jameson confiscating his rifle and placing him under arrest. In the sporting fashion of the times, however, Jameson left Eloff at Boon’s store with a gentleman’s agreement that he remain there for two hours before raising the alarm.[69]

The depot at Boon’s store was not to prove to be a total success; nor, indeed, were any of the other secret supply depots. Many of the fresh horses which had been gathered at these turned out to be more suitable to farm work than cavalry duties and the Raiders generally did not bother switching mounts. When the men arrived at these supply dumps, many were too tired to eat and ignored the little food on offer. With the Raiders falling behind time, the men knew any halts would be very short and many simply collapsed on the ground for a few precious minutes of sleep before being called to move off again. Needless to say, Jameson roughed it with the rest of them.

So far, Jameson’s men had not fired a shot, nor been fired upon, since crossing into the Transvaal two days earlier. This changed just before midnight on the 31st when the forward party of the Raiders came under fire from a few hidden Boers. The Rhodesians reacted well, with the Maxims being run out and brought into action within a minute – no mean feat when caught by surprise in darkness. The rapid fire of the Maxims quickly drove the Boers off, and all in all it was a very short and ineffectual exchange with only one RMP trooper wounded.[70] The advance continued after a short delay and – for all except the poor fellow who took a bullet – it must have been a rather exciting way to see in the New Year. As Sir Winston Churchill was later to observe: ‘there is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result’.

A halt was called just after 0100 hours and, despite the attentions of a Boer sniper, the men got what rest they could. There was not too much time for sleep, though. Fearing an attack, Sir John Willoughby had his exhausted troopers woken at 0330 hours and stood-to until day-break.

As soon as the sun came up on the morning of January the 1st, 1896, the dog-tired Raiders pushed sullenly onto their next supply depot. The Rhodesians were busily stocking up on cans of bully beef when two Boers rode up. These messengers carried a formally sealed letter from the British Agent in Pretoria and this was passed to the Doctor. It was another message from the increasingly frantic Sir Hercules and this time was addressed to Jameson himself:

‘Her Majesty’s Government entirely disapprove your conduct in invading the Transvaal with an armed force. Your action has been repudiated. You are ordered to retire at once from the Country and will be held personally responsible for the consequences of your unauthorised and most improper proceeding’.

If this caused Jameson cause for worry, he hid it well and fired off a typically upbeat reply:

‘I should of course desire to obey His Excellency’s instructions but as I have a very large force of both men and horses to feed, having finished all my supplies in the rear, I must perforce proceed to Krugersdorp or Johannesburg this morning for this purpose. At the same time, I must acknowledge that I am anxious to fulfil my promise on the petition of the principal residents on the Rand to come to the aid of my fellow men in their extremity. I have molested no one and have explained it to all Dutchmen met that the above is my sole object and that I shall desire at once to return to the Protectorate’.[71]

Given the cavalier fashion with which Jameson received them, a cynic might wonder at the real reason behind the messages. Could Robinson’s seemingly panic stricken messages actually be part of an elaborate plot to paint Jameson’s Raid as the work of a lone lunatic, a sort of ‘plausible deniability’ for the British Colonial office? Though we shall probably never know for sure, the man with the most access to inside information, Sir Graham Bower, did not think so. Bower – who was no friend of Rhodes, Robinson or Chamberlain, and kept his secrets until after his death – declared that everything had looked like ending peacefully, until ‘Jameson went mad and ran amok’.[72]

Palace Buildings, c.1892

Not everyone disapproved of Jameson’s mad dash, however. Up in Pretoria, one Englishman attempted to buy a particularly succulent bunch of grapes from a fruit shop, only to be told they were not for sale. ‘You can’t have them’ the lady behind the counter stated, ‘I am keeping the best I have for Dr. Jim’.[73] The woman went on to explain that Jameson had saved her daughter’s life when she lived in Kimberley years earlier.

Unaware of the fruit that awaited their leader, the Raiders saddled up and continued their advance, making good progress over the open veldt. Approaching from the front, and to add a splendid twist of ‘Carry-On’ style campness, Jameson’s next visitors were a couple of cyclists who rode in on their bone-shakers – resplendent in flat caps, gauntlets and bicycle clips, no doubt. These fellows had been sent from Johannesburg (which was by then less than 30 miles away) with urgent messages from the Reform Committee.

No copy of these communiqués survive, but by all accounts the first message essentially advised Jameson that the best route to Johannesburg was through Krugersdrop – which turned out to be very poor advice. The other two messages were from Colonel Rhodes. One confirmed that no massacre had taken place, the uprising had not occurred, the Reformers were not in charge of the town and that they had agreed an armistice with the Boers. Rightly or wrongly, this news must have struck the Doctor like treachery of the first order and have felt like a fearsome slap in the face. When quizzed on this, the cyclists confirmed that there had been no fighting in Johannesburg, though the ZARPs had been withdrawn and the Reformers had issued arms to the Uitlanders – which must have encouraged Jameson.

The final note confused the issue still further. In this one, Colonel Rhodes seems to have suggested they would send an armed force out to meet Jameson and that the Doctor was ‘a gallant fellow’. Another of the Reformers added a post script, declaring his enthusiasm to drink the Doctor’s health when he arrived.[74]

True to form, Jameson seems to have put the best possible gloss on these rather confused messages and wrote the following reply: ‘As you may imagine, we are well pleased with your letter (presumably the third one?).We have had some fighting and hope to reach Johannesburg by tonight, but of course it will depend on the amount of fighting we have. Of course, we shall be pleased to have 200 men (was this number mentioned by Colonel Rhodes?) meet us at Krugersdorp as it will greatly encourage the men who are in great heart, although a bit tired’. This message was given to the cyclists but, as they were intercepted on their way back, never made it to the Reformers in Johannesburg.[75]

A small settlement of about 1,500 inhabitants, Krugersdorp was about 20 miles from Johannesburg and marked the western end of the gold reef which all the fuss was about. The Raiders sighted Krugersdorp in the distance at about midday on the 1st. On espying the headgear and spoil heaps of various mines, their spirits must have soared. One could forgive the exhausted horsemen for feeling as though they were finally within touching distance of Johannesburg, the Gold Reef City.

Their last supply dump was at Hind’s store, about seven miles from Krugersdorp. Once again, the supplies were a disappointment and few of the men or horses found anything to eat.[76]

Even more importantly, Jameson and Willoughby had a brief difference of opinion about which route they should take. Willoughby was all for skirting to the south of Krugersdorp; despite the letter the cyclists bore which recommended the route through the town, the messengers themselves had reported that several hundred Boers were in and around Krugersdorp. The Doctor confidently dismissed this information, however, remaining convinced that the reformers would sally forth from Johannesburg and meet them there. The amateur general thus over-ruled his military commander. It was a poor decision which Jameson later attempted to justify: ‘He (Willoughby) explained to me an objection, which I knew nothing about, of military tactics, that it was a wrong thing for him to do; but the only reason was that I insisted upon it, and he saw that it was necessary to follow the instructions in that letter from Johannesburg’.[77]

More and more Boers were spotted as the Raiders pushed on towards Krugersdorp and the 7-pdrs were called into action to drive them away. To add to their troubles, the track they were advancing up was fenced on both sides, forming a defile which would have prevented the Raiders deploying in the event of an ambush. Willoughby sensibly ordered parties forward to cut these fences down, slowing their progress. Despite these delays, the Raiders forged gamely on. On summiting a rise about three miles to the west of Krugersdorp, the ground sloped away in front of them into a shallow valley, then rose again into another ridgeline. Scouts reported that a large Boer force was strongly emplaced on this far ridge line and a halt was called.

The local Boer military commander, Commandant Cronje,[78] had placed his main blocking force brilliantly. The wily old warrior had identified that the valley and ridge formed a perfect defensive line and he ordered around three hundred Boers to take up positions on the high ground. To make matters worse for the Rhodesians, a stream ran through the bottom of the valley forming swampy meadow – a feature known to South Africans as a ‘vlei’. This boggy ground made for difficult going and would have to be negotiated by any assaulting force. The ridge occupied by the Boers not only dominated this open, marshy ground, but was scarred with old mine workings and tailing heaps, providing the hundreds of Boer marksmen with a ready-built line of entrenchments, earthworks and foxholes. The centre of their position was strengthened still further by the presence of a disused mine building. This substantial structure was quickly fortified and turned into a strong point.

As the Raiders deployed their guns and readied themselves to assault this formidable position, Sir John Willoughby sent a messenger forward under a flag of truce. For all his faults, Sir John was nothing if not a gentleman and his message for the Boer Commandant was a gallant one:

‘1st January, 1896 – To Commandant-in Chief, Krugersdorp, from OC of the friendly force en route to Johannesburg.

Sir,  I have the honour to inform you that in the event of my meeting with any hostile opposition in my advance through Krugersdorp, I shall be bound to shell the position and the town, and hereby give you due warning so that peaceable inhabitants and women and children may leave before 4 pm today’.[79]

No reply was forthcoming from the Boers, so the Raiders brought their artillery into action at 1600 hours, firing at a range of about 1,900 yards – beyond even the legendary marksmanship of the Boers. The bombardment started well when the 12½-pdr quickly put a shell straight into the fortified mine building, knocking one wall down and sending the defenders stumbling and scrambling out. Buoyed by this, the Rhodesian guns continued to flay the Cronje’s defences, flinging dozens of shrapnel shells to explode over the length of the Boer positions. Unable to answer this bombardment, the Boers had little option but to lay low, hugging the ground and waiting for the inevitable assault. One man who was not concerned about taking cover was their leader, Commandant Cronje, who sat out the shelling in a fairly exposed position. When a comrade called for him to get into shelter, Cronje – who was a devoutly religious man – waved him away, replying: ‘God has called me here to do a certain work. If God means for me to be taken, I shall be shot wherever I sit, and if He does not I am as safe here as anywhere else’.[80]

The Boers later claimed that the bombardment inflicted no casualties at all. Even allowing for the Transvaaler’s propensity to vastly under-report their casualty figures, there can be no doubt that the shelling was essentially ineffective – though this was not realised at the time. Thinking that the bombardment had shattered the Boer resolve, two BBP troops moved off to threaten their flank, while another two troops – around 100 men – of the RMP[81] mounted up to make a frontal cavalry charge on the Boer positions. As the police were essentially mounted infantry, not cavalry, they had neither swords nor lances – meaning a cavalry charge was an incredibly peculiar option. Even still, not a single man baulked at the order to perform this outrageously audacious attack.

The young Rhodesian policemen mounted up and set off at a trot, shaking out into extended line about 1,000 yards from the Boer positions. The Boers lay silent and hidden as the RMP trotted forward in good order. With the blast of a bugle and to loud cheers, the Rhodesians brought their horses up to a gallop. Even the dour Boers admitted the dashing adventurers of the RMP came on in great style, the horses’ hooves thundering across the veldt and the men cheering and whooping. As the charging horsemen splashed into the swampy ground of the vlei, just 200 yards from the Boer positions, they opened fire. The effect was incredible. The charge was immediately checked as dozens of saddles emptied in seconds. Terrified horses reared and plunged in the hailstorm of bullets. More troopers fell; some killed outright, others wounded and desperate to avoid the flying hooves of the panic-stricken horses. Some bravely returned the Boer fire, but it was a hopelessly unequal battle. The hidden marksmen mercilessly poured round after round down into the swirling confused mass of men and horses.

Those that could, made good their escape, but many of their comrades were left dead, dying or wounded in the muddy waters of the vlei. By the time the last stragglers stumbled back to their start lines, Jameson and Willoughby were faced with the realisation that the charge had lost about 60 men, killed, wounded and captured. In a campaign which was insane from start to finish, a 100-man cavalry charge against 300 Boer marksmen stands out as a truly lunatic endeavour.

Reluctantly accepting that Cronje’s position was nigh on impregnable, Jameson belatedly agreed to Willoughby’s original idea to skirt to the south of Krugersdorp. In the gathering dusk, at least Willoughby managed to extricate his force with aplomb, moving to the south of Boer defensive line before they were aware what was happening. One of the medical officers – a Dr Farmer – refused to leave the wounded unattended and remained with them to be captured by the Boers that evening.[82]

The Raiders pressed on through the gathering dusk, moving past mine workings and head gear on either side. They were so close, but yet so far. Despite the serious beating they had taken that afternoon, their morale must have soared when they pushed into the settlement of Luipaard’s Vlei and were greeted by a crowd of friendly crowd of blacks and English-speaking mine workers.[83] These fellows congratulated Jameson’s men on their brave endeavour and got them onto the direct road to Johannesburg – only 3 or 4 hours away at most. Two members of the crowd volunteered to ride with the Raiders to guide them in. With Cronje’s men wrong-footed and left well behind them, it must have felt that nothing could stop the Raiders now – perhaps Jameson’s legendary luck had not deserted him after all.

Willoughby ordered his command into their night march order and they set off for the final stretch. The Gods had not finished toying with them yet, however. Just as the Raiders moved off from Luipaard’s Vlei, the still of the night was suddenly rent asunder by hundreds of gun shots from the direction of Krugersdorp. Such was the intensity of this fusillade that the Rhodesians believed it could only mean one thing – the Reformers had finally sallied forth. One of the Raiders recorded what happened:

‘… heavy rife and Maxim fire was suddenly heard from the direction of Krugersdorp, which lay one and a half miles to the left rear. We at once concluded that this meant the arrival of reinforcements for we knew that Johannesburg had Maxims, and that the Staats-Artillerie[84] were not expected to arrive until the following morning. To leave our supposed friends in the lurch was out of the question. It was determined at once that we should move to their support’.[85]

The last, fatal mistake was thus made – but at least it was made for the right reasons. There was simply no way Jameson or Willoughby could ride on, leaving the Johannesburgers to their fate. The Raiders thus turned round and moved to engage the enemy at Krugersdorp once more. It was later discovered that the gun fire had nothing to do with a sally by the Reformers, however, but was in fact celebratory shooting as large numbers of Boer reinforcements moved into Krugersdorp. The normally dour and reserved Boers loosed off hundreds of rounds into the night sky, with their reinforcing brethren from Potchefstroom doing likewise with their machine guns.

By the time the Raiders realised their mistake, both their advantageous position and precious hours had been lost. Boers closed in on all sides in the darkness and there was little the Rhodesians could do but bivouac for the night where they were. With Boer sharp-shooters all around, no smoking or lights were permitted, except for a single lantern at the ambulance wagons. This aiming point was enough to encourage the Boers, however, and they took pot-shots into the Rhodesian position all through what must have been a very miserable night.
The Raiders were not the sort of men to sit impotently, however, and brought their 7-pdrs into action against the snipers, flinging shrapnel shells back at where they thought the marksmen were.[86] This silenced most of the snipers, but two troopers and several horses were still killed during the night and no one got any sleep. The fatalities were buried so hastily by their mates that, the next day, a foot could be seen sticking up from the shallow grave of one.[87]

After a distinctly unpleasant night, the Raiders moved off at 0530 hours. Considering what they had been through, they were still in remarkably good order – but things were beginning to unravel. Though by then just 12 miles from Johannesburg, they were dogged at every turn, moving under constant sniper fire and casualties steadily mounted. More fences had to be cut and a wagon carrying some of the wounded was captured by the Boers. Despite the sniping and for all their hunger, exhaustion and hardship, many of the men still displayed magnificent spirit. No doubt they were inspired by the example set by men like Colonel Grey of the BBP. Taking a bullet in the foot, Grey simply had it quickly bandaged, then remounted his horse and continued as if nothing had happened.

Not knowing how badly things were going, the formidable Mrs Varley (owner of Varley’s Hotel in Krugersdorp) had made ready breakfast for 600 men in anticipation of Jameson’s triumphal arrival into the town. Mrs Varley had no idea that Jameson’s men were stumbling their way forward a few miles to the south, struggling along under constant fire and that they would not be joining her for breakfast. With so many Boers in the vicinity, however, there can be little doubt that the food did not go to waste.[88]

At around 0800 hours, another messenger arrived, this time with a Boer escort. The galloper carried a formal (and very oddly written) proclamation from Sir Hercules Robinson. Once more, it was very much directed toward the Doctor:

‘Whereas it has come to my knowledge that certain British subjects, said to be under the leadership of Dr. Jameson, have violated the territory of the South African Republic and have cut telegraph wires and done various illegal acts, and whereas the South African Republic is a friendly state in amity with HM Government, and whereas it is my desire to respect the independence of the said state, now therefore I do command the said Dr. Jameson and all persons accompanying him to immediately retire from the territory of the South African Republic on pain of penalties attached to their illegal proceedings, and I do hereby call upon all British subjects in the South African Republic to abstain from giving the said Dr. Jameson any countenance or assistance in his armed violation of a friendly state’.[89]

Jameson seems to have received this message with the same casual disinterest as all the others. The Raiders pressed on, passing the mines at Randfontein where a crowd of British mine workers cheered them on. Just outside Randfontein, Trooper Bletsoe of the Rhodesian Mounted Police was killed by a sniper and the miners buried him, then later paid for a headstone to mark his grave.[90]

Despite their troubles, there was still plenty of fight left in the Raiders and Major Bodle of the RMP led his troop in a charge to scatter and rout some Boers who were gathering on their flank.

Taking advantage of this breathing space, Willoughby’s men advanced and seized a farm called Vlakfontein. The guns were deployed and began to shell the Boers on the surrounding ridges and kopjies, driving them off and allowing the Rhodesians to occupy some high ground. But this was as far as Jameson’s Raiders were to get. Their position was commanded by a small hill called Doornkop (later to give its name to Jameson’s final battle) which was strongly occupied by Boer riflemen. Other Boers began to encircle the Rhodesian position at Vlakfontein and even the most optimistic Raider must have realised the game was up. Surrounded on all sides by sharp-shooters, the machine-gunners struggled to get water to keep their Maxims cool, and they began to jam. Before long, only three out of eight remained in action. The field pieces were well served and continued to defiantly hurl shells back at the Boers right until the end, but it was all in vain.

With the Rhodesians pinned in place, Cronje was able to bring up the Krupp guns of the Staats-Artillerie to pound Vlakfontein. These came into action at under a mile and quickly found the range, lobbing shells into the midst of Jameson’s men.

Though modern writers tend to disparage the efforts and courage of the Rhodesians, the fact was that they had fought long and hard. With no support and negligible logistical back up, they had fought a running battle for 24 hours, facing impossible odds but giving as good as they got.

The end when it came, however, was embarrassingly inglorious. There was no repetition of the Shangani Patrol, no fight to the last man, no singing of ‘God Save the Queen’. Worst of all, at a time when Pax Britannica reigned supreme, the British Empire spanned the globe and Britannia ruled the waves, the white flag was actually an apron snatched from an ‘old Hottentot “tanta” who was standing somewhere at hand’.[91]

No one was even sure who first gave the order to surrender – though it certainly wasn’t Jameson. The Doctor’s trusty valet, Garlick, remembered that Jameson had dismounted to take a drink from a stream when he saw the white flag go up. He was so stunned by this that he fell to the ground and Garlick worried he had been shot.[92]

Either way, surrender was the only option by then. The defenders of Vlakfontein had already had 16 killed and many more wounded. Though they by no means fought to the last bullet, their finite stocks of ammunition would not have lasted much longer. Willoughby later justified the surrender thus:

‘Surrounded on all sides by Boers, men and horses wearied out, outnumbered by at least six to one, our friends having failed to keep their promises, and my force reduced numerically by one-fourth, I no longer considered that I was justified in sacrificing any more of the lives of the men under me’.[93]

The first party of Boers who came forward were given a message by Sir John Willoughby:

‘To the Commandant of the Transvaal Forces – we surrender, provided that you guarantee a safe conduct out of the country for every member of the force’.

As the reader can see, this was by no means an unconditional surrender. Cronje’s answer came back half an hour later:

‘I acknowledge your letter. The answer is that if you will undertake to pay the expenses which you have caused the South African Republic, and that you lay down your arms, then I shall spare the lives of you and yours.’

Cronje later reported on the surrender: ‘When… I reached the old habitation near which they were, I asked to see the officer in command, and four officers came forward. I was surprised to see how miserable and begrimed they all looked. One officer lay dying of a bullet wound…Major Willoughby in particular seemed inconsolable, and wept bitterly. Jameson himself shed no tears… I asked the officers whether they were prepared to surrender their flag and arms, upon which Jameson replied: ‘I fight under no flag. My arms I am prepared to surrender; but as I have never done so before, I don’t know how to proceed about it.’[94]

To their shame, the moment the Raiders were safely disarmed, Transvaal forces ignored the fact that the surrender had been conditional. Cronje was over-ruled by the recently arrived Commandant Malan who informed the Doctor that Cronje had no right to offer conditional surrender, and that the Boers were not prepared to offer any terms. Jameson greeted the news of this betrayal with stoicism, removing his hat with a flourish and bowing. The Doctor was to show similar courage a little later, when an irate Boer took a pot shot at him as he was taken in a wagon to Pretoria. As hundreds of Boers emerged and the Rhodesians were lead away, one vile little pipsqueak of a Commandant turned to Jameson and callously declared: ‘Your life and your officers’ lives we do not promise to spare. We shall hand you over to the Government at Pretoria and they shall decide what to do with you’.

Captain Younghusband of the Times – the man we met earlier and who refused to lead the uprising – rode out of Johannesburg to find out what was happening. He arrived in time to see Jameson and his men being lead off to captivity: ‘They looked terribly tired, but were as hard and determined a lot as could be brought together, and the bravery which they had displayed earned the unstinted admiration of the Boers’.[95]

While Jameson was rather shoddily treated, the Boers looked after the rank-and-file of the Raiders well. The wounded were tended to and all were given a hearty breakfast, then marched away to captivity. As they were ushered away some of the defeated Rhodesians cheered themselves up by singing ‘After the Ball is over’.[96]

The Boers also captured Jameson’s Maxims and artillery pieces (which were later used against the British in the Boer War) and, worse still, a bag containing various damning documents, letters which incriminated many of the most influential Reformers and (inexplicably) all the relevant code books. It was just one last school boy error to top all the others.

With the surrender of Jameson’s men, Kruger was able to turn his attention to Johannesburg. The Reformers’ brief control of the town was short-lived and the Boers rounded up sixty-four of them; four of whom – including Colonel Rhodes – were sentenced to death. These sentences would later be commuted.

With both Jameson’s men and the Reformers safely under lock and key, the Boers were able to begin spreading outlandish myths of Rhodesian drunkenness and exaggerated tales of their own military prowess. Despite fighting a 24 hour running battle, and – as we have seen – being driven back on several occasions, the Boers rather incredibly claimed they had suffered losses of only 4 men killed (one of whom they declared had been shot by accident by his mates) and another 4 wounded.[97]

Unsurprisingly, this tiny figure ran contrary to the evidence of the eyes of many Raiders. One Boer commander – who was obviously unaware of the party line – admitted to Captain Younghusband that Jameson’s artillery had done ‘great damage’ to the Boers.[98]

Situated on the edge of Soweto, Doornkop today is in danger of being swallowed up by the ever-expanding shanty townships. Doornkop itself is a fairly non-descript rocky knoll, now strewn with old beer cans and other rubbish. A large, ugly brick-works has long since been built right next to the memorial to the battle and, sadly, no effort is made to preserve this important battlefield.

 

NOTES

[1]The Commandant General, p. 125

[2]The Commandant General, p. 127

[3]The Commandant General, p. 127

[4]An African Crisis, p. 29

[5]Life of Jameson, Vol 1, p. 307

[6]Born and raised in Germany, Alfred Beit had been in partnership with Rhodes since the early days in Kimberley and became a director of De Beers and the chartered company. He was a remarkably generous man and donated extravagantly to various public works projects in southern Africa, and universities in both Great Britain and Germany.

[7]The Boer War, p. 1

[8]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 53

[9]Joseph Chamberlain—statesman or conspirator p. 16

[10]Life of Jameson, Vol 2, p. 12

[11]Joseph Chamberlain—Statesman or conspirator, p. 16

[12]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, pp. 33-34

[13]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 41

[14]Joseph Chamberlain—Statesman or conspirator, p. 28

[15]Although often portrayed by modern writers as a something of an upper class twit, Colonel Rhodes had served with distinction in the British army for 23 years, seeing plenty of action in the Sudan Campaign of 1884/5. He was awarded a DSO for his gallantry.

[16]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 70

[17]Life of Jameson, Vol 2, p. 21

[18]Scantling of Time, p. 141

[19]Life of Jameson, Vol 2, p. 21

[20]Scantling of Time, p. 141

[21]this force was actually made up of the Matabeleland Mounted Police and the Mashonaland Mounted Police, though many contemporary observers referred to the unit as a whole as the RMP – for the ease of everyone, I shall do likewise – so humble pre-emptive apologies to any pedants out there

[22]Diamonds, Gold and War, p. 326

[23]‘the Dukes’ are still in existence, based at the castle in Cape Town. They recently celebrated their 150th anniversary

[24]Life of Jameson, Vol 2, p. 35

[25]Jameson’s Raid, p. 50

[26]Diamonds, Gold and War, p. 324

[27]Diamonds, Gold and War, p. 325

[28]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 46

[29]An African Crisis, p. 63

[30]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 47

[31]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 49

[32] F.J. Newton, resident commissioner of the Bechuanaland Protectorate and one of the conspirators

[33]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 50

[34]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 52

[35]Later Colonel Sir Francis, Younghusband was a truly remarkable man. A noteworthy explorer, he was heavily involved in the espionage and intrigue which Kipling termed ‘the Great Game’, leading expeditions into the Himalayas between British India and Tsarist Russia. He later became president of the Royal Geographical Society and chairman of the Mount Everest Committee.

[36]Younghusband, p.124

[37]Younghusband, p. 127

[38]Jameson’s Raid, p. 53

[39]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, pp. 60-61

[40]Jameson’s Raid, p. 57

[41]Life of Jameson, Vol. 2, p. 49

[42]More Tramps Abroad, p. 458

[43]Jameson’s Raid, p. 59

[44]Diamonds, Gold and War, p. 337

[45]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 64

[46]The Story of an African Crisis, p. 90

[47]all the raiders had been recently reissued with Lee Metfords, in place of the venerable Martini Henrys. The .303, Lee Metford was a smaller calibre than the Martini Henry but was the first bolt action magazine rifle to see service with British forces. It was a magnificent weapon and a well-trained marksman could maintain a fearsome rate of fire with it

[48]Jameson’s Raid, p. 60

[49]Or ‘hat band’ for Americans or those not born in the 19th Century

[50]The History of the BSAP, Vol 1, p. 136

[51]Life of Jameson, Vol. 2, p. 64

[52]the Cape Mounted Riflemen (CMR) was a colonial light horse regiment raised by the Government of Cape Colony and deployed mainly on frontier duties. The dashing Highlanders of the famous Black Watch need no introduction

[53]The Commandant General, p. 139

[54]The History of the BSAP, Vol. 1, p . 137

[55]The Commandant General, p. 142

[56]Paul Kruger—His Life and Times, p .347

[57]A few years later, Kruger left behind his wife and family and fled to Europe when his invasions of Natal and the Cape Colony started going badly. The mystery of the missing Kruger millions remains unsolved.

[58]Kimberley, Turbulent City, p. 301

[59]The Transvaal From Within, p. 109

[60]Jameson’s Raid, p. 68

[61]‘Zuid Afrikaansche Republike Politie’

[62]When the raid started to go awry, Trimble, who had been a sergeant in the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons in his youth, had fruitlessly pleaded with Frank Rhodes to let him take 500 men and ride out to meet Jameson. When the raiders surrendered and the reformer’s plot unravelled, Kruger’s agents endeavoured to catch Trimble and execute him, but the plucky Ulsterman outfoxed them, arming himself to the teeth and then slipping past his would-be killers with the aid of a false beard.

[63]Jameson’s Raid, p. 38

[64]the Parliament of the Transvaal

[65]Story of an African Crisis, p. 94

[66]Story of an African Crisis, p. 96

[67]Life of Jameson, vol. 2, p. 68

[68]Life of Jameson, Vol. 2, p. 69

[69]Story of an African Crisis, p. 96

[70]Story of an African Crisis, p. 97

[71]History of the BSAP, Vol. 1, p. 141

[72]Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid, p. 48

[73]Jameson, p.67

[74]Jameson’s Raid, p. 69

[75]History of the BSAP, Vol. 1, p. 142

[76]Story of an African Crisis, p. 99

[77]Life of Jameson, Vol. 2, p. 79

[78]Cronje became better known as the Boer commander who surrendered at Paardeberg. This was a turning point in the Boer War and consigned around 4,500 Boers to British captivity.

[79]Story of an African Crisis, p. 100

[80]Story of an African Crisis, p. 117

[81]History of the BSAP, Vol. 1, p. 143

[82]Life of Jameson, Vol. 2, p. 82

[83]Life of Jameson, Vol. 2, p. 82

[84]the Transvaal’s gunners and only uniformed military force

[85]Story of an African Crisis, p. 104

[86]History of the BSAP, Vol. 1, p. 145

[87]Story of an African Crisis, p. 105

[88]Life of Jameson, Vol. 2, p. 107

[89]History of the BSAP, Vol. 1, p. 147

[90]History of the BSAP, Vol. 1, p. 147

[91]Story of an African Crisis, p. 111

[92]Life of Jameson, Vol. 2, p. 110

[93]Jameson’s Raid, p. 75

[94]The Commandant General, p. 143

[95]South African Despatches, p. 96

[96]Story of an African Crisis, p. 115

[97]A Krugersdorp memorial honours the Boers killed in the raid. Interestingly, two of which—George Jacobs and Donald McDonald—appear distinctly non-Afrikaans.

[98]South African Despatches, p. 97

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