Quora provided me some amusement a couple of months back, when an entertainingly deluded lady posted this utter nonsense:
Anyway, I pointed out all her mistakes, and we swapped a few messages in which she made herself look increasingly ridiculous, then she threw a little fit and disappeared. Needless to say, this is standard operating procedure for Defenders of the Myth as soon as their made-up, self-serving nonsense is challenged, so I thought nothing more of it… until recently, when another True Believer popped up on the thread:
So according to this chap, the nonsense she spewed out is ‘correct in her version’. Always keen to be amused by these people, I asked him to explain how she can possibly be correct in her claims about the war ending in 1901, the discovery of diamonds in the Transvaal being a major factor in the war etc:
So far, this was just the normal rubbish that True Believers spout, and he hasn’t – as yet – popped back up to present his evidence about the war ending in 1901.
However, at about the same time as his posted that comment, he also posted this, at a different point in the discussion thread:
To which I replied:
Alas, he hasn’t responded to this either, but his claim that one can have a ‘pro-South African outlook’ on the Boer War was intriguing, and serves to show just how little he (and others like him) know about the conflict. What a lot of these True Believer types don’t seem to realise is that the Boer War was fought before the nation of South Africa existed, and, more to the point, was fought because two of the territories which later united to form South Africa, invaded the other two.
Claiming to have a ‘pro-South African outlook’ on the Boer War is therefore every bit as far-fetched as claiming to have a ’pro-Korean outlook’ on the Korean War – how could such a thing be possible, when Koreans fought and killed Koreans? Similarly, tens of thousands of ‘South Africans’ fought and killed other ‘South Africans’ in the Boer War, and all because one group of ‘South Africans’ – Kruger’s Boers – invaded other parts of ‘South Africa’, and felt they had some sort of Divine Right to dominate all the other groups.
For example, how would someone with a ‘pro-South African outlook’ on the Boer War view the fact that, knowing a Boer invasion was just days away, the Natal Government ignored an Imperial instruction not to raise additional local units and, on 3 October 1899, gave an order for a corps of Natal Native Scouts to be formed? The officer in charge of recruiting the new unit, Robert Samuelson of the Natal Carbineers, immediately rode out to meet Chief Khumalo, a man of over 100 years old who lived about twenty miles to the north of Ladysmith.[i] The old chief agreed to help, and addressed his tribesmen the following day:
‘My children this is the day of days; an impudent foe, the Boers, are preparing to fight against Her Majesty the Queen, our sovereign and mother, who has for so many years spread her wings over us to protect us, and who is minded to continue spreading her wings like an angel over us till they touch the earth; That Queen requires your services, go and serve her till death.’
So would someone with a ‘pro-South African outlook’ admire Chief Khumalo, and his determination to stand up to an invasion from a foreign power? Or would their sympathies be for the Boers who were poised on the border, about the invade Natal? It obviously cannot be both.
Similarly, how would someone with a ‘pro-South African outlook’ view the ‘South African’ black scouts who loyally served with Imperial intelligence officers like Woolls-Sampson during the guerrilla war? These men played a major part in breaking the back of Boer resistance, and their bravery was remarkable, for their duties naturally saw them roaming far from Imperial troops, and they faced certain (and probably rather unpleasant) death if caught by the bittereinders. Woolls-Sampson in particular was:
‘…unceasing in his efforts to ensure their safety and win their confidence while they in turn gave him their absolute loyalty. When the scouts returned from their night-time sorties, Aubrey [Woolls-Sampson] would spend hours talking to them, encouraging, cross-questioning, and checking all they had told him.’[ii]
So presumably someone with a ‘pro-South African outlook’ on the conflict must admire these men for their loyalty and bravery in hunting down the gangs of terrorists who were targeting South African civilians, farms and businesses?
Even the notion that the war was fought between ‘Boers and Brits’ is a gross simplification of the conflict, but some especially ill-informed South Africans (and one can reasonably assume this fellow is one of them) even pretend it was fought between Great Britain and South Africa. In truth, however, it was far more complex than this and, as Frank Welsh rightly states:
‘Nor, again, was it a war between two colonies and two republics. A worrying number of Cape Dutch joined or assisted the commandos, while a majority of the urban Transvaalers fled to Natal and the Cape.’[iii]
These Transvaal refugees formed famous uitlander regiments like the Imperial Light Horse and Imperial Light Infantry, and were by no means all English-speakers. Equally, Natal provided enthusiastic Imperial troops out of all proportion to the paltry size of its white population: even very early in the war, the Bishop of Natal reckoned that a third of white adult males were under arms.[iv]
Even though South Africa did not officially exist as a nation until 1910, the Boer War could more accurately be described as the South African civil war. Ben Viljoen of the Johannesburg Commando, for example, described the ‘South Africans’ of the Imperial Light Horse as ‘a corps principally composed of Johannesburgers, who were politically and racially our bitter enemies’.[v] This was no exaggeration: many of the most aggressive and effective Imperial units were raised from South African loyalists to whom it was an intensely personal conflict, a ‘war to the knife’.[vi] These men had suffered at the hands of Kruger’s regime, or had been burned out of house and home by the invading republicans; to them the conflict was a fight for their very way of life. Like the dashing troopers of the Imperial Light Horse, the various units raised from Natalians were also renowned for their fighting spirit and desire to wreak revenge on the invaders, and they quickly earned a reputation for being keen ‘to fight the Boers on every conceivable occasion’.[vii] To the veteran Tommies, on the other hand, it was just another war; they had no reason to hate the Boers any more than they had to hate the Afghans, Boxers, Aros, or Fuzzie-Wuzzies.
When a patrol of the Cape Police was ambushed near Hoopstad on 24 October 1900, the Boers treated their fellow ‘South Africans’ very differently to the Britons of the Imperial Yeomanry who rode to reinforce the police. The allegedly pious bittereinders would not permit the colonials to bury their dead, but extended that courtesy to the Yeomen. When the town of Jacobsdal (near Kimberley) was attacked early in the morning the following day, the garrison was made up of men from the locally raised Cape Town Highlanders.[viii] In a hard-fought defence, the Highlanders lost 14 killed and 16 wounded, some of whom were shot by disloyal townsfolk who had allowed Boers to slip into their houses during the night. The garrison of just 60 was reinforced by other ‘South Africans’ in the form of a small party of Cape Police and other Cape Town Highlanders—perhaps 50 in number—which was enough to drive off the 300-strong attacking force. The houses of the treacherous townsfolk were burned down as a punishment and large stores of ammunition were uncovered in three of the dwellings.
It was a war that split families and caused recriminations for generations, with the allegiances of many districts and towns divided between loyalists and republicans. While several villages on the borders of the Cape Colony gave their allegiance to the Boer invaders almost immediately, driving loyalists out at gunpoint, others remained steadfastly faithful to the Empire. When an Imperial cavalry force made up mainly of Canadians and Queenslanders reached the town of Douglas, for example, ‘nothing was to be seen but Union Jacks and red ensigns … never was there a more enthusiastic demonstration’. Alas, the cavalry had no choice but to evacuate the town as it was not strong enough to hold it. The townspeople were thus moved to the safety of British-held Belmont.[ix] Similarly, half of the 400 women and children who lived in the ‘women’s laager’ which was established on the edge of Mafeking—and which was regularly shelled by the republican guns throughout the Siege—were from loyalist ‘Dutch’ (i.e. Afrikaans) families.[x]
Though not deemed worthy of attention in most histories of the conflict, bittereinder gangs indulged in their own version of ‘scorched earth’ during the guerrilla war, waging a pitiless terrorist campaign against their ‘fellow South Africans’, and regularly targeting farms belonging to loyalists, surrendered Boers, and non-whites. One such victim was a Mr Herrholdt who, along with his wife, was turned out of his house at gunpoint. The bandits then stole whatever they fancied and burned the house to the ground.[xi] As they pillaged their merry way across the colony, one local observer wrote:
‘…the bandit forces of Boers and Colonial rebels are scouring the country in every direction, robbing, looting and house burning—brutally assaulting defenceless Colonists, and plying the sjambok wherever their demands are not immediately complied with … in the face of such cruel outrages it is little wonder that the inhabitants of the numerous dorps and villages scattered over the present area of operations are bitterly complaining of the incapacity of the military to safeguard their interests.’[xii]
Perhaps not surprisingly given the outlook of Kruger and his followers, black and coloured ‘South Africans’ could expect especially savage treatment from the bittereinders. When Commandant Fouché and the Rouxville Commando attacked the African settlements at Molteno, the unfortunate residents were flogged, huts were burned down, and crops destroyed.[xiii] In other districts ‘where guerrillas were unable to consolidate control or scare the populace into docility, commandants tended simply to rampage onwards, spreading havoc. In some areas, the fabric of peasant communities was shredded as Boers razed crops, plundered stock and sacked homesteads. Not only were poultry and agricultural produce snatched as food and pigs and goats slaughtered on the spot to provide meat, but entire flocks and herds were liable to be scattered, driven off or wantonly butchered’.[xiv]
Elsewhere, the bittereinders robbed entire settlements of their able-bodied men and boys, driving them off as slave labour. When Boer gangs approached Wupperthal, Genadendal, Elim, Tulbagh, and Riversdale, the village men-folk (ie. their ‘fellow South Africans’) fled into the hills until the coast was clear. In other villages, headmen were whipped for resisting the bittereinders’ conscription gangs. Others were shot, dwellings were burned down, and women and children were taken hostage to force communities to offer up slave labour.[xv]
Rural violence became endemic in the western Cape as bands of guerrillas and rebels roamed the countryside, seizing produce and livestock from natives—either for their own use or for redistribution to local Afrikaner farmers.[xvi] ‘These were roaming, thieving bands of rebels, grouped roughly under Conroy, Van Zyl, and Jan Louw, parties with no aim but looting.’[xvii] There was no discernible military objective behind this: it was pure banditry. Mission stations were a particularly favoured target for the bittereinders and many were brutally attacked. When the Reverend C. Schröder returned to his Gordonia congregation after the war, he was horrified to find that most of his flock had been killed by Boer raiders.
Another example of this butchery occurred in July 1901 when Veldkornet Dirk Brits murdered 29 blacks—men, women and children—at Dordrecht. Brits declared these poor devils were ‘in league with the British’ and, when he cruelly turned their bodies over to their families, the rest of the settlement bolted for the hills.[xviii]
A bittereinder attack on the Methodist mission station at Leliefontein in Namaqualand was especially savage. The indiscriminate violence with which it had been razed and plundered by guerrillas and local rebels even shocked the young Deneys Reitz:
‘We found the place sacked and gutted, and, among the rocks beyond the burning houses, lay twenty or thirty dead Hottentots … Maritz had wiped out the settlement, which seemed to many of us a ruthless and unjustifiable act … we lived in an atmosphere of rotting corpses for some days.’[xix]
Those who managed to escape the slaughter were callously hunted down by parties of Boers, with any unfortunate enough to be captured brought back to work as slave labourers. Indeed, they were even shackled in irons forged at the mission station’s smithy.[xx]
And the Leliefontein massacre is not even the worst example of the ‘noble’ bittereinders indulging in the mass murder of their ‘fellow South Africans’; when Jan Smuts’ commando fell on the native village at Modderfontein, for example, his men butchered the 200 or so black inhabitants[xxi] and left their bodies strewn around, unburied.
In August 1901 a detachment of African auxiliaries in Imperial service was defeated near the village of the Shangane chief, Mpisana. The fifty blacks who were taken prisoner were all subsequently murdered by General Viljoen’s men.[xxii] In other incidents, forty native auxiliaries captured near Queenstown were lined up and shot in November 1900, thirty-seven unarmed scouts were murdered near de Aar in August 1901, and the following month, sixteen black dispatch riders attached to the 17th Lancers were killed in a variety of horrific ways, including disembowelment and mutilation.[xxiii] It is remarkable that this ugly aspect of the war is not better known, as the bittereinders’ mass-murder of ‘South African’ blacks is far from being a recent discovery; writing well over a century ago, Conan-Doyle described how:
‘…a small party of twenty-one Imperial Yeomanry was captured, after a gallant resistance, by a large force of Boers at the Doorn River on the other side of the [Cape] Colony. The Kaffir scouts of the British were shot dead in cold blood by their captors after the action. There seems to be no possible excuse for the repeated murders of coloured men by the Boers, as they had themselves from the beginning of the war used their Kaffirs for every purpose short of actually fighting.’[xxiv]
The veteran war correspondent, Bennet Burleigh also wrote about the Boers’ penchant for off-the-cuff brutality against fellow ‘South Africans’ (who happened to be black), describing them has having a ‘notorious and almost innate habit of terrorizing, beating, and even killing without mercy, any native who may have happened to have aroused his suspicions or incurred his ire’.[xxv]
And, as we saw a moment ago, it wasn’t just those black ‘South Africans’ who actively served the Empire in some way who could expect to be butchered. One of the leading missionaries in the Transvaal, Canon Farmer, wrote of the murderous terror inflicted on the natives of that area by the bittereinders. The blacks welcomed the security of the British columns but when the Tommies were not around to protect them, they faced a stark choice between abandoning their livestock and fleeing to British-held towns, or being killed.[xxvi]
The missionary concluded that the Boers ‘look upon the Kaffirs as dogs & the killing of them as hardly a crime’.
In addition to this casual mass-murder, rural non-whites could expect the bittereinders to descend on their settlements and commandeer anything they fancied. Upon being ordered by raiders to pay tribute, one plucky native police constable in Barkly East replied, ‘Kruger is not baas here and I am not going to pay him a penny, he can do what he wish I am a Government man and not yours, and I am under the English Government, not him. I am sick of these Boers with their nuisance towards me.’[xxvii]
Coloured ‘South African’ civilians also suffered, the most famous such incident perhaps being the torture and murder of a blacksmith called Abraham Esau, who lived in the small town of Calvinia in Namaqualand. As the guerrilla war spluttered on, there were ongoing Boer raids in the area, and demands for tribute, whippings, looting, and even exemplary executions were common.[xxviii]
A staunch loyalist, Esau was blessed with formidable leadership skills and became a prominent figure in his small town, rallying and organizing a militia to resist these incursions. His patriotism and bravery brought him to the attention of the raiding Free State bittereinders and local rebels / bandits, and he quickly became a marked man.
When a commando fell on Calvinia on 7 January 1901[xxix] Esau was one of those sought out amidst the wholesale plunder of the town. The Boer raiding party (which grew to 600 strong) occupied Calvinia and terrorized the local (ie. ‘South African’) population for some weeks while local rebels took the chance to settle old scores—real and imagined—with the coloured community.
During this period Esau was beaten, bludgeoned, and lashed. Incredibly, this astonishing man endured this torture until 5 February when he was shackled in irons, dragged for five miles behind a pair of horses, and, after a final beating, shot dead.[xxx] The following day the raiders fled Calvinia as an Imperial relief column approached. What, one wonders, would someone with a ‘pro-South African outlook’ on the Boer War make of the torture and murder of the courageous Mr Esau?
And what is worse, is that these examples of savage killings of ‘fellow South Africans’ were not just occasional excess by the rank and file; they were official—or, at least, semi-official—policy. On being captured, one particularly brutal commandant testified:
‘General Smuts personally gave me orders to shoot all unarmed natives who might be working for the British who should fall into my path.’[xxxi]
Likewise, in July 1901, bittereinder General Kritzinger issued a proclamation ordering that all blacks captured in the service of the British, whether armed or not, should be summarily executed. During November a further proclamation was issued, ordering that any black or coloured persons betraying the whereabouts of Boer commandos to the British should be executed when caught.[xxxii]
Instead of ‘Britain vs South Africa’, or even ‘Boers vs Brits’, therefore, it is much more accurate to consider the belligerents as ‘republicans and loyalists’. Of course it suited post-war, Afrikaans-dominated governments (and those today who still yearn for such a regime) to present the enemy as the wicked British, rather than to admit that ‘South Africans’ had fought on both sides, and, indeed, that the loyalist forces had even included many thousands of Afrikaners.
What little attention is paid to this tends to focus on Piet de Wet and those thousands of Afrikaans ‘traitors’ who switched allegiance and left the commandos to become National Scouts and Orange River Colony Volunteers. However, there were also many thousands of other Afrikaners who fought for the Imperial cause. The South African Light Horse, for example, was formed in the Cape at the start of the war and was ‘composed mainly of South Africans—including not a few loyal Afrikanders. The Stellenbosch Mounted Infantry, which had not been called out because the district was regarded as disloyal in sentiment, joined it en masse—but with a free sprinkling of other colonials, Texan cowboys and British yeomen’.[xxxiii] Brabant’s Horse was described by a yeoman who served in a flying column with them as being made up of ‘adventurers drawn from every corner of the globe—Poles, Jews, Texan cowboys, Mexicans, Norwegians, and Swedes, and of course many Dutch’.[xxxiv] Describing the unit earlier in the war, Pakenham went even further, declaring the troopers of Brabant’s Horse to be ‘mostly Afrikaners’[xxxv] while Leo Amery reckoned it was made up ‘chiefly of Eastern Province farmers’[xxxvi].
Giving evidence at the 1903 Royal Commission into the war, Rimington—who had arrived in South Africa in 1899 on special service, raised the ‘Rimington’s Tigers’, and finished the conflict as a brigadier—described the men he had recruited into his unit immediately prior to, and at the very outset of the war:
‘I also made arrangements as soon as I thought there was any likelihood of war coming to get some of the best men I know in the Free State to come over the border [into the Cape Colony] as soon as the war was declared, and I also made arrangements with various people on the borders of the Cape Colony to join—men who would be useful on the border; and at the moment that War was absolutely declared I had these men—they came over, and some rode 70 or 80 miles or more, left their commandos and joined me.’
When asked if these men were Free State burghers, Rimington confirmed that many were, and, furthermore:
‘…some were Dutchmen. One of the best I had was a Dutchman… [others] were Englishmen who did not want to join the Boers, good fellows [who had] settled in the country and in many cases their mothers were Dutch and their fathers English. One of them agreed to stay with the Boers during the war till it was absolutely necessary for him to come over to us when it got too hot for him. He came over and gave us very good information.’[xxxvii]
As the war rumbled on, others joined British or colonial units in ones and twos, often serving as guides and scouts. As Colonel Allenby recorded:
‘Where there is one Boer now, there were 100 then; and their spirit is much tamer. My three guides were fighting me in those days. They are such good, charming fellows.’[xxxviii]
Captain Miller of the Gordon Highlanders wrote home to say:
‘The Boers are funny fellows. We caught one the other day who immediately offered to be a guide, and took part the day after in a night march, and brought in one of his pals, as pleased as Punch—and this is a common thing. Immediately they are caught they are all anxious (I have seen few exceptions) to serve against their own people.’[xxxix]
Indeed, so many of the able-bodied males housed at Winburg concentration camp volunteered to join Bergh’s Scouts, that this put a strain on the running of the camp. The Winburg superintendent even complained to the military authorities about this, but received little sympathy.
It is very difficult to confirm just how many Afrikaners ultimately fought for the Imperial cause, and inter-marrying makes it problematic to define who was an Afrikaner and who was not. Few Afrikaners were keen to advertise their Imperial service after the war, but there are many Afrikaans names in the lists of those who served with various town guards and the district mounted troops raised in various locations.
The small Barkly West town guard, for example, included five du Toits, a Marais, two Nels, three Steyns, three Strausses, and a van Niekerk.[xl] Potchefstroom’s part-time defenders included two Bekkers, a Potgieter, a Schoeman, two Sternbergs, and a van Niekerk,[xli] and the Tarkastad town guard included two de Klerks, a de Villiers, four Kloppers, a Muller, a Nel, two Schmidts, two Schroders, three Swartzes and two Venters.[xlii] The Zeerust town guard was placed under the command of Heinrich Dietrich, a German immigrant who had become a burgher of the Transvaal long before the war, but who supported the British over Kruger. His small unit included a Marais, two Potgieters, a Pretorius, a Scheepers, two Slabberts, two Taljaars, a Theunissen, two van der Lindes, a van der Spuy, and a Wilsenach.[xliii] The tiny Hay district mounted troop included a Badenhorst, a Groenewald, a Joubert, a Scherman, a van der Merwe, a van der Westhayzen, a van Heerden, and a van Zyl.[xliv] And these are by no means the exception: other town guard and district mounted troop lists show names like Buitendag, Cronje, Lombard, Konig, Oosterlaak, Rensberg, Rudolf, van Wijk, Erasmus, Baaitjes, Beguidenhout, Bezuidenhout, Brandt, Coetzee, Conradie, de Vos, du Preez, Joubert, Kock, Jansen, Meintjes, Pieterse, Plaaitjes, Theron, van de Burgh, and van Heerden.
Though much is made of those rebels who joined Smuts’ raid into the Cape, less attention is paid to those who volunteered to join the Imperial units raised in the conquered republics. As well as those raised later in the war from ‘joiners’, whole new colonial regiments were formed from white residents: the Rand Rifles, for example, was formed in late 1900, and the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles in January 1901.[xlv] The supposedly exotic nature of recruits in the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles—JMR—quickly earned the regiment the nickname ‘Jews: Mostly Russian’ from the Tommies.
With so many tens of thousands of ‘South Africans’ – of all races, religions and linguistic groups – fighting against Kruger’s Boers, it is farcical to claim that being sympathetic towards the Kruger regime equals having a ‘pro-South African outlook’ on the conflict. How, for example, would someone with such an outlook view the Siege of Wepener, an action in which the ‘British’ forces were actually overwhelmingly comprised of local, ‘South African’ units[xlvi]?
So, given all the above, how on earth would a ‘pro-South African’ view on the conflict manifest itself? Kruger’s invading Boers had zero affinity to their ‘fellow South Africans’ if they had a different religion, spoke a different language, or – worst of all – if they were of a different race, and shot the latter down as though they were dogs. It is therefore ridiculous, insulting indeed, to pretend that Kruger, his invasion forces, and the lawless gangs of terrorists, murderers and banditos of the guerrilla war, in anyway represent ‘South Africa’.
Ignoring historical reality, and tying oneself in knots to justify their racist massacres, looting, plunder and penchant for slavery, does not in any way equate to having a ‘pro-South African outlook’ on the Boer War. Rather, it seems more closely to equate to a wistful regret that men like Kruger and his minions aren’t still in a position to dominate the country, and Lord it over their ‘fellow South Africans’ as some sort of self-appointed Master Race.
[i] Rethman, Friends and Enemies, p. 70
[ii] Rethman, Friends and Enemies, p. 282
[iii] Welsh, p. 321
[iv] Baynes, p. 79
[v] Viljoen, p. 15
[vi] Colvin, Vol. 2, p. 12
[vii] Burleigh, p. 46
[viii] The Cape Town Highlanders was formed in 1885 as volunteer regiment. These part-time soldiers were mobilized for service in the Boer War, primarily employed in defending the Cape Town to Kimberley railway and doing other garrison duties. The regiment still exists as a reserve mechanized infantry unit of the South African army today, though was recently (and pointlessly) re-named The Gonnema Regiment. Unsurprisingly, one of the many Battle Honours of the regiment is ‘South Africa 1899-1902’
[ix] Creswicke, Vol. 3, p. 66
[x] Aitken, Baden-Powell, The Hero of Mafeking, p. 106
[xi] Wilson, p. 77
[xii] Ibid, p. 76
[xiii] Nasson, Abraham Esau’s War, p. 101
[xiv] Ibid, p. 105
[xv] Ibid, p. 105
[xvi] Warwick, p. 121
[xvii] Maurice & Grant, Vol. 4, p. 468
[xviii] Nasson, Abraham Esau’s War, p. 106
[xix] Warwick, p. 122
[xx] Nasson, Abraham Esau’s War, p. 112
[xxi] Pakenham, p. 573
[xxii] Warwick, p. 101
[xxiii] Nasson, Abraham Esau’s War, p. 103
[xxiv] Conan-Doyle, p. 648
[xxv] Burleigh, p. 62
[xxvi] Pakenham, p. 573
[xxvii] Nasson, Abraham Esau’s War, p. 118
[xxviii] Nasson, Abraham Esau’s War, p. 122
[xxix] Ibid, p. 128
[xxx] Ibid, p. 131
[xxxi] Ibid, p. 107
[xxxii] Warwick, p. 121
[xxxiii] Amery, Vol. 3, p. 94
[xxxiv] Gilbert, Rhodesia & After, p. 161
[xxxv] Pakenham, p. 395
[xxxvi] Amery, Vol. 2, p. 289
[xxxvii] Minutes Before the Royal Commission on the War in South Africa, Vol.2, p. 26
[xxxviii] Gardner, Allenby, p. 53
[xxxix] Miller, M. A Captain of the Gordons, p. 127
[xl] WO 100/280
[xli] WO 100/284
[xlii] WO 100/285
[xliii] WO 100/286
[xliv] WO 100/281
[xlv] Hall, p. 87
[xlvi] The only British army troops at Wepener were a small party of sappers, and a single company of the Royal Scots MI. By far the majority of the 1,800 strong Imperial force defending the position were ‘South Africans’, and included elements from the 1st and 2nd Brabant’s Horse, the Cape Mounted Rifles, Driscoll’s Scouts, and the Kaffrarian Rifles.