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The Victorian Soldier in Africa$
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Edward M. Spiers

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780719061219

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719061219.001.0001

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Battling the Boers

Battling the Boers

(p.59) Chapter Three Battling the Boers
The Victorian Soldier in Africa

Edward M. Spiers

Manchester University Press

Sir Garnet Wolseley utilized his powers as both high commissioner in southeastern Africa and governor of Natal and the Transvaal to attack Chelmsford as GOC, South Africa. He sought to impose a settlement upon both Zululand and the neighboring Transvaal. He resolved that Zululand should be ruled by thirteen minor chiefs. He then moved into the Transvaal to restore British prestige by overthrowing Sekhukhune, whom the Boers had failed to defeat in 1876. He assembled a formidable composite force, comprising the 2/21st and the 94th with two companies of the 80th, four guns, and a party of Royal Engineers with explosives to attack Sekhukhune. The sappers were ‘employed from dawn till dark’, cutting pathways, preparing drifts for ox-driven wagons, and organizing the construction of forts. The British forces in the Transvaal were reduced when Wolseley departed, and were cut again under Sir George Pomeroy Colley, Asante veteran, who replaced Wolseley, until he had only 1,800 men, with no cavalry and only four guns. The soldiers were also widely dispersed in six isolated posts.

Keywords:   Royal Engineers, ox-driven wagons, siege warfare, British soldiers, Sir Garnet Wolseley, Sekhukhune

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