With an introduction by General Jan Smuts. The incredible true first-person account of life in a Boer commando during the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902), written just a year after the events. The author, the son of a State President of the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State, volunteered for war service at the age of 17, and this dramatic narrative remains one of the most astonishing accounts of that conflict.
Starting with a short description of a young life as a carefree boy on the plains of his father’s republic, the author’s story quickly darkens as it describes the opening stages of the war: the Boer invasion of the British colony of Natal. There, the author provides fascinating personal details from the first great Boer victories in which he took part—including the famous Battle of Spion Kop—to the retreat and occupation of the Boer Republics by the British.
Defeated in set-battle, the Boers then resorted to “commando” tactics—the word and military operation in fact originated with them and this war—and for the next two years, harried the numerically overwhelming British forces seemingly without end.
Reitz’s book is however most significant because it provides the only firsthand account of the famous Boer raid into the British-ruled Cape Colony, led by General Jan Smuts, from 1901 to 1902. This remarkable adventure—which effectively occupied vast swathes of that region, driving the British out completely—remains one of the least-known episodes of that war, and saw Boer forces drive right to the Atlantic Ocean, some within sight of Cape Town itself.
How the Boers managed these feats, how they survived, and the extent of the British countermeasures—which included the famous blockhouse system—is all contained in this fascinating book which has lost none of its sense of adventure or excitement.
This new edition is illustrated with 31 rare images from the time, and contains 109 new footnotes, explaining terms, issues, and events for the present-day reader, in addition to the 5 original footnotes added by the author. It also contains new short biographies of both the preface writer and the author.
List of Illustrations
About the Preface Writer
Chapter I : “Mem’ry’s Tower”
Chapter II : On the Brink
Chapter III : To the Frontier
Chapter IV : We Invade Natal
Chapter V : A Battle
Chapter VI : Ups and Downs
Chapter VII : An Affair at Surprise Hill
Chapter VIII : A Visit to the Tugela Line—Tragedy of the Red Fort
Chapter IX : The Battle of Spion Kop
Chapter X : The Rest of Our Corporalship is Destroyed
Chapter XI : A Campaign in the Free State
Chapter XII : The British Invade the Transvaal
Chapter XIII : Farther Afield
Chapter XIV : New Conditions
Chapter XV : A Successful Affair, and After
Chapter XVI : From West to East
Chapter XVII : End of the ‘A.C.C.’— I Start for the Cape Colony
Chapter XVIII : The Next Stage
Chapter XIX : Farther South
Chapter XX : We Go into the Cape Colony and Meet with a Warm Reception
Chapter XXI : Horses and Men
Chapter XXII : Moss-Trooping
Chapter XXIII : A Long Trail
Chapter XXIV : Calmer Waters
Chapter XXV : The Last Phase
Chapter XXVI : The Lost Cause
About the Author