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7th August 2005Recommendation for 2nd Anglo-Boer War Study
By Steven Sass

Yes slightly off topic and probably covered before but probably worth revisiting---would anyone be so kind as to offer advice on a relatively up-to-date, fairly evenhanded and comprehensive study of the second Anglo-Boer War? In my studies of the Anglo-Zulu War I often find myself bumping into names, places, battles, etc., that are connected with the second ABW. Unfortunately I readily admit my knowledge of that conflict is on par with a good example of an Osprey title (no disrespect intended here--if I knew absolutely nothing about a particular battle, war, etc., and had to debate it the next day, the first resource I would reach for would be the appropriate Osprey title. Between their comprehensive organization, maps and other assorted goodies, I reckon I could convince the other party I actually have in-depth knowledge of the topic in question). However I had hoped to discover a slightly more in depth and comprehensive source, (i.e., something akin to "Brave Men's Blood") that would allow me to invest a week or two in study and be upon my merry way. Of course this may not be the proper method to go about things but one only has so much time and that must be spent mostly on my first love, the Anglo-Zulu War.

I would appreciate any suggestions and do not require the credentials or academic attributes from those offering an opinion.

Thank you in advance.


7th August 2005Michael Boyle

Though not new, Michael Barthorp's "The Anglo-Boer Wars" may help fit the bill and Byron Farwell's "Queen Victoria's Little Wars" can help connect the dots with many of the era's prominent officers.


7th August 2005Mike McCabe
Try Martin Marix Evans The Boer War : South Africa 1899-1902
It will provide you with a very readable, perceptive and well illustrtated overview, with lively analysis of the main events.
Pakenham is a bit florid and 'sweeping'. Goobye Dolly Gray still stands up resasonably well. Few public libraries bother with this war now - even in Reference sections.
7th August 2005Clive Dickens
You cannot get any better than books by John Laband his books are the most accurate he has studied South African conflicts both Zulu and Boer war and I myself find them very good.
10th August 2005Rich
With another thread which discussed "war crimes" in my mind, I wanted to ask if there is anything available I could get my hands on regarding "Breaker" Morant of the Bushveldt Carbineers. I have the film but I'd like something more in terms of getting into the historical details. Morant, as we know, said he was 'following orders" when unarmed Boer prisoners were shot.
10th August 2005Michael Boyle
Try this :

And for his poetry :


11th August 2005Steven Sass

Just a brief aside--in the October issue of 'Military Heritage' magazine there is a decent article on Spion Kop by Herman T. Voelkner. What may interest you is the somewhat thought provoking editorial by editor Ray Morris Jr., that does evoke some soul searching on the Breaker Morant case. Their site is and they appear to be running a promotion in which one can obtain a free trial issue. However, it seems as if they haven't yet begun to deal with the October issue on the site as of yet. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to contact them and ask if your trial issue could be the one from October.

Just a thought,


P.S. The August issue has an article by Peter Suciu on the Martini-Henry, which one can read an excerpt from said article on the website. However from an editorial standpoint, I found a rather tired attempt questioning the fitness of Chard and Bromhead to have received VC's, mostly based on the well known and well hashed remarks of Lord Wolseley, which to my great chagrin, always seem to be seen in the light of gospel-like definitive measures of their character. Said method of argument usually is presented in the form of this being new information that is meant to dispel the old myths and to give all credit to Dalton. Look, I've seen the movie 'Zulu' and that guy seemed pretty foppish to me! (Now who can't figure out that this is a bit of tom foolery?) "There, there, now don't distress my fine fellow, there's your own officer over there, go and speak to him."
11th August 2005Rich
Thanks Steve, Mike.....
That piece in MH, in fact, was what stirred my interest. I wasn't aware Morant wrote poetry Mike. Certainly another side to the man who has been described as a ruthless killer in the Boer War. I know his grave has been desecrated so controversy must still rage. Would be interesting to see the court-martial documents if they exist. If they haven't maybe they'll turn up shortly like Durnford's orders..;-)....Between the things happening to Chard et al and Morant, I'd wonder deep down who Britain thought was the most vicious adversary, the Zulus or the Boers.

On another note , recently there's been a new "leisurely" pursuit here called "cage fighting". Here two fighters fight in a caged environment and really anything goes. You want to take the eyes out of your opponent's head? Fine go ahead. You want to pop him in the mouth so his teeth fall out. Fine go ahead.
We've got a no-holds barred environment.
In the 19th, Wellington said something like Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton with its precise mores and culture. Maybe we're going in another direction in the 21st?
11th August 2005Michael Boyle
Well we all three get "Military Heritage". I also found the disparaging comments aimed at Chard and Bromhead infuriating, seemingly based on Wolosley's comments and certain recent books. I'm trying to come up with a letter to the editor to refute the allegation but I can't come up with a good source to cite in their defence. (Other than this website and I'd be loath to 'unleash hell' here by attracting the entire readership of a US casual history mag to drop in!) Does anyone know of any articles or papers that specifically come to their defence? (I'm no where near ready to attempt one on my own yet.)
12th August 2005Alan Critchley
an overall picture of the 2nd. ABW might be found on the following:

14th August 2005Steven Sass
Thanks all, for the suggestions and discussion!


15th August 2005Steven Sass
Sorry all, one other point I wished to direct toward Michael.

Unfortunately you may have to wait a few months or more but from what I've heard Ian Knight's new book regarding Rorke's Drift has quite a buzz about it and may include precisely the short chambered Boxer-Henry .45 calibre ammunition you require. I had seen in another post by Andrew Holliday that Ian has an article in the August Issue of 'Military Illustrated' arguing why John Chard deserved to have won the VC. Unfortunately in the U.S. the most current issue I am able to lay hands on is the June (no 206) issue.

Quite aside from some of the remarks obviously resulting from the jealousy of fellow officers for missing out on the glory, including I daresay the redoubtable Sir Garnet Wolseley (whom despite all of his character flaws, I for one still admire him), the new wave of "All Sir Dalton" fans seem to neglect a very important aspect of the argument. Whilst it cannot be argued that Dalton may have indeed masterminded the fortifications, it was still Chard and Bromhead who led the defense. Unfortunately neither Chard nor Bromhead were very good at nor perhaps much interested in self promotion. However incidents such as the "water cart sortie" certainly speak volumes.

In the meantime I might suggest combing through "Rorke's Drift" 'By Those Who Were There," by Lee Stevenson and Alan Baynham Jones. Hopefully somewhere in the well documented accounts of the other defenders, there should be some testament to the conduct of John Chard and Gonville Bromhead.

I wish you luck in writing that letter Michael, such an editorial left unchallenged would be an injustice to the memory of two great men.

15th August 2005Michael Boyle

Thanks for the tips. I'll try to get hold of that copy of "Military Illustrated" but not living near a 'big city' magazine shop that may be difficult. Unfortunately "...Those Who There" doesn't seem to contain much on Chard and Bromhead that would work as the opinions of troops who serve under officers seems to carry less weight than that of other officers or historians.