Lord Roberts en die Anglo-Boereoorlog (1899-1902)

'n Kritiese evaluering van sy opperbevelhebberskap na verloop van honderd jaar

  • André Wessels University of the Free State, South Africa


It ls the purpose of this study (which is primarily based on archival sources) to give a critical review of the work done by Lord Roberts as commander-in-chief of the British forces in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902, and to ascertain to what extent he continued to exert influence on events at the war front after he had returned to England (to become commander-in-chief of the British Army at the War Office in London), having handed over the supreme command in South Africa to Lord Kitchener on 29 November 1900. From the study it is clear that Roberts was a remarkable, albeit controversial commander who left an enduring military (and to some extent administrative, even political) legacy in South Africa, as is the case in India, Ireland and England. Roberts could learn from the mistakes made by his predecessor, Gen. Buller, and had time on his side, as well as vastly superior resources. However, he did not always employ his soldiers correctly, was prone to think in terms of conventional nineteenth-century military doctrines, and drove his army too fast towards the republican capitals, instead of trying to corner and destroy the Boer forces in the field. ft took him a long time to realize that a completely new type of war (guerrilla conflict) had developed. He could never fully adapt to the new circumstances, and left Kitchener with much more than only policework to do. Roberts set the scene for a bitter and drawn-out conflict that would drag on for another eighteen months.


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