2011 | 12 - Problemy bogactwa i biedy we współczesnej Afryce | 541-559
Article title

Trudy życia w komandach w partyzanckim okresie wojny burskiej, lipec 1900 - maj 1902

Title variants
The hardships of the life on commando during the guerrilla phase of the Boer War, July 1900 - May 1902
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When we read histories of the military conflicts only too seldom we may find descriptions of the everyday lives of the ordinary soldiers. Historians too often tend to forget that a circumstances of everyday life do determine their attitudes, their behavior under the fire, the will to fight and their determination, which are crucial elements of the final outcome of the war. It is even more in the case of such armies as the military forces of the Boer Republics during the South African war of the 1899- 1902. Those were mostly irregular forces which, due to a lack of a formal and regular military drill, were much less disciplined than regular forces, and their moods were usually much stronger influenced by changing turns of war and circumstances of everyday life. During the irregular phase of war the Boer forces (still numbering c. 30.000) were faced with completely new problems. They lost organized supply base, but they still had ambitious war-plans, to attack main economic centres and supply lines of the republics controlled then by the British, to destroy them and force Britain to negotiate a truce. At the same time they were faced with new British military strategy of destroying potential supplies for the guerrillas. The scotched earth policy, sweeps by the flying columns and concentration camps had all its effect on commandos ability to fight. Scorched earth meant that whole townlets and villages were destroyed, and herds of cattle and sheep butchered, just for the sake of limiting supplies for the guerrillas. British strategy limited it to such an extent, that there were just few options of resupplying Bore forces. One of the main was using British supplies, through robbery and looting. In effect it is true, to some extent, that at the end of the war the United Kingdom was supplying both armies: British and Boer. Still the hardships were rising with every season in the field. The scorched earth policy took its toll. It was, for Boers, more and more difficult to acquire food and shelter. Supplies run thin and commandos lacked everything. At the end of the war a third of them had no horses. What's more they had no choice but to take care of more than 12.000 women and children, who were stranded on the Veld. Therefore we may argue that the hardships of life on commando during the guerrilla phase of war, were eventually the main reason for surrender of Boer forces in May 1902. The prospects of prolonging the war were grim, and with the time it was for the Boer commandos, more and more the fight for everyday survival without hope for victory. And therefore even the most determined fighters were forced to accept the fact that they could not fight much longer.
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