First Boer War facts for kids

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Prince Alfred's Guard Memorial Port Elizabeth-001
Monument to British soldiers in the war

In the 19th Century Scramble for Africa, the British Empire tried to control all of southern Africa. They won control of the Cape of Good Hope in 1815 at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Many Boers consisting out of Dutch, German and French farmers did not like Britain controlling the area. Some of them moved north and made a new country called the Orange Free State. In 1877 the British Army moved in to control the Orange Free State in pursuit of diamonds, one of the Orange Free State's rich natural resources.

From 1896 to 1899 Governor of the Cape and High Commissioner for South Africa, Alfred Milner made preparations for war in order to gain the wealth of the Orange Free State and in September 1899 British troops arrived in South Africa. Paul Kruger president of the Transvaal sent Britain an ultimatum asking strongly for their departure. The British refused and on 16 December 1880 the First Boer War began.

Boer farmers from Sandspruit, Volksrust, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal fought in the war. As the Boers lost men in battle they recruited young boys and old men to fight. Black people also fought alongside the Boers in the war and they made up 20 to 25 percent of total Boer manpower. The German Empire was friendly to their cause, and the Boers used Krupp guns. Much of the fighting was on horseback. As the Boers lost battle after battle they were eventually forced to make peace on the 23rd of March, 1902, and surrender to British authority.

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First Boer War Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.