The Boer Wars were fought almost a decade apart in the same area of the southern African and for virtually the same reasons.
The Boer War of 1880 to 1881 was the result of a very complicated mix of politics, personalities, precious minerals (gold and diamonds) and purloined property.
When diamonds and later gold were discovered in the South African Republic, otherwise known as the Transvaal Republic, the British had already captured the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch on the Horn of Africa in 1815, giving them control of the trade routes from Europe to India by sea. With the discovery of diamonds and gold, they moved to expand their territory beyond the cape, including annexing the Transvaal in 1877.
The first shots were between government troops and Transvaal Boers, farmers and pioneers of Dutch descent, when government officials tried to seize a Boer's wagon and goods to pay an illegally inflated tax on November 11th, 1880. A group of one hundred armed Boers recovered the wagon, with the first shots being fired when the government troops went after them.
The war started in earnest on December 16th, 1880, when the Boers revolted, attacking and destroying a column of the British 94th Regiment of Foot when they were on their way to reinforce Pretoria. Unlike the Second Boer War, the first war consisted of many small skirmishes between small groups of government soldiers and Boer militiamen, who easily picked off the brightly clad British infantry, with their white pith helmets, red jackets and dark blue trousers. The Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons Highlanders wore bright kilts, while the Royal Artillery wore bright blue jackets. It is no wonder the Boers, with their army of marksmen who depended on making their first shot count to put food on their tables and defend their homes, were able to defeat the British troops. By March, 1881, the war was over... or was it?
The Second Boer War, commonly known simply as the Boer War, began almost twenty years later, on October 11th, 1899, lasting until May 31st, 1902. Like the first war, short as it was, the reasons for the war were basically the same – gold and diamonds. The Boer states of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State controlled very lucrative gold and diamond mines, which the British wanted.
The resultant very bloody Boer War, as it is most commonly known today, seemed to be over in 1900 when Britain officially annexed the two countries, except that the Boers refused to surrender. They reverted to the same guerilla tactics that brought their victory in the first war, which led to another two years of war, which only ended in 1902, due to Britain's relentless strategy to cut off, fence off and partition the territory into ever smaller parcels, allowing them to round up and imprison the Boers in concentration camps, where many of them died of disease.
The Boers finally surrendered under British terms at the Treaty of Vereeniging in May of 1902. Under a new political system, the Boers were given control of the former republics under the new Union of South Africa in 1910.
Trophy Miniatures has done a simply remarkable job of recreating the players in this epic conflict in exquisitely detailed miniature.