THE THREE BRITISH OCCUPATIONS OF POTCHEFSTROOM DURING THE ANGLOBOER WAR 1899-1902

  • Gert Van den Bergh

Abstract

In the course of 1900, the second year of the Anglo-Boer War, Potchefstroomwas occupied three times by British forces and twice evacuated, all in the space offive months. This article focuses on the circumstances leading to these events, theirsignificance for the effective British occupation of south-western Transvaal and onthe effects of the occupations on the civilian population of the town.Possession of Potchefstroom, next to Pretoria and Johannesburg, the mostpopulous town in the Transvaal, was a pre-requisite for British occupation of all ofthe south-western quarter of the Transvaal. The main consideration being that theWestern Railway line ran through Potchefstroom terminating in Klerksdorp. Its usewas indispensable as a supply route for all garrison towns to be established southand west of Krugersdorp. The expectations that all would be accomplished with easewere dashed by the advent of the guerrilla phase of the war by mid-1900. Critical inthis regard was the activation of renewed Boer hostilities securely based in theGatsrand from where all rail and road communication between Potchefstroom andits supply base in Krugersdorp was disrupted. These factors and other considerationsresulted in six months of failed British attempts to secure Potchefstroom.Alternating Boer and British control of the town had interesting repercussionsfor the civilian population with its considerable British element leading to a divisionof loyalty toward the combatants.
Published
2011-08-08
Section
Articles