Counter-Revolutionary Case Study Number One [The Second Anglo-Boer War]

Counter-Revolutionary Case Study Number One [The Second Anglo-Boer War]
September 25, 2017 Admin

Greetings men-

The following is an excellent article by Michael Gladius. It is a case study with the purpose of presenting valuable information and insights gleaned from the conflict in question. The purpose of this, as you know, is to better understand geopolitics and military theory (as a result of the direction things are going in Europe).

Obviously a future conflict in Europe is going to be far, far different than any war 100 years ago, but as all the great military theorists in history have stated, the underlying foundations of war and military theory are remarkably consistent throughout time.

Knowledge, and especially knowledge of history, has often been the deciding factor in other momentous struggles.

Here is Mr. Gladius’s article:


Counter-Revolutionary Case Studies


I will be writing a series of essays on various conflicts that I think will be appropriate for the counter-revolution. History offers us many lessons, and I hope to make them known to you, gentle reader. Most of these conflicts are lesser-known, obscure events, which I feel is easier to study objectively. I encourage you to read up on these events more, as my essays are merely a summary of what happened, condensing the lessons useful to our cause. All of them take place in the 20th century, and I will proceed in chronological order.


The Second Anglo-Boer War (Setting the Standard)


The Boers were descendants of 16th-Century Dutch Settlers in South Africa. The British seized this coastal territory during the Napoleonic wars, and so the Boers moved inland, founding the Transvaal and Orange Republics.

Eventually, gold and diamonds were discovered in these areas, and non-Boer Europeans flooded the countries. The British sought to annex the republics, leading to the First Boer war from 1880-81. This was a short war, which resulted in a British defeat after a few decisive Boer victories.

The Second Boer War was started in 1895 after Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, a mining administrator with the blessing of the British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain, sought to start an uprising among the colonists to overthrow the Boer government and seize the gold mines, in the name of ‘restoring order.’

This led the Boers to believe they were under immediate threat of invasion, and when 4 years of negotiations failed, they chose to strike first.

‘Blockhouse’ from Boer War.

At first, the Boers mobilized much more quickly than the British, and won several decisive battlefield victories. However, they failed to take the border cities of Kimberly, Mafeking, and Ladysmith, and the British were able to strike back and occupy both republics.

The third phase of the war was a protracted guerrilla war between Boer partisans and British garrison units that lasted until 1902. Political negotiations, combined with scorched-earth tactics and the destruction of Boer guerrilla bands, finally led to peace, and the Boer republics became part of British South Africa.

The film below illustrates my points from ‘Victoriana’ 😉).


How the Boers Fought

The Boer republics lacked a standing army, apart from some artillery units. Their system relied on ‘commandos,’ which were small groups of militia raised by the government, generally platoon-sized (roughly 30 men).

These men were usually farmers, although by the Second Boer War a larger percentage lived in cities. Each man was to have a rifle and a horse, and if did not own any, they would be provided for him by the state. Commandos were not professional soldiers. They were temporary regional units comprised of men from the same town or collection of farms. They lacked formal training or discipline, but compensated for this with individual initiative and skill.

The Boers’ advantages were qualitative, since they could not hope to match the British Empire’s numbers of men, horses, or equipment. In the 4 years leading up to the war, the Boer republics acquired German Mauser rifles in large quantities, and upgraded their artillery, particularly the French 155-mm ‘Long Toms.’ The Boers fought as classic light infantry, although there were several significant differences due to the operating environment.

Like classic light infantry, the Boers took full advantage of every piece of cover and concealment available. Their skill at stalking and infiltration greatly impressed the British, and the lack of smoke (smokeless powder had only recently been introduced) from their muzzles made spotting them difficult. The Boers almost never used formations, but maneuvered in small, dispersed groups as skirmishers.

The Umgeni River.

The Boer reliance on stealth and surprise as force multipliers, combined with their reliance on platoon-sized infiltration attacks, bears a striking resemblance to the Chinese in Korea in 1950.

Where the Boers differed from classic light infantry, however, is their rifle marksmanship and horsemanship.

Light infantry generally fight in close terrain, where horses and machines cannot go (swamps, mountains, heavy forest, and deep snow). As a result, their tactics generally involve creeping to within 50-75 yards of the enemy, initiating combat with hand grenades, and then following up with a sudden, violent assault at close range.

On the veldt, however, the terrain was not suitable for this. The vegetation was short, the air unusually clear, and the flat landscape allowed visibility for miles in every direction. Both sides considered 600 yards to be ‘close range’ in this environment.

The Boers instead preferred to infiltrate by groups, and to open fire at long range, sometimes up to 2000 yards away. Not all Boers were expert marksman, but even those who weren’t could compensate with rapid fire.

In lieu of assault tactics, they would advance and shoot until the enemy withdrew or surrendered (first video below). If the enemy was the attacker, they would let him advance and use aimed fire to break up his attack (second video below). If the enemy did get too close, then the Boers could simply withdraw on horseback a short distance, then turn around and begin firing again.

Future Guerrilla movements called this tactic the minuet, as it matched the movements (i.e., one advances, the other pulls back an equal distance, and vice versa, and avoids closing with the other side) of the two dancers.

Inside of blockhouse.

Another key difference between the Boers and classic light infantry is their use of cavalry tactics. The latter normally fights dismounted, while the Boers could fight both mounted and dismounted. Traditional cavalry tactics involve long-range reconnaissance, screening larger troop bodies, and raids. The Boers proved to be quite skilled at all three of these, and when dismounted could seamlessly blend their light infantry tactics with their long-range mobility.

The Boers also utilized trenches, and took care to conceal them as best they could. Phony trenches would also be constructed, in order to draw artillery fire away from the main positions. These did not play a major role in the later stages of the war, but did appear often in the opening phase.

Boer tactics changed very little between the conventional phase and the guerrilla phase. In both instances, the Boers travelled light and fought light, relentlessly harassed the British, and would occasionally utilize their own artillery pieces. Their great failing, however, was their inability to capture or defend cities. By becoming tied down in sieges, they gave the British time to reorganize and strike back.

Once the sieges of Kimberly, Mafeking, and Ladysmith were broken, then the Boers were unable to prevent the British from seizing their own cities and towns. Once they lost their own towns, conventional resistance was no longer possible, and the guerrilla phase began.



How The British Fought

The British began the war with a quantitative advantage over the Boers. Most of their units had not seen action in many years, and were untested in battle.

Despite the bloody nose they received in the First Boer War, the British were highly confident. The Boers surprised them with how quickly they mobilized, however, and lay quickly lay siege to the critical cities of Kimberly, Mafeking, and Ladysmith, trapping the local garrisons inside and giving their commandos free reign throughout the countryside. The pressure for a swift reaction made a mess of the original British plan, and the initial attempts at relief resulted in 3 humiliating defeats within a single week (see below video).

However, the sieges bought the British Army valuable time to strike back again, and eventually they prevailed and took the fight to Boer territory.

Another blockhouse.

The British Army was well-organized and well-disciplined. Their troops were not nearly as skilled as the Boers, man-for-man, but they were well-drilled enough to advance through incoming fire without flinching. The British cavalry, in particular, quickly proved itself to be equal to the Boers, although it was hampered by high horse casualties early in the war.

However, the British had many disadvantages as well.

The long supply lines and nonexistent infrastructure meant that both sides had to conserve their ammunition. The Boers conserved ammunition by stressing aimed fire and marksmanship, in order to not waste ammunition. The British, on the other hand, sought to remedy this by tightly restricting their riflemen to fire in volleys, which proved ineffective against the dispersed, concealed Boers.

At long range, the Boers forced the British into open-order formations at distances much further than they were accustomed to, and British troopers were not trained to utilize cover and concealment as they advanced. As a result, they were easily spotted and once the Boers calculated the range, they inflicted heavy casualties on the exposed British infantry.

These problems persisted throughout the war, and spurred massive reforms when the war ended.

Also highly reccomended:



How It’s Relevant For Us

The Boer War was a war of small units. Battles above the company and platoon level were almost unheard of after the initial clash, and large-scale maneuvers had to be learned in WWI. Likewise, the next war in Europe will likely begin with hundreds of small clashes, involving no more than 30-100 people apiece on each side.

For European patriots, the Boers provide a template for excellence that is worth emulating. Firstly, the Boers had no formal training, and a sizable percentage was city boys. Yet through individual skill, particularly marksmanship, physical toughness, and self-discipline, they performed effectively in the open against the slower British forces.

Boer Fighters.

I have previously written about joining the national guard/reserves, but gun clubs are also important, as they will allow patriots to practice their shooting far more than in the military. Our militaries’ musketry standards today are far lower than in WWI, when 600 yards was considered ‘close range.’

Another lesson from the Boers is the need for concealment. The British Army in Europe during WWI rarely found opportunities to employ long-range rifle fire, but emulated the Boers’ ability to melt into the terrain and avoid being seen. Taking advantage of every piece of cover and concealment, the British infantry proved difficult to locate, even to well-trained scouts. European patriots should consider this skill as a matter of life and death, particularly in the face of superior firepower or numbers.

The need for local organizing is also critical. Commando units had high unit cohesion, since they knew each other closely. They were a true band of brothers.

If you are part of a local resistance group, join the national guard together, and become accustomed to working together. Train together, meet together, and fight together. Study maps of your town and county, and ‘patrol’ it together in order to become intimately familiar with it. Invite your friends to join these same units, even if they’re not preservationists yet. Tell them it pays well, if nothing else. Build brotherhood.



Editor’s Note: Big thank you to Michael for sharing this article.

For more info on history, brotherhood, military theory, etc, please check out the following books and websites:

4th Generation Warfare Handbook  (note: the above conflict was not 4Gw, but the topics are similar obviously)

A History of Strategy: From Sun Tzu to William S. Lind

Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae



Comments (16)

  1. Alexander Lund 3 months ago

    I think you miss two points:
    1) The Boer had no High Command that looked at the BIG Picture. If they had they would have seen that the blockhouses would hamper their movement and tie them to a certain area.
    2) While the british had no qualms about putting the Boer women and children into harms way (the camps) the Boer still fought with some sort of chivalry. They lacked the ruthlessness of their counterpart. They should have gone after the enemies civilians as the british and most importantly, they should have sent snipers aka headhuntersquads after the enemies commanders. Maybe even a squad sent to England to take Queen Victoria hostage.

    And These are also our failures.

    • Author
      Admin 3 months ago

      You and Michael both seem to have read far more on South African history than me. It is something I hope to remedy eventually.

      If either of you guys have a book on the conflict/other South African history you recommend please feel free to share it too.

      • Alexander Lund 3 months ago

        No, I did not read that much on South Africa I admit.
        I read a few articles of people who have much more knowledge.
        I read: Military History May 2010, Clausewitz 2/2015 (german military magazine) and Wikipedia.

        But I have the advantage (thanks to being bullied in school) of thinking what no other dares to think. I can switch off my emotions.
        In my thoughts I can be more ruthless than Ghengis Khan.
        And I have no qualms about thinking about every possible way of fighting (bloodiest guerilla warfare or NBC warfare anybody?) or thinking it to the logical end, e.g. victory by extermination.

      • Michael Gladius 3 months ago

        The History professor in the embedded videos has published several good books on the aftermath of the war, and how the British Army learned its lessons and applied them in 1914. He also recommended several memoirs from both sides: Dennis Reitz, ‘Commando’ and Christian De Wet’s ‘Three Years’ War’ for the Boers, and for a modern perspective which focuses on the organisation and morale of Boer commados, try Fransjohan Pretorius, ‘Life on Commando.’

        Professor spencer also sent me one of his essays on Boer marksmanship, which can be found here:

    • Michael Gladius 3 months ago

      Not quite. The Boers’ high command was looking to de-escalate the war and avoid a prolonged conflict. They hoped to replicate the First Anglo-Boer War, when a few clever battlefield victories were enough to convince the British to leave them alone. However, the embedded video on ‘Black Week’ shows that the shock of the defeats did not discourage the British Empire, but made them more determined to avenge their pride.
      As for the blockhouses, these were not the most devastating tactic the British could use against the Boers. The Boers did have artillery which could level such a structure, but not that much. The blockhouses were more useful as launchpads and supply dumps for mobile formations (cavalry and mounted infantry) than as a defensive structure. The veldt is far too wide for small blockhouses to hem in small, platoon-sized units. In short, the blockhouses didn’t hamper the Boers’ movement, the horsemen did. But the horsemen needed the blockhouses to protect their supplies, and provide refuge if forced to retreat. I can foresee small, fortified, rural villages across Europe fulfilling such a role in the war to come.

      The British did not deliberately try to exterminate the Boer civilians during the war, either. The British forcibly relocated them, in order to starve the commandos of shelter, support, and supplies (i.e., scorched-earth tactics). They placed the women and children into temporary camps, but without planning far ahead. The number of civilians and soldiers alike who died of disease and starvation in these camps was actually equal (1:1 ratio). When word got out that so many people were dying miserably, the British worked to improve conditions, and the problems declined. However, this is highly relevant for preservationists in small towns who may experience an influx of Europeans fleeing the cities with nowhere to go. The last thing we need is to be battling disease while also battling the invaders.

      • SteveRogers42 3 months ago

        I’m glad (no pun intended) that you mentioned the role of the “concentration camps” in the eventual British victory. Although the term was corrupted beyond repair by being applied to other installations in another war, the goal in South Africa was not enslavement or extermination, but simply to “concentrate” the enemy civilians under guard so that they could not function in their logistical and intelligence roles. The inadvertent death and suffering was certainly regrettable, but the camps were the winning play for the British.

        The comparison of this ruthlessly-effective tactic to the dog’s breakfast outlined in this article is enough to make one a believer in the concept of socio-cultural devolution. The way “we” do unconventional warfare today makes Vietnam look like a miracle of good planning and sound judgement:

        (Shakin’ ma haid.)

      • Alexander Lund 2 months ago

        The blockhouses were in sight of each other and connected by barbed wire. So they divided the country into small pieces and hemmed in/ stopped the movement of the Boer Forces.
        The Forces you mentioned were Fast Reaction Forces to trap the Boer Forces against the barbed wire and kill them.

        It does not matter if it was not intended. If you put pople in camps you have to take care of them. eath by neglect or not caring or because you never thought that you would have so many prisoners is no excuse.
        As it is said: Armchair Generals talk strategy and tactics, REAL Generals talk logistics.
        So the british Generals / politicians should have been put on Trial for abuse of power and criminal neglect.

        And to the Boer High Command: No plan survives contact with the enemy. When the High Command saw that the british were in no way to go for a repeat of Boer war one they should have adapted their strategy. And then the least would have been to attack the base of logistics, the ports or places were the british Forces assembled their material for the campaign against the Boer. And if the british let the Boer civilians suffer, then according to tu quoque it is also legally allowed to burn down a british City to make british citizens suffer.

        • Michael Gladius 2 months ago

          You are correct about the critical need for logistics in an army, and the moral responsibility we will have for European/Christian refugees fleeing the Islamists. Even if we send back African/Asian/Middle Eastern Christians, we should send them back with at least a shipping container’s worth of guns and ammo so that they’re not easy prey for their moderate Muslim neighbors back home.

          Part of the problem in the Boer War camps was the difficulty of resupplying them with food. The Boers frequently blew up trains carrying supplies, since they couldn’t tell if they were meant for the army or for civilians. The 1:1 death ratio between guards and civilians in the camps shows that the administrators weren’t negligent, but rather had nothing to work with. Children die more easily of disease when they’re hungry than adults, so a 1:1 ratio is abnormally low.

          As for strategy, the wire fences were used towards the end of the conflict, long after the blockhouses were erected. This was a systematic search-and-destroy campaign because the commandos were very elusive, and could run circles around anything that wasn’t riding a horse. And without the fast reaction forces, the Boers could simply cut through the wire. Plenty of them fled to Portuguese Africa, and used it as a safe haven when launching raids.

          The idea of attacking British logistics was beyond the capabilities of the Boer forces. Mounting such a campaign would not have stopped the British Army from marching into Boer territory, and risked everything in a decisive battle that the Boers were not guaranteed to win. They would be outnumbered, be attacking fortified cities, have no strategic reserves, and risk losing their entire army in one fell swoop. The best the Boers could do was harass, which is a groundwork-laying tactic, not a strategy.

          What the Boers needed that did not exist at the time was the light machine gun. Light machine guns amplify the small firepower of platoons, and can stop much larger forces in ways that bolt-action rifles can’t compete with. Combined with their marksmanship, light machine guns could have stopped the British conventionally.

          • Alexander Lund 2 months ago

            According to all I read barbed wire was used from the time the blockhouses were built.

            And why would the attack on the british logistics base not be possible?
            Instead of having 100 men on the area you sent them in 10 men squads into british territoy to burn down/ kill anything thats british.

            A lot of the material of building houses were wood or other flammable materials. And if the houses were standing close to each other, once the first house burns, the rest follows.
            Yes, you have to open fire on the firefighters but you want to win the war.

            And to light machine guns: They would have been nice but if the british came at you in a long line, you need a few carronades, you know the short Barrel gun that the various navies used in the Napoleonic times to clear enemy gun decks. The claymore-mine of 1900.

            Just imagine a Boer unit assembles in a battle Formation , the british respond with a similar Formation and then the Boer run away.
            When the british follow they find out that the Boers dug some fox-holes (for the guys firing the carronades) and now they face 10 carronades in one line and 5 to 10 lines after the first one.

            Yes, the British will adapt, but only if ony of them survive.
            Until then it is the unknown Boer super weapon that wipes out british regiments and burns the earth.
            Psychological Warfare should be used too.

          • Michael Gladius 2 months ago

            100 men would not have been able to knock out British logistics. If you watch the video on black week, there’s a map that shows the 3 major ports where the British landed and marched out of. They’re too far away for the timing to work. If one port goes down, the shipments simply get redirected to another while its being repaired.
            If the Boers divided up their 100 men, or even committed 300 men to cover all the bases, they still couldn’t stop the logistics. Harassment can delay shipments, but even setting fire to a port or blowing up rail lines can be repaired with modern technology and be back in service within a matter of days. Plus, the Boer population in these towns would have plenty of individuals ready to rat them out to the garrison, and the neutrals would have no desire to be martyrs for their cause (their houses would be burned down, too). The Boers would also be unable to carry enough supplies for a sustained battle. If the Boers stuck around to keep shooting at the repair workers amid the wreckage, the British Garrison would declare martial law and arrest/shoot anybody who came close to the repair yard, and take measures to prevent the Boers from stealing supplies. At that point the Boers would be low on ammo/explosives, and have to withdraw, or attempt a suicidal attack against larger British forces with no cover, and at close range. Such a raid would have ended like the the Tet Offensive, or the Battle of Scarif in Rogue 1: the entire force is lost (and are irreplaceable), and the Empire can easily replenish its losses. The costs would be too high for the Boers, and even a successful attack would not change the course of the war. The British would have simply marched into Boer territory and seized food from there. If the Boers withdraw, then the British repair the damages and take precautions to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
            The Boers’ raiding throughout the war did tie down large numbers of troops, forcing them to guard these supply lines instead of going on the offense, but only by occupying the ports conventionally could they actually stop the supplies completely. 100 men cannot occupy a port like that, nor did the Boers have the numbers to attempt such a feat.

            Again, harassing supply lines is a groundwork-laying tactic, not a strategy. In isolation, harassing supply lines accomplishes little. In concert with larger actions, it becomes more useful. Occupying cities is how you win conventional wars, and this war was very conventional.

            As for the cannons, the Boers did not have anywhere near enough guns for such a tactic. 5-10 lines of 10 guns apiece is 50-100 guns firing grapeshot, which is more than the entire Boer arsenal. Boer artillery was few and far between, and the British could flatten such formations with sheer volume of fire. Plus, those guns were slow-moving, slow-firing, and grapeshot is a close-range weapon, the polar opposite of Boer tactics. Such a tactic could not get off more than 1 volley before being overrun (it wouldn’t annihilate an entire regiment in open-order formation; modern artillery could). The British could then take cover in the Boers’ own trenches and wait for their artillery to soften them up. Once the Boers’ guns fire, they have to reload, which takes several minutes. Waiting for the British to charge before firing would leave them sitting ducks for counter-battery fire, and any attempts to withdraw or suppress would be immediately followed by infantry and cavalry charges, which would capture the (irreplaceable) guns while they’re reloading. Then we’re back to square 1.
            The light machine gun would have been more suitable than massed artillery because its lighter weight was more suitable for the Boers’ mobility, and more conducive to their musketry culture. It’s quicker-firing than artillery, faster to reload, and much more portable for cavalry/mounted infantry. In fact, the first machine guns were employed as artillery pieces, especially during the Russo-Japanese War and WWI. A single commando with 2-3 LMGs could sneak around the British flank and hit their lines with enfilade fire before disappearing. THAT would be devastating, and more cost-effective than artillery of the day.

            Don’t confuse modern weapons and technologies’ capability with those of 1901. Modern technology enables tactics that were not possible in 1901, and vice versa.

  2. Author
    Admin 3 months ago

    Yes in retrospect its amazing just how much animosity and inhumanity the British and Boers showed to each other. Nowadays one thinks of the two groups as hardly distinguishable but man they were pretty brutal against each other. If only they could have seen how things would turn out today, think it would have jogged them into a greater *understanding*. Although as you pointed out it doesn’t seem like they were as brutal towards each other as they could have been too.

  3. SteveRogers42 3 months ago

    For anyone interested in the Boer War, there was an outstanding movie made in the early ’80’s called “Breaker Morant”. A true story about the “fog of war” and the grey areas that dominate covert/unconventional operations.

    • Author
      Admin 2 months ago

      Interesting. I will check that out.

      I wanted to link to a movie that featured the conflict when I was writing the article but couldn’t think of any…

      I kept thinking of that Heath Ledger movie The Four Feathers but that was about India and the black hole of Calcutta and all that stuff.

    • Michael Gladius 2 months ago

      That’s one of the embedded videos, where I refer back to ‘Victoriana.’ Excellent movie, and the iconic line Lt. Morant throws at the courtroom is apparently still a thing in Australian slang today. ^_^

  4. SteveRogers42 2 months ago


    • Author
      Admin 2 months ago

      Blood Diamond is the only movie I have seen set in South Africa. I very much liked it though. I also thought it avoided being too liberal-ish. Was even a little ‘coincidenty’ if you know what I mean… in who it made the villains look like.

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