Boer War art

The vocation of military illustrator is nearly as old as man himself. Since the beginning, men have felt the urge to pen drawings of his deeds and experiences in battle.

On the time-scale of world events, photography was still an extremely young method of recording military happenings during the time of the the Boer War.

Illustrators were still heavily relied upon to bring the battles of the world into the homes of ordinary citizens around the globe. The Anglo-Boer War saw a great amount of very fine military artwork being done. 

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A British field bakery

Notice the ovens. They seem to have been fashioned out of steel drums and covered with earth in order to retain the heat. Supplying freshly-baked bread to an army of ten thousand men in the field was a complicated task.

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Wounded General Kock at Elandslaagte

The old man with the white beard is the mortally wounded general Kock, whose force had been annihilated by the British forces near Elandslaagte station. It has often been alleged that general Kock had died as a result of  neglect and particularly poor medical treatment in the hands of his captors. The battle of Elandslaagte was a very curious one. It was fought during a raging thunder storm, and both sides exhibited particularly great courage and the fiercest determination. It was an ugly battle, though, marred by extremely brutal acts and violations of the principles of "civilized" warfare.

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A British steam tractor

These steam tractors were first used at the Tugela front. Tremendously powerful though they were, they were slow, cumbersome and tended to become hopelessly stuck in mud. Finding enough coal and water also proved to be a major problem. In some cases, though, they proved to be extremely valuable -- especially when loaded supply waggons or large artillery guns became bogged down. Steam engines proved impractical for the most part and were never used on a large scale during the Boer War.

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A Boer commando attacking a railway line come under fire

Trains were later equipped with powerful searchlights in order to repel attacks on the railway lines. Artillery guns were mounted on specially customised armoured wagons which looked like monstrous tanks. Many an attack on railway installations and blockhouses had been foiled with the appearance of an armoured train. In this picture, however, the Boers are armed with an artillery gun, which tended to even the score somewhat.

Pictures by courtesy of the National Archives in Pretoria