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Jameson Raid

From Academic Kids

The Jameson Raid (December 29, 1895 - January 2, 1896) was an ineffectual sortie by British irregulars into the Transvaal. It was intended to trigger an uprising by the primarily British expatriate workers (known as Uitlanders) in the Transvaal but failed to do so. The raid was a fiasco and no uprising took place but it did much to bring about the Second Boer War.

With approximately 30,000 white male Boer voters and potentially 60,000 (white male) Uitlander ones the Boer government had passed laws to restrict their enfranchisement. This had given rise to considerable discontent amongst the Uitlanders and preparations were made by some to overthrow the Boer government. The objective of the raid was to reach Johannesburg and support the uprising which would take place at the same time. The raid was planned by Cecil Rhodes in mid-1895 but it soon became mired in delays.

As part of the planning a force had been placed at Pitsani, on the border of the Transvaal, by the order of Rhodes so as to be able to quickly offer support to the Uitlanders when they rose. The force was placed under the control of Leander Starr Jameson, the Administrator General for Matabeleland. The force was around 600 men, about 400 from the Matabeleland Mounted Police and the remainder other volunteers. It was equipped with rifles, six Maxim machine guns, and three light artillery pieces.

Jameson was frustrated by the delays and decided to act on his own. He sent a telegram to Rhodes warning him of his intentions. On December 29, 1895 Jameson's force crossed into the Transvaal and headed for Johannesburg. The British Colonial secretary, Joseph Chamberlain was horrified at Jameson's actions and repudiated them, instructing local British representatives to call on British colonists not to offer any aid to the raiders.

Jameson's force first encountered resistance very early on January 1 when there was a very brief exchange of fire with a Boer outpost. Around noon the Jameson force was around twenty miles further on, at Krugersdorp, where a small force of Boer soldiers had blocked the road to Johannesburg and dug in. Jameson's force spent some hours exchanging fire with the Boers, losing several men and many horses in the skirmish. Towards evening the Jameson force withdrew and turned south-east attempting to flank the Boer force. The Boers tracked the move overnight and on January 2 as the light improved Jameson had reached Doornkop where a substantial Boer force with some artillery was waiting. The tired Jameson raiders exchanged fire with the Boers, losing around thirty men before Jameson realized the position was hopeless and surrendered to Commander Piet Cronjé. The raiders were taken to Pretoria and jail.

The Boer government later handed the men over to the British for trial. Jameson was returned to London and was sentenced to 15 months, which he served in Holloway. The Boer government was paid almost £1 million in compensation by the British South Africa Company.

The affair brought Anglo-Boer relations to a dangerous low and the ill feeling was further heated by the "Kruger telegram" from the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II. It congratulated Paul Kruger on defeating the raid, and also appeared to recognise the Boer republic and offer support. The emperor was already perceived as anti-British, and a naval arms race had started between Germany and Britain. Consequently, the telegram alarmed and angered the British.

See also

de:Jameson-Raid nl:Jameson Raid

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