Managing the South African War, 1899-1902

Managing the South African War, 1899-1902

Politicians v Generals

Keith Terrance Surridge


Royal Historical Society



This case study of the power struggle between politicians and generals for control of the strategic management of the South African War illuminates Victorian and Edwardian civil—military relations.
Of all the wars fought by Britain between 1815 and 1914, the South African War (1899-1902) was the most extensive and costly. A few thousand Boer farmers defied the British army for nearly three years and were only defeated following the devastation of much of South Africa. Consequently, the war shattered many illusions about the effectiveness of British imperial power. This book is the first comprehensive survey of the disputes which arose between the British government and Sir Alfred Milner, the High Commissioner for South Africa, and three of the era's most famous soldiers, Lords Wolseley, Roberts, and Kitchener, which centred on whether the politicians or generals should control the strategic management of the war; it argues that the army eventually gained control of the war, with Kitchener in particular determining both its strategy and its settlement.

KEITH TERRANCE SURRIDGE teaches at the University of Notre Dame, London Programme.


November 1998
2 line illustrations
215 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series
ISBN: 9780861932382
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Royal Historical Society
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A most important and original contribution to the history of the South African war. ALBION
A valuable addition to the literature on the Boer War and the scholarship on British civil-military relations. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW
Surridge has done a masterful job of dissecting the relationship between government and military during the campaign. ARCHIVES
Widely researched and meticulously documented. JNL OF SOCIETY OF ARMY HISTORICAL RESEARCH
Important for what it has to say about the South African War and for its exploration of the role of colonial warfare in the development of civil - military relations in Britain. JOURNAL OF IMPERIAL AND COMMONWEALTH HISTORY

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