First Boer War 1880 to 1881

The 44th East Essex and 56th West Essex were not involved in the first Boer War although a few individual members and members of Essex Militia/Volunteer Battalions served with other battalions.

Narrative of the War

There were several conflicts in Southern Africa in the late 1800's but the largest were the Boer Wars.

Boers were Afrikaners or residents of South Africa who had Dutch extraction but who lived in South Africa which at the time was under British Rule.

The first Boer War in 1880 started when a large number of Boers left the peopled area of the Cape and moved into the interior of South Africa which at the time was sparsely populated by white settlers.

At first the British took no direct action but when the Boers established self-proclaimed independent Republics called Orange Free State and Transvaal the British claimed ownership of the territories.

When this claim was resisted the British attempted to reclaim control by force

While the Boers had no formal army most of their men were skilled horsemen and adapt with a rifle as these skills were required and on daily basis for people faming land in southern Africa.

The British Army in Africa was more used to fighting against native bands where their discipline and firepower would prove successful.

In the Boers they found one of the best light cavalries in the world and failed to take control of the area after suffering a string of defeats

As a result a peace treaty in 1881 agreed that the British would still own the land but allowed the Boers control.