Louis Botha

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I first became interested in Louis Botha when I was researching my 1st Battalion South Lancs and their involvement in Spion Kop .....

    A great man of action he was renowned for his simplicity, humanity, quick wit and good nature. He was endowed with natural gifts, yet his training was hardly sufficient to equip him for fifteen years of unremitting political diplomatic and military tasks.

    A cairn on the farm Honeyfontein situated on the Pietermaritzburg road - marks the spot where in 1862 Louis Botha was born, the 8th of 13 children ....... the Heine Spruit was in flood and his mother couldn't make it back to Greytown to the family farm Onrust ! He was the son of Voortrekker parents and was brought up on the farm in the Free State, and was educated at the local Hermannsburg Mission School and left the district at the age of about 12 when the family moved to the Orange Free State near Vrede

    A Boer general and statesman, he was leader of the Transvaal army in the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) from March 1900, and he was one of the architects of the Union of South Africa. His vision of South Africa included both British and Dutch.

    Elected to the Transvaal Volksraad in 1897 he was South Africa's most impressive military leader during the Boer War (1899-1902). His success at Spion Kop resulted in him being promoted to commander-in-chief of the Boer forces. After the signing of the Vereeniging Peace Treaty (1902) Botha worked tirelessly for reconciliation with Britain. 1907 he was elected prime minister of the Transvaal colony under the new constitution and three years later became the first president of South Africa.

    On the outbreak of the First World War, Botha immediately offered to send troops to invade German South-West Africa. Botha commanded the Union troops in South West Africa, penetrating the region in four different directions - he overran the German positions and put them to flight. Early in July 1915, the Germans surrendered, but the full peace terms were only to be drawn up after the war in Europe had ended. Afrikaner opposition to this move provoked a major Boer Revolt. This was defeated by the middle of 1915 but in the elections of that year, Botha's National Party, only narrowly held on to power the elections of 1915 were stormy. Botha was attacked for not implementing language equality. The Nationalists pronounced him a disloyal Afrikaner and he lost much support. Though the SAP won the elections, the Prime Minister did not have an outright majority in Parliament. His task was onerous after he took over the portfolio for Defence from Smuts, who had assumed supreme command of the South African forces in German East Africa.

    Botha was offered a post on the British War Cabinet but refused, and in 1914, Smuts sailed for Britain to attend the Imperial Conference and to take his place on the War Cabinet. From July 1915 Botha passed direct military command to his close friend, General Jan Smuts. Botha attended the Paris Peace Conference where he argued against the harsh treatment of the Central Powers.

    Botha was given a tumultuous welcome on his return to South Africa. Worn out and not in the best of health, he caught a cold at his farm Rusthof that quickly developed into pneumonia. Very ill, he returned to his home in Pretoria where he died of a heart attack a few days later. He was buried in the Rebecca Street cemetery in Pretoria on 30 August.


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  2. Carl Hoehler

    Carl Hoehler New Member

    Louis Botha was indeed a great South African.

    His involvement in the formation of the New Republic in and around Utrecht and Vryheid in Northern KwaZulu-Natal is often seen in a negative light. In the aftermath of the destruction of the Zulu Kingdom by the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Ireland) General Botha had supported King Dinuzulu in the face of enmity from Britain and the colonial officials in Natal.

    Here is a link giving the current view


    The image below is of the new statue (left) erected in close proximity to the statue of General Botha (right). These images were copied from http://www.flikr.com

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  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I like those statues very much !

    I have a picture of Botha and his son with one of the officers of the South Lancs ... it's always been interesting to me at the way they all seemed so civil to each other and then they got down to the fighting ! :(

    A fascinating man and history nonetheless !

    Annie :)
  4. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I found the picture ... I had permission to use it on my website ... interesting don't you think ?

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  5. Carl Hoehler

    Carl Hoehler New Member

  6. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Yes I have that thanks Carl ! ... I love that Archive don't you ? all kinds of wonderful books there also the Gutenberg project is an excellent place of reference ! :)

    Annie :)
  7. Carl Hoehler

    Carl Hoehler New Member

    A veritable treasure trove.

    Pity that google:mad: is cluttering a useful resource with those very irritating partial scans

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