oa Scientia Militaria : South African Journal of Military Studies - The skirmish at Gatberg : a perspective on the utilisation of Black auxiliaries during the South African War on the Transkei border (1899-1902)

Volume 41, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1022-8136
  • E-ISSN: 2224-0020



The South African War (1899-1902) created major rifts in the post-war society as a result of various controversies that emanated from the conflict, which left a long legacy of bitterness and in many ways inhibited nation-building in the country. One contentious issue that had a major influence on society during and after the War was that of the role and participation of black auxiliaries who were deployed against the Boer forces. After the hostilities had ended, many publications dealt with the topic at both a general and an individual level. The aim of the study on which this article reports, was to analyse the topic at an individual level, specifically focusing on an incident that occurred at Gatberg on 20 November 1901. The skirmish near the former Transkei border occurred between a Boer commando and a black unit under the command of a British officer, and resulted in a great deal of bitterness and controversy that lasted for many years after the conclusion of the War. In the article, the clash is described and placed in its historical context in order to explain what transpired on that fateful day. The article explains the animosity that was generated by the incident, but also the contrasting views that existed after the incident.

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