Siege of Mafeking

Siege Of Mafeking

Military Conflict
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Siege of Mafeking

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The Siege of Mafeking was the most famous British action in the Second Boer War. It took place at the town of Mafeking (now Mafikeng) in South Africa over a period of 217 days, from October 1899 to May 1900, and turned Robert Baden-Powell, who went on to found the Scouting Movement, into a national hero. The Relief of Mafeking (the lifting of the siege) was a decisive victory for the British and a crushing defeat for the Boers.

Prelude

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, Lord Wolseley, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, who had failed to persuade the British government to send troops to the region, instead sent Colonel (later Lord) Baden-Powell, accompanied by a handful of officers, to the Cape Colony to raise two Regiments of Mounted Rifles from Rhodesia. Their aims were to resist the expected Boer invasion of the Natal Colony (now KwaZulu-Natal Province), draw the Boers away from the coasts to facilitate the landing of British troops, and, through a demonstrable British presence, deter the local people from siding with the Boers.

Like the British government, the local politicians feared that increased military activity might provoke a Boer attack, so Baden-Powell decided to obtain many of his own stores, organise his own transport and recruit in secret. With barely trained forces and aware of the Boers' greatly superior numbers, commando tactics and the failure of the earlier Jameson Raid,...
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