Letters from Ladysmith: Eyewitness Accounts from the South African War

Letters from Ladysmith: Eyewitness Accounts from the South African War

by Edward Spiers (Editor)


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Edward Spiers, a leading authority on the Victorian British army, presents here a select edition of letters from the siege of Ladysmith (1899–1900) that have not been seen since their original publication in metropolitan and provincial newspapers. The 250 letters were published in different British newspapers and provide crucial insights into contemporary perceptions of the battles that preceded the siege, the onset of the siege itself, and the desperate and bloody attempts to relieve the town.

Subsequent efforts to defend Ladysmith – and to march to its relief – became the great dramatic saga of the early phase of the Anglo–Boer War, providing the context for a series of dramatic battles that embarrassed the Empire and destroyed established reputations. Much has been written about the failings of the British commanders but it is clear that in no other theater in the war were the practical difficulties so real – or the stakes so high.

These letters reflect vividly the feelings of junior officers and other ranks as they struggled to cope with the demands of modern warfare. Their eyewitness testimonies provide firsthand commentary upon the events in Natal that shattered the prewar confidence in Britain.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781848325944
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 07/12/2011
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

EDWARD M. SPIERS is the Professor of Strategic Studies at the School of History, University of Leeds. He is the author of several books and articles on military history, including _Letters from Ladysmith_ and _The Late Victorian Army_, and co-editor of _A Military History of Scotland_ which won the Saltire Prize for the best book on Scottish history in 2012.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps vii

Foreword xi

Acknowledgements xv

Introduction: Ladysmith — the Siege and the Letters 1

1 Fighting in Northern Natal and the Retreat to Ladysmith 7

2 Besieged in Ladysmith and the Battle of Colenso 37

3 Fighting for Ladysmith 75

4 Enduring a Siege and Securing the Breakthrough 111

5 Relief, Rejoicings and Reflections 147

Afterword: The Letters and their Legacy 167

Select Bibliography 181

Index 185

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