Ian Hamilton's March. Winston Spencer Churchill.

By Winston Spencer Churchill

Printed: 1900

Publisher: Longman Green. London

Edition: second edition

Dimensions 14 × 20 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 14 x 20 x 4


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Red cloth binding, gilt title.

Ian Hamilton’s March is a book written by Winston Churchill. It is a description of his experiences accompanying the British army during the Second Boer War, continuing after the events described in London to Ladysmith via Pretoria. The book describes General Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton’s campaign from Bloemfontein to Pretoria. Hamilton travelled four hundred miles from Bloemfontein to Pretoria fighting ten major battles with Boer forces and fourteen minor ones.

Churchill had officially resigned from the British army in order to pursue a political career, but on hearing of the outbreak of war in South Africa between the British colonies and the free Boer states of Transvaal and Orange Free State, immediately made arrangements to take part. He arranged to act as correspondent for The Morning Post, and by playing them off against the rival newspaper, the Daily Mail, obtained a salary of £250 per month. He also persuaded the Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain to write him a letter of introduction to the High Commissioner for Southern Africa, Alfred Milner. He sailed from Southampton aboard the Dunottar Castle on October 14 and reached Cape Town on the 31st.

The book is an edited collection of reports originally published in a newspaper. Returning from the war, Churchill arranged to publish them as a collection and the book appeared in May 1900 published by Longmans and eventually sold 8,000 copies. In 1930 Churchill produced an autobiography, My Early Life, which also had several chapters devoted to his Boer War experiences.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, RA (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, during the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Best known for his wartime leadership as Prime Minister, Churchill was also a Sandhurst-educated soldier, a Nobel Prize-winning writer and historian, a prolific painter, and one of the longest-serving politicians in British history. Apart from two years between 1922 and 1924, he was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1900 to 1964 and represented a total of five constituencies. Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, he was for most of his career a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, though he was a member of the Liberal Party from 1904 to 1924.

Of mixed English and American parentage, Churchill was born in Oxfordshire to a wealthy, aristocratic family. He joined the British Army in 1895 and saw action in British India, the Anglo-Sudan War, and the Second Boer War, gaining fame as a war correspondent and writing books about his campaigns. Elected a Conservative MP in 1900, he defected to the Liberals in 1904. In H. H. Asquith’s Liberal government, Churchill served as President of the Board of Trade and Home Secretary, championing prison reform and workers’ social security. As First Lord of the Admiralty during the First World War, he oversaw the Gallipoli Campaign but, after it proved a disaster, he was demoted to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He resigned in November 1915 and joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front for six months. In 1917, he returned to government under David Lloyd George and served successively as Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, Secretary of State for Air, and Secretary of State for the Colonies, overseeing the Anglo-Irish Treaty and British foreign policy in the Middle East. After two years out of Parliament, he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Stanley Baldwin’s Conservative government, returning the pound sterling in 1925 to the gold standard at its pre-war parity, a move widely seen as creating deflationary pressure and depressing the UK economy.

Out of government during his so-called “wilderness years” in the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in calling for British rearmament to counter the growing threat of militarism in Nazi Germany. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was re-appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. In May 1940, he became Prime Minister, replacing Neville Chamberlain. Churchill oversaw British involvement in the Allied war effort against the Axis powers, resulting in victory in 1945. After the Conservatives’ defeat in the 1945 general election, he became Leader of the Opposition. Amid the developing Cold War with the Soviet Union, he publicly warned of an “iron curtain” of Soviet influence in Europe and promoted European unity. He lost the 1950 election but was returned to office the following year in the 1951 election. His second term was preoccupied with foreign affairs, especially Anglo-American relations and the preservation of the British Empire. Domestically, his government emphasised housebuilding and completed the development of a nuclear weapon (begun by his predecessor). In declining health, Churchill resigned as Prime Minister in 1955, although he remained an MP until 1964. Upon his death in 1965, he received a state funeral.

Widely considered one of the 20th century’s most significant figures, Churchill remains popular in the UK and Western world, where he is seen as a victorious wartime leader who played an important role in defending Europe’s liberal democracy against the spread of fascism. He is also praised as a social reformer. However, he has been criticised for some wartime events – notably the 1945 bombing of Dresden – and also for his imperialist views, including comments on race.

The Mahdist War was a war between the Mahdist Sudanese of the religious leader Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah, who had proclaimed himself the “Mahdi” of Islam (the “Guided One”), and the forces of the Khedivate of Egypt, initially, and later the forces of Britain. Eighteen years of war resulted in the nominally joint-rule state of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (1899–1956), a de jure condominium of the British Empire and the Kingdom of Egypt in which Britain had de facto control over the Sudan. The Sudanese launched several unsuccessful invasions of their neighbours, expanding the scale of the conflict to include not only Britain and Egypt but the Italian Empire, the Congo Free State and the Ethiopian Empire.

The British participation in the war is called the Sudan campaign. Other names for this war include the Mahdist Revolt, the Anglo–Sudan War and the Sudanese Mahdist Revolt.

Omdurman is the most populated city in Sudan and Khartoum State, lying on the western banks of the River Nile, opposite the capital, Khartoum. After the siege of Khartoum, followed by the building there of the tomb of the Mahdi after his death from typhus, the city grew rapidly. However, in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 (which actually took place in the nearby village of Kerreri), Lord Kitchener decisively defeated the Mahdist forces. The following year British forces killed Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, the Khalifa, ensuring British control over the Sudan. NOTE: FBA has a number of Mahdist items from the battle of Omdurman for sale.

The Second Boer War (also known as the Boer War, the Anglo-Boer War, or the South African War), was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two Boer Republics (the South African Republic and the Orange Free State) over the Empire’s influence in Southern Africa from 1899 to 1902. Triggered by the discovery of diamond and gold deposits in the Boer republics, the Boers launched successful attacks against British outposts in the opening stages of the war before being pushed back by imperial reinforcements. Though the British swiftly occupied the Boer republics, numerous Boers refused to accept defeat and engaged in guerrilla warfare. Eventually, British scorched earth policies brought the remaining Boer guerrillas to the negotiating table, ending the war.

The conflict broke out in 1899 when Boer irregulars and militia attacked colonial settlements in nearby British colonies. In 1900, they placed Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking under siege, and won a string of victories at Colenso, Magersfontein and Stormberg. In response to these developments, increased number of British Army soldiers were brought to Southern Africa, and mounted largely unsuccessful attacks against the Boers. However, British military fortunes changed when their commanding officer, General Redvers Buller was replaced by Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, who relieved the three besieged cities and invaded the two Boer Republics in late 1900 at the head of a 400,000-strong expeditionary force. The Boers, aware they were unable to resist such a large force, chose to refrain from fighting pitched battles, allowing the British to occupy both republics.

Boer politicians, including President of the South African Republic Paul Kruger either fled the region or went into hiding; the British Empire officially annexed the two republics in 1900. In Britain, the Conservative ministry led by Lord Salisbury attempted to capitalize on British military successes by calling an early general election, which was dubbed by contemporary observers as a “khaki election”. However, numerous Boer fighters took to the hills and launched a guerrilla campaign against the British occupational forces, becoming known as bittereinders. Led by prominent generals such as Louis Botha, Jan Smuts, Christiaan de Wet, and Koos de la Rey, Boer guerrillas launched a campaign of hit-and-run attacks and ambushes against the British, which would continue for two years.

The Boer guerrilla campaign proved difficult for the British to defeat, due in part to British unfamiliarity with guerrilla tactics and extensive support for the guerrillas among the civilian population in the Boer Republics. In response to continued failures to defeat the Boer guerrillas, British high command ordered several scorched earth policies to be implemented as part of a large scale and multi-pronged counter insurgency campaign; a complex network of nets, blockhouses, strongpoints and barbed wire fences was constructed, virtually partitioning the occupied republics. British troops were ordered to destroy farms and slaughter livestock to deny them to Boer guerrillas, and thousands of Boer civilians (mostly women and children) were forcibly interned in concentration camps, where 26,000 died of various causes, mostly disease and starvation. Black Africans were also interned in concentration camps as well to prevent them from supplying the Boers; 20,000 died in the camps as well, largely due to the same causes as their Boer counterparts.

In addition to these scorched earth policies, British mounted infantry units were deployed to track down and engage individual Boer guerillas units; by this stage of the war, all battles being fought were small-scale skirmishes. Few combatants on other side were killed in action, with most casualties coming via disease. Despite the British efforts to defeat the Boer guerillas, they continued to refuse to surrender. This led Lord Kitchener to offer generous terms of surrender to remaining Boer leaders in an effort to bring an end to the conflict. Eager to ensure their fellow Boers were released from the concentration camps, the majority of Boer commanders accepted the British terms in the Treaty of Vereeniging, formally surrendering in May 1902. The former republics were transformed into the British colonies of the Transvaal and Orange River, and in 1910 were merged with the Natal and Cape Colonies to form the Union of South Africa, a self-governing dominion within the British Empire.

British military efforts were aided significantly by local forces from the Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, Rhodesia, as well as volunteers from the British Empire worldwide, particularly Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand. Later in the war, Black African recruits contributed increasingly to the British war effort. International public opinion was generally sympathetic to the Boers and hostile to the British. Even within the empire, there existed significant opposition to the war. As a result, the Boer cause attracted thousands of volunteers from neutral countries all over the world, including parts of the British Empire such as Ireland. Many consider the Boer War as marking the beginning of the questioning of the British Empire’s level of power and prosperity; this is due to the war’s surprisingly long duration and the unforeseen, discouraging losses suffered by the British fighting the “cobbled-together army” of Boers.

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