Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 
detail of a portrait by H. L. Gates, 1927;
  in the National Portrait Gallery, London
By courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London

Arthur Conan Doyle,
The Great Boer War

London, Smith, Elder & Co., 1902


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries was the model for his own character "Dr. Watson." He dedicated his medical skills to the army during the South African (Boer) War.  He wrote the first edition of "The Great Boer War" in 1900, later updating it to cover the war to its end in 1902.  In the Preface to the First Edition, he wrote: "This book was begun in England and continued on board a steamer, but the greater part was written in a hospital tent in the intervals during the epidemic at Bloemfontein." 


Preface to the Final Edition

During the course of the war some sixteen Editions of this work have appeared, each of which was, I hope, a little more full and accurate than that which preceded it. I may fairly claim, however, that the absolute mistakes made have been few in number, and that I have never had occasion to reverse, and seldom to modify, the judgments which I have formed. In this final edition the early text has been carefully revised and all fresh available knowledge has been added within the limits of a single volume narrative. of the various episodes in the latter half of the war it is impossible to say that the material is available for a complete and final chronicle. By the aid, however, of the official dispatches, of the newspapers, and of many private letters, I have done my best to give an intelligible and accurate account of the matter. The treatment may occasionally seem too brief but some proportion must be observed between the battles of 1899-1900 and the skirmishes of 1901-1902.

My private informants are so numerous that it would be hardly possible, even if it were desirable, that I should quote their name~. of the correspondents upon whose work I have drawn for my materials, I would acknowledge my obligations to Messrs. Burleigh, Nevinson, Battersby, Stuart, Amery, Atkins, Baillie, Kinneir, Churchill, James, Ralph, Barnes, Maxwell, Pearce, Hamilton, and others. Especially I would mention the gentleman who represented the `Standard' in the last year of the war, whose accounts of Vlakfontein, Von Donop's Convoy, and Tweebosch were the only reliable ones which reached the public.

A. Conan Doyle
Undershaw, Hindhead: September 1902.


Preface to the First Edition

IT is possible that a fuller knowledge may give an entirely different meaning to some of the events of the Boer war. This account is compiled with as much accuracy as is attainable at this date, and with as much detail as a single volume will permit. The occasional judgments and criticisms on which I have ventured may be founded upon error, but at least they are made without either fear or favour. In frequent conversations with Boers I have endeavoured to get their views upon both political and military questions.

The book was begun in England and continued on board a steamer, but the greater part was written in a hospital tent in the intervals of duty during the epidemic at Bloemfontein. often the only documents which I had to consult were the convalescent officers and men who were under our care. Under these circumstances some errors may have crept in, but on the other hand I have had the inestimable advantage of visiting the scene of this great drama, of meeting many of the chief actors in it, and of seeing with my own eyes something of the actual operations.

There are many who have helped me in my task, but I especially acknowledge the co-operation of Mr. Blasson, of the Langman Hospital, now dead in the service of his country, and of Mr. Charles Terry, of Haslemere, who collected and arranged my material.

A. CONAN DOYLE.
Undershaw, Hindhead: September 1900.


Table of Contents

Preface To The Final Edition

 

Preface To The First Edition

 

Chapter I: The Boer Nations

 

Chapter II: The Cause of Quarrel

 

Chapter III: The Negotiations

 

Chapter IV: The Eve of War

 

Chapter V: Talana Hill

 

Chapter VI: Elandslaagte And Rietfontein 

 

Chapter VII: Battle of Ladysmith

 

Chapter VIII: Lord Methuen's Advance

 

Chapter IX: Battle of Magersfontein

 

Chapter X: Battle of Stormberg

 

Chapter XI: Battle of Colenso

 

Chapter XII: The Dark Hour

 

Chapter XIII: The Siege of Ladysmith

 

Chapter XIV: The Colesberg Operations

 

Chapter XV: Spion Kop

 

Chapter XVI: Vaalkranz

 

Chapter XVII: Buller's Final Advance

 

Chapter XVIII: The Siege And Relief of Kimberley

 

Chapter XIX: Paardeberg

 

Chapter XX: Roberts' Advance on Bloemfontein

 

Chapter XXI: Strategic Effects of Lord Roberts' March

 

Chapter XXII: The Halt At Bloemfontein

 

Chapter XXIII: The Clearing of The South-East

 

Chapter XXIV: The Siege of Mafeking

 

Chapter XXV: The March On Pretoria

Chapter XXVI: Diamond HillóRundle's Operations

 

Chapter XXVII: The Lines of Communication

 

Chapter XXVIII: The Halt At Pretoria

 

Chapter XXIX: The Advance to Komatipoort

 

Chapter XXX: The Campaign of De Wet

 

Chapter XXXI: The Guerilla Warfare in the Transvaal: Nooitgedacht

 

Chapter XXXII: The Second Invasion of Cape Colony.

 

Chapter XXXIII: The Northern Operations From January to April 1901

 

Chapter XXXIV: The Winter Campaign From April to September 1901

 

Chapter XXXV: The Guerilla Operations In Cape Colony

 

Chapter XXXVI: The Spring Campaign From September to December 1901

 

Chapter XXXVII: The Campaign of January to April 1902

 

Chapter XXXVIII: De la Rey's Campaign of 1902

 

Chapter XXXIX: The End

Map Index

Map: Northern Natal (231k)

Map: Orange River Colony, Southern Part (328k)

Map: Orange River Colony, Northern Part (287k)

Map: Southern Transvaal (345k)



Arthur Conan Doyle, The Great Boer War.
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Arthur Conan Doyle, The Great Boer War.
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Last Modified: 8:00 AM on December 16, 2007