A little biography of Christiaan De Wet

de-wet-portraitChristiaan Rudolf De Wet was born in 1854 in the Leeuwkop Farm in the district of Smithfield in the Oranje Vry Staat Republic. He was a Boer general, farmer, politic and rebel. His childhood was modest and humble living first in the farm of Leeuwkop and then in Dewetsdorp named after his father, Jacobus Ignatius De Wet. He began his military career in the 70’s decade and was a field cornet in the First Boer War (1880-1881) and participated in the battle of Majuba Hill where the Boers achieved a great win against the British troops and that ended the war the permitted the independence of the South African Republic, Transvaal. After the war he lived in his farm and in 1897 he became a member of the Volksraad, the Transvaal’s parliament. He began the Second Boer War as an acting commandant first in the Natal province and then in the West Transvaal under the command of General Piet Cronje. Is first winning as a commandant was in Sanna’s post where he, his brother Piet and the Orange Free State troops beated the British near Bloemfontein recovering the water supplies which resulted in around 2000 British dead because of enteric fever dysentery. He then attacked successfully a convoy in Reddersburg resulting in the surrender of the British troops involved in battle. After the British conquering of Pretoria and the fleeing of Kruger to Mozambique, De Wet alongside with fellow Boer generals Louis Botha and Koos De la Rey and others make a deal to keep the war against the British in a final effort to recovering the independence of the Boer republics. In this period of guerilla war De Wet was extremely successful being alongside with De la Rey the most successful Boer general in this period. He did several successful attacks against the british troops being able to liberate the major part of the western part of the Oranje Vry Staat. In January of 1901 he done an invasion of the Cape Colony but the invasion was not successful because of bad weather and the lack of help of the Cape Afrikaner generals. Towards the end of the war he remained relatively quiet because of the Free State isolation and lack of weapons. However he still inflicted a severe defeat to a British detachment at Groenkop. Various times the British try to capture De Wet but were always unsuccessful. When the war ended in 1902 De Wet represented the Oranje Vry Staat as is active State president because of the illness of President Marthinus Steyn. De Wet was one of the signatories of the Treaty of Vereeniging. In the years after the Second Boer War, De Wet, together with other Boer generals go to Europe to try to get support to the Boer cause. We and the other generals were unsuccessful in trying to change the terms of the treaty. In 1907 he was elected member of the Orange River colony parliament being minister of agriculture. In 1914 everything changed with the beginning of the First World War. South Africa that was strongly influenced by the UK support the United Kingdom against Germany and its allies. In Africa this led to the attack of the British forces to German colonies. The German South West Africa, Süd West Afrika, was attacked to the north by the Portuguese forces in Angola and to the South by South African force. This led to an insurrection of some Boers, the Maritz Rebellion because many Boers didn’t wanted to be involved in a foreign conflict and because some were sympathetic with the German cause, Germany had sent weapons to Boers in the Second Boer War and many Boers had German ancestry. De Wet alongside with other Boer generals of the Second Boer War participated in the Rebellion. He was defeated by General Louis Botha in November of 1914 at Mushroom Valley and was sentenced to 6 years of prison. He was released from prison after a year with the promise of doesn’t take an active part in politics. In 1915 German South West Africa was conquered and was administrated after that by South African government.

Christiaan De Wet was a true Boer patriot that fight for his land and people against a big opponent and that gave is freedom trying to keep the Boer-Afrikaner people out of a war that wasn’t them. He gave to us an example of bravery, patriotism and
fighting abilities that we need in this difficult moment.

1 Comment

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One response to “A little biography of Christiaan De Wet

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