Mafeking, Siege of


Mafeking, Siege of
(1899–1900)
   The most famous of three sieges fought during the Boer War of 1899–1902, in which Transvaal General Piet Cronjé surrounded Mafeking on October 13, 1899, trapping a small British and Cape colonial force consisting of 1,500 whites and 5,000 black Africans under Colonel Robert Baden-Powell. The garrison constructed forts, thereby convincing the Boers not to storm the defenses; but on October 24, Cronjé began to bombard the town with a large-caliber artillery piece. The siege became a boring affair, with shelling on both sides, and with Baden-Powell forced to institute strict rationing to stave off starvation inside the overcrowded town. Sorties and minor Boer attacks punctuated the siege, but neither side made any substantial progress. Two British relief columns, one approaching from the south and the other from the north, met on May 15, 1900, broke through the Boer lines the next day and relieved Mafeking that evening. Baden-Powell’s defense became popularized as one of the great epics of the Victorian period.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Flower-Smith, Malcolm, and Yorke, Edmund, eds. Mafeking: The Story of a Siege. New York: Covos-Day Books, 2000;
    Gardner, Brian. Mafeking: A Victorian Legend. London: Cassell, 1966.
   GREGORY FREMONT-BARNES

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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