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IIf you’re a history buff, particularly military history, then the Battlefields Route in the Free State province will take you on a journey through the sites of some of the fiercest battles in South African history. If this is right up your alley of interest, book your trip to Bloemfontein and relive the blood, sweat and tears of the momentous Anglo-Boer War, aka the South African War.
Your walk through history begins at The Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein. Here, travellers with a penchant for history will be able to get an overview of the South African War (previously known as the Anglo-Boer War) and view hundreds of interesting artefacts collected during this turbulent time.
TThe South African War officially began on October 11, 1899, and lasted until May in 1902. After the Boers initially completed a series of successful battles in KwaZulu-Natal, the British called in a staggering amount of reinforcements and laid siege to various Boer strongholds in the Free State.
TThe battles fought in the Free State throughout 1900 played a significant role in shaping the remainder of the war.
Those who wish to visit the battlefields chronologically according to history, should do so in the following order: Paardeberg; Poplar Grove; Driefontein; Sannaspos; Mostertshoek; Jammerbergdrift; Sand River; Bidulphsberg; Yeomanry Hill; Roodewal; Surrender Hill; Doornkraal; and Groenkop.
The Battlefields Route
TThe heavily outnumbered Boers may have lost the South African War, but they certainly didn't go down without a fight. The locals boasted some of the finest marksmen in wartime history and the massive number of British casualties during the battles that took place in the Free State is testament to this.
At the battle of Mostertshoek on April 3 and 4, 1900, for example, the Boers killed 591 British troops while losing only six of their own.
Museums, statues, monuments and graves from the war serve as a reminder of the fierce fighting that took place in the battle for territory. Visiting the various battlefields will give history buffs a greater understanding of how difficult the average day would have been for soldiers on both sides.