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779 



UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA 




ri^ 



REPORT 



(IN THE 



OUTBREAK OF THE REBELLION 



and im. 



POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH 
REGARD TO ITS SUPPRESSION. 



$h*sentril to both Douses of parliament bij (Eomuwitb of |jis Jftajestg. 

April, 1915. 




LONDON: 

PRINTED (7NDEB THE AUTHORITY OF HIS MAJ KS'l \'S STATIONERY OFFICE 

By DARLING and SON, Limited, Bacon Street, E. 



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T. FISHEB CNWIN, London, W.C. 



1915. 



"Cd. 7874.1 l'nn M. 



UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA. 



REPORT 



ON THE 



OUTBREAK OF THE REBELLION 



AND THE 



POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH 
REGARD TO ITS SUPPRESSION. 



Jkesentcb to both Douses of parliament bij Contmanb of fjis (itlajcstg. 

April, 1915. 




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FEINTED UNDER THE AUTHORITY UF HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE 

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T. FISHER UNWIN, London, AV.C. 

1915. | 

fCd. 7874.1 Price 8d, 



13H ^ 



The GOVERNOR-GENERAL to the SECRETARY OF STATE. 
(Received 24th March, 1915.) 

Governor-General's Office, 
Sir, Cape Town, 3rd March, 1915.. 

I have the honour to transmit to you, for your information, twenty copies of 
a Report, which has been laid before the Union Parliament, on the outbreak of the 
rebellion, and the policy of the Government with regard to its suppression. 

2. General Smuts explained in the House of Assembly that this Report had 
been written by Mr. Leo Fouche, Professor of History in the Transvaal University 
College, Pretoria, who had been afforded free access to the papers of the Department 
of Defence. 

I have, &c, 

BUXTON, 

Go vernor- General . 
The Right Hon. Lewis Harcourt, M.P., 
&c, &c, &c, 

Colonial Office, 
London. 



PREFACE. 



This Report consists of two sections, the first dealing with the outbreak of the 
recent rebellion, the second with the policy pursued by the Government with regard 
to its suppression. 

The latter section confines itself exclusively to the efforts of the Government to 
restore peace without bloodshed, and subsequently to induce the rebels m the field 
to surrender without further bloodshed. No attempt is made to describe the military 
measures by means of which the rebellion was ultimately brought to an end. 

The first section, in which the outbreak of the rebellion is sketched, had to be 
compiled under difficulties. A mass of material in the hands of the Government 
could not be used, as it forms important evidence in the cases of individuals on trial 
or awaiting trial. In the case of certain German agents, investigations are still 
being pursued, and it would be premature to disclose the information so far collected. 
On certain points, again, the available evidence had not yet been properly sifted 
at the time of writing. 

It is therefore possible that the narrative may require subsequent amplification 
as to details. 

It is desired to point out that the narrative of events has been compiled in as 
objective a manner as possible, and that it contains no statement which is not borne 
out by evidence in possession of the Government. 



322114 



(4r,63— 2.) Wt. — G 385. 3000. 4/13. D k S. G 1. A 2 



CONTENTS 



PART I. 

THE OUTBREAK OF THE REBELLION. 



I. — South Africa and the European War — 

Par. 1. — War between England and Germany expected 

Par. 2. — The Seer Van Rensburg 

Par. 3. — The Treurfontein Meeting ... 

II. — Maritz and his Schemes— 

Par. 1. — Lieutenant-Colonel Maritz ... 

Par. 2. — His Schemes ... 

Par. 3. — Proofs of his treasonable Designs... 

III. — The Conspiracy of the 15th September — 

Par. 1.— Outlines of the Plot 

Par. 2. — Ramifications of the Conspiracy ... 

Par. 3. — Position of General De la Rey 

Par. 4. — Maritz at Pretoria 

Par. 5. — Disquieting News from Europe 

Par. 6. — Union Government prepares to attack German 

Par. 7.— Nakab 

Par. 8. — Final Preparations for the 1 5th September 

Par. 9.— The 15th of September 

Par. 10. — Potchefstroom Training Camp ... 

IV.— The Treachery of Maritz— 

Par. 1. — Preparations for a new Conspiracy 
Par. 2. — Maritz at Upington ... 
Par. 3. — Maritz throws off the Mask 

Par. 4. — Maritz's Ultimatum 

Par. 5. — Martial Law proclaimed 

V.— Rebellion in Transvaal and Free State— 
Par. 1. — The Kopjes Meeting of the 13th October. 
Par. 2. — A Deputation to the Government ... 
Par. 3. — The Government prepares to crush Maritz 
Par. 4. — Veldkornet Claassen mutinies 
Par. 5. — Beyers takes the Field 
Par. 6. — The Kopjes Meeting of the 22nd October 
Par. 7. — Open Rebellion 

VI. — Aims and Methods of the Rebel Leaders ., 



South- West Africa 



Page 

6 
6 

7 



12 
12 
12 
13 
14 
14 
15 
15 
16 
18 

20 
21 
24 
25 

26 



27 
28 
29 
29 
30 
31 
31 

32 



PART II. 



POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH REGARD TO THE SUPPRESSION OF THE 

REBELLION. 



I. — Efforts of Government to Restore Peace — 
Par. 1. — President Steyn invited to mediate 
Par. 2. — Terms offered to Rebels in Transvaal 

II. — Negotiations with General Beyers — 

Par. 1. — Beyers makes Proposals to Government 

Par. 2. — Beyers takes hostile Action before his Proposals can be considered 
Par. 3. — Beyers goes to President Steyn 

III. — President Steyn's Efforts for Peace — 

Par. 1. — Attempts to induce De Wet to meet President Steyn ... 

Par. 2. — De Wet's Evasions 

Par. 3. — His real Intentions ... 

Par. 4. — His active Hostilities, while Government Forces stand fast 

Par. 5. — Attitude of General Beyers 

Par. 6. — Conclusion 

IV. — De Wet wants War — 

Par. 1. — A changed Situation 

Par. 2. — De Wet refuses a Conference 

Par. 3. — Who is to blame ? 



34 
36 

38 
41 
42 

43 
44 
46 
46 
47 
47 



47 
48 

IS 



Page 
V. — The Government Takes Action— 

Par. 1. — Beyers wishes to confer with De Wet ... ... ... ... ... ... 49 

Par. 2. — His Request Refused 49 

Par. 3. — Policy of Government explained ... ... ... ... ... .. ... 49 

p ar . 4. — After Mushroom Valley, De Wet wishes to negotiate 51 

Par. 5. — Government refuses a Conference... ... ... ... ... ... ... 51 

VI. — Efforts to induce Rebels in the Field to Surrender — 

Par. 1. — Instructions with regard to Rebels surrendering voluntarily 52 

Par. 2.— Effect of the Notification of the 12th November 53 

Par. 3. — Period within which to surrender extended for Rank and File of Rebels ... 54 

Par. 4. — Live Stock oi all Rebel Leaders still in the Field to be confiscated ... ... 54 

VII. — Other Efforts for Peace in the Orange Free State 55 

VIII. — Poltcy of the Government during the last stage of the Rebellion ... 57 



APPENDIX. 



A. — Resignation of General Beyers — 

Correspondence between General Beyers and the Minister of Defence 

B. — Documents dealing with the Treachery of Maritz — 

(1) Extracts from Report of Captain Muller 

(2) Affidavit by Captain Malan 

(3) Affidavit by Captain Louw 

(4) Affidavit by J. A. L. van der Merwe ... 

(5) Agreement between Maritz and the Governor of Ger 

(6) Proclamation by the Governor-General of the Union 

(7) Proclamation by Maritz 

O. — Correspondence between General Botha, President Steyn, and General 
Smuts, dealing with the Efforts to obviate Bloodshed 



man South West Africa 



61 

63 
63 
65 
66 
66 
67 
67 

69 



Part I. 



The Outbreak of the Rebellion. 



I.—SOUTH AFRICA AND THE EUROPEAN WAR. 



' 1. War between England and Germany expected. — The growing hostility 
between England and Germany, which had been so marked a feature of inter- 
national relations during the last decade, did not pass unobserved in South Africa. 
With many in this country (as elsewhere throughout the world) it had become an 
accepted belief that war between the two countries was inevitable, and that at no 
distant date they would be engaged in a deadly struggle for supremacy. 

The outbreak of the great war in Europe at the beginning of August, involving 
England and Germany and bringing them to grips at last, affected South Africa 
immediately and profoundly./ Although the great majority of Dutch South Africans 
had no sympathy whatever with German aims or Prussian ambition, they were, on 
the other hand, not very passionately anti-German either. They could not be 
expected to feel towards Germany as the average Englishman did. 

Only a handful of them, whether from ties of blood and kinship, or for other 
reasons, were pro-German in their sympathies. In the two late Republics, however, 
there were many who quite naturally regretted their lost independence. The regret 
might be merely sentimental, but sentiment has to be reckoned with, particularly in 
times of great excitement, when it easily leads to deeds. It is not surprising, then, 
that in the ferment aroused by the gigantic struggle in Europe, which seemed to be 
shaking the world to its foundations, young men began to see visions and old men to 
dream dreams of what the outcome might be for South Africa. 

The times were not without their signs. There was a seer in Lichtenburg who 
had visions of strange import. Years ago and long before anyone in this country had 
dreamt of war, he had beheld a great fight of bulls, six or seven of them, engaged in 
bloody combat ; a grey bull had emerged victorious from the contest. The bulls signi- 
fied the great nations of Europe and the grey bull was Germany. Thousands had 
discussed this strange vision, and had remembered its prophetic character when later 
war actually broke out. The vision seemed ominous. Germany was predestined to 
triumph.. 

2.' — The Seer Van Rensburg. — The seer was Nicolaas van Rensburg, of Lichten- 
burg, a simple and illiterate farmer. He was a prophet not without honour in his 
own country. On many occasions he had given proof positive of the possession of 
extraordinary powers of prevision, so men said and believed. It would be out of 
place here to give examples of the many telepathic forecasts (or happy guesses) with 
which he was credited. It is certain that he had a great hold on the imagination 
of thousands of his people. During the Anglo-Boer War some commandos, when 
Van Rensburg was in their laager, neglected all precautions. If " Oom Niklaas " 
declared that the English were not in the neighbourhood, it was a waste of energy 
to post sentries and keep a look-out. 

An extraordinary (and apparently quite authentic) vision, correctly foretelling 
certain events leading to the conclusion of peace, had established his reputation. 
His fame spread throughout the land, and everywhere strange tales were told of his 
wonderful gift. 

His reputation had, strangely enough, not diminished since the war. This was, 
perhaps, due to several causes. He had never attempted to exploit his " gift " and 
impressed most of those who came in contact with him with his apparent sincerity. 
If he duped others, it seemed he also duped himself. Moreover — and this was 
perhaps the secret of his continued success — his " visions " were invariably symbolic 



and mysterious ; they possessed an adaptability of character that was truly Delphic. 
Indeed, his hearers were compelled to put their own interpretation upon his visions. 
The seer seldom pretended to understand or explain them himself. 

General De la Rey took a great interest in the seer, who had belonged to his 
commandos during the Anglo-Boer War. Van Rensburg, again, had the greatest 
admiration for General De la Rey, and had frequently hinted to his circle that great 
things were in store for the General. One of his visions had been well known to 
General De la Rey and his friends for some years. The seer had beheld the number 
15 on a dark cloud, from which blood issued, and then General De la Rey returning 
home without his hat. Immediately afterwards came a carriage covered with flowers. 
What these things portended, Van Rensburg could not say. He believed that they 
signified some high honour for the General. 

3. The Treurfontein Meeting. — In the Western Transvaal — in the Lichtenburg- 
Wolmaransstad area — owing, perhaps, to the presence there of the seer Van Rens- 
burg, the feeling aroused by the war was most intense. 

There is evidence that many in this area had been for long living in the belief 
that a war between Germany and England was bound to come and that when the day 
came an effort w r ould be made to restore the independence of the Transvaal. 

The mere prospect of war between Germany and England was sufficient to pro- 
duce a rebellious movement. It will be remembered that war was declared between 
these two countries on the 4th of August. Already, on the 3rd August, Commandant 
F. G. A. Wolmarans (of Ward Onder Hartsrivier) was warning his friends that " in 
a short while they would get orders to go to Treurfontein to attend a meeting. The 
people would assemble and the ' Vierkleur ' would be hoisted." When asked : 
"What then?" Wolmarans replied: 'From there we shall go to the German 
Border for ammunition." Asked further as to the attitude of the Government, 
Wolmarans said : " The Government is all right." 

It is impossible to overlook the significance of the remark about the German 
Border. It shows that Wolmarans (who was. in the confidence of Major Kemp and 
others) knew something of the schemes and the position of Maritz. 

When the war at last broke out the effect in Lichtenburg was instantaneous. 
The prophecies of Van Rensburg were eagerly recalled, and it was remembered that 
he had foretold a day on which the independence of the Transvaal would be restored. 
One officer actually called up his men to be in readiness on Sunday, 9th August, as 
that would be the day on which the prophecy would be fulfilled. After this, too, 
certain individuals could be seen daily cleaning their rifles and cartridges in order to 
be ready for the day. Several men in this district claimed to be in regular communi- 
cation with German South-West Africa before August, 1914. Within a week of 
the declaration of war between England and Germany the district was further pro- 
foudly stirred by the news (now become generally known) that a great meeting of 
local burghers was to be held at Treurfontein on the loth of August, and that certain 
local officers were commandeering their burghers to come to this meeting armed and 
fully equipped for active service. Careful inquiries by other local officers brought to 
light the following facts : — 

Veld Kornet I. E. Claassen and Commandant F. G. A. Wolmarans, of Ward 
Onder Hartsrivier, had been commandeering their own burghers, as well as their 
political friends, since the first week of August to come to the meeting which was 
to be held at Treurfontein on the 15th. The instructions given to these men were 
that they were to come with rifle, horse, saddle, and bridle, and as much ammunition 
and provisions as they could manage to bring. 

Commandant Wolmarans personally instructed his veldcornets to commandeer 
their men in this way. The commandeering was carried out by means of " com- 
mandeerbriefjes," signed by Claassen and Wolmarans, and also personallv bv word 
of mouth. 

The meeting was to be addressed by General De la Rey, and it was generally 
believed that the assembled burghers would march on Potchefstroom immediately 
after the meeting. 

The prophecies of Van Rensburg had a great deal to do with the excitement 
which had been produced locally. The strange vision of the number 15, which had 
long been common knowledge, was now discussed with intense interest. The 15, it 
was said, signified the 15th of August, the day of the meeting. That would be the 
day, which had been so long expected — the day of liberation. ' Van Rensburg was 
now the oracle. His prophecies with regard" to the great war had been signally 



8 

fulfilled. Germany was at grips with England and her triumph was looked upon 
as inevitable. 

The day had arrived to strike a blow for their lost independence. Van Rensburg 
assured his following that the Union Government was " finished." Not a shot would 
be fired. The revolution would be complete and bloodless. 

Between the 10th and the 15th the plotters in Lichtenburg were actively pre- 
paring for the day. There is evidence that German secret agents were working in 
concert with them. The 15th would mark the beginning of a new era. When 
doubters asked how they could be so certain that the 15 signified a day of the month 
— and of the month of August in particular — they were scornfully if illogically told 
that " in God's time a month sooner or later made no difference." 

The Government had been informed by its local supporters of these alarming 
preparations. It was quite clear that an attempt was to be made on the 15th to start 
a rebellion. Everything would depend on the meeting which was to be addressed 
by General De la Rey. General De la Rey's position in the Western Transvaal was 
unique. He possessed an unrivalled influence and was looked up to as the uncrowned 
King of the West. His attitude at the meeting would sway the mass of his adherents 
and decide the question of peace or war. 

General Botha summoned General De la Rey to Pretoria some days before the 
meeting, and was able to persuade him to use his best endeavours to calm the excited 
feeling Avhich had been aroused and to use his influence to see that no untoward 
incidents should occur. 

On Saturday, the 15th, the great meeting was held. About 800 burghers were 
present. General De la Rey addressed them and explained the. situation m Europe. 
He exhorted his audience to remain cool and calm and to await events. After the 
address " a strange and unusual silence " was observed. A resolution was passed 
unanimously expressing complete confidence in the Government to act in the best 
interests of South Africa in the present world crisis. The address seemed to have 
had a very good effect. The burghers appeared to have taken their leader's advice 
to heart, as they dispersed quietly to their homes. 

All danger of a rebellious movement had apparently been averted. 



II.— MARITZ AND HIS SCHEMES. 



1. Lieut. -Colonel Maritz.— At the outbreak of the War, the defences of the 
north-western districts of the Cape Province, where the Union territory marches 
with that of German South- West Africa, were in charge of Lieut. -Colonel Solomon 
G. Maritz. 

Maritz had distinguished himself in the Anglo-Boer War, and, although quite 
without education, had given many proofs of a natural aptitude for military opera- 
tions. He had fought for a long time in the north-western districts of the Cape 
Colony, and had come to know the country and its people thoroughly. 

At the conclusion of peace in 1902 he left South Africa,* and tried his fortune, 
first in Madagascar and afterwards in German South- West Africa. Here he was 
of considerable service to the Germans during the campaign against the Hereros, 
when he organized a transport service, composed mostly of Dutch South Africans, 
which did very good work under very trying conditions. During his residence in 
German South- West Africa he had made many friends among the Germans, as well 
as among the Boers settled in German territory. He subsequently moved to the 
Orange Free State and entered the Union Police. 

On the organization of the Union Defence Forces he had been offered a commis- 
sion on the staff of the Active Citizen Force. He passed through the Military 
Training School at Bloemfontein, and at the beginning of 1913 he was appointed 
to command Military District No. 12, comprising the north-western districts of the 
Cape Province. At the beginning of August, 1914, he was appointed Lieutenant- 
Colonel in command of the Union border in the direction of Kakamas and Upington. 

This appointment was made on the recommendation of General Beyers, and 
had been sanctioned by the Minister of Defence only very reluctantly, on the repeated 
and urgent demands of the Commandant- General. 

* He was apprehensive of the possible consequences of certain actions of his during the war. 



It appears that Maritz did not confine himself to his military duties, but also 
took a keen interest in politics. Some considerable time before the European War 
broke out it was stated in the Transvaal that Maritz " was working for the Hertzog 
party in the north-western districts." This statement was made by a duly accredited 
official of the Nationalist Party, who subsequently became a fellow conspirator with 
Maritz and a prominent rebel leader. 

It is certain that since the conclusion of the Anglo-Boer War Maritz had 
brooded over schemes for re-establishing a republic in South Africa. He hoped to 
do so with German help, and had apparently prepared for the day when Germany 
and England should be at war with each other, in order to put his project into 
execution. . 

From the moment war was declared between England and Germany Maritz was 
in close and constant touch with the German authorities across the border. Later, 
when he was in open rebellion against the Union Government, he showed his corre- 
spondence with the Germans to certain Union officers. From this it was evident that 
he had been in communication with the Germans since the first week in August. 

2. His Schemes. — The aims and aspirations of Maritz are best explained in 
his own words. On the 9th of October, 1914, the day on which he had begun his 
rebellion, he declared to a Union Intelligence Officer that ' he first conceived the 
idea of liberating South Africa when he was at the Military School at Bloemfontein." 
He was at the Military School from the 1st of July to the 9th of November, 1912. 
Tt is known that treasonable schemes were discussed between Maritz and others at 
this time, and that he opened communications at this period with the Governor- 
General of German South-West Africa. The name of his intermediary is also 
known. ■ 

If we are to believe Maritz further, he was the leading spirit in this conspiracy. 
The Intelligence Officer above mentioned, in his report of the interview, states that 
Maritz " seemed to resent the insinuation that Beyers was the heart and soul of the 
movement. He stated that Beyers had been ' put on by him.' He seemed very 
anxious to have any and all the credit that might be attached to the enterprise." 

To the officers under his own command, whom he had wholly or partially cor- 
rupted, Maritz made similar statements. Several of these officers have since made 
sworn declarations, from some of which the following extracts are taken. At 
Keimoes he addressed his men on the 12th October, " assuring us officers that com- 
munications with the Germans had been carried on for the last two and a half years, 
at the same time assuring us that persons of high standing in the Transvaal and Free 
State were at the head of affairs."* He gave no names on this occasion, in order not 
to get these persons of standing into trouble. 

With others he was less reticent. An officer who had helped him actively with 
the disarmament of his own maxim section at Van Rooisvlei, and whom he trusted, 
has made the following statement : " Maritz always gave me to understand that he 
was in constant touch (onderhandelingen) with Generals De Wet, Beyers, Hertzog, 
and Kemp, in order to become free, since England was now involved in war. I 
understood from Maritz that these communications had been taking place during the 
last two or three years. The leaders concerned were Generals De Wet, Hertzog, 
Beyers, and Kemp. These names were mentioned in his address to his troops at Van 
Rooisvlei. He stated that these persons were in the movement."! 

It is obvious that these statements of Maritz cannot be accepted without careful 
examination. He was embarking upon a most dangerous and disgraceful career of 
treason, and required potent arguments to overcome the natural reluctance of those 
whom he wished to drag with him upon his criminal course. 

Nothing was better calculated to remove the scruples of his followers than the 
assurance that respected leaders of the people, men with great reputations, were in 
the movement with him. It is therefore not surprising that Maritz made free with 
the names of prominent South Africans who were known or supposed to be in opposi- 
tion to the' Government, and that, by a diligent use of assertions like these, he 
succeeded in seducing a large number' of men from their allegiance to the Union. 

3. Proofs of his treasonable Designs. — Quite apart from Maritz's own asser- 
tions however, there is ''evidence which proves that he had been in communication 
with the German authorities for some years v Two independent witnesses assert 
that Maritz had made arrangements with the Germans before he was appointed to 
the command of the north-western districts (i.e., before January, 1913). 

• Affidavit by Lieut. Karel Rood. f Affidavit by Capt. A. S, Louw, Appendix, p. 65. 

4568 B 



10 

As for his relations with Transvaal and Free State leaders, there is no doubt 
that he was in communication with certain people in the Free State and the Trans- 
vaal since August, 1914. Further, an officer who was taken prisoner by Maritz at 
the time of the latter's rebellion overheard a discussion between two of Maritz's most 
trusted confederates (Major Ben Coetzee and Commandant P. de Villiers), in which 
the name of the man used as intermediary between Maritz and Genera] Beyers and 
others was mentioned. 

One of Maritz's most trusted confederates, Andries Kampher (" Koper "), who 
had fought with him as a rebel in the Anglo-Boer War, and who is now a member 
of Maritz's " Provisional Government," stated on Friday, the 7th August, at the 
farm Onap, in Bushmanland, that " Maritz would not fight against the Germans. 
This he knew well, because Maritz had an agreement of long standing with the 
Germans." 

Kampher had been in close touch with Maritz for a long time past. On the 7th 
August, he met Maritz by special arrangement at Brandvlei, and the two passed a 
whole night together, walking about in earnest conversation. 

That same day (7th August), Maritz, in the course of a remarkable speech to the 
inhabitants of Brandvlei, stated that " we in South Africa have no enemy unless we 
make one ourselves." He further declared that he would not invade German South- 
West Africa, giving as his reason that the Active Citizen Force was too badly 
equipped and incapable of dealing with such well armed and disciplined forces as 
the Germans possessed. 

Further light is thrown on the schemes of Maritz by an examination of his rela- 
tions with P. J. Joubert, who is an intimate personal friend, and fought with him 
in the Anglo-Boer War and in German South- West Africa. Joubert had been 
living for years in German South-West Africa, where he owns a farm near Keet- 
manshoop. 

During July, 1914, Joubert was in the Orange Free State on some mysterious 
business. He returned to German South-West Africa at the beginning of August. 

On the 4th of August he was at Kakamas, where he informed one Van der Merwe 
that he expected war would be declared between Germany and England. He was 
going to his farm near Keetmanshoop to collect his movables, in order to return to 
the Cape Province. Joubert then left for German South-West Africa, and was 
again seen at Kakamas on the 13th August. He then told the same Van der Merwe 
that he had had to flee for his life from the Germans, that he had to swim through 
the Orange River. (This story was entirely untrue.) 

Joubert now stayed at Kakamas with Albert Stadler, subsequently the rebel 
commandant under Maritz. 

On the 5th August Stadler sent the following telegram to Maritz at Calvinia : 
" Joubert arrived safely yesterday evening. Everything quiet and peaceful. Tele- 
graph particulars." 

Maritz was at this time returning from Pretoria, where he had been in consul- 
tation with General Beyers. He arrived at Calvinia on the 17th, and the same day 
dispatched the following telegram to Stadler: "11/83. Very urgent. August 17. 
If little Joubert* is still there, tell him to wait until I come to Kakamas. I leave 
here to-morrow morning early.. If he has left, telegraph me immediately where he 
is. You may send any telegrams to me O.H.M.S. Show this telegram to Post Office 
as your authority. Reply immediately." 

Stadler and Joubert were not at Kakamas at this time. On the 19th Maritz 
sent a telegram to the Postmaster at Kakamas : " Urgent. Find Joubert imme- 
diately and ask him to reply whether he will wait at Kakamas. I must meet him. 
Stadler can perhaps give you information." 

The same day Stadler telegraphed to Maritz from Keimoes : " Urgent. Joubert 
still here. Waiting for you." 

Joubert was at this time " generally considered a German spy "t by local people. 
Maritz, however, appointed him his Staff Captain, and by means of urgent repre- 
sentations at headquarters managed to get this appointment confirmed. 

Maritz, as we have seen, had announced that he was leaving Calvinia for 
Kakamas early on the morning of the 18th, in order to find Joubert. He did not 
leave Calvinia until the 21st. On that day he sent the following telegram to General 
Beyers at Pretoria : " Urgent. Following telegram received from Commandant 
Stadler, Kakamas, begins : ' Official news received from German West that all cattle 

* " Joubertje " in original, t Intelligence report, 



11 

must be removed from south to north. Africanders refuse to do this. According 
to report they will employ firearms if necessary.' I leave to-day by motor to prevent 
difficulties.* Could not leave sooner." 

In the meantime the affair at Schuitdrift took place. Some Africanders (the 
Liebenbergs) living in German South-West Africa had fled to Union territory with 
their cattle. This was in consequence of the German order to move all cattle north- 
wards, as mentioned in Stadler's telegram. A German police patrol had attempted 
to arrest them, whereupon the Liebenbergs had fired on the police. Maritz tele- 
graphed to General Beyers from Kakamas on the 23rd : " Arrived here this a.m. 
Saw report at S.A.M.R. camp re fight between refugees and Germans on Orange 
River islands. Going down there and from there direct to Calvinia. Reach there 
Tuesday morning. Take no steps till I report to you." 

The anxiety of Maritz over the Schuitdrift affair was very natural. All his 
schemes were based upon the cultivation of the most cordial relations between Ger- 
mans and Dutch. He had already made it clear to his friends that he would never 
attack German South- West Africa. The action of the Liebenbergs in firing on a 
German police patrol threatened to upset all his plans. It would cause bad blood 
between Germans and Dutch, and embroil the races whom he hoped to unite in his 
cause. Maritz went to investigate the occurrences at Schuitdrift. He crossed the 
river and proceeded into German territory and conversed by telephone with the 
Officer Commanding the German forces at Warmbad. He returned to Calvinia on 
the 25th, and there publicly spoke with the greatest indignation of the conduct of 
the Liebenbergs in firing on the Germans. They ought, he declared, to be hanged 
or shot. He also stated privately that he would hand over the Liebenbergs to the 
Germans, as they had committed nothing short of murder. As a matter of fact, 
German patrols were during the latter part of August seeking for the Liebenbergs 
on Union Territory, near Pofadder (not far from Pella Mission Station). It is 
unthinkable that the Germans would have ventured upon such a course unless they 
were satisfied as to the attitude of Maritz, the supreme military authority in those 
parts. Their action in thus violating Union territory at this point was most pro- 
bably the direct outcome of Maritz's communications with Warmbad, above described. 

On the day of his return to Calvinia (25th August), Maritz telegraphed to 
General Beyers : " Am back from Kakamas. Everything is quiet and peaceful and 
no danger on border. I think it would be good if you could come down to Upington 
personally after the 7th September, to see burghers, t Reply when you can come. 
I send my report to-day by post re occurrences and shooting of German soldiers by 
Africanders. There is no truth whatever in all rumours re advance (overkomen) 
of enemy." 

Two things strike us in this telegram. In the first place, Maritz's statements 
that " there is no danger on border," and that " there is no truth whatever in all 
rumours re advance of enemy." In the second place, his desire that Beyers should 
come to Upington to see the burghers. Both these points are explained by the 
schemes he was then maturing. 

Two other telegrams dispatched by Maritz the same day are also significant. 
They refer to his friend Joubert. One was addressed to the Magistrate at Spring- 
bok : " Just arrived from German Border and Pella. Rumours false. All quiet. 
Joubert with me at present. Appointed adjutant my staff." The other telegram 
was to Colonel Skinner, Defence Headquarters, Pretoria : " August 25. Captain 
Joubert just arrived from German South- West can give you full and reliable infor- 
mation re German South- West. If such is required he may go to Pretoria." 

Authority was given for Joubert to proceed to Pretoria. He came about the 
beginning of September, and had an interview with Generals Botha and Smuts. He 
professed to be very anxious to serve the Government with his intimate knowledge 
of the country, and managed in this way to gain some knowledge of the general plan 
of the projected attack on the German Colony. 

According to Joubert's own statement, however, his real object in coming to 
Pretoria was " to see Generals Beyers and De la Rey."| He certainly saw General 
Beyers on this occasion. Joubert's later movements are referred to in a subsequent 



* This refers to Maritz himself, 

t It had been decided to call out the local Active Citizen Force for training; at Upington during 
September. 

\ Statement made by Joubert, after his capture, to a police officer. 

4563 15 .' 



\y 



Is 

chapter. It may, however, be stated here that an officer who inquired iocally into 
the origin of the " Maritz rebellion " reports that " Captain P. J. Joubert appears 
to have played the greatest part in engineering the rebellion." 



III.— THE CONSPIRACY OF THE 15th SEPTEMBER. 



It was not only in the Western Transvaal that the European War had produced 
a profound effect. Its course was being carefully watched in the Eree State and at 
Pretoria. It is an established fact that'during the month of August a conspiracy 
was organized which was to lead to a general rising on the 15th of September. This 
was a much more serious affair than the abortive attempt to engineer a rising at 
Treurfontein on the 15th of August. 

The leader in this conspiracy was General C. F. Beyers, Commandant- General 
of the Active Citizen Force of the Union. With him in the plot were Lieut. -Colonel 
Maritz and a number of prominent men who are now in prison awaiting trial. 

1. Outlines of the Plot. — The following extract, taken from a voluntary state- 
ment made in prison by one of the most prominent of the conspirators, gives the 
groundwork of the plot : — 

" The general impression I gained from Beyers was that, if pressure was 
brought to bear, the Government would resign rather than fire on its own 
people; and that arrangements had been made with the German authorities, 
in the event of their winning the European struggle, to guarantee the Free 
State and Transvaal their freedom; and I was under the impression that 
Maritz was the one that had made the arrangements with the German authori- 
ties. I had questioned Beyers on these points at my previous interviews and 
he had informed me that Maritz had made arrangements with the Germans." 

2. Ramifications of the Conspiracy.-^In and around Pretoria there were many 
who were prepared to join General Beyers in an attempt to overthrow the Govern- 
ment. In the Free State there was General De Wet, whose energy and iron deter- 
mination were well known. He could be trusted to organize the rebellion in his 
Province. Maritz was already far advanced with his plans and could be counted 
upon not only to carry on his propaganda of sedition among his own people, but 
also to keep an open door for his German friends, with whom he was known to be 
in treasonable communication. In the Western Transvaal there were already 
cheering signs of discontent, which by careful fanning could be blown into a blaze 
of revolt. 

Major J. Kemp, District Staff Officer for Military District No. 7 (which 
embraces the Western Transvaal), was a leader in the movement and would be able 
to do a great deal with the help of his friends among the Defence Force officers of 
his area. In conjunction with General Beyers he had organized the Rifle Associa- 
tions in the west, and there are signs that a policy of careful discrimination in the 
selection of officers had been consistently carried out. It was known that the Active 
Citizen regiments of the west would concentrate on the 2nd of September at Potchef- 
stroom for their annual training. With good management they could perhaps be 
won over and induced to mutiny. These regiments would form a most useful 
nucleus for a striking force. 

All the members of the Government, as well as most of the heads of Government 
departments, would be at Capetown for the Session of Parliament. It would thus 
be possible to strike a paralyzing blow from Potchefstroom before anything could 
be done to avert it. 

3. Position of General De la Rey. — A very important factor in the situation 
in the Western Transvaal was General De la Rey. If he could be induced to join in 
the conspiracy, it would be an immense gain to the cause, as his personal influence 
was very great. Should he oppose the movement, it would be a serious blow to the 
plotters, as neither Beyers nor Kemp could hope to do anything against General De 
la Rey in the west. 

There is evidence to prove that General Beyers set himself systematically to 
work on General De la Rey's mind in order to induce him to join the conspiracy. 
General De la Rey was known to hold strong religious views, which coloured hio 



is 

whole outlook. The seer Van Rensburg, who was always full of religious talk, had 
in this way acquired a considerable amount of influence over General De la Rey. 
There is the best of evidence (General Beyers' own statement) for the belief that he 
himself did not scruple to work on General De la Rey's mind through his religious 
feelings. 

The following letter and telegrams form part of the correspondence which 
passed between Beyers and General De la Rey at this time. 

On the 11th of August General Beyers wrote the following letter to General 
De la Rey : — 

Translation.] 

" 76/41. 
• 11th August, 1914. 
" General De la Rey, 

" Lichtenburg. 
" Dear General, — Matters are serious, and I should like to discuss things 
with you. I do not mean that you must come to Pretoria specially for the 
purpose, but should you be coming to Pretoria, please be so kind as to let 
me know and to come and see me at my office. 

" With kind regards, 

" Sincerely yours, 

6 C. F. Beyers. 

" The commandants of the Transvaal have been called up to meet me here 
next Friday morning: in connection with the European War. 

" C. F. B." 

The same day (11th) General Beyers received a cipher telegram* from Major 
J. Kemp, District Staff Officer at Potchefstroom. It proved to be undecipherable, 
and Kemp was asked to repeat the telegram in clear. t Thereupon the following 
telegram was received from Kemp : — 

Translation.] 

" I have to report that I have been to Lichtenburg and that I was 

informed that a public meeting is to be held at Treurfontein on Saturday, 

loth inst. Public feeling appears to be excited, and I consider it advisable 

that you attend the meeting in order to enlighten public." 

On the 12th General Beyers sent the following telegram to General De la Rey : — 

Translation.] 

" I learn you will address meeting Treurfontein Saturday. Is it not 
possible to postpone meeting, so that you can meet me here Friday to discuss 
urgent and important points ?"1 

The meeting, as we have seen, was not postponed, but took place on the 15th 
inst. 

4. Maritz at Pretoria. — Maritz had arrived at Pretoria on the flth of August, 
the same day on which General Beyers expresses a desire to see General De la Rey. 
Hearing the same day from Kemp of the proposed meeting at Treurfontein, he next 
telegraphs to General De la Rey, asking him to postpone the meeting and to meet 
him at Pretoria on Friday, the 14th, '' to discuss urgent and important points." 

Maritz was to leave Pretoria on the 14th, § and it is not difficult to guess that 
General Beyers would have liked to confront General De la Rey with Maritz and 
with the proofs of German support which Maritz had most certainly brought with 
him. Maritz's account of his own preparations on the Orange River and his German 
treaty would have been striking evidence of the progress of the conspiracy and 
potent arguments against hesitation. 

The visit of Maritz to Pretoria (11th to 14th August) was a most important 
stage in the development of the conspiracy. It settled the question of German 
guarantees and German assistance in the most satisfactory way, and, synchronizing 
as it did with the meeting of the Transvaal commandants, it enabled the chief 
conspirators to ascertain personally the state of feeling among the leading fighting 

* No. 264. t No. 2314. J No. 2347. 5 He did "leave" on 'the 14th. 



14 

ineii of the Transvaal. It also gave them the opportunity of sounding their 
supporters and of gaining new adherents. 

Thus, a few days after the meeting on the 14th an ex-officer, who had shortly 
before resigned his commission in the Defence Force, received a message from Maritz 
and Kemp through General Muller, saying " I was a fool to resign as I might have 
been useful. ... I asked him, Muller, what they meant ; he replied : They 
have some work for you to do." 

The ex-officer in question thereupon went to see General Beyers, who asked him 
to come to his (Beyers') house.* At this interview, he states, Beyers " informed 
me that he had no intention of going to German South- West, and he had made up 
his mind to resign, and that he was waiting for the resolution of Parliament on that 
point before tendering his resignation. He stated his reason for not going to 
German South-West was (that) he would not fight the Germans as they were friendly 
to us, and that he would rather be shot than fight against them." 

5.' Disquieting News from Europe. — Meantime disquieting news was being 
received from Europe. The German advance on Paris seemed irresistible. French 
and English had been flung back, apparently hopelessly beaten. The strategic retreat 
of the Allies appeared a hopeless rout, and rumour increased its significance enor- 
mously. It seemed as if Germany would soon have the Allies completely at her 
mercy. 

The v Prophet " Van Rensburg, indeed, saw visions in which 40,000 German 
soldiers were marching up and down London.,, These absurd imaginings of a dis- 
ordered brain were freely circulated by the conspirators and some of them really 
believed (or at least pretended to believe) them. 

6. The Union Government proposes to attack German South-West Africa. — It 
was at this unpropitious moment that rumours began to spread that the Union 
Government was contemplating an attack on German South- West Africa. The 
news created some alarm even among supporters of the Government, who realized the 
arduous character of the undertaking as well as the political difficulties it would 
raise. Among a section of the political opponents of the Government it was received 
with loud outcries of indignation. 

This was genuine in the case of those who looked upon the proposed campaign 
as " fighting for England " against old friends, who had sheltered and befriended 
some of those who were now perhaps to be called upon to attack their German bene- 
factors. The leaders of the conspiracy made the most of this feeling and actively 
fanned the hostile elements into a determined opposition to any action against 
German South-West Africa. 

When the Germans began overt hostilities against the Union by occupying 
Union territory opposite Nakab (on or about the 19th August), many political oppo- 
nents of the Government rallied to its support, realizing that the " neutrality " 
doctrine was exploded. Not so the extremists. At the " Nationalist " Congress 
held at Pretoria on the 26th of August, a few days after the violation of Union 
territory above referred to, the strongest language was used against the proposed 
" robbers' campaign " against German South-West Africa. Among those present 
were Senator -A. D. W. Wolmarans (in the chair), the Rev. H. van Broekhuizen, 
P. G. W. Grobler, M.L.A., and the Rev. H. Fourie. 

General De la Rey was specially invited to address the congress. He did so. 
and, in a speech which made a deep impression, strongly urged union in the present 
time of crisis. His attitude at this time shows that as yet the conspirators had not 
ventured to give him any hint of their schemes. 

On the 22nd of August certain units of the Defence Force were called up for 
their annual training. On the 24th came the news of the affair at Schuitdrift. As 
we have seen, this led to another violation of Union territory by the Germans. 
Owing, however, to the machinations of Maritz, no news of the German patrols south 
of the Orange River leaked through, and the Government remained in ignorance of 
the occurrence. 

On the 9th of September General Botha announced in Parliament the policy of 
the Government with regard to German South-West Africa. In the debate which 
ensued the " Nationalist " Party bitterly opposed the proposed advance on that 
country. Some members went so far as to accuse the Government of a piece of gross 
chicanery in connection with the violation of Union territory at Nakab. 

* The date was probably Sunday, 16th Angus!. 



15 

7 Nakab.— Nakab, or Nakob, is a waterhole about eighteen miles north of the 
Orange River on German territory, quite close to the Union border. A German 
police post is established here. On the other side of the border, and also quite close 
to it there is a Union police post. Both posts take their name from the waterhole. 
The waterhole itself is so near the border that a kopje on Union territory commands 
it. What had happened was that the Germans had occupied this kopje, apparently 
to safeguard their access to the water. „ '' ■,-., 

The few maps which marked the position of Nakab at all naturally showed the 
waterhole, which was in German territory. ; . 

When the news arrived of the German advance at this point the Railway 
Department happened to.be issuing as part of its ordinary routine a map of the 
North-West Cape Province in connection with a proposed extension of the railway 
line from Prieska to Upington, which was to be laid before Parliament. On this 
map the waterhole at Nakab had been marked, as usual, on the German side of the 
border. After the arrival of the news of the violation of Union territory, the 
officials concerned were apparently seized by doubt as to the accuracy of their map 
in this respect, since they were unaware of the existence of two (really three) places 
going by the same name (the waterhole and the two police posts). Accordingly, they 
altered the position assigned to Nakab, shifting it further east and just over the 
border. This was done in the most open manner, an arrow being inserted to indicate 
the direction in which the position of Nakab had been shifted. There was no inten- 
tion to deceive, for the alteration was so obviously an afterthought and was carried 
out so openly (as a glance at the map in question will show) that it could not have 
deceived an infant in arms. 

This circumstance was, however, eagerly seized upon as a proof of how per- 
fidiously the Government was misrepresenting the facts to the public. What had 
really happened, it was declared, was that the Union forces had seized German 
territory, for on the map there is only one Nakab, and that is in German territory. 
To hide its delinquency the Government tries to falsify the map ! 

This example of political pettiness would not have been worth mentioning if it 
had not done a great deal of harm. The lie was repeated through the length and 
breadth of the land and helped to inflame hostile passions against a Machiavellian 
Government which apparently stuck at nothing to gain its ends. 

8. Final Preparations for the 15th September. — Meanwhile General Beyers 
was completing his arrangements for the rising on the 15th September. 

Events in Europe were helping his plans to perfection. The German armies 
were still advancing on Paris with terrible, and seemingly irresistible, swiftness. 
The French Government had abandoned the capital. Paris seemed doomed to fall 
within the next week or two. 

On the 5th of September (when the Allies in France were still in full retreat) 
General Beyers sent the following telegram, marked ' Private," to General De la Rey 
at Lichtenburg : " Very anxious to see you, important business. Can you meet me 
here Saturday, 12th inst. ? " To this a reply came from Mr. B. Krige, General De la 
Rey's son-in-law, informing General Beyers that General De la Rey had left for 
Capetown to attend the Special Session of Parliament. 

General Beyers thereupon telegraphed to General De la Rey at Capetown as 
follows (8th September) : — " Would like to see you here Monday, 14th, or Tuesday, 
15th inst. If inconvenient, telegraph earliest date. Important." At the same time 
he also telegraphed to General De Wet at Memel : " Do not come to Pretoria now. 
Our friend will not be here." General De la Rey replied on the 10th September : 
' Will come to see you when Parliament adjourns." 

General Beyers, it is clear, was still hoping to persuade General De la Rey at 
the last moment to join the conspiracy or, failing that, to place him before a fait 
accompli at Potchefstroom. At the worst, even if General De la Rey should refuse 
to join the movement, his mere presence at the critical moment, when the first step 
had to be taken, would be invaluable. The conspirators would certainly not have 
scrupled to mislead their followers with regard to General De la Rev's position, since 
we know that they did not scruple, in many cases, to assure their deluded followers 
that the whole Government was behind the movement* 

About this time General Beyers was being strongly urged by certain ministers 
of the Dutch Reformed Church to make some public declaration against the proposed 

* See belov, Chap. VI, p. :)2, 



16 

expedition to German South-West Africa. A few days before his resignation he 
was visited by a number of ministers, who, among other things, urged upon him that 
the time had come to make known his views to his people. 

Friday, the 11th September, was a critical day in the history of the conspiracy. 
An expeditionary force was going to sail from Capetown to seize Luderitzbucht.* 
General Beyers knew that General Lukin and Maritz were to co-operate with this 
force, and that hence the crisis must come within the next few days. 

On the 11th he sent a " Clear the line " telegram to Maritz at Upington as 
follows : — " 2441. Commandant- General would like to see you here Tuesday. If 
impossible for you, then send Joubert."t 

Learning of this telegram, Major Burgess, General Beyers' Chief Staff Officer, 
pointed out to him that as this order might cause Maritz to quit his post, notice 
of it should be given to the General Staff at Headquarters. General Beyers had not 
done so, and replied that, as it was uncertain as yet whether Maritz himself or his 
staff officer was coming, he would not report the matter to Headquarters until a 
definite answer had come from Maritz. No such report was made, and on Tuesday, 
the 15th of September, Joubert was at Pretoria in close confabulation with General 
Beyers, but without the knowledge of the authorities at headquarters. 

The same day (11th) General Beyers wished to telegraph to. Major Kemp at 
Potchefstroom to come to Pretoria the next day (Saturday) to see him. But as a 
telegram might be delayed, General Beyers gave orders to telephone to Kemp. This 
was done and the next day Kemp and Lieutenant-Colonel Bezuidenhout (afterwards 
one of Kemp's " Generals ") arrived by motor-car and interviewed General Beyers. 

One of the leading conspirators was present at this interview. The following is 
taken from his statement, before mentioned : — 

" During my stay in the office a discussion took place about Kemp's camp 
at Potchefstroom, and it was decided to keep the camp on till the following 
Wednesday to enable De la Rey to address the men. The camp was to have 
broken up on the Monday. I heard Kemp tell Beyers that Manie Maritz had 
made all arrangements down there, and it was understood that Maritz was to 
start the trouble, and as soon as he started De la Rey and Kemp were to start 
in the Transvaal.:}: Kemp, I understood, was to act under De la Rey, and T 
gathered that the organization in the Western Transvaal was of old standing 
and all arrangements seemed to have been made; and I think the idea was to 
use the camps § as a nucleus to get the men together." 

Kemp and Bezuidenhout returned to Potchefstroom that same afternoon. Kemp 
wrote out his resignation as soon as he got back to the camp. It is dated Sunday, 
13th September. 

Another telegram dispatched by General Beyers on the 11th, the day on which 
he was arranging to interview Maritz and Kemp, may be quoted here. It was 
addressed to General Sir Duncan Mackenzie, who was in command of the force then 
about to sail from Capetown to occupy Luderitzbucht. It read as follows : — " As 
one soldier to another, I wish you and the force under your command every success 
in the operations which you are about to undertake." 

On Monday morning (14th) a telegram arrived from Captain Joubert (Staff 
Officer to Maritz). It was dispatched from Bloemfontein Station, and stated that 
Joubert would arrive at Pretoria that same evening. 

After receiving this telegram General Beyers took Captain Van Manen, one of 
his staff officers, with him to the house of a relative. There, from notes in his posses- 
sion, General Beyers dictated his resignation manifesto to Van Manen. 

General Beyers had in the meantime ordered his chauffeur to overhaul his motor- 
car carefully and to equip it with new tubes and covers in readiness for " a long 
journey." 

9. The \5th of September. — Joubert arrived at Pretoria on the Monday even- 
ing. On Tuesday morning, the 15th, he saw General Beyers. He brought a message 
from Maritz, " informing him (Beyers) that all arrangements had been made and all 
was ready. "|| 

* This was the date of sailing originally fixed. The departure had, however, been postponed, 
but Beyers was not aware of this. 

t This was Maritz's Staff Captain. 

% This is, of course, not the whole truth with regard to the plans for the Transvaal. The deponent 
could n«t say more without betraying his own share in the conspiracy. 

§ I.e., those of Kemp and Maritz. 

| Statement of one of the leading conspirators before mentioned, 



At the conclusion of the interview, General Beyers sent Joubert directly to 
Johannesburg in his own motor-car to see General De la Rey. Joubert was too 
dangerous a personage to be seen about Pretoria. The motor-car was to bring 
General De la Rey from Johannesburg to Pretoria. 

The resignation of Major Kemp was received in the course of the morning. The 
moment for action had arrived. Everything was ready. At Upington Maritz was 
waiting for the signal to begin. The Germans were at hand to support him. Kemp 
and his confederates were completely prepared at Potchefstroom. The members of 
the Government were far away at Capetown, making plans to attack German South- 
West Africa, in happy ignorance of the blow about to fall upon them. 

The arrival of the two Generals in Potchefstroom Camp on Wednesday morning 
would be the signal of revolt. 

General Beyers himself was ready. His resignation manifesto, as we have seen, 
had been prepared as soon as he heard that Joubert was coming from Maritz. 

Immediately after his interview with Joubert, when the latter had left for 
Johannesburg, General Beyers summoned his staff officers to his office. It was about 
12.30 o'clock. When the officers appeared, he formally announced his resignation 
to Major Burgess, Captain Blaney, and Captain Van Manen. He explained that 
Captain Van Manen would hand his resignation to the Acting Secretary for Defence. 

The Minister of Defence, then at Capetown, had, of course, to be informed 
immediately. General Beyers agreed to a suggestion that, owing to the critical 
situation, the telegram announcing his resignation to the Minister should be put into 
cipher. He did not inform his staff that his letter of resignation had already been 
handed to the Press. 

The further events of that remarkable day are well known. General De la Rey 
had been expected at Potchefstroom on the 15th on his return from Capetown, via 
Fourteen Streams. He had, however, returned through the Free State and was at 
that moment at Johannesburg. 

General Beyers now sent Joubert with his motor-car to Johannesburg. The car 
was to bring General De la Rey to Pretoria. This was done. 

In his evidence before the Court of Inquiry* into the shooting of General De la 
Rey, General Beyers stated that when General De la Rey arrived in Pretoria, the 
latter asked him (General Beyers) to go with him to Potchefstroom and Lichtenburg. 
Both of them were opposed to the German South-West African expedition, and hence 
General De la Rey invited him to go to these places " with the idea of having meetings 
at both places " to tell the people what was going on. 

He (General Beyers) then pointed out to General De la Rey that the burgher 
training camp at Potchefstroom was breaking up the next day, and that " before 
the men left for their homes they could inform them as to what took place in Parlia- 
and of the reason of his (Beyers') resignation." 

That was the story told by General Beyers on the 28th September. 

It will, however, be remembered that on the 12th Beyers and Kemp had arranged 
to extend the duration of the Potchefstroom Camp specially to the 16th " to enable 
De la Rey to address the men." 

When we bear this in mind, and also Beyers' evident anxiety to get into touch 
with General De la Rey (as proved by his telegramst and his action in sending his 
motor-car to fetch him), it seems (to say the least of it) extraordinary that, when 
the two at last met, it should be General De la Rey and not Beyers who proposes 
" to hold meetings at Potchefstroom and Lichtenburg." 

We may safely assume that the original suggestion came from Beyers. His one 
object now was to get General De la Rey to the Potchefstroom Camp by four o'clock 
the next morning, when the revolt would begin. General De la Rev's presence in 
the camp was needed to persuade those who still wavered. His presence would be 
easily secured by the pretext of a meeting. In this way also Beyers could make sure 
of getting General De la Rey to Potchefstroom without as yet taking him into his 
confidence and explaining the whole plot. This would have been wholly in keeping 
with Beyers' conduct throughout the conspiracy. His first principle was to trust 
nobody entirely. None of his fellow-conspirators appear to have been completely 
in his confidence. 

The two Generals left Pretoria about seven that evening. When they came to 
Johannesburg a police cordon had been thrown round the town to capture three 

, , . , i 

* 28th September. 

t In addition to these telegrams, Beyers sent numerous verbal messages to General De la Rey 
asking to see him. 

*363 C 



18 

desperadoes, known as the " Foster gang," who were trying to escape in a motor-car. 
The police had orders to stop all motor-cars and to examine in particular any car 
containing three men. The car of General Beyers was repeatedly challenged by the 
police, who ordered the driver to stop. The Commissioner who inquired into the 
case finds that " it was very reprehensible on the part of the chauffeur and the owner 
of the car not to have obeyed the signals to stop."* It was this continued defiance 
of the police which led to the accidental shooting of General De la Rey. 

General Beyers was, of course, quite unaware of the real object of the police 
cordon. It is, however, not strange that he refused to stop when challenged and 
tried to burst through the cordon. He believed that the police were after him, that 
his plot had been discovered ! When, after General De la Rey had been shot, the car 
at last stopped, General Beyers was " quite speechless." 

He believed he was trapped. 

10. Potchefstroom Training Camp. — The real object of the journey to Potchef- 
stroom, which was arrested so unexpectedly at Langlaagte, is best explained by 
referring to what had been happening in the training camp at Potchefstroom. A 
most extraordinary feeling was noticed among the officers of the western regiments 
concentrating for training at Potchefstroom at the beginning of September. On the 
train before their arrival Lichtenburg officers were openly asserting that they would 
not go to German South-West Africa, that the Government was forcing its own will 
on the people, &c. In the camp seditious language was constantly heard. A regular 
campaign was begun for the ' conversion " of those who still stood by the Govern- 
ment., It was freely stated that the Active Citizen Force regiments were not 
intended for German South-West Africa at all, but as soon as they were embarked 
they would be sent to Furope to fight England's battles there. This was a strong card 
to play against those who were ready to go to German South-West Africa. 

The other topic of general interest was the seer Van Rensburg and his visions. 
He had predicted a revolution in connection with the figure 15. The Government 
of Botha and Smuts was " finished." The new State would have at its head " a man 
who feared God." 

Other wonderful visions of the seer were recounted. He had seen the English 
leaving the Transvaal and moving down towards Natal. When they had gone far 
away, a vulture flew away from among them and returned to the Boers and settled 
down to remain with them. That was Botha. As for Smuts, he would flee to 
England. There was no hope that he would see South Africa again. More sinister 
methods were employed to sap the loyalty of those who hesitated. One young officer, 
whom his own colonel was trying to corrupt, pointed out that he was poor and 
embarrassed ; his farm was heavily mortgaged and he might be forced to sell it at 
the conclusion of peace. " That is precisely my own position," replied the senior, 
" but when this thing (i.e., the proposed rebellion) is over, we shall all be out of 
trouble. There will be plenty of money." 

Others were approached in the same way. 

Those who did not join in denouncing the Government for the proposed cam- 
paign against German South-West Africa, or who declared themselves ready to go, 
were gradually cold-shouldered and isolated. They were " not Africanders." They 
were made to feel themselves pariahs and forced to seek the company of the few 
English officers in camp. 

From the statements of some of the conspirators to their friends it is possible 
to gather the outlines of their scheme. The Active Citizen Force concentrated at 
Potchefstroom (about 1,600 men) was to be induced to mutiny and begin a rising. 
The movement would be actively seconded by certain district commandants and other 
leading men in the Western Transvaal and elsewhere. 

It should be observed in this connection that certain district commandants of 
the Western Transvaal were constantly coming to the camp and in close confabulation 
with Kemp. Plans of rebellion were openly discussed between these and Defence 
Force officers in the plot and definite arrangements were made. The intention was 
to march from Potchefstroom on Pretoria, commandeering men and horses on the 
way. The Vierkleur would then be hoisted. The German prisoners of war (then 
interned at Roberts Heights) would be released, and a force sent to German South- 
West Africa for arms and ammunition. 

In the meantime the insurrectionary movement would be actively organized 
throughout the country. 

* Report, p. 9. 



19 

The day on which the rising was to begin was to be the lath_o^September. The 
seer had so often spoken of the mysterious number 15 and the wonderful things that 
were going to happen in connection with it that no more suitable date could have 
been selected. 

On the night of the 14th the " Prophet " himself was specially sent for by 
motor-car to be personally present on the loth to witness the consummation of his 
prophecy.. The consph'ators hoped to profit by the impression he would undoubtedly 
make on those who still hesitated. Unfortunately for them, however, the seer 
refused to leave his home, saying that " It was not yet clear to him that that was his 
path." Apparently he did not realize that by refusing to come he was imperilling 
not only the success of the plot, but also that of the prophecy. It may be that he was 
content to risk his reputation rather than his neck. In any case his refusal was a real 
disappointment to his friends. 

The signal for revolt was to be the arrival in the camp of Generals Beyers and 
De la Rey. They would immediately seize Potchefstroom and the railway line, and 
then proceed east and west respectively to organize the revolution. 

General De la Rey was returning from Capetown, where he had attended the 
Special Session of Parliament. He was expected to travel via Kimberley and would 
be due to arrive at Potchefstroom on the 15th. As a matter of fact, he returned 
through the Free State and was still at Johannesburg on the 15th. This was another 
and a serious disappointment to the plotters. They now determined to begin the 
rising early on the morning of the 16th. 

For three or four days before the 15th the regiments in camp had been carefully 
exercised in ceremonial parade drills in preparation for the reception of the two 
Generals. A special guard of honour had also been formed, horses of a uniform 
colour being selected for this purpose. 

On the Tuesday morning the troops were paraded by squadrons and addressed 
by some of the senior officers, notably Lieutenant-Colonel Bezuidenhout and Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Kock. 

The following is the substance of what Kock said to the men of " A " Squadron 
of his regiment : " Burghers, I wish to address a few words to you before the camp 
breaks up. As you are all aware, the Government has decided to attack German 
South- West Africa. I just wish to tell you that you may do as you like, but, as for 
me, I shall not cross the border unless I am absolutely forced to. If there are any 
of you here who wish to volunteer, you may hand in your names to your captain. 
We shall then appoint officers from among the volunteers and send them off this very 
night if possible." 

One of his officers, Lieutenant , stood out and asked whether this was 

being done by order of the Government. Kock did not reply directly. 

In this way Kock went through his whole regiment. When he had finished, one 
of his senior officers demanded from him whether he was acting on orders, and, if 
not, why he had taken such an extraordinary course. Kock replied that they were 
all doing it. They wished to ascertain the feelings of their men. 

All through that day (Tuesday) the men were kept ready to march at five minutes' 
notice, with kit and blankets ready packed and strapped. Some of the senior officers 
who were in the plot had their heavy baggage sent away and their field-kit prepared 
in readiness to proceed on a long trek. It was obvious that something extraordinary 
was going to take place. Wild rumours began to fly about, but the conspirators 
kept their secret well and had taken care to let no one into their confidence whom 
they did not trust absolutely. 

The Mayoress of Potchefstroom had invited the officers in camp to an " At 
Home that afternoon, but the tension in camp had become so great that none of 
them went.* 

The officer who shared a tent with Kock spoke very strongly to him and 
demanded an explanation. 

After some hesitation Kock decided to take his comrade into his confidence at 
least partially. Late on the night of the 15th September, he informed him that 
Beyers and Kemp had resigned their commissions. Beyers and General De la Rev 
would be in the camp at 4 o'clock the next morning. They would then move to 
Lichtenburg with the regiments assembled at Potchefstroom. Nothing was said 
about the object of this move. 



Some loyal officers actually fled from the camp that night. 

4563 

C -i 



20 

That evening Kemp was observed to be extremely anxious and unsettled. He 
explained that his nervousness was due to his fear that General De la Rey would be 
prevented from coming to the camp. 

About 3 o'clock that night the officer sharing Lieutenant-Colonel Kock's tent 
was awakened by the entrance of a man, who proved to be Kemp. Kemp leant over 
Kock's bed and whispered something in his ear. Kock, in a profoundly startled 
voice, exclaimed, " 0, God ! " Kemp left immediately, and Kock then whispered 
to his friend, " Generaal De la Rey is dood geskiet."* 



IV.— THE TREACHERY OF MARITZ. 



1. Preparations for a new Cons-piracy. — The accidental death of General De 
la Rey on the evening of the 15th September was a staggering blow to the con- 
spirators. They could not for the moment believe it to have been accidental. One 
of the plotters, borrowing an historic phrase, declared that ' it upset their whole 
apple cart." 

Major Kemp at Potchefstroom lost his head completely when the news reached 
him. After giving the news to some friends, as already described, he dashed off in 
a motor-car to the town and made desperate efforts to withdraw his resignation, 
which had reached Pretoria the day before. These efforts were, however, not 
successful. 

When it was found that General Beyers was still at liberty, and that the shoot- 
ing of General De la Rey had indeed been purely fortuitous, the plotters again took 
heart. Some days afterwards Kemp remarked to a friend : " Thank God, Ave've still 
got Manie Maritz on the Orange River." 

The camp at Potchefstroom broke up quietly that Wednesday (16th) and the 
various units proceeded home. A splendid opportunity had been lost. The golden 
moment had passed, but it was still possible to try again. 

New factors were now made use of to fan the flame of rebellion. 

The tragic death of General De la Rey had caused a profound sensation through- 
out the country and especially in the Western Transvaal. The superstitious recalled 
the vision of the fateful number 15. The General had indeed " returned home 
without his hat, followed by a carriage full of flowers." t The shooting of the 
beloved General by a policeman was at once attributed by the conspirators to some 
dark design of the Government. They shamelessly spread the story that the bullet 
had penetrated General De la Rey's body and the motor-car from in front, and that 
hence the General had been shot at sight — deliberately assassinated — by order of the 
Government. The authority of a medical man who had examined the dead body 
was quoted for the statement, which was circulated in the most extraordinary 
manner over the length and breadth of the land. 

Even a responsible man like Senator Wolmarans appears to have believed this 
story, for in an interview in " Het Volk " he used language which gave that impres- 
sion. \ 

Needless to say, this falsehood so sedulously spread helped materially to inflame 
public opinion against the Government. General Beyers, who knew that he was 
standing on a volcano, said nothing in public, but, by displaying the motor-car as 
often and as publicly as possible, contributed not a little to the popular excitement 
on the question. 

Some inkling of the true state of affairs had by this time reached the public. 
Rumours of rebellion were in the air. At the memorial service to General De la Rey. 
held at Pretoria on the 18th September, the Rev. Mr. Bosman referred to the talk of 
rebellion which was going about and earnestly exhorted his hearers to put such 
thoughts from them. 

At the funeral of General De la Rey at Lichtenburg, on Sunday, the 20th inst.. 
General Beyers, with a Bible in his hand, passionately repudiated the suggestion that 
he had any disloyal intentions, and invoked the dead General's spirit as his witness. 

* " General De la Rey has been shot dead." 

j It was remarked that his room in the hotel at which he was staying at Johannesburg on the 
15th was No. 15. 

X See his evidence before the Commission of Inquiry into the shooting of General De la Rey. 



21 

That same evening after the funeral he, with Generals Ue Wet and Kemp, 
convened a secret meeting of men whom he thought he could trust, and advised them 
to join the Defence Force and then to await the signal for action. 

The next day, Monday, the 21st September, General Beyers and General De Wet 
held a public meeting at Lichtenburg. Ex-Major Kemp was chairman and between 
700 and 800 were present. The old Orange Free State flag was unfurled by one of 
the audience, but General Beyers remarked " We don't want any of this nonsense 
here." 

General De Wet declared that they wanted to act constitutionally and spoke 
chiefly against the proposed attack on German South-West Africa. 

General Beyers expressed himself as opposed to a proposal which had been made 
that all Defence Force officers should follow his example and resign. He hoped they 
would not do so. He was anxious to see Major Kemp reinstated and hoped the 
meeting would request the Government to sanction this.* He further emphasized 
that " rebellion was the thing furthest from his mind." 

At this meeting a resolution was passed, calling upon the Government to with- 
draw the Active Citizen Force from the borders of German South -West Africa 
before the 30th of the month (September).. A committee consisting of Generals 
Beyers, De Wet, Liebenberg, and Kemp was appointed to organize public meetings 
and prepare a great national demonstration against the attack on German South- 
West Africa. General De Wet gave notice that another big meeting would be held 
at Kopjes the following Thursday (the 24th). 

On the 26th came the unfortunate affair at Zandfontein, north of the Orange 
Biver, where a Union Force under Co lonel Grant was badly cut up by the Germans. 
The responsibility for this must probably be laid at the door of Maritz. 

General Botha, who was not unaware of the subterranean movements in progress, 
addressed a great meeting at Bank on the 29th. He emphasized the fact that the 
Government did not intend to commandeer burghers for service in German South - 
West Africa. He also warned his hearers against German designs within the Union 
itself. 

On the 2nd of October General De Wet, who had been extremely active in the 
Northern Free State, addressed a meeting at Potchefstroom, at which ex-Major 
Kemp and ex-Major Pienaar, and N. Serfontein, M.L.A. for Frankfort, were also 
present. General De Wet denounced the Government in the strongest language, 
but could not proceed very far as the meeting was broken up by supporters of the 
Government. At one stage of the proceedings General De Wet threatened to report 
the police for not giving him adequate protection. 

On October 6th J. J. Smit (Smith), an ex-lieutenant of the Orange Free State 
Artillery, resident in German South-West Africa since the war, was arrested at 
Kroonstad for seditious language. He had told Mr. H. G. de Wet that " Maritz had 
promised him to join the Germans when the proper time came and that he had 
arranged with the Germans for the last three years."! He also stated that he had 
come " out of German South- West Africa to meet Maritz." Maritz had " arrested " 
Smit and sent him to Pretoria to interview Generals Botha and Smuts, apparently 
hoping by this to lull their suspicions. 

Smit himself declared to De Wet that he had told the Generals '' a lot of lies " 
to put them off the track. 

On the 10th General Beyers and the Rev. Mr. Van Broekhuizen addressed a 
meeting at Pretoria, nominally on the life of President Kruger. The audience, 
however, would not listen to them and the meeting broke up in confusion. 

These public meetings were an important part of the plans of the conspirators. 
It was hoped by means of these to inflame public opinion and so to prepare for the 
final outburst. 

The first step was to be taken by Maritz. 

2. Maritz at Upington. — Maritz at Upington had been very careful not to 
show his hand. Although he and his confederates had been secretly sowing sedition 
and preparing the way for a mutiny among his troops, there was as yet no evidence 
to show that he contemplated treachery. 

The Active Citizen Force regiments of his district had been called up for 
training and were concentrated at Upington and Kakamas. 

It will be remembered that he had invited General Beyers to visit his camps.} 

* His reason for wishing to get Kemp reinstated is plain enough. t De Wet's affidavit. 

J Telegram, 25th August. 



22 

On the 10th September Maritz again invited General Beyers to visit his camps 
in the following telegram : " I consider it very desirable that you should come to 
address the burghers personally in the two camps, namely, Upington and Kakamas. 
If you are coming, telegraph me when you will be here. Everything still quiet and 
in good order."* 

To grasp the full significance of this telegram we must recollect that Maritz was 
by this time in close and constant communication with the Germans. 

The Government was proceeding with the invasion of German South- West 
; Africa and a force under General Lukin was about to cross the Orange River and 
i march on Warmbad. 

On the 23rd September the following telegram was sent to Maritz from Defence 
Headquarters : li Minister wants to know if you can move strong force to Schuit 
Drift from Kakamas and advance Upington force towards border in direction of 
Ukamas. He thinks it might then be possible for you to co-operate with Lukin in 
march to Warmbad." 

To this Maritz replied as follows on the 25th September: "11/43. Sep- 
tember 25th. Re telegram G 60/31 from Defence (Staff). It seems to me ridiculous 
to say that I must move to Schuit Drift with a strong force, as you know that I have 
not even got all requirements to equip burghers in camp. It is impossible to divide 
the burghers I have here. Most of them have, owing to postponement of camps 
1913, not gone through course of musketry or fired a single shot. It is, therefore, 
in the first place, quite out of the question to think of advancing against the Germans 
with these children, as it is reported that there are at Ukamas alone over 3,000 
Germans well mounted and armed with artillery and I have not a single cannon. 
Have only three machine guns under two little English lieutenants, who seem to 
me to be scarcely able to fasten their breeches, with the few children under them. 
As already pointed out to you when I was last in Pretoria, I warned you that public 
would refuse to cross border and advance into German South-West Africa, or if 
Germans advance into the Union owing to action of Government they would also 
refuse, and all my officers of the Active Citizen Force, as well as of the Defence 
Rifle Associations, have unanimously resolved to resign as soon as I order them to 
cross. I was told by General Botha and you that this would be done by volunteers, 
which must also be understood from your circular telegram No. 11/83, Sept. 21. 
This assurance I can also give you, that if Germans advance owing to action of the 
Government and the volunteers cannot repel them the public will unanimously refuse 
to fire a shot. The best advice I can give our Government under the circumstances 
is to consider well these matters of taking German South-West Africa. I will do 
my best to support you on this side of the border, but I cannot divide my force, but 
will immediately move forward as many as are properly equipped in the direction 
of Ukamas for "protective purposes. I must again point out to you that officers and 
public were always under the impression that this is only a peace training camp. 
I have further to say that my position is very difficult. If there are further plans 
that I must attack German South-West Africa under these conditions I shall be 
glad if my resignation is accepted." 

This telegram showed that Maritz was following in the footsteps of General 
Beyers. Such action on his part, when actually face to face with the enemy, might 
have the most disastrous consequences. The Minister decided to send Major B. 
Enslin to Upington, nominally as Chief of Staff to Maritz, in reality to investigate 
and report upon the position. 

Enslin arrived at Upington on Sunday the 27th. He found a very serious state 
of affairs. Maritz and the majority of his officers were openly saying they would not 
go to German South-West Africa. Seditious talk was rife in the camp. It was 
clear, also, that there was something behind all this talk. 

The day after his arrival Enslin reported as follows to the Minister : " From 
discussions I have had with Maritz have gathered he and his officers are prepared 
to defend Union against invasion, but under no circumstances will they cross border, 
and if ordered to do so they will resign. Their reasons are those given Hertzog, 
Beyers, and thence in Maritz's telegram to you.. Maritz most emphatic and will not 
be persuaded. Things are very critical. Half inhabitants here are clearly doubtful 
if Government still intend invasion this end. Commando 2,000 experienced men 
required in lieu of Maritz's commando. On arrival proposed force Maritz men 
should be asked volunteer. It would have good effect with farmers if Colonel Brits 

* C. 7/14/2. 



23 

be placed command here if possible. Maritz's resignation should not be accepted 
until proposed force due here as there is danger Germans hearing it and attacking 
Kakamas, &c, where stores held. Maritz says there are 3,000 Germans on border 
well equipped cannon. Maritz thinks invasion likely result civil war, but I have 
no grounds think he intends taking arms favour Germans. Wire me direct what 
action you propose taking Maritz. Wire enable me know how to act. Code wire 
to Enslin will be delivered personally." 

General Smuts on receiving this report at once telegraphed to Maritz :— 
; " September 28.. I wish to see you immediately here in Pretoria. Hand over your 
command in meantime to Major Enslin and come here with all speed."* 

Through the Magistrate of Upington the Minister the same day sent the follow- 
ing instructions to Major Enslin : " I have instructed Colonel Maritz by telegram to 
hand over command temporarily to you and to come and see me at Pretoria as quickly 
as possible. You will assume command Maritz's force until other arrangements are 
made. If Kakamas is attacked, you will fall back on Upington. If Upington is 
attacked you must defend it as well as possible and not let stores fall into hands of 
enemy. The Durban Light Infantry from Durban and the Imperial Light Horse 
from Capetown are being sent to you as quickly as possible. Your commando is 
being recruited up to 300. Pienaar with 75 leaves here as soon as possible together 
with Cronje and 25 Scouts of Pretoria Intelligence Unit. Cronje and his men to be 
under Captain Erasmus." 

' Enslin's position was extremely difficult. Maritz suspected him and on various 
pretexts refused to show him his papers. Nor would he impart any information as 
to the movements of the Germans or the dispositions of his own forces. Maritz 
watched him carefully and sent officers to talk to him in order to find out what he 
really thought. Enslin could not find out what was going on, nor could he ask too 
openly, as he did not know whom he could trust. 

In private conversation with him Maritz affirmed that he would not go to 
German South- West Africa. He considered Botha and Smuts traitors to their 
country. The only real leader of the people was General Hertzog. 

By means of a ruse Enslin was at last able to discover Maritz's real intentions. 
Maritz was induced to talk to an emissary whom he took for a sympathiser, and to 
him he confided that he (Maritz) was in communication with the Germans.. It was, 
he said, entirely due to his personal influence with them that no attack had as yet 
been made on the Union forces on the border. In confirmation of his statements, 
he showed his correspondence with the German authorities. 

As soon as Enslin had obtained this information he telegraphed to the Minister 
(on the evening of the 28th) asking him to arrange for his own recall or for that of 
Captain Erasmus, in order to report personally at Pretoria, as it was too dangerous 
to transmit all the particulars by wire. A 

He had received information which made him fear that " A " Force was in 
danger of being crushed by a strong German column. Although it was now clear 
that Maritz was acting in concert with the Germans, it was impossible as yet to 
relieve him of his command, as that would cause him to begin hostilities against the 
Union. The force under his command had been corrupted and could not be trusted. 
Moreover, if Maritz were removed, his German allies, knowing the position, would 
probably attack immediately. 

A strong loyal force had first to be moved to Upington before Maritz could be 
dealt with. " If Maritz's resignation is accepted now," said Major Enslin, " I 
expect disaster." 

The Minister promptly recalled Erasmus and the next day telegraphed to Major 
Enslin : " Your cipher telegram last night asking me to instruct Maritz send you 
back or recall Captain Erasmus. Minister presumes you had then not yet received 
my message through Magistrate. Does it alter your opinion and do you still think it 
necessary to leave Maritz little longer in command? Reply sharp." 

Enslin replied : " Maritz has not handed over nor mentioned anything about 
your instructions. He told Erasmus he is in communication Germans thereby pre- 
venting invasion Kakamas. Appears he is playing a double game. Will do my best 
most difficult position. I am afraid trust any one camp." 

On the night of the 30th September the tension in the camp was very great.. The 
officers generally believed that Maritz was playing a double game. The few loyalists 

• D/0176. 



24 

were afraid of being captured. An officer of the maxim gun section actually trained 
his guns on the camp, so as not to be caught unawares. 

In the meantime the Minister was doing his utmost to move to Upington 
whatever loyalist forces were available. 

Maritz replied on the 29th to the Minister's telegram ordering him to come to 
Pretoria at once : " It is impossible for me to come over under circumstances and 
hand over command to Major Enslin, as matters would certainly go wrong. Please 
give definite reply to my telegram 11/14 September 25."'* 

The Minister replied : " D/0189. Your 11/14. With reference to your tele- 
gram of 25th September, it is necessary for me to see you in order to discuss whole 
position. In meantime I consider it quite safe for you to hand your command over 
to Major Enslin. I am taking the necessary steps to send reinforcements imme- 
diately in your direction. Please acknowledge my telegram and state when you 
leave for Prieska." 

The reinforcements referred to by the Minister were the troops under Colonel 
Wylie. On the 2nd October the Minister telegraphed to Maritz : " Colonel Wylie. 
in command of a force consisting of a regiment mounted troops and a battalion 
infantry, is proceeding with all haste to co-operate with you for defence of Upington- 
Kakamas area. His command is independent of you, but you and he must take best 
combined action for defence of Upington and Kakamas and for safeguarding our 
stores there. I hope to be able in two days to reply to your telegram of 25th 
September." 

Maritz had not yet replied to the Minister's telegram of the 30th September, 
ordering him a second time to come to Pretoria. He now replied (2nd October) : 
"Your D/1089, September 30. I do not believe it necessary to discuss position 
further with you, as I have already explained position to you and what consequences 
will be.. With regard to safety of handing over my command to Major Enslin, my 
view is that you know as little about that as about position of own affairs, t In order 
to defend position here I need no reinforcements. Again refer you to my telegram 
of 25th September, and request you to consider same carefully." 

3. Maritz throivs off the Mask. — Maritz was evidently alarmed at the near 
approach of these loyalist forces, of which he was informed through his spies before 
he had received the telegram of the 2nd October from the Minister. On the afternoon 
of the 2nd October he broke up his camp at Upington and marched away with prac- 
tically his whole force and all available ammunition. When Major Enslin, who was 
his Chief of Staff, inquired as to this movement, Maritz told him that he was moving 
to the border " to carry out his instructions." He asked Enslin to accompany him, 
but the latter excused himself on the ground that he had to see to the forwarding of 
equipment and stores. 

When this sudden move was reported to the Minister, he inquired of Major 
Enslin (3rd October) : " Have you any fear of treachery in connection with Maritz's 
movement, or do you think its object defensive ?" Enslin replied as follows : — 

" Maritz's movement all of a sudden not understood and suspicious. It may be 
he thinks he is clearing himself from disobedience by moving to border. He expressed 
no intention proceed further, but have just ascertained he has taken all ammunition 
with him. I warned Lieutenant Freer charge machine guns keep sharp lookoat. 
Owing injudicious wires from Supplies and Transport, Pretoria, to Supplies and 
Transport here, Maritz knows that thousand men coming, as he asked me what 
wagons wanted for. I have heard no news re enemy necessitate his sudden move- 
ment. Colonel Wylie has not yet arrived owing breakdown motor car. No horses 
here suitable for Colonel Brits and staff officers." 

The reference to Colonel Brits in the last sentence requires explanation. The 
Minister had some days previously appointed him to the command of all the forces 
concentrating on Upington. Colonel Brits had received instructions to proceed with 
all speed to that place, and to take the most vigorous and effective measures for the 
defence of the various posts held along the border. Further, as soon as he reached 
Upington he was to send for Maritz and hand to him a letter from the Minister^ in 
which the latter accepted Maritz's resignation (tendered in his telegram of the 25th 
September). Should Maritz object, he was immediately to be arrested and sent to 
Pretoria under escort. The Minister stated that he would prefer to have no arrest 
made if Maritz was ready to come to Pretoria voluntarily. 



This was the telegram in -which he tendered his resignation. t The meaning is not clear. 



25 

Colonel Brits was next to hand over Maritz's own command to Colonel Bouwer. 
Maritz's officers and men were then to be separately called together and dealt with 
according to their attitude. 

When Maritz moved his force from Upington on the 2nd October, he had really 
begun the rebellion. He marched in the direction of the German border and arrived 
on the 4th at Van Rooisvlei, about twenty-five miles west of Upington. A portion of 
his force was in camp at Kakamas. He sent orders for this detachment to join him 
at Van Rooisvlei. It arrived on the 7th October. On the 6th, Maritz went to the 
German border with Joubert, nominally to look for water, in reality to make final 
arrangements with the Germans. 

One of his most trusted officers was informed the next day (7th) that " Maritz 
had been to the Germans and returned with instructions from the Germans not to 
fight against them, but against the British flag."* 

On the 9th came the final step. Maritz assembled his whole force (between 500 
and 600 men), and so arranged them that the doubtful units (such as the maxim 
section, which was commanded by English officers) were completely surrounded by 
others which he could trust. When this was done, Maritz disarmed the maxim 
section, which could, under the circumstances, offer no resistance. 

Maritz thereupon mounted a box, and addressed his men. He explained that 
the Government expected him to cross the border into German South-West Africa, 
and that he had refused to do so. He read out some of the telegrams which had 
passed between Headquarters and himself, ending with the telegram from the 
Minister in which he was ordered to report immediately to Colonel Brits at Uping- 
ton. He declared that he would not obey this order. 

He proceeded to abuse Generals Botha and Smuts in very coarse language, and 
then revealed the schemes with which he had for long been occupied. 

He told of the contract between the Government of German South-West Africa 
and himself, and stated that the Transvaal and Free State were ready to rise as soon 
as he moved. Everything had been arranged with Beyers and other leaders. He 
concluded with a stirring peroration : — 

' ' I can assure you that I did not put on this uniform to serve England — far 
from it. I did it solely for the goodwill of my country, and now I am on the point to 
act. When General Botha insisted on my taking command, I told him that it was a 
fruitless attempt to try such a thing, but he would not listen, and once more I took 
command and promotion for the benefit of my country, and now, in the sight of God 
and you, I lay down my distinction marks as an English Lieutenant- Colonel, for 
I want to be nothing more than a common burgher to fight for the freedom of my 
country, and I shall not cease, though my blood may flow, and Heaven knows I shall 
shed my blood with honour. 

' You all know I have a wife and two children, and I love them dearly : Heaven 
knows I do. But my country comes before them.' 

With this his tears overwhelmed him, and he got off the box."t Hereupon 
Sergeant-Major Engelbrecht (recently promoted to Captain by Maritz) proposed 
that the mutineers appoint Maritz as their Commanding Officer, to lead them at his 
own discretion. This was agreed to. Those who refused to join him (about sixty 
officers and men) were sent under an armed guard towards the border, where they 
were handed over to a German force which was waiting there in readiness to take 
them in charge. 

4. Maritz's Ultimatum. — When Colonel Brits arrived at Upington on the 7th 
October, he found Maritz gone with his whole force, which he had concentrated at 
Van Rooisvlei. He had, however, as yet given no proof of any intention to mutiny. 
Colonel Brits now had to " bell the cat." He suggested to the Minister that the latter 
should telegraph to Maritz informing him that Brits had been appointed to com- 
mand on the border, and ordering Maritz to report immediately to Brits. Brits 
would forward this telegram to Maritz, who would thus be forced at once to show 
his hand. 

The Minister accordingly sent the following message to Maritz : " October 7th. 
I have appointed Colonel Coenraad J. Brits to command the units under your com- 
mand, and those under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Wylie. Please proceed 
immediately to Upington and report to Colonel Brits." 

This was the telegram Maritz read out to his men at Van Rooisvlei on the 9th. 



• 



Affidavit by Capt. A. S. Louw. Appendix, p. 65. f Affidavit by S. J. Heynes. 



4563 D 



26 

What had passed between himself and Colonel Brits with regard to this tele- 
gram is related by Colonel Brits in his telegram of the 8th to the Minister : " I sent 
your wire to Maritz re my appointment to him, and at same time ordered him to be 
here at 2 p.m. Friday enable me to discuss position with him and Wylie. Following 
is his reply : ' I have no objection at all to hand over my commando to you, and don't 
like to be pestered by any one in the world with minutes, and I report also to nobody. 
All I want is my discharge. You may take over the commando as it is. I shall try 
to be in town on Sunday morning, but I pledge myself to nothing. You can bring 
my discharge and take over my commando here.' Leipoldt, who brought reply, 
reports Maritz admits co-operation Germans, and exhibited documents from them. 
Maritz also stated he would only go to Pretoria with Rustenburg, Lichtenburg, and 
his own commandos, and if his arrest attempted he would fight. He is strongly 
supported in his attitude by his officers, who all seem anxious for rupture. It 
appears Maritz wishes put me in position attack him with English troops make 
political capital and set civil war going. He is thirty miles from here, and has 500 
men with provisions up to 10th. All supplies now being stopped. Sending Bouwer 
with couple men take over his command and deliver your letter." 

As here indicated, Colonel Brits intended to send Lieutenant-Colonel Bouwer 
to Maritz, to take over the command of the units under him. When Bouwer arrived 
at Van Rooisvlei, Maritz had already hoisted the Vierkleur and sent those of his 
men who had refused to join him to German South- West Africa as prisoners. 

On the 10th the Minister received the following telegram from Upington : 
"Bouwer taken prisoner by Maritz. Allowed return here in order communicate to 
Government Maritz ultimatum to effect that unless Government guarantees to him 
before 10 to-morrow morning to allow Hertzog, De Wet, Beyers, Kemp, and Muller 
meet him at his headquarters in order get their instructions he will attack Upington, 
Kakamas, and other places. Bouwer reports Maritz in possession howitzers, pom- 
poms. ' Holds rank General Commanding German troops. Sixty officers and men 
unwilling to co-operate with him taken prisoners and handed Germans. Vierkleur 
hoisted by Maritz and Germans. Further details follow. We are ready to defend 
Upington. Bouwer further reports that he was shown agreement between Maritz 
and German Governor guaranteeing independence Union, &c. Maritz will be 
Kakamas to-morrow." 

In another telegram sent later that day Colonel Brits was able to give further 
particulars : Maritz had informed Bouwer that, unless he was otherwise advised by 
Hertzog, Beyers, and the others named by him, he (Maritz) was determined to fight 
to the bitter end. He boasted his ability to overrun the whole of South Africa, and 
stated that the Germans had placed at his disposal a hundred guns and unlimited 
quantities of small arms, ammunition, and money. He also showed Bouwer numerous 
telegrams, heliograph messages from the Germans, showing that he had been in 
communication with them at least since the 10th September. Maritz boasted that 
General Lukin would be surrounded at Steinkopf that night, and that he was facili- 
tating the concentration of German troops against other Union forces. 

5. Martial Law Proclaimed. — On Monday, the 12th October, the following 
communication from the Government was published in the Press : — 

" Ever since the resignation of General C. F. Beyers as Commandant- 
General, Citizen Force, there have been indications that something was 
wrong with the forces in the north-west of the Cape Province which were 
placed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel S. G.. Maritz. The Govern- 
ment at once arranged to send Colonel Coenraad Brits to take over the com- 
mand from Lieutenant-Colonel Maritz. On the 8th instant Colonel Brits 
sent a message to Maritz to come in and report to him. To this message 
Maritz replied in a most insolent manner that he was not going to report 
to anybody. All he wanted was his discharge, and Colonel Brits must come 
himself and take over his command. Colonel Brits then sent Major Ben 
Bouwer to take over the command. On arrival at Maritz's camp, Major 
Bouwer was taken prisoner with his companions, but he personally was subse- 
quently released and sent back with an ultimatum from Maritz to the Union 
Government to the effect that, unless the Government guaranteed to him 
before 10 o'clock on Sunday morning, the 11th October, that they should allow 
Generals Hertzog, De Wet, Beyers, Kemp, and Muller to meet him where he 
was, in order that he might receive instructions from them, he would forth- 
with make an attack upon Colonel Brits' forces, and proceed- further to invade 
the Union. 



27 

" Major Ben Bouwer reported that Maritz was in possession of some guns 
belonging to the Germans, and that he'held the rank of General Commanding 
the German troops. He had a force of Germans under him, in addition to 
his own rebel commando. . He had arrested all those of his officers and men 
who were unwilling to join the Germans, and had them sent forward as 
prisoners to German South- West Africa. Major Bouwer saw an agreement 
between Maritz and the Governor of German South-West Africa guarantee- 
ing the independence of the Union as a Republic, ceding Walfish Bay and 
certain other portions of the Union to the Germans, and undertaking that 
the Germans would only invade the Union on the invitation of Maritz. 
Major Bouwer was shown numerous telegrams and helio messages dating 
back to the beginning of September. Maritz boasted that he had ample guns, 
rifles, ammunition, and money from the Germans, and that he would overrun 
the whole of South Africa. 

" In view of this state of affairs, the Government is taking the most 
vigorous steps to stamp out the rebellion, and inflict condign punishment on 
all rebels and traitors. 

" ' A proclamation declaring martial law throughout the Union will 
appear in a Gazette Extraordinary to-day, Monday, the 12th October, 1914." 

As here indicated, martial law was proclaimed the same day.* 



V.— REBELLION IN TRANSVAAL AND FREE STATE. 



1. 'The Kopjes Meeting of the 13th October. — The effect of the mutiny of Maritz 
on the conspirators in the Transvaal and Free State was to spur them to greater 
activity. They realised that the time had come for deeds. A meeting of the leading 
seditionaries was convened for the 13th of October at Kopjes, in the Northern Free 
State. . 

General P. Liebenberg, of Witpoort, Klerksdorp, who had been appointed as one 
of the committee of four which was to organize meetings against the German South- 
West Africa campaign, was summoned with much secrecy by Kemp to attend this 
meeting. Completely unaware of the true intentions of the leaders, he duly went to 
Potchefstroom, where he saw Kemp on the morning of the 12th. While he was with 
Kemp ex-Colonel Bezuidenhoutt arrived with the news that Maritz had mutinied. 
This produced demonstrations of joy on the part of Kemp and his friends, which 
Liebenburg failed to understand. The party left immediately for Kopjes, with 
elaborate precautions against being seen together. About 1 o'clock that day, while 
resting under a tree near Vredefort, Liebenberg asked ex-Major J. J. Pienaar (who 
was driving him in his car) what the object was of the meeting at Kopjes. Pienaar 
was surprised to find that Liebenberg knew nothing and then proceeded to explain 
the position. "We are in difficulties," he said, "Maritz is our ally. We must 
help him." " How ? " asked Liebenberg. Pienaar then explained that Maritz had 
been sent to the German border with the object of raising a revolt on the 15th Sep- 
tember. Kemp was to do the same at Potchefstroom, where he would then be in 
charge of the training camp.. 

A provisional Government had been arranged; General Beyers would be Presi- 
dent and General De la Rey Commandant-General over all the commandos. The 
scheme had been that, after seizing Potchefstroom and raising the Republican flag 
there, Beyers and he (Pienaar) would march with the Defence Force on Krugersdorp, 
while Kemp and General De la Rey would move to Lichtenburg with a small force in 
order to call up the district and mobilize commandos there. They would then also 
march on Krugersdorp, and, joining forces with Beyers and Pienaar, would proceed 
to Pretoria to overthrow the Government, to hoist the Vierkleur and release the 
German prisoners of war. 

In the meantime General De Wet would organize the revolution in the Free 
State. 

* For Text of Proclamation see Appendix, p. 67. 
t He had resigned on the 18th September. 

4563 n 2 



28 

The plan had failed because General De la Rey, who was expected at Potchef- 
stroom on the 14th, did not come at the expected time, and had been shot before he 
could reach the camp. 

After these interesting revelations had been made, the journey to Kopjes was 
continued. 

On the 13th the meeting took place, in the dining-room of the parsonage of the 
Rev. Mr. Ferreira. Among those present were : General C. R. de Wet, the Rev. 
Mr. Ferreira, H. Serfontein (M.L.A.), N. W.. Serfontein (M.L.A.), J. Brand Wessels 
(M.L.A.), Rocco de Villiers, Commandant Meyer, of Kopjes, P. T. Fiirstenberg ' 
(M.P.C.) — these were Free State men. From the Transvaal there were : Kemp, 
Pienaar, Bezuidenhout, Jan Botha, Bodenstein, Piet Grobler (M.L.A.), the Rev. Mr. 
Vorster, the Rev. Mr. Van Broekhuizen, and General Liebenberg. 

General De Wet was elected to the chair. He asked the Rev. Mr. Ferreira to 
open the proceedings with prayer. 

After this De Wet spoke.. He said they had not a moment to lose. Matters had 
already been delayed by the death of General De la Rey. They could not lose another 
day, as Martial Law had been proclaimed. Maritz was already fighting. They 
themselves had neither money nor arms, but with Maritz there was plenty of both. 
Ihey had to go to Maritz for these. They had to start here, in order to help Maritz. 

General Liebenberg was both astonished and alarmed at such language and was 
the first to speak after De Wet had finished. Liebenberg asked him : " Where are 
Generals Beyers and Hertzog 1 " De Wet replied that he had come from General 
Hertzog the day before. Hertzog had told him that he would not come to the meeting 
as he was already the scapegoat. He (Hertzog) wished them to proceed, however, and 
if he was wanted then De Wet knew where to find him. De Wet added that they all 
knew that Hertzog was not a soldier but rather a man of the law. 

Pienaar next explained the absence of General Beyers, relating how after the 
meeting at Pretoria on the 10th October, the hostile crowd had cut to pieces the tyres 
of his motor car. General Liebenberg found this no excuse for Beyers' absence and 
said so. He asked General De Wet whether he meant what he had said as to helping 
Maritz. De Wet replied " Yes." 

Liebenberg then made it clear that he had no intention of joining in any rebel- 
lious movement and warned the others as to the consequences of such steps. He 
proposed that a deputation should be sent to the Government to lay their grievances 
before it, informing the meeting that if they refused to consent to this, he would 
have nothing further to do with the movement. This proposal was strongly opposed 
by De Wet, Kemp, and others. Wessels and Grobler, however, supported it and 
it was ultimately adopted.. (Obviously no other course was open to the conspirators, 
unless they could make away with Liebenberg.) A deputation was accordingly 
appointed, which left the same afternoon for Pretoria. The meeting was adjourned 
for a week, until the 22nd. When the meeting was over, De Wet announced that 
he was going to hold a krijgsraad with the officers alone. This was done. 

A ferment of excitement had been by this time produced among De Wet's 
followers at Kopjes and elsewhere in the northern Free State. At the news of the 
meeting to be held at Kopjes on the 13th a crowd of over 200 had assembled there — 
many of them armed. After the meeting was over, De Wet addressed the crowd 
waiting outside. He explained that the meeting had been private. A dark cloud, 
he went on to say, was hanging over their land, but it would break and the sun would 
shine through again. " You shall know shortly if happiness or misery is coming 
over the land. There are only a few here, but thousands are ready and waiting for 
the word. You must go home and wait patiently." 

2. Deputation to the Government. — The members of the deputation left that 
afternoon by train for Pretoria. De Wet accompanied them, although he had 
refused to be a member of the deputation. At Pretoria Station Mr. Van Broek- 
huizen's motor car was waiting. General De Wet accompanied him in the car. 

It had been arranged that the members of the deputation were to meet at an 
hotel the next morning, and Mr. Van Broekhuizen, who was a member of the depu- 
tation, had promised to bring General Beyers with him without fail to meet the 
members before they went to interview General Botha. Mr. Van Broekhuizen 
appeared at the appointed hour, but without General Beyers. As excuse he gave 
that " they had to hide General Beyers." As for himself he was not going to accom- 
pany the deputation to General Botha. This caused considerable dissatisfaction 
among the members, one of whom bluntly remarked it was a bad look out if Beyers 
took to hiding already. 



29 

The deputation was received by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and 
the Minister of Mines being also present. The members talked from a quarter to 
twelve in the morning to four o'clock in the afternoon without intermission. When 
they were leaving General Botha asked one of them in despair : " What do these 
people really want? " The deputation had, of course, no real object. As we have 
seen, it had been forced upon the leaders of the conspiracy to avoid a premature 
disclosure of their plans. 

The real business of that day was being done outside. Generals De Wet and 
Beyers, brought together by the Rev. Mr. Van Broekhuizen, could discuss their plans 
and make their final arrangements in peace, while General Botha was listening to 
imaginary grievances in his office. 

General De Wet was brought to the station that same afternoon by the Rev. Mr. 
Van Broekhuizen's car. He proceeded by the Natal line to his farm at Memel, 
Orange Free State.. On the journey he dispatched two telegrams, the one addressed 
to Commandant Meyer, Kroonstad, the other to his brother, Commandant Meyer, 
Kopjes, both saying : " Bedank dadelik " (" Resign immediately ").* 

At the interview between De Wet and Beyers at Pretoria on the 14th, the two 
leaders appear to have made their final dispositions. They knew that the Govern- 
ment was calling out commandos to deal with Maritz and that these would con- 
centrate within the next few days. They were also aware that Kemp, Bezuidenhout, 
Wolmarans, and Claassen were actively preparing for a rising in the west. Pienaar 
and others were sowing sedition in the valley west of Pretoria, while General Muller 
and his confederates were busy east of Pretoria. The crisis would come within the 
next few days. That De Wet and Beyers had come to some definite decision is clear 
from De Wet's telegrams to the two Meyers. 

Five days later Beyers himself was to be in the field in active rebellion. 

3. The Government prepares to crush 'Maritz. — The Government was pre- 
paring to deal vigorously with Maritz and to crush the rebellion he was fomenting 
on the Orange River. 

On the 11th October, General Botha had dispatched the following circular 
telegram to all the District Commandants of the Transvaal : — - 

[Translation.'] 

" Colonel Maritz has treacherously gone over to the enemy with a con- 
siderable portion of his commando, and is now marching with the enemy 
against General Brits and threatens to invade the north-western districts of 
the Cape Province. General Brits is asking urgently for help. In these 
circumstances the Government has decided to declare Martial Law imme- 
diately throughout the whole of the Union and to commandeer sufficient 
burghers to defend the Union. You are hereby ordered to commandeer 
100 men, with horse, saddle, and bridle, to be prepared on Thursday, the 
15th inst., at , to be moved further. If it is quite impossible 

for you to be ready by Thursday give me notice of earliest date, but you 
must understand that the matter is most urgent. When commandeering you 
must in the first instance take those who have offered themselves voluntarily 
for service in German West Africa, and then thereafter commandeer as much 
as possible from among the unmarried men and from the best and most 
willing fighting men. You need not necessarily confine yourself to members 
of the Rifle Associations. Should some burghers wish to take a second horse 
with a native orderly (achterrijder) with them, the Government will have 
no objection. Do your best to obtain good horses. Other equipment will be 
provided according to previous circulars. Wagons and mules need, however, 
no longer be purchased. In this serious crisis the Government expects of 
each officer and man that he will put all other feelings aside and that he 
will protect his country and people against treachery. Reply to Staff Officer, 
Commando Recruiting. 11/10/14." 

4. Velolkomet Claassen mutinies. — Under this scheme the district of Lichten- 
burg had to provide 300 men, the three local commandants, A. P. Visser, J. Lombard, 
and F. G.. A. Wolmarans being each responsible for raising 100 men. 

Commandants Visser and Lombard had no difficulty in obtaining the required 
number. In fact more than half their men joined voluntarily. Commandant 
Wolmarans assured his brother commandants that he was busily engaged in raising 

* Dispatched from Ingogo Station. 



30 

his own force. I. E. Claassen was to be his veldkornet, his other officers were already 
appointed, and he would soon have his 100 men ready. As a matter of fact, how- 
ever, Wolmarans was in constant communication with Bezuidenhout, Kemp, and 
others, and was secretly preparing to revolt. 

At Lichtenburg the men were equipped for the field. Their horses were valued, 
taken over by the Government and paid for in cash. 

The actions of Wolmarans were by this time becoming so suspicious that the 
Minister of Defence was advised to remove him from the Lichtenburg Commando. 

On the 18th October, further representations were made to General Smuts with 
regard to Wolmarans' attitude, and in consequence the Minister summoned him by 
telegram to Pretoria. Wolmarans received the summons and assured his fellow 
commandants (who had been instructed to keep an eye on him) that he was going 
to Pretoria. He did not do so, however. 

On the 19th, Commandant A. P. Visser, becoming alarmed at the seditious spirit 
which was by this time noticeable among a section of the public, and fearing that 
the infection might spread to the local commando, decided to move his forces out of 
the district. He accordingly gave orders to entrain for Potchefstroom. All the 
men obeyed cheerfully, and although Commandant Wolmarans was absent his 
officers and men were all present. On arriving at the station Commandant Visser 
took his men inside the wire fence enclosure. It was noticed that Veldkornet 
Claassen kept his men outside the enclosure. Trucking was at once commenced. 
After five or six trucks had been loaded with horses, Commandant Visser noticed 
that Claassen appeared to be holding a meeting with his men. He went to investi- 
gate and Claassen asked him : " Where are we going ?" Visser replied that he did 
not know. They might be required to fight against the Maritz rebels or against 
Kaffirs. He was simply carrying out orders. 

B. J. van den Berg thereupon said he was going no further. He was not going 
to shoot his own people. Claassen then begged Visser, as commandant, to turn back 
with all his men. 

Commandant Visser refused indignantly and appealed strongly to the men not 
to disgrace themselves by refusing to proceed. He warned them that if they refused 
to proceed they were to surrender their horses, arms, and equipment (which were 
Government property). 

Claassen then suddenly mounted his horse and shouting " All who love me, 
follow me," dashed off. About 150 burghers immediately followed him. Claassen 
appears to have taken the mutineers to Cyferpan (in the neighbourhood of Treur- 
fontein), where they disbanded and dispersed to their homes. They all retained 
their horses and rifles and the other Government property with which they had been 
equipped. The mutineers had been instructed to be ready to reassemble at a 
moment's notice. Kemp and Wolmarans were going to the meeting of rebel leaders 
at Kopjes on the 22nd, at which the final measures were to be decided upon. On 
their return from the meeting, these two would give the signal for revolt. 

This arrangement was duly carried out, and on the 24th Wolmarans and 
Claassen began hostilities by stopping trains at Treurfontein and commandeering 
men and war material " by order of Commandant-General C. Beyers." 

The following is the text of commandeerbrief jes issued by Claassen on the 24th 
October : — 

[Translation.'] 

" Commandeering Order under Martial Law, 
" October 24th, 1914. 
" All burghers of the Union of South Africa from 16 to 60 years of age 
are commandeered with horse, saddle, and rifle and ammunition complete 
(with) rations for eight days to appear on Tuesday morning, 27th October, 
1914, at 8 o'clock a.m., at Hakboschlaagte. 

" By order of 
" Commandant-General C. Beyers. 

"I.E. Claassen, V.K." 

■ This mutiny of the 19th October led by Claassen was the first overt act of 
rebellion in the Transvaal. 

It was soon to be followed by others. 

5. Beyers takes the Field. — General Beyers had been keeping very quiet since 
the end of September. On the 10th October he had arranged, as we have seen, to 
address a meeting presided over by Mr. Van Broekhuizen at the Opera House. 



31 

Pretoria, nominally on the life of President Kruger. The audience was, however, 
so uproarious that the police had to intervene and the meeting had to be broken up. 

That same day the news had arrived of Maritz's " ultimatum " to the Govern- 
ment, demanding to meet Generals Hertzog, De Wet, Beyers, Muller, and Kemp, 
" in order to get their instructions." 

With regard to Maritz's demand for an interview with the Generals, the 
Government put the facts before the public in its communication to the Press on the 

12th. 

General Beyers was repeatedly invited to take action. As late as the 17th 
October he was asked to go to Maritz. General Beyers appeared to hesitate and 
asked for time to consider the position and consult his friends. When next heard 
of he had left Pretoria and was organizing a rebel commando near Damhoek. He 
appears to have left Pretoria accompanied by Mr. Van Broekhuizen on the 19th 
October, the day on which Claassen had mutinied at Lichtenburg. 

6. The Kopjes Meeting of the 22nd October.— In the Orange Free State General 
De Wet had in the meantime been incessantly active. 

On the 17th he left his farm at Memel for Kopjes. On the 20th he went to 
Heilbron, where he stayed with Rocco de Villiers. The next day (21st) he returned 
with Rocco de Villiers to Kopjes. 

On his journeys during these last days, De Wet was constantly holding meet- 
ings at farms along his route. On his journeys to Kopjes on the 21st, armed 
burghers were met at various points and several farms, including that of Command- 
ant Meyer, of Kroonstad, were visited. At Meyer's a meeting was held with about 
seventy farmers, some of whom had come armed, on horseback and in motor-cars. 
Various other bodies of armed men were met on the way to Kopjes. 

On the 22nd the meeting which had been adjourned from the 13th was continued. 
A number of Transvaal leaders, including Kemp, Pienaar, and Wolmarans, were 
again present. There were in reality to be two meetings. With the men who had 
been present on the 13th the position was discussed. 

From Damhoek, where he was then lying with a rebel commando, Beyers sent a 
special messenger to attend the meeting, with the double object of conveying a 
message from him and of bringing back any resolution which the meeting might 
arrive at. Beyers' message to the meeting was that " here (in the Transvaal) every- 
thing was in order, and that the burghers were practically under arms." The reso- 
lution taken at the meeting, as brought back to General Beyers by his messenger, 
was : " Whereas the Dutch South African people in the Orange Free State and the 
Transvaal are oppressed, the meeting resolves to confide all further measures to 
General Beyers in the Transvaal and to General De Wet in the Orange Free State." 

When the meeting was over, De Wet announced that he was going to meet the 
" krijgsomcieren " in private. What transpired at this meeting is known only to 
those who were present. 

It is easy to guess that military measures were discussed. 

After the meeting, De Wet, at 4 p.m., addressed a crowd of about 300 burghers 
who had assembled outside to await the result of the conference. Half of this crowd 
was armed. 

He advised them to wait a little longer. In a short time they would know all. 
They were to resist the police if their horses and rifles were commandeered. If 
Fiirstenberg called them out, they were to obey. 

De Wet, who by this time travelled with an armed escort of about sixty mounted 
burghers, then left for Heilbron, where another meeting was held at the house of 
Rocco de Villiers. He left the same evening for the Frankfort district. 

7. Open Rebellion.— On. the 23rd a force of armed rebels prevented the holding 
of a meeting which had been arranged by Commandant Van Coller at Rhenoster- 
draai, for the purpose of obtaining volunteers to fight against Maritz. 

That same night (23rd October) a rebel force occupied Heilbron. The next day 
another rebel commando, under N. W. Serfontein, M.L.A., made a demonstration 
at Reitz. and seized a train by which some volunteer recruits were proceeding to 
Kroonstad Camp. The volunteers were deprived of their rifles and ammunition. 
* * * * • # # # 

The rebellion had broken out in the Orange Free State. 



32 
VI.— AIMS AND METHODS OF THE REBEL LEADERS. 



1. The aims of the rebel leaders have been briefly indicated in the foregoing 
chapters. They are very clearly expressed in a letter written by General De Wet 
on the 5th of November : " Our purpose is to get to Maritz. After arriving there 
to return immediately with Maritz to Pretoria. There, in the capital of South 
Africa, we shall, if God (in whom all our trust is) so wills it, haul down the flag and 
proclaim our independence."* 

General C. Muller put it still more plainly. Addressing a band of rebels at 
Kleinfontein (District Pretoria) on the 26th October, he said : — 

" Now is the time for us Africanders to get our independence back. All 
the farmers (Boers) must rise simultaneously. They need not be afraid, as 
there will be no bloodshed. Our independence is guaranteed by the German 
Kaiser. General Beyers has the treaty in his pocket. What more do vou 
want?" ' 

That such aims should find some support in the late Republics is perhaps not 
surprising. What may, however, have caused surprise is the readiness with which 
thousands of Dutch South Africans, living under a constitution of their own devis- 
ing, were prepared to take up arms against a Government composed almost exclu- 
sively of men of their own blood, the leaders of their own party, placed in power by 
their own people. 

2. The explanation is to be found in the methods adopted by the rebel leaders 
to gain their ends. Misrepresentation was the most formidable weapon in their 
arsenal. Knowing the character of their people, and the implicit trust they repose 
in their leaders, these men did not hesitate to mislead their followers with the grossest 
falsehoods. Taking advantage of the strong feeling which existed against the 
expedition to German South- West Africa, Beyers and De Wet during the initial 
stages of the movement asserted that they were merely going to lead a movement of 
" passive resistance " against the policy of the Government. The example of Ulster 
was frequently quoted, to prove that such action would be quite " constitutional." 

Nothing was said at this stage about Maritz or the Germans. There was no 
mention as yet of the " South African Republic " or " President " Beyers. 

General Beyers, as we have seen, pretended to believe that !i if pressure was 
brought to bear, the Government would resign rather than fire on its own people."t 
He appears to have based all his calculations on the sedulous encouragement of this 
belief among his followers. He constantly assured them that " there would be no 
fighting." Hundreds in this way joined his commando under the impression that 
they were simply joining a movement of protest against being commandeered to fight 
in German South-West Africa. 

' In the seer Van Rensburg the leaders possessed a most useful instrument for 
the work of deluding the simple-minded farmers and leading them almost uncon- 
sciously into rebellion. Van Rensburg had always foretold that General Botha 
would not resist the movement. The revolution would be bloodless. This statement 
was repeated by the seer to a great concourse of people in Lichtenburg on the very 
day of the action at Commissie Drift, and two days before that of Treurfontem. 

The leaders also made use of the strong racial patriotism of the farmers to lead 
them astray. ' During the critical days when the rebellion was beginning, and while 
the Government was attempting to restore peace without bloodshed, the rebel leaders 
everywhere were asserting that the Government would not take action against them, 
as the Ministers secretly desired to see the rebellion succeed. Hence, it was said, 
the duty of all true Africanders was to join the rebels and help their friends in the 
Government, who were only waiting for some show of force to have an excuse for 
surrendering. t 

The same policy of misrepresentation was pursued in the Free State. I he pre- 
text of a " passive resistance " movement was speedily abandoned, and it was openly 
said that the object of the leaders was the establishment of a republic The Dutch 
in the Transvaal, it was stated, had risen as one man. General Botha himself was 
secretly directing the movement. The people of the northern Free State were assured 
over and over again that " Botha was going to start the revolution in the Transvaal. 
The provincial patriotism of the Free Staters was artfully inflamed by appeals like 

* This letter is referred to below, p. 46. t See above, p. 12. 



33 

the following : " Who is to have the honour of being the first to hoist the republican 
flag % It is for you to decide. Botha and the Transvaalers are ready. Are you 
going to let them forestall you V 

Those who know the Free State can imagine the effect of such appeals coming, 
as they did, from responsible and trusted leaders. 

If the rebellion was started on lies, it was also largely maintained on lies. The 
most preposterous falsehoods were circulated to induce waverers to join the rebels. 
" General Beyers was bombarding Pretoria with German artillery." " The Free 
Staters, after clearing their Province of all Government forces, were now besieging 
Maritzburg " ; and " Maritz was on the Vaal with 30,000 men and 100 guns," &c. 
The effect of such reports can be imagined. 

On the 28th October, forty armed Free Staters were captured at Engelbrechts- 
drift, on the Vaal River. Questioned as to their reasons for coming into the Trans- 
vaal, they explained that they had been informed that Johannesburg and Pretoria 
were in the hands of General Beyers, and they were going to join him. When they 
heard the true state of affairs, they all went back to their homes. This is a single 
incident out of hundreds.* 

It is impossible to give an adequate idea of the amount of harm done by the 
deliberate dissemination of falsehoods during the early stages of the rebellion. 

In the later stages, when the Government was taking vigorous action against 
the rebel commandos, the most shameless distortions of fact were again resorted to 
by the rebel leaders to keep their following from melting away. The rank and file 
were continually warned not to trust the terms offered by the Government to those 
who surrendered., These terms were a mere blind. 

All who surrendered would be deported and have all their property confiscated, 
and so forth. 

3. Where such misrepresentations were not enough to induce burghers to join 
the rebel commandos, methods of violence were -methodically employed. Com- 
mandeering was resorted to from the very first day. 

As we have seen, Wolmarans and Claassen had begun to commandeer for the 
Treurfontein meeting in August. The same tactics were pursued at the end of 
October, wherever rebel leaders were trying to raise a commando. 

As the commandeering was in the majority of cases carried out by the official 
local commandant or the veld kornet, or other duly appointed officer of the local 
rifle association, it was not always easy to distinguish between the commandeering 
orders on behalf of the Government (which was mobilizing its own commandos at 
the. time) and those on behalf of the rebel leaders. News travels slowly in the country 
districts, and hence in some instances farmers on receiving a commandeering order 
from their own local commandant, signed " By order of General C. F. Beyers, 
Commandant-General," obeyed this order readily enough, under the impression that 
they were being called up by the Government. There are authenticated cases where 
men became aware of the fact that they were rebels only after they had been captured 
by a Government force. These are, of course, exceptions. 

The commandeering order issued by Veldkornet Claassen in the name of General 
Beyers is an example of the type of '"orders" circulated everywhere by the rebel 
leaders. 

These commandeering orders were sent round with parties of armed rebels. The 
farmer so " commandeered " was invariably faced by the prospect of having all his 
serviceable horses and a good deal of his live stock confiscated by the rebels unless he 
joined them. Many joined the rebels in this way, in order to save their property. 

For those who refused to join under any circumstances the position became 
extremely dangerous. They had to be constantly on the alert to escape falling into 
the hands of vengeful bands of rebels. Many dared not sleep in their houses, for 
fear of an attack under cover of the night, but had to seek safety in the veld and sleep 
there with their families. Others received written orders to remain on their farms, 
under penalty of instant dea+h if it were discovered that they had so much as set 
foot outside their boundary. 

By such methods of misrepresentation, by commandeering, by threats of imme- 
diate confiscation of all their movables, and of ultimate punishment (after the 



* It appears that Oost, who was Secretary to General De Wet, made it a regular practice to visit 
the camp fires of the commando every night in order to spread " the latest news " from Europe. This 
news generally referred to what the Germans were doing in Paris and London, which had long since 
fallen into their hands. 



456S 



34 

revolution) for having refused to join, it was possible for the leaders to get together 
a considerable following. 

'A study of these methods helps us to understand not only the sudden outbreak 
of the rebellion, but also its sudden collapse,. When the Government, after having 
exhausted in vain all the means of restoring peace without bloodshed, at last grasped 
the sword, the deluded followers of the rebel leaders for the first time had their eyes 
opened to the true position of affairs. And with their disillusionment came the end 
of the rebellion. 



Part II. 



Policy of the Government with regard to the Suppression of 

the Rebellion. 



I.— EFFORTS OF GOVERNMENT TO RESTORE PEACE. 



In its anxiety to avoid the calamity of civil war, the Government tried every 
means of inducing the rebellious leaders to refrain from extreme steps._ 

The Rev. A. P. Kriel, of Langlaagte, who was known to have much influence 
with General Beyers, was asked by General Botha to go and see him. On the 24th 
October Mr. Kriel proceeded to Damhoek and there interviewed General Beyers. 

General Beyers explained his presence there by saying that he had no longer 
felt safe at Pretoria. When asked why there were so many people with him, he said 
they had come of their own accord, as the Government wanted to commandeer them 
for the war against German South-West Africa. 

Beyers further stated that he had as yet said or done nothing whatever. (As a 
matter of fact, however, he had assumed command of the local rebel commando since 
the previous day.) 

He also said that it was not his intention to shoot, but that if the Government 
forces fired on his men then blood would flow. 

Asked if he had any message for General Botha, Beyers replied that General 
Botha could come with his commando to some place to be indicated by him and that 
he (Beyers) would then come with his commando. They could then discuss the 
situation with each other. 

Owing to the proclamation of Martial Law, General Beyers said, no meetings 
could be held, hence his people had to meet under arms. When Mr. Kriel pointed 
out the danger of such a proceeding, General Beyers promised that not a shot would 
be fired by his men. 

This message was delivered by Mr. Kriel to General Botha on the evening of the 
24th October. 

1. President Steyn invited to mediate.— President Steyn, owing to his unique 
position and the great influence he possessed with all sections of Dutch South 
Africans, was peculiarly well fitted for the role of mediator. 

To President Steyn General Botha on the 22nd addressed a letter, inviting him 
to use his influence with Generals De Wet and Beyers in order to avoid bloodshed. 

President Steyn at once complied, and on the 24th October his son, Dr. Colin 
Steyn, arrived at Pretoria with three letters, addressed to General de Wet, General 
Beyers, and ex-Major Kemp respectively. These letters were to be personally 
delivered by Dr. Steyn. 

The letters stated that President Steyn was sending his son with a letter from 
General Botha to himself, which letter Dr. Steyn would read to them. President 
Steyn then expressed a strong desire to see the recipients and invited them to come 
to Onze Rust for that purpose. 

It was decided at Pretoria that as Kemp was a subordinate, it was not necessary 
to consult him. That same afternoon (24th) Dr. Steyn was sent to Damhoek, where 
General Beyers was then in laager with a rebel commando. Should General Beyers 



35 

decide to accept the invitation to Onze Rust, Dr. Steyn was to inform him that a 
special train would be provided to convey him from the nearest station (Magalies- 
berg) to the Free State.* Dr. Steyn returned to Pretoria that night and reported 
that General Beyers had refused to bind himself to go and see President Steyn before 
he knew that General De Wet had also bound himself to go to President Steyn. 

In the meantime, while Dr. Steyn was on his way to General Beyers, a telegram 
from him had been sent to General De Wet at Memel, explaining that he had a letter 
from his father, which he had to deliver personally, and asking General De Wet to 
leave word with a mutual acquaintance at Vrede where he could be found. 

To this telegram no reply had been received. It was feared that De Wet would 
be suspicious of any emissary coming to him straight from Pretoria. It was felt 
also, in view of the undecided character of General Beyers' reply to President Steyn's 
invitation, that it would, under the circumstances, be more advisable for Dr. Steyn 
to return to Bloemfontein for further consultation with President Steyn. He 
accordingly left for Bloemfontein on the 26th. 

President Steyn after obtaining his son's report, sent him with General Hertzog 
to endeavour to get into touch with General De Wet. On the 28th they arrived at 
Heilbron. where they hoped to find De Wet. He was not there however. Dr. Steyn 
thereupon came north to Pretoria, while General Hertzog remained to search for 
De Wet. 

Alarming as the situation had become in the meantime, the Government still 
hoped to be able to deal with it without having recourse to violence, which would 
certainly precipitate civil war. 

An attempt had been made on the night of the 22nd to arrest Kemp, Pienaar, 
and Wolmarans on their return from the meeting at Kopjes, but they had succeeded 
in evading the police. 

On the 23rd October the Minister of Defence informed the Commissioner of 
Police that " he wishes bloodshed to be avoided by us at this stage." If arrests 
could only be effected by bloodshed, they were not to be attempted, unless specially 
authorized by the Minister, t 

A source of much evil was the commandeering of burghers by the rebels, above 
referred to. Hundreds of burghers joined the ranks of the rebels through fear. 

On the 24th October General Smuts telegraphed to the Resident Magistrate at 
Lichtenburg, stating that " our object must be to keep the Lichtenburg burghers 
quiet and not let them join the rebels from fear." The Magistrate was instructed 
to get as many reliable emissaries among them as possible, and to exhort them to sit 
still and refrain from joining the rebels. The Government, the Minister continued, 
will do them no harm if they return Government property in their possession. The 
well disposed burghers should come together under their officers for their own pro- 
tection, as the rebels will compel them to join their forces. The Magistrate was to 
instruct all officers to this effect. 

On the 26th October an official statement appeared in the Press in which the 
Government announced the facts to the public, and stated that, although it was pre- 
pared to deal firmly with the situation, it had " spared no efforts to preserve the 
peace without bloodshed." 

" Citizens," the statement concluded, "who have been, for some reason or other, 
guilty of disobedience under the Defence Act,i need not fear any action against 
them on that ground on the part of the Government, so long as they remain quietly at 
home and abstain from acts of violence or hostility against the authoritv of the 
Government of the Union." 

Rebellious manifestations, however, continued after this and became more 
violent from day to day. Rebel commandos were mobilizing in both the Transvaal 
and the Orange Free State. 

In the Transvaal the activities of the rebels had become so threatening that it 
was impossible for the Government to allow them to proceed. East, north, and west 
of Pretoria bands of rebels swarmed, commandeering men, horses, and arms, looting 

* See Appendix, C 8a, p. 71. 

t Secretary of Defence to Commissioner of Police, SlSrd October. 

t This was so phrased as to convey clearly to rebel or disaffected persons that if they had refused 
to come out when "commandeered "—really not under the Defence Act but under martial law— their 
offence would be overlooked. It must be clearly understood that only Transvaal burghers were 
commandeered to suppress the Maritz rebellion. Government expressly did not commandeer anv 
Free State burghers, but went on collecting volunteer commandos for German South-West Africa 
according to the original scheme before the Maritz rebellion broke out. 

4563 



36 

'stores and breaking up the railway and telegraph lines. Pretoria itself was 
threatened with an attack, or in any case with complete isolation. 

General Botha, therefore, took the field against the rebels, and on the 27th 
October dispersed a rebel commando led by General Beyers.at Commissie Drift, south 
of Rustenburg. 

After the dispersal of his commando General Beyers himself had hidden so 
effectively that the Government was utterly in the dark as to his movements. 

No information whatever could be obtained. The reports which came in were 
most contradictory. The Minister of Defence believed that General Beyers had 
Tetreated to the fastnesses of the Pilansberg, north of Rustenburg. 

This was the position when Dr. Steyn arrived at Pretoria on the 29th. It was 
quite impossible to give him any assurance that General Beyers could be found 
within the next few days.* 

The Government was. however, making the most strenuous efforts to discover 
the whereabouts of Beyers, and undertook to inform him, immediately he was 
found, of the position with regard to General De "Wet, and to give him a safe conduct 
to proceed to Onze Rust should he desire to do so. 

This information was conveyed to President Steyn, and he was asked to keep 
De Wet at Onze Rust (should he arrive in the meantime) until Beyers, who was being 
searched for in every direction, could arrive. 

The object of Dr. Steyn's second visit to Pretoria was to ascertain, in case the 
rebels should offer to surrender, what terms, if proposed on their behalf, the Govern- 
ment would be prepared to entertain. 

The attitude of the Government at this time is shown in the following memo- 
randum drawn up for the guidance of President Steyn in the negotiations he hoped 
to begin with the rebel leaders : — 

[Translation.'] 
Very Confidential. 

" (1) Government is not prepared to make any proposal or to take any 
step in regard to which it is not assured that it will be acted upon. 

" (2) If any proposal is to be made, as suggested by C(olin) S(teyn) (i.e., 
exemption from criminal prosecution for all disaffected who surrender to 
their local magistrate within a prescribed period and hand over all rifles 
obtained from the Government in their possession and after that go home 
without delay), then this must come from the other side as a proposal which 
the dissatisfied burghers are prepared to accept. 

" (3) In that case the Government will be disposed to give such proposal 
its most serious consideration, as it desires ardently to avoid bloodshed. 

" (4) It is not clear why burghers think they will be commandeered for 
German South- West Africa as Prime Minister has already officially declared 
that this will not take place and that only volunteers will be used (for the 
expedition)." 

Dr.. Steyn was very anxious to make sure of General De Wet, and as events were 
marching rapidly, he returned to the Free State, in order to induce him to come to 
Onze Rust. 

He took with him the above memorandum, which he was to convey to President 
Steyn. 

2. Terms offered to Rebels in Transvaal. — The affair at Commissie Drift on the 
27th October had not frightened the rebels in other districts of the Transvaal. Rebel 
concentrations continued east of Pretoria, and on a much bigger scale in the Western 
Transvaal. A great concourse of armed burghers was reported at the house of the 
" Prophet " Van Rensburg (on the border between the districts of Lichtenburg and 
"Wolmaransstad) on the 27th, while other rebel forces were gathering in the vicinity 
of Wolmaransstad. 

On the 28th October the Magistrate of Wolmaransstad reported that he might 
be able to get to the rebel commando, then near Leeuwdoorns, and asked for 
instructions. 

The Minister of Defence replied, on the 29th, instructing the magistrate to pro- 
ceed to the rebels and to tell them to disperse quietly and go home. If they did so, 

* See Appendix C 11, p. 72. 



•J T 

S3 

nothing would be done to them. If they remained on commando, they would be 
treated as rebels and would run the risk of having all their property confiscated. 

On the 29th October Colonel Alberts scattered the rebel forces which had been 
collected in this area at Treurfontein. These rebel commandos were under the 
command of Beyers and Kemp. 

On the same day Commandant P. Vorster, who had been operating near Hek- 
poort, reported that he had captured some rebels and had surrounded a large number 
in the Magaliesberg. He stated that many of these were said to be anxious to 
return, but feared for their lives. He inquired whether the Minister would issue a 
proclamation guaranteeing their lives, which could be sent to these rebels. 

The Minister in reply (29th October) ordered Commandant Vorster to send 
messages to the misguided and misled people in and near the Magaliesberg, to let 
them know, in the name of the Government, that if they returned home without 
delay and laid down their arms and remained quiet, the Government would take 
no steps against them. Should they give no heed, they would be looked upon and 
punished as rebels.. 

On the 30th October the Minister of Defence telegraphed important instruc- 
tions, embodying the policy of the Government with regard to the terms of surrender 
of rebels, to all commanders of Government forces in the disaffected area. The 
message was as follows : — 

[Translation.'] 

" Send messages and dispatch riders among the disaffected and call upon 
them to lay down their arms and go home without further delay. Government 
will take no further steps against them if they do this. If not, they will be 
prosecuted and punished as rebels." (Addressed to six commanders.) 

At the same time, the five magistrates in the disaffected area received the follow- 
ing instructions from the Minister (30th October) : 

"Please do your best with assistance of local officers to send reports 
round your district calling upon all disaffected burghers to hand in their 
arms and to go home quietly. If they do this Government will do them no 
harm. If, however, they continue in the field, they will be considered as 
rebels and severely dealt with. Ask officers everywhere to arrest ringleaders 
and real mischief makers, but to let rank and file go home." (Addressed to 
Magistrates, Lichtenburg, Wolmaransstad, Klerksdorp, Bloemhof, and 
Rustenburg.) 

Identical instructions were conveyed on the 1st November to the Magistrates of 
Marico, Potchefstroom, Pretoria, and Waterberg, and also to the commanders of 
Government forces east of Pretoria. 

On the 31st Colonel Alberts reported from Treurfontein that there was a very 
strong feeling among the officers under his command against the policy of allowing 
rebels who were openly organizing to return freely to their homes on simply sur- 
rendering their arms and ammunition. 

The Minister replied (31st) : — 

[Translation.] 

" It is in the interests of the Government to put an end to the rising in the 
western Transvaal as speedily as possible. Therefore we promise pardon 
(vrijstelling) to those who surrender immediately. If not, they will be 
punished as rebels." 

The same day the Magistrate of Klerksdorp suggested to the Minister that a 
time limit should be laid down within which the rebels must return home. 
To this the Minister replied (31st) : — 

" Yes. Rebels in order to be left alone must surrender at once. Offer 
is not permanently open." 

All magistrates in the disaffected areas were instructed, on the 1st of November, 
to keep a most careful record of every rebel burgher who should voluntarily sur- 
render, with or without arms. A rebel thus surrendering, but without arms and 
ammunition, was to be warned that his surrender would be cancelled if it was found 
that he had possessed such at the time of his surrender, but had kept or made away 
with the same. 

On the 2nd November inquiries were addressed to the Minister with reference 
to the circular instructions to magistrates and commanders in the field issued on the 
30th October and the 1st of November (as reported above). 



38 

Colonels Mentz and Jordaan, who were operating east of Pretoria, telegraphed 
from Bronkhorstspruit : " Are contents applicable to areas under us, and does it 
(the amnesty offered to rebels) apply to leaders as well ? " 

To this the Minister replied (2nd November) that the terms applied to all, 
whether leaders or not, who forthwith laid down arms. 

In the same connection, Colonel-Commandant Lemmer telegraphed from Lich- 
tenburg to General Smuts on the 2nd November to inform him that he gathered from 
the wives of men with the rebel commandos and also from prisoners that if steps 
could be taken to acquaint the rebels with the terms of the proclamation* a large 
number of them would lay down their arms. He stated that the wives were ready to 
follow the rebel commandos in order to do so. 

Colonel Lemmer wished to know, in case the suggestion was acted upon, what 
guarantee could be given to subaltern leaders like veldkornets, &c. He asked for an 
interview per telephone in order to be quite clear. 

Verbal instructions were given accordingly. 



II.— NEGOTIATIONS WITH GENERAL BEYERS. 



1. General Beyers makes proposals to Government. — The Magistrate of Wol- 
maransstad informed the Minister on the 5th of November that Mr. Cecil Meintjes, 
of Lichtenburg, had been to General Beyers' commando at Katbosfontein (north-west 
of Wolmaransstad) and had brought a message from Beyers and his officers for the 
Government. 

The following extracts from a statement drawn up by Mr. Meintjes immediately 
after the interview will show what passed between him and General Beyers : — 

" I left Lichtenburg on Tuesday, 3rd November, at 1 p.m., on Government 
instructions, to find the Lichtenburg burghers who had joined the forces opposed to 
the Government and to explain and make known to them as much as possible the 
proclamation with regard to the laying down of their arms and to assure them that if 
they and even their field cornets returned to their homes peacefully, no steps would 
be taken against them by the Government." 

. . . (After meeting " General " Wolmarans and General Beyers), " The two 
Generals and myself retired to a bedroom, where an interview lasting about an hour 
took place. I explained to General Beyers the object of my mission, and they 
informed me that they had already acquainted their men with the contents of the 
proclamation. General Beyers then handed me the notice to the burghers . . . 
(given below). " General Beyers then informed me that the men refused to surrender 
under the proclamation, as they stated that after surrender the Government had 
arrested men contrary to the undertaking in the proclamation. That, I said, was 
an infamous untruth ; and I could assure them that such was not the case, and that 
the men who surrendered under the proclamation would not in any way be inter- 
fered with by the Government. ... I took his assurance that the proclamation 
had been made known." (From other parts of Mr. Meintjes' narrative it is clear 
that the men did not know of the notification, and that the leaders jealously kept 
the knowledge of it from them. Mr. Meintjes himself was not permitted to converse 
with the rebels while in their laager.) 

" Thereupon the conversation turned on the resolution by Parliament with 
regard to the campaign against German South-West Africa and the reason for 
General Beyers and others taking up the position in which they stood. Beyers 
stated that he was taking up a position of passive resistance, as they were against 
the campaign (vide Annexure " A "), and as it was impossible to address the burghers 
in the ordinary way, on account of the regulations under Martial Law being so 
strict, they were bound to come together in the manner they had done, to silently 
protest. Such restrictions, he said, were only to be expected in Russia. Upon this 
I pointed out that it did not appear to me to be correct to offer passive resistance with 
rifle in hand, and that the actions of General De Wet in the Orange Free State 
convinced me that he was in open and active rebellion against the Government. 
General Beyers replied that he was not responsible for the actions of General De 



* The circular instructions of 30th October are here referred to. 



39 

Wet. I suggested that it would, in my opinion, have been better if the people who 
thought they had a grievance had remained at their homes quietly and refused to 
be commandeered to proceed to German South- West Africa. That was my impres- 
sion of passive resistance. 

' Turning to the question of the resolution by Parliament, I explained that the 
Government by consulting Parliament had consulted the people within the meaning 
of the Constitution, to which he replied that that was only technical; but I said, even 
allowing it to be technical, it was correct. I contended further that, even if the 
people had been consulted as he suggests, and the matter had been made clear and 
explained to them in the proper light, and taking the views in the Cape Colony and 
Natal and the slight difference of opinion in the Transvaal and Orange Free State, 
the majority would have been in favour of the German South-West Africa campaign, 
and especially if the campaign were to be undertaken with volunteers. With this 
view he disagreed, and gave me the impression that the South African Party, by 
whom the Government ruled, should be the only party to be consulted. Further 
argument followed, and I explained that other parties, such as the Labour and 
Unionist party, have had many grievances agajnst the Government, but they all had 
to submit to Parliament and did not take up the attitude adopted by Generals 
Beyers, De Wet, and their men. In fairness, I must add that General Beyers also 
contended that the Constitution only made provision for Parliament being consulted 
in internal affairs, and that on the question of attacking German South-West Africa 
the people had to be consulted in the manner he suggested. General Beyers denied 
that the Germans first crossed the Union border and ridicules the idea of being at 
war with the common enemy. At my suggestion we agreed to disagree and the 
conversation turned on the reason why the Government had commandeered the people. 
I said to General Beyers that he must know that'after the Government had made 
it public that the campaign -against German South-West Africa would be carried 
on with volunteers, and after General Botha's speech at Bank Station, and before 
any commandeering was done, Maritz turned traitor and threatened to invade the 
Union and that that was the cause of the commandeering. The original trouble, he 
replied, was occasioned by the Government in undertaking the campaign against 
German South-West Africa and that the Government knew who they had in Maritz, 
as the Government had been informed by Maritz and by General Beyers that they 
would not cross the Union border into German South-West Africa. 

" General Beyers denies any complot or any understanding whatsoever as 
between himself and Maritz. (This information was volunteered.) Why he did 
not renounce Maritz when the latter mentioned his name, I cannot say nor did I ask 
him. 

" I then asked General Beyers whether he did not agree with me that most of the 
people with him were there in the belief that they were going to regain their inde- 
pendence, and that many of them had been misled by the prophet Van Rensburg. 
His reply was that some of them may think of independence, and that only some of 
the Lichtenburg people were following old Van Rensburg. 

" General Beyers certainly gave me the impression that he was not there to fight 
for independence, but only for the purpose as stated, and that he had no intention 
of taking the offensive, but would only fight in self-defence. He also stated that 
the people had flocked to him in silent protest against the Government. I assured 
him that hundreds of people in the Lichtenburg District had been commandeered 
in his name, and after inquiring from General Wolmarans whether he had given 
instructions to commandeer, and receiving answer in the negative, General Beyers 
replied that if people were commandeered in his name it was without his instruc- 
tions. I referred to the men of Claasen, who, after being fully equipped bv the 
Government, and having received payment for their horses from the Government, 
turned against the Government. This, I said, I regretted to see done bv Africanders 
and considered it a disgrace, but General Beyers states that he is not to blame. I 
also referred to the conduct of Wolmarans during the latter's few minutes of absence. 
. . . In conclusion. I pointed out the deplorable state of affairs and asked 
General Beyers to climb down and choose the lesser of two evils, the greater of which 
was the rebellion facing us, and also to endeavour to bring the country back to a 
normal state. He said he was prepared to do so, but stated that the Government 
would not climb down at all and would not admit the mistakes made bv them 
Reference was made to General Smuts bragging at the Pretoria Club about beino- 
able to obtain 30,000 volunteers, and where were they now? Of course, here ao-ain 



4U 

General Beyers loses sight of the fact that 'commandeering was forced upon the 
Government by Maritz and the rebellion. 

" I plainly informed General Beyers'that I did not think that as far as he was 
concerned the cause justified his action or, in other words, that even presuming that 
his contention was correct, which is in no way admitted, his provocation was 
sufficient to have brought about the present state of affairs. 

" I asked General Beyers what, in his opinion, would be the outcome or result 
of the whole matter, and he replied that he knew the Government would apprehend 
him, other leaders, and many of the men, but his experience in the late war had 
taught him that it would take the Government a very long time before they caught 
every one. 

■' I may add that although I got the assurance that the proclamation had been 
made known to the men, I was not allowed into the laager, the reason for which may 
be either to prevent me from conversing with the people or not to enable me to 
gauge their strength. In this connection, I must state, however, that later in the 
afternoon and after the interview with General Beyers I spoke to some of his body- 
guard, but a few minutes after his departure for the laager one of his men, a certain 
Jooste who is well known to me, returned and informed me that General Beyers did 
not wish me to speak to the men too much. 

" Lastly, and in order to endeavour to bring about an amicable settlement, I 
asked General Beyers whether there was anything reasonable he wished me to submit 
to the Government, and if so I would willingly submit it on my return. He then 
submitted verbally more or less what is contained in Annexure ' B,' which I pre- 
ferred to take down in writing at his dictation after he had convened a war council 
suggested by him, and which was taken down by me after the war council had met. 
On the verbal suggestion I asked General Beyers about General De Wet and others, 
and he stated that he would be able to influence them to agree with him. 

" We thereupon adjourned ; he returned to the laager to convene the war council. 

" In the evening General Beyers returned and submitted what is contained in the 
Annexure ' B ' and which was taken down by me at his dictation. With regard to 
dictation of this document, I may mention that General Beyers stopped after dictat- 
ing paragraphs 1 and 2, and I informed him that the suggestion was too general, 
and I should like to have something more definite, whereupon he dictated para- 
graph 3. I then asked him what about the leaders, and he dictated paragraph 4, 
but said that as far as he was concerned he would be prepared to stand his trial as 
his conscience was clear. 

" It was then arranged that if the Government thought a solution possible on the 
lines suggested, an emissary had to be sent under a white flag to General Beyers, either 
from Wolmaransstad or Schweizer Reneke. I informed General Beyers that I doubted 
very much whether the Government would allow the leaders to go unpunished as that 
would show too much weakness on the Government side, although I would like to see 
the Government find a way out of the difficulty without further bloodshed and with 
the object in view to also choose the lesser of two evils if possible. 

' Before my departure the next morning I wrote General Beyers the letter copy 
of which is annexed marked " C," so that there may be no misunderstanding.* 

" I informed General Beyers also that on my return I would fully report. He 
would, of course, not allow me to return the afternoon after the interview, stating 
that I was travelling by motor and they were only on horseback, and besides he had 
to convene the war council, the result of which had to be intimated to me that 
evening." 

The documents referred to by Mr. Meintjes follow here : — 

Annexure "A." 
[Translation^ 

Steenbokfontein, 

29th October, 1914. 

Notice. 

Notice is hereby given to all burghers of the Union that, whereas the 
Government of the Union has decided to conquer German South-West Africa 
and the members of Parliament belonging to the South African Party, on 
incorrect reports and statements, have confirmed the decision of the Govern- 
ment; [and as Parliament has taken this step without consulting the nation, 

* This letter is not reproduced. 



41 

whereby the rights of the people (volksrecht) have been outraged]; and 
whereas protests have been raised against the godless attack on German 
South-West, against a nation that has never done us any harm, but has 
always been well disposed; and whereas the Government has deprived the 
public of its right to protest peaceably by proclaiming Martial Law and 
regulations, now therefore we continue to protest, arms in hand, against that 
so dangerous principle, which the Government desires to carry out against 
the wish and the will of the nation, being convinced that our nation will be 
plunged into the greatest misery and disaster, and that God's curse will fall 
on us, if this resolution of the Government is carried out. 

As our attitude of protest is not to shed fraternal blood, but on the con- 
trary, as already proved, to avoid this where possible and under no circum- 
stances to assume the offensive (aanvallenderwi j ze op te treden), we in con- 
clusion call upon all burghers to use all their powers and influence against 
the conquest of German South- West Africa, and at the same time to refuse 
to be used by the Government to fight against us with weapons, as our only 
object is the honour of God and the welfare of people and country. 

(Signed) C. R. De Wet, 
C. F. Beyers, 
Generals of the Protesting Burghers. 

N.B.— In another copy of the above, dated the 28th of October, handed by General 
Beyers to Captain Brink at Bloemfontein on the occasion of his (Beyers') visit to President 
Steyn, the paragraph given in brackets is omitted. 

Annexure " B." 
^Translation.'] 

Council of war of General Beyers shares his view as hereunder : — 

(1.) Unhappily blood has been shed because Government people (men- 
schen) charged the opposing party. According to evidence of this side, it 
appears that the first shots came from the Government force. This is in 
execution of orders of General Beyers, that no shooting may take place except 
in self-defence. 

(2.) View of General Beyers : If Government continue the war against 
German West with original undertaking, i.e., with volunteers, then there 
will be, so far as we are concerned, no objection to a friendly solution of the 
present position. 

(3.) If the Government continues the war against German West with 
volunteers alone and under no obligation then we are disposed to disband 
and go home quietly. 

(4.) It is also a condition of the council of war that all* officers and 
leaders will not be prosecuted. 

2. General Beyers takes hostile Action before his Proposals can be considered. 
— Immediately on the arrival of Mr. Meintjes at Wolmaransstad, the local Magis- 
trate telegraphed an account of his interview with General Beyers to General Smuts, 
giving the conditions on which General Beyers and his officers were prepared to 
disband their forces and go home, and also mentioning that General Beyers had 
stated that he could influence De Wet and Kemp to agree with his views. 

General Smuts instructed the Magistrate the same day (5th November) : " To 
proceed under white flag to General Beyers and to explain to him that the circular 
notice sent out to the commandos t applies to the leaders, and that the Government 
will not prosecute them for rebellion, provided they surrender without further delay. 
It is to be clearly understood that amnesty applies only to those who forthwith lay 
down arms, surrender all Government property in their possession, and quietly 
return to their homes. 

" Regarding other point raised in the messaget the Government have already, 
through formal statements by the Prime Minister and otherwise, made it clear that 
they intend to prosecute the war in German South- West Africa by means of voluntary 
recruiting and not by commandeering, and they see no reason for departing from 
this policy. Such commandeering of burghers as took place recently was with a view 
to suppressing rebellion raised by Maritz and others in the Cape Province, and not 

* Sic. t Rebel commandos. J From Beyers. 

4563 v 



42 

for the purpose of operations in German South- West Africa. Please impress on 
General Beyers that any action to be taken under the notice or this statement must be 
taken without any delay." 

The Minister's message given above was dispatched from Pretoria at 1.45 p.m.* 
on the 5th November. 

At this very moment General Beyers was crossing the railway line near Kings- 
wood and attacking the Government forces guarding it. He had thus marched 
twenty-five miles from Katbosfontein, where Mr. Meintjes had interviewed him the 
previous evening. He had also detained Mr. Meintjes until his commando was on 
the march, giving as his reason that Meintjes was travelling by motor and his own 
men on horseback. 

Now, Mr. Meintjes was charged with a message from Beyers and his officers, 
giving the conditions on which they were prepared to disband and go peacefully to 
their homes. If this was seriously meant, the proper course for General Beyers 
would have been to send Mr. Meintjes off to deliver his message to the Government 
as soon as possible, while he himself kept his commando quietly at Katbosfontein, 
pending the arrival of a reply. There were no Government forces in the neighbour- 
hood, as General Beyers (owing to his excellent system of patrols) well knew, and 
thus no hostilities were to be feared if he remained at Katbosfontein. On the other 
hand, any advance south towards the railway line on his part was bound to produce 
bloodshed, as Government forces occupied all important positions on the line and 
had been guarding it for days. Furthermore, any move on his part would necessarily 
delay the arrival of the reply of the Government to his message which, he had 
arranged, should be sent from Wolmaransstad or Schweizer Reneke. 

In acting as he did, therefore, General Beyers clearly showed that his professed 
anxiety for peace was not sincere, and that, so far from seeking a peaceful solution, 
he was deliberately courting a collision. 

The Magistrate of "Wolmaransstad reported on the evening of the 5th that he had 
started for Kingswood (on the track of Beyers), but had not been able to get into touch 
with him. He proposed to follow him again the next day and inquired : " If I find 
that there has been actual military operations, will that qualify the Government's 
offer ? " 

This telegram arrived at Pretoria at 11 p.m. on the 5th. The next morning 
(6th), early (9.25), the Minister replied : " In view of yesterday's events,! it is not 
necessary for you to proceed with your mission as instructed my D/0061 of 
yesterday." 

3. General Beyers goes to President Steyn. — The Magistrate had, however, left 
early that morning to locate General Beyersf and so the Minister's message did not 
reach him in time. 

Late that night (6th) the Magistrate telegraphed that he had followed General 
Beyers into the Orange Free State, and had interviewed him at 12.45 that day. 
" Beyers' reply is," he continued, " that he must see De Wet before replying, but 
can answer for Kemp. Will Government give him a clear passage to see De Wet ? 
Beyers will wait where I have seen him to receive your reply unless molested. Will 
you facilitate his seeing De Wet? In the meantime, so far as the commando is 
concerned, leave it alone unmolested. Please wire your reply to Beyers by hand of 
Commandant Swartz, who will send it out and endeavour to find Beyers if he has 
moved. I took precaution to point out clearly that I considered that your offer was 
given on the understanding that it might be delivered at or about Katbosfontein, 
and I did not know what position now would be since he had crossed into the Orange 
Free State. On my arrival here§ I find troops have moved out and others are 
following. ... I declined to guarantee that operations would be suspended 
against him, and explained I was purely the bearer of your reply to his communica- 
tions through Meintjes." 

The Minister had in the meantime received information from the Orange Free 
State which made him hope that De Wet had at last agreed to a conference with 
President Steyn.|| He therefore telegraphed to Commandant Swartz at Kingswood 
(November 6th) : " Please send through express to General Beyers to tell him that 



» The Magistrate's telegram, reporting Meintjes' interview with Beyers, reached Pretoria at 10.o9 
that morning. 

t The engagement between Beyers and Commandant Swartz near Kingnwoo<l. 

i Telegram from A.R.M., Wolmaransstad, 6th November. 

(j At Kingswood, from where the message was wired to Pretoria. 

II See Appendix, C 29 and 30, p. 74. 



4rS 

according to my information General De Wet and Colin Steyn left Lindley this 
morning for Bloemfontein to consult President Steyn. I hereby give General Beyers 
a free conduct through our lines to proceed to President Steyn and back. Unfortu- 
nately I cannot undertake to suspend operations in this case as these are going on in 
other parts of South Africa." 

When this telegram arrived at Kingswood, Commandant Swartz was already on 
the Vaal in pursuit of General Beyers. The message was thereupon handed to 
Colonel-Commandant Lemmer, who was proceeding to take command of the forces 
which had pursued General Beyers' commando into the Free State* 

On the 7th these forces came upon the rebel commando, and scattered it to the 
four winds, capturing the whole rebel lager and taking 350 prisoners (more than a 
third of the whole rebel force). 

When General Beyers was next heard of he was at Bloemfontein. It appears 
from a statement made to President Steyn by General Beyers t that he (Beyers) 
received the safe conduct contained in the Minister's telegram to Commandant 
Swartz (referred to above) and countersigned subsequently by Colonel-Commandant 
Lemmer, on the 9th. He had thereupon gone to Onze Rust. 

On the 10th November General Smuts was informed^ that General Beyers had 
arrived at Bloemfontein, on his way to President Steyn, but that the local Staff 
Officer, Captain Brink, was detaining him pending instructions. 

The Minister thereupon telegraphed to Captain Brink (10th November) : 
" Inform General Beyers that he cannot be allowed to go through to President Steyn. 
Since he obtained safe conduct General De Wet has finally declined to go to Steyn, 
who has in consequence declared the meeting off. His safe conduct avails till he 
reaches his commando. § 

The next day (11th), Captain Brink telegraphed : " General Beyers was allowed 
through to President Steyn on authority of your wire to Commandant De la Rey 
Swartz, and countersigned by L. A. S. Lemmer, Colonel-Commandant. Beyers is 
now at Onze Rust." 



III.— PRESIDENT STEYN'S EFFORTS FOR PEACE. 



1. Attempts to induce De Wet to meet President Steyn. — It will be remembered 
that on the 26th General Hertzog with Dr. Steyn had left Bloemfontein in order to 
find General De Wet, who was believed to be at Heilbron. On failing to find him 
here, Dr. Steyn had on the 29th proceeded to Pretoria, while General Hertzog con- 
tinued the search for General De Wet. 

On the 29th, General Hertzog was at Reitz with Rocco de Villiers, and was 
expected to meet De Wet that day.|| The meeting appears to have taken place near 
Reitz, at which place General Hertzog remained for three daysll (from the 29th to 
the 31st). De Wet was then in the neighbourhood with a very large force of rebels. 

On the 31st, the magistrate of Frankfort reported that the meeting between 
Hertzog and De Wet had been without result. De Wet would fight unless the 
Government resigned and withdrew the troops from German South-West Africa.** 

This agrees with the account given of De Wet's answer to a deputation from 
the burghers of Senekal which had been sent to inquire with what object he was 
in the field, tt The deputation returned to Senekal on the 31st, and reported as 
follows : " De Wet announces that all troops be removed from German South- 
West Africa to within Union borders. If this is not done, he will fight for the 
independence of the Transvaal and the Free State. He states that arms, etc., will be 
supplied him by Maritz."$ 

* Telegram from Captain O'Reilly at Kingswood, 6th November. 

t See Appendix, C. 41, p. 76. 

X Telegram from General Botha at Theunissen, Orange Free State. 

§ Dispatched from Pretoria at 10.40 p.m. on the 10th. 

j| Disso, Kroonstad ; Postmaster, Parys. 

*[[ Postmaster, Reitz. 
** Magistrate, Frankfort, to Disso, Kroonstad. 
ft See below, Chapter VII, p. 56. 
j % Telegram, Magistrate, Senekal, 31st October. 

456S F 2 



44 

General Hertzog had apparently not succeeded in persuading General De Wet 
to come to President Steyn. Dr. Steyn rejoined General Hertzog at Heilbron on the 
30th, and they thereupon set out again to find De Wet. They met him on Saturday, 
the 31st, near Reitz. General De Wet now stated to Dr. Steyn that he had not at 
first understood that President Steyn wished to see him. 'If President Steyn really 
desired to see him, he would go to Onze Rust even if he had to creep on hands and 
knees to get there. De Wet then instructed Dr. Steyn to meet him at Bethlehem on 
Tuesday, the 3rd November, and promised to accompany him the next day (Wednes- 
day, 4th November) to Onze Rust, where they expected to arrive on Thursday the 5th. 

General Hertzog and Dr. Steyn thereupon left General De Wet, the former 
returning to Bloemfontein via Kroonstad, while Dr. Steyn again came to Pretoria. 

The District Staff Officer. Kroonstad, had an interview with General Hertzog 
the same day, on the arrival of the latter at Kroonstad, after which the officer 
reported to General Smuts that " De Wet expects to be at Bloemfontein on Thurs- 
day " (the 5th November).* 

The Government acted on this understanding, General Smuts on the 31st 
October giving instructions to the Union Commanders in the Orange Free State 
that if De Wet wished to proceed to Onze Rust to see President Steyn he was not to 
be stopped. A personal safe conduct had previously been provided for General 
De Wet.t 

On the 1st November a telegraml from President Steyn was received, informing 
General Smuts that General Hertzog had arrived at Bloemfontein on that day and 
reported that the position was hopeful. On receiving this report, President Steyn 
had written to General De Wet, asking him to take no military steps so long as the 
negotiations lasted. This letter reached General De Wet the next day. § 

On the 1st of November President Steyn had informed General Smuts of his 
letter to De Wet, and had requested the Government, in similar terms,t to take no 
military steps while the negotiations lasted. General Smuts the same day issued 
telegraphic instructions! to all Union forces in the Orange Free State, ordering 
them not to undertake any operations pending further instructions. 

2. De Wet's Evasions. — Dr. Steyn had returned to Pretoria because of a 
difficulty which had arisen with regard to the terms of surrender which it was 
hoped to offer the Government on behalf of the rebels. He had found that if the 
rebellious burghers were to be asked by their leaders to hand over not only arms 
which were Government property, but also their private arms, this demand would be 
a serious impediment to a peaceful solution of the crisis. Dr. Steyn accordingly 
came to inquire whether the Government would be satisfied with the surrender of all 
Government property in possession of the rebels. 

Having received a satisfactory reply, Dr. Steyn on the 2nd November returned 
to the Free State. At Heilbron a message from De Wet reached him, asking him 
to come to Vechtkop, sixteen miles away, where De Wet was holding a meeting with 
his officers. 

It appears that De Wet's officers at this meeting expressed a strong and unani- 
mous wish that he should at once proceed to President Steyn, without undertaking 
any further hostilities. 

De Wet professed himself ready to go, but stated that he wished to " take 
Kroonstad and Lindley first." As Kroonstad was known to be strongly held by 
Government forces, an attack on it would have led to a sanguinary encounter. The 
officers objected so strongly to the proposed attack on Kroonstad that De Wet eventu- 
ally agreed to a compromise : the attack on Kroonstad would be abandoned and 
Lindley would be occupied. 

To Dr. Steyn De Wet said that he would be ready to accompany him from 
Lindley to Onze Rust on the afternoon of the next day (Tuesday. 3rd November). 

De Wet duly occupied Lindley on the morning of the 3rd. That afternoon 
some of his most prominent officers had a long consultation with him, again urging 
him to go to President Steyn. De Wet remarked that he did not wish to arrogate 
to himself the absolutism of a pope, and that if the majority of his officers wished 

* Disso, Kroonstad, to General Smuts, 31st October, 
t See Appenlix, C 9 and 12, p. 72. 
t See Appendix, C 17, p. 73. 
$ See Appendix. C 17 and 19, p. 73. 

1 D/0935 (to Colonel Brand) ; D/0954 (to Disso, Kroonstad) : also D/0988 and D/0942— all of 
1st November. 



45 

it, he would go. He now called a meeting for the next day (Wednesday, 4th 
November) to decide the question. 

It should here be remarked that De Wet had already on the 31st promised 
General Hertzog and Dr. Steyn to go. He had again promised Dr. Steyn this on the 
2nd November. He had further made the same promise to Mr. J. Brand Wessels and 
Commandant Prinsloo, of Bethlehem, on the 2nd.* Moreover, the Vechtkop meeting 
on the 2nd, as well as many private interviews, had shown as clearly as possible that 
it was the unanimous wish of the higher officers that De Wet should go. 

Consequently, this proposal to hold another meeting with his officers on Wed- 
nesday the 4th, to consider the question, can only be regarded as an expedient to 
waste time. 

That this was indeed the case was proved by what took place at the meeting on 
Wednesday. De Wet here for the first time took up the attitude that, as he was 
committed to the movement, together with Beyers and Kemp, he could not go to 
President Steyn without them. He now proposed to write to President Steyn, 
instead of going personally. 

One of his most prominent officers warned him openly that if he did not go to 
President Steyn he (the officer) with his commando would not accompany him a 
step further in his undertaking. De Wet's reply was that he would be very sorry to 
lose the officer in question, but that he would go to German South-West Africa with 
his other commandos. If these should refuse to accompany him further, he would 
still go with his own (Vrede) commando. If this commando also refused to proceed, 
he would go with his staff only. If his staff should abandon him, he would go with 
his sons alone. 

After the meeting General De Wet wrote to Dr. Steyn (who in the meantime was 
being practically detained at Lindley) ordering him to remain at Lindley and not 
to quit it before 10 a.m. on Friday, the 6th. He was then to proceed towards 
Ventersburg, near which place he would then meet De Wet. 

Dr. Steyn proceeded towards Ventersburg as directed, but did not find De Wet, 
At Ventersburg he received information of De Wet's whereabouts, and found him 
that afternoon at about 5 o'clock.. De Wet now informed him that he had not yet 
written to President Steyn, as he was waiting for information from the Transvaal. 
He would write as soon as he had obtained this information. He asked Dr. Steyn 
to wait till the next Monday (10th). 

Dr. Steyn refused to wait, but undertook to return to De Wet, after having seen 
President Steyn. Dr. Steyn thereupon left for Onze Rust, via Winburg, from where 
he dispatched the following report to General Smuts : — 

" I have just returned from General De Wet. He insists on Beyers and 
Kemp being present at Onze Rust as a condition to his going. On Tuesday t 
I understood he was going to Onze Rust at the unanimous request of his 
officers, but at a meeting on Wednesday! he insisted on above condition, and 
eventually he decided to write a letter to President Steyn. He informed me 
of that on Friday. § He, however, wanted me to wait till Monday, but I 
deemed it advisable to proceed direct to Bloemfontein. He then asked me 
to return on Monday, in which case he might accompany me; but I do not 
know whether he will. If De Wet can be induced to stop his advance and 
there is any chance of finding Beyers and Kemp, there is still chance of peace. 
De Wet's officers are still in same frame of mind as mentioned in my last 
report."|| 

It will be remembered that Thursday, the 5th, had been decided upon as the 
day on which De Wet was to meet President Steyn at Bloemfontein. When 
Thursday came he was anxiously awaited, but did not appear. 

In answer to inquiries from President Steyn, If General Smuts sent telegrams to 
various places in the northern Orange Free State to find out where De Wet was. The 
Magistrate of Lindley, in reply to this, reported that De Wet was then laagered near 
Lovat (about two and a half hours west of Lindley), where he was believed to be 
holding a krijgsraad with his officers. He added that Dr. Steyn was going out to 
De Wet that evening, and that he was informed that there was every possibility of 
De Wet's leaving for President Steyn the next day (6th). 

* They had been to De Wet on a peace mission. See below, Chapter VII, p. 55. 
t 3rd November. + 4th November. § 6th November. 

I 1st November. Oral. f See Appendix C 29, 30, and 31, p. 74. 



46 

On the afternoon of the 6th, there being still no sign of De Wet, President Steyn 
sent three gentlemen to look for him.* General Hertzog remained with President 
Steyn to be on the spot whenever General De Wet should arrive. 

It was not till the 7th, two days after the date on which he should have arrived, 
that President Steyn was to be enlightened as to De Wet's real intentions. 

3. His real Intentions. — The reason for these evasions is unmistakably shown 
in De Wet's correspondence at this period. One of his letter-books was found after 
the fight at Mushroom Valley. It contains carbon copies of several letters written by 
General De Wet while Dr. Steyn was trying to persuade him to come to Onze Rust. 

In a letter written on the 4th November (the day after Dr. Steyn's interview 
with him, when he had undertaken to go to President Steyn " at the unanimous 
request of his officers"), De Wet orders Commandant Barend Celliers and Com- 
mandant J. Meyer (Kroonstad) to move down to Theunissen, passing Kroonstad on 
the west side. He also instructs them to blow up bridges (as near as possible to 
Kroonstad), to work in combination in organizing and in the destruction of com- 
munications (telegraphic and other). 

From this it is clear that De Wet had entirely ignored the request of President 
Steyn, conveyed to him in his letter of the 1st November, to stop all military move 
ments pending the peace negotiations. 

On the 5th of November, the day on which he was so anxiously expected at Onze 
Rust, De Wet was writing letters which show very little disposition towards peace. 
Here is one : — 

[Translation.] 

" In the Field, 

"November 5th, 1914. 

" ASST. KOMMANDANT GENERAL 

" N. W. Serfontein, 

" In the Field. 

ik Please compose registers of all your burghers who have already joined 
or may still join. Full names, surnames, names of the father (if required for 
identification), place and district of residence must be registered, so that we 
shall know accurately which burghers stand by us. 

" Without making any promises now already (we are not going to divide 
the bear's skin before the bear is shot), I wish it to be known that my intention 
is that, if we attain our jdeal, those burghers who support our endeavour to 
attain independence are to receive a reward. The money for this (purpose) 
must come out of an assessment levied upon the burghers who remained at 
home, the unfaithful who fought against us, and the mines." 

He had written in similar terms, using the same metaphor of the bear's skin, to 
Assistant Commandant- General Rocco de Villiers the day before (the 4th), 

On the 5th De Wet also orders Christiaan Kriek, M.P.C., and Sam Adendorff 
to mobilize Ficksburg without delay, and march to Smaldeel. He mentions that 
very cheering news has come from the Transvaal (rebel) commandos. 

The same day Commandant Conroy is also ordered to mobilize Hoopstad. De 
Wet states that he hopes to be with him in a few days. 

Boshof , further west, was still quiet and practically uninfected. De Wet now 
writes to Commandant Van Niekerk, M.L.A., appointing him Assist. Commandant- 
General for Boshof, and to Commandants Rheeders and Jacobs calling upon them 
to mobilize their district. 

" Our purpose," he continues, " is to get to Maritz. After arriving there to 
return immediately with Maritz to Pretoria. There, in the capital of South Africa, 
we shall, if God (in whom all our trust is) so wills, haul down the flag and proclaim 
our independence." 

4. His active Hostilities while Government Forces stand fast—While the 
Government forces everywhere in the Free State were standing fast, in obedience 
to the orders which had been issued at the request of President Steyn, De Wet's 
commandos were incessantly active. On the 4th, while an armoured tram was 
repairing the line south of Kroonstad, which had been destroyed by the rebels, the 
latter blew up a bridge behind it, and the train was forced to proceed to Theunissen 
for safety. On the 5th, which should have been the day of the peace conference, the 

* See Appendix C 31, p. 74. 



47 

rebels blew up the Kroonstad-Natal line in two places. This was apparently the 
result of the orders issued to Commandants Celliers and Meyer the day before.* 

The same day Conroy blew up the railway bridge at Virginia. On the 6th a 
rebel force attacked one of Colonel M. Botha's patrols, south of Kroonstad. 

The Government was not aware at this moment of the full extent of De Wet's 
activities, but reports from their various commandos were constantly coming in with 
news of hostile acts like those described above. It was clear from these that De Wet 
did not wish for peace. 

On the 7th General Smuts telegraphed to President Steyn that De Wet's delay 
(in coming to Bloemfontein), together with the activity of his commandos, made the 
position almost hopeless. 

Fighting had started at Kroonstad to oppose the destruction of the railway line 
and the blowing up of bridges.! 

5. A ttitude of General Beyers.— General Beyers, as has been shown elsewhere, 
was not a whit more anxious for peace than was General De Wet v . While professing 
to be out merely in " passive " resistance against the proposed German South-West 
Africa expedition, and offering to lay down arms if it were to be carried on with 
volunteers only, he deliberately sought a conflict by moving his commando across the 
railway line, which was being guarded by Government forces. 

That it was his deliberate intention to bring about a collision is evident from 
his action in keeping Mr. Meintjes at Katbosfontein until his commando had moved 
off. Mr. Meintjes had then to proceed to Wolmaransstad in order to communicate 
with the Minister at Pretoria. The telegram containing his message reached 
Pretoria at 10.59 a.m. 

After it had been considered by members of the Cabinet, a reply was dispatched 
— at 1.45 p.m. At this very moment, General Beyers was attacking the commando 
under Commandant de la Rey Swartz, which was guarding the railway line near 
Kingswood. 

6. Conclusion. — In both cases, therefore, it is self-evident that the rebel generals 
were trifling with the seriously meant offers of peace made by the Government, and 
were taking advantage of its anxiety to avoid bloodshed to concentrate their forces 
and to complete their organization. 



IV.— DE WET WANTS WAR. 



1. 



A Changed Situation. — The complexion of affairs was now entirely altered. 
General De Wet had openly flouted the well meant efforts of President Steyn to 
come to an understanding. / 

As lf to make assurance doubly sure, a report was received at Pretoria on the 
7th from Colonel Brand that he had that day captured two of De Wet's dispatch- 
riders, with dispatches written at the farm De Hoop (District Senekal). One was 
addressed to Commandant C. A. van Niekerk, M.L.A., appointing him Assistant 
Commandant-General for the District of Boshof. Another was addressed to Com- 
mandants Rheeders and Jacobs, asking them to mobilize Boshof and informing them 
of his present position and the strength of the various rebel commandos in the east. 
Me himself, he stated further, was advancing with his commando to connect with 
the south and south-eastern commandos. The Boshof commando was to proceed in 
the direction of Jacobsdal. 

The object of the rebels, he continued, was to join Maritz and then to go to 

■L J 6 OOF let. I 

Pres |dent Steyn was of course, not aware of De Wet's real intentions and still 
believed that peace could be restored. On the 7th Dr. Steyn arrived at Bloem- 
fontein from De Wets commando, where he had been trying to persuade him to 
come to Bloemfontein After hearing his son's report, President Steyn telegraphed 
to General Smuts that he was sending Dr. Steyn and Mr. Charles Fichardt (M.L.A.) 

* See letter above. " 

^^ftSSS*. 4118 * De Wet bad giveu OTdere to his Kl -°°» stad — d ° *»■ «" 

De 4£lS!S^!SST ° f the ' Cal ' b0n C ° PieS ° f the8e di8Patch6S Were f0UDd hl the le^-book of 



48 

immediately to De Wet to bring him to Bloemfontein. He was asking De Wet to 
let his commandos move in such a way as not to come in conflict with Government 
forces. President Steyn requested General Smuts to issue similar instructions to the 
Union forces with regard to rebel commandos. President Steyn further expressed 
his desire to go personally to De Wet, but added that the state of his health, which 
had suffered under the strain of the crisis, would not permit him to do so. Dr. Steyn 
would also, he continued, try to get in touch with General Beyers. 

General Smuts replied (7th November) that from dispatches of De Wet's which 
had been intercepted it was clear that he was proceeding with his preparations in 
spite of all President Steyn's efforts. General Beyers had been defeated near Hoop- 
stad that day by Colonel Lemmer, who had captured 350 of Beyers' men. 

The following day (8th) General Smuts sent a further telegram* to President 
Steyn, which reads as follows : — 

{Translation.'] 

" I consider it my duty to call your attention to the following, before you 
meet De Wet and Beyers : When Colin t was here in connection with treat- 
ment of rebel leaders in case of unconditional surrender, no open hostilities 
had as yet taken place. De Wet and Beyers have, however, delayed their 
going to you very much and in meantime open war has broken out and con- 
siderable engagements have been fought, much public and private property 
destroyed, and many lives lost. Only to : day the Winburg commando under 
Cronje has been destroyed. Under these circumstances the situation has 
changed to such an extent that I fear public opinion, which has been much 
embittered, will not tolerate a complete amnesty in the case of the most 
prominent leaders." 

2. De Wet refuses a Conference. — As stated in this telegram, an engagement 
had taken place that day between some of De Wet's forces and a small commando 
under Commandant Cronje, M.L.A., which was trying to get into touch with 
Colonel Brand's forces on the railway line4 On the 9th President Steyn sent a 
telegram to General Smuts to say that Mr. Fichardt and Dr. Steyn had returned 
after interviewing De Wet, and that they reported that De Wet now refused to come 
to Bloemfontein. 

Dr. Steyn had, therefore, not gone to seek General Beyers. 

President Steyn added that his efforts to arrange a conference had thus failed. 
If these effusions of blood had not taken place in the Free State and the Transvaal, 
he would still have hoped for a peaceful solution. That was why he had always 
been so anxious that there should be no violent action. 

3. Who is to Blame f — Whatever violent action had been taken had indubitably 
been the result of the activities of the two rebel leaders. The consequences must 
therefore be laid at their door. 

It is, however, extremely doubtful whether the " violent " measures taken so 
far by the Government had had the slightest effect on the intentions of the two 
rebellious Generals. ' On the contrary, there is ample reason for believing that the 
inaction of the Government, arising out of its extreme anxiety to avoid bloodshed, 
had been interpreted by Generals De Wet and Beyers as a sign of weakness, and 
that the earnest efforts to induce them to confer with President Steyn had 
strengthened them in their belief that the Government was afraid to strike. , Both 
of them deliberately refused to avail themselves of the various opportunities offered 
them to consider the possibility of a peaceful solution. Both of them, while profes- 
sing their anxiety for a peaceful solution, were simultaneously taking hostile action, 
which had inevitably to lead to collisions with Government forces. Both of them 
profited by the action of the Government in ordering its forces to make no offensive 
movements. 

In the case of General De Wet, this disingenuousness was particularly glaring. 
He not only deceived President Steyn with his professions of readiness to come to a 
conference, but at the same time grossly misled his own officers, who had unanimously 



* D/0150. t I.e. Dr. Steyn. 

% As his captured letters show, De Wet was at the farm De Hoop (belonging to Veldcomvt Smit), 
District Senekal, on the 5th. He must have moved his commando to Doornbcrg, on the Sand River, 
in the interval between the 5th and the 8th. He had received President Steyn's letter asking him to 
make no military movements on the 2nd. Commandant Cronje set out from Winburg on the 7th, in 
order to join Colonel Brand at Theunissen, on the railway line. 



49 

expressed the wish that he should go to the conference and were under the impression 
that he was going to do so.* 

- He alone of all the rebel officers in the Free State appears to have wanted war. 
To his officers he professes readiness to go to a conference, while secretly ordering 
military movements at a distance and sending false reports of rebel successes to 
encourage further rebellion. , 

General Smuts, in answer to President Steyn's announcement of the failure of 
his efforts, replied that "after all the delay nothing else could perhaps have been 
expected. "t 

The rebel leaders had openly grasped the sword. Thrusting aside all the 
chances of a peaceful solution offered them, they had appealed to the dread arbitra- 
ment of war. 



V.— THE GOVERNMENT TAKES ACTION. 



That the scheme for u peace conference had failed, not because of " violent 
measures " on the part of the Government, but because of the absence of such 
measures, was to be strikingly demonstrated within the next few days. 

1. Beyers wishes to confer with Be Wet. — On the 10th President Steyn informed 
General Smuts that General Beyers had just arrived, with his secretary ,| and asked 
the Minister to give General Bevers and his secretary a safe-conduct to proceed to 
General De Wet. 

The circumstances leading up to General Beyers' journey to Onze Rust are set 
out elsewhere. It may here be remarked that he had first with his commando burst 
his way by violence and bloodshed through the Union forces into the Free State in 
order to get to General De Wet, without waiting for a safe-conduct from the Govern- 
ment (which at that time had only to be asked for). 

In the interval he had lost nearly half his commando as prisoners and the 
remainder had been scattered to the four winds. 

On the other hand, General De Wet had finally refused to come to a conference 
and was vigorously organizing his commandos, while his success against Com- 
mandant Cronje's little force had obviously encouraged him. 

All idea of a peace conference had been abandoned in consequence of De Wet's 
refusal to come to Bloemfontein. 

2. His request refused. — It is, therefore, not surprising that when General 
Smuts was informed of General Beyers' arrival at Bloemfontein, he refused to allow 
him to proceed to Onze Rust, and that when General Beyers was allowed to proceed 
thither without awaiting General Smuts' sanction, the latter should in any case 
refuse him a safe-conduct to General De Wet. 

After consulting his colleagues at Pretoria and General Botha in the field, 
General Smuts (on the 11th) informed President Steyn that he regretted that he was 
unable to give General Beyers a pass to proceed to General De Wet. General De 
Wet's attitude was such that he expected no benefit would result from a meeting. He 
therefore requested General Beyers to return to his commando. 

3. Policy of Government explained. — On the same day the Minister despatched 
the following telegram to the Deputy-Commissioner of Police, Bloemfontein : — 

" November 11. Instruct your various branches to notify public that 
Government have delayed taking action in O.F.S., because they wanted Presi- 
dent Steyn to use his influence with De Wet with object of preventing blood- 
shed. De Wet has, however, finally declined to listen to President Steyn and 
Government have, therefore, taken the field in O.F.S. with very strong forces 
from Vereeniging to Bloemfontein, and hope to be able with forces at their 
command to restore law and order, as they have already done in Transvaal." 

President Steyn expressed much disappointment at the refusal of a safe-conduct 
for General Beyers to proceed to General De Wet. He had, he said, found General 
Beyers " very compliant," and had hoped much from such an interview. He had 
planned to have a motor-car so arranged that he himself could follow after Beyers 



See Dr. Steyn's report above. t See Appendix, C 40, p. 76. 

X Rev. H. van Broekhuizen. 



4f-.«:i 



50 

as fast as his strength would permit to get nearer to De Wet and, if necessary, be 
present at the interview.* 

General Smuts replied that if he had expected any good result from such an 
interview he would certainly have given Beyers a pass, but General Beyers was 
evidently discouraged and depressed, while De Wet was resolute and determined to 
proceed. The only result of a meeting between the two, in the absence of President 
Steyn, would be that De Wet would talk Beyers round. 

The Government had delayed action in the Free State on account of the pro- 
spective conference until at last De Wet had 5,000 men in the field, and was openly 
saying in his speeches to his commando that it seemed strange to him that the 
Government was so anxious to treat with the rebels. 

After temporizing for a long time, De Wet had finally refused to come to a con- 
ference. The Government could not delay longer, and, unless De Wet was convinced 
by force, General Smuts did not believe that he would listen to argument. It was 
therefore necessary, in the highest interests of country and nation, that they (the 
Government) should do their duty as a Government. t 

The whole policy of the Government is summer! up in the following notification 
issued the same day and published broadcast : — 

Notification. 

To All Citizens of the Union of South Africa. 

Pretoria, 12th November, 1914. 
The Government, with a view to preventing bloodshed, have spared no effort 
to avoid internal strife and have afforded ample opportunity to those who have 
joined in the rebellion to lay down their arms and return to their allegiance.. 

In spite of these efforts a large number of persons still continue forcibly to resist 
the authority of the State, are now actually engaged in organizing armed resistance 
to the Government, are in conflict with the military forces of the Union, and cause 
not only considerable loss of life, but also great loss and damage to the property of 
loyal and peaceable citizens. 

In order to remove doubts which appear to have arisen amongst those who have 
entered into rebellion as to the manner in which they are likely to be dealt with 
should they surrender voluntarily, the following public notification is issued (this 
notification will supersede all 'previous notices in this regard, except in the case of 
persons who have acted upon such previous notices before the date of this noti- 
fication : — 

(1) All persons in rebellion on and after the date hereof are hereby called 
upon to surrender themselves voluntarily, with their arms and any Govern- 
ment property which they possess, at the office of the nearest magistrate or 
special or resident justice of the peace, or to any officer of the South African 
Police or Union Defence Forces 

ON OR BEFORE SATURDAY, THE 21 ST NOVEMBER, 1914. 

(2) All persons who do so surrender will not be criminally prosecuted at 
the instance of the Government, but will be allowed to return to their homes 
and remain there on condition that they take no further part in the rebellion, 
give no information or any other assistance whatever to rebels, and do nothing 
or say nothing whatever which is likely further to disturb the peace or to 
prolong the rebellion. 

(3) This amnesty will not, however, apply to persons who have taken a 
prominent or leading part in the rebellion, or who, while in rebellion, have 
committed acts in violation of the rules of civilized warfare. The Govern- 
ment reserve their authority to deal with these cases on their merits. 

(4) All rebels who fail to comply with this notification and to surrender 
themselves as aforesaid will be liable to be dealt with according to the rigour 
of the law. 

(5) The private property (movable and immovable) of rebels who do not 
voluntarily surrender in terms of this notification will be liable to be charged 

* See Appendix C 48, p. 77. t Sec Appendix 49, p. 77. 



51 

with the direct loss and damage incuiTed by loyal and peaceable citizens as 
the result of acts committed by such rebels themselves or by any other persons 
in rebellion, whether before or after the 21st November, 1914. 

It is to be most clearly understood that nothing above contained will in any way 
limit or restrict the Government in continuing from the date of this notification to 
take the most vigorous and forcible military measures to deal with all persons who 
are in armed rebellion, or to treat as the Government may think fit all rebels captured 
by the forces of the Government. 

Louis Botha, 

Prime Minister, 
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief the 
Union Defence Forces in the Field. 

4. After Mushroom Valley De Wet wishes to negotiate. — General Smuts had 
gauged the situation correctly when he expressed the opinion that " unless De Wet 
was convinced by force " he would not listen to argument. 

On the 12th General Botha attacked De Wet's forces at Mushroom Valley and, 
after inflicting severe losses on the rebels, drove them in headlong flight from the 
field. The rebel commando and De Wet himself were saved from total destruction 
by the merest accident. 

On the 16th President Steyn telegraphed to General Smuts that Brand Wessels 
had just returned to Bloemfontein and reported that General De Wet was willing to 
come to President Steyn to negotiate for the restoration of peace, if safe-conducts 
would be provided for himself and General Beyers. 

It appeared, said President Steyn, that De Wet was more concerned about 
certain grievances felt by the burghers which he wished to discuss with him and see 
redressed than about anything else. 

President Steyn urged the Government to make use of this favourable oppor- 
tunity, as he was convinced that a peaceful solution was in sight. If this opportunity 
was not seized he foresaw terrible calamities and bloodshed, which would continue 
for years. They knew De Wet. It was only with the utmost difficulty and by the 
use of all his influence that De Wet had been persuaded to consent to come.* 

5. Government refuses a Conference. — General Smuts replied as follows : — 

[Translation.] 

From General Smuts, 17th November, 1914, to His Honour President Steyn. 

' The Government has seriously considered your telegram of yesterday's 
date. We feel that the position has entirely changed since General Botha 
first appealed to you to use your influence with De Wet and Beyers to avert 
bloodshed. No hostilities had then yet occurred and De Wet and Beyers 
were merely busy forming commandos. Beyers would not go to you without 
De Wet and De Wet put off from day to day, with the obvious intention of 
gaining time in order to mobilise a great force. * Meanwhile hostilities broke 
out in the Transvaal and later in the Orange Free State, whereupon De Wet 
point blank refused to go to you. Since then bloody encounters occurred in 
Transvaal and Free State and many have been killed and wounded. Even 
yesterday a battle took place at Virginia with considerable losses on both 
sides. We feel that, however much we desire peace on an honourable basis 
and to avoid further bloodshed, the military position has become too serious 
to sanction the proposed conference; even now we do not know whether this 
is not again an attempt to gain time. To his commando he openly scoffs at 
these negotiations and asks his burghers why the Government is so desirous of 
negotiating with rebels, and he assures the poor misguided people that both 
yourself and General Hertzog are with him; and as no word from you to your 
people has publicly gone forth advising them and pointing out their duty, 
your silence, however well meant, is taken by many as approval of De Wet's 
attitude and allegations. The Government has made its position clear by the 
issue of a notice containing the terms on which rebels who voluntarily 
surrender will be treated. To such an extent is public feeling embittered 
that great dissatisfaction exists among the loyal burghers on account of the 
leniency of these terms, and the Government feels that the position is likely 
to become still worse and more fatal than it is to-day if the rebels are to be 

* See Appendix, C 50, p. 77. 

4565 G 2 



62 

alio wed to extort peace terms from the Government. Unconditional sur- 
render on the basis of the Prime Minister's conditions is necessary, on the 
understanding that there is at present no intention to apply capital punish- 
ment in the case of the leaders. 

" While we cannot, therefore, consent to grant a safe-conduct, there is 
yet every probability that General De Wet has met or will meet General 
Beyers to-day, and that they will, therefore, be able to exchange views and. 
if they so wish, to approach the Government. We extremely regret having 
to send this reply to your telegram, but in view of the present position, the 
manner in which it arose, and the security for the future peace of South 
Africa, there seems no other way open to us." 



VI.— EFFORTS TO INDUCE REBELS IN THE FIELD TO SURRENDER. 



1. Instructions with regard to Rebels surrendering voluntarily . — The follow- 
ing circular instructions, issued simultaneously with the notification of the 12th 
November, given above, and conveyed to all Force Commanders in the field and to all 
Magistrates and Police Officers in disaffected areas, show the intentions of the 
Government with regard to rebels who surrendered voluntarily : — 

D. 4/373. 12th November. — Reference Clause 1 of General Botha's notification 
to rebels to surrender, dated to-day, please issue careful and stringent instructions to 
all under your command ; 

(1) Whenever rebels surrender voluntarily to officers of the South African 

Police or the Union Defence Forces, these officers must see that follow- 
ing particulars regarding each surrender are taken and lodged in 
writing at the office of the nearest magistrate, resident or special 
justice of the peace, or police station — if the latter, for transmission to 
the nearest magistrate :• — 

(a) Full surname and christian name. 

(b) Name and number and magisterial district of his farm, or 

exact postal address if a town is permanent residence. 

(c) Age and short description as means identification. 

(d) Full description arms, ammunition, and other Government 

property surrendered — -if nothing surrendered, this should 
be specially stated. 

(e) Date, time, and place of surrender. 

(/) Signature, rank, and corps of officer taking surrender. 

(2) All arms and Government property surrendered should be handed over to 

nearest magistrate's office or police station which has adequate pro- 
tection. 

(3) Surrendered rebels must be given no passes or certificates but told to 

return direct to their homes, and to report their arrival there to the 
nearest police post or magistrate. 

(4) They will not be allowed rail warrants at Government expense to facilitate 

their return. 

(5) In regard to voluntary surrenders who may be considered leaders or who 

have occupied high military or civil positions instructions should be 
asked by telegraph from 'Defence Headquarters (address General 
Smuts, Pretoria), before they are allowed to return to their homes. 
Further instructions were issued later with regard to (1) the horses of sur 
rendered rebels, (2) the cases of rebels surrendering without arms, (3) the detention 
of minor leaders and the granting of railway warrants to rebels returning home, 
when the military situation might require this. 

(1) D 11/373, 15th November.— Reference my telegram 4/373 all serviceable 
horses should be also surrendered by surrendering rebels and receipts given therefor. 

(2) D 15/373, 18th November." — With further reference to my telegram 4/373 
of 12th November. Several rebels are surrendering without their rifles, and in 
many cases it is clear that they have had rifles but left them behind. Every rebel 
who surrendered should be warned that if he does not surrender all rifles he possessed 



while in rebellion he will forfeit all benefit of the amnesty if it is discovered later 
that he possessed one or more rifles which he did not surrender. As Government 
proposes take measures which will make detection of unsurrendered rifles inevitable, 
surrendering rebels should be earnestly warned against consequences concealment, 
and Magistrates should send this warning individually to those who have already 
surrendered without rifles, and give them chance to hand in their rifles within a 
period which each magistrate can stipulate. 

(3) D 17/373, 19th November. — -With reference to previous instructions 
regarding surrendering rebels, note that (a) Government do not want any except 
the most important of the rebel leaders who surrendered to be detained under arrest. 
Minor leaders should be allowed to return to their homes, but warned that their 
part in rebellion will be investigated later, and if found to have been prominent the 
full benefit of the amnesty may be withheld from them, (b) Paragraph 4 of tele- 
graphic circular instructions D 4/373, dated 12th instant, may be so far modified 
that where Force Commander considers it desirable that surrendered rebels should 
not pass through our lines and become acquainted with disposition and composition 
our forces, he may authorise issue of second class rail warrant for homeward 
journey of a surrendered rebel. 

2. Effect of the Notification of the 12th November.— The following statement, 
summarising the effects of the Notification of the 12th November, was communicated 
to the Press on the 21st November : — ■ 

" On the 12th instant a Notification was published laying down the 
terms upon which rebels in arms against the Government would be allowed 
to surrender. The publication of these terms had an immediate and most 
gratifying effect. Coming as it did on the same day as the crushing defeat 
of General De Wet by General Botha at Mushroom Valley, the notification 
was welcomed by many in the Free State as a means of escaping from what 
they had come to recognise as a hopeless position. "On the 13th already 
various bodies of rebels, consisting of men who had been in the fight at 
Mushroom Valley, came in to surrender. Other parties were reported to be 
going to their homes, saying they had been misled by De Wet, and would 
have nothing more to do with him. Commandant Furstenberg, M.P.Q., 
of Vredefort, also surrendered on the 13th. > In the Transvaal rebels were 
also surrendering daily in small parties in the west, while in the Waterberg 
District the local commandant, Viljoen, wished to surrender with his whole 
commando. He accordingly opened communications on the 16th with the 
local magistrate, in order to arrange the time and place of surrender. On 
the 16th De Wet broke across the railway line westwards, and the next day 
Commandant Celliers scattered the commando under Beyers, Wolmarans, and 
Conroy, capturing in all 299 prisoners. Both De Wet and Beyers were 
relentlessly pursued by various Government forces, with the result that their 
men soon began to surrender in large numbers. On the 18th, e.g., over a 
hundred of De Wet's men came in to surrender at Ventersburg, and the local 
commandant expressed the opinion that if the notification of the Government 
could be brought to the knowledge of the rebels generally, there would also 
be a general surrender. The Dewetsdorp commando, 72 strong, also sur- 
rendered. On the same day other small bodies of rebels laid down their arms 
at Wmburg, \rede, &c. In the Transvaal the number of rebels still in the 
held was by this time very small, but from this number considerable batches 
were deserting daily m order to surrender. 'On the 19th General De Wet was 
forced to abandon the greater part of his commando, owing to the great dis- 
satisfaction which existed among its members. In an address to his men on 
the Vet Kiver. he advised all those who were unwilling to follow him further 
«. hide their rifles and go home. More than half his commando took him at 
j ' T/ rff 1 1( ? K' epare for surrender.. On that day fiftv-three rebels 
surrendered to Colonel Manie Botha near Odendaalsrust, while in the Trans- 
vaal over one hundred rebels surrendered in the north and west. The expected 
surrender en masse of the Nylstroom commando was prevented at the last 
wholn^L ^ aCtl ° n of <f ° hot *«»<fe. pet Potgieter and Christiaan Stadler, 

ht howl e men n0t t0 K d °T their arras - About half the commando 
has. however, come in since in batches and has surrendered 

had rhrii fn S 11 C T 6 f L° n {t sho ?i be noted that the terms of peace have not 
had then full effect because of the unscrupulous practices of rebel leaders 



54 

who have done their utmost to keep the knowledge of the terms offered by 
the Government from their men, and where this was no longer possible have 
frightened their men by asserting that the terms were a mere blind to induce 
surrenders, and that all rebels who lay down their arms would be banished 
overseas and have all their property confiscated. Many affidavits made by 
surrendered rebels are now in possession of the Government from which it 
is clear that this policy of misleading and frightening their men is the only 
thing that still keeps the few wandering bands of rebels in the Transvaal 
together. 'To-day (21st) news has arrived that two of De Wet's leading 
organizers and commandants, " General " Rocco de Villiers and Commandant 
Els (both of Heilbron) have come in to surrender. Practically the whole of 
De Wet's commando west of the railway line is following their example. 
News has just been received that Jacobus and Izak de Wet, both of them 
sons of General De Wet, have surrendered to-day to the special justice of 
the peace at Memel." x 

3. Period within which to surrender extended for Rank and File of Rebels. — 
As indicated above, it was found soon after the notification of the 12th November had 
been issued that, in spite of strenuous efforts to spread this broadcast, in many cases 
rebel commandos in the field had not become aware of its publication and remained 
utterly in the dark as to the terms on which they would be allowed to surrender. The 
rebel leaders are in almost all cases responsible for this. They took every precaution 
to prevent the notification from falling into the hands of their followers, and they 
persistently informed them that the death penalty, or at the least deportation with 
confiscation of all their property, awaited all and sundry who should lay down their 
arms. 

Having before its eyes numerous daily proofs of the ignorance still prevailing 
among the rebels as to the terms of surrender, the Government felt constrained to 
allow some further extension of the period originally laid down. 

On the 22nd November the following further instructions were sent to all resi- 
dent magistrates, commanding officers, and South African Police officers : — 

"D. 24/373. 22nd November. Although General Botha's notice of 
12th November in regard to surrendering rebels has expired, I instruct you 
to continue to let rank and file who surrender go home peaceably and quietly 
and await decision of Government in respect of them. All rebel officers or 
persons of prominence, such as members of Parliament or Provincial Councils, 
or all who have taken prominent part in rebellion, should, however, be kept 
under arrest until further orders. If uncertain as to status or prominence 
of a surrendered rebel, inquiries should be made by telegraph of magistrate 
of district to which surrendered rebel belongs. If thereafter there is any 
doubt whether a surrendering rebel should be detained, instructions should 
be asked for from Defence Headquarters, Pretoria. Of course, all rebels 
who are captured instead of surrendering voluntarily should be kept under 
arrest. Addressed all force commanders and magistrates in disturbed areas. 
Latter should immediately transmit these instructions to all assistant resident 
magistrates, special justices of the peace, and police stations in their 
magisterial districts." 

4. Lice Stock of all Rebel Leaders still in the Field to be Confiscated.— -On the 
28th November the following instructions were issued to seize all live stock belonging 
to rebel leaders still in the field : — 

" D. 1/389. 28th November. All live stock on farms of, or known cer- 
tainly to belong to, rebel commandants or prominent rebel leaders still out in 
the field must now be commandeered without payment or receipt and applied 
to the use of our forces in the field. You will receive further instructions 
as to keeping careful record of all stock seized and its disposal under this 
order. Any force commander who can ascertain where such live stock is 
running, if place is outside his immediate area of operations, should tele- 
graph information to magistrate of district, who will inform any force com- 
mander operating in that district or, failing force commander, communicate 
with nearest district police station. Addressed all force commanders in 
Nos. 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 13 Military Districts and all magistrates and 
district staff officers in those districts." 



5o 
VIL— OTHER EFFORTS FOR PEACE IN ORANGE FREE STATE. 



While President Steyn was endeavouring to persuade the rebel leaders to come 
to a conference, efforts were also being made elsewhere in the Orange Free State both 
to induce local malcontents to refrain from open rebellion and to restore peace 
generally. 

1. Winburg. — Thus on the 29th October the Magistrate at Winburg* reported 
to General Smuts that he had reason to believe that Conroy, who then had a following 
of about 300 men, would be inclined to accept terms if the Government were prepared 
to offer these. 

General Smuts repliedt that the terms were that if men disband and go home 
quietly nothing will be done to them and bygones will be bygones. 

On the 31st the Magistrate reported the results of his efforts to induce Conroy 
and his men to surrender. He had interviewed! Conroy and his officers at their 
laager the previous evening. " They refused to surrender. Now that his numbers 
have gone up to about 400 he has again become very truculent." 

2. Bethlehem. — The Magistrate of Bethlehem telegraphed § to General Botha 
on the 28th October that the local burghers who had been commandeered by the 
Government to assemble that day had held a meeting with their officers which he 
and Commandant Prinsloo|| had attended at the request of the burghers. It was 
there decided that a deputation, consisting of Commandant Prinsloo and Messrs. Jan 
Brand Wessels and Veld Kornet Hendrik Bruwer, should proceed to interview 
General I)e Wet, and after that proceed to Pretoria to interview the Government, 
with a. view to end the unrest among the people and to prevent any possibility of 
hostilities in that Province. 

The deputation requested permission to come to Pretoria by rail, after having 
interviewed General De Wet, and asked for a guarantee that the members would be 
allowed to return to Bethlehem. 

The burghers would camp near Bethlehem until the return of the deputation. 
They were, the Magistrate stated, opposed to taking up arms against the (rebel) 
commandos then in the neighbourhood of Reitz, and also objected to the handing over 
of their arms, as they were in a border district and matters were not quite (normal 1) 
in Basutoland. 

General Smuts replied,! in the absence of General Botha, that if, after seeing 
General De Wet, the deputation still wished to see General Botha it would receive 
every facility. 

He added that the burghers must in the meantime be very watchful. He pre- 
sumed they had no guarantee from the other side, and commandeering and looting 
were proceeding in other districts. Commandant Prinsloo asked whether the Magis- 
trate might accompany the deputation to Pretoria, and this was promptly agreed to. 

The deputation reached Pretoria on the evening of the 30th and interviewed the 
Minister on the 31st. They stated the Bethlehem commando was in a hopeless 
condition. 

On their return to Bethlehem the members of the deputation on the 3rd 
November addressed a meeting of about 800 burghers on the results of their 
mission.** 

Brand Wessels, who said he spoke not as a member of Parliament but as a 
common burgher, stated that by accident the deputation met General Hertzog when 
two hours from Bethlehem. They had two hours' conversation with Hertzog before 
seeing De Wet. Hertzog told Wessels he trusted him not to let his people drown, 
but also not to let them be downtrodden. 

After referring to the interview with the Government, Wessels further spoke of 
the thousands of men waiting in Transvaal, and exhorted his hearers not to go into 
the drift unless they could reach the other side. He said the Transvaalers were 
losing enthusiasm and were leaving people in the lurch. 

After interviewing De Wet again, he agreed to see President Steyn. 

Wessels appealed powerfully to the burghers to place absolute and unreserved 
trust in President Steyn and his decision — no matter what the condition of things 

* Telegram 108, 29th October. f D/0814. 29th October. % Telegram 110, 31st October. 
§ B 251, 28th October. || The local commandant. ID/0784. 

** Telegram, Acting Magistrate, B 294, 3rd November. 



56 

had been in the past. He advised the burghers to wait and not to talk strife or 
commit deeds of violence. 

He had, he said, told General Botha that he would not lay down his gun. He 
had a message that the burghers could keep their guns and go home till President 
Steyn gave his orders. 

Bruwer also spoke and advised caution. 

The meeting broke up quietly, the people waiting for the expected pronounce- 
ment from President Steyn. It was believed at the time that De Wet was then at 
Onze Rust.* 

3. Senekal. — At Senekal a meeting of burghers was held on Thursday, the 29th 
October, at which it was resolved to send a deputation to meet General De Wet and 
to inquire from him with what object he was in the field. His answer was then to 
be submitted to the Governor- General, who was to be respectfully requested to act 
as mediator. The magistrates and other officers of the Districts of Vredefort, Heil- 
bron, Frankfort, Vrede, Harrismith, Bethlehem, Winburg, Kroonstad, Ficksburg, 
and Lindley were urged to support the resolution, and to elect representatives who 
were to come to a meeting to be held at a later date at Senekal. 

General Smuts informed! the local Magistrate that he had no objection to the 
proposal, but at the same time disclaimed all responsibility so far as the Government 
was concerned. 

A deputation duly interviewed De Wet, as instructed, and reported on the 
31sti :— 

" De Wet announces that all troops be removed from German South -West 
Africa to within Union borders. If this is not done he will fight for the 
independence of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. He states (that) 
arms, &c, will be supplied him by Maritz." 

A further meeting of Senekal people resolved that a conference consisting of 
two representatives of each district in the Orange Free State was to be held at 
Bloemfontein on Saturday, the 9th November, to endeavour to find a solution of the 
present difficulties. The Magistrate asked for free passes on the railways, &c. 

In reply, General Smuts explained that President Steyn was conducting certain 
negotiations^ and suggested that the question of a conference should remain in abey- 
ance until he had been consulted. He added that he (General Smuts) was doing his 
best to find a peaceful solution. 

The proposal was, therefore, dropped. 

4. Boshof. — The day after De Wet's dispatches urging certain Boshof men to 
mobilize their district had been intercepted, General Botha telegraphedjl to Mr. C. 
A. van Niekerk, M.L.A., and Senator C. Marais, both of that district, informing 
them that De Wet intended to organize a rebel commando there, and urging them 
apart from all political differences to use their influence to the utmost to oppose this. 

Senator Marais and Mr. Van Niekerk replied the same day, stating that since 
the outbreak of the rebellion they had been actively exerting their influence to calm 
the excitement and to endeavour to suppress rebellion. They had succeeded so far 
in keeping their district quite calm and quiet. Commandant Jacobs, having learned 
that Beyers was on the borders of their districts, had taken all precautions to pro- 
tect life and property. 

They would continue to use their influence to oppose rebellion. Political 
differences did not affect them at this time. 

Mr. Van Niekerk informed General Botha on the 10th that he had that day 
addressed the burghers of Dealesville and earnestly advised them to have nothing 
to do with the revolt. If they were not inclined to support the Government they 
were to remain quietly on their farms and refrain from all acts of rebellion. 

Mr. Van Niekerk inquired, with evident emotion, whether nothing could be done 
to stop any further bloodshed. He placed himself entirely at the disposition of 
General Botha, if he could do anything to further the cause of peace. 

General Smuts, in the absence of General Botha, repliedll thanking Mr. Van 
Niekerk warmly for his good work and explaining what President Steyn had been 
endeavouring to do. President Steyn had, however, informed him the day before 

* Apparently he had brought Weasels under the impression that he was going when Wessels had 
interviewed bim again, on his return from Pretoria, hence the latter's exhortation to await President 
Steyn's decision. The Acting Magistrate, reporting the above speech, adds " De Wet left for Onze 
Rust this morninsr." 

t D/0861, 30th October. + Magistrate, Senekal, Hist October. § D/0977, 3rd November. 

5 D/0137, 8th November. 1 D/0209, 10th November. 



b1 

(9th) that De Wet absolutely refused to come to see him. General Smuts, to his 
regret, did not see what more could be done. 

5. ' South-Eastern Free State. — In the south-eastern Free State the rebel move- 
ment found no adherents, thanks in a great measure to the excellent work done under 
the leadership of Mr. G. L. Steytler, M.L.A., of Rouxville. 

When the news of De Wet's revolt in the north arrived, Mr. Steytler organized 
meetings and explained the position to the burghers, and, with the help of the local 
magistrates, succeeded in calling in the arms and ammunition in the district. In 
the Rouxville district practically all arms were cheerfully and promptly surrendered, 
owing chiefly to the care which had been taken to explain to the burghers that this 
step was necessary in order to remove a strong temptation for rebel forces to raid 
the district. 

In Zastron and Wepener the response to the order was not so unanimous as in 
Rouxville, but after meetings had been held here also by Mr. Steytler, seconded by 
the local magistrates, the large majority of the burghers brought in their arms. 

Loyal commandos were also formed and were kept in readiness to take the field 
against any rebel forces that might threaten these districts. 

A belated attempt by one Van Schalkwijk to start a new insurrectionary move- 
ment in the Smithfield district after the rebellion was really over proved completely 
abortive. / 

6. South-Western Districts. — In the south-western districts there were never 
any signs of serious disturbance v and the local magistrates and district command- 
ants always had the situation well in hand. 



VIII.— POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT DURING THE LAST 
STAGE OF THE REBELLION. 



After the series of operations in the Orange Free State under the personal 
direction of General Botha, which led to the capture of some sevenjiundred rebels 
and to the surrender of two hundred more on the 4th of December, the principal 
rebel leaders still in the field opened negotiations for surrender. 

The following correspondence leading up to the unconditional surrender of 
" General " Wessel Wessels, " General " N. W. Serfontein, M.L.A., with Command- 
ants Van Coller, Van Schoor, many other officers, and about twelve_hundred men, 
contains matter of general interest. General Botha's replies to the overtures of the 
rebel leaders also give a clear view of the policy of the Government towards the 
rebels during the last stage of the rebellion. 

[Translation.'] 

" Saturday, 5th December, 1914. 
" To the Officer Commanding 

" the Government Forces. 

" On the evening of Thursday last (December 3rd) we communicated our 
proposals to the representative of the Government, Mr. Celliers* Up to the 
present we have received no reply, and yesterday we had a fresh engagement 
with your troops. 

"We are at one with the Government in holding that the time has come 
for both sides to take steps to obviate further bloodshed. It is for this reason 
that we propose the concluding of an armistice and the grant of a safe 
conduct to two of our number to allow them to proceed to General De Wet and 
urge him to negotiate with the Government with a view to putting an end 
to the present conflict. 

" Should General De Wet, who is our Commander-in-Chief and without 
whom we have no power to act, decline to negotiate with the Government, we 
shall then on our own behalf take the necessary steps to put an end to the 
bloodshed. In the event of the Government rejecting our offer, we are 

* This appears to refer to a messenger who had been sent by Colonel-Commandant T. Smuts to 
tho rebel commandos near Reitz, to induce them to surrender. See Colonel Smuts' telegram to 
Defence, 27th November. 

4563 rr 



58 

definitely resolved to fight to the last to the utmost of our power. Up till now 
we have endeavoured to sacrifice as little life as possible. Upon more than 
one occasion we have refrained from serious hostilities, realising as we did 
the grave responsibility of a conflict with sons of our people. In the event, 
however, of our proposals being rejected, we shall adopt much more decisive 
measures. 

" We wish to see General De Wet, as we are unwilling to act without 
the cognizance of our other commandos now in the field. We can only enter 
into negotiations if all our number who hold command in the field are cogni- 
zant of the same and included therein. Only negotiations of this character 
can put an end to the present conflict. 

" (Signed) W. Wessels. 

" N. W. Serfontein. 

"H. H. Van Coller." 

[Translation.] 

" In the Field, 

" Reitz, 5th December, 1914. 
" To 

" Messrs. Wessel Wessels, 

" N. Serfontein, and Van Coller. 

" General Botha directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 
even date, which has been handed to him, as he is now directing in person 
the military operations in these parts. General Botha notes with satis- 
faction the desire which you have expressed that further bloodshed should 
be prevented, but would point out that the responsibility for all the blood 
that has been spilt lies solely and entirely with those who have misled an 
inconsiderable fraction of our population and guided them into the path of 
criminality and rebellion. The Government upon their part have with the 
utmost patience carried out their duty of maintaining the peace and quiet 
of the country. A proclamation was even published guaranteeing immunity 
from punishment to all rebels who surrendered before a fixed date and who 
had not taken a prominent part in the rising or been guilty of conduct infring- 
ing the laws of civilized warfare. Those who failed to take advantage of 
this magnanimous offer and who involved the country and the people in 
further heavy sacrifices of precious life and treasure have much indeed to 
answer for. General Botha now informs you that no one can desire more 
deeply than does he to see peace and quiet restored amongst our people, 
but he regrets that he must give you for answer that you have suffered the 
time to pass when public opinion in the country would sanction negotiations 
with the leaders of the rebels. In any event it would have been impossible 
to comply with your request, in view of the fact that General De Wet was 
taken prisoner some days ago. There are others in the Free State who have 
taken a prominent part in the work of incitement to rebellion who have 
surrendered voluntarily. In the Transvaal the insurrection has been com- 
pletely crushed, whilst the number of burghers in the Free State still in 
revolt is relatively extremely small. This being the position, General Botha 
can only urge you most strongly and earnestly, both in your own interests 
and in the interests of those of your followers who still remain, to take the 
only proper course and surrender to the authorities. Any other course 
of action can only have for its result that the military operations against 
you will be continued with the utmost energy and that fresh victims will be 
added to the list, whilst no doubt can be entertained as to the final outcome 
where the overwhelming majority of the population are fully resolved to 
crush the rebellion, cost what it may. Further resistance can only add to 
what the leaders of the insurrection already have to answer for, and make 
the unhappy position of their misguided followers more lamentable still.. For 
the sake of the people whom you profess to love, General Botha appeals to 
you in all earnestness to surrender with your following without delay and 
abandon all further armed opposition to the lawful authority. 

" Your obedient servant, 

" (Signed) W. E. Bok, 

" Military Secretary." 



59 

[Translation.] 

" Sunday, 6th December, 1914. 
"To 

" General Botha, 

" Commanding the Forces of the Government. 
" Dear Sir, 

" We have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 5th 
instant. We desire to impress upon you that it was to maintain the cause 
dear and precious to us beyond everything that we resolved upon hostilities, 
also that we are pledged to the other commandos in the field, and that should 
we surrender without consulting the others we should be false to our pledge. 
Consultation with the other commandos is thus a point of honour with us 
which under no circumstances shall we abandon. Nor would our surrender 
necessarily put an end to the rising. We would, therefore, emphatically 
point out that the only way to put an end to the movement without further 
loss of life and further expenditure is to accept our offer to negotiate. 
General De Wet being in your hands, there can be no difficulty in allowing 
him to proceed here immediately. We make this request accordingly, also 
that if possible General Beyers and Kemp be afforded the opportunity of 
being present at the meeting. Should you be unable to consent to this either, 
then allow us an opportunity of sending some of our number to President 
Steyn in order to prevail upon him to employ his personal influence in 
bringing matters to a satisfactory conclusion. 

" We trust you will fully understand that it is our sincere desire to pre- 
vent further bloodshed, and that we have therefore determined to leave all 
movements and operations in abeyance until we are in receipt of your reply. 

" Earnestly hoping to hear from you as soon as possible, 

" We have the honour to be, 

" Your obedient servants, 

" (Signed) W. Wessels. 

" N. W. Serfontein. 
" H. H. Van Coller. 

" We are prepared, should you so prefer, to meet you at a place and time 
to be determined by you." 

[Translation.'] 

" In the Field, 

" Reitz, 6th December, 1914. 
" Messrs. Wessels, Serfontein, and 

" Van Coller. 
" Gentlemen, 

" General Botha desires me to acknowledge receipt of your letter of this 
day's date. General Botha has to inform you with regret that the proposals 
contained in your letter are, in the circumstances, unheard of and cannot 
possibly be acceded to. In the event of an immediate general surrender, the 
Government are prepared, without losing sight of the facts of each individual 
case, not to treat the officers and men with undue severity, but they must 
insist upon unconditional surrender without further delay. If such a sur- 
render does not take place, the Government will be compelled to modify 
this policy, the surrender or capture of practically all the organized rebel 
commandos in the field necessitating the adoption of stronger measures in 
order to put an end to the licence and brigandage now being practised by 
small groups of rebels. The Government have done everything in their 
power to prevent bloodshed. With this end in view they also appealed for 
assistance to President Steyn and others, but, in view of the failure of their 
endeavours and of the considerable damage and loss of life that have taken 
place, they have now no alternative but to crush the last vestige of this insane 
insurrection, whatever sacrifice of blood and public money that may entail.. 
General Botha regrets, therefore, that he can only repeat in all earnestness 
the appeal which he addressed to you in his previous letter. 

" I have the honour to be, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" (Signed) W. E. Bok, 

" Military Secretary to General Botha." 

$M3 H 2 



60 

Further arrangements were left in the hands of Capt. Wolfaardt, who on the 
8th Pecember had an interview with Wessel Wessels, Van Schoor, and other rebel 
officers, at which the time and place of surrender were settled. 

That afternoon Wessel Wessels, Serfontein, Van Coller, and other rebel leaders, 
with their men, numbering in all about twelve hundred, laid down their arms 
unconditionally. 

All prominent rebel leaders were kept in custody, while the rank and file were 
ordered to return to their respective districts, to report themselves to the local 
magistrate. 

" General " Rautenbach and the few remaining rebel leaders surrendered within 
the next few days, while a few, like Commandant Conroy, M.P.C., and Commandant 
Hans Meyer, of Roodewal, were captured. 



61 
APPENDIX. 

A.— RESIGNATION OF GENERAL BEYERS. 

CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN GENERAL BEYERS AND THE MINISTER OP DEFENCE. 

Translation.'] [ 1 ] 

Pretoria, 
The Right Honourable 15th September, 1914. 

General J. C. Smuts, 
Minister of Defence, 
Pretoria. 
Sir, 

You are aware that during the month of August last I told you and General Botha by word of 
month that I disapproved of the sending of commandos to German South-West Africa for the purpose 
of conquering that territory. I was on the point then of resigning, but hearing that Parliament was 
to be called together I decided to wait, hoping that a way out of the difficulty would be found. To 
my utmost surprise, however, Parliament confirmed the resolution adopted by the Government, 
namely to conquer German South-West Africa, without any provocation towards the Union from the 
Germans. 

Government must be aware that by far the great majority of the Dutch speaking people of the 
Union decidedly disapprove of our crossing the frontier ; and the two conferences of commandants 
recently held at Pretoria bore eloquent testimony to this. I challenge the Government by an appeal 
to the people and without making use of compulsion to obtain any other result. 

'It is said that Great Britain has taken part in this war for the sake of right and justice, in order 
to protect the independence of smaller nations and to comply with treaties. But the fact that three 
Ministers of the British Cabinet have resigned shows that even in England there is a strong minority 
which could not be convinced of the righteousness of a war with Germany. 

History teaches us, after all, that whenever it suits her interests Great Britain is always ready to 
protect smaller nations ; but unhappily history also relates instances in which the sacred rights of 
independence of smaller nations have been violated, and treaties disregarded, by that same Empire. 
In proof of this' I have only to indicate how the independence of the South African Republic and 
Orange Free State was violated, and of what weight the Sand River Convention was. 

It is said that war is being waged against the "barbarity " of the Germans. We have forgiven 
but not forgotten all the barbarities perpetrated in our own country during the South African war. 
With very few exceptions all farms, not to mention many towns, were so many Louvains of which 
we now hear so much. _ . 

At this critical moment it is made known in Parliament that our Government have been granted 
a loan of seven millions pounds sterling by the British Government. This is very significant and 
every man will have his own opinion on the matter. 

In the absence of legitimate grounds for the annexation policy of the Government you endeavour 
to intimidate the public by declaring that Government possesses information showing that Germany 
has decided — should opportunity arise — to annex South Africa. My humble opinion is that this will 
be hastened if, from our side, we invade German territory without having been provoked thereto by 
the Germans. And as to the alleged German annexation scheme, this is nothing more than the result 
of the usual national suspicion in cases of the kind. 

The allegations made in Parliament, namely, that the Germans have already violated our 
frontier, are ungrounded (see the official report of the Intelligence Department, corroborated by 
Lieutenant-Colonel Maritz and his officers, who are on or near the frontier). 

Apparently Government longed for some transgression by the Germans of German South-West 
Africa, but have been disappointed, for so far there is not a single German soldier this side of our 
frontier. As you know very well the report is perfectly correct regarding an involuntary trans- 
gression of the frontier some time ago and the tendering of an apology for so doing. 

Whatever may happen in South Africa the war will be decided in Europe in any case ; so if 
Germany triumphs and should decide to attack us, then — even if Great Britain should be unable to 
help us — we shall at least have a sacred and noble cause in defending our country to the utmost, 
provided we stay inside our borders meanwhile. In case we are attacked, our people will arise as one 
man in defence of its rights. Besides, I am convinced that a commando of about 8,000 Germans, 
as at present stationed in German territory, will not be so foolish as to attempt an attack on our 
country. 

I have always said — and repeated at Booysens recently — that if the Union is attacked, Boer and 
Briton will defend this country side by side, and in such case I will deem it a great honour and 
privilege to take up my place at the head of our forces in defence of my fatherland. 

I accepted the post of Commandant-General under our Defence Act, the first section of which 
provides that our force can only be employed in defence of the Union. My humble opinion is that 
this section cannot thus be changed by informal resolution of Parliament, such being contrary to 
Parliamentary procedure. So the Defence Act does not allow us to go and fetch the enemy over the 
frontier, and to light the fire in that way ; but, should the enemy penetrate into our country, it will 
be our duty to drive him back and pursue him into his own territory. 

In his speech General Botha speaks about the help we had from the Belgians and French after 
the South African war. That assistance is still appreciated by me and by all our people, but we must 
not forget that the Germans also were not behindhand and have always been well disposed towards 
us. So why should we deliberately make enemies of them ? 

As circumstances are, I see no way of taking the offensive ; and as I sincerely love my country 
and people I most strongly protest against the sending of the Union Citizen Forces over the frontier 
Who can foretell where the fire the Government has decided to light shall end 'i 

For the reasons enumerated above, I feel constrained to resign my poBt as Commandant-General, 



62 

as also my commissioned rank. For me this is the only way of faith, duty, and honour towards my 
people, of which mention was made by General Botha. 

I have always tried to do my duty according to my best convictions, and it sorely grieves me 
that it must end in this way. 

I have the honour to be, 
Sir, 
Your obedient servant, 

(Sgd.) C. F. Beyers. 



Translation.'] [ 2 ] 

To the Honourable 

General 0. F. Beyers. 19th September, 1914. 

Sir, 

It was with regret that I received your letter of the 15th instant, tendering your resignation as 
Oommandant-General and as an officer of the Union. 

The circumstances under which that resignation took place and the terms in which you 
endeavour to justify your action tend to leave a very painful impression. It is true that it was 
known to me that you entertained objections against the war operations in German South- West 
Africa, but I never received the impression that you would resign. On the contrary, all the informa- 
tion in possession of the Government was communicated to you, all plans were discussed with you, 
and your advice was followed to a large extent. The principal officers were appointed on your 
recommendation and with your concurrence, and the plan of operations which is now being followed 
is largely the one recommended by yourself at a conference of officers. 

My last instruction to you before I left for Capetown to attend the special session of Parliament 
was that in my absence you should visit certain regiments on the German border, and it was well 
understood between us that immediately the war operations were somewhat further advanced and 
co-operation among the various divisions would be practicable, you should yourself undertake the 
chief command in German South-West Africa. The attitude of the Government after this remained 
unchanged and was approved by Parliament after full discussion. One would have expected that 
this approval would make the matter easier for you ; but now I find that you anticipated that 
Parliament would disapprove of the policy of the Government and that your disappointment in this 
became the reason for your unexpected action. ' In order to make your motives clearer, the reasons 
for your resignation were explained in a long political argument, which was immediately communi- 
cated to the Press and came into the hands of the Government long after publication. j/\ need not 
tell you that all these circumstances in connection with your resignation have made a most'unpleasant 
impression on my colleagues and myself. 

But this unpleasant impression has been further aggravated by the allegations contained in your 
letter. Your bitter attack on Great Britain is not only entirely baseless, but it is more unjustifiable 
coming as it does in the midst of a great war from the Commandant-General of one of the British 
Dominions. Your reference to barbarous acts during the South African war cannot justify the 
criminal devastation of Belgium, and can only be calculated to sow hatred and division among the 
people of South Africa. You forget to mention that since the South African war the British people 
gave South Africa her entire freedom under a constitution which makes it possible for us to realize 
our national ideals along our own lines, and which, for instance, allows you to write with impunity 
a letter for which you would, without doubt, be liable in the German Empire to the extreme 
penalty. r 

As regards your other statements, they have been answered and disposed of in Parliament. 
From these discussions it will be apparent that neither the British Empire nor South Africa was the 
aggressor in this struggle. War was, in the first instance, declared by Austria-Hungary and there- 
after by Germany under circumstances in which the British Government employed its utmost powers 
to maintain the peace of Europe and to safeguard the neutrality of Belgium. 

So far as we ourselves are concerned our coast is threatened, our mailboats are arrested, and our 
borders are invaded by the enemy. This latter incident did not occur, as you say, in an involuntary 
manner and with an apology, which latter, at any rate, was never tendered to the Government. 

' Under these circumstances, it is absurd to speak of aggressive action on the part of the Union, 
seeing that, together with the British Empire, we have been drawn, against our wish and will, and 
entirely in self-defence, into this war.,/ 

As regards your insinuation concerning the loan of £7,000,000 which the British Government 
was kind enough to grant us and for which the public of the Union, as evidenced recently in 
Parliament, are most grateful, it is of such a despicable nature that there is no necessity to make any 
comment thereon. It only shows to what extent your mind has been obscured by political bias. 

''You speak of duty and honour ; my conviction is that the people of South Africa will, in these 
dark days when the Government as well as the people of South Africa are put to the supreme test, 
have a clearer conception of duty and honour than is to be deduced from your letter and action. 
For the Dutch speaking section in particular I cannot conceive anything more fatal and humiliating 
than a policv of lip- loyalty in fair weather and of a policy of neutrality and pro-German sentiment 
in days of storm and stress. , It may be that our peculiar internal circumstances and our backward 
condition after the great war will place a limit on what we can do ; but nevertheless I am convinced 
that the people will support the Government in carrying out the mandate of Parliament and, in this 
manner, which is the only legitimate one, fulfil their duty to South Africa and to the Empire, and 
maintain their dearly won honour unblemished for the future. 

Your resignation is hereby accepted. 

I have the honour to be, 
Sir, 
Your obedient servant, 

(Sgd.) J. C. Smuts, 

Minister of Defence. 



63 

[3] 
Translation.'] 

Pretoria, 

23rd September, 1914. 
The Right Honourable 

General J. C. Smuts, 
Minister op Defence, 
Pretoria. 
Sir, 

With reference to your reply to my resignation, I leave my action, as well as the credibility of 
my assertions, with the greatest confidence to the judgment of the people. 
What history does not already prove the future will declare. 

I have the honour to be, 
Sir, 
Your obedient servant, 

(Sgd.) C. F. Beyers. 



B.— DOCUMENTS DEALING WITH THE TREASON OF MARITZ. 

[1] 
Extracts from the Report of Captain Fred. Muller. 

" Before, or shortly after, his departure* we received the official news of the German invasion at 
Nakab. Much to my surprise, Van Niekerkt informed me that there was no truth in the report, and 
that Maritz had said that it had been spread by the Government in order to justify certain movements 
which the Government intended to make against German South-West Africa. 

" On the following day I learnt that Mr. Piet Hugo and Dr. Steenkamp, Nieuwoudtville — men 
who had always been very bitter against the Government — were spreading the report that Maritz had 
said that, at a meeting of officers at Pretoria, at which he was present,^ the majority had informed 
General Smuts that if the Government decided to invade German South-West Africa not only would 

they resign, but there would be serious trouble in the country." 

• . » # # a * 

" Maritz returned from Schuit Drift on a Monday afternoon towards the end of August,§ and 
a few hours later I heard that he had said that the whole affair at Schuit Drift was a disgraceful 
business, and that the men who had shot the Germans should be shot themselves. Captain Van 
Niekerk later on told me that Maritz had investigated matters, and had gone across the border to a 
German police station and spoken per telephone to the Hauptmann at Warmbad. This officer had 
assured him that the Germans had never crossed the border into Union territory, had flown no 
aeroplanes in the Cape Province, and were not going to take any steps to invade the Union. 

" At the same time Maritz had met De Wet, Joubert, and another (I do not recollect the name), 
who had come over to get instructions from Maritz as to what they should do to help the Union 
troops to take German South-West Africa. De Wet had informed Maritz that the Germans had 
treated him very badly, had taken all his stock and foodstuffs, and he wanted to know what he 
should do. De Wet had also informed Maritz that the Dutch farmers in German South-West Africa 
were all on their farms, and were anxious to form a commando to assist us. With this commando, 
and without assistance from us, he would undertake to drive all the Germans out of the southern part 
of the Colony. Maritz, however, had told De Wet to go back quietly to his farm and look after his 
wife and children. 

" Captain Van Niekerk added that Maritz had said that our people had murdered the Germans at 
Schuit Drift in cold blood and deserved to be shot. 

" That evening I met Maritz and Joubert, and requested Maritz to allow me to proceed to Cape- 
town to attend to some business matters before proceeding to Upington. Maritz consented, and told 
me on my return to wait at Calvinia until he wired for me from Upington, adding, ' It seems to me 
that it may not be necessary for you to go to Upington as we may not go in German South-West 
Africa at all.' He also added that it was very foolish of people to advocate the invasion of the 
German Colony, and they would one day regret it." 



[2] 
Affidavit by Captain Malan. 

I, Stephanus Malan, make oath and say : — 

1. I am an attorn ey-at-law residing and practising at Upington, Division of Gordonia. 

2. I am a member of the Active Citizen Force, and hold the commission of Captain of the 
squadron known as the " First Bushmanland (Independent) Mounted Rifles." 

3. Orders for mobilization were received some time in August last, and on the 2nd of September 
aw went into a special peace training camp at Upington. 

4. Colonel Maritz had not arrived yet, but Captain (later Brigade-Major) Ben Coetzee was there 
in charge of the camp. 



* This refers to Maritz, who left Calvinia on the 18th August for Kakamas. 
t Staff Officer to Maritz. 

t Refers to the meeting of Transvaal Commandants on the 14th August, mentioned by General Beyers in his letter to 
General De la Rey. See above, p. 13. 
§ It was Tuesday, 25th. 



u 

5. The ordinary peace training, consisting of drill, rifle exercise, &c, was being carried out. 

6. Towards the end of the week, that is about the 10th or 11th, Colonel Mantis arrived in camp. 

7. He left the next day for Kakamas, where further units of the Defence Force were assembled. 
Commandant P. cle Villiers, of Upington, accompanied him. I have subsequently gathered that they 
went as far as the German border. 

8. After some four or five days Colonel Maritz returned to Upington. 

9. Recruiting of volunteers had by this time commenced, and was being carried on vigorously. 

10. About the 20th September Colonel Maritz informed me that he h;id been asked from Defence 
Headquarters when he would be able to proceed to invacfe German South- West Africa. By this time 
lots of talk had been going on in camp about refusing to operate across the border, but merely to 
defend in the Union. About the same time a communication was received from General Lukin that 
his one flank had been heavily attacked by the Germans, and asking for assistance. It appeared that 
this news was received gladly, as Colonel Maritz considered it wrong to invade. He replied to 
General Lukin that he could not help himself, and therefore could send no reinforcements. 

11. Ammunition in large quantities and some machine guns were now being conveyed from 
Prieska to Upington by carts and motor cars. 

12. Some time thereafter the officers in camp were informed by Maritz that orders had come to 
send a large force to Schuit Drift and one to Ukamas, and to operate in conjunction with General 
Lukin. Maritz stated that he would refuse to do this, and that he would telegraph to Headquarters 
that he is prepared to proceed in the direction of Ukamas, but would not cross the border, and if they 
would force him further he would resign. The reply from Headquarters was to the effect that he 
should hand over his command to Major Enslin and proceed to Pretoria. He stated that he was not 
going to do this. 

13. Shortly thereafter the camp received orders from Maritz to prepare to trek out from 
Upington, apparently to show his willingness to operate in the district. We left Upington on the 
2nd October, and proceeded in the direction of the German border. We were about 100 mounted 
men. On Sunday morning, the 4th October, we arrived at Van Rooisvlei, about twenty-five miles 
from Upington. We camped here in the open. All ammunition was taken away from Upington and 
deposited here. Written orders had been given to Lieutenant Freer, in charge of the machine guns, 
to follow the column, which he did. He also camped at Van Rooisvlei, some little distance from the 
place where the burghers were camped. Supplies for some eight days had been taken with the 
convoy, and further supplies had been requisitioned for from Upington. 

14. The daily routine in this camp was carried on the same as before, except that in the course 
of morning and afternoon drills, shooting exercises were given to the burghers. The daily orders 
were being written out and filed as usual. 

15. About the 5th October, Colonel Wylie reported to Maritz by helio from Upington, and as far 
as I can recollect he was informed to stay at Upington while Maritz proceeds towards the border to 
see to further possibilities in respect of water. 

16. The next day at noon the motor car for which Maritz had been waiting arrived, and he and 
Captain Joubert (formerly from German South-West Africa) went off towards Cnydas, where he had 
to look for the water. I ascertained the next morning that he did not do this, but, instead, got a refill 
of petrol and rushed off towards the border. 

17. Here I must mention that Captain Joubert had been living in German South-West Africa for 
years, where he owns a large number of stock and a farm. About the beginning of August he had 
been to the Orange Free State Province for about a month. He returned to German South-West 
Africa, and had barely been there when he returned to Kakamas and got his commission. During 
the Anglo-Boer war he was fighting with Maritz. They were very much attached to each other. 
Further, after having received his commission, he was sent to the Orange Free State by Maritz, and 
much importance was attached to his mission. Prior to this another man from Calvinia, I think his 
name is Nel, was also sent to the Orange Free State on some mission. About the same time a man 
nicknamed " Koper " (I do not know his real name)* was sent into the Bushmanlaud with instruc- 
tions to go as far as Dr. Steenkamp's at Nieuwoudtville. The real nature of these missions was not 
imparted to me, but I was given to understand that it was in order to find out the feelings of the 
public in regard to an invasion of German South-West Africa. However, upon hearing of the move 
as described in paragraph 16, my suspicions were aroused. Prior to his departure, Maritz had given 
orders for a large portion of the forces (some 300 mounted men) assembled at Kakamas to come out 
to him at Van Rooisvlei. This move appeared very wrong, as it was taking them away from the 
border. This strengthened my suspicions. In the course of the next day (the 7th) one of the 
Lieutenants in the camp, who appears to have enjoyed the complete confidence of Maritz, told me 
something about a plot, and gave me to understand his unwillingness to join. I warned him of the 
consequences of such an action. There were no grounds to prove that such a plot was going on 
except mere suspicion, and some hints, remarks, etc., let out from time to time became clearer to me. 
After the conversation it occurred to me that the said Lieutenant might have been sent in order to 
clearly ascertain my feelings in order to carry them to the Officer Commanding. When this struck 
me no time had to be wasted, and I immediately asked Major Coetzee for leave to go to Kakamas, 
where my relations were staying. This was granted. On my way to Kakamas I met the 300 men 
above referred to. That evening late I arrived in Kakamas. I immediately imparted everything to 
Mr. J. J. Lutz and the Superintendent, pointing out that everything was based on mere suspicion, 
having no actual ground. It was concluded that the best course would be to go to Headquarters at 
Pretoria direct and there impart what is known. It was also decided that I should remain in 
Kakamas so as to be on the spot in case my suspicions proved unfounded ; besides, suffering from a 
bad attack of influenza, I was unable to go. Mr. J. J. Lutz immediately proceeded to Kenhardt. The 
next day I helioed to Major Coetzee asking for an extension of my leave, and pleading illness. On 
the 9th written orders were received in the camp at Kakamas from Maritz to the effect that the 
remainder of the force, some 250 men still in camp at Kakamas, should immediately go out to him at 
Van Rooisvlei. This they did, and took all the ammunition with them. The next day news reached 
me that Maritz had turned traitor. That same night, having consulted the Assistant Resident 



* Andries Kampber is here referred to. 



65 

Magistrate, Van Niekerk, of Kenhardt, who was at Kakamas to investigate, and fearing an attack on 
Kakamas early next morning, I left the place on my way to Kenhardt, from where I proceeded to 
Carnarvon. 

Sworn to at Carnarvon, this day of October, 1914. 

(Signed) S. Malan. 
Before me, 

(Signed) (Signature illegible), 
Justice of the Peace. 



[3] 
Affidavit by Captain Louw. 



I, Andries Stephanas Louw, do hereby solemnly declare as follows : — 

I am thirty-three years of age and Captain in the 1st Bushmanland Mounted Rifles. I was in the 
Training Camp at Kakamas. I was the officer in charge of the Kakamas Camp and invariably 
received my instructions from Colonel Maritz at Upington. On 5th October, 1914, 1 received 
instructions from Maritz to move my squadron to Van Rooisvlei. I did so, and met him there on 
the 7th October. Maritz then gave orders that the three remaining squadrous should also come to 
Rokzijnputs. On the 10th of October the three squadrons arrived at Bokzijnputs. On the 9th October 
I received instructions to proceed with my squadron, approximately 100 men, to Van Rooisvlei. On 
the 7th October I was informed by Captain Joubert and Commandant De Villiers that Maritz had 
been to the Germans and returned ^v ith instructions from the Germans not to fight against them but 
against the British flag. I was prepared to carry out Maritz's instructions. This was also the feeling 
of my men. On the 9th October I received orders from Maritz to surround the artillery and the rest 
of the Active Citizen Force on Van Rooisvlei on all sides. This I did. Maritz thereupon had the 
artillery disarmed by members of the Active Citizen Force under the command of Captains v. d. 
Merwe and Engelbrecht. No resistance was offered. Maritz thereupon mounted a box and delivered 
a short speech, stating amongst other things that the Government expected him to cross the boundary 
with the Active Citizen Forces to fight against the Germans. He also read out telegrams to the effect 
ihat he should move against Schuit Drift and Heidas. He also read out his reply to the effect that 
he was not in a position to do so owing to an insufficient supply of ammunition, water, etc. He then 
again read a further telegram from General Smuts that he (Maritz) should immediately return to 
Pretoria and hand over his command to Colonel Brits and Major Enslin. He then stated that he 
would not do so. Captain Engelbrecht thereupon proposed to appoint Maritz as commanding officer 
to lead them at his own discretion. The regimentB of Captain Malan, Commandant De Villiers, and 
Captain A. Louw concurred therein. Between 500 and 600 men were present. Maritz, during the 
course of his speech, read out a contract with the German Government to the effect that he (Maritz) 
would be supplied gratis with all requirements to fight against the British flag. He said the Germans 
were on the borders waiting for his instructions to cross over to render the necessary assistance. 
I and my regiment returned to Bokzijnputs. On the 10th October three regiments arrived at 
Bokzijnputs. Lieutenant Rossouw, on the 9th, stepped aside and said that he was not in favour of 
the movement. He was then arrested and sent away as a prisoner of war. On the 10th October . 
I went to Kakamas to take charge of all stores. I arrived at Kakamas on Sunday, the 11th October. 
Every one had then fled to Kenhardt. I then reported thereon. I detained wagons whish were on 
their way to Kenhardt. On the 11th October I received instructions to proceed to Keimoes. I arrived 
there on the 12th October. On the 13tii October we left with six (?) regiments for Keimoes on our 
way to Upington. On the 14th Maritz went on ahead to meet Colonel Brits in person. Colonel Brits 
did not wish to come out. After that Maritz returned. Maritz said Colonel Brits would not consent 
to see him. A report was then made that some seventy men had been surronnded. I, with Maritz 
and thirty men, then went in the direction where the seventy men were surrounded. Maritz received 
a report from Colonel Brits. The contents are unknown to me. We then returned to the first place 
and thereafter to Keimoes. Subsequently we again went to Kakamas. At the last-mentioned place 
there was a meeting, mostly of officers, when it was decided to appoint Beyers and Conradie as 
delegates to negotiate with the Government for peace. Any conditions fixed by the Government had 
to be approved of by Generals Beyers, De Wet, Hertzog, and Kemp. These generals had to give 
instructions. They would not entertain any terms from the Government direct. On the 20th October 
the delegates returned, but they had no reply. I was always led to understand by Maritz that he was 
in constant communication with Generals De Wet, Hertzog, and Kemp with a view to regaining our 
independence, seeing that England was at war. I understood from Maritz that these negotiations had 
been proceeding for the past two or three years. The leaders concerned are Generals De Wet, 
Hertzog, Beyers, Kemp, and Celliers or De Villiers. These names were mentioned in his speech at 
Van Rooisvlei, and lie stated that these persons were in favour of the movement. On the 19th October 
a meeting of officers was held. I proposed that each regiment should proceed in the direction in which 
the parents of the young men were resident. On the 21st October Major Coetzee received a report 
that we should attack Keimoes from one side. The officers were unwilling and I went to Maritz to 
inform him accordingly. I met him after the tight. He was wounded in the leg. At Kakamas it 
was decided that I should proceed with my men in the direction of Calvinia. Maritz would go with 
about 500 men to Schuit Drift and from there to Namaqualand. Before we left Kakamas it was made 
clear to the burghers that they had to fight on getting in touch with the Government forces. Maritz 
urged them to be faithful to their officers. We left Maritz under the impression that we would fight. 
About six men, however, would not join in the movement, but I persuaded them and satisfied them 
that there would be no fighting. 

(Signed) A. S. LOUW. 



1663 



66 

[4] 

Affidavit by J. A. L. van der Merwe. 

Johannes Adrian Louw van der Merwe, sworn, states : — 

I joined the Defence Force at Calvinia Camp on 3rd January, 1914, as private No. 1142, mounted. 
I was promoted corporal during the period of peace training. I was called out for active service on 
28th August, 1914, and proceeded to Kakamas with the rest of the Calvinia men, where we arrived 
about the 13th September. I do not know how many men there were from Calvinia. Our officers 
were Captain Andries Louw, Lieutenants Carel Aron Visagie, Prank Louw, and Jacobus Nel from 
Calvinia District, and Lieutenants Rossouw and Dreyer from Van Rhynsdorp District. I was in 
Lieutenant Dreyer's troop, which was completely formed of Calvinia men. After arrival at Kakamas 
we did very little except look after our horses, and occasionally did some drills both mounted and 
foot. At first drills were frequent, but towards the end of our stay at Kakamas both drills and camp 
inspections were neglected. We remained at Kakamas for about a month. Shortly before we left 
Kakamas I resigned the rank of corporal for the purpose of joining the Intelligence Corps, in which 
there was no vacancy for a corporal. After joining the Intelligence Corps I was never employed in 
scouting, but some of the others were sent out, including Casper and Willem Steenkamp, under 
Lieutenant C. A. Visagie, who was in command of the Intelligence. From Kakamas we went to 
Bokzijnputs, north of Keimoes, and remained there two or three days. We were then under Captain 
A. Louw. All the Defence Force then stationed at Kakamas, including Calvinia, Clanwilliam, Van 
Rhynsdorp, and Kenhardt men, but excluding the volunteers, went to Bokzijnputs. The volunteers 
remained at Kakamas. From Bokzijnputs we were suddenly called' away to Van Rooisvlei, about 
ten miles due north. Colonel Maritz was there awaiting us, together with Captain Boshoff, Lieutenant 
Moolman, and some of the instructors. Immediately on our arrival we were ordered to "take 
position," i.e., No. 3 of each section remained mounted holding the section horses, whilst Nos. 1, 2, 
and 4 went dismounted to the front. When we carried out this movement some of the gun section 
rushed to their guns, and, as I was afterwards informed, wanted to open fire on us as they had 
become aware of Maritz's intentions. Maritz and some of the instructors closed in on them from 
behind, and they were afterwards marched down to where we had in the meantime been drawn up 
in a square with our horses. Maritz then got on a box and addressed us. He started abusing Botha, 
Smuts, and the capitalists, and said we were being kept under by them. He said that he did not want 
the land ruled by Englishmen, niggers, and Jews. He said that if ever there was a good time to 
take back South Africa now was the opportunity, because circumstances now rendered it impossible 
Cor England to land any men in South Africa. He said that Botha had sent us up to the line for 
training, and pointed out how badly the men who had been sent to Liideritzbucht had been treated, 
and how unnecessary it was for us to be sent into German South- West Africa to be killed. He said 
that there was a wireless station up north in German South-West Africa, and that they were in direct 
communication with Europe, and that he had information from there that the allies were hopelessly 
beaten, and that there was now a good chance of getting back the old flag over South Africa, which, 
by hook or crook, would be planted on Table Mountain. He then read a wire from General Smuts 
which ordered us into German South-West Africa, and said that if we obeyed that wire we would have 
to face the same music as those at Liideritzbucht. He then read us a contract which we had with 
the Germans " that if the Germans assisted in the forming of a Republic of South Africa the boundary 
line would be in future in the centre of the river instead of on the north bank as at present, and in 
consideration of this the Germans would allow us to retain Walfish Bay and the islands in the vicinity 
and would also give us Delagoa Bay." "' He then said that those who were unwilling to follow him 
should step out, and Lieutenant Rossouw and some forty or fifty men, including the whole gun 
section, stepped out. They were disarmed and placed under guard, and Maritz said that he was 
going to send them away as prisoners of war.^ I was on the point of stepping out when I heard that 
they were to be made prisoners of war, so I retained my place in the ranks determined to effect my 
escape at the first opportunity. . . . Lieutenant Botes personally informed me that he had been 
working in this matter for the past six months, and the day after Maritz addressed us Sergeant- 
Instructor Hattingh said to me at Bokzijnputs " This is quite an old thing ; I knew about it for a 
long time." On the day that we left Brandvlei for Kakamas I was singing " Sons of the Sea," when 
Instructor Hattingh said in a half jocular manner, " You must not sing that ; you must sing the 
"Volkslied" instead. 

" At Van Rooisvlei both Captain Boshoff and Instructor Engelbrecht also addressed the men." 

(Signed) J. A. L. v. d. Merwe. 

Sworn before me at Calvinia, this 24th October, 1914. 

(Signed) A. E. Bergh, J.l\ 

Translation.'] 

Agreement between Maritz and the Governor of German South-West Africa 



AGREEMENT made and entered into by and between the Imperial Governor of German South- 
West Africa, representing His Gracious Majesty the German Emperor, and General S. G. Maritz, 
acting in the name and on behalf of a number of officers and men who are prepared to declare the 
independence of South Africa, viz. : — 

1. The said General S. G. Maritz has declared the independence of South Africa and entered 
upon the conflict with England. 

2. The Governor of German South-West Africa recognizes all Africander forces who take the 
field against England as belligerent forces and will, after further consultation, support them in the 
conflict with England. 



fi7 

3. Should British South Africa partly or as a whole be declared independent the Imperial 
Governor of German South-West Africa will use every means to have the State or States in question 
as speedily as possible recognized as such by the German Empire and included in the general con- 
clusion of peace. 

i. In consideration of such assistance lent the newly formed State or States will make no 
objection should the German Empire take possession of Walfish Bay and the islands lying over against 
German South-West Africa. 

5. The middle of the Orange River will in future form the boundary between German South- 
West Africa and Cape Colony. 

0. The German Empire will make no objection should the above-mentioned States take possession 
of Delagoa Bay. 

7. Should the insurrection result in failure, insurrectionaries proceeding to German territory will 
be regarded as German subjects and treated as such. 

Done and su bseribed at on 



[6] 
No. 219, 1914. 

Proclamation 

By His Excellency the Right Honourable Viscount Buxton, a Member of His Majesty's Moat 
Honourable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint 
Michael and Saint George, High Commissioner for South Africa, Governor-General and 
Commander-in-Chief in and over the Union of South Africa. 



Whereas a state of war exists between the British Empire on the one hand and tho German 
Empire on the other ; 

And whereas the Government of the Protectorate of German South-West Africa has through a 
widespread secret propaganda persistently endeavoured to seduce the citizens of the Union and 
officers and members of the Defence Forces of the Union from their allegiance, and to cause rebellion 
and civil war within the Union ; 

And whereas these efforts have so far succeeded that Lieutenant-Colonel Soloman Gerhardus 
Maritz, together with a number of his officers and a portion of the forces placed under his command, 
has shamefully and traitorously gone over to the enemy, and is now in open rebellion against the 
Government and people of the Union, and is in conjunction with the forces of the enemy invading 
the northern portions of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope : 

And whereas there is grave reason to think that the Government of the Protectorate of German 
South-West Africa has through its numerous spies and agents communicated with and corrupted 
also other citizens of the Union under the false and treacherous pretext of favouring the establishment 
of a republic in South Africa ; 

And whereas the Government of the Union consider it necessary to take effective measures to 
protect and defend the interest of the Union and of its loyal and law-abiding citizens against these 
insidious and treacherous attacks from within and without — and to that end to declare Martial Law ; 

Now, therefore, under and by virtue of the power and authority in me vested, I do hereby 
declare, proclaim, and make known that all Magisterial Districts in the Union of South Africa are, 
until further notice, placed under Martial Law as Martial Law is understood and administered in 
time of war ; 

And I do hereby call upon all persons in the Union of South Africa to give due obedience to any 
and all regulations issued pursuant to this Proclamation by notice in the Gazette under the hand of the 
Minister of State for Defence, or to orders and instructions, not being in conflict with the said 
regulations, given by the senior military officer in command for the time being in any part of the 
Union of South Africa. 

God Save the King. 

Given under my Hand and the Great Seal of the Union of South Africa at Pretoria this Twelfth 
day of October One thousand Nine hundred and Fourteen. 

BUXTON, 

Governor-General. 
By Command of His Excellency the 
Governor-General-in-Council. 

J. C. SMUTS. 



Translation.] 

[7] 



Proclamation by Maritz. 



To the People op South Africa. 

Whereas the peace concluded at Vereeniging in 1902 was in conflict with the real wishes of the 
South African people, and we were compelled to submission against onr desire because our women 
and children were being systematically done to death by the enemy in the concentration camps, 
through which the nation incurred the danger of being completely destroyed ; 

4563 I 2 



68 

Whereas the ideal of a free South Africa under their own tlag is still cherished by our people, 
and we firmly believe and cherish the holy conviction that Providence, which controls the destinies 
of peoples as well as persons, planted our pious and brave forefathers in this sunny land to make of 
us, their descendants, a free and independent people ; 

Whereas the Imperial Government has, on more than one occasion since the last war, again 
broken faith with the South African people, by, for example, paying out the three million pounds, 
which was intended for bnrghers who had not placed themselves under protection of the enemy, to 
persons who had no right to it, and further (because) both the English Government and the jingo 
section in England have continually brought pressure to bear on the Union Government, conlrary to 
promises made, to extinguish and suppress the national aspirations of our people and to place the 
interests of the Empire above those of South Africa ; 

Whereas the Imperial Government finally went so far as to induce the Union Government to 
attempt, against the will and desire of the vast majority of our people, to conquer German South- West 
Africa, and the Union Government by means of false and deceitful representations persuaded 
Parliament to approve of the said war ; 

Whereas the people have protested against the said war, at first by passive resistance and later 
arms in hand, and the Union Government, instead of giving ear to this, set one section of the people 
in arms against the other, by means of untrue and misleading assertions, through which many sons 
of our land have already lost their lives ; 

Whereas the people has exhausted all constitutional means of inducing the Union Government 
to refrain from the aforesaid war, and therefore no other way remains open to the people than to 
shake off the British yoke ; 

Now, therefore, I, Solomon Gerhardus Maritz, Coramandaut-General of the Republican forces in 
the Cape Province, by consent of the Provisional Government, proclaim and determine as follows : — 

That the former South African Republic and Orange Free State, as well as the Cape Province 
and Natal, are declared free of British authority and independent, and every white inhabitant of the 
aforesaid territories, of whatever nationality, is hereby called upon to aid, arms in hand, in the 
establishment of the long-cherished ideal of a free and independent South Africa. 

If the people obey this call unanimously the object can be attained without bloodshed ; on the 
other hand, if there is disunion the struggle may possibly be long and bloody. Hence it is necessary 
for every one to take up arms in order to attain what God has foreordained for our people and what 
He now places within our reach. 

The property and goods of those who stand on our side will be respected and protected in every 
possible way, and all commandeered property and animals will he paid for as soon as possible after 
the war. 

All financial liabilities, of whatsoever character, are suspended until three months after the war, 
and acknowledgments of indebtedness of this kind, etc., will bear no interest durihg the war. 

The payment of repatriation debts is iikewise suspended, and as soon as possible after the war 
the whole question will be reopened, with the object of finding a more just and fair solution. 

Several cases are known where the enemy has armed natives and coloured people to fight against 
us, and as this tends-to arouse contempt among the black nations for the white, an emphatic warning 
is issued that all coloured people and natives who are captured with arms, as well as their officers, 
will be mad.? to pay the penalty with their lives. 

I proclaim and make known further that prisoners of war taken from the enemy who, when 
captured, are not wearing proper uniforms which can be distinguished from civilian dress will be 
dealt with according to the usages of war. 

That we shall take revenge if it appears that our burghers or officers who may fall into the hands 
of the enemy are not treated in accordance with the laws of civilised warfare. 

On several occasions of late it appears that the enemy has made use of explosive bullets, and I 
wish to protest emphatically against so barbarous a manner of carrying on war. Any of the enemy 
found in possession of such cartridges will be treated according to the laws of war. 

Of late the enemy has on more than one occasion abused the white flag; against this also a 
warning is issued. 

As the enemy threatens to confiscate the property of burghers fighting on the Republican side, it 
is hereby notified that such confiscation is unlawful and will not be recognized. 

Finally it is notified for general information that the following persons have been chosen as a 
Provisional Government to act in the name of the people, until other arrangements can be made : — 

C. F. Beyers,. Commandant-General for the Transvaal. 

C. R. de Wet, Commandant-General for the Orange Free State. 

S. G. Maritz, Commandant-General for the Cape Province. 

J. C. J. Kemp, Assistant Commandant-General for the Transvaal. 

A. P. J. Bezuidenhout, " Vegt-generaal " ; and Commandant Kampher. 

This Proclamation must be considered as applying to the Transvaal and the Orange Free State as 
well as to the Cape Province and Natal, in so far as the contents are not in conflict with proclamations 
and notices already issued by the Provisional Government or Republican Generals. 

God Save Country and People. 

Given under my haud in the field, this 16th day of December, in the year of our Lord One 
thousand Nine hundred and Fourteen. 

S. G. MARITZ. 



69 

O— CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN GENERAL BOTHA, PRESIDENT STEYN, AND 
GENERAL SMUTS, DEALING WITH THEIR EFFORTS TO OBVIATE BLOODSHED.* 



[1] 

General Botha to President Steyn. 

, Onze Rust. 

11th October. — Regret to have to inform .you that Maritz has committed treason and has joined 
enemy with majority of his officers and men. He has arrested those who declined to join and sent 
them to German West Africa. He has with him a force of the enemy near Kakainas, and yesterday 
sent Government an ultimatum in which he threatens to invade Cape Province further unless by 
ten o'clock this morning it is agreed to allow Generals De Wet, Hertzog, Beyers, Kemp, and Muller 
to meet him at headquarters to give him instructions. Government has ignored ultimatum, but taken 
strong steps to deal with situation. For this purpose Martial Law is being proclaimed to-morrow and 
burghers in certain parts commandeered. You, of course, realize the seriousness of the affair. A 
word from you will go far. 



[2] 

Onze Rust, 

12th October, 1914. 
Dear General Botha, 

I have received the telegram containing the serious news about Maritz and his commando. I 
need not tell you that I fully realize its serious character and also understand what the consequences 
of it may be for our people. 

You say that a word from me can do much. It is just here that my difficulty comes in. Not 
that it is hard for me to reprobate treason or to condemn the action of Maritz and his followers. 
That deed is done, however, and whatever I might say or do, it cannot be undone. Yet where I have 
to speak a word to the people I must deal with the people honourably and openly. I shall have to 
tell the people that I most strongly disapprove of the policy of the Government respecting an attack 
upon German West Africa. I shall also have to tell the people that I not only disapprove of that 
policy, but that as far back as three years ago I warned you against such a policy, and that on the 
outbreak of the European war I had again repeated that warning to General Smuts. I regret that my 
well-meant advice, which I regarded as in the interests of South Africa and the Empire, has not been 
followed. As a result of that policy a number of officers and men, who, as far as I know, were loyal, 
have become rebels. You will thus see that a letter written in that spirit will not have the desired 
effect, but, on the contrary, will do more harm than good, and yet I cannot intervene in this affair 
without making my standpoint clear. I owe this to my people and to myself. I am not yet strong : 
I am already feeling the evil effects of the terrible times in which we are living, and therefore I had 
hoped to be able to remain outside the present conflict, quietly and wherever possible exerting my 
influence in the direction of moderating public feeling in its excited condition. Even now I still feel 
that this is the most effective course for me to pursue. My position is not easy. It is with difficulty 
that I can get about, and so I cannot go to the people. I cannot speak to them either, as even in 
ordinary conversation I sometimes find difficulty in speaking. 

An open letter to the effect detailed above is undesirable. I understand your difficulty, and shall 
do nothing to render your task more difficult still. 

I have written frankly, in order that you may understand my position and also realize my desire 
to remain outside the conflict at the present time. 

I am sending Colin with this letter so that he may deliver it to you personally and inform you 
fully as to my condition. If you have any information that you wish to communicate yon may also 
do so through him. 

It is my heartfelt prayer that in these dark days the needful strength and wisdom and, above all, 
prudence may !«■ vouchsafed you from on high. With heartfelt greetings, 

I remain, 

Your sincerely, 

(Sgd.) M. T. STEYN. 



Perso?wl.j 

13th October, 1914. 
My Dear President, 
Colin delivered your letter yesterday evening ; while thanking you for it and also for the open 
manner in which you explain to me your point of view, I must say that I felt deeply disappointed at 
the contents. One expression in particular has hurt me extremely, viz., where you say that " as a 
consequence of that policy a number of officers and men, who, as far as I know, were loyal, have 
become rebels." In other words, President, you say that my colleagues and I are responsible for the 
scandalous action of Maritz ! This is not the occasion to discuss in detail all the pro's and con's of 
our policy — the careful consideration of these from all sides occupied the attention of Parliament for 
days upon end— the fact is, however, that that policy is not only the policy of the Government but 
that of an overwhelming majority of the representatives of the people. Personally, I have never yet 
felt the slightest doubt that this policy is in the real interests of our people, and that any other line of 



* The majority of the telegrams between President Steyn and General Smuts have been incorporated in Part II of 
the Report. The correspondence between General Botha and President Steyn reached the compiler too late to be used in the 
same way. All these documents as here given are translations, with the exception of Nos. 7, 15, 26-28, 83, 46, 47. 



70 



conduct would have entailed nothing but unhappy consequences for Africanderdom. So that, if it is 
the policy of the Government that has been the cause of this crime of Maritz against his people, then 
it is at the same time the policy of the vast majority of Parliament and also, without the slightest 
doubt, the policy which is not only supported, but demanded, by the vast majority of the population of 
the Union. But, President, there is no connection between the decision of Parliament and this act of 
treason. I possess the proofs that long before the resolve of the Government became known, in fact, 
long before that resolve was come to, a plot was already on foot— a plot with which Maritz and others 
with him were closely associated. Although we were successful in scotching the nefarious schemes 
which were already being hatched even before we had come to our decision, still the present treason 
of Maritz and his fellows is the direct outcome of these machinations. The proofs are in our hands. 
Even if it had been our decision that occasioned the treason of Maritz, that would not prove our policy 
was wrong— but our decision was not the cause of this treason. ' The cause of this treason is nothing 
but the outbreak of the war with Germany and the deplorable and fatal idea of the present traitors 
that now that the British Empire finds itself in difficulties the time has come to recover our freedom 
by making common cause with the Germans across our borders. 

It is an abominable thing that Maritz has done. A large number of unthinking young men who 
had been entrusted to his charge, who were in one of the annual training camps, and whom we should 
not even have employed in the attack upon German South- West Africa, have been prevailed upon by 
him to commit the crime of high treason ! President, the misery and the sorrow that may come upon 
our people in consequence of this action are so awful that in my opinion it is the sacred duty of every 
man oi influence in our country to do everything in his power to keep these consequences within as 
narrow limits as possible. There is no one, President, who could speak a word with greater effect 
than you. It is not the Government that I am concerned for — I am not asking for anything to 
strengthen the position of the Government. I am only asking you to believe that the Government is 
inspired by the interests of our people, and that, however strongly yon may disapprove of the policy 
of the Government, the Government at least is supremely convinced that the course upon which we 
have entered is in the interests of our country and our people. If you believe this, I say, then I would 
address an earnest appeal to you who stand above political parties and interests — speak a word to warn 
our people against treason, against the everlasting stain that anything of the kind would be upon our 
national honour, and against the i calculably fatal consequences. At the same time, President, if you 
cannot speak that word otherwise than in the form you have indicated, it is better to say l.othing, 
because that would Dot encourage our people to -support the authorities loyally in this crisis, but 
rather the reverse. 



To Hie Honour 

President M. T. Steyn, 

Onze Rust, Kaalspruit, Orange Free State. 



Yours sincerely, 
(Sg<L) 



LOUIS MOTHA. 



[4] 

22nd October, 1914. 
Dear President Steyn, 

I regret most deeply to have to inform you that the Government is in possession of information 
which they can no longer question that preparations are being made for a general armed insurrection 
amongst our Boer population, and that Generals De Wet, Beyers, and Kemp, with others of our old 
officers, are actively employed at the head of this movement./ I do not know if you have heard of 
this, and if yon attach importance to the information in question, but I give you the assurance that 
the evidence is of such a character that I can no longer entertain a moment's doubt. You are, of 
course, aware, President, what the meaning of this >s likely to be for our people. Perhaps in a few 
days we shall be face to face with a civil war in which the Government will be obliged- to do their 
duty, in which the English population is unanimous as one man, and in which our Boer population 
will be sharply divided. Our people in the Cape Province are almost unanimously opposed to this 
treasonable movement, and in the old Republics as well it is certain that there is a large proportion 
of the people, to say the least, which feels that there is no advantage to be gained for ourselves or our 
posterity along the path of treason and disloyalty. The outcome, therefore, of such an insurrection, 
headed by men who in the past have been our honoured leaders, can only mean the total ruin of our 
people. For my part I am prepared to take any honourable steps to obviate such a disaster, but I 
would appeal to you, too, President, and I feel assured that in this our dark hour I shall not do so in 
vain. Our people still continue to look up to you as their greatest figure, and they will listen to you 
as they would to no one else amongst them. The situation imposes upon you the responsibility of no 
linger remaining quiet, but using all your influence to avert this calamity. I consider it imperative 
that you should without delay, through your son Colin and other reliable men, dispatch a letter to 
De Wet, Beyers, and Kemp, and either summon them to meet you or in some other way turn them 
from the path of destruction where they now stand. If they come to jou the Government will take 
no steps to arrest them, and will provide every facility for your messengers. 

Do your best, President, to save our people from this reproach, this indelible dishonour. The 
position is more serious than words can describe. 

What jou do must be done at once ; an outbreak may now be expected any day. 

Believe me, 

Yours faithful lv and sincerely, 

' (Sgd.) LOUIS BOTHA. 
His Honour 

President M. T. Steyn, 

Onze Rust, Orange Free State. 



71 

[5] 

Onze Rust, 

23rd October, 1914. 
Dear General Botha, 

General Burger has handed me your letter. 

And so the thing against which my prayers and labours and warnings have for the past ten years 
been directed, viz., civil war, has come at last. According to the information supplied me by General 
Burger I can no longer doubt that this is the case. 

I am sending Colin with a view to averting, if possible, at the last moment the danger feared. I 
shall therefore request Generals De Wet, Beyers, and Kemp to meet me here at Onze Rust. How far 
your information is correct as to the two last I cannot judge. I accordingly assume that it is so. I 
question its accuracy as regards General De Wet. 

The success of my efforts will largely depend upon the manner in which this affair is handled 
by the Government. If Generals Beyers and Kemp have already committed an act of rebellion you 
can understand that they will not be inclined to leave their burghers and run the risk of being 
arrested. The most distinct assurance must, therefore, be given upon this point; also that if they 
abandon their resistance you will not have themselves and their followers arrested and brought to 
justice. 

It will also be well to extend the above to include Maritz and his followers, for you will under- 
stand that if the allegation is correct that Generals Beyers and Kemp were in the plot with Maritz, 
they will not be inclined to leave him in the lurch in order to save themselves. In a matter of this 
kind, General, statesmanship is frequently of more effect than force of arms. 

I cannot too strongly recommend this policy of forbearance and that not only in the interests of 
our people, but also in your own. Once blood has been spilt the time for forbearance is past, and 
then, rightly or wrongly, you and your colleagues will have to bear the reproach that it was under 
your Government that civil war, if not fraternal war, broke out. Do therefore what you can, General, 
to prevent it. 

I am doing everything in my power as far as my feeble strength allows. I am ae yet not 
apprehensive as regards the Free State, but if the fire is once kindled in the Transvaal I am afraid 
that the Free State too will be ablaze in a moment. May God in his mercy avert it ! Colin is at your 
service to proceed further immediately upon arrival in Pretoria. I do not know where General De 
Wet is. Please find out, for it will be necessary for Colin to see him, too, personally and deliver my 
letter. Unfortunately the telephone service is stopped this morning, and so it is difficult to discover 
where he is. Please give instructions if you can for the telephone to be kept open for me. 

Hoping that these efforts may meet with such blessing that our country may yet be saved from 
the danger apprehended, and with kindest greetings and deepest respect, 

I remain, 

Yours sincerely, 

(Sgd.) M. T. STKYN 

P.S. — Keep this out of the papers. Publicity may possibly defeat our plans. I shall also acquaint 
Hertzog with the position. 



[6] 
Colin Steyn to General De Wet, Memel. 



Clear the Line. D/0557. 24th October. — Have letter for you from my father which I must 
deliver personally. Leave information with Jan Wessols at Vrede where and when I can see you. 



[7] 
General Smuts, Pretoria, to Special Justice Peace, Memel. 
D/0558. 24th October. — Is General De Wet at Memel ? Reply sharp and also wire when he leaves. 



[8] 

The bearer is Dr. Colin Steyn, son of President Steyn. He is upon a special mission from his 
father of which I am cognizant. All officers and burghers are instructed to facilitate his journey. 

(Sgd.) Louis Botha, 

Prime Minister. 



[8a] 

24th October, 1914. 
Dear Dr. Steyn, 

If General Beyers decides to go to see your father arrangements will be made to convey him 
by special train from Magalies Station to Kaalspruit Station. Please find out from him when he can 
take the train at Magalies so that the necessary arrangements can be made on the line. 

Yours faithfully, 

(Sgd.) J. C. Smuts. 



72 

[ 9 ] 

27th October, 1914. 
General C. R de Wet is on his way to President Steyn at his farm Onze Rust near Bloemfontein. 
I have guaranteed his immunity from arrest upon this journey. All officers and burghers are 
instructed to respect this safe-conduct under my hand, and to facilitate this journey as well as General 
De Wet's return journey to Heilbron, Reitz, or Vrede. 

(Sgd.) Louis Botha, 

Prime Minister. 



[10] 
Very Confidential. 

" (1) Government is not prepared to make any proposal or to take any step in regard to which it 
is not assured that it will be acted upon. 

•' (2) If any proposal is to be made, as suggested by C(olin) S(teyn) (i.e. exemption from criminal 
prosecution for all disaffected who surrender to their local magistrate within a prescribed period and 
hand over all rihes obtained from the Government in their possession and after that go home without 
delay), then this must come from the other side as a proposal which the dissatisfied burghers are 
prepared to accept. 

" (3) In that case the Government will be disposed to give such proposal its most serious con- 
sideration, as it desires ardently to avoid bloodshed. 

" (4) It is not clear why burghers think they will be commandeered for German South-WeSt 
Africa as Prime Minister has already officially declared that this will not take place and that only 
volunteers will be used (for the expedition)." 



[11 ] 

Colin to M. T. Steyn, Kaalspruit Station. 

D/0825. 29th October. — Leave to-morrow for Heilbron. Hoping for the best. Beyers not yet 
discovered. It will be desirable for General De Wet to remain with you as he is being sought for in 
all directions. 



[12] 



»«».«,., a«,,m a » j Colonel Botha, 

GENERAL SMUTS to J Colonbl Brand ; 



Kroonstad 
Bloemfontein 



D/0887. 31st October. — If De Wet wishes to go through to Onze Rust to see President Steyn do 
not hinder him. 



[13] 

Steyn, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/554. 31st October. — Do you know where Colin and Hertzog are? Have not heard since his 
telegram from Pretoria. 



[14] 

General Smuts, Pretoria, to President Steyn, Onze Rust, Bloemfontein. 

D/0914. 31st October. — Your B/554. Colin left for Heilbron Thursday night to get in touch 
with Rocco. Have heard nothing further of him or his movements. 



[15] 

General Smuts to Colonel Brand, Bloemfontein. 

D/0931. 1st November.— Please inform President Steyn Colin has again arrived at Pretoria jm\ 
now. I have not seen him yet. I shall let the President know when he leaves. 



[16] 

General Smuts to Colonel Brand. Bloemfontein. 

D/093G. 1st November.— Tell President Steyn that Colin arrived here safely and proposes return 
again Free State to-morrow. Hopes to be at Bloemfontein Wednesday or Thursday. 



73 

[17] 
Steyn, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/565. 1st November. — Hertzog just arrived here. Report very hopeful. Please give instruc- 
tions that no military steps be taken as long as negotiations continue. Hertzog already asked General 
De Wet to do the same. Am sending letter to General De Wet to-day with the same request. A 
hasty step now may have fatal consequences. 



[18] 

General Smuts to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0945. 2nd November. — Your B/565. Instructions issued everywhere in Free State to adopt 
waiting attitude and not assume offensive. Colin will be at Helibron about 1 o'clock. 



[19] 

Steyn, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/579. 2nd November. — Have learned with regret my letter will not reach General De Wet until 
to-day. Hope it will have desired effect that he too adopts waiting attitude. Be patient just a little 
longer. 



[20] 

Steyn, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/590. 3rd November. — As I entertain the hope that if further hostilities are avoided it will be 
possible to bring parties to an understanding shortly after arrival of General De Wet I think it 
desirable that General Botha or you should be in the vicinity in order so to expedite the negotiations 
and to end the suspense that now prevails. What do you think ? 



[21] 

General Smuts to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0982. 3rd November. — Senekal burghers wish conference at Bloemfontein on Saturday of two 
representatives from each Free State district. Have answered that you are working in direction of 
peace and that their proposal must stand over for the present. I trust affair will reach satisfactory 
conclusion Thursday. 



[22] 
Steyn, Tempe, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 



B/991. 3rd November. — Thanks for your telegram re conference, also for your answer. Hope 
you have received my telegram of this morning and that you will give my suggestion earnest 
consideration. In my opinion it may contribute greatly to speedy solution. 



[23] 

General Smuts to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0022. 4th November. — •Your B 590 of yesterday. Have consulted General Botha as to your 
suggestion. Regret it is impossible for him or me to leave Pretoria now. Moreover journey to 
Bloemfontein in present circumstances will occupy nearly two days and thus lead to more loss of 
time. Trust your work will be successful. 



[24] 

Steyn, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/599. 4th November. — Telegram received. Fear your absence at distance may easily be cause 
of failure. No news from Colin yet. Shall inform you at once of his arrival. 



[25] 

General Smuts to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0051. 5th November. — Shall be glad if you will tell me where General De Wet is, whether he 
is going to Bloemfontein, and when he is arriving ? I have heard nothing further of Colin. 

4563 K 



74 

[26] 

Magistrate, Lindley, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

5th November, 1914.— Colin Steyn still here. He informs me that he will meet General De Wet 
somewhere on the Ventersburg road about 10 a.m. to-morrow. In hopes that General De Wet will 
then proceed to Bloemfontein to interview ex-President Steyn. 



[27] 
Magistrate, Lindley, to Defence, Pretoria. 



6th November, 1914. — All quiet here this morning. Colin Steyn has just left by motor via 
Steynsrust for Ventersburg Road to meet General De Wet. Commandant Naude still in laager. 
Rebels are all along Lovat, Steynsrust, and to the north of Steynsrust. 



[28] 

DlSSO, Eroonstad, to GENERAL Smuts, Pretoria. 

M. 386. 6th November. — Colin Steyn left Lindley this morning to meet General De Wet at 
Ventersburg. 



[29] 

STEYN, Bloemfontein, to GENERAL Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/606. 5th November. — Colin and De Wet not yet arrived. Information is that they intended to 
be in the neighbourhood of Lindley Tuesday or Wednesday on their way here. Have heard nothing 
since. Think thev are being held up by wet roads. We expect them any moment. Where are 
Kemp and Beyers ? 



[ W ] 
Steyn, Tempe, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/608. 6th November. — Regret De Wet and Colin not yet arrived. I think they have been held up 
by rain. I do not know, however, whether they are coming on horseback or by motor. Have not 
yet heard anything from Colin direct, but from a certificate of Commandant Prinsloo to Brand 
Wessels it appears De Wet was still quite resolved to come, so I am still expecting him any moment. 



[31] 
Steyn, Tempe, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 



B/611. 6th November.— General De Wet and Colin not yet arrived. Have just sent General 
Hattingh, Brand Wessels, and Dr. Loubser to look for them. Meantime General Hertzog remains 
with me so that we need lose no time when De Wet arrives. 



[32] 

General Smuts, Pretoria, -to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0123. 7th November. — Beyers located yesterday on Vaal River between Bloemhof and 
Wolmaransstad. Have sent him safe-conduct to you. I do not know if he will use it. Delay of 
De Wet and activity of his commandos are making affair almost hopeless. Fighting already begun 
at Kroonstad in order to oppose destruction of line and blowing up of bridges. 



[33] 

Magistrate, Winburg, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

7th November. — Dr. Colin Steyn left here this morning for Bloemfontein. He wishes you to 
send any further instructions to him there. (Begins)*— I have just returned from General De Wet. 
He insists on Beyers and Kemp being present at Onze Rust as a condition to his going on Tuesday. I 
understood he was going to Onze Rust at the unanimous request of his officers, but at a meeting on 
Wednesday he insisted on above condition and eventually he decided to write a letter to President 
Steyn. He informed me of that on Friday. He however wanted me to wait till Monday, but I deemed 
it advisable to proceed direct to Bloemfontein. He then asked me to return on Monday, in which 
case he might accompany me, but I do not know whether he will. If De Wet can be induced to stop 
his advance and there is any chance of finding Beyers and Kemp there is still chance of peace. 
De Wet's officers are still in same frame of mind as mentioned in my last report. 

* What follows is a telegram from Dr. Steyn. 



[34] 

General Smuts, Pretoria, to President Steyn. Bloemfontein. 

D/0125. 7th November. — Colin left Winburg for Bloemfontein this morning. His conduct has 
been extremely fine and patriotic. I learn that De Wet intends not to go to Bloemfontein until next 
week. Meanwhile he is hurrying on forward movement. My fear is that his attitude makes position 
hopeless. 



[35] 
Steyn, Tempe, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 



B/612. 7th November.— Thanks for both telegrams. Movements of opposing sides make affair 
complicated, but I trust not yet hopeless. I shall await Colin's arrival and then see what can be done. 
I have heard nothing as yet from De Wet. I shall be glad if Beyers comes. Perhaps a door will be 
opened for this. 



I 36] 

Steyn, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/613. — Colin arrived. After having heard his report I have decided to send Charles Fichardt and 
Colin to De Wet at once to bring him here. I am asking him to arrange for his commandos to move 
in such a way as not to come in collision with Government troops. Please issue similar instructions and 
please take measures above all that no attack is made upon his men so long as he is away. I should go 
in person but am too unwell. The suspense of the last days has been too much for me. Colin will try 
to get hold of Bevers to-day. 



[37] 

General Smuts to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0130. 7th November. — Your telegrams of even date received. From intercepted dispatches of 
De Wet's it appears that he is going on with his plans in spite of your efforts. Report also received 
that Colonel Lemmer engaged General Beyers near Hoopstad to-day and 'captured 350 of Beyers' 
commando. We deeply regret to hear of the state of your health. 



[38] 

General Smuts to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0150. 8th November. — Consider it my duty to bring the following to your notice before you 
meet De Wet and Beyers. When Colin was here in connection with the treatment of rebel leaders 
in case of unconditional surrender no open hostilities had as yet taken place. De Wet and Beyers have 
however very much delayed their visit to you and meanwhile war has openly broken out, considerable 
engagements have been fought, much public and private property has been destroyed and numerous 
lives have been lost. Only to-day the Winburg Commando under Cronje has been destroyed. In 
these circumstances the situation has so changed that I fear public opinion, which has been much 
embittered, will not tolerate a complete amnesty in the case of the most prominent leaders. 



[39] 

Steyn, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/616. 9th November. — Fichardt and Colin just back. They report that General De Wet now 
refuses to come. They found him yesterday during the fight at Sand River. De Wet alleges that as 
usual he was intending to keep the Sunday quiet when he saw men on a kopje at a distance. Thinking 
that thsy belonged to his commando he rode towards them and when he reached the kopje he was 
fired at, with the result thac eight of his men, including his own son Danie, were killed and a number 
wounded. An engagement then developed and Cronje's commando was defeated. Colin thereupon 
broke off his journey to Beyers and so now the meeting will not take place. I regret that my efforts 
have failed. I must now wait patiently to see if another opportunity may not offer later. Had blood 
not been shed in the Free State and Transvaal I still had hope that a way out would be found, hence 
my constant anxiety that no violent measures should be taken. I am informed that the ambulance 
arrangements amongst the burghers in the field leave much to be desired. Is it not possible for steps 
to be taken to make good this deficiency so as to alleviate the sufferings of our poor people ? Can the 
Government not provide the necessary material ? 



4563 K 2 



76 

[40] 

General Smuts to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0179. 9th November. — Your B/616. Contents of your telegram noted with regret. After all 
the delay perhaps there was nothing else to expect. I am doing my best to improve ambulance 
arrangements so that both sides may have attention. 



[41] 

President Steyn, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

10th November. — General Beyers just arrived. Hav£ had a long conversation with him. I think 
it would be well if you can give him and his secretary* a safe-conduct to General De Wet. I fear, 
however, that if the Government maintain the position indicated in your telegram of yesterday it will 
be- difficult to arrange matters. I would most strongly advise that the Government abandon that 
position and follow a broadminded generous policy otherwise I foresee a state of affairs that may 
continue perhaps for years and occasion much bloodshed and suffering, to say nothing of material loss. 
General Hattingh arrived to-day and reports conditions are worse than one imagines. Please wire 
me as quickly as possible if you can send General Beyers a safe-conduct. His safe-conduct here he 
only received yesterday. 



[42] 

General Smuts, Pretoria, to President Steyn. Bloemfontein. 

D/0228. 11th November. — I have sent on contents of your telegram to General Botha, who is absent 
from Pretoria, and shall answer as soon as possible. 



[43] 
. Steyn, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 
11th November. — When do you think you will be able to send reply ? 



[44] 

Captain Brink, Bloemfontein, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/629. 11th November. — President Steyn has been asked to send you following telegram : — 
(Begins) The two men who came here with General Beyers went off to Bloemfontein this morning 
with a pass in order to get their motor-car attended to. They are now being detained there against 
their will. Please issue instructions for them to be sent back at once. (Ends) Two individuals 
referred to were furnished by Commandant V. d. Berg, District Boshof, and belong to Government 
forces. I have asked them to remain here pending instructions from you. 



[45] 

General Smuts, Pretoria, to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0252. 11th November. — I have asked Staff Officer at Bloemfontein to send two men with 
motor back to General Beyers. I regret that I cannot give General Beyers a pass to General De Wet, 
but attitude of General De Wet is such that I expect no useful result from meeting and must there- 
fore request General Beyers to return to his commando. 



[46] 

General Smuts, Pretoria, to Captain Brink, Bloemfontein. 

D/0253. 11th November. — Your B/629. Please send two men back to President Steyn to take 
Beyers back to his commando. 1 have refused to let him go on to De Wet. 



[47] 

General Smuts, Pretoria, to Decompol, Bloemfontein. 

D/0257. 11th November. — Instruct your various branches to notify public that Government have 
•delayed taking action in Orange Free State because they wanted President Steyn to use his influence 
with De Wet with object of preventing bloodshed. De Wet has, however, finally declined to listen to 
President Steyn and Government have therefore taken the field in Orange Free State with very strong 
forces from Vereeniging to Bloemfontein and hope to be able with forces at their command to restore 
law and order as they have already done in Transvaal. 

* Rev. H. van Broekbui/.en. 



77 

[48] 

Stbyn, Tempe, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 

B/631. 12th November. — Your telegram to hand. Beyers just left. I have found him quite 
amenable and therefore regret extremely that you cannot give him a safe-conduct to General De Wet, 
because I have been expecting that this interview would help greatly towards a peaceful solution. 
Also I had meant to have a motor fitted up for me in such a way that I might follow slowly as far as 
my strength would allow in order to get nearer De Wet and be able to be present also if required. 
May God have pity upon our poor people. 



[49] 

General Smuts, Pretoria, to President Steyn, Bloemfontein. 

D/0271. 12th November. — Had I expected any good result from interview I should certainly 
have given Beyers a pass. He is discouraged and depressed and De Wet is firmly resolved and 
determined to proceed and only result of a meeting between them in your absence would be that 
De Wet would talk Beyers round. We delayed active operations in Free State in expectation of 
conference until at last De Wet had 5000 men in the field, until he was openly saying in his speeches 
to his commandos that he thought it strange that the Government should be so anxious to negotiate 
with rebels, and until after temporizing for a long time he finally refused to attend conference. We 
could wait no longer and unless De Wet is convinced by force I do not believe he is more likely to 
listen to argument. It is therefore in the highest interests of country and people that we discharge 
our duty as a Government. 



[50] 
Steyn, Tempe, to General Smuts, Pretoria. 



16th November. — Brand Wessels just returned. Reports that General De Wet is willing, if he can 
obtain safe-conduct and if safe-conduct can also be sent to General Beyers, to visit me along with 
Beyers and open negotiations in order to see if a way cannot be found by which peace can be restored. 
He appears to be less concerned about anything else than the redress of certain grievances felt by the 
burghers which he will discuss with me. I trust that the Government will take advantage of this 
favourable opportunity as I feel convinced we are on the way to a peaceable solution. The 
interview will take place in my presence thus removing your objection. According to my information 
the situation grows worse daily. As I said before if we do not take advantage of this opportunity 
now I foresee bloodshed and misery that will continue for years. Do not refuse consent, therefore. 
You know General De Wet and it is only by means of the utmost exertions and by bringing all my 
influence to bear that he has been prevailed upon to come to me. If you agree please wire separate 
safe-conducts here for both Generals also a safe-conduct for Brand Wessels to take the safe-conduct 
to De Wet and accompany him here. 



[51] 

General Smuts, Pretoria, to His Honour President Steyn. 

17th November. — The Government has seriously considered your telegram of yesterday's date. 
We feel that the position has entirely changed since General Botha first appealed to you to use your 
influence with De Wet and Beyers to avert bloodshed. Then no hostilities had yet occurred and 
De Wet and Beyers were merely busy forming commandos. Beyers would not go to you without 
De Wet, and De Wet put off from day to day, with the obvious intention of gaining time in order to 
mobilize a great force. Meanwhile hostilities broke out in the Transvaal and later in the Orange Free 
State, whereupon De Wet point blank refused to go to you. Since then bloody encounters occurred 
in Transvaal and Free State and many have been killed and wounded. Even yesterday a battle took 
place at Virginia with considerable losses on both sides. We feel that, however much we desire peace 
on an honourable basis and to avoid further bloodshed, the military position has become too serious 
to sanction the proposed conference ; even now we do not know whether this is not again an attempt 
to gain time. To his commando he openly scoffs at these negotiations, and asks his burghers why the 
Government is so desirous of negotiating with rebels, and he assures the poor misguided people that 
both yourself and General Hertzog are with him ; and as no word from you to your people has publicly 
gone forth advising them and pointing out their duty, your silence, however well meant, is taken by 
many as approval of De Wet's attitude and allegations. The Government has made its position clear 
by the issue of a notice containing the terms on which rebels who voluntarily surrender will be 
treated. To such an extent is public feeling embittered that great dissatisfaction exists among the 
loyal burghers on account of the leniency of these terms, and the Government feels that the position 
is likely to become still worse and more fatal than it is to-day if the rebsls are to be allowed to extort 
peace terms from the Government. Unconditional surrender on the basis of the Prime Minister's 
conditions is necessary, on the understanding that there is at present no intention to apply capital 
punishment in the case of the leaders. 

While we cannot, therefore, consent to grant a safe-conduct, there is yet every probability that 
General De Wet has met or will meet General Beyers to-day, and that they will therefore be able to 
exchange views and, if they so wish, to approach the Government, We extremely regret having to send 
this reply to your telegram, but looking to the present position, the manner in which it arose, and 
the security for the future peace of South Africa, there seems no other way open to us. 



78 

[52] 
Steyn to General Smuts. 

18th November. — Your telegram to hand. The contents thereof are very disappointing, but as 
the responsibility rests with the Government, it is not for me to judge its attitude. More especially 
is the matter disappointing to me, because, on a former occasion, after bloodshed had already taken 
place, the Government was yet able to find a peaceful solution. Allow me to remark that the facts 
as set forth by you do not clearly show the course of events. General Beyers told me that he would 
come if General De Wet came, but before General Hertzog and Colin could reach De Wet an attack 
was made on General Beyers by the Government, although I had requested that nothing should be 
done to render the negotiations more difficult. 

This action against General Beyers has undoubtedly influenced De Wet in his attitude. As it was 
on General Botha's request that I intervened, his attack on General Beyers was a disappointment to me. 

I am convinced that this attempt to restore peace was really meant, and was not merely intended to 
gain time. Your information re what General De Wet told his burghers about Hertzog and myself 
cannot be correct, because General De Wet would not tell an untruth. I am also suprrised that you 
make remark about my silence, since directly after the treachery of Maritz I communicated my 
attitude to General Botha, and more especially as you let me know twice through Colin that you did not 
think it desirable that I should say anything at first. 

Nobody could impart to my silence the meaning yon indicate, as my efforts to bring about peace 
were generally known. To say anything now after matters have taken such a course would be more 
easily misconstrued than my silence. I tried honestly and sincerely' to ward off disaster from our 
country. I have no power to act. I can only give advice, and this is not always accepted. For the 
present, I shall remain quiet, but if I could be of any service to my people at a later date, my services 
are at your disposal. 

I am sending Brand Wessels to Generals De Wet and Beyers with a copy of your telegram, so that 
they may know contents and if they wish to do so may open negotiations direcc with the Government 

Please issue instructions at once so that Wessels may be allowed to do this. 



[53] 
General Smuts to His Honour President Steyn. 

19th Novemb< r. — I extremely regret that you should have viewed my reply in the way you did. 
It was by no means my intention to make recriminations which, under present circumstances, would be 
out of place, but to make clear the reasons why your request for safe-conduct could not be acceded to. 
I did not understand either from the course of events or from Colin that General De Wet was 
influenced by the fighting which took place in Rustenburg and Lichtenburg. Your request that we 
should not take the offensive in the Free State was given effect to until it was virtually too late and 
the massing of large rebel commandos in Free State had made civil war practically unavoidable. 
The collision between Cronje and General De Wet near Doornberg was, of course, on both sides a mere 
accident, but proves the impossibility of avoiding conflict when commandos are opposed to each other 
in the field. If you compare the date of General Botha's letter to you with that of General De Wet's 
final refusal to attend conferance at Onze Rust, you will see with what patience we on our side have 
acted. And it will always be a matter for sharp criticism of the action of the Government that, whilst 
they were in a position to prevent it, they allowed General De Wet to take undisturbed possession of 
the whole of Northern Free State under the pretext of carrying on private negotiations. Our action 
was due simply and solely to our earnest desire to save the honour of our people and to avoid the 
calamity of a civil war. Where our efforts have 6o fatally miscarried it would be criminal indeed to incur 
the same risk, especially as we know nothing first hand as to General De Wet's attitude but are asked 
to act only on hearsay, which does not tally with his own authentic public speeches at Vrede and else- 
where. 

I am grieved to learn from your telegram that you seem to be under <he impression that we were 
reproaching or accusing you. My sole object was to make it clear that the public is not in possession 
of the information we have, and that owing to your silence many are falling into error. It is true I 
told Colin that, under the present circumstances, more good could be done by personal discussion with 
General De Wet than by public statements and that a statement could be left in abeyance until you had 
seen De Wet, but I also understood from Colin that, if the conference failed, you would probably seek 
other means of advising the people. And this was also to be expected, as"acts of rebellion were 
committed by prominent leaders of our Africander people under circumstances which made it the 
sacred duty of all other leaders to make their position perfectly clear not only privately, but also in 
respect of the whole nation^ 

I regret that no safe-conduct can be given to Brand Wessels, but if you wish it the Government 
will send a copy of my last telegram to Generals De Wet and Beyers for their information. 



[54] 
Steyn to General Smuts, Pretoria. 



20th November.— Hearty thanks for your kind telegram. A blind fate seems to be steering all 
plans into confusion. The refusal of the Government to allow conference shatters at one blow yet 
another plan to bring about peace. By the refusal to grant Brand Wessels safe-conduct a powerful 
influence for peace on General De Wet has been taken away. The policy of the Government re German 
South-West Africa at first sealed my lips. The present policy to administer inexorable punishment 



79 

prevents my speaking, as 1 know that such policy will plunge us into even greater misery than v/e are 
now enduring. Though a leader no longer yet at the same time I may not violate my conscience. It was 
not my intention to accuse the Government and yourself, least of all, of having acted hastily in the Free 
State, neither do I wish to excuse General De Wet's attitude. The time gained by him was, however, 
also made use of by the Government to concentrate large forces in his vicinity. No one appreciated 
your attitude more than I did. My request to refrain from anything which might have impeded 
negotiations did not apply to the Free State merely, but also to the Transvaal. The collision between 
De Wet and Cronje was on the part of Cronje no mere accident, for General Hattingh coming as he 
did from General De Wet on his way to me, knew that De Wet was not aware of Cronje's presence at 
Doornberg. Hattingh sent a request to Cronje through the latter's Veldkornet Botha to withdraw or 
keep out of the way and begged him to grant us two days longer to endeavour to bring about peace. 
This request was not granted and the fight then took place. I would again request you to consider 
neither the above nor anything else I have written as a reproach or as a criticism of your policy or 
actions. My object is merely to lay my heart bare to you and thus prevent my attitude from being 
misconstrued. I am merely doing what I consider to be my duty. Should I have a wrong conception 
of it I shall have to bear the blame. As regards the dispatch of a telegram by you to De Wet and Beyers 
I may say that I do not expect the result would be the same as when brought to De Wet by Brand 
Wessels, who was employed by me on a former occasion in connection with these negotiations and 
whose influence with De Wet forms a favourable element in the direction of peace. 



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