Tuesday 17th of December 2002 07:50 AM 
Statistics from the South African War

11 October, 1899 - 31 May, 1902.

United Kingdom
(including Northern Ireland)
243 996 km2

Orange Free State (modern-day Free State)
130 525 km2

Transvaal (South African Republic or Z.A.R., now broken up into a number of provinces)
287 997 km2

Cape Colony (now broken up and excluding Bechuanaland: modern-day Botswana)
668 220 km2

Natal (modern-day Kwa-Zulu Natal)
91 611 km2

United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland)

45.5 million (1901 census)

Transvaal (White Inhabitants)
approx. 300 000 (no census until 1904)

Orange Free State (White Inhabitants)
approx. 145 000 (no census until 1904)

Cape Colony
approx. 579 000 (Based on 1904 census)

approx. 97 000

220 000 000 (16.5 million for post-war repatriation).


Grand Total

448 435 (Figures from Official History)
(see Table 1. below)

Breakdown of Grand Total (to nearest 500)
Regulars (including Reservists)
256 000:
Cavalry: 27 000;
Artillery: 21 000;
Infantry: 175 000;
Staffs and Others: 33 000
At the outbreak of the war the Regular white troops = 227, 000. About 126, 000 Regular recruits joined the Army during the war, the net annual gain being 13, 500 over the previous seven years.
The Reservists = 83, 000. These men were liable to recall from civilian life for up to nine years and their fitness for military service varied, as did their girth, causing quite a few 'kitting-out' problems.

These were attached to Regular battalions as reinforcements. Their engagement was for six years and they had to attend an initial six weeks' training period and a 28 day camp each year. Over half the Militia were youths under 19 who intended joining the Regulars when they had reached the required medical standards. About 105 000 joined the Militia in the South African War.

Yeomanry and Volunteers
The Volunteers and the Yeomanry were originally to be employed only for home defence, but in January, 1900, to circumvent this restriction, new units were formed out of existing ones, being known as Imperial Yeomanry. These troops were usually keen amateurs and had little or no proper training. About 92, 000 enlisted in these formations.

Table 2
Recruitment to the British Regular Army 1899-1902
UK Flag Recruits with no previous military experience Recruits from the Militia Recruits from the Volunteers Imperial Yeomanry TOTAL
1899 23, 259 16, 396 3, 045   42, 700
1900 43, 992 23, 165 20, 962* 10, 242 98, 361
1901 28, 516 15, 662 14, 221** 17, 252 75, 651
1902 30, 507 18, 994 8, 300 7, 239 65, 040
TOTAL 126, 274 74, 217 46, 528 34, 733 281, 752
* of which 14 559 on one-year engagements, including 1 664 CIV
** of which 6 776 on one-year engagements

General Annual Return of the British Army
, 1902, (Cd. 1496, 1903), and 1903 (Cd. 1904, 1904)

South African Constabulary
8, 500 including over 1, 200 raised in Canada

Colonial Troops
Over 29 00:
16, 363 Australians;
6, 400 New Zealanders, and;
6000 Canadians.

Raised in South Africa
approx. 52, 000

Minimum Official Age for Service Overseas


There are discrepancies between the Official History and The Times Vol VII, whose figures are shown in brackets.

Killed in Action or Died of Wounds

7, 582 including 712 officers (7, 894; 706 officers).

Died of Disease
13, 139 including 406 officers (13, 250; 339 officers).

Total Casualties from all Causes including Wounded:
52 150

Total Deaths
20, 721 (21, 942, but including 800 accidental).

Highest Regimental Casualties:
2nd Royal Lancasters; 11 officers, 128 other ranks (at Spion Kop and the relief of Ladysmith).
2nd Royal Highlanders (Black Watch); 12 officers, 119 other ranks (Magersfontein and Paardeburg).
(both regiments served from Nov. 1899 to the end of the War)

South African Forces Killed

1, 473 including 119 officers

South African Forces Died of Disease
1, 607 including 69 officers

Australians Killed
See statistics at bottom of page.

New Zealanders Killed

Canadians Killed
Go here for a list of the Canadian casualties in the South African War

Strangest Casualty Statistics of the War
1st Connaught Rangers; no officers but 58 other ranks killed.


Grand Total Engaged
87, 365 Official History.

Forces in Field
20, 779, 3, 574 of whom were rebels and 140 were foreigners. June 1902.

The Official History figures for combatants is unsatisfactory, leaving about 20, 000 unaccounted for. It is improbable that more than 10, 000 either surrendered and returned home, or went into exile in Mozambique, thus The Times total of 65, 000 having fought with the Boers seems a more reasonable estimate.

Killed in Action
4000 estimated (Official History gives no figures for this category.)

Boer Prisoners (in camps, mainly abroad).
26, 000. June 1902.

Boer Ex-Combatants (on parole, in refugee camps or died).
7, 347. June 1902

There is a great deal of contention concerning the statistics of the concentration camps. It is quite possible that these figures may be erroneous. As the site progresses, I will be including estimates from other sources, both Boer and British.

1902 Average Population
114, 000 (approx.) of whom about 95, 000 were women and children.

It is estimated that more than 25, 000 Boer inmates of these camps died between September, 1900 and June, 1902. Most of the deaths occurred in the early part of this period.

Native Population
100, 000.


Personnel Sent to South Africa
386 081.

Horses Sent to South Africa
352, 864 (Of which over 280 000 were remounts)
73, 000 from U.K;
97, 000 from USA;
45, 000 from Austria-Hungary;
26, 000 from Argentina;
25, 000 from Australia;
14, 000 from Canada and;
approx. 3000 from India.

Costs per Cob and Horse Average (in ).
U.K. 29-43,
USA 17-25,
Hungary 25-30,
Australia 10-14,
Argentina 8,
Canada 25-30.

Mules Sent to South Africa
104, 000,
Over 75, 000 from USA costing approx. 12-15 each;
20, 000 from Spain costing approx. 20 each, and;
8, 000 from Italy at 20-22 each.

Stores Sent
1, 374 million tons exclusive of troops' equipment etc. accompanying them or supplies from outside United Kingdom.

Ships Engaged
1, 027.

Click here to read the Times and Cape Times Shipping Reports


Number Ex-Australia
New South Wales
6, 327

3, 592

South Australia
1, 534

Western Australia
1, 237

2, 813


Killed in Action/Missing Presumed Dead

Dead of Wounds

Total Battle Deaths

Total Non-Battle Deaths

Total Deaths

Wounded in Action

Prisoners of War
Figure not Available

Total Battle Casualties

Total Non-Battle Casualties

Total Casualties
1, 161

Belfield. The Boer War. London: 1993.
Murray.Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa. Sydney: 1911.

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Further Reading

Richardson, Wodehouse. With the Army Service Corps in South Africa. London: Richardson, 1903. DT931.3R52.

White, William R. "With the British in South Africa: Supply Problems of the Boer War." QM Rev 11 (Jan-Feb 1932): p. 20. Per.


Girouard, E.P.C. History of the Railways During the War in South Africa, 1899-1902. London: HMSO, 1903. DT935G57.

Great Britain. Royal Commissions. Detailed History of the Railways in the South African War, 1899-1902. Chatham: Royal Engrs Inst., 1904. UC315G71D47.

Rimington, M.F. Horse in Recent War. Dublin: Mil. Soc. of Ireland, 1904. UC600R574.

Schofield, G.P. Report on Steam Road Transport in South Africa. London: HMSO, 1903. UC345G71S36.

»»Other Support/Services

"Deeds of the Royal Engineers." Royal Engineers Journal. (Jun 1917): pp. 249-56. Per.
(Ref: 23d Co, Royal Engrs at Ladysmith.)

Hippisley, R.L. History of the Telegraph Operations During the War in South Africa, 1899-1902. London: HMSO, 1903. DT935H56.

Mitteilungen, des Ingenieur-Komitees, ed. Die Royal Engineers in South African Kriege, 1899-1902. Berlin: Sellist Verlagdes Ingenieur Komitees, n.d. DT931.3P97.

Rowe, Kenneth. The Postal History of the Canadian Contingents in the Anglo- Boer War, 1899-1902. (Handbook #1 1981), Toronto: Vincent G. Greene Philatelic Research Foundation, 1981. 104 pp.

»»Medical Services
The Ghastly Blunders of the War: A Guide to the Report of the Red Cross on the South African War, 1899-1900. London: Daily Mail, 1901. DT930H2G42.

Bowdler, C. Report of the Commissioner on the Mobilization of the Brigade for Service in South Africa, 1899-1900. London: Cull, 1900. 30 p. UH319.1899/1902.S14.

Bowlby, Anthony A., et al. A Civilian War Hospital. London: Murray, 1901. UM115.1899/1902.C5.

British Red Cross. Report by the Central British Red Cross Committee on Voluntary Organizations in Aid of the Sick and Wounded During the South African War. London: HMSO, 1902. 209 p. UM115.1899/1902.R42.

Burdett-Coutts, William L. The Sick and Wounded in South Africa: What I Saw and Said to Them and of the Army Medical System. London: Cassell, 1900. 260 p. UM115.1899/1902.B8.

Canadian Red Cross Society. First Report, Canadian Red Cross Society, Canadian Branch of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War: South African War from October 21st, 1899, to June 1st, 1902. n.p., n.d. 80 p. UH319.1899/1902/R31.

Fremantle, Francis E. Impressions of a Doctor in Khaki. London: Murray, 1901. 549 p. UM115.1899/1902.F7.

Great Britain. Royal Commission on South African Hospitals. Report of the Royal Commission Appointed to Consider and Report Upon the Care and Treatment of the Sick and Wounded during the South African Campaign. London: HMSO, 1901. 76 p. UH319.1899/1902.A4.

Hay, Ian. One Hundred Years of Army Nursing. London: 1953.
Publisher's details unavailable.

Royal Commission on the War in South Africa. Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Royal Commission on the War in South Africa. 3 vols. London: Wyman, 1903. DT930G7.
[See pp. 152-71 and 472-508 of Vol 1; pp. 1-9 and 472-74 of Vol 2; and pp. 266-67 of Vol 3.]

Makins, George H. Surgical Experience in South Africa, 1899-1900. Phila: Blakisten, 1903. RD96.3M3.

One Who Knows [anon. author]. The Army Medical System: What It Is, Is Not, and Ought to Be. London: Sands, 1903. UM57053.

Pagaard, Stephen A. "Disease and the British Army in South Africa, 1899-1900." Mil Affairs 50 (Apr 1986): pp.71-76. Per.

Portland Hospital. Staff. A Civilian's War Hospital. London: Murray, 1901. UM200.38P6.

Ryerson, G. Sterling. Medical and Surgical Experience in the South African War. Toronto: Toronto Clinical Society, 1903. UM115R9.

Schmitz, Christopher. We Too Were Soldiers: Experiences of British Nurses in the Anglo-Boer War.
Other details unavailable.

Simpson, R.J. The Medical History of the War in South Africa: An Epidemiological Essay. London: HMSO, 1911. 236 p. UM115.1899/1902.S5.

Sister X [anon.author]. The Tragedy and Comedy of War Hospitals. London: Murray, 1906. 185 p. UM115.1899/1902.T7.

Stevenson, W.F., [ed] Report on the Surgical Cases Noted in the South African War, 1899-1902. London: HMSO, 1905. UM115S7.

Summers, Anne. Angels and Citizens. British Women as Military Nurses 1854-1914. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988.

Thomson, S.J. The Transvaal Burgher Camps, South Africa. Allahabad, India: Pioneer, 1904. UM115.1899/1902.T5.

Treves, Frederick. The Tale of a Field Hospital. London: Cassell, 1900. DT938T73.

Wilson, W.D. Report on the Medical Arrangements in the South African War. London: HMSO, 1904. 395 p. UM115.1899/1902.G72.