[BOER WAR] HORATIO HERBERT KITCHENER (1850-1916)
Typed letter signed ("Kitchener"), as General Commanding-in-Chief, South Africa, to His Honour Mr. Schalk Burger, acting State President1, on Commanding-in-Chief, Army Headquarters, South Africa headed paper, 3 1/3 pp., large 2, 22 September 1901, with "Commanding-in-chief, South Africa" frankmark of 23 September to upper left-hand corner (creases along folds, general paper and handling discolouration).
A revealing letter acknowledging Schalk's letter of the 5th September and noting "with satisfaction that Your Honour expresses your desire for Peace. I feel sure Your Honour and the Burghers are aware, from my meeting with Commandant-General L. Botha, that I am equally anxious to terminate the present Hostilities. Discussing pertinent issues:
Concerning a "Despatch of Mr. Chamberlain's"2: "no twisting of words or meaning can make any extract" be interpreted as "equivalent to an Ultimatum".
Concerning "British Troops having been sent to South Africa. Every Independent Power has the absolute right to move its Military Forces in its Dominions wherever the Government of the State may consider advisable, without dictation from another State."
Concerning "preparations having been made, previous to the Declaration of War, and to communications between the Secretary-of-State for War and the Commander-in-chief. Explaining: "It is the duty of a War department to be prepared for any eventuality of the sort, and I should not be surprised to learn, nor should I regard it by itself, as indication any intention of assuming the Offensive, if, after the Treaty of Alliance between the South African Republic, and the Orange Free State was made, some preparatory scheme for war in South Africa was worked out in Your Honour's War Office in Pretoria."
Deducing: "We cannot therefore hide the fact, that without any unjustifiable aggression on the part of Great Britain, the Representatives of the Republics met, and voted by a majority, for war with that Country; the Executive immediately issued an Ultimatum, and followed it up by invading the un-protected British territories on their frontiers, and thus opened the saddest page in South African History."
He continues by saying that "be that the Historical reasons given by Your Honour were the causes that influenced the majority of the Volksraad, and the Executive to their subsequent action" or simply an overiding desire to "wave one flag over the whole of South Africa, under one Africander [sic] government", these reasons are irrelevant if the mutual concern is now peace.
Concerning "the question of Amnesty to Cape Rebels - Traitors to their Allegiance to their Sovereign. Your Honour's Government have not I think set an example of clemency in this respect. You have tried and shot those whom you look upon as Traitors; The commandant-General has threatened, with burning farms, and confiscation of property all those who after surrendering, and taking the oath of Neutrality, do not break that oath, and rejoin his Forces to fight for your cause. Clemency is the perogative of the Ruler of the State, and Your Honour must see that under present circumstances, teh discretion of the Ruler, as regards his misguided Subjects, should be left un-fettered."
Concluding: "It is my fervent prayer that Almighty GOD may so guide Your Honour in these matters, that the Peace and mutual Friendship, on a firm and lasting basis, which Your Honour states you so earnestly desire, may result throughout the Land."