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Since there are many Americans who visit this forum, but few who are also members of the South African Military History Society, I thought it worth publicising the fact that the latest 'Military History Journal' (Volume 15, No. 6, December 2012) includes the following article:

'American who fought in the Anglo-Boer War' (pages 202-205) by Benjamin Brown.

Benjamin Brown is retired from the Foreign Service of the United States. Amongst other achievements, he is a army veteran of the Korean War.

Brett

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Hi again Brett,

I've got a book by Major Frederick Russell Burnham DSO entitled Scouting on Two Continents (Doubleday 1928) and it's about his exploits as an American in Arizona and later on as Chief of Scouts for Lord Roberts. It seems it was very popular as President Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, "I have read it all with enthralled interest" and Sir Rider Haggard wrote, "In real life he is more interesting than any of my heroes of romance". It has a good selection of photographs of from the 2nd Boer War.

Cheers,

John

Edited by azyeoman
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There was something really cool I once read relating to Americans in the Boer war, it was a small group who came from the states to join the Boers, then found it would be easier to join up with a Brit irregular unit... so they did...

Nothing like flexibility.

One of the most Famous Boer generals moved to texas after the war and his family name has been carried on down there....

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Here you go... it was new mexico....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Viljoen

Boer Colony in Mexico

Ben Viljoen was one of the South African refugee officers who formed a farm colony in Mexico with the assistance of Theodore Roosevelt. Help with selecting and negotiating for the property were provided by two men hired by Roosevelt family friend Marshall Latham Bond and the husband of a Roosevelt relative Edward Reeve Merritt. It was located at Hacienda Humboldt in the municipality of Julimes, Chihuahua. [6]


United States and the Boer War Circus

He left for the United States in 1904 along with General Piet Cronjé (of Battle of Paardeberg fame) to take part in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
(St. Louis, Missouri) and the so-called "Boer War Circus" — portrayals
of scenes from the Boer War. After leaving the fair, he settled down in
the US. He separated from his wife, Lenie (née Els), who did not really
want to leave South Africa and married an American woman, Myrtle
Dickerson. Attempts to establish a Boer settlement in the north of
Mexico ended in failure.

Civic life in New Mexico


He returned from Mexico to the U.S. and was instrumental in organising Boer colonies in Doña Ana County at Berino, Chamberino and La Mesa in New Mexico Territory. He became involved in civic affairs throughout the Mesilla Valley, and in 1909 he was granted American citizenship. Viljoen became familiar with both President Theodore Roosevelt and New Mexico Governor George Curry. Viljoen was commissioned as a Major in the territorial National Guard’s First Regiment of Infantry. In 1911, he travelled to Washington, D.C., with Curry and Albert Bacon Fall as part of a delegation promoting statehood for New Mexico. In April and May 1911, he fought with the Mexican revolutionary Francisco Madero at the Battle of Ciudad Juarez.[7] ]].


Viljoen was also influential in agriculture. He introduced new crops
and farming practices to the Mesilla Valley. Viljoen was interested in
the creation of the Elephant Butte Dam and developed irrigation systems for the valley.


For a short while, he was U.S. Consul in Germany, and also acted as military advisor to Francisco Madero until Madero's assassination in 1913. He died in 1917, at his farm in La Mesa and is buried at the Masonic Cemetery in La Mesa, New Mexico.[8]


Perception of Viljoen by the English-speaking press


For an insight of Ben Viljoen during the Anglo-Boer conflicts (as
perceived by the English-speaking press), see the 24 December 1899 New York Times article, "With the Boers at War."

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Ah, yes. back when being a 'soldier of fortune' was considered an appropriate activity for gentlemen and younger sons!

Kipling wrote a story about an American who joins the Boers to be able to field test a new quick firing gun, which he'd designed and hadn't been able to sell to neither his own government nor the British. He gets captured and meets Kipling while in a camp and looking for English newspapers to read. The story is really about the American caricature of the bumbling British gentleman - the officers of the units he fights against - and quite amusing. Sorry, the title has slipped my mind.

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By complete coincidence, I've spoken to a good friend who has an ancestor who fought in the Boer War. Tim's surname is McElcheran, a rare Scottish name, and so far in a good few years he has not found any of that surname in North America who are not descended from the original immigrant who arrived in the 1760s. he has very recently come across another name, which he feels belongs to an ancestor, as the gent in question enlisted and his name recorded as McEleheran, the commonest mis-spelling of the name. MeEleheran was a travel agent [American] and enlisted in Johannesburg. I don't have that date, unfortunately.

30030 Trooper A. W. McElcheran, Johannesburg Mounted Rifles is listed on the Anglo-Boer War website as having been discharged due to illness but I cannot see any information on his service or medal entitlement. Can any member shed any light on where I might most profitably look for this and other information? thanks

Peter



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By complete coincidence, I've spoken to a good friend who has an ancestor who fought in the Boer War. Tim's surname is McElcheran, a rare Scottish name, and so far in a good few years he has not found any of that surname in North America who are not descended from the original immigrant who arrived in the 1760s. he has very recently come across another name, which he feels belongs to an ancestor, as the gent in question enlisted and his name recorded as McEleheran, the commonest mis-spelling of the name. MeEleheran was a travel agent [American] and enlisted in Johannesburg. I don't have that date, unfortunately.

30030 Trooper A. W. McElcheran, Johannesburg Mounted Rifles is listed on the Anglo-Boer War website as having been discharged due to illness but I cannot see any information on his service or medal entitlement. Can any member shed any light on where I might most profitably look for this and other information? thanks

Peter

Ah yes. Years ago I taught Tim how to strip Sniders, Martinis, and Lee-Enfields.

A.W. McElcheran (thus on rolls) was Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant of the J.M.R. Entitlement seems to be Transvaal, South Africa 1901. Previously 751.

The story is "The Captive". Notes here: http://www.kipling.org.uk/rg_captive1.htm with a link to the story.

Michael

Edited by Michael Johnson
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For those of you who are interested in this thread, I highly suggest you read Major Frederick Russell Burnham DSO. He was a freind of President Teddy Roosevelt, Cecil Rhodes, Lt. Gen. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, H. Rider Haggard and Rear Adm. William S. Sims USN among many others. Born in Minnesota, he eventually scouted in the Tonto Basin and elsewhere in the Arizona Territory as well as panning for Gold there. A real adventurer who went to S. Africa and became Chief of Scouts under Lord Roberts. He wrote up his tails in Scouting on Two Continents, which was published in 1928 by Doubleday, Doran & Co. In the front there is a great photo of him with his DSO, British South Africa Company Medal (1897) with bar and QSA with four bars. Although written in a contemporary style and with an obvious narcessisitic bent, it's still a good read and has some wonderful photographs throughout the text. He's one of those 19th century and early 20th century adventurers who seemed to have met everyone and been everywhere and had luck riding on his shoulder.

If you can't be bothered to read the book, then here's his online bio... ; )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Russell_Burnham

Edited by azyeoman
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Well...its nice to see the Americans pick the right side for a change. Mind you, supporting Boers in 1901 was probably like supporting south vietnam in 1967, or south korea in 1950, or Mujahidin in afghanistan in 1980, or Iraq against iran . Hell im suprised America didn't back the Nazis in WW2, it would tie in perfectly with their " how to back the wrong horse" policy of foreign intervention.

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What you mean the right side ?... :-)

Back in 1899 the whole world supported the Boers... other than this Burnham dude...

I did read an account of some Americans who travelled to SA to join the Boers, and when they got there they found it easier to join the Brits... reminded me of a few guys I knew who went to the Balkans in the early 90s and joined whichever side they could... just looking for adventure, not bothered about the politics...

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