In the early stages of the Boer War, the British suffered three humiliating defeats. The Boers were well equipped with German Mauser rifles and enjoyed an initial superiority in artillery over the British forces in South Africa. On 10 December, the Boers routed a British force of 3,000 at Stormberg. Two days later, at the Battle of Magersfontein, the Boer army repulsed 15,000 British troops. Finally, at Colenso, a small Boer army of 8,000 commanded by General Louis Botha inflicted a severe defeat on the main British contingent, a force comprised of 20,000 troops, commanded by General Sir Redvers Buller. As a result of these reverses, the British government requested additional troops, including cavalry and artillery units, from the dominions.

 

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