The Battle Of The Boer War Essay

The Battle Of The Boer War Essay

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Only a few decades after the conclusion of the Crimean War, the Boer War began. Fought from October 11, 1899 to May 31, 1902, the Boer War is considered the first glimpse at the destruction that would be later seen in the First World War (“South African War”). Although strategy was important, such as the detrimental effects of the Boers using guerilla warfare, new weapons were crucial (“South African War”). The Maxim Machine gun was invented in 1885 by Hiram Maxim and quickly revealed its cataclysmic consequences as it could fire at a rate of 600 shots per minute, by far the most deadly weapon of the age (Levy 113-114). Nearly 100,000 lives were lost in the war (“South African War”). However, more than 26,000 were women and children held in concentration camps; the British destroyed farms of the Boers and captured their people, showing some of the first true atrocities of war (“South African War”). By the conclusion of the Boer War, it became difficult to find any glory in warfare as the non-combatant death counts rose.
One poem that reflects the futility of war and was written near the conclusion of the Boer War is Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed”. The speaker describes a man he killed in battle, attempting to justify the reasons why to himself. However, the man killed seems far too much like the speaker for it to be reasonable. In fact, the speaker believes he may have befriended the man had they met under other circumstances. The last stanza demonstrates this with lines 18 to 20, stating “‘You shoot a fellow down/You’d treat if met where any bar is,/Or help to half-a-crown’” (Stallworthy 151). It is clear that shooting a man down simply due to orders is not sensible or honorable, with the infantry shooting one an...


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...ith witchcraft—which demonstrates how frequently Death is called upon. Killing is far too simple. This poem demonstrates that there is no honor left in war; it is nothing more than a game, in which killing is child’s play.
As time passed through history, the public opinion on war gradually was altered from the initially glorious view to a darker, more fearful perspective. With the occurrence of each war, weapons became more damaging, both physically and mentally. By the conclusion of the Second World War, there was no glory left; after years of stab wound, gunfire, cannons, poison gas, and bombs, only dismay and dread remain. Similarly, each poem reflects this change. From the valiant crusade in “Battle of Brunanburh” to the horrific discussion in “How to Kill”, it is clear that the viewpoint on war has changed drastically with the advances in technology.

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