Christian de Wet - Encyclopedia




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CHRISTIAN DE WET (1854-), Boer general and politician, was born on the 7th of October 1854 at Leeuwkop, Smithfield district (Orange Free State), and later resided at Dewetsdorp. He served in the first Anglo-Boer War of 1880-81 as a field cornet, and from 1881 to 1896 he lived on his farm, becoming in 1897 member of the Volksraad. He took part in the earlier battles of the Boer War of 1899 in Natal as a commandant and later, as a general, he went to serve under Cronje in the west. His first successful action was the surprise of Sanna's Post near Bloemfontein, which was followed by the victory of Reddersburg a little later. Thenceforward he came to be regarded more and more as the most formidable leader of the Boers in their guerrilla warfare. Sometimes severely handled by the British, sometimes escaping only by the narrowest margin of safety from the columns which attempted to surround him, and falling upon and annihilating isolated British posts, De Wet continued to the end of the war his successful career, striking heavily where he could do so and skilfully evading every attempt to bring him to bay. He took an active part in the peace negotiations of 1902, and at the conclusion of the war he visited Europe with the other Boer generals. While in England the generals sought, unavailingly, a modification of the terms of peace concluded at Pretoria. De Wet wrote an account of his campaigns, an English version of which appeared in November 1902 under the title Three Years' War. In November, 1907 he was elected a member of the first parliament of the Orange River Colony and was appointed minister of agriculture. In 1908-9 he was a delegate to the Closer Union Convention.

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