Letters from Ladysmith

Eyewitness Accounts from the South African War

Date Published :
July 2011
Publisher :
Frontline Books
Editor :
Edward Spiers
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781848325944
Pages : 208
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Edward Spiers, a leading authority on the Victorian British army, presents here a select edition of letters from the siege of Ladysmith (1899–1900) that have not been seen since their original publication in metropolitan and provincial newspapers. The 250 letters were published in different British newspapers and provide crucial insights into contemporary perceptions of the battles that preceded the siege, the onset of the siege itself, and the desperate and bloody attempts to relieve the town.

Subsequent efforts to defend Ladysmith – and to march to its relief – became the great dramatic saga of the early phase of the Anglo–Boer War, providing the context for a series of dramatic battles that embarrassed the Empire and destroyed established reputations. Much has been written about the failings of the British commanders but it is clear that in no other theater in the war were the practical difficulties so real – or the stakes so high.

These letters reflect vividly the feelings of junior officers and other ranks as they struggled to cope with the demands of modern warfare. Their eyewitness testimonies provide firsthand commentary upon the events in Natal that shattered the prewar confidence in Britain.

About The Author

EDWARD M. SPIERS is the Professor of Strategic Studies at the School of History, University of Leeds. He is the author of several books and articles on military history, including _Letters from Ladysmith_ and _The Late Victorian Army_, and co-editor of _A Military History of Scotland_ which won the Saltire Prize for the best book on Scottish history in 2012.


“The war correspondents were censored but letters home were not …a much more relevant personal and very different view of the events than a traditional military history book. Researchers would be very fortunate indeed to find a letter written by an ancestor, but may find one from the same regiment as individual who was in the same battle or part of the siege itself. This book includes an extensive bibliography of other materials about the siege and the battles surrounding it.”


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