project: siege of o’okiep

Garrison Officers

Log Line: ‘A battle that never happened and a siege that ended a war’


True story set in the Northern Cape of South Africa toward the end of the Anglo-Boer War.

In a remote part of the British Empire, on the southern tip of the continent of Africa, the old world was beginning its inevitable crash into the new. The last great Imperial War and era had begun. It would be known as the Boer War. Our story commences in the beginning of the third year of the conflict. Both of the opposing commanders Colonel Shelton and General Smuts basically disobeyed their orders. Colonel Shelton was to protect the diamond and copper mines. Those were his orders.

But when General Maritz destroyed the mission and the surrounding town, he brought over 5500 women and children into the garrison for protection. General Smut’s orders were to reduce the O’Okiep garrison to ruble as quickly as possible. Knowing the war would soon be over, General Smuts did not want to see hundreds, if not thousands, of his Boer troops killed at in a final and most likely senseless battle. The British had two maxim machine guns and he knew the terrible price his men would pay in an all-out attack.

After months of siege, General Smuts felt compelled to launch an all-out attack. It started with a
bombardment in the dark of night. At dawn, with thousands of Boer troops ready to attack and everyone in position, an American buckboard was sited with four men and a large white flag barreling down the valley. It contained two British Officers and two Boer Officers. The war was over. This story is about a final battle that did not take place and a siege that help end the war.
Note: In all of South Africa. O’Okiep is the only place where whites, blacks and coloreds (as people of mixed heritage like to be referred in South Africa), have cemeteries side by side. To this day they share have a common theme of history and respect.

The Siege of O’Okiep is also the only Anglo-Boer War siege in which everyone was fed the same rations and no one died from starvation or disease.