In attempting to chronicle the events
which surround the surrender of Johannesburg, the
mind involuntarily pauses, and a picture, which reminds
one of the fairy-tales of one’s childhood, is
called up in imagination.
In 1886 Johannesburg could only boast
of a few tin shanties the beginnings of
a mining camp; fourteen years later the British troops
marched through the streets of a modern city.
And what has been the history of these fourteen years?
In the history of the older European
nations development and progress are slow, and social
and economic cause and effect can be traced with almost
scientific accuracy. In Johannesburg, however,
ordinary human agencies do not seem to have been at
work. The man who has the leisure at his disposal
to ascertain the true facts of that period before the
war, would present to the world a history so interesting
and fascinating that he would be accused of having
indulged in fiction in his narrative of events.
It would be out of place in this book, however, to
enter into these historical events, and we must confine
ourselves to the details of the period with which this
Ever since the beginning of the war
it was the intention of the Republican Government
to defend both Pretoria and Johannesburg, and had
the outbreak of the war not been precipitated, and
the necessary cannon ordered from France arrived in
time, this would have been done. Even after the
fall of Bloemfontein the idea was not entirely abandoned,
and Commandant Krause was instructed to provision the
Johannesburg Fort and make other necessary preparations.
A promise was made that several cannon would be left
at Johannesburg by the Boers during their retreat.
It was hoped that such defence would retard the British
advance and enable the Boers to recover from the panic
which had seized them ever since the surrender of
Cronje at Paardeberg.
When, however, General Botha on Tuesday,
May 29th, 1900, passed through Johannesburg, Commandant
Krause was ordered to abandon the defence of the town,
to distribute all provisions collected amongst the
families of the men on commando, and to get rid of
all men capable of fighting. These orders were
promptly carried out.
On the following day, Wednesday, May
30th, between ten and eleven in the morning, Major
Francis Davis appeared with a flag of truce and requested
to see Dr. Krause.
At the time the Commandant was at
the fort attending to General Grobelaar and about
500 men who were retreating in the direction of Pretoria.
During the day bodies of armed burghers were continually
passing through the town.
On arrival at his office Dr. Krause
found Major Davis in the company of two old Johannesburg
residents. The latter were dressed in mufti.
Both these men had taken an active part in the agitation
which preceded the war.
Major Davis in soldierly manner addressed
Dr. Krause by saying that he was commanded by Lord
Roberts to demand the immediate and unconditional
surrender of the town, in the name of Her Majesty Queen
Dr. Krause’s reply was very
short: “No, sir, not immediately and not
Major Davis thereupon said that Lord
Roberts had also expressed a desire that the Commandant
should grant him an interview, at which the matter
could be discussed. Dr. Krause assented to this
What the Boers wanted was delay and
if Commandant Krause could delay the forward advance
of the British troops a great advantage would be gained.
Lord Roberts was encamped just above
the Victoria Lake, close to Germiston. On arrival
at the camp Dr. Krause was met by Lord Roberts on
the verandah of the house occupied by him and his staff.
A private interview then took place
between the two officers, at which the terms of surrender
of Johannesburg were agreed upon, and which will be
found in the letter set out hereunder.
The chief reason for an armistice
advanced by the Boer Commandant was that if the British
were at once to enter the town, street-fighting would
undoubtedly take place, as the many armed burghers
passing through the town would only obey the orders
of their own respective Commandants and Field-cornets.
Such street-fighting would be a serious menace to
the women and children and to the other peaceful citizens
of the town. Lord Roberts agreed to this, adding
that he had once, in Afghanistan, experienced street-fighting
and would not like to see it again.
Another incident of this interview
is worth recording, viz. the protest made by
Dr. Krause at the presence of the two civilians who
accompanied Major Davis. Lord Roberts asked for
the reason of this protest, and was informed that,
according to the view of the people in Johannesburg,
these men, through the part they played in the mendacious
political agitation which was carried on prior to the
war, were partly responsible for the war, and further
that he (Dr. Krause) had in his possession a warrant
for the arrest of one of these men for high treason,
issued prior to the commencement of hostilities, and
consequently their presence in the town was looked
upon with a great deal of disfavour and resentment.
Lord Roberts expressed his regret,
and said that these men had accompanied his officer
only because he was told that they would be excellent
guides, knowing the locality and the officials.
The terms of surrender were agreed
to, including an armistice of twenty-four hours.
This delay undoubtedly helped to save the Republican
forces from utter destruction and certainly enabled
General Botha and the other Boer officers to retreat
with their men beyond Pretoria and to collect their
Dr. Krause returned to Johannesburg
after this interview and immediately set about making
the necessary arrangements to carry out his part of
the bargain. A Proclamation was issued, calling
upon all armed burghers and other capable men to leave
the town; all officials were ordered to be in readiness
the next day at the respective offices, for the purpose
of handing over their administration to their successors.
Early the next morning Mr. William
Shawe, the Deputy Sheriff, was dispatched to Lord
Roberts, with a formal letter, confirming the terms
of surrender agreed to at the above interview.
This historical document is, I believe, here printed
for the first time and reads as follows:
“Commander-in-Chief of Her
“Majesty’s troops in South Africa.
“Referring to the verbal
interview I had with Your Lordship this
morning, with reference to the surrender of the
Johannesburg, I now wish to confirm the following
“(a) That all officials and other
Government employees will be treated with the
necessary respect and consideration. On their
behalf I can give Your Lordship the assurance,
that until the surrender is complete, everything
will be done by them to facilitate Your Lordship’s
work, in so far as their honour allows.
“(b) With reference to the protection
of women and children (including the women and
children of Burghers on Commando), that
these persons will not be molested by the troops, Your
Lordship having already given the necessary instructions
in this connection.
“(c) That property will
be protected, also forage, except in so
far as military requirements
“(d) That as regards the 13,000
Kaffirs still on the mines, the necessary precautions
will be taken by Your Lordship: in this
respect the Special Mine Police corps, till now
under my command, will render Your Lordship all
“(e) Enclosed I send Your Lordship
a copy of a notice distributed by me, which speaks
for itself, and from which Your Lordship will
learn that all fighting and armed burghers have been
ordered to leave the town at once.
“(f) It grieves me to have to
inform Your Lordship, that notwithstanding our
arrangement, that no armed men would enter the
town till to-morrow at 10 o’clock, several armed
persons entered the town (evidently without Your
Lordship’s knowledge, and contrary to instructions),
and several of whom are under arrest; one who
attempted to disarm a burgher was wounded, and is
at present in the hospital here.
“Finally, I must request Your
Lordship not to enter the town with too great
a force (for reasons already communicated to Your
Lordship). I shall send some one who will
conduct Your Lordship personally (or the officer
in command) to the Government offices to there
carry out and complete the necessary formalities of
handing over the town. All chief and other
officials have been notified by me of this arrangement,
and they have been ordered to hold themselves
in readiness to hand over their offices to the
persons appointed thereto.
have the honour to be,
On the morning of May 31st, 1900,
the sun rose in his bright winter splendour the
sky was blue, and not a cloud appeared upon the horizon.
Mother Nature seemed to emphasise the darkness and
bitterness in the hearts of the staunch and free Republicans
by her dazzling brightness. The new era had dawned,
heralding the victory of the invading forces and giving
practical proof of the old adage, “Might is
At about 10 o’clock Commandant
Krause received a message from Lord Roberts announcing
his presence on the outskirts of the town (at Denver)
and expressing a desire that the Commandant should
personally come and meet and conduct him to the Government
offices, there to hand over the “keys”
of the city. This request was complied with.
The British were then seen entering the town, headed
by Lord Roberts, Lord Kitchener, and Commandant Krause.
On arrival at the Government offices the different
officials were presented to Lord Roberts, who requested
them to remain in office until they were relieved of
their duties by an English officer.
The surrender of the Golden City was
an accomplished fact!
In conclusion, and as a contrast to
this terrible period for the Republicans, I may here
be permitted to publish a letter written by Lord Roberts
to Dr. Krause, which will show in what manner the Golden
City was previously administrated and afterwards handed
over to the British troops on May 31st, 1900.
“Dear Dr. Krause,
“I desire to express to you
how fully I appreciate the valuable
assistance you have afforded me in connection
with the entry
into this town of the force under my command.
“I recognise that you have had
difficulties of no ordinary nature
to contend with of late, and
any weakness in the administration of the town
and suburbs at such a juncture would doubtless
have been taken full advantage of by the disorderly
element which necessarily exists in an important
mining community. Thanks to your
energy and vigilance, order and
Tranquillity have been preserved,
and I congratulate you heartily on the result
of your labours.
“Permit me also to tender
to you my personal thanks for the
great courtesy you have shown me since I first
had the pleasure
of meeting you.
me to be,