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Category: Letters by Smith to his wife Mary Ann, during the Boer War 1899-1900

These letters were written by Smith to his wife, Mary Ann, during the early days of his service in South Africa during the Second Anglo-Boer War. Smith describes his daily life, including details of his living conditions, diet, kit, the manouevres of the British forces, and the loss of human life he witnesses. Key events of the War are described first hand, including the Battle of Colenso, the Battle of Spion Kop, the Battle of Vaal Krantz and the Battle of Johannesburg. Later letters are written whilst Smith is stationed in Kroonstad, the site of British concentration camps to accommodate Boer women and children. Smith describes the destruction of farms and home wrought by both British and Boer forces, and is critical of the decisions made by Generals and leaders of both sides of the conflict.

These letters appear to have been kept as they cover the period of time before Smith started his official war diary. In the letters, Smith requests that Mary Ann keep the letters as historical record. At some point, either Smith or his wife has redacted sections of the text with black ink. It is assumed that these sections included discussion of personal matters, or comment that Smith did not want read after the fact. There are also whole pages, and whole letters missing.

1 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 4 Dec 1899

This letter has several sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. In this letter, Smith writes on the following subjects: a sudden change in destination of the ship to Durban; impending battle at Ladysmith;…

2 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 18 Dec 1899

This letter has several sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. In this letter, Smith gives an account of the Battle of Colenso, which took place on 16th December 1899…

3 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 24 Dec 1899

This letter has several sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. In this letter, Smith gives an account of his experience of events leading up the Battle of Colenso,…

4 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 30 Dec 1899

This letter has several sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. In this letter, Smith writes on the following subjects: the Boer forces fortifying themselves;…

5 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 7-9 Jan 1900

This letter has several sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. In this letter, Smith writes on the following subjects: Smith expecting to move camp soon; hearing gunfire at Ladysmith;…

6 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 10 Jan 1900

This letter has several sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. In this letter, Smith writes on the following subjects: leaving Cheveley Camp, with transport of 13th Hussars and around 25000 men;…

7 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 19 Jan 1900

This letter has several sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. In this letter, Smith writes on the following subjects: marching at night from camp at Spearman Hill; advancing on the enemy…

8 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 22 Jan 1900

Only one torn half page of this letter remains, and Smith writes that they have been in battle for three days and that he is only able to say briefly that he is fit and well.This letter was written when Smith had already begun his previous letter…

9 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 24 Jan 1900

This letter has several sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. In this letter, Smith writes on the following subjects: 24 Jan – Smith hearing that the night raid by the British was successful,..

10 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, 10 Feb 1900

This letter has several sections redacted in black ink, which are assumed to be on personal subjects and not related to Smith’s work in South Africa. In this letter, Smith writes on the following subjects: 10 Feb – plans to attack the Boer forces on early morning 5 February;…