Title page for ETD etd-11102010-140632


Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Meijer, Jan Willem
URN etd-11102010-140632
Document Title Generaal Ben Viljoen, 1868-1917 (Afrikaans)
Degree DPhil
Department History
Supervisor
Advisor Name Title
Prof O J O Ferreira Co-Supervisor
Prof F Pretorius Supervisor
Keywords
  • Anglo-Boereoorlog
  • grenspionier
Date 1994-04-03
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
AFRIKAANS: Benjamin Johannes Viljoen is in 1868 in die Oos-Kaapse grensgebied gebore. In sy jeug is sy karakter en lewensuitkyk in die tradisie van die grenspionier gevorm.

Jonggetroud het hy in 1889 na Krugersdorp in die ZAR verhuis. Hy het 'n rol in die openbare lewe as joernalis, politikus en veldkornet begin speel. Hy was betrokke by die oprigting van "De Volksvereeniging" en die Krugerdorpse Vrywil¬ligerkorps. As 'n aanvanklike aanhanger van Joubert, het hy Kruger later ondersteun.

In 1899 is Viljoen as lid van die Tweede Volksraad verkies. In dieselfde tyd is hy ook tot Spesiale Kommandant van Johannesburg benoem. Met die mobilisasie voor die uitbreek van die Tweede Anglo-Boereoorlog het hy in September 1899 met sy kommando na die Natalse grens vertrek, waar hy aan die gevegte by Elands¬laagte en Vaalkrans deelgeneem het.

In Mei 1900 is Viljoen met sy kommando na Johannesburg oorgeplaas. by Donkerhoek in Junie 1900 is hy tydens die reorganisasie van die tot generaal benoem. Hy moes die agterhoede van die terugvallende beskerm. Na die ontbinding van die strydmag in September 1900 het aantal burgers deur Oos-Transvaal na Pietersburg gelei.

Na die slag Boeremagte kommando's hy 'n groot As Assistent-Kommandant-Generaal was Viljoen gedurende die guerrillafase van die oorlog vir die gebied noord van die Delagoaspoorlyn tussen Pretoria en Mosambiek verantwoordelik. In April 1901 het hy ternouernood aan 'n groot¬skaalse dryfjag deur die Britte ontkom. In Januarie 1902 is hy in 'n hinderlaag naby Lydenburg gevange geneem en na St. Helena verban.

Na die oorlog het Viljoen na Suid-Afrika teruggekeer. Vanweë 'n verskeidenheid redes het hy nie kans gesien om daar 'n nuwe bestaan te maak nie. Na sy deel¬name aan die Boerevertoning in St. Louis in die VSA in 1904, het hy 'n aandeel gehad in die vestiging van 'n Boerekolonie in Mexiko. Na 'n jaar het hy hom in Nieu-Mexiko gevestig waar hy in 1917 oorlede is.

Viljoen het sy hele lewe 'n grenspionier gebly, wat veral in sy individualisme gemanifesteer het. Hy was flambojant van geaardheid, romanties, behulpsaam en lojaal. Sy lewenslot het egter té hoë eise aan sy leierskap gestel. Sy individualisme het hom belemmer om in 'n grotere georganiseerde eenheid te funksio¬neer. Viljoen was die skrywer van 'n aantal boeke oor die Anglo-Boereoorlog en die Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis.

ENGLISH: Benjamin Johannes Viljoen was born in the East-Cape border district in 1868. His character and outlook on life were formed in the tradition of the moving frontier.

Shortly after his marriage he went to Krugersdorp (Transvaal) in 1889. He played a role in public life as a journalist, politician and fieldcornet. He took part in the establishing of the political organisation "De Volksvereeni¬ging" and a military volunteer corps at Krugersdorp. Initially a follower of Joubert, he became a Kruger supporter afterwards.

In 1899 Viljoen was elected to the Second Volksraad. At the same time he was appointed Special Commander of Johannesburg. In September 1899 he led his commando to the Natal border, where he took part in the battles at Elandslaagte and Vaalkrans in the first months of the Anglo Boer War.

During May 1900 Viljoen and his men were transferred to Johannesburg. After the battle of Diamond Hill in June 1900, Viljoen was appointed as general during the reorganisation of the Boer army. He had to protect the rear of the retreating Boer forces. After the resolving of the Boer army in September 1900, Viljoen led a great number of his men to Pietersburg.

During the guerrilla war Viljoen was Assistant Commander in Chief and respons¬ible for the territory north of the Delagoa railway between Pretoria and Mozam¬bique. In April 1901 he barely escaped a huge British round-up. Viljoen was ambushed near Lydenburg in January 1902 and eventually banished to St. Helena.

After the war Viljoen returned to South Africa but, owing to various reasons, he did not see his way in building a new life there. Viljoen took part in the Boer War display in St. Louis (USA) in 1904 and eventually he went to Mexico where he participated in the establishing of a Boer Settlement. After a year he went to New Mexico where he died in 1917.

His whole life Viljoen was a frontiersman. This became clear especially in his individualism. He was flamboyant, romantic, helpful and loyal. His destiny however overrated his ability as a leader. His individualism hampered him to co-operate in a bigger organized unity.

© 1993 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Meijer, JW 1993, Generaal Ben Viljoen, 1868-1917, DPhil thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-11102010-140632/ >

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