Army Transports Fording the Vaal River, South Africa

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tiff scanned file from original glass slide
In 1900 the English made war on the Dutch settlers of South Africa, and conquered them. It was not an easy undertaking, however, to get supplies to the army in the field. The Transvaal ("beyond the Vaal"), which the Dutch held, is rough. It had no good roads, and no bridges. But Lord Roberts' troops must have food and ammunition if they were to stand against the sturdy Dutch. This view shows one method of transportation largely used. Here 12 or 14 oxen are seen hitched in pairs to a single wagon. These oxen were natives to the Transvaal and so were their drivers. Study the face of the Kaffir leading the front team. Several such outfits would make up a wagon train. These trains were guarded by soldiers. When a river was reached, it was forded. When it was too deep to ford at one point a detour had to be made. The scene is valuable to call to your attention the rapid development in our carrying systems. The ox team is an ancient carrier. It has served well its day; but in civilized countries horses and mules are used to pull wagons. Automobiles, trains, and ships do the long-distance hauling. If the British were to send an army to Africa today, its supply transports would be automobiles. In the Great European War, auto trucks even took the places of railways as the carrying system near the battle front. These machines can ford streams, climb over rocks, and carry great loads; and they do it rapidly. Oxen as working animals are interesting to read about. But most of us would prefer to rely on a high power automobile. Observe the yokes. Explain how oxen are hitched to wagons or to plows. Define "Kaffir"; "detour". Keystone ID: 11881 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.