By September, 1899, three years of negotiation between the South African Republic and Britain on the Uitlander question had produced no solution, and although Kruger was forced into making franchise concessions, he found it difficult to reconcile British intervention with the maintenance of the integrity of the Republic. It is clear that his tardiness in bowing to Britain was more than matched by the designs of Imperialists to control or annex the Transvaal. Both Boer and Britain concluded that their aims were irreconcilable and Britain ordered 10,000 troops to South Africa from India,
planning to muster a total force of 22,000 men in the Cape Colony and Natal by October.
British forces were concentrating on the borders of the two republics in September to intimidate and to match the gathering of Republican forces in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The Free State, by treaty and kinship, supported the Transvaal. The two republics agreed to strike before Britain had mustered reinforcements in South Africa. The Transvaal issued a jointly approved ultimatum to Britain on October 8, outlining the Republic's refusal to tolerate British intervention in its internal affairs and demanding the removal of the troops from the Transvaal borders and the complete removal of troop reinforcements brought to South Africa. A satisfactory answer was wanted by 5 o'clock in the afternoon of October 11, 1899. Failure to comply would be considered a declaration of war. When the time expired the first shots of the Anglo Boer War were fired and the Republican forces invaded Natal and the Cape Colony.
By the time war began all Uitlanders who could not obtain or would not accept a permit to remain in the Transvaal had left post-haste. Trains carrying men, women and children travelled through Vereeniging on their journeys to the coast. Men were crammed upright into coal and cattle trucks, while women, children and clergymen crowded into coaches. Some men resorted to bribery to gain places in first class coaches, but they were dragged out at Vereeniging station by officials, vexed passengers and by-standers. Their seats were then occupied by women and children for the duration of the long and arduous journeys southwards.
In his unpublished diary, written with no pretence to literary style as letters to his wife, Jane, Dr. T. N. Leslie records events in Vereeniging; and the following extracts, edited as sparingly as possible, provide a vivid human commentary of the war.
"Out of the 100 men only about 30 remained" at the Central Mine. All but two of the Uitlander women in the mining community had left - they were pregnant. In one 'bogie flat' I counted - in the Vereeniging Station - 145 men jammed together on their way south.
It was not long before "officials came with a list of the