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A total of 21,000 Boers advanced into Natal from all sides.

The only regular uniformed units were the Staatsartillerie of both republics (and some units of policemen such as the South African Republic Police or ZARP).

Having served mainly in India, he had little previous experience of South Africa.

Natal was divided roughly into northern and southern parts by the Tugela River.

Most went to Natal, where the vital port of Durban appeared to be within comparatively easy striking distance for the Boer forces.