Key moments of the American Civil War and the 1899–1902 South African War and their tragic immediate aftermaths remain powerful features of national memory in both countries. Over the past century, vengeful politicians and ideologues in both have transformed them into formidable stock-in-trade. Second-, third-, and fourth-hand accounts of the alleged churlish manner of the victorious armies, especially soldiers of African descent, were made into combustible timber for reactionary political campaigns. The perceived cruel turns of fate have made their way into literature, stage, and screen. The two wars afforded people of various races and social conditions opportunity to act upon their conceptions of a just society, albeit amid terrible carnage and loss. They also underscored the permanence of the industrial transformation of both countries. In the decades following these two wars most of the black and white agrarian populations discovered that state and agrarian elites had cynically manipulated and then extinguished their aspirations. Most often, for black agrarians, violence was the preferred instrument to pursue desired outcomes. Reconstruction in the American South was a paradox. The Civil War emancipated the slaves but left the entire South, especially upland cotton regions, economically backward. In Louisiana, especially, politicized violence to coerce black labor was pervasive. After the South African War, white violence against rural black people was widespread. Lord Milner’s Reconstruction Administration was more concerned to bring South Africa’s gold mines back into production than to stem the violence. The low-intensity violence of the postwar countryside became the backland route to apartheid.