Ten Years' Captivity in the Mahdi's Camp 1882-1892

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Language: English
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PREFACE.

FATHER OHRWALDER.

After the fall of Khartum in January 1885, various attempts were from time to time made to effect the release of some of the European prisoners who had fallen into the Mahdi's hands during the early stages of the Sudan revolt.

These attempts were for the most part attended with little result. The causes of their failure, and eventual success in one instance, are fully described in the following personal narrative of Father Ohrwalder.

As Father Ohrwalder is the first European who has escaped from the Sudan since 1885, I was fully occupied with him during the few days immediately following his arrival in ascertaining, for official purposes, the actual situation in the Sudan, and that completed, we had many interesting conversations on the historical events which had occurred in these revolted districts during the last ten years.

Having but recently completed a resumé of these events, which had been largely compiled from the statements of natives who had escaped, I was not unnaturally desirous to verify, by the independent witness of Father Ohrwalder, the accounts which they had given, and I further begged Father Ohrwalder to carefully read over the book and point out the errors. It was with considerable satisfaction that I learnt from him that the facts had been faithfully recorded; but the flood of light which he was enabled to throw on many obscure passages, and the great interest attaching to the narrative of an active participator in so many of these now historic occurrences, induced me to suggest that he should set to work, while the memory of these events was fresh in his mind, to write a personal narrative of his varied and terrible experiences, of which the general public have hitherto learnt but the bare outline.

It should be borne in mind that the circumstances under which Father Ohrwalder lived in the Sudan precluded him from keeping any written record of his life; it was therefore agreed that I should supervise his work which, I need scarcely add, it has given me great pleasure to do. Father Ohrwalder's manuscript, which was in the first instance written in German, was roughly translated into English by Yusef Effendi Cudzi, a Syrian; this I entirely rewrote in narrative form. The work does not therefore profess to be a literal translation of the original manuscript, but rather an English version, in which I have sought to reproduce accurately Father Ohrwalder's meaning in the language of simple narration.

England and the British public in general have shown so much interest in the stirring events which have occurred in the Sudan, and in which many gallant British officers and men have lost their lives, that it is Father Ohrwalder's desire that the narrative of his experiences should be published in the first instance in England, as his modest tribute to the nation which struggled so gallantly, and so nearly successfully, to effect the relief of Khartum and the rescue of those unfortunate Europeans who, like himself, had fallen into the hands of a cruel and merciless enemy....