Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

Download links will be available after you disable the ad blocker and reload the page.

Khartoum Campaign, 1898 or the Re-Conquest of the Soudan

Download options:

  • 1.39 MB
  • 2.48 MB
  • 1.51 MB




Introductory.—Review of Field.

It is an easier and kindlier duty to set forth facts than to proclaim opinions and pronounce judgments. Before Tel-el-Kebir was fought in September 1882 and the Egyptian army beaten and disbanded, the insurrection headed by the Mahdi or False Prophet had begun. In the disrupted condition of affairs which succeeded Arabi Pasha's defeat by British arms the dervish movement made further rapid progress. To Sir Evelyn Wood, V.C., at the close of 1882, was assigned the task, as Sirdar or Commander-in-Chief of the Khedivial troops, of forming a real native army. It was that distinguished soldier, aided by an exceptionally able staff, who first took in hand the re-organisation and proper training of the fellaheen recruits. By dint of drill, discipline and stiffening with British commissioned and non-commissioned officers he soon made passable soldiers of the "Gippies." The new army was at first restricted to eight battalions of Egyptian infantry, one regiment of cavalry, and four batteries of artillery. Although there were Soudanese amongst Arabi's troops, they were mostly gunners. It was not until May 1884 that the first "black" regiment was raised. Yet it had been notorious that the Soudanese were the only Khedivial soldiers who made anything of a stubborn stand against us in the 1882 campaign. The blacks who came down with the Salahieh garrison on the 9th of August 1882, and joined in the surprise attack upon General Graham's brigade then in camp at Kassassin, were not easily driven off. The large body of Egyptian infantry and cavalry, although supported by several Krupp batteries which, issuing from the Tel-el-Kebir lines, assailed us in front, were readily checked and pushed back. It was our right rear that the "blacks" and others forming the Salahieh column menaced, and it required some tough fighting before Sir Baker-Russell with his cavalry and horse artillery was able to drive them off. In truth, the "blacks" held on long after the main body of Arabi's force had abandoned their intention of driving the British into the Suez Canal or the sea.

The first Soudanese battalion was recruited and mustered-in at Suakim. It got the next numeral in regimental order, and so became known as the "Ninth." Many of the blacks who enlisted in the Ninth—Dinkas, Shilluks, Gallas, and what not—were deserters from the Mahdi's banner, or dervishes who had been taken prisoners at El Teb and Tamai. It has never yet been deemed advisable to enrol any of the Arab tribesmen in the Khedivial regular army. Hadendowa, Kababish, Jaalin, Baggara, and many other clans, lack no physical qualifications for a military career. Their desperate courage in support of a cause they have at heart is an inspiration of self-immolation. But they are as uncertain and difficult to regulate by ordinary methods of discipline as the American Red Indian, and so are only fitted for irregular service. In March 1885 General Sir Francis Grenfell succeeded to the Sirdarship. With tact and energy he carried still further forward the excellent work of his predecessor. Four additional Soudanese battalions were created during his term, and the army was strengthened and better equipped for its duties in many other respects. Sir Francis had the satisfaction of leading his untried soldiers against the dervishes, and winning brilliant victories and, in at least one instance, over superior numbers. He it was, who, at Toski in August 1889, routed an invading army of dervishes, whereat was killed their famous leader Wad en Nejumi. That battle put an end to the dream of the Mahdists to overrun and conquer Egypt and the world. The Khalifa thereafter found his safest policy, unless attacked, was to let the regular Egyptian forces severely alone.

It was shown that, when well handled, the fellaheen and the blacks could defeat the dervishes. Lord Kitchener of Khartoum became Sirdar in the spring of 1892. His career in the land of the Nile may be briefly summarised: first as a Lieutenant, then successively as Captain, Major, Colonel and General, that Royal Engineer Officer from 1882 has been actively employed either in Egypt proper or the Soudan....